Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let's Talk About It

A few things from my random out of order train of thought:

It is October 29th, 2 days before Halloween, and I have yet to make myself ill on candy corn. Victory.

This picture. Cracks me up.

Logic I can get on board with. Look Mom- I eat salads!!

Tonight’s speed workout: 12 x 400s. Was it fun? Not my top definition of fun. Was it terrible? No. Did our entire team consistently hit times roughly 10 seconds per quarter mile faster than the first time we did this workout? Yes. Yes we did. Felt pretty sweet. I mean, if you can run a quarter mile 10 seconds faster then you can run a mile 40 seconds faster so you can run 13.1 miles 8.73 minutes faster… right? So maybe my math isn’t exactly on point. (I’ll get Theresa to help me with that.) I told Bob it was because I ate M&Ms today (true), but that’s misguided credit. As much as I love my chocolaty little friends, the plan Bob has given us, the plan he and Ruthie have helped us execute, the plan that has left me wondering what my life smelled like when I didn’t have a consistent accumulation of sweaty clothes from running 6 days a week… that plan has gotten us to this point. Little roof raising over here.

I never played high school football. Is it a requirement that someone vomit at every single practice, or is there just a certain point on every field that retains the odor so you get a nice whiff every single trip around the track? Seriously, I wonder this every track workout. It’s gross.

October is essentially over. What happened to 2013? Do I need to start Christmas shopping? I’m aging to rapidly. Mild waves of panic.

This gives me happiness.

It gives me happiness not only because, for me, all of the little things about running are really the 'big things', and the things that make my life so wonderful. It's the people I've met, the confidence it inspires, the peace it brings me, the support I've found from my family, the fact that my body allows me to do these things, that I live in a place where I am able to step outside my door and move, that I get to appreciate a city I love and the great outdoors no matter where I run, the knowledge that I can do hard things (credit to a stellar runner with a similar passion for candy) 

I am thankful to have found something that helps me appreciate so many of the little things, that are really the big things, in the life I am so fortunate to have.

Better power food: gummy candy or chocolate candy?
Odors on the field? High school odors in general?

Dinosaur humor- anyone else?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Effort, Ease, and Getting Uncomfortable

I have been guided by multiple yoga teachers- including Jen- to find the balance between effort and ease in a posture. The effort it takes to find it, the ease to relax into it. The effort of maintaining your balance, the ease of not fighting it. The effort of your muscles supporting you, the ease of your breath flowing.

Like so many things yoga, the idea of effort and ease does not apply only within the confines of the mat. Like running. Some may roll their eyes at the use of the word ‘ease’ in connection with running, but I promise it’s there. There is a effort in every step of running. From the waking up, to the getting out the door, to keeping yourself going up hills, in the cold, in the dark, in the soupy sweaty summer… Mile after mile, minute after minute, it’s lungs, legs, arms, and heart. Effort. But I have found an ease in running too. “One foot in front of the other.” “Breathe in, breathe out.” “Just keep moving.” Maybe it isn’t ease, maybe simplicity is a better word. Just as in yoga when I get my foot into my hand, lift it behind me, and then just let it all go as I focus on my breath and stillness, when I run, I find that point on the run when it’s just rhythm. Breath and stride. Instead of stillness, it is all “forward.” Even when the pace is slow, the legs are heavy, or the mind is sluggish, it is all forward motion.

Effort and ease don’t always appear in equal amounts, but the knowledge that there is a balance to be found helps. There have been laps during speed workouts where I feel near panic, my breathing erratic, my arms pumping furiously, and my feet falling like a couple of Clydesdales breaking loose from their parade. If I can drag my mind away from the cacophony of alarm signals coming from my lungs, legs, and pounding chest, I can ease my mind with the in and out of my breath, the rise and fall of my belly, the wheeze in-wheeze-out rhythm of labored breathing.

This week I had the chance to be part of conversation with a well-known CEO in our area. As he shared his career wisdom, he kept coming back to the importance of getting outside your comfort zone. The need to “Get comfortable being uncomfortable” has been on my radar for a while now. I try to make a conscious effort to embrace, or at least put myself in, situations that initially make me uncomfortable. Don’t like driving? Best thing to do is practice right? Unsure in the kitchen? Better get out the cookbook. Intimidated by large crowds of people at social functions? Me too. Since avoidance is typically not considered a viable or admirable approach, acclimating yourself to these situations is the next best way to make them more comfortable.

It takes effort to be at ease. You must work and prepare to feel at ease and…prepared. Typically, there is no peace of mind without the knowledge that you have made every effort and taken the steps to ensure that, when it counts the most, you will have the speed/strength/will/knowledge/courage/presence of mind to perform. The list of situations in which I am completely at ease is much shorter than the list of situations where I need to get comfortable. Sweatpants at home, entertaining small children, eating, napping, being a worthless beach bum with my family- got ya covered. Competing, defending my opinion, stating my opinion, asking for money, mingling in a crowd of new faces, confrontation honest dialogue- the list alone makes my stomach flip and my eyes dart for the closest comforter to duck under.

As for getting out of my comfort zone, I still probably avoid more happy hours than I attend. I deliver far more comebacks and direct feedback in my mind than in reality, and I am quick to seek out those fuzzy socks. I have acknowledged my areas of discomfort, I raise my hand more often than I used to, and I know that when things get uncomfortable, I can always return to my breath.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Much to my mother's frustration, I have never been the best about eating my vegetables. And when I say, not the best I mean, I ate my first green salad when I was 22. Dinnertime was not a pretty thing for many years.

I've gotten better, but there are still many days where I feel I've done my vegetable duty when I polish off some sweet potato tots with dinner.

But things have changed. Now it's Fall and now I read blogs. So I'm constantly seeing all of these beautifully photographed, nutritious, locally-sourced, in season, eat-this-and-you-will-be wonderful meals. It's inspiring and really, if you devote enough of your time throughout the week to soaking in the nutrition, you just feel healthier. Scientific fact.

So naturally, on a recent stroll through Trader Joe's, I non-chalantly tossed some butternut squash into my cart. Mad the people around me think, 'she does this all the time'. No dish in mind, no idea what I was going to do with said squash when I got it home, but I was confident, with an arsenal of fitness foodie bloggers behind me. Got home, put away my groceries, and life carried on as normal. Despite the presence of additional nutrients in the bottom drawer of the fridge, the usual routine of "I'll be home late" "I'll just eat cauliflower and leftover pumpkin bread" got us through the week.

Guilt got me Sunday night, and I committed to cooking my butternut squash. I read a few suggestions, I gravitated towards simple: season, roast, throw in the blender with chicken broth. Boom. Homemade roasted butternut squash soup.
Seasoned it.
Roasted it.
Warmed a little chicken broth.
Threw it all in the blender.
Temporarily worried about the amount of steam inside my blender and the potential damage I was doing to my lovely smoothie-milkshake maker.
Hit blend.
Poured it in a bowl, took a few bites, didn't hate it.

I was feeling kind of victorious in my grown-up, home-cooking, healthy, seasonal, nutritious self. Then I realized, I was getting cocky about baby food.

In the future, maybe I'll steer clear of recipes that involve a blender.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Truths

Truth # 1:

Possible over-share, but incredibly accurate image. I refused to sleep in any form of pajama bottoms until I was… 11? 12? I was known to lounge around my college dorm room (or my friends’) so long post- shower in a towel/bathrobe my hair was dry before I got dressed. Something about a waistband interferes with my ability to relax.

Truth # 2:

Orange juice is GLORIOUS. I think I already knew that, but I have fallen completely out of the habit of buying it. It’s like drinking happiness. I know a lot of that happiness comes from sugar, but mix ½ a glass of OJ with ½ a glass of sparkling water and I am a very happy girl. (Fact 2a- people have started to ask if I'm Baptisit or pregnant because I'm constantly ordering sparkling water at resaurants. No and NO, I just love sparkling water. It's so much more special than regular water.)

Truth # 3:

I may have some OCD tendencies. We have been missing one pillow case from a particular set of sheets since we moved in July and it is driving me BATTY. To the point that I try to avoid using that set. I thought my need for matching pairs was limited to shoes and bedclothes, then I popped into the grocery store today for a few things. Watching the belt go by, I saw two cans of black beans, 2 cans of pinto beans, 2 cans of stew, and 2 frozen vegetable pies. I don't think I've ever bought only one bar of dark chocolate. We can say it's a 'one for me, one for you' situation, but let's be honest. I'm really just making there are enough rations until the next time I go to the store.

Truth #4:

Not some super deep thought, just a fact. Sure we all have our limits, but so so many of those limits are in our heads. Since I first learned the distance of a marathon, I proudly declared that anything or anyone who wanted to chase me for 26.2 miles wins. No way on Earth was I intended or capable of moving forward without wheels for that distance. Then I started hanging out with this crazy group of folks who like to do marathons and... bam. Two done. No wheels involved. I thought for a long time my limit was 1 mile (evidence: the beloved annual mile run in gym class). Then I thought my limit was 1 hour of running. Nudged that to 13.1 miles, and here I sit. Is 26.2 my limit? Probably not. Are we going to test that? I'll get back to you on that.

Truth # 5:

Buster likes body heat. This is my lap (and evidence that, despite truth # 1, I do (typically) adhere to social protocol and wear pants. In case you're wondering, no. His back is not level and is incredibly precarious typing on a computer balanced on a dog's back.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Love me some Ru-Bob

Ru-Bob. Like the stuff you put in pie?  (If you didn’t say that out loud and you don’t get it, stop reading my blog.)

Talk about people who are alive, meet Bob and Ruthie- the fantastic coaches of the CVE/Lulu team. If there were a way to make this post literally glow, I would do it, because these two actually radiate awesome. Not only awesome athletic ability, but awesome in their passion, inspiration, and character. Here’s a longer than necessary description of the greatness that graces my presence three times a week.

Fierce. Genuine. Compassionate. Engaged. (In the community- she's taken J) Supportive. Strong. Knock-out. I knew of Ruthie before I got to know Ruthie. Small world that running in Richmond is, I ran with Ruthie's husband and a mutual friend long before I submitted my application for the CVE/Lulu team. Knowing those two, and the kind of people they are (The kind that always come back to last, no matter how far ahead they are. The kind that loan you headlamps and pieces of their marathon medals as your prepare for your own race.), it wasn't hard to guess that Ruthie is cut from the same cloth. I heard she was fast (Black Team coach), I heard she was tough (50 miler on broken foot?). Working with Ruthie, I have learned first hand that she gives it to you straight, doesn't hesitate to speak up when she knows something's off, and has zero inhibitions about standing mid-hill around the curve to direct traffic around people trying to run hills. Her encouragment and concern are real, and really appreciated.

Badass. The force behind Central Virginia Endurance. Entirely comfortable in spandex. Motivated. Further proof that baldness is indicative of greatness. (See also Exhibit A- my father, Exhibit B- my other half) Bob is a world class athlete (Team USA 2014- what?!) and a great coach. Bob cares about you and your performance. He doesn’t coddle, he doesn’t waste a lot of time on excuses or explanations. I love working with Bob because he has that balance of encouraging and demanding that I need. He won’t stand there and tell me I’m doing a great job when I’m not. He recognizes effort and struggle, alternatively delivering soothing words of encouragement and less soothing messages along the lines of “Suck it up.” His love of endurance sports is infectious, his accomplisments are inspiring. 

None of what I’m saying is an attempt to have someone go easy on me in next week's speed workout. These are my honest thoughts. If I didn’t truly like and admire these two, this would be a 5-line post with a bunch of pictures.
They have done what we’ve done times 1000.
They have trained, they have been injured, they have recovered, and they have ROCKED some intense competitions.
They are deeply entrenched in Richmond’s active community, sharing their passion with athletes of every level. 
They are determined, they are competitive, they are fun.
They bring passion, connections, and so much LIFE to Richmond through their work.

SO fortunate to have a chance to work with these two, and to live in a community with such strong role models.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Despite some evidence that may lead you to conclude that clean sheet night, lemonade, Starbucks, and a certain terrier are the keys to happiness in my life, really my absolute favorite thing in the world is people. Kind. Fun. Honest. Real. Caring. Funny. Inspiring. People.

In my mind, I collect people, the way one might collect classic vinyl albums or pieces of Wedgewood china. You’re content to add one or two per year, you get a little thrill when you periodically take inventory of all your pieces. There are moments- sometimes after a meeting,  sometimes after practice, sometimes when I hang up the phone that make me look up and say THANK YOU for the people in my collection.

My collection is my most favorite people. The people you want at your wedding, your ultimate birthday celebration, or the most perfect backyard barbeque. My collection is diverse and rich. It reminds me of the places I’ve been, the people who inspire me. There are family members on it, neighbors, and former co-workers. There are people I’ve met at work, in school, at bars, and running on my list. Some are great listeners, some make me laugh, some challenge me, and others have qualities I hope to emulate.

The people on my CVE/Lulu team remind me of my collection, because of the diversity, the fun, and the little something unique each person brings to the mix. Between the team, the coaches, and the Lulu ladies, we’ve got a little bit of everything. Yogis, Ironman/woman, blogger, moms, dads, former athletes, former non-athletes, business owners, social butterflies, and a local celebrity in the Richmond community. I have some crazy fast teammates, some crazy competitive teammates, and some fellow mortals.

The CVE/Lululemon team has introduced me to some amazingly knowledgeable, genuine people. I love the encouragement, the humor, the push, and the support that comes from working with this team. Right now, I’m looking up and saying a big ole THANK YOU for this collection of new people in my life.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


A weekend recap in numbers. Because people who run a lot tend to like numbers.

4.14: The number of miles my Garmin says I ran during this morning's Run Like a Girl 8k at West Creek.

10: The number of miles I ran with Rogue friends for the first time in months.
140: Minutes of running in the rain this weekend. Add about 20 non-rain minutes.
9: The number of pumpkins Seth was able to carry at least three steps.
20: Dollars. For said pumpkins.
3: Muddy towels across my floor/car from visiting the pumpkin patch after 3? 4? straight days of rain.
2: Rides on the vintage carousel by a delighted 5 year-old.

1: Band heard. Out of dozens of musical acts playing this weekend, we heard one because a certain someone wanted to "Walk away from the loud noises over there." (There being any one of the stages where the performance was louder than a dishwasher.)

0: Amount of minutes I can tolerate my house/hair/clothes smelling like bacon.
21: Hot yoga classes to take in 31 days as part of October challenge.
7: classes taken as of 10/13.
3: 1.5 mile repeats on the schedule for Tuesday. ...
5: Weeks until Richmond Half Marathon!
4: Places where I am missing significant amounts of skin.
1: Monday off from work. Thank you Christopher Columbus!
1: Cancelled trip to Mellow Mushroom, despite much anticipation.
20: Minutes it took Papa John's to deliver pizza after we admitted defeat by the miserable weather.

Measure it in miles, kilometers, minutes, or friends, it all adds up to a pretty great (WET) weekend.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I thought I already wrote this post...

But apparently that just happened in my head, not on the computer...

So. VO2 Max. Is that something for your car? Welcome to the world of training with an endurance coach. In simple terms (really, I didn't write this before? It feels so familiar....)

(Mystery solved. I typed this up in a Word document on my computer so I could be sure it was thoroughly spell-checked. Love you Mom.)

My morning began bright dark? and early for my VO2 max test with Bob. It’s a highly technical scientific process that involves me running on a treadmill until failure (not a word I like to see in the same sentence as treadmill.) In simple terms, the test determines my peak oxygen intake. This helps my coaches determine target heart rates and paces and all those numbers that runners love to nerd out on before/during/after workouts. Hooked up to a heart rate monitor and a mask to monitor oxygen intake, I hopped on Bob’s treadmill, thoughtfully situated in front of a floor to ceiling mirror. (In case there was any question that strapping a mask to your un-showered 6am face does not make you any more impressive.) To give you an idea,

It wasn’t terrible, I didn’t fly off the treadmill. As Bob explained the results, it was interesting to hear the story my body’s stats tell, in comparison to the story my body (mind) tells me when I run. It all made sense when Bob explained it, but honestly, I think everything his explanation didn't quite gel because of the depleted oxygen stores, but basically, with some specific training, I could be a pretty efficient (fast?) runner. Re-reading that statement, I guess that applies to just about everyone, huh?

Specifics aside, here's what I took away from the experience:
1. Scientific proof (!) that my body can handle more.
2. The "I'm not an athlete" excuse holds slightly less weight now. I may not have played soccer in high school or run cross country since I was 13, but what does that have to do with today, tomorrow, and next year?
3. Mirrors in front of treadmills are rude.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Early Bird

I like to start my day early. I enjoy those first moments of the day, when things are still quiet, and the hectic hasn't begun. The sky has yet to lighten, the roads are free of traffic, and the neighbors' house shows no sign of activity. I like the quiet, the serenity, and the time to gather my thoughts before I have spoken to anyone yet.  

I don't particularly like that moment when my alarm goes off, and I am forced to answer those daily questions (What day is it? Do I have to be anywhere?) The satisfaction comes at different times on different days- sometimes it's mid-run when the sun is rising and I'm heading home. Sometimes it's when I step into the shower to rinse the salt from my face and hit the refresh button on my hair. Sometimes it isn't until I'm at work, looking at the day's schedule, and feeling accomplished for having already sweated, showered, and gotten myself together.

And then there are Saturdays. Saturday used to start much like any other day, waking up to an alarm, heading out to meet a group for a weekly long run. Now, long runs happen on Sundays, and Saturdays get to be a shorter, independent run. Sleeping until the luxurious hour of 7 or 7:30, time to eat (and digest) a piece of toast while perusing a magazine or blogs. I get a little caffeine in, start a load of laundry, and take a disproportionate amount of time selecting an outfit that does not have to include one of my 2 'visible in the dark' tops.

I've never like running late in the day. The day has happened, my lunch isn't always pre-lunch food, and, let's be honest, the mascara is going to run and no one feels good about running with make up on. (Do they?)

But these 8, 9am runs have been amazing. I have energy, I'm awake, I can read the street signs to know where I am. I love them. The minutes and miles just breeze by as I scope out the weekend's yard sales and take gather inspiration for the day I actually tend a garden. They feel luxurious and un-hurried and are easily some of my favorite runs of the week.

Maybe I'm not such an early bird after all...

Very Superstitious

This week my work team had an outing. Shifting to make room for more people, I moved to put my co-worker's purse on the floor. She reacted immediately, and found a new place for it on the table. "Put your purse on the ground, you'll always be broke." Well that explains a lot about my finances...

I wouldn't call myself overly superstitious. I like to think my routines and beliefs are more firmly rooted in practicality and acknowledgment of the role Murphy's Law plays in my life. Such as:

1.Never leave the toilet seat open when you aren't using it. An open toilet is just a magnet for toothbrushes, mascara, and any valuable/electronic objects that just happen to be in the confines of your bathroom. (Multiply this rule by 50 if you have a person under the age of 4 in your home.)
2. Take an umbrella. If you don't, it will rain.
3. Criticize people with caution. How often have you called the driver in front of you a moron for failing to notice you as he moves into your lane, only to be 'surprised' mysteriously appearing behind you and to the right as you move towards your exit? (Maybe that one's karma.)
4. No cussing on Sundays. It's bad enough on a weekday, but swearing on the lord's day is in extremely poor taste. And he'll most certainly hear you.

A few superstitions I've never quite warmed up to:

1. Throwing salt over your shoulder while cooking. I know Rachael Ray (Rae-Ray!) is all about it, but, let's be honest. She isn't walking around barefoot in those set kitchens and I'm guessing she's not cleaning them either.
2. Carrying a rabbit's foot brings you good luck. Gross, mean, ew, and how?
3. Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck. Doesn't take a genius to know that the odds of you breaking something with said umbrella increase significantly when the awkward thing is open.
4. It's bad luck to sleep on a table. Not only bad luck, but bad manners, bad hygiene, and bad for your back.

In conclusion, I may or may not be able to blame my chronically-low account balance on the fact that I keep my purse on the ground at all times, I am hyper-vigilant about make-up products in the vicinity of the toilet, and I see no reason to carry around animal parts of any kind.