About Me

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Hi, I'm Whitney! I am a middle of the pack runner who discovered the fun of triathlons in 2009. Join me in my adventures in life and training. I run with the Rush Running team and enjoy the fun that comes with such a supportive group of friends who understand what running means to me. I'm newly discovering road biking and the fun that it entails.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Be careful what you wish for!

Monday is our weekly speed workout session at the old high school track.  We have track night year-round even when it's dark.  Tonight was a special night since Pearl Izumi was in town to share one of their new shoes with the group.  It was a cold night and I felt bad that we didn't get to hear more from the Pearl Izumi rep but we were all business with the cold. 

The workout always starts with a warmup.  I got there early because I do better with a longer warmup especially in the cold.  I got in 2.5 miles and did the last 1/2 mile in the new Pearl shoes.  They were very different than my Saucony shoes which was partly due to the type of shoe.  The Pearl shoe that they were showing was a neutral shoe and I normally wear a high stability shoe.  Pearl Izumi has made changes to their shoe design which makes it a more minimalist style shoe.  The insole materials are very different than previous.  The new shoe models will start hitting stores in early February...the colors were awesome. 

After the warmup we learned what the workout would entail.  It wasn't a long workout but it was tough.  The workout called for 3 x 400 at 5K pace with 30 seconds rest between each.  Then 2 x 800 at all out pace.  There was 2 minutes rest between the last 400 and first 800 and then another 4 minutes rest after the first 800.  It is unheard of for Mike to give us 4 minutes rest in a workout...that means that he serious about wanting to see all out pace on display.  After the last 800, there was 2 minutes rest and then repeat the 3 x 400 at 5K pace. 

I got started and ended up between groups.  I was too slow for the girls ahead of me and too fast for the girls behind me.  I didn't pay much attention to my Garmin and instead just ran by feel.  When I got started on my 800, I called out to my friend Tony that was just running.  He was running a similar pace as what I wanted to achieve so I asked him to pace me.  I don't think he thought I was serious because he kept going (we were running opposite directions on the track.)  We met back up at the start line and then he joined in and began to set the pace for me.  It was tough...but exactly what I needed.

I took my rest time and even though it was cold I enjoyed it.  I started the next 800 and made it around a 400 again before Tony joined up with me.  This interval he talked me through it and tried to help me work on my breathing.  I tend to wheeze and whistle (completely unintentional) when I run hard and Tony was encouraging me to breathe more deeply to get oxygen in to fuel my leg turnover.  All valid points but hard to think through what he was saying and to do it when trying to run fast. 

Last I got started on my final 3 x 400 repeats.  These were again accompanied by Tony...he would meet me on the opposite side of the track and run about 250m with me.  He definitely pushed my pace and got me to perform better than I would have otherwise.  The last 400 was super tough and I was not a happy camper when we finished.  I ran hard and it hurt...the last 100 Tony was taunting me to try and catch him, increase my turnover, etc.  This time he wanted to hear my wheezing to know that I was giving it my all on the final one. 

Here is my workout recap.  I couldn't have hit these paces without using Tony as my pacer.  The paces that he helped me reach were faster than my comfort zone and the experience helped me learn that sometimes we need friends to pull us along versus just trying to push ourselves alone.

I had my Garmin set to do splits every mile and so I pieced together my times by looking at the times from each stopping point or rest interval.  I also use the Auto-pause setting so it pauses during my rest intervals too.  I'm really proud of the 400's...I managed to drop my pace considerably from the first to the last.  My 800's came in at a very respectable time since I don't feel as fit as I should when it comes to my running.  The last 400 is what I'm most proud of...I'm not sure when I last ran a 400 below 2 minutes.  Wow...what a great way to start the week!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The LifeMaster Challenge

I'm very lucky to work for an employer that is focused on health and supports and encourages all employees to live healthier lifestyles through health coaching and also a well subsidized corporate fitness center.  One thing that our fitness center offers is a yearly fitness challenge called LifeMasters which entails fitness and health testing for prizes.  Prize levels are gold, silver, and bronze and are determined by achieving points in each test.  Prizes range from free snacks at the snack bar to free locker for a year and even free gym membership.   I enrolled because who wouldn't want the chance to receive a free gym membership!

In August the testing dates were unveiled and I began thinking about the fitness testing that I would have to complete for LifeMasters.  The testing is all done in one sitting and you can only redo the test once.  I signed up for testing on November 15th because it gave me some time to prepare!  All of the tests are separated out with results targets by age range and also sex so that a female has a different target than a man for the test. 

I knew that my weight was going to have a big impact on my testing since one of the key tests is a body composition test.  I decided after reading some blogs to try out the Advocare 24-day challenge.  It was just what I needed to get my eating in control and begin losing weight.  The Advocare program works by completing a 10 day cleanse and 14 day follow up to reset your metabolism.  I enjoyed the structure and really liked the breakfast meal replacement shake.  It really helped me reset my dependence on sugar which is one of my biggest weaknesses and something that I constantly have to focus on.  Since August I have maintained a 15 pound weight loss and I plan to continue using meal replacement shakes through the holiday season to help maintain nutritional consistency. 

I also prepared by attending more boot camp classes in the weeks leading up to my testing date.  Strength testing was another test that I was worried about.  The test to be done is a simple push-up test which requires the participant to complete push-ups dropping to a distance of two inches from the ground on each repetition.  That's pretty low and I was scared at how closely they would monitor the form. 

Test morning came around and I headed to the gym.  (I actually got confused and went for testing a day early...oops!) The testing required a full fast for necessary blood work tests.  Up first were the blood tests which were done for cholesterol and glucose.  Two separate mini-vials of blood were drawn and the finger pin prick was probably the most painful part of all the testing for the day.  The blood tests took just a few minutes and then the results were captured on my tracking sheet.  I was pleasantly surprised by my results which scored me full points for both categories and also a bonus point.

Next up was the fit check to determine cardiovascular fitness.  This was a simple test using a polar heart rate monitor to evaluate your resting heart rate and any heart rate variations during the test to determine you cardiovascular fitness.  The test administrator entered your information into the watch including height, weight, fitness level, and age and then darkened the room for the 3 minute test.  I was happy to discover that I scored a 56 which translates to an elite level. 

In every fitness test you need to know what the given result means to benefit from it. In Polar Fitness Test the person gets a score, Polar OwnIndex, which is comparable to VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake in ml.min-1.kg-1), a commonly used descriptor of aerobic fitness. VO2max is a good indicator of performance in endurance sports. The range of the OwnIndex is the same as that for VO2max, from 25 which can be measured for unfit sedentary individual to 95 which is the level reached by Olympic athletes such as top cross-country skiers. VO2max is highest in sports that involve large muscle groups such as cross-country skiing and cycling. (excerpt from www.polarusa.com)

Next I moved on to the dreaded Bod Pod. This required stripping down to my swimsuit and placing a fabric swim cap on.  While the machine was calibrated, I stepped on a traditional scale to capture my weight. 

Then I got in the bod pod for the 1st of 2 tests.  The bod pod tests using air displacement to determine your body fat and fat free mass.  The test was very simple for how much I had stressed about it over the previous months.  I definitely still have work to do for next year's challenge in regards to my body composition. 

After completing the bod pod, I put my workout clothes back on and headed to the final testing stop...strength and flexibility.  The flexibility test was the simple sit and reach test.  I had not done a sit and reach test since school and the Presidential Fitness tests!  Thank heavens we got three tries on this one because it took me until the 3rd try to hit my gold goal distance.  Next year I need to warm up my hamstrings a little more before the test.  The strength test was the push-up test and I wasn't too surprised to see the wooden block on the mat so that the test administrator could determine if the push-ups were going low enough.  He counted out the push-ups as I went and gave form corrections a couple times.  I barely made it to the 24th push-up which had been my goal to get full points.  That last one to hit 24 wasn't pretty but he counted it!

Here's a summary of the points that I earned on each of the tests...
Glucose - 1 of 1
Cholesterol - 3 of 3
Cholesterol Ratio - 1 bonus
Blood Pressure - 3 of 3
Body Composition - 0 of 3 - only .4% away from 1 point
Strength - 3 of 3
Flexibility - 3 of 3
Fit Check - 3 of 3
Bonus - 2 of 3 - completed 2 races to secure race points
Total - 19 points for gold status

I just barely squeaked by with gold status! I have plenty of room for improvement next year in several categories.  I will continue to work to improve my body composition and weight which will help other categories.  I also missed out on bonus point opportunities in both the strength and flexibility categories.  I had told myself I needed to do 24 pushups and I think that mentally I set myself up to stop at that point.  I am pumped that I got the necessary points for gold status and can't wait for my free membership to start!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Top Zazzle Pics

Sometimes it's hard to find the right gift for someone. I took a few minutes to play around on www.zazzle.com and discovered lots of fun gift ideas. Zazzle has a great sale running today which includes 50% off cards, 25% off mugs/calendars/ornaments, and 15% off almost everything else. It's their Super Saturday sale! Below are some of my picks for the iPhone and iPad lovers in your life. FYI - Hint hint to my friends and family!




Disclosure: Zazzle provided me with a small gift certificate in exchange for shopping the site and sharing some of my favorite products with you. All product selections presented on this page were made by me.

Turkey Trot and Family Fun

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I started mine by running in a small, low-key Turkey Trot race.  This is the 3rd time that I have participated in this Turkey Trot with my family. 

The course is one of our local golf courses and you run the cart path.  Since it's a golf course there are two options for you to run...the front nine or the entire course.  We had a big group participating and together tackled 20 miles...

Me - 5 mile full course
Kristen (my big sister) - 5 mile full course
Scott (my brother in law - 2.5 mile front nine
Lily Cate (my almost 5 year niece) - 2.5 mile front nine
Dad - 2.5 mile front nine
Debby (my stepmom) - 2.5 mile front nine

The weather was perfect for a run on Thursday with overcast skies and temps in the mid-50's.  I saw a lot of runners overdressed for the weather and I started the race the same way.  I wore shorts but on top had on a short sleeve and long sleeve top.  Just after mile 1 or approximately on hole 5, I executed a quick change and took off my long sleeve.  In the process, I managed to lose my Sweaty Band headband that I love.  I didn't even notice that my headband had fallen off until after we were back home from the race having brunch.  (Random side note...a friend of Kristen's ended up picking up my headband and rescued it!!!)
Looking out on the course as my sister begins the final hill

The golf course is a really pretty course with a creek running through it.  There are quite a few wooden cart bridges and a couple looked like they could have tripped you up. Luckily I'm extra nervous of wooden bridges so I was super careful crossing them...I have never liked how the planks sometimes move as you cross a wooden bridge!  There are also lots of small hills and inclines and then a whopper of a hill up to the club house as you complete both hole 9 and hole 18.  The final hill to finish was a heart burner and super tough. 


We all ran the race separately...but apparently Lily Cate challenged my dad to a final charge up the hill to finish their race.  I'm not sure of their time I think it was around 40 minutes or just under since I saw them starting the climb up the hill as I passed the 14th hole.  My time was around 51 minutes and Kristen was just behind me in 57 minutes. 

The race is very low key and while they have a clock at the finish line they aren't actually tracking finish times.  At the start, those in the competitive division were given a label with their name on it.  Then upon finishing, someone took the label and put it up on a poster board in the appropriate race/age division.  Places were determined not by a time just by the order of stickers on the board.  Sometimes it's fun to non-race races like this one to just have fun running with other people. 

We headed to Kristen's house after the race for a brunch of quiche and oatmeal.  Lily Cate and I had some scooter races and then we timed Lily Cate racing laps on her big wheels and also her bike.  That girl is quite the bike rider and she showed off some of her trick riding skills.  I had to head home mid-morning to start work on our desserts for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Our dinner turned out super yummy and we all did a pretty good job of not over-eating too much! I think we were all very thankful for the beautiful day and for having a healthy, loving family to share it with. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Working out with Macca

Chris "Macca" McCormack is a well-known Ironman champion and for most triathletes you fall in the Macca camp or Craig "Crowie" Alexander camp.  These two men are pretty different in their approaches to racing and have always been viewed as nemesis in the sport. 

I fall in the Macca camp...I love the confidence that Macca brings into everything he does.  He is quite the character and very accomplished as an athlete.  As an athlete, I appreciate all the hard work and effort he puts into training.  Here are some of Macca's achievements from his website:

  • Won 76% of career events.
  • Finished on the podium 88% of the time.
  • Won 200+ races around the world since 1993.
  • Only person ever to be Olympic Course + Ironman World Champion.
  • 12 Ironman Victories, more than any other male.
  • Broken 8 hours in Ironman distances 4 times (Only man to break it more than twice)
  • Five-time International Triathlete of the Year.
  • Four-time Competitor of the Year.
  • ESPN World’s Fittest Man.

  • A few weeks ago, I noticed Macca tweeting and Facebooking about #MXvip and #MX12.  I dug into it and discovered that Macca has developed and released a series of training videos for his fans.  Tonight I needed to fit in a workout for my Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge points for the day.  I decided it was time to get my bike out and on the trainer for the winter season. 

    My poor bike has sat unloved and untouched since August.  She is in desperate need of a tune-up but instead of doing that back in August I just let her sit.  Don't worry...I'll make sure to show her some love when my favorite mechanic is back in town over the holidays!  But for now she is back in use and happy on the trainer!

    I went to Macca's website and discovered that he was offering a free trial of 3 of the workouts.  I signed up to try out the first workout which was called Over/Unders.  The trial video is not a complete workout...it's just a brief video of about 8 minutes that samples the full length video. 

    The workout was set up as 3 sets of intervals.  The intervals were 4 sets of 2 minutes each and within each 2 minutes it was broken out as 40 seconds on and 80 seconds recovery.  I set up the intervals on TabataTimer.com to match the intervals that Macca laid out in the video.  I love using this website because it gives you verbal cues including some whistle blasts to let you know that the time is nearing the end on an interval.  I love hearing those whistles and the announcer say rest! I simply set up my work and rest times, then selected 4 cycles and 3 tabatas total. 

    Since this was my first bike trainer workout in a while I kept my resistance at a low level especially during the rest periods.  I added a longer warm up and cool down to the set and ended up with a 50 minute workout.  My sprints were not near my normal capability and this will be something that I'll watch over the coming weeks as I rebuild my bike fitness. 

    My initial review of the workout was that it was fun to hear advice from a world-class athlete. The timing of the trial video was off which surprised me at first.  Once I understood that the trial will only showcase how to do the workout it made more sense!  I will receive two more sample workouts in the coming weeks and will probably decide after the next one on whether to purchase or not.  The feedback that I have seen on Facebook and Twitter has been very positive about the videos.  I'm such a big fan that I am definitely leaning towards buying the series.  The series is less than $100 and comes with a 30 day money back guarantee plus instant access to the training videos.  Up next week to try out will be a run workout called Rolies Polies. 

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    My iPod Rocks

    I'm a pretty rational girl by most accounts but I have a secret...I believe that my iPod possesses intuition and knows what song I need to hear and plays it for me just when I need to hear it. 

    As you can see from the picture above...I still rock an iPod that I've had for years and I don't even know what generation it is.  I stopped utilizing Playlists a long time ago and prefer to just play my music via the Shuffle feature.  This iPod keeps me entertained on runs and even at my desk where to the delight of my pod-mates at work I listen to music when I need to focus and get big projects done. (They can't understand why I don't use my iPhone to listen to music!)

    This weekend I took my iPod with me during the Girls on the Run 10K and I used the shuffle feature to play my music.  I had it stashed in my Spibelt and didn't touch it during the race.  The race provided several examples of my iPod's awesome DJ skills!

    Hot n Cold by Katy Perry - this song came on just as I was leaving a shady section of the course and moving into the sun.  Half a mile earlier when I had hit the shade I had gone from hot to cold and then as this song came on I was literally going from being cold to hot again.  The song kept me entertained as I trudged up a hill with the sun shining on me.

    Within A Mile of Home by Flogging Molly - Flogging Molly is one of my little known secrets...I love Irish rock music.  This song came on literally as I was passing the mile 5 marker and I was within a mile of ending the race.  The hardest mile of the race was in front of me and the lyrics and beat were pumping me up to the hill that I had to tackle.  "Don't turn your back on me, Don't ever let me down...We are within a mile of home."  Wow...it was just the reminder that I needed to stay committed to myself and to trust my training to carry me up and over the hill. 

    Love Left to Lose by Sons of Sylvia - This song has a chorus that repeats quite a bit in the song...
    "Oh whatcha waiting for? One more step and you're out that door. Oh whatcha waiting for? All we've got is love left to lose." This song was playing as I made way up the big hill...it's a big hill that is about 3/10th of a mile long.  The lyrics speak about love but what spoke to me was the reminder to just keep taking one more step up and over the hill. 

    I know that my iPod didn't know that I needed musical pick me ups at these points on the course...really I know that!  Even though the rational side of my brain knows and understands this I can't help believing that somehow my iPod has intuition and knows me.  Either way all I can say is that Shuffle is the best DJ ever!!!  

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Girls on the Run Race Recap

    Yesterday I participated in the Girls on the Run 10K race.  The Girls on the Run is an organization that provides girls with training to complete a 5K and works to inspire girls to be healthy and confident.  The program begins in fall with the return to school and culminates with a 5K event for all the girls in November.  In our area they host a 10K race and a 5K race as well. 

    The 10K race began about an hour before the 5K and was a much smaller race.  There were around 150 runners in the 10K and around 900 in the 5K.  The 5K had around 600-700 GOTR participant runners alone!
    Scenes from the 5K from the GOTR Facebook page

    It was a chilly morning with temps in the low 30's...perfect for a race but stressful for outfit selection.  Choosing running clothes is just more stressful when doing a race because you don't want anything to distract you from the race.  I ended up wearing tights, a long sleeve black top, and my Rush racing singlet over top.  Since it was Girls on the Run I decided to spice up the outfit with a red tutu.  I wore a Rush fleece hat but chose to skip the gloves since my hands usually get warm after the first mile or so.  When I finished there were sweaty crystals on my hat!

    The race course was a slightly modified version of the back half of the Bentonville Half Marathon course.  Luckily I didn't see the route before I registered or I might have changed my mind on participating.  The course has a significant hill in the final mile to the finish and that hill has been my nemesis for years.  I started out near my friend and fellow Rush teammate Jody and we had conflicting Garmin paces.  I was worried when my watch showed that we were under a 9 minute pace at the start but Jody's Garmin was accurate to the pace which was about a 9:30 pace.  Whew...that would have been a painful mistake at the beginning of a 10K.

    Jody and I separated around the 1 mile mark when she pulled ahead slightly.  I made it my goal to keep her in sight as much as I could.  The course took us to the Bentonville trail system around mile 2.5.  The paved trail would then take us back to the square for the finish.  When we got onto the trails I felt colder since the trail was in the shade.  It didn't last very long before the trail headed into the sun...there were several beautiful moments along the trail where you could see the steam rising off the creek next to the trail. 

    The two water stops for the race were along the trail and the volunteers passing out water on such a cold morning were wonderful.  All along the race course the volunteers were great and always cheerful.  One thing I noticed though was they all had on tall boots! Most of the volunteers looked to be high school age and all had on skinny jeans or leggings with tall boots.  Nothing like a fashion lesson during a race!

    I ran near the same group of people for almost the entire race.  I could see Jody up ahead of me by about 1-2/10's of a mile.  There was also a small group that appeared to be an experienced runner pacing a pair of newer runners.  By the time we hit mile 4, this group was splintering up.  The newer runners were starting to slow down and take walk breaks.  Their pacer would try to encourage them or would run ahead and then wait for them.  It was entertaining to watch...until I passed them.  The pacer made a comment about how they were being passed by someone in a tutu.  It seemed a little snarky but I just kept on trucking by. 

    As we approached mile 5 I started to begin the mental pep talk for the upcoming hill.  I had made it this far in the race without any walk breaks and I wanted to make it up the hill the same way.  I talked myself into taking the hill nice and easy and focused on the people ahead of me using them alternately as ropes pulling me up the hill and inspiration to catch and pass.  I was quite happy to finally exit the hill by Compton Gardens and begin the short sprint to the finish on flat ground! 

    I didn't pay much attention to my watch after those first few minutes when Jody and I discussed pacing.  I thought I had banked some time during the early miles to account for the slowness that the hill would bring.  I checked my watch as I made the turn into the final straight away and realized I was much closer to an hour than I thought.  My 10K PR is around 57:37 but my happy place for most 10K's is around 62-66 minutes.  I was thrilled to finish at 59:41 especially with that hill and without taking walk breaks. 

    I met up with Jody by the water and her first comment was about how close we were.  If I only had stayed with her as we passed the first mile...when we parted ways she picked up about a minute on me and held that through the finish.  Jody and I wandered through the post race festivities and then I headed back to check out the finish.
    What a giant cereal bowl! 

    The biggest surprise of the day was that my friend and first running buddy in Arkansas Holli was running the 10K.  I was super surprised to see Holli Saturday morning since we hadn't talked about the race.  I had just sent her a note on Friday saying how not very thankful I was to have not seen her in ages!  I was so surprised and excited to see her at the race and wanted to cheer on her finish.  I had perfect timing as I made it to the end of the crowds just as she was coming around the corner to finish.  After the race she told me she had some choice words/feelings about the hill!
    Holli and I with Sparky after the race! You can still see the crystals on my hat.

    I also got to cheer on a young friend Karly who won the 5K for females. Karly is around 14 or so and is just the sweetest girl. She was so happy to have won and I gave her a big hug when she came out of the finish chute. This was one of her best 5K times on the road ever and she said she could have gone faster!

    Overall it was great seeing so many friends at the race and also seeing so many people out there encouraging the girls in their race.  The finish line was a steady stream of young girls finishing and their smiles were contagious.  The adult coaches and buddy runners were so full of pride for their teams of girls.  It was awesome!!!



    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Thanks Blogging - Day 4

    One of the things that I love about the Arkansas Women Bloggers group is that they help promote ways to improve your blog through content, marketing, and other technical design aspects.  During the current blog challenge, not only are they providing me with topics to write about but they are also encouraging me to develop my blog through better photos and use of social media sites to promote my content.  This brings me to today's topic for the Thanks Blogging challenge which is all about promoting your blog's Facebook fan page and highlighting at least two fellow bloggers fan pages. 

    Before the Unplugged conference this year I hadn't given any thought to developing a Facebook fan page.  I was very surprised that leaving the conference my main takeaway was the need to promote my blog via Facebook fan pages.  I followed some tips from the other ladies and developed my page and then began working to build my fan base.  One of the things that I like about the Facebook page is that it helps me reach readers who are not bloggers.  I'm definitely still working on my Facebook strategy and one way that I am learning is by watching how the other ladies utilize it to promote their blogs. 

    Here is a link up to my Facebook fan page.  Won't you consider joining it!

    Some of the ladies who I am learning from include:

    Lela Davidson, author of Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? and Blacklisted from the PTA


    Lela has utilized Facebook to promote her books and her writing in various magazines across the country.  I love that she shares fun sound bites from her writing for her status updates.  What a clever way to lure readers into the story. 

    Another great blogger on Facebook is Evolved Mommy...Stephanie McCratic.  She does a really great job separating her personal and blog identity.  I follow her blog page and am also one of her friends and I really like that she is able to distinguish between both identities and post unique content under both feeds. 

    Another feature that Stephanie has done that I want to try out is polling her followers via her Facebook page.  She usually does this when new tech gadgets are coming out and she asks what do people want to know about it!

    And the final Facebook page that I want to share with you is from Ceri for her blog called Recipe Doodle.  Ceri does a fantastic job of drawing you into her content with photos of her food creations.  The photos are always beautifully staged and draw you in with interesting recipe titles. 

    I hope you have a chance to visit these ladies and their Facebook fan pages for their blogs.  If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share with me for my fan page please do so on my page wall or via the comments section below.  Thanks!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Thanks Bloggin - Day 3

    Today the Arkansas Women Bloggers Thanks Blogging challenge is all about sharing the things that I am thankful for this year.  It's hard to narrow that down to just one of two things. 

    You see, for the past year I have walked past this sign each and every day as I go in and out of my house. (Believe me...it's real and I really wish my hand writing on the plate was way cuter but it isn't!)

    This plate provides me with the visual cue to Give Thanks for all that my life contains.  It's not any one thing but rather all the unique aspects that make my life so much fun.

    I give thanks for all the beautiful sunrises that I never knew I was missing out on. How lucky am I to see this everyday!  

    I give thanks that I am able to find more laughter and joy than pain and tears in my life.  I give thanks for my health and having a strong body that allows me to be an everyday athlete.  I give thanks that I have a job that affords me the comforts of food and shelter and provides me with plenty of challenge and inspiration.  Most of all though, I'm thankful that I have wonderful family and friends who are beside me through the good and bad.

    I hope you remember to give thanks for all the joys that life has brought to you.  Happy early Thanksgiving!

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Thanks Blogging - Day 2

    It's Day Two of the Thanks Blogging challenge with Arkansas Women Bloggers.  Today's topic is Thanksgiving Memories and much to my brother-in-laws dismay I have to share the story of our Thanksgiving family photo.

    A few years ago, my sister Lindsey decided that we should all wear the same color shirt for Thanksgiving.  She decided that the color for 2009 would be purple.  This was a year that we had everyone together including my brother-in-law Scott's parents Polly and Joe.  Well, Joe didn't have any purple shirts so Polly picked up a couple purple sweatshirts for Scott and Joe to wear. 

    Without any further ado, here is the result...the purple family!  If I remember correctly there were quite a few funny comments made about our matching family pic on Facebook that year.  What cracks me up isn't our purple-ness but that Maxx the dog is walking out of the picture.  I usually do the camera set up for the timer photo and I did a pretty crappy job that year!

    Lindsey decided that the tradition should continue and informed us to all wear red in 2010. I love how Lily Cate is quite pouty for this picture.  We really broke tradition in 2010 by taking the picture inside.  That's unheard of for us since we always take our family pictures out by the rock stairs in my parents back yard.  Lindsey and her family also wore red at their Thanksgiving in Norman that year too. 

    In 2011, we were supposed to wear orange but I don't think we did a good job with it.  I can't find the picture but I think orange was a tough color for us to pull off since not everyone had orange in their wardrobes!  Orange happens to be Lindsey's favorite color so I know she didn't have any trouble with it. 

    Lindsey hasn't told us yet what color to wear for 2012.  The tradition of wearing a matching color got off to a rocky start but I'm sure in some fashion we'll work to continue it...just with better fashion sense!

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    It's time to work that bootie!

    Hey friends...it's almost time for the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge!!! Every year, Amanda at Run to the Finish hosts the HBBC as a way to encourage and motivate each other during the tough holiday season.  Why wait until January to start working on a new and better you...start today!
    HBBC2012-OptionSmall
    Here are the details of the challenge.  If you are interested in participating, please use my name (Whitney Sutherland) for the referral.  This will be my 3rd year participating and I can't wait to get back to tracking my fitness and nutrition points.  It really does encourage me to get in my fruits and veggies each day and to drink plenty of water.  Those are the easy points!

    When: November 19 - January 5
    What: Earn points for being active and eating healthy for a chance to win prizes
    Why: Share and motivate with other fitness enthusiasts during the difficult holiday season when we all work super hard to avoid holiday weight gain!

    Here's how it works:
    You register to participate for $25.  The funds go to cover prizes...yep there are prizes! Prizes are given out randomly each week based on being current with your point tracking and there are also prizes for the overall winner in each category at the conclusion of the challenge. 

    You choose a group based on your level of fitness activity.  This helps even out the playing field since longer distance training will automatically score more points. 

    Each week you track your points.  Amanda will send you the link to the challenge tracking form.  Each week you go into the spreadsheet and complete your points information.  IT's easy to track your points:
    1 Point per mile (run/walk)
    1 Point per 3 miles biked
    1 Point per 20 minutes of Pilates, yoga, stretching or core
    1 Point per 15 minutes of low impact cardio or weights (i.e. low impact aerobics, easy biking, skiing, skating, water aerobics, snow shoeing)
    1 Point per 10 minutes of high impact cardio (i.e.spinning, kickboxing, lap swimming)
    1 Per day where you reach a minimum of 7 servings of fruits and veggies (here are details on what is a serving)

    New this year is the Facebook group which will offer a place for challenge participants to gather and share motivation tips and tricks as well as interact with sports experts including my favorite runner Deena Kastor!
    What are you waiting for...sign up today! Here's the link and remember to list my name for the referral!

    Thanks-Blogging Day 1

    The great ladies at Arkansas Women Bloggers are hosting another fun blogging challenge this month called ThanksBlogging.  Up first for Day One is the challenge called Outside the Walls - Photo Challenge.  The challenge is to take a photo of something that you are thankful for and then work with photo editing software to improve the aesthetics of the photo. 

    I am a poor photographer...the majority of my photos for this blog are taken using my iPhone.  At our conference this summer, I was surprised at how focused on photography a lot of bloggers are.  I had never even thought about composition or really putting much effort into the pictures that I post.  The sessions on photography gave me lots of ideas but honestly I hadn't tried out too many of them yet since a lot of my photos are taken during workouts or races. 

    This challenge asked us to play with settings and photo editing.  I had never tried photo editing software before so I used the site that AWB recommended in this recent post called Using Pic Monkey to take your photos for So-So to So-Cool.    Gina wrote this tutorial and it was helpful as I tried it out.  The most important thing that I learned was to just play. 

    I made several changes to the color and contrast in the image to make the color pop on my Japanese Red Maple.  The other edit that I did was to add a water mark with my blog address.  I see more and more people doing this on their photos and need to make it part of my process especially for photos that I want to put on Pinterest.  So here is my handiwork with the before and after side by side.

    The subject that I chose is the beautiful Japanese Red Maple tree that sits outside my front windows.  I love the beauty that it brings to my house especially now with the changing colors.  I love Fall but the change to shorter days makes me a little sad.  To counter that, every year I put up my Christmas lights early.  I wanted to include the Christmas lights in the photo since I'm thankful for the cheery atmosphere that they bring to my house.  It is so welcoming to come home each night to my little house with the blinky lights! I also chose this subject because it is literally outside the walls! It was a dreary afternoon when I took the photo and I used my iPhone without the flash.  The original photo did not capture the bright colors on the tree so I was excited to see how I could bring out the color using PicMonkey. 

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Sip and Stretch

    Last week I had something fun to look forward to for my Friday evening...it was Sip and Stretch at Yoga Story.  Several friends were all planning to attend and it turned out to be a great Girl's Night Out.
    Yoga~Story
    The class started at 5:45 and it was my first class in the new studio.  I liked the space a lot better since there was more room and it didn't feel as cramped.  There were about 15 students in the class and there was one brave man in the class.  Cindee began the class by taking a poll on whether the group wanted a slow or fast flow for the class.  The majority voted for a slow flow since there were several newer to yoga.  I was undecided since either practice sounded fine to me...I was just excited to be starting the weekend with friends!

    We got started with a slow flow to ground everyone in the practice and the flow that would be the main base for the class.  The slow pace quickly disappeared once all were comfortable with the flow and we moved into a challenging series with a new pose on each inhale/exhale.  It was one of the most challenging flows that I've ever done but it never felt overwhelming since the poses were all very simple it was just moving with the breath and maintaining the breath. 
    Rhonda holding boat pose...and then we did boat pose crunches!

    There was another series that involved ab work that was tough.  I think Cindee forgot that we were doing crunches at one point because she just kept talking.  It was very relieving to finish up the ab series which was a mixture of high boat to low boat and also eagle crunches.  From there we moved to yoga nidra or guided meditation. 

    I always enjoy this part of the class and try to remember some of the wise nuggets that are shared.  This class was one of the first times that I felt really connected to the meditation.  As she guided our focus, I could feel my attention following her instruction.  After about 15 minutes of this, Cindee gently brought us out of shavasanna to finish up the class. 

    She raised the lights and then it was time for wine and snacks of cheese/crackers and chocolate.  Everyone moved about and ended up in the center of the studio chatting over the snacks.  It was fun to get to meet some of the class participants that I didn't know and also to chat with my friends.  Our community is quite small and it was fun to see how my friends also knew each other. 

    AJ and I were yoga twins!

    From there we headed over to one of the restaurants on the square and had a great dinner.  We all went in our sweaty best and our attire wasn't quite up to the par of the rest of the restaurant!  We even had to ask them to turn down the air in the area of the dining room where we were since we were all still hot from the hot yoga studio.  Overall, it was a great way to start the weekend and I look forward to taking more Sip and Stretch classes!

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Trick or Treat Track Meet

    The Rush Running crew meets up every Monday night for a speed workout on the old Bentonville track.  Attendance varies each week with our max around 100 people and on cold and dreary days around 20 people.  We have celebrated holidays with special workouts since our group started over four years ago.  This year was no exception...we introduced the group to the Trick or Treat Track Meet!

    This was my brainchild and I couldn't contain my excitement in the weeks leading up to Halloween.  The timing was tough since our coach Mike was busy taking a group of runners to the Des Moines Marathon the weekend before.  I knew that I had to make the workout and track meet as easy as possible for Mike in order for it to be successful! I lined out the workout plan and got Mike's okay on the events that I was proposing.  Since this was supposed to be a fun workout I wanted to make sure and mix up the distances that we were covering.  We had the race clock out for people to keep track of their times and we had the stereo blasting for some musical motivation!

    Dressed as SuperGirl and unveiling the meet events with Mike Rush!
    Going over track etiquette and the waterfall start. Safety first!
    Here's a rundown of the events.  Some were treats - just simple running and others had a trick to them! It was the Trick or Treat Track Meet so we had to throw in a couple of mischievous tricks!

    1) Madame Fortuna's Prediction Run - a timed one mile run.  Participants were asked to submit a prediction of their finishing time.  GPS watches could not be utilized for pacing.  A costume bonus was given of a 10 sec deduction for wearing a costume (however, this deduction could be refused.) Closest actual time versus prediction was the winner. We had several come within 1-2 seconds of their predictions.  Very impressive pacing!

    2) It's the Great Pushup, Charlie Brown - a 200 meter sprint with one small trick! Participants began on the sound of "Go" by dropping to the ground and completing 10 pushups.  Upon completion, each began a 200 meter sprint. 
     
    Proof that we do listen to Mike Rush! Directions for the Pushup Sprint event!
     

    The Men's heat winner...Jon who was dressed as a crossfit enthusiast! How fitting!!!

    3) Werewolves Run in Packs - a relay event.  Participants selected a relay team of four individuals to run a 4 x 400m relay.  Each team was provided a light stick baton to use for the relay exchange.  The winning team was determined by flair! We have a wide mixture of paces and we did not set up the teams evenly so winning time would have been unfair.

    One of the eight relay teams!
    Mike thought that this team was a little too stacked and offered to help their final leg runner get started or not.

    4) Zombies are Bound to Catch You - an 800 meter event with a trick!!! This trick involved a bounding zone on each straight away.  The bounding zone was about 25 m in length and when participants entered the zone they had to begin bounding. 
    The ladies demonstrating how to bound!

    Overall, it was a fun night and everyone had a great time.  The workout was challenging yet fun and was full of both tricks and treats!
    Ready to pass out some medals!
    

    The medals were a big hit!