Weekend: Last Friday night, I headed up to Pittsburgh with my Dad and boyfriend. My boyfriend had gotten us tickets to a UNC game for Christmas (my dad and I are HUGE UNC fans) and offered to drive us up. It was a great weekend, and other than the walking I did around Pittsburgh, I did no such exercise!
Monday: Missed my Monday group run, so it was a 5.7 mile run on the dreadmill for me.
Tuesday: Not a planned rest day. (See weekly low, below.)
Wednesday: Due to the predicted crazy thunderstorms, I was once again relegated to the treadmill for a 10k. Turns out, barely even rained. So annoying when they hype up a storm. Also, dangerous, because when a real storm comes, people won’t believe it and won’t be prepared!
Thursday: Back to the hardcore spin class. Pretty difficult, but such a great workout.
Friday: Planned rest day.
Weekly High: Seeing UNC win, in person!!!
Weekly Low: I took a pretty bad spill at work on Monday. All of my weight landed on my left hand and injured my wrist/hand/finger. Other than the bad scrapes, I felt okay but because there was so much bruising, work sent me to get checked out. Spent most of Tuesday at the medical center getting x-rays and such. Tore up my skin pretty bad, a few bruised bones and a sprain. Thankfully, nothing is broken, but I am still all wrapped up for the time being due to the deep scrapes and sprain. No swimming for about a week and it was definitely a little harder to spin, but I am still making it happen! No excuses!
Three things I am grateful for this week:
- Getting to take a road trip with my dad!
- No break after my fall!
- The weekend- it’s been a long week!
Quote of the week:
Twice I had to run on the treadmill. My hand is wrapped in a bandage. I had to modify for spin. Not allowed to swim or lift. But I found a way and had a good week of workouts!
Saturday: Planned rest day but I definitely got in a work out. We are getting a new Middle School and it was moving day. Tons of steps…lots of lifting!
Sunday: Sea Isle 5k. Read race report here.
Monday: A day off means extra time to spend at the gym. Did a 2 mile recovery run, got in a good lifting session and did a little solo spin bike.
Tuesday: Planned rest day.
Wednesday: Weekly Cooper River Run. Much nicer out than last week! Between my own run and then going back to run in with friends, I clocked over 5 miles.
Thursday: Legit the most hardcore spin class I have ever taken. Looking forward to the next one!
Friday: It was 70 degrees!!! I had off due to a funeral, so I was able to get in 5 miles before it got too hot. Awesome to be in a tank top in February!
Weekly High: 60-70 degrees ALL week was AMAZING!
Weekly Low: Saying goodbye to my cousin.
Three things I am grateful for this week:
- Definitely sunshine and vitamin D!
- Mondays off!
- Getting back into the routine of blogging- keeping me accountable!
Quote of the week:
I’ve been back consistent at the gym now for 8 weeks and I am finally starting to like what I see. That is my motivation each day to keep it up!
There was a time when I thought I would never find anything I could wear comfortably around my waist while I run. This makes running more difficult than you might think, as I have to find a place for my keys, hold my phone and most annoying, plan every route around where I will be able to find water. I used to wear a spi-belt, which I loved; it held everything perfectly and hardly moved. But, it wasn’t ideal because it didn’t solve the water problem. (And, eventually my phone outgrew it.) When I trained for the marathon, I actually did my 20 mile run on a 5 mile loop, so that I could stop at my car for water/fuel. Ridiculous, right?!?
When I started running again, I made it my mission to find a hydration belt I could live with. I went through five. I even went back and tried ones I had tried before. I. Hated. Every. One. I absolutely cannot run with something bouncing around on my waist and not one of them would stay put. I would read amazing reviews just to find out they did not work for me. It was frustrating to say the least and I spent the summer running the same routes with the same planned water stops (thank GOD for CVS!). This had to stop! I knew the search for the perfect belt was in full force. I could not begin to train again for any distance until I found something that would alleviate this issue.
I determined pretty quickly that a handheld anything would be out of the question. I already hated holding my phone, so I knew I wouldn’t want to hold water. However, at the insistence of a few running friends, I tried. It was a clear cut no from me.
Sometime in late fall I saw an ad on Facebook for Flipbelt*. Flip belt comes in three styles- zipper, classic and water. That’s right…a belt that comes with water bottles AND holds a phone, ID and a key. It looked too good to be true but I could not find one negative review. I posted on my local running page and turns out, a few of my fellow runners had also recently discovered them and loved them.
A few weeks after first seeing the ad, I saw they were running a sale. I was not going to pass this up. I emailed the link to my mom with the subject line “Christmas Gift” and crossed my fingers that this would be the belt to end the belt search!
I am happy to report that the Flipbelt has been the BEST belt I have ever used. I love it! I haven’t had to use it with all three water bottles yet, but so far with my phone, key, ID and up to two of the bottles, it works awesome. I hardly even know it is there- everything fits perfectly and it really does not move at all. It took almost zero getting used to. At first, I was aware of the bottle on my waist, but after a few minutes of running it settled in. I am still working on getting items in and out while keeping a pace because it can be difficult to slide them while moving, but that is a (very) small criticism, especially because the entire point is for everything to stay put!
The flipbelt is fast becoming my favorite piece of running gear. I love being hands free while running and having water with me. (And being hands free at the gym since I don’t need to carry my phone around.) I am most looking forward to what a relief it will be come summer to be able to run routes without having to be concerned about hydration.
*Disclaimer- I received this as a gift from my parents for Christmas. I am not being compensated in any way for my review.
On Sunday, I headed down to Sea Isle to check off February in my quest to race at least one race every month! This race almost didn’t happen for multiple reasons and stands as proof that accountability works. For one, I only had one weekend in February open to choose a race. That left me with basically one choice; a February race down the shore, that was 17 degrees last year. Not my idea of a good time. Secondly, I didn’t really know anyone else racing, and those I did know, ended up backing out. I didn’t so much mind going alone, but the idea of driving over an hour each way for a 5k, gave me pause. Had I not had the goal of racing once a month, it may have been enough reason for me to bag this race. However, I am committed to my goal and the weather prediction was beautiful, so downtheshore I went!
Pre-Race: I had no idea what to expect, except that I knew it would be crowded; so I headed down early to make sure I could get parking and grab my bib before the race started. I was lucky to find parking pretty close, grabbed my bib, walked around a little a got some pictures and hung out in my car drinking coffee until it was time go head to the start.
Race: Logistically, this race was a nightmare. It was a mass start- completely chaotic- super frustrating. It was a run/walk and SO MANY WALKERS started at the front. I spent the first half mile dodging walkers, small children, strollers and dogs. Plus, it was so crowded! Once it spread out a little, it was much easier to run and the course was completely flat, so I was able to get some real speed going. But it was HOT- like 65 degrees in February HOT- and there was ZERO water on the course. I have never, in all my life, run a race with no water. That was not a good time. By the last half mile I was really feeling parched and hot and over it. I knew I was running pretty well though, and had a feeling I would come in before my goal time of 33 minutes, so I gunned it to the finish line and hit the mat at 31:24! I was initially frustrated, because I do think there is a solid chance I could have run under 30 minutes, which would have been amazing, but given the circumstances (variables I couldn’t control) I ran the best race I could have run.
Post-Race: I hung out for a little bit because they had a fantastic array of post race snacks. As I headed to sit down alone, I saw an RD I used to lifeguard for and his wife (both also in my running club) so I hung out with them for a little while. The post-race was fun- they had a bunch of Disney Prinecesses, Minions, and Mummers playing lots of music! Overall, it was a really great day for a great cause!
Next Up: Adrenaline 5k
Saturday: Met up with a bunch of runners for a 4.5 mile group run. Was supposed to be 5, but my friend and I missed a turn. Ooops! I really pushed it on this run, and definitely felt it in my legs the rest of the day!
Sunday: Swam 1000 meters. Was feeling pretty exhausted, but wanted to get something in. Took it easy on my legs and made good use of the pull buoy.
Monday: 856 group run. We have two a month and I really look forward to them. It’s a simple 3 mile out and back, but always a good time with friends, even when it is super cold!
Tuesday: Swam 1800 meters. Did a mix up of kick board and buoy with freestyle sprints.
Wednesday: Weekly Cooper River Run. It’s a 3.5 mile loop, but I always get a little extra because we don’t let anyone finish alone! This was the windiest and coldest 4.5 miles of my life!
Thursday: Swam 1400 meters…and then…spinning! Back in the saddle on that one!
Friday: Planned Rest Day
Weekly High: Pushing through the Wed night run. I wanted to turn around and stop countless times.
Weekly Low: My cousin suddenly passed away this week. It’s been a crushing couple of days.
Three things I am grateful for this week:
- The Cooper Run my friend Meghan and I started. I love this run- I wish runs like this had been around when I was starting out. We never let anyone finish alone. It’s a great concept and we are gaining in numbers!
- Having exercise as a form of therapy. I have had a pretty stressful month and with the emotions of this week tied in, I felt really overwhelmed. I am thankful to have exercise back in my life, because it really does help me cope.
- It is now light out on my way to work! Soon it will be light out when I leave. Spring is on the way!!!!
Quote of the week:
There are days when I am happy to spend a few hour
Saturday: Five miles on the treadmill. Ran inside so that I could wear my new tank top!
Sunday: Planned rest day.
Monday: Ran 2 miles. Really wanted to run outside, but I needed to get in a lift session so I took it to the gym.
Tuesday: Swam 2400 meters- mixed it up with kick board, buoy, sprints and strokes.
Wednesday: Planned rest day.
Thursday: We had a snow day, so I was able to get in a lifting session, a short 3 mile run and a quick 1200 swim!
Friday: Cross-Training- Middle School ski trip 🙂
Weekly High: Snow day meant getting extra sleep, extra gym time and a day off work 🙂
Weekly Low: My shin splints flared a little this week and I could feel it in my whole posterior. I am taping my arches and resting/icing when necessary. Really hoping it just needs some TLC because I cannot deal with an injury.
Three things I am grateful for this week:
- Snow day (even if I hate snow!)
- 2400 meters is my longest swim since getting back in the water.
- No injuries on the ski trip!!!
Quote of the week:
It’s all about semantics sometimes! There are definitely days I don’t want to work out- too tired, too cold or too busy- but I have started trying to find different ways to look at it. Or, as I recently heard someone say, “Find a different way to shoot the jumper.”
There are so many worthy charities and ways to get involved in the community. One of my priorities with this blog is to highlight those opportunities.
Founded in 2007, by Ann Mahlum, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization began in Philadelphia. Currently operating in 12 major cities, BomF uses running and community to motivate and support homeless individuals and encourage their independence. My favorite thing about Back On My Feet (BomF) is that it ties together community and running.
The mission and vision of Back On My Feet, as stated on their website:
Back on My Feet seeks to revolutionize the way our society approaches homelessness. Our unique running-based model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead and move toward jobs, homes and new lives. For all in need, we aim to provide: practical training and employment resources for achieving independence; an environment that promotes accountability; and a community that offers compassion and hope. For all with the capacity to serve—volunteers, donors, community and corporate partners—we seek to engage you in the profound experience of empowering individuals to achieve what once seemed impossible through the seemingly simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.
In 2010, I decided to raise money for BomF through my training for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon
. I had hoped to be able to volunteer with them on morning runs, but the runs conflicted (and still conflict) with my work schedule. Instead, I decided to FundRace. FundRacing is when you raise a specific amount of money in order to gain entry into a race. (Some FundRacing gets you into already closed out races, like London Marathon.) It kept me accountable and motivated; in the end, I was able to help an organization that deals with combating an issue I am passionate about in a city I love. I ended up having an amazing race that day, garnering a half-marathon PR that still stands. If you want to read my race report from that day, click here. (Oddly, I didn’t write anything about BomF in my whole report. Only just realized that upon re-reading.)
Here’s how the program works:
Back on My Feet recruits members at homeless and residential facilities around the country and begins with a commitment to run three days a week in the early morning. After 30 days in the program, members with 90% attendance earn the opportunity to move into the second phase of the program called Next Steps, which provides educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals and housing resources. Over 80% of individuals who start our program move into the Next Steps phase.
In Next Steps, members work with BoMF program staff to develop a personal road map to independence. Each member attends financial literacy classes and job skills training provided through partnerships with our corporate partners. Members can earn financial assistance to remove barriers to employment and housing such as work supplies, transportation and security deposits. Members who achieve employment and housing become Alumni Members. Within six months of becoming a Back on My Feet Alumnus, 90% of members maintain their employment, 60% receive a wage increase and 20% achieve a promotion.
I may never live to see the day when we can put an end to homelessness, but I am confident that with programs like BomF, we can restore the hopes of many on the streets. Running offers powerful lessons for life. Running teaches us about setting and meeting goals, tenacity in getting to those goals and the amazing feeling of reaping the rewards of hard work when you reach the goal. Running encourages self-confidence and price in oneself, no matter what your background. Running inspires, motivated and encourages, no matter what your social status. As the saying goes, “If you run, you are a runner.” – John Bingham (And Jillian)
If you are interested in volunteering, FundRacing, or simply learning about more about BomF, their comprehensive website has all of the information, including links to each chapter. In addition to Philadelphia where BomF is headquartered, you can find chapters in the following cities: Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD , Boston, MA, Chicago, IL , Dallas, TXIndianapolis, IN, Los Angeles, CA, New York City, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Washington, DC and as of late 2016, San Francisco, CA.
Have you ever run for a charity? What was your basis for choosing the charity?
Saturday: Planned rest day.
Sunday: 2 mile Chili Run- first race of the year and I KILLED IT! See race recap here.
Monday: Planned rest day. Thankfully, because I was exhausted. Went to bed at 8pm!
Tuesday: Swam 1800 meters. The first 1000 pretty much sucked; I could not get into a rhythm and on my first timed 400, I forgot to start my watch. I kinda wanted to throw in the towel, but I stuck it out. I was pretty happy with my timed 400’s, especially since I felt off for the most part.
Wednesday: 4 mile group Run with my 856 tribe! This run is becoming a weekly litmus test and I like it! I have been running with my friend Amanda and we really push each other. The loop is a little under 4 miles, but I run a little extra to get to the 4 total.
Thursday: Swam 2000 meters. Did a fun workout of timed 400’s, 200’s, 100’s and 50’s.
Friday: Planned rest day. Chaperoned the dance…that is a whole different kind of workout, trust me!
Weekly High: Definitely the Chili Run. Feeling very confident after that race!
Weekly Low: Pure exhaustion. Really had to push through to get to Friday night!
Three things I am grateful for this week:
- Happy Hour!
- Accountability of this blog- I might have bagged my swim mid-way but then I would have to admit it!
- Weekends! It’s been a long week!
Quote of the week:
Discipline is really what it is all about; it is not easy, but it has to get done. Really proud of myself in the month of January and it’s giving me the push to get off to a good start in February!
What was the best part of your week?
One of my goals for 2017 was to do at least one race per month. My hashtag for the year is #nooffseason, and I know from past experiences that if I have a race to work towards, I am much more likely to keep up my training. I checked off the month of January with the Chili Run. The Chili Run is a local run, the race director is part of my 856 running team and we had a great showing at the event. It is a 2 mile run, all hills, that of course ends with a bowl of chili!
Pre-Race: The race started at 10am but I got there bright and early since I was doing race day bib pick up. This race was pretty pricey but I did get a chili crock and a pint glass (plus chili and beer at the end) which is some of best race swag I’ve ever received.
Race: It was a COLD start but I took off and felt great right from the go. As I hit the turn around at mile 1, I realized I was about 40 seconds ahead of my anticipated pace. I was shocked! My training has been so consistent and I have been feeling great, but I don’t get a lot of hill work, so I really wasn’t expecting to do so well. I had told myself not to go out to fast and when I saw my time, I was a little concerned, but I actually felt like I still had a lot left in the tank; since it was only another mile, I thought to myself “push, push push” and just hauled to the finish. As I approached the finish line, I could see the clock. I saw that the time was 19:51 and was hell bent on crossing before 20! Came through at 19:57!
Post-Race: I was pretty ecstatic in the moments after I crossed the finish line. I thought for sure my time would be closer to 21-22 minutes. To come in under 20 minutes for my first race of the season has given me the confidence I need to keep pushing myself. Coming back from injury has been frustrating at times, and this really reminded me that I am doing the right thing by being patient and trusting the process of my recovery.
Finish line pic, and perhaps one of my best race photos of all time!
Post-Post Race: This was one of those races that has an after party (big motivation for me to sign up!) so afterwards we stayed for some chili and beer. A ton of people in my group won overall and age group awards and we won for largest team. It was an overall great day and an awesome way to start the 2017 racing season!
Next up: Sea Isle 5k in February
Although I haven’t raced a full triathlon in almost 5 years, I have kept up with the sport by participating as a relay swimmer. Swimming has always been my best of the three disciplines, and is definitely my favorite. I actually stopped swimming for over two years because my new gym didn’t have a pool; I noticed the negative affect it was having on me, so I rejoined my old gym and got back in the pool this year. It has been awesome!
When it comes to running, and much more so biking, I am the one usually asking advice. When it comes to swimming, people generally ask me. Now that we are coming into tri season, a few of my friends have reached out with basic swimming questions. I figured it made for a good time to do a Swimming 101 post 🙂
- Know how to swim!- This may seem obvious but having both volunteered at and participated in triathlon, I see all too often that not everyone who is in the water actually knows how to swim. At one event where I was life-guarding, I had to get to a guy quickly as I could see him struggling to find footing. As he grabbed my kayak, he said to me, “Wow, I didn’t realize swimming was so hard.” He then admitted he had not swam outside of a shallow end before. Ever. Ranking safety among everything else you must know that if you cannot swim, and you enter water, you could drown. Many summers ago, I wrote a whole post on this, which you can read here.
- Practice open water swims- Very likely, your swim training will mostly consist of pool work. This is perfectly acceptable but not for sole water training, unless you are planning on only indoor triathlons. Otherwise, plan to spend time in the open water. Open water consists of a lake, a bay or an ocean. In a pool, you have the luxuries of pushing off, using the lane lines for sight and being able to stand if tired. Those luxuries are gone in the open water. The open water is dark (no sight lines) and far more rough than a pool, especially in the ocean where you have to contend with waves and currents. Additionally, in a race situation there are people all around you and you have to fight through paddling arms and kicking legs. (Not to mention, all the livings things that call open water their home!) Try to find community OWS so that you get a real feel for race day. And please, never swim in open water alone.
- Invest in good goggles- Good goggles are a must have! And you don’t have to spend a lot of money for a quality pair as goggles are relatively on the cheap side. Considering what you will put out for a bike, goggles are a drop in the bucket! Each person is different so there is no one pair that fits all; the most important things are comfort and visibility. My favorites are by Aquaphere; I have both the Kaiman’s and Kayenne’s. They are both comfortable, but I tend to use my Kayenne’s more often because provide me more wider field of view and my eyelashes don’t not touch the lens even if I have mascara on. My best advice is to buy from a store with a good return policy and try out multiple pairs.
- Learn to breath bilaterally- This is the most efficient way of breathing during a swim. It is easy to get in the habit of only breathing on one side, but breathing bilaterally will help you balance your stroke. Additionally, looking left and right in the open water will help you sight better and keep in line with the swim path. As an added bonus, bilateral breathing eliminates stress on both your shoulders and hips. I was a one-sided breather for a long time and it was tough to break the habit, but once I did my swimming improved greatly. Learn this way so you don’t have to re-teach yourself later! My advice is to work on breathing techniques using the kick-board and slowly introduce the bilateral laps to your pool work outs.
- Wear a wetsuit- Before I get into this, I have to admit, I wearing a wetsuit is not my preference! I never felt I needed one because I am confident and unafraid with my swimming; I got one, and have used it in the past, because I do not have a desire to swim in freezing water without protection. There have been a handful of races wherein I am very, very, thankful for my wetsuit. Given the option, I would rather just not deal with it. However, for beginners, a wetsuit can act as somewhat of a safety net because they will keep you boyant and you can more easily float if necessary. Furthermore, because of the added boyancy, they also make you faster. That is the added bonus I definitely DO like about a wetsuit! X-Terra almost always has a sale, so I could check them out.
Are there any swimming questions you have that I did not answer?