Harder, better, faster, stronger: And now, smarter

Harder, better, faster, stronger: And now, smarter

I always found it ridiculous that high schoolers who never played sports thought the football team was made up of dumb jocks especially when many players ended up at our best colleges and universities.

Where did the stereotype of the dumb jock come from?

Just watch a professional soccer game or Major League Baseball or any Olympic event and think about how much stuff the players are pouring into their brains before, during, and after the games. Ok some of these athletes might make stupid decisions off the field in their personal lives, but these have nothing to do with smarts.

So I'm not surprised to read about another study showing that exercise is good for your brain.

Read More

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2017: Call It Love and Devotion

"We need to head home early so this one can get into bed," Bob gestured at me as he told our friends at a Vassar event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture last Saturday night that we'd need to duck out.

"She's got an early race tomorrow."

It was true, I did need to be up by 4:30 am Sunday morning, but it's not like I'm a professional or even competitive athlete. I've been running and doing these races for 3 years, and this idea always crosses my mind.

But still.

Read More

Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Washington, D.C., 2017: The Good Ol' Days

Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Washington, D.C., 2017: The Good Ol' Days

"Girl, go faster. We're late for brunch."

Among the many political signs at last Saturday's half marathon was this one, my favorite, because whenever anybody asks me about my experience as a runner, I always say that I'm a 50-something who wanted to go to lunch but went for a run instead.

We were lined up at the start when a group of three women around my age asked me if I would take their picture. Through the lens of the iPhone camera I could see one of them wanted to be at brunch instead of shivering on 14th Street and about to run 13.1 miles in 26 degree weather.

"Have you done this before?" I asked.

Read More

Where it began

Where it began

By last Thursday afternoon I was feeling the effects of the upper body workout I did with Zach Schumaker, my trainer, on Wednesday night. My pecs were so inflamed and sore I wasn't 100 percent convinced I wasn't having a heart attack. In general I welcome delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) because it means I'm placing stress on my muscles, allowing them to adapt.

But then of course I'm forced to change up my training. So on Friday, instead of cross training on the elliptical or swimming, I did walking intervals on the treadmill at a 12 percent incline; no stress on the upper body but I got my heart rate up high enough to feel great getting ready for work and throughout the day.

I was planning to do a long swim Saturday morning but still felt sore. A year ago I would have pushed through but if I've learned anything through all of this it's the value of deloading. So instead, with my head still on my pillow, I smiled.

I'll do an easy run.

It wasn't the run that made me smile, although I enjoy these shakeout runs.

It was the bagel. With peanut butter.

Read More

But I do I do

But I do I do

"Welcome to my year of aging youthfully."

This is what I typed in response to one of the birthday wishers on my Facebook timeline on Wednesday. (Remember when we called it a "Wall"?)

"You are finding the key to aging backwards," my childhood friend Debbie Levine Herman wrote.

(I fully embrace the world of Facebook. I view it as a gigantic community bulletin board and LOVE seeing posts no matter how trivial or silly and count on them to keep me up to date period.)

Read More

But, oh, I got stamina

But, oh, I got stamina

Why it matters what I tell myself when I run

I reconnected over the summer with a woman I first met when I was living outside San Francisco and our daughters had become friends. We were having coffee in Palo Alto late one afternoon when she told me she had lupus. 

The subject came up because she was apologizing for meeting me in her workout clothes as she was just coming from the gym.

Really? Everyone in Palo Alto looks like they're in exercise clothes.

She told me that one of the ways she copes with bouts of extreme pain in her joints is by exercising regularly.

This memory popped into my head a few weeks ago as I woke up after sleeping nearly 12 hours. The last of my Thanksgiving guests had left late on that Saturday, and I practically passed out within minutes.

My plan had been to do a longish run that Sunday morning, but when I stepped out of bed, my sides and lower back were so sore and stiff that I nearly crept down the stairs to make myself a cup of coffee.

I assumed I had suffered a sleeping injury by being in bed so long.

Read More

Any minute you will cross that line

Any minute you will cross that line

There is always something to be positive about.

Always.

Election Day is here and these last few weeks have been like trudging in the mud. Everywhere you go, everyone you talk to, people are uncomfortable with how this election is making them feel. About their country, about the world, about their communities, about themselves.

The New York Times new column Meditation for Real Life could not have appeared in our feeds at a more opportune moment.

Read More

Parks Half Marathon, Sept. 11, 2016 - Open up the champagne, pop!

There are those runs you know are gonna be hard, and you head into them as if you're about to do battle.

But when you finish you feel all the more celebratory.

That's where I am with this morning's Parks Half Marathon, which meanders through Montgomery County's gorgeous parks.

At packet pick up yesterday at RnJ Sports in Rockville I overheard a woman tell her friend that although there were 2,500 people registered for the race, 20 percent probably won't show up. 

"Because of the weather?" I jumped in. 

"For whatever," she said. "Just because." 

Read More

When life gets in the way, yeah

When life gets in the way, yeah

Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

This popped into my head after I instinctively extended my arm to help a woman, probably in her late 50s, as she walked from her car into a theater in Warsaw, Indiana, a few weeks ago.

We were standing on a slight incline steps from the entrance.  A bus pulled up and began to unload. I was seeing the 2 pm matinee of "Grease" at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts with my close friend Carmelita Watkinson, and it was a gorgeous day. We were there to see her awesome and talented son Sean play the role of Danny Zuko.

Read More

Magical mystery ride

Magical mystery ride

"If you don't believe in yourself, why should anyone else believe in you?"

"You have to love yourself before you can expect another person to love you."

These phrases were etched into my being years ago, but in the past couple of weeks I've had a bit of an epiphany.

I used my early morning walks to catch up on podcasts after my finger surgery when I could not run or swim or bike and zoomed in on an interesting connection from one podcast to the other.

Sometimes it makes sense to hang back and let someone else have confidence in you. 

Read More

As long as I can feel the beat

As long as I can feel the beat

“Will this affect your exercising?”

My cousin Jonathan was hosting his annual summer barbeque for the Washington Belkins. While most of my family members are still in New York, there’s a respectable number in Washington as well as in Florida.

It was a little more than 24 hours after Dr. David Moss, a hand surgeon, removed one of the joints from my right ring finger and fused the bones together with 3 wires.

 “Yes,” I started to say, “more than I anticipated.”

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Jonathan’s mother, Leslee, was visiting for a few days. Stanley, Jonathan’s father, died not too long ago.  He was a celebrated master chef, and Jon himself does an awesome spread year after year.

“It’s ok. Thanks for asking."

Read More

Cape Henlopen Triathlon, June 12, 2016: I can turn it on

Cape Henlopen Triathlon, June 12, 2016: I can turn it on

"I hope it's not her."

After my swim coach Terrence Oakley completed Sunday's Cape Henlopen Triathlon and was waiting with my family for me to cross the finish, he told Mia that when he heard the announcement that a woman was missing her wetsuit, he was worried that woman might be me.

It was just before the National Anthem that I discovered that my wetsuit had disappeared. I looked everywhere around my then-tidy transition area, but it was 100 percent gone.

And I was 200 percent certain that I brought it with me.

My voice was trembling as I let the crew member with the microphone know that I was looking for my wetsuit. I knew there was a slim chance that the suit would turn up before the race start. Already many athletes had begun the 1/2 mile walk to the beach. Only a few people would hear the announcement.

Read More

Go crazy, punch a higher floor

Go crazy, punch a higher floor

Terrence: There are so many inefficiencies in your stroke.
Me:
Terrence: That’s a good thing! It just means there are so many areas where you can improve! What you can change!!

Ironman Terrence Oakley, my new swim coach, had been walking along the side of the pool and observing me as I swam 200 yards. It was our first session working together.

I committed to competing in the Cape Henlopen Triathlon on June 12 with my triathlete friend from work, and even though I finished the swim portion of the Bethany Beach Triathlon last fall, I still have major fear issues related to swimming in the ocean. I thought a coach might help.

Read More

Invite the Whole World to Play: Meet Gini Fellows

Invite the Whole World to Play: Meet Gini Fellows

“You’re continuing to grow.”

Actually, no, I’m not, and wouldn’t that be wonderful, but I know what she meant.

Jamie Dodge is my new running coach at RunnersConnect, and in our initial meet and greet we were talking about how ridiculous I feel sometimes about training hard and doing races.  I had just joined RunnersConnect, an incredibly supportive online community of 600 runners of all ages, coaches, a team doctor, and a team nutritionist.

I had a great experience with my first running coach, Ann Alyanak at the RunSMART Project, who got me across the finish line at the Reggae Marathon in Negril in December, and it was a natural progression for me to join RunnersConnect as I began to understand how my personality can impact my fitness goals.

 

Read More

Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon: Give into Low Tide

Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon: Give into Low Tide

Here’s the thing about doing races.

Running is hard. "Easy runs" always appear on my training calendar, but they’re never easy.

Whether I’m sprinting and doing intervals or going easy or going long, running is always hard.

So signing up for races keeps me motivated. It’s just that simple.

Because although running only gets easier but never easy, like anything else, the more you expose yourself to difficult or uncomfortable things, the less difficult or uncomfortable they become.

Read More

Take it all in your stride

Take it all in your stride

I’m in the habit of checking myself out, body part by body part, when I wake up in the morning.

Ok I’m checking out the status of the ring of fat around my abdomen I’m working hard to crush but mostly I do this so I can decide how much time I’ll need to warm up before running.  If it’s a swim day, I just make a mental note of what’s achy or crunchy and figure I’ll sort it out in the pool.

If I don’t self-assess in the morning I usually regret it. 

Read More

A whole lot of history

A whole lot of history

I hesitated for a moment but decided I needed to do this. Before my swim on Saturday, I stepped on the scale at Equinox Bethesda.

Down 6 pounds.

I was having lunch with my colleague Sarah Budds the Tuesday after D.C. Rock n Roll when Sarah told me about an article she had just read in the New York Times about a guy who starts every day with a cold shower.

Read More

Rock n Roll Washington, D.C.: It’s a Good Life

Rock n Roll Washington, D.C.: It’s a Good Life

“It’s a hill,” the sign read as I approached Calvert Street from Beach Drive.

“Get over it.”

That hill is also the spot where volunteers from Wear Blue to Remember line the marathon race route honoring the legacy of fallen service members.  They carry photos of loved ones and American flags on heavy poles. They offer high fives to runners as we scramble up the hill. 

I saw the sign just as I passed the last volunteer and lifted my head.

Yeah man, get over it.

Read More

If you're waiting for the moment, here it is

If you're waiting for the moment, here it is

“Just go do something else.”

I was 1 mile into my long run last Sunday when it occurred to me I’m still having the same conversation in my head a year after running the D.C. Rock n Roll Half Marathon, my first half marathon.  It was a miserable day that day in Washington in March 2015. There was a steady downpour and the air was cold and raw. I was soaked, my phone was soaked. My gloves were soaked.  Yeah I was exuberant at the finish but I couldn’t move my fingers they were so cold.

Read More

Everything you can

Everything you can

It’s been 2 years since I’ve practiced yoga at Down Dog in Bethesda, and I was worried about it this morning.  That place is serious and I’ve never taken a class there that was less than beyond challenging.  My lower back was on the top of my list; my hamstrings, at the bottom.

“Dig deeper,” teacher Rachel Dolan said just when I was considering going into child’s pose. For good.

“It’s not forever, just for now.”

Read More