Stronger

In honor of the Blue Ridge Relay this weekend, which many of my super crazy awesome friends are doing this weekend, I thought I would regale you with the tale of my “hill work” last Saturday. Super Dad, Super Baby, Super Girl, and I were in the mountains for the holiday, and my only options were run, walk, use a 30 year old recumbent bike, or sit around. While I did choose the latter for two days, I decided to push myself a bit on Saturday.

I haven’t been running much because of my back, but I have been feeling better, so I figured I would go for a run in the beautiful fresh mountain air. When I say I did hill work, that is an understatement. I typically bellyache over having to cover 50 feet of elevation change during a one hour run. I will zig zag up and down the same street 12 times just because it is flat and I cannot drag my butt up another hill. I reason with myself that I can either keep running on flat ground, thereby getting more miles in, or walk up a hill/go home. That said, I know that running hills makes you stronger and faster, and I have gotten a lot better about incorporating it into my workouts because they are simply unavoidable in Raleigh. But that doesn’t mean I like em!

The running I did on Saturday quite possibly induced the most pain I have ever known while exercising. I started at the house where we were staying, then ran to the main road, which was about .6 miles down the mountain. Running that steep downhill (about a 45% grade at points) is not easy. But you do go pretty damn fast. Then I turned around to go back up. Uhhhh, what was I thinking? I ended up sprinting for a minute then completely stopping for 30 seconds, all the way back up that “hill.” Then I did the whole thing again, running for marginally longer stretches on the way back up. My total running time was an average of 6:33/mile.

I’m not going to pretend there’s any way my average would have been any faster than 9:30/mile had I not made it into an interval workout. Just standing looking up the gravel road during my breaks was painful. I could barely catch my breath. Mountain air is thinner right? Ok, I know it wasn’t the Pike’s Peak Marathon, but I am not used to this kinda stuff.

The point is that I know my body has limits, and I wanted to test them without the end result being me lying in the yard of some bearded mountain man with a pack of wild dogs sniffing my lifeless carcass. Plus, when you do hill work, you don’t just run up a giant mountain for 5 minutes straight, unless you are one of those maniacs super dedicated, adventurous people who does the Blue Ridge Relay. Normal people either do short bursts for 10-20 seconds, or longer intervals of 1-2 minutes. I know this workout, however short, made me a better runner.

Today, pushing the kids in the double stroller, I gobbled up the rolling hills in our neighborhood like Miss Pacman taking down cherries. She eats those right? I won’t credit the ease with which I knocked out four double stroller miles to a few measly miles of interval work on a mountain, but the perspective was nice. And the feeling that even though I haven’t been able to run in the last month, the cross training has really kept me stronger than I expected.

So here’s to hills or mountains, pick your poison this weekend. Good luck to all you crazies!

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How to live in the present

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever heard these quotes? Or seen the Wikihow page on 7 steps to “live in the moment”? Gurus and philosophers, therapists and motivational speakers; they are always espousing the idea that you can’t live in the past or the future- you have to live in the present. That’s all well and good, but I can’t live in the present unless I can look toward the future.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, as you may have noticed by my lack of activity here. Not being able to do all the things I like to physically has been emotionally taxing on me. I quickly resigned myself to a life of water aerobics, Instagram, and Words with Friends. But I found a way to live in the moment, by spending more time with my family, watching SuperBaby learn to do awesome new things every day, and helping Super Girl with her new blog .

My back isn’t completely fixed now, but it seems to be getting somewhat better. I have been trying to ease back into things but that never really goes that well for me because I don’t like to lose. Although I am not planning on doing any 50 mile rides or 15 mile runs in the near future, I decided that every day I would just try to figure out what I am feeling up to, and then give it a try (so long as it fit into the family schedule of course). For instance, a quick 18 miles on my bike after work last Friday. On Saturday, I did the same insane circuit/Crossfit-ish/bootcamp class that had all the jump roping last time. I know you all think I am crazy and did not learn my lesson, but I reminded myself that the class is different every week and I can modify. The most recent class had five stations, one minute each. After all five stations, you do one minute of shuttle runs, then go back to the first station. Repeat the whole thing six times.

1) modified handstand pushup. The handstand pushup is pretty big in Crossfit. I have no upper body muscles and little balance or coordination, so I did the version where your knees are on a box. No back problems there.

2) Russian Kettle Bell Swings with 20 lb kettlebell. I did more of a modified American swing, becasue the Russian version engages your core and glutes more, and I was concerned it would bother my back. However, with the American version, you go all the way overhead, which is not so awesome for my right shoulder, which I had operated on twice in 2011.

3) Burpees

4) Chest press with 20 lbs dumbbells

5) Wall balls with a 15 lbs. ball

By the end of class, my shoulders were toast.

I also got a spin class in on Sunday and a ride indoors on my road bike on Monday. My parents got me an early birthday present, this sweet Cycelops Fluid2 Trainer, plus some training dvd’s and other accessories. I have been eyeing this trainer for a while, but couldn’t throw down the cash to buy it because I spend all my money at lululemon am saving up for a minivan/the kids’ college/Disneyworld. So far, the verdict is that it’s a great trainer, but riding on it is soooooo boring. I didn’t watch the dvd though, so that’s probably part of the problem. The thought of going for three hours on it makes me want to fall asleep as I type.

Even though I have gotten some decent workouts in and have tried some new things, I just feel like I’m kind of in an athletic rut because I’m not really training for anything. It makes me live in the past, where I think about when I could just throw on my shoes and go knock out 8 miles like it was nothing. There’s no way I can do the Pinehurst Tri as I had originally planned for early October, because my back is not well enough for me to do more than 20 miles on the bike without me having complete foot numbness for 24 hours thereafter. I also haven’t run longer than 2 minutes consecutively since July. Finally, we don’t even want to go into the disaster that has been my swimming training, because once I realized I was not going to be able to do Pinehurst, I just completely sacked my pool time. Why smell like chlorine when you don’t have to, right?

I decided that a reasonable goal would be to do the last Rex Wellness Sprint Tri on October 13. It is super short and a good compromise because it gives me a goal I can look forward to, but I won’t have to kill myself to get the end result of another triathlon under my belt. It also gives me an excuse to carb load on October 12. Plus, even though I have not been swimming at all, there still should be no more than a minute difference between myself and the top female swimmer (my sister-in-law). She has been doing masters swimming, which involves yardage that I would only do if you held a gun to my head. So yeah, if you put us head-to-head in a 1500, she would be showered and blow-dried by the time I got out of the pool. But a 250, I can handle that 🙂 It’s also a short enough bike and run that it shouldn’t be too taxing on my back. I say this now, but I’ll potentially be walking with a cane on Turkey Day.

So there you have it- all it took was me realizing that I just kind of flounder without something on the horizon that I can look forward to (vacation, birth of a baby, Christmas, a race). You may say that I’m not living in the moment, but I need the promise of the future to help me live in the now. Is that cheesy? Yes. Massively queso-fied. But it’s true. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to need goals to help us enjoy each minute of every day, to understand what the purpose is of each workout, or realize that one day your child will start kindergarten so you may want to work on him/her giving up the pacifier at some point before age 5 (not my kid). What are your goals? Do you live in the present, past, or future?

Needs versus wants

Ok, I apologize in advance to any new mothers out there who are getting approximately 79 minutes of sleep in any one stretch at night. Maybe you should just skip this post altogether so I don’t annoy you 🙂

I spoke too soon yesterday… I don’t know if I overdid it during the jump rope/thruster/burpee/squat workout or the steroid taper is just affecting me the same way it did last time (feel awesome the first few days), but I had an awful night of pain which led to lack of sleep. My mom thinks it was the jump roping but I beg to differ. My jump riping resembles a toddler trying to just barely avoid stepping on a dead bug on the sidewalk. No double unders here, just doing enough to not trip over the rope. For years I skipped jumping rope all together because I looked A FOOL whenever I tried. I spent more time getting untangled from the rope than getting any sort of aerobic activity in.

Anyway, I know that no one really cares, but I need my sleep. I am seriously like a 2 year old in that respect. Sleep helps you regenerate your brain cells and recover both mentally and physically from the day. I know I read that somewhere. It has to be science, why else would it be so important for babies to get sleep?

Here’s the thing- Prednisone makes you wired. But not only was I amped up from the Prednisone, I was also in so much pain that I could not sleep. I finally fell asleep around 3am after watching two episodes of Real Housewives of New Jersey and eating 4th meal. Don’t judge- I don’t judge you for watching Duck Dynasty or The Bachelorette. I mean really, how is The Bachelorette still on? No one ever finds their “one true love” on that show?! And as for the food, well, I was hungry from burning so many calories writhing in pain. At least it wasn’t Taco Bell.

I couldn’t sleep in, but was really savoring crawling back into bed for a nap with Super Girl. We had the naps synchronized perfectly with Super Baby and this never happens because the kid is a sleep maniac. He still typically takes two naps a day, which means one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Super Girl’s comes sandwiched in the middle. If you have kids that aren’t super close together in age, you have probably encountered this form of house arrest several times. You can’t leave the house from 10am to 5pm. They should have just given Martha Stewart a baby and 3 year old as her punishment. Dated reference? Perhaps. I exaggerate somewhat, but you get my point.

Well, today the stars had aligned, which had me so excited in the hour leading up to what would be their simultaneous nap times. I was smug in fact. And of course, I was first in too much pain to relax and then, once the pain was under control, the Prednisone kept me from going to sleep. So although Super Baby rocked two hours, as per usual, and Super Girl is still asleep, 2.5 hours later, I am wide awake but utterly exhausted. And I don’t even have a 50 mile bike ride in the morning to show for it. Curses!

Sorry for the rant. At least I felt well enough yesterday to get in a killer workout, play with my kids, and take Super Dad to H&M for the first time. Super Baby was unimpressed with the car shirt, as evidenced by the photo below. It was neither a need nor a want.

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I also can’t complain because I felt well enough to have an awesome dinner with my super awesome neighbors. Seriously, it is like we moved to Pleasantville. I have never known so many awesome people in such a concentrated area. Really, they are so awesome that I have used the word awesome five times in this paragraph alone. It is something we have wanted for a long time, and we have finally found it.

So even though I want to be out there biking or running, all I really need is to feel better so I can be a good mom to my kids and wife to Super Dad. And I need my sleep of course. You mothers of newborns out there, if you have read this far without getting super frustrated with me, you will know what I’m talking about when that baby starts sleeping 🙂

PS- if you want to get a glimpse into a day in the life of me, Super Baby, Super Kid, and Super Dad, check out my Instagram handle: willrunforbiscuits (shocker). I typically will post workouts, photos of Super Baby wearing a Rapunzel wig, and the delicious and clean meals Super Dad creates for us during the week. Check it out if you want or need to. Although I honestly can’t think of a single sane, non stalkerish person who would need to follow my Instagram.

ISO Endorphins

If you follow me on Instagram – my handle may be really hard to remember: it’s willrunforbiscuits – then you may have noticed 1) no photos related to exercise and 2) everything seems really awesome in my world.  If you don’t follow me but you follow social medial in general, you probably know that most people seem to paint a picture that everything in there life is sunshine and puppies, PR’s in every race, babies that sleep 15 hours at night at 4 weeks old, pay raises, surprise giant bouquets of exotic flowers from significant others, and selfies.  I find it highly improbable that life is that perfect all the time.  People just want everyone else to think everything is hunky dory because really, who wants to be depressed by your screaming kid that just smeared bodily fluids on the wall?  Or maybe there is something missing any putting cute and happy pictures into the universe makes life better for the time being.

I know this isn’t really related to running, or triathlon training, but I’m going to connect the dots soon.  For the last week, I have not been able to work out.  No running (that makes three weeks now), no cycling, no swimming, no lifting, nothing.  Remember that leg thing that has been nagging me for a while that I self-diagnosed as compartment syndrome?  Wrong, it isn’t compartment syndrome.  I jacked up my back somehow.  I really have no clue how I did it.  I didn’t slip, trip, or fall.  I didn’t lift anything heavy other than one of my giant children or 50 pound dogs.  It just sort of happened over the last several weeks.  Really, since before my triathlon in July.  But I thought it was due to tight shoes or something.  In retrospect, I should have known it was my back, because when you herniate a disc at a certain point in your low back, it pretty much ONLY causes leg and foot symptoms. That’s it.  No back pain.  

I mentioned what was going on when I talked to my former boss last week (we’ll call her Jim).  It’s interesting because we joke that she is either future me or I am pre-millenium Jim.  When Jim was my age, she had two small kids.  Then she herniated a disc in her back and ended up having surgery.  Now she has two awesome teenageers and we have a lot more in common which i won’t get into, because I only overshare about myself, Super Dad, and the Super Kids.  Jim wanted to know how I was doing because she noticed that over the weekend I posted a lot of awesome, super happy photos on instagram from a bachelorette party I went to.  Then when I got back I posted a bunch of happy photos of Super Baby and Super Kid.  No Facebook updates to the effect of “Wow, my leg hurts. Still not running.  Really getting depressed.” I think Jim knew that something was still up, so she just wanted to check in on me, which I so appreciate.  Because it’s time I really check in on myself.

Running, exercising, pick your poison, has got to be one of the best anti-depressants out there.  I think most people involved in some form of fitness know that exercise makes you happy.  It’s science.  You’re probably familiar with the term “runner’s high,” which refers to the euphoric feeling one sometimes gets when exercising. Researchers have found that  heavy weights or training that incorporates sprinting or other anaerobic exertion produce endorphins. This is because when your body crosses over from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state, it’s suddenly operating without enough oxygen to satisfy the muscles and cells screaming out for it. This is when the “runner’s high” occurs.  This explains why I always feel best when I run so hard that I want to vomit. 

Since I have not been able to tap into any natural endorpins, my mental state has been less than awesome.  Not just because my body doesn’t feel right, but because I really felt like I was getting on the right track with my tri training.  I was proud of my cycling, my newfound commitment to the pool, and just being able to get some sort of schedule worked out that accommodated our family.  Now, I know it’s only been a week, but I naturally go to this place of “what if I need surgery?” and “what if I’m not supposed to bike anymore, or run?” or “what is nothing helps the numbness and burning in my leg and foot go away?” 

I entered what I consider the four stages of grieving: 1) ignorance- pretend you will be running again in a matter of days. 2) drinking and eating a lot of processed foods to deal with fact that ignorance isn’t working. 3) purging processed foods from house because stage 2 has made me feel totally gross. 4) being a bad friend.

I’m a bad friend because I don’t want to know how fast you are running, what upcoming triathlon you are sure to crush, how many miles you swam after working 9 hours and making homemade baby food, how ripped you are now that you can work out three hours a day and don’t eat any sugar or dairy or carbs, or how it’s soooo crazy that you never get hurt despite running 60 miles a week.  I should be supportive but right now, I don’t have enough endorphins to get me through the day without despairing that my hard work has been for nought.  That I am on my way to becoming a decrepit, unathletic middle-aged woman who will be limited to water aerobics and tai chi.  Not that those things aren’t cool.  But I want to SWEAT.  I want to compete.  I don’t want to be in this place, and so if I’m not commenting on Instagram or Facebook about what a badass runner you are and how you inspire me (because you really do), please don’t be angry with me.  I need more endorphins.  And I need my leg back. 

Temporary insanity

I haven’t run in a week. The downside: it’s making me a little crazy and unmotivated to blog because I don’t get the same satisfaction from just riding my bike. The upside: I am spending more time on my bike, which is clearly my weakest of the triathlon disciplines.

Why haven’t I run in a week? Because for the past several weeks, my left calf and foot have been getting that weird numb and tingly feeling that you get right before or after your leg falls asleep. And my foot has felt swollen to the point where if I wear a shoe that’s at all constricting, it really hurts. I thought that it was just an issue with how I was lacing my shoes, as the weird sensation would kind of go away after an hour or so. But over time, I have noticed that I have that numb and tingly sensation all the time. I asked a friend, who is the world’s greatest orthopedic physician’s assistant, about my symptoms via facebook. He immediately pointed me to this article on the interwebs about chronic exertional compartment syndrome. The symptoms fit me pretty much to a tee, which is not atypical when I google physical ailments. But since I did not initiate the googling in this case, I think I have legitimate reason for concern.

My PA friend suggested I take one two weeks off of running. I thought I could slide by with one but he called me out on it on facebook. That’s what you get when you overshare about your exercise habits. This feels like an eternity. I really felt like I was starting to make some headway improving my speed and stamina, but I’d rather lose a bit of ground that have my calf cut open. Or pay the surgical and anesthesia fees associated with said calf cutting. So far, I have not had any abatement of my symptoms.

I decided to push my international distance triathlon to October 5. It will be in Pinehurst, which is much hillier than White Lake, which I had originally intended. I want to give myself plenty of time to recover from whatever is going on with my left leg and foot, plus with all the hill training here in the Triangle, I should have an advantage over any flatlanders who come from Wilmington. Right? Right?

Instead of running, I have decided to concentrate on my cycling, and have done a 34 mile outdoor ride. It was my first ride over 25 miles so I feel a little better about doing 30 miles during my next tri. I think our average was 18.5 mph including stops for traffic lights, and I was not at all tired afterward, so I can’t complain. I am really just trying to figure out what gear I am most comfortable in while on the flats, and how hard I can push myself for 20 miles, 30, 40, etc. I finally had a professional fit me on my bike, had aerobars put on, and got new carbon pedals which I am in LOVE with. A tri bike is not in my immediate future unless someone would like to generously sponsor me, so I am doing the best with what I have. At least it’s not a mountain bike!

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Last night I did Insanity at the Cary YMCA. That workout seriously is very appropriately named. What kind of lunatic would/could do this every day? I seriously wanted to quit after warmup. No weights involved other than your body weight, but very little rest. I had such a massive puddle of sweat beneath me, I almost slipped and busted my face open on the gym floor. It was really attractive. This morning I could barely get out of bed I was so sore. I think it will be a nice little cross training activity that I will try to do every other week, after I have tapered for like 3 days. I just need to make sure I bring lots of towels next time. An an oxygen tank.

Tonight I have a swim/spin brick on tap. I have not been in the pool at all since the Triangle Tri, unless you include holding Super Baby in our community pool and trying to keep him from submerging himself underwater repeatedly. The kid thinks he is either David Blaine or Michael Phelps. I am not sure. For my heart’s sake, I hope he is the latter. I am giving myself the excuse that most people who do tris are just barely able to stay afloat, so I have that natural advantage. But when it comes down to it, 1500 meters two months from now are really going to suck if I don’t buckle down. Plus, the women who are beating me in my age group are super hardcore and are legit in the water. I am hoping they train at least five days a week, so that once I start swimming more than twice a month, I will start destroying them. Ha.

Getting back to my temporary insanity (Insanity workout unrelated), I am really just trying to listen to my body because if I am going to complete almost 3 hours of activity in October, then I need to be close to 100%. Granted, I have run for over 3 hours in my marathons in the past, but this is a whole new ballgame. Being unable to run, even if it is only temporary, takes away my security blanket since running is something I know how to do, and I can do it pretty much anywhere, regardless of what is going on with the weather. So I need to know what you triathletes do when you can’t run? What are your favorite cross-training activities? And how much strength training do you do? I feel like I am really dropping the ball in that area and don’t know if I should be just going to the gym and lifting or if doing a class with high reps/low weights is enough.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. I am planning to ride FIFTY miles on Sunday, just for fun, so I will let you know if I survive!

I wish I were a Kardashian…

Now I know you’re thinking “where could she possibly be going with this?” because presumably, the Kardashians have nothing to do with either running or biscuits, because they pay thousands of dollars a month for private pilates reformer lessons and thousands of dollars a week (day?) for a personal chef to make them delicious meals that are less than 1200 calories per day. Then again, I feel like the booties would be a little smaller if no biscuits were being consumed? I digress. The reason I somewhat envy the Kardashians is because I am pretty sure that most of them, except Rob- because he seems useless- have personal assistants that force them to stick to these strict schedules. I really need one of those. Because my flexibility, in areas of my life other than yoga of course, is getting a little out of control.

I used to be one of those people that was very regimented with my schedule. This is most likely because I had only 24 hours in a day to get in two swim practices, go to high school or college 6-8 hours a day, eat, and hibernate. This carried over into my adulthood, to the point where I would not go to a happy hour if I had a long run planned (LOSER) or I would get serious anxiety if I someone bailed on our plans and I had to come up with some other way to entertain myself. Or, if someone suggested doing a race together in 11.4 weeks, I would say “no, that is 4 days too short for me to complete a full 12 week training cycle.”

When Super Girl entered this universe, I continued this military precision scheduling, as many new mothers do. We were I was going to get this tiny human sleeping through the night by 19 days old if it killed me. That is slight hyperbole. Oh, you’re hungry 6 minutes before this sleep training book says you’re permitted to eat again? Sorry, hope you can get some milk out of that pacifier because the milk factory is off limits for 6… 5 1/2 more minutes. Someone wants us to meet them for a quick brunch? Not gonna happen, it may overlap with naptime by 15 seconds. I was so wed/chained to the schedule that I drove EVERYONE crazy. Including myself. Granted, I ended up with a champion sleeper, but that’s genetics there.

The second time around, I decided that I would be a lot more flexible with Super Baby’s feeding, sleeping, etc. I would head to the gym and Super Dad would say “What time does Super Baby need to eat next?” My response: “uh, whenever. anytime between 2 and 4 hours from now.” Ok I wasn’t quite that lackadaisical, but you get my point. Super Dad looked at me like I had grown a second head and was speaking in Mandarin. He was certainly not expecting anything other than “90 to 91 minutes from now. No earlier, no later. And don’t rock him to sleep, that’s a sleep prop. And no white noise, that’s a sleep prop too. So is loving him too much” (just kidding!)

I liked my newfound flexibility as well. It was very liberating at first, but then it sort of morphed into this hippie meets ADD-ish attitude. What should we have for dinner? Oh, whatever (I became that girl). Should we go out of town next weekend? Yeah, I guess. Or we could not. We could just “play it by ear.” Should I run a marathon? Sounds good, maybe…

But here is where my flexibility really got to me, as an athlete and now, as a member of this family. I have run precisely three races since Super Baby was born 13 months ago- an 8k, 5k, and 10k. This is because I could not commit to the schedule required to train for a half marathon or full marathon. I don’t know if it’s because I was scared to start really getting into the training, only to run the race and be disappointed in myself as I have so many times before. Or maybe it’s because I just wasn’t willing to sacrifice spontaneous trips to the park, or ice cream after work, or going with my tried and true calorie scorcher (and social hour) at the YMCA in Charlotte. It’s most likely a combination of all of these things. Ultimately, it resulted in me achieving basically zero of my goals for the first year after Super Baby was born, besides fit back into pants that have zippers.

Since we have moved to Raleigh, scheduling really has to be a necessity in our lives. We don’t live as close to daycare or work as we did in Charlotte. Granted, we could walk to daycare and work (but didn’t, because we’re the world’s worst commuters like that), and the Y was just over a mile away. Here, we spend significantly more time in our cars than we used to. Again, this is a very small fraction of time compared to what the average American has to spend getting to and from their place of work. Point being, the amount of time we are sitting in the car is time that I used to spend just kind of farting around after work or actually spending at the gym or running. Getting to the Y now by 6pm takes an act of Congress. We also don’t want to take the kids to the Y as much because overall, we are spending probably 30 fewer minutes per day with them so we want to be at home with them when we can. This poses quite a quandary for my triathlon, and eventually marathon (!) training.

Recently, Super Dad bought a white board so that we could map out our family schedule each week. The board still has not been mounted on our mud room wall, so I just pretend that I don’t actually have to commit to anything until it is officially on the wall. Most weeks I spend quite a bit of time trying to decide what days I will ride, what days I will run and what workouts I will do, and which days I will swim (almost never) or do strength work. Then, I spend even more time not sticking to that plan. I have been applauding myself for my ability to be flexible and continue to get what I presume is an adequate amount of training in despite my having to change up the plan at the last minute. If I have planned a morning run and I decide to sleep in, which is 95% of the time, I don’t beat myself up because I have already given myself a backup plan of two other times during the day to run.

The problem with this flexibility is that it is all inside my head. So while I am patting myself on the back for getting my workout in when in the old days (post sleep training breakdown, pre-newfound dedication to training) I would have just called the day a wash and decided I would just do “extra” the next day, I am messing up someone else’s plans. Yesterday, I was going to get up at 6am to do a tempo run. Story of my life, I just gave my iphone alarm the old “get real” and slept in another hour-ish. I then worked through lunch, planning to leave work early to get my run done on the treadmill before picking up the kids. Of course, things didn’t work out quite so perfectly, so I headed home and set out for a run just after 5pm in the sunny, 90 degree weather.

I was so angry with myself for not being able willing to stick with my original planned morning running. It was hot, humid, sunny, and I was just annoyed. I knew I would likely be slower because of these conditions, so I set 8:15 as my goal pace. Mile one went by in 7:37 I think. Ohhh, this isn’t so bad. At 1.4 miles, I heard a lot of thunder and noticed the skies were getting a bit dark. At 1.5 miles, it started pouring. Like, horizontal rain sheets attacking my face. I just kept trucking, knocked out a 7:24. Then mile 3 was all uphill, heavy shoes, wind, and frustration that my headphones broke from all the rain. 7:50. Back on the flats the rest of the way- 7:34, 7:36, 7:34 I think. I stopped at 6 miles because Super Dad was bringing the kids home and he had a prior engagement, which had been scheduled well in advance of 5pm that day, and I needed to make sure I was there when I said I would be home.

I was feeling pretty smug about my ability to get in a really solid workout despite sleeping in and presumably heading out to run in the worst conditions ever. I was expecting heat exhaustion but I got a nice brisk run in, and bonus- people couldn’t tell if I was soaked in sweat or acid rain! I told Super Dad that I planned to go to a strength and conditioning class at the Y tonight so I could work on getting my upper body muscles back. Although I lamented my gigantic lats in my youth, I now wish I had at least half of a bicep or maybe even a quarter of a pec. And abs, well a 2 pack would suffice. We agreed this would work with our family’s commitments for today.

Then around 3:30 this afternoon, I find out that my favorite gym in Raleigh, which is a bit too steep for my budget, had a free class at 5:30 tonight. Score!!! Sign me up. Problem: I talked to Super Dad soon thereafter and learned that this time probably wasn’t going to work for the family because I would need to pick up the kids from daycare. Problem solved: call Super Mother-in-Law and then I can still go to the 5:30 class. Psych! Although this allowed me to get my workout in, I was selfish and put someone else out, all because of my classic spur of the moment “I do what I want” attitude. Hmmm, and I wonder why Super Girl does this

Anyway, although no kids were neglected, no puppies went without dinner, and no world peace pacts went unsigned because of my not sticking to the previously agreed upon schedule (it wasn’t in writing though, so it’s not really legally binding right? oh wait, I should know the answer to that one) I still messed up. It’s really not that difficult to wake up at 5:30 to run a couple times a week. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t go to a free gym class immediately after work, when I can go to an equally free class two hours later when Super Dad is available to watch the Super Kids. And it’s probably a pretty good idea, if I have actual goals I want to achieve, that I stick to some sort of training plan, or those goals will just end up as more registration fees that have vanished into PayPal cyberspace.

So my commitment for next week is to be both a Kardashian and a Kardashian assistant. I will force myself to stick with my training plan, including the actual start times for my workouts. Not just getting them done within 24 hours of when I had planned, but doing a morning run if that’s what the schedule calls for, etc. If someone gets sick or work runs late or a neighbor needs us (to drink wine with them on the porch), that’s understandable. Life happens. But it’s time this not so Super Mommy started making her Super Family’s life a priority rather than her sweat life. I think the result will be happier kids, happier man chef hubby, and ironically enough, happier me. My, how we have come full circle grasshopper.

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You are what you eat

People always say, “you are what you eat.” I never really got that. If I eat steak, that doesn’t make me a cow. Cows don’t eat other cows- they eat grass, hay, pulp, and other stuff humans toss out, but they are still cows. Note: A lot of googling went into figuring out what a cow’s diet consists of. Likewise, if I eat broccoli, celery, and garbanzo beans, that doesn’t make me a vegetable (or legume if you want to get technical). So I always figured I could just eat what I wanted because the saying didn’t make any sense.

A couple friends recently sent me a link to The Oatmeal’s comic about running. There’s a slight chance very high probability that I annoyed several coworkers laughing out loud as I read the post about the terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances, particularly Part 2 “the feeding.” This comic could not more aptly describe my eating habits. As a swimmer, I trained up to 5 hours a day over the course of two workouts. I was always hungry. And I ate whatever I wanted. We’re talking a Croissanwich AND French Toast sticks from Burger King after morning practice, curly fries with cheese at the high school cafeteria at lunchtime, then a DQ frosty and six powdered donut gems from 7 Eleven before afternoon practice. Looking back, it is truly a miracle I did not develop type II diabetes or high cholesterol as a teen. And the only reason I was not obese is because I was burning upwards of 5,000 calories a day.

In college, I did not binge quite as much but really, who did not indulge in late night Domino’s? Plus, I continued to swim so the calorie burn continued. I noticed though that I was always tired despite taking two naps a day, and my metabolism wasn’t quite what it used to be. Shocker right? To think that your metabolism might decrease as you age, it is such a novel idea.

As I took up running more after college, I somehow fooled myself into thinking that my diet was appropriate for ANY LIVING BEING, including a super calorie burning athlete like Lance Armstrong or a 600 pound gorilla – also googled that one- that has nothing to accomplish in life. Wrong. Not only was I failing to come even remotely close to offsetting the calories going in, I was also just putting trash into my body. And I felt like trash. I had no energy, could not focus on my classes in law school, and I gained a lot of weight.

So, lesson learned, right? False. I thought that if I just ate fewer calories, I could still eat whatever I wanted. I convinced myself that the reason I ran is so that I could eat tons of Bojangles. When I was pregnant, I ate French fries with ranch dressing like I had just come off of four weeks competing in Survivor. I gained less than 30 lbs each time, and the Super Babies turned out healthy, and not large, but I only think it was because I ran a lot, or am just predisposed to making smaller offspring (until they turn 4 months old, then all bets are off).

When I started on this journey, I was obviously not running for kale, for health, to set a good example for my children, or for me. I ran for biscuits, plain and simple. I ran because I wanted to eat. I have learned that eating is a major crutch for me. It is how I cope with stressors in life, it is how I celebrate, it is how I bide my time, it is how I bond with friends and family. Because eating is such a huge part of my life- other than the obvious, that everyone has to eat to survive- I figured I would just run to support my habit. Well, that’s just not cutting it anymore.

I really felt that I had stalled out in my running, and not just because I have been either making babies or feeding babies on and off for the past four years. I thought I had tried everything, from doing more strength workouts, to cross training, to doing interval work. I think I knew in the back of my mind that I was avoiding the most obvious thing: my diet. Not diet like Weight Watchers or Paleo or 80/20 or Atkin’s (does anybody even do that anymore?) or anything with a label. Just my nutritional needs.

Lately, Super Dad has been majorly into cooking. He has always taken the reigns in that regard, but he has upped his game from Master Griller to Master Chef. We aren’t talking Joel Robuchon, but just simple yet flavorful and healthful meals. We want to make a concerted effort to eat more whole foods and to instill an appreciation of the earth and our bodies (not in a touchy feely crunch way, though it is totally cool if you are into that) in our kids. Now, Super Girl still digs her Drumstick ice cream cones, and she comes by that honestly, because I ate approximately 193 of those while she was in utero, but last night while I was juicing, she asked for blueberries and apples for dessert. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if she is actually mine. Or maybe she is already angling for a car. Her 16th birthday is only 13 years away.

Since we have been eating a more balanced diet and significantly less takeout and/or processed foods, I have noticed an uptick in my energy and improved endurance and speed. I have had days where I typically would have dragged through a workout, but last week was able to knock out mile repeats faster than I imagined possible a few months ago. I enjoy running too, and I am not just thinking about what I am goig to stuff my face with after finishing a run.

I also find that I am craving better foods. I used to get the shakes if I didn’t mainline Nutella, but now I can go weeks without eating half a jar. I now crave my green juice, which is about five leaves of kale, a handful of spinach, three green apples, one cucumber, and two handfuls of grapes. It is glorious, and both Super Baby and Super Girl approve.

That said, I don’t get excited by beets or coconut milk or chia seeds. I like my carbs, they make me feel happy sometimes and in moderation, provide me with the energy I need to get through a long workout. I know I know, beets are probably better for energy and are a super food. I still think they taste like dirt. I also still enjoy my Bojangles, mainly for the sake of this blog, because I would hate to have to change the name 🙂 I still eat cheeseburgers more often than I should, and I still get my Drumsticks, but I get the mini version instead. So I guess if you are what you eat, I’m now mini version of my old self. And a little greener.

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