Monday, November 8, 2010

The World is My Treadmill

I embarked on a new journey this weekend. I decided to try some trail running with my running buddy. Over the past few weeks I have started thinking about how I am going to continue my training through the winter. I already know that the treadmill is not for me, and there is nothing more relaxing to me than the rhythm of my breathing while my feet continuously hit the pavement; and even better, having random conversations with my running buddy that would not be even remotely tolerable to most human beings.

I have contemplated reacquainting myself with the treadmill, trying the whole pool running thing, or simply cross training through the winter. Just thinking about all of these options either gives me anxiety or makes me somewhat sad. Call me dramatic if you will but I know me and I know what will hold me back!

This past weekend my running buddy and I went out to Highbanks Metropark to do our last long training run before the 10k this weekend. The trail was not forgiving, as a matter of fact my body has never been so happy to have ice packs numbing my limbs. Even though it was hard and I hurt badly after the run, I felt like an accomplished runner and even woke up this morning feeling extremely energized. I would not want to trade that experience for a treadmill.

So, I was on the phone with my friend from Maine this evening talking about the finer points of treadmills (well actually talking about how I know NOTHING about the treadmill) and I found myself dramatically saying "The world is my treadmill." Once that statement came out of my mouth I just knew I had to think about hitting up all of the sports stores and getting myself equipped for the brutal running season called winter.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Self Indulgent Ramblings

I have many different topics that have been rumbling around in my head that could potentially be their own blog posts, but I’ve decided to get it all out at once. Self indulgent you may think? Perhaps, but I'm OK with that.

From Seas to Mountains

If you ever find yourself traveling to high altitude from almost sea level be prepared for gasping breaths while running, hiking or cycling. More about this in a future post.

When I’m Not Blogging

I recently took a road trip and spent hour after hour in the car. I wouldn’t do it any differently because my Dukie Man and I had the best time and it forced me to think a lot. I managed to maintain my training schedule while on the road which was amazing in itself but I bet you can guess what happened when I got back to Columbus. That is right, the exercise sabbatical has crept back into my life. This I am not proud of… So here is what I learned, when I am not following my training plan (or when I’m on vacation) I’m also not blogging. You may ask what I am doing??? I’m hanging out on my couch trying to figure out how to get myself off the couch. I seriously need to get over this. I am making a commitment to my faithful readers (and me) that I will no longer take said sabbaticals so I can provide you wandering thoughts about various athletic journeys that you may consider joining.

The BEST Bicycle Shop

Right before I went on my road trip I had my bicycle serviced. You may recall a previous post where I spoke of a horrible bike shop that didn’t even attempt to fix what I asked them to fix. Well the new shop, less than a mile away from my house, is now my new favorite place. If you live in Columbus and need a new bike, regular maintenance or a big fix on your bike you have got to check out roll: as they were the most helpful and thorough staff!!!

Race For the Cure

My new running buddy and I ran our fastest 5k ever a couple weeks ago. We broke 12 minute miles!!! My buddy also asked me what race is next. I’m telling you this stuff is not only addictive but it is contagious too. To read more about how healthy lifestyles can be contagious check out this blog post or this article from Runner’s World.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Life Lessons in Running

About eleven months ago I decided to start focusing on my running to improve my triathlon performance. I started with Robert Ulrey and his Couch to 5k program and then hung out with Hal Higdon to train for a 10k. Finally I joined Team in Training to tackle a Half Marathon.

Yesterday I learned that I can accomplish ANYTHING!!! I ran a half marathon in under three hours, and will improve my time for the next half I do.

I have learned a number of things while training for this half marathon:

1) If you don’t believe you can do it, then you can’t. Running is a mind game; actually everything is a mind game. I’ve learned through this process that you have to believe in yourself to accomplish your goals.

2) Sisters and Brothers are super important to help push you. One of my sisters got me started on these endurance events years ago, my brother provides the realistic support by reminding me I need to do things because I want to do them, and my other sister is always pushing me to do the next difficult thing and not settle.

3) Spectators are the best motivation in the world. Knowing that I was going to see my Sister, Aunt and Uncle at various points during the race kept me moving along.

4) A smile can change your entire attitude. Every time I felt myself slipping into frustration and thinking I can’t do it I would remind myself I can do it and smile. When you smile on a course like that it is incredible how many people want to talk to you to see why/how you are smiling. This picture is of me at mile 9.

5) Strangers ROCK!!! The reason I say this is because at a certain point during the race I had to go to the bathroom SOOOOOOO badly and the port-a-potty lines were outrageous so I just kept running. This guy was sitting in front of his “house” when I asked him if I could use his bathroom. Next thing I know I am in this dude’s house going to the bathroom in the middle of the race.

6) Supportive friends are necessary. First of all my mom and dad are awesome; they encourage me all of the time. Second of all I have the greatest friends who live a couple hours away from me; they come out and participate in these races with me, and encourage me through the training and are there in the end to cheer me across the finish line. Also, a couple of my Columbus friends are always giving me a pat on the back and even running with me or calling me the morning of the race to wish me good luck.

7) Next time I am a spectator at a race I need to find the mile marker that has the fewest spectators and go there with a huge crowd of drunk friends and bang on my chest while yelling emphatically at the crowd, letting them know they are awesome for what they are doing. Seriously, there were frat dudes on the course with their chests painted, and jumping up and down for the runners. They were awesome!

I seriously feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I’m looking forward to my next event. Just to recount what is coming up next:

Race for the Cure
Sprint Tri in July
International distance Tri in August

I challenge you to join me!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Half Marathon Poem

I’m writing a poem so you can see
Why you should come out and support me

I’ve been training for months to run very far
Me legs have hurt from running on pavement and tar

If it wasn’t for charity I may have quit
But then on the couch I would still sit

The running has helped me lose some weight
Even with all the awesome food I ate

I ran fast in the rain, sleet and snow
And now in the heat I’ve become a little slow

All the activity has been very neat
It only got frustrating when I hurt my feet

Three weeks ago while running with a friend
My feet said please stop let me mend

I took days off so I could heal
But today, ready and steady I feel

If you’re in Columbus you should know
There is a place on Saturday you should go…

Head down to Nationwide to see me start
Or stand on the sidelines and past you I will dart

You could also stand by Nationwide at eleven or so
And you will see the finishing show

I will cry when I’m finished because I am a sap
You would cry too if this was a rap

[If you feel compelled to donate;
The good news is it’s not too late

Just click on the link on the right
And then you can say you helped the blood cancer fight]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finding Peace on the Pavement

First I have to say OH MY GOSH, I have neglected my blog!!! Now to the story…

I have been running, and running, and running to prepare for this half marathon I will be running in less than two weeks now. I have not been able to find my zone that all of those runners talk about. You know that “runners high”. I can tell you every time I complete a run I feel high but I have recently been told that that is not a true runner’s high. All I could think when I learned that is “ugh, what I am doing wrong!”

I went to visit a great friend of mine this weekend, and it just so happens that she plans to run the same half marathon in a couple of weeks. We both had to do a 10 mile run this weekend so we decided to head out on Saturday morning before we would allow ourselves to enjoy any libations. My friend had to work for a couple of hours on Saturday morning and I took this opportunity to catch up on the most recent Runner’s World Magazine where I found a great article on meditative running. As I read the article I thought it was hokey, maybe even a little crazy. Who the heck can even say running long distances is even remotely fun; then I tried it...

My friend and I headed out to Slippery Elm Trail and began our 10 mile run. We stuck together for the first mile and then we split up (primarily because I am SLOW). I started wondering how in the h*ll was I going to finish this run; to be honest we had just barely begun. I started thinking about the article I read and how the author had transformed one of his runs by meditating; this is when I decided to try it out myself. Before I go any further let me just acknowledge that this may sound weird to many of you who know me very well, because you know that Sarah and meditating do not go together. I am not one for quiet, or serenity unless I am sitting in the middle of the woods somewhere. I am also not interested in yoga, or centering myself because I truly function best with a “controlled” chaos (although many of you may disagree about any of my chaos being controlled). I personally enjoy the hunt for my keys in the morning and think my world would be less peaceful without those moments.

To continue I want you all to know I have no idea what it means to meditate or even how to do it. All I could remember from the article was the importance of focusing on my breathing. I went to that place and focused on the gasps in and out, in and out, in and out… When all of a sudden I was more focused on my heel strikes and my breathing was as steady as it would be if I were just taking a stroll with a friend. I also closed my eyes and found myself feeling like I do when I am about to fall into a really great sleep. Mile 5 came and went along with 6, 7, and 8; I had found my inner peace!!! I seriously have absolutely no idea what carried me through all of those miles because I simply can not remember any of the run except for that peace I felt up until about half way through mile eight.

I finished the run, and am still alive to tell the tale. I know I have a much longer run coming in the near future, and am looking forward to experiencing that peace again!!! If I don't find it while running I'm going back to hiding my keys before I go to bed at night.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I LOVE the Snow...

Or so I thought.

Columbus has seen the most snow in February since 1900 this year. Well I'm not sure that is was 1900 but it has been a LONG time since Columbus has had so much snow. You should know that I love the cold, I love the crisp mornings, and I love the snow even more. There is nothing better than waking up in the morning to this white blanket of fluffy white stuff everywhere. The best thing about the snow, hands down, is watching my dog frolicking and rolling around in the snow.

On the other hand...

I've been doing pretty well combating the cold and the snow when heading out for my runs but yesterday was HORRIBLE!!! I went out for a short jog yesterday to loosen up from Saturday's long run. I headed out on one of my favorite bike trails and felt like I was running through sludge. The trail was snow packed until the thaw yesterday, and I literally thought my feet were getting stuck in the snow every step I took. What was supposed to be a short 3 mile jog, turned into a very short 2 mile jog. I'm starting to think once the snow fully melts I'm going to find running even easier.

All I could think about yesterday was the alternative; the dreadmill. No thank you, I think I'm going to continue taking on the sludge...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Inspiration from the Olympians!

As 67.5 million US TVs tuned into the 2010 Winter Olympics, I was wondering why so many viewers were so interested. I watched the opening ceremonies and teared up in part because of the sad news about the Luge athlete, but also from the stories of some of the lone athletes from countries that have never seen snow or ice.

On Saturday as I was wasting away my day, icing my legs, and planning out what I was going to make for dinner on my cooking days the this week, I turned on the Olympics to watch some skiing and short track speed skating. I was simply looking for background noise, but what I found instead was inspiration.

There was a story of Apolo Ohno's rise to the top in Torino, and his rapid road to fame. During the interview Apolo seemed perplexed by the fact that a fan knew him for his appearance on Dancing with the Stars NOT his amazing athleticism that brought him to the Olympics. During this story Ohno's said the following:

"Before every day you go to sleep, ask yourself one question; Did you do every single thing you could today to make sure that you did your best? It's hard to answer yes, every single day. I don't want to look at in terms of me outworking the other competition; I like to look at it as me conquering myself. Me being able to face my own fears and distractions and weaknesses and say that I overcame them." (Apolo Ohno)

In that moment I was captured by his words. I was asking myself some of those very questions; Did I do anything today that would make me do my best? Did I conquer myself? Did I face any of my own fears? weaknesses?

Just think about it. Could you say yes today?

Time to go for my six mile training run!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Guilt in Moving

This weekend I had the pleasure of helping my friend move. Seven hours later, everything was out of the third floor apartment and in the second floor apartment (there were no elevators people).

Of course there is a story in all of this.

I was supposed to run five miles yesterday and it never happened. I woke up this morning mentally motivated but physically fatigued. I had great intentions to get out for the five miles today but it never happened. Do I feel guilty? Or simply move on? It would probably be best if I opted for the latter but it is hard. When you are training for a half marathon it simply isn't that easy. Logging miles is part of the training. It doesn't matter how you log the miles but you HAVE to log the miles (or so that is what I am told). I think this is why I'm feeling so darn guilty...

Someone recently told me that when I find myself saying "I really wish I would have," I should follow the statement up with, but I didn't. And then move on.

I have a plan to move on; Run five miles tomorrow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Contagious! defines contagious as:

1) Capable of being transmitted by bodily contact with an infected person or object;
2) Tending to spread from person to person.

Typically when we hear the word contagious we think of our colleagues who come to work sick and are spreading the germs to everyone. Or we think of those nasty germs at the gym that could cause you to get some infection on your leg that needs to be cleared up with antibiotics. Or even LICE, Yuck!!! To sum it up, we typically think contagious = BAD!

A new trend in the news is good news though and I didn't realize how true it was until recently. I did my first triathlon in 2003 because my sister talked me and my other sister to participate. I probably would have quit doing triathlons but my sister was insistent that I sign up the next year, and I did. My sister has a knack for "recruiting" people to participate in races with her. Does that make my sister contagious?

Well here is something to consider. I started enjoying these races that my sisters talked me into and I started doing more (2009 being the busiest for me so far). Through the years I have begun recruiting people to join me as well. My friend from HS and her husband have joined me for triathlons, a 10k, and soon to be a half marathon. My friend from Colorado is running now. A friend in Columbus did her first triathlon with me in September. Another friend and I are going to run together for the first time tomorrow. My mom is more committed to sticking with WW. My cousin has asked me about WW and is considering joining.

Do I credit myself for getting people to join the "healthier lifestyle"? Not really but do I credit my sisters for continuing to push me to adopt a healthier lifestyle? Sure.

So here is the big question does contagious always have to = BAD???

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On the Other Side of 2009!

Hello 2010!!! I promised myself no New Year's Resolutions for 2010. What I decided to do instead was write a list of 100 things I would like to accomplish in 2010, and I discovered something very interesting.

About 6 years ago I was an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Maine and I had the good fortune of participating in training sessions with the most amazing facilitator. Not only did I get to participate in her sessions but on one of her visits to Maine I had the great pleasure of picking her up from the airport and spending a lot of time with her preparing for our training. We did an activity during the training that included writing down various goals (large or small, service related or personal) and identify which overall category they fit in when we look at our life as a whole. Some examples could be the following:

Goal: pay bills on time

Category: Finance

Goal: Exercise more

Category: Health

I don't really remember all of the instructions from this exercise but what I do remember is that you would find common themes.

In December 2009 I had the pleasure of seeing this same facilitator in Ohio, and strange enough, a couple of weeks prior to her coming to Ohio I found the list of goals I wrote way back when I lived in Maine, many of which were accomplished.

As I wrote my goals for 2010 I reflected on that exercise and discovered my overall life categories haven't change. The same things are important to me including family, health, and finances.

One thing I didn't mention is that when I first met this facilitator I was heading to Portland from Augusta, and I was to participate in a 5k race, and decided not to do it because I had never gone to a race alone and I was scared. It has taken me 5-6 years, but that fear is gone. I now embrace going to races and participating regardless of who is going to be at the finish line to cheer me on. Don't get me wrong, I much prefer having a support system, but to be able to go out and do it alone is a HUGE accomplishment.

So you may ask, what does this all have to do with my Couch to Athlete plan and I am going to highlight a couple of things that showed up on my list. Maybe I am crazy??? Or maybe I am living my dream:

1) Run a half marathon (May 1, 2010 and I have friends who will probably do it with me)

2) Participate in an Aqua bike (July with my sister)

3) Do an Olympic Distance Triathlon (August, maybe Chicago)

4) Go to the Gym at least 4 days a week (may not seem to be enough but I run primarily outside these days)

5) Ride my bike to work through the summer

6) Watch less TV

All of these goals lead to my dream of becoming an athlete.

I know much of this may seem redundant to my faithful readers, however I've learned that this blog is as much for me as it is for you. The more I write it, the more I believe it, the more I live it...