Celebrate Yourself

This past Wednesday was my 35th birthday.

Yep. THIRTY-FIVE. I feel weird saying that I’m thirty-five because for most of my life I thought that people in their 30s were…old.

I’m old.

That’s not what this post is about, however. I started running when I turned thirty. I’d previously been on a weight loss journey that didn’t really require any exercise and running a 5K was just a thing I wanted to do. I’d run in high school and it was terrible, so I wanted to kind of prove I could do it. And I did.

Here I am, five years later, training for my second marathon. On Wednesday I got up early to run, spent some time at the chiropractor (because that’s what old people do), had brunch with my bestie, went to the bookstore with another friend, shopped, then had dinner with my sister. Usually my birthday makes me maudlin for no apparent reason except the ones I create in my own brain. I fought that hard on Wednesday. Because it was my birthday, dangit.

For the past few years I’ve started my birthday with a 5K. I just add on however many extra years I am onto it. Wednesday I got up and did a nice 3.5 miles for thirty-five years and it felt great. It was a strong start to my day and really helped keep my emotions high for the most part. Running is obviously a type of therapy for me, and for so many other people.

With social media it’s so easy to get caught up in the thinking that you’re just not good enough. For me, I know that I’m never going to be one of the fast runners. I’m not a person who wants to get out there and go every single day, either. I need rests. I need to sit on the couch with a book or watch television. When I have a good run or if I’m just feeling cute (Skirt Sports for the win), I like posting and sharing. Kind of like this blog post!

Actually, my run on Wednesday was a pretty normal one, though it did feel a lot better than some of my other training runs. My point is that sometimes it’s so hard for us to talk good about ourselves. We know that we sometimes put up a front on social media, and that’s fine. No one has a perfect life. But if we wait for just those perfect/awesome/amazing days we’ll never get to celebrate.

Maybe it’s not just about posted a picture with a funny caption. Make it really is about treating yourself. Not in the sense that you should go out and buy a bunch of junk, but just that you treat yourself well.

I am the queen of self-deprecation, which is ironic because my number one love language is words of affirmation. I mean, really. But by treating yourself well, I just mean to celebrate you. The everyday you. Was it hard to get out of bed today? Did you do it? Awesome! Treat yourself with a cup of coffee. Finish a book? Great! Buy a new one. Did you run? Walk? Workout? You are amazing.

I wish it were that easy, but I know it’s not. We should treat ourselves like everyday is our birthday, right?

We can at least celebrate our little accomplishments. The little things we’re proud of.

A good run.

A workout.

You put on pants one day. (I’m on vacation, okay?)

Leave me some ways you celebrate yourself. I’m going to go celebrate with leftover cake.

Summer Challenge(s)

First off, Happy Global Running Day! I swear it was just National Running Day, but I’m not one to argue with the Important Days Calendar. I hope you are celebrating this day with some movement! I’ll be heading off on my three mile training run soon-ish. Probably.

These days I’m having such a great time not setting an alarm and getting out of bed, that I can’t even be upset that this weekend’s long run ended in a sports bra sunburn and that yesterday’s run was more of a walk. It’s summertime and this teacher is tired!

On to the point of this post, however.

On the last day of school our admin team presented us with a challenge: a summer BINGO challenge. My School is a Leader in Me Lighthouse School meaning we teach the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to our students using kid friendly language. We also strive to live by those habits and set examples for our students. This summer, to me, is all about Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw. We spend all school year working hard and not really focusing on ourselves. Sharpening the saw is doing just that.

Our summer BINGO challenge has some cool stuff on it, and I’m excited to get started. I love participating in any type of activity I can earn prizes with. I just really love prizes. I also love challenges and trying new things…for the most part. Here are a few things that are on our BINGO sheet:

-Try and activity that you’ve never done before.

-Go on a family bike ride.

-Write a positive note and mail it to a friend.

-Eat something you’ve never tried before.

-Turn off all electronics, including TV.

-Create a goal for the summer and track it daily.

-Write a list of your unique gifts and talents.

Some others included setting mission statements, cooking and eating as a family, and celebrating goals.

I love this idea because it encompasses all parts of a person, not just the physical.

So far I haven’t completed too many of these, but I’m definitely going to work on it! I’ve started an online Book Club that’s already grown to almost twenty-five people and my anxiety is doing just fine with that, thankyouverymuch. I’ve only got one trip planned so far, but I’m hoping to visit my favorite Florida parks (Disney and Universal, did you think I meant nature?), do some fun things around my house, and just R-E-L-A-X. Oh, there’s also that pesky marathon training thing I signed up to do. How could I forget that?

Summer is the best time to get back to yourself and to find new things that you love. I’d love to hear from you about your summer plans!

Now, I’m off to celebrate Global Running Day!

Be Cool, Sodapop

Summer! Don’t you just love it?

Okay, I know it isn’t “technically” summer just yet, but I live in south Florida. It’s the land of perpetual summer. Except when it’s hurricane season.

This week I tried a vlog to talk about how to stay cool and hydrated this summer. Apologies in advance for being super awkward.

 

I love this Cool It skirt!

Leave me some comments about how you stay cool.

America the Food-iful

I’ll go ahead and apologize for the punny title, but not for how much I love food (and America)! With Memorial Day coming up this weekend I thought I’d try and put together some fun, healthy-like recipes that you can share with your friends at your BBQs!

Naturally, I took to Twitter to ask my friends what they liked to make/eat and got a few good responses. After that I basically just texted my friends. I’m the kind of girl who brings the veggie tray, chips and salsa, or beer. I like to cook, but…okay, no I don’t.

Below are some recipes that you can try this weekend, if you just click the name! Some are healthy and some are just tasty.

Cowboy Caviar

This one’s great because you can eat is alone or with chips to dip!

Jell-O Poke Cake 

It’s colorful and delicious!

Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle

God bless America.

Oven Fried Pickles

Someone make me these, stat.

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is pretty much my go-to for parties. I’m actually pretty good at making it.

 

Super healthy options also include fruit or vegetables. You can get creative and go all ‘MURICA if you want, too.

What are some of your favorites?

 

How Not to Burnout

I typed that title, read it out loud, and my sister laughed at me, y’all.

Maybe it’s because I am very, very bad at taking it easy. As a teacher, the end of the year is VERY STRESSFUL, OKAY?

I’M FINE.

Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to procrastinate and I’m going to do things right…but here we are again. Some things start piling up and it feels like you can never catch up. Somehow it kind of always works out.

I feel that the same can be said about training, too.

I’ve been training for the Chicago Marathon for a little over two months now and things are really coming along nicely. My friend and I are using a Hal Higdon training plan and we’re both enjoying it. As the year comes to a close it’s hard to run together, but I’ve stated before that we have plans to train together this summer. I’m definitely excited and nervous about training during a lovely Florida summer, but at least it will be character building!

One thing I noticed when I first started training was that I was ready to go ALL IN BABY. I’d also started a weight loss journey and I just knew I was going to get svelte and everything was going to be amazing.

That was clearly not what happened. I was tired. I was working out or running every single day, and I wasn’t losing how I wanted to. I got kind of obsessed with closing the green circle on my Apple Watch. It was so satisfying to close those rings! I was so proud!

I was also burning myself out. So. I stopped cross training. I realized that the running and stretching was more important than anything else. As a runner, I know that cross training is important at the right time. I love working out. I love finding new things that my muscles can do. But I hated forcing myself to do things for no reason. (Obviously being healthy is a good reason, but it wasn’t part of my training plan.)

I’ve felt a lot better since I stopped and reevaluated my workout plan. I’ve made it to my goal weight and, with my marathon training, I’m getting read to actually add cross training back into my plan. It’s perfect timing, with summer just around the corner.

Training has been an interesting experience for me. I’ve had plenty of good runs, but I feel like the bad run outnumber them. I’m out there, though. I’m moving and getting the miles in. I’m feeling strong

Except today.

Today I put my pajamas on at 5PM.

You’ve got to take care of yourself.

Race Recap: Turtle Trot 5K

This weekend I got to run the Friends of Lovers Key Turtle Trot 5K in beautiful Southwest Florida for the third (or fourth?) year in a row. It’s a beautiful course through the Lovers Key State Park, which is 712 acres spread about Lovers Key and a few other islands. I love this race for a few reasons.

The course is b-e-a-utiful for one. I love living in Florida and, even though the heat can be murder, running it nature can be so relaxing. Sometimes I get caught up in and stop to take pictures. That wasn’t the case for this race, however. I actually had to have my friend send me pics for the purpose of this post. Oops?

The proceeds to this race also go to the Friends of Lovers Key, Inc., which helps to protect and preserve the State Park. Important things.

The first few times I’ve run this race I’ve done so alone. My friends always have other obligations, but I have no problems running the beautiful course by myself. Last year I ran with my sister and two friends, one of which was running her first 5K!

So, when I signed up this year I wasn’t expecting too many people to sign up with me. It’s a busy time of year and it was Mother’s Day weekend, so I knew people had plans. I was happy when my Best Running Friend Michelle and her family signed up, though!

I thought about setting goals for the race because I’d been really struggling on my weekly training runs. Michelle and I talked about it during our run on Thursday and both of us were just kind of confused by our bodies, to be honest. Training has been a struggle and we weren’t sure how Saturday was going to pan out.

One goal I was thinking was to at least run the entire time, with little to no walk breaks. That’s a big one for me, because I’ve been doing intervals when I run alone. I also wanted to keep pace at at least a 13 minute mile. Some of you may scoff at that number, but it’s pretty good for me, considering what my training runs have been like.

I picked up everyone’s packet on Friday before I went to a teachers’ night out even. Already I felt my goals slipping away as I drank wine and painted, but I wasn’t worried. I was scheduled to do a three mile training run, so I figured that’s what the race would be.

Saturday dawned too early (too much wine) and I made the hike out to Lovers Key. I met up with Michelle and her family about thirty minutes before race time and we hung out, checked out the porta potties, and took some pictures. The weather was projected to be rainy all weekend and, while it did sprinkle a little, it stayed nice and overcast the whole time. Lucky for us because, as a I said, running in Florida can be brutal.

Michelle’s husband and son moved to the head of the pack while we stayed kind of in the middle. We aren’t fast, but I know we were both wanting to push ourselves for the race. None of them had run the course before, but it’s a pretty simple one. And, also, it’s pretty.

When we came up on our first mile our pace was 11:47. WHAAAAAA?

All I could say was “We’re going too fast!” and laugh. Michelle and I make a lot of jokes about our pace, but that’s just how we work. We’re both on the short side and our stride just isn’t big. Besides, the only person I need to beat is myself!

At about mile two I was starting to get a little tired, so we slowed down a little. We stopped for water and walked, but not much. Both of us were feeling strong despite our talk on Thursday, so we kept on pushing. Mile two’s pace was a little slower, but not by much. It really felt like things were going by fairly quickly, considering how most of my three mile training runs had been.

A glimpse of the trail.

 

Technically an “after” photo, but check out those turtle socks!  

We were almost to the three miles mark when I got a cramp. It sucked becuase we were so close and doing so well! We walked a bit while it worked itself out and then pushed on. The finish line is just over a little bridge and right on the beach. Another reason I love this race is because it has a great place for after race pics! After we got some water and a snack we definitely took advantage of it. We also checked out race stats and I was pretty stoked about being 10th in my age group…until I realized there were actually only ten women in my age group. It’s fine. I laughed.

Coming in for the finish!

Our official race results were pretty good, since Michelle and I managed to keep a good pace. I tracked with my Nike Running app and was happy with my pace and splits. This race was two minutes faster than last year, according to my app so I’m considering that a PR for me. (Don’t argue with me, okay?)

Living that Skirt Sports Ambassador life.

The Turtle Trot 5K is a great race to start off the summer with and I hope they continue to hold it. The proceeds go to a great cause and it’s a great course. 10/10 will run again.

After the race I ate this delicious pizza. As one does.

 

Setbacks Suck

Lately it’s like a lot of this is going around. Life isn’t always perfect. Training doesn’t always go as planned. Work and family can suck sometimes. Health issues come up, injuries…the list goes on and and on, right?

While I’ve been lucky so far within my training for the Chicago marathon, I know there are always others who might be struggling. So, on the bright side, you’re not alone!

I know it’s hard and you don’t feel like you’ll bounce back, but I feel like there’s always a bright side to whatever is happening. Maybe that’s silly and too optimistic of me, but I like to think that way. For example: the end of the school year is very stressful and my students have completely checked out on me SO I focus on the fact that the school year is (THANKFULLY) almost over. Sorry, parents.

A while ago I posted about my weight loss/healthy eating plan and how I prepacked all my snacks for Disney and took all my workout clothes. Everything was great, in theory. I live in South Florida so I packed shorts, not counting on it being in the 40s every day. I did not workout. At all. Also, I got some sort of stomach bug and didn’t eat anything. Setbacks, man.

As far as my training goes, things are right on track. Any setback I’m experiencing is purely on me. My running buddy has been out of a commission for a few weeks and keeping myself accountable is the hardest part right now. There are days when I come home from work and I just want to nap so hard. Last week I even took a self-prescribed break from training. I only ran two out of the four days I was supposed to. One of those days was to be five miles and I totally skipped that one because I was babysitting over the weekend. Kids are exhausting and five miles was definitely not going to happen. (The other time was because I went to see Infinity War, for the second time, on a school night. No regrets.)

Things happen. Life happens. Sometimes we can control it, most of the time we can’t. What we can control is how we react to our setbacks and how we overcome them. I am constantly learning that as an athlete, teacher, and human. Not every run is the best, not every lesson is going to be my greatest. There are going to be times when we just want to give up when we hit a bump in the road. Chances are, though…if you want it, then it’s worth it.

Hey. You got this.

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!

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!