Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Inspiration: Your Best is yet to Be

Some of my favorite bloggers will occasionally post quotes to motivate and inspire their readers. I've been thinking about jumping on this bandwagon for a long time, especially after having so much fun posting running inspiration pre-Baltimore. So I'm doing and calling the series Inspiration.

Yesterday, my friend Sarah tagged me in a stranger's photo on instagram and said "this made me think of you". The photo was the one above and I don't know exactly what made her think of me but I couldn't help but feel flattered.

At this time in my life, I have a whole lot going on and I am enjoying being busy, planning for the near future (read: wedding), and living in the moment. But I also have thoughts and dreams stirring in my head and I'm having fun imaging what the future holds. I'd like to think that my best is yet to be and I'm glad Sarah seems to think so too.

I hope this will help you stand taller and try harder on your Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Training Plan

I ran three miles on the treadmill after work last night. And, with that, marathon training is officially underway.  To say I've been dreading this is only a slight overstatement. My looming training schedule has felt like a dark cloud over my head. Over the past few weeks, I've been wondering if right now is the best time in my life to train for and run a marathon. But I was already registered and I didn't want to give up before I'd even started.

Somehow, with the first run done, the cloud has lifted a bit. Everything feels more real and less scary. I'm all in and I plan to be optimistic going forward.

Here is the schedule I'll be following for the next 17 weeks. As usual with my training plans, I expect to stick closely to my long run schedule and be more flexible during the week. I will get all my weekday workouts in but may switch the running and cross training days around depending on how I'm feeling and what plans I have. This is important to me but it is not my number one priority this spring and it will not take over my life. 

Here goes nothing...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Strength and Competition

Photos by Josh Bassett Photography

Last Sunday, we had a poor turnout to our weekly frisbee match so we played one game of 2v3, which was a killer sprint workout, and then called it quits. It was beautiful out and Josh and I were enjoying the sunshine so we hung around for a while to play on the machines at the Rock Creek "Exercise Park". I did some bar jumps and ab exercise leg lifts but the #1 thing that I wanted to conquer were the chin-up bars. I thought that, given the weight-lifting I've been doing, I might be able pull myself up. Just once. I tried and.... I could only kind of do it by cheating. I could do mini pull-ups lowering myself only slightly and then pulling my chin over the bar. Or I could do full on pull-ups with a little boost from my legs, bouncing my feet off the ground in between each. But I couldn't hang freely and then pull myself all the way up with only the strength of my arms.

Now, this is not that big of a deal. I think pull-ups are really hard and I didn't feel defeated. Until I watched about 8 different guys, including Josh, come up to the bars and do ten or more full on pull-ups in a row like it was nothing. I know that at least one of these guys (my lazier-than-me fiance) lifts weights and works out less than I do. But he is naturally SO MUCH STRONGER. Men are naturally so much stronger. And I find this very unfair.

I am a competitive person and I want to be able to compete with guys in the various co-ed sports I play. I hate when I'm at the gym and a guy goes up to a machine I've just been on and moves the bar to lift five times the amount I did. And, when I'm running on a treadmill next to a girl or guy, I am motivated by a desire to run longer and faster than they are.

While I find it to be unfair that guys are faster and stronger and I want to be able to fairly compete with any of them, I am trying to remind myself that, if I'm not on a soccer or frisbee field, it shouldn't ever be about what I can do compared to someone else. And especially not what I can do compared to guys who are way taller, heavier, and broader than me. What has been so great about getting into racing is that, in the sport of running (unless you're a pro), there is nobody to beat but yourself. As I train for my first marathon, I will keep this in mind and I will do only what is best for me and my training.

And, because I know that running is not the only thing to focus on, I'm also setting a goal to be able to do a full-on chin up before my marathon. Bring it on!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Marathon

In my last post, I subtly mentioned that I plan (hope) to run a marathon in 2013. Surprisingly, I have yet to make a big deal of that on my blog but I am, in fact, registered for my first marathon in only four short months. The race is the Vermont City Marathon (VCM) on Sunday, May 26 in Burlington, VT.

For a long time, I've dreamed about this race. I first heard of it when my cousin and aunt ran the relay together in 2010. Then last year, they convinced my other cousin and her boyfriend two join them. While they were all training for this race, I was somewhat wishful that I could join them but I was gearing up to ride my bike across the country and in no mental or physical shape to be a part of the action. But the desire to join them eventually was strong.

On a random day in South Dakota this summer my uncle called my mom and we passed the phone around over dinner to catch up with him. It got me thinking about him and his girls. And it got me thinking about their race. About an hour later, I texted Josh saying that I was making the trip to Vermont the next memorial day weekend and he agreed to join me. At the time, I wasn't sure I'd register for the full 26.2 miles but I knew I wanted to make the journey. I planned to train for and run Philly before making a decision about which distance to register for.

But registration for the marathon opened on November 1 and I was afraid of it filling up. I was 17 days away from Philly but my training was going well and I felt strong. So I set my alarm for 6AM and I registered for the race.  I ran a good race in Philly, continued feeling confident, and then took an unplanned, confusing month off of running. I was terrified of what the month off, and the potential injury would mean for my ability to train for and run VCM. But I got better, did my research, and realized that, as a beginner, I can take it fairly easy in training and in the months leading up to training.

Now, I have not run more than 5 miles since the Philadelphia Half. I have done many short runs, ridden many a stationary bike, and worked hard to build muscle and strengthen my core. My training plan, which my experienced friend Nikki has helped me perfect, has me scheduled to begin next Monday. As I think about all the other things I have going on the next four months- lots of wedding planning; our biggest work event of the year; a week-long, most likely sleep-depriving, conference in California; another season of soccer; my first two hired cake jobs (both in the same week)- I'm not as excited about training as I want to be. I feel fit and I feel excited about my trip to Vermont. But the fact that I'm about to begin training for a race distance that seemed crazy to me less than three years ago doesn't seem real yet.

Without being a quitter, I'm trying to keep life in perspective. I will begin my training cycle as scheduled and stick to it as long as my foot and my mind will allow. I have every intention of running the full race. But I also won't let it take over my life. If training feels like a chore and a burden then I may drop down to the half. But I'm optimistic that once I get started, it will be fun and good. In reality, most weeks of my training schedule don't require more hours of working out than I do in an average week. And, whatever happens with this race and the months leading up to it, I am ecstatic about being in Vermont with all but one of my favorite Vermonsters. My cousin Emily will be in Chile for the semester but my cousin Katy and aunt Joann are running the relay and Katy's boyfriend Simon and my friend Nikki are also running the full. All that is something to look forward to!

Have you ever registered for a race and then wondered if you can really do it? If you've run a marathon, did you have jitters before your training began?

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Late Recap of 2012 Goals

Note: I wrote this post three weeks ago and put off posting and finishing the links. I apologize for slacking at blogging recently but I figure it's better late than never...

On the third day of January 2012, I wrote out a list of goals for the year. Some were lofty and some were expected. Now, over a year has passed, and I'm here to recap 2012.

I ran across the Brooklyn bridge with Inna, I set foot on the Appalachian Trail but didn't "hike" on it, I took more yoga classes in the first half of the year and I went to, not one but two, Red Hot Hili Peppers concerts. I read seven books, road-tripped to Charlottesville with Josh and my parents, took only one (not three) bike maintenance class, and cleaned my apartment more often than ever before (but still not enough). I made four cakes with fondant sold at Sur la Table and decided I'd rather by from them than make an inferior version on my own. I convinced three of my favorite guys but no girls to ride Ragbrai, I was gifted the best and most stylish bike seat by some awesome friends, and I re-vamped the look of Sweating in Style with the help of my talented friend Julie.  I did not increase my savings but used a chunk of it on my summer adventure and I successfully completed that summer adventure. I rode my bike across America with my wonderful parents.

I strived for a lot in 2012 and followed through, at least in part, on most of my goals. But there are some things you can't plan for. Here are some other great things that happened in 2012...

I  rode my bike over the continental divide and got engaged to Joshua in the best way possible. I also rode my bike over the Cascade mountains and across Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and DC. I bonded with my parents in a special way; hugging, bickering, laughing, and crying with them more than I ever have as a grown person. I celebrated my brother's college graduation and saw him move to a big scary city. I celebrated the engagements of some really great friends and the weddings of other dear friends and family. I was promoted at work and played a part in planning and executing the 100th Anniversary celebration for the Girl Scouts. I ran my third and fourth half marathons and set a PR at each. And I registered for my first full marathon. Which is a perfect segway into 2013...

I'm incredibly excited about this year and have many things to look forward to. I always feel a little sad and nostalgic at the end of the year, and that seemed to be on overdrive this December. But two weeks of 2013 have now passed and it excites me to think of all that is to come. This is the year I'll get married so that alone should make it great!