Blog Fireworks

This week’s theme is … Running Fireworks.  In honor of the 4th of July, let’s talk conflict, controversary, and commotion.  It can be serious, technical or even fun.

There are so many wonderful reasons to have a blog.  For one it has been an amazing resource for racing; from training to finding good races and race locations to recovery and more.  I have found a whole new world of support through this blog and I hope to keep writing for a long time.  I really genuinely appreciate my readers-I value their comments, their advice and their posts from which I have learned so much.     

But (you saw the but coming right??) I have also found that there are some downsides…and it kinda (ok I am stretching a little lot here) connects with this weeks TiaRT.

Not too long ago, Kristin asked “What bothers you about blogging” and the response really generated some great conversation.  I had given some thought to this before I read her post but ever since I have been thinking about even more.  Since this weeks TiaRT was all about “fireworks”, I figure it to be the best time to air what bothers me.

For me personally, there are five things that bother me most when it comes to the blog world.

1. Cliquey blogs– this actually kind of surprised me at first, although I don’t know why, but I came to realize real fast that their are some serious blogger cliques out there.  When I first started blogging I would comment on some blogs that had a lot of followers and I began to notice a trend- no matter who commented there was a group that only commented each other. I feel like blogs should be about connections and since in the tri/running community we are all striving towards a somewhat common goal, I feel like this is a no-brainer.  I am not saying everyone should comment on every post all the time, but a little blog reciprocation would be nice now and then.

2. Being Ignored– This pretty much goes hand in hand with number one, but deserves it own spot.  There is nothing worse to me than a blogger who completely ignores your existence.  If I ask a question on a bloggers post, I feel like the least they can do is answer me.  I have seen this happen on big blogs with a lot of readers and even small blogs with a few readers.  There is no excuse for this behavior as far as I am concerned.  Again, I don’t think every comment a person leaves warrants a response from the writer but to be completely ignored is just wrong.  I was reading one blog for a while and the writer not only never responded to me but she also never responded to anyone.  I am amazed she even has readers.  On the other hand, I read a few blogs in which the writers havea mass following, yet they always manage to get back to the commenters, especially if a questions is asked.  This is proof that you can blog and not be an asshole all at the same time.  This used to bother me a lot more than it does now because I made a decision that those blogsaren’t worthmy time, but I still felt is was worth touching on the subject.

3. Surprise music attacks– I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading people’s play-lists.  However, music on a blog is an entirely different story.  Here’s the thing:  I like to blog at work; it’s while I am on a break, like right now and sometimes during my lunch…but nonetheless I am in my work place and the surprise music means I have to asnwer questions from my co-workers.  If you must have music, at least give readers the option to hit play.

4. Whiners and Complainers– Look, I have been guilty of the occasional negative post and I have done my share of bitching and moaning, but some people take this to the extreme.  I used to read a blog where the writer would find something to complain about in every post.  Her parents, her siblings, her boyfriend (her biggest punching bag), her coach, her clothes, her food or even random people who just gave her a reason to be her unhappy self.  She offered a lot of good information, especially about food, but the posts became less about the food and more about everything that wasn’t right in her life.  Everyone has bad days, everyone gets down in the dumps…but come on, enough is enough.

5. Picture-less posts– While this won’t keep me from reading a blog, it certainly makes for a more enjoyable read.  I have been making a conscience effort to post more pictures on my blog as well recently, after reading how much readers like them.  I didn’t give much thought to the picture thing at first, not until I started seeing lots pictures popping up on people’s posts and getting responses to the few I had posted.  So if you got em, post em 🙂

What bothers you about blogs??

Okay, enough with the “fireworks”- I hope everyone has an enjoyable 4th of July weekend!  Jersey weather forecast looks great, I have a tri, a few BBQ’s and there is going to be ample relaxation time 🙂 I can’t wait!

4th

I think this was actually Memorial Day but still…it works.

And I know what you’re thinking…and the answer is my favorite Elton John song is Tiny Dancer.

Sweet Summertime :)

Tomorrow is the official start of summer. School is out…kids are gone…teachers are gone 🙂

This week’s theme is … Summer Gear and Tips.  Tell us about your must have summer gear to get you through hot runs, long runs, and your favorite races.   Running is a simple sport made more enjoyable by shirts that keep us cool and hats that keep the sun out of our faces. Share your tricks of keeping cool.

I started running in December 2007…it was cold. My first 5k was cold. Then I ran an 8k in 100degree weather.  It was brutal to say the least.  I was chafed, sunburnt and downright unhappy.  I had two choices: don’t run in the heat or learn how to run in the heat.  I chose the latter. 

I depend on manythings to help get me through summer workouts but here are my top 5 recommendations:

1. Timing is everything-  As much as I might not want to wake up before sunrise or go wait until the sun goes down, those are the runs/bikes in which I perform best.  It’s still light out enough to be safe but dark enough to be cool out.  While the humidity is still bad (it’s New Jersey…the humidity is ALWAYS bad) at least I am not contending with the hot sun on top of it.

2. Body Glide-This was the best thing I ever found when it comes to running.  The idea of running without it makes me cringe.  It’s entirely possible I am addicted.  I used it on my underarm area and inner thighs to prevent chafing and on my feet to prevent blisters.  The stuff goes on easy, isn’t sticky and lasts forever! 

3.  Use (the right) Sunscreen– I am pretty obsessive when it comes to sunscreen but I didn’t realize how important the right suncreen was.  I was using the same sunscreen products for running as I do for everyday use.  Now I know how important it is to use a sport specific sunscreen.  I am a big fan of Neutrogena Ultimate Sport.  I also use their Sports Face.  It is clean, lightweight and doesn’t drip in my face when I sweat.  It also stays on for a long period of time so even during long races I don’t get burnt. 

4. Hydration- drink drink drink.  Hydration is important year round, but even more important in the summer heat.  Drinking before, during and after workouts is of the up-most importance.  I am not a big fan of plain water (gasp!!) but I am a fan of GU mixed with water, powders mixed with water and most sports drinks.  If I am running a short distance I will either hydrate well before I go out or carry a small bottle in my hand.  I don’t like to carry anything too long so I use a belt when I am on long runs that holds two small bottles.  For the most part, when racing, I don’t carry or wear anything to hydrate which means I depend of well run fully stocked water stations. 

5. Clothes: When I first got into training for a Tri, I would go to the gym and run/bike/workout in whatever I had that looked remotely like gym clothing.  Now I have clothes for running, biking, yoga, swimming, spin….it is actually quite ridiculous.  Of course, you don’t have to spend a lot of money; most of my tank tops, shorts and running skirts come from target and I purchase my more expensive items like Run Ready Race shorts at RunningWarehouse.com on sale/clearance.  There are items I am willing to spend more money on like wicking socks and I highly recommend them to help stay clear of blisters.  My best advice would be to stay away from cotton.

There you have it folks- a little advice from a novice runner 🙂

Daddy’s Little Girl

This week’s theme is … Salute to Running Dads.  With Father’s Day around the corner, we thought it was only fair and fitting to redo our Salute Week that we did for our favorite running moms – but for all those great running dads.

My dad isn’t exactly what I would call a “running dad” but he is a supportive, loving and encouraging dad.  I don’t think that many girls have the kind of solid relationship with their dad’s as I do.  I have always been really lucky to have a friend in my dad.  When I was little my mom worked part-time at nights, thus leaving my dad and I at home together.  We would color, play hide and seek, play outside….you name it, we did it.  As a small kid he would take me fishing and miniature golfing.  Growing up he came to all my softball practices and helped out with coaching my town team.  We spent many nights watching basketball and baseball (and much to my mothers dismay, movies like Porkys and Revenge of the Nerds).  As an adult, I have maintained this great relationship with my dad; we get together every other week or so and watch a movie, a sporting event or sometimes just grab dinner.  I have always thought that the years I spent as a little girl really getting to know my dad laid the foundation for the great relationship we have today. 

Here is a picture of my Dad and I when I was little (obviously!).  It really epitomizes the beauty of our relationship. 

daddy

Food for Thought

This weeks TiaRT theme is:  Runners version of Eat This Not That…..what foods you have cut out or reduced? And even better, tell us what “good” foods you substitute for the “bad” ones.

There are two things you need to know before reading this post:

  1. I love food.
  2. I love to eat.

I really can’t think of any foods I have cut out completely but I do (try to) avoid anything high-fructose or that includes hydrogenated oils and/or sugar alcohols.  I also realize that I cannot always be in control of foods that are available (some restaurants, work functions, BBQ’s…etc).  So while I cut them out of my everyday life and I don’t keep them in my home, sometimes they do sneak into what I am eating.  Crap happens.

In terms of reducing foods, the best thing I did was reduce my consumption.  I started this journey on the WW program and by measuring what I was eating, I really began to see what I was eating.  In terms of serving sizes I was clueless.  Being educated on how much I was eating has meant a lot in terms of being healthier.  Often times I cut things in half, ask for to-go boxes before I start eating or I share with someone.  So it isn’t so much that I reduced what I was eating but rather how much I was eating.  I still enjoy most of the foods I have always loved, just in smaller portions.

Overall, the biggest changes to my eating habits were all the new foods I began eating and substitutions I began to make.  Not too many years ago my diet consisted of mainly chicken fingers and grilled cheeses.  I was not adventurous in trying new foods and had no desire to broaden my horizons.  As I got older though, I started eating different foods and finding out how much I was missing!  These days I eat everything from Mexican to Thai to Japanese and I am open to new foods as well.  I also realized that for every food or drink item there were a myriad of choices available.  Everything really could be healthier.  I traded JIF for BetterNPeanut Butter, LightNFit for Oiskos, Iceberg for Spinach and Soda for Flavored Water just to name a few.  Each trip to Trader Joe’s and/or Whole Foods is another chance to find something new.

As far as food in relation to my training, my training plays a huge part in my healthy eating and my healthy eating plays a huge part in my training.  They go hand and hand.  Food is my friend and it always will be.  I will always love to eat.  The only differences are that I eat less of the bad and more of the good and I focus on what is going to fuel me instead of just fill me.  And lastly, I always remember to treat myself when necessary. 🙂

My Biggest Fan

This week’s theme is … Salute to Running Moms. With Mother’s Day around the corner, we thought it would be great to have you talk about a running mom who inspires you, makes you laugh, kicks you in the butt when you need it, coaches you, runs with you, brings you water, or just simply runs.

When I was in elementary school our gym teacher held an annual Track and Field Day.  It was marketed like a big fun day, and at times I am sure I did have fun, but it was serious competition.  It went something like this: there was something like 10 events.  Every kid got to do the water balloon toss and then each kid had to pick 3 or 4 other events to participate in.  Some were partnered events and some were individual and they ranged from 3-legged race to obstacle course to long jumps to running races.  Some kids were so mortified by the idea (or their parents didn’t want to even risk them being mortified in the first place) that they didn’t show up for school that day.  I always showed up, I always tried.   Showing up and trying wasn’t good enough but they never forgot to thank me for participating with their stupid participation ribbon that was given out to make us feel better.  It never made me feel better.  All it did for me was make me feel like crap.  But there was always one person to make me feel better and that person is my Mom.  My mom has always been my biggest fan. 

There was this one particular Track and Field Day when I decided to participate in one of the runs. I HATED running and Iwas BAD at it, so why I picked the 400meter event is beyond me even today.  But I did.  And I went out there and ran my little heart out. And I beat a few kids too. And my mom was at that finish line similing so big and cheering for me so loud- she was so proud of me!  And when I crossed that finish line she picked me up and spun me around. AND THEN…this douchebag dad comes over to ruin the moment and says to my mom “She didn’t win Janie!” as if we were confused or something.  My mom simply replied, very straight faced, “yes she did, yes she did!”. 

That story is an example of why I am the way I am today and why I think like I do about racing.  My mom, by always thinking me a winner no matter what my time/place was, made me realize what it meant to try regardless of the outcome.  She taught me that the participation ribbon did mean something.  Finishing is Winning  started with my mom and she is why I now happily accept participation ribbons, medals and etc. 

My mom has always been my biggest fan…no matter what it is I am doing, she is there.  She makes every effort to be at all my races; she has stood in the brutal heat, freezing cold and pouring rain, just to watch me cross a finish line.  My mom instilled a sense of value in me that had nothing to do with medals and everything to do with self-worth.  She is always there with words of motivation and a good kick in the butt if I get too down on myself.  In her eyes I am always a winner 🙂

 

 *note: I really hope they do this for Fathers Day as well so I can share how much I love my Dad too 🙂

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.

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.” 

TiaRT and today’s run…

Today’s TiaRT is: Running Blogs – How and Why?  Share your tips for how you use your blog to help your running.   Talk about how/why you started, what keeps you blogging and how you use it to keep you running.

The whole reason I started a blog was to keep track of my progress.  It was originally just going to be a journal of sorts, not public to anyone else, but then I started to google running/triathlon blogs and the results were amazing.   I began seeing that many people had been where I was at some point or were currently in the same position.  I loved the idea of connecting with people who enjoyed the same activities I did- I knew it would be a great opportunity to learn from others.

There are two things that keep me blogging and they coincide with keeping me running (or in my case…biking and swimming and running).  One is the accountability piece.  I touched on this subject not too long ago in my accountability post .  This blog keeps me honest and on track.  My second reason for blogging is community.  I belong to a team of wonderful people who are share in the love of sports- here I have a virtual team of equally wonderful people who share that love.  There are people who read my blog and get excited for my progress in the same way that I get excited for theirs.  The people I have “met” through blogging…they know how hard a brick is, they know that blisters are the devil, they can tell you the difference between Gu’s and Clif’s and best of all they know what it feels like to be a part of something that once was, or still is, bigger than themselves.   I have gained so much knowledge through reading other blogs and sharing stories and I am constantly inspired by other athletes.

I have only been at this for a few short months so I don’t have a whole lot to share…but what I can say is that having this blog is a big part of my recovery from injury.  Having this blog is a big part of my improvements as an athlete.  I did this stuff before I had a blog sure, but now through what I am learning I feel I can do so much more!

 

Today I ran 6 miles at 10:26 pace= 62:34. The first 3 miles I ran in 31:30 and the second 3 miles in 31:04.  

Although I am happy with my times, I just didn’t feel right throughout the entire run.  No pain…nothing like that, just not right.  I know we all have our days but I was disappointed because I had been looking forward to this run.  It seemed everything was just off from the moment I woke up.  Throughout the entire run I just felt…not myself.  I attribute this all to my stress level and I really think once school is over (3 weeks!!!) I will feel much better!

Off for lunch and then more paper writing. Presentation tonight means one paper down and two to go!!

Hope everyone gets a chance to get out and enjoy this sun- it is FABULOUS out here in New Jersey!!!