Letting It All Go

Howdy, folks!! I’m checking on from my hiatus, and I’ve got BIG STUFF to talk about. Primarily, what are the take-aways from facing your biggest fears and failures? Like I said, it’s heavy stuff, but it’s good stuff! Some nights, you cry yourself to sleep. Some days, you tune into this weird nirvana that comes with resignation that failure might be waiting down the road. Been there before? I thought maybe so.  So here, click and listen to me drop some soul-foody truths on facing our toughest challenges.

 

 

 

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.

2018 Race Plans

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2018. I started laying them out in November, of course, because I love planning.

Give me a planner and I’ll conquer the world.

     My primary goal is one I’ve had for a long time. It’s a total cliché too. You know, it’s that one about finishing your novel. Yeah. That. I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life and I recently had a small success in that a short story of mine placed in a contest and was published. But my main goal is to finish the novel that I’ve been working on for many, many, many, years. So many years I can’t even tell you how many because it’s an embarrassment. So that is my primary goal in 2018, get my novel finished!

I did run the Yellowstone Half last year but it’s the Caldera medal that’s calling my name.  Plus, I fell in love with the Tetons when we drove through the park last summer. These races are back-to-back weekends in June, and my sister and I are taking a road trip there together. We’ll be camping and hiking the two national parks all week together and I’m super excited about it! I could really use a vacation.  Next week marks the start of half training for these races and I’ll keep mixing strength training into my routine as well.

Some of my favorite photos from the Vacations Races I’ve run over the years.

     I’m also doing the Rocky Mountain Elk Double again in August and it will be my fourth year participating. I’m super excited because Meridith is flying out to join me for my favorite race! I am so stoked because she’s bringing her whole family and I get to show them Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. I openly admit my bias for Colorado, and I love showing off the state that I’m so lucky to live in and proud to be from. Those are my three races for the year and while it doesn’t seem like a lot, the Triple is two half marathons and a 5k in seven days. It will be a great challenge.

     Last week, I took a class at REI about cross-country skiing, and tomorrow, I’m taking another class there about snowshoeing basics. These classes are free, so check out your local REI for their offerings. I could even ice skate if I wanted to because there’s a pond less than a mile from my house that’s frozen solid right now. The variety and choices are endless! I just have to push myself out of my comfort zone and out of the gym and go give it a try. 2018 is the time to be fearless!

If you want to follow my writing pursuits, I have a Twitter and a website and they come with my undying devotion. You can’t pass THAT up. 

No Sugar Challenge Check-In

I can’t believe it’s day 11, basically the halfway point, of our 21 day no sugar challenge! Let’s check in.

The first week was…rough. My cravings for baked goods was strong and persistent, but somehow I managed to not cry. I don’t know how, but I did it!

I was also STARVING the first week. SO. HUNGRY. Out of hunger, I did break down on Monday and get a bacon cheeseburger because the idea of another salad in winter chilled me to the bone.

I’m still living at my parent’s, waiting for my house to be built (another *challenge* I frequently cry over), and I forgot to tell my mom that I’m doing the sugar challenge. She went grocery shopping, as she does, (wonderful soul), and brought home allllll my favorite things. Like Plain Goldfish (yes, I’m 6), and Nutella, and Ice cream. She also brought home salad and fruit and all kinds of things I can eat, so yay, I’m not starving!!

The best thing that I’ve noticed is that my taste buds are starting to reset. I ate some strawberries the other day and they really did taste like candy. I was great. And seeing, or in this case, experiencing, a noticeable difference like that was encouraging. Eating more fruit will help me get over my cravings, so that’s the plan for the rest of the challenge.

 

Up until Tuesday of this week if you had asked me how I was doing with the no sugar challenge, I would have answered with “Fine, dandy, couldn’t be better!”

And then, I fell hard on the ice (while being a responsible human and taking out the recycling).

We’re big fans of BibRave orange!

As such, my life has been a bit of a slip sliding disaster. On Tuesday night, after I got my cast, I demanded ice cream.
Yesterday I went back to smarter decisions and skipped the cookies that were offered to me. I’m an emotional eater and this has definitely put A BIG OL’ WRENCH in the works. I have more to say but as I am typing this one-handed, I’ll just stop here.

Oh sugar.

I think I’m somewhere along Meri’s line with this. I’ve been doing well, until I found the Christmas chocolate in the pantry yesterday and the PMS whispered in my ear “you NEED this.”
It was right. I needed it.
But, beyond the small snack of chocolate here and there, stepping back from the sweets has been pretty a-okay. I’m fortunate to eat pretty healthy most of the time anyways, and aside from the sneaky chocolate in the pantry, there isn’t any junk in our house to speak of. It’s pretty easy to avoid sugar when you don’t have any crap food around.
We’ll just keep chugging along… only a couple weeks to go!
It’s not to late to join our challenge and giveaway! Click here to enter.
How are you doing with the challenge? Only 10 days left, tell us all about your struggles and triumphs! 

21 Day No Sugar Challenge

Today, we’re kicking off our 21 No Sugar Challenge! I decided to do this for myself when I discovered my glucose levels were wonky after my annual routine blood work. Diabetes doesn’t run in my family, but my addiction to baked goods is likely to blame. I knew it was time to cut back on the processed sugar, and I knew the best way for me personally to do that was to go cold turkey. I’m not doing any sort of program, I’m just going to do my absolute best to cut sugar from my diet for the next 21 days.

Tears are being shed for all the future donuts I will not eat.

I know this is going to be super hard for me. But I also know this is crucial for my health. I’m 41, and it’s now or never to kick my sugar addiction.

Here’s my strategy:

  • Continue drinking more water to help flush my system (thanks, Hydration Challenge!)
  • Drink more hot herbal and green teas that don’t need sweetener
  • Chew sugar free gum when I get a craving
  • Eat more fruit
  • Cut white sugar and white flour food items

Here’s what I hope to gain by day 22:

  • A shift in my taste buds toward less sugar cravings
  • More stamina instead of the crash and burn from glucose energy
  • Overall feeling of increased health and wellness
  • A new perspective on diet
  • Lots of yummy new recipes!

This ain’t gonna be easy, folks. I expect there will be tears. Especially when my severe PMS cravings kick in. Some of the challenges I’m expecting are:

  • Not having my morning tea routine
  • Not eating chocolate in any form
  • Not having scones with my tea
  • Making sure I carefully read all labels

Speaking of Labels…

I know what I’m getting into, and I know my body. I quit smoking thirteen years ago, and to this day that was the hardest thing ever. After years of trying to quit with everything from medications, patches, and gum to sunflower seeds, toothpicks, and learning to knit, I learned that the only thing I really need is motivation and determination. I’ve never been so motivated to change my eating habits as I am now.

Are you motivated too? No matter what your fitness goal is for 2018, it can benefit from eating less sugar. I’d LOVE to have you join me on this journey. It’s free. I’m not selling anything, it’s all about accountability and commiseration. It’s going to be hard and challenging, but fun and oh so worth it. There will be a giveaway at the end, too, and we all love winning stuff! So come along with me on this sugarless trip, and tell me what you’re motivated to change in 2018. Together, we can do it!

To join the challenge, enter our giveaway by clicking the picture above or here and interact with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’m here to support you as you chase your goals, so TELL ME ALL ABOUT THEM. Let’s do this!

Hydration Challenge Wrap-Up

Our hydration challenge wrapped up last Friday, and personally speaking, it was a challenge! While I did get much more water in than usual, I got in my goal amount of 64 ounces less than I wanted, 8 days out of 21.

I averaged about 48 ounces a day, and found that I got bored with plain water pretty quickly. This was the most difficult thing for me. I used herbal and fruit teas to mix it up, but I craved my hot Earl Grey on the cold winter days. I didn’t get to try the fruit infusions like I hoped to, but that’s still something i feel would help me mix  it up in the variety department.

Some of my favorite herbal and fruit flavors. LOVE the Yogi Tea!

The challenge did help me create some new habits and ways of thinking, which in my opinion, makes it a complete success! Those habits include:

  • Being more conscious of keeping my water bottle with me.
  • Drinking less sugary beverages and tea
  • Learning that I need more flavor variety to meet my intake goal
  • Creating a habit of not drinking black tea after mid-morning (a big step for me).

Although I didn’t meet my goal every day, I feel like his was a success because of am drinking far more water than I was before, and overall I’m more conscious of what I’m putting in my body. As they say, perfection is impossible but improvement is success. (Actually, I just made that up, but it *sounds* true).

Time to re-fill!

Next week, I’m kicking off a sugar detox challenge and giveaway. Beginning New Year’s Day, I’m taking on a HUGE goal and attempting to cut sugar from my diet. I’d love it if you joined me! With the start of a new year, we can create new habits to carry with us always.

 

Did you achieve your hydration goals in December? What did you learn in the process? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!

December Hydration Challenge

If you need a bit of help maintaining healthy habits this holiday season, join our Hydration Challenge! I’m kicking it off on Friday with a goal of drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. Check back Friday for the kick-off and giveaway news, as well as some tips on how to track your intake and be successful.  Maybe we can’t stay off sugar this time of year, but at least we can make sure we stay hydrated (because champagne)!

#REALwomenmove

#REALwomenmove

Real women move.  Yes, they sure do.  But what does this mean to me?  It means that it doesn’t matter what your body shape, size or fitness level is.  It means that you are getting off the couch and doing something.

When you think of an athlete do images of super fit people in Runner’s World come to mind?  Do you think of someone with either huge muscles or no body fat?  That is what media wants us to think.  But to me, it is someone that is strong.  Someone that has the willpower to get out there and try to weather their storm.  Someone who will try  to run their first 5K or a marathon, it doesn’t matter as long as they are becoming a better version of themselves.

There is a giant tree near my home.  I run by it as much as possible.  It is America’s largest Bebb Oak on record.  Some call her Grandma Bebb Oak.  She has her own Facebook page.  To me, she is strong.  Her limbs are heavy and her bark is brittle, but she still stands.   She is said to be well over 200 years old. To me she is strong and she is real.

I used to be a slave to the scale.  If a certain number didn’t come up, I wasn’t happy.  If my pant size wasn’t the right number, I was disappointed.  Now I realize that my body is strong.  I might not have the perfect amount of body fat.  I might be slightly overweight at times.  I have never been accused of being skinny.  On the flip side, I have been labeled as determined, hard core, and relentless.  My legs are more like tree trunks, like that Bebb Oak tree.   But those tree trunks get me to the finish line of 100 mile races.  I think that if you can believe it you can achieve it.

So get out there and do the impossible.  Do what you think you cannot do.  Don’t let others establish your limits because they see you in a different light.  Redefine yourself. Accept yourself, love yourself.   Prove people wrong.  Be strong and prove that #REALwomenmove!

#REALwomenmove is a new campaign by my favorite clothing company, Skirt Sports.  It is based on REAL women, REAL bodies, REAL inspiration.  Skirt Sports believes we all can and should embrace fitness and health.  We should be strong, confident and not judge, but rather encourage other women.  You can read more about #REALwomen move and check out their great running skirts and other great clothing items at skirtsports.com/realwomenmove

***Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for Skirt Sports.  They provide me with discounts on their products.  Regardless of this, I would wear their products and sing their praises.  It’s a company I believe in and am I’m proud to be a part of their family.

Sandy is an Ultra runner who’s on state 35 of her 50 state quest! She loves to push herself and encourage others to dare more than they dream. Sandy shares her running adventures on her blog, TheUltraFreak 

Race Recap: Vacation Races Yellowstone Half

Last weekend, amazing races took place all over the country. Maybe you even participated in one. (If so tell me allllll about it in the comments!) I was lucky enough to be one of those people, and I can’t wait to show you all the pictures from  the Vacation Race Yellowstone 5k and Half Marathon. I had dreamed of doing the Caldera Triple this year, but other obligations (tickets to see Roger Waters) kept me from the mother of all medals. Next year, it’s on!

Disclaimer: while I am a Vacation Races Ambassador, I did pay for my registration for this race and I didn’t receive any compensation for this race review.

I live about ten hours from Yellowstone. Honestly, when the scenery is as beautiful as it was and you’re driving your Mustang, ten hours feels like five.We drove up last Thursday and got into Yellowstone at around seven o’clock in the evening. Along the way, we stopped at an overlook to take in the most beautiful mountain range I’ve ever seen, and keep in mind, Rocky Mountain National Park is my backyard. If you’ve never been to the Grand Tetons, you need to add it to your bucket list.

Jackson Lake and Grand Teton

We came from the south which meant we had to drive through Grand Teton National Park to get to Yellowstone. We decided to buy an annual park pass since we’ll soon be living so close to a national park ourselves. Eighty bucks to support our national treasures was money well spent in our book.

I had signed up for the Bison Double, which meant I was running the 5k Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. My husband and I decided to get up before dawn on Friday to see some of Yellowstone while the light was still good for photography. It was the right choice!

He was the only other guy on the road at 5:30 am. Also, he wasn’t moving for us.

Sadly, the Grand Prismatic Spring was too steamy to see.

Kepler Cascade

Yellowstone Lake and Thermal Vents

A real life postcard.

After a morning of exploring the park, we headed back to the hotel to take a nap and prep for the 5k. The weather forecast at race time was less than dry. I was volunteering at the race expo before the start, so I headed over a little early and met up with the rest of my team at the start. My husband, sisters-in-law, and their husbands all ran the 5k, and exactly none of us were looking forward to running in rainy drizzle and 42 degrees.

There’s some first timers in this pic!

The course was beautiful despite it being wet. I don’t have many pics of this race because the conditions made it hard to snap shots. We started on paved town roads for the first mile then transitioned to gravel trail riddled with puddles and mud for the rest of the race. We had to watch where we stepped so we didn’t slip in the mud. I’m glad I’d packed so much gear, options are so important when the weather is unpredictable. Plus I’d bought an emergency poncho for which I was so grateful! I was slow because of the conditions and I wanted to be sure I was okay to do the half the next morning. My husband and I crossed the finish, then waited for the rest of our team. We were disappointed to learn that the 5k medals had been lost in shipping, but we were assured that they’d be mailed to us once they were located.

The next morning, I woke up to a weather forecast calling for hail and more rain before the half marathon. Yes, hail. Well, tiny little pellets, but still, when they hit your cold cheeks, it hurts! I shook out my disposable poncho and layered up. With some fleece lined leggings, a Lioness skirt from Skirt Sports, and three layers on top, I was as ready as I could be for my first wet, cold trail half.

I knew this race was going to be my hardest one yet going into it. I knew the elevation gain was no joke, and that it was mostly on a trail. I also knew I wasn’t able to train for this race like I wanted to. Since February, I’ve had to focus on selling my house, moving, and finding a new place to live.  Doing all those home improvement projects did get me into better shape than I was in after the holidays, but I was no where near where I wanted to be for this race. Getting a PR wasn’t my goal, not getting hurt was. My strategy was to do walk a brisk pace with some splashes of running until the big hill. Then, I’d walk as briskly as I could up that bish.

Around mile five, it started to get steep. The course was still thick with mud, and I tried to stay on the edge of the trail to keep from getting bogged down. Mile six is where it started to get nasty. Hence my face in the photo below. It was yucky, but at least the sun had come out and the rain/hail stopped! Once I got over that hill, I found one of my Skirt Sports sisters on the course, and I couldn’t have been happier! Kim is the best. We’d run the Skirt Sports 13er together last year and running with her is always so much fun.

After I’d made it over the hill and found a friend, the race took on a new feel. The course turned technical with large rocks as we began to descend in elevation. I took my time through the rocks but still stumbled a few times. The views were completely worth it, though, as the course took us beside the river and through pristine forest.

As I was out there feeling better than I expected to be at mile nine, I took a moment to appreciate my body. I have ridiculous expectations of it. I ask it to do amazing feats of endurance without ever putting in the 100% training I should. As I climbed that hill and listened to those around me struggling to breathe due to the altitude, I sent my body some messages of gratitude and I promised to not ask it to do this again without the proper preparation.

We counted down the miles together, stopped for orange slices at the mile 11 aid station, and were fueled by the thought of our medals waiting for us. Unfortunately, the Bison Double medals and the Caldera Triple medals were lost in shipping along with the 5k medals. But we did get our half marathon medals, so it was great to have that waiting for us at the end along with the always yummy post race fuel box and bananas.

It hurt so much but we did it!

Kim and I hugged goodbye before I took a few family photos with our race team. I think some of them may have caught the race bug! I’m already planning to come back for the Caldera Triple next year, maybe we’ll make it a tradition!

It was a fabulous race in one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Aside from the medals being lost, everything went smoothly and we all had a blast. This race may not be an annual one for me due to traveling, but it’s certainly one I’d like to do every few years. Vacation Races didn’t disappoint, they really now how to pick their locations! It was so gorgeous everywhere you looked that I wanted to share a few last photos with you of your Yellowstone National Park.  Enjoy!

Elk buck

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Bison herd

You could literally reach out your car window and touch them. But DON’T.

Half medal with Old Faithful erupting in the background

 

As a safety reminder, I ask that when you read my recaps of high altitude races to not underestimate the affects of altitude. I’ve lived at over 5000 feet elevation all my life, and soon I’m moving to 8500 feet. My lungs and muscles are acclimated to the elevation despite having asthma. If you do a race at altitude and you aren’t already acclimated, be sure to train appropriately, take precautions against altitude sickness, and be kind to yourself on the course if you don’t hit your pace goals.Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save