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    I'm a 20-something, recently married, runner who recently moved to New York City. Questions? Email therunnerwife (at) gmail (dot) com!

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Definitions

First of all, I hope you’re all off to the start of a great week! I had the most wonderful time in the Hamptons last week/weekend and I actually have this week off too. I’m flying to Portland, Oregon to see family on Tuesday night so I’ve got two days to regroup, relax and catch up on everything I missed in the blog world while I was on the beach! At the top of my list was:

A tasty RAW wild rice recipe from the incomparable Gena

An awesome cross training workout compliments of sweet Melissa

A sad farewell to one of my favorite blogs

So much happened while I unplugged, but I love having some time today to ponder such things as raw rice, the elliptical machine and the reasons we blog.

The last point has made me think a great deal and it’s something I want to expand on for just a few minutes. I was sitting here reading and thinking I should have lunch soon (at 3:30pm). I then got nervous because I didn’t know what I wanted, and worse, why I couldn’t pinpoint a food. I wandered into the kitchen, thinking “what if I wait too long and I’m not hungry when it’s dinner time?” and “what if I just snack on some granola, or cheese, or a protein bar?” I could feel myself winding up tighter and tighter. I didn’t want to eat because I haven’t exercised today. I was ashamed that I haven’t done this week’s training run. And then, a little voice spoke up in my mind. Why on earth should I be ashamed? What is my true motivation for running? And why do I feel compelled to race?

I’m going to say something that I’d never let myself acknowledge until about 20 minutes ago. And it’s still rocking my world. I run to define myself. I’ve spent my whole life trying to fit in, to be part of a group. I’ve defined myself by what I do – I read, I run, I overeat, I study and get great grades. My entire ‘About’ page is a testament to my unquenchable thirst for a definition of who I am. Everything I do is to further define myself:

I run to…be part of the running world. I want to BE a runner because it is admirable and “good” and, I’ve always secretly hoped, will make me thin and desirable. I run to lose weight so I’ll accept myself more. I set time goals because I hope they’ll motivate me to eat better, weigh less and, again, make me thin and desirable.

I’ve been so afraid to lose my runner label because then what would I be? If I wasn’t a runner, I’d be out of shape, lazy, boring, average. Why do I have to be one or the other? Why can’t I just be a person? Why do I have to fit into some group? I have to stop running from the labels I had as a child – fat, nerd, geek, ugly. I’m not those things anymore. But I’m also not any one thing either. I’m no longer going to define myself. Instead, I’m just going to embrace all the things I love. These things bring me joy, but only because they make me smile right now. Not because they make me who I am.

I love running on a cool, crisp autumn day. I love the crunch of leaves under my shoes.

I love my husband, and his unfailing faith in me, and the Yankees.

I love turtlenecks because they make me feel cozy and comfortable.

I love hot apple cider, but am scared to make my own and fail.

I love listening to the same songs over and over…and over and over.

I love my eyes. Even though I need to lean about 4 inches from the mirror to see them, I love their color and depth.

I love reading books for hours at a time. There’s something sacred about the power of the written word, even if it’s in the form of a cheesy vampire story.

I love all these things, but they do not define me. I am not a runner, a skinny chick, a fat kid, a nerd, a failure or any other label out there. I am me. I am constantly evolving, learning, falling, failing, succeeding and, most importantly, loving.

What things do you love? Do you truly love them? Or do you embrace them because you feel you ought to, or that they make you who you are?

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Habit Making vs. Habit Breaking

I’ve kept a food log pretty consistently for the past 4 years. It’s taken me down 20 pounds and back up almost as many. This boomerang trend proves I’ve developed some bad habits.

1. To lose the weight in 2006/07, I exercised compulsively and limited myself to 1200 nutrient-free calories per day. Talk about a sucker punch to my system! As I lost weight, my skin became dull, my hair was brittle and thin, and I was miserable.

2. I was weighing myself multiple times each day, weighing my food, and altering my meals to immediately affect the number on the scale.

3. I became overly sensitive about my meals and food choices. No way could you have a bite of my dinner! I’d carefully calculated those calories and they were mine!

4. And you better have gotten out of my way when it was dessert time. That ice cream/dark chocolate/bowl of trail mix may be 600 calories, but it was mine!! I’d allotted those calories and didn’t I deserve one enjoyable food? Except I wasn’t even enjoying dessert anymore. Scoops of ice cream were devoured in seconds so no one would notice how much I’d had, or ask for a bite (heaven forbid!).

When I started regaining weight, each and every binge was documented. At first, I got in the habit of beating myself up for my ‘failures’ every day. Then I started developing some healthier habits. I began reading other blogs, experimenting with healthier food choices, tried my first green monster and even got a juicer for my birthday!

Even though I haven’t lost any of the weight I regained last spring, my weight has been steady for about a year and I think it’s time to start tackling one of the few bad habits that remains from the beginning of my food journaling days: TOO MUCH DESSERT!

I’ve noticed that, like many people, my munchy time is after dinner. Whether I’m watching a movie, studying, or chatting on the phone, I like having a snack. And there’s only one thing I love more than snacks – dessert! Dessert is this perfect, planned excuse to snack on sweet, decadent treats. But do I really need to have dessert every day? Rather than something I’m entitled to, shouldn’t I see dessert as a true treat?

When reviewing my food log for the past two months, I saw I was eating progressively smaller (and certainly more hurried) dinners, just to get to dessert. That’s no way to live! I’m finally learning to make good dinners so I should be enjoying those too!

So, for the next 14 days, I’m going to pass on dessert in honor of appreciating what should be the last real meal of the day. And I’m going to keep logging my food to see if any changes occur naturally. Will I crave sweeter foods throughout the day? Will I lose my sweet tooth? At the very least, I’m hoping I’ll eat dessert a little more mindfully when I do reintroduce it. We’ll see!

Do you always eat dessert? If so, why?

We Make Plans…

So, I ran in my new kicks a few times and decided it was time to start formulating a plan for my goal – a new half marathon PR. When I started plotting out my schedule, I talked to several other runners about training plans, race choices, and so on. As far as which race I would run, I had some pretty tough restrictions:

1. The race must be in October or November this year. I’d prefer to sign up for two, in case the first is a bust.
2. The race must be relatively local.
3. It must be on a Sunday, and allow day-of packet pick-up. I’ll have class on Saturdays so I can’t run races that require Saturday pick-up.
4. It must be a relatively flat course. Let’s face it. Shooting for a PR while climbing Everest is just sick. Give me flat and fast, please!

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that these limitations would be, well, limiting. At this point, I’ve decided to sign up for the Staten Island Half Marathon. It’s not particularly flat, but it does satisfy all my other requirements. Ah me, ah my. I suppose I should see Staten Island one of these days anyway, right? (Side note: I can’t believe how many NYers have never seen Staten Island. Ever. Totally blows my mind.)

Okay, race chosen. Now for a training plan. Lindsay is currently training for a full marathon, just a small stepping stone for her journey to a full Ironman. She said she was using the FIRST marathon training plan, which only requires three runs each week. A PR based on only three days of running/week? Yes please! I promptly took the half marathon plan, chopped out a few weeks to make it fit into the remaining weeks between now and 10.10.10 (love it!) and printed about a hundred copies to keep in every nook and cranny of my apartment, office and purses. No way I can lose motivation that way!

The plan I’ve created follows the FIRST method, which utilizes one interval/speed run, one tempo run, and one long run each week. I also do cross training 2-3 times each week and have one rest day. Oddly, the rest day is the day before my long run, rather than the day after. At first I was concerned about hopping on an elliptical machine right after a long run, but I really love feeling fresh to run long and having a reason to get moving the day after logging the big miles.

Well, now I’ve got the kicks, the date, and the plan. Nothing can go wrong right?

Radio Silence

After I volunteered last Sunday, I recommitted to getting some non-running cardio back into my life. I’d been so pleased with the running I’d done before last weekend, but I finally had to admit that my ankle was still bothering me. I got treated three times at work last week and abstained from the 5M race this Sunday in accordance with my doctor’s wishes and I honestly can’t believe how much better I’m feeling. After the first treatment, we were both feeling pretty confident that my issue was muscle-related, rather than a stress reaction or stress fracture. I had aggressive treatment the next day and again on Friday, when my leg was a little less sensitive to the touch. To keep myself from going completely nuts, I’ve been spending lots of time on the elliptical machines and bikes, but I’ve missed my old friend, running. I’m sure you could tell given the radio silence around these parts.

Well, I finally ran again today (probably why I’m inspired to blog, of course). I’ve spent the day at The Huz’s office in New Jersey and I went to his gym to reunite with the treatmill. Oh how I miss the vast expanses of suburban gyms! Rows and rows of shiny cardio machines and a huge, open free weight area beckoned to me. Not wanting to push myself too far, I opted for a slow and steady 5 miles on the treadmill and had a good stretch after. The good news, I don’t feel like I’ve lost much fitness. The bad news, I’ve definitely added a little extra padding the last few weeks, and I could feel it while I ran. Oof!

I’m not going to exhaust myself over the weight though, because I know it’ll fall off as I get back into race mode. I haven’t discussed my 2010 goals lately, but one has been on my mind: New 1/2 Marathon PR! I’m crafting my training plan now and think I’ll be shooting for two different halves. One in September and one in October. That way I’m not putting all my eggs in one, late-Fall/early-Winter basket.

Here’s hoping I can get back into gear with relative ease. You’ll know if you see me around the blog world 😉

Not At All A-Muse-ing

All the great writers have muses. From Shakespeare to Bono, everyone has needed inspiration from someone else at some point. This week, I’ve learned my muse is exercise. I realize this shouldn’t really be a surprise, but somehow I thought the creative juices would continue to flow even if my feet weren’t hitting the pavement or the yoga mat. I thought wrong.

It’s not that I haven’t had interesting activities to entertain me, or to write about. On the contrary! This past week has actually been jam packed.

I gave my first massage to someone besides a classmate or the Huz and, I think, it went well! From my end, it did, but you’ll have to ask Ashley for the details since she was the recipient. 😉

I really loved working on an athlete, especially a runner, because I felt like I was so much more sensitive to typical runner aches and pains. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the upper body work, of course, because who doesn’t love a shoulder massage? I just wish I’d had the extra week of class under my belt so I could have done even more. Ah well, next time, right?

Our good friends, Brian and Kristin, had a beautiful, healthy baby boy named Nathaniel on Wednesday and we drove straight to the hospital that afternoon to meet him. Mother, father and baby all looked wonderful, likely in part to a quick labor. 6 hours, start to finish, not too shabby!

We went back out to Long Island to visit them on Sunday and just couldn’t get enough of the cuteness. Our visit also gave Bodhi a chance to play with his best friend, Shea, Brian and Kristin’s golden retriever. He was exhausted when we got home!!

Other festivities included a roof deck BBQ hosted by Melissa at her gorgeous apartment in Long Island City. If I ever move out of Manhattan, I’m moving there. She had everything: pool, gym club, yoga and pilates classes, doorman, 3 walls of huge windows in her room, the aforementioned roof deck, and…in unit washer/dryer!!! I couldn’t get enough of the view and all the amenities, and all just one stop from Grand Central station. Veeeeeery tempting!

The Huz and I had a wonderful time hanging out with Dori, Missy, and our beautiful host and her friends. And we enjoyed some tasty treats too! Melissa’s main squeeze, Frank, was manning the grill and he made up chicken, burgers an even a veggie burger for moi. I like a man who knows his way around the grill; this one’s a keeper!

I had a few culinary adventures, too, but I’m saving those tales for later this week.

See, I told you I had a lot to write about! I guess the run I have planned for tonight has inspired me to write this rather long-winded post. Here’s hoping I can stay in this groove and log some great miles and even better posts.

Hope you’re having a great week!

Handstand Envy

The Huz and I love doing stuff together. Walking Bodhi. Making tasty dinners. Entertaining lovely blog friends. You know, stuff. For years I’ve dreamed that The Huz would adopt my love of running and we’d become one of those cute running couples. We’d “accidentally” coordinate our workout clothes and jog merrily through the park with our trusty canine companion. As we ran, we’d regale one another with stories from our day, imagine new adventures, and wax poetic about the awesomeness of running and how infinitely more awesome it is because we do it together.

Well, so far, I see no “his” and “her” race bibs in our future or cute “That runner you’re checking out? Yea, that’s my husband!” t-shirts. Sure, we’ll get out for a few miles here and there, but we’ve found a much better physical activity to enjoy together. Focus now. I’m talking about yoga, people!

That’s right. The Huz and I love taking yoga classes together. Even though we generally focus on our own practices during each class, I’ve been known to send a sideways glance in the direction of my darling, especially when we head to the wall to practice inversions. Last week, the instructor led us through several handstand preps. We walked our feet up the wall into an “L” shape and I was feeling pretty awesome. Then, we turned around and started kicking up toward the wall. Suddenly, my pride was feeling a little bruised. I wanted to be doing a handstand. Waaaah! Then, I looked over at The Huz and saw how close he was to getting his own handstand. I was so proud of HIM that I wasn’t even thinking of myself anymore!

Even though he teased me about being jealous of his “mad handstand skillz” we were both so proud of each other for committing to the best practice we could have. I might not be able to do a handstand, but I can totally be excited for my handsome husband who can. And maybe I’ll spend a few extra minutes practicing my own soon 😉

Daily Om

Yoga has always been a challenge for me. Not so much in the physical sense, but more in the mental. Tell me to power through an hour long sweatfest of a run and I’ll jump at the chance and savor every salty minute. But tell me to sit crosslegged in a dimly lit room with quiet chanting and ask me to focus on my breath and quiet my mind? My mind races. As soon as my eyes close, I wonder if everyone else is looking at me. Is this all a joke and they’re all snickering at my sweaty workout clothes? I’m not like these women in their designer yoga apparel and 4 karat diamonds. I show up in running shorts and an old race tee that I have to keep tucking into my waistband.

15 seconds have passed. Now I’m thinking about the itch on my right middle toe. No, pinky toe. No, middle toe. Yup, definitely middle toe. Stupid toe. Who needs it anyway? And why, since I’ve generously allowed it to remain attached to my foot, does it insist on itching? Did I get a mosquito bite during a downward facing dog?

Instructor: Focus on your breath. In. Out. Direct your focus to your heart….

30 seconds. The dog! Do I need to pick up dog food on the way home? What should I have for dinner? It’s too hot to cook. Maybe The Huz can pick up something to throw on a salad. Do I want salad?

45 seconds. Ugh, I’m tired of this. I don’t want to be here. Would it be bad to get up and leave? How sad would that be? I couldn’t even lie and say I had an appointment to rush off too. I mean, who can’t handle 2 minutes of meditation?

Instructor: Now focus your breath on your third eye. Breathe into that space.

1 minute. Ooh, what if we all had three eyes? Would it look in the same direction as the other two? What would it mean to be cross eyed then? I’m a bad yogi. I should try to focus.

Instructor: If it helps, try a mantra. Inhale and say “Let.” Exhale and say “go.”

75 seconds. Let. Go. Let. Go. Let. Go. Hm, this isn’t so bad. Wait, I lost focus. Three breaths. That’s all I can muster? Focus, woman! Let. Go. Let. Go…

Instructor: Okay, now begin to deepen your breath. We’re going to end this meditation..

Wait, we’re done already? Where did the last 45 seconds go?

Instructor: …by chanting “Om” three times.

Om…igod I can’t believe I meditated for 45 seconds. Om…y darlin’ Oh my darlin’. Om….yword. I think I need to keep practicing this whole meditation thing.

Have you ever meditated? Do you use mantras to focus?