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Posts Tagged ‘team’


Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

When training and racing are going well, it is easy to start to take it all for granted. I have been running and racing since 1986 when I began a run/walk program to earn a fitness badge in Girl Scouts and then joined the varsity cross country team later that fall when I entered seventh grade at our junior-senior high school. I have had my share of injuries over the years, especially in college where I missed more competitive seasons than I raced. Since college I have been self-coached, which has been quite the learning experience. I have had a lot fewer injuries but I still make mistakes despite all of my trial and error, coaching education, and just “knowing better!”

In February while racing the Gasparilla 8K in Tampa, I felt a weird painful twinge in my left thigh. It hit me about halfway through the race and would not let up no matter how I changed my stride, sped up, or slowed down. I was fortunate to be able to finish and won the Masters division. I was definitely concerned about the pain but with only eight weeks to Boston, I could not afford any time off. I continued training and racing and racing and racing. Confession: I raced way too much this spring. With over ten years of coaching experience and 28 years of training and racing experience, I should know better. Yet here I am making this major rookie mistake. I think I have become a race adrenaline junkie.

I made it through the eight weeks of training with consistent hamstring pain which also hurt quite a bit during the Boston Marathon. After Boston I took five days of complete rest before the DeSoto 5K in Bradenton that Saturday night. I had committed to run it for my racing team, S2 Timing, and I had also challenged my track team that if any of them beat me, I would treat them to frozen yogurt but if I beat them, they would treat me. They definitely had the advantage since I was just five days off a marathon. I was hesitant to race but decided to just go out comfortably and not push that hamstring at all. I ended up running negative splits, finishing second female, and winning Masters. And let’s just say that I am getting treated to frozen yogurt sometime soon! Two of my track girls set new personal bests that night, which was fantastic.

2014 DeSoto 5K with my Track girls


S2 Timing Racing Team at DeSoto 5K

I was making excuses for why I won Masters – it was a very small race, my time was not that great compared to what I usually run, etc. I took another week off from running to rest that hamstring but had another race commitment the following Saturday with the S2 Timing racing team (which I am incredibly grateful for!). For the Miles for Moffitt 8K in Tampa, I had the same mentality going in; I would go out comfortably and let the hamstring pain dictate my pace. I finished sixth female, second Masters, and just missed winning Masters by six seconds! I think my friend Meagan’s comment was “you’re ridiculous” or something like that.

With Meagan after the DeSoto 5K

I started making excuses again saying things like I only placed because I’m over 40 now, and then she stopped me. I should not make excuses for how or why I placed in these races. I should be thankful that I have been able to run all these years. I should be grateful that despite the hamstring injury and missing two weeks of training, I was able to run these two races and place in them. I am grateful for all of my amazing friends who have come into my life as a result of running, so thankful for the incredible support of my husband and family over the years, and grateful for all of the athletes I coach. I just need to remember to be grateful for the fact that I must have some running in my genetic code and that I am ABLE to train and race at the level I do. Running is a gift.



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…

First ultra

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

So how did I get here?  My husband will confirm statements that I have made in the past about how I have no interest in doing an ultra, that “those people” are crazy, and why would you want to run all day anyway?  That was my former opinion about ultras.  This opinion was formed really knowing nothing about them or the training required to prepare for them.

I guess the progression to “here” (having just signed up for my first ultra) would begin with doing longer training runs for my last few marathons (Boston–April 2011, Space Coast–November 2011, and 5 Points of Life–February 2012).  I had several long runs over 20 miles including a few of 26.2 miles during the past year.   I enjoyed my training for these races and really enjoyed those long runs over 20 miles, especially the 26.2 mile ones!

So good training plus better hydration and fuel during the marathons, yet I still could not break that darn 3:30 barrier.  What is up?  I thought I would rock the 5 Points of Life Marathon because I had figured out I needed Gu and used it in training.  I had done the hill training, the long runs, the GMP runs, tempo, speed, everything!  And I tapered.

That is the beauty and the heartache of the marathon.  You train for months and months and then when the big day arrives you can have a great race or you can walk away disappointed.  I think because it is such a big physical and emotional build up, such a commitment and investment of time and energy that if it does not go perfectly, it can be such a let down.  If you bomb this weekend’s 5K or 10K it’s no big deal.  You can go out and do another one next week or the week after.  But not with the marathon.

So with the disappointment from the last three marathons, I thought maybe I need to get away from the marathon for a while and stop obsessing about breaking 3:30 and do something else.  But what?  Maybe I would try my first ultra this year.  Maybe a nice 50K or something.  Then an opportunity, a race, presented itself and I could not pass it up…

Tornado Alley 50 Miler.

It is a six person relay race (similar to Ragnar or Keys 100) where each person runs three legs of varying distances of 2-6 miles and they pass through relay exchange zones where they find their vans full of teammates and take turns covering the 50 miles.  The course follows the path of the tornado that ripped through Western Massachusettson June 1, 2011.  This event even benefits all the towns affected by the tornado, including my hometown of  Monson, which was hit the hardest.  I had to do this!  But I knew there’s no way I could get five people plus a crew/driver to Massachusetts to do this thing with me.  So I emailed the race director asking if I could run the whole thing myself.

(Almost) Feel Like a Teen Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

As I mentioned in previous entries, I have gone back to my roots, literally!  Since November 2009 I have raced four trail races – true cross country with hills, roots, rocks, mud, and loved every mile.  I started out at age 11 running cross country.  These trail races have been a way for me to return to some of my favorite running and racing times – high school and college cross country.

I guess I enjoyed the cross country racing so much it seemed like a natural progression to hit the track too.  As a high school cross country and track coach I see the year in seasons – build a base, strength work, speed work, peak at the end of the season in key races, and then recovery time.  I don’t see a year as road racers do – train and race pretty much the same all year.

So as the high school track season has come to an end I find myself entering an open track meet on May 16 where I can race the 1500 meters, a race I have not run since college!

Wanting to be as prepared as possible, I decided to run a 1500 meter time trial today at 1:00 in the afternoon on a black track with no shade in sight.  Let me just say that summer is here in Florida!  Luckily I was joined by some young runners – Di, an 18 year old senior from the track team and two early twenty-something guys, Maverick and Eric.  We were timed by Kaitlyn and Amanda from the track team.  It was great having all this support!  I mention the ages here because it should be noted that I am twice Di’s age.  I am now twice the age of the seniors I coach.  Still trying to accept that fact.

Anyway, today was my day to not be the coach.  So we warmed up as a group and prepared for the task at hand.  I told everyone my goal pace and even though they were faster than me, they ran with me, paced me, and encouraged me.  It was awesome!  I ran the first 2 and 3/4 laps at exactly the pace I thought I might be able to run based on current race times.  It was so cool, 1:07 for the first 300 meters, then 1:30 and 1:30 for the next two laps.  The last lap was the fastest in 1:24, as it should be.  I always aim to run negative splits.  Di blasted by me in the last 200 meters and finished a few seconds ahead of me.

I guess I expected that.  She is amazing in her ability to pace herself and run negative splits.  She does it nearly every race.  She does it so perfectly that I never worry if she happens to be in last place on the first lap or two of her 3200 meter races.  I know she will run those negative splits and catch so many that have gone out too fast ahead of her.  She works so hard and has truly become a student of her sport.  She learns all she can to be her best.  As a coach, I feel very proud watching her races unfold so perfectly.  And she has one heck of a kick.

After the 1500 meter time trial, we ran 6 x 400 meter repeats.  My goal was 1:20 but I really didn’t know if that would be possible after the 1500.  The four of us lined up in lanes, using the stagger.  Something most of us had not done before since we don’t race the 400 and when running them in training we usually just run in lane one.

Maverick started us on each one.  Again, me trying to just run and not be coach today.  I went out pretty fast in lane 4 and crossed the finish line in 1:18.  I could hardly believe it.  My legs were a little wobbly but I was pretty excited.  We hit 1:18 again.  Changed into some racing flats and ran the third one in 1:17.  Whoa.  Didn’t care for the racing flats so ran #4 in them just to be sure and crossed in 1:19 then changed back to my other shoes.  By the fifth 400 my legs were pretty heavy and wobbly as I walk/jogged the recovery lap.  That would be my slowest in 1:20.  But this was my original goal pace so not too bad!  I thought I would have nothing left for the sixth 400, especially as the other three runners made up the stagger and flew by me with more than 200 meters to go but I still managed a 1:16 which is pretty amazing for these 36 year old legs!  I have not run 1:16 since my college days.

It was hot, I ended up sunburned, but had one of the best speed workouts I can remember.  Training with a group is definitely more fun, can really help you push past your personal limitations, and allows you to share in the joy and pain of running fast.  I must say that I did not feel 36 years old today.  I know I have lost some leg speed over the years, but today I could almost visualize myself running track workouts at the Brown stadium or at the old cinder track at the old Palmer High School (Monson did not have a track when I was in high school).  I almost felt like a teen again.  Coaching definitely has great benefits like getting to know amazing young runners like the ones I shared a two hour workout with today.

How to 4-Peat

Friday, March 19th, 2010


Team RunnerGirl won the Gasparilla Marathon Relay for the fourth year in a row on February 28, 2010.  While this is extremely exciting news, I also felt a little let down once crossing the finish line for the final time.  2010 marked the tenth and final running of the Gasparilla Marathon and along with it, the marathon relay ended with the highest number of teams participating in the event’s history.


I am sure that the increased participation was partly due to this being the “Final Voyage” (embroidered on the back of the marathon and relay shirts).  Out of 118 relay teams consisting of all male, all female, mixed, and masters teams, RunnerGirl was second across the finish line behind only an all male team.  The RunnerGirls won the overall female division for the fourth year in a row in a time of 3:03:00 which was over 30 minutes ahead of the second place female team.  RunnerGirl has dominated the team events at Gasparilla.  I know this might sound like bragging, but I want to give credit to the incredibly talented and hard working women who have made up Team RunnerGirl over the years.


In 2005 Gasparilla added a team element called the Chick-Fil-A Team Trio where times were combined from the 5K, 15K, and half marathon.  Kelly Fear ran the 5K, Rachel Chambers ran the 15K, and Rae Ann Darling Reed ran the half marathon for their first Team Trio victory.  In 2006 Team RunnerGirl again brought home the gold, which was not gold at all, but a giant stuffed Chick-Fil-A cow and a year’s worth of free Chick-Fil-A for each team member.  Melissa Reifschneider ran the 5K, Rachel Chambers ran the 15K, and Rae Ann Darling Reed ran the half marathon.


Then in 2007 Team Trio was replaced by the Gasparilla Marathon Relay where four runners cover 26.2 miles by running 7 miles, 7 miles, 8 miles, and 4.2 miles.  The runners exchanged an ankle strap with timing chip on it at each of the relay exchange points.  The team then met the final leg at the Davis Island Bridge so the four could run the last quarter mile together and cross the finish line as a team.  RunnerGirl won the female division of this inaugural event in 3:09:12 with team members Cherie Coston, Rae Ann Darling Reed, Rachel Chambers, and Pam Chaffin.  In 2008 Team RunnerGirl defended their title with their fastest marathon relay time of the four years:  2:59:44.  This team featured two professional triathletes from Southwest Florida which helped the team run its personal best marathon relay time.  The 2008 team was Rae Ann Darling Reed, Heather Gollnick, Heather Butcher, and Pam Chaffin.  In 2009 RunnerGirl won again in a time of 3:12:59 despite windy and rainy conditions.  I was set to run the first leg this year but was diagnosed with a stress fracture just a few weeks before the event.  Luckily the fastest distance runner on the high school cross country and track team that I coach was available to take my place.  Responsible for Team RunnerGirl’s 3-peat were Jessica Pate, Melissa Reifschneider, Heather Butcher, and Pam Chaffin.  Then 2010 brings us to the 4-peat for Team RunnerGirl with Rae Ann Darling Reed, Shana Bickel, Heather Butcher, and Diana Nelson.


As I mentioned, it was very exciting to win again this year, but I also felt the disappointment knowing it was the final year of this event.  I am hopeful that Gasparilla will come up with some new creative team or relay event in 2011.


But getting back to “How to 4-Peat.”  When putting together these teams over the years, I kept it really simple.  I looked for runners who were faster than me.  That’s it.  That’s my secret.  Using this simple method to put together racing teams, I found that I stepped outside my comfort zone and did not just ask friends or people I already knew to be my teammates.  In doing this, I have met some of the most amazing runners and triathletes in my area.  I mean, how cool is it to say that I ran a relay event with teammates who have competed at and won Ironman Triathlons, Triathlon World Championships, National Triathlon and Duathlon Championships, and so many others.


Team RunnerGirl has been so incredibly rewarding with the team titles we have won but even more rewarding with the amazing athletes I have gotten to know and now consider friends.


A sincere thank you goes out to all the amazing women who have run as part of Team RunnerGirl over the years.



















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