Music Monday: Pumping Blood

From getting pumped to lace up to squeezing out that final rep, music improves your workouts in several ways. Tempo is less important than whether you personally find the song to be motivational, so I’ll be sharing a wide variety of tunes that inspire me to move.

One positive of dealing with injuries that keep you from the activities that you love is that it teaches you to appreciate them when you’re able-bodied again. Last week I was struggling during the last mile of an aquathlon, my mental DJ was kind enough to cue up this song.

Hey heart on the road again
Moving on… forward

I remembered that a little over a month ago, I wasn’t able to run at all and how frustrating it is to be sidelined. And while I’m not as fast as I was a couple of years ago, I’ve dropped my time three weeks in a row.

The song Pumping Blood has so much energy, and the lyrics reminder you that your heart is working, you’re alive, and that’s a wonderful thing.

It’s your heart, it’s alive
It’s pumping blood
And the whole wide world is whistling

So, even as the mercury regularly tops 100 degrees out here in desert southwest, I’m grateful to be able to lace up my shoes and head out for a run.

I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

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Music Monday: Stay With You

From getting pumped to lace up to squeezing out that final rep, music improves your workouts in several ways. Tempo is less important than whether you personally find the song to be motivational, so I’ll be sharing a wide variety of tunes that inspire me to move.

One of the great things about running is the supportive community. I’ve met so many amazing people in running groups, at races, and even through blogging here. The feeling I get from this song reminds me of the joy and freedom I feel on a good run. The lyrics make me think of all of the good running buddies I’ve had over the years, and all of the problems we’ve hashed out on the roads.

Take my hand now
We’ll run forever
I can feel the storm inside you
I’ll stay with you

I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

The twenty that wasn’t on the road to Boston

A couple weekends ago, I woke up early, loaded my hydration belt, and headed out for a twenty miler. Even though I prefer shorter races, knowing this was probably my last twenty brought bittersweet feelings. I feel like I’ve accomplished what I wanted to at the marathon distance. It had taken me three attempts to make it to Boston, and I was looking forward to finishing my journey on Boylston Street.

After some horrendous training runs, things were looking up. I felt stronger on my first twenty than I had on some of the fifteen and sixteen milers. I had ran a fairly hilly half marathon in 1:50:37. I felt pretty good about my amended goal of finishing under 4 hours. Four under four. Nothing motivates like a good slogan 🙂

The temperature was supposed to reach the low nineties that day, but it was a crisp fifty-something when I started. I was moving at a steady, comfortable pace, enjoying the fresh air and the antics of the desert birds. I was almost five miles in when I felt a pain in my left calf. I ran for about twenty more steps, stopped to stretch and rub it, and tried again. It still hurt. I knew from experience that continuing to run could turn an irritation into a full-blown injury, so I decided to turn around and walk home.

For someone who’s been at this a while, five miles isn’t that long of a run. It is, however, a fairly long walk. My brain was going haywire. Would my leg heal in time to run the marathon? Would I have to run-walk it? Walk it? What was the cutoff time anyway? Was I asking for serious injury if I even tried? Damn, damn, DAMN! It seemed like any time I started making progress, BOOM, I smashed into some sort of obstacle or injury. Every time someone ran by I wanted to shout, “I’m a runner, too!

My body had betrayed me. I felt like a broken-down jalopy. One of the reasons I love running is that it makes me feel good about myself. Strong. Capable. Fit. But for the past year and half, running has often reminded me what of what I was no longer able to do. What do you do when your workout makes you feel worse?

It was a rare weekend with nothing on my calendar, so after I got home, I did what your average introvert with a pint of ice cream in the freezer would do: stayed inside, cried a bit, and made a serious dent in my DVR backlog. I also scoured the internet for advice about calf strains. Fortunately, this one wasn’t as painful as my last one and it didn’t hurt to walk. Note: There are two spoonfulls of ice cream left. I’m capable of practicing restraint.

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My goal: Be as healthy as a horse

I decided to try everything and the kitchen sink. My boyfriend’s parents brought over some arnica cream and an ice wrap they used on their horses. I used heat treatments. I wore a compression sleeve for a week (even to work). I bought rocking calf stretchers for home and for work. I got massages from Ross and my marathon stick. After a week of not running, I started run-walking. The muscle barked the first couple of times, but the next few were pain free! I continued to teach my cycle and Pump classes, because they didn’t hurt. Maybe, just maybe, I would be able to do this thing.

Monday night, I wanted to see if I could run 5 miles at a 9-minute pace. I was still holding out hope for that sub-4. The first quarter was on target, and then I noticed that I was getting faster. 8:45 pace, then 8:30, 8:15… Nothing crazy – when I’m healthy. I tried slowing down a little after each lap, but ended up accelerating again. After a mile and a half, I felt a twinge. Stop. Walk. I alternated walking and slow jogging for a couple of laps, and called it a night. It didn’t feel awful, but it didn’t feel right, either.

Some people had given me advice not to run at all until the marathon, but I thought running 26.2 miles on an injured leg after three weeks of nothing didn’t sound wise. I was hoping that these test runs would give me some assurance. Maybe I was the foolish one.

Yesterday, my leg felt slightly pulled. It feels better today, but I’m nervous. If I can’t handle 1.5 miles at a moderate pace, how in the hell am I going to run a marathon? If it were any race other than Boston, I’d bow out and pick a race later in the year. But I want this. I earned this entry, and I honestly don’t want to try and qualify again. That unicorn medal will be mine.

So, I am going. I have a new, blue sparkle skirt for the occasion. My boyfriend’s parents will be my dedicated sherpas. I am going to try and run this thing, or at least run-walk it. Still, I can’t help but feel like a fraud. Does a hobbler belong at an event that celebrates excellence?

But Boston is so much more than a race. Today is the two-year anniversary of the day so many people lost their lives and limbs. This is the place where Katherine (registered as K.V.) Switzer kept on running, even though a race official tried to pull her off the course when women weren’t allowed to race. She said, “I knew, if I quit nobody would believe that women had the capacity to run 26 plus miles.” Thousands of women gratefully follow in her footsteps every year.

The city. The history. The crowd support. For 118 years, people have come Boston to test their mettle, and now it’s my turn.

I am humbled. I am proud. I am scared. I am persistent. I am a runner.

Music Monday: Closer To The Edge

From getting pumped to lace up to squeezing out that final rep, music improves your workouts in several ways. Tempo is less important than whether you personally find the song to be motivational, so I’ll be sharing a wide variety of tunes that inspire me to move.

One of the reasons I love to train is to challenge myself and ultimately improve. There’s a lot of struggle involved, because change doesn’t come easy. Then there are those rare, almost transcendent moments, where it all comes together. You are stronger, faster, lighter. You even feel like a different person.

This song captures that feeling for me. The mood is euphoric, and the lyrics inspire me to keep pushing. Can we ever truly become the ultimate versions of ourselves? I don’t know, but we can get closer to the edge.

I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

Music Monday: Spin the Black Circle

From getting pumped to lace up to squeezing out that final rep, music improves your workouts in several ways. Tempo is less important than whether you personally find the song to be motivational, so I’ll be sharing a wide variety of tunes that inspire me to move.

I teach a couple of indoor cycling classes per week, but it’s been a while since I’ve been on a real bike. Ross and I battled the hills, strong winds, and limited oxygen that defines cycling in Flagstaff. When I finally felt like I was finding my groove, Ross started yelling “Spin! Spin! You can go faster than that!” And you know what? I could.

As he continued to tell me to spin, this song popped into my head. It’s about listening to a record, but since a bike tire is also a black circle, I tapped into the relentless energy of the music and Eddie Vedder’s insistence that I

spin, spin…spin the black circle
spin, spin…spin the black, spin the black…
spin, spin…spin the black circle

After 1100 feet of elevation game, it was time to spin down the hill. Weeee!

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I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

Music Monday: Ready To Go

From getting pumped to lace up to squeezing out that final rep, music improves your workouts in several ways. Tempo is less important than whether you personally find the song to be motivational, so I’ll be sharing a wide variety of tunes that inspire me to move.

Some days, you just don’t feel like moving. The couch is comfier than the athletic shoes, and it’s too late/early/hot/cold/humid/whatever anyway. While sometimes it can be physically (and mentally) beneficial to skip a workout, most of the time it’s best to just push through and do it. This is one of my go-to songs to get in the mood to move.

It’s a crack, I’m back yeah standing
On the rooftops having it
Baby I’m ready to go
I’m back and ready to go
From the rooftops shout it out, shout it out

The first step out the door is the hardest, but that last step when you finish feels amazing. Go you!

WARNING: This video gives me a little motion sickness 🙂

I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

Music Monday: Bleed It Out

From getting pumped to lace up to squeezing out that final rep, music improves your workouts in several ways. Tempo is less important than whether you personally find the song to be motivational, so I’ll be sharing a wide variety of tunes that inspire me to move.

With the exception of marathons, I don’t race with headphones. My mental DJ keeps me entertained with random choices, but as I approach the finish line, I’ll often put in a request for this one.

I bleed it out
I’ve opened up these scars
I’ll make you face this
I pulled myself so far
I’ll make you face this now

There are few things that feel as awesome – and horrible – as laying it all on the line in competition. I connect with the struggle in the vocals, and the intensity helps me squeeze out every last bit of effort.

I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

Music Monday: Ten Seconds Before Sunrise

I am stealing an idea from my blogger friend Jenna and trying out a Music Monday feature. She’s a fiction writer who highlights songs that inspire her creatively, and I’m going to share songs that motivate me to move. Music improves your workouts in several ways, and song tempo is less important than whether you personally find it to be motivational.

I’m still in marathon mode and favoring trancy music for my long runs. It’s easy to start too fast, burn through your glycogen stores, and smash head first into the famed Wall.

I might be overly influenced by the song title, but this has the feel of a fresh morning and all of the possibilities it brings. It makes me want run smoothly and relax my body while taking in the surroundings. There are no lyrics, so my mind wanders freely, which is one of the joys of lacing up.

I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

Music Monday: Walk

I am stealing an idea from my blogger friend Jenna and trying out a Music Monday feature. She’s a fiction writer who highlights songs that inspire her creatively, and I’m going to share songs that motivate me to move. Music improves your workouts in several ways, and song tempo is less important than whether you personally find it to be motivational.

I feel like I’ve arrived late to the Foo Fighters party. I’d known of them for years, was familiar with a couple songs, but didn’t really listen much. Lately it seems like I keep hearing their music, and I am loving it!

Whether we are just starting our fitness journeys, or have been working out for years, we all hit those patches where we feel like we’re not as strong, fast, and fit as we were. Injury, life circumstances, or even boredom derail us from out paths, and it’s easy to give into discouragement. I feel like I’m in the thick of it.

My takeaway from this song is that we all face setbacks: what are we going to do about them?

I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?

When he practically shouts

I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I’m on my knees
I never wanna die
I’m dancing on my grave
I’m running through the fire

I just want to get out there and go! Speaking of which, it’s time to run 🙂

I’m always interested to hear what you think and what songs motivate you personally.

Sedona Half Marathon

Building my mileage on my weekend long runs has been a challenge this go-round. I’ve been running alone, and my body has rebelled a couple of miles before the end of each one. I hadn’t done a race since December, and I missed the excitement and camaraderie of competitive events. The Sedona course is known for its challenging profile (1000+ feet of elevation gain) as much as its beauty, and I thought it would be a nice addition to my Boston Marathon buildup. My boyfriend Ross would be racing as well, and he makes every run more enjoyable.

wpid-20150131_073604.jpgThe heavy rain the day before had damaged enough of the trail section of the marathon course that the organizers called it off, and the runners were given the option to run the half. The shorter courses were completely paved and would be held as planned.

When we left Flagstaff that morning, we were relieved to see that the rain had stopped. We fueled up the car, stopped at McDonald’s to fuel up Ross, and hit the road. We grooved to a cheerful, catchy tune called “Shantantitty Town” on the way down. We’d heard it several times before, but only just realized that it was about a whorehouse where one of the visitors finds himself “all freckled and speckled.”

We parked downtown and waited for one of the race shuttles to take us to the starting line. We waited and waited… and arrived at the race site with about fifteen minutes to spare. We managed to take care of our pre-race business, check our bags, and take a few starting line pictures before we were sent off. The lingering clouds against the backdrop of the red rocks were spectacular.

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While it was cool at the start, the sun shone warm, and we shed our warm layers before mile two. Luckily, Ross’s shorts had large pockets, and he kindly played pack mule for both of us. I was afraid that we’d get hot, but we stayed pretty comfortable throughout the race.

A few miles in, we were passed by a wiry guy in a Flagstaff singlet. The way he was running, I was surprised that he’d ever been behind us. Then we were passed by more and more people. I mean, it happens, but this seemed like an extreme number. Not that much later, we saw wiry guy running back the other way and realized that he was doing the 10K (they started after us, and I think he won). I decided to pretend that every person who passed us up until the 10K turnaround was doing the shorter race.

wpid-20150131_092803.jpgThe course was almost never flat, and we ran conservatively because of it. When we saw event photographers, we’d hold hands and make silly faces. The aid stations were well-stocked and just frequent enough. There were a decent amount of spectators for a smallish race. We waved at a family and their inert dog, and saw a guy in a green full-body suit. A couple of girls in sparkle skirts and shirts with It’s My/Her 21st Birthday! on the back passed us. They weren’t doing the 10K. The course was an out-and-back, and we started to see the male leaders. Then the female leaders. Ross kept count for about ten of them.

At the turnaround, “Total  Eclipse of the Heart” knocked Shantantitty Town out of my head for about a mile (Turn around…). We still felt pretty good physically and were now facing a stunning rock formation. It was one of those views that would have stopped me in my tracks if 1) I hadn’t been running a race and 2) I wasn’t going to be running toward it for over two miles. I wished that I hadn’t worn my trail shoes. The Half course was completely paved, and I longed for some extra cushioning on the downhills. The inert dog must have summoned the strength to move a few feet only to collapse again.

wpid-20150131_113555.jpgThe eleventh mile was steep. I felt the miles, but also felt like I could push the rest of the race. Ross wasn’t sure, but he tried to hang. This same woman kept passing me and taking walk breaks, during which I overtook her. I just wanted one of us to take the lead and be done with it! I pulled away from Ross in the last mile and kept testing my legs. I felt that old, familiar burn in my lungs and embraced it. I was happy that I was feeling strong, because the final miles of my recent long training runs had devolved into shuffles. I finally left the walk-run lady behind, and turned toward the finish line. There were a couple women ahead of me, and I tried to catch them. I passed one, but couldn’t overtake the other. I finished in 2:01:47, which I was happy with considering the course and my current fitness level. Ross crossed the line eighteen seconds later. It was the only time I’d ever beaten him in a race, and it will probably never happen again.

Once we stopped moving, our sweaty bodies quickly grew chilly again. We grabbed some post-race snacks, chatted with a few friends, and decided to take shuttle back. We waited and waited… Shuttle frequency is my only real complaint about this race. Later we found out that Ross was somehow listed as a 99-year-old, and ended up winning his age group. In his words, “It was the only way I was going win an award.” They mailed it.

Between the views, weather, and being able to share the experience with my sweetie, this race goes down as one of my favorite running memories, and I plan on doing it again.

Race data: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/688216929