August Rundown

Well, just a few days ago, I learned that one of my friends hit the milestone of 4,001 miles run (over the last 3.5 years).  Amazing!  I wish I knew exactly my grand total like that, but I’ve only had accurate data (i.e., my Garmin) for the past 16 months.  (Plus, there’s that little thing about how I sometimes forget even to wear that).  So I can only track my miles (semi) accurately since April 24, 2012.  My grand total from 4/24/12 to 8/31/13 is 736.84 miles.

The important news out of that is I am keeping pace with the goal I set at the end of May to run an additional 450 miles this year (to total 609 miles for 2013).  Setting that goal meant that I needed to run about 15 miles a week, and with 238.82 miles and 17 (and a 1/2) weeks to go, that weekly average is 14.04, so I’m right on target.  Plus, the roughly 16 and 19 I’ll run over the next two weeks with the half, will help bring that average down a bit for the remaining weeks!

And now, updates for the month!

Half training:  I’d been dreading my half marathon training because I felt so “behind.”  But I’m having a BLAST.  I started training with my friend Julie (whom I only met last year; shown in group pic below), and we’re kind of the perfect match right now.  We’re at almost the exact same fitness level/pace.  Also, we’re both morning runners, and we have great conversations during our runs.  As the girl who would typically be running behind her running pals in the morning, running with a friend all the time, has been a delight.  And since the weather has been mild for August (at least earlier in the month), we’re improving rapidly.  Initially, we thought our goal would be to run the half at an 11-minute/mile pace (that’s a 2:24 finish time).  We thought we’d like to strive for 2:20 (10:41 pace), but it seemed a little far fetched.  But now we’re thinking that we might pull that off – at least if everything goes right on race day.  You know – we’ve had enough sleep, eaten the right foods at the right times, the weather doesn’t take a hot or humid turn for the worse.  On our weekly long runs, we’re typically adding distance and increasing our pace just a little each week.  We’re thinking: with our hard work and improvement – plus race day adrenaline ! – we might just surprise ourselves.

Shoes:  Dang, I forgot to take a picture of my old shoes before my husband put them out with the trash.  Normally, I wouldn’t trash old shoes, but there was just no way I was even wearing them for non-running activities.  IF I had a picture, I’d show you how my big toes poked holes up through the canvas of the upper.  I don’t blame the shoes for my injuries from earlier in the year, but they weren’t helping matters – they just weren’t right.  I was hoping to get another 100 miles or so on those babies, but I had to go get fitted for new wheels.  The old shoes were some Asics (GT 2000?) – stability shoes. Before that I had Brooks Ghost 3s – a neutral shoe.  I loved my Brooks, but they hammered my toes – I needed a half size up.  When I went to the Elite Runners & Walkers, they didn’t have any of that model Brooks in my size, so I tried on a bunch of other pairs.  It turns out that the neutral shoes seem to work better for me, and I ended up with these babies.  I swear I didn’t pick them because they’re loud and obnoxious.

shoes

Apparently, they’re Susan Komen (don’t get me started) pink, but they are lying.  Unless Susan Komen pink is actually a very orangey pink.  So far, I love them, but it’s maybe hard to tell after only 48 miles.

I need to add a big, fat “THANK YOU!” to my mom and dad for forking over money for my birthday – early – so that I could get new shoes.

Skirt:  And speaking of birthday money, I had some left over, so I decided on a new running skirt.  I actually deviated from my usual brand because I was interested in some fun patterns offered by Running Skirts.  I picked this pattern – being really pleased with myself for picking something a little out of my comfort zone:

[Want to insert an amusing leopard sound here, but can't figure out how to spell it.  I did learn, however, that they don't have the vocals to "roar" like bigger cats.]

I want to insert an amusing leopard sound here, but can’t figure out how to spell it. I did learn, however, that they don’t have the vocals to “roar” like bigger cats.

But right after I ordered it, I got an email that my size sold out.  Then I picked the argyle one I’d been eyeing initially.  I’m showing it here on me in this group photo, because this group run is one of my August highlights.

Kathy, Kim T., me, Jackie, Julie, Chrissy, Jen, and Letty (Photo credit: Letty)

Kathy, Kim T., me, Jackie, Julie, Chrissy, Jen, and Letty (Photo credit: Letty)

[Other] Highlights:  I usually add highlights after my stats, but this time it’s more appropriate here.

  • Probably the best one was the group run / group breakfast pictured above.  NOTE:  Julie and I ran five miles before meeting up with the other babes to run five more.  Which is why I look like a hot mess and they’re all fresh as daisies.  Anyway, it was super fun to get a group of us together.  Thanks go to Letty for organizing.
  • Long runs – Do I love to hate them or hate to love them?  Had my first runs over 8.5 since March – Woo-hoo!.  Julie and I ran 8, 9, 10 (10.45, actually), and 11 miles for the four weekends in August!  Remarkably, each one seemed easier than the last.  Well, until the last LONG run (of 11) before the half.  We fell apart a little bit after six miles (3 slow and 3 at race pace), but we got it done on not enough sleep (for either of us) and ridiculous humidity.  (I was gritty with sweat salt.  Ew!)
  • We are really looking forward to starting our taper on Monday!

August 2013 Stats:

Miles Run:  81.62
Time Running: 15:18:48
Average Pace: 11:19

Other Activities:  3 taekwondo classes and 1 “Ripped” video in my basement (that left me too sore to wash my back effectively in the shower for about three days!)

Races:  None (none were planned)

YTD Stats:

Miles Run:  370.18
Time Running: 67:53:29
Average Pace: 11:06

 

How to Have a Beach Body

That’s a joke I’ve seen online:

post-image

Or even more simply:

beach-body

I’ve been struggling to describe my experience in my beach body on this year’s vacation, so I’ve been dragging my feet on writing about it.  But here goes nothing!

This is the third summer I’ve been wearing my current swimsuit.  (Although this year, I had some bonus alternatives I wore to the pool in the evenings – my mom gave me a bag of old suits!)  That is, I’ve been roughly the same size for three summers, which is a very good thing.  I say roughly because I was a few pounds slimmer last summer – so I don’t look quite as fit this year.  Ironically, I was less self-conscious about how I looked in my swimsuit than I was either of the past two years.  I’m chalking that up to a lot of self reflection about life being too short and upon giving myself credit for how good I look, given the progress I’ve made, instead of beating myself up for the work I feel I have yet to do.

But there’s more.  I really studied myself in my swimsuit.  I got uncomfortably comfortable examining every little (and not so little) aspect of my exposed flesh.  I acknowledged things like the muscle tone I’ve cultivated in my arms, shoulders, and other areas.  But I also considered that unfortunate under arm giggle.  I noticed that although I thought that my biggest current “problem area” was my post-baby belly, it’s actually still my butt and thighs.  Like it’s always been.  (Possible explanations:  My middle is more visible and obvious to me in day-to-day activities, so I think it’s worse because I’m more aware of it?  The change in that area is simply more drastic than in others?)  I contemplated the veins in my legs.  And I very closely inspected the back of my thighs overall shape and the appearance of cellulite.

And then, I allowed myself to indulge in what many consider to be a serious no-no: Comparing myself to others.

On comparing as a no-no, just look at the quotes that came up on the topic after approximately 4 seconds of internet searching:

“I cannot say this too strongly: Do not compare yourselves to others. Be true to who you are, and continue to learn with all your might.”   ~ Daisaku Ikeda, Discussions on Youth

“Comparison is the death of joy.”   ~ Mark Twain

“Do not compare yourself with anybody. Compare yourself with yourself, for yourself and by yourself. We are all uniquely pottered and purposed by our creator!”  ~ Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

“The problem with comparison is that you always feel either better than someone else or worthless compared to someone else.”   ~ Dillon Burroughs
[WORD!]

I’m not sure what to make of this one:

“If you have an old habit of competing and comparing yourself with others, then you are still living your life like a sperm. GROW UP!!”   ~ Saurabh Sharma

But here’s my favorite:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~Albert Einstein

So good or bad (I’ll come back to that), here’s what I figured out from the comparisons:

  • Virtually every woman I know has arm giggle.  Get over it.
  • Yes, my belly is a bit of a wreck, but lookie, lookie!  Compared to my butt, who’s going to notice?
  • I believe I have few visible veins in my legs compared to other people I see (or whose legs I see).  That’s something to be grateful for, as it’s an issue I wouldn’t have as much control over in terms of improving it.
  • Not saying my thighs are lump-free, but considering their size, they’re pretty damn smooth.  I see women with slimmer but dimply-er thighs than mine.  Would I rather have my big, relatively smooth legs or thinner, bumpier ones?  It’s a push.
  • Except for the teen-aged and 20-something girls who looked like they would be heading to some athletic camp when they got home from the beach, I thought I looked better than the majority of people at the beach.
  • Even though my final analysis was positive about myself, I didn’t like the way I was thinking about the issue.  Here’s where I started to come full circle on the comparing thing.  I didn’t like what I was doing.

Why did I feel the need to compare myself to others?  Why did I need to assess better, worse, or same?  And again, even though I felt like I looked “better,” I still felt like comparing myself to everyone else was a mean thing to do to myself.  And then I got to wondering if comparing myself to others – who absolutely didn’t know I was doing it – was a mean thing to do to them.

Even though they didn’t know I was measuring them up, was it mean to them to think:

  • “My thighs are smoother than hers.”?
  • Her arms may be thinner but they’re not as toned as mine.”?
  • “My boobs aren’t as saggy as his.” (Yeah, some poor men even go dragged into the action.)?

At the same time, I believe that comparison is often necessary to achieve things in life.  So although I think that the sage advice to avoid comparison is wise if you’re using it to beat yourself or someone else up, I think it’s acceptable when you’re learning something new or otherwise trying to improve a skill.

Sometimes you need to look toward someone who already knows what they’re doing and honestly assess where you are in comparison to them.   For example, I just started taking taekwondo (another post coming about that!), so my kicks, stances, and punches feel awkward because they’re new to me.  And I have to look to the more experienced students in the class and compare my movements  to theirs.  When I’m thinking, “Okay, I’m not pulling my knee up high enough first and snapping my kick out with power like Jane is,” I believe that’s acceptable.  It’s pretty objective.  Jane has had more practice and I need to try to duplicate her movements to improve my own.  But it’s NOT okay for me to say, “I suck at this.  Look how fluidly and flawlessly Jane execute those kicks, whereas I look like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum!”  That is mean to myself – plus not very productive in terms of improving.

SO!   I decided that it was mean and completely unfair to be judging people in terms of who looks better/worse/same as me.  And I decided to make a strong effort to quit harming myself and others like that.  I’m going to try to only compare me to me from now on, except where it’s productive to use someone’s abilities as an objective example for improving my own skills.

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others?  Do you sometimes think you don’t measure up to others in terms of appearance or other areas?

July Run Down

Once again, I’m behind.  Also, it was a fairly uneventful July – no races or anything fancy, but here it goes.

July 2013:

Miles Run:  50.15 miles (12 less than last month)
Time Running: 9:02:42
Average Pace: 10:49 min/mile

Additional workouts:

Pounds lost: None.  Weight may have fluctuated some through the month, but I think I ended up just the same at the end as the beginning of the month

Races:
None – Hadn’t planned any and didn’t jump into any at the last minute.

Highlights/Lowlights:

  • Two wonderful (pretty!) / awful (holy heat and humidity) runs on Myrtle Beach during vacation.
  • Continued to run a variety of routes with a whole bunch of different ladies, including (drumroll) Nina who was in town one weekend, visiting her in-laws!
  • Julie and I decided to run our September half marathon together to make it more fun and less daunting!
  • Continue to be struggle with some minor physical issues/injuries.  This month’s featured issue was an unhappy right hamstring.  I’m starting to wonder if I’m wearing the wrong shoes and intend to 1) try lacing up my old ones for a few runs to see how that feels, 2) buying new ones in the near future, and 3) maybe seeing a foot doctor (a women who’s also a runner) for inserts.  Two of my friends have seen her/gotten inserts and both ladies said it make a big difference.
  • Two fitness, but not running related highlights:
    • When I signed Emily up for taekwondo, I started taking classes myself.  I’m not sure if I’m gong to be able to keep up with the schedule (too much running around once school starts?), but it’s something SuperFun that I definitely want to continue to pursue in the future.  My favorite parts: 1) the “Ki-Haps” – where you shout as you throw a kick or punch, and 2) breaking “boards” (they’re re-breakable).
    • Bob and I took the girls to Venture Outdoors/Kayak Pittsburgh to kayak along the rivers.  Fun but hard work for the torso – especially when you’re doing all the rowing for two people!  Everyone had a blast.

Kayaking

Strong Finish:

I don’t really have a strong finish this month.  It was toward the end of the month that my cranky hamstring started to really bother me.  However, even though it slowed me down a bit, it didn’t stop me completely!  And now that I know exactly what’s wrong, I know what to do about it that allows me to keep running!  I guess my strongest “finish” item is that, in spite of feeling “behind” on my half training, I’m starting to get excited about that race.  Here’s hoping that August allows me to stay on track!

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YTD Run-Down (Jan 1 to July 31, 2013):

Miles Run:  301.83
Time Running: 55:13:14
Average Pace: 10:58 min/mile

** Breakdown
Jan = 23.53 miles
Feb = 43.92
Mar = 36.79
Apr = 8.39
May = 46.39
June = 62.08
July 50.12