Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The fit of it all

Thanks to my job, I know far too much about the fit of my clothing and the shape of my body. I spend all day fitting pants and reciting off standard size measurements for a size 6 and can also tell you where I fit in. I know that my body is not proportional, to a standard shape and I am ok with that. I have a tiny waist and larger hips and I have come to accept this as part of what makes me, me.

Lately though, I cannot help but notice that my jeans feel looser at the waist, and tighter in my calves. When I look at my legs, stretching out on the carpeted floor after a hard workout I notice my ankles are looking smaller in comparison to my expanding calves. But my stubborn hips refuse to get smaller. I think of how interesting it is that your body can transform with out you really asking it to. I never asked for a smaller waist, or a certain look to my legs. I never asked for quads as hard as rocks. I just asked that my body take me as far as I asked it to for the day. I ask that it do so with out too much pain, and in return I try to give it eight hours of sleep a day. Sometimes I throw in a couple of Advil and an ice bath. I ask that my stomach not loose my lunch on a particularly difficult day of intervals, and in return it gets the occasional cheeseburger and ice cream Sunday. Although we both know it's my taste buds and not my stomach that get the read benefit. My stomach is probably just cursing me for filling it with grease and processed food it has to work even harder to break down.

So today, in fitting, when I was asked to try on a pair of shorts to cross fit on a smaller body, I didn't think anything of it. But when I put them on and they practically feel off I was feeling a little WTF. I had always been a little smaller, but this small? We started taking guesses on my waist size, which I gauged to be somewhere around 27"? 27 1/2"? how small could I be really? What? my waist is between a 0-2? oh but my hips are between an 8-10? Oh that is just fabulous news, really I am jumping up and down with excitement right now.

Dear Body,
I am good to you, I don't smoke and I only drink sometimes (and only the good stuff!). I work out, and I eat good things, I sleep and I stretch my muscles often. Why do you hate me so much you cannot learn to grow proportionately! I am not sure what more you want me to do. I tried the organic dairy free thing, remember how much you didn't like that?? I can't take you off coffee, things don't go very well for either one of us. I am not even planning on running a marathon this year!!
Love and Kisses - ME

In all reality I get over it quite easily. I have given up on having smaller hips many years ago. Let's face it, I am not cut out for a restrictive diet. I would rather have a normal life. I would quite honestly rather be able to eat ice cream, and I think those around me would agree, I much more enjoyable when I am fed.

xx Sara

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

marathon is not a synonym for race

Nothing frustrates me more in life, than speaking to someone about a marathon and having them ask, "How long is this marathon?" I understand that it would be akin to me making a mistake about anything they take interest in and I do not.

But let me just clear something up in case there is any lingering confusion. The word "marathon" is not a synonym for the word "race". If I say I ran, signed up for or am training for, a marathon, the distance will always be the same.
Marathon = 26.2 miles. Always. It will be the same distance tomorrow, next week, ten years from now. A ten mile race is not a marathon, it is a 10 mile race. A half marathon is exactly that, it's half a marathon, 13.1 miles. An ultra marathon is anything that exceeds the length of a marathon, such as 30, 50, and 100 miles.

Although because I do not want to be mean, if you DO ask, I will probably just answer with a smile, shaking my head inside that you do not remember from the last time we talked about it. Just please, PLEASE for my sake try to remember? I put in all this hard work and dedication and I don't have a whole lot of energy left at the end of the day so can't you please do this one thing for me and remember these distances?

It would please me so very much

xx Sara

The thing we dread the most is the thing we most want to do.

When Boyfriend calls me at 3:30 to say hi as he is driving home from work, he doesn't stay on the phone long. He says he doesn't want to keep me because I am very stressed. Only I am not stressed at all, and I tell him that. I am not stressed, upset, or any negative emotion. I have caught up on all my work and am helping out other members of the team. But for some reason my body just did not get the memo that it is not a day to be lazy, because I am TIRED. Ok and I will admit it I am feeling pretty anti social. Maybe it is the rain pouring down outside the window, or the fact that Boyfriend has promised me a tall bottle of red wine when I get home, but the last thing on my mind is going to the gym.

It's a Tuesday, which means I should be resting tonight after work but instead I will be trotting out four miles on the endless belt of boredom. Actually I will be churning out four mind numbingly difficult miles just to punish myself for the sluggish attitude I have had all day. This all because I did my longest run on a Sunday, and didn't want to go back to back into Monday. Instead I will run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

I change my Itunes playlist from Carrie Underwood to Kanye West. Because yes, despite all the controversy surrounding him, I still love his Graduation album. It reminds me of the summer I graduated from college and several long lazy runs along the river. The right amount of chill vibe mixed with the kind of steady beat that keeps you going.

But this does not perk me up at all. The trouble is I want to do a hard workout. I want to do crunches, and lunges, and squats. I want my hamstrings and abs to burn, and shake and I want to feel like I am making progress. I want to be in the gym but I know I am tied to my desk. Don't get me wrong I love my job, I love my work, but I WANT to be in the gym. I want to be sweating and working hard. I want my headphones on, blasting rhythm in my ears as I go for another set of reps. Just thinking about my workout is getting me more energized. And that's when I realize my lethargy is not being caused by my lack of desire to work out. The fact that I am NOT working out is causing me to feel lazy.

Twenty two more minutes and I will be in my glory.

xx Sara

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The real deal

The piercing sound of my ringing phone breaks me from my peaceful sleep. Crawling out of my cave of blankets and pillows I reach to shut off my alarm only to realize it is my mother calling. I muster up all the energy I have to say "Hello" and when she asked If I am ok, I don't sound that good I respond with "You just woke me up, I am tired". She let's me go, and at first I plan on going back to sleep but then I realize the sun is streaming through my windows. I'm awake, I might as well do this running thing and get it over with right?

But my body begs to differ. It feels like I am hungover, my whole body, even my head, aches and my throat feels dry. But I didn't drink last night, so what gives. Well instead I awoke at 5am on Saturday to take the train into Manhattan and spent the day with my mom and sisters directing them every which way, to shopping, eating, more shopping, and finally a show before they we were both on our way back home. I stretch my legs out, roll over onto my back, and try to convince by body to get out of bed. Clearly I need to work on being a little stronger at convincing myself because the next think I know it I am waking up again, and it is an hour and a half later. The sun is gone, and once I can keep my eyes open for more than a minute at a time I call my mother back. I tell her how tired I am and how cold it is outside.

Her response is "so wear gloves" and this is why I love my mother. She knows everything I've been through and then some. She knows there are no excuses. But she also knows when you can make compromises. When I tell her about my dilemma with all the plans I am trying to fit into one day she tells me to run with whatever time I have, and then move onto the next thing. And she's right. I may not be able to fit 13 miles into a 35 degree Sunday after spending Saturday walking around Manhattan and then be ready to go to Boyfriend's Parents house for Palm Sunday by 2pm. Just too many things. But does that mean I should skip my run all together? Certainly not. So I roll my sore body out of bed and get it some water, Ibuprofen, and a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. All the basic necessities for recovery. I pick out all the essential cold weather gear, running tights, sports bra, technical tee, Nike running jacket (aka the speed skater jacket), gloves, and for today my white and navy Boston Red Sox hat. Just to be clear I am a Phillies fan, but I grew up in Massachusetts so I own a white had with a navy blue B on the front. And I wear it when I need a little kick in the butt to remind me one day I want to run Boston. And I wear it when it rains.

Once out the door, I am pleasantly surprised that I am not greeted by bitter cold air and happily start down the street at a decent pace. This is the part of the run where I feel the best. All the doubt and excuse pushed aside, when I finally get out that door and before my body has realized what has happened, I am happy. It only takes a few moments before I realize how grey and dreary it is outside and how empty the streets are. I pass a man running in the opposite direction and we nod and say a quick good morning to each other. It's as if we both acknowledge that it's a crappy day but yet we are both out running, so we must be serious hard core runners. Joggers don't come out on days like this.

Twelve minutes into my run I realize once again I forgot to take my inhaler before leaving my apartment. I am at least a mile out, only have one hour to run, and refuse to go back home. Smart people would probably turn around and go home, but smart people probably wouldn't be out here in the first place. So I keep on going, and I don't even slow down. I just decide to push myself at a moderate pace and see how far I can get. I had decided to run along the Lincoln Drive Trail because it always seems to feel shorter than two miles and the hills break up the run really well. I say 'Hi' or 'Good morning' to every runner that passes me, not because I am feeling particularly cheery, but because I have a respect for them being out here on a day like today. If I had been feeling down on myself earlier for not being able to run the distance I had wanted, I had pretty much let that feeling go.

Sometimes it's not about the distance you cover, or the speed at which you run, but the difficulties which you overcome to get out and run. I don't know many other people that would choose to leave a warm comfy bed and cozy pj's for a cold rainy early afternoon run. In fact had it not been for my mother, I probably would have made up enough excuses to convince myself it was ok to spend the morning in bed. By the time my watch has hit 20 minutes I have passed a handful of real hardcore runners and the secluded path by the creek is ending.

It opens up to Main Street and I have to cross traffic to continue my run. Ahead of me I see the light flash to walk and I don't know if I can muster enough energy to get to the crosswalk before the light turns back to red. But then the caution hand appears and a countdown from 12. I think "this is it, I have to make it. I am being challenged by the hand, can I make it in twelve seconds" My legs whirl underneath me as I come out of the trees, the sign taunts me, 9, 8, 7. My lungs burn as I watch the orange numbers flash before my eyes, 5, 4 and then I am across. Panting for air, people gathered at the bus stop must be looking at me like I am some sort of alien, running in the rain, racing against traffic lights, but I continue on. I am not going to let anything slow me down. I reach the top of a hill just as my watch hits 28 minutes and decide this will be the turn around mark. The wind immediately whips at my face and I realize I have been running with it and the second half of this journey is going to be more painful than I thought. Although by this point it is raining, and sunny, and cloudy all at once. I am halfway done and should be feeling great but fatigue is building in my legs and lungs as I charge back down hill into the wind.

I will myself to keep going and start breaking my run into little bitty pieces so they don't seem so scary. Just have to make it past the CVS, and then just have to make it past the movie theater, just have to make it to the top of the hill, and then the next hill. And when I get to those hills I make my legs really work. There will be no easy jog up these hills, I make my quads and hamstrings burn in pain as they climb me to the top. Nothing like a lot of pain to help convince me the slower I run the longer I have to stay out here. Every hill I tackle I remind myself that I am out here when no one else is, so just keep going at a steady pace and finish. I climb the last hill, and make may way out of the woods again, pushing myself as far as I can go until I am stopped by a red light. I am a mere 1/8th of a mile away from the finish and I jog in place stretching my arms out away from my sides. I realize to the cars passing by I must look like some crazy person trying to take flight, but they do not understand, so I do not care. The light is green, and I take off.

The end of a run has never felt as good as that last two minutes running back to my front door. The pain I had experienced that morning has all but left me. My feet, cushioned by my wonderful sneakers are no longer throbbing in pain, my legs no longer feel like lead. I feel energized, and alive, so glad, and proud that I managed to fit in a run. I ran with out my inhaler and didn't need to stop along the way gasping for breath. I managed to keep around a 10 mm pace. It is not always the goals you think most important that give you the most glory. Sometimes just getting out and running in the rain, convincing myself to keep going despite any doubt and discomfort I may have been feeling, is the thing that makes you the strongest. Anyone can have a good run, but a real runner finishes a bad one no matter what.

xx Sara

Friday, March 26, 2010

Regaining my confidence.

I know there was a time when I was a confident runner. I remember it, so it has to be true right? I thought with enough hard work I could conquer any goal, achieve any PR, even qualify for Boston if I really wanted to. Larry believed in me, he pushed me, and in the months leading up to Hartford I felt like I was on top of the world. My goal was to break (or at least come close to) 4 hours. Everything about that day was perfect, except my race.

I held it together for the first ten miles, keeping in close to the 4:00 pace group. I remember starting to doubt myself around mile twelve when my breathing was becoming more labored than normal. I had mentally given up before I even met up with Larry to run the second half of the race and I fought with myself over stopping until I reached the finish line. Knowing you want to give up at the halfway point and forcing yourself to run 13 more miserable miles is probably the most brutal punishment one can give themselves. I had PR'd by 8 minutes which boggled my mind because it felt like I was dying most of the time. I didn't have the 'first marathon' high that I had at Philly. My family, dressed in red shirts painted with "Go Sara, Break Four" gathered around me to congratulate me, they were so proud. But I was crushed. What had happened to me out there? Instead of making up a reason or excuse, I simply settled on the fact that maybe running a 4 hour marathon was not in the cards for me.

If marathons were as dreadful as the nearly five hours that I had just suffered through I never wanted to go through that again. If ever race all I could manage was a mere 8 minute PR, I wouldn't be qualifying for Boston until I was almost 50. I decided to take time off from running until I could figure out my life. I finally singed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon late in the summer of 2009 but neglected to train and that race too, was a failure. Fine. The marathon clearly isn't for me, it is just too much distance and I am not strong enough a runner to finish one I am proud of so I just won't do them. I turned my back on the marathon and instead went back to my good friend the half. It started with one, just one race to prove to myself I could still do it. But with my first race being in April that left the rest of the year a little empty. Ok so maybe I could do two races, one in September, but that still left the whole summer with no goal to keep me going. That's when I stumbled across Boston 13.1 and began training with Team Challenge. It was on my first training run with this group that I really began to look inside myself and all the doubt I had been putting on my ability.

One of the common topics of conversation while running with new people is your running history. When did you start, why did you start, races you have run etc. I told my story of running two marathons, failing at the second one, and taking time off before starting to get back into it. Talking about my failure out loud, in a way made me conscious of why I had failed in the first place. I couldn't breathe. And I spent a year going to a spread of doctors to find out what had been wrong with me. But now I knew what was wrong with me, and I knew how to fix it. I had experienced runs recently where I forgot to take my inhaler beforehand and felt the same suffocating feeling from Hartford. So if I had fixed the one thing that was broken, who's to say I really CAN'T run a 4 hour marathon. Who's to say I CAN'T qualify for Boston in the next few years? In the past few days I have been doing a lot of thinking, and realizing that I have not been giving myself enough credit. I am famous for saying "No Excuses", but maybe admitting the race sucked because of my asthma is not an excuse. Maybe it's just something that happened, that I learned from and am not a stronger person because of. After all I did finish the marathon although in total agony. I have spent enough time beating myself up for it, it's time to just get out there and just RUN.

UNITE Half Marathon @ Rutgers in 23 days.

xx Sara

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Speed work for dinner

If long runs are the meat and potatoes for marathon training, that would make speed work the vegetables. The part that you know is good for you but would rather not do, the part you want to feed to the dog and pretend was never there in the first place. But when you get down to it, don't you feel better after you've eaten your vegetables, and don't you feel better after you've done speed work?

Last week, with the first glimmers of spring appearing as warm sunny days, I slowly acclimated my body to outdoor running. I enjoyed the scenery as I ran my easy miles, explored the trails and landmarks, and even took some pictures along the way. But I knew something was missing, something was too soft. My half marathon was coming up in less than a month and I was starting to feel like I needed to prove myself. I had put in all this work and I wasn't about to have a mediocre race. Today then, I had decided would be a true speed work day. Sure I had been doing speed work on the treadmill all winter, a compilation of tempo and intervals. But when you're outside on the road, the rules change. Your body does all the work, not the machine. True speed work hurts. It is a grueling, painful torture of a workout that left you feeling like you would die on the spot. But once that feeling passed you felt like God. I needed to do four miles - So I decided on 4 x 800's. Half mile repeats.

So I packed up my booty shorts hoping they would give me the extra something I needed, and went on with my day. All day long all I could think about was the run. When the sun never showed it's face I was nervous it would be cold and I would be miserable. When I realized I had forgotten my sports watch at Boyfriend's apartment I thought my chance at speed work was shot until we made a plan for me to pick it up. When I had picked up my watch and was mere minutes away from starting my run I thought I had forgotten my inhaler on the kitchen table. I literally pounded my fist with outrage onto the steering wheel. The one thing that I could not run without was my inhaler. But a second look into my purse showed it had been there all along and I took my required two puffs.

It was time. I stood outside my parked car, tucked the key into my shorts pocket and was on my way. Right away I congratulated myself on choosing the booty shorts. My stride unrestricted stride was easy as I did my warm up 1/2 mile. I was as excited as I was nervous as I approached the marker to begin my first repeat. The path was empty, the skies grey, and the air not warm, not cold with slight breeze. It was as if the stars had aligned to give me the perfect day for speed work. I crossed the 1/4 mile mark on the sidewalk and picked up the pace. I had no plan. I had no goal time. I figured I would pick a pace that fast enough to feel challenging but one I could maintain over the entire half mile. I wouldn't know what the numbers were until I was done. In fact it had been so long since I had run repeats I forgot what a decent time even was. I crossed the halfway mark and already wanted it to be over. Three quarters of the way I thought I was going to throw up. By the time I finished I was gasping for breath and surprised I had not thrown up. As I jogged my recovery quarter I checked my watch. I wasn't shocked or disappointed with the result, and I figured it would be pretty do-able to stick to that time give or take five seconds. So I went for another one. Right away I felt the pain building up in my stomach and my breathing was fast. My legs didn't hurt, they moved in such a fluid motion I imagined myself as a gazelle. Imagining things made the work so much easier and I pushed on, concentrating on nothing but the finish. I crossed the line, hit the split button on my watch and glanced down at the tiny screen. Five seconds faster than my first time? I was feeling a little bit proud as I trotted through another recovery. I wondered if it had been a fluke, if I had burnt myself out and would I be able to make it happen again. The only way to find out was to keep on going and by this point I was at the halfway point for my whole run. I turned around and immediately headed into my third repeat. I felt a change, like something inside me had clicked on and my body knew how to run for real. This time I didn't get winded right away and gave an extra hard push to the end. Looked at my watch, another 8 seconds fast. This was crazy. What was happening to my body? Each repeat felt like coming farther out of a coma, my body falling into the rhythm of a faster pace. One more left. I had watched my time get faster and faster and this would be no exception. I started giving myself a pep talk through my last recovery.
"Just do this, just run, and push, and go through to the end. When it's over then you can rest but not until you are done. Just go, steady and strong, just go" I start. I push. And then with a wash of relief the pain is over. I am gasping for breath, practically running in place as I check my watch. 6 seconds faster. 19 seconds faster than my first.

After so much time doubting my abilities, today has filled me with hope and excitement. I have roughly three weeks until my race and now, for the first time I believe I can run with a good time. I believe again that I can start setting goals for myself and achieve them. I believe again, in myself.

1/2 mile interval times
1st repeat - 3:59
2nd repeat - 3:54
3rd repeat - 3:46
4th repeat - 3:40

xx Sara

One reason is all you need.

Reasons NOT to run
1. The weather is too cold/rainy/hot/humid.
2. I feel tired/cranky/out of it.
3. I would rather be at home on the couch with my significant other.
4. I want to spend time with my friends, and they do NOT want to run.
5. I have errands to run/grocery shopping to do.
6. I don't like the outfit I packed in my gym back this morning.
7. I just ran yesterday.
8. I will run tomorrow.
9. I don't think I can finish the workout I have planned.
10. I forgot my watch.
11. I forgot my socks.
12. I just plain do not WANT to.

Reasons TO run
1. NOT running is NOT an option

I always say that more than half the battle is your attitude. Do whatever it takes to have a positive attitude and you will succeed. Reasons to NOT do things are not reasons, they are excuses, in a reason costume. Do not believe them. Do not let them get into your head, if they do get them out before they have time to get comfortable. There is no place for negativity in achievement. Do you really want to wake up tomorrow and have to erase miles off your log? No? I didn't think so. So get it together, get those shoes on your feet and get out the door. Trust me you will thank me for it later. You may not thank me while you are running, and it may not be when you are finished. It could take days. But trust me. You will thank me.

Now go RUN

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


When it comes to dieting, I've been through a lot. I've gone through phases where I cut out all things sugar and fat, kept logs and journals, meticulously counted calories and even had some unfortunate bouts with not wanting to eat anything at all. Working in an office of mostly women I have seen more than my share of diet trends come and go. The Cookie Diet, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Skinny Bitch, The Lemonade Cleanse. I even distinctly remember one Friday afternoon while crowded around the high top tables in the bar of The Cheesecake factory discussing what diet to start on Monday. This as we dug into to samplers of every appetizer on the menu washed down with a deliciously fruity cocktail.

I never gave a second thought to what I ate my whole life, until college. In high school I was the girl that would finish the fries off your plate, or the last slice of pizza so we could throw away the box. I was always active, and always skinny. In college the only thing that changed was my involvement in sports. I still lived for pints of Ben and Jerry's, cherry coke, Oreo s and Easy Mac. It wasn't until about halfway through the year that I started to wonder if maybe these habits were starting to have a negative effect on me. I didn't feel like my clothes were fitting the same, so I started going to the gym one day a week. One day turned into two, and two into three, and so on until I had settled into regular routine. Before I knew it I was cutting things out of my diet, like chips and soda. By summers end I had sworn off fast food, and I thought I was on my way to feeling better about myself.

But through the rest of college I struggled with being happy and indulging in the foods I loved, and being skinny. I thought the two were mutually exclusive. How could I have a healthy relationship with chocolate, and my body? Part of me knew that to be happy in life you had to enjoy every moment, and live in every moment. When friends wanted to go out for ice cream I never wanted to be the one on the sidelines sipping ice water. What I didn't realize was that I didn't have to be the one taking on the ten scoop ice cream extravaganza challenge. I had gained a demented sense of pride as a child from being able to eat so much at one time it was hard to shake. There is no pride in eating yourself sick. There is no pride in starving yourself thin either. Let's face it life is too short to not indulge in our favorite rich and delicious foods every now and then. I also have taken A LOT of time to accept that the shape I was born with is the shape that will always be. I am a pear, be the pear, love the pear. Life is so much more relaxing and easy when you accept things you do not have the power to change.

I am convinced that good diet is incredibly hard to uphold in college. As much as there is a routine and an order to life, there is chaos. Chaos filled with 2am Wawa runs, pizza for breakfast, and if you are me and live in Philly, the amazingness of cheese steaks. I started to notice that during finals wees, when my diet was at it's worst I felt like I was at my worst. After all the studying, tests and projects, when I had time to feed myself good things like fruit and vegetables, my body felt so much better. It can't really be that simple can it? feed your body good things and you will in turn feel good? And not only that but I stopped telling myself that anything was "off limits" or "restricted" and just ate things I liked or wanted just not our of control portions.

I no longer believe in the word 'diet'. I personally think that they are set up for failure because they are based on restriction. But to be fair, because I do not believe in them I have not taken much time to research them. I only believe in nutrition and feeding your body one good friend once told me, "Thin people eat when they are hungry, and stop when they are full". Never have I heard a move valid piece of advice and even though my eating habits had leveled off to normal I still always keep this in the back of my mind. Somehow our culture has brainwashed people to believe you need to eat only at breakfast lunch and dinner, and that you must clean your plate at every meal. Now I am not one to advocate wasting food but if you are full, stop eating. save the rest for later. leftovers are not the enemy. And if you are hungry an hour after eating your morning bagel, eat something else! Anyone that knows me would tell you I never stop eating throughout the day, I rarely finish a meal at a restaurant, I drink a ton of water all day long, but I will also have no problem putting away half a pizza.

Have your cake, and eat it too. Enjoy every delicious chocolaty bite, smile, and love yourself.

xx Sara

Monday, March 22, 2010


I'll admit this picture has little to do with my post but I really like it.

According to Wikipedia, two-a days either refers to a 2006 MTV show about a high school football team, or more generally a tradition in high school football to run two practices a day in the summer, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Usually referred to as "hell week", and although in my context two-a-days do not last a week (thank goodness) I would have no problem agreeing they are hell.

To me, two-a-day means two runs in one day. Something that I just cannot get behind no matter how hard I try. I recognize that if you are an elite runner you probably run twice a day. I also recognize that when you are not running you are either eating, or sleeping, and probably not at your full time job, which although pretty fabulous, does not at all relate to running. There have only been two instances that I have done two runs in a day, both long runs, and both necessary to meet my weekly mileage.
The first time, was just about two years ago, training for my second marathon. I had gone home for the weekend to run a 5k with my littlest sister, who was hoping to PR and did not. I did roughly a 2 mile warm up, the 3 mile race I ran the 5 miles back to my house. With 10 miles under my belt I spent the morning/early afternoon sleeping on the couch until it was time to head back out again. I completed an 8 mile loop around town and when I was done I wasn't sure my legs would ever work again. I'm pretty sure if they could talk to each other they would be saying "WTF are you doing to us? we thought we were done and could rest and then you take us out for 8 more miles? seriously NOT cool!" Thankfully they are just legs and keep quiet.

The second time I did two runs in one day was Saturday.

After a wonderful run through Valley Forge park with Team Challenge Philly, I headed off to Kelly Drive for another six. On the way, stuck in the glorious mid morning traffic only 76 can bring, I sipped on some Gatorade and chocked down a few shot blocks so I wouldn't be dying from hunger, at least not for a while anyways. Traffic let up before I could use up what remained of my energy on anger and in minutes my car was parked and I was ready to go. I had also changed into a t-shirt in the car, from my long sleeve Nike, but was immediately wishing I didn't have to wear a shirt at all. It was HOT!
"Better get this over with," was all I could think about as I took off up the hill to Falls Bridge. I decided on West River, thinking it would be less crowded and possibly more shady, I clearly wasn't thinking that there were no leaves out yet when I made that decision. Not even across the bridge, I was feeling winded and realized I probably should have taken a second shot of my inhaler. Could have gone back, but didn't. The stubbornness in my personality makes it hard for me to veer off track from something I have planned. Right now I was already starting my run and I refused to go back, convinced myself I would be fine.
And breathing wise, I was fine, my legs however were another story. It was like starting an old car that didn't like to run, in the middle of winter, and it's low on gas. My legs were thinking they were done, they got up early, they stretched, stood out in the cold morning air, and then ran four miles of hills. It's a different kind of pain that comes from being tired, taking a short break, and then starting again. This is why I am constantly fearful about taking a walk break. I get so comfortable I don't want to start running again, and the pain that comes with starting up is too much. But I know I must push on and So I do. I push on for two and a half miles until I am running so slow it is practically a walk, and yet I am panting as if I am sprinting for the finish line. I am kicking myself for not turning back for my inhaler. So I walk. I walk as runners pass me in ever direction. I walk as I catch my breath and feel stupid for having to give up.
The longer I walk, the dumber I feel and by the time I hit my turn around point I am so angry I am determined to run the rest of the way back. No matter how much it sucks I am proving to myself right now I can do this. It was a long, slow, sometimes jog to the end, but I made it. I don't even remember what I kept telling myself to keep going but whatever it was it worked. I congratulated myself on little accomplishments, like crossing every quarter mile mark. I watched people to pass the time. I kept thinking how proud of myself I would be when I just finished this damn run. And I thought about how good Dunkin Donuts iced coffee would taste when I was through (after my Gatorade to re-hydrate of course!)
And when I was faced with the last uphill stretch I picked the most pumped up kick butt song on my IPod, turned up the volume and just ran like there was no hill at all. The last quarter mile was a blur of amazing and when I was done I practically collapsed onto my car with exhaustion. Of course the first thing I wanted to do was call my mother and tell her all about it.

You never know what you can accomplish until you try, and even when you fail there is nothing stopping you from trying again, except yourself.

xx Sara

Crowned a Socialite


I'll admit, amongst my posts about 6am wake up calls for long runs, 1/4 mile intervals after work and the general pain and suffering I put myself through on an almost daily basis, a post like this stands out more than a little bit. But the Lilly Girl inside me is thrilled to have been crowned a socialite by non other than the fabulous Bethany of Maryland Pink and Green and I couldn't resist passing it along. I swear it brightens your day!

Please read the rules and questions and consider yourself tagged because you are all lovely bloggers. Cheers~

I'm crowning you a socialite!
The rules-
Click on the above button and paste onto your blog/website
Answer the below questions
Pass onto 10 bloggers that you Love, go to their blog and let them know they've been tagged

1. Who is your style icon?
Lilly Pulitzer - anyone who can get away with going barefoot in public is fabulous.

2. What is your favorite socialite lit book?
Confession - Social Climbers is on my to-read list but I have been SO obsessed with work and running lately I haven't been making time to read. (uh-oh)

3. Favorite party theme? Anything that requires dressing up, or cooking something new, ok really I love ANY party theme no matter how crazy. I just like to have a good time!

4. Go to Halloween costume? I am terrible at Halloween costumes. There are always too many choices and I can never decide.

5. Extravagance you cannot live without? Pedicures.

6. Living person you admire? My mother. It may sound cheesy but it's true. She is one of the strongest, genuine, giving, hardworking, loving people I have ever had the privilege to know.

7. Greatest Fear? Losing anyone I care about

8. Trait you deplore in yourself?
I tend to gossip more than I know I should

9. Which talent would you most like to have?
Carrie Underwood's voice, because let's face it as much as I LOVE to sing it's better for everyone involved that I just keep quiet or it could be painful to your ears.

10. Greatest Achievement?
Finishing my first marathon. I know there will be plenty more but the first one will always mean the most to me. My mom was there to watch and I definitely cried when I crossed the finish.

I'm crowning the following socialites:
1. Through Pink Colored Glasses
2. College Prep
3. If I can't wear Heels... I don't want to go
4. Classy and Fabulous
5. Denim & Pearls
6. Preppy Girl Meets World
7. Her Highness of Cute
9. Third Coast Preppy
10. Black Labs and Lilly

xx Sara

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First day jitters and inspiring new people

Everyone remembers that night-before-your-first-day-of-school feeling of nerves and excitement. As we grow older, although we are no longer in school, that feeling reappears from time to time on the night before other important things. Like the night before your first day at a new job, a big race, or just meeting up with a new group of people. So the night before my first training run with Team Challenge I was of course full into that feeling. I don't know what I had to be nervous about, we were going to run four miles which I knew I would be able to accomplish, so it had to be more than fear of failure. So I started analyzing what was going on in my head
"Would there be a lot of people? Would they all be faster than me? Would they be friendly?" and that's when I realized my lovely social anxiety was rearing it's ugly head. If you know me pretty well you would probably never guess I had a problem being social. I tend to talk, a lot, and not too quietly either I may add. But that's only if you know me well.
Dear Brain
I appreciate all the hard work you do for me, but sometimes I wish you would just take a rest. There are something I just don't need to think about, and if you stop thinking so much I maybe just a little happier and definitely a little bit less stressed. Just consider it ok?
K Thanks

And like any other night-before something big, all I had were nightmares about the next day to come. Completely ridiculous dreams about not getting to use the bathroom before running, having the wrong map of the route and getting lost, and then it turned utterly bizarre as I was being hunted down by some crazed killer (clearly that is my punishment for watching Criminal Minds before bedtime) and just as I was about to be shot in the face (yikes!) the gentle melody of my cell phone alarm woke me out of my sleep. There are not many times I love my alarm, but when it wakes me from nightmares if it is magical.

I was afraid to be too early. I am usually ALWAYS early if I can help it, but not this morning. That damn social anxiety thing was waking up inside of me and it told me not to be too early. I wish I had more strength to not listen. I stretched, I ate, put on sunscreen, I got all my things together and with a satisfied nod to the mirror by the front door, I was on my way. This was going to be great, because this was the part where I start to get excited. I would run four miles with the group, drive back to the city, and do a six mile out and back to bring my daily total up to ten.
The highway which is my daily commute into work was pleasantly deserted and I am totally jamming out to the radio, enjoying the sunshine. Leave it to me though, the girl who works TWO minutes from Valley Forge National Park to get off the wrong exit, not be able to turn left, have to drive around the ENTIRE King of Prussia Mall (ps by the way the mall is like a small city) before getting on the right road and making it to the park.
The clock on my dash reads 7:58. I keep seeing the words "8am sharp" in my mind, from the coach's email earlier this week. 7:59. As I turn the corner into the parking lot I see a few different large groups gathering and then it occurs to me, which one will be MY group? But I am so mad at myself for being late that I dash out of the car and run up to the one that is standing around in a circle. It would be so like me to run up to the wrong group and hang out with them for about five minutes before I realize I'm not in the right place. Thank goodness I was right, a man is talking to the group and he mention's Crohn's and Colitis and I let out an internal sigh of relief.
I look around the circle and am immediately intimidated by the few older men dressed like pros. It's like Larry, fast forwarded a bit. Oh no. But then I keep looking around and realize there are some people who look just as unsure as I feel, and some in between. I feel better again.
Oh and ps did I mention that I stood out like a sore thumb in my pink leggings? Let's face it though, a Runner's wardrobe is pretty similar to a New Yorker's, black. At least lots of black bottoms and a few colored tops. And there I stood, pink leggings, white long sleeve Nike tech tee, pink iron-man watch, pink Under Armour headband. Hey at least I was repping some pretty legit brands right?
We listen as the woman to my right talks about nutrition (one of my favorite subjects!) and then we go around in and say our names. But not before I realize I didn't take my inhaler and I make a mad dash back to my car, take two quick puffs, and then dash back.

And then we are on our way. Out of the cold shade of the lower parking lot and into the warmth of the sunny trails. My memories of Valley Forge are extremely biased, because for two years at least the only time I was out here was for the Valley Forge Revolutionary Run, a five mile loop of the park. The race is in mid April and my body was never ready for anything more than a brisk walk. Not to mention the race finishes up a majorly painful hill. I was thankful we were walking to the top and would start to run from there. It looked like there were far more people doing a run-walk than a full out run, which made me more nervous because it looked like I would be trying to keep up with the experts. But the pace to start off was right on par with what I could handle, and after all, I reminded myself it was only four miles. I could do four miles, and I should be ale to push myself through four miles. There are six of us running, open fields and bunker houses all around us. It is a gorgeous morning and my legs feel great, great because the first stretch is flat. Before I know it, there are hills but I keep up the pace. I can feel my breathing start to become a tiny bit labored but I do not let my pace stop. It really helps that there is a group to keep up with. I am so thankful for them being there. We chat about our past running experience, and things like that. We hit the turn around point and head back to the parking lot, passing other team members on the way and we cheer and high five each other as we pass. And although the chatter continues, most of the way I am just thinking about the whole experience, and the reasons that brought me here in the first place. The run is over before I even feel like it's been hard, although I know my legs will be reminding me for the rest of the day that I made them wake up early and run. Twice.

Whenever it feels hard I remind myself this is only the beginning and the road is only going to get longer. As we gather by the cars, waiting for everyone to finish one of the coaches mentions running 19 miles after this, and another chimes in saying he is running 20 tomorrow. Suddenly my 6 extra miles don't seem so bad, in fact they seem a little insignificant. I remember why I love running with training programs such as this one. Not only does it feel good to know you are giving back and doing something you love, but it is so inspiring to see the people who volunteer their time to coach. People who run multiple marathons in a year, ultra marathons, and run 70 -80 miles a week. People who make me want to run harder, faster, better.
I think about this the whole time I am on my second run of the day. When I am tired, when my legs hurt, when the sun's mid day heat has sweat dripping off my forehead. I think that I must keep going. Always keep going. Just Don't Quit.

One Team. One Goal.

Don't forget I am running to raise money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America - Please click here to visit my fundraising website and donate today. Crohn's disease affects people I am very close to and it means so much to be able to do such a good thing.

xx Sara