#NJNYtakesTX: Winding Down

January is coming to an end, which means so is our trip to San Antonio. I’ve had a really great time bonding with some teammates and learning a lot along the way. Without realizing it, I was getting into a rhythm at home planning what I had to do each day and I started to feel like I was going through the motions. I think getting away from every day life with work and whatever else to train has helped me to take a step back and enjoy the hard work that goes into what I’m trying to do. I know that going home means going back to work and every day things that require a bit more scheduling again, but I don’t think I’ll feel like I’m going through motions anymore, “fitting in” my run or gym time. Why did I feel like there was such a rush before just to get it done? Sometimes I need to remember to enjoy the process, and this trip was a great reminder.

At the same time, I’ve learned that the life of a full time runner is tough.  I mean, I am a full time runner in New Jersey too; it’s not like I switch to part time at home and do half the running, half the eating healthy, half the strength training, but I also have a part time job that keeps my mind off of running.  Something I’ve learned while here is that I like having that distraction.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been having a BLAST in San Antonio.  As I’ve said before, I appreciate the opportunity to train in a new, warm place, and I know it’s something that’s good for me and I would like to continue doing each year.  But non-training projects stop me from obsessing and dwelling.  I was way too excited to get my work schedule emailed to me last week so I could write it in my planner and start working on student questionnaires.  I’m also trying to take on an extra project.  Not many details yet, but we have been talking a lot about ways that NJNY can become more involved in our local running community.  Anyway, I know I can’t take on too much and training comes first, but it’s definitely nice to have something to work on.

That being said, we did come out here to put in some good hard work and that is pretty tiring.  Although we (or at least I) lack the energy to go on big Texas adventures every day, we have been taking advantage of the trip.  Quick recap: we took a mini road trip to Austin, ventured downtown and saw the Alamo and the River Walk (from what I was told before coming down here, the trip would not have been complete without it), I explored the natural bridge caverns when my brother came to visit from Houston, and we got to know some of the awesome local runners through the grand opening of We Run San Antonio running store. Most importantly, we did some serious quality training. Success.

On to the next adventure: 2014 Indoor Season. Get ready Seattle, we’re on our way.

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#NJNYtakesTX: Namaste

Hello 2014! Getting into yoga and working on my flexibility was one of my main New Year’s resolutions.  As I said in my New Year post, I was very self conscious about my lack of flexibility and yoga novice and started with some basic poses from a morning flow YouTube video.  Well, I have now taken the next step to becoming more serious about my resolution.  Ashley Higginson showed me a basic sequence that I worked on when we first got down here.  That was really good for just getting started and opening up a bit.  This was a big step for me because it was the first time I did any sort of yoga in front of other people besides those who may or may not have seen me through the sliding glass doors at my apartment.  Then Kate Grace found a class today at the Gold’s Gym we have been working out at while in San Antonio, and at the last minute I decided to join her.  Once the instructor suggested we get the other mats that didn’t squeak on the floor so much, it was really great.  The instructor was good with modeling the poses and also helping everyone get in the correct positions.  I skipped out on some poses like the head stand because it was my first time and because I have a workout tomorrow and a race in a couple weeks that I would rather not hurt myself for.  I was very proud of myself though…not only can I touch my toes, I can stand on my hands and have my legs straight! I can stand up straight on my right leg and hold my left leg out to the side by my toes! (kind of) I’ve got a good amount of work to do, but I feel a whole lot better about going to classes.

When I start things or try to get into something, I end up planning it in my routine, looking into the best way to make it a regular thing, and researching to the point where I seem a bit obsessive.  I started looking into yoga places at home and their hours and classes offered.  I found that I have plenty of options and I can’t wait to continue.  Through my obsessive research I also found something pretty cool and useful for someone who travels and finds themselves in need of a place to workout or a class to attend.  MindBody Connect is an app for android (maybe iPhone? I don’t know) that allows you to search specific businesses or by key word in whatever location, check out their schedules, and even register and pay in advance for classes.  Maybe I’m totally behind and everyone does this already, but I think it’s pretty cool and it will come in handy with a lot the traveling we do!

Maybe someday…
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#NJNYtakesTX: Keep Austin Weird

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A hop, skip, and a jump from San Antonio is the capital of Texas, live music, and Flotrack.  Saturday morning, we piled in the VW and took a mini road trip singing “Life is a Highway” to enjoy Austin.  Thanks to the hospitality of Flotrack’s Ryan and Mitch, it was a pretty awesome trip.  The day started with a long run around Town Lake, a loop that was the perfect long run distance and a soft surface.  The path was pretty crowded at the start of the run, which was a little difficult for a group of six to maneuver, but it’s nice to see a city that is so fit and active.  It was clear we were from out of town when we stripped down to sports bras to soak in the sun while most other people were aware that it was January and wore tights and long sleeves.

After the long run, I found out that breakfast tacos are my new favorite food. Torchy’s Tacos (tag line: Damn Good) is a food truck that I highly recommend if you get the chance. Then I went to a Whole Foods that had a live band playing inside. Yes, a live band in a grocery store. Amanda, Kate, and I also had the opportunity to meet up with a fellow bird, Sarah Stevens. It was nice to spend the afternoon with Sarah and her daughter taking some pictures and checking out S. Congress Street. Austin really is a unique place.

I’ve been in Texas for a week now and I feel like I’ve already gotten so much out of it. If you get the chance to escape the cold and have a change of pace in a new area, I highly recommend it.  I’m definitely focused when I’m at home; I know what I’m trying to do and what it takes.  But coming to a new place with the sole purpose of getting a solid month of serious, hard work in is refreshing.  Getting to travel and experience new cities is an added bonus that running has given me and I’m extremely grateful to have these opportunities.  More to come in the next three weeks.

#NJNYtakesTX: Hill Country

Finding hills in San Antonio is no problem at all. My brother lives in Houston and when I told him I would be training here he said everyone calls it hill country, but I took it with a grain of salt because I know that where he lives you can see for miles with absolutely no change in elevation. Relatively speaking, “hill country” didn’t hold much value. I’ve quickly learned that he (or his San Antonio sources) were correct. There are hills. I only wish there was a little less fog this morning so that we could have been rewarded for our climb to the top of a trail with a view.

Yesterday was a new experience for me.  After our pace run, I went for a massage at a neuromuscular pain and nutrition center and was worked on by Savitri Frizzell. I have never even seen a chiropractor before and this fall was my first time seeing a massage therapist.  It was a great session.  I took anatomy in high school, but studying social sciences for the past five years distanced me from knowledge of the muscles, nerves, and bones. I know the basics, but I feel like I should know more. I always appreciate it when whoever is working on my explains what is happening, and that is exactly what she did. What everything seems to boil down to is that my right leg is longer than my left, which throws everything off balance.  The way she was able to find areas in my legs and hips that were feeling tension, massage somewhere, and immediately release the tension was really awesome.  Needless to say, I learned a lot and I have some great exercises to add to my daily routine! And she has an office in New Jersey…

Some more running inspiration (Pinterest credit to Jenn Ennis aka @runnderlust):
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#NJNYtakesTexas: We Have Arrived!

After many traveling woes (canceled and delayed flights, missing bags, excessive turbulence) our whole contingent is finally here and settled in the Lone Star State.  First impressions of Texas: everything really is bigger, Mexican food is delicious, and there’s something about a truck. I guess there has to be some truth to the stereotypes.
1. The trip to the “grocery store” was very overwhelming for me. HEB Plus was like a combination of five different stores with groceries, clothes, appliances, electronics, and probably anything else you could imagine (but somehow different than Walmart).
2. The restaurant was a great choice. First dinner in Texas was done right with enchiladas.
3. There really are so many trucks! But not just your average truck, because everything is bigger here. We pulled up to a restaurant for dinner with our little VW Jetta between two monsters. I think I would have needed a boost just to get onto the step that is supposed to boost you into the truck.

Amanda and I were the last ones to arrive late last night, but this was no reason to forget why we are here.  This morning started with a cross training and core session at Gold’s Gym.  This place was huge and very luxurious! I wish I could say that since I wrote about my attempts to become a swimmer I have succeeded and can now swim a gazillion laps while rotary breathing like a pro, but I can’t. I really did practice, but I’m not confident enough in my swimming to use it as a legitimate, beneficial form of cross training. Today I stayed in my comfort zone and used my new aqua jogging belt, but I have not given up on swimming! I have my swim cap and goggles with me and I want to keep working on it. This was followed up by an afternoon trail run. Today was still a little chilly, but it certainly wasn’t 6° like new jersey and the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 60s and 70s!

Some motivation for the weeks to come from Kara Goucher:
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New Year, New Place, New Plans

Sunshine and 10 Gallon Hats
I spent a good part of last night in Newark Airport (delayed for hours) because I have the opportunity to take a break from the northeast winter to get in some warm weather training in San Antonio. Unfortunately we never left. After hanging out for five hours, the flight was canceled. We weren’t able to get on another one until Monday evening, and our bags were not pulled so they went out on the first flight to San Antonio this morning. One more weekend (without any of my good running clothes) training in the cold and snow.

Once we get out there, however, I am really looking forward to a solid month of training, uninhibited by snow, slush, and ice, and a chance to experience a new place. Big thanks to Rose Monday, Oiselle, and Coach Gag for making this all happen for us. Expect a few more posts this month as I report on my Texas adventures!

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Amanda and me ready to leave, and the snow that kept us in NJ

Some Resolutions
I don’t really have a tradition of coming up with a New Year’s resolution.  That’s not to say that don’t think there are things about myself that I could improve, I just usually don’t remember to think about it, and if I do, I get frustrated when I don’t stick to it.  This year I actually have been thinking about some things that I would like to do or work on in 2014, the New Year seems like a great way to start.

1. Become a Tea Drinkerimage
I have never liked tea. Iced or hot, even the smell of it usually makes me feel nauseous. At the same time, I have always wished I did like it. It seems like such a healthy soothing thing to have on cold winter nights before bed. Last year I had a miserable cold when I went home for winter break and my dad begged me to try his herbal tea and it was actually pretty good! A taste for coffee took some time for me to acquire at first too. So I’m starting with this vanilla sleepytime tea before bed and we’ll see where it goes!

2. Drink More Water
As a runner, I think it’s weird that I have to remind myself to drink water. Most of my friends’ water bottles are like an extra limb that they always have with them. I’m really good about it at meets or races, but I really should work on being hydrated all of the time.

3. Eat Different Veggies
I was super picky as a kid growing up and did not eat many things that were healthy for me without a fight. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to like vegetables a lot more, which is good, but I want to branch out from my typical corn and broccoli. I’ve started eating cauliflower more recently, but I want to try more. Any suggestions for veggie recipes are appreciated!

4. Flexibility
I’ve said it before, stretching is a new thing for me. I am incredibly inflexible. Running at the intensity that I am, I would definitely benefit from being more flexible. This goal is part of the reason for plan #5…

5. Get Into Yoga
This one I have been thinking about for years and for some reason never did it. Aside from increasing my flexibility, yoga will increase my core strength while hopefully relieving some stress and relaxing me. I’ve looked into some classes in my area, but there aren’t always beginner classes that fit my schedule and I have yet to get myself out the door. And maybe I’m a little self-conscious about my lack of flexibility. I decided to start small. You can do anything with the Internet. I found a short morning yoga routine on YouTube that I have been doing to get my day started. Maybe after some practice with these basic poses, I will have enough courage to get me to some classes.

6. Discipline
The mental ability to stick with all of these things. I think all of them, or at least most of them, go along with one another and really have to do with me taking steps to get to the next level as an athlete. Looking forward to what 2014 has to offer!