Marathon Plans

This upcoming Saturday I have the Montgomery Half Marathon. Last year I was late to the start because one of my players was in the hospital. So this year I am excited to have the chance to run it again. I know the course, I know where the hardest parts are, so I’m ready to attack it.

I love half marathons, but admittedly I haven’t trained for one as much as I did the first 1/2 I ran. I’ve been able since November 2014 to maintain my fitness level to a point where I can run 10 miles pretty okay, but it is a struggle to get to 13. But with a little pre-work out and a couple weeks of training, I can get there. I tucker out around miles 11 and 12, and then pick it up for the ending.

I’m ready for this Saturday. I ran a half marathon 3 weeks ago, and I know my body is capable of the push. I am looking forward to the run. But I’m starting to look long term too. I’ve hummed and hawed about doing a full marathon, but I’m starting to lean into it. I want to attempt the monstrous run. What’s holding me back? Is it time commitment to training? I have a sturdy base level of fitness I can build from. So what’s the mental gap? I need to sign up. It’s the next evolution in my routine. It makes sense. I know I can complete it if I tried. To go with ease, not worry about time. I worry about my time with half marathons. I want my splits to be better and better. Close to 8:00 mile splits or around there. But a marathon. The goal will be to complete it. Not to worry about time but to worry about pushing through the pain to achieve what few are capable of doing.

It’s time. Marathon is training will commence. I want to challenge myself mentally, physically, emotionally through the training process.

October 2017, it’s time to for a marathon bib to be incorporated to the stack.

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Back to basics

I feel like my life is becoming unhinged. I’m dreading the future. So I need to remember what makes me happy, things I’m grateful for. So here it is:

I’m grateful for my loving family who will listen to me cry and bitch about everything on the phone. And their ability to try to give me advice knowing I’m not really listening because I feel sorry for myself.

I’m grateful for my dogs who love me unconditionally no matter how disheveled I appear when I come home from work. They don’t weigh my value on wins and losses.

I’m grateful for the friends I’ve met throughout Montgomery because when I feel at my lowest, someone will say something or I’ll receive a text and allows me to remember I have to continue to enjoy living and not have one part of my everyday influence and affect the better parts.

I’m grateful for my boyfriend who makes me laugh, doesn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself for a long period of time, and reminds me of all the positive relationships I’m forming and how I’m a good influence on his and others lives.

I need my grateful buoys to keep me from drowning. I feel like there’s too much on my shoulders and I’m sinking. Sometimes a little inner reflection can make all the difference. I’m hoping this helps. I’m going on a night run to clear my mind, exhaust my body, and hopefully destress so I can get a full night sleep.

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Lacrosse without George

This is my fourth lacrosse season without George. Every preseason is riddled with anxiety and figuring how to deal with it. This season has been particularly difficult because there’s another sense of loss I’ve been trying to deal with.

My boyfriend is in the military. Once New Years hit, he was gone for training. He’s been away now for 8 weeks, and he comes back on Friday. I’m really excited to have him back, but in a short 4 weeks he is gone for 6 months. I know that’s what I’ve signed up for by dating someone in the military, but there’s a massive feeling of conflict has been weighing on me. I’m not going to air my anxieties for professional reasons, but know they are there will remind me when I look back at this post in the future.

I control my attitude toward things and I’ve been trying so hard to head to the office with a clear mind, positive attitude to practice, and be as understanding to the people around me and their needs. But I feel like I’m ignoring my own needs, and when I try to make time to take care of myself, something comes up. I took a personal weekend not too long ago, and ended up working the entire weekend with emails, scheduling, recruits, and relationships with other lacrosse coaches. It’s part of the job, I know. I also know I’m childless and alone too right now, so there’s a weird expectation I need to be on call all the time. I need to find a balance. That’s all this is about. I wrote a lengthy diatribe above to conclude I need a balance.

Adulting is hard. I think I deflect a lot and I need to just deal with the fact that I’m fearful of failing and worried about being alone again. That’s what is causing my emotional distress.image

Life Changing Suggestions

I’m coming around to the 3 year mark of when I made the commitment to exercising regularly. In two days, the 50 Mile Running Challenge begins, but what piece of advice will help newer runners achieve their goals? There’s a ton of different levels of runners in the group, and I’m so excited to see the advice, encouragement and support everyone provides. Such an eclectic group: we have people training for marathons involved, those who’ll be doing half marathons, some who are new moms looking to get back in shape, former college athletes, people looking to make lifestyle changes, and then some who are rehabilitating their injuries or coming back from surgeries. So much variation, and it’s going to be incredible.

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But back to the point: What kind of advice would you give to a new runner?

I’ve been scouring Runners World Magazine, Livestrong.com, Competitor.com, Active.com, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine for some suggestions, and here’s the top 8 most useful tips and suggestions for new runners:

  1. Join a Running Group, virtual or local— Many beginning runners go solo because they might feel overwhelmed, nervous or intimidated by running with others. But gaining a running partner or a support running group will allow for the run to be more enjoyable, help inspire and stay motivated. This is really important in the very beginning on a plan because having a partner or a group support can really help push someone to try new distances or activity level. (source: Runners World)
  2. Have a strategy— If you are going from running 0 miles to a new program, it’s so important you are mindful and are listening to your body. Many people get hung up on speed to begin with, but you need to focus on progression. No one is judging you and it’s so important you worry more about how you feel rather than pace. My personal suggestion is to set up a “running time.” For example, look to do a duration of 20 minutes total “running time.” As you are in your “running time,” if you run for a minute and need to walk to catch your breath, try to be mindful of your running to walking ratios. As the program progresses you’ll notice within that 20 minute “running time” you will see steady improvement after 2 weeks. And you’ll know by listening to your body when you can begin to gauge distance rather than duration. (source: Runners World/ Personal experience)
  3. Log Your Runs— Running is a introverted and solitary activity. You’ll recognize your mind will sort through lots of things and you’ll feel a lot of emotions too. Probably very difficult ones in the beginning because it will be mentally draining and add a lot of stress physically. Document your starting weight, some feelings during the runs, thoughts, distances, times, pace, etc. You’ll be thankful you did. It will also keep you on track. (source: Competitor.com)
  4. Buy a good pair of running shoes— If you are using old pair of running shoes, you’ll notice after a few first walks or runs your knees, joints, and calves will be incredible sore or painful. This can really hinder the running experience, and turn you off from completing the challenge and reaching your goals. Having a fitted pair of running shoes is actually INJURY PREVENTION. Running shoes have thicker soles for cushion and stability. Your feet may swell when you run, so trim your toenails. (Source: Runners World, Active.com, Livestrong.com, Competitor.com, Fitness Magazine, Personal experience)
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk— It is okay to walk. The fact that you’re outside, or on a treadmill and working is a huge accomplishment. If there is a big hill and you are tired, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk up the hill. As you progress and increase your cardio levels in time your walking will decrease, but in the beginning, do the program and style that works for you. (Source: Active.com, Fitness magazine)
  6. Be sure to get rest— You are putting a lot of stress and demands on your body when you are first starting out. Many new runners will start too much too soon, and because of it they’ll suffer from shin splints, sore knees, hip flexor pulls, tight hamstrings, etc. You’ll also feel your energy levels will take a dip too. It does get better, but as you feel run down take a rest day, recuperate and recover and before you know it, you’ll feel fitter, stronger and more energized. Rest allows for your muscles to rebuild from all the micro tears in your muscle tissues which occurs during any new workout plan. Body has to adapt and it does take 2-3 weeks. (source: National Academy of Sports Medicine, Runners World, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine)
  7. Proper fuel and hydration— I’m plugging something personal in here. I take amino acids an hour before every run and have noticed it keeps me energized through out. After I run I also take amino acids to help with faster recovery. Hit me up if you have questions.– What I’ve read from sources regarding fuel and hydration: As you start to get into the thick of your running regiment, you’ll notice you’ll be hungrier more often. It’s imperative you consume nutrient dense foods, because it will help heal your body, strengthen your bones, and replenish your glycogens storages. Which will also allow for weight loss. Try not to use running as a reward to indulge in bad food. It will be counteractive to your progress. It also will lead to your muscles getting more labored or fatigued the next time you run. Ladies, consume high-fiber and complex carbs 30-60 minutes after your run, Gentlemen look to consume more protein dense foods 30-60 minutes after your run. Our genders are not equal when it come to replenishing and how we heal. Replenishing electrolytes and minerals following a long run is imperative to your recovery. Runners World recommends Advocare Rehydrate as the best go-to recovery drink post work out. You can buy some from me here: Advocare Rehydrate (source: active.com, Runners World, personal experience, National Academy of Sports Nutrition)
  8. Set up achievable goals— When you make daily, weekly or monthly goals make sure they are achievable. Be proud when you accomplish them, brag about it in your group, to friends, and write it down in your log. Hitting goals will allow for this whole experience to be enjoyable and fun. Have fun, share your accomplishments, and load up on lots of memes to describe your running experience. (source: personal experience, Runners World, Livestrong.com)

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50 Mile Challenge

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My former college teammate and I have been doing this monthly challenge for years. We try to get 50 total running miles in a month. We will self report to each other and it was a way to help kick start our fitness regiment. It has helped me reach the fitness level I am at now. I feel healthier than I ever have before and I want to share it with others.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

So many people want to get in shape, lose weight, get fitter but they might not know where to start. But with doing a challenge it provides a little structure, plus being a part of a group setting allows for greater results and has proven it allows for a higher percentage in reaching goals.

Setting up daily goals in the days and weeks after my husband passed away provided me with a purpose. It gave me a reason to get out of bed every day because I felt self-motivated and I knew if I hit those little milestones eventually it will turn into a habit. With this 50 Mile Challenge, I want to pass along the lesson I learned and gained. I want to help others reach their goals too.

How will I help you and others reach their goals? Well Facebook of course! It’s self reporting style, and there’s more and more joining the challenge each day. Do you want to start on your journey to bettering yourself?

Check out my 50 mile challenge! Begins February 16 and ends March 31. 44 total days to get 50 total miles running or walking.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

Also check out my Instagram at @flippingsteier

Cycle for Survival Alabama edition

So this past Saturday, January 28th, I organized the first Cycle for Survival in Alabama at the gym I teach spin at, Metro Fitness. It was successful and I was super pleased with the turn out of support!

I’m not going to go into detail about the event, but I want to discuss the importance of Cycle for Survival to me.

Cycle for Survival gives me so much hope, excitement, strength and focus. I truly believe in what they are doing for the developments in treating rare cancers, and I also like love the feeling it provides me leading up to the event and after. It gives me goosebumps knowing that in a day, so many people around the country are also supporting and raising awareness and funds for rare cancer research. It also gives me time to reflect and think about all the lessons, joys, and triumphs I shared with George. He too loved participating in Cycle for Survival. So when I’m on the bike, I feel connected with him, and on the days of Cycle for Survival, I feel like I am working for him. I am pedaling stronger than I ever had before, because I want to make him proud.

This year in Alabama, I didn’t have my closest friends around for support, I didn’t have my family nearby, but I did have a community there. I really appreciate the generosity of the people in Montgomery and beyond. Without their support this wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. We have neared the $3,000 mark and it’s a fantastic feeling to know that this money will go towards saving someone’s life and making a difference.

Each year around this time, I make new memories with George and it helps propel me forward. Allows me to feel stronger and I know the money raised is going toward something meaningful and will offer strength to others battling cancers.

I love Cycle for Survival.

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Using Food to Heal

When the going gets tough, we tend to flee to the pantry. Grab a bag of chips, Oreos, candy, whatever it may be to try and eat our emotions. Or when a routine we’re familiar with gets broken and the fill the empty time we start drinking more, or snacking when we’re not even hungry. Does this seem familiar to you?

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Sometime we try to hide behind food. Eat to heal our pain and to shun the world away. But if we’re increasing our consumption and not countering it with increased exercise, doesn’t that just draw more attention to us? Receiving unwanted glances when we are at the grocery store, or a judging sigh from a colleague when ordering at a restaurant?

I’m guilty of using food to heal. I am no exception to this. Right now my world is spinning since my boyfriend left for training and soon will be leaving for his deployment. I feel the same uneasiness and the flighty thoughts are reappearing. The need to stay busy, to occupy every minute of every day with something has returned. So has the stress eating.

I’ve been craving sweets before bed. Almost like the sugar will provide me the same comfort that a warm body next to me will do. Some nights I’m stronger to resist than others. But there’s one thing I have learned over the years and that is there has to be boundaries. There has to be a limit to what is consumed. I do not diet because I don’t like to restrict, but I am mindful of what I consume. And I’m also aware that though the short term satisfaction might be ideal, the long term will not be.

The cravings are a feeling of losing control. I can control food, and how I react to it. If I had sweet snacks late at night, the next morning I make it my duty to perform 60-90 minutes of exercise. That way the calories I consumed can be incinerated quickly. This is my revenge against unwanted calories.

Stress eating does get the best of me once in awhile, but I make sure to have the weapons to combat it. Eat foods dense in nutrients, fuel my body correctly just in case those late night cravings happen. I also have realized when I make my own meals, I have less of these cravings. Like after George passed away, the feeling of making something gives a sense of accomplishment, so even though there’s a sense of loss right now and I’m trying to reestablish routines, I still can manage my personal reaction to what is going on in my own world and head. Nothing is too big to handle, just the effort level might be more than what we’re looking to give. But then what kind of sacrifices are you willing to make to take another step toward your goals?

I am willing to sacrifice time and sleep. I’ll cut my sleep short to go for a run and I’ll take extra time to cook my own meals if the feeling of accomplishment is my reward rather than having regret, and more complaints on why I’m not hitting my goals.

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Gaining Weight

As of late, I feel so much has been put on me. I’m as fragile as an egg-shell nowadays. I sit in my car on my way to work crying, and when I’m home, I sit in my car just because I feel it blocks out the world for moments at a time. I’ve chewed my nails to nubs, and the burning in my joints to flee are coming back. Cinder blocks are resting on my shoulders from the moment I wake up and get out of the warm cocoon of bed. I am struggling right now, I feel like so much of what’s going on around me is out of my control.

I’m worried about my job. I’m worried about my team. I’m worried about my online class. I’m worried about failing. I’m worried about letting people down. I don’t think I’m doing a good job.

Every inch of me is telling me to find something to distract the growing vines of desolation burrowing inside of me and digging deeper and deeper. But these feelings are fleeting. I know it will get better but weathering the storm right now seems like an inconvenience. So much has happened in a month between my grandmother dying, moving, never having time off, and then having someone I care deeply for be sent away for nine weeks, I feel like the weight of it all is crushing me. Making it harder to get my legs under me and move step by step.img_6167

I went for a run today. My mind was a vacuum and all my thoughts came and went like a flash. But one thing was apparent as I was running. My lows are extremely low and my highs are to the sky. I need balance and right now but there is no fulcrum.

Tomorrow has to be better.

Revisiting the grief

Once in awhile I wonder what was the purpose of writing this blog. I did it because George and I loved blogging together, we had two food blogs, so I felt it was a way for me to continue a connection with him. But over time, the appeal and shine loses its luster. But recently I revisited those old posts and to know how far I’ve come in this journey is incredible.

I’m trying to organize my thoughts and posts a little bit and try some fluidity with them. But very much like grief, things just happen and there’s no control over them. I look at the old posts and they flip flop between miserable, excited, self-loathing, angry, manic, numb, and just getting by.

New Years is around the corner and I haven’t had a lot of luck with New Years. I think my first New Years after George passed was one of my best ones, just because I was with my friend Lindsay just reflecting on the shit year we had (2013) and how perhaps 2014 would be better. Little Chinese food, wine and One Tree Hill. It was memorable and she’s still one of my best friends and I love her for being there to do nothing with me as the calendar year flipped.

Good friends make suffering better. Always remember that. A strong support system will hold you up, even during the worst storms.

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Fourth Christmas

img_6221The Florida sky is black with tiny little white flickering stars smiling down. It’s hard being away for Christmas, especially when it’s not the frozen snow draped New England I know and love. My grandmother passed away on the very early morning of Christmas Eve. My family is all down here to spend one last Christmas with her because her health was quickly deteriorating. But before their planes landed she was gone. And we all are here together dumbfounded on what to do next. My mom is grieving, I see what she is doing and it’s all too familiar. Misplacing every day items, like where she parked her car (yes this happened), and manically picking up tons of items to store or throw away. The process of occupying the mind is here. It’s stirring a lot of emotions in all of us. We all lost a loved one, but it’s making all of us look around at each other and remember all the others we have lost too. Like my grandparents on my dad’s side, and of course George.

I sat next to my grandmother holding her hand as she wiggled and twisted from the pain. Bodie was balancing on my lap, and my brain just went somewhere else. My dad reminded me how I must be a pro at this now. I smirked and said there’s this little spot in my brain I know is there and it takes care of me.

oh it’s there all right. I went on a 6 mile run at high noon after she passed away. Even the devil wouldn’t have gone on a run with how the sun was beating down and the humidity was creeping up. I grieve by finding strength to push forward. To search for something to heal me.

This Christmas we all hung out at my grandmothers apartment. Helping my mom clean up, making lists of what needs to be done, and of course being with one another. When I was in the car with my brother, niece and sister-in-law I thought of something I did for George while he was slowing dying. I totally forgot about it but something rang it in. I remember putting his headphones in when he was in the coma and playing his favorite bands. I remember him reacting to it and being so excited. I remember how I wondered if he could still react if there was a chance he would get better. The evening my dad and I left my grandmother to go back to the hotel, she was talking and cracking jokes. We both thought she had some time before the inevitable. Then 3 hours later just before 1a she was gone.

Merry Christmas, squeeze your loved ones extra tight.