Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Runner's Rambles: Vacation Running and National Running Day

Happy National Running Day!! It's one of the best holidays of the year! I celebrated with a short night run
after work. I absolutely love running at night during the summer. I'm not really sure why because it is usually still pretty hot at night because the heat radiates up from the pavement, but I guess I just like that I feel less exposed when it's dark. Believe me, I wear plenty of reflective gear to try my best to be seen by cars, but I just feel more like I'm flying than running at night even though I am not fast enough to consider what I do flying.

I am happy to say that my Summer Streak is firmly intact after going on a trip to Colorado to see two of my good friends get married! I got altitude sickness after their mountain top wedding, but even though they were probably the slowest miles of my life, I still ran at least one mile every day! Running can be difficult on vacation to say the least, but if you don't have to do super long runs, and your spouse or family doesn't mind you logging a few miles, then it is definitely doable! I just hopped on the hotel's "dreadmill" most days, but I did log some miles on a nearby trail!

At Garden of the Gods with my handsome husband, Matthew!

Garden of the Gods

Mountain View during my last run in Colorado

We got to go to the Olympic Training Center.
As another gift to me for NRD, when I went to my chiropractor this morning, he said that I am ready for PT, and I can start slowly increasing my daily mileage! So I upped my mileage a bit tonight as well! I am a bit bummed that my running in my current neighborhood is coming to an end this week as I officially move out to the 'burbs, but I am mainly bummed that I never figured out where the house is that JLaw "lived in" in Silver Linings Playbook. I will not at all miss the ridiculous traffic and getting honked at every day even though I am on the sidewalk out of the way. On one hand, I am pretty excited to find new routes after I move. On the other hand, I am not stoked that I have to go through runs in an unfamiliar place, so I will likely have some good stories about getting lost!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Get Your Streak On!

Best message for day one!
Ok, so it's back again. The Streak! Runner's World always challenges runners to streak from Thanksgiving to New Year's because most people tend to hit the slump at that point in their fitness. Most of us have finished races, it starts getting cold, there are tons of get-togethers with friends and family filling up schedules, and most of us start indulging in those holiday treats! The streak just helps as some motivation to stay active during busy times when it's easy to put running in the background.

It would stand to reason that once the weather is beautiful it would be easier to stay active, but that's not always the case. I have tapered my running after competing my goal of getting into Half Fanatics, and my marathon training doesn't start for about a month. And my chiropractor has had me scale back after the pinched nerve caused me so much trouble at my last half. So I decided to join in the RW Summer Run Streak from Memorial Day to July 4th. You don't even have to streak all the way to Labor day, so it's really not that bad. 40 days is less than the winter streak I did.

I was apprehensive at first because we are getting ready to take a trip out to CO for my friends' wedding, and we are moving as soon as we get back. I figured running on vacation, even if it is only one mile, was pushing it a bit because Matt's not a runner, and I didn't want to clog up our mornings with trying to fit in a short run in a place that I am not familiar with the roads. I mentioned yesterday afternoon that I wasn't going to do it, but then Matt told me that I should! He said, "So what if we are on vacation... hit the treadmill... it's one mile." So I went out for a run yesterday evening, and then enlisted family members with only a little bit of pushing for a couple of them so that I could have some accountability. Let's see how this goes!


Thanks for the accountability from Anna, Joe, Katie, and Grace!!!! Now, go run!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What if everybody ran?

I always say that I know not everyone enjoys running. I meet people at work who tell me that they hate running, but they do it to stay healthy or that they walk because they are fine with walking, but running sucks. I usually smile and make some platitude about how I understand that it's not for everyone. My own husband hates running, unfortunately. And there was even a time in my life when I hated running. But I fell in love with running, and though I may not be able to transfer that love to everyone, I do hope that everyone finds something that empowers them and makes them feel the way running makes me feel.

Well, Mizuno asked the question that I have wondered since I fell in love with running. What if everybody ran? They commissioned a statistical analysis to answer that question. They give all kinds of cool information on  their website. They state that there would be 20 million more great-grandmothers, 7 billion more hours spent outdoors, $143 billion fewer dollars spent on healthcare, 46% fewer homeless people, and many other cool statistics.

There is a non-profit that started in Philadelphia called Back On My Feet. It is now in several US cities, and its purpose is to help homeless people gain employment and housing through a program that has running at its core. When I told my husband about BOMF a few months ago, he didn't understand how running helps homeless people. I am a runner; I get it. Running changed my life. On top of that, I worked with another nonprofit in West Philly that helps homeless mothers and their children get off the street and back on track to go to school, get a job, and learn other important life and parenting skills. BOMF that having something like running that gives someone a sense of empowerment, discipline, and focus can make a big difference in someone trying to change their life.

So Mizuno has created an app called the Mizuno Baton that can be downloaded on apple or android devices. You get one week to log as many miles as you can, and Mizuno will donate money to BOMF for each mile that is logged. If you want to change your body, then exercise. If you want to change your life, then become a runner. Mizuno is also giving runners the chance to change other people's lives. So download the app, and help change a life.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The lowdown on the up top!

So women come in the store I work in all the time asking about headbands reluctantly. They see my short
medium sweatyband
hair and tend to politely brush off what I am saying about headbands. Here's the thing though, I used to have long hair, and believe me it is much harder to deal with short hair as a runner than long hair. When I had long hair, I threw it up in a bun, and off I went. I have thick and naturally...curly isn't the right word...Hagrid. That's it. I have naturally Hagrid hair. You know, Hagrid from Harry Potter? It can be hard to tame, and when I get all sweaty? Forget it! So, I consider myself qualified to give some advice on keeping your hair out of your way when running.

When I still had long hair, I was a fan of Sweatybands. They stay in place without a lot of fidgeting mid-run to get it back in place or anything. Sweatybands have a velvet backing on the inside of the headband that helps it catch and stay in place. There are three different sizes of Sweatybands (thin, medium, and thick), and they have tons of fun prints and designs. The section of the headband that goes around the back of the head is a thin elastic strap, so it isn't thick and uncomfortable with velvet all the way around your head. The thing about them though, is the same catch that I have found with all running headbands. It needs to be worn close to the hairline in order to stay in place...it is called a SWEATYband after all. It is supposed to catch sweat.

thick sweatyband--to prevent slipping
wear running headbands close to the hairline
The Takeaway: I have used them when running with short hair, but I still have to do so many other things to keep my hair out of the way. I think these are great for runners with long hair, and for pulling back bangs when you have longer hair.

Price: $15-18
Hippie Runner 4head band
worn for style instead of
function

I recently picked up some new headbands at a race expo, and I fell in love! I bought 5 Hippie Runner 4head headbands. They are made from moisture
How to properly wear Hippie band
wicking material, and they are thicker in the front and thinner in the back, but not as thin as Sweatybands. They are also to be worn a little further forward on the head because it sort of sticks to your skin to stay in place. They have tons of fun color options, and they really do wick away sweat while also keep hair out of your face! They even have men's options for guys who want to keep sweat off their faces or tame their manes!

The Takeaway: I think they look way cooler on longer hair, but it keeps short hair completely out of the way, and absolutely no slipping if worn partially on the forehead. I also love the affordability! These are my new favorite running essential!

Price: $5 each   And if you buy 4, you get one free!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Race Recap: Delaware Marathon Festival Half

Yep! Set a Saturday alarm
for a Sunday race!
Ya know that feeling when you wake up before your alarm feeling well-rested? I LOVE that feeling. Those are the best days. I had that feeling for a split second today, and then I noticed the light streaming in through the curtains...and then I panicked. I grabbed my phone to see the time, and it was 6:35. Which would be great on any normal day, except  that I needed to leave by 6:20 for this race. The half start time was 7:20, and I don't even live in Delaware! I may have broken a couple traffic laws on the way to Wilmington this morning. I surprisingly found parking pretty quickly, but I forgot to make sure I knew where I parked so that I could find my way back after the race. I just ran down to the start because I could already hear the relays starting when I got out of the car.

Just barely made it!
I got to the starting line just in time to find a place at the back, and I was trying to calm my nerves. I think I used all the adrenaline I had in my body during the sprint to get dressed and get there on time. Then I was all freaked out. I was slow and in a bit of pain at the beginning, but I kept telling myself to just take it slow and easy at the beginning to make it easier to pick it up at the end. By about mile 4, my right hip was hurting. No, I didn't wear my Hokas, and now I am sort of wishing that I had. It only got worse throughout the race. When I got to mile 5 at 55 min, I sort of did "bad math," as Matt would say, so I basically wrote the whole thing off and decided to just walk whenever I felt like it. I figured there was no way that I could PR, so I basically decided it wasn't worth killing myself when my hip hurt.

Around mile 9 I realized that I kind-of-sort-of had a shot at possibly matching my PR from Caesar Rodney, so I tried to just push through. I made it up the hill at Rodney Square without walking!! But I noticed that I only made it 12.5 miles in the time I was trying to match, so I decided to walk part of the downhill to the finish. It was sooooo hot, and I just didn't know if I could make it that last half mile without puking everywhere. I am so thankful for the shade on the majority of the course, and for the bag of ice cubes at the end of race! I am still feeling a little over heated even though it's been several hours since the finish.
My Wrightsock failed me!
I got a lovely stroll in after eating my ice cream sandwich because I couldn't find the car. I eventually stumbled upon the lot I had parked in, and to my dismay, I had a blister when I took off my shoes! I did ok on the toenail front, which is good since this is the race that caused my toe nail to lift up last time, and it is just now getting back to normal! I did tell Matthew that it looks like I have to do this race one time because last year we took the wrong exit and had trouble finding a place to park, and then I barely made it there this time! All-in-all, I suppose I should be happy with today's race because I officially get to fill out my application for Half Fanatics, I didn't walk up the hill at Rodney Square, and I get about a month of running just to run and maintain until NYC Marathon training starts!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Runniversary

May is a month that holds a special place in my heart. May is the month where the two loves in my life forged new paths to the beginning of the rest of my life. Two years ago on my 8th, my handsome Matthew (finally) asked me to marry him (sort of). We've discussed it, and I honestly don't remember him actually asking me to marry him, but he was on one knee with a beautiful ring, and now we're married. I don't ever want to imagine what my life would be like without him. But what about my other love? Running.

On May 7th 2011, I went to the middle school track where I lived at the time to log 3 miles in my prep for half marathon training. That's right. I  was training for training. I had signed up for the Kansas City Half Marathon because my family laughed and said there was no way I could run a half marathon. My family jumped on board after I showed them that I really was training and putting in some work.

After my first half marathon
My life has changed so much since then. I have moved half way across the country, completed five half marathons, a marathon, and tons of other races of varying distances. I left my job as a teacher and program director to work for a running specialty store, and I am one half marathon and a few days away from becoming a Half Fanatic. In about a month, I will begin training for my second marathon. I have come so far and run so far, but I still have miles and miles to go in becoming the best version of myself.

Marathon Finishers!
Running is something that is so hard to explain to non-runners. Running is such an amazing powerful experience that I wish I could share with everyone. It sounds so cliche, but it is truly a parallel for life. There are times when running gets tough and tests you to see what you're made of. Will you dig deep and find a way to push through as best you can, or will you give up? That's what running and life demand of you. There are times when I love running, and times when I want to give up, but I keep going back out. Running reminds me of all I have to be thankful for and what I am really made of. I am capable of so much more than others give me credit for, and often times more than I give myself credit for. I have been running for 3 years, and it seems so much longer and shorter all at the same time. I am looking forward to all the lessons, beauty, and progress that my fourth year and all the years to come hold in store for me. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Racing Recap: Valley Forge Revolutionary Run

After running two half marathons this spring, I was a bit thrown off guard running the Rev Run today at Valley Forge National Historic Park. I have been having some trouble over the past week or so with shinsplints. I have pretty much figured out that these are due to tight calf muscles, so I have been spending time with my lovely foam roller. (Yes, "lovely" was sarcastic.) Heading out for this race was tricky for me from the beginning, so I am just going to break this review down into Pros, Cons, and Racing Edition Runner's Rambles.

PROS
I got to run a race in a National Park "with" one of my friends, Mark, and his awesome wife and super adorable son cheered us on. My boss Terry did his run in the park today running in the opposite direction, so I got a little bit of on-course cheering as well. I almost stopped to stretch and walk a little more than really necessary, but seeing Terry coming toward me made me keep running. Thanks, Terry! The Fast Tracks running club had a high-energy and peppy water stop at the half way mark. There was also quite a spread at the post-race tent. And lastly, at this particular time, it was nice to just have a five miler.

CONS
Did you see what I did there with the quotation marks in the first line of the second paragraph? Mark is way faster than me.... So I need to get myself in gear and really start training and working on speed if I am going to keep up with Mark at the NYC Marathon this fall. This course was seriously hilly. Why don't I learn to check these things before I sign up for THREE hilly races in one season? It was only five miles, so I was thrown off due to getting to mile four before I realized I was almost done instead of just starting, so at that point, I realized that I should have just pushed harder. We'll come back to this point in Rambles! And the post-race was packed with stuff, but hard to navigate to find anything. I kept SEEING people with bagels, but it took me nearly ten minutes to FIND the bagels. There were lots of people, and everything was packed into some fairly small tents. 

RACING EDITION RUNNER'S RAMBLES
One of my co-workers always asks me the same question every time I start whining... I whine a lot, which I think everyone has figured out by now. "Are you feeling discomfort or pain?" You see, discomfort is not the same as pain. My brother would say that pain is a good thing. Joe is one of those "No pain, no gain!" kind of people. I would say that's from being in the military, but he has been that way since we were kids. I am not that kind of person, thus the whining. 
But discomfort, that's a different story, and I didn't realize that until I was running today. And unfortunately, I didn't figure that out until mile four. You see, an oyster creates a pearl because a foreign object creates discomfort, and it begins coating the object with a substance that creates the beautiful pearl. Pain though, pain is the body's signal that something is wrong. Pain is not good, but discomfort can be. It can push us to make pearls out of problems. Did I really need to stop three times to stretch today? Eh, probably not, but better safe than sorry for now. But now I know that I need to pay closer attention to my body to figure out if it is in pain or just uncomfortable. It's time for this runner to start creating some pearls!