How frusturating.

Hmm, he looks pretty happy.

Whether it be that new pair of running shoes, a PR, to lose x amount of pounds, to eat healthier, or even wanting to become a more positive person through running … We always want something. This doesn’t even have to apply to just runners, but people in general. We push ourselves in workouts and go to school or work everyday because we want things. We spend out lives in search of stuff. Sometimes you come across those people, not very often, but ones that seem to have it figured out. By it, I mean life. They enjoy what they’ve accomplished and are able to settle into their choices along with what ‘s come from them. It’s that group of people who I’m most jealous of. They seem to have it all figured out and never seem to want anything else except what they have. Not that they haven’t ever worked hard for things in life and met with failure, but they can accept those experiences and be happy with where they are in life. It’s a lifestyle that seems to have no frustration, no let downs, or upsets that come along with trying to reach certain goals or achieve certain things. I’m at a point with my running right now, where I just don’t seem to be improving. I want so much more, but am getting nothing from it.

Sure, I could use my busy schedule as an excuse for why I’m not improving. I could also be rational about the situation and listen to others telling me that, “you can’t feel awesome everyday,” or, “you won’t PR every meet”. Something I keep hearing is that I’ve hit a “plateau.” Well, I’m sorry … but why haven’t others hit a plateau? We’re doing the same workouts and yet others on my team are still improving. Maybe comparing myself to others is what’s getting me down. It’s probably not the physical part of my training that’s lacking, but the mental side. I could live with that being a reason for not improving.

“Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one.” – Bobby Knight

Amen to that! Bobby Knight may have been a basketball coach, but he sure understood how important it is to be mentally tough. In other parts of my life besides running, my mental toughness is a little on the weak side. Not saying that I give up and don’t try at tasks, but that I get really down on myself when I don’t succeed. I’ve said it before and will say it again, I’m a self-made perfectionist. Because of this and as it’s happened, with every track season, I’m just not enjoying running. This come from the mental aspect of the season. The beginning of the season is fresh and exciting and I feel good almost everyday in our workouts. I look forward to practice and squirm in my seat 6th period watching the clock, praying for school to be over so I can go run. Now, the season has lost some of its newness and is getting stressful. My coach always say, “Don’t think, just run.” Well, it’s safe to say … I’ve been thinking! Racing track is so much more mentally exhausting than cross country. Maybe it’s because in track it’s easier to compare yourself to others since all races are the exact same distance and all tracks are alike. I’m not sure what it is. The amount of racing we do? The hard interval workouts? The lack of a scenery change? Whatever it is, I’ve let it drag me down.

 In hope of some motivation and ideas, I’ve come to my blog. My family, coach, and team mates have been equally helpful, but I’m curious about you readers out there. How do you motivate yourself to run and reach your goals when you’ve begun to lose hope? Any tips? I just want to enjoy running again. I’m so looking forward to the long runs and road races I have planned this summer, but want to be the best I can be this season as it nears the end. The next month of track is when the races become more important. Big invitational meets, sub-districts, districts, and then the all-important state meet at the end of May. I want to improve and show everyone what I can do this season. I want to be inspired and become better. Is this a sign? My discontentment being a sign of what’s to come and what I’ll accomplish? That plateau has to end somewhere and  who knows what’s at the end. Maybe I have to work harder and climb some hills to get there, but at the end … maybe I’ll find myself among that group of people who have all they want and are happy. That sure sounds like a good place to be.

Until next time,

Gabby.

   “Frustration is the first step towards improvement. I have no incentive to improve if I’m content with what I can do and if I’m completely satisfied with my pace, distance and form as a runner. It’s only when I face frustration and use it to fuel my dedication that I feel myself moving forwards.” – Josh Bingham

(When I need motivation … I usually turn to quotes. If you haven’t noticed! ;-)

Addicted to Nike.

It’s been awhile, but I’m back. (And hopefully will be back to blogging a lot more again!)  The past two months I’ve been juggling school, drama practice, drivers’ ed, and track … ALL AT ONCE! Our plays for drama are this weekend, and drivers’ ed will be done in another two weeks. Phew! Lately I’ve barely had time to get enough sleep, let alone blog! So after waiting weeks to write and find time to do anything but eat and sleep, I finally am going to talk about something running related that’s been stuck in my head waiting to be written for the last month or so. Today, the topic is clothes.

Bill Rodgers on the right, wearing ... cotton. ;-)

Some people are running clothes snobs while others just throw on clothes for warmth, whether it looks like they’ve worn the same outfit everyday and never bothered to wash out the mud and sweat stains. No judgement … just an observation. There’s so many brands and styles of clothes that are out on the market now. Dri-fit, storm-fit, wick-away, technical, lightweight, compression, ultra-light and so on and so forth. You would think that the simple “100% polyester” tag would make it a workout shirt. I don’t understand how T-shirts involve “technology” like Nike says they do. C’mon, it’s a T-shirt! For all I care, it might as well be cotton. Or as I like to call it, the best sweat-trapping, heat-inducing, arm-chafing, smell-holding, and common T-shirt material around! Really though. Before all the fancy technical shirts and dri-fit material, there was cotton. And lots of it. Personally, I don’t think Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Prefontaine, Grete Waitz, Don Kardong, or Frank Shorter would’ve run any faster with the help of better running clothes. Throwing on whatever shorts and shirt they could find as well as strapping on some old tennis shoes before going on a run worked back then, and is a part of running that makes it so freeing even now. Think about it … Back then, they made running flats with waffle irons. Literally. (Thank you Bill Bowerman! Co-founder of Nike. ;-)Don’t get me wrong though, I adore running clothes and all the different types you can buy nowadays. You could probably put me in the “running clothes snob” category. If I could wear running clothes everyday for the rest of my life, I would be one happy girl! What I wear when I run though, is super picky and super selective. No matter that they’re a main brand, and understanding that smaller brands have just as nice of clothes, I love Nike. Seriously. Some days I’ll catch myself being a Nike whore and wearing everything Nike from my shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, and even my sports bra. There’s something about that little swoosh and the variety of clothes that they have that keeps me coming back for more. All the other non-Nike workout gear that I have is just as colorful and running related as the rest, and yet I’m equally as picky about those styles. I like short running shorts, sometimes with a split … but not too short. I like short sleeve T-shirts, but not too much decoration. I like long sleeves, but not too long that they have thumb holes. I like running leggings, but they must have a drawstring and be specifically made for running. I like running jackets, but they have to be thin enough that they don’t get too hot and turn my run into what seems like a 3 hour-long sauna session.

Of course I'm not wearing Nike.

The list of my clothing whims and wants go on. So long in fact, that I even forget what I like sometimes and buy running clothes that just sit at the bottom of my drawers … waiting for the day that they’ll see a run, or more likely, the give-away pile of clothes. Being so picky, I usually just end up wearing old road race shirts and shirts I’ve gotten from running related events (i.e: Prefontaine Classic, XC camp, Brooks PR Invitational, etc … ). When it’s cold I wear long sleeves because I have such a huge dislike of running in sweatshirts. Seriously, it’s bad. I feel like a 200 pound marshmallow and definitely look the part! It’s even worse on longer runs, because let’s face it, after 6 miles, you aren’t going to want that sweatshirt anymore unless it’s a blizzard and 30 below. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little dramatic there, but just wanted to get my point across. The only time I ever run in a sweatshirt is only warm up runs at a track meet. Once I’ve been running and hit the 15 minute mark, I feel the need to peel it off. This happens every single time and hasn’t gotten any better. I just don’t understand how people can run in them all the time. For me, that’s one of the greatest mysteries … Sorry to babble aimlessly about such a small detail. Now if Nike made a wick-away sweatshirt, maybe I’d try wearing one more often. ;-)

That’s the thing about their clothes though. Nike is a brand name in running. Yes Brooks,  and Asics may be prominent brands in the running community too, but have you ever noticed that pretty much everyone (professionals and recreational alike) who are really good, wear Nike? I’ve noticed this at track and cross country meets. The better of the athletes, because it’s not just runners who do this, don’t wear their school’s warm ups. Instead they’re always wearing some snazzy looking Nike top and non-marshmallow looking sweat pants. I guess if you’re good you wear whatever you want because everyone knows who you are and the school logo on warm ups are thereby irrelevant, but still … Sometimes it’s not even just their warm ups, but spreads to wearing neon socks, bandanas, gloves, hats, and whatever else you can think of. Maybe these different things represent good luck charms because I know I’m like that. Every meet I wear the same sports bra and same socks (which by the way, are getting holes!). It’s just a part of my pre-race routine. I wish I could be like that group that wears cool outfits though … One of my friends from another school is apart of that group and he has the coolest outfits every. single. meet. He may not be sponsored like almost every professional athlete is, but he sure looks the part!

I suppose the point of this post isn’t just clothes … but Nike. Not only Nike and how they’re a leader in the workout clothing community, but why once you buy something Nike … you simply can’t go back. Even if you’re an avid wearer of Road Runner Sports shorts, Brooks tank tops, Asics socks, or whatever else, you have to admit that Nike does make really nice quality clothes. Nike has had problems with sweat shops (not even going to go into that!), but disregarding that while noting that the working conditions have gotten better over the years, I’m sure that not one of you can say you don’t own at least something made by Nike. They’re one of the biggest athletic brands out there, and hey! who wouldn’t be with sayings like “Just Do It,” “Faster Than Yesterday,” and “Pretty Fast Isn’t Good Enough.” Not to mention the iconic swoosh. Overall, Nike is awesome. Even though they might be considered stuck-up with how many different varieties of clothes they have and for being such a main brand, but oh well … Days when I’m wearing all Nike, I feel faster. Whether it’s because of the actual clothes and shoes I’m wearing or just what I want to make myself believe, it doesn’t matter. They make comfy, cool looking clothes, encouraging ads, and not to mention their long history with running. I’ll be a Nike whore any day. ;-)

Until next time,

Gabby.

P.S: See? Sometimes these are exactly the words I need to motivate myself to get out the door for a run. It’s safe to say … they know what they’re doing. :-)

East Coast.

Hello again! I’m sorry it’s been so long, but there’s been places for me to go, people to meet, food to eat, and dreams to be realized. That’s right … I’ve been on vacation! Since I left, I’ve begun to think of being back at home as more of a prolonged vacation seeing that I loved the East Coast and have been referring to it as “home.” Instead of writing a long, drawn out, boring, and way too descriptive book about my trip, I decided to make a collage! It may not show all of what we saw, but here are some of the highlights from my East Coast visit … Oh, and since I wasn’t quite able to take a picture of each state sign we passed or put them in this collage, our trip was a mini road trip as we visited Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

#1. The Coast of Maine: See that lighthouse? Well, it’s along the coast of Maine (not quite sure what town?) and attracts 500,000 visitors every year. Not to mention that in the nearby park there is a little hotdog stand called Frank’s Franks. Grab a hotdog and enjoy the beautiful view … even if it’s a bit windy!

#2. Coca-Focus: The white Ford Focus at the top was fondly named the “Coca-Focus” after we picked it up the very first day and opened the doors to a nauseatingly strong smell of coconut. Even after driving it for a week, having coffee and other foods in the car, as well as opening the windows … when we returned it, you could still get out of the car, get back in … and smell coconut. Ugh.

#3. Lobsta: How could we go to the East Coast and not have lobster?! That’s some type of sin, I swear it is. Besides this lobster bake that is pictured above, we also had TONS of seafood throughout the week. This list included clams, oysters, swordfish, haddock, mussels, and shrimp. We also tried “New England’s Best Lobster Roll” at a place called Bob’s Clam Shack. Maybe they just claim to be the best, but I’m behind them all the way. Their lobster rolls were really good! If only the West Coast had as many places that sold lobster rolls … *sigh*

#4. Paul Revere’s house: We spent two full days in Boston, how could we not see the historic sights? Paul Revere’s house is a museum inside, but a sign said not to take pictures. It was nestled in the city near Little Italy, so I wouldn’t have minded being Paul Revere and living there … except for the floorboards. Talk about squeaky!

#5. Paul Revere’s statue: That’s right, we got the full Paul Revere experience! Walking along the Freedom Trail we came upon his statue/monument, so of course I took a picture! Besides seeing this monument and his house, we even got to see his gravestone at one of the old cemeteries. Only thing we were missing was meeting him in person! He’d only be 200 years old or so …

#6. State building: The big gold dome topped building is right by Boston Common and where we started each time we were in Boston. A huge, beautiful building filled with so much history. I wish we had gotten the chance to go inside!

#7. USS Constitution a.k.a “Ole Ironsides”: Again, this ship was another must-see item on our trip and while in Boston. It’s the Navy’s longest commissioned war ship and as it’s celebrating its bicentennial this year, they are going to try to sail it on its own. Beside that fun fact, we got to tour the deck and three of the underlying decks. It’s amazing to think that something so old and rich with history is still around and still in working order. Too cool.

#8. Mike’s Pastry: Wow. If heaven comes in a white and blue box … then I think I’ll stay there. ♥ A ton of people were walking around Boston with these boxes in their hands, so being the foodies that my parents and I are, we plugged the pastry shop into our handy GPS and promptly walked there as fast as possible. Not that it helped much as there was a line wrapping outside of the shop’s doors. The line only lead into one of the most jammed packed, delicious smelling, and busy pastry shops that I have ever seen. With the limited view of their selection, but fellow customet’s advice, we decided on cannolis. I think it’s safe to say that even though each one was probably 3,000 calories … that cannolis are officially on my list of favorite foods. Yum!

#9. Cobb Hill cemetary: Maybe some of you don’t think that visiting cemeteries can actually be considered “fun,” but when you visit the one filled with super old gravestones that have been around for almost 200 years … I’m sure you’d all change your minds. People back then did it right. They made simple, small gravestones with large lettering and only a few details about their lives. I’m sorry, but huge headstones and monuments that are the size of small children? Not my style.

#10. Dartmouth: The lower left corner and over one! That is a picture of part of the Dartmouth campus (don’t mind the random car). A nice tour of the campus and a stroll around Hanover, New Hampshire and I was sold. Sure, it may be in the Ivy League with a small acceptance rate and be a private school on the East Coast out-of-the-way of civilization … BUT, I liked the feel of the campus, what it offers, and the surrounding city it’s in. Of course the attractive college guys walking around campus didn’t hurt either. ;-)

#11. Bill Roger’s running store: How could I go to Boston as a runner and not visit Boston Billy? To pass by his store would’ve been a sin. I might’ve had to quit running because I would’ve been so ashamed. Walking throughout the store, we got the chance to see all of his running memorabilia tacked to the wall and hanging from the ceiling. I took a picture of his Olympic warm-ups. I didn’t get the chance to put a picture of Bill on here though because when we went in, his brother was working. Oh well, I’m glad I got to go and take a walk down memory lane of the 70s running boom. Awesome!

#12. Fisherman’s memorial: Look familiar? That’s the same memorial monument that’s shown in The Perfect Storm. You guessed it! We got the chance to visit the famous fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Compared to our local fishing ports and what we’ve seen on tv of Gloucester, it was actually a really nice area! The locals thought their city of 27,000 was small, but to us (coming from a town of 3,500!) it was pretty big!

#13. Brown University: We’ve come to the final picture, and my favorite part of the trip. The large picture in the middle is on me standing next to the gates at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. With nothing else in Rhode Island to do, we decided to tour the campus, not knowing whether I’d even like it or not, and I fell in love. Stepping foot onto the campus, I was instantly comfortable and could see myself spending four years there. The people were friendly, the surrounding city that the campus is nestled into is exciting and full of things to do, and the campus itself was beautiful. Besides the tour we went on, we also drove back to Providence for one last walk around before leaving to come back to the West Coast. It’s safe to assume that I will definitely be applying there my senior year. Until then, I’m going to be doing as much as can to better my chances of getting in. I want to be a Brown Bear. :-)

That’s it! Well, not really. I actually ended up taking about 90 some pictures, but alas … only thirteen would fit into my collage for you readers. These were some of the highlights of the trip and besides what I talked about, my parents and I saw and did so much more. If you have any questions about the trip, feel free to ask! Not to mention that if you’ve been to the East Coast or any part of it that I mentioned, please share! I loved the East Coast and am missing it the longer I’ve been home. I can’t wait to go back and until then, will remember this trip and all the good memories that were made. Now! As I originally made this blog to be about running, and not just about my life, my next post will be on topic. Unless of course, that my life gets exciting again and I just have to share it. ;-)

Until next time,

Gabby.