Saturday, October 31, 2015

the INSANITY of cross training!

as promised, i am back to write about my journey through cross training. there are many things that have made up my cross training routine over the years but the one thing that has stuck with me the most is home workouts! back in june of 2012 i bought my first at home workout. i saw an infomercial [yes they still exist, lol] for insanity && at the time, i was willing to do whatever it took to lose the weight. i was on a medication that made me gain 50+ pounds && i was feeling totally down on myself. i figured if anything could help me lose the weight it would be a program with a name like INSANITY. i was a bit nervous that  i wouldn't be able to get through it but when it came, i was super excited. i had no more excuses at that point so i just got down to business.

day one is the fit test. when i was finished i could not believe that that video was only the fit test. if that was day one, then what was going to follow? it was literally the hardest workout i had ever done in my life. although i was feeling a bit discouraged i was able to keep at it for a few weeks; but i would give up && start over again. this happened multiple times over the course of a few months. once i even made it all the way to month two && got two days in && said screw this, it is too hard.

this program is named the hardest workout ever put on dvd. now that i have made it all the way through, i understand why! month two is even harder than i imagined. however, this time around i was both physically && mentally ready to power through. that is not to say that i haven't had days where i totally did not want to work out, because believe me those days came A LOT in month two. but i knew i made a commitment to myself that i would finish this program one day && tonight, i did it! tomorrow is technically the last day because i have to do the fit test to measure how far i have come over to course of the program. but i am over the moon excited to say that i finished this program!!

if you asked me back when i bought insanity if i thought i had it in me to complete it, i would have laughed in your face. it really is the hardest workout i have ever done but it is so worth it. it has shaped me physically && mentally over the course of 60 days!

i have many people question why i choose such hard workouts as cross training for my runs. i don't really have a clear cut answer. i love beachbody programs. aside from insanity i have completed insanity max 30 && cize as well. now that i have finished insanity for the first time, i am going to go back to max 30 because it is an awesome 30 minute workout. the greatest part about that program is that it really works you && it's only 30 minutes of your day. cize is a really great program as well. i torched hundreds of calories with every workout when i was doing that program over the summer. if you want to learn how to dance, cize is the perfect program for you because shaun t really breaks it down && makes it so much fun! for someone like myself who isn't the greatest of dancers, i felt super confident by the end of the program!

so my love for beachbody programs has grown over time && i want to continue on with purchasing && completing more when i can. i think it is great to be able to get a full body workout in the comfort of my own home. i have never been into lifting weights so the fact that each of these programs doesn't involve them is perfect for me. however, more recently i have decided that i may want to shake things up a bit && incorporate weights into my workouts. so i am now looking into different at home programs for that!

i did hold gym memberships multiple times. i even found the motivation to get myself there which was always a struggle. mostly i went because i had a wedding dress that i wanted to look good in so i remained disciplined with going. once i was married i just couldn't be bothered with the gym anymore && reconnected to at home workouts. my journey through running also began a few months after i got married.

no matter what, cross training remains a staple in my every day life. it is something i do when i get home from work that helps me decompress from the day. for now i plan to keep up with my at home workouts. i don't really see myself going back to the gym anytime soon. i have my own little gym in my house where i get all my workouts done. i also own an elliptical which i use occasionally && plan to incorporate more into my routine in the upcoming months.

i have worked very hard over the past year or so && i just don't see myself turning back anytime soon. i love where i am at && i just want to continue to build on it. some say i am over doing it. i promise you i am not doing anything that my body can't handle. i think all that i do between my cross training && my running helps me stay on track both physically && mentally. so for now, this runner girl will continue going about life just the way she is. because in the end, it is what works for me && that is all that counts!

stay tuned for my next blog post where i will give you a deeper look into my fitness journey && how i got where i am today!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

my love/hate relationship with distance running!!

since my running journey started just over a year ago, i have always been pushing for something more! i am the kind of girl who is constantly seeking my next big challenge. when one thing isn't pushing me hard enough i move on to the next thing that will kick it up a notch! that is how it has been with running as well. i started off at the 5k level && have now worked my way up to full blown marathon training. what's next, an ultra? [hey, never say never right]?!

training for this marathon has been extremely challenging in more ways than one. for starters, it is all consuming. just to cross train && keep up with my runs i feel that i am constantly busy with something related to running. even when i am not, i am thinking about it. it literally consumes my life && while i may not find that to be a bad thing, it does take away from time with my family. i have very much enjoyed training && i plan to continue on, but i would like to find a better way to balance it all. i wake up before work to get my runs in && i am cross training after work to keep up with that aspect of my training.

to some it may seem as though i am pushing myself too hard,  but i assure you i am not pushing myself harder than my body is willing to go. we are all a heck of a lot stronger than we realize. that is one thing i have come to learn over the course of my training. we all have a reserve of energy. just when you think you can't possibly go one step further you keep pushing && run a few more miles. we all have it within us, it is just a matter of how far we are willing to push ourselves. i am not going to say i don't push the limit sometimes, because i definitely have, but i have always come out feeling better than ever!

another challenge with my training came in the summer time. the heat is not my friend! i had never experienced running in the summer before so this past summer took the life out of me with the SUPER hot days we had. although it really drained me, i continued on with my training because i knew what i needed to do in order to be prepared come marathon day. it seems crazy to think that nearly 5 months have gone by since i signed up && started training for this. in reality, it seem like another lifetime ago!

i never thought the distance would be so challenging. for some reason i thought it would just sort of come naturally. well, i was DEAD wrong about that. i am not saying that it has to be forced, but it is definitely something that has to be worked towards. just like anything, you only get better with practice. so, over these past few months i have tried && perfected many different methods && still continue to learn more with each mile i run.

as the day quickly approaches && i now realize that i am only about 2 && 1/2 weeks way from my marathon i feel mostly nervous! 26.2 miles is a far distance && it is a HUGE accomplishment. i know that no matter what, it will be totally worth it when i cross that finish line. i am just afraid to get there. i know to most importantly trust my training but somehow it never feels like enough. just like any person, i do feel self doubt at times but i quickly find the positive in it. i try to find that silver lining because i know that that is what will carry me through. i have worked SUPER hard && this is arguably the hardest i have ever worked for something in my life. i know i will make it to the finish. i know i have what it takes. when the fear takes over, i just have to wash it all away.

once again i let time slip away from me but i promise i will be back to blog about how i cross train as part of my marathon [&& even half marathon] training schedule.


Monday, October 26, 2015

26.2 miles?! anyone that does that for fun is CRAZY!!

those are the words that i have come to hear over && over from my amazing co-worker! every time we discuss my upcoming marathon, he cant believe i do all of this for fun! but lets not get ahead of ourselves, there are still three more half marathons that happened in the meantime && a few other important races as well! after my first half, i signed up for my second which was not a pretty one. this one took place in morristown, NJ && was superhero themed! sounds pretty awesome right? well, lets just say i wish my super power that day was to be able to instantly cool my body! again, we were having some very abnormal weather for the time of year && had one heck of a hot day in may. my mama came out to support me this time along with my husband && she was super nervous that i would be braving the weather && running this race despite the heat.

of course i was not backing down so i once again toed the start line to yet another race. this race was a bit more intimidating than the others, since there were many more people running than i was used to. as we all squished together at the start i instantly got that nervous feeling. i knew i wanted to push hard in this race && beat my previous PR but i questioned how i would do it in the heat. i was afraid if i pushed myself too hard that i would pass out somewhere. while this was not what happened to me, i will tell you that there were plenty of runners laying on the ground that day. some passed out, some being taken by ambulance. it was all a blur as i ran this race that went from road to paved trail && then back out again. i prayed silently for these runners && thought of my mom, anxiously waiting to see me cross the finish line in one piece.

this race really tested me but i of course would stop at nothing and although i did not beat my PR, i did finish && that alone was a huge accomplishment given the conditions. && honestly, i felt like it was a really big accomplishment period! my moms first words to me were "wow! you don't even look tired." i couldn't help but laugh. of course i was tired but i just had that glow. the runners high that lifts you up for a while before suddenly, you crash && burn.

my third half marathon was to this day the HARDEST thing i have ever done in my entire life! the unique thing about this race? it was a trail run. did i sign up for a trail run? not exactly. see, i signed up for this race because i was excited about the theme. it was called the "Beat The Blerch" run, after a comic written about distance running. "The Blerch" is basically a fat little cherub who sits on your shoulder && tells you to eat the extra slice of pizza, or have the cake, or just to workout later. but, you get the point. [&& if you are into running i highly recommend reading the comic sometime because it is hilarious]! cute little fat guy && a food themed race, what could go wrong?

about two weeks prior to the race i received an e-mail about the upcoming course. as the words read, there will be some "LEGIT trail running." i thought to myself, well i have always wanted to do a trail run, no time like the present. plus it said "some," so not all of the course would be trail running. well let me tell you i was DEAD wrong! my husband was signed up to do the 10k that day so i said good bye to him && toed the start line to my third half marathon! i was again nervous && this time the nerves stayed with me for a while!

as soon as we took off && started out going up hill into the woods i thought to myself, "good lord what have i gotten myself in to?" let me highlight a few things from this race: one, there were two parts of the race that actually went out onto roads && i'd estimate that to be roughly two miles of the race. two, imagine that you are hiking the hardest trail you have ever hiked, NOW imagine running it instead. three, the terrain consisted of roots, rocks, fallen trees, gravel, boulders, && the list could go on. four, && probably the BIGGEST highlight, i ate shit around mile 8!

that's right. i totally fell face forward into the dirt after being tripped up by a tree root that was hidden beneath some leaves. when running this race it was super important to keep focused on where your feet were at all times && i swear this thing just kind of jumped up out of nowhere. luckily, the way i fell, i was able to just push myself back up in one swift motion && just keep going. i was already 8 miles in && just way too invested both physically && emotionally to give up; && truth be told, we were in the middle of the woods, there really was only one way out!

a really nice woman who was behind me started talking to me after that && we chatted back && forth a bit trying to keep one another going. all the while i could not help but to think of my husband. in the back of my mind i knew he was out there somewhere, enduring this grueling course && it was absolutely not what he signed up for. it really wasn't what any of us signed up for! somehow or another i made it out alive && set a PR! i remember the moment i saw the white tents above the trees. "oh my god, the finish line" i thought, && i took off. i didn't realize you had to do a bit of a loop to get there, but i just pushed && pushed because i wanted this craziness to be over. with tears streaming down my face i ran my heart out && as i looked up standing there was my husband who i thanked god was alright. he jumped in && ran the last little leg with me before i took off full speed into the finishing chute.

that race is a race i will remember until the end of time. there are hardly words to describe what i went through both physically && emotionally that day. i didn't actually know the extent of the damage done until i got home && was able to get my running tights off. i was pretty beat up but still in good spirits because we had a wedding to attend that night [&& i may have signed myself up for another half].

in the month of october i ran a 5k, 10k, [actually 6.66 mile "devil's run"] && a half marathon! each of these races holds a special place in my heart. the 5k was for parkinson's disease, which my grams suffered from before she passed away in 2012. that race became a HUGE moment for me when i ended up taking second place female overall! i knew she was looking down on me that day && i ran with all my heart wanting to make her more proud than ever. she was ALWAYS my biggest cheerleader! i can always remember her telling me no goal or dream was too big; i just wish she were physically here to see me now.

the next huge moment in october came at the 6.66 mile devil's run where i took first place female in my age group! i was on fire that day once again just running my heart out. "i have no idea how i pulled that one off" were my first words to my husband as i crossed the finish. to later find out i had placed was just proof to me that all my hard work was paying off!

my fourth half marathon was just over a week ago, again a race with big accomplishments for me as i beat my half marathon PR by over 18 minutes coming in at almost 2 hours flat [2:00:10]!

running has become so many things in my life, but the one word i would use to describe it is passion. i am so passionate about running that i get up every morning before work just to get my miles in. i cross train every day to avoid injury && i eat as healthy as i can to fuel my body for each run. this is not to say i am perfect by any means but i have worked very hard to get where i am at. && where i am at right now is facing my FIRST marathon!

november 15, 2015. that will be the day i cross the finish line of my first ever marathon! how am i so sure i'll finish? because i will stop at nothing to finish! run, jog, walk, sprint, CRAWL if i must, i will cross that finish line head held high! plus i always remember one thing, trust your training. the day is quickly approaching && i have lots on my mind with regards to it. but, maybe it's best i save that for tomorrow's blog post. the night is coming to an end for me. after all, this early bird has to be up to run in the morning!


Sunday, October 25, 2015

the journey to my FIRST half marathon!!

as promised, i am back && ready to continue the story of how i came to run my first half marathon!! after completing my first 5k i went on to run seven more! in the meantime, i completed my first 10k as well, all of which were HUGE milestones for me. see, each race i run has something special about it. whether i PR or not, there is always something unique to each race that i can recognize as a great moment. sometimes it's the people i meet or the cause for which i am running, but all of it matters && all of it impacts my life.

as the day of my first half marathon approached i grew more && more nervous. two weeks out i completed my last long run before the race && i came home in tears questioning how i would ever finish a half. my husband comforted me && reminded me of what i already knew, believe in the training. when in doubt trust && believe in your training because it is exactly what got me to run my first half!

the morning of the race came && at that moment i was just anxious && excited. i could not wait to cross the finish line! my sister && her boyfriend came out to support me as well as my husband, which meant the world to me [races start pretty early && we made a trip out to brooklyn, NY so i was thankful they could all be there to support me]!

after finding parking && going to pick up my packet the whole idea of the race became surreal. with the NYC skyline behind me i began to get the pre-race jitters. a RUSH of emotion came over me && i didn't know how to feel. was i excited? anxious? nervous? scared? probably all of the above. i began to warm up && stretch out all while just breathing it all in. NYC is a beautiful place && this race actually took place in brooklyn, NY all along the water && it was BEAUTIFUL! i couldn't have asked for a better place to run my first half!
with the NYC skyline in sight i toed the start line. immediately i felt scared. would i be able to finish the race? would my time be what i want it to be? && while all this worry flooded my mind, the horn went off && i just began to tell myself to trust my training. the first few miles were great. i found a woman whom i was able to pace with && was feeling great. as i got deeper into the race [probably about mile 5-6] i started to have my doubts. it was an abnormally hot day in april && the heat was wearing me down. all i could think was if i could just get through this, i would feel so rewarded. i kept glancing at my garmin with each passing mile hoping to come in around the 2 hour mark. when the later miles hit && i found myself having to stop to walk i realized a 2 hour half wasn't in the cards. && while this may have dragged some people down [&& believe me it did for a moment] i just let myself see the bigger picture. the bigger picture being that i was running a freaking half marathon! i didn't care if i came in dead last, i was going to finish this thing, bottom line.

i remember seeing the finish line && thinking oh my god is this for real? at that point it felt like that finish line was a mirage. as soon as it was in my sight, i picked up my pace. && as i drew closer, i mustered up every ounce of energy i had left && sprinted into the finish! everyone was there waiting as i received my medal && damn did it feel good. i remember going over to my sister && collapsing into her arms. i know she wanted to cry [she gets rather emotional over these things] && to be honest so did i, but i didn't let myself. i just wanted to relish in the most amazing feeling that is completing a half marathon!
don't be fooled because while i may have been on cloud nine for a while after the race, i was soon hit with the feeling of pure exhaustion! we all grabbed a bite to eat afterwards && then i went home && pretty much crashed && burned. when i woke up one of the first things i did [after chugging a bottle of water] was sign myself up for another half marathon! it seemed crazy at that moment, but i just loved the rush of the race! so, just like that i found myself heading into my next half marathon && it was only a month away!

stay tuned for my next post which will cover my second half marathon as well as my journey to training for my FIRST MARATHON!!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

the post that started it ALL..

it is considerably early on a friday night [8:45 PM] && i find myself ready to finally write my first blog post! not your typical friday night activity, i admit, however, there seems to be a calmness in the air && i find that that is when i do my best writing. i want this blog to be open, honest, && raw; the story of my life as both a runner && a lover of all things fitness. please bare with me as i go through the growing pains of creating my very first blog!

tonight i just want to write a little about how i began my journey as a runner. it really began somewhat quietly, but then seemingly all at once! a year ago september i set out on a run that changed my life. it was no real ah ha moment, just me deciding i wanted a new challenge in life. i was sick of the gym && i had given up on workout videos more times than i could count. so i laced up my shoes && hit the pavement. OUCH! i ran one single mile && it took the life out of me. at that moment i realized that this journey i was about the embark on, would be one that would change my life.. FOREVER!

while my first big night out wasn't much, a mile is still a mile in my book. so for nights to come i would set out for my mile long runs. finally, when i had decided i was ready to kick things up a notch, i signed myself up for a local 5k that was for a cause near to my heart && gave myself something to really work towards. as i increased my mileage i realized this was something i could actually grow to love. of course we all know there are good && bad days in running but i kept at my nightly runs for months && months.

then came race day && i was so beyond ecstatic to get out there && run my first race! my ever supportive husband was there by my side through it all && signed up for the race as well, in support of me. i toed the line to my first race && with my heart racing, i took a deep breath && suddenly i heard "GO!" && off we went! i took off at a pretty quick pace for myself at the time. && while i remember hurting after the race one thing still remained, i WANTED to run another race. i quickly found another 5k && registered myself for it. as time went on i was noticing that my pace only continued to improve. to me, this really gave me a sense of self because i had always felt like i didn't have that one thing to call my own. that one thing that i felt defined myself outside of my family && friends. running quickly became that thing!

after completing multiple 5k's i decided to take on what would then be the biggest challenge of my life, a half marathon! stay tuned for my next post where i will recall the amazing, painful, liberating, freeing && challenging months that led up to my very first half marathon!