Monday, July 6, 2015

Current Workous & Needing to Amp It Up

Well, my workouts haven't been as great as they should be of late ... how are yours going?  Share an update in the comments below.

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June 1st - 7th
Monday - Rest (evening appointment)
Tuesday - Teach TBC
Wednesday - Swim
Thursday - Teach TBC
Friday - Pre-race rest
Saturday - Run the Carlyle Sherstad!
Sunday - Open water swim - WOAH!

June 8th - 14th
Monday - Rest (another evening appointment, blah!)
Tuesday - Teach TBC
Wednesday - Swim
Thursday - Teach TBC
Friday & Saturday - Be lazy (I'm not gonna lie)
Sunday - Open water swim - WOAH!

June 15th - 21st
Monday - Be lazy (I'm not gonna lie)
Tuesday - Teach TBC
Wednesday - Rest (personal issues)
Thursday - Teach TBC
Friday - Rest, ramping up for the weekend because ...
Saturday & Sunday - Overhaul gardens, spending 3-4 hrs/day weeding, planting and trimming

June 22nd - 28th
Monday - Rest (ah my aching back!)
Tuesday - Teach TBC
Wednesday - Teach Body Work at 5:15am (blah!), Swim pm
Thursday - Teach TBC
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Household chores for 3 hours straight, blech!
Sunday - Run the TC Rainbow Run!

June 29th - July 5th
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Teach TBC
Wednesday - Happy Hour with a friend
Thursday - Teach TBC
Friday - Be lazy (Hey, it's a holiday ok?!)
Saturday - Run the Siren Freedom 5K
Sunday - Be lazy (Hey, it's a holiday ok?!)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy 4th 2015!

Wishing you all a happy and fun 4th of July!




Check out this design, made by me on Polyvore, or by the InkNBurn clothes for your own festivities.

I'll be back after the holiday with new blog posts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rainbow Run 5K 2015 (Fifth Anniversary)

 
 
Rainbow Run 5K (3.15 miles)
33:28
Average Pace 10:48/mile


A few months back, I signed up for this race and started to reminisce.  The Twin Cities Rainbow Run essentially started the year I got serious about running, which brought back a lot of memories (I started running the year before for fun, but began emphasizing performance and speed the following summer when the Rainbow Run was established).

Still feeling nostalgic on the Thursday prior to gun time, I started looking back on previous year's photos.  In them, it was fun to see all the iterations of rainbow "costuming" I had created in honor of this race over the years.  But when I started remembering why I picked what I wore, it was even more interesting to think through the historical connotations behind those costumes.

In reviewing what I wore each year, it feels almost like going through a historical document regarding the gay marriage movement in the US.  Check it out:

 


2011 - the first year of the race
2012 - race theme "wedding party" ... the conversation for marriage rights begins going mainstream
2013 - wearing my "vote no" shirt, gay marriage not yet legal in MN (legalized August of that year)
2014 - with marriage finally legal, things were more playful on race day, so I chose a "seems like a lot of work for a free banana" tank, though many other states were still battling out marriage rights

Wanting to get ahead of myself and start roughing in info for this blog recap, I again found myself looking through all theses photos Friday AM and thinking about how far we'd come in the marriage equality discussion over the last four years.  

And all the sudden ... boom!  My Facebook feed looked like this:




And I was shocked.  The only reaction I could have was ... it's about freakin' time!!




Seeing such a momentous announcement being made less than 48 hours before race day?!  AMAZING! 

So of course, given the timing, when InkNBurn asked us to post "flat mes" for their weekend check in on Facebook, I couldn't help but participate and toot the Pride horn a little.





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On race morning, I awoke feeling very tired and unrefreshed.  For some reason the night before, I had one of those nights were I wanted to sleep, felt tired, but just couldn't power down.  And when I did finally doze off, I woke up no less than three times throughout the night.

*Sigh* 

So, as I rolled out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror Sunday, I found myself thinking "How am I supposed to feel fabulous when I've got giant bags under my eyes?"

Trying not to be a party pooper, I sucked it up, got dressed, had a double espresso coffee and a banana... and then my sister and I drove off into the sunset sunrise. 

Though, technically, the sun had already been up for an hour or so since it comes up at 5ish these days, and we drove off to downtown Minneapolis around 6:30ish.  Anyway, regardless ... using our ever useful top secret parking method for Pride, we once again pulled into the parking ramp right next to the Basilica (free parking - whoop!) and crossed the street to catch the bus towards Boom Island.  For 2015, we got a second freebie too, thanks to Pride partnering with Metro Transit (free rides - whoop!).

We ended up catching the 6 bus at about 7:25 am, so when all was said and done, we were at Boom Island a wee bit earlier than we really needed to be, since check-in didn't start until 8:30.  Given that bus lines diverted for Pride starting at 8am, and I didn't know where they diverted to, I was OK with the early arrival; better to catch the bus and be a little early than have to walk 2-3 miles backwards on the race course to get to the start line, right?

Since we were some of the only folks in the park so early on a Sunday, my sister and I took advantage of no line at the park's bathrooms (yes - with flush toilets and running water/soap to wash hands), and then wandered the park to snap some photos.





By the way, have I mentioned how much I love starting this race at Boom Island?!  Oh right, I did in last year's recap.  But seriously, though - this view just on the cusp of downtown!??!  Fantastic!

After a few photos, we noticed that unlike years past, it appeared that race volunteers / coordinators were on it for 2015 and were already setting up shop.  Not wanting to bum rush them before the designated 8:30 check in time, my sister and I politely sat to the side and waited for them to ready themselves for the day.

Being so polite promptly bit me in the ass, unfortunately.  I say this because just as I said to my sister that we should wait to check in, a mother and her son showed up and checked in, stealing what I've coveted for 6 years ... a #1 race bib.  DAMMIT!  I could have been #1. 

*Sigh again*

Oh well.  Honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal.  And, I ended up with #3, so ... still not too bad.

Slowly after 8:30, my sister and I watched as people started to arrive at the park.  Eventually a line started forming at check in.  Since this race has had a bit of an identity crisis over the years (with literally a different location and routes every year), I began to wonder ... did repeating this race in the same location from 2014 help?  Would the race be bigger?  Would this be the year that we would finally see it grow?

As we watched check in swell, my sister and I hypothesized that the answer to the above question was: yes.  The race finally appeared to be growing over years past.  From what we could tell, there were around 300 people who were officially preregistered (we saw the numbers go from #1 to #2XX at the preregistered booth).  And for day of drop ins, they were starting with the number 400, so since I saw people with numbers in the 430's upwards ... we both hazarded a guess that there were likely around 350-400 runners for the day. 


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Some time around 9:15 or 9:20, I started to feel antsy.  I knew gun time wasn't officially until 9:30, but I was starting to feel a bit hot and was regretting not having a couple of big glasses of water prior to arriving at the race, so my anxiety from that poor decision was starting to gnaw at me.  My sister was smart and had drug along a water bottle to drink in the car ride down, so she was fairing better than I.  In addition to the low water level, I also realized that again this year I had forgotten sun screen.  Great.  An urban race with full sun bouncing off pavement.  This seems like a recipe for a great post race sunburn, no?

Knowing that I was already sweating in the sunshine, and that the day wasn't getting any younger, I was chomping at the bit to get this thing done and get to the finish line.  With 10+/- minutes until gun time, and just wanting to go, I asked my sister to head over with me to line up.  May as well get situated, I thought.

Not long after we got into position, the race organizers hopped onto the PA system they brought and asked people to line up. 

Oh, that reminds me.  New for 2015, there was music at the start area.  That was a nice improvement and made for a fun and festive race start.  In addition to the music, someone was also flying a drone, and there were a handful of photographers from Anderson Races and Pride roaming through the crowd.  One of Anderson Races photographers came up in response to our awesome InkNBurn shirts and asked if she could snap a photo of us, which we were pleased to pose for, and she mentioned that the photos would be posted for free on their website the week after the race.  Awesome!

Anyway, after people started lining up, I'm not sure what exactly happened ... but somehow it was 9:29 and then ... everyone started running.  I didn't even hear a gun, and wasn't sure if we were supposed to start.  But, mob mentality won, and my sister and I took off as I struggled to get my GPS watch going.  Whoops, I was a little slow on the uptake for that, and I think I missed the first 0.10 of a mile (more or less).

Straight out of the gate, my sister and I were cursing about the 2014 course, dreading the infamous bridge that we were sure to climb up & down and up & down as soon as we left the park.  Fortunately, we were stunned - instead of turning left towards the bridge, we were directed forward and away from it. 

Hm.  We thought maybe we'd loop through the neighborhood and then come back for it?  Fine with us!  At least we didn't have to start the race climbing and would get a minute to loosen up on a flat course first; since we could see the cones going up the bridge from the park, we were sure the bridge would still be included.   

As we figure-eighted through the neighborhood, we were passed by many jubilant runners, and had a fantastic time people watching.  At one point there was a guy behind us who was asking where the hash browns where, and that he thought this was a brunch run.  I think he started talking about eggs and sausages, too.  He was pretty entertaining to listen to. 

There was also a group of three guys that I found amusing.  They were wearing florescent colored shorty-shorts, and had the most immaculate hair and mustaches that I'd ever seen.  My sister and I just loved watching as they passed, though we were sad when they were gone as the music they blasted via a loud speaker in one of their fanny packs was great motivation, and I was sorry I couldn't hear it anymore once they left our sight.

Somewhere in the first mile, my sister and I kept wondering when we'd eventually wind back towards the bridge/hill and have to climb it.  As you might imagine, we were NOT looking forward to it.  Sure enough, as we looped out of the neighborhood, the bridge was coming into our line of sight again.  Ugh.

But suddenly we turned left and we were scot free.  What?!  We let out a whoop, fist pumped, and kept on going.  I'm sure people were wondering why we were so excited, since there was nothing else remarkable on course for us to be cheering about.  Maybe they just thought we were enjoying the festivities of the day or cheering for a nearby photographer?  LOL!

To illustrate what I mean, last year we started where the green dot is on the below map, and turned left to climb up and down the bridge circled in purple.  The course was set up so that you actually crested the hill on the bridge twice via an out and back ... all within the first half mile of the course:




As you can see in that snap shot, we never even touched the bridge, and instead looped through the nearby neighborhood and then took a straight shot to the parade route, which started somewhere around mile 2 on the map below.




Omitting the bridge - what a fantastic course amendment!!  Thank you race organizers!!

Now, before you think that since the bridge was cut from the beginning of the course, this is now a fast and flat course ... I got news for you: this race is not totally without inclines.  There were still a few lumps along the way that we had to crest, which is obviously unavoidable given that the course crosses the river.  But, honestly, none of the inclines were too terrible.




Despite the omission of the bridge climb, and the fact that this race was cooler than it has been in years past, somewhere just before mile 2 I found myself really starting to struggle with this run.  I was hot, thirsty, and lets face it ... right now, I'm just plain out of shape.  Running a 5K two or three times per month does not a runner make.

I started to feel a bit frustrated with myself, and also mad that I was actually slowing my sister down.  She was totally trained up for this race and about to PR, and I was holding her back.  ARG!

Several times I debated telling her to go on ahead and get the PR of her life, and just take a walk break myself.  But I knew my sister wouldn't want to go ahead without me, and I refused to slow her down to a walk on a day where she was sure to PR.  So, I sucked it up, pushed the puke factor down into the pit of my stomach, and focused on the crowds. 

Oh right, the crowds.  I should clarify here.  Since the last mile of this race course takes place on the actual parade route of Pride, the streets are lined with the early arrivals who are staking out their seats for the parade.  That means automatic built in course support!  Hooray!  And as I've said in years past, this race has some of the best crowd support a runner could ask for.  Everyone there is happy to cheer for everyone on the course, no matter how fast you are going.

So instead of focusing on the fact that I was hot, I had stopped sweating (a bad sign), and I wanted to just stop and walk ... I focused on the crowd.  And my sister's pending PR.  And I said to myself ... it's less than a mile, suck it up buttercup.

And sure enough, the time passed by, and we made it.  With a 33:XX in the distance, I knew we were home free with a PR for my sister ... and a bottle of water for me.  Hooray!

As soon as I crossed the mat, I rushed to the water table and gulped down half a bottle, then took a few walking loops through the adjoining courtyard to let my heart rate settle.  Although I wasn't feeling absolutely terrible, I was hot and dehydrated, and just need to give my heart a few seconds to slow down.  Sure enough, after a minute or two of pacing around, I started to feel better, so I rounded up my sister (who was waiting nearby in the shade), and we got in line for our post race treats.

Lining up, we passed the water table again, so I shamelessly took another bottle.  Usually I'm very conscious of taking only my fair share at a race to ensure those behind me get something too ... but, given the choice between snagging an extra bottle of water or risking having me passed out on the sidewalks and needing a medic, I figured the second water was the lesser of the two evils.

As I sipped my second water, and we crept up to the treats, I was immediately enthused.  Not only were the food choices healthier this year (read: no sugary cereals, instead add a gluten free energy bar option), there was ... *queue singing angels* ... FRESH FRUIT!  YES!  There were BANANAS!!!

After four years of running this race, finally ... what I've asked for all along ... post race bananas. 

Thank you Pride!

After we grabbed our snacks, we tore off the bottom coupon of our bibs to redeem them for our shirts (which we were also thrilled about, since they much more attractive than year's past):




And after grabbing our snacks and our shirt, we found ourselves with our hands full.  So, we crossed the street to the parking garage (see ... that super secret parking works out well, since we end right at the garage) and dropped our goodies.

After all, we had one last tradition to complete before coming home ... Scotch Eggs and a hard cider at Brit's.




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And that's the story of how race bib #58 joined my collection - here's to another race soon.  With the holiday coming up next weekend, you know that's none too far away!! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Finally!

After years of wondering why it hadn't, it finally happened. 

Congratulations to everyone impacted.  I couldn't be happier for you.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Lazyman Ironman Summer 2015

I suppose it's about time that I remind folks that Lazyman Ironman starts in 4 days.  Won't you join in the fun with me?




Register here.  And don't worry, all are welcome (Chaska resident or not).  If you live out of state, you can opt to have your finisher's prize mailed to you!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Marketing, Positive Body Image & Being Accountable for One's Self

So, there's something I've been kicking around in my head for awhile.  For the last two or three years, actually.  I've been debating in my mind if it was really an issue or not.  And then, a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook.

If you don't want to jump to the article using that link, I'll save you some time and tell you - the article essentially discusses how the shift in marketing towards positive body image, regardless of what you look like, is great ... but we need to remember that marketers are only changing their tune because at the end of the day, they want us to buy their crap.

And shortly after reading the above article, I came across another article via James Fell - Body for Wife.  Rather than summarize that article, I'll steal a quote: "I don't believe anyone should be shamed for their body, but ‘body acceptance’ is tricky ... Accepting (or even glorifying in some cases) obesity and unhealthy lifestyles isn't something we should make trendy.”

That right there. 

"Accepting (or even glorifying in some cases) obesity and unhealthy lifestyles isn't something we should make trendy.”

That's what I've been worried about for awhile.


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Before I get too far in this conversation, I feel like I should remind you all about my history.  Most of you might remember, but if you don't, it's no secret that I struggle with my weight.  Growing up as a kid, I was always the fat one.  And even now into adulthood, I have a hard time keeping my weight in a healthy range. 

That being said, when I first started seeing "real" or "normal" models being used in marketing campaigns, I literally blurted out: "It's about FUCKING TIME!"

Seriously, I was stoked.  Because for years and years, our media has inundated us with images like this:


 
60s/70s fashion icon, Twiggy
 

 
90s fashion icon, Kate Moss



More recently popular, model Cocoa Rocha


I've always agreed that images like these obviously do not portray healthy or attainable body types.  And that's not even getting into the whole Photoshop thing, which is a discussion for another day.

Then, to make matters worse (as if the above wasn't enough), our culture somehow started coupling unattainable beauty standards with bulling.  Which meant it became more and more common to hear some snide comment if you weren't the right weight, or wearing the right clothes, or smelling of the right perfume.  Ah, brings back the good old days of coming home crying because someone at school called me fat, again.  Or picked me in gym last, again.  Or whatever short end of the stick I was suffering that day.

So when I saw my first ad like this, I was like ... yeah!  Finally, some acceptance that other body types are OK, too.




But it wasn't just me that got excited about this shift.  The overall media buzz surrounding the use of more "real" looking models in the last few years has been HUGE.  So things started snowballing.  All of the sudden it wasn't unheard of to see a physically handicapped model, or a plus sized model, or a model with downs syndrome gracing the "front & center" of an add campaign.

One of my favorite current campaigns, by the way, is Desigual's choice of Chantelle Brown, who has a rare skin pigmentation disorder.




So for the last few years, I've thought the growing acceptance of diversity in marketing was great!  Coupled with the concept of positive body image, it seemed like things were really starting to turn around.


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But, somewhere along the way, things started to seem off to me.  It wasn't right away.  It wasn't in the first year or two of this being a trend.  But somewhere in there, I started seeing ad campaigns like this, and comparing them to each other ... it just felt like something wasn't right.





So I started researching.  And Immediately I got frustrated.

Why?  Well, until just a short time ago, Lane Bryant - the "no angel" add makers above - were owned by the same parent company as Victoria's Secret: Limited (L) Brands. 

Hm.  Isn't that interesting?

Parent Company - Limited Brands
Subsidiary - Victoria's Secret, ad slogan: "The Perfect Body", models known as "angels"
Subsidiary - Lane Bryant, ad slogan: "#ImNoAngel, product line marketed to plus sized women

A parent company letting two subsidiaries market against each other?  That' doesn't seem right.  They wouldn't let their brands slaughter each other, would they?  Well ... you can bet your ass they wouldn't ... unless it was going to make them good money.

So I started to realize, these people don't give two toots about body image.  They are only trying to get you to buy their shit. 

While the upside to that is we get to see healthier, more normalized models in the media; the downside to that is that marketers aren't doing it because of acceptance or wanting to promote healthier body types, they're doing it simply for sales dollars.


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Feeling jaded by this realization, I started look down on many campaigns featuring "acceptance" - be it the Lane Bryant ad (which photo I feature above) or the Dove campaign (referenced in my original link at the beginning of this post) or anything in between. 

And I also started to wonder ... is it really a good thing to be so widely accepting?  Can marketers take this too far?

So for the last year or two, I've been wondering where marketers would go with this "acceptance" process.  And I started to worry a bit, because with obesity becoming ever the norm in the United States, I wondered - could it be possible that these campaigns could begin to feature even larger models?  And if so, what will this mean?

Sure enough, just a few months prior to me writing this post, a new plus sized model began gaining momentum in the media.  Because I do not mean to shame her, I am going to omit her name here.  But I do want to include her photo, because it is relevant to what I have to say next.




Seeing the above photo, my first reaction was - wow, what a beautiful woman.  She really is very lovely.  And naturally, being curious, I started reading articles about how she was getting some very good modeling contracts and such. 

Unfortunately, that's when I started seeing other photos of her as well, some of which featured her in a non-Photoshopped and non-ideal body positions.




I saw all these additional photos and I started to think ... are we going so far to accept people of all types that we're normalizing, or even idealizing (via media promotions), a physical appearance that could have some serious overall health and wellbeing impacts?

Before you light up and attack me for this question, I challenge you to think about how marketing works.  People today see messages and photos tied to various products.  We are bombarded all day long with messages on what to wear and buy and eat and do.  And whether we want it to or not, it becomes ingrained in our memory.

Case in point #1?  I can sing the McDonald's big mac song from the 80s/90s 'till the cows come home, but God help me if I need to recall the capital of Nebraska.  (It's Lincoln, and yes, I had to resort to Google.  Meanwhile, I still can't get the "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese ..." song out of my head).

This just goes to prove that media and marketing today is an innate part of who we are.  Regardless of how hard we fight it, those messages becomes an ingrained part of our personal self. 

And unfortunately, many people don't even fight those messages, they just accept them as fact.

Case in point #2?  In the last two months, I've been asked multiple times by people I work out with if they should start taking protein supplements via various advertised shakes ... because they help with weight loss or muscle build or whatever the advertiser claimed in their ad; never mind that the people asking me if they should take them already get plenty of protein in their daily diets and aren't trying to become body builders or "bulk up".

So I look at the influence marketing has had on just myself and those around me and I begin to wonder: how will the use of obese models shape us as it becomes more frequent in the media?  Will seeing these models begin to normalize obesity and thus create a crutch for those who want to justify their current unhealthy lifestyles?  Meaning, will this "acceptance" in marketing encourage people to accept their obesity rather than try to address it?


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Thinking through this topic, I decided to reach out to a friend about this and discuss.  As I expected, she told me that this topic is a VERY slippery slope.

And yes, this is where I have to admit, there is definitely a very fine line in this discussion.  I can't go around telling people to be happy with who they are (and I definitely think that's a must), all the while saying we shouldn't use overweight models in advertising.  Not to mention, it is obviously IMPERATIVE to be kind and accepting of all people.  We should never talk down to someone or shame them - regardless of what they look like, what color they are, or even what kinds of clothing they choose to wear.

But my friend made an exceptional point.  She mentioned the "This Girl Can" campaign that came out some time ago, and said something to the effect of "that's an ad I can get behind because it's features all different body types, but not for the purpose of pointing out one is fat or one is skinny - it's simply to show them doing all kinds of things, and that they are all trying to do what is best for them".

Hm.  Good point.  There was actually a great message behind that ad campaign, and it featured all types of body shapes.  Granted, it was more of a PSA than a message to consume some sort of product, but still ... it did use all kinds of body types to portray its' message, and I didn't walk away feeling like it glorified obesity or anything stupid like that.


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After thinking through how much media can brainwash us, but my friend mentioning how "This Girl Can" featured people doing what is best for them, I find myself stuck in the middle.

I love the all inclusive, positive message of "This Girl Can".
I hate how the average person is so snowballed by marketing.

So where does that leave me?  I guess ... I don't know what else to say.

Maybe the best thing I can do is bring us back to where I started at the beginning of this post, with a James Fell article quote:

"Perhaps most important is not to listen to trends about what is allegedly hot and what isn’t, and instead do what you feel is best for you."

So I end this post by saying - please, everyone, wake up!  Stop doing what marketers want you to do.  Stop accepting their portrayals as truth, or acceptance, or whatever their message of the hour might be.  Instead, just ignore all that and do what is best for you.

And maybe, try turning off the TV a bit more often.  If nothing else, at least that will free you from some of the marketing to begin with.


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What are your thoughts on this topic?  Start the discussion below.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Workout Trends - Then & Now

I don't know if I've ever mentioned ... that my husband is an investment nerd?  He kind of is.  He likes to watch investment shows and read business reports.  We even get a digital subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

I mean, don't get me wrong.  I'm not married to any Wolf of Wall Street or anything like that.  My husband just likes to follow what's happening.

Anyway, how does this relate to fitness?

Well, this:

 


I particularly enjoyed this part:

 


Because duh - teaching and such.  I mean - a 9.2% increase?!  Amazing.  Maybe that's why my classes have gotten so big in the last year or so.  Either way, let's hope that trend continues.

Happy Monday!