Power Words: From FAITH to COURAGE

A couple of years ago I started the tradition of picking a power word for the year. In fact, I started with STRENGTH and last year I selected FAITH.

My intent was to have more FAITH in my training and myself but I am still in awe on how much FAITH did play into 2014. It went way beyond my running and training and into my spiritual life in a deeper and more meaningful way. I never imagined that my FAITH in God would blossom and take a stronger foothold in my life. I never imagined I would start blogging more about my FAITH. I was always too afraid of venturing into potentially sensitive areas.

I am a Libra and a middle child so keeping the peace is a strong element of my personality. Don't stir up too much trouble, be accepting, and go with the flow. But sometimes I think we do need to stir up the good stuff and not all flows are good. That is why this year I was leaning towards selecting the power word COURAGE. My FAITH was blossoming, my STRENGTH as a woman, mother, runner had blossomed, but I still felt fear. I needed COURAGE.

But still I feared selecting that as my power word. I had doubts. So I went to the Lift Your Sole website to check out their brag bars. I know this sounds crazy but in 2013 I got a brag bar with the word STRENGTH on it. In 2014 I got a charm with the word FAITH. It seemed logical to pick out a charm that I can wear in 2015 and no, I didn't wear FAITH all year in 2014. Sometimes I opted for STRENGTH, some days I did need my FAITH, and some days I had no power word strung around my neck.

And what did I discover at Lift Your Sole? Not only did they have a brag bar that said COURAGE, it was on sale! If that isn't divine intervention at work, I don't know what is. It confirmed what I was doubting. I now had the FAITH that COURAGE was to be my power word for 2015.

So today I sit before you typing with COURAGE telling you my goals for 2015.

I am going to blog with more purpose. I want to get structured with daily themes (Motivational Mondays, Tuesdays Tunes, Friday Favorites). I am sticking with my Daily Gratitude but the Daily Affirmation will be replaced with a Daily Bible Verse. I don't feel I need to remind myself of my strengths anymore and that can always be tied into gratitude if I need a reminder.

I have the FAITH and STRENGTH I need. Now I just need the COURAGE to stand up and tell the world that I believe in God. That I believe He has a purpose for me in life. That I believe running and blogging is part of my purpose. That I believe He matched me perfectly with Toby. That I was meant to run for Down syndrome awareness and now, I need to stand up and have the COURAGE to tell the world I also run for God because I honestly believe without Him there is no way I would have been able to run 1,098 consecutive running days and over 5,000 streak miles.

But COURAGE is not just for my running. I will have the COURAGE to make my home a better
home. I will have the COURAGE to say things are not all bliss with dear hubby. I will have the COURAGE to say I have failed him. I will have the COURAGE to make things better, to continue to pray, to love unconditionally, and to give love even when my heart is hurting. I will have the COURAGE to raise darling daughter and to guide her along her own spiritual growth. I will have the COURAGE to stand up for what I believe in and the COURAGE to not give up when things are feel tough and perhaps impossible. I will remember my STRENGTH, I will keep my FAITH, and I will have COURAGE.

What is your power word for 2015?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful God has blessed me daily with my running streak.
Daily Bible Verse: Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." ~ 1 Peter 3:13-14


A Streakiversary!

Today is a very special day to me and as much as I tried to bring darling daughter up to my level of excitement she kindly told me, Mom, it is your day. It is special to you. And she is right.

I started my running streak on December 30, 2011 because I figured why wait until January 1, 2012? Why not just get running? And since then I have never regretted my choice. Today is the first day of year 4 and I am excited although due to timing and creepy noises under the house, I only had time for 2 miles. But I did wrap up year 3 with a BANG yesterday!

About a month ago I received a phone call from a gentleman at work. You see, I am the race director for the Run & Walk for the Whales, he saw the email about the race and virtual run, and wanted to know if he could run the course while he was here. He is getting married today by the way but I digress. Back to that first phone call. He was running 50 half marathons in 50 states but I found out yesterday some of those half's were actually marathons. Way to go dude!

Being a runner myself I couldn't step in his way. He suggested paying for a cyclist to guide him but I quickly volunteered myself, recruited a co-worker to join us for about 7 miles, and recruited dear hubby and darling daughter to be at the half marathon turn to cheer us on and have some nice orange slices. Everyone was saying OK and I even reached out to another coworker asking her to be at the end with a few office mates to make it special. Come on! The guy deserved a finish celebration of some sort even it is is a few coworkers saying "YAY!"

The weather was absolutely perfect and I couldn't have asked for better conditions. The gentleman, Roosevelt, was a bit not so well. He was battling the end of a cold and got a hamstring injury just recently on half marathon number 46. He was determined to finish his quest no matter what and I was determined to ensure he did. He said we could run ahead of him and not worry about his pace. My co-worker, Lauren, did run ahead but stopped at key mile markers to cheer for us coming and run along a bit more. I did some loops to stay running but not leave my new buddy behind.

At one point Lauren started walking with Roosevelt and I ran a bit ahead but come back when the story was out of earshot and then I had to stay beside them jogging slowly along. You see, Roosevelt was spurred to go on this mission of runnning a half marathon in every state and on all 7 continents two days before his brother died last Thanksgiving. It was his brother's request that Roosevelt do this to help him with his mourning. Roosevelt agreed it has helped and the level of gratitude from this gentleman was beyond comparison. Being in his presence on such a momunmental journey and taking in the beauty of the islands from new eyes was inspiring and just reminded me how much my spirit is meant to run and how running is allowing me to contact with amazing people, to live a richer life, and to make a difference in the way I feel I am meant to. I couldn't help but think of how I was running for Toby while escorting Roosevelt through #50 of his half marathons in every state. He truly was soaking in the journey and seeing the beauty in each and every place. He confessed he has learned a lot along the way since the first state on December 15, 2013. He was a casual runner before and jumped into that first half with running maybe 12 miles a week. He quickly learned the importance of quality shoes.

But he also learned what a lot of runners learn. The bigger lesson. The lesson about who we are, life, and what really mattters. He put it well when he said you do a lot of soul searching and reflection when you are alone for 3-4 hours running.

It was probably the longest I have ever run and chatted with someone. When I run with dear hubby we barely talk as we are focused on training, etc. This run was a run of support. The pace was slow for me but I enjoyed it. It was a good training run and it was nice to be able to run along and talk as much as our hearts wanted to. But it was also nice to have the moments of separation when we were each able to reflect on God's beauty, our journeys, and the wonders of life. I have no idea the full extent of things that went through Roosevelt's mind but when we were getting near the idea he said his mind was overflowing. I asked if it was all good thoughts and he said yes. Thank goodness!

As we neared the end I started texting updates back to work so my co-workers would be able to greet us. The first we bumped into was Lauren who said she would join us back at the finish when we parted at the half marathon turn where she had dear hubby to give her a ride back to the start. That was our plan and I am glad we stuck to it since she worked some magic back in the office making a finish sign for Roosevelt. And I am glad she was there at the end to talk since my co-workers took my breath away and I was teary eyed struggling to keep it together. The few people I hoped for at the finish was a swarm of support of co-workers, volunteers, and passengers waiting for the next whale watch. Everyone was cheering and the number of people that came up to Roosevelt at the end to shake his hand and tell him how inspirational he was still brings tears to my eyes. Seeing Roosevelt well up with tears pulled at my heartstrings more.

It was the perfect transition stages to our individual running journeys. Roosevelt is moving on to Phase 2: a half on each of the seven continents starting with Antarctica. I am moving onto year 4 of my running streak but I feel we will both forever carry the memories of yesterday in our hearts. As of yesterday, I have run 5,014 streak miles. As of today, I have 5,016 streak miles. I am blessed.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for those who supported me and Roosevelt.
Daily Affirmation: I am doing good work.


What has been going on?

Last Friday I felt awful. I could barely hold my head up at work and I really hoped it was going to be short lived since I was about to embark on 9 days off of work to be with darling daughter on her first week on winter break.

It wasn't short lived and the whole family was afflicted. Dear hubby spent three days in bed but darling and I buckled up our belts and foraged ahead to do what had to be done with errands and rehearsals for a Christmas performance.

I stuck to the basics and was literally in get ready for Christmas, do all that needs to be done, and try to get better. We ended up having a couple of slumber party nights with darling daughter and I parked on the couch bed watching Christmas movies and coughing our little hearts out. Good thing, we were slowly getting better each day and eventually I got Christmas cookies baked, reindeer food prepared, and the house cleaned for our Christmas celebrations. Yep, I like to party in a clean house. I even managed to clean the turkey and prepare it for Christmas dinner as dear hubby had to work. It seems the turkey roasting that I feel is the "Dad's job" has fallen on me for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and I must confess, I did well!

I am dreading going back to work and over 600 emails. Yep, I looked. I am going to miss darling like crazy and all I want to do is hug, kiss, and cuddle her until she is popping with craziness! So I better go and get my cuddles!

Happy Holidays!

Daily Gratitude: I am grateful I can still cuddle my darling like crazy!
Daily Affirmation: I am a good mom.


Friday Favorite: Finish Lines

This pretty much says it all......

I promise, my race recap is coming soon. Happy Friday!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for each finish line I am able to cross.
Daily Affirmation: My finish line is a new start line.


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

A common question I get asked after running a marathon is "How are your legs?". This really is a great question and I have my guidelines that I use to truly assess the effort I put forth on race day, my level of fitness, and my rate of recovery. With that being said, let's talk about delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.

If all goes well, right after the race I am not doing too bad at all. I love to finish without my legs already screaming although that has happened to me years ago. That was a tough race and I truly pushed my limits. But through ongoing training, my level of discomfort post-race has been decreasing and that is a good thing. But still, I tend to experience some DOMS.

The Honolulu Marathon was on Sunday. Monday morning I was a bit tight but got up early, ran a mile, and cycled some. I then spent the day walking around Waikiki until my legs wanted to scream. More exactly, an area above the outside of my right ankle but that is another story.

Come Tuesday, when I woke up I was very stiff and achy. My legs were tender and I knew I was in DOMS mode. The good news is I could still walk down stairs normally but my quads were letting me know they were aching.

What is DOMS?

The muscle soreness and aches you begin to feel 24-72 hours after exercise. If you are sore immediately, that is acute muscle soreness. The thought is that DOMS is triggered my tiny tears to your muscles that happened when you were exercising. Another theory is that accumulated calcium is leading to inflammation. Either could be true but I tend to lean towards the micro tears since that makes sense to me...not that calcium doesn't but the calcium theory seems close to the lactic acid theory of years ago that has been debunked. Whatever the cause, what you really need to know is what to do now.

How do I treat DOMS?

My treatment for muscle soreness leans towards active recovery, which makes sense since I run every day. But when my muscles are aching I run less and/or slower. I am not sprinting, running hills, or aiming for need distance milestones. Slow and easy wins the race. I also lean towards yoga and stretching since those feel good but be careful with stretching. Aggressive stretching can lead to more muscle tears so think gentle and calm. Next, I love sports massages and/or foam rollers. Again, gentle. It will hurt some on tender muscles but it should be a tolerable and perhaps soothing ache not painful. Give your muscles some love. I have never down an ice bath but some swear by that. It is just too much for me and I tend to avoid my hot Epsom baths at this time too. I go to them for mild soreness after a tough workout, not DOMS. And yes, rest. Get some extra sleep. This is prime healing time for your body. One thing I do not turn to is painkillers. I know some people do but I avoid taking any as much as possible. There are too many side effects and risks with regular painkiller use so I keep that for the days I really, really need it.

Is DOMS bad?

Not necessarily, it is a sign that you are working your body and yes, you will grow in strength. However, you can avoid DOMS by gradually building up your training program and not making sudden increases in speed, distance, or intensity of your training. Listen to your body. Although DOMS every now and then is part of an active life, too much muscle damage goes beyond DOMS to an injury. Take care of your body, rest, hydrate, and have many more years of happy running!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for yoga.
Daily Affirmation: I know my body.


Honolulu Marathon ~ quick update

I will post a full race report for later but for now know I now have my first wet and windy marathon under my belt.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for marathon #7
Daily Affirmation: I grow in strength every day.


Friday Favorites: huma chia energy gel

At one point or another when a runner chooses to run longer distances they will turn to some sort of fuel to ingest during their run. In my years of running long I have tried many options with some not being as clean and natural as I hoped. In fact, in the beginning I turned to more processed options since that was all I heard about.

So today I am going to tell you about one of my favorites - huma chia energy gel...blueberry to be exact.

Ironically, it was during a blogger gift exchange that I was introduced to this product. Prior to this I was using something natural but it just didn't go down well and was a wee bit chunky. That is not nice during a long run but I endured since I needed fuel and wanted something natural. In fact, I started alternating this fuel with applesauce to go to try to not have to swallow that chunk too much. It wasn't nice and the huma gels were a pleasant surprise. They tasted good AND they were smooth. No chunk. And great ingredients!

When I first "met" huma they had only a few flavors: strawberries, apple & cinnamon, mangoes, blueberries, and raspberries. Hopefully you can figure out what the first ingredient in each was. Yes, fruit puree. That made me smile! After that you have evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, filtered water, ground chia seeds, sea salt, perhaps citric acid and perhaps caffeine. Today I noticed they have a few more flavors on the list: lemonade, chocolate, and cafe mocha. These do not have the fruit purees.

Each does contain the chia seeds, which inspired me to read up some on chia seeds. They come from the desert plant, Salvia hispanica, and contain omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. Each gel packet is 100 calories with 1g of fat, 105-110 mg sodium, 25-50 mg of potassium, 21-25 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 14-15 g sugar, and 1 g protein.

Let's chat! What do you ingest on long runs?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that I was introduced to this gel. I just wish I could remember who gave it to me!
Daily Affirmation: I have a loving heart.


Tuesday Tunes!

Woo-hoo! 5 more sleeps until the Honolulu Marathon AND the new year is just around the corner. With that I have been structuring myself and my blogging...in case you haven't noticed. See, I LOVE plans and perhaps that is what I like about training. All those training plans! Okay, I may not love all the training runs but planning....that I can do!

So perhaps all of this blog planning will turn out like my training for races and sometimes it will happen and sometimes it won't but in all reality, I am hoping it will happen. To help keep me accountable I will tell you my plan. See this is completely like running! I tell you all of my running plans too!

The Blog Plan:
  • Monday Motivation
  • Tuesday Tunes
  • Random Wednesdays
  • Friday Favorites

Yes, my plan is to blog four days a week and Wednesdays are my free for all days when I can throw in those random posts I love to add. So today we are returning to something I started way back when in 2011 --- Tuesday Tunes!

The rekindling of this post series was sparked by a song I heard on the radio coming into work. My first thought was "I must Shazam this!" I wanted it on my run play list. It would be perfect! Okay, it has nothing to do about running but the message "shake it off" seems perfect when you are running 26.2 miles and doubts sink in. Just "shake it off!".

Can you guess today's song? Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. But should I be worried that the tag in Shazam doesn't have a Download on iTunes button? I will check later when I am sitting at my computer. I so want this song on race day which means....I better get working on it ASAP!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for mobile banking and check deposits!
Daily Affirmation: I will shake it off.


Monday Motivation: BELIEVE

"Stop doubting yourself, my friend, and BELIEVE!!"

Very wise words from a awesome lady and yes, Yolanda hit the nail right on the head when she posted this on the Life as a Running Mom facebook page. She knows me all too well! Those words have been circling around in my mind as BELIEVING and truly having FAITH was hard for me a few months ago at the Maui Marathon. I was primed and ready to run the race of my life but things changed. I have no regrets. I learned a lot along that journey and wouldn't change it for the world. Nope, I would not trade in that experience for my big goal. It helped shaped me into who I am right now.

Six more sleeps until the Honolulu Marathon and I am determined to keep the faith, to believe, and to not let negative thoughts take over. I know doubt will try to work its way in. It inevitably will when you are running 26.2 miles but I will recognize it for what it is and focus on all the blessings along my course of running this marathon and my life.

Do I still want to break a 4 hour marathon? Of course I do! But my training the past few weeks altered from this goal to running strong as I battled health hiccups. What is my race plan? To start smart and to listen to my body. I will check in on my pace to make sure I am  not running crazy. I will hydrate and fuel well and put the end time in higher hands. I will do my part, believe, and push myself when needed but I won't shed tears of disappointment when I see my finish time. I have found deeper meaning.

I am running my life's relay. I know I will break a 4 hour marathon one day. I have complete faith in that. I also know the journey is the most important part. The story means more than the time. I run for Toby. I run for Down syndrome awareness. I run for my daughter to show her women can run long and still be there for their families. I run to be a better me, a better mom, a better wife. I run for God and to honor Him. I run because it is exactly what my spirit is meant to do. I BELIEVE that without a doubt. I have FAITH good things will continue to come to me as long as I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and RUN.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for sweaters.
Daily Affirmation: I BELIEVE! I KNOW I CAN!


Friday Favorites: Henna

I am sure you have heard of henna before but let's get down and dirty. Henna is a flowering plant and the name is also used to refer to the dye that comes from the plant. It is often used for temporary tattoos but did you know it can be used to dye hair?

Years ago when darling daughter was just a little one I was interested in doing something different with my hair but I didn't want chemicals or nasty smells. A good friend suggested henna. Her good friend happens to be a hair expert and set us up with the right supplies (red henna) and my first henna treatment was done. By the way, it happened on the day I also experienced my first tsunami threat on Maui...after we knew all was clear of course.

That first day we were cautious and just left the henna on a bit and LOVED the results. The natural red in my hair now popped! It was just what I wanted to add some extra life to my look. Fast forward to today and I am still going back to henna on a regular basis and last night I did it myself. Eeeek! I have come accustomed to leaving the henna in for hours (I am talking 3) with a shower cap on my head and yes, you can find me gardening safely hidden in the backyard baking away. Last night I just did an hour in the house due to time constraints.

Grey to Copper!
My goal is a bit different these days. Yes, I want some extra pop to my hair but I also want to hide those silly greys that are popping out more and more over the years. The henna does the trick! Those greys become vibrant copper strands and I LOVE it. The best part is the dye slowly comes out over time. It doesn't leave any obvious, harsh dye lines that could be a further embarrassment. Just the greys start slowly showing up again and I like that because yes, sometimes I go quite awhile between grey hiding sessions.

Will henna work for you? Ask a professional but I can say this, I have hair color with natural red highlights and have been told that is why it works nicely on my hair so please, don't go trying it solo all by yourself until you have consulted a hair dresser. I really don't want to be responsible for any hair coloring mishaps that leave you in tears.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for henna!
Daily Affirmation: I am young at heart.


Should I Join a Gym?

With 2014 coming to a close I am already seeing a lot of talk about New Year's Resolutions. I also know this time of year marks an increase in joining gyms or going more often to the gym you are already a member of but...is it worth it?

I think this is a question we each need to ask ourselves and it isn't one size fits all. I was a long-term gym lover until things changed mid-2014. I got a new treadmill at home that had an adjustable incline and could be awesome for all of my runs...not just easier days. Before I had a treadmill at a constant incline and too many runs on that, or trying to do speed work etc., wasn't good for the hips. No one should always run uphill but I digress.

With it being approximately 6 months since I have gone to the gym - yikes! - I have been able to truly recognize some pro's and con's of gym memberships that can help you make your decision if this is a good fit for you.

  • It is a safe environment to exercise - If you are like me and tend to exercise way before the sun comes up, being able to run somewhere and feel safe is important. I opted for the gym versus dark roadways.
  • You can exercise in inclement weather - I know some of you may be trekking in snow and icy patches but for me, it may be an occasional torrential downpour. The gym can allow you a dry and temperate zone to run or do whatever you like to do!
  • The staff and other gym goers can be quite motivational and supportive - It is great working out with others either directly or indirectly. I miss the "Hi Erica!" and "Have a great day, Erica!" or "What did you run today, Erica?" that I got at the gym. Some days a little comment could make a HUGE difference.
  • Childcare may be available - This is cool when you are a running parent and I used this option almost weekly on Saturday's to get some running down without child distractions. Darling daughter loved the Kids' Club but be warned, it comes at a cost (very minimal) and time restrictions. And yes, some days they don't show. That was not cool but overall, it was a great add-on!
  • You have access to a variety of fitness machines and perhaps some group classes - I didn't go off the treadmill very often but it was nice to go to a different machine every now and then and yes, I tried one spin class. If I did this more often I may have reconsidered cancelling my membership.
  • You have access to water and other supplies just in case - There were a couple of times I forgot my gels or my headphones broke and it was nice to replace them on the spot and keep on plan. Plus darling daughter loved picking out a healthy snack post Kids' Club.

  • There is a monthly fee and childcare may have an additional fee - Honestly, at 24 hour Fitness my fee was about $30 a month so it wasn't extreme; however, that $30 a month can now go to darling daughter's horseback riding lessons.
  • You are limited to their hours and time constraints - Holiday hours and Kids' Club hours were my main limiting factors but in the past when I was on O'ahu machines had time limits too during the crowded hours. Just know the rules at the club you are looking into.
  • The fitness machine you want may already be all in use or out of service - There is nothing as annoying as wanting x-miles when you have x-minutes and you can't start running. But hey, you could go to another machine and do something else, right? Perhaps. With my training focus I wanted the run, nothing else. It depends on what your after. Fitness is fitness but for marathon training, I need running time.
  • You need to get there - The gym I went to was out of the way from my home to work but yet, for many years I made that detour before work. It has a small added cost of extra fuel and wear and tear on your car and does impact the environment. Yes, I try to drive as little as possible.
  • Changing room and showers may not be ideal or you have to wait - Fortunately, I ended up avoiding this by showering at work on most days but on the Saturday's with darling daughter I just went with the flow and waited my turn. She didn't want to spend the day with a sweaty mommy while running errands.
  • Potential for theft - This was a BIG issue at the gym I went to. Cars were broken into left and right and yes, my car was broken into once. It wasn't a nice experience and I am happy I don't need to park there anymore.
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my new treadmill and how it has changed my life.
Daily Affirmation: I find balance in my life.


Motivation Monday

It is the start of a new month and I know, sometimes we look at the previous month and are beyond stoked about how great it all went. Other times, we feel a little down and out. Perhaps an injury, illness, or work got in the way of what you wanted to achieve. But don't get down on yourself....it is a new month and "behold, I am doing a new thing!". It is time to start fresh --- don't look back. Look forward to the greatness in front of you this month.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for Christmas lights.
Daily Affirmation: I have wiped my slate clean for this month.