I have gotten so much better with my coordination, thanks to the past several years I have been working out with Jeff, as well as my running. I still say that I can be in the middle of an empty room and come out of it, with a black and blue mark on my shin or arm and not know how I got it. I use the emergency strap when I run on the treadmill even though I am not super speedy…I just don’t want to repeat that time I slipped on the treadmill and landed in a corner behind it, with the tread still running over and over my knee.
So I am a bit more conditioned with certain things and I can do a reverse lunge like a pro but I still average a trip/fall once a year. I had my annual fall yesterday when I was rushing to pick up something from a store in downtown Jerusalem and I slipped on the cobblestone ground and landed on my left side. It left me pretty banged up by my left hip and I apparently landed on my right thigh since there is an array of colors that I didn’t see yesterday morning.
I had my 5k this morning and I stepped across the starting line with the intention of running according to feel…meaning, if the pain worsened as I moved along, I would walk the rest. I wasn’t thinking of this as a race but rather, a run or whatever I could manage in the state I was in. I started out with somewhat of a jog and stuck to that for a good kilometer, more because I had to wait for the crowd to move along than anything else. As we moved downhill and around a local university, I felt like I could move a little faster and so I did that thing I mentioned earlier…I ran according to feel. There were a few hills along the route and so, I managed myself with the pace to keep on running without getting out of breath. Banged up hip aside, it was a great run/race/event and I have no regrets.
I don’t think I’ve written an official list of the five things I love doing in my workouts with Jeff and the five things I think to myself, you want me to do what?! I had a few minutes to think about it after I finished today’s virtual session but the truth is, the two lists have been compiling in my head since the day Jeff and I first met. And here they go!
- Lat pull machine. I love how my upper body works with pulling the weight up and down and seeing the toning work in action.
- Chest presses. Great upper body work, whether it’s pressing two 8 pound dumbbells or 15 each.
- Leg extension machine. I don’t get to use it much when I’m using the gym here but when Jeff includes it in a circuit, I know I am going to be working my legs hard, whether it’s higher weights and less repetitions or lower weights and more repetitions.
- Child’s pose at the end of a workout. I often feel like I want to get up out of a child’s pose when I have something else to do but when it’s the very last thing I do in a workout, I take my time and breathe and make the most of it.
- Squats. Whether it’s with the TRX or holding onto a kettlebell or doing a stand alone squat, this move is great for lower body/body tightening.
You Want Me To Do Whats
- Planks. I know they are good for the core, yada yada yada…I just don’t like them. I don’t like having to hold this for 30 seconds or 2 minutes and having to mentally focus. I often start on a plank and go into that place of thinking, ‘45 seconds left? I can’t do this!’ And of course, I am able to do it and I feel like I ran up a mountain after I’m done but I’d rather stay on flat land.
- Row ups. There is a certain way to start on a row up, stay in it and come out of it. When I am really focused, I can get four or five out of ten right. It’s something you cannot rush and skip out on. You have to take your time and do it right. And as much as I don’t love doing them, I know it’s an important movement and practice will eventually make perfect.
- Burpees. We once did a 30 day challenge and I somehow got through it but I really don’t enjoy the whole process. I never know if and when I have to jump out of it when I am finished and I don’t always hold my form right when I’m supposed to be in a plank position. Not fun.
- Get ups. I have gotten better at it so they aren’t as terrible as I used to think they were. You have to be on the ground and have one foot up in the air and reach towards it with the hand on that same side. It’s similar to a sit up but it’s very concise and you have to remember to have your hand reaching straight up and not out and I don’t always do it right.
- Side planks. Getting your form just right to lift yourself up on your side takes longer than the time it takes to hold it. I do this thing where I lift my arm in the air, as if I am feeling victorious for actually getting the position right but then I have to remember to keep that arm down and support myself as I hold the side plank
So there we are. I couldn’t do any of these moves when I started working out with Jeff almost nine years ago but I can do them now. I just don’t love doing some of them…and he knows that and he includes them in our workouts, whether I object in good humor or I stay silent. I know deep down that the not so favorites are all moves that make a difference in my coordination and conditioning and mobility and the more I do them, the more I will improve and heck, maybe they I will look back years from now and laugh at this list. For now, let’s hope that I haven’t just helped Jeff with our next workout plan.
I realize that it was only a matter of a few days that I took off of running so that I could let my hamstring heal but here I am, sharing my achievement with all of you.
I had walked quite a bit, both yesterday and earlier today and I felt that I was okay with a run, so long as I was smart about it. First move, I used the treadmill rather than run outside as I didn’t want to attempt a run on the hard pavement. Second, I made up my mind that if and when I felt any sense of discomfort, I was to press the stop button immediately. Third, I kept the pace nice and slow, increasing it by a notch every five minutes for the first 25 minutes and then going up and down every minute in the 10:30-11 minute mile pace. I was aware the entire time…watching out for any signs that the pace I was in, might have been a touch more than I could handle. It wasn’t.
As I hit the 5k mark, I knew I had it in me to go for more. Four miles is the max for my runs these days so I kept at it, all the while keeping that sense of awareness. I reached 4 miles and pressed stop, feeling like I could have still gone for more. To have run that entire distance without any discomfort, any tugging, any sharp pain…it felt like the very first run I took back in 2014. I’m not starting over though. I am taking today as a fresh start/a stepping stone, if you will. Moving forward and onward!
The Jerusalem Marathon 5k is a week from Friday and normally, I would be checking the weather, planning my outfit, spending way too much time thinking about what pace I am going to go for, visualizing how I am going to go from a very crowded starting line to make my way to the finish line in a certain time. But I am not doing any of those things.
Today is Monday and normally, I would be running today. Heck…a month ago, I had put together this fancy training plan that had me doing mile repeats on Monday that had me running paces I haven’t run in at least a year! I squashed that whole plan when I realized that I really don’t want to make this 5k a race. But back to my not running today…
I did a 40 minute elliptical workout instead…nothing too crazy but a good calorie burn and more important, a feel good activity. I am taking a few days off running to let my sore hamstring heal from whatever it is I did to it…a trail run/walk that had a lot of climb to it? Thinking it was okay to run the next day and a little more than a mile in of an easy paced run, feeling that tugging in the back of my right knee that I had a few months ago? Whatever it is, I am not going to run through the pain and if it means that I may not run until race day or a few days before, so be it. February was a pretty tough month for me physically and my intensity just wasn’t there. Today is March 6 and I am feeling a lot better and while I feel my intensity and motivation coming back, I know I can’t rush things.
My Strava app should be sending me notifications by now that my running has gone downhill over the past two months and I am not talking elevation here. The former me would be cringing, worrying about how I am not running as many miles or as many days in the week. The me that writes this, is not thinking about the numbers.
I am enjoying the feeling of running where I want, when I want, how I want and that might mean that I join the 100 kilometer running challenge and I don’t come close to 50. And when I am not running and I am doing the elliptical, I am enjoying the movement and the rush I get…it might not be the same exact feeling I get from running but it really is okay.
I recently posted about training for the destination 5k I have next month but as quickly as I wrote it, I felt a sense of regret and questioned my decision to ‘go all in with it.’ I got it in my head that after not pushing as hard with my running and even with my training, I wanted/needed to race this next 5k and see if I could beat my former paces. I started training with mile repeats and I put together my own training plan and I was all set. But I really wasn’t.
I want to run the 5k…that much I do know. I want to be at the starting line and feel that sense of excitement as I move my feet along the streets of Jerusalem and take in all that this run offers me, just as I have with my previous experiences. But I don’t want to race it.
My racing days are behind me. My running days are most definitely not. I want to sign up for races, show up and run them but not be all caught up with the numbers. I am not the runner I was when I started out nearly eight years ago. I want to continue running for as long as I possibly can but do it with a sense of appreciation and purpose, rather than an obsession or compulsion to get a certain time or surpass a certain pace. One of the things I loved about doing the Miami half with my brother was that we weren’t doing it for a time. I knew that it was going to be my last as I came to the conclusion that I really don’t enjoy running or training for that 13.1 mile distance. I was okay with that. I knew that I wasn’t going to run the entire distance and we would run/walk it or maybe even walk the whole thing. I was okay with that. It wasn’t a contest to beat my previous half times. There was no pressure. It was all about doing something I enjoy and sharing that experience with someone I love.
I won’t apologize for my shift in mindset. I don’t think of this as holding myself back. I am still doing what I love and enjoy….I’m just not getting all caught up with the numbers like I used to. Life is too short for me to not enjoy the experiences I have each time I go out for a run, whether it is at a racing event or on a solo run.
Over the past 24 hours or so, I have been finding myself on the receiving end of a few surprises. They weren’t surprises such as a gift or a visit from a loved one. They were more of a moment of ‘Aha…I am shocked.’
I flew back home yesterday from Florida, where I spent the past month visiting friends and family and enjoying the warmer weather. Sunday would normally be a good day for running since there aren’t appointments or meetings and I am more flexible with time. We left early yesterday morning to head to the airport so there was no time to get a run in there and by the time we got home and unpacked and got to the grocery store and visited with our kids and grandchildren, I had about an hour or so before we were meeting friends for dinner. I wavered back and forth between throwing on some running clothes and heading to the gym before it closed for the day but something told me that running a few hours after sitting on a plane for three hours wasn’t the best idea. So I didn’t run. And I didn’t do anything else activity wise. And I didn’t feel guilty or restless or doubtful of my decision. Surprise!
This morning, I was up at a truly ungodly hour and in spite of several attempts to close my eyes and go back to sleep, I waited until 5 to get dressed and head to the JCC to do my run. I hadn’t yet figured out my training plan for the next few weeks but I knew that mile repeats were the way to go since I am trying to get them done at the beginning of the week so I can do a trail run or hike with Jeff on Wednesday and do a speed interval run on Fridays when I don’t have as much time but need to get something in. Jeff had suggested that I can ease my way into the mile repeats by doing two of a certain pace on one day of the week and doing three rounds another day but I should bump up the pace each week in hopes of improving my overall pace and endurance. I got started on the treadmill with a five minute warmup and then got into my mile repeat, set at a 9:40 minute pace. It felt somewhat challenging but it went by quickly enough so that I was back into the second round in no time. As I finished that second round, I wondered if if I was really done with two rounds or if I had it in me to go for that third round. Two would be sufficient but three would really be what I needed to prepare me better for race day. So I kept going. I told myself I could stop in the middle if I really needed to but I forged ahead, knowing I wasn’t really going to be done until I had completed the entire third mile. And when I finished that third round, I felt great. Sweaty. Tired. But also energized and invigorated. Surprise!
With the Miami half marathon behind me, as well as a week long recovery, I am now putting my effort and energy into next month’s Jerusalem Marathon. I’ve done the 10k three times and I just didn’t want to do that again, no matter how much I love the course so I signed up for the 5k. It’s flat and it’s an easier distance to train for.
I don’t know that I will be able to set a PR (personal record) but I feel like I want to go for this. But going for this requires some work with increasing my pace and I haven’t done that kind of work in over a year. Work like mile repeats and speed intervals…seeing numbers on the treadmill that seem pretty foreign and fast to me.
Training officially starts this week. I did a somewhat easy 5k run yesterday to get back on track so to speak and then I did two rounds of mile repeats at a 9:50 minute mile pace. I used to be able to do that with no issue but not having pushed myself as hard with the pace over the last several months, it was challenging at times. But I got through it and it felt so good to go hard like that. I’ll increase the pace each week and incorporate a day of speed intervals every so often and we will see what happens, come race day.
As a part of the training plan I have been following for this past Sunday’s half marathon, I am in recovery mode throughout this week. This means walking on my usual running days and lighter strength work on my usual moderate to heavier strength days. No running this entire week. Nope…nada…no way and no how…until Sunday.
Mind you, I feel great. I was sore pretty much everywhere in my lower body in the minutes and hours following the half but then I woke up on Monday morning, feeling no aches or pains as I usually feel in the days after a big race. I felt as if I could have done a run that morning but I knew from past experience that it was way too soon. I had texted Jeff, sharing how great I felt and he said he knew I would and then I not so subtly asked if I could perhaps run on Friday instead of walk because I feel so good but of course, I trust the process of recovery. He answered, ‘good’ and that was that.
It’s hard to be limited with my activity when I do feel good and ready to resume things but I do understand and appreciate the process. However ‘fine’ I feel, I need this week to really allow my body to heal from running/walking 13 plus miles. And being that this is all a mind/body/spirit thing, I also need this week to process everything that happened on Sunday and give myself a chance to heal mentally and emotionally. There is so much that I saw and so much I heard in the hours before the race and during the race itself and as much as it was a very positive experience, I have some things I am still processing from a mental and emotional standpoint. Time does heal. As much as I want to run on Friday…easy or not easy paced…I will not be running because it’s not my time. I will run on Sunday when I have given myself that time to heal on every level and THEN I will be ready.
Euphoric. Exhausted. Blessed. Sore. Grateful. Taking stock. Appreciative. So many emotions felt as I crossed the finish line this morning, holding my brother’s hand and teary eyed as I took in everything that I was feeling. I didn’t sleep at all last night. I had set my alarm and also arranged for a wake up call yet I was still nervous about being awake at 3:20 AM to get ready. Of course, I didn’t have a sound sleep in the three or so hours before and I was wide awake by 2:45. So I was tired but also running on pure adrenaline, excited to do this half marathon on the streets of Miami and be a part of something big…something I haven’t experienced in a previous half.
I didn’t view this morning as a race. Granted, it was a race with someone coming in first and someone coming in last and several thousand people running or walking in between. But going into this, I knew that it wasn’t going to be about making a certain time or coming in a certain place. It wasn’t a competition or a contest. I was doing this with the attitude of letting things happen naturally and letting my brother lead the way with how we were going to get through things. We ran the first two miles straight and then switched to a walk for about a third of a mile and then went right back to running. We spent a good three or four more miles, running a good distance and then walking when we felt we needed some recovery. I felt ‘present’ the entire time…saying thank you to the police officers guarding traffic, calling out to my fellow team runners in yellow, laughing at the many signs held by spectators (a very pregnant woman holding a sign ‘you’re almost there and so am I.’ I refused to dwell about the discomfort in my glutes and feet, remembering how lucky I was to be doing this and who I was doing it for. Instead of focusing on the heat (74 degrees when we started out at 6:45 AM), I commented on how good the breeze felt when it came our way. I was able to push a young woman in a wheelchair briefly and I cheered on another young lady who was wheeling herself through the half.
This morning was all about throwing caution to the wind and allowing things to happen, rather than try to be in control. At about mile 6, I heard someone call out on a loudspeaker ‘who can do a push-up?’ With this being all about wanting to enjoy this experience, I called out ‘me!’ I got on the mat that was set up on the side of the road and did one push-up and after getting myself into a better position, I did another four before I got up and resumed our running. I know this is something I would never normally do, especially so out in the open where people can see me but it just seemed the thing to do at that moment.
As my brother and I came around the bend to the finish line, I got all teary eyed and thanked him for sharing this morning with me and giving me this opportunity. We held hands and together, we crossed the finish and hugged one another once the path was clear of passing runners. As we were handed our medals and then walked towards the tent for Team Lifeline, I thought about how this really didn’t seem like a race…yes, it was for all intents and purposes but it was an opportunity…a gift…an event where I felt that sense of excitement that isn’t simply about the medal or the rush of crossing the finish.
As I was taking an easy walk this morning around my parents’ neighborhood, I thought about my ‘why’ for this Sunday’s half marathon. I know that when I ran my first half marathon over six years ago, I did it because it was a ‘first’ for me…an accomplishment that I could have never imagined for myself. But then as I did my second and third and fourth half marathons, I don’t think I really had a ‘why.’
My ‘why’ for this Sunday is I am doing it for someone and for something other than me and the medal and the finish time. I have raised over $5000 on behalf of Chai Lifeline, an organization that provides support and resources to children and their families facing illness. I have raised money here and there over the years when I have run for charity but this race and this organization hits home as I have known too many friends and family touched by cancer. My life was touched by cancer for the first time when I watched my maternal grandmother battle and eventually succumb to breast cancer at the age of 60. I was 12 when she passed away and those 12 years were in no way, enough for us. I am doing this race for her.
I am doing this race for her two sisters who had breast cancer and for my paternal grandmother who passed away from lung cancer. I am doing this race for my classmate and for the friends I have lost to cancer and I am doing this race in honor of the friends who have battled and survived. I am doing this race, thankful that the cancer scares I have had, were just scares. I am doing this race, remembering the fear and panic I felt when our pediatrician sent my now 25 year old daughter to the pediatric cancer center to test her blood for leukemia and then feeling relieved that she was okay. I am doing this race for my niece, who was diagnosed at 2 with a rare blood disorder and who is giving back to Chai Lifeline this weekend as a volunteer. I am doing this race for the children and the families of Chai Lifeline who are true heroes. And I know that if and when I am at a certain point in the race where I feel tired or I get mentally stuck, I will picture the image I have on my fundraising page of those smiling faces and I will forge ahead to the finish, knowing why I am doing this.