Monday, July 21, 2014

How Or IF I Should Choose A Running/Training Group

I started training for my first half marathon on my own way back in early 2006.  I had done a couple of 5K's, and even a 10K.  I remember my first 10K was that Feb 2006 (Rodeo Run), and I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud.  It was pouring rain and I still remember calling my momma from the car afterwards.
If I remember correctly I ran it somewhere around 1:12.  Those were the beginning days fo sho!  Now my PR for the 10K stands at 58:xx
Anyway...I trained for my first half on my own.  Sure I knew there were other runners out there, I saw them ALL the time as I ran at Memorial park, or up and down Memorial and around the bayou.
Sometimes I of course would see packs of people running together but I had no clue that there was such a thing as a running group let alone a training group!
I don't really remember how I found out about it...I know I was blogging at the time.  And I found a Houston Running Bloggers page/message place.
I still wasn't sure about it all but by the time my first half came around (October 2006), I had met a lot of people in one group and joined.
It was these exact people that convinced me right after that half that since "I was already halfway there I should just sign up for the full in January".
And so I did. 
I continued to train on my own and longer runs with the group; really it was just the last long run before Houston, where everyone meets up and runs the first 20 miles of the course and then you get carted back to your car at GRB.
Then after that first full marathon in January 2007, I wanted to keep going, but I knew I was missing something.
There were quite a few people who read my blog and I think it was through email that I was first told about Kenyan Way.
Anyway, the rest of that KW relationship is history, and everyone knows my love affair with that group!
So yeah moving away for 2  years and losing the group and a LOT of fitness that took me years to get to; kinda ruined me.
But coming back home I was elated to be able to be with KW if only for Saturdays (logistics)!  A lot of my close friends are with KW and I love all the perks.
So for like the first 3 weekends I would drive into town to run with them and it was great.  Even though I feel completely out of shape, it still made me do better than I would on my own, so the competition to keep up and not look as out of running shape than I am...still the getting up at 4:30am, drive 30 min, run 6-7 miles and come home?  Yeah that wasn't making too much sense.
It was suggested that maybe after my runs get longer than 9-10 miles then maybe it would be worth it (I am just SPOILED with the diff routes, and hydration set ups every couple of miles!!)
Anyway, I ran a couple of times on my own at TH: its closer to me and it has water fountains and its shaded.  All pluses, but I could see it getting boring after a while and I miss the group atmosphere (even though I am SO not a social talky talk runner).
Then I met a few runners at work and we started running together at TH.  Better but still not ideal and the same route just ugh.
I do love TH, just not ALL the time :O)
So I began researching for training groups out in the Cinco Ranch area and there are in fact quite a few!  I mean you have Katy, Cinco Ranch and of course Fort Bend county all to service runners of every kind I suppose!
I have reached out to them all now I think...and while some were interesting to where I thought I would 'fit' all were the same in as 'you carry your own fluids'.  Oy.  My one thing over everything else is I HATE CARRYING MY OWN WATER!  Sure I did it when I trained for so long by myself, but once I started with KW ... Well I am just spoiled rotten.
So finally I was down to the one that I thought would probably be the worst fit (its a Galloway training group).  After many emails back and forth with a couple of their directors, communicating my current fitness, past races and fitness and what my goals were going forward and also what exactly was I looking for in a group?
So after seeing their distances/paces/intervals for this past weekend, and me only doing 6 miles (starting next weekend I begin moving towards end of October half so I will be at 8 miles and wanted to cut back from 7 to 6 this week). 
Once they figured where I might be a good fit, I knew what time to show up and where.  I didn't have a lot of hope for this; I am running high min intervals and these guys never go over 3/1's!!! 
But I was SURPRISED when I finished this run FASTER than I would have had I ran my usual Saturday intervals!  What?!
Plus at the end, we did parking garage hill repeats and I actually ended up having a great Saturday morning.

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand and know that Galloway runners have BQ'd and are in fact, faster than some 'run all the way' people I know.  Probably me at this point!  And the book along w the philosophies are solid, tried and true.  Really all I have as far as a goal in mind is to get back below 2:15 for the half.  And I KNOW its totally doable.  I just have to put in the work.  And this group also does speed work and hill work a couple of days a week as well (just like KW).  My next half is end of October, and that is not my time goal race, but I have 4 more between now and first weekend in Feb 2015.  ONE of those I have indeed picked for my 'comeback'.  I don't really expect myself or my desire to beat my current half marathon PR (2:06), but I do want that sub 2:15 again!!!!
Of course there are some downsides to this group:  no every 2 mile water stations; carry your own hydration (which didnt seem to bother me this time for some reason).  With such low interval ratios I wouldn't ever get back up to running a half marathon non-stop (which was completely normal and doable for me pre-Nebraska; and I need to decide if thats even a thing for me anymore, if I can meet my time goals with run/walking).  And I am sure this was just because the 2 guys were trying to 'sell' me but dang they talked the ENTIRE time and expected a conversation back.
This will NOT work out for me long term!  Ha!!
So basically I am going to give them another go this next Saturday; run with a different set of folks and we'll see how that goes.  If we have a constant theme here where everyone is chatty chatty, and expect me to be, then that won't work.  I can carry my own water, but don't expect me to be social when I am actually running.
So this is my last resort I guess you could say.  If this last group doesn't work for whatever reason, then I will start driving in to Houston on Saturdays again so that I can have varying routes, and course support.  With higher mileage Saturdays just around the corner, I have to have something to fall back on to help me get through the remainder of the hot summer running/high mileage days.
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let Freedom Ring!

Oh goodness what a fantabulous long weekend!
We actually got let go from work around 1ish I guess on Thursday, and I took Monday off as well, so yeah it was such a great great great weekend!
Here is the boring parts; you know the working out highlights :O)
Friday morning I got up and headed into town to run a local 4th of July 5K that I ran once before and HATED.  LOL.  But as I mentioned a while back, I signed up for a couple of races this Summer just to get myself back in the groove of having actual races to attend!
I had run this race once before, gosh it had to have been like 2007 or something and swore to never do it again.  And now, I know I won't ever do it again.  Again.  :O)
It was great to go and see some familiar faces though and they do have great swag afterwards; and the tech race shirt (gender specific) was a nice touch too!
Nothing to write home about.  I was doing OK for a while though.  Except it had to have been about just a mile in and I had to go pee like no ones business.  Like the kind where you KNOW you can't possibly run much further without peeing because its all you are going to think about and 2 miles is going to feel like 10.  So I am not sure where the right hand turn was, but I know there was a turn, I saw a construction porta potty and I made a beeline for it.  I had to pee a LOT more than I originally thought, so there was about 30sec out the window.
But man did I feel better!!!
I had set my watch to do 7/1's which worked out fine only that for the first 1/2 of the race I was running too fast to sustain it later on in the heat.  I was literally soaked through by the end.  So much so that I almost couldnt get my top off (I changed in the parking lot as I was going to meet Ed for breakfast afterwards).
But it was good to get out there even when its uncomfortable.  I am actually surprised at how well I am handling the running here in Texas again after being away for so long.  If I put in some real effort, I might be able to get a bit closer to where I was a little bit faster.  

Eh, I am enjoying all the other activities I have going on to put all my focus on just running ever again.  I love running for the comradirie and the bling/swag now :O)
Saturday morning I was up and out the door to get in 7 miles but it was a solo run since everyone else either drank too much or stayed up too late the night before.  Or both.
I started at 6am out at TH and it was actually nice to just be by myself for a long run as a change.  Had a little 'situation' about 6 miles in but thankfully I was able to take care of that and finish up without incident.  HashtagRunnerProblems
Sunday was an active recovery day (swimming, running around)...the family was over for pool party and grilling out and we had the best time.  Its the 3rd time now we've all gotten together at my new place and its special to me.  I cannot believe how blessed I am with the family I have.  And to be back in Texas?  I don't know how I lasted as long as I did!!!!

My heart!  He will be 5 months old on Friday!  QUIT growing!

Monday, B and I had plans to hit up GB and TH for running and boot camp but she texted early early that she wasn't feeling well and was bailing.  I wasn't upset because duh, I sat around and drank more coffee and watched TV longer :O)
What I ended up doing eventually was swinging by the gym I was thinking about joining to have a tour and talk about $.  I didn't actually talk to anyone till when I came back later in the day to actually work out.  I did 3 miles on the treadmill, followed by a legs workout and finishing off with 10min in the steam room.  WOW.  I miss having all the amenities!!!  The steam room is one of my favs!  I am not too keen on the whole coed thing though because I prefer to be able to go in there in just a towel but umm... yeah probably not allowed :O)
This morning I ended up joining since a promotion started today which the membership counselor had told me about.  So yeah, now I am officially a member.  It comes out to be $12 more a month than I was paying in Sidney and well this place is swank so its totally worth it. This afternoon it was 3 miles plus shoulders/chest and I finished up with 5 min on the stairmill.  Good GAWD that thing is BRUTAL!  How in the HELL do you burn 300 cal in 5 min???  STAIR.  MILL.
Plus I cancelled a monthly subscription service which I figured makes up the difference (being in Houston now, I no longer need NatureBox as my options to purchase healthy snacks is abundant).  I will say that NatureBox was a great thing for me living in a rural area though!
So there is my long weekend of workouts ... managed to stay busy and active, with a lot of fun AND some rest in there as well.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Back On Track!

Week before last was a nightmare all the way around.  I had overextended myself with plans on several nights, then Heather passed away and that took away a couple more of my days...
And everything just went blah.
On that Saturday though, I met up with my peeps for our 'long' run (I am only doing 7 miles on Saturdays right now and will continue that distance for a couple more weeks), and from that point on I got back on track.
Not only with my workouts but especially with my food. 
After just a week of back to working out regularly and eating properly I noticed a HUGE difference the past couple of days.  Clothes are feeling great again, I don't avoid the mirror with my naked self and we are moving in the right direction!
I've actually got myself on a pretty strict eating regime, which I won't really document due to the fact that too many folks would be put off by it first off and we'll just leave it at that.
I KNOW what works for me, and thats the end of that.
Its challenging to say the least, but my mind is right, so its not feeling like a chore.  There ARE times I want to go off track and I stay as focused as I can.
I did buy a pint of orange swirl this weekend, and had the littlest bowl possible ever of it.  It was DELICIOUS.
I've been journaling and making mental notes of my triggers and my struggles.  That helps too. 
So many I know have fallen into some sort of difficulty with their health recently and to be honest I get it.  But we all have to find our own strength and willpower and take it ONE. DAY. AT. A. TIME.
An example: right now, as I type this I am extremely hungry.  Well something is.  I FEEL hungry.  But I know what I JUST ate and I KNOW that it was PLENTY of food and nutrients.
Yes we are back to the embrace your hunger stage.  And it actually feels amazing.
Workouts are going great as well!  I haven't driven into town for 3 Saturdays now, and have just been running with a group of women here from work at TH.  Its actually been really awesome and I enjoy the company and we always go somewhere after, usually SBux for iced coffee and chat for about another 45min or so.
Now that July is about to happen, my budget is reset so I am hoping that the gym has a join special in the next week or so.  I am still making do with the onsite facility, but I REALLY REALLY miss lifting heavy!  The dumbbells, while yes are heavy just are not the same as plates, weighted bars etc. for true CrossFit style of moves I enjoy AND THAT WORK.
For now at least I plan to still keep my long running out here and not with Kenyan Way.  I suspect once August gets here and my mileage starts creeping up I will drive into town for the support and the different routes. 
I will say I am actually glad now that I ran yesterday too, which I never do anymore, because now I dont have to run today; I can just focus on HIIT and some relaxed elliptical work.

Things I am Loving Right Now

I always like when other bloggers do their Loving Right Now posts...and so I thought I would do one.  I always think oooh I need to blog about this because its so awesome I should share, but then I don't.

So here ya go!


These Boyfriend cuffed jean shorts!  I bought a pair a little over a week ago on a whim, and planned to take them back if I hated them once they arrived (yes I still order online sometimes because its convenient).  But OMGoodness I absolutely looooooooooooooooved them.  So I ordered another pair in the wash seen above.  So absolutely comfy and best part about them is you don't have to have a boyfriend to enjoy ;o)
Where:  Old Navy

This grocery store!!!
Where:  Sprouts
I have so many choices now I sometimes find myself overwhelmed!  What is kinda bad, but not really, is that I have fav items at Sprouts, Whole Foods and Costco.  So I try to stock up on those favs when I make the trip so I don't have to go to 5 different grocery stores each week.  My every week stores are the HUGE HEB store, or Kroger.  I spend less at Kroger, which sometimes I choose over HEB because of that very fact (impulse buying strategies in retail are not lost on me!).  But SPROUTS IS AMAZING!!!  If you have access to one, give it a try.  Yes its pricier, but less than Whole Foods, LOVE LOVE LOVE their store brands on so many items.  I also limit my WF's, Sprouts, Costco visits because impulse buying tendancies.
Soon we will have Trader Joes...and thats just a whole 'nother post just on its own :)

My employer!!
I have the same job (only a bit more responsibility for sure), that I have had basically forever...well not forever, but for a long time whether or not it was always called Business Analyst or not, it was in some form or fashion still the same basically.  In IT forever too..I don't know any differently, but sometimes I do think I might be better suited on the business side doing analysis, but I am still very content, especially here at my new place.  At Cabela's that was NOT the case, especially the last year.  I wanted out of IT so badly there, and while the opportunity presented itself a couple of times, it fell through, and now I know why.  I wasn't supposed to be there.  I was supposed to be HERE.  Back in Texas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As mentioned above, I love Sprouts Farmers Market.  What I love is that they have a lot of their own private labled items that I can't get (or at least havent seen) anywhere else.  Its a lot like Traders Joes.  The majority of the store is Sprouts Market branded.  I came across this Quinoa, Brown and Wild Rice blend, thought it sounded interesting (I like all 3, but not really so much so on their own; I generally buy a wild/brown rice blend).  OMG SO DELICIOUS!  So yesterday morning, B and I had met in the Sprouts parking lot of a short run, afterwards I popped in and bought 4 more boxes to keep on hand.

OK tata for now!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Still On The Fence

Before I started running in 2005 I guess it was, I was always a gym rat.  One of my fav stories to tell sometimes is how I, for YEARS scoffed at runners and running and for that matter, cardio in general.

I NEVER did cardio.  And I was small, muscle-y and fit.  I had a tendancy to become developed and cut quite easily when I set my mind to it.  I obviously had periods of time where going to the gym wasn't exactly priority.

I started the running and cardio at the suggestion of a friend when I was struggling so badly with the onset of the weight gain, pre diagnosis.

By the time I was diagnosed I actually enjoyed running so I kept at it and along with the meds, the running helped me get my weight back under control.

It was in late 2009/2010 when I made a drastic change not only to my eating habits but also to my activity routine.  I started going back to the gym (we had one onsite at the AIG campus and once again, I saw a HUGE return on my effort, getting into quite possibly the best shape of my life.

I then moved into a new community where I had free access to a GREAT gym over in the Heights, so I cancelled the work gym thing..and kept at it.  Also dabbling in CrossFit etc.

Then after moving to Nebraska, a lot of things I was going through early on, fitness took a back seat.  Then Winter happened...etc.  I did join the gym there (community center) but with my increasing lack of interest of being there, generally unhappy and feeling so secluded, with only the gym sometimes to do, well you can only spend so much time in a gym.  I could have done more, but honestly I was depressed and just didn't have the desire to do more than 'just enough'.

The last couple of months in NE I had started doing a lot of weight lifting etc., and it was working well...then came the I am leaving Nebraska forever thing and all the time spent on that..

So here I am 2 years older, and about 10 lbs heavier.  It could be a combination of menopause, slowing metabolism and the overall lack of intensity, and/or that I think I am eating less than I am.

I just recently started REALLY watching everything...trying to up the intensity, scale back on mindless eating etc and get back to that mindset of late 2009/early 2010.  Yes I am older now, and that comes with its own set of challenges that are hard to counteract...but I know I should be doing all I can.

And JUST running quite frankly...does absolutely NOTHING for an aging body for the majority of us.  I learned that the last training cycle in 2013 while training for Chicago marathon.

So less running, more weights.  And just MORE balance in all forms of activity.  It truly makes me the best person inside and out...

So in my new place, we do have a really nice gym however it lacks in free weight kind of equipment which is the most effective IMHO.  I am making do with what they have, but its not enough for me.

So I have been going back and forth on joining the massive, wonderful, full amenities out the wazoo gym about 1/2 mile away, but the cost (at least initially) was making me question it.

Now I keep getting emails with the price always way lower..and its tempting, only now being about $6 more a month than what I was paying in NE for MUCH MUCH less.

I know I would be much happier if I had the I know I am eventually going to cave...but I still just get one leg over the fence and no follow through!

Now that I have written this all out...I really need to just do it!!

One thing I love about writing...I generally solve a lot of my issues by just putting pen to paper (so to speak).

Life IS a Box of Chocolates

Delicious, oooey, gooey, and wonderful in all ways.
I have been disheartened a bit lately and I will try and explain why; not sure that I can in the most delicate way (not my personality really to be 'delicate'), but I will try.
Here's the thing.  I don't know why ... I use to think it was just Facebook, and that some people I knew were using it as an outlet for whatever was pissing them off that day.  And it appeared that some people were just always in a foul mood.  At least 80% of the time.
I mean complaining about EVERYTHING.  And when not complaining, just overall grumpy mcgrumperson about something whether or not it was too much to do, not enough time to do it in, can't take a nap, feel like crap, eat too much, eat too little and on and on and on and on.
But then, on a few occasions (and only a few because honestly I have to limit my time with certain folks because I cannot endure the attitude because its toxic to me and just overall makes me unhappy), I have noticed that even outside of Facebook, they genuinely and outwardly project negativity.
I RARELY see a different side to them.
Now I have tried to be fair and think back to my own life at certain times, to see if I was ever 'that person' and honestly I can't say I was.  Sure I was miserable a few times in my life, most recently in Nebraska but I was still happy.  I was still successful at reeling in any negative feelings and not stressing myself out over any small things in general.
And even years and/or decades ago, I ENJOYED life.
Things make us sad for sure.  But again, I tend to grieve in such a way that I don't give cause to have any sad thing define me. 
I have realized over the past decade, even more so the past 2 years, that EVERY day is a gift.  To get so unrealisticly upset over something so random such as traffic, stupid drivers, stupid whatever is just beyond ridiculous.
I don't know if it is because I am older, or just all around a happy well rounded (and now balanced) person that I see the silver lining in everything, even the annoying things, or just because I am wired that way.  I have an extremely happy family as well.  Maybe its that.  I don't know.
Really the only thing that brings me super down is being in the company of negativity.  On Facebook, blogs etc. its easy enough to ignore.  More often than not, I just shake my head, and say a little prayer for that person.
I wish it weren't this way, because its a few of my closer friends, and I am not sure what to do or say.  And honestly I've learned the hard way a time or two that you just don't say anything anymore.
Now that I've written this, it actually just makes me sad for them. 
I would literally hate to wake up every day and know that for about 80% of it I was probably going to be miserable about something.

I think every day we make a gazillion choices a day, and choosing how we handle any particular situation is ultimately EACH PERSONS DECISION, and when we make bad choices, or choices that make us ultimately unhappy, then thats on us.  No one else.
OK thats it for now..just talking (or blogging) about it makes me yukky.
Onward!  Upward!  Yay for Thursday!  Yay for everything!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Don't Be Sad that It's Over, Be Happy That It Happened ---- Dr. Seuss

It's been a VERY, very trying past 6 days or so.
My body, my mind and most certainly my heart has grown so weary.
I've been in shock, then not in shock, then in denial, then just in a deep, dark place overall.
I know in life that everything is not always as it may seem...I mean even just like on Instagram, where everything can be filtered out, and as humans we can even filter out what is tearing us up on the inside by flashing smiles, laughing like there is no tomorrow, posting our perfect scenarios on Facebook...
You can even show up in tiaras, tutu's, pigtails and boas and still be silently suffering on the inside.
To give some idea of what I am talking about, a very dear and close friend of mine died some time last Thursday night/Friday morning.
I have known her for the better part of 12 years.  I introduced her to anyone and everyone I knew.  We chased the lights of honky tonks from here to Oklahoma, and we did it because we were also chasing the music.
The sound of fiddles and guitars, and of course, the men that played them.
I have SO many memories of her, and while yes geography and some lifestyle changes might have caused us to not be as crazy as we once were (me, not her, she was still living the life of a free spirit), nothing in this life can dissolve true love between friends.
I don't know what she might have been feeling back then...on the inside...if the pain she felt that was too big of a cross to bear, was something that was simmering or if time and life situations slowly added fuel to a simmering fire, but somewhere along the way, that simmering fire had grown to the size of fire as big as the wildfires each summer in Colorado.
I take some comfort in knowing that it wasn't just myself that missed the signs, or if there truly were any...I don't know.  I hadn't seen her in a few years.  Only pictures on Facebook.  Pictures of her as I had always known her.  Dressed in crazy clothes, at some fair..or with our mutual friends.  Listening to music.  Dancing like no one was watching.
Of her with her daughter who had grown from a tiny tot that I once knew into a young woman.
A young woman with troubles of her own, but then I would see Heather...doing what mothers do to save their child.
It all just seemed to have been this tragic accident.  A fight with your daughter, not unusual.  Probably a glass or two of wine.  Also not unusual.  And maybe just maybe something to help one sleep without the mind racing...also not unusual.
But the combination was something, that for whatever reason was not what it was supposed to be that evening.
A horrible tragic accident as I said.  A life taken way too soon by an accidential overdose.
I believed it.  I certainly didn't believe some of the whisperings of 'what if' that our friends were suggesting.
If I had one dollar to my name, I would have bet that dollar that this was nothing more than just an accident.
Then on Tuesday morning, I find out that indeed the pain inside was just too much for her to bear anymore and that Heather had chosen to do what so many of us may think as unthinkable.
She took her own life.

We drove to Austin say goodbye to our friend.  The room couldn't hold everyone.  I was not surprised.  Well I was surprised...surprised that they didn't count on that and get a bigger room.

I saw people I hadn't seen for a long time.  I hugged the necks, kissed the tear stained cheeks and stared into their eyes and hearts also filled with questions.

And regret. 

I wish I had texted her back sooner.
I wish I hadn't been asleep.
I wish I had gone out with her.
I wish I had taken the 2 seconds to respond to her FB message.

So many regrets.
But so many more questions.

And very little answers.

There were letters.  But the contents of those letters will be reserved for the family I suppose.

Suicide is, to many people, a sin.  And to a lot more, just something that you don't talk about ... shameful I would suspect.

I don't know.  I haven't had to deal with this ever.  I've been reading up on some things around it...and while many, myself included, always thought that yes that person was being selfish, in their minds, its the LEAST selfish thing.

I am not going to go into all that I have read, because well, the internet is free and vast for anyone who wants to look into it.

I think, at least for myself, that I have felt true immense pain in my heart and my head.  I didn't for MANY years due to self medicating, but I will say that once I got clean and sober and went through my first relationship that was tumultious to begin with where I was at least a time or two crumpled on the floor crying so hard it also physically hurt, and then of course the death of my yeah, that to me was pain that made me just want to 'curl up and die'.

Only not really.

Those are pains we as humans are generally equipped to deal with and yes, even live through.

But then....there are those pains that I, nor probably many of you reading, will never know of or feel.

I will never forget her...and I certainly will not blame her for the pain I feel right now.  I will love her and remember her.