Worth It

27 Jan

I make a concerted effort to be inspired by the world around me. When I am outside running, I think about all my senses. I take a deep breath of the outdoor air and think about the way it smells. I concentrate on how the air blowing across my face feels. I look around and try to actually watch the streets (and, I’ll confess, people) around me as I trot by. This opens a certain door of awareness that fuels my run, strengthens my inner-self. But every so often, you come across something in life when you weren’t even searching for inspiration that feels like it was made for you. Something about it has the voice that you were unable to speak, the words that you were unable to form.

Today, this was it for me (see below).

Print by the Etsy seller thespottedfox and sold here. Design by Sara Estes.

Text reads: I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

I feel like it sums up everything about fitness, nutrition, running. It’s not easy. It’s not easy for anyone; even someone who loves it all. But, that made me think that I believe that’s actually the whole point: to challenge yourself. That’s what makes it fun – because it isn’t easy. But is it worth it? Hell yes.

What has inspired you today?

Dear Disney

25 Jan

Dear Disney,

The next time you are going to take photos of me running, could you consider making me look like and giving me a body like this first?


Or, if that’s just not going to happen…
would you at least consider something like this?


Or this?


See? I’m not even that picky. So, it wouldn’t be that hard for you to do. And really, it would work out for the both of us: I’d like the photos more. I might actually buy the photos. You would profit. Not so hard, right?

Much obliged,
One who sweats profusely when she runs

[Image Sources: 123]

Did anyone else laugh out loud when they saw the pro- pics from a race they ran? Then they had the nerve to e-mail me every month reminding me that they were still out there on this great internet of ours and I could STILL ORDER THEM you know, if I wanted. I didn’t want. Yikes! Maybe next time if they photoshop some killer abs in then we’ll talk.

The Evil Empire

25 Jan

Okay, so maybe they aren’t so evil. And maybe it isn’t quite an empire. What am I talking about? Well, the gym of course. Not just any gym either, but this baby.

Image courtesy of Venture Beat.

Except, the Philadelphia – Walnut Street version isn’t nearly so nice. Or clean. Or large. In fact, it’s almost scary and at 5:30 there was someone on EVERY SINGLE MACHINE in the place. Hm.

I have to admit, I have heard mixed reviews (about gyms in general, that is). All my life, I’ve been quite adverse to being a gym-goer. I’m not entirely sure what it is about gyms that causes me to shriek and run in the opposite direction. The flourescent lights? The aversion to sweating? The monthly commitment? The cost? The plethora of people more in shape than I am? Or, perhaps it is merely just the feeling of everyone staring at you. Yikes.

Well, whatever it is, after reading The Hungry Runner’s post about treadmills and seeing the weather report this morning I knew I was going to have to change my mindset. If I’m going to stick with this training I’ve either got to miraculously become a morning person so I can start running in the daylight, or get a gym membership. I think the latter sounds like a much more enjoyable – and likely – idea, no?

Psst – in case you’re wondering, here it was earlier today:

Now, I know that for some of you that little “Feels Like: 5 degrees” probably means nothing. But, for Philadelphians – and this former Floridian in particular – that is akin to freezing your tuckus off. Yea, I just said tuckus. Get over it.

So, despite feeling a little like I was dragging myself despite my every desire, I made a trip into the dreaded Bally Total Fitness this evening. I sat down and talked with them about their different monthly options. And the moral of the story? If you want a membership for less than two months, then, well, forgeddaboutit. We’re waiting to find out if we’re going to move a few miles away next month and, should that end up being the case, the last thing I want is to be committed to a gym down here. There’s another gym that would be around the corner from our potential future home, with a cuter name (Rit Fit) and homier atmosphere. The membership cost is a little higher, but it’d be worth it. That is, if we end up living over there. Yikes, what a mess! Such a decision. I think – at least for me – I’m going to have to wait this one out. Figure out where we’re living, then commit so I don’t end up throwing my money to the wind (which is, for the record, not quite as fun as “throwing caution to the wind”).

What about you? Are you a gym-goer? Was it as big of an “issue” for you as it is for me, or was there an obvious choice?

Psssst – Skinny Runner is giving away a pair of Yurbuds Ironman Series headphones. And duuuude, these things look sweet. Tailored specifically to fit your ears, could they get any cooler? You don’t want to miss out on this giveaway. Check it here. That is, if I don’t win them first (muahahah, just kidding).

Crawl If You Must

23 Jan

A few of you asked about my image on the “about me” page so I felt compelled to share with you a little bit of my story when it comes to running. Alright, fine, no one asked, but since I feel it would greatly help the context of some of my future planned posts, I wanted to share a little bit about my story anyway. Plus I have pictures, and pictures always make a post better, right? Right.

In 2008, my very best friend in the whole wide world was diagnosed with leukemia.

An image of the two of us at my June 2008 wedding.

It pained me in ways that I cannot express. That she was going through all this. Her struggle. That I couldn’t be by her side every step of the way. Unfortunately, treatment sent her to a hospital hours away. Thankfully, a very, very good hospital, but hours away nonetheless. So that Fall I decided that I would do all I could do: run for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in her honor. With the help of my very generous family and friends, I raised a few thousand dollars and in January 2009, I ran the Disney World Half Marathon. It was only a half and yet it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. During the course of training I saw my primary care physician more times than I can count, a cardiologist, a hematologist, and a rheumatologist. At one point in time, my mom said to me that if I didn’t actually run this half that darn it if I wasn’t going to die trying. Of course, I didn’t. And really, all that I went through wasn’t even an inkling of what someone in Cameron’s position had to deal with on a DAILY BASIS.

I’m happy to report that she is now happy and healthy in remission and pursuing her doctorate just a few hours away from me. It’s so weird, because that distant life – the memories of her pain and struggle – now seem so close and yet so long ago. No words could ever fully quantify how appreciative I am for her health and well-being today. Everything she went through – and watching her fight her way along – was one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen.

And now back to the half marathon. In training with LLS, I was lucky enough to be given a coach and supplied with a vast number of teammates also running for the cause. The support was amazing, the advice was even better. I was unlucky in the respect that I happened to land on a team of individuals who all had backgrounds in running and/or athletics. These people were fast.* Though the coaches were kind and teammates would always run back for me, I found myself more and more often training on my own. I enjoyed the alone time. I liked the time to think. The downside? I didn’t run as frequently or as far as I should have. I used my newly acquired iPod with Nike+ to monitor my time and distances. And, by race day, my longest run had been 10 miles. Let me clarify, 10 very, very slow miles. Not so bad, but that’s still an extra three miles I was hoping that adrenaline would allow me to tack on.

As I began my race, I started my Nike+ so I could keep track of my timing as I went along. Rounding out the first mile, I noticed that my iPod informed me I’d hit a mile a bit before the mile marker appeared. Weird, but I assumed it had to do with my starting place in the waves.** As I rounded the bend and my iPod kindly notified me that I’d run two miles, the mile marker was even farther away. By three miles? I couldn’t even see it. It occurred to me that something was wrong. Very wrong. As I continued to run I started thinking of what could be wrong. Was I zigzagging too much? Was the course off kilter or something? Then it hit me: I never actually calibrated my iPod. So… that 10 miles that I had run? Was really like seven, at most. On race day, I tacked on SIX MILES FARTHER than I had ever run before.

At mile 6, I lost sensation in my feet. Looking back on it, perhaps that was a good thing. By mile 8, I had to go to the bathroom so badly I thought I was going to explode. Thankfully, I found a port-o-potty without a line before I did so. By mile 10, my hands swelled up so badly that I couldn’t bend my fingers. I ran the next mile with my hands in the air. Kid you not. This is where the fated words of my LLS coach began playing on repeat in my head, almost like a broken record. Fellow runners will probably find this mantra familiar, as it is frequently found plastered on many track team shirts and uttered by many coaches, I’m sure:

Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never, ever give up.

And so I didn’t. By 13.1 miles, my legs felt like jello. I believe my iPod ready something like 17 miles at that point. I found my family and wanted to collapse. Thankfully, I didn’t. As we walked away from the facility, my father said to me, “So, be honest, will you ever do something like this again?” And, even with all of that, my response? Definitely.

Post-race. Barely able to stand  – though I look in much better shape than I felt.

Finally on the bus on the way back to our hotel. I’m still holding up the medal in pride, apparently.

Now it’s been two years and I’ve yet to run another. But, well, that’s where the story is just getting started, I suppose…


*Note: This isn’t necessarily common for these types of charity teams, but I happened to live in a youthful, health-conscious college town.

**Non-runners note: “Waves” are the groups that get released since you can’t have thousands of people all start running at once. Everyone wears or attaches time chips so their official times don’t actually start until they cross the start platform, but they begin running usually a bit before that.


Easy Come, Easy Go

20 Jan

After setting my new goals just days ago, I excitedly went to sign up for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run today. With a cap at 30,000 runners, it had said they were only at 17,000 this past weekend, so I wasn’t too concerned. When I went to register, it told me there was a technical error and to try later. When I logged on again after work today I was sad devastated to find out that they were suddenly full. As soon as I set my goal, it’s crushed. That would figure, wouldn’t it? Boo to that. After asking around and hearing about the big crowds, entertainment, and nice flat course I was actually really stoked to sign up for it. Plus, I’d practically be running right past my house. How freaking cool is that!? Added to that is the fact that I have Independence Blue Cross (who sponsors the event) so that’s supposed to qualify you for some perks as well, I think. But alas, it just wasn’t meant to be I suppose.

With that said, it still doesn’t change my sights on the ODDyssey Half Marathon at the end of May. I suppose I should register for that soon so I don’t get closed out of that too. There’s nothing like committing to something to light a fire under your butt, eh? Oh boy! But, this one should be particularly fun because it is meant to be a “enjoyable” race – including costume contests and “unique obstacles” [whatever that means?]. The only thing I am a bit concerned about is the location – taking place in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the only thing that comes to mind to me is the few hills around there that I could hardly bike up this past summer. The idea of running them makes me nauseous. But hey – nothing like a good challenge, right? Now I’ll have to get to work on planning my outfit.

Let’s just say, I have a few ideas up my sleeve…

From DailyMail.co.uk.

From the Costume Machine Blog.

From Nintendo World Report.

In fact, I have to admit, the idea that I won’t be bringing my pro- camera along to shoot the event almost pains me. This could be fun. A lot of fun. Have you ever dressed up for a race?

Eating Clean

19 Jan

In the healthy eating world, the phrase eating clean or clean eating (same difference, tom-a-toes/tom-ah-toes) seems to surface a lot. As such, I have done a lot of reading on the subject, and found that, while everyone’s exact definition of it seems to vary a bit, there are general principles that remain the same. In general, it is about a natural approach to eating, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods. Over at Menus4Moms, they say clean foods are “those without man-made sugars, hydrogenated fats, trans-fats and other unnecessary ingredients” and suggest that eating clean even only 80% of the time can have a huge impact on your overall physique.

Photo credit: Crossfit Oakland

Of course, this doesn’t mean just eating fruits and vegetables. This means whole wheat fibers, fat free yogurts, eggs, plain cheeses, lean meats.

All my life, I think I always assumed that clean eating meant living on salads and, really, it’s anything but. The ultimate bonus? When you’re eating clean, you can eat so much more food than when you aren’t and still not gain an ounce. These are foods that your body was designed to process so they natural metabolize much better. It makes so much sense, no? And, while I just started eating 90% clean only a week or so ago, I can already say that I feel a MILLION times better than I have felt. Ever.

What about you? Have you tried eating clean? Or, something else that you loved?