100 Days of Running

Reflections on 100 days of running.

My run streak reached 100 days last Wednesday (and is still going strong—day 108 today)! If you had told me 100+ days ago that I’d run 100 days in a row, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

I’ve accomplished so much over the past 100 days. I’ve run two 5ks (and PR’d in the second!). My pace has improved. I’ve pushed my limits on speed and distance. I’ve learned when it’s time to take it easy.

Most importantly, I’ve learned my body is capable of far more than I give it credit for. This run streak started because of my shoulder injury, which was keeping me from doing yoga and lifting weights. In fact, I had stopped exercising regularly altogether after my shoulder injury.

My run streak added much-needed regular exercise back into my life. It reminded me to be grateful for what I am capable of rather than dwelling on all the things I can’t do.

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The face of someone who spent the last 100 days running!

I have no idea if I’ve lost weight. (My clothes aren’t fitting much looser, so probably not.) But the weight loss (or lack of) doesn’t matter. I feel better. My mind is clearer. My body hurts the way it should after exercise.

Running every day has made me want to improve other aspects of my life, too. I’m trying to make my way back to eating mostly paleo (and I’m planning to do the January Whole30!). I’m trying to make my sleep a priority so I’m rested enough to run every day. And I’m making more time in my days for quiet reflection and journaling.

These 100 days haven’t been easy (I’ve been harassed twice now), but they’ve been 100% worth it. I don’t have any specific run streak goals. I just want to keep the streak alive for as long as possible. I do have plans to run a 10k and half marathon in 2018, though. Stay tuned for my posts reflecting on 2017 and all my goals for 2018!

Have you ever tried a running streak? (Or any other type of streak?) How did it go and how long did it last? Let me know in the comments!

Turkey Trot Recap

PR’d the heck out of my Turkey Trot this year!

IMG_2561.jpgHey there! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! I started the Thanksgiving holiday off by going to see Rudolph at The Fox the night before with our nieces. It wasn’t nearly as awful as this self-proclaimed Grinch expected, and our nieces loved it.

The next morning, I ran my second Turkey Trot 5k, which was my second race (and 5k) of the year. They moved the race from one of the area high schools to SIUE, so things were a little unorganized compared with last year. The race didn’t start on time, which made me anxious since we had to bet at my in-laws’ for lunch in just a few hours.

Once the race started, though, I felt pretty good. I intentionally started off a little slow so I wouldn’t lose steam by the end of the race. When I checked my pace after mile 1, though, it was at about 10:15. That was much faster than I expected, so I slowed down a little more. Mid-race there was no shade, so I started to get warm. I pulled off my gloves and my ear muffs (which is really like a big headband I wear over my ears…I don’t know what those are called).

My second mile ended up being a little slower, but not by much. I was still well under an 11-minute pace. Around this time the relatively flat course began a slight incline. There weren’t any hills. It was just a slight incline that persisted for most of mile 3. It was brutal.

IMG_2564.jpgAs I approached the finish line, the clock said something along the lines of 34:45. I was determined to finish under 35 minutes since I was so close. I picked up my pace, huffing and puffing the rest of the way across the finish line. I immediately used my inhaler (my asthma is the worst when the weather is cold).

My husband (aka the best cheering squad ever) took my picture as I crossed the finish line. A minute or so after I met up with him, I got a text with my race results. Although the clock was at 34-something as I crossed the finish line, my official course time was 33:20. That’s a full 3 minutes faster than my last 5k! It’s also two minutes faster than last year’s turkey trot.

I am so, so proud of myself. I’ve got an almost 100-day run streak going and it’s been hard to really see progress day to day because my pace seems to fluctuate a lot. This race showed me I am improving, even if progress is slow.

IMG_2568.jpgAfter the race, we went home to shower and then went over to my in-laws’ house for lunch. We ate turkey, drank beer, and looked through the Black Friday ads with our nieces.

Later, we went to visit my grandpa in the nursing home and then went over to my aunt and uncle’s house for dessert. All in all, it was a good day.

Over the weekend, we got our house decorated for Christmas and I went to another Thanksgiving get together with my mom’s family.

It was a weekend full of PR’s, good food, family, and friends. It was crazy and hectic and a little stressful, but it was a great way to kick off the holidays.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Did any of you run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving? How’d it go?

 

Race to the Shrine 5K Recap & Other Updates

Find out if I PR’d in my most recent race and what I found out about my shoulder.

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Another race, another medal.

I ran my first race of the year on Saturday! The weather was perfect and the course was hilly.

After 60+ days of running, I expected to do a little better than I did. I was disappointed in my pace and overall time. My official race time was 36:57 with a pace of 11:54.

Despite being disappointed in my time/pace, I was proud that I only stopped to walk twice, and that was at two of the water stations. Aside from that, I kept on running—something I don’t think I’ve ever done before.

Although I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I know why. I haven’t been pushing myself lately. Part of that is from pure exhaustion (4:30 a.m. wakeup calls from a 5-month-old puppy are ruff rough). But it’s also because I’ve been kinda lazy. I haven’t wanted to put in the work.

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Penny, Copper, & Me. They suck at selfies.

I haven’t pushed myself much to improve my speed. And I haven’t been taking the time on weekends to run longer distances. Finding the time to get enough sleep and run more than a mile has been really difficult lately.

That’s all changing as we speak, though. You see, I quit my job yesterday (for reasons I won’t discuss here). So until I find another job, I’m back to freelancing, which is definitely not the worst thing.

Basically, now I get to make my own schedule again. So if I want to go run a 5K in the middle of the week instead of on the weekend, I can. While this certainly isn’t how I wanted things to happen, I’m going to make the best of it.

It will give me the opportunity to find the perfect job, while also prioritizing my health and my goals.

Speaking of health, I got the results back from my MRI on my shoulder. Fortunately (I think), there was nothing visibly wrong with it. My doctor said it’s possible there’s a microscopic tear the MRI didn’t pick up, but the only way to find out is through surgery.

She recommended I continue taking anti-inflammatory meds and doing strengthening exercises and that we only consider surgery if it continues to not improve, or gets worse.

Obviously, something like surgery is out of the question anyway since I quit my job, but I wasn’t really considering surgery to begin with. I’m frustrated that I have no real solution for my pain, but I’m also relieved it doesn’t require surgery (at least not yet).

So there you have it. No race PR (unless you count not stopping to walk as a PR), no job, and no solutions for my shoulder.

It all sounds rather negative. And just a few short months ago, all this probably would have been devastating to me. Right now, though, I feel like I’m in a really good place. I’m only looking at the positives of all this.

Not getting a PR means I can improve before my next race (Turkey Trot). Quitting my job means I’m creating space in my life for a much better opportunity, whatever that may be. And having a negative MRI means I can heal my shoulder on my own, without painful and expensive surgery.

What’s going on in your world this week? Any recent PRs? How do you handle negative issues and tough situations?

 

30 Thoughts I Had While Running for 30 Days

What it’s like to run at least a mile every day for 30 days.

My run streak is alive and well! I hit a milestone this past Monday—30 straight days of running at least 1 mile per day. Below are some of the thoughts I had along the way (in no particular order):

  1. This is hard, I can’t breathe, my legs hurt, I’m dying.
  2. It’s only a mile.
  3. I hate getting up early…but check out that gorgeous sunrise. #blessed
  4. That run was awesome—decent pace and I didn’t die!
  5. My pace is improving. I’m still as slow as a turtle, but small improvements are still worth celebrating.
  6. Holy cow I just PR’d with an 8.25 pace! Is that even right? It doesn’t seem right. If I post about this, will I have to keep running that fast?
  7. Early mornings aren’t so bad, I guess.
  8. I’m starving.
  9. Why does my foot/knee/calf/whatever hurt today?
  10. See #1.
  11. I should probably change up my route/distance.
  12. Maybe I’ll try intervals.
  13. Why is my neighborhood so hilly?!
  14. I shouldn’t drink/eat this; I have to run in the morning. *eats/drinks whatever it was and regrets it the next day*
  15. I want to run that race. Oops, missed the registration. Maybe I’ll run these 5ks instead. I’ll sign up later. *still has not registered*
  16. I totally want to run a half marathon next year.
  17. How am I going to run a half marathon when I can barely survive a mile?!
  18. A marathon sounds cool, but having to stop for bathroom breaks in the middle of a run sounds terrible.
  19. I really need another sports bra.
  20. Why are my shoes falling apart after less than 200 miles?! *procrastinates shoe shopping*
  21. I should by new shorts/capris since mine all have holes. Thanks chub rub.
  22. It’ll be cold soon, I don’t need new shorts/capris.
  23. What the hell am I supposed to look at while I’m on the treadmill? Also, don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall.
  24. I wish I had more time to run in the mornings before work so I could go to parks and such.
  25. Why don’t I go run in a park this weekend? *is too lazy to drive somewhere to run*
  26. It would save me so much time if I could just wear my running clothes all day.
  27. This post-run hair is a frizzy mess. *shrugs and goes to work anyway*
  28. See #1.
  29. How do people run at a “conversational” pace? If I go slow enough to talk, I’m walking.
  30. Woah. I ran every day for 30 days! This feels awesome!

At the time of this post, I’ve extended the run streak to 33 days, and I plan to keep going for as long as my body will let me. And I’m looking forward to the day when I can carry on a conversation while running, or when a mile is just my warmup for a longer run or another workout.

How many of you have had similar thoughts while running—or doing any other type of exercise? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Jaybird Freedom Wireless Earbuds

It’s been quite a while since my last post. Exciting things have been happening in my corner of the world (I’ll get to those in my next post). A while back, I started having some trouble with my wireless Jaybird X2 earbuds. Despite being fully charged, I couldn’t get them to turn on. After charging them multiple times, I finally got them to turn on, so I went for a run. The next time I went to use them, I had the same problem.

I emailed Jaybird’s customer support about the issue. Since none of the “try this or that” they had recommended worked, they offered to replace my X2s, but since those were out of stock, they told me they’d be sending me the Freedom earbuds instead. Before agreeing, I did a lot of research to make sure what I was getting would at least be comparable to what I had.

Then, in order to get the new earbuds shipped, I had to cut the cord on my X2s. Let me tell you, this was a nerve-wracking experience. My thoughts were racing: “What if I accidentally emailed the wrong place and this was all some sick joke and I’m just out the money I spent? What if one of their customer service reps is pissed off and taking it out on me?” I did it anyway, because there was no way I was going to get those X2s to work consistently ever again. After sending them a picture confirming I had cut the wire, they notified me the Freedom earbuds would be on the way.

I received the Freedoms relatively quick and so far, I am extremely happy with them. They are much smaller than the X2s. Plus, the ear fins, which are designed to keep the earbuds securely in your ears, come in several more (smaller!) sizes, so I was able to use the extra small ones! The foam tips are also much, much nicer with the Freedoms.

You can see a comparison between the two in the pic below:

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Freedoms on the left, X2s (with cut cord) on the right.

You can see how much smaller the Freedoms are. The control panel (?) is a bit bigger and heavier, and that box next to the controls on the Freedoms is a battery pack. I haven’t tried running with that, because I think it would add too much weight. So far my biggest issue with the Freedoms is trying to find a good cord length for me. It comes with these tabs so you can shorten the cord. I’ve tried it almost as short as it goes, which was uncomfortable. I also tried an in-between length, but it would catch every time I turned my head to check before running across an intersection. I’ve tried running twice now with the cord as-is without the tabs, but that made the control panel bounce around too much, so I’m still trying to find a happy-medium with that.

Aside from the cord length, I’ve been extremely happy with these earbuds. They block out the sound really well (almost too well to be safe), fit comfortably, and most importantly, they stay put! They are small and discreet, so I don’t feel like a total dork walking around in these. If you’re looking for new (or your first) wireless earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the Freedoms. They are a little more expensive than the X2s (and I was fortunate enough to get the X2s on sale), but I think it’s worth it, especially if you struggle with earbuds fitting your ears like I do. I’m actually not sure you can still buy the X2s–I think they’ve been replaced with the X3s. But there’s about $20 difference between the X3s and the Freedoms, which is definitely worth it to have better-fitting earbuds.

As always, thanks for reading!

-AB

*Please note that this is not a paid review.

12 Goals for 2017

In my last post, I talked about how I felt about my goals for 2016. For 2017, I’ve come up with 12 goals to focus on. I’m debating focusing on one per month (better get started if so!). I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about picking a “word of the year”. I though a lot about it. I made a list of goals and words, but I just couldn’t pick any single word for my year. The ones that most stood out were Grow, Simplify, and Explore. I suppose I could say “screw it” and have three words. For now, I’ll just stick to my goals:

  1. Continue strength training. Since starting the Harder to Kill Challenge back in October, I’ve been strength training at least a couple times a week. It has really made a difference in how I feel and it’s something I want to continue this year.
  2. Practice more yoga. I’m currently participating in the Yoga Revolution challenge by Yoga with Adriene. It’s 31 days of yoga for the month of January. So far, I’ve done yoga every single day, and hope I can continue without breaking the streak.I really want to grow in my practice and I’ve considered looking into teaching.
  3. Travel more. My husband and I finally created a dedicated savings account for vacations and we’ve been fairly successful about building that up. We’re hoping to plan a trip this spring (location TBD), and maybe another, shorter trip this fall.
  4. Write more. I’m a writer. As in that’s my job; it’s what I get paid to do. And that’s completely awesome. Except that it sometimes means I don’t get around to blogging or doing the creative writing I want to do. I announced more than a year ago that I intended to write a book, but I’ve made very little progress with it. My goal this year is to make some progress.
  5. Read at least one book per month. That’s at least 12 books this year (and at least 12 reviews over on my other blog, Black Coffee Books). I’m hoping to exceed this goal, but I never seem to achieve the loftier 25 or 50 books a year. So maybe by setting a smaller one, I can surpass it and feel proud of my accomplishments.
  6. Create a business plan. I haven’t officially announced this one yet! But my husband and I are seriously discussing opening our own business in the next couple years. So my current goal is to figure out the start-up costs and create the business plan.
  7. Volunteer more. Although I had planned to volunteer last year, I never actually did. This year, I really want to become more involved in the things that matter to me. I want to look into volunteering at the library and maybe participate in a community clean-up event.
  8. Increase sustainability. By the end of last year, we were using cloth napkins pretty much exclusively in our home. My goal for this year is to continue finding ways to be more sustainable and create less waste. I got an amazing Starbucks travel mug for Christmas that I intend to start taking with me to the coffee shop so I’m not using paper cups as often. We’re also still using paper towels (although much less so now), so I want to find ways to reduce our dependence on those as well.
  9. Minimalism. Along the same lines of sustainability, I also want to focus on minimalism. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff we have. I want to be more mindful this year about the things I choose to buy and bring into my home. Is it something we really need? Are there other things I can get rid of to make space for the new? I’m also really intrigued by capsule wardrobes, but haven’t quite managed to start one. Maybe 2017 will be the year of the capsule wardrobe.
  10. Focus on my marriage. I want to have the best marriage we can possibly have, so I want to do what it takes to improve our communication and other aspects of our relationship. I think doing so will go a long way in our happiness for the year and in the long run.
  11. Spend less time on social media. I’m as guilty of it as everyone else. I check social media every free chance I get (and sometimes when I’m really not free to do so). I only half-listen to things my husband tells me if I’m scrolling through Facebook while he’s talking. It has interfered with my work and frankly, it’s just exhausting. I get more and more frustrated with it every single day. I think at some point in the very near future I’m going to take a hiatus from social media. If/when I return, I plan to severely limit the time I spend on those sites.
  12. Spend more time outside. Because I work from home, I never have to leave the house (which is totally awesome sometimes). Of course, right now, it’s freezing outside and I don’t want to leave the house. However, I know it’s definitely not good to stay cooped up inside all the time. So I really want to make more of an effort to get outside when I can (especially if the weather is nice). I want to go on a few hikes this year, and I need to get back into taking my dog for nice long walks.

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Somehow, running didn’t make my top 12 goals! I do have some running goals this year though! I want to run a few more 5ks and potentially run my first 10k sometime this fall (before it gets too cold). Right now, I’m focusing on yoga and strength training because I refuse to run when the temps are below freezing. I think both of these will help me ease back into running when the time comes.

What are your goals for 2017?

As always, thanks for reading.

-AB

Reflections on 2016

Just before the start of the new year, I blogged about my goals for 2016. Below are my 2016 goals and how I feel about them. I’ll be doing a separate post on my goals for 2017.

  1. Eat Healthy. I feel like this has improved, especially since we moved back to St. Louis. While we were in Dallas for the first part of the year, I feel like we almost felt like we were on vacation (at least when it came to food). Trying new restaurants and finding new places we loved was one of the more exciting things about our new city. Unfortunately, most of those restaurants served less than ideal foods. After we moved back to St. Louis, I feel like I turned things around with my diet. I have still struggled at finding the right balance with my food sensitivities, but lately, I feel like I’ve been doing well.
  2. Be Active. I improved in this area immensely. While we were living in Dallas and I was unemployed, Copper and I were going on at least two walks a day. Most of these walks were two to three miles. In one month, we walked over 100 miles together. On top of that, Chris got me a yoga membership for Christmas last year, so I was taking classes several times a week. After we moved back to St. Louis, I got sick, so it took me more than a month to get back into an exercise routine. But I started going to yoga twice a week again. Then I ran my first and second 5ks of the year and also started strength training thanks to the Harder to Kill Challenge. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in the last half of the year and hope to continue my progress in strength and running in the coming year.
  3. Read More. I’m not quite where I wanted to be with this goal. I read intermittently while we were in Dallas. After I started my copywriting gig, it became more and more difficult to have the energy to read after work. Once we moved back to St. Louis, I got back with my book club and am in the midst of my second book with them. In an attempt to read more, I started a book review blog. I have not yet reviewed any books, though.
  4. Unplug More Often. I’ve made some progress here, but not a ton. I really struggled to sleep in Dallas, due to living in a noisy apartment complex in a noisy neighborhood (a mere two-ish miles from the airport!). So I tried to stop checking my phone after a certain time. I tried reading before bed. Nothing ever really worked. I finally started sleeping better once we moved back home. I’m still trying to limit my time on my phone and checking social media, especially. I think in 2017 I’m going to do a social media detox, at least for a while. It has become overwhelming in recent months and I want to spend less time there.
  5. Be Present. This one was connected to my goal to unplug. In unplugging, I aimed to be more present. I have tried to avoid checking my phone during meals and at family gatherings, but I don’t always succeed. Lately, I’ve also tried to limit my phone use even when I’m eating alone. This is another goal that will take some more work in the coming year.
  6. Drink More Water and Tea. I wanted to drink more water and tea and less alcohol. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve really succeeded or not. In most cases, I’m at least a little bit more mindful of when and what I drink. If I’m going to drink a beer, it’s going to be a really good craft beer that’s totally worth it. I do drink a lot more tea than I used to, which I have really enjoyed. Lately I’ve been trying to drink a cup of tea before bed to help me wind down at the end of the day.
  7. Be Kinder to Myself and Others. I’ve been pretty successful with this one, especially after moving back to St. Louis. I have taken more time to be kind to myself by doing yoga, finding ways to re-energize, and get rest. I went on a day-long yoga retreat in early November and participated in the Harder to Kill Challenge. Being kind to myself has always been difficult, but I think I’ve made some great strides in how I think and speak to and about myself.
  8. Have Better Relationships. This one tied in with unplugging, being present, and being kinder. It was especially important to me to stay connected with family and friends after we moved to Dallas. I made more of an effort to send cards to friends and family for birthdays and holidays. And although it was difficult, I tried to make a point to call people more, like my parents and grandma, (I know this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I really don’t enjoy talking on the phone). Our time in Dallas was pretty challenging as a newly married couple, but I think we are better now having gone through that experience together.  
  9. Budget: Reduce Debt, Increase Savings. I had lofty goals with this one. I did, thankfully, make some small gains here, though. We paid off only one credit card debt this year. We did, however, increase our savings. In fact, just a few months ago, we opened up two more savings accounts. We now have an emergency savings, as well as one for car repairs and home renovations, and one for vacations. We had an unexpected expense come up about a month ago, and it felt good knowing we had enough in savings to cover it. It sucked using it since it had taken quite a while to build it up, but thankfully, we didn’t have to use it all. So now we’re working on building the emergency savings back up to where it was and beyond. I’m hoping to really hit our debts hard in 2017 and make a bigger impact there. It felt really, really great getting that first card paid off, so I want to continue that momentum in the coming year.
  10. Write More. This wound up being a big success and not much of a success all in one. I got a job as a freelance copywriter, so writing is currently my full time job. I spend between six and eight hours a day writing. I also did a fairly decent job of maintaining my previous blog back when we were in Dallas. After we moved to St. Louis, I really lost the motivation because I was sick and trying to get everything unpacked and get readjusted. On the creative side, I have not written much of anything this year. I have had plans to write a memoir, and I still want to do so, but I made very little, if any, progress on it this year. I’d really love to get into the habit of writing for pleasure a little every day in the next year.
  11. Find a Job I Love. Well, I get to write every day, and when people ask, I get to tell them I’m a writer. I get paid to write. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. Freelancing has its own challenges though. Dealing with taxes and health insurance is all frustrating and overwhelming. And although I do have a steady gig right now, the pay is not the same from month to month, which makes number nine on this list more difficult. Overall though, I do enjoy the work I do, so we’ll call this one a win.

Those were my primary goals for 2016. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. What were your goals for 2016? Where did you succeed and where did you struggle?

I’ll be back soon with another post about my 2017 goals–stay tuned!

-AB