Sunday, May 22, 2016

Century Run in the Sun

"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must;
just never give up." -- Dean Karnazes

I stumbled upon the Instagram account of a girl who was starting to run shortly after I registered for the Star Wars Half last summer. To keep her motivated, she committed to a challenge she called "100 Miles of Running" for the summer. It was inspiring to watch - I had recently decided to take up running again myself, but was struggling with consistency. She ran over 100 miles last year, while I just hit the 90 mile mark by the end of what she called summer.

That was last year. I racked up well over 150 miles during December and January alone, and have run roughly that in the 3 months since my half marathon (kinda pathetic, I know, but I'm getting back at it slowly). A back and neck injury this week, combined with a crazy work schedule, led to a flirtation with apathy that I would really like to reverse. I started off the month of May strong - committed to my diet, and greatly committed to my workout routine. Post-Tinkerbell, I still did ok. Sure, I had a few slips, but I basically stuck to my diet and did 90% of my scheduled workouts. I started this week out better... but found myself eating popcorn and staying inside almost all day on Friday. This is a slippery slope for a girl who named her blog "Occasionally Fit," so I'm going to do my best to reverse this course of inaction.

Enter... 100 miles of summer! Yes, I've decided to join my Instagram friend, Jenn, and have committed to do 100 miles of running this summer. Now, if I actually stick to the running plan tacked up in my cubicle at work, I should far exceed this 100 mile number. But 100 miles seems like a good goal for two months, so I figure I'll see how it goes. Yes... this is only for 2 months. I have decided that "summer" is not the season in the calendar sense; rather, I am making my "summer" start on June 1st and run through the end of July. Why those dates? Well, most people I know consider Memorial Day weekend the beginning of summer, but I like to start on the 1st so I figured June 1st would work as well as any. I'm targeting to complete this through the end of July because 3+ months gives me too much leeway to be lazy... and ain't nobody got time for dat!

For those of you who follow Natasha and my adventures on Facebook, I'll be setting up an event for those interested in playing or following along (you can join here). You don't have to be a runner to participate - you can walk, skip, or bike to get your miles. This is more for me than anything else, but I'd love to see everyone else get committed to a fit summer too. Hope you'll join me!

Until next time, my friends...

--- Becky

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." -- John Bingham

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pixie Dust

"You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming?
That's where I'll always love you... That's where I'll be waiting." -- Tinkerbell

I used to be able to work out without the need to prove something. I could just go to the gym, or go for a run, for me... not for any other reason. I lost that at some point last year, and I don't quite know how to get it back. Last fall, I used my then-upcoming Star Wars Half Marathon as motivation to keep me moving. I made a running schedule, and I kept it for the most part. I didn't, however, keep up with my weight/strength training. I missed it, and I wanted to get back to it desperately.

Enter 2016... My first two races were back to back in January, and I used the successful completion of the last as an excuse to "take a break" for a while. Note to self: Becky does not know how to take a break. Much like work, love, and everything in between, Becky is an all or nothing person. Becky can't take a break! Becky's gotta keep with it, or fail miserably!

So... I signed up for a personal trainer, picked up a couple of 5Ks, and decided to get after it. My results were pretty dismal in February, but I started to get back in the swing of things in late March with the Mission Possible 5K. 

The Mission Possible Trail Run was beautiful!

This Mission Possible 5K run benefits a local non-profit benefitting the homeless, a cause near and dear to my heart. When I saw that the run was more of a trail run than a typical road race, I thought it would be fun to tackle. It was fun... but it was also much harder than I planned. 

Post-Super Hero Race (It was a 5K - I swear!)

About a week after I signed up for the Mission race, I received an email from my company offering to cover up to 20 registrations for a race benefitting CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). I had heard of the Super Hero Run in the past, but was always afraid that I couldn't do it (this was WAY before I started training for the Star Wars Half). While I hadn't been maintaining my runs with any consistency since my races in January, I decided to give this one a whirl with several friends and colleagues. The race was great! I mostly walked it, but still finished with a respectable time. (Note that despite what my picture above reflects, this was another 5K race. I forgot to start my app until a good half-mile into the race.)

These races were a lot of fun, but they also were a stark reminder of how much I had let my training lag. A 5K would have been a breeze at the height of my training last fall. Both of these 5Ks, however, were a bit tiring. I hardly ran in either race, and had to ice my knees after both. I was continuing to go to my personal trainer, but even had slipped on that recently. I had the Tinkerbell 10K run coming up! I needed to refocus!

The Monday after my Super Hero Run, I decided to take charge of my training. I created a new running matrix, and posted it prominently at my desk at work (my coworker, Joe, will always ask me how my run went when he sees this - not wanting to lie, it forces me to do the run so I can tell him about it). I asked my personal trainer for copies of our previous workouts, and started incorporating the exercises into my regular home and gym routines. About a week before the Tinkerbell 10K, I also finally caved and committed to really doing the Whole30 with Natasha (I talked about all of this in more detail in my last blog post - you can read that here). You can't work your way out of a poor diet!

The Tinkerbell Race Carpet

The big weekend finally arrived last weekend - Tinkerbell 10K weekend for Shika and me, and Pixie Dust Challenge weekend for our friend, Maggie! When I signed up for this race last fall, the thought of doing the half marathon seemed daunting and I was really worried about finishing the 10K. My recent running performance only reignited these fears, and I spent the week leading up to the race a little worried that I couldn't do it. The excitement of the Expo helped, but I still went to bed the night before the race a little worried that I would not be proud of my performance.

I took this picture fully thinking that I would be deleting it...

The night before the race was r-o-u-g-h. I didn't sleep well the night before that, and I spent the entire night before the race tossing and turning due to loud neighbors at our hotel. I didn't eat well on Friday, and woke up not willing to eat before the race. And this was before I walked out into the pouring rain!

Soaking wet and waiting for the race to start in my race corral.

Ah, yes, my friends. And rain it did! We were expecting a light drizzle, but woke up to a downpour! Let me tell ya - it was so much fun to walk over a mile to the start line when we were soaking wet! My hoodie weighed about a million pounds by the time we got to the corrals. Shika and I made a game time decision, and decided to check our jackets before the race. 

The incredibly full corrals lined up to get on their mark at the starting line.

Like the Star Wars Half, the Tinkerbell starting line was uneventful. The races once again began without much fanfare, although I did hear the Star Spangled Banner being sung this time. I was standing near a few runDisney first timers, and they were as disappointed as I was with how these races start. The actual starting line was adorably decorated, but we couldn't see it until we were right on top of it. 

I thought they said rum too! I want a refund! 

Maggie and Shika were in different corrals than I was, which meant I was once again running alone. Shika planned to catch up to me, and she did around mile 2. The first mile was predictably my hardest, and it also included two "hills," aka overpasses. My knee was killing me after the 2nd hill, so I was grateful when we turned towards the park. I spotted the one and only sign from the entire 10K at this point (pictured above). Boy, what a sight for sore eyes! Unlike the Star Wars Half, this race was sorely lacking support of any kind. I wish I would have done the Half to see the difference, but if it was anything like this, I think I would have been disappointed.

Shika and me at the finish line - just before we grabbed our medals, snacks, and Powerade!

I was so glad that my fast friend Shika was able to catch up with me and do the last 3.5+ miles with me. It was a totally different experience running with someone who was willing to match my pace. It was also good girl-time! When your closest girl friends live hours away from you, you take every chance you can get to catch up with them! We finished our race just under our expected times - not a great time, mind you, but better than either of us expected! Maggie finished impressively as per usual, and finished her half marathon the following morning. 

Tinkerbell 10K and Pixie Dust Challenge Finishers!

Maggie ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon the next morning with another friend. Shika and I slept in as long as we could, finally trudging over to Disneyland around 7am to watch Maggie at the finish line. Maggie is among the group of runners who finishes in less than 10 minutes/mile. Let me tell ya - those are a vastly different class of runners. It was impressive to watch each of them run by - they made it look so easy! Shortly after Maggie finished, the three of us reunited at the Tinkerbell stage to take one final picture. 

The runs leading up to the Tinkerbell 10K and the Tinkerbell 10K itself helped remind me why I started running again. It's not because I want to lose weight (because, quite frankly, I don't), and it's not because I want to start collecting medals (although they are really pretty!). I run because of how it makes me feel, and it makes me feel very happy! Strength training has the same effect. I wish I could remind myself of how good it feels to work out on those days I get lazy and skip it. Le sigh. 

I officially have less than 6 months until my 10K/Half Marathon races (Lumiere's Challenge) at Walt Disney World, and I cannot wait! I have friends from Denver and Houston meeting me there, and my friend Eugene will hopefully be able to stay with us for the weekend too! All this excitement aside, I know I have some work to do! Luckily, I have friends that read this blog (well, one friend in particular) and friends like Shika and others that will be encouraging me while I train. Alas, I now must hit the hay. I have to be up at 5 to meet friends to walk our dogs, and it's already past midnight! Have a great weekend!



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fear of Falling Isn't Fear Enough

"I hate the point where you have to get off the ladder, or get back on. I don't know if that's a fear of heights, or literally a fear of falling. I want to be afraid to fall. That seems like a good fear." -- Chuck Klosterman

Hi friends. I know I've been slacking, but it's been a tumultuous couple of weeks (to say the least). I won't get into all that on this blog - those of you who know me best know exactly what has been going on in my life, and I appreciate you for being there for me more than you know. Alas, I figured I better blog now or this little blog of ours is surely to just die. 

So.. about that whole "Whole30" thing. I totally failed. I lasted about a day before I gave up, citing work stress and vacation as excuses for why I couldn't do it. I suck, and I know it. I have been watching everyone else's posts and progress on the FB group, however, and I gotta say - I'm impressed! So impressed, in fact, that I spent all of today buying food and doing food prep so I can stick to that this week. I'm still only going to do it for 2 meals/day (I can't give up my greek yogurt breakfasts), but that's better than nothing! Wish me luck!

In other news, my vacation (staycation) proved to be very busy and very active! Eugene and I racked up an impressive 20,000 steps over the course of 13 hours on his first day in LA, and we spent the following day hiking in two counties! (Side Note: The weekend he visited was National Park Week, which meant free admission to all National Parks. I really wanted to do a park, but we didn't have time to fit it in with everything else. Le sigh - I hope I can talk someone in to going to Yosemite for the day with me soon!)

I can't remember if I mentioned it, but I recently joined and became an admin for a group called "Girls Who Hike LA." It's a group of over 1,400 women in Southern California that enjoy hiking as much as I do. The founder schedules hikes nearly every month, but other girls schedule impromptu hikes now and then too. One of the hikes I was dying to do was a hike the group recently did to Paradise Falls. (I missed it because I had promised to hike Wind Wolves the same weekend.) Paradise Falls is one of many hiking destinations within the Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, CA. The hike is rated by experts from easy to moderate... I think it really depends on which path you take to get there and return. We chose the shortest route (measured at around 2.5 miles), and the only hard part was the 250' climb back up after hiking down. 

The trails at Wildwood Regional Park were very active while we were there - several hikers had their dogs and/or babies (in strollers) with them. I think quite a few regretted those strollers on the way back up :) The falls themselves are pretty but small - I heard they were fantastic a few weeks prior when we had a good deal of rain, but they were still pretty steady when we were there. Eugene and I enjoyed it and thought it was a good workout after breakfast - just enough to get you sweating without making either of us sore later on. 

Later that same day, Eugene and I made our way northwest to Sequoia National Forest. Eugene had his heart set on seeing "the big trees;" alas, the roads to the Trail of 100 Giants was still closed for the season. As somewhat of a compromise, I offered to take him through Kern Canyon for a short hike in the Sequoias. It was absolutely beautiful. We got there just in time for the "golden hour" before sunset, and the temperature was cool and crisp. 

Our hiking adventures left us famished, and we ended the day with burritos from my favorite burrito joint. It was really nice to bring Eugene on a couple of hikes with me, even if they were small ones. Hiking is, and always has been, one of my favorite things to do - I'm lucky to have people in my life that like to do it with me! As with most things, hiking is always more fun with friends :) And it doesn't feel like working out if you're gossiping while you're doing it! Ha!

Since Eugene left, I've been trying to keep to my running schedule. I can't believe how much I have fallen off that wagon. I was averaging 100 miles/month from October through January (we won't talk about February or March...). Next week is my Tinkerbell 10K race, so I knew I needed to up the ante a bit this weekend. I have a bit more free time these days, so I figured why not use it? On Saturday, I did a quick and dirty 5K... Quick because I'm lazy, and dirty because I was sweaty as hell! I never sweat, so I'm going to blame it on the humidity. It wasn't a fun 3 miles. My feet had been hurting, so I stupidly thought adding another insole would make it more cushiony (is that a word?). I was totally wrong - it made my feet feel like bricks, and hurt even more! After the first mile, I sat down, tore those friggin' things out, and went about my run. It made a world of difference - miles 2 and 3 flew by!

I had planned to get a 6+ mile run in today, but that didn't happen. I decided to meet a friend at 6am to walk our dogs - I thought it would be a good warmup since my first mile always sucks anyway. I was wrong - after our walk, I brought my dog home and promptly fell asleep on the couch. D'oh! When I woke up at 7:30, I panicked. I thought I had plans to attend to later today, and didn't think I could still squeeze in a full 6 or 7 mile run. So... I decided to squeeze in what I could so I would at least get some running in today. I was able to get just over 5 miles done. It was a better run than yesterday, so that was good. But I still worry I am vastly underprepared for my upcoming race. 

Distance running is so weird. My body argues with me the whole time. Do any of you have this problem? 

Mile 1: "I hate you. I hate running. We aren't doing this. Just stop." 

Mile 2: "Ugh, you aren't listening to me. I guess we will do this. Don't your feet hurt? Yeah, they do. Let's stop and get ice cream instead."

Mile 3: "I guess we are doing this, aren't we? Why can't you just bike like a normal person? Ok. Let's do this."

Mile 4: "Feet? You there? Oh, you're numb. Got it."

Mile 5: "We can do this. We are doing this. Look at you, legs! Lungs, don't fail us now!"

Earlier this year, I decided that the 10K is my favorite distance. The 5K is too short - my body just complains the whole time, so I'm super slow. I start hitting my stride around mile 4, and can usually carry myself through to the last 2+ miles on euphoria alone. After mile 8 (in a half marathon), however, my body starts to negotiate with me again. It becomes a mental game - Can we do this? Should we do this? How badly do we want to do this? I don't remember having these conversations with myself when I ran when I was younger. Ugh... why do we have to get old?

Well, off to bed. I have my food prepped, my training scheduled, and my bed made (wait... crap... no, it's not... off to make my bed!). 

Have a great week, y'all! Onward and upward!