Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tales of a Runner: Run for Clean Air 5K April 21, 2012

So this past week's race - The Philadelphia Run for Clean Air - was pretty was beautiful by any other standards, near 70 degrees and sunny by 9am.  The sun was beating down at 8:30 as a warmed up and stretched.  Yeah.  I wasn't too sure how this would go over on my body.

I ran it, heat headache and all, and finished, although not with the time I was hoping for.  I came away somewhat disappointed.  Warm runs are VERY difficult for me.  I spend the rest of the afternoon treating a headache and chugging the coconut water to replenish myself despite being hydrated the morning of the run.

I've since found a few solutions -- continue with some light runs during the summer months, either very early morning or late evening, and get myself to a track to improve my pace.  I've definitely plateaued and I need some speed and track workouts to kick that issue.  Staying hydrated with water and coconut water.  I may even need to invest in some sort of pack and bring some with me on warmer runs.  And some sort of wrap around shades may also be necessary.

At any rate.  When one has a crappy time, she compensates with a cute picture.  Thanks to Tom at Meta4Photo out of Berwyn, PA for the photography on race day. And it was for a great cause - Happy Earth Day friends. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Manifesto

I was on the phone this afternoon with a potential artist roster addition, talking about where things are, where I want them to be with the business.  I can't remember the context exactly now, nor my exact words but I about a nano second after I said it, I heard it.  I heard the words that came out of my mouth. 

Over the last 3-7 months folks have congratulated me on my new business endeavors, made comparisons (and contrasts) between me and other colleagues, and many have mentored me and helped me work through a lot of business issues and insecurities.  So many have had to remind me not to compare myself to others.  And then followed it up with, "Is that what you want?  What is that you want?"  I didn't know. 

But maybe I did.  Maybe all that "comparison" was just my inner self really truly wanting and aspiring to that.  Yes, there is no way to be where others are right now - that is/was certainly a lesson to learn.  Everyone moves at their own pace and sets their own goals...moreover, my mentors have 15+ years on me.  I physically cannot be there.  But what about the rest?  Have I really just been squashing what I want because I was looking at it through the wrong lens?  Have I been afraid to admit or acknowledge it?  Is it the sort of thing that everyone else sees (and you know deep down) but can't face yet?


But today it just came out.  Like some gate opened and out poured the water of hope and aspiration.  Whatever I was holding back, afraid to admit either because I was afraid of wanting too much or afraid my dream would look too similar, whatever had me pondering for so long and/or second guessing myself was overrun today by my subconscious.

I want an office.  A real office.  I don't want to work out of my house anymore. I want space.  And frankly, to me, it feels more legit.  Sorry, my home address has never boded well for a business address.  "2nd floor" or "Suite 3" is more my style, coupled with some charm in the decor. It's been two years.  I'm over it.

I want a staff.  Maybe not a staff of 5 or 7 or 10.  But about 3-4 people.  Someone else in sales, someone to handle contracts and servicing, someone to handle marketing and social media with the presenter, and someone to handle AIE and crafting curriculum guides.

I want a roster of about 15 artists.  I was cautious at first.  I thought 5 sounded manageable because I wasn't really living it.  Now I'm living it and it's not so bad.  Moreover, having the right marketing mix can work in one's favor.  The key is to grow organically and in due time. 

I want a salary.  I want a salary because I'm an independent soul at heart.  I can go back to not feeling guilty over buying hand crafted jewelry...I can put my kid in private school...I can return to Greece in two years.  Yes, I love to travel.  A lot.  Day trips, weekend trips, conferences, vacations, whatever.  I'm a creature of change.  I have no doubt I was a nomad in a previous life.  I don't feel guilty about fact, I lose a bit of myself when I can't travel and I'm a miserable person because of it.  People don't get it but screw it, it's who I am.

I'm my own person, that is for sure.  Maybe I look like a few of my mentors all rolled into one.  Maybe I do look strangely similar to the places I've been, the people I've worked for.  We are what we live.  I don't care anymore.  On the surface the ambition might look the same, and maybe deep down, it is similar, but we are all our own selves and we bring that sense of self to what we do.  That's what differentiates us.

So yes, that is what I want.  An office, a staff, a slightly bigger, more evolved roster, a salary and the ability to travel.  To Greece.  I did more than say it in conversation.  I wrote it down.  And now it's mine.

Tales of a Runner: Gear

Gear.  Running Gear.  It's one of my favorite things about the sport.  Now I'm not a super matchy matchy girl but I've noticed that my closet boasts a lot of magenta, teal, turquoise, and black.  I recently added a red short sleeved top into the mix and it really stands out!

So why is the right gear important?  There are a couple of reasons. First, for moisture wicking and second for form and function.  I'm sure you remember being in high school and just grabbing your favorite tee and sweats and there were your practice clothes.  Maybe I'll blame that on the 90s, on 90s fashion rather...or on lack of social media throwing tons of cute sporty fashion at me...I don't know.  But that's besides the point.  The point is sweats can be great for a fast get your heart rate up warm up.  You may see X country runners warming up in sweats.  That's what they are good for -- retaining some heat (usually in the heat) so your muscles are warm.  That's it.  Most sweats are pure cotton and cotton is your enemy.  It absorbs moisture and actually makes you cold - not good when you are training and practicing in cold months, and in the summer, it's not helping either because you are swimming in a pool of sweat.  You need some poly blend to help wick the moisture.  And you want something that is form fitting.  It's less about being cute and more about function -- the more form fitting, the less bulk and weight you are carrying when you run.  I'm always aiming to feel light on my feet and in a race, for my personal best time.  That means running in weather appropriate form fitting clothing.  That sweatshirt will slow me - and you - down.  And we all know a second in running is a be all end all.

So where do I shop?  City Sports is one of my favorite shops - it has everything for every sport and I can find great running tops there as well as pants that work for running and yoga.  I did say pants.  I don't run in shorts.  I can't handle the chaffing that occurs so even in warmer weather, you'll see me in capris.  That said, I saw these ADORABLE Puma shorts on CitySports website and I might break down and buy them - they are on sale for $10 and weather appropriate for us Philadelphia folks right now (update: as of 4/16, they are sold out).  I look for something that has a little spandex for stretch and a micro polyester or mesh for wicking.  City Sports ALWAYS has a sale rack and it's pretty sweet too.  So no need to think you need to drop mega bucks on gear.

Below is a cute capri, also at City Sports - I have a pair similar to these and they rock.

I don't have a favorite brand really, but I do look also for pockets - on bottoms and tops (those Puma shorts have a pocket!).  Pockets on the side or back for my iPod or phone, keys and chap stick.  Essentials, right?  Also great is the little thumb hole in the long sleeved tops.  How many times are we pulling the sleeves over our hands for warmth?  Some genius created thumb holes in shirts so our hands are warm but we still have the ability to clench our iPods sans a glove.  Brilliant.

PrAna is a great source for yoga and stretching.  Do check the outlet for better deals.  The PraAna sports bra below is cute, can work as a bra underneath your shirt alone for yoga, also found on City Sports' site for $10 (update: as of 4/16, it's no longer available).  If you are bustier (sigh, not me), I highly suggest checking out Title Nine and Athleta as they carry a range of sports bras for every shape, support and cup size.

This PrAna pant is also adorable.  I found this on their site.  I probably wouldn't go on a long run with this given the poofiness at the top, but it's great for a short mile, for yoga, and even spinning.

I have also had a little luck at Target and Old Navy for a shirt here or there. Again, no straight up cotton but sometimes they have cute colorful tops that wick on the cheap. I mentioned above Title Nine and Athleta - they really are fabulous companies and brands for the sporty lifestyle gal. 

An upcoming post will talk about how to find the best running sneakers for your feet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tales of a Runner: Cross Training

I've have a run coming up in about 10 days and I've been a little neglectful in my runs over the past two weeks.  I'll blame it a bit on work travel the end of March and beginning of April as well as Easter.  Nevertheless, next weekend's run is looming before me and I need to make sure I'm warmed up and ready.  So that said, about 4 runs between now and then should be good since I'm not out of shape but going a while sans much means muscles aren't as strong as they need to be.

Besides runs, I do a lot of cross training.  I did not do this years ago when I trained for my half marathon and it was a big mistake.  Cross training is especially helpful in summer months, if you, like me, cannot run in temps above 70.  Seriously, I get a heat stroke if the sun is beating down on me and it's like, 74 degrees out.  So I've found that spinning, power yoga and some DVDs make ALL the difference - they work other muscle groups, mix up the workouts so I'm not bored, provide strength training and cardio training, keep me warm in between runs, and often mean a better run on race day.  AND, they keep me active in the summer.

A few of my favs:

Spinning -- I take classes at my local gym, ABSolute Fitness in Broomall, PA.  The spinning classes are great and often incorporate bands for some upper body work.

Jillian Michaels -- what can I say?  I love the woman.  She kicks my butt and makes me laugh as I sweat.  Her no BS style is right up my alley.  I have a collection of her DVDs but my favs are No More Trouble Zones, Shred it with Weights (she uses kettlebells), and her new one, KickBox Fast Fix.  Seriously, I'm always like, meh, how's she gonna challenge me THIS time?! (all snide and proud of myself) and it never fails to completely leave me sore and popping a few Advil the next morning.

Power Yoga -- I've been a devotee to power vinyasa since 2004.  I love this form because as you can see, I need intense, kick your butt workouts.  Vinyasa power yoga is a series of poses done sequentially in a faster paced flow usually in a heated room.  It delivers.  But more than that, power yoga is strength training, stretching and building flexibility (awesome for runners), toxin eliminating, and practicing thoughtfulness. It does quiet my mind because I'm very focused - on the pose, on letting go, on going a bit further or deeper in the pose.  I try to go once a week and right before a run - it's my internal and external cleansing of sorts. 

Yeah, I wish I could do this flying pigeon pose but not yet.  Bad ass, right?