Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 59: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Am I really almost done?

From Butterflies, FTW

I might be a little high on the yoga, I just used a Muhammed Ali quote to describe yoga.

I'm just one day from finishing my challenge! So far I have completed 66 classes in 59 days. YEA! It's been an amazing journey, I'm glad it's coming to an end too.

Today I took the 6:30 pm class after a fun day with a friend in Fort Worth and the really cool butterfly exhibit at the FT Worth Botanical Gardens. There were beautiful butterflies fluttering around everywhere but the prettiest ones had iridescent blue all over its back and really interesting patterns on the inside of its wings.

Makes me think if Muhammed Ali's famous quote, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Which I am sure he never thought would be used by a yogi to get motivated for class. Am I'm sure I don't use the quote in quote the same manner as Muhammed Ali, I mean, we aren't moving around in class and hitting people! But the quote to me makes me think of awareness and focus. Right? Neither a butterfly nor a bee can do what they do without proper focus and awareness of themselves as well as their surroundings, otherwise, butterflies would probably fly into things and bees would sting the wrong thing.

Ok, maybe it is a stretch....but it's yoga and we it's ok. :)  Focus and awareness are two main things in yoga, at least in Bikram Yoga that are necessary to improve ones practice. You have to focus on yourself and the task at hand, be it locking the knee, kicking the leg, bending the spine or whatever, you have to focus and dedicate your attention to that moment. Full awareness of yourself, where your body is that day and what you need to work on, not what your neighbor is doing is also extremely important. If you aren't fully aware of yourself and your body, that is when injuries occur or as in my case, you end up in the wrong posture because you mind is in lala land.

So maybe yogis are both butterflies and bees...(I might be a little delirious from all the yoga.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 57: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Yoga is for Runners, thus the Bike Run YOGA! :D

After 8 days of doubles, taking one class today should have seemed like a breeze right? WRONG! EVERY class is hard. EVERY class is a struggle. And EVERY class is worth it tenfold. Today's class was hot, duh....and really sweaty! I took the 4:00 pm class and really felt strong and flexible in the poses.

We had the studio open house today so there were a lot of new students taking classes. During the day classes I helped out at the studio and lots of new students seemed to be runners and were asking how yoga was with running.

How is it? Wonderful! I just started running last year and early on I realized the muscle benefits of yoga for runners. Lots of runners I know have had issues with IT bands, knees, calves, shin splints, etc. And almost all of those people have never taken a yoga class or really stretched. I truly feel my yoga practice initially helped prevent me from getting injuries because I stretched my muscles in yoga. It continues to help me stay in shape for my races, since I don't actually train for races, and it helps prevent me from getting injuries, which frankly, I should be more prone to since I don't properly train.

After every race, I like to go to a yoga class to help stretch back out whatever gets tightened from running. I totally feel it too. I notice it the most in Hands to Feet Pose and Fixed Firm Pose.

At one point last year during my training I did have some pain in my knees, from talking to my personal trainer I knew it was not really my knees, it was because the muscles that connect to the knee were so knotted up. I used a foam roller to loosen up the muscles but even after that I could tell I was still very tight because I couldn't bring my knees together anymore in Fix Firm Pose.

Now after every race, Fixed Firm Pose feels different than other days and I can feel a tremendous stretch from my knees, through my inner thighs. Which tells me running tights these muscles and yoga stretches them....and stretched muscles for me means less pain in my legs. (Happy legs = Happy Carolyn)

Fixed Firm Pose is where you sit with your knees bent, sitting on your heels. You then separate your feet and sit your hips between your heels. Grab your heels with your hands, thumbs outside, fingers inside and drop your elbows down on the floor. Then touch your head on the floor, arch your back and bring your arms over your head, grabbing you elbows. 

Yoga isn't just good for the muscles and flexibility, it is also great for learning how to breathe. Before I started really paying attention to breathing, I would take short breaths and end up getting winded very quickly. Running to me is partly about strength in the legs but also strength in the lungs. When I run and I feel exhausted, I just start breathing like we do in yoga, long, slow breaths, inhaling as much as possible slowly. It is really amazing, I just did this when I ran the Butterfly Boogie and it really helped me set my best time ever for a 5K. It's a work in progress for sure, I don't get it right all the time, running or inside the yoga room. There are still times I get so exhausted I think I am going to pass out but those times are getting fewer and fewer.

So for all you runners out there, try some yoga. Pay attention to the breathing while you are stretching your muscles and see if some yoga breathing doesn't help you in your next run.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

How is a Single Person Suppose to Use a BOGO Free Coupon?

I was so excited to get Jamba Juice coupons today at the Butterfly Boogie race, I love Jamba Juice! However, upon closer look, I think they are discriminating against single people! "Buy One Get One Free" How the heck am I suppose to use this coupon? LOL Where the heck are the single people coupons?

This is also why I don't buy coupon books anymore, they almost always are BOGO offers or discounts on two meals. Whatever...

I am still hoping someone will come up with a way to have a food warehouse for single people, I don't need 500 rolls of toilet paper or 6 pounds of chicken either. 

Thanks Jamba Juice, you not only have enticed me to come back and get a smoothie, you have forced me to be social and meet someone else that likes Jamba Juice! Anyone want to go with me? :)

I Boogied the Butterfly Boogie 5K!

My new BFF, Exit 1B, and I had a little rendezvous today for the Butterfly Boogie 5K. Apparently everything "cool" is off exit 1B in Dallas. I just recently found this out or I might have looked for a place over there when I moved to Dallas. Whatever, now exit 1B and I are good friends, we see each other often...on my way to see my OTHER friends! Jessica, Dave and Chris ran the 5K with me and Kelly and Doug were ambitious and ran the 10K! It was a great race, perfect weather and a great course and to top it off, I set a PR(Personal Record) for a 5K race, 32:55!

I decided when I picked up my race packet at Luke's Locker a few days ago I wanted some running tights, I've wanted some since my first race this year when I froze to death and was talked out of them because "it will get warmer." There was a $10 off coupon in my race stuff so it was the perfect time to pick up a pair, if they still had some. I not only got some great running tights by CW-X (Women's Pro Tight), I got some Nathan arm warmers too.

I'm so glad I had both too! It was cold waiting around for the race. I'm use to 105 degrees on a yoga room so 50's feel very cold. And the arm warmers were perfect, during the race, I just took them off when I got hot and tucked them into my tights, so much better than wearing a jacket.

Course Map

The race was really a nice race. The course started at Reverchon Park, went along Turtle Creek and then the Katy Trail, ending back at Reverchon Park. I started off strong and felt good the whole race, at the one mile point I was at 10:47, at mile 2 I was at 21:42, at that point I knew I could get a really good time for the race. At about the 2.5 mile point we hopped on Katy Trail and I knew it would be smooth sailing form there, Katy Trail is all flat. The part of Katy Trail we ran today I had run before so I felt a little more comfortable with the course than when I ran basically the same area for the White Rock Half Marathon.

I kept looking at my watch from about 25 minutes until I finished, just trying to focus on 1 minute at a time. Then I thought I heard a beep from a police car but of course it must be a motorcycle. Weird I think...I wonder if someone hurt themselves on the trail. The beeping gets closer. Then I start thinking, oh crap, I am so slow this is the sweeper! How embarrassing! So I of course speed up. I see ahead of mea guy ahead waving people to the side at the same time watching a police motorcycle drive slowly by me. Then I see a runner behind the motorcycle and realize the finisher of the 10K is RIGHT NEXT to me, nope, now he is past me....and there he goes....into the finish line.

My last .2 or some kilometers I had to run knowing someone had just run the 10K faster than me, great. Had I known that beeping was the 10K lead person, I would have made more of an effort to finish before him! :D At any rate, I finish in record time, 32:55, which is the fastest I've ever run a 5K so I am darn happy. It's a good building block to my uh, training, yea, training for the America's Run in a few weeks in Arlington. Yes, I might actually run again before then, I need to improve at least a little on my half marathon time. :)

Now I am off to yoga to stretch out all the muscles I just tightened up running, the two are yen and yang. 

The Gang at Bread Winners after the race.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 55: Bikram Yoga Challenge: Eight Days of Doubles Done!

Just finished my 8th day of doubles, 2 Bikram Yoga classes a day and I am just 5 days away from finishing my 60 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge! I'm so excited! I've been having some up and down days over the last few days, feeling a little tired and worn out one day and then the next, rocking it out in yoga. I guess that is what happens, I asked another guy going to training with me about his "doubles" week and he said he had good and bad days.

Having some moments of frustration. It's frustrating to me when I got to class and can't do a pose the same way I did yesterday, or in the case of the second class, the same as I just did earlier in the day. My most annoying pose lately is Padahastasana, Hands to Feet Pose. I almost always can lock out my knees but lately it is always a guessing game as to whether my knees are going to lock out or not. Part of the problem is my left sciatic nerve I hurt last year pushing myself to do an advanced pose I shouldn't have done.Straightening my leg and locking my knee creates a tremendous amount of pressure and pain, but just in my left leg. The other part of the problem? I think it is just an issue of being tight/sore/fatigued from practicing twice a day and every day for the last 55 days.

Am I worried about my practice or my health? No. My practice will be fine, in fact, the 60 Day Challenge has really helped me focus and be more in tune with my body and tiny corrections I need to make. And my health? My health is fine. My sciatic nerve will heal and some day, hopefully soon, I will be a true Japanese Ham Sandwich, no light anywhere.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 51: Bikram Yoga Challenge - It is a Challenge with Yourself, not Others

From October 2008 Yoga Competition

Note to self: Focus on you and your practice, don't worry about the other people. Sure, that will be easy for an OCD competitive person. Uh, sure. Oh, and go to yoga every day so you can work on your issues! :D

Today in my first class there was "Sally" in front of me bending to the right in Half Moon Pose, bending ALL the way over. I hate it when I start off bending and in my line of sight comes another person, bending basically right in front of me, surpassing my stretch and going further to the side. My natural competitive instinct is to go further too, to be better, to win. So annoying, me not the other person. I thought in my head, "whatever Sally, not going to try and kill myself today, need to stay strong for training"...yea...uh...that's why I am not going farther! Sheesh and I thought I was flexible. Apparently not so much.

Then in the 4:30 class David, one of the studio owners taught, wanted me to be on the front row. "Dude, it's my second class! And I was going to go on the front row but it's next to "Mary" and she is awesome." He didn't seem to care. He said, "Do you know how many super stars are going to be at training next to you and in front of you? This will be good practice, don't worry about her, just focus on you. I should make you get on the front row just to haze you for training, now go get on the front row!" "Fine!", I said, laughing. And to the front I went. And sure enough, everything with Mary was all bendy - bend this way, bend that way, bend allll the way backwards! Sheesh. So once again the competitive side of me was trying so hard to creep out and take over, not that I could have ever come close to where she was today but that wouldn't have stopped me from trying.

But I didn't have time to competing with her, I was too preoccupied with David's hysterical harassment. I thought for sure he was going to have me get up and say Half Moon Pose but he was on a roll, boom, boom, boom, the first three postures were a blur. Not quick postures mind you, oh no, David wanted every once of effort. It was just fast, one right after the other. At one point he said something in class about not sitting out any postures, even if it was my second class. I was determined after that to go through the entire class without sitting out a pose. Even in Standing Bow when I fell out, you better believe I got right back in, I didn't want David calling me out!

In Triangle someone wasn't getting their hips forward. I didn't look, that is a no-no! LOL I just stayed in my sit down position with my arms out, ready for David to say "move both arms." But instead he just kept repeating "hips forward, more forward, more forward." The poor guy next to me gave up waiting and ended up standing out that pose. Not me! I was like, heck no, I'm not dropping my arms, no way. And I just laughed at myself. I know everyone was dying, it seemed like forever until he decided to let us move our arms. In reality it probably wasn't any longer than if he had used the dialog but it SEEMED like an eternity!

Then during our sit up he said, "arms and head together" and it was hysterical, out of the corner of my eye I could see someone's arms go up, with no head. "Arrmmmsss and heeaadd together," David says really slowly, I busted out laughing. All I was thinking was thank goodness that wasn't me!

Then at the end in Head to Knee, I was in the pose and I hear, "Bend your elbows down, I don't care if it is your second class." I think to myself, wow, he is really on it today, picking on a person only in their second class. Just because of natural instinct, I readjusted my elbows anyway. As I came out of the pose, David says to a lady in front of him, "I wasn't speaking to you, I was speaking to her." And he points and looks at me. I again, busted out laughing.

In Spine Twist I had a thought, teachers picking on you and giving you lots of corrections or making you try harder, harder perhaps than you think you can is similar to a snarky bartender who thinks he's getting back at you by filling your mix drink with too much alcohol. If the purpose of drinking is to drink, well, getting too much alcohol is a good problem to have, more to drink and less to buy.  In yoga, teachers corrections just make you better, go farther and reach levels you never thought you could, not a bad thing. So today was great, David taught a hard but awesome class and all his effort to pick on me was actually a benefit to me because it made me try hard and not slack off. Plus, as a bonus, I was competitive with myself, not someone else, and in a competition with myself, well, I always win! :D

So five days of doubles down, ten classes...just two more days of doubles to finish my official week of doubles...then just two more days of doubles to make up for two missed classes and a few more single class days. On the home stretch!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 50: Bikram Yoga Challenge - 4th day of doubles

Well, I'm back from yoga, my second class of the day. Feeling pretty good, not too sore and mentally in good spirits. Of course, it has only been 4 days! The heat was awesome today, I was good and sweaty both classes. I was still a little stiff during the morning class but the heat really helped warm up my body so I could really stretch. The afternoon class was great, big class, hot, lots of energy, so nice!

I would have thought after 4 days and 8 classes I would be worn out, sore or exhausted.I'm pleased to see it hasn't been that difficult, bodes well for my 9 week adventure coming up.

I still have 10 days left in the Challenge, taking it one day at a time, one class at a time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I don't have buyers remorse, I have long pant envy

From March 2010 Snow
 Snow in March, seriously?!

I'm quietly cursing the salesperson at Run On for talking me out of buying long running pants in January before the Too Cold to Hold race. Including that race, I've run 4 races, all of which I was FREEZING! Not all of me mind you, just the part of my legs that were peeking  out of my running CAPRI's! And, to top it off, I have two more running events before I go off to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training....and one is this weekend where I am sure it will be...uh...FREEZING! I don't have buyers remorse, I have long pant envy.

To be fair the guy was super nice and basically said he didn't think I needed them because once it gets in the 40's, people don't usually wear long pants. Oh sure....but has it been in the 40's lately? NO! It was been way colder in the mornings. Plus, I am not a seasoned runner, I am a Bikram Yogi that runs...I like the heat. I like to sweat. Give me long pants!

So today when I left my house this morning and drove through the snow, I wondered what the temperature might be this weekend for the Butterfly Boggie 5K. As I wondered about the weather and pondered the possibility of it being FREEZING, I yet again thought of the man at Run On that recommended I NOT buy the long pants and I so wished I had bought some anyway.

I even had the chance yesterday to buy some long pants at Lukes Locker. I went there and bought some yoga pants....but thought $90 for running "tights" was too much, I mean, how many times would I really wear them this year? I'm on a budget now and can't just buy running pants just because of one race. Which has been my thought EVERY RACE! That the next race will be warmer so there is no need to buy  long pants....just rough it...the next one will be warmer.

Well the next race is almost here and it is freezing today, so much that it snowed! I just hope that it warms up A LITTLE before this weekend, at least in the 40's so I can rationalize I didn't NEED the long pants....that if I was a real runner I would be fine in capris. I wonder if I can tape those 8 hour hand warmer thingies to my legs and still run.....

Day 49: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Double or Nothing

From March 2010 Snow
Snow? Isn't it Spring?!

I'm in my week of "doubles", something I am doing in preparation for going to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. Today was my 3rd day of doubles, taking two classes in one day. I actually need to take 9 days of doubles to catch up on 2 classes I've missed. People look at me kind of funny when I tell them I am going to do 9 days of doubles, I just look at them and say, "If I can't do 9 DAYS of doubles, I'm in trouble, I have to do 9 WEEKS of doubles for training!" Today's two classes were good, they reinforced to me why the heat is so good for the body. My first class was in the morning and between it being early in the day and it not being that hot, my body was really fighting the yoga. My second class was in the afternoon and the class was PACKED which helped with the heat and humidity and I think I had my best class since I started the Challenge.

From March 2010 Snow
more snow at my house
My day started off with a startling revelation it has snowed over night, there must have been 6 inches of snow on the a/c unit outside my bathroom window. Brrrrr. I bundled up and off to yoga I went, freezing and all. My only happy thought was I would soon be in a hot room, sweating instead of freezing. Class was small, I guess lots of people either decided to sleep in or woke up and saw the snow and assumed the studio would be closed. When it is that cold outside, the room never seems to feel quite as hot as it should. I don't actually know how hot it was, it could have been 105 degrees but it sure didn't feel like it. I barely sweated and any sweat I did have seemed to dry up quickly. And my poor muscles were as tight and stiff as if it were my first class. Everything hurt, my back, hamstrings, feet, arms, neck, everything! I thought it was because I had taken so many classes and I was cursing the 60 Day Challenge, that is, until I took my second class in the afternoon.

The afternoon class was packed, they had to turn people away it was so crowded. I snagged a spot on the back row, I hate being up close if I feel like I am going to have a bad class. Since I had already taken one class today and felt I was worn out, I was a little worried about what my practice would look. To my surprise, it was a great class, probably the best class I've had since I started the 60 Day Challenge. In Backward Bending I went all the way back, as far as I could. First set I could see the ballet bar behind me but I couldn't go backwards enough to get my fingertips the same level. In second set I did! Now, if you go to the studio and see where the ballet bar is, it might not seem like such an amazing feet to bend backwards that far but I've struggled lately to bend backwards and I haven't been anywhere near the ballet bar level for awhile so this was a pretty big accomplishment, particularly since I thought I was going to have a bad class. Then in Hands to Feet Pose I actually locked out my knees! In the morning class I couldn't straighten my legs at all, my hamstrings were so tight it was extremely painful to straighten my legs. The entire afternoon class was like that, whatever I couldn't do in the morning class was so much easier.

And the heat! Wow, it was hot in there! I sweated so much it was crazy; sweat was streaming down my body almost all class. I always know it is going to be a sweaty class when I come up from Standing Separate Leg Stretching and sweat streams off my face like water coming out of a faucet. I just love coming out of the pose slowly and watching the sweat hit the towel in a steady stream. I guess between it being warmer outside and the class being full, the humidity and heat combo was just right. My muscles were so "juicy" and ready to stretch it was wonderful. During Rabbit, when I was actually able to touch my forehead to my knees first, I decided it wasn't the 60 Day Challenge that was making my body hurt, it was the lack of heat. When there isn't enough heat, the muscles can't loosen up, so every stretch hurts. Don't believe me? Go run when it is freezing outside or lift weights in a cold room. It hurts. It only gets better once the body is warmed up, when the muscles are warmed up and loose. The heated room in Bikram Yoga helps with this process by starting off hot, helping loosen the muscles faster.

Tomorrow I plan on taking a morning and afternoon class, same as today.I hope both classes are hot hot hot, it is after all BIKRAM YOGA!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 44: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Cat's Do Not Belong in Hot Yoga

My sweet cat Ginger

Sixteen more days in my Bikram Yoga 60 Day Challenge! I am just two classes behind, easily made up with a few doubles. What an adventure, it is like running a race but for 60 days! I've been taking the last few days easy since I ran the 5K and half marathon this past weekend. Going to class but not trying to kill myself every time. I still need to make it through another 16 days of which 7 need to be doubles as part of my preparation for training...then I need to still go through 9 weeks of 2 classes a no need to blow it out of the water today! I have to say though, I am tired of Ginger, my cat, joining me in class via my towel, it is the most annoying thing to have a tiny hair sticking to your nose, mouth or eyelid and no amount of wiping will get rid of it. This issue consumed my practice today after I realized I must have washed my yoga towel with a towel Ginger had shed all over, the whole thing is full of cat hair!

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets help prevent lint or cat hair from sticking to fabrics but you can't use these on a yoga towel, they coat the fibers somehow and that prevents the towel from being absorbent, defeating the purpose of a HOT yoga towel. So I dry my towels with dryer balls, which are fantastic, they bounce around in the dryer and help fluff up the clothes and they do basically what dryer sheets do but they don't add a coating of anything to the fibers. The only downside I have found is the cat hair sticks to more things when dryer sheets are not used. This normally isn't a problem, I buy sticky rollers by the case for quick clothing fixes but my towel? Who knew I would need to roll that with a sticky roller?

As I laid on my towel with my mouth down for Locust Pose, I was met with a mouth full of cat hair, yuck! I imagine it stuck to my lips just the same as if I had kissed my darn cat with wet lips, all her fur would have stuck to me! And you can't wipe the darn stuff away no matter how hard you try...for whatever reason, cat hair just sticks. So the whole time we are on the floor I was wiping my face trying to get tiny cat hairs off me. So distracting.

And does Ginger care? No. She could care less, all she wants is a warm lap to cuddle up in, clean water, more food and a clean litter box. It's nice she likes to be close to me and cuddle but I'd rather she didn't come to yoga with me.

What Do You Do When Your Blog Heckles You?

I'm looking at my blog, reading through the comments and noticed a Google ad for that made me laugh. The t-shirt said, "I am disappointed in you're grammer", which seems so appropriately ironic if you know me at all. It is like my blog is speaking to ME!

Just the other day I sent an email out to my family and friends about my Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon race photos and mentioned I had only purchased the one with my metal. Only after my good friend Ginny, instant messaged me and wrote "if you say metal one more time, I am taking away all your MEDALS!" did I realize I had written the wrong word! LOL I was dying laughing at my mistake. Apparently I had done this several times when writing about my medals.

Having spelling or grammatical errors in my writing is of course is not unusual for me. I attribute these errors to several things, one, I am a fast but terribly inaccurate typist, two, I am pretty sure I am dyslexic to some degree, three, I THINK I am typing the correct letters, it is really my fingers fault and lastly, well, I always like to use the excuse I do it on purpose, to make myself more human and less of a perfectionist. :D

To make light of the situation, I sent out ANOTHER email stating I was technically correct when I wrote METAL since the MEDAL is made of METAL. Right? I mean, come on, I was technically correct. LOL

Now I see my blog has sided with the fam and my friends and has started heckling me over my grammar and spelling through carefully placed Google ads. It seems just wrong when your blog starts heckling you right? I must speak to the people in charge.....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Water Stations as Big as TEXAS, Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon

From 2010 Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon
Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon
March 14, 2010

Completing the Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon marked 6th event completed in my personal challenge to complete 24 events in 2010. The half marathon was a great race with good weather and a nice course, plus I got to share it with good friends and oh, 9200+ other runners. There were lots of things to keep my mind busy too; lots of bands, crazy runners, pot holes, LONG water stations, mile markers and my constant need to calculate how long to the finish. My finish was nothing to call the media about, 2:40: 29, but I finished and considering my pre race training consisted of running 2 5k races, I am pleased with my race performance.

As with the Dash Down Greenville 5K, the pre-race weather was FREEZING! My friend Ginny and I huddled behind a bus near the exhaust to keep warm. Funny huh? We thought so too when we say people huddled around the back of the buses, then we tried it and wow, what a difference! We stunk like exhaust and I'm sure it wasn't good to inhale the nasty exhaust but we were a little more warm.

We dreaded handing over our gear check bags, doing so meant giving up warm layers of clothing. We waited as long as we could, then quickly got into our corrals in hopes of benefiting from the group body heat.

After San Diego's marathon race, Ginny and I decided we could run races together, just not TOGETHER, so she was in corral 7 and I hung back in corral 8 with my TNT buddy, Rhonda, and my TNT mentor, Susan. Rhonda and I have run several races together and we already know at some point we would probably get split up and that's ok, we just run our own races and see each other at the end. Susan I knew ran faster than me so I had already planned on "meeting her at the end."

As we stood there shivering and waiting patiently , I looked around at the other runners and noticed a cute pink shirt on a girl. On the back it said "Please God let there be someone behind me to read this shirt." That's what I was thinking! "Please God, just let me NOT be last in my age group!"

 My strategy was simply, don't over due it, stick to my intervals and just get to the finish line in a reasonable amount of time. Rhonda and I started off together with our 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking and that seemed to work well. We were almost to the American Airlines Center when I turned my head to the right to notice and older gentleman pull out a race map and look at it like he was sightseeing! I was dying! I poked Rhonda in the arm and just pointed in the guys direction. We both laughed as we ran off. Too funny. I guess he wanted to know what interesting things he was passing, surely he didn't need help knowing where the course was, there were plenty of runners to help with that!

About mile 3 there was a down hill part and we were on a walk. I said to Rhonda, "we should run, its down hill." Rhonda looked at me was said, "No. No need to over achieve Carolyn, especially since we haven't trained! We are sticking to our intervals." LOL Ok! Sticking to intervals! Heck, I didn't really care anyway, I'm not an over achiever lately....if I was I would have at least run more than 3.1 miles at a time in a training run. My only goal was to finish so we walked down the hill.

What was up with the water stations? They were the longest, most well stocked water stations I've ever seen! They were definitely prepared for lots of runners. The only minor irritation was when someone wanted Cytomax, it was all the way at the end which seemed like a quarter mile down so you almost had to run from the water to the Cytomax or you totally ruined your time. Not complaining though! Would rather have TOO much water than not enough. Just thought they were funny, they made for good distractions.

Somewhere along Turtle Creek Blvd. or maybe Beverly, there was a pretty long, steep hill. I had already agreed with Rhonda to stick to the intervals so when the hill came up, I ran it, didn't like it, but I did it. What was great was the lady beside me for part of it, she was chanting to herself "flat course, flat course" all the way up the hill, and she ran up the whole thing! You go girl! Pretty amazing how the mind has so much power, you can do amazing things just by telling your mind you can. I'm not sure but I gather the lady hadn't run many hills and it was clear she didn't like them. :)

And who does right? Hills are just annoying, running or cycling. They are some of the few times in life when flat IS better! And thank you spectators for being there, cheering us on, always telling us when a hill was coming up or if the rest of the course was flat or down hill. I find those sorts of things very helpful, when accurate. At one point though, I think one spectator was a little loose with the definition of  "downhill."  We were nearing Mockingbird Lane and ran on part of Airline where my old company is located. So when a spectator yells out, the rest is down hill, my first reaction is "oh, thank you!", then I round the corner onto Airline and immediately wonder what that person was talking about. Airline is NOT downhill. It isn't uphill either but it certainly isn't downhill. And I already knew there was a long incline on Mockingbird to Skillman so I wasn't sure what "downhill" the person was thinking of. Regardless, this thought stuck in my head for at least a quarter mile or so helping distract my mind.

The hill from Mockingbird Station all the way up to Skillman was just plain annoying. The only good thing about it was I knew after I finished and turned the corner onto Skillman, I would be at mile 8 and well on my way to the home stretch. The last miles were the hardest, I guess that is to be expected.

At mile 9 I tried to calculate how long it had been and how much longer I thought I would be running. The thought of running another 48 minutes was irritating so I started calculating smaller increments. At mile 10 I was feeling pretty good. I knew I was going to be past my last half marathon time, there was no way I was going to be able to make it up but I just kept running anyway. I could have run faster by why bother? I had less than 3 miles left at that point and a minute or two was not going to make or break my race but stressing myself out or hurting myself from running too hard would have been detrimental to my new life goals, so taking it easy vital.

About half way through mile 11 I hear a guy tell his friend, "when we see mile 12, we are golden, we've got this." His friend was a bit more winded than he was yet still managed to say, "Dude, we already got this, we are doing it." Love hearing other people's comments along runs. Mile 12 took a long time to come around, seemed like forever. I had started chanting to myself "Come on, you can do this, stay focused, you can do this, eye on the goal, just keep moving" somewhere around mile 5. By the time I got to mile 11, I was chanting it all the time and at times shouting parts of it to push myself to keep moving.

As I ran the last mile, my speed increased a little and I just kept thinking, "I'm almost there. Almost there." It was a great feeling to run into Fair Park and see all the people cheering us in. There was a little boy, maybe 5 standing there shouting, "you are almost there!" So cute. That last quarter mile was rough but as the course wound around I could hear the cheering and the announcer, I knew I was near. Then I saw the mile 13 marker....time to pick it up. I rounded the corner and sprinted as fast as I could into the finish line, 2:40: 29. A few minutes slower than my White Rock Half Marathon time from December and oddly, just a few seconds off from my Big D half marathon time last year.

From 2010 Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Overall a great race, will run it again next year for sure, hopefully with a little training under my belt! Now that I'm done with this race, it is time to start thinking of my next big run, the America's Run in Arlington, Texas in April. I know, I've said it before but really, THIS time I am plan on actually TRAINING for the half marathon. Really!

Check back for updates on how that's going. LOL

From 2010 Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon

From 2010 Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon

It's a Race People, Not a Beer Run - Dash Down Greenville 5K 2010

The Dash Down Greenville started off with driving to Mockingbird Station and taking the train UP to Lovers Lane. It seemed a bit backwards to go down, then up when my house is almost a straight shot, as a crow flies, to the race start but with parking issues and the potential for lots of drunk people around, the train was starting to sound better and better.

From Dash Down Greenville 5K

It was a COLD morning, way to cold to be waiting for the train or standing around waiting for a race to start! My friend Ginny, Jessica and I were FREEZING almost the entire time. The worst was just standing around waiting for the race to start. But the scenery was fantastic! Lots of people were there to see the race AND the parade so they were all decked out in green St. Patty's Day garb. Lots of girls in inappropriate short skirts and low cut tops too, not sure how they were doing it since I was freezing in pants, shirt and jacket. But God Bless them, someone had to give the guys something to look at!

From Dash Down Greenville 5K
Ginny and Carolyn

From Dash Down Greenville 5K
Jessica and Carolyn

We huddled together with the other runners while we waited to start. It was so packed for at least the first mile which made it hard to run a good pace, not that I run fast anyway, but I certainly don't need a pack of people in my way either! I'm not sure why but there were walkers, lots of them, near the front, and the race path was relatively small compared to the amount of people so as I started off I was practically walking. I tried to run and had to hop on and off the curb to get past the walkers. Such a crazy race.

As we turned the corner onto Southwestern, there was a water station, or what I thought was a water station, it only had beer! I kept running. I know it's a St. Patty's day run people but beer? As I am thinking about the beer and how ridiculous it is I come upon a HUGE hill. Not really...but any slight incline to be is a big hill. All I could think about at that point was to just keep running up the hill, not stopping at all - and I did it! I rounded the corner onto Skillman and felt so happy I had run up the hill without stopping. I normally consider hills to be my "walks" and do my best to walk quickly up but instead I found the motivation to just keep running.

I was about at the 2 mile mark when I decided I wasn't going to walk or stop, I had been running since the start and I was still feeling pretty good, another mile, no problem! (My normal running strategy is intervals with 5 minutes running and 1 minute walking but for 5K's, I try and run the whole thing now, a BIG accomplishment for me!) I didn't even stop at a water station!

I finished at 34:28. Three minutes faster than "Dash for the Beads" in February and just 45 seconds slower than my PR from last year. Considering the first mile was packed and we could hardly run, I consider this time to be wonderful!

Afterward we went to Ozona for a "make your own" Blood Mary, so good! A great ending to a fun race.

From Dash Down Greenville 5K
Now THAT is a Bloody Mary!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 37: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Been There Done That

As I laid in Savasana, I think it was after Cobra, I noticed a lady next to me, she looked exhausted, her face was red, sweat was streaming down her face and she looked at bit defeated. I didn't really have much thought about it except to notice she was really struggling.In Savasana you aren't suppose to look at the other person really, you are just suppose to completely relax and look at a point on the floor and try not to think. But this poor lady wasn't turning her head the same way as everyone else, so when we looked to the left, there she was, facing me a little but with her face more in her towel, looking exhausted.

I just stared at her, watching her struggle, noticing the sweat patterns are her face and arms. My first thought was wow, I have totally been where lady! I have been so exhausted I couldn't think straight and it was all I could do to just keep breathing, don't bother asking me to turn my head the right way. I have been so red in the face people thought I should sit out a posture.

But that wasn't me today. Today I felt calm and noticed my own breath was normal and easy. And I was working hard too, don't think a calm feeling comes just from not working hard in class. It comes from working hard in class consistently! After taking 36 classes in a row, my yoga practice seems to be at a different level. I made it through Triangle, both sets and I made it through the standing series without having to stop to take a breath. I fell out of postures sure but that is normal if you are trying your hardest in a pose. Falling out and sitting out are two different things. :) I tried to think of the last time I even sat out a posture. I couldn't remember. Then I wondered if I had written about it in my blog. The fact that I can't remember the last time I fell out of a posture automatically makes me assume it has been a long time. Let's go with that theory!

Now today might have been a fluke, you never know, tomorrow I could go to class and have the "oh my gosh I am going to die" look on my face. But I'd like to think I am making progress and "growing" into my practice. So to my yogi friend who was next to me, "good job making it through class, it wasn't easy for sure but you made it! Come back tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Some day it  WILL get easier!" Namaste.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 34 and 35: Bikram Yoga Challenge - I Got to Take Class from Diane Duscharme!

Diane Duscharme, a senior Bikram Yoga teacher and 20+ year Bikram Yogi was at the Bikram Yoga Grapevine studio giving a posture clinic on Bikram Yoga's 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. I took class first, which Diane taught and then stayed for the posture clinic, both Saturday and Sunday; total it was about 10 hours of yoga. As a person about to go to Bikram Teacher Training, I found her class and posture clinic to be exceptionally valuable, it was so dialog driven, it really gave me a better sense of why we say certain things at certain times and why it is important to stick to the dialog and not create your own wording. After 2 days I left with 13 pages of notes, a better understanding of the posture dialog, a few sore muscles and a bunch of good information to improve my own practice, all in all, one heck of a weekend!

Saturday I got to Bikram Yoga Grapevine a few minutes before class started, the room was pretty full so I had to set up in the back row. I didn't notice until after class had started but for some reason I was an yogi island in a room full of yogi's. There were people in front of me but no one to either side of me. This made me feel slightly alone and sad I was without some of the class energy with no one on either side. That feeling quickly changed when I saw people having to reposition themselves and move their mats in Triangle, all the sudden I was pleased I was on the back row all by myself, plenty of room to stretch out without worrying if someone is going to sweat on me or my towel.

Today I set up in the back again, basically in the same place I did yesterday, heck, it worked well yesterday, why not do it again today. Now I already explained in previous posts I am a bit OCD and A LOT annal retentive (see other posts if you want more information), so it should come as no surprise to anyone that once I noticed my Kulae towel was sewn crooked, it was all I could think about. Yes, that's right, it is crooked. I know how that happens too, it isn't a defective towel, it just is the way the fabric is. The fabric comes on a big roll or bolt and when they cut it, they just cut, sometimes the weave of the fabric is not exactly straight so it gets cut a tiny bit crooked. When you WASH the towel, this "crookedness" becomes even more obvious. So through the first few postures all I could think about was how I was going to cut the towel straight and sew the edging to make it even. I tried really hard to not think about it, I really did. It helped that Diane Duscharme kept telling us to not look down, to look up or straight in the mirror, this gave me less opportunity to notice the crooked towel. But in Toe Stand we had to look four feet in front and there it was, the angled, crooked towel laughing at me because it knew I couldn't do anything about it. Darn towel!

Besides my island and towel issue, my two classes were absolutely awesome. I love taking class from teachers that really use the dialog and don't add their own commentary and Diane Duscharme really uses the dialog. I use to like this just because it was what I was use to from my own "home" studio in Dallas, as I traveled around the country for work I would go to other studios and there was sometimes a large difference in the way people taught class, I always liked the studios that were more like the Dallas studio where the proper dialog is a big focus. Now that I am preparing for teacher training, I like dialog driven teachers even more because then I get to use class as a teaching moment, I try hard to really pay attention to how they say the dialog and when they emphasize specific words.

The two days of posture clinic were simply amazing. I learned so much! We had to have spent the first 20 minutes just on the breathing exercise, Diane went through a fairly extensive explanation on how to breathe through the nose but using the throat. It was really quite fascinating, I had never been shown the difference or really explained the difference in quite the same way. We all tried it and sure enough, there is a clear difference from breathing using the throat and not. And something as simple as "no backward bending" in the breathing. Sure, we all know we aren't suppose to backward bend but to hear that when you do bend backwards, it can add pressure to the neck is useful information. When you get to USE that information right away by trying it both ways, well, that is just fantastic!

Diane used the phrase "ultimate destination" a lot to describe what teachers mean when they say certain things in class. For some students, the instructions in class are virtually impossible to follow, because they are not that flexible yet or maybe they don't have the strength yet. What Diane was explaining is the dialog is the ultimate destination, where you eventually want to end up, some day, in the future. Also, it can sometimes be more the direction of where the eyes or arms are suppose to go so when they say to "see the floor" behind you, very few people if any can do that but if you look back and always "try" to see the floor behind you, you will be going in the right direction and trying the right way.

My ultimate destination is to be a Bikram Yoga Teacher, eventually, in the future...when I've improved my dialog enough...then only..... :D Just need to keep going in that direction. Namaste

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 32: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Texas Champion, Susan Anderson, Taught Class!

From 2010 USA/InternationalYogaCompetition (by Eye-Fi)
Susan Anderson at USA Yoga Championships in Los Angeles

I am in Austin, Texas visiting my sister-in-law and participating in a "green" networking event with Texas Green Network, all the while, still trying to get my yoga in everyday. There are three Bikram Yoga studios in Austin; Yoga Groove in North Austin recently expanded and I haven't been to the studio since the remodel so I decided go go there and check it out. I'm so glad I did too, Susan Anderson, the 2009 Texas Yoga Asana Championship winner was teaching!

First, the studio, it was amazing! The lobby area was spacious, great for hanging around after yoga and chatting it up with fellow yogis. The retail area was a large wall area with lots of selection, I almost bought something! (But I refrained.) There were also several massage rooms right past the sign in desk. At the end of the hall were two dressing rooms, one with a picture of Bikram and one with a picture of Rajashree, I went into the one with Rajashree. Very nice dressing area with two showers and a good amount of cubbies for our belongings.

The yoga room was down the hall. Directly opposite the yoga room entrance door was a water dispenser, with ICE, and a wonderful wall were people had written note cards as to why they practice. It was fun reading the different reasons people practice Bikram Yoga, some do it for health reasons, some do it for a HOT body and others just do it for a more peaceful mind.

After I had fully admired the new digs I went into the yoga room and set my mat on the second line. Within a few seconds I felt hungry, possibly a little weak and rethought my decision to be on the second row. See, being hungry before the class starts just means when class starts, the word "starving" will start to creep into my mind, my stomach will start to hurt, it is likely a little growling will happen and I am sure to start to wither and fall out of poses, best to do that on the 3rd row where hopefully less people will see. I moved my mat to the 3rd row and laid down in Savasana.

I must had dosed off; I hear the instructor and I open one eye, wait for it to get acclimated to the light and open the second one. I heave myself up and turn around and realize my class is being taught by Susan Anderson, the women's first place winner of the 2009 Texas Yoga Asana Championships. Cool!

Susan didn't wear a head set which instantly made it feel like a more intimate class and her voice was soft and soothing, adding a more zen feeling to class. It reminded me of how people describe yoga; instructors with soothing voices that talk slowing and methodically giving instruction as if it were a Sunday afternoon. It wasn't exactly "Bikram-esque" but it was oddly motivating and encouraging, perhaps as encouraging as the strong commands of the Bikram dialog and microphoned voices coming out of overhead speakers. Clearly the other students in the room liked it, they were all intently paying attention to Susan's instructions and added correction techniques. Susan did spend a lot of time giving additional instruction and tips on how to hold the hand or how to bend or when to move to the next step. As I listened I pondered in my mind if this was better or worse to just having the dialog spoken in class with less general corrections and demonstrations from the instructor.

But then, as we closed in on the last few postures, I decided the extra instruction WAS helpful. Susan gave what I would call a fairly in depth breakdown of Half Tortoise with when and how to place the hands on the floor. Lots of people must have been having trouble with it because after she gave that demonstration, we did the second set and there seemed to be a resounded acknowledgment that her tips and corrects had improved the students postures.

I love taking class from different teachers, even though there is a set dialog (how to say the postures) and everyone is suppose to say it the same way, there always seems to be a personal flair that comes out through the instruction. The class was just right for a lazy day in Austin where the temperature was 74 and sunny. After class I put the top down on the car and zipped around town feeling happy and content. Yoga is a good thing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 31: 60 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge - The Halfway Point Came and Went

From October 2008 Yoga Competition

The halfway point of my Challenge came and went without fan fair, there were no supporters cheering me on, no water stations and no signs telling me I was almost to the finish. Instead there was the comforting feeling of familiar posture instruction in class, the inspiring voice of a teacher and students I've come to consider my training partners in this crazy 60 day journey. We all work together to help each other make it to whatever our goals are.

So what have I accomplished in 30 days? I've lost a pound or two. I've increased my flexibility, I have reduced the neck issue I have from being hunched over a computer for 8 hours and I just "feel" better. Nothing to earth shattering I realize but not every 60 day challenge produces amazing, obvious results. And I don't really care either. I'm not doing the 60 day challenge to achieve amazing weight loss or lose lots of body fat although those would be nice changes too, I am doing the challenge to have an improved general fitness routine that improves my life, my mind and my body....and for the t-shirt. :)

It's now time to embark on the down hill part of the challenge. In a running event I would start to count down the miles and calculate how long it would take me to finish, all the way praying a mile marker came quickly. In yoga you just go to class and add a sticker to your 60 day challenge calendar at the studio. I am a little obsessive so sometimes I do count the days left....even though I know what they are, I like to physically count down each day....makes me feel like I am making progress, I think it is a tactile learning thing that makes me do that. Anyway, it is the journey, every class, not the end that is important right? Different than a marathon, where it is ALL about the finish! I'm just going to take each day as it comes and be happy with where my body is in the moment. Day 60 will come soon enough.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 29: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Class Happens Whether You Are There or Not

60 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

Even When You Are in Class, Sometimes You Really Aren't

Do you ever have one of those days when you WANT to be in yoga class but your mind is running a million miles a minute through all the OTHER things you need to do that day? That was me today. Class started off ok I guess, I can hardly remember. My mind was so busy noting all the tasks I needed to do and mentally allotting time in my day for each one. During the second set of Awkward I  was doing the third part during the second part. As I put my knees together and started to go down, I  noticed in the mirror everyone else had their knees apart...I quickly moved my knees out. I thought to myself..."are we doing this for the first or second time? Aren't we on the third part?" UGH...that is when you know class is just going to be a "thing" you do, not something you "experience" and participate it.

Oh, I tried to "get into class" but too many things were going through my brain. I'm working on some time sensitive stuff and was expecting some emails back this morning....and class was interrupting that process. But taking class later in the day wasn't going to work, there I was, in class but not really IN class.

And I was suppose to take Advanced again today but clearly THAT wasn't going to happen! If I can't stay focused in the regular class, there is no way I was going to make it through another 90 minutes, my head might have exploded wondering if my emails came in.

As it turns out, it was a good thing I didn't take the Advanced class. My email was acting up and I wasn't receiving all my emails so I had to follow up with some vendors.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better now that I have a few of the "911" purchasing issues taken care of. Either that or I will sit in the back so few people notice my gazing off to look at my to-do list in the shy.
New Bag Styles