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Archive for June, 2009

Run through it

Sunday, June 14th, 2009



“Run through it” are words sometimes used by runners or coaches when a runner experiences a cramp, mental limitation, or mild pain during a training run or race.  Many times we can “run through it” if it is a situation where we simply need to push “mind over matter.”  We all know it is not a good idea to run through an injury, but the coach in me thought it might be a good idea to mention that anyway.


We run through so many things – rain, sun, heat, humidity, pain, sadness, joy, depression, new places and old familiar ones, conversation, awkward silence, the past, the present, and we hope to continue running into the future.  I am blessed with a varied group of training partners.  I have trained through super chatty running buddies who don’t let you get a word in, but also some great conversations that have had some great give and take.  Once I ran an 11 miler with two guys and the three of us did not say a word.  I am pretty sure I was running fairly hard in order to keep up with them so a conversation was probably out of the question for me anyway, but I am sure there were moments of awkward silence.


Today I had the pleasure of running an easy seven miles with two of my high school runners.  They both run cross country, track, and lots of road races with me throughout the year.  We just came off a two-a-day workout on Friday which included the Picnic Island Adventure Run, an easy three miles on Saturday, plus a busy weekend and not enough sleep.  So the three of us, barely awake, started our weekly long run at a leisurely pace with a little conversation added in.  After a couple of miles I noticed that all three of us were silent.  We were approaching the turn around point and I became more and more aware of the silence and began thinking that it was awkward and I should break it with some small talk or something.  But, I didn’t.  I let myself run through the silence.  I let myself enjoy the run and just enjoy being with them.  On our way back with about a mile to go we started chatting again.


It wasn’t until a little later in the day that I really thought about the run and the silence.  I have known these two girls for almost four years now.  I realized that although I enjoy our conversations and hearing their perspectives on life, we are comfortable enough with each other that we can just be.  We can run, be together, enjoy being outside, respect each other’s work ethic and reasons for being out there, and not say a word.  Who knew running through silence would be so enlightening.

The Adventure Never Ends

Saturday, June 13th, 2009


I have been running and racing for 24 of my 35 years.  I have a difficult time imagining what life would be like without it.  During those years, I have participated in a wide variety of races, including cross country races (mostly 5K), track meets (800 meters, mile, 3000 meters, 5000 meters), and road races (mile, 5K, 4 mile, 8K, 5 mile, 10K, 13K, 15K, 10 mile, 20K, half marathon, marathon, and marathon relays).  I guess I thought I had “seen it all” until I was introduced to adventure running last year.


After so many years of training and racing, running is still my passion.  Sometimes the “same old” races just don’t light that competitive spark anymore.  Summers in Florida don’t offer much more than the usual hot, humid 5K.  When I first heard about the Picnic Island Adventure Runs last summer I was hesitant because I had concerns about crawling under a cargo net and going through, over, or under other obstacles.  Wouldn’t that slow me down?  What if my lack of coordination caused me to look silly or hurt something?


Luckily I put my fears aside and took the leap to try something new.  It was the best decision I ever made.  There are more adventure runs out there, but my experience is limited to the Picnic Island races.  I ran in two of them last summer and just finished my third Picnic Island Friday night.  These races are usually 3.1 to 3.3 miles in length and have really grown in popularity.  The May 2009 Picnic Island race had about 700 participants.


Each time I finish one, I feel inspired.  I don’t know exactly what it is.  It could be the fact that we don’t really know the exact distance of the race and there are no mile markers; the funny thing is that no one seems to care either.  Maybe it is the uneven terrain, sharp turns, single lane path through the mangroves, or the short, steep zig zag hills at the end.  Or it could be the return to childhood while crawling on hands and knees through sand under a cargo net, taking a sharp right turn, covered in sand, then running through big, inflated tubes, and with wobbly legs attempting to jump a big hurdle.  Each year there are three races over the summer and no two races have been the same.  One thing is for sure, I love the crazy terrain.  I find myself pushing the pace, pushing my limits just based on how I feel.  Time doesn’t mean much on Picnic Island.  My goal is to finish in the top 50 in order to receive an award at the finish line.  During the race I always seem to find a few people who become my short term goals.  I keep pushing the pace throughout the race so that when we get close to the finish line, my lungs are burning and I am gasping for breath.  That is when I feel so incredibly alive.


Friday, June 12, 2009 was the second of the three Picnic Island Adventure Runs.  There were five RunnerGirls pushing the limits Friday night.  Four of us finished in the top 50 and received hats at the finish line (Jessica Pate, Diana Nelson, Nicole Iglesias, and Rae Ann Darling Reed).  Our fifth runner (Clancy Vaughan) just missed it, placing 51st.  It was Clancy’s first experience at Picnic Island and I’m sure she’ll be back to try to get into that top 50.  Clancy will be in 8th grade at King Middle this fall.  She is an outstanding soccer player and has great potential as a runner.  Jessica Pate is a recent graduate of Manatee High where she was a state finalist in cross country and competed at region in track.  She will run for Furman University this fall.  Diana Nelson and Nicole Iglesias will be seniors at Manatee High in the fall.  They have both competed at the regional level in both cross country and track.  Nicole and Diana are outstanding student-athletes who will be team leaders in cross country, track, and basketball.  They are both three sport athletes who thrive on the diversity of their three sports.  This is very important in high school to avoid the burn out that often results in specializing in one sport too early in life.  After all, “variety is the spice of life.”


In comparing races to the “spices of life,” Picnic Island Adventure Runs would be something hot like cayenne pepper.  It’s not something you would do (or use) all the time, but it is exciting and different and can really spark a renewed passion for running, racing, and life.  It makes you feel alive.  As a warning, you may be sore in muscles you have forgotten about from crawling, jumping, and running the wild terrain, but you will smile thinking about how those muscles got that way.  The Picnic Island Adventure Run (or any adventure run in your area) might be exactly what you need to put that spark back in your running.  It is definitely one adventure I am glad I tried.


RunnerGirls at Picnic Island

RunnerGirls at Picnic Island





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