Wednesday, December 31, 2014

BOSU Blast

I got a BOSU for Christmas and seriously can't stop using it. I also can't stop photographing it.

A photo posted by Rennay Cooke Marshall (@rnay225) on

I bounce on it while I watch tv. I think about it when I'm away and every time I see it I pretty much have to put my hands on it. I feel like we're in a teenage relationship.

A photo posted by Rennay Cooke Marshall (@rnay225) on

Not long ago I started thinking about how I could carve my niche as a trainer here in Louisville. I was initially putting my focus towards online training for flexibility since I do still have a day job and that little Ironman coming up and also because I knew I didn't want to work at a big gym making $10 an hour and stalking unsuspecting (and largely uninterested) patrons on the gym floor. Not having a space pretty much sealed the online training deal for me. Or so I thought.

I've found that despite my reserved personality I really do enjoy seeing the people I work with. I want to actively be there to talk to them, coach them, teach them and laugh with them. I've taught a couple of workshops and each time just ate up the whole experience of working with people face to face. It honestly shocked me. I've always been an introvert who would rather work in a closet office with no window than have to sit in an open room with nothing separating me from my peers. I sit in silence in the mornings reading and have found myself turning on the television less and less as I've gotten older. But deep down, I still craved interaction.

I thought back to a conversation I had with my friend Ami who is a fantastic trainer here in town and honestly one of my professional idols and she told me to really focus on finding something I could be the authority on. Ami is the go-to person in Louisville for all things TRX. Other places have straps or incorporate them into a workout but nobody does what Ami does and everyone knows it. So I tried to think through my fitness life to things I enjoyed. Ami (and many others) thought I'd really be interested in running/triathlon training and that seemed reasonable. But running and tri-ing are what I do, not what I teach. I tried to merge the world's once during my brief stint at a local running store and it didn't go well. I certainly don't mind to coach those things, but not at the elite level and definitely not as my primary focus.

I've always enjoyed circuit training and strength training done right is awesome. And then it came to me, the BOSU. I've used a BOSU a ton of times but never as the focus of a workout and I've always enjoyed it and been quite surprisingly good on them.

Not having a space to teach or train has been tricky for me. I've taught workshops at one facility and have one coming up in February at another but it's been difficult to find something steady. Luckily I'm persistent and Louisville has an abundance of community centers who are more than willing to open their doors and rec spaces for a small fee. After a little negotiation I managed to book myself a space to teach a weekly BOSU Blast class on Wednesday nights starting next week! I'm really really excited about getting in front of people regularly and I finally feel like I'm at least on some kind of track that is heading in the right direction.

I can't call my self the BOSU Master of Louisville or anywhere other than maybe my own home just yet, but I've been using mine (and the ones at the gym) pretty much daily lately and think I just might be on my way. I've got some certification classes and trainings on the calendar for 2014 and whether or not I decide to make it the focus of my career, I know I'll be in damn good shape ;)

Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Create Habits

Dr. BJ Fogg, creator of Tiny Habits recently had an article featured in ACE ProSource where he revealed the secrets to creating habits. It is a brilliant (and long) article that you can read in full here. For your reading pleasure, here's the Clif's Notes version put together by myself with some of the highlights and ways you can create the habits you want in your life.

Simplify the Behavior

Dr. Fogg used a very simple example, flossing his teeth, as the habit he wanted to create so the first thing to consider when trying to create habits of your own would be the simplicity of the action. When considering flossing his teeth, Fogg scales the behavior back to its simplest form, flossing just one tooth.
"I knew that simplicity could mean the difference between doing a behavior and not doing it."
The key to behavior change according to Fogg is to focus on making the new behavior automatic and to also make that behavior something that will not require a large time or energy expenditure. The reason you aren't doing the behavior already is because you're perceiving the behavior as difficult. Flossing for example is not difficult but when you already perceive your time as limited and perceive flossing and time consuming and to some degree unnecessary, it's easy to see why you're not doing it. By flossing one tooth, Fogg established the behavior of putting down his toothbrush, picking up the floss and actively flossing. The simplicity of the behavior makes it almost comical to not complete it. I mean, how long does it take to floss one tooth? It's just one tooth.

Make it Feel Good

Emotions also play an important role in whether or not a behavior will stick around long enough to become a habit. Completion of the behavior has to feel good. If you are not celebrating your achievement (and yes, even an action as small as flossing one tooth is an achievement) then it's easy to feel unattached and in turn abandon the behavior. Fogg's celebration word was "Victory!" Saying that to himself made him feel good, made him feel excited and made him want to repeat the behavior that lead to those positive emotions. Who doesn't want to do something that makes them feel proud?
So each day as I flossed, I thought this to myself: “If everything ends up awful today, at least I did one thing right: I flossed one tooth. Good for me—Victory!”
Find the Anchor

The last piece of the habit creating puzzle is all about timing. Where does this new behavior go? How does it fit into your life? Fogg recommends looking to a simple 5-letter word, A-F-T-E-R. You've got to figure out what Fogg calls "the anchor" behavior that is already in your routine that lends itself to usher in the new behavior. Flossing pretty obviously comes after brushing but what if your goal was to do more push ups? You've simplified your goal into doing 1 push up a day. But when? When you perform the push up is crucial to turning it into a habit. Let's say every night you take a shower and change into your pajamas. Right after the pajamas are put on you leave your room to let the dog out for the last time then head into your room to lay down in bed. What part of that routine can be an easy anchor? I would recommend doing one push up A-F-T-E-R you let the dog out. Dogs are creatures of habit. Your dog won't let you forget to take her outside. Your schedule may cause you to shower in the morning or at the gym. The shower is not a stable anchor. You may be so tired one day after work that you fall asleep in your clothes. Pajamas, also not stable. But the dog. The dog will always need to go outside. The key is finding something in your routine that you always do. It doesn't necessarily have to be something that's done at the same time (although that helps) it just has to be something that's always done.

The article continues on and explains more about Fogg's Tiny Habits method which you are welcome to read more about in the article.

In short, there are three steps in creating habits. First, simplify the habit you want to create (i.e. one tooth, one push up; not all teeth or 20 push ups). Second, make it feel good! And finally, find the anchor; A-F-T-E-R.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

50 Things About Me

My dear blog friend Beth recently updated her 100 Things About Me list after a few years and it was awesome. Since I like to plan ahead, I'm going to make a 100 50 Things About Me list and in 5 years once blogs are obsolete I'll update it and laugh. 

1. I really like to talk about myself.

2. But I don't always like to discuss my goals.

3. I've worked hard over the years to become a more positive person but still default to a Negative Nancy if I'm not careful.

4. I have a therapist and have had therapists off and on since I was 19. I'm not embarrassed about it anymore and in fact think pretty much everyone could benefit from them.

5. I used to seriously consider becoming a therapist but that's started to fade in recent years.

6. I haven't had a pork chop in probably 10 years.

7. I will always always always choose salt over sugar in any type of food situation.

8. I got my first job when I was 14 and was paid under the table for about 6 months until I was 15 and legally allowed to work. I also worked more than the legal number of hours in a day so we would have to fudge my time card so it looked like I only worked for like 2 hours every single day.

9. Everyday I'm hustlin'. Seriously though, I'm a workaholic and it's not something I'm necessarily proud of.

10. I have the same Myers-Briggs personality type as Isaac Newton, Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Hawking, Russell Crowe and Julia Stiles.

11. I have always wanted to be a scientist of some kind but let horrible high school teachers talk me out of it and into the English/fine arts world.

12. I'm honestly one of those jerks who is decent at everything. I've definitely come across things that are really hard but if I learn about it and try it, I can probably do it. I'm the Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

13. I was told by an astrologer that I have double twin signs which is why I can be so indecisive and have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time.

14. I believe in all of those alternative life things (astrology, acupuncture, herbal remedies etc.)

15. I'm by far my own worst enemy and am working hard on getting out of my own way so I can lead a happier life.

16. I can easily become anyone's biggest cheerleader. I attach myself to other people and take their goals on as my own and then obsessively stalk them until it's achieved (if I know your last name and there's a race results page, you'd better believe I've looked you up)

17. I am painfully shy if I don't actively talk myself through social situations. When I was little teachers used to tell my mom to have me "tested" because they honestly believed I couldn't talk.

18. I've always lived older than I really am. When I was in daycare the best part of my day was when my sister would get back from school and I'd go sit with the big kids while they did homework.

19. I used to beg my Dad to make homework assignments for me so I could fit in with my sister when she did hers.

20. I really love my sister.

21. I really miss my Dad who died of cancer when I was 6.

22. I honestly have a hard time using words to describe my mom. She's just crazy and awesome.

23. I'm a New Yorker. I was born there and assume a semblance of the accent whenever I'm in the northeast.

24. I can actually imitate accents really easily.

25. I know "most words to all songs" as The Colonel says. I hear songs a few times and somehow just remember the lyrics.

26. I'm pretty sure that if I'd had a much more traumatizing and terrible childhood I would've turned into a prodigy. Unfortunately, my childhood was amazing.

27. I get really really interested in statistics and demographics and numbers about really random things (like ebola) 

28. I'm really proud of my personal trainer certification but struggle to figure out which direction to take it.

29. I'm very interested in kinesiology and often think about going back to school for it.

30. I can talk myself out of everything and miss out on a lot of opportunities because of it.

31. The only race I've ever watched and truly thought I would never do is the Badwater Ultramarathon. Desert? Melting shoes? Chapped lips? Nope.

32. I used to be an incredibly picky eater until I went to Europe when I was 17 and had no choice but to eat what was there. Since then I've become much more flexible and have learned about a lot of fun foods. 

33. That said, I seriously don't like to eat. I can't explain why.

34. I'm almost always cold but I get hot really easily and hate it.

35. I love winter and hate summer.

36. Even though I hate summer, I love sunshine and hate when winter is gray and gloomy.

37. I like to think of myself as a phenomenal dancer...or at the very least, not a bad one.

38. My senses are easily overloaded so sometimes I have a hard time in crowds or in places like casinos or anywhere else that has a lot going on at once. 

39. I don't like Halloween because picking a good costume is too much pressure for me.

40. I had surgery on my foot in 2006 after I dropped a knife on it and refer to the scar as my "Harry Potter" scar because it's zigzagged like a lightning bolt.

41. I've only read one Harry Potter book and that's because I had to when I was in the 8th grade. It was the second one and I was confused and hated it.

42. I always think I want to flip and renovate houses but then feel bothered when I even have to change a light bulb and decide against it.

43. I'm learning that time is infinitely more valuable than money.

44. I have a competitive side that I have to constantly check to avoid sucking the fun out of racing and training.

45. I'm a perfectionist.

46. I used to pretend to be the pink power ranger when I was little and used a hanger as a bow and arrow. It was so freaking fun.

47. I still can't really do a proper pull up. And that's embarrassing.

48. I let people borrow things then forget to ask for them back for years. And by then I'm too embarrassed to ask.

49. I have this really bizarre love for Canada even though I've never been there and random Canadian people and products.

50. I can't think of anything else I'd like to share.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Commit to Fit Week 2 Recap

I didn't think it was possible but the Commit to Fit crew out did themselves and annihilated week 2! Check it out!

A photo posted by Jess (@jessteamawesome) on

A photo posted by KALIWOOD (@kaliwood02) on

A photo posted by Heather Elizabeth Caudill (@phimu822) on

I can't believe this challenge is almost over! Lucky for you, I'll be announcing ANOTHER installment soon!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Undoing the Damage of Sitting...Take Two!

As you know, I'm still spending a large chunk of my time doing this personal training thing and last month I got the chance to teach my first workshop!

Articles are popping up everywhere about the dangers of sitting and some go as far as to say “sitting is the new smoking”. Did you know that even activities like running, cycling and group exercise classes can’t always combat those damages? Your hips, glutes, low back and neck take more of a beating while sitting at a desk looking at a computer, on the couch watching tv or in a chair playing video games than during most any other activity we perform on a daily basis.

The program I put together is called Undoing the Damage of Sitting and the folks at Louisville Strength and Endurance (LSE) were nice enough to host me. I even had my graphic designer put together some advertising pieces and it actually went pretty well.

So well in fact that I've been asked to do it again!

On Wednesday, December 17th I'll be once again teaching Undoing the Damage of Sitting at LSE and by request the time has been pushed to 6:30 pm so everyone can make it even when the work day goes a little long. I also made it easier to register which you can do through my website by selecting "Sitting Damage Workshop" from the pull down menu or send an email to rennay (dot) cooke (at) gmail (dot) com if you'd rather pay via cash or check.

Space is again limited to 10 so sign up fast and learn a few easy moves you can do with your whole office using minimal time and minimal equipment!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Commit to Fit Week One Recap

Happy Monday friends!

Remember the Commit to Fit challenge I talked about not so long ago? If your brain is as cluttered as mine lately you can refresh by reading about it here.

More importantly, everyone is doing awesome! I have to admit I was nervous launching this program for a few reasons. One being "Oh my gosh what if nobody signs up!" and another being "What if they sign up and it sucks!" Luckily so far so good and not only does it not suck but we are actually having a good time.

I don't know how many hours they killed or miles they traveled but I can tell you that the competition has gotten fierce and since they were all so close I decided to give gifts to the top 3 performers for the week instead of just number 1. Hope they all enjoy their Starbucks!

I can't say enough about how great these ladies (yes, all women....where you at men?) are doing and I really hope you'll consider joining us for the next session which will be getting started before we know it! Since they're all really only doing this for the fame, here are a few posts to sum up the week and get the next one started strong! I did however protect some of the names. I'm not looking to get sued or anything ;)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Scheduling Tips During the Holidays

Thanksgiving may be over but the holiday parties are just beginning. Between friends getting together, the staff holiday gathering and running from store to store for the perfect gifts, it's easy to reach the end of the day feeling unaccomplished and with a missed workout hanging over your head. There is a way to change the expected outcome and it is through using one of my favorite tools, scheduling!

I know my Type B's out there may not love this idea but when it comes to a crazy time of year when obligations are piling up, it's a surefire way to keep it all together and actually enjoy the season. So how can you manage life when it seems to be going in too many directions? Here are 3 tips to successful holiday scheduling that I included in the RCM Training December newsletter.

1. Get a Calendar You Will Use 

If you spend a lot of time on your phone, tablet or computer, buying a planner you have to write in most likely won't do you much good since it will require remembering to actually use it. Especially if you aren't someone who loves using a calendar, an electronic version will cost you little money and is easy to pick back up when needed. I personally love using Google Calendar because it's free, easy and color coordinated. You can decide when and how you'd like to be alerted of events and with as much time as I spend on the computer and mobile, it's an added bonus that it syncs to all of my devices. Some people remember things easier when they write them down. If that sounds like you, grab a cheap calendar or even easier, download and print a calendar template to fill out on your own.

2. Keep it Clean

It's really easy for a calendar to get so cluttered and crazy looking that instead of making you take action it makes you want to give up and lay down for a nap. Trust me, I've done it. We all mean well but sometimes it's so fun to add and color code things that we get a little carried away. Remember, there's no need to write down everything. If there's something you do everyday at the same time (i.e. "Work 8:30-5:30"), you probably don't need to actually write that on a calendar. If you're getting off early one day or going in late, that's another story. But try to keep the calendar entries to special things you may forget about such as a hair appointment, holiday party or one time engagement (pick up cookies for son's class!).

3. Remember Down Time

Try not to schedule yourself to death. I'm notorious for not double-booking myself (thanks to the calendar) but instead over-booking myself. If I have a free half hour here or 45 minutes there I have been known to fill that time in with something. If you're like me, do not do this! A schedule should help you, not hurt you. If you have so many alerts going off that you consider snapping your iPad over your knee, take a timeout and add some white space. In college I even went so far as to schedule an alert to relax. Seems silly, but it helped me feel productive and take some much needed breaks. I'm a big advocate of meditation and even if you aren't and particularly if you feel like you "don't have time" schedule in even 10 minutes a day to just breathe and be you. You'll thank yourself.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Best Tweets of November

I have to admit 2 things. First, my brilliance was suspiciously absent during the month of November for some reason and second, I kind of forgot about this post. There, now I feel better. On with it!

For the record, I did not win.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You Look Normal!

Do people ever say to you, "You look normal"?

Let me explain...

Ever since I first started actively working on this personal training thing, I've had my doubts. Not necessarily about my ability to learn and apply the information but in my looks.

Whether or not we want to believe it, the fitness industry and fitness world can be incredibly superficial. It can also be a place that fosters learning, support and encouragement. I was 19 and at least 40 pounds lighter than I am now when I first thought about becoming a personal trainer and even then I didn't think I was fit/pretty/fast enough to do it. So I didn't. I settled for my degree in Communication which has gotten well what it didn't (or at least hasn't yet) get me was satisfaction or a sense of purpose.

Years later I finally decided to jump into this new career despite my doubts because I did have a support system who encouraged me it was possible. Who encouraged me that I did have knowledge and that I was good enough to train, teach, support and inspire others. Most days I do alright believing them but other days I let my dear friend Facebook (or the internet in general) plant little seeds of doubt. For example, this morning I saw this post on the Personal Trainer Development Center's Facebook page.

The post made sense to me and spoke to me. It made me feel good! When I look for trainers and coaches (which I'm currently doing very actively) I want them to look "normal" right? And if I'm searching for someone "normal" then other people surely are looking for the same thing!

What did other trainers have to say about this post?

Oh...maybe not so much?

"Fit does not mean 18% body fat either for a trainer." Well ACE, here's my certificate back and while you're at it here's my pride, ego, self respect and any amount of confidence I had left.

Ouch right?

Precision Nutrition recently posted an article I absolutely love that so clearly explains the "cost of getting lean" in an easy to understand way. I highly recommend this read if you're interested in body fat percentages, what they mean, what they look like and how to achieve them.

I think our friend's comment was talking about men since percentages are different for women, but still, that's awfully specific. Does it not matter if a trainer himself still has work to do? Do we ignore that even though he's 18% body fat now, he was once over 50%? Do trainers already have to be their perfect selves before they can train others? If that's the case, how are there even trainers at all? Do all people fall into either "fat slob", "stick men" or "trainer"? Is there no value in book knowledge?

There are a lot of words floating around in my head right now and none of them have concrete definitions.

Fit. Normal. Fat.

Once I became certified and started telling people (those things did not happen simultaneously) I pretty much got and still get the same reaction every time. "Good! Great! I'd like a trainer like you because you look normal!"

I know people mean well and I know I shouldn't take that as a slightly backhanded compliments, but sometimes I do.

Normal. Normal. Normal.

What the F is normal? I consulted ACE Fit's Facebook page and decided to pose a little quiz to you.

Which photo is of a normal runner?



Trick question, duh. 

I'm pretty sure all of those people actually run and every single photo has at least one imperfection. Should I aspire to look like Number 1's chiseled physique but mega heel strike? I don't want to be old like Number 2 right? Although she's running another half marathon... At least the people in Number 3 have each other right? Even if they are wearing cotton. But Number 4 is surely the worst. I mean she's got a roll for goodness sake! Forget the relaxed face and upper body, appropriate clothing and that she's finishing a half marathon 3 weeks after a full. 

My point is one that people continuously make yet continuously contradict. There is no normal. There are no normal looking trainers or coaches. Just like there are no normal looking clients. 

Our friend who commented on the PTDC post had a point when he said "A trainer should be able to do the things he tells a client to do." I want to become TRX certified but I know in order to do that, I should probably be able to do TRX. If I can't show you the move correctly, how can I expect you to do it correctly? On the other hand, if you want to run a sub-2 half marathon, does the knowledge and expertise from a trained running coach who can run and has run not count if their best time is 2:01?

Appearances certainly matter in this world but let's try to remain mindful of actions as well. I can look at that picture above and absolutely tear my appearance to shreds. I can tell you every single flaw from top to bottom, front to back, left to right and internally. I can also tell you that regardless of how normal I look, what I do (training, racing, eating well) is quite abnormal in our society as it is. 

My goal is not to be a normal looking trainer or a ripped and polished one. 

My goal is simply to do. To train. And to help other people do the same.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Four Fun Facts

Happy Thanksgiving Week friends!

Is everyone getting as excited as I am??? Ok, we know I'm never actually excited about the holiday itself as evidenced by this post, but this year I'm super excited for a couple of days off. I've been working like crazy!

But to the point of today, I wasn't tagged to do this but read it on Run Eat Repeat and decided to copy because sometimes I can't come up with ideas of my own. So, behold!

4 Fun Facts

Four names that people call me other than my real name
  1. Nazie 
  2. Sunshine 
  3. Mrs. Marshall (it's still weird and not my "real" name yet)
  4. Champ
Four jobs I've had
  1. Cashier
  2. Vet Assistant
  3. Admissions Rep
  4. Intern
Four movies I've watched more than once
  1. Troy
  2. Good Will Hunting
  3. Mr. Holland's Opus
  4. Wedding Crashers
Four books I'd recommend
  1. Bossypants
  2. The Lovely Bones
  3. Seriously...I'm Kidding
  4. Basic Black
Four places I've lived
  1. New York
  2. Maryland
  3. Texas
  4. Kentucky
Four places I've visited
  1. Peru
  2. Greece
  3. Italy
  4. France
Four places I'd rather be right now
  1. My bed
  2. In the pool
  3. Ollantaytambo, Peru
  4. Puerto Rico
Four things I don't eat
  1. Meat
  2. Energy Gels
  3. Pudding
  4. Beets
Four of my favorite foods
  1. Avocado
  2. Pineapple
  3. Pizza
  4. Beans
Four TV shows I watch
  1. Homeland
  2. How to Get Away With Murder
  3. House of Cards
  4. Orange is the New Black
Four things I'm looking forward to this year
  1. Days off for Thanksgiving
  2. Everything about Christmas
  3. My sister's bday
  4. My first trail race
Four things I'm always saying
  1. For real
  2. Working
  3. I'm tired
  4. Bahahahaha (I text this A LOT)
Four people I tag to answer these questions
  1. Kali from Kaliwood
  2. Rebecca Jo from Press On and Run
  3. Katie from From Ice Cream to Marathon
  4. Beth from Discom-BOB-ulated Running

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Train for Your First 5K

RCM Training (aka Me) had a big weekend!

One of my many activities included speaking at the How to Festival hosted by the Louisville Free Public Library. My friend Amy put me in touch with the lovely library folks and they asked me to give a presentation on How to Train for a 5K.

I was really excited.

A photo posted by Rennay Cooke Marshall (@rnay225) on

So in case you missed it, here are my 5 tips for getting to your first 5K...

1. Figure Out Your Why

Answer the question: Why do I want to do this? Think about what you want to gain and what you’re willing to sacrifice.
Exercise can’t be done for somebody else

2. Pick a Course that Plays to Your Strengths

This is directly related to your why.
What kind of atmosphere works for you? A fun run? A smaller yet more competitive field? A large family-friendly event with lots of energy?

3. Commit to Training

Find a plan, follow the plan and trust the plan. Whether it’s online, with a coach or with a group, you’ll need some kind of plan and strategy to get through the event.
Schedule training into your day ahead of time to ensure it gets done. If you have a work meeting early one morning, you’ll need to train later or maybe even on a different day. Don’t leave it to chance.

4. Learn to Listen to Your Body

The surest way to avoid injury is to listen when your body talks. If a pain is specific, stop what you’re doing to cause it.
Go to the doctor if pains persist.
Rest when the plan says to whether you need it or not. Better to rest when you don’t want to than rest because you have to.

5. Have Fun

Remember, you choose to do this. You want to do this. If it’s not fun, why do it?

I had the full presentation recorded which I'll get uploaded to my YouTube channel this week. If you go to it now, please don't judge me. I haven't actually done anything to it yet!

For those of you who just want the Clif's Notes...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thanksgiving and Other Holiday Survival Tips

I think just about every blogger writes some tips for staying healthy and not gaining weight during the holidays so I thought I'd join in on the trend this year. I don't know about you, but I'll take all the help I can get!

RCM Personal Training (aka me) produces a monthly newsletter and guess what was found in November's edition?

Check out my top 3 tips for making it through holiday dinners and parties. Then hop over to big time runner and blogger Run Eat Repeat for some of hers as well.

1. Fill Your Plate

Yes, you read that correctly. A lot of times in our attempt to stay in control of our food we put an unrealistically small amount on our plate and praise ourselves for the empty space. Unfortunately, you're usually still hungry! Putting only a meager amount of your favorite foods on your plate will leave you unsatisfied and likely lead to overeating when you go back for seconds, pick at leftovers after dinner is over or give in to temptation and overcompensate with another food. You know how much you eat, fill the plate with a variety of foods in a quantity that won't leave your stomach growling over Thursday Night Football.

2. Play Favorites

Let me back track a little, while you should fill your plate with a variety of foods, make sure they're worth the splurge. If you wait all year for Aunt Lynn's stuffing and can't possibly walk away from a slice of Granny's cheesecake then by all means, save them a priority spot on the plate. On the other hand if a dinner roll is a dinner roll and all you need is a courtesy scoop of Cousin Terry's yams it might be worth the skip. Most people, especially during a family holiday dinner, are going to clear their plate so make sure the extra calories are worth it.

3. Have a Drink...or Two

With all the talk about food, there's never any talk about drinks during Thanksgiving. Drink some water! Drink a lot of water! Being well hydrated will make your body less likely to retain water from some of the excess sodium in your food and it will keep you from feeling like you're starving. Good hydration has many benefits during your everyday life but can be especially beneficial in regulating your metabolism and other bodily functions which can help keep you on an even keel during the ups and downs of a holiday break.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Race Report

Woo hoo the marathon was everything I hoped it would be!

Wait, no it wasn't. I didn't actually do it. Allow me to explain...

I'm still not entirely pleased with myself or the experience and it's for entirely vain and ridiculous reasons I've yet to overcome. In layman's terms, I have a big ego.

To make a long story short, I dropped down to the half marathon (which is still a really long way!) and walked with a peg leg until yesterday afternoon ish.

Prior to this race I didn't actually know where Savannah was (read how unprepared I was here). We hit the road for what would become a 6+ hour drive to Atlanta Thursday night where we stopped for the night and I crashed on a friend's couch before getting up Friday and making the 3-4 hour drive to Savannah. We passed actual cotton fields and trees that looked like they were still in early October instead of November by their color and abundance of leaves. It was also very flat and very straight the closer we got. Seemed like it would make a great location for a long race.

Except I don't really like flat courses...

Anyway, I underestimated the toll sitting in a car for so long would take on my body. Getting out of the car at the expo felt like I had already run a race and was probably due to being not quite recovered from the marathon. I ignored it, stretched out a little and my travel buddy and I explored Savannah while we waited for the birthday girl to arrive.

We took a little ferry across the river from the expo to Savannah proper and enjoyed a little lunch and free margaritas before heading back to packet pick up.

Oh, by the way, it was gorgeous!

Finally we were all together and headed into the expo. I used to really love expos but lately I've found them to be kind of draining. I'm particular about the size and when they're tiny like the one in Indy I feel too exposed to shop but when they're huge like this one was I just get overwhelmed and want to get the F out of there!

After we picked up our stuff and went back through a second time because we forgot our parking passes we headed back across to Savannah on the ferry. This time we spent some more time checking out the little shops but since I'm a cheap-o I didn't buy anything. It was so fun just being with the girls and laughing and not thinking about all of my irons in the fire at home. I was still questioning the full marathon though. In general I felt fine but I just didn't know if I had another 26.2 in my legs or not.

We met up with some Saucony folk for dinner and drinks (I conservatively went with water) but I didn't have much of an appetite so got grilled cheese and chips. Unfortunately they were barbecue chips which I hate. So yeah, grilled cheese and water, perfect carb loading. Speaking of Saucony, the guy we had dinner with came in THIRD in the half....

We waited in line for the ferry forever to get back to the cars and didn't end up back at the hotel until after 10. Not ideal with a 4 am wake up call but it was a lot of fun and totally worth it.

Race morning I woke up again feeling fine, not stellar. I still couldn't make the call whether I was going full or half but since the split wasn't until after mile 11 I had some time to figure it out. The good and bad about traveling for a race is how little you have to choose from when it comes to gear. I only brought 2 options for shirts, 1 pair of shorts and 1 sports bra but I had a ton of fuel choices and way too many pairs of socks. I ended up deciding on a pink out with my pink compression socks, pink fuel belt and pink No Meat Athlete shirt (buy on like it here!).

We left the hotel around 5:20 to get to the ferry lot by 5:45 since they closed parking at 6. We got a little turned around on the way but ended up making it with time to spare and getting a good spot. The ferry line wasn't too long but I did think it was weird they didn't start running until an hour before the race. The trip was short across the river and we got a great view of the sunrise on the other side.

We made it up to the start and looked for our corral. We were in corral 12 out of 21 so had plenty of time to get in line for the potty...or so we thought. While we were waiting we heard the National Anthem by an incredible opera sounding guy and then the countdown and the gun. They were holding corrals about 1-2 minutes apart so we did have time but when we found an opening to get into the chute we saw corral 13 coming by! A bit of a scramble and we made it to the back of 12 and found ourselves between the 4:30 and 4:45 marathon pacers. A random photographer jumped in front of us for a photo op and though it is hysterical, I will not be posting it online because I don't hate myself or Erin.

Then we were off! There was a small climb (if you can even call it that) over a bridge and a lot of people around us started complaining that "It was supposed to be a flat course!" I'm pretty sure that overpass bridge was the peak elevation gain but I understand flatlanders aren't used to it. The sun was OUT and it started to warm up pretty quickly. Not hot but too warm for my taste (which is COLD). The bands along the course were all really good and gave the race a ton of energy.

Around mile 4 we stopped for a potty break and lost a few minutes. I stopped my watch so I could keep my intervals (I was following very loosely) and know my true running time since I knew the chip would tell me my race time. The 5 hour marathon pacer passed us while we were waiting but she didn't get too far ahead.

Just before the 10k split I started to not feel so great at all. After only 2 miles I knew I wasn't having my best day but the extended break at the mile 4 pit stop gave me a little life. I generally take an hour to warm up which was right around 10k and I knew it was bad. My hip was hurting and a few other very specific places which is never a good thing. I tried to run it out, then walk then stretch and it never came around, in fact it started to feel worse. By mile 7 I'd pretty much decided on the half but my ego and stubbornness were persistent in telling me I could survive the full. If you know me at all, you know that survival is always my goal however not how I like to race. If I'm just surviving, it's not worth it. If it's not fun, don't do it. I also needed to make sure I didn't destroy myself before Ironman training even started.

By mile 10 I had to call it. Erin was totally cool with it since we both kind of knew it was going to happen and because even having someone with you for part of a marathon is huge in breaking up the monotony. I sent a quick text to Ruth to let her know I was about 5k out but going slow and she said she'd meet me at the finish. By this point my hip was totally jacked and had thrown my knee and ankle out of alignment causing more pain. Not to mention my left quad was yelling at having to take on extra work.

To be totally honest, I felt like an asshole and a fraud. After the split when Erin markedly picked up her pace (I lead her to a wicked negative split by the way) I just wanted to give up. I wanted to cry and yell at myself and hide in a hole somewhere. I fell into a dark place really quickly. I felt like I'd ruined Erin's race and birthday (um, ego much?). I felt like I'd never get through Ironman if I couldn't even get through a marathon (um, hello, I'd just gotten through one...). I felt like nobody would want me as a personal trainer even though I worked and still work my ass off reading, studying and keeping up to date with new industry developments. Also, I'm pretty sure the exam didn't require me to run a step. I felt defeated.

But then I remembered that I signed up for this for fun. Remember fun? Before splits and Garmins and dry-fit clothing I ran just because it made me smile. "Wow I ran a whole mile today!" "Oh my gosh I finished a real race!" "What?! A medal! Look at me!" I wore my cotton socks and a big smile when I first started this racing madness. What happened? I looked around me and saw a lot of people struggling. People with tears in their eyes and people with grins of disbelief that we were coming up on the mile 12 marker. I heard a woman say she just knew she'd cry if she made it to the finish. I told her she was going to make it. Then I said "We'll all make it! We're at mile 12!" Some people smiled and most wanted to kill me. Fuel and train for a full marathon and then run a half. You'll have a boatload of energy too!

Being around so many people doing their first half gave me a lot of energy and got me excited again. I'd forgotten what it felt like to just be proud of finishing, to be proud to even be there. I was still hurting. A lot. But I picked up the pace, kind of, and decided to enjoy my last 1.1. A marathoner came through around my 12.5 mark and we all cheered him on. Before I knew it I saw 13 up ahead and it was literally just a right hand turn into the finisher chute. My legs were lead but I pushed to the finish showing a much faster pace than I'm used to which told me it was still in there but buried under some seriously tired muscles. My watch was at 2:37:55 which I just realized is a new PR! Even my 2:42 chip time is a PR so that's good to know.

When I crossed the line a nice older volunteer called to me to try to give me a full marathon finisher medal since my bib said full. It was sweet and I laughed that she thought I'd run a 2:42 marathon. I finished the race STARVING. I'd actually been hungry the whole race even though I had a mobile grocery store around my waist and wanted something with substance. I found a bagel and they were handing out Justin's almond and maple almond butter packets. Exactly what I wanted!

Ruth found me and we walked over to the sunny field to hang out and wait for Erin. I stopped for ice at the medical tent and they literally taped it onto me which was amazing. My legs were tight and tired but nothing like finishing my past half marathons and I was really excited about that. We laid on the grass in the sun and I stretched out and phoned home. I knew my family was getting text alerts and wanted them to know I was ok even though I didn't do the full. I also sent Erin a motivational text.

Not too long after I'd finished Erin text me to say she was at mile 24. Holy moly! She was flying! Ruth and I got up and headed to the finish to make sure we caught her and she flew by like she was warming up. It was fun to cheer on a friend at the finish but definitely stung a little that I wasn't finishing too.

I was still in pain the rest of the day and into the next one when we drove back home and I definitely know I made the right decision. I might try a short run/walk tomorrow but I think I need to give my legs a break for a bit and stick to short runs. Rock 'n' Roll puts on a good show and it was a really fun experience, especially racing with a friend and having a sherpa. It's usually one or the other. Now that my ego has quieted down a little I can see that I had a really good race considering I was trying to cheat death by racing 2 marathons in less than a month. I'm all about recovery and ignoring it this time around proved to be a mistake.