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I need to be a triathlon training couch potato…can you help?

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.56.56 AMSo! I’m training for an Olympic Distance Triathlon which has a 26-mile long bike. Since Donnie gets dibs on times mornings for his daily workouts, I do 99% of my bike rides on the trainer. (A base that turns your bike into a spin bike, basically.) I finished the first season of The 100 for the first stretch of the season, but at 5’ish hours a week, that was over quick. I tried to watch Salem because I heard about it through Nerdist, but it’s REALLY gory for a Puritan-era drama. Witches back then needed lots of blood and nudity for their spells, evidently, and that’s not idea on the trainer.

I need something that I have at least a full season of. Remember – I’m not a fan of grown-up shows. I fast forward through a lot of stuff which I can’t do on a trainer. It needs to be mild enough that I can just leave it going, but it also needs to be entertaining enough to keep me distracted.

I would love to watch the second season of The 100 but since it’s still so new, it’s almost $4 an episode and I can’t hang with paying that much. If you recommend a TV show enough, I don’t mind paying $25 for a season of it or so, but I don’t want to pay much more than that.

OR! even good movies that are out right now on Amazon Prime? They need to be the “free” ones because I don’t want to spend $5 entertaining myself for a 2-hour bike ride.

SO! What are your recommendations? I watch on my laptop while I ride…so really Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, and Amazon Prime are all options!

Posted this pic to the interwebs after a tough workout on Saturday.

Making That First Step Mandatory

One of the truths about running I’ve proselytized the most is this one: “The hardest step is the first one out the door.” And I stand by this 100%, but I’ve decided that maybe the attack method for making that hardest step, the one out the door, should be more than just…well…taking the step out the door. And of course I’m using “step” to mean spin or lap in the pool too since it’s tri season so I’m doing lots of types of “first step out that door.”

I AM REALLY HOPING THIS WILL MAKE SENSE EVENTUALLY.

What I mean is that, there are things I’ve been doing lately to hold myself accountable for my workouts so that – when it comes time to take that step out the door – I actually have no choice in the matter. Therefore, the step out the door is not difficult at all! We’ve removed the “hardest step” from the equation!

See, in the past, when it comes time to take that first step (often the problems start with waking up for that step, but same issue) – I just keep telling myself: You have to just do it. Once you get your workout gear on and take that first step, or spin on the bike, or lap in the pool…THEN…if you want to quit you can. Just do the first one. And while some days I might cut a workout short, I never stop after that first step or first spin or first lap. Once you get that first “step” done, you usually keep going for a bit.

I conquered the metaphorical step when it got time for that step.

But you know? It didn’t always work. I skipped many workouts over the last year because I just couldn’t/wouldn’t make that first step.

SO! This last few weeks I’ve been trying to remove any options to skip that step. I’m trying to basically make that first step as mandatory as showing up for work. FOR EXAMPLE.

  • I talk up an upcoming workout as much as possible so that I know someone knows I’m supposed to workout. Maybe I mention to my boss, “I may be a few minutes late tomorrow because I have to do a 5-mile run before work.” Or maybe I post something to Instagram like my workout gear laid out for the next morning. Sometimes it’s just telling the kids, “We’ll watch a movie after my swim.” I reference that workout as much as possible so that part of me KNOWS that other people KNOW that I’m supposed to get that workout in.
  • Make a physical calendar. This one is hard for me because my schedule is so dependent on Donnie’s. If he has a run or a bike on the road (he’s nursing a shoulder injury so not swimming right now) I’m stuck on the bike trainer in the morning or I have to do an evening workout. (Which I hate.) BUT! I do my best to actually write down the upcoming workouts so that there is a piece of paper (sometimes one that I post to Instagram applying the previous bullet point simultaneously) that binds me to a workout.
  • Log a workout. I’m not a data junkie. I don’t have a GPS watch or a heartrate monitor and I just finally bought a bike computer mainly because I’m on the bike trainer so much I need a way to monitor my efforts for a workout. So I don’t have an actual log anywhere of my workout. BUT! I write them in my bullet journal. Sometimes I try to see how long of a stretch I can make with consecutive workouts. Sometimes I’m just seeing how many miles I can run in a month. Sometimes I just like the way it looks. Either way, I know if I’m going to write it down afterwards, then it HAS TO HAPPEN.
  • Make other people’s schedules work around your workout. This sounds selfish, but what I mean is that – if you have to plan something with someone and you’re picking a time, try to make it so that you are doing it “after” your workout so that part of you feels like the schedule was made to suit you so you should do what you said you were going to. For example, I met someone for a movie one weekend and I said, “Well, let’s go after lunch because I have a long run.” This meant that part of me felt obligated to do the workout since we had shifted from a 10:30am movie just for my run. This really works for Donnie and I because so many days we’re tag teaming workouts. Like, Sunday he had a 90 minute ride. So, I planned to be off the bike trainer to start my run as soon as he was done. If he had gone through the effort to get up really early so that I could avoid running in the heat, then I was – most definitely – going to make it to my workout. When you know someone else worked their schedule around your workout? You’ll stick to it.
  • Brag. I posted this pic to the interwebs after a tough workout on Saturday. Sometimes letting myself brag about a workout is the only thing that gets me to do it in the first place. Posted this pic to the interwebs after a tough workout on Saturday.
  • The easiest: Group workouts. Make plans to workout/run WITH someone else. This is the easiest way to avoid the First Step Dilemma. If someone is waiting on you? You have no choice but to make that step.

I’ve not been really disciplined the last year, life just seemed to take a turn for the KRAZEE PANTS with new jobs and selling house etc. And I haven’t adapted well. So! Trying to find ways to hold myself accountable in an effort to make that first step almost feel mandatory? That’s become essential if I’m going to succeed in any of my goals.

Do you have ways you make that first step mandatory? Do you have groups waiting on you? Or do you post all of your workouts to Facebook like I do?

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

An Ode To Friends Who Don’t Mind Getting Muddy

My running buddy, Chelsea, posted this John Muir quote on Facebook and it is basically the motto of our Sunday morning No Runner Left Behind trail group. (Minus the glaciers. We don’t get many of those around here.)

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
— Quoted from Muir Journals (undated fragment, c. 1871) by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir (1945) page 144.

It’s funny. The two of us started that group last Spring with another friend because it occurred to us that maybe there were other runners like us out there – wanting to run trails but not trying to beat any sort of time or clock. There are some pretty fast/elite trail running groups but if you don’t know the trails, and if you’re slow, you could easily get left behind and not know where you are. So, we posted in a local facebook group that we were training for McKay 25K and offered to provide a sweeper if anyone wanted to join us.

And it took off!

The funny thing is, we get quite a variety of participants. We get some newbies that have never touched a trail before and who never come back again. We get some newbies who love it so much they sign up for races the next week. We get some elites who like the casualness and goofiness of our runs, and often do their “hard” run on Saturday so Sunday gives them some fun time. Sometimes we have 30 people and we get stressed out because we get SO SPREAD OUT, and other times there’s only 6 or 7 of us and we ended up taking 40 million photos along the way.

We don’t do the group during the warm weather for several reason, but the group shrinks so much after our last big trail race in March it always feels like a good time to take our break and this past Sunday was our last group.

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

The storms the night before made waterfalls in places labeled “dry falls” on maps. And because it was warm, something we never get to enjoy on these Sunday runs, we took the opportunity to play in the falls. Or local photographer phenom – Gregg Gelmis – brought his waterproof camera out, hoping for some fun shots. Dry creek beds were like small rivers as we held on to rocks trying not to get swept away. Puddles were calf deep and trails were flooded. It was SO MUCH FUN. A great way to end the season for our fantastic group.

10439399_990553760956711_7876042342987877320_nAnd holy crap, it was good for my soul. Did I wake up every day since and have perfect days with no anxiety or stress? No. But did I wake up remembering that behind all of that sucky stuff there’s a layer of awesome in my life I need to never forget? YES. I HAVE FRIENDS WHO WILL PLAY IN THE MUD WITH ME. This is something every adult (who likes to play in the mud, I guess) needs in their life. Go. Find friends who will stand under waterfalls with you.

Our group ranges in ages from 20’ish to 60’ish on an average weekend. We have guys and girls. Fast and Slow. Newbies and Veterans. Conservatives and Liberals. Parents, Grandparents, and the Childfree. We live in all parts of the area, some of us (me) driving 25+ minutes to get to our precious mountain every Sunday. We are a wonderful mix of people who might not come together in any other circumstance, but we celebrate our camaraderie on Sundays in the woods and go home happy and covered in Mud.

I’m going to miss these guys. I’ll be counting down the Sundays until October.

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

As always - thanks to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville for the photos. (This one doesn't have the logo because I purchased it! I love it so much!)

Fourth Go At The Race That Started It All

In March of 2012, after training with my first running group for months, I had a go at my first trail race. It was the McKay Hollow Madness 25K and we all found out that maybe that wasn’t the best race to be our first, each time we told someone it was going to be.

“You know it has the word ‘madness’ in the title, right?”

Training with my small group for that race is still something I hold dear to my heart. Those friends helped build my confidence over those few months, making me feel like I could take on bigger things eventually. I highly recommend trail running groups if you’re a newbie. Every time you fall you can feel your confidence wash away and you need people around you to remind you that A) they fall too and B) you miss out on some amazing adventures if you don’t get up and keep running.

I was going over my old race report and it had me thinking about two things.

  1. Kim of 2012 talked a lot about the mud during the part of Natural Well that takes you to the finish line. Kim of 2012 would shit a brick if she sow how muddy I’ve seen the other 13 miles the last few weeks. Kim of 2015 wishes that would be the only muddy part this year.
  2. I don’t remember writing this part: “I teared up because I was so proud but trail runners are NOT the crying type so I sucked it in and pushed towards the finish.” But it cracked me up because I obviously didn’t care at the finish line at Mountain Mist this year.

However, when I read the race report from 2013, I do remember how I wanted to back out. I distinctly remember looking around and seeing my friends who were there for their first attempt and thinking I’ve done this already, I have nothing to prove. I can go home. I think about that often when I’m miserable before a race – or even during a race. That, in the end, it can still be a great day. The “pre-race” hour or so can be so miserable if the weather is bad. It’s hard to convince yourself you’ll warm up. Especially if it’s raining. But I think about that day often and remind myself that weather can be dealt with. Lost experiences can not.

Then, of course, there was last year, the year I finally beat the 4-hour goal I had been trying to beat for years. That was a good day. It got hot and I probably pushed myself at the wrong times, but it was a good day. And I made that goal with the added few challenges they put in that year to make up for the removal of another challenge.

And tomorrow is Go #4. As with everything since Mountain Mist, I don’t feel very trained as my body basically fell apart the second the Grand Slam was over, but this race is like my childhood friends. Sometimes we’ve not talked a lot and I worry it will be awkward but then we’re together five minutes and I feel my spirit recharged because we know each other so well.

This was something I wrote at the end of my first McKay race report:

Many trail runners say that it’s addicting. If you’ve made it to run an actual trail race, then you’re probably hooked for life. And I can totally see that. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s messy, and it makes you overlook the fact that you might be having a stroke.

I don’t trail run in the summer due to Donnie’s summer schedule and my allergies to poison ivy and my fear of snakes – but for six months out of a year it is what keeps me going every week. I’ve had a rough couple of months and many weekends have come and I’ve thought If it weren’t for these trail runs, I’d be spending money on therapy and medications right now. They are the only thing that have kept me close to sane as I’ve had some weird cycles of grief and stress waving in.

So, I’ll go again tomorrow. Because this was the race that started it all and I can’t miss it, not for anything.

Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis

Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis

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Delano 12-Hour Race Report

Do a shot every time you read the phrase: WOEFULLY UNDERTRAINED.

So! Going into this race I was woefully undertrained. I hadn’t run more than, maybe 50 miles since my last 50K in January. I hadn’t run on a weekday since before that race and my longest run was 15 miles and I had done it the week before.

Woefully undertrained.

But! I’ve learned something over the years of this running journey, and that’s that my body is capable of more than it ever seems my mind is willing to accept. So, I figured I’d show up, and just run until I felt like leaving. Now, I’d be sore as hell because of the “(woefully) undertrained” part of the equation, but I could still run/walk most of the day, I was certain.

The day before the race, my friend Chelsea texted that she feared she may be the only person on her relay team that would be there on race day. She indicated that if this happened, she’d just run with me for as long as she could handle it, and suddenly? I was much more inspired to stick with it. I have a stage race next month so I decided I should do at least 31 miles in preparation for that and so I could at least get a 50K sign for my plaque. But, I knew it could take me all day, even though my best 50K time this year (on trails with substantial elevation gain/loss) was like 6:20. I knew I was woefully undertrained, but I could walk a 50K even at this baseline of fitness.

So! I showed up at the very cold start thinking I’d do at least a 50K, no matter how long it took me.

OH! I also had an event I needed to attend that night that started at 6pm. The race (which was in Decatur) ended at 6pm, but the event was back in Huntsville. So, if it took me until 6pm to make my goal, I’d have to just go without a shower and I’d still be an hour late.

Chelsea’s team did end up showing up, but with no desire to run any more than they had to. So, she still was hoping to at least do a marathon+ of 27 miles. We started out together and ran a few miles, and then her relay team would run some and I’d listen to Harry Potter. Then we’d run some more together, and then her relay team would run. I feel like the majority of the day she was feeling better than I was. I hit a bad spot around mile 18 when I had slipped in some mud and twinged my groin again. It hurt for about 2 miles and I panicked a bit, but then it subsided and my usual long-run back problems set in.

I decided to take some Ibuprofen and walk a lap or two and reevaluate my “goals” for the day. I was still running more than walking, for sure, but my back was KILLING me and I just didn’t see how I could last hours longer. I walked two miles solid and finally the ibuprofen kicked in and I started feeling MUCH better. Chelsea was feeling good about her 26.2+ goal too so we had some solid miles together as the halfway point approached.

We were taking these designated walk breaks though. Blue garbage can to White garbage can. Tree #1 to Tree #3. Knobble tree to Fence. There were designated short stretches that were “uphill” (The entire 1-mile loop only has a gain/loss of 15 feet – none of the “hills” are that substantial…until you get to mile 15. Then they’re all Everest.) but those walk breaks were the only thing keeping me going. My body was doing okay, save for a couple of blisters, but my breathing was strained. Those stretches of running felt like sprints and every walk break came with me catching my breath. Another reminder of how woefully undertrained I was.

The one thing that’s great about this race is that you spend all day running with the elite runners. I usually only see them at the start line, but this race? They’re all either doing 50 (which will keep them there over half of the day) or the full 12 hour run, and since they’re faster than me, I see them often. It’s my favorite thing about this race and the reason I’ll probably do it every year. There’s a kinship by the end of the day, and I love sharing that kinship with the elite runners in my community. We all wave to each other and mutter “Good Job!” when we can. Saturday was no different and one of the things that kept me out there all day – even (wait for it…) woefully undertrained.

Another friend showed up at lunch at ran 5 miles or so with us and that was a GREAT break for the humdrum of running/walking/shaking out shoes. And that got me past my 50K mark in PLENTY of time to shoot for 40 miles and STILL leave early for the party. This was also good as I turn 40 this year, so doing 40 miles just felt right. My friend Chelsea had decided she had plenty of time to do her first 5OK so we were settling in to our new goals for the day. My last several miles were probably half walking, half running, BUT I WAS STILL RUNNING SOME. And for that? I was really proud. One of Chelsea’s teammates even ran/walked two with me. When you’re circling the same mile over and over again? Any change in company is welcome.

I finally hit the 40 mile mark and basked in the fact that I was SO undertrained that I was going to be SO sore the next day. But still! 40 miles! Chelsea still had several to go for her 50K so I ended up walking a few with her too. My walk, however, was MUCH slower than hers and she was worried about the 12 hour cutoff so I ditched her for her last two miles and she ran/walked them with her husband.

She crossed the finish line having ACCIDENTALLY done her first 50K – something most people dread and suffer sleepless nights over for weeks. It was awesome. I ended up with 44 miles total for my day. And I still was able to leave in time to shower and still only be an hour late for our shindig that night.

All in all? A great day because I had great company. This race is one I’ll always do, especially since I proved to myself this year I can always do at least 40 – no matter how woefully undertrained I am. I don’t know if it would have been as fun without Chelsea, though. She’s always been one of my favorite running buddies and the kind of person you can’t get sick of even after 12 hours. And there is no doubt that with a 12-hour race? Misery does love company.