Turning a So-So “Grape” of a Race into a Fine Chardonnay

ChardonnayFinish2I know, I know, the saying is really “turning lemons into lemonade,” but since I’m referring to the Chardonnay 10-Miler I ran last Saturday, I’m going with the wine analogy. You get the idea.

It wasn’t my most spectacular race, but since a lot of good things came out of it, I’m choosing to dwell in the positive and “make wine out of grapes.”

First, let me backtrack a bit.

About three weeks ago when I was pushing it a little too hard doing 800s at the track, several ribs popped out of place in my back and strained my intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs). That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you’ve ever experienced this, you know the piercing, knife in the back, can’t breathe feeling. No fun. And no sleep for days because every time you move, it’s like being stabbed all over again.

Training came to a halt just when I had planned to do my longest and hardest runs to get ready for this race.

It wasn’t until last Wednesday, four days before the race, that I could finally breathe deeply again and run in an upright position without pain. Thank you Stephanie and Larry for working your magic!

When I showed up to the starting line, along with 376 other runners, I was both happy to be there, and apprehensive, knowing I hadn’t trained like I had wanted, and worried that my back might blow out again. To add to it, of all stupid things, I had a knot in my calf that I could not roll out.

Waa waa waa. Yes, you can hand me some cheese with all of this whine-ing.

That morning before the race, I kept trying to get myself fired up, but wasn’t feeling an ounce of race day adrenaline. Normally I’m wired and ready to go, but I just wasn’t “feeling it.” AT ALL. Not even after a big slug of coffee.

I gave myself the old “Suck it up Buttercup” pep talk several times, but finally decided that my body was trying to tell me something. So instead, I gave myself permission to “just run” instead of “race,” listen to music, enjoy a beautiful 10-mile cruise along our gorgeous coastline and see what happened.

So what did happen?

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Monday Motivation: 5 Reasons to Just Do It

As if you need a reason to get out the door this Monday morning! But just in case your motivation is waining after a jam-packed weekend, here are five reasons to lace up your shoes and go:

  1. You won’t waste a precious minute of your day in the guilty “should” zone (as in “I should” go for a run). Just do it. Be done. Be happy.
  2. You won’t have to feel like dog doo for letting yourself down.
  3. You will be energized, more patient, positive and powerful.
  4. You will set the tone for the rest of your week, and you will know that anything and everything is doable by simply taking one step at at time.
  5. You will be able to refer to yourself as one badass super hero for the rest of the day.

PS: Then there’s always the coffee when you are done!

Photo source: @HealHead

Photo source: @HealHead

 

Tell me about your Monday! Feeling like a train wreck? Or a rock star? What’s on tap?

Stick a Sock in It, and Other Words of Advice for That Annoying Inner Critic

Dear Self,

Stick a sock in it, will ya?! That’s right, stop being so hard on yourself and start treating yourself like you treat everybody else.

You know how you practically hang out the car window cheering and ringing your imaginary cowbell for nearly every runner you see on the road–whether they’re blazing past or shuffling along?

Photo of giant cowbell

Photo source Google

Do that for yourself.

Instead of lamenting that you’re only running “so far” or “so fast,” ring your own damn cowbell. That’s right, ring it loud and ring it proud because you are out there, too, my friend.

Instead of criticizing yourself for not running as fast as you’d like, celebrate that you have the guts to set your goals high and the tenacity to chase after those big dreams.

Focus on being in the moment and running where you are, and not where you want to be. Keep working at it consistently, and have faith that you will get there. Because you WILL get there.

Instead of beating yourself up because you missed a workout, remember that while running is your passion, your joy, your everything, taking care of a sick child or elderly parent will always trump your tempo run. That’s what makes you human.

And because you missed your run yesterday, there’s no doubt you will make it happen today, even if you have to get up at o-dark-thirty. That’s what makes you a runner.

And one other thing, you know that extra little bit of…ahem…fluff, which loves you so much that it doesn’t want to let go? EMBRACE IT! It doesn’t define your athleticism or your will power or anything. It’s just one tiny part of your strong, beautiful body–the body that’s going to carry you through mile after mile and help you reach your big goals. When that fluff knows you’ve had enough, it will suddenly disappear and you probably won’t even notice it because you’ll be too busy focusing on more important things.

So listen up, Self: no matter what kind of day you’re having out there on the road, track or trail, no matter how tired or sore you are, no matter what your race pace or place, remember that you are a runner, and being a runner is a gift–an outrageous gift that deserves nothing but celebration.

‘Nuf said.

Love,
Me

What do you tell yourself, fitness friends, when self-doubt or negativity creeps into your mind? Do share! How do you tell yourself to “stick a sock in it?”

Just Freakin’ Run: Celebrating Boston and the Strength of Our Running Community

If the goal of the Boston bombers was to defeat the human spirit, clearly marathon runners were the wrong group to target.

They accomplished nothing with their cowardly explosives last year.

That’s right. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

They did not weaken us by their senseless act, but only made us stronger, more fierce, determined and connected. They didn’t scare anyone away, but instead bolstered an endless pool of support for Beantown and every other major marathon city out there, inciting legions of runners from all around the world to train harder just to qualify for Boston this year.

On April 21st, thirty-six thousand runners, the largest field ever, will run the Boston Marathon, despite the bombers. And not one person will give them a moment’s thought. They will be busy celebrating the honor of running in one of our sport’s most prestigious races, and reveling in the joy of being part of one of the strongest and most supportive communities around.

bostonstrong500

I still can’t help wonder how different the bombers’ lives might have been if they had been runners—if they had been zealots of adrenaline rather than zealots of hate. Perhaps they never laced up their shoes because they felt they wouldn’t fit in. They would have been wrong about that, though.

There’s room for everyone in the running community.

You see, we are old farts, young farts, and every kind of fart in between. We are yuppies, scuppies, hippies, and buppies. We are Boomers, Boomerangs, and Generations X, Y and Z. We are you. We are me.

We are Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews. We are Christians, Scientologists, and non-believers too. We are gay. We are straight. We are rich. We are poor. We are smart, and some, even thick as a door.

We are teachers, preachers, writers and baristas. We are truck drivers, trash collectors, soldiers, and zookeepers.

We are funny. We are serious. We are quirky and sweet. We are hipsters, we are nerds, and teens who like to Tweet.

We’re the guy next door, the granny at the store, the pregnant chick in yoga pants, the kid blazing in an iPod trance.

We are underweight, overweight, tall, short, round, and square. We come in every color. No one ever cares.

We’re organic, synthetic, flamboyant and drab. We are natives and immigrants, and all who need to work on our abs.

We are liberal, conservative and anti-government too. None of it matters when lacing up our shoes.

We are fast. We are slow. Some don’t even care to know. We are bald, gelled, dreadlock’ed, and ‘tailed, wearing good luck get-ups we hope will never fail.

We are Valedictorians and PhDs. We are high school dropouts and wannabes. We are high-powered and low-powered, all just out there celebrating our Go Power.

We each know heartache, frustration and every kind of pain, but we leave it on the road whenever we train. No need for shrinks. No need for pills. All we need are a few good hills.

We’re all as different as can be; that’s what makes this strong community. We run for health, we run for pride, we run for sanity and to feel alive.

Unfortunately, Boston bombers it’s too late for you, but if anyone else is contemplating a senseless act like this, do yourself a favor: instead of wasting your potential, run.

That’s right. Put down your arsenal, lace up your shoes, and run.

Run until your lungs burn. Run until your muscles ache. Run until you can’t take another step.

You will suddenly understand what it means to be a human being. You will feel strong. You will feel alive and you will feel empowered.

That’s right. Just. Freaking. Run.

Running, Racing and Dream Chasing

HappyFeetWhen 2014 rolled around, I knew it was going to be a great year. I could feel it in my bones.

Something was starting to burn deep inside me again—the desire to compete and make fitness a priority. Let me rephrase that…the desire to make MY fitness a priority.

I’d spent so much time over the last year and a half organizing and coaching all my kids running teams (peek at my coaching page if you’re interested), on top of writing and juggling all the things moms juggle, few hours were left in the day for my own running.

Oh, I’d run here and there, start then sputter, get pulled away, then start again, repeating an endless frustrating cycle of mediocrity as I fought to maintain my baseline fitness. I even joined in races when I wrangled enough time and energy, but I was definitely not operating on all cylinders.

And the thing is, I know without a doubt that if I don’t make health and fitness a priority, I feel off kilter—like a wobbly top spinning full speed ahead, bumping from one thing to the next. I put everybody and everything ahead of myself. I say, “Yes” to too many things. I volunteer more than I should. I don’t get enough sleep and often make bad food choices.

I’m embarrassed to share with you how much chocolate I consumed…not to mention red wine…and coffee (lots of coffee)…all those treats, which temporarily make us feel giddy, decadent and “rewarded,” but also pack on an extra 5-10 pounds if we’re not careful.

When the ball dropped in 2014, I was more than ready to say, “Enough, girlfriend!” and take decisive steps to get back to center and reclaim my own personal fitness goals.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 3.22.24 PMThe first thing I did was join the Santa Barbara Athletic Association and entered their Grand Prix race series.

“What’s that?” you ask.

The SBAA is our fabulous local running association, which has created a fun way for its members to compete against each other in races all throughout the year. You simply sign up in your age group and gender and race in designated 5Ks, 10ks, and half marathons throughout the year. Points are awarded for whatever place you come in, and at the end of the year, whoever has the most points in each age group is crowned the winner.

It’s simple enough, but believe me folks, this took a major dollop of courage, considering I wasn’t feeling worthy of signing up for this group yet, let alone racing at my mediocre level of fitness—especially since some of the top female runners in all of Santa Barbara happen to be in my age group. We’re talking 5, 6 and 7-minute milers. Gulp.

But I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride and jumped into the mix.

And guess what? It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long, long time.

It has been nothing but fun, and most of all it has given me some much-needed goals to help me stay focused on making my own workouts as much of a priority as those I create for my kiddos.

I don’t know about you, but without a race goal dangling in front of me I find it easy to bumble aimlessly through my workouts or opt for coffee and a good book instead of a track workout or a tempo run on mornings when I’m feeling less than motivated. Perhaps you can relate?

After joining the SBAA, I also joined the Santa Barbara Cruisers, a running group coached by Super Stud master’s runner, Nash Jimenez. We’re talking a 64-year old speed demon who still runs a 5 minute mile. Not only does he coach the Cruisers, but he also coaches many of the elite runners I previously mentioned.

Nash had generously offered to coach me from the first day I started working with him in 2012 (we coach the Kids Corner Coyotes running team together), but I never took him up on his offer. I was always way squeezed for time, and quite honestly never felt ready…that is until a few months ago.

That tiny step of joining the Cruisers added one more layer of commitment to my fitness goals and launched me even farther into this super supportive running community we have here in Santa Barbara. Not only that, it finally dragged my reluctant butt back to the track for some much-needed speedwork—not something I’ve ever enjoyed on my own.

So how has it gone so far?

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Yeah, Baby! Let’s Get This Party Started!

You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be greatWelcome to my blog–a place where I hope to share advice, thoughts and inspiring stories about running and life in general.

My aim is to create a welcoming community for all of us like-minded crazies looking for motivation, support and camaraderie as we celebrate a life of running and fitness.

So what do you say? Want to join the fun? Leave me a comment. I’d love to know what your next big running goal is in 2014!