staying creative : instagram weekend

My weekend at home (for my mom’s successful 5k!!!), via Instagram:

Clearly, a good time was had by all.

(Especially Mom! Congratulations on a job well done!!!)

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staying creative : mother’s day run

Well…I was planning on using this one as this week’s creative pic just because I love the colors so darn much…not to mention the subject matter (red velvet cake frozen yogurt!!!):

But then this morning…I took this one. And even though we both look like we’re high on something other than endorphins, it brings me so much joy every time I look at it that I can’t not use it as this week’s featured picture:

That right there is my mom…who couldn’t run two blocks just a few months ago…and ran four miles today. FOUR MILES! And we were only supposed to do three!

There are no words for how proud I am of her gumption, determination, and SUCCESS. She is one tough lady. We’re running a 5k together in June and somehow I doubt it will be our last…or our longest.

GO MOM GO! Happy Mother’s Day!

beka stays athletic : don’t hold back

Don't Hold Back - 8 x 10 Typographic Print
pinned here via here

Remember when I thought that running 3 miles and then finishing them off by running an 8 minute mile was cool?

Well…guess what?!

On Saturday I went to the gym with a plan: run 6 miles at a steady pace over mild hills (so that I’m not quite as shocked when I transition to outdoor running and the ground is not perpetually flat and electronically powered beneath me).

(That joke is always on me.)

Anyway…I started running.

It did not feel good.

It felt like the opposite of good.

Problem: I should have waited longer in between breakfast and running. I’m not one of those people who eats to fuel workouts…I actually have much better results on an empty stomach.

I toughed it out until mile 2.5, when I decided to pause the treadmill and head to the bathroom since I wasn’t sure whether I had to pee or throw up. Turns out it was the former (lucky for one and all). (And apparently the theme of today is Unwanted Personal Information Day. Apologies, Internet.)

I got back on the treadmill determined to at least finish the 6 miles I originally set out to run. It kept getting easier and easier as the miles passed and I kept feeling less and less like I was going to keel over in the middle of Planet Fitness.

The six mile mark came and went. I started walking to cool down. But then I thought a dangerous thought.

“I could probably keep going.”

And then I had to keep going. Because I’m crazy.

So I decided to bump the speed up to 8.0 and see what happened.

No worries, PF patrons beside me, it’s totally ok that I’m glaring angrily at the PAC 12 gymnastics championships for no apparent reason other than athletic motivation while Jay Z shouts into my eardrums and yours via my amped-up inspiration playlist and I’m sweating/panting uncontrollably. Nothing to see here.

Except for my new mile time: 7:30.

Stranger things have not happened.

I am really starting to be convinced that hard work for your body is better for your soul. Because – at the risk of sounding like something that has the potential to start trending on Pinterest – doing something that challenges you changes you.

Over the past few months I’ve felt a passion not just for committing, but for committing to being the absolute best version of me that I can be. Giving 100% all the time, no matter the circumstances. Being that person means I can’t cater to excuses or explanations, won’t be derailed by disappointments or discouragement, don’t leave well enough alone.

On Saturday, that meant not calling it a day at the gym when I knew I still had more left to give, even though I had “other things to do” and “wasn’t feeling my best” and “had a great workout already.”

Nope, nope, and nope. All of those factors are well and good. But only if you want to meet the minimum requirements.

And I don’t! I want to far exceed them!

Every time I make the decision to take the harder road, the one that asks the most of me, I change a little. I learn that good enough is never really good enough. I become someone who is confident in the knowledge that I can always give 100%, and that giving 100% is always better in the end.

I also become someone who laughs out loud and jumps up and down with arms raised in triumphant victory while stepping off the treadmill.

Which is what everyone else does, right?

beka stays athletic : a lucky run

I’ve done a lot of interesting things on St. Patrick’s Day.

And no, not the typical interesting things that happen on St. Patrick’s Day. These are interesting things that are not under the influence of alcohol.

Having spent a large percentage of my life as a competitive Irish dancer I’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in a variety of ways: dancing in parades, dancing on morning shows, dancing in supermarkets…the list goes on and on. But one thing I’ve never done on St. Patrick’s Day?

Go for an 8.5 mile run.

Go for an 8.5 mile run in 60 degree weather.

Go for an 8.5 mile run in 60 degree weather in ROCHESTER. (This phenomenon rarely happens in May, let alone March.)

It was a revelation.

I’d like to thank the sun for deciding to shine, Dierks Bentley for singing “Free and easy down the road I go” during my half way turn around point, and my pants for continually falling down – establishing the sentiment early on that there was no pride involved in this run. Which really helped facilitate my legs continuing to move when I felt like I was going slower than molasses in January. No shame.

On top of that, I also went to the public market, got a package I’d been waiting on, did my taxes, spent time with a friend while we were both being productive, made homemade Larabars, and talked to my parents on Skype.

I also avoided stepping directly in vomit from the stream of people outside my window who are clearly enjoying the festivities of the day. Luckily there are plastic bags attached to everyone’s railings for special moments like that.

If only I were kidding.

All in all, the luck of the Irish was upon me. What a great day!

beka stays athletic : it runs in the family

This just in:

The woman who brought you lessons in geography, politics, and coffee keeping is now taking on a new endeavor:

Running a 5k.

Seriously.

Let’s talk about this.

For as long as I can remember my mom and I have gone on walks together. It’s a tradition that was passed down by my mom’s mom, who I also remember going on lots of long walks with (when she was in her 80’s!). The assumption is that after dinner on a nice night the question “want to go for a walk?” will be raised and answered affirmatively.

(Now that I live 3 hours away and no longer go home for the summer, going on walks with my mom (and then going out for soft serve with my dad) is by far the thing I miss most about home.)

But in all of that walking there has never been any running. Until the past year or so, when my mom would run short stretches whenever she felt so inclined – during a walk, on her way to and from her car in the parking lot, etc. And when she did feel so inclined, she always reported back with positive feelings about the experience.

So the last time I was home, I floated an idea.

“You know, I think I’m going to come home to do a 5k in June. We could do it together!”

The idea did not float. It sank like a boulder.

“Pshhhh. Yeah, right!” was the response I received.

Then there was some coaxing, some trial running around the block, some training plans, some more coaxing – all covered by the assurance that we could always walk it if running didn’t pan out.

I came back to Rochester and left her in possession of an easy walk/run plan (walk a minute, run a minute, adding one run minute per week) and the power to do with it as she wished – no pressure either way.

A week later, she had ditched my plan.

She was already running for 30 minutes straight.

And had only fallen off the treadmill once!

Now, the 65 year old woman who had never run a mile in her life, who laughed at the idea of ever being able to run a 5k, is taunting me with threats that she’s out to beat my time. Walking isn’t even a consideration anymore. She’s going to run this and run it well.

I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m cut from that cloth.

(See you at the finish line, Mom. You’ll probably beat me to it!)

beka stays athletic : and stupid, part II

Wait

pinned here

{ Apparently…this is true. }

Foam rolling may have saved my life…but it also faked me out. I fell into it’s cylindrical trickery. It fooled me into thinking I was miraculously healed from my IT Band woes – like, take up your mat (or roller) and walk, healed. So, taking my cues from the bible story, I started walking and leaping and praising God! (All of you former Sunday Schoolers can chime in with the repeat, “walking and leaping and pra-aising God!” You know you want to.)

I thought, “This is great!”

I thought, “I feel great!”

I thought, “Why not run 9 miles?!”

So I did!

Which is why I’m currently sitting on the couch, not running 9 miles.

I’m totally playing the blame game with my foam roller. Poor little guy. He’s just trying to help and I ambush him with accusations.

The reality is that I was just stupid…again. Once I felt back to normal I started running again slowly. For a day. And then I just went back to working out like normal because I felt so good! And a few days later I was watching a marathon of great Food Network shows! And when 3 miles turned into 6 miles and 6 miles turned into 9 miles and I wanted 9 miles to turn into 12 miles but stopped because something didn’t feel quite right…that was dumb. Moderation is not always my strong point. And I’ve never been “injured” before so patience is not my strong point, either.

So now I’m banished to the land of simple strength training and DVD’s and waiting, waiting, impatiently waiting.

Dear IT Band, remember the good old days when we were friends? Let’s go back to that arrangement. I promise to treat you better this time around.

beka stays athletic : foam rolling saved my life

I started the day by reading this and this.

I did this workout this morning.

I smell good.

I made Stumptown coffee this morning (I ration it out like it’s gold…because it is).

I ate granola for breakfast. With some greek yogurt on the side. Just kidding…kind of.

I’m listening to Mike and Mike.

The sun is streaming in through two big windows behind me while I sit at my desk and blog.

AND I’M RUNNING AGAIN!

People…the only way this morning could be better would be if the Packers had played and won last night and were on their way to the Super Bowl…

Clearly, I’m still in Stage 4.

But back to the good news: running!

(And really, those who’ve known me for a solid decade, did you ever think you’d see me write that sentence? Mark that down as a great life change.)

As per the title of this post, foam rolling saved my life.

After a week and a half of taking time off and stretching with no change in how I felt I knew it was time to call for back up. So I talked to a bunch of people who are smarter than me and they all said the same thing: start foam rolling.

What is foam rolling, you (and I) ask?

Here’s my favorite explanation (from Running Times):

The foam roller is a firm foam log that is six inches in diameter. Use the roller against the muscle knots with your own body weight to generate the direct pressure. Imagine using a rolling pin to roll out lumps in bread dough. A foam roller is a good alternative to repetitive trips to the massage therapist. Your foam roller is always available and doesn’t accept tips! Bottom line: The foam roller is an inexpensive, yet highly effective way to treat and prevent the most common injuries seen in runners.

Perfect! So off to Target I went. I bought this foam roller, I watched this video, I went to bed and woke up feeling significantly better. And after just a few days of this routine I was completely back to normal! I couldn’t believe it worked so quickly!

And then on Saturday I basically plowed down the doors of Planet Fitness to jump on a treadmill and ran four miles. I wanted to run fourteen. For REAL. I felt better than ever!

Now, as much as I bemoaned being sidelined for a few weeks I’m actually really grateful that this little bump in the road occurred. First, because it made me realize how much I love running right from the get-go of this goal, before I forget and start complaining about how much I hate running. I used to hate running. And then after that I was ambivalent about running, even when I ran a half-marathon. But now, for whatever reason, I love running. It feels like freedom. And I’m glad I was reminded of that on Mile 20 instead of Mile 820.

Second, it made me so grateful for my health. I’ve always taken for granted the fact that I can bound up and down flights of stairs or go to the gym and use whatever equipment I want to use. I’ve never been physically limited before. Realizing that my health is a gift that can be hindered or taken at any time was a huge wake-up call. It’s not even like I was majorly injured, but it was just enough to make me see things from a new perspective. Now I want to run 1,000 miles this year not only because I love running and want to stay motivated and active, but because I CAN. I want to run 1,000 miles because I’m able to, and I want to make the most of that ability.

Instead of running like crazy now that I feel better I decided to stick to my normal schedule. I took Sunday off and did an at-home workout this morning (the one linked above…it was AWESOME!). But tomorrow I’ll be back on the road treadmill again…and can’t wait. CAN’T WAIT! (Which, every time I use that phrase, I’m reminded of this Bart Scott interview during last year’s playoffs. I swear, few moments in football have brought me such lasting joy…and it wasn’t even related to on-field action.)

While we’re chatting about health and fitness, this list of must-read health and fitness blogs is making me inordinately happy. It’s how I found this morning’s workout! New blogs = yet another reason why I love this morning.

What a great Monday.

beka stays athletic : and stupid

Pinned Imagepinned here via here

Anyone who has had the displeasure of my company this week knows that this is true.

I used to be a dancer. Part of that equation meant stretching on a regular basis. Once I stopped dancing I also stopped stretching on a regular basis. Which was dumb because since then I’ve taken up working out on a very regular basis…with no stretching to be seen before, during, or after said workouts.

Which is probably why running, jumping, and/or flights of stairs and I aren’t seeing eye to eye right now.

Rumor has it that my IT band is bearing the brunt of my bad decision making. It’s also the reason why I haven’t done any real workouts in almost a week…and why I’m such a joy to be around.

So my goal of running 1,000 miles this year has hit a bit of a bump in the road…but it’s FAR from over. Luckily it’s early enough that I still have time to catch up once I figure out how to get off the IT bandwagon. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Anyone have a one way ticket back to working form? Anyone?

beka stays authentic : you will still sleep tonight if you don’t read this [part II]

1. I’m craving coffee in the worst way right now. Not as a caffeinated entity, but just in all of it’s pure, freshly ground, good to the last drop glory. This probably has something to do with the fact that I’m obsessed with Finger Lakes’ Kranberry Kreme blend, but still, I seriously contemplated going to bed early because it would get me that much closer to waking up and making coffee.

2. I also contemplated going to bed early because I’m the kind of overtired that makes a person useless to the world. Literally: useless. Which may explain point number three…

3. I accidentally kicked my Nalgene bottle over tonight, spilling it’s contents onto the wood floors. Since my apartment is not unlike Pisa in that it leans significantly to the left, the waterfall began gaining momentum towards the wall where all of my electronics live. I responded by sitting there and watching the glug, glug, glug of flowing water for several moments before having the presence of mind to pick up the water bottle. Then, noticing the impending doom approaching my laptop/internet/hard drive/camera/printer, I did what any normal person would do.

I took off my pants. I took off my fleece pants so quickly you would have thought they were on fire and threw them and myself onto the floor to act as a barricade.

It was at this point that I started to wonder why a towel wouldn’t have afforded the same benefit with a less shameful result. Why this didn’t occur to me pre-stripping is a mystery only point number two can answer. And because I was a) wet, b) tired, and c) annoyed at the time I didn’t find this whole situation very amusing. But now that it’s just a few hours later I think it’s hysterical. I crack up every time I replay the moment when I decided that bolting out of my clothing was clearly the best answer to the problem at hand.

4. I’m going to Trader Joe’s in less than one week. I already have a list of a dozen items I can’t wait to bring home. Joy to the World.

5. 5 – as in the number of days until Christmas. This pains me. I need more time! I need more snow!

6. Today at the gym I was contemplative. I ran 6 ugly miles. They were ugly because I was SO not into them so they felt extra long and laborious. But that’s not the point. The point is that while I ran I looked around and saw many a female sweating it out on their workout machinery of choice. And I wondered, as I often do, what their ultimate goal was – to lose weight? to stay healthy? to be happy? And then I listened to conversations in the locker room – about Christmas cookies, how it’s not safe to bake them and keep them in the house, why it’s almost time to really buckle down for a new batch of weight loss resolutions. And then I wondered how much time we as a gender spend thinking about things like this – how we look in the mirror, how we look compared to the girl next to us in the mirror, how much weight we want to lose, how many calories are in our Christmas cookies, how many minutes on the elliptical equal how many Christmas cookies we want to eat?

And then I thought: what if we stopped? What if we stopped constantly (oh, constantly!) thinking about body image? Stopped degrading ourselves, torturing with comparisons, killing joy with calculations? What if we just stopped the insanity?

How much more brain space would we have for things that actually matter? Like being present in the moment, enjoying food and exercise as blessings and not punishments, realizing that life is bigger, better, more important than a number on a scale?

I am the guiltiest of the guilty. I need a change in my perspective. But those are just the thoughts I was thinking today. And I thought I’d share them with you too. Girls, what do you think? Have you ever been in this boat?

7. Along the same lines, I spent oodles of time pouring over this blog tonight. Andie’s story is filled with inspiration, honesty, reality, and – perhaps most importantly – kindness. It’s definitely worth stopping by and reading a few (thousand) wise words.

8. I’m going to bed now. (Which means only a few more hours until coffee!)

beka stays in rochester : hitting the streets

Pinned Image
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I love being outside. I always prefer outdoor seating at restaurants. I could walk around my neighborhood for hours without getting the slightest bit bored. Give me a camera to take along and the day is pretty much done. I’ll be out rolling around in the grass taking pictures of acorns until sunset.

But running outside? Yeah, I pretty much hate it.

This boggles my mind and frustrates me to no end. I enjoy running. I enjoy being outside. Therefore, one could logically conclude that A + B  = C. Except in my case A + B = I enjoy running inside and doing all other things outside.

I can think of three reasons for this conundrum. 1 – I like knowing the facts. I like knowing how far I ran, at what pace, for how long, and how many calories I shaved off in the process. This is highly control-freaky but I work best when I can see tangible results in all areas of life, workouts included. 2 – I like not having to worry about crossing streets/falling into potholes/tripping over trash…because we all know that lacking grace is one of my most developed spiritual gifts. The treadmill doesn’t throw anything unexpected in my way, and as someone prone to falling face first into the unexpected, I appreciate that. 3 – Let’s be honest. I can watch Sports Center and Giada at Home on the treadmill…and I appreciate that too.

So when the urge to throw on workout clothes and go for a run outside hit me last Sunday I took full advantage. I changed in the blink of an eye and headed out before I could change my mind. I listened to the Packers game until my phone decided it didn’t want to work and ran in silence the rest of the way. And then I remembered that I like running without audio distractions because I always end up praying. I ran in the dark sans phone/iPod almost every morning while working in Admissions and it was the best possible way to start every day. (A practice I was quick to forget once I left Admissions and selectively remembered only the waking up pre-dawn and running in the first 5 minutes of consciousness parts.)

On Sunday I ran down my street, turned onto East Ave, and went down to Main to see the flagpole-turned-Christmas-tree at the intersection before turning around and running back to my apartment.

It was just wonderful.

The sun was setting when I left and as daylight faded I got to see the city all aglow with Christmas decorations. I was so entertained by passing countless restaurants and stores and homes and people. And when I ran over the highway, with the sun sinking low and casting it’s last light over the city, I felt like I was in one of those scenes from a movie I’ve always wanted to be in. One with a girl living in a city who get a sudden burst of determination and goes out for a run against a breathtaking urban backdrop. Whenever I see a scene like that I always think, “I wish I could run in a place like that.”

Well it turns out I can! When I was running on Sunday I was (yet again) overwhelmed with gratitude for my little Rochester life. I’ve literally been given everything I wanted in a place to live and then some.

So with that in mind, along with incorporating more running back into my life (seriously, there’s a running revolution going on over here…quick calculation: I think I ran well over 25 miles this week – 8 on Friday alone!), I’m going to make a conscious effort to get off the treadmill and onto the street more often. It’s a good decision in all respects.