Summer Lovin’

Summer is my absolute favorite season. When I think of Heaven, I don’t think of a white-light filled space. I think of sun, sand, surf and virgin cocktails with little umbrellas. So, in honor of summer, I wanted to take the time out to send a shout out to the things I’m loving this Summer.

Intervals
Prior to my Hippie Chick 1/2 Marathon, I was doing weekly speed intervals, but stopped about two weeks before the race because I ended up getting sick. After my poor performance on the Tutu Half-Marathon this past month, I knew I had to get back to running speed intervals. I love how wild my hair gets, and how sweat beads form all over my face. Intervals during summer make me feel like I worked extra hard.

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Post Speed Interval Session. Wild hair, sweaty face, but with a big smile on my face.

EveryMove App
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to apps. As a runner, I’ve stuck to MapMyRun when I’m not using my Garmin and have navigated other apps, but I usually lose interest in them pretty quickly. I recently discovered as a SweatPink Ambassador the EveryMove app and I’ve actually been very motivated to use it. The app allows you to record all of your activities and rewards you with points that can be redeemed towards tangible incentives (think discounts for athletic apparel, edible goods, and pet gear to name a few), or the points can go towards charitable donations. In the last month that I’ve used it, I’ve been able to earn enough points logging in my running miles and my Crossfit workouts and earned 25% off from Healthy Warrior. My favorite part though is the fact that I can use my workout activities towards charitable contributions. So I get to work out, which makes me happier and healthier, log my runs and crossfit workouts into the EveryMove app (I like to manually record mine even though you can sync the app with numerous fitness apps), and contribute to a better society just by exercising and using the Apps. It’s a win win.  Since I started using the app about three weeks ago, I’ve earned enough points for EveryMove to donate $1 to The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and another $1 towards Summit Assistance Dogs, a nonprofit organization that creates partnerships by providing highly-skilled mobility, hearing and therapy dogs for people living with disabilities. Furthermore, you can compare your fitness mobility with other EveryMove users and motivate each other. I’m thinking this particular app is a keeper.

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Some of the multiple choices of moving activity. Running and Crossfit are my main sweat inducers, but notice I have also used the “Cleaning House” activity.

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The Great Outdoors
I feel like I wait years for Summer to come, so when it finally comes around, I love to explore the beautiful state of Oregon. From mountains, to waterfalls, I love being outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature.

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Columbia River Gorge – absolutely beautiful.

I grew up in Florida, which is filled with heavenly palm trees, plenty of sun and surf, but it’s flat as a pancake. As a result, I’ve come to love and be in complete awe of mountains, and take every opportunity to capture those moments.

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Tumalo Falls in Bend, Oregon.

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Hell’s Canyon between Oregon and Idaho. I am standing in Idaho, with Oregon directly across.

Summer Running
Last, but certainly not least, I’m loving Summer Running. I love the sun beaming on me, wearing shorts and a tank top without shivering, and the crazy tan lines on my arms and legs. I know Summer Running is not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.

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Eleven mile run in the beautiful city of Bend, Oregon.

What are you loving this Summer? Have you used the EveryMove App? What other Apps have you been loving?

 

 

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A Year of Salty Sweat and Crocodile Tears

June 2013 was the month where I took a pro-active stance and decided to put my fitness back to the top of the list. After a 47-lb pregnancy weight gain, juggling life with a newborn and a 9 year-old, the loss of my beloved grandmother, a career, solo parenting for three months, and a move across the state, I wanted to get back to the activity I had neglected for almost 18 months – running. I ran my first 5k on the treadmill in November of 2012 and it was physically challenging. It was a distance I took for granted, but now I found myself struggling to finish one mile. I ran my next 5K on Mother’s Day, 2013. On that run, every weak muscle in my body ached. I couldn’t breathe, and I crossed the finish line by the Grace of God.  I came in 322 out of 492 runners with an average pace of 12:17 per mile.

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August 2012 – 33 weeks Pregnant with second child and about 40lbs gained.

I had seen the Insanity infomercial numerous times, and mentioned to my husband on multiple occasions that I wanted to sweat with Shaun T, creator of Insanity workouts. I wanted to sweat like the people on the commercials. I wanted to have before and after pictures like the ones I saw flashing on television. I wanted to be one of “them” and tell my story. Fortunately for me, my husband gave me the Insanity workout for Mother’s Day right after that Mother’s Day 5k run. I completed the 60 days of Insanity, and at the end of August, I started running again. Running didn’t necessarily become easier, but I wasn’t struggling like I had been on my Mother’s Day 5K. I spent the months of September and October logging more miles, but I knew that I needed more than running to become a stronger runner, and to attain the sub-2 half-marathon I was working towards prior to my pregnancy. What I needed was strength training. Problem was, I had never picked up a single weight in my life and I had no clue not only how to lift correctly, but what an effective weight training workout looked like.

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A year after my first Mother’s Day postpartum 5k, I ran my second half marathon: Hippie Chick Half-Marathon in Hillsboro, Or on Mother’s Day 2014. I was attempting to go under two hours, but I was 36 seconds short of my goal: 2:00:35. I think the glasses slowed me down 🙂

In late October, I ventured into something I was intimidated of doing – Crossfit. I walked into the box, looked around, and immediately questioned what on Earth I was doing there. I was like a fish out of water. And even more intimidating, I did not know a single person. Thus, even though I was working out with a group of people, I was a complete stranger and felt totally alone. I didn’t fully immerse myself within the Crossfit culture. I spent the month of November wrestling my negative thoughts. Every time I stepped inside the box, I took a deep breath for fear of the pain that lay ahead. And every time I stepped outside of the box, I felt small, reminded of how weak I was and questioning if I could ever feel good about truly “killing” a workout.

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When I first started doing Crossfit, I could not “clean” a PVC bar. I can now power clean 95lbs. Picture depicts 55lbs. Photo Courtesy:Quincy Warner

I’ve never doubted being able to finish a workout, even if it meant being the last one. Yesterday, was a different story. The negative voices in my head began their barrage of defeating thoughts and made me question whether I could successfully complete the workout. Like it’s usually the case, everyone was finishing their workout before me, and my repetitions became slower, harder, more painful. Hot tears started forming in my eyes and they soon started mixing in with my salty sweat. My friends started cheering me on. They were not going to let me quit. They knew I could do it. Every fiber within my body wanted to give up, but I knew I would regret it. I knew that if I threw in the towel, my tears would be larger, and the pain of surrendering would be greater than the pain of enduring the workout to its completion. And then it happened, after a combined ninety 55lbs thrusters, ninety pull-ups and 800 meters of rowing, I was done. It was 30 grueling minutes of physical and mental pain. I broke down and cried. I couldn’t keep my bearing. I apologized to my friends and thanked them at the same time.

Twenty four hours later, I needed to look back to see how far I had come. I want to remind myself of the progress that had transpired over the last year. The pictures below serve as a reminder that I need to embrace the grueling moments like the one I experienced yesterday, because they are the seasoning to the moments of glory and success. As little as the progress has been, it is better than going backwards. I do feel better about myself. I am proud of how hard I have been working and how far I have come since my 5k in May of 2013. In fact, my progress proves that my efforts are greater than my negative and self-defeatist thoughts. And my progress will continue, because I won’t quit no matter how grueling the workouts get. I just have to make sure I stay hydrated, because there will probably be plenty of sweat and tears ahead. 20140711-115412-42852063.jpg 20140711-115425-42865984.jpg

Tutu Run Half-Marathon Race Recap

I ran the Tutu Run Half-Marathon on July 4th 2014. The race took place in Boise, Idaho, which is a three hour drive from where I live. There is also an hour time difference, so you can technically say it is a 4 hour drive!

The race began @ 7 am at Veteran’s Memorial Park. There was a 5K, 10k, a half-marathon and a kids race. The race was small, with only about 65 participants for the half marathon. Packet pick-up occurred on the day of the race, which worked well given the number of participants (less than 250). As I mentioned in my Three Faces of Luisa post, I had no expectations (lie) because I really hadn’t run since my last half-marathon in June. It was also inexpensive (less than $50) and it included a finisher’s medal and a non-tech t-shirt. Tech shirts seem to be the expectation nowadays, so I had to emphasize it was “non-tech.” Since it’s called the “tutu run” we were all encouraged to wear a tutu. This was the first time I’d be running in a Tutu, and I was actually excited about running with an extra accessory.

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The course was an out and back course, and believe it or not, those are my favorite kind of courses. There were four well-spaced water stations throughout the run. The path was paved and there was adequate shade formed by large trees throughout the path. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to cross a wooden bridge and run along a river. Truthfully, it was a very beautiful, flat course that I’m sure I’d like to run again. The course was ideal for a small local race, but would not be suitable for a bigger race if it grows to be any larger. Since it was a nice and sunny holiday, we shared the path with bicyclists, runners independent of the race, and walkers enjoying the day with a friend or their furry friend. Despite that, I never felt crowded or like we were in each other’s way.

I must have been very efficient with my running, because I crossed the finish line with my Garmin reading 12.85! I actually had to do a couple of loops in order to get the official half-marathon distance of 13.1! There was water, Gatorade, bananas, pretzel and ice pops at the end of the race.

My finish time according to the race: 2:07:05
My finish time according to my Garmin: 2:09:54

Here is the CRAZIEST part of all: I beat myself up for almost the entire race, and I placed THIRD for my age group!!!!! I did not find this out until today, when I started typing this post to see my official results!!!!

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I would definitely run this well-organized race again.

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A picture of my tutu and the race medal. My neighbor decorated my tutu! I love it!

Did you run any races on Independence Day?

Three Faces of Luisa

The only expectation for the half-marathon was to run 13.1 miles.

As soon as the race began, I sensed that something was out of sync. My watch further confirmed I was in for an unpleasant run given the pace I was putting forth. The following soliloquy played out during my 13.1 mile production:

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The pessimist:
“You are such a loser. You inspire no one. Here you go with more excuses. Do you really believe anybody even believes you are a runner? There’s nothing impressive about what you do. Give it up. You are a joke. You are a mere speck of sand in the desert. Your existence does not make a difference in the hands of time.”

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The optimist:
“Wow! It’s July the 4th and you are participating in an event that you absolutely love on a day you absolutely love! The sun is shining brightly, and it’s the perfect temperature. More importantly, you are a healthy woman with two beautiful healthy daughters, and a loving, patient, faithful, and supportive husband. When the half is over, you’ll get to enjoy food and fireworks. You are beyond blessed and have so much to be thankful for.”

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The realist:
“You have put in very few running miles since your last half-marathon in June. It’s illogical to expect the same results when you’ve put in less training. You can’t beat yourself up over something that you can improve. Plus, this is one of the many races you’ve done and yet to do. Do your best. Shake it off. Move on. Train better for your next race and you’ll see the results.”

I’ve got to admit that when a situation does not go the way I plan, I immediately gravitate towards the self-loathing and cruel, negative put-downs. Reading what I say to myself is so hurtful. In fact, I don’t think I could ever say any of those cruel words to someone I love or care for! How could I possibly be so hurtful towards my own-self? I’m my own worst-critic. I beat anyone to the punch when it comes to putting my own self down. And you know what, I make my own self cry!

During the run, I made every attempt possible to drown out the negative thoughts with positive ones. I reminded myself how blessed I am, and how millions of people would be willing to trade places with me in a heartbeat in order to leave behind their painful and or oppressive circumstances. The negative thoughts weighed my body down like a ton of bricks. They impacted my form, my breathing, and my entire body. It wasn’t until I tugged hard and long enough to let the positive thoughts take over that my body felt at ease. I crossed the finish line fatigued not from the distance I run, but from the mental battle I endured.

I don’t know that the “optimist” face will ever be my initial go to face, but like any other challenge in life, I’m determined to make myself a better person. And this is part of my running journey after all. It’s not just about being physically faster, or stronger, but about the mental adversity I endure when fast becomes relative because I am getting older. Or stronger becomes relative because of injuries or illness. It’s about always crossing the finish line no matter how challenging the terrain becomes, or how ugly the voices in my head are. It’s about transforming my inner vessel. The physical transformation is only a bonus, but not the main gift of the transformation.

How do you respond to adversity? Do you gravitate towards the pessimist, optimist, or realist face?