Friday, January 30, 2015


Well, it looks like I'm becoming addicted to link-ups!  That didn't take long.  After last Monday's successful Weekend Update link-up, I'm giving it a go again this week with my girl Marcia from Marcia's Healthy Slice for some January Runfessions.  Wanna join in?  Check it out!  It's good for your soul.

Runfession:  I've got asthma again.  I say again as though we've talked about this before, which, technically, we have, but it was such a tiny blurb that I'm not surprised you missed it.  Last year, when I was dealing with brutal allergies and getting diagnosed with anemia, asthma was absolutely the least of my problems.  I got prescribed some Albuterol, I needed to take it maybe a handful of times before running, and then everything cleared up and I never thought about it again.  Until this past week, when running has sucked nuts and I couldn't figure out why.  I thought it was a fueling issue, but yesterday's run turned into a huge "A-ha!" when, less than a quarter mile in, my client who is a doctor asked me why I hadn't taken my inhaler.  Oh, you can hear that wheezing, too?  All righty then.

Can you imagine?
Runfession:  It's official - I like rap music.  I have resisted admitting this (too much), but it all became clear yesterday when I was driving to meet my client (who is still a doctor, but that's not related here) for our run.  I recently programmed Hip Hop Nation into my XM presets for my kids, but I'm finding myself stopping on that channel more and more even when they're not in the car.  Picture it:  skinny, middle-aged white girl driving a so not ratchet minivan with the bass turned way up, singing along with YG, "B*tch, who do ya love?"  I think I am a tiny bit outside the intended demographic for this song.

Runfession:  Hello, my name is Pahla and I'm a glove hoarder.  I didn't think it was a problem at first.  I mean, doesn't everybody have more than one pair?  A light pair and a heavy pair, right?  But then I bought a medium weight pair, and maybe some mittens, too.  And then there was the pair I got for free.  And the pair that promised to get warmer in colder weather.  And my favorite pair.  And my second favorite pair.  And the ones I never wear but can't seem to give away.  Recently, on more than one occasion in fact, I've been around somebody who forgot their gloves, and all I had to do was open up my car door for them to choose from an array of weights and warmth.  Yes, I keep at least three pairs of gloves in my car at all times during the winter, but at least I'm generous with sharing them.

I went to Google images with the search query, "too many gloves."  I can't explain this, either.
Aaaaaaaahhhhhh, admitting my runfessions feels good.  Tell me:

What do you need to runfess??

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On My Mind

Happy Hump Day!  Although, here at the ol' Triple As, it's more like Brain Dump Day.  Here's what's on my mind today, in no particular order:

  • Twitter.  Yes, I am aware of the fact that I am really, really, really late to this party, but I only just recently decided that I am capable of The Twitter.  I've actually had an account since 2009 (before I even started BLOGGING, y'all!), but every time I got on, it was totally confusing, so I stayed away.  I'm not even sure why I came back to it for the 83rd time, but all of a sudden I love it!  So.  Come be my Twitter friend.  I'm @PahlaB and I'm sure you know more about Twittering than I do.
  • Follow to unfollow.  I've totally seen this before and I've heard about it from others, but for some reason it's really bugging me right now.  Maybe it's because I'm trying to be a more active member on a couple of different social media lately that I'm really noticing it.  It's so rude!  Call me old-fashioned, but when I follow somebody on any platform - blogging, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram - I'm actually interested in what they are posting.  I'm truly looking to make a connection and join a conversation.  That's my social media "strategy," which I guess explains why I don't have 20K followers.  Ha!    
  • OMG, but I do have 1,000 followers on my YouTube channel!  I know that's small potatoes for a lot of people, but I squealed like a little girl when I hit that milestone last week.

  • Operation Racing Weight is hitting a snag.  So, I've been making some changes lately to the way I'm eating, trying to work on my resolution/goal/whatever you want to call it where I remove the weight I put on while dealing with anemia.  And the eating part has been going really well!  I've lost a few pounds and I'm feeling really energetic all day.  But, oh, man!  The running part suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.  Like, yesterday I was barely across the street before I was sucking wind and wondering when I could be done.  So very not bueno.  I'm tinkering with the fuel this week to see if I can figure out what works for me.  This topic deserves a full post, so once I get a handle on things, I'll tell you more about what I'm tweaking.
  • Homecoming.  This week is Winter Homecoming at my kids' school, which is wrapping me up in bigger knots than I'd like to admit.  The dance is on Saturday and it's a Sadie Hawkins, which meant that I was on pins and needles last week waiting for the girls that my boys have crushes on to ask them.  I seriously don't know how mothers of girls get through this.  Thankfully, that part all worked out, and now we are on to the choosing of outfits and buying of corsages.  We were on Google images for hours last night looking for ideas.  Yes, I'm overthinking the flowers.  You should not be surprised by this.
  • And finally, there's this name I'm trying to remember.  There's this kid that Big Boy went to elementary school with that I was thinking about the other day.  Like, a passing thought.  Nothing important at all, except for the fact that I can't come up with his name.  I can see his face clear as day, I can remember the mom's name and lots of other details about the family, but that name is eluding me and it's driving me nuts!  Of course I could drag out any number of old school pictures (they were in class together several times over the years), but I am determined to come up with it on my own.  No matter how long it takes.  I was kind of hoping that typing this out would jog up some sort of memory, but still no.  Dang!

Whew!  My brain can take a little vacation now that it's not so full!  Thanks for listening to the rant.

Tell me, do you ever follow to unfollow??  And when you can't remember something, do you look it up or do you suffer through the trying to remember??

Monday, January 26, 2015

Knowing When to Say Goodbye

Sometimes, when you love something, it's hard to see how old and worn out it's become.  You remember the good old days when everything was new and full of energy, and you stubbornly cling to the thought that the aging decline is just your imagination.  Surely there are a couple more good years left, aren't there??

Thankfully, I'm not referring to my pets or my husband here, but rather a few pieces of my running wardrobe that seem to have outlived their usefulness.

I was getting ready to run yesterday and pulled on my favorite pair of long run socks, only to notice this:

Yes, that's a hole in the toe of my five-toed socks.  Yes, I am wearing silver toenail polish.  And, yes, I took three different photos to be standing EXACTLY in the center of the tile and to frame the shot evenly.  Because OCD.
Actually, I've been noticing that hole for the last several weeks and trying to ignore it.  I love these socks!  I've worn them to run 50-milers:

I've worn them in all kinds of conditions on training runs:
Muddy day.

Sunny day.

Creek crossing day.

And gorgeous long run with UltraIronHubs day.
Along with my braids, they're a race day staple:
Turkey Trot!

Modesto Half Marathon.
They've seen some very happy finish lines:
Yay, CIM!
And they've taken a tumble (or two):
It's okay, I'm fine.
The thing is, when I love a piece of running gear, I really, really love it!  And tend to wear it into the ground.  There was the yellow shirt that I wore All.  The.  Time.  from 2010 through 2012 (RIP yellow shirt):

Modesto Marathon 2010
Modesto Marathon AGAIN.

Run for Independence 2011.
CIM 2011.

I still wore that shirt for another year, but stopped wearing it to races because I didn't want people to think I only owned one shirt.  Of course, when I retired that one, I promptly replaced it with another yellow shirt:
Awwwww, look at how bright it used to be.

And look at how little Little Boy used to be (I'm looking him straight in the eyes these days).

It's a fabulous layering piece to wear all winter long.
Or perfect for a hot summer day.

And it appears frequently in my YouTube workout videos.
I think I am maybe sort of possibly ready to think about giving away (not throwing away - surely somebody who shops at Goodwill will want my slightly holey socks and mildly frayed Yellow Shirt #2) a few items out of my running drawer.  Which, of course, means I get to go shopping - yay!

What say you, internets...

Do you hang on to old running clothes until they're past their prime?

Or do you shop and recycle frequently?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five Minutes Friday

There are moments in our lives that change us forever:  being born, getting married, having children.  Big moments where you realize that something irreversible is happening to you.  But today I am thinking about smaller moments, little things that maybe didn't seem like life-changers at the time, but have absolutely shaped the person I am today.

Five minutes in my life as a runner:

1.  The first time I ran an entire minute.  It was early (well, early at the time, like 6 am, which is practically mid-day now) on the morning of September 14, 2006.  I had been walking for months trying to lose weight with no success.  Somewhere around the first of the month, I started toying with the idea of running, so I started by counting my steps - if I could run 50 steps then I got to walk 100 steps.  I bumped it up to 100 steps of running and didn't actually die, so maybe, just maybe, I could go a little further.  I decided to try.  And, really, that's probably the moment that changed my life even more than the actual running.  I ended up running an entire mile!  Uhhh, more or less.  This was long, long before I owned any sort of tracking device.

You're right, this is a photo of me getting ready to do some yardwork.  The reason I'm posting it is because this is the EXACT outfit I was wearing when I ran that first mile, right down to those solid pleather shoes from Payless Shoe Source, the enormous cotton sweatpants and crappy old cotton T-shirt.  I didn't invest in "real" running clothes for several months.
2.  The minute I ran my first race.  I had been running consistently for a few months and felt like running three whole miles in a row might not be entirely outside of my abilities, so it was time to sign up for a race.  I had walked the Susan G. Komen 5K with my mom and sister a time or two, so I was familiar with the race course and it's local, so it was an obvious choice.  UltraIronHubs agreed to run it with me, thank goodness, because I might not have had the courage to do it by myself.  I was excited but nervous.  Mostly nervous.  I knew I could complete the distance, but this was well outside my comfort zone.  It was so crowded and we spent the whole three miles dodging and weaving around other runners.  It wasn't officially timed, but there was a timer at the finish and we came in right around 30 minutes.  This was long, long before I knew about the difference between chip time and gun time, so I was a little disappointed that we had gone "slow."  Ha!  As soon as we crossed the finish line, I thought for sure I was going to throw up, but I held it together.  The bug had bitten me, though.  There was another race that month and my first half marathon later that year.

I really, truly dislike running in races this large.  Give me a couple hundred or - at most - a couple thousand runners, please!  None of this 25,000 people nonsense.  Also?  Why the fuck was I wearing long sleeves in May??  Rookie move, for sure.
3.  The minute I decided to do some speedwork.  I had been running for a few years and had felt the crushing disappointment of not hitting my time goal on race day.  I felt like I had more in me, but I wasn't sure how to harness it.  The answer, of course, was speedwork.  UIH had done a cycle of speed and tempo work for one of his races and highly recommended it.  I rustled up a free plan from Runner's World in the hopes of running a faster 5K and decided to give it a try.  I set out that first day cautiously, almost as nervous as a race day with "what ifs" filling my brain.  What if I can't hit the speeds?  What if it hurts?  Then I did my first quarter mile repeat and it was glorious!  My feet flew!  I loved every single thing about running fast for a very short amount of time and I was hooked.  Up until I started running ultras a few years ago, I included speedwork in every training cycle.  Now that I'm running shorter distances again this year, I've begun adding it back in and it feels like a long-lost friend.

I wish I could tell you that my first round of speedwork yielded amazing results, but no.  Back in 2009, I trained for 8 weeks to run a sub-25 5K, but I crossed the finish line of this race at 25:00.43, if you can believe that.  I was PISSED!  I blame the tights and long sleeves.  I mean, yeah, it was late January, but that was way, way, waaaaaaaay too many clothes for a hot runner like me.
4.  The minute it took to set up my Blogger account.  You know, I'm racking my brain and for the life of me I cannot remember what possessed me to start blogging.  Seriously.  I remember being home alone one afternoon and noodling around on the internet.  I have no idea how or why I stumbled on a running blog (BTW, it was Marcia's old blog, before she started her Healthy Slice - I loved this girl from the word go), but I was fascinated!  Do you mean to tell me that other people from all over the world get on the internet and talk about nothing but running?!?  I love to talk about running and I'm pretty sure the people I know in real life are sick of hearing me.  Could I get into this blogging thing, too?  Yes.  Yes, I could.  I'm pretty sure I signed up right then and there (and promptly busted out my first timid post), but I didn't tell anybody for months.  Not even UIH, because I was pretty sure he would think it was crazy.  I vividly remember taking my first uber self-conscious sweaty selfie.  UIH was out on his run and the kids were still asleep.  I was already sweaty from my run, but taking a photo of myself brought on a new round of clammy skin.  Was I nuts?  (No need to answer that.  I already know.)  While my posting schedule has been sporadic, to say the least, over the years, I've never regretted that spur-of-the-moment decision.

It only took four tries to get the one that eventually made it to post.  I think that's actually a record for me.
5.  The minute I crossed the Finish Line of my first 50-miler.  If there's a life-changing moment in running, it's definitely this one.  I think most runners graduate to the big leagues when they finish their first marathon, but that distance has always been problematic for me.  I landed in the Med Tent and DNF'd my very first attempt, so crossing the finish line of my "first" wasn't the sort of pure triumph I had hoped for.  Marathons are hard for me.  I mean, they're hard for everyone - duh! - but my feelings toward that distance are just complicated.  So, why in the world did I ever think I could run 50 miles?  Well that, my friends, is just how full of myself I actually am.  Why couldn't I run 50 miles??  And I'm so incredibly glad I did (twice now).  It takes a different kind of heart and guts to get you through a distance like that and everything about that journey changed the kind of runner I am today.  I'm much gentler with myself now and also more confident.  It taught me that running for speed is a very different animal than putting one foot in front of the other for 12 hours.  That finish line showed me that I really could do anything.

One of the happiest finish lines I've ever crossed.  Everything about this day was awesome.  Except getting lost.  That sucked.

What are Five Minutes that changed your running life?  It doesn't have to be five, you can tell me one.  :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Runnin' Hot

I only had a couple of miles on the books today.  Actually - let me digress right here in the first sentence - I don't even have a "book" going right now.  I stopped using any kind of a training schedule last year when I wasn't sure what each day would bring me, and I haven't gotten back to it yet.  I like keeping it loose and deciding before I go to bed what I'll have time for the next day.  Don't get me wrong, I always plan for a run, but I like to stay flexible as to exactly what day I'll do what mileage.  I have a little calendar I keep on my desk and I've noodled out approximate weekly mileage and long run goal mileage for the next few months.  So it's not like it's completely unplanned.  It's just that I'm being a little loosey-goosey with the daily details.

Anyway.  Four miles on my mental book today.

I went to work at 5 am, like I do, and I worked two one-hour bootcamps, until 7 am.  It was pretty cold this morning (45F degrees) for standing around while other people were exercising.  Here's what I had on:

Starting from the bottom:

  • My thickest pair of Injinjis
  • Another pair of regular socks
  • Altra Intuitions
  • Running capris
  • Yoga pants
  • Running tank top
  • Short-sleeved running shirt
  • Medium-weight jacket (medium for California standards - probably pretty light for other places)
  • North Face ThermoBall jacket
  • Thick running gloves
  • Running buff
I was so cold after the two hours of work that I had to sit in my car with the heater on for a few minutes before I could go for my run.  But even so, I peeled off my outer pants (not to be confused with underpants), my second pair of socks, and both jackets.  I added some running sleeves, but knew they wouldn't stay on long.  This is what I wore to run:

Does this outfit make me look flat?
It was way too much clothing!  The arm sleeves were off by Mile 1 and the buff came off by Mile 2.  I totally wanted to take off the top shirt, but I had to pee really bad and didn't feel like stopping and wasting time.  The capris made me crazy.  If I hadn't been at work before the run, I would have been wearing shorts or a skirt.

And yet, while I was out, I saw several other runners who were bundled up as though we live in the Tundra.  Long-sleeved shirts with big jackets, tights with overshorts, thick hats.  What is that?

I'm not generally a warm-blooded type - I complain about being cold when I'm at home and the heater is on.  And I definitely used to wear more clothing on winter runs, but the older I get, the less I wear.  It's funny, because UltraIronHubs used to head out in cold weather with practically nothing on, but these days he layers up like I would dress my babies when they were little.  Middle age is a funny time.

What do you wear for winter weather?  Are you a "hot" runner?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend Update - My First Linkup!

It's true - I've been blogging for almost five years and even though I've thought about it lots of times, I've never actually participated in a blogger linkup!  So here goes nothing.  I'm linking up with Running 'n Reading for the Weekend Update.

Running 'N' Reading

It's a little sad, really, that this is my first link up, because my weekend was sort of on the boring side.

Saturday started out, as Saturdays do, with getting up early and putting in a little work.  The bootcamp that I run has a Saturday 6 am workout, so I am up and getting ready pretty early.  It was a grey, chilly, foggy morning, so I wasn't super surprised at a low turnout and slow moving bodies.  But we still managed to work up a good sweat.

This was how misty is was with my flash on!
 After Sweat Camp, UltraIronHubs and I took the boys to visit a semi-local (about an hour away) college campus.  The reality of college hunting is starting to freak me out a little.  And by a little, of course I mean a lot.  Big Boy is going to college Next.  Year.  Not next school year, but next calendar year, 2016.  How did this happen?

I took this photo yesterday.
I didn't even take this one, I totally stole it from his phone.  Don't tell.  
After the brief self-directed tour, during which we all decided that the school wasn't really a contender, we were home again, home again jiggity-jig, to get ready for a party at my sister's house.  It was an open house, with lots of munchies and good conversation.  Fun times!

If there's a camera in the room, you know I'm smiling!
Sunday was another grey and foggy one.  I'm so completely over this weather, you have no idea!  But the run doesn't wait for the sunshine, so out I went with ten miles on the schedule.

The creek covered in mist.
It was a good run, though nothing spectacular.  I kept thinking about last month, when I was so excited to push my distance all the way up to eight miles, and how tough that seemed at the time.  Now I'm at ten on a cutback week.  I won't say it was easy, but it also didn't kick me to the curb the way all long runs did for awhile there.

I'm still working on that whole "taking a photo while running" thing.  Some of the outtakes are pretty funny!
When I got home, I decided that I was really and truly going to be capable of running at least the first race on my projected 2015 schedule, which is the Davis Stampede half marathon on February 8th, so I pulled the trigger on that registration.  It felt good and exciting to have that down as a reality instead of a maybe!  I'm trying to manage my goals for that race.  On the one hand, I totally want to go guns a-blazin' and run it hard.  But on the other, more realistic, hand, I think it would be best to run this one for "fun."  I'm not great at that, so we'll see.

How was your weekend??

Friday, January 16, 2015

On Being Competitive

I have a new running client who signed up with me with the goal of running a 5K at some point in the not-too-distant future.  He's starting from a point where he has some weight to lose and he hasn't been vigorously active for a few years.  After our first run, he seemed pleasantly surprised that he was capable of running at all.  When our second run was done and it was still very difficult, his enthusiasm for running began to visibly wane.  During our third run together, he talked about how he doesn't really want to run a 5K, but he'd like to look like he could.  He insisted that he didn't really like running all that much and wasn't interested in running long distances, and as for racing, well, "Pahla, I'm just not a competitive person."


When somebody says to me - and in my line of work as a fitness trainer, I hear this A LOT - that they're not competitive, what I hear is, "I am afraid."

I'm afraid it's going to be hard work.

I'm afraid people will laugh at me.

I'm afraid of changing my habits.

I'm afraid that even if I try really, really hard I might still fail.

The road to success is pretty much all uphill.
There was a time years ago when I told people I wasn't competitive, and believe me the laundry list of things that I was afraid of was as long as my arm.  Sometimes it still is.  But as I've learned to embrace being competitive, I've discovered that the things I was afraid of aren't that scary after all.  I love working hard.  WTF do I care if people are laughing at me?  Sometimes my mistakes are so funny I laugh at myself!  Habits change whether I intend them to or not, so I might as well take some control over what I do all day.  And, yeah, sometimes I'm going to fail.  In fact, long-time readers have been around for some pretty spectacular failures.  I lived to tell the tale and compete again.

I'm starting to get my competitive mojo back, after months of hanging out and waiting to feel better.  I'm excited about this year's racing plans and about the fact that I've put it out there:  I'm looking for a PR in 2015.  So this morning, for the first time in seven months, I did some speedwork.

I have to admit, I was a little bit afraid.  The comfort zone was calling out for me.  What if it sucks?  What if I can't actually run fast anymore?  It's a long road back to running PR paces, maybe I should just stay here in Easyville.

I set my bar pretty low, so as to feel successful even if it was as difficult as I feared.  The plan was to run two miles warm up, 1 mile at a speed somewhere in the (fingers crossed) mid- to low-8s, 1 mile of recovery, 1 mile at a speed as fast as I might get to after all that (maybe sub-9?), and then 1 mile cool down.

I went out a little fast on the warm up in giddy anticipation.  This would be the first time I'd really tested my legs in quite awhile and I was anxious to get to it.  I chose to run out-and-backs on the nature trail because there is only one time I cross a street and it's not a busy one, so my likelihood of needing to stop or even slow down in the middle of my "speedy" mile was very low.  I ran a lot of very successful speedwork and tempo miles on this trail when I was training for the 2013 CIM.  The first speedwork mile felt amazing!  For about half of it.  And then I remembered that running fast took a whole lot of work.  I held it together, but definitely felt the effort by the time my Garmin signaled the start of the recovery mile.  Mile 3 = 8:12!!!  I was ecstatic!

The whole recovery mile I debated whether or not I was going to run another speed mile.  One was good, right?  But the competitive girl inside of me wasn't having any of that.  Two miles on the plan means two miles get done.

The second speedy mile was much harder than the first.  My form felt awkward and my legs didn't really seem to know what they were doing, but I snuck a peek at my Garmin and I was still holding an incredible-for-me pace.  Not even halfway through, UltraIronHubs met me on the trail, finishing up his run.  I stopped very briefly to kiss him and he worriedly asked, "Are you alright?"  As I ran on, I had to laugh at that.  Apparently, the effort of my speedwork looked a little bit less like "Eye of the Tiger," and a little more like "I think I'm going to die."  Mile 5 = 8:15.  BOOM!

While I was floating on that last cool down mile home, I pondered the nature of my competitiveness.  I'll never be - objectively speaking - a fast runner.  But I am definitely a competitive one.  Running makes me feel fearless.  Of course it's hard.  Of course people could laugh at me.  Of course I could fail.  But I'm still going to put myself out there and compete.  Because it's totally worth it.

Have you always been competitive, or did running bring it out in you?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

#NoExcuses2015 - It's a Mad(Lib), Mad, Mad, Mad World!

Hey 2015, it’s me, Pahla B!  Marcia from Marcia's Healthy Slice tagged me to play along...

This year I would like to kick ass and take names.
It would also be super duper awesome if I did not get anemia this year. It’s not a resolution, though, just a reminder to myself to try and have the best year yet because life is too short to sit on the sidelines.
The thing I am looking forward to most this year is running a whole bunch of new-to-me races.
I’ll use the one thing that truly gets me out of bed in the morning which is my crazy body clock to help me get up, get my butt in gear and get after my #NoExcuses 2015. Speaking of excuses (ahem), my very favorite excuse is "I'll do it later," and I have used it to get out of doing laundry and housecleaning on more than a few occasions.  I vow to move my body and be more healthy this year even if it means I have to stop eating so damn much cereal.
Even if my alarm clock gets eaten by the dog in the middle of the night, I’ll still clean up broken alarm clock parts, apparently.  Because nobody else is going to do that. 
I will stop blaming the kids for wanting junk food when everyone knows it was really me.
My fears are not the reason I make excuses. I will show my fears who’s boss this year and get my speed on.
I know that running well and feeling healthy is better than pretty much anything else in the world
I will reward myself by running at least one PR.
Wanna play along??  Fill in the bold/underlined part with your own answers.  Tag yourself and #NoExcuses2015 for a little bit of fun!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Is it too late to add a resolution?

Actually, it doesn't matter what your answer is to that question, because it's been done.  Added!  And not a moment too soon.

You know how everybody says, "You're only as old as you feel"?  Well, I've been feeling about a million years old lately.  I'm stiff, I'm sore, and my bones feel creaky.  And yet, because I'm me and stupidly stubborn about helping myself to feel better, I didn't seem to be doing anything about it.

So I've made a new resolution (or, more accurately, I've added an addendum to one of my current resolutions):

Chicken scratch resolutions.
On this year's list of resolutions/goals, I included not just the goal itself, but a concrete action plan for how I'm going to attain it.  And it has come to my butt's attention this week that I'm not going to run any better or faster or longer unless I give it some foam rolling love.

I've always had good intentions with the foam roller.  I mean, I own several, and they live on the floor of my living room where I can literally trip over them on my way to the computer.  But somehow rolling gets put aside as something I'll get to later.  I'm pretty good about getting on it after my long runs or when I'm particularly sore after a tough workout, but - like everything else in life that gets you where you want to go - it takes consistency to see (or feel) results.

Foam rollers in their natural habitat.
How am I going to make this a habit that sticks?  I don't exactly have an answer to that one yet, but I have found in the past that just the act of writing it down makes the goal a whole lot easier to stick to.  So, bam!  I got that going for me.  And this year's list of goals/resolutions is on a piece of paper that I've taped to the side of my computer, because that's where I spend a good portion of my day.  Seeing that angry foam roller face every time I sit down to write on the blog or check Facebook seems like enough of a reminder to keep me rolling.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Have you added any more resolutions to your list?

And P.S., if you're thinking about using the foam roller, but don't know where to get started, I have a couple of videos about it on my YouTube channel.  This one's a full-body roll out:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Badass, or just plain crazy? It's a fine line.

The other morning at my bootcamp, we were talking about... something.  Honestly, I don't remember how the conversation veered into the topic of being someplace early, but one of my campers asked, "Regular people early, or Pahla early?"  Everyone laughed, and another camper remarked that my habit of running in the wee morning hours is pretty badass.

That got me thinking.

Of the things that I do that make me feel badass, getting up early isn't really one of them.  My early-to-bed, early-to-rise habit is all about practicality:  I need time to drink my coffee and play a little Candy Crush before I'm ready to face the world.  And if I have to run before I go somewhere else, then early running it is.  I'm way more willing to give up my sleep than give up my run!

Every damn day!
I came to the conclusion that badass - like beauty, or possibly even like crazy - is in the eye of the beholder.  The things I see other people doing that I'm not capable of or willing to do seem totally badass to me.  I have a friend who is putting in some serious time and distance getting ready for her first Ironman.  Her numbers - especially for the swim - are incomprehensibly badass.  One of my clients recently completed a Spartan race, which included rope and wall climbs.  Tap out, that's too badass for me!  Another one of my clients decided - at age 64 - to take up running and has now done a handful of 5Ks.  Dude!

I'm sure there were people in their lives who thought or even said out loud, "Oh, you can't do that.  That's crazy!"  But they did it anyway.

And I think that's where the line is drawn.  I mean, objectively, it's crazy that a landlubber like me ever thought I could swim in open water, but there I went, competing in triathlon.  Any fool would come to the conclusion that after ten attempts, I am clearly not fast enough to run a Boston qualifying marathon, but I haven't given up that dream yet.  I've stood at the starting line of many a race for which I was woefully undertrained, but willing to give it my best shot.  Pretty crazy!  And pretty badass.

There's always going to be somebody in your life who thinks what you're doing is crazy.  Maybe you even think that yourself!  But the flip side of the coin is that there is also going to be somebody who - when you get out there and go for it anyway - thinks you're a total badass.

What's the craziest thing you've done lately?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thursday Three: Favorite Races

I'm not racing this month, but I already wish I was.  Now that I'm back in the swing of things and have my 2015 calendar more or less planned out, I'm impatient to race!  And, yes, I know I need to be cautious and build my base slowly and ease back into things, but.  But.

Seriously, unless this is literally your first time reading my blog, I think you know how that "patience is a virtue" thing is working out for me.

Anyhoodles, I've got racing on the brain today, so let's talk about my three favorites.  This is a pretty subjective topic, obviously, but I based my "favorite" status on a couple of factors:  the race course, how well I performed on said course, the atmosphere/race direction, and schwag.  Because I do enjoy a nice medal if there's one available.

1.  The California International Marathon.  You are not surprised that this is my number one choice (unless, again, it's your first time here, and if it is - welcome!).  I freaking LOVE this race.  They call it a "net downhill" race, but there are plenty of hills on your way down to the finish line.  It's challenging, but not crazy difficult.  The weather occasionally cooperates with a really lovely day, or sometimes a monsoon.  It's well organized, the expo is nice and they now offer a free shuttle to the start for everybody (you used to have to pay for it).  I ran my PR at the CIM back in 2010, but have NOT run a PW on this course, so that's cool (never mind the DNF I took in 2013).  On the down side, the t-shirts are hit or miss, mostly miss, and the schwag is non-existent.  Well, they send you a virtual goody bag after the race, but it's all discounts, it's not actual stuff.  Pretty lame.  Back on the plus side, the medals are good-sized, and good looking without being flashy.  What makes this my favorite race, though, aside from the convenience of being run practically in my back yard, is the atmosphere.  This race has fabulous spectators and the perfect amount of runners - just under 10,000.  You're never alone on the course, but you're not running shoulder-to-shoulder the whole way, either.  I've cruised across the finish line five times so far and have already signed up for the 2015 race.  I can't wait!!

First finish, 2009.  So very, very happy!
2.  The American River 50 Mile Endurance Run.  This race had me at hello.  I've run it as a pacer for UltraIronHubs and as an individual racer, and I wholeheartedly encourage you, if you are considering running a 50-miler, to run this one.  The course is challenging, obviously - it's 50 miles long! - but not so bad that a regular runner like me can't tackle it.  It's the second largest 50-miler in America, which means that they've got this thing locked down.  It's a very well-marked, well-spectated, and well-volunteered race.  You are never alone or wanting for anything while you're running here.  There are regular sweepers and medical personnel traveling the course to keep you safe and on time.  The only reason I'm not running it this year is because it's on a Saturday right in the middle of track season, and even though I can't remember the last time I attended an Open House or field trip, I don't ever like to miss watching my kids run!  The party at the finish line and the schwag are quite lovely - the medal hangs proudly in my hallway display and I wear my finisher's jacket all the time.

Seat belt selfie!
3.  The Urban Cow Half Marathon.  Way, way, waaaaaaay back in 2007, when it was still called the Cowtown Half, this was my first half marathon.  I haven't run it again since then, but I've spectated for so many years that it still makes the list of favorite races!  This race is all about having fun and running fast.  The weather here in early October is about as gorgeous as you can ask for, it's extremely well-organized, and you know what?  It's just FUN!  This race has a friendly, come-and-party-with-us vibe, even though it's designed with serious racing in mind.  The course is mostly flat and beginner-friendly.  There are also 5K and half relay options.  My favorite part, though, and one of the reasons I think of this race fondly every time I spectate at any race, is the fact that the medal is a real-life cowbell!!

Half marathon newbies!  Dang we look young!
This year's race schedule has so many new-to-me races on it, I'm already giddy with excitement.  I mean, of course I love my old standbys and I don't foresee a future where I don't run the CIM, but I'm really looking forward to falling in love with a new race, too.

What makes a race your favorite?  Are you all about the PRs and the bling, or are you swayed by course features and organization?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Picture This: Where I Run

My daily runs aren't exactly a pretty sight.  I see your pictures on Instagram of snowy fields and well-groomed trails and grassy expanses of open land and I get a little - okay, a lot - jealous.  I don't really have a lot of that picturesque beauty here in middle of suburbia.  It's why a lot of my weekday running photos are selfies with a little patch of grass or a sliver of sunrise in the background; that's as pretty as it gets around here (and I'm definitely not talking about me).

I have a client who always wants to run "someplace pretty."  She insists on getting in her car and driving someplace with lots of trees and greenery so she can enjoy her run.  I definitely see the appeal, but I've never thought of it as a necessity.  Most of the time, I don't pay that much attention to where I'm running, other than to try not to trip and fall (which doesn't always work out).  Sure, I love to run on the trails out in nature, but I'm just as happy with walking out my front door and following the sidewalk for a few miles.

This is where I run:

In neighborhoods.  This is probably my least favorite, and not just because it's ugly.  The sidewalks are narrow and are often blocked by poorly parked cars.  I also think it's one of the most dangerous places to run - people backing out of their driveways are almost never looking for pedestrian traffic.  I do enjoy the occasionally friendly cat meowing hello at me, though.

On city streets.  This one is a favorite during daylight hours because there's very little traffic and still some open land.  Sometimes I see bunnies hopping through this field.  Unfortunately, I've also seen snakes on this road, but once I saw an owl perched on a lamppost, so it all evens out.  I tend not to run here when it's dark because in the early morning hours this is a long, lonely stretch of road and I'd rather be a little more visible.

On major streets.  I do most of my running on major streets like this one.  The sidewalks are nice and wide and generally well-maintained.  Plus, it's hard to get lost on a straight road and there are always cars around if a big dog or a crazy hooligan tries to give me a hard time.  I don't mind trading the smell of exhaust and McDonald's for the security of knowing that there's always a bathroom nearby if I need one.

The nature trail.  MY nature trail.  This is, hands down, my favorite place to run, even though it's a short little stretch of trail - just a mile long.  I've been known to run back and forth on the trail and rack up long distances, but mostly this is either the first mile of my run or the last.  I love to watch the creek change with the seasons and I get to see all sorts of waterfowl whose names I promise myself I'm going to look up.  On one side of the trail are peoples' back yards, so I'm not really out in the wilderness here, but I can pretend.

As far as I'm concerned, any run is a good run, whether I was dodging parked cars or soaking in the beauty of a serene lake.  I'm just happy to be out there running.

Where do you run?  Do you prefer the convenience of an "ugly" run in town, or do you seek out a more attractive environment?