Category Archives: Just Chatting

Enjoying the Run (and more) when the Break is Finally Over

Ok… so I have been absent for a really long time.  January 2016 was my last post on this blog, and it was such a negative post.  I would like to say that the past 20 months were easy and that I pulled out of this downward spiral with no problem, but it didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, I got to the point that I quit running and working out all together.  I stopped eating right, got overly sedentary, gained 20 pounds and lost my fitness.

But that’s not the end.  It does get better, even though it took a while for me to get myself together.  I started a new job in August 2016… my dream job.  I became a college professor.  I am now the Assistant Professor of Marketing at West Virginia Wesleyan College. I couldn’t be more excited.  But it was also very challenging.  Between learning this new job, prepping for classes and working on my doctorate, there just was no time for running.  I gave in.

At mid-year, I decided to take a three-month hiatus from my doctorate to get better settled into the new job.  It was the best move I could make. The year went well, and by the end of it, I was more organized and prepared for classes.  After I got the year closed out and finished some projects over the first part of summer, I decided to hit the trail again.

It was tough…. I was starting over.  I couldn’t even run a mile without taking walking breaks.  I was angry and disappointed at myself for letting this happen.  But I was determined to keep moving forward.  I was determined to carve out some time at least three time a week for some kind of workout, but would shoot for five if possible.

That was two months ago.  Yesterday I ran 4.9 miles… to celebrate my 49th birthday. 🙂 Not only am I running now, but I got my old bike out and started bike riding, too. I’m waiting to get a new bike from Fat Tire Cycles, and should be riding it in the next couple of weeks. (I’m so excited!!) My husband and I purchased kayaks this summer, and we fell in love with kayaking and fishing on the nearby lake or river.  I try to squeeze in at least one to two power yoga workouts each week as well.  (My balance is in dyer need of it, for sure!!) This summer, we’ve also went horseback riding and hiking.  I have so much energy now.  I feel great, and I can’t wait to get home to throw on some kicks, jump on the bike or stretch out on the mat.

What’s the purpose of this whole post? I’m just here to tell you not to give up.  It’s so easy when we feel down, when life gets in the way and keeps us from doing what we want to do.  But it’s OK!! Sometimes, we just need to let life have it’s way and tell ourselves that we will get back to doing what we love.  Maybe we don’t completely quit, but just settle for easing back a little until life settles down.

If you are where I just came from, don’t give up! Hang in there and trust that everything will work out.  If you need a break… breathe, rest, reorganize and the GO!! #EnjoyTheRun

start again

Advertisements

Hopelessly Spiraling Downward

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 18 months since my last post.  My how my life have made some radical changes in such as short period of time.  My last post talked about my son in his senior year in high school.  Little did I know that boy would end up joining the Navy like his big sister, Katie.  So now I proudly have two sailors in the family.  I’m sure you will hear more about them and their eldest sister, Brittany and her husband, Adrian.  I can’t help talk about my kids… they are my pride and joy.

2015 saw a lot of changes for me including some time management challenges that really hurt my running.  We’ve been working on building a new church since late-2013, so every single Saturday (and a lot of evenings after work) was spent working on the building.  It cut into my running time a lot and kept me from enjoying a lot of Saturday races.

Then, in June 2015, I enrolled in Northcentral University and started on my Doctorate of Business Administration.  I had forgotten just how much time one had to devote to research, reading and writing when pursuing a graduate degree, but I was quickly reminded early in the first class.  Unfortunately, it absolutely demolished my running time.  I had also started lifting weights with some co-workers three mornings a week to add to my running training.  However, the late nights studying and writing research papers left me too exhausted to get up at 5:00am for the early morning lifts or runs.

To add to the mix, working 45+ hours a week at a stressful job didn’t help.  And then I faced the heartbreaking challenges of having one sailor deployed for over nine months and traveling around the world on the aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and my other sailor (my baby and only son) leave for Navy boot camp and being away from home for longest stretch of his young life.

So I watched my workouts slowly fade.  I went from running 100-mile months to almost no miles at all…. to running 15-mile long runs on Sunday to being lucky if I could get in at least one short 2-miler during the week.  Lifting became non existent.  I lost all my muscle tone, strength and endurance.  I quickly lost weight from the loss of muscle, but then started to watch the scales go back up as the tummy fat took over.  My diet consisted of overeating of junk food filled with fat and calories, and worst of all…. I had started smoking again.  I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.  I was unhappy in my skin and did not like the person, both the flabby physique and poor attitude, that kept looking back at me in the mirror.  I looked into eyes of disgust, frustration and defeat.  I was hopelessly spiraling downward quickly.

Arrow-Blue-20I knew I had to make changes, so I set out to re-evaluate my training, my mind, my life and my soul.  Something had to change if I were to get myself back on track.  I felt like I was in one of those dreams where you’re running as hard and as fast as you can, but you realize you’re actually running in slow motion….. feeling like you’re running in water…. and getting nowhere fast.  I was slowly dying inside in more ways than one.  I felt lost on the trail with no hope of ever making it to the finish line.  Something had to change… and it had to change quickly.

Have you ever felt like you were in that running dream…. heavy, slow and motionless??  When too many things were crashing down on you and you couldn’t run away??

How did you handle it?  My next post will share some of the things I did to pull myself back up, straighten out my life and get back to doing what I loved to do….. run.

Check back in soon to read my resolutions.  Until then…. enjoy the run!!

 

Snow Running

In the United States a phenomenon occurs that we call “Winter.”  For those of us in the northern part of the US, Winter consists of cold temperatures, snow, ice and wind.  Here in West Virginia, Winter has been reoccurring for as long as I can remember.  And after reading the history books, it sounds like Winter has actually been around these parts for centuries.  Nevertheless, people still seem to be amazed when Winter hits, especially when it hits in its fullest fury.  Schools close, church services are cancelled, roads are impassable, wrecking crews make boocoos of money, and snowmen emerge from the drifts.  But just because it’s snowing and blowing outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the fun has to stop….  people find fun ways to enjoy Winter with ice skating, sled riding, snow skiing, snow boarding and snow tubing.  And for us runners, there is Snow Running.

if-you-wait-for-conditions

Don’t confuse that with “No Running”… it’s “Snow Running.”  Last Winter was my first time trying out Snow Running, and I fell in love with it one the first run.  There’s just something so peaceful and immaculate about being a part of a wintry landscape.  The air is brisk and clean; frigid to the nostrils and lungs…. the sound of snow crunching under each step creates a rhythmic echo that breaks the solitude of the landscape…. the sunshine reflecting off the snow is blinding to the eye but warming to the heart…. the feelings, sights and sounds of Winter is almost indescribable and nothing like any other season.

Winter is a sight to behold, physically, mentally and spiritually, but it requires some precaution and extra preparation for Snow Running.  After experiencing running in these elements myself, and researching it through other blogs, fellow runners, virtual running groups and etc., I thought I would share some of the strategies I use to have successful Snow Runs.

SAFETY FIRST!!

I run a lot on narrow country roads where there’s not much (if any) berm on which to run.  Sometimes, there’s absolutely nowhere to go if one car is coming, nevermind if there are two cars passing each other.  So I have to really consider if and when it’s safe to even run on these roads.  If you run on/next to roads, you have to consider the ability of drivers to maintain control of their vehicles when passing you.  If there’s a chance they can lose control and wreck, or you’re not able to get out of the way quickly and safely, then you may want to consider a different route that’s safer, or an alternative such as the treadmill or an indoor track.  If you run on sidewalks, remember to keep an eye out for ice, and be leery of the possibility of ice hidden under snow.  Slipping and falling onto hard concrete could put a quick end to your running.

 

DRESS THE PART

Consider the temperatures and dress accordingly.  Dressing in layers allows air to be trapped between layers that will actually help insulate you from the frigid temps.balaclava  Plus, if you get too warm, it makes it easier to take off a layer.  Personally, I think it’s just as bad (if not worse) to be overheated, than it is to be too cold.  Keep your hands, ears and toes well covered and insulated.  The greatest percentage of heat goes out the head, so wearing a hat will help keep you warm.  Although I haven’t tried it yet, I know a lot of runners who wear balclavas to keep their face warm and help with their breathing.

Speaking of hats, one thing I always do when it’s snowing is wear a baseball cap with a bill to keep the snow out of my eyes and block the wind from my face.  If it’s cold, I’ll wear a head band around my ears to keep them warm.  I hate when my ears get cold.

 

DITCH THE MUSIC

I love to run with music…. I run with it almost all the time, even races.  But there are two times that I ditch the music… at night and on bad snowy days.   I don’t listen to music at night because I want to listen for possible attackers (both men and animals) because I can’t see them as well.  When Snow Running, especially along roads, it’s important to keep an ear open to listen for traffic.  At the very least, wear only one earbud in the ear that’s away from the road keeping the ear next to the road open so you can hear better.

Although I recommend ditching the music, I recommend carrying your cell phone with you.  You never know when you may need help, and having the ability to call someone is convenient and smart.  When it’s cold, however, keep in mind that cell phones will freeze up and shut down.  I carry mine in a pocket or in a belt that’s under a layer or two of clothes and close to my body to keep it warm.  I’ve been able to carry a cell phone and keep it on over the course of a half marathon by using this tactic.

 

SECURE TRACTION

yaktraxIt’s nearing the end of January and I’m missing a very, VERY valuable part of the Snow Running gear…. traction cleats for my shoes such as YakTrax.  These cleats will help your run better by giving you more improved footing which will increase your overall pace, but it they will also keep you from slipping, sliding and falling.  I slid around a lot today during my 4-mile Snow Run and wished the whole time I had some cleats.  I had a pair last year and loved them, but they have disappeared over the summer.  I guess I’ll be hitting the local running store soon to get a set.

 

SAVOR THE MOMENT

Above all else, enjoy your Snow Run.  Unless you live in the southern hemisphere or the North Pole, you only get to experience Snow Runs in the Winter months.  Although it can feel like forever to those who are Summer-lovers, Winter really only lasts technically three months with just a few weeks of actual Snow Running weather.  Being outside when the temps are in the high-20s to low-30s, snow flakes the size of pancakes are wafting down, the tree limbs are dressed in the soft white snow, and the sky is a brilliant blue is amazing and awesome…. so savor the moment, drink it in and ENJOY your Snow Run.

I had a wonderful time today on my Snow Run in my Winter Wonderland today, and am looking forward to a nice long 10-mile run tomorrow in even more perfect, pristine wintry elements.  I hope you can get out there to experience Snow Running as often as possible.  It’s definitely unforgettable.

What is one of your most favorite Snow Running experience?

Do you have any other tips for comes to Snow Running?

To My Running Friends

Christmas Running Gifts

I know I’m a day late, but….

Merry Christmas!!

What a wonderful Christmas I have had.  Our sailor is home visiting for a couple of weeks between training and her first ship assignment.  She and my husband have already been outside shooting the new 9mm pistol we got her for Christmas.   Our oldest daughter and her husband have spent several days here at the house with us, and have been setting up the new notebook we got the for Christmas since yesterday.  And finally, our son (the baby who’s turning 18 in just a few weeks) has been playing on the PS3 since yesterday as well.  He’s really not much for video games, but he’s enjoying this one.  My husband has fixed dinner last night and breakfast this morning on the new electric frying pan the kids got him.  He’s discovered the chef inside him that’s been hidden for years.

Then there’s me…. well I’m enjoying a couple of Christmas gifts myself.  Hubby and I bought ourselves a new treadmill, so I’ve been on it every day since we got it.  Our old one worked, but all it did was change speed and incline.  The new one has pre-set workouts and other functions that make it more fun to use.  Plus, I love Christmas movies and have actually had some time during vacation to watch them.  So they keep me entertained during runs on the treadmill.  I’m actually going to hit it soon to get in a good 5-mile interval training run later.  Something that can be challenging and unsafe during the snowy, icy weather during a West Virginia winter.

RoadID Elite Bracelet and BadgesOne of my other Christmas gifts from my kids is a RoadID bracelet with all the contact information I need in case I ever get sick, hurt or run over by a car while out on a run.   I also got badges to go on it… a Christian fish, and a 5k, a 10k and a 13.1M badge.  I love it!!  In addition to the valuable contact information, a couple of my favorite Bible verses are referenced….

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NKJV

“I can do all things through Christwho strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Once I got it sized and assembled, I put it on and haven’t taken it off since.  Honestly, I hope it’s never used, but it’s so nice to know that information is easily accessible on my person just in case it is needed.  It’s nice to know my kids don’t want to lose me, too.  😀

That’s all the running gifts I got this year, but they’re both great ideas, much appreciated and will be valuable resources for my running addiction.  In my virtual and real-life running groups, friends have shared what their running gifts… Garmin watches, socks, race entries, gear, shoes, gift certificates, books and more.  What running gifts did you get for Christmas this year?

 

How You Doin’?

I’m doing fine… glad you stopped by for a visit.  I just thought it would be nice just to chat a little bit if you have the time.  I haven’t posted for several days as the craziness of the holiday season has kept me quit busy.  I have a few minutes of downtime at work before I go to the company Christmas dinner…. so I thought I’d jot a few things down to let you know about some posts coming soon and what I’m thinking of writing about.  I’ll be quick as I know you’re just as busy as I am.

Everyone is starting to post their 2014 goals.  I have some ideas of what I want to do, but haven’t really taken the time to start putting my goals down on paper.  You know how it is…. once it’s down on paper…. it becomes real.  So I want to be sure my goals are ones that will best benefit me, that I want to accomplish and can accomplish.  I’m tossing ideas around in my head, taking into account what other bloggers are saying and making some plans.  I’ll be posting about that soon.  I’d really like to read your 2014 goals…. so if you don’t mind, please leave me a comment with a link to your blog post.  Others might be interested in checking out your goals as well.

But before I set my goals for next year, I think it’s wise to review the past year first.  I want to revisit everything I accomplished as well as everything I failed, where I went wrong and what I did right, how I did improve and where I can continue to improve.  Since I just started running in late 2012, I don’t remember setting any goals.  Since I was a beginner, I really didn’t know where I was in regards to running and where I was going…. or if I even wanted to go anywhere.  I hadn’t decided yet if running was just a temporary fixation I had, or if it would become a true change in lifestyle.  Since then I do believe it’s become part of my lifestyle.  I’ll find what 2013 goals I can find (if there’s any) and assess how I did on them.  That will help me look toward 2014 and setting next years’ goals.

Finally, I have my third half marathon coming up in about 18 days, so I may post some on training, tapering, running in the snow, streaking, doing intervals on the treadmill, P90X3 or just some general Christmas posts.  All my kids are coming home for the holidays this year, so it will be exciting and I will want to tell you all about that.  I’m sure I’ll get some running-related Christmas gifts that I’ll have to talk about, too.   And who knows what else may pop into my head and end up here.  😀

So until next time….. run happy!!

Finding Thankfulness During an Ordinary Run

I think sometimes I take the ordinary training run for granted…. I strap on the iPhone after starting up the Runtastic app to measure my distance, pace, time and everything else.  I concentrate on making quick footsteps and landing on my mid-foot, breathing deeply from my stomach and not my lungs, side-stepping potholes and sticks and gravel,  fiddling with my play list to skip over songs that really don’t match my current mood…. and on and on and on.  So much of the time, my mind bounces around to other things I’m dealing with in life such as issues I have to resolve at work, ideas I have for the church choir, new music I want to learn to play on the piano, conflicts I may have with a friend, worried if I’m ready for the upcoming 5k, how many half marathons I should do next year and what I’m going to blog about on here.

I just can’t seem to focus on one thing for an entire run.  I guess it’s a way for me to clear my thoughts, because by the time I’m done, I have come up with that resolution, new ideas for the choir, a new song to play on the piano, that conflict is really just a misunderstanding, I’m training now for that 5k so I’m going to do fine, the half marathons can wait until later, and that blog post…. hey, look how the sun shines on the freshly fallen snow…. I gotta take a picture of that! 😀

My run this afternoon was the first run I’d done since the half marathon last Sunday.  I had really been missing getting out and running, especially when the snow started falling yesterday.  I love running in the snow!!  So for three days, I felt a little depressed and discouraged.  So I got out my old running shoes for the snow and mud, put on several layers and hit the road.

thank_GodBut today, my mind didn’t really wander much.  I didn’t care about my gait or pace or time, I just took it slow and steady, and kept it on the loose gravel on the middle or side of the road so I wouldn’t slip in the snow/ice.  I have four more days off from work so I don’t have that to worry about, the choir is good, I’m not looking for new music and all is well with family and friends right now.  I just wanted an easy run.  The only thing I thought about was that scene with the sun shinning and freshly fallen snow… the picture.  The picture-perfect scene I see every time I run, but don’t always really notice.  The same scene I take pictures of, but don’t take in and enjoy in real-time.   Then, while on an ordinary, 3-mile run I realized just how fortunate I really am.  So there’s my blog post… the things for which I am so thankful for…  it’s been right here in front of me all this time, but I didn’t really notice it until today.  This is my running thanksgiving….

  1. I live in an area with very low crime rate.  Everyone knows everyone in this sleepy little country town, so if I ever found myself in trouble, it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone I know for help.  I’m still cautious, but I do feel safe here.
  2. I live in a beautiful part of the United States.  I love living in the country, and the hills and hollars that are so unique to central West Virginia make some beautiful scenery to see while running.  Within just a few miles of my house I can see rivers and lakes, mountains and valleys, dirt roads and trails cutting through thick woods.  For the city folk, I’m also near town (albeit a very small town) and interstate.
  3. Every season is very well pronounced in the landscape.  Spring brings bright colors, fresh aromas, and the occasional sightings of baby wildlife; summer brings the smell of fresh-cut lawns, the sound of boats on the lake and baseball in the park, and warm nights under bright stars and a full moon; fall brings that sweet smell of fresh-cut hay and the sound of the farm tractors, the absolute beautiful colors of autumn leaves, and squirrels and chipmunks playfully gathering nuts for the colder months; and, finally, winter brings the crisp, cool fresh air, evenings glowing with Christmas lights, and picturesque landscapes with blue skies and a brightly shinning sun on a freshly soft fallen snow.
  4. Finally and most importantly…. I’m healthy enough to do this running thing.  I’ve grown stronger and my endurance has improved dramatically.  I feel better and stronger at age 45 than I did at 25.  I’ve lost 30 pounds and quit smoking.  Additionally, I’ve kept the weight off too, which if you ask any former-smoker, keeping the weight off is the hardest part of quitting.   My improved and sustained health as a result of this sport is what I am most thankful for.

To close out this blog post, I thought I’d share some pics of the scenery I saw today.  This is my typical route that I run about 90% of the time.  Even though I’ve seen this same scenery day in and day out over the past 15 months, I never tire of seeing it.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  I also wish you and your family a wonderful, blessing-filled Thanksgiving.  Run happy!! 😀

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

When to Slow Down and Walk

While out on my long run a couple of Sunday’s ago, I came across this flock of chickens. However, this bad boy roster wasn’t about to let me anywhere near his hens. I’ve stopped running and walked lots of times to calm an angry or excited dog, and even a couple of times for a rambunctious steer/cow, but this was the first time for an angry roster.  So, I took a break from my run for a few minutes to catch a shot of Mr. Big and his assembly.  I had to laugh at myself as cars were passing by me and undoubtedly questioning my motives.  I live in a small rural area where chickens, cows, horses, etc. are commonplace, so I must have looked like some city-slicking tourist totally amazed at the sight of real, live chickens.  When in reality I was just enjoying the adventures of another long run.  Someday, I’ll compile all of the pics and write a blog post about all of critters I’ve encountered along these West Virginia back roads I enjoy running so much.  There’s never a boring run, sometimes you just have to slow down and walk to enjoy the entertainment.  😀

What’s the most unusual things you’ve come upon during one of your runs??

chickens2

chickens1

Having a Great Day

I thought I’d make this post for no good reason other than the fact that I’m just having a really great day!!  During the first five days of November, I’ve already ran 23 miles with a 4-mile hill run planned for this evening… the weather is bEAutiful… I feel good and I have a good attitude… I’m having a very productive day… and work isn’t stressing me out today!!

I thought sharing this post would send positive vibes to you today.  I hope you have an awesome day… run happy!! 😀

every day is a good day

Countdown to the “Real” First Half Marathon

One month out… that’s right, one month from tomorrow I will be running in my “real” first half marathon.  I’ve been training hard, but now it’s time to get serious and not miss a single mile or cross training routine.  I know, I know…. I need to keep it fun.  A truer statement couldn’t be made regarding the sport of running and racing.  However, I have learned from experience that if you don’t mix in some seriousness, the ultimate experience can be disappointing and disheartening.

In August, I ran my official first half marathon.  However, it didn’t go over very well so I have omitted it from my list of half marathons.  There are a couple of reasons I left that race so discouraged…

  1. I bit off more than I could chew.  Chalk it up to lack of experience combined with too much enthusiasm, but I registered for and ran in a race that was, undoubtedly, far too advanced and difficult for a beginner runner.   I finished it, but my time was a miserable 02:54:00 or an average pace of 13:00 minutes per mile.  I have LSD practice runs that are faster than that.  I just wasn’t prepared.  I didn’t take the race or the training serious enough.  I finished, but I could have done so much better.
  2. I have nothing to show for it…. no T-shirt, no finisher’s medal, no pictures… nothing!!  I know this sounds materialistic, but it was supposed to be my first half marathon.  It was supposed to be a big deal, something I could brag about.  But I had nothing to show for my effort.  So, maybe it was all a dream.  A dream of running a trail race through some of the toughest, yet most beautiful terrain found in West Virginia?  A dream during which I exuded so much energy fighting the covers imagining I was climbing mile-long-hills, and tripping over rocks and roots that I woke up all muddy and sweaty with the bed torn to shreds? A dream that made my entire body stiff and sore for days??  That couldn’t have been a dream… no, it was definitely real.  But still nothing to show for it.

As a result, I’m considering the Miles of Smiles Half Marathon near Fairmont, West Virginia on November 24, 2013 to be my “real” first half marathon.   I’ve fixed the preceding problems with the following resolutions:

  1. I’ve conducted a little research on the course for this race.  It should be easy for me to handle this one as it is on a Rail-to-Trail course.  As a result, I’ve been able to mimic the course a lot in my training.  I need to run in a race that is challenging, but not demoralizing.  Something I can be proud of, yet determined to improve upon at the next race.
  2. All participants get a T-shirt and a finisher’s medal.  They will even be taking pictures and posting to their website.  I will actually have proof that I participated in and completed the race.  I may buy myself a magnet for my Jeep.  I’m thinking something like this….

crazy

I wrote the August half marathon off as a really expensive training run.  So, my first real number one, numero uno half marathon is one month from tomorrow.  Actually, its 32 days, 00 hours, 34 minutes, 36 seconds… 35 seconds… 34…33…  you get the drift.  Wish me luck.   😀