Sunday, May 31, 2015

Turn this thing around!

From Alexander and the terrible, no good, very bad day by Judith Viorst

Yesterday was a really bad day that I couldn't shake off. No, nothing major happened in my life. No one died. I only have first world problems. But like Alexander, it was one of those terrible, no good, very bad days. Nothing went right. You know those days....when you're just better off going to bed early and starting fresh the next day? That's what I did.

This morning I woke up early to the sound of my husband snoring, and contrary to what he tells me, no, it is not a lullaby. So I got up early, drank my coffee, and tried to reframe my mood. Cue the violins, or better yet, Warren Zevon.  Poor, poor, pitiful me...

As I looked outside, the wind was blowing, the sky was gray, and it was a chilly 45 degrees. Still in a funk, I needed to mentally prepare myself for a planned bike ride with a friend. It's only 10 miles, I told myself. It's not even a good running day. Pondering what to wear, this runner wanted to bail. But knowing that seeing Karen and riding my bike is just what I needed to turn my frown upside down, I got myself ready to go.

Ready to ride! Brave Karen, wearing her shorts!
The bike ride, Women's Ride Day, was sponsored locally by Spokes bike shop and Specialized Bicycles.

The idea behind the ride is to get women, who might be intimidated by riding in a group, to connect with other women riders and to help them feel comfortable with a group ride. I've never ridden on a group ride before because believe it or not, I feel intimidated by the group ride. Would I be able to keep up with the other riders? Is my bike adequate? Would I be dropped (left behind)? According to this article in Bicycling magazine, women's bike rides are growing because of these concerns.

Well, I had no idea about all this! Karen is sponsored by Spokes, and besides wanting to see her, I wanted to support her. Plus she just got back from a trip to Specialized bicycles in California, and I wanted to hear all about her trip. So I loaded up my bike and headed out to Spokes to meet her and the other riders. There ended up being about 10-15 riders in all, including 2 men--1 from the bike shop and the other from Specialized. The leader, Erin, is a triathlete and yoga instructor. She showed us the proper hand signals to use while riding in a group. We rode a loop through several of the surrounding suburbs, including riding on some very busy streets. I found a much higher comfort level riding on those streets in the group as opposed to riding busy streets by myself. I also realized that I had nothing to worry about as far as being "dropped". I rode up front behind Erin and Karen, and had no trouble keeping up with them. We stopped multiple times to make sure no one was left behind.

The downside to the ride was the wind. The air temperature, at 47, was really cold for this time of year, and normally would have kept me off the bike. But what really made the ride challenging was the wind. There were some pretty strong gusts at times, and it felt as if I was going to get blown over. Even though we only rode 10 miles, that cold wind made it feel like we rode much farther than that. The good thing is that I wore my new 2XU thermal tights (oh the irony of wearing thermal tights on May 31!) and my legs weren't one bit cold. Good to know, if I plan on going on any cold weather rides in the future! Actually, the only body part that was cold were my hands, and that really bothered me. I would definitely need some warmer gloves.

Teri, me, Karen after the ride
When we got back to the bike shop, there was coffee and bagels waiting for us, and mimosas if we wanted. We all stuck around for a while and talked, and one woman started a Facebook group for all of us to keep in touch and even plan future rides. Teri from Reinventitude was also there, which was a nice surprise! It was a really nice morning, and I'm glad I went.

The group pre-ride!
But even though I enjoyed myself, I still felt a little uneasy, a little anxious. On the drive home, I decided that I'd go for that 5 mile run this afternoon instead of tomorrow at zero dark thirty. The temperature at my house was about 10 degrees warmer than it was while we rode our bikes, but it was still really windy. Heck, I rode my bike in that, I figured that the run would be nothing in comparison. I ate a bagel, changed into some shorts, and headed out into the neighborhood.

Miss Morning Runner, I never run in the afternoon, and I had no idea how this one would go. My legs felt good, and I looked down at my Garmin to check my first mile split. 8:15? Ok then. I kept going. The wind, when I ran into it, was pretty brutal, but the rest of the run felt good, especially when I had the wind at my back. Ha! The sun was trying to peek out but it never fully came out. I finished that 5 mile run strong, in 42 minutes on the dot. 8:23 mins/mi. Guess I can't say that I'm exclusively a morning runner! That run put a huge smile on my face, and the endorphins I had been craving were coursing through my veins.

The look that only running can bring.
Running, you complete me.

Do you cycle? Have you ever ridden in a group ride? What did you do this weekend?

I'm linking this post up with Tara at RunningNReading and her Weekend Update! Head over to her blog and see what everyone else did over the weekend!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Runfessions for May

It's the end of May, and you know what that means! Yep, it's time for my monthly Runfessions! Do you Runfess? If you don't, you should. It really feels good. After I put it all out there, I get to start June with a clean slate. And there's nothing better than a fresh start.

I'm linking up with Marcia's Healthy Slice for her monthly Runfessions post and linkup.

So without further ado...

I am the queen of wasting time. I blog when I should be cleaning my house. Shop online when I should be paying bills. Enter giveaways on other blogs. Some (my spouse) might call it avoiding responsibility. I call it de-stressing. Last week at work, while waiting for a patient to come for a checkup (they were all late that day), I was chatting with one of the medical assistants and she showed me a fun app called My Idol on her phone. Well, of course, I had to join the party and make my own avatar:

Kind of creepy, isn't it? Now I know what I'd look like with bangs!
And made this video:

We laughed until we cried. There's a lot of other options, including Kung Fu, Sexy Back, and a weird one where pills shoot out of a box. Don't judge. My job can be pretty intense, and it felt good to sit and laugh like that. Later, when I got home, I showed it to my husband, but he was not amused. He can't believe that I had time to even do this. But he has no sense of humor. How would you like to work with him? We call him Mr. Fun....


The Runners World cover contest is making me crazy!  Do you know what I'm talking about? The annual popularity contest competition to be featured on the cover of Runners World has started up this month. My Facebook feed is loaded with people begging for votes. Last year's winners were uber-inspiring. The leaders in this year's contest are accomplished runners in their own rights, but is their story cover-worthy? Who am I to say? I don't begrudge anyone who wants to win. But the begging for votes is kind of wearing on me. Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC posted on this last week, so I know I'm not alone. This isn't the prom. We don't need a king and queen of running. Personally, I'd like to see a masters runner or two on the cover, instead of the hot young flavor of the month that we usually get to see. Show us some real runners. We should all feel good about our running accomplishments. And speaking of that, let's get back to sharing our wins in our feeds. 'Nuff said.

Here, pick me! Cover worthy! courtesy of the Wisconsin marathon
And just because you now think I'm Mrs Crankypants, I should confess that I yelled at one my neighbors a few weeks ago. I was heading out on my bike for a ride, when I saw the guy who leaves his poopy dog bags by the curb in front of my house. Passive aggressive me wants to pick up all my dog's poop and pour it in front of his front door. But civilized me says to be the bigger person. Anyways, Mr. Poop Bag was walking his dog by my house. As I rode my bike out onto the road, I saw him pick up his dog's poop, put it in a plastic bag, and stuff the bag into the sewer grate along the curb. I was so stunned that the words just came out of my mouth. "What are you doing?!" I asked. He just stared at me. Dude, WTF?  (and no, I didn't swear at him). This is a storm sewer, not your personal dog poop disposal! And isn't that illegal? And it was garbage day too! Put your poop bag in the garbage can! OMG. I thought I'd seen it all with bad dog owners, but this just took the cake. I thought about it for my whole bike ride. When I got back, I called my neighbor across the street, who works for the village. She reported him to the sewer department. I don't know what happened after that but I haven't seen him walking his dog past my house since. I could write a whole post on irresponsible dog owners, and I might, but for now, this will have to do. If you can't deal with dog poop, you shouldn't own a dog.

You won't with this guy as your owner. Grrrrr....
I feel guilty not finishing a book. Does this happen to you? Earlier this week, I checked out a book from the library by Elizabeth Berg called The Dream Lover. I didn't even check the reviews for it, because...Elizabeth Berg. Similar in style to Anne Tyler, her books are about people and families and lives, and really pleasant, easy reads. This was her first venture into historical fiction and it was awful. I tried to like it, I really did. You know I'm not a quitter, but every night I found myself falling asleep while reading it. Then the next night, I'd have to go back and re-read all the pages I read the night before. That's never a good sign, and about 25% into the book, I gave up. Sorry, Ms. Berg, but this one was a turd. If you need a cure for insomnia, this book should do it.


Have you ever heard the saying "no good deed goes unpunished?" Last week, my oldest son didn't go to school one day, and I needed to drive my youngest son to school. As we were leaving, I saw one of the neighbor kids walking back from the bus stop. He said the bus didn't come, and I offered to give him a ride. On the way to school, he told me his parents were getting a divorce. It sounded messy, and I offered sympathy, and listened to him talk. After I dropped the boys off at the high school, I drove up to the pretty preserve where there is a limestone path. I rarely run there, but since I was so close, I thought it might be a nice change of pace. About a mile into the preserve, I passed another runner, a cross dresser wearing women's running clothes, a blonde wig, and full makeup. I realized then how isolated I was in the preserve, and even though I knew this character posed no danger to me, it still really freaked me out. I picked up the pace and thought about this the whole rest of my run. When I got home safe and sound, I started getting ready for work. There was a pounding on the door, and I about jumped out of my skin. The person didn't go away, and I decided to see who it was. It was the boy's dad, wanting to "tell me his side" of the divorce saga. He wouldn't leave, and I politely told him I didn't want to get involved.

No more good deeds for me.

And isn't it funny how one incident sets off a whole chain of events! I told my oldest son that if only he'd gone to school, none of this would have happened. So really, it's all his fault...


What do you have to runfess? 

I'm also linking up with the DC Trifecta: Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia for Friday Five! Head on over to see what everyone else is posting about. It's Free Friday!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Race Day Anticipation

I used to get really nervous before races. I couldn't sleep the night before, even for a 5k. Before I ran a race, there were multiple trips to the portapotty, because my nerves got my tummy all in a jangle.

When I signed up for my first Chicago marathon, I was nervous from the moment I signed up in February until the day of the race in October. That was awful, and as most of you know, I had a terrible race experience. I couldn't get my nerves under control. I learned that day that I never want to feel like that again. Clearly, I've done a lot of work, and am in such a better place now. Yes, I still get nervous before races, but instead of being terrified, I am excited. And that nervous excitement gets me to the start line and gets a little adrenaline flowing in my veins. I get excited to put all the training to the test. And I get excited thinking about crossing the finish line and going home with another medal. I actually like this feeling, and I think it's one of the reasons I like to race!

We have to expect to feel nervous before we race. It's normal. For me, the hardest part about running races is waiting at the starting line.

What's helped me curb my nervousness is having race day rituals. The saying for runners is "nothing new on race day", and there's a few reasons for that. It makes sense that trying something new, like new shoes or new fuel, can lead to a bad outcome. But there's also comfort in the familiar. Here you are, going to put it all out there on the road, and there's nothing better to calm the nerves than eating the same pre-race meal you've eaten every single time. Packing the same fuel to take with you on the race. Hitting the portapotties before you line up to run. Giving yourself plenty of time to get in your corral and/or line up at the start line.

It's really helpful though, if you have thought ahead and taken care of the little details for your race. That way, while you're waiting for the race to start, you can observe the crowd around you, soak up the energy, and mentally prepare yourself to run.

Even the night before a race, I lay out my race day outfit and pin my bib to my shirt. Of course, I have been stalking the weather for about a week, and have already planned multiple outfits, depending on the conditions. I set my alarm and check it compulsively. My gear is laid out on the kitchen counter, ready for me to grab it and go in the morning. My coffee is in the pot, ready to brew. I review the race course and the location of the aid stations one last time, even though I have looked at this multiple times now and could probably run it in my sleep.

By controlling what I can control, I change my nervous anticipation into excited anticipation. I can focus my energies on the event at hand instead of worrying about all the little details that go into running a race.

Of course, there are always things you have no control over, things that happen that you can't plan for. For example, at a recent half marathon, even though I thought I put enough cream in my chafeable areas, one thing I didn't anticipate was the warm temperatures and amount of sweating I would do. While I didn't really feel the pain while I was running, on the drive home, I started to get uncomfortable, and knew that taking a shower would be painful. And it was. Live and learn, right?

Another time, I was out on a long run up in rural Wisconsin. My handheld bottle sprung a leak, and all my fuel leaked out at mile 5 on a 12 miler. It was hot, and I was really nervous about being without water. I ran by a few homes where the garage doors were open and there were cases of water inside. I just couldn't bring myself to run in and take one though. Finally, I ran by a house where a bunch of hungover people were sitting in the yard. They gladly gave me a bottle of water, and saved me. After that experience, I changed the way I carry my fuel.

One thing you really can't control is the weather. All the best planning, and it could still pour on you. Or the temperature could rise much faster than you expect, and you end up being overdressed. I've had both things happen to me. Now I check a bag with extra clothes to change into in case of the unexpected.

The final preparation that you have to do is to think positive thoughts. None of that "I can't do this" or "what if I don't finish?' Remember that mental exercise Becky had me do last summer? Actually, it wasn't an exercise as much as it was a threat.

"For every negative word or "I can't" that comes out of your mouth, you have to do 10 burpees. No matter where you are or what you are doing. " -Becky
After she said this to me (multiple times, I might add), I'd get the giggles every time I have some moments of self doubt. At work, doing burpees in the hallway? Yikes! And during the Chicago marathon, at mile 23? On Michigan Avenue? I started laughing, and I think all the runners around me thought I was delirious. That is, the ones that weren't laying on the ground, writhing in pain or vomiting! While I felt badly for them, I drew strength from that fact that I was still going. And that I felt pretty good. Clearly, Becky's method worked for me.

Trust your training. You did all the work to prepare for this moment, and now is the time to put it on the road. Remind yourself of how hard you trained. Focus on those workouts that went really well. Think about the miles where you told yourself, "I think I can do this!" And if you don't do this during your training runs, you need to! This mental prep starts with your training.

The most important thing to remind yourself is why you do this. Running is fun! Even though it's hard, and maybe it doesn't always feel fun in the moment. But remember how good you feel when you cross that finish line. Draw on that experience to take you to your next race. And get excited all over again.

 What do you do to prepare yourself for a race? Or any big event? Do you get nervous just thinking about it?

I'm linking up with Deb Runs for Wednesday Word! See what everyone else has to say about anticipation.

And Diatta and Sheila for Workout Wednesday! Another great link up with a variety of awesome posts!

And Annemarie, The FitFoodieMama at Wild Workout Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

BadAss 5 Miler Virtual Race Recap and linkup

As you know from my last post about this race,  I was a little skeptical about running a virtual race. I didn't know how to prepare for this race and how to make it special, since I run 5 miles most days. Do I run it on a different course? Do I run it in my neighborhood? Do I wear the bib? And when do I run it? The race dates are scheduled for May 29-31, but due to scheduling conflicts, I'm not able to run it on any of those days. I'll probably get a 5 miler in next Saturday, but I have to work, and I don't want to "race" before I head into the office to see patients. I decided I'd run it this weekend, but again, where? I had a variety of options in my head. The forest preserve? The retention pond? Do I wait until we head up to Wisconsin and run up there?

After consulting the weather forecast (which is a must when racing, even virtual racing), I made the decision to run this race here, at home, in my neighborhood, on the 5 mile route I run most days, the one that starts and ends at my house, on Saturday. The weather for the rest of the weekend looked iffy. Heck, the town where are I live already cancelled Monday's Memorial Day parade, based on the the prediction of thunderstorms. Seriously. We are becoming a bunch of weather wimps, if you ask me.

So in my planning, I discovered the first advantage of running a virtual race. Flexible scheduling! No need to plan around the race, I planned the race around me and my schedule. The second advantage I already was realizing is that weather would not be an issue for my race! I picked a beautiful spring morning--it was 52 degrees and sunny at "race time", which was about 7:10 by the time I got moving. The conditions were perfect for a PR.

Anyways, once I made the decision to run at home, I felt a sense of relief. Yes, I was feeling a little pressure around this one! I wanted to PR this race, besting my 5 mile PR of 40:45, which I got last November at a Turkey Trot. If you're going to run a virtual race, you need to make it meaningful, right?

Ready to run!
I fueled with 2 cups of coffee and chocolate soy milk, and headed out to my driveway  the starting line. I considered putting a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on my running playlist, but thought that was taking it a little too far. Instead, I grooved to Killing in the Name of by Rage Against the Machine while I waited for my Garmin to find a signal. After about a minute, I got the go ahead and I was off!

It didn't take long for my legs to fall into a groove, which I was pleased with, since I didn't foam roll after my heavy lifting session with Becky earlier this week. As I ran, I was thinking that I didn't have that surge of adrenaline I get at the start of a race, but then a loud motorcycle sped by me at high speed, and I just about jumped out of my Asics. Ok, then, my heart rate is up!

I continued to weave through my neighborhood, listening to my half marathon playlist. I was moving pretty fast, and kept trying to hold back. My legs wanted to fly, and that was a pretty awesome feeling! I saw a couple of my neighbors out walking their dogs. I waved and kept going. I didn't see any other runners, but I did see some cyclists.

About mile 3, I started to get a side stitch, and my tummy was cramping a little. I didn't want to stop to use the bathroom at the park fieldhouse, because my Garmin stops when I do, and wouldn't that be cheating? So I ignored the cramps, slowed down a little bit (you can see that reflected in my splits), and let things settle down. I picked up the pace again, and headed for the homestretch.

The final stretch takes me along the frontage road that runs along a highway. I was moving really fast, and was starting to feel a little lot nauseous. I looked down at my Garmin and saw my time--I knew I was in the vicinity of a PR, so I pushed through the discomfort. I turned the corner onto my street, and as I approached my house the finish line, I hit mile 5 and pushed stop on my Garmin.

My splits. And a 7 second PR!

Well, seeing that just put a huge smile on my face! Even though it's not an official PR, it is a PR to me, and I glad I was able to push myself that hard without the motivation of a live race environment. Running a virtual race is a different experience--it's a different kind of mental prep. I put the finisher's medal around my neck, set up my phone to take a finisher's photo, and went in the house to have breakfast. 

A few more thoughts about running a virtual race: 
-A virtual race is A RACE. It might even be a little tougher than a live race because you don't have the race environment to motivate you. Set a time goal for your race. Make it meaningful. 
-Prepare yourself just like you would for a live race. Plan what you're going to wear. Take photos before and after. I took a picture wearing the bib, but I didn't race in the bib. I felt a little foolish, and my neighbors already think I'm weird. Maybe that wouldn't bother you, tho!
-Keep yourself honest. Sure, there's no official start/finish pad to track your time. No one but you will know if you cheat. But really, what's the point of that? You don't get to be a better runner by cheating yourself. 
-Plan your course ahead of time so you aren't weaving around to get the miles you need. I knew this route well because I run it all the time. And there is the definite advantage of running a familiar route!
-Savor the flexibility! Check the weather, run at the time of day that suits you the best. To me, this was a huge advantage. 

Overall, this was great experience for me. I loved the need for self-discipline, and the t-shirt and medal were awesome. Would I do another one? Well, it looks like I already have one on the calendar. I won a free entry to the Skirt Sports 13er, which is in June. That one is going to be a little more challenging. Local friends, if you want to run part or all of it with me, let me know! I'm working on the course/route as we speak!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Me vs Mother Nature

How was your weekend? For this holiday weekend, we had big plans. My husband was excited to go to his dad's lake house. At the last minute, he had to work Saturday and my youngest had an indoor football game, so we delayed our departure for Sunday. The weather forecast looked ominous, but optimistically, we got ourselves ready. We even laughed at the cancellation of our town's Memorial Day Parade, 3 days ahead of time, based on the forecast. Let Mother Nature win? Not this runner! 

Sunday morning was cloudy and my boys started protesting as soon as we woke them up. But we were on the road by 8. The rain started shortly after we crossed the Illinois Wisconsin state line. That radar picture above tells the story of the day. My heart sunk. We stopped in Madison to pick up the kayaks I had purchased. The rain poured as we pulled up to the lake house. We unloaded the kayaks and hoped to be able to use them. 

My father in law was waiting for us at the lake house. He had the TV on and told me I could put on whatever I wanted. I replied that we didn't come there to watch TV. Kind of rude of me, but at that point, my frustration level was pretty high. 

And as it turned out, we did watch a lot of TV. He doesn't have cable, so it was slim pickings. We watched Brady Bunch reruns. The French Open. Golf. Rick Bayless, who made some delicious looking Tortas. After dinner, NASCAR came on. I couldn't take it anymore. I noticed that it wasn't raining, so I headed down to the water to take one of the kayaks out. 

The water was like glass. I found myself taking deep breaths and savored the quiet. I paddled around the bay, each stroke cutting the surface on the water and smoothly moving me forward. I stopped paddling and just drifted. After a while, the dark clouds rolled back in and the wind picked up again. I headed back down the channel, feeling much more relaxed. 

It rained all night. This morning, I put on the news. The weather radar showed some breaks in the rain, so I headed out for my 5 miles. Not only did it rain on me, but the wind started to pick up. I raised my fist to the sky, determined not to let the weather get the best of me. Soaked but triumphant, I got my 5 miles done. 

After drying off and warming up in the shower, I decided to take the kayak out again. The sun started to peek through the clouds. It was really windy and I couldn't head out to the bay, so I paddled down the channel. 

Saw this guy sunning on a sunken boat. 

I soon had company. My youngest son was paddling towards me in the other kayak. "Pretty nice, " I commented. He nodded. And asked if we could go home.

Sigh. I completely understood. We all tried to make the best of a bad weekend. There was no complaining. My oldest son forgot his phone charger and his phone died. There's no wifi either. The house is really small and even when the weather cooperates, it's pretty close quarters. 

Still, I'm grateful I was able to spend time with my boys. We had some laughs. We watched some really bad TV. I got a run in. And I got out on the water. 

Mother Nature, you are a formidable foe. But as hard as you tried, you didn't stop me. 

How was your weekend? Mother Nature make other plans for you?

I'm linking this post up with Tara at ReadingNRunning for her Weekend Update! I'm typing this on my phone while we're driving home, so if the post looks weird, you'll know why! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

My other love

This morning, on my bike ride, I was thinking about writing this blog post and how much I love riding my bike. Riding my bike makes me feel like a kid again. Do you remember your first bike? This is me, on my 7th birthday, and that's my birthday crown on my head. Our driveway was a gravel hill, and you really couldn't get moving fast, unless you started at the top of the driveway and headed down the hill. Which I did, a lot, until the day that my black lab, happy to see me, ran in front of me, and I hit him. Together, we tumbled down the driveway, head over heels, and landed in a heap. There were no helmets back then. How we didn't get hurt, besides a few scrapes, is beyond me. We weren't allowed to ride on the busy rural road that passed my house. There was a grass path between my house and my cousins', and I'd ride my bike on it to get there. We could take the path past my cousins' houses, and onto another dirt path to my grandma's farm. The farmhouse was set was back from the road, and her driveway, while also gravel, was long, and you could get moving pretty fast. We played at the farm all day long, and it's no wonder we had no issues with our weight. We were really active kids. I absolutely loved riding my bike.

So this morning, as happens to me on so many other bike rides, I pedalled along the forest preserve path and was taken back to those days as a child. I find myself getting so lost in my ride, so "zen", that I lose my focus, and have some close calls with cars, potholes, or forget to unclip when I stop. This morning though, it started to rain as I rode, and so I was a little more attentive to my surroundings. I had to keep stopping to wipe my glasses. I could have used little windshield wipers. I sure didn't want to wipe out! Broken arm? Who's got time for that?

Flat tire? Who's got time for that, is what I should have asked myself. As soon as the rain stopped, I headed into my favorite part of the forest preserve. My back tire started acting funny. At first I thought it was in my head. But no. I finally stopped, and looked down at the back tire. It looked ok, but I squeezed it, and yes, it was flat. Crap! I called my husband, and he offered to send my son to pick me up. Luckily, there was still a little air in the tire, and I rode it slowly to a nearby strip mall to wait for my son.

A little unhappy.
I got home, took my bike to the bike shop, and got the tire fixed. The technician told me that it went flat because it was underinflated. Who knew?

Apparently there's a lot I don't know about riding a bike. Riding a road bike, while invoking those feelings of childhood pleasure, is a little more involved than just hopping on and going for a ride on a banana bike. In the spirit of the Friday Five linkup, hosted by the DC trifecta, here's my top 5 tips for road biking. I'm no expert, but this is what I've learned over the past 3 years since I bought my road bike. I'm sure some of you more serious cyclists and triathletes have other top 5 tips, but remember, I'm a runner who's biking to crosstrain. It's all about fitness and fun for me!

EatPrayRunDC, Mar on the Run, You Signed Up For What?

So here we go:

1. You're going to need a lot of accessories. Runners think running is expensive? Try cycling. I have a basic entry level road bike, a Trek Lexa (which I love), which was pretty pricey, although nothing compared to what you could spend. I even got it on sale, and my husband still didn't talk to me for a couple of days after buying it. Sigh. In addition to the bike, I have had to purchase padded bike shorts for comfort. My seat is really hard, and it takes a little while to get used to that. I also have gloves, a helmet, sunglasses (with interchangeable lenses for different light conditions), 2 bottle holders and drink bottles, and an air pump and spare innertube. These last 2 items really give me a false sense of security, because I don't know how to change a tire. Which brings me to the next item:

"Oh look! Is it a stockbroker? Is it a quality surveyor? Is it a church warden? No! It's Bicycle Repairman!"-Monty Python's flying circus. I thought about this sketch today! Where was he when I needed him?  I may be dating myself here. This is an oldie...
2. You need to learn some basic bicycle maintenance. I'm no bicycle repairman. As you know, I'm a do as I say, not as I do kind of gal, and I have yet to learn to change a tire. My local bike shop as well as REI offer regular maintenance classes. After today, I resolve to attend one. My blogging friend Amanda "Too Tall Fritz" also has a link to an instructional tutorial here. A guy at the bike shop today told me that if I could do it myself, it would only take 10 minutes and I'd be rolling again.

3. Learning to clip your shoes into your pedals is not for the timid. But it is so worth it. You can pedal so much more smoothly and go so much faster. When I bought my bike, it came with toe cages, and I used to wear my old running shoes. Last summer I finally got up the courage to take the plunge and ride with shoe clips. I've had a few near falls--a few times when I had to stop short for a car and couldn't get unclipped fast enough. I'm that cyclist who unclips about a 1/4 mile before a stoplight. I like to be prepared. My advice, if you're thinking of going with shoe clips is to try them out while standing still before going on the road. I made the bike shop let me try them out in the store before I'd take my bike home. The technicians just rolled their eyes at me. Whatever.


4. Ahem. Don't let those diehard cyclists intimidate you. I may be biased here, but it seems to me that a lot (not all) of cyclists are a bit arrogant. This came as a shock to me, since runners are not generally like this. But I've had plenty of incidents where I said hi to a passing cyclist, and they just ignored me. Last summer when I ran Zooma on the Chicago Lakefront path, there were cyclists who rode by at high speed, and I believe they rode a little too close to the runners on purpose. It was, to put it mildly, a little frightening. You know the ones, riding the fancy $7000 Italian bikes that weigh like 2 ounces? Those guys. My favorite thing to do on my bike path is pass them up on my low end Trek Lexa. Getting chicked? You think runners hate it? Do it to a cyclist. So satisfying....

5. So, on that note, be courteous. Don't be "that cyclist". Follow the rules of the road. Ride with the traffic, not against it. Use hand signals to turn. Don't cut in front of cars. Last spring, I was driving my son home from school, and this cyclist kept passing me at stoplights and stop signs. I'd get ahead of him, and there he was again. He was riding like a maniac. Imagine my surprise when I pulled up next to him and got a good look at him. It was the boys' former orthodontist. Wow! What a jerk! All that money I paid for braces, and this is what he does with it? Terrorize motorists? He's so nice in the office. You just never know who you might see. And if you want to be seen (what a segue, right?), wear high visibility clothing. Actually, I always wear a race shirt when I ride my bike, too, because I want those die hards to know that I'm not a cyclist. I'm a runner. And proud of it.

Most importantly, have fun on your bike. Riding a bike is a great form of cross training for runners. Lots of times, a runner can ride a bike when they're injured, because cycling is a non-weight bearing activity. While I was healing from a broken foot, twice, I was able to maintain my cardiovascular fitness/endurance by riding my bike. The endorphins help too.

PS: The bike technician had a joke for me: What do you call a cyclist without a bike? A runner. What a knee slapper...

Do you bike? Did I forget anything? Any other tips you might add?

I'm also linking up with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday! All kinds of tips over there!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Interview with Dimity McDowell Davis: Another Mother Runner

True to her word, Dimity came through with an amazing, thoughtful interview. Knowing her life circumstances, I have to say that I didn't expect to hear from her. Since Sarah (aka SBS), her partner in crime and running, broke her ankle, Dimity has been forced to fly solo. Last week after I forwarded the link to the book review, she emailed me and told me she'd answer my questions on a flight cross country. I think once you read this, you'll see that she came through and then some. The original Badass Mother Runners have always been there for the tribe. And this was no exception. 

So here's the interview. Enjoy! And have you read the book review? Linked up? You can find it here.

TTLWH: All of your books were helpful, inspirational, and enjoyable. But I have to say that this book, Tales of Another Mother Runner, was my favorite of all of the three books. I’m always looking for inspiration, and there’s a lot of it here. Which book is your favorite?

DMD: That’s a tough question—like asking me to name my favorite kid. Run Like a Mother got this whole party started, and I love that its tone and perspective grew the roots of the AMR tribe. I didn’t think I’d enjoy writing Train Like a Mother as much as I did; I’m not one for rigorous schedules, at least when it comes to running, but I really enjoyed pulling together the training plans in a way that I knew would work for women like me (some flexibility in the schedule, some fun workouts, plenty of footnotes). Tales from Another Mother Runner was a different project because there were so many voices in it, and I love it for that reason. Getting to work with 21 talented writers as we polished their essays is pretty much my idea of work utopia.

TTLWH: I love how the books make such a perfect trilogy of must-have running books for women. When you and Sarah wrote the first book, did you have plans for #2 and #3? Or did they just evolve over time?

DMD: We had no plans when we wrote Run Like a Mother. Zero. We reluctantly got a Facebook page and Twitter accounts because our (wise) publicist suggested them. After the community started to grow, we noticed how many training questions were popping up—questions we hadn’t addressed in RLAM—so TLAM was born. And TAMR just felt like the right thing to do to celebrate the power of a mile and the power of the AMR community.

TTLWH: The stories in Tales are so inspirational, and you amassed an amazing collection of essays and authors. Of course, I loved Heather’s essay titled Taking the Long Way Home, not only because that’s the name of my blog, but because I’m married to a guy like Joe. Maybe you don’t want to say, but I’m going to ask, if you had to pick one essay as your favorite, which one would it be and why?

DMD: Ugh. Again with the hard questions! It’s too hard to call out one. But I will say, I am especially fond of the essays that integrate “real life” into the mix—and by real life, I mean infertility, affairs, divorce, depression, and other fun topics. Sometimes we—and by we, I mean I—want to separate our lives into little silos: this one is for running, this one is for parenting, this one is for marriage, this one is for speed bumps, etc. The reality is, life is one funky mess most of the time. The more complicated essays in TAMR acknowledge that—and validate how vital a run is to find some space to think, vent, smile, cry, grow, and make decisions. Kinda like a buy one, get one deal. 

TTLWH: Adrienne interviewed me for a story that ended up on the blog about breaking up with a running partner. I was thrilled to have my story featured on the blog, of course! I still laugh when I run by that guy’s house. Anyways, there were so many great stories on the blog that didn’t make the book. How hard was it to narrow it down to the essays that appeared in the book? 

DMD: So hard. I don’t know the formula or the right words, but books are put together in page packets—definitely the wrong word—of 8. And I wanted the book to have a certain flow and not let any section meander for too long. Combine those two things, and I had to make some tough choices. The good news is that I knew we had space on the website for all the stuff we couldn’t fit into the book. Silver lining.

TTLWH: Where do you find inspiration? Who inspires you?

DMD: While I will always admire a great performance—a win, a PR, an ultra-marathon finish—it’s the beginners who really resonate with me. I so enjoy meeting women at expos who are running their first 5K, first 10K, first half-marathon, first marathon. They have this awkward aura about them, like they’re about to be pushed out of a nest. They’re often unsure of themselves, but we, as experienced runners, can sense that the finish line is going to change them. Send them on a path that they could’ve never predicted, and their lives are going to richer for it. It gets me every time.

courtesy of
TTLWH: Your essay on your struggle with depression was especially poignant. As someone who started running to fight depression and anxiety, this essay hit home for me. How hard was this for you to write? Being sidelined by injury, what are you doing to get your endorphins on?

DMD: I had parts of Defying Gravity in my head for most of the summer of 2014. I’d come out of the worst of it, and I was trying to make sense of the awful winter just past. I wasn’t sure, though, that I was ever going to write it—or include it in the book. I sat down and wrote part of it, sent it onto a few close friends and asked for their opinions. Most were very positive–not the right word, but you get what I mean—about it, noting that they had either felt echoes of the thoughts I had, or knew a close friend who had. Their responses gave me the green light to finish and include it. Being honest in the essay was terribly difficult, but writing it wasn’t that hard. It really helped me process what got me to that suicidal point. When I was beyond low, all I could think about was just being done. I had no interest in figuring anything out except for how not to live anymore. Writing about it helped me rationally put the pieces together—and provided a blueprint on self-care that I need to be diligent about heeding.
Injuries always suck, whether you’re prone to depression or not. When I can exercise in other ways—biking, swimming, strength training—I do and that’s a strong Plan B. I just need to be accountable to somebody. It’s been 8 months since my plantar plate sprain flared up—a five-mile run feels crazy long to me still—and about two months ago, I started texting a friend when I’d exercised that day. We’re not on the same training plan and don’t live near each other, but I just wanted accountability, as did she. It’s keeping me going.

photo courtesy of
TTLWH: Do you have a funny running story you want to share? Do you get to run with Sarah much?

DMD: I don’t have one specific story. I’m really good at tripping (especially on rocks about the size of a domino), and I land pretty hard most of the time. See: broken wrist, broken hand. I even fell once in a race, right in front of somebody who had just complimented me on the talk I’d given at the expo. Sarah (a.k.a. my sister from another mother runner) and I try to run whenever we’re together, and we’ve had some great runs around the country: We’ve run everywhere from Sacramento to Seattle to Annapolis.

TTLWH: You and Sarah have had a huge impact on the world of women’s recreational running—not only with your books but your website, your blog, your sassy t-shirts—you’ve empowered many of us (myself included) to call ourselves badass and believe it! In your wildest dreams, could you have imagined this happening? Does it feel like a dream come true? Overwhelming? 

DMD: It’s all that: a dream and overwhelming and wild and empowering. Definitely did not imagine this happening at all; It’s all been organic. The coolest thing for me is that while it’s quite a bit of work, it’s work that we love and in which we are totally invested. The most overwhelming part is the travel. Not being on the road, but removing myself and then reinserting myself into family life. There’s no rest for the in that situation. What’s more, I am 100% totally my (don’t-always-love-to-run) self with the AMR crowd: I don’t feel the need to impress anybody or pretend like I’m somebody I’m not. (Because, as we all know, acting otherwise is a much bigger load to carry.)

TTLWH: I met you and Sarah at a house party a few years ago, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I loved the intimacy of the house party and that I got to meet and talk with both of you. Your parties are so big now, and I’m wondering if you and Sarah still feel that same connection with the women who attend them. 

DMD: Absolutely feel that connection. A few weeks ago, I was solo at a mother runner party in Atlanta—Sarah was in Spokane for an expo—and I started to feel a bit stressed by the long line of women waiting to get their books signed. At home, I’d been reading this book called The Barn at the End of the World, which is about a Quaker Buddhist Shepherd. Mary Rose O’Reilly wrote about how she was at the bank, and as she apologized and fumbled around in her purse for something, the teller said, “I have all the time in the world.” Then Mary followed it with an eloquent explanation. I couldn’t remember that part, but I remembered the phrase all the time in the world, and talked myself down. I asked everybody what they were up to, running-wise, and chatted with them before signing. That’s the part of AMR I love the most—hearing the stories—and to not take time to hear them would’ve really bummed me out. Everybody was predictably patient and awesome—they’re mother runners, after all—and of course, there was plenty of conversation and connection (and wine consumption) in the line.

TTLWH: Finally, once you wrap up the book parties, what’s next for you and Sarah? And on a personal level, are you training for anything? Any races or events that you want to cross off the list?

DMD: As a birthday present to myself, I signed up for two shorter triathlons: one Olympic-distance in early June, and a sprint one in late June. I may do a few more after that…we’ll see. My foot is not ready for anything past a 10K—and I’m not even sure how that’ll feel, so I’m just going to play it by ear. As you know, Sarah broke her ankle and had surgery on it about two weeks ago. Although she’s bummed it happened, she’s glad it’s a bone, which will heal solidly and healthfully, unlike muscles and tendons can, and she’s glad it happened just two weeks after Boston. She’s had her eye on Boston 2016, which she qualified for in the fall of 2014, and she’s sure to be running strong there.


Thanks again Dimity! And thanks to you and Sarah for all you do and all you’ve done for women’s (and mothers') running. Actually, you could write a book on the history and growth of the whole BAMR movement! Best to you and Sarah as you guys wrap up your book parties. I hope you take some well deserved time off. 

Please join me in wishing Dimity good luck on her tris in June! And send healing vibes to Sarah, whom I'm sure is counting down the days before she's back on the road!

Have you read any of the other mother runner books? Which was your favorite? And why? Have you attended one of their parties?

Linking this post up with Diatta and Sheila for Workout Wednesday AND Annmarie, Angelena, Sara, and Amber at Wild Workout Wednesday! Be sure to check out both linkups and see what everyone else is posting!