Monday, November 17, 2014

I Am Enough!

Warning: This post sounds a bit ramblish. Tired, but I had to get this out there.

Confession: I am struggling.

Struggling with mostly the fact that I don't feel like I'm enough.

Often, I don't feel like I deserve to share much of anything. 

I mean, I'm not a multi-time marathon runner or someone who shed half of their body weight. Hell, I don't even live on my own.

I could have an awesome day at work or kill it in spin class, but all that can go down the drain in a matter of minutes after seeing people complete their Xth half or second race in two days.

I'm just proud of saying I completed nine 5K's and maintaining a 100 pound weight loss for a year. 

Yet, I feel like that isn't enough.

Granted, I know that those two tasks are tough, but I still struggle with seeing so many other people do so much better than me.

Then I realized that what is good for one person isn't necessarily good for another.

I never started running to try and complete multiple marathons. I just did it to do something different. Eventually, I liked the pavement. I probably will never be the fastest runner out there, but isn't getting out there what it's all about anyway?

So what if I never do a marathon? So what if I didn't lose half of my body weight? I did what I didn't think was possible, and feel awesome about that!!

I started this journey to healthy living for me five years ago, and just have to remember that's why I do this. Not for the glory of marathon medals or the features in magazines. I did it to make myself a better person and I am a much better version of me than I was five years ago.

In the end, that's really enough. As long as I love myself and what I've done, that's really all I need. 

I. Am. Enough!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Recap and November Goals!

Hey, everyone! I can't believe that we're almost at November already! Where has this year gone?

Anyway, I had set some goals for October, and here's a quick recap of what they were:

Here's how I did:

1) One new recipe a week. Three out of four weeks I did! I found some new ways to cook oatmeal and made an AWESOME pulled pork! Not perfect, but I'm finding my way into the kitchen again!

2) Place $30 into savings! NAILED it! I think this will stick long-term. $15 a paycheck is totally doable, and a little bit can go a long way!

3) Three days of core work a week. FAIL! Thinking back, I probably should not have made this a goal of mine. I wound up running two 5K's this month, and more of my time was spent on running. I did accomplish this one week though, so it's not a total loss.

4) Blog once a week. Done! I wrote two race recaps, two "fluff" posts, and this one. Not too shabby.

5) Empty inbox once a week. Done as well! I actually did this about twice a week. Winning!

I didn't quite earn my cookbook, so I will be trying again for it in November!

Speaking of November, here are my goals for next month!

1) Two spin classes a week. I'm not running anymore until sometime in March (except for one virtual 5K Thanksgiving week), so this is totally doable. I have options every day except for Wednesday and Friday, so no excuses! I need to get back on the bike! 

2) Write a "To-Do" list weekly. I never seem to do this, although I know it would help me get a lot done. Originally, this was going to be a daily goal, but given my work schedule, it won't happen. Once a week is realistic for me though.

3) Plan holiday shopping and budget. It's that time of year already? Damn it! Seriously, I need to get the ball going. I already started (Let's Imagine Elmo for the nephew), but need to think about the rest of the family and a few other people, plus a Secret Santa or two. Oh, and those damn things called cards and gift wrap. 

4) Complete a "Photo-A-Day" challenge. I'm the queen of starting these, but never finishing them. This will change in November! I found one that looks awesome, but easy enough. Plus, it's an excuse to post to Instagram more! ;-)

5) Clean and organize my storage room. This. Needs. To. Happen. My family and I moved into this place in January and the fourth room in my third floor (the other three are my bedroom, exercise/gaming room, and walk-in closet) is a storage room, but looks like a tornado went through. With the changing of seasons, it's time to bring out the winter clothes, put away the summer, and finally unpack the rest of the cardboard boxes!

There you have it! November is looking to be setting the foundation for a solid holiday season! Get in the habits now, be merry and bright later! Yes, I know I stole that from a Christmas song and it sounds cheesy, but it suits me. ;-)

Happy Halloween tomorrow, everyone!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Trick or Trot 5K (Long Branch, NJ)

Note: At the time I wrote this, I did not have an official time. All I know is I was off my PR by about 1:30. I will edit when I have my time.

I knew after the Little Silver 5K that I would be on board for one more race in 2014. I found out about this one and was sold on two things: an 11:00 start time and costumes!

So, I signed up about a week and a half ago, and started planning my costume. I knew I wanted to do something Disney related, and thought of Jessie from Toy Story. I went with that.

I made my own shirt, paired it with an accessory kit, and bought some cow print knee socks. It wasn't perfect, but it was definitely recognizable once I got to the race site. WIN! 

As I mentioned earlier, the race had a late start (11:00). However, there was a kicker. There was no packet pickup the day before the race (Lame!), so I had to wander down to the site early to pick up my race number and shirt. 

I got down to Long Branch about 45 minutes before the race start, got my number and shirt, and went to the park where the race was starting and did my best to stay loose before the race start.

Oh, and get a pre-race pic of course. Okay, maybe two. ;-)

This was the one I posted on Instagram this morning with the caption "Jessie is ready to rock it in Long Branch!"

This one, on the other hand, didn't get posted until later in the day. Hey, I had to save some data! ;-)

As I mentioned earlier in the post, this costume was recognizable almost right away. There was one little girl who every time she saw me just kept saying, "Jessie!"

Can you say it was a hit with the little kids? I think so. =)

Soon enough, it was time to make our way to the start area. I say "area" because there was no actual start line. Uh, fail much? Seriously, if it's one thing any race should have, if nothing else, is a start line. I felt like the start was a little chaotic, since there was no actual spot.

Before the national anthem, I took a pic with the water as my backdrop. Hey, when you race along the ocean, it's a must!

The national anthem was sung, last minute instructions about the course were given, and soon enough, we were off! 

I knew from the start that this would not be a PR race by any means. No start line at all, plus the wind was nasty this morning. Cold, rain, and even moderate heat I can handle. Wind? Not so much...

The course was pretty much a out and back loop, but the wind wouldn't do much damage until the second half of the race. I ended up with a first mile of 10:30, which was a little faster than I was hoping for. Still, I was feeling good!

After about another half mile, the turnaround came. And the wind roared its evil face. I hit the second mile at about 22:30 (ish?), so that was a sign to just let thoughts of a PR go, and enjoy the rest of the race.

Which I did. I soaked up the views of Pier Village (gorgeous area) and the Atlantic Ocean on each side. I mean, how can you NOT enjoy anything like that on a race course?

Seriously, if I can have a view like this on every run, I would be a happy girl.

Soon enough, it was back into the park for the finish. I took off my headphones early and just soaked it in. This was my last race of the year, and I wanted to enjoy the last moments. 

I wound up coming in at about 36:00, just about 1:30 slower than my PR. Given my unfamiliarity with the course and the wind, I was okay with that time. I loved the scenery and had fun seeing everyone in costume!

Overall, I have mixed feelings over this race. I loved being able to rock a costume and having ocean views on the course. However, I was disappointed with lack of a start line as well as a timing chip. The packet pickup situation was not a fav of mine, but I wasn't too upset about it. I would do this race again, but have to plan it as more of a fun run. I mean, how many times a year do you get to run in costume? 

That's a wrap on my 2014 running season! Looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings my way!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Currently: October 2014

I haven't done one of these type posts in ages, and I'm kind of at a loss for words this week, so I decided to do this post instead today!

Thinking...about all the laundry I have to put away. I'm so lazy about putting clothes away after I wash them. Did I say that? Oops! ;-)

Feeling...tired. Work has kicked my ass this week. So happy for the weekend. Even though I'll be in the gym for some time, I don't have an eight hour shift before I work out!

Watching...How to Get Away with Murder. I never thought I would get into a show as crazy as that one! It's a legal mystery drama where a college law professor and a group of her students become involved in a twisted murder plot. Viola Davis rocks it week in and week out. If you haven't checked it out, do it. So worth watching.

Excited...for my 5K next Sunday! It's a costume race and I decided to go as Jessie from Toy Story! I'm not revealing the whole thing until next weekend, so look for pics on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram then! =)

Missing...summer! Okay, maybe not the heat as much as the beach, wearing tank tops without hoodies over them, and my birthday, but still, it's all part of summer! Only eight months until next summer!

Wanting...a chocolate chip bagel from Gem's! I haven't had one in about a month! I must make it happen this weekend! (P.S.-If you don't live in northern Monmouth County, I feel sorry for you. You're missing out on some awesome

Wishing...that I was in Bethlehem, PA for Runner's World Weekend! I would only be doing the 5K (and possibly the 10K), but it seems like the place to be this weekend!

Eating...all the salad! I've eaten salad most every day this week, and tomorrow is my usual Saturday Saladworks dinner. Never thought I would love it as much as I do!

Loving...the unseasonably warm weather here in Jersey! Too bad it's about to get cold this weekend. =(

What's new in your world?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Little Silver 5K (Little Silver, NJ)

There's a first time for everything, right?

Well, this race was not one, not two, but THREE firsts for me at once!

This was my first time ever racing in the fall (2012 was cut short due to injury and 2013 was more focused on goal and maintenance), as well as my first Sunday race. All eight of my others were on Saturdays in the spring.

Therefore, this would also be my first time racing this course.

After hearing that this course was flat and mostly shaded, I was sold on it. So, I signed up back in July after I got a discount code on early registration.

Like I said, this would be a whole new experience for me in more ways than one. Plus I had my usual "This training cycle sucks." moments, so I decided that if I was close to a PR, I would go for it, but not getting it wouldn't kill the race for me.

One perk to this race: Awesome swag and a virtual race bag! The flyers got e-mailed as a PDF download, which meant better swag at number pick-up! Hello, pint glass AND water bottle! Oh, and the shirt is awesome too!

Of course, when picking out my race outfit, my beloved Sparkle Athletic skirt would make a return appearance after both my PR's in the spring! For this race, I decided on white and silver with a splash of orange.

Okay, maybe more than a splash. Still, it brought some color, right? ;-)

This race had the latest start out of any race I had done (9:30 a.m.), but since it was about a 20 minute drive, I still had to get up around 7 to leave my house at 8:30.

Once at the race site, it was a lot of walking around, checking out the one-mile run, and staying loose until start time. Oh, and keeping warm too.

One of the lessons I learned is to be prepared for COLD this time of year! I was one of the few runners in short sleeves and I was freezing before the race. Arm sleeves will be an investment for me in the near future. Some runners were as extreme as wearing mittens and snow hats, but I don't think I would go that far, at least not in October.

Around 9:15, it was time to make our way to the start. This would be another big race (close to 600 runners), and it was crazy lining up. They may have mentioned a few times to stay toward the back if you couldn't maintain a 5:00 mile. How many listened? I can't say.

Before the national anthem, I got someone to snap a pic of me in my cold but cute Sparkle glory. The skirt was a hit with other runners this time too!

One of the drawbacks to this race was the lack of timing mat at the start. I swear this is where the Spring Into Summer 5K spoils their runners. Everyone had the same start time, which I think is why there's such crowding at the front. Maybe next year some of these races will learn.

After the national anthem and the usual pre-race announcements, the horn went off and we were on our way!

My plan was the same as it always was: Run when I felt comfortable, walk when I needed. Usually this would be about a minute run/minute walk ratio.

Yeah. That went really well for the first few minutes. I was more like two minutes running/one minute walking while dealing with crowding for the first half mile or so.

Like Union Beach and Keansburg's races, there were no mile markers. Again, spoiled by Spring Into Summer! Thankfully, I was running with Caledos, so I had an idea of my splits. No guarantees as to total accuracy, since I was dealing with weaving, but at least I had an idea.

I hit the first mile at 10:52, a little faster than I was aiming for. One of these days, I will learn to not go out so fast in the beginning. Still, I was feeling good and secretly wishing for a PR!

After the first mile, I dropped to the one/one ratio for walking and running. My second mile (which is usually the hardest for me) was at 11:25. I was on pace to tie my current PR (11:09/mile at that point), but I realized that I could either push myself and get it, but not have as much fun doing it or let it go and just enjoy the last stretch.

I went with the latter.

Of course, no race is complete with a mid-race selfie, right? ;-)

The third mile wound up being about ten seconds slower than the second, but at that point, I didn't care. I just wanted to go out enjoying myself and I feel like I did that!

The last stretch led us to the Red Bank Regional track where I left everything out there. I was the only one when I was there, so the announcer called me out. Kind of felt cool, to be honest. Hey, we can all dream of being elite runners, right? ;-)

I knew then I didn't have the PR, as the clock was just over 35:00. Still, I felt awesome and completed my eighth 5K!

After I crossed the finish, I immediately went for water. I also got a sample of Rook iced coffee. No food at the finish as they apparently ran out of bagels. A little annoying, but what can you do.

Before I left, I got my official result: a 35:05 (11:18/mile). Missed a personal by 30 seconds. I was actually happy with that time. I ran this race for the first time, felt solid, and had fun! Usually I get so wrapped up in going for personals that I forget to live in the moment and enjoy it! I let the PR go and wound up enjoying myself more this race than either my May or June ones!

Was this race perfect? No. I would have liked to see mile markers and a timing mat at the start, so that crowding won't be as much of an issue and those of us not running with Garmins or apps have an idea of mileage. Still, other than that, this is one of my favorite races to date! Flat and fast course with awesome scenery will probably have me coming back next year!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thinking Out Loud

Hi, all! I have some rare downtime today, so I decided to do a Thinking Out Loud Thursday post!

For those unfamiliar with Thinking Out Loud, the series came about by Amanda over at Running with Spoons. However, I actually found it through Brooke (of Brooke: Not on a Diet).


Basically, the whole idea behind these posts is to, well, think out loud! You know, all the random thoughts that you need to get out but don't make sense in a "normal" post.

So, here's what I'm thinking this week!

1) My eighth 5K (and third this year) is on Sunday in Little Silver! I'm still unsure as to whether I'm going for a personal or not, but I know that this will be an awesome time no matter what. Hello, Rook Coffee at the finish!

2) Hockey season is here! Okay, technically it's still preseason until next week, but hey, it's back! The Rangers officially own my soul (and good chunk of my T-shirt collection) until June!

3) I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who actually likes the new U2 album. You know, Songs of Innocence, the one that iTunes offered for free and magically placed into most users' libraries. I had to manually download it, but it was worth it. I'm into that kind of music anyway, and this is a good album. My fav track? "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)."

4) I've been at goal weight for over a year! Sunday was my anniversary and I celebrated with a run and Power class! Oh, and pumpkin pie Italian Ice from Ralph's. ;-) (P.S.-Separate post on this is coming!)

5) I'm getting back into TV! I wasn't able to last year because, you know, I was working at 5:30 in the morning. Now, I can watch my shows at night. My three fav newbies: The Mysteries of Laura, Madam Secretary, and How to Get Away with Murder. Of course, y'all know my fav returning show is The Good Wife. Anyway, check these out if you haven't already. All four shows are incredible!

How about you? What are you "Thinking Out Loud?"

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September Goal Recap and October Goals

I'm pretty sure September can be summed up as a "Life happens, deal with it" month.

The month was anything but perfect. Work was crazy with the audit happening a week and a half ago, but it paid off. We got the highest score (platinum) in the district and one of only five in the franchise. So, yeah. It was worth it.

With that, my goals went a little downhill, but I still got a lot accomplished this month.

Here's what I set out to do:

Here's how I did:

1) Complete The Conscious Runner's 30 Day Plank Challenge. Done, but did a little tweaking along the way. I got the days in, but altered my rest days a bit. So this was a success.

2) Run three times a week and NOT on consecutive days. Uh...I did good the first week! The rest of the month I only got two days a week in, but not consecutive days. The stress of work got to me and I took extra rest days with my running. This one was half-successful.

3) Place at least $50 into savings. Bust! I only got $30 in. Tough early in the month and I couldn't save anything. If it wasn't for seven hours OT, I wouldn't have even got the $30.

4) No daily weighing. Okay, I nailed this one. I weighed once a week, saw myself lose the five pounds I gained, then ignored the scale. Eventually, I'm hoping to get to once a month weigh-ins, but as long as I don't weigh myself every day, then I'm good.

5) Try at least two new recipes. I did good with this too. I made a black bean and quinoa burger that was pretty tasty. I also ate a PB and cinnamon oatmeal that was good too (and microwaveable-WIN!). So I got myself out of a bit of a rut, but still can do better.

My reward was two Sparkly Soul headbands, but since I was only half-successful this month, I'm only getting one. Hey, I have to get something for what I did right! ;-)

Okay, now that I recapped September, time to look to October!

1) One new recipe a week. I'm in a bit of a cooking funk and want to get back in the swing. Pinterest has a TON of stuff, and I do have a few cookbooks. Time to get back in the kitchen!

2) Place $30 into savings. No matter how small my paychecks are, I can afford to save $15 a check. No excuses.

3) Three days a week of core work (15 minutes or more). This one is going to be a challenge, but doable. My core work has been slacking lately (shame on me), and I need to get back into the mix. Core classes at my gym are starting to get few and far between, so it's up to me to come up with the workouts. I have a Nike training app, plus I see workouts all over the place.

4) Blog once a week. I've been a bad blogger. I had that stretch where I gained, plus work was crazy! Even if I only write a "fluff" post (Friend Makin' Monday, Thinking Out Loud, etc.), I still want to get something up on here weekly! Suggestions are welcome. ;-)

5) Empty inbox once a week. I'm one of those people who tends to let e-mail sit FOREVER! I need to clean out all the junk and maybe even unsubscribe to a few things.

My reward for October is The Skinnytaste Cookbook. I've heard about it, and would love to try some of the stuff for myself. Hello, guilt-free Double Chocolate and Walnut Cookies!

That's it here! October's mission is to make old habits new again! I think I set the groundwork for that!

What about you? What are your goals for October?

No Half-Marathon for Tracy

This post may sound like it doesn't make sense, but I was writing what I felt. You've been warned. ;-)

I meant to write this post earlier in the week, but I haven't stopped moving long enough to do so, plus I needed a few days to let this sink in.

I will not be running a half-marathon in April. I may not even run one in 2015.

Before you all yell at me for going back on my word, just let me say that this decision was not an easy one. In fact, I was continuously on the fence about it. When I actually made the decision, it was heartbreaking, but I knew it was for the best.

However, several factors came into play about me not going forward.

The first is my mental confidence is really not where I want it to be. I've had runs where I feel amazing, and others where I think to myself, "Can I do this for 13.1 miles?" That alone pretty much says it all. This whole running thing is as much mental as it is physical, and the wrong mindset can send everything into a bad tailspin. Not cool.

The second is that I am not a fast nor long runner. It would take me ages to build up my endurance (both distance and speed) for something like that. I know I can train for a half in as little as three months, but at the same time, I don't want to rush it and risk being miserable or getting hurt. Neither is any fun, and recovering from injury just sucks. Not worth it right now.

The third is that damn thing called "Keeping Up with the Joneses" syndrome. Since I gave myself some tough love a few months ago, I've gotten better, but at the same time, I still struggle with it. I see all these people who have run multiple marathons (both full and half) and even multiple races in one weekend (I'm looking at all those Dopey challengers!), and feel like I've done nothing completing only seven 5K's.

Yes, I know those seven are seven more than the old me would have done. Still, I know people who have completed seven FULL marathons. Then I get the mindset of feeling like a failure.

Ridiculous? Totally.

It was last weekend when I tweeted all those thoughts when my friends Dani and Carlee pretty much told me that my time will (eventually) come and that I had to own my OWN journey. They also said that I have to believe (for myself that I am as awesome as everyone else.

You know what? I do believe it now, more than I did before.

I may not have gone from couch potato to marathoner, but I have gone from couch potato to spin fanatic and basically just enjoys movement in general.

I went from someone who didn't love herself to losing 100 pounds and enjoying the body I'm in.

Honestly, isn't that worth a hell of a lot more than a half-marathon finisher's medal?

I think it is.

Maybe I'll eventually complete a half. Maybe not. If that path isn't meant for me, then so be it. I'm happy with what I've done and nothing can take any of those 5K's, weight loss, or self-love away from me.

Except maybe for me. I just have to learn to own and enjoy my own journey without feeling like I'm not as good as everyone else.

I now believe that I am. I have the heart, passion, and soul that make everything I've done possible. I've had a pretty awesome journey, despite the ups and downs, and every moment of it has made me the best I can be.

I would say that's pretty awesome.

How about you? Have you had to make a decision that was as heartbreaking for you as it was for me?

P.S.-I'm not bashing all of you half and full marathoners. In fact, I think you all rock! I just realized that I wasn't feeling as awesome because I don't have a collection of medals like y'all do. Not the case now.