Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I had great intentions for a challenging Mix Method class this morning. I had planned, choreographed, and rehearsed a great sweat-inducing flow. I was going to educate the class on the importance of strong pelvic stabilizers. And for the most part it went as planned.

I even got to work on my favorite flow, Dogging Cobra:

We transitioned through the barre segment into the yoga section seamlessly. When we headed in the mat Pilates portion of the class, I noticed a shift. The women started talking. Normally talking during class really irritates me. How on earth are you listening to my cuing and educating if you are chatting it up with the girl on the mat next to you? And, for that matter, how are you focusing on your breath and alignment if you're constantly turning your attention to someone other than your teacher and yourself? But today was different. They weren't talking in a bad, we're-bored-and-you-are-losing-us sort of way. More in a I-feel-I-need-to-speak-now sort of way. 

Recognizing the need for these women (myself included) to just talk, I cut a few moves from the Pilates section and transitioned into the cool down with flowing Mermaid, energizing Rockstar stretches, and a restful Seated Eagle. I didn't even formally close the class, choosing instead to let the women dictate when class was over.

We lingered on our mats, swapping stories, sharing parenting advice, simply talking--slowing down to enjoy a moment of connection. And I noticed as we rolled up our mats, collected our keys and purses and left the room that we were all smiling. Smiling isn't unusual following one of my classes. I mean, I certainly hope you leave my class smiling, uplifted, refreshed. However, I noticed a certain buoyancy as we walked together to the parking lot. There was talk plans for the next class, even lunch dates later in the week. I felt carefree though I was headed back home to take care of a houseful of laundry and dirty floors. 

So this morning's class didn't go exactly as planned. And I'm okay with that because the practice of yoga and Pilates is about making connections, after all. And when our minds and bodies are connected, it's that much easier to complete the equation by reaching out to connect with someone else.

 How do you connect with others?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marathons and a 20-Minute Treadmill Workout

Some days are better than others. And when you wake up to a cat who's been sick all night, all over your floor--Why?--you know it's going to take some serious work to make the sun shine. This bracelet helps a lot.

I got it from The Beaded Butterfly.
And it makes my heart smile.

Yesterday I rocked a 12 miler. But not every day can be a 12-mile day, can it? Nope. Today it's simply not going to happen. I'm too busy cleaning cat sickness off the floor. (Rolls eyes dramatically.) So today I'm going to have to push through and just get a quick run done.
Finish in a Flash!

My sister, Mindy, ran the Top of Utah marathon on Saturday. She's part of at least a half dozen pacing groups (not literally, but she is in a lot of pacing/running groups) and ran this one as a pacer. If you remember, she ran the Big Cottonwood marathon last weekend as a pacer as well. This time she was slated to run the five hour pace. Seriously, five hours of running??? That's a long time to be running/jogging.

To top that off, she's also running the St.George Marathon in less than two weeks! The girl loves her marathons.
Which leads me to ask a question: How much is too much?
It's a hard question to answer. Even experts don't agree. 
The Physiology of Marathon Running: Just What Does Running a Marathon Do to Your Body? by Jake Emmett, Ph.D. both posed and answered questions on what happens to the body during the 26.2 miles of a marathon.
Admittedly, I have never run a marathon (not yet, anyway), but after running two half marathons in one month at PR pace, I can tell you my body felt all of those miles and then some. My muscles were achy and sore following both races despite my training. And today, well today I'm fighting off a cold.
In his article, Dr. Emmett states, "Microscopic damage to the muscles from running a marathon can cause more than soreness. As part of the repair process, cytokines are released from the injured area to promote the influx of white blood cells from the immune system. In particular, neutrophils, monocytes, and lymphocytes are elevated after prolonged endurance events such as a marathon ... The muscle damage incurred from running a marathon can divert some immune cells for muscle repair and weaken others, leaving the immune system less able to protect against upper respiratory tract infections."

To counteract any negative physiological reactions to marathon running, the author gives these recommendations:

  • Keep other life stresses to a minimum.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Obtain adequate sleep.
  • Avoid putting hands to eyes and nose.
  • Avoid sick people and large crowds.
  • Avoid overtraining and rapid weight loss.
  • Use carbohydrate beverages before, during, and after marathon races and long training runs.

  • Seriously, people. I cannot stress enough how valuable a healthy body is. Never, ever take it for granted! In today's culture of ultra-endurance fitness, it's hard to know how much is too much. If running a marathon, ultra, or Ironman is on your bucket list, please do so with smart training, adequate nutrition, and under the care of a physician.

    How much do you think is too much?
    Are you gearing up for a marathon, ultra, or Ironman?

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Good Enough

    I've been riding a roller coaster since last Saturday. One moment pleased with my PR. The next moment questioning if I could have done better; telling myself I should have done better.

    We runners are an interesting lot. We can be so highly competitive with our own selves that we become our own worst enemy.

    Speed is a relative thing. It is highly dependent upon innumerable factors. What one runner considers a slow, easy jog is another person's personal best. We all know and accept that. And for some--for me--running isn't always about competing, improving, or meeting goals. For the most part, running to me is about moving, breathing hard, feeling alive. And that is 100% okay. Or is it? At what point do we feel okay not giving it our all, because, let's face it, we can't give 100% effort every run. That is just ludicrous. Sometimes I need to run long and slow, taking my time to enjoy the feeling of running.

    Just last night I went for a run with my hubby. It was only about 159 degrees outside and I had only eaten about 114 pounds of food. I was sweating before we even hit the road and my gut felt like it had been filled with rocks. At some point though the feeling of air rushing in and out of my lungs and my legs pumping beneath filled me with joy and I forgot about how uncomfortable I felt. That's what keeps me going more than any goals, PR's, or prizes. Sometimes the work is the reward. The key is to keep moving, making the effort every day.

    So there's your pep talk, your daily dose of motivation. Get out, get it done.

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

    This is how race day started for me:

    I got up at 3:30 a.m. and ate two slices of my pre-race staple, cinnamon swirl bread. It was awesome. I felt great, not nervous at all. My sister and I drove down to Cottonwood Heights on the dark and lonely freeway. Parking was awesome--volunteers ushered us right into a parking stall in a well-lit parking terrace. We got out of the car and walked with the excited, if not energized crowd to the buses. This is where I said goodbye to Mindy--she was pacing the marathon while I was trying out my speed on the half.
    I got on the 4:50 a.m. bus and we were on our way. During the ride up the canyon, I chatted with a nice lady from Michigan, currently living in St. George, Utah. All 50 states and several countries were represented in this race. That certainly added to the excitement.
    We got off the bus at a camp ground. In the dark. In the cold. Did I mention it was dark? And cold? I believe the low temp. was around 35 degrees. At any rate, it felt like winter up there--and I am not a fan of winter, especially in September.
     There were literally tons of port-a-potties. Clean toilets. Awesome! 
    This part was not awesome. The race was supposed to start at 7:00. We had been told that the last buses would leave at 5:30 (marathon) and 5:45 (half). Apparently everyone decided to wait until the last minute and catch the latest buses. Subsequently, there weren't enough buses to get everyone up to the start on time. Oh, except for those of us who caught the earlier buses. We were stuck waiting in the cold, dark camp ground for an extra 30 minutes. The race directors did include mylar blankets and gloves in our race bags. Life saver! Despite the blanket and knit gloves, my feet became numb in the cold. When we finally did start running it felt as if I had blocks of ice instead of feet for the first three miles.

    I forgot to start my Garmin until almost a whole mile into the race. That turned out to be a positive as so much of running for me is mental and not knowing my true pace/distance really helped.
    The miles flew by due to the sharp downhill grade. Between miles 4 and 5 I could feel a twinge in my achilles. I reminded myself that pain is temporary and that a PR would be worth it. I kept pushing and actually felt really good. 
    Until mile 10.
    At mile 10 of the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon the course exits the beautiful canyon and continues on city streets. Up hill.
    My pace slowed considerably and I had to remind myself to just keep moving. It's a straight shot to the finish line and the whole way is lined with cheering spectators. And I have to say that the police personnel and volunteers along the route who were cheering us on and encouraging us really helped get me to the finish line with a  smile on my face.

    The finish line was AMAZING! Once we crossed the line, volunteers immediately offered you your medal and a cold, wet towel. That towel = perfection. There was plenty of cold water, soda (diet Coke after a race??? Yes, please!), pizza, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, chocolate milk, and raspberry bars from Whole Foods, etcetera. There were also vendors offering free samples of their nutrition/running related products. There was also a live band that added to the party.
    After downing water and plenty of diet Coke, I dodged into a port-a-potty and changed out of my sweaty shirt so I could wait for my sister in comfort.
    I was happy to get my official results (as my Garmin failed me): 1:45--a 9 minute PR! I'll take it!

    The medals were huge! I LOVE mine! And the race shirts are comfy and well fitted. (That's mine in the picture.)
    Mindy finished the full in 4:55. The full marathon course has a tricky uphill out-and-back section that just about undoes everyone who runs it. Mindy did okay by walk/running that portion and just powering through it. Sadly, there were many runners who had quite a difficult time. I've never seen so many medical personnel at the end of a race. I saw three marathoners taken away by ambulance, several hooked up to IV's, and innumerable runners vomiting as they came across the finish line.
    I think I'll stick with the half, thank you.

    Over all, the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon was the best running event I've been to (not that I've been to many). I definitely want to make this one an annual race.

    Monday, September 8, 2014

    Moonlight and Marathons

    This guy will be our running guide for the next nine months as we journey into fall, survive winter, and hold on through spring.

    Running in the dark is different than running in the light. It's harder for me; not being able to see what's in front of me, unsure of each footfall and never quite trusting the roadway. And then there's the danger...but that's all part if the training, what makes us hardy, confident of our ability to do hard things.

    I don't like doing hard things. I've never been intrigued by a challenge. I've done hard things though and know the joy of conquering. And sometimes I'm tempted to push my own limits. Sometimes. . .

    Yesterday I read saw on a blog a meme about the marathon. On it was printed a version of Psalm 26:2 "Examine me, oh Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart." I love it! I love how both the scripture reference and the verse apply to running--the marathon with its 26.2 miles, especially. And now I'll admit that I went searching for an equally inspiring scripture referencing a shorter distance--say 13:1??? Nada. Couldn't find one. So I guess 26:2--the marathon--it is.

    And just because I'm astounded that the moonset could be as breathtaking as the sunset, here from my run this morning:

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    Detours and Dead Ends

    This morning an acquaintance challenged me to write another book. Actually, he challenged me to finish a book I started writing years ago. He's challenged me several times in the past to finish this book to which I've laughed and replied that I'm either taking a break from fiction or that project is dead. But this morning his nudge seems to have hit me in the right spot (or write spot, ha ha).

    It's been a year since this happened:

    And three loooong years since this happened:

    And I swore I'd never do it again. You see, I've had three separate publishing contracts in my life. And all three have been . . . well, lets just say they've each been incredible learning experiences. For many, yours truly included, writing a novel is a bucket list item. But rarely are we ever satisfied with merely checking a box on our list. We want success. We want to live the dream. Are we satisfied with merely running a marathon, or do we want to qualify for Boston?  We at least want to PR, right? Is it ever enough just to jump from an airplane with a parachute strapped to our back? No. We want to fully experience the weightlessness, the wind, the breathless thrill. We want our friends and family cheering us on, maybe diving with us. Would we be satisfied with merely flying to Hawaii, landing at the airport, looking around, and then flying back home? No. We want to enjoy the sand and surf. We want to explore the tropical island by day and by night. We want to do touristy things while secretly dreaming of becoming a local. And for me, merely signing a publishing contract and holding my own paperback in my hands, flipping through the pages of my own creation, just wasn't enough. I wanted to earn a real paycheck, maybe pay my husband back for all of his support. I hoped for some success. I dreamed of signings and lectures and tours and events. And I did have signings and lectures and tours and events. And I did get a paycheck here and there. But all those things weren't what I had hoped they would be. Which was what, anyway? Learning experiences.

     And I haven't felt the need to go back to that and . . . have more learning experiences. So I walked away from my writing (well, except for blogging, which is kinda like writing--but not). I took a year off completely and I worked on me. 
    I certified in Sport Yoga.
    I crossed some running goals off my list.
    I read . . . a lot. And actually enjoyed it. (The love of reading left me when I got published.)
    I certified in Pilates.
    I fell in love with teaching group fitness classes.
    I started blogging again.
    I spent more quality time with my kids.

    And in the back of my mind something (or someone) kept nagging at me. Had I left that part of my life for good, or just for now? Had I given up? Am I a quitter? 

    I preach all the time that we need to keep a forward momentum, looking for progress. And yet, in this one part of my life I've been stalled. Is it time to kick myself into gear and get moving once again?

    I pulled up the old file of this next great work of fiction that has been calling my name. A strange and slightly familiar sensation began growing in my gut. Before I could recall what that feeling was, it crept up into my chest, tickled my throat a little, and spread across my face. I smiled as I recognized the feeling of excitement that only writing can bring, that old creative flame, the call to get lost in my own head, getting to know and understand my own characters, and my own demons.

    Will I finally finish the book now? Only time will tell.