Monday, November 30, 2020

Zooma Holiday Challenge, Week 2

I thought I might struggle this week because of the holiday, but that wasn't the case. Not only did I meet all my goals, but I really enjoyed this week! Fitting in movement and self-care came more easily and felt more natural, maybe because having an event on the calendar kept me focused. I actually knew what day it was every day this week!

Skirt Sister Kate mailed me a hardcopy of the goal tracker. Of course I hung it on my fridge

Nov. 23: I completed the same workout as last Monday, doing lots of squats, planks, and core work. I felt less sore this time around and like how easy it is to start the week with an at-home workout.

Nov. 24: I set a goal to run five miles and got it done! I was especially pleased because it was rainy and cold, but I kept this commitment to myself and enjoyed this entire run.

Nov. 25: For self-care, I baked for Thanksgiving! As this was our first Thanksgiving in Seattle and away from the majority of our family, it felt really important to have a good one. I baked two pies (apple and chocolate pecan) and corn bread, whipped up some whipped cream, and made my mom's signature cranberry sauce.

Given the circumstances right now, having a tiny Thanksgiving felt appropriate. We wouldn't have seen our families even if we had still been in Florida.
Nov. 26: I ran my Zooma virtual Turkey Trot 5k before we went over to Robby and Scott's for Thanksgiving. I didn't break any records (I felt pretty sluggish, actually) but I enjoyed keeping this tradition alive. Matt joined me, and we wore our ALSO Youth Turkey Trot shirts to rep our usual yearly race.

It rained on us nearly the entire run.

Thanksgiving can be a tough holiday because so many of the dishes have hidden gluten, but Robby and Scott went out of their way to make everything they could gluten free. 

Turkey, marshmallow yams, green bean casserole, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, cornbread, and cranberry sauce. The gang's all here!
We had a relaxing, fun holiday and spent the night, so we spent Friday with them, too.

Nov. 27: I doubled up on movement today, but not really on purpose! I had planned to try the boys' new Peloton on Friday morning, so I did. I did a 20 minute ride with Cory and actually enjoyed it. 

This did not hurt my butt as much as I expected, but my quads were MAD.
The last time I did a spin class was 2005. I hated it and never went back. But the Peloton wasn't so bad and I made a profile on their bike so I can go over there and use it for cross-training once in awhile.

It was a sunny day, so in the afternoon, we all decided to take a walk down to South Lake Union Park. We walked down, played some Phase 10, and walked back.

Nov. 28: Self-care today came in the form of sleeping in and recovering from a week of go-go-go. I also painted my nails.

Nov. 29: Full rest day. Admittedly, I planned to run but felt like I needed another rest day.

I baked another pie (because I had a leftover pie shell and tons of apples) and completed some work things...So in the end I felt productive even though it was another lowkey day. Sometimes self-care is about being an adult and doing the stuff you need to get done.

I didn't have enough crust for a top, so I made a crumble instead. Yum!
This week felt amazing. I loved feeling like I'd accomplished what I set out to do, ticking off boxes and keeping commitments to myself. This challenge is giving me a good reason to set little goals throughout the week, which feels great mentally. I'm ready for week three!


Monday, November 23, 2020

Zooma Holiday Challenge, Week 1

Zooma gear is 50% today and tomorrow (Nov. 24)! Use code BLACKFRIDAY at checkout!

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Zooma Winter Warrior package, which includes the Holiday Challenge and the Love Run Challenge. I hemmed and hawed about it because I tend to give up on challenges, but Matt convinced me it would be a great way to stay motivated and active during the coldest parts of winter, when I'm the least likely to want to workout. The social aspect in the Facebook group is nice, too, especially as lockdowns go into effect again.

The Holiday Challenge began last Monday. The 7-week challenge is to complete 4-5 days of movement a week and 1-2 days of rest, relaxation, or self-care. 

I'm pretty pleased with how my first week went. Despite having a couple setbacks early in the week, I refused to let myself down. I decided to be flexible in how I counted my activities and self-care. The point of this challenge is to take care of your body and mind through the holidays, not to beat yourself up!

Nov. 16: Rain kept me indoors, but I didn't want to do nothing on the first day of the challenge! I took some moves from two Blogilates reels (here and here) and added some planks and core-focused exercises as well.

My quads, hammies, and butt really hated me for this.
By the end of my second round, I was so sweaty and already sore. I haven't done squats since I did the Chloe Ting challenge over the summer and my quads let me know it!

Nov. 17: I was shuffling around like a grandma after a bad fall, but still managed a nice run at the UW Arboretum. This route is a nice two miles; the first mile is very uphill and challenging. 

3.4 hilly miles!

I planned to do the loop twice but decided I was too sore to conquer the hilly parts twice, so I took a shortcut and ran about about 1.5 loops instead.

Nov. 18: This was much-needed rest day! Matt and I drove to Bellingham to meet one of his paddling friends (masks on!) and check out their fire station.

Nov. 19: Although I planned to run, this became an unintentional rest day because Matt and I had some household stuff to get done. I used the downtime to paint my nails for the first time in months, and I think that counts as self-care!

I forgot how much I love painting my nails. I just get in the zone and feel so focused and relaxed. I'll definitely be doing it more often.

Nov. 20: My DOMs from Monday and Tuesday had finally subsided, so I tackled the Arboretum again. This time I successfully completed the loop twice, even though I nearly cut it short again. I've finally gotten into the habit of carrying my inhaler with me on my run, and that made things a bit easier.

Nov. 21: Matt, Scott, Robby and I hiked the Boulder Garden Loop, which is a two-mile trail not too far from us. We wanted to find a place that wouldn't be too crowded and this fit the bill.

Our goal was to go on a shorter hike because you don't want to get caught in the dark as sunset gets earlier and earlier, but the steep grades definitely made this a workout.

It felt like being in a jungle!

We indulged in some Shake Shack afterward and watched The Greatest Showman at Scott and Robby's, so this day doubled as an activity and self-care day. I like that this challenge isn't split into days so much as instances, so you can double up if you want to. Most of the time my runs double as self-care anyway!

Nov. 22: I was sore all over again (I'm beginning to think I'm getting old or something) so I did some easy stretches to account for my movement.

So, week one, done! It wasn't perfect but I felt a lot more tuned in to how I was spending my time and how I was feeling. It was a good week to get calibrated and take inventory. I hope as the weeks go on, this routine starts to feel more natural and easy, because I can definitely feel the mental benefits of participating in this challenge already.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Running Things: Seattle Edition

There's a difference between knowing something and knowing something. When we made the decision to move to Seattle, I knew I was going to be tackling a completely different world of running - trading hot, sticky weather for cool, gray skies and flat, smooth sidewalks for killer hills. I knew it, but I didn't know it.

I hadn't fully internalized or realized the significance of these changes until we got here. As I've finally gotten into running more consistently and have found a routine, some of the changes have been expected, but some have been a bit surprising.

Hills are everywhere

Well, mostly everywhere. This was actually the thing I was most mentally prepared for but the least physically prepared for. I knew my Florida-legs would need to adjust, but I didn't take my lungs into account, and I underestimated just how ubiquitous hills are. 

My neighborhood is built in tiers, starting at the top of a hill and sloping steeply downward toward Lake Union. We are on the second level, one street up from the waterfront. That means if I run from my front door, I'm immediately faced with some of the steepest hills I've ever seen outside mountain ranges. I've never even attempted to run up (or down) these bad boys. 

It's hard to explain or do the hills justice in both words and photos, but this kind of shows the tiering of our hillside neighborhood.

I can walk up to the streets above us - the residential streets run north to south and are generally flatter than the streets that actually go uphill, of course - but I've quickly learned that "flat" anywhere outside Florida is a lie. Even tiny baby grades have been testing my legs.

The first few times I tried to walk up to the street above ours, I got winded. From walking. (I can tell I've acclimated some because this same walk barely slows me down now!)

The parks I enjoy running in are less steep but provide a different challenge: rolling hills. I've found that even when my legs can conquer two or three hills in a row, my lungs can't. I've been struggling with how this new terrain elevates my heart-rate and triggers my asthma, but I can tell I'm slowly acclimating.

Enjoying a speedy downhill at the UW Arboretum.

The nice thing about hills is that they're secret speed work. I don't have to seek out a bridge for dedicated repeats anymore, and I know in time I'll be a stronger runner than ever before.

Luckily, I have been able to find one flat route. It's nice to have the option when my legs need a break.

Race shirts come in handy

Before we moved, I went through my stash of race shirts and parted with more than half of them. All the cotton ones had to go, of course, but I got rid of some tech tees, too. After all, we were downsizing drastically and I never wear t-shirts!

Most of my stash after getting rid of over a dozen shirts. Not pictured: tech tees that aren't from races.

When it's hot, I wear tank tops. When it's cool, I wear long sleeves. I've hoarded race shirts for sentimental purposes but I very rarely wear them for running.

That's not the case anymore! I've suddenly discovered why tech tees are a thing. They strike the perfect balance when it's too cold to start a run in a tank top but too warm to finish one in long sleeves. I can't believe my hoarding has been vindicated! Tech tees have become a wardrobe staple.

It gets dark early

This feels like a no-brainer, but like...when people say it gets dark by 4:30pm, they mean it. I've had to learn to run in the middle of the day or in early afternoon because I haven't found a route with good visibility for evening runs yet.

5pm before daylight savings ended.

I knew it would get dark early, but I had honestly forgotten that dark doesn't mean dusk. These days, it's fully nighttime by 5pm, and I'm not at all used to that yet!

What even is "cold"?

I'm amazed at how quickly I've adjusted to the temperatures here. One reason Matt and I chose Seattle was the weather; we were excited for weather akin to our winter experience in Edinburgh, but I had forgotten that after a few days of mid-40s, you just kind of get used to it. In fact, it starts to feel kind of perfect.

November's forecast.

If you've been following my Instagram stories, you know it took me a few runs to figure out when to ditch short sleeves for long, but I think I've adjusted now. When temperatures drop into the 50s in Florida, I'd bundle up. Here, I'm still running in shorts!

55° and spitting rain. The old adage to dress for 20° warmer than the current temp is proving to be good advice; I always found it useless in Florida.

That said, I haven't quite adjusted to running in cold rain yet. I love a drizzly run, but it's hard to get out the door when the weather makes hot chocolate and fuzzy socks so welcoming.

Luckily, the rain hasn't been as unrelenting as people would have you believe. (And this, I think, is a Seattle secret.) We've had at least a little sun every day, and only a few days now when the rain was so heavy that I opted to workout indoors instead.

I know I'll get into the cold-rainy-run mindset eventually out of necessity, but I just haven't had to yet.

I'm still in awe of the scenery

I'm a broken record on this topic, but I just can't help it. Fall has been everything I wanted it to be, full of deep, rich reds and glowing yellow leaves so bright they're nearly neon. I can't get enough of the crunch of leaves underfoot.

I can't get enough of these colors!

I'm half expecting the endless gray of late fall/winter/spring of my Cleveland childhood, but so far that sterile slate has been absent. The sky is blue and bright, even when obscured by clouds. The trees are vibrant. The grass has remained lush and green, and typical Seattle winter lacks the killing frost that would turn it brown.

I know the leaves won't last forever, but the abundance of conifers promises that even as the days grow colder and drearier, there will be green to enjoy.

I really hope I never get tired of the sight. Right now, every run is a feast for the eyes.

I'm never alone

I miss running with Elizabeth. We keep each other constantly updated on our weekly workouts and everything else in our lives, but I miss having a running buddy.

That said, I'm never alone on a run here. Seattle is full of runners. In Florida, passing another runner was an event to comment on later. Like, "Oh, I saw this girl! We waved! It made my whole run feel special!" 

That's not the case here. 

I wanted to take a photo of the trees and couldn't get one without people in it!

I've seen at least half a dozen runners, usually more, on every run. Maybe it's the stellar running weather. Maybe it's the influence of Brooks headquarters. Maybe Seattle just attracts outdoorsy, active people. 

Whatever the reason, seeing fellow runners is no longer a rarity. It's nice to feel like I'm never alone out there, but at this point I'm not even sure if a friendly wave is necessary. Do you need to wave, nod, or smile in solidarity when your community is so big? It's a secret handshake of sorts, meant to convey an encouraging, "I see you, getting it done! Good job, runner!" Does it now make me stand out as an obvious transplant to the area?

I've run in different places when traveling, and that includes winter runs in Cleveland, Vancouver, and yes, Seattle. Still, it's a totally different experience when it becomes part of daily life. Three months into our move, I'm beginning to feel more settled, but I'm also still learning to adjust.

Right now, I'm mostly grateful for cool running weather. I'm sure by the time spring rolls around, I'll be desperate for some warm summer runs. For the time being, though, I'm going to continue enjoying autumn and learning how to conquer hills. It's all part of the adventure!