Monday, December 10, 2012

Pushing the Edge with Relentless Faith

This is the 6 word phrase I submitted to the Another Mother Runner blog to describe my running. It came to me easily. I think it's pretty obvious where my head is at.

I just completed week two of my Ultra induction to change the way I train to be supercharged for my first 50mile Ultra—and maybe my last if I don't pull this all together, stay uninjured and become much stronger. There is no way I am going to do this without a significant plan of attack that continuously evolves to more. I have been looking to other Ultra runners for advice in the last couple months and gearing up to stoke the fires. Logging miles, just isn't enough. And so it has begun…

I will be sore many days this year and pounding CherryFlex. I am starting with building core strength while continuing my runs and adding some hill climbing/walking at the end of a treadmill run. Jillian Michaels is killing me. Although, she says I will look "ridiculous"at the end of her "6 Week Six-Pack" workout. I already feel ridiculous compared to the ladies on the video.

My planking shows poor strength and my burpies, well, they are not up to snuff yet and I feel like a floppy fish. I am improving after this two week period however. I am also throwing in a Zumba class once a week, just for some variety and to burn some fat. I have not taken a Zumba class in four-plus years. It was a totally different experience as an already athletic person. Love, love, loved it! Plus, this instructor seems to move quickly and combine a lot of modern dance with classic moves with pop music. I think I did pretty well considering I ran 6 miles two hours before. That's the way it has to be. Ridiculous indeed.

This is what my last two weeks went like this:

Monday: 6-week Abs ~ Jillian Michaels
Tuesday: 6 miles + Zumba
Wednesday: 6-week Abs ~ Jillian Michaels + 6 miles
Thursday: 6 miles (I was pretty tired by this day)
Friday: 6-week Abs ~ Jillian Michaels
Saturday: Long Run 11 miles
Sunday: 6 miles

I finished these two weeks with a winter run entailing whipping ice and snow, low visibility, and a cloudy haze across the sky, which made my winter wonderland gym a little more difficult, dark, cold and painful. A local man passing by in an old pick-up cranked his window down and yelled "You're Crazy!" along with some other comments that I couldn't catch as he was pelted by the icy snow. I laughed. If you only knew…here we GROW!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Soaked

My husband wanted to try a pair of Hoka One One Bondi B shoes since I so love them and he suffers from knee pain when running. Being a savvy online shopper—and that I can't buy them locally—I found a pair for $79.90 which is about half of what I payed for mine! The site looked legit with hundreds of shoes and I order an additional pair for myself. Who could beat that deal? I did think it was strange that I did not get a confirmation email about the exact order. Only one email came from PayPal with the transaction. After waiting a couple weeks with no delivery or follow-up, I became concerned and emailed the supplier three times and had no reply. I then filed a complaint with PayPal.

They went to the seller and came back with a postal shipping code, so I was hopeful that the shoes were on the way. Yesterday, a package with the code from CHINA arrived. An envelope about 5x6 inches—definitely not shoes. And in it... a sponge! My heart sank with the irony that I just got soaked. A 22 cent sponge as noted worth on the package for MY $159.80.

That's right! This is my Hoka One One steal. I get to pay $159.80 for a sponge.
Can you hear this person's laughter in China?  
Close-up of envelope: The US Value in this envelope is 22 cents.

Of course, I have notified PayPal of the fraud and am waiting for resolution.

As disturbed and angered as I am about this, I came to one mindful resolution. I can not control the dishonesty of others. I cannot let the awful actions of others control my mindset, and I hope when the new pair of Hoka One Ones come for my husband (that I ordered last night from UT), that I don't look at them with disdain and resentment. I hope I can laugh about this one day at least 15980 times.

I could have called the post, Hoka Hoax, but that just isn't fair to my Hokas.

Off to find my Focused Drive and think of those worthy of my thoughts.


I have playing this game for 2 1/2 months with PayPal and following their instructions:
• sending the sponge back to China thru registered mail for an additional $17.87,
• specialty packing of the package for customs—what a pain,
• waiting, waiting waiting, and watching it sit online in China since November 17!

I received a message two days ago saying that they would NOT refund my money because this seller was not proven to have received the package. And further more, I had 72 hours to give proof.. what!!!!

I felt a stabbing in my chest again and betrayed once more by a company seeming to protect a criminal. I sent images of the packing slips, tracking, and of the sponge to PayPal with no reply. I sent an email back asking for investigation of this criminal act. No reply.

This seller removed their website, sent me a sponge and was now not excepting the package to keep the money … or … maybe they left town for fraudulent acts. The flames where coming from my ears by now. I know this whole thing is trivial compared to worldly issues or serious matters of life and death. But this seller stole from me and just taking it is not acceptable.

I knew I needed to get a hold of a real person (which PayPal makes really hard), and to keep control without blowing I ran 6 miles first (after doing the Jillian Michaels 6-pack workout). How's that for therapy? Seriously, I didn't want to lose my temper. I just needed to be heard. I really didn't want to workout AT-ALL and was miserable through most of it. I was that upset. But I came across a thought on that run. To live with relentless faith in all parts of my life means having faith that even when things go wrong and look bad on the outside—things I can not control—that it is going to be okay. The mission in this, is faith in what ever the outcome.

After a long wait on the phone and punching codes, I finally talked to someone with a calm voice, and was promised my money back through PayPal! This person even said she would process the return postage for the sponge to China, which they normally don't cover. What a turn of events.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

GR Marathon PR 4:33

Caught My Breath!

I feel nothing short of amazement as I reflect on how this run went and all the things that went right. 
All the little exercises, foam rolling and taping payed-off!
The time letting go of speed work and focussing on mileage, padding time between long runs, and guarding my taper…worked.
The strength I found in the Train Like a Mother "Own It Plan" two months ago lingered enough for a 6 minute PR.
The temps were in the low 50s with sunshine and fall leaves—it doesn't get any better!
No restroom stops. I repeat: No restroom stops!
I pulled the strength out of me, all alone on a course that I ran last year at 4:56 and vowed to beat down the mistakes I had made before.

Race Report:
I wished my friend a good run on her first half marathon, which she was running in remembrance of her father. She barely trained but needed some positive energy in her life. What ever her journey was going to be, I wanted her to succeed and find perspective. She had been wanting to do this for a year and today was the day.

I prayed like I usually do at the starting line for a good run, what ever that may be and help us find the strength to pull this off. One thing I thought about and repeated on the drive the day before was "If you don't believe, then you have already failed. Then why bother? You must believe. You must believe." Envisioning that finish line is powerful.

I placed the mantras in front of my mind so I could recall them thru the run:
Don't You Surrender

I hung tight to the Oprah Pace Team and felt a little stressed that I was running faster than I had trained and the fact that I had lost speed work from injury. Shutting that out of my mind, I tried to focus on relaxing, comfort and breathing easily like I did in the Spring when Evie and I ran the Bayshore Marathon and had a 17 minute PR. This is what a race day PR is all about. It is finding comfort in the uncomfortable. I was right with the pace team thru mile 15 where they got a little lead on me as they jolted off at under 10mm! We were behind and this was them catching up!

I shifted my mind on keeping them close and getting to the 20 mile marker—just 5 more to 20, get to 20. I gave myself rewards throughout the entire course—at each 5 mile marker with GU and the PicklePop at mile 13 and 23. I also snagged the pickle juice they offered twice—YES! I was a little ahead of pace by mile 20, but had no idea. I was living on sparks of kiddy hand slaps by now. (Okay, should have started that earlier.)

I was not in pain at all and that is amazing all by its self. High five to God and my running guardian angel. The PF and ITBS issues I had feared were silent for the most part—only a whisper of a lower leg ache. I felt fatigued by mile 22 and finally lost the Oprah Pace Team in my sight. That was where I slowed a bit, but never walking. This is where "Don't You Surrender" plays well. I kept pace with some other 4:29 goal runners that had fallen back around me, and nobody was truly surrendering today. We had passed many after mile18 that had run out too fast and were out of gas and hurting.

I don't think I have ever been so happy to cross that line! I shook Don Kern's (GR Race Director) hand, hugged him and thanked him by name after I crossed. He is there to do just that, right at the finish line! GR Marathon is a detailed planned course and event, as well as being a Boston Qualifyer course (not that I will ever do that!). It is a smooth run through downtown Grand Rapids, MI, out to a wide paved trail in the woods, by a lake and over bridges in fall color galore. Lots of parking, food and great volunteers. I love this race!

This year My Team Triumph had 11 teams assisting those who otherwise could not race cross the finish line. It is a beautiful thing to see these angels pushing their captains. These angels are amazing and the sight of them moves me.

Thank you Oprah Pacers! Although I didn't beat Oprah's 4:29, I did pull out a 4:33 which is a 6 minute PR for me and had an amazing experience of inner faith.

Before Race: Me and my friend Rachelle, who ran her first Half Marathon in memory of her father.
Note: All my GU is safety-pinned on for easy tear and consuming without throwing tabs all over mother nature. The PicklePops are looped in my SpiBelt. I cannot pin those without leaking:)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Run or Die!

Channeling Oprah!
That's right! It is mental armor time and let's get this mission nailed down. The Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon has celebrity pace groups and it has been a goal all summer to finish in the "Team Oprah" pace group—4:29:20 finish time / 10:16 pace. That will be 10 minutes off my last PR in the Spring. Training for this goal has not gone as planned with PF and ITBS issues having me ditch my "Own It" plan from Train Like A Mother, and just getting the miles in without the tough runs for speed in the last month. A real shame as I was really feeling a surge on the plan and believing that more growth was possible. P. Diddy will be a far distant bouncing sign in this marathon. I will be picking back up the "Own It" plan after recovering in the next couple months and rebuilding some weaknesses—like fudge, cookies and cakes oh my!

I am still on the fence, but I have a hard time backing off of goals. So I may play it by ear and hang with "Team Oprah" for as long as I can without causing injury or making myself completely miserable. Yeah right…I am going to make myself miserable because that's how I roll and this is a marathon people.

Beyond the access to personal trainers and professional insight, Oprah has brass knuckles to fight the demons of self doubt and excel. I better get mine if I want to hang. I found the perfect shirt for such a mission. Run or Die! by, which actually means something true to my heart. When I run, I am truly living and taking my journey. My life is measured between the moments I am engaged with my husband, children and close friends, and those moments when I am free and on the run—sometimes both worlds come together. My heart races equally from the run and from seeing my son kick his first goal ever—which was last week! This is living. The way I see it, Live or Die—or Run and Die, I am just not choosing to die.

Find your Focused Drive and stay in the journey.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hoka Hope!

Hoka One One, but I will just
keep calling them Hoka Hope.
It's amazing to me how I can go from feeling stronger than ever as a runner just a few weeks ago, to feeling weak and undertrained as a result of three weekends of long runs with some excruciating knee pain and stiffness (ITBS! iliotibal band friction syndrome). Not to mention the PF issues—yow! Just last weekend I was in agony at mile 10, and not wanting to let my run buddy down or cave on the 17 miler, I pushed thru. I found myself with one focus: to run thru this pain for 7 miles and get to the other side. I found pride in my moments on the other side, but every downhill turned up the volume again. One thing is for sure, I can not quit or sit idle with no resolution. I know, I know, running thru the pain is completely stupid. So time to resolve it and keep going.

Today I am excited to report a ray of hope. Besides all the feet, ankle and knee exercises I am doing daily—and the foam roller treatments I am screaming thru—I stumbled upon a fantastic running shoe called Hoka One One pronounced Hoka O-nay O-nay. I think the name is better described as Hoka Hope because that is just what they are giving me. Thank you to my running guardian angel. I know it's a little much, but I am grateful. Plus, if Marshall Ulrich can recommend these, then let me learn from one of the greats.

This amazing shoe is the opposite of minimalist in my opinion. It may be all the rage to run in less support, but right now, I need more. Less is sometimes, just LESS. Sure they are big and people compare them to clown shoes, but if they came in red, I'd buy them and strut like the happiest clown in town! After testing them all week, I ran 15 miles today—pain free/swelling free and felt like I could keep going.They really do deplete the impact, strain, and muscle fatigue. These shoes have a larger than normal wide-based bottom so rocking isn't an issue, plenty of toe room, and are made with a lightweight thick foam for cushion to keep them lighter in weight than most running shoes. Bottom line: they absorb shock without the weight. That is exactly what I need right now since the downhill is kill'n me. The foot actually sits a little lower in the shoe and not on top of the foam stack for stability and I am using a SuperFeet insole for more stability since I pronate. I have yet to try these on trail, but when I switched back to my favorite Sauconys they felt like I was wearing cardboard. I could feel every kernel under my feet.
What these might look like in RED.

The shoe company claims these wear longer around 500 miles, so the price should be worth it—time will tell.

I am sure I will keep experimenting with what will give me the best run in these, but I finally feel like my last two races in October are doable and that I can continue to rebuild and strengthen my weaknesses.

Weekend Update: Holy Hoka! 

Since writing this post a week ago, I ran a 21 miler in them today. I felt a little tension in my lower leg by the end, but no horrifying or debilitating pain or stiffness like I was experiencing before. This challenging run was made more difficult by going it alone, and it has been the longest distance since the flare up during the North Country Run 4 weeks ago and the two painful long runs that followed. 

A couple great things occurred today. Besides meeting this abandoned sun bleached flamingo on the side of a county road, I ran a negative split for the first time in a long run of 20 miles! I wasn't even trying. I have to consider that it may have had something to do with the first 10 miles of listening and kicking back to the Another Mother Runner Podcasts and music on the second 10 miles.

Then at mile 20, where I had already given myself permission to walk the last mile or part of it, I just kept going. At the risk of sounding like a freak, I am just going to be honest and say I past the cemetery as I hit 20 miles and saw the 1 mile stretch home. Every hair on my neck stood up and I had a tingling from my neck down through my spine. It's a beautiful moment when victory is right in front of you and you can take that last one as a glory mile. Who knows what other presence was right there tapping in? I NEEDED that last mile for mental armor and to give thanks.

Grateful that I found my Focused Drive.

Race Update! 

I ran the GR Metro marathon in these Hoka Bondi Bs. Although I read not to expect to PR in these shoes in a road race, I managed to run a PR just fine. I am no speed queen, but having legs that take a little less pounding worked in my favor. I ran without any ITBS issues. I credit both these shoes and the Train Like a Mother Own it Plan (which I just ran the miles in the last month and a half due to ITBS) to the PR. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The PF Word!

Dear Plantar Fasciitis, 
I don't think this is going to work out. In fact I need to kick you to the curb. We have two very different value systems and although we both love my feet, you prefer that I sit around and do nothing while I would like to get out and get on with the run. I think I have someone just for you. Another achy and nagging companion—weak ankle and swollen knee—that is an equal match in flare-up and pain to your's. You will love each other! SCAT!

In the past two weeks I have worked my way through some depression about taking a few days off and what ifs regarding long term injury. I have been reading everything I can find on recovery and trying what ever I have to to get me thru a half in October and my Full the following week. Beating Oprah, may not be reachable this year. But I want to get to the starting line feeling good and finish pain free as I can. Then the training session for next year's 50m will be the main goal.

These couple of injuries have helped me stay focused in the current goals, and may even help be a stronger runner overall.

So far this is what I am doing for Plantar Fasciitis:
1) Strassburg Sock worn nightly (I am still getting use to this)
2) Multiple stretching and working the Plantar Facia throughout the day (used online video demos)
3) KT taping for condition
4) Feetures sleeve sock (worn daily)
5) Shoe heel gels in all day shoes and running shoes
6) SuperFeet insert for running shoes
7) No barefooting!
The balls of Toe Olympics:
Grab balls with toes and move from one place to another.
8) Starting each morning with writing the alphabet in the air with injured foot before stepping out of bed
9) Toe Olympics! Moving the kids' super balls with my feet from one place to another and then back again.
10) Took a few days off and no speed work:(
11) Icing

Weak ankle causing a swollen knee on long runs
1) Building ankle strength: balancing on one leg and holding 30 seconds at a time
2) One leg half squats moving the opposite leg front, back and side (10 reps each)
3) Stretching leg and IT
4) Foam Rolling IT (this one hurts a lot and I even bruised myself! But feel a release after.)
5) Back to wearing an IT/knee band on runs

Overall, I think I am seeing improvements and I have to add in more rest time after long runs. I could just keep running if it wasn't for these disappointing injuries. My knee seized up in last weeks 16 miler, but felt better after resting just 5 minutes. Ridiculous!

Here we go. More yoga and strength training for the next year. GO!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hills for Breakfast, Lunch and Next Year DINNER…

Who Needs New Year's Eve for a Goal?
I am going after my first 50 mile Ultra! That's right, the "U" word has been said out loud and I already pre-registered for 2013. I have one year to fill my head and prepare my body for not just any Ultra, but a monster of a hilly forest—eating hills and then some more please—at the North Country Run (NCR) in the Manistee National Forest. Thankfully, my running buddy Evie is going for it too and NCR has a mentor program I am going to take advantage of.

Crista's reenactment of the
pain and her wounds.
I ran the half marathon just last weekend, and I really enjoyed the trails and even the continuous hills (seriously, they never end!). There was enough to look at to keep me occupied while I constantly had to watch my footing. I started to look forward to the next hill just to recover on the fast walk up. This was such a challenging course that it tool me 43 minutes longer than my PR on a flat road race and the 85-90 degrees didn't help. I found myself dehydrated and had poorly decided to only carry half my water pack. The trails are thin and provide ample tripping obstacles of stones, roots, sand and plant life. Many people fell and our girl Crista had the battle wounds to show for it. Props to Crista for getting up and pushing on.

And yes, this is what I think is fun. This is how I will celebrate turning 40. I was even more happy to see that although this run took the wind out of my sail—and I sweated enough to look like a greased up pig while some people looked like they had just showed in their own sweat—I place 9th out of 33 in my age bracket of 35-39 aged women and 1st for women of age 39. So next year it will be ON to see if I can finish this within the 14 hour cut off. It is going to be quite the year. I am collecting the wisdom of past runners of this course to help me succeed...that's what I do.

Next up…Plantar Fasciitis, please let it not be so.

Above Photo: Me with my NCR Medal. The NCR has the largest Half and Ultra awarded medal and the 3rd largest Marathon awarded medal in the nation. All three are the same USA handmade medal with the ribbons differentiating them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Body Says "Quit" And The Mind Says "NEVER"

2 Marathons + 1 Half within 30 Days = A Dragging Charlevoix Finish
I will never run that combination in 30 days again, unless I have lost my mind. In which case please remind me of Charlevoix 2012. Remind me that although I was heading into a PR at the half way mark that my quads were crying at mile 10 which never happens and the pain just grew. Remind me that I tried to get the next point in my head, but the moment without pain, never came. And by the last 4 miles I could not bend my left knee and was shuffling in with every step feeling like I was caring 300 pounds on my legs resembled a feeling of thunder striking. Remind me that the only reason I crossed and made it was because I repeat these words:"The Body says "quit" and the Mind says "NEVER."

Remind me that if I am going to overtrain, to bring a friend and stop at each aid station to enjoy licorice, pretzels, ice cold drinks and what ever else they may have.

Some of the highlights on the course came from this being an unexpected tough run.
 I made a lot of people feel good as they passed me after mile 20. That's right. You beat me.
I got a fist pound by one male runner as he passed at mile 24.
I talked to a mature runner afterwards who finally hit her PR and had passed me at mile 23. She asked me how my ankle was after the race. Yes, she could tell I was that pathetic as she passed me. How sweet of her to ask about my gimpy leg.
 I met a guy at mile 11 who was on his 100th marathon run since 2006. He had just ran a 100 mile ultra the weekend before. Seriously! I was missing my run buddy with this conversation.

This was my full circle race. This was my first Marathon a year ago and marked 4 in one year. Although I did not run well, I still beat last year's time and with two rest stops. That is the way life goes. No pun intended.

Traveling and hanging out with a couple running friends is something I look forward to. This trip involves going to the Taffy Barrel, and then to Cherry Republic to start the appetizers—I mean samples. After our purchases there and some shopping, we ventured to dinner with our tour guide Mike. Mike allowed us to pose with is Jeep and take lots of photos of us. He also ran the Half Marathon with a PR and showed up at the finish line with chocolate milk! Being Crista's boyfriend, that really makes him her milk man. But we really appreciated the kindness.

Becky arranged for a great hotel location call Pointes North Inn, and they were very accommodating with providing bagels the night before and a late check-out. Our back door was literally outside the finish line and maybe 50 yards to the start. The only odd thing was the pull-out sofa sleeper (my bed). It had a mattress made of springs and lacked the padding. WHO would be able to sleep on that?? I stacked the cushions on top of the bed and made my own ridiculous princess bed. Yes! I am a problem solver. They should have a diagram of this procedure next to each pull-out sofa.

'Till next year Charlevoix....keep the awesome aid stations, shirts, friendly people and righteous medals coming.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Getting My Freak On at the Finish Line

Glen Arbor, MI 
Solstice Half Marathon

Me, dancing and ululating at the finish line while running? Well… you bet!

I am thrilled that the ladies and tribe from Another Mother Runner and writers of Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother thought the photos of me at the finish line were just as hilarious as I thought they were. They made them their cover photo on their Facebook page this week.

With a Marathon the following weekend and a ferocious hill at mile 8, the realistic mission on this race was to keep it smooth and not set a PR. My running buddy was there with me the entire time and this was another awesome experience. We ran steady at marathon pace and passed the only 6 runners we saw going up Inspiration Point—because we never stopped running and everyone else had to walk at some point. I was barking "hills for breakfast" 3/4 of the way up. Evie said she need that right then. And thank you to the man who was saying "good job" as we passed him. As bad as the hill was, I needed it. I needed to find faith after last week's rough 15. I could feel the disappointment I would have had if I did not push thru this mental and physical barrier. Yes, I was inspired. 

After getting over the top I was firing my fists in the air and then it was a swift recovery DOWNHILL run. Translation: ululation time. yei yei yei yei yei yei yei

And oh yeah, this was a race were told to be quiet during since it might disturb the community. So I had to find the right surroundings to disturb. No houses at this point. And the hand slapping did start from here on out. I was zig zagging just a little to get some energy from volunteers. I admit it, I NEED them.

The last 3 miles were flat and entailed a beautiful view crossing between two crystal blue lakes.  We passed around another 6 runners who were just having a hard time. Every time I see this, I remember my own past rough moments, been there. Closing in on the finish line I saw my other two run buddies who were done and waving—so this is what happens: dancing, running and ululating all at once. Celebrate and live it up.

Thanks for taking my photo Fly Chics.

Now to find my Focused Drive for tomorrow's marathon.

FLY RUNNING CHICS: Becky, Jill, Crista and Evie

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Soul Sister

Georgia, I'm with You.

Yesterday I was sleeping in to fight a cold coming on and the kids were behaving in front of the TV (home a week from school) when the phone rang at 8am from Georgia. It was my soul sister on the other line calling to tell me that her husband has cancer and that it is an aggressive kind. This day took on a whole new up-side-down twist. I had encouraged these two to date 14 years ago and they quickly became an item and were married within a year. I have loved that this man makes laughter in my friend's life.

It was actually an accident that they found the cancer, but found at his wife's insistence that his stomach pains were not just an upset stomach or something to be taken lightly. By demanding action and going through a few doctors an ultrasound showed much more. It's completely OUTRAGEOUS and unexceptable if you ask me—to have to fight for proper health care and attention where serious pain is involved. It's the same thing I tell my kids. "If there is a problem, tell somebody. If they are not listening or doing anything, tell somebody else until somebody does something." I just didn't realize that this applies to going to the doctor as well.

I spent the entire day in an awkward sadness, wondering what I could do. I felt useless—thinking of how terrifying this is for them and their family to not have answers and to deal with this potential loss. I needed that 5 miler like nobody's business. When I finally got it in later that evening, I was tired, worn, feeling bla, depressed and my right hip had been aching for a week, but I ran it. I ran it like the pain could just take the edge off of their pain. I wished it would work that way—that I could endure the 26.2 as a trade. I ran with my legs of lead since this is nothing compared to what they are going thru and what distance is ahead for them. I ran choking back tears just trying to breath. I ran praying for 5 miles and giving thanks for each breath and the lives I have met and love. By the time I returned, a little of my edge was scrapped off on the road and the tears could be mistaken for glistening sweat. I had a good limp, but I still felt useless for Georgia.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Keeping it Honest for a 17-Minute PR

4:39 BayShore Marathon 
I may never have another PR with this much time—17 minutes! I can hardly believe it. I am pleased, but the actual experience was the smartest and most enjoyable race I have ran to date. So all this gabbing and running in training really did pay off in a big way.

Our goal was to run 10:30 splits and we were close with 10:25 during the first half and 10:40 during the second half. And, this was included one restroom stop!

Running Smart:
There were a few things I consciously did to power thru this:

1) I fueled correctly starting two days before. I made a big deal out it and gave no excuses not to have food that could become glycogen for my muscles.That means, the whit stuff that we are told is so bad; white rice, bread, flour tortillas with hummus, pasta and more white rice. I also met a friend for dinner the night before who was running her first 10k—it has to be fun too! Unfortunately, I did have a dream that I gained 50lbs and couldn't run in the morning. Good thing that doesn't happen overnight.

2) Pro KT Tape. I have a strained Achilles tendon and this it a must to keep it feeling good and give it a little extra support. The Pro version of the tape does stick better. It comes in a plastic case to store it. KT's site is loaded with videos demonstrating how to apply the tape for your particular strain.

3) I ran with one head phone on and the other off so I could hear my run partner and interact with spectators and other runners. I felt the cheerleader in me from the late 80's surface and I loved ever howl of it. I even thought of my old coach—CheerLEAD. I believe that these bursts of excitement, thanking volunteers, telling runners "Sweet Skirt!", and slapping high-fives to every stranger that looked like they were energized and ready for it, actually springs more bounce to my step. However, the talking was consciously kept in check. I am not making that mistake again. We mostly checked our Garmins to say, "we're doing great, I love this course, I am feeling good, or there's the photographer!"

4) I have found my new favorite thing to energize with at mile 20… Pickle Pops. It is a packet of crushed pickles in pickle juice with 250mg of precious sodium. It is an instant kick in the can.That is twice that of GU Roctane and about 4x that of regular GU. I first tried pickle juice at the Grand Rapids, Michigan Marathon and it gave me an awakening boost. My run partner tried the Pickle Pops at mile 23 and she was amazed. She said it saved her. Pickle Pops will now be part of my training and big race days. I will have 2 of them in my next Marathon.

5) My mindset or "mission" was really on keeping as close to goal as possible and enjoying the circumstances of this race. I wanted to have a smile on my face and to have the new experience of running with someone without completely turning inward. There are plenty of future adventures that I can rely on just me. But this moment I wanted to LIVE the experience of a little teamwork, and fun and it payed off.

6) I had 4 GUs. That is a first for me. I seem to loose my mind and stop taking them—not this time.

7) I pulled out a mantra: Don't…You…Surrender! When my body was spent I told myself to relax and slow the breathing and repeated Don't…You…Surrender! Every race is hard, and if it is not for you, maybe you need to go faster or move on to a longer distance. Unless I am running with a five year-old, I am on "E" for Empty at the end of every race no matter the distance.

8) Time to recover with CherryFlex. I have been taking this real food product for a couple years after runs of 8 or more miles. I would take it more if I was a beginner. It is particularly important for me after a race or when I have a strain. I take more of it then (4 pouches or 2 teaspoons of the tub) usually within 30-minutes after going long. Tart cherries reduce muscle and joint inflammation and have strong antioxidant properties. This product tastes like concentrated whole tart cherries and that is what it is. I believe it helped me recover quicker to run my first Half Marathon after a hamstring-pull that I could not run on the week before in 2011. I was sore the day after the BayShore Marathon going down stairs, but I was still able to be active. My in-laws didn't even notice I was sore or stiff. I could actually run 3 days later, but due to my rules of recovery I am waiting a week no matter how good I feel, and depending on this CherryFlex to help the swelling in my Achilles tendon so I can recover faster and better.

Other Racing Highlights
Pre-Race Greetings: I love seeing my race friends before the race to wish each other a good run and get a photo. I know just where to find them—Porta-Potties. We all had a PR this day, except for Becky on the far left. She is always kick'n our tails anyways and the first to cross the finish line. Evie Ultra and I snapped a fun pre-race photo with the 6mm line-up sign. Sorry I am laughing like a hyena. I will never hit this pace, let alone hold it.

Family: One of the highlights was seeing my two children and husband as I was approaching the track finish. I lost 16 seconds hugging them. But it was worth it and I would do it again. I want to mark their memories as they have marked mine and when 98% of this is about me, it is important to give it up a little. It is not like I was heading to Boston Qualify. I knew I was heading in for a PR and it is their time too.

Massage: Another factor that made this a great experience, included a trip to the Excelerate VIP tent where I received a leg massage and my swollen Achilles tendon got some attention. It was the best massage I have ever had. There has to be something different about a sports massage technique. I am thinking that the foam roller needs to come on these trips so I can drive after. I am not kidding in the least bit. Rolling out those super tight muscles is painful but relieves tension.

Food: The BayShore Marathon has homemade cookies at the end and chocolate milk! I will pass on the Doritos, and premium ice cream (sorry, I can't stomach that after all this) but you would have seen me down 5 homemade snicker doodles, sugar, m&m, and peanut butter cookies with a chocolate milk. They also had a large spread of other carbs like bagels, pop and oranges—which I usually lean towards, but the homemade cookies swept me away.

What I need to Fix
Choking up: I don't know how to fix this. But I need to NOT think about anyone dear to me in the last 3 miles. I get emotional. I did this in my first Marathon and decided then, that dedicating the last 5 miles to my loved ones made me gasp for air and tighten my throat. Apparently my run partner has a similar issue. She was getting emotion in the last 2 miles. My squeal about having a monthly visitor at that moment changed the game and slapped us both out of it. This race needed to be over now. And add this to a tip: I bring extra clothes and was glad I did this day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Digging Deep

Last week Friday I really did DIG DEEP in my closet and donate 2 years of running shoes to the Soles4Souls organization thru my local running store, RunningFit. Soles4Souls takes gently used shoes to those in need of footwear in deprived or devastated countries like Haiti. The shoes also become part of economic relief for families to sustain themselves. In all, I dropped off 3 paper bags full of Saucony Stability shoes pictured in the pile above and two boxes of kid shoes not pictured. To my surprise, they take whatever gently used shoes you have, not just running shoes. I thank you Soles4Souls for caring for others and the environment, and my closet thanks you too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Make It Rain

The last week seemed to have one theme: MAKE IT RAIN

It has rained every morning for a week now. Which was working out okay since I have a kick'n treadmill. I was getting nervous about these slower 20 milers, so I took the opportunity and picked-it-up with 4 mile runs at 9mm. I can say that the treadmill looked like it was raining inside and I felt super charged.

I was motivated to "Make It Rain" by this video below featuring a local girl, Courtney Argue who is singing the lead. Looks like a lot of sweaty rain to me. It works—just what I needed.

I have started to prepare my Marathon list and now need to reserve some music that really helps me pick-it-up. I am not one to sneak in too many ballads and I need a fresh mix for each race. This Week's 4 Miler Pick-It-Up and Make It Rain List: Make it Rain | 3:16 Courtney Argue & J.Greene Feat. Pitbull Go Get It | 3:16  Mary Mary Whistle | 3:45  Flo Rida Touch Me | 3:51  Smash Cast Version Featuring Katharine McPhee) All This Time | 3:26  Britt Nicole Live Like That  | 3:57  Sidewalk Prophets Let's Go (Radio Edit) | 3:46 Calvin Harris Love U Betta | 3:21 Neon Hitch 50 Ways To Say Goodbye | 4:08 Train Some of these will make the reserve Marathon cut and others will have to go.

Last 20—Washed Away

By Saturday I had had enough rain! My last run with Evie Ultra for this training session, and any melancholy I had for the last 20 miler was washed away in the showers and down the flowing streets. Cold wet feet with a good attitude got us thru the last 20.75 miles. Yep, we pushed a little further and talked about mental toughness. I am now prepared for a cold shower Marathon—but it isn't my desire at all. It's taper time! I have been experiencing a NEW perk the day after my 20 milers—a running surge/urge the next day and I have high energy and crave a run like chocolate. Not remotely kidding. I hand-washed the floors in the house, put away 5+ loads of laundry, cleaned and then finally flung out of the gate like I was in the Kentucky Derby—it was this weekend afterall. I ran a 4 mile recovery run that was a little speedy for recovery mode and felt amazing the entire time. My legs were not as happy, but my mind seemed to say this was pure adrenaline. Ahhhhh no rain. Find your FOCUSED DRIVE.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Training NEWs

Training for 26.2 and a New Outlook on Training Runs

I have trained for 2 marathons in the last year and am on the last lap of my third. One more 20 miler and it's taper time. I am not even that excited about it. And this is why… In the past, I have enjoyed running alone and digging deep. I have thought highly of the self coaching and dealing with the mental Olympics in my head to get up some hellacious hills at the end. I have had to break up the run in segments to get thru it.

Not this time. I have tried something new or should I say someone? All but one of my long runs I have ran with a new running buddy. It has been a pleasant surprise to me as I thought I loved to run alone. But, 2-4 hours of running alone can be a safety risk. Thus, the initial reason I found someone. And then I found the other perks as well…

I have not had to struggle to get thru those long runs. I have noticed we run slower because we are talking the entire time about running and anything under the sun. HA! When I did run the one 20 miler alone, I found I was going faster. So at least I can say I am not totally slacking off. I am just hoping that I have discover a new way of building lung capacity by gabbing and running which could be equal to shutting it and running faster during a race. Will I ever beat Oprah's time? Really! 

If this is not the case and I have speed issues during the race, there is always the next marathon on my list to test the theory in June. Until then I will continue to enjoy the company. We are going to try to run this marathon together. This will be a totally different experience for me again.

And in June whether I like it or not, back to training it alone and digging deep, unless…