Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Female Athletes

     So, I am currently reading a book on sports nutrition, and I have some very important information for you endurance athletes, especially the females.  I'll just quote stuff from the book.  We know as women we need a certain amount of body fat for our body to function correctly.  I have read that for female athletes, body fat is typically at well, it varies, so I'll just post what's in this book.  Average for the healthy, non-competitive population is about 21-33%.  33-39 is overweight, anything over 39 is obese.  Anyways, book says for bball (18-27%), bodybuilding (8-10%), cycling (15-16%), gymnastics (8-18%), running (8-18%), swimming 12-23%), throwing (22-30%), tennis (22-26%), and weight lifting (17-20%).  I've also read that yes, it is important to be in a good body fat range for your sport, but also, some athletes may perform better with more fat on their bodies, it varies depending on your genetic makeup.  Even if you have a little more padding, you are still very healthy if you exercise rugularly-your blood pressure is probably low or normal, heart rate considerably low, cholesterol levels low and HDLs very high (if you're a regular exerciser!, HDLs are the good cholesterol, you want high levels of it).  I'll share, I'm at 26.4% fat right now, but I have never felt stronger in my life.  I don't mind having it a bit higher.  However, I'm working on lowering it to 22-24% just to see what happens. (I think I'll run faster LOL, but if I can't lower it, oh well)
     Anyways wanted to share some of this info with you as I know a lot of female athletes may have distorted body images or have/have had eating disorders because of the pressure to be thin within their sport and society. 
"On the psychological side, anorexics are able to motivate and push themselves to exercise, despite feelings of exhaustion.  Sufferers are strong willed, highly driven and have a strong desire to succeed.  On the physiological side, it is likely that the body ADAPTS by becoming more ENERGY EFFICIENT, REDUCING ITS METABOLIC RATE (10-30% is possible).  This would allow the athlete to train and maintain energy balance on fewer calories than would be expected.  Some scientists, however, suggest that excessive exercise during dieting may augment the fall in metabolic rate. 
     To overcome physical and emotional fatigue, many anorexics and bulimics use caffeine-containing drinks such as strong coffee and 'diet' cola.  However, in the long term, performance ultimately FALLS.  As glycogen and nutrient stores become chronically depleted, the athlete's health will suffer and optimal performance CANNOT BE SUSTAINED indefinitely.  Maximal oxygen consumption decreases (bad), chronic fatigue sets in and the athlete becomes more susceptible to injury and infection."-this last paragraph is EXACTLY why I don't mind having a little more fat on my body than maybe most athletes that do what I do.  I enjoy going long, long, long and hard.  I believe I do need a little more fat to help get me through long endurance activities.  Like I said before, I have never felt stronger, and this is probably the most body fat I've ever had, and the most I've ever weighed in my life.  And....I wonder...if this is why it's being proven why women are better at ultraendurance events than men, because of their genetics and ability to store more fat than men.  Hmm. 
     So, ladies, ignore the scale and focus more on body fat percentage if you can get your hands on it.  And don't worry if you're not in your "optimal body fat range" for you sport.  I think I may be an example, but then again, I just said I'd like to lower my body fat a bit (still not too low though!) so maybe my running times will drop.  I think as long as you're not overweight or obese, you're good to do well in your sport.  It's all about training the body physically, and even more important, training the mind mentally (mind mentally...does that even makes sense?  lol you know what I mean).  And, of course, to eat healthy most of the time, but not be afraid to indulge in your favorite comfort food from time to time :)  (Umm like once a week for me...hahahhaa)

Oh, and these quotes came from the book, "The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition," by Anita Bean.  If anyone has any questions you can ask me :) or challenge me :) 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lake Metroparks Pirate Triathlon

     Well, what a good way to start my triathlon career :)  Ended up placing 1st in my age group, got a nice little pirate trophy haha! :)  I've worked long and hard, over multiple years to get where I'm at now.  The only difference is I stopped running so much and started swimming and cycling even more, to balance everything out.  Alright so I guess I'll just go right into talking about the race! 

     So, Rachel Nypaver told me about this triathlon during our 50mi adventure race in May.  She said it was pretty cheap and would be good practice for the Olympic distance I'm doing in 3 weeks in Sylvania.  And for $20 of course I signed up!  It was an hour and 15min away from Brunswick.  On the East side of Cleveland.  LoL, so my parents drove me (Thank you!) along with one of my best friends, Davea :)  I was very glad they stayed to watch the whole thing because at transitions they yelled out for me!  Anyways...I got up at 5:07am.  Left by 5:45am, got coffee along the way and were off!  I arrived at the race at 7, started at 8.  (My wave went out at 8:15 though)  Anyways, I had to wait in this long line to pick up my race #, which left me only like 15 min to set up my transition and go to the bathroom.  When I finished setting up transition, ran to the bathroom (this is when I already went once lol!)-huge line for the ladies of course.  I met this girl, her name was Colleen, and we started chatting and I told her this was my first tri ever.  She then asked if I had an extra swim cap because she forgot hers.  I did-but the race was going to start soon and we didn't even get in the restroom yet!  So we hurried up, ran to transition, I tossed her my extra cap (I brought it in case mine ripped), and went running to the beach.  The kayakers went off first (yes, if you couldn't swim, you had the option of kayaking in Lake Erie-pretty cool!)  Then, male swimmers aged 34 and under, followed by males 35 and older, followed by my group, female swimmers 34 and under. 
     I swam in high school and have kept it up over the years, so I knew I should start out in front.  Got a nice spot in the front, and as soon as the alarm sounded, us females were off!  Now, of course, everyone started out fast, so I had to swim as fast as I could to get ahead, and many burned out after the first 100m or so.  Now, with Team Toledo Triathlon Club, we get to swim open water practices all summer (there's 16 of them) and we have the option of swimming 500m, 1 lap around the lake (1500m) or 2 laps (3000m) so of course I swim 3000m hehe :) and this other girl were right next to each other...she was quick so I stayed with her until......WE CAUGHT UP WITH THE MALE WAVE!!  She was able to find a way through some males and I couldn't squeeze through, so got caught behind this one guy, then eventually swam around him, tried to stay with the fast girl, but ended up finishing RIGHT BEHIND that girl.  Anyways, the swim felt so short compared to what I normally do in open water!  It was so fun though.  I think it was my favorite part :) 
     We had to run for a little bit up the beach and to the transition area-my heart rate was skyrocketing because I was breathing hard and man oh man, I was shaking!  My hands shook as I tried to double knot my running shoes (no cycling shoes for Roseann yet!)  I remember my friend Dan Bellinger said that if I really raced the swim portion, I would be shaking afterwards, and yes...I was :)  So, I drank 3/4 of my water bottle of gatorade (because I can't drink on the bike yet LOL and I knew it was short distance so I planned to drink a lot before and after :)  and then put on my garmin watch (no HR monitor, would have taken too long to put on), my shorts and shirt with race bib.  Mistake #1-wear a shirt more fitted.  The one I had was flopping around in the wind lol.  Anyways grabbed two more cups of water out of transition from volunteers, and ran out with bike!  Hopped on when got to sidewalk (volunteers told us when to get on) and powered up this short, but very steep incline!  So, me, used to riding in flat Toledo area, only practiced shifting on SOME hills here.  Nothing compared to that hill.  LoL, so, I felt like I was going to fall over if I tried shifting (I'm also borrowing my friend Chris's tri bike and am extra careful.)  So I hopped off towards the top and started running with it until I was over the hill lol!  (mistake #2, practice shifting on hills A LOT) andddd mistake #3-slowed down on all the turns (there were quite a few...) because I'm not comfortable taking fast turns yet.  Oh and I can't go aero yet because I'm scared.  This week I will, don't worry, along with riding through turns and not slowing. 
     The run.  Ohhhh gosh the run.  Is my worst lol.  I am strongest on the swim, second strongest on the bike, and the run is horrible.  Which...I like running more than cycling, but maybe swimming the most.  For as much as I love running, I'm really not that great of a runner lol.  Which is ok, but ah!  Some ladies passed me up on it.  I actually was surprised on how well I personally did on the run though, my legs felt like jello during the first half mile, but after that they were fine.  They still didn't feel as normal as during a normal running race but with the swimming and cycling of course they wouldn't. 5k time was 25:38 (according to my garmin) which, my 5k PR is 24:19 (but then my PR for 10mi is 8:39min/mi LOL not far off from 8:0-something min mi for 5k.), so not too bad considering the bike and swim.  Clearly, I think distance is more my thing.  And clearly, perhaps triathlons are more my thing :)  I love all 3 sports anyways and always have a hard time choosing which one I love most.  Oh and I saw Colleen at the finish-she gave me my cap back, and saw I won my age group, and said, "Well..congratulations, you won your first triathlon, now the sky is the limit for you!" :) 
     Now, I need to thank a few people.  1)  My friends Chris and Nina for letting me borrow their tri-bike for half the summer (Chris's knee is injured, getting better, but won't be ready to race this season, he did considerably well at Glass City though-3:19 for his first marathon, then 2 wks after had knee problems :(  2) Rachel Nypaver for telling me about this race and I should say her and her sis Sandi are a great source of inspiration for me because they win ultraendurance running races around Ohio, and they are young, like me!  (Hard to find friends around my age who do this stuff!)  3) Team Toledo Triathlon Club and the Medina County Road Runners Club-they are all a source of inspiration and were very welcoming when I first joined :) 4) Oh and boyfriend Mike for helping me so much on the bike :)  Thanks :)  5)  Dan Bellinger.  He is always encouraging me and being an older person who still runs ultraendurance races....amazing.  6) Parents and Davea for supporting me today!  7)  God.  Which leads me to the next paragraph (read only if you want-I never force religion on people and am friends with people from all walks of life with all different kinds of beliefs!!  We shouldn't judge.)
     So...I am Christian.  Of the Catholic type.  lol.  I hold it very close to my heart.  It's great, once you have that personal relationship.  Anyways I'll try not to go too deep on the internet :)  So, if you read my blog about PT'll see I struggled during it.  Well...when my friend Sammi took me out one day we went to Barnes and Noble (we both like to read...) and I picked up this book, "Quarterlife crisis" which I bought and read-funny how things are sometimes...but one of the stories was about a guy who went all the way through PT the very end, then decided to quit because it wasn't for him.  (, right? Sign there..)  Anyways, I saw this book called, "The Grace to Race."  By Sister Madonna Buder.  A Catholic Nun.  She was...oh I think the book said 83yrs old, still racing triathlons.  And, I believe she wins her age group a lot.  Anyways...I asked for it for Christmas.  I have high respect for nuns.  LOL-I think they're pretty sweet, caring people.  When I read it...I felt like I could relate to her.  She starting racing later in life after a priest told her to go for a run on the beach when she was going through some emotional times.  Anyways, just the way she really was...graceful.  She prayed before each race.  Soon, people caught on..and wherever she races...she has a whole group of Christians surrounding her, praying with her before the race.  And you know what?  She mentioned in the book the Sylvania Triathlon that she's done a few times I think.  I'm doing this one in 3 weeks.  I live here, in Sylvania :)  How cool.  I hope to meet Sister Madonna Buder one day. 
     "Running does change people's lives. When I first entered the religious life at the age of 23, I was set apart from the world. Once I began to run and to compete, my path opened wide to include the whole world. God's ways are not our ways." Sister Madonna Buder  Amen. :)
     There are a few athletes I know who are Christian.  Ryan Hall is.  Kelly Clark, pro snowboarder is.  So, I will continue to pray wisely and thank God everyday for a working body who is able to do this stuff and truly appreciates this awesome life and opportunity that was given to me.  I may not win any triathlons ever again, but I do think that maybe I have some talent in the sport and I will continue to do my best in each race and train smart and hard  :)  I feel I have FINALLY found something I am relatively good at.  Today, after the race, my mom and I were relaxing at home in our pool-she said, "Oh I could recognize your stroke, your graceful swimming stroke that looks like no other, it was easy to spot you."  And, "I wish I could call your elementary school teachers and tell them your accomplishment."  She said when I was real young, my 1st grade teacher and gym teacher were worried about me, asking my mom if I at least liked to ride bikes or if I even could.  They were worried I would be so uncoordinated because I was so shy and not good in gym.  I always got picked last in gym class.  I admit, I'm not that good at most sports they played in gym, besides softball.  And I hated running back then, too.  I love swimming and riding my bike and rollerblading, though, which of course they didn't have in gym.  My mom told them I'd be fine lol.  I should thank my parents....when me and my sis were young, I was about 8-10 my dad started taking us on 15-20mi bike rides.  The whole fam.  So...endurance things are kinda normal for us.  It was my Dad, then me, then Kristen, then my mom following us.  Slowly as I grew older (and I have a competitive spirit...) I was able to speed way ahead of my Dad :)  On our mtn bikes.  haha!  This is getting long.  Sorry.  The passion gets to me....haha :)  Thanks, all :)
     Oh!  One more thing-when fall comes, I get to swim on a Master's swim team at BG with one of my Kinesiology teachers lol!  Said he'd introduce me to the coach and I'm excited to start!  woooo I bawled my eyes out when swim team ended for me in high school.  Could of swam college, confused senior, glad I didn't because then maybe I wouldn't have found the major of exercise science at BG and wouldn't have been given my current opportunity.  Glad I ran the marathon 2 yrs ago, learned as much about running as I could, still learning, since it's my weakest, glad I found Team Toledo Triathlon Club, and glad I got this assistantship for grad school in the exercise sciences, and am ready to focus a little more on swimming this fall.  So...I think everything in my life so far was leading up to this point.  Everything happens for a reason.  Oh!  Signed up for a 5k swim in august in Lake Michigan.  I love this.  There's nothing else I'd rather do with my life.  Train.  And learn about training and the human body and how exercise is so good for it with the different systems of the body.  I believe that if you have a passion, and you follow that passion and work very hard, you can reach your dreams.  Some of mine have come true already :)  Sorry if there are typos.  It's getting late.  Don't know where I'm going after my grad program.  That's what I like about my future.  Like being free and living in the moment.  Free-spirited with an open, honest mind :)
 "Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. This is what we do. This is what it's all about.". Patti Sue Plumer US Olympian

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oat Bran Muffins

So I wanted to share this recipe with my friends who are health-conscious!  Got it from a member at the Y :)

Oat Bran Muffins
(Makes 24)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
3 cup oat bran (If you go to a health food store to buy the oat bran and oatmeal it's usually cheaper)
2T brown sugar
1 T baking powder
(Stir the dry ingredients)

2 eggs
2 egg whites
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil OR
1 cup applesauce (I prefer the applesauce vs. veg oil)
16 oz Pineapple Juice (sometimes I use grapefruit juice!)
1 or 1&1/2 cup milk (I use light vanilla soy milk :)
Add nuts to suit (I never add nuts but I imagine walnuts would taste amazing!)

Grease pans-use oil or spray
Put the oven on 400 degrees for about 21 min (I sometimes need 24 min, depends!)

**Use a large mixing bowl!

These are my favorite healthy snacks!  I freeze half of them until I've finished the other half!

Good fuel for endurance sports...:)

PT School, Following Your Heart, and Figuring Out Yourself.

I am finally ready to talk about this to anyone who wants to hear it.  Hopefully this story can be a learning lesson to some of you; maybe it can help you out with a current problem.  This is going to be quite a long blog I'm about to write about myself and how not to make the same mistakes I have :)
     I'm going to start with talking about myself back in high school.  Let me talk about swim team since swimming is very much a part of me still.  So, joined swim team in 8th grade.  LOVED it.  Coach said I should swim in high school, so of course, I did.   However....being a freshman in high school brought on a lot of new changes.  We were required to swim or lift in the am, then again in the pm, and sometimes, we'd have to swim in the am, and pm a few hours before a meet!  This was a lot for a 14-15yr old girl to get used to.  Especially one who got stressed out easily.  I remember going to school with wet hair and smelling like chlorine even though we showered lol.  Anyways...I couldn't handle it (my parents talked with the coaches) so I think I only swam in the am once a week.  It was the most intense physical activity I had ever been through.  I remember wanting to quit.  There was a point during the heavy training load that I would cry a lot, complaining to my parents that I couldn't handle all of this-school, band, swim practices consisting of 3 or more hours.  So they said, "You can quit, you know, it's ok."  And I said..."but I'm NOT a quitter!"  (This part of me will reveal itself later on in my story)  So I stuck it out.  Found out after the season ended our current coach was leaving us (we found out for another team in our division!)  Anyways...I didn't like him much lol and wasn't going to swim my sophomore year.   
     We got a new coach the following year, and she's still there today :)  When I heard we didn't have to swim in the mornings anymore (besides Saturdays and Christmas vacation mornings) I was so in.  Because I loved to swim.  From then on, with the new coach, my times started to drop woo! (I still had low confidence and I think if I thought more positively I would have done even better) make a long story short, I swam all 4 yrs and my senior year of high school I was recruited for a division III school, Mount Union.  But...I was confused on where to go to college and what my major should be.  I didn't want to go to a small school.  I had my heart set on OSU for awhile, then I changed my mind at the last second to BG.  (Why?  Because it had a nice pool....I'm serious...that's the only reason.)  I figured eh what the heck I don't know what I want to do with my life and all these schools have good opportunities, I'll just go to the one with the nicest pool in my opinion.  Yeah....I guess I could have tried to be a walk on for the swim team at BG, but I didn't want to travel or practice 2 hours in the am AND pm.  Besides, I have to study very long and hard to obtain good grades, nothing has ever come easy to me.  Not school, sports, anything.  So I tried swimming on a Master's team, then just gave up trying to make practice and started working out on my own time (see my note on how I got into running on facebook!)
     During my freshman yr of college, I just took the general ed classes, and during my second semester came across the major or exercise science/kinesiology or Pre-Physical Therapy.  Pre-PT major sounded boring, exercise science sounded more fun.  And since you could get into PT school with the exercise science major and take an extra chem and physics class, I chose exercise science.  What I did for the next 3 years:  Study my butt off.  Did NOT go out hardly at all.  Of course, I'm not your typical college kid anyways, got up before class to work out, then studied and went to class the rest of the time.  Alcohol and me don't do very well-although don't get me wrong I do enjoy a margarita every once in awhile :)  I studied my butt off because 1) you had to have a high GPA to get into PT school and 2) I was fascinated by my Kinesiology classes.  For those of you who don't know, Kinesiology is the study of human movement and exercise science is studying the effects of exercise on the human body.  Pretty cool stuff.
     So, I applied to a few PT schools during my senior year for the following fall, didn't get in any, so waited and applied a second time.  Besides, I hadn't exactly finished school yet, I still had to do an internship in PT.  Which...I really wanted to help people.  Through physical activity.  My senior yr of HS I was inspired by an awesome PT who really loved his job and cared about his patients.  I'm still friends with him to this day.  He made me want to go into the profession.  However..once I started doing volunteer hours and my 600 hour internship...I was kind of bored with it.  But I still decided to apply for PT school because I thought I'd make a good PT and it was a nice paying, secure job where I could make an impression on others and help motivate them to be more active.  Although the nice-paying part didn't concern me as much as the secure job did.  I was not sure if I would have a secure job if I continued on in Kinesiology.  I have been a pretty "unsure of myself" person all up until now, after PT school didn't work out for me. 
     During the winter before I knew if I got into any PT schools, I had also applied to the graduate program in Kinesiology at BGSU.  One of my teachers asked me during my internship if I really wanted PT.  She said I could also apply for an assistantship in Kinesiology if I wanted to.  But I was stuck on PT.  I had been talking about PT for so long to so many people that I figured I should just go for it.  I didn't want to let anyone down.  I wanted to help anyone and everyone I could that had physical ailments and I felt friends and family were counting on me.  (So wrong, it's not always about you and they would have been proud either way.)  Anyways, I also applied to the Kinesiology grad program in case I didn't get into PT school.  Well, I got into both.  And this time, I really considered saying no to PT school and yes to Kinesiology/exercise science.  The exercise sciences is what truly interests me and what makes sense to me the most.  I even read books on it in my leisure time.  But...again..I didn't want to let anyone down since I got in, and I had to try PT school to see what it was like.
     Those close to me know what happened when I was in PT school.  And many others that I've told.  After about the 2nd or 3rd week I knew I wouldn't make it.  I couldn't handle the workload and felt I was in way over my head, didn't feel in the right place.  I have always needed a lot of time to study, and 15 credit hours of hard classes+being in class 7-8hrs a day didn't do me any good.  I have never been in any honors classes, even though I did graduate with honors, I was never in the accelerated program.  I just couldn't keep up.  (Of course, most everyone else worked as hard as me, I just was one of the few who didn't make it :) I would take an hr break to workout, usually with my friend Kara-we needed those endorphins and that 1 hour!  Other than that, all our time was spent studying.  Had no social life.  I wasn't having any fun.  I started to call home every few days complaining or crying.  I cried to all my teachers (I couldn't help it, the tears always came pouring down when I went to their offices LOL).  They told me to stick it out for the semester, give it a shot.  So I did...because I am not a quitter.  I did meet with my kinesiology teacher from BG though.  She told me I had to be the one to know what's truly in my heart and take that path.  She also told me to finish out the semester too.  So I did..but it was SO HARD!  That semester was just one big blur to me.  I was in a dark place, wasn't even praying or going to church.  I even recall only exercising 3x a week sometimes (which is so unlike me!).  I called my good friend Sammi who I met at BG at our church.  She helped me get out of this rut I was in.  Started going to church and praying constantly.  I know I tried my hardest that semester.  There was nothing else I could have done.  I remember my friend Davea telling me when I had no hope left (this is sounding way too dramatic lol, but this was one of the hardest times of my life, thinking I'd let everyone down, the past 4 yrs studying your butt off just to get into PT school...feeling like your whole life is now ruined), but she said "The light at the end of the tunnel will come, trust me."  And it did.  I also chatted back and forth through facebook with the student who was a graduate assistant when I was in undergrad.  She helped me out a lot too, as well as a few runners from the MCRR :)  I ended up not passing some of my classes.  I had never failed anything before, so this was something new.  (Well, I actually didn't fail any classes, but got below the C mark-only allowed 3 Cs throughout the whole 3yr program)  Thankfully, I was already accepted into the Kinesiology program at Bowling Green :)  I just had to wait a few more months to see if I got the assistantship.  And I did.  :)  I had a nice winter break full of snowboarding, family, and friends (and a few margaritas).  My PT school teachers said they would hold my spot for me for next fall if I wanted.  No way.  I knew what I wanted to do now and didn't want to waste anymore $ on something that wasn't there.
     I am in a much happier place now.  Life feels right again.  I took 2 classes this semester towards my Kinesiology degree (since my teachers didn't have an assistantship this semester, they recommended taking a few classes just to stay in the swing of things. And I wasn't going to pay anymore for more classes so I just took 2.)  I got a job at the YMCA personal training and instructing fitness classes that I love.  I have met some pretty cool people, and another trainer who is very much like myself with the constant, intense physical activity :).  Even though the field of Physical Therapy and Kinesiology are very closely related, I'd rather help keep people moving and prevent disease and injuries before they happen as opposed to rehab them.  I find the exercise sciences/sport sciences/kinesiology/whatever you want to call it way more interesting than physical therapy, even though I highly respect physical therapists for what they do and what they went through with the schooling.  I truly care about people's bodies and am fully committed to dedicating my life to studying the human body.  It's what makes sense to me the most and what I am most passionate about.  I just had to find the right field within the health field that was suited best for me.  Sometimes it takes failing to realize who you truly are and what you want out of life.  I have made some pretty great friends through PT school, though.  If I ever need anything, I know who to ask :)
     What I have learned through all of this is 1) Do what you love, don't worry about what others may think, 2) Be strong and never, ever give up, you have to give every opportunity your all, 3) Don't be afraid to take the road less traveled.  Some people ask me, "Well what kind of job can you get with exercise science?"  I am not quite sure yet, but really appreciate my teachers taking me back and giving me an assistantship for awesome opportunities :)  There's corporate fitness, possibly research (I think I'll really like this...I love reading and learning.)/university professor of Kinesiology...I've already looked at UNCO-they study Biomechanics and running economy in people with prosthetics, and their exercise physiology department also works with the Rocky Mountain Cancer Institute to study the effects of exercise in patients with chemo, and...lastly...the one that would be the dream job:  The Olympic Training Center :)  But..I do not know which one I'll go into, whatever I fall into.  I must not make any ultimatums anymore, as they might not work out and I don't want to be devastated ever again.  Enjoy the moment that you are in and work very hard because you never know where it may lead you.  Dare to take the road less traveled, because I truly believe in Robert Frost's poem:  it will make all the difference :)  And #4-Open up.  You cannot keep problems like these inside.  I am lucky to have a number of great friends who I was able to reach out to and give me some help and advice.  Thank you all :)  Thanks for being there when I needed it the most!
     And is a song that I feel describes 100% of how I felt during my struggles in PT school, it's by one of my favorite bands, Superchick:

She never slows down (My dad's always telling me to slow down, and especially in PT school to focus on 1 thing at a time)
She doesn't know why but
she knows that when
She's all alone feels
Like it's all coming down (The struggle was so hard-I felt like I was letting my family and friends down, and the world because all I ever wanted to do was help and inspire others)
She won't turn around
The shadows are long
And she fears if she cries
That first tear
The tears will not stop
Raining down (This would happen, I had to constantly, I'm talking at least a few times a week, fight back the tears during class)

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain (Tried my hardest not to quit that semester)
You won't drown
And one day what's lost can be found
You stand in the rain (I was able to find myself halfway through the semester with the help of friends and family and listening to my heart)

She won't make a sound
Alone in this fight with herself (Oh it was very much a fight against myself, if I chose another path, and not PT school, my family would have been just as proud)
And the fears whispering
If she stands, she'll fall down
She wants to be found
The only way out is through
everything she's running from
Wants to give up and lie down (I never wanted to quit anything so badly before, but I have always been able to endure any pain I was going through, both physically and emotionally, so I stuck this one out, too)

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day what's lost can be found (I was able to figure out where my true passion lied, and am not afraid to follow it anymore :)
You stand in the rain

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
Stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day what's lost can be found

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day what's lost can be found
You stand in the rain

I truly care about everyone's bodies.  This is why I chose these two fields.  I care about your body more than I care about my own.  (The constant texting or facebook commenting about health...sorry friends LOL :)  I want everyone to know how very important it is to stay active.  There are numerous benefits-emotionally, psychologically, and physically.  Regular exercise enhances your life in so many ways there are too many to name.  I could post a whole other blog on just that alone.  My motto that I often joke around with my sister is this, "What's more important, your health or your favorite TV show?"  There is ALWAYS time for at least 30 min of exercise.  Get up a little earlier, skip your TV shows...something!  Anything!  Make the time for it because it will make you feel so much better.

And I'll end with a quote from one of my favorite books, then a Bible verse.

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun." Into the Wild
"Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." Matthew 7:13-14   Sound a lot like Robert Frost's poem, The Road Less Traveled...?  :)

Where's the Dam Trail Half Marathon

     So, I ran 13.1 miles yesterday.  I think I said somewhere in a note on facebook that I wasn't going to run that distance this summer.  I did...but I feel I was smarter about training this time.  During this run I had a lot of time to think.  This is where I do some of my best thinking, while running long distances.  I have a chance to look deep inside of myself while the endorphins are rushing and when I feel the most alive-in the great outdoors.  What did I think about?  My training, running form, what I've read and studied and know about running form, and my NE Ohio runner friends from back home. 
     Why I couldn't pass up running this 13.1mi race?  It was only $7 so I started awhile ago slowly building up my longer runs to 10 miles and I didn't want to push it past that.  Starting in January up until now, I only run 3-4 times a week, with one long run, one speed workout (sometimes every other week) and 1-2 easy runs of an hour usually.  Why?  I kept getting hurt training for long distance, actually anything past 30mi a week running seems to hurt me right now.  So my decision was to train for triathlons this summer (besides, I think it may be more of my thing than just pure running).  Um...what I'm about to tell you may sound crazy and if I have time I'll post my training log later this year (I've kept each workout in a log since January, I got lazy with logging mileage in March though)  but I will do anything in order to keep running long distances.  Plus, I like swimming a lot, and cycling.  If I'm sore in one sport, I'll push hard in the other.  Sometimes I won't push hard.  Sometimes I'll take it easy.  I do something every single day.  I really listen to my body.  Sometimes I'll even workout on the AMT trainer for an hour (kind of like an elliptical, but you get the fuller range of motion).  I get in at least 2 strength workouts a week.  I am training for life now, not a certain event, really.  And I like endurance, so sometimes I'll get an hour to an hour and a half in the morning, and maybe an hour of something else in the evening.  Or more. (this will end once school starts lol-back to one hr/day).
     I have talked to my friend Rachel about natural running and barefoot running.  She lent me her book, “Natural Running,” by Danny Abshire.  It was interesting and made perfect sense-landing in the center of gravity, slowly transitioning yourself to land on the balls of the feet.  I’m not going to get into too much of what the book said (read it!), but after I ran this race, I was chatting with my friend Bryan (1:17 half marathon PR at Glass City!) and he is also a personal trainer at the Y like myself so we often chat about the field of exercise science.  Anyways he was telling me it’s going to be hard to change to landing on the balls of my feet if I’m a natural heel striker (he watched me, I am).  He said to just focus on landing under your center of gravity and to do this-drills before EACH run (high knees, skipping, butt kicks, leg swings, etc.)  I watched him run-he kinds of springs off his feet and lifts his knees up.  His stride was perfect.  (I overstride when I’m tired and try to book it.)  So I feel that along with the book I read and Bryan’s advice, I might be able to slowly transition into better running form, but it will take awhile.  I’m still going to run in my orthotics because I do have a forefoot imbalance which was causing knee, hip, and foot problems as well as shin splints from tight calf muscles which could have been due to the bad running form, who knows.  I have to stretch my soleus (muscle under gastrocnemius-your main calf muscle) every single morning for a full minute at least.  (Because I had heel pain, and heel pain can be either from plantar fasciitis or from tight calf muscles because if they are all tight, they will pull at their insertion on the heel bone.)  So I’ll run in the orthotics until I figure all this out-form, my imbalance, training smartly, balancing my body out, etc.
     Ok so now that I’ve blabbed about my training and running problems, I will finally post about this race.  I read online that there was going to be water stops every 2 miles, so I didn’t bring my hydration belt (mistake, now I know to always bring it no matter what!).  I get there, and ask again if there’s water every 2 miles and the guy I asked said “no, there are only 2.”  So I knew I was going to be in trouble.  My goal for this race was to not push it too hard because I have my first sprint tri this coming weekend.  I just wanted to use it as a training run, so I definitely held back starting out unlike my usual excited quick pace at the start lol.  I stayed around 9:30-9:45 the whole time (sometimes closer to 9).  I also knew that if I started out too fast in that heat (it got up to 95 Sunday) I would be in trouble.  Especially with only 2 water stops!  I stayed with this couple that I had met at the start-very nice people by the way, the woman said “nice job,” to each and every runner we passed that was coming back from the 6.55mi race or 13.1 (out and back course).  So, naturally, I started praising every single person as well, even on the way back.  This woman had to slow her pace down and walk at the halfway mark so I continued on running myself.  I am not quite sure how I was able to keep running when I probably needed water.  I actually didn’t feel too dehydrated.  Because of this, I believe, is why I ended up passing a ton of people on the way back.  Which surprised me, I got “looking good!” and “you’re still smiling and have a ton left in you, good job!”  (I tried encouraging them by saying, we’re almost there!) and chatting about the lack of water stops.  But the reason I think I may have been able to do so well is 1) I paced myself well on this run and 2) I kind of train myself normally not to drink much water during exercise.  I am going to explain this in the next paragraph because it may take awhile…….           
     Ever since I was born, actually, I remember LOVING to drink nothing but water.  Milk?  No.  Pop? Ew it always made me burp and it burns going down and coming up.  Not too much of a juice drinker either.  Anyways…I have to drink water with everything.  Even gum sometimes.  If I eat something, probably a whole glass goes down.  If it’s a full meal, (I’m not joking here…) at least 6 cups of water (I use a huge cup, so I’m guessing it is 3 cups worth, and I will re-fill it twice for meals, if not more.  Ok I just measured-yep, about 3 cups!  I don’t know why I drink so much, guess I’m always thirsty.  I will also drink coffee (at least 2 cups a day) and a glass of crystal light a day.  I have no idea, but I probably drink at least 20-24 cups of fluid daily.  When I’m NOT exercising.  So…I know I may be setting myself up for hyponatremia, but then…I don’t drink much during exercise.  My boyfriend is always telling me to drink while we ride on the bike, mainly because I haven’t figured out how to grab the water bottle from my friend’s tri-bike that I’m borrowing lol.  So I have to stop riding to drink!  (I don’t plan on stopping during the sprint tri-it’s only 13 mi so I’ll gulp water before and after at transitions)  Plus, I’ve been in dehydrated situations before-backpacking in the Smokies and not getting to rivers soon enough to purify our water, which leads to severe headaches (Please, no one try this, carry enough water, too) and during the adventure race that I did with Rachel-dropped my water bottle early in the bike portion and didn’t have much until the last few miles of the backpacking portion, an event that lasted 5 hours and 12 minutes.  Thankfully she let me have some of her Gatorade!  But this is not smart.  Not smart at all.  I do wonder if I’m able to make it during these events because of how well hydrated I am before, but I do know if you drink when you should, you will perform even better.  Guess I need to race more to figure it all out :)  I do feel that mentally, I am able to carry on when dehydrated, but again, not smart!  Oh and I read this book called Running Hot, by Lisa Tamati, where she had to ration out her water supply while she was running hundreds of miles across the Sahara, I believe.  So in my mind…I kinda do really want to partake in long, long endurance expeditions, but I must be smart about it!!  Water and Gatorade are very important…if I don’t want to die haha.
     And lastly, during my run…couldn’t stop thinking about all the people I’ve met along the way through running.  Runners are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met (we’ve all heard this before).  I should thank NE Ohio runners for especially being so friendly and welcoming when I first joined the Medina County Road Runners back at home.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, joining it to train for my first marathon!  (There was no way I was doing 20 milers by myself!)  Anyways…I was introduced to the world of ultrarunning…and felt like I finally had found a home, somewhere I truly belonged.  I may not be an ultrarunner yet, but I sure put in enough time in all 3 sports, plus skating, snowboarding, or exercising in general for hours on end.  Through the MCRR I met more and more runners from NE Ohio.  They are ALL so friendly!  And the area to run is phenomenal!  I am ALWAYS missing home, missing the beauty that the scenery we run by brings, and the many friends I have met.  (I joined a triathlon club here in Sylvania, Team Toledo, and people are just as nice!  But the scenery is not as nice lol)  but, miss you all and will run with you whenever I’m home :)  Thanks for inspiring me. 
     Ok I am going to end this blog.  With a quote.  Thanks to anyone who reads this, I always have so much to say and don’t know how to shorten it. 
“I am my own enemy
The battle fought within my mind
If I can overcome step one
I can face the 99, go one more, don’t stop now, go one more.”  ~Superchick