Quality

Wednesday’s Word: Quality

DEFINITION

  1. A peculiar and essential character (nature)
  2. And inherent feature (property)

When I first thought about the word quality, I thought of the characteristics that I admire and value in other people.

Sense of humor

Whether it’s laughing about our ninja outfits in the cold, buckets of sweat, the constantly changing weather, blisters and lack of toenails, a sidewalk face plant, our families, or whatever, laughter and gentle ribbing has made the miles much more fun. I’ve laughed so hard sometimes that it was hard to run in a straight line.

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Me clowning around after racing the Diva Half

Honesty and vulnerability

There’s something about running on a familiar path at dark o’thirty (or anytime of day) that seems to bring out the ability to share fears, thoughts, concerns, as well as accomplishments and joys. Something’s bothering us, and we can share what’s really going on, without trying to gloss over stuff.

Generosity

There have been many times when friends have pushed aside their need for speed to run with me, particularly during my first marathon. My friend, who’s much, much faster than me, decided to run with me for the entire race. I enjoyed having someone to talk to while my hands went numb from the cold rain pelting us, and he didn’t mind slowing down to my pace for the whole 26.2. Another friend, who’s also faster than me, shared a few of those miles when there was zero crowd support for about a five mile stretch in the last miles of the race. Both of those guys could have easily left me in the dust, but instead, out of their generosity, they stayed with me. I’ve done the same to run with people I don’t otherwise get to run with and it’s made the journey much more enjoyable when I’ve shared miles with a friend, old or new.

 

What qualities do you value in other runners?

Deb Runs

Houston Marathon Recap

It was an exciting weekend for me. My second marathon in five weeks, and my first big city marathon.

Saturday, I went to the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute EXPO at the Chevron Houston Marathon to pick up my race packet and, of course, check out some good deals. The atmosphere was filled with excitement, seeing all the racers.

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I got a great deal on some new Adidas Energy Boost ESM 2 shoes that I couldn’t pass up. Of course, I didn’t wear them for the race, but they’re exactly like the ones I wore for the race.

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I really enjoy seeing all the fun and funny products they have at expos. This car magnet was one of my favorites!

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Afterward, I relaxed at the hotel and tried to quiet my nerves. The view outside my room was gorgeous. IMG_0638

Race day, I woke up at 2:30 am and had a tough time getting back to sleep. Nerves! I ate a bagel and drank some tea with honey to relax and fuel up. I did some light stretching and read my Bible to get ready. The weather was going to be gorgeous. Starting out at 40 degrees, sunshine and clear, and warming up to 50s mid-race. Ideal race weather. The thing about Texas weather, I’ve learned, is that it’s very unpredictable, especially in the winter.

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I headed to the George R Brown Convention Center to meet my friends before the race. We had signed up for the Bank of Texas Team Challenge specifically for the use of the private port-a-cans before the race (and after as well). We were all thankful that there was NO line for those while the line for the regular port-a-cans was crazy long. 🙂

We left the convention center to head out for corral A and apparently didn’t leave soon enough because by the time we got there the corral closed one minute earlier. 😦

We scurried over to the next corral and made our way to the front. Not ideal for the start or my mindset, but I was trying to put that disappointment away and move on. My strategy had been to run with the 3:40 pace group, but we found our way to the 3:50 pace group, thinking I would do my best to stay ahead of them.

The race started off smoothly. The crowd support was amazing! I loved seeing all the people, interesting costumes, signs, and even musical groups along the course. Their enthusiasm was contagious. The first half of the course was very flat. I took a Huma every 40 minutes and sipped water every time we passed a water stop. One time I grabbed a cup of Gatorade. I kept up a good pace for that half. Then around mile 14, I hit my first hill of an overpass. Then, a mile later, there was an underpass that went uphill. A few other hills, but the course was really nice and went through some really pretty sections of Houston. Memorial Park was really pretty. I kept sub-8:30 for the first 16 miles, and then started to slow down a little, then slowed down a lot. The weather was ideal, but I could feel the tiredness start to get my legs. My second half was a lot slower, with my final miles in the 10s. I was ready to be done. The picture below was right after I finished. Final time: 3:55. I was happy to get sub-4 for my second and so soon after the first one.

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When I got home, the kids had gotten me flowers! They were so sweet and showered me with hugs and kisses, telling me how proud they were of me.

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The race was a lot of fun. In the future, I won’t do back to back marathons with the idea of racing both, especially around the holidays. It’s too hard on my legs, and I can’t underestimate the time it takes to recover after one. Considering that up until 2015, I SWORE I would never do a marathon and had absolutely no desire to run one much less two marathons, I’m very happy with my results. Some day, I hope to better my PR of 3:48, but for now, I’m resting and relaxing before I get back to running!

Friday Five: What I Love About Taper

It’s taper time here.

As part of the Friday Five linkup with linkup hosts Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar, my topic is favorite things about taper. I’m running the Chevron Houston Marathon this Sunday in just 2 days!!

I ran the BCS Marathon on December 13 so it’s been just a little over a month recovering from that effort, and taper has been a little different this time around because I’ve felt like I’ve been tapering for a month.

Less Mileage

After training for months for the marathon, decreasing mileage by 50% in the two weeks before the marathon seems crazy. It’s natural after hitting some 50, 60, ad 70 mile weeks and then decrease. Enter temper crazies!

Eating and Eating and Eating

There’s no excuse like the present to load up on all the rice, pasta, potatoes, and other yummy things. Don’t forget the protein! (One of my favorites: breakfast tacos–yummy!) It’s easy to feel like I will gain weight, which will negatively affect me during the race, but my coach assures me this is ok and will benefit me on race day. I’ve also been increasing the vitamin C intake to boost my immunity.

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Mental Preparation

There’s no doubt that a lot of the last few miles of the marathon were more mental than physical for me. (Keep moving, legs!) I think about the race and possible scenarios that may come up on race day. On a given day, I feel nervous, scared, worried, overwhelmed, excited, and nervous. But, I try not dwell on anything too much. Sometimes too much visualization can bog me down and can lead to worry and anxiety about every little ache and pain that crops up during this taper. I keep reminding myself to RELAX! I’ve also been spending time in prayer and meditating on Bible verses. Some of my favorite verses I thought about during BCS:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3: 1-2

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Rest

There’s nothing like catching up on some sleep and having an excuse to go to bed at a reasonable time, but also to kick up my feet now and then.

Reflect on My Training

This small training curve after BCS hasn’t gone exactly as I thought it would, but I’ve never jumped back into training right after a marathon, so I really couldn’t have too many expectations. One of my friends told me that you get to mile 20 with your training, and the last six miles you run with your heart. I think that’s true.

What are some of your favorite pre-marathon taper rituals? 

Wednesday Word: Accountable

Today’s post is brought to you by Deb at Debruns.com. Deb hosts a linkup called Wednesday Word in which she provides a writing prompt. Today’s word: accountable.

 

Deb Runs
Accountability has been so important in my fitness and health. In running, I’ve found the best way to hold myself accountable is to:
  • Set (realistic) goals.
  • Tell someone (or several people) about those goals.
  • Set smaller goals to help reach a bigger one.
  • Constantly check in with the progress and adjust as necessary.
More importantly, it helps to have a running partner or group to run with regularly. I ran by myself at dark o’thirty a LOT, and it’s so much more fun and enjoyable running with people. Plus, if I was tired, sick, cranky, (fill in the blank), I wouldn’t go. Or if it was too cold, too hot, too windy, raining, snowing, or if the stars weren’t aligned correctly (fill in the blank), it was easy to talk myself out of a run. Now that I know people will be there to meet me, I go. No excuses.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I ran 2,015 miles last year. That was an enormous goal for me, having never run more than 600 miles in a single year. It helped having a few friends also doing the same mileage challenge. We all checked in and posted our progress along the way. It helped posting my progress regularly on FB. Around the time a mileage stone would be approaching, I had friends asking, “When are you going to get X miles?” I would check in on my progress and set a smaller goal to hit it by a certain date.
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And then, I did it!
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Hope that you are not only setting some new goals for 2016 and but staying accountable to ensure that you reach them!
How do you hold yourself accountable?

Dancing in the Rain

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Another day. Another saying. Yes, this is a decorative plate. I should explain that I don’t go prowling furniture and decor stores for inspirational sayings. But, I did just happen on this little gem. And I love it!

The other night, we had a very loud storm blow through town. Rain was pelting the windows sideways. The wind was howling. The thunder was shaking the house after the lightning lit up the sky like the Fourth of July.

Storms in life come too. Sometimes more storms come, and then, when more storms come, you’re thinking, “Come on! Can’t I get a break?” And sometimes all I can think is, if there wasn’t this storm, or if I can just get past this as quickly as possible…

When storm after storm came at one point in my life, it was tough. They weren’t pleasant, but when I turned my focus to God instead of the storm, I learned to appreciate them. I was able to find happiness despite them: dancing in the rain.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1: 2-3

Six days before the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon. I felt woefully under-prepared last week for the race compared to how I felt before the BCS Marathon. My long runs have been very slow and very long. The speed workouts have been anything but speedy. The easy runs have felt hard. I wasn’t where I wanted to be mentally either. And then, after a series of bad workouts, it was hard not to get bogged down with a bad run, a bad day, a bad ache.

It was a tiny storm, but it was a storm. But, during the past week, I’ve made more efforts to focus on the Lord and think positively every time something negative pops in my head. I’m choosing to dance in the rain.

And then, we sang “Cornerstone” by Hillsong in church yesterday:

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

Yes! There’s a lot to look forward to for this race. My first race in Houston. A great group of friends from my running club running the race. Some good weather!

 

Reset

 

As the new year begins (we’re already a week into 2016!!), I always feel the need for renewal, resolutions, and refreshment (as do many people). And with good reason. After running my first marathon in December, I celebrated with abandon (another biscuit please, and yes, extra sausage gravy, with butter? Of course! Did I tell you I ran a marathon?). Ok, I wasn’t that bad…fine, maybe I was.

2015 was a great year. A LOT of miles. A lot of smiles. A LOT of races.

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A few people in my running club had signed for a virtual challenge of running 2,015 miles in 2015. The challenge could be done alone, or in partnership with one, two, or more people. I had just finished up running more than 500 miles for 2014 (most of them in about three months), so the idea of going solo seemed interesting. Gulp.

Doing the challenge alone, I calculated an average of just more than 5.5 miles per day. Not bad. Totally doable. Except for the fact I don’t run every day, and I don’t want to. Running 5 days a week is my sweet spot to avoid injury and satisfy my need for mileage. So, I needed to average just under 8 miles a day to reach the goal. Hmmm. Slightly more challenging, considering on speed days, our combined intervals don’t come close to 8 miles. Nevertheless, I signed up for the challenge. Solo. Double gulp.

I also wanted to make the miles more meaningful to keep me focused. So, I decided to try and raise $2,015 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for cancer research through Go Fund Me.

Maintaining the mileage was challenging throughout the year, particularly during hot or bad weather. But, I did it!! I finished the year with 2,200 miles and raised all of the money ($2015!!) thanks to the generosity of my family and friends and the wonderful company of my run buddies.

In the midst of logging those miles, I set new PRs in every distance I ran and even got first in age group in many of those races.

  • 5K- 22:18
  • 10K- 46:30
  • 10 miler- 1:18
  • Half marathon- 1:44
  • My first marathon with a 3:48 to cap off the end of the year

Now, it’s time to move on. Except, this was the first year I didn’t have a set of resolutions already in my head. I usually make a big deal about it in my head. Something related to fitness and or consistently writing, reading. And this year, I felt kind of aimless without them. Then I thought, I don’t need to get out the parchment scroll and hereby declare that I shall not eat Skittles after dinner (my past resolutions may or may not have included something along those lines…I’ll never tell) or anything like that. Smaller goals for the year are just as good.

  • Continue to be consistent with running: I’m still tracking my mileage to stay consistent. I have a potential for injury when I have  big increases in mileage from week to week.
  • New races and PRs: I have a slew of races already for the winter and spring. I’d like to improve on all my times. First up, 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon. So exciting! I’d like to improve on my time from last month.
  • Get a BQ: This year, I’d like to get my Boston Qualifying Time of 3:45 or better so that I can run the Boston Marathon just once. That would be awesome!
  • Get back to eating better: I’ve been cooking with a lot of greens and less cheese…ok, slightly less cheese. During the holidays, I slacked off on my daily green smoothies, and hubs and I felt the difference. I’m not one for cleanses and elimination diets because I can’t sustain that for long. I believe in exercising moderation when it comes to my diet. Green smoothies are a great post-run recovery drink and an excellent way to replenish electrolytes and vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s delicious!

I’m joining the Friday Five linkup started by three great bloggers: Cynthia of You Signed Up for What?!, Mar of Mar on the Run, and  Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC. Today’s topic is food and drink. I’m going to share my recipe for a delicious green smoothie. The best thing about this recipe is adjusting as needed to what’s in season and what’s at hand. You can use any fruit you have. I like using fresh rather than frozen, if possible.

  • Ingredients:
    • 8 oz. coconut water (you can use coconut milk or almond milk but coconut water agrees with me better and has less calories and no fat compared to coconut milk, no carageenan or other preservatives and all the potassium, magnesium and sodium runners need)
    • 4 oz. mango juice (you can sub any juice you wish)
    • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (sub apples, bananas, pears, etc.)
    • 1 cup fresh mango
    • 2 cups baby kale and spinach (you can sub collard greens, swiss chard, beet greens, etc.)
    • Sometimes we add a cup of nonfat unflavored Greek yogurt for added protein and calcium.
  • Blend until smooth and enjoy!

 

A Single Step

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lao Tzu

A couple of months ago I stumbled upon a wall decoration saying “Embrace the Journey” that resonated with me.

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A resounding yes! I stopped. Backed up and stared at it.

That phrase represented my running, but in many other areas of my life, I’ve found that it’s better for me to be aware of process while I’m dealing with something (particularly when it’s challenging or upsetting). It’s not helpful for me to lament and dwell on a particular “bad” event that happens. And I’ve done that a lot in the past.

There’s a reason for that. Embracing the journey is about appreciating all the aspects of the journey, the ebullient highs and the inevitable lows, that abound with each step.

So, I’m taking a step. A step toward another run. Another day. Another journey.