Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 - A Year to Remember

It's been a reoccurring sentiment in my posts over 2013 that this has been an amazing year!  I fell in love with running all over again this year.  The beginning of 2013 was incredibly stressful with work and instead of losing my mind and my temper, I turned to running as an outlet.  Running actually rewards you for your hard work and acknowledges all of the extra blood, sweat and tears when you step up to the start line of the big race. 

After spending the first half of the year training for The San Francisco Marathon, I really thought that was going to be it for the year.  Little did I know how much that race would change and inspire me.    This year has been so awesome but what happened last week?  Out of complete nowhere my right knee flared up.  Seriously?  I'm not talking just a little niggle of pain, I'm talking I wasn't able to make it through a mile before I was in tears with pain.  So after only being able to run twice in the last ten days and working to rehab this sucker, I woke up today in a pity party kind of mood.  This blog was originally started to just document my races so that I have a journal to keep with me over the years.  Today I realized that it also serves to remind me of just why my knee might hurt and maybe I shouldn't be so upset with it.

Let's do some math for 2013.....

1) I've run 12 races
  • (2) 10k's
  • (2) 15K's
  • (7) Half Marathons (NYE Race tomorrow will make #8 and 13 races overall)
  • (1) Full Marathon

2) If I hadn't switched between 3 different GPS devices I could tell you how many total training miles run, but if I had to guess (based on training plans) it's somewhere between 900 - 1,000 miles.

3)  Spent over $1,000 in race registrations.

4)  Burned through about 5 pairs of shoes.

5)  I'm not even going to attempt to calculate what I've spent on things that keep me running such as sports chiro, cryotherapy, and the occasional massage.  Willing to bet I could have spent a week in Bora Bora, but I digress....

If I'm being honest this is the first time I've ever done the math and quite frankly it makes me a little nauseous because this doesn't even include travel expenses or my husband's total.  >gulp<  (I'm so thankful AdvoCare is truly my running fund.  The products fuel my body and my bank account to make all this happen.)  But you know what?  I don't regret a single second of it.  I got to run in New Orleans and San Francisco this year!  The memories that were made on those trips, the ton of laughs shared, you cannot put a price on.  Every race has it's own story and each one I can look back and smile on.  There were some that were downright terrible and I asked myself multiple times while out on the course, "Why the hell am I doing this?".  Those memories were quickly trumped by the many great races I had where I couldn't stop smiling the entire race.  I proudly display all of my medals because to me they are better than any race photograph I could pay way to much money for print and hang on the wall.

Outside of just the races, 2013 lead me down a path to help others with their journey. 
  • In August I became certified as a running coach through the RRCA!  Hands down one of the best decision I made for my running.  Even if you aren't looking to have a running coach business, getting certified and the knowledge gained during certification is worth every penny and every minute of your time.  
  • Over the summer I was seeking a way to give back and use my new found coaching skills so that I could give back my time and give back to a sport that has given so much to me.  The opportunity presented itself in September when I was selected to become a Girls On The Run coach!  Being able to spend 10 weeks pouring into a wild group of 5th grade girls was so much fun and something I hope to do again.      
  • In December I was selected to be a guest blogger on one of my favorite running and motivational pages, The Daily Runner.  Such a fun thing to be a part of!  If you missed the article, here you go.     
The best thing about my 2013 recap and totals?  They don't even include our race for New Year's Eve!  The New Year's Double (part one) starts tomorrow and that will make race #13 and #8 half marathon for the year.  New Year's Day will mark race #1 and half marathon #1 for 2014!  I honestly cannot imagine a better way to end 2013 and kick off 2014.  So as I sit here wallowing in pity over my hurt knee I can't really be too upset.  The races won't produce the times I would like because I'm going to take it easy on this ol' knee, but that's not what these races are about.  The New Year's Double is the icing on the cake for 2013.  I'm going to use those 13.1 miles on New Year's Eve to reflect on what an incredibly blessed year it has been.  The 13.1 miles on New Year's Day will be a battle to the finish I'm sure, but I look forward to spending those miles with my husband, and the running friends that were put in my path this year.  Banged up and taped up knee and all, bring it on 2014 and lets start this year off the right way!

Happy New Year to all of you!  I hope you can look back on 2013 and find the positives and look forward to an incredible year of new opportunity in 2014.

Run happy!  #happyrunner        

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From our little family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!  We hope Santa filled your stockings with goodies and your hearts with gratitude.

Brandon, Lindsay, Eddie, Lucy Lu, and Hank #adopt

Monday, December 23, 2013

Impromptu White Rock Half Marathon: Race Recap

So I'm a wee bit behind in posting this but better late than never I suppose.  After the Metro PCS Dallas Marathon was cancelled, I was left to decide if I wanted to skip the distance all together and just keep training, or throw in a half marathon of my own somewhere along the way.  My sister was on a quest to complete her New Year's resolution of running 12 races in 2013, the Dallas Marathon was supposed to be the 12th.  Obviously the ice storm put a bit of a damper on that resolution.  Immediately after the cancellation I started searching everywhere to find a half marathon race within driving distance of the metroplex.  No luck.  My sister finally made the decision to sign up for a virtual half marathon and run her own race!  Fancy marathon, we don't need no stinkin' fancy marathon.
If you don't get this reference, we might not be able to be friends.

 So on Saturday, December 14th (six days after what should have been the actual race) we headed out to White Rock to tackle our own half marathon.  It was cold, cloudy, a little drizzle, and the wind started gusting upwards of 20-25mph but hey, no ice!  If you're familiar with White Rock, you know that it is roughly 9 miles for one loop.  I opted to run an out-and-back race so I turned around at the 6.5 mile point.  I set out for this "race" with honestly no objective in my mind.  The lake was pretty empty so the excitement of "race day" was nowhere to be found.  It felt like another training run which means this would be a race of mental strength more than anything.   

I held my pace back and gradual eased into what felt comfortable and hovered around a 10:00/mile for most of the run.  Last month I was finally able to get Garmin to take back my 210 (which I had a million issues with) and upgraded to the new Forerunner 220.  Best.  Decision.  Ever. It deserves a review all on its own but for now, I can finally show splits!  >applause<

The new watch also provides cadence, which I'm not sure how accurate it is, but it's a good starting point to start tracking that data as well.  Average cadence of 172 which I'd like to work on improving to 180 in the near future. 

The run itself wasn't actually that bad and at the end I could have kept on cruising.  At about mile 11 the wind picked up something fierce and with that came a temperature drop that served as great motivation to just get back to the car (and seat warmers) as soon as possible! 

I finished with a time of 2:12:10.  No crowd cheering.  No funny signs.  No cheers from the lovely volunteers at the water stations.  No shiny medal at the end.  Lots of boredom.  Sometimes it's making the decision to just "get out there and do it" that help to improve your strength more than anything.  I'll take my finish with a smile!


Monday, December 9, 2013

I don't run to be skinny.

I saw this picture over the weekend and it really stuck with me and made me think and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.  This past year has been a year of personal growth for me.  I've learned to really embrace all of the things that I once didn't like about myself.  (It's a work in progress but I'm getting there.)  Maybe it's the fact that I'm turning 30 in a few months?  Third-life crisis?  Maybe it's the fact that I've also really embraced the fact that you're never going to please everyone so stop it with that already.  Haters gonna hate regardless, right?  (bad grammar, not sorry.)

At the beginning of this year when I started training for the San Francisco Marathon I started to really focus on the little details of training that would make a big difference come race day.  Running is definitely a great way to stay in shape and lose weight, but you reach a point where that piece of the puzzle comes to a stand still.  When I started to focus on being a stronger runner my whole mindset towards so many things started to change.  The calories I was consuming were no longer being tracked to make sure I stayed under the limit, the calories were  monitored to make sure I had fuel.  Food = fuel.  It's too often we get caught up in the idea of what we're supposed to look like as a woman who runs all the time.  The women on the front of the running magazines are in incredible shape no doubt, but just because you don't look like that doesn't make you any less of a runner or athlete.  You know how many women I've met who if I didn't know them from the running community I would have previously said "There's no way she's a runner."  I erased that mindset because it's simply not true.  For so long I ran and ran with the hopes that I would be able to go down a size and get into those size 4 jeans again.  So I ran and ran and ran, my waist line stayed trim, I was feeling great.... so what happened?  My calves, quads, and thighs got so strong which was amazing!  However, with the added strength came extra muscle which lead to me doing a dance every morning trying to get my skinny jeans over my growing calves and quads.  It took me a few months but I finally gave in and went UP a size in the skinny jeans.  Mentally it tore me up to do it but a friend reminded me to embrace the strength I had gained.  It's so easy to get fixated on what the scale says, or what number is on the tag in your jeans.  This year has taught me more than ever that those things truly do not matter.

I no longer train to be skinny, I train to be badass.  The New Year's "Resolution-ers" are about to come out in full force and one of the number one things people say is "I want to lose weight, get skinny, etc."  I encourage you to use a little different wording and maybe that will change your mindset, not just for next year but for every year to follow.  Make a resolution to be HEALTHY and STRONG and a BADASS in 2014.  After all, when the zombie apocalypse happens looking good in a swimsuit isn't going to do you a whole lot of good, but being able to run for days will!  The world needs more badassery.  :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dallas Half Marathon Race Reca....just kidding :)

Tonight I should be downloading all of my data to my Garmin, analyzing splits, and giving you all a fantastic recap of this half marathon.  I'm not sure if you've noticed or not, but Mother Nature has been rather pissy the past few days and the ice storm that she gave us resulted in the cancellation of the race.  Incredibly disappointed?  Yes.  Do I think it was the right decision to cancel?  Absolutely.

This race was truly a "just for fun" race that Brandon and I were doing with a group of friends.  My heart completely broke for those that this was there "big race" of the year.  Especially for those that it was their first marathon/half-marathon.  Your months and months of training are NOT a waste!  Training for an endurance race is 95% of the battle.  Granted you didn't get a medal but you've won.  Having your big event cancelled provides you with the perfect opportunity to test your mental strength.  You can be mad all you want, but that doesn't get you to the finish line.  I was in complete awe of the strength and commitment I saw from runners.  Those who formed their own Icepocalypse Marathons, made their own medals those who hopped on the treadmills and cranked out the miles was just incredible.  You can't defeat the spirit of a TRUE runner!  You just can't.

After hearing of the cancellation I immediately went back to my training plan and opted to change up a few things.  I decided that instead of still running the 13.1, I would treat this week and weekend as part of rest and recovery week, and pick the mileage back up next week.  On Saturday morning I hopped on the treadmill for 6 miles, which helped with the cabin fever.  Sunday morning I woke up and thought mayyyyybe today I really do just want to be completely lazy.  Could it be the fact that I woke up to the aroma of Brandon making Grands cinnamon rolls??  I might have devoured two cinnamon rolls (yep....) and maybe it was the sugar, or the overwhelming feeling of guilt afterwards but I changed into my running cloths and upstairs to the treadmill I went....

Back on the treadmill for another 8 miles bringing the cumulative distance for the weekend run to 14 miles.  A little piece of advice, I wouldn't recommend using Grands cinnamon rolls as a form of carb loading.  They turn into car batteries in your stomach if they haven't settled before attempting a run, who knew?

I'm bummed that we didn't get to race, but I'm also thankful that we are safe and sound (and warm).  No race is worth breaking your neck over.  Three weeks and counting until the New Years Double!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My 30 Days of Thankfulness

I know the new thing on social media is to post each day about what you're thankful for during November.  While I like the idea of it, posting it on Facebook isn't my cup of tea.  I like compiling lists.  I like things in order, in one spot.  I'm an Aquarius, it's what we do.

In no particular order I give you my 30 Things I'm Thankful For:

  1. My husband.  Anyone who puts up with me on a regular basis should never be taken for granted.  He's also the hardest working man I know and always makes sure we, as a family, are taken care of.
  2. A job that I truly enjoy.  While it may be one of the most stressful jobs that I'm certain has taken years off my life, I get to work every day with an incredibly talented and hilarious group of people.  Even on the worst of days, we still manage to squeeze a little bit of fun in.  Frequent happy hours and inappropriate jokes help too.
  3. My health.  My family has the odds working against them when it comes to genetics, so I do everything within my power to keep my health in order.  The rest is up to God.
  4. In addition to health, I am particularly thankful to the doctor's who have helped keep me healthy this year.  Between severe allergies and running injuries, somebody has to keep this body functioning right.
  5. My relationship with God.  It's a personal relationship that has grown tremendously over the last couple of years.  It's not perfect and may not be considered ideal by some, but it works for me and that's all that matters. 
  6. Girls On The Run - Being picked to be a coach has been such an amazing journey!  I have learned so much and have had my eyes opened to the struggles of the youth.  Hoping I can continue to help make a change for them and bring a new generation into running.
  7. Our dogs - Eddie, Lucy Lu, and Hank.  They are all "special needs" rescues who have nothing but love in their hearts.  I wouldn't trade them in for all the "normal" dogs in the world.  You'll never know the love of a dog until you've gotten love from one that you gave a second chance at life.  Adopt don't shop.
  8. Second chances.  My 20's have been a rough ride and I've been blessed with second chances that at times I probably didn't deserve.
  9. Running.  Running give me strength, confidence, and sanity.  Running came into my life at a time when nothing made sense.  It always gave me something positive to strive for when so many other negative factors were trying to find their way in. 
  10. Seat warmers in my car.  Completely unnecessary luxury but I love them. 
  11. My parents.  They provided an incredible childhood growing up but also made me understand the importance of working hard.  I've had a job since the day I turned 15 and thankful for that.
  12. A good work ethic.  I don't expect anything to be handed to me.  I've busted my tail for years to get to where I am now and I don't plan on stopping.  A good work ethic seems to be such a foreign concept to many in the upcoming generations.  
  13. Technology.  Our lives seem to revolve around it these days, and it also happens to be the industry that pays our paychecks.  
  14. A snarky sense of humor.   I'm a smart ass.  I don't have much of a filter.  I have really thick skin so I can take it just as much as I can dish it.  Humor and being able to find it in any situation is what has gotten me through some of the major lows in life.
  15. AdvoCare.  I've taken the products for years (they're awesome) but it wasn't until last year that I started sharing them with others and creating a nice side income.  It's my "running fund" that pays for race fees, travel expenses, gear, doctor's visits, etc.  I average $1,000 month and growing.  It's been a huge blessing!
  16. Being an Aunt.  I love having a niece and a nephew to spoil!  
  17. True friendships.  I'm very guarded and keep a small circle that I consider true friends. 
  18. Music.  I grew up around music of all kinds and I am an old soul.  If I ever have kids they too will grow up in a home filled with the classics of rock, blues, Motown, and country...not the garbage that they currently play on the radio.  When they're older they'll also know the greatness that is Tupac, Eazy-E, Beastie Boys, and Digital Underground.  They'll need to be well rounded ya know :)
  19. Travel!  This year we've gotten to travel to some really fun places and more are in the works for 2014!  We truly enjoy seeing the world on foot and are so blessed to be able to do so.
  20. Grandparents.  I don't see my grandparents nearly enough but I don't know too many people my age who still have their grandparents still with them.  It's truly a gift! 
  21. Modern day luxury that is known as the dishwasher.  Ours went out for two days and I about lost it at the thought of having to hand wash the million pieces of tupperware we go through each week.  Luxury item, yes.  Am I thankful for it, absolutely. #firstworldproblems
  22. Animal rescues.  The number of animals euthanized every year due to irresponsible owners and breeders is astounding and heart breaking.  Rescues do incredible work but are in constant need of donations to continue doing what they do.  Please consider making a donation to an animal rescue, especially during the holidays as they prepare for the "after Christmas rush of people who thought puppies would be a great gift".  I'm not making this up, it's actually a real problem.
  23. Thankful that I still love to learn.  I enjoy reading and educating myself, particularly on running and exercise.  You're never too old to feed your brain and learn something new.   
  24. My sister.  We're complete opposites in just about every aspect of life but we're still the best of friends. 
  25. The group of friends we have found through our NTX Runners group!  We're all crazy, that's why we get along so well.
  26. Post-it notes.  My work tasks would never get done without them.
  27. Caffeine - usually in the form of Spark.  Again, my work tasks would never get done without it.
  28. Thankful I married into a family that blessed me with two sets of in-laws.  The best part?  They are both awesome!  
  29. Naturally long eyelashes.  Sounds silly but I'm not a makeup wearing kind of gal.  So if I had to bring a long fuzzy stick with black tar looking stuff on it or one of those crazy eyelash clamp/curler/torture device near my eyes every day - I'd go crazy.
  30. I'm thankful that my 30th birthday is right around the corner!  So ready to put the 20's behind me!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  Remember to give thanks every day (not just on the holiday) and also remember to wear your stretchy pants.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Girls On The Run Coach - Fall 2013

I started this journey back in September with not a single clue as to what I was doing.  I've never taught or coached especially in this type of environment and I sure as heck have never worked with kids before.  Me?  The person who doesn't even know if they want kids signing up to work with them twice a week?  Trust me, I found it just as crazy.  I had been searching for awhile on a way to give back and when this opportunity came up, I knew it wasn't just a coincidence.

For ten weeks I spent every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon/evening with 6 of the funniest, quirkiest, sweetest, and hard working group of girls.  Of course some days were more challenging others but more often than not we had a lot of fun!  When you work with adults one of the hardest challenges I face is getting people to take "I can't..." out of their vocabulary.  Same goes with kids.  This experience was a huge eye opener to the battles these kiddos face each day with bullying and self esteem.  Sadly the problem starts with the older generations and how so many have adopted the "I believe something different than you, so it's my place to tell you why you're wrong" attitude.  Social media has given too many a huge platform to try and criticize, degrade, and bully each other simply because they don't like something.  The future generations will follow in our footsteps if we as adults can't get back to following the golden rule.  But I digress, that's a post for another day.... 

Ten weeks ago a few of the girls didn't think they could do it, or didn't think they could keep up with some of the faster girls.  Every class I emphasized it's not about being the fastest it's just about getting out there and doing it, and leaving it all out there when you're done.  Not every class was just about running.  Each class we talked about important topics such as bullying, being thankful, giving back to our community, working as a team and how to be leaders and good friends.  We also introduced creative ways to strengthen their little legs, like doing frog hop races across the the gym floor:

One of my favorite classes was about three weeks ago when one of my girls who was a big "I can't..." personality, ran up to me (in a dead sprint) and said "Coach Lindsay I'm getting faster, I can really tell!"  More than just the "getting fast" part, she had confidence in her that I hadn't seen all season and became a leader of the group.  Mission accomplished.

Our last class we spent doing a project as a way to say thanks to the recreation center that so kindly donated their facility space for us to use during our program.  We invaded the Joe Farmer Recreation Center for 10 weeks, so we wanted to say thanks!  The girls made a gingerbread house complete with every kind of candy one could think of, and I'm pretty sure they ate two pieces for every one they put on.

Thank you to the staff at Joe Farmer, y'all are awesome!

This past Saturday was our big event at the Gobble Hobble 5K.  Hundreds of Girls On The Run kids and coaches who have worked so hard over the last 10 weeks came together to have some fun!  While the race was freezing, drizzling, and windy we all had smiles on our faces and made the most of it!  All of the girls were required to have a buddy with them for both safety reasons and to encourage them along the way.  Brandon actually got called in to run with the speedster of the group!  I hung back and ran with one of my girls and I'm so glad I got to.  We had a good talk :)
Our crew.
Finishing the race!  She surprised me at the end and took off on a dead sprint to finish line.  Finish strong!
I am so so so proud of these young ladies.  Everyone finished the race and finished it with a smile!  While the program isn't about being the fastest runner, I do have to brag that one finished FIRST in her age division, and the other came in ninth in her age division.  Woot woot! 

I am forever grateful for this experience and all it has taught me.  Girls On The Run took me WAY outside of my comfort zone and I am so thankful it did.  Thank you girls for everything you've taught me over the last ten weeks.  Running changed my life a few years ago and I hope that they took something away from this that will change theirs as well.  I look forward to another season!

All of the DFW Chapters of GOTR

If you have a Girls On The Run program in your area I high recommend you check it out.  Of course your kids can participate but volunteer coaches are always in need. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So what's the scoop ice cream?

It's almost crazy how fast time is flying by.  It seems like just last weekend was the DRC half marathon that I recapped, but wham, no that was two weeks ago.  I've been slacking on the blogging but not the running!  I should also mention that when you work with online retail around Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you're just a weeeeee bit busy.  So here's whats been going on....

The week that followed the DRC Half Marathon, Brandon and I took a much needed vacation.  We hit the road and went to Memphis for a weekend of fun, blues, Beale Street, Elvis, and Sun Records.  It also consisted of eating nothing with nutritional value for four days, and no running.  Bleh.  After feeling like a busted can of biscuits for a few days, I was so ready to get back on track with my running!  The running schedule and AdvoCare cleanse started as soon as I got back and boy do I feel better!  Day 9 of the cleanse and I'm down 3 lbs, that should take care of Memphis.

 To continue my quest to becoming a smarter runner, I attended an all-day class on Keeping Athlete's Healthy/injury prevention this past Saturday.  The class was lead by Janet Hamilton from Running Strong Coaching who was a wealth of knowledge!  I learned so much in just 8 hours that I honestly wished it was a two day course.  Running unfortunately is a sport that is plagued with a variety of injuries.  The information we gained about how to prevent, treat, and recover will definitely come into play every day with training.  I hope to use this information not only for myself, but to help others as well!  One of the biggest things I learned about myself while practicing Functional Movement Tests?  I need to work on strengthening my hip, particularly my left side.  Which surprise surprise, my left side is where I get all my injuries.  I told the doc just the other day that I really just need an all new leg.  Hip strength plays a HUGE factor in running injuries.  Knowledge is power right?  So this week I've added clam shells and bridge progressions to my weekly routine of core work.  Gait assessment, shoe wear patterns, stretching routines, eccentric and concentric movement ....I could go on and on!  Exercise Physiology is completely fascinating to me.  I love to learn though, the brain needs a workout too.  I'll spare you the details of the entire course, but if you have any questions let me know.

Even prior to my injury class I knew I had to step up my game with my core and strength work.  Since I thrive on spreadsheets and plans, I decided to take on the 30-Day Squat and Ab Challenge.  Tomorrow will be day 18 (took a few days off in Memphis #notsorry) and let me tell you something, WOW!  I've seen huge improvements.  Just to compare....

Day 1:
50 squats
15 situps
5 crunches
5 leg raises
10 second plank

Pssshhhh, that was easy breasy!

Day 18:
155 squats
80 situps
110 crunches
48 leg raises
70 second plank

Feel.  The.  Burn. (mind you I'm still keeping up with my running plan)

I could run 10 miles on any given day but when I started this I struggled with that 10 second plank.  Sad, so sad I know. Now I can knock out a 60 minute plank like a boss.  Amazing what a little consistent effort over time can do for the body!  Same goes for running...consistent effort will lead to results! 

So why all of the added strength and core work all of a sudden?  Well, I need to get stronger in general but the bigger motivation is that we have decided to sign up for the New Year's Double!  We will close out 2013 with a half marathon on NYE and then kick off 2014 the right way with a half marathon on NYD!  26.2 miles covered in two days and I could not be more excited!  The race has always peaked my interest but this year we just decided to go for it after seeing the gorgeous medal(s) that will await us at the finish line.  I will be out there amongst my peers of fellow crazy runners who are all willing to make the sacrifices year round to do what we do.  New Years Eve will be spent lounging around and taking an ice bath, I know you're jealous.  Honestly, I can't imagine kicking off a new year any other way.  I'm hoping all of the additional strength work will pay off, especially around mile 10 on day 2.

The crew at New Years Double is nice enough to provide a generic training plan for each distance.  I've adopted their plan and tweaked it to my needs.  The next few weeks will consist of increased mileage, the Metro PCS Dallas Half Marathon, back-to-back weekday runs to work on cumulative fatigue, and making some of these runs tempo runs for good measure.

 So what are everyone's goals for the end of 2013? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A "How it all started" Race Report....

It was four years ago that I ran the DRC Half Marathon for the first time, it was also my first half marathon...ever!  Back in 2009 Brandon was not a runner.  He had never run more than a couple of miles and at the time he had no desire to.  He has always been super supportive of my running and has never missed a race.  Through all my years of running I've only had true "course support" at the NYC Marathon, that's it.  So his support means the world to me!  For my first half he made a Team Lindsay shirt, sported it proudly, and braved the frigid temps at the wee hours of the morning to cheer me on.  Pictures from 2009....
Such a trooper.


I'm taking this race report as an opportunity to maybe encourage some people to step out of their comfort zone and take the word "can't" out of their vocabulary.  Two weeks ago I was asked by a friend: 

"Have you always been into running? I've tried many times and failed on all attempts to get into it and stick to it. I ran a mile once without stopping. What's your tip?"

I started this running journey not knowing much.  Running started as a form of stress relief and to stay in shape.  When I started, I too could barely get through a mile.  Week after week of staying on a fairly consistent training schedule, one mile turned into two...two miles turned into three....etc etc.  The biggest tip on how to "be a runner"?  Stick with it.   I certainly did not shoot out of the womb with running shoes on. 

In the picture above I was terrified (and freezing).  I knew I had trained but wasn't really sure what to expect.  Worth noting in that picture, for my first race I didn't have a fancy Garmin watch, no water belt, no GU, that's my giant iPod strapped to my wrist, and my personal favorite - I'm wearing a thick $5 cotton t-shirt that I picked up at Target.  I didn't know what pacing meant.  My training just consisted of hitting certain mileage week after week.  I didn't know what a tempo run was or how many ounces of water I should be drinking before/during/after a run.  Without all of the fancy accessories and knowledge, I finished the race!  I might have suffered some serious chaffing from that ol' cotton shirt, but lesson learned and I purchased BodyGlide.  I was so happy at the finish line!  My first medal.
2009 Finish Time: 2:22:41
You don't have to know everything about running to be a runner, you just have to start.  Once you start, you have to stick with it.  If you had told me at my first half that one year from that day that I would be running the NYC Marathon, I would have laughed hysterically.  But that's exactly what happened.  In November 2010 I was so blessed to get to run my first 26.2 at one of the most historic races in the world.  I always refer to running as an adventure, because that is exactly what it has been for me!

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Brandon wasn't a runner back in 2009 right?   For those who know Brandon currently you know him as the super speedy, has to be partial Kenyan runner.   When Brandon first decided to take on running with me he started out slower than me.  True story.  For our "long runs" (of four miles) we would head to the bridge in Rockwall and run it back and forth.  After two miles he would be winded.  As he progressed we started doing a 5-mile loop together and I was actually faster than him.  My my my how time has changed!  He too started out just putting one foot in front of the other and ran his first half marathon in March 2011 with a finish time of 2:01:14.  Just last weekend he finished the Allstate 13.1 with a 1:40 finish time.  We are a far cry from elite status but the point is you have to start somewhere.

2009 to 2012 I ran several races, and many in fun destinations!  While I stayed pretty consistent with my training I didn't really change it up much.  I finished my races with respectable times but I wasn't seeing the improvements that I thought would just happen over time.  A few of those races I actually finished well over my first half marathon finish time which was frustrating to say the least.  You mean I don't just naturally get better and faster?  About a year ago I really started to focus on the nitty gritty of running.  I wanted to become a smart runner.  I wanted to understand how to be efficient, how to improve, and how to get stronger.  I became a certified running coach through the RRCA and  started to educate myself on how to prevent injury, how to strengthen my weak areas, and learning that even though it's my knee that hurts, it's likely not my knee that is actually injured etc.  I did a ton of research on nutrition and finding the fueling method that works for me.  Hill repeats, tempo runs, altering paces based on what type of run is needed, have all been implemented over the last year.  Finally stepping out of my comfort zone is when great things started to happen!  Set a new PR for the half marathon in March 2013 (took me two years to break my previous time), I PR'ed the San Francisco marathon in June by 35 minutes, and in October I FINALLY broke a goal that I have had in the back of mind for a couple of years now - I ran a half marathon in under 2:10!  More important than the actual time was that I pulled that time two weekends in a wasn't a "fluke".  Of course seeing the time on paper is nice, but mostly it's just huge validation that my hard work is paying off.  I am seeing improvements in my fitness and overall health.  Mentally and physically I am becoming a stronger, smarter, more efficient runner.

Four years later, my 2013 DRC Half Marathon finish of 2:09:30 is my new PR.

One of the biggest insults I can receive is for someone to say "but it's so easy for you".   While I can appreciate what you might be trying to say, it's easy to forget that we all start somewhere.  

I remember that first mile.  
I remember being out at the River Legacy trails and seeing incredibly fit runners blaze past me making it look "so easy" and thinking that I wanted to feel like that.  
I remember almost passing out after my first 10K.  
I remember just three weeks ago at The Showdown Half Marathon almost throwing up from the heat.
I remember it wasn't until my 5th half marathon that I was able to run the whole thing without stopping.  That was such a HUGE victory for me!
I remember hurting so bad after the NYC Marathon that I literally just wanted to cry on the steps of the subway because each step was more painful than the last. 
I know waking up before sunrise 4-5 days a week and on weekends isn't always easy.

I know I can speak for many runners when I say that every day brings new challenges and it is a constant battle to continue to challenge ourselves and work towards improving each and every day and making the sacrifices that will get us there.  We all started with that first mile.  Are some people more naturally gifted with their running abilities?  Absolutely.  Will someone always be faster than you?  You bet.  Are some more injury prone than others?  Yep >raises hand<  

The question was posed today in our local running group "What makes a good runner?"  Some people would be quick to respond that you have to be fast, you have to be able to run at least "X" amount of miles, or you have to win races to make you a good runner.  A good runner is not defined by a pre-determined speed, distance, or running form.  

In my opinion, a good runner... 
  • is someone who is willing to put in the work and willing to make the sacrifices that will help them improve
  • is constantly chasing a new goal or looking to push the limits of their ability. 
  • is not constantly comparing themselves to other runners,  but instead is able to focus on their own personal goals.
  • is mentally tough and able to battle through the bad runs (because there will be plenty) and keep pressing forward.
  • is eager to share their stories and experiences in order to help others in their quest to becoming that "good runner"    
  • is able to have FUN on the course, even when things aren't going how they'd hoped.
  • is a HAPPY runner!   
A good runner knows that at any point the gift of movement and running could be taken away from us in an instant.  A good runner is thankful just to be running.  


Monday, October 28, 2013

Race Report: Allstate 13.1

4:30 am came bright and early on Saturday!   The night before Brandon and I had all of our stuff laid out, post race bags were packed, and we got about 6 hours of sleep.  We rolled out of bed race morning, ate the usual peanut butter bagel and out the door we went.   First lets talk about the logistics of the race site first shall we.  Having run several races I start to look for the "little things" that really can speak volumes about a race and if I would sign up again...

  • Since this is still a relatively small race, the race site is easily accessible from 75.  We waited to get into the parking garage where to our surprise we had VIP parking because of it being the Lexus parking garage.  Front and center parking, bonus!  Since the parking is so close to the race we were able to hang out there for a bit, eat our VO2 Prime Bars and just relax. 
  • The saving grace to the race site is that the race is still small so there's minimal wait for the potties and plenty of spots to just hang out.
  • I was able to swap my race shirt for a larger size on site, which is the pro....more about this in the cons...

  • The shirts...oh the shirts.  Not all shirts are created equal when it comes to sizing, and that never proves to be more true than with race shirts.  I realize every race uses different manufacturers and I'm totally cool with that, especially if a sizing chart is provided.  However, when my size "medium" is truly the equivalent to a size "small" and tinkering on the brink of an XS I have to say that's a bit ridiculous.  I tried on the Medium at home and lets just say it was comical.  I was able to swap at the race site for a Large and it's still too small, and I don't even think I'd feel comfortable wearing it around my house.  I have a billion race shirts so I don't care that much, but when you pay $90+ for a race entry you expect to at least be able to wear your shirt.  At least once.  Eh well....
  • The start of the race went smooth except for one minor detail, from what I could see (it was dark out and the site wasn't well lit) there were two entrances into the starting corral.  Entrance #1 was way at the back behind the 3 hour pace groups.  Entrance #2 was up towards the front right by the 1:40 pace group.  Soooooo, I opted to hop in at the 1:40 pace group and just stay out of the way when the race started.  Myself and several others were walking up and down the outside barriers going "How in the heck do we get in there?"
Now on to the race!  I don't know that either of us really had high expectations for this race.  Brandon and I were a little mentally defeated after The Showdown Half.  The brutal heat and humidity took a toll and while we knew the conditions were a huge factor, it still kind of gets you down ya know?  The weather race morning was pretty darn close to ideal.  Overcast and temperatures hovered in the mid to upper 50's.  I got to see Brandon in the corral right before we took off and before you know it, we were off.  Brandon ran this course last year so he was aware of how flat, fast, and smooth sailing the course was.  I started the race and paced based on feel.  I wasn't going to focus on what the ol' Garmin had to say until mile 3. 

 *This is where I was planning on posting a picture of my splits from Garmin Connect.  However, once again my Garmin has failed me.  After having to do a master reset and losing ALL MY RACE DATA FROM THE LAST 4 MONTHS, I have nothing to post here.  I've only had this Garmin since February so to say I'm upset is an understatement.  I pity the fool that answers the phone at Garmin tomorrow morning when I call.  I hope they know it's not personal, but they're going to wish they had called in sick.*

I digress.  Back to the race.....

When I hit the Katy Trail two things happened:
1) I knew that if I kept this pace I would end with a PR today.
2) I had to pee.  Like really really had to pee.

Every potty that I passed was a moral dilemma.  "Do I stop?"  No.  "Maybe I should stop at the next one."  No.  WWJD?  I knew that if I missed a PR by 30 seconds because of a potty break I would hate myself.  So instead I distracted myself for the next several miles and used water sparingly.  Luckily, it worked!  For the record, I'm not above having to pee on myself to hit a PR but thank God I was able to avoid it at this race.  Don't think it didn't cross my mind several times though...

I found the photographer and had a little fun!  I wish I could run without my water belt because they're incredibly unflattering, but I suppose passing out on the course from lack of water or GU is even more unflattering.  If you can't laugh at yourself you aint living right!  ;)

Who's a happy camper on race day?!  This girl right here.

Two thumbs up for knowing I was only a couple of miles away from a PR.  #lovetherun
Approaching Mile 12 I knew this was where the "big hill" of the race was.  Honestly, it's long but it's not a steep hill.  Once you run a full marathon through the hills of San Francisco, everything else gets put into perspective.  I made the climb up mile 12 and saw 2:09 on the Garmin.  I knew I had a PR but more importantly (I know it sounds silly) but I wanted a PR of 2:09:XX instead of 2:10:XX so I just booked it in.  This PR honestly took me by surprise.

Over the last several weeks I had lost a lot of confidence.  I was putting in the miles and the work but when I backed out of the full and had a really disappointing finish time at The Showdown, I was bummed.  I crossed the starting line at Allstate 13.1 with little confidence and just wanting to have a "decent" race.  This race validated that I wasn't crazy.  All of those early morning runs in the miserable heat and humidity were worth it.  My fitness was improving and the results finally showed up on the course.  Whew.

The icing on the cake?  Brandon PR'ed his race too!  A 1:40 finish time was something he thought wasn't possible.  He thought he had peaked.  I'm not going to pat myself on the back or anything, but my coaching techniques that he has actually implemented over the last month or so (slowing down long training runs, implementing tempo runs....aka the right type of pacing is IMPORTANT) might have had a little something something to do with it.  I'm just sayin'.

PR 1:40:25

Half Marathon #13 ended up much better than expected!  Overall, I like this race.  I think there are a lot of little things that need to be improved on but I would sign up again.  The course is a little different than most of the Dallas races and with the structure of the course, there's a good chance to PR.  I'm sure the race is going to continue to grow and with that comes new challenges, so we'll see what next year looks like!   

Next up on the list is the DRC Half Marathon on Sunday, November 3rd!  No PR seeking at this race just looking for an easy breezy training run around our normal stomping grounds of White Rock Lake.

Happy running friends!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Race Report: The Showdown Half Marathon

2012 was the inaugural race for The Showdown and after running that one, I knew I had to come back for the next!  The Showdown is located in Fairview, TX (way out yonder for some) but for us it is right in our backyard.  With 95% of races taking place through the same streets of Downtown Dallas, it is SO nice to have a race with a change of scenery.  Instead of skyscrapers, sewage smells, and running the same streets through hoity-toity Dallas neighborhoods, you get to run the long windy roads of the countryside.  The overall vibe of the race is different.  It's more laid back and friendly.  Along the course you'll pass cows, horses, alpacas and wind your way through some of the most breathtaking neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods where the houses are actually spaced out and have huge front yards and long driveways, remember those?  While the scenery is spectacular, the rolling hills are a beast.

After making the decision to opt-out of another full marathon for the year, The Showdown would be the first of four half marathons over the next 8 weeks.  Or what I'm calling, The Half Marathon Extravaganza.  Since it was going to be the first, and the most challenging course, I decided to approach this race with a laid back approach.  No time goals, no expectations, just looking to finish and have some fun along the way!  Kind of a "practice run" if you will.  Saturday morning we woke up to a temperature of 74 degrees, 95% humidity and a dew point of  71.  So that pretty much says, it's going to feel like running through soup today - embrace the suck.  More so than ever I was telling myself "today is just about having fun, today is just about having fun...."

As always, The Active Joe races go off without a hitch.  The starting area was cool calm and collected, I got to chat with a few our fellow NTX Runner friends, and made the usual visit(s) through the port-o-potty line.  Speaking of, how do you know the race director is actually a well seasoned runner themselves?  They tape off arrows to indicate which port-o-potties belong to which lines.  Brilliant!   I'm just waiting for the day at one of my other races (that aren't so organized) where a full blown riot breaks out over the smuck who goes into the port-o-potty that "wasn't for his/her line".  People are rude.  Especially when they have to pee.  So if you're new to racing, don't be that guy.  Karma will find you, and it will likely find you on the course when you desperately need a potty, and there's not one for another mile or so.  Karma karma karma.

Brandon and I before the race aka Honeybadger and LovePepper (you probably shouldn't Google that at work)
The gun went off at 7:30 on-the-dot and we were off.  It was only about two miles into the race and I was already dripping in sweat.  I'm a sweaty/hot nature person anyways, but you throw that humidity and dew point on top and it's disgusting.  I cruised along and held a comfortable 10:40-10:45 pace through the first 8 miles or so.

Apparently something to my left had my attention....which I'm thankful for because typical race photos make me look like I have a confused look on my face:  "Why am I doing this? >sees finish line<  "Ok, now I remember"
 That was when the heat started to get to me.  I was feeling a little woozy and then the cold chills started to hit.  Since this wasn't my first rodeo, I knew that if I didn't get this under control we'd have a problem.  I slowed to a brisk walk to catch my breath and get some water and gel.  About a mile down the road a lady with a big bucket of ICE cold water bottles was standing there.  Oh I wanted to hug her neck!  She wasn't part of the race but knew the conditions and those cold water bottles were a welcomed site for myself and a couple of guys I was running with, who were hurting as bad as I was.  I poured that bad boy on my head, down my back, and down into the sports bra to get my core temp down.  Heyo!  Pouring ice cold water down your bra is also a really quick way to find out where you forgot to put BodyGlide, feel the burn!   The cold water did the trick and I was able to pick back up again.  (If you are that lady or if you know her, please tell her I said THANK YOU!  I thanked her on the course but seriously, thank you.)  About another mile or so down the road there was ambulance on the road treating a runner who was out cold.  It was another reminder that the Texas weather is a force to be reckoned with.  You can never emphasize enough to new and even experienced  runners the importance of hydration.  Not just hydration immediately before and during the race, but DAYS before the race start hydrating.  Heat exhaustion is no joke and will take you out quickly if you're not careful.  It's also important to know the first signs and symptoms and be able to get it under control quickly before it's too late.  The gentleman who was out cold on the road was being handled by the professionals and had a friend with him, I said a prayer for him and his family and kept going....
Race photos are always terrible so I've learned to appreciate the ones that make me laugh and for whatever reason this one makes me laugh.  I actually have a quad muscle, hello quad muscle (as tiny as you may be)!  These pictures also make me think I should consider spray tanning, yikes. 

Finally the end was near and the finish line was in site.  13.1 miles of rollings hills (lots and lots of them) humidity and heat that made you just plain sad, and the fun of running with a sinus infection were all about to come to an end.  Half Marathon #12 was in the books with a finish time of 2:27:32.  Certainly not my best but I wasn't looking for a PR.  All conditions considered, I'll take it.  It goes down as another chapter in the adventures of running.  Every race serves a purpose, the good the bad and the ugly all happen for a reason.  

The course is hard, for two years now the weather hasn't cooperated, but I'll be back next year.  It wouldn't be fun if it was always easy  :)

Bling bling!


Monday, September 30, 2013

Updates and A Change of Plans

A few updates since I've royally sucked at posting because of my crazy schedule - my apologies to the family!

Dallas Marathon Training: One of the biggest things I've learned as a runner is that things don't always go as planned.  As I approach week 9 of Hanson's Marathon Method I've done a lot of thinking and reviewing of the upcoming weeks.  Lets go back and review the recent months shall we....

June 16, 2013 I ran the San Francisco marathon which means I spent the first half of the year in marathon training.  After San Fran, I took one week off to let the initial aches and pains subside and then I gradually started getting back into running.  3 weeks post full marathon I raced a 10K, and then a week after that I ran a 15K.  In retrospect, I can now admit that I did not allow myself enough time to properly recover.  DOMS settled in and that is around the time I started gearing up for the Hanson's plan.  I have loved the new approach that this method has taught me.  I'm actually loving the running 5-6 days per week!  I've seen huge progress in building my base mileage.  However, I implemented this plan at the wrong time.  I wasn't 100% when I started it and my body started shouting that at me around week 6-7 of training.  I've been working my way through a series of aches and trying not to let them reach the point of no return.  At the beginning of last week (Week 8 of training)  I completed a 6 mile run, and while the run wasn't bad, the overall feeling of tenderness in my lower legs led me to take an entire week off.  Sometimes you just have to know when to say "uncle" and give in to some rest days.  I refer to it as "growing up" as a runner.  Although the "rest" days did include going to the fair, landscaping projects, and a stomach bug (that I'm pretty sure brought me inches away from death) there was at least no running involved. 

So that brings me to today which is my one-week off point.  My legs are feeling rested.  My feet don't hurt when I get out of bed in the mornings, and while my right plantar still isn't 100% it is a heck of a lot better then where it was!  So what now?  The Showdown Half Marathon is coming up on October 12th and while I don't plan on going after a PR in this race, I do hope to have a good showing but more importantly to be pain free!  Last year at this race I was wearing double knee braces and in a lot of pain.  My finish time was 2:27, a reflection of that pain.  So this year I choose to celebrate being pain free and knee brace free!  Thank you to Chirosport of Dallas for putting me back together, getting me out of knee braces and orthotics, and back on my feet.....and overall putting up with me.    

I was going to wait until after The Showdown to make the call but I'm following my gut instinct and pulling out of the full marathon on December 8th.  It's not the right time with everything else I have on my plate.  My heart just isn't in this one.  Part of me thinks I'm mentally bored already with the thought of running 26.2 miles in Dallas.   I mean, my first marathons were in New York and San Francisco....I've set a pretty high bar for scenery!  Another reason I am backing out leads me to my next update....

30th Birthday Plans:  While my birthday isn't until February, Brandon is already making plans for my gift - Operation See The World on Foot continues with a trip to the Bahamas and running the Bahamas Half Marathon!  To say I'm excited would be a huge HUGE understatement!  I don't want to risk injuring myself with a full marathon and not being able to run this's the Bahamas for crying out loud.  Run a half marathon and then recover on a beach with a frozen beverage(s) that has an umbrella in it?   Yes, please.

Fall Racing Schedule:  Now that I'm not racing another full just yet and don't have that pressure, I get to pick from a plethora of other fun races!  The fact that I am really excited about this confirms that I am making the right decision.  The Showdown is the only one that is confirmed, the rest are tentative on how I feel:
  • October 12 - The Showdown Half Marathon
  • October 26 - Allstate 13.1
  • November 3 - DRC Half Marathon (this was my first 1/2 four years ago, so I'd like to run it again!)
  • December 8 - Metro PCS Dallas Half Marathon
 There is a big group of folks training for the Metro PCS half, if you would like to join let me know!  We have a wide range of paces, so the more the merrier.

Girls On The Run Coaching:  Last but certainly not least, I am entering my third week of coaching with Girls On The Run and we are having a BLAST!    It's incredibly challenging to map out your lesson plans, making sure we cover everything, and of course making sure we're getting the distances in, all within our allotted time frame.  The girls are so sweet and are always up for a new challenge!  They ran their longest this last week covering 1.25 miles.  The biggest challenge is trying to convey the importance of pacing.  Everything is either sprinting, or walking, and they won't try the in-between.  We are working on it and have plenty of time to get it all figured out!  I leave you with words of wisdom spoken from a 5th grader last week when asked what they have learned about themselves so far in the program:

"If I just try new challenges, I might be surprised at what I'm capable of and can do way more than I thought I could."

I must be doing something right  :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hanson's Method: Week 4

I knew that using a different approach to marathon training would be a challenge, but I guess I'm a little surprised with myself at how I've adjusted better than expected, but far from perfect.  As someone who has for their entire running career only run three (on the rare occasion four) days per week, this has been an adjustment to the say the least.  There have been some new aches and pains that have crept up, but each has passed with time as it adjusts.  The one lingering issue is shin splints.  The last time I had shin splints was years ago...forgot how much those suckers hurt!   

There have been a few struggles so far that I want to document in the hopes that in a few weeks I'll be able to look back and feel like I've been able to conquer those.

1) Sunday running - Sunday has always been a day of rest for our household.  So far 3 out of my 4 Sunday runs I have moved to Mondays.  The schedule kind of allows for it the first five weeks so that is all about to come to a screeching halt.  Not sure what it is but I just can't make myself even like the idea of getting up on a Sunday for a run.  I know they are great recovery, blah blah blah....I'll get over it eventually.  I know that I will start doing the Sunday runs on Sundays, but I'm also quite certain I'll never stop whining about it. 

2) Where do I fit cross-training and weights/core work into this routine?!  Again, another thing that totally falls into the "it's not you it's me" category.  I'm already running 5 days per week now, and that is soon about to be 6.  If I have to wake up at 4:30 every morning, I'll have to drink a Spark every hour on the hour....Spark Power Hour?!  Heyo!  My job is super understanding of my training schedule but I don't think they'd be so understanding of a two hour nap every day.  I need to find a job where I can get paid to be a mediocre marathon runner in training.  Anyone hiring?

3) The most daunting part of the Hanson's Method (in my opinion) is when you take a glance at the full schedule and realize that starting in week 6 you only have one "off" day.  From another perspective, it makes me feel incredibly lazy in regards to what I used to consider marathon training.  Don't get me wrong, nothing about any sort of marathon training is easy but I definitely did less than most.

Let me put #3 into perspective for you.... my peak week of marathon training for San Francisco consisted of 32 miles and that was during week 17 of 24.  With Hanson's, I will reach a 39 mile week by week 6 of 18.  Peak week for Hanson's is week 15 where I will reach a total weekly mileage of 57 miles.  That makes my head spin!  While I am a long ways off from that point, if/when I get there it will be a major milestone in my running career.  I never EVER would have thought I would be able to physically handle that many miles in a week.  Time will tell and we'll just have to see how the rest of this story unfolds!

Monday, August 26, 2013

I told you guys I needed a whistle...

For months and months now it has been weighing heavily on me the need to give back.  Not just financially, but with time.  Brandon and I enjoy giving back financially to a few charities throughout the year.  Often times it is for our four-legged friends or donating to friends who are running/racing/cycling in honor of various organizations, all of which are fantastic causes!  Lately though, I have wanted to give my time to something that I felt I really could make a difference with.  After a little research I found an organization called Girls on the Run - DFW and was completely in awe of the program they have started.  Ironically they just happened to have an opening for the coaching position at a recreation center located about ten minutes from our home, divine intervention?!  I contacted the local director and a few days later, voila, I am a coach!

Girls on the Run is a program for various age groups (I will be working with 3rd-5th grade girls) and we meet twice a week.  Each class works to build self esteem, through health education and of course running!  The program culminates by running a 5K, a REAL race!  I remember how exciting it was as an adult to run my first 5K, so I cannot wait to take this journey with the girls.  This past weekend I spent a day going through training and was surprised to learn just how much running these girls actually do.  I didn't get into running until well into my adult years, but I so wish there had been a program like this when I was younger.  Running has given back to me so much over the years and has played a huge role in my confident, determined, healthy, and persevering approach on life. 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit nervous, after all, as someone who doesn't have kids working with a large group of them is a bit of uncharted territory and requires me to step way outside of my comfort zone.  Good news is, my excitement for this adventure far out weighs the nerves!  I hope and pray that I can shed a bit of positive light into this group that is constantly surrounded by negativity and thoughts of what the media tells them they should be. 

Girls on the Run was recently featured on msnbc and did a great feature on what they are all about! (msnbc article)

The fall classes are open for registration and there are locations ALL over the DFW metroplex and across the US! - locations list

"The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others." 
Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Officially an RRCA Certified Running Coach!

I've neglected my blog over the last few weeks because I've spent every last ounce of energy on work.  We knew that July was going to be a busy (and downright miserable) did not disappoint in the slightest.  The goal was to stay afloat, maintain our sanity, and not punch anyone.  Success.

However, in the midst of that madness I was able to attend my RRCA coaching courses this past weekend.  To be honest, it was way more intense than I ever expected.  The amount of knowledge they pour into you is crazy but I was loving every second of it.  Our instructor, Cari Setzler, was great at not only teaching the assigned curriculum but shared so many personal stories about her successes as a runner and as a coach.  Not to mention she's a dog loving veterinarian, bonus!  She was so knowledgeable on all of the new studies and information that are surfacing about running and in particularly about modern training technique.  Everyone has their own opinion of course, but it seems like the art of training is starting to change.  We discussed techniques from the infamous Galloway method to the modern day "renegade" training of the Hanson's Method.  Nutrition, physiology, fartleks, tempo, intervals, different pace types, running form, disordered eating  ....I could go on and on and on!

Last night I sat down to tackle the 100 question exam and to be really honest, it was harder than I expected!  I'm a visual learner so the test actual helped cement the information in my brain.  Proud to report that I passed with flying colors, a 95 to be exact.  Cari said they usually see an average of 91-92 on the tests...just sayin' :)  I passed, now what?  I plan to continue working with the people that I do now but with a ton of extra knowledge in my back pocket.  (I hope to add more to that list soon, more on that later.)  My husband wants to run his first full in Spring 2014 and wants me to coach him!  They say that if your marriage can survive wedding planning and buying a house, that you can survive anything.  I'm pretty sure having your wife as your running coach may soon top that list!  One of the biggest things I realized this weekend is that now I want my own coach!  Admittedly I am one of the most stubborn people on the planet, so having an outside opinion to guide me through the process would be so nice.  I've always flown solo at the full marathon distance.  I lay out my own training and I run all of those long lonely miles by myself.  Sometimes just having someone who has "been there" is such a great resource.  
I was a little sad the course only lasted two days because I could sit through that stuff for days on end.  I've always loved to learn and now I crave more.  Oh how I wish I could back to college!  The RRCA is hoping to offer a Level II course and continuing education classes in the near future...I will be all over that!

Now I need a whistle.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Fall Racing Schedule

I feel like I should use the term "fall" lightly because in Texas we really just have hot and cold, with about 3 weeks worth of "fall" or "spring" weather tossed in there.  October through December is my favorite of the year!  Not only does it bring about much nicer running weather, but it's the holiday season, and it is FOOTBALL season!  The perfect Saturday consists of getting a nice long run in out at the lake, and then coming home to watch college football either from the comfort of the couch or a local patio.  It's the little things in life.

Now that I have laid out my marathon training plan (here) I can look ahead to the races I plan on tossing in there!  A few are tentative depending on how I'm feeling at that point.  One thing I loved about my San Fran training was I was able to work in several other races into the schedules.  It really helps to break up the monotony of training alone for months, and racing the distance you need is just more fun.

  • August 3 & 4 - RRCA Coaching Certification Course
  • September 21 - Tour des Fleurs 20K
  • October 12 - The Showdown Half Marathon
  • October 26 - Allstate 13.1 (tentative)
  • December 8 - Metro PCS Dallas Marathon
If any of you would like to join in the fun, let me know.  The more the merrier!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Adios comfort zone...

If you're looking to run your first full marathon, your first and most important goal should be just to FINISH!  You are about to put your body through something its never done before, so a wide array of things could go wrong along those 26.2 miles.  The goal in the back of your mind should always be, JUST FINISH!  Now that I have two full marathons under my belt, I feel like I understand the distance.  I understand what it takes to truly train for it, to hydrate for it, to fuel for it and to mentally prepare for it.  I also understand that I have SO much more to learn!  I don't know if you ever really "perfect" the art of the marathon. 

For my first marathon in NYC, I trained doing "just enough" to finish.  You know what, I finished...but I felt like death afterwards.  I wanted to cry from the pain and exhaustion (and the fact that we had to climb one billion subway stairs before making it back to the hotel).  I learned a lot from that experience.  After the race I swore I would never do it again and for awhile there I thought I would be a one-hit wonder.  It took me almost two years to gather up the balls to decide I wanted to go for it again.  I thought about it long and hard because I knew this time around what I was signing up for!  I told myself that if I was going to go through it again, I was going to try harder and train harder!  I wanted to get every single training run in, and if I missed a training run, the only acceptable excuse was an injury.  With the San Francisco course being incredibly hilly, I knew I would have to make the extra effort to drive out to an actual hill (not too many of those hanging around in the Dallas area) and run repeats on multiple occasions.  I also made the extra effort to really educate myself on the nutrition and hydration needed to make it through training and the race.  After months of training and combining all of those elements, my PR at San Francisco completely validated everything!  Yes, of course, the PR left me ecstatic.  More importantly though, after just having run 26.2 (26.58 to be exact) I felt fantastic, sure I was moving a little slow!  Unlike NYC, I didn't feel like complete death.  I didn't feel like my insides were about to come spewing out from all parts of my body.  I was so excited, full of energy, and could not stop smiling!  I actually got to ENJOY that finish and relish in the accomplishment with my husband and friends.

The way I felt afterwards spoke volumes about my extra efforts in training.  This isn't an attempt to toot my horn, but rather to show that the marathon shouldn't feel like death.  Now that I have a better handle on all of the components for good training, I decided it's time to focus on the miles themselves.  I've used a traditional training plan for my last two marathons.  Plans that focus on the infamous 20-miler at the peak of training.  These plans have served me well (I finished, remember?), but it's time to step outside of my comfort zone.  It's time to really focus on being strategic with training and also time to shake things up a bit.  That's why I have decided to go with The Hansons Marathon Method Beginner Program 

The training plan is based around the theory of cumulative fatigue which basically means, you train your body to run on tired legs.  Why?  You know what happens to your legs after mile 16 of a marathon?  They get tired.  Really really tired.  Most notable about the plan is that your longest run at any given point is 16 miles.  They completely toss the notion of the 20-miler out the window!  To be fair though, I think the 20 mile run is important for your first time around.  It's more of a mental test than anything else.  By the time you get around to that 20 mile run in training, you're completely dreading it, so just "doing it" is the real victory.  One of the creators of the plan, Kevin Hanson, explains it best, "It also means that when a Hanson's-trained runner sets off on a 16-miler, there’s already three workouts’ worth of fatigue in their legs. So it’s not like running the first 16 miles of a marathon, it’s more like the last."  My running doc and I have had a few conversations about this theory and at first I thought he was crazy.  How in the world could that ever really work?  After reading the Hansons book it makes complete sense.  Anything over 15-16 miles and our bodies kind of start to rebel.  By conditioning your legs to continue to crank out the miles even when they are pooped,  in theory those last ten miles come race day should be easy right?  I guess only time will tell.  This plan also incorporates specific Speed, Tempo, and Strength workouts that are based strictly around your goal pace.  Honestly, I've never really done any of that intentionally.  This plan is really calculated and goal focused which I love.  In addition to hill workouts, I'll also be spending some time at the track!

The plan itself seems daunting at first glance.  Running this many days per week is new to me.  Having a peak week of 57 miles is REALLY new to me!  "If you do what you always did, you will get what you've always got."  Could not be more applicable to running!  So for the Metro PCS Dallas Marathon coming up on December 8th, I'm saying adios to my comfort zone and hello to a new adventure....