Another dark thirty rundate

God, I love running before the sun rises. 

Like, *really* love it. 
(especially when that run involves Scott, my most favorite running partner of all <3)

This morning’s dark thirty rundate was just what we both needed. Despite those “Pounded” legs of mine. The legs that left me hobbling around the studio yesterday trying like hell to avoid anything plie-related (which is very difficult to do if you’ve ever been t a barre class lol). 

My legs this morning didn’t fail me. They proved to me that despite some lingering soreness, despite how ‘worked’ they still felt even days after Pound training, these legs will always carry me. Always.

What I loved about this run? 

  • I worked for each step.
  • I chased the ‘rabbit’ like a fool — that ‘rabbit’ would be my husband who kept a good pace just ahead of me, knowing I’d try like hell to keep up.
  • The sun started to rise just about 15 minutes into our run. When did the sun start rising at 5am?? I *love* it.
  • I felt speedy, even surprising Scott during our final kick around the corner towards the home stretch and finishing just a few steps behind him (he thought he’d be left waiting on me for a good minute or two!)
  • I let my mind wander.

And where did my mind wander? To this woman. My Nonna. Who I spent a lot of time thinking about yesterday, the three year anniversary since her death. And the moment on our run that made me think of her? When Scott cracked a joke that I just *know* she would’ve giggled over. She loved his humor. She’d pat his cheek and laugh when he’d tell her stories (usually stories that involved making fun of me, hehe). 

We were running along, nearing the ocean along our route, smelling the salty air and listening to the birds chirp. We passed under a bunch of trees overhanging the sidewalk and were overcome by the sounds of birds chirping away in the branches above. There had to be at least 20 birds up there chirping away. Scott said, “it’s like running through a cocktail party!” And I giggled — all I could imagine was a bunch of birds with martini glasses and champagne flutes chit-chatting away in their cocktail dresses. (a totally normal thing for birds to do lol) Don’t ask me why but it struck me as funny and made me think of Nonna and how much she would’ve found it funny too.

Just a little moment that I’m glad I captured this morning. 

I’m also glad I captured this shot, post-run — I just love his face. That smile. It melts my heart. Every. Single. Time. #teamsutera <3

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A dark thirty rundate

Let’s set the scene, shall we?

4:30am: alarm clock #1 blares

I smash the snooze button as fast as I can. I *hate* the sound of the alarm clock, will do anything to wake up just before it blares just so I don’t have to hear it.

Quickly assessing my sleepiness and decide that yup, we’re doing this. The dark thirty rundate I promised to myself, to eachother and yes, to the ladies of the barre n9ne running group on Facebook. I was totally accountable.

The hubs….well let’s just say he was less than excited to roll out of bed. Even tried the ‘ol roll over and cuddle up trick, thinking that would convince me that an extra hour sleep was a way better idea than getting out for our run.

(doesn’t he know me by now? I mean, really, hehe)

I got up first, brushed my teeth and got dressed. While pinning back my hair in the bathroom, the hubs rolls in and utters (with eyes at half mast): “this sucks.” I giggle. But carry on (of course).

Less than ten minutes after the alarm clock woke us, we’re out the door. It’s semi-dark but brisk and cool. Utterly perfect running weather. Birds were chirping up a storm and man was I a happy camper.

God, I’ve missed this, I thought.

Immediately my mind started to wander. Thinking back to last summer and early-fall during countless early morning, and typically steamy hot #teamsutera rundates leading up to the marathon. I didn’t think so much about the miles (at least not in terms of missing those long distances or anything), but I thought about those miles in terms of how much I missed those shared miles. Those quiet, sometimes chatty, sometimes silent, rundates.

This is what running is all about for me.

Mind wandering. Body working. Shared silent moments with the hubs. And quiet moments with myself, my own thoughts. Letting go of various frustrations from the previous day, thinking about the day ahead, the week ahead, the month ahead, daydreaming, or thinking of nothing at all. Just being.

…and this morning? The added layer of #rundate fun? The fact that my husband kicked my ass on this run. Totally pushed our pace in a way that I hadn’t personally pushed in awhile. I needed that work. So, so much.

I also needed to remember why I run — and this morning’s dark thirty rundate was just the reminder I needed. I run because I can, because it makes me feel so alive, because of that forever love of shared moments and miles with the hubs.

#teamsutera4lyf <3

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On “found” time

So this past weekend didn’t go as originally planned. You see, I was all set to spend a good 8 hours at barre n9ne in training for Pound – Rockout Workout, a training that was *supposed* to happen this winter but a certain blizzard kinda interfered. But after last week’s events, it proved not to be the safest of times to be traveling into Boston for our friends at Pound, so alas, training didn’t happen afterall.

…which lead to a whole bunch of  “found” time on Saturday. 

Both of my usual Saturday morning classes at barre n9ne were already subbed out. I was supposed to be training for Pound, afterall. So just like that — my Saturday was a clean slate, with absolutely no schedule, no agenda, no plans whatsoever.

The ‘old’ me would’ve whipped out my to-do list…or started an entirely fresh to-do list, and gone to town. You see, I think I’ve done a good bit of changing the past 8 months or so — I suddenly remembered this post: the one where I told myself to chill the eff out. And I remembered how anxious and upset I felt, how all up in my head with mind crazies galore I felt, how utterly strained and unhappy I felt. And I remembered how much I did *not* want to return to that ‘self’ again.

So lo and behold — Saturday became a free-for-all, a day where suddenly ‘found’ time became fun time versus productive time. 

It started with an awesome, but very challenging, run with the hubs. #TeamSutera reunited once again to tackle one of our favorite ‘long’ running routes from our very first half marathon training almost 4 years ago. The route is about 20 mins from our house so we drove to the starting point and parked our car — this after sleeping in, awaking to *no* alarm clock, something that happens very rarely at the Sutera Manor these days — and off we went.

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We chugged along and man, it felt a lot more challenging…but in a very good, very ‘worked’ way, a way my body needed to feel. I admit that I battled my head a little bit at first, getting super frustrated that the run wasn’t one of those easy-breezy-could-run-forever runs. But then I remembered that sometimes you gotta work extra hard for the miles and let your body work. And after I gave myself that gut check reminder pep talk, I felt much better and chugged side-by-side with Scott.

It turned out to be an incredible run.

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I think our smiles say it all — it was one of those cleansing, refreshing, replenishing runs. I think all of the emotion of the week needed to escape and the miles were our escape route. We ran along freshly-rained-on pavement and all around us it just felt clean, fresh and new. All of us in Boston needed that ‘fresh and new’ feeling, I do believe. And we got it on Friday night and into Saturday morning in more ways than one. (SO glad both bombers are no longer roaming the streets of Boston…so, so glad. 

Other than that run? Scott and I spent some time pitter-pattering (this is SO a “Scott” word haha) around the house before we stopped to watch the opener of the Bruins and then the Red Sox games…and watching both ceremonies where the city paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy but also the heroes, I cried. And cried. I couldn’t be more proud of this city, of Boston, our home. <3

After wiping away those tears, we decided it was time to get out of the house for a bit. We wound up at one of our newfound favorite spots for an afternoon drink. They have ample seating at the bar and lots of TVs to watch the various Boston sporting events — and the pours there? They are generous to say the least, ha. ;-)

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It was an awesome break from reality — we chit chatted with our fellow bar-mates, and I even saw my boss there which was kinda funny. But mostly, we just took the time to get away from normalcy, using the ‘found’ time we had on our hands for fun, carefree time together.

So what’s my point here? (other than to blab on and on about how fabulous our Saturday wound up being??)

“Found” time is a gift. Use it wisely.

As recent events have shown us, life is so short, so fleeting and such a blessing. Live every single second of it. My vote? Let’s live a little more like the sentiment behind this Dove Promise message, hmm?

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Everyone needs a little me (workout) time

I hear this a lot — both from clients at the studio, from family and from friends who just don’t think they deserve, need or are ‘allowed’ to have ‘me’ time. Particularly when that ‘me’ time is of the workout variety. It’s seen by some as a frivolous activity, a nice-to-have versus a need-to-have or it’s a selfish thing to want or need that ‘me workout’ time.

But truly? Everyone needs a little me (workout) time. 
Everyone.

Yes, even I need it. 

You see, I’ve been working on a little experiment these past few weeks. Instead of looking at my me-workouts as nice-to-have activity in between all the teaching that I do each week, I’ve been looking at it as need-to-have time. Obviously within reason, balancing it out with the working out that invariably happens while I’m teaching class. But yes, I’ve been making my me workout time more of a priority. Even if it means shifting my focus a little bit — instead of wishing for or yearning for x amount of miles, I get excited about running a quick 30 mins after class or slotting in a fitdate with a bestie mid-week when schedules allow.  And yes, I #makeitcount.

So I have been committing to my ‘me time’ of the workout variety more these past few weeks and I’ve noticed something. Yup, you guessed it — I’m happier.

It’s not rocket science people, putting yourself first and chasing those endorphins produces, yup — happy, joyful energy. 

Sure, I still love, love, love all the hours I spend teaching, watching clients transform right before my eyes. LOVE. But I also love that me time either at the barre or on the mat where I have time to focus on my own muscle strength and endurance. Or the time I spend in my favorite sneakers, running 3 miles or 7, or somewhere in between, those miles don’t matter distance-wise — all that matters is that they are my miles. Miles I fought for particularly hard for on Sunday in the chilly, windy air. But it was worth it. SO, SO, worth it. Especially because it meant a #teamsutera reunion. <3

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So here’s my thinking — I will continue to make my ‘me workouts’ a priority. Within reason, of course, and while still respecting the rest time my body needs. But clearly, based on just the past two or three weeks alone, my mood is just happier, less stressy, more centered. I KNOW part of that has to do with the #presence2013 project. But I also believe it has something to do with the me-workout thing. It’s just needed. 

And please, I hope you all will take that time to remember that you are just important to make a priority as everyone and everything else in your life that is important and that you love. You also love yourself, right? So watch that (self) love blossom, and respect the me (workout) time as much as you can. It’ll only make you a happier, healthier, more content wife, sister, friend, mother, auntie, and daughter (ditto this for the boys who may be reading this post!). It’s important, truly.

My run-purpose. Lately.

My running. It’s evolved a lot lately.

I feel like I’ve been talking about my running in the context of ‘when I was in training mode…’ vs. ‘now that I’m not in training mode’ but really, what I should be talking about is my run-purpose. That’s the thing that has evolved, running-wise lately.

You see, for the past few years, my running cycle has looked something like this:

  • Summer – run like hell, soaking in as many early-AM (bunny-filled!) runs as possible, learning to love and embrace the ultra-humid runs and being outside with the hubs by my side whenever possible. Oh – and lots of bestie rundates, too.
  • Late-summer/early-fall – ramp that running up in preparation for a race, usually a half marathon (or that run time I ran a full marathon…), a way to close out all those summer months of running on a high note.
  • Late-fall/early-winter – continue to run whenever possible outside, choosing one or two other races to run before winter settles in (usually the Thanksgiving Day 5-mile “Wild Turkey Run” was our ‘swan song’ race for the winter, until recently…)
  • Dead of winter – work my ass off to keep my endurance and mileage up as best as I can, sticking to the dreadmill during the week (tooooo dark) and outside on the weekends, when possible. Doing what I could to work on speed via intervals, dreadmill-style, and working on endurance on the weekend with the outdoor runs.
  • Early-Spring – ramp that mileage back up in preparation for a springtime race, usually another half marathon. And then get VERY excited to continue keeping the miles up during the summer months – aka one of my favorite running seasons.

I repeated this cycle yearly – training, keeping my mileage up, working on endurance…that was my run-purpose. I *mostly* ran with the intent to race a few times a year and that’s what largely drove my running. Of course, above all else – I always run because I love it, because it makes me feel so alive and yes, because it makes me feel badass. But the ‘purpose’ was also usually training-inspired in some shape or form.

But my run-purpose is quickly shifting – there is no real training ‘purpose’ to my runs anymore. And I don’t really foresee that shifting much. And not because I don’t enjoy the thrill of the chase that training for a race provides, that end goal in sight, feeling that rush of crossing the finish line. I *still* really love those moments and like I’ve said about a million times, training for the Chicago Marathon and countless half marathons before that, provided some of the most memorial bonding moments with Scott, my favorite running partner of all. #teamsutera <3

But really, my run-purpose now is literally all about the joy of the sweat.

The rush I feel when I see a cool “7.0 miles” completed on the treadmill. Or I watch my pace quicken during those killer intervals (like these intervals, where my a$$ nearly fell off), and I am incredulous that my legs can actually move that quickly if I trust them to.

My running goal lately? To run. Whenever I can fit it in, for as long as I can fit into my day. It might be 7 miles, early-AM (like tomorrow’s plan!), dreadmill-style. Or it might be a quick 3 miler after I teach or take a barre n9ne class in the morning. Or it might be, the altogether TOO RARE rundate with Scott outside, hitting up one of our favorite 7 mile running routes (that I hope to return to this Sunday, actually!).

My run-purpose: the joy of the sweat.

My run goal: to run. Joyfully.

The bottom line: sweat

The bottom line: sweat.

As in – I love to sweat. Love, love, love it. 

And this week I’ve been LOVING on some fitdates of the ‘me workout’ variety.

On Tuesday — I proudly crushed a 7-miler before 7am (just love the sound of that, hehe…dweeb alert) and took this picture as proof of the sweat that was dripping from my hair and onto my chest. I <3 sweat. 

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And this morning? I got up bright and early to meet one of my besties at barre n9ne for a fitdate. And not just ANY fitdate, either. For one, I wasn’t the one at the center mat (not that I don’t LOVE being there, I doooo).  My bestie was the one teaching the class. It was my FIRST class with her, a rare treat indeed. I’ve been wanting to take her class for eons but schedules just weren’t jiving. I saw the opportunity to nab a spot in class for Fusion at 6am and went for it.

…and I’m SO glad that I did. <3


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(we look far too excited to be in pretzel, especially after she had us doing the killer side leg series right before this…hehe)

And because I have the rare opportunity to be at home today for work (I usually only work from home on Friday’s now), I took the opportunity to log a few miles on the treadmill. A sweaty 30-min rundate-for-one — perfection. And sure, the reason I’m home today is kind of crapstastic — we’re one car down at the Sutera Manor today (praying it’s nothing major, we’ll find out later today) — I’m looking for that silver lining, obviously. That silver lining? The ability to embrace the sweat. Plain and simple.

The other silver lining? The killer bowl of oatmeal with chopped apples and blueberries I’m about to devour (sorry, no pic — too hungry, hehe). 

Happy WINESDAY friends!!
I’ll be sending ya’ll a virtual cheers around 6pm tonight. Join me, please. :-)

Compliments.

This has been whirring about in the back of my mind a lot lately….

Compliments.

Giving them.

Receiving them.

Spreading the love.

Compliments – in my view – are similar to a giant bear hug.

And I think we should give them out even more freely.
…not to mention receive them as graciously as we can, and as freely as we can.

It dawned on me after seeing a string of super-cute comments and ‘likes’ on a pic I quickly instagrammed yesterday morning after a sweatastic run (more on that run in a sec).

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And it made me smile – not just the ‘likes’ on the pic which are always fun and I love seeing them, but the compliments or shouts of support or encouragement.
…like a giant bear hug.
And it got me thinking – why don’t we do that even MORE with one another?  I mean, what does paying someone a compliment take – two seconds?
…and you never know what that two seconds meant to the person receiving the compliment.

It could be the ray of sunshine on an otherwise dreary or bummed-out day.

Or the boost of confidence needed to hold their head high as they walk into an important meeting at work.

And a motivator to keep on keepin’ on.

So today, which just so happens to be Valentine’s Day (total coincidence, I swear!), I’m making a vow to make an effort to reach out more, pay more compliments to friends and loved ones and even strangers, and yes, to work on graciously receiving compliments too. (I noticed I have a horrible habit of *really* brushing off compliments when they come from my husband, and I have no idea why. I picked up on it during our snowed-in weekend actually. Got me thinking…)

So lovelies — will you join me on this mission? 

*****

In other news? My run yesterday was awesome. Another surprising one for me. I’ve had this weird ‘crick’ in my neck for a couple of days so I skipped my run on Tuesday (er, postponed it – to later this week…#accountability) to avoid too much jostling and potential further injury.

But Wednesday rolled around and my neck was still a little sore but not nearly as achy as before. So I went with it – promising myself I’d hop off the ‘mill if my neck bugged me. And part of me kind of expected that to happen. But alas, my neck behaved and off I went. After an hour-long episode on-demand of “Castle” (really good show btw) was over, I looked down at the display on my treadmill (I cover it up for the entire run, upping the speed as needed, but never looking at time or distance until I’m done) and I was shocked to see: 6.98 miles. I happily sprinted the final .02 miles and was SO excited to see that I’d fairly easily hit 7 miles before 7am. I was sweaty, happy, run-high and ready to get a move on the day.

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I’m constantly amazed at the evolution my running continues to take. Since being out of training mode for months now, my running has been on my time, my terms and practically every single run has surprised me – in a good way. My love affair with running is still very much intact, despite how loose and ‘free’ my running has been of late. Kinda neat, if I do say so myself. <3

Run less…love it more?

Ever since the marathon in October (which feels like a lifetime ago, btw…), I’ve been running less and less. Not entirely by design mind you, I had every intention of keeping up the mileage to a certain extent, trying to stick with a longer run per week, yadda yadda yadda.

But then, that didn’t happen.

For lots of reasons –

– I needed a break from the intensity of marathon training. I didn’t realize it until a few weeks had passed, but man — marathon training is no joke. I *may* have mentioned this before. ;-)

– I missed the barre. And wanted to have time to weave in a couple of classes to take vs. ‘just’ teaching classes at barre n9ne. I missed embracing the shake at the barre on my time, not teacher time.

– I also started teaching more classes at barre n9ne (thanks to the studio growing by leaps and bounds, whee!) Slowly but surely and over time, I picked another up class and then another — and now, I find myself at the studio almost every day teaching a class(es). *Swoon* I’m LOVING it every second of the way, clearly. <3

(sorry, digressing…)

In the midst of all of that, which took place over the course of the past few months, I did run but it was along the lines of that #runsimply mantra I set for myself a couple of weeks, post-26.2.  I chose to run when I wanted to run and I chose not to really plan the runs all the much — just running because I loved it, wanted a good sweat, was looking for that runner’s high that truly nothing else compares to.

And now? I honestly don’t even know where my mileage stands per se — I’m mostly running 2-3 times per week, MAYBE 4 times in a week but that’s been a stretch of late. And the distance varies from a quick and dirty 3-miler to somewhere in the 5-6 range if I’m on the treadmill during the week or in the 5-7 range if it’s the weekend and I have the luxury of running outside.

What I noticed the other day, though? Was that even when I’m running on the treadmill – the TREADMILL — I’m running something fierce. I’m the happiest runner you ever saw, my legs are humming along, the miles seem to just tick by, and I’m even returning to those hilly intervals I did a few weeks back that nearly killed me (the one where my a$$ fell off, yeah those…).

To run less has meant loving it more.

I am in deep passionate love with running. I’m not obsessed with it, I’m not thinking about my distance or pace or speed or runs-per-week constantly, I’m not thinking about it at all — unless I’m in that moment, that ‘run-moment’ and then? The love story continues.

It’s sort of like those friendships where you may not see that friend for months or even years at a time, but you can pick up right where you left off, as if no time had passed at all — never once skipping a beat.

That’s what running has become for me — a love story with no ending in sight, no definitions or rules or boundaries needed. It can change at any time and it’ll certainly continue to evolve this year, that much I am certain of.

But for right now, love? Running less means loving you more. <3

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The proof is in the sweat — and that smile on my face after one of those NEEDED get-out-of-my-head-shake-the-funk runs is all the proof I need.

Hills + Speed (er, sprints) = FUN

So I’m titling this post: Hills + Speed (er, sprints) = FUN. 

But really, the title *should* be: The workout where my ass fell off. 

Seriously — if you EVER need to get your ass literally handed to you, just talk to my fit and fab friend Meaghan who happens to be my running idol and one of my dearest friends (reason #3,478 why I love blogging: ‘finding’ friends like Meaghan who I’d NEVER have met if I never started blogging to begin with…)

This was our text exchange midway through my workout this morning:

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And this was what I looked like when all was said and done:

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What you can’t quite see in that pic is just how sweaty I am — particularly my hair: I. Was. Drenched.
…and exhausted

But deliriously high from the rush of the endorphins this workout gave me. For real, it was KILLER. But I managed to keep my promise to Meaghan – I had FUN with the workout even though it was quickly kicking my ass. And you know what? That, to me, is what working out *should* be about, bottom line: having fun.

Sure, we all have goals for ourselves when it comes to our own physical fitness and those goals come in many shapes, forms and sizes. But honestly? Setting hard and fast goals aside can be such a liberating thing and can be just the reminder you may need to get your ‘mojo’ back. At least that’s what I’ve been LOVING lately — having fun with my workouts, not focusing on any real goals other than staying as fit as I can while having as much FUN as I can. And making as many fitdates as I can fit into my schedule (something I’ve been failing at miserably lately, but I’m determined to fix this in the new year!). 

While I’m not going to share every last detail of what this workout looked like (since it was Meaghan’s creation, I think it’s only fitting that she share it if she so chooses…maybe if you ask nicely, she’ll post about it soon, hehe #peerpressure), I will share what it felt like:

The warm-up was fun, nice easy pace and it shook the cobwebs out (fighting off some weird sniffly thing over here, bah #notsicknotsick)
The first set was all about hills mixed with speed. There were SIX (very intense) rounds with tonnnnns of incline work.
The second set was all about speed, speed, speed. Sprinting FAST, but not so fast that form suffered. My core is now killing me from focusing on my form so much during this set (it also didn’t help that I taught arms & abs last night at the studio, heh)
The final set was a mix of moderate speed mixed with a small hill. I needed this set, like whoa.

In all? I managed to kick out 6 miles of INTENSITY all before 6:30am this morning. If THAT doesn’t make you feel badass, nothing will I’ve decided. 

And on that note — I’m off to find my ass, it fell off somewhere around mile 3 or 4 during that first set… ;-)

A fit slant on gratitude

Here’s the scene:

Alarm clock blares at 5:09am.
I roll over and smash the ‘snooze’ button as fast as I can. 
I lay there and think: “man, I am *so* exhausted.”
Scott snuggled up and got a little too cozy for my liking…making me want to drift right back to sleep.
But then I thought about just how close my little gym is to me: it’s literally a staircase away. 
I promptly got up, threw on my shorts, sports bra, tank and sneakers and was ready to go. 

#makeitcount 
#accountability

But what this morning’s workout *really* taught me?

To be grateful for the sheer fact that I literally have my workouts right at my fingertips. 
…not only do I have no excuse to skip that workout, but I am downright lucky to have such a luxury: a home gym complete with weights and a pull-up bar for Scott and a treadmill and TV for me. I fully realize that this is a luxury not to be taken for granted but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, in the height of a chaotic and busy but awesome week, I forget.

But not today. Today I am grateful. For a little thing like a treadmill and an episode of “Burn Notice” on-demand to keep me company for 5 (wicked sweaty) miles.

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Now that I no longer work from home and have a commute to face most days, I have to work much harder to strike the right balance. Between teaching a lot more, a new work schedule that requires I manage my time better to get into the office when I need to and leave when I need to (most often to teach);  my ‘me’ workouts are fewer and farther between, something I’ve mentioned before. My run-time is sacred to me (as is the time I get to actually take a barre n9ne class here and there), albeit shorter, and now on the treadmill most days (‘cept for the weekends) — but I wouldn’t even have the luxury of run-time if I didn’t have that treadmill at home. I’m not a fan of running alone in the dark in the wee hours of the morning so running on the treadmill is where it’s at during the week. So I’ve learned to not only befriend the treadmill but to look forward to that me-time, that me-workout, and the luxury of doing it in my own home? A total blessing. 

So today I’m taking a moment to put a fit slant on gratitude.

It might sound like a miniscule thing to be grateful for but for someone who works hard to stay fit and LOVES working out, it means the world to me. (and trust me, there are loads more that I’m grateful for every single day beyond working out, I can promise you that!). Plus, I have so many loved ones in my life who simply do not have the luxury of a workout at their fingertips or the ability to fit one in whenever they want to, so I try very hard never to take for granted my schedule, my workouts, my time. It’s an invaluable thing — time — and I try to cherish it as much as I can.

And now I ask you: What are *you* grateful for today?