January 19, 2015

Recharge your resolutions

Hey winners, you have a couple more days to win a Spartan race entry. Go here to enter


Confession: I'm addicted to resolutions. I operate better when I have some pressing need or goal. When I say "operate better," I mean that I make something a priority when it is glaring at me with its neediness/goaliness. So I set resolutions, lots of resolutions. And I read them about once a month to remind myself that there is a nagging goal written down that wants me to make some forward progress.

January, of course, is prime resolution time, but I like setting goals all year, and I see my to-do list as more of a goal list. It makes you feel more accomplished that way. Like, I reached my goal today...of cleaning the toilet. Seems so much more exciting when you call it a "goal." 

All of this to say, my most standout goals for the month of January were to eat clean for this month and to start running again in a responsible, care-free manner. 

As far as eating goes, I thought I was going to do the Whole30 plan, but then I merged it with another cleanse that I tried a long time ago with Prescribe Nutrition. What does that mean? It means I eat some grains, beans, honey, and stevia. So not completely Whole30, maybe more like Partial30, but AwholelotbetterthanIwaseatingbefore30. We are actually finishing piles of fruits and veggies, instead of guiltily watching them wilt to unedible-ness. 

With this revival of healthier eating, I've been tweaking what I eat on long runs to see if I can come up with some healthier alternatives. This week I ran with water and a couple packs of Mamma Chia. Plus I had a Lara Bar in the car for post-workout fuel. 

While I love Mamma Chia, two packs was not enough to sustain three hours of running. Even if they were slow hours. I was starving by the time I finished and very glad to have that back-up Lara Bar snack. And there is no way that I could have gotten away with running on that during the summer, because of no electrolyte replacements in any of the food I brought. Winter is so good and bad that way. Only bad because you untrain yourself from what you learned the hard way during the summer.

And in case you are wondering why the run was so slow, somehow the leader (not naming any names *points to self*) veered everyone off course looking for a new trail.

Just another opportunity to be present.

Along with a refreshing run in pretty much perfect run weather, I got to see the most beautiful sunrise that progressed the closer I got to where we were meeting at Ruffner Mountain. 

I like to see my goals like that sunrise run, starting out in the dark and cold and having to use your flashlight to cut through the dark, but as you progress, little by little, like an artist slowly fills in a canvas, the picture of what you are capable of becomes clearer and clearer until the end result is even better than you could have imagined. And then the cycle begins again. Because learning, growing, making mistakes, and living are never finished.

Yesterday, we celebrated the end of one training cycle with the finale party for the Southeastern Trail Series party. It's interesting hanging out with runners in large (or small) groups because this is where crazy ideas start to brew. Like, sure, you should run Lake Martin 100 in two months. Huh? << you say. That's what I said too. But still, it planted a seed. But in keeping with my second goal, to run responsibly, I will push myself to be cautious.

Getting ready for award ceremony. Too many people to fit!

My party buddy since high school, Jimmay (aka big brother).

Tell us about a goal that you are still keeping? I can't believe I haven't eaten any Hint of Lime chips in over two weeks. 

And what about one that isn't going so well? Ok, I swear that I am updating our will this week. Practical goals still need to be done as much as the fun ones. 

Most beautiful site on a run lately? Other than that amazing sunrise, the crushers at Ruffner are pretty dang cool too. 

January 13, 2015

Be Spartan (and win a race entry!)

For the past month I've been taking two kinds of breaks: running and writing. Both with the hope that rest will lead to improved performance down the road. And if that didn't work, at least I felt less rushed in these moments.

Surviving the pre-Christmas flu.

Finally throwing out the last of the baby gear.
For the motorbike fans -- homemade twin engine onesies.

Laughing at wild hair during family photos. 

Wearing lipstick.

Browsing old family photos. Can you find little me? And yes, that's my dad with the full perm.

From my last race in November through December, I ran four times, for a grand total of 26 miles. Not bad for four runs! But one of those runs was 13 miles to help my friend finish her first marathon at St. Jude's in Memphis.

And this is how it went: 

Lots of hopefulness to finish. Did I mention that she didn't train for this? When I say "didn't train," I mean that her longest run was a 20 miler sometime back in May. So she was going to push through with her strong will and natural abilities. Luckily, she has a lot of both. I would never recommend doing this, but if a friend calls me and needs my support in accomplishing a ridiculous dream, I'm there. 

For the most part, she felt good and ran. And ran and ran.

And she only had a few moments like this somewhere after mile 20. (Don't kill me for posting this picture!)

So can you run a marathon with virtually no training? We found out that it is not impossible, but your results are much more desirable with training. I would not be surprised that if she trained she could run her next marathon an hour faster than this one. And that's how PRs are born!

What have you done lately to challenge yourself in a new way? Over Christmas I challenged myself to try all the eggnogs and drink nog instead of water. AKA, the Gain Nine Pounds in Two Weeks Plan. For real, I did a blind taste test with my family during our Christmas reunion. And in case you are interested in the results, Horizon was my favorite -- over Southern Comfort even. Although the rest of my family loved Southern Comfort.

My top eggnog pick!

The absolute worst was Bolthouse. They were just wrong for that. For some reason they added carrot juice to the mix. Why don't you just burn the flag and vandalize baby Jesus at your local church's nativity while you're at it, Bolthouse?

Never drink this!

But other than coating your arteries with eggnog, what other challenges are you taking on this year?

What about Spartan?

The race that looks like this.

And this. 

And a little more of this. 

They contacted me recently, and though I'm usually trying to avoid obstacles on trails (especially snakes), I have to admit that this obstacle race looks like a blast! Bonus: I did not see a single picture of a snake pit. Basically, this is the best excuse you will find to go roll around in mud for a few hours. 

And then I watched this video, which you also need to watch. The narrator is amazing, like listening to Friday Night Lights Coach Taylor give his championship game speeches. A little laughing, a little crying, and a whole lotta get off your butt and do something-ing.

For my Alabama friends who are starting to consider the idea, they have a race coming up in Alabama this October, plenty of time to get trained up. 

The Super is an 8+-mile course with more than 20 obstacles. 

But for the beastliest, they have a Spartan Ultra Beast in Lake Tahoe. That's 26+ miles and over 50 obstacles. Um, yes, please. 

And for the slightly less insane who need to be able to function at work the following Monday, they have the Sprint events, around 3 miles with obstacles. 

But wait, wait, wait. They also have a Spartan cruise! I am not making this up. Why has no one else thought of this before now?! Unlimited food and running -- pretty much every runner's dream.

Check out their newsroom for info on races, season passes, and a brand new "Spartan UP!" podcast with Joe Desena. Spartan UP! is also hosting some great contests, so check them out here (<<click that). 

If you want to go ahead and register for a race, use the code SPARTANBLOGGER to save 10%.

**Edit: Just found out that they also just came out with a 50% (that's huge!) discount on their Spartan cruise. Use the code just CRUISE50.  

Who's in? 

Well at least one of you will be because I have a code for a free race entry. Check out the Rafflecopter below for details.