Showing posts with label Thinking Out Loud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thinking Out Loud. Show all posts

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Late bloomer

Today I had a speed work session that astonished me.

Stunned. And it's pouring behind me.
After waking up to a gray, rainy, dreary morning, the last thing I felt like doing was running fast. I felt more like crawling back under the covers and snuggling with my dog. But a mantra stuck in my head as I drove to the 2 mile loop at the retention pond where I do a lot of training. I read a statement on Runner's World (and for the life of me, I can't find the link) that said something like you have to run uncomfortable to run faster. So besides training us to run faster, speed work teaches runners to push out of their comfort zone. Similar to those really tough CrossFit workouts that Becky has me do.

I thought about that a lot when I ran my mile splits this morning. I had my Garmin set on pace, and as I glanced down at my watch during my splits, I saw that 7:30 split and tried to hold back. By 3/4 mile into each split, I was breathing really hard and starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. But I had that little rest period waiting for me at the mile mark, so I pushed ahead each time. Stopped to walk for about a minute, catch my breath, and let my heart rate come back down before pushing onto the next mile.

During mile 4, it started to rain again and I heard a huge clap of thunder. Ok then! Let's go! And I did, finishing that split at 7:36, the exact same time as mile 3. Thrilled to have negative splits, and consistent splits, I walked back to my car in the pouring rain, smiling and pumping my fist. I'm sure the people in their cars, who were waiting for the rain to pass, thought I was a complete lunatic.

Am I crazy?

I talk about the age thing a lot. I'm 52 years old. Everyone keeps saying "age is just a number". But you just try and get your head around it. This is the fastest and the strongest that I have ever run. I keep expecting the "inevitable decline" and it's not happening. I go to the doctor for my annual checkup and they don't know what to do with me, except to tell me they don't have many patients like me.

Who peaks in their 50s?

Apparently a lot of "late bloomers" like me. According to this article in Competitor magazine, Tim Noakes notes that most of the best runners after age 45 were late starters, runners who started in their late 20s and 30s. Elite runners tend not to run faster into old age, and some of this is due to cummulative high mileage. Experts recommend older runners utilize a low mileage training plan with cross training to preserve those muscles.

Ok, so I'm doing that. But how long can I keep this up? Will menopause change things for me? A few years ago, a woman came up to me after yoga and told me once I go through menopause, I won't be able to run anymore. Waa waa, Debbie Downer, I know that's not true--look at Kathy Martin, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Christine Kennedy, Sharon Vos, Margaret name a few. These ladies are all still blazingly fast. And while I'm not even comparing myself to them, it's helpful to see that there are women still out there getting it done and in impressive fashion, too!

The key to all this, I think, is to keep moving. Run 4 days/week. Strength training. Yoga. All the stuff I do.

Because what is it that Tom Petty says? "If you don't run, you rust..." lyrics from Big Weekend


I'm just thinking out loud with Amanda Running with Spoons! Be sure to check out the other blogs to see what everyone else is thinking about...

And with Jill Conyers' Fitness Friday!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Catching up...

I'm off work this week, and I'm trying to get caught up on household things. Since I'm the queen of procrastination, I haven't gotten much done, but yesterday I decided to plow through the pile of Runners' World and Running Times that have accumulated on my nightstand. I don't know about you, but I just don't read magazines anymore. I get a free subscription to Runners' World with my Chicago Area Runners' Association membership, and I subscribed to Running Times because my niece was selling magazine subscriptions for her school. Needless to say, they come in the mail, they look interesting, and I set them aside to be read later. With the internet, I look up what I need to know and read it that way. Plus, after all these years of reading Runners' World, I'm starting to feel a sense of deja vu. How many articles can you read on picking the right shoe? Injury proofing your body? Power foods? And don't get me started on all those subscription cards that fall out of every issue. I already subscribe, people! I like to read in bed and those cards just keep falling out. Sometimes, I wake up with print on my face because I fell asleep on one of them.

I actually like the more technical articles in Running Times. But the editors have cut publication of that magazine to 6 issues per year.

Anyways, I read all the issues I had, back to November, and found some articles that interested me. Today I'm linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursday, and I figured I'd share some of what I read.

November 2014 had an article on muscle cramping. Where was this when I needed it in October? Remember that fabulous finish at the Chicago Marathon? Where I reached up to grab a snack and my legs froze up? I nearly fell to the ground but someone caught me, put me in a wheelchair, and whisked me off to the medical tent, where they offered me bananas. That was weird. I was well hydrated with my Tailwind Nutrition and to this day, I have no idea what happened. According to this article, it most likely was muscle fatigue. The author makes a good point when he says that if dehydration alone could cause a muscle cramp, then people could just cramp up in saunas, hot tubs, or even on hot days. I had this image of people seizing up at a Cubs game in the middle of July. At least, they can't blame the heat if that happens. Maybe just the Cubs...but I digress...So what works for muscle cramps? Pickle juice (yep, Mish, you were right!) and stretching, which is what I did to get myself out of that medical tent. What doesn't? Bananas, mustard, and quinine. I'm allergic to bananas, so I can feel good about turning down the bananas in the medical tent.

December 2014 had an article titled The Writer Runner, about Jamie Quatro, a runner, who writes stories, and now a book. She recently published a short story collection titled I Want to Show You More, which has been a critical sensation. Reviews by readers on have been a little less generous. The article in Runners' World made the book sound like it was all about running but the review describes it as "dark, bizarre, and sexual". Hmmm. Quatro seems so normal, and the best quote from this article is: "Keep a clean life so you can be messy on the page. I believe in that motto." Not so sure this book is one for the book club.

Naturally, the January/February 2015 issue had an article on resolutions. This article was interesting to me because it was more about motivation and goal setting than actual resolution making. I'm not a believer in resolutions, since it can be a recipe for failure, but setting goals is a whole different thing. I'm all about goals. I've actually written quite a bit about that on the blog, and at the end of every month, I check in with my goals for the year. There was also an article on Liz Ferro, founder of Girls with Sole, which is an organization to bring running to at risk girls. The goal of her organization is to build self esteem and fitness. Ferro, who was a former foster child, is a runner. She's written a book about her life story as well. Maybe her story will be one for the book club?

David Willey, editor in chief, writes in the March 2015 issue about the National Runners' Health Study, which is set to shut down this year due to lack of funding. This study of over 113,000 runners, has been ongoing for 19 years, has generated a lot of data, all of it showing the health benefits of running, and lots of scientific papers. There's a National Nurses Study too, looking at the lifestyle and health habits of nurses. I wonder what other groups are being studied? I had no idea there was a study of runners, and wouldn't it be a shame if it stopped? You can write to the Secretary of Energy, Dr Ernest Moniz ( to show your support for continuation of this important study.

I found 2 articles that inspired me in the April 2015 issue. One was a picture of an inspirational runner, Toni Carey, co-founder of Black Girls Run in Atlanta. Besides all the great information about her on this page, I was distracted by the cute running top that she was wearing, a Brooks Run Happy shirt. Could I pull this one off? I guess we'll see since I ordered it! On sale! Score! Just what I need. More running clothes!

The other article that inspired me was about Kathy Martin, age 63, who is breaking all kinds of Master's records for running. She recently ran a 3:10:27 marathon, setting an American record for the 60-64 age group. If that isn't inspiring to this later bloomer, I don't know what is.

And I've finished them! All right, now I'm all caught up! Maybe now I should clean out my closet and dresser....

What have you been reading lately? Do you still read magazines? What's got you Thinking Out Loud? Be sure to head over to Running with Spoons to see what everyone is thinking about.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

No filter

Thursdays are for thinking out loud, according to Amanda at Running with Spoons. Here's some random thoughts from the mind of Wendy....

You can see some remaining snow behind me...
Today's run was glorious...sunshine, 40 degrees, and the snow is almost gone. I only hit one icy patch. But man, what a mess out there...mud, sure, but the crap that was buried under the snow? Do people throw this stuff from the car? How does it end up there? I saw the usual liquor bottles and fast food wrappers, sure. But last year at this time, next to the busy suburban road where I run, I saw a bunch of those airplane-sized liquor bottles and 2 pairs of ladies underpants. Someone must have been having a party, right? But how did that stuff end up by the side of the road? Imagine the conversation.."My mom will kill me if she finds this stuff in her van..." Another time I saw a big goldfish just laying next to the road. Dead of course, but how did it end up there? Did he get too big for the tank and someone just decided to fling him out the car window? Did they throw it at a runner? Always entertaining, but somewhat disturbing, running outside this time of year gives me plenty to think about...


And a little TMI for you all, but my tummy has been understandably but horribly unreliable these past couple of weeks. I had to make a pit stop this morning on my run. Praying that it behaves itself on Saturday at my race. Imodium, anyone? I applied for that Shower Pill promotion through FitFluential but I didn't get it. Too bad. I think I'd be the perfect tester for their product. Sara may not want to ride with me after all...


No comment needed..
Yes, I have a half marathon in 2 days. The Get Lucky 21K is my backup plan race, my replacement race for the Sarasota Half Marathon that I had to defer due to my family drama. I'm alternating between looking forward to it and dreading it. The race director changed the start location 2 weeks ago and failed to tell any of us. Luckily, I saw it on their Facebook page. Parking is still uncertain, and when I posted a question about it today on their page, they posted a picture of the weather forecast. Helpful. The other concerning factor is that the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade is at the same time. Should be interesting. Stay tuned. I hope they have adequate portapotties.


I've been running pretty consistent and I'm hoping everything falls into place for Saturday. I'm looking for sub-2, and a PR would be icing on the cake. My legs have been loose and strong. Pace has been good. So besides my tummy, I need to get my head in the game. It has been 5 months since my marathon. I haven't had to put on my race face since, with the exception of that Turkey Trot in November. Time to pull out the mantras. Catch that red dot!


My husband finally went back to work this week, and Monday morning before work I enjoyed being alone in my house for the first time in 3 months. I was tempted to just run around naked, just because I could. I didn't, though. I just did yoga. Today is my day off and guess what? My oldest son is home "sick" with a cold. He's blasting heavy metal up in his room. So much for time to myself. Serenity now.

What's going through your head? Have you checked out Amanda's link up before? The posts are pretty awesome!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Running the emotions

Anger fueled my last run. Life circumstances-aka a rebellious teenage boy-- have sent my emotions into a tailspin. This kid is pushing my every button right now and it's all I can do to hold it together and get through the day. But it's not just that. Suddenly, there becomes a very real possibility that I may not travel to Florida in March and that I may have to DNS my Sarasota half. This is the race that I've wanted to run for the past 3 years. I'm stunned and shocked and angry by how my world has turned upside down.

So 2 days ago, I took my run outside. I had planned speedwork on the mill to do but that wasn't going to happen. The sun was shining and it was actually warmish--about 35--and I just needed to just run. I needed my blacktop therapy. There was no plan, no speed, no time goal. Just me and the road. And as luck would have it, my playlist spit my hardest, angriest music at me. It was just awesome. I picked up the pace and pounded the ground. I pictured my feet cracking the pavement. It felt like I was flying. I sang along with those adolescent refrains of rebellion. I smiled to myself about the irony of my musical selections. I had visions of myself pummeling my son and ran harder. At 6.22 miles I stopped. Catching my breath, I smiled to myself. That felt good. I felt strong. I felt tough. I felt like I was ready to tackle life, at least for the time being.

Of course, I don't like being angry, but anger sure has given me some good runs--not just that one but others in the past.

It's a lot easier to run angry than it is to run sad. Crying and running just don't mix. It's hard to breathe when you're crying. I've done it before and it's really difficult. On this last run, I was really grateful that my run wasn't interrupted by tears. They've been flowing a lot lately and at the most unexpected times.

I've had runs fueled by fear too. Remember last summer, when I found the cyclist in the road who had been hit by a car? I stayed with him until the paramedics took him away and then decided to try to salvage what I could of my planned run. My first two miles after that were fueled by adrenaline--that flight or fight mechanism--but once the adrenaline ran out, I couldn't go another step. I've had the same thing happen when I've crossed the start line of a big race. Go out too fast and boom! or bonk or hit the wall. Whatever you call it, it's all bad and I've had to learned to control my nerves when I start to run. Going out too fast burns up all that energy and the outcome isn't good.

The best emotion to run on is joy. But joy isn't predictable. The joyful run is the run that comes when you least expect it. I've had joyful runs when I've had a sleepless night. After a bad day at work. I've run with pure joy in the rain. I've experienced a sudden feeling of joy after a difficult first mile on a run where I was ready to call it quits. The thing about the joyful run is that suddenly it all comes together and the legs feel light. As if I could run forever. It feels like I'm flying. Some call it a runner's high. I might even say that my last run became joyful. I felt really good after that run. Talk about a mood swing...! But it was great to get rid of that anger and feel happy again. I love to run.

And that is the best feeling in the world.

How do your emotions fuel your runs? What emotion makes you run best?

I'm linking this post with Amanda Running with Spoons

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What has running done for you?

Something happened to me between the 4th and 5th grade.

As a little girl, I was a leader. Well liked, with a ton of friends. But around my 10th birthday, something changed for me. There wasn't a specific incident that I can recall.  It was almost like a shift in my brain. All of a sudden, I wasn't sure about anything. I lost my mojo. I started to feel awkward and ugly. I felt different than everyone else. In middle school, everyone around me started going through the physical changes of puberty. Nothing was happening for me, and it didn't seem like a big deal, to me at least. But along with those physical changes all my friends were experiencing, was a shift in everyone's psyche. Everyone was boy crazy and clothes crazy and just plain crazy. It was almost like a club that I wasn't a part of. I didn't get it. I didn't really notice how different I was until I was invited to a slumber party at one of my elementary school friend's house. This was 7th grade. I remember it vividly because while I was friends with several of the girls, there were others invited who were all part of a "faster" crowd from my junior high. Things were way over my head. I just wanted to go to sleep and they were up all night, dancing and giggling. The differences between me and those girls were evident, and I wasn't included in that group again. My self confidence continued to plummet, and hit rock bottom when I started high school. As a freshman, I was pranked, meanly, by a girl I had been friends with in grade school. It's still painful to think about that incident. I was socially awkward and gawky. My best friend from junior high moved on to the "popular" group. It was a tough time. 

Me, probably around age 13.
Something happens at puberty that makes girls' confidence plummet. Kristin Armstrong wrote an amazing essay on this. Changes in the brain, both hormonal and physical that occur with puberty, change the way preteens view themselves. For both sexes, but especially girls, it is so important to "fit in", and preteens compare themselves to their peers. Girls also measure themselves against unrealistic expectations in the media. 

Did you see this amazing ad during the Super Bowl? This really struck a nerve with me. Apparently, I wasn't alone. My Facebook and Instagram feed was full of #runlikeagirl posts and pictures. I've also read a few blog posts that touched on themes related to this ad. CNN interviewed the director of this ad. She's been involved with other projects like this in the past and comments in the article that she was shocked by the dramatic shift in girls' thinking at puberty.

Back in the day, when I was young, girls didn't participate in sports like they do today. I was raised in the era before Title IX, when girls were supposed to be cheerleaders, dancers, and moms. Not that there's anything wrong with these options. But they were the only options I knew about. No one played sports, really. None of my friends were athletes. In my clinic, I see girls who are participating in every sport that boys have and then some. And those girls play hard!

But even with all these opportunities to participate in sports, have things really changed for girls? In my clinic, besides seeing the confident, athletic girls, I also see girls who tell me they're ugly..too fat..too thin...girls who cut themselves...who are bullied. How do we help those girls?

I stumbled through my teens and 20s, trying to find my way. Finally, after suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, I started working out. There was a track at the health club, and I began to run. After time, I found that not only did running help me manage my anxiety, in fact reducing it, but also began giving me self confidence. I ran and I got faster. I felt confident enough to run a few 5ks, and actually placed in my AG a few times. This was in the days before racing was a big thing, but it surprised me. I still didn't have the confidence to join a running group or meet other runners. I was intimidated by experienced runners. I still felt that I wasn't a "real runner".

Fast forward 20-odd years and I look back on that old me and see how far I've come. But even prior to last year's marathon, I still had lots of self doubt prior to lining up at the start. I was fortunate to have a coach and friends who believed I could and I would. And I did. I proved to myself that I can "run like a girl". But how sad is it that it that at 52, I was still lacking in confidence? How do we keep our teen girls from a life of low self esteem and self doubt?

For me, the answer is running. Running gives me a sense of accomplishment. Almost everyone can run. It doesn't have to be fast. It doesn't have to be far. But lacing up those shoes and heading out the door is an accomplishment in itself. Pushing through a tough run and not quitting helps build mental toughness. Running is easy. Just one foot in front of the other.


I'm linking this post up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for her Thinking Out Loud linkup.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Come on man!

And this pretty much sums up the Bears season with Jay Cutler. They fired all the coaches and kept Cutler, the highest paid player in the NFL. Come on man!!
Any football fans here? There's a great pregame feature on ESPN called "Come on Man", where the commentators show boneheaded plays during the previous week and follow each clip with a resounding "Come on man!" Pretty funny, these clips provide fodder for some pretty interesting discussions regarding rules, behavior, and sportsmanship.

I have a few "Come on man!" moments for running this year. Without further ado, let's start with the cheaters. I have to do it, but let's get it out of the way. Apparently there are plenty of cheaters in the sport, but for this post, I'm going to call out the 2 women's Chicago marathon winners cheaters. That's my hometown race you're messin' with!

I called out Rita Jeptoo for alleged doping prior to his year's Chicago marathon. Looks like she's been doing it all along. And then there's Lilya Shobukhova, winner of the Chicago marathon 3 years in a row, 2009-2011, who last April was stripped of her titles. Ok, you won it once. Cheated, sure. But to come back and win it again? Why not, right? What does that feel like, knowing you took a banned substance and won? Went home with the big prize purse. Do you get to a certain point where you forget that doping is cheating? Is everyone doing it, so it seems ok? Maybe it's easier to accept as you get away with it. Help me to understand this.

Come on man!

Tabatha Hamilton at the Talladega half marathon earlier in the year

And what about that woman who ran that marathon in record time? Tabatha Hamilton? Who ran the Chickamauga marathon in 2:54? First half was 2:00 but the second half....54 minutes? I wrote a post on this last fall. I tried to find a follow up on the story but there was nothing, except that she was DQ'd and another winner, the real winner, was named. Lillian Gilmer, a Nashville attorney and marathon veteran, crossed the finish line in 3:21:33. She didn't recall ever seeing another runner, which made Hamilton's story all the more interesting. Did Hamilton really think she could get away with it? I can't help but feel sorry for her, because how do you save face after telling such a big whopper? I wonder what will happen to her now. How's she's feeling about all this? Will she run again?

Come on man!

HIgh heel drag queen race in Key West, FL
Road races may be a thing of the past in Lancaster, Ohio. As of January 1, the city passed an ordinance that states they will no longer approve race permits "nor provide support services to these events, citing increasing costs, lack of city resources, and multiple citizen complaints". The ordinance also states that "roads shall not be closed and/or blocked by non-law enforcement" personnel. This seems like an invitation to disaster. Think: running on sidewalks or running on roads alongside with cars. I won't deny that road racing has gotten a bit out of control. It isn't enough to just have to be sprayed with paint, foam, or run in high heels. Why not do what other cities are doing--restricting the number of races that can be held during the year? Or limit the number of participants in a particular race. Makes sense to me...

Come on man!
At 2 pounds 12 ounces, this thing will probably cause some neck strain for finishers!
Can I do another Come on man! to the race promoters who are providing over the top medals and bling? I wrote a post on this last March when the Little Rock Marathon revealed the finisher's medal. The thing was ridiculously huge. Interestingly, the race was cancelled halfway through because of severe weather. I wonder what they did with all those medals? Anyways, they've revealed the medal for the 2015 marathon. It isn't enough to have a finishers' medal, its' an "award winning medal". Runners' World wrote an article on this phenomenon as well. I blame Disney and their over the top medals. Now everyone has to do one better than Disney....

Come on man!

Yeah right. I still ran. Was the path really closed? Or was it made up?
On the local front, the woman who claimed to be stabbed by a random man while running in the Cook County Forest Preserve MADE THE WHOLE THING UP! The story was that she was running with a friend on the path when a man jumped out of the bushes, stabbed her in the abdomen, and then ran away. She ran to a nearby home where she called police. When I heard this story, I knew something was fishy. Not that you wouldn't be accosted at this forest preserve. I run there, and there are plenty of unsavory characters around. Sadly. I even wrote a post last spring about this. But the woman's story just sounded weird. Luckily, the police thought so too. 

Come on man!

Lululemon, which makes some pretty expensive awesome running and yoga gear, tried to revolutionize running fashion this year by coming out with the Runsie--aka a running onesie. A one piece romper designed for runners, apparently it "flew off the shelves" when it came out. BTW, the back is open, so you can feel the cooling breezes. Personally, a one piece garment would just not work for me, since I need to make potty stops when I'm out on a long run. Runner's World did a hilarious video product review which you can see here. Some cynics are speculating that Lululemon is circling the drain. In 2013, there was that see-through yoga pants debaucle and the CEO's response, in which he blamed certain sized women for the problem. BTW, a search of Ebay revealed quite a few Runsies for sale from $75-$150. Supply and demand, I guess....

Come on man!

Anything I missed? Can't we all just run?