Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolutions and Running Goals

I don't typically make New Year's Resolutions per se, but I do take the time to evaluate the previous year and set goals for the next. This time, I've decided to keep it simple:

Life goals:

  • Be fearless
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

  • Blog at least once a week

Running goals:
  • Run 1,400 miles in 2014 (27 miles/week; 116 miles/month)
  • Run a sub 50 minute 10k
  • Run a sub 2 hour half marathon
  • Run at least one run per week with the BGR! Indy ladies
  • Join the Indy Runners or other running group
  • Register for the January 2015 Disney Marathon Goofy Challenge

What are your 2014 goals/resolutions?


Sunday, December 29, 2013

13 things running 1,000 miles has taught me

I accomplished my goal of running 1,000 miles in 2013 and it has taught me a lot about myself and life in general.

1.  Consistency is the key to accomplishing any goal. Never underestimate the power of erosion. A small, slow moving stream can erode mountains.

2.  People make time for things they care about. No one is that busy. You aren't the president.

3.  Busyness is a disease, a perpetual moment of nothingness.

4.  Running is therapy. I didn't truly understand what that meant until this year. Running, and specifically marathon training, has helped me through anxiety, sadness and depression this year.

5.  I stopped succumbing to "I don't feel like it." What does that even mean? Whenever I don't feel like doing something, I hear my dad saying "what do you mean you don't feel like it?" I never have an adequate response to that question so whatever it is, I just get to it. Better to get it over with.

6.  Be careful who you share your dreams with.

7.  Do not spend one single, solitary moment with someone you don't want to be with. It isn't healthy for either of you. [This has nothing to do with running, but is something I learned this year]

8.  I waste a lot of time. Hours will pass with nothing to account for them.

something like that ...

9.  I loved the #31Write Now blogging challenge. It encouraged me to write consistently for a month. [Clearly, this list has turned into more than just running]

10.  With the exception of December and the week after the Marine Corps Marathon, I didn't go more than two days without running. No matter what I was going through on the third day, I made sure to run at least one mile. That consistency and relentless determination is how I met my goal.

11.  I need to lift more. Now that I have renewed my strength and conditioning certification, I will write myself an annual plan to peak at certain races throughout the year.

12.  I need to foam roll more. Oh, but I hate it. A post on why you should too is coming soon...

13.  I learned to listen to my body and block out outside influences. I only experienced one minor injury at the beginning of the year and I feel that I was able to stay healthy because I didn't push myself beyond what my body was capable of. I rested more and paid more attention to my nutrition and overall recovery. As we increase mileage, recovery becomes more and more important.

Running is a great teacher and I am continuously learning from it. What has running (or something you love) taught you this year?


Saturday, December 28, 2013

1,000 miles and running

At the end of 2012, I set a goal to run 1,000 miles in 2013. That is a consistent 20 miles per week with two weeks of wiggle room. I finally accomplished this goal on December 18 and it wasn't easy. I got off to a rough start in January. I started the year on the road, traveling for work and with jam packed itineraries, long travel days, breakfast and dinner meetings left little time to run. I initially set out to run 4-5 miles, 4 - 5 days per week depending on my schedule. I soon learned that strategy wasn't going to work. I started to get discouraged, but I knew this would be a learning process. I hadn't run much since running two marathons in November 2012 so my body wasn't as up to the task as my mind wanted it to be. This was a major stressor for me. I thought that I could get right back at it like I was during marathon training, but I couldn't. My workouts were horrible. My body was tense and incredibly stressed. I ended the month with 62.5 miles. Already 20 miles behind schedule. This was going to be a long journey.

In February, I started to get the hang of it. I even added strength training back to my routine. But a week in, I felt something in my back and was sidelined. I strained a muscle in my lower back, probably while lifting weights. Great. Another setback. Determined not to let this get me too far behind, I decided to make an appointment with the my physical therapist. Shot out to Saint Vincent's Sport Performance. They helped me get back on track after a horrible car accident a few years ago and helped me through this as well. They are a great group of doctors, physical therapists, strength coaches, sport psychologists, dietitians and athletic trainers. The great thing about St. Vincent Sports Performance Staff is that they are all very active and understand their patient's need to continue their chosen activities. My physical therapist also happens to be the president of a local running club so from day one he knew my goal was to start running again as soon as possible. He prescribed some exercises, brisk walks and 4 weeks of therapy sessions. I still counted my walks using my Nike+ watch or GPS app and ended the month with 46 miles. March wasn't much better with only 38 miles of just walking. Now 108 miles behind schedule.

Once I was able to run again, I finally got on track with running an average of 20 miles per week. I decided not to stress out about being behind schedule and just press forward with meeting the immediate goal of 20 miles per week. April was much better with 75 miles. Only 5 miles short of the 80 miles per month goal. Here is where I learned to better accomplish this goal. I decided to set multiple goals over the coarse of the month, instead of strictly focusing on the 20 mile per week goal. The primary goal became running 80 to 100 miles per month (needed to add more to start catching up), while 20 miles per week was now the secondary goal. This allowed more flexibility from week to week as my work and travel schedule changed. I didn't worry about only running 15 miles one week, when I knew I'd have a long weekend coming up where I could get in a long run or two. Some weeks I would finish 20 miles by Thursday or Friday, so I would rest one day and go for a somewhat long run on Saturday or Sunday. This helped me to reach my goal for the month as well as begin to catch up. May and June were great with 107.4 and 89.3 miles, respectively. 72 miles behind schedule.

The main reason I didn't stress out so much about being behind and why I didn't give up is because I knew that I would at some point begin marathon training. I knew that marathon training would bring in 100+ mile months and 30+ mile weeks. In July, August and September I ran 112.2, 144 and 119.1 miles respectively. 

I was back on my game and had effectively made up the difference. August's 144 miles is the most I have ever run in a month or even a week. I was averaging about 35 miles per week. I chalk this up to marathon training long runs, but also to Sunday morning runs with the BGR! Indy ladies. When I wasn't traveling, I loved getting up on Sunday mornings for a recovery run with the ladies. I don't get to run with them as much as I want to and I hope to be able to run with the group more consistently next year. 

In September, I backed off a bit because I started to feel the effects of overtraining. After talking to a sports dietitian, I learned that I wasn't eating enough. I made some changes to my diet. started prepping meals on Sundays and felt much better going into the final weeks of marathon training. 

Even though I was finally back on track (ahead of schedule actually), I didn't want to let up so as to give myself a cushion after the Marine Corps Marathon. The last thing I wanted to do the week following a marathon was try to force myself to run 20 miles. I wanted to be able to rest and recover as necessary without the burden of set weekly mileage. My plan worked and I was able to chill and walk around in compression tights for a week. I finished October with 111.1 

Having accomplished my goal of running the Marine Corps Marathon, and setting myself up to be ahead of my 1,000 mile goal I entered November with less than 100 miles to go. I initially thought that I would just split it 50/50, but then decided to resume my goal of 20 miles per week. I finished November slightly shy with 72.6 miles. Only 21 miles to go. 

December was going to be a piece of cake. At only 11 miles left, I posted on social media: How should I commemorate these last few miles? I really got to thinking about this. With 20-degree weather in Indiana, I was relegated to the treadmill. I really did not want to run the last mile of such a monumental accomplishment on the treadmill. Knowing that I would be going home to Charleston a few weeks later, I low-key decided not to run. I just somehow couldn't make the time to get it done. I got home to Charleston and ran a few times in my neighborhood. I wanted to runt he last mile over the Cooper River Bridge, but then decided that the best way to celebrate was right here in the neighborhood I grew up in. The neighborhood that made me a runner. So that is what I did. On December 18, 2013 at 3 pm, I ran the final 3.1 miles. 

I did it. I set out to accomplish a goal and I did everything within my power to make it happen. I worked through an early set back, adjusted my schedule, my attitude and my plan. I didn't do this for anyone else or because someone thought it would be cool. I did this for myself. I did it for the love of running. I did it for self preservation. Here's to another year of running and miles and miles to go before I sleep ...


Friday, December 27, 2013

Georgia Dome Recap: Redskins vs Falcons

The fourth stop on my NFL Bucket List Tour was to the ATL to see my Redskins play the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. I have been to the Georgia Dome many times, but not for an NFL game. The first time was in 2000 to see Mariah Carey in concert on her Rainbow tour (I still have the concert t-shirt, program booklet and poster. I stan for MC) and I was there again a few years ago to catch the elite eight games during the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament. On the way to the Kentucky vs Indiana game, a man on the Marta train offered us $1,500 for our tickets. It was tempting, but I didn't do it.

Back to football … I have been working like a mad woman this year and to kick off my end-of-year vacation I decided to fly to Atlanta for the day to catch a game. My flight left at 7:30 am, arrived in Atlanta around 9 am and I departed that evening at 7 pm. I had approximately 10 hours to have some fun in the A.  I took the Marta from the airport to Arts District, then hopped on a shuttle to Atlantic Station. I had brunch then met up with a friend of a friend (actually he's the God Father to my soror's 3 children) before the game.

Thanks to JB we had amazing seats. They were the best seats thus far on my NFL tour. We were damn near on the Falcons bench right in front of the replay booth. He was very thorough in getting our tickets. He had two sets of tickets on both sides of the stadium and let me choose where I wanted to sit. I like options. I chose to sit on the Falcons home side because the seats were better. Plus, I ain't afraid of no dirty bird fans. Both teams were 3 - 10 going into the game so any trash talking was practically universal. He gave the other set of tickets to one of his buddies and found our seats.

Me and JB

The Refs talking it over
Even though both teams weren't that great and RGIII wasn't playing, it was a perfect game to watch in the stadium. At one point in the game there were 3 fumbles in a row. Hearing Falcons and Redskins fans dogging the other team, then berating themselves when they turned the ball right back over was hilarious. We also sat in front of this little boy (had to be about 9 or 10 years old) who knew the game better than any seasoned arm-chair quarterback. His dad knew absolutely nothing and kept asking idiotic questions like "Why didn't he run with it? Is that good that he didn't run with the ball?" His son then had to explain a touchback. And the final nail-biting play of the game was amazingly nerve wrecking to watch in venue. Shanahan gives zero damns.

Touchdown Redskins #HTTR
One striking thing I noticed in the Georgia Dome is that the Falcons fans don't really get into the game. I could still hear myself think on 3rd down. Why aren't y'all standing with fences, getting crazy and cheering for a defensive stop? The players actually recorded video vignettes to encourage the fans to get loud and get up out of their seats. Um, where they do that at? I nearly went deaf on 3rd down at Lambeau Field. FedEx was crazy too and I think they started fighting each other at Qualcomm. Either way, the crowds every where else were hyped and into the game. I guess Atlanta is to bourgeoisie to stand up and cheer for their team. Perhaps thats why a decent team went 4 - 11. What a disappointment they have been. Fan or not, we all expected much better from the Falcons.

Who's broke down Cousins jersey is this?
Falcons Cheerleaders
After the game, JB dropped me off at the airport. I had a little less than two hours to kill so I stopped in at a small wine bar in Hartsfield-Jackson airport, watched a few of the late games, checked my fantasy stats and made a few new friends. It was a great day with great company and an exciting game.

"Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central LA."


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Few Things That I Have Been Afraid to Publish

I don't blog as much as I should, or as much as I want to. One of the main reasons for that is I am afraid to share some things … well, a lot of things. I don't want this blog to be a personal diary and I don't have many people in my life that I trust to really tell the truth, but I know that I need to get things out. I hold a lot inside because I simply don't trust anyone with it. I don't like it. I want to be more open, but I can't. I started writing this after I read a post on my friend's blog, Fabulous Run, that challenged her to share "Things That I Have Been Too Afraid to Publish" [original post]. With trepidation …

I am afraid that I won't find a place where I truly belong. Since I graduated from high school, I have never felt "at home" in any place that I have lived. I transferred front he Citadel to Coastal Carolina so  I missed out on the true freshman experience and bonding with my classmates. My brother attended is 10-year reunion and had an amazing time catching up with his buddies. I'll never have that. I don't know my classmates. I haven't kept in touch with my line sisters. I transferred to Georgia Southern for grad school after a brief stint at Emory. I made great friends there that I don't keep in touch with enough. Every one has their lives and their own families. I don't. I'm always just a visitor. I don't feel at home in my apartment in Indiana. In five years, I have never decorated for Christmas, I just recently hung something on a wall. I don't want to spend the money on a place that doesn't make me feel at home. Perhaps the decorations will help, but I don't think so. "You'll always be somewhere on the outside."

I hate where I currently live. Hate is a strong word. I hate this city. I know that I should be grateful for the opportunity it has afforded me, but I live a devastatingly lonely life there. I've started packing. I don't know where I'm going or when, but I must go. "I'm leaving today. I'm living it. I'm leaving it.. to change."

I always squeeze the toothpaste from the middle.

I spend too much time with people I don't want to be around. I am either with people I don't want to (mostly co-workers or working dinners, receptions, etc.) or I am alone. It has affected my ability to build relationships with people I care about. I am not as patient or accepting. If I don't like something, I just excuse myself from the situation. I can't do that with people I care about. I've been conditioned to run instead of stand and fight. "If you look a little bit deeper and see that I need you to understand who I am."

I haven't been truly happy in a long time. Maybe, ever.

It has been over a year since I have been in a relationship and I miss it. Not him. I miss the intimacy of being in a relationship. Not sex. The closeness and comfort of it. I miss that so much. My last relationship ended without notice and for reasons that I still don't understand, although he tried to explain 8 months later. "Didn't see it coming. No kind of warning. I can't work out what I've done wrong."

I have a close friend that I wonder what it would be like if we were more than friends. I often daydream about a deeper relationship. We have a lot in common and think about life, culture and music in similar ways. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much time I am wasting by not telling him. "Not really sure how to feel about it. Something in the way you move."

Adele's 'Hiding My Heart Away' is the story of my life. I play it on just about every flight back to my place. "And though I wish that you were here on that same old road that brought me here… but like everything I've ever known [it] disappears some day, so I spend my whole life hiding my heart away."


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Year in Review: Travel Edition

It's that time of year when we celebrate the joy of the season and look ahead with hopeful optimism to the future. As we look to what the new year might bring, we also take time to look back because the Past is Prologue.

2013 has been a busy year. I mean busy in the sense of constant movement. I was always on the go. I traveled more this year than I ever have before, primarily work travel. There was a stretch from September 1 to Thanksgiving where I traveled every week. In June and July, of the 45 business days, I I was only in the office 9 of them. Busy is a hopelessly inadequate description of my life this year. Now lets not mistake this constant movement for progress. Being on the go so much left little time to relax, have fun, vacation, build relationships and meet new people. As legendary coach John Wooden said, "don't mistake activity for achievement." Of course, I feel that I have accomplished a lot this year; however, with all of the busyness dominating my time there was plenty more I wanted to. Plenty that I will dedicate myself to achieving in 2014.

2013 Travel by the numbers:

Delta Sky Miles
  • I traveled to 15 states and over 30 conferences, business meetings and events.
  • I have flown nearly 80,000 miles - Gold Medallion status on Delta.
  • I have spent over 60 nights at a hotel:
    • 22 nights at Marriott Hotels - Gold Status
    • 19 nights at Hyatt Hotels - Platinum Status
    • 14 nights at Starwood Preferred Hotels (Westin, A-Loft, Sheraton)
    • 9 nights at Hilton Hotels 
    • … and a few other random hotels I don't have rewards points for.
  • I have accrued 29 rental days with Enterprise - Enterprise Plus Silver status
Meet Durrell. We drove him in New Orleans

This A-Loft Hotel in Nashville was super cute.

I always unpack immediately, hanging up as much as possible.
I absolutely hate digging through a suitcase.

The perks …
  • I have earned about five free flights on Delta. I cashed in two of them already. 
  • I am higher on the list to receive free first-class upgrades (still behind Platinum and Diamond members though).
  • I can board early with the Sky Priority boarding group.
  • I can fly through airport security using the priority lane (at airports that have this feature).
  • Discounted Sky Club membership.
  • I get two free checked bags, 3 if my first class upgrade is confirmed prior to checking in.
  • Guaranteed room choice at Marriott and Hyatt hotels and a dedicated check-in line
  • Free suite upgrades and business upgrades, including complimentary breakfast in the hotel restaurant, complimentary laundry service: 1 pressed shirt or pants (I suck at ironing so this is perfect) and complimentary wifi access.
  • 2 pm guaranteed late check-out.
  • Access to the concierge lounge that includes breakfast, snacks and beverages throughout the day, a manager's reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer and honor bar. (This is clutch when traveling in an expensive market or on personal travel. You could eat and drink for free all day).
  • I have at least two free nights with Hyatt and Hilton hotels and one more left with Marriott (I burned one earlier this year).
  • I've earned at least 4 free rental days with Enterprise or two days with a bad ass upgrade.
  • I automatically receive a complimentary upgrade to the next level up from the car type I originally booked.
This may not seem like much, but these perks make travel that much easier, and afford me some freebies for personal travel.

The wifi struggle on the road can be treacherous.

Thats my travel in review. In the next few posts, I will review my year in running and a general 2013 list of accomplishments and goals for the next year.

What did 2013 look like for you?