A Running Column, a Vegan, and a Winner Walk into a Bar…

Connect SavannahIn an amazing stroke of fantastic, I have been afforded the opportunity to submit a biweekly article to Connect Savannah. This is awesome on a number of levels…

  • I get to be in the same publication as Jessica Lebos (author of Yo, Yenta – go there now!)
  • Two loves – writing and running – converge
  • I get to meet new folks in the community and give love to the runner family
  • I am learning a lot
  • I get to offset some of my race fees
  • Did I mention Jessica Lebos?

The column, after much Facebook and editor discussion, has been bestowed the moniker More Than Miles. I like it. There is a whole blog post just discussing that. As for now, let’s just take a look at the first installation.

It’s not simply health, wellness, and mommy gets her sexy back.

It is more than one vegan woman and her barefoot running shoes.

The running community has discovered a whole new level of mettle hidden amidst the traditional spectator favorites. They can tap into it, explore it, and build relationships through it. There is a story of growth here in the South. There is a wealth of community, social responsibility, personal challenge, human spirit, camaraderie, strength, and kindness.

If nothing else, I hope to convey, in some small way, regardless of profiles, accolades, races, or routes, we would still run.

You can read the full article here.

Rails to TrailsA big thanks to Dan Hernandez and Victoria  Ten Broeck for their input. If you don’t know these folks…you really should.

Dan is a fellow minimalist runner with a maximist heart. He consistently combines his sport with charity and community work. From Rails to Trails to Liam’s Land, Dan is always working to keeping running fresh and creating ways for us to be a positive influence on society.

255341_10150976833754352_1098205556_nVictoria is largely responsible for my love of Ultra Running. She introduced me to Tim Waz of Lowcountry Ultras and invited me to volunteer at Cremator 2012. It would be the day I caught the crazy. God Bless Victoria  for all the trouble she has caused, she has never failed to follow through. She is always there, smiling, encouraging  supporting, educating  promoting. And she is a damn fine runner to boot!

On deck for this week – Getting Started and a few hints to help. Featured will be Mareesa Torres of C.R.E.W. and Mary Siegel of Savannah Striders. Yes, THAT Mary Siegel!

A Vegan

PP15coverIn case you missed it – and I don’t see how that is possible – Dreena Burton loves me and she gave me a copy of her eBook to give away. I have already had the chance to cook up a few of these Plant Powered 15 and they did not disappoint. Even for the omni, these recipes do great for Meatless Monday, Fish Stick Fridays (for my Catholic family), or just side additions. If you are curious, this eCookbook is a great place to start.

A Winner

TinaAnd Tina Hein will have the chance to do just that!! Congratulations to Tina!! She is he first TTSW Winner. I will be sending Plant Powered 15 right over! Let us know how it goes!!

Take some time today and click thorough to some of the links above. I would love to know what you think, what you would like to hear more about, and any article ideas you may have!!


April’s First Ultra Marathon Brought to You by the Letter “P”

Porta potties, while not preferable, don’t really bother me. Especially when you need one.

Hovering is WAY  harder after you have run 31+ miles.

That little gem is one of the many things I learned Saturday. The Ledesma Sports Medicine Savannah Rails to Trails Ultra 2013 will forever be logged as my first Ultra Marathon.

If we are friends on Facebook, or if you have seen the recent WTOC news story by the beautifully talented Dawn Baker, you already know that I injured myself about a month ago. In fact, writing this post, I have just realized that Saturday was a day shy of a month since it happened. There was a lot of back and forth on whether I was going to do the 50k, 25k, or even be able to run at all.

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonI ran completed the whole thing. It took an exhaustive 6 hours, 22 minutes, 34 seconds.

“Hell, a 15:48 pace to finish? You can walk that!” is WAY  harder than it sounds.

Six and a half hours on your feet, in the heat (temps hit a record high of 75), averaging a 11:45 pace will take your brain (and your heart) to a bunch of places.

That time sucked. I should have been able to do it a full hour faster. More if I had not been injured. I missed out in a couple of key areas. Please notice I did not say “failed.” Nothing about Saturday was a failure.

But if we don’t learn to make better, we are wasting life’s experiences  So, in addition to learning a bit more about peeing in porta potties and pace, I also came to some conclusions concerning procrastination, preparation, perspective, and perseverance.


Making a firm decision about Saturday before Saturday was something I absolutely did not want to do. So, I didn’t. I was at the starting line answering the “whatcha going to do” question with “I dunno yet.” I was even heralded by another runner during the first 25k that my method of freeing my mind to whatever possibility happened was enlightened and so smart.

And maybe it was. Maybe there was some hidden genius to relaxing and simply committing to showing up. Maybe the method of deciding on all or some at the half way point was part of my success. But even if that is so, the decision was made poorly.

You see, there is a big difference between deciding not to decide and putting off making a decision. I employed the latter. Procrastination is never the answer. My focus was on my injury. It was on whether I would punk out, hurt myself again, garner yet more creatively worded “I told you so”s. All of those things cause doubt and anxiety. What you focus on expands. Doubt and anxiety expanded. I froze.

While it appeared that I had decided not to decide, I had actually refused to make any decision at all. When you don’t decide, you can’t have a goal. When you don’t have a goal, you cannot prepare. When you aren’t prepared, things take a whole lot longer to finish, if you finish at all.

Please read that last paragraph again. It is the most important thing outside of the porta potty gem in this whole piece.


Before my first marathon, I was prepared. Seriously prepared. The day before was spent eating, drinking, breathing, living the runner lifestyle. I had my clothes ready, my fuel strategy planned, the cooler pack, the departure time scheduled – everything. I was in bed at a decent hour and woke alive and excited when my alarm went off the first time.

My first Ultra, not so much. I tried not to think about it most of the day. I worked late. I went to bed late. When the alarm went off, I hit the snooze – a lot. I wasn’t sure what clothes to wear. *Note – shorter runs, this doesn’t matter so much. When you are running long distances, it is a game changer. I didn’t know where all my gear was. I didn’t check the weather. I hadn’t packed a cooler nor had I planned the fuel for the day. I ended up grabbing a thing of peanuts and a half eaten box of cereal and leaving the house an hour late. Yeah, that works.

Because I procrastinated about the decision, I never moved into the place in my brain where that voice says, “Okay, we have a goal. Let’s get after it!”

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonPerspective

What I should have questioned was my perspective. What is the focus? In truth, regardless of the situation, focus always seems to narrow itself down to “make it better.”

Being a wife, mother, professional, citizen, friend, family member, runner – whatever – the decision is a win if it makes whatever situation we are dealing with better.

Because I came at Saturday from the perspective of fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment, I refused to make a decision, I could not get prepared.

Had I remembered that fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment are all a product of perspective, I would have been able to come at it differently.

Saturday was an amazing reminder that the goal every day is to appreciate and learn from who I was yesterday, be the best I can possibly be today, and set myself on the path to be awesome again tomorrow. There is the perspective. That should be the focus.

The process should have been

  1. I am deciding today to focus on learning, excelling, and preparing
  2. I am prepared to either run 31 miles or encourage those who do. If it is a stellar day, I will be able to do both.


But, it wasn’t. I was mentally wonked out, physically under trained, and totally unprepared. I started anyway. I finished anyway. Because that’s what we do.

I wish it had been easier. I could have made it easier. I take responsibility for the wrong decisions and appreciate the lessons I have learned from them.

But, at the end of the day, I, you, we, still have heart. And that trumps it all.

Merrell Christmas to All and to All a Good Trail Run

Christmas came a little early this year to this runner. Not that couldn’t have waited until Christmas. I totally could have. Unfortunately, my training couldn’t.

Thanksgiving morning I had the opportunity to meet up with some run buddies at Rails to Trails for a pre-turkey binge run. This was my first time running the trail in my beloved Vibram Bikilas. The small gravel and dirt portions were fine. The rocky sections – not so much. I had to start considering whether or not these were, in fact, the only shoe I would ever need.

Understand that barefoot and minimalist running changed a lot about who I am as a runner and a person. It was the catalyst into a more natural approach to life in general. It solved my knee and hip issues and shaved my time. Actual barefoot running is one of the most fun things I have done in a long time. Talk about feeling 8 years old again! Couple that with the fact that the last time I ran in “regular” shoes, I got shin splints (a condition I am still dealing with).

2012-07-23 06.52.57I am not interested in “real” shoes.

However, I am not unreasonable. I am not interested in rock bruises either.

Then came the run out at Savage Island. This is a beautiful run…but it is rocky in sections. The choice was clear. If I was going to run a 50k in January on rough terrain, I needed new shoes now.

So where in Richmond Hill does a runner go for new shoes? Georgia Game Changers of course! Sandra and I went through a couple of options and I narrowed it down to two. Awesomely enough, Sandra has a BOX OF ROCKS in the store so that I could get a real idea of the differences. The best method I found of choosing between the two was to wear each of them at the same time time.

Merrell Mix MastersI preferred the other shoe as it was thinner and closer in feel to my Bikilas. However, the whole reason I needed new shoes was protection from rough terrain. And the Merrell Mix Masters in that Island Green was an awesome looking shoe!

After logging a few runs in them I can tell you this – I bought a great shoe.

In all honesty, I do not like then as much as my Vibrams. However, I never expected to. While they only outweigh the Bikilas by less than 5 ounces, they feel heavy and clunky on my feet. This feeling has decreased a bit over time. InjinjiI have also found that wearing the Injinji socks gives a little normalcy to my feet even when I am not in the Vibrams.

However, the benefits clearly overcome this as they perform beautifully for the purpose for which I bought them.

They have a slight 4mm drop from heel to toe. This is small enough so that I don’t feel my stride or strike affected a whole lot by the change. The first mile or so takes a bit more concentration, but it settles in quickly.

I can feel the ground without feeling the ground. The sole is thick enough to protect the balls of my feet from the rougher surfaces. However, it is still thin enough that I can feel the ground and make stride corrections naturally.

My time still tracks with my Bikilas. I don’t have to slow down or get nervous while crossing the tougher terrain.

Look out Ledesma Rails to Trails 50k. I am geared up now 🙂

Other notes

  • shoe costs around $100 and comes in a variety of colors (none as awesome as the Island Green though)
  • I usually wear a size 9. I bought a 10. It feels big for about the first mile and then settles in fine. My foot feels able to spread, stretch, and expand. And…I haven’t lost a toenail yet!
  • I have tried different varieties of Injinji socks. Midweight has been my go to in the Bikilas but the thinner ones work fine in the Merrells
  • When in doubt, ask Sandra
  • The Ledesma Rails to Trails run offers 5k and 25k options as well so click on over and sign up. You can do a 5k. If you just ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, you can do a 25k. If you did the full, the 50k is only a few more miles. Let’s go!
  • I have received no compensation for any of the products listed in this article (but I am totally open to the idea 😉 )

I said I would run WHAT?!?!

I’m still not sure how I came across the post originally. It could have been the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge Group. It could have been my feed-reader. Maybe a random stumble on. I don’t know. But I found it…

And it is true, I am a sucker for great marketing and coolio little badge thingys. I adore social groupy stuff. Little bit of friendly challenge/competition  Heehee I love it. And it’s running too? And I was already a bit revved up on wild changes. So, when these things combined for a 2013 challenge to run 13 races in 2013, I was obviously interested. And they didn’t all have to be super long distances. I could shoot for the halves with a few fulls and ultras sprinkled for variety and still be in…so what did this all create??

Perfect storm for this post >>>>

And so what do you do when

  1. You really like to run (and a half marathon distance wants to be your favorite)
  2. A chick who rocks hard enough to SHAVE HER HEAD for charity says you can do it
  3. The female with the physique you use as motivation says go for it
  4. A run buddy uses the pronoun “we”

You sign up…


What the hell was I thinking 🙂

Actually, I think it will be a lot of fun.

How does this involve you? Well, a few ways

  1. Join in with us (See Jennifer, I am so comfortable with that idea – “Inadvertent” or otherwise!). Check out Jill’s blog and pick the challenge that works best for you.
  2. Root me on! Subscribe to TTSW and watch for my updates. The comment section here, my facebook page, and my twitter are great places for tidbits of encouragement. *Side note – I promise to return the favor!
  3. Help me out. Finding different races and paying for it all can be a bit tough. If you know of a neat race (at least a half marathon in distance), have ways to find discounts and reduced rates on entry, travel, and lodging, or know of a business that would love to be bragged on for their awesomeness in exchange for not having to run the race themselves 🙂 let me know.

I do have a few planned already ~~~~

  1. 01/12/2013 ~ Ledesma Rails to Trails Ultra Marathon (50k)
  2. 02/02/2013 ~ Critz Tybee Run Fest Half Marathon (13.1) 
  3. 06/22/2013 ~ Bad Marsh Night Ultra (50k)

Last year I would have thought the above list was pretty impressive…now it’s less than 25% of what I have committed to… perhaps I need to BE committed…


I saw that run going differently in my mind…

Oftentimes 99% of the time, a thing will happen and then I will write about that thing. Today was the 1%.

After a slight change in schedule, I found myself with the opportunity to take a midday run in Fort McAllister. This is something I have wanted to do for quite sometime and have never had the occasion. Today was that day.

I had it all played out in my mind. The run would be great, the pictures would be beautiful, the ease and wonderfulness would make for a great post. I set out to run the post I already had written in my mind.


Don’t get me wrong. It was a beautiful run. The weather was perfect. The air had that coastal smell. I headed out down Redbird Creek Trail first. It was my first real trail run. It was amazing.

Most of miles three and four were ok, but rocky. The road that leads from the park area to Savage Island is pretty rough rock. I ran on the shoulder mostly. It was alright.

Savage Island reminded me why I love the outdoors and why I really want to get the family into camping. There is another trail there. I enjoyed Redbird Creek Trail so much, I took it.

During mile six, Mother Nature reminded me that she, not me, was in control of my day. I think somebody told her that I already had this post written. She was not amused.

A root reached up, grabbed my right big toe, and I went flying.

I landed on the same hand that still hurts from the fall at mile 25 of the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. I fortunately landed on a different knee, but I busted my head and left shoulder in the same spot. It hurt. But I am about two miles from the car. So I run anyway. And the pain eases and I figure I can still log double digits.

So I take another lap to hit some of the offshoots I missed. And I fell. Again. Same hand. Other knee. Thank God no head. Didn’t really hurt, but it pissed me off. And I kept going.

Mile nine I realize that I still have enough time to circle Redbird Creek Trail one more time and hit that double digit goal. During mile 10…yep…I fell. Again. That one got my elbow. But I had to get back to the car. So I just kept running. Back to the van. Logged 12 miles.

In my opinion, you have no choice but to reflect on an ass whooping like that. And if you don’t salvage something from the mess, you might as well stay home. I didn’t stay home. I won’t stay home tomorrow.

So what do I know now? Nothing I didn’t already know. But reminders can be useful.

  • As much as I love my shoes, I need more than one pair. Even Barefoot Ted and the Tarahumara rock the  Huaraches.
  • Getting up is only part of the battle. Moving forward is only another piece. Doing the exact same thing that knocked me on my ass (or head) to begin with because I know I can make it work – that’s the win.
  • Things don’t always go the way I have them planned it. Suck it up, Buttercup – that’s life.
  • Don’t write the story before the story. It’s a waste of time.
  • I AM just that tough.

I logged those mile. I will log more. I will log more there. In fact, I already have a play date scheduled with the wonderful Madeline of Food, Fitness, and Family fame…unless I have freaked her out with this tale. Which I doubt. She’s pretty freaking tough too.

Gearing Up and Walking the Dog

If you have not read this, (I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

It is true that I should have been writing about this all along. When Lisa says it, it is almost always true. But I didn’t. And I know why.

I didn’t know how the walking would turn out. I didn’t know where it all would lead. Truth be told, I still don’t. Who in the world wants to embark on a journey of such a personal nature in a public way without knowing the end? Well, I don’t know who would, but I can tell you who wouldn’t. This girl.

Fear is a funky thing. And we will talk about that maybe. Not now I don’t think. I don’t really feel like giving it any play right now. But, just know, if you are fearful, frustrated, failed before – you are not alone.

In 2010, I looked like this ~ and that ain’t so bad. 30 something Momma of four. Busy woman, limited schedule. A little extra weight, a little soft. But my clothes fit poorly. My energy was down. My blood pressure was up. And Karen Handel still looks great.

However, in the middle of the summer (swimsuit season!!) this happened. And you can read all about that “AH Shit” moment here.

And I was over it. Sort of…this picture was taken in May…it will take me THREE more months before I actually DO anything.

Battling self-esteem issues, depression, stress, and general mental and physical pissed offedness (<< should SO be a real term), I needed to get to where I loved to be – outside. But the phone and the kids and the chores and the world follow you outside. The dog needs a walk…so that’s what I did…

On August 12, 2011 at 6:41 a.m., I laced up my shoes, leashed up my dog, turned on my Nike+ app and walked. Ka’nani and I covered 6 miles in an hour and a half. It was amazing. So I walked some more. (I switched trackers a few times…I don’t use Nike+ anymore. I am on Endomondo and you can friend me here.) **UPDATE** I am also toying with the idea of using DailyMile. With the number of friends I have using it…I may not have a choice.

And I just walked…nothing too serious. And don’t let the high mileage fool you. I was poking along pretty good. There were walks where I averaged more than 17 minutes a mile. Towards the end of the month I had picked up some speed and started jogging. But that was only because my body said it was time and it was okay. Even then, I never broke the 11 minute mark. That 8 mile stint that you see on the 24th took me nearly 2 hours. And what a mind clearing two hours it was!

By the end of the month, these were the numbers I had accumulated. But let me tell you a few things about them.

I had lost NO weight. None. Nada. Read that again…the scale DID NOT move.

And that pissed me off a bit. And I had to do some soul-searching about that for a minute. Because while the scale reflected nothing, my personal well-being was starting to reflect a lot.

I felt stronger. I felt stronger. Yep, I typed that twice. Why? Because that one change changed everything. It wasn’t about being skinny or fast ~ it was about being better today than I was yesterday. It was about mental fortitude and physical ability. I didn’t have to compete against anything but my own challenges. And I was winning!

And I was just walking the dog…

Ka’nani August 12, 2011