Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lessons To Learn

There are many things in life I want.  I want to run faster.  I want to lift heavier.  I want opportunities to open up in my fitness career.

So often I get frustrated, hurt and very down on myself when things happen that I don't expect.  Or things DON'T happen that I hope for.

This morning I was feeling this way. Then I saw this:
A photo posted by Glennon Melton (@momastery) on

Yep.  I need to stop banging my head on doors that haven't opened yet despite how hard I've slammed up against them.  Maybe, just maybe there is another door very close by that is just waiting for me to walk up and open.  In fact, I would bet that door is just a few mere moments away.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Motivation Monday

HAPPY Motivation Monday!!

 Here are two pictures:

This is my current before/after. The first one was taken December 26, 2008. I was at my heaviest and most miserable. The second picture was taken on Saturday, December 6, 2014. One month into my Isabody Challenge. I'm at my healthiest and most fit - at 41 years old.

 If I can make this change, anyone can. Subscribe to my blog using the sign up on the left and I will send you a free workout and nutrition information. I look forward to hearing from you and sharing more of how I was able to make this happen!

Happy Monday!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Motivation Monday

Usually when I talk about motivation, it is related to running or working out.  But this Motivation Monday is about both my physical and financial health.  These two types of health are intimately related.  Read on for my explanation.

When I am stressed, I don't take care of myself as I should.  The body has stress hormones which, over long periods of time, are also not good for the body.  Over time being anxious about finances and income create a negative physical impact on every part of the body.  While exercise can help mitigate this stress, it isn't going to cure it.

This is my vision board.  This is my motivation piece.  This reminds me that I have goals and that I have a way to achieve those goals.  It is only up to me and my willingness to work hard.  So no matter what goals you have - create your board.  Remind yourself daily what you want to create and achieve in your world.

Then go out there and get it.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Best Nutrition = Amazing Results

When you put together the best nutrition with determination and a willingness to work hard, the results can be surprising.  

I took this picture this morning.  As the holiday season hits full swing, I plan on coming back to this picture as a reminder of what can be accomplished when I stay on track.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Concussions and Losing Focus

It has been a challenging week.  I've been trying to stay on top of my nutrition and this week was definitely NOT a win in that column.

I've completed two weeks of my IsaBody Challenge.  I was doing better through week one.  I finished the week with a one day cleanse and felt awesome.  I started into this past week with lots of excitement.  The first part of the week was strong.  I am more confident about lifting heavier weights.  I completed my second CrossFit WOD and felt amazing.  65 lb PushPresses in sets of 12 was one component of the workout and I was able to do it 6 times.  My shoulders were less than thrilled but I was pumped.  That was Monday.

Then Thursday happened.  I was knocking out a bunch new life organizing tasks when I got a call from my middle daughter, K's, school nurse.  The calm in her voice immediately set off alarms in my head.  "Your daughter fell during recess.  She hit her head on the concrete.  She is not able to remember her last name or her birthday...."  I don't really remember what was said after that.  I was running around the house at high-speed gathering items to take with me to the emergency room.  My baby had a concussion.  I was terrified.  I called my best friend on the way to the school and vented my anxiety and fear.  I got to the school and my daughter couldn't even really walk.  Her speech was slurred and very, very slow.  We got her to the car and then I calmly drove her to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - Scottish Rite ER.  Within 45 minutes we were in a room.  Dr. Martin Belson was our pediatrician and he is the best.  He confirmed that my original instinct was correct and that K had a concussion.  Over the next 6 hours K slowly improved.  Her speech pattern picked up, she was finally able to smile, she started to recall some basic facts.  She still couldn't remember her birthday or how old she is, but the facial animation and the fact that she was hungry and hadn't vomited was huge.  We were released that evening and sent home with orders to see our pediatrician the next morning.

K continued to improve that evening.  But, as you might expect, my own welfare went onto the back burner.  I focused on keeping rooms dark, quiet and as non-interactive as possible.  She still wasn't able to walk, so she slept with me Thursday night so that I could carry her to the bathroom if needed.  Our regular pediatricians at Children's Medical Group checked her out on Friday morning and confirmed the diagnosis again and told us not to worry about the speed of her progress as long as she doesn't backtrack and begin vomiting or having more severe headaches.  I was able to switch off parenting duties with her Dad and took my mind off of the situation by going to the gym and doing my normal Friday training and coaching classes.  By Friday evening K was able to walk and by Saturday late morning she was saying she didn't have a headache anymore and her vision was back to normal.

Once K was firmly on the road to getting better, I was able to relax.  And realize I hadn't eaten very much since Thursday morning and still taught a pretty challenging Saturday BodyPump and CXWORX class set.  I was exhausted.  I napped a good part of Saturday alongside K and went to bed at the same time she did.

Today I decided to take my measurements as a check-in.  As I expected, I've lost weight.  I'm down to 111 lbs.  I know that I need to work on getting that number back up.  But, to my surprise, my bicep and thigh measurements are up!  I didn't expect that at all!  More proof that the nutrition I am taking in is doing its job.  I just have to be more consistent about fueling.

This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.  And marathons are something I KNOW I can crush.

Thanks for checking in!  For more information on the nutrition I'm using to create my change check this out.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Isabody Challenge: The Beginning

This week I signed up for the IsaBody Challenge.  It is 16 weeks long and I'm excited to see what the next four months bring.  I chose to focus on Energy and Performance.  I know that overall I want to gain more strength and build lean muscle.

My overall goals are nothing new.  I have been working on gaining lean muscle mass and strength for the past few months.  For this challenge, I have a very specific purpose.  I also want to maintain my health through the holidays and, more importantly, the first part of the New Year.  My life is undergoing some significant changes and change naturally bring on stress and anxiety.  That is how life goes.  I know that one of my automatic responses during these types of situations is to not take care of myself.  I push my focus outward and will neglect and ignore simple things like eating.  I push myself too hard, turn all my attention to my kids and find myself sick and injured.  I joined this challenge because it will force me to stay aware of my body, my needs and take care of myself on a daily basis.  This is my commitment to being good to me.

My goal for the challenge:  maintain my weight and health.  It is isn't specifically measurable, but it is truly invaluable. 

Let's do this!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014 Recap

October 12, 2014

Walking up North Columbus toward the starting line the cold wind took my breath away.  I was still in a state of disbelief that I was making my way to the beginning of THE Chicago Marathon.  I had started my training hoping to achieve a sub-4 hour marathon.  A lofty goal for anyone that isn't naturally gifted with endurance running speed.  Looking at some recent data, approximately 25% of marathon runners (in major races) are able to finish in under 4 hours.

My training had fallen off course so that goal was no longer realistic.  After struggling to complete my long runs and trying to get my nutrition on track I decided to talk to my Triathlon Coach, Mari, and get her take on how to approach the race.  Her advice, and one I had already been toying with, was to go 100% by feel race day.  To collect data, I could use my Garmin, but I shouldn't use that as a way to pace myself.  Instead, I was to use my perceived exertion and a flexible game plan of how hard I wanted to push at certain mile points.

My goal was simple.  Beat my current PR of 4:19:58.  I had a secondary goal of beating 4:10:00, but that was only if I was feeling good during the race.

My game plan looked like this:

  • Start with the Corral behind my assigned corral of F.  I know I start slow and in order for me to be true to my natural running form, I need to start with a group that has a slower pace.
  • Miles 1 - 3: It should feel a little bit uncomfortable, but allow my legs to get warm and loosen up.  No pushing hard, no matter what.
  • Miles 4 - 16: Every run interval should feel challenging, but maintainable.  It should feel FUN.  I should be able to high-five kids, look around at the buildings and neighborhood and enjoy the race.  Fuel using Gu at miles 5, 10 and 16.
The rest of the plan was purely dependent on how I was feeling during the race.  If I was feeling good and ready to try to push, then I was going to use this strategy

  • Miles 16 - 20: Every run interval should be HARD.  I should be ready for each walk break.  Keep arms swinging during the walk intervals.  Remember Mirinda Carfrae's form as she ran the marathon portion of her IronMan Championship win.  Try to keep that form.  Start drinking the Nuun Water I had on my hydration belt in addition to using the water stations.
  • Miles 20 - 26: Change playlist to the fast BPM (Last 6 Miles on my Spotify Playlist) and just keep the tempo with my feet.  No matter what, keep the turnover quick and steady.  Take in a Gu at mile 21.
  • Mile 26 - Finish:  All out.  Don't stop.  Pick it up and finish strong.

At the beginning of the race I felt really strong and confident that the race would be fun.  The atmosphere was electric, excited and pulsing with adrenaline.

I met another runner, Anna, who had traveled from Hamburg, Germany to experience this race.  She and I connected immediately and we started talking about our goals for the race and our previous races.  She had run one marathon and I told her this was my fifth.  She snapped this picture for me as we started moving en masse toward the start line.  As we crossed the start line we high-fived and promised to talk in the Hospitality Tent after the race was done.

The Race

I stuck to my plan.  My first few miles were about getting warmed up and comfortable.  I only pushed a little bit so that I wouldn't completely tank my overall pace.  By mile 3 I was in a good rhythm and felt strong.  I was giving high-fives to all the  kids (and some adults) and smiling ear-to-ear.  It stayed that way all the way through mile 15.

The Decision

As I approached the half-way mark I knew it was time to decide what I wanted to do for this race.  I was feeling good, my hamstrings were tight, but I knew that was going to happen.  I wasn't in pain and I felt like I had plenty of reserves left.  I gauged my mental state and knew that if I went for a good over all time, it was going to hurt.  It wasn't going to feel "good" - but I had listened to an interview with one of the Kenyan elite athletes and he did a wonderful job talking about how he is able to finish as well as he does, he said something along the lines of this:

It hurts.  Of course it does.  But, everyone else is hurting, too.  If you want to do well, you just keep pushing forward.

I decided that I could go for the best time possible - whatever that might be.  I wasn't using my watch to check my pace and I wasn't using the elapsed time displays at each mile to track my individual mile paces.  I was running 100% by feel and I loved the freedom.

I picked up my pace around mile 16.  I focused on good form.  I had the mental image of Mirinda Carfrae running in my mind to emulate.  Mile 19 came up and I switched my playlist to my Last Six Miles playlist on Spotify.  I dug in and just kept my feet moving with the beat of every song.  I wasn't smiling and I was very intense.  I had a single purpose and I was there to make it happen.  I didn't look around, I turned my vision inward.  Miles 23 and 24 felt like the longest miles of my life.  When I saw Mile 25, I knew I could keep going strong and steady.  I was SO tempted to check my watch and see my time.  I didn't.  I didn't want to be disappointed.  I knew I had run a solid race and I didn't want anything to take that away from me.  Towards the end, there were more frequent distance markers.  Now they said 1500 meters to go!  1000 meters to go!  At this point I had run out of my playlist.  No more music.  Just me, the cheers of thousands of spectators and my sole desire to finish as fast as possible.  I focused on making my feet move faster.  Quicker turn-over.  I let the joy from the people lining the streets fuel my momentum.  I ran next to one guy for a few seconds.  He was struggling.  He had another friend next to him cheering him on, too.  I looked at him and said, "We are almost there.  Don't stop.  You can't stop.  You are SO CLOSE."  He smiled at me and then I kept going.

The finish line was up ahead.  I saw it and my heart just started leaping.  I ran faster.  As I approached the line I threw my hands into the air.  I did it.  I ran MY RACE.  Start to Finish, I did what I wanted to do and what I had hoped to do.  Then I stopped my watch and I started to cry.  I had no idea what my time was before that moment.  I looked down and saw:


That is 17 minutes and 25 seconds faster than my previous best time.  I had not only made a new PR, I had crushed my goal of 4:10:00.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of myself in that moment:

I think my smile says it all.


For the first time since I started running races, I have zero regrets about how my performance.  I wouldn't change a single thing about how I ran my race.  I was able to get a massage immediately after the race was done and went through a great yoga sequence on Monday morning.  Between those two activities and lots of water and refueling, I was able to come back to Atlanta and jump right back into teaching my BodyPump, CXWORX and BodyCombat classes - along with teaching a bonus Spin class Tuesday morning.

Here is what I've learned from this entire experience:

  • It's okay to start slow.  I am runner that naturally achieves negative splits.  I am going to stop fighting that gift by trying to push too hard too fast.
  • With serious training and a running coach, I could qualify for Boston.  I was able to knock 17 minutes off of my time in spite of the fact my training hadn't been optimal.  I need to knock at least another 17 minutes off to qualify, but with the proper help, motivation and accountability, that can definitely happen.
  • I love Chicago.  I'd move there in a second.  I know the winters are cold, but they were cold in Massachusetts, too.
Anna and I caught up after the race was over.  She had a phenomenal race as well.  As we walked back towards our hotel/condos we stopped at a bridge and she snapped a few pictures.

Thanks for stopping in!!