Category Archives: Fitness

I can’t wait to see what Venus is wearing and the other Floridians I’m watching in the Olympics

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Can I hear a “Let’s Go Ry-an!” That’s right, I think I can hear you: a faint, “Let’s go Ry-an!”

Did you see that 400 individual medley men’s race? I think Ryan (we’re on a first name basis, you know it’s a Florida thing) could have swum with the gold medal already around his neck, and still have finished first. It was supposed to be a race between two of the greatest swimmers ever, but Micheal Phelps did not show up. Ryan Lochte beat the silver medalist, who was not Michael Phelps, by three body lengths. There’s no stopping Ryan now!

This morning (Sunday July 29, 2012) Ryan qualified for the 200 meter freestyle finals that will happen tonight. Michael Phelps, qualified to swim this event in London by winning first place at the Olympic trials in Omaha, narrowly beating Ryan, but he opted out of the 200 free for the Olympic games. On twitter, Michael’s coach Bob Browman explained that the plan was for this change to allow him to focus more energy on relays for Team USA.” This makes me happy. I CAN NOT wait for Ryan to kill it, but it is hard watching a Giant fall. Maybe the rest will help Phelps gain some composure… come on Michael focus. We’re all pulling for you.

Also today Venus Williams opens the tennis singles competition playing French Open finalist Sara Errani in the first round. AND I CAN NOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT SHE IS WEARING! Did you know this will be the first time ever that players can wear color to Wimbledon, thanks to the Olympic rules? Watch out Kate, our Florida Fashionista is coming for you and I am sure we are going to get a good show! She arrived in London with patriotic braids.

So there are 26 Floridians competing in the 2012 Olympic games. I found the complete list, courtesy of the U.S. Olympic Committee Department of Communication, on the Tallahassee television channel’s website http://www.wctv.tv.com.

Chris Colwill, Diving, 3 Meter, Brandon (competed in 2008 Games)
Jared Frayer, Wrestling, Freestyle 66kg, Clearwater (first Olympic Games)
Paige Railey, Sailing, Laser Radial, Clearwater (first Olympic Games)
Zach Railey, Sailing, Finn, Clearwater (silver medalist in 2008)
Ryan Lochte, Swimming, Backstroke, Freestyle Individual Medley, Daytona Beach (competed in 2004 and 2008 games winning six medals, three gold)
Sarah Lihan, Sailing, Women’s two-person dingy, Ft. Lauderdale (first Olympic Games)
Sanya Richards-Ross, Athletics, 400m, Ft. Lauderdale (competed in 2004 and 2008 Games, won two medals at 2008 Games)
Mike Holloway, Athletics, Assistant Coach Sprints and Hurdles, Gainesville (first Olympic Games)
Hunter Kemper, Triathlon, Longwood (competed in 2000, 2004, 2008 Games)
Laura Bennett, Triathlon, North Palm Beach (an alternate on 2004 U.S. Team)
Phil Dalhausser, Volleyball – Beach, Ormond Beach (2008 gold medalist)
Jennifer Simpson, Athletics, Middle Distance (mile, steeplechase), Oviedo (first Olympic Games)
Foluke Akinradewo, Volleyball, Middle Blocker, Plantation (first Olympic Games)
Anna Tunnicliffe, Sailing, Elliott 6m, Plantation (gold medalist in 2008)
Tony McQuay, Athletics, 400m, Riviera Beach (first Olympic Games)
Brian Fatih, Sailing, Men’s Keelboat, Miami (first Olympic Games)
Sylvia Fowles, Basketball, Center, Miami (competed in 2008 Games)
Manuel Huerta, Triathlon, Miami (first Olympic Games)
LeBron James, Basketball, Forward, Miami (competed in 2004 and 2008 Games)
Danell Leyva, Gymnastics, Artistic, Miami (first Olympic Games)
Mark Mendelblatt, Sailing, Men’s Keelboat, Miami (competed in 2004 Games)
Robin Prendes, Rowing, Lightweight Men’s Four, Miami (first Olympic Games)
Trevor Moore, Sailing, 49er, Naples (first Olympic Games
Brittany Viola, Diving, 1 meter, Platform, Orlando (first Olympic Games)
Tina Konyot, Equestrian, Dressage, Palm City (first Olympic Games)
Serena Williams, Tennis, Palm Beach Gardens (competed in 2000 and 2008 Games)
Venus Williams, Tennis, Palm Beach Gardens (competed in 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games)
Justin Gatlin, Athletics, 100m, 200m, Pensacola (gold medalist in 2004 Games)
Lacy Janson, Athletics, Pole Vault, Sarasota (first Olympic Games)
Emil Milev, Shooting, Rapid Fire Pistol, Tampa (fifth Olympic Games appearance, first for U.S.)

A VERY EXCITING FLORIDIAN TO WATCH will be sprinter Justin Gatlin. The now 30-year-old won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but he missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics because he was serving a four-year doping ban.

That’s why there’s plenty of buzz surrounding Gatlin this year as he returns to the Olympics and tries to steal the gold medal away from reigning Olympic champion Usain Bolt and reigning world champion Yohan Blake. (Bolt and Blake… funny).

Gatlin is coming after the champions Bolt and Blake (funny!) and they better watch out! He won the 100-meter U.S. Olympic trials final in a career-best 9.80 seconds. I am looking forward to the start of track and field on August 3rd.

There is nothing like the Olympics to bring a country together OR a little jump on the state’s band wagon to make a new Miamian feel more at home. Ryan Lochte’s performance might have even made me dislike the University of Florida a little bit less. It is true what they say you can take the girl out of Oxford (the home to Ole Miss) but you can never take Oxford out of the girl. But come on Rebel fans, don’t you agree, its Ryan Lochte. We can forgive them for that tacky blue and orange, can’t we? At least for today anyway…

I needed something to add a little skip in my step

I have not updated my workout play list in a year and a half and I was ready for a little something new.  I scoured the Internet for recommendations and included songs that I have liked on the radio lately.

I looked for upbeat songs and/or songs that made me happy.  Here is what I have thrown into the mix:

Machinehead Bush

Killing Me Softly With His Song Fugees

Me and Bobby McGee Janis Joplin

Domino Jesse J

That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas) Lyle Lovett

Harder to Breathe Maroon 5

Party in the U.S.A. Miley Cyrus

Fat Bottomed Girls Phillip Phillips

Can’t Stop The Rd Hot Chili Peppers

SOS Rihanna

Runnin Down a Dream Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Lonely Boy The Black Keys

Crazy in Love Beyonce

Shame on You Indigo Girls

Good Girl Carrie Underwood

What Makes You Beautiful One Direction

Rumor Has It Adele

Waka Waka Shakira

Cal Me Maybe Carly Rae Jepsen

Roxanne– Juliet Simms

I’ve gone through the mix a couple of times and I’m enjoying it.  Shakira’s Waka Waka is really fun and I was surprised how great the Tom Petty song made me feel- I’ve listed to him for years but never considered adding it to my running playlist.  My favorite of the moment though is Rhiana.  Her music is so versatile and the song SOS made me stop mid-run and dance and THAT is a fun way to start the day!

Do you have any new songs that I could add to the list?

Source: twitter.com via Meredith on Pinterest

My dad can run faster than your dad

My dad can run fast. And he can run far. He never broke a 3 hour marathon but he came very close. My best friend in college teased that breakfast at the Murray’s always included a trophy. On our weekend visits home we would roll out of bed from a late night on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to breakfast and a 5k or 10k winner’s trophy on the bar.

There were a lot of trophies!

Meredith and Dad

In August 2006 another Ole Miss friend convinced me to train for the December Dallas Half Marathon- “the Rock.” I had some extra baby weight to lose and lived half a mile from the most popular running trail in Dallas, White Rock Lake. I could not come up with any good excuses, so I agreed to give the training program a try.

Being a somewhat self-absorbed only child it never occurred to me that my dad might be pleased that I was trying out his favorite hobby. Luckily, my mom pointed out what probably should have been obvious, “you know your dad is so excited that you have started to run.”

As December drew closer and I had almost completed the half marathon training program my dad said to me, “if you are interested in running a marathon, I will come out of marathon retirement and run one with you. My treat. We can go anywhere you want to go.”

He had not run a marathon in 8 years and was about to turn 60. I was high on a successful training program and excited for the prospect of a few nights away with my dad, without my almost 3 and 1 year olds (to be completely honest). The decision was made. We signed-up for the 10th annual Rock ‘N Roll San Diego marathon set in early June of 2007.

That December, at the post party of my first half marathon, I met two girls with whom I had a lot in common. They both lived in my neighborhood and they had both just signed up for their first marathon which just so happened to be the next San Diego Rock “N Roll. One of them, Michele, had just paid a private trainer a good bit of money to design and then coach her through a marathon-training program. It worked out perfectly because the 3 of us met 4 days a week and followed the expert’s tailored workouts together. My dad drove in from the suburbs to join us for our Saturday long runs.

I was not prepared for all of the new conversation topics forced upon my father and me during those training runs. Our Saturday morning group was usually 4 or 5 women and Dad and there were several of us that got through the mileage by talking or listening to someone else talk. “Lord, help me, ” I prayed often as someone brought up boobs, sex or some other topic that I would have never in 8 million years dreamed of discussing with my sweet dad. By the race in June he was just one of the girls and our relationship had grown in ways we had never imagined.

The day before we left for our marathon, about 5 minutes before my OBGYN office closed for the weekend, I took a pregnancy test that came back positive. Thankfully I got through to a nurse to ask the doctor’s opinion on running a marathon in this condition. I was not thrilled with her answer. “Yes, your baby will be fine if you run 26.2 miles on Sunday, but no we do not advise this. You are more likely to get dehydrated running a marathon pregnant.”

I just couldn’t let the training go to waste so I opted to risk the dehydration, but decided not to tell my dad for fear he would refuse to run the race and risk my health.

We started the race strong and ran the first 12 miles around a 9-minute pace. For me, the race was already starting to feel long, so I decided to entertain myself by whispering about my pregnancy surprise to each of my friends. I saved my dad’s ears for last, and broke the news at mile 17.

While my mom later worried how all of us would handle three children under 4, my dad’s first reaction was, “thank you, thank you! The more grandchildren the better!” Then, “do you think we better walk?”

At that point I was ready… so we ran/walked it to the finish. I will never know if I finished that marathon in 4 hours and 44 minutes, 30 minutes over my goal time because I was pregnant or because I just wasn’t prepared (I’ve known in the back of my mind that means another marathon is in my future, so I can figure that out) but I do know I will never forget the look on my dad’s face when we crossed that finish line hand in hand.

After that baby was born in January 2008, dad came back to the Lake most weekends to meet the group for our long runs and before we knew it, it was time for Dallas’s White Rock Marathon. Our group had grown a little bit bigger and the 8 of us decided to sign-up for the half marathon.

2 years before I’m not sure I had considered my finish time until the day of the race. That day I had heard chatter about a 2-hour completion, so I felt pretty good when I crossed the finish line of my first half at 2 hours and 4 minutes. At my second White Rock Half, our whole group (except for speedy Greg, who leaves us all in the dust on race day) thought it would be fun to break the 2 hour mark, but with no particular strategy in place to make this happen. I remember just planning to run hard and hope for the best!

Dad and I started out with the group, but it was crowded and we lost them somewhere around mile 8. It was about that time that my dad looked at me and said, “If you want to hit 2 hours, I think you can do it, but we’ve got to get moving.” You see that is what dad does during his races to get him through to the end- he calculates. He is old school. No fancy satellite watch necessary. He looks at the minutes on the stopwatch and starts multiplying seconds by minutes then dividing by miles then multiplying again until he knows exactly where he is in the race in comparison with his goal. That day he was calculating for me- how could we reach my goal?

He said we needed to run the rest of the miles in about 8 minutes 45 seconds. My friend Kendall described it later- “you had your own personal pacer.” So true

It wasn’t easy. For those of you that know Dallas, it was the first year they had changed the racecourse and the last 2 miles or so we ran down the Katy trail. This trail is great for a training run, but not so nice in a race, because (1) there are no spectators to help pull you along and (2) the trees form a tunnel, which became a little monotonous and crowded with the 20,000+ runners on race day.

When we came out of the trail my dad said, “You’re real close, about half a mile left. If you give it all you’ve got, you just might make it.”

So that’s what I did. I sprinted it in with everything I had left. And I finished that race in 2 hours and 58 seconds. I didn’t quite reach my goal but I felt so good and surprised both myself and the rest of the group by beating all of them- except speedy Greg, of course. This group of amazing running friends is really not competitive, but we do notice when someone has a good day- and we celebrate that! So they did- I got a lot of congratulations.

My mom told me later that dad got tears in his eyes when he told her about the race. “Carol, I told her to go and she went! She was flying.” It was such a special day.

Meredith and Dad finished the Half

Sometime later that next year dad’s hand went numb. The feeling came back but brought with it bad news. Dad had an arrhythmia, which had caused small blood clots that were floating around his body. These small clots then caused a few small strokes with side effects like his numbing hand. No permanent damage, but both the clots and the heartbeat needed to be treated and the drugs slowed dad’s running way down. Literally. He could still run but had to monitor his heartbeat to make sure it didn’t go too fast. On top of that one of the drugs directly affected his performance and the doctor explained that no matter how hard he worked his performance would top out, and prevent him from running at the speed/distance he ran before. And because he needs to take this drug for the rest of his life, a slower performance was something he would need to figure out how to live with…

So he did.

Over the past few years I’ve watched him completely alter his exercise routine. He told me he asked a trainer in the gym to help him design a program that emphasized core strength and flexibility because these skills are a necessity for comfort as he ages. His 6 am runs have turned into trips to the gym or walk/runs. I imagine it would be hard to stay motivated and “show-up” for a 60-minute walk over the same distance that might have taken you half the time to run just a few years prior. But if it is hard, my dad doesn’t let on. He just does it.

I feel so lucky that I got to run with my dad. And now, even though he is not running beside me, he still motivates me everyday.

It is more than his greatly appreciated coaching tips that I cherish. Watching him push himself to be the best he can be does more for my drive than any words ever could.

I think this race with time that we are ALL in is tough. Aging is hard.

But my dad is going to be a winner.
Because he is fast.
Because he is strong.
Because he can run far.
And I will always be there to cheer him on.
Go Dad, Go!

I hate yoga.. but I can’t touch my toes

And that concerns me.

My mom is 65ish and looks fabulous.

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She has exercised for my entire life. When I was in elementary school, I would wake to find her lying on her side on the floor scissoring her legs in unison with the leg warmer-clad ladies in the Jane Fonda video on the television while she was reading the paper AND drinking a mug of coffee. I’m not sure if Mom was REALLY wearing a powder blue leotard or if that memory manifested from me sitting on the couch and watching Jane jumping jack morning after morning!

That doesn’t sound like exercise to you? Well it was probably just Mom’s warm-up to one of the thousands of tennis singles matches that she played and destroyed her opponent, or a 3-mile jog, or a slalom water ski run, or, well the list goes on and on.

But what she never included in her workouts was yoga, and she says now everything hurts. Not that this has slowed her down; she has just incorporated more ice into her workout regime.

I have also been known to skip out of the “cool down” portion of my favorite group exercise class or push my run to the longest possible mileage leaving no time to stretch before jumping in the shower to get on with my day. But recently, Mom’s regret has fueled me to find a yoga class that I can tolerate.

I timed my growing interest in yoga pretty well. Just as I began to wonder which type of yoga would be best for the most inflexible person on the planet, the discount voucher messages began exploding in my email account. Beginning in January of 2010 I think I bought every exercise voucher that became available in a fifteen-mile radius of my house. And if I missed one, one of my running partners found it and we bought them up! The four of us tried it all.

We had gongs rung in our ears as we looked down on a passing freight train from a loft on the fringe of downtown Dallas and we chanted in unison with people we’ve never met before. We sat behind students that twisted their legs into pretzels and watched in amazement as others leaped from their feet to perfect handstands. I knew I was in trouble when my size 4 running partners went to a first class without me and said it was fun but a little awkward because they were the big girls in the room.

But the trial class that sticks out most in my mind was Bikram yoga. Bikram is a class comprised of 26 poses that are performed in a 105-degree room during a 90-minute period. At the end of our first class the instructor said something like, “and for everyone that is new it is important to get your first 10 classes in as quickly as possible so you can really see the results. We recommend that you come for 10 days in a row.” Ugh… I knew I was in trouble. My 3 friends and I never pass up a challenge. So there I was- for 10 days in a row, at 5:30 am, sweating my axx-off!

I did not like Bikram…. all I could think about for 90 minutes was how hot I was. The truth was, I did not really like any of the yoga that we tried that year and by the end of 2010 I was back to my old ways of racking up a lot of mileage, without stretching too much at all.

But the whisper of mom’s regret would just not go away and when we moved to Miami at the beginning of this year, I decided it might be time to seek out a yoga class again. I had been giving the local Bikram studio the evil eye every time that I drove by. I was mad at it because (1) it was so close to my house and hard to avoid and (2) it had become the favorite yoga for my running girls in Dallas and I just did not understand why.

Without a better idea, I thought I would give the class a second chance. There must be something to this if the girls like it so much. And much to my surprise, it was not that bad. One thing I had not noticed before is that the poses are not that complicated. There isn’t even a downward dog! I heard my instructor telling a new student- “our poses are designed so that anyone can get into them.”

I’m afraid if I utter the words if there might be some truth to a jinx, but risking my flexibility I will tell you, I think I like Bikram.

Bikram himself would probably tell you that something in my life has happened to help me put my mind over matter, to get through the heat. I am not sure why I am able to focus on something other than the temperature but I do know that this mind over matter skill is improving with each class I take, and that can help me in other areas of my life: running, parenting or even keeping house (which is not my favorite thing to do).

Since I started attending Bikram twice weekly, in early April, I have seen quite a few benefits:

1. I workout soreness from other exercise- if I walk into class with a tight hamstring from a long run, I don’t feel it at all when the class is over.
2. My wrists don’t hurt anymore when I attempt push-ups or a plank hold. I was starting to believe that arthritis was setting in but I do not feel this pain at all any more.
3. I am sleeping better than normal.
4. But most importantly, my fingers are getting closer to my toes. The heat has allowed my muscles to stretch further during class and with each class I seem to bend a little bit more and that feels good.

Bikram said you are “never too bad, never too old, never too sick, never to late, to start from scratch and begin again.” Mom, I think this guy might know what he is talking about! I’ve got a mat and towel ready in the spot next to me waiting for your next visit at the end of this month! Maybe we can work out these kinks together.

I attend Bikram yoga at the studio in Coconut Grove, Florida. Here is their website if you would like to check it out.

Fear Me I’m a Mother

For the second year in a row 11 mothers from Dallas, Texas joined forces and competed in a 203 mile relay from just outside of Austin, to Houston, TX.

I have been running for about 6 years now and I can say without a doubt that this is my favorite race I have ever done!

When I moved to Miami the first of January I had already committed to my team and had this event looming over me at the end of March. There were many times that I wanted to skip a run to organize boxes or not get out because my usual partners weren’t there to meet me. It has been so nice to have a goal to work toward with the extra incentive that others would suffer (someone would have to pick-up my part) if I chose not to compete.

Needless to say I gave a far worse performance than I did the year before… for a number of reasons my training had made a dramatic change which really caused me to slow down.

But you know what, that is OK… I did it! I finished my 17.5 miles worth of legs and when I did, one of my best friends was there for a shoulder to lean on when I wanted to hide my tears of, well, I’m not sure… joy, relief, PAIN. The accomplishment felt good.

And the interesting part… it looks like I didn’t really need to go any faster because our team WON… the all women’s division anyway. An unexpected surprise that showed me that it was so smart not to give up on myself even though my training did not go as well as I thought it should.

Take a peak at the fun we had! You’ll see we ran all 203 miles in a pink tutu. “Tutu up,” someone would yell as team member approached a relay exchange. In the dark, our pink tutus lit up! At the end of the race a competitor from team Sole Sister told me, “at 3 am, when I thought I couldn’t run anymore I just followed that pink tutu. It was all I could see on the pitch black highway but it was just enough to lead me to the end of my leg.

And like my Sole Sister, when a run is tough and I would just rather walk than push through to finish my goal for a day, I look to the tutu too (I couldn’t resist the triple “to”!). I picture Sandy high kicking with that tutu on as she cheers her friends to their finish or visualize Liz pulling herself up the hill even when she was seeing stars because of the extreme heat and it gets me through. Team Fear Me is my inspiration and I am so proud to be a part of this crazy pink group.

Now, I better start getting in shape for next year!

Texas Independence Relay

I love to run!  I love it for so many reasons!  I love that it doesn’t cost anything… I can just put on my shoes and head out the door and start my exercise for the day without having to pay a gym membership.  I love to see myself improve.  When I want to conquer a new race/distance or increase my speed, I follow a training plan that is usually a combination of speed intervals and increased mileage and I see results!  I love my running group!  They motivate me to get out of bed and get my run in early before the rest of my family starts their day AND they provide entertainment!  Before most of the world gets up I’ve gotten my exercise and my girly gab session out of the way!

One thing that running does not generally lend itself to a 36 year old woman, who is too old for the track team, is to be part of a team!  I’ve always thought friends on tennis teams seemed to be having so much fun, but have not found a way (yet) to work this into my family’s hectic schedule.  That is why I was so intrigued when I learned of the ultra-running relays that are becoming so popular!  In Texas the biggest relay is the Texas Independence Relay (the TIR).

This year 150+ teams competed in the TIR, a 203 mile, 40 leg relay ran from Gonzalez to Houston, Texas.     I sponsored and was part of the 11 women (all mothers) relay team, Fear Me: I’m a Mother!   For 30 hours and 1 minute my team carried a baton while running across Texas in a pink tutu- that tutu never stopped!

By day 2, with 2 hours sleep and 3 legs averaging 5.5 miles each, I was so emotional and moved.  I teared-up every time one of my team mates handed off to a fellow pink tutu!  They were so inspiring.  These women pushed themselves to their limits not only better themselves/their own physical fitness, but for our team!

Someone asked me why I chose to sponsor the team.  What does running have to do with jewelry?  After contemplating this over my part of the races, which was 4 legs totaling 20+ miles, I can tell you exactly.  First of all women love to exercise and they love jewelry so there is a very common link.  But even more than that this company that I have become a part of, bamboopink by JudeFrances, is very similar to my TIR team, “Fear Me: I’m a Mother.”

  Within bamboopink I am an individual INDEPENDENT sales consultant.  The results/rewards I will receive from this company will directly relate to the financial and jewelry rewards I get out of the company.   Similar to my running performance… no one can get out there and do my training mileage for me…if I do not get it done, I will not improve!   However, I can lean on my team for support!  If I hit a rough spot with this new business, maybe encounter a new internet marketing tool that I’m not familiar with, I can reach out to the friends I am making along the way and ask for their help as I would hope they would ask for mine!  My running group cannot run my races for me, but they can be there to meet me at 6 in the morning when I don’t feel like getting out of bed, they can inquire about my progress and show up for races to cheer from the sides when they are too injured to run!

I treasure running for both the level of fitness it has brought to my life AND the new relationships my team/group has created.  I am also thankful for bamboopink!  I truly believe my family is going to see great financial reward from the efforts and work I am putting in to this new company. I am also thankful for the team that bamboopink has brought into my life.   I am so excited to work with this new team made up of old and new friends, family and business associates in my life!  As Andrew Carnegie said, “teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  Get ready, the uncommon results that our bamboopink team produces is going to knock your socks off! 

End note: Our Fear Me: I’m a Mother Team finished 6th in the Open Women’s category with a finishing time of 30 hours and 1 minute, and a pace of 8:52.  We ran through over 30 mph wind, uphills, on scary dark roads at midnight with 2 hours of sleep and had a BLAST!  Thank you to my fellow “Mothers” for providing me with a weekend I will never forget and to my husband for coordinating with our  family and friends in Dallas who made sure the little people in our lives had a fun, safe weekend and got to all of the places that they were supposed to be!