The Friday 5 – 12th Edition

I feel like I’ve been a slacker lately on the blog. Not because I haven’t been posting, I have, but I’ve been posting less than I previously was, and less than I want to be. I have a number of posts that I’ve started or want to write that I just haven’t finished and posted and that makes me feel a little delinquent.

As a firm believer in the adage “every day’s a new day”, and someone who feels hopeful and optimistic at the start of every new year, month, etc. I’m confident I can turn things around. And, I’ll start with a Friday Five list! 

Normally, my Friday Five doesn’t have a unifying theme, but this week I’ve been thinking about streaks and challenges and while this information doesn’t all deserve it’s own post, a list is a good place for it.

1) I finished the 100 happy days challenge. This is one of the posts I mentioned above that I have started to write and have not finished/posted. Hopefully, I can get that wrapped up this weekend. I’ll write about it more in that post, but I have mixed feelings about what I got out of the challenge. It was a good way to recognize small things that make me happy, but at times taking a picture/posting it every single day ended up being more of a drag than a boost.

100HappyDays

click to visit the website

2) Results of my summer stretching streak: Ha!  When the Runner’s World summer running streak came around this year, I really wanted to do it, but my legs just weren’t feeling it. So, instead I decided to make up my own streak of stretching. The plan was to do at least 3 stretches every day from Memorial day through 4th of July. I managed about 12 days before I missed a day because I just plain forgot. It was all down hill from there. I really just had no motivation to stick with the streak once I’d messed it up. Oops!

3) I’m going to start a gratitude journal. Today. I’ve been wanting to do something along these lines since I first read a “thankful thursday” post on a blog somewhere. I don’t personally want this to become a regular post on my blog, so instead I’m going to keep a gratitude journal. I have the perfect notebook in mind, and I looked up some tips online. This article suggests that you shouldn’t write every day, and I like that strategy. Looking back, I think the happiness challenge would have been more fun for me if it wasn’t daily. I’m going to write my first entry today, and my plan is to start out writing every 6 days. I might post about this on the blog every once in a while, but I don’t anticipate wanting to share everything I put in the gratitude journal with the whole internet.

3.5) I’ve been using a new happiness app. While 100 happy days kind of fizzled for me, I really do love the idea behind the whole thing. I want to be more aware and grateful for the good things in my life. Also, I believe that if you put in a little effort to be happy, you will be happier. That last principle, practicing happiness, is the idea behind an app I found recently called happify. I signed up for the free version and have been using it for a week. You start a track (I’m in one called “Conquer Your Negative Thoughts”), and they give you little activities and games to do within the track. I’ve been trying to do it every day, and so far I like it. It doesn’t take long to visit the site and do one quick activity. I don’t really know if it can actually make a person happier, but as long as I enjoy doing it, it probably will work for me.

happify

Click to visit the website. They have an iPhone app, but I am using the website.

4) I found a really neat meditation app.  l’ve wanted to learn to meditate and get into a meditation habit for years now. YEARS. But, well, I suck at it. I have a couple books on meditation that I’ve never finished reading, and when I got a smart phone I downloaded a couple meditation apps that I never used for longer than a week at a time. Recently, I found a new meditation app that I really like. It’s called headspace. The free part of the app is a program called Take10. It’s a ten day track of guided meditation  (10 minutes each) for beginners. I started it a few weeks ago and then it fell by the wayside, but I really liked it, so I’m going to start it up again and complete the entire 10 days this time. 

Headspace

Click to visit the website. I’ve been using the android app.

5) I’ve started the Kinetic Revolution 30 day challenge. We’ve all heard how beneficial non-running activities can be for our running. I’m constantly reading about cross training, stretching, foam rolling, and other exercises that will make me faster, stronger, and less injury prone. Unfortunately, running is really the only activity I’m able to stick with (see above stretching streak failure). However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to start new habits. So when I heard about the Kinetic Revolution 30 day challenge, I got all excited and signed right up. It’s a series of exercises and drills aimed at runners to improve performance and reduce risk of injury. It’s supposed to take 10 to 15 minutes each day. I have completed day 1 so far, it took me 30 minutes (there were how to videos to watch, which added on time) and it was tough. It definitely pointed out some muscles that aren’t as flexible or strong as they should be. Also, I did day 1 on Tuesday, so clearly this will not be 30 consecutive days for me. Hopefully, that’s not a problem.

Kinetic30

Click here to visit the website.

Thanks for sticking with this long,dry Friday Five post. I’m sorry if this turned out a little ad-like. I really just wanted to make a list of the many challenges, programs, and habits I’ve been trying out recently. I wasn’t given anything in exchange for mention or review, this post is sponsored only by my crazy desire to do a million different streaks and challenges all at one time. 🙂 

Are you doing any streaks or challenges? Do you like to try and force a habit by doing it every day for a specified period of time? Have you tried out any of these things I mentioned, if so what do you think? Did you notice that my list has 6 things because I added a number 3.5? 

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Running and things…

I don’t want to write an organized blog post, so let’s just go with a list.  Nah, bullet points. –

* The Runner’s World Summer Run Streak is starting up next week. I still really want to do it even though I know it’s not a good idea.  This is how I will fix that: I will do a summer stretching streak…in lieu of running at least 1 mile every day from memorial day until July 4th, I will stretch every one of those days. Huzzah! I’ve solved it. Stay tuned for my progress…also, feel free to check up on me, stretching everyday is not as easy for me as running every day.

* Talking about a stretching streak has made me want to do other types of streaks too. Like a cleaning/decluttering streak, and a knitting streak, a blog streak, and a board game streak. I tend to go overboard.

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I knocked off the Runner’s World image with my crazy awesome paint skillz

* My sister had a BABY yesterday.  A little girl. I’m so excited to see them all in a couple weeks when I make the trip back to my hometown. Do you know what this means? Another potential family member to run turkey trots with (I know, I’m getting ahead of myself). What age is appropriate to buy a baby her first pair of running shoes? It’s older than two weeks, isn’t it?

* I haven’t run since last Thursday. It feels like FOREVER. Isn’t that funny? I mean it’s only been 5 days, but it still feels like a very long time.

* I “have” a fitbit flex. I mentioned it’s brokenness in another post a while ago. I downloaded a software update and it went bonkers. I contacted support and found out they couldn’t fix it. They had FedEx send me a shipping label. Eventually, after me asking multiple times, they explained that I should send parts of it back. Eventually, I did that. It was a ground label and took an entire week to get there. Finally yesterday (it’s been over a month since this started – thanks to their and my slowness), I got word that they will ship me a new one. Hurray! But wait, the color I currently have is out of stock. So, I get to wait until they get them in. Then I can wait another 5 to 9 days for it to get to me. I contacted them to see if I could get another color, but no response.  The color doesn’t matter. I didn’t have to send the strap back to them, I already HAVE the strap in the color that I’m waiting for them to get so they can send it.  Come on FITBIT! Don’t you know I have a problem with lack of patience?

* I want/need to run a five mile race. I haven’t run one in a long time. And I know I could PR easily.

* I save all of my race bibs. I didn’t do this on purpose from the start; one day I noticed that I had saved all my bibs, so I started doing it on purpose. Last Christmas my sister gave me a BibFolio to hold all my race bibs. I decided to use it for bibs from my PR races (I already have a binder full of bibs, and the BibFolio is not big enough to hold all the bibs I anticipate accumulating over my life time). I like it a lot.

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Bib’s on disply

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My 6.66 mile race PR. The Devil’s Chase is such a fun race. 🙂

 

* It turns out I didn’t actually save EVERY bib, and I’m missing the bib from my current 5 mile PR. So, now the BibFolio is missing a distance. See, I need to find a five mile race and set a PR. Until I do, my poor BibFolio will feel incomplete.

* I made a board game once, and it was really fun. For a few years, on and off, I’ve wanted to make another board game – a Harry Potter themed one. I’ve started working on the game, but haven’t really followed through. I recently got the idea to make some kind of running board game. But first, I must dust off and finish the Harry Potter one.

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Pieces of my HP board game board. Yes, this is a very involved board game. #GoBigOrGoHome #YOLO #BestBoardGameEver #HP4LIFE

* I’ve been taking Epsom salt baths. Well, I’ve taken 3 over the course of 4 or 5 weeks. I’m not sure exactly if they’re helping with leg soreness or whatever else they do, but it is relaxing. So, I’m going to keep it up. It’s certainly more enjoyable than an ice bath, that’s for sure!

Well, I’ve reached the end of my bullet points, thanks for hanging in there. Until next time…

 

My 2013 Running Year

My running year started out slow, but sometime around April I picked it up, and it ended up turning in to a fantastic year. Here’s a little recap:

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Black Cat

January/February/March – My main accomplishment in the beginning of the year was that I kept running. When it’s dark and cold, I have very little desire to leave the house. For motivation, I signed up for the Black Cat 10 miler, held in early March. And a 10 mile race looming in the future was just enough to keep me going. Including an 8 mile run during a blizzard!

April/May/June – After the race in March, I decided I was ready to consider another marathon. I added to and lengthened my training runs to make sure I would be committed to the training program.  Undertraining was my biggest issue last time, and I didn’t want that to happen again.  By June I was confident I could handle the training, and I signed up for the marathon.

July/August/September – The summer was dedicated to marathon training. These were good runs, but they were loooong and so so hot. I finished most of them feeling accomplished, but on occasion I also Imagefelt slow and there was one particularly rough run where I tripped and finished up with scrapes on my arm, leg, and palms.

October – At the end of the month, I finally got to run my marathon.  I had spent so long training, and was really really excited to finally do it. Although it wasn’t easy, my wonderful support team, cool sunny weather, and a flat beautiful course made it a great day for a run.  I ended up finishing with a > 50 min PR!

ImageNovember & December – I wrapped up the year with a handful of holiday races and the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak. The marathon was a terrific challenge and I’m looking forward to the next one, but nothing can compare to the fun of holiday races. Especially, when I get to run them with family 🙂

The Holiday Running Streak – I don’t feel like I need to recap this in too much detail, because it just happened. I had a great time, found it a lot easier to keep up than I thought, blogged about every run, and was surprised how difficult Fridays were! I enjoyed the streak, but by the end I was ready for it to be over. 

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Running on the Go – In addition to running on my home turf, Jeff and I were able to get in several great runs while traveling this summer and fall. We discovered City Running Tours, and went on an awesome tour of Chicago in July and another fun one of Washington DC in the fall. Also while in Chicago, we ran the lakefront trail, and while visiting Charleston, SC for my sister in law’s wedding we got to run the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge with the bride to be!

Races:

  • 01/01: Wicked Frosty Four – Salem, MA: 4 mi, 42:21 min, 10:35 min/mile
  • 03/02: Black Cat 10 Miler – Salem, MA: 10 mi, 1:46:00 hr:min, 10:36 min/mile
  • 10/13: B.A.A. Half Marathon – Boston, MA: 13.1 mi, 2:18:44 hr:min, 10:35 min/mile
  • 10/27: Niagara Falls MarathonBuffalo, NY & N.F., Ont.: 26.2 mi, 4:51:11 hr:min, 11:06 min/mile
  • 11/28: Holden Road Race – Holden, MA: 3.1 mi, 29:25 min, 9:29 min/mile
  • 12/01: Run-A-Latke 5k – Swampscott, MA: 3.1 mi, 27:19 min, 8:48 min/mile
  • 12/07: Reindeer Run 5k – Beverly, MA: 3.1 mi, 25:57 min, 8:22 min/mile

Total Mileage: 901.21 miles

All in all, I had a great 2013 and I’m looking forward to some more fun in 2014.

 

Wicked Frosty Four (Holiday Running Streak Day 36)

Day 36: Wicked Frosty Four: January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you all had a fun New Year’s Eve and are ready and excited for 2014.  I, for one,  love making resolutions, and can’t wait to get them all written down, planned out, and started 🙂  I’m thinking that sometime in the next week or so I’ll do a post with a 2013 re-cap and a 2014 running resolution list, but for now: a race re-cap!

2014-01-01 09.58.27At 10 AM this morning, Jeff and I lined up with all the other serious crazy runners who wanted to start the New Year off the funnest way we know how: Running!

It was a beautiful morning, but oh so cold! When we left the house it was only 17F, but my phone told me that it would be 21F by the time the gun went off.  It wasn’t really the temperature that made it so cold, it was the wind.  Luckily, we got there just before ten, so we didn’t have to wait too long for the race to start, and once we started running, the temperature wasn’t really a problem any more.

Last year, we decided to do this race last minute and without any particular goal in mind. I thought it would be fun to try and push myself a little and then do it again a year later and compare.  Well, it’s been a good year for me in terms of running, and it was great to see the difference in my time between this year and last.

Like last year, I didn’t run all out, but I did push myself.  I took the first mile “easy” to get warmed up, and prevent myself from going out fast.  No matter how easy I think I’m running the first mile of a race, it’s always faster than I think.  This one we finished in 9:22.

After the 1st mile, we picked it up a bit.  The second mile had a few hills – it’s funny, we run part of this course in reverse on a regular basis, and one of the uphills we did today I had never noticed before as a downhill.  I guess that explains why I always start feeling good at that point when I’m going the other direction – haha.  In spite of the hills, we finished mile 2 in about 9:17.

Mile 3 we continued to keep pace, we had run through downtown Salem in the early miles, passed the harbor and the House of Seven Gables, and were now running by the water and in more residential areas. We held on through a few more hills, and finished in 9:15.

Mile 4 started on an uphill, but once we reached the top we picked up the pace in order to finish strong.  At one point during the last mile, a woman in a car pulled out into the middle of the race and was driving alongside all the runners. It was a bit obnoxious, but the idea that I was “running faster than a car!” gave me a little boost. 🙂  Once the car got out of our way, we had about a quarter mile to go (and another little hill), and we pushed through to finish in exactly 36 minutes.  I’ll have to check my watch, but we must have been pretty speedy in that last mile to finish with an average of 9 minute miles!

Last year, our final time was 42:21 (10:35/mile), so this year was a significant improvement!  And because this is an uncommon race distance, a personal record by over 6 minutes!  A great end to the run streak and a nice way to start the New Year!

2013 Holiday Running Streak – Long Run & Exploring Fort Pickering

Day 32:  December 28th 

On Saturday, Jeff and I did a long run out to Winter Island in Salem. This is a fairly normal route for us, but we usually turn around at the entrance to the park. This time we ran in and looked around a little. I tried to do some exploring myself on one of my long runs over the summer, but a lot of people camp on the island in the summer, and it was too busy that day to make it fun. Exploring this weekend was way better.  We saw an ammunition bunker, a creepy gated off stairwell, and the Fort Pickering Light. I would probably know more about some of these things but the signs were all covered in snow & ice.

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Fort Pickering Light

Luckily, I did some “research” (aka: google search), so I can give you a little info on Winter Island and Fort Pickering. Winter Island was first settled in 1637 and construction on the fort started 1643.  Originally, the fort was called Fort William and later Fort Anne (after a King and Queen of England), but was renamed to Fort Pickering in 1799. It was named after a Salem native who later became Secretary of State, which was way more American and Patriotic than being named after an English Monarch.

The Fort was occupied during the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and the Civil War.  As far as I can tell, there were no battles, skirmishes, or the like. However, it was rebuilt a few times.  I suppose it could just be normal fort wear and tear, but really who knows…feel free to use your imagination (it’s history, no need to be factual, right?)

Okay, enough about the Fort, let’s get to the interesting part: The Lighthouse.  It was first lit in 1871.  I’m not sure who lit it because there is no mention of lighthouse keepers until 1882.  That’s when this guy, John Harris, took the job. And he was keeper there for 37 years.  37 years!  And in that whole time he took only 5 nights off!  That’s it, just 5 nights…talk about a workaholic. Also, there were no shipwrecks that whole time…way to light that light John Harris!

After Harris retired, the coastguard tended the light until they left the Island in 1965. At that point the light went dark for nearly 20 years until 1983 when it came back on as a private aid to navigation.  It got it’s latest update in 1995 when the light was upgraded to be solar powered.

For more information (there may have been an alien invasion), and where I got mine: http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=481 and http://www.salemweb.com/tales/shoreline.shtml

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Day 33 – 35:  December 29th – December 31st

These 3 runs were a lot less interesting than Saturday’s, but they added to my streak, and with today’s run I just surpassed my yearly mileage goal of 900 miles!  Tomorrow’s the last day of the streak…WAHOO!!!!!

Holiday Running Streak: Christmas Week!

Days 26 – 31: December 22nd – 27th

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Merry Christmas!

Part 1: The Running

Jeff and I spent the week of Christmas in North Tonawanda with my family.  In between all the eating, gifts, and games, I was able to squeeze in my minimum 1 mile per day for the streak.  Aside from 12/22, the day before we left, I kept my runs for the week all under 2 miles.

12/22 was my first “long” run in a while.  We did 6 miles, heading over the bridge into Salem for the first time in a few weeks.  I had a bit of a tough time on the long gradual uphill about halfway through the run, but I was able to pull it together and finish strong. I’ve been going faster lately, but I still can’t believe that my long runs a couple months ago were 20+ miles long…how on earth did I do that?  I was tuckered out after my 6 mile run, and I think it was a good thing to have a bit of a rest for the next 5 days.

There are two adjectives to describe running in North Tonawanda:  flat and snowy!  Yes, I’ve had a couple snowy runs in Beverly, but it snowed EVERY SINGLE DAY we were there.  🙂  While I generally enjoy running in the snow and I wouldn’t want to run on Christmas without it, it can be kind of a drag after a while. It requires a lot of focus to not slip and fall, and it’s rather slow going.  Lucky for me, my mom has a treadmill, and  I did my 1st two indoor runs of the streak.

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Snowy Shoes

I was driven inside by the fact that I didn’t get around to running until after dark on Thursday, and I didn’t bring any of my running in the dark gear.  I had to improvise a bit with clothing (I only brought outdoor gear), but it was only a mile so no need to be picky.  I really don’t mind running on the treadmill, and it was WAY faster.  In addition to eliminating slipping and sliding in the snow, it really cut down on my prep time.  With the multiple layers, hat, mittens, and waiting for a signal on my GPS watch; it actually takes me longer to prepare to run a mile outdoors than to physically do it.

Part 2: The Running Gifts!

What kind of Christmas post would this be if  I didn’t tell you all about the  awesome running related gifts I got for Christmas?

  •  Knuckle Lights – We cheated a little and Jeff gave these to me before Christmas. They are awesome!  The battery on my head lamp is dying, but even before that, these are so so so much brighter.  And having the light in my hand (I’ve only used one at a time so far) gives me more control and is much more comfortable than wearing the head lamp.

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    Christmas Morning Run!

  • Running Journal – On the Saturday before Christmas, Jeff gave me another running gift: a running journal. I have been thinking about using one for a while, and now I have one!  I haven’t had much of a chance to check this out too much yet, but I’m hoping to sit down and go through it before the New Year.  You know, get a plan together for my new year’s resolutions.
  • Race Bib Holder Thingy –  My sister found this one, it’s called a BibFOLIO.  I haven’t set it up yet, but I think it looks like a pretty neat idea. It holds your race bibs, and I have a lot of those! I think I’ll use it for special ones – maybe PR races? Pictures to come when I get it all set up.
  • Swirlgear Running Jacket – I got this gift from my cousin in law, Kaseedee, who is an ambassador for Swirlgear.  I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but she swears by their stuff, so I have high expectations. (Side note: check out her facebook page for fitness tips and product recommendations)
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My New Kicks!

  • Newton Boca AT Sneakers – These were on my wish list to Santa.  Actually, Jeff and I both asked for sneakers for Christmas, but when we got to my mom’s house there was only one shoe shaped box under the tree…and, it didn’t have my name on it!  So, imagine my surprise when I opened a Victoria’s Secret box to find these inside!  I’ve taken them out a few times, and so far so good.  They are my 3rd pair of Newtons, and my first pair of trail shoes.  To be honest, I don’t really ever plan on running on trails, but they’re waterproof (aka: snow, rain, puddle, sleet proof), so I had to have them.  🙂

P.S. I made this cool collage of pictures from Christmas. I’m not sure why it’s so tiny (???), but it was fun…so, enjoy!

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2013 Holiday Running Streak: Running in the Snow and Ice

Days 17 – 23: December 14th – 19th

randy-snow-suit-a-christmas-story-2 Well, I’ve finally gotten used to running in the cold.  It’s not so bad, really.  You just need to know how to dress. Running clothes are stretchy, so you can always just throw on another shirt.  Unfortunately, when I’ve got 4 shirts on and two pairs of pants, I kind of start to feel like Randy from A Christmas Story.

Bending my elbows and knees is a little restricting, but hey, who needs full range of motion when they’re running? haha It’s actually not really a big deal when you’re going at half speed in order to not slip on ice, so everything pretty much works out.

This week, we got our first real snowfall of the season, and although I kept being told I was crazy; I still think running in the snow is a great time!  And truly, much safer than a) running on black ice b) driving through the snow to the treadmill at the gym.  Plus, it’s warmer when it’s snowing, so I got to go back to wearing only 2 shirts and I single pair of pants.  🙂

Don’t believe me that running in the snow is magical?, maybe some pictures will change your mind:

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