Defending Champions

Well you’re looking at the defending snowshoe state champions 2017!

Yes that’s right, we ran the Spring Mountain SnowShoe race again this year. How fitting that I’m finally getting the race recap up on the blog and it’s a snow day here for us! We’re getting hit with the first significant storm of the season and we’re already in February. Yesterday it was 65 degrees and today…a blanket of snow! Sorry for the blurry crooked picture of my backyard.

Back to the race- so the race was held on Saturday, January 28th, at a small ski mountain in Pennsylvania. It was cold and since there was only man made snow the race was held entirely on the slope this year! Last year there was snow from mother nature, a lot of it, so the race meandered through the woods and you only climbed up and ran down the ski slope one time. This year was a little different, the course was definitely a challenge to say the least, but we both finished first in our age groups.

This year’s course had you climbing the slope in a diagonal pattern until you reached a straight passage that had a gradual incline. You ran up and down two bunny hills, and then made your way back down the mountain on the other side- again in a diagonal pattern. When you reached the bottom area you were then directed through another straight passage with a gradual incline and then you rounded the corner and headed down to the very bottom of the slope. As you came down you made your way back to where you started…and then you did it all over! Here’s a picture from last year’s race that someone sent me. It is a picture of a picture they saw in a local paper. Trish and I are the two toward the back. I am the last person in the pack.

That whole second time around was a major mental road block for me. I don’t know about you, but passing the same point twice in any race messes with my mind. Especially when the first time around is so brutal. Snow shoeing is tough. The man at the awards ceremony commented on the amount of not only physical toughness but mental toughness that is needed for this sport. It is truly a testament of your will power no doubt.

My race started off well. I felt good as we climbed the slope. That was about the only time I felt good. I think I fell about four times as I made my way up the hill. Every time I rounded a cone I would step on my own shoe and fall flat on my face. Once I made it to the straight pass I slowed down to a walk but it was a trudging through the snow kind of walk. I decided to try and pick it up back to a run and fell flat on my face…again. This time there were no corners to blame it on, I pretty much just fell for no reason. Once I got to the bunny hills I picked it back up to a full run. When you run in snow shoes you have to really pick your knees up and keep your steps even. It’s hard. As I rounded the corner after the bunny hill I headed down the slope. I felt like I was running out of control down the slope and I was doing everything I could to not just roll down it. I could hear my wrist or ankle cracking the entire way down and I felt like my bones were all knocking together. I actually had to laugh at the man ahead of me because his arms were swinging all over the place and then I realized my arms were doing the same! Once I was down and made it to the next straight pass I decided to treat it as an interval. There were blue ribbons tied to the trees sporadically through this area. So I used the ribbons as start and stopping points for my walk/run intervals. That worked well and kept my mind focused on that rather than on hating life.

So I made it out to the clearing and headed down to the turn around point. I used the same strategy in round two. The second round was really just me telling myself it would be over soon. I really just had to mentally coach myself through it and try to keep the thoughts of “why do I pay to do this to myself” at bay. That’s all I can say. I knew it was temporary and that when I got down this time I would be done. I was so happy when I crossed that finish line! All in all this is a very challenging race but also a lot of fun. There is a cute old couple who run everything and during the awards ceremony the old man thanked his wife for all she does and their grandchild brought out a bouquet of flowers for her. It was so sweet. They had an interesting antler crown with a little ivy wrapped around it for the overall female and male top finisher. Then the other winners received hand made trophies that you can see we are holding in the picture below.

I’m telling you this is a wicked workout and we were sore for the rest of the week. My quads burned for two straight days…but it was that good burn where you know you really worked your muscles. I’ve been eyeing up snow shoes…I might be adding them to my Christmas list next year! The race made running a challenge last week. Between calf issues and just general soreness the running miles were light and the ones I did log were a struggle. I took some rest days and refueled.

And then finally on Monday my run felt great…the 55 degree temperatures, home early from work, and a setting sun all contributed!

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Gym Intimidation

Happy weekend friends! We have a Saturday morning of basketball and then a pretty open schedule!

So with my new job (well 8 months now so not brand spanking new but close enough) you get a membership at the YMCA after 6 months of employment. I was super excited about this perk especially because I have a lot of evening meetings and work is too far to come home in between so having the opportunity to hit the gym in between work and meetings instead is ideal. Or is it?

I tried the gym out a few times. The first time I did nothing but walk on the treadmill. I forgot headphones so I basically watched Fixer Upper as I walked with no sound. Lucky for me it was a rerun and a show like that you’re really only looking at the houses and not so much listening to what is being said so that was okay. I tried to look around a little but the majority of the machines were occupied by what we all think of in our heads when someone says they are going to the gym to workout. So I left feeling less than fulfilled or pumped about an awesome workout I had. I figured that maybe my lunch hour isn’t enough time to squeeze a workout in.

I tried again a few days later but this time I went after work before a meeting. I actually did have plenty of time in between but I found myself doing exactly the same thing. I walked on the treadmill and watched the TV this time with my headphones. Although it did take me about five full minutes to figure out where to plug the headphones in. Ugh. So I called it a year and decided to head back beginning in January.

I went twice last week and twice this week so far. This is in addition to my normal running and home boot camps.So if I don’t get there it’s fine because normally I have already worked out. As I was leaving the gym I kept thinking about how I really would like to take advantage of the machines and equipment that I don’t have access to at home. It seems silly to go there and do only the things I’m used to doing when I’m not working out in the gym, but having no idea about how the weight lifting machines work makes it difficult to stray from my normal cardio work. There is a little room upstairs so I did try the bike this week and I did a plank workout I made up. I also used the inside track to do intervals. Slowly I’m trying to do more there but I must say the gym intimidation is real. I always workout, but for whatever reason, I feel like someone who is working out for the very first time in their life. I’d take running with a friend or solo over a trip to the gym any day. I’m determined to keep at it but I am hoping other people have tips about how to conquer the gym intimidation.

Do you have gym intimidation?

How do you get past that and get a good workout in?

What machines do you use at the gym? Any suggestions?

 

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Welcome 2017

Happy New Year and a big welcome to 2017! Can you believe it, 2016 has ended and we are embarking on a fresh new year? How exciting. I love the promise of a new year with all the goals we think about and the many things we hope to accomplish over the next 365 days. The new year can really give people hope about what’s to come and it allows you to shed what was and embrace what is and hope for what’s to be.

I received a text yesterday from a good running friend and she was super excited about how this would be the year she is turning her health around and slowly but surely going to pick up her running again. I felt so happy for her because that is a great feeling when you feel like you finally have the opportunity to make the change and you have a renewed attitude to see you through it. I’m excited for her and for all of us because we all have that opportunity. And we don’t just have it when the calendar turns the page we have that same opportunity every single day. We can wake up and start new.

The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 were really hard for me. I was in a very awful spot and was struggling to just make it through the day. I decided to make changes and when I did, it made all the difference. So if you’re stuck in something or find yourself in a situation that no longer serves you or makes you happy, I encourage you to take the steps to change it.

I know that is easier said than done because often the problem is that we want to change so badly but we simply don’t know how. That was my situation last year. I didn’t know what to do to make the change but with the help of family and friends and support of my husband,I decided to have a little faith and to start making the changes I needed to make me happy.

I quit a job that I hated, put some hard hurt feelings behind me so I could start healing, I ran…I ran a lot, I found a new job that I really like, and I moved on and slowly restored my spirit. The year ended so much better than it began and I learned so much along the way. So I welcome 2017 with open arms because our year and our life is what we make it. Happiness is a choice…choose wisely!

I wish you peace in the new year and I hope whatever your goals may be, that you run happy!

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New Training Cycle

Hello! Welcome to a new week. Mondays are hard, especially rainy cold Mondays! So wake up and do something small that you love. I love having a nice cup of coffee and typing up a blog post. We are on a rest day today and that worked out just fine with the rain. I had no problem staying in bed.

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I have a confession to make about the Runners World Run Streak I talked about in my last post. I was all set to participate again this year and then the next weekend I took a rest day and completely forgot about the streak!!! I didn’t realize until the next day! So my streak came to an end. However, I encourage all of you to keep at it if you’re participating. While I took a rest day, I have been running or working out all the other days.

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I even got to join the YMCA through my work! I tried it out this week. I watched an hour of Fixer Upper over lunch while I walked on the treadmill. I am going to figure out some type of routine schedule to get over there during lunch or in between work and evening meetings when I stay at work. Maybe I can find a class or something. We’ll see but I’m excited about it.

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The other thing going on that will require more deliberate rest days, is that we’ve decided to train for the Lancaster Marathon! I don’t think that is the official name, I think it is called the Garden something or other. There is both a half and a full marathon option. My plan is to train for the full and then make a decision closer to the date. We decided to do a long run and see how we felt. We agreed if we felt good at 13 miles we’d move forward and start training. Well we only actually ran 11 or 12 miles but we felt good and so we’re moving ahead. I have an appointment with the doctor this week to follow up with my kidney and as long as I’m good there, I can start documenting the training cycle.

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This training cycle I am going to really focus on hydration and nutrition. I want to see how the proper attention to both helps in race day performance. I already know that strength training and rest also play a major role in training so I will be focusing on those items as well. The marathon is in April, so we will have hit or miss weather for sure, but I think as long as we’re well prepared we will just have endure whatever conditions we’re dealt.

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Yesterday we did a 13 mile early morning run in chilly 24 degree temps. The run felt great though.

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Later in the day the whole family participated in a little run called the Santa Scurry. Excuse the blurry picture!

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It was so fun for the boys. Josh walked and stayed with Brooks as he ran on and off. Nolan ran the whole thing! I couldn’t believe it. That was the furthest he has ever run and he was a hurting turkey by the end but he dug deep and finished strong. I was so proud of him. Not only because he had just run a little over three miles, but because he didn’t give up even when his body really wanted him to. The race raised 525 pounds of food for a local food pantry!

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Well I hope you make it a great week. I love this holiday season and looking at lights on my tree!

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Staying on Track This Holiday

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I started writing this post the day before Thanksgiving so it was written in anticipation of the big day…figures I am just finishing it up now. This is my favorite week of the year and although I can’t believe we’re here already, I also can’t believe how much my whole family needed this break! It seems long overdue. I love Thanksgiving. I love thinking about everything I’m thankful for and remembering all my blessings. I’m so much more aware of them all during this time….and then of course I love the turkey meal- my all time favorite and I love football games and colder weather (for a little bit), parades on TV, and what’s not to love about all the turkey trots! So as you can tell I’m anxiously awaiting the upcoming festivities.

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I’m suffering from a minor knee injury so I had to take a few days off from running. I have no idea what I did to my knee. I ran on the treadmill Monday night because this guy asked if we could.

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He also asked me to put this Momentum Jewelry charm on his shoe…a man after my own heart. The charm says “dream big”.

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So I ran and then I did some kettle bell lifts on the Bosu ball. I’m not sure what I did but I’m assuming the injury I sustained happened on the BOSU although I felt nothing initially. It wasn’t until later when we were watching Monday Night Football that I started to feel like my knee was bruised. It got worse through the night and when I woke up for boot camp at 5:00 a.m. it was as stiff as could be but felt like an external injury. I did boot camp just no leg work or impact and then iced it and took Motrin. It bothered me all day so I took Wednesday off from running and this is what it looked like on Wednesday night…ignore the pasty white legs!

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It felt slightly better as the day went on and with some more ice and Motrin I could only tell it hurt if I touched it. Oh and it was warm to touch.My sister thought I was bitten by a spider. It didn’t stop me from getting up and running on Thanksgiving…I had to get the turkey trot in…couldn’t miss it. Too much good eating had to go on later that I needed the run in the morning. I was a stuffed bird by the end of the night though and after Nolan suffered a major meltdown after dessert we called it a night.

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So many of you know that this time of year people start talking about how the average American gains 6-10 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and then the day after New Year’s everyone goes out and gets a gym membership to shed the holiday pounds and make good on their resolutions (even if it is only for the first two weeks of the year or until that free month membership expires). Wouldn’t it be great to not get so far behind the eight ball? It would be so much easier to just be mindful through the holiday season so that when all is said and done you’re not really any different than when the season began…other than hopefully mentally reset and ready for a new year. We all hear “everything in moderation” and I think if we take that approach to the holiday season we won’t feel like we’ve fallen off the wagon and gotten run over by it come January 2nd.

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This year I’m going to approach the holidays with a non-stress attitude. I’m going to spend more time with family and friends and less at the stores shopping.

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I’m going to spend less time checking off items on my “things to do list” and more time enjoying my little boys.

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I’m going to run more and worry less, and I’m going to soak up all the joys of the season so that my heart and my soul feels happy and ready for the next year ahead.Merry Christmas!

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Oh and if you’re interested I’m going to do the Runner’s World Run Streak again- log a mile everyday from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. This is a great way to keep yourself in check over the holidays. If you do join me and you follow me on Instagram hashtag #milestohomestead and #RWRunstreak.

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How many of you participated in a turkey trot this weekend?

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Finding Balance

So we’ve made it to November…how did that happen? I love November. It is one of my favorite months and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that it isn’t too cold yet and we haven’t quite hit the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, there is just something so special about this time of year. I try to think about that when life gets super crazy. I try to remember what a great time it is even when I’m busy and stressed. Slowing down for even a few minutes in the morning before I start my day can be a game changer. It’s all about finding your balance.

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Right now my work life is super crazy. I’ve been busier than ever. I know it is only temporary but in times like these you have to do a little shifting in order to maintain your balance. Balance is not a static thing, it is always evolving based on your circumstances and sometimes our priorities shift and therefore so does that balance. I keep thinking about the Corona commercials where they say to “find your beach”. So true.

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Finding balance is probably one of the most elusive goals we can try to achieve. Balance is different for everyone but it always centers on our values. What we value most in life and what is truly important to us is always at the center of our quest for balance because that is where we derive our happiness. Whether that be family, church, exercise (running), work, or any other activity we find important to us, we have to figure out a way to make time for all of those things. We have to prioritize. I read somewhere that the first step in doing that is to rule out things that are just not going to work for you. Even though you think you could possibly squeeze it in you just have to accept that sometimes you can’t do it all.

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The thing that I have finally accepted for me is volunteering to be a homeroom mom at my sons’ school. Every year the flyer comes home and every year I stare at it tempting myself with the idea that I could squeeze it in. Then I think about it a little longer and realize I could probably squeeze it in but at the expense of what? So this year I decided I was going to stop beating myself up about it and I was just going to simply offer to help when I can and accept the fact that being a homeroom mom is just going to be one thing I cross off my list of things to do. It felt great to finally shorten the list.

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I read a good article on this subject from the Huffington Post. Some of the tips the author gives for finding balance are:

  1. Define what a balanced life means to you
  2. Create boundaries
  3. Say No without explaining
  4. Keep a journal
  5. Understand & accept that you’re not a superhero

A few other tips I read and have heard from numerous people are:

  1. Turn off the computer and put down the phone long before you head to bed for the night
  2. Wake up a little earlier each day and try to enjoy some quiet time on your own
  3. Read the Bible before you go to bed or when you wake up or both
  4. Become an expert in time management and set goals for all areas of your life
  5. Learn how to adapt-be flexible

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You need balance in running too. You have to mix it up. You can’t always be running for endurance, you can’t always be training for a marathon, and you can’t always be increasing your speed. You have to incorporate other facets to your workout so that you have balance. Adding in a strength training session a few days week, stretching, hill repeats, swimming, cycling, or some other form of cross-training will help you have more overall fitness. Running can really be a metaphor for life-right? The past few weeks have really made me think about the tremendous amount of stress we put ourselves under and how that can secretly reek havoc on our health and well being. We shouldn’t wait until we’re faced with serious issues before we make changes, we should really make our own happiness a priority and we should resign ourselves to start today.

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Have a great weekend!

 

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