Why Run?

It’s hard to really give one reason why I run. Sure, I could give you some amazing essay about the feeling of breaking the tape or how I love to compete, but that’s not me. But I’m also not being chased by zombies, so there is that. I’m just an average girl running for what we all (not so secretly) run for. So, let’s do it David Letterman-style!

The top ten reason I run…

img_1646This is such a common reason, but it’s one of mine. I was doing Weight Watchers and the scale was moving downwards at the most glacial pace… My leader made a statement that has stuck with me forever – the scale isn’t isn’t going to really move until you do. I decided right then that I was going to have to start walking. Walking turned to walking with little bursts of running a few seconds and then to signing up for the gateway drug – the 5K! Running helped me drop 75 pounds in about 24 months and it continues to allow me to stay fit.

img_1648I would say the whole “Taco Tuesday” thing, but living in Texas, every day is taco day. If it can be mashed up and thrown into a tortilla, it’s post-run fuel. My favorites include a solid migas taco from Taco Joint, and regular old crispy shell, beef tacos from Manny’s and El Fenix. I’m a creature of habit and a girl of simple tastes. I crave them mid-race too. In fact, there “might” have been an incident at the Dallas Rock n Roll one year in which I “might” have called ahead to a Mexican restaurant that was on the course to have them bring a taco to me as I passed. “Maybe.”

img_1654I’m fairly back of the pack, so I’m not talking the actual age group awards, but more power to ya if you’re a speedy. Just please don’t be in the 45-49 age group, I don’t need anymore people pushing me further down in the standings these days – haha! No, I’m talking about the finishers medals and the swag you get by plunking down the $75 to run a race. The cooler they are, the more I’m begging my running tribe to come party with me for a few miles. My favorite medals have been my marathon medals from the BCS Marathon because it was made with beautiful stained glass, and a medal from a local 5 and 10 mile race that was 80’s music themed – the medal was made to look like a cassette tape! Is there anything better than #MedalMonday posts?

img_1653Cake, enough said. Who doesn’t run for baked goodness? I mean, this is the Cupcake Mile, for goodness sake! Again with Dallas Rock n Roll race stories, and how this little blog got it’s name… I was running the half marathon and started getting a little delirious around mile 11. It was super cold that morning and I tend not to drink enough when it’s like that, so maybe it was dehydration that did it??? But, I saw mile 11 and thought, “11 miles. Only two more. Two more miles is a piece of cake. Ooh! Cake! I could go for a cupcake about now. Seriously. A lemon cupcake! Maybe a few blueberries on top to make it healthy. Yeah. Cupcakes.” It was only after I realized that everyone around me was trying to give me distance did I realize that was all actually said OUT LOUD. So, my son jokingly referred to mile 11 as my cupcake mile for years.

img_1652My coworkers actually know that running at lunchtime is the best kind of therapy. No matter how nuts it gets, a half hour on the trail by my office cures it all. I’ve solved big problems out on those lunchtime runs because it gives me the opportunity to step away, clear my head, hear nothing but rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement, and take it all in. And just for the record, I don’t care if I’m not fresh as a daisy in the afternoon at the office. My hair pulled back in a low ponytail, a fresh application of deodorant and a quick wipe with a wet washcloth in the bathroom while I change back into my work clothes has never resulted in any complaints – unlike my coworkers who attempt to microwave fish in the break room. 😉

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I’ve recently found a new love for trail running (ok, hiking… I’m slow enough that I’m hiking…) and there is something beautiful about the scenery when you get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

 

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There seems to be an overarching theme to why I run – FOOD! My husband is a chef and has opened his own pie shop in town and there has been a lot of “testing” of pies before they are put on the menu. It’s been a big dream for years, and we are finally chasing it. But, if I want to fit into my clothes, I need to keep running!

 

img_1656Two Words – Running Skirts Yep, I said it. I’m vain. I found these running skirts from Skirt Sports after a girl mentioned them in an online thread I was participating in. I was a super new runner (aka, I was walking with little spurts of 10 seconds of running) at the time and definitely overweight. I was trying so hard to lose the weight, but my thighs rubbed together and I really wanted to blend in to the background to never be seen. But man, those skirts online were so cute! I took a big leap and bought one because the owner of the company SWORE I wouldn’t chafe. I liked the idea of a hidden pocket under the skirt that I could stash my (always needed!) inhaler for my asthma. Despite the bright colors and big prints not allowing me to blend into the background, when I put that skirt on, I felt pretty for the first time in a really long time. I felt feminine. I felt like I was a real runner. Now I’m kind of known for my skirts. And since Skirt Sports keeps coming out with new prints, I kind of need to justify the purchases and get out for a run!

img_1647I struggled with the idea of “doing it for me” for a couple of years. I had more than thirteen years of putting my son (and daughter) first in the family. I spent every day being a mom before I was Erin. That’s what women are supposed to do, right? But really all it was reinforcing for my children was that mothers are supposed to sacrifice themselves. What I discovered when I began running was that I am actually a better mother because I take time out of my day for me. Yes, I’m gone for an hour. But when I am with her, I am present. I am not frazzled or yelling. My daughter sees a healthy mom that has the energy to keep up with her. She sees her mom modeling good food habits for her – that food is fuel and it’s far better to be strong. She is learning how to set goals and work towards them.

img_1649Happy Hour! Seriously, I run with the most amazing group of friends and when we get together, it’s easy to run easy conversation pace because we are all yammering about our day, our kids, our jobs, dating, marriage, all of it. Instead of cocktails in cute little glasses with umbrellas, we are sipping electrolytes through a plastic bottle, but it’s kind of the same thing, right? I mean, my group is like the Sex in the City of running. Our little group has women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond, and running is that common bond that keeps us glued together.

 

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#NEVERDO: Kickboxing

After many years of being “just a runner” and continuously training for marathon after marathon, I woke up and realized that all of this movement in the forward direction caused me to become pretty one dimensional. And only in one direction. Slowly.

img_1164.jpgSo I decided to make a change in 2018 and find out what else sparks joy in my heart and try all sorts of new activities. The first order of business was getting with my mini-me and asking her what all she wanted to try. We pulled out the computer and pulled up Groupon. Yep, that’s where this all starts. There are so many random activities that you can get Groupons for to try something out. We made our list and will be trying to tackle this list over the year.

That’s how this insanity began.

img_1165.jpgThe alarm went off at 4:45 and I briefly considered rolling back over. Had I seen the current temperature outside, I would have probably done just that. But Linda was waiting. Linda NEVER skips. Linda is NEVER late. I both hate and love that about her.

I thank the heavens a little that I was smart enough to pack my bag last night and laid out my clothes so I could throw it on and go. Run into the kitchen to warm up my Meat and Sweet Potato mini pie that we made Sunday and fed Miles the cat. The alarm is going off literally every ten minutes to remind me to get the heck out of the house on time. The bracing 28 degree air about bowled me over, but I ran to the car instead of back to bed.

Kickboxing. What the hell was I thinking???

img_1163The lights are bright and the gals at the front desk are way to chipper for 5:30am. But Linda and I run into Susan, a running friend! This social media thing is kind of funny. You never know who you might bring along on this crazy train when you just post that you’re doing it. She is here for her first class!

The class begin with close to 20 minutes of boot-camp style hell. I mean, burpees and squats and mountain climbers and jumping things that 40-something year old women who have had kids really shouldn’t be doing. You know why… 😉 It’s finally over, just as you are thinking that one more burpee might actually send you to your grave.

img_1159Time for the gloves. I mean, that’s why you’re there, right? We start off with a small combination of some sort, I recall that it had a cross and an upper cut. Simple enough, even when my brain is still back in dreamland (aka, my nice warm bed). Each of the combinations are done in one or two minute intervals, as many as possible until you hear the sound to stop. Then the combinations start including a bunch of roundhouses and jabs and kicks. My inability to do Zumba is evident – I just really struggle with trying to quickly remember four or five moves and not look like a lunatic just flailing about. I look over and Linda seems to be getting it. I’m just dying. But I look at the screen and we’ve been at it for like 47 minutes, which means this hell, I mean this class, is almost over.

img_1161We spend the next ten minutes doing fast partner drills. Linda and I are just dorks and watching the others to try to mimic them. Good thing we have a sense of humor. And that it’s nearly over because I am pretty much a sopping wet, sweaty disaster. A little stretching to end the class and it’s time to rush home to see my sweet girl before school. Sean asks how the class was (I mumble something about pretty sure I died a few times) and then asks if I’m going to take a shower. I’m pretty sure it’s like being offered a breath mint. If someone offers, always take it – it could be a hint.

Never in a million years did I think I would ever find myself in a kickboxing studio. But everyone at the studio is so welcoming. Almost like a cult. I should be worried. 😉 Linda and I paid for a 5-class special package, so we will be there to finish out the classes, but I’m not sure this is a long-term thing for me. It’s a fun workout, super high-intensity, and I burned about 500 calories in the hour workout, according to my heart rate monitor. It’s pretty expensive – I think it’s $180 or so per month and you have to sign up for six months. That’s a whole lot of race fees and I just don’t see myself going to enough classes every month to make it financially make sense. Besides, this is a year of trying lots of new things, so I need to keep my schedule open…

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What Inspired You to Begin?

I get a little emotional the second Sunday in December. That’s the date of the Dallas Marathon, my hometown race.

I have lived in the neighborhood that the course runs through since I moved to Dallas. Oh, how it would piss me off to see my streets blocked on a random Sunday morning, making brunch plans impossible. To say I wasn’t a runner was an understatement.

In 2011, I topped out at 75+ pounds overweight. I was miserable. I was sedentary. I was on blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication. I was headed down the same damn path that so many take. It was my primary care doctor that just made an off-hand comment about how “this is as good as it gets” and “it’s all downhill from here.” I hated him at that moment. But a few weeks later, sitting on my hotel bed watching tv after a long day at work in another city, room service carnage all around me, something snapped. I literally, out loud, said “GET UP!”

I walked over to my laptop and joined Weight Watchers. I found a meeting at a location nearby and walked out of the hotel room. I stopped by the concierge desk and instructed them to remove the television from my room before I returned. They looked at me like I had three heads, but they said they would get it done. I sheepishly slinked into that first meeting to figure out if they could help me take control of my life. I was overwhelmed, but there was this insane drive to just make the change. I stopped by the Sports Authority that I saw on the way and bought a pair of workout pants and a pair of clearance shoes that I now know were nowhere near the right size. But the beauty of buying a pair on clearance was that no one had to help me, which meant I could remain as invisible as a fat middle-aged woman could be in a store she never thought she would be in. When I got back, I put those Nikes on told myself that if I was going to watch tv, it would be while walking on a treadmill.

But I digress… this is about the MARATHON!

So, fast forward a few months and it’s an insane, cold, stormy December morning in 2011. The family slept in, as usual, and we went out for a lazy Sunday meal. We went north, to Panera at North Park Mall, rather than our usual spots south of us because of the street shut downs. As I unapologetically ate that macaroni and cheese (side note: that stuff is amazing! All 950 calories of it!), the door opened. In walked a guy all bundled up and a woman who had just run the race. She was drenched, shivering, wrapped in a heat blanket and wore a medal.

She seriously looked like hell. Most would feel sorry for her, because seriously, it was COLD and WET that day! But all I saw on her face was exhausted confidence. She finished! She had an air that said she could conquer anything.

I turned back around and looked Sean right in the eyes and said, “I’m going to do that race!” His eyes widened and the concerned look came over his face.

“You know what race she just ran, right? I mean, do you even know how LONG the marathon is??”

“I don’t know, but I know I want to do that race. I want to know what that feeling is like. She looks like she can do anything!”

I hadn’t run a single step, but at that moment, I became a runner. I spent the next year tackling 5Ks and 10Ks and registered for the Half Marathon. I eventually ran the Dallas Marathon a couple of years later. Now, it’s a permanent spot on my calendar, either running or volunteering. I love this race and I love the people in it.

But the weekend always brings back that sense of nostalgia. I have no idea who that girl was. I don’t know if she ran the full, the half or even the relay. Maybe she was a “one and done-er.” But every year, I am reminded that the power of one person can profoundly change your entire life’s trajectory. So, my annual “thank you” goes out to her. Thank you for bringing me a confidence that I never had before. Thank you for helping me turn my entire family into a family of runners. Thank you for the amazing people that have been brought into my life. Thank you for showing me how awesome running and friendship could be. Thank you.

Medal Monday: Cane Field Classic 2017

OK, it’s not exactly Monday, but it’s close enough, right? So, let’s jump right in.

I had a planned trip this past weekend to sherpa for my son at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, so when I saw that the Cane Field Classic was the day before his race, I kind of jumped on the registration. You see, last year my friends, Susan, Erika and Kim, did this race and had such a great time, they insisted that I put this on my list for consideration in the future.

I believe it was kismet that the races were on the same weekend.

So what is the Cane Field Classic? It’s actually three races. The first is called the Sugar Mile and it’s a one mile race on a dirt path. The second race is a four mile race on trail, a little more technical and really pretty through tall sugar cane stalks. A little more technical, but nothing bad. The third, and final, race is called the Rows of Hell and is two miles through very tight, shoulder-high sugar canes. The sugar cane stalks are sharp and the dirt between the rows are rutted out and only wide enough to put one foot directly in front of the other, otherwise, your ankles are rolling in the whole time. When you complete all three races, you earn a machete!img_6906-1

Packet pickup was pretty standard. A bib and a shirt. The shirt was a super soft cotton that came in a variety of colors. I chose the blue shirt and Sean chose a red one. The car dealership gave out reusable water bottles and made sure there was plenty of water for all of the runners each time we went through the start/finish line.

img_6834Because they are three back-to-back races, I was worried about maintaining a pace that would allow me to finish in time to start the next race. I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem. Come to find out, the group didn’t start the next race until the last finisher came in from the previous race! It was such a great experience to see all of the runners, including the fasties, cheering on every single finisher. This was truly more of party than a competitive race, which was evidenced by the fact that the kegs were tapped before the first race began. LOL We received a dog tag at the finish line of the last race, and then turned in our wristband for the customized machete.

img_6830The post-race party was a blast! They had jambalaya being made while we ran, so there was delicious food to be washed down by the beer. The weather was actually really good Saturday morning and didn’t rain, as had been predicted a few days earlier. I understood why they recommend a pair of long pants for the last race. My legs were torn up a little bit and stung like crazy. Note to self: seriously, wear pants. On the plus side, I did put on a pair of knee-high compression socks that morning. Despite the fact that I thought I looked a little dorky, they were a godsend out there because the tall grass squick me out. 

Verdict: I had a great time! The Rows of Hell was truly the hardest 15 minute miles I have ever run, but it’s hard not to laugh and sing the whole way with the rest of the runners. I would totally do this race again if I find myself in Baton Rouge on race weekend. I met some great people out there and decided that I *might* need to buy a pair of trail shoes soon. Uh oh! I hear some dirt calling!img_6844

 

 

Friday Favorites: Lip Color

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OK, this is totally girly and high maintenance, but there is something about having lip color on. I don’t wear makeup pretty much ever (unless it’s a special occasion or some big business meeting that I need to attend). I’m really just a brush my hair and go kind of girl, because I like sleep and training too much to care.

img_1366But yeah, the lip color. I’ve always had to have some sort of color on my lips, even when I’m out there running. I used the Cover Girl lip stain for years because it generally would hold up for most of the workout. But as I was standing in line waiting to swim at my first triathlon this year, a girl standing next to me noticed my lip stain and asked if it was LipSense and what color it was.

I gave her this really puzzled look because I had never heard of that stuff before, but like most things I don’t know about, I just smiled and made a note to look it up later. Flash forward to the end of the race and of course I couldn’t remember a stinking thing. Whatever…

But at a road race a few months later, there was a lady at a tent selling this stuff! It was like it was karma telling me I needed this lipstick. I blindly handed over my credit card after being told it wouldn’t ever come off until I wanted it to come off. Well, we’ll see.

img_6245She was right! I am completely hooked on this stuff and have eight different colors for all of my moods. AND THE GLOSS! I have PINK.GLITTER.GLOSS. The key is to use it exactly as the directions state. One coat, wait til it dries, another coat, wait til it dries, then a third coat and wait til it dries. Then go crazy with the gloss from the same company because it locks it in.

I have worn it for open water swims of an hour and it still looks like I just put it on. I have worn it for three hour long runs and all the water stops and eating that goes along with it, and it still looks like I just put it on. I have women make comments at the end of triathlons at the finish line about how I MUST have put lipstick on before I crossed the finish line and where the heck did I carry it.

I don’t sell this stuff, and you could likely find someone local for you, but if you want a really sweet gal who is a public school teacher looking to make a little extra cash, send me a message and I’ll introduce her to you!

Favorites Friday: Running Skirts!

Whoooshhhhh…

Man, this poor little blog is a little dusty.

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Since the height of fall marathon season has kicked in here in Texas, I thought I’d start off my renewed commitment to the written word with (cue the music…) “a few of my favorite things.”

I will begin this particular post with the disclaimer that I am an Ambassador for Skirt Sports. I don’t get paid and I don’t get any sort of commission, but I get a little discount on the items I can’t live without as well as a discount for all of you in exchange for spreading the skirt love in my little world. Now that we have that out of the way…

When I first started on my journey to lose weight, oh sometime about six or seven years ago now, I began to walk. Walking turned to runs. It was pretty awesome. But I was genetically gifted with, dun dun dun…. CHUB RUB. Come on ladies, most of you don’t have that thigh gap, and YOU NOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. First it begins with the thighs that kind of catch when you’re mid-run. But then the sweat starts to give it a little lubrication, and you think you’re out of the woods. But no. About a mile later, you’ve got a little heat that has built up and (sorry men, it’s not THAT kind of heat). Before you know it, there is a little stinging involved.

imageMy options included giving up the idea of wearing shorts and just resigning myself to those running capris. But I’ve got to tell you, it’s darn hot here in Texas and humid to boot. If I could run nekkid and get away with it, I would! So I began my quest for something better. A random post all those years ago on a weight loss message board was ultimately what introduced me to the running skirt, specifically, Skirt Sports. I was promised that those skirts would change my life.

I was all about changing my life at that point, so I took a look. Back then, the selection was just a couple of styles, so it was easy for me to grab a gym girl ultra skirt and be done with it. The company promised that the little compression shorts would hold all of me in there (yeah, that was a concern at the time) and were long enough to cover all the way down to that little piece of meat on the thigh that was causing all my angst. Verdict? Well, there is a reason I ONLY run in Skirt Sports running skirts.

But enough time in the old way-back machine… let’s talk about the here and now.

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My friends are as diverse as their favorite skirts!

The skirts have come a long way and there are so so many to choose from, it’s almost dizzying. So, the big question is… what features are important to you? Coverage of the leg? Length of the shorts underneath? Adjustability of the waistband with a drawcord? Pockets to fit your iPhone or run nutrition?

When my friends ask me which skirt to buy for their first, I almost always tell them “gym girl ultra” because it’s a tried and true classic. But I scoured through the website this morning and put together this little handy-dandy table of all the features of the various skirts being currently sold in the hopes that it helps all of you decide which skirt is your soulmate…

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Oh, and as I talked about earlier, my friends get a discount on their Skirt Sports order! This code (FWS20) is good only once per customer and expires 9/30/2017 and can be used at www.skirtsports.com. We get new codes every quarter, so you can place an order every quarter with discount codes!

So, do you have a favorite style? I’ve been challenged to break out of the old comfort zone (I mean, really, I have more than 30 gym girl ultra skirts alone!) and try a different style I didn’t think I would like. I’ve bought a Happy Girl, a Jette, a Peek-A-Boo and a Mod Quad. Which one should I try next?

Limiting Language: Or How I Learned to Fly…

“I am ONLY running a half marathon this week.”

“I am JUST a beginner.”

“It’s JUST a LITTLE sprint triathlon.”

“I would love to join, BUT I probably couldn’t keep up with you guys.”

“I don’t have one of those fancy bikes.”

“Thanks, but I have so much more to lose.”

“Have I reminded you lately that I’m not fast?”

 

I have heard it a million times from my husband, gently correcting me and telling me how proud he is of me; that I am “doing fantastic.” I hear it from my guy friends that I always worry only run with me to humor me; “you’re doing great.” But something about being called out by a coach you really respect hit me like a lightning bolt. He did it so perfectly, so respectfully, but in a way that told me that he was serious and not just humoring my lack of self-confidence.

“Let’s remove that limiting language. You’re going with the flow, so just enjoy the journey and see where it takes you.”

“Limiting language.” Wow, I hadn’t heard it that way before. It’s always been “don’t be so hard on yourself.” Which, let’s be real, is code for “stop it, you’re fine, insert gratuitous comment and eye roll here.”

I’m a slow learner and it’s take a few weeks for this to sink in, but I see it everywhere now. I have observed it in almost every interaction I have had. I am constantly limiting myself by subconsciously telling myself that I’m not enough. I see it in all of my friends, too. We are always putting ourselves down in that stealthy way and we shouldn’t be. We like to think that we are telling ourselves that we are enough, but then that little demon that sits on the left shoulder whispers in our ear the complete opposite. It whispers those stupid words: ONLY, JUST, BUT.

When we limit our language, we limit what we are capable of.

Enough! I am making the commitment to stop my limiting language NOW. I am proud of what I can accomplish. I am not in competition with anyone, not even myself. I am not who I was yesterday, three months ago, or three years ago. I am choosing to live in the present and find the joy and satisfaction in doing exactly what my body, and my mind, allows today. It doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. On the contrary! But by releasing myself from the chains of “not enough,” I will build a far better foundation with which to reach those goals because I will have the confidence that I CAN.

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So my challenge to all of my girlfriends – remove your limiting language and let your truths shine on their own merit. Own it all and be joyous in what your body can accomplish today, because seriously, we are all doing truly epic stuff.

“I am running 13.1 miles this week!”

“I am so excited to learn something new!”

“I am training to swim, bike and run – all in the same race!”

“Thanks for the run, guys!”

“I am squeezing every ounce of awesomeness out of this bike!”

“Thanks for the compliment, I’m working hard!”

“Hey Coach, watch me fly…”