#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…

img_0920

Advertisements

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

 

 

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.

*****

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…”

 

An Unexpected Twist of Events…

My sister is a runner.

I’m going to let that sink in there for a moment.

My. Sister. Is. A runner.

My sister has never been athletic. In school she would struggle to run even one lap in PE class. She never played any sports. We figured out why a few years ago. In her early thirties, she had to have open-heart surgery to correct some pretty nasty heart defects she was born with that went undiagnosed FOR-EV-ER. And while her cardiologist has encouraged her to exercise now, it’s never something she had any experience with. After she was cleared by her doctor a couple of years ago, I pushed her into joining me in my running. Christmas and birthday gifts were cute running skirts and her membership and training paid for.

I was such a newbie runner. I thought I could change the world if I just got everyone I knew to run.

I learned (not so quickly) that I couldn’t run those races for anyone but me. I couldn’t want health for someone more than they wanted it themselves.

So, I gave up. I decided that I wouldn’t ask anyone again to come join me in a run. I decided to just run.

goofy erinOK, I am an unapologetic, obnoxious post-workout selfie machine. I don’t compose them or do some strange pose, but I have been guilty of a 5 am post to scream “GOOD MORNING?” to my friends. Mostly I do it because my life is pretty boring otherwise and because I can’t stand all the negative stuff on social media. So I fill it with my goofy photos, my exhausted photos, my “ I seriously need to find better hair products because there is no way hair is supposed to look that crazy” photos. People are welcome to like, comment, unfollow or unfriend me as they see fit.

But something magical happened. My sister, who doesn’t exercise, quietly signed up to walk a 5K with a friend from work. And then she did it again. And again. And apparently she began to have fun.

And then one night at our family dinner, I mentioned that I had won an auction for a weekend in New Orleans with entries to the Crescent City Classic 10K and somehow, I don’t know, it just happened… I asked if she wanted to go do it too. “But I only walk,” she said. “That’s ok, I hear it’s just a six mile parade of drunks unless you’re an elite, anyway,” I said.

So, we’re heading to NOLA for beignets and a 10K!

erin and erica 3But fast forward to a random club race in January, my daughter was going to do the 5K. Erica said she would stay close to her and I cautioned Emma Grace on running too fast and not letting Auntie Erica keep her in sight. By some miracle, Erica managed to generally keep up with Emma Grace. But this crazy seven year old showed my sister that it was possible to run just a little bit and walk when tired and cross the finish line faster than she had before.

erin and erica 1

Six weeks later, my sister is officially a bad ass. She has more determination than ever that she will run-walk her way to the finish line of the 10K. A little birdie may have suggested that she was eyeing a (gasp!) half marathon.

.

While I was running, I thought no one was watching.

But apparently they were, because my sister is a runner.

inspire

 

A new year…

Tap, tap, tap… Is this thing on?

Hey! Long time, no chat!

I stepped away for a bit from blogging to focus on some goals last fall. I had a sort of abysmal spring last year as far as racing was concerned. I struggled to meet any of my goals, but not because I wasn’t fit enough. I think it was all between the ears. So, I really buckled down, got a trainer for some strength training and began to work on the mental side of distance running. I took the pressure off of myself a little bit and didn’t train for a specific finish time at the marathon. Instead, my goals were a little more success driven.

  • Push my wall. The last marathon I literally sat on the curb at mile 19 ½ and cried. I almost DNF’d. I hated every stupid step of the last 6 plus miles I walked to finally make it to the finish line. I didn’t feel empowered when I crossed the finish line. I felt like I needed a do-over. So many things went wrong with that race, it was just a joke. The only positive I can take from my 2014 marathon was that I didn’t quit. I figure, if I can make my wall show up anywhere in the 20’s, I would automatically PR because I would shave 10 minutes off from the “sit on a curb and cry” pace.
  • Don’t go out too fast. I am notorious for this foolishness. I get so caught up in the start line frenzy, I don’t show any sort of discipline. I think that if I start off fast and bank time, it will be a good thing. Not really, what happens is the whole race falls apart! My new goal was to show discipline and ignore those around me going faster than me and just run my race.
  • Don’t give up. I have given up on so many things in life and I was tired of it. I shorted workouts if it was too hot, too humid, wasn’t feeling it, it was hard, if a friend wasn’t feeling it. NO MORE. I would do all the workouts and prove to myself that I was tough. That way, when it got tough in the race, I could dig from that experience.

So, how did it go? It was miles different and learned a lot about myself in the process. I had a great time at the Dallas Marathon this past year and I met all of my goals. In the process, I even managed a PR. I am contemplating a race recap, since I’ve had about a month to digest it all, but I am back and will dust this poor little blog off in an attempt to keep my mind off my oldest son getting ready to graduate high school and head to college in the fall. There may be a lot of running involved. 😉

Medal Monday: Drake Hy-Vee Half Marathon Race Recap

Race ready!This weekend I found myself running a third half marathon in a fifteen day stretch. My biggest concern was being able to end the third race injury free. It’s no secret that I don’t do anything in moderation and have found myself sidelined on a few occasions because of it. The body part I hear the loudest is usually my calves.

The race this weekend was the Drake Relays Hy-Vee Half Marathon in Des Moines, Iowa. It is held in conjunction with the Drake Relays (the 106th this year!) on the famous blue oval track. This was never any sort of bucket list race and I had frankly never heard of it before a few months ago. However, I was in town for the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) National Convention and this was the race the convention paired up with. Side note: More to come on my adventures at the convention – I learned so much!!

So, I believe there was a small expo before the race, but as a conference attendee, there was a volunteer that brought our packets directly to us. This was a sweet perk in light of the icky, cold rain Des Moines decided to bring on Saturday. The race bag included my bib, a drawstring bag to be used for bag check, a long sleeve tech shirt and a few small goodies. Nothing big, but I’ve certainly received less for a race. The only bummer about the shirt is that it was unisex sizing. I’m usually a small in that case, but it was still too big and they ran out of extra smalls. Ha ha ha! That’s awesome that my name and extra small were in the same sentence. Seriously, a big boost to the ego!

imageThe morning of the race, my travel and running buddy for the weekend ditched me for the 10K. It was apparently a great night after the dinner Saturday night! I decided to wear my regular long-run shoes for the race rather than my new Cloudracers. They are a lot lighter, but I second guessed how I would feel at race time and erred on the side of “I could be out here a while.” Let me just begin by saying I am a complete baby in the cold weather. And by cold weather I mean anything under 50 degrees. Really. Run tights in the 40s. However, I didn’t remember to bring them to Des Moines because it was nearly 85 in Dallas. (I am seriously proud of the packing job…) So, I sucked it up and put on my adorable new purple polka-dot running skirt and two layers of tops. It was a little chilly, but I figured I would warm up – I totally felt like a real runner with so little clothing on!!
imageAs the race was beginning, I ran into a couple of girls that also attended the convention and I had run with them on the social run two days earlier. We began chatting and I made the decision to stay with them rather than push ahead for a PR I’ve been chasing for two years. Almost immediately I noticed that there was no back of the pack. Really. We went out with the 2:45 pacer and there were only a few of us. This didn’t look good. Maybe I should have downgraded back to the 10K???
The course was really pretty. We ran by the river and over a couple of That's a really big shovel!bridges, though a park, around some amazing buildings and through a large sculpture garden. I just had to stop and take pictures a few times. Although the water stops were small, they were well-run and well-stocked. There were even a few musicians along the course playing for us. Add in a couple of hills and you had yourself a race. The most notorious hill was about mile 11ish – Bulldog Hill.  Everyone kept warning us of this hill. When I finally got there, yep, I didn’t really need a sign to let me know I was there. This thing was STEEP! Like, steep Welcome to Bulldog Hill is right...enough to probably be a good idea to set your parking brake on your car; maybe half to three quarters of a mile in length, just enough to be a real pain. I stopped for a second to take a photo of the signs and began to hear the Drake drum line. I will tell you that I LOVE drum lines. I don’t know why, but it’s just awesome to hear and feel that beat. I closed my eyes and smiled. I remembered everything I had been taught about powering up a hill and I went for it, matching my cadence with the drum line. IT WAS GLORIOUS. I totally had to stop What hill? Hahaha!and catch my breath when I got to the top and a nice spectator was more than happy to take my photo after I gave a high five to one of the drummers. My pace was actually faster up that hill
than it had been the entire race. The final mile was a hot mess. The small group of us still running had to ask several times where the next turn was and if we were still on the course. There were just a ton of people milling about and not enough course monitors. We finally made it to the entrance of the famous blue oval track and it was so cool! The stands were filled in anticipation of the elites that would finish the 5K about 10 minutes later (and had just started the race as we were trying to find the entrance to the track). It was definitely a highlight to be able to run on the very track in which world records were broken on two days earlier. Many of the greatest track runners have run this track. If we are really lucky, my son will have an opportunity to run there in the next several years while in college. It was imagereally an amazing location for a finish. I made it through for my medal and a bottle of water and then kept going along the track to the other side where the post-race tents were set up outside of the stadium.

It’s important to remember that I said the stadium was full at this point. I must not have been fully paying attention to where my feet were going because I ended up tripping on a large metal bar that I think was part of the high jump apparatus that was dismantled. “Ass over teakettle” tripped – I flew. I was MORTIFIED. The sound of the metal rattling on the ground was loud enough that a few people stopped to help. All I could do was laugh it off and pretend it didn’t hurt, but it really hurt. I’m still crying. I landed on my hip and the inhaler that was in my skirt pocket punctured the skin in my leg. I was bleeding and hurting and so darn embarrassed. My only hope is that no one caught a I'm actually on the track!!!photo of that perfect-ten. Determined to high tail it out of the stadium as quickly as possible, I ran to grab a cookie from the food tent and then made sure my speedy friends that were waiting for me weren’t in the stadium when I fell.
Overall, this was a great race! I made some wonderful new friends, shared my love of all things Skirt Sports, took lots of photos and almost ended the race injury free. For speedier runners, I would definitely recommend this race. For those of us in the back of the pack (2:30+ finishers), I would say bring some friends.

Medal Monday: Big D Half Marathon

Big D Half Marathon - DONE!I think I might have lost my mind. I’m not sure what happened that I find myself looking at April with a little apprehension. I signed up with Marcy to run the Diva Half Marathon in Galveston on April 19th. This would be our goal race. But I am also going to Des Moines, Iowa for the National RRCA Convention the weekend of the 25th and there is a race. Knowing that it would be a week after my goal race, I smartly signed up for the 10K. Safe, right? But then my fellow board members of DRC talked me into upgrading to the half (It will be slow! We will have fun! – famous last words before I always seem to pull that trigger… hahaha). So imagine my surprise when I get asked to then also pace the Big D Half Marathon…the week before Galveston. I didn’t want to run. In fact, I had the perfect spot picked out to go cheer everyone on at! But here I am, running Big D.

Pretty cool that even my boy got to pace this morning!

Pretty cool that even my boy got to pace this morning!

The Big D Half and Full Marathon has been run for a number of years and this year they changed up the course, promising a flat course for your fastest half marathon finish. In Dallas, that’s usually code for “this is gonna suck, we’ve found every elevation change we could and shoved it all into this awesome course.” True to form, there was no elevation map included with the course map online. However, a quick perusal of the streets, I knew it wasn’t flat. I’ve run West Shore before. Seriously. After my calves nearly blew up on the Rock n Roll Dallas course, I started to dread the race. I know what my legs are capable of and no amount of training or running slower or faster or ingesting various forms of electrolytes or water is going to change that my legs and I have a love-hate relationship. My kidney’s decision to sometimes not function on all cylinders typically causes most of my angst. It’s certainly a delicate balancing act of water, salt and other electrolytes to keep from cramping up because of the toxin build-up inside my pesky kidney.

Best Pace Sister EVAHH!!Determined to make this a great race, Marcy and I grabbed our blue running skirts (Skirt Sports, of course!) and our orange flowers. The orange flower from FellowFlowers.com represents runners “fiercely united.” It’s one of my favorite flowers to wear when I am with my running friends. Marcy and I set out doing 2:1 intervals. We were pacing the 2:50 finish group and this interval made the most sense. Within a quarter of a mile, we had been asked by people running near us about the intervals and asked if they could join us. The answer is always “of course!” Pacing a race is hard because you HAVE to have a great race. You can’t be the one to fall apart because runners who paid to run are counting on you to help them reach their goals. But, pacing a race is also one of the most rewarding things I do. That pace stick breaks down barriers, pulls headphones out of ears, and lets you meet the most amazing athletes. Every walk of life can be found out on a course, all running for various reasons, all with great stories of obstacles overcome.

The nitty gritty of the race: this was hilly! OK, not San Francisco-hilly, but for imageDallas, there were some inclines! Training with Dallas Running Club, we run those hills every weekend. If I was running by myself, I would likely skip those streets and only run on flat land. But that wouldn’t make me a better, faster or stronger runner, so I could do the hills, but I certainly felt inclined to complain a little under my breath as we approached each one. The day was exceptionally humid. In the end, this was the deciding factor for a whole lot of runners Sunday morning. The higher than expected temperature with 85% humidity was like running through pea soup. The water stops were spaced really weird. We would go almost three miles with no water then hit two stops in less than one mile. Stuff like that is why I ALWAYS carry my own water. That and the pesky kidney. Every water stop, I grabbed water, took a sip or two and then dumped the rest of it on my neck to try to keep cool. I really struggled with cooling myself off during the race and looking back at my Garmin, my heart rate was really high too… curiouser and curiouser.

imageAs Marcy and I approached mile 7, we got a text from my hubby who was pacing a much faster group. The humidity caught up with him and he had gotten sick on the course. He was unable to keep going at his pace (that’s why we have two pacers for each time – anything can happen on race morning). Marcy and I told him to just walk and we would catch up with him. He could finish with us. Ironically, he has never finished a half with me (he’s speedy, even if he is having an “off” race). We picked him up about mile 9. Marcy and I were really happy that everyone who wanted to run with the group was still with us and doing really well. We tried to pass the time with some jokes and I called out the miles with elapsed time as we got there.

We had just passed mile 12 when a girl collapsed to her knees right in front of us. She had been in front of us the whole race and she looked really strong, so the three of us immediately ran over to help. Her leg was cramping up and she was crying. It had locked up and she couldn’t move her foot and the cramping was so bad it was beginning to radiate to her hamstring and quad. I knew exactly what the cramping was like and hoped I could help her get it to subside, but it would take a minute. We agreed that Marcy would get the stick and the others across the finish line at the goal time and Sean and I would stay back with the injured runner. Thank goodness, the final water stop of the course was just ahead. We worked the cramp back a little and I ran ahead to get her water and Gatorade. She said she didn’t have any more energy gels left. Quick thinking prevailed. As a pacer, I always carry extra pretzels and jelly beans in a pouch for anyone that needs them. I knew she needed salt, so I offered her the pretzels, which she thankfully took. They quickly helped and she wanted to try to run it in. Sean and I assured her we would not leave her side until she crossed the finish line to her family.

Marcy, Sean and I with Elizabeth. She is truly an inspiration!

Marcy, Sean and I with Elizabeth. She is truly an inspiration!

We learned that her name was Elizabeth and this was her first half in five years. Sean told every story he could think of to take her mind off of any pain she might have been experiencing and gave her tips on running form and we invited her to come run with us at DRC. The best part was seeing the kick she had left in her as she saw that finish line. I could almost not keep up. As we crossed the mat, I grabbed a medal from a volunteer and put it on her neck. Elizabeth hugged me tight and just started to cry. She whispered that she hadn’t run a half in five years because she was looking for a kidney in that time and had just had a kidney transplant. Everything began to make sense and I told her I understood more than she knew. I was so proud of her and what she had accomplished. Marcy met the three of us at the finish line for pictures and we got to meet Elizabeth’s husband. The orange flower made so much sense at that moment. My orange flower was my declaration that we were there for all the runners out there that needed a boost, a little laugh, a few pretzels, or someone to just help you across the finish line. I was reminded that every day I get to run is a good day. Everything happens for a reason and I am now certain that I was meant to pace and be there to meet Elizabeth.

Seriously, the blog is called The Cupcake Mile. How does one not add the cupcake-after-the-race pic? ;)

Seriously, the blog is called The Cupcake Mile. How does one not add the cupcake-after-the-race pic? 😉