The One Where I Accidentally Start Training

For about 6 weeks, give or take, I’ve been running however much and however often I damn well please. I have taken the following steps during this process:

  1. Ditch my Garmin and run by feel.
  2. Give up my idea of how many miles a run needs to be to be “worth it” (previously 6 miles) and run as long or as short as I feel like running.
  3. No set schedule of days I have to run – just go on the days I want to go, whether that’s 3 days in a row or a week off.
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I know, right? I sound almost…relaxed.

I have to say, it’s been glorious and just what I needed. Although I initially found myself worrying that 6 weeks wouldn’t be enough time off to get my marathon mojo back (yeah, things were really in the toilet there for awhile), I’m pleased to say that I’m refreshed, ready, and excited to start a new training plan on February 2! In fact, I’ve found myself counting down the days.

There’s just one small problem. I accidentally started my plan on January 19.

And while you’re thinking “It’s literally impossible to accidentally start a  training plan,” it’s actually not.

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I’ve been waiting like 3 years to use this GIF

I ran according to the above-prescribed rules last week. And when I sat down and logged my miles, I realized that I had actually completed Week 1 of my plan. I thought about it further and determined that by starting a couple of weeks early, I would be able to give myself a grace period over our honeymoon to Argentina in April and not have to stress out about getting in a long run while in the Patagonia.

Most importantly, I feel ready to start again. I’m excited about the upcoming weeks! I’ll be using the Hal Higdon Marathon Novice Plan, which I guess might seem a little odd considering I’ve run 47 marathons. I decided to use this plan because it’s still a step up from the running I’ve been doing since my surgery – I’m bumping up to 4 times a week from 3 times a week. However, I will probably transition slowly into this and do 4 times a week every other week for awhile and see how it goes. This plan includes no speed work and is just about getting in steady base miles. That will help me keep the pressure off myself, and there is a pretty good chance I’ll do the entire training plan without my Garmin and just run by feel.

I suppose there is also a chance that I’ll get halfway through marathon training and just not feel like doing it anymore, but I’m hoping that won’t happen. If it does, though, I think I am at a place in my life where I can be ok with that. The 6 weeks I’ve taken off have shown me that I do love running, but I might get into training and realize that I don’t exactly love that.

When I first started running a few years ago, people used to ask me pretty frequently “What are you running from?” I always lied and said nothing. Today, it’s a different story, because I feel like I’m running towards something – happiness with my life and contentedness with myself. I don’t know how many miles it will take to get there and I don’t know how fast or slow they’ll be, but I do know  that what matters is that I enjoy every step the way I am right now.

Hiking, Skiing, and Writing

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my New Year’s resolution to focus on my mental, physical, and emotional health. So far, it’s going pretty well. I did struggle a bit with the challenge, and although I’m continuing to do the challenge, I’ve also modified it a bit for my sanity, and I’m not stressing myself out over it because I’m pretty sure that’s not the point.

But more importantly, I’ve been making a conscious effort to take this time off of a true training plan (since my next marathon training plan doesn’t start until February and will be pretty light for a few months) to get outside more than usual and add some non-traditional workouts into the mix. Well, non-traditional for me. It also helps that AJ usually finds these activities less hateful than running and is more likely to do them without complaining. I am also attempting to get outside more in an effort to despise living in South Carolina less, since hating it is not doing my emotional health any favors. It’s not something I talk about on the blog, but anyone who knows me in real life knows that I’m not exactly in love with where I live. If I could live anywhere, I’d probably move out west to Wyoming or Colorado or Utah or FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SOMEWHERE WITH MOUNTAINS but for now, I’m stuck in central South Carolina. I’m working on making my peace with that while still plotting my escape and reminding myself (about every 30 seconds) that nothing is permanent if you don’t want to be. Well, except kids and amputations, but you know what I mean.

A couple weekends ago, we headed out to Harbison State Forest, which is about half an hour from where I live. If you recall, I used to do some trail runs out there. It’s a pretty place but the trails aren’t terribly exciting for hiking, although they’re pretty good for running and not killing yourself.

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It’s hard to take selfies when the other person is literally almost a foot taller than you

This past weekend, we went skiing with my best friend from high school, her fiance, and a bunch of their friends. I’m a bridesmaid in her wedding, so we wanted to get to know everyone beforehand. Plus, we do love skiing, even if I am mostly terrible at it and excruciatingly slow. We go a few times a year, and I always have a blast – I’m just not interested in breaking any more bones (12 in one lifetime is enough). I never fall, mostly on account of maintaining a steady speed of 2 miles per hour.

I did end up skipping a day of barre while we were skiing, since that was sort of an all day affair, but I did 13 days in a row and got right back on the horse on Sunday.

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Super fun new friends!

I’m already researching outdoor activities for this weekend! South Carolina people, give me your suggestions. It must include some type of thing that could be considered a physical activity.

One big thing I’ve been considering lately and spoke to AJ about this weekend is the possibility of writing a book. I’ve been approached about it a few times, but it has never felt like the right time. To be honest, I’m not sure right now is either, but I guess you never know until you try. I’ve always thought the idea was odd since I don’t think my life or story are particularly unique or interesting, but I guess some people do. The one thing that gives me pause is that the reasons why I started running, which have not been shared on the blog in any detail, are personally pretty traumatic. I don’t handle them well, and I don’t really like talking about them. That being said, I can’t write a book without including them in some form or fashion (while maintaining the privacy of those involved to the extent possible), which would cause me to have to spend even more time thinking about them. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, and I honestly don’t think it would be cathartic – it’s just a part of the story I can’t leave out. The book (and really, my path in life) wouldn’t make sense without them. With my focus being on health this year, I’ll have to evaluate how the writing process affects me and see if it is worth it. I’ve always known that if I ever did write a book, it wouldn’t just be a regurgitation of the stories on my blog – after all, you can read these for free, so that would be kind of rude. We’ll see.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What are your favorite outdoor activities? Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Challenges and Truth

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been taking part in something called the Barre3 Challenge. I’ve already told you how addicted I am to barre (a combination of yoga, pilates, and athletic ballet moves), and since the local Barre3 studio opened here in Columbia, I’ve been a loyal client. The workouts focus heavily on your core, which is great for my back, and I love the way it is changing my body! So far, I’ve made it a priority to go at least 3 times a week in addition to the other workouts I do. Don’t worry, this is not a love letter to barre. We’ll get to the part that might interest you here in a minute.

For the challenge, we’re supposed to do a 1-hour workout either in the studio (preferred) or online at least 4 times a week, try one new Barre3 recipe, and do one additional 10-minute online workout. We’re also supposed to eat only whole foods, avoid alcohol, added sugar, and caffeine.  I’ve been traveling quite a bit for work lately, so getting to the studio 4 times a week just isn’t happening most of the time. However, I decided to take the challenge one step further and commit to doing a 1-hour workout every day for the duration of the 4 week challenge (January 5 – February 1).

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Thank you to whoever told me about the app for making picture collages. You have substantially improved my quality of life/Instagram account.

Susie over at Suzlyfe wrote a post today about why she doesn’t like fitness challenges, which was rather serendipitous because I actually broke my challenge last night. I had a great day fitness and food wise, but I just really wanted a glass of wine.  I thought about it all day, figuring the craving would pass. It didn’t. And I found myself thinking “What is the real point of this challenge?”  For the majority of people, the point is probably to kickstart weight loss efforts in the wake of the new year, get them addicted to barre, and make some healthy changes in their lifestyle. I think those are awesome goals.

But what is the point when you already live a pretty healthy lifestyle? When you have struggled with an eating disorder and exercise addiction issues in the past? What if the focus of the challenge ends up conflicting with my focus on health because it is placing me in a restrictive and obsessive place mentally, even if I am getting “healthier” physically?

Some things about the challenge have been great – I’ve added some new recipes to my rotation, really focused on eating whole foods (and succeeded despite traveling so much for work) and tried to think about how different foods make my body feel. I’ve pushed my limits physically, and my abs may never forgive me for this if I complete the entire 4 weeks of doing a workout every day. I’ve also learned that I’m capable of more than I think, and I actually found myself craving greek yogurt with granola, which was rather jarring since I used to think greek yogurt was the single most disgusting food on the planet.

I also learned that I need to be flexible and kind to myself in regards to my workout schedule and what I’m eating or drinking. Last night, I planned to get on my bike and ride on the trainer for an hour after barre, but after working in the field all last week and doing a barre workout every day plus running a few times, I was just exhausted. I felt bad skipping the bike, but I’m not training for anything bike-related right now, so really, did I need to ride? Is exercising just for the sake of sticking to a schedule really in line with my focus on whole health? No. So, I didn’t. (For the record, the Barre3 challenge has nothing to do with any other forms of exercise – I just decided I would maintain my normal schedule plus add on all the additional workouts. Makes sense, right?) I was simultaneously guilt-ridden and relieved. And that craving for a glass of wine never went away, so I drank 1. I felt both bad and good about it.

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“If you’re not drinking wine out of a straw, you’re doing it wrong.” – Me

If challenges are about creating healthy habits and setting you up for a lifetime of success, you have to define what you want those habits and that success to look like. If your goal is to jumpstart your weight loss efforts, great! But don’t forget to think about what you’ll do to continue on that path after the challenge is over. For me, the challenge should compliment my focus on whole health rather than sidetrack it. I don’t want to be wracked with anxiety if I have a glass of wine or don’t stick perfectly to my work out schedule. I do want to move my body and be active in one way or another 95% of the time because it makes me feel good. I do want to eat foods that make me feel strong while also occasionally eating foods I enjoy that are just flat out delicious and have no nutritional value. I do want to have a glass of wine sometimes if I feel like it.

In Barre3, the two phrases our instructors always say are “Find your truth” and “Make it your own.” To me, that means finding what works for me on any given day and doing what makes my body and mind feel good. That’s a pretty worthwhile challenge in itself, if you ask me.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your “truth” when it comes to challenges? Do you love them or hate them?

Rethinking My Running

To be perfectly frank, things have been pretty rough in my running world since the Rehoboth Beach Marathon.  For reasons that I can’t entirely explain, that race completely wiped out my running mojo. Despite running a “post-surgery PR” by more than 10 minutes, I left feeling exhausted, depleted, and burnt out. The idea of continuing my training plan for my anticipated February goal marathon seemed pointless and unappealing. In all sincerity, I didn’t want to run at all.

Maybe I had unrealistic expectations for how I would feel during the race, or maybe I ran marathons too close together. I’m not sure. The only thing I know is I was ready to swear off running forever, which seems a bit dramatic (because it is), but also describes how I felt.

Ever since Rehoboth, I’ve focused on running as far as I feel like, when I feel like, however fast I feel like. If I want to walk instead of run, I walk. I haven’t worn my Garmin, although I usually know how far I’m going just because there’s only so many places to run in Columbia. I’ve felt the fun return to running as I let my self-imposed pressure slip away. After all, running is supposed to be fun, right? Isn’t that why I do it in the first place?

Part of the reason AJ even agreed to run with me in the first place was because I told him I didn’t care how far we went or what our pace was, and for once, I was being honest.

I sat down and thought about the races I was looking at for 2015. I considered my New Year’s Resolution. I thought about which races I was excited about, and which I was not. I came up with the following conclusions:

  1.  I don’t want to do a February marathon, whether it is fast or slow. Mentally, it doesn’t appeal to me.
  2.  I don’t want to do a training plan that only includes speed work. I like having easy miles that are relaxing and fun.
  3.  I want to complete a full training cycle before my next marathon with NO marathons thrown in the middle.

With those things in mind, the next marathon I will run is the Casper Marathon in Casper, Wyoming on June 7. This may be a tough race since it is at a higher altitude than I am used to, and I may not run very fast, but at least I will know that I have adequately prepared. Also, all of my friends from Tulsa are doing it, and although that alone is not an adequate reason to run a marathon (see my Women’s Running post for more), I’m genuinely excited about this event. I’ll be using a Hal Higdon training plan this time and will be running 3-4 times a week (probably alternating 3 times one week with 4 times the next) while maintaining my regular cycling and barre routines as well. The plan starts February 2, so I still have time to relax and enjoy my runs for a bit longer.

I want running to be fun again. I want to take the pressure off myself and enjoy the miles like I used to. Since my last marathon, I’ve actually had fun on all my runs because I was never stressed about what it meant if I couldn’t hit the right pace or got tired too soon. I certainly want running to be a part of my life in the long term, but I need to find a balance that works for me. The reality is that the reasons I started running 5 years ago are not the reasons why I continue to run now, so my relationship with the sport is constantly evolving. I don’t know how this next round of training will go, but I’m excited to find out!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever changed your approach to running?

My 2015 Resolution

I think there’s a law somewhere that every blogger has to write a post about their New Year’s resolutions, right? It certainly seems that way, and as a rule-follower myself, I would hate to upset the cosmic balance. 2014 was the first year that I actually stuck to my New Year’s resolution, which was simply to make choices that make my life more interesting. I can say with 100% certainty that I did that:

  • I had my feet on the ground in 7 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Canada, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Curacao
  • I took the plunge and had back surgery
  • I followed my heart and moved to Tulsa for the summer to devote 100% of my energy to Ramblen
  • I got engaged
  • I moved back to South Carolina and started a  new job
  • I finished my master’s degree (did I tell you guys that?)
  • AJ and I eloped
  • I worked really hard on figuring out what makes me happy
  • I put my heart and soul into the mental aspects of eating disorder recovery

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I’ve taken big risks this year and haven’t shied away from making choices that were unpopular (or extremely popular) just because someone else did or didn’t like them. I have lived outside of my comfort zone, and I was rewarded richly. The past 4 years have been the most transformative of my life, and while some of that might just have to do with that mid-late 20s soul searching, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have pushed myself really, really hard.

The reason I believe this resolution was so successful is because it was a change in my thought process, not simply my actions. The actions followed the thoughts, as it were. This year, I’ve decided to adopt another single resolution geared towards a thought process, since the last one was so successful.

My resolution for 2015 is to make choices that are good for my physical, mental, and emotional health.

This resolution has been born of a few factors: my seemingly never-ending health problems, the mental fatigue I’m feeling towards training, and a desire to live a happier, less stressful life. After all, many (although not all) of my problems are of my own creation. Seems silly to complain about something that I have control over, right?

By focusing on the three areas of my health, I hope to alleviate some of the anxiety I struggle with. I actually started working on this at the beginning of December. Here’s what it looks like so far:

  1. Take the focus off weight loss: I want my workouts to be about what makes me feel good, not about what burns the most calories. If I don’t feel like running, I’m not going to run. The important thing is to move my body each day and promote health. Example: While I was in Florida for our wedding/Christmas, I worked out every day. Some days, I just walked, others I ran, and some I did barre. Some I did all 3! I let how I was feeling guide what I wanted to do, and if I was tired, I slept.
  2. Think about what I want: I’m certainly guilty of letting peer pressure get the best of me at times. I’ve run many races and done plenty of things simply because I didn’t want to miss out on the fun my friends would be having. The most recent example of this was doing the full marathon at Rehoboth Beach, which ended pretty disastrously. In 2015, I’m not going to train for events I don’t want to do, go on trips I don’t want to take, or anything else just because someone else is doing it. Example: Amanda is about to train for a full Ironman. I am not.
  3. Remove stressful people and situations from my life where possible: Like many people, I can be a bit of a people pleaser. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings and I have a hard time sticking up for myself. I am working on setting boundaries for my mental and emotional health and explaining them in a compassionate way. Example: I recently turned down my ex-husband’s friend request on Facebook because I know being friends with him would effect my emotional health in a negative way.
  4. Eat what makes me happy: Each day, happiness with food is defined in a different way. Most of the time, I want to eat food that makes my body feel good and healthy and strong, so I focus on that. Some days, I really want to bake cookies and eat a lot of them. The key for me has been thinking about why I want to eat a certain food and how it will make me feel later. Example: While home in Florida, I generally ate really healthy meals – lots of seafood, rice, and beans. Knowing I was fueling myself in a healthy way helped me to feel better about drinking the extra glass of wine or another slice of wedding cake and enjoy those times with my family without (as much) guilt. Last night, I wanted to eat some cookie dough out of the container, so I did, salmonella risk be damned.

I’m sure there’s a lot more ways I can focus on my health, but to be honest, it’s taken me three days to write this post in the first place because I’m a terrible blogger, so I’m going to end this here. Besides, I really want to know what YOUR New Year’s resolutions are (or if you hate New Year’s resolutions), so leave a comment and tell me!

A Very Married Christmas

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have noticed a tiny little announcement that I made on Christmas Eve. It was microscopic, really. Almost insignificant.

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Yup! In case you missed it, AJ and I eloped in Key West on December 22, 2014. It was glorious (and yes, this was the big event I referenced in my last post). So easy and stress free and just an all-around positive experience. We got pretty stressed out by the whole process of wedding planning a few months ago, so we decided to just say screw it. We wanted to make sure we were able to focus on the part that was really important to us – each other and the ceremony – and we didn’t feel like we were able to do that when we were worrying about so many other details.

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We are still having a reception for all of our friends and family this spring, but now we can relax knowing that the most important part is over. Key West was absolutely wonderful, and we spent a great few days there. We used a company called Say Yes in Key West and they handled everything! All we had to do was decide what package we want and then pick out details like the bouquet, cake, etc from the many example photos they had. It was insanely easy and stress free.

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We spent the whole day together, which was fun! We went for a run in the morning and ran to the southernmost point in the continental U.S., just 90 miles from Cuba! We stood in line with about 50 of our closest friends from the docked cruise ships and got our picture taken.

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Then we ate breakfast, showered, and headed out to go apply for our marriage license! Non-Florida residents have no waiting period, and no witnesses are needed for the wedding. The court house was right across the street from mile marker 0 of US 1, which made for a convenient photo-op.

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Next was lunch, some time by the pool, and my hair and makeup appointment! After that, we got in the car and drove together to Ft. Zachary State Park, where the ceremony would be held at sunset.

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Pre-ceremony selfie!

For some people, it might seem a bit odd that we spent the whole day together before the wedding. I mean, AJ helped me put my dress on! But for us, it was perfect. There’s no one we’d rather spend time with than each other, and it just made the whole experience that much more fun, in our opinion.

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Before you ask how tall AJ is,  he is 6’4″ and makes me look like a “beautiful little troll” (actual quote from a dear friend) even though I am 5’6″ and actually not that short at all. 

The ceremony was short but sweet, and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with our faces and what the officiant was saying, since she had a very thick Russian accent. I almost laughed multiple times, but managed to hold it together for the sake of putting the “holy” in matrimony.

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No, we did not have to pay for the perfect timing of this sailboat.

After the ceremony, we took a bunch of pictures (professional photos will be back in a few weeks), changed, and headed to dinner! We had the wedding planning company make reservations at a restaurant called Latitudes, which is located on a small island off the coast of Key West. You have to take a ferry to get there, and our company made sure we had a table right on the water in honor of the occasion. It was the perfect way to celebrate!

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So, it was the perfect wedding for us. Our families and closest friends knew in advance, and we had their blessings. We’re very excited to celebrate with everyone this spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life With Ed, Part 9: A Good Day

Disclaimer: This is a series of posts about my experiences with anorexia and bulimia.  Many of the things I discuss could be extremely triggering if you are dealing with an eating disorder, so please read at your own risk.  I am not an doctor or a therapist. I am simply telling you my story. If you are interested in reading the rest of my series on life with an eating disorder, click here.

I debated sharing this post with you because it might be a little insane-sounding. Nonetheless, this was a big moment and realization for me, so here we are.

So, as I’ve whined about ceaselessly previously mentioned, I gained some weight after my back surgery. The total tally was about 10 pounds. Whether it was the result of decreased activity, changing my diet to go gluten-free, or who knows what else, it doesn’t really matter. The point is, my weight went up. I freaked out. I changed my diet, increased my exercise, and generally threw myself into an all consuming struggle to lose the weight. I wrote about that struggle here. While 10 pounds might not seem like a lot, it has affected my self esteem, my relationship, my social life, and my sanity in more ways than I care to admit. I’ve spent more time crying in the mirror than any grown-ass woman should.

Eventually, I had to put away the scale. I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted no matter what I tried, and it was tearing me apart. I decided to start measuring my various body parts as a way to demonstrate my progress, since I could see that I was toning up. I had to let go of weight as the only way to determine if I’m succeeding in my quest to get healthy. After awhile, I started weighing myself once a month, only on one assigned day. The rest of the time, the scale sat in my closet.

I made the mistake of weighing myself most recently a couple of days after my recent small surgery back in November. The anesthesia took away my appetite, and I ate next to nothing for about 3 days. Oh, what wonderful results the scale and measuring tape held for me that day! I was only 3 pounds away from my normal weight! Of course, as soon as I started eating again, I felt like my weight was going up and was just devastated about it. I have some big events coming up at the end of December that I’d like to look my best for, so I promised myself I was just going to focus on working out, making healthy choices, and put away the scale and the measuring tape. Clearly, there wasn’t much I could do about it in just a few short weeks without making drastic changes.

Yesterday, I woke up and got ready for work. Standing there in my underwear and looking at my abs, I actually felt pretty good about the changes I’ve made. Am I perfect or where I want to be? No, but barre, running, cycling, and healthy food choices are making a difference. My first thought was “I wonder what I weigh?” I immediately pushed the thought aside and swore to myself I would not weigh myself, lest I get depressed about the number. But then I thought, if I think I look good now, what difference would it make to assign a number to it? Why would that possibly change how I THINK I look? This in itself was revolutionary.

I promised myself that I would keep that feeling regardless of what the scale said. And then I weighed myself.

After all that hemming and hawing and hating myself, it’s the same weight as it was right after surgery, the one I thought I couldn’t possibly still weigh. Maybe I did gain some and then lose it again, I don’t know. And yes, it’s a higher number than I’d prefer to see overall, and at first, I cringed, but then I thought to myself “Who the hell is going to notice 3 pounds besides me?” NO ONE, that’s who. No one. Is 3 pounds really worth crying in the mirror and hating myself? Is 10? No.

I’ve been working a lot on positive self talk and on guiding myself to make good choices based on things that have nothing to do with my weight and outward appearance. That’s a pretty hard thing to do when you’ve been doing the opposite for your entire life, but I’m working on it. For example, in the past, I might have said something like “You have to go to barre tonight because you’re going to look like a fat pig in that dress next week if you don’t.” Now, I think that first. But THEN, I think “No, you need to go to barre because it makes you feel good and strong and your back needs a strong core to support it.” If I find myself stressed out and craving a big dessert after a long day, I normally would think “Well, you’re fat anyway and you can’t lose weight so you might as well.” Now, I still think that first. But THEN, I think “You deserve to make choices that make you feel good about yourself. Will this choice make you feel good, or will it make you feel bad?” And I try to answer that question honestly; the answer changes depending on the day.

Eating disorder recovery isn’t linear, and it isn’t easy. I will probably never call myself “recovered;” I’ll be perpetually “recovering,” at least, I hope, since that is better than relapse. It’s a process and something that takes a lot of hard work. No one can do it for me. While some days it seems hopeless and that I’ll never be able to change the way I think about myself, some days are days like yesterday. And then I think, “Maybe not today, but one day.”

 

Miles Raced, Memories Made, and a Giveaway!

If there is one thing I’ve emphasized over and over again on this blog, it’s that the miles I run are much more about the memories I make while running them than they are about the times in which they are completed. My quest to run a marathon in every state has never had anything to do with running the fastest marathon or even completing each one within a certain time limit. I’ve picked the races in each state that have really appealed to me for one reason or another because I’m on the journey with the intention of making enough memories to last a lifetime. Yes, sometimes those memories are not always fun, but I’ve learned something about myself in each and every race that has made them a valuable experience, regardless of how I’ve felt during the felt.

The main reason I started this blog is to record the memories I’ve made at races along the way. But what do I do with the “stuff” I accumulate during races, like bibs? Where do I record my stats? What does everyone else do with all their pictures? Until now, I haven’t really been sure, but I was recently contacted by a company called RACEDAY books. They specialize in binders that are similar to scrapbooks and are specially designed to record all of those memories in a convenient flip-book design. At first, I was skeptical about testing out the product because I’m not the most creative person in the world, but I realized that I do need a place to keep all the aforementioned stuff, and now that I am doing fewer races, the idea of keeping up with a book isn’t quite so overwhelming, so I decided to give it a try.

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Things were off to a good start. I ordered the pink book (they also come in green) and was greeted by this lovely display!

The first thing that I noticed about the book is the simplicity of its design. The book I reviewed has three main components: race details pages, photo pages, and clear sheets where you can insert a bib or whatever other mementos you so choose.

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This book belongs to ME

 

The race detail pages have space for pretty much every type of race statistic you can imagine. I’m not much for things like age group place and all that (probably because it’s usually rather depressing) but for people who like to record that type of stuff, this is the perfect place to do so. There’s even a spot for weather and other details.

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Detail page and photo page

If you’re the type that likes to add photos from your races, you can opt to add photo pages to your book. The first photo page follows each detail page. The photo pages are heavy cardboard, and the book itself comes with colorful tape (in the color of the book you chose) to make it easy to affix photos while keeping with the theme. Of course, you can use scrapbook paper, glue, or whatever else you want, but I’m a simple and lazy gal and I like this setup. Honestly, anything more complicated would be a deterrent to me because it would seem overwhelming. This never felt like something that was too hard to do or that would take too much time, so it made me want to actually set up my pages! You can add photos to both sides of the photo pages if you want. If you choose not to add photo pages to your book, you can still include great memories with the detail page and sheet protector, which can also hold photographs if you so desire.

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Clear page protector for the race bib

After the first photo page is a clear page protector that is designed to house the race bib. This is one of my favorite features of the whole book! I feel like most runners have some place to put their medals, but very few have some place to store their bibs. This is the perfect solution! A few years ago, I started to really appreciate races that take the time to create a unique bib, and I love keeping them! I have the race bib from every marathon I’ve ever done, but they used to just sit in a stack. No more!

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Final photo pages

After the page protectors comes another photo page, and then the section begins for the next race! Of course, you can shuffle the pages around so that you have more photo pages for a race with a ton of pictures and less for another. The choice is yours! My pages are fairly plain because I like them that way, but there is plenty of room for decoration and fun stuff.

I think RACEDAY books are a great option for runners who want a place to store their memories without getting into a full-blown scrapbook. There are definitely some limitations, since you don’t have the option of using your own specially designed paper and the book isn’t as big, but I think for all but the most hard core scrapbookers, it would get the job done. The book comes in green and pink, and there are lots of options on the website if you want to add on additional features!

RACEDAY books is giving away a 15-page binder to one lucky reader! Also, they have been generous enough to provide a coupon code good for 25% off through the end of the year! Just enter TREXRNR at checkout!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: RACEDAY Books provided the product sample and compensated me in exchange for my honest review of the product. All opinions are my own, for better or for worse.

Soul Searching – Rehoboth Seashore Marathon Race Report

I have a feeling this race report is going to be kind of a stream of consciousness type thing, primarily because I’m still not really sure how I feel about the results of this race. A lot of mixed emotions and, as you may have guessed, soul searching, occurred. I actually never intended to run the full marathon in Rehoboth. I have already run a marathon in Delaware, but Kate, Patty, Amanda, and some Oklahoma friends were all coming, and the three of them were doing the full. Amanda hadn’t run a marathon since April and was worried about keeping up, so I told her that I would run the full if my training after Prairie Fire went fine. It did, so full marathon it was.

I went into the race feeling confident. Amanda and I have been training hard using the Run Less, Run Faster plan, and although we haven’t been perfect, our training runs have gone very well and we’re doing a lot more speedwork and consistent training than we usually do. We decided that our goal for the race was to finish under 5 hours, which would be a post-surgery PR for me and what we thought would be a pretty easy pace.

But first, we had to get to the race. Amanda and I met Kate in the Charlotte airport, where we took our time getting drinks and ended up being the last ones on our flight. Oops! The Winthrop University basketball team was on our flight and 3 players were sitting behind us and very amused by the 15 selfies we tried to take. Fairly poor planning on our part resulted in a 7:30 pm arrival to Baltimore, followed by a 2.5 hour drive. After picking up our rental car, we didn’t get to the house where we were staying til almost 11 pm! You would have thought we were 90 years old with how dramatic we were. I rushed poor AJ off the phone because OMGSLEEP.

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Photobomb courtesy of Kellen on attempt number 15. Yes, we learned his name, and yes, he had that many opportunities to photobomb.

Fortunately, it was just a short walk to Patty’s hotel and the race start in the morning. We were able to meet up with the other ladies, grab our bibs, and relax before heading to the start!

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The security to get into Patty’s hotel was like freaking Fort Knox. Um, sir, we’re 3 small women we’re bright yellow shirts with obvious identifying information…we’re clearly not trying to kill anyone.

Of course, we missed the Maniacs picture (like always) so we took our own with some other poor planners.

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The town of Rehoboth Beach is actually quite lovely. Yes, Charlotte ran in that Santa outfit the entire race. She is amazing.

I went off looking for my friend JC at the start and FINALLY saw him. I was running over when I was suddenly stopped by a reader, Theresa, who said “T-Rex Runner?!” and we ended up chatting. By the time I turned around, JC was gone and the race was about to start! Theresa turned out to be extremely cool, though, so it worked out. And I’m still always surprised when someone recognizes me!

Our plan for the race was to run 10 minute miles as long as we could. Kate was hoping to PR that day and wanted to head out a faster pace, so we waved goodbye to her at the start. We were less than half a mile down the road when I saw two Team T-Rex shirts running side by side! I knew one was my friend Murray, but who was the girl next to him? I ran up and said “I like your shirt!” and she looked at me and said “OH! Oh gosh!” Turns out, her name is Jordyn and she is awesome. Seeing the two of them running together made me smile, and then also feel a little bad because I forgot to wear my shirt. Oops!

Around mile 4, the marathon course headed on to an unpaved multi-use path. I had no idea that was going to happen because I’m an idiot and never, ever check the course description unless I’m planning to PR (so, basically never). The soft, uneven surface (kind of like a sand/gravel mix) didn’t bother me at first, but a couple miles in and my wonky left ankle was already a little achy. I’ve had tightness and pain in it since my stress fracture last summer, but it doesn’t usually bother me when I run. I figured we’d be off the trail soon enough and put it out of my mind.

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The trail wound through a salt marsh and was really beautiful!

We were sticking to our 10 minute miles pretty well and Amanda, Patty, occasionally Murray, and I were having a blast running together and waving and yelling to all our friends along the out and back portions of the course. I usually really like out and backs because you can occupy yourself by cheering for all the people on the other side. That changed during this race, but we’ll get there in a minute.

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Our friend Heather took this picture of me, Patty, Murray, and Amanda. I look so happy!

Amanda’s hips started bothering her around mile 9 and she occasionally stretched at the water stops. Still, we were mostly sticking to the plan, but once we got back on the trail, I grew increasingly concerned about my ankle. It was hurting a lot at the halfway point. Amanda said she needed to slow down because of her hips and I was ok with that because of my ankle (which, by the way, normally only hurts AFTER I run…ugh), so I told Patty and she decided to go on ahead since she was feeling great.

Oh, what a suckfest the next 13.1 miles were.

I got a sharp pain in my back at mile 15 and could have just killed myself. I knew I was taking a risk by running two marathons so close together (just two weeks between Route 66 and Rehoboth), but I had really hoped that since I had taken it easy in Tulsa, I would be fine. I was instantly so angry and disappointed in myself for putting my back through this. I’ve never really felt like that before; it’s kind of hard to explain. Normally I just get frustrated because I’m hurt, but this time I was frustrated because I’m stupid. Does that make sense?

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Pre-suckfest in the state park. These are the only hills of the race.

Despite generally not feeling all that great, we kept running. My back kind of stopped hurting, although my ankle did not. We were a little more liberal with the walk breaks at water stations, but we kept moving forward at a decent pace. We were thinking we were off the trails for good, but just our luck – a looonnnnnggg out and back began around mile 19, and nearly the entire thing was on another trail.

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Another trail? Ugh Jesus take the wheel.

In the best case scenario in my mind, we would hit mile 20 at 3:30. That would give us a full 90 minutes to finish the last 6.2 miles, meaning we could basically walk the entire thing and still finish under 5 hours. Well somehow, despite how generally awful we were feeling, we hit mile 20 at 3:33! Hooray!

We hit mile 22 at 4:05.

Yes. You read that correctly. It took 32 minutes to go TWO MILES. We were running/slogging along and all of a sudden, my heart rate went through the roof. We’re talking over 200 bpm, checked multiple times. I even sat down for 5 minutes and checked it every 60 seconds and it didn’t budge. Walking didn’t help, sitting didn’t help, but we sat anyway, for quite awhile. Then, we started walking slowly and eventually jogging, hoping to avoid getting caught in another tachycardia. At mile 22, we still had not reached the turn around of this eternal out and back. We had been heading out, out, out for 3.5 miles watching all the people coming back towards us with no end in sight! Certainly not the ideal situation in the later miles of a marathon.

The last few miles, Amanda and I were determined to just keep moving forward. We talked a lot and did a lot of soul searching, as we had the entire race. Some of the questions we asked were, “Why does it feel like marathons are getting harder instead of easier? Why are we doing this to our bodies if they clearly do not appreciate it? Why bother training hard if we’re just going to have bad races? Where are the on-course margaritas when you need them?” [Note: I have never encountered an on-course margarita. If I did, I would drink it, finish the marathon, and then never run another one because that would be the pinnacle of racing for me and nothing could top it.]

Normally, the last couple miles of a marathon go pretty fast for me. This time, not so much. We crossed the finish line in 4:54 and some change, under our 5 hour goal.

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As always, I just really wanted to sit down. Any curb will do.

Nearly a week after the race, Amanda and I still aren’t sure how we feel about it or about training or marathons in general. Yes, we reached our goal, but I think we both expected it to feel a lot easier than it did. The reality is, it didn’t feel easy at all. Was that naive or inaccurate expectations on our part? Maybe, but I don’t think so. We’re committed to finishing our training plan and seeing how the race goes in February, but after that, we’re really not sure. Maybe it was just the trails, or maybe it was me running marathons too close together and her too far apart. I don’t know. What I do know is that running should be fun, and life is too short to be doing things that aren’t fun and that cause you pain. So, we’ll see. Either way, I always love running with one of my best friends, and seeing Patty and Kate and the girls was great too! Kate PRed, by the way, and Patty had a great race also! These memories are always worth it, no matter what.

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Post-race picture in the Fort Knox-esque hotel

If my friends weren’t so awesome, maybe I wouldn’t want to run so many marathons with them all the time :) Either way, I’ll be making sure to put at least a month between marathons from now on. I’m certainly not risking hurting my back. But I guess you don’t know your limits til you test them, right?

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The Winthrop basketball team was also on our flight home after getting beaten by my alma mater – GO TERPS! Kellen was perfectly happy to take a non-photobomb picture with us, though.

So, yeah. Still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, but I’m glad I went regardless. LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever had a tough race that makes you question why you run a given distance or if training is worth it?

29

Today, December 9th, is my 29th birthday. With each passing year, I’m honestly surprised that I survived another one and lived to blog tell about it. True story: when I was a kid, and especially a teenager, I could not imagine being older than 17. I did not have any type of life plans past that age because I really thought I would die in some tragic and yet ultimately moving and perhaps movie-appropriate way, like saving the life of a young child as I pulled them from a fire. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, but it did leave me with the ongoing conundrum that I still face today: I get to the next year and I’m like “Well, now what?”

I’m still clueless about what the future holds, but I think I’ve decided that that’s the way I like it. Any time that I’ve tried to plan out my life, it has ultimately ended up initially disappointing me but then giving me something even better instead, so I think I’m just going to go with it from now on. After all, 28 was a pretty kickass year of my life:

1.  I visited 6 countries: Japan, Canada (a repeat, to be fair), Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Curacao. I experienced totally different and amazing cultures in each of them and confirmed my passion for travel, geography, and all food except cuy (fried guinea pig).

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Day 3 of the Inca Trail – the best view I’ve ever seen

2. I spent most of it traveling around the country doing research for Ramblen, a true dream job. And with this, I confirmed my passion for health and fitness and my lack of passion for all people in airports.

3. I started writing for Women’s Running magazine both in print and online. My monthly column and weekly blog post have been a huge, challenging departure from what I do here on the blog, but I think it has really grown my writing. I love working for a magazine that is passionate about running and fitness for all women!

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My very first column

4. I finally womaned up and got back surgery. Best decision I ever made. It has changed my life. I actually mailed my surgeon a thank you note and some pictures from the Prairie Fire Marathon today to thank him because I’m sentimental like that.

5. I spent the summer living in one of my favorite places (Tulsa, Oklahoma) with some of my favorite people. I wish I could have stayed forever, but that’s not how it worked out, and probably for a good reason that I have not discovered yet.

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Country roads, take me home

6. I got engaged. I like to say that AJ and I work well as a couple because he is one of very few people who never annoys me. That’s not true, because he does sometimes annoy me. But really, he’s just the best and even though I don’t talk about him much, I hope you guys all get to meet him and make him feel uncomfortable someday. It’s my favorite past time and I’m sure you’d find the same joy as me.

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#engagementselfie

7. I was able to go back to running marathons. That wasn’t a given, and I’m grateful that my body is giving me another chance. My new schedule looks nothing like my old one, but I’m ok with that.

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Couldn’t have done it without Patty

Yes, it’s been a very good year filled with wonderful friends. And I think this might have been the year that I finally figured out that I don’t have room in my life for things, people, or activities that cause me stress or make me feel bad about myself. Eliminating all of that can be a challenge, but it’s a worthwhile one.

So, here’s to 29. I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be at this age – thank God.