Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Boston 13.1 - Race Report

3:50 am. A time when the craziest of party animals are finally calling it a night and little children are tucked safely asleep in their beds. Certainly not a time to be waking up for the day. Unless you are me (or one of the hundreds of other Team Challenge participants) rising to get ready for 13.1 miles of pure running joy. Warning - this is a long post.

Team Challenge Team Philly. Most amazing group of people I had the privilege of training with

Part One: My reflections on the course and the organization (or lack thereof)

13.1 Boston, one of eight half marathons in the 13.1 series put on by US Road Sports, was in my mind not a beginner or first timer race. I have participated and volunteered for some great races in the past few years, so I know what it takes from behind the scenes and I know what runners expect when they show up. Then again, if this was my first race perhaps I would not know any better and would have been happy just for the great day.

We boarded buses as a team for the 25 minute drive to Canton Mass where the race was actually held. Boston? oh well I guess technically if you have a race in the suburbs you can attach it to that city by association. In all honesty I didn't have a real problem with the location. A friend of mine from the Boston area was also running the race and he drove up to the start on his own and said he had no problem parking although he was smart and planned to arrive nice and early. The start area was a decent sized field, with space to house several large tents for sponsors, vendors and runner services. My first confused moment happened while looking for the gear check, as there were many large white tents and not a single one of them said anything about gear or checking it. Finally I stumbled upon one that was labeled "runner services" that was collecting tagged bags from runners. Odd, but they took my things and I was too full of nerves to really be bothered.

The race started simple enough, your basic national anthem and then ready set go or something like that. Many people started running way before the finish line, but I stayed stubborn and waked until the very moment we crossed the timing mats. The course started off pretty flat. If it was going uphill at all I barely noticed. It wasn't until right before mile three that we made a right turn uphill that I started to realize this course was going to be a little bit of a challenge. At the top of the hill was the second water stop of the course, I grabbed a cup and kept going. The course rolled downwards, then up, down and leveled out for the turn around as we headed back up down and up again. We doubled back to the same water stop as earlier, and to my honest surprise, the volunteers had run out of cups. They were pouring water into our cupped hands, or people were just drinking out of jugs before handing them to the next thirsty runner. I know this was a first time race, but to run out of something so crucial as cups this early on in a race? How do you let this happen?

The rest of the race was no better. Right before mile 5 we turned right again and headed for another hill only bigger and badder than the last. At the top, another water stop of chaos. I kept expecting the usual "water in front Gatorade in the back" but no one ever made a mention of Gatorade. Not once. I can't imagine I would have wanted to scoop it up in the palms of my hand anyways even if they did have it. Water dries, but I don't think I would have run well with sticky hands for half the race. The downhill around mile eight was a godsend. and as we made our way through yet another right hand turn the road leveled off, and then continued plunging down. Down, down down, and all I kept thinking was please god just bring me an uphill because I know it's going to smack us all in the face when it gets here. And it did; at mile 11. The road went up, and up, and up for what felt like forever. It had to be at least a half mile. Thankfully that was the worst of it and I survived to see it through to the other end. After mile 12 I started to see spectators and they began to cheer. This seems like such a normal concept but so much of the race was run in the woods and through residential areas. The encouraging words kept me going and before I knew it I could hear cheering and loud music and could see the finish line.

It was the most anticlimactic finish I have had to date. There was no one there at the end tossing you a cold water bottle and words of congratulations. There was at best a table full of cases of warm water bottles that you pretty much had to fetch for yourself. There was no one putting a medal around your neck and saying "good job". Instead you had to cross an open field and get it from one of the race volunteers. At many other previous races there was a large tent for post race food where volunteers would hand you a perfectly rationed bag with one of everything inside. A piece of fruit, an energy bar, some kind of bagel or bread product. Not here. Everything was a complete free for all. And there was nothing to carry it in so even though the Costco sized muffins looked mouth watering I had no hands to carry it around in. I did grab an orange (my favorite post race treat) although my hands were left sticky with juice which I washed off in an iced filled kiddie pool behind one of the tents. Don't Judge.

I heard later on from some teammates that not only did they run out of cups, but eventually they ran out of water all together. Maybe it was because several race participants, faced with the prospect of no cups for their beverages, just grabbed a whole jug and raced on with it in hand taking sips the whole way. Race organizers also had the nerve to tear down the finish line before all participants had finished so they could open the roads back up. I can't even imagine how I would feel if I had worked for so long to train for this event and as I was on my way to the finish I could see it being disassembled. Talk about heart breaking.

Was the race seemingly disorganized and poorly planned? Yes. Do they have lots of room for improvement thanks to the fact that they set the bar pretty low? Yes. Will I be coming back next year to find out if it gets any better from here? Oh no.

Part Two: The experience of it all; Team Challenge

As I wrote before, this race to me was about much more than a finish time. At the pre-race pasta dinner, I was nearly brought to tears multiple times listening to patients who had the strength to share their story with the world in order to raise money to find a cure and endure weeks of training in the process. Being there with my team who I had trained with for months made this weekend more than a race.

When my alarm went off in the pre-dawn hours of the morning I happily sprung (ok ok I did not spring it was more like a roll, but I was happy) from my bed to get dressed to the nines. As a well seasoned runner I felt like I owed it to all the first timer to be as upbeat and positive as I could possibly be. I was also really excited for my bow, my temporary tattoo, wristbands, and bright orange singlet. I bounded into the lobby, gear check bag slung over my shoulder (also tied with a bright blue bow) bagel in hand ready to get the day started. We gathered in a gaggle of excitement and nerves, attaching D-tags and sipping on water bottles, all too amped up on adrenaline to yet be tired.

The buses were something reminiscent of a high school sports team away game road trip. All dressed in our race singlets, carb loaded, rested and ready to go. We chattered about the whole ride, talking about past races, expectations, etc. Before I knew it we had arrived, although it sure didn't look like a race start line because we were in the middle of the woods. The beats of blasting music drew us away from the parking area and into the open field where I cheerfully danced my way to drop off my gear, met up with a friend from the Boston area also running the race and spent the remainder of the time in line for the glorious porta-potties before lining up on the tiny two lane road for the start.

I'm not going to lie, the race course was challenging. But I like a challenge and I didn't mind. The out and back portions of the course provided a great opportunity to cheer for my teammates as they passed. Despite the hills, the up and downs kept my mind off the distance left to cover and the miles flew by faster than they have in any half marathon that I could remember. While running downhill around mile 8, Coach Jack caught up with me and gave me some wise (as always) words of advice. "If nothing else, run the rest of the hills smart". So when mile 11 rose out in front of me I took his advise and picked a steady manageable pace. When my breaths started getting short I made sure not to push it. Although inside I was screaming at myself for not being able to push harder, I knew If I went too fast at this point I would be forced to slow to a ridiculously slow almost walk. I have never been happier than when that hill ended and a slow decent to the finish began. Spectators began popping up along the side of the road, cheering us one, assuring us that we were almost there. This seems like the norm but so much of the race was run in the woods that I was used to running within the confines of my own mind. Concentrating on the bigger picture, the fight against Crohn's and all the people battling something much more difficult than 13.1 miles every day of their lives.

The crowd on both sides grew thicker and all of a sudden the finish line was visible. The cheering, and support of spectators, of Team Challenge endurance managers, coaches, and participants alike was incredible. "Go Team Challenge" and "Go Sara" rang out all around me (my name was on my bib). My time was disappointing, but it was quickly pushed to the back of my mind as one of my teammates crossed the finish line shortly after I did. It was her first half marathon ever, and she ran the whole time. We went out in search of water bottles medals and food. Incredibly we both still had energy left to dance to loudly playing music, the soreness of our efforts had not yet set in.

Walking around the finish area with this woman, who was absolutely glowing with pride, that was an amazing moment. The first time you cross that finish line and feel like you can (and it's true, you really can) accomplish anything, that is a one time feeling and it was great to see it in someone else. For the next few hours I wandered around the field, running into my teammates and offering them all sweaty congratulations hugs. It felt so amazing to be part of something so big, and something so good. Not only within my own team, but all the teams that came together from across the country to participate this this one event. The after race party was a celebration of not just the race but of the money and awareness raised for the cause. It was, to me, what made the day as incredible as it was.

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to help change the lives of millions? It's not too late to donate! GO HERE

xx Sara

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting Race Ready

With three days left until I leave for Boston for the Team Challenge half marathon, I'm once again starting my list of what to pack for the weekend. This time I will be gone for three days, no Boyfriend to accompany me and I want to make sure I don't forget a single thing (although I know I will). Now I am not completely high maintenance. I don't need to bring my own pillows, or sheets, I can make due with hotel coffee and such, but there are a few necessities

- Gatorade Powder. Lightweight and can be mixed into any water bottle anywhere.
- Once A Runner. Last year Boyfriend was so sweet as to buy me a copy of my fave running novel. The night before the race it helps me ease pre-race day nerves

- Hair Accessories. Since my first ever marathon I have worn a bow in bow in my hair for (almost) every race. It started as a way to work some pink into my outfit, and continued as a superstition. For this race, because the Team Challenge colors are navy and orange I plan on being a little over the top and wearing something a little like this. I'll be channeling my inner cheerleader.

What are you packing for your next race?

xx Sara

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baking like Betty

This weekend I had a get together with my college girlfriends for one of our, what we like to call "wine days". It started about a year and a half ago as a time to get together just girls, cook good food, have a few drinks and just have a good time. Now with two of us married (and pregnant) one engaged and the rest of us finally having found good men worthy of being boyfriends, we decided to nix the wine for once and just have a fun filled BBQ get together and bring all the boys along too. I had my heart set on making a dessert, because who doesn't like dessert? And at first I was content with making cupcakes (even though, knowing me, they would be made-from-scratch-over-the-top-perfect cupcakes) until I came across these babies. Of course Annie makes them look so much more delicious than my photos probably do, and I don't have a magical kitchen torch (or regular torch for that matter...) but I found that the broiler worked great!

Look at me all prepared, food network style, laying out all my crust ingredients.

True story: I love making things from scratch. Yes it is often harder than pre packages or pre-mixed but it is so much more fun to see the product develop in front of your eyes. Well worth all the effort, much like running.
Layer one, the crust, is a combo of graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar mixed together and pressed into a foil lined pan (sprayed with cooking spray). At first this seemed like overkill - and being one to rebel against direction I almost skipped the foil. Thank goodness I didn't it made extracting the bars from the pan SO easy!

Crust all mixed up and ready to spread into my pan. Smelled like Golden Grahams. Yum.

Bake crust for 10 minutes - Check

Recipe says "chocolate - finely chopped" I opted for "broken into pieces by hand" and it worked just fine.

My double boiler (for melting the chocolate) looks a tad disproportional and awkward

Time to make the cheesecake! Cream cheese, eggs, marshmallow creme, vanilla, and greek yogurt (I got adventurous and subbed sour cream with yogurt)

Here is where I get to brag about my Kitchen Aid mixer as if it was my first born child. I will gloat about the cookies, cakes and batters it has turned out as if they were academic achievements instead of a result of my hard work and ability to follow a recipe. I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, and I love any excuse to bring it out and whip a few ingredients together. It is to me, what Boyfriend's sports car is to him. It must always be cared for, cleaned shinned and polished. Now that you all think I am certifiably insane you can read about the rest of the my baking...

Go Speed Mixer!

Mixing in eggs, cocoa,

Last step is mix in that yummy melted chocolate and watch the creamy mixture turn into sweet chocolate cheesecake heaven.

My favorite part of all time was watching the mini marshmallows brown under the broiler.

As delicious as they looked I had to put them in the fridge for the night and wait until the next day to dig in. Although the boys couldn't keep straight exactly what they were, calling them time and time again "those brownies with stuff on top", I knew by the fact that I went home with an empty dish that they were a hit. Of course like my running I am never satisfied, thinking maybe I should tweak the cheesecake part to make it taste a little more chocolaty. But like any good run, I have to remind myself what's done is done and it was my best effort. Everyone was happy. Tomorrow is a new day. Who knew that running and baking had so much in common?

xx Sara

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy's Girl

If Dad had a choice, I would be a golfer.

Not for lack of trying, Daddy trying to get me into golf at an early age

So would my sisters. We would love the sport just as much as he does, we would love watching televised tournaments instead of just tolerating them, and just maybe we'd know enough to be able to pick out golf related gifts instead of relying on him to tell us what to get. He didn't get that lucky, we all love different things, but the best thing about Dad is he doesn't really care. What matters the most is that we are happy at whatever we do (and for me that I am successful enough in life to be financially independent because man, girls are expensive!).

He teases me about my choice of sport on weekends that I come home to visit. We are both up early on Saturday mornings and while he is chipper with the excitement of heading off to the golf course and enjoying his complete balanced breakfast, I lay on the kitchen floor eating a power bar and mentally prepping myself for my long run. Neither of us understand what the other sees in our sport. I don't have the hand/eye coordination to enjoy hitting a little white ball with a club and then chase it through the grass. And for whatever reason he doesn't enjoy the mental and physical torment of running for hours at a time. He always has some joke to make about him enjoying his golf and me looking so miserable heading out for a run. We both head for the door saying our "goodbyes" and "have funs" as I head off on foot and him by car. We may be into different activities, but at the end of the day we get the same thing out of each one. Time alone to think, clear our minds, enjoy a beautiful Saturday morning, each in our own way.

Thanks Dad for always letting me follow my heart even if it leads me to crazy places, and for always being there to cheer me on.

Happy Father's Day!

xx Sara

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sometimes it's about something bigger than a finish time.

Today was my last practice (of the season) with Team Challenge. Six miles of hills humidity and hot sun but I managed to finish in under an hour (I slowed significantly at the end). That wasn't the hard part. And neither was the fact that more or less I have been training for a very long time to get to this point.

It was on the drive home, listening to, of all things, the 2008 Olympic Soundtrack. Produced by AT&T, this compilation of songs could make a rock motivated to achieve anything. Or maybe it's just me and my tendency to get emotional over music. One of my favorites is Kate Voegele (this video doesn't even do the song justice).

The point being, as I'm driving I start to realize all the deeper meanings of my training. All the money I am raising, all the people it helps, and the best part is still yet to come. To train for a half marathon on your own is exciting and nerve wracking in it's own right but when you do it with a group of people this incredible bond is formed no matter what speed you run, the shape you are in, or even if you give up training when it's over. You come together over the fact that you endured together, through harsh weather and hard long runs.

For many in my group this is the hardest thing they have ever done in their lives. Their first, of hopefully many more, 13.1 mile runs. I can still remember many moments from my first race, from the pre-dawn start to the tears crossing the finish line. I remember wearing that finishers medal on the plane ride home with such intense pride. And I remember back at home shedding more than a few tears listening to Mariah Carey's "When you believe". ( Yes I am a sap, don't judge me!) "who know's what miracles you can achieve, when you believe, somehow you will" That was pretty much all it took. I (most of the time) just believed I could keep going and I did. And more than that, because my first half was also a fundraising race/training program, the whole weekend surrounding the race was this incredible emotional time when patients and such spoke to us at dinner, we rallied around each other saying things like "the pain we will go through isn't half as bad as the people we are helping"

So to all my fellow Team Challenge runners and walkers, you should be so incredibly proud of yourselves. You had the courage to embark on this difficult journey and look how far you have made it. You are amazing.
And to all the people who were able to donate to such a wonderful cause, thank you.
To the coaches and mentors who showed up every Saturday morning to run with us, you truly rock. In times when I felt like the oddball out, the only runner amongst my group of friends, I could always count on feeling like I belonged at our practices. Talking about hydration, nutrition, training tips, and race stories never gets old for me.

It must be June because I feel like the school year is ending and I am signing one very long yearbook message. I'm just a big ball of emotions. Boston is going to be great, whatever time I run I am just happy to be a part of this whole event. Sometimes it's about something bigger than the finish time. It's about the people you're with and the experience you go through.

xx Sara

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Frenemies - Me and the Inhaler.

Frenemies. Not really a word (that I know of) but such an accurate way to describe the way I feel about a particular piece of plastic that houses medicated air. Or something like that. I don't know why I always feel at odds with my inhaler. It's supposed to make me better. I should like the sweet release of breathing every time I inhale it's chemical mixture. But I don't. I feel like it is the ball and chain that holds me down and keeps me from flying free.

I am far more likely to blame my shortness of breath on stress, than say "you know what, I should take a puff of my inhaler". I get annoyed that I have to constantly fix this thing that is broken, and I don't know why it breaks. But I know what the doctor will say when I visit next time, the conversation will go something like this:

Me: "I am still feeling short of breath all the time"
Doc: "Are you taking your inhaler when you feel like this?"
Me: "No"
Doc: "So start taking your inhaler more and I'll see you in a few months"

So, in the middle of the afternoon, at a time when the most physical activity I get is walking to the kitchen and then walking to use the bathroom, I take my inhaler. Not so oddly enough I start to feel better after about ten minutes. But part of me still wonders if it's all in my mind.

Despite the afternoons troubles I force myself to go out on a run. It's been eight days since I have done any legit form of exercise and my body is begging for a run. Ok maybe my body was happy, but my body sure needs it and my mind is on board with the idea so I just go for it. Two more puffs of the inhaler before I start out.

If feeling short of breath at my desk is frustrating, than feeling short of breath while running is death. I want to scream, I want to cry, I actually feel my self wanting to punch a tree (a tree? yes, for some reason that is the exact thought that popped into my mind). Not even two miles into my run I feel that itty bitty tightness at the very end of my breath. It taunts me, and I am forced to slow down until I feel a full breath of air fill my lungs. Of course this isn't nearly close to an asthma attack, it's almost worse. It's nagging at me, gnawing at my patience ready to bite hard just when my legs start to get warmed up and ready for speed. How can you stay calm when your legs have so much fight left in them and your lungs say no? I know I shouldn't get upset. I know that being frustrated and anxious only makes things worse, and the only way to get better is to calm down and slow down. Watching people pass me doesn't help my situation I only feel like people are judging my slowness. I wonder why me, why now, why after so many years of running did this have to get thrown at me.

And then I force myself to turn my negative thoughts upside down. How can I honestly feel sorry for myself while running. There are so many people in the world who would kill to be able to do what I am doing, just getting out and being active. So maybe I have limits sometimes, or maybe I have an off day every now and then and need to slow down. But if I'm not going to be diligent and take the meds the doctor tells me to take I have no reason to be complaining or feeling sorry for myself. Before I knew it I was relaxed, and enjoying my run once again. The skies above reflected my change of mood as the dark menacing thunder clouds opened up to rays of early evening sunshine. Reminding me that there's always a calm after the storm if you can just hold on and get through.

xx Sara

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another week of setbacks

As I sit here watching the rain fall outside I try to keep the negative comments surface in my mind. It has been more than a week since my legs have felt the freedom of a run. And the worst part is I am, for the most part, just happy to be lazy for once on a weekend. That's not to say I have been laying on the couch eating bon-bons for the past week. I have been BUSY!

It started with monday working late and skipping my run to get some rest for a 4 am wake up call. Opening day of the Lilly Warehouse Sale. Holy C-R-A-Z-Y. Because my job is all about fit, my team always get assigned to work the dressing room. Yes dressing room singular, one giant section of the floor separated with black curtains in which we must squeeze as many female bodies as humanly possible with out violating safety codes. For anyone who has ever attended the sale you probably do not realize how much work it is just to keep the dressing room free from chaos, never-mind the hard work by the rest of the staff. I literally did not stand still for five seconds between 5:30 and 12:30. As I sat down to eat lunch my feet felt like I had just finished a long run, thank goodness I wore sneakers. After my shift it was time to head back to the office to do my real work. By 5 pm I was equal parts exhausted and hungry. There would be no running tonight.

And there would be no running any other day last week, I felt like the energy had been drained from my soul. There were two more shifts of the sale to be worked (although thankfully Friday was cancelled and I was able to spend some quality time with Boyfriend.) Part of the time I would feel bad for slacking on my training, I mean I had a race coming up in two weeks how was I going to be ready? But the rest of me just wanted to sleep. Forever. I was burnt out and it wasn't even from running.

Saturday I skipping my 14 mile training run with Team Challenge to get ready for a baby shower of a close girlfriend of mine. Once again I was not going to let running be the excuse that kept me out of my friends lives. It's bad enough that I don't do anything social on weekdays in order to fit in my weekly milage, but this shower was a once in a lifetime thing. It would never happen again. There will always be more races. If it wasn't so hot out that afternoon I would have thought about trying to get some miles in then, but it was miserable. Plans to make tacos and margaritas trumped running and feeling like I had a life again was starting to feel pretty good. Granted I was starting to feel kind of soft around the middle (side effect of taking a week or more off) but I was having fun, enjoying food, and friends.

Today, if you live in the greater Philadelphia area and have stepped outside you know how miserably hot and humid it is. Now add to that the fact that I do not have air conditioning. Sounds like the prefect weather to go out and take a jog in right? WRONG. Horrible terrible no good weather. Plan B? Wait until it gets later and night, the sun goes away and then try for at least a few miles. Oh except that it's supposed to thunder until about oh, about midnight. Perfect. In case you don't get it that pretty much means I am stuck inside not running.

The good news is that tomorrow when I go out to run six miles my body should feel pretty good. Hopefully my days of running around at the sale have kept me in good shape. If nothing else the half marathon coming up in two weeks may just have to be for fun and the experience. I can tell right now that this summer is going to be tough, as summers usually are. During the time when all I want to be doing is sitting lazily on the beach, or by the pool, eating bad for you things like ice cream and burgers, I have to remember that I need to fit in long runs and drink lots of water.

Just have to remind myself that tomorrow is a new day, a new week, and with the right attitude anything is possible. I have slept A LOT this weekend and should be nice and rested. I am strong, and awesome and this race can be anything I want it to be.

xx Sara

Monday, June 7, 2010

Not happening today

Sometimes I feel like I need a weekend to recover from a Monday. This week especially. And sometimes no matter how badly I want to run I just have to face facts that it's not going to happen.

There are two weeks out of the year when life gets put on hold and everything revolves around one five day long event. That's right, the Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale. Warehouse sale = Big deal at work and we all rally together and volunteer our time to staff the sale so you wonderful consumers can have a fabulous shopping experience. While I enjoy this event and the happiness it brings to our shoppers, it takes up a lot of my day. On Wednesday I start work at 5am (when the sale starts) and work until around lunch time, and then go back to the office to make sure things are done there. Even though it is only Monday I am overflowing with stress trying to make sure everything gets done so there are no problems when I am out of the office.

Throw in the fact that I am looking for a new place to live come August and must call property managers and realtors during business hours + trying to get all my work done = today was a VERY long day. Too long to have time at the end of the day for a run.

In the past I would have beaten myself up for something like this. But not today. Maybe I am finally learning to make everything fit into my life. Or maybe I am just too tired. But whatever it is, I made sure my work got done and then went home and poured myself a very nice cold glass of wine.

Running will have to wait until tomorrow. Life is happening today.

xx Sara

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Drop and Give me ... Eight?

That's right. Eight. That is how many push ups my weak little arms could squeeze out with out breaking perfect form or wanting to die. Ok my arms aren't really that skinny. They are toned enough from my years of competitive swimming, but nothing too impressive. Not that I want to walk around looking like the hulk (although I do love green!) but my upper body deserves some attention too. Why should my legs get all the glory?

Here is the thing with me. I love a challenge. If you tell me I can't do something, I want to do it that much more. I want to prove you wrong. If you push me down it I will only come back at you that much stronger. So when I started hearing about this 100 push up challenge I was very intrigued. First step was taking the initial test. I felt like I was back in high school again doing the presidential fitness challenge where the only think I was good at was the sit and reach and ironically pull ups.

After much procrastination I finally talked myself into if after one of my shorter runs. Although my body wanted nothing more than to lay down and not get up for two days I figured my legs got a workout now it was time for my arms. All I had to do was keep my body in a straight line, lower myself to the ground and push it back up again. How hard could it be? Obviously harder than I thought when I hit eight I was done. I took the words of advice on the site and didn't push to hard, I would rather start a level lower and work my way up than start to hard and burn myself out. Eight. I sat there on the bedroom floor feeling somewhat defeated, like I wanted to do more. I wasn't sore, or tired, shouldn't I be hurting?

Week one. Day one. It was a Monday, Memorial day to be exact. After a easy five mile run with Mom and Boyfriend, before packing up to head back to Philadelphia, I pulled out my yoga mat and set up in my dad's office for the first set of push ups. 6, 6, 4, 4, and then as many as I could do (at least 5). With the rest period of about 60 seconds between sets it was feeling a little difficult but not impossible. Before I knew it I was done. I was beginning to think this would be the best workout challenge ever.

And then I woke up Tuesday morning with my arms and abs the most sore they had been in months. And I loved it. I rarely have the energy for abs or upper body once my weekly mileage goes above 20. It just doesn't feel like a priority as much as getting my rest. But this was great. Doing push ups after running doesn't tired me out as much as I thought it would, and with how sore I was feeling I actually felt like it was going to make me stronger. For the entire day I was constantly stretching out my arms and abs. After some quick Google research I found that it was my Pectoralis Major that was feeling it the most - obviously I hadn't used those in a long time. The program calls for three days a week, and suggests Monday Wednesday and Friday, which I had intended to stick to except my arms were still sore after Wednesday's run. Day two would have to wait

Week one Day two. Thursday's run was six miles. I didn't finish until 9:30 at night, and if I didn't make time to squeeze in my push ups I was afraid I would have to scrap the whole week and start over again on Monday. Not that I would have lost a whole lot of progress. I was one day deep and it took me two days to recover. I really did have weak arms. But I don't like to fail, so even though it was late, and I was hungry, I made myself do those damn push ups. Day two's sets were 6, 8, 6, 6, as many as you can (at least 7). Let me tell you it was not getting any easier. I would get halfway through a set and use the same mantras I would for running. 'Halfway there' 'Just four more' 'Stay calm and keep going'. When it was over the only thing I could think about was "Yes! Now I can finally eat dinner!" and promptly inhaled a tuna and cheese sandwich.

I almost expected to wake up Friday with the same sore arms and abs that I had on Tuesday but I did not. I awoke with the usual all over body tiredness that comes from consistent training but my arms, they felt pretty good. The question was, am I getting stronger, or was I doing my push ups wrong.

Week one Day three. I am on vacation. Ok so I'm really an hour or so outside the city staying at a hotel for a friend's wedding. But I'm in a hotel so it feels like vacation. People come in every day and make your bed, there is free coffee and not much to do but lay around and watch TV and browse the internet until it's time to start getting ready. Oh yea and this little matter of 13 miles. Which turned into 10 treadmill miles in the hotel gym as soon as I realized our little hotel was on a very industrialized stretch of main highway and I had no clue at all where I was or where I would go. I had not planned to take my phone and so for the safety of myself and the peace of mind of Boyfriend I toughed it out and went to the gym. The gym that was smaller than our room but came equipped with two fancy treadmills and a decent TV to help me pass the time. Two hours later as I hopped off I figured I might as well stay and do my pushups before heading back to the room. Day three: 8, 10, 7, 7, max (at least 10). I needed the music from my IPod to pump me up. Doing the second set of 10 was definitely a challenge. Doing the third and fourth sets felt ok, and the last set I managed to do all 10 and was just happy to be done.

Now that one week of the program is behind me, I wonder how much I really care about being able to do 100 push ups. I really like that it makes me stop and focus on my upper body. I haven't even looked at week two yet but part of me feels like it would be worth while to repeat week one just to make sure I'm not killing myself. Either way, I'm feeling pretty strong and loving the new addition to my workout regimen. My arms don't look any different, but I am optimistic, remembering how much work and how many months it took for my legs to get as toned up as they are. And like everything else in my life, I am willing to put in the work for the results that will surely follow.

xx Sara

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy National Running Day

A holiday created just for us sneaker and short short loving, always sweaty, always hungry or eating runners?

Today will be like any other day. I will go to work and in the evening I will run. But I will run with a glow that isn't always there (and no it's not extra sweat because it's hot). It's because I know today runners all over the country of all skill levels are rejoicing in a day created just for us. To recognize what we do is awesome. Who knows many even a few newbies may lace up their sneakers and run their first mile.

Get out there and move your feet people!

xx Sara

Photo's From the Weekend

Two things are certain when I visit my parents house. There will be lots of food, therefor there will be lots of exercise to counter act the eating.

Fruit Salad for Sunday's Picnic. Yum.

Mom's chicken wings.

Me and middle sister. She is enjoying giant marshmallows that we will soon roast...

... over this fire in my aunt's outdoor fireplace.

Mom and I get ready for a Monday morning run. Yes I know, I am so pale I am see-through.

Which is followed by this yummy breakfast of vanilla Chobani, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and Mom's homemade granola. I never want to leave.

Boyfriend and me ready to head back to the city of brotherly love.

xx Sara