Category Archives: Exercise

Writing about February & March in honor of April.

Some highlights from life as of late.

My old man actually became an old man. C-money turned 30, and, as far as we can tell, still has the metabolism of an 11-year old. Being the doting, selfless wife that I am, I up and got sick for his actual birthday and spent four hours of that evening sleeping. He made himself a nice steak dinner, which he got to enjoy in spurts while chasing after our toddler. The lengths I will go to to get out of cooking…astonishing, really.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

We rode that celebration train into the next couple of weeks, though, and gathered a bunch of our friends for a brew hop. (That’s not a thing, you say? Not so, according to the dazzling invitations.)

 brew hop invite

We started the afternoon at Cigar City Brewing, not listening to the tour guide and perking up whenever we heard the terms “free” and “beer” in close proximity. It was lots of fun to hang with our old college pals and felt exactly the same except for how much slower we all moved, how much less beer we could consume and still function, the presence of some friends’ baby, and the undercurrent of stories of our own kids that lasted throughout the evening. So yeah, identical to 2004.

C tori wes cab

 nat C goggles

After CCB we headed to Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. Twenty sweet friends came out, and my little hubs was pretty blown away. Not to mention, my SIL helped me surprise him with a cookie cake for dessert. Does anything say mature, responsible, professionally successful father better than a gigantic chocolate chip cookie covered in frosting? Didn’t think so.

cookie cake

We even after-partied for a bit, serenaded by a middle aged Irish tribute band with a heavyset guitarist of indeterminate gender. Rock on, Noa’s. Rock on.

 nat C gaspars

Over the course of the last six weeks, we also celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday, my brother’s birthday, my best friend’s birthday and my dad’s birthday. It’s enough, people. Stop aging, for the love.  

Everyone whined about daylight savings, meanwhile over here Addison has been sleeping past 8 a.m. nearly every morning since. Parenting win! 

Speaking of…there is an 18 month update post sloshing around in my head that maybe one day will see the light of day. Two months late, it still ain’t even close to finished. There is A LOT to talk about with this one, let me tell you. She is far, far from boring, and she keeps us all laughing hysterically and sprinting to stop her from doing a whole host of ridiculously unsafe behaviors on the reg.

Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.
Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.

I don’t really say “on the reg” in real life.

My bracket could not be more disastrous, but I feel like that’s a pretty common sentiment this year. Clayton is still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Bracket Champion at his office, so fingers crossed there.

I’ve still been running, but not really training for anything major. The several months of distance training burned me out mentally for now. I did run a 15k the weekend of Clayton’s party with my Jacksonville friend who was way too easily talked into running 9.3 miles.
Actual conversation
Me: Come a day early and run a 15k with me.
Her: Ok.

 tori nat 15k

I had some goals initially, but knowing that I hadn’t trained properly made me more realistic about what I should expect. And, shocker, I did not hit those goals. But I tried hard—and am still trying–to focus on the positives: my overall pace was a wee bit faster than my half marathon PR, and I was definitely middle of the pack in my age group, as opposed to back of the pack. Sounds silly, but that is a big improvement from when I started running seriously.

I was also so very tempted to call it a day when I realized my goal time was unattainable; I walked a few steps and that felt niiiice. But I told myself to get over it and run, there were strawberries to eat and beer to be gulped and cookie cake to be demolished. I needed to burn some mad calories heading into that weekend, so I kept on and hit my secondary goal of not being a pansy.

run addict
Taken less than 72 hours after I’d sworn off running for-ev-er.

The current plan is to do more speed work and focus on smaller distance races, mainly because come May, there is not a race over 5k to be found in Florida. We would all melt and perish trying to run more than three miles in summer. The first hard workout of this plan was this past Saturday when I had a hot date with some hill repeats. I loved it. It’s crazy and masochistic, but I love the challenge. Plus, the miles and the time go so much faster. 

We caught a Braves spring training game and were hooked up with some free Dave & Buster’s games. The rest of our group left after dinner. Our foursome (with a focus on one 30-year old in particular) hung around until stupid o’clock high on the “but it’s free! and you can shoot stuff!” endorphins.

C Brant Rambo

Those are all the big time bullet points from the last few months. I feel like my life is decently exciting until I try to write about it. Hello, snooze fest. But there you have it. Maybe that Addison post will be coming your way shortly because, let’s get real, she’s awesome and you need to know about it. 

Holiday Half Recap Re-do

I kid. One more post about this race.

Here are a few things to note about the Florida Holiday Halfathon apart from my self-involved recap hinging on Gu consumption.

  • The course is point to point. I enjoyed this because, for me, it added to the bad ass-ness of running 13.1 miles. Finishing in a completely different city than where you started directed those miles toward a destination rather than running for two hours and finding yourself in the exact same location.
  • It is small and no frills, and I was concerned about the “please bribe your friends and family to volunteer because we don’t have enough people” email I received two days before the race.
  • I don’t know if it’s due to the aforementioned lack of volunteers, but I was very glad I brought my own water because I am a camel and need water every 15 steps and also because the water stops seemed very spread out. Like every two miles I think, which felt like a long time to wait after mile 7.
  • The race is flat except for one forgettable bridge at mile 3.5ish and two short but steep overpasses while on the Pinellas Trail.
  • Even though the course is near the ocean, you can only see it if you have x-ray vision that works through concrete. Half of the course is residential and the other half is on the Pinellas Trail. I liked running on the trail because it was prettier than strip malls on a main road, but it became a little monotonous after a few miles. There was a surprising number of people along the course cheering. Not thousands, but more than I’d expect for such a small affair.
  • Packet pick-up was available a few days the week before the race in Tampa, which, in theory, is extremely convenient for those of us running who live across the bay. In reality, I missed all of those opportunities and still had to cart my family 45 minutes over to Madeira Beach Saturday.
  • You’d think cops would let you off with  a warning the morning of the race if they saw your bib and panic face, but you would be wrong.
  • I am always deathly afraid of bathroom emergencies during races, even though I’ve never even had to pee during one. Still, in case that’s your burden, I think I saw three port-a-potties on the course but lots of greenery along the trail if you were desperate.
  • The medals are super cute.

I think that’s all (and way more) than you could possibly care about. I would absolutely run this race again and recommend it to anyone considering a holiday half, especially first timers. It was walker friendly and didn’t feel overly competitive. I swear when the gun went off, the entire race field was running at the same pace for the first mile, which was my pace, so you know it wasn’t that hard core.

Happy running to all those whose hip flexors don’t hate them! I’m jealous and decided I hate yoga.

 

 

 

Florida Holiday Halfathon Recap

I know it seems like I’ve  become delusional and only post about races like I’m a running blogger, but I swear there will be a healthy break from that starting yesterday.

I registered for the Florida Holiday Halfathon simply because I did not want to throw away three months of training, which is what I felt like I’d done at the St. Augustine Half Marathon. I knew I could run faster, but, more importantly, I knew I was mentally tougher than what I’d shown in that race.

As the days passed, though, my body began to let me know that this training cycle was nearing its end whether I liked it or not. I started getting more sore and achy after my runs, and my knees started hurting during every long run. I added more icing, more meds, more foam rolling and more prayers to my regimen, getting increasingly nervous that my legs might not be able to give me the redemptive race I wanted.

While I rode a PR high for a solid week after the turkey day 5k, it probably wasn’t the  best plan to throw that into the mix between half marathons, either.

All this to say, by the time race weekend came around I was not feelin’ it. At all. I was prepared for absolute disaster. In addition to the breakdown of my hips and knees, Addison and Clayton shared their colds with me the week before the race. I hosted a cookie exchange the weekend prior and had been feasting on sugar-filled garbage ever since. My “easy” two-mile shake-out run the day before the race was a horrendous, gasping-for-air mess that I cut a quarter mile short.

So a new plan emerged that gave me an out if I needed it. Saturday, the fam and I drove over to pick up my packet and–veteran alert–actually drove the race course. We scouted a spot near mile 8.5 where Clayton could park and either 1. hop into the race with the jogging stroller and run the last leg with me or, most likely, 2. pick my lifeless body up off the course, throw me into the car and take me somewhere that served giant pancakes. I had made my peace with either ending.

She loves me, slow or not.

She loves me, slow or not.

When my alarm went off Sunday morning, I immediately decided I didn’t want to run, turned it off and went back to sleep. Probably the most decisive I’ve been in my entire life. Luckily I’d anticipated this morning mind game and set a second alarm, which did the trick. I had paid for this thing, after all.

I was more nervous getting ready and driving over to the start than ever before. Maybe more so than the day of my wedding. Clayton getting a ticket for an expired tag (true story) actually broke the ice and provided a much appreciated distraction. Don’t worry; I intend to invoke obligatory nagging about it later.

That little hiccup did put us behind schedule, but I still had enough time for a brief warm up and Winn Dixie bathroom stop since, again, I half read race info and the start was 7:35 a.m., not 7:30 a.m. I should have known things were looking up when all these miscues were turning out to be positives, but I was mainly focused on not vomiting on other runners’ cute Christmas outfits. Seriously.

Magically, my nerves completely subsided when I lined up and turned on my brand new playlist. From the very first few steps, I felt immensely better about this race. There’s not much to talk about from the race itself because it flew by. It helped that I knew I had friendly faces and a vehicle waiting for me at mile 8. I started out telling myself to just make it that far, no pressure. If I decided to keep going, it meant I was having a good race. If I stopped, it meant I didn’t have to trudge through 5 more miserable miles. Both victories.

Would have been fun to actually see this during the race, but it's the thought and gas money that count.

Would have been fun to actually see this during the race, but it’s the thought and gas money that count.

Hei5man.

Hei5man.

Well, guess who was nowhere to be found at the clearly marked meet-up spot? My hubs. I was still feeling strong and had spent about two miles trying to come up with a clever way to tell him to start running and not warming up the car. But all that work went to waste. In his defense, he had texted me, but I’d decided about three steps into the race that my phone was staying out of sight. I glanced each direction twice, didn’t see him, and kept right on going. A part of me knew that I reached this point earlier than expected by a tad, and that felt pretty dang exciting. There was no chance I was stopping to wait for him.

Since we drove the course together, I figured there were a few more spots where I might see him. As I passed each of those intersections expectantly, it became both confounding and a little hilarious that we still hadn’t met up. Mentally, it was a nice distraction up until the “if all else fails, he’ll be here” location, where he was still MIA. That was mile 11, and I’d been struggling in my head a little between miles 9 and 11 (even though these were some of my fastest). I began counting down until mile 11, when I was certain I would see Clayton, Addison and my sister in law. But I saw nothing familiar, except the huge lake I knew I had to run around before finishing.

lake

I was able to shake off the fact that I would not be finishing with Clayton and became very thankful that I didn’t actually feel like I needed him at that point. I knew this was going to be (and already was) an awesome race, and I had enough to finish well. Much like missing me at the initial meet-up, I got a thrill thinking that maybe he kept missing me because I was so ahead of schedule. Look, you’ve got to keep your head in the game out there somehow; if it’s all lies, so be it.

I had a decent sprint through the finish chute and, as usual, couldn’t stop when everyone was yelling at me to. It’s so crazy to me that all the runners can just come to a complete stop after that final sprint without keeling over. Mama has to cool down for at least five minutes before hoisting my foot up into your lap. Deal with it.

Still not seeing Clayton, I sent him a profane text (funny cursing, not angry cursing) and finally located the support team. They missed the finish, but I was too high on endorphins and dehydration to notice.

It was a 16-minute PR. Holy. Crap.

high five half

And that’s it, gang. I am so content with that race and my time. I finished with just a little nausea brewing, so I know that I worked hard up until the very end. On the conservative to ambitious goal spectrum, it was right in the ambitious zone, and I could not be happier with my paces for every single mile. Plus, it was the first time I used two Gu packs, and they didn’t send me hurling into the bushes. Success!

Mandated by my knees and IT band, a necessary, much anticipated break from pounding the pavement is in full effect. It’s scary to think I’ll lose all of these gains, but I know I won’t get anywhere except an orthopedic office if I try to maintain this schedule. Any advice for not completely sacrificing your speed improvements during a break in training is welcome! Do I have to re-rejoin the gym? And while we’re on the advice train, I’ve been cramping nonstop since I got home Sunday. Going on three days. Totes worth it, but still curious if this happens to anyone else?

I am being very intentional about not browsing races while still ridiculously euphoric. I’m not even able to stand upright yet, but still very likely to do something utterly ridiculous like register for a 15k in February. (But just to get a head count, anyone considering Gasparilla?)

My mom hung my medal in our tree. I didn't stop her.

My mom hung my medal in our tree. I didn’t stop her.

Turkey Gobble 5k

After the half marathon from hell, I registered for a Thanksgiving 5k for me and Clayton. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to hit my sub 30:00 goal, but after the disaster of St. Augustine, I tried to keep expectations to a minimum. Temperatures dipped Wednesday night and I figured there was no hope of hitting my goal pace while freezing. I told Clayton when we went to bed Wednesday that sleeping in was sounding better and better; I decided I would be a game time decision when my alarm buzzed at 5:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

gobble 5k

Without much struggle getting out of bed, I figured I could at least keep Clayton company for the ride and burn a few calories before feasting.

We missed approximately 17 turns to find the right parking lot. We pinned bibs, shed our extra layers and put on Chapstick in the car, knowing we were cutting it very close. Clayton grabbed a spot along the street and, thinking I had time for a port-a-potty stop, I started jogging to the start while he fed the meter. Everyone was lined up and there wasn’t a p-a-p in sight, so I hopped in the middle of the pack and waited for Clayton. The race started, and he still hadn’t shown up. Wife of the Year over here decided to hang back and wait for him…but not without shouting down the sidewalk for him to RUN! Why he was taking his sweet time to begin with, I have no idea.

All's well that ends with a PR

All’s well that ends with a PR

We crossed the start line with only a couple of strollers and dog walkers behind us. Actually pretty standard race procedures for me. But we took off, and I felt good. Really good. I was aggravated by the crowds, so I wanted to get into some space. And you know what’s fun? Passing people. Foreign to me, but I highly support it now.

“Why are you going so fast?” Clayton asked.

Now, I have never, ever, ever been asked that question except when I have to pee and am on the hunt for a public bathroom. So all of a sudden this became THE race. I wanted that PR and I decided I’d ride that “so fast” pace as long as I could, expecting to peter out around mile 2. Maybe if I banked enough time, I could still have a slow last mile and come in under 30 minutes.

Except I didn’t peter out. And I even had a little kick at the end when I heard a group of girls point out a sign about 0.1 mile before the finish, saying they were going to sprint when they got to it. I had not been passed up to this point because I was like the last person to start (fail proof strategy to avoid being passed). Frankly, I didn’t want to get passed at that point. So I started my sprint a tad before the sign.

Maybe I crossed the finish line and had to cool down a ways from the crowd so no one would notice the, uh, sweat dripping from my tear glands.

I know it was a silly, stinkin’ not chip timed 5k. But it was a big moment for this novice runner. A runner who desperately needed a good race to help put a terrible one to rest. A never-imagined finishing time to remember that goals don’t just loom over our heads to make us feel disappointed and incapable but help us push ourselves to be and to do more.

And to leave me wondering what else may be possible from this rickety, nearing 30 body.

I was not even trying to be fun or cutesy with those socks. They were the only option to cover all the exposed skin below my capris.

I was not even trying to be fun or cutesy with those socks. They were the only option to cover all the exposed skin below my capris.

26:13. A new 5k PR by over four freaking minutes! (Ignore that the race was 0.05 mile short.)

garmin 5k

Then I came home to some sweet snuggles that were possibly more satisfying than a PR. Or a close second at least. A snug

I hope you also had a Thanksgiving full of simple surprises that made you sweat a little out of your eyes.

St. Augustine Half Marathon Recap

The St. Augustine Half Marathon, aka my second half ever, is complete. Woohoo…is what I wish I could be saying, but instead I am me and being Debbie Downer about the whole thing.

The good news is that it’s done. My feet covered 13.1 miles for the second time in my life, and I have the shiny medal to prove it. Which may have stayed on during lunch 100 miles away from the race site.

The tough-to-digest part is that this course was bananas, and I had no idea. It’s not like I had eight weeks to study the course map posted online or anything. Instead, I chose to show up and be all, “oh, there’s bridges?” And the course was all, “UM. FOUR OF THEM.”

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

The friend that I’d trained with and planned to run with ended up getting sick last week and decided race morning to not put herself in the hospital by attempting a half marathon feeling like death. I hated it for her, of course; I’m not a completely horrible person. She even came all the way to St. Augustine for two nights to not run. But, frankly, I hated it for me, too. Two weeks before my first half I begged and pleaded with Clayton to run it with me because I didn’t know if I could push through on my own. It was quite a stunner to plan for having a partner with me, and then realize that wouldn’t be the case an hour before the race. (Missed you, Kelly!)

High hopes on race eve that we'd be crossing the finish together.

High hopes on race eve that we’d be crossing the finish together.

I was way nervous in the morning and couldn’t finish my usual breakfast or coffee. Clayton, Addison and I left about 10 minutes later than we’d planned, but we were staying so close to the race that I didn’t think much about it. When he dropped me off and I realized the start line wasn’t where I thought (seriously, eight weeks of non-map studying), I started freaking out a little about missing the start. I jogged to the big mass of people, made a quick as lightning bathroom stop on the way, and just as I asked someone if this was the half marathon start, the gun went off.

And there I was, running. I had very little time–okay, zero time–to steady my head or stretch or get my bearings. The first five miles were lame city. We ran over the Bridge of Lions immediately, and then spent the rest of the time on a major highway passing strip malls and Sunday morning traffic. I really wanted to hold off on listening to music in case I needed a boost later, so it was just engines and feet out there. Luckily, there was a decently funny guy behind me that kept me entertained with sardonic commentary. We’re all idiots for doing this, let’s just embrace it.

My pace for those first five miles was exactly on target. I’d wanted to keep it somewhat conservative but not start too slow to the point where I couldn’t ever increase to my loftier goals. Turns out, that ol’ increase would never take place, so that became a moot point. It was a positive split parade after six miles. But at least for five miles I stuck to the plan.

Around mile 5 we hit the second bridge (the Bridge of Lions was the first), which was long and long. I felt pretty good going over it and saw my speedy friend coming back down the other bridge (numero tres, if you’re keeping count). She looked really strong and that was exciting. I saw Clayton twice around this point and his lanky torso hanging out of the car trying to snap pictures was too much cute to handle.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Once we descended bridge two, it was maybe 0.1 mile before we turned around and ran up the third bridge. And this was my coffin. I seemed to have lost all steam going up that beast. Trying desperately to be funny and encouraging, I made some comment to a girl that was walking. She passed me less than a half mile later, so I doubt I’ll be throwing out any more hilarious and obviously effective words of wisdom at any future races. I’ll probably invoice her for coaching fees.

I tried to remember my friend telling me that miles 3-8 were going to suck. Just get past that point, I thought. But mile 7 was it for me. It was the last time I felt any sustained strength. From that point on, I battled against quitting and walking my pissy butt back to the car. My initial strategy was to turn things up at mile 9. In real life, this was the point I vowed never to do a full marathon. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t stop at the mile 10 marker was because I knew how long it would take for me to walk back and there was no shortcut. I had no other motivation to keep running other than I’d finish slightly faster that way.

I had to walk a few seconds here and there but got so annoyed with myself I started back up pretty quickly. [Text to husband somewhere around this point: "Babe it's over". Dramatic much?]

There was actually a sad little pack of us who would run some and then stop to walk and then try to run again between miles 10 and 12. Clearly, this was not our day, and I felt bad for all of us. We never envisioned this would be our race. Womp womp.

I got a text from a friend when I was feeling especially womp-wompy that said “hope the run went well today!” After I got over the boiling rage of her thinking I’d be done when I still had two more miles, I realized there were a lot of people who knew about this race that were going to ask me about it. I could not imagine saying I gave up at mile 11, so I kept going out of sheer stubbornness. But I wasn’t happy about it.

We had to go back over the Bridge of Lions at the last mile. Four bridges would be an accurate summation. Luckily, that was the easiest of all of them and wasn’t too awful at that point. Life in general was looking rather dismal so a little incline wasn’t going to swing that vote too much. I was able to pick it up ever so mildly at the end when I saw my fast friend–2nd place in her age group and 9th woman overall, wha?!?!–and her fam. A little farther down towards the finish line I spotted Clayton and Addison’s huge grin, which was indescribable. But more than anything, I was glad that it was over. I was so hoping to finish feeling more than that.

finish3

I wasn’t impressed or anything after I finished, but having that six-mile mental battle so fresh in my mind, I was proud that I pounded it out. As the hours dragged on, and I looked over and over at my terrible splits, and the official times were posted, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

I don’t know if I had more in me during those hours, but I am bummed that this race was the culmination of a totally healthy, really strong, 12-week training cycle. I felt great after every long run and did speed work consistently every week. My long run paces were all better than what I ended up with at this race, and my long runs had always felt easy. That is so, so frustrating. I was hoping, planning and training to race this thing, and all I could do was finish.

But hey, I did finish.

Lunchtime bling.

Lunchtime bling.

Other positive notes: technically I did reach my very basic goal of beating the time from my first half marathon (by 6 minutes) and Miss Black Shirt was all about trying to pass me in the finish chute and did not, thank you very much. I didn’t even know anyone was near me until I looked through the pictures.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

Plus, mom bonus: I ran a half after baby birthing. When I remember that first two-mile run a few months after having Addison, it’s hard to believe I conquered (okay, tolerated) 13.1 miles. Those first few weeks were u-g-l-y.

Oh, speaking of ugly.

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

So what now? Well, I am going to sulk and eat cookies for another day or two. I’m going to join my sister in law for a pedicure and wine date. And then I am going to put my big girl tempo shorts on and get ready for

this.

The definition of insanity...

The definition of insanity…

I am certain I have a better race in me, and I am not wasting this training on that miserable half.

At least we know one person was glad I made the trip to St. Augustine. (Total accident, by the way.)

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

So, anyone feel like running a half in December???

Catching Up on Catching Up

[Post started last Tuesday...]
What day is it again? With having an Addiesitter on Monday (an extra day this week thanks to lots of workin’) and the Dolphins playing Monday instead of Sunday, my internal calendar is all kinds of topsy turvy.

Also, that’s the last I’ll mention of the Monday Night Football situation. It’s a somber mood in our household today.

In a mini rant mode, can I just mention that Starbucks has not been work-friendly at all lately? The last three times I’ve loaded up my tote and abandoned my screaming kid, there haven’t been any free seats. It’s like 1 p.m. Who are these yahoos without office jobs? (I know, I know. Guilty.) And why can’t the 70 billionty dollar S’bux corporation build larger stores? There are approximately five and a half chairs in every location. The illusion to make it seem open to loitering and conversing is crap.

So today I took my tote and my $3 elsewhere. And I had the whole store and all the outlets to myself. Could’ve charged 10 laptops if I wanted to! Oh, the power! If you don’t check yourself, Starbucks, I may just drop down to 4 visits a week. We clear?

[Picked up again today...]
There is currently a conference call taking place that I have become beyond unnecessary to be a part of.  So I get to talk to you fine folks about all the vitally important bullet points of my life, like diaper rashes and toys getting lodged in the pool filter. Both true stories from this week.

You called my bluff, S’buxie. Here’s all my money. I’m sorry. I love you.

Since I began this post, there has been another loss on the Fins record books. Sundays are getting dicey, guys. Except for moments like this.

C A fins couch Another W for the Noles (a shut-out slaughtering, might I add). And the Rays won a dramatic game 3 in the ALDS to force a too-late-starting game 4 that kicked their underperforming butts right out of the postseason. We even had our good luck charm ready.

My postseason superstition is to not wear makeup or fix my hair.

My postseason superstition is to not wear makeup or fix my hair.

And that about sums up what we do during all the hours we’re not working or shoving food into our daughter’s face.

That, and running. Glorious, therapeutic running. I did my long run last Saturday morning at a park that’s been on my to-run list for years. It was just about the closest thing to fall weather we’ll have right now, there were enough solo stretches to get some hard core soul-refilling time, and plenty of fellow crazies to make me feel less like I need to be committed for getting antsy and excited about running nine miles.

Slower traffic stay to the right.

Slower traffic stay to the right.

Here’s hoping the motivation train keeps rolling right on through November because this is official:

half registration

Besides the running and sports fanatic-ing, there is a lot of chasing around this 82nd percentile body:

A hyde park gate

And very little laundry folding or floor sweeping.

What have you been doing (or not doing) this fall?

It’s Not Me, It’s You

Dear Gym,
I remember that sunny first day we met. I was a barely legal, eager college freshman fresh out of a years-long relationship with organized sports. I was looking for something else, something new. You were a two-story behemoth, a state-of-the-art glass and cement mecca only costing me the courage to walk through those two sets of front doors.

At first things were grand. Sure, I saw the lines of sorority girls waiting for ellipticals on the second floor, but if I stayed mostly on the ground level I never had to cross their paths. Except waiting for a hand dryer in the bathroom when I was dripping sweat on the linoleum and their eyeliner was still somehow perfectly in tact. But I digress.

I’ll admit we had some sweet, sweet memories. In the tiny corner with the girl-sized free weights, it felt like it was just you and me sometimes. And the birthing/adductor machine positioned right in front of the mirrors made for some extra special supersets. You didn’t even bat an eye when I began bringing my blonde, affectionate buddy. Or followed him into the man weight room and did some chest presses.

You were good to me for a time, gym.

But times change.

The last two times we met up, it was different. The fluorescent lighting was distracting, not enticing. The floor to ceiling mirrors were intrusive, not convenient. The employees were pretentious, not perky.

I’ve always equated you with being healthy: if I just had that gym membership, I would automatically be living healthier. Even if we didn’t see each other for months at a time, the card hanging from my key ring would tell the world that I WORK OUT. Or, at the very least, I have access to a facility that provides fitness equipment on which I could perform exercises for the betterment of my physical appearance. How healthy is that?!

But alas, that card has not been scanned enough to pay for the gas it takes to come see you. And when I have made it there, I don’t feel like I belong any more. I fall into that forgotten age bracket between the majority of gym aficionados–not a spandex-clad 22-year-old and not a water-aerobicising 72-year-old.

From my inconspicuous perch on a second floor treadmill at this newest location, I took a good long look at my fellow Sunday afternoon constituents. I was disheartened. And entertained. Most work outs could be completed in half the time if gym goers would replace subtly flexing in the mirror with actually lifting heavy things. I guess they need to be absolutely sure those curls are working? Like, immediately. Someone also needs to kindly drop a map in the bags of all the men so that they learn to locate the leg machines.

It suddenly hit me that what I once saw as a communal space to honor and improve your body now felt like a temple designed to worship it. That’s not a religious service I’d like to attend, no matter how sculpted those deltoids look in your DIY cut off t-shirt.

And how is no one else sweating in here?!?!

Since it was already hella difficult for me to maintain a rational body image after having a baby, it no longer seems like an encouraging space to put myself in regularly. You make me feel uncomfortable, okay? I can’t wear mismatched clothes without feeling self conscious, make eye contact with anyone, or eat in front of you. That’s not very judgment-less, now is it?

 

I call B.S.

I call B.S.

I mean, I don’t like to cut and run, so of course we’ll see each other during the two month cancellation processing period. Just don’t get all desperate and try to change my mind with your smooth treadmills, ice cold water fountains and childcare. Oh, the childcare. That bright spot in the dark, toddlerhood-encroaching night. Must stay focused.

As you may have suspected, yes, there is someone else. I call it the garage. And a craigslisted weights set and pull up bar I’ve been cozying up to. The bells and whistles have lost their luster, and I’ve decided to downgrade from sprawling to simple. I hope that you’ll understand.

But even if you don’t, I’m going to need that $40 a month back.

Sweaty Hugs for Life,
N. Noa

Sick, Slow & Smelly

This weekend was unexpectedly and pleasantly low key. A cold crept up on all three of us, so we enacted a voluntary quarantine Saturday and Sunday.

Around here that meant bailing from any scheduled activities with the intent of recouping at home, but getting stir crazy after about 15 minutes and finding something else to do. We made  a quick trip to a nearby park Saturday afternoon and the wildlife showed up to greet us.

Little Bambi.

deer cross deer

And Little Eat Your Face Off.

gator arrow

Because of the long run looming over my head, I actually brought my garmin in hopes we’d walk so briskly I could subtract that mileage from my run. When I looked down and it had been 17 minutes and we’d done a 0.07 mile zig zag, I decided to just go ahead and power that beast down.

We had to rush home to make kickoff of the FSU game. And then settle in to watch them score 62 points. Not one point got old to watch, by the way.

Sidenote: we’re officially booked for a game in Tallahassee with my brother and sister in law! We’re staying with one of my most awesome friends from college and his will-be-like-seven-months-pregnant wife. Could we be any more inconvenient house guests?

That night, Clayton represented the whole Noa clan at our friend’s baptism and I played hooky with Addison. Her idea of tailgating wore us both out.

This position. That face. All morning long.

This position. That face. All morning long.

Sunday we kept all of our germs away from church. Instead, I shared them with a lonely treadmill at the gym for 6 miles and what felt like two days of running. I was late getting home for the Dolphins game, but Clayton forgave me after they finally got the W. And only after they got the W.

fins C A

After the game we popped into Barnes & Noble for a quick coffee and bumped into my bestie Leah and her little stud, Max. Addison and Max did some laps around the train table and through the children’s section before we parted ways–somewhat prompted by the smell wafting up from Max’s jersey shorts–and spent a mellow night at home.

I feel like I need to clarify here that Max is Leah’s child. And he is less than two years old. She does not routinely sniff any other male’s jersey shorts, that I know of.

On that note.

Sunday Runday

Yet again, you can thank my husband’s off-handed comment about the likelihood of
a morning run for the actual completion of a morning run. Sunday morning I was out of bed by 6:05 and out the door by 6:20. This one’s free: running before the sun comes up is not as hot as running in the heat of the day. Times a million.

It was still humid, and my dri-fit tank was soaked during the first mile, but there was a gigantic difference in how I felt running in the dark versus running in the afternoon. Genius award for me. I ran five miles for the first time since 2011. I did the math during the run to make sure that’s true. Five fun, progressively faster miles. It was so fun I actually took a few pictures and debated tacking on another half mile or so, but I didn’t want “fun” to turn into “utterly regrettable.”

 

This is what a neighborhood looks like in case you haven't seen one. I sure thought it was worth capturing.

This is what a neighborhood looks like in case you haven’t seen one. I sure thought it was worth capturing.

 

Another perk of early running: hiding your water bottle behind a decorative rock without fear of tampering.

Another perk of early running: hiding your water bottle behind a decorative rock without fear of tampering.

After scrubbing off the stink of long run success, Addison and I booked it to church. I worked in the nursery, and this week was a bit of a doozy. Now, don’t take this the wrong way, especially if you ever leave your child in a nursery setting. I like babies, I really (usually) do. But the thing with your own mess monster is that you LOOOOVE them so much, it makes up for the gooeyness/smelliness/general unsanitariness that comes along with their existence. Sunday it was a lot of other people’s kids’ messes and tantrums, compounded by my own kid refusing to evacuate my arms. Wisely, they only schedule nursery workers once a month so those fine folks can catch their breath and soak their work shirts in Clorox for a solid 21 days.

Nothing a grande iced coffee and nap couldn’t fix.

My husband will be so disappointed that I waited until now to mention the Dolphins won their season opener. Go Fins! Fins Up! Fin in the Water! And anything else the cool kids are saying this year.

We were on the way to a dinner at church Sunday night when I heard a thwapping outside my car. In celebratory fashion, Clayton had secretly attached his Dolphins flag to one of my rear windows. Secretly because had he asked if he could affix flapping aqua and orange oceanic sports paraphernalia on my car, we all know what the answer would have been.

I’m doing my best to roll with it this year, to wear my pre-approved, non-bad-luck-causing shirts like a good fan, and decline Sunday afternoon social invitations on our behalf without even mentioning them to Clayton. And I do really like the post-win good mood that lasts for the whole week after a game…or until the Jets win. So  yeah, in all seriousness and for the health of our family, Go Fins.

After dinner Addison ran around looking adorable and showing off a new pair of kicks she got for her birthday. No, I do not mind her gooeyness at all.

A grass4

A T

A grass sun ig

Let’s talk some more about running and how good I am at it.

Okay guys, let’s just once and for all commit to no more running between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in August. I don’t know why I still have not learned this lesson after multiple occasions of sweat-induced blindness and humidity-induced slowness.

Being the valedictorian of poor running decisions that I am, I skipped outside yesterday at 11:30 a.m. Not for a peppy jaunt around the block, but prepared to do the longest run I’ve done in about five months. Don’t worry, all my tips and tricks will be featured in the book deal coming down the pipe any day now, “How to Sabotage Your Novice Running with a Completely Idiotic Training Schedule.” Just keep checking Amazon.

I like to think I only attempted this feat of lunacy because it had just stormed, the clouds were blocking most of the sun and it was still drizzling. But we all know the real reason was that Addison’s lunch time was fast approaching and if I had to sliver one more piece of fruit this week into microscopic bits, that paring knife was going to end up square in the wall after a mango slaughtering. Not ideal mothering.

Out I went, nice and slow. My knees and shins protested all week about performing general tasks like standing and walking, so I knew I needed to say a polite screw you to my pace.

Florida saw my screw you, and raised me disappearing cloud coverage and a spike in temperature halfway through my ”run,” which turned into a 2.5 mile jog, 1 mile hobble, and 0.5 mile survival.

I guess there are silver linings. I did actually complete four miles on my feet, I disproved the hideous lie that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” at mile 3.75 when I was presumably dead by medical definition and most certainly weaker, my tempo shorts farmer tan is coming in beautifully after just a few runs, and the best part, my husband had to cut up my kid’s strawberries.

Now, I know it was only four miles. But according to my top secret, too scared to fully commit to it half marathon training plan (!), that was my first long run.

And boy did that last mile bring back a flood of aching, nauseous memories about how much long runs suck. How after a certain point, your mind starts going batty and taunting you: “Walk walk walk walk.” “There’s NO WAY you can finish this.” “You’d be going faster if you were walking.”

What a jerk. Thankfully, I couldn’t hear that catty little snot towards the end because of the steady buzzing in my ears, indicative of the early stages of heat stroke. But still.

It was a sweaty little reality check that, guess what, running is still hard. But I still love
it (?!). Or I may actually be delusional from sun poisoning.