One year, 246 miles and a lot of smiles later..

5k collageI can’t believe it was a year ago that I began my running adventure!! Honestly, I was hoping to make it a few months; I never thought a year was possible. It hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but wow – one year and well over 200 miles logged!

When I first laced up my sneakers, I did it to step out of my comfort zone and feel what my students feel when I ask them to step out of their comfort zones. I had support from my husband, kids and a few friends; but mostly people in my life didn’t understand why I was doing it. I was already “in-shape” why did I need to run?

A year later, most of my family and friends not only support me, but they have run along side me at a 5k or held signs and watched the boys. The perspective has changed for many of us.

Getting it done

Running is often the first activity knocked off the list when I have a busy week with the kids home. This no longer stops me from picking it back up the next week. Somehow, I have found time and not let busy weeks discourage me. This winter has been brutal and I have struggled with the treadmill. I came to peace with it and did what I could. Finally, the sun has come out and some days, it’s above freezing. I have run outside twice!

My outside running has happened on the beach. The first time, my music didn’t work and it was HARD! I enjoyed hearing the waves, but I could hear my heavy breathing and I was very aware of how difficult it was, while still enjoying the beauty. Thanks to the last year, I didn’t give up because it was a struggle and not perfect. I kept going and put in the distance I was determined to hit. I’ve learned how to cheer myself on and get it done! After my struggle, I killed it on the treadmill! It seemed so much “easier” and my determination was back.

This week at the beach, my music was working and I was determined to have a “better” run – and I did :). I was able to find a good pace, breathe and take in the scenery. I never thought I could run, let alone run at the beach. I’m not sure my times will be better this race season, but I’m hopeful!

Running friends

I’ve always known people who run. My husband, friends and co-workers all ran. Frankly, this intimidated me. I was slow and walked and any other excuse you can think of – I had it and used it to not run with others. As my friends (who didn’t run historically) began to join my journey, I realized the pace didn’t matter. I just wanted them to join me and have fun. I wanted to cheer them on!

I realized, I could run with my other friends. They might not want me on every run, but I shouldn’t make the decision for them. If they say it’s ok, I need to trust that and have fun. I also know how to say, I’m not going to keep up and go ahead. That’s OK too :)

My running posse has grown more than I could have imagined and I hope it continues to grow! I love being a part of a group and running is no different. I think that’s why I love 5Ks ;)

Mental strength

Some days are better than others. When I got started, I really put in the effort. I had a specific goal and really didn’t want to embarrass myself. As the racing season began to wind down, it was harder to find that mental strength. It was easier to justify walking and not pushing it as hard. Thankfully, I got through my slump and am re-energized. It always feels better when I finish a hard run that I know I pushed myself :)

The future

We are in the process of selecting 5Ks for this year. The plan is to repeat the ones from last year and add a few more. One of my friends and I considered working towards a 10k. That has been tabled for now. I am sure we will revisit it in the future. Currently, I’m happy working on and enjoying 5Ks. I can’t imagine what a year from now will look like :)

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone?  What’s the biggest exercise risk you’ve taken?

A fun week!

I had a great week! I began my week at our oldest’s Destination Imagination competition on Sunday and continued the fun with BOKS, LIVESTRONG, and running on the beach :)

Destination Imagination

When I was younger, I participated in Odyssey of the Mind. This year, our oldest was invited to join a Destination Imagination team. I was beyond excited for him! He met with his team every week and more often as the competition approached. I love the competition! I enjoy seeing all of the different ways teams approach the same problem. This year was no different. Every team did a great job and we saw a lot of creativity. Our son’s third grade team placed third (in the grades 3-5 division) and they were beyond excited :) Here are the teams waiting for the closing ceremonies..

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BOKS

We had a great week at BOKS. The move of the week was burpees. The form and energy was amazing! A favorite game was the burpee wave. They break into teams and each team forms a circle. The first kid does a burpee and then the next kid goes until it’s gone around the entire circle. We went around three times. On the third time, the kid sits down. The first team with everyone sitting wins :)

When they aren’t doing burpees, the kids are enjoying a lot of traditional games. The long jump ropes are one of the most popular stations during free-play. They also love the hula hoops. Often, they even challenge the adults to see who can hula hoop the longest :). Here is our youngest jumping rope…

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LIVESTRONG

Yet again, I was lucky enough to enjoy our LIVESTRONG group. This group will be graduating shortly and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them. This week, they included me in their group discussion before I taught them yoga. If you ever have the opportunity to work with LIVESTRONG, go for it. I can’t recommend it enough :)

Running on the beach

This week was a shorter, but more efficient run. The tide was out, allowing me to run on the harder sand. Much better :) I was able to find a steady pace and maintain it the whole time. I did use music and I enjoyed the scenery. Last week, my treadmill run felt great after running in the sand. I’m hoping for the same today ;). Here are some pictures from my run…

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Somehow, I’ve been running for a year! I’ve been working on my recap and it will go up this weekend so check back and see how my running year went :)

Overall, it was a busy and fun week! How was your week? Is the weather getting better where you are?

Xiomara is Simply Healthy!!

This week’s Simply Healthy feature is Xiomara! She is a busy mom of two little girls who runs a family market in Florida. In her “spare” time she runs :) You can follow her story about running, fitness and of course, the market here. Here’s Xiomara….

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What was your aha moment?
I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a gym membership, even while I was in college I regularly went to the gym. But I gained almost 50 pounds during my first pregnancy. So loosing the baby weight was a great motivator.

Did you go all in or build over time?
I started training for my first triathlon in 2005. After that race, I had a couple of babies so there really wasn’t much time for training. I started running again after my second baby was born in 2008 as a way to loose the baby weight. Luckily for me I only gained about 25 pounds. After a few of years of running, I finally made the decision to run my first half marathon in 2012. It took me a while to get the courage to run that distance but I’m glad I waited until I was physically and mentally ready.

Do you prefer exercising alone or in a group?
While I enjoy group classes like spinning, I find I never make it to them. It’s just easier to get my running clothes on and walk out of the door.

What’s your go-to form of exercise and time to workout?
Running! First thing in the morning while everyone at home is sleeping.

Does music motivate you?
Yes! I recently drove to the park only to find out I didn’t have my ear phones with me. I turned around and went home to get them so I could run with music.

What’s your must-have song?
Lately I’ve been running with Pandora’s Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout radio station.

How many nights a week do you cook dinner?
I cook dinner probably five to six times a week.

Do you meal prep or make it as you go?
I used to go to the grocery store with an idea of what I was planning to cook during the week. The results were mixed. I would come home and forget some ingredient. I’ve recently started writing it down and sticking with it which has made it a lot easier.

What’s your favorite recipe?
My favorite recipe would be my grandma’s beef stew. I recently made it and it keeps getting better every time I make it.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?
My greatest accomplishment to date was given birth twice to two beautiful, healthy, smart and funny little girls. They make me want to be the best version of myself.

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What is your current goal?
My current goal is to run more trail races this year. Normally I mostly run road races, but this year I would like to run 3 trail races.

Blog: http://www.parkesdale.com/blog
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/xiomeeks
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/xiomeeks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/xmeeks
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/xmeeks

Thank you Xiomara for sharing your story!! Please leave any questions for Xiomara in the comments :)

Interested in sharing your Simply Healthy story? Email me at SimplyModernDance@gmail.com

Trying new recipes, running on the beach and tap class

This week has been pretty normal. Here is how I handled dinners on busy nights, ran on the beach and my tap class experience :)

Busy nights

The boys have been busy after school and it makes dinner interesting. Each week, I set a menu before shopping over the weekend. This works well for us, but I kept forgetting to defrost the chicken for crock-pot nights. Of course, I was lazy and had thrown the package in the freezer. I have begun taking a minute and placing the chicken in a freezer bag with the marinade before freezing it. Last week it was salsa for tacos and this week it was barbecue sauce. This has been great! I can put the frozen chicken right in the crock-pot and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours. It’s really been a lifesaver!

Trying a new recipe

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We did have one free night this week. I tried a new recipe (that I found on Pinterest) and it was a huge success! I made a chicken enchilada casserole from Skinny Mom, you can find the recipe here. The corn/bean/onion mixture added great flavor and texture. It was very easy and delicious :)

Running on the beach

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OK, this was not planned! I went to use the treadmill after teaching and they were all taken. I left and knew I really wanted to get my run in. The weather was beautiful, so I figured outside was the right option. Because it was in the middle of the day and I didn’t want to worry about traffic, I decided to try the beach. I haven’t run in sand since being a kid. What a different experience!

The beach was peaceful and pretty. For the first time, I didn’t use music. I simply heard the waves and birds. Absolutely perfect :) The sand was definitely trickier. I was hoping for a faster run, but am proud of the effort. Hopefully, the weather will allow me to keep running on the beach.

Tap class

My tap experience has been pretty frustrating and fun all at the same time. Historically, tap was my greatest strength. It was my happy place. For one reason or another, I haven’t tapped in a long time. Slight disclaimer – I took a very basic class last year and it was fun :). This year, I stepped it up and am taking an intermediate class. The class has been working on a routine for quite some time and I’m jumping in. In the past, this would have been easy for me. I am picking it up as I go along, but I’m used to being one of the best in class.

I’m OK with my 5k performances and can accept being at the end. I’m the new kid. Tap is supposed to be my strength. Like athletes who return to fitness, I’m learning that 15 years away is a really long time :) The group of women is amazing and I’m getting better each week. Like running and weights, I am seeing progress and I feel pretty good about that.

How do you prepare dinner on busy nights? Have you tried running on the beach? Have you gone back to something you love and have to build back?

Courtney is Simply Healthy!!

This week’s Simply Healthy feature is Courtney!!  You can follow her journey at The TriGirl Chronicles.  I hope you enjoy Courtney’s story as much as I do :)

Courtney from The Tri Girl Chronicles

Tell us a little bit about you…

I’m a recently married runner turned triathlete. I have a Bachelors in health education, a Masters in health promotion, am a certified k-12 health education teacher, and a nationally Certified Health Education Specialist. I love all things related to health and fitness and am completely fascinated by the human body and all the incredible and awe inspiring things it is capable of. I truly believe anyone can accomplish anything they set out for with the right mind set and work ethic because we are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

What was your aha moment?

Growing up I was always pretty athletic. My parents had my brother and I in sports our whole lives. I started running track at age 12; joining my school districts modified team. I ran track through my junior year and qualified for states a number of times. In college I played Rugby for two years, and my senior year I ran on and off here and there. My now husband convinced me to register for a 5k that year. I assumed my many years as a successful runner and my here and there running would carry me through, but it did not. I walked a number of times, got frustrated, cried, and fussed during that race. It was a big eye opener to me that my previous years of track weren’t going to carry me my whole life. After that I took my first real job post college graduation. It involved a long commute and I ended up hating the job. It was a complete mental, emotional, and physical drain for me. Again, I stopped running. In the summer of 2011 I saw a number of people I had gone to high school and college with participated in the Iron Girl Syracuse Triathlon. I saw the pictures and posts about it on Facebook and thought “I can totally do that.” So on November 1st, 2011, I registered for the following year’s race. At this point I was at my heaviest weight ever and very unhappy. But I now something to focus on and train for, and on August 5th, 2012, I stood on the sand at Oneida Lake Park ready to run my first triathlon. Crossing that finish line was the most difficult yet emotionally transcending thing I had accomplished. It helped shape me into the healthy and active person I am today with my eyes set on running a full Ironman Triathlon in 2015.Courtney from The Tri Girl Chronicles

Did you go all in or build over time?

It’s always been an on-again-off-again thing for me. I tend to jump into things in life feet first and I don’t always think things through. I signed up for that first triathlon not owning a bike and not having swam competitively since my single abysmal season on my school’s swim team in eighth grade. So I guess I really kind of go all out. I’m an all or nothing type of person.

Do you prefer exercising alone or in a group?

I’m definitely better solo. I know how to push myself and can easily train alone. However, my husband is a great running partner and I’m just starting to attend my local triathlon club workouts.

What’s your go-to form of exercise?

Running always has been my go to. It’s such a cathartic thing for me. However, I find a long, solo bike ride to be incredibly freeing. And as I work on my poor swimming skills I’m also learning the silence of the water can sooth the soul and make me feel completely rejuvenated.Courtney from The Tri Girl Chronicles

What’s your favorite time to work out?

In the morning. I hate the getting up part, but I like that it doesn’t feel like it’s interfering with the rest of my day, or like I have to move something else or give up time elsewhere to do it later. Also, I find that starting my day off with a workout sets me up to make better choices the rest of the day.

Does music motivate you?

Sure! A great song can push me to run harder or faster or carry me longer. But I’m also starting to learn that going sans music allows me to focus more on myself and let my training help me become more connected to myself. It’s really empowering doing a workout without music and only focusing on yourself.

What’s your must-have song?

I love running to anything Pitbull releases because the beat his songs are usually at tend to be perfect for a hard or fast run. For cycling I like things with a softer, more rhythmic tempo to them, like Avicci’s Wake Me Up, or John Newann’s new song Love Me Again.

How many nights a week do you cook dinner?

Not many, actually. My husband and I work opposite schedules so we both fend for ourselves. He cooks his meals fresh everyday where as I am a big fan of food prepping and precooking so I only have to reheat. So once a week usually, but I cook everything for a whole week that one day.

Do you meal prep or make it as you go?

Prep, for sure. It’s such a time saver and it keeps me from not knowing what to have for meals and just grabbing something to go.

What’s your favorite recipe?

Right now I’m loving on turkey tacos with tons of onions and peppers mixed right into the meat. Just reheat some precooked mix, pile onto a big lettuce leaf, and top with avocado and it’s delicious. I also really love salmon and veggies.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

My greatest accomplishment was definitely this past summer as a whole. I lost all the weight I gained while working my crappy job that I have since left, got married, ran my first half marathon, and ran two more sprint and one Olympic distance triathlon. I was fitter and happier than I had ever been this past summer and I can’t wait to have an even greater season this year.

What is your current goal?

My current goal is to make it out of my upcoming race season alive and with new PR’s for some of my repeat races. I’m running a 77.7 mile relay race in April, and very difficult and hilly 40 mile reverse triathlon in May, my first half Ironman in June, a handful of sprint and Olympic distance triathlons July through September. Then I’m rerunning the same half marathon in October. It’s going to be difficult but I know I can do it. Long term I plan to race Ironman Chattanooga, my first full iron distance triathlon, in September 2015.

Courtney from The TriGirl Chronicles
Blog: http://www.thetrigirlchronicles.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TriGChronicles
Instagram: http://instagram.com/trigirlchronicles
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/CourtneyTGC/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetrigirlchronicles

Thank you Courtney for sharing your story!  Please leave any questions for Courtney in the comments :)

Interested in sharing your Simply Healthy story?  Email me at SimplyModernDance@gmail.com