Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category


Rock ‘n Roll USA Half Marathon…Part II!

March 20, 2012

Continued from Part I…here are some thoughts about my first half marathon.


I’ve been in the DC area for almost six years…this time around. I’ve lived in the area a couple times before, and having grown up a military brat, DC is as much a home — maybe a little more — as just about any other place. So getting a quick (relatively speaking) foot tour of a large portion of my “hometown” was…awesome. I loved this course. With the exception of the streets immediately at the beginning and end of the race, I’d been on every part of the course over the years.

I pretty much zoned out on the ridiculous hill known as 18th Street NW/Connecticut Ave. NW. After the race, a friend that ran it said, “Sweet, now I know where Vapiano is!” I replied, “Oh, did someone tell you?” She countered, “No, we ran past it…” Right. I was just struggling up the hill…

There was a band at the end of Harvard Street NW, just after Mile 8, as you turned down onto 5th Street NW. Something about that band got me really fired up. I had a great time between Columbia Road and North Capitol. I’m guessing the folks partying hard on their well-decorated porches did, too. And, while I appreciated the offers, I politely declined their dixie cups of beer. Offers of post-race BBQs welcome, though.

By Mile 11, my feet were pretty sore, and by about Mile 12, the top of my right foot was cramping a bit. I walked some, and periodically stopped to stretch and massage my foot.

The end of the race? Wow…what a doozy. Coming down C Street, folks on the side of the course kept shouting that the finish was just around the corner. Then we turned the corner. And folks on the side of the course shouted that the finish was just around the corner. Whaaaaat?

It was. An uphill finish where you couldn’t see the finish line until you were almost on it. Tough 1/10 of a mile!

When you're not concerned with beating any particular time, it's easy to pull off for a second for photo ops.


As I mentioned in Part I, my friends are awesome. I started the race with a friend, had a few other friends running (like her and her), and saw friends between Miles 7 and 8 (surprise – I didn’t know they’d be out, or where they’d be – and they met me at the finish too!), just before Mile 10, just after Mile 11, and at the finish. They all told me I looked great, and seeing them made me ridiculously happy. Not-so-secret secret: I looked great when I ran past them because I knew they’d be there. Who wants to drag ass past your friends? Not this racy gal. Thanks for the boost, guys! The excitement of seeing my friends definitely added a spring to my step.

And an interesting perspective from some of these friends: what it’s like to watch a whole race. I’ll admit that I’ve never seen a whole race before. When I’ve gone out to see friends run, I’ve pretty much just gone to see them, and didn’t hang around the whole time. But some of my friends hung out on North Capitol with food and drink and watched the whole thing. They said it was pretty awesome to watch the fastest folks go past, and then to notice the changes in pace and the differences in pacing between the marathoners and half marathoners.

And they confirmed, mercifully, that I was not the slowest one out there. But even if I was, I’d be OK with that. I mean, hey, I was out there, right?

So, new goal: go watch a whole race, from the elite folks at the front of the pack all the way to the folks at the end who need cheers just as much as the front runners.

I think my friends took this because they wanted to make fun of my "fanny pack." That belt came in pretty handy for stashing more than the microscopic pocket on my capris can hold.

Progression of Feelings

I am nothing if not sentimental, so I’d be remiss to not acknowledge my feelings about this race.

As I mentioned in Part I, I had serious doubts about my ability to run this race as late as the day before. I’d trained, but had some difficulty throughout, and benched myself for a few weeks. But in the few weeks before the race, I’d felt pretty good. Then I started experiencing some strange hip/pelvic pain unlike anything I’d experienced before (and for which I’m going to a doctor in a few days). So I had major apprehension about this race. If I attempted it, what might happen? I had terrible visions of my hip giving out and me collapsing in Dupont Circle…if I made it that far.

But during the run, I physically felt fine. Some soreness in my feet toward the end…pretty sure that’s the price you sometimes pay for pounding the pavement for mile after mile. When the going got rough, I looked at the mile markers, judged that I probably only had 20 minutes to go, and reminded myself of my favorite coach‘s mantra: You can do anything for 20 minutes.

So I did. And damn if I didn’t feel awesome when I crossed that finish line.

I promise I will never do this again. Total cheeseball move.

Random observations

Anyone else notice the banana stand in downtown DC? So many banana peels on the ground…clearly this would be a ridiculously tragic way to go down in a race…taken out by your fuel. Same goes with the GU packets. That shit’s slick.

My lucky green shirt? Probably being relegated to the yoga pile. I’d done a few runs in it with no issue, but I was Chafy Stacie during the half. Major red, painful blotch on my left arm. Really attractive at work this week when it’s been warm enough to wear short sleeves. I thought to Body Glide under the straps of my sports bra; guess I need to add inner upper arms to the Body Glide list. Or just relegate the shirt to the yoga pile.

I will never, ever run a race in a full bodysuit. I saw a few of those, and by Mile 7 or so, they appeared to be sweaty, sweltering masses of crazy runner. Anyone tried this before? Are there vents? Special wicking material?

So...add it to the necklace rotation? Maybe not?

So. That’s that. My first, slightly crappily-trained half marathon is in the books. I had an awesome day and it just reinforced the running bug I caught a little while back. My time was 2:32, and all things considered, I’m happy with that. It was a PDR and a PR, and I look forward to blowing that PR out of the electrolyte-enhanced water in future half marathons.


Three Things Thursday: Turn, Turn, Turn Double Edition

March 8, 2012

On my awesome afternoon run (low 70s, sunshine, not in the office…), I thought about how, even though DC had a ridiculously mild winter, the seasons are changing. Here’s my double Three Things edition: three things I’ll miss about winter running and three things I won’t…

The Glories of Winter Running (or…what I’ll miss!)

1. Not overheating. No matter what time of day I go out (oh, hey, 2pm Saturday runs…), I can usually stay pretty cool during winter. I love it. I tend to get hot pretty easily (or all the time), so the natural A/C will be missed.

2. I’ve never swallowed a fly while running during the winter. True story. But on today’s very spring-like run? Mmm…extra protein. The bugs are back out!

3. Wide open spaces. Cold outside? Fewer folks on the trail. I’m not a misanthrope, but when you live in an urban area, it’s kind of nice to get out there without bumping elbows with a million people. [The flip side of loads of people: there’s constant motivation to get out there. Sometimes it’s just the boost I need on a day when motivation is a little low.]

Be Gone, Low Temps (or…what I won’t miss!)

1. Dark mornings and dark evenings. I have a really hard time getting out of bed and getting out of the door when it’s dark. And when I leave work and it’s dark…also not especially motivated to get outside.

2. That age old question: What the hell should I wear?? When it’s warm, it’s pretty easy: lightest layer possible. But when it’s cold, I second guess myself…is this going to be warm enough? Too warm? Is it windy? Bring on the simplicity.

3. These guys. My saggy baggy running tights. Don’t get me wrong: I’m really happy that they are saggy baggy. I wear them as a badge of weight loss honor, but they’ve gotten ill-fittingly uncomfortable. In March, though, I’m not willing to invest in a new pair. So, I’m happy to welcome the warm temps and leave behind ye olde running tights.

Peace out, sag ass!


Weekend Update: Second Time in the Double Digits Edition

March 5, 2012

Here’s my weekly wrap-up for February 27-March 4.

Training Mode: Still in the game! This was week 10 of half marathon training, although my schedule is modified from the original based on my injury-induced rest.

Days until the race: 12 (whoa!)

Feelings about the race: Feeling pretty damn good.

You can run and tell that: 23; long run: 10.7. Significance of the title of this post? This 10.7 mile run was on the second run I’ve ever done that was double digit miles! The first was the Army Ten Miler on October 24, 2010.

Busted more moves: Yikes…I only ran this week! Must improve cross-training…

Busted body: I skipped busting more moves because of some…GI issues….I have some food sensitivities and I’m still working them out. I’m proud of myself for running through them, but it meant that I skipped yoga and Body Pump this week.

Ear candy o’ the week: I don’t run outside with an iPod. Startling me usually results in some terrific display of violent flailing and screaming, and I try to avoid inflicting that on innocent trail-goers. Before I left on my long run yesterday, I got this damn fine song stuck in my head. You could do much, much worse that to have the Lumineers crooning to you.

The takeaway: My long run only had one pit stop and two brief periods where I slowed to a walk (not hard when you run as slowly as I do!) to sip water (the drenched look never looked very good on me). As I closed in on two hours of running, I kept thinking back to when I did the Coach to 5K program and I had slight anxiety about each time the time interval that I was jogging increased. Two minutes stretched to three to five to ten to twenty until I jogged a 5K at a full stretch. If you’re out there doubting that you can take your tough five minutes and turn it into something more…well, I won’t say that 120 straight was necessarily easy, but I never had to force myself, and it was incredibly possible.

Things to work on: getting back in the cross-training groove.


Three Things Thursday: Fashion for Losers Edition

March 2, 2012

Losers of weight, that is.

Disclaimer: I have very little good fashion sense. But I have been losing weight, and I do want to look presentable and nice…sometimes I even surprise myself and look pretty damn good. I also have been in career transition since starting my weight loss journey, and while I’m a good gardener, I have yet to figure out how to grow a money tree.

I remember emailing a friend and saying, “Losing weight SUCKS!” because I was frustrated with my wardrobe. Obviously, I don’t mean it. I’m really happy with my progress, and I feel better than I’ve ever felt. I describe the ill-fitting clothes and need for new ones as my good-bad problem.

Apologies to any male readers out there, but here are three things geared toward lady losers who aren’t sure how to tackle the good-bad problem. These tend to work when you’re between sizes or maybe have lost 10-15 pounds. Once you start losing more, you may need to just suck it up and buy smaller sizes. When that happened, I bought cheap: jeans from Old Navy? Yes. Running clothes from Target? Absolutely. [Who am I kidding? I’d buy those things anyway, but the point is: save your $$ for your dream jeans when you’ve hit – and maintained – your weight goal.]

1. Skirts and dresses > pants. YMMV, but for me, skirts and dresses seemed to “fit” longer and look less frumpy than pants did. It may be because skirts and dresses don’t do that terrible thing that ill-fitting pants do: give you saggy ass. I also noticed that I could pull my pants off without unbuttoning/unzipping them. Slouchy pants? Not cute. But dresses that were a little big? Belt ’em.

2. Shrink and deflect. I shrunk the hell out of whatever I could. If that didn’t work, but things seemed almost close to what I was going for, I deflected with accessories. I was the queen of scarves this winter. With a few basic, solid color, inexpensive tops, I could mix and match jewelry and scarves to have different outfits. And if some of my older shirts were a little big or frumpy, the fun accessories deflected attention from saggy shoulders.

3. Borrow! I’ve received overwhelming support from my friends, including material support. When I first brought up my good-bad problem, a friend offered that she had a ton of stuff in storage that she’d saved from when she was smaller. She lent me some good work pieces, and in the process, remembered how much she liked her old clothes, and is now on her own journey. Aside from her generous offer, I’ve also become bolder about asking. I needed some nicer things to wear for a work event, and I asked my roommate if she could help. Most folks usually have some extra things they don’t have in rotation now, and I’ve been touched with the help my friends have provided. You can also glam it up with a [healthy] brunch or cocktail hour at home and invite friends over for a clothing exchange.

Bonus #4: If you find a good tailor, have things taken in. This also tends to work best with skirts, or any item of clothing with simple seams. If you’ve got complicated waistbands or seams, it’ll cost more, and you may find yourself wishing you’d just bought something new. If blouses still fit in the shoulders, but have extra material below the bust, a tailor (or your mom…who gave me these pointers) can add darts, making the shirt fitted to your new rockin’ bod.

Yeah, I said it. Rockin’ bod.

For more tips, WebMD of all places has an article about it.

What are your tips? How have you fashionably shown off your in-process weight loss without breaking the bank?


Preparing for March Madness

February 29, 2012

Confession: I may or may not have (in many years) taken off days of work to watch the Thursday/Friday March Madness games. But that’s not the only March Madness that I’m referring to.

It took me a really long time to figure out that weight loss, eating better, and exercising needed a plan. When I decided to build a headboard, map out a job hunting strategy, and develop research in graduate school, I always started with a plan. Why I thought losing weight or getting into better shape would be any different is…madness, I tell you.

I didn't know how to build a piece of furniture, so I followed a plan. Such is being healthy!

Now I have, more or less, evolving plans. I’m sticking with Weight Watchers and upcoming races are helping to keep me exercising, but with a new month knocking on the door, it’s time to set some additional goals to work toward. So here’s the plan – my attempt to control some of the “madness.”

1. Keep running. First half of the month: keep up the miles, try not to get injured. Mid-month: run first half marathon! End of the month: keep up with post-race recovery miles and begin training for the next race.

2. Put together some kind of quick routine for a few mornings each week that I don’t go for a morning run. Still figuring out what this might look like, but it would include some dynamic stretching and a little cardio to get me going.

3. Tackle my diet soda addiction. Step one: make a note of each instance that I grab a diet soda. Step two: limit to no more than four 12-ounce servings each week, with a goal of eventually making diet sodas a rarity.

4. Kick out any remaining HFCS from my kitchen. I’m pretty good about avoiding this, but I just noticed that my favorite stir fry sauce has it, so March is for finding alternatives.

5. Make some camping or backpacking plans. I’ve been using my weekends for long runs, but a trip out to Harpers Ferry for some hiking this weekend reminded me that I need to reserve time for those ventures, too. I used to backpack 1-2 times a year, and it’s time to add that back into the rotation o’ fun. March is the month of planning for later spring adventures…and whetting my appetite with more hikes.

Nothing like a beautiful day and a great hike above town.

Correction: nothing like a beautiful day, a gorgeous hike, AND post-hike recovery red!

Here’s to a great March!


Weekend Update: Does a Shakeout Hike Count as a Shakeout Run? Edition

February 27, 2012

Here’s my weekly wrap-up for February 20-26.

Training Mode: Still in the game! This was week 9 of half marathon training, although my schedule is modified from the original based on my injury-induced rest.

Days until the race: 19 (wow!)

Feelings about the race: Still feeling pretty good. Wish I was running with someone, but I hope to look for the pacing folks. I need to figure out what I’m going to wear. 🙂

You can run and tell that: 18.25; long run: 8.4

Busted more moves: One Body Pump class, one yoga class, one 5-6 mile hike the day after my long run. Can I call that a “shakeout hike?”

Busted body: A little tenderness in my left shin and right knee. Right knee feels better with some dynamic stretching.

Ear candy o’ the week: I felt solidly “Back on the Train” this week. [A motivational running playlist with Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Johnny Cash, and Phish isn’t weird, right?]

The takeaway: I might need to switch the day I do Body Pump or the day I do my long run. My legs still feel a little tired from Thursday night Body Pump if I go for a Saturday morning long run. And: loved the combo of a run/hike for the agenda this weekend. I’m a happy Outdoorsy Racy Stacie.

Things to work on: purchasing a fuel belt of some kind. See below.

Yep, this gets a little annoying for 8.4 miles.


Three Things Thursday: Running Mantras That Apply Elsewhere Edition

February 24, 2012

By the time I was well into the second mile of my pre-work run this morning, I felt great. That first mile, though? Pretty rough. So I kept repeating a few mantras in my head, and before I knew it, I didn’t feel so sluggish and was nearing my turnaround point.

This isn’t some big magical, mystical revelation, but these three mantras that I tend to use when the going gets tough are pretty universally applicable to other areas of my life. I like when my motivation points me generally toward one path, and I think these are all saying: Suck it up, buttercup.

Probably a little more poetically.

1. “Someday you won’t be able to run, but today is not that day.” Credit goes to a lot of people…I have no idea who the original source is, but my favorite marathoner told me this prior to my December 15K and it stuck. I’m especially reminded of this mantra outside of running when I take special time for myself – maybe just relaxing with a book and a cup of tea or visiting antique shops for hours on end. Someday, I may not have the free time to do those things, and I’m grateful to savor that now.

2. “This doesn’t feel bad, and you don’t have any reason why you can’t do this.” It’s usually easy for me to conjure up some reason why something hurts or I can’t do something. So when a run is going well, it’s good positive reinforcement for me to remind myself that it doesn’t feel bad, and there’s no reason why I can’t keep going with the run. This was my mantra for my first mile today, and it kept me from stopping to walk. The “no reason why you can’t do this” is something I remind myself of when I’m at work and the task seems overwhelming at first.

3. “Look how far you’ve come.” On Saturday’s 7 mile run, I started to lose a little mojo around mile 5.5. Then I thought, Self, look how far you’ve come! What’s 1.5 miles when you’ve already done 5.5? No, seriously? Barring injury, it’s nothing.  And the same is true of other areas in life. In particular, when things generally don’t seem to be going well, I think reminding ourselves of the obstacles we’ve previously overcome puts the ones we face in perspective.

And thus concludes the cheeseball portion of the evening.

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