An Ultra Marvelous Monday

Feeling ultra marvelous today because my half marathon was yesterday! I’m still in the post-race glow; in awe of what I accomplished. I feel so blessed to have the body and mind to complete 13.1 miles. Surprisingly, I felt like 13.1? No problem. It doesn’t seem that far to me anymore because it’s obtainable. I finished in 2:02:46! A whopping 52 minutes and 10 seconds faster than last year’s half marathon. I’d call that progress. 🙂 And no stomach issues to report! High five!

I will do a more in depth recap of the race this week, but for now just a snipet of the excitement I felt yesterday!

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Other marvelous things that happened this week…

Marvelous is…new Mizunos! Sara at LovingOnTheRun mentioned this great deal on Mizuno Wave Ronins from Running Warehouse. Because I’m also a PaceSetters member (local running club) I got an extra 15% off! The shoes came to a total of $24.88, not bad for a pair of Mizunos. They’re a little stiffer than my Wave Elixirs, but I think they’ll be good for speed work.

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Marvelous is…the energy I get from exercising. I can feel a significant difference at night if I haven’t worked out during the day. In the past, I would’ve assumed exercising would make me more tired at night, but I find when I’m eating nutritious foods and running I have much more energy. Besides running, I have continued to attend my favorite classes at the gym including Group Core and Group Centergy. These classes complement running beautifully, as Core helps to strengthen problem areas (i.e., glutes/hips) and Centergy builds strength while stretching out my tight muscles. Because I attend core regularly, I went on Saturday before my half marathon without feeling sore for the race.

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Marvelous is…seeing this face after running 13.1 miles. He makes me smile. 🙂 I am definitely one of those obsessive dog owners who takes way too many pictures of her dog. #SorryImNotSorry

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Marvelous is…fall shows started! I am a huge fan of New Girl and The Mindy Project. Morgan on the Mindy Project is my favorite character on TV. So many good one liners. In fact, someone put together “27 Reasons Morgan from The Mindy Project Is the Best“. My favorite is “He Loves to Work Out.” I also love that we have Hulu Plus and can watch episodes anytime we want!

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What a glorious weekend! It was much needed after a hectic week. I’m definitely back into the swing of things with speech therapy and IEPs. Oh joy 🙂

Hope everyone has a great week! I am already looking ahead to our next race which is the Brewers 10K in Milwaukee this Saturday! It’s like Christmas around here with all the races going on!

Anyone have a fall race still to come? Which one? What is your favorite fall TV show? 

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Taper Time

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More about running. What else, right?

Actually, that’s the first bulletin board I put together in my speech classroom. Not the best, but give me a little credit as there’s not actually a bulletin board there, just a wall. I’m going to have the kiddos write on paper marshmallows and add them to the sticks. We can’t actually eat s’mores at school because of (obv) lack of a fire and the “no sweets” policy.

I was excited to see the PaceSetters newsletter awaiting me yesterday. The opening article highlighted how it’s now time to taper and be okay with where we are physically at this point before fall races. Tapering is fine with me right now, as my days are a little busier. While I’m still running, I’m not running as many miles as I was a month ago.

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Running newsletter. All things running. Yah!

As I was watching Extreme Weight Loss (season finale :() Tuesday night, I heard this great quote by my boy, Chris Powell.

This got me thinking. With tapering being my focus right now and the half marathon coming up (2 weeks from Sunday!), what the heck am I going to do afterwards?! I’ve done a million times better this go around with training, but I’ve never gone past the training. I’ve never incorporated running into my life without having a future goal or race in mind. I was pondering these thoughts and then heard Chris’ quote above. I know too much now about how great I feel to ever go back to my sedentary lifestyle. It’s just not an option. I can doubt myself and worry that I’ll give it up. But that wouldn’t do me any good. It’s kind of like running. During my run today, I was doubting if I could finish strong without walking and then I just made up my mind. Done. Not quitting. It’s just not an option.

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Doesn’t hurt to have this beautiful trail so close to my house either. I most likely won’t run as far when I’m done with the half marathon, but I will continue to run. For one, I’m running the Brewers 10k the following Saturday and two, more importantly, it’s just not an option. Runners don’t just give up. We persevere, yo.

Another reason and more motivation to keep running, is this little black “pebble” attached to my left shoe. My husband’s work supplied the pebbles, really cool looking pedometers, to encourage more active lifestyles. I can set how many steps per day I want to achieve. It has little green lights that glow and once they’re all lit up, I’ve reached my goal for the day (10,000 steps). The current challenge is to earn the most running steps from September through November. Bring it on Mr. GYK. You’re going down.

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So while I could worry and fret that I’ll stop running after my races this fall, I’m just going to believe in myself instead. 

Are you doing any fall races? How’s your training going? Do you continue to run through the fall/winter?

My Butt Needs Work

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Saturday morning I completed my last long training run before the Fox Cities Half Marathon this month!! I ran with the PaceSetters, which is a local running group here. We had 11 miles on the schedule and though some miles were mentally tough, I did it! At about mile 9 it really hit me that I’m doing this and I’m going to do it well this time. Last year’s half was a bit of a disappointment because of my body, but this year I have new determination to not only finish, but finish strong. I’m pretty excited about the race on September 22nd. I tend to get overly excited during races where I just want to slap high fives with spectators and yell to everyone around me, “We’re doing it!!! We’re almost there!” I wish I could bottle that feeling, that sense of accomplishment I get during races.

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The best part of my run was meeting a new running buddy (keep finding new ones at every run :)), Debbie. We were both keeping a 9:30 min/mile pace and just fell into sync next to each other. We ran and talked the last three miles together. I learned that Debbie has been running for 20+ years and has completed 12 half marathons. She took second in her age group last year at the Fox Cities Half Marathon. I was guessing her age to be in the later 40s…only to find out she’s 61! I couldn’t believe how great she looks! When we finished our run, Debbie mentioned every run she writes down someone’s name and runs one mile for them, every mile except for that last one that is. Debbie said, “That mile is always for me.” 

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Debbie and I after 11 miles.

Running is so much more than running. Running gives you a connection to other runners, an understanding that you’re a fighter, you’re driven, you’re willing to put effort into something, you’re willing to keep going even if it’s difficult. A running mindset, that I can accomplish my goals if I just keep trying, can be applied to many facets of our lives. That’s what I love about running. Debbie noted running helped her through many difficult times in her life and I can relate. I had just met Debbie and already felt open enough to discuss my mom’s passing and she shared that she lost her mom when she was 20. We all have heard the phrase, “Running is cheaper than therapy.” True that.

After my training run, I took advantage of the physical therapists they had on hand. I mentioned to the PT that I have been having hip pain once I get about 6 miles into my longer runs. I have ben trying to strengthen my hips (i.e., Centergy classes) and increase my cadence. She questioned how I increase my cadence. Honestly, I just try to think about taking short, quick steps and repeat in my head to “pick up you feet, pick up your feet.” (Read more about cadence and good form running here) She checked my hip alignment which was good. Then she checked my glute strength. I’ve been so focused on strengthening my hips, I didn’t think about my glutes being weak. Sure enough, when she asked me to resist while she pushed, I folded like a weakling. I have a weak butt! She recommended resistance band exercises and doing plank jacks.

We spent the rest of our weekend at my parent’s cottage on the lake soaking up the last sun of summer.

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Pro compresh and leg draining in the car.

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Murphy basking in the late afternoon sunlight.

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Murph loved kayaking with us.

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Tomorrow is the first day of school for the kiddos, so I’m back to working full time. After a summer full of running, getting my body on track, farmer’s markets, trips, and seeing friends/family, I’m ready for the challenge of a new school year. I haven’t been present for a first day of elementary school yet, so I’m looking forward to the excitement!

Enjoy the rest of your labor day!

Do you get overly excited during races? Any suggestions for good exercises or videos to strengthen glutes/hips? What did you do over the long weekend?

Are you an athlete?

How is your day going? Do you need a posture reset? How about a life reset? No? Just coffee? Okay. Me too.

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Besides my wonderful “mini” vacation I took last Friday, the other highlight of my weekend included training for my half marathon. My long distance on Saturday was 10 miles. I ran with a local running group, the PaceSetters, which really helps when the mileage gets high. They reported 130 people signed in to run with the group that day! Great to see people in our community getting out and being active. The PaceSetters set up the course map and 2 water stations on the out and back half course (there’s also a full marathon training course).

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My run went well, though I was feeling some pain in my tight right hip (need to do more of these hip exercises via SkinnyChickBlog). I ran mostly by myself for the first 8 miles. At the water station at mile 8 though, I found a new friend to run with! He was really nice and talking with him made the last 2 miles fly by! As we were chatting about running (what else?), he asked me “So you’re an athlete?” I wasn’t sure how to answer his question.

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I am in no way an “athlete” in the same respect as high school, college, or professional athletes. I like to exercise and while I’m {technically} competing at races, I’m not there to win the race. Like most runners, I do like numbers and compete against myself more than anything. It’s exciting to push myself and see improvements from my training. That’s what keeps me motivated.

I told my newly dubbed “running buddy” that I’ve completed a couple races this summer. His reply was, “So you are an athlete.” Again, I was still on the fence with answering and was hesitant to say “YES.” I’ve finally started to get comfortable calling myself a “runner”, I’m not sure I’m ready to call myself an athlete.

I did a quick google search and came up with this definition from Webster:

athlete: a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

By definition many of us are athletes, though we may not group ourselves with the likes of Kara Goucher or Michael Jordan. We train and learn as much as we can about running. We are strong, have agility, and stamina to make it through 13.1 or 26.2 miles. Still, I wouldn’t use the term “athlete” to describe myself in every day conversation. In my opinion, the key term that is missing from the Webster definition is competition. Athletes compete against other athletes to determine who is the best. Do I do that? Not quite.

In reality, it won’t change anything whether I think of myself as an athlete or not. However, it’s a label that I don’t think really fits what I’m doing.

If I had to answer the question my running buddy posed again, I would say “Nope, I’m not in it to win it. I’m just a girl who likes to run.”

How would you answer my running buddy’s question? Are you an athlete? In your opinion, what makes someone an athlete?