The Happiness Project – February

For 2017, I am blogging my way through Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Read here to see my intro post.

img_0133

About a week ago, last weekend to be exact, I began preparing this post. I went through the February chapter of The Happiness Project and picked out what quotes I wanted to use, and marked down the techniques that Rubin identified to improve her marriage, and then I actually interviewed my own husband to see if he felt that our marriage could also be improved. If you’re not reading the book, she chose:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

I went through each one and explained what she meant and asked him, no getting-in-trouble, no-penalty-assigned, if he felt that I was weak in those areas. As I went through each item, he reflected and thought and then said that, no, I really did a good job with all of them.

Keep in mind that we’ve only been married (nearly) 5 years, and also, I did extensive therapy prior to marrying him.

In the spirit of the project, I asked him if there was anything other than what Rubin chose that could make our marriage better. He was silent for a bit, mulling it over, and then said slowly, “You know, really? The only thing that makes me … not upset, but frustrated, with you? You take on everyone else’s problems. You’re so busy worrying about the kids and school and me and making sure everyone is safe and happy and taken care of, that you get really overwhelmed and strung out. I wish you could just relax and not care so much.”

Wait for it.

So, as I mentioned in my first post, my first attempt at this blog series ended abruptly in February, 2010, when my life completely imploded without warning. There I was, working my way through February, ready to make my marriage my focus of the month, and my (then) husband decided to relieve me of the project. Here I am again, February, and on the heels of that conversation last weekend, things went completely off the rails on several different fronts this week.

February is not so much my favorite.

I can’t elaborate on details. For one, some of this week’s circumstances are not my story to tell, and out of respect for my children, I won’t say anything other than sometimes life knocks the wind out of you. For another, some of this week’s developments are my burden to (directly) bear, but it is not in my best interest to share in a public forum.

I will just say that if my husband’s wish for our marriage is for me to relax, kick my heels up, and bring a little levity to the union, I will have to write him a big fat IOU on that one, because we’re in for a bumpy several months.

But lest you think February’s Happiness Project is a complete bust, I will say this about this month’s focus. If, as Rubin says, “The atmosphere of my marriage set the weather for my whole life” (39), then I will be okay. I will. Because, and I don’t say this with an ounce of exaggeration or melodrama, one of the very few areas of my life that is truly, madly, deeply right and healthy and safe right now, is my marriage. If, as they say, God does not give you more than you can handle, then I offer thanks to the universe for recognizing that, while I’m sure I would survive the current clusterfuck that is my life, I wouldn’t do so with nearly the fortitude or grace that I am.

If you can call deeming my life a current clusterfuck, “grace”.

 

Marathon by decree

As I wrote earlier this month, training for my only first marathon is on my agenda for 2017.

Let me elaborate.

Back in 2014, when I ran my very first half marathon, the crazy notion that maybe, just maybe, I could complete a marathon first occurred to me. The significance of even entertaining this endeavor is a post of its own (which I will write at some point), but suffice to say, I have been mulling it over for, literally, almost 3 years. For someone who tends to rush into graduate programs, mortgages and babies, this amount of reflection is indicative of just how intimidated I am by 26.2 miles.

Nevertheless,  I slowly began socking away money, because I knew, even then, that 1. I may very well be a “one and done” marathoner and 2. if I was going to do one marathon, it was going to be at Disney.

If you’re reading this, the odds are high that you’ve run at least one marathon (at least, when compared to the generally acknowledged statistic of 1% of the population that has run 26.2 miles). I have a lot of readers who found this blog through the running and triathlon communities, so maybe you’re thinking “oh, just you wait. Marathons are addictive. You’ll definitely do more than one.”

Maybe. But maybe not.

But there’s no uncertainty or hesitation in my desire to do my (potentially) singular marathon at Disney. I love Disney. Love. It. Beyond that, RunDisney is supposed to do a fantastic job at putting on the race, and it’s rookie-friendly. So, nearly 3 years ago, I began saving a bit of money each month. When I say “bit of money”, we’re talking less than a Starbucks coffee a day amount. Our budget is tight. We have 3 kids in private school, and “we” are teachers. But I committed to working on it. I threw some tutoring money in there. I saved my PTA Christmas bonus, every year. I taught an extra class in the summer, and split the extra between my Disney fund, and family vacations.

I knew, in 2014, that I wanted to go in 2018. It is the last year my oldest is living at home before leaving for college, and it is really important for me, as a mother, to have my kids see me complete this goal. That is also an entirely separate blog post, that I will also write.

But for now, please understand that my kids seeing my first marathon? Even if I go on to run 20 more and they see nary a one? Non-negotiable for me.

In 2014, when I began saving, Disney marathon weekend was the 2nd weekend of the month. As it was 2015. As it was 2016. So you can understand why it never crossed my  mind, as I saved for and fretted over this Herculean goal, that the Disney marathon in 2018 might be the 1st weekend of the month.

Also known as their Dad’s weekend.

You see where I’m going with this.

I wish I could say that asking my ex-husband to trade a weekend was a possible scenario, but it’s not. If you know me, you know why. If you don’t know me, just trust me.

So. Isn’t that just a kick in the teeth?

As someone who has a lot of practice reframing and turning lemons into lemonade, I decided that I would just find another marathon that is worthy of my  investment. I mean, there are some other awesome marathons out there – even if they’re lottery-entry, I’m sure I could find one that is kickass, and on my weekend, right?

Chicago marathon? His weekend.

NYC marathon? His weekend.

Marine Corps weekend? His weekend.

I literally spent about 45min the other night, thinking of marathons I could get excited about, googling them, checking my calendar, and then dejectedly returning to square one. I commented to my husband that race directors must all be divorced men who are looking to make the most of their 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends.

I kid. They’re probably divorced moms who need to work on the weekends that their exes have the children.

I’m sad, y’all. But truly, personal growth, because I’m not angry, or resentful, or shaking my fist at the powers that be that godDAMMIT divorce is just the gift that never stops giving. I don’t feel upset.

I just feel sad. Dejected. But resigned. It is what it is. This is part and parcel for my life. It’s a marathon, it’s not life or death.

But it matters to me.

So, where does that leave me? Right now, I’m leaning towards the Houston marathon in January 2018. It’s my weekend, and a 3 day weekend, so the kids won’t even miss school. I hear it’s flat, with good crowd support, and I’m sure it will still be meaningful and amazing and heck, I’ve got the money more than saved for the entry fee and hotel.

It’s just not what I’ve envisioned for the past 3 years.

 

The Happiness Project – January

For 2017, I am blogging my way through Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Read here to see my intro post.

img_0133

Boost Energy

Rubin begins her Happiness Project in January with “Boost Energy”. She notes, “research shows, being happy energizes you, and at the same time, having more energy makes it easier for you to engage in activities – like socializing and exercise – that boost happiness” (17-18). She decides on 5 key action items that will boost her energy.

Go t0 sleep earlier

Clearly, getting more sleep will (or at least should) give you more energy. This is a tough one for me, because I actually don’t miss out on sleep (that often) by staying up late surfing the web or watching television or otherwise wasting time. I’m pretty disciplined about going to bed at an octogenarian, embarrassing-to-admit, lights-out time of 9:30-10pm. 9:15pm if it’s been a long day.

I know.

But, in my defense, that’s because my alarm is usually set to a 4:35-5:05am rise and shine time (my Friday rest-day setting is a luxurious 5:30am) so I can get up and train before school. This schedule not only limits my hours of sleep because of the early wake-up time, but then I have a long busy day beginning with exercise, then a full day of work, then usually kid activities and events before heading home to make dinner and preparing to do it all over again.

I need those 7 hours of sleep, y’all.

I don’t think going to sleep earlier is an option for me, until I’m ready for the nursing home. But, I would like to tighten up my  wind-down routine. I’ve previously toyed with, and successfully engaged in for short spurts, the idea of plugging in my iPhone by 9pm to charge somewhere other than my nightstand, an arm’s reach away. Since my phone is also my alarm, I still want it in my  bedroom, but I think even moving it over to my bureau would help resist that temptation to surf Twitter, IG and Facebook (lather, rinse, repeat) right before bed.

Exercise better

Okay, unlike a significant portion of America, I don’t need the general “get more exercise” resolution to boost my energy. I get plenty of exercise thankyouverymuch. I’m already registered for a 15k and triathlon (would like to do 1-2 more, just haven’t decided yet), and am saving up (fingers crossed) for my first marathon.

I’m guessing I work out more than the average 42 year old mom of 3.

With that said, while I often approach the recommended 10,000 steps a day before my second cup of coffee, I spend the bulk of my day fairly sedentary. Yes, I do move (I work on the 4th floor and take the stairs every day after chapel, teach 2 classes every other day, and that back parking lot is a hike #facultyproblems), but it’s also not at all unusual for 60-90 minutes to pass several times a day, and I haven’t budged from my office chair while I grade essays, lesson plan, conference with students, answer emails, etc.

It’s bothered me, for awhile, but I haven’t been motivated to really focus on it.

In an effort to get my butt up on a more regular basis, I’m activating the “move!” alarm on my Garmin. I can definitely be more active at work, and it might help me feel more energetic and alert from 7:30-4:30pm.

Toss – Restore – Organize

Rubin devotes the most space in the January chapter to her “toss-restore-organize” goal. She writes how her apartment was over-run with clutter, how she felt limited and overwhelmed and psychically drained by the rarely-worn clothes and stacks of papers. She spends several pages describing her weekends devoted to cleaning out closets and cabinets, and implementing an “evening tidy-up” (33). She enthusiastically writes how she felt “uplifted and restored by her clutter clearing” (34).

She also describes her husband as a willing and enthusiastic participant. *side eye* *throat clear*

So… I am what my husband calls a minimalist. I’m not sure I entirely agree with this summation, which is okay, since he heartily disagrees with my labeling him a hoarder.

We can agree that I embrace “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, while he trends towards “he who dies with the most crap wins”.  We are not compatible in this area. At all.

Just for example, let’s compare our work areas/home offices. I use the dining room.

**I took these pictures exactly as they appeared tonight, Sun Jan 15th. There was no cleaning up or preparation for either room.**

You can see my school bag over on the hutch. That is where I deposit it, after emptying out my water bottle, lunch box, and coffee thermos, every single day. This is representative of how the dining room looks most of the time. When I pay the bills or work on my computer, I put everything on the table. Then put it all away.

Here is my husband’s library. Yes, he has his own dedicated library.

That about sums it up.

To my husband’s credit, he has improved a lot since we moved in together, and works regularly at purging. Our house might be fully purged and organized for our golden anniversary.

Tackle a nagging task

Rubin writes, “An important aspect of happiness is managing your moods, and studies show that one of the best ways to lift your mood is to engineer an easy success, such as tackling a long-delayed chore” (35).  Much like the “toss-restore-organize” action plan, I don’t need much improvement in this category. I’m not by nature a procrastinator, and I can actually be too dogged in crossing off my  to-do list. For example, the notion of blowing off my every-weekend chore list to relax and have a “Sunday Funday” (I hear people do that) is completely foreign to me. I am in a perpetual cycle of list-making and crossing-off.

Maybe an energy boost for me would involve being lazy? Ignoring my nagging tasks? In contemplating that, I feel a jolt of anxiety just considering it, which is certainly … energizing. I’ll have to mull that one over.

Act more energetic

Also known as, “fake it till you make it”. I am extremely familiar with this strategy; I’ve employed it effectively in parenting, in the workplace, as an athlete, and in a myriad of awkward social situations (my fellow introverts hear me). I have found that, in almost any situation, pretending that you feel a certain way, while not a magic elixir for the emotions, does help with effective implementation of the required actions. Rubin agrees; “Although a ‘fake it till you feel it’ strategy sounded hokey, I found it extremely effective” (36). .

So, by this logic, if I *act* more enthusiastic about heading off to a run or grading a stack of essays, I’ll not only have a larger reservoir of energy, but feel happier.

I’m skeptical, but for the sake of blog research, I’ll give it a shot.

So, January:

  • plug in my phone on my bureau (not nightstand) by 9pm. Ish.
  • use my move alert on my Garmin to be more active at work (and home on weekends).
  • act more energetic. Whatever that might look like.

Doing the Happiness Project with me? Feel free to post in comments what your action items are for January.

The Happiness Project

In January 2010, when I was still driving a minivan, I stumbled upon Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. At the time, I was in a life writing rut, and decided that I would blog my own journey following Rubin’s year-long project. For those of you unfamiliar with the book, in each chapter (divided into months) she concentrates on a different theme, or facet, of her life to improve.  I figured it would both give me some material to blog about, and perhaps inspire an evolution in my habits, relationships and routine. Imagine a cross between a virtual book club and online self-improvement project.

I stuck with it for about 6 weeks. Then February 14, 2010 happened. Literally overnight, “happiness” was no longer the goal. Survival was the name of the game.

my copy from 2010, only highlighted through February. In English class we call this “foreshadowing”.

Ironically, Rubin writes in the initial “Getting Started” chapter that, “One of my goals for the happiness project was to prepare for adversity – to develop the self-discipline and the mental habits to deal with a bad thing when it happened…I didn’t want to wait for a crisis to remake my life” (15).

Too little, too late, Rubin. Thanks for nothing. Perhaps if my ex-husband had decided to wait until Labor Day, or even July 4th, instead of Valentine’s Day, to end our marriage, I would have had better coping skills and handled the events of 2010 more gracefully.

Alas.

Seven years later, one of my goals for 2017 is to write more.  I remember my abandoned happiness project, the book unfinished (barely started), and think about the pervasive malaise of my friends and family coming out of 2016. The wary skepticism for 2017. The general dissatisfaction and frustration of so many, after the national, international and (for some) personal life events of the past year.

What about a happiness project redux?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m actually pretty happy. Truth be told, I relate far more to Rubin in her introduction now than I did in 2010. She shares the skeptical, surprised and bemused reactions of her husband, sister and colleagues as she explains that she wants to increase her happiness level. She writes,”just because I wasn’t depressed didn’t mean that I couldn’t benefit from trying to be happier” (7).

If I had to create a bar graph of my general happiness level over the past 42 years, I would rank my day-to-day emotional barometer over the past couple years towards the top. I’ve had dysthymia more often than not throughout my life (in layman’s terms, that means I trend towards an Eeyore outlook), so my sense of wellbeing most days still disconcerts me.

But still. There’s some life hurdles coming down the pike. Why not work on strengthening my emotional resiliency and wellbeing along with the physical? I ran my first half marathon 4 years ago but I’m still getting faster and stronger; why not work on the same with my psychological health?

Want to join me? Grab a copy of the book (now that it’s 7 years post-publication, I bet you can find it at Half Price Books or a similarly discounted price), and create your own version. I will be blogging about it at least once a month (shooting for two), in addition to my running and triathlon updates.

May we all find even more happiness in 2017.

2017

happy-new-year-2017-wallpapers-images-pictures-hd5

Happy New Year!

I think there are a lot of people exhaling that the dreaded 2016 is finally over, and looking forward to a fresh calendar year. The stroke of midnight like a tangible exorcism of last year’s demons, albeit with champagne instead of sage and resolutions replacing incantations.

Meh. I’m not all that excited for 2017.

Now, lest you think I’m just stubbornly clinging to the pervasive 2016 Debbie Downer mentality, I have my reasons. Sure, there are some exciting and anticipatory events on the horizon. We have a family spring break trip planned for March. I’m trying to work out the details to return to Yankee-land in July for a family wedding. I do have a pretty scary exciting fitness goal for 2017 (more on that in a minute).

But I have a hunch, somewhat reasonable and partly intuitive, that 2017 is going to bring the winds of change. For better or for worse.

I don’t like change. I would rather stay entrenched in known and predictable misery than face the unknown. True story: when I was a child, my mother would ground me*.  Only, she wouldn’t tell me how long I was grounded for. It might be 2 weeks. It might be 2 days. I didn’t know. This was far, far worse than the actual moratorium on Atari or television or sleepovers. I used to try to bargain with her that she could add on extra time to whatever number she had in her head if she would only tell me when my time was up. It was the purgatory that made the hell.

For a woman who, still, to this day, likes to call me her “brilliant Georgetown girl”, she’s clearly no dummy herself.

Anyway, most of these possible changes, I can’t blog about, for various reasons. I can say that my oldest will be applying to colleges in 2017, and will in all likelihood (fingers crossed) already have an acceptance or two under his belt by this time next year. That situation is particularly difficult for me (above and beyond the usual oldest-flying-the-nest hurdle), and I’m still hoping that there will be an amicable, non-litigious, resolution.

But I’m prepared for the alternative.

So, count me in the camp of giving 2017 more of a suspicious side-eye than celebratory squee.

With that said, I do have two goals for 2017.

One: train for a marathon. I have been saying for a couple years now that I would cross the 26.2 threshold in 2018. It seemed like a safe and comfortable horizon back in 2014. I blinked, and here I am, starting 2017, and realizing that the once far off shore is the next port of call. Since most marathon training plans are 3-4 months long, and I’m looking at marathons in the first month or two of 2018, the majority of my training will most likely take place in 2017.

So. 2017. Time to step up my running game.

On a smaller scale, I still want to do some sprint triathlons and shorter distance races in the meantime (I have a 15k in early February, and a triathlon on the books for the end of April).

Two: write more.

new-years-greetings-quotes-for-friends

I’ve always written, in various forms and fashions. I journaled as a tween and teenager. As an English major in college, I was always writing. I did the mommy blogger gig before it was even deemed “mommy blogging”. I’ve written for my eyes only, and, once upon a time, for an audience of several thousand viewers a month (in my previous incarnation).

I’ve always written. Except not so much the past few years.

So, I’d like to return to that. Some of my writing will appear on this blog, natch. If you’re interested in reading my ramblings, especially once I figure out my marathon plans (gulp!), feel free to subscribe (top right), especially if you’re visiting from Facebook. I’m not planning on promoting most of my blog posts on there in 2017.

But some of my writing will not be published in this corner of the internet. This is not a resolution for public consumption. Not yet, anyway.

Happy 2017, everyone. May it be bigger, brighter, and filled with more hope, love and optimism than that stinker 2016.

 

*a lot. All the time. I spent approximately 67.4% of my childhood and adolescence on restriction.

Sayonara

So, how about that 2016?

If you’re on social media, or heck, sitting around kvetching with family or friends, you have probably heard, even declared yourself, that 2016 was the worst. year. ever. Don’t believe me? See here.

Here’s the thing, though. It wasn’t. I mean, it hasn’t been a banner year. Certainly for some people I know, who have endured personal grief, loss or challenging circumstances, it has legitimately been one of the worst. I’m sure there are people out there, maybe even reading right now, whose 2016 was their version of my 2010.  I’m not talking about those versions of 2016. Y’all go ahead and give 2016 the trophy for the biggest loser.

I’m talking about this.  How our access to information, and groupthink catastrophizing, has led us to this mantra. Yes, many celebrities died. Yes, the election was a clusterfuck. Definitely, the violence, both domestically and abroad, is tragic. But we still have it pretty good. By we, I mean those of you (myself included) with internet access reading from your comfortable First World abode. For the record, I’m in pretty good company with this assertion.

So can we agree, on this last day of 2016, that while the year set the bar relatively low for 2017, it wasn’t a total wash?

Personally, when I look back at my resolutions for 2016, I discover that, beyond completing my triathlon and continuing to eat healthy, I didn’t really make any grand goals. This is a relief as I prefer apathy to failure.

I kid. Well, not really, but my lack of resolution making last year was purposeful. Still, I had a fairly productive year.

  • Miles run: 683 (much lower than last year’s 835, but #triathlon)
  • Miles biked: 898
  • Miles swam: 38 (okay, this number makes me giggle. Really? Remember when I won my OWS AG by 10 minutes.  If only running and biking came to me as naturally as swimming. I could be a triathlon SUPERSTAR).
  • Races: 2 half marathons, 2 triathlons, 1 15k,  1 5k, and 1 open water swim race.

I feel like that is a decent year, although in retrospect, it doesn’t seem like many races. I would love to do more, but I try to limit the impact of my midlife hobby on my family’s budget and weekend time.

I’m ending the year at the same weight I began (actually maybe a couple pounds lighter. I think. I’ve orbited the same 5-6 pounds since 2011, but I’m currently on the lower end of the range).

In other ways, 2016 had many other achievements, tangible and measurable, and otherwise. I completed my first year running a new program for the senior class, and it went as well as could possibly be expected (which is to say with 91 out of 93 completing it on time, which is statistically successful but not up to my 100% or bust standards).  I saw my girlfriends more than in previous years, and considering we have 19 kids between the 6 of us, that’s no easy feat (we even squeezed in a weekend getaway for a 40th birthday celebration. Not mine of course. I’m older than 4 of them. Bitches.). My kids continued to flourish and celebrate their own achievements, and my husband is wrapping up his year-long administrative leadership training program, and considering potential career trajectories.

There was a lot accomplished in 2016, despite the year’s bad rap.

Still, I’m not sad to say goodbye to 2016.

 

 

9 ways I shaved 9 minutes off my half marathon PR.

As I blogged last week, I was nervous for this race. I thought I could do well. I was pretty sure I was going to PR. But still. You never know.

On Sunday morning I ran the Dallas BMW half marathon with 20,000 ish other runners. The weather was perfect: overcast and 50 degrees with some drizzle and fog fading for the start. The wind gusts picked up the last few miles (I imagine it was less pleasant for the 26.2 people still out there), but I was able to run most of the race without feeling too much resistance.

I suppose there’s no need to build the suspense for how I did, since the title of this post is a clear spoiler. I shaved 9 full minutes off my previous PR, run at this same exact race in 2014.

check out that pacing #humblebrag

So how did I do it? After 2 years, two years spent consistently running and racing regularly, how did I have such a big drop in one race? I’ve thought a lot about it, and here are 9 contributing factors (I believe) led to that 9 minute PR.

I. My previous time wasn’t that fast. Let’s start with a dose of reality. I’m not a fast runner. I’m not even a fast runner for a 42 year old mother of 3. There are a lot of middle aged runners faster than me. I know from my years of swimming and coaching that you can only get big drops in time when there’s that lack of speed to begin with. I’m not being falsely modest, just practical and realistic. If I was running sub-2 hour half marathons, I would never see a drop like that. But my previous (5) half marathons were all run in the 2:26 to (cringe, altitude in Colorado) 2:35 range. I was bound to drop time at some point, amIright?

With that said, I still dropped a lot of time for me, which brings me to my next 8 points.

II. I took a break from the distance. When I discovered I could actually run 13.1 miles (in April 2014), I got a little addicted to medals running. In short order, I ran 4 additional half marathons (in less than 2 years). I grew weary, mentally and physically, of training for the long distance. I purposely took almost a year off from a half marathon race, to give my body and brain a break.

III. I played around with the Galloway run/walk method. I’ve raced some of my previous half marathons without walking at all, and finished some others with (exhausted) short stints of walking as I staggered through the last few miles. I’ve never done an entire training cycle with the dedicated intent to try out the run/walk method, thinking (full disclosure) that is for people who just aren’t tough enough to actually run all those miles. However, given my slow times with the “real” running, what did I have to lose by trying a training cycle with the run/walk?

I still did all my mid-week 3-6 mile runs (speedwork, tempo runs, easy miles) as straight runs, but practiced different run/walk ratios for my Saturday long runs. Eventually I settled on a 3 min run/ :45 sec walk ratio. As I practiced my long runs, I was shocked to discover that I was finishing 9, 10 and 11 mile runs in the 10:50-11 min/mile range without feeling like I was killing myself. Not only was my pace faster, but I wasn’t miserable.

Maybe that Galloway guy is on to something.

see? I smiled for the camera. Run/walk covert.

IVI worked on running faster during my mid-week runs. Yes, this is a no-brainer, but remember, I’m still relatively new to this running thing. Before I really committed to trying to lower my half marathon time, I completed my runs, but was not particularly motivated to work hard at them. I mostly stuck to the “novice” training plans, with suggested mileage, without a focus on speedwork. I figured out that I wanted to run my half somewhere in the 10:20-10:30 min/mile range, and started really working on the treadmill during the week at growing comfortable with that pace for 4, 5 and 6 mile stretches.

V. That triathlon training, tho. If I had to identify something really different about this year, versus my previous 2 years of half marathon training and racing, it was all that triathlon training during the 6-7 months before this latest 13.1 training cycle. From March through September, I only ran 3 days a week, but I was also swimming and biking several times a week. Remember, I completed an Olympic distance triathlon on Labor Day. I have to believe that had something to do with it. Also?

VI. For the first time, I actually did my strength training. Unlike my actual runs (which I am fairly militant about completing), I inevitably begin every race training cycle with the best of intentions about strength training. I conscientiously work in 10-15 minutes of planks, lunges and squats a couple times a week the first week or two…and then just sort of drop it. I don’t know what it is about that dang strength training, but I just can’t stick with it.

Until the past 2 months, when I diligently maintained my twice weekly planks and lunges. I still hated it. But I did it.

flying across the finish line. Tri training + strength training = strong finish

VII. I changed up my shoes. Previously, I’ve trained and raced in super cushy sneakers (or “kicks” as my husband calls them. Is that a Texan thing? I don’t know. Weird.). I oscillated between Brooks Glycerins or Saucony Rides. Don’t get me wrong, those are super comfy sneakers, and I still have mad love for them, but I discovered through my triathlon training that maybe I could pare down some of that extra bulk. I discovered the Saucony Kinvara and haven’t looked back.

VIII. I dropped a few pounds. Okay, I’m sure this is psychological more than anything else, but I lost 3-4 pounds, not that I was dieting or trying to reduce my size, but I’m constantly retooling my diet to figure out what makes me feel better during workouts, and keeps my energy up during the day.

IX. I nailed my pre-race week nutrition. I was very regimented the entire week leading up to the race with what I ate. While I’ve figured out what works for me in general as far as nutrition (see VIII), I went into race mode earlier than usual for this half. No desserts, no booze, and carefully planned dinners with a mix of healthy carbs and protein.

Do I believe that not drinking any alcohol or eating any cookies for 7 days before running a half marathon directly correlates to a 9 minute drop? *shrug* It couldn’t hurt.

So that’s it. Nine ways I think I had an amazing race on Sunday.

Next up? A 15k in February, and then it’s time to plan my triathlons!