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When Life Hands You Lemons…

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When life hands you lemons… forget about making lemonade. Make lemon meringue pie! Tangy, sweet, deliciousness – THAT is how I choose to live my life!

Work Report:
I’m adjusting quickly and easily to the night shift, thanks to a fantastic support team – my family. Mr. Incredible had a rough start to the week, in order to allow me to load up on sleep before the start of my shift Monday, but he was able to catch up on some sleep thanks to the rest of the fam. His parents and sister live nearby and are INCREDIBLY helpful. Hmmmm… maybe from now on I should refer to them collectively as The Incredibles? Yes, I think so. 😉

So, the big concerns I had before this week started were sleep, eats, and running. How has that all worked out so far?

    1. Sleep: less than what I was getting, but it’s in the 7 – 8 hour range, so that’s actually good. I’ve experienced zero drowsiness while driving home, and been able to fall asleep within 15 minutes of arriving, so that is excellent.

    2. Eats: this has been a bit of a challenge. I’ve not eaten much at all at home this week. Twice, I ate within two hours of waking, and the other two times I only downed a protein drink after running. At work, it’s a different story. I arrive with time to eat my super-duper oatmeal and then I eat every 2-3 hours during the 10.5 hours shift. I’ll have to experiment some to get myself back on my feed at home.

    3. Running: this one turned out easier than I expected. I rearranged my training schedule this week from M/W speed, F/S easy runs to T/Th speed, S long/easy. The only thing I really had to contend with was the guilt I felt at taking time for myself during that first run. After talking to Mr. Incredible and reminding myself that I’m actually getting MORE time with her during her waking hours EVEN WHEN I RUN, I was able to shake that off.

And that leads to the greatest night shift pro – more quality time with family. We’re only four days in, but so far it’s been great!

And now… on to more lemons: today’s run.

First it was a GPS fail. Half mile in, my phone reports to me that I’ve run a mile in five minutes. Well, honey, I’m no Kara Goucher, so I know something’s screwy. I restart my RunKeeper app and try again. Less than a minute in, I’ve apparently run a forty second mile. My HORSE can’t even run that fast!

So, I decide to forget tracking the run and simply proceed on perceived effort. With the battery not being sucked up by my app, I would take pics of all of the snow, ice and frozen ponds.

I turn the camera on and… camera fail. It’s more like storage fail. Not enough space on my phone for more pics because I have over 1,200 photos and videos still waiting for a backup.

Well, then, put the phone up and work on that mind-body connection for my perceived effort run!

Overall, it was a 6.3 mile run to a particular stop sign and back – 1 mile warmup, 4.3 miles hard, 1 mile cool down.

My warmup mile was probably faster than it was scheduled to be, at least I know I had hit the half mile mark in 5 minutes. I was supposed to be warming up at an 11min/mile pace. It was cold, though – lower 20’s without the windchill – so I really just wanted to get warm. Plus, it IS easier to run faster in the cold.

Once I put the phone away, I basically kept myself at the edge of an asthma attack, huffing and puffing and blowing like a winded barrel horse exiting the arena at the Calgary Stampede. For four miles.

There was a lot of inner dialogue going on:

Run hard to that fencepost and then you can take a breather.

Charge up that hill! Lift those knees!

Ok, now just keep the pace on the downhill and keep going.

You can rest at the bottom, but you gotta push it up the next hill!

You can make it to that mailbox. YES, you can!

Skip and dodge the ice like a kid playing hopscotch… Play, have FUN!

Yes, you’re lungs are burning, but do you want to regret not putting extra effort into it, or do you want to collapse in a pool of satisfaction at the end?

Even after pushing hard, I wasn’t really satisfied, though. I’m slower than I used to be. MUCH slower than where I want to be. But that is what drives me – the desire to go further, faster, and be stronger.

Afterwards, baby girl was napping, so I wrapped it up with some stretching, Sun Salutations, plank, side plank and two sessions of 7 minutes with Sima. Yoga is a new endeavor, and I swear, trying to keep up with Sima was about to kill me. Maybe I should be ashamed to admit that about only 14 minutes of yoga, but hey, it is what it is. And you gotta start somewhere, right?

Do you practice yoga? Did you run today? How did it go? How is work treating you this week?

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The Long Run, Week 6: Shawty Droppin’ Mileage Like It’s Hot

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Today is the first day I’ve run outside in two weeks… Shoot, it’s the first time in nearly as long that I’ve really even gotten a good look at the sun, I’ve been working so much. Running on the treadmill so much has had me concerned about losing fitness. I have mixed in some lunges, jump squats and other strength training exercises these past two weeks, but nothing beats the trials of running outside.

I didn’t really know what to expect of the weather today… Haven’t been keeping an eye on the forecast. So, I was pleasantly surprised to awake to a beautifully sunny and shockingly warm day. Tomorrow we will return to yesterday’s freezing temps, but for this day I was granted a glorious reprieve and I took full advantage of it as I frolicked in the sunshine. It felt wonderfully weird.

What didn’t feel wonderful was the brutal wind… and the hills. Being that this is a low-mileage week and my long run was scheduled for only 8 miles, I decided to increase the difficulty by hitting the hills hot and heavy to make up for two weeks on the treadmill. I tackled some of the biggest hills around… A course I haven’t run in over a year.

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I had to drop to a walk quite a few times on the hills, so that dropped my average more than I would’ve liked, but really it wasn’t too shabby for where I am right now. Strength and speed will come later… As long as I stick to my plan! (And as long as I eat right… I skipped breakfast and was running on empty. That upped the difficulty and left me toasted!)

Did you run today? How did it go?

The Long Run, Week 5: I Just Became THAT Girl

You know the one. If you’re reading this, you likely are THAT person, too. And if you’re not, you probably will be before long.

I’m talking about those crazy runner people. The ones running in the dark, that the sane people drive past on their early morning commute. The ones who get up at an ungodly hour to squeeze in a run before their own workday commences.

I used to be the sane one (well, many that know me might not agree much with calling me sane, but never mind that), driving past the crazy runners in the dark. I’ve seen them in movies, dragging themselves out of bed, drinking smoothies, running on oddly quiet streets. I’d wonder over it all and think to myself that I could never manage to get up early enough for much running at all before my own earlier-than-most workday.

I’ve been squeezing in short runs on my strictly scheduled 30 minute lunch break, occasionally fitting one in during an odd lull in work, determined to not cut into my evening time with the family. Finally, my work and running schedules began simultaneously demanding more of me, and I had to bite the bullet. I set my alarm for 3am, got my lunchbox ready for the next day, and despite baby girl’s rough night, I crawled out of bed at that ungodly hour, hauled my butt to the gym and ran 13.14 miles in 2 hours 25 minutes (on the “dreadmill” no less, thanks to snow-covered icy roads). I became THAT runner.

And you know, what? I feel great about it! And the drudgery I normally feel while on the mill was shockingly non-existent today… I’m thinking that may be partially due to a product I’m currently testing. I’m really excited about it and look forward to posting my review (and possibly my first giveaway) once I wrap up testing in a couple of weeks.

But, back to the run. I felt like a well-oiled machine after about a mile and a half into it (usually the distance it takes for me to warm up). I chatted a bit with a few coworkers who visited the gym for a, comparatively, short workout. I managed to keep my competitiveness reigned in and not bump up the speed on the mill when said coworkers began logging miles beside me. I kept going through, ahem, poo pains (mile 10). I kept trucking along despite hunger cramps (mile 11 and onward). The only thing that made me break my pace was a “tweak” I felt behind my right knee. The pain itself was minor, but it concerned me since it didn’t feel like a “good” pain. You know what I mean, right? The difference between “good” pain and “bad” pain? Well, this felt like a “bad” pain, so I mixed in a lot of walking on that last mile. Good thing, too. After talking it over with hubby I realized that he had felt that same twinge a few years ago, pushed through it, injured it pretty badly, and still occasionally feels a bit of pain from it. Sooooo, it looks like I’ll be taking at least a few days off to give it a rest. Don’t want to take any chances, you know?

Did you run today? How did it go? Are you THAT runner? Any running injuries (old or new) to speak of? Any advice for overcoming minor injuries?

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Maintaining Motivation: 5 Tips To Keep You Running

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A recent comment and post from a fellow blogger, Ryan, over atRunning For Change, got me to thinking about some of the best ways that I have personally found to stay motivated to run. I’ve been through recent dry spells, and after analyzing what kept me humming along in the past, what led to my dry spells, and what got me going again, I’ve come up with 5 essential keys to success.

1. Enter a Race
This can’t be just any race. This race needs to be local, or at least within a short enough distance that an unexpected shortage of funds won’t be a hindrance. That doesn’t mean “destination races” are out of the question. It simply means that there needs to be enough local races on the race schedule to keep the momentum going.

Another important consideration for this race is that it needs to have a goal attached to it that is achievable, but requires focused effort in order to reach it. (i.e. longer distance, faster time, or obstacles to conquer)

2. Use A Training Plan
Whether you use a free one, a purchased one, or hire a personal trainer to develop a customized one, a training plan will keep you on track and help you reach your goal injury-free.

For my first three half marathons, I tailored my own training plan after researching plans and tips for several weeks. This got me to my first half under-trained (a good thing) and injury-free, to a PR in my second, followed by another PR in my third. Currently, I’m sticking to a free marathon training plan that I downloaded on my RunKeeper app, and I’m really feeling great about it. If I get the results I’m looking for, I’ll try a second one when I push for that sub 2 hour half marathon later this year.

3. Fuel The Fire
In everything, you get out what you put in. Trash in = trash out. The better you eat, the more you will FEEL like being active. Plus, the more active you are, the more you will WANT to eat right. It’s a wonderfully upward spiral.

4. Social Media
Most people will encourage you to join a running group. My schedule has never really allowed for that. What I have found helpful is using social media to connect with the running community at large.

A combination of blogging about running, following other running blogs, connecting with runners on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, and entering sweepstakes for running gear keeps running at, or very near, the forefront of my mind. I’m encouraged by the trials that are overcome by others like myself, and I’m inspired by their victories. I learn from them how to do what I’ve never before done, and I sometimes even get a virtual pat on the back along the way.

5. Mix It Up
Prevent boredom and burnout by mixing some variety into your training runs and even races. Have you been running the same route for weeks? Explore a new route. Tired of the treadmill? Wake up earlier and hit the roads. Still not doing it for you? Find a trail. Not enough trails near you? Turn your run into a game. Go on a “treasure hunt” – make a list of items to find and snap pics along the way (this is basically what I did on these two posts: The Long Run: Here’s Your sign and The Long Run, A Photographic Journey).

There you have it – a handful of my personal secrets for maintaining motivation. How do you stay motivated? Do you play games while you run? What games do you play?