Another dark thirty rundate

God, I love running before the sun rises. 

Like, *really* love it. 
(especially when that run involves Scott, my most favorite running partner of all <3)

This morning’s dark thirty rundate was just what we both needed. Despite those “Pounded” legs of mine. The legs that left me hobbling around the studio yesterday trying like hell to avoid anything plie-related (which is very difficult to do if you’ve ever been t a barre class lol). 

My legs this morning didn’t fail me. They proved to me that despite some lingering soreness, despite how ‘worked’ they still felt even days after Pound training, these legs will always carry me. Always.

What I loved about this run? 

  • I worked for each step.
  • I chased the ‘rabbit’ like a fool — that ‘rabbit’ would be my husband who kept a good pace just ahead of me, knowing I’d try like hell to keep up.
  • The sun started to rise just about 15 minutes into our run. When did the sun start rising at 5am?? I *love* it.
  • I felt speedy, even surprising Scott during our final kick around the corner towards the home stretch and finishing just a few steps behind him (he thought he’d be left waiting on me for a good minute or two!)
  • I let my mind wander.

And where did my mind wander? To this woman. My Nonna. Who I spent a lot of time thinking about yesterday, the three year anniversary since her death. And the moment on our run that made me think of her? When Scott cracked a joke that I just *know* she would’ve giggled over. She loved his humor. She’d pat his cheek and laugh when he’d tell her stories (usually stories that involved making fun of me, hehe). 

We were running along, nearing the ocean along our route, smelling the salty air and listening to the birds chirp. We passed under a bunch of trees overhanging the sidewalk and were overcome by the sounds of birds chirping away in the branches above. There had to be at least 20 birds up there chirping away. Scott said, “it’s like running through a cocktail party!” And I giggled — all I could imagine was a bunch of birds with martini glasses and champagne flutes chit-chatting away in their cocktail dresses. (a totally normal thing for birds to do lol) Don’t ask me why but it struck me as funny and made me think of Nonna and how much she would’ve found it funny too.

Just a little moment that I’m glad I captured this morning. 

I’m also glad I captured this shot, post-run — I just love his face. That smile. It melts my heart. Every. Single. Time. #teamsutera

photo (63)

A dark thirty rundate

Let’s set the scene, shall we?

4:30am: alarm clock #1 blares

I smash the snooze button as fast as I can. I *hate* the sound of the alarm clock, will do anything to wake up just before it blares just so I don’t have to hear it.

Quickly assessing my sleepiness and decide that yup, we’re doing this. The dark thirty rundate I promised to myself, to eachother and yes, to the ladies of the barre n9ne running group on Facebook. I was totally accountable.

The hubs….well let’s just say he was less than excited to roll out of bed. Even tried the ‘ol roll over and cuddle up trick, thinking that would convince me that an extra hour sleep was a way better idea than getting out for our run.

(doesn’t he know me by now? I mean, really, hehe)

I got up first, brushed my teeth and got dressed. While pinning back my hair in the bathroom, the hubs rolls in and utters (with eyes at half mast): “this sucks.” I giggle. But carry on (of course).

Less than ten minutes after the alarm clock woke us, we’re out the door. It’s semi-dark but brisk and cool. Utterly perfect running weather. Birds were chirping up a storm and man was I a happy camper.

God, I’ve missed this, I thought.

Immediately my mind started to wander. Thinking back to last summer and early-fall during countless early morning, and typically steamy hot #teamsutera rundates leading up to the marathon. I didn’t think so much about the miles (at least not in terms of missing those long distances or anything), but I thought about those miles in terms of how much I missed those shared miles. Those quiet, sometimes chatty, sometimes silent, rundates.

This is what running is all about for me.

Mind wandering. Body working. Shared silent moments with the hubs. And quiet moments with myself, my own thoughts. Letting go of various frustrations from the previous day, thinking about the day ahead, the week ahead, the month ahead, daydreaming, or thinking of nothing at all. Just being.

…and this morning? The added layer of #rundate fun? The fact that my husband kicked my ass on this run. Totally pushed our pace in a way that I hadn’t personally pushed in awhile. I needed that work. So, so much.

I also needed to remember why I run — and this morning’s dark thirty rundate was just the reminder I needed. I run because I can, because it makes me feel so alive, because of that forever love of shared moments and miles with the hubs.

#teamsutera4lyf ❤


Powerful and spring-y

I’m titling this post ‘Powerful and spring-y’ which might sound kind of like an oxymoron, but I promise it’ll all make sense by the end. Hopefully. 😉

So first up — the powerful part of the equation.

As in a powerful run. Powerful on many levels.

powerful in how it reconnected Scott and I (aka long-lost #teamsutera). Even though we barely spoke a word.

powerful in how present I felt during the run. Present in each and every step I took, present in taking in my surroundings, present in listening to Scott’s even breathing next to me, silently pushing us both along. #presence2013 is a beautiful thing. (more of an update on this project of ours in a future post…)

powerful in how my legs felt pushing up and down the hills on our *favorite* 7-miler rundate route.

powerful in the rush of memories that came flooding back during that 7-mile route we circled. It’s the same route we doubled and tripled and nearly quadrupled during Chicago marathon training. Memories. ❤

powerful in the incredible HIGH it gave us both. The rush of the cool, fresh air breezing past our faces. The strength we both felt in our legs, and in our speed. And the incredible DOMS we both felt the next day (and are sure to feel even more tomorrow…I’m a two-day-later kind of girl).

powerful in the JOY it brought us both when all was said and done. As evidenced by our GIANT (albeit sweaty) smiles. ❤

photo (45)

Now, for the spring-y part.

spring-y as in the antsy pants I now have for spring to actually arrive. We went from blizzard conditions on Friday to sunshine and 50 degrees on Monday. Kinda makes me crazy, for SPRING. I love it so. ❤

spring-y as in the joy I already feel for the mere opportunity for many more of those powerful runs like I described from Sunday. Those reconnecting, rejuvinating and energizing runs. Trying so very hard to be patient…patience pants don’t suit me so well. 😉

spring-y and the absolute geeked-out high I get from trying out new fitgear at the studio during three-fer Monday that put a big ‘ol spring in my step as I set foot into the studio I love so very much. You see, sometimes *all* it takes to get me going on an early-start Monday (especially after the daylight savings time change the night before!), is a new outfit. Yup, I’m easy to please. And yup, I’m a giant #luluhoarder. But I won’t apologize for that part. I am who I am. Take me or leave me. ;-P

photo (44)


Soooooo, that’s all I got after a very long start to my week — but doing what I love most of all, and with that extra spring in my step totally helped matters. So is the glass of wine I’m savoring the heck out of as I type this. (note: blogging with wine is something I need to do more often. #noted.). Happppy (powerful and spring-y) Monday, friends! 

My run-purpose. Lately.

My running. It’s evolved a lot lately.

I feel like I’ve been talking about my running in the context of ‘when I was in training mode…’ vs. ‘now that I’m not in training mode’ but really, what I should be talking about is my run-purpose. That’s the thing that has evolved, running-wise lately.

You see, for the past few years, my running cycle has looked something like this:

  • Summer – run like hell, soaking in as many early-AM (bunny-filled!) runs as possible, learning to love and embrace the ultra-humid runs and being outside with the hubs by my side whenever possible. Oh – and lots of bestie rundates, too.
  • Late-summer/early-fall – ramp that running up in preparation for a race, usually a half marathon (or that run time I ran a full marathon…), a way to close out all those summer months of running on a high note.
  • Late-fall/early-winter – continue to run whenever possible outside, choosing one or two other races to run before winter settles in (usually the Thanksgiving Day 5-mile “Wild Turkey Run” was our ‘swan song’ race for the winter, until recently…)
  • Dead of winter – work my ass off to keep my endurance and mileage up as best as I can, sticking to the dreadmill during the week (tooooo dark) and outside on the weekends, when possible. Doing what I could to work on speed via intervals, dreadmill-style, and working on endurance on the weekend with the outdoor runs.
  • Early-Spring – ramp that mileage back up in preparation for a springtime race, usually another half marathon. And then get VERY excited to continue keeping the miles up during the summer months – aka one of my favorite running seasons.

I repeated this cycle yearly – training, keeping my mileage up, working on endurance…that was my run-purpose. I *mostly* ran with the intent to race a few times a year and that’s what largely drove my running. Of course, above all else – I always run because I love it, because it makes me feel so alive and yes, because it makes me feel badass. But the ‘purpose’ was also usually training-inspired in some shape or form.

But my run-purpose is quickly shifting – there is no real training ‘purpose’ to my runs anymore. And I don’t really foresee that shifting much. And not because I don’t enjoy the thrill of the chase that training for a race provides, that end goal in sight, feeling that rush of crossing the finish line. I *still* really love those moments and like I’ve said about a million times, training for the Chicago Marathon and countless half marathons before that, provided some of the most memorial bonding moments with Scott, my favorite running partner of all. #teamsutera ❤

But really, my run-purpose now is literally all about the joy of the sweat.

The rush I feel when I see a cool “7.0 miles” completed on the treadmill. Or I watch my pace quicken during those killer intervals (like these intervals, where my a$$ nearly fell off), and I am incredulous that my legs can actually move that quickly if I trust them to.

My running goal lately? To run. Whenever I can fit it in, for as long as I can fit into my day. It might be 7 miles, early-AM (like tomorrow’s plan!), dreadmill-style. Or it might be a quick 3 miler after I teach or take a barre n9ne class in the morning. Or it might be, the altogether TOO RARE rundate with Scott outside, hitting up one of our favorite 7 mile running routes (that I hope to return to this Sunday, actually!).

My run-purpose: the joy of the sweat.

My run goal: to run. Joyfully.

We let the run come to us.

“Let the run come to you.” 

The best piece of running advice I’ve ever received.
(smooches, Meaghan!)

And actually pretty awesome words that can apply to a lot more than just running — insert whatever word you like in that phrase and you might surprise yourself with how profound it actually comes out. (could be a pretty awesome game of madlibs, if I do say so myself…) <—a post for another day, perhaps. 

So after a crazy, chaotic, FULL week this past week, both Scott and I really needed one of those ‘releasing’ runs. The kind of run where you just kind of go, leaving it all out on the road as the miles tick by.

Releasing stress.
Releasing anxiety.
Releasing thoughts.

Saturday’s run gave us exactly what we were both looking for. It was a brisk 30 degrees, bright sunshine and crisp blue skies. A perfect fall morning. We bundled up for the first time this season in our winter running gear and I actually looked forward to that. I kinda dig my running tights more this year for some reason.

So off we went — #teamsutera — bundled up, well-rested and ready to surrender to the run. About halfway through I realized we had barely spoken a word to one another — other than the occasional “good morning” to walkers and runners we passed along the way. And I was totally ok with the silence. Hearing our feet shuffle through the leaves, the wind rushing past our faces. It was so invigorating. So connecting. And yet somehow also very emotional. I don’t know why, but ever since marathon training, running has such an emotional undertone to it for me. Releasing…but also very cleansing.

And when all was said and done, we rounded that familiar bend towards home and I felt a surge of emotion — a joyful calmness. On Saturday, we let the run come to us. And it was a beautiful thing. 


We did this (18).

We woke up at 4:30.

We packed our fuel (healthy bites FTW!) and water.

We shuffled out the door onto the dark streets of our neighborhood.

We ran. And ran. And ran.

We watched the world wake up around us, the sun slowly rising. Shades of pink and orange. Beautiful.

We hardly spoke, but when we did, it was always words of encouragement, a quick “I love you” or a joke to break the seriousness of it all.

We saw one very beautiful butterfly flit by us (I whispered quietly “Hi Nonna…” and said to Scott “butterflies always remind me of her, she must be watching us…”)

We ran some more.

…until we suddenly were rounding the final turn towards home.

We were both surprised how seemingly quickly we were nearing the end. (Me: “can you believe we’re doing this??” Him: “yup, we’re almost done, too!”)

…and then, we ran (all 18 miles) home.

We did this (18). ❤

<<clearly I am one of few words today…I’m still pretty amazed by what we accomplished out there today, in awe really. And very, very proud…of us.>>

Double digits and tweaks in (marathon) training

((oh look! Another uber-sweaty post-run picture to entertain you with!))

That would be our sweaty, hot, but still smiling, faces after hitting our 10-mile run on Friday, firmly planting ourselves back in the double digit club. And I’m proud to say that this run was far, far less mental than our last long run was. I think my brain was too consumed by the fact that it was suuuuper muggy and warm on Friday and it chose to keep the mind games at bay for the most part. Thankfully, my body firmly remembered how to run in the heat — and we got through the miles fairly uneventfully. I will say that the last mile, mile-and-a-half were built on sheer willpower. My body was just done by that point, I even got that goose bumpy feeling I sometimes get when my body is being pushed to the limits and that’s how it likes to tell me it’s got (almost) nothing left. I’ve only experienced that sensation a few times but it’s always been during a long run, and that’s how I’m interpreting the random goosebump thing (even though I could be totally wrong, haha). I mean, I definitely wasn’t cold in the muggy heat!

But anyway, I’m really happy with how this run went. Scott and I didn’t really talk all that much this time, but we did work our asses off to get through it. And yes, we brought water and fuel (honey stingers rule!) so we wound up feeling pretty good when all was said and done. Y’know, after we finally stopped sweating. 😉

In other news — I’m already looking at tweaks to my training for the marathon. 
…but it’s for good reason(s).

Reason #1 — I’m going to start teaching another barre n9ne class which I am PSYCHED about. That’ll make four classes on the schedule on a regular basis which makes me suuuuch a happy little instructor. I just love to teach and the more I get to do it, the more and more I love it. The only slight “downfall” is that this means that I’ll no longer be running my long runs this summer on Friday mornings (as I’ll be teaching at 6am and I don’t want to hold off on a long run until after 7am, no way man!). Which means a change in the handy-dandy little schedule of mine. I won’t lie — I did OATT over it a little bit while editing it, but I figured out a good alternative. My long run will now happen on Wednesday mornings each week. Kind of a nice way to break up the week and the training now that I’ve let the change settle in a little bit. But it IS a change, and that always takes me a little bit of time to process. Which brings me to reason #2 for the tweaks in training.

Reason #2 — I need to keep my eye on the prize: the marathon. Which means giving up some of the beloved fitdates I have been hanging onto like hell over here since starting training (a mere two weeks ago, lol). Since I’ll now be running my long run on Wednesdays, it’s no longer a very smart move for me to keep up the run-barre-rundates on Tuesday mornings. At least not regularly, and definitely not as the miles creep up for those long runs. The run-barre-rundates are a KILLER on the legs and the last thing I want is to run 16 miles on dead legs. No bueno. So I’m loosening my grip on these fitdates a bit (insert sad face). At least for now. I’m also going to have to give up my love of the Wednesday morning fitdate with my sis ala barre n9ne fusion class followed by a rundate. A killer fun workout, but one that no longer ‘fits’ with training. Again…at least for now.

Eye on the prize. The marathon. On running smarter, not harder. On making every single run count. Avoiding burnout. And not allowing marathon training to overtake my life entirely.

I can do this.

Workouts *can* be fun (and still qualify as “badass”)

After last week’s very mental 9-miler, I’ve been trying to shift my focus a little bit. Sure, I’m in ‘training’ for my first marathon this fall, but does that mean my workouts — and really, my “me” time — need to be uber-serious and uber-structured all the time (if at all)?

I say, nope!

And this morning’s workout is total #PROOF that workouts can indeed be fun and still qualify as totally badass and totally sweatastic, too.

(note the barre n9ne sign behind us, hehe)

As you can see — we’re *still* smiling. Which is rather surprising given the workout two-fer we just put ourselves through:

— 6am barre n9ne fusion class with Julianna, who always seems to find a way to sneak in some new moves on me when I least expect it. Today was totally killer and I LOVED it. Fusion is a nice switch-up from the classes I’m used to taking and teaching since this is a barre-less class, relying on bodyweight-style moves coupled with resistance bands for strengthening while lengthening and the evil (but I love ’em) gray 1 lb balls. ❤ it.

— we oh-so-smartly followed this up by trying a new running route near the studio that would get us about 5ish miles of rundate fun in, directly after class. Rookie mistake on my part? *Not* bringing shorts to change into after class. I literally had to peel my Lululemon wunder under crops off before I could shower. Holy sweatfest.

What I loved about this workout? Sure, it was totally killer and badass and all of that good stuff, but really? It gave me time to catch up with my sis who I see a little bit less of now that she teaches in the barre n9ne studio near her and I teach at the one near me, so we don’t get nearly as many fun fitdates in as we used to. And I KNOW — 22 mins apart is TRULY nothing in the grand scheme of things, but when you’ve been spoiled by living a mere 5 minutes apart (or less) for years, it feels a heck of a lot farther.

I also loved that we were able to pull eachother up, running-wise. We’ve both battled a bit of the mental mind game thing lately so it was really good to shake that off together, chatting away as best as we could while “bunny creeping” as Jo calls it. (for the record: we only saw ONE bunny, two if you count the same bunny twice).

So this is just my little blogger PSA for ya’ll on this super-steamy winesday Wednesday: workouts *can* be fun (and still qualify as “badass”) — quit taking yourself so seriously sometimes. It’s kinda nice now and then. 😉 

Celebrating strength (in running)

I think we should celebrate our strengths. 
…a helluva a lot more often than we’re accustomed to.

So today? I’m celebrating the strength I found in running this past weekend. 

I ended up running three days in a row, something I’m not known to do often or at all, really. I like to give my legs time to rest, coming back stronger the next go-round. However, after a few days off from running last week and the way my plans ended up rolling out this past week/weekend, I ended up running Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I will say that I had every intention of nixing the Sunday run, pushing it to sometime later this week if I needed to. But I woke up bright and early on Sunday, sun was shining, and I was ready to run.

Ready to runafter two really good, really strong runs the previous two days. 
I celebrated that strong moment. It was a brief celebration, but I made sure to stop and note it in my mind before Scott and I took off for our run. (note: we saw the cutest little bunny on this run, he was a little guy, so soft and furry…it took every ounce of self-control not to run after the bunny in an attempt to befriend him).

Backing up a bit. Saturday’s run. Our first “long run” of our official Chicago marathon training plan.
We ran 8 miles. I was wicked PMS-y (sorry, TMI for the male readers). I legit thought I might puke near the last mile and a half.
…and then, it happened.

I started to let go just a little bit more. A little bit more than I have in a long time as a runner. My mind freed itself from all the crazy thoughts that typically run around up there. And I focused. On the strength I was finding in my legs. As I rounded the final turn and we made our way the final half mile, I felt my legs pushing off the ground, gripping the surface, drawing energy from the pavement and plowing along. I have never felt that before. The sensation of the muscles in my legs working — stabilizing me, centering me, propelling me forward.

I felt strong. It felt so awesome.
(but, I won’t lie — I was really glad to see these 8 miles done, I was hurting by the end. Nothing a bowl of oatmeal and a picnic in the park later that day wouldn’t fix!)

Backing up again. To Friday’s rundate with my fit bestie, Steph. We ran a familiar route to us — one we used to run every single week the first time we trained together for our first half marathon. It was our ‘long run route’ at the time. On Friday, we went with a 7.5 mile route. And made sure to ‘save up’ a few topics to discuss on the run to make sure the time would go by quickly. And lemme tell ya — that trick totally worked. What also worked? That I was feeling so rested from those few days off, and despite my best attempts at jinxing myself with Friday’s post, it was a killer good run.

Again, I walked away from that run feeling strong.

Strong is beautiful. Strong ought to be celebrated.

So today, I’m celebrating my strength and urging each of you to dig deep today to find your strength — and when you do, please own it, please share it, please embrace it.  

Source: via Lauren on Pinterest

A runner tempting fate

Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m a runner...tempting fate.

You see, I haven’t run since Tuesday.
…yes, TUESDAY.

And well, my legs are buzzing with energy. Sure, I’ve taken (and taught!) my fare share of barre n9ne classes this week.  And have gotten two good runs in this week so far (a speedy-Ima-puke-just-for-fun 5k with Scott on Sunday and a run-barre-rundate with this fit bestie on Tuesday).

BUT. I have yet to get that killer-good run in that will remind me that I am indeed back in training mode.
…just when I thought I was feeling bittersweet about saying goodbye to the last few weeks of un-training, and I’m sitting here actually really excited to get that “training” mode vibe back on up in here. 

I guess this means I’m ready to run.
…ready to train.
…ready to get this body ready to tackle 26.2 miles in 16 weeks, huh? <—eep!

But I digress. (I have a habit of that lately, such a spaz…)

The point of this post? To tempt fate.

I’m writing this post on Thursday night, while sitting on my nice comfy couch, eating the first cherries of the season (looooove cherries *almost* as much as I love watermelon in the summer), just thinking about my rundate planned for tomorrow with Steph.

…and I’m thinking it’s going to be a kickass, rockstar-style run.

I gotta feeling. 

And y’know what? I seriously hope I’m right or when I get back from my run to report back — with picture #PROOF of course — to ya’ll tomorrow morning (er, this morning), I’ll be really annoyed if I have to report anything less than badass status.

Maybe we should take votes?  Whatcha think? Will it be badass? yes/no?
Weigh in, please. 🙂

(and don’t worry, I won’t stretch the truth when I report back, I’m not *that* kind of blogger, trust me…far too honest for my own good sometimes!!)