Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm the Boss

(Note to reader:  Parts in black should be read with a Jersey accent.)

Okay guys, see those hills up there?

"Sure do."
 "See what?  I can't see anything, I'm in the back." 
"Oh yeah, I see 'em.  Sure you want to do this?"

Yeah, I'm sure.  Let's get going.

"Let's do this!!!"
"I'm with ya, Boss!"
"I wish I could see where you're taking me."

Okay, first problem I'm noticing is that Calves need to not hurt so much.

"No can do, boss.  Those are category H hills and we can't be expected to be all laid back about this.  We're gonna hurt, but we'll try to keep you from cramping up."

There are categories to hills?  What's a category H?

"Um, the H stands for 'hell.'  Those are hills from hell, boss."

Great, just do your best.  And Butt?

"Yeah, boss?"

You don't need to giggle so much.

"Right-o, Boss!"

Um, Butt, you're still....well you're still giggling.

"Oh yeah, I forgot to mention....I'm a butt and well, I giggle.  It's in my contract."

Forgot about that.   Could you at least be a little firmer by the end of this run?

"You betcha boss, but the firmness might only be visible under a microscope and we both know you don't anyone coming at your butt with a microscope!  Ha, ha"

Shut up, Butt.

"No problem, boss."

Alright, ugh, Side, you're kind of aching a bit.

"That would be your typical 'Side-Ache', boss."

Could ya stop?

"Uh, you gotta breathe better for me, boss, and then I can stop aching.  You might want to take this up with Lungs."

Right!  Yeah, Lungs, you wanna help me out here?

"Sure thing, boss!  We're getting stronger with every step, you just keep on going."

You can't just breathe better right now?

"Yeah, the body you were issued didn't come with the Elite Runner Lung package, so you're going to have to work for those kind of lungs."


"What was that, boss?"

Nothing.  Ugh, come on guys, I need to make it up this last hill and then all the way back to the car.

"We're behind you, boss!"

"Especially me, boss!"

Shut up, Butt.

"You betcha, boss!"

Oh, goodness, I can't do this.  I can't take another step.

"Yes you can.  You can do this!"

Who is that?

"I'm Head, boss! I'm new around here."

What are you supposed to be doing?

"I'm here to make sure you don't quit, boss!"

How are you going to do that?

"I'm your head!  I can bring up images of you winning a marathon, or that you're in a movie about a underdog runner who beats the odds!"

Does that stuff really work?

"Let's try it out, boss!"

Wow!  You're good, Head!  Okay, I CAN do this, I'm gonna make it.  Okay, guys, everyone put in everything you've got and get me back to the car!

"You got it, boss!"
"Hey, guys!  Boss wants us to kick it into high gear!"
"No prob, boss!"

Wow, I'm going a lot faster.  You sure you can handle it, Legs?

"We can if you can, boss!"

Ha ha! Look at us go!  We've made it!  Great job guys!

"Thanks, boss!"
"See ya tomorrow, boss, bright and early."
"Good job, boss.  See on the next run."

Let's go for a soak, guys, on me!

"You're the best, boss!"

When NOT to Run

So you've been sufficiently pumped up to go running OR you are running and are staying sufficiently motivated to keep going and here I am telling you NOT to run?  No, not exactly.  Your should run, always!  Except for some key situations in which it's advisable to take a break from running. 

1.  Illness:  This doesn't mean that if you wake up one morning with the sniffles, that you should cancel running for the next week.  My rule of thumb is that if I can't breathe, I can't run.  However, I've found that running actually helped a bit with colds that caused chest congestion.  If you have a fever though, I advise staying home.  Why?  A fever means your body is hard at work fighting something and if you went running whilst enduring a fever, you're only asking for trouble.  You risk becoming overheated and suffering the ill effects from that.  Vomiting and diarrhea would also be reasons to take a few days to get over that bug.  Listen to your body.  I don't think all illnesses determine that you should stay home and quarantine yourself, but some might.  Just be smart about it.

2.  Weather:  I've run in wind, rain, and cold weather and been absolutely fine.  BUT, when it comes to hot, hot weather, you might want to take to the treadmill inside vs going outside to run.  If there is a actual heatwave advisory for your area, don't mess with it.  You might be able to avoid the heat by running early in the morning or early evening.  Running during too hot weather will dehydrate you much faster than you normally would and could cause heatstroke.  You don't want to collapse from heatstroke while you're running some country road where a car passes maybe once every hour.

3.  Injury:  So you sprained your pinkie finger yesterday, should you run?  Yes, you wuss!  Obviously the only injuries that should keep your from running should be injuries that actually affect your running ability (i.e legs, feet).  Some injuries, like Runner's Knee, don't require that you completely cease running, just that you take it easy and have shorter, lighter runs.  Other injuries like sprains will require that you be off your feet for a while.  Most running injuries are called Overuse Injuries and in my experience, I just take a day or two of rest and then I can get back out there. 

4.  Sleep Deprivation:  This has been the bane of my existence ever since I said, "Yes" to having kids.  Recently, it's been magnified with the twins to the point where I've actually cancelled running because I didn't think it wise to go running on the same road as cars when I'd only had maybe 3 hours of rest.  Here is my test to see if you're too sleep deprived to run:  If walking straight proves to be a challenge, you might want to take a day off from running until you've gotten a few more winks.

5.  Too Dark:  If you thought you'd do an evening run today, but time got away from you and now it's pitch dark, don't be an idiot and go out running.  Well, you can I guess, if you cover yourself with reflectors or something, but most of us don't even know where to get reflectors.  While living in Rexburg, a college town, I've nearly run down several college runners at night just because I didn't see them until my bumper was literally 2 feet from their shins.  It's stupid to run at night. Period.

For the ladies, notice I didn't site the monthly visitor as a reason not to run.  I didn't list it because that witch affects us all differently.  Some barely notice she's here and some swear that next time she visits they are going to chase her off with a shotgun. 

So that is my list.  It's pretty short, mainly because no one needs extra excuses not to run.  Stay motivated and still stick with it even with life gives us reasons not too.  But be smart and listen to your body and treat it well.  Do that, and you'll always be happy and safe as a runner. 

Comment time:  What kind of weird circumstances have kept you from running?  Or what does your list of reasons not to run look like?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Bone and Back: Keersten's Race

Here is a race story from my sister-in-law, Keersten.  She recently ran in the To Bone and Back Relay with 7 other women.  Each woman ran 5 miles for a total of 40 miles covered!  The trek is NOT easy with it's many rolling hills, but Keersten did awesomely!  I asked her to share her story and also anything she learned about preparing for a race.  Read and enjoy!

To Bone and Back
I’ve enjoyed running since I was in Junior High but have had a hard time sticking with it since I started having kids. My husband has been in school which makes it hard for me to find the time to go, unless I want to push a huge stroller with two children. Needless to say, my running has been very touch and go. This spring I decided that I wanted to run a race. I thought about a 5K but decided on doing a 10K knowing that I was going to have to put a lot of time into working up to it (I was only running 1 ½ miles or so before I had to walk.) I realized that the only way to do this was to get up and run before my husband went to work – he has to be there at 7:00 am. Which means I had to start getting up at 5:30 or 5:45 to be back in time for him to leave. I’ve always tried getting up early to run and have never had the motivation to do it. But now that I had a goal in mind and a date to accomplish it getting up became doable. During one of my morning runs I passed someone in my ward. The next Sunday she asked if I would like to run in the “To Bone and Back” relay with her team. Someone had dropped out and they needed one more person so they didn’t get disqualified. She told me that it was 5 miles and I thought I could maybe do it. I was up to about 3 or 3 ½ miles by that point. I told her I would love to do it but that I would be slow! She seemed happy just to have another team member. I had just 2 ½ weeks before the race so I started pushing my runs a little longer each day. I did get up to 5 miles before the race, but only had only done it a couple of times.
Race day came and I was nervous! I had looked up my leg in the relay and realized that it was mostly rolling hills – something that I had never done before. We got to the start of my leg and waited for the girl before me to hand off the “bone” baton. While waiting my 2 year old wanted a drink so I took her to the drinking station. On the way back my group was shouting my name and I realized that the girl before me was there looking for me. (Apparently no one else saw her coming – there were a lot of people there.) I grabbed the baton and took off up my first little hill while putting in my earplugs and turning on my music. A few minutes into it I noticed people cheering up ahead and realized they were there for me (I only knew one of the ladies in the relay.) It was an awesome feeling. Because of the way the race is there weren’t tons of us in a tight group. Just the open road – and carloads of people cheering us on the way. I ran track in high school and this was the first time I realized how much I missed racing. My husband and kids also stopped a couple of times to cheer me on and take pictures before driving to the end of my leg to wait for me. I hit my first BIG ear-popping hill about 2 ¾ miles into the race. I have a whole new perspective on rolling hills now. It’s SO much harder running up hills than running on flat ground! I realized I was in trouble. I’d done 5 miles before, but not on hills like this. I got half-way up the hill and had to walk for a bit which was discouraging, but I knew my body wasn’t going to make it if I didn’t. I finally made it up the hill, turned a corner and saw the next hill. It continued like this until I got to the end. It was so hard, so hot (compared with running at 5:30) but it was still exciting. I handed off the baton and felt like I was going to collapse. I felt much better after having a drink and discovered that I had run it in under 53 minutes. We don’t know my exact time because of the rushed start, but I’ll take it. I really enjoy running but being part of the race was amazing. I’m doing two more races this summer – a 5K this coming weekend and my 10K in 4 weeks.
1. Pace yourself! I was a sprinter in high school and it was hard for me not to try to catch the person in front of me. You know how your body is and how far you can push yourself. Don’t rush at the beginning because it’ll cost you at the end.
2. Get good shoes. I bought some new shoes at Teton Running and they are great! Ask for help if you aren’t sure what kind of shoe you need. Also, make sure your shoes are tied well! I had to stop toretie my shoe during the race.
3. Know your race. If I had known the size of the hills I was running then I would have trained a little differently. I had run on a little incline but I was not prepared for the amount and size of the hills.
4. Set goals! Whether it's weight loss or distance, setting goals REALLY helps. One of the ladies in my relay started running because she needed to lose weight. She has now lost 110 pounds, ran her first marathon a couple of months ago and looks great. Also, tell someone your goal. Set goals together! Don’t get discouraged if you have an off-day with your goal. My goal this race was to run the whole thing. That obviously didn’t happen. I was very discouraged about it afterwards. It wasn’t until my husband explained how far I had come and how well I had done in just a couple weeks that I decided to drop it. I can set new goals and work toward them instead of worrying about what I did wrong.
Thanks for sharing, Keers!  Such a cool race story and such a cool race to run.  We might run this together next year as another relay, but we'll need more than the two of us. 
If anyone else has a race story to share, please do!  Send it to my email and I'll post it here,
Another reader, Robyn, who ran with me in the Scenic River Classic has written her race story and posted it on her blog.  Look on my sidebar for the link! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Share: Becky's Story

Becky is another friend from high school.  She comes from a family of runners and so I asked her to share a little about her running agenda.  Thanks, Becky, for your contribution!

Hi bloggers! I'm not much of a runner. My sisters are amazing runners and my Dad is a runner. I have always just been a walker, or do creative work outs along the way. I try to make sure to eat whole grains, and a bunch of fruits and veggies every day. To keep my metabolism high I eat probably every 2-3 hours. So, I have 3 main meals and 2 snacks.
I feel like I am still in my running journey. I run a bit, then walk a bit. But, I find that the more I run, the longer I can run each time. For instance, if I run down my street, I run passed like four houses and then walk passed a few. I have a goal point (say a garbage can, or the end of someone's boat). When my body gets revved up, I run more and then walk. Then walk and run.
My body never really felt comfortable running. A few months ago I decided that I would get some new running shoes. I had been using my shoes I bought in high school. The first time I ran with my new shoes, I felt like I was running on air. It made a world of difference! If you are running with old work out shoes, I would suggest to invest in some new shoes. I think the ones I got were only like $40. But it was worth it. That small change made a difference.
The other thing I would say is run with music. I used to just run and I would hear myself breathing and get exhausted faster, because my breathing is what I would focus on. I bought an I pod shuffle at Wal-mart. That was another great investment and it's bright pink too!:) When each song comes on, it just motivates me to run.
I feel great when I get out and run. I love the break I get from the kids and just time to get out there. I prefer to run outside. When I run alone I just run back and forth on our long street. I guess I'm just kind of paranoid I will get jumped by some guy with a hooded sweater and sun glasses. Ha ha. I just feel safer running in my neighborhood. I also like running outside because it keeps me accountable a little more. I'm more driven to keep running if people are going to see me. Ha ha.
I also find that when I run often, I breath better. Is that weird? It helps expand my lungs, because I breath deeper or something.
I have a lot of people around that help motivate me to keep running and to stay with it.
Thanks Anna for being one of those people. You go girl. My sister had twins and she said the first few years are a killer. You have so much drive and motivation. Keep up the good work!


Thanks for the kind words, Becky!  What I like about Becky's experiences with running is that she thinks exactly the way I do!  The fact that running around people helps her to keep going is exactly what I do.  Running to have time away from kids; that's me again!  Running with an iPod to keep her mind off of the breathing, I do that too!  So many similiarities!  I think if all us runners sat down to talk about why we run and what we do when we run or even where we run, we'd find so many common threads and that's something I've always enjoyed about running and the other people I find running along with me.  Thanks Becky for sharing, you're awesome!!

Also, check out Becky's blog, it's all about fun and healthy recipes.  I've tried several of her recipes and all have been great successes.  If it weren't for her food blog, my family would be eating the same 5 dishes every week.  Check out at Ziggy Foods!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Case for Running: You Were Built for This

Did you know you can beat a horse?  Yeah, just take a 2x4, that's not what I'm talking about and how dare you for suggesting such a thing! 
Did you know you can beat a a race?  Got a horse nearby?  Race him to the end of the block and back and see who wins.  How'd it go?  Oh, the horse won.  Oh, sorry, I meant to say....
Did you know you can beat a horse in an ENDURANCE race?  Yeah, it's possible.  There is actually a marathon each year in Wales that pits humans against horses.  And humans have actually won that race a few times.  So how in the heck does a human being beat a horse in a race?  I mean, aren't horses super fast and intensely strong animals?  And aren't human beings pathetic two-legged creatures who don't possess any cool animalistic qualities?  The truth of the matter is that humans were built for endurance races.  Horses not so much.  Horses are fast and could beat you every time over a short distance, but if you ask them to run a marathon, all of the sudden, we humans gain a small advantage.  And here is why.  A few scientists have looked into why humans may be built for distance/endurance running and have found a few reasons why:

...when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals.
 ...the short toes of the human foot allowed for more efficient running, compared with longer-toed animals. Increasing toe length as little as 20 percent doubles the mechanical work of the foot. Even the fact that the big toe is straight, rather than to the side, suggests that our feet evolved for running.

Springlike ligaments and tendons in the feet and legs are crucial for running. (Our close relatives the chimpanzee and the ape don’t have them.) A narrow waist and a midsection that can turn allow us to swing our arms and prevent us from zigzagging on the trail. Humans also have a far more developed sense of balance, an advantage that keeps the head stable as we run. And most humans can store about 20 miles’ worth of glycogen in their muscles. 
So you see, you were built for this.  Science says that our bodies were meant to run and over long distances, that we are engineered to endure.  Repeat that last part, "we are engineered to endure."  That's the coolest part.  No matter what science says, to me it's simply beautiful to know that I am capable of enduring a long run and anything else.  All of the sudden, being human isn't pathetic anymore.  We are meant to endure, to come all the way through to the end and do it better than other living things that seem to have such a huge advantage over us.  You could apply this to things other than running and have a field day with that kind of metaphor.  Instead, I'll just repeat myself.  You were built for this and you can do it. 

If you're looking for a reason to start running, here is my sixth reason:  You were built for this, to endure and to be awesome enough to beat a horse in an endurance race.  So far, I think this is the coolest reason.  No room for doubts here.

 Source:  The Human Body is Built for Distance

Friday, June 24, 2011

"I just felt like running!"

"That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going."
                                                     --Forrest Gump

That kind of describes my run today.  I didn't run across the continental United States twice, but I decided to run a new route until I reached the windmills out amongst the hills above where I live.  I had no idea how far away they were, but I kept thinking that if they ended up being too far away, I'd just turn back and call it a good run.  When you run a route where you have no idea how far you've gone, it makes running into something different, especially you have no idea when you're going to turn around and head for home.  I got to the last house up the first hill and literally thought to myself, "Well, I've gone this far, I guess I'll just keep on going."  At each landmark, I had a decision to make, I suppose.  Go on or turn around.  Each time, I'd think, "I've come this far, I guess I'll just keep on going."  The hills and wide fields of green were spectacular.  I didn't want to think about the point at which I'd have to come back down to reality and turn around and head for home.  Over each hill, would come another one, the road stretching as far as you'd ever want to go and the silent giants spun in the wind over my head.
   You see, I've had a long week.  My husband has been in Boise for the last 4 days at an educational conference and so running took a back seat to maintaining the house, keeping the kids alive along with the budding grass outside, and everything else that comes with being a single parent for 4 days.  Perhaps that's why I just kept on going.  The hills were tough and got me breathing hard, but mostly, it was one of the more enjoyable runs I've ever had.  My mind organizes itself when I run.  Life didn't seem as complicated today as I ran toward those beautiful hills and the towering windmills.  At the top of one of the hills, I stopped for a minute and looked behind me.  Spread out below I could see everything from Shelley to Ucon.  It was magnificient and it brought a smile to my face. 
   As I started my run that day, as I ran away from my house, I started to feel less like a mom and more like an athlete.  I'm not sure if others will think that's a good mindset to have, but it's what I was thinking.  At times, being a mother makes me feel like a domestic servant, whose only conversation includes which kid has been suffering from diarhea at the moment or which child has developed an allergy to -insert food item here--.  As I continued to run, I felt more like an athlete; a person who was trying to overcome her body's limitations to achieve some kind of success outside of "Hey, I didn't burn dinner tonight!"  I've always admired atheletes for their determination and their ability to do that which all the rest of us think is too freaking hard.  So a smile comes to my face as I leave the mom behind and I head toward the athelete.  But then, here I was, at the top of the hill with a breathtaking view having just run, well, I wasn't quite sure yet of the mileage, but judging by the dot that is my house, I've run pretty dang far and I find that I'm not thinking so much about the distance, I'm more so thinking of the week I just survived.  Yeah, that's right, I thought I had left the mom behind, but there she was with me!  Why? 
   Sitting there for 10 minutes or so, under the canopy of windmills and the gently swaying grass did wonders for my thinking ability.   She (the mom) was there because the same person that survived a week alone with 4 kids and a house with a gigantic amount of yard work is the same person who just ran up and down hills to get to the windmills.  I'm not one or the other, I'm both.  With a smile on my face, I head for home, which has now occurs to me, it's quite a ways away.  It's kind of hard to tell if being a mother has made me a better runner, or if being a runner has made me a better mom.  Does it matter?  The point is that each morning when I wake up too tired to deal with 4 kids, I'll let the endurance runner take over.  On days when I feel too weak to get my butt out onto that road for another 5 miles, I'll let that kicka-- mom take over and get it done.   And then some days, we're both too tired and we just say, "To heck with it," and that's just how it goes.  I guess what I'm saying is that I'm grateful for these two sides of me, because I need all the help I can get.

P.S-  I found out later that I ran 8 miles; 4 to the windmills and 4 back.


Monday, June 20, 2011

A Case for Running: It's a Classic

So when I was in college as an English major, I was required to read many books labeled under "the classics."  These were books the withstood the test of time.  For whatever reason, they are still read centuries after being published because something about them is timeless and it continues to appeal to each generation as they come.  Books aren't the only classics however.  What classic sports can you think of?  Baseball, basketball, football?  How about running?  It's a true classic sport/activity/way to get your butt to stop looking like that.  What's the opposite of a classic?  A fad.
Let's take a stroll, or a run if you want, down the memory lane of exercise fads.

Tae Bo:
I'm quite aware that there are people who still do Tae Bo, but in general, most people have moved on from the fist pumping charisma of Billy Blanks.  Tae Bo was and is a great form of exercise, don't get me wrong, but when an exercise routine is a fad, it will go away; that's just part of the definition of a fad.  And when the exercise you've become accustomed to suddenly isn't the hip thing anymore, it will get increasingly harder for you to find Tae Bo classes or videos to help you out. 

8 Minute Anything:
Got 8 minutes?  Then you can tone your butt, thighs, abs!  Remember those videos of the 90s that gave us a way to fit in fitness into our crazy lives where we only had, literally, 8 minutes to maintain our health everyday?  Yeah, another fad that didn't last.  This one, however, didn't last because, really, 8 minutes?  Come on people!

Contraption Central:
What do the names Suzanne Summers, Tony Little and Chuck Morris have in common?  All creators (or at least pedalers) of exercise contraptions that were sure to solve all of your body image problems.  To name a few we have: The Thigh Master, The Abdomenizer, and The Gazelle Freestyle.  Where are most of these things now?  Probably on the curb of some garage sale going for a buck.  Enough said.

Okay, before any of you threaten me with bodily harm for even daring to put Zumba on this list, you have to admit it's fad qualities.  1)It seemed to come out of nowhere,  2)Everyone and their dog is doing it, 3)It has an infomercial on nearly every hour.  It's a fad.  Now, I've tried Zumba and I actually think it's pretty fun. But I fear that when Zumba is no longer the big thing, the Zumba instructors will go away, along with the DVDs and other merchandise and those of us who depended on Zumba to maintain our weight will be left to find something else to do.

Now let's get to the classics.  I can think of a handful, namely cycling, swimming and any sport that requires you to move rapidly (sorry Golf, apparently you're not a sport.)  Running is, to me, the classic of the classics.  You don't need any classes and other than shoes and at least one running outfit, you don't need any equipment.  Running may gain in popularity from time to time, but even when it's not the coolest form of exercise out there, it never goes away.  It waits for you to come down from the clouds and watches for your feet to touch the pavement, ready to come running again.  In my opinion, I don't have the energy to stay up with fads.  And a fad carries with it a kind of "This Will End At Some Point" mentality and that only hinders us as we try to stay fit now and for as long as we're breathing.  It's almost like getting married.  Are you wanting something that will carry you thoughout the rest of your life or do you constantly want to be on the hunt? 

So if you're looking for a reason to get into running, here is my fifth reason:  It's a Classic!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Scenic River Classic 5K

Wow, what a race!

So, like a moron, I forgot the camera, so no pics of me actually racing this time.  I was lucky to get there with all 4 kids, so give me a break.  We took a picture when we got home with my race number on, so we kind of documented the occasion. 
So for the race....

We actually got there well before the start of the race and I was able to run around the parking lot to warm up.  We all get some fuzzy instructions from some guy and a microphone.  All I hear is the 5K people are to follow the blue arrows.  Since the course has 10K and 5K people run together for portions of it, it's imperative that you follow your designated arrow.  Anway, they didn't do the countdown thing like the Teton Dam did.  Instead, they said, "On your mark, get set..." and then a whistle sounded and the running begins. 

There were A LOT of people there and for a split second I had visions of being trampled under foot.  About 100 yards down the road comes the time for 10K and 5K to split up and it's kind of humorous to watch the mad scramble as everyone mergers left or right to follow their arrow.  Then the first hill.  Nothing compared to the Millhollow hill during my last race, but steep enough to take my breath away.  The course is full of turns and twists and going under tunnels and running alongside the Snake river and past downtown traffic.  It's quite fun. 

Since I'm trying to beat my time of 36 minutes, I'm going fast, or at least faster than I did last time.  In a 5k, there isn't a lot of time to pick up the pace if you start out too slow, so I figured I would try and keep a slightly faster pace the entire time and see if I have it in me to pick it up even more toward the end.    Considering that my lungs seem to be working really hard, I determine that I must be going faster than my normal morning run pace.  In training, I would try and do a few runs where I ran faster to help my lungs get used to it.   All I can think is, "I hope all of this hard breathing means I'm going faster!"

While I am going faster, I do try and stick to a pace versus doing the speeding up and then slowing down dance. In my peripheral, I see a runner about to pass me.  I look and see that it's a 5 year old girl.  Yeah, nothing humbles you like being passed by a kindergartener.  Later my husband consoles me by saying, "Well, she's only carrying, what like, 30 or 40 pounds.  You're carrying..."  I stopped him before he could finish that sentence.

Around mile 2, I feel a pinch in my left leg.  It feels like a cramp coming.  I almost panic thinking, "Don't cramp up!  Don't cramp up!"  Feeling like my legs are getting tight, I lengthen my stride a bit so there is a bit more time for the muscles to release before they contract again.  I'm not even sure if that is what you're supposed to do, but I do it anyway, and the pinching feeling goes away.

As I pass runners and as they pass me, I see some rather interesting outfits.  There's this guy who has to be my age, but about 6 inches shorter than me wearing a one-piece jogging outfit.  The bottom half pays tribute to the running shorts of the 70s and the top half reminds me of the leotards riddled throughout most of the workout videos of the 80s.  It's a bright, electric blue and it has to be part spandex.  You have to be quite bold for that ensemble.  Wear it proudly, brother!

Another runner is wearing THE brightest neon green spandex biking shorts I've ever seen.  Seriously, they were blinding.  She stayed with me most of the run and I swear, if I closed my eyes, those shorts were burned into my retinas.  She was a strong runner, keeping the pace.  She never slowed and never walked.  She had a fairly awesome tye-dyed shirt on and later I found out she was part of a group of runners all wearing the exact same thing.  Running as a group?  How fabulous!   I saw them all together at the end and they were awesome!

Back to the race!  I round the corner and there is the finish line.  There is a large clock over the line to show you your time.  From far away, I think it says 38 minutes.  I'm immediately bummed because that means I'm slower than last time.  To my unbelieveably happy surprise as I get closer, it says 29 minutes!!!  I run faster.  I see my husband and kids.  I point to the clock behind them and Arik looks up to see that says 30 minutes and I flash him a thumbs up.  I run as fast as I can and beat my time, getting over the finish line at 30:39!  My last time was 36 minutes and some change.  The final results also tell you what your pace was.  At the Teton Dam race I had a 11:52 mile.  This time I got a 9:52 mile!   

It was a hard run, that's for sure.  I badly wanted to beat my time, so I pushed it harder.  I'm glad that I did.  Even though the run was harder, it was still very enjoyable and the finish line did not disappoint.  Another runner who reads this blog and whose story I've posted in the past also ran the 5K.  I tried to find her, but there were a lot of runners to sift through.  I'm anxious to hear how she felt about the race.  So, Robyn, send me your race story and any pictures you took!!!

Next race with be the Liberty 5K in Rexburg.  We won't forget the camera.

Oh, and thanks to Keersten, my sister-in-law, for putting my hair into a french braid for the race.  It worked out wonderfully!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weight Loss? That's the Obvious One

I've talked about so many of the benefits of running; the runner's high, the weight loss, the muscle toning, etc.  But there are some other cool benefits to running that I'd like to make everyone aware of.

1st:  "You snooze you lose!"  Whoever made that up needs to be smacked!
If you have kids, you've probably been losing sleep for years.  Add jobs and the other stresses of life and it's surprising that we all don't just drop dead from sleep deprevation.  "One such study that was conducted in Australia, found that runners seemed to have greater sleep efficiency, or the ratio of the amount of time you are asleep to the total amount of time you are in bed." 
Obviously if we are a bit more stressed than usual or when the kids get sick, sleep it still going to be hard to come by, but in general, if you're runnin' you'll be sleepin'.  I can personally attest to this particular benefit.  I sleep more soundly and can usually fall asleep within a few minutes of hitting the pillow. 

2nd:  "And how do you feel about that?"
I've gone on and on about the runner's high.  For those that missed it, it's all about the massive amount of endorphins released when you run.  This hormone creates a good mood, a kind of euphoria.  Runner's will talk your ear off about how ridiculously happy they are when they run.  But it turns out that even without the endorphin release "the health benefit of aerobic exercise from running can help enable you to work off any anger, fear or just the common frustrations that the day may bring, clearing the mind and relaxing the body."  No need to take any more mental health days, just go for a run!

3rd: The Anti-Aging Exercise        
Having just turned 29, 30 is just around the corner.  30 isn't old by any stretch of the imagination, but with 4 kids hanging off me at all times, I feel like I'm older than I am.  That's life I guess.  There are a lot of creams and procedures out there that are supposed to hold that clock back, but most the time we just end up spending too much money to looked like a guest on "Plastic Surgeries Gone Wrong!"  Running can slow down the aging process.  "Running benefits strong bones and muscles, which means you'll be able to retain your youthful grace and your figure, and with that, your enthusiasm for life and continued endurance for many years to come.Can't do much about the wrinkles, but your body will thank you in the end, whenever that may be.

4th:  Run your Heart Out! 
The leading cause of death in the U.S is heart disease and it's particularly a concern for women.  Running increases your cardiovascular endurance.  "Running benefits you by lowering your blood pressure and it helps your arteries maintain their integrity to keep your heart muscle strong and keep you - full of vim and vigor."
This is the reason that my 80 year old grandfather still runs 5 miles a day.  He has a family history of men in his family dying young from heart disease.  Knowing he was prone to this condition gave him a map for the rest of his life to eat well and stay fit.  I think of him often when I run.

All exercise is great, but as I do more and more research, running always comes out on top. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let's Share: Megan's Story

This week, I'm posting from an old friend from high school, Megan Porter (used to be Megan Mendenhall).  She lives, what I consider, a life of adventure.  She is a marathon runner and her story is wonderful and I wanted to share it with you guys.  She also give us a few tips that she's learned along the way.  She's is amazing to me and I want to thank her for sharing!

I really never had the desire to be a runner nor did I enjoy it 6 years ago. Then in 2009, Joe (My hubby), signed us both up for the ING New York City Marathon. I hadn't been running at all and knew that I had to start somewhere. According to my marathon training schedule, my first run was scheduled for 3 miles. I remember very clearly running that first 3 miles which just about killed me. I would have to run a mile and then walk, then run another mile and then walk and finally finished the 3 miles in just under 40 minutes. I remember feeling defeated and thinking there is NO WAY I can run this marathon. The next day was a new day and I decided to get back up again and run another 3 miles but only to find it was easier the second day which gave me hope! From that day on I kept running and each day I would find myself wanting to run and looked forward to my nightly runs. After just a few weeks I finally was feeling like a true "runner" and I knew from there that I was hooked. I finished my first marathon and have never felt a felt so proud of myself and beyond happy when crossing that finish, I couldn't wait for my next race. Since then I've ran three 1/2 marathons, 2 full marathons, a triathlon and several 10k or longer races.  I LOVE TO RUN!
1- PACE. Do NOT sprint as soon as your shoes hit the pavement. Everyone has their own pace and it pays off to stick with it. As a beginner start out slow maybe a 10.5 to 11 minute mile pace for the first 3 miles or more. As time goes on it's amazing how strong your body will get and how fast it will adjust as you push a little harder each day. It's incredible how much stronger and longer you can go if you keep your pace and do not sprint out of the gate. I usually check my pace with my shoes, I know it sounds crazy but with every other step I count 1 - 2, 1 -2, 1- 2 and if my foot hits the pavement before I can get to 2, I know I am running past my pace.

Megan is the one on the left at the NYC Marathon.

2- One of my favorite parts of running is taking in my surroundings. The trees, the road the sounds whatever is around me I try to enjoy it. I always start my run for the first 5-10 minutes with NO music just clearing my head and thinking about my life. Sometimes I dedicate that time to someone in my life. You kind of set your tone for your run and then all of the sudden your in your groove you have cleared your mind and your on your way to a great run. After you've taken in the sounds around you, then go ahead and put in your favorite tunes and really finish your run strong with your favorite beat!
3- Shoes do make a difference: Make sure the shoes you have are right for you. Don't go for the most pretty looking shoes or the best brand but instead go for comfort and your foot style. Some people have higher arches, some have no arch at all. You decide.
4- Clothes do matter: Make sure you not only have comfy clothes on that aren't going to rub but you also need to feel great and confident in your clothes. Running in big sweats and a huge T-shirt is going to hold you back. Put on something that is a bit tighter and show off what you have as you run with confidence!! :-):-)
5- It's "ok" to have a bad run: It was funny to me how one day I could feel incredible and then the next day I could go and run the same distance and feel like I have never ran goes along the same thing as "everyone has a bad day" shake it off and know that tomorrow you will have a better run.

Megan shared many more tips for running, but I want to save those for another post later on.  I like Megan's story because she went from someone who didn't run to a marathon runner and a triathlon contender.  If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is!  What I take away from Megan's story is that you can count on getting stronger everyday.  That's a 100% satisifaction guaranteed promise if you become a runner.  How else can you go from being someone who never thought they could be a runner, to being a marathoner? 
Thanks again, Megan!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Case for Running: The Race

So I meant to post this yesterday, but things (meanly 4 little rugrats needed all of my attention) got in the way.  So here is my day-late installament of A Case for Running.

Ever been at the gym pedaling your hardest on a spinning bike or rotating those legs on a elliptical machine and have someone come up to you and say, "Hey wanna race?"  No.  People don't race on exercise equipment.  Thus, that's all those things are, just exercise. And having something just be for exercise is great.   Running, however, is a form of exercise with the prospect of something exciting happening every once in a while.  I don't know if you've ever been in a race, but they are quite thrilling.  Even if you don't win, the result of having completed an endurance race is very real and extremely rewarding.  After all that hard work to become a better runner, there is a way to show off your new skills at an event that celebrates the conquest over long miles, threatening hills, and a body that you never thought could handle something like running.  If you've got something to work toward, a race or the prospect of even winning a race, you work harder and gain more and more from a sport that most people think is too hard or simply crazy. 
As I posted earlier this week, I completed my first 5K and I didn't come anywhere near winning, but the thrill of running past that finish line knowing that I ran the distance and did my best was the best reward I could've asked for.  All those long miles finally added up to something.  I've done the elliptical thing and, I'm not sure if you've notice, but you don't go anywhere!  Of course any piece of exercise equipment can help us lose weight and tone, but wouldn't it make everything more fun if all of our hard work was for a purpose beyond just getting rid of some love handles?  I loved the feeling from my first race so much that I'm racing again this Saturday in the Scenic River Classic.  I'm doing another 5K to see if I can beat my time.  The prospect of competing against myself, to see if I've gotten better means more to me than any weight loss involved.  This is why running is so great!

So, if you're looking for a reason to become a runner, here is my 4th reason:  The Race!  Here again, I challenge anyone who reads this to sign up for a race.  If you already have signed up, tell me about it.  I'd love to cheer you on, even if I can't be there in person.  If you need help finding a race to run in, let me know.  I've already found a few races for people who aren't from Idaho and I know I can help you find a race too.   

Interested in running a race?  Better train for it! Click here for tips on race preparation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Don't Blow It: Race Day Preparations

I thought now might be a good time to share what I've learned about preparing for a race.  It's not just a matter of running, although that part is highly important.  There is actually a bit more to it than that.  Upon signing up for my first race, I did some research about dos and don'ts.  Here is what I have found:
  • Use the taper:  Tapering means that a week or so before your race, you need to taper down how much you run.  That seems to be backward logic and it makes the runner kind of nervous to be cutting down on the amount of running they do just before a big event, but they'll be happy they did.  "Tapering is designed to allow your body to recuperate, rebuild, and be fresh for race day."  For my 5K, I did this tapering thing.  I slowly brought down the amount of miles I ran in the week before the race and did NO running the day before the race.  I felt good and energized during that race, so I suppose tapering works.
  • Eat accordingly:  If you're planning on running a full marathon, I'd look up info on carb-loading to help you during that kind of endurance race. I don't know if carb-loading is really all that necessary for something like a 5K.   If you're planning on running a shorter race, please make sure that you're providing your body with the right stuff.  And don't throw weird stuff into your diet right before the race.  If you normally eat a bagel slathered with cream cheese right before a run, do the same thing on race day.  You don't want to all of the sudden ask your body to do something different after all that training.
  • Have you bought your tickets to the gun show?:  Do some other exercises to further strengthen your running muscles.  I find the most important ones, to me, to work on are the core muscles (abs).  I find that as I work these muscles, I can run straighter and it relieves some of the burden off my legs and allows me to breathe easier.
  • Get your gatorade on:  As a runner, you need to understand hydration very well.  I've watched videos of runners who simply collasped during a race because they kept skipping the water stations so they could get ahead.  Sports drinks like Gatorade are helpful, but make sure that whatever sports drink you choose matches the one they use in your race.  If it's different, just stick with water.  "The different brands of sports drinks contain varying amounts of carbs and electrolytes.  Some contain other components such as protein.  If you've not tried these products during training, you don't want to risk causing stomach issues on race day."  Now, just because you need to hydrate well does not mean you need to suck it down like a camel.  Too much water will just make you feel sick.  "Drink 16 oz. of water two hours before race time.  This will provide enough time for the water to pass through your system and the excess be voided well before the start."
  • Nighty night:  As should be obvious, get a good night's rest.  Try and get the usual 8 hours, but even if you don't, you should be okay as long as you got a decent amount of rest. 
  • Nice digs:  Make sure to wear something appropriate and comfortable.  "A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it's 15 degrees warmer than it really is."
  • Get siked:  Warming up is a great idea, but don't go hog wild.  As I mentioned in a previous post, stretching before a run or a race is no longer advisable.  What is better is to do 5-10 minutes of brisk walking and a few minutes of light jogging to warm you up.
  • Pace yourself:  While training, find your pace and during the race, stick to it.  Just because Johnny Long Legs passed you going what looked like 50 miles an hour doesn't mean you have to keep up with him. 
  • Soundtrack:  Get some running music that you run to.  Listen to it during every training run.  On the day of the race, before the race starts, listen to that music and you'll get your mind and body reeling to go.  Think of it as your soundtrack, not just your running mix.
  • Keep it together man!:  Whatever happens, crazy weather, last minutes race changes, illness, injury, just trust in your training.!

For more training info, follow the links to find special information on how to train for different races.

Training for a 5K
Training for a 10K
Training for a half or full marathon

Have tips that have worked for you?  Please share!  Leave a comment, become a follower, or email me at

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Race Day

I've done it.  I've completed my first race ever.  It was a 5k in the Teton Dam Marathon.  It was awesome!  So here's the story....

6am:   I wake up.  The race doesn't start until 8:30am, but I'm in Idaho Falls, not Rexburg.  I've got 4 kids to get fed, dressed and buckled in and down to the starting line by 8:30, so yes, getting up at 6am was necessary. 

8:25am:  Get to the starting line just in time for instructions from someone named Mike.  To get there, I had to leave Arik and the kids back at the car while I ran to the start.  My mom found me right off and wished me luck just before we took off.  Then the counting began.  The whole crowd of 5k people start clapping and cheering and counting down from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 ,1 Go!

8:30am:  I start running and I'm just happy to be alongside all of these great people.  Then I see the hill.  I knew there would be hills, I did my homework, but seeing that hill (Millhollow for people that know Rexburg) put a little doubt in my step.  But up I went.  Up and up and up.

I don't have a clue what time it is:  Many people around me are having to walk up the hill.  I really want to walk too, but I don't want to stop running either.  So I just keep at it.  I'm going pretty slow, slower than my usual pace, but I'm running.  A flat part of the hills comes up!  Thank you whoever made this road!

I still have no clue what time it is:  I can see the top of the hill and my lungs and legs are begging me to stop.  I just about stop to walk when Green Day's "Know Your Enemy" comes blasting through my iPod.  Thank you Green Day.  I kick it up a notch determined to get to the top of that &$*#@! hill!

Yup, no idea of the time:  What goes up, must come down. So down the hill I go.  I was really worried about this part since I thought about how badly my knees might hurt while running down a hill.  Since I had a knee injury a week or so ago, I had good reason to be concerned.  Luckily though, my knees didn't hurt at all!  I guess taking it easy and icing them helped out.
Apparently I'm not one of those "attractive runners."

Approaching the sign marked mile 2:  I'm feeling really strong.  I like how I've been able to keep my pace.  I know how important that is in a race and I'm proud of myself for sticking to a pace.  There are a few around me who take the sprint for a while and then walk approach.  By the look on their faces, they don't seem to be enjoying the race as much as others who keep a steady pace the whole time.  There are some cheerleaders along the way and I feel weirded out that some random strangers are clapping for me and whistling, but I still like it.  I see what looks like my mom's car.  Yep, it's my mom!  She honks at me and shouts cheerful words at me to keep me going.  Thanks mom!

Approaching the sign marked mile 3:  So I know I'm getting close and just like a horse who wants to get back to the ranch after a long walk, I speed up.  I don't really mean to do it, but I suddenly want to run faster.  So for the last little bit of the race, I'm practically sprinting.  I turn the corner and see a giant mass of people lining both sides of the street.  There is a huge arch at the finish line that says, of course, "Finish Line."  I'm almost there!  I feel so good I could cry.  I start to wonder how the actual marathoners feel when they get to the finish line. 

Finishing:  As I run past all those faces, I scan the crowd for Arik and the kids.  There they are, just before the finish line.  Arik has the camera and I wave and smile despite how little I like getting my picture taken.  I run past the finish line and into warm congratulations from perfect strangers shoving water bottles in my hand.  The euphoria on the other runners faces is palpable.  Everyone is high on endorphines and adrenaline.  I feel awesome!  I don't feel worn out or sick, I just feel great.  I'm immediately excited for the other races I'm running this summer. 

Last thoughts:
-  If you choose to run in a race, you won't regret it.  I promise.
-  Pacing is very important.  It's hard to kind of ignore the other runners and just run your own race, but you'll be glad you did.
-  Pin your race number onto your shirt the night before.  Perhaps I'm just especially idiotic, but this took me a while.
-  Check your time!  These kind of races, to me, are about beating yourself.  So check your time and see how well you did.  I did the race in 35 minutes and I'm pretty proud of that and the fact that I ran the whole time without stopping.  Race for personal accomplishment and it'll be a great race.
-  Tell people that you're running.  Let your family cheer you on.  It's fun to have total strangers as cheerleaders, but it's even better to see people you know and love on the sidelines beaming with pride. 
-  Commit to race again!  I'm already planning a 10k with my sister-in-law in July and I want to run the Liberty 5k on the 4th of July as well.  Next suimmer, maybe I'll shoot for a half-marathon.
-  Take pictures!  You don't want to let something like this go undocumented!
-  Enjoy the run.  Pacing yourself had a lot to do with this, but make sure to take in the sights around you and enjoy yourself. 
-  Prepare!  I did my race homework and studied the course, so I knew about the hills.  I did some training on hills to prepare, but I could have done more.  Regardless, I made it up those hills and lived to tell about it.

Well, that's my first race experience and I plan to have many more.  If anyone reading this has ever been in a race and wants to share, please do!

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Case for Running: The Runner's Community

So, normally I don't do this post until Monday, but I'm in the process of moving and I don't know when I'll have internet access, so I'm planning ahead and doing it now.

     Hopefully, if you've begun your running journey, you've noticed a sort of camaraderie amongst runners.  I noticed it back before I had the twins.  I was running one beautiful day and a whole bunch of other runners were out too.  Most of us had iPods blaring in our ears, but every single one of us gave a smile and a wave as we passed each other.  Later, while waiting for the crosswalk sign to give me the go ahead, another runner came up to wait with me.  I could tell she was saying something to me, so I turned off the iPod and heard her ask how far I was running today.  "6 miles," I replied.  "That's awesome!"  she said, and off she went.  Yeah, it WAS awesome and thank you, strange runner, for saying so!  Every time I meet a runner of any skill level, I'm always met with kindness and encouragment.  I tell a marathon runner of 10+ years that I finally ran 8 whole miles and she says, "You go, girl!"   She wasn't shutting me down and laughing at my mileage accomplishment.  And she could have considering how many endless miles she's ran and races she's won.  Instead, she patted me on the back and asked to come running with me sometime.
     And whenever someone writes me, since starting this blog, and tells me they want to try running or get back into it, I feel complete happiness for that person, overjoyed that they'll join the running ranks.  If I thought about it, I could feel like this person will most likely be some stiff competition sometime in the future and get a bit uptight and later turn nasty toward that person all in the name of competitive sports.  Nah, I feel too good when I run to act like that! 
     The cool thing about this camaraderie is that when others don't understand your zest for running, we runners will.  When others look at you like you're crazy because you went running at 5 am this morning, we'll be out there with you being just as crazy.  Need a pep talk?  Find a fellow runner and you'll get just that and much more.  Need tips on how to better your time and run farther, ask another runner and you'll freely receive advice and a good helping of encouragement too. 

So, if you're looking into becoming a runner, here is my third reason:  the runner's community.  Join now!

I'm running my first race, a 5K, on the 11th and I can't wait to be on the road with other runners.  I'll make sure to write a post all about my race experience.  Hopefully, I get internet up and running (no pun intended) ASAP when we get to the new house and I can keep posting and reading your awesome comments.

Side note:  I am currently looking into this, but I think that cyclists might have something against runners.  I've never gotten a single wave or smile from one of those folks.  Just something to think about. 

Comment time:  What's your take on the runner's community?  Share encouragment  and advice with us via comments or to my email