Who am I?

Who am I?
A runner....or Herky the Hawk?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 2 Review: Hills = Tight Calves

I'm happy to say that the mileage in the second week was more bearable than the first week. I was able to complete the 4 mile and 5 mile runs, which felt awesome. I contribute the completion of the 5 mile run to the fact that I had my friend, Michelle, running next to me. Thanks Michelle!

As for the 3 mile run on Saturday...I was in Templeton, IA for a family reunion, but I didn't use it as an excuse not to run. Instead, I traced a route on http://www.logyourrun.com/ and set out for my 3 miles. I quickly learned how important it is to scope out your route prior to your run. After about a half mile, I came to a steep hill. Okay, not fun, but just do it and then keep going. Well, it wasn't the only hill...it was one of 3 steep hills. And I had to turn around and run those hills again to get back. Not fun. My calves were on fire and eventually my right food went numb. But I finished it, and I guess it's always good to change up your routine a little bit.

This week is going to be tough. I have 3 miles today, 5 on Thursday, 3 on Saturday, and 6 on Sunday. I recently started a second job and have to work on Thursday evening, so we'll see if I can find a way to get my run in. A friend of mine said that some mileage is better than none, so I think I'm just going to get in as much as I can in the little time I have. 

Here we go week 3!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week 1 Review: New Obstacles

I finished my first week of the Runner's World Training Program yesterday and I'll be honest, I struggled yesterday. I ran 3 miles on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and attempted to run 5 miles yesterday. I don't know if it's my shoes or just my feet trying to get used to the increase in mileage, but after 3.5 miles yesterday, I had to go back and forth between walking and running because I now have blisters on the inside of my feet. And then there was the sweat that would drip in my eyes. If you have contacts, you know that if something comes between your eyeball and your contact, it hurts like hell. I could barely keep my eyes open, which forced me to walk at times. And then there was the lack of hydration. I'm really struggling with this, as I get tired of water very quickly. Unless I'm thirsty, I have to force myself to drink it. I'm trying to drink more water, but clearly I'm still not drinking enough.

So yeah, my excitement for my training has weakened a little, but I'm still determined to follow it as best I can. I wanted to quit and walk back home when I had a chance...but I continued on because no matter what, I was going to get my 5 miles in. I walked some of it, but I still did the whole 5 miles. I increase to 4 miles on Saturday, I think. I'm trying to stay positive, but it's tough when I'm struggling to complete 5 mile runs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let the training begin!

I was looking through my stack of magazines that I have yet to read, and I found last month's edition of "Runner's World". The edition is focused on the Half-Marathon, and specifically targets those who are training for their first. Well, that's me....so I am starting their training program this week. It looks like this: Rest Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Run 3 miles EZ on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; and Run 5 miles LSD (whatever that means) on Sunday. My mileage has decreased a little with the heat, but I'm determined to follow the plan...even if it means walking to finish the mileage. We're still under an Excessive Heat Warning, so I will be hopping on the treadmill today. Anyone else training for a race? How's the training going?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Running in the Heat

After looking at the 7 day forecast for Des Moines, it appears that we won't get relief from the excessive heat and humidity anytime soon. Unfortunately, I used the heat as an excuse to avoid my training runs. If you're like me, you've had in your mind that it's going to cool down soon, and it's too dangerous to run outside right now, so it's better to just wait it out. And it's hard to go back to the treadmill once you're used to running outside. It's just not the same.

I ran outside on Tuesday, and felt fine after one lap around the Aviva lot, so decided to go for a second and make it a longer run. Bad decision. Half-way through the second lap, I was soaked in sweat and I could feel the heat radiating out every inch of my body. It was like running in porridge. This is a guess, as I've never actually had porridge. Does it actually exist outside of storybooks? Anyways, I'm pretty sure I could have walked faster than I was running at that point, but continued running because I just wanted to get back to the air-conditioned building ASAP and lay my head in the drinking fountain. To make a long story short. I should have been smart and not pushed it, because by the end, I had the urge to throw up and the chills, and I didn't feel better until later that night.

Back to my original point that the heat and humidity aren't going anywhere. It's time to stop excusing ourselves from training, whether it be for a 5K, half marathon, or a mile, and time to reacquaint ourselves with the trusty old treadmill. Yes, it's boring and you don't get the same feeling when you finish, but you're still excercising. And it's air conditioned and safer, and in the end, our ultimate goal is our health, right? My recommendation is to try and mix it up a little bit with intervals and try out a new playlist on your iPod. It should make the time go by quicker. And don't forget to increase your incline to at least 1%. Doing so will prevent shin splints, give you more of a workout with little noticeable strain, and it boosts your booty :o)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bring on the Half...

I'd like to start this post by saying that I apologize for the lack of posts lately. With my brother getting married (congrats Adam and Krisie!) and my new role at work, I haven't been able to focus on the blog, or my running for that matter, as much as I'd like. And to be honest with you, I didn't think anyone would notice my absence. BUT to my pleasant surprise, I've learned that I do have a few people out there who actually read this, and a couple of you have even used the word "inspiring" when you ask me about it. And hey, being a positive inspiration, even if just a small one, is a great accomplishment in my book.

As you know, I intended on using this blog as a tool to motivate myself to train for the Des Moines Half Marathon in October. Throughout the past couple months, I have had serious doubts about whether or not I can complete the Half...but last week, I woke up one morning and decided that I'm ready. I'm ready to set the sights of my mind, body, and spirit on it, and ready to take training seriously.

As I commit myself to the Half, I ask that you put some thought into challenging yourself and perhaps, commit yourself to a fitness goal. It can be whatever you want...it's your goal after all, but I'd love for you to share it with me so I can help you get there as you're helping me reach mine. It's easier to get through the hard times and more fun to celebrate the good times when you have someone beside you :o)

And here we go....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why I run

In no particular order...

1.) Stress relief: It gives me a chance to have a mental conversation with myself without interruption. And I feel as though I am sweating the stress out of my body.

2.) Music: I love music. L-O-V-E. My body responds to it as it provokes specific emotions. Depending on how I feel, I choose a genre and ride the wave of emotions, be it happy or frustrated, which takes the focus away from my aching legs or lungs.

3.) Cardiovascular Health: Who wants to be the gal that gets winded playing with her kids? Not this girl.

4.) Speed: Because you never know when you'll need it...but at some point, you will.

5.) A Toned Body: Well, that's the goal anyways :)

6.) The Feeling Afterwards: It's a feeling of accomplishment that you can't ignore.

So tell me, why do you run?

Monday, June 13, 2011


I did it!

I ran 7 miles yesterday (in 1:16:38)! And I didn't die!

In fact, I even enjoyed myself!

The common theme of the advice that I'd received from my runner friends was to pace myself. I'm still not very good at it, so I started out slow knowing that I had a long ways to go. I felt great the first 3 miles, with the exception of some pain in my left ankle, I must have tweaked it early on. After 3 miles, it's as though I could hear my body say 'Wait a minute, it's time to stop...where are you going?'. It was used to running 5Ks. It protested, but I was able to quiet it down and made my first goal: To make it to the 4 mile mark without stopping to run. This would be a personal record for me, as I had only made it 3.5 miles before stopping. Between miles 3 and 4, I passed my brother and sister-on-law's house. It brought me back to when they first bought the house in the spring of 2008. Shortly after signing the papers, the house flooded and and the water was up to the top of their basement stairs. It was definitely not something that a young newlywed couple should have to deal with...and I felt my heart swell with pride as I remembered the cause for this race...to raise money for flood victims of 2008. I was even lucky enough to see Karen at the house as she was letting the dog out. I shouted her name and waved and kept on going.

I made it to mile 4, and set my 2nd goal: 5 miles without stopping to walk.

My left ankle was still sore and my right knee started to hurt, so I did my best to stay on the level part of the road and kept pushing. As I looked ahead of and around me, I saw people standing on their porches, waving or clapping for us. People would stop walking their dog to turn and cheer us on...and even a few drivers would clap as they were waiting for us to cross the street. My heart swelled and I made it to mile 5.

Unfortunately, shortly after passing the 5th mile marker, I had to stop and catch my breath, but after about 150 yards, I was good to go again. And you know what guys and gals....I finished the race without stopping again.

My friend, Michelle, who ran her first Dam to Dam 20K a week ago, told me that she experienced "Runner's High" when she finished...and when I crossed that finish line, so did I! Don't get me wrong, I was glad I was done, but I felt an energy that I hadn't felt in years...since track meets in high school. It was just as awesome as I remembered.

I did something I never thought I could do. And I'm 30! I keep going back to a memory from when I was in high school and my track coach, Lowell, made us run 3 miles to improve endurance (I'm sure there were some other reasons), and he had to pull me the last half mile. Fifteen years later, I still didn't finish the race alone...but this time, I wasn't being pulled.

Thank you, Tony, for encouraging me to push myself and not leaving my side on Saturday. Without you, I wouldn't have found out what I'm capable of.

(Pictures to come)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I hope I don't die

So, if you've been following my blog, you are aware that I have a race this Saturday. It's the Cedar Rapids Run the Flood, a new one for me. Races are fun. Typically, everyone is excited to run for the particular cause we are there for, some have personal records they are aiming for, and weaving in and out of the laughter and excitement is an adrenaline rush that eventually makes it's way to each and every participant.

Up until Saturday, I will have only run one mile races and 5Ks...this is a 7 mile race, folks, and I'd be lying if I told you that I'm excited for the race.

7 miles....7 miles.....7 miles....double a 5k....7miles...7 miles...I hope I don't die.

This is the string of thoughts that has been running through my head constantly the past few days...oh, and "What the hell was I thinking?!"

I know what I was thinking. When Tony told me about this race, he promoted it to me as a good training race to prepare me for the half marathon in October. That made perfect sense at the time because you have to build mileage in order to finish the 13.1 miles of the half marathon...but recently I've been shying away from committing myself to the half marathon. I won't go into the details because if you've been following me along this journey, you know the reasons.

You'll see in my Running Log that I haven't run in over a week, and I'll tell you now that I probably won't run again before Saturday's race. I have changed up my workout routine in hopes to bust out of the rut I'm in, but that change doesn't include running...unless I have a desire to log some miles. I've started a Spinning class and a weight lifting class at Aspen, and I'm hoping the change will boost my metabolism, improve my endurance, build muscle, and lose some inches. I'm not sure what it will do to my marathon training plan, but I'm having fun again, and right now, fun is what I need, or otherwise I will stop doing anything.

So, I ask that all of you out there think of me, offer any advice you may have...and if you dont' have any advice, prayers are very much appreciated. Prayers that I won't die Saturday, that I'll finish the race, that I'll find the fire within me that I need right now, and that I'll make a decision on the half-marathon so I can pull myself out of limbo are all accepted :o)

Thanks guys :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why weight?

Okay, quick review of Saturday's race: Ran the 5K, forgot to set my timer, so guesstimate time was 31:30 because we had to stop for traffic twice. Was windy as hell, group consensus was that we had a head wind for 80% of the race. And it was chilly. BUT I finished my first REAL 5K of the season (let's be honest, the Bar Run was not a real 5K because it was interrupted by alcohol and food...AWESOME time, but definitely not a real race). So I finished my first 5K of the season and was rewarded with a giant piece of apple pie a la mode...YUM!

I want to turn the focus to a topic that has been weighing heavily on my mind lately (pun intended)....the female obsession with weight and our negative perceptions of our bodies. My personal struggle started back when I was a teenager. I started comparing myself to the girls in Seventeen magazine and the girls on TV, and then of course the girls in school. Fortunately, I loved being active so burning calories came naturally. I have an athletic build, so I frequently heard comments about my "guns" and my strong legs...which looking back now, is pretty cool...but rather than embracing my athleticism and being proud of it, I was embarrassed. I didn't want to be "strong" because another word for "strong" is "thick" and "thick" meant "fat" in my mind. I wanted to be dainty, I wanted to be thin. You have to remember that Kate Moss was the ideal woman, so the "waif" look was in.

I'm sure you're all thinking, "Okay Danielle...no epiphanies here...tell us something we don't already know" so let me tell you know that there won't be any epiphanies...just some things that hopefully you can reflect on. Besides, this is my blog right? Which pretty much means that most of these blogs are brain dumps...

Anyways....so a marriage and 2 kids later, I still struggle with my body image. So much that I have sent myself into anxiety attacks over the first signs of "muffin top". My anxiety comes from my frustration that only 4 months ago, I was a size 2. I was the smallest/thinnest I have ever been...and my desire to get back there has been overwhemling to the point of unhealthy. I easliy forget that the reason I lost all the weight was due to a high level of anxiety and circumstantial stress, so I had no appetite and only ate so I had enough energy to be able to run over my lunch. I forget the frustration I had every morning because I couldn't find anything that fit, everything would just hang off of me. I remember the comments from Yashmine that I had become the typical WG (White Girl)...meaning I had no booty. And again...I WASN'T happy! As I began to heal, the appetite came back (Tony's cooking helped with this, of course), and I began to enjoy life outside the gym again. I now understand what the phrase "Fat and happy" means now, but the "happy" is starting to be hidden by the shadow of a growing poor body image.

The funny thing is...if another female friend of mine comments on how she looks, I'm the first to stop her and tell her that she looks great and that I wish I had her curves...which is true! Curves are beautiful...they're what make a woman attractive. But why can't I appreciate mine? So I want to throw this out to the ladies reading my blog...or heck, you guys can chime in too about your frustration with women and our obsession with our looks. Ladies, why do we look at each other and think, "I wish I looked like her"? I mean, think about it...odds are there is someone out there that has thought that about you...yet we continue to criticize ourselves. So if you have an opinion, please share. Hopefully we can work together to keep each other in check.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I ain't skeered of no rain....

The treadmills were full today. As I walked by them, my excitement to run in  the rain and thunder grew. I LOVE TO RUN IN THE RAIN. A rainstorm is actually my ideal weather condition for a good run. People look at me like I'm crazy when I announce this, so let me explain.

When it's not raining, the air is still and the sun is usually beating down, a combination that produces heat, and lots of sweat. So in the still, hot air, I am left to try to think about how awesome I feel while running, how all the hard work is going to pay off and eventually I will have rock hard legs and no more cellulite. Pffftttt.....Yeah right! Sorry, I couldn't even type that with a straight face. Don't get me wrong, I TRY to think these things, but I always end up thinking the same thing "This sucks. My legs hurt."

But the rain....the rain, my friends, is the perfect distraction. I love the feeling of getting pelted in the face and legs and arms by cool raindrops. And when it's raining so heavy that I have trouble seeing because my hair is so drenched that the rain is dripping into my eyes...I am in Runner's Heaven, if there is such a place. Because while I'm focusing on the rain drops, I'm not thinking about my sore legs or the heat, and before I know it, I've already put in some decent mileage.

Is it all making sense now?

Yeah, so clearly I didn't hate today's run...Yay! Mini-victory for me! Actually, I can say that I don't hate running this week. I even signed up for a 5K on Saturday. I've had two 3.3 mile runs this week, and with a Zumba class tomorrow and a short run on Friday, I feel confident that I will earn that piece of pie at the end of the race.

All together now....Hip hip hooray for motivation!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

And......I'm 30

I said farewell to my 20s on Saturday, and I did it in style by spending the weekend in Kansas City with some good friends of mine....who didn't let me forget that I was turning 30 :o) Thank you to everyone who wished me happy birthday via text or Facebook. Without my family and friends, my life wouldn't be worth living....or nearly as much fun! Stay tuned for an update on my running coming very soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grand Blue Mile Run

Everyone who has been around me the last couple weeks knows how excited I've been for this race. I ran it last year and was incredibly nervous, but ended up kicking tail. Last year, I had signed up for the Competitive Division, but then dropped out when I was logging 10-11 minute miles and it was recommended to have a sub- 9 minute mile pace. I ran in the Recreational Division, which was a lot of fun, and I ended up getting a time of 8:10 (that's 8 minutes, 10 seconds for you, Mom). I was extremely proud of myself and instantly became excited for the 2nd Annual Grand Blue Mile Run. I had planned on signing up for the Competitive division this year, but decided not to when my co-workers who I had convinced to sign up with me signed up for Recreational.

I was ready to blow away last year's time because I've been training much longer than last time. My goal was to get under 8 minutes.

The race ended up not going as smoothly as I'd hoped. It was windier than I remembered, and there were twice as many people registered this year than last year, which meant a lot more weaving in and out. I even had 2 instances where I almost ran into/tripped over a kid. Despite the announcer reminding the participants 37 times to line up with runners in the front, joggers in the middle, and walkers in the back....there were still walkers in the front that the runners and joggers had to dodge. Sorry to sound pretentious, but it was annoying and dangerous.


I was a little too ambitious and started out too strong, and by the time I was 3/4 done, the following thoughts went through my mind:
  • "It's windy out here, that kind of sucks"
  • "Am I even half-way yet?"
  • "Kid!"
  • "I have to pee"
  • "I'm tired"
  • "This isn't as much fun as I remember"
  • "Kid! Dammit, get out of my way!"
  • "I have to pee"
  • "How am I ever going to run a half marathon?"
  • "I really have to pee"
  • "Why don't I see the finish line, dammit?"
I ended up finishing in 8:30, which was rather disappointing, but a friend of mine pointed out to me that one of the elite runners commented that he thought the head wind cost him about 20 seconds, and he figured the heavy traffic added some time as well. So thanks, Jim, for making me feel a little better about the run. And I'm looking forward to it next year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another fallen hero...

On Saturday, April 23rd, another Iowan soldier was killed fighting for our country, the third one in 13 days. Learning of a soldier's death always weighs on my heart, this one weighs much heavier. Staff Sgt. James Justice was the husband of my close friend Amanda, and daddy of Abby and Sydney's friend, Caydence.

I can't shake the memory of receiving AJ's (Amanda) call. I almost didn't answer because I was in the middle of a card game, but I did because she doesn't call just to chat. We work next to each other 40 hours a week, there's no need to. My cheerful "Hey, what's up?" was greeted with a cracked and quiet "Hi". I knew something was wrong...but the news that she was about to share hadn't even crossed my mind. James hadn't been in Afghanistan very long, a little over a month. This was his fourth tour,  he knew what he was doing. He knew better than to put himself in harm's danger. He was James Justice, always a party, but could easily turn bad-ass serious when necessary. It's not that bad over there...aren't they just playing with the children? These were all thoughts that immediately went through my mind, the last one I'm particularly ashamed of.

My thoughts of denial were reflected in my response: "No AJ, he can't be. Are you sure he's not just missing? Are they sure it's him?" And I didn't believe it until the press conference Sunday night.

It was him.

I've always appreciated the men and women who are fighting for my freedom and security so I can go to work and take my daughters to the park without worrying about our safety, but losing James and seeing the swollen red eyes and tear-streaked faces of his family on Sunday was a painful reminder of how expensive the cost for my freedom and safety is. It's sad how de-sensitized to the war we have become. When it started, 9 long years ago, we were vocal with our patriotism and pride in our troops...but over the years, we have gotten caught up with our own lives and routines and forgotten that there are still men and women fighting a war, not only fighting for us, but fighting for the innocent civilians in these countries. And living among us are the families who have graciously sacrificed their time with their loved ones so we can spend time with ours. James' sacrifice woke me up to the fact that there are men and women who die for our country every day. Every day, families receive the same news that Amanda and James' parents received on Saturday. Every day, there is a fallen hero that goes unnoticed.

Staff Sgt. James Justice was a husband, a father, a son, an uncle, and a best friend. He loved to remind AJ how lucky she was to have him...and he was right, we were all lucky to have met him and shared in his laughter. My favorite memory is the last time I saw James. He was making a trip out to Wal-Mart and he was wearing his sweatpants that were pulled up to the tops of his combat boots. I teased him about his outfit before he left, and when he returned from the store, he jokingly told his wife of all the underage girls that were hitting on him because of his sexy outfit. AJ rolled her eyes at her husband, unsuccessfully holding back a smile. My older daughter, Abby, remembers him as "a good dinner-maker, and funny". We all have our own memories of James that will now be our last.

James, I'm sorry I never had a chance to thank you for the sacrifice you made for me and the ones I love. However, it is a sacrifice that will never be forgotten.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

At least I'm running...

My mileage is low, but at least I'm running, right? Right?

[Those damn crickets again]

Okay, so I'm making every excuse in the book, I know. The truth is that as the scheduled run approaches, my motivation wanes. My body tires, I get hungry, and Ifind "other" things I "need" to get done. It's frustrating because I used to love to run. I used to look forward to it from the moment I woke up until I was done, and then I would start looking forward to the next run. I used to watch the clock in anticipation for it to be time to go to the gym, and now I watch it with dread.

What's wrong with me?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Slow Start

So I'm off to a slow start. I'll contribute it to the weather (sucking by the way), this damn headache, or even my period....but I know the truth, it's all me. I'm still struggling to get that motivation back. I ran two 3 mile stretches last week and made decent times. On Monday, my time was 32:09 (9:39 pace) and the wind was brutal. The wind was better on Wednesday and I ran it in 31:00 (9:19 pace). I've decided to focus on the Grand Blue Mile Run that is next Tuesday, so I'm going to shorten my runs. Off I go to run a mile!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome to my blog!


A couple months ago, my co-worker, we'll call him "Al", and I were talking about running because we noticed each other on the treadmills over our lunch break. We established that he runs a lot faster and farther than me, and he challenged me to sign up for a half marathon. Because I have a really hard time turning down a challenge, and have "running a marathon" on my bucket list, I decided to accept his challenge. For those of you who don't know, a half marathon is 13.1 miles. I can currently run 3 miles...and yes, I'm at my peak.  I have decided on the Des Moines Half Marathon, which is on October 16th, 2011, so that gives me a little over 6 months to train. I'll be honest,, I'm not quite ready to commit to the race, so I have yet to sign up. Being at 3 miles right now, 10 more miles seems.....brutal. And because I first started talking about doing this a couple months ago, and my mileage hasn't picked up, I decided to start this blog to help hold myself accountable...because who wants to disappoint their mom or anyone else who will actually take the time to follow this? Not me.

So....here I go. I'm turning 30 on April 30th, and I have 6 months to train for a half marathon. But I can't run today, or tomorrow.....yeah....motivation is definitely needed!