The Real (?) Thing

As I write this post, I’m sidelined: sofa city, sweethearts. Why? Last weekend’s 5K ended with
this happening at the literal FINISH LINE:

Yeah, ouch. (Jsyk: the doc said it was a mild sprain, and that two-ish weeks off should be
good. I have a very sexy ankle brace to wear, too. Meeeeeeow.) Honestly, though, my pride
was probably more bruised than my ankle; nothing like crashing and burning suuuuuuperpublicly!

But the funny thing is, in the aftermath, I’ve felt SO legit. Like this was my ticket into the Real Runners’ Club or something. Because when I explained why I was limping, or wearing a brace,
people nodded knowingly, as if to say, “She’s one of those people. She runs on purpose.” Is
running really that extreme of a sport these days, when on tv we regularly watch people with
2% body fat tackle giant monkey bars over a pit with ACTUAL FLAMES spurting out each
side? (If someone could explain to me what is actually happening on American Ninja Warrior, I
would really appreciate it, kthnxbai.)

Well, regardless of whether one sprained ankle really is enough for membership in the Real
Runners’ Club, I’ve had a hard time thinking of myself as an athlete since I started running.
Probably it’s my inner Fat Kid shaking her head in disbelief at the idea that I’m doing anything
that’s more strenuous than diving into the latest Maggie Stiefvater novel. All I know is that when
someone does refer to me as an athlete, I have to stop myself from looking behind me to see
who that person is talking about.

Do I have nagging self-esteem issues? Of course; who doesn’t? Although I’d love to say
running has somehow managed to instill supreme self-confidence in me, I’d be a liar if I did.
But something that has changed since I started running is my ability to appreciate what my
body can do for me. Sure, my thighs might jiggle more than I want them to, and my tummy
might not be practically concave anymore like it was in my twenties (sigh), but those thighs and
that tummy? They carried me through all the races I’ve run. Suck it, self-esteem issues.

What do I hope you’ll take away from this? Other than, “Wow, she sure does have good taste in
reaction GIFs”, I hope you’ll remember to be a little kinder to yourself the next time you’re
questioning your athletic ability (or your appearance, or whatever). More than likely, the hot
mess that you picture in your head is not what everyone else is seeing when they look at you.
Unless you’re featured on peopleofWalmart.com, that is.

Snaaaaaacks

Hey, I’m Ashley and I love food. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me in real life, follows me on any type of social media, or if you have read any of my other posts.

Crunchy things are my weakness. Ice cream is my soulmate. Pizza is my best friend.

You get the picture, right?

How did the internet get this footage of me?

It’s so easy to sit on the couch and grab a bag of chips or popcorn and just munch away, not worried about portion size or calories. I’m guilty of it, even as I’ve been trying to be on this “healthy lifestyle”. I can often be found sneaky chips and crackers and other delicious things late at night knowing the only person I’m actually hiding from is myself. It’s ridiculous!

Lately I’ve been trying SO HARD to do better with my eating habits. It’s definitely working, but not without a little change in my thinking. This definitely includes snacks.

Instead of grabbing chips or something salty, I’ve been binging on fruits and veggies. Of course, sometimes you need a little bit more to go with those fruits and veggies…because that stuff gets boring real fast.

I’m obsessed with this little cuties. The amount of them I eat might be embarrassing if they weren’t so delicious.

I’ve been toying around with Greek yogurt (yuck) and have found that it’s tolerable when I put a lot of different stuff in it. It might sound crazy, and you’re probably thinking why don’t I just eat stuff I like? Well, I’m trying very hard to stick to my plan, so that means I need to get creative.

These three things and a dash of cinnamon…

…make for a delicious fruit dip!

 

Greek yogurt is a great breakfast food time. Of course, I like to mix in bananas, cocoa powder, and sometimes even a little natural sweetener because it isn’t something I can eat by itself. For veggies, I use the yogurt and a packet of ranch season to make a super light dip. So many things to do with it!

You might be able to guess by now that I also love dips of all kinds. Hummus and carrot sticks, crackers, or cucumbers is always filling… BUT, WAIT.

Did y’all know that chocolate hummus is a thing? Because it is and it ain’t half bad.

Get on this.

These are just a few things that I’m obsessed with right now. Also: mushy bananas because those are the best.

And coffee.

Is coffee a snack?

Anyway, if you have any tips or delicious treats you love, let me know! I’m always on the lookout for new things!

Decided Not to be Stupid

Filing this in: when things don’t go as planned.

I have a problem with letting things go.

I acknowledge this. I like when my life goes according to plan. Type A, 100%. When I say that I’m going to do something, I do. No questions asked.

Even if I’m struggling; even if it’s miserable. Even when I am miserable.

I’m supposed to be lining up to run the AC April Fools 1/2 marathon right at this very moment.

But I’m not.

The past week I’ve been dealing with a very sore neck and to be honest, my training hasn’t been what it should be for a half marathon.

In the past I would have pushed through and run anyway but recently, I’ve realized that sometimes – it’s just not worth it. I don’t have anything to prove and there’s no shame in making the smart decision.

The Type A part of me sheds a tear because I’ve run this race since its inception in 2012, on my 35th birthday.

2012 – Cam’s first half marathon

And the next year with wonderful college friends.

2013

And then this AMAZING crew came from all over the country in 2014.

Miss Demeanor, Miss Chief, Miss Print, Miss Behavin’, Miss Fit, Miss Creant, Miss Placed

It’s where these epic costumes happened, with these equally epic people.

 

It’s where Chrissy and I train for many of our races together, including this one in 2016, when the weather was so awful we weren’t sure we were going to make it to the finish.

Last year was the year that I gained an 8 minute PR at this race. It was also the first time I ever run the course completely alone, which is not usually how I operate when it comes it running.

When I tweeted about the possibility of a DNS earlier this week, Lisa (@runslikemud) said she’s heard it should stand for Decided Not to be Stupid.

This applies here.

I made the decision to pull myself from this event and it is absolutely for the best. For those who are out there today, getting it done – I hope that the miles are good to you, as is the weather.

I’ll be back in AC for the new 5 mile Bungalow Beach Run in June and I’m sure many more races. But for now, I’m going to rest, recuperate, and look ahead to the next.

(And stay off Facebook because many local friends are running and it still hurts my heart a little.)(Baby steps, okay?)

Gains and Gratitude

YOU GUYS. How pumped are you that it’s Friday? I am very, very pumped. Friday means rest day (best day!) and it seems like Spring has finally clawed its way here in Virginia. At least for the foreseeable future the weather looks warm and mostly sunny. Let me tell you, I am OVER this whole “winter” thing. 

I really shouldn’t complain, though, because my parents are getting hammered with another snowstorm in Wisconsin this weekend. I guess Winter will leave when it’s good and ready. 🤷🏼‍♀️ 

It’s spring here though, and things are looking brighter. This week has been a great one in the fitness department and I’m excited to be rolling in to summer making strides in the gym. 

On Tuesday, I PR’d my snatch, making a huge jump from 115 to 155. It’s amazing how repetition and accessory strength can help one feel comfortable catching a heavy barbell overhead. Snatching is such a technical lift and truly be an expert at it, it takes years of dedicated practice and drilling. I’m still learning and perfecting my form, but this week the barbell and I got along really well. I’m proud of how far I’ve come with something that until a few months ago I’d never done before. 

Last week, Clay and I retested our 1 rep max back squat and deadlift – and I made big gains there too. Up to 280 for my back squat and 315 for my deadlift. I may not be the fastest in our gym, but I am one of the strongest… I’ll take it where I can get it! (Under a heavy barbell, apparently.)

None of these gains would be possible without support though – and I’m very lucky to have a husband who is just as dedicated to my fitness as he is to his own. I know I always have a lifting partner and someone to suffer through a metcon with – and even when he’s not able to be in the gym with me, he’s still offering feedback and pumping me up (Facebook livestreams are great for that). Clay pushes himself in the gym too, and watching him make progress and improve skills alongside me is so motivating. I’m proud of how far he’s come and the habits he’s building in and out of the gym. Being surrounded by his energy keeps me on track, too. Simply put, he’s the best. 

When Clay isn’t around, I have some of the best peeps in the gym to keep me motivated – and honestly, my progress in the last two months would have been minimal without our little crew. Pushing me to try new skills, lift heavier weights, take new classes, get in extra workouts before class… we learn from each other and challenge each other every day. I’m grateful for all of it.

So, yeah. I’m looking forward to what the next few months bring – if the past few weeks are any indication, spring and summer 2018 will be great. Bring on the sun! 

Race Recap: 2018 Philadelphia Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Philadelphia Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

In 2017 I ran the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k on my 40th birthday. This year I had the opportunity to run the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 5k representing BibRave and I jumped at the opportunity. The swag is incredible and HELLO, there is chocolate. What more could a girl want?

Well, how about a super cool friend to run with? That’s always a bonus and one of the reasons I love running so much – being with friends. Last year I ran the 15k with my dear friend Christina as a celebration for both of us turning 40. This year, novice runner Ana joined me for the 5k run around Philadelphia.

Originally when I signed up for this race, I had visions of 5k PRs danced in my head. However after a rough winter and a broken arm, my training was less than stellar. I settled into the “get it done” mentality and that worked out well because I was able to run with Ana at her first ever road race.

I chose to have my packet sent to me rather than going to the expo for an additional fee. My purple pullover and bib arrived a week and a half prior to the race. It was worth the additional cost for me to save time traveling into the city prior to race day. There was no race day pickup.

The weather this year as brisk but not uncomfortable. As I headed out the door I made a last minute decision to ditch my gloves. I later came to regret that decision but otherwise I was comfortable.

Ana and I took the train into the city from S. Jersey, which is usually my standard when it comes to Philly races. It’s easy, it’s quick, and I don’t have to worry about parking. It was packed with other Hot Chocolate runners. I don’t know the amount of people who run both races but in the 5k there were 3,406 runners. I think that the 15k is the bigger of the two races. Both races get the same pullover and finisher’s mug at the end of the race, but the 15k also gets a finishers medal, which I think is a big draw for many people.

Our quick walk from the train station to the start line served as a warm up and we made it to the Art Museum right around 7am for the 7:15am start. It was perfect timing and we even got to see a few friends before the race!

Representing BibRave with Joe!

We placed ourselves in the G corral = mullet crew, party in the back. Looking to have a good time with this, we set our timer to 1:1 intervals.

The course is similar to others in Philadelphia. Starts at the Art Museum and then winds down along the river and back again. Boathouse Row is always fun to look at, the traffic on the other side: not as much.

We spent the first mile or so bobbing and weaving, as is usually the case with races this size, but we were having fun and enjoying the race and also the people around us.

On the course they handed out chocolate and marshmallows, along with water and Nuun.

This race went by fast! Soon enough we were turning around and headed back to the Art Museum.

Free race photos? YES PLEASE!

There is a small hill right near the finish line that is always there and yet, it always catches me off guard for some reason. We decided to walk up the hill (honestly, it’s not bad at all – just me whining) and then hit the gas for the end. So much fun!

Sure running is fun but let’s talk about chocolate-y goodness, shall we? There are huge tents where you can get your mug filled with all sorts of goodies: hot chocolate, chocolate dipping sauce, pretzels, cookies, banana, and Rice Krispy treat. Last year the ground around that area was muddy and gross due to recent rain. This year there was hay on the ground, which significantly improved that situation and was much appreciated.

The line to get our treats moved quickly and soon enough we were sitting in front of the Art Museum and enjoyed our treats.

And, of course, we ran up the Art Museum steps! How could we not?

Ana is already talking about signing up again next year so I think the running bug has bitten her. (Mwahaha, excellent, everything is going according to plan.)

Life Moves Pretty Fast…But I Don’t

I’ve been running for about five years now and when I first started I never dreamed that I’d be sitting here, putting pen to paper (in a sense) about training for a marathon.

I signed up for my first marathon in February 2016 after my stepfather passed away unexpectedly. My best friend and running best friend had been thinking about it for a while, so I went for it. I felt, at that time, that it was something I just had to do. Looking back, I’m glad I took the chance. I did a recap of the Space Coast Marathon after Mer saw some pics on Instagram that I’d posted because I actually hadn’t really made it known that I was running a marathon! I wasn’t prepared for this race at all. Michelle and I had signed up for it and then training fell to the wayside.

I honestly don’t even remember developing a plan or anything for Space Coast.

So. Now we’re doing things differently.

In October I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon. Michelle signed up with the lottery and, even though I’ve only been yelling about how I didn’t want to run another marathon, the FOMO (fear of missing out) was real! It took a few weeks before I finally decided to sign up with a charity team. I chose The American Heart Association to honor my stepfather, seeing as he was the reason I decided to run a marathon the first time.

The title of this post is a nod to Ferris Bueller, of course. My family is coming with me to Chicago so we’re definitely planning on doing some touristy things while we’re there.

This time I am definitely, definitely going to be prepared. There. I’ve put it on the internet, so it’s going to happen! I just finished Week 4 of my training plan and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m doing intervals to help build up my strength because, honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve ran for longer than a few minutes at a time. At this point I’m not ready to set any goals for the race, because I just want to focus on my preparedness. I’ve even put up a calendar!

I’m trying to focus on getting a workout in everyday, but I know I’m going to need to scale it back a little. I’ve been kind of obsessed with closing the rings on my Apple Watch which really does nothing but make me happy. I might do a walk or light stretching instead of a cross training or more intense workout. It’s early on in the training schedule so I definitely don’t want to tire myself out or injure myself just yet. Or, you know, at all.

Training would be going better if I didn’t always stop to take pics for Skirt Sports. 🙂

The best thing about working with your running buddy is that you always have motivation and accountability. Michelle and I plan any short, weekly runs we can do together and keep each other up-to-date with our weekend runs. We both use the Nike+ RunClub app which notifies your friends when you go for a run.

For me, accountability is key. If there isn’t someone who knows all about what I’m doing and where I’m doing it, chances are it’s not going to happen. I’m looking forward to Chicago and seeing what I can do. My time for Space Coast was nearly seven hours, so I know I can do better than that. I’m feeling strong and we’re only a few weeks in. I know that summer will really test my commitment as the weather will be dreadful. Michelle and I have a place we like to do long runs at, so we’ll definitely be meeting up to get some training runs done.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me about this a few more times before October. If you have any training tips, I’d love to hear them, too!

Vacation Motivation

Spring Break, 2018! Woohoo!

Just kidding, I’m old and tired.

Okay, but really. Spring Break is something teachers start counting down to the moment we come back from Winter Break. It’s a time to relax and prep for whatever the rest of the year throws our way.

I’m not good at relaxing, however. I volunteered for a three day tutoring camp for the first part of break and then my family and I are taking a trip to Disney! (As I’m writing this it’s Wednesday night and it’s scheduled to post on Friday. I’m being proactive here.)

So, why am I telling you about my non-existent break? I posted a couple of weeks ago about being on the struggle bus for motivation. I was at a point where I was just feeling…blah. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked in clothes or pictures. I wasn’t feeling good about some things.

Since then I’ve been doing well getting my eating on track and working out. Every. Dang. Day. I’m currently on a ten day streak. (Yay, me.) Even being on Spring Break I’ve managed to workout and eat right-ish. I went out to eat twice and to a movie, so it definitely hasn’t been easy. I just really, really love food!

Not being at home is the hardest when you’re trying to stick with a plan. What I learned about staying on track while being at work is to be consistent and intentional. I intentionally made my lunches everyday, planning what my meals and snacks were and it worked. The same with keeping up with workouts. My sister went to school to be a personal trainer so on days I didn’t run she came up with some great things for me.

Thursday we’re leaving for a few days in Disney, so I’m planning an AM workout before we leave. In the meantime, I’ve also planned all of my snacks for park days so I don’t end up eating all the Mickey Bars, Mickey Pretzels, churros, popcorn…wait, where was I?

Right. Snacks.

Crunchy snacks on my true love. I also threw in some fruit. Whatever.

We visit parks enough that I know hydration is ALWAYS a key. No matter if the weather is supposed to be cool. I always carry my own water bottle. LOOK, MER – RAVENCLAW.

Aside from being prepared with snacks and water, I’ve also actually packed WORKOUT CLOTHES. I’m being “intentional” with bringing clothes and I really hope that I don’t fail on this part. I know I’m going to walking all the days I’m there so I won’t not be moving, but running and working out have become important to me. I don’t want to let myself down.

 

All the Skirt Sports! (And Stella the kitten, but she can’t go.)

I know I’m not going to have a perfect week, but I can’t resist delicious things. Vacations are for indulging a little, but I know (hopefully) I’m on the right track right now.

One thing I know I’m going to indulge in is a Butterbeer when I get to see Mer at Universal on Sunday.

Okay, and maybe a Mickey Bar.

Weekly Workouts (Or, “Why I Have to Go to Bed at 8pm Every Night”)

Okay. I think I’ve sat staring at this computer screen for about 30 minutes trying to come up with something to write about. I always struggle with this – I don’t feel like my life is particularly interesting at the moment, I’m not running and I haven’t run regularly in more than a year, I work out nearly every day doing CrossFit and I love it, but I never know how to talk about it. All of this is to say, I feel like I’m in a writing rut.

So today, we’re going to talk about this week’s workouts, because I can actually write about that.

Thursday

Currently, crossfitters are in the middle of the CrossFit Open – a worldwide competition that tests your fitness and your skills, and gives you a benchmark to compare your progress against. This is my first year doing the Open, though I’ve followed it for a number of years. Being a competitive person, I knew going into the Open that I wanted to push myself to do well. That being said, I also knew that if I let myself get too competitive, I would only end up getting stuck in the cycle of anxiety about the workouts, and then disappointment in my overall result. I’m relatively new to CrossFit, I’m still learning a lot of the higher skill movements, and I have quite a way to go to become proficient at many of the movements I can do. Things like handstand push-ups, handstand walks, muscle-ups… all things that I’m working on improvement and all things that have shown up so far in the Open. It’s been an empowering and humbling experience all at the same time. We have one more week to go and the last workout will be announced tomorrow. It will probably be some wicked form of torture, but it’s the last one, so I’m going to give it all I’ve got.

I did last week’s Open workout on Thursday as part of our gym’s Thursday Night Throwdowns – where, after the workout is announced, a handful of our athletes complete the workout in front of our friends and workout buddies. I was pretty amped and nervous about doing this because, like I say, I’m pretty competitive and I hate failing at anything. I was really hoping for movements that I could do and would have really preferred a heavy barbell. When the workout was announced, I was really happy – in nine minutes, we were to complete 21-15-9 reps of deadlifts (155 pounds for women) and handstand push-ups, followed by another 21-15-9 of deadlifts (205 pounds for women) and 50 ft handstand walks.

I got through 70 reps that night, making it through 21 deadlifts, 21 handstand push-ups, 15 deadlifts, and 13 handstand push-ups. I love deadlifts, but while I like the push-ups, I’m still learning how to be more efficient at them as well as strengthening my shoulders to be able to lift my body weight off the floor.

Friday

Rest

Saturday

After resting on Friday, I decided to re-do this workout on Saturday, attempting a different strategy (breaking up the push-ups earlier and managing my rest better). The second time, I got 12 more reps – finishing the round of 15, getting 9 deadlifts and 1 more handstand push-up. I was ecstatic with that, especially given how sore my shoulders were from doing it two days before.

Sunday

Headed to the gym for SpinFit Sunday morning – this class is similar to spin, but uses a bike erg instead of a traditional spin bike. I followed this up with a 5×5 back squat set, working at approximately 70% of my max. My legs were pretty smoked by the time I finished.

Monday

4 rounds for time

9 power cleans

12 alternating pistols (one-legged squats)

48 double unders

I finished in 7:33

As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP): 5 minutes

1/1,2/2,3/3,4/4, etc.

Snatch (95#)

Box jumps (24 inches)

Rest three minutes

AMRAP 4 minutes

5 pull ups

10 push ups

15 air squats

Rest 2 minutes

AMRAP 3 minutes

D-Ball to Shoulder (70#)

Tuesday

4 rounds on the 4:00

12 thrusters (65#)

12 calorie bike

18 x 10 meter shuttle sprints

then…

Build to a heavy thruster. I worked up to 165#. I stuck around for the class, as well, and did that workout, too, as it was all skill work, specifically rope climbs. I can do these, but under fatigue, they get really hard. It was good to practice these with how tired I already was.

Rest day is on the horizon and I am SO looking forward to that. Clay also gets home from more than a month and a half away in a few days, so things are looking brighter for sure. Now, if winter would GTFO of here already, I’d be really happy.

Why I Run

I get a lot of different responses when I talk about running. Some people think it’s really cool that running is something I do. Often times people get this look on their face like they want to say something rude, but are holding it in really, really well. Most of the time the response is “Oh, I hate running!” to which I always want to reply – “Me too!”

Truth is, I don’t feel that way about running. I actually love running a whole darn lot.

When I was sixteen I joined my high school’s cross country team because a friend wanted me to. The only thing I learned was that I was very bad at running. So bad that it would scar me for years and I wouldn’t even try it again until ten years later.

That time I was training for a 5K with some girls from work. I was at nearly my heaviest weight, but still trying. I never did manage to run a 5K without walking that time, but I still had some fun…I guess.

I feel like, with this story, the third time is the charm. I mentioned a little bit about it in my About Ash page, but I started running after I turned thirty. A couple of my friends and I started the Couch to 5K program and were keeping each other accountable through texts and Facebook. It was slow-going at first, but I remember the first time I was able to run five minutes without stopping. It was amazing. I was so impressed with myself and my body for doing something that I couldn’t even do when I was sixteen!

When the successes starting to pile up I got more excited about running. Being able to run 3.2 miles was a huge success for me and one that I would have proudly stopped at had I not had my friend Michelle pushing me to do more.

It’s not the distance that I love, though. I mostly run alone so I get to pick my distances. During the week I don’t run more than 2-3 miles simply because I’m pretty tired when I get off work. I know that’s a lousy excuse but I really love sleep.

When I’m out there, even if it’s a bad run, I’m still amazed at what my body can do and has already done. To me, running is not only physical, but also a mental sport. There are so many times I’m beating myself up, but also trying to beat myself, if that makes sense.

I love the feeling I get when I know I’ve pushed myself through the miles. I’ve been struggling with my runs lately, but I know that it will get better if I keep going.

I also know that I have to keep going. Honestly, running is good for my sanity! When I’m having a tough day at work and I just need to go– I run. Just me, music, and nature. Sometimes I’ll stop and just stand in nature. (Sometimes I take some really weird picture for Skirt Sports, too.)

The quietness and the peace I feel when running isn’t something I can really put into words. No matter if there are cars buzzing by or if I’m stopping to pet cats in my neighborhood. Not even if I’m struggling with the run and I just want to be home eating snacks…if I just take a deep breath and close my eyes everything goes away for just a moment.

Running keeps me balanced. It keeps me sane. It helps me know that I am capable of amazing things, but also that I’m not always perfect.

I run for me.

Why do you run?

Being a Skirt Sports Ambassador means I’m always on the lookout for secluded spots so strangers don’t see me taking pictures of myself. 😉