What We Do When We’re Not Scooting

It’s hard to believe but Scoot a Doot has been in existence since 2013! When we aren’t Scooting our Doots, we can be found putting our time and effort toward other notable endeavors. Like what, you ask? Well…

A few years ago I got involved with the Bullock Children’s Garden at my younger son’s school. We have since moved to a different school district but remain involved with the Bullock Garden, as it’s something that is near and dear to my heart.

Therefore when my friend and gardening mentor, Sonya Harris started the Bullock Garden Project, Inc., a non-profit that assists in bringing gardens to schools, I was 100% on board. In fact, we just helped the new school my son is in with their Reimagination Garden. I absolutely love being on the board of the BGP and helping with the social media/marketing aspects. It’s not only personally enjoyable, it’s also rewarding to see the kids getting so much from the gardens that they help create.

My children during the recent garden build. At this point they’re just like – what has mom signed us up for now? Ha!

I’ve been asked (by more than one person) if I’m a teacher. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are teachers? Anyway, no, I’m not.

At least, not in the traditional sense. I used to teach Stroller Strides, which was a workout class for moms with kiddos in strollers. These days, I’m the coordinator for the non-profit Healthy Kids Running Series – Mullica Hill/Mantua.

It’s perfect because it combines two things that I love: running and kids. Oh, and being in charge. The Healthy Kids Running Series is something I’d heard about over the years (my location started in 2015 with different coordinators).

When I took over as coordinator for this spring, it became a family affair. It is not a one-person show and I have no delusions that I could do it alone. My support system consists of my family and an awesome group of volunteers and sponsors – and that’s important when you have over 250 kids to manage!

Planning for the fall has already begun and I’m looking forward to introducing more kids to the love of running!

I started a personal blog when I turned thirty. I wrote about life, teaching, books, and my new found running obsession. When I started writing for Scoot, I turned it into a blog about teaching. There’s always plenty to say about the best job ever. My feelings are all over thisgirlashteaches.blospot.com.

I also grew from that blog been writing and rambling about books for about three years. I’ve always loved to read and I also love to talk about books. I could talk about books all day. Of course, not everyone wants to hear me wax poetic about what I’m reading, so I started typing is all up. You can find my randomness at www.thisgirlashreadsstuff.com. As you can see, I’m really serious about it.

For my birthday this month, I decided to fundraise for Planned Parenthood. PP is doing work that so many women (and men) in our country depend on for their overall health. They provide safe access to abortion services as well as birth control, STI/STD screenings, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests, and treatment for a number of other health issues.


The Trump Administration is working hard to take access to this healthcare away from us. With a new gag rule, he and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar are now trying to make it official government policy. The gag rule is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights. Period. The new gag-rule announced this week would block patients from care at Planned Parenthood, and it would prohibit medical providers across the country from being able to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.Women must be able to have agency over their bodies and be able to control their own health. We don’t live in Gilead… yet. Let’s keep fighting to make sure we never do.
Parkland. Santa Fe. Las Vegas. Newtown. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Thurston. 
This list goes on and on and on. Add these to the growing number of black men and women that have been unlawfully killed by police? It’s evident we have a gun violence problem in our country. I’m ready to change that. Don’t at me. 
For years, my main hobby was showing dogs and educating folks about responsible dog ownership and ethical breeding. It was a fun ride, but as my dogs aged and my hubby and I got sick and tired of the politics of showing, we retired and stepped away from our officer roles with the Rocky Mountain Pug Dog Club. It was time to try new things.

Me and my Archie, CH Palace’s Brocade in Blue, raking in the points!

Honestly, 97% of my time these days is dedicated to finishing my house. The other three percent is reserved for pursuing my dream of becoming a published author, and leading the writing critique group I co-founded, Tall Pines Fiction Writers. We meet every other Wednesday to support, commiserate, and provide feedback on one another’s work. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. I love reading and excelled in English and literature classes in school but never tried to write fiction. My boyfriend (now husband) kept telling me I should write because I love to read. He didn’t really get that the two are not the same thing at all.

In 2009, I decided to write a short story for a contest online. I sent it off, nervous because I knew my technical skills needed a lot of work.  With the help of a great editor who became one of my best friends, I won the canon category of the contest! Yes, it was a Twilight fan fiction story. Judge me all you want, I regret nothing. It sounds silly, but winning that contest changed my life. It taught me that maybe I had what it took to really be a writer. Since then, I’ve published two short stories!

There is nothing quite so special as seeing your name in print in a real book that wasn’t published by your friend’s indie publishing house.

Right now, I’m focused on finishing the first draft of my young adult paranormal sci-fi novel, and trying to learn about the publishing business. I launched a website earlier this year,  Author J.L. Perez, where you can follow along on my crazy writing adventure, and I’m on Twitter at @Author_JLPerez. I’d love to see you over there!
That’s what we’ve got going on these days! We’d love to hear about what you are up to so please, leave links for us in the comments and we’ll swing by. 

Ready, Set, Camp!

Last weekend, Clay and I celebrated our one year anniversary (!!) which is really crazy to think that a year has already gone by – time is weird and I don’t understand it. 
Crazy. All of that silliness doesn’t feel like a year ago. Clay and I just really want to throw our wedding again every year in celebration. Maybe we’ll actually do that some day, because it was really just the most fun day ever.

Anyways. To celebrate reaching this milestone, we decided that instead of taking a vacation or staying at some fancy hotel we’d rather go play outside and sleep in the woods. We reserved a camping spot at Westmoreland State Park, about and hour and half south of DC and on the banks of the Potomac River. When we arrived, we set up camp in record time (the upside to a small tent!), and decided that since it was already so hot out (90 degress, natch), we’d check out the trail that went down to the beach, because sitting by the water seemed like a good way to cool down a little. When we got to the beach, we discovered the best little coves, and we had one all to ourselves so we scrambled over the rocks for a while, enjoying the view of the river and the Chesapeake Bay. It was really beautiful and the perfect place to spend some time relaxing.  When we headed back to our campsite, we had to climb back up the bluff – which was a great workout (lololol), but it did make for a great picture.Once we got to the top, we decided to find another trail and keep up the hiking for a little while longer. We wound our way back to a lake where we ended up sitting and listening to bird and frog songs for a good half an hour, while watching for turtles. It was the best way to wind down and really take in the natural world.

Typically when we camp, we like to cook over the fire, but since we’re still in the midst of our adventure with RP, we prepped our food before we left home and just kept it in the cooler. However, we did stray from the RP templates a little with dessert, because we feasted on our wedding cake! It was delicious the first time around and a year later? Just as delicious. It kept really well in the freezer! It was really fun to bring ourselves back to our wedding day with that cake – so many good memories, and more added with the celebration of our anniversary.

I’m really excited for so many more years of camping and hiking and building fires and going on adventures with this dude. He’s really just the best.

Adventuring in Asheville

What do you get when you gather 9 ladies in a new city and a weekend full of bachelorette-ing plans?

A whole lot of fun, is what.

Last weekend, I joined some of my favorite friends (and some new ones) in Asheville, NC to throw a hen do for one of our best girls. Ladies came from Georgia, Colorado, Texas, New York, London and DC and we brought our party pants (and maybe some penis confetti to boot).

Any weekend adventure that starts and ends with a road trip is good in my book and this was no exception. Four of us traveled together from the DC area (about an 8 hour haul), and during the drive made sure to set the tone for the weekend by creating a playlist with some of our favorite 2000s kids throwback jams. Lots of NSync, Britney, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Ginuwine – because what bachelorette party is complete without Pony?

Our first evening in North Carolina was pretty laid back – dinner and drinks and a drum circle (not in our plans, but witnessed in the center of town). The tame evening and relatively early bedtime was necessitated by the jam-packed day ahead.

Saturday morning dawned with promise of Pilates…. accompanied by puppies. The class – which took place at the humane society – was pretty low key, all levels welcome type stuff, but I still managed to get a decent workout in. That is, when I wasn’t trying to cuddle all the puppies in the room. Those little stinkers were so fun and they seemed to love all of the attention. They tolerated being picked up and used as Pilates props, which seemed like a great way to socialize them before they are adopted. It’s lucky that the pups weren’t eligible for adoption while we were there, because I would have 100% gone home with one. No joke.

10/10 would Pilates or yoga with tiny animals again. Few things are better than puppy breath.

After begrudgingly leaving the puppers behind, we went straight down to the French Broad River for some stand up paddleboarding. Somehow, I’d never done SUP before and to be honest I was a little nervous. Mostly about looking stupid. Which is dumb, so I got over it pretty quickly and once we were on the water we had so much fun. Three of us were on individual SUPs and the other six had a party sized SUP. Paddling that thing made you feel like a real life Moana. Yes, I did sing that song, too.

We managed only one casualty toward the end of our float, and most of us stayed pretty dry – except me, when I got a little too cocky when doing a snatch with my paddle, slipping, and nearly falling in. #crossfitproblems

After we expertly guided our party barge to the boat slip, we returned donned our best flannel and headed over to the New Belgium Brewery – now is when I remind you all that in January, Clay and I decided to take a year off of drinking – visiting the brewery was awesome. The tour was great, and the view was spectacular (they are situated along the same river we had floated earlier!) and from what I understand, the beer was pretty good too. We hung around there for a good chunk of the afternoon and into the early evening before heading back to our hotel for dinner, bachelorette games and an evening of frivolity. What happens in Asheville after midnight, stays in Asheville. 

The next morning came too soon, and after a lovely walk around town to find coffee, we were off to brunch and then back on the road home. I would love to visit Asheville again – I’m sure there is so much more to the city that we didn’t see. Until next time!

 

Renaissance Periodization and ALL the Food Math

Who loved math in high school?

Okay. I know that there are some of you that genuinely did, but I was not one of those people. I hated math. It didn’t come naturally to me. I had to work twice as hard to get a good grade and since high school I feel like I haven’t flexed any of those math muscles at all.

At least until I started doing Renaissance Periodization and doing literally ALL of the food math ever.

Let me rewind for a second and explain what I’m talking about. Renaissance Periodization, or RP, is a diet template (not a “diet” in the traditional sense, but diet like “the food you eat”) that is scientifically formulated to optimize nutrition and training.

Renaissance Periodization was founded with the understanding that science is the surest path to the truth, and in this field, to results. Our approach is the rigorous application of scientific principles to nutrition and training. Everything we do is built on a foundation of peer-reviewed literature and experimentally confirmed theory.

I’ve worked for a long time at making my body healthy and strong, but I know there is more I can do to be stronger and healthier. I’ve written before about my relationship with my body image and I’ve talked a lot about my philosophy on healthy eating. I generally do a pretty solid job of eating whole, nutritious foods, getting the right nutrients, and maintaining a healthy relationship with food in general. However, stepping on the scale showed me that I was still “overweight” (by BMI standards) and for as frequently as I work out and as healthy as I eat, I couldn’t seem to make that needle move even a little bit. I suspected my problem was, in fact, undereating.

I exercise 5-6 days a week, typically for 1-2 hours a day. Based on MyFitnessPal (where I was tracking my meals), I was only eating around 1800 calories a day. That is NOT enough, given my calorie output. However, I was in a food routine and it was hard for me to make myself eat more than that. Chronic undereating can really eff up your metabolism and ultimately tell your body to store fat because it thinks you need the energy.

That’s where RP comes in. A number of folks at our gym have used it to great success, and I’ve followed a bunch of athletes who also use it (olympic weightlifters and crossfitters). I thought that maybe following a template with a little more structure and expertise than I could offer myself may work a little better in my effort to lose some body fat and build strength. Clay, who has the opposite problem as me, wanted to use RP to do a muscle gain. We bit the bullet and each purchased our personalized templates.

According to RP:

Each diet offers the option to structure your meal timing for training days on which the training is done first thing in the morning and in every 3-4 hour interval later, all the way up to a late night session before bedtime. Non-training day diets come standard with every template.

Each fat-loss and muscle gain is designed to be run for approximately 3-6 months, with the programming to help you gain or lose anywhere between 5 and 25lbs in that 3-month span, depending on your body size, caloric expenditure, and goals.

The included maintenance diet (the base tab) that comes with both the cutting and massing plan can be run for as long as you want if your goals are to maintain your weight and improve your recovery and performance.

This is an example of the template I’ve been using

The best part about RP is the mentality. Yes, you are given a set of templates that dictate what your meals should be. However, the minds behind this business know that humans make choices and life happens and sometimes we fall off the wagon, sometimes we have life events we want to celebrate, and sometimes we mess up. There’s no penalty, there’s no guilt, they just say to get back on track tomorrow. That’s it. I love that way of thinking because I know that over the course of 12 weeks, I will be 99% compliant, but my birthday is next month, so is my anniversary. I want to celebrate both of those things and I will and I won’t worry or feel bad about it at all.

We started our respective templates at the beginning of the month and are currently in our fourth week. I’ve been doing SO much food math (lots of cross-multiplication) to determine the quantity of food I need to meet the required macronutrients per meal. So much math, that we’ve started to keep notebooks with our meals written out in grams and formulas that tell us what we need to make sure our meals are complete. Not to mention, our meal prep skills are ON POINT. Every Saturday, the fridge is packed to the brim with groceries, and every Sunday, those groceries are turned into 25 meals, neatly packed in tupperware.

So, yes. High school algebra has found a way back into my life. Much to my chagrin. But, this time, I’m happy to do it. I’ve seen small progress – which is appropriate given the time period I’ve been on the template – both on the scale and in the mirror, the latter being the more important of the two for me, honestly. I just want to feel confident in my body and know that I’m fueling it the best I can to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself.

Here’s to 8 more weeks of food math!

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! 

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.

#Read2018 Check In

Somehow, it’s March, Team. I don’t know how we got here, but we did and this month is nearly halfway over. The Ides Of March are upon us.

In the spirit of a little Shakespeare, I thought I’d check in on my reading list so far this year. You may remember that one of my goals was to read at least 15 books in 2018. As of March 11, I have finished nine books and have started my 10th!

My list so far has been a mix of memoir and make believe. Historical fiction and fantasy. I thought id give you a peak at what I’ve finished in 2018:

 

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Even at 19, she was already a better writer than just about everyone else. I’m grateful we have her words left to us.

Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden
It’s rare to find a book – by a politician, no less – that manages to eat at every corner of your heart. Joe Biden’s memoir of the last years of his son’s life, juxtaposed against the responsibilities and pressures of the vice presidency reveals a man who’s most important duty in life is to care for people around him. It’s vulnerable, it’s genuine, and no matter your opinion of him politically, it’s hard to deny the honesty with which he addresses tragedy and loss. Grief is a universal language and it knows no political affiliation. “Promise Me, Dad” is a meditation for those in mourning and a vision for a brighter future.

Thank you, Joe, for sharing your grief in such a beautiful way and for reminding us that we all have something to work and hope for.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
If you enjoy historical fiction, the WWII-era, and the complex emotions woven throughout our collective memory.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Can Celeste Ng just write all the things? Please? This was such a beautiful story to read. (Go read it and “Little Fires Everywhere” now.)

Fierce by Aly Raisman
I’m a sucker for sports memoirs, and Aly’s Fierce met all my expectations. I’m so proud to see the voice she’s found and the courage she’s shown, not only in the last few months surrounding the Larry Nassar trial, but also in her career. She’s an impressive young woman.

Girl at War by Sara Novic
Sara Nović’s Girl at War is an incredibly vivid account of the Balkan Wars of the early 90s. I’ll admit, I know shamefully little about this period of history, and this story gave me some incredible perspective. For as much literature as there is about the Holocaust, it’s easy for us to say “but that was so long ago…” – the same types of things were happening in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and the other nations that made up Yugoslavia not even 30 years ago. The same things are happening now in Syria. In Myanmar. We still have so much to learn.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
I decided I wanted to read some Shakespeare that I haven’t read before, and somehow I graduated with an English degree without having finished Macbeth. Done and done. I enjoyed this one, though not as much as King Lear, if we’re picking favorites.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
This book made my heart happy and sad at the same time. It takes place in Alaska and reading it felt like home. But the characters’ experience made my heart ache. It’s a beautiful story about the wilderness and the wildness of Alaska and humanity.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Again, not sure how I have an English degree because I only just read this book. I loved it. A young female protagonist saves her family? Yes please. I so badly want to see the movie now, too.

Number 10 is Leading with the Heart by Mike Kryzewski – one of my favorite coaches and sports minds. I figure March is the perfect time to crack this one open.

I’m well on my way to meeting my goal, but I could always use more suggestions! What books are you currently reading?

Chick Chat: First Race Ever

We didn’t choose the running life, the running life chose us!

Actually, that’s not true. I think that anyone can tell you that it’s a decision, and sometimes a struggle to get out there day after day, year after year and run.

It’s a love/hate relationship. There are times when it’s awesome and there’s other times when it sucks and we dread every minute of it. But being that it’s Valentine’s Day, we are going to focus on love and share our very first race experiences with you.


When I started training with C25K (Couch to 5K) in the summer of 2013 I’d signed up for a The Color Run with some friends. There were three of us that would be running our first race together so we kept up with each other on Facebook and through texts to see how our progress was going. Before we got to the race in which we would get colored cornstarch thrown all over us, we found a different race.

The local fire department supports a charity each year and does a Pink Heals 5K, so we figured we’d go for it. We’d all done the training and we were ready. Right?

Well, yeah. Right.

This bridge! I’ve been back to it at least four times with different races. Still gets me.

The race was in October so the weather was, well, I live in Florida so it was warm and muggy. I was feeling pretty confident, especially being surrounded by all of my friends. There was no pressure, really. It was the first time for a lot of us and we thought of it as a “practice run” (get it?) for our upcoming race. The course was simple: down the street, over the bridge, and back. Only…I didn’t train for bridges! I remember feeling so defeated because I ended up walking some of the bridge and hating that it was happening.

When all was said and done, though, I felt such a great sense of accomplishment. I was also sore and having my first experience of being rungry. It’s a thing, okay? Looking back, I am so glad I had those friends to train and run with. Having support for a sport that is about mind over matter, truly matter.

My training buddies! I could not (and still don’t) do it without them!

I have a really hard time coming up with my first race. I honestly can’t remember what the very first running race I ever did was… I would have been very little, probably running alongside my mom, in some local 5k in Anchorage. That was just my childhood – running with mom, doing triathlons, cross country skiing, playing basketball.

Having said all of that, as a kid I also didn’t like running. Like, at all. It made me tired, there wasn’t a whole lot of “fun” in it, I wasn’t scoring points… yeah. It was lame. My mom dragged me out there and I complained the whole time (until I could horse-to-the-barn back to the car when we were almost done).

I ran as training for basketball in college – still hated it. I ran after basketball (still in college) to kind of stay in shape – it just made me feel really OUT of shape.

I graduated college, realized that I missed being fit and strong and decided that running was an easy way to find those things again. So I started on the treadmill in my friends’ basement, ran at the gym, cleaned up my diet, ran outside, and finally decided to sign up for a race.

In 2012, I’d just moved back in with my parents and was making the most of the comfortable Alaskan running weather and knew that the Run for Women – a five-miler – was right around the corner. I hadn’t run a race in a long time and really felt as though I could run this one and feel good about it.

And I DID feel good about it! I had signed up alone, but about a half mile into the race found a friend of my mom’s and ran with her for a bit. After a while, we split up, but I felt comfortable and confident and by the time I crossed the finish line I’d not only enjoyed myself, but I done so much better than I thought I would. After I got home that morning, I told my mom I wanted to run a half marathon… and that was that.


It was 2013 and the Color Run was all the rage, so when some friends asked me if I wanted to join their team, Team Scrambled Legs, for the Denver Color Run, I was IN! I trained using Couch to 5k, too, and my team mates were much faster than me. I remember finding them before the start was the most stressful part of the race.

Not only was it the best team name ever, but it was a great intro to road racing. I was slow as usual, but it didn’t matter. I think my time was around 42 minutes. I was hoping to be closer to 35 minutes but meh. I had fun, got dirty, and gave a little girl my gumball necklace. It was a crowded race, and aside from the BOLDER Boulder and Run Disney events, I tend to stay away from big race crowds.

Running through Denver City Park is always enjoyable, the  park is gorgeous and the weather that day was warm. My husband, saint that he is, got up with me and made the 45 minute drive to the race start. That day, he became my personal race photographer.

I think I might be the only person in that photo who still runs. When I ran that race, I never dreamed I’d run a half marathon. Five years later I’m planning to finish my 10th half this year, and embark on lots of trail adventures. Looking back, it’s great to see how far I, and my running goals, have come!

My very first race was a 5k. But not just any ol’ 5k. It was the Down and Dirty Obstacle Race in Philadelphia.

The year was 2011 and while I’d been working out for a few years before that with Stroller Strides, 2011 is the year I started running. I’d begun training on my treadmill during the spring and by the summer event, I thought that I’d be absolutely FINE.

I was absolutely wrong.

Why am I smiling? I don’t know.

The hilly, rough terrain running was honestly the least of my problems. You guys, the obstacles… the first one was a low wall which I not-so-gracefully threw myself over and landed on my knees.

However, I had Cam with me for this race so while I might have been ill-prepared for the obstacles, I had a really good time! Well, not a good time, but we entertained each other and made sure we both survived.

My husband was a spectator, so he snagged a few pictures of obstacles that I was actually able to conquer and not hurt myself on.

Up and over!

This felt a lot more steep than it looks here.

It was a tough, tough race but I had the determination to finish and then sign up for another race, the Rothman 8k, about 4 months later.

After the Down and Dirty, on my old tumblr, I wrote:

Something I learned this weekend is that it’s always important to challenge yourself because you hold yourself to a higher level of achievement each time. Things get easier every time you do them and that’s when you have to kick it up to the next step.

Also? I’m pretty freaking bad ass.

We love you! Tell us about YOUR first race ever? Was it love at first run or did it take some time to settle into the relationship?

What’s In My Gym Bag?

Since starting CrossFit, I’ve managed to acquired a bunch of new swag. My gym bag is full of some gear that I definitely could not do without – and I want to share some of it with you!

Because CrossFit is made up of so many different movements and skills, it’s important to make sure that your body is taken care of – especially when a workout includes a high rep scheme or heavy lifts.

I was hesitant at first to just go out and buy gear, primarily because I hate buying things just to be a cool kid. I want to know that if I’m buying gear, it’s because I know it’s something I need, that will protect me in some way, or support my performance. For example: I have yet to buy olympic lifting shoes. These shoes are specially designed to assist ankle mobility and help athletes lift heavier weights by allowing their bodies to get into optimal position. Knowing that my ankle mobility is pretty good and that I’m still very much learning and improving in my olympic lifts, I don’t feel like it’s necessary that I drop $200-$300 on shoes just to look good.

After a few weeks, though, I did some evaluating and determined that there was one thing I could definitely use: grips. The volume of pull-ups, toes to bar, hollow holds, and other bar work that we do results in some gnarly calluses and puts me at risk of ripping my hands. Anyone who has done gymnastics knows just how AWFUL hand rips can be. They are the literal worst. Clay and I did a lot of research (the CrossFit market is flooded with products… not all of which legit), and found Victory Grips. These are designed by a former gymnast, are durable, provide great hand coverage, and are really easy to break in. Since using them, my hands haven’t ripped once. I started out with their leather grips, which I liked, but didn’t do well with the bars in our gym, and have since switched to the stealth grips (pictured), which are synthetic. I love them.

For Christmas, Clay filled out the rest of my gym bag needs. He hooked me up with a weight belt – something I’ve wanted for a while, but like Oly shoes, I didn’t want to use it as a crutch for bad weightlifting form. Belts provide more core stability when lifting heavy loads – but if you don’t take the time to learn how to brace your abdominals and low back properly, even a belt isn’t going to help you. I use mine when lifting heavy or when the volume of a workout is pretty high and I’ve found that it’s helped make me even more aware of keeping my midline tight and consciously working to protect my back.

While I wish I looked as badass Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, I do have those knee sleeves she’s wearing, so that’s close enough for now. Clay also grabbed me these Rehband knee sleeves for Christmas and I’m really glad he did. Now, I’ve never had knee problems, thankfully, but in the past year or so I’ve noticed that my knees crack and pop a lot more than they used to. I also find that they get sore a lot easier – which is probably the result of me becoming decrepit. These sleeves are made of some sturdy neoprene offer compression and support when I’m lifting heavy. We found new 1 rep maxes last week for our squat cleans and hang snatches… I was definitely glad I had my sleeves on when I pulled 205 from the floor and caught it in a front squat!

I generally try to be judicious about what gear I buy – I want to make sure that the equipment I’m spending money on is going to help me improve as an athlete and ensure that my body is protected and can stay in the game for the long haul. Each of these items has so far proven to do just that.

January Wellness Challenge Wrap-Up

Okay. I know everyone on the internet has been convinced that January was the longest month in the history of ever…. and while I can kind of agree, it’s also hard to believe that February is already here. Like, what?

Anyways. During the 74-day eternity that was apparently January, Clay and I participated in a wellness challenge put on by our gym. This week, we wrapped up the challenge (Clay had a few more pull-ups to complete to get his full 500 for the month), and I think it’s safe to say that we are definitely better for having participated.

Our week four goals were centered around mental health and mindfulness. I generally try to be pretty good at taking time for myself and making sure my head is right, but this time of year always, always, stresses me out. At work, we’re preparing for our annual conference and there are so many balls in the air that it inevitably feels like one (or more) will drop and things will explode or catch on fire or collapse.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get my drift.

I’m also heading into the time of year when Clay is gone for a month-and-a-half for work, which isn’t so much stressful as it is a bummer.

All of this is a long way of saying spending a week focused on destressing and self-care was a good thing.

Week Four – Mental Health and Mindfulness

  • Complete a de-stress activity at least twice this week. I make time to read every day and it’s my chance to slow down, turn my work-brain off, and just relax for a bit. Some days, I relax so much that I fall asleep in the middle of a chapter. Other days, I stay up too late and finish a book. Either way, I enjoy taking the time to quiet my thoughts.
  • Write down one thing or person you are grateful for each day of the week. This was easy – I have a lot to be grateful for.
  • Eliminate the words “I can’t” or “never” from your vocabulary for one week at the gym (1 burpee penalty for each time you say either). Fortunately, I have a pretty positive attitude in the gym. I try my best to approach each workout with the mindset that I can do what’s put in front of us. It might hurt, it will definitely be hard, but I can do it. Being aware of not using the words “I can’t” or “never” just made me more determined to push and challenge myself instead of worrying about what other people were doing.
  • Be in the moment. Turn off the phone during dinner for the entire week and engage the people you are with. Clay and I are notorious for spending dinner and the remainder of our evenings with our noses in our phones. Reading Reddit, catching up on social media, reading articles, general mindless blather, etc. Putting our phones down while we ate dinner last week was a nice change. It didn’t help me eat any slower, but it did allow us to have more conversation time, which is never a bad thing.

This month has been a good one, in spite of the stress of work and other nonsense – doing this challenge has helped bring that into focus. I think many of the activities we participated in are actually going to be positive habit-forming experiences. 33 days without alcohol (so far) and 8:00 pm bedtimes have been really, really great. I’m hoping that we continue to see improvement over the next two months, too, as we enter into a less regulated schedule and a busier period of work for both of us.

Happy February!