Long Weekends are for… #ConfessionsofanAthlete

I just love long weekends. It’s a great time to take a break from the hustle and relax. In my case I relaxed by getting in some good quality time at the gym.  Here’s a quick recap of my long weekend:

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Saturday kicked off with a 10 mile bike ride followed up by 6.65 mile run in honor of Meg Cross Menzies. Meg was tragically killed by a drunk driver and runners and non runners from across the country dedicated their run/walk/bike to Meg’s memory and family.

Sunday, was a bit crazy.  My legs were dying from Saturday’s training session but I got back out there for 7.1 miles at a comfy and consistent 7:30ish pace.  I was so tired but some how I kept going. I’m crediting my biking for having more endurance. My legs feel tired but have not had that led feeling yet.  Hmm..I wonder?

I followed up my running with some strength training. Here’s where things get crazy…. My bodybuilding friends are always giving me grief for my skinny legs. So after some upper body stuff I threw down some squats. Shut those guys up by squating 4.5 times my body weight x 10 reps. 7 plates (45lb plate) on each side (initial lift started with 180lbs).

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On Monday, my legs were fried.  I hit the treadmill for an easy 3.3 mile recovery run and then I hit the pool.  I swam a mile and took my time.  I have no idea how long it took me….honestly I don’t.  The focus was on form and getting in a full mile.  It was nice to chill and the water helped my body relax.

That was the weekend..hope ya’ll had a great three day weekend as well.

See ya on roads.

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Running Changes Everything…Really?

The Shamrock Shuffle has come and gone, but for a while it was a race that I was never going to run. Don’t get me wrong I love the Shamrock Shuffle, but over the last couple of months I was no longer in love with running or anything associated with it. You might be thinking burn out from too much running. No, not really. Honestly the main issue had everything to do with my separation from my former FF Racing Team. I don’t plan on going into detail about it but let’s just say the mantra of “Running Changes Everything” seemed like a cruel slap in the face.

Feeling betrayed coupled with not enjoying my training sessions placed me in a foul mood. My focus has been on other things. Such as family, work and finding balance in life. Running has always helped me relax and placed me in a Zen state, while racing has helped me channel my extra energy into positive outcomes. But now Running had become a stressor in my life. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve and I clearly was bothered by the betrayal of my former team.

I made a decision to run the Shamrock Shuffle the week leading up to it, but mentally I wasn’t committed. On the eve of Shamrock Shuffle the only concern I had about the race was waking up at 3:30am …. Damn I forgot how early that is…lol. I had not even bothered to go through any pre-race rituals, hydration and/or nutrition traditions. I was enjoying hanging out with the family and getting more important things accomplished. Then after an innocent conversation, I had a revelation and my attitude took on a different outlook.20130411-152441.jpg

On the morning of Shamrock Shuffle I was prepared to let it all hang out. I was mentally committed to go fast and I had planned to add a minute rest period to my pace in miles 2, 3.1 and 4. Leading up to the Shamrock I had not worked on any speed training (I knew I could hit a 7:20 minute mile but nothing under that). I wanted to conserve as much energy to let it rip as I made the turn onto Michigan Avenue. Getting into the Corrals was pretty easy and I couldn’t wait to get started. Normally when I’m in Corral A or B I feel out of place. Like I don’t belong with these fast folks, but this time around I didn’t worry about any of that. As soon as we started I was off. Almost immediately I passed one of the Shamrock Shuffle Green men. Then I was behind the Dick Pond Fast Track Team. In the past I would have doubted my abilities and backed off from hanging with the fast pack, but this time around I was committed to staying with the pack.

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Along the course I felt really comfortable. I’ll be honest my Garmin was acting up so I had no clue what pace I was running and I didn’t know how much time had passed before my corral started. I did spot the clocks along the course but I wasn’t paying attention to time. I ran on feeling. I felt great. I felt free and more importantly I felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I started my surge as soon as I hit mile 4.  As I positioned myself for the final turn I saw members of my former team and the sense of betrayal and anger started to bubble up again.

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But I turned those emotions into positive momentum and started to take them out one at a time. I have no clue who they were and frankly I don’t care. I was running for myself. I was focused on the road ahead. I knew if I wanted to obtain my main goal this fall I needed to let the past go, run harder, think smarter, and stop fearing my potential. When I made the turn onto Roosevelt I was cruising. As I approached the finish line I saw the time and was dumbfounded by the results. I knew I ran well but I didn’t expect to finish in 33:01. I’m not trying to brag (it’s not in my nature), but I didn’t feel I ran that fast.

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The Shamrock Shuffle was a race I almost didn’t run, but I’m glad I did. I might not run another race until the Chicago Marathon, but on Sunday I closed the chapter on the past. More importantly I gained confidence, a sense of clarity and my outlook on the road ahead is full of potential-in all facets of life.

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Pre Race Half Marathon Meal

If you are like me and have a 24/7/365 life style and don’t have extra time then eating healthy is more of a chore then a way of life.  Well The following recipe is a great example of preparing a healthy dinner within a reasonable time frame.

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The Greek Chicken Pasta meal was prepared on the eve of my First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon.  Easy, delicious and healthy.

Running Changes Everything-Seize the Day!

Greek Chicken Pasta via @Allrecipes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 (14 ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lemons, wedged, for garnish

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the artichoke hearts, tomato, feta cheese, parsley, lemon juice, oregano and cooked pasta. Stir until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with lemon wedges.

Abe Cortes, http://www.twitter.com/Abe_Cortes

Lacking Motivation? Then Challenge yourself…is it in you?

I hear a lot of people complaining about not being motivated. Everywhere you go, you see people trying to get motivated to do something.  Trying to make a change.  Trying to get on the right track.  People will read motivational books and/or attend conferences or tweetups and come away feeling “Motivated.” But motivation is fleeting.  The answer to dealing with  motivational blues is having Discipline.

For me Discipline is Consistent, Habitual and Rare.  Discipline is hard work.  It takes planning and patience to achieve short, medium and long term goals.  It’s something that we have to consistently work at and with this consistent dedication we are able to see the fruit of our labor.

To avoid motivation blues I find fun ways that challenge my competitive spirt. Things that allow me to me to create a plan for short, medium and long term goals. For example, in March I’m joining the Further Faster Forever Badge Challenge sponsored by Road ID. The Further Faster Forever Badge Challenge combines social media with your everyday fitness routines.

This is how it works:  The Challenge runs between March 1-17th. There are a number of badges that can be earned for a single fitness achievement or in combination with another challenge.  For example you can earn the Run EMZ Badge by running 10+ miles on a treadmill. Once you complete the challenge, email, tweet or post your achievement on the various F3 social media platforms.  Then upload your badge onto your face book, Tweet and/or blog and brag about your accomplishment(s). The Challenge is about pushing yourself to the next level, so pick a badge or five and get after it. Plus those who earn the most badges are eligible for some cool prizes.  Be sure to check out the F3 website for all the rules, instructions, and prize info.

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So are you feeling motivated? Well show me…stop making excuses and start taking action.  Check out the Further Faster Forever Badge Challenge sponsored by Road ID and make your work out count.

I’m eyeing a few badges..how about you? Drop me a note and let me know which badges your aiming for.