Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: what a year.

It is difficult to make concrete goals for 2014 since we don't really know what is going on. A little over a month ago, my husband was notified that his officer training schedule had been changed- but to when we don't know. There's not much worse than waiting to find out how long you' have to wait.
With that in mind, my biggest goal for the year is to take it all in stride. To be a duck and let the bad roll off my back. To be a tumbleweed and go where the winds take me. To adapt as necessary. To smile.
(With a guy like this, it's hard not to smile)

2013 brought me some massive PRs. From 5k to 50k, I PR'd. 
5k 23:48 (1:27 faster!)
10k 50:42
15k 1:20:40
13.1 1:57:04
26.2 4:36:50
50k 6:58:23 (thank goodness the first is alway a PR)

I feel proud of this accomplishments, especially since they all came after surgery in June- proof that six weeks off won't wreck your year (despite my fears). I also love the progression I made over the last 12 months- 4 separate 5k PRs leading up to the current best, and each marathon I ran was faster than the last- 5:12:xx to 4:51:54 to 4:36:50. Hard work pays off, ladies and gents. I even earned my Marathon Maniac status, and if that's not hardworking, I don't know what is! Maniac #7978 can't wait for another 26.2 when I revisit Circular Logic in March.

To sum up 2013 in a few key words: unpredictable, roller coaster! amazing, frustrating, but still pretty darn good. I came out on top every time things got rough. I have faith that we will come out on top again once we find out when my husband heads off. Everything happens for a reason.

I hope 2014 has fewer surgeries, more smiles, less frustration and more forward progress. My theme for the year, both in running and the rest of life: take it all in stride.

Happy New Year, y'all. Let's make 2014 amazing. Let's make it fabulous. Let's be the best versions of ourselves. Let's be grateful. Let's be optimistic. And let's have FUN!!!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I came. I ran. I finished. 6:58:xx. I almost quit because my back was in agony, but a fellow runner shared some Motrin. He's my hero. As is Too Tall Fritz, for putting up with me. We were symbiotic runners- she helped me when I struggled; I helped her when she struggled. Thank goodness we never struggled at the same time! Now, the pictures...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Make your own luck

When I woke up this morning, it was 4 degrees outside with a feels like temperature of -10! 
That's a big fat can of NOPE when it comes to leaving the house for me!
I made a unicorn, and my aunt named her Lucky. This is what I do when it's cold outside.
Earlier this week, I made this hat because I get headaches is the aforementioned cold air.
By this afternoon, it had warmed enough for me to brave the cold and head to the gym for what turned out to be an awesome circuit. I wish you had been there; it was that fun/challenging/empowering. I love finishing a workout like that!
But now, Lucky and I are under a blanket on the couch, waiting for spring. My hands hurt from being so cold (hence the reason I knit myself a new pair of fingerless gloves every year- I never seem to have enough).
How is the weather in your area?

Friday, December 6, 2013

My favorite things!

I know, I know, I've been MIA. Life has been... well, life. Ups, downs, all arounds!

But, regardless, Christmas is approaching faster than a 5K PR. I love reading other people's favorites, gift lists, etc. So I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things- the kind that would ALWAYS make me happy if they made their way under the tree! And, since I'm completely UNAFFILIATED and NOT SPONSORED BY ANYONE, you can trust that these are simply my own opinions.

1. Pro compression socks

 See those socks?
 And these?
Yeah, I almost always wear Pro Compression socks when I run halves and fulls.

I even had then on under these grey tights:
Which lead to the next favorite:

2. Tough Chik clothing! As seen with the sweatshirt above. I love that thing, and have been wearing it the past 2 days during the cold snap. It's in the wash, or I'd be wearing it again!
I'm proud to be a member of Team Tough Chik, too. Go check it out, and be on the look out for next year's sign up in the fall.

3. Sparkly Soul Headbands

I only own one of these (until the mail lady gets here with the 2 I ordered on Black Friday!!!!), but I wear it ALL.THE.TIME. Teaching yoga, or at the outdoor shooting range,
 or on a random trip to the botanical gardens.
I love it. I would own more if there were any stores nearby that carried them! In a perfect world, the complete collection would be waiting for me under the tree. But, since some people might find that excessive, I'm anxiously awaiting the 2 I ordered already.

4. Sparkle skirts!!!
I know there are several brands of sparkly skirts, but Sparkle Athletic is my favorite. My first skirt survived a couple 5ks, a Spartan Sprint, and a Tough Mudder before it had to be retired. This red one helped me sparkle my way to a 5K PR this fall. Sparkle=speed!

5. The mythical perfect running shoes.....

I'd love to have a link to my favorite, but each time I find a favorite, I'll-love-this-brand-forever shoe, they change it and it no longer works for me (I'm talking to you, Saucony Kinvara, and you, Mizuno Ronin, and you, Brooks Pure-everything). I love a minimal/natural shoe but with a little cushion since i run mostly on roads. So, until I find a new "perfect" shoe, I'll leave this one open.

What are your favorite things?

Does a perfect shoe even exist? What's your favorite? I'd love to try Skora or Altra shoes, but without anywhere nearby to try them on, I"m hesitant to order since I wouldn't know what size!

Monday, November 18, 2013


Today, I am thankful the tornados missed us this time. Last summer, our town was hit hard by a tornado, which also ripped up several trees in our backyard and knocked one onto our house. Many of the businesses and homes affected still aren't 100% back to normal. Despite several funnel clouds and areas of rotation, not one tornado touched down this time in our immediate area. So today I am grateful that we suffered nothing more than a power outage. No big deal.

One county south, Kokomo has been hit pretty hard. Further south, Lebanon had areas wiped out. To the west, Lafayette sustained terrible damage to factories and some schools. And then there are the towns in Illinois that were torn apart.

My thoughts and prayers are with those affected as I thank the Lord we were spared this time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veteran's Marathon race recap

...or, how I got a sore throat from singing for ten miles! We'll get to that later.

Yesterday, I woke up flailing as my alarm went off. Miracle of miracles, I had gotten a good night's sleep (the better I'm sleeping, the more violently I wake up. Weird, I know). I got dressed, ate the last 5 pancakes I had frozen a few weeks ago covered in syrup and one with my homemade chia gel, had my glass of milk and cup of coffee. Everything was moving along nicely, if you know what I mean, and by 5:45 I was out the door.

The drive was uneventful, other than needing a bathroom after 20 minutes and not seeing one until I got their an hour later (thanks, small town Indiana. You big city folk probably didn't know there are still areas where convenience stores don't open until 7 on a Saturday!).

Parking was easy, packet pick-up was easy, and before I knew it it was 7:30. I had returned to my car to stay warm, but I knew I had several friends who should be around, so I braved the wind.

I heard today that the wind was sustained at 28 mph, and had gusts nearing 50! Crazy. Good thing I'm used to wind from running on base. In hindsight, I think this is a major factor in why I did as well as I did.

I was so excited to meet Amanda, a fellow Tough Chik, before the start. She's super friendly and genuine!
And tall! She blogs over at Too Tall Fritz... Hmmm, I wonder why? We were both a little bummed that we couldn't find Healthy Strides Kim, though. 

I also found my coach/friend and his wife and their adorable kid Calvin.  They were running the 5k. Even though I didn't see them again at the race, having friends at the start always pumps me up. And I might have kept the mid-race-selfie-text streak alive- I sent them this gem at 15.5 miles in:

I had big goals going in: get as close to 4:30 as possible. I knew that meant a 10:17 average, and I knew when I needed to eat, when I would switch on music, when I would take walk breaks, etc. and then the cannon went off and I said screw it, I'm going to have fun.
Once the race got underway, I tried not to look at my Garmin. I was running by feel, took one small (15 second) walk break at three miles, and as I was getting back into a groove I saw Kim!

She had a crazy morning to put it lightly. I swear this girl gave me magic powers. We ran together for the first half, and the miles just clicked by like nothing. I was afraid I was holding her back, but I know now that I helped her almost as much as she helped me. Shortly into the second lap, we split- I really needed a port-a-potty, and it got to the point where I could see my stomach bulging from my full bladder. Pee baby! As I came out feeling much relieved, I saw she was just passed. From that point on, I kept seeing glimpses of her but never caught back up.

And here's where I started singing. Out loud. I had turned on my iPod once Kim and I split, and I tend to sing when I'm alone during training runs. It helps relax my throat and lungs, so I've been known to sing to myself during training on the rare occasion when my asthma acts up. I think the wind was what caused my lungs to feel tight. Whatever it was, I figured, "hey, I'm treating today as my birthday party. So I will sing if I want to!"

I also figured that my singing is bad enough I might help motivate someone to kick it in gear to get out of earshot. :)

So I sang. And sang. My blood sugar stayed as level as ever (hooray, chia!), but somewhere around 20 miles, I was just kind of blah about my time goal. I don't think it was the wall this time- I've hit that before, and this was no where near that misery. I just got lackadaisical for a few minutes. Previously, I kept all walk breaks brisk. But at that moment, I was just plodding. Still having fun, but not sure if I cared enough to push it. I knew I could PR even if I didn't try too hard. I could cruise on in.

Or I could work, b*tch. At that moment, Britney Spears' so g started pumping out of my iPod, and something clicked inside. I wanted to make sure that time at least had 4:3x:xx still. And of I wanted to make that happen, I had to get to work. 

I finished out the last 6 miles, gritting through a popping blister, seizing glutes and piroformis pain, and I crossed that damn finish line, still singing to myself until the last 100 meters. I may or may not have unleashed a guttural growl of joy and kicked it in. The final chip time was 4:36:50.

In that moment, I knew I had run MY race. I had finished, and finished well. I had overcome ever obstacle I've faced in the last year. I had not only ran a marathon PR, but thanks to the Air Force marathon and St Pat's 6 hour, I had qualified for marathon maniacs! #7978 has been committed to the asylum.

In that moment at the finish line, I had achieved everything I set out to achieve. And I was still smiling through the grimace as I doubled over and groaned, "fuuuuuuudge monkeys." My expletive substitution got some giggles, too. 

Kim found me then- she had finished about 5 minutes earlier- and then I waddled off, got some soup and took it to my car where I proceeded to eat it on the grass of a church while in folded pigeon pose. 

(Someone waved like crazy at this point from a silver SUV, but I have no clue who they were- sorry! Marathon fugue was in full effect)

And then I drove to my mom's, visited my grandparents, had dinner at Applebee's where I cleared my plate and my mom's, then finally headed towards home. I had to swing by the base to drop off cookies with the Husbeast and was able to visit some friends who are in town, too.

Finally, at 9:30 pm, I got home. I made hot tea and grabbed a cold beer. Perfect end to the day.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend the Veteran's marathon in Columbia City, IN. It's the best of the Midwest-hospitality, peaceful country views, cows and sheep along the course, and it's pretty flat! The swag was great, too- fittingly, we got a windbreaker on a windy day!
I've been wordy enough, and I can't figure out how to adjust all the paragraphs back to the left alignment, so I'll wrap things up.

Yesterday was amazing. I owe a huge thank you to all the Tough Chiks who are constantly inspiring, to Kim and Amanda for being awesome, to my coach/friend for teaching me that speed work sucks but it works, and most importantly, thank you to my husband. He believed in me and my abilities way before I did. And he encourages me on these crazy adventures, even when he has to stay home and sleep due to his crazy work schedule.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Flat Kasey is ready to run. 3D Kasey is almost ready to run. That 4:45 alarm is going to come quickly.
Time to make it official: 

I will be gunning for a 4:30 finish.

Wish me luck.....

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Homemade Chia gel

Call this the great experiment. I made some chia gel. It tasted better than anticipated, and fueled me through today's 10k on base (not the brightest idea to run a 10k two days before a marathon, but it's also not the brightest idea to run an ultra as your final long run. I think by now I've established I'm more stubborn than anything else).

Frankly, it tasted pretty amazing mid-run. I'm always amused at how running makes some things taste better (Cheetos! Chia gel! Gu!) while others taste sooooo much worse (bananas... those damn tempting bananas! Or guaranteed vomit bullets, as I call them).

I plan on bringing a packet or two of it on Saturday. to go with my normal gels. My hope is that the chia will work its magic and help me avoid the massive blood sugar roller coaster of doom that I usually encounter about 16 miles in.

The "recipe" for those interested (adapted from several I found online)

1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking SODA
1/2 cup fruit preserves*
1/2 hydrated chia seeds

Combine in a pan and slowly bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Let cool, store in fridge until needed. (I'm guessing it should be used within 3 days.... not sure on the shelf life of this. Mine will all be used or thrown out by Saturday night since I'm not a fan of giving myself food poisoning.)

After it cooled, I spooned some into a 2" x 3.5" bag- the kind you can find in the jewelry making supplies at a craft store. I washed them out and tested them for leakage first.

*I used homemade fruit preserves, so I know that they already had some plain (simple) sugar in them to go along with the fructose, so they in theory have a good mix of super simple and slightly more complex sugars.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Veteran's Marathon: October recap, and the final countdown!

Is that song stuck in your head now, too? :)

It seems like I finally figured out how to get all my long runs done- schedule 3 races in a row! While I would never advise this exact "training plan," I sit here feeling strong and marathon ready (let's hope I still say that in 10 days).

October was a good running month. With 2 weeks of reverse taper after the AF marathon, it started out slow, but the weekends have all been stellar:

October 5- Cole Porter 15K- new PR 1:20:40
October 12- Highway Half Marathon- new PR 1:57:04
October 19- St. Pat's 6 hour run- new distance record 27.5 miles in 5:45

Running my first ultra with no taper and doing as well as I did makes me PR hungry again. I'm also shocked how little soreness I had the day after the 6 hour run. I managed to keep all my miles under 10:30 (on trails, too) for the first half of St. Pat's, and some were under 10 minutes. It all makes me wonder how the chips will fall after a solid taper.

I barely ran the week after St. Pat's, mostly because we put our house up for sale and the whole cleaning/organizing/showing process has been a wee bit chaotic. It also caused my back to seize for three days- and I only got it to let go after using the kitchen counter edge to dig in for some myofascial release. Hey, whatever works!

This week has brought about more consistent running, all nice and easy. Sunday's run with these two
which seems to have helped ease their stress over the whole house-selling process, Tuesday's run with the group on base, followed by tomorrow's Halloween 5k on base where some of us are dressing up as our coach!!

And then there's this:
My current cross stitch project. Also known as how I keep the taper crazies at bay. Keeping my fingers busy helps me keep from getting stressed out.

It's hard to believe that this will be marathon #4. Harder still that once it's completed, I'll qualify for marathon maniacs, thanks to that last minute ultra! It just goes to show that when someone tells me I can't, I go out of my way to prove just how much I CAN. Not only have I become the long-distance runner many doctors said I'd never be, but I've completed enough marathons in a short enough time frame to join the Marathon Maniac Asylum! 

My whole point, in fact my whole lifestyle is geared around this: only you know your own limitations. Never let someone else dictate the way you live and celebrate your own life.

A phrase my fitness classes often hear from me puts it even simpler: 

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you are right.

Choose your own destiny, my friends! I can't wait to run and have fun during marathon #4! It's going to be the best birthday party ever!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The non-traditional training plan... Or something

Most people running the Veteran's marathon in 2 weeks probably got in a long run today. Most of them also didn't run their first ultra last weekend.

So instead of doing a double-digit run, I did a double-dog run. 

First, 2.5 miles with Prudence. Then 1.5 miles with Matty. They needed it-yesterday, I would have sworn their names were Piss and Vinegar. Seems they are not coping with the hassle of showing the house and kennels being packed very well.

Which all means I only ran 4 miles today. But it's all with it when the evening looks like this:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The most delicious cheetos in the world!

I ran my first ultra today! YAY! It was the 6 hour option at St. Pat's 24 Hour.
9 times up this hill sucked. 
 I finished 9 laps, which got me 27.5 miles in 5:45.
 I could have ran a .25 mile out-and-back for those last 15 minutes, but I said screw it. After 27.5 miles, I just wanted to be done.

In most of these photos, I"m clutching a bag of half- eaten cheetos. Let me just say cheetos taste AMAZING when you're near the end of an ultra. Like, I was groaning as I munched. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

 My husband was awesome- he paced me my last mile, and got all these "actions shots" (and in some, you can see despite the smile how badly I wanted to be done!!!).

Being a small race, I was one of only 2 females in the 6 hour run (most of the participants did the 24!). Which meant I got 2nd place by defualt. HA! 
Tomorrow, I'll be helping install new flooring in our kitchen. I might get stuck on the ground. It will be interesting to see how sore I am after that many miles on trails.

(That's one way to make sure I get my last long run in before the Veteran's Marathon, isn't it?)

How was your weekend? Any brags? Fun stuff? 

Saturday, October 12, 2013


This morning, I headed down to Kokomo to run the Highway Half marathon. It was billed as One and Done because it was being held on the new bypass before the highway opened, and was therefore a one-time event. Pretty cool to have a chance to run on the highway before it opens to traffic!

The run itself, being on a highway, was exactly what you'd expect: no shade, very little "scenery," and looooong overpasses for hills. Boring for the eyes, yes, but being mostly straight like that, it made the miles fly by. Or maybe that was just my perception...

Because I nailed my time goal!!!!! I finally busted the two hour mark. My official time was 1:57:04. As you can tell, I was pretty damn happy. And then I saw the results (as I was about to leave) and found out I won my age group. What?! Just goes to show, you don't have to be the fastest, just the fastest to show up!
Final results: 
1/24 in age group
26th female
82/394 overall.

I am proud of how I ran today. And it never hurts to bring home some hardware!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

3 things Thursday

1. This whole shutdown thing is killing me. I'm glad the gym is open again, but I still haven't returned to work because my position is paid from an area that hasn't been cleared yet to resume spending money. Which means I'm still jobless. I talked to my supervisor today about it (I think he was afraid I'd be mad), and while it stinks, it could always be worse, so I'm trying to stay positive about things.

2. On a happier note, I LOVE MY BICYCLE! 2 rides so far, and it is awesome. I love it. I want to ride tomorrow, but given that I kind of over-did things already yesterday, I probably need at least one rest day before Saturday's half marathon.

3. I've been cross-stitching my heart out as I try to stay calm/de-stress during this shutdown business. Unfortunately, that means I actually irritated my shoulder! Crafting is dangerous, folks.

Anything random to share? Races this weekend, silly ways you've gotten hurt?

On a completely unrelated note: If you're the praying kind, please keep a newborn baby in your prayers. My friend's cousin gave birth to a baby boy yesterday, but he has a heart problem that will be requiring surgery as soon as possible, and then he'll face 3 more surgeries in his first year before going on to require a heart transplant. I don't ask for prayers ever, but this newborn baby could use all the help he can get. His name is Bennett. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Happy early birthday to me!

The best Husbeast in the world have me my present over a month early so I could enjoy it before Indiana weather returns to craptastic fall (normal).

I took it out for a short 6 mule rise in the wind yesterday. And I love it.

(I find it funny, too, that it's a Giant... Since I'm only 5'3")

Now, whenever the govt gets their crap together and I return to work, I can start saving for some new pedals and shoes. And maybe register for a duathalon! (Is that spelled right?)

And sometime in the future, maybe I'll learn to swim efficiently.... Maybe.

To name the bike, or not? I know a lot of people name their bikes. I named my car (Angie, she's a brat. No clue where the name came from but we argue a lot). 

Does your car or bicycle have a name? What is it?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Worst PR ever!

Also known as "the race that finally sucked." 

I've had a string of great races. Sure, some hurt, but I had fun the whole time.

Not today. It was 72 degrees and a 100% humidity at the start. I brought my handheld, and still ran out of water (they had 2 aid stations... At mile 1 and mile 2. Which meant on the out and back course, from mile 2 until mile 7 there was NO water. Terrible planning given this hot spell!). I felt like I was still recovering from a marathon....

Wait. I am! Perhaps that's half the problem. Last year, there were three weeks between, and this year only had two. That might explain why I felt like I was fighting sooooooo hard for this race.
There were waaaay more people than last year, too, thanks to the shutdown.

Yeah. Because of the shut down, the race had more participates (yay for more $ for local charities), but this meant several age groups, including mine, were way more competitive than normal in our tiny town.

I have never been this unhappy about a PR. But factor in a crowded race feel, not enough water and terrible humidity, and I'm just not excited. I have never been this glad a race was over!

Finish time was 1:20:4x.
Place: ???/???
Who cares. I'm just glad it's over. And I never thought I'd say this, but I hope it cools down before next weekend!!!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. This government shutdown SUCKS. Since I work at a gym on an air reserve base, I am out of work until this crap is resolved. And I hate feeling so powerless about it.

The only thing I can control is my attitude. I've been trying to put on my happy pants, and most of the time I can. But yesterday they wouldn't zip until I let out a couple grumpy tweets.

The other way our small running group on base is "fighting back" is by continuing to meet up at 3:15 outside the sad, locked gym. Tuesday we ran two mile repeats (7:08 and 7:07- still so happy about that). Today might get rained out, but we'll see.

2. I've been catching up with some cross stitch projects. I love crafts like this that force me to slow down. Sometimes it does get tedious, but for the most part, it is nice to be able to be calm and present, one tiny x at a time.
 I plan on framing it with some green fabric and hanging it... somewhere. I wanted to turn it into a decorative pillow, but I asked the Husbeast if he would remember to NEVER put his head on it, and he answered honestly and said no. Pillows will be used as pillows. Wallhanging it is, then.

3. And then there's this:
Twice in the past week, I joined the Husbeast at an outdoor shooting range and got to play with some of his toys. What can I say, I had a blast (haha, bad pun). Don't ask me to tell you the specs, though, because about 30 seconds after I'm told, I forget. Even though I don't remember the name/model/number stuff, I'm still a pretty good shot- good enough my husband praises the tight groupings I get with both rifles and hand guns.

YOUR TURN: tell me something random. an unexpected hobby, favorite food you've eaten today, anything!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Veteran's Marathon- September training recap and October goals

WHOA! Where did September go?

Training went well! How can I be disappointed when I ran a new 5K PR, and then a new marathon PR the next Saturday? I can't. In fact, this is how I still feel:

I'll keep coming back to this photo every time I feel unstoppable. You've been warned!
I logged only 64 miles, but I feel like they were quality miles. I'm seeing improvements in time over both short and long distance, so I'm ok with low mileage.

October brings some big goals of its own. This Saturday, I've got a 15K, followed by the Highway Half in Kokomo the next week, and then I might have signed up for another run on the 19th. I'll tell you about that one later... :)

But this does mean that by my race schedule alone, I will get all three remaining long runs done! And then it will be taper time again. Call me crazy, but I love tapering. I can throw my hands in the air and trust my training, and relax knowing that the hay is in the barn.

I'll be honest here: Since I PR'd at the Air Force marathon, I'll be happy just to run well at the Veteran's Marathon. Sure, I'd love to get another PR, but the pressure is off. And, since Vet's is a week before my birthday, and I hear there's  a beer station along the course, this very well could turn into the most glorious 5 hour birthday party taking place along 26.2 miles of awesome!

You've been warned. I'll be wearing something sparkly and in a party mentality. PRs are optional. Fun is NOT.

Will I see you at my birthday party the Veteran's marathon?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Let's ignore the government (since they ignore us!) for today and focus on something AWESOME:

Registration for TEAM TOUGH CHIK opens today!!!!!!!!!

Ladies, this is practically a national holiday. Seriously. If you've ever wanted to be part of a team that will support you through your athletic endeavors (no matter if it's Couch to 5K or tackling Ironman Kona!), THIS IS THE TEAM FOR YOU.

From the website:

Tough Chik is not just a clothing line, it is an outlook on life. All women have a personal story that makes them tough and our goal is to celebrate Tough Chik triumphs in a creative way. We want to revolutionize women's performance apparel by linking it to something more profound than just pretty designs.
As Team Tough Chik, we are designers, marketers, runners and cyclists that feed on creative expression. We are proud of our shin splints, scars and pedicures. We strive to support women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds who celebrate life and seek to conquer its challenges and adventures.

From my own experience:

These ladies have helped me when I had training questions about my first marathon. They helped me know what to look for when I went to go pick out my first bicycle. They helped me through two surgeries in the past year and were with me when I was frustrated, and still with me when I reveled in the victory of being healthy and running again.

These ladies are my sisters, aunts, mothers, even grandmothers. No matter your age, all active women are welcome. Together, we are a family. It's the kind of support network that all women should be for each other and is sadly lacking in the world. But not on TEAM TOUGH CHIK!!!!

I don't know what else to call these women except friends and family. It's simply amazing. 

Registration is easy, and affordable (even for those of us affected by the shutdown): running singlets (which work great for other sports, too!) start at $27. That's less than most 5Ks cost, and gives you a whole year of membership to this wonderful team!

I don't get anything if you join, either. Wait, that's a lie- I GET MORE SISTERS/FRIENDS/TEAMMATES?FELLOW TOUGH CHIKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So what are you waiting for? Come join the team!!

Seriously. I am not being sponsored, coerced, or bribed by Team Tough Chik for this post. All the gushing is my own. I love these ladies more than they know. Shannon and Angela have created a true team for active women. Thank you to our Fearless Leaders!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Against the odds- reflections

I've been reflective on the Air Force Marathon and why I think it went so well. All things considered, I was way undertrained for a full, and crazy for even attempting a PR. So why'd it work?

1. Strength training. And not just lower body, either. When I strength train, it's a full-body approach. Life doesn't require me to have just strong legs- life requires me to be able to manhandle 40 lb bags of salt for the softener and 44 lb bags of dog food (or 50 when they've got those bonus bags!), life requires me to be stronger than my 110 lb dog when he gets overly excited. Given my husband's job, he's not always home when I need something heavy moved, so I love being strong enough to do a two-man job by myself (like setting up our treadmill).

This is why I work every muscle group. And I think that has helped with running endurance AND speed.

2. Low mileage. Wait, what? How could 45 miles in July, 90 in August, and 64 in September be a good thing if that means I was probably undertrained? Only 199 miles for marathon training?

Here's my theory:

My particular body thrives on lower mileage with more of the above-mentioned strength training. My first and second marathons were both run after 224 miles logged in the 4 month training period, which is low to begin with. It seems like everyone I know who runs marathons logs at least 350-500 miles. But I'm not them, so I know not to compare my mileage in a negative way. These same individuals could lift weight for years and never get the biceps I get after a single month. Body composition, genetics, etc, all play into what works best for us. It's always been relatively easy for me to tone  muscles (and I'm not trying to brag here! I actually feel kind of guilty about it often!). And now that I've added weights back into my routine, it has become easier to run faster and farther.

It does make me wonder how I would perform after a higher mileage training cycle.... I won't know until I try!

But I also know I'm pro-rest days. When I have an ache, I'd rather take an extra day off than end up in a walking boot again.

3. Experience. Since I had already completed 2 fulls, I knew I could finish. That alone might be the single biggest factor for why it all went so well. Knowing it would be difficult, but also knowing I can push through really helped when it got tough.

On a related note, having a first-timer like Rebecca helped, too. I knew she was relying on me to help her simply finish. Being the one with experience, being the leader of our two-person pack not only put pressure on me, but it gave me confidence.

The marathon is a funny creature. You have to treat her with respect. Perhaps I just got lucky. Perhaps I didn't lose as much fitness after surgery as I thought. Perhaps I'm just a freak who can run long distances at slow speeds without "adequate" training.

Whatever the reason, I am looking forward to the Veteran's Marathon in November. If I'm feeling good, I might try to smash another PR. If not, I'm going to treat that course like it's my own public birthday party (since my actual birthday is the following Saturday). After all, it's 2 laps of a 13.1 mile loop... and I here there's a beer station. Happy birthday to me!

(NOTE: this is my experience with running. I am not advising anyone to attempt this; I just find it interesting to read other's training experiences and thought perhaps someone might benefit from reading mine. All I really want you to learn is the YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK.)

Lazy Sunday

A few things...

1. I finally joined Instagram. Same handle as twitter (bomblet). You can expect craft projects, excessive photos of my dogs, and running stuff... Once I get used to it. I'm not as bad as my mother, but I will admit I'm a slow learner with technology someimes.

2. Yesterday I made the 2 hour drive to visit my mom since my aunt was in town. I made for a great day wandering through the botanical gardens
and then visiting Shipshewana (complete with a stop at Lolly's for fabric, of course!). And I just *had* to bring home some cinnamon rolls from Rise n Roll. YUM. 

3. Today is Lazy Sunday. My legs are still sore from the circuit I did on Friday (note: doubling weights makes post-workout soreness exponentially worse!). My "plan" for today is to shower and put on clean comfy clothes. I have no where that I need to be, and am taking an extra rest day. If it stops raining, I might run. Maybe. We'll see. This is the last of my guilt-free post-marathon days, though. Perhaps that alone means I should enjoy doing nothing!

Admit it: who else will be relaxing today?

Any weekend brags? Races, training runs nailed? Delicious food eaten? 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fast Fitness Friday!

Some days, motivation is lacking... others, I feel like I'm running out of time to get a workout in. Tuesday was like this for me. But, I still managed to squeeze in a workout that had me a little sore on Wednesday!

Start out with a few minutes warm-up: put on your favorite tunes and dance for a song or two!

Main set:

10 kettlebell swings
10 kettlebell squats with oblique twist (start with the KB by left knee, raise KB as you stand and extend KB up over right side, arms fully extended)
10 kettlebell squats with oblique twist on the other side
30 seconds of tick tacks (siting in a pike with feet relaxed but off the ground, tap the kettlebell on either side of your body
10 sit ups with the KB on your chest
10 sit ups with the KB held overhead (touch it above your head on the ground, then reach it past your knees when you sit up)
1 minute plank.

Repeat 2-5 times!

Cool down with some gentle stretching.

Simple, right? I went through 3 sets, and was feeling it just enough the next day... and it only took me 20 minutes! And, I was only using a 7lb kettlebell. You can use any weight you'd like, even a dumbbell, I just like using my kettlebell (and keep it in the living room so it's always there, staring at me, reminding me to get at least a mini workout done!).

Of course, you can always substitute your favorite exercises. The point here is that with just a single weight and a short amount of time, you can get in a decent work out.

What's your favorite fast workout?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How I fuel for 26.2

Disclosure: The following post does not endorse any product mentioned. Brands are stated for the sole purpose of letting you know what I eat. I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of these companies; I am just a happy, running customer. All opinions, therefore, are completely honest and 100% my own.

Race day fueling strategies are as varied as the runners themselves. What works for me might be terrible for you, but I thought I'd share so you have one more perspective.

To start with, the day of a marathon (or a long run), I make sure to have a decent breakfast. My favorites include pancakes with a large glass of milk or grits with chia. If you're a grits girl/guy, try hydrating some chia and mixing it in once your grits are ready. You won't even notice the texture of them!

Buttery, salty grits with chia! YUM.

Last Saturday, I woke at 4:30 and had pumpkin pancakes, some kombucha with chia (warning: the texture of it is terrible! I have to down it like a shot, and even then I gag. But chia really seems to help keep my blood sugar level), milk, and coffee.

*Pancakes travel really well- make them ahead of time and freeze them and they become a hearty, portable breakfast. And if you forget a plate to use to heat them in the microwave, paper ads from your race swag bag will work in a pinch. :)

Since I knew I'd have a decent wait between catching the 5:30 shuttle and the 7:30 race start, I brought along a Clif Kid Zbar.

 And I had some Nuun in my water bottle leftover from overnight (Anyone else require water by their bedside? Not just before a race, either. I always wake up thirsty!).

I ate the Clif bar at 6:30, giving it plenty of time to move along.
Mmm, salted caramel!!!! 
 Once the marathon began, I started in on the Gu. I take one about every 3 miles, and it takes about half a mile to get it down. I try to eat them slowly so that I don't overload my stomach. I know for some people, every 3 miles would be way too frequently, but it works for me.

Personally, I prefer Gu gels over other brands because of their texture. I know people who prefer other brands' gels for the same reason, though, so try a few and figure it out.

During the Air Force Marathon, it took 8 gels. I brought 6 with me, and was able to snag 2 from aid stations. When you require as much fuel as I do, it helps to know how many you can get one course. I knew there were at least 2 aid stations with gels, and that it took 7 to get through my last marathon, so I only relied on getting 1 (but was grateful for the second!).

I've learned over the past year that I cannot eat bananas during a run. They make me hurl. Post run, they're awesome, but during? Not unless you want to see my guts!

Some of my other favorite fuels are Clif Shot Bloks, Sport Beans, and in a pinch, good old fashioned fruit snacks.
It all comes down to what works for YOU. My husband can run a half without a single fuel item. He's a beast. I know I can run at an easy pace for 6 miles without food, but if I want to push the pace or go further, I need fuel to fight off blood sugar issues.

This is probably the most valuable thing you can learn from those long runs. Find the fuels that work before, during, and after.

What is your favorite fuel?

Bananas: love them or hate them?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Air Force marathon 2013

Yesterday, I ran my third marathon. It's funny to think that a year ago I ran my first there. But this time, I feel like I can actually say I RAN.
First, I met Jillian, a fellow Tough Chik!!!! She's super sweet and a marathon maniac!

What started as a wet, nasty morning turned out to be perfect running weather. From the rain stopping mere minutes before we started to the cool temps to the light breeze, the weather was perfect. The course was similar to last year, and I love that, too. Spectators were plentiful enough to keep you going. And I made a race friend who I ended up running with the whole time. How lucky is that to line up next to someone perfectly matched for your goals?

I can't believe I was feeling THIS good at 15.7 miles in! My furthest run since last March was 14.11 miles. And look at that grin! Rebecca, my race friend, went with a run/walk strategy, keeping the walking to water stations and a few short (30 seconds) breaks in the last few miles.

Such a wonderful person. I wish I had gotten her contact info, but post-marathon, I didn't even think about it.

We worked as a team during that marathon. It was her first, so she was grateful for my advice. I was grateful in part to have someone rely on me, which helped me keep pushing. But she also was just the most genuine and encouraging person I've met (besides my Husbeast).

Together, we pushed through all 26.2 miles in 4:51:54!!!

I nearly cried with joy! I thought I was being ambitious, even cocky to even dream of finishing under 5:30 given how little training I had done. So to run that well and feel amazing 95% of the race, well, let's just say I was astounded.

I'm still in disbelief. What an amazing race. Hopefully, I convinced Rebecca to join Team Tough Chik this fall. She truly deserves the moniker.

On top of my great race, my Husbeast got a half marathon PR- 2:03:14!  He's amazing.

Simply put, this weekend was incredible.

4:51:54! Gah! Still amazed!!!!!!!!!!!