Mind Tricks for Marathon Training

Do you even blog if you don’t have a “tips and tricks” title? While something so cliche pains me, I have found that a large part of my training has been tricking myself to rethink and reframe the task at hand.

Here are some tips whether you’re training for a race (of any distance) or if you’re still in the beginning steps of Couch to 5K 😉
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Trust your planning:

As I’ve mentioned before, people love to do math for marathon runners. I’ve often got the response to new mileage accomplishments, “Wow, and you are still going to have X miles after that!”

It’s important to take these comments with grace, and trust that you’re planning has you on the right track. Once I chose a training schedule, I made events on my google calendar for every Saturday leading up to the race with the mileage I’d be running. This allowed me to plan around obstacles, like weddings and work events, months ahead of time rather than making an excuse week of.

I also added month countdowns for every 7th of the month. Having the events “MM 4 MONTHS AWAY!” helped me keep my training top of mind, but also allowed me to relax as I remembered I had months of training to go.

Count up rather than down:

I understand saying I’m going for a 14 mile run doesn’t sound very appealing, I tend to feel the same. Rather than letting this goal daunt me, I set out on my run saying instead, “I’m going to run 7 miles and then I’ll run home.” As I’ve mentioned, being stranded 7 miles away from home makes it very motivating to keep the run going.

As I reach miles throughout, I don’t focus on how many miles I’ve accomplished, not how many miles I have remaining. If I slip up, I come back to the big picture- “I’ve only done four miles, I have 14 left to go! Well…I’m running 18 miles today and I’m done with 4.”

Lastly, in my 20 mile run last week, I split up the mileage in my mind to think, I just need to run 5 miles 4 times. At each 5 mile mark I would stop for a quick stretch (less than a minute) or refill my water. Running 20 miles always sounded daunting to me, and kind of still does, but this trick makes it much more manageable.

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Supplement your running
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A big goal when starting marathon training was to not hate running by the end of it. Just above that goal was my hope to not get injured. I let these two work together by not running more than I absolutely needed to. This meant having a loose interpretation of training schedules, focusing on quality instead of quantity.

Outside of my long runs on Saturdays, I’ve kept my 6 am yoga and yoga sculpt practice in my routine, but have added in 1-2 days of running a week. One of those days is a 5-8 mile run outside, and the other is spent at FlyFeet Running in downtown Minneapolis to combine sprint work and strength training.

To be honest, I haven’t seen any training schedules recommend this (unless we can now count this blog post as an expert opinion). But I’ve felt better after my 18 and 20 mile runs than I did after any of half marathons, so something must be working!

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In my yoga class this morning, I shared the idea of cautious curiosity. We were building on dancer (above) to king dancer pose, and later had more opportunity for backbends of bridge and wheel. “Recognize what your body has already done,” I shared, “This might be the time to explore a bigger expression, because you’ve been building to it. Or this might be the time to back off, because you’ve already asked enough.”

This is what I’ve kept in mind with my training. Yes, I should be able to run X amount of miles on a given day because I’ve been working towards this, but I must remain curious and give my body the chance to weigh in.

On race day, this might be stopping throughout for short breaks or walking. If it does, I’ll be truly present, take in the sights, and say hi to any familiar faces 🙂 If you’d like to be there in spirit, comment below with a message you’d like me to see. I’ll be opening a different message each mile to remember the amazing crew I have with me at all times!

#VoteIrene

I am very rarely at the cusp of trends. I tend to watch from the sidelines to see if a fad is here to stay, and then decide my plan of action.

This is something I miss about living in a sorority house. Information travels fast, and at Alpha Gam specifically, I could get ten different takes on a new place, fashion item, class, or topic just by sitting down for dinner.

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One of my greatest takeaways that I brought into the working world was how to collaborate and delegate. I learned it the hard way, by drowning in silent auction donations as a freshman holding my first leadership position as Philanthropy Coordinator. I silently made note when I noticed the boundless skills of the diverse women around me.

There was too much to be done, and too much that could be done, to do it alone. If I didn’t have an answer, someone did. If I didn’t have a skill, a connection, a resource, a sister did. Slowly, I realized our network was limitless, and that we might all be able to bring that spark to the communities and groups we encounter.

I remember one day, our alumnae Chapter President, Irene Fernando, and Recruitment Advisor, Ashley Harville, came to the chapter house during Monday night dinner. I was struck by their approachability. They showed me how I wanted to be an alumnae to the chapter. To be involved, relatable, and connected.IMG_0030 copy

In 2015, they stood in front of me and one hundred other senior sorority women, at an event Ashley planned and Irene was the keynote speaker.

She shared how the thought of “if someone is going to graduate and transform leadership, why not me?” changed the scope of what she believed was possible.

This question led her to wonder, in a dorm room with friends ten days into college, wouldn’t it be cool if we changed the world and Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF) was born. (Find full speech here)

Last week, they stood in front of me again. This time in Ashley’s backyard, introducing Irene, this time as the DFL endorsed candidate for the Hennepin County Commissioner for District 2.

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#HypeCrew Meet and Greet at Ashley’s cozy NE home

Despite my delayed awareness for trends, once Irene announced her campaign last fall (the first candidate to do so) I knew I needed to be involved somehow.

Now, when I see the Vote Irene lawn signs, I have the reaction of Will Ferrell in Elf finding out Santa is coming- “I know [her]!!!” Working closely with Irene in our community makes me truly certain of her ability to lead, innovate, and transform Hennepin County.

Before this campaign, I didn’t know that the Hennepin County Commissioner was a role. I didn’t know it managed a 2.4 billion dollar budget, which put into perspective is more than the combined income of Beyonce and Jay-Z. I didn’t know how many decisions were being made and dollars allocated that directly impacted my neighborhood and community.

“In the face of outrageous circumstances, we are called to fight for the common good.” Irene Fernando

With this administration and current state of politics, I think everyone is wondering aloud or to themselves, what can I do. Sometimes that question is so overwhelming and the solutions seem so grand, that we do nothing at all.

I was stuck in this place for quite some time. I wanted to learn from all sides of the aisle that I stayed stationary and listened. As someone who rarely stops talking, I had a feeling this wasn’t the worst thing. What I was reminded of in this time, is that we didn’t need to figure this out alone.

For some, the curious question of “Why not me?” will lead to starting an organization or a campaign. For others, it’s recognizing how you can support what already exists.

Ashley and Irene have again paved the way for me, to display how sisterhood evolves. Irene’s #hypecrew is made up of Alpha Gams. And in that crew, there is a role for me, off the sidelines, that answers that scary question of, what can I do?

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Ashley is the queen of hosting
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Can we take a moment…

Today, Hennepin County Distict 2 Minnesotans, that answer is you can take part in a local primary election, and believe in what’s possible by voting for Irene Fernando.

“My future, and our future, is thanks to the told and untold stories of those who came before us. Ordinary people who chose to pave a path when there was none. Everyday people who risked some of themselves for the opportunity, for the responsibility to make a change.”

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Maya’s on the lookout for voters

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Marathon Training- Scrappy Style

I have always been driven by curiosity. And FOMO.

That’s why when the opportunity to join Team Comcast for the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon arose, I knew I needed to be in on it. With five half marathons under my belt, I always had interest in doing a full marathon, but was too intimidated to pull the trigger. Thank god for FOMO.

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Hal Higdon Training Schedule, I mainly pay attention to the distances per week

When I trained for half marathons, I would do a long run each week, adding on a few miles each time. I wouldn’t bring water, mid-run fuel, or listen to music because it was distracting and it had never felt necessary. I figured I would do all the same things for the full distance, but with the guidance of a real training schedule (above) to tell me how to add that mileage on.

I later realized how many times I was telling myself, “this is the way it’s always been done” in reference to something I’ve never done.

If there’s one thing you could gather from this blog or from knowing me, it’s that I’m not great at following directions. They bore me. I’m more attracted to intuition, whether in cooking, marketing, design, or training. However, intuition cannot always replace reason, and that revelation hit hard when I was doing my first run past the half marathon distance.

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This 15 mile run compared to nothing else I had ever done. I needed to stop and stretch every couple of miles and was really only motivated by sticking to my training schedule and the fact that I wasn’t near home.

My legs felt like cinder blocks I was dragging along, but I kept going like this until 15.5 miles and walked the rest of the way home. Feeling lightheaded and pale, I thought about how the cars passing must be thinking about how sad I look. They must be thinking, “Aaaand that’s why I’m not a runner,” rather than “I bet that’s someone who just ran the longest distance in their life!” Based on how painful achieving that goal was, it didn’t feel like much of an accomplishment at all.

After consulting a few marathon-running friends, I realized my body didn’t fail me, I had failed my body.

Turns out, I had completely depleted my electrolytes by running that distance on little-to-no food prior, and only stopping for water once. The lead of my first aid/CPR class said I may have even been in shock.

Thinking about the 11+ miles I still needed to achieve after that run made me wonder if I could actually do this. This glass-half-empty mindset is a slippery slope. That’s the one thing I don’t like about sharing my marathon training with others, they’re always doing math for you. They ask about the longest distance you’ve run, and then calculate how much longer you still have to go. It’s really quite uplifting.

Before giving up on that, I needed to fully embrace that I’m not the expert, and that scrappy plans can only get you so far. Clearly doing it my way wasn’t working, so it was time to pivot instead of quit. What’s the point of being curious anyway if there aren’t any surprises?

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New and improved training best practices for long runs:

  • Hydrating the day before my run
  • Eating breakfast before run (I was leaving so early some mornings I didn’t realize I missed this)
  • Running with water bottle though I may order a belt with additional bottles
  • GU Gels for mid-run refuel: rough schedule so far is taking half of one before run, a full at mile 7, and then each 5 miles
  • Marine Collagen for joint recovery- bovine collagen peptides are more popular, but those aren’t pescetarian.
  • Cold shower afterwards (maybe one day I’ll be brave enough for an ice bath)

Maintaining original plans of:

  • Running Tuesday mornings with my early bird bestie
  • Long runs on weekend mornings, directly after I teach (if I go home I get distracted)
  • Cross training with yoga and sculpt throughout the week at my second home, Corepower Yoga
  • Going to Flyfeet Running around once a week so that someone holds me accountable to do sprints!
  • Not listening to music…we’ll see if I can keep holding out of this as my runs get longer. It’s partially for safety reasons (scary people, cars, bikes) but it also doubles as a moving meditation when I can actually hear myself think

17I can say with great pride that as of this week, this revised plan allowed me to accomplish 17.1 miles without pain or doubt. Of course, it was a challenge, but that’s what I signed up for.

I still took breaks, but they were intentional and purposeful rather than out of desperation. Most importantly, it allowed me to prove to myself that I can keep moving forward regardless of any bumps along the way.

I can say with confidence, but not certainty, that I can finish a marathon. But I don’t need to run a marathon today, or anytime soon, that’s for us to find out on October 7. Don’t worry, I’ll save you the math- that’s two long months away.

Mother’s Day- Inspire the Woman, Impact the World

I love Mother’s Day for reminding myself and others to reflect on the powerful and supportive mothers and mother figures in our lives. For my mom, that was done through bridging our Minneapolis-Milwaukee gap with a phone call this morning, and a card en route (and taking its sweet time if I may say). But this year, that’s not all this holiday means to me.

While my mom will always be the Queen of my Mother’s Day, today, I was also reminded of the powerful and supportive female-driven communities I am a part of and have access to. For me, the last week was like a drum roll to Mother’s Day.

inspireSunday afternoon brought me back to my sorority chapter house for our monthly Executive Council meeting, on which I serve as the Philanthropy Advisor. While the meetings aren’t known for their brevity; for me, the time flies. I become consumed by the energy in the room and the vibrant conversation– the main topics and the side conversations I can’t help but start.

This time, I was most struck by the impact the chapter women have on our community. There are collegiate women serving the country through National Guard, they are in the marching band, orienting new students as welcome week leaders, and running student groups across campus. While it’s no longer our key phrase/slogan, I was reminded of the words, “Inspire the Woman. Impact the World.” I love this phrase, this mission statement for not being an if; then. It’s absolute. It’s not a goal, it’s a reality in this very moment.

The next night, the External Affairs team at Comcast offered me a seat at the Girl Scouts: Women of Distinction dinner and benefit. Once there, my guilt set in as I realized the breadth of this organization; and while I was able to rise under the preset of “once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout,” I knew elementary-Sarah didn’t even skim the surface of the opportunities available.girl scouts

I heard similar values I associate with my sorority being echoed by Girl Scouts ages 16 to 70. GIRL now stands for Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader. I can only imagine how my outlook, experiences, and priorities would have shifted if those were elementary-Sarah’s guiding values. If that was how I described myself, and even more so, if that was how I described the girls around me.

Girl Scout CEO, Sylvia Acevedo, shared her own story of refusing to choose between earning the baking and science badge, and pursued them both. Despite being told by a college counselor, “Girls like you don’t go to college,” she went on to be one of the first Hispanic female rocket scientists.

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Thursday, I was invited to fill in for a coworker at the YWCA luncheon, and didn’t even check my calendar before accepting. By attending, I was able to sit at a table of driven Comcast women and listen to speakers from all different walks of life speak to the impact YWCA has had on them. ywca1.jpg

After Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” perfectly welcomed her to the stage, Kim Nelson, former Vice President at General Mills, shared this powerful sentiment with us,

“My hope for my daughters, for all of you, and for myself is that each of us wake up everyday and live as women of power. Confident, courageous, and intent on empowering ourselves and others to change the world for better.”

medal1.jpgThe week ended with two sponsored events of Jessie Diggins, the Team USA Gold Medalist Cross Country Skiier. Even though I was taking my self-proclaimed job of photographer and videographer very seriously, I couldn’t help being in awe of the number of girls cross country ski teams that came in, together, to meet their idol and inspiration.

They were poised, and prepared with great questions of how Jessie reaches new goals. They sought advice and soaked in every word she gave them. These girls struck me as the type to describe themselves and each others as go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders.

I saw first hand, they’ve been inspired. They will impact the world.

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The Best “Say Yes to the Dress” Signs

Two years ago today, I wore the proudest title of “Maid of Honor,” as I entered Posh Boutique in Minneapolis to help my best friend say “yes” to her perfect dress.

About two days before the trip, inspiration struck, and I decided this event needed a little extra spice.

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I designed these signs to be a constructive way for everyone in the group to give feedback, without any negativity, such as a low score on a 1-10 scale.
I made the template for the signs, just by googling and inserting the various emojis. Once printed, I pasted them onto half sheets of scrapbook paper that corresponded with the sign. Everyone attending should have all 4 signs.
Here’s how I explained the scale:

Doesn’t do you justice: This might be a boring dress, or not playing up their best features. The sleep emoji says it all

How Pretty!: This is a pretty dress, but it’s not necessarily what the sign holder sees having the wedding day “wow.” It’s like when all you have to say about someone is that they’re “nice”
Gisele, is that you?: This is a fun sign to tell the bride they are bringing it in this dress. It might be flattering, sexy, beautiful, or they may be carrying themselves extra confidently in this dress.
Absolutely stunning!: The bride emoji says it all- this sign shows the bride you can see her walking down the aisle in this dress.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. I consider myself a Maid of Honor for life, so I can’t wait to live vicariously through all of you who try this!
Happy shopping 🙂

Scrappy Banana bread

If you’ve ever wondered why this blog is called S is for Scrappy, I’d love to help you out. Well, S is first and foremost for Sarah. But my scrappiness is something very inherent to everything I do.

Some would make a nice banana bread as a kind gift, maybe when hosting others, or as fuel for a blog post they’ve had planned out.IMG_5405

Scrappy is whipping up banana bread because your boyfriend brought it to your attention that if you lose the cap for the maple syrup, you can’t just put it back in the fridge capless, like an animal.

This bread and post was also inspired by 3 VERY ripe bananas patiently waiting to be used. Even though I negotiated with myself that if I bought bananas they couldn’t go brown and be banished to the freezer with a rebrand of “smoothie bananas.” Scrappy.

So, I thought to myself, what can I make that uses bananas and maple syrup that won’t be sugar central. The healthy banana bread searches began.

Seeing as I am no Betty Crocker, I looked to Cookie and Kate to make sure the end result would be in a bread formation of some kind. With some changes, here’s what I was working with:

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup (honey can be used)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas mashed, I left mine kind of chunky for a different taste/texture
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon maca powder (optional)
  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • ¼ cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla, but milk of any kind will do)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans- option for any other mix in

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat oil and syrup together. Add eggs and beat well.
  3. Stir in bananas and milk. Then stir in the baking soda, vanilla, salt, maca, and cinnamon.
  4. Switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. If you’re adding pecans or any mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
  5. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern for a fun marble effect.
  6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. If you check with a knife, it should come out clean, but my chunky banana approach made that a bit tentative. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for  at least 5 minutes.

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While I am not committing to Whole 30 or any specific challenges this January, I am striving to be very conscious of my sugar intake. It’s amazing what a downward spiral having any traditional desserts (even in moderation) can be for me in sugar cravings.

With the sweetness of the bananas and pure maple syrup, I’m really not sure why anyone bakes with normal sugar. This was so satisfying in every way! I loved the maple flavor and bites of banana chunks, but that approach did make it more crumbly if that’s a concern of yours.

Moral of the store, if I can bake this, so can you. Looking forward to having this as a guilt-free snack, dessert, or something to bring to the yoga studio for when I am teaching multiple classes and need some sustenance.

Enjoy!

The First Headline About Festive Fleet

When deciding to leave a then-11-person organization for a Fortune 50 Company, I was most excited to see what an organization of that caliber could accomplish. What impact they could have on the communities they’re in.

I’ve been lucky to dive into that first hand, in my first quarter with Comcast, by being the Twin Cities Region lead for Festive Fleet. While I’m a woman of words, I’d rather show you just what Festive Fleet is:

Festive Fleet has given me the opportunity to empower a team of technicians and support staff to embrace the impact they’re capable of. We leverage the relationships they are building in homes every day, and asked them to nominate deserving customers for a special gift.

These are customers who are financially struggling, suffering from a loss in the family, encountering a difficult time, creating a pleasant experience for technicians in their home, or unfortunately having an unpleasant experience with Comcast.

Customers aren’t asking for these gifts, or reaching out to us with these stories. These stories are discovered by the Technician’s time in the home, and their ability to be there as a person, for a person, rather than completing a job for a customer and leaving.

I could talk for hours about the stories I read while choosing the 35 customers from the Twin Cities area to receive gifts. 

The only issue is, no one knows we do this.

While I was interviewing for Comcast, I didn’t think of Festive Fleet. I thought of many of the headlines that are probably racing through your mind now.

I decided to set up Google Alerts for Comcast so I could learn the company, but also keep tabs on the outside impression. I still read it everyday; it’s not always the most uplifting email, especially recently.

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But when I was about a week into my new role at Comcast, it was a different headline that made me pause. One from the Region VP down the hall, who I now often talk to while making coffee.

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Also new to his role in the Twin Cities Region, I was excited to see we were the first to admit where we have gone wrong, and also the first to bet on this team.

I have no desire to have my point of view outweigh these other headlines, rather I hope to capture the side of Comcast that no one hears about- the family that always puts the customer first.

Like peeling layers of an onion, I keep discovering new programs available to employees and customers, and new coworkers to connect with.

I was inspired by Internet Essentials, which offers low-cost Internet service, discounted computer equipment, and free digital literacy training to families with children in the National School Lunch Program. This was then expanded to eligible seniors and community college students in limited markets.

It’s solutions like these that motivate me to find creative solutions, because this fast-paced industry doesn’t allow time to say the words, “This is the way it’s always been done.”

Still, Comcast isn’t perfect. It’s a work in progress, an organization embracing new practices and priorities, and ensuring that cascades down to every single individual. And outside of an 11-person organization, there will be customer experiences and decisions that are out of my control. That’s difficult for a scrappy mind to accept.

So instead of being on the sidelines, I’ve used my scrappiness to make the Twin Cities Region close-knit and I’ve seen how this 159,000 person organization can still build partnerships across departments and regions. I’ve learned from collaborative leaders who are focused on a bigger picture that’s rooted in customer experience.

I’ve shared my experiences with others, and no longer hesitate when saying, “I’m a Marketing Specialist at Comcast” as I did my first week. Whatever reaction that brings, it’s just another opportunity to share why I am so proud to say #IAmComcast.