Thursday, June 27, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Finally getting into this whole throwback Thursday thing.

Check us out!  November 2008 - this was after Ashley's bridal shower.  Oh that was so long ago!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Race Report by Melanie

Since Jimmy's race reports are very technical and full of detail, I thought I would approach this one a little differently.  While my time wasn't any worse than my first 5K, I wasn't completely happy.  But it was definitely a mental battle.  From my timeline below, you can tell the mental monster ran this race with me.  Although I'm trying to be funny (and a bit sarcastic at times), I hope to take from my report that you can do it.  Even a bad run is a run.  Get out there and push yourself.  You may surprise yourself in the end!

Race: University of Mobile Ram Run 5K
Location: Oak Mountain State Park - Birmingham, Alabama

7:58 - Walking to the Start Line with Bob.  Feeling a little anxious for some reason.  Jim's dad was running a little behind to get baby girl so Ash was going to get a late start. 

7:59 - The race director says a prayer (a first for us but happily joined in) and then outlines the course.

7:59:30 - "Follow the markers down the hill onto the main road then back up the hill."

Ummm WHAT?  She said "hill"   At this moment, time stops as I remember the description of this race said "a mostly flat, shaded run around the lake."  I look and the lake is to my left.  I'm officially confused and freaked out.  I don't do hills well at all. 

8:00 - Gun sounds and we are off. 

8:01 - Note to self: don't wear dryfit pants that are too big.  They slide until you are wet enough to keep them up. 

8:05 - I hear "Hey Mel" and see Ash running up beside me.  Oh thank goodness. 

8:10 - Ash gets ahead of me and I watch her feet and try to stay in step with her.  Thinking this strategy could work.

8:15 - Realizing the "hill" from before was the dang mountainside.  Having to slow my pace...I don't feel confident running into the hill like Ash does.  I don't feel coordinated enough and could see myself tumbling down.  At least I would get to the bottom faster...

(note: time is now irrelevant to me) -

 - the lead female runner is coming up the hill on her way back.  She's about 50.  And amazingly fit.  She starts shouting at the runners she passes.  She yells at me - "You are amazing"  "Keep it up"  "Great job"  I barely choke out an audible "you too!"   She makes me feel good.  And she makes me want to be her.

- I see Jim running up the other side of the mountain.  He's so focused. 

- I hit the bottom of the hill/mountain/depths of hell and see Bob.  I almost cry.  He tells me to keep it up. 

-I'm really starting to feel sick.  I can't decide if Bobby shared his stomach virus from earlier in the week or if the mental battle was killing me.

-I finally see Ash make the turnaround.  She calls out to me. 

-I try to keep my eyes on her feet again as we start the incline back up.  She's a freaking beast.  Every time I looked up, she was running.  Everyone else between us had slowed to a walk but she was still in running position.

-Blur.  I don't remember much of the hill at this point.

-I can see a parking lot through the trees.  Hallelujah we are almost there. 

-Nope.  Not our parking lot.  I'm mentally yelling at Ash "turn!!" because I'm certain we are finished.  I don't dare look at my distance anymore.  I can't.

-I can feel someone coming up behind.  The elderly lady has gained on me.  And is now passing me.  I have officially hit rock bottom. 

-I watch the lady run/walk.  She's tough.  She's fighting.  I am suddenly her cheerleader.  I start to be philsophical (so a heat stroke was imminent) and decide that this race isn't a race against other people.  It is a race against myself.  I can stop it all.  I can jump right into that lake and cool off.  I can give up.  Or, I can get my hiney in gear and finish.  Who cares if I am first or last.  Carrying my body 3.1 miles is a challenge for me and me alone. 

- I look up to see my knight in shining armor except this time he was sweaty in running clothes.  Bob meets up to me (having already finished) and walks and runs the last 1/4 mile with me.  I picked up my run and ran to the finish line. 

8:46 - I finished.  I won.  I won because I could have stopped.  I could have stayed home.  I could have said no back in March when we started running.  But I didn't.  I conquered that dang mountain.  It wasn't a pretty battle but I won. 

And now some bragging moments....
So Jim placed first in his age group.   Bobby came in third.  And Ash second in her age group.  Go team!

I'm super proud of Bob.  And apparently the lady giving out the awards didn't realize they were engraved...but that's ok.  He's owning it.  It's definitely one-of-a-kind!

Monday, June 17, 2013


All four of us have started the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred workout DVD.  Jimmy and Ashley are a little ways into it.  Bob has completed a couple of days. I just started last night. 

We planned to go running after our Father's Day activities but a storm kept us inside.  I decided to do day 1.  I'm not going to lie, day 1 was hard.  I was not very flexible and going from situps on the ground to jumping jacks might have made me yell at the television.  When Jillian asked the audience "Are you feeling the burn?"  I was!  It burned! 

But what I learned from Jillian and her two assistants (a beginner instructor and a more advanced instructor) was that truly committing to that program for 30 days would definitely show some results.  I'm not in dire pain today but I do feel the burn in my calves and abs.  Jillian does a really good job of telling the audience that her system will work.  I believe her. 

If you try it, and I recommend that you do, here are some tips for preparing both mentally and physically:
  • Buy a set of weights.  The system calls for no specific weight so whatever feels comfortable.  Bob and I actually used water bottles until we buy our weights. 
  • Drink PLENTY of water beforehand.  I did not do this and I paid for it.  But trust me, this workout is intense so being properly hydrated is vitally important.
  • Wear shoes.  I did my day 1 barefooted.  I won't do that again.  I could not get proper traction for some of the moves.
  • Follow Jillian's instructions!  Follow her form but also listen to what she's saying.  It is hard but it will get easier.  Follow the modified instructor until you get the hang of some of the moves.  I followed her for all of the floor exercises.  But I felt good following the more advanced instructor for "butt kicks" and "jump rope."
  • Just do it.  Even if it is a "bad" workout, it is still a workout!  Trust me!  You will burn so many calories.  And the more you do it, the easier it will become. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Overcoming the Mental Monster

The past few weeks I have struggled significantly with my runs.  It wasn't the heat, my feet or legs, or any other physical cause.  It was all mental.  I mentally turned off the ability to run.  It is said that you must create a mental toughness.  Endurance is about 25% physical and 75% mental.  In the beginning, I did run for 60 seconds.  I was completely out of shape...physically.  But I wanted it.  I wanted to conquer the Couch to 5k.  I was mentally ready for the challenge.  And I flew through the program without repeating any weeks.

When I reached my first 5k and finished, I think something happened.  I am a very goal-driven person and when I reached that goal, the mental monster began knocking.  While my primary goal was to complete the 5k, I had to walk (more than I wanted) to achieve that goal.  I think when you feel like you failed (in some form or fashion), your mental handicap kicks in.  My brain began telling my body that it wasn't strong enough.  That I wasn't going to be able to run it. 

The mental monster had not only knocked on the door but had moved its stuff right on in.  I struggled with  my runs for the next few weeks.  I had encouragers and cheerleaders but nothing said (positive or negative) could conquer the monster.  The fight was mine alone. 

Last night though.  Last night's run was good.  I went back into the Couch to 5k program and started over.  I chose week 4 (3 and 4 minute runs).  Ashley is coming back from an injury and ran it with me.  I had my running partner and a running exercise I knew that I could do.  It was good.  I was hot and sweaty but I did the exercise and then I did an additional short run at the very end.  It felt good and normal.  When I got home, I wasn't kicking myself or exhausted.  It felt good like the old runs used to feel.  My tired muscles felt good because they did their job.  I could feel the monster packing its things.  It was moving out.

I can't say that one thing helped me turn the corner but a number of things.  And I don't think I completely conquered the monster.  I think it's going to be right outside waiting for right moment to come back in.  The key is to keep that door locked tight.  I know that physically I can run.  Now it is time to workout my mental muscles.  That mental toughness is what I need to acheive next.

Here are some tips that helped me:

Take pride in yourself
Some people won't call themselves a runner until they feel like they have achieved (maybe placing at a race or some other accolade).  But me.  I became a runner the second I decided I was doing this.  You change when you make the committment.  You are a runner!

Don't let your fears rule you
To quote Dune author Frank Herbert, "I must not fear.  Fear is the mind-killer."  And it is.  Don't compare yourself to other runners.  In our running nerd-herd, there are four individuals.  We all run at different paces, have different strides, prefer different shoes, etc.  Don't compare yourself and think of yourself as a failure if you aren't doing exactly what someone else is doing. 

Refocus and clean the slate
YES!  Set a new goal.  Get a new pair of shoes.  Find some new running tunes.  Do what you need to do to conquer the mental monster.  If the monster clouds your path, then change course. 

Surround Yourself with Cheerleaders
It is true that no one can make you overcome except you.  But having a good support system goes a long way.  Talk about running with people around you.  Draw motivation from them.  You may not even realize that you are inspiring them.

Find running partners.  You see each other overcome, move forward, achieve, struggle.  You see each other at your best (runner's high!) and your worst (literally...Alabama summers make for some gnarly sweaty people).

And the #1 Tip - Don't Give up!
Slow down.  Refocus.  Find your groove again.  But don't give up.  Don't let the mental monster exhaust you to the point of giving up.  Even if you can't run that whole mile right now, keep  moving.  Not stopping is the best fight.  Keep building those mental muscles with every step.