Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My 30 Days of Thankfulness

I know the new thing on social media is to post each day about what you're thankful for during November.  While I like the idea of it, posting it on Facebook isn't my cup of tea.  I like compiling lists.  I like things in order, in one spot.  I'm an Aquarius, it's what we do.

In no particular order I give you my 30 Things I'm Thankful For:

  1. My husband.  Anyone who puts up with me on a regular basis should never be taken for granted.  He's also the hardest working man I know and always makes sure we, as a family, are taken care of.
  2. A job that I truly enjoy.  While it may be one of the most stressful jobs that I'm certain has taken years off my life, I get to work every day with an incredibly talented and hilarious group of people.  Even on the worst of days, we still manage to squeeze a little bit of fun in.  Frequent happy hours and inappropriate jokes help too.
  3. My health.  My family has the odds working against them when it comes to genetics, so I do everything within my power to keep my health in order.  The rest is up to God.
  4. In addition to health, I am particularly thankful to the doctor's who have helped keep me healthy this year.  Between severe allergies and running injuries, somebody has to keep this body functioning right.
  5. My relationship with God.  It's a personal relationship that has grown tremendously over the last couple of years.  It's not perfect and may not be considered ideal by some, but it works for me and that's all that matters. 
  6. Girls On The Run - Being picked to be a coach has been such an amazing journey!  I have learned so much and have had my eyes opened to the struggles of the youth.  Hoping I can continue to help make a change for them and bring a new generation into running.
  7. Our dogs - Eddie, Lucy Lu, and Hank.  They are all "special needs" rescues who have nothing but love in their hearts.  I wouldn't trade them in for all the "normal" dogs in the world.  You'll never know the love of a dog until you've gotten love from one that you gave a second chance at life.  Adopt don't shop.
  8. Second chances.  My 20's have been a rough ride and I've been blessed with second chances that at times I probably didn't deserve.
  9. Running.  Running give me strength, confidence, and sanity.  Running came into my life at a time when nothing made sense.  It always gave me something positive to strive for when so many other negative factors were trying to find their way in. 
  10. Seat warmers in my car.  Completely unnecessary luxury but I love them. 
  11. My parents.  They provided an incredible childhood growing up but also made me understand the importance of working hard.  I've had a job since the day I turned 15 and thankful for that.
  12. A good work ethic.  I don't expect anything to be handed to me.  I've busted my tail for years to get to where I am now and I don't plan on stopping.  A good work ethic seems to be such a foreign concept to many in the upcoming generations.  
  13. Technology.  Our lives seem to revolve around it these days, and it also happens to be the industry that pays our paychecks.  
  14. A snarky sense of humor.   I'm a smart ass.  I don't have much of a filter.  I have really thick skin so I can take it just as much as I can dish it.  Humor and being able to find it in any situation is what has gotten me through some of the major lows in life.
  15. AdvoCare.  I've taken the products for years (they're awesome) but it wasn't until last year that I started sharing them with others and creating a nice side income.  It's my "running fund" that pays for race fees, travel expenses, gear, doctor's visits, etc.  I average $1,000 month and growing.  It's been a huge blessing!
  16. Being an Aunt.  I love having a niece and a nephew to spoil!  
  17. True friendships.  I'm very guarded and keep a small circle that I consider true friends. 
  18. Music.  I grew up around music of all kinds and I am an old soul.  If I ever have kids they too will grow up in a home filled with the classics of rock, blues, Motown, and country...not the garbage that they currently play on the radio.  When they're older they'll also know the greatness that is Tupac, Eazy-E, Beastie Boys, and Digital Underground.  They'll need to be well rounded ya know :)
  19. Travel!  This year we've gotten to travel to some really fun places and more are in the works for 2014!  We truly enjoy seeing the world on foot and are so blessed to be able to do so.
  20. Grandparents.  I don't see my grandparents nearly enough but I don't know too many people my age who still have their grandparents still with them.  It's truly a gift! 
  21. Modern day luxury that is known as the dishwasher.  Ours went out for two days and I about lost it at the thought of having to hand wash the million pieces of tupperware we go through each week.  Luxury item, yes.  Am I thankful for it, absolutely. #firstworldproblems
  22. Animal rescues.  The number of animals euthanized every year due to irresponsible owners and breeders is astounding and heart breaking.  Rescues do incredible work but are in constant need of donations to continue doing what they do.  Please consider making a donation to an animal rescue, especially during the holidays as they prepare for the "after Christmas rush of people who thought puppies would be a great gift".  I'm not making this up, it's actually a real problem.
  23. Thankful that I still love to learn.  I enjoy reading and educating myself, particularly on running and exercise.  You're never too old to feed your brain and learn something new.   
  24. My sister.  We're complete opposites in just about every aspect of life but we're still the best of friends. 
  25. The group of friends we have found through our NTX Runners group!  We're all crazy, that's why we get along so well.
  26. Post-it notes.  My work tasks would never get done without them.
  27. Caffeine - usually in the form of Spark.  Again, my work tasks would never get done without it.
  28. Thankful I married into a family that blessed me with two sets of in-laws.  The best part?  They are both awesome!  
  29. Naturally long eyelashes.  Sounds silly but I'm not a makeup wearing kind of gal.  So if I had to bring a long fuzzy stick with black tar looking stuff on it or one of those crazy eyelash clamp/curler/torture device near my eyes every day - I'd go crazy.
  30. I'm thankful that my 30th birthday is right around the corner!  So ready to put the 20's behind me!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  Remember to give thanks every day (not just on the holiday) and also remember to wear your stretchy pants.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Girls On The Run Coach - Fall 2013

I started this journey back in September with not a single clue as to what I was doing.  I've never taught or coached especially in this type of environment and I sure as heck have never worked with kids before.  Me?  The person who doesn't even know if they want kids signing up to work with them twice a week?  Trust me, I found it just as crazy.  I had been searching for awhile on a way to give back and when this opportunity came up, I knew it wasn't just a coincidence.

For ten weeks I spent every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon/evening with 6 of the funniest, quirkiest, sweetest, and hard working group of girls.  Of course some days were more challenging others but more often than not we had a lot of fun!  When you work with adults one of the hardest challenges I face is getting people to take "I can't..." out of their vocabulary.  Same goes with kids.  This experience was a huge eye opener to the battles these kiddos face each day with bullying and self esteem.  Sadly the problem starts with the older generations and how so many have adopted the "I believe something different than you, so it's my place to tell you why you're wrong" attitude.  Social media has given too many a huge platform to try and criticize, degrade, and bully each other simply because they don't like something.  The future generations will follow in our footsteps if we as adults can't get back to following the golden rule.  But I digress, that's a post for another day.... 

Ten weeks ago a few of the girls didn't think they could do it, or didn't think they could keep up with some of the faster girls.  Every class I emphasized it's not about being the fastest it's just about getting out there and doing it, and leaving it all out there when you're done.  Not every class was just about running.  Each class we talked about important topics such as bullying, being thankful, giving back to our community, working as a team and how to be leaders and good friends.  We also introduced creative ways to strengthen their little legs, like doing frog hop races across the the gym floor:

One of my favorite classes was about three weeks ago when one of my girls who was a big "I can't..." personality, ran up to me (in a dead sprint) and said "Coach Lindsay I'm getting faster, I can really tell!"  More than just the "getting fast" part, she had confidence in her that I hadn't seen all season and became a leader of the group.  Mission accomplished.

Our last class we spent doing a project as a way to say thanks to the recreation center that so kindly donated their facility space for us to use during our program.  We invaded the Joe Farmer Recreation Center for 10 weeks, so we wanted to say thanks!  The girls made a gingerbread house complete with every kind of candy one could think of, and I'm pretty sure they ate two pieces for every one they put on.

Thank you to the staff at Joe Farmer, y'all are awesome!

This past Saturday was our big event at the Gobble Hobble 5K.  Hundreds of Girls On The Run kids and coaches who have worked so hard over the last 10 weeks came together to have some fun!  While the race was freezing, drizzling, and windy we all had smiles on our faces and made the most of it!  All of the girls were required to have a buddy with them for both safety reasons and to encourage them along the way.  Brandon actually got called in to run with the speedster of the group!  I hung back and ran with one of my girls and I'm so glad I got to.  We had a good talk :)
Our crew.
Finishing the race!  She surprised me at the end and took off on a dead sprint to finish line.  Finish strong!
I am so so so proud of these young ladies.  Everyone finished the race and finished it with a smile!  While the program isn't about being the fastest runner, I do have to brag that one finished FIRST in her age division, and the other came in ninth in her age division.  Woot woot! 

I am forever grateful for this experience and all it has taught me.  Girls On The Run took me WAY outside of my comfort zone and I am so thankful it did.  Thank you girls for everything you've taught me over the last ten weeks.  Running changed my life a few years ago and I hope that they took something away from this that will change theirs as well.  I look forward to another season!

All of the DFW Chapters of GOTR

If you have a Girls On The Run program in your area I high recommend you check it out.  Of course your kids can participate but volunteer coaches are always in need. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So what's the scoop ice cream?

It's almost crazy how fast time is flying by.  It seems like just last weekend was the DRC half marathon that I recapped, but wham, no that was two weeks ago.  I've been slacking on the blogging but not the running!  I should also mention that when you work with online retail around Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you're just a weeeeee bit busy.  So here's whats been going on....

The week that followed the DRC Half Marathon, Brandon and I took a much needed vacation.  We hit the road and went to Memphis for a weekend of fun, blues, Beale Street, Elvis, and Sun Records.  It also consisted of eating nothing with nutritional value for four days, and no running.  Bleh.  After feeling like a busted can of biscuits for a few days, I was so ready to get back on track with my running!  The running schedule and AdvoCare cleanse started as soon as I got back and boy do I feel better!  Day 9 of the cleanse and I'm down 3 lbs, that should take care of Memphis.

 To continue my quest to becoming a smarter runner, I attended an all-day class on Keeping Athlete's Healthy/injury prevention this past Saturday.  The class was lead by Janet Hamilton from Running Strong Coaching who was a wealth of knowledge!  I learned so much in just 8 hours that I honestly wished it was a two day course.  Running unfortunately is a sport that is plagued with a variety of injuries.  The information we gained about how to prevent, treat, and recover will definitely come into play every day with training.  I hope to use this information not only for myself, but to help others as well!  One of the biggest things I learned about myself while practicing Functional Movement Tests?  I need to work on strengthening my hip, particularly my left side.  Which surprise surprise, my left side is where I get all my injuries.  I told the doc just the other day that I really just need an all new leg.  Hip strength plays a HUGE factor in running injuries.  Knowledge is power right?  So this week I've added clam shells and bridge progressions to my weekly routine of core work.  Gait assessment, shoe wear patterns, stretching routines, eccentric and concentric movement ....I could go on and on!  Exercise Physiology is completely fascinating to me.  I love to learn though, the brain needs a workout too.  I'll spare you the details of the entire course, but if you have any questions let me know.

Even prior to my injury class I knew I had to step up my game with my core and strength work.  Since I thrive on spreadsheets and plans, I decided to take on the 30-Day Squat and Ab Challenge.  Tomorrow will be day 18 (took a few days off in Memphis #notsorry) and let me tell you something, WOW!  I've seen huge improvements.  Just to compare....

Day 1:
50 squats
15 situps
5 crunches
5 leg raises
10 second plank

Pssshhhh, that was easy breasy!

Day 18:
155 squats
80 situps
110 crunches
48 leg raises
70 second plank

Feel.  The.  Burn. (mind you I'm still keeping up with my running plan)

I could run 10 miles on any given day but when I started this I struggled with that 10 second plank.  Sad, so sad I know. Now I can knock out a 60 minute plank like a boss.  Amazing what a little consistent effort over time can do for the body!  Same goes for running...consistent effort will lead to results! 

So why all of the added strength and core work all of a sudden?  Well, I need to get stronger in general but the bigger motivation is that we have decided to sign up for the New Year's Double!  We will close out 2013 with a half marathon on NYE and then kick off 2014 the right way with a half marathon on NYD!  26.2 miles covered in two days and I could not be more excited!  The race has always peaked my interest but this year we just decided to go for it after seeing the gorgeous medal(s) that will await us at the finish line.  I will be out there amongst my peers of fellow crazy runners who are all willing to make the sacrifices year round to do what we do.  New Years Eve will be spent lounging around and taking an ice bath, I know you're jealous.  Honestly, I can't imagine kicking off a new year any other way.  I'm hoping all of the additional strength work will pay off, especially around mile 10 on day 2.

The crew at New Years Double is nice enough to provide a generic training plan for each distance.  I've adopted their plan and tweaked it to my needs.  The next few weeks will consist of increased mileage, the Metro PCS Dallas Half Marathon, back-to-back weekday runs to work on cumulative fatigue, and making some of these runs tempo runs for good measure.

 So what are everyone's goals for the end of 2013? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A "How it all started" Race Report....

It was four years ago that I ran the DRC Half Marathon for the first time, it was also my first half marathon...ever!  Back in 2009 Brandon was not a runner.  He had never run more than a couple of miles and at the time he had no desire to.  He has always been super supportive of my running and has never missed a race.  Through all my years of running I've only had true "course support" at the NYC Marathon, that's it.  So his support means the world to me!  For my first half he made a Team Lindsay shirt, sported it proudly, and braved the frigid temps at the wee hours of the morning to cheer me on.  Pictures from 2009....
Such a trooper.


I'm taking this race report as an opportunity to maybe encourage some people to step out of their comfort zone and take the word "can't" out of their vocabulary.  Two weeks ago I was asked by a friend: 

"Have you always been into running? I've tried many times and failed on all attempts to get into it and stick to it. I ran a mile once without stopping. What's your tip?"

I started this running journey not knowing much.  Running started as a form of stress relief and to stay in shape.  When I started, I too could barely get through a mile.  Week after week of staying on a fairly consistent training schedule, one mile turned into two...two miles turned into three....etc etc.  The biggest tip on how to "be a runner"?  Stick with it.   I certainly did not shoot out of the womb with running shoes on. 

In the picture above I was terrified (and freezing).  I knew I had trained but wasn't really sure what to expect.  Worth noting in that picture, for my first race I didn't have a fancy Garmin watch, no water belt, no GU, that's my giant iPod strapped to my wrist, and my personal favorite - I'm wearing a thick $5 cotton t-shirt that I picked up at Target.  I didn't know what pacing meant.  My training just consisted of hitting certain mileage week after week.  I didn't know what a tempo run was or how many ounces of water I should be drinking before/during/after a run.  Without all of the fancy accessories and knowledge, I finished the race!  I might have suffered some serious chaffing from that ol' cotton shirt, but lesson learned and I purchased BodyGlide.  I was so happy at the finish line!  My first medal.
2009 Finish Time: 2:22:41
You don't have to know everything about running to be a runner, you just have to start.  Once you start, you have to stick with it.  If you had told me at my first half that one year from that day that I would be running the NYC Marathon, I would have laughed hysterically.  But that's exactly what happened.  In November 2010 I was so blessed to get to run my first 26.2 at one of the most historic races in the world.  I always refer to running as an adventure, because that is exactly what it has been for me!

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Brandon wasn't a runner back in 2009 right?   For those who know Brandon currently you know him as the super speedy, has to be partial Kenyan runner.   When Brandon first decided to take on running with me he started out slower than me.  True story.  For our "long runs" (of four miles) we would head to the bridge in Rockwall and run it back and forth.  After two miles he would be winded.  As he progressed we started doing a 5-mile loop together and I was actually faster than him.  My my my how time has changed!  He too started out just putting one foot in front of the other and ran his first half marathon in March 2011 with a finish time of 2:01:14.  Just last weekend he finished the Allstate 13.1 with a 1:40 finish time.  We are a far cry from elite status but the point is you have to start somewhere.

2009 to 2012 I ran several races, and many in fun destinations!  While I stayed pretty consistent with my training I didn't really change it up much.  I finished my races with respectable times but I wasn't seeing the improvements that I thought would just happen over time.  A few of those races I actually finished well over my first half marathon finish time which was frustrating to say the least.  You mean I don't just naturally get better and faster?  About a year ago I really started to focus on the nitty gritty of running.  I wanted to become a smart runner.  I wanted to understand how to be efficient, how to improve, and how to get stronger.  I became a certified running coach through the RRCA and  started to educate myself on how to prevent injury, how to strengthen my weak areas, and learning that even though it's my knee that hurts, it's likely not my knee that is actually injured etc.  I did a ton of research on nutrition and finding the fueling method that works for me.  Hill repeats, tempo runs, altering paces based on what type of run is needed, have all been implemented over the last year.  Finally stepping out of my comfort zone is when great things started to happen!  Set a new PR for the half marathon in March 2013 (took me two years to break my previous time), I PR'ed the San Francisco marathon in June by 35 minutes, and in October I FINALLY broke a goal that I have had in the back of mind for a couple of years now - I ran a half marathon in under 2:10!  More important than the actual time was that I pulled that time two weekends in a wasn't a "fluke".  Of course seeing the time on paper is nice, but mostly it's just huge validation that my hard work is paying off.  I am seeing improvements in my fitness and overall health.  Mentally and physically I am becoming a stronger, smarter, more efficient runner.

Four years later, my 2013 DRC Half Marathon finish of 2:09:30 is my new PR.

One of the biggest insults I can receive is for someone to say "but it's so easy for you".   While I can appreciate what you might be trying to say, it's easy to forget that we all start somewhere.  

I remember that first mile.  
I remember being out at the River Legacy trails and seeing incredibly fit runners blaze past me making it look "so easy" and thinking that I wanted to feel like that.  
I remember almost passing out after my first 10K.  
I remember just three weeks ago at The Showdown Half Marathon almost throwing up from the heat.
I remember it wasn't until my 5th half marathon that I was able to run the whole thing without stopping.  That was such a HUGE victory for me!
I remember hurting so bad after the NYC Marathon that I literally just wanted to cry on the steps of the subway because each step was more painful than the last. 
I know waking up before sunrise 4-5 days a week and on weekends isn't always easy.

I know I can speak for many runners when I say that every day brings new challenges and it is a constant battle to continue to challenge ourselves and work towards improving each and every day and making the sacrifices that will get us there.  We all started with that first mile.  Are some people more naturally gifted with their running abilities?  Absolutely.  Will someone always be faster than you?  You bet.  Are some more injury prone than others?  Yep >raises hand<  

The question was posed today in our local running group "What makes a good runner?"  Some people would be quick to respond that you have to be fast, you have to be able to run at least "X" amount of miles, or you have to win races to make you a good runner.  A good runner is not defined by a pre-determined speed, distance, or running form.  

In my opinion, a good runner... 
  • is someone who is willing to put in the work and willing to make the sacrifices that will help them improve
  • is constantly chasing a new goal or looking to push the limits of their ability. 
  • is not constantly comparing themselves to other runners,  but instead is able to focus on their own personal goals.
  • is mentally tough and able to battle through the bad runs (because there will be plenty) and keep pressing forward.
  • is eager to share their stories and experiences in order to help others in their quest to becoming that "good runner"    
  • is able to have FUN on the course, even when things aren't going how they'd hoped.
  • is a HAPPY runner!   
A good runner knows that at any point the gift of movement and running could be taken away from us in an instant.  A good runner is thankful just to be running.