Best Giveaway Ever! HOKA ONE ONE

You guys. I have such an exciting giveaway to share with you today that I can barely stand it! Seriously, I think this is my favorite giveaway so far, and that says a lot. You know I’m not a huge fan of product reviews and I don’t give away things that I don’t absolutely love. You also probably have figured out by now that I absolutely LOVE my HOKAs.

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HOKAs make me jump for joy!

Sure, like many people, I was skeptical at first. After all, the appearance of the shoe is unorthodox for sure. The maximalist cushioning combined with the minimal heel-toe differential is not the norm. But I tried them, I loved them, and I’ve successfully run several races in them. So many of you have reached out to me with questions about HOKAs and many have reported that you bought some for yourself and loved them, too!

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My newest pair of HOKAs arrived this week (Stinson 3)! Can’t wait to try them out!

Well, if you haven’t tried HOKAs yet or if you’re in dire need of a new pair (or if you just like free stuff), today is your lucky day! HOKA ONE ONE has generously offered to give away a free pair of shoes to one lucky reader! You can pick any trail or road pair on the website, so no matter what your preferred surface, this giveaway is for you!

We’re also making it super, super easy to participate. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog using a valid email address telling me why you want to try HOKAs or why you already love them! That’s it!

The giveaway runs until 11:59 pm on Monday, September 7! Enter now!

On Not Throwing in the Towel

I’m standing in my kitchen typing this as I cook dinner between work, taking Rocket to the vet, and barre practice. Life these days sometimes feels like one long exercise in time management and making every second count. But that’s kind of what life is, right? Not wasting a second? And while that doesn’t always mean being productive and never sitting down and taking a break, to me, it means making every moment count for something. After all, we only have so much time here.

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Everyone at the vet’s office just adored him. I mean, how can you not?

And I’m telling you that to tell you this – I’m not giving up. Not today, at least, although tomorrow I may feel differently. I’m on a roll the past few days. I finished painting the bookcase I’ve been working on (finally- chalk paint is not for the faint of heart, my friends), I started a new project I’m excited about,  and most importantly…I went for a long run.

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Yes, I know that is an abysmal before picture. Just imagine your stereotypical Craigslist laminate bookcase. It cost $25. The after is much more appealing!

But let’s back up. I went for a short run on Thursday and felt pretty good. I’m not running fast these days (not even fast-for-me), but still, I had some pep in my step. I ran for about an hour and the whole time, I was thinking about what to do about a fall marathon (or two, or none). I went through my obligations for each weekend between now and the two races I’m looking at and I realized that with some dedication, a nice easy pace, and a little luck, it’s possible. Since I’m running by time these days and not by distance (haven’t worn my Garmin in months), I mapped out approximately how long I would need to run on each weekend and figured I would just take it week by week. This past weekend called for a two hour run.

I set out from my neighborhood with no real plan at all other than a vague idea of places to run that wouldn’t totally get me lost. The weather was cool and overcast (relatively speaking, for a South Carolina August morning) and I decided to run more by feel than by constantly checking my heart rate monitor. I’ve noticed that every time I look at my watch, my heart rate goes up from worrying about if I’m on the right track or not! Ridiculous. I still checked it from time to time, but not obsessively.

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No photo has yet to adequately capture the amount of sweat pouring off me, but I keep trying.

I’m happy to say that despite the hills, how out of shape I am, and the fact that summer is still hot, even when it’s cool, the 2 hours went really well! I never felt like I was dying. I only walked for a little bit after some huge hills when my heart rate was way too high. Did I feel like I could run a marathon? No. But I feel like I can run for 20 or 30 minutes more next week, and 20 or 30 minutes more the week after that.

I don’t know where this “training” schedule, if you can call it that, will take me. It may or may not result in a finish line any time soon. What I do know is that I’m excited about running right now, and I’m determined not to let a busy schedule get the best of me and steal my joy. The pressure is off and my game face is on.

Oh yeah, and no big deal, but…I’m officially a certified Barre3 instructor!!

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And by “no big deal” I mean MASSIVELY HUGE DEAL

LEAVE A COMMENT: Are you training for a fall race? Which one?

 

Hope Floats

You know sometimes when you feel really overwhelmed and you just need that one sign that progress is being made? Just a little sign from the universe that says things are going in the right direction? Well, I got that this week. Or rather, I guess you could say I created it. I finally finished my very first DIY project for our house! Well, first furniture project. We’ve done plenty of other stuff. Anyway, it is stupid that something so small would be so meaningful to me, but it is. When we first moved into the house, I had all these plans for furniture I was going to refinish, rooms we were going to completely overhaul, etc., and a lot of that has fallen by the wayside between work and Barre3 certification. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have my amazing parents helping us at every single turn, but I was getting frustrated because I could never help. It felt like I was never going to be able to get all this stuff done and it was just going to loom over me forever, reminding me of my poor choices and ridiculous schedule. But then, I got an hour on Sunday night to work on the cedar chest I bought from Craigslist. I bought this hope chest for $60 the week we moved in, and I’ve been working on it for half an hour here or there whenever I can spare a few minutes.

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Top – before! Stained pretty dark and really dirty strapping. Bottom – After I had cleaned the metal strapping on the left side. Huge difference!

And little by little, the natural beauty of the old chest came out! I was so excited to finish it and store our ski stuff in there, you would think I had won the lottery. #DIYnerd

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Before (top) and After (bottom)! Please excuse my terrible pictures.

So anyway, no, it is not the biggest deal in the world or the largest accomplishment ever, but it makes me feel like it is possible for me to finish the things that I have started. And yes, maybe it will only happen 15 or 30 minutes at a time, and it might take me a month to finish a piece of furniture or to finish unpacking a room or whatever, but the point is, it is possible. And that makes me feel like maybe everything else is possible too.

On the Barre3 certification front, things have been going really well since we got back from Portland. I am hoping to submit my certification video early next week and get this show on the road! I am feeling a thousand times more confident, and although I have almost quit multiple times due to stress, anxiety, and a general feeling of being the worst barre instructor ever, I’m glad that I’ve stuck with it. I’m having a blast with the other instructors and I’m so excited to be a part of bringing Barre3 to Greenville!

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I remember once when I ran

And running….oh, running. I’m trying. It’s not going so great. I am working late almost every night and have barre practice most nights after work. If I don’t have practice and am not working til 10 pm, I run. We have been out of town the past few weekends and it is really hard to get in the groove of any type of training schedule, so I don’t know what my fall is going to look like. I’m trying not to panic about how far behind I am in training, but it’s hard not to, especially with no end to this madness in sight. Of course, the whole situation is giving me a lot of anxiety (what else is new?) so I try and keep reminding myself that it’s just running. Running is not more important than my marriage or my job or my sanity, and there are only 24 hours in a day. So for now, I am doing the best I can and I’ll see what happens in the fall. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of game time decisions.

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If you’ve never played fantasy football, you wouldn’t think a draft would be stressful. If you have played for 13 years, as I have, you know better.

Some people have asked me  (in my normal life) why I take so much on and why I don’t like to quit things or let go of different areas of my life when I start to feel so stressed out. It’s very easy for people around me to say “Oh, well, just quit barre” or “Don’t work so much” or “Pay someone to put in your floor instead of doing it yourself.” I find that type of advice frustrating because I take commitments very, very seriously. If I decide that I am going to put effort into something and I fully commit mentally to it, I am going to do it. The reason for that is because when I was a kid, I was a huge quitter. I didn’t like things to be hard, and I always wanted them to be fun. I quit more sports and hobbies than I can count, and as I became a teenager, I began to hate that about myself. My natural tendency is to quit when things get hard. As I’ve gotten older, I have swung so far in the opposite direction that it borders on dangerous. I cling to everything until it is absolutely done, and I am extremely stubborn about it because I am terrified that if I let myself quit even one thing now, I will never finish another one. That’s why the furniture I bought with the intention of repainting is still in my garage – because I am afraid that if I move it upstairs and start to use it as it currently is, I will just say “forget it” and never get around to painting it. Kind of insane, right? But, if there’s one thing you can count on with me, it’s that I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do – it just might take awhile.

Anyway, the point of this post is to say that amidst all the (mostly) self-inflicted stress and craziness, there are occasionally moments when I feel like I’m a functioning adult and I’m doing ok. At the end of the day, I would always rather have too much to do than too little. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, as they say.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What little rays of hope have you gotten recently?

Headless Chicken Status

Uh, yeah. The title is exactly what it sounds like.

This is a quick post to let you know I’m alive. Suffice to say, things are absolutely nuts. Work is non-stop, barre instructor training has been a lot more time consuming than I expected, and I just spent the weekend in Portland at our intensive training (think 12 hours a day of barre every day for 3 days). Combine that with a red-eye back home, tons of deadlines, and a house that still looks like it has been through a tornado, and here we are.

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My co-instructors and I after taking a class at the very first Barre3 studio, in the Pearl District of Portland! Epic.

I am trying really hard to keep my head above water, but if I am being honest, it is a challenge at best. I am the type of person who takes my commitments very seriously, and I get majorly stressed out if I feel like I am letting people down. I want everyone to be happy and that is often at my own expense. The reality is that I put too much on my plate and underestimated my schedule, but I’ve made my own bed, so now I have to lie in it. A few things, like this blog and my sleep, are clearly falling by the wayside because unfortunately, they’re sort of flexible.

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Our whole training group by the Willamette River

I know that things will calm down eventually and I take great solace in that, but for now, I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Or should I say I’m not running around. My HOKAs pretty much just glare at me every day when I open my closet. I ran once last week because I have spent every spare minute that I’m not working training for barre. It looks like that will be the case for the next few weeks. I am running every time I possibly can…it’s just not very often right now.

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First run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and through Downtown Greenville!

I’m trying not to beat myself up, but at this point, I feel like I suck at pretty much everything. It’s a side effect of spreading myself too thin, to be sure. You’d think I would have learned by now, but I have way too many interests and there are so many things that I want to commit myself to that I just never learn. I am fortunate to say, however, that I truly enjoy all the things I am doing – I just wish I had more time to do all of them!

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Outside our adorable apartment in Portland! Love these girls.

Anyway, I will do the best I can to post. I am literally racked with guilt every time I don’t post regularly, so please know that it is on my mind. I am responding to emails as quickly as I can, so please be patient and keep sending them! I do read them all and I will respond to every single one. Til next time, pray for AJ’s sanity. He needs it dealing with me!

Do you frequently over-extend yourself?

Moving and Mayhem

Well, friends, we’ve made the big move! After what seems like years (but is actually about 4 months) of talking about it/planning for it/packing/selling/buying, AJ and I moved into our new house this past weekend. We moved about two hours away out of the sweltering Midlands of South Carolina (just outside of Columbia) to the Upstate and are now living in lovely, minimum-of-five-degrees-cooler, closer to the mountains, wonderful, magical, Greenville, SC!

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Tiny stolen picture of my new city!

Thanks to the help of our truly amazing family and friends, we managed to get all of our stuff up here and unloaded in one afternoon. That is not to say that we got it all unpacked, obviously, as it currently looks like a box factory exploded in our house. T-Rex Mom stayed with us for five days and was such a huge help in painting many rooms of the house – and by huge help, I mean she did most of it. I have been working some pretty crazy hours lately and she likes painting, so it has worked out well. We have a long way to go in terms of getting the house where we want it, and we’re in the process of updating pretty much every room except the kitchen (which was already basically my dream kitchen), but we are making good progress. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, or so T-Rex Mom keeps reminding me. Side note – AJ and I watch a lot of HGTV and they make home improvement look really fun and easy. Home improvement is not particularly fun or easy, at least in my experience.

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The master at work! Yes, she is painting directly over the wall paper. Yes, it worked beautifully. No, I did not get my skin coloring from her.

I have absolutely loved running around my neighborhood so far. I can run for miles and miles and never have to run on a main street, just going from one neighborhood to another. It is definitely hillier up here, but it’s rolling and I’m enjoying it! It also doesn’t hurt that the weather is a lot cooler. I’ve seen some improvement in my heart rate and pace, so that is coming along slowly but surely! I am already so much more excited about running just because of the slightly better weather and the great running routes.

In addition to that whole moving thing, I’ve also taken the opportunity to add even more stress into my life, because of course I have. Barre3 is opening a studio in Greenville in August and word got down to my Columbia studio that they were looking for instructors. My instructors in Columbia knew I was moving up there and really encouraged me to consider going through the training and certification progress, and after talking with the Greenville studio owner, I decided to do it! Suffice to say the timing is not ideal, as the studio opens at the end of August and I have to go to training next weekend while trying to fit in practice and studying with long work hours and trying to get settled into a house, but it’s something I’m really excited about. I’ve never really taught anything before, and it is a huge step outside my comfort zone since I’m not terribly outgoing and I’m definitely not loud, but I think it will be a great way to meet people, spread the Barre3 gospel, and of course, earn a little extra money. I am definitely nervous about going through the certification process, and I hope I can find my “voice” before all is said and done. I just want to get other people as excited about Barre3 as I am, so whenever I get anxious and freak out over not being the perfect instructor, I try to keep that goal in mind.

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Not related to barre in any way, but one of my many Craigslist projects – this is the before picture

Yes, you could definitely say things have been hectic around here, but I couldn’t be happier with the changes we are making and the way things are working out. It took a bit longer to find a house than we were hoping, but I’m thrilled with the one we ended up getting. I’ll be sharing some before and after pictures as we make updates and changes, so stay tuned! Oh, and if you live in Greenville and want to be my friend, please let me know, because I know approximately two people and I am married to one of them.

LEAVE A COMMENT: When was the last time you moved? Are you obsessed with HGTV and then disappointed to find out home renovation is not as fun as they make it seem?

A Tough Decision and a Training Update

Every year, I sign up for at least one fall marathon, and every year, I want to stab myself come July when it is time for training to start and I remember that it is 91,000 damn degrees  and humid in central  South Carolina during the summer. But yet, I never learn my lesson. Here we are, it’s July, training has begun, and it is the worst.

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No, but seriously.

Before I go into an update on how my heart rate training is going, I have a kind of sucky and surprising announcement. I am not running the New York City Marathon this fall. After a lot of careful consideration, tantrums, bargaining, depression, and the occasional rage spiral, I have made the surprisingly adult decision to cancel my registration and defer to next year. The reason for this has nothing to do with training and everything to do with finances. See, NYC is an expensive marathon no matter how you slice it. AJ doesn’t often come to races with me, but he was born and raised in New Jersey and spent a lot of time in NYC growing up, so he really wants to go with me. Even if we stay with friends, there are a lot of costs and logistics that unfortunately make the race impractical this year. We are closing on our new house on Friday (!!) and we are trying hard to pay off some debt we accrued during the home selling process (hello, surprise new air conditioner) and make some improvements to our new house. As much as it sucks, it is the right thing to do, and I’m at peace with it. I know I would feel very guilty if I did it this year, so I would rather wait until next year when the timing is better and I can plan more carefully. I booked my trip to Dubai before I found out I got into NYC, and I’ve been saving like crazy for that but realistically won’t have a lot of money left over for NYC.  Oh well. As much as I try to avoid it, practical adult decisions are occasionally required.

However, I still really want Route 66 to be my 50th marathon this year (if I can come up with the money for a plane ticket out there). I’m at 48 marathons right now, so I need to squeeze in one more before then! Fortunately, there are a few fairly local races in late October/early November that will require very little, if any, travel expense, so I’m picking between those right now. You know what that means? That means training is on, baby.

After my enlightening first run with my heart rate monitor, I’ve been kind of addicted to the thing ever since. I have a love-hate relationship with the HRM. I love it because I know that I am doing a good thing for my body and that it hypothetically will help me to eventually run faster at a lower heart rate. I hate it because it makes me run so, so, so much slower than I am used to. Now, in theory, I don’t mind running slower. But to keep my effort level where it is supposed to be, we’re talking 12-13 minute miles right now, which is only possible for me to do if I alter my stride quite a bit.  Let’s be honest – it’s not like I’m some speed demon, it’s just not a natural running pace for me. There’s also the small issue of it being over 100 and humid pretty much every day here in central South Carolina, and there is very little shade. While running slower definitely does help with the overheating, it means I’m outside for a lot longer, which is basically torture.

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I seriously considered doing all my mileage on the lone quarter-mile stretch of shaded road because it is 102 and humid here in central SC and I just give up.

I will say that knowing that my effort level will be lower and that I won’t constantly feel like I’m going to die from exertion (heat yes, exertion no) means I’m a lot more upbeat about getting out and going for my training runs. It has also been nice to take the pressure off and not worry about pace, since I just have to do what my heart rate monitor says. Having read more and more about heart rate training and talking to people who have tried it, I know that it can take a really long time to see progress. As always, I like to trick myself into thinking I am a special snowflake and I will make progress in a quarter of the time it will take a normal person, but realistically, that’s not the case. SO, I’m mentally preparing for the long haul and I’m interested to see how marathon training goes. It’s not like I’m running any blazing times lately anyway.

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That awkward moment when not even the “Just Cry, Sad Songs” playlist is slow enough for your HRM pace.

One thing that I have found difficult about heart rate training is that I feel very awkward and embarrassed about running with people. I don’t want anyone to have to slow down for me, and it is a little weird to be running so much slower than I used to. I already used to run with people who were quite a bit faster than me so I had to speed up and they had to slow down for us to run together, but now it’s a whole different ball game. I’ve been a little anti-social with my running lately and I anticipate that it will stay that way unless anyone I know is just absolutely dying to go run for much longer than necessary in the blistering sun with me.

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One benefit of running with me is that sometimes I take slide breaks. Also, I wear colorful shoes.

While I have a felt a little pressure (from both myself and a general fear of missing out) to run faster, I’m determined to stick with HRM training. I’m proud to be trying something that could be really good for my body, and at the very least, give my heart and body a little break from so much physical stress. Perhaps a great fall marathon will be my reward!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Are you training for a fall or winter marathon? Which one?

Q & A with AJ : What my husband really thinks about my running

After seeing my friend Allie’s hilarious questions and answers post featuring her five year old twins and what they think about her running (and biking and swimming), I was inspired to ask my husband some questions. Now, I’m pretty sure I know what he thinks about my running (he thinks I’m nuts) but I was genuinely curious to know how much he had actually observed about the day-to-day details of my routine since he’s not the most observant person on the planet, bless his heart. I was pleased to find out that he understand considerably more about my running routine than a five year old, so that’s something. Italics are my own comments on his answers.

What do I eat before a run? Tacos.  Or healthy food, I guess. (I actually don’t usually eat before I run…but if I did, it would be tacos. Also, I do appreciate that he knows that I eat “healthy food” but I guarantee you he does not know what that healthy food consists of.)

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Someone please buy this for me immediately.

How far do I run every day? About 5 miles (Pretty close, although I don’t run every day).

What kind of running shoes do I wear? HOKAs, or as I like to call them, the grandma shoes. (Ok, but they’re like COOL grandma shoes.)

How many times a week do I go to barre or do a different workout than running? 5-6 times (Currently it leans towards 6-7…what can I say? I’m an addict. He wouldn’t know this because he is never awake when I leave the house, though.)

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Finally made it to the 100 class club at barre this week! Pic from my Instagram

What is my favorite race? Hatfield McCoy or Route 66 (Duh. Route 66 might have taken over just because I know and love so many people in Tulsa, but it’s close).

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It’s hard to compete with this one!

Why do you think I run? I think the short answer is to keep yourself sane. The long answer is it’s something you’re in complete control of and helps you settle your mind and also keeps your heart healthy. I think it’s evolved over time. (Bless his heart, he gives me so much more credit than I deserve.)

What injuries have I had from running? Can I just answer what injuries you haven’t had? Hip fracture, your back issues, various back issues, countless sunburns. (Ok, rude. First of all, I don’t think we can count back issues twice. Second, I’m not sure a sunburn counts as an injury. Third, he missed my tibia stress fracture. On second thought, I guess he has made his point.)

Do you like going to my races? That very much depends on the race, where it is,  if it’s football season, and if they give away free beer at the end. Your average race, no, but your average race is tough to spectate. (So basically, no, he does not like going to my races.)

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This is AJ’s actual marathon spectating face

Does my running make you want to run? Next question. (Ha!)

Let him say what he wants, but we both know the truth. The truth being that he doesn’t totally hate run-walking about 3 miles (and no more) once in awhile.

What have you learned from having a wife who runs? I’ve learned that the “I don’t have time” excuse isn’t valid for anyone who wants to run, and most people are amazed when you say you run marathons but half of them don’t even know how far it is. (Aww, how sweet! Also, we need a world wide race distance education program.)

 

LEAVE A COMMENT: Go ask your significant other, child, dog, or coworker all of these questions and then report back immediately. I found the answers so interesting!!

Well, That Escalated Slowly.

Last week, I decided to order a heart rate monitor. To be completely honest, I ordered it because I’m still trying to lose the stupid weight from last year and I wanted to make sure that my nutrition was realistic for the amount of activity I’m actually doing. While many food and fitness trackers like My Fitness Pal or Weight Watchers have algorithms to calculate the approximate number of calories burned during an activity based on your height and weight, they can be pretty inaccurate, especially if you’re in good shape and your heart rate doesn’t get as high. In that case, you would not burn as many calories during an activity as someone who is out of shape. So, I assumed that maybe I wasn’t able to lose the weight because I was burning fewer calories than the app was guessing and things just weren’t balancing out numbers-wise.

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I like precisely one salad.

I had no intention of using the HRM for training purposes; I just wanted to track my calorie burn. I couldn’t imagine that the information would be terribly fascinating. Imagine, then, the shock I received when I did my first “long run” (a whopping 10k, let’s not get too excited) since the Casper Marathon at what I thought was an easy pace. By easy pace, I mean the pace I do most of my runs at. My normal speed. Usually somewhere around 9:15 pace, give or take. Well, I kept checking my heart rate throughout the run and it was consistently between 185-189. Ummm… For those of you who know nothing about heart rates, that is really freaking high.  Depending on what measure you use (apparently, there are many), my max heart rate (the typical formula is 220 minus your age (29)) would be 191. That formula is notoriously flawed, but no matter how you slice it, a heart rate of 189 is not an easy effort. Now, I know my heart rate goes a LOT higher than that when I have trouble at races, but it’s not supposed to. And I also know that if you’re running at your max heart rate, that’s probably not an easy effort, even if you don’t feel like you’re dying, so I started looking into heart rate training.

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NOT IN ZONE – womp womp. At least my watch/HOKA combo is colorful?

I’m not going to explain everything about heart rate training here because honestly, my head was spinning while trying to absorb it all and I’m pretty sure I could not do it justice. So if you’re curious, here’s an article from Runner’s World that does a pretty good job of explaining it all. From all the resources I read, here were my three main takeways:

  1. I need to go a LOT slower. Like, probably 1-2 minutes per mile slower for easy efforts.
  2. I will eventually adapt and recover faster and be able to run faster at a lower heart rate.
  3. Training by heart rate can help prevent burnout and injury resulting from overtraining.

Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s summer and I’ll take any excuse I can get to run slower, but after the eye opening run over the weekend, I decided to test things out for an easy run yesterday. I calculated a ballpark figure to aim for with the following formula: (Max HR minus resting HR) x .70 + (Resting HR). For me, that comes out to about 151 beats per minute. Yikes!

I want to formally acknowledge, right here and now, that the speed at which my body can run with my heart rate at 151 beats per minute is roughly equivalent to how fast my grandmother can walk. I am not exaggerating. I felt like I was almost standing still. In order to keep moving at this pace, I had to put the saddest, slowest music ever on my Spotify playlist – think stuff like “My Heart Will Go On.” Seriously, my new running music is the same music you listen to when crying on the floor after a breakup. I had lots of time to ponder things on this little three mile jaunt, but mostly I thought about how exciting it was that my face would probably not be bright red when I got done running despite the fact that it was in the mid-90s and humid. It’s the little things, right?

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Didn’t quite hit my goal, but it’s progress, at least! #barelyinzone

Also, let the record show that heart rate training requires a lot of concentration, not unlike speedwork (except that the goal, at least in my case, is always to go slower). I was constantly looking down at my watch to make sure I wasn’t too high above the approved “zone”, although I’m going to be honest, this was more of a guideline for me. I just tried to keep my heart rate in the 150s because it was challenging enough to find a running pace that would allow that. I have no idea what my pace was for the loop, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was probably in the neighborhood of 11 minute miles. You know what’s not that great? Being out in the boiling summer sun for a second longer than necessary. I was right, though – no red face when I was done!

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Red face? No. Enthusiasm? Also no.

While I’m hoping for quick improvement, I know that this process will require some patience on my part. Many people see dramatic improvement in their speed and endurance, but it can take a couple of months. I did, however, have a lower heart rate during my barre class this morning, so perhaps I’m on the right track already. I am hoping that training this way will help me feel less burnt out and reduce my risk of injury, not to mention improve my heart health. Fall marathon training is right around the corner, and I’m determined to make this season a great one!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever tried heart rate training or thought about trying it? What did you think of it?

 

The Fair Weather Runner

Maybe you’ve noticed, or maybe you haven’t, but I have not written about running since the Casper Marathon. That’s for a good reason – I hadn’t run since the Casper Marathon, which took place on June 7th. In the good ol’ days (the 22 marathons a year days) I never took time off after a marathon. I didn’t feel like I “needed” to (although that’s probably not true) and I certainly didn’t want to. But, as you know, it’s no longer the good ol’ days, and things around here have changed.

I intended to take at least a full week off from running after the marathon this time. After all, training for NYC doesn’t start until mid-July, so there was no rush. I wanted to give my back ample time to heal from potential trauma from the race. Fortunately, I actually wasn’t sore in the days following the race and felt no worse for the wear. Given how much concrete we ran on during the marathon, I’m going to go ahead and attribute this to my HOKAs, because this would never have happened in my other shoes. Even though I was feeling good, I decided to still take time off for both my body and mind and intended to start back the following week. Well, as luck would have it, the temperatures shot up into the 100s (with humidity!) the following week, and if ever there is an excuse not to run, triple digit heat is it, my friends.

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Me from May – September

At this point it’s probably appropriate to mention that I sold my house on Friday and AJ and I are now currently living with his parents for a month while we wait to close on our new house. That’s relevant primarily because we’re living in a different town about 20 minutes away from our old one, and I have absolutely no concept of running routes in this area. So my 30 minute run was a lot of weird experimentation and just running back and forth up and down streets and trying to figure things out as best I could. It will certainly be interesting for the next month, but fortunately, I won’t have to do too many long runs here before we move. I’m hoping to join a running group in our new city to make marathon training a whole lot more fun. I’m kinda over the long-runs-by-myself-thing at this point.

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Last day as a homeowner! Rocket and I moved in there together over 6 years ago and now we’re on the way to bigger and better things (with AJ too, but he wasn’t there when I bought the house so he doesn’t get to be in the picture).

Yes, I’m a wimp when it comes to the heat. I’ll push through it if I’m training for something, but if I’m not? Sorry, I don’t like running enough to have a heat stroke over it just for a good time. So, I told myself I’d run when the temperatures went below 100…and as a result, the first time I ran was yesterday. Yup. My first run was 3 weeks after the marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been slouching – I’ve gone to barre classes at my studio six days a week, ridden my bike a few times, and gone to the gym to get on the stairmaster. But I think any runner knows that the only thing that truly simulates running is running, so I expected the going to be fairly rough. Training doesn’t start for a couple more weeks, so I set out for an easy 30 minutes with my main goal simply being for my body not to break down or overheat.

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How does anyone take a normal looking “overhead” selfie? No, seriously. Look at the size of my head compared to my feet. For this and more excellent photographs, follow me on Instagram.

The run was actually an amazing success. I held a decent pace (or so I think), I never had to stop and walk from heat stroke or exhaustion, and I enjoyed being out there. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it? I’ll be building my base back up and then slowwwwlllyyy easing back into marathon training in the coming weeks. Pray for cooler weather.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Would you rather run in the heat or the cold? Do you have certain temperature thresholds where you head inside to run on the treadmill or won’t run at all?

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

If you follow me on Instagram or know me in real life, you have probably seen some of the very strange photos I’ve posted while at work, leading you to ask yourself, “What does she DO?” Well, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in asking yourself that because I can virtually guarantee that my friends and family could not tell you either outside of something vague like “she goes outside a lot and writes a lot.” Both of those things are true, but today I thought I’d give you a little peek into the other side of my life – the side that actually takes up the vast majority of my time and has nothing to do with running except when I’m fleeing from mosquitoes. We’re going to talk about my job! I promise not to make it a snooze fest and can virtually guarantee that you’ll learn something by the end, deal? Deal.

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Not to worry, more unflattering pictures of me are on the way! This one was taken during field work in southeastern Georgia during a combination rain storm and mosquito swarm – basically my worst nightmare.

Ok, so first thing’s first: my actual job title is Environmental Specialist. Pretty useless in terms of information, right? My job is a combination of three things: environmental planning (the writing part), field science (the outside part), and GIS analysis (the mapmaking part). The background of my position is that the National Environmental Policy Act was passed in 1969 and requires federal agencies to take environmental impacts into consideration when they are making decisions and requires that the agencies look for alternatives that will minimize impacts to the environment. That basically means that your state can’t just decide to build a brand new road anywhere they want without first thinking about the best, least damaging place to build that road. In order to prove that they considered different options and that the new project won’t cause unjustified damage to the environment, they are required to write a document that provides the evidence. That’s where I come in!

I primarily work on transportation projects like road and airport improvements, but we also occasionally work for the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. The environmental documents that I write for these projects cover everything from impacts to natural resources, such as wetlands, endangered species, wildlife, and rivers to human resources such as historical resources, neighborhoods, socioeconomic data, and more. Impacts to both the human environment and the natural environment are weighed across many categories to determine which alternative is the best choice. Depending on how involved the project is determines the size and scope of the document. It may take me a week to write a small document or three to five years working with a whole team to write a large one! If you’ve ever wondered why it takes so long to widen that highway near your house that’s backed up with traffic, now you know – the environmental process takes a very long time.

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Sometimes it takes longer because we have to walk across sketchy bridges like this

In order to get all of the information we need for the documents, a big part of the work involves going out to the physical project location and flagging out all the wetlands, looking for endangered species, and assessing aquatic resources. That’s where all of my crazy pictures come from! I didn’t know anything about wetland science when I first started working in this field. I had no idea I would ever end up outside. In fact, I was hired strictly as a GIS analyst (making maps on the computer) when I graduated college. Then, my bosses figured out that I’m a decent enough writer and after that, they learned that I’m not afraid of snakes and don’t complain much when I’m in pain, so they sent me out to the field and the rest is history. I’ve now become pretty decent at identifying the different plants and trees and looking for habitat, but I mostly play second fiddle to the guys who do this full time and make sure they don’t get bitten by anything and collapse while we’re out there. I genuinely enjoy going out to the field when it’s below 85 degrees. Above that, not so much, but my boss doesn’t seem to care about my temperature preferences because it was over 100 today at the airport we were flagging. Oh well, better luck next summer.

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The best part of my job is when I find new animal friends like Mr. Charles the turtle. The second best part is when I make my coworkers take reluctant selfies with me.

The documents are accompanied by tons of figures, charts, and graphics that help convey the data in a more interesting and understandable way. Interesting fact: the documents have to be written at an 8th grade level because the public needs to be able to read and understand them so that they can comment on projects that have the potential to affect them. I love that aspect of my job because I enjoy the challenge of taking extremely technical information and putting it into terms that are not only understandable to the average person, but also interesting to read. In order to do that, we include a lot of maps of the project area showing various types of impacts, which is the final part of my job. It’s funny that the field I got my degree in is actually the area I do the least amount of work in, but it’s all still related.

So if you’re wondering why it’s taking so long to widen the highway near your house or build the new metro line that’s been promised, it’s probably my fault. And if you’re wondering if there’s any method to the madness in how government decisions are made as they pertain to the environment, I can tell you that yes, there usually is. I can also tell you that public opinion is very important in what I do, so if there is an upcoming project you hate or one you love, don’t be afraid to stand up and make your voice heard! It really does matter, and I promise you there is someone just like me near where you live that is reading all of your comments and responding to each one. I know because I have to do it too.

I’d be lying if I said that this is the career I thought I would grow up to have, because it definitely is not. I wanted to be a large animal vet until I found out I had to take physics. So while a few years ago I don’t think I would have said I’m living the dream, I can honestly say I genuinely like what I do. It is interesting and challenging and it’s never the same thing two days in a row. It’s nice to be able to get out of the office pretty regularly and hone a variety of different skills. Plus, I’m not afraid of snakes and am very useful for moving them out of the way when running with a group.

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Almost stepped on my buddy Floyd here. He was cool about it.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your job? Can your friends and family explain what you do?