Wednesday, March 30, 2016


It never fails - the minute my body realizes I have some downtime and can relax, my immune system goes on vacation and I get sick.

I've spent all of spring break so far wheezing and coughing and not getting the sleep I was so looking forward to because it's pretty hard to sleep when you can't breathe.
My life right now.
I have a doctor's appointment today, so hopefully if it's anything more than a cold I'll get some medicine for it. I've avoided starting my prednisone thus far, but we'll see what the doctor says. Fingers crossed that I'm feeling better by Friday, when I fly out to Atlanta for the ASCD Conference.

The worst part about being sick is that I can't run through it. I'm not sure if this is just an asthmatics thing, but I can't run to clear my chest. I literally can hardly breathe just sitting on the couch, so I know running is out of the question. But we got one last little cold front this week and I had to miss out on enjoying it because I can't breathe.
"A little pissy" is an understatement.
Really, really annoying.

Even the arm/abs challenge Michelle is hosting this week is too much for me at the moment. It just really sucks that a little cold can have such extreme consequences just because I have asthma on top of it.

Anyway, just checking in. I hope you all are having a good week!

What's your favorite cold remedy?
I'm in need of a good book to read on my trip - recommend me something!


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Workout Memes

I'm linking up (a little early this week) with TOTR!

There's one kind of meme that drives me absolutely nuts. It's the "fitspiration" meme. You know the's the meme with a picture of a skimpily dressed body-builder emblazoned with the words "strong is the new skinny".
Sure, let's shame ourselves and pit women of different body types against each other. Sounds like a plan.
To me, these are barely a step away from the body shaming of "thinspiration" memes that trumpet the superiority of being thin.

Sometimes fitness memes get it right, but all too often they take on a kind of self-hating tone. They make exercise seem like punishment. They take joy in the pain of accomplishment. And personally, I don't think that stance is healthy at all.
This is the picture that started my rant today. It was posted in one of my running groups and many of the women liked it - and I get that. I understand that fitness can turn you into a new person in a way, physically and mentally. But we shouldn't be discarding the "old us" or fighting the "old us" as if she's an enemy. Why do we feel we have to hate ourselves in order to make positive changes in our lives?
How about this one, that shames your current body and basically suggests you beat it into submission because the way it looks right now is embarrassing and unacceptable?
Or this one, which normalizes the unhealthy idea that pushing yourself to the point of crying, sacrificing form, and puking is a good, healthy way to work out? Am I a total baby for thinking that you're going overboard if you've pushed yourself to that point? (I know this is a badge of honor for some runners, but I think it's unnecessary and unhealthy.)
Here's an exceptionally bad's borrowing the pro-anorexic phrasing of "nothing tastes as good as thin feels" in an attempt to make it about fitness instead of starvation, but the underlying message is still there.

Some fitspiration does it right. It promotes being healthy and working out for the right reasons, and I wish we saw more of this rather than memes that give credence to the cruel, bullying voices in our heads that tell us we deserve to suffer because our bodies aren't good enough and need to be brutalized and pummeled into shape.
See, this one gets it right. Eating healthful foods and moving our bodies should be about celebrating what we're capable of. It should be about realizing that our bodies are the only one we get, and we want them to keep working - and working well - into our golden years.

You don't need to hate your body or yourself to strive toward making changes; in fact, I think we get further when we treat ourselves with the respect we deserve. How hard is it to do something that feels like punishment everyday, compared to something that feels like a celebration of our worth and value?

Honestly, if I never saw another one of these types of memes ever again, I'd be happy. Give me motivational blogs and running groups over this tripe any day!

What do you think of fitspirational memes?


Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Five: Spring Break!

IToday I'm linking up for the Friday Five!
Today officially starts spring break and I couldn't be more ready. You know you're ready for spring break when your kids are perfectly behaved and you're still snapping at them!

So what are my plans over break?

1. Grading! Grades are due at the end of break and I have poetry anthologies, essays, and soundtracks to finish grading.
I have no one to blame but myself...
I love our poetry unit, by the way. If we're friends on Facebook, you may have seen my post about the  kids' slam poems bringing each other to tears. It was such a heartwarming and rewarding experience.

2. Sleep! I know this isn't a revolutionary or fun thing to list, but it's probably the thing I'm most looking forward to. I've really been dragging over the last couple weeks and I could use the extra Z's.
I have actually had dreams about sleeping. Maybe I have a problem.
3. Sun! Florida doesn't have much "spring" in its spring; we really go from winter straight into summer. I'm hoping to get a little sun before it's pushing 90 and being outside for even five minutes is torture.

4. TV & Books! Matt and I are literally weeks behind on our favorite shows because I just haven't had the urge to sit down and watch anything, and I haven't had time to read either. It will be nice to empty out my brain with junk TV, then fill it back up again with quality reading.
I have very eclectic taste in TV.
5. Atlanta! At the end of break, I'm taking a trip to ASCD in Atlanta with our curriculum and administrative teams. Last year ASCD took us to Houston, and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to go again. Last year there were tons to learn and absorb, and I came back so ready to implement the new stuff in my class. I could definitely use another dose of inspiration from the conference.
Last year at ASCD.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to break...Really, it's the little things that will bring me joy and some much needed relief.
What is your favorite break activity?


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Marco Island Half Marathon

Last week I mentioned that I was running the Marco Island Half just for fun with Kristin. Well, "fun" is a subjective word, it turns out.

This was honestly one of the hardest races I've ever run! It was really humbling...but not necessarily in a bad way. This was my 10th half, and I was beginning to feel a little cocky about it. Boy, did Marco put me in my place!

I only signed up because Kristin really loves this race and was getting cold feet after Disney. Side note: anyone else develop a short-lived fear of distance races after their first full?

Anyway, Kristin loves this race because it's challenging and so totally different than any other Florida race. Guys, there are hills. Like, legit hills. The course takes you through a hilly neighborhood in the first mile, up a super steep bridge around mile 3, and then immediately back up the bridge again!
From miles 7-11 there are constant rolling hills through a very pretty Marco Island neighborhood. And then, at mile 12 you come back to the first neighborhood and its hills. And then, finally, you finish. Your legs feel like water and your heart rate is going crazy from all the ups-and-downs, and the finish line is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

This is not my kind of race, but I was more than happy to experience it with Kristin. And it was kind of cool to face the fact that being good at my usual half marathons doesn't mean I'm good at all of them. There's always room for improvement!
Pre-race! We wore matching tops :)
Anyway, race time. We got to Marco just after 6, so we had plenty of time to get our bibs and use the bathroom a million times. It was sprinkling, and we were hoping the rain would continue. We thought it started at 7, but it actually began at 7:30. By that time, the rain had stopped and the steam and humidity of the morning was coming off the street in almost tangible waves.

The late start sucked for a few reasons. For one, I was hungry again by the time we started running. For another, it meant the sun had a chance to get directly overhead before we finished.

Anyway, my calves were sore almost immediately, but I knew they'd warm up. The sun came out around mile 3, just as we were on the bridge, and that was tough. In fact, the sun and lack of wind coupled with the post-rain humidity is really what made this race so hard. The hills were hard but doable; a March date for this race is ludicrous.
Somewhere around mile 10 I think.
There was some shade throughout the neighborhoods on the latter end of the course, and the support and water stops were great. And honestly, the views were gorgeous but hard to focus on because I was on the struggle-bus the entire race!

Around mile 10 we asked volunteers to pour ice in our bras; around mile 11, a breeze picked up and we finally got some real cloud-cover as the rain we'd been looking for finally seemed to be rolling in. (It never did rain, though.)
The course was really tough and I struggled, but it was nice to be there with a friend and my legs are pleasantly sore from the hills, so I'm chalking this one up as a new, challenging long run with a medal at the end!

In fact, maybe I could say this will be a favorite memory for me, if only because I've never run a race like it before and because I got to conquer it side-by-side with Kristin.
...That doesn't mean you'll catch me doing it again, though!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Race Shirt Controversy

I'm linking up with Erika for TOTR!
It's easy to pick out new runners at races; 90% of the time, they're the ones wearing the race's shirt.

Now honestly, I don't find this topic controversial, but I do have a pretty strong opinion on it for myself. When I signed up for my first race, I wore the race's t-shirt because the race organizers asked us to...and it was cotton, to boot.

Since then, I developed the sneaking feeling that I shouldn't wear the shirt until I'd earned it by beginning - and hopefully finishing - the race.

It's also how I felt about owning any kind of 13.1 or 26.2 paraphernalia or putting the distance stickers on my car before I'd completed those races.

There are other, more valid reasons to save the race shirt until after race day.

1. I don't do anything new on race day. It's a good rule for a reason; you have no idea if that new shirt will chafe, bleed color, or otherwise bother you until you've tested it out! Even for a short race, I prefer to wear my tried-and-true racing clothes.
One exception to this rule: I bought this tank top the night before Cape Coral because I knew it would be too hot NOT to wear white. I didn't regret it. 
2. Some shirts aren't the right style. Many winter races give out long-sleeved shirts, but it's often in the 70s or warmer on race day! And quite a few races give out cotton shirts, which I absolutely won't run in anymore. Not to mention that I prefer tank tops and very rarely run in any kind of sleeved shirt; I find them annoying.
Space Coast was a November race and their shirts were long-sleeved, but the race-day temperature was in the mid-70s!
3. I put a lot of thought into my race outfits. I spend good money on my cute running clothes and I debate multiple outfits before leaving the house on race day. I factor in temperature, humidity, the possibility of rain, whether it will be partially-cloudy...I'm not going to eschew my perfectly planned, color-coordinated racing ensemble in favor of the race shirt!
Just a few "Flat-Ali" pictures. Laying it all out is imperative to planning. The bottom three are each of my marathon outfits!
4. It's not good fashion. You don't wear the shirt of the band you're seeing to the concert, you know? The same rule-of-fashion applies to races. 

Okay, that last one isn't really a valid reason, but it's how I feel!

The truth is that I rarely wear race shirts for anything other than lounging around the house or coaching volleyball. Someday I'll get them made into a quilt, but it hasn't been a priority.

I know plenty of experienced, talented runners who wear the race shirt on race day, but for me, it just never felt right!

Where do you stand on the controversy?
What do you do with all your race shirts?


PS: Skirt Sports is having their Spring Sweeps giveaway! It's really easy to enter, and they'll be giving away a $100 gift card every day until March 30.
Click here to enter!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Blog Mistakes & Evolution

Monday night around 6pm, I thought it was about time I updated the header over here at Hit the Ground Running. Little did I know, it would cause a little stress and take two hours of my time to fix.

To keep a long, boring story short, what happened was that I considered turning my blog blue instead of its usual purple. Rather than changing the colors manually, I fiddled around with the template, and the next thing you know, the blog was restored it its original settings, which meant it was coral!
I shouldn't have clicked that...
Luckily I had saved the specs for my backgrounds, headings, fonts, etc. So I dug out my external hard-drive and set everything back like I had it, one setting at a time.
And this is why we back things up. I was so relieved I still had this!
Then I played with the header. Choosing pictures is really hard! I felt like all the running photos were redundant, but I wanted to pick photos that were important to me currently and more recent than in the old header. 

I also cleaned up the text a little; I wanted a simpler look to go along with my focus on simplicity in my running this year. I'm not a graphic designer or artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I did okay.
The pictures I settled on are: me after PR'ing the A1A marathon; Kristin and me crossing the finish line together after running the Gasparilla 15k; me contemplating life at one of my favorite running spots; me and Matt on my birthday at the A1A half; me doing my two favorite things at once.
My header has been through quite an evolution as I've gotten more into blogging. Here's what it used to look like way back in the day:
This was the first time I ever created something like this, and I was pretty proud.
Then, I decided my photos needed to be more fitness oriented, so I got rid of the headshot.
Of course, then I discovered PicMonkey and loved how streamlined I could make everything look! I never liked the space between all the pictures in this one, though.
Anyway, once I had the photos figured out, I finalized the look with a new subheading and uploaded it...only to decide that the background was a smidge too dark. So I remade it all over again. And then I decided I didn't like the zoom on one of the photos, but by this time it was 8pm and I wasn't going to waste the rest of my night on this thing!

Just kidding, I fixed the zoom, and it took me another 30 minutes because I was having trouble matching the background color perfectly again.

Now...back to contemplating the color scheme...

When's the last time you updated your blog's look?
How did you choose your header pictures?


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Shut Up, Brain

I'm linking up with Erika for TOTR!
I feel like I've been pretty lucky in not facing a lot of judgment about my running. I know some runners have to deal with naysayers a lot, but my family, friends, and running groups are overwhelmingly positive.
See? How can you beat support like this?!
Still, you hear the negative chatter once in awhile. More often than not, it comes from our own heads. As I've been mulling over last week's post about getting used to running short again, I was able to pinpoint why returning to shorter distances - even though I'm excited for them and am so ready for a break from marathons - has been hard to wrap my head around.

Real runners run long.

It's not true, but we've all heard it, or something like it. I thought I'd squashed this kind of negative thinking, but I guess it was just hibernating, waiting to wake when it detected the slightest hint of uncertainty.
The unsettling feeling I had last week about running shorter was me feeling like I was regressing by stopping marathons for awhile. I know logically that I'm not, but even if I were, I don't have to prove myself to anybody. I've run three marathons and I'm ready to take a break.

I have reasons for stepping back - I know I'm less scared to push my limits if the distance is lower, and once I've built some confidence I'll be able to translate that speed into longer distances - but that negative voice is there.

Overcoming that voice may be the hardest part of running.

I haven't heard my personal negative voice in awhile, and hearing it means I'm doing something new and scary, so in a way it's a good voice to hear. But now I need to push it aside, trust my gut, trust my plan, and keep moving.
See? Feeling positive and ready to go now that I've got all that figured out!
And really, now that I've figured out why I felt a little weird last week, I'm feeling much better about everything! I guess that's what happens when we confront our negative feelings head-on.

What does your negative voice say?
What do you think is the hardest part of running?


Sunday, March 13, 2016

This Week in Running

It's officially been a month since A1A, and I finally feel fully recovered and mentally there for running again.

This week was a nice improvement from last week. On Tuesday I met Elizabeth for quarter-mile repeats.
6 repeats at mid-7 pace felt good! Next time I'll wear my Garmin so we can be more specific about our times.
I missed my scheduled recovery run Thursday because I was traveling for work - I had my final meeting for the CRT cohort I've been participating in - and ended up getting home and eating dinner after 8pm, but I felt okay about it because my quads were still feeling Tuesday's run and I had a daunting tempo run planned for Friday.

That one went exceptionally well. I wanted to keep the tempo miles in the mid-10s, but I also wanted to include the bridge to help prepare myself for next Sunday's half.

Elizabeth and I ran a slow warmup mile, then began our increased pace on the first uphill slope of the bridge. We held it and continued to get progressively faster as the run went on; our fastest mile was the second bridge ascent! Our final mile felt like a real treat after those middle three, even though it was faster than our first.
That is honestly the kind of run that gets me fired up and excited to keep running. It felt so good to struggle through that one and push my body to a challenging pace. I was really proud of us.

Sunday called for a shorter long run because technically I should be tapering for Marco, but I still wanted to hit double-digits because that's always a confidence-booster. So I was willing to run anywhere from 8 (tapering) to 12 (I feel fantastic!) miles.

This run was rough. The tongue in my right shoe kept slipping, which gave me shin splints, and my stomach was upset for the first 2.5 miles. I finally ran back to the house to use the bathroom and retie my shoes, then headed back out. This was a mentally challenging run but by the end I felt strong and proud that I'd pushed through. My miles were progressively faster, with the last being the fastest at 10:26.
So over all, this week brought me closer to what my goal weeks look like, and I think I made good progress and had quality workouts, which is really what matters. I love when good runs leave me feeling ready and excited to get out there again!

How did your week look?
Do you prefer doing speed work alone or with a buddy? Elizabeth was worried she wouldn't be able to keep up during the tempo, so we had a contingency plan in case she fell behind, but she did a great job and we ran the entire 5 together!


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Shifting Perspectives

You know what I miss? The days when I could race at least once a month, easily. It's kind of funny because when I first began running, I didn't even know that road races existed! I was just running for myself and for fun. 

Once I discovered races, I became pretty addicted to the atmosphere. I feel like I race less often now, but looking back at my race recaps, I can see that that's actually not accurate. However, my races have shifted dramatically in distance; I barely did three 5ks in 2015, compared to eight in 2012, when I started my blog.
My eight 5ks in 2012...I had no clue what I was doing.
I used to live for 5ks, and now I feel like they're barely worth it. It just feels hard to justify spending the money and getting up really early on a Saturday to go run a mere 3.1 miles. This is a mindset I need to reset; it's time to get excited about short races again!

By the same token, I need to get used to the idea of running shorter in general. The other night I did 2.5 miles total - one warm-up mile and six .25-mile repeats. It was really hard work and I felt exhausted and beat up at the end of it, which proves it was a good workout. But seeing such a small number on my Nike+ at the end made me feel like the workout almost didn't exist or something!
Even though I'm excited for the shift in my training, I guess my mind is taking a little while to catch up. I'm finally realizing that the majority of my runs will no longer be slow and steady, but will instead be focused on getting them over with as quickly as possible!

I know eventually my speed work mileage will be longer and I'm looking to run approximately 25 miles a week, but I'm not quite there yet. I've only just started this plan; I need to be patient.

I'm proud of myself for forcing a little bit of evolution in my running. This is the first time that I've had a more obscure, general goal, rather than a goal for a single race. I think that this shift is really important. But it's definitely going to take some getting used to!

How has your perspective on racing and distances changed since you first started running?


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Best Thing About Running

Today for the first time I'm joining Erika at MCM Mama Runs for her Tuesdays on the Run Link Up. I've wanted to do link ups for a long time but I'm pretty terrible at planning ahead; I hope I'll be able to make this a habit.

It's hard for me to pick one best thing about running. Running has given me increased confidence, physical health, and mental stability. But when I think about running and the joy it's brought me, I can't help but think of the people I've met. The best thing about running, for me, is the community and the friendships I've made.

I'm not an easily social person. I tend to be a bit standoffish until I get to know people, and then I usually go through a period of trying too hard and being overly self-conscious once I figure out that I like someone. But there's an instant bond between runners than makes meeting new people a little easier, and runners are by far the kindest, most generous, and most supportive people I know.

I've met local running friends through races in my area, like Sean, who Matt and I first met at a SUP race and has become a great running friend. And if it weren't for Ragnar, I never would have met Kristin or a number of the other women who have become good friends of mine through our mutual love of running.
Finding Sean at a race has become a tradition!
If I hadn't taken a huge step outside my comfort zone, I never would have met or become friends with these strong, amazing women!
I've also been lucky enough to find some really amazing online communities, like the Sub-30 Club. Even though I haven't met the majority of those runners face-to-face, they're still some of the most loving and supportive people I know!
Obviously running led me to blogging, and blogging has given me the chance to make some wonderful friends.
There used to be few people that I honestly felt I could be myself around; usually those were friends I've known since I was really young. But anyone who's done a long run with a buddy knows that boundaries are basically nonexistent between runner friends, and that's something that I am truly grateful for.

There's nothing more freeing than being on a run that breaks down your own personal limits and to find yourself sharing the deepest parts of your life with someone else, knowing they won't judge you or hold it against you. Those types of friendships are rare, but luckily running makes them easier to find.
For someone who struggles to make friends, I really have running to thank for bringing all these wonderful people into my life.

What do you think is the best thing about running?


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Feeling Good

Sunday's run was just what I needed. I think there were two main factors that made it so awesome.

1 - I ran with Kristin, who I haven't seen in something like a month because of scheduling issues. I needed that!

2 - It was my first long run since A1A. We did ten miles, and I was so glad to get into double digits. And I was relieved, too, because we have this half on March 20 and I haven't gone longer than four miles since the marathon, so I was beginning to wonder if I'd be able to make it!
I know it's only really been two weeks since the race, but it feels like longer, and my mind starts to play tricks on me. Can I still run 13 miles? Maybe my body has totally forgotten how! Maybe I'll crash and burn!

We kept a fairly consistent pace, but since I turned off my auto-pause, our stop for fuel at mile 5 factored in here. Our moving pace was around 11:30.

Anyway, this week I ran a whopping 14 miles all told, but at least now I know I still have long runs in me.
By the end of the run it was only 61 out, but we both felt warm. I'm not going to be happy when spring officially arrives.
Funny story, speaking of the half. I told Matt I was running it and he was all, "I thought you said no long distance this year?" and I said, "It's just a half. A half doesn't count as long!" and then I slapped myself because who talks like that?
I guess what I meant was "no marathons this year" and "I'll focus on 5k and 10k races." I also vaguely recall telling myself "no half marathons after February ever again." Oops.

What was a highlight of your weekend?
What distance do you have to cover when training to set your mind at ease?


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Back on the Horse...Slowly

It feels like I've taken ages off from running, but in reality it's really only been a couple weeks. I didn't run at all the week after A1A, and last week I got in one measly run and some stretching. But this week I'm finally feeling ready to push myself and begin "training". 

Can I call it training if there's not a goal race in mind?

I actually am running just one more race this month. Kristin has a love affair with hills and signed up for a very hilly half marathon in Marco Island on March 20. I personally kind of hate hills, and this race is literally a constant up-and-down. (They're manmade, I'm pretty sure.) She asked me to run it with her, and I couldn't let her down! It's going to be a new kind of challenge for me. We're planning to just take it slow and enjoy the run together; no PRs or goals of any kind on this one!
Anyway, this week I'm trying to get my butt moving again. I met Elizabeth at her house and we ran to the park while her stepdaughter scooted ahead of us; then we did a few sprint intervals, and ran back.

It felt good to be moving, but wow were my legs reluctant at first!
The first day of speed work in months was humbling, but we finished with a smile!
I also did some upper body T25 this week, and some sporadic squats, planks, and core work. Honestly, it's nothing to write home - or a blog post - about, but at least I'm moving again.
It was pretty pathetic how wobbly 8 pound weights left my arms.
I have no transition for this, but I have something cool to share. Last year, a friend of mine linked me up with the developers of this new gluten-tester called Nima. I just received my Nima to beta test and the first thing I tried it on was a bowl of Lucky Charms! They just recently got the gluten free label (I've been waiting since Cheerios went GF because they get their oats from the same place) so they felt like a great first test. 
All good! The Nima shows a frown if there's gluten detected.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting my groove back. It's been nice to take time off, but I miss being in a good workout routine. Once it becomes habit again, I know it will all be easier. Spring is never my strongest season, but I'm determined not to waste any time getting back in the saddle!

Are you a fan of hilly races?
How do you get back into your routine after time off?