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The Best Athlete

There are so many different types of athletes in this world. Basketball players, football players, tennis players, runners, swimmers, and the list goes on and on. However, I do not think there is one single athlete who can compare to Kilian Jornet. I’ve written about him before and shared a few of his videos. But yesterday my friend Jenny on G+ shared an amazing article about him that was featured in the New York Times. In four pages, Christopher Solomon tries to put into words the incredible athlete/human being that is Kilian Jornet. No, I’ve never met Jornet but one only needs to watch a few YouTube videos and read the article to understand what I’m talking about.

At only 25 years of age, he has dominated the ultra running world, but he dominates not because he really wants to win every race that he can. He dominates because he is seeking more than just running. He is seeking truth, happiness, life, and himself. Jornet’s oneness with nature, his simplicity, his humility, his fearlessness – these are all qualities that help make him the best. And these are all qualities that inspire me to be better. (It doesn’t hurt that he speaks Spanish either ūüėČ )

If you haven’t already looked him up on YouTube, check out a few of the trailers from his documentary, A Fine Line:¬†

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/42632868″>Summits of My Life Trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/summits”>Summits of My Life</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/55782654″>A Fine Line official trailer.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/summits”>Summits of My Life</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

Recovery Update: I’m feeling 90% and I think I could have run this afternoon, but I decided to wait. I’m thinking I will save my first run back for this weekend. The thought of an easy early Saturday morning run makes me very, very happy. ūüôā In addition to cardio at the gym, I’ve been doing some workouts from the Nike Training Club app. It’s amazing how someone who is a fairly decent runner can look like such an idiot when doing anything OTHER than running. I’m working on it though.

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Lessons from Dr. Seuss

My dear friend of over 24 ¬†years, Lesley, once said to me that kids should read more Dr. Seuss instead of fairy tales. I couldn’t agree more. I have yet to meet anyone who had a prince sweep them off their feet and carry them away to castle. Instead, life is a little more like green eggs and ham with a little Whoville.¬†

Dr. Seuss:

You’re on your own

And you know what you know.

And you’re the one

Who’ll decide where you go.¬†

I’m wiser than a year ago and I know where I’m headed. I have a goal in my mind and I’ve decided to make it happen.

My vision board to remind me of my goals, #beamazing

My vision board (thanks to Bettyvision) to remind me of my goals, #beamazing

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: My jogging around the house is significantly less painful. However, I’m not ready to push it just yet. The Chicago marathon is still far away and I’m keeping my focus on yoga and strength. On another note, I highly recommend downloading the Nike Training Club app. They have some awesome workouts.

My First Race as a Spectator

As clich√© as it sounds, I honestly believe everything happens for a reason. Although it isn’t always easy to see or understand, there is a reason for our ups and downs. A little over one year ago, I ran my last 20 miler before Boston and had big hopes for my upcoming marathon. There was no way to know it then, but I’ve since had my first DNF, my best marathon, a half marathon PR that resulted in pretty bad injury, and my first experience as a race spectator.

Sunday morning was suppose to be the marathon where I proved to myself who I am as a runner. Obviously that didn’t happen, but I had the opportunity to be a part of everyone else’s excitement. It was a bittersweet moment that I believe was meant for me to experience. I learned a lot of things sitting along the sidelines and I found a new appreciation for what exactly a race represents.

As Mario and the many other runners headed off for their race, I decided to walk around and observe all of the other things going on. After seeing the beer garden being set up, one really big truck being unloaded with water, a band setting up their equipment, and cutest toddler ever walking around with her mom, I decided to sit and meditate.  It was a beautiful morning and I needed to find it within myself to be happy with where I was Рa spectator cheering on my husband, my friends, and a lot of strangers.

Having my quiet time

Having my quiet time

After my much needed quiet time, I headed back to the finish line to watch the runners as they started to cross the finish line. I wanted to be right there from the time the first runner crossed the finish line to the time all of our friends crossed the finish line. I’m not exactly sure why, but it was actually an emotional experience for me. Words can’t even express how excited I was when that first runner crossed the finish line in 1:08:49. Can you imagine all of the hard work, miles, obstacles, workouts, ice baths, and foam rolling that man did? And then to win a race? What an amazing feeling!

Check out the winner!

Then as more and more runners crossed the finish line, I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster with every single person, mainly because I could relate to what they were going through. Some people puked, one guy fell to the ground, and one lady, who looked like she may have been 60 years old, crossed the finish line in less than 1:30:00 and looked like she had hardly broken a sweat. Some were first time racers and others were achieving new goals.

Runners congratulating one another

Runners congratulating one another

But perhaps the thing that stood out to me the most was the fact that the race director was there congratulating every single runner as he or she crossed the finish line. And in addition, all of the other runners were congratulating each other. It didn’t matter the time on the clock and it didn’t matter who beat who. What mattered was that everyone had shared an experience, whether good or bad, and they had all survived.

Tobacco Road Half Marathon

Tobacco Road Half Marathon

This, I know, was something I was meant to witness.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: I am feeling so much stronger than I have in the past few weeks. The yoga, strength training, and interval workouts are amazing and are helping me to keep my sanity. My hip is in less pain than it was yesterday and I know tomorrow will be even better.

And for your amusement, here is a pic of us riding home in a car seat. It was too much effort to take them out. Thanks Jessica and Charlie for the lift!!

Riding with Bill in the car seats

Riding with Bill in the car seats

Competitiveness

There is something about competitive sports that I really enjoy. Yesterday, while watching the beginning of the ACC championship game, I actually got emotional. (Someone is making a few amazing commercials.) The drive, the determination, the hard work, the absolute strength that those athletes show is absolutely amazing. I still remember a few years ago watching the Boston Celtics play the Miami Heat when Rondo dislocated his elbow. He kept playing and continued to put forth his absolute best, 100%. There is something indescribable about watching an athlete (or anyone else for that matter)  give it their all. It warms my heart.

Today during hot yoga, I had a revelation. I finally realized that what I thought was the¬†genuine¬†quality of competitiveness, is actually the flaw of comparison. I made a point to place my mat in the front corner right next to the heat vents. I didn’t want to ¬†be distracted by looking at how much better someone else was than me, or how much better I was than someone else. However, when I found myself looking to see if anyone else had a better dancer pose than me, I finally started to see my problem. Then when the instructor said we could come out of camel pose whenever we were ready and my initial thought was¬†I want to be the last one coming out of camel pose, I came to understand that this is a serious problem.¬†¬†Really Tracie? Why are you competing/comparing yourself with the sweaty stranger across the room who you don’t even know? Why are you getting your value from how much better (or worse) you are than someone else? Shouldn’t it be more like¬†you held camel pose for as long as you could today and that’s all that matters?

Over our delicious paleo dinner tonight, I shared my thoughts with Mario. I then came to realize a few more things… I have a fabulous older sister who I love dearly. She is one of my best friends and she is one of the most giving people I know. Growing up, however, I always followed in her footsteps and did all of the same things she did. I took a lot of the same AP/Honors classes, took the same dance classes, was a member of the same dance team, etc. I was pretty decent at all of those things, but I was never as good my sister. I’m 99.9% sure I spent my childhood years comparing myself to her accomplishments. On the flip side, I loved to play basketball, rollerblade, play tennis (or at least act like I could), go hiking, ride my bike, or anything else that required being outdoors. (I have no doubt in my mind that my poor neighbor hated when I called her every single day to come out and play.) I never followed through (as a younger Tracie) ¬†with the things that excited me the most and therefore, I don’t think I’ve ever really understood what I do well, other than by comparing myself to others.

I know I’m a good runner but I compare my times with the other local 29 year olds. I know I’m good at yoga (thanks to all those years of dance), but I’m often times too busy comparing myself to someone else to appreciate the fact I’m trying my hardest in that 100 degree room. Whenever I get beside anybody on any cardio machine at the gym, my goal is always to go faster and harder. I get my value by comparison. Not good.

My point is that perhaps I have done well with my running because I want to be near the local fast runners. But if I can just let go of comparing myself to them, maybe I’ll be able to find¬†my¬†best and not my best in comparison to… I need to give it my all and not just enough to be better than someone else. As Mario reminded me tonight – coaches always tell their athletes to give it 100%. It doesn’t matter the outcome. It matters that they give it 100%. Recognize your flaws and improve upon them. I mean isn’t that what Michael Jordan did?

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

Recovery Update: I’m reading Chrissie Wellington’s book and it’s keeping me happy and focused. Hot yoga is helping with that too. ūüôā

A Holistic Approach to Running

I just read perhaps one of the best articles related to running I’ve read in a long time. The title is Rethinking Running Health by Phil Latter. It starts off with a few details from Amy Yoder Begley’s running log and it includes a myriad of injuries. Strained hip flexors, strained achilles tendon, broken metatarsal, strained calf, and the list goes on. And I thought my hip hurt? The article then goes on to focus on how us runners need to look at running as a whole, not just the miles we put in out on the road.

Phil Latter:

What runners need is a more holistic approach to understanding our own health and susceptibility to injury. We should acknowledge that we’re apt to get injured pursuing our passion, but also look for ways to increase our health. We should give equal credence to personality type and biomechanics, muscular imbalances and emotional distress. Most of all, runners should assert that they’re unique individuals who have to learn their own strengths and limitations. And that’s more than just finding the right pair of shoes.

I really like the last line of the above paragraph – it’s more than just the right pair of shoes.

We are all unique. We all have our own limitations, muscle strengths and weaknesses, time constraints, foot strike, and many other unique characteristics. Perhaps the most important thing a runner can do is understand their body and learn what works best for¬†their¬†body. This is something I’m learning more and more about every single day.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: Today was the day I was suppose to race my next 26.2 miles. Instead I got to be a spectator for Mario and some other friends as they did the half marathon. It was different being a spectator but I enjoyed it. I think that was my first time sitting on the sidelines and cheering on everyone else.

Opening the Hips

I’m keeping track of all the things that, from my personal experience, will help my running the future. One of my main focuses is the hips. The following video from my favorite yogi, Tara Stiles, has become my favorite hip opening routine. Whenever I do get back to running, I plan to do these stretches before I head out the door. Granted, my toe isn’t touching my head, but I do the best I can. Maybe one day I’ll move as gracefully as she does.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Happy Friday!

We are on our way to a birthday party so I’m blogging once again in the car on a Friday night. I’m suppose to be racing my marathon this Sunday but that obviously isn’t happening. Instead I’m giving my hip a much needed break from cardio. I’m going to sleep in and do yoga tomorrow and Sunday instead. I’m looking forward to it!

Best of luck to everyone running the Tobacco Road Marathon on Sunday. Ill still be out there cheering you on ūüôā

20130315-182857.jpg

Check out my delicious after work snack today. Wheatgrass… Yummy!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Muscle Memory

For the next seven months, I’ve vowed to treat myself like the runner I know I can be. It’s fun to think about and as I mentioned earlier this week, the next few months are all about massive base building and strength training.

In the meantime, since I’m still not running, I’ve been able to get quite in tune with my body. Due to the fact I don’t have the beautiful outdoor scenery to distract me, only the same people I see every day at the gym, I’m focusing a lot more on exactly¬†what I’m doing with my body when I move. The most important thing I’ve learned? My¬†muscle memory is whack!

Just to give a few examples:

My right shoulder creeps up to my ear, I squeeze my left toes, and my right foot leads everything I do. I’ve also realized I do not engage my quads and hip flexors like I should. I learned this Tuesday when I did an exercise on the cable machine that required me to push back with my foot. Other than the fact that my left foot was beyond tense, (I could hardly get it to flex like I needed it to), my quads and hip flexors didn’t want to do much of anything. Then I noticed my shoulders and toes today while on the stair climber. Slowly but surely my right shoulder got closer and closer to my ear as my left toes squeezed harder and harder. It got to the point where I told myself to forget the planned intervals and just get that stupid shoulder to go down. I’m pretty sure I have some bad muscle memory going on…

WiseGeek:

Muscle memory can best be described as a type of movement with which the muscles become familiar over time.¬†Muscle memory thus becomes an unconscious process. The muscles grow accustomed to certain types of movement. This is extremely important in different types of training for sports. The more often you do a certain activity, the more likely you are to do it as needed, when needed…¬†This is one of the reasons that with many activities that involve the body‚Äôs muscles, like playing an instrument, learning appropriate technique is always stressed. You want your muscle memory to reflect the correct way to do things, not the incorrect way. Your muscle memory can actually play against you if you‚Äôve constantly been practicing something the wrong way.

I really like this quote from LifeHacker:

The key to building good muscle memories is to focus on the quality of the quantity. 

Quality over quantity. Why am I too stubborn to realize this? As a runner, I’ve always been about the numbers. Pace, mileage, PRs, etc. Obviously that’s not the best habit to have. Therefore, in addition to focusing on the strength and base building over the next two months, I want to improve my muscle memory. I need to stop practicing the bad technique and perfect the good technique. My running will be thankful ūüôā

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: My legs are still quite sore from the hip flexor strengthening exercises I did on Tuesday. However, I can tell the strength training exercises I’ve been doing are helping me to sit up straighter, engage my hip flexors, and open up my back. The overhead lunges are my new favorite exercise. I’m also starting to keep a record of all the exercises, stretches, workouts, foods, etc. that work well for me. I need to remember how these exercises make me feel and why they are beneficial for my running. If not, I’ll soon be back to where I am now. Injured.

My New Running Hero

I have just found my new running hero – Ariana Hilborn. In 2008 she ran her first marathon in 4:36. Fast forward to 2012 and she completed the US Olympic Marathon Trials with a time of 2:37:37. That’s over 2 hours faster in four years. She is 3 years older than I am and has accomplished an amazing feat. Hilborn didn’t run in high school or college and her first marathon, RNR Arizona, was the same as my first marathon. I’m her new biggest fan.

Her accomplishments are amazing and she gives me hope that normal runners like myself, with enough hard work and determination, can make amazing things happen. Check out this great article about Ariana.

Just look how cute she is!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Thankful

This afternoon I was driving home from the gym and I had this overwhelming feeling of thankfulness. In my mind, I have had more running struggles than I feel like one person should. However, I am thankful for every single one of them…

Today I received my confirmation email for the Chicago Marathon. I have no idea why, but I randomly entered the lottery last week. Either I saw it on someone’s Twitter feed, Facebook or somewhere else. I’m not sure but I’m certainly glad I signed up. October 13th will be my next marathon.

I am thankful for my struggles because I feel like I am finally going to have¬†my¬†race. I am thankful for my struggles because they have taught me more than anyone else’s words could have ever shown me. I am thankful for the feeling of sadness when I couldn’t run because it makes the moments when I am running, incredibly more rewarding. The ups and the downs are what it means to truly be living life. If everything seemed mediocre all the time, that would be beyond boring. As Mario’s dad used to tell him… life is like the sine wave. It goes up and it goes down. I’m headed up.

I know that my constant failures will eventually get me to my success, and I wholeheartedly believe that my best race is yet to come. I have seven months from tomorrow until race day. I will make this happen.

This Michael Jordan Nike commercial is my motto:

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: I’m still not running but I’m dedicating a lot more time to strengthening my hip flexors and leg muscles. Today I did the hip flexor exercises I wrote about yesterday. The difference I could tell in my left side was¬†amazing! Normally, I feel like I never engage my left side. Now I feel like I can’t stop engaging it. I’m dedicating the next three months to strength training and¬†massive¬†aerobic base building.

And can I just share a few of my favorite Ray Lewis quotes that I’ve been using for motivation lately:

I ain’t found no man that’ll out work me. You might out run me on the 40 but you ain’t gonna out work me for 60 minutes.¬†

It ain’t because I got something special. The only thing I got special is I made up my mind to be special.¬†

BAM!

You can hear more here.