Just Random Thoughts After a Long Day

On Tuesdays I teach SoulBody Barre Unhitched early in the morning and later in the evening. In between those two classes I work at my regular job. It makes for a very long day, yes, but I do enjoy it. I would have to work on a Tuesday anyway, and if I wasn’t teaching I’d be doing a workout at home or running. So why not make it a party and invite others to join me, and get paid for it?! I do love my job, if I didn’t I wouldn’t still be in the same field after this many (>20) years. However, leading a group exercise class is my favorite!

If I could teach group exercise, run with friends, do yoga on the beach, and play with my dogs (and invite others’ dogs over for play dates) all day every day, I’d be in heaven. I need to find a way to make a living out of all of these things combined, and still find time to blog because I enjoy that as well!

Have a great day.

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Tuckahoe 25K Training Has Begun!

I have not run at all in over a month, and not regularly since May. I kind-of trained earlier this year for the 8th Annual Run for the Animals Half Marathon, but nothing else. I signed up for a 25K trail race earlier this year (it was peer pressure!) which is to take place the first weekend in November. I figured it was time to start training as this trail race will be the determining factor as to whether or not I am going to sign up for the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in 2020.  If I can’t finish a 15.5 mile trail race in the “hills” of the DelMarVa Peninsula, there’s no chance in hell I’m going to survive 34.2 miles in the volcanic mountains of Iceland!  And I really, really, REALLY want to do Laugavegur.

My training officially started yesterday, August 1st.  I did a mile after work.  It was a slow walk/run interval mile but I figured I’d wean myself back into it.  Today I did a 3.5 mile 2/1 Run/Walk and have to say that it felt pretty darn good.  Tomorrow I will do some HIIT training and weight training, and plan to get in at least 4-5 miles on Sunday.

I’m planning on sticking with the Galloway Method of running ever since my achilles injury. I feel so much better when I finish a run using the run/walk/run method.  I don’t get as painful, especially in the hips, and I just feel better overall during the workout.  I will also incorporate a lot more yoga while I am training.  I’ve been learning more and more every day about the practice and it just makes me feel so good!  It helps clear my mind, relaxes my body, and I feel stronger and more flexible when I’m finished with a session.  There’s so much truth to the “it’s all in your head” mentality when it comes to difficult tasks, and running a long distance, or any distance when you’re just not feeling it, can be a very difficult task.  I am trying to learn meditation while running.

Esme on a Cool Down Walk Off-Leash

Esme joined me for a post-run cool down walk off-leash today. She did AWESOME! She’ll be running with me in no time, once the weather cools off a bit.

Esme in Training

Working on running manners with Esme off-leash

I am looking forward to getting back into the running groove.  I’ve been out of it for so long now, it seems, that I’ve forgotten just how great it makes me feel.  Also, I am looking forward to getting Esme trained to run with me!  I let her join me for my cool down walk this evening where we worked on her not crossing in front of me, and especially her slowing down/stopping in front of me.  I think she’ll get it in no time.  She’s proven to be a very quick learner.  Her off-leash training is going very well, so we’ll work on off-leash running down our Neck when the weather cools down a bit.

Now I must spend the rest of my free-time working on my training schedule!  I have to manage every minute of my day if I’m going to successfully complete this training AND continue to blog… 😉

I will do my best!  Stay tuned…

The DNA Results are In…

Actually, I knew the results before I posted.  But you all realized that if you read my original post.

C.J.

Since he was about 5 months of age, which is approximately how old he was when he came into our lives, C.J. has been classified as a Lab Mix. He looked like he might have some semblance of a bully in him too, and probably several other breed mixes. Labrador retriever was the primary, stand-out phenotype. Chompers, C.J.’s namesake, was half lab and C.J. looked like a spitting image of Chompers so we figured it must be so.

C.J. has been living a lie for the last 13 years of his life…

Here are C.J.’s Royal Canin GHA results:

CJ’s Genetic Health Analysis Report

A Labrador Retriever mix he is NOT!  There’s probably a tiny bit in there somewhere according to his “mixed breed” analysis.  C.J. is the poster child of what a Mutt is.  He is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, and peppered with about a dozen other breeds.  The miniature poodle part though?  That gets me rolling!  It explains all of his “princess” moments.

How awesome is that report?  This Genetic Health Analysis screens for over 140 different hereditary conditions.  Not only do I now know that C.J. is a Pitweiler Choodle, but he also has tested clear of over 140 hereditary conditions.  That’s something that sets this pet owner’s mind at ease.

Esme

Then there’s Esme.  She was the reason I wanted to give the Royal Canin GHA a try.  Namely because she was so young, I was curious to find out what she really was because she had some really peculiar behaviors.  I suspected she had some bully in her due to her appearance and her personality, but she had something else that I just couldn’t figure out.

Well, you already know how good my intuition about dog breeds is knowing C.J.’s results. Lab mix.  Pshaw.

Esme is very stand-offish with most of the new people she meets.  She is fearful of others, and there’s no correlation to her fearful behavior (sex, nationality, age).  However, if she is allowed time to get to know someone, she then adores them whole-heartedly.  She is also the epitome of a snuggler.  She loves to be held in your lap, loves to lay next to and half-way on you when you’re laying down, and will curl up next to you while you’re chilling on the couch watching television or reading a book.  She has the appetite of a starving bear and will eat anything and everything she can get into her mouth, even if it’s not intended for ingestion.  And her tracking ability is amazing.  I really need to see if she’d be interested in Nosework because she can definitely sniff out any critter that has passed through our yard.

She was adopted to me as a Pointer mix.  I could buy that easily by appearance alone, but especially after getting to know her.  She has the personality of a pointer, always has to be busy doing something!  She gets bored easily and has all the energy in the world.  She also has pointed a few times.  Most pointers I’ve ever met have been very friendly and personable.  Esme, not so much.  Don’t get me wrong, she is friendly and personable, but she lacks trust in strangers.  She needs to spend a little time getting to know you before she’ll trust you.  But once you’ve earned her trust, she’s all yours.

So, what the heck is she?  Here are Esme’s Royal Canin GHA results:

Esme’s Genetic Health Analysis Report

So, there you have it.  Esme is mostly American Staffordshire Terrier (a pit bull) with a side of Wild Dog.  I’m beginning to understand her more and more!  Her trust issues?  Now it makes sense.  Her snuggaliciousness?  That’s all pit bull!

SIDE NOTE:  Pit Bull is a generic term for any of the bull terrier breeds.  It’s an umbrella term for a Staffordshire Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, etc.  The term “Pit Bull” comes from the fact that many of these breeds were used as pit fighting dogs.  Funny thing is, most of them were bred to be nannies.  Hence the cuddling.  They were bred to protect the young while the adults tended to the daily activities of the household.

Again, a neat thing about the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis is that it screens for 140+ genetic mutations/diseases.  Esme’s test came back with one copy of the craniomandibular osteopathy mutation.  I have learned that this is a dominant disorder, so only one copy is required to develop symptoms which means Esme could develop this disease.  Not all dogs with the mutation show clinical signs, but at least now my vet and I know what to watch out for.

How to get your dog tested

Check with your veterinarian to see if they offer the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis. The test requires a small blood sample and is reasonably priced compared to other DNA tests for dogs, and you get so much more than just what your dogs’ primary breeds are!  Even if you have a purebred dog, it’s worth it to have it screened for the 140+ genetic mutations.

If you have a:

  1. mixed breed dog
  2. dog that came to you as a stray
  3. rescue dog

I think you should seriously consider testing them.  Even if they appear to be a particular breed or breed mix, you might be surprised!  C.J. looked so much like a Labrador Retriever mix that I was certain he had to have some in him as a dominant breed.  His results just go to show that looks can be deceiving.  Just do it!  It’s kind of fun!

Runners are Crazy; Injured Runners are Crazier

Have you ever had that feeling like you are out of control? A feeling like your life is just getting away from you? I feel that way lately and I know why. It’s because I am supposed to be training for a 10 miler in late March, a half marathon in mid-April and a marathon in late April. However, an achilles tendon injury has me sidelined, so all that planning and scheduling I did for February, March and April was all for naught. I’m trying to stay active and moving, modifying strength-training workouts and cardio workouts to keep my achilles happy, but I feel lost since I’m not running. Those workouts cannot replace the feeling you get after finishing a long run, or a fast 5K, or just an easy run.

I’m having a really difficult time with this. I know I am not the only person in the world to suffer an injury during training, and others have suffered much worse injuries than what I’m dealing with! My friend Jen was training for an ultramarathon last year and slipped during a training run and broke her ankle. She was sidelined for a very long time, but after her doctors gave her the okay to start again, she did. She trained safely, she trained intelligently, she listened to her body and she completed that ultra this year! I respect her and look up to her and hope that I can be as strong as she was with my puny little injury. She’s a hero in my book.

My appointment for Physical Therapy isn’t until March 13, 2018. It’s just a few days away thank goodness, but I’ve been waiting since mid-February. It’s the waiting and wondering, “am I going to be able to run any of my upcoming races?” that’s making me feel out-of-control and lost. Am I crazy? Of course…I’m a runner.

Time to get back on track!

This recent bout of illness, whatever it was, has really thrown a wrench in my marathon training. I am a week off and my lung capacity is diminished some because they still contain crud. Also, my energy level and motivation level are both in need of help.

Today I did a slow, short bout of running followed by strength and balance training. I’m glad it was nice enough for me to run outdoors because once I got moving, the coughing started. I would hate to be in the gym hacking on everyone around me! I’m hoping that all the coughing got rid of a bunch of that lung crud so that I can go a little further tomorrow. Then further yet on Monday.

Part of my training has been to learn how to fuel my body most efficiently. I thought I had it figured out for my first marathon, but I obviously did not because I totally hit the wall at about mile 19! I know what I need to do, but want to be able to test it before race day. However, again with the illness, my diet got thrown way out of whack over the past week too. I am sure that has a lot to do with my energy level slump.

When you prepare your training for an endurance event, you prepare as though everything will be hunky-dory throughout the training period. When you are forced to halt your training for whatever reason, you have to spend time revamping your training schedule. I should probably go do that now!

I’ll let you all know how I fare in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations or would like to share your experiences with training for an endurance event, please do so! How do you fuel your body in preparation of the event? What do you do to maintain your energy level during the event? Have you ever had a hiccup in your training plan; and, if so, what did you do to get back on track?

Off to edit my training schedule for the coming weeks…

Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run

About 6 weeks or more ago, a friend and fellow runner let me know about this local 5K that was going to happen in early June at the Wildlife Loop at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The race was free and was limited to 100 participants. I jumped on it because 1) you can’t beat that price for a race entry, 2) the location is a lovely one and 3) it will ensure that I get up early and get a run in that day. race33288-logo.bxeQDw

I signed up along with several other runner friends. At the registration page they were taking donations to go toward the Assateague Island Alliance (a non-profit friends group of Assateague Island National Seashore that helps to raise funds to go toward preservation of the island while also supporting educational programming). Of course I donated, though it was a small amount.

A week prior to race day all of the participants received an email that gave details of the run; when and where to pick up your race packet, how to get into the park, where to park your vehicle, how to prepare for the race due to its location and abundance of bitey bugs, rain date info, and a little note of appreciation at the end.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service granted each participant free admission to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  Therefore, if one chose to do so, race participants could stick around after the run and make a day of hiking, beaching, lighthouse visiting, pony watching, whatever they choose, all for free.  I thought that was absolutely awesome and generous, especially given that the race entry fee was free.

I awoke early June 4th, the morning of the race, to get there on time as Chincoteague was about a 40 minute drive from home.  I didn’t have to get there too early since a running buddy already picked up race packets for all of those in our troupe.  The weather was warm, a little foggy with overcast skies.  The humidity was mild.  The drive in was smooth and once I got on the island I was surprised to find it as calm and quiet as it was.  It was pretty early and many of the shops were still closed, but it is summer around here so I thought there’d be more hustle and bustle going on.  Perhaps they were anticipating rain?  I made it to the park gate earlier than I had expected due to the lack of traffic and pedestrians (and I might have a slight case of lead foot at times).  Almost immediately after I entered through the gate there was someone on the side of the road directing us to the parking area for the race.

Arrival was welcoming and easy.  There were a few participants there by the time I had shown up, but most of them poured in almost immediately afterward.  There were park rangers at the registration table, happy to answer any questions and excited about the event.  One of the rangers was perusing through the crowd taking photos.  I gathered with a group of my running buddies to take a “before” photo in front of the banner on display.

A fun photo before the race began

A fun photo before the race began

In our race packets there were pamphlets about the area, a temporary tattoo (which we all were happy to sport), a decal for our vehicles, a race bib and a t-shirt.  Did I mention that the registration for this race was FREE?

All tattooed and ready to run!

All tattooed and ready to run!

As the start time neared, I ran into several other friends and fellow runners from our community!  I was elated to see each and every one of them.  There were participants of all ages, some seasoned runners and some first timers.  After a brief welcoming and intro at the start line, we were off.

The route was a paved, flat, scenic loop filled with coastal flora and fauna.  It was peaceful; only the sounds of birds and frogs in the distance, the pitter patter of shoes on the pavement, and the occasional spoken words of encouragement from one runner to another.

Before I knew it I was almost at the finish!  I wasn’t paying much attention to anything other than the beauty that surrounded me.  The park rangers, as well as those that had finished before me and some other supporters, were there to greet all of us with high fives, congratulatory messages, and a finishing patch.  There were bananas and water at the finish for all of us too.  All of this for a registration fee of $0.00.

Our finisher patch!

Our finisher patch!

This was the first event of this type for the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and they did an absolute perfect job putting it together.  From the ease of registration to the final minutes after the race, everything was well organized and the race bling was generous given the cost of registration.

If ever there is a race such as this in your area, I encourage you to take part.  And if they are accepting donations, remember that every little bit helps their cause.  I for one will happily partake in another of these events, and not just for the “bling,” but because of the sense of community it creates.

The Assateague Island National Seashore 5K Centennial Run has raised just shy of 50% of their goal as of the date of my blogging this.  They are still accepting donations if you wish to help the cause.  Visit their donation page here to help them raise funds for preservation and education.

The Run For the Animals 5th Anniversary

For those of you who have followed my blog, (first let me thank you for hanging with me and my paltry writing skills) you know a little bit about The Run for the Animals and how much it means to me.  If you’re a little behind you can check out this post.  Today was the 5th Anniversary of the race and I did partake yet again, and will every year for as long as I can help it.  I ran the half marathon today.  I PR’d by under a minute from last year’s half!  Hey, any improvement is still an improvement.  I’ll take it!  And I finished first in my age group.  But that is not what made today’s run extra special for me.IMG_9441

The inaugural Run for the Animals was my very first race after I decided to take up running to get healthy and fit.  So that makes today my 5 year “RACE”iversary!  I will toot my own horn and pat myself on my own back to congratulate me for sticking with it, even when things got tough.  I finally followed through with something and plan to keep up with it for as long as my body will allow.  This is not to say that there aren’t others responsible for where I am today, because all of those times when I wanted to throw in the towel they were there to keep me motivated and to remind me of why I started running in the first place.  They pushed me further than I ever thought I could go and stuck with me throughout the process.  You all know who you are and I am forever grateful for each and every one of you!IMG_9446

That is one thing that made today extra special.  But there is so much more.

Since running the Shamrock Marathon three weeks ago, I have not seen my marathon training buddies.  All of them showed up today for the Run for the Animals.  It was a great reunion with an amazing group of ladies.  I’ve missed them so much!  I ran the half marathon with my training buddy Sarah.  The others did the 10K or the 5K.  Sarah’s husband and oldest son ran the non-competitive 5K (a first run for both of them) and did an awesome job!  If it was timed they would have gotten first and third overall.  Jennifer ran the 10K with her two sons, a first 10K for one of them and the other placed in his age group!  Awesome job Sage!  Lisa and her dog Chessie ran in the 5K and did great!  Becky and her dog Stark ran the 10K and placed in her age group.  Everyone did a fantastic job!IMG_9429

This was another extra special thing about today.  Still more though.

I have yet another running family.  I attend a local boutique gym called Attitudes Fitness as often as I possibly can, and I teach a class there once a week called Pound.  (You can learn more about how that happened here.)  I have met so many awesome ladies (and a few gents) during my time at Attitudes.  Just over one year ago, Sheila, the owner and trainer-extraordinaire, decided to give running a try during one of her stays at her second home in Florida.  She learned to enjoy it.  Even after she said she would never be a runner!  Sheila totally smoked her first 10K and earned first place in her age group!  Jen and Jean are two awesome ladies that took up running and actually took part in the Run for the Animals last year.  They both PR’d today!  Liz is another instructor at Attitudes, is 7 months pregnant, and finished the 5K in just over 30 minutes!  Then there’s another Liz,  Liz W.  Liz W. just started running with us about 6 months ago.  She has been doing awesome.  She signed up for the 10K a couple of months ago, but this morning had a bit of pre-race anxiety.  She told me she just wanted to finish at a respectable time.  She was hoping for a time of around 1:20:00.  She finished in 1:04:??!!!  Her first race, a 10K, and she smoked it!  Patty is another one of those OMG amazing women.  Patty is not new to running.  She’s been running for a few years at least. She has overcome so many obstacles over the last few years and she is still out there with us every chance she gets!  A cancer survivor, finished the Dirty Girl last year with 4 (or was it 5) broken ribs that happened during a collision on the first obstacle, then had a foot injury recently.  This woman is my idol.  She is one tough cookie and the most genuine spirit you could ever know.  She is always there for support when she can’t run, but she’s always finding a way to get it done-No Excuses!  I could go on for probably an entire blog post in and of itself about all of the amazing ladies (and few gents) from Attitudes, but I wanted to let these girls know just how proud I am of them and how much I love them.  They are all RockStars!IMG_9417

Today was extra special because I got to take part in all of these wonderful ladies’ victories!  And yet there is still more.

I have my running “families” which are those groups of friends that I run with on a somewhat regular basis, or those that I get crazy with and sign up for things that I wouldn’t normally do without their arm-twisting.  Then I have my running friends; those friends who I only see during races or special events, but not on a regular basis due to scheduling differences or location.  I was able to see several of my running friends today and that always makes me happy!  One of them, Laura, won the overall female for the 10K last year and again this year.  She improved on last year’s time by about 5 minutes!  How awesome is that?  I am so happy for her.  She is an awesome lady and a badass too.  She completed the Spartan Trifecta last year and placed for her age group.  She also leads a group fitness class and motivates and inspires people on a daily basis.  I saw several other of my running friends and regret that I couldn’t catch up with everyone as much as I would have liked to.

The Number One reason I enjoy running so much is all of the fantastic individuals I meet!  Every year my running-friends list grows and I hope it continues for decades.

Lastly, I am so thankful and grateful to the race director Andrea, all of the volunteers, sponsors and fundraisers.  Andrea created this awesome event and it has grown by leaps and bounds in its 5 year history.  The cause is something that I hold dear, and the venue is absolutely superb.  This year they added a 5K non-competitive run/walk and had almost double the number of participants from last year’s event.  That is amazing!  My only regret is that I did not do any fundraising this year.  I have every year in the past and have done rather well.  This year there was just so much going on that I didn’t have the time to get it done.  Thankfully everyone else stepped up to the plate and was able to raise a ton of money to help out our local needy animals!  ALL of you fundraisers ROCK and deserve huge recognition for your efforts.  And the volunteers.  You are the backbone to the event.  Without you it couldn’t go on.  Thank you for all of your support and your hard work.

If you ever find yourself on the Eastern Shore of Virginia during your travels, consider taking part in the Run for the Animals if your travels happen during the event.  It is always a wonderful time, supports a great cause, has awesome race bling and you will meet a lot of awesome people.