Monday, February 28, 2011

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Everything's hard the first time you do it.

Well....most of the time, especially when it comes to working out. Whether its going for a run for the first time in a while or joining a cycling class that is burning your legs to smithereens, it always hurts the first time you try something new because you don't know how to handle the pain just yet.

For me, the first time I run after an extended vacation from it, my stomach feels funny, I cramp and I don't know how to breathe right. It feels so awkward and uncomfortable. What's funny is that after a few different runs, I feel great. My legs don't hurt after I run, and it just feels natural. To me running feels good.

Now try adding some cross training to the mix. I attended my second cycling class ever last week and thought I was going to keel over in the first 15 minutes. Ugh - I had 45 minutes left to go. I thought about sneaking out at the 30 minute mark for water and then never return. It really, really hurt. Or was it because I didn't know how to tolerate this burning sensation in my legs? It was definitely the latter. After I stuck out the first 30 minutes, the last 30 felt much more doable and my legs adjusted to the burning as not something foreign and evil, but something empowering and invigorating.

However, I was still a little timid to try it again - a little scared to get out of my comfort zone of running - but I did a 60 minute session of cycling Wednesday night and another at 6am this morning. This morning was my 3rd cycling class in the past week and definitely felt much more doable.

During my 5 mile run on Tuesday night I experienced my first sign of shin splints during my training, which hurt so bad and made me a little upset that I needed to ease up on the running. I did my normal cross training on Wednesday and then did another 60 minute cycling class again today to make up for the 4 miles I was supposed to run. I'm hoping that giving running a break for 2 days will make put me back in running's good graces for Saturday and Sunday!

Other than incorporating cycling and other new strength training classes into my routine, I want to add one more thing to help break me out of my comfort zone - exercising in the morning! Waking up at 5am feels crazy, but really once I'm up I feel great!

I recently read another runner's blog about how they just get things done and the main tip I'm taking away is:

"Run/work out first thing in the morning. I know we’re not all morning people, but trust me, you can adjust! Working out in the a.m. not only frees up the evenings, but gives you lots of extra energy throughout the day (hello, endorphins!)"

I'm excited to start waking up early to fit in my runs and exercises. My first attempt at this was this morning. It was quite an invigorating feeling and I did love every minute of it! However, I definitely made up for the hard earned calorie burning by going to the Cheesecake Factory tonight for a double date with Landon and Lori! I was good and got one of their lighter salads, but I followed it up with a delicious traditional cheesecake! Yum!!

PS -- Is anybody else still watching Teen Mom?? I'm currently watching it and couldn't imagine being a teen mom and trying to get through school, pay bills, and deal with baby mama drama! It looks pretty dang tough!! I do love Leah though :)

PPS -- back on topic - what are you doing to get out of your comfort zone? What seemed so hard at first, but made you realize you could actually do it?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ouch - That Really Hurt!

Yesterday's HEAT class at HEAT studios absolutely destroyed me and my poor pip-squeak muscles.

It was a mix of cardio and strength training. The class didn't start with casual stretching and motivating words, it was go big or go home in the first minute. We started out with strength training that targeted arms, shoulders and whatever other muscles I have from my waist up. Then the class split into two groups and one group sprinted on the treadmill while the other continued more strength training targeted at the legs and yet again, any other muscle I didn't know I had until last night. I could hardly move at the end of it. My shoulders, arms and legs were shot.

I woke up this morning still a little sore, but could walk and move around comfortably. That all ended when I set out for my 3 mile run today. Oh-my-goodness. OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!! I felt like I weighed 700 pounds and was going to have to run 15 minute miles or even worse a walk/run. To say I was mad at myself is an understatement.

Justin wanted to run with me, and he appeared so carefree and happy to be running since his muscles hadn't endured what mine went through last night. At first I dreaded running next to him, but after we ran the first mile together, I was happy to have him by my side - especially since he was wearing the Garmin watch. ;)

It turns out my run was much better than how I felt. I guess Thursday's pace wasn't a fluke because I ran under 10 minutes for all 3 miles! My average pace for the 3 mile run was 9:44!! Behind all this pain and soreness, I am so happy!!

Below is a recap of my pace during the run and a link to my route, timing and charts.

I'm hopeful that my muscles will relax and be ready for the 6.5 mile run tomorrow since I finished today's run relatively early in the day.

Before the run today, Justin and I stopped by the mall for a few things, and I must say, Anthropologie had me drooling over their clothes! Here are a few on my wish list. Ps - my birthday is April case anybody is feeling extra generous ;)

I wasn't too big of a fan of this dress from the front, but the back makes it a must have!

If this isn't the ideal Carolina skirt, I don't know what is.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mini Victories!!!

“…The best part was at the end of every day, when I had a sharp sense of having accomplished something measurable and definable. I won a little victory every day that nobody could take away from me.

I thought I had discovered magic.

I began to believe that as long as I ran, I’d keep the magic, but if I stopped, I’d lose it, which is actually true. I called running my Secret Weapon."
-- K.V. Switzer, Marathon Woman

YAY for a 9.53 running pace during my 4 mile run last night!! I just love how sweet it feels to accomplish something small and sometimes big every time I run. I know 9.53 minutes per mile sounds like a snail pace compared to the more experience runners, but to me, it's BIG! I usually run around a 10:15 pace, which already makes me feel like a little cheetah. Granted I'm never out of breath when I finish running so I think I could push myself harder on the short runs. Saturday is my 3 mile run, so I'm planning on trying to pick up the pace and keep it in the 9s. Can't wait!!

Tonight I'm going to another class at HEAT Studios called HEAT with Stacey, Elisabeth and Caroline. It's their signature class and it consists of intervals on the treadmill, and strength and resistance training on the floor. Starting in the next week or so, I think I'm going to try and attend the HEAT class every Wednesday for some good strength training and then incorporate Hot Yoga on Fridays. Usually Fridays are an optional rest day or x-training day, so I really need a rest, but that's what Monday is for anyways :)

Below is a picture of my proud moment last night! Here's a link to more details on the route, splits and pace.

Can't wait for my 6.5 mile run on Sunday!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Family, and Running, and Cycling! Oh, my!

Prior to training for my half-marathon (which basically started two weeks ago), my typical weekend consisted of sleep, being lazy, casual run, hang time with friends, homemade dinners, and more sleep. Even though I'm training, I manage to get PLENTY of sleep on the weekends. However, before this weekend even began I knew it wouldn't be the usual routine. Mom called me on Monday asking me to go with her to Camp Lejeune to visit my cousin James before he leaves for Afghanistan. "Of course I want to go!" I said. So Mom came up to Raleigh on Friday night and we planned to leave early Saturday morning for Camp Lejeune.

Well according to my half-marathon training program, I had to run 2.5 miles on Saturday. Looked like the only way I was going to be able to fit that in was to wake up early and run. So there I was on a Saturday, listening to my alarm going off at 7am....did I mention it was Saturday? I slowly crept out of bed, put on my running gear, and hit the streets. This was the first time I successfully woke up to run early in the morning. The first mile was pretty rough because I kept leaning to the right side of the sidewalk. I'm thinking this is because I wasn't really awake yet and basically sleeping/running the first mile. However, after that, I felt great! It felt so good to get it out of the way and have the rest of the day to have fun.

Mom and I hit the road to Jacksonville and had a great time chit-chatting in the car. Unfortunately, chit-chatting distracted me from monitoring the speedometer and now I have a speeding ticket and a court date. Oh well! On the bright side - It was so nice to see James and the family before he leaves. We made burgers at his house and then visited downtown Wilmington for the day to walk around. It was so beautiful! Below are some fun pictures from our visit.

James and I :) Thank you for defending our freedom.

We left early Sunday so that I could get back to Chapel Hill/Raleigh at a reasonable time to get my long run in for the week - 5 miles! I was so excited to run this. The best part about my training program is that it steadily works in the miles and gives you mini victories each day. I feel so much stronger every time I run and feel on top of the world to say the least. I planned to run it in Chapel Hill because it's my favorite place to run. It's such a beautiful town and always gives you little challenges throughout with all the hills. I began my run at the bottom of Hillsborough street and MLK. I was so anxious to begin running that I forgot my iPod! I was halfway up the hill and realized I didn't have any encouraging music to keep me going. I was only .5 miles into it. My mind was racing to come up with ideas and topics to think about for the remaining 4.5 miles. However, I quickly realized I was happy just focusing on the run itself and felt great the whole time! Sure from time to time I was thinking "One foot in front of the foot in front of the other..." but in general I felt like I was cruising throughout the whole thing. Below is the route I ran on Sunday. Justin let me borrow his awesome Garmin watch (I want one for my birthday...hint! hint!). This watch is so cool because it shows you your routes, your splits, times and I'm sure some more things that I don't even know about yet!

Here's a picture of my 5 mile route and summary of my run (note: according to my splits, my best pace was 7:36. Hopefully this sounds a little bit better than my average pace, which has clear room for improvement, but it works for me :)

Click here for more details about my splits, pace and route.

Monday was a rest day and it felt pretty weird to come home and not have to do anything. When I was walking to my car Tuesday morning, I knew it wouldn't be a motivating day. It was cloudy and there was a light shower in the morning. It's so easy to be motivated to run when it's in the mid 60s and sunny. Tuesday was the first day I dreaded running. Thankfully, my trusty running partner, Stacey, got me going. We met after work and vented about how bad we didn't want to run in the freezing 40 something degree weather. However, once we hit the road we felt great! It is so much fun and so much easier to run with somebody who is on the same level as you. I felt like I wasn't even really working out. The beginning of the run was pretty scary. We started out on Estes, which doesn't have a legit sidewalk, is dark and you're literally running for your life because you're continuously being blinded by cars and could fall into a hole at any moment - not to mention get hit by a car because they're only 2 feet to the right. Nonetheless we were so happy we ran our 4 miles for the day and actually ended up running 4.27!

Below is the route we ran Tuesday night (sorry it's kind of small!):

Today is my crosstraining day so Elisabeth, Stacey and I are attending a 60 minute RealCycle class at HEAT Studios. I'm so excited! And a little nervous that I'm going to be hurting during tomorrow's 4 mile run. HEAT Studios looks so intense and has some highly trained athletes as instructors. There is no membership and you only pay by the session. Currently, they have a free week of cycling classes so I signed up for this Wednesday and next Wednesday evening. I'm excited to check the place out and hopefully will sign up for some other strength training classes in the future. They have one class called Ballet Burn that looks like so much fun, but yet again, intense. I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Smile of the Day:
How great I felt after running the 4 miles last night that I didn't want to do originally. It's funny how you can dread working out, but once you get going, it feels so good! Can anybody else relate to this feeling?

"Running has an uncanny ability to mellow the soul, to take the edge of hard feelings, and put things back into health perspective." - Dean Karnazes

Songs on my Pandora today that are worthy of honorable mention:
"Secret Garden" by Bruce Springsteen
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by IZ
"To Make You Feel My Love" by Mick McAuley & Winifred Horan
"Fields of Gold" by Eva Cassidy

Friday, February 18, 2011

Photo Memory of the Week

"OMG. Spring Break 08!!" was the phrase we kept saying in preparation for our road trip to Wilmington. This photo popped in my head this morning as I was on my way to work driving my mom's hand-me-down car that she had loaned us for that weekend. We laughed so hard the whole trip and had an absolute blast together! If anyone knows Brittney, you know that she is the funniest person you have ever met. We especially laughed so hard over this picture because we looked like power rangers with little heads popping out of our suits. Best spring break ever!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Things First: Me

Hello world!

I am still alive! I've been so on the go with work and everything in between that I really haven't spent much time taking care of myself. It sure has been exhausting, but I'm ready to do the things that make me happy and follow through with my plans. Whew - feels good to say that!

The first "me thing" on my agenda for this year is running! What I'm most excited about at the moment is my new half-marathon training plan. And the best part about it is that I don't even have a half-marathon to run at the end of it! I just want to be able to run 13+ miles and feel good. I'm doing it for myself!

I'm following this simple training schedule my friend Stacey shared with me. She's currently blogging about her experiences training. I enjoy reading her blog since we're both on the same schedule. It helps keep me motivated knowing somebody else is going through the same obstacles.

I do have one race planned, which I'm beyond excited to run. It's the Wachovia Tar Heel 10 Miler on April 9th. It's supposed to showcase the beauty of Chapel Hill's community. Chapel Hill is by far my favorite place to run. It puts me in such a good mood to run through Carrboro and then pass the charming southern homes that line Franklin Street. Did I mention I'm excited to do this run? Also, there is a half-marathon the week after in Charlotte, which I think I'm going to do, but right now I'm on a kick where I don't want to have to do it...I just want to do it. I'll probably be one of those last minute applicants who sign up the week or night before the race. However, if I sign up early I get a dry fit shirt compared to a cotton shirt if I wait. Hmmmm...decisions...decisions. Another reason to just do it is because I really want a medal!

My next "me thing" is to really try and save my money. It's hard to save when you don't have much to work with, but nonetheless I'm going to try! Justin said to me the other day, "You're not good at budgeting your money are you?" My response: "I am! I just need more money to budget." The best tool to help me with this is It's such a great website to help you pull all your finances (ie. loans, credit cards, checking account, etc.) into one place. It sets goals and tells you how you can improve your savings or it creates a plan to help you pay off that dreaded credit card. I highly recommend you check it out!

My final "me thing" that is going to be hard to make time for is reading. I would like to complete at least one book a month (baby steps). I really enjoy books that help you refocus and improve yourself (ie. Eat Pray Love or The Road Less Traveled). I really want to read George Bush's book Decision Points to help me understand the challenges he faced in his presidency and give me some legit ammunition in my political debates. Maybe this will help me balance out my bias to Obama after reading both of this books.

Either way, I'm going to start using this blog as a tool to keep me accountable for my goals as well as share stories that make me smile and hopefully motivate others to see the glass half full!

My smile of the day:

Finding out the awesome news that I'm going to see Taylor Swift in concert this summer because my friend Steph's mom pre-ordered us tickets!!!!