I am a Person Who Runs

ellen-dory-finding-nemo-2__oPtI think know I have used this Vin Diesel clip from Knockaround Guys before…I will use it again. Truth is, if I could figure out how to use it in every single post, I probably would. I think about this movie clip a lot when I run long. I know most people would assume that Rocky, Scott Jurek, Chris McDougall, or Dory, the Blue Tang fish saver, would be more likely. But no…it is, in fact, this

500 fights, that’s the number I figured when I was a kid.

500 street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy.

You need them for experience. To develop leather skin.

So I got started.

Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being the point.

You get past the silliness of it all.

But then, after, you realize that’s what you are.

Running is so much like that. You come up with a goal. That thing that will make you a “real runner.”

And so, you get started.

SavRnR

Savannah Rock ‘n Roll 2012

I saw those folks doing the Inaugural Savannah Rock and Roll marathon. That would make me a real runner. So, I put on my shoes the day after and logged 13.1 on a Monday, alone, with no medal.

I ran that same marathon a year later in under 4 hours. Surely, that makes me a real runner.

I DNF’d a race I could have easily finished. I inflated the serious of a hurt so that folks wouldn’t ask questions. Not real sure where that ranks on the “Are you a real runner” checklist. But I know one thing for certain. I am not the only one who has done it. So, I have owned it, confessed it, and forgiven myself.

Cremator

Cremator 50 mile Ultra 2013

But there is the Cremator, my darling race. That event that feels like home in my heart. It was a turning point, a game changer, if I can use the phrase. So I ran it. It was the best run of my life. I can’t wait to do it again. That must make me a real runner.

I won a race. Little bit of luck to that one as I was not the fastest female out there that day.

But that is how all races go. You run your race because you are really only competing against yourself. You can’t control others. You just do your best and see where that gets you. Certainly that must make me a real runner.

BirthdayHell, my BIRTHDAY party revolved around running. (and beer, but mostly running).

I pick up odd jobs just to keep my race fees from coming out of the family budget. Certainly that makes me a real runner.

I have secured childcare for myself and my crew chief 68 days prior to an event so that we can go freeze our asses off for 24 hours while I run around in circles trying to accumulate 100 miles to get THE Delirium buckle. By God if THAT won’t make me a real runner…

………

The truth is that this isn’t what I sat down to write about.

If I don't write about Mad Marsh...this is all you really need to know...

If I don’t write about Mad Marsh…this is all you really need to know…

I sat down on this morning in a quiet house with an awesome cup of coffee to tell you about some new cool head stuff I learned about during Mad Marsh 50k last weekend. And I still will write about them really soon because, well, I still think they are valuable if not for anyone else but me…and I would like to remember them.

But some where along paragraph 1, I realized something else again (as I think I have realized it a few times). I do, very often, refer to myself as a runner

  • When someone hasn’t seen me since the weight loss and asks, “What are you doing?”
  • When someone who is experiencing mental and emotional challenges and they ask how I cope
  • When The Dude remarks on the youthfulness of my…jeans 😉

The answer is “I am a runner.”

I think that kind of thing can get in some folks’ head (some folks’ = me). And when I have a bad run, or I skip a training day, or I sign up for a ridiculously hard race, I remember all the times I said, “I am a runner.”

And sometimes I feel like a fraud.

The truth is, I am a person who runs. While running may be one of my top five favorite things on the planet, it is still one of a thousand things that I am and do.

We are all runners

We are all runners

To the rising number of people who say to me,

Yeah I am runner too. Well, not like you, but I run.

Let me say this…

I am runner just like you, and you, just like me. Melissa has 1 kid, I have 4, Mrs. Darling has 8. We are all mommas. It’s the same thing. I have doubts and fears and insecurities. I know people who can do things I will never do. They are people who run. I am a person who runs. You are a person who runs.

And we are all just trying to get past the silliness of it all…

No Demons, Just Interesting Spirits

DD mousepad

My new mousepad for my new job 🙂

Dear Readers,

Forgive me for I have failed to write. It has been 2 months since my last blog post. I am sure you will understand or maybe not have noticed at all. I certainly noticed.

So I set out this morning (again) to write something (again) and I found it hard to be really inspired to write about anything (again). However, when The Dude walked in to grab a cup of joe, I must have looked like I could write something.

“You must be writing.”

“No, I would like to be writing.”

“Oh, well you look like you are writing. You have this inspired look on your face.”

“No such luck,” I explain. “I haven’t been inspired in months.”

He considers this thought for a moment and says something very interesting – especially since he has not yet has his first cup of coffee.

“That’s probably not a bad thing. When you write, you are usually exercising some demon of some kind, sorting through something jacked up in your brain. Maybe it’s ok that you have to try a little harder to get it out. Some of my favorite articles have been those you had to power through.”

I thought about that through my next cup of coffee and some Facebook scrolling. The truth is, he is right – but only partly.

Jedi Emily

My Jedi protector…this is most assuredly a post 🙂

I do write for nearly the same reason that I run – it feels good in an amazingly painful way. It is hard. Not everyone can do it. It takes practice and dedication. You have to be somewhat consistent.  All these things wrap up into an activity that feeds my appreciation of my own strength and ability. It keeps my mind right. It makes me feel capable. It helps me to be a better person.

It also tends to be very personal, so I tend to be a bit guarded. I am fairly extroverted (I know, you are shocked). To write about the deepest things requires pulling back the veil. While I may not mind this so much for myself, not everyone in my circle would appreciate that. I am hugely respectful of that.

So, pen does not go to paper, as it were, and I leave those things unpublished.

I am not trying to hide, present a white washed front, or create a superficial image – I am simply trying to be respectful. Besides, if an action meant to exercise demons actually reinforces its power, then what was really the point?

I also am not really good at writing (or running) in pieces. This plays hell with my new schedule. If I can’t lace up shoes and run for an hour, or log in and write for an hour, then I really don’t understand the point. I have a hard time accepting the face that 200 words here, 150 word there will eventually produce the post. I am trying to do better.

The truth is there has been a ton of stuff to write about and sort through.

Delirium confirmation

Yes, I agreed to attempt this…February 2014…83 days

  • I have a new job. And when I say new, I mean NEW. It is unlike anything I have ever done before and it has been a real game changer.
  • I have modified my diet and it is not going as well as I would have hoped – I am still searching for balance.
  • I have signed up for a 24 hour race in an attempt to get the ever coveted ultra marathon runner belt buckle. For a multitude of reasons I am scared shitless. I have 83 days to figure it out.
  • My oldest Little is getting a class ring, and college mailers, and ideas about the future.
  • I have modified my training plan and it most assuredly has its pros and its cons. Again, it is about balance. (I am still using the word “plan” very loosely).

So, I will consider different ways to do different things. And maybe I will write about. No, I will write about it because that is what writers do. But maybe it won’t take 2 months.

100 miles...24 hours

100 miles…24 hours

 

 

Little Tybee Conquest Victory Lap (WITH PRIZES)!!

There aren’t enough words to tell you how much I love race volunteers and crews. There is nothing that compares to a smiling face, a helping hand, a hug, an encouraging word, or a cold beer at the ready while your body is trying to figure out what in the world you are going to do to try and wreck it next.

They look like angels with boiled potatoes and salt tabs.

One of the most transforming days in my running life came as a volunteer.

I these two truths compel me to find opportunities (and time!) to forgo running a race and volunteer or crew instead. Kinda like the runner version of “Pay it Forward.”

I thought I had found this opportunity with the inaugural Little Tybee Conquest.

tybee2This race kinda freaked me out a bit. It is roughly 10-11ish miles (depending on the coast line) on the beach with four channel crossings. The race was limited to a small (15) number of runners due to the nature of the location. Little Tybee is an uninhabited island off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia. To reduce the environmental impact of this beautiful little sanctuary, the decision was made to keep the race small.

I wasn’t sure about it to begin with. I can run. I am strong. I can swim. But, I can’t really swim swim. The whole idea made me nervous. Awesome time to volunteer.

Race Director extraordinaire Dan Hernandez took me up on my offer and asked me to be the volunteer coordinator. I agreed and it was the easiest job on the planet. It was a small race and Dan is so on top of everything, there was really nothing for me to do.

We met early Saturday morning and loaded up the boat. We got over to the island and set up the start. Easy peezy.

The weather had been rough so there were some runners that had called Dan the day before to let him know they weren’t going to make it.

DNS runners = orphan bibs
Orphan bib+cool people+awesome course = April wants to run

That’s the math for ya.

Me ~ I think I am going claim one of those bibs.
Dan ~ That’s an awesome idea. You should absolutely do that.

Yeah, not quite the response I was expecting.

toesI went through the reasons I couldn’t run. There were three big ones – I hadn’t eaten, I was only in flip flops, and, most importantly, I had no bandanna. I mean, I was in total non runner mode.

But there was aid station food. And I am a minimalist runner; I could just do it barefoot. And, to seal the deal, Dan had a bandanna.

I feel like I should be doing a better job than just “and this happened, and then, this, and then that.” But I guess sometimes, you just have to tell the story.

So I grabbed Emily’s bib enjoying the idea that I had her number. Emily is an amazingly gracious, talented, generous, FAST runner. She is also my friend. The idea to run was feeling more right.

ElijahInteresting thing I did not know ~ We opted to write our numbers on ourselves rather than pin bibs due to the water portions of the race. There is a current in all the channels so the bibs probably wouldn’t hold up. If you ever get the opportunity to do that – do it! I completely underestimated the total badassed feeling it can produce.

So, I ran.

I ended up running most of the race with Gregg and Brian. Turned out to be a pretty good thing too.

At the third channel crossing we are told that the kayaks, life rings, and life jackets didn’t make it to the fourth channel crossing. There was a boat drop mix up and the turn around had been moved forward, ahead of the crossing. This makes my heart sing. That last channel crossing is a beast and I was not looking forward to attempting it.

When we get to the new turn around, there is confusion. The lead runners are still going. Bren had helped plot the course and knew exactly where he was supposed to be going. Luke was right there with him. We Three Amigos shrugged and followed the leaders. “Leader determines the course,” I said, figuring there was no way we could turn around at this point if the leaders hadn’t started back yet.

Dumbass move, Groves.

channel4We get to the last channel crossing and pause. We have been told that this channel is different than the others. There is always a current and there is no wading as the drop offs are quick and substantial. There are no volunteers, no kayaks, no life vests, nada. “That is further than it looks,” I tell the fellas. Brian, who is the best swimmer I have ever seen in real life, says, “Oh it’s fine,” and starts fishing his self across. Gregg agrees. What’s a girl to do?

Let’s get real honest. That’s not really the question I was asking myself. The question I was asking myself was, “What’s a girl in FIRST to do?” What I might should have been thinking was “pride comes before the fall” but who ever thinks THAT when they need to?

I was in first place. Lara, who is far more talented and swift than I, had opted not to do the last channel under the current conditions.

This was it. You’re damned straight I jumped in that water.

About a fourth of the way across the channel I realize that the swim is exactly what I expected  – further than it looked.

And few more minutes (I guess, I have no idea how long it took) I was beginning to question my choice. The shore behind me was getting further away. The shore ahead was getting no closer. This is no bueno.

Ok, I decide, this was a bad idea. Probably a good time to go back. Except I am in the middle, I think maybe a little closer to where I am going than where I came from, but I can’t tell. Move forward, go back, either way my chances suck.

“I have just ruined Dan’s race,” I think to myself. I am fixing to drown, ruin any chances of this race happening again and my husband is going to be pissed. I am not even supposed to be here. I am supposed to be back at the start in my flip flops tending to that cooler of beer I brought waiting for the runners to come in. Instead I am in the middle of this water fixing to die.

I am an idiot.

I look over and Gregg is not too far ahead of me. “Gregg, I am not sure what to do. I am a little freaked out right this second.  I am not really sure how to get across this channel.”

Gregg, in a ever so calm voice says, “Just keep swimming. You are going to be fine.”

Well, that really is the only option, isn’t it?

PaceOutSo I flip over on my back and start kicking and Gregg keeps talking. I think to myself, “Just keep kicking, you will get there. Just keep going, don’t stop, no worries, you will finish.” Pace Out.

Gregg talks to me the duration of the channel and then he says, “You can stand up now.” I flip back over, super excited, and put my feet down. Gloriously the water is chin deep, I dig my toes in and run my ass outta there! On shore I say a super bad word, hug Gregg, swear he saved my life, breathe deep, and collect myself. Gregg and Brian laugh a bit and it is time to start running again.

The course is an out and back so there was still the task of going back across the channel. No problem according to the fellas. We will just start further up the beach so that current won’t wash us out. Gregg and Brian will be close at hand and, since I have demonstrated my ability to stay calm in the midst of my panic, it will be fine.

I get my nerves back about me, hit the turn around, lose them again, get them back together, and reach the channel crossing. It takes me just a minute or so to get back in that water. But I am more comfortable now. I know I can do it. I know it takes longer than I think it will. I know I will not get left behind.

We head back to the start and it is wonderful company. We get to the wooded area and it is totally transformed. It is low tide now and the roots of all these magnificent trees that have fallen over are exposed. Instead of having to run through the woods, we run through the roots. Under, over and around them, some are taller than me. I wish I could tell you what an experience it was. (Registration for the 2014 Little Tybee Conquest opens in a few days!)

The guys sprint to the finish to take 3rd and 4th place. It is fun to watch. I am spent at this point and am content to finish the race at the same pace I have run the duration. Bren has a beer at the ready and I am so thankful. And I get to take pictures with the most awesome trophy I have ever seen.

A couple of thoughts about winning this race…

First, crossing the channel is a decision conundrum, even in hindsight. It was unequivocally stupid. But, it was also empowering and worth it. I don’t really know what to do about that except to say that it goes directly into the category of choices nobody else can make for you. This is where getting comfortable in your own skin, listening to your own inner voice, and competing with no one but yourself proves itself important.

Second, that Pace Out thing is no joke. I was not the fastest person out there. Lara is. Hands down she is the better runner. I have appreciated her friendship, training advice, and spirit. She has the heart of a tiger and the tenacity to match. I don’t, I CAN’T, compete with her. But, I do compete with myself. I run my race and appreciate my body for giving me the best its got any given day (and a bit more when I need it). And this day, in this moment, it was good enough for top prize. I am honored.

Third, I seriously want to run barefoot more often. I can’t begin to tell you how fun that was.

Lastly, my runner family is the shit. When I think of the advances that I have made in my fitness level, appearance, health, and ability, NONE of it even begins to compare with the ties that bind us together. Being around these people, having them as a part of my life, is one of the most treasured gifts I have ever been given.

So, in honor of the win, we are giving stuff away!!! I have 3 amazing prizes for three lucky folks!

I can’t tell you what my time was on this race because I really don’t remember. My pace was not important. Not dying was important. Finishing was important. I also am still a bit irritated at the asshats. So we are giving away a super awesome, “What’s your Pace? DON’T CARE!” t-shirt. (As an aside, I would like to congratulate PaceOut and Georgia Game Changers for their new relationship. You can now buy PaceOut gear in that retail location!)

DFITTI typically wear my PaceOut gear when I run. It is the most comfortable, durable, run friendly tank I own. I wasn’t planning to run and my DFIT tank that I got for my birthday makes me feel like a warrior (and the husband really likes it too!) Good thing I was channeling a bit of warrior groove that day – it was helpful. So we are giving away one of those too!

And, you need some place to wear all this cool gear. You are in luck! DFIT training sessions are back in full swing! We are giving away a four pass pack. Yep, you can win the opportunity to get yourself beat not once but FOUR times.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Because (Unfortunately) There Are Asshat Runners (and Writers)

When I first started blogging over here at TTSW, I told a bit about why my writing, at that point, had taken a somewhat of a hiatus. That is as true today as it was then. However, this is where context is important. I was only motivated to write when I was angry. That is bad. Feeling the need to put words on a page sometimes when you are angry – totally different thing and in this case, absolutely necessary.

I get tagged in this Facebook link share. It is concerning an article titled “Plodders have a Place, but is it in a Marathon?” Ok, granted this article was written four years ago, but I didn’t know that when I read it. I did know, however, that I had just written an article on a related topic for Connect Savannah.

“The Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon is doing for the third year in a row what it has always done – creating new runners. Most training schedules are starting and there are a bunch of new gear, new questions, new excitement, and new runners.

This makes my heart big.

But real quick and without a whole lot of attention given to the offended and no attention given to the offenders, I feel compelled to mention an unfortunate presence in running. When you encounter it, it is my hope you will say to yourself, “this is what she was talking about,” and let it slow you down none.

I wish I was setting up a funny joke. Actually laugh at it. It is pretty ridiculous.

Running is like any other sport, hobby, club, or community. It is a microcosm of society and as such mostly contains wonderfully supportive folks.

Unfortunately it also contains those other kinds. There aren’t a ton of them, thank goodness. But this journey is hard, mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. One encounter, one sideways conversation can be bell ringing. It isn’t fun and if you are guilty of this you suck.

For the rest of you, allow me to be so bold as to offer you what I consider to be three truths about running.”

You can read the full article here.

First off, let me say you are more than welcome to stop reading here. The trash set forth by the quoted asshats is best handled by crumpling up the piece of shit story and going for a run – long or short, fast or not so much.

However, if you yourself are an asshat and are feeling a bit encouraged by this piece, you must continue.

More importantly, if you are a runner (and YES you ARE a runner) feeling a bit deflated by the “they”, this is most assuredly for you.

Many of those slower runners, claiming that late is better than never [because it IS], receive a finisher’s medal just like every other participant [because they EARNED it]. Having traversed the same route as the fleeter-footed runners — perhaps in twice the amount of time — they get to call themselves marathoners [because they ARE]. ~ Juliet Macur, journalist [emphasis mine]

“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” said Adrienne Wald, 54, the women’s cross-country coach at the College of New Rochelle, who ran her first marathon in 1984. “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’ ”

947107_608163062529389_922364302_nHere, Ms. Wald…let me give you some perspective. 

“It’s a joke to run a marathon when it really isn’t even that far,” says April Groves, 37, ultra runner badass. “I mean you are only out there, what less than 6 hours? It used to be that running distance was worth something. There used to be pride in saying you were a distance runner but not anymore. Now it’s, “I only gotta go 26.2 right? I mean, it’s just I am worried about that .2.”

Yeah, it doesn’t sound any better when you say it. And the point isn’t valid either.

That is one of the things I LOVE about the Ultra community. Do we have asshats? Sure we do. But they aren’t common and they certainly are not popular.

This mentality is so obvious that folks need about two minutes to recognize it. My husband who is not a runner finds the Lowcountry shirt hilarious because he loves the irony. “Y’all don’t even think that way,” he says.

“In Ultras you are cheering on the other people standing next to you because chances are at some time during the race you’ll need that person, even if its just a quick, ‘keep it up, man’ or a 20 mile pacing buddy,” said Tim Waz, a real runner (see how stupid that sounds, Ms. Wald) and owner of Lowcountry Ultras. “I see it as the plodders are out there working harder because they are on the course longer. Power to everyone for just getting out there regardless of distance.”

“[O]nce elite event…” Are you freaking serious? It is 26.2 MILES! Some folks wouldn’t drive that far to WORK. Walking for 6 or 7 HOURS is hard damn work. It is elite. My 8 hour marathon friends, YOU are elite.

“Purist believe…” Purist? Are we talking about the folks in the over engineered shoes, with gear that cost enough to finance a third world county, and a supplement bill to feed that same country? Because I bet she isn’t talking about half naked barefoot people who fuel on whole food and water during a race…whatever.

Then we have the elite runner and longtime marathoner Julia Given chiming in. She has a touted marathon time of 4:05:52. Oh wait, what? The MEDIAN finish time for women is 4:03:39? Oh that’s because of the slow people skewing the time. Wait? No? You mean that WAS the median time? Yeah, for women, in 1980, before the plodders. So longtime marathoner has a less than mediocre time. She would be pissed if my sub 4 running for 2 years not much younger than her self saddle up and told her slow poke behind she needed to speed up or go home.

Difference between me and her? I think her accomplishment. even if not her attitude, is amazing.

But I tend to think Ms. Given is a teller of tales. She claims that she has this conversation

I always ask those people, ‘What was your time?’ If it’s six hours or more, I say, ‘Oh great, that’s fine, but you didn’t really run it.’

She lives in Virginia. That’s too far South to talk sideways at people too many times and not get slapped. Just saying.

My beautiful, wonderful, amazing, strong, runner friends…you inspire me. You inspire a great many of us. I am cheering for you and I hope you will return the favor – either when I pass you or you pass me. Maybe on a particularly good day, we can find a few miles to run together.

 

500 Street Fights…Or 50 Miles…It’s Legit

Screenshot_2013-08-13-09-02-05-1I think I have used this Vin Diesel clip from Knockaround Guys before…I will use it again. Truth is, if I could figure out how to use it in every single post, I probably would.

So a tiny bit of background explaining yet another (back to back) race recap (sorta) from the chick that rarely does them. Actually, this is going to be the last time I state that disclaimer. I think that I am buying into the idea that “race recap” means “Mile 1 I breathed, then mile 2 I ate some stuff, then mile 3 I hit a wall…” But I digress…

Kelley and I enjoying the post 50 mile run festivities

Kelley and I enjoying the post 50 mile run festivities

I belong to an awesome virtual group called the Women’s Running Community. I have just worked with them to bring a chapter, WRC – Lowcountry, here locally (if you are interested, we would love to have you!) They have another niche group called WCR – Ultra Running to cater to the crazies. The admin for that group, Corina, is an awesome sport of whom I am quickly growing fond. She asked if I would share with the group some of what goes into preparing and completing a 50 mile race (aside from the psychological review).

I am not going to bore you with the “what you already know”s. And let me be clear once again – this is what works for me. I do not live in the land of “everyone needs to.” I love minimalist running, plant based eating, heavy lift cross training. I do not taper, I don’t really know the tactics of a proper recover. I know what a training plan is…even if I don’t know quite how to use one. This works for me – sometimes. It is always a work in progress. I may do it different tomorrow. You might too.

However, one of the constants in my “training” (gosh, I really hate calling it that), is the fact that I have a very real, very full life. One husband, four kids, three pets, a career, awesome friends, a running column, this little bloggy thing…yeah, I am extracting the marrow fully out of the bone of life. So I have to watch my schedule. And, most importantly, I have to be real with myself.

Therefore…

How do I train with four kids (and all that other stuff)?

My runs are largely unsexy and unholy early. They are on a super boring, short distance repeater route in my neighborhood. This is out of necessity since most mornings I have to be finished with my run by 0630. So, even a 6 or 7 miler has to be started around 0500 or 0530. There is NO WAY I am adding travel time to that just to get to a route that is more fun to run. So, I have discovered a few apps that make the miles a bit more interesting. I have a rosary player, a zombie game, and an audiobook subscription – lifesavers all.

Even on the weekends I start super early. Typically these are my long run days. So to run 20-30 miles, I have to still start at 0500 or 0600 to get it in while the rest of the family is sleeping in and to be finished by lunch. Training for ultra distances nixes the off day after a training run. So I run long on Saturday and still need a 6-12 mile run on Sunday.

But look at that mess up there? Seriously, there is not always time for that. So I don’t make all my runs. I don’t log all the miles I am “supposed to.” I don’t always get in those back to backs. Sometimes there is a super tired husband, and a cat that has peed outside of the litter box, and a kid who is having a melt down, and a house that seriously needs a wipe down, and a yard that needs to be mowed, and grandparents I haven’t seen, and friends I haven’t lunched with, and parents who need some time, and a book that needs to be read…and I just. don’t. run.

600672_539915602739929_1109972797_nSay it with me… Just. Don’t. Run.

Then there are times where all the above is true and if I don’t get some miles in, the other crazies in my head are going to forget how bad I look in prison jumpsuit orange and cut you. In those cases, screw the rest and just. go. run.

Say it with me…Just. Go. Run.

So, how many mile DO you run a week?

Not enough I am sure. My goal as a runner is to be able to run a 50 miler whenever I want. I want to be the kind of runner who, at the drop of hat, a running buddy can call and need a training partner, a pacer, a race buddy, and I can go – regardless of some point on a training plan.

So the goal during the week is usually 50 miles. I. Never. Make. It. But that is okay. I usually come in around 30. But I know that as loose as I like to be with my “training schedule,” the cold, hard fact is that chance of injury increase when regular mileage does not support the long run. So, while I cut myself tons of slack, I do not make excuses and justify the punk out.

What do you eat on the run?

988674_561407983924024_781717531_nBeer and salted potatoes are my favorite. Ginger Snaps and PB&Js rank up there pretty high too. I LOVE coconut water, be careful though. Too much could, ummm, ruin your time. The upside is you will know where all the bathrooms are the next time. I try really hard to not do a bunch of artificial stuff – they wreck my tummy and I think there is something seriously weird about spending money with a “Health and Nutrition” company who thinks putting trash in their products is a good idea. But that’s just me. I stick with Hammer products mostly and drink a pretty good bit of HEED.

As a side note, I just started with a pretty regular regime of sweet potatoes. So far, the results have been just short of astonishing.

Walking vs. Running

This one is easy…whatever I feel like with only a few caveats

  • “Hell, a 15:48 pace to finish? You can walk that!” is WAY  harder than it sounds – I prefer to run and get it over with.
  • Once I start walking, it is super hard to get started again. I try not to do it too often. I envy people who can transition easily.

And, when all else fails, remember the brilliant advice of Ray Krolewicz…

“There are no low points in ultra marathons. I get sleepy sometimes and I take a nap.”

Staying Motivated

KeepGoingFeatIn my last post I told you that the “how to get started” question is the one I am asked the most. It is, hands down. In the effort to be completely transparent, I must clarify that this is the case because I don’t consider any version of  “are you insane” to be an actual question. That wins the thing most often said to me and is therefore not in the running to win anything else.

The series of conversations usually go something like

~ How do I get started

~ You just do…I have expanded on this a bit before…you can see it here, and here, and here

~ How do I keep going

~ **Crickets**

I absolutely love these questions and conversations. I wish I did a better job answering them. I am just so keenly aware of how personal running is, I try never to say you “just have to” do anything except wake up.

But I was asked again yesterday…and the day before that. And I have promised to give you something. And I will. But know that this is just one woman’s journey. If you have something else that works, do that! (And tell me so I can try it!) If you try something you read here out and don’t like it, that’s fine too. I have tried on strategies from some of the coolest people in the game only to find out we are just practicing a different brand of cool.

I am not you. You are not me. Running any distance at all is a test. We all do what we have to do to get through it in the most body and spirit appreciating ways possible.

dc201bd1411190c7d12c96534a23e3e4Let me highlight that “any distance” part. Sometimes folks get hung up on the distance they do or don’t run. Hell I get hung up on that. Don’t. I have run 20 milers that felt like eating cotton candy and 5ks that felt like they were trying to rip my legs off. Right now as I sit here writing this I am procrastinating like a big dog to keep from running my short training run.

**Update – I did go run…in case you were curious 🙂 **

It is any given day. Just because you felt it yesterday doesn’t mean that you will feel it today. When I use the words “run” and “love” in the same sentence – I mean it. And I am one of those people who put “love” in the verb category – it is not something I feel, it is something I choose to do.

But it isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it is so hard, it doesn’t happen. And in all honesty – 9 times out 10 it is a mental failure, not a physical one.

282272_405509929495292_1880671413_nLet me clarify a few things in that sentence. First there are some times that you really shouldn’t run. I am not a doctor or anything, but I am pretty certain that rest, recovery, and rejuvenation are vital. I am not talking about not running on those days. As I have said – there is a difference being being smart and punking out. You know what that difference is.

Second – I did use the word failure and I meant it. If I intend to do something, am capable of doing that thing, and choose not to do that thing in a way that I feel guilty about later – that is, in my book, a failure, You may call it whatever you like. To me, that’s about as close to textbook failure as a person can get.

So here are a few of the things that work for me more often than they don’t…

Pain is temporary Be accountable

I tell people about my insanity. Do my facebook posts seem obnoxious to you? Does the fact that I blog about this stuff seem self indulgent? Do you know that when I am in a room the topic of running will probably come up? Yeah, I know all that stuff too. When I am thinking about bagging a run, skipping it all together, or otherwise under performing, I know you will see me.

It is my fishbowl accountability. I hate the punk out. It makes my soul hurt. I am not public about all this stuff simply because I am proud and seek accolades. I do it because I am scared and have the tendency to be a lazy cow. I do it to keep my laurels from getting comfortable. I know there are folks either making better choices because of my story or poised ready for me to look stupid.  I plan on being a serious win for one and a huge waste of time for the other.

600672_539915602739929_1109972797_nKnow Your Why

You need to know why you do it. You need to know what makes you want to what it is you are doing. And don’t let others feel self conscious about your why. I have some who say they run because others can’t, to raise money, to save humanity. Others run for beer, chocolate, and chicks. Hey man, whatever. This is your race. Just know what it is.

Run with a Friend

Long runs have become an incredible time of bonding with friends. It is also a great way to pass the time and learn new techniques. In some places, it is also way safer. Buddy running or group running can seriously energize an otherwise halfhearted run.

Run Alone

Yeah, I know what I just said. But sometimes, spending 4 to 6 hours with another person is more painful than the run itself. There is a lot of mental stability that comes with spending that time with yourself. It is also quite possible it will happen in a race. You need to know how to deal on your own just in case the need ever arises.

Read

This has been an amazing technique for me. I have Audible on my phone and some really great books. While I hardly ever have time to sit down and flip pages, you can cover a ton of chapters during a multi-hour run.  Podcasts work really great too!

Pray

God and I have the most wonderful conversations on my runs. It has been some of the most powerful prayer moments that I can remember. I have found apps to put The Bible, The Liturgy of the Hours, and The Rosary on my phone. Talking to the Creator, using the body He created in the midst of His creation…just awesome.

This is still a work in progress for most people I know so I would love to get your feedback on it.

A Little Bit on Getting Started

Just Go Run“What do I need to do?”

That is probably the single most asked question I get. And while the last More than Miles column from Connect Savannah is obviously not all encompassing, it is a great (in my not so humble opinion) overview of some of the resources available to new and aspiring runners.

You can read the full article here. I suggest it as I was able to work Memorial Day, a 100 mile race, and Zombies all into one 800 word article. However, if you know nothing else, know that I said this…

One of the best things about running is pretty easy to start. You don’t have to really do anything that most of us aren’t already equipped to do.

I subscribe to a pretty pared down version of running. I don’t own a lot of clothes, gear, or shoes. In fact, if I was certain I wouldn’t cut my feet open, I would drop the shoes too.

I don’t wear a heart rate monitor or a super sexy multi-sport, waterproof, laser shooting, GPS watch either (although I totally would if I could bring myself to buy one). Therefore, you will find that I subscribe to the “just get started” school of thought.

Mareesa TorresBig thanks to Mareesa Torres, a Savannah attorney and Fleet Feet CREW coach, and Mary Seigel, Ultra Runner extraordinaire and Savannah Strider member, for helping me with this piece.

These amazing women do more than just run for themselves – they carry those of us wanting to be better further along. They support and encourage making us all better runner and better people.

You can check out CREW training here.

Savannah Striders can be found here.
Mary Siegel
For my facebook folks, I encourage you to check out Running Bloggers and Savannah Moms Run This Town. Both groups are a wealth of information on all topics. For this article, they were very helpful in gauging which apps were the most (and least!) helpful, useful, and popular. However, don’t blame them for the Zombie thing…

all that blame belongs to Massuto and Waz 🙂

It Pays to be Kind

They are live!

If you didn’t see my kindrunner ambassador announcement last week, you can check it out now so that you are all up to speed. There is a great video over there so it is well worth and quick jump back.

Today I am pleased to announce that when you clicky clicky the kindrunner link, you no longer get the “COMING SOON” page. They are ready for YOU!

I can also tell you all the cool stuff I couldn’t tell you before about the organization.

kindrunnerI usually save the best for last, but I am going to put my favorite part of the program right up front! Send in your old running shoes and get $10 off your next pair!

Kindness Cash Rewards (KCR) Program – Keep your old shoes out of the garbage and landfills!

Upon receipt of your footwear order, place your old shoes into the KindRunner shipping box and place the pre-paid return label on the box for shipment back to us.  Upon receipt of the label, we will scan the bar code and place the KCR onto your account for future use.  Each return label (whether it contain one pair or 4 pairs of shoes) is worth $10 KCR per new shoes purchased (5 pairs purchased on that order, you can earn up to $50 KCR) or credits towards future purchase. The KCR can be used to purchase ANYTHING that kindrunner sells and will never expire.

YES!

logo-shippingBut you will spend that on shipping, right? WRONG!

Free 3 Way Shipping –

1 – Free shipping of your order to you
2- Free shipping of any returns for any reason
3 – Free shipping of your donated shoes back to us for re-purposing with Soles 4 Souls or The More Foundation Group

logo-confidentrunnerKnow for certain which shoes you want and really could not care less about the return shipping? Confident Runner Pricing waives the Free Return Shipping but offers the shoe at a below retail price. Shipping of product to you is still free, as is the return shipping of donated shoes for Kindness Cash Rewards Program.

logo-returnsNot certain what you like? kindrunner has an Easy 365 returns policy

You have 365 days to return any product, so long as it is in its original packaging and in its original condition.  If you are injured and unable to use the shoe, if your doctor wants you in a different model because of orthotics, no worries… no questions asked!

There are also great product reviews, the blog is up and running, and I hear there is a rumor of free socks for life if you get there fast enough!

And just to remind you about how wonderful the vision behind this group is, the mission

At Kindrunner we have 3 main goals:

1. Make running as fun, enjoyable, and injury and stress free as possible for all of our customers

2. Reduce the running community’s impact on the environment as much as we possibly can

3. Help people in need all around the world by repurposing used running shoes

Here is a recap on all the ways you can support and connect with kindrunner

Have a great run!!

Every Day I am Yoga – ing

Ok, so maybe I am not yoga-ing everyday…but damn if I ain’t going to give it my best shot!

A little background I suppose is in order.

I have never (yes, never) been what you would call flexible or coordinated. I cannot touch my toes.  I have always been functionally strong. Just last summer I was hauling around 80 pound bags of concrete and hand mixing them with a garden hoe and shovel. I can’t do a handstand, but I can push mow acreage. I can run ridiculous distances, but I can’t do a cartwheel.

RockyIt was all very frustrating as a child so I just kind of let it go. Until I saw Rocky’s shoulders.

The picture was intended to draw attention to the beautiful scenery in the background. All I saw were perfectly shaped delts.

Chaturangas she said. A serious yoga practice she said. You can do it she said.

Run love yogaYeah – no.

I took a few classes at the Y, and the instructor was awesome. But it just wasn’t for me. I just couldn’t get in to it. Natalie made running Yogis look cool. She still makes running Yogis look cool. But I couldn’t take the plunge.

In all honesty, I still thought that I was going to carve time into my training schedule for CrossFit. That “functional” thing I talked about earlier really spoke to me. Strong chicks throwing around heavy stuff with amazing physiques piqued every ounce of curiosity I had. I knew that would be my next challenge. I knew that as soon as I could figure out the finances and the time, that would be where I supplemented my cross training for my runs.

Then Jill happened. And she knows just how to motivate me.

Capture

Y’all, when I tell you she is awesome, I wish I had never used the word before so you would know just how much I meant it. Jillian was effortless, graceful, powerful.

I was in Yoga Love.

I was also in Yoga jealousy. I could not do the hand stand. I could not flip the dog. In fact, there were a good many things I just couldn’t do. And I wanted to. I really, REALLY wanted to.

Yoga JillianYou see, Jillian walked through the class and talked about honoring the body, challenging yourself, respecting your limits, getting better with practice. These are all things ultra runners talk about. The ideas resonated with me in the same way Ultra running does.

It isn’t about winning a race or being better than the guy next to you. It is about winning at life and being better than you were yesterday.

I was going to make this work. Runners need to cross train, right? We need great stretches, strong cores, resilient minds – sounds like yoga to me!

Emily says, “Come to yoga with me after a run. It looks like this.”

And she drops in the middle of a 23 mile run and does this arm balance thing that I couldn’t do fresh with folks to hold me up.
Emily Yoga
Yeah, I had to learn more for real about this yoga business.

If there was any hesitation about this being the right idea, Lindsey put that to bed. Early on a Sunday morning, I set out to join her for a 5k run and Yoga in the Park. Awakening Yoga Studio had begun an every other Sunday Run/Yoga Group and I was anxious to check it out.

I ran with Lindsey and it didn’t take me long to realize she was fast. Not only was she fast – she was fast while pushing a stroller!

“You run about 21 minute 5k, right?” I asked while we ran mile 2.

“Yeah,” she said. “I PR’d at 20:50 but I was pushing the stroller.”

What?!?! Yes, you read that right. Go ahead and read it again. I offered to go with her to the next 5k she did just to watch James Michael so she could run free. Man I hope she takes me up on that!

She then proceeded to lead the most beautiful Yoga class. She was strong and elegant. There was no further debate in my head.
Yoga Lindsey1
What Rocky inspired, Jillian inflamed, Emily encouraged and Lindsey cemented – Lisa made possible. Her encouragement and partnership showed me how I too could make this work within my running practice and life parameters. And if I could do it – anybody could!

So the 30 Day Yoga challenge starts tomorrow!!! Are you reading this late? Then yours starts today!!

There is a prize and a certificate…but something tells me that if this goes like I think it will, there are far bigger rewards to be had.

Yogis, thank you. From the bottom of my rooted feet to the tips of my energized fingers, I can’t thank you enough.

Nameste.

Stay tuned while I learn what the rest of the words mean!!!

**Rocky doesn’t just do Yoga…she does a whole heck of a lot of stuff. One of the amazing things she does is an organization called Mothers Fighting for Others. Check them out. Help if you can. They are running out of money…fast…

MFFO

Introducing kindrunner…and my First Ambassadorship!

There is no doubt that interwebs are full of nutty folks doing less than honorable things. Dissenters of blogger journalism and social media inter-connectivity rightly identify some of the ugly nasty that happens when folks can remain safely anonymous behind their computer screens and promote ugly from a keyboard.

However, it has been my experience that what you surround yourself expands. The past 2 years I have focused on surrounding myself with folks who are determined to be better – both for themselves and the community at large.

Expansion has happened again.

I have had the recent opportunity to connect with some super supportive runner folks over at Running Bloggers. Caroline, the membership and sponsorship coordinator of the group, mentioned an organization called “kindrunner.” With a name like that, of course I was curious.

Joe was quick to respond to my inquiry and a pleasure to speak with. It took little more than the length of two twitter posts to realize this was an organization I could support.

At Kindrunner we have 3 main goals:

1. Make running as fun, enjoyable, and injury and stress free as possible for all of our customers

2. Reduce the running community’s impact on the environment as much as we possibly can

3. Help people in need all around the world by repurposing used running shoes

As a mommy runner who didn’t discover the sport until her 30’s, it speaks to the camaraderie and support. As a mom, the importance of being a good steward and helping both naturally, locally, and globally. As an athlete who is always pushing the envelope, the availability of great new products.

I wanted to know what I could do to help.

kindrunnerearth

Kindrunner is like any other start up in that it needs you to know about it…and it needs you to understand it, love it support it, and tell your friends about it.
I can do that. I am hoping you will too!

The official launch date is June 1st. But don’t wait! Here is what you can do today (and it really isn’t anything different than you do now anyway).

kindrunner

  1. Check out kindrunner.com. Sign up for the newsletter. Ask a question if you have one. Get a teeny bit excited.
  2. Follow kindrunner on twitter. Maybe hook them up with a #FF or RT for good measure.
  3. YouTube tickle your fancy? Of course they are there.
  4. And of course a kindrunner facebook like would be awesome. Maybe even share the page while you are there.
  5. Coolio Instagram pics are starting to come in too!’

And that’s really it…until June 1st…

OH!! And don’t forget to start pulling out those old running shoes…you are gonna really like what happens next!