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

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 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!