#FitnessFriday: Running Gear Rundown

fitness-friday-running-gear-rundown

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I look ridiculous when I run.

I look ridiculous in the same way most people don’t look their best when they’re exercising. On top of that, I use an obscene amount of running gear just for a three-mile run. I’m not marathon training, so why all the gear? There’s a method to my madness, I swear.

Let’s break it down:

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

The majority of my running gear is related to running with a dog. When I run 5k races without her, I use a fraction of this stuff. I’m trying to keep us safe and I’m a responsible dog owner so all of this junk serves a purpose.

Leash

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I hate holding things when I run. I hate when my hands get hot and sweaty. Enter the Stunt Puppy Hands-Free Dog Leash. After my brother-in-law died last year, my in-laws gave us a few of his dog things. They still have his awesome pup, Munchy, but Sean used this leash when he took her running. My in-laws take Munch on daily walks, but running they are not. Thinking I could use it, they passed it on to me. I love that it leaves my hands completely free, and I don’t have to worry about her running off while I’m picking up some poop or I’m otherwise distracted.

Some downsides: Bailey is a pretty good runner in that she doesn’t really get distracted when we’re moving at a good pace. But sometimes, she gets a whiff of something and she stops short. Dog owners know what I’m talking about. Because the leash is around your waist,  the sudden jerk to a stop can be downright painful. It’s also harder to remove the leash should you be in a situation where you need to be separated from your dog. I don’t want to be attached to my dog if she’s in a fight with another dog. Overall, though, I’m happy with it.

Poop Bags

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left poop on the side of the road. It was always because I was out of bags. I really try to never find myself without a poop bag (Click here to read why dog poop isn’t fertilizer). These holders are a dime a dozen. I got the blue one as part of a gift bag doing a 5k and I purchased the green one after Bailey first came home. I like the green one from Earth Rated because it has a little clip that makes it easier to hold a full bag, but it’s plastic and I hate how it swings around when I run. It’s been since moved to Bailey’s walking leash.

I’m a fan of Earth Rated bags because they use less plastic than the other kind. Realistically, these bags won’t biodegrade any faster than a plastic shopping bag, but they’re made with less raw material, which makes my hippy heart somewhat happy.

Running Belt

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I initially wanted a running belt that could hold pepper spray, treats and my cell phone, but it’s really just turned into a glorified treat bag. I like buying some things online, but others I need to touch and feel. Running belts were one of them. I purchased this one from Nathan at Dick’s because I had yet to discover the awesomeness of REI and I’m sure there I could have found a better selection. It’s small and light, but large enough to hold a bunch of dog treats and my little can of pepper spray.

Treats were more of a necessity when I was teaching Bailey leash manners, but now they’re just for sporadic reinforcement of those leash manners. Now, we’re working more on staying focused when we come across people or another dog, which doesn’t happen often at 6am. I also bring a couple of large biscuit treats in case she needs something a little more high value on which to focus. If we don’t need it, I give it to her at the end of our run.

Phone Case

When I bought my running belt I was also still going to the gym at NC State. Even though I had bought it with the intention of putting my phone in it, I realized that I wasn’t going to use it if I was working out at the gym. I ended up purchasing an arm band from Sporteer. The one I have currently is made for a Samsung Galaxy4, but my new iPhone 5S fits in it just fine. I like that it zips closed to protect it from the rain, but don’t expect to get too much done pressing those buttons. The plastic is pretty thick. It’s comfortable to wear and stays in place.

Pepper Spray

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

Aside from the occasional break-in, my neighborhood is pretty safe from scary men in white vans. It does, however, have far too many loose dogs running around. My feelings about that could take up 3,000 words so I won’t get into it, but I carry pepper spray with me in case Bailey and I are attacked by a dog. Thankfully, I’ve never had to use it and I hope I never will.

Headlamp

energizer-head-lamp

As I’ve said a bazillion times before, I live in a neighborhood without sidewalks, which means I have to run in the street. For a large portion of the year, it’s dark at 6am. I enjoy running that early because there are so few cars on the road. Naturally, I want to make sure those few cars see me. I used to use these little blinky lights I got at the pet store, but they use one of those obscure flat batteries and I always forget to order them.

My farther-in-law happened to give me this Energizer headlamp a few months back and it does the trick. For right now I use the red-light mode as it’s not completely dark when I go running, but in a week or two, I’ll likely switch over to the flashlight mode. I attach it to the belt of my hands-free leash. It uses three AAA batteries, which don’t require any special Amazon orders. It’s a little on the heavy side compared to the other lights, but it offers way more visibility.

Harness

The one piece of running gear I didn’t talk about is Bailey’s harness. We just invested in a Sleepypod ClickIt Sport and I’ll be dedicating an entire post to it. I really like it has a running harness but have yet to take her in the car with it, which is the main reason why we bought it. Once I do that, I’ll share with you my thoughts.

 

Got a piece of running gear that you recommend? Share it in the comments. 

 

#FinessFriday: Jumping on the FitBit Bandwagon

Yup. I’ve become THAT person. That person with the fitness tracker.

I was pretty apathetic toward the FitBit when it first came out. It was interesting, but it was a gadget that was out of my price range. I also had enough things tracking my movements – RunKeeper, My Fitness Pal – and really didn’t want another one.

I changed my mind when I realized I needed more accountability. I needed more motivation. I needed something that would force me to get off my ass and take the long way to the bathroom.

After some feedback from friends, I actually decided on purchasing a tracker from JawBone*, mainly because it had a neat little alarm that buzzed at you if you’ve been sitting too long. This is absolutely key when you have a desk job and hours could easily fly by without you having moved from your seat.

Cost, however, became the ultimate determining factor. The comparable FitBit was on sale for $84 on Amazon*. Sorry, JawBone. FitBit won out only because it was $13 cheaper.

To pay for this new little gadget, I used a gift card I got from my insurance company. Blue Cross Blue Shield NC gives you the opportunity to fill out a health assessment in exchange for a $50 gift card. Sure, I’ll take $50 just for spending 20 minutes entering my health information.

Thoughts Thus Far

I got the Flex because it was the cheapest wristband and even with the gift card I was still on a budget. Like all trackers, I know it’s not entirely accurate. I think I added 200 steps when I was petting my dog.

Regardless, seeing the numbers in real time does help motivate me to move a bit more. Hitting 10,000 steps is not easy unless you consciously go for a walk or a run, which I don’t do every day. It gives me a bit of a push while I’m work, which is something I desperately need. Now, I use the upstairs bathroom and take the long way back to the office and I take at least a 10-minute walk on my lunch. I’d like to take it a step further and go for a five minute walk around the building at 11 and 4 for fresh air and added steps.

A two-mile run helped me reach my daily step goal. // After the Knot

A two-mile run helped me reach my daily step goal. // After the Knot

Setting up challenges with your friends is pretty fun and motivating, but it can also be a little discouraging. FitBit will send you little notifications when your friends are catching up to you. Sometimes I look at my phone and think, “Well, OK FitBit, would you like to write up this post about the latest cumin recall?” Generally speaking, the challenges do add a little competition, which is another nice motivator.

// After the Knot

// After the Knot

The sleep tracker is pretty interesting. I’m not entirely sure what you’re suppose to do with that data, but it’s interesting to see that I’m getting just as little sleep as I thought.

I do really like the silent alarm, which in the morning is far less jarring than the radio. Waking up to the same bad country song starts to just make me angry.

// After the Knot

// After the Knot

 

It’s definitely not perfect and there’s been plenty written lately about how the whole fitness tracker fad is just a scam. Truth is, most things related to weight loss and fitness are a scam, but we do them anyway because maybe they work for us. Maybe spending $100 a month on protein shakes helped you drop 20 pounds. Maybe those wrap things everyone talks about actually work. Maybe juicing your meals has helped you eat more vegetables after you started eating solid foods again.

So far, I’m a fan of my FitBit. I don’t LOVE it and I wouldn’t consider it life-changing, but if it helps me stick with a healthier lifestyle then I’m all for it. If it keeps me accountable and keeps me mindful of my actions, then it’s worth it.

I need all the help I can get.

 

Do you have a fitness tracker? What do you think? Love it? Think it’s overrated?

 

*This post contains affiliate links. Learn more about affiliate links here

Sometimes, Running Just Sucks

Sometimes, running just sucks.

Sometimes you just feel like crap and you want to quit and cry and stuff your face with Bojangles chicken biscuits.

Sometimes you ask yourself why the fuck you’re doing this in the first place and you feel like a damn failure.

Sometimes, running just sucks.

That’s how I felt during my most recent 5k, which, oddly enough, was to benefit an afterschool program designed to empower girls and help them grow into strong women.

I felt far from empowered.

The race came at the end of a particularly rough week, fitness wise. The holiday weekend threw off our grocery schedule and I bought lunch most of the week. The weather wasn’t too great so I only got one run in and it was only a mile before it started to pour. I got some weight training in, but the lack of sleep kept me from giving it my all. I found myself yawning and falling asleep between sets.

On top of all that, I gained back two pounds, once again putting me in this battle with the same five pounds that I can’t seem to shake.

With about 2,000 people registered for the race that included many, many children, I found myself in the front of the group with the rest of the competitive runners. Normally, I put myself towards the back because I’m slow and I guess sort of a safety hazard for people who are faster. For the sake of my emotional stability, I should have done that again.

It didn’t take long for the stroller parents to catch up, despite having started after me. I simultaneously hate and admire stroller parents. I am in absolute awe of anyone that can run while pushing a stroller. Your fitness level is something that I strive for. I was once that stroller baby, my mom carrying me and a stroller down the three flights of steps of our Queens apartment so she could go jogging.

I WANT to be the stroller pusher one day, but man, you guys really know how to make one feel like a fat piece of shit. And, it’s not your fault. This is completely my issue and my own self-consciousness and blaming you for my feeling fat and out of shape is totally unfair. Often, stroller parents are inspiring, but on that day, they were not.

Soon, after the stroller parents passed, I started to see the children run around me. There’s nothing like having a 10-year-old run past you, clearly not struggling as much as you. Even when they slow down to walk that quick sprint put them so far ahead that they’ll finish 15 minutes before you. Imagine watching dozens of kids and their parents run around you, their little legs propelling them forward.

It becomes this, “wow, I really suck” moment.

Feelings like that are pretty irrational when you think about it, but they’re feeling nonetheless, and they can have a really bad effect on your psyche as you attempt to do something challenging.

Suddenly, everything I felt bad about just came to a head. I became angry at myself for not having the discipline to eat right. I felt like a failure because by this spring I planned to be down 25 pounds to a mid-point goal, but I’ve essentially been the same weight since December.

Instead of focusing on the fact that I was running a 5k, had lost a consistent 12 pounds, and made vegetables part of my regular diet, my mind swirled around all of my failures.

As my calves burned and I tried to breathe through the third cramp in my side, I just wanted to stop. I just wanted to quit. I just wanted to say fuck it. There was no song on my playlist that could give me the bump I needed.

I kept going because I knew that I’d feel even more like shit if I didn’t. I’d end up losing it in the middle of some Durham neighborhood in front of 2,000 people and I’d feel like an ass.

Then, as I entered the last half mile, my feet started to go numb, which has never happened before and suddenly I wondered if this was some sign that I was going to pass out. I kept going, finished the race and found C in the crowd. He listened as I let out all my feelings, allowing the tears to come, thankful that my red face would hide how upset I was.

Despite how terrible I felt, my race time didn’t really suffer that badly.

I finished in 39:51 for an average pace of 12:55 per mile.

In March, I hit my best time finishing in 38:54 for an average pace of 12:32 per mile.

I wish I had some inspirational ending for this post, but I really don’t. Sometimes feeling like shit is just feeling like shit and isn’t the epiphany you need to fix whatever it is that’s keeping you from accomplishing your goal.

A day later, I don’t really feel inspired. I don’t feel like saying, “Suck it up, Monti” or any other self-affirming kick in the ass.

It’s more like, “Well, that sucked. Tomorrow is a new day. Start again and try your best.”

So, tomorrow is a new day. I’m going to start again and just try my best.

 

 

#FitnessFriday: Leaving the Studio and Doing Yoga at Home

So this posting once a week thing isn’t really panning out like I had hoped. I need to take a weekend and just finish all of the half-done posts that are sitting in my drafts folder. Then I can schedule them all and pretend I wrote once a week. 

Onward…

I’ve been doing yoga on and off since 2007. I went regularly to the most amazing studio on the face of the earth for about a year until I was laid off and couldn’t really afford the cost. When I finally got another job, it was located 45 miles from home and even yoga was too much after sitting in Long Island traffic for more than an hour.

(Glowing endorsement: If you live in Suffolk, please head over to Essence of Yoga Studio. It’s absolutely everything you’d ever want in a studio. You’ll never want to do yoga any place else.)

When I moved to Raleigh I got a membership at the YMCA and began doing yoga twice a week for a little less than a year. It was great to be back at it. I only stopped when we moved to the opposite side of the county and it was no longer convenient.

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

I finally picked it up again last October when I got a membership at the NC State gym. A perk of being the wife of an NC State employee/student (or just a roommate, because that’s all you really need to be) is getting access to this amazing facility at a really affordable price. I used my membership to take yoga once a week and hit the gym sporadically.

Taking yoga classes at State, or any gym really, is kind of the opposite of what you’d get at a studio. Yoga, for many people, including myself, is more than just a workout. In a lot of ways, it’s a meditative and spiritual practice.

For example, when I run, I don’t really think about running. I think about everything. My mind is always working and processing. I have mentally written so many things while running, unfortunately, I rarely get them on paper.

When I do yoga, however, I don’t think about anything but my breathing and what my body is feeling at that exact moment. When my mind does begin to wander, it’s very easy to bring my concentration back to my breath. For an hour or two, my mind is mostly clear of distractions.

Learn more about yoga breathing known as Ujjayi breath. 

It’s a little hard to focus on my breathing when some meathead in the fitness center upstairs keeps dropping heavy weights on the floor. Or when the dance music for the Zumba class next door starts melding with the Christian music the yoga instructor has put on. Maybe I got in a good workout, but I leave there feeling empty.

Leaving the Gym

After taking a look at our finances, I decided we needed to trim down our expenses a bit. Some of our insurance premiums increased and we are starting to save money for the portion of maternity leave that won’t be covered by my short term disability policy (NOT pregnant. Just planning ahead).

I decided to save $25 a month by not renewing my membership at NC State and crowdsourced a few yoga at home options.

One of the recommendations was an iPad/iPhone app called Yoga Studio, which I downloaded for $3.99 and finally broke my paid-app virginity as everything I’ve ever downloaded has been free.

I’ve used it a few times now and I have to say that it was $4 well spent.

This is pretty much my life now. 

It has a variety of sessions that last 15, 30 and 60 minutes focusing on strength, flexibility and relaxation. What I really like about this app is the ability to build my own class. You can start from scratch or copy and edit an existing session.

I tried this feature this week and extended an existing session by an additional 13 minutes by adding more vinyasa flows and warrior combinations. I also nixed a few poses that are just too difficult right now (screw you and your reverse plank) and replaced them with others that are more at my current level.

You can copy and customize an existing session, which is what I did here.

You can copy and customize an existing session, which is what I did here.

I created a 15-minute session to tack on to my strength training routine and I plan on making a few super-short sessions for after running. This should help keep me focused while I stretch instead of half-stretching, half-looking-at-Facebook.

Doing yoga in my living room isn’t the same as Shirley’s studio on Long Island. It’s a bit more distracting and I don’t have the guidance of an experienced instructor. But, although the sessions are short, I do yoga more often now than when I was going to the gym. At this point, it’s the only New Year’s Resolution I’m actually exceeding. I don’t get home late and I don’t end my practice feeling nearly as empty as I once did.

My heart is starting to feel full again and that’s priceless.

Namaste 

 

#FitnessFriday: Running in the Dark

I decided to start 2015 off on the right foot, so on New Year’s Day I went for a run and I came to an odd realization.

I hate running in the sunlight.

I’m sorry, what?

Bailey and I typically hit the pavement by 5:50 a.m. during the week, but seeing as though I was off on New Year’s day, I wasn’t going to get myself up any earlier than my body wanted (one of the joys of currently being childless). On this particular day, we were out the door at about 10:30 a.m.

The sun was shining, and it was a brisk 38-ish degrees. It was a pretty nice day to be outside.

Our run started off almost immediately with a change in course as to avoid two wandering dogs. That was the first of many distractions Bailey and I encountered. There were other joggers, walkers with strollers, homeowners raking the leaves, speeding cars, and dogs testing the boundaries of their invisible fences.

I suddenly found myself in the midst of a dog training session that I wasn’t expecting.

The sun was at the perfect angle to hit right above my eyes, my giant forehead acting like a solar panel. I found myself squinting, which caused my mild headache to worsen. The sun, still strong despite the temperature, beat down on me and I felt hot in my long-sleeved shirt. The heat felt claustrophobic.

I was happy for the three miles to be over.

You know it, Andy.

You know it, Andy.

While petty, these little annoyances made me appreciate my runs before sunrise.

Darkness

Our next run was four days later at 5:40 a.m., a little earlier than our usual time thanks to a temporary bout of insomnia. The full moon gave us some extra light, but the stars still twinkled brightly and I spot Orion’s Belt somewhere along the way. A rooster begins to crow and early-risers warm up their cars. The distant T.V. towers more than 10 miles away blink intermittently as they transmit the morning news. My two feet and Bailey’s four paws seem extra loud as they hit the asphalt.

I listen for cars coming in the distance, but we see less than five that early in the morning. I watch Bailey for signs of distress. She usually spots something concerning before I do. Sometimes it’s another loose dog, other times it’s a pile of boxes on the side of the road.

I keep an eye out for the high schoolers walking to the bus stop, and wave to a sweet girl who always smiles when we pass. Out of habit, I look up to wave hello to the older man that sits on his porch drinking a cup of coffee. He hasn’t been there since the weather cooled, but I expect I’ll see him again soon.

Sometimes we see other runners, but their schedules aren’t as predictable and maybe they slept late that day.

We return to our driveway at about 6:25 a.m. just as the sun begins to brighten the horizon.

A view of the horizon at the end of our run. / After the Knot

A view of the horizon at the end of our run. / After the Knot

We’ll have more light as the days get longer, but even then I’ll always try to be home before the sun rises above the trees. The summer heat is oppressive and unsafe for a dog covered in a heavy coat.

I rarely feel unsafe in my neighborhood, but find that I’m always on the alert – waiting for the next car to come flying around the blind curve or loose dog to say hello. I move further into the road as I pass the occasional wooded lot and eye each darkened stranger with caution until I’m certain it’s just a neighbor going about his morning routine. funny-slow-runner-t-shirt-540x625

I thought I would find more comfort in the light. Cars can see me more easily and strangers can be identified a block away. I can see through the wooded lots and avoid the loose dogs more quickly.

But with the light comes distractions that are louder than listening for an oncoming vehicle. It’s a chorus of cars, and strollers, and dogs, and friendly neighbors, all under this blinding, heavy blanket.

Even with an eye of caution, the darkness is quiet. It’s peaceful.

And on our quiet run in the dark, I realized that I somehow learned to become OK with setting my alarm for 5:10 a.m. and heading out the door 40 minutes later.

Somehow, I learned to like running.

Somehow, in the darkness, I became a runner.

Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post

As 2014 came to a close, I’m likely one of many people that reflected on the promised improvements they made this time last year.

For me, New Year’s resolutions have always been kind of useless. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really achieved any of the goals I set for myself. I do like considering the New Year as a blank slate, though. I think dwelling on the mistakes of your past can be destructive, but setting broad goals without any sort of infrastructure to help achieve them defeats the purpose.

What good is “lose 60 pounds” if I don’t also include the steps I’ll need to actually lose that much weight? Case in point, losing 60 pounds has been my New Year’s resolution for a good two years, but not only did I not achieve that goal each year, I put on more weight.

Finally shedding 18 pounds wasn’t due to multiple resolutions; my weight loss was due to accomplishing small goals and changes throughout the year (and yes, weight loss medication my doctor prescribed).

It was setting a goal to work out four times a week and including two vegetables with dinner (something we still struggle with). It was trying desperately to avoid eating carbs for lunch and dinner. It was signing up for three 5Ks with a goal to do them without walking. It was striving to go to yoga once a week. Those little goals had more of an impact on my success than the bold statement of “lose 60 pounds.”

So, this year I’m taking a different approach to New Year’s resolutions.

In that vein, here are some small goals to get 2015 started:

Finances

Our paltry savings were wiped out when we moved to Raleigh more than four years ago. Consistent financial insecurity has caused us to put any potential savings toward chipping away at debt (medical, credit card and student loan).

someecards.com

someecards.com

While that hasn’t changed, I decided to build up our savings again by automatically drafting $20 from each paycheck. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I’m sure I’ll be tempted to transfer those accrued savings, but in my savings account is where they should stay.

Fitness

The past year, I’ve focused mainly on cardio because I only have time to do one workout each day and the dog can’t lift weights. This year, I want to do at least two days of strength training per week.

I’m not giving up running (or “running”), though. As I’ve written about before, now that I’ve reached my distance goal, I’ll be working on speed to bring down my mile time. Like last year, I’ll sign up for a few races to keep me focused and motivated.

earthporm.com

earthporm.com

I want to continue going to yoga at least once a week, kicking it up to two when it works with my weekend schedule. At the very least, I plan on incorporating yoga into my strength training routine. Sun salutations are like yoga burpees, I assure you.

(They look easy, but do 10 rounds and tell me how your arms feel the next day)

Food

We’ve been half-assing an attempt to include more produce into our diet for a while now. Most of it goes in the compost pile unused and rotten. This year, on top of wasting less, I want to start thinking about our meals a little differently.

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

We generally focus on protein and build dinner around that.

Example: We have chicken. What can we make with chicken? Chicken cutlets. OK. What else are we having with it?

Instead, I’d like to focus on a particular vegetable and build the dinner around it, even if it’s still the side dish.

Example: We have spinach. What can we make with spinach? Sautéed spinach. OK. What else are we having with it?

I have no idea if this mental change will work, but it’s worth a shot.

Dog Training

My dog is freaking awesome, but she’s far from perfect. Her recall only works in my yard and she gets so excited when she sees people or dogs that are obviously her new best friend, she lunges and barks until her harness gets twisted and people stare at me with their judgey eyes. This is Bailey’s terrifying way of saying, “I love you and I’m so happy to see you.”

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I'll never see her again. / After the Knot

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I’ll never see her again. / After the Knot

We’ve already started learning a new cue, “touch,” to help bring her focus back on me. We’re also working on “focus” to keep her attention there. This year we’ll continue working on these cues, along with practicing recall in the front yard, outside the boundaries of our fence.

 

And that’s it. I’m leaving it at that.

I’d like to get more organized, learn how to sew, learn a new crochet stitch, read more books, go hiking more regularly, go kayaking, and paint the hallways in my house. And if I do all that, awesome. But if I don’t, it’ll be OK.

Here’s to 2015, a blank slate.

#FitnessFriday: Turkey Day 5K

I had this brilliant idea a couple of months back to run a 5k on Thanksgiving.

Everyone replied, “I guess you’re not cooking?” Oh no. I did. For eight people.

Race Day

Bailey was my running buddy for the past two races I did, but this time I went at it alone. I was curious as to how I would really do without the distractions that come with running with a dog (Poop. It always comes down to dog poop.).

The weather was cold and rainy, which of course, is awesome. I honestly don’t mind the cold. I hate being hot when I run. I’d rather be a bit on the chilly side. The rain was another story.

Runners waited inside until a race organizer announced that it was time to get lined up. Off we all went just as the cold rain started to come down. And there we stood for a good 10 minutes.

Just waiting. In the rain.

Thankfully, by the time we got going, the rain had let up and the sun was slowly starting to peek through the clouds.

Not too sure what to do with these things. Part of me wants to keep them and the other just wants to get rid of the clutter.

Not too sure what to do with these things. Part of me wants to keep them and the other just wants to get rid of the clutter.

The race was held in a notoriously wealthy part of town, which is fine. No ill will on their end. Not being a resident of this wealthy part of town, I was unaware how hilly it was. A few weeks back I stopped avoiding the big steep hill in my neighborhood, which ended up being good training for this course.

The hills were longer, but less steep so I knew that I could handle them at a slow, but steady pace.

Sidebar: To all the moms and dads that pushed strollers up those hills, I applaud you. I hope to one day be as fit as you. 

The finish line, of course, was at the top of a hill, which as you can imagine is really super fucking awesome when you’re 40 pounds overweight and physically exhausted from jogging all of those other hills.

Results

My race mantra was, “Slow and steady finished the race without walking.”

I don’t judge people who walk part of all of their 5k. I mean, my pace is so slow that most people can walk next to me so who am I to judge anyone?

See sidebar above. 

But walking isn’t my goal. My goal is to finish without walking. My goal is to run, jog, whatever, the entire thing no matter how slow the pace.

Race 1 – Run for Their Lives 5k: 45:42, 14:44 min mile

Race 2 – Dog Day 5k: 43:16, 13:57 min mile

Race 3 – Just Think First 5k: 41:34, 13:24 min mile

Red-faced, exhausted and representing the NY Islanders.

Red-faced, exhausted and representing the NY Islanders.

I took off quite a bit of time overall, but I attribute that to not having Bailey and not because I’ve improved my pace since my last race.

Despite that, I’m proud that my race times continue to creep downward and I continue to achieve my goal of finishing without walking.

Winter Training

Thankfully this part of North Carolina has fairly mild winters so I should be able to keep up with my jogging regime until race season starts up next spring. Bailey needs the exercise so I don’t have much of a choice.

My ultimate goal is an overall time of 30 minutes for a 10-minute-mile.

Since walk/jog intervals got us to 3 miles, I figure jog/run intervals will help bring down our time. Using street lights as markers, Bailey and I jog for two street lights and walk for three. We do this until we get to the bottom of the big hill and break to focus on just getting back up.

The system seems to be working out well: I feel like I’ve added a challenge to my workout, without feeling like I’m killing myself and Bailey is happy that we’ve picked up the speed.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to hit my goal by the time the race season starts back up in the spring.

But, then again, this time last year, I couldn’t even jog a mile.

It just might happen.