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?

 

Run Streak Day 76: The Day I Was Harassed by a Group of Teenage Boys

Running and sexual harassment.

I’m on day 78 of my run streak. I’ve been running semi-regularly since college. In all that time, I’ve never experienced any harassment (while running) as awful as what I experienced the other day.

The weather on Sunday was warm, so rather than just doing a mile, I figured I’d take advantage of the warmer temps and do a 5k instead. I think my neighborhood is relatively safe. I run by myself regularly at almost any time but late at night. I don’t carry mace, mostly because I don’t want another thing taking up space in my pockets. That, and I’m also (probably) unnecessarily worried I’ll accidentally mace myself. All I carry with me on my runs are my phone and keys.

I used to run with my oldest dog, Copper, but her constant stops and starts for potty breaks made it harder, and she’s not great on longer distances. Plus, when we got our puppy, Penny, I didn’t feel like it was fair to take one and not the other (and you’re not supposed to run with dogs until they’re a year old or so). I did always feel a little safer having Copper with me, though, despite not being that intimidating.

On Sunday, about halfway through my run, I saw a group of teenage boys up ahead. I slowed my pace down and tried to count them. I counted at least 7, but there were probably 10 or more. A couple of them were bouncing basketballs, so I hoped they were going to the nearby school to play basketball.

I was hoping that by slowing down they’d eventually turn toward the school and I could keep going. But they kept stopping and starting again, so I had to make a decision: Either run through them, or cross the street and try to run past them. I crossed the street.

I didn’t pick up my pace enough, though, so we reached the next intersection at the same time. Rather than them continuing straight or turning right toward the school, they turned left—toward me. I tried to run past them, but ended up running through them anyway.

As I did, they started murmuring comments, most of which I didn’t hear. I heard two distinct comments, though, as I ran past. One was “Damn, mama.” The other: “Let me eat that pussy.” I kept going, pretending I didn’t hear them. When I was sure none of them had followed me and they had moved on, I stopped. I cried.

A million thoughts raced through my mind. Those were teenage boys. The oldest in the group couldn’t have been more than 15. Some looked as young as 10. And those are the things they thought were appropriate to yell out to a woman running down the street.

I was angry. Frustrated. Embarrassed and ashamed, even. There I was, middle of the day on a Sunday, just trying to get my run in and push myself to run farther than normal. I wasn’t wearing anything revealing. My outfit consisted of capris and a t-shirt. I did nothing to provoke them (unless they were upset that I crossed the street to try to avoid them).

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced harassment on a run. I’ve been honked at and stared at. I’ve occasionally had guys yells things at me, usually from a car as they drove by. But I’ve never experienced anything as bad as this.

I struggled to finish my run after that. I was fighting back tears and trying my hardest to breathe. I had to walk a couple more times after that. I finished the run about a minute faster than the pace of my last 5k. I should have been proud of that PR. Instead, I was angry that I was forced to stop at all. How much faster could I have finished if that hadn’t happened? Instead of being excited about my improved pace, I was angry they kept me from doing better.

Of course, the anger, coupled with the shame and embarrassment, was followed by blame and thoughts of “What could I have done differently?” I could carry mace, but that wouldn’t do any good with a group that size. My dog may have been a better deterrent in this case, but even that’s questionable.

Regardless, none of them touched me, or made any attempt to (as far as I know). Macing someone for making comments as they pass by is probably an overreaction.

Two days later, I still feel uneasy. I’m still trying to figure out what I can do to keep myself safe when running by myself. At the same time, I’m entirely frustrated that these are things I have to think about at all.

Why should I need to carry mace or run with an 80-pound dog? Why are women forced to constantly find ways to protect themselves from predatory men (and boys)? Why are we not teaching our sons that harassment is not okay?

Instead, female runners (and women in general), have to think:

Is this area safe enough for me to run alone? 

Is this area well-lit enough for early morning or late evening runs? 

Is my phone fully charged in case I need to call someone in an emergency? 

Should I skip the music for this run so I am 100% aware of my surroundings? 

Will I have enough energy to fight back or run away if I’m attacked half-way through my run? 

Do I have anything I can use as a weapon if necessary (i.e. keys, mace, etc.)?

These are just a few of the things women have to think about every time they go out for a run. Men rarely (if ever) worry about these things when they run (or go out drinking with friends, or go shopping late in the evening).

I could write about this topic for days, but I’ll leave you with a couple questions:

What safety precautions do you take when you go out for a run? Do you carry mace? What would you have done in my situation? 

If you have sons (or little brothers or nephews or cousins, etc.), do you intend to teach them what harassment is and that it’s not okay? Will you also teach them how to recognize harassment and stop others from doing it? 

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!

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

Turkey Trot Recap

I wanted to write this a little sooner, but things have been busy with the holidays. Last Thursday on Thanksgiving I woke up early and we drove out to Edwardsville so I could run in their Turkey Trot 5k. It was my first ever Turkey Trot. Why Edwardsville? Because Chris’s company was sponsoring the race. Plus I figured the course would be much flatter than the ones closer to home!

Unfortunately, it was a bit colder in Edwardsville than it was in Florissant, but once I started running, it wasn’t so bad. They had a wave start based on your estimated pace and finish time. I was one of the last groups to go, lol. Thankfully, I was right, and the course was pretty flat. It ran along a trail in town that was a little narrow, but fine otherwise. The course also went through parts of SIUE. There was one BIG hill during that part of the race, somewhere in mile 2, I think.

After that, it was pretty flat and smooth. I managed to keep my pace under 12 minutes/mile throughout the entire race. My official time was 35:53 and my official pace was 11:35. I don’t remember my official time or pace from my last 5k in October, but my time was around 38 minutes. So I improved quite a bit in just one month’s time.

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Pre-Turkey Trot

The rest of Thanksgiving was spent with family. We had lunch with Chris’s family and dessert later with my family. I did not attempt to eat paleo or Whole30 at either of those meals. But I was mindful of what I ate. I ate some of the mac ‘n cheese I made, along with turkey, stuffing, salad, and a sweet potato. Chris’s mom made pecan pie and that’s one of my favorites, and I only get it once a year. So I had some pie. Worth it.

I ate gluten and I ate dairy. And I probably ate eggs in some form. I felt okay afterward. I got back to eating paleo this week and have felt much better. I’ve been avoiding eggs, dairy, and gluten in particular. I even remembered not to eat the skin on my baked potato yesterday. It’s not perfect, but it’s practical 😉

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I’ll be back soon to tell you all about my Harder to Kill Challenge, as it will be wrapping up this weekend!

-AB