Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter: A Runner's Best Friend

So I usually slow down a bit with running during the winter.  I'm a pansy when it comes to being cold and my schedule is always pretty crazy during the school year.  So I use those two things as excuses.
But this winter, I wanted to stay in the action.  I didn't want to deteriorate and have to start over again come spring.  So I got a treadmill.  But I can literally only do about 2 or 3 miles on a treadmill before I want to rip my hair out. It's just so boring.  So I consigned myself to run outside.
Lucky for me, this winter was pretty mild for a while.  Winter running was more like late fall running, which is glorious.
And then it got cold.  Real cold.  And then, miracle of miracles, it snowed.  So do I still run outside?  Do I just spend all of winter inside, hating my treadmill?

Nope.  Despite my aversion to cold temperatures, I went running in the snow.
It was SO fun!

I'm not sure what was fun about it, but I really enjoyed it.  Perhaps being witness to the purifying blanket of snow made it cool.  Perhaps running outside when no one else was made me feel extra bad-A.  Perhaps the cold actually made me feel comfortable the entire run instead of sweating buckets like I do in summer.  Perhaps because there is something ethereal about running along as snow slowly drifts down from the heavens.

Whatever it was, it was fun.  I highly recommend it.

A few things that I've learned about winter running:
-  You can not/will not/should not go as fast as you would during warmer weather.  It is snow after all and snow is ice, so going slower to reduce the risk of injury is a must.  Plus, if the snow is fresh, it's like running through sand; wet, cold, slippery sand.  That'll slow you down for sure.  I was told once that winter running is a time to maintain.  Not being able to break any time records while running in the snow, I get to concentrate on perfecting form and maintaining muscle tone.
-  You make drivers more nervous than just an icy road would.  Even though I run as far to the side as I can on the roads, your presence will make a driver more nervous.  Help them out by being more aware of your surroundings.
-  It's harder to breathe in the really cold air. Keep that in mind when you're setting a pace.
-  If you are skiddish around dogs, winter is the time to go running.  Most owners keep their dogs indoors during the winter, or dogs are less likely to go running after you because they'd rather stay warm lying where they are.  I usually see and meet quite a few dogs on my routes, but I hardly saw any since I start winter running.  
-  It takes me about a mile to stop feeling the cold.  You get warm pretty fast, so no need to pack on the snow gear to go for a run. 
-  Despite that it's ice and snow, I don't slip much at all.  But I'm fully aware that I could biff it at any time.

So, if you've been huddled inside lately cursing the snow for ruining your running schedule, get some long winter running pants and go enjoy yourself.
I promise, you'll have a good run.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Motivation Went to Monte Carlo

You wake up one morning, knowing you should get out and run, but you're not feelin' it.  No problem, one says to oneself, my gal Motivation (yes I think Motivation is a she)  will help me through it.  Except there's a note on your fridge and it says that Motivation went to Monte Carlo and she's not sure when she'll be back. 

Well at least my motivation is in Monte Carlo or somewhere nicer than here.  Perhaps she's just visiting someone else, maybe you, but she's not here. 

I was running along Broadway in Idaho Falls a few weeks back.  It's what I do when I'm waiting for my daughter to get out of her dancing/singing/drama class.  I have to watch the ground quite a bit with all of the haggard sidewalks, the uneven roads and, of course, cars.  I made the observation that no matter how many times they fixed the roads or straightened the sidewalks, it wouldn't last.  Then I tried to think of things that did last.  I found a few, but not many things in this world last.  Motivation is one of those things. 

When I began running after my second daughter was born, my motivation was to drop ten pounds of baby weight that hadn't come off.  Well, I achieved that goal.  So then what was my motivation?  Next it became my goal to run a race.  After my twins were born, I accomplished that goal....many times.  Right now my motivation is to keep my aging body in working order and on the fitter side of life.  But some mornings, I could care less if I go soft and get flabby.  Some days, I could care less that I just downed a whole batch of cookies.  Sometimes, I could care less if one morning that dumb scale betrays me.  So despite the fact that I have goals, like staying in shape and perhaps running a half marathon next summer, I still lack motivation. 

She's a fickle friend, that Motivation.  When she's around, you feel awesome and you feel inspired and you kick butt.  When she's gone, you feel lousy and justified in your decision to not move a muscle today.  So if I can't count on motivation to be ever-present, then what do I do?

That's when it hit me.  Motivation will come and go as she pleases.   When she's gone, am I going to sit around hoping that she'll feel like stopping by in the near future? No, I can't.  I made the decision that I probably gain more when I run without her. 
I've had quite a few runs like this lately.  Apparently, for me anyway, Motivation doesn't like Idaho cold and must be on a beach somewhere right now, because this is the time of year when I least feel like running.  But the runs I've done without Motivation there by my side have been some of the coolest runs I've done.  I don't think I ran better or anything, I just think that the decision to run despite having any desire to do so, gave me a sense of satisfaction that I hadn't previously experienced. 

It's an interesting experience to go solo out there, Motivation having abandoned me for days at a time.  Do I get mad at her for leaving me when she gets back?  Heck no!  I'm glad to see her.  Sometimes she will catch up to me mid-run.  Motivation is always a welcome visitor.  But now I know that I have it in me to run without her too.  And with 4 kids barking at my heels, a house that seems to be in a constant state of messiness, and a long list of to-dos that literally haunts my dreams, I know why Motivation doesn't hang around much.  I mean who wants all that to deal with? 

So  like the roads and sidewalks, Motivation will wither and go away, sometimes returning after getting some work done.  And that's cool.
Motivation can live her own life untethered to me, because I've got this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nite Lites!

Perhaps you remember my post from last year about this race.  If not, come refresh your memory.  If so, you know how flippin' awesome this race is. 

This year, I was accompanied at the race by my sister-in-law, Kristan, and my friend, Alicia.  Both girls were to run the 5k and I ran the 10k. 

I decked myself out in reflector stickers, and a ton of glowsticks, as did Kristan and Alicia.  We got to Teton Running near 10:30.  We were pleasantly surprised that this year, they'd have shuttles to the starting points.  We get in the shuttle about ten to eleven and head out.  I get dropped off first and start my race at approximately 11:05.  I wanted to start at 11:00 as I figured I would need the whole hour to run the 10k and try to finish as close to midnight as I could.  So, I picked up the speed a bit.  The race was as surreal as last year.  A whole bunch of bobbing light, the cool darkness of the night, the occasional flashing cop car signaling a turn.  It was great.  No meteors this year, but that's okay. 
For a long time I was running by myself.   The moon wasn't out or full at least and so it was somewhat disorienting.  All I could see was a blinking blue light a ways down the road.  The light was attached to another runner.  I ran like that, trailing the blinking blue light for what seemed like forever.  Suddenly, I was passing the blue light.  There was no one in front of me, so apparently, I became the one to follow for a while.  Later I sound some more bobbing lights to follow and eventually pass.  
At some point, the 10k course had an "in and out" which means that you'd run a ways and then be told to turn around.  At this point, I spotted Kristan on her 5k run.  We instantly recognized each other's reflectors and glowstick patterns.  At this point, I was probably a mile and a half from the finish.  I've been feeling good the whole race, especially since I had yet to be passed.  That is until about a half mile left.  Out of nowhere these twelve year-old boys who had been half walking and half sprinting passed me.  Ah well, I guess that part isn't too important. 

I see the finish line and that good ole' "Anxious Horse Syndrome" kicks in and I speed up.  I pass the finish line at 12:01.  This means I cut 4 minutes off of last year's run.  Cool!

When all the runners have come in, the awards start.  They are giving out the pumpkin awards first.  This is the award for the guy and gal in each race that finished closest to midnight.  And guess who won the 10k race?  Me!  2nd year in a row!  Not really a prize for speed, but one for accuracy.  I'll take it.  Later I also win a pair of running shorts and a gift certificate to Kiwi Loco.  I cleaned house!  I hung out with Kristan and Alicia after the race and it looked as though they both had a ton of fun too.  Kristan thinks she'll go for the 10k next year!

Once again, Nite Lites was freakin' awesome.  I highly recommend it. 

Kristand and Me before the race.  Check out the reflectors!

Kristan at the finish

Me at the finish

Alicia, Me and Kristan

Kristan and Me at the end

Me with my pumpkin award

Me celebrating my running shorts

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Conquer Something

I did a long run this morning.  I had no idea how long until I got home.  After mapping it out, it was just under 7 miles.  The whole run I had a feeling that it might be that long.  Toward the end, it got hard to keep going.  It was a flat run, and those tend to bore me more often than hilly runs.  But I didn't want to stop.  I would make something in the distance my mark and run to conquer it.  And that's what running is all about; the conquest. 

In the beginning for me, time was my goal.  I wanted to run for a set length of time without stopping.  Later, I wanted to conquer distance.  Often now, it's all about conquering fatigue or the long hill that I haven't dared touch yet.  I feel like if you don't have something to conquer, than what are you doing out there?  And to me, conquering something during a run is more than just reaching a goal.  To me, getting say you conquered that hill or that you conquered those last 6 miles means that you pushed yourself to the brink.  No limping, no crying, no mercy.  Leave nothing on that road, run past the point where you thought you'd die.  Don't just reach your goal, destroy it.    That's what it means to really conquer something.  Don't just eek by.

I was watching the Olympics and I saw one of the running events where a double amputee was running.  The guy had both legs amputated below the knee as an infant and what did he decide to do with his life?  Run!  And he didn't just reach the goal of being able to run, he blew it out of the water by making it to the Olympics.  That's what I call a conquest!

Give yourself something to conquer.  Running is hard work.  There's no doubt about that.  But a determined spirit is unstoppable.
Conquer the distance.  Run your usual distance and then one step more. 
Conquer the time.  Run your usual length and then one minute more. 
Conquer the route.  Run your usual route plus one more hill. 
In my experience, going one extra step, one extra minute, or one extra hill gives you what you need to keep going and you'll find that the next step or next minute or next hill is yours for the conquering. 

The next enemy I have to conquer is 8 miles. I haven't done 8 miles since way before the boys were born.  I plan on it being hard.  I plan on it sucking, probably.  But what worth conquering isn't hard and sucky? 

Sometimes when someone tells me they can't, I want to say, "Are you sure?"  Who knows until you try?

Find something to conquer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hurdles for Hope: Extreme Racing, Extreme Fun

My husband and I did a race last Saturday.  Not any normal race.  It was a 5k obstacle race.  We ran in the Hurdles of Hope!  It was extremely challenging and so so fun.  Since my husband did the race with me, I asked him to write the race story.  So here is his accounting of how things went:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------


We hurdled.



We hoped.



And when I say we hurdled, I mean we jumped, climbed, and dragged our beat-up bodies over massive hay bales, fifteen-foot boot-camp obstacles, walls of fire, and actual hurdles that seemed insurmountable by the end of the race even though they were only three feet high.


At the start


And when I say we hoped, I mean we hoped and prayed that we didn’t fall on our faces in mud, blow out any important joints, collapse in a heap and die, or otherwise publicly humiliate ourselves.


That’s right. We competed in the 2012 “Hurdle for Hope” extreme race in Rexburg, Idaho. (I use the word “competed” lightly here, but we’ll get to that later.)


Anna has been trying to get me into running races for a while now. She loves it, so she naturally wants to share it with me. (Either that or she just takes some sick pleasure in inflicting pain upon her husband. Jury’s still out on that one.) So what better introduction to running races than an extreme-obstacle-course 5k? Right?




Hurdles! Oh the hurdles!
I started training (read “a semi-regular routine of masochism and self-inflicted injury”) a month or so ago. For my first run, I did a full 5k (because I’m an idiot.) After recovering from the resulting knee injuries a few days later, I started over at a mile or so and worked my way back up to 5k. For my last run, I took on the bottom portion of Lincoln road leading up to the windmills, and I was feeling pretty darn good about myself.



Saturday, July 14th. Race day.

It was nice and cloudy, even dropped a little rain every once in a while, and I decided that was the perfect environment for a race. It felt great outside, and I was excited for this challenge. Anna and I didn’t bother dressing up (because we’re lame like that), but it was fun to see the team of Ninja Turtles and the family sporting matching pink bandanas (this little five-year-old boy with no shirt and a pink Rambo bandana looked tough enough to beat the crap out of me). It was less fun to see the dude in short-shorts, muscle shirt, and fake handle-bar mustache who looked like a 70s porn star, but you can’t win ‘em all.

The 5k racers ran in several smaller heats so we wouldn’t trip over each other when we got to the obstacles, and Anna and I set out with the third heat. We hit the spare-tire terrain, which was more funny than difficult, and then entered the Rexburg Nature Park. After jumping a few foot-tall hay bales and standard wood track hurdles (well, I had to use a hand to get over them—I wasn’t as tough as the He-Man: Master-of-the-Universe dude in front of me that was taking the things in a full leap), we came to a section where we dropped down into the wetlands. But the mud pit was pretty small and I was able to leap the whole thing without making a mess of myself. This is cake, I was thinking. I felt fairly awesome about myself.



Mud pit!
We climbed up a small hill, and then dropped straight down into crotch-high muddy water. There was no jumping over this. The whole thing reeked of stagnation, and it felt like we were trudging through a dead-animal-infested swamp. By the time we dragged ourselves out of it, my shoes felt like they weighed twenty pounds apiece, full of mud and rocks. Suddenly, every step took effort and caused pain.

Awesome feeling gone.


And that was just in the first half-mile or so. For the rest of the race, you just had to muscle through it. There were man-made mud pits (definitely less nasty than the swamp water, but always filled your shoes with more rocks and dead weight). There were giant, five-foot-tall hay-bales that you had to sort of leap and roll over. At one point we ran into three of these bales stack on top of one another and you had to climb all the way up and over. There was a whole section filled with boot camp obstacles, including big wooden walls and a roped-off section where you had to crawl on your stomach. And yes, there was even a mini bonfire that had to be leapt over (Anna cut it fairly close on this one, landing just beyond the burning wood.)


Strangely, I think my favorite part of the course was the river. There was a largish stretch where we were running up stream through the Henry’s Fork (at least I think that’s where we were.) It was just the right depth where you could still run if you high-stepped it, and it felt so refreshing to be clean for a few minutes. Of course, I had to stop on the way out to ring out my shoes and cut a little of the extra water weight, but I really enjoyed this section.



The race ended with us running a stretch down the horse-racing track, leaping a few more hurdles, and then diving through a soapy slip-and-slide at the finish line. We ended up finishing at just over forty minutes, which put us at sixty-third and sixty-fourth place out of two-hundred and twenty-four 5k finishers. Obviously, that’s a pretty terrible time for a 5k, but this race really wasn’t about that.



As an introduction to endurance racing, “Hurdle for Hope” was a blast! It was so fun to do something crazy with Anna, and it felt great to push my body through something so difficult. Now hopefully my future races don’t seem anticlimactic and boring by comparison, but I’m looking forward to continuing this new hobby and I’m grateful to my wife for pushing me to take on such a fulfilling
challenge.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With the grace and agility of a slightly lame llama....
And there you have it.  This was Arik's first race.  I recently talked him into running and when I saw this race I knew he'd love it.  I have to admit that I was somewhat jealous watching him leap like a gazelle over some of those hay walls, but also super impressed and proud.    I had a ton of fun doing this even though it was the longest 5k of my life.  I have to say that one of my favorite obstacles was leaping over the firepit.  I think the hint of danger in that one made it cool.  The boot camp-like walls were the most challenging for me.  Next year, I need to beef up my upper body strength so those walls don't seem so daunting.  I keep discovering bruises, cuts, and scrapes from that day, but I wear them with pride. 
All in all, rain and mud and fire and rivers and hay bales and 15-foot walls, it was a blast.  It's on our summer to-do list from this time forward. 



Have a race experience you just HAVE to share?  Send it to me at annadurfee@yahoo.com.

Friday, June 29, 2012

To Bone and Back: Hills....hills....and more hills....and still some more....and yup here come some more hillls.....ooo, that one looks tough

Note to reader:  This is a wicked long story as it bascially tells 8 different race stories.


I woke up the morning of the race feeling good and anxious.  I had trained on hills.  I knew I could run 5 miles on them.  But, there's always that ping of doubt as to whether you'll master the hill or if the hill will humilate you in front of all your friends. 

Adrian, Kristan, and Me
6:50am I meet up with my team.  I only know two members; my brother and his wife.  Adrian, my brother, will be running the 3rd leg and Kristan will run the first leg.  I meet Justin, Jonathon, Chris, Patrick, and Miles.  Justin is a friend of my brother's.  He'll be doing the 2nd leg.  The 2nd leg is agreed to be the hardest leg.  So immediately I'm impressed with Justin for taking it.  Jonathon will be doing the 5th leg, which is my leg but backwards.  Seems like a nice guy.  Chris is our last leg runner.  She only got word that she'd be running with us 24 hours ago.  It's pretty awesome that she would agree to this.  Patrick and Miles are a father/son duo.  Patrick is going to help Miles, his son, run his leg and he'll also be running his own leg.  Double duty. 
And then there was me.  I was to run the 4th leg.

7:00am we meet at the starting line and see Kristan start us off.  We all have personal goals for our legs.  For some, it's to simply not die.  For others, specific time goals are in place.  Kristan wanted to finish her leg in under an hour.  I've shared Kristan's running story on here before.  Recently, she's worked up to run a 5k.  She thought her leg was going to be a 5k or 3.2 miles until a day or so before the race when we let her know that her leg would be 5 miles.  She didn't flinch, she just went to it.  Some runners might have freaked out a bit to realize that they'd have to run longer than they've been training to do.  But Kristan seemed to take it in stride. 

Adrian and Dani
The rest of us jump in the support vehicle and drive up to where the first handoff will be.  While waiting, I get to know the other runners.  Most of them seem to know each other already.  They are a pretty cool bunch of people who seem like a lot of fun. 
Kristan shows up 55 minutes after starting.  She made her goal!!!  She looks happy and I might say a little giddy.  She did a really good job and you can tell she feels proud of her accomplishment. 

Justin takes off on his leg and we all decide to stop every mile or so to cheer him on and to be ready with water or whatever else he needs.  The 2nd leg is brutal.  It's almost ALL uphill.   About half way through the leg, you can tell Justin hurts and would like nothing more than to drag one of us out the car to trade spots with him.  But he just keeps going.  We cheer him on.  Drive a little bit and then cheer him on some more.  Justin makes it to the handoff and Adrian takes off. 
We all pat Justin on the back, run and get him water and orange slices.  He looks extremely tired.  He turns around to look back down the hill, as do we all, and we're amazed at the climb in elevation he just did.  The fact that he's still standing amazes us all.

Onto to Adrian.  We do the same for Adrian as we did for Justin.  My husband and kids find us and travel behind us as we follow Adrian.  We drive a little, cheer him on, drive a little, offer water and cheer him on.  Adrian is doing well.  His hip starts to bother him and so walking a bit becomes necessary.  I know I'm running after Adrian, so I'm getting a little nervous seeing how absolutely huge these hills are.  The ones I've been training on seem like these hills' babies or something.  We get to the next handoff.  I quickly head to the bathroom and then warm up before Adrian gets here.  We all see Adrian coming down the last hill.  He looks tired but he just keeps coming.  Before I know it, he's at the handoff, and I'm off to discover what hills lie in wait for me. 

Always go potty before you run 5 miles of hills.
I start on an uphill, but my adrenaline is pumping so much, I reach the top without even realizing it.  I get a nice big down hill and then I see it.  The first big hill.  It winds up and around a hill and it looks long and steep.  I start my ascent and the steepness of the hill makes my legs feel like I'm trying to run in sand.  I make it up that hill hoping for some flat ground for a while.  I get my wish, but the lovely flatness is over too soon and I'm going up again.  It goes on like this for what seems like forever.  A little, tiny, punie, spot of flat ground followed by another giant hill.  My legs are screaming.  My lungs tell me to stop.  But I'm stubborn during races.  I have yet to have to stop and walk during a race.  I'm NOT going to walk in this one.  My ascent up what I hope is my last hill nearly brought me to my knees.  I so desparately wanted to stop and walk.  To help change up which muscles I was using and in a effort to give me legs some kind of reprieve, I started to run backwards up the hill.  It helps a little, but it made me go a lot slower.  So I turned myself around and kept going.  That last hill seemed like an eternity.  I get to the top thinking that now my legs can enjoy a little jaunt on flat ground.  It was flatter, but not entirely, so my legs didn't get a full rest until much further down the road.  You can spot the handoffs because of the large amount of cars that surround them.  I kept looking for those cars when I got to the top of this hill.  No cars yet!  $&*%@!   And the heat of the day was rising rapidly.  Where were the blasted cars?!

My wonderful teammates and my husband and kids were great cheerleaders.  If they hadn't been there, I would have walked for sure.  The unintelligible yet encouraging screams as they passed.  The cheerful honks.  The lovely water they ran along side to give me. Seeing my girls hanging out the car window chanting, "Go, mom, go, mom!"  It was just fabulous. 
They drive up on ahead to the handoff and for a mile it's just me.  I have one last hill to go and then I'm done.  As I make my ascent up the beast, I fully expect jelly-like legs and burning lungs.  Shockingly, my speed doesn't break and I'm climbing this hill much faster than the others.  I call this phenomenon, "The Anxious Horse Syndrome."  Ever been on a long horse ride?  When you get close to home again, watch out, because that horse might just take off.  That was me.  I knew I only had a mile left and my legs just went faster.  I felt like I'd lost control of myself.  I crest the hill and see the barrage of cars!!  The last little bit is all downhill.  Usually I might be cautious going down hill, but I just ran for it.  I see my husband, kids, and teammates cheering me on and I run faster.  I can wait to get rid of this stupid bone baton!  I hand off my bone to Jonathon and he takes off.   I find myself in my husband's arms as he half hugs me and half holds me up.  I get some high fives from teammates, another hug from my brother and orange slices from my kids.  Then Adrian tells me my time.  48 minutes!  What?!  I ran faster than a 10-minute mile?  This is just icing on the cake.  I beat those hills and did it in a pretty decent time too.  Despite how hard that run was, I feel great.  Later in the day, we all agree that the 4th leg is probably the 2nd hardest. 

Soon we need to catch up to Jonathon.  I bid farewell to Arik and the kids and get in the support vehicle to go cheer on Jonathon.  When we catch up to him, we see that he's making pretty good time.  It's really hot now and running that far and that hard in the blazing heat makes everything that much harder.  We cheer on Jonathon, hand him some water.  Adrian runs alongside him for a bit, dispensing some epic encouraging words I'm sure.  Before we know it Jonathon is done and in 51 minutes.!  He beat his last time and he's thrilled.  Now it's Miles' turn. 
Patrick, his dad, is going to run with him for support.  Miles is only 8, so this will be a feat for him.  The kid did awesome!  He needed frequent walking and water breaks, but he just kept going.  You could tell he was horribly tired, but he wanted to finish his leg.  Go Miles!!
Next is Patrick's turn.  This guy is probably our best runner.  He did To Bone and Back last year on a two-man team.  Meaning he ran 20 of these miles last year!    Patrick's method of running means you walk when you need to so when you start up again you're going faster.  I'll have to try that some day.  We cheer on Patrick and he screams, "I love you guys!" as he runs past.  40 minutes later, Patrick comes barrelling into the hand off and Chris takes off for the last leg of To Bone and Back.

Chris' leg is mostly downhill and flat, but she's running in the worst heat.  She running really fast and strong and she takes advantage of the water we offer at every mile.  She alternates between dumping it on her head and drinking it.  It was blasted hot.  She doesn't slow and doesn't walk.  We're so close to home, I think she's got the Anxious Horse Syndrome too.  When she gets close to the finish line, we all join her and run past the finish line together.  It was an awesome feeling to cross the finish line as a team. 

We end the day with pictures, ice cream, Great Harvest bread, hot dogs and very very tired legs. 
It was an awesome race and I will definitely do it again next year.  The whole team aspect and the support is what made this race so awesome.  The difficulty of the run was even awesome. 
I'll probably find some tougher hills to train on next year so I can try and beat my time, but I hope to do this race every year. 

Thanks to my great teammates, my husband and my kids who supported me during training and on race day.  I couldn't have done it without you!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hold Onto Your Hats, I'm Going Spiritual

I was slaving away on my treadmill this morning, prepping for my race on Saturday.  I didn't run yesterday.  Laziness got the better of me.  And guess what?  Yesterday I felt like dung all day.  Today I was determined to run, despite being home alone with 4 children who can't be trusted farther than I'd like to throw them sometimes.  After I got into my groove on the treadmill, I looked down at my speed.  I was comfortably going at a speed that a week ago would have left me breathless.  I got a big grin on my face and pushed the speed up higher.  Then a euphoria hit.  My grin got bigger and the thought occurred to me that I'm smiling and happy not just because something that was once hard isn't anymore, it was because I wasn't beat today by laziness.  And then another thought occurred to me. (I know!  Two whole thoughts during a run?  How does she do it?!)  I realized that the Adversary doesn't want me to run.  At that thought I laughed out loud.  Why would Satan care whether I ran or not?  Isn't he supposed to be focused on getting me to damn myself?   But I kept having the strong feeling that he is trying to keep me from running. 

Running is a major source of happiness for me.  I've described in past posts that I feel closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior when I run, especially outdoors.  Running gives me confidence to face other challenges.  Basically, running has a whole lot going for it that Satan is adamantly against.  And then another thought came to me.  He doesn't want me not to run because of an injury or weather restrictions, he wants me to give up on running because of laziness.  That would be the ultimate defeat because it would be my own decision.  An injury kind of makes the decision for you.  If you care about your body and a full recovery, an injury requires you to stop running for a while.  Severe weather that could be dangerous to run in also makes the decision for you.  But laziness?  Laziness is a choice made by you and only you.  And he wants me to make that choice. 

Here's how the process would go:  Knowing that I chose to be lazy over choosing to run would have a pretty negative effect on my self confidence and self-esteem.  Low self-esteem tends to lead to other bad choices in a futile effort to regain my self-esteem.  Bad choices lead me farther and farther from God and His influence and happiness starts to seem like a distant memory. 

I know, I know.  Running is not my only source of happiness.  Family, my job, my church calling, friends.  These all add to my happiness as well, but all in different ways.  The joy that I feel from conquering my own body only comes from running.  I need that to be part of the equation. 


And without running, I doubt I would have thoughts like these.  Thoughts that better help me to understand my relationship to eternity and everything it encompasses.

So down with laziness and thoughts of "I just can't do this today"!!    Hold onto the choice to be happy and never let go.

Happy Running!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Let's Share: Wendy's Story

This story comes from my Aunt Wendy.  It is both her story about how she got into running and her first race. Wendy is like my second mother. She is like my own mom in so many ways; supportive, upbeat, insightful, thinks everything I say is funny, etc.  In short, I love this woman!  She has three grown children, two little grand kids, she's unbelievably loving and awesome in all ways and she is rocking her fifties in a way that I want to emulate. Here is her story:

Until about February of this year, the only running I had done was when I was a little girl, but in years since, running was done completely by accident. You know, when a bee is chasing me, trying to catch the mailman before he passes...like that. If there ever was a time my kids saw this rare event, you might hear them say, "LOOK! Mom is actually running!!!" Let me make this clear upfront....I hate exercising and everything about it. I don't like my heart racing, even though I know it's good for me. (Can't I get the same cardio workout by watching a reeeeally scary movie?) I don't like the sweating and the having to wash my hair afterwards every single time. I don't like the sore muscles and let's face it...it's boring. So, for the most part, I didn't feel it necessary to put myself through all this. There was no motivation or purpose to it. Until.....
Wendy sloshing through the mud during the Dirty Girl Mud Run
This year has been a huge milestone for me. For the last couple of years, my body has been building up to full blown menopause. The hotflashes, night sweats, the crying every single day about nothing and the sleepless nights. I finally found a wonderful doctor who prescribed bio-identical (all-natural) hormone replacement therapy. The symptoms subsided and I felt better but noticed that this was the first of three pieces of evidence. The second was when my youngest child, my only daughter, went off to college leaving me an empty-nester. The third was a birthday. No, not my 50th...my 52nd. I don't know why this one hit me worse than the 50th. Maybe because everyone made turning 50 so fun. 52 isn't a milestone, so no one really makes a big deal. Which I really don't have a problem with, since I want to ignore the number anyway. But there it all was, evidence that I was getting "old"....er. I asked myself, "What could I do to feel young again?" I knew it would have to be something I had to work for....something completely out of my comfort zone...something I didn't think I could do. Hmmmmmm. Then I finally read some of Anna's Running Story blog. I laughed and wept and was completely pulled into the inspiring stories that were there. The next day, I went to work and told a friend about it and she suggested I start training for a 5K called The Dirty Girl Mud Run. It was a run for breast cancer and not only was it a 5K but an obstacle course, where the obstacles were in mud. She said her and I and her sisters and friends could all run together as a team. I didn't even think about it. I just knew I had to do it. So Team Tickle Me Pink was born and I started to train the next day. The day after my first run...barely a mile walking and running... I was so sore, I knew my body had turned on me. But I wasn't going to let that stop me. I ran three times that week, four times the next and five times almost every week until the race...until I could run 2 miles without stopping. I knew I wouldn't be able to run the whole 5K and might have to walk some of it, but didn't care. My goal was to do every single obstacle and to finish the race. I could hardly believe how excited I was....me....to RUN in a race....running....ME!! I didn't know this person. A person who didn't care about the sweat pouring down her back or the muscles that screamed at her the next day. Someone who is NOT a morning person, who didn't mind getting up an hour earlier in the morning to run, no less. But I was getting to know her and I LIKED her...ALOT. This wasn't the actions of an "old" woman. I had more energy, I was happier, able to handle a stressful job better and everything that everyone ever told me about running was absolutely true...the good AND the bad.
Two days before the race and I knew I was ready. On my way to work that morning, one of my dearest friends in the world called to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She said the doctor's prognosis was good but that she had a fight in front of her. She had absolutely no doubt she could fight the good fight. After hanging up and through the tears I remembered that I was running for a cure for breast cancer. Now the run took on a new meaning for me. I wasn't just running to prove something to myself. I was running for her and any doubts of finishing were smashed. I WOULD FINISH.
The day of the race....I was a little nervous but so determined and excited. It started and I began to run..."this was going to be easy" I thought. I came to obstacle after obstacle....a mountain of hay bales, crawling under a cargo net in mud...a mud pit that we had to run through. I loved it. This was a piece of cake. I got to the first water station and they told us we had run 1/2 a mile. WHAT?! I thought it was at least a mile. I knew then I had a fight in front of me. The rest of the race was long, difficult, hot, muddy and I had to walk some of it. The obstacles started getting harder....climbing over a wall with a rope, jogging through tires when my legs felt like jello but I refused to stop. The last water station and they said we only had about 3/4 of a mile left but I looked ahead and saw a steep hill. Tears started down my cheeks as I felt I could not get up that hill that looked like a mountain to me and then I heard my team mates cheering me on....telling me I could do it and not to give up....in my head I heard my friend who would be fighting for her life, saying, "If I can do it...you can do it." So I started up the hill and felt the rush of knowing I was not going to stop. I made it to the top of the hill only to be met by the last obstacle....a 30-foot cargo net going straight up and over the other side. I didn't even consider stopping but with muscles so tired and tears streaming down my cheeks, I slowly and steadily climbed that net and descended the other side where my teamates were waiting to cross the finish line together. They said, "lets run the last bit." My head didn't think I had anything left for the finish line, but my heart knew better. Near exhaustion, we all jogged that last bit through the mud and crossed the finish line. It was euphoria!!! All these women, hugging each other, weeping openly, taking pictures, laughing, celebrating...it was something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Wendy is #365.
The morning after the race, I woke up and thought, "Oh good. I don't have to get up and run this morning." I started to get out of bed and my body was so sore and bruised, it felt like it was an 80 year-old woman. How ironic. Something that made me feel so young at heart had left my body feeling like this. I moved around a bit, did some laundry, paid some bills and could feel my muscles loosening up....a fleeting thought came to me...."why not run, even though you don't have to train anymore?" I groaned, got dressed, put the running shoes on, grabbed my IPod and ran the saddest one mile run you've ever seen, nearly limping the whole way, wondering what the neighbors watching thought. "Is she okay? Why is running if she is injured?" I giggled as I ran and felt ....young.
And now as I glance over at my "wall of inspiration" filled with mementos of people in my life who have inspired, encouraged and loved me, I now see my muddy shoes and running number hanging there and I find myself inspired by...of all people....me.
Thank you Anna...for your stories. You are the "fountain of youth" and have made this "old" woman, young again.
 
I really love Wendy's story and I'm so so proud of her.  What I like best about everything is that she got up and ran the next day too.  The race wasn't the end, it was just the beginning.    Running is a funny thing.  It's so dang hard and it's exhausting, but the accomplishment of having run the distance or the race or that huge hill is what we're really after.  And I don't care what anyone says, it is always inspiring to read a story like Wendy's and it's always inspiring to watch someone push past the point where they thought they couldn't go.    Thanks, Wendy, for that fabulous story.
 
P.S:  I need to get myself to Georgia and run this race with you next year!  It sounds so fun. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Didn't Die! How 'Bout That!

So a few days ago I was on a hilly run.  When I get to Lincoln hill, I silently swear to myself.  That hill can be killer.  The first part hurts and then it levels out a bit and then goes up again on the second part and I've had to walk part of it everytime.   The going is slow on that hill which is just plain annoying.   By the time I get to the top, my calves are on fire.  I don't mean like some nice campfire either.  I mean the kind of fire that sets hell a blaze!  My lungs are expanding to their fullest and I still feel like I need more air.  But a few days ago, things changed. 

I started my ascent up Lincoln hill feeling unusally good.  My legs felt springy.  My lungs felt strong.  But I prepared myself for that good feeling to end once I really got up there.  Before I knew it, I had completed the first part of the hill and I still felt great.  Not just normal great.  At the top of the first part, I got probably the biggest endorphine rush I've ever had while running.  Inside my head, I let out a warrior cry to rival Mel Gibson from Braveheart and I started up the second part with barely a pause.   I resisted doing my warrior cry out loud because a nearby cow was staring at me and I wasn't sure how it would react should I start screaming like a mad woman.  Side note:  Cows freak me out. 
The second part was starting to take the spring out of my legs and my lungs started to beg for mercy, but amazingly, I wasn't slowing down.  I think I actually may have sped up!  In a haze of endorphine and the theme song of Rocky in my head, I made it to the top WITHOUT STOPPING.    I kept on going down the otherside of the hill and finished my run practically skipping back home. 

A few days later, I went on a 5 mile run on the rollings hills above my house.  Up one long hill, and down another, up again, and down again....repeat.  And did that one too without stopping and without being in pain at the end. 

Hills are still harder than flat ground.  They still put more burn in my legs than a normal run.  But hills no longer dominate me.  Training on hills has done more for me as a runner than so many flat runs.  I still love flat runs, so don't get me wrong.  But hills are my little thing I got going on the side.   Shhhh... don't tell my flat runs.

 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Let's Share: Alicia's Story

Let me just start off by saying that this next runner, Alicia, is flippin' amazing!   She is in my ward and a new friend.  She is one of the most upbeat people I know and it's not because life has been all that kind to her all the time.  She seems to find the blessing in every aspect of life and I find that inspiring.  She has 6 kids (right, Alicia?) and she is busy at work getting her nursing degree.  I'm so glad I've made friends with her.  She'll be running with me in the Nite Lites race in August and I simply can't wait.  Here is her story in interview format. 


How did you first get into running? I started running when I was 17 and gettin gready to go into the US Navy. I was about 30lbs overweight (though I was still small) and my recruiter told me to change my diet and start running. I actually started running on hills! Everything else felt so easy after that. I ended up losing 30lbs in 1 month. Granted this was when I was 17 and I ran 3 times a day: 7am, 1pm, and 6pm. I ran 3 miles each time. I know it sounds crazy but that is what I did.
Why did you choose running over another form of exercise? After I was enlisted in the US Navy I was forced to run everywhere in bootcamp. When I got out of bootcamp I kept running because of how good it made me feel. I loved the release it gave me and the Runner's High, yes it does exsist. Other exercise woul dbore me quickly. Running I could go anywhere I wanted and have a different view each time if I wanted.
Running has been the only way for me to lose any weight, aside from good diet. Running is just an amazing full body workout.


What keeps you motivated? Motivation is such a deceiving word. Motivation leaves you in the dust when you need it most. Running sucks, it is hard, and you can always think of a million reasons why not to do it. Motivation can come in many forms: Being more fit, losing weight, wearing a smaller size, having killer legs, beign one of those cool runner's you see going down the road. Whatever it is that gets you of your butt and out the door, hold on to it and work it for all it is worth!
What do you like about running? I love the freedom. I love to run outside, though I use my treadmill when I have too. I love the feeling of being able to go outside and just go. With lots of kids at home it gives me the time to put my music on, crank it up to a ridiculous volume, and just be me for a little while.
I love the feeling I get when I feel unstoppable. I love feeling my body work like a fine oiled machine. I love feeling strong.


Do you have a specific personal fitness goal in mind when you go out and run? How is it going so far? I don't really think of anything specific, though I enjoy the benefits of running. I would like to lose weight and get to my goal weight by next year. Running will totally help me. I have a goal to be able to run a Half-Marathon, that won't happen sitting around.
I am doing ok with these goals. I am starting to lose weight, though probabl ynot noticeable to others. Though I am slow right now I know I will get stronger and gain more endurance to reach the finish line at a Half-Marathon.

What are your thoughts on racing? I love racing. I was not really a fan of racing for a while because my father owns a racing business. I have worked the races, and from behind the scenes it is not a "fun" thing. People's bad attitudes got to me and I avoid races all together. However, this year I made a goal to do 1 5K a month and improve each month, or just finish! Not having to work at the race makes it far more fun. I do not race against others, and I don't care if I am last. I race against myself and for myself.
Just a word from behind the scenes: Be nice to the people working the race and especially the Race Director. It takes far more time and effort than one would think to make a race come together and the workers can only make everything so perfect. Giving suggestion sis fine, but don't be a jerk about it.


What bits of advice do you have for other runners, especially those that are just starting out? Just do it! Do I have to pay to say that? Just get out there a few times a week. Give your self a small time limit and go until you are done. Even if you have to start out walking, get out there! You can not get any better unless you push yourself. I have been running on and off for 15 years and it has been a love/hate relationship.I have started running at my lowest weight and also at over 250lbs. Don't make excuses, you can do it! If you want to run, then do it. If someone tells you that you can't do it, turn around and tell them, "Watch Me!"



 What have you learned about fitness, your body, motivation, committment, life, etc, since becoming a runner? I have learned that all the limits I have set for myself are not real. I have accomplished things I had never thought possible. I finished my first Triathlon weighing 261lbs. I was slow, but I did it!! You do not have to be in perfect shape or a size 6 to be a runner/athlete. You let go of all the things you tell yourself and what others tell you and every day you reach for more. Don't set limits, it will only hold you back. Our bodies want to be healthy, they want to work well for us.
I learned if you wait for motivation to get you going, you will never get past a week or two. Don't wait for motivation, it is not a lasting thing. Make a commitment and stick to it. Commitments are things I keep even when everything is working against me. They are not negotiable and my commitment is what gets me out and going.
Make goals and dream big. Little known secert about me....I have a goal to compete in a fitness competion some day. If you know me you'll figure that day is not today. However, I will get there. I don't care if I win, I want to prove to myself I can do it. I can't run a Half-Marathon today, but I know I will be able to.
Don't let anyone stop you.




You simply cannot beat this girl's attitude!  I know when I don't feel like running for the day, I get on Alicia's facebook page and find one of the inspirational quotes she posts on there and I'm all set.  Thanks for sharing, Alicia.  It was a great story.

If you know someone I should be interviewing, let me know!  Contact me via facebook or email annadurfee@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What I Know About Dogs

Did I suddenly change this blog from all things about running to all things about members of the canine family?  Just for one post I am.  Recently, I've heard a lot of runners talk about the apprehension they feel when they run past a dog or in a neighborhood with dogs.  I can totally understand why.  You're alone, the dog runs at you, you're not sure if he is friendly or not and worst of all, the owners are nowhere to be seen. 
I grew up with 3 dogs.  Yup 3.  We also had 2 cats, but I doubt any runner is scared of the neighborhood cat population.  Anyway, growing up with 3 very different dogs, I've learned a bit about how they operate and why they act certain ways.  So, to perhaps aleviate some fear of the dogs on your running route, I thought I'd share what I know about dogs.

Thing I Know #1:   Dogs are social creatures and very curious.  So when you run past and they run up to you, they are most likely not looking for the best spot to sink in their teeth.  They are checking you out.  They want to sniff you, maybe lick your hand and they want to see what the heck you're doing.  They may also want to see if perhaps you have anything good to eat.  So what do you do?  Let 'em sniff.  Let them jog with you for a while.  Sometimes I slow down to a speedy walk and hold my hand out.  I let them sniff me and after a good sniff, I get going again.

Thing I Know #2:  Even though a dog is barking at you, it does not mean he wants to hurt you.  Dogs bark to say "hello."  They bark to say, "Stay away", they bark to say, "Can you come play?"   Barking does not mean that he's upset necessarily.  The best way to see how a dog really feels is to look at his tail.  If he is still wagging that tail, then he is most likely just saying hello.  And there is a big difference between friendly barks and mean barks.  Usually if the dog is a dangerous one, his bark will sound more like a growl and way more ferocious.

Thing I Know #3:  Different breeds have different personalities.  So, if you run past the same dog everyday, figure out what kind he is and do some research.  This will either put your mind at ease after you find out that he's the most friendly breed in the entire word, or it will give you some very good information that can help you decide whether or not you should change your route.

Thing I Know #4:  Dogs love to chase!  And the fact that we're running means they will want to chase us.  Chasing you, once again, does not necessarily mean he wants to hurt you.  He thinks you're playing.  If it makes you nervous, the best thing to do is to walk past instead of run.  A long time ago, when I was a kid, someone (possibly my parents) told me to never run from a dog.  If the dog really is mean and you run away from him, he'll give chase.  Stand your ground or simply walk slowly away.  I had one experience with a very mean St. Bernard.  I was running past when I saw him coming at me.  Something about him made me realize he was not a nice dog.  He was growling and his tail was NOT wagging.  I slowed down to a very slow walk.  In a very calm voice, I just kept saying, "It's okay, boy, it's okay."  If I had run, I have no doubt he would have chased me.    So, if you don't want the dog to run with you, just slow down at his house and when you start running again, just go slowly.  Most dogs don't go too far beyond their own property.

Thing I Know #5:  Dogs protect.  They are hard wired to protect their owners.  So when a stranger walks or runs past THEIR domain, they will protect it.  This usually means, for most dogs, that they will bark at you or sit at the very edge of their property to make sure you don't try anything funny.  They are simply doing their job.  Let them!  I sometimes just cross to the other side of the street so they don't feel threatened by me.

Thing I Know #6:  Mean dogs, truly mean dogs usually have to be raised that way.  Just because you see a Pitbull, does not mean he's contemplating ripping out your jugular.  If a Pitbull or any dog is mean enough to bite or attack it's because he was trained to do so or he's been mistreated.  Luckily, most owners DON'T train their dogs to attack.   Dogs will run at you, bark at you, chase you a little, but all for the reasons already mentioned.  I was running with my sister-in-law once.  She is scared of dogs and she'll admit it.  We passed a house and a dog came streaking out of the house and headed right for us.  He stopped at the edge of his lawn and barked at us with all his might.   Keersten got scared, but I reminded her that he's just protecting his property.  I think she said something, like, "Oh, okay." And we continued on without incident.  It's normal to be a little frightened when a dog does something like that, but just remind yourself what you now know about dogs and hopefully your can continue on your run without having messed your shorts. 

Despite the fact that most dogs are friendly and wouldnt' hurt a fly, it only takes one bad experience with a dog to make us distrust the entire species.  Remember that St. Bernard I had an encounter with?  Despite having lived with 3 dogs and being very comfortable around dogs, that one experience put a little fear in my step now when I go running past dogs.  So I definitely understand why runners might feel the same way.  Here is what I recommend:

1.  Stay friendly.  If a dog is barking at you, say something in the most friendly voice you can summon.  "Hey boy!  How ya doin'?!"  Dogs can hear the friendliness in your voice, trust me.
2.  Run with a squirt bottle or pepper spray.  I run with pepper spray mostly because of the mountain lion scare last year, but I figure that if I was ever attacked by a dog, I would have a pretty good defense.  A squirt bottle with some water in it would simply discourage them from running with you, if it makes you nervous.
3.  If you're really concerned about a certain dog on your route, talk to the owner.  Owners are often times very obliging in these situations.  Afterall, if their dog were to hurt someone, they could lose their dog for good.  The owner definitely has a reason to make sure you're safe when you run past.  Ask them to make sure the dog is tied up.  Or just ask the owner about the dog's personality.  Most owners know their dogs well enough to know whether they would ever hurt anyone.
4.  This one will sound silly, but you might consider carrying some dog treats.  I know that sounds stupid, but if you're really nervous about the dogs along any given route, it might help.  I don't know a dog in this world who wouldn't stop dead in his tracks to gobble up a treat.  That and giving him a treat will show him you mean no harm.
5.  Run with a buddy.  I think being alone is a big part of why dogs may alarm us runners.  When you're with someone, it helps lessen the fear.  Better yet, run with someone who is comfortable around dogs.  Or even better yet, get a dog and make HIM your running buddy. 


If you've had a bad experience with a dog, I challenge you to try and have some good experiences with dogs.  The more good experiences you can have the more that one bad experience will fade away. 

Happy Running................dogs and all!!


 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let's Share: Robyn's Story

Robyn Whitworth shared her running story with us last season and it was a wonderful story.  Click here to see that one.  But I asked her to share with us again because she's taken her running to a new level and really honed in on a specific weight loss goal.  Every time she posts something about running or losing weight on facebook, I get inspired and so I knew she might inspire someone else who reads this blog.  So once again, ladies and gentlemen, I'm honored to share Robyn's story.

The other day I was talking with a group of people who are very close to me whom I recently challenged to run a 5K with me this summer. About 1/2 accepted the challenge and I was asking one of them how the training was going and asked, "So tomorrow you will probably go run 20 minutes or so?" And one of the friends who didn't accept the challenged piped up and exclaimed, "Run for 20 minutes?! That sounds so weird. Who would just get up and freakin run for TWENTY MINUTES and be excited about it?!! I can barely fathom running a mile let alone TWENTY MINUTES!!!"'
This exclamation startled me. Not only because my mind's eye took me immediately back to high school when I would have said, or probably did say, the exact same thing.... but because just the day before this conversation I had run for 40 minutes (4 miles) and loved every minute of it!
So many voices claiming this or that about heath and fitness and might I add stereo types that dominate this world of ours. But here is what matters- YOU and YOUR THOUGHTS ALONE. Do you secretly wish you could run 10, 20, 30, or holy cow, how about 40 minutes and love it? I am willing to bet that most women I know do. I know I did. There was a time I didn't ever think it was possible because of my self proclaimed inability to do such things because of my "genetics"..... PAHAHAHAHAAAA. Such naivety.
Let me make one thing clear to anyone who is reading this- runner or not-

You have a power inside you that only you can unleash. It is there. You can do, achieve, change, learn anything you want. But YOU have to choose to do it.

Our bodies are incredible. Ask any doctor, nutritionist, physical therapist, athletic/weight-loss trainer and they will agree. Just realize that it starts one step at a time. Next time you go out there and run or simply walk, just think, "Everyone has to start somewhere and I am starting today- and for the record, I am moving a lot faster than everyone else who is not out here too!"
I said that to myself for 2 years and here I am. I was recently described by a friend as "an avid runner." WHAT?! Me? The "chubby girl," the most un-athletic person in my family while I was at home? Wow. When did that happen? One step at a time. I have also been motivated to change my eating habits and shed some of that "baggage" or extra 40 lbs I have slowly gained and grown accustomed to over the last 15 years. I started with the same thought, "Everyone has to start somewhere, and I am starting today."
I did some research, talked to many doctors and friends who have had successes and I am proud to say that as of today I have lost 20 lbs and 29 inches of "baggage" in the last 4 months without a gym membership or special supplements just good eating and exercising right. It can be done people. YOU will make it happen.
Unleash your inner power and self-love that is there. Find the time- you know its there, get an iPod of some kind and load your favorite upbeat motivational songs for your workouts/runs/walks (I promise you music helps more than you think), buy some GOOD new shoes to save your knees and get going.


Thank you Robyn for your thoughts on running and on life.  The best line was "Everyone has to start somewhere and I am starting today."  Every time I've had to get back into running after a baby is born, it's hard.  It's hard because I have to condition my body again and it's hard because I'm tired and busy and unmotivated.  But like Robyn says, just take that first step, start today and get going.  Might I just add, once you get going, DON'T look back.  Keep your head up and look forward and leave everything else behind.  This is the new you and there is no end.  Just keep going.  I think Robyn's weight loss is amazing and shrinking 29 inches just blows my mind.  Wahoo, Robyn!!  I'm sure she is happy with her progress, but more than not, it seems as if she's happy to be running and that's the best part!  Thanks again, Robyn. 

If anyone out there wants to share, I'd love to hear from you.  Some of the people who I know read this better watch out, because if you don't offer up a story, I will hunt you down. 

Happy Running!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Running Stories

I had this feature going last year.  It went really well I think.  I asked other runners to share their stories with all of us.  Working together, I think we mutally inspired each other to give it our all.  So I'm starting that up again.  Here is what I'm after:  A story about how you got into running, why you stay at it and what motivates you.  A story about one particular run or a race story.  Or any other story about your journey as a runner.  Doesn't have to be long or worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, it just has to tell us your story. 

I'll go first.  I published this story last season as I got back into running after my twins were born.  But it's the story of how I got into running and what I've learned since. 

My first run....

What I felt like...
My first real run, and I mean a run that tortured my body for days, lasted a whole 15-20 minutes and went around the block. I was pushing two kids in a jogging stroller I'd purchased before my 2nd daughter was born and I was literally tortured for 15-20 minutes. I don't even know if this pathetic attempt was even a mile's worth. My feet and calves hurt so bad the next day, I amazed myself when I did it again. I guess my motivation was that I realized that this wasn't high school anymore and if I was going to get my body back after two kids, I'd better get my keester out there and do something and since I bought a $250 stroller with the word "jogging" in it's name, I'd better at least attempt another run. That was a long sentence, I know.
That first run turned into an addiction for me. The first run was at the beginning of May, perhaps the end of April, and by July I was able to run 6 miles without blinking. For those that can run a full marathon in your sleep, you may stop laughing now. This was huge for me. And before winter hit, I had started running 8 miles everytime I stepped out the door. During the winter, I continued to run indoors on a loathed treadmill. I don't know why I hate treadmills, but I do. Then as the weather hinted at spring, I got set to run outdoors again only to find out I was expecting.
I got sick right off the bat and the thought of running made my vomit voilently. Then as the sickness went away, 16 WEEKS LATER, I felt like I was too big and that running might rip loose one of the babies I had stashed in me (that's right, I was expecting twins). So I got bigger and the running just stopped. The twins were born in December and after birthing one naturally, meaning ripped out of my loins whilst I screamed, and having an emergency c-section with the other one, running once again made me want to vomit violently.
4 and 1/2 months after the twins arrived, I had run out of excuses. The weather had turned nice. Check. I was no longer suffering the pains of having the worst possible birth story in the history of birth stories. Check. I had stopped losing weight simply because I wasn't pregnant anymore, which meant I needed to work for those last 10lbs. Check. I had my new running mix on my iPod all picked out. Check. I had gained sufficient motivation from watching The Biggest Loser. Check. It was time.
So, it began again. My first run, this time, lasted 3.5 miles. It was blasted hot too. I think I possibly walked a mile of it, but I can't estimate to save my life. The point is, I was back, baby! Tonight I did it again, 3.5-4 miles and I only stopped once to walk to avoid antagonizing a rather mean St. Bernard. I'm, frankly, amazed that I didn't have to start from scratch. My body "remembered" what this was all about and it helped me through it. I'm far away from where I was before, but I'll get there again, you can count on that.

Update:  Since posting that, I ran in 5-6 races, one of the them a 10k.  I cut 10 minutes off my 5k time and got my body back to where I like it.  Now it's a new running/race season and I'm still at it.  Time works against me as raising 4 children and having a part-time job sometimes have to come before running.   I can still run a decent 10k and I'm getting fairly good at running hills.  This year I'll be racing again and my first race is a 5 mile leg of a 40 mile relay in the To Bone and Back race. 

So there is my story.  If you have one you'd like to share, email me at annadurfee@yahoo.com or message me on facebook.  I want pictures too!  Share with us!!!  Look back through my other posts to see stories from other runners from last season.

Who knows?  Maybe your story will inspire someone else!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let the Music Lead You Home


I am and iPod runner.  I need to have my music when I run.  It draws my attention away from the physical exertion and I run harder and further.  That said, what's the best music to run to?  I've found that it doesn't really matter what you listen to as long as you feel something from it.  The stuff I listen to makes me feel either energized, inspired, or just bad a**.  All emotions have a place in my run.  I've shared my playlist before, but I've added some more tunes since then.  If you listen to the first 6 or 7 songs playing on the blog via my playlist tagged on the bottom of the page, you'll hear my newest acquistions. 

"Test Drive" by John Powell:  Recognize this one?  If you've seen "How to Train Your Dragon" you just might.  I like to finish my runs with this song.  It's an epic tune and if you don't feel epic while running to it, then there's something wrong with your psyche.  Wait until the very end to sprint.  It's very obvious the part I'm speaking of. 

"Breakin' Dishes" by Rhianna:  You won't hear this song on the blog as I couldn't find it.  I heard it at a Zumba class and immediately thought to add it to my playlist.  Good strong beat and it's just fun to listen to.

"Blow" by Ke$ha:  Not something I listen to unless I'm at Zumba or am running.  I like the beat and the high intensity of it.

"Stronger"  by Kelly Clarkson:  This is not my first Kelly Clarkson song to make the cut and when I heard this one, I immediately wanted to add it.  It talks about what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so it's quite obvious to see why it might lend some inspiration to me as I make my ascent up Lincoln hill.

"Mr. Know-it-all" by Kelly Clarkson:  This one is good for the way it helps my pace and the lyrics are cool as well.

"Too Close" by Alex Clare:  I heard this one on a commercial once and loved it.  It's got this cool deep techno beat to it that I think is awesome.

"In the Sea" by Ingrid Michaelson:  This one is not fast or high energy at all, but it's got these heavy handed beats that work well when you're trying to focus on a steady pace.  Couldn't find this one as well to add to my blog's playlist, but it's easily found on iTunes.  It's from her latest album.

"Allow Me to Introduce Myself...Mr. Right" by White Tie Affair:  I don't remember how I found this one, but it's got a quick beat and it's rather run to listen to.  I use this to help me quicken my pace.

"The Middle"  by Jimmy Eat World:  This one has been in my collection since time in memorial, but I've never added it to the playlist, until now that is.

And those are my new additions.  I'd love to hear what everyone else listens to and why.  Share in the comments section!

Happy Running!!!



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Plan

The obvious plan is to run and to keep running.  Just like last year and the year before that.  But I did something different last year and I really liked what it did to my fitness level.  Each week I'd have at least one short run, one fast run, and one long run.  I felt like my body never had a chance to plateau because I was constantly changing it up.  On days I didn't run, I'd do yard work or go biking.  I think it was one of my most successful summers and I was able to shave 10 minutes off my 5k time.  This year, I think I'll keep doing that, but because of the kind of race I'll be doing in June, my long run will ALWAYS include lots of hills.  That is what I did on Saturday.  I ended up doing a 6.5 mile run and almost all of it was on hills.  I didn't know how far I was going, I just kept going and kept exploring the hills.  I was wicked tired by the time I got home.  6.5 miles on flat ground is REALLY different from 6.5 on hills.  My legs felt rather beat by the end, but it felt good as well.  Previous to Saturday's run, I had a good short run of about 3 miles and then I did another 3.2 miles but at a faster pace.


Another part of the plan is not to think too much.  This has always been a part of my plan.  If I wake up in the morning and start the mental debate of whether to run or not, I usually don't go.  So I decided a long time ago that when it comes to running, I don't think, I just do.  Never fails. 

And the last part of my plan: I now run with pepper spray.  This is mostly because of the mountain lion we had around here last year, but it's a good idea in general to have some protection when you go out and run.  Especially if you run in places where you might be vulnerable.

So that's the plan. I like having a plan. It means that I know what I'm meant to do each day to stay ahead of my body. 

Here's to a summer full of being outdoor either running or doing something else fun and exciting. 

Come back soon to check out my race schedule for the summer. 

Happy Running!