Work smarter. Train smarter. Run smarter.

Some of you have probably seen me on twitter talking about running smarter, training smarter. It’s become my mantra lately — mostly because the last thing I want to do right now is end up with an injury that would sideline me from running, from keeping up with my endurance and preventing me from chasing runner’s high after runner’s high.

But the other reason I’ve been talking about running and training smarter? Because I want to both care for my body in the months leading into full marathon training *and*  make the most of my workouts.
Quality vs. quantity. 

No more was this true than in Sunday’s barre n9ne intensive class I took with my sis and Steph. It’s a 90-minute workshop style class where Tanya takes students through five of the signature barre n9ne moves and hammers home the exact right form for each move and explains *why* form matters so much.

The “why” is pretty easy: Work smarter

She’s right — and her focus on that today totally hit home for me because it’s totally been on my mind…how can I continue to work and train smarter?

…to continue to evolve barre n9ne into a workout that never fails me, that doesn’t cause plateaus, that continues to refine me?
…to continue to run smarter, running harder when my body tells me “GO!” and train smarter when my body tells me “NO!” Truly listening to body cues.
…to put my all into my workouts, but not necessarily in a “balls out” kind of way, but in a focused, smarter way.

Work smarter, train smarter, run smarter. 

This has quickly become my new mantra for the rest of 2011 and all of 2012 (aka: the year of 26.2).  

In the meantime, I’ll be over here on my wobbly legs from yesterday’s intensive, that sh*t burns when your form and your focus is spot-on. Holy hell am I in for it in class this week. Burn baby, burn. 😉 

Virtual #rundate Saturday, anyone?

<tap tap tap tap tap>

That would be the sound of my antsy feet tapping away, just dying to get out there and run again. Dutifully, I kept my promise to myself to go run-free after the half on Sunday to give my joints a rest – well, to give my whole body a rest really. (not that the barre n9ne classes I took this week are “restful” or anything, but they *are* far better on the joints!)

But now that it’s Friday, I’m getting a ‘lil antsy to get out there and run my ass off! But then I got to thinking — sure I’m all uber-motivated *now* to run but what happens in a few weeks when it’s colder and I’m tired and my motivation isn’t quite where it is today? Why not start virtual #rundate Saturday so I can “run” with all of you and thus, I’m being held accountable to get out there and run *and* I get to “run” with all of you.

Genius, right? 

Plus, tomorrow is race day for my blog bestie Heather and I figure she might want a little bit of company tomorrow while she’s out there killing 13.1.
(Edit: How could I forget?? Must also cheer on Heather and Stephanie who are both running the Marine Corp Marathon on Sunday, go ladies, GO!) 

Sooooo – whose with me? 
C’mon, you *know* you wanna. 😉

I’m actually hoping for one of those run without thinking, with no distance in mind, just running to run, kind of days tomorrow. It’ll be a little chilly but that’s what cute running gear is for, right?? Plus, it totally counts as badass (in my book and a certain MommaSunshine’s book too, I dare say).

So tell me – will you join me tomorrow for virtual #rundate Saturday *and* will you cheer on Heather with me??

Happy Friday ya’ll — holy wow am I in a chipper mood today. Good thing it’s not Monday or I might be accused of being like that chick in Office Space (the “jUst a moment, chick). hehe 😉

Well, now what?

…so there’s that PR I can’t stop talking about.

…and that little marathon thing I can’t stop thinking about.

…and barre n9ne that I’m still totally and utterly in love with.

Well, now what? 

I’m finding myself stumbling into an “in between” spot — no races to be training for, no barre n9ne challenge to be focused on (not “officially” anyway…always in barre n9ne mode in some shape or form). No “something” to be working towards, near-term.

So, knowing me, I’ve been doing lots of thinking. About what I want to focus on for the next say, six months before officially throwing myself into marathon training (y’know, after I can actually register for the Chicago Marathon…minor detail!). 

And I’ve decided that I have three goals for myself – they probably won’t surprise you.

1 – Maintain my running endurance as best as I can this winter (aiming for a long-ish run per week all winter, for the most part)

2 – Make sure to properly mix in intervals to work on speed. (I hear a certain Jim over at RunBikeSurf has a killer interval workout he and Sam at Because I can are planning to post soon…ahem!)

3 – Stay focused in barre n9ne, constantly improving my form, core strength and flexibility.

Sounds pretty well-rounded…and kinda similar to what I’ve been doing, yeah? The difference to me is a subtle one. But it’s an important one to me. I’ve worked SO hard to get myself into the best running “fitness” of my life and I feel like I’m in a really good place. So I want to hang onto it like hell. 

I’m also so grateful for what barre n9ne has done for me — it’s totally transformed me, and continues to change me every single day. Physically but perhaps even more so mentally. So I want to hang onto *that* like hell too. 

The only difference in either scenario? No hard and fast “schedule” or “training plan” for the next few months. And I’m cool with that. It’ll let me mix up my weeks a little bit more than I have been the past few months. But it’ll still be focused, which is so important to me.

For example – this week has been solely focused on barre n9ne while I give myself a running break (my joints are thanking me!). And maybe there will be a week or two where I’m more focused on running and intervals/speed and less so on barre n9ne. Who knows.

Either way? I have my eye on the prize – 26.2 next October. The next year is going to be a rollercoaster (like whoa). And I’d like to start that rollercoaster on solid (strong) ground. Strong legs, happy joints, conditioned core.  Run-smart. Train-smart. Live-smart. 

…so this is my non-plan of a plan. I dig it. 

So, 26.2.

Yes, I’m* still* riding runner’s high from Sunday.
(hope you don’t mind…) 

And no, I haven’t run since then and don’t plan to until Saturday.
…just like I promised. (running smart, my new mantra…)

But, I have to get something off my chest.

I can’t stop thinking about 26.2.

Sunday’s race showed me that my body *is* capable of much more than I ever thought or ever trusted it to do.

Before Sunday the sheer thought of 26.2 miles sent my heart racing and my palms sweaty.

Now the thought of it excites me and energizes me, drives me.
…to continue strengthening my body.
…to continue to build my endurance.
…to continue to run smartly, proudly, happily.
I’m ready to conquer 26.2.

But now the question becomes – which 26.2?

I’ll be honest and say that there is one race that’s on my shortlist right now.
And it’s Chicago.

And here’s why.
…it’s the weekend of Columbus Day (so the hubs won’t have to worry about time off from teaching).
…it’s the day after my 33rd birthday (whoa).
…it’s nearly a year away, plenty of time to train (in the summer especially).
…and my mom has already agreed to RV it to Chicago to cheer us on, act as race day photog, *and* provide me with my own personal bathroom on the course. (HUGE bonus!)

It’s destiny, no?
(I can think of at least one, two, ok – three people who are probably really excited that Chicago is on the shortlist).

So now what?
Do I call Chicago “it” and start preparing (i.e. “training”…my way)?
Or do I really have to wait until February when sign-ups open to throw the gauntlet down on 26.2?

I’m thinking the former….whatcha say? 😉

…347 days and counting.

Snapshots and snippets from 13.1

Well. I’m *still* grinning like a fool (as my blog bestie Heather would say!) over Sunday’s race day PR.

I *still* can’t quite believe we ran 13.1 in 2:05:32. 
*OR* that we ran it at a 9:35 average pace according to the official race results.
…does that mean I am speedier than I thought?!

Who knew. Apparently my body was waiting to surprise the sh*t out of me on race day, and surprise me it did.

Now that I’ve had a bit of time to digest this fact, I’ve been reliving portions of the race in my mind (which makes for quite a distracting Monday, lemme tell ya!).

So I figured I’d share some snapshots and snippets from the race on Sunday since it’s basically the only thing I can think about right now!

…it’s mile 10! Right around the time that my body totally took over and my mind let go. I have never run the last 3 miles of 13.1 that strongly. Unreal.

…giving mom the thumbs-up, feeling good, feeling strong, feeling proud!

…and now it’s back to business, game face on, about to round the bend towards mile 11.

around the bend we go (um, wtf is up with the guy in the orange vest? Just noticed that..haha)

my sis and M, running strong. GO YOU!! Love the unofficial racers, running strong. Proud sister alert 😉

and DONE! 13.1 strong! (if you look really close, you can see the wiped look in my eyes, beneath all that pride, of course 😉 )

Just looking back at these pictures from yesterday makes my heart soar with pride. And…it makes me want to run another half, and another and another…and then 26.2. Which is now really weighing on my mind (in a good way)…but that’s a blog conversation for another day. For now? I’m basking in runner’s high/PR glory for as long as I can. I hope you don’t mind. 😉

…but before I go, I’ll leave you with a few funny snippets of things overheard while running 13.1

“I heart sweat! Keep going, you’re not sweating enough!” (says the guy practically taunting me to run harder after he saw my super cute “I heart Sweat” shirt ala Ali).

“I heart sweat! Now you’re sweating! Keep going!” (says the same dude at mile 10, guess I proved that I was indeed sweating hard enough for him!)

“Remember that time, we were driving with Bob…and he was totally tripping on acid…but didn’t realize it, so we kept asking him if he was ‘feeling it yet’ and he kept saying no, and then we asked him again and he finally started laughing when we asked him if he was tripping…” (says some random woman re-living her Dead Head days…um what? acid?? seriously? Is this really race day fodder??)

“5k to go! 5k to go! 5k to go! 5k to go!” (says the woman at the mile 10 marker who made me smile SO BIG knowing that we’d gotten to that ever-elusive final 5k of the half)

“Just 300 more yards, looking good!!” (says the guy 300 yards from the finish line…this is when it hit me that whoa, we’re thisclose to being done, PUSH IT!!)

The day I worked for that PR

Holy crap.

I just PR’d my third half marathon by 8 minutes. 
This after PR’ing my last half marathon by 10 minutes.

But this PR? It feels quite different.

Today, I worked for that PR.
really worked for it.

Sure. I went into this race with the same goal I had for the last half marathon – to run happy, to run proud, to finish strong. No PR time lurking in the back of my mind.

…well, not *really* anyway.

I knew I wanted to run this half faster than the last, but I didn’t have a number in mind, I just wanted to run strong. I knew the weather conditions were going to cooperate and the course would be much flatter and less hellacious hill-wise. Which gave me a confidence boost – I could remove those two barriers from my mind and just run. Run strong, run hard, run proud.

I repeated those three things in my head throughout this race.  Almost like a chant. Just to keep my mind from running wild on me – which it threatened to do quite a few times for the first half of the race. I told Scott I was struggling around mile 5 or 6 and he looked at his watch and told me, “no, you’re not – you’ve just run your best miles yet.”

And then it hit me: I wasn’t struggling, I was working for those miles.

It was in that moment that a switch flipped — as soon as I realized what was happening, that my body was working for those miles – and ultimately for that PR – that I started to trust it more. To let my body do what my mind kept trying to tell me wasn’t possible.  

And what my body was trying to tell me was this:
That I could run faster. That I could run stronger. That I could run prouder.
…that I could run 13.1 miles in 2:05:32. 

And for that? I am so proud.
…proud that I let my body do the work.
…proud that I learned to shutter those self-doubt thoughts lurking, those “struggle” thoughts.
…proud that I finished what I started.
And ran a race to be proud of.  

The day that I worked for that PR. Today was that day. 
13.1 all done.

Editor’s note: pictures to come tomorrow thanks to my mom, official race day photographer. And special thanks to my sis and M for not just showing up to support us but to run a portion of the course “with” us (9.5 miles, they might as well have run the whole thing! Next time?…). ❤

Chasing 13.1

It’s getting to be about that time.

Racing time!

And I am quite honestly the MOST excited I’ve ever been to chase 13.1: 
…I feel ready.
…I feel strong.
…I feel happy.
Because I know I’ll cross that finish line proudly.

Know what else is *totally* exciting me about race weekend? 

The weekend forecast, for starters – could that *be* any more perfect running weather??

The fact that I already have my race day outfit all picked out. 
I heart sweat– obvs.

(paired with these which I’m totally buying later today!)

The race course, which I’m DYING to run – it’s in a beautiful area, with lots of gorgeous views, annnd it’s wicked flat:

The sheer fact that I’m running this race on my two year (whoa!) blog birthday is pretty unreal. Very fitting if you ask me. What’s also fitting? That I’ll be seeing one of my oldest blog friends, Alicia, this weekend for a sushi date with my sister! Also fitting? That my even longer time blog friend, Heather, is celebrating her two year blog birthday on the same day of her second half marathon, just a week after me. Stars aligning…must mean something, yeah??

And finally? It’s making me so happy to know that I’ll be seeing familiar faces on race day my sister and M will be there as our cheering squad (and may even hop in for a few miles!), and my mom – team photographer. Means the world to me to have them there. More than they probably know. That and the fact that I’ll be running side-by-side with Scott, my #1 fan and favorite running partner ever. We’re gonna rock it, babe. ❤

…and someone else I’m super-excited to see on race day? This girl! She is so frickin’ inspiring – I can’t wait to meet her in real life, especially now that she’s moved back home and wouldn’t ya know, that “home” is wicked close to where I live. Small world!

So yeah, all sort of excitement going on for me today. I’m ready for you 13.1. Ready to kill it.
…Yeah, I said it
. 😉

An open letter to…You.

An open letter to…You

To whom it may concern <ahem, that would be You>:

It’s time to embrace who you are today. Instead of hoping, wishing, can’t-waiting to be *that* someone you don’t think you are today but somehow think you ought to be, in some shape or form, tomorrow, in two weeks, six months, a year…

Take just one minute out of your day – every day – to look in the mirror. Really look in that mirror. Tell the person you see that you love them…and why. If you’re strapped for time, just pick one thing about that person in the mirror that you love and tell them. Out loud. Every day.

Accept the things you can control, and push aside those that you cannot. Quit wasting time letting your mind cycle through those out-of-your-control things and accept who you are, where you are, what you are. Acceptance is a beautiful thing. Learn it.

And above all else? Be your own best friend. Not your enemy. You’d never tear down your best friend. You’d praise them. You’d never judge them. You’d encourage them. You’d never doubt them. You’d have full confidence in them. You’d accept them for who they are, right where they are. Always. 

With much love, 

Intuitive eating is hard.

Intuitive eating is hard.
Don’t let anyone trick you into thinking otherwise. But it’s worth it.
I promise.

 But back to the “hard” part…

You hear the word “intuitive” and well, it sure makes it sound like it would just come naturally. To simply eat when hungry. And to not eat when not hungry.

But then things like cravings, PMS-induced or run-induced hungry horrors attack, and plain old temptations arise.

Now what? You might not be hungry, but intuitively, you want to eat, because well – eating is enjoyable. Let’s be honest about that.

But eating “just to eat” versus eating to satisfy a hunger pang are two very different things. Hence why I say intuitive eating is hard. It’s definitely much more of a learned behavior than you’d assume. At least it is for me. But I’m being real here – as I always am – when I say that intuitive eating may not be all that intuitive to begin with, but it’s so worth it once you figure out what works for you, how to “learn” to eat more intuitively …as oxymoronic as that sounds.

I was smacked with a healthy dose of intuitive eating reality just last weekend and was amazed at what I saw unfold before me. Learned behaviors *do* work. Go figure!

Picture this:
…Spent the day ziplining with friends on Sunday. Planned ahead by eating a good breakfast, and brought yummy, fueling snacks for the car ride home in anticipation of homemade pizza for dinner while watching the Patriots game with friends.
…Arrive home from ziplining. Tired. Exhilarated from the experience of ziplining. And starving. There were snacks sitting out (natch, I am the hostess with the mostest, afterall!) and we cracked open a few bottles of wine that my sister so lovingly brought back from wine country for us.
…And honestly? It took all of my self-control to stick to the plan: two glasses of wine, two pieces of pizza. A piece or two of cheese from the cheese plate. Golden.

But in reality? In those moments – it took all of my self-control to *not* revert back to old eating patterns.  Of mindlessly snacking. Merely because the cheese plate was sitting in front of me. Of going for a third slice of pizza, simply because it looked so good (and not gonna lie, the Sutera’s? We make a mean homemade pizza).

But instead of reverting back to old eating patterns though, my sis and I stuck to our guns. We sat at the table chatting with eachother waiting until our dinner had settled. To gauge if what we were feeling was true hunger or mindless hunger. About 15 minutes later, we both sat back and realized that we were indeed full. Two pieces of pizza and two delicious glasses of wine later. And we were satisfied. Completely and totally. In fact, had we gone for that third slice? We both admitted we would have been uncomfortably full. A feeling neither of us ever wants to feel again – after far too many indulgent girls nights, date nights, holiday parties, etc., where food took center stage, instead of the experience of the evening or event itself.

So why am I telling you all of this? No, not to gloat over the fact that I have excellent self-control (I’m not perfect, trust me). But to show you that intuitive eating, while hard work, it’s worth it – and it’s indeed an ongoing project. And over time? All of that hard work pays off – intuitively eating slowly trains your body  (and mind, perhaps even more importantly) to appreciate the food you fuel it with, and to be satisfied with the calories it needs to sustain itself.

Intuitive eating, at least for me, is a learned behavior; but one that is becoming more and more intuitive (duh) than ever before.
And it’s worth it.

…but, of course this is just my take, I’d love to hear what you have to say about the whole intuitive eating thing. I expect there may be a bit of debate on this one. Just a hunch. 😉

And don’t you worry – there *will* be more pizza to be had in the Sutera household, and in fact – it’s on the menu for our pre-13.1 carb loading on Saturday night. It seemed to serve us pretty well during the last race, so why fix what so clearly is not broken, right? 😉

From the “do one thing that scares you everyday” files

Remember how I said that my 32nd year would include doing at least one thing that scares me everyday? And, that I’d work on being much more spontaneous than this Type A-er typically is?

Well – let’s just say that Sunday’s activities firmly belong in the “do one thing that scares you everyday” files.

This girl? Well, she found herself ziplining this weekend.
Yup, me – high up among the trees on top of the mountains in New Hampshire.
…hanging from a zipline.
Completely. Out. Of. My. Control. 

Exhibit A: yes, that *is* me waaaaay up there among the tree tops!

Exhibit B: Proof that Scott made it out alive (as did our favorite friends who were responsible for getting me way out of my comfort zone and out ziplining to begin with!) — and he’s the one with the fear of heights! Go babe, go! 😉

I have to say – despite the very last zip which was um, scary as sh*t (hello backwards freefall????), the entire day was exhilarating. Freeing. Spontaneous. Fun. So worth feeling like I was going to pee myself from fright all day.

Amazing what happens when you do something that scares you, and spontaneously, even. One point for me on the 32nd year “bucket list” – and many, many more scary “things” to go, I’m sure. 😉