Balance= Hard Work and Sacrifice

I have been looking SO forward to this week’s TiaRT because time and balance are things I really work hard to maintain.  I am a firm believer that devotion to anything leads to sacrifice of something.  It is not easy, but it is worth it.

This week’s TiaRT theme is … Time and Balance.  One of the continuing challenges we hear from runners is finding the time to run and balance running with all the other priorities in our lives.  How do you do it?  What are one or two things you have found that help you find time or make time for your runs.  What do you struggle with in balancing what you want to do with your running with all you “need” to do? 

People ask me all the time “How do you do it?”, or they make statements that “they could never do it”.  First of all, ANYONE who wants something bad enough can do it. Secondly, I do not know how exactly I do it; I just know it gets done.  I think, for the most part, it all goes back to ambition for me.  I have learned that hard work really does pay off.  The harder the work, the better they payoff- and I LOVE the payoff!  Nobody ever got pay raises, grade A’s and PR’s by doing nothing.  I am driven to accomplish as much as I can and I do not like to be idle in any capacity.  When I take something on, I go full force.  It isn’t about winning but it is always about improvement. 

At different times during the year my schedule varies, but the one consistent theme of my life is “busy”.  I work full-time year round, five days a week from Sept-June and four days a week in July and August.  I definitely have a great work schedule that allows me to schedule the rest of my life to fit in for the most part quite nicely, but it is exhausting nonetheless.  In addition to my full-time job, I am currently in the Dual Program at Rutgers- finishing my undergrad and beginning my graduate degree at the same time.  In the fall I take three college courses and in the spring I take two.  I also coach softball during the months of March, April and May.  In the summer I take one or two accelerated classes.  I work out 3-5 times a week depending on the week- this is my private “me” time.  I race beginning in May and all throughout until November.  My friends, family and “get things done” time are all fit into the equation as often as possible.   Some days/weeks are busier than others.  A typical day begins with my alarm going off at 5:47 (I have a thing with odd numbers) and getting in at night somewhere between 7-10pm depending on if I have class or a game or a workout.  I make every effort to be in bed by 1030-11pm.  On nights when I have nothing planned, which is rare, I catch up on errands and housework. 

Like I said, I don’t know how it works exactly, except that it does.  Two things I think attribute to my success are my ability to keep a tight schedule and my willingness to sacrifice some things when need be and recognize when I can forgo the sacrifice. 

  • Each night I think about the next day and I sort out what “needs” to be done and I what I “want” to get done.  The needs come first clearly.  I have to work, go to class and coach- those are my three responsibilities that get taken care of each day.  If need be, family always takes first priority. Regardless of how many wants are on the list each day, I try to complete one or two.  Sometimes it doesn’t happen and I accept that.  Sometimes life gets in the way and the applecart’s get a little messed up- it happens.  All I can do is get back on track.
  • I know that success takes sacrifice.  While my co-workers are at Friday night happy hour, I am running errands and getting to bed early so I can either wake up a swim or go for my long run on Saturday morning.  There are many nights when I stay in due to a race the next day.  I take time to pack a lunch most days a week and I try to cook a healthy dinner as often as possible.  I make every attempt to avoid all the goodies at work.  More often than not when I eat out, I choose my foods depending on my week (to carb load or not to carb load).  I give up a lot of sleep to stay up late for homework and to get up early for workouts.  With all that said, I have also learned that sometimes I do come first; if there is a reason (ie: party, family event…) I will work my schedule so I can truly enjoy myself.  For example: If someone asks me to grab a drink of a Friday night and I have a run planned on Sat, I probably won’t go.  However, if my friends and I plan an overnight trip somewhere, I rework my schedule so that I can let loose, have a few drinks, eat what I want and have fun!

I think each individual person needs to develop their own plan and figure what will and won’t work for them.  No plan is perfect- I certainly struggle with mine.  Things happen- I get overwhelmed, I get sick, I forget things, I get involved watching TV, and at times I simply let things slide.  The biggest struggles are times like this in the year when I have finals for school and three/four games a week.  My house is a mess, laundry isn’t done and I am sleepless.  But I get it done.  As with anyone, I have my good days and bad days.  I have weeks when I am elated with what I have accomplished and weeks when I am extremely disappointed in myself.  I have weeks when I amaze myself and weeks when I think I just can’t do it anymore.  I simply try to remember that struggle is part of success.

I realize this is getting lengthy, so if you are still reading thank you!  I can’t wait to read other people’s responses to this because I think time and balance is so important to find in life.

Poo.

You know how some days you just wake up feeling like poo- that’s me today.  Nothing physically wrong with me, I just mentally feel like crap.  I am feeling very negative today.  It is probably all the stress I have been under with school and life in general, mixed together with some anxiety about these upcoming races.   I just want to go back to sleep and have a do-over and wake up positive. 

I am really getting nervous about Broad Street (5 days) and my half (19 days).  I have worked so hard to get where I am and I feel really frustrated by the fact that I was feeling some pain during last Saturday’s run.  It feels like a slap in the face; I did everything right, I stretch and ice and continue to do everything they told me to do.  I had a month of totally pain free running and then BAM a week before a race I feel it.  And the worst part is, it is affecting my mental focus.  I keep reminding myself to treat Broad Street like a training run for the half; have fun, don’t focus on time and stay positive, but for some reason I am really struggling with that today.  Hopefully it’s just a funk. I am going to go out and run a (very) easy 3 miles tomorrow and I am hoping it lifts my spirits a bit.

*sigh* I am done whining now.  Tomorrow day and hopefully a better one.

I asked in my last post about tips for self-motivation- I sure could use them right about now.  🙂

Early Morning Week in Review

At some point every Sunday night, I take a few moments to reflect on my previous week.  This reflection, for the most part, becomes my week in review post.   One thing different about this week’s review: it is 830am as I write this.  I am writing early today because I have a busy day and a paper to write tonight; I don’t want to get caught up writing this later and lose valuable paper-writing time.  I have already procrastinated enough! 

Coming off Spring Break I knew it was back to the grind- and was it ever!!  This past week was filled to the brim with school-work, softball and life in general.  Week nights were all late nights and both weekend nights were spent studying.  I need my life back!  Have I mentioned my need for the semester to be over?!?!?!

I am happy to report that I did get in all my training runs and I am going to bike for an hour later this morning and do some strength training.  In reality that means I only had to forgo one bike and the swim.  I have been really bad at getting swims in and I while it is my strongest discipline, I know I need to get more on top of my swim training.  Right now though, all my concentration is on my upcoming 10-miler and half-marathon.  Any biking and/or swimming I fit in are all a bonus.  As long as my runs are completed then I feel accomplished.  After May 17 it will be back to a three-discipline focus.  And by then school will be out for the semester.  And that will make me a very happy girl J

This week I ran really well but had some pain for the first time in almost a month which kind of freaked me out. 

 My Tuesday run went really well.  I felt good, paced great and was generally just happy to be out running.  I felt really on.  I finished at just about sub-30 minute 5k pace which is a major goal for me this year. 

Yesterday’s run was completely the opposite.  I went out for 8 miles and right from the beginning I just felt off.  Despite feeling off, I was running great- keeping my pace @ 10min for each mileà that is until that familiar pain began to surface.  It was right around mile 6 and it totally ruined my mental game; all I could think about was the pain in my knee.  I pushed through for one more mile but called it a day after 7…I just didn’t want to push it with these important races looming.  I ended up with 7miles in an hour and sixteen minutes- that last mile killed my time/pace and really bummed me out.  I was really concerned about how this would affect my 10-miler next week and if I could even run it (ugh-negative mental thoughts!) but I came home and iced me knee and when I woke up today it felt good as new. 

Even though I feel great today, I certainly don’t want to push it; therefore I have decided to treat my 10-mile race next week as a training run for my half.  As much as I might want to get out and push it or “race” per say, I am going to just enjoy being there.  Broad Street is a race I have looked forward to for over a year, so just being a part of it is exciting for me.  Like with every race I enter, the ultimate goal is to finish.  That is always goal #1. For Broad Street, goal #2 is to enjoy the run as a training run.  This upcoming week I will take it light with training and focus on mental preparation.

How do you mentally prepare?

 

Hope everyone has a great week!  Hopefully you are all enjoying equally amazing weather 🙂

Also, best wishes to Rebekah…she is running OKC Marathon today (her first!) and has been through a lot to get there- I hope you rock it Rebekah!

Ambition is Everything

First I want to thank everyone for their feedback on my Ipod post from yesterday.

The other day I was emailing with my Mom and something she asked me sparked an idea for a post.  Coincidentally, this weeks TiaRT is along the same lines. 

This week’s TiaRT theme is … Boston and Marathon Madness.  Boston feels like the unofficial kickoff to this year’s marathon season.  What are your marathon training plans?

They asked for marathon training plans but I haven’t ran one yet and the training for my November Marathon hasn’t really begun.  As you know, I am currently training for a half, so for this post I really want to just touch on what watching Boston meant to me and where I plan to take my running.

This was the first year I watched the Boston Marathon; I watched at work on the computer and I couldn’t take my eyes off it, especially in the last few miles.  Every person who pushes themselves beyond what they ever thought they could do, from running a 5k to running a marathon, impresses me; but there is something about Boston, perhaps all the madness and excitement involved, that is even more inspiring.  I am amazed at the pool of talent and it motivates me to keep pushing myself to improve. 

For me, its all about ambition.

After watching Boston I emailed my Mom in reference to running marathons and she replied with “How on earth can you possibly think now about something so big when you are currently so overwhelmed?”  She is right, I am completely overwhelmed with school and work and work and school and softball and training and life in general…but all the planning ahead keeps me going.  My ambition and drive comes from a place inside me that knows if I stop I might never start again, so I just keep pushing.  Signing up for races forces me to consistently train and improve.  That is why even though I have yet to run my first 10-miler, I am already signed up for a second.  That is why even though I haven’t ran my first 1/2, I am already signed up for two more and have a third planned.  It’s why even though the idea of running 26.2 miles scares the crap out of me, I am signing up for the Philadelphia Marathon this year. 

Running was something I used to hate because “I wasn’t fast” and “I wasn’t good at it” but now, regardless of my pace or place in a race, I love running.  Running is the one thing that doesn’t overwhelm me. It keeps me grounded. 

I am unsure where I am going to take my running.  When I first decided to do a Tri, I had planned on one race.  I never thought it would impact my life as much as it has.  The same thing goes for running.  I picked my first Tri based on the fact that it was only a 2-mile run and I didn’t like running.  Fast foward 9 months and I’m 24 days away from my first 1/2.  I am emotionally happier and physically healthier than I have been in years and I see constant improvement in my skills as a runner.  I don’t know if I will run more than one marathon.  Who knows if I’ll ever make it to Boston.  The one thing I do know that with my ambition I can never say never.  And whether I do or I don’t, whether I run three 1/2’s or ten or fifteen, five more tri’s or twenty, I know one thing: as the Proverb goes “Success isn’t about how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” 

To IPod or Not to Ipod….

I am usually one of those people who do not wear an ipod when racing because I am a person who tends to be afraid of not following the rules.  However, I have been debating wearing the ipod during my half.  My recently compiled set of songs for my half-marathon training has been really keeping me motivated on my runs and I think it does/will make a difference in my timing. I often read that ipods or headsets are restricted (as it states for my half as well) but then I see SO many people wearing them. Ok, I know this doesn’t make it right but now that I am debating this with myself I am curious to know your thoughts about wearing ipods while racing…is it a do or a don’t?  I welcome your thoughts, opinions and advice.

It keeps getting better…

Quick post @ 2 things.

1- Congrats to everyone who ran Boston…I had a great time watching (and barely got any work done while it was on my computer!) and listening.  I will touch on this more Thursday as part of TiaRT.

2- Even though I was exhausted today after work and a (very long) softball game, I got in a run before the sun went down. Have I mentioned how much I love the later lighter days!!!  Even though I was tired, I ran 3 miles in 28:30…a 9:30 pace!!  A little over a year ago when I started this journey, I was running at @ 15 min/miles.  This milestone is especially huge since I had been injured and out of commission for @ 3 months.  There has been positive progress since I started running again in February, but even up to a month ago, I honestly never thought I would pace this fast consistently.  I am convinced there is no stopping me!! 

Hope everyone has a good hump-day tomorrow 🙂

Big News, Randomness and Remembering

For this Sunday’s post, which is usually my week in review, I just want to talk about some stuff. I have had a big week and I feel like there is just so much to talk about.  I am breaking it up into two sections:  swim-bike-run related and non-related. This will probably be a long post- so there is your warning.

Swim-Bike-Run Related:

  • Here is the big news: I bought my first road bike!!! This is huge for two reasons.  The first reason is because a year ago the bike I had been using was a simple mountain bike from Target; something to get me used to riding, since before I decided to do a Tri I hadn’t ridden a bike in @ 15 years! The second reason this is so huge, is that I almost never spend that kind of money on myself.  For Christmas my parents had given me some money towards this purchase, which was a HUGE help, but it was and still is a tough financial pill to swallow.  And I will probably taste that pill at least for a while.  But I know that it is going to be so worth it when I am racing- I just KNOW it can only get betterJ.  My confidence is soaring, whereas before it was almost non-existent.   There are a lot of things I could have done with that money- most of it money that I saved for over a year, but I really think that in the end, this was a good purchase.
  • I also bought my heart monitor this weekend- a Polar RS100. I told you it was a big week!!  Now I just have to set it up and use it!
  • This past week was my Spring Break so I was able to get a lot accomplished as far as catching up on housework and school work.  It also gave me a chance to get all my workouts in- the best part was being able to take yesterday as a day off. My usually days off are the nights I am in class…but this week I went in the morning and it gave me a free weekend day.  Glorious!
  • This past week I ran really well.  Obviously, with the 10-miler and ½ coming up quick I have been concentrating mostly on my runs.  This week, due to break, I was able to swim and bike too, but this upcoming week I will be much crazier. I have 2 runs planned and hoping for at least one bike.
  • Bragging time:  Today I had 2 miles on the schedule.  2 miles is weird…not enough time to get in a groove so I usually do intervals. Today, instead of intervals, I decided to go out and run 2-miles at race pace or harder.  Basically I was going to go as hard as I could all 2 miles. Results: 2 miles in 18:38!!!! 9:19 pace!!!! HOLY CRAP!! I kept looking at the watch to make sure I was reading it right.  Now I’m a smart girl, I know I can’t keep that pace up for ten or thirteen miles…but this is better than what I was running before I was injured.  Talk about a confidence boost!!! Ok…ok…I know, it was only 2 miles and I know 9 minute miles are slow for most people…but for me…WOW- I am so happy.
  • Tonight for dinner I ate completely housed 1/3 of a pizza from Trader Joes- it’s called Formaggi 4cheese and I read about it on both Lauren’s page and someone else’s who I can’t remember off the top of my head (remind me if it’s you…I love giving credit where credit is due J ).  This is the closest thing I have ever had to Delivery and 1/3 seemed small at first but I am stuffed from it!  I added oregano and olive oil and it was delicious!!!  The only downside is that while low in calories and high in fiber, it was a bit high in fat- even still; it was good enough that I will be buying it again and I wrapped up the leftovers and will definitely be eating them for lunch this week.

Non-Related:

  • I found out this past week that I am the recipient of the Louis Forman Humanities Award at my University.  I was in such shock that I actually almost called the college to make sure it wasn’t a mistake.  I am pretty much the least involved college student ever, and while I do get good grades and carry a high GPA, I guess I just didn’t think anyone noticed my hard work. Before class on Thursday, I asked my professor if he knew anything about it. He did. It’s mine. I won an award. It goes to “an evening student who achieves academic excellence and is dedicated to their education while working full time” and I won it!!! Wow.
  • Speaking of school- this semester needs to be over now. It is taking over my life and I am starting to go insane. I am serious. Two more papers and a final- 3 weeks and counting.
  • Spring Break was so nice- actually sleeping in (sleeping in is anything past 530am when I usually get up on work days) and getting 8-9 hours sleep a night was amazing! Being able to work out in the morning which is my favorite and enjoying hot breakfasts was just awesome. And now it is over and I am sad. Back to the super busy, 12-16 hour days, cereal or meal bar every morning and 5-6 hours of sleep a night.  Bleh!
  • Okay, now…not to be all depressing, but I just have to talk about this for a little. Today is the anniversary of the OKC bombings.  It is so hard to believe. What is even harder to believe is that tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of the Columbine attacks.  That blows me away.  Those attacks, though I lived nowhere near them…and there had been attacks before and there have been attacks since, it was for sure a defining part of my senior year of high school and even still it resonates with me still so strongly.  I work in a middle school and I constantly think of Columbine whenever there is a problem in the building.  Unfortunately, many people have become complacent about school shootings (even though they still happen) and though schools try to prepare, there is still a wide-spread “it can’t happen to me” mentality.   Sometimes I get made fun of for being so on alert for school shootings, but honestly, it isn’t that I am alert- I am scared to death that it could happen in my school, or a school where a loved one works or attends.  Long before the Virginia Tech Shooting, I was already picking my seat in class by its safety.  Never right next to the door, but never in a corner and always with easy access to a door or window. I will admit, I am slightly neurotic about it, and maybe too scared- but at least I am aware. I am aware that it could be me, or a loved one, or you. And that awareness scares me. And it reminds me of the 13 people who died inside a school where they were supposed to be safe.  And that was just in Columbine.  So in honor of Columbine and all the other school shootings, this is me…trying to spread some awareness. And hoping, truly hoping, it never has to happen again.

Ok…I think that is it.  I am sure I missed something.  I find myself throughout the day thinking “oh I need to write that in my blog” but then I forget half of it! This is enough for now though. For those of you still reading, thanks for being loyal J

PS- Boston Runnersà GOOD LUCK tomorrow!!!!