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Goals for June (and beyond)

Now that school has officially ended (as soon as I hand in my research proposal) and the summer is truly beginning, I feel it is only appropriate to set some goals for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had goals throughout the entire year, but they focused on doing well in school for the most part. Since I’ve made it through successfully, I feel that it is the right time to focus on my body and my running. So here are some of my plans for this upcoming summer:

1. This summer I will be running the San Francisco Marathon and I would like for it to be my best yet. Thus far I’ve completed three hillier marathons, so this should fit right in with the elevation changes. This means that I need to start focusing on hillier training and completing my long runs on schedule. I’ve used every excuse not to complete long runs for the previous two marathons (school and such), but now those are not viable reasons. In fact, I am aiming to join a new running club that will keep me honest and remind me what it is to wake up at 7am on a Saturday.

2. Although it isn’t something I discuss much, I’d like to focus on putting better foods into my body and perhaps dropping a few pounds. Life will still be hectic with my new internship, but I should have more time to cook and select healthier options. The main goal is to drop 5 pounds and return to my high school weight. As a reward I’m planning to buy some more “adult” clothing from Anthropologie (I need to stop dressing like an engineer all the time…).

3. I’ll be moving into the city in a week and I want to make the most of what my new home has to offer. This means running in Golden Gate park, visiting some of the local farmers markets, and spending more time outside of my apartment.  I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife SF has to offer, so that is a major goal of this summer. If you live (or find yourself) in San Francisco and want to grab a cup of coffee, hit me up!

4. Read more! During the school year I’ve only had time to read a few books here or there (and plenty of psych papers). This summer I’m going to take some time to enjoy the books I have piling up on my shelf. Does anyone have some good suggestions?

I’m sure there are other things I’ll want to accomplish, but these are the most salient. And if I have the time I plan to travel, even if it is just to Marin or Napa.

What are your goals this summer?  What tips and tricks do you have for sticking to them?

Dearest exercise

Please do me a huge favor and find your way back into my life. Seriously, I miss you and want you back. I’ll do anything. Really! Don’t make me grovel…

Honestly, although I love working out, I just haven’t in the past three weeks. What does this correspond with? Well that would be the starting of the school year. Since beginning classes I’ve given up control of most other aspects in my life and given myself over to the program. It is rigorous. My sleep pattern has suffered, I’ve had minimal time to meet new people, and, worst of all, my running is going on the back burner.

This weekend, when I was given the opportunity to have a few hours off, I chose to go to a party in San Francisco. This in itself is not the issue, the issue is my decision to stay out late and drink too much so that I could not pull myself out of bed to go for a long run in the morning. Instead I got restless sleep for a few more hours and spent the entire day working in my office. I did manage a short run this morning, but I know that I need to pick it up a notch to prepare for my marathon in December.

The issue I’m finding is that I feel inappropriate leaving the office early when so many of my fellow grad students are staying in the building to get work accomplished. In fact, I can honestly say I felt guilty when I left the office to go play frisbee this week. If I could manage to get out of bed by six every morning then maybe I’d be able to have the time, but this would also require me to leave the office before ten each night. Sigh, what did I sign myself up for?

How do you make the time to workout? What sacrifices have you made to exercise more frequently?

This is what I spend my time doing these days... (Did you know art is hard?!)

Note: More positive posts to come later. Maybe. If I can find the time to write posts.

Hill of doom!

For the past few weeks I’ve been all to friendly with my treadmill. It was a great learning experience and I’m proud to say that I managed to stay on the darn thing for more than an hour. But once I arrived on this gorgeous campus, I realized that running outside would be so much more exciting.

Yep, that is right, be jealous. This is legitimately the most gorgeous campus I’ve ever step foot on. You drive up to the main building and are surrounded by palm trees. The other great fact? The area is mostly flat! Most people assumed it would be hilly since I’m close to San Francisco, but that is a horrible misconception.

Although I love being on the flat ground, there is one reservation where it is nothing but hills. I’d driven past the entrance a few times and saw my new Hill of Doom. I wasn’t initially planning to run the route, but somehow I got sucked in. I stopped a woman on my way up to the entrance and she mentioned that there were “a few hills” but she thought they were doable.

Doable, maybe, but it was brutal. My time fluctuated like you wouldn’t believe. You’ll notice that miles two to four were a constant incline, I’ll admit I took plenty of walk breaks trying to get to the peak. It was well worth it. From the top you can see the most amazing view of campus. And that hill on the way back to my apartment was quite the treat (and my fastest time for the whole run).

As I was hoofing it up I passed a larger woman who was struggling. I stopped to talk with her about the terrain and she was the sweetest. She warned me that the hills wouldn’t be over for a while; we had a nice time commiserating about the difficulty before she sent me on my way. Is it odd that I want to high five everyone I see that is kicking butt? She gave me a major boost and I continued on with a huge grin on my face (I’m a nerd).

I’ve decided that I want to attack these hills once a week. My goal for the year is to improve enough to jog 90% of the trail. It is going to take a lot of dedication, but hopefully it will help me prepare for the Big Sur marathon next April.

How frequently do you run hills? Do you have a hill of doom that you like to conquer?

Getting back on the wagon

So I’m ashamed… I haven’t been talking about it lately, but I’ve fallen off the wagon. Big time.

The last time I ran more than six miles? Well that would be the day of my marathon. I’ve got two big races coming up in the next three months and I feel like I’m behind. In less than six weeks I’ll be running a half marathon and I don’t know if I’m prepared to do my best. I’m sure that I can finish without difficulty, but I may not come close to my PR.

Why haven’t I been running? I have a few million excuses for that. I’ve had a major change in my life in the past few months, going from a gainfully employed engineer and transforming into an unemployed bum (soon to be graduate student). The area around my parent’s house is not conducive for running more than three miles. I hate treadmills.

But the real reason I’ve been slacking is my own laziness. I love running, I truly do, but for some reason I’ve been horribly lazy as of late. Because I have little to do with my day I put off running until the afternoon and then I find that it is too humid outside to really enjoy a longer run. And I’m running alone these days. I used to enjoy a long run every Saturday with my group of slower ladies, but when forced to complete a long run on my own I flake out quickly.

I have less than a week and a half until I journey out west and I want need to make the best of it. I hope to start a proper daily routine in California, one where I wake up before 8am and get a run in before exploring my new home. Until then I need to throw my excuses aside and focus on my goals. Do I want to improve at my next marathon? Of course, but there is no way I will unless I start training properly. Hopefully I’ll create an effective training plan that I can follow over the next few months.

So here is to a new day, a more motivated way, and pushing myself further. Time to go make friends with that treadmill.

Have you ever found yourself off the wagon? How did you hop back on?

Why I did my first half marathon – Guest Post

I’m still off gallivanting in Toronto, so I asked my blogger friend Melissa to step in for me. Melissa is an amazing gal and I’m so excited to meet her when I finally make my way to San Francisco (only 31 days!). Have you ever done a half marathon? Read on to hear about Melissa’s first and her amazing journey.

Hi everyone! My name is Melissa, and I’m honored that Michelle asked me to write a guest post for Running Jewess! I blog over at Journey to Marvelous about my quest to lose 100 pounds, getting healthy, eating right (or at least trying to), and staying active (again, trying to, haha)! Unlike Michelle, I’m not much of a runner…but I have walked two half marathons in the last two years! When Michelle asked me to write a post for her blog, I knew that’s what I had to write about.

In May of 2009, I saw a brochure for Team in Training and their program to fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in exchange for training to do an endurance athletic event. I’d never been an athlete, so training to do a half marathon seemed like an impossible task! I almost brushed it off but for some reason the idea stuck with me. Was I crazy to think that I could train to do a half marathon? As someone who barely finished running/walking “the mile” in high school, could I really train to go 13.1?

I gave it some thought and decided that it was something I wanted to do. Even at my current weight, which back then was around 280 pounds, I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it. I signed up.

The training was tough! The very first day was only a 3 mile jaunt around the park—nothing by most standards—but even just walking I was winded! And I was sure sore the next day…but I kept plugging along.

Week after week, the mileage increased on our training days. If I missed a week, coming back to training the next week was scary because the mileage had gone up by at least a mile or two! I remember completing a 7 mile walk and feeling so proud of myself! Soon it was 8 miles, then 10. When I completed 12 miles two weeks before the event, I knew I would be able to finish the actual race. That was an amazing feeling!

Finally, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon arrived! It was time for me to do my big 13.1!!

On the morning of the race, I didn’t feel nervous at all. I was just excited to get out there and cruise through to the finish! I didn’t really have a time goal in mind…I just wanted to get there. That was good enough for me!

By the time we got to the starting line, the sun was coming up. My training buddies and I cruised across the start line and around The Embarcadero. A cool San Francisco bay breeze pushed us along.

Soon we were at Mile 5! We had a lovely view of the Golden Gate and I was feeling great!

We weren’t making great time, but we were doing it and that is all that mattered to me.

But soon enough, the course got tougher.

We started climbing up the hills into The Presidio section of San Francisco. I hadn’t trained on enough hills. At my weight, it felt like climbing Mount Everest. My knees were starting to ache and as we went uphill for a good couple of miles, I often had to stop on the side of the street and rest. Some of my training buddies waited for me, but I started to feel embarrassed and defeated. Would I be able to finish?

I just kept climbing, one foot in front of the other. I was exhausted, but a great sense of determination came over me and I knew that I couldn’t let myself down by not finishing! The miles kept clicking by and soon we were on the downhill slope. We walked along the beach, wrapped around through Golden Gate Park and when we hit the 12 mile marker, I knew that I would make it.

I was so excited when I rounded the last turn and could see the finish line ahead!

Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon was one of the great defining moments of my adulthood!

I didn’t consider myself to be an endurance athlete—morbidly obese athlete wannabe was more like it—but I had set a goal and I had accomplished it. I had proved to myself and everyone who didn’t think that I would finish (and there were definitely some doubters) that I was capable of doing whatever I set my mind to.

It was such a rewarding, inspiring experience!

Here I am the day after the marathon, pointing to my name on the side of the Nike Store in downtown San Francisco. My name was plastered on the side of the wall for the world to see as someone who was a fundraiser—but pointing to my name that day, I was pointing at the name of someone who was a finisher.

And I’ve never looked back.

Walking my first half marathon in October or 2009 inspired me to do other things that felt impossible…like starting my weight loss journey (losing close to 75 pounds since July of 2010) and walking a second half marathon, shaving close to half an hour off of my first time!

The moral of the story is…if there is something out there that seems like an impossible, daunting challenge…GO FOR IT! You never know what you are capable of until you try. It just might inspire you to do some other great things!

Thanks for reading!

Melissa from Journey to Marvelous