Fit Friday Motivation: 4/20/2018

Happy Friday everyone!  We have *almost* made it through another winter-wonderland-wonderful week (here in Southwest PA, at least).  Seriously, is winter ever going to end?! We better have an awesome summer after putting up with all this snow nonsense these past few months.  I’m no stranger to running in freezing temps, but snow and ice and COLD are definitely not my favorite conditions to run in.  Or live in, really.  I’m sooo ready to log some springtime miles.  Soon, hopefully.  If not, I’m going to become an early-age snowbird and ship myself off to warmer climates.  Preferably near a beach where I can lay and sip margaritas every night after the kids go to bed… okay, now I’m just daydreaming.


Source: Google Images

Enough griping about the weather.  On to more important things– it’s the day before a race weekend! Woohoo!  That in itself is all the motivation I need to get myself through the day.  Tomorrow I’m waking up early and running one of my favorite local races– the Takeoff 2018: Trooper Kenton Iwaniec Memorial Race.  This race supports a great cause– honoring DUI victims and raising awareness about the serious implications of impaired driving– and always brings a large crowd with many members of law enforcement attending.  There is a beautiful and moving service prior to the race to honor local State Trooper Kenton Iwaniec, who was killed in a tragic DUI accident in 2008.  It’s so empowering to see so many members of the community come together in support of such a great cause.

This race holds a special place in my heart because it was the first 10K I ever ran back in 2011.  Despite the terrible conditions that day (I can still vividly remember the rain, cold, and extreme wind), I enjoyed the race so much and was in awe of the fact that I could not only run but race for a distance of 6.2 miles.  It was the start of my love for “distance” running (“distance” being relative at that point in time).  The 10K still remains my 2nd favorite race distance to run (13.1 being my all-time favorite, of course).

Since that first 10K in 2011, I’ve only had the opportunity to run this race two other times, so I’m really looking forward to running it tomorrow.  My fastest time here was in 2014 when I ran it in 54:44 (an 8:50 pace).  Ah, the speedy (for me) days.  My main goal for tomorrow is to finish in less than an hour (a 9:39 pace minimum).  I haven’t run a 10K distance race in over two years, though, so I don’t even know if that is realistic.  My most recent 5K pace was 9:02 and that included some unfortunate walking incidents, so I’m hoping that a 9:39 pace for 10K is sustainable.  Only time and my Garmin will tell, I suppose.

My past few races, I’ve been getting sidetracked (not completely sidelined, but sidetracked) by side stitches.  Ugh.  Aren’t they the worst?!   I have no idea what is causing them, but I’m planning to use the next few weeks to try to figure it out so I can hopefully avoid them during the Pittsburgh half in May.  My first thought is that my core isn’t strong enough, because after two babies (one being a c-section) and zero core work, it’s not strong at all.  I’ve done some core moves this week, although for this race it might be too-little-too-late.  My second thought is that my nutrition is completely inadequate, because it isn’t focused on my training at all right now.  My plan for yesterday & today is to go heavier on refined carbs and lighter on fats, as well as hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  The side stitches that I got during my 10-miler a few weeks ago were 100% the result of not being hydrated sufficiently.  I used to make sure I was drinking plenty of fluids the entire week before a long race, but during my two-year-running-hiatus I guess I completely forgot that was something that I do, haha.  I drank too much during the race itself to compensate for my dehydration (I was SO thirsty), and the side stitches showed up not long after that.  Big oopsie.  Live and learn, I guess.  So hydration is the name of the game today.

I’m really looking forward to hitting the pavement tomorrow; I’ll be sure to come back and update with how it goes.  What are your plans for the weekend??  Are there any “sprinter” (spring that’s actually winter) races on your calendar?!

It’s Friday, so it’s time for some fitness motivation.  I don’t know about you, but Des Linden’s first place victory at Boston has been my all the motivation I’ve needed all.week.long.


Source: Google Images

Watching replays of her victorious finish seriously gives me goosebumps!  I don’t know that I’ll ever be blessed with the opportunity to run Boston, but Des and so many other women like her are my running role models– I would LOVE to not only be able to run another full, but to be competitive when I do it.  After her victory on Monday, I’ve set a new goal for myself: run another full marathon, and beat my previous time when I do it.  Although the logistics (i.e. two babe under 3) make this a long-term goal, it’s a definite new goal of mine.  When the time is right, I want to start training for another 26.2.

So, in the spirit of competitive running, this Friday’s Fit Motivation comes straight from the champion herself:


Source: Google Images

Any fitness endeavor, running most definitely included, gets to be hard at times.  We get tired.  We lose our spark, and wonder why we ever started in the first place.  In these moments, it’s easy to talk ourselves into quitting.  All motivation seems to be gone.  But, there was a reason you started– and that reason doesn’t just go away because you’re going through a hard time.  Even when you lose sight of that reason, just keep showing up.  Even when you don’t want to, just keep showing up.  Don’t give up on your dreams and goals.  Just keep showing up.  If you do, you’ll get through it.  You’ll improve.  You’ll remember why you started.  And you’ll find that spark again.  Whether it’s a tough race or a months-long fitness funk, just keep showing up.  If you do, you’ll be proud of yourself for reaching your goals.  If you don’t, and if you give up– you’ll never reach your goals.  You’ll only be letting yourself down.  Disappointment is a downwards spiral that you don’t want to pull yourself into.

I don’t know about you, but as an overwhelmed mom-of-two who is struggling to get back into the running scene after taking too much time off, this really speaks to me.  I look at my pre-baby paces and get discouraged because I’m nowhere near where I used to be.  So many times I go into a race with high expectations and get let down when I see the clock at the finish line, minutes later than where I had hoped to see it.  Or I am mid-race, holding a great pace, and ruin it all by making a rookie mistake (e.g. dehydration).  In these times, it’s easy to say “what’s the use?” and give up.  Some goals just take time.  And time takes dedication.  If you give up, you never reach these goals.  If you keep showing up, you do– it’s as simple as that.

There are so many ways you could interpret Des’s words, but this is how they speak to me.

Happy Friday, everyone– enjoy your weekend!




Running is More Than Just a Hobby

… It’s a way of life. An identity.

I saw a quote on a Facebook fan page this morning that said “Love the sport. Running is what you do. Runner is who you are. Be good to yourself.” (from Debra Morrow, Runner’s World Challenger of the Week on 6/7/13).  This quote really made me think about the role that running has played in my life.

I was a different person before I started running. Looking back, I really can’t recall my attitudes and viewpoints in life before my running days.  That sounds strange, but it’s true.  What did I look forward to?  What were my personality traits and how were they formed?  How did I face life’s obstacles and challenges– did I have an optimistic, headstrong attitude towards them, or was I cowardly and afraid?  Was I content with never knowing my own abilities and limits?  Was I content with not really knowing myself?  I honestly can’t remember 

Running has given my life a more deep, more profound meaning.  It’s taught me that there’s more to life than we can ever possibly understand, and it did that by teaching me more about myself than I ever knew before.  It taught me that there’s something deep inside all of us that, once tapped, breaks the preconceived limits and barriers than we have set for ourselves.  For me, it takes a good run to be able to tap into that phenomenon.  I’m always amazed at what my body can achieve when I push it further than I believed I ever could.  If you face challenges head on with a positive attitude, you are sure to conquer them.  I’ve signed up for races despite my doubts and fears and discovered that I could do them if I tried.  Running 13.1 miles sounded crazy until I signed up for a half marathon and finished it.  Climbing “The Summit” (a local 1200 foot elevation increase over 3.5 miles) sounded impossible until I signed up for a race to the top and finished.  You can’t be afraid to try, or else you’ll never know where your limits really are (hint: they’re probably not where you think they are).  This is something that has strongly defined my personality since I started running.

Running has taught me to not give up when times get tough.  Because if you don’t give up, you will be rewarded.  You have to want the reward bad enough– whether or not you know what that reward is– to keep on going when you feel like quitting.  I can’t tell you how many races I’ve struggled through just to get to the finish line.  That victorious feeling of crossing the finish after a tumultuous race is the kind of indescribable reward you can’t get elsewhere.  I’ve run races in 90 degree heat & humidity, without proper fuel, with aching legs, without proper training for a <surprise!> hilly course, etc.– and I have never regretted a single one.  I think perseverance is an essential life trait– you can’t survive in a world full of chaos and situations beyond anyone’s control if you don’t have it– and I only have running to thank for giving me that trait.  I didn’t have that ardor before I started running.  Whether it’s in a tough race or in a difficult personal matter, you can’t give up if you want to survive until the turmoil is over.

Running also enriches the emotions, in my opinion.  A good run will summon emotions that don’t surface in everyday activities (I blame the endorphins).  For example, I perceive things on such a deeper level during a long run that I am overwhelmed with joy at the simplest kind act of humanity, or the pure beauty of nature on the hiking trail.  I feel like running allows you to see objects and situations with more clarity, and you respond with more raw emotions than you would on a normal, day-to-day basis.  I’ve cried on my long runs just from the emotional rush (yes, I just admitted that).  I love the feeling of being able to tap into emotions that run deeper than I thought possible.  It’s another natural response from the body that never fail to amaze me, and it only occurs when I’m in the midst of a good run.

Furthermore, my body just doesn’t feel right when I’m not challenging it on a regular basis.  How did I get that kind of satisfaction from my 30-minute bouts of cardio before?  I don’t think that I did.  Again, I can’t really remember…

Simply put, running has molded my personality and has been a major influence on making me the person that I am today.  To those of us that run, it’s more than a hobby– it’s a way of life.  Running is a sport that I love, it’s my sport, and I always look forward to it.  Running is what I do.  It’s who I am.  I think that Ms. Morrow couldn’t have stated it better.

I think this is a blog post that only other runners can understand.  We run because we love the effects that running has on us physically, emotionally, and mentally.  It enriches our lives and makes us who we are.  Until you’ve experienced these effects for yourself, you can never truly understand them.

What has running done for you?  Has it had a profound impact on your life??    

My Weekend 10K… and Side Stitches!

Well, I sure did have a busy weekend.  It was a good kind of busy though!!  Monday mornings feel so much better to me when I’ve had an active weekend (if not I’m usually sitting here at the office scowling over endless cups of coffee until quitting time.  hehe).

On Saturday, I ran my first 10K of the year!  10K is my favorite distance to run.  To me, it’s more enjoyable to run a slower pace for a longer distance than to run as fast as you can for 3.1 miles.  So I was pretty pumped!

The best part of a 10K for me– I feel like it’s completely acceptable to non-Paleo carbo load the night before.  So, on Friday night I went on a double date to my favorite Italian restaurant with my wonderful boyfriend and two of our closest friends.  I ordered a basic penne/marinara/grilled chicken pasta dish.  I don’t have pasta often, so to me it was extra delicious.

{A picture of my dinner would have been appropriate here.  But of course I forgot to take one.  I promise I’m going to work on getting more snapshots for my posts!!}

I did, however snag a picture of my pre-race breakfast for everyone.  I’ve learned that a Paleo pre-race meal only works best for shorter distances (for me, at least), so I had my classic pre-race meal before Saturday’s 10K:  Ezekiel toast with almond butter.  Delicious.

Pre-Race Fuel

Pre-Race Fuel

It was a beautiful day for a race.  The air was cool, but not too cold– I believe the temperature was in the mid to high 50’s.  And there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  The 10K itself benefited a foundation set up for a local state trooper who was killed by a drunk driver, and they started the race off with a very moving tribute to his life.  There were many uniformed officers and officers in running gear there to honor and support the cause.  It was very moving.

I don’t always use a heart rate monitor when I run 5K’s because I’ve run so many and have a pretty good idea of my ideal pace for one.  I do like to use one to pace myself for longer runs like 10K’s and half marathons, though, because I haven’t run as many.  If not, I inevitably end up going too fast and feeling burnt out before I make it to the finish line.  My HRM is a few years old, and lately it hasn’t always been working.  Well, it finally kicked the bucket on Saturday.  I had to run the race without my HRM.  I wasn’t sure how my pace should feel.  I started the race off feeling very strong.  I picked a pace that I felt like I could sustain, but once we hit the hills in the course my body told me otherwise.  At mile 2, a racer’s worst nightmare occurred– I started getting side stitches.

I’m not sure if my pace was too fast, if I didn’t time my pre-race meal properly, or if my ever-misaligned spine caused my discomfort.  All I knew was that I had to make the side stitches stop ASAP if I was going to finish the race as a runner (during my last 5K, my side stitches caused me to walk MOST of the last mile of the race).  I focused on my breathing and my pace and was fortunately able to keep my pain under control for most of the race.

When I say “most,” I mean all the way until the mile 6 marker.

I sped up for my 5th mile because I was feeling great.  Then, with .2 miles to go, my side stitches came back with a vengeance.  I had to walk most of the .2.  I was so very disappointed.  I finished with an official time of 57:25.  I was only 30 seconds away from getting a PR– and I lost those 30 seconds (and then some) because of side stitches.  I estimate that, if I were able to maintain my 8:18 pace for the last part of the race, I would have finished at 55:46.  A whopping 1:11 faster than my current PR.  I was both happy and disappointed with my time.

Here’s a screenshot from my Endomondo app showing my splits.  I started the timer way before the gun, so my 1st mile is exaggerated.  Check out my pace during the last part of the race– that’s when I had to walk off my side stiches.  Miles 2 and 5 had a big hill to climb, so they are a bit slower.  Overall, I was pretty happy with my splits.

I’m taking a few things away from my race this past weekend.  One is that I need to find out what has been causing my side stitches– they have crippled two PR’s for me so far this year– and I need to do whatever it takes to counteract them.  Two is that I need to get a new heart rate monitor.  Three is that I have to do both of these things before Sunday– I’m running in my third Pittsburgh Dick’s Sporting Goods Half Marathon.  Nothing like bad timing when it comes to race issues!!

I know that many runners have struggled with side stitches at some point.  Have you ever had side stitches during a race?  How did you cope with them?  What do you feel caused them?? 

I’m in dire need of answers here! =)

Happy Monday everyone!!