Uber-connectivity.

Remember a few months back Scott and I took an entire weekend to disconnect from the world, spending a whole weekend with no phones, no emails, no computers, no texting, no FB-ing, no tweeting, no nada?

Well — I’m feeling that uber-connectivity thing happening again (I’m mainly at fault here, though the hubs does have a pretty nasty addiction to Words with Friends…).

And quite honestly? It needs to be reigned in.
…a lot.

We did really well after that unplugged weekend of really taking care to avoid doing too much of that stuff on our date nights and particularly during our mid-week date nights (which happens to take place every Winesday, how fitting) – but if we weren’t calling it a “date” of sorts, all bets were off on the disconnected front.

And it’s happening more and more frequently. An incessant need to constantly check my email, respond to tweets, write and respond to FB updates, comment on posts in the various Facebook groups I belong to, etc.

…and I’m tired.

And if I’m feeling tired, I sure as hell know Scott is feeling it too.

So this weekend? I’m looking for a little unplugging time. I’m not calling it a completely disconnected weekend per se, but I definitely need to take a step back, reprioritize and focus on being present.

I want this weekend to be all about:

…showering my loved ones with adoration and complete and present attention.
…breathing in every moment of our 9-mile rundate planned for tomorrow (and *not* getting “all up in my head” this time!)
…cheers’ing to good friends, after a really good barre n9ne class tonight (taught by me, of course!)
…visiting with family who live close by but because “life” has gotten in the way, we haven’t spent nearly as much time visiting as we could or should or want to.
…and perhaps best of all, returning to our favorite local wine bar for a super cozy, super romantic date night with Scott on Saturday night. <3

It’s long overdue.

(taken at my sister’s house at a dinner party there last weekend, rose prosecco, don’t mind if I do. Note to self: buy some for this weekend…)

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Editor’s Note: Don’t worry…I didn’t forget about Foodie Friday. I just didn’t have anything particularly foodie and fun to share today. Since I’m not one to blog without intention, I’m skipping it this week. You’ll see me doing that now and then — but I’m fairly certain it won’t be too often. Given my ongoing love affair with food afterall. ;-)

Running (wicked) smart

(Editor’s Note: Back to regularly scheduled programming up in here – thank you all for indulging me in yesterday’s post. I clearly needed to get that off my chest – couldn’t stop pinning, tweeting, FB’ing about it all day yesterday. ;-) )

Lately,  I’ve been thinking about the whole working smarter, not harder mantra and how I’ve been trying to apply that to my running.

I like to think of it as running (wicked ) smart. <– a total Boston phrase, “wicked”

Thus far, my half marathon training schedule has certainly been changing on the fly week-to-week, depending largely on how I’m feeling in between taking and teaching barre n9ne classes and ramping up my running mileage week-to-week (I’m now hovering around  25-27 miles/week compared to my pre-training weekly mileage of about 15-24).

The whole “week-to-week” thing has been working out really well so far. I told you how “not a fan” I am of training plans overall and that I like to train by feel, training loosely week-to-week versus via a very regimented schedule. However, with the balance I’m trying to strike between teaching/taking barre classes and half marathon training, I’m glad I created an actual training plan this time around (even if I’m constantly adjusting it).

For example – just this week I had to make an adjustment to my running plan. Not because of a conflict in my schedule for the week. Nope.

It was simply because my body was telling me “No!” – and I chose to listen.

And really, I think that’s the key in this whole thing – choosing to listen. I am such a stubborn person and am the first to openly admit that it’s often hard for me to listen to my body when it’s telling me something. But I’ve learned from previous experience (and injuries!) that *not* listening never tends to work out very well.

So rather than risk junk miles (which I’m no fan of), I simply postponed my run from Tuesday night to this morning (as you’re reading this, I should be just finishing up said run!). That gives me a full day and a half since my last workout (6am barre method on Tues, rest day on Wed) so my legs ought to be very, very happy with me. Plus, getting my endorphins rushing before heading over to barre n9ne to teach is never a bad idea in my book. The 9am-ers ought to brace themselves – I’m bound to be full of energy for a nice little barre n9ne-style butt kicking. ;-)

My running “schedule” for this week remains intact, with slight modifications, and my body will be stronger and happier for it. And to be honest, if that run had simply been canceled vs. postponed for this week, I would have been ok with that too.

Big picturewhat’s an extra 6 miles *really* going to do for my training? Will it be a make-or-break for me?
Nope. Not even in the slightest.

A wicked smart question to ask yourself (myself included!) next time you’re even remotely questioning the “to run/not run” thang in your mind’s eye.

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And, in case you’re a curious person (like me!),  here’s how my training schedule  is shaping up this week (and I’m pretty pleased with it):

Sunday – cross-train (barre n9ne)
Monday – 5 miles, intervals; barre n9ne at night
Tuesday – cross-train (barre n9ne)
Wednesday –REST (oh glorious rest!)
Thursday –  6 (rescheduled) miles; barre n9ne legs (I also teach on Thursdays)
Friday – 7 miles, rundate style (with the sis!) (I also teach on Fridays)
Saturday – 9 miles, rundate-style (with the hubs, and hopefully via a new route we’re hoping to scout out tomorrow!)

Total miles this week:
27 miles
(which means I’m heading for my first 100 mile month!)

Itching for change.

For those of you that follow me on facebook, twitter or pinterest – you probably saw this post coming a mile away (hehe).

But this girl? She’s itching for change.

(shameless sister shot – hehe)

Of the hairstyle variety.

You see, I’ve had this cut for years now. And before that, I always had LONG hair:

(OMG this pic is SO old – and that’s not even my hair at it’s longest, but it makes my point, at least)

As in – I had the same long haircut for the vast majority of  my late-teen/early-20 years. My hair was a security blanket for me. I never fooled with the cut much, barely a trim most of the time. The cut I have now took me forever to work the nerve up to actually go through with.

But now? At the mere mention of going super-short (as in “pixie” short)I’m intrigued.

*Really* intrigued.

This is huge for me. I’ve never been one to jump at the chance to make drastic changes with my haircut (color – yes, cut – never). It always scared me to my very core. Deep down, I was afraid that it would make my cheeks look puffy and my already-long face look longer. It made me feel self-conscious.

But yesterday when the word “pixie” was mentioned — I kind of got excited about it. And eagerly started pinning away.
(Now before you get too excited, I haven’t made any decisions quite yet. I have until April 14 to figure it out — that’s when my hair appointment is….)

But the real reason I’m blogging about my HAIR of all things today? <–I promise to get back to fitness talk tomorrow! 
It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come.
How good it feels to finally be comfortable in my own skin and confident enough to be open to taking a risk with my appearance. I hope this doesn’t sound entirely vain and ridiculous — but this small rock feels like a much bigger rock to me.

Just another “score” for me in this journey towards becoming my own best friend. Kind of crazy that a little facebook status update could cause this much thinking and reflecting on my part, huh?

Guess that’s the “Overthinking Ollie” in me coming out again. But this time, I don’t mind that she’s made an appearance. It’s got me thinking and mulling in a really good way for a change.

…now if only I could come to a conclusion on the whole to chop/not chop debate. April 14th will be here before I know it. ;-)

When it’s worth it.

I had a moment the other night.
…where I questioned.

…why does mindless eating — or the simple urge to — (an old, a very stubborn habit of mine that now and then likes to try to rear its ugly head) throw me into a tailspin of doubt and frustration?

…why do I push myself to run harder, faster, longer? Do I do it because I love it or because I simply can’t stop doing, going, moving?

…why do I sometimes beat myself up in those rare instances where I don’t give my workout every last ounce of strength and energy I have?

…why do I feel the need to strive for perfection all the time?

The answer? Well, it took me a day or two to get here but here’s the bottom line in all of this questioning and wondering I’ve been doing.

And really, there are two “answers” to the why’s.
…First off – I have some work to do in terms of quieting the mind, of striving for excellence instead of perfection. Note to self.
…but secondly, (and more importantly?) I do, I am, I strive…

…because I’m worth it.

The nearly year-long journey I’ve been on to reshape my eating habits – towards fueling (and downright delicious) foods, eaten with a mindfulness I never posessed before (and sometimes still struggle with, admittedly).

Worth it.

The same nearly year-long journey with barre n9ne, towards reshaping my body — but even more importantly — reshaping my mind. Around the concept of working smarter, not harder. Of connecting my mind with  my body with every plie, every shoulder raise, every glute lift. Of learning to love the mind and body that stares back at me from the mirror every day.

Worth it.

The miles and miles I’ve put into training and running half marathons. That has lead me towards a bucket list item of mine. The elusive 26.2 miler. Just once. I want to do it, just once. It’s a huge committment, but it’s mine to make.

Worth it.

The hours and weeks spent training to become barre n9ne certified. Which meant saying “no” to plans with friends on weekends, and even less time spent with my husband (our time already so short during the week given work schedules and ‘life’ in general) while in training. But those hours sacrificed with loved ones? Equalled chasing and captured a huge dream of mine.

Worth it.

So next time I start to question my intentions in life — from the very smallest to the very largest — I’m going to think back to this post.

The day where I remembered that I’m worth it.

Because if I remember that I’m worth it?

I’ll be a better wife to my husband who I adore.

I’ll be a better sister to my beautiful sisters who are my best friends.

I’ll be a better friend to those who constantly lift me up and support me, loving me for me (quirks and all).

I’ll be a better follower of His word, a believer in Faith and all the blessings that come with that.

Because that’s what matters most.
(said far more eloquently by Lindsay in her post yesterday, a total must read. And even though I read her post after writing this one, where for a split second I wondered if my own post sounded too “me-centric” — I reconsidered. Because part of our life “resume” is about fulfilling your own dreams and self-worth and in turn, passing that “worth” forward through the actions and emotions you share with loved ones to, in turn, lift them up higher, higher, higher…)

“All up in my head” for 8.5

These are happy feet. Tired. But happy.

8.5 miles later — and all told? A very “all up in my head” kind of run.
 

“Man, my legs are tired. I really need to stick to the two days on/two days off running schedule.”

“If I’m *this* tired and we’re ‘only’ running 8.5 today, how the eff am I ever going to get through 10, 15, 20 milers once we start marathon training?”

“Is that my knee that hurts? Or am I completely making that up.”

“Nope, knee is fine, but my hips are so, so, so tight. Must stretch when we get back.”

“When are we gonna be done? This last mile and a half feels.like.forever.”

And so on, and so forth.

Physically this long run felt much tougher than it should have.  I got plenty of sleep the night prior, was well hydrated, even had pizza for dinner for an added carb-boost in the AM. My body was in good shape to run today.

It was my mind that didn’t get the memo.

It was all over the place. Clearly, as evidenced by the above. And I think I’ve gotten to the root of it: the marathon looming is freaking me out.

I’m a total head case because my mind automatically goes to the miles involved in full marathon training. And right now – this brain of mine simply cannot fathom such long distances.

But really? It shouldn’t fathom such long distances (yet), nor should it be thinking that far ahead. I still have months and months until training begins for Chigago.

Right now, my eye needs to be on the near-term prize: May 6th and the Cox Providence Rhode Race half marathon.
Nothing else.

Lesson learned from this weekend’s long run? Get that eye on the prize, shut down the mental mind games, and just go for it. Run hard, but run free. Build that mental toughness for May 6. Stop thinking about Chicago. Loads of time to be thinking about that.

Annnnnd end giant ‘note to self’ in blog post form. ;-)

Foodie Friday – random musings

Taking after my sister’s super-funny, rambly, “musing” style blog post from the other day, I thought I’d follow her lead with foodie friday.

We’re calling it Foodie Friday – random musings.

Why am I so obsessed with peanut butter these days? I seriously could eat it on a piece of cardboard and it would taste like heaven to me. I put that sh*t on everything, I swear (even my IRL friends are starting to notice this infatuation and have commented to that effect!)! When I saw Amy’s post with all sorts of PB-inspired goodies, I nearly drowned in my own drool. Truth.

<I just realized I’m down to my last half jar of peanut butter. This is cause for panic. Must hit Trader Joe’s asap today before this turns into all-out hysteria.>

Why am I so stubborn about trying new recipes? I guess it’s not really stubborness so much as sheer laziness (yes, I *do* posess a teeny tiny lazy gene, I swear). I look at some recipes and think “yum” but when it comes down to reading the recipe, buying all the right ingredients and THEN making it? I’m like “meh.” That is, unless the recipe includes items I already have on hand. Enter Janeetha’s protein pancakes. Genius. Ridiculously good. And guess what I put on time of my version? Wait for iiiiiit. Peanut butter (and bananas). Effing delicious. Note to self: stop being stubborn lazy and try more of your bloggy friends recipes, they are really, really, really, really good. Clearly way better cooks than I could ever be!

Protein pb&banana pancakes…<3

Smoothies. Hm. Another stubborn thing about me. I tend to avoid smoothies because I like to eat my calories vs. drink them (unless it’s wine and then all bets are off. wait. did I just say that out loud?).  Every little calorie is precious to me, what can I say? Anyway. After reading Lindsay’s post on smoothies, my wheels started churning a bit. Between her delicious looking concoctions plus Tina’s continued insistence that a post-long run smoothie is great recovery fuel, I’m starting to wonder if maybe, just maybe, smoothies are in my future. Especially as I start marathon training in June (I can pretend the smoothie is really a milkshake, right?).

So the point of this post, really? (and yes, I realize my “musings” weren’t nearly as funny as my sister’s post was…)

I love food.

And I think (and read) about it a lot. *And* ya’ll totally inspire me with your foodie finds. So THANK YOU for sharing them in your blogs. I promise to stop being all “meh” about trying new recipes I spy on your blogs. Rather than pin them to death, maybe, just maybe, I ought to try them, huh?

…and on that note – I’m off to find me some oatmeal. With peanut butter.
Obvs.

The #PROOF is in the SWEAT

Sweat. Is. Good.

All I can say is this. Last night’s run was a make-or-break-me as a runner style run.

It wasn’t a rockstar run like Saturday.

It wasn’t an I-could-run-forever kind of run.

It was a huge challenge. Mentally. Physically. All of it.

But I LOVED it.

You know why? It proved to me that no matter the conditions, no matter the mind games my brain tried to play on me, no matter the heavy stomach feeling that plagued me, I stuck to my guns. I pushed through. For all 7 sweaty miles. With the hubs by my side. In uber-warm running conditions for March. (wearing running shorts and a tank top on the second day of spring MORE than made up for those short-falls, trust me).

All of that aside — it was an awesomely puketastic sweatfest.

And if looks could kill? Well I’ll tell ya what that look in my eye would say:

The #PROOF is in the SWEAT.

Why yes, yes indeed.

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Although I’m riding quite a runners high at the moment (I wrote this post last night), I *did* want to share a few lessons learned/lessons applied from this run while they were fresh on my mind:

Lessons learned & applied:

That Nathan handheld water bottle? Best investment ever (and yes, the hubs carried it for the majority of the run, what a guy!). Remember that run last Wednesday? The one where I swore I would puke after? Yeah – that did not happen last night. I felt great afterwards. Thank you hydration! <–see? I *can* take advice!

Honey Stinger chews are awesome. Even Scott liked them. (which is huge since he can be so picky!). Totally got us through the toughest part of our run last night.

Lessons Learned (to be applied later):

Yogurt pre-run just doesn’t work for me. Every time I thought about what I’d eaten before our run I kind of got a little gaggy. Note to self – avoid dairy before a run. Stick to the carbs you were originally planning to have before the run. Much nicer on the tummy.

Any food pre-run must be digested for at least 1.5 hours. Anything less and I’m plauged with that “heavy stomach” feeling. No bueno.

Wear sunscreen. Um hi – I’m pretty sure I have a sunburn going on here. In MARCH. Whaaat?

RFM: barre-style

This is my official Request for Music (RFM): barre-style.
(yes, I realize I’m a giant dork)

But seriously, now that I’m a regular instructor at barre n9ne, I kind of want to have awesome music every single time I teach. I mean, not an entirely NEW playlist each week, but at least some fun new songs thrown into the mix to keep everyone on their toes (literally and figuratively, of course!).

It’s so interesting. I have never been big into building playlists because well, I never needed to before. I don’t run with music. If I was lifting weights at home or at the gym, I never listened to music, preferring to stay in the zone instead. But with barre n9ne? The music can really get you through a really tough  last set of glutes at the barre (I played “Sexy Back” during that series the other day, totally stole the idea from my sis who did the same thing in one of her classes, see? I’m not even all that original, dammit!), or really *any* tough set of *anything* in a barre n9ne class. If you aren’t swearing under your breath by the end of a set, you aren’t working hard enough. ;-)

So yeah, I’ve decided I’m kind of iTunes-illiterate. I’m fumbling around over here, on my iPhone and on my laptop, kind of blindly and well, I feel like a giant dork for even admitting this! Shouldn’t I be more technically-savvy when it comes to this stuff?? Clearly, notsomuch.

…but I digress.

My POINT is this. Well – I have two points (sorry, I’m writing this in very scatterbrained form, what is my problem??).
Point #1 – I need your best music ideas.
Point #2 – I love, love, love everything about teaching so far, including playlist creation. Even if I’m kind of a giant dumbass about it.

Bottom line I’m living my dream and LOVING every minute of it.

This is, by far, one of my favorite places to be, these days:

In class the other night (where I was the “student” vs. “instructor”), I was thinking of neat new things to take to my class on Thursday morning (all while swearing under my breath – of course-after the last set of “chair” — my most favorite love-to-hate move at the barre). My wheels are spinning like crazy over here trying to come up with fun approaches to my own class structure — truly using the structure to help those who take my class get the most out of that hour they spend at the studio with me. That is SO important to me — that they walk away feeling proud of themselves for giving that workout their all, and for knowing that they got their ass handed to them…in the best possible way. ;-)

(And  again, I’m digressing — ack, I’m all over the place. Sorry friends.)

So here we go (the point of this post to begin with!) – I need your best most favorite fun and upbeat tunes to add to my iTunes collection so here it is: My RFM: barre-style. Lemme have it!!

Training…by feel.

This post is totally inspired by a conversation I had on Saturday with these lovely ladies:


Meaghan (total rockstar) and Samantha (another rockstar) and moi!

My sis, Meaghan and Samantha – at our sushi date at Snappy Sushi on Newbury Street in the city.

This lunch date was a LONG time coming — we talked about getting together way back in January but it was around that time that Jo and I started barre n9ne teacher training and all weekends were spent training away. WELL worth the effort since we’re now both instructors at the studio but it meant waiting uber-patiently for this “date” of ours to finally happen.

We talked about a million things at lunch – spending over three hours at the restaurant well after we’d devoured a gorgeous plate of sushi (that I’m still dreaming about today!).

But one of the topics that made a big appearance during lunch was running, training, listening to our bodies when injured and everything in between. A biggie (at least for me) was around training for the Chicago Marathon and doing right by my body, both in terms of fueling needs but also in terms of the race day itself.

and training, by feel. Which is how I roll, but very few runners (at least the ones I know) tend not to do.

For me, I know it’s been a good run when I don’t hit the proverbial wall during a longer run, or I hang in there during that last round of speed work on the treadmill, or I have that “I could run for miles” rockstar run like I had on Saturday.  I don’t need a series of numbers to tell me how good or “bad’ or challenging a run was.

I train…by feel.

I don’t train with a Garmin. You all know this by now. I don’t avoid the Garmin to be a running rebel or anything, I just know that for me — I’ll get so caught up with the numbers that it’ll steal the joy from a sport I’ve grown to love, and it’ll prevent me from getting my head fully in the game, both during training runs and on race day itself. (As Meaghan said during lunch, “the Garmin can be a total mindf*ck”…right on!!)

And for me – having my head fully in the game is the key to running strong, running happy and running proud. My ongoing running mantra these days.

But interestingly, this “training…by feel” mentality is also serving me well as it relates to that training “fine line” I blogged about just last week. When it comes to barre n9ne classes — I know what my body is capable of and I try, with every single class that I take, to give it my all. To know that I’ve pushed myself to that shake point and beyond and can confidently walk out of that studio knowing that I left nothing on that floor but my best effort. Every single time. And when it comes to balancing taking classes with teaching classes and training for the half marathon in May — the training by feel mentality has helped me to tweak my plan each week. Even just minor tweaks like turning Sunday into my rest day this week, pushing the 6-miler I had planned for the day to Wednesday night after work instead.

Little tweaks. Training smarter, not harder.

So I guess what I’m saying is this. The bottom line (realizing this way of training won’t work for everyone, per se) is that training by feel is what’s working for me.  It keeps me balanced. It helps me maintain the mind/body connection I’ve fought so long for. And it’s keeping me strong and energized during a very busy training cycle leading into race day.

The big goal in all of this is to have a great race on May 6th (and *maybe* a shiny new PR…maybe), but also to go into full marathon training with the tools I need to continue to train smart, to train by feel, and to toe that starting line on October 7th ready to run proud, strong, and happy.

Running, rockstar-style

There’s only one way to describe Saturday’s run: I felt like a rockstar.

Let me set the stage for you:
It was a gorgeous spring morning, cool and calm. Barely a breeze.
I was well-hydrated and very well-rested.
My legs were happy (I think my training schedule is playing out nicely, more on that in a minute).
I was ready to run, mind, body and soul.
…the only thing missing? This guy:

My running partner-in-crime and favorite running “coach” ever? Yeah, he was battling cold #45 of the season (I guess his coworkers were right to warn him that his first year teaching he’d be sick the whole year…they weren’t kidding!). I had to force him not to join me, the stubborn guy that he is. It also forced me to get out of my comfort zone and face down our first longer half marathon training run solo.

For those of you who know me particularly well, you know that I typically don’t love to run alone outside. This was uncharted territory for me.

But oddly enough? I felt really ready for it. I’ve been facing down fears and getting uncomfortable all over the place so far in 2012, why not face down another one with this run? That’s sort of how I tackled it in my mind. I was putting my game face on, a “face” I’m getting more and more comfortable wearing. I’ve decided, I kinda like “her.”

After gearing up in my lightweight running tights (it was about 40 degrees when I left the house), a long sleeve running top and another layer on top of that, I grabbed a package of honey stingers — remembering my promise to all of you last week re: fueling! — and off I went.

I quickly warmed up, got settled at the top of the hill (our “starting point” for basically every run we do) and off I went (no “kiss for luck” kiss…boy did I miss that!). Immediately, I knew this was going to be a good run. My legs were so, so, so happy. I was humming along, my mind going in a million different directions, I was in the zone.

My zone.

I kind of chuckled to myself at how quickly my mind jumped from topic to topic — at one point even thinking to myself that I ought to do these solo runs more often. If only to relieve Scott of my constant “notes to self” style chatter I’m always barraging him with when we run (and basically anytime of day, running or not). He might appreciate the peace and quiet now and then. <grin>

But anyway, I was running along, happy to be tackling the miles — running one of our favorite routes ever. As I ran, I mentally plotted out when I’d take some fuel in. I decided to start fueling at around mile 4, at the top of a sneaky little hill right after a bridge that takes you over the ocean near our house (which looked like glass on Saturday, so calm and peaceful…made me wish I had my phone with me to snap a pic!). And then I’d fuel again after the turnaround (again after a sloping, sneaky hill) and if I needed a third, I’d take one before the last 2 mile out-and-back near our house. At first, I felt kind of silly fueling this way — wondering if I really”needed” the fuel or if it was just a mind game. But, as I neared each of those points on the route, I found that taking in the fuel was helping keep my energy levels consistent and my pace strong and solid. It also made the miles go by faster because I started looking forward to the next honey stinger chew (tasty little suckers!).

Before I knew it — I was into the last mile, a sloping hill down and up before turning around to head back to the house. I was stunned by how great I felt. One of those “I could run for hours” feelings — and I honestly could’ve kept going for another mile or two or three but knew Scott would be waiting and worrying if I didn’t get back to the house (he seriously was by the door when I got home, ready to come out to find me if I didn’t get back soon, he’s so cute…).

I walked into the house, gave him a giant hug and thought to myself:
Rockstar. Yes, indeed.

This run solidified for me that this training plan of mine is working very, very well for me. The two days on, two days off style of running is really giving my legs the time to run and recover in between cycles. High five to me for finding a training cycle I can really get behind – fine lines and all. ;-)

This run also reminded me just how much I love, love, love to run — for every challenging run or series of runs, a run like this — a rockstar run — makes it all worth it. Always.