Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goals & Resolutions for 2012

I'm pretty excited about 2012. I have a feeling it's going to be a great year! I really love writing down my goals because I'm excited about the chance to cross them off and prove to myself that I can accomplish big things. I've tried my best to make these SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely), and I will be making a new tab on the blog just for my 2012 goals so that I can track my progress throughout the year.  I will try to remember to take another look at my goals in July and make adjustments as necessary, whether it's raising the bar or lowering it.

For running and cycling, I have "A" and "B" goals. My "A" goal is slightly out of my reach, but not impossible with enough determination and dedication.  However, I also know that life happens.  I am coming off of an injury so I don't want to push myself too hard and injure myself again.  Which is why I have my "B" goal, and I will be more than happy if I meet my "B" goals instead of my "A" goals.  It's also important to look at them together; if I was just running or just cycling, my "A" goals would be more attainable.  However, when I'm doing them both at the same time my "B" goals are more likely attainable.

Running Goals
  • "A" goal: 1,000 miles
  • "B" goal: 800 miles
  • Buy some trail shoes and start trail running...and convince Andrew he needs to do this with me because I won't be doing it by myself.  Yeah, I'm not big on running around in the deserted woods alone!
  • Run in more races.  Last year I participated in a whopping TWO races.  I was marathon training for most of the time, so at least that is understandable.  I'm pretty sure I can handle doing more than two races this year!  
  • Run in at least 4 half marathons. Right now I'm thinking of these races (these specific races are not necessarily part of this goal): Martinsville 1/2 Marathon (March 24, 2012), Blue Ridge 1/2 Marathon (April 21, 2011), Trail Nut 1/2 Marathon (if I am trail running by then...May 5, 2012), Star City 1/2 Marathon (November 2012).  All of these are close to where I live in order to keep costs lower.  I may consider traveling for a few races, but I will make plans closer to race time if I do.
  • My current 1/2 marathon PR is 2:14.  I'd like to get this down to 2:05.

Cycling Goals
  • "A" goal: 2,000 miles
  • "B" goal: 1,500 miles
  • Start wearing big girl cycling shoes and using clip-in pedals.  Right now I wear my running shoes and pedals with straps.  As some Jamaican dude told me, I need to become one with the bike.  If you're not familiar with cycling, this type of shoe and pedal attaches you to the bike, so your legs aren't free to come off if they want (until you maneuver your foot in such a way as to "clip out").  Some people everyone falls down at first when they forget to clip out of their shoes when they come to a stop because you are attached to your bike and you can't put your foot down.  I am, without a doubt, going to fall.
  • Do at least one cycling event.  This will be a first for me! I have my eye on Storming of Thunder Ridge (35 miles on May 20, 2012) and/or the National Capital Tour de Cure (50 miles on June 3, 2012).

Other Fitness Goals:
  • Lift weights for a minimum of 1.5 hours per week (preferably two 45 minute sessions).
  • Do yoga once a week (I have a feeling this isn't going to happen...just sayin'). 
  • Keep stretching and foam rolling.
  • GET TONED! There are parts of my body (thighs and stomach) that wiggle more than I'd like for them to.  Let me emphasize that I don't think I am fat and I am already pretty muscular, however this is always room for improvement!
  • Remember to have fun! 

Nutritional & Weight Goals
  • Eat like an athlete should eat
    • Just because I exercise regularly does not mean I should eat ice cream every night!  I am going to try to cut this back to one night a week.  WHAT?!
    • Eat more veggies.  I pretty much only eat them at dinner time right now.
    • Eat less sugar.  I'm not so much concerned about sugar in fruit, but there are other things that I could cut out to reduce my sugar intake (like my Greek yogurt with 15-20 grams of sugar - eek!).
    • Eat smaller portions.  I should not be putting the same amount of food on my plate that I put on Andrew's plate.  
    • With that said, I still need to make sure I am eating enough when I need to. I don't function when I'm not properly fueled.
  • Goal weight: 124 - 126 (I am 5'2")
    • To give you an idea, my current weight is 128.5 - 130, depending on the day. In 2009 I was closer to 145, so I have definitely come a long way! My lowest weight was 127 in November of 2010, so my weight has been pretty stable for a year now.
    • This doesn't seem like a huge goal, but anyone who has lost weight knows that those last few pounds are often the hardest!  
    • Let me emphasize again that I don't think I'm fat, I just think I could be leaner and thus more efficient at running, cycling, etc.
    • If I meet my "GET TONED!" goal above and not this one, I will be happy.  We all know that muscle weighs more than fat.

Other Goals & Resolutions
  • Manage my time better.  My life is BUSY during the week, but I know that I could waste less time with certain things.  
  • Keep my house cleaner (I've already made a "cleaning schedule" so that everything doesn't have to wait for Saturday/Sunday). 
  • Get 8 hours of sleep.  Right now I get between 7 and 7 1/2 hours.  This means I need to go to bed at 9 PM, which is really hard for me.
  • Finish saving money for our emergency fund (6ish months of expenses). 
  • Start saving money for a down payment for a house. 
  • Spend more time doing fun things with Andrew.  We are fairly good about this, but sometimes I need a reminder to not get so caught up in my own life that we don't do anything fun together! 
  • Anonymously pay for a stranger's dinner at a restaurant.
  • Work hard. Play hard. 
  • Be able to look back on 2012 and say that it was a GREAT year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 2011 in Review

2011 was a pretty good year, but I'm looking forward to making 2012 even better. Before I talk about my goals in 2012, I wanted to take a look back at the happenings of 2011...

In January, I started training for my second half marathon.

From January to February, I had to spend 4 weeks away from home for training for my new job. It sucked and it was like being in prison. Okay not really, but I hated it.

In February, Andrew and I finished paying off $43,000 in student loans and car payments (mostly student loans). We had been working on this since April of 2009. It felt so great to be debt free!

In March, I was still training for my second half marathon. I started this blog! My husband bought his road bike and started biking a lot.

In April, I ran my second half marathon.

Also in April, we took our first week long trip alone since our honeymoon.

In May, I turned 24. I ran my first 10K.

In June, we went to the beach with my parents.

I made the mistake of running 4 miles barefoot on the beach.

I bought my first ever road bike.

In July, I began training for my first marathon. Andrew and I celebrated our third anniversary.

From August through October, I did a lot of running in preparation for my marathon. My biggest accomplishment was running both of my 20 milers (the first one was better than the second time!)

In September, Andrew rode in his first half century ride.

In October, I hurt my back and couldn’t run anymore.

In November, I didn’t run my first marathon. I watched my running partner run her first marathon!

I went to the chiropractor. A LOT.

I rode my bike a lot instead.

In December, my husband turned 27. My back started to feel better and I began running again.

Total Running Miles in 2011: 884

Total Cycling Miles in 2011: 786

Looking back, I had a pretty good year. But I'm looking forward to making 2012 even more epic! I'll be posting my goals for 2012 soon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I know I'm a few days early, but I wanted to share our Christmas card for this year and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

And don't forget what Christmas is all about...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Walter the Farting Dog

I like to try to stay on the topics of running, cycling, fitness, cooking, health, and inspiration on this blog, mostly because I don't want this blog to become my platform for aimlessly rambling about my life. However, today's post is quite the exception. It has nothing to do with running (although sometimes we have to fart when we're running...maybe it is related after all!), and I will warn you to stop reading NOW if you're not a fan of bodily function humor. It was too funny (to me, anyways) not to share, and I don't think it's necessarily appropriate for my family blog that gets automatically e-mailed to my grandma when I hit "publish". So, here we go.

Andrew and I were in Barnes & Noble yesterday getting a few books for my nephew for Christmas when I came across this book:

Walter the Farting Dog, by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray.

I was immediately intrigued, so I began reading. I snapped a few pictures of some of the best pages. The book starts out with a family who gets a dog from the pound. Nobody wanted him but they took him in. He smelled, so they gave him a bath.

"Mother walked in and said, 'He still smells awful.' And that's when they got the first clue. The tell-tale bubbles in the water. 'He's probably just a little nervous,' said Mother, hopefully. 'His stomach must be upset.' But Walter's stomach wasn't upset. Walter's stomach was fine. He felt perfectly normal. He just farted a lot."

So the family took him to the vet, who clearly defines "Farting" as "rectal flatulence"...I think the next time I have gas I think I'm going to say, "Sorry, just a little rectal flatulence..." Also, I really LOVE how the artist illustrated the farting gasses in all of the pictures. Look closely, it's not the glare! It's a fart. That you can see. Amazing.

Poor Walter got farts blamed on him all the time. Sad, right?

"'He has to go back to the pound,' said Father. 'No, Daddy, please,' begged Betty and Billy. 'Don't send Walter away.' 'He goes tomorrow,' said Father. They pleaded. Walter Farted. It was all over. That night, Betty and Billy cried in their beds, and Walter looked at them unhappily. 'Oh Walter,' said Betty, 'you've got to stop farting.' 'Because Father is going to send you back to the pound tomorrow,' said Billy."

So Walter knew that he didn't want to go back to the pound so he decided that he would hold in all of his farts (as runners we know that is never a good idea...). Walter got pretty uncomfortable and he felt like he was going to explode (been there...). Then that night some burglars came into his family's house and started stealing their valuables...

"That's when Walter let it fly. It was the worst fart of his life. It made a tremendous noise and shot him across the room. A hideous cloud filled the air. The burglars clutched their throats, unable to breathe. With tears in their eyes, they raced for the window. They tried to grab their bag with all the valuables in it, but their arms were too weak. 'Let''"

Yay! Walter saved the day with his massive fart!! SPOILER ALERT! As you can imagine, the family was forever grateful for Walter's farts so they didn't take him back to the pound after all. Walter and his family (and Walter's stinky farts) lived happily ever after. The end.

I'll make this post somewhat related to running...
When you're on the run, do you hold your farts or let 'em fly? (Oh come on, don't pretend like you never have to fart on the run!)
If I'm running with someone I hold them. If I'm by myself I check behind me and let loose! I know, how considerate of me, right?

Check out the other books in the Walter the Farting Dog Series (oh yes, there is a whole series!):
Walter the Farting Dog: Banned from the Beach
Walter the Farting Dog Goes on a Cruise
Rough Weather Ahead for Walter the Farting Dog
Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale
Walter the Farting Dog Farts Again
Walter the Farting Dog and the Windy Day

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Slow (but SURE!) Return to Running

It occurred to me today that I’ve been bad about keeping all of my readers updated on how my return to running is going. I mean, this blog is supposed to be about being active, right? Unless you follow me on Daily Mile (if we're not friends, you can find me here), I've left you in the dark and I'm sorry! I’m sure that you’ve all been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about it and thinking about it has probably kept you up at night. Okay, maybe not.

I’ve been quiet about it mostly so that I don’t jinx myself. I’m afraid that I’ll say "things are going great, I don’t have any pain, and I feel like I could run forever!" and then I’ll push myself a little too hard and end up right where I started. Silly, huh?

I would say that my return to running has been going okay. Not great, but not terrible. I have been running about twice a week and going for 2 to 3 miles each time. I don’t run the whole way through and I take walking breaks every ½ to 1 mile. And when I am running, it’s slow. I can tell when I have pushed myself a little too hard because I’ll be in a little pain afterwards or the next morning, which is a little discouraging.

This is what my slow return to running has looked like:

Monday, 12/5/11 – This was my first attempt at running since hurting my back. I ran a whole mile in ¼ mile increments, separated by ½ mile of walking. It felt SO weird to be running and it didn’t really feel "right". Total (walk + run): 3.5 miles in 55 minutes.

Friday, 12/9/11 – I felt pretty amazing on this run. The chiropractor had applied some kinesiotherapy tape on my back/butt and I could really feel it helping. I ran a total of 2 miles (in ½ mile increments, I think…didn’t write that part down) and walked 1.25 miles (in ¼ mile increments?). Total (walk + run): 3.25 miles in 43 minutes.

Sunday, 12/11/11 – Another good run. I ran a total of 1.25 miles (in ½ and ¾ mile increments) and walked a total of .75 miles (in ¼ mile increments). Total (walk + run): 2 miles in 26 minutes.

Tuesday, 12/13/11 – Ran a total of 2.5 miles in ½ mile increments. Walked 1.5 miles in ¼ mile increments in between. My back didn’t really feel quite as good on this run as on the previous runs, so it was a little discouraging. Total (walk + run): 4 miles in 53 minutes

Thursday, 12/15/11 – It was really nice outside so I headed to the park to run. I ran a total of 3 miles in 1 mile increments (yay for whole miles!) with a little bit of walking in between miles. I felt pretty good during the run, but I could definitely feel a little tightness in my back and in my right hip. I stopped to stretch a few times. Since this was my longest run post-injury, my back was not surprisingly hurting more the next day, so I was a little bummed about this. I probably pushed my speed a little too much and running outside might have made it a little harder on my body (all of my other runs were on the treadmill). Total (walk + run): 3.64 miles in 42 minutes.

Tuesday, 12/20/11 – My back felt better after taking it easy over the weekend and my chiropractic appointment on Monday, so I ran on the treadmill. I ran a total of 2 miles in 1 mile increments and walked .75 miles in ½ mile increments. I was going to push it to 3 miles, but after 2 miles I felt like my form was getting sloppy, so I stopped (yay for being responsible!). I'm glad I did because I feel fine today and that makes me happy! Total (walk + run): 2.75 miles in 35 minutes.

I am very grateful that I have been able to run this much, and I am only discouraged with how slow recovering from an injury can seem. Anyone who has been there knows what I'm talking about! My chiropractor continues to encourage me to run and increase my distance (I love hearing that from a doctor!). When I tell her that I don’t feel any pain during my run but I will hurt a little afterwards or the next morning, she tells me that I won’t feel it because I love it so much. (Me? Addicted to running? Yes.) At least she understands. So that means I just need to be careful.

On days when I’m not running, I’m either riding my bike on the indoor trainer for about 45 minutes, going to the gym and lifting weights for an hour, doing a 40 minute yoga video on TV at home, or playing a little Wii Boxing (super fun, and my arms BURN after about 5-10 minutes). I still take 1 or 2 rest days each week even though I’m not doing that much, and usually this is either due to scheduling or just the fact that I still want a break!

I’m not sure what my running and exercising schedule will look like over the next week with Christmas and traveling, but I’m ready to hit it hard in 2012. I'll be thinking of my goals over the next few days...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

100 things

In celebration of getting my 100th follower the other day (Thank you, Kristin @ Goals are Dreams with Deadlines), I’m sharing 100 random things about me so that all of you can get to know me a little better. So, here we go…
  1. Green is my favorite color.
  2. I’m afraid of the dark.
  3. My bus driver in middle and high school was my mom’s sister’s husband’s brother’s ex-wife’s sister.
  4. My middle name is Elizabeth.
  5. My sister named me because she knew someone with that name and liked it.
  6. I don’t like traveling a lot.
  7. I love the beach but I don’t like when everything gets sandy.
  8. I’m afraid of getting in the ocean because I can’t see the bottom.
  9. I don’t eat seafood, except for shrimp.
  10. One time I fainted after I hit my funny bone on the freezer door (I hit my ulnar nerve just right and it caused vasovagal syncope, per Google).
  11. I don’t like olives.
  12. I have a brother who is 37.
  13. I have a sister who is 34.
  14. I’m pretty sure I was an “oops” because I’m 24.
  15. Mushrooms gross me out.
  16. I took 5 years of Latin.
  17. I lather French fries in ketchup.
  18. I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua when I was in high school.
  19. They were running after us because we were throwing candy out of the windows :)

  20. I wish I could own my own business but I don't really have any good ideas.
  21. If I could live in another state, Colorado, Texas, and Alaska seem like they would be cool, even though I have never been to any of them.
  22. I don’t think Alaska would work out because I really hate being cold.
  23. I sweat more than my husband (and most people, for that matter).
  24. I really love ice cream.
  25. I’m shy.
  26. I think mountains are beautiful.
  27. Yep, that's me. This is from when I was in college.

  28. I wish I could foster kittens.
  29. I can’t because I would probably keep all of them.
  30. Sometimes I want a dog. That feeling usually fades when I drive past someone walking their dog in the cold/rain.
  31. I believe God paints pretty sunsets and sunrises for our enjoyment.

  32. I need a lot of structure to be productive.
  33. My hair is natural but I’m pretty sure most people don’t think it is.
  34. I like to go shopping, but I would consider myself pretty frugal.
  35. I don’t think I could ever be a stay at home mom.
  36. I think the concept of breast-feeding is weird/gross.
  37. I’m afraid to go too fast on my bike when I go down hills.
  38. I’m a morning person.
  39. I would be so lost without my husband.
  40. I’m quiet.
  41. I am really bad at reading out loud.
  42. I wish I had more time to read books.
  43. When I get behind on reading my magazines I get stressed out.
  44. I should probably clean my house a lot more than I do.
  45. My grandmother gets anonymous $100 bills in the mail every month.
  46. I’ve never been to Disney World.
  47. I don’t like leather seats in cars.
  48. I work in a cubicle.
  49. I don’t floss regularly enough even though my dad is a dentist.
  50. Sometimes I forget that my iPhone is a phone.
  51. My husband proposed to me on 7-7-07 over a campfire and s’mores.
  52. I don’t like camping because I like showering and sleeping in my own bed.
  53. Sometimes I find my cat’s hair in my food and I’m okay with that.
  54. I can make three loops with my tongue.
  55. I wish I was one of those naturally funny people.
  56. I can’t keep a straight face.
  57. I can juggle.
  58. I can never find jeans that fit right.
  59. I used to be obsessed with Dave Matthews Band.
  60. I played the cello in middle and high school.
  61. I like making things but often don’t finish projects because I get distracted and forget about them.
  62. I don’t iron my clothes. I put them in the dryer for a few minutes if they are wrinkled.
  63. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry.
  64. I switched to watching a different local news channel because they (the one I used to watch) did a really negative/misleading news story on my workplace.
  65. I always want to anonymously buy someone’s dinner but I never follow through.
  66. I drink coffee every day.
  67. I would probably be more productive at work if it weren’t for my iPhone.
  68. I love getting mail and packages.
  69. I don’t like it when people think that rules don’t apply to them.
  70. I try to change recipes a lot and it usually doesn’t work out like I planned.
  71. My purse is a disaster.
  72. I don’t like talking on the phone.
  73. I’m competitive.
  74. I want to live in a log cabin.

  75. (source)
  76. I’m stubborn.
  77. I love the snow and I want to snow so badly!
  78. I like to obsessively track the weather when it might snow.
  79. I don’t like driving in the dark.
  80. I’m bad at keeping in touch with people.
  81. I have 2,836 e-mails in my personal e-mail inbox (they are not all new, I just haven’t deleted them).
  82. I love the smell of fire.
  83. I usually always clean my plate even if I’m full (unless I’m about to explode) because I hate wasting food.
  84. When I was little, I ripped out lightning bugs’ glow-butts and smeared them on my arm.
  85. French fries dipped in a frosty are delicious.

  86. (source)
  87. My husband and I honeymooned in Gatlinburg, TN.
  88. I always botch the pronunciation of Chipotle. I always want to put the L before the T.
  89. I like tracking hurricanes and watching hurricane coverage.
  90. I once told a stranger I came from K-Mart.
  91. I wish I had more time to write good blog posts.
  92. I’m short (5’2”) and I like it.
  93. I don’t think I have very good self-control when it comes to food. If it’s there, I’m going to eat it.
  94. I’m bad at remembering names until I’ve met and interacted with a person a few times.
  95. I like to fish but I make my husband get the hook out.
  96. I don’t like big cities.
  97. I like supporting local businesses but I’m not going to stop shopping at Wal-Mart or ordering things online.
  98. I don’t consume alcohol but I don’t judge people who do as long as they are responsible.
  99. I always feel like I need new clothes even though I have a closet full of them.
  100. I watch Fox News.
  101. I played on my college’s tennis team (we were Division III so we weren’t superstars or anything).
  102. I don’t remember my dreams very often.
  103. I can’t focus on anything when I’m in a crowd of people (like at a party or dinner) and there is a lot going on around me. I usually just zone out and it makes me really tired.
  104. I don’t follow or care about famous people (actors, elite athletes, etc.).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Bunch of Salad Haters!

As I strive to take steps to make my own life healthier, it becomes apparent to me that I am not the norm and being healthy is weird.

Today at work we had our team Christmas lunch at a restaurant close to our office. A few days before our lunch we had to give our orders to one person on the team and she faxed it over the day before so that it would be all ready when we got there. The restaurant is good, but the majority of their offerings are fried and covered in bacon and cheese. So I opted for what sounded like a delicious salad:

Baby Greens - Fresh field greens, sliced strawberries, sundried cranberries & candied pecans served w/ goat cheese croquettes & a Raspberry Vinaigrette.

It looked something like this but much bigger (it filled me up and I like to eat a lot):

(not really my salad. source)

Now don't get me wrong. I love a good burger and french fries. I love bacon. I love cheese. I like mayo on my sandwiches. I eat ice cream almost every night (it's churned!).

And I definitely could have ordered a burger and a side of their amazing sweet potato fries, but I knew that if I did, I would regret it immediately, feel like crap, get really sleepy when I got back to the office, and most likely not go for a run after work. Healthy body = healthy lifestyle = healthy choices.

Before we left, everybody's meal choice got sent out in an e-mail just to make sure everything was right and to remind people what they had ordered. I looked and saw that I was the only person who had ordered a salad.

As we were walking to the restaurant a friend of mine made a joking remark about how I had to be healthy and order a salad. When we got to the restaurant and got our food, I was definitely the odd one out. I know they wouldn't do it to be mean, but I felt like I was being a little judged because I ordered a salad. Yes, everyone's food looked delicious and I am in no way judging them for their food orders either (see above re: my love for french fries and ice cream). I just thought it was interesting that making a healthy choice was so abnormal.

I remember reading this post from Run Faster Mommy that talked about how some people are annoyed when they read a person's Daily Mile updates on Facebook ("Lauren ran 20 miles in 3 hours and 36 minutes and felt great!"). She made a great point that even if we seem obnoxious just for being proud of our accomplishments, hopefully it will inspire others to do the same.

No, I don't think I'll be inspiring anyone I work with to be healthier just because I ordered a salad, but I should never try to hide the fact that I'm trying to live a healthy life. If it influences others to do the same, great! If not, that's okay too, but they shouldn't try to drag me down with them.

Have you ever felt judged for trying to be healthy?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DIY Medal Hanger

Until a few days ago, my "medal hanger" consisted of my medals (all two of them!) draped on the post of the lamp by my bed. There are so many cool medal hangers out there (like these from Gone For a Run), but I had an idea to make one that nobody else had. It was a pretty easy project and it was much cheaper than a lot of the ones you can buy from stores or online...all of the supplies were well under $15 total.

A few weeks ago I headed to my local Habitat ReStore and picked up a bunch of used knobs for only 25 cents each (I bought 16 but only used 13...they cost $4.40 total with tax).

They were all unique; some are old and very worn, while others look brand new and modern. If you can't find these used, you can buy them new from places like Lowe's, however they will be more expensive ($0.75 to $2+ each).

I also purchased a 1x4 from Lowe's (for between $2 and $3) and had Andrew cut it and drill holes in it for me. This is probably the hardest part, but it took him all of about 2 minutes and he was excited because he got to play with his tools. I'm not handy like that, but I know some of you are (or at least hopefully you have a handy friend or husband!).

The other supplies I needed were some scrapbook paper ($4 maximum, if not already on hand), Mod Podge ($5, I had some already), and a spongy brush ($0.75).

I cut pieces of scrapbook paper and just kind of randomly glued it onto the wood. You could also cut out a bunch of clippings from running magazines if you wanted to make it more running specific. This is what I was going to do at first but I decided to go with the scrapbook paper instead. Another idea is to use old race bibs to cover the wood.

After I glued everything down, I trimmed the edges and applied a topcoat of glue. After it dried I screwed the knobs in. Here's the final product:

I haven't put it up yet, but you get the idea! I'm also hoping to make a bib holder like this with the leftover wood.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


As I mentioned previously, my chiropractor encouraged me to start running again. So on Monday afternoon I headed to the gym with one goal: run. There were no goals beyond that. I didn’t care if I ran 10 steps and called it quits, I just wanted to try running. My plan was to walk ½ a mile, run ¼ a mile, walk ½ a mile, run ¼ mile, etc. I wanted to run ¼ a mile 4 times for a grand total of 1 mile. That was my plan, but not necessarily a goal.

I was excited and nervous as I slowly increased my speed from walking at 3.5 mph to running jogging shuffling at 5 mph. It felt weird to be moving like that and my legs were all like, what in the world are you doing? While my back didn’t feel spectacular, it didn’t hurt more than it hurt when I was walking. My right hip felt tight as did my right piriformis muscle. It didn’t feel right but at the same time it wasn’t sending shooting pain throughout my whole body with every step like it used to.

I was able to run ¼ a mile 4 times and I was very happy that I was able to run a mile. I was hoping and praying that my back was actually better enough to handle that and crossing my fingers I wouldn’t be regretting it in the morning. Although I was happy about being able to do this, I was still a little disappointed in the way that it just didn’t feel right. Thinking about this later though, I’m sure most of this was because I haven’t run at all in 6 weeks.

On Tuesday morning I woke up and I was a little sorer than the day before, but nothing major. On Tuesday afternoon I had a chiro appointment and I told her that I had tried to run. She didn’t seem too concerned that it didn’t feel right, and she was pretty happy for me that I ran a little bit. She could tell that I was scared to start running again, but encouraged me to keep running (but you know, not try to do a marathon next week or anything). The e-stim and ultrasound felt so good on my back. She also put some more kinesio tape on my back/butt. She said that now that the SI joint has stabilized, it has moved to affecting more of the muscles around the joint than the actual joint. This is why it seemed like my pain was moving around a little bit, and this is also why it’s still really important for me to do a lot of stretching and strengthening. She changed me to only having one appointment per week, so that means she thinks I’m getting better!

Yesterday after the chiro appointment I headed to the gym to lift weights and do core work for 50 minutes. I felt pretty good the entire time. This morning (Wednesday) I woke up and my back felt GREAT! Usually my back pain is the first thing I notice when I get out of bed. My pain is always the worst in the morning, too, and it generally feels a little better throughout the day. So to wake up and hardly notice it is huge for me! I’m hoping that I’m actually getting better and I’m not just feeling better because the tape is on there (the tape has fooled me in the past!).

My plan is to ride on the indoor trainer this afternoon and maybe attempt running some more on Thursday. I don’t think I’ll be starting any marathon training anytime soon, but at least I see myself running in the near future. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Motivation: Courage, Part 3

I saw this quote on the Running Chics Facebook Page and loved it. It can be tough to keep going when things aren't going our way. But if we never risk failing, we'll never know if we can succeed.

Part 1
Part 2

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In My Dreams

Yesterday Clarinda wrote a post about a strange dream she had that included a few other bloggers. I just happened to show up even though we have never met in real life. Some people might think that's weird but if you read peoples' blogs regularly enough you really feel like you begin to know them as if they were a FiRL (Friend in Real Life). Other bloggers will know what I'm talking about. Strange but not creepy.

Aren't our dreams a little weird sometimes? You can dream about something that never even happened but it can feel so real. You can dream about things that happen over and over and over in your life. You can dream about things you're afraid of or dreading. You can dream about things you really really want to happen. Sometimes I think you can even dream about something that is going to happen.

Last night I had a dream that I was running. And it didn't hurt. I've actually had this dream a few times. I'm not always running, but in my dreams I'm always moving around without my back hurting. And it's awesome.

My back is feeling better and better as time goes on. Some days it hurts more than it did the day before, but overall I know am getting better! On Thursday my chiropractor asked me if I had run yet and I said no. She actually suggested that I slowly and gradually try to start running again since my back is starting to feel better. She recommended running 1/4 mile, walking 1/2 mile, running 1/4 mile, etc. And of course I need to stop immediately if it starts to hurt (no I'll just run through it attitudes are allowed!).

This makes me nervous. What if it starts to hurt? What if I don't feel it and I totally screw up my back again? I know that only I know when I'm ready to run so I don't technically have to listen to my doctor (and if I don't feel like I'm ready then I won't do it!). But if I want to run again one day I am going to have to, well, start running. Sometimes those first steps can be the hardest and the scariest because you don't know how things are going to turn out. So yes, I'm nervous about running 1/4 mile, but it's time to put my big girl pants on and do it. So here's to hoping that my dreams will come true.

P.S. Please give me feedback on the background on my blog. Love it? Hate it? Too crazy? Thanks!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Perseverance + Desktop Backgrounds

So I have discovered that I really enjoy making these inspirational pictures with quotes, definitions, sayings, etc. I created a new tab on my page just for these images so that you can see them whenever you want! They would make a great desktop background for your computer. The one above is made for a widescreen monitor but I will make some for standard monitors as well. For best results, click on the image to view it larger before you try to save it. If you re-post them on your site, please be kind enough to mention me (and please don't crop out my website name or I will have to put a huge ugly watermark on all of them).

If you have a favorite quote or saying that you would like to see made into an image like this, let me know and I'll make it just for you!

Never ever EVER give up

I was very inspired by this article that I read the other day about Monique van der Vorst, who became paralyzed in one leg at the age of 13 after a routine ankle operation caused nerve damage. She had just taken up cycling prior to the operation.

She was confined to a wheelchair for 13 years, during which time she took up hand cycling and competed on national and international levels. She won six European and three world championship titles. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

Tragically (or though it may have seemed), she was hit by a car in 2008. The accident caused damage to her spinal cord and she was completely paralyzed from the waist down. Later that same year, she won two silver medals at the Beijing Paralympic Games.

In 2010, while training for the 2012 paralympics and when she considered herself to be in the ‘best shape ever’, she was involved in yet another accident (which again, probably seemed really tragic at the time). What happened here is amazing. “Her body went into spasm and she started to feel tingling on first one foot and then the other. By the end of the year, she was walking again.” Wow.

“She has now swapped her hand bike for a regular model and has started racing competitively. Earlier this week, she was signed by the Dutch Rabobank’s women’s cycling team, where she will train with some of the world’s best…Mr. Eisenga [Rabobank’s press officer] said, ‘When we met Monique, we saw an athlete with incredible willpower and the right mentality for sport.’…Asked if she might make it to the Olympics, he said: ‘In sport, everything is possible.’”

While it is truly miraculous that through a series of tragic incidents van der Vorst regained her ability to walk, what inspired me the most was her drive and determination when she was paralyzed. She never gave up. When she was faced with challenges it only made her push herself to a new level of excellence.

I can’t help but try to apply this story to my situation. While I am far from being paralyzed, I’m faced with an injury that has kept me from running. My back is feeling much better than it did 5 weeks ago when I first hurt it, but it’s still there and I know I’m not ready to run yet. I have been cycling, lifting weights, doing yoga, and walking.

Part of me has enjoyed this break from running because I’ve been able to do different things, but I have also really missed being able to just go for a run. I really do think (and hope and pray) that I will return to running soon, and I really do want to be able to run at least one marathon in my life. But I have also considered that maybe my body just can’t handle the stress of running a marathon without breaking. And you know what? That’s okay.

Yes, I am going to try again. I am going to try my hardest to never give up. But if I find that running a marathon is not what I’m supposed to do, I am going to be the best at whatever it is I AM supposed to do. I want to run more (and faster) half marathons, 10Ks, and 5Ks. I want to start running on trails. I want to be a better cyclist and not be so afraid to let go of the brakes when I’m going downhill. Regardless of what I’m doing, I want to make fitness a priority for the rest of my life.

I’ve always felt like every true runner has to run a marathon at least once. But then I’m reminded of this quote by John Bingham, which says, “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” So true.

Please don’t read this as me giving up on myself and saying that I’m never going to run a marathon. While I can’t guarantee that I will run a marathon, I can guarantee is that I will try. And if I fail at that, I’m going to try to succeed at something else.

We can all learn from Monique van der Vorst. Whatever you're doing, always give it your best and try your hardest. And no matter what your circumstances, never ever EVER give up.