Off week

One whole week. A week and a day, technically. It lasted from the Thursday before last until this Thursday. I went that whole stretch without any real exercise. I recently started a new job… I am still getting used to working these hours, the training has been pretty rapid fire, and I have been exhausted from it all. Plus, since we’ve had warm weather there’s really been no chance to squeeze in a run after work. These are the excuses I mentally decided on when I found myself putting off every planned early morning run. But that is all they were: excuses.

The silly part? I knew every day I was making a lame excuse. Around Tuesday or Wednesday of the streak I made the decision that I knew would solve nearly every excuse I could think of. I rejoined a gym. Perfect! Funny enough, I joined the gym 3 years ago around Labor Day weekend, so I guess it was appropriate I rejoin now, so close to that anniversary.

I don’t entirely like running alone super early before the sun comes up. Not so much because it’s dark (I own a headlamp) but because I’ve watched Law and Order SVU too many times to put myself in not-so-safe circumstances. It is pretty hot while the sun is still up after work too, at least for now, so one of those earlier excuses does have some merit. And these days I don’t have access for much beyond places to run so I’m missing out on the chance to build up strength through resistance and weight training. Gym solves it all. I’m not alone on a path in the dark, no issues with heat, and I get access to all of the equipment I need.

The streak was happily broken on Friday and I’m feeling a lot better about myself. I kept trying to convince myself the break was nice, it was cool to cut myself a little slack. But I felt guilty every night as I was trying to fall asleep. I don’t know why I felt guilt. I wasn’t hurting anyone and I knew it was temporary. Regardless, guilt was the emotion that was ruling in my brain.

I guess it could be worse, there could have been an extreme backslide with my dietary choices. Thankfully there wasn’t; I ate as I normally do and my weight didn’t change at all from before the slacking began through today. I don’t want to go that long again before kicking my ass and sweating hard from exercise. I love that feeling, and I know how important keeping healthy is. I used to feel like I was drowning in lethargy, and I don’t ever want that to take over again. I allowed myself to become enveloped in it. Maybe that’s why I felt guilty. It’s almost like a guilty pleasure, but without the pleasure part. It’s more like a guilty reminder of what life was.

I don’t think the challenge ever stops. Sometimes it changes shape and different aspects are tougher for me. There are periods of time where it’s easy to keep working out regularly, but food/portion control will become a struggle. Other times it’s the complete opposite. While my habits have become lifestyle at this point, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I suppose this was the most long winded way of saying I joined a gym again and I’m really happy about it. I hope you are doing something that makes you both happy and healthy in one move. It’s a rare pleasure.


First half marathon – complete!

I did it! Yesterday I ran my first half marathon at the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. The craziest part was I really enjoyed it. Sure, it was tough but I felt pretty great the whole way through. Plus I finished close to the goal time I had set for myself. Seeing as how this was my first time ever running this distance, I aimed to finish in 2.5 hours. My official chip time was 2:36:01. Practically nailed it! I think I would have hit it too, if it wasn’t for a spiral of tiny errors. The race started at least 40 minutes (or more) later than it was supposed to. That caused a problem, as I was hydrated to start on time. Right as I started to run I realized I desperately needed to use the restroom. Yeeeaahh, no bueno. The first porta potty I saw was a standalone, and the line was more than 20 people deep. I decided to keep going. The second one I saw had the same LONG line. I was so stressed! I knew if I waited for 20+ people to go to the bathroom it would take forever so I said a quick prayer and ran ahead, hoping the next bathroom opportunity would be better. It was, slightly. The next stop (around mile marker 2) had a few porta potty’s lined up, each with about 8 people waiting. I figured this would have to do. I bit the bullet and stood in line to wait.

I knew my pace was blown at this point, it put me at least 10 minutes behind. The delay was clear when I looked at the breakdown of my checkpoints. See, I normally run a 5k in about 30 minutes or less. Because of the bathroom debacle my 5k time was about 40 minutes. Oh well! Other than that, the rest of the run was exactly what I hoped for. I slowed slightly for water/gatorade along the race. I also got a wicked stitch in my side around mile 11 and took a quick breather to stretch and walk for maybe a quarter mile. Aside from that, I ran the entire half marathon! I made sure to keep a nice even pace, running over 5 mph but less than 6 mph for most of the race. I usually only keep 6 mph pace when I run 3-4 miles max, so rather than try to push and burn out I opted for a more relaxed approach on this 13.1.

I loved it. I saw bystanders holding hilarious signs along the way, and I got lots of high fives. But the best part was knowing I had followed though. My family and friends all reached out with calls and messages and I felt real pride for my accomplishment. And now I have a baseline goal. I want to run another this year, and I have a personal time to compete against! Plus now I know, no matter what, I am waiting in line to use the bathrooms before the gun goes off so I won’t lose time on the track. I’ve already scoped out another couple half marathons to do in Texas.

Did I mention this already? My husband and I are making plans to move to Texas soon. We are waiting on a few details regarding his job relocation, but planning is heavily underway and we should be there well before the summer, possibly early spring! I’m so excited, it’s a great opportunity for Matt and his career, plus I will be closer to my family.

Speaking of family, I proudly posed with a Rolling Rock in hand, just like my own dad whenever he finished a marathon.

Rolling Rock runner

And a photo Matt took of me shortly before I crossed the finish line, grinning like a damn fool:

Half Marathon


So much fun. I don’t know if it’s insanity or excitement that had me searching out my next half marathon while I recovered on the couch mere hours after finishing my first. Probably a little bit of both.




My brain has been my biggest obstacle. At the end of 2013 I wrote:

…my ultimate goal is to train for a half marathon. I don’t know if I will run one this year, I’m leaning more towards training during 2014 to ultimately run in one by early 2015. I am going to try! Exciting to think about… and a little scary.

I have been training all year, just as I said I would. In 2014 I became a stronger and more capable runner. A week didn’t go by where I didn’t run at least several miles, 2-4 times. Early in 2014 I decided my aim was to run the half at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon; not only because it was early 2015, but also because it was a marathon that my own father has run. It excited me to think of being able to cross that finish line myself (even if it was a half instead of a full marathon like my dad had done).

Even in December 2013 when I wrote the goal I acknowledged my problem. Being scared. Ultimately it is the fear of failing. I have been working on getting healthy and fit for so long now, and this is an actual marker of success. This is a clear and definitive goal to achieve rather than just getting healthy, or posting before and after pictures. If you run a marathon, you either finish it or you don’t.

As the race drew near I contemplated whether I was ready. While I knew I was ready physically, my fear took hold. I wussed out. A couple of friends asked if I was going to run, even tried to talk me into at least running the 10k. I said I’d think about it but deep down I knew I really didn’t want to run the 10k. I wanted that half and if I wasn’t doing the half, frankly I didn’t want anything to do with the event. I knew it would be a giant neon sign of failure in my own brain if I did anything less than run that half. And after all the hard work and effort I had put in, my brain put up a wall and I chose to cowardly skulk away from the whole event.

The other day someone asked if I would be there to watch her finish the race. I made up a completely lame excuse about not wanting to deal with the parking. I felt awful about it. So I talked to my husband. He knew how I felt, and asked me if I really wanted to run. After some hemming and hawing I admitted: YES. I was really scared but yes, I wanted to run. I had always wanted to run.

Last minute and way too much money later, I am signed up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon. I’m going to crush it. And yeah – I’m still scared. But I think that it’s okay to be scared. It will be all the better when I cross that finish line. My time might be wimpy, but that doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is completing the goal I made. I’ve turned my life around over the last 2+ years. I’ve earned this, and I am really proud of myself for going for it. I’m going to cross that finish line, just like when I watched my dad cross it.

I got this.


Hiking and climbing

I enjoy trying new things, I want to avoid total repetition (and a potential rut). I have been hiking, running, and biking for awhile now. I absolutely love all three,  but I was open to trying something a little different. A friend invited me to go check out Echo Canyon at Camelback Mountain with her. This still falls under the category of hiking but it has A LOT more climbing involved. The climb is nearly 1300 feet, whereas my normal steep incline at South Mountain is just over 800 feet. Camelback has a much more intense incline as well, it’s not switchbacks but instead steep boulders throughout most of it.

It was a beautiful journey throughout. Strenuous. And to be honest, parts of it were a little scary to me. One part of the trail definitely gave me a feeling of vertigo.

Here are a couple of pictures from that first trip. This is the view looking up at the mountain, near the parking lot:

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon, Arizona

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon – looking up

This photo was taken of me at the top of the climb:


I was thrilled by it. The next day, my body was sore all over! I used so many muscles to pull and steady my balance, scrambling up and down giant rocks. I felt tender not only in my legs but my arms and sides. I knew that this provided a completely different type of cardio than I was used to. After one trip I really wanted to try it again. I told my husband about the hike and he was interested. My best friend hooked up to do some hiking so the three of us hit it again today.

I wanted to try to get a photo to try and provide a little perspective of how steep some of the climb is:

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon trail

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon – looking down

I don’t think pictures do this place justice.

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon - Sunrise

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon – sunrise



I’ve been continuing with long trail runs every Sunday at too. During the last two my running buddies and I have been doing a 7.3 mile at South Mountain by going to “the waterfall” and back. There is no actual water, instead there’s a steep section of boulders – more famous with mountain bikers.

I took a photo from a ledge on it this weekend:

View from "The Waterfall" National Trail, South Mountain

View from “The Waterfall” National Trail, South Mountain

Plus an artsy photo I took and played with, just for the fun of it:

National Trail, South Mountain

National Trail, South Mountain

Another exquisite Arizona sunrise, taken at South Mountain:

National Trail, South Mountain - sunrise

National Trail, South Mountain – sunrise

I am completely addicted to beautiful sunrises.


Alright already, summer

Enough! I’m ready for fall! Living in the Arizona desert is rough. Every summer is torture. You wake up and look out at what appears to be a beautiful sunny day only to feel the burn akin to opening an oven when you step outside.

Now that we are about halfway through September the extreme heat is winding down some. That’s good news since my absolute favorite way to exercise is to get outside and explore with running, hiking, and biking. My rad husband Matt took some very flattering photos of me last weekend on a hike (Fat Man’s Pass, South Mountain, AZ):

Fat Man's Pass, South Mountain, AZFat Man's Pass, South Mountain, AZFat Man's Pass, South Mountain, AZ

I’m going to level with you: I’m sharing these purely for vanity reasons. I’m feeling really good about how fit my body is and I love these photos! I’m not ashamed to admit it, I work hard and I know this is the best shape my body has ever been in. I’m proud of myself.

I’ve decided after a lot of careful consideration that when my gym membership expires this month I won’t be renewing it. I get bored at the gym. If need be I can always join again, but I want to focus on outdoor activities now even if it means waking up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat. I’ve been lucky enough to befriend active folks and be invited with various  groups to go running; plus there is my eternal partner in crime Matt who is always down to hike and bike. Big decision for me and my routine, but it makes sense. My work also just put in a gym at their new building too, so I figure I can always use that if there is a crap weather day.

Plan in place. Less indoors… adventure it is.



Rowing machine and variety

I’ve been addicted to the rowing machine at the gym for awhile now. I don’t do it every time I am there, but every other week or so I like to dedicate a solid 30 minutes on it, with an occasional 15 minutes here or there in between those longer sessions. It’s rough. It doesn’t look like it should be, but I feel it burning just about every part of my body. I love it (and slightly hate it too).


I’m one of those crazy people addicted to House of Cards and I actually let out a small squeal when Claire introduced the rowing machine into their home, since I love her and that damn machine so much. I like that the show seems to be bringing rowing into greater popularity, I think it would be fun to find a rowing class at a gym. I know from searching online that they exist in some cities, haven’t found anything local yet.

Beyond the rower: I think what helps me to be find success is variety. I do outside activities – running, walking, hiking and biking. When it’s too hot, I go to the gym. At the gym I will use either the elliptical, stair climber, rowing machine, or stationary bikes. If I want to get something done in my living room at home I use either a weighted ball, small free weights, do squats, pushups, or situps. There is no magic formula other than keeping myself interested by not always doing the exact same thing.



My first step in the goal to do a half marathon has been officially checked off the list today. I ran my first 5k this morning and I did pretty well!

Picture 1

My goal was to try to get it done in 30 minutes. I practically nailed it, got it in 30 minutes, 8 seconds! Quite pleased with myself.


I went solo. It was a little strange to not have any familiar faces there with me. My husband was out out of town on a business trip (he wasn’t told about it until after I signed up) and my friend who was planning to join me got an opportunity to work (very late) the night before and couldn’t run so early. I was a little nervous; I didn’t have the social buffer of someone else to chat with and figure out what to do. But I went, and I did it. Ultimately this was something I did for myself so doing it alone kind of gave me an added sense of accomplishment. Even still, I know that the 5k was not a huge hurdle for me at this point. I’m already planning to sign up for a 10k when an interesting one crosses my path. By next year, I am planning to tackle the half marathon. I feel pretty confident that I am progressing well and will be ready.


10 miles, trail run edition

Can you believe I have been able to use “10 miles” as a description for not one but two blog posts now? Shocking.

The title is appropriate again today because I successfully completed my first trail run. It was just over 10 miles! Admittedly there were stretches where I had to walk, as there are a lot of uphill sections and rocky bits that I had to slow for. Also, GODDAMN 10 miles is far!


It was so much fun though. When we started out it was not quite sunrise, the sky was still pretty dark. And it was cold. I suck in cold weather, but I knew once we got moving I wouldn’t be as uncomfortable. My muscles burn now, plus I fell once and am nursing a very sore knee (plus scraped up hands)… but in spite of all that I can’t wait to be able to do it again. It was exhilarating. I felt like a badass running down those narrow pathways, bouncing along rocks and jogging through valleys.

This is going to sound ridiculous but while running I kept having the mental image of Jodie Foster at the beginning of Silence of the Lambs when she is barging through that FBI Academy obstacle course. The thought of her doing that actually helped motivate me when I was feeling pooped. Whatever works, right?

I keep on doing things I didn’t think I could do. I am in the best shape of my life, better now in my mid thirties than at any point of my twenties. I don’t intend to slow down either.


Making good on my goals

On my last progress post I stated that I wanted to sign up for a 5k and start training towards longer races, like a half marathon. I’m already making good on both of those goals!

I have officially signed up for my first 5k. In March I will be participating in the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer. Stoked! I’ve been invited to run on a team, and I think I’ve even successfully talked my best friend into running with me. *Pats self on back*

As for longer distance training… this one scares me, I have to admit. There is a group of folks from my work that get together and go trail running a few days a week. Unfortunately they typically go on days I can’t. I have an unconventional work week; my weekends are Sunday and Monday plus my workday starts at the freakishly early hour of 6:30 AM – there isn’t a chance for me to go and then work after and they don’t happen to run on my days off. BUT! This week I have a few personal days off and they are hitting the trail on Saturday morning. I am going to join them. Here’s where I get jittery: it’s over 9 miles. I’ve been reassured that it’s a very slow pace and it’s OK to walk the tough parts. It’s a trail I typically go hiking on, a lot of steep inclines then drops. I was worried I’d get made fun of for walking instead of running up the mountains but was told that was normal, no worries. So… I am going for it. And fucking nervous as all hell. But it’s worth trying! I’m a big fan of meeting goals, I don’t think many things in life feel as good as conquering something you didn’t think you could do. If I eat shit, so be it. However, I have been working hard at increasing my stamina and endurance. I think this is a great way to see what I can really do. Wish me luck, I’ll update with how it went later.


Breaking away from the machines

Typically I have done all of my exercise at the gym and on my bike. Since the weather in Arizona has cooled off recently I’ve added hiking into the mix more often as well. I decided I was ready for another big hurdle in my world: RUNNING OUTSIDE.

This has always seemed an impossible task. Now, I have no idea why this has been such a struggle for me. I’ve always just sucked at running. Even when I was a petite little school kid I struggled to run a mile in one go. There’s been a few times in my life I’ve attempted jogging outdoors with limited success, but even then I never could do more than a mile or a mile and a half before I felt like I was going to fall over. To be fair — I was a smoker during those later attempts, so I can only imagine my lung capacity was garbage.

I thought since I have had so much success with the long distance running on the treadmill and elliptical at the gym I was ready to take it outdoors. I started my first attempt a few weeks ago. I went to a high school near my home and did laps on the track to see how it felt. I did about a mile and a half before I quit. Not bad. The next week I did the same, another mile and a half, but this time lapping around a park by my house. I mentioned the lap running to a friend who basically told me that sounded boring. I had to agree – I might as well stay on the treadmill, there is no adventure in a circle. Last week I walked to the same canal path I ride my bike on and decided to go for it. Granted, this was no marathon run, but I ran down the path and back and loved it. I went about 3 and a quarter miles total that day, so technically I ran my first 5k… without stopping. This was a big victory for me. It helped me to once again prove to myself that I really can do a lot. I shouldn’t assume I can’t do things – it just might be that I can’t do them yet.

*** I used Runtastic (synchronized with MyFitnessPal and Fitbit Flex) for these outdoor runs to help measure both distance, steps taken, and calories spent.