Two. More. Weeks.

I’m now (less than) two weeks out from my FIRST trail race.  It’s also my longest race ever.  To celebrate, I took a week off from my trail training to participate in my FAVORITE race of the year, the Panther Run.  Three distances to choose from, naturally, I went with the 15K.

It was an EPIC race.  Cool temps meant PR weather!  I fell into a comfortable pace early, running alongside a woman from my running group.  We didn’t speak at all.  I think we were each racing the other the entire time.  Trail running has encouraged me to power down the hills, even on the road now.  So once we started hitting hills, I pulled away, but was never too far ahead. Eventually we ended up right back together and raced it out for the last mile.  At the end, we exchanged a high five.  I hit a PR by 14 minutes.  Maybe it’s not as big of a deal, considering my only previous 15K was over a year and a half ago, but I’m still celebrating besting my time.

As for trail racing…I now have three trail races on my schedule between now and Thanksgiving.  One 15K, one 25K and a half marathon.  I’m super excited.  Although the elevation chart for the 25K is just a little bit intimidating.  I’ll leave you with this:

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I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 27

Friday marked my last day in my “mid-twenties.”  I officially turned 27, which I consider “late twenties.”  I have officially hit the point where a birthday is just another day.  There’s nothing special that my age brings me (ability to buy porn or tobacco products, booze or rent a car).  

 

26 was an exciting year.  I made great strides in my health and fitness, completing 4 half marathons, 3 within 22 days, and developed some killer biceps.  I graduated (FINALLY!) from Missouri State University.  I got engaged!  All big things.  

 

27 promises to be even better.  I’m in the middle of wedding planning (it totally sucks, if you’re wondering).  I’ve started a new job where I actually put my education to use.  It’s hard and it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I’m so thankful to have a supportive fiance and family there for me while I’m building my client base and getting better at what I do.  

 

I’ve decided to make 27 the year I run my first marathon!  I’ve written my training schedule out in my planner, picked out a half marathon race for said training schedule (coming for you, Little Rock Half Marathon!).  All that’s left to do is actually register for the marathon.  It’ll be happening soon.  My training plan starts the last week of the year.  How unfair is that?  

 

I’m excited at the prospect of training for a new distance.  I think it will help keep me focused and grounded during the craziness of wedding planning.  It will also force me to stay concentrated on my diet and exercise.  Nobody wants to go into a marathon an undertrained mess.  I’m also just ready for it.  Ready to say I’m training for it.  Ready to say I did it.  Ready to see where my body takes me.  

 

Did I mention I’m having my mom and maid of honor plan my bridal shower around my marathon weekend?  I’m sure you’re not surprised.

 

Do you set goals for yourself when you have a birthday?  Do you just let the year take you where it will?

To new beginnings

There is so much exciting stuff happening around here lately!

First of all, happy start to Packers season!! What a great day 🙂 To celebrate, here’s a picture of me from my first ever Packers game in 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium. They lost. Their only loss of the season. I wasn’t good luck.

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Secondly, I completed my FIRST double digit mile trail run last weekend! I also signed up for another trail race last week. You’re probably saying “wow, Sara, calm down, you haven’t even completed your first trail race yet.” No. But I’ve got the bug. Like love, you know when you know! My second trail race will be a half marathon at Two Rivers Bike Park in Highlandville, MO on November 22. If you’re a local, I highly recommend checking out this race which is in its second year. Gorgeous course, great swag and support.

In real life news, I am embarking on a new career path! Next week will mark the end of my time with the childcare program I’ve been with for the last 2.5 years. I’m so excited to begin a new journey as a personal trainer and will also be running a kids fitness class! I’m very passionate about children’s fitness and it’s been a long time dream of mine to be involved in something like this.

Be on the lookout for more fitness related posts on the blog, as well as an upcoming Facebook page that I’ll invite you all to join me on

Hot, Hot, HOT.

Weather Shot

This is my life right now. We are currently in a heat advisory, now through Sunday. And guess what tomorrow is? Long run Saturday! Training for a trail race, there is no substitute for getting out on the trails, so I have no choice but to make sure my butt makes it to the 6:30AM training group tomorrow.

Training in the heat and humidity is a different beast. You need to be SO careful. I normally run 9:40-10:00 minute miles on the road. This was my yesterday:

Humid RunKeeper

Slooooooooooooooooooow. But you know what? It’s ok. Why? BECAUSE I DIDN’T DIE. So that’s a huge plus. I ran out of water around 4.5-5 miles. And then experienced a few chills. When you start getting chills, it’s time to say game over, throw in the towel, get a cold drink and call it a run. But I was so miserable the rest of the day. Headaches, body aches, you name it. Not ok. I know better.

If you’re in a part of the country experiencing this heat, be safe! Listen to your body, take more water than you think you might need and let someone know where you are! Take shade breaks, walk breaks, whatever you need. Allow yourself to be slower than normal because it’s totally ok! Dying is not ok.

Stay safe, runners!

Falling behind

Life. It happens. Life doesn’t care if you have a triathlon in two weeks or are just starting a 13 week training plan for your first 25K trail race. It carries on however it pleases and you have to figure out how to roll with it.

It also doesn’t care if you are supposed to be starting a new job in two days either. But this is a running and fitness blog so we’ll stick with the other stuff 🙂

When life calls, you answer. You don’t ignore what’s going on because you have something else going. When someone needs you, you go. This isn’t me complaining that I had to pick up at a moments notice and go home to be there for my family. I would do it again in an instant. It’s about how you pick up when you get back.

You can sit there and be miserable that you missed that time. That triathlon PR would’ve been great. That 12 mile trail run that turned into a 9.5 mile trail run could’ve been way better if I didn’t miss the first three weeks of the training group. But I didn’t PR and I didn’t train those weeks. It is what it is. You pick up and continue. Make the best of where you are and know that you’re going to get there. It’s just going to be a little longer than you first thought.

It’s totally ok.

In fact, it’s better than ok. It means that you are confident enough in yourself to know that you can step away for a moment, tend to what you need to, come back and be fine.

Never get so caught up in your own life that you aren’t able to answer the call when someone needs you. Running teaches us to be confident and strong. Be confident enough to step away and lend that strength to those around you when they need it the most.

Summertime HEAT!

Is anyone else out there struggling with the heat and humidity?  My goodness.  I feel like normally by this time in the summer, I’m completely adapted and doing just fine.  This year?  I’m struggling.  Really struggling.  It’s not so much lack of motivation to run but a lack of motivation to be a hot, sweaty mess.  The humidity is stifling.  Coupled with my job that has me outside quite a bit and it’s really unappealing.  So I’ve been hitting the treadmill with my own personal fan.  Literally.  A little fan clipped to the treadmill.

 

Which then got me thinking, why can’t I attach a fan to my neck?  How weird would I look?  Would people be jealous?  Could I start a new trend?  Maybe a new running club?

 

Reality is, my 25K trail race in October is starting to loom big in my head.  I need to get my booty outside and running  the trails.  Which means I need to make a decision on trail shoes.  And find a trail running buddy.  Sigh.  Time to get it together!

The Biggest Loser

I’m sure I’m not the only one blogging about this today.  My take may be a little different than others.  I’ll admit, I haven’t watched this show in a few seasons.  After embarking on my own weight loss journey and studying exercise science, I just felt it was too out there and a bigger detriment to viewers than a help.  

 

If you haven’t yet seen what the winner looked like, here is a clip on Yahoo that shows her final weight, figure and trainer reactions. 

 

I’m on the fence. At 5′ 4″, which is her reported height, she is 3 pounds under her “ideal weight”. To me, not really something to be concerned about. She could have been stressed out the last couple days with the finale coming up, had the shits, couldn’t eat, whatever. I know my weight can fluctuate 4+ lbs in any given day in either direction. Even if she is at a good weight for her height, that is still A LOT of weight to lose in an extremely short amount of time. 

But that’s what this show promotes. Extreme, UNREALISTIC weight loss. And now people are in an uproar because she took it too far? You cannot have it both ways. None of this would have happened in the real world. Sticking to a severely restricted 1200 calorie per day diet and exercising multiple times a day? That’s not real life. Real life is convincing yourself not to have the large order of fries, or having a nonfat latte from Starbucks instead of whole milk.  It’s researching nutrition via Google.  Real life is carving an hour out of your day to get in some semblance of a workout.  It’s not having your fridge pre-stocked with dietitian recommended food and being shoved into a barn full of exercise equipment multiple times a day.

It’s also important to remember that she lost the final 40-45 pounds at home, away from the ranch and trainers.  

Shame on everyone skinny shaming her. It’s as bad as fat shaming. You don’t know her body fat, her training program or how she feels. If she feels amazing and is happy and her body composition is good then good on her. If she can maintain it, even better. People cannot preach body acceptance out of one side of the mouth and bash someone for her weight loss without ANY knowledge of her life out the other side. 

I will say this. Weight loss is a slippery damn slope. Once you get that ball rolling and you start losing, you’re in a routine and everything is going well, it is DAMNED hard to change your mindset that you should at some point maintain your weight and not lose any more. You get used to seeing those numbers on the scale go down and don’t understand when they don’t or when they tip back up a few pounds on some days. She could be a perfect example of someone that just hasn’t quite gotten a handle of how to just maintain. Who knows. 

Anyone that is outraged for her extreme weight loss is forgetting the point of this show. $250,000 to lose the greatest percentage of weight loss. And now you’re surprised that someone may have taken it too far? Please.

Balancing Act

No secret here, when I start training for a race, I go all out.  I run all the time.  Every day or just about every day.  Even though I know it’s important to keep variety in my training and my life, I sacrifice so much else to be able to get my miles in.  More miles than I even NEED.  This ends one of two ways after the race.  I keep the excitement for a little while after and continue running hard until I hit a wall and lose all motivation or I wind up injured.

 

This time around, I’m trying to do differently.  I’ve been working a lot on my strength training.  It’s important to me and I love to lift heavy weights.  It makes me feel strong.  I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked hard to gain.  I’ve also started attending hot yoga, which makes me feel grounded and in touch with my body. These are two things that I love.  But I’ve already noticed how quickly I will go to sacrificing them if running comes up.  

 

Yesterday was the first day I took a long hard listen to my body and actually put running down for a minute.  I went and lifted instead.  And it felt good.  No, it felt great.  Before, I would’ve tried to push that training run even though I knew my legs felt dead tired.  Now?  I’m more committed than ever to listening to what my body needs.  

 

I don’t have to run 6 days a week, 4+ miles each day plus a long run in order to be well trained.  Seeing how well my 11 miler last week went proved to me that I don’t.  I need the variety.  My body needs the variety.  Some people do it differently and that’s ok.  We all need to remember that the only voice we need to listen to is our own.  Your body will tell you what you need.  

Meg’s Miles

If you’re a runner that is active on social media (which you obviously are because you’re reading this blog) you have heard of Meg’s Miles.  In case you haven’t heard, here is an excerpt from the Facebook event: 

Meg Cross Menzies was tragically killed by a drunk driver while out for her morning run on January 13, 2014. As an avid runner, member of the Richmond Road Runners Club, and Boston marathoner, she was a member of the running family nationwide. In her honor, our hope is to raise awareness of drunk driving, texting and driving, and overall safety of runners and cyclists everywhere. 

 

Runners everywhere have united today to run in her honor.  I don’t belong to a running group or club, nor do I usually run with a partner.  Running today in her honor got me thinking about several things.

First of all, I am truly blessed to be fortunate enough to get out and run.  I live in a spot where I am able to walk right out my door and run in any direction.  There are beautiful, well maintained trails everywhere.  The scenery is gorgeous.  Not only that, I am healthy enough to get out and run.  Did I feel like running today?  Not really.  It was windy and cold to start but I got out there.  Why?  Because there are people out there who want to run, would give anything to run, but have had it taken from them in one way or another.  I ran for Meg and countless others who have had it taken from them.

Secondly, I ran without headphones.  Normally I’ll keep them for longer runs just to keep me motivated but I wanted to feel connected to everything around me today.  I wanted to be aware.  I wanted to be as safe as I could be.  As runners, we are unprotected.  It is up to us to do everything in our power to make sure we are seen and make sure we are safe.  And even then, something could still happen.  The very least we can do is everything in our power to make sure we get to Point B of our run in one piece.  I ran for Meg and countless others who did everything right.  (Sidenote: to the runner who I saw just dart out into traffic because he couldn’t be stopped by a red light, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!  Pausing for 30 seconds won’t kill you.  Running out into traffic might.)

Third, I was extra diligent in making sure Boyfriend knew my route and expected time of arrival to my destination.  I am guilty of not always doing that.  I try but sometimes think “oh, it’s just three miles, no big deal.”  Wrong.  Always, always let someone know where you are going to be and when to expect you.  I vow to be better at that.  

In addition to this, I always wear a Road ID, carry pepper spray, carry my ID and cell phone.  I wear my Road ID 24/7.  I didn’t always carry pepper spray, but after a strange encounter with a few dogs and some weirdos, I don’t leave home without it.  Some people think I’m weird but it makes me feel better.  I hope I never have to use it.  I run on well traveled roads where there is almost always someone about in a car.  I like to think that if something happened, that would mean someone would be driving by and could help if needed.

 

What do you do to stay safe when running, cycling or whatever your form of exercise is?  

Did you participate in Meg’s Miles today?  

Sweat, Sweat, Sweat

With the increase in strength training over the last few months, I’ve seen a marked decrease in my hamstring and hip flexibility.  I’ve never been someone that was super flexible but flexible enough.  Meaning, I can’t do the splits but I can bend over and touch the ground with my palms.  I’m very aware of changes in my body.  That’s pretty typical of anyone who puts fitness as a priority.  So this change was concerning to me.  You have to work for your flexibility and it can leave you quickly.  

 

I started checking out hot yoga studios in Springfield.  I’ve taken a yoga class or two and countless yoga/pilates fusion classes.  I’m not completely new to yoga but I’m not a yogi by any means.  Always do your research!  Check yelp reviews, talk with friends about which studios they like or dislike.  Luckily, one of my friends has done quite a bit of hot yoga and agreed to attend a class with me.  SO. HELPFUL.  I’d have had no idea what was going on, how or where to set my mat and towel up or how to just breathe in that hot air.  If you’re looking to try out hot yoga and have a friend that has done it, use them as a resource!  Take them with you and be open to their suggestions.  

 

The studio I chose, Pure Hot Yoga, uses infrared heating.  Very quiet and very effective.  I swear, the room really does get hotter as the class goes on.  As soon as we started moving, I was sweating.  That’s one of the coolest thing about the human body.  Did you know that as a runner or other athlete who is acclimated to the heat, your body is trained to respond faster to the heat and stress your body is under by sweating sooner?  This is a fabulous adaptation when working out in the heat.  Not so much in real life.  You know, when that room you’re in is just a little too hot and your heart rate is already up from taking the stairs and you start pouring sweat?  Gross.  That’s me.  Thanks, body! 

 

Back to the yoga.  Parts of the class I felt I might die.  Thankfully, the instructor started out the class by working just on breathing, getting everyone acclimated to the heat and heavy air.  Any time I felt I might be getting overwhelmed, I went back to that initial breathing and was able to calm myself down and get my body back.  At the end, I felt refreshed and alive, not drained and defeated by the work.  To me, that’s exactly what any workout should leave you feeling. 

 

Memberships are expensive.  But if you do your research (which you will, because I suggested it!) you’ll find that many studios offer community classes.  These classes are open to non-members for a minimal fee.  Typical cost around here is $5 per class.  To me, a person who will likely only take one, MAYBE two classes each week, that’s perfect.  No membership required!  

 

Anyone can do it.  There were women and men in last nights class of all shapes, sizes and ages.  Everyone getting their sweat on and connecting with their body.  What’s greater than that?!  Grab your mat and find a hot yoga studio.  

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