As I say goodbye to 2013, it’s nice to take a look down memory lane and remind myself that although there were some of the rough goes that each year brings, there were also some high points too. It is so important to keep these high points in your memory to remind you that life isn’t that bad and when you are feeling down and out, you can always pull on your best memories to keep yourself in check.
So more as a reminder to myself when I’m feeling bad about my nutrition (or lack thereof), how I’ve fallen off the workout wagon (I will get back on soon, I promise), or how I continuously make excuses why I’m not making it to the gym (it’s freaking cold outside!) – I can take a look back at my 2013 and know that if I did it once, I can do it again, and if I stick to it I can probably do it better.
Without further ado – my top 10 2013 fitness highlights…
1. I climbed 36 flights of stairs. That’s 780 steps and 500 feet straight up in 7 minutes and 6 seconds coming in 3rd place in my age group and 206th out of 1,068 people. Not bad for my first try and not training.
2. I hit a new personal record for my 2nd half marathon. I ran the OneAmerica 500 half marathon in exactly 2 hours, which of course was my goal. I’m so proud of that number and I’m hoping to maybe hit a new PR in 2014.
3. I placed 3rd in my age division at the KeyBank 8K during the Carmel Marathon Weekend. This put me in the running for the Triple Crown Series.
4. I placed 3rd in my age division along with my husband at the Geist 5K this year and we ran the 5 miles back to the car in the rain. It was definitely a memorable race.
5. I won 1st place in my age division in the Triple Crown Series 8K events (KeyBank 8K, Eagle Creek 8K, Hoosier Park 8K). The first time I’ve ever placed 1st in anything!
6. I placed 1st in my age division at the Noblesville Fit Fest 5K. The second time I’ve placed 1st in a race and it was in the same year!
7. With the support of a few friends, I completed my first Whole30 program without any cheats or having to start over. Through this program (and a lot of testing and doctor visits) I was able to determine that I have a gluten and dairy intolerance that was causing some undesirable effects on my body. I have now since remedied those and I am feeling WAY better.
8. I was able to help a friend run in her first half marathon and ensure that she reached her goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less. There were times where she wanted to stop but together we pushed through and we ended up beating her goal by a few minutes. I am truly blessed to have been able to be a part of that experience with her.
9. I tried many new fitness activities in 2013 including CrossFit, SkyZone Skyrobics (trampoline exercises), Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, and Boxing to name a few. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to realize that there are some activities that I really enjoy that I never thought I would and others that just aren’t the right fit for me and that is COMPLETELY okay.
10. I had a 2013 goal to run 12 races in 12 months and I met my goal. I used to be that person who said, “The only way I would run is if someone was chasing me,” or “Look at those people running outside. They look miserable.” I never thought I would have enjoyed running as much as I do and I look forward to keeping up with this fitness adventure in 2014. Perhaps 14 races in 2014 should be my next goal. What do you think?
Happy New Year!
The Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon was my 2nd half marathon for the 2013 running season and my last race of the running season as well. Yes – I’ve hung up my running sneakers until the weather gets warmer again (metaphorically… we all know I still workout during the winter months, I just don’t pay to run in the cold). I’ve never run in the Indy Monumental half before, but I’ve run two downtown races so I figured it would pretty much be the same thing.
For this last race, I ran with my friend, Alyssa. Alyssa decided to run the half marathon (her first half marathon) to raise money for Joy’s House, an adult day service in Indianapolis for adults who need assistant and cannot provide for themselves. She had a goal of $200 and a finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Where do I come into play you might be thinking? My job was to be her running buddy, to keep her motivated when she wanted to quit, to help her with her pacing, and to let her know she was doing a good job. I was able to run with Alyssa a few times prior to our actual race day but nothing more than 8 miles. In fact, neither one of us ran more than 8 miles before the race. (To be honest, I didn’t train as much as I should have for this race but I was in the middle of moving from my house into an apartment and then from an apartment to my new house… it was quite a hectic month for me). I wasn’t too worried for myself, however, knowing I had run 13.1 miles earlier in the year and I run quite often. I know how to pace myself for longer runs without over doing it in it the beginning.
Race day arrives and we get to the start line. There is no race coral and no one is really pushing to be up towards the front. I find this oddly refreshing compared to my last downtown half marathon start. It is very relaxed. The music starts and we are off.
We ran most of the 13.1 miles with a couple of walk breaks and lots of water breaks to ensure hydration. In the end, not only did Alyssa exceed her $200 fundraising goal, but she also finished her very first half marathon in just 2 hours and 24 minutes (6 minutes under her goal). I am so proud of her and I’m so glad I was a part of it! Way to go!
I know I haven’t been posting recently about Insanity, but I’ve been doing it faithfully every morning 5 days a week (I know the program is a 6 day a week program, but I need some time off to recoup). I currently finished day 34 of the Insanity program which concludes my Recovery Week with Core Cardio and Balance. Unlike month 1 where your workouts alternate between a number of options, this week I had to complete the same video every day for 6 days. I am going to go ahead and put it out there, this was probably my least favorite video out of all the ones I have completed so far. Even though it is roughly a 37-minute workout, I am so bored in the beginning. I don’t start enjoying the video until the very end when we get into the super tough stuff like the hip-flexor burners and the shoulder burners. I didn’t feel like I was getting as good of a workout in this video like I did in the others, but on the other hand I was probably working in my fat burning zone (which is difficult for me to do). Knowing this bit of information kept me going through the entire week.
Here is a mini breakdown of the video:
Warm Up: Each move is for 1-minute
- Switch Heel Kicks – Jump rope while alternating your heels outwards, landing with soft knees
- Mummy Kicks
- Football Shuffle – shuffling side to side and clapping at the end
- Log Jumps – sprinting for 8 counts and jumping over an imaginary log
- 8 High Knees / 8 Power Jacks
- 8 Fast Feet / 8 Hooks – sprinting for 8 counts and then using your core to throw eight alternating hooks
Stretching: Shaun T is really good at making sure you get a good stretch in. Don’t skimp on your stretch and don’t forget to take the water break afterwards. You need it even if you think you don’t!
Core Cardio: Again each move is done for 1-minute. Keep your core tight and focus on that through the entire workout
- Moving Ski Hops – Keep your feet together and hop 4 times to the left and 4 times to the right. Make sure you knees are together, core is engaged, and you are using your arms.
- Hit the Floor – We’ve done this before in other Insanity workouts.
- Level 1 drills – drop down, jump into plank, 4 push ups, 8 floor sprints/mountain climbers (whatever you want to call them), just remember to keep your butt down.
- Heisman – Shaun T does this is EVERY warm up it seems like, you should be very familiar with this.
- 8 Switch Kicks/8 Hop Squats – Both of these exercises are from previous Insanity workouts but now put together in a combo move. Keep your core tight and try to lift your legs as high as possible for your switch kicks and in your hop squats, butt is down and legs are wide.
- High Jumps – try to jump as high as you can, feet together, squeezing your thighs together, and reaching as high as you can go. It’s not so much about quantity as it is about quality in this exercise.
- Wide Plank Walks – Walk your plank 4 steps to the right and 4 to the left.
- 8 Elbows/4 Suicide Drills – Throw 8 alternating elbow punches followed by 4 suicide drills. We’ve done suicide drills in other Insanity workouts.
Balance: Again focus on the core! Each exercise is for a full minute.
- 4 & 4 hops – Very easy exercise and effective exercise. All you are doing is hopping 4 times on your left leg, then alternating 4 times on your right leg for the allotted time period.
- Jab Switch Jump Squats – Throw 8 alternating jabs while sitting in a low squat. After your 8th jab while still in your squat position jump up and do a complete 180 degree turn in the air. Land and repeat.
- Hip Flexor Burners – This exercise is slightly different in that you hold each exercise for 30 seconds each without breaks! First start with a simple knee lift, contracting your core as you lift your knee to hip height. Arms are bent, elbows in to help keep your balance and keep things centered. Then after 30 seconds keep you knee lifted at hip height and begin small pulses lifting your knee up and down. Finally after another 30 seconds you’re going to take the same leg, keeping it lifted, and extend your leg out (foot flexed) and back in for 30 seconds. You may need to hold onto something to keep your balance at this point. Once 30 seconds is finished, repeat the entire sequence on the other leg.
- Oblique Knee Lifts – Using your right arm and your right leg out to the side. Bring your elbow to your knee (or as close as you can get it) for 30 seconds. Repeat with left arm and leg.
- Shoulder Burners (My favorite part!) – Get yourself into a plie squat (or regular squat if you aren’t flexible), take your arms straight out to the side (parallel to the floor) and pulse your arms for 30 seconds. After that immediately begin bringing your straight arms front and back out to the sides contracting your core as you bring your arms forward for 30 seconds. After that bring your arms up above your head and touch your fingertips and bring your arms back down (parallel to the floor) for 30 seconds. Immediately go into back arm circles for 30 seconds, keeping your core tight, staying in your plie squat, and arms straight. Finally move into forward arms circles for the last 30 seconds.
Cool Down: Stretch – don’t skip this part!
The funniest thing I found about the stretching part is that as you are stretching out your shoulders, Shaun T says don’t put your head back like him because it’s bad for you but if you are watching the video, over half of the people are doing it too. I found that quite amusing. I’m glad that I stuck to it and finished this week, but I’m so looking forward to what Month 2 has in store! Stay tuned!
I signed up for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon back in November, thinking I would have plenty of time to train appropriately and sufficiently for this mini-marathon. Little did I know that my gym would go out of business, the new gym I joined wouldn’t open until March, and the weather would suck so bad that I wouldn’t be able to run outside very often. I got a couple 8-milers and one 10-miler run in before the race but nothing like I had when I trained over the summer for the Women’s Half-Marathon in September. On my last long run, my left hip-flexor felt really tight and was sore for an entire week. I was really worried that I was going to pull something during the race.
Needless to say, when I went into the week leading up to the race, I was a bit anxious. My anxiety doubled when I checked the weather forecast… rain 40% chance. Of course – 87 degrees, sunny, and beautiful all week long and then Friday and Saturday hit and the temperature is supposed to drop and rain all weekend. Perfect. Not only did I not properly train for this run, I’m worried about pulling my hip-flexor, and now it’s going to rain. I checked the weather again on Wednesday, the percentage had moved up to 80%. I cannot tell you how much I prayed to God that the rain would hold off long enough for everyone to get through the race, but just in case I headed to Blue Mile, picked up some Body Glide, new wicking socks, and a dry-fit shirt.
Friday night, I headed to Olive Garden with some of my friends to carb it up to prep for my race. Two helpings of salad, a breadstick, and an entire plate of spaghetti with meat sauce – Delicious! (Yes – I ate it all) I headed to bed around 10:30 PM, by midnight I was starting to get a bit anxious about not getting enough sleep for my race. You know that feeling when you are lying in bed and you think to yourself, “If I go to sleep now, I’ll get 5 1/2 hours of sleep…. if I fall asleep now, I’ll get 5 hours of sleep.” Yea – that was totally me
Friday early Saturday morning.
My alarm went off at 5 AM and I had no choice but to get up. 35,000 people all heading downtown equals limited parking places which means no hitting the snooze button. I check the weather – cloudy 0% chance of rain. Hallelujah, an answered prayer! I went through my morning race rituals, woke up my
driver cheerleader husband, got him ready, and out the door we went. We got to the outskirts of downtown Indianapolis and the traffic was horrific. It was 6:30 AM and I’m supposed to be in my corral at 7:00 AM. I’m starting to get sweaty palms and heart palpitations. I HATE being late to anything. In the meantime, my husband was laughing at me and telling me to chill out. We had plenty of time, he said. Little did he know of the parking issues we will have once we get there (plus my issues with reading a map and not knowing downtown very well). Eventually he had to drop me off so I could get to my corral on time and he went off in search of a parking spot.
I found my spot, thoroughly stretched, because I did not want to injure myself nor did I want to have to walk at any point in time during my race because of a pulled muscle. The weather was cool, there was a slight breeze, and it was cloudy but there was no rain in sight. I was one happy girl! God is so good!
I took off at a relatively slow pace due to the traffic jam that is inevitable once you cross the start line. Weaving in and out, running up on the sidewalk to avoid traffic, and merging back in when I could no longer run up there – my starting time wasn’t where I had hoped it to be. My goal was to break my first marathon time of 2 hours and 2 minutes, but things weren’t looking so good. Once I got passed the first 3 miles, I got into my groove. In fact, miles 3-6 were pretty groovy. As I got onto the racetrack, things got a little congested, but being from the east coast and walking through Time Square in New York on multiple occasions, one becomes good at maneuvering their way through the masses. It was when I hit mile 10 that I noticed my feet starting to blister, my hip-flexors were getting tight, things were not looking/feeling good.
Being my second half-marathon, I know that the first 10 miles are easy, it is the last 3 miles that get you. At this point it is all about mind over matter. You have to mentally push yourself to continue. You cannot give in to your body when you are pushing for a goal. I could feel my toe starting to bruise on my left foot, blisters were forming on the sides of my big toes despite the body glide and fancy new socks, I was getting tired. I threw a quick prayer to God asking him to give me strength, to carry me those last 3 miles to the finish line. Over and over again I had a silent conversation with God asking for strength, for willpower, and for the pain to subside just long enough for me to finish.
And there it was, the mile 13 marker. All that stood between me and my goal was 0.1 mile. I took everything I had in me and I went for the finish line. I sped up, gave it all I got, passed a number of people along the way, and crossed the finish line. I had no idea how I did, but I soon got a text from my Dad saying, “Thumbs up on finishing in 2 hours!” I had done it! I had beat my last time by 2 minutes for an official time of 2 hours and 3 seconds.
I know in my heart that I did not do this alone. “Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” – Psalm 103:1-2
This workout is guaranteed to whoop your butt in 7 minutes IF you seriously push yourself. What do you need? A treadmill (or roughly a 200m or 1/8 of a mile outdoor area you can run), and weights (dumbbells are fine). You will need to choose the appropriate weights for you. I used 14 pound medicine ball for my squats and 12 pound dumbbells for my squat presses. The goal is to complete as many sets as you can in 7 minutes. Towards the end, you may not get a full set in, but do what you can and push for more the next time you give it a try. Good luck!
1 full rotation = 1 set
10 weighted squats (get as low as you can go)
10 butterfly sit ups
10 squat presses
Running up 36 flights of stairs shouldn’t be too hard. Heck – I take the stairs whenever possible and usually I’m lugging shopping bags, luggage, or my purse while I’m doing it. Plus, I think I’m in pretty good shape. This should be cake…. Wrong. Dead wrong.
Bop to the Top is a stair race in the America One building in downtown Indianapolis. I’ve run my fair share of 5Ks, 8Ks, 10Ks, and even a half marathon, but never have I raced up a bunch of stairs. I didn’t even know what to expect or how to train for something like this. So naturally, I didn’t. Maybe that was poor planning on my part. I wanted to start my race season off in January this year rather than wait until March like I did last year. I had already taken November and December off so I was ready to get back into the swing of racing. Bop to the Top sounded perfect because it was indoors and I’m not a huge fan of running outdoors in the bitter cold.
The way the race is set up, you can seed yourself based on your previous year’s time or your latest 5K time. Since I had never ran up 36 flights of stairs before, I wasn’t sure where to seed myself so I went with my last 5K time: 24:10. I’m glad I did that because if you opted out of seeding, the earliest time to race would have been 11:00 AM (the race started at 8:30 AM). So I was scheduled to race at 8:40 AM. After stretching in the lobby and warming up, I nervously said goodbye to my husband who was patiently waiting for me in the lobby. I rounded the corner, approached the line for Stairwell A, waited, and watched. It’s a very calculated system. The event volunteers have you stand on the mat and wait exactly 30 seconds from when the person in front of you started to give them enough time to get a start. This prevents congestion in the already small stairwell. It’s also a fairly quick process and keeps the lines moving.
Soon it was my turn. My heart was racing. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just prayed I didn’t trip up the stairs and bust my shin open. I took off skipping a stair at a time. Not sure if that was a good move or not because I got tired pretty fast. My thought was that I wanted to put enough distance between me and the person behind me before I needed to slow down. Soon I was just running step-by-step. As I was running past floor 6, 7, and 8, I noticed my pulse starting to quicken. By floor 10 my lungs started to sting and my heart was beating even faster. I thought to myself, I’m not even half way there – this can’t be happening…
Then came the slowing down to a quick walk up the stairs. There was no way I could run. What the hell was I thinking not training for this?! My lungs are burning, it’s hard to breathe, and I’m utilizing the stair rails next to me to make sure I don’t trip up the stairs as my legs are starting to slow down. The hardest part of this race was that you are by yourself. There are no cheering sidelines to tell you to keep going. This is all about you and you alone. You are the only thing that will keep you from stopping and taking a break. Finally, I saw another human being. It was the first aid person making sure no one was going to pass out around floor 18. He offered a quick, “your halfway there.” And that was it. Floor 20,21,22 … Thank GOD I’m almost there.
By now my lungs are ON FIRE. I’ve never felt this kind of pain in my lungs in all my life. I cannot for the life of me figure out what is going on, but I persevere and keep going. I hear the person behind me gaining on me. There is something about hearing the person behind you that gives you a little more pep to your step. Floor 33, 34, 35… OH MY GOSH when will this end?! And there it was, the open door with the blue mat and volunteers to guide you to water.
My lungs along with my heart are in my throat. I cannot breathe let alone say thank you to the man who cut my timing chip off my shoe. I walk into the room where the shirts are (because you didn’t get your race shirt until you made it to the top), got my shirt, and found my way to the water room. I can hear the poor guy even before I see him. A college-aged boy is losing his breakfast (or drinks from the night before) all in the trash can. He really must have given it all he got because he was best friends with that trash can for a good 6 minutes. Me, on the other hand, I am now coughing up a lung, my eyes are watering, and I can’t even stand on the elevator ride down. Every time I coughed it felt like I had smoked a pack of cigarettes the night before. It hurt SO BAD. As soon as the doors open, I find myself a nice seat against the wall where I proceed to cover my head, cough some more, and continue to catch my breath. My poor husband (who is still on the other side of the building because no one without a race bib was allowed back there) was wondering where I was and if I was okay. After about another 5 minutes, I was able to come find him.
It was really an interesting site – I’m trying to find the results board and EVERYONE around me is coughing. I’ve never seen anything like it! My husband was getting the heebie jeebies convinced he is going to catch something. Finally, I make it over the board, checked my score, took some pictures, and headed home to take a much-needed nap.
36 flights of stairs, 780 steps, 500 ft straight up, monies benefit Riley’s Children’s Hospital of Indianapolis… Next year I think I’ll do the Triple! Who’s with me?
Going away on vacation can be a challenge for anyone. Going home to visit family is another story all by itself. I LOVE my family and probably one of my favorite things about my parents is that they are PHENOMENAL cooks. Every time I come home they fill their fridge with my favorite goodies and cook me all my favorite meals.
This past week I went home to Pennsylvania to spend the holidays with my family and let me tell you… in terms of my nutrition and exercise… it was a wash. Christmas Eve tradition in my family is to go to church, come home, put on comfy clothes, eat finger foods, and open presents. This year my mom and dad really outdid themselves. Dad made THE BEST homemade buffalo wings, my mom made her amazing mini spring rolls, we had jumbo shrimp cocktail, Christmas cookies, and pigs in a blanket. I totally overate because it was amazing. Christmas Day wasn’t any better. My dad fixed prime rib with salted baby red skinned potatoes, broccoli, and popovers. It was to die for. And although it sounds healthy, there was nothing healthy about any of it. The rest of the week consisted of birthday cake, cupcakes, and Christmas cookies in between meals. I tried to make good decisions when I could, but when I am home all bets are off.
On Saturday, my sister and I attended the first annual Cupcake Bowl in Bethlehem, PA. Over 25 Cupcake Vendors participated and most had 2 or 3 cupcake flavors to taste and judge. And although I didn’t eat entire cupcakes, in fact, my sister and I just shared a bite of each, I left with a huge bellyache and feeling quite sick to my stomach. It sounded awesome in theory because anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE cupcakes but 40+ cupcakes is more than anyone should have to try in a day.
I left to come back home on Sunday and spent most of my day in the airport. Trying to find healthy food in the airport is a challenge unto itself. I ended up getting an omelette and just eating a little over half of it and opting for a salad for lunch. I made my husband walk up and down every terminal in the Cleveland airport just so I wasn’t sitting around during our 3 1/2 hour layover.
So although my diet was not perfect during my week long excursion, I did try to stay as active as possible. While at home I attended 2 group fitness classes at Sweat Like a Girl Studio in Allentown, PA. I also took advantage of my sister’s treadmill and elliptical, using both on separate days. So I was home for 6 days and had 2 days of travel time. I was able to work out 4 of the six days I was home and tried to walk as much as possible on both travel days in the airport, taking the stairs when I could, and walked laps when there was time. And while I know there is no exercise that can outdo a bad diet, I feel like my bad eating and my exercise neutralized each other.
Week 9 will hopefully be a little more productive in terms of eating than Week 8.