Monday, April 29, 2013

Running for my Dad in San Francisco is "Worth The Hurt"

The San Francisco Marathon offers a "Worth The Hurt" challenge that consists of running the marathon course TWICE within a 24 hour period.  Let me clarify that I am NOT doing that....that's just crazy talk and to the people who do run it all I can say is, you are amazing.  However, I think running what The Wall Street Journal called "the race even marathoners fear" is something worthy of a "Worth The Hurt" slogan.  The Weather Channel also named it #15 on The World's 15 Toughest Marathons

On Father's Day, June 16, I will be running 26.2 miles at the San Francisco marathon in honor of my Dad, and I've joined up with the Racing For A Cure Team that funds the Arthritis National Research Foundation! My Dad was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis a few years ago and over the years it has proven to be one of the most debilitating, painful, and downright ugly diseases. For those who know my Dad, you know that he is a busy body so when his flare ups result in him not being able to get out of bed, walk, raise his arms, etc. it's heartbreaking. This is a cruel disease that currently has NO cure.

If you know anyone who suffers from any form of arthritis including RA, Lupus, etc.  please consider making a donation and work towards finding a cure for this disease. 

While my Dad was never a runner, he has always been an extremely active person.  Since there is no cure for RA, you are basically at the mercy of medications that are a necessary evil.  Ones that in theory, could do more harm then good.  Ones that present the option of "quality of life over quantity of life".  It sucks.  When life gives you lemons, you shut up, make lemonade and get on with it right?   My Dad took Enbrel for quite some time to treat his RA....basically allowing him to walk.  Side effects include: lowering your immune system so you can't fight infection, increasing your risk of cancer, nervous system problems, blood problems, heart failure......see where I'm going with this?  So taking this allows someone to avoid being put in a wheelchair, but it may cause a slew of other potentially fatal issues?! Sounds like a decision that should just be made by flipping a coin.

After months, and months, and months of taking a WEEKLY injection of Enbrel (shooting potentially toxic medicine into your body every single week -- oh did I mention that each injection is almost as much as my mortgage payment?) we started looking into other options.  With those risks, there HAS to be something else, right?  Some of you may or may not be familiar with AdvoCare and the incredible benefits that it has for overall fitness, running, weight loss, and general health management.  One product that I knew could potentially help my Dad (or anyone with Arthritis) is called BioTools.  It is a natural alternative formulated with a unique nutrient and herbal blend that helps support cardiovascular, bone and joint, and gastrointestinal systems.  Even though I knew I could potentially help, I didn't talk to my Dad about it.  Why?  Because he is the type of person who will tell you when you're full of it, he doesn't need this or that, and to stop talking about any of that hokey pokey stuff.  He's a straight shooter and as honest as they come; it's where I get my brutal honesty from.  God help us all.  Anyways, my Dad ended up talking to my friend Krystal about BioTools and maybe it's because he didn't hear it from me that he actually wanted to try it.  I picked him up a 30-day supply and delivered it with the disclosure that as his daughter, I wanted him to be 100% completely honest with me about what he thought of it.  He agreed, and that was that.  About 5 weeks went by and I got a call from my Mom that said "We haven't wanted to say anything because we're so excited and don't want to jinx it, but the BioTools seems to be working.  Your Dad has NOT had to have an injection in over 4 weeks!".  My jaw literally dropped.  

Was it really working?  My Dad has continued on a steady supply of BioTools for 6 months now and I am proud to report that he is now OFF the injections completely, and his doctor approved him dropping back to a much less abrasive/mild medication that he takes orally once per day!  Given the severity of his RA, I was never expecting him to fully come off medication.  However, getting off the toxic injections that also cost an insane amount of money per month is a HUGE testimony!  If you know anyone who might benefit from this, please share my Dad's story.  As always, please consult your doctor as well.  You can also comment, or send me an email to


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Man, I bet you lose a ton of weight during marathon training!!"

I love talking with people who are interested in running.  It's obviously a passion of mine that I truly enjoy sharing with others.  Some people are surprised at the answers I give them to their questions, so I thought I'd put together a list of a few things that aren't so glamorous about this sport I love so much.  I should clarify that all of these are based on my own personal experiences.  Keeping in mind that I'm about as real as they come...if you don't want to read about poop or missing toenails, stop reading here.

10 Things That Aren't So Glamorous About Marathon Training
  1. "Man, I bet you lose a ton of weight during marathon training!!" - HAHA. Wrong.  This is a tricky one for me personally.  I've never been a naturally thin person so it is a daily battle to stay in shape.  When you start entering the final few weeks of training it becomes even harder.  To spare you a really long and boring you're mileage goes up, so does your appetite.  Also, your body starts to naturally store MORE glycogen (energy/carbs/sugars) in the latter weeks because it is smart enough to know that you're going to need it for those long runs.  My body appreciates the extra glycogen storage on those long runs, my skinny jeans on the other days do not appreciate it.  At all.        
  2. I'm willing to bet that the homeless people of Dallas have nicer looking feet than I do.  I haven't had a pedicure in months.  Why?  As relaxing and enjoyable as they are, do you know how hard I've worked to get calluses on my feet?  Calluses = blister protection ladies and gentleman.  Not to mention, when you have water ski feet like myself, you have to keep your toenails extra short.  Why?  Because black toenails are no laughing matter.  Safety first for your feet folks, safety first.  (Oh, did I mention bunions?....almost as cool as FunYuns)  I'm sexy and I know it.
  3. The need to hydrate and drink unearthly amounts of water every day can be downright nauseating.  I drink about 150 oz per day which results in me spending the majority of the day in the bathroom.  Seriously considering just moving my office into the bathroom. 
  4. One of the things people ask about most or wonder about is "People don't really poop their pants do they?!".  The answer to that is why yes, yes they do.  However, it has not happened to me.  Thank God.  A few close calls admittedly.  Watching what you eat during the 48 hours leading up to long runs/races so you don't crap your pants, is a vital part of training.  Which leads me to my next topic..... 
  5. Port-O-Potties!  I used to be like every other female and would gag in disgust at the thought of using a port-o-potty.  Nowadays, I can get in and out of the ol Johnny-On-The-Spot using only the tip of my pinkie to open and shut the door.  I've mastered the art of squat and do your business.  Although squatting after running 18+ miles is no easy ask, your main objective then is to just not fall over during said squat.  I no longer fear the Port-O-Potty, it can be your best friend....reference back to #4.
  6. A long run on Saturday = giving up doing anything remotely fun on a Friday night.  I always say that marathon training is a family commitment.  I am SO thankful my husband fully supports me and deals with all of these things with me.   
  7. The last few weeks of training I am always tired....all the time.  Which makes me extra cranky. (sorry Brandon)
  8. I'm also hungry.....all the time.  It's constant.  I eat anywhere between 2,000-2,200 calories per day.  Obviously I'm not stuffing my face with cheeseburgers to meet those numbers, so I feel like I'm constantly eating.  Being hungry also makes me very cranky (sorry Brandon) so travel with snacks.  I'm like a toddler.  If Nalgene made a sippy cup, I'd own one. 
  9. For the ladies: Aunt Flo just shows up whenever the hell she wants to.   Oh, so you mean the exhaustion and the aching muscles and joints weren't enough?!  As if there was ever a doubt, God was totally a dude.   Well played universe, well played.
  10. Die Bagel. Die. That's how I feel about bagels.  I only continue to tolerate them because they sit well in my stomach.  Again, reference #4 for any additional questions.  I fully plan to boycott bagels once San Francisco is over.
In a lot of ways, I compare the last few weeks of training to what I can only imagine its like to be 9  months pregnant.  You're tired, you're hungry, something always hurts, your body starts to do weird things, and you're just beyond ready for the "big event" to finally arrive.  Difference is, I get a big shiny medal afterwards and you get a screaming baby.  Mothers really should get a medal after birthing a child, surely there is some birth control company out there that would sponsor that, right?!

Do yourself a favor and watch this.  It's all true.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

17 Mile Run...when everything starts to hurt.

Earlier this week after my hill session, I strained my right calf.  I'm not talking a little bit.....I'm talking 'wincing in pain every time I took a step' strained.  Obviously when you're this far into training and less than two months away from race day, minor panic mode sets in.  On Wednesday I called my doctor and left him a voicemail saying/begging to get me in because I couldn't run.  I'm not one to swallow my pride and was pathetic....but it worked.  I can only assume that when a doctor who specializes in runners gets a message that says one of his patients can't run, he understands that this isn't an injury just blown out of proportion.

Just a little side note about my doc...I started seeing him back in November for my ongoing knee problems.  I swore off any sort of "sports doctor" about 2 years ago simply because it was always the same thing.  I would take time out of my busy day, go wait for an hour to actually see the doctor, he would say "ice it and stay off it for six weeks", I'd pay a ridiculous amount of money and be on my merry way.  Telling a runner "to stay off it for six weeks" is like a death sentence.  Ok, maybe that's a little drastic but it's pretty darn close.  My doc was referred to me by another runner who does ultras and obviously knows their stuff.  I am SO thankful I took a chance! 

He was able to work me in on Wednesday and spent almost two hours working on this calf.  After treatment I have followed the daily regimen of heat/stretch/ice every night.  Seeing as how I had only run on Monday, I was a bit nervous about how 17 miles might feel.

Saturday I woke up, went through my normal pre-long run routine and off we went to White Rock.  The first two miles I felt some minor twinges of pain but since I hadn't run in a few days, I wanted to give myself a few miles to just get warmed up before I made the call.  About mile 4 things started to really pick up.  The sun was shining, there was a nice cool breeze, and my leg felt pretty away we go for 17 miles!  Then the real adventure started!!   About mile 6 I came across the bridge over by the dog park (if you've run there, you know exactly what I'm talking about) and BAM, thousands of walkers were out there to support the March of Dimes.  Let me preface this by saying that it is an amazing cause.  The signs that they had posted along their route that honored so many young children who lost their lives far before their time were just heartbreaking.  I was also loving so many out there being active!  One thing I do have to say is.....please be aware of your surroundings.  Share the road.  Control your children.  With that many people around on such a narrow path, someone could get seriously hurt.  But I digress....

With no end in site to that group, I opted for a 2 mile detour through the trails.  Luckily I know my way around and it was kind of refreshing to take a new route.  I dropped back out on the path right as their group was making the turn.  Fabulous!  I kept on trucking along and came up on the 9 mile mark, waved to Brandon, and continued on around.  About mile 11 a branch (literally came out of nowhere) and sliced open my calf and ripped right through my KT Tape like it was butter.  I'm not even kidding when I say that my heart skipped a beat.  It happened so fast and was so painful that I honestly thought a snake had bitten me.  I stopped to check for bite marks and realized it was just a cut, whew.

Two things I learned from this run:

1) I'm going to need to arrange to get a fresh new water bottle somewhere around the 9-10 mile mark.  I've adopted a new fueling plan which has me taking in about 1/2 - 3/4 of a packet of Gu every 35-40 minutes.  It has worked remarkably well for me, however, it requires me taking in more water than I'm used to. 

2) I've really struggled with scaling back and controlling my pace.  It is actually quite hard to scale it back and stick there.  I am gradually getting better but even my splits prove that I'm still going out just a tad too fast.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Run for Boston - Hill Repeats

Monday, April 15, 2013 will forever be etched in my memory.  A day that so many runners have worked for months, some even years to get to.  Miles of blood, sweat, and tears lead up to what is supposed to be one of the most glorious moments for any runner....but instead was taken away by the cowardly acts of two angry and disturbed individuals.  If you're not familiar with the history behind the Boston Marathon I encourage you to do a little research.  It's a race that many of us will never to get to experience, simply because of the qualification standards.  As a runner who isn't very fast, I am always so in awe of the runners who are "Boston Qualified" and have the utmost respect for their level of talent and dedication to this sport.

When the news of the bombs started to unfold, my phone/email/facebook messages started going crazy.  I was overwhelmed by those who were checking to make sure that I for starters wasn't running it, and to get my thoughts on it.  Honestly, I still don't even think I could put into words how heartbreaking it is.  As an American and specifically as a runner who knows what it takes to be a "marathoner" it stung. 

After work I drove out to the infamous hill as I had already planned on a hill session that evening.  I was exhausted (mentally and physically) and downright sad.  My heart was sad.  Knowing that I needed to get this session in, I just started running.  After the first two repeats I just wanted to quit....but then I got mad.  I got mad at the cowards who took away the glory of that day for so many runners.  I got mad that they tried to taint our sport.  Running is about WAY more than just fitness for me and so many others.  Running is my team to think, to pray, and to let my mind aimlessly wander for hours.  It's where I find peace.   They were trying to ruin my peaceful place to which  I say "To hell you are!".  All of my thoughts immediately shifted from a sad place, to an angry place and I just took off.  The greatest way to honor the Boston runners and the fans who were senselessly injured or killed is get off your butt and RUN.  I ended up doing 11 repeats for a total elevation climb (uphill only for those who don't know) of 506 feet!  This was my best session to date and a workout I will never forget.

Runners are a special breed.  Do you think you're going to stop a group of people who give up hours of their lives to put their bodies through so much pain, who wake up at 5am every day for a run to beat the sunrise, who think it's totally normal to have black or missing toenails, who spend countless dollars on therapy and doctors visits just so they can wake up each day and do it all over again?  Lots of people don't understand us, or call us crazy....I like it that way.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week 15 of Marathon Training

This always feels like the week that marathon training really starts.  I know it's been going on for months but once you start creeping past the 13 mile mark, you've crossed over into a whole new world.  Muscles and joints start to hurt a little more frequently, the need for sleep is more important than ever, and I can't even begin to describe that constant annoying feeling of always being hungry.

On Saturday, we made our usual trip out to White Rock.  In Texas, we don't get very many days with this type of glorious weather so I enjoyed every last second of it.  The sun was beaming down which ultimately led to quite the sunburn and the start of a super sexy sports bra tan.  My husband says that it's a sign of an athletic woman and that it's sexy.  Good answer ;-)  As long as you feel that way dear, I won't let it bother me.

Being that this was my first "real" training run for the marathon, my goal was to pace along comfortably since my legs were still a bit tired from the hilly half marathon run last weekend.  I cruised along at about a 10:48 pace, with only one stop to walk for one minute at mile 13.5.  This was the point that the heat started to take it's toll.  Even a high of 75 can get uncomfortable so it's time to start going back to a 5:30am wake up call on a Saturday. 

All-in-all it was a good run based on the expectations I had set.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hill Work On a Treadmill = boring

Between the events of today and the nasty weather, it took every ounce of motivation to get my butt in gear for my hill workout.  I compromised and decided to do a hill session on the treadmill.  It was a great workout but nothing beats going to "the hill" in Allen.

1 Mile Warm Up

Workout: The Pyramid
Set 1: steady pace 1 minute each @ 4, 5 and 6 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 2: steady pace 1 minute each @ 5, 6 and 7 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 3: steady pace 1 minute each @ 6, 7 and 8 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 4: steady pace 1 minute each @ 7, 6 and 5 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 5: steady pace 1 minute each @ 6, 5 and 4 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

1 Mile Cool-Down followed by stretching and ice.

Better than nothing I suppose.

The Fairview Half Marathon - April 6, 2013

I've been looking forward to this inaugural event for quite some time!  The Fairview Half Marathon is put on by The Active Joe race series and with this being the first event, it was a HUGE success!  We raced our first Active Joe event back in October 2012 and we are hooked.  The Active Joe puts people before profit, which leads to an amazing race experience.

This was my 3rd half marathon in less than 6 weeks and this race wrapped up Week 14 of 24 for San Francisco Marathon training, so I was honestly expecting a terrible finish time.  The course is absolutely gorgeous but you battle rolling hills for the entire 13.1 miles (My Garmin stated 13.38 miles.  I know to expect a variance but sheesh).  When I ran this course back in October I was not trained properly which led to me cursing each and every one of those hills for days to follow.

Fairview 13.1 Splits

Miles 1-3:  When I started running, I immediately thought "oh, this is going to suck".  There was a stabbing pain in the bottom of left foot, and another nagging pain in my front right shin (which was new to me).  I figured that this was my body's way of payback for making this my 3rd race in 6 weeks.  To distract from the pain at about mile 2, I found the 2:15 pace group and decided to focus on just staying with them.

Miles 4-8:  At about mile 4 you encounter a pretty groan-worthy climb.  At this point I was still with the pace group but come mile 5 I found my groove.  I picked up the pace a little bit and just started relaxing and enjoying the scenery.  One of the things I love most about this race/course is the scenery.  Instead of running through the same ol' overly crowded and overpriced Dallas neighborhoods, this course takes you through the countryside.  Wave to the cows....wave to the horses and goats....wave to the country folk who were out there cheering us on in their pj pants while sipping their coffee.

Miles 9-13:  When you turn the corner into mile 9-ish not only is there another doozy of a climb, but that wind slapped you in the face like it has something to prove!  My pace slowed for about a mile which doesn't surprise me.  I felt like I was moving in slow motion.  Getting to mile 10 is the point in the race where you start reminding yourself, "The faster I run, the faster this is over with."  My usual self motivation worked and I picked up the pace.  When I came up to the 13 mile marker I just laughed because I knew that there was much more than a .1 left to go.  Such is life in the world of racing.  I came across the finish line with a 2:14:13 time and I was happy with it!  I went back to look at my time from when we ran this course in October in which I finished with a 2:27:51 time.  I shaved almost 14 MINUTES off my time!  Seeing progress like that is what keeps me going.  >pats self on back<

The course is hard but the reward is so worth it.  The Active Joe always puts other races to shame with the AWESOME bling that is not only beautiful, but huge!  I can't wait for The Showdown race this October!! 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rock N' Roll Dallas Half Marathon - March 24, 2013

Let me set the scene for was about 37 degrees outside but had a real temp feel of 28 degrees, with a lovely 20mph sustained wind on top of that.  IT. WAS. COLD.  For those that know me you know there are two things I really hate in life: fish and cold weather.

I didn't say too much about it during training but I really wanted to PR this race.  I knew I could do it, but didn't want to jinx it.  My previous PR was actually set at this race, on the same course, in March 2011.  My objective for this race was to pull a negative split.  I knew the first half of the course was a steady uphill so I paced it out really well and then went for it on the back half.  Voila!  I set a new PR!  2:11:02 made that blistering cold wind all worth it.

Thank you Garmin for making splits so easy to read:

This PR gave me the confidence boost I needed to carry on with training for the San Francisco Marathon in June!  This race along with the New Orleans RnR half (February 2013) and The Fairview Half Marathon (April 6, 2013 - separate post about that doozy) are all a part of my training plan.  It has been so fun incorporating big races into training.  If you've ever trained for a full marathon you'd probably agree that it can be a long lonely sport at times.  I typically enjoy running solo and prefer it that way, but just the excitement of others around me on race day gives me the added boost to keep pushing.

I'm not a fan of the Competitor Group and how they are money grubbing corporate smucks.  HOWEVER, I do enjoy running this race every year.  Something about it (maybe those two PR's help) just has a sentimental value with me.  You'll see me again next year....

Hey look, I made a blog.

I've been pondering starting a blog for quite some time now.  1 marathon and 11 half marathons later I figured it might be time to start actually documenting my races.  My memory isn't the best and years down the road I want to have something to look back on.  For training purposes I also want to track my progress, see where my weaknesses are, and hopefully improve upon my mistakes.

If this blog inspires anyone else to get moving and start running, then my time spent here is twice as worth it.