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Posts Tagged ‘running clubs’

It’s pretty much all runnable except…

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Words I had never heard describe a race course before I asked what the Paris Mountain 16K Trail Race was like: “It’s pretty much all runnable except the ten minutes it takes to ‘hike’ up the mountain.” I have to thank Brian G. who not only answered my question on facebook the night before the race but who also saved a few of us with excellent directions out on the course.

Typically my vacations involve a race so when a friend who attends Furman University in Greenville, SC invited me to visit her for the weekend, she not only found a great, inexpensive flight for me but a trail race. I booked the ticket and signed up for the race without even researching it. During my trip from Florida to South Carolina, I decided to find out more about this Paris Mountain trail race I was about to run. The distance was perfect since I was scheduled to run ten miles on Saturday anyway. I found the Greenville Track Club – Trail Runners group on facebook, posted my question, and received some very interesting answers.

Nervous about running up a mountain, I awoke race morning to SNOW! Yes, snow on November 1st.

What is that white stuff over Greenville!?! ;)

I was definitely having second thoughts about doing this race. I mean, I moved to Florida almost 20 years ago to escape this weather. We arrived at Paris Mountain at 7:00 a.m. in complete darkness after a short snow removal session so we could see out the car windows.

“What’s an ice scraper?” was her response when I asked if she had one. Riley is a Florida native. ;)

Dreading the cold, I picked up my bib number and started to warm up in the parking lot. I was wearing all the layers of running clothes that I brought with me. After jogging and doing my dynamic warm up, I felt warm enough to remove some layers so I raced in shorts, a long sleeve shirt, a light jacket, and gloves. I am so thankful that I packed my Brooks Adrenaline trail shoes! That extra tread definitely saved me on the slippery course.

Right before the start, the race director told us to take a map or follow the guy in front of us since all the course markings were washed away by the snow and rain. We were also offered a bottle of water to carry since they did not want to put volunteers out on the course in this cold weather to hand out water. I really did not know what to expect. The biggest hill I train on is the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota.

The course was beautiful. As we ascended Paris Mountain all I could think about was the beauty all around me. I wished I had a camera to try to capture it. Almost the entire trail was single track with lots of rocks, roots, twists, turns, and wet leaves. I just kept repeating to myself: “breathe, focus, and lift your feet.” Once we reached the part that was not runnable I tried to enjoy the scenery and take it all in but I had to focus even more on the terrain so I would not trip or fall behind. The higher we went up the mountain, the more snow we encountered. The wind was whipping the snow off the trees so it felt like it was snowing on us.

Once we began the descent, the race was really on. I moved from third female to first and ran down those hills and switchbacks with reckless abandon like I used to in my high school and college cross country days. I don’t remember thinking about speeding up; it was like instinct just took over. I earned my patch as the overall female winner of the race. I’d like to say that the mountain and those hills were no match for this Florida girl but even four days after the race I had to walk backwards down the stairs.

Huge thank you to Riley for being my #1 supporter (well, she did talk me into this race) & taking photos! :)

 

She thought it was just hilarious that I had to walk downstairs backwards.

Links:

Award Winners

Overall Results

Running Journal

Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The Suncoast Striders started out in 2006 as a club based out of On A Shoestring Inc., the local specialty running store in Bradenton, Florida. They offered an organized walk/run on Monday nights for customers, friends, and family, basically anyone in the community who was interested in walking or running as a way to get in shape. The club was originally named after the store. After a few years the club officers saw a need for a walking and running club that offered more opportunities for walkers and new runners to train and receive coaching advice on a regular basis. The need for a club to help local charities organize fundraiser races also grew. In 2010 the name changed to what it is today:  Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club.

From SuncoastStriders.com: “The mission of the Suncoast Striders is to promote walking and running as a way to achieve a healthy and fit way of life through group training opportunities, community events, and coaching.” The club’s focus has always been on encouraging all ages and all abilities to become more active. Sadly, On A Shoestring Inc. closed April 30, 2013 but the Suncoast Striders have thrived, offering four group training opportunities per week plus numerous social events throughout the year. There is literally something for everyone. They promote walking as an excellent form of exercise when many local clubs focus only on their fast runner members. While the faces in the weekly training groups change from season to season with the weather, work and vacation schedules, time changes, and the different events they train for, the heart of the club is a strong group of individuals striving to make our community a healthier one.

Most recently they awarded their second annual running camp scholarship. This news was featured on Running Journal’s website: http://tinyurl.com/ss14schol. The Suncoast Striders offer incentives for their members through programs like the 1,000 Mile Club / 500 Mile Club and summer group run/walk attendance contest where members are challenged and encouraged to be consistent in their training, track their mileage, and attend more group training sessions. The club hosts a number of social events, including picnics and movie nights.

2014 Scholarship Recipient Sydney Britt of Manatee High and Coach Rae Ann

One of the most memorable moments for the club was when well over a dozen members decided to train together for the inaugural Celebration Marathon and Half Marathon in January of 2014. They spent 18 weeks working together and encouraging each other through some tough training, weather, and dark winter nights. But that is how they all made it to the finish line. For many, it was their first ever marathon or half marathon. At such a small, first year event it felt like the Suncoast Striders owned that finish line. One member even bought mylar blankets for everyone in the club so they could be wrapped up once they crossed the line and have that big marathon finish line experience.

This quote, shared by Suncoast Striders member Laura, describes the club very well: “Running has given me many things but the greatest gift has been the people that it’s brought into my life.” Thoughts from Maggie: “I enjoy being part of the Suncoast Striders because I have met so many wonderful people who want to live a healthy and active life. Also it’s not just about walking/running, but making lifetime friendships and going to social activities together.” Another comment from Laura: “I love the Suncoast Striders because I feel like I am at the bar Cheers where everyone knows your name except we drink Gatorade and water instead of beer! I get a great workout and training but also true friends to run with.” From Katie: “Through The Suncoast Striders Walking/Running Club, I have met a great group of like-minded individuals. Together, we strive to be better than we were yesterday. To me, being a Suncoast Strider is about friendship and consistency.”

Follow the Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club on https://www.facebook.com/SuncoastStriders and https://twitter.com/SuncoastStrider

The Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and USA Track & Field (USATF) club with certified running and walking coaches.  SuncoastStriders.com

 

Suncoast Striders before a Sunday group run/walk

Listening at the Midnight Run

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

After several weeks of physical therapy, cross training, and not running, I was cleared to start running again. I followed my physical therapist’s advice and literally started with five minutes of running and only increased by two minutes each day. My hamstring and piriformis were still a little painful and tight but definitely better than before I began the physical therapy and what seemed like a never ending rest period. Perhaps I was overly cautious, but I didn’t want to rush back and have another set-back.

After many weeks of doing more walking than running plus my half-hearted attempt at cross training, I soon found myself heading to Dunedin, Florida in a rain storm for the July Fourth Midnight 10K Run that I had signed up for months ago. As an over racer (recovering) I tend to sign up for races very early when they catch my interest. I was excited about the overnight trip and racing at 12:15 a.m. with friends from my S2 Timing racing team and fellow Suncoast Striders but not very excited about racing ten kilometers. I purposely did not bring my racing flats or “lucky” bracelet and earring that indicate (to myself at least) that I am in race mode.

I first discovered the phrase “listen to your body” when I read the many incredible books by George Sheehan, M.D. Since then it has become a regular part of my coaching philosophy. It is so simple, yet so difficult to do. Sometimes we may hear our bodies telling us that something is not quite right but do we really listen? That is the big revelation in my life recently – learning to really listen. I have realized that I cannot over race and get away with it anymore. Okay body, I’m listening!

At the Midnight 10K Run I had no race plan as far as goal time or pace. Coming back from this injury I decided not to put any pressure on myself. My friend Meagan was really surprised because she has seen me on a “normal” race day and I was definitely not in race mode that night. But I was not going to utter anything pace specific before that starting gun went off. I started my GPS and went out at a somewhat comfortable pace and didn’t even look at the Garmin the entire 6.2 miles. Meagan caught up to me after about a mile or two and thought that something was wrong since she is not normally so close to me during races. I felt a little surge of competitiveness but kept my effort in that somewhat comfortable range. After the turn around she caught up to me again and was about to pass me with about two miles to go. I knew there was no way I could stay with her. I encouraged her to chase down a couple of female runners that were ahead of us. She said that she couldn’t catch them and I yelled back that she could!

And she did. One of them passed her back in the last 400 meters but she still had an amazing race. She ran a new 10K PR, which is not easy to do in the hot, humid Florida summer at midnight, ran negative splits, and took second in her age group. Our other Suncoast Strider and S2 Timing teammate, Diana, won overall female. I was so proud of them and so happy for them! I truly was. I didn’t care about my time or place. I did end up placing fourth in my age group but was way more excited about celebrating their success and the fact that I really listened to my body and ran within its limits that night.

Team S2 Timing at the 2014 Midnight 10K

[Originally featured in August 2014 Running Journal]

Birthday run

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

This year I tried something new – a birthday run.  Since I was not able to go to Massachusetts this year to run the Tornado Alley 57 Miler again, the new plan was to run 40 miles on my 40th birthday.  I had trained for it and all went well up until a couple of weeks ago when I developed pretty severe blisters.  I really cannot recall having blister issues in all my years of running since college anyway.  I did get a doozie of a blister in college, but hey, we also wore cotton socks back then!

Normally I do not run super long during the summer in Florida.  I save my marathon training runs for the fall.  I think between the longer runs and the Southwest Florida heat and humidity, it created the perfect storm.  I wear really good socks, have custom orthotics, wear good fitting shoes, and use BodyGlide.  Florida weather must be no match for even the best laid plans.

I did no running at all for five days leading up to my birthday run in hopes that the blisters would heal and dry up enough to make it through 40 miles.  I felt great when I started out this morning but around 13-15 miles, my feet were soaked and it was time to change socks and shoes.  By the time I actually made it back to my car, I had finished 17 miles and knew the blisters were back.  So the blisters were very painful for the rest of the day; each step hurt and made me question whether I could finish the full 40 miles.  I changed socks several times, used Blistershield powder twice, and on the final sock change I used Aquaphor healing ointment.

Blisters aside, I could not have predicted the outcome of the day.  I was so blessed to have so many of my Suncoast Striders friends and Manatee High cross country runners out there with me.  Sarah, Meagan, and Katie were there bright and early for the 7:00 a.m. start and with birthday cards and gifts too!  Then Amber, Kristen, Canaan, and Ellen took over running duty on the 8:30 a.m. shift while Tiffany captured some great photos.  By 10:00 I had logged about 17 miles when Janet joined me for a few miles and even created a custom cadence for me!  Ellen ran out to buy me some watermelon and delivered it so I had a cold, refreshing treat at 25 miles.  At just before noon Jessica and JP joined me for my toughest miles of the day.  I had already taken one minute walk breaks after every mile completed from about mile 22 to 25 so once we reached 27, I broke the news about the walk breaks which they were happy to do.

We were heading to my favorite part of the trail just after the 27 mile mark.  It’s a nice shaded, single track trail along the water.  Shortly after running (slowly) onto this trail, I started to feel a little light headed and running became so difficult.  We walked almost the whole trail out and back and I had to make a tough decision.  I had to listen to the signs my body was giving me and tell JP and Jessica that I had to call it a day.  We were still a couple miles out from the parking lot so they graciously walked back the entire way with me.  I am so glad they did!  I think I was in worse shape than I thought.  I felt light headed and really felt I had to focus my vision on the path ahead.  And I was told later that I was slurring my words a little on the walk back.  Yikes!

When we reached the parking lot, we hit 30 miles total and saw Chris who was there to run the last leg with me.  I had to apologize to him that I was finished and could not run anymore.  He’s such an awesome guy; he ran my last 10 miles for me in the hottest part of the day at a preserve with little to no shade.  I guess I looked fairly bad because Janet and JP then proceeded to stay with me until I refueled a bit and cooled off.  I don’t remember how long it took for me to seem like my normal self again, but they hung out with me just chatting away and Janet had me sit in the back of her SUV which was cranking out the AC.  Then Theresa and Dawn and her cute crew of minions stopped by to deliver birthday cards, flowers, and balloons.

When I was finally feeling recovered enough to drive I left Robinson Preserve and took a detour on the way home for a dip in the pool and some quality time with my sister.  So refreshing.  All I could think about during the last 2-3 miles walking in the hot sun was how wonderful it would feel to be immersed in water!  I didn’t weigh myself before or after the run today, but probably should have so I’d have a better idea of the state I was in.

Deciding to stop my adventure today at 30 miles was extremely difficult.  I did not want to let anyone down by not reaching my goal.  But the most important thing I learned today is that I must listen to my body.  We all must listen to our bodies!

At first I was disappointed with 30 miles but after Chris texted me telling me that he did the last 10 for me and I had time to reflect on the day, all the people I was able to spend time with, and read all my birthday cards, texts, and messages on facebook, I knew that today’s birthday run was a huge success.  I am truly blessed to have so many amazing friends in my life and we have found each other through running.  This is certainly a birthday I will never forget.  And several people have told me that 40 is the new 30…

1st quarter recap

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Back in January I was training on my hybrid marathon training plan which combined long runs, several races, hill training, and speed work.  The week ending January 15 marked my “highest week ever” (noted that way in my training log) with 63.25 miles.  Highlights of that week included a hill workout, 22 mile long run, and a decent 10K race.

My previous blog entry goes into great detail about the January 21 Ringling Bridge Run.  The week ending January 22 featured a 9 mile speed workout, some hill sprints, and the 26.2 mile run with the race in the middle.  That week ended with 57.45 miles.

I am going week by week for a reason here.  I wanted to share my build up to the February marathon so you can see the crazy hybrid training schedule I concocted.  ;)

Last week of January I totaled 49 miles with a tough speed workout (600s!) and one of my best races in a while – the Newnan’s Lake 15K in Gainesville (6:55 pace for 9.3 miles) which was followed by a 22 mile long run the next day.  Exhaustion was setting in but luckily it was taper time!

First week of February I had another good quality speed workout (800s this time), some 400s uphill, and took first overall female in the Run for the Manatees 5K.  Only 39 miles this week.  I was having some major IT band pain so I decided to switch to shoes with a little less stability to see if that would help.  I normally train in Brooks Adrenaline and decided to try the Brooks Ravenna.  Probably not the best idea a couple of weeks before my marathon but I didn’t know what else to do at this point.  I stretch, get massage regularly, and had acupuncture.

Taper time!  I do not handle the taper very well.  But who does?  The week ending February 12 totaled 34.25 miles with a tempo run, a couple short runs at GMP (goal marathon pace), and the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon which I ran at GMP.  It was tough to hold back during this race but I knew if I did not, I would ruin my chances at a decent marathon next week.  All this week I ran in the Brooks Ravenna (less stability).

Marathon week!  After two and a half weeks training in the Brooks Ravenna, my IT bands felt better but my left hamstring and TFL were so painful.  So bad that I decided I better run the marathon in my good old Brooks Adrenalines.  Race conditions were not ideal for the Five Points of Life Marathon in Gainesville.  It was super windy, extremely humid, hilly, and a small race so I often found myself alone with no one around to even think about drafting.  I felt very good through halfway and was exactly on my goal pace at 20 miles but that’s when the good feelings blew away with the strong wind gusts.  My pace slowed every mile from 20 to the finish.  I even had to walk in the last mile.  I felt awful trying to ascend the final incline before the left turn to the finish line.  I know I looked as bad as I felt from expressions on the faces of my husband and friends at the finish.  My goal was to finish just under 3:30.  For some reason 3:30 has been a weird barrier for me in my last few marathons so I wanted to break it.  I finished in 3:39:46.  Of course I was disappointed.  I felt like I had trained so hard and so well for this.

5 Points of Life Marathon

After I walked around for a while and came back to see the posted results, my mood immediately changed.  The winning female time was 3:20.  I was the second overall female and won $450!

After a week or so of recovery, I closed out February and started March with 30 miles including an 8 mile speed workout, a hilly trail tempo run, and the Gasparilla 8K where I finished 3rd overall female.  Since the marathon I had been back full time in my Brooks Adrenaline with no IT band pain but still some lingering left hamstring and TFL tightness and soreness that just would not respond to anything.  On March 11 Team RunnerGirl won the female division of the Sarasota Half Marathon Relay.  I ran the first leg which was about 6 miles and included the Ringling Bridge while my relay partner Kali ran the longer second leg.  It was our second relay together this year and this time we took home the gold.  What fun!  We had such a great time at this race with so many of our running friends from Team RunnerGirl – On A Shoestring – Brooks as well as Suncoast Striders and many of our local high school runners.

Team RunnerGirl Wins Sarasota Half Marathon Relay

Team Brooks-RunnerGirl-On A Shoestring

And then somewhere in mid March I decided I was going to do my first ultra…

Running clubs and why I run

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

When I first started running I guess it was as part of a club – my Girl Scout troop was working towards a fitness badge.  The next year I joined my school’s cross country team.  I raced as part of a team in high school but also raced as an individual in road races and track since we did not have a track team.  Then off to college where I raced as part of Brown University’s team in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track, but I also raced as an individual in a few road races.  After graduating in 1995, I decided to tackle the marathon and so began my long solo journey into road racing.

For years I trained and raced alone in Florida and enjoyed it.  In 2001 I moved to the south of France to attend the International University of Monaco’s MBA program and had high hopes of joining their athletics team and training on the beautiful all weather track inside Stade Louis II.  But it just didn’t work out due to the vibe of the team, the language barrier, and my crazy MBA schedule.  So I looked for the next best thing – road races!  I went online to search for local road races to train for and only found the Monaco Marathon.  So I trained solo for that, raced it, and thoroughly enjoyed it with my future husband and MBA friends/classmates there to meet me at the finish line which was on the track inside Stade Louis II.  So I did get to run on that beautiful track!  ;)

But by November 2001 the Monaco Marathon was over and there were no other local races to do.  So when I went home for Christmas break I searched the race calendar in the good old USA.  I chose races I could do over Spring break when I would be back in the states and also looked ahead past graduation when I would be home in the summer of 2002.  This gave me something to focus my training on when I was back in Monaco, studying, going to class, and enjoying the amazing Riviera.

Flash forward past the June 2002 MBA graduation, a little travel in July with my fiancé, then back to Florida to finalize the August wedding preparations and race more!  After the wedding we were back in Chicago since that was where my hubby’s job was and I was settling into my new city, being back in the USA, and of course seeking out the local running scene.  Chicago has an amazing running scene!  So many specialty running stores, running clubs, and so many road races!!!!  I’m not sure why I never joined any of the running clubs, maybe because I had so much more success and fewer injuries when I trained by myself and could listen to my body rather than do whatever a coach told me or do whatever the rest of the team was doing.

In December 2002 I joined my first running club as an adult because they offered a discounted entry fee for club members for this race I wanted to run in when I was going to be in Florida for Christmas.  I knew we would move back home to Florida eventually, which is why I decided to get involved with this Florida running club even though I was still living in Chicago.

Once we moved back to Florida in 2003 I was very actively involved in the club for many years and became very good friends with other members.  Part of me thought, why didn’t I do this sooner?!?  As the years went by I was more invested and started to get defensive if I ever heard criticism of the club – positive or negative.  After many active years with this club I recently stepped back and dialed down my involvement to let others have a chance at leading the way and carrying the workload.

The most important thing I realize now is that running clubs can be amazing, life changing, friend finding, support systems but they can also suck the life out of you if you’re not careful with how much you give.  So I urge everyone to seek out all the running clubs in your area and join them!  Step up once in a while and do your part to support the greater mission of those clubs – promoting health, fitness, running, walking, etc.  Support your community!  Be part of the good that those clubs are doing.

Just remember as with any group or club out there, don’t let the politics and pettiness of a few members spoil things for you.  Don’t let the club take over your life and define you.  It’s easy to let it happen when you are so passionate about running.

Take that step back and remember why you run – for yourself, for your own health, fitness, well being, sanity, and family, to satisfy a competitive drive within you, to run away from disease, to rack up the hardware and PRs, to make your life more fulfilling, to spend time with friends, or whatever your reasons may be.  I run to be free.  I run to become the person I am meant to be each day.  Sometimes when fully invested in a running club it might be difficult to find our personal running identity.  When I took a step back, it was actually refreshing to find myself again and to run on my own, to run away, if you will.  I still run with the club when it fits my schedule but I no longer feel the obligation to go to all the club training runs.  I now remember why I run.

I have since joined three other local running clubs and thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie and great friends I have made in all of the clubs.  I have the opportunity to drop in at a wide variety of group training runs, run in a variety of races put on by these clubs, and enjoy reading all of their club newsletters and web sites and sharing in the experiences of so many different members.  Being a member of multiple running clubs is definitely the best of both worlds – running clubs and running alone.  You can share in the running community, training runs, races, and social events while training however you choose (solo, with a partner, or with a group).  Just don’t let the excitement of joining a running club and belonging to a group that seems as passionate as you are about running turn into obligation down the road.  Be supportive of your club but keep your personal mission and goals a priority.  Always remember why you run.  And seriously, keep it fun!!!  :)


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