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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.


Award Winners

Overall Results

Running Journal

The Craziness of the Long Distance Runner

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was originally a short story (Alan Sillitoe, 1959) and then a film (1962).  I have not read it or watched it yet but I like the title and it influenced the title of this blog entry.  Both titles remind us that long distance runners are a little different to say the least.

My tale starts last night about this time when I was supposed to be going to sleep.  I couldn’t sleep despite being extremely tired.  So I sat up with laptop on my lap and the Hansons Marathon Method book open next to me as I reviewed my calendar of races that I am already signed up for, keeping in mind that Boston is only 8 weeks away!  I had no training plan, nothing to guide me to Boston.  That coupled with less than stellar training since the Celebration Marathon on January 26 was really starting to worry me.  I took about 3 weeks to “recover” after Celebration and then started training by basically doing what I felt like doing.  I did run several hilly runs over bridges and even a couple of hill repeat sessions but that was about it.

Sunday I ran the Gasparilla 8K, won masters, and was 8th overall female but my time was 50 seconds slower than last year and I had a couple of issues with leg/hip pain and a very bad cramp for the last 2+ miles.  All of these contributing factors seemed to hit me last night at bed time.  So I sat up trying to put together a plan.

Between planning workouts around my races and coaching/work schedule and posting like crazy all over social media, I must have stayed up until 1:30-2:00 a.m.  I don’t really remember.  Then I got up at 7:00 a.m. to start my day today with a BodyPump class and dentist appointment.  I thought for sure I would take a power nap mid day before my afternoon track practice.  But I didn’t.  I wasn’t sleepy.  So I used the time to get caught up on some work then headed to track practice.  After practice I lead a group of school board employees (mostly teachers) through a workout to get them ready for their next 5K or 10K race.  This was the last class of the six week session before their 5K and 10K races this Sunday.  As the day went on, it got colder, the wind picked up, and it started to rain.  Thankfully I packed a light jacket and pants.  By the end of class I was wearing all the layers I had and had my hood on!

After class I drove to our Suncoast Striders group run at Riverwalk.  It was cold, rainy, and pretty dreary looking.  I didn’t see anyone when I first arrived.  After changing and getting my Garmin ready to go, Leah, Laura, and Meagan joined me for the dynamic warm up.  I was still pretty chilled from being out in the cold for the past three hours.  I don’t mind running in the rain, but when I am coaching and not moving around too much, it gets cold!!!

I knew what I had hoped to accomplish in tonight’s workout but with so little sleep the past two nights and doing a BodyPump class in the morning, I was not sure I would be up for the more challenging pace.  The workout goal was a 2 mile warm up, 6 miles at goal marathon pace (GMP), and a 1 mile cool down.  My GMP runs for Celebration were 7:50.  The Hansons Marathon Method worked so well for me that I decided to up the ante a little and train at a slightly faster GMP of 7:38-7:49 for Boston.  Despite rain, wind, and cold I had an amazing run.  For 6 miles I averaged 7:38 exactly, even with going over and back on the bridge twice.  I am trying to run bridges (Florida hills) as frequently as possible as I prep for Boston.  When I finished that sixth mile I screamed inside “heck yes!!!!”  Part of me wanted to let that out but I didn’t want to scare anyone walking or running near me at the Riverwalk.  Or have them think I was crazy!  ;)

I don’t know if the reason for my great run tonight was that I was rested enough after Celebration Marathon, was inspired and encouraged by my fabulous friends/running buddies out on a cold, rainy, windy night, or if it was knowing I have a training plan in place after my late night planning session.  Maybe it was a combination of all those factors.  I think part of it was definitely knowing that I now have a map, a plan to get me to Boston.

On my cool down I found Laura and Meagan (they were doing a different workout), we stretched, then met Leah for dinner where I had the most amazing hot chocolate.  Crazy how good a day and a run can turn out!

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…


Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Back in March The Tornado Alley 50 Miler race director emailed me back to let me know that I could run the entire distance myself and that I did not need a relay team but I would need to provide my own crew and fuel.  Okay, now how do I train for this thing?!?

Talk about uncharted territory!  26.2 miles is the longest I have ever run in a race or a training run.  So I did some research on how to train for ultras.  I took some of the ideas I found along with what I have learned over the years and created a training plan that looked great on paper.  I kept the 3 month training schedule right next to my desk so I would see it daily and stick to it.

Consistency is key.  That’s probably the most important tip I can offer.  And that does not mean the schedule is set in stone.  Definitely listen to your body, take rest days as needed, and revise the schedule to fit your life.  But be consistent.

In March and April I had quite a few races on my calendar so I used those in place of some of the tempo and speed workouts.  I started doing back to back long runs in order to teach my body to run on tired legs.  This worked great for many weeks in this pattern – rest day, long run, long run, rest day and then the remainder of the week filled in with some easy runs, tempo or speed, and maybe a race.  But as the long runs got longer and longer I found that I sometimes I needed two rest days in a row before or after my longer efforts.  Some weeks when I was putting in 4-5 hour training runs (25-31 miles) I could not handle them back to back.  So I made the schedule fit what my body could handle.  I was training in Florida which featured many hot, sunny, and humid training days.

I trained at various times of day so my body could adapt to running at the different times.  I was ready for any sun, heat, or humidity that race day might bring.  I trained using all of my drinks and fuel options so I would know how my body would react to them all.

Once I reached the start of the taper, about three weeks out from race day, I was a little concerned that my longer runs were single day runs with two rest days around them and I was not able to do as many back to back long runs as I had originally planned.  But I have found that over thinking things is pretty typical for taper weeks – too much time on my hands so I start to question everything.

But I headed into race week healthy, well trained, and rested.  I had some of my best sleep the week before the race.  I have never felt so well prepared before.

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…

The good old college try

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

When I ran cross country and track at Brown University, there were so many levels of competition.  We competed in NCAA Division I and the Ivy League, yet the highest level of competition always seemed to be amongst ourselves, as we were all trying for one of those coveted top seven varsity spots on the cross country team or trying to hit a qualifying time or be in a top spot for an event in track so we could make the traveling team.

This competition started in the fall of freshman year in cross country and never let up.  In high school I had always run easy on my long runs, you know, conversational pace for the most part.  Not in college!  I remember cold, slushy winters in Providence when we hit the streets and hammered out hard 10-12 milers with the upperclassmen.  And all we ever tried to do was not fall off the back.

Then spring arrives and it’s time to head to the track.  Brown has an awesome stadium and all weather track.  But, it is two miles away from the main campus.  So that meant a two mile warm up run to the track, hammering away these workouts that left me wondering if I could finish, and then, yes, you guessed it, a two mile cool down jog to get back to campus.  And no matter which route you took back to campus, you had to run uphill at some point.

I remember heading to the dining hall after practice with teammates and as we stood in line with our trays, I recall not wanting to eat.  I had run so hard that although feeling hungry during the workout and knowing I needed to refuel, my stomach was feeling kind of sick and food was the last thing on my mind.  One guy put his tray down and left.  The rest of us knew we needed to eat so we stayed.  After a while, that feeling passed and then we felt hungry and devoured insane amounts of food and stuffed snacks in our back packs for later too.

That feeling I am talking about mostly comes when doing speedwork or really putting forth a strong effort.  I felt that a little today.  And as crazy as it sounds, it made me smile!  I was doing a five mile tempo run on a nice trail but the head wind was strong and cold.  Despite the wind and softer surface, I was determined to complete the workout at the pace I was supposed to so I really had to work.  I fought the wind and even felt hungry during the workout.  When I finished the five miles, slightly faster than goal pace, and started my super slow cool down jog, I felt that sick feeling just a little.  And all I could do was smile as it brought me back to my days at Brown.

I am training for the 2011 Boston Marathon, which his only 14 weeks away.  My training has been challenging and after today’s run and feeling like I used to back in college, I knew I must be doing something right.

Keep your easy days easy, but don’t be afraid to run hard on your hard days no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

A balmy 46 degrees

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Phil and I were scraping ice off the windshield at 7:45 a.m. so we could leave grandma’s house and head to the 10K in Sturbridge.  I warmed up in a heavy sweatshirt and extra pair of shorts since I forgot to pack sweatpants.  I kept my hands in my pockets for most of it.  I chuckled because I actually considered racing in a tank top today!

On the starting line in my shorts and short sleeve shirt I looked around puzzled at so many “locals” wearing tights, long sleeves, and jackets.  I mean, I’m the one not used to this cold weather.  We are about to start and the race director yelled out instructions since her bullhorn would not work.  She started out saying “it’s a balmy 46 degrees this morning.”  Yikes.  I had a couple flashbacks to the freezing Disney marathon in January.

For the first mile and a half my hands and forearms actually hurt from the cold.  Once I hit two miles I don’t know if they warmed up or went numb, but at least they didn’t hurt anymore.

The 5K and 10K started out together and there was no way to know who was in which race.  The 5K was out and back so once they started turning around I could see who the competition was in the 10K.  There was a pack of four runners, three women and one guy, a little over 100 meters ahead of me.  I thought for sure they would turn around with the 5K runners but they kept going straight ahead for the 10K.  So the competition begins!

I immediately picked up the pace to work towards this pack.  Then they started to spread out a little.  I knew they had gone out too fast.  Within about half to three quarters of a mile, I caught and passed the first two women.  The guy and third female had pulled away a little.  We went up a hilly road which fortunately had some nice big down hills where I was able to make up quite a bit of distance on those two.  By mile three I had passed the female leader and shortly after the guy she had been running with.  Now the field was so spread out I only saw one high school or college aged kid ahead of me so I pressed on to close the gap on him.

I pushed the pace for the last two miles up and down some nice sized hills and caught him with about a half mile to go.  I am fortunate that I am a good down hill runner.  My up hill running is not what it used to be but I still gave it a good effort.  At the top of the last hill, we had a short sprint to the finish line.  I was sprinting all out but unfortunately younger legs prevailed once again.  The young guy was about a step ahead of me at the finish line.  But I was not disappointed since I was the overall female winner and ran sub 43 minutes on a hilly course.  Official time was 42:50.  At the awards ceremony I received an envelope with a $125 gift certificate for a local chiropractor.  I thought that was nice but what am I going to do with that since I am leaving Tuesday.  But I also noticed $40 cash which was sweet so we went into this quaint gift shop across the street where I bought two very cute pairs of earrings and still had enough left for lunch.

There was a fall festival going on in the area so layered up in pants, two long sleeve shirts, and a sweatshirt with hood on, Phil and I checked out the scarecrow judging contest, live music, and beautiful foliage then had some delicious treats and hot chocolate from the local bakery.  We have lots of interesting photos from the race, the fun festivities, and this cute New England town.  And that was just this morning!

I Did It. Now What?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010


The 2010 Disney Marathon was quite the experience.  The weekend as a whole was amazing and fun.  I was fortunate to share it with many of my favorite people.  But why did it have to be so COLD?!!!


My last marathon was in 2001 so I definitely forgot what it would feel like during the race.  I figured I was prepared.  My training had gone well and I had raced many half marathons since 2001, including two pretty speedy ones just a few months ago in November and December 2009.  I had been training in the cold, getting used to running in those winter running clothes – tights, long sleeves, jackets, hats, and gloves – but not liking it.  I moved to Florida to get away from all that!


I had forgotten how easy it is to let the pace get away from you during the first half of the race when you’re feeling good.  I knew I had to keep my goal pace no matter how good I felt or how easy it felt early on.  Part of me thought about going after my PR (3:18) but I was smart enough to stick to my race plan…even pace through 20 miles then pick it up if I felt good.  After all, my goal was a BQ (Boston Qualifier), not to PR.  I did not let myself get caught up in the moment or caught up in someone else’s race.  I stuck to my goal of 3:45.


I never used to be a “techie” runner but having a Garmin definitely helped keep me on my correct pace.  I am so glad I had it!  I probably checked it more than I needed to, but I felt almost like a “newbie” for this marathon.  So I stuck to my pace and only visited a few of the hydration stations since I was not sweating as much with the freezing temperatures.  I did have to slow through all of the water stops due to ice on the ground.  The spilled water and sports drink was actually freezing on the ground during the race.  For Florida, that is COLD.


Although I prefer running and racing in the usual hot, sunny Florida weather, I figured cooler would be better for the marathon.  Cool would have been nice.  Freezing was not so nice.  My quad muscles actually hurt during the race and it was not the normal pain, soreness, or stiffness I felt on a long run, but a cold, aching, tightness that would not let up.  Once I felt that, I knew I would have to work hard to run evenly, maintain my pace, and then once I hit 20 miles, I could pick it up if I felt okay.


Mile 20 ended up being my slowest mile of the day, but the last six miles were the fastest, which felt great.  I finished in 3:33:35.  I qualified for Boston.


After exiting the finish chute with mylar blanket, Mickey finisher medal, drinks, and snacks, I met my husband (my #1 fan) and two girls from the high school cross country/track team I coach.  It was great sharing the experience with them.  I know one of them will do her own marathon one day.  Once I told them about the race and they told me about their spectator excursions on the monorail and dealing with the freezing cold, I put on all the layers I had in my bag and I was ready to go.  I did not care to hang around the finisher hospitality area.


On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for breakfast around 10:30 a.m.  We were all so tired.  We had already been up for 7.5 hours.  One of the girls commented that she couldn’t wait to read the blog entries about that day.


It has been 12 days since the Disney Marathon.  I have not been able to write.  My sleep pattern has been off.  I feel like I have been in a bit of a fog; definitely lacking focus.  I remember back about 12 years ago when I was running marathons more frequently that the night or two after the race I would have trouble sleeping.  It was as if all those months of training and thinking about the marathon were suddenly over and my body and mind did not know what to do.


So, I did it.  Now what?


My training calendar has a few items on it, but it is not completely filled out like it usually is.  I have some races on there but no training plan to take me there.  The marathon can become such a big thing in our lives that we not only need to plan for physical recovery after it is over, but we need to plan for the mental recovery.  That is something I have not yet mastered.


This marathon hurt so much that when I was finished I was thinking that I might not run Boston in 2011.  I mean, why would I want to do this to myself again?  But now that a couple of weeks have passed and that vivid memory of what it felt like has faded, I have decided that I will run the Boston Marathon in 2011.  It will most likely be my last marathon, unless somehow that is an amazing and pain free experience.


I am so glad I ran the Disney Marathon because it was the right time for me to do another one.  I am so excited that I was so far under the qualifying time I needed.  I called Grandma to tell her about it and that I would be running Boston again next year.  [I grew up in Massachusetts where Boston Marathon Monday, well Patriot’s Day, is a holiday, so it has always been a big deal in our family.]  She was happy for me, of course, but in that worried tone she voiced her concerns about me running so far and on such a tough course.  I mean, I am getting older, I’m already 36.  But I smile because I know she remembers how out of it I was after running the Boston Marathon many years ago when it took me quite a long time to find my way back to the hotel where she and Bepa waited for me.  They were proud of me then and I know they are now.  Grandparents are the best.


When my muscles were aching during the race and a glance at my Garmin showed my pace slowing, I thought about what I was doing and why I was out there.  I kept telling myself that maintaining my pace and reaching my goal was how I could honor Bepa’s memory.  By doing my best I could honor God and thank him for my healthy body, the ability to run, and the strong spirit to push myself.  In the past I had always run for myself.  This time was different.  I am not sure exactly when that changed for me, but this marathon was definitely more meaningful.


I will end with two great quotes from the movie Chariots of Fire (1981).


Eric Liddell:  “You came to see a race today.  To see someone win.  It happened to be me.  But I want you to do more than just watch a race.  I want you to take part in it.  I want to compare faith to running in a race.  It’s hard.  It requires concentration of will, energy of soul.  You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape – especially if you’ve got a bet on it.  But how long does that last?  You go home.  Maybe your dinner is burnt.  Maybe you haven’t got a job.  So who am I to say, “Believe, have faith,” in the face of life’s realities?  I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way.  I have no formula for winning the race.  Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way.  And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end?  From within.  Jesus said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.  If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.”  If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.”


Eric Liddell:  “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast.  And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

This Cramp’s Not Gonna Break My Stride

Monday, December 7th, 2009


When I sat down to write this tip about overcoming side stitches and cramps, the song “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder popped in my head, hence the cheesy title of this entry.


Yesterday I ran the Brandon Half Marathon and was feeling pretty great for the first several miles.  I went out at my usual conservative pace so that I could run negative splits.  This happened to be about 7:25 mile pace for me on this cold Sunday morning.  After a few miles I felt it was time to pick up the pace and dropped down to 7:00-7:15 pace and around mile 6 or 7 I felt a cramp in my right side.


A long time ago I learned an interesting tip for overcoming side stitches.  I rarely ever get cramps like this so I immediately thought it was from the Gatorade.  At the last water stop before the cramp, I had debated about drinking Gatorade or just sticking with water; this internal debate was caused by an interesting book I am reading but that is a whole other topic.


Anyway, I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and water at that aid station and took a sip of both.  I believe that was my only sip of Gatorade the whole race.  Overall I took in a lot less fluid than I normally do in a half marathon.  But, back on topic here – the cramp.


My cramp was on the right side so every time my left foot hit the ground, I exhaled.  This caused a dramatic change in my normal breathing pattern.  I was exhaling every time the left foot hit the ground so it was very shallow breathing but I tried to force the air out each time.  I continued this for maybe 20-30 steps then took a big exhale, blowing all the air out which resulted in a nice big inhale.  The whole process did not take much time at all, but after this change in my breathing, the cramp was totally gone.


I was so delighted that it worked and I was able to finish the race nice and strong with negative splits.


I am not saying this technique will work every time or for every person, but it’s worth trying.  The main thing is to change up your breathing pattern and try to get your diaphragm to relax in order to get rid of cramps.  If this does not work, you can always try massaging the area with your fingers, stretching, bending over, slowing down, speeding up, or whatever works, really.

Run at Your Own Risk

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

The more I think about it today, the more I realize that we probably should not have run the race last night. But, luckily no one was struck by lightning, so it’s all good! =)

The Picnic Island Adventure runs are a series of three races in May, June, and July that take place on an “interesting island” called Picnic Island in Tampa near the Gandy Bridge. Each race is approximately 3.3 miles long and includes running on the soft, choppy beach, uneven grass (watch out for those holes!), through mangroves on a single lane track with trees and shrubs thrashing you the whole way, and let us not forget the real fun stuff…crawling in sand under a cargo net, running through tires, the giant hurdle, and the crazy, steep hills at the end. The races usually end with a short run into waist deep water and back out to finish on the beach. Each race is different depending on how high or low the tide is…example: May’s race was pretty dry except for the plunge into the bay before the finish yet July’s race was super wet with deep water all throughout the mangrove trails.

July’s race was even more interesting due to the thunderstorm. They delayed the start of the race about ten minutes to really let the storm roll in. I guess they were hoping it would head the other way, but no luck. Anyway, the entire race was in a full blown thunderstorm with the rain and lightning getting worse as the race progressed. Oh, and just before firing the starting gun, the starter said “run at your own risk.” Like anyone was going to walk away at that point.

As we were heading towards the cargo net, I saw a huge crack of lightning that looked like it hit near the corner of the island where we would be running in about 2-3 minutes. I have to admit that this scared me a little, but I went under the net, through the tires, and over the hurdle and then was gasping for air a bit as I headed to the single track through the flooded and muddy mangroves.

The first race in May was my first Picnic Island race so I had no idea what to expect of the course. I loved it. This time, I knew what to expect, which wasn’t quite as good especially since our feet were soaked and weighed about ten pounds each after just one mile of the race. I did like knowing where the hills were at the end so I could push the pace there. Since there was so much lightning, we did not have to run out into the bay and back in before the finish. After the hills it was a straight shot to the finish on the beach and of course the beach was all soft, choppy sand and there was nowhere to go to find good footing. I actually felt that lung burn after the hills on my way to the finish like I did coming out of the water in the May race. Ah what a feeling!

There were nine people from our group in the race: Alex, Anthony, Franz, Nicole, Di, Caroline, Jennifer, Lauren, and me. We all finished and had a blast. Luckily no one in the race was hit by lightning. Could you imagine a more horrible thing? Anyway, we survived and I think everyone had the most amazing time.

I like running in adverse conditions, especially the rain, but I could definitely do without the lightning!

Hope to see everyone at Picnic Island next summer!

Photos from the May & July races:


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