Lessons in Running: I am invincible! Until I’m not.

You know that thing, where you’re totally 100% motivated, crushing your workouts and ticking off the days until your next marathon with your Coach because GOALS when all of the sudden out of nowhere – POW! – you’re sidelined by your cardiologist for 5-7 days??? Benched. Grounded. Stop. Drop. And roll over and scream because WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO YOU?!?!? And not for nothing, why do I even have a cardiologist? cry babyAbout a month ago when I started blogging again, I posted about what I had been up to and alluded to a health issue that I had experienced. I was planning on posting about it because it was a terrifying experience that I wanted to share as a cautionary tale for athletes everywhere. The moral to the story I never told was: Don’t dismiss chest pain. Or chalk it up to a million other things. If chest pain wakes you up in the middle of the night – Go get checked out immediately. Don’t screw around.  Note: I would like to state for the record that I am NOT a doctor nor am I a health care professional. But this much I know: if chest pain wakes you up out of a sound sleep, GO GET CHECKED OUT BY ONE. 

Some months ago that’s exactly what happened to me. I woke up with a horrible chest pain in the middle of the night. I froze for a minute, pondered the thought of a heart attack and calmly took my pulse. I breathed through it and came up with exactly 42 reasons why my chest could be hurting me. I ran 10 miles yesterday. I raked a yard full of leaves. I did push ups. The list went on and on until I had convinced myself that I was fine. Until it happened again. Then I got nervous. I woke up my other half in a panic. The chest pain resolved. I hemmed and hawed about going to the hospital. I stayed in bed.

This is ridiculous. I can’t go to the hospital?!?! I’m fine. It’s gone. They’re not gonna believe me. What am I gonna do? Be the vegetarian, non-smoking, marathon runner who has a few minutes of chest pain and stroll on in?

Well guess what? That’s exactly who I was – a seemingly “healthy” athlete with a cardiovascular problem. The next day I called my doctor and made an appointment to be seen. I told them I had had chest pain. Oddly, an appointment materialized out of no where. Because that’s what happens when you have chest pain – they take you seriously, Colby. Myth busted.

What followed was a series of very scary events. I saw my doctor and was immediately sent to the emergency room. I was in a hypertensive crisis. Crazy high blood pressure and a very unhappy heart. After a host of tests in the Emergency Department, they determined that I was hypertensive and possibly had pericarditis- an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac surrounding your heart. I was referred to a cardiologist.  I followed up immediately and within days had a monitor on, a stress test scheduled,  a follow up appointment and a plethora of tests down the pike.

As for my stress test? I was unable to do it because of hypertensive crisis number two in one week. Mission aborted. Me, the runner, could not do it. I was beside myself and straight up scared. I’m gonna have a heart attack. I was immediately put on blood pressure medication. Why? Why is this happening to me? Shit. If I knew that I was going to wind up on anti-hypertensives I would have sat my ass on the couch, ate bloomin’ onions all day and smoked Camels. Either way, I’m here. Sometimes you swim in a crummy gene pool and sometimes you don’t. And if you’re wading in the deep end of that pool,  all the kale in the world isn’t going to help you. Neither are the marathons. 

What a scary, stressful mess. I was confirmed to have viral pericarditis. And I had high blood pressure- which was probably waiting in the wings to make it’s formal debut. It chose right then. I had to stop running entirely for weeks and take copious amounts of NSAIDs. And right now, as in TODAY? I have it again – recurrent viral pericarditis. My blood pressure is perfect. Thanks, meds! Why this decided to reemerge I am not exactly sure. But fortunately I am incredibly blessed to have excellent doctors and access to great healthcare which is something that I will never take for granted. I have no doubt they will figure it all out. For now, I have to stop running for a little bit to get this under control. Then we get to the bottom of it. *cracks knuckles*

My real reason for writing all of this was not to scoff in the face of HIPPA laws or to host a pity party,  it was to tell you: If a health issue pops up, don’t ignore it. There’s such an emphasis on PRs, PBs, BQs – that sometimes its easy to forget that running – any kind of running at all – is a gift. The same goes for your health. Just because you’re a healthy endurance athlete, doesn’t mean you’re immune to cardiovascular issues, or health issues in general. While running and exercise has be proven to be beneficial to your health, it’s also not a “Get Out of the Hospital Free” card. Shit happens. And sometimes it can happen to YOU. Don’t ever take chest pain lightly. Or, try and talk yourself out of seeking care immediately because you’re a marathoner – they won’t doubt you because you look “too healthy to be here”.  Issues can pop up out of no where. Listen to your body. Don’t doubt it. Respond quickly. It’s counting on you.

XOXO,

Colby

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Today’s Lesson: You gotta run fast, to get fast.

If this were a year ago and I called and told you I was done with a lactate threshold track workout totaling 9 miles on a HUMID AF summer day by 8AM you would have thought I was clearly pullin’ your leg. Like, hard. Up and out the door by Ass Crack O’Clock with coffee no less? To THE TRACK?  No way. No how. No never.

Oh, but wait….

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I JUST FREAKING DID!

I swear to you. I don’t even know who I am anymore. All of this shape shifting started about a month ago when I hired a Coach and got back to blogging. Since then, I have been diligently logging my prescribed miles, interacting with my Coach and sweating my face off. Humid summer runner I am not. But I need to be. STAT. Today was Track Tuesday. It’s been mega humid here in New England. Saturday’s long run was the worst 15 miles I have run in a decade. I’m not even exaggerating. Slowest run in 10 years. I can’t even believe how bad it was. “Long and Hilly, Colby!” did not bode well for me with 90% humidity and 83 degrees. That was at 6:30am. So much for early. I died a thousand deaths. And promptly sweated out every ounce of confidence I had in me. I hate when that happens. As I was reminded today, confidence and positivity training is just as important as physical training.

Track Tuesday

My Local Track, aka The Surface of the Sun.

After Saturday’s cluster fuck unfortunate run, I began self-sabotaging. You know, looking ahead to my workouts and straight up panicking at the paces and distances whilst weather stalking? THAT’S NOT PRODUCTIVE, COLBY. Not even a bit. So today rolled around and I told myself that I was not going to let a little humidity thwart me. So what I’m suffocating? I CAN run fast. And I WILL run fast. Dammit.

Today was a lactate threshold run which simplistically speaking means you hold a faster pace for a longer time, multiple times with a short recovery, then repeat it. I mean, that’s why we train for a marathon in the first place – run faster, longer. Once you’ve built your running base, lactate threshold training is the key to getting faster – at least according to Running Yoda’s Everywhere. Pushing yourself and maintaining a semi-uncomfortable pace with a short recovery then doing it all again. In my case, I ran 8 x 1k’s with a 90 second recovery. When your body produces more lactate then it can utilize and you’ve created more waste products than you are able to clear –  BINGO! – you’ve hit your lactate threshold. It’s a tipping point. Going beyond your lactate threshold makes your legs super tired, super fast. The goal here is to train them not to, to put it off as long as possible. Toe that line. Improve your lactate threshold and improve your tipping point.  So off I went, totally effen intimidated.

Stay in the Fight!

Here’s what I learned this hot, humid Track Tuesday. And, Dear Reader, I feel compelled to share these pearls of wisdom with YOU! #LuckyDuck

  • You can convince yourself that you are NOT imploding from the heat by visualizing yourself making snow angels in the buff instead of running circles on the surface of the sun. Just stop obsessing about it. It’s hot. Get over it. You can do this without melting. I promise.
  • Running fast is hard. It’s supposed to hurt. You’re supposed to want to give up. BUT DON’T. Stay in the fight! I yelled that out loud multiple times. Like a maniac.
  • Don’t be intimidated. It’s circles on a track. Figure out how to program a workout on your Garmin, and GO. Make it mindless. Stop thinking so much. Don’t be scared. Just run. For f*ck’s sake Colby, JUST RUN.

And the most important thing I learned today?

  • I am faster than I think. I need to tell myself that every day. And I’d better start goddamn believing it.

Xoxo,

Colby

Do you self-sabotage? Are you a hazy hot running rock star? Do you yell at yourself out loud while running?  Do you get intimidated by track workouts? 

 

 

When is it time to hire a coach? Answer: NOW!

So I did a thing a few weeks ago. I hired a coach. WHHHAAATTT??? I know.  I don’t even know who I am anymore. What prompted this very Adult-Runner decision was running yet another marathon –  and missing my mark. I ran Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine several weeks ago and while I didn’t have a horrible race, I did fall short of my goal. As per recent years, I trained using my beloved Hanson’s Marathon Method which kicks your ass, then hands it to you in a fatigued, sweaty heap.  You’re exhausted, but you are ready. Hanson’s is tough. As I know from experience, it’s quasi-unorthodox method works for me. At least it had until it didn’t. My training block went well this time around with Hanson’s.  I believe I only missed 2 runs due to minor injury,  but after reflecting on Sugarloaf, I felt like my training was missing something.  I ran the miles. I hit the paces. I checked off the boxes as I had in the past. I even had some really excellent tempo runs. But, it seemed like something was off. Did I have Hanson’s Fatigue? Was my body getting too used to this type of training?  Did I need something different to mix it up? My running needed SOMETHING more. *cue hiring Coach*

There are a million reasons why you fall short of reaching your goal. Physical, psychological, mother nature, the course, your stomach, your ankle, the stars not aligning properly, not wearing you’re lucky ponytail holder…..the list goes on, real or perceived. No matter how many marathons you’ve run, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. For me, after many cycles with Hanson’s, religiously following their sadistic program,  I felt like it was time for a change. Don’t get me wrong, Hanson’s got me all the way to Boston. It works, but now I feel like I’ve plateaued. It’s not you Hanson’s, it’s me.

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Here’s the short list of why I hired a coach. Again, in the interest of full disclosure. I’m not some super-certified running guru. I’m just a girl with a blog who loves lobster rolls, IPAs and running. (A lot.) I’m also a girl who has goals. It’s been almost 2 weeks with my new coach and here’s why I’m loving my decision already.

  • Accountability. I never really had a tough time being held accountable. I documented my running exploits often on this little blog.  I put it out there. But something about having a Running Table for Two makes the accountability even more real. It’s keeping me honest and completely on-task. My Garmin uploads directly to the training app we use the moment I hit save. I can count on feedback within the hour. It’s magical.
  • Interaction. This is key. Having someone to really talk to about your runs, how you’re feeling and where you’re at is something I am finding invaluable. For instance, I had a horrible cold last week. Previously I would have just plowed on through. It’s on the schedule, therefore I must run in spite of this hacking cough! Let’s be honest, we runners are terrible patients. With my coach, he adjusted my workout based on my need. As a result, I had a much better speed workout because I was rested. Who knew? (I’m laughing. We all know. We just don’t do it. Until someone we respect tells us to. Directly.)
  • Fit. If you are going to choose a coach, make sure it’s the right coach for you. I spoke with several of of my coach’s clients – super fast, fast and downright normal runners – and got feedback from each one. Pluses, minuses, likes, dislikes, whether or not they improved- anything I could think of.  Usually coaches have options available.  Whether they put together an individual plan for you or have one on one coaching with feedback – there are usually multiple plans to choose from ranging in  the amount of interaction and cost to fit your budget.
  • Variability. I am digging the variability in the workouts! I mean, it’s running. You run. How fun can it be? OH BUT WAIT, POODLE! It really can be fun!  Mixing up speeds, times, distances, surges, intervals- it’s not just the same old same old. In order to get fast, you need to run fast. And I ‘m learning that there are MANY ways to do so. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
  • Permission. Here’s a surprising one. Like I mentioned before, I was sick all week. I had a full running week as well as a 50 mile bike ride on Saturday and a long run on Sunday. My coach messaged me and wished me luck for Saturday’s ride then added – let’s see how you feel for Sunday. I’d rather have you get some extra rest. I don’t want this cough to linger. So instead of running long, I ran easy and short, just enough to shake out the legs. It may sound silly, but if I’m going to follow a plan, I FOLLOW THE PLAN. I spent 13 years in Catholic school. Discipline and guilt run strong up in here. I wasn’t slacking. I was sick and resting. I’m sure we can do a full on psychoanalysis of this another time,  but being given permission to sit on the couch and catch up on Real Housewives instead of slogging through a run just to get the miles in, meant an awful lot to me. It was a stress lifted. Permission granted and accepted.
  • Motivation. I have been more inspired to run in the past several weeks than I have in a very long time. I attribute that to the decision to hire a coach. It’s new. It’s fresh. And I am excited! Running was starting to feel like a chore for me. It was sapping the fun out of it. Even though you have big goals and are serious about what you’re doing, doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable doing it. Just keep that in mind. 🙂

Have you thought about hiring a coach? Do you have one? Are you one?! What would you look for in hiring a coach? Do you love lobster rolls as much as I do? 

Are you there Blog? It’s me, Colby.

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It’s been a while. And by while I mean a WHOPPING year and a half since I sat down, cracked my knuckles and busted out the ol’ blog.  That’s crazy!  I think my last post was about a 3 day juice cleanse. Why? Not sure. Not sure why I didn’t blog, not sure why I embarked on a cleanse either. Although in hind sight, no clue why the hell I drank kale and celery for three days and passed on the tacos and IPAs of my own volition. Kidding. I actually felt great afterwards. It was a ‘reset’. And a good one at that.  I needed it.

It’s not like I ran out of shit to say. Christ. I’m a talking machine. Or races to train for and run. I actually ran two marathons – Vermont City and super recently Sugarloaf in Maine. One was a shit show (pun not intended) and the other a really strong “comeback” race. I’ll get to the “comeback” story later. It’s a goddamn doozy.  Scary stuff.  Or places to visit. I’ve been on several AMAZING adventures! We took a van out west and it was GLORIOUS! There’s enough material in those trips to power this little blog for 3 years.

So why haven’t I blogged?

Simply put, I just wasn’t feelin’ it.  I think for the past year and a half I’ve just felt pretty damn unmotivated all around. It’s like a Death Eater got a hold of me for a minute or two and sucked a little bit of my soul out. Which is sad, because I really enjoy writing little bits every now and then. About running, about life, about Drunk Otis…about anything.  I don’t even care how many people read it. I really don’t. It’s a creative little outlet that happens to be in a very tiny corner of the internet.  It keeps me thinking – of things other than work and the current state of affairs in the world which I equate to Living in the Upside Down.  Actually, in the backwards Upside Down. Good gravy.  What the hell has gone on! It’s funny because I think I blame social media for not blogging on social media.  Oh, the tangled webs we weave!  It’s so easy to get caught up in an IG rabbit hole or reading political commentary that seriously makes you want to stab yourself in the eye with one of those weird wooden spoons you ate Hoodsie Cups with as a kid.  Those things were like Smurf-sized tongue depressors. So odd.  I got sucked into all of it and then I got sick of ALL OF IT. Of opinions and commentary and people talking AT YOU. Buy this. Wear this. Like this. Follow this. Run like this. Train like this. Eat this. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.  Gah. It’s exhausting. It’s like Information Fatigue. Fucking TILT.  I needed to step back. And take a breathe. And shutdown.

So what changed?

Not sure. Maybe it’s finishing up a marathon that really meant an awful lot to me. Maybe it’s having just spent 10 days milling around Arizona and Utah in a van with dear friends hiking and exploring beautiful places. Maybe it’s hiring a running coach.  I’m not sure. All know is that I just went to Google “Best Lobster Rolls in Connecticut,” and here I am, blogging. I’m glad I did. I needed it.

It’s good to be back after a cleanse.

xoxo,

Colby

I’m all about that base, ’bout that base…

START TRAINING!

Yes, Poodles. It’s time. Time for your old, tired, haggard pal Colby to get her shit together, hunker down and GET SERIOUS about running. It’s base building season. And dare I say I’ve cannonballed right on in. A good base is like a nice solid granite foundation, which will support the demands of marathon training with Hanson’s Marathon Method. Ahhh. My beloved Hanson’s.

I love to despise this plan. However, it really works for me. Of course I cry, sweat, and curse the heavens because of it, but who am I fooling? I love the discipline. I mean, I am a recovering Catholic School kid who had 13 consecutive years of nuns, this broad breathes discipline. I love the training. I love seeing the progress. I love the work. Sadists. Runners are sadists. And I am a card carrying one.

In my quest to get my body and head set for marathon training with Hanson’s, I’ve begun slowly ramping up my running. Mostly easy-effort runs with some intervals and miles at marathon pace thrown in for good measure. I’ve never stopped running, but I’ve definitely been throwing in more trails and stair mill workouts to mix things up a bit. I haven’t been running mega miles, but I am increasing my mileage weekly. I have an ankle with some hardware in it. Girlfriend likes to build slowly. Or she goes on strike. And limping isn’t cute.

Regular HIIT workouts have also been contributing to my base. HIIT workouts involve intense bursts of high-intensity exercise intervals followed by periods of low-intensity active rest- or even total rest. And they’re efficient. Like, 20 minutes or less. They also kick your ass upside down in your own living room. I found this chick on YouTube. Zuzka. 15 minutes of sheer hell. As they say in the biz, she is FIERCE. She had me at- I made it without vomitting. Yes. That’s the title of one of her HIIT workouts. Yes. Of course I immediately tried it. And, yes. I made it without puking. Although I may have dry heaved a little.

Go ahead. Try it. Report back. She’s no joke.

So now for the head set part of base building. Last you found me, I was in the throes of a Sunday night existential crisis resulting in me registering for the Vermont City Marathon and joining a Bikram Yoga studio. I know, what happened to a bottle of wine and an online shopping skin and hair products binge? I am pleased to report that I have been attending class 3-4 times per week like a good sweaty little yogi. WHO AM I?!? I’ll tell you who I am. An unbalanced, tight, hot mess.

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Me. Dripping mascara and all. 

For the love of namaste, I suck at this. Which is precisely why I must go. They don’t call yoga a practice for nothing. I am seeing progress. Although it’s not getting easier. I think that’s the hook. To keep at it. Bikram builds strength, flexibility, balance and, at 105 degrees, mental and physical stamina. Some days I’m stronger. Some days I’m more balanced. Some days I’m more flexible. All days I’m focused. Grounded, even. So I guess that’s a very good place to start- right at the base. Bottoms up, Friends! ☺️

Have you ever tried Bikram Yoga? Do you base train prior to kicking off marathon training? Did that HIIT workout make you puke? Want to run the Vermont City Marathon with me in Burlington, Vermont Memorial Day Weekend? Register with my link- HERE!

Rut.

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I’m in a rut. A running rut. Or maybe just a racing rut. Or some other rut. I don’t know. Could be global.

Do I still like running? Yes. Unless it is 8000 degrees and 500% humidity.

Do I still like racing? I think so. But I’m not sure. Maybe yes, but not right now.

Do I still like training? I think the answer, at least for now, is no.

Do I still like blogging? Definitely yes, but given my recent rut-like existence, I just haven’t had much to say. Which is why I have been The Worst Co-Blogger Ever. Haven’t posted because I don’t want to harsh the blogosphere mellow. If Colby didn’t love me so much, she would have fired me months ago.

I do think a large part of my running rut has to do with my lack of a goal.

For the first time, I’m racing without a goal. None. Nil. Nada. And let me tell ya, it’s incredibly un-motivating.

For the Marine Corps Marathon, my goal was to finish, which I did.

I didn’t have a specific goal for the Philly marathon, but I wanted to do it as a “pre-training” of sorts for The Big One. Boston 2015. I didn’t want Boston to be my second marathon for some reason (?).  Despite my bizarre, allergy-ridden experience at Philly, I’m glad I did it because the snowy weather last winter was brutal, and if I was starting from scratch in my winter training for Boston I would have had a panic attack. Or ten.

Then came Boston. And, except for the weather, it was everything I hoped it would be. Everything. My goal for Boston was to experience running Boston. No Other Goal Needed.

Though I struggled with the weather during Boston, I BQ’d again. So I’ll be back in 2016. And for Boston, I think that just running Boston will always be enough of a goal for me. Now that I know what it is like to run that course, experience those crowds, and turn right on Hereford, left on Boylston, I’m pretty sure I’ll never need another motivator to run Boston.

But before Boston 2016 comes Baystate 2015. And I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing with it.

Fact: The only “goal” I can think of right now is a PR.

Fact: I have neither the time nor the energy to train for a marathon PR at this time. I’m split a lot of different ways and the piece of the pie available for racing right now is not big enough to train for a PR. I’m also dealing with some as-yet undiagnosed GI issues which will not help in that regard.

Fact: I find it hard to feel excited about training for a race when I have no goal. And that is what I have been dealing with this summer. I don’t mind the running  (except for the heat and humidity, which is always the case), but when I think about it in terms of “training,” and what I “should” do, the spark just isn’t there.

I can easily run a 5K with no goal. A half marathon is a little harder, but still doable, since I run enough that I don’t really have to train for a half anyway. Still, I ran the Fairfield Half in June: I was crabby going to it, meh during it, and didn’t even get an adrenaline rush after it. It was yet another race where I did fine but nothing new or exciting. I don’t even think I recapped it here, because I had nothing to say.

And now I’m training (and man oh man, I use that term loosely) for a race that is twice as long as the Fairfield Half. Oy. That’s an awfully long way to run without a spring in your step.

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold & snowy winter this year, so working toward Baystate will give me a base for my Boston training. At least that is what I tell myself when I’m procrastinating before a 6 AM run.

And I still like running. I really do. But the time commitment and mental commitment for “training” is so different. Having to put in the time (and even there, I’ve been slacking)  without the mental investment is just not fun. Or inspiring. Or motivating.

Methinks I’m taking a racing break after this one, so I can just run without any sort of plan – even a half-assed one – and not worry about it. I can still do the running, but not have to think about the running, talk about the running, plan the running, track the running…

At least until January, when Boston training will start. Hopefully, I will have climbed out of the rut by then.

Have you ever been in a running rut? Or a racing rut? What the hell did you do to get out of it?

100 Days

Colby posted the following video last week on our Facebook Page:

You probably have seen it elsewhere – I saw it pop up in a variety of places. If you haven’t yet taken a few moments to watch it, please do – I promise you it is worth it! Incredibly inspirational.

LaKeisha chronicles 100 consecutive days of going to the gym. It’s a common resolution –go to the gym regularly, get fit. Many people don’t stick to it. LaKeisha did. For 100 consecutive days (and, hopefully, more – I assume she is still working out, even though her 100 day video is complete).

What strikes me the most watching this video is not the change in LaKeisha’s body, although she loses weight and goes down several sizes. Most striking to me is the change in her spirit. In the beginning of the video, she seems so, so sad and tends to avoid eye contact, looking off to the side as she talks about her life and her desire to make a change. Even her smile is tinged with sadness. By the end of the video, after 100 days of hitting the gym – and, it appears, hitting it hard – she sparkles. She has a twinkle in her eye, looks up proudly as she speaks to the camera, and boogies across the screen at the end.

I am sure that her smaller size contributes to her newfound confidence, but I bet that taking on a difficult challenge – and meeting it – contributes to it even more. She may have more progress to make with regard to weight, fitness or dress size, but one thing is certain – she went to the gym for 100 freaking days in a row. And nobody can take that away from her. Nobody. 100 days at the gym is a HUGE commitment. And she met it. No wonder she sparkles.

It got me thinking about the 30 day challenges that our Spartan Race friends keep throwing at us. I think they’re great. Even something like running a mile, which is not so daunting for distance runners like me and Colby, takes on a whole new meaning when you commit to doing it every day. Every single day. BOOM! A relatively easy task becomes a real challenge. And few things feel better than taking on a tough challenge and then meeting it. Just ask LaKeisha.

2013 Goals – the Recap

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Back in January, I set a bunch of goals for myself in 2013. Time to review and see how did before putting a list together for 2014. Here’s my original list and my progress…

1. Run a marathon. Check! Marine Corps Marathon on October 27. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. Cannot wait until my next marathon.

2. Ride the Pan Mass Challenge. Done. Incredible. Inspirational. Life-changing. Counting the days (11!) until registration begins for PMC 2014.

3. Do yoga regularly. Epic fail. Time to accept that I just don’t like it enough to do it regularly and move on. I’m a person who would love to love yoga, but I am not a person who actually loves yoga. There is a difference. A big difference. I’m sure I’ll do it from time to time and I do enjoy the stretching, but “regularly” and “yoga” just ain’t gonna happen for me.

4. Find another pick-up soccer league, since my old one seems to have dissolved. My old one started up again over the summer. Unfortunately, due to PMC & marathon training, and my fear of injuries (I sprained my ankle pretty badly during one of these games a few years ago), I never made it to a game. Next year!

5. Become more fit overall and take care of my body. Eh, I did ok on this one. Definitely cross-trained more – training for the PMC helped in that regard. Definitely stretched more, but still not enough. Started weight training and then dropped it. Repeatedly. Hope to keep making progress on this one in 2014.

6. Find a 5K that is conducive (i.e. does not have a completely crowded, bottlenecked first half-mile that all of the “fun” races seem to have) to me breaking a 7:30 pace. Then actually doing it. Never broke the 7:30 pace. Waaah! Didn’t run too many 5K’s this year, because my race schedule was full of longer and different types of races. Fastest 5K was at a 7:37 pace. Did run a 2-mile run portion of a Duathlon at a 7:25 pace, but never quite reached this goal. 2014!

7. More race goals: try at least three 5K’s or half marathons that I have not run before. Finish the &*^%)$!%# Fairfield Half with my head held high (and hopefully without the minor heatstroke). Done and Done. Ran Boston’s Run to Remember Half Marathon, Vermont Covered Bridges half Marathon, Guilford’s Frosty 5K and Boston Volvo’s Thanksgiving 5K, all of which were new ones for me. Also competed in two duathlons, which was an entirely new type of race for me. Fairfield Half was hot & steamy, but I ran a smart race and finished with my head held as high as I could hold it after 13.1 miles of misery.

8. Volunteer at a race to pay it forward for all of those who have handed out water and rung cowbells for me in past races. Done. Volunteered at Boston’s Run to Remember. Great experience. Volunteering at a race needs to become an annual goal for me.

9. Try Pilates. Or cross-country skiing. Or both. Something new, in any event. Never got to Pilates, but I did try cross-country skiing, and loved it. I also did my first burpee. Didn’t love that as much, but obviously didn’t hate it too much, either, since I accepted the Spartan Race 30 Day Burpee challenge and went on to do 900 more.

10. Make headway with Colby on our idea for a 5K race for the disabled. Would be great if we could actually pull it together in 2013; if not, would like to have something in the works for 2014. We have not gotten around to this. Keeping it on the list for 2014.

And there is a year of goals in review. I met some, didn’t even come close to others, and some remain a solid work in progress. Truth be told, if I had met them all, I would have felt disappointed, not satisfied. What’s left to do if you meet all of your goals???

Off to work on my list for 2014!

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Sunshine Award!

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Holy Toledo! You like us! You really like us! (Was that a bit too Oscars?)

Many thanks to Dani Cee of HAUTEbyDaniCee for the Sunshine Award nomination! If you haven’t checked out her blog, you really should – great information on health, beauty, fitness – basically, everything on how to look and feel your best! She’s smart, fit and fabulous. (And she thinks we’re funny so how could you not dig her? 🙂 ) We are so green in the blogosphere but happily seem to be finding our way. We’re also finding funny, smart, inspiring people out there too. Win-win on all accounts. Exciting stuff! So. Without further ado- The Sunshine Award!

Here are the rules: Post the Sunshine Award image, answer the following 10 questions and note 10 blogs you wish to nominate.

The 10 questions and our answers:

Favorite color

Tina: Blue. I like it light, dark, bright, muted. Haven’t met a blue I didn’t like. Periwinkle is probably my favorite shade.

Colby: Black. Hands down my go to color. Lately though I’ve been branching out. I’m digging orange. I’m drawn to it. Who knew? (Oh my God Tina. Together we’re bruised!)

Favorite animal:

Tina: Deer. There are tons where I live and though they can be quite the nuisance, there is just something so graceful, gentle and vulnerable about them.

Colby: Dog. Nothing better than a pup. Ever. When I was little I would climb up the bookshelves to reach our Encyclopedias and yank out the very worn “D-4.” I can still remember what that book smells like. Needless to say I was a master of dog breeds by age 6. (“Oh Hey Mom! Check out that Kuvasv!” Oh. Colby.)

Favorite number:

Tina: Eight has been my lucky number for as long as I can remember.

Colby: 27. Not sure why.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink:

Tina: Regular Coke. Pure junk and I don’t even want to know what it does to my glycemic index or teeth, but such a treat when I have one!

Colby: (WHAT? Drinks WITHOUT alcohol?! Why bother? ) Huge fan of crystal light pink lemonade or iced tea depending on my mood. Refreshing.

Facebook or Twitter:

Tina: I was so late to the party with Facebook, I was surprised people were still there when I joined. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to twitter. I’m a dinosaur when it comes to social media.

Colby: Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with it. Currently, we are in love. Although I must admit I am in love with hashtags. #yeaysunshineaward

My passion:

Tina: Writing, running and reading, not necessarily in that order. A great day is when I can hit the trifecta and get to devote serious time to all three in on one day!

Colby: Running, riding and wandering. Sometimes the best plans aren’t the ones intended. Get out and get lost! Eyes open. Mind open. Heart open. Learning something new is definitely a passion.

Favorite pattern:

Tina: Tough one – I usually wear solids! Love the Burberry plaid & I love zen-inspired patterns on my workout stuff. Pucci prints and Lilly Pulitzer patterns always make me smile!

Colby: Leopard. Period.

Favorite day of the week:

Tina: Sunday morning, especially when I can get out for a run, but even when I cannot. Brand new day, brand new week and it feels like the world is my own.

Colby: Any day that starts with a relaxing cup of coffee in bed. Easing into the day wrapped in crisp clean sheets and a hot cup of joe is the best. By far. Stretch, relax. Then GO!  Game. On.

Favorite flower:

Tina: Peonies. The color! The smell! The painfully short growing season! They always leave me wanting more.

Colby: Orchid. Amazingly intricate miniature works of art. Absolute beauty in one small package. They make me incredibly happy.

My Our 10 Nominees: Check out these awesome, funny, insightful, inspiring, blogs!  (Seriously. Now go. Get clickin’!)

1. Drunken Cyclist
2. Mind Margins
3. I’m a Runner So Can You
4. Joy in the Day
5. Sunny Days in DC
6. Lavender Parking
7. Running Sunflower
8. Move Eat Create
9. Etc
10. On the lam(b)

Happy St. Baldrick’s Day

If you have not heard about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, it is a great organization dedicated to raising money to fight childhood cancers. According to the organization’s website, only 4% of funding provided by the National Cancer Institute is devoted to prevention and treatment of childhood cancers. As you can imagine, childhood cancers, and their treatment, differ in many important respects from cancers affecting adults, and require their own specialized research. St. Baldrick’s was formed to help fill the funding gap, by providing funds directly for use in research focused on cancers affecting children. And fill the gap it does – the only US organization that funds more childhood cancer research grants than the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the US government itself.

You won’t be riding your bike or running a race to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s. Nope, you’ll be shaving your head! Participants – “Shavees” – raise donations for shaving their heads at one of the many St. Baldrick’s events held around the country (each event is kind of like a shave-a-thon with a party atmosphere, and they look like an absolute blast). Shaving heads is a brilliant means of support, since it not only raises funds, but also shows solidarity with the many cancer patients who lose their hair during treatment.

I came to know about St. Baldrick’s through some friends of ours. Their two sons – B and T – shave their heads each year as part of a local team, TeamBrent. The TeamBrent organization was established in 2005 by friends of theirs whose 3 year old son was battling Stage IV neuroblastoma. He is doing well now, and Team Brent has raised an enormous amount of funds for cancer research through various events, including St. Baldrick’s and the Pan Mass Challenge, just to name a few. Talk about creating something amazing out of something horrible. I’m so impressed with the TeamBrent family and will definitely be on the lookout for them at the PMC this year so I can congratulate them personally on the health of their son and their amazing work for cancer research and support.

Our soon-to-be-shaved friend, B, was over for a playdate yesterday. He is in 5th grade and will be rendered bald on Sunday. I asked him about the event and the main thing he talked about was his friend – the one who had cancer, who now is healthy, and who is the reason for his participation. He commented that he has known this friend “forever,” and though he was really sick, he is doing great now. He also talked about how much he enjoyed participating in the St. Baldrick’s event each year. I was amazed by the maturity our young friend showed regarding the situation, but truthfully, was a bit saddened that he has had to face this kind of situation at such a young age. I don’t remember any children getting cancer when I was in elementary school. I don’t even remember any of my friends’ parents getting cancer when I was in elementary school. Sadly, my children do have friends whose parents have cancer; in some cases, very advanced. My kids know that their own father had cancer as a teen, and see the long-lasting effects that the disease and its treatment have had on his health. Some of their friends know other children who have or have had cancer. The kids I know seem to be exposed to cancer and its harsh realities at a much younger age than I was.

It is mind-boggling how pervasive cancer is and how many lives it touches – old and young. And yet, so inspiring that there are so many ways to help. Kids must feel quite empowered to know that they can do something to contribute to the cause. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I was capable of doing anything to help with “adult” problems when I was a kid. I’m in awe at the creative ways that organizations like St. Baldrick’s have found to enable people of all ages to help fight cancer. And seeing how many people rise to the challenge to participate? It certainly helps to restore my faith in humanity.

Good luck on Sunday, B. We are honored to sponsor you!