Sunday, September 23, 2012

That Running Bug

I've mentioned before how I only run when I'm training for a race. I don't really run year-round. I maintain that I'm "a runner" because not too long goes by before I'm looking for another race to train for.

My half marathon is nearly 90 days behind me, and I can feel that running bug biting me again. During my time off from running, I have returned to my other love, heavy weight lifting. I can squat and deadlift  over one hundred pounds again. I love that. I still hope someday to be able to bench press one hundred pounds.

My "cardio" has consisted mainly of HIIT sessions. Mostly treadmill sprints, but also some elliptical and bike work. I much prefer the treadmill and bike to the elliptical. Well, that's not entirely true. If we are talking the Precor Elliptical with the increasing ramp in addition to increasing resistance, I do love that one. The Nautilus one that only has a resistance adjustment is boring.

My trainer mixes up my cardio. Currently, my program has 3 HIITs and 2 steady states. Each are 40 minutes in length. The steady states are "killing" me in the gym. So boring! I think that's part of the running bug returning.

Another part is the cooler weather. It just feels like running weather! I'm excited to lace up and head out for a couple of 40 minute runs this week. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When Did They Start Making Fish Out of Gold?

I bought a $38 bottle of fish oil today. $38. I almost didn't. But I needed it.

I've been using fish oil capsules for several years. The problem with that is that you have to take a ton of them to get to the amount recommended for supplementation. Whereas with oil, a couple tablespoons a day will do you.

I haven't done the math to figure out how long that bottle will last me. But you can bet that I will be using it down to the last drop at that dollar amount!

This has been a week filled with obstacles. My flight being delayed 6 hours and being up 20 hours that day, my car breaking down, not sleeping Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday nights. Please let sleep come tonight.

I'm still living out of a suitcase. I need to get some time to unpack. My first deadline is Monday and there is much to do before then, so I'm working through the weekend.

In spite of all of this, my diet has stayed pretty well on track! There hasn't been enough variety, but at least I've been eating frequently enough and clean enough. I've missed two workouts, though. I'm on a 6 day split and will have 4 of them completed this week. I expect next week to be much better. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

My summer vacation from blogging, that is! Time is flying. And I am flying, frequently. Every day I get up and go to the gym. Except Wednesdays and Saturdays. And now Sundays, it seems. Hmmm...I have to add back in a day.

I lift weights on M, Tu, Th, Fr, and do 30 minutes of HIIT following each weight training session. Wednesdays are steady state cardio days, so I go out on my bicycle. That's supposed to take 30 minutes, but I keep exploring and have it actually take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Sundays were for yoga, but I haven't made it there since I got back from WA the first of August. I should also have a day of functional training in there, but it just dawned on me I haven't been getting that in. I haven't missed it, lol.

So, I get up and ride my motorcycle to the gym. By the time I work out and the time it takes to get there and back, I have used up 2 hours of my day. I come home for a quick shower and breakfast and sit down to "go to work". I work 9-5 Eastern, and keep my phone by me until it's 5:00 Pacific. There are plenty of days when it rings at 7:00 Eastern.

By then, P is home and we either go somewhere or otherwise do chores and whatnot until it's TV time. Tonight we go look at another possible venue for the wedding. Tomorrow night we go on a group motorcycle ride. That ride ends at a park with a waterfall. Unbeknownst to the ride organizers, we will be looking at the park through the eyes of, "Would we want our wedding here?"

I bought my dress and selected my attendants, but I'm holding off on all other planning until I know where and when it will be. We are shooting for late May 2013. We are exploring options where everything is done for us and we just show up, as well as options such as having it in a park and we have to rent things, set them up, take them down, etc. BUT there are plenty of parks that have pavilion houses and restrooms, which would cut down significantly on rental costs.

We want our wedding to be fun, above all else. We want our guests to be comfortable and enjoy themselves. We want to be outdoors, but have a backup plan for fickle May weather. (It once snowed on Mother's Day, I'm told.) So far, we have only seen one place, and while the food was AMAZING and the venue (a rustic barn on an orchard/farm) was beautiful, it was too close to the road for our liking. (Scene: Do you, Sandi, take HONK HONK HONK! VROOM VROOM! wedded husband? Scene ends with Sandi showing disgust on her face.)

I have things to blog about! I have discovered the BEST thing to happen to kitchen supplies since the microwave oven! I will share that tomorrow. Tune in. ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fireworks Will Never Be the Same

I've been ready for my boyfriend to propose to me since October of last year. We would speak vaguely of the subject, most often referring to other people's weddings and what we liked or didn't and what we would like. But we didn't talk it to death. I didn't want to. I wanted to be surprised. I know him well enough to know that he believes in marriage and that it is a life goal.

And so I waited. And waited. All of these occasions that I thought would have been perfect came and went. Most recently, a hike to the top of a waterfall on our 2nd anniversary of dating would have been PERFECT.

Finally I gave up trying to predict those perfect moments. Not really, but I told myself that. I thought a proposal on the fifty yard line of Ralph Wilson Stadium at the end of my half marathon would have been PERFECT. But no. Not it.

And then just like that it was 4th of July. We went to an amusement park that was having big fireworks. We got there after 5:00 and wandered through, eating carnie food and mostly (me) refusing to go on rides. We did go on the gravitron. And I would have done all the water slides, but we left our suits for another day. We played miniature golf there, too. I love it, but I'm terrible at it.

When we went back to the truck to get our chairs we discovered the parking lot was full of people just hanging out. Apparently where we parked was just as good as any spot for viewing. So we set our chairs up right by the truck and waited for about an hour and a half. We entertained ourselves on our phones, playing games and Facebooking. We chatted lightly.

Finally the fireworks started. They were nice ones! We got near the finale, and BF kept asking, "Do you think that was the finale?" and then they would start again. Finally it was very obvious it was the finale. He diverted my attention to speak to me seriously. I didn't get it, and was still trying to turn to watch fireworks. Then it dawned on me the words he was saying, and the intensity in his face. He had my full attention. I was just starting to put two and two together and almost in the same instance, he was on one knee in front of me asking me to marry him. He held out an open box with a ring in it, but it was too dark to see it. Of course I said yes! And the moment he picked was PERFECT.

He is the most wonderful man I have ever met. I am a lucky, lucky girl. And he thinks he's the lucky one. And by the way...the ring he chose is absolutely beautiful. The attention to detail he took in the setting and band are so characteristic of him. He said the diamond was the easy part. :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

50 Yard Finish Race Report

Saturday was FINALLY the big day. After much training and hoopla over the event being "postponed" and then revived, it was race day. I had ridden down to Orchard Park on Friday to pick up my number and T-shirt, so I knew it was going to take me about 50 minutes to get there. This meant leaving the house by 5:15 a.m. and setting the alarm for 4:15. It's been a long time since I had to set an alarm for 4:15!

I arrived and found a bathroom. They had posted that no porta-potties would be available on course. I've never needed one during a race, but somehow knowing they are not an option makes your mind think you're going to need one. While waiting in line, a local was saying there were several gas stations and restaurants along the route, and heck, the locals are so friendly and supportive, you could knock on anyone's door and they'd probably let you in. Good to know.

Outside for some warming up and stretching and it was race time: 7:00 a.m. Only 68 degrees and predicted to go to 87. I was hoping the 87 wouldn't arrive until mid-day, and I ended up getting very lucky. We ran half a mile and turned a corner, straight into the sun. It was just breaking through clouds and I could feel how hot it was on my face and shoulders. I thought, "Uh-oh", and just like that it disappeared behind the clouds and stayed there for the duration of the race. Race conditions were very similar to what I'm used to back home. Still warmer, but it was one day I was actually thankful for a cloudy sky.

I checked my pace frequently. I was running very comfortably at 9:07 at the start. I had expected a flat course, but it was very hilly. They were short hills though, nothing that wasn't runnable compared to where I came from. They were steep enough in some cases to slow pace. My pace was all over the place. 9:00, 9:15, 9:47. At one point there was a very long down hill and I let myself go with gravity and made up at least a minute.

Around mile 4, there was a boy about 8 years old standing at the end of his driveway to high-five every runner. Around mile 7, a man was playing patriotic tunes on his sax. Soon we entered farm country and were passed by a tractor on the road. Two herds of horses, about 30 in total, were startled by us. I've actually seen that in a few races. Horses know what people are but they are very confused at a "herd of people" 500 deep running down the road. They prance and snort, circle and run. Owners come out to catch them and move them or make them stand there and become desensitized.

We were running along the shoulder of various roads. Closer to the stadium, an entire lane had been closed so we had a wide area to run. Once out on the country roads, and the racers spread out, we only had the shoulder. The hills, combined with the cant of the shoulder, made my IT band flare up on the right side about 6 miles in. At that time, I had been right on pace to either match my last half marathon time, or be only 3-4 minutes longer. I toughed it out another 4 miles, my pace creeping well into the 10:00m/m zone, and finally I had to start taking walk breaks to massage out the top of the band  in my hip.

At my first walk break, a young girl with a red ponytail asked me what mile we were on. (I noticed that Garmins aren't as popular here as back home. I saw very few.) "7.5". "That's it?!?" Yup. That's it. Once I was back to running I passed her again, and then she caught up to me on my next walk break. "Are we at 10 yet?" "9.94". "Gah!" lol.

There were water stations every 2 miles. They handed out water "packets"...clear plastic "water balloons". They were palm sized rectangles filled with about 8 oz of water. I had my water bottle with me, mixed with my favorite energy replacer, but needed supplemental water to have enough to make it the whole distance. These little water packs were amazing! So quick to grab, they really sped up the aid stations. You bit the corner to open them, and there was more than enough water to rinse your mouth, take a drink, and squirt a LOT over your neck and shoulders to keep cool. My clothes were drenched at the end because I kept using them to cool off when I was done drinking from them.

I had taken out one of my ear buds so that I could hear the sounds of the race. Intersections we crossed where traffic had been stopped for us had lines of cars all honking their horns in encouragement (yes, I'm sure it wasn't rage). Bicyclists passing cheered us on. Volunteers with flags directing us on our way cheered us on.

Finally we made the last turn and could see the stadium. That was the hardest half mile of the race. You can see stadium...and it's so far way. Finally it gets bigger, and they direct you to go right. We have to find the entrance onto the field. We have to run to the back of the stadium. I'm determined not to walk, even though my IT band is screaming at this point. Another turn to the left and I can see the entrance to the tunnel. And the up hill ramp inside it. At the top of the ramp you can see the green of the field below, the white lines, the red and blue Buffalo logo. My heart soared...I was actually going to run onto the Buffalo Bill's field!

I gained a lot of momentum going down the ramp and I burst out of the tunnel in a sprint with an ear to ear grin. Pain? What pain? Pure adrenaline now. Then I heard something I had not expected and was unprepared for. A voice over a loud speaker said, "Now entering the stadium, number 568, Sandi Parker!" An involuntary reaction took over and both hands shot straight into the air, Rocky-style. I crossed the finish and paced to catch my breath, taking in everything around me.

My time was an abysmal 2:20, a full 14 minutes slower than my best time. That being the case, the awards ceremony was already going on, on the sideline. The winner ran it in 1:21:24. The first woman across the line ran it in 1:38:09. The second woman crossed in 1:40:17 and is the same age as I am. That's flying! :)

I looked around and suddenly realized I was all alone. I had trained alone, run alone, and finished alone. All that exuberance was at once replaced with overwhelming sadness and lonliness. There wasn't a sole I knew there to congratulate me. I marveled at being surrounded by a thousand people and feeling all alone. I sat on the field to stretch and enjoy being there as long as I could, and fought the tears streaming down my face. I took a few pictures, including holding the camera out to take my own finish picture. It was amazing and sucked all at the same time.

I've learned in life to never say never. Yes, that boring cliche really is true. Right now, "I'm never going to run another half marathon. I'll run 5Ks." Rewind to two years ago, and that's what I said then, too. I tried for a half marathon last year, but again had injury issues. My body holds up well around 4-6 miles. So 5Ks and 10Ks are within range. And only take as much training as I want in order to increase speed. And Saturday's 5K had the same finish as the half marathon, on the field. :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Race is Back On!

Lots of irate runners sent emails and called and generally made known their disgust with Rapid Running for canceling the half marathon (plus 5K and 1 mile kids run) scheduled for June 30 a mere 9 days before the event. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, vacation time from work...this race was a Big Deal to a lot of people. And from what I'm reading on forums across the Net, no one could get a detailed response as to why. Nor could they get a refund! They could have their registration fee transferred to another (doomed) Rapid Running race in another city, with, you costs, vacation scheduled, etc.

According to, the day was saved by a gentleman named Dan Horan who runs Eclipse Multi-Sport. He was on vacation when he received the call asking him to be the race director. He returned home early and is busily putting together the race, along with the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission and the Town of Orchard Park (where the Buffalo Bill's  stadium is). In two short days they have put up a registration page, had the course certified by US Track & Field (a feat Rapid Running couldn't pull off, for some reason), AND had the use of the field/stadium DONATED by the Buffalo Bills so that the race can finish on the 50 yard line as planned. I love doers. I am so thankful to all involved in making this race come together!

What about all those pre-registered people who can't get their money back? When they show their proof of registration, they get to run the 50 Yard Finish, as it has become known, for no additional cost. And the rest of us? We get to register for a much more reasonable $50 fee. It was going to cost me $95 under Rapid Running, since I chose to register late, making sure my body would withstand the training.

I did my last sprints this morning. I'll do yoga the rest of the week and maybe a little 2-3 mile easy pace run around Thursday. "Let's Go, Buffalo!"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shocked, but not Surprised

Does that make sense? Can you be shocked, but at the same time not surprised? I'm still sorting out all of my feelings and trying not to be dramatic. I just went to register for my half marathon that is next weekend, and there it is in big, red letters: POSTPONED.

No additional information is available. It says there is more information on the race organizers website, but there is not. It's simply removed from the schedule, as if it were never there. I'm shocked. I worked for this for 18 weeks. I ran in rain. I ran in darkness. I ran in cold. I ran in heat. I ran when I didn't want to run. And just like that, it was taken away from me. Being dramatic for just two sentences: it's as if someone has died, someone that was running with me, looking over my shoulder, for the past 5 months. And now I run alone.

So why am I not surprised? Rapid Running, according to Internet searches I had done back in January, has a bad reputation for canceling races. I had two reasons for not registering early to save a few bucks: 1) Could I stay healthy this time? and 2)Was this race really going to run? I logged in monthly to make sure I didn't see a big, red CANCELED. The schedule (which is a mass schedule for every race within about a 3 hour radius) frequently has "canceled" notices. Today, there it was. Even though it didn't say "canceled", it may as well have. I've emailed the producers to see if they can shed any light.

So what now? Now I just go ahead and pick a new training program like I had planned to start after the race. Get back to heavy lifting, some plyos, some sprints. Get lean. And try to take comfort in simply knowing that I could run 13.1 miles pretty fast.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shane Freels Speaks on Ionix Supreme

Here's a link to a podcast featuring Shane Freels. Shane is a trainer in Texas who has professional athletes and Olympians as his clients. And he feeds them Isagenix.

This call starts by featuring the "Want More Energy" product, which can be compared to "Red Bull" or "5 Hour Energy" for effect. After that, he moves into my favorite product, Ionix Supreme and the difference it makes in your workouts and recovery. The part that spoke to me the most was his discussion on inflammation in the body, because this product has removed the inflammation from my knees that kept me from full squats.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Running in Upstate NY

I arrived in Youngstown on June 6. I have some pictures and a blog to write for the trip across country. Since I can't seem to get to that yet, I thought I should at least update on my training for the Rapid Running Buffalo Half Marathon.

It's hot. And humid. It's wonderful! Except for acclimating for running. Since we've been here, the temperature has been varying anywhere from 78-92, usually in a sine wave during the week. The sun is strong. I was tan after my third run. Not "just back from a week at the beach" tan, but I've lost the Casper tint I arrived with.

I've had to buy more shorts and tank tops. I've gotten to wear sun dresses I've owned and not been able to wear because it was always too cold in Port Angeles. We've had lunch on the Niagara River, on restaurant balconies overlooking the river, seated in the shade with the warmest wind blowing in from the water. That part is heaven! (Not to mention the food! Lewiston has at least 2 restaurants that have been featured on the Travel Channel, and they are taping at one of them again tomorrow night.)

Back to the running. Even at 7 a.m. it's been 30 degrees hotter than I'm used to. My first three runs I had to temporarily give up and walk for a minute or two. I made it 2.5 miles the first time, 4 or 5 the second, and had one successful 6 mile run. But even on the 6 miler, after the first 3 miles I was running a mile, walking a minute. Then running a quarter mile and walking a minute. The funny part is that it's so flat here compared to Port Angeles, my time didn't suffer much at all from the walking. Just my ego. ;)

Yesterday, I set out to run 5 miles with speed intervals. It ended up being a tempo run for the first half, then on the way back I would sprint 45 seconds followed by walking for a minute. It went better than previous runs. I need to get in a 10 miler, then start my taper.

Due to the heat/humidity, I've come to terms with not PRing in this race. I've even given myself permission to "just finish", and had a conversation with myself about how my finisher's medal will be exactly the same whether I run it in 2 hours or 3 hours. I'm going to try very hard to "just have fun with it" and enjoy the experience of being in a completely new area and that grand finish on the Buffalo Bills 50 yard line! :)

In other news, a few weeks ago I started the "Energy and Performance Pak" from Isagenix. The new IsaleanPro is in it, which a post-workout shake with 35 grams of protein. I'm seeing such a big difference in my muscle tone now! Oh sure, I still need to lean out a little more (see above regarding Lewiston's amazing food!), but I've got definition I haven't had since 2009. My shoulders and biceps/triceps have come back, and my quads and calves are now full enough that my big knees don't look so big anymore. lol. I just need to whittle the middle.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Peak of Training: 15 Miles

Yesterday I set out to run the longest run in my half marathon training, 15 miles. A couple of weeks ago, my 14 miler didn't go very well, so I planned this week differently. Scheduling conflicts assisted, and I found that I only was able to get in one of my weight training sessions. Swapping days around would have also put my tempo run immediately before my long run. So I opted out of the tempo run as well. Sometimes, life just happens and you have to roll with it.

Last week I noticed how much better one of my tempo runs went when I had eaten a yam the day before. One whole yam, split into servings across 3 meals. I used to eat yams very regularly, year round. Somewhere along the way I fell out of the habit of them, probably in the interest of aiming for variety. I eat them "clean": no butter, sugar, or anything for that matter. Oh, occasionally I may sprinkle on some salt or cinnamon. But I find them perfectly enjoyable baked in foil until their natural sugars begin to caramelize and escape the ends of the foil. (Place them on the center rack of the oven, but put a shallow pan on the rack below to catch the sugar ooze, or you'll be cleaning your oven more often than you really care to. Or smelling burnt yam every time you bake.) I made sure I ate a yam the day before the 15 miler.

So I decreased my other training and increased my dietary carbs by adding in a yam. One other thing I did: ignored my prescribed pace. I've mentioned before, I'm a part-time runner. I find a race to train for, train appropriately, and then go back to other activities I love until I find another race I want to train for. As a part-time runner, 15 miles is a daunting run for me. I know it's going to be over 2.5 hours of running, darn near 3 if I follow prescribed slow paces for long runs. For me, that's a long time to be running. So while I had a certain "dread factor" of having to do this run, I also had an odd sense of "bring it on!" because I knew it was the longest of the long runs, and after this I go back to 12, 10, 8 as the race approaches. With that in mind, I decided to just run what felt comfortable. Run without looking at my pace watch. Run without caring if I was faster or slower than 10:42 pace prescribed. Honestly, I gave myself permission to do that because I expected to be slower. I planned an out and back course of 7.5 miles each direction and off I went.

It was sunny and 61 degrees at 8:00 a.m. That is VERY unusual for this cold climate. It was such a beautiful day, EVERYONE was out bicycling, walking their dogs, running, rowing on the water, etc. When I first started out, I met a couple of older men on bicycles who were racing each other, then coasting and laughing/talking/enjoying themselves. They passed me a few miles later after they had turned around and were now going my direction, and shouted out some encouragement to me. Many miles later, I met them again, and they guessed I was marathon training. I also ran past a guy I had passed earlier and he gave me a surprised, "I remember you from WAY over there!" LOL.

And here's the funny thing. I felt fantastic! I was full of energy and my legs felt light and I was having a fantastic run. Sneaking glances at my pace watch, I found myself to be averaging 9:50 minute/miles. MUCH faster than prescribed pace. When I was nearly at 7.5 miles, I realized I could be darn close to my last half marathon race time of 2:06. In a training run without race adrenaline! I was stoked! At that point, I decided to skip my "Halfway!" text home that I always send to check-in, and wait until I had run 13.1. I would run the remainder of the 13.1 at the same effort level, then walk/run the final 2 miles. I had a snack in my pocket and everything! It would be perfect. And then everything went south.

I had begun to feel my IT band on the left side talk to me around mile 9. Nothing major, but it was there. Around ten miles, transitions up onto curbs were difficult. I didn't have a lot of ground clearance on the left side. "Almost there, almost there..." And then WHAM! My left foot cramped up so badly, I couldn't run on it. I had to stretch it and walk it off. A couple of minutes of that, and I knew I was done. I looked at my watch: 12.07 miles in 2 hours and 2 minutes. I had it and I lost it that quick. The foot cramp cleared, but the IT band was really angry at this point. I hobbled on for about a mile until the Calvary came and picked me up to take me to my car, which was waiting where I left it at the start.

Surprisingly, I wasn't devastated by this. I've been doubting my training and unsure I could get anywhere close to my previous HM time. I've had a 5K fluke time PR that I haven't been able to duplicate. I was starting to fear that the HM time was a fluke as well. Now I know I'm close! I just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out why I'm having IT band issues now of all times! I'm on the foam roller twice a day now, no excuses, and will do a better job of warming up. I'm hoping that will solve it. I've never had my feet cramp up while running, so that's a new one to figure out. Potassium/magnesium? But why my foot and not a charlie horse in the leg? Things to ponder as I continue the last 4 weeks of training!


What are adaptogens? Adaptogens, along with plyometric training, are how the Russians kicked our butts in the Olympics in the 70s. Adaptogens are how Russian cosmonaughts could handle the stresses of space travel and training. But what are they?

Drawing from Asian and Siberian traditions from centuries ago, adaptogens are botanical extracts that have remarkable traits in reducing stress within the body on the cellular level. Emotional/psychological stress or placing the body under stress as in exercise? Both! They provide an antioxidant benefit as well as aid in muscle recovery (and even stimulate sex drive).

There are a handful of products on the market that contain adaptogens. I use Ionix Supreme from Isagenix, and felt the difference almost immediately when I first started taking it. For more info, check out this link.

Nature's Answer to Stress

And for info that doesn't come directly from Isagenix, check these out:

Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogens: Strength, Stamina, Stress Relief

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unveiling the New Logo! :)

I love my new logo! If you like it too be sure to check out Erin Lak's site:

She is great to work with! Fast turnaround, reasonably priced, and professional. :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Improved Fitness

Yesterday, the change in my level of fitness suddenly dawned on me. It was the first time in a long time I set an alarm for Sunday morning. We never sleep past six a.m. anyway, so I usually don't bother. But I had a motorcycle ride scheduled with a new friend, and I was going to need to leave the house by 10:00 a.m. The only problem with that is that I had a 10 mile run to complete to wrap up my training week. This was expected to take about an hour and 50 minutes to run. So I set the alarm for 5:30.

Flashback to Saturday. I had gotten up at 5:30 on Saturday as well, because I was going to a nutrition conference in Seattle. I left the house at 6:45 a.m. and got home right around 6:45 p.m. The conference was only from 10:00-2:00. The rest was drive time. I was in bed by 9:30 that night.

And earlier in the week? My normal "get up time" is 5:30. I may hit snooze, but I start waking up at 5:30. Off to the gym 3 days a week for weights (I'm doing Stephanie Keenan's FitLife Challenge at the moment, and the workouts are hard and fun.), on alternate days of my 3 days of running.

All of that is to point out that I normally would be tired on Sunday to begin with. But here is what got me. I'm far enough into my training plan that long runs are now back to double digits. Sunday's was 10 miles. I can remember back to 2010 when I was training for my first half marathon. When I ran a double digit run, I had to come home and pretty much rest the rest of the day. Read the paper, watch TV, and EAT. I would be starving the rest of the day. And tired.

Sunday's run was hard. I ran a hilly route, and was surprised how far out 5 miles was. I kept predicting where my turn-around point would be, and it kept being a lot farther in actuality. In the end, even with the hills, I was an average of 12 seconds faster on each mile than my prescribed pace. That surprised me! I went home, stretched, showered, and got on my motorcycle for the next 9 hours. I wasn't on it all 9 hours. We would stop and take breaks, get fuel, get coffee, relax, and ride again. But still, it was a long day of riding (and totally FUN, I'm so glad I went!). I came home and did a little laundry and got my gym stuff ready for today before relaxing for the night. That is a HUGE change from where I was in 2010.

I no longer feel like I have to eat back every calorie I run off on my long runs. I have energy left over to go do the fun things I like to do outside of the gym. My training makes me better in the rest of my life. I can ride my motorcycle without getting a sore back, for example. I'm happier, and thus more fun to be around. :p There's a million reasons why I strive for consistency in my training. This was just the first time I really noticed the payoff. :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Trail Running

I'm a pavement pounder, but every once in a great while I take to a trail. Each and every time, I love it so much I don't know why I don't do it more often. Usually if I'm running, I'm training for a race. The whole reason I started running in the first place was to be able to run races. When I'm between races, I hardly run at all. For me, it's more about having a goal with precise measurable steps to get there, taking those steps, and seeing if I can beat my previous time. When I can't, I can usually trace it back to some error in my training. (Not in the plan itself, but in my execution.) I haven't yet reached the point where my body just simply can't do better. If I strictly limited myself to running, I'm sure I could find that upper limit. But there are too many other things I love doing, which is another topic for another day.

Back to that trail...One of the reasons I love it so much is that it frees my mind from the math of running. My pavement running is all about maintaining prescribed paces and making times and distances. I determine whether it was a good run by whether or not I hit and maintained my paces over the distance. Oh sure, I have moments of, "Wow, look at that sunrise!" even on the pavement. And some days I even stop to take a quick picture. But most of the time, I'm pretty serious about the task at hand.

On the trail, I allow all of that to go away. Mostly because if I didn't, I'd be sorely disappointed in my performance. I have YET to find a trail that doesn't somehow manage to start by going uphill. What are the odds? I always end up in more a "hike in, run out" position. But it's OK. My mind opens up to everything around me. It's liberating and humbling all at the same time. If I start to think I've gotten stronger and faster, all I have to do is hit a trail to be humbled again. In a good way, a way that makes me want to return and try again.

There's a lot to be said for not knowing what's around the next corner. The picture above is one of my favorite corners on that trail. I love the huge, moss-covered rocks and the way the trail narrows. It has a way of quickening my pace to see what is on the other side.

On that particular run that day, I saw the most beautiful woman running out. Hollywood wouldn't have thought her beautiful, with her gray ponytail and lined face. She wore running tights and a form fitting top that showcased her fit physique. Her face was flushed with the effort of her work and her form was graceful. Her body moved with youth her face no longer had, but all I could see was her beauty. Someone to look up to. Something to strive for.