Showing posts with label linkup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label linkup. Show all posts

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: Find A Way by Diana Nyad

While not a running book, Diana Nyad's memoir of her attempts to swim from Cuba to Key West is full of inspiration for any endurance athlete. You know how this one ends. But that's ok, because in Nyad's words, it's about the journey, not the destination. Sound familiar? We runners say that all the time! What an epic choice for this month's Taking the Long Way Home Book Club!

"This is a swimmer's Mount Everest, the great epic ocean endeavor of our blue planet."
I'm a runner, not a swimmer. Never have been, never will be. My idea of swimming is paddling around the pool on a raft or jumping from the boat to the waterski. But for Diana Nyad, swimming was her outlet. In Find A Way, Nyad shares her journey from the pools where she trained as a young girl as well as her traumatic childhood. Reading about the sexual abuse from her father and her coach was difficult. I wondered how she could overcome such horrible experiences and become so mentally tough.

Resilient. Driven. Focused. Determined. These are the words that came to my mind while I read this book.

Throughout the book, she describes her training in great detail. There were 16 hour swims. Night swims. Throughout her multiple attempts to meet her goals, some harrowing encounters with poisonous box jellyfish. In fact, the limiting factor to her achieving her goals were those box jellyfish. She invited an expert to join her team to help find a way to swim through those hazards.

I was impressed with the large number of people Diana had devoted to her dream. Besides the jellyfish expert, there were shark divers, medical experts, handlers, kayakers, navigators, so-called independent observers to verify the swim as authentic, meteorologists, support crew...the list goes on. The Xtreme Dream Team, as she called them, were pretty much intact for all 4 attempts.

What I loved about this book was the dedication and drive Diana demonstrated throughout her quest. Even after the failed attempts, she never lost sight of the ultimate goal, the Key West beach. Even when people suggested she try swimming a different route, to a different destination, she knew that she wouldn't be satisfied with that.
"The human will is far and away stronger than fear and common sense combined."
"Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to success is to try one more time."
Of course, I also loved that she refused to be limited by her age.  Diana was 62 when she reached her goal. Her training was intense. I was exhausted just reading about some of the swims. The fact that she was able to do this training 3 years in a row and attempt this swim multiple times tells the reader a lot about her spirit but also that an athlete should never be discounted because of age. Certainly, endurance sports are ideal for the aging athlete. Don't tell Diana Nyad she's too old to chase her dream!
"At sixty, in every way, including as an athlete, I am at the prime of my life."
"Don't put your assumptions of what one is supposed to feel at my age on me. I defy those suppositions of limitations. If you feel aches and pains, say so. But I don't, and I refuse to follow you or anybody else's conrolling and denigrating parameters of mediocrity."
Amen, sister!

If I have any complaint about this book at all, it was at bit tedious at times to read about Nyad's training. She describes her training swims in great detail, and sometimes I had to put the book down to absorb everything she was sharing. In her epilogue, she shares that 80% of the story is not in the book. I can't imagine the book being any more detailed than it already was. I think her editor did a nice job paring the book down to make it very readable.

For me, this book was very inspirational. Throughout the book, I kept reflecting on her drive and determination to reach the other shore. There were so many great quotes I pulled from the narrative.
"Whatever your Other Shore is, whatever you must do, whatever inspires you, you will find a way to get there."
At the end, as she's pondering her accomplishment, she comments on how the actual beach landing and achievement was kind of fuzzy to her. As she says, "in the end, it was the journey that inspired."
"So for that journey-versus-destination debate, to my mind it's all about the journey. Yes, I remember the end and the feeling of the walk up the beach still sparks euphoria. But the journey lives somewhere deeper than memory."
Isn't that the truth? Even though I've never accomplished anything nearly as grand as swimming across the Florida Straits, my dream was to run a marathon. I say it readily to people, there is no greater feeling than crossing that finish line after all that grueling training. But we learn so much about ourselves in the process of preparing for an endurance event. Finishing an endurance event is somewhat bittersweet. Sometimes it's hard for us to not sign up for another event.
"I share that same thirst to live that drama again. I do." 
What inspired you most from her story? Do you have any life dreams you want to accomplish?

Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of the post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks--it will close April 1, but the comments stay live forever! Don't forget to link back to this post, and please read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link up with us as well! Remember, sharing is caring! I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club!

Next month we are reading How Bad Do You Want it: Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald. I've heard great things about this one, and with everyone training for halfs and fulls and triathlons and oh my! the timing is right! Link up will go live Friday, April 15! And remember, you can read any fitness related book and link up your review.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Runfessions for April

It's already that time of the month! Yep, time for Marcia's monthly Runfessions. Feels like I just did one of these, but that was so 5 weeks ago. I have much to was hard to narrow it down to just 5. But since I want to link up with the Friday 5, even though this isn't their topic for the week, I tried my best. Somehow I had my own theme going with this one. Don't ask. The mind does some strange things when freed from all this guilt weighing it down...

King of the asanas: Last week, this yogi did something I never do. I'm usually all about being on your own journey, namaste, and MYOB. But a video posted by a page admin of himself going into headstand with the comment that he's adding yoga into his training regimen struck a nerve. I posted a nice (I thought) comment something along the lines of : dude, you don't start mountain climbing by scaling Mt Everest! And getting up into a headstand isn't yoga. IMHO, his post was irresponsible at worst and misinformed at best. I tried to make it nice, but clearly, he didn't appreciate my advice. He deleted my comment. And I deleted him. Out of sight, out of mind. What's wrong with downward facing dog anyways? Really, it offers so many more benefits for the runner than headstand. But what do I know?

From Saving Sarah Marshall. Pardon the swear...
King of the road: I've started running with my hands loose and middle finger at the ready. Between cars who run me off the road and other runners who don't return my greeting--you can't even nod?, and walkers who hog the path, it's nice to have this passive-aggressive weapon handy. Letting my business finger fly. Discreetly. Makes me feel better. Really, only I know that I'm doing it. Not like this woman.

I hope she feels better...

King of the castle:  I'm really not cut out for this parenting teenagers thing. As I write this, my son is standing in the kitchen, waiting for me to get up so he can sit down and eat. God forbid that he'd have to sit next to me. Yesterday I asked him what time he was starting work, and he gave me some smartass answer. He may have failed Spanish, but he has become quite fluent in assholian. I've had just about all I can take. I get to go to work after this, and I'm trying not to cry. Will not cry. Maybe I need to use my passive-aggressive technique with him (see above). I did throw his breakfast in the garbage, so there's that.

Pretty much sure my son feels this way.
King of hearts: I'm secretly crushing on a guy who works at one of the grocery stores that I frequent. It's been a few years, and my feelings haven't faded. He's cute and oh so personable. Every time I talk with him, he makes me feel like I'm 20 years old again. When he waits on another customer, I get a little jealous. I think he might be 29. I'm married. I could be his mother. It would never work. Oh well. I might be old but I'm not dead...And I'm not going to tell you where or what store because he's mine. Hands off.

King of pain: I've maybe mentioned that I love to sing while I run...but maybe I haven't talked about it in detail. I don't want you to think I'm weird or anything...I don't always sing...but when I do, I'm having a pretty awesome run. I get odd looks from passersby...especially those that can hear me. You know instead of thinking I'm nuts, why don't they ask themselves why they're not out running? Because running is fun. If I'm singing, you can chalk it up to me feeling really good.

Don't believe me, just watch! And try not sing, or at least dance to this one...
Do you sing while you run? Dance? Have any secret gestures you throw out there? Any crushes? Come on, you know you've got some things to share...

Here's the link to Marcia's Runfessions. If you haven't checked out her blog before, I suggest you head on over! Marcia's one of the first bloggers I followed.

And the link to the DC trifecta, Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia. Today's theme is top blogs I follow. I couldn't narrow it down to just 5, so I'm glad I've got my own thing happening...but head over and see what people are saying. Maybe we'll all find a few new blogs that we didn't know about!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I've always been impulsive, a fly-by-the-seat of my pants kind of gal. They say opposites attract, and I think that really must be why my husband and I are married. He's the guy who needs to plan things in advance, and needs to really consider every aspect before making a decision. Change is really hard for him. His biggest challenge is keeping my feet on the ground. When I went back to school to become a nurse practitioner, he was not happy. "You're going to ruin the family", was his response. He knew I'd been toying with that move, but it still was a spontaneous one. Luckily, that decision worked out well for all of us. Considering that I've supported the family the last 2 winters while my husband has been out of work, I don't believe that I "ruined" the family. We may be having issues with my oldest son, but I can't blame it on becoming a nurse practitioner.

Most of the time, my spontaneous decisions have worked out well. I've been told that I have good instincts, and I believe that I do. You know my motto: Trust your gut.

Last year, I decided to jump into the Chicago marathon after winning a free entry from my employer. This was 14 weeks before the date of the marathon. Most marathon training plans are at least 16 weeks long. My husband, of course, told me I didn't have to run it. But I told him that I thought it was meant to be, and that it was time for me to redeem myself from my disastrous first attempt. Becky, my coach, was on board. I had a good training base already. My training went perfectly, and the race itself could not have gone better.

One of the best days of my life!
While I wouldn't recommend jumping into a marathon without planning ahead, it isn't unheard of. Beth, at Shut Up and Run, won a free entry to the Jerusalem marathon last month with only 6 weeks to prepare. As a veteran of several marathons and 2 Ironmans, she knew what to expect of the distance, and finished respectably. But she did have all that experience and a great running base.

Last winter, I read about a free entry to the Antarctica Marathon. Heck yeah, I entered! The contest was 6 weeks before the race. I'd been running in our own polar vortex, so I figured if I won, I'd throw a few long runs into the mix. Chicago winter? Antarctica? Besides no penguins, really, is there a difference? Believe it or not, my husband was on board with this one. Of course, he'd be all toasty and warm on the ship while I was out running in the tundra. But in a heartbeat, I'd have gone. Sadly, I didn't win. But as a completely random, unrelated consolation prize, there was this picture of me featured on Another Mother Runner. I love those ladies, and this was almost as good as going to Antarctica. Because Dimity is going to answer questions for next month's book club. It's funny how things work out. Plus this picture really shows that I could run in Antarctica if I wanted to. So there's that.

Antarctica got nothin' on me...and I'm almost famous...
I've run a few half marathons, signing up at the last minute. A year and half ago, I signed up to run a Thanksgiving half marathon the week of the event. My son needed some community service hours, and he was able to fulfill that obligation by volunteering at the race. I figured since he'd be there, I'd run it too. As it turns out, this was the fastest half I'd run in several years. My previous half was 2 months before, but I had continued to run my usual mileage and was in good shape prior to the race. My friends Karen, Michelle, and Sara were running too. It was all good. Well, except I never saw my son on the race course. I know he was there, but I ran right by him. So he says.

My beautiful friend Karen and me
For a nervous nelly like myself, the good thing about being spontaneous is that I don't agonize over a decision. When I signed up to run Chicago the first time, that was in January, and I had all that time get myself worked up into a lather. With last year's marathon, I didn't have a chance to get nervous. I jumped right into training, did the work, and was excited about my gains.

It's a little different this year. As running continues to become more popular, races are selling out faster than ever. I haven't planned the rest of my race calendar because I'm waiting to see if I got an entry to the Chicago marathon. I'm not really optimistic, since 70,000 people entered the lottery this year. Seriously! Hello, I'm a native Chicagoan. Doesn't that mean anything?

There are other options on my backup list, but I have my heart set on another Chicago marathon. Will the other options sell out while I wait for my lottery decision? I could always run Chicago as a charity runner. I could. I did that the first time. But I really hate the idea of hitting up my friends and family again. So if I don't get in, that might be a sign that I need to pick a different race. I'll let my gut tell me what to do.

So for this runner, it becomes more difficult to be spontaneous. The half I'm running in May? Sold out in March. I already signed up to run Sarasota next year, but that's because the race director let me defer. Sarasota is another race that sells out. I've never planned this far ahead, but hey, it's Florida. I want to do another half this summer, but as I wait to see what marathon falls onto my race calendar, will my options for half marathons narrow? Can I still be spontaneous? If I stick to smaller local races, yes. Seems like it's still my best bet for success. Stay tuned.

Are you a planner? Or a fly by the seat kind of gal/guy? What would you do if you were me, and didn't get in to Chicago? Charity? Or find a new race? Oh, the agony...

I'm linking up with DebRuns at Wednesday Words! Spontaneous is the word of the day. What say you?

And my ladies Diatta and Sheila at Workout Wednesday! Be sure to head over and see what the other bloggers have to say!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The ego

Today, I had a really tough run. I had my last long run, 12 miles, on my half marathon training plan. Most of my runs have been fast and comfortable lately, and I didn't expect this one to be any different. I've run this distance many times, and wasn't feeling particularly nervous about it. But the universe has a way of balancing everything out, and I was schooled today in pushing myself hard. This run started out tough and never got easier. Lack of sleep and a little tummy troubles didn't help, either. My last half marathon, a month ago, was run with an average pace of 8:34 min/mile, and while I didn't expect to run this long run at that pace, I hoped for sub-9. I got that, but it was tough.

Humbling, in fact.

When I grew up, my mom always said never to get "too comfortable" with how things were going. One day you're up, and the next day, the rug comes out from under you. That can apply to the road as well. I think you have to be willing to accept your shortcomings as well as your bad days to really appreciate when things are going well. Everything does tend to even out, right?

Seinfeld "Even Steven"
You do have to keep your ego in check. Because if you push too hard, you're going to get hurt. Actually, every yoga teacher I have taken a class with has said: "Check your ego at the door." There's so much wisdom imparted at yoga class, but this is my favorite. It is such a great reminder that we're all students, and that we're always learning. Whether its at a job or on the road, we should have our minds open and willing to accept ourselves where we are at, at that point in time. Not every day is going to be good. Not every run is going to be easy. Some days, we just won't be able to hold a balance pose. Last week I was talking with a woman who hurt herself at CrossFit. She took some time off to train for a marathon, and when she went back to the gym, she started lifting weights she was lifting at her peak. Hurt her back, and she can't do anything right now. Her comment to me? "I let my ego get in the way."

A while ago, I wrote a post about finding the right coach. One of my friends reminded me in a very insightful comment that you have to be willing to put your ego aside and allow yourself to be coached. This is great advice. After this post, some people commented that they know enough to coach themselves. While I don't doubt that, an objective outsider may see something you might be missing. Let's face it, it's hard to be objective about ourselves. In working with Becky, I've been humbled many times--and it can be a little uncomfortable. When she was teaching me how to "clean" a bar (not what you're thinking), I was mortified at my lack of coordination. Truth be told, I felt stupid. But I was willing to laugh at myself--why not, she was! Eventually, I did get the mechanics of that move. By learning how to do that and other new activities, I've become stronger in the gym and faster on the road. But I had to be willing to put my ego aside.

Putting your ego aside is not easy for anyone. Especially in the world of distance running. I see this on my Facebook feed a lot. One of my favorite sayings is that we are all on our own journey, but when you are constantly seeing posts about people running faster than you or farther than you, it starts to make you question yourself. Am I a real runner? Why am I not faster? Playing the comparison game is a trap that is easy to fall into through social media, and I'm not immune to that either. I've got a few friends running ultras this year, and the race they've chosen sounds like fun. Lucky for me, they've included me in plans for training runs, and I'll go run a portion of the ultra with them. I have to remind myself that my body can't stand up to the grueling distance, and besides, I'm working on a different goal--a sub 4 marathon. Plus, I really have no desire to run farther than 26.2. Still, I can't help but feel a little tug that I should be running an ultra too. After all isn't the ultra the new marathon? I just read that somewhere.


The ego can get in the way of relationships too. I've heard stories about running friendships becoming too competitive, and eventually ending. Guess it's a good thing I train alone! I'd sure hate to lose a good friend because of running. Years ago, I lost a friend because of competition between our boys. Trust me, it wasn't me who was having the issue. Boy, did that one hurt.

Interestingly, I've had this issue with my sister, the one I'm so close with. She gets really uncomfortable when I talk about running, in fact, last year she pretty much told me not to talk about running at all. Because running is so important to me, it really bothered me a lot. I had to step back and think about this for a long time before I came to the realization that this wasn't about me at all. It was about my sister's ego, and how much my success at running made her feel inadequate. I don't know how things are in your family, but my sister is supercompetitive, and has to be the best at everything. Growing up, I was always the one she could best in most things, and it still plays out, even in adulthood. Since I love my sister and every other aspect of our relationship is good, I just roll with it.

In spite of the problems it can cause, the ego isn't all bad.

Today, my ego wouldn't let me quit. While I tried to keep my thoughts positive, I couldn't help but chastise myself at times for feeling so crummy. I analyzed what I had eaten the last couple of days. Sipped my Tailwind and waited for the magic to happen. Tailwind isn't a magic potion, but it gave me the energy I was lacking to push hard on today's run. Mentally, I needed this run, and I worked for every mile I ran today. I don't think that's a bad thing. I ran hard and I ran uncomfortable. My training with Becky has taught me to do that. And finished with a time I could be proud off. Miles are miles, after all. After today, I know that I'm ready to run that half no matter how I feel.

What would you have done? Would have have called it a day and stopped? Pushed through? Have you lost a friend over competition? 

I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head over to her blog to check out all the other posts. And don't forget to link up with me for the Taking the Long Way Home book club!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


When I run, I run by myself. This is how it has been for many years. Some people don't get it. Over the years, I've had many offers from people wanting to run with me. I shared one story with Dimity and Sarah at Another Mother Runner about a neighbor man jumping in on my runs. I finally had to break it to him that I wasn't looking for someone to run with. It felt like a break up. When I told him that I like to run alone, he looked at me like I was crazy. And he looked hurt.

He's not the only person who has had this reaction. Another neighbor (another man, am I sending out the wrong message?) wanted to train for a half marathon with me. I told him that I would drive with him to the race, but that my training would be solo. Guess who didn't run the race?

Why is this so hard for people to understand? I actually enjoy my long, solo runs. When I run, it's just me, my music, my thoughts, and the road. My marathon training last year was completely solo. This included all my long runs. I had no problem motivating myself to head out the door to run that 18 miler (my longest run). I was looking forward to it.

Solo run along the water in Florida
I'm rarely alone. Even as I write this, my youngest son is on the couch, home from school today with a back injury from gymnastics. My husband was off work this past winter and when he finally returned to his job, I savored the solitude at home. I wandered from room to room, just taking in the quiet. There was no one asking me to find a lost item. No one asking what my plans were for the day.

Don't get me wrong. I love my family. And I'm not anti-social. My days are full.  Full of people, full of activity, full of noise. My job is in a busy clinic where we have 25 exam rooms and patients come and go. The hallways are filled with noisy children and crying babies. My home is in a highly congested suburban area of Chicago. The town borders overlap. One ends and another begins. There's a busy highway 2 blocks from my house and the noise from the road never ceases. The roads are packed with cars. Everyone is in a hurry. The stores are crowded. Airplanes fly overhead with increasing frequency and noise. Sometimes life here feels like an assault on the senses.

But there is green space here in the middle of suburbia and that is where I take my runs. The Forest Preserves, with their paths, are a place to find solitude in the middle of chaos. I ride my bike there, and I take my long runs there. Safety is an issue, as you might expect, but I try to go when there are people around. As I run through the woods, I take in the sights and sounds of nature around me, observe the seasonal changes and feel myself relax.

And when I get to take my runs to a less crowded place it is pure heaven for me.


I'm linking this post to a new link up on DebRuns! Every week she is going to feature a word for bloggers to write about. This was a great choice for the first week. I'm looking forward to this!

Deb Runs

I'm also linking up with the ladies, Diatta and Sheila, at Workout Wednesdays! Be sure to head over and see what everyone else has to say!

Femme Fitale Fit Club

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

No time to train?

"I'm too busy to workout". 
"I don't have time to workout". 
"I don't have time to train for a marathon..a half marathon..." 

Everyone has an excuse why they can't workout, why they can't run. Marathon training? Ain't nobody got time for that...

Actually, yes some of us do...actually all of us's all about priorities.

Finding time to run and to train for a race is all about priorities. 20 years ago, I started running to fight depression and anxiety. Running got me through some tough times. It still does. I'm afraid to stop. In fact, running is part of who I am. I can't imagine life without running.

I get asked all the time how I find time to run. In the past 5 years, I've trained for 11 half marathons (currently training for #12) and 2 full marathons. I also work full time and am the married mother of 2 teenage boys.

Wouldn't it be nice to have nothing to do during the day but workout and blog? That would be my dream life. That, and living at the beach. Sadly, I have to pay the bills.

I like to race too. Racing is a great way to check in with my progress, to push myself, to set goals and achieve them. I won't sugarcoat it, marathon training is time consuming, but as a busy working mom, I'm proof that not only can you do it, you can do it well. And it is definitely worth the effort. That feeling of accomplishment carries itself off the road and into your everyday life. Just ask any busy mother runner.

Oh wait...I did!

The tribe: Michelle, Sara, Me, Penny, and Karen
I called on my #tribe to contribute to this post. We are 5 busy moms and among us we have all run multiple marathons. 3 have completed ultras. 4 of us also have running blogs! And on top of it all, we find time to get together for some much needed #tribe time. I love these ladies. They make me better. And that's the truth.
Here's their advice:

Sara aka Cheesy Runner Mom: I find time to train for a marathon as a mother of young children by making my training as invisible as possible to my family. I do this by waking up early and logging miles on the treadmill prior to waking up my kids for school, and logging any outside weekday miles on the three mornings per week my youngest is in preschool. My only "visible" training is on one weekend morning per week, where I log a long run or run a race. My husband is willing to drive carpool and hold down the home front for a few hours, because it doesn't impact his life the rest of the week. I am always conscious of how my training affects my family, and with these compromises, I have found both harmony on the home front and success in meeting my training obligations.

Karen aka Trading in My Heels: When I start training for a marathon or ultra, I sit down and discuss it with my family. You must be willing to be somewhat selfish with your training. This means being gone for 3-4 days a week and up to 4 hours during long training runs. I need to make sure my kids are ok with this before I can commit to training for an endurance distance.

Penny formerly known as 26.yikes: Extend the same level of commitment you give to your family, work, friends to yourself and your training. That means even when you don't feel like going for your schedule training run, you do it anyway. How many times as a mom have you felt like you couldn't nurture a minute more, but you do it anyway? Yes, that. Do that in training and you will succeed.

Michelle aka This Momma Runs: Ultimately you have to want to make the time for yourself and your training even if the timing isn't perfect. It's a commitment that impacts everyone around me. Since my husband also trains we spend a lot of time working on our "schedule". It changes every week as we try to not impact our children and their commitments. The majority of my runs and swims are done after my daughters go to sleep. I want to be there to tuck them in, so I prioritize my time. I don't love running at 9 pm or even later, but for right now that's what works for our lives so that's what I do.

And me: Make your training as much of a priority as you do your family and your job. When my boys were little, I used to get up and run at 430 am to get it done before my husband had to leave for work at 6. Sure, it was me, the newspaper delivery people, and the skunks. Now, I'll still get up before the sun if I have a long run on the plan and I have to work. On the weekends, I get up early to get my long runs in before everyone gets up so I don't interfere with any family activities. Yep, sometimes you have to go to bed early. Sometimes you don't get a full 8 hours of sleep. Plan ahead. Lay out your running clothes the night before. My coffee is in the pot and ready to brew for the morning. Be stronger than your excuses.

This is your pep talk! You can do this!

How do you find time to run? To train?

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run: MCM mama, Run the Great Wide Somewhere, and My No Guilt Life. This is a great topic and I'm sure the other bloggers have some good advice...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Running happy

Today was the day that showed me spring has officially arrived. Not just because it's opening day at Wrigley Field! One week ago, we left sunny Florida, where it was in the 80s, and landed at O'Hare airport in 33 degrees and sleet. Hello Chicago! The weather improved over the course of the week, thankfully. Springtime in the midwest is really fickle. But today on my run, I saw a lot of the changes that come with spring. Better days are ahead. They have to be.

I put on my most Eastery shirt (Swirlgear) and I headed out the door to run my 10 miler. The sun was shining and the temperature was 50 degrees. As my first "official" spring long run, I decided to take it to the bike path, where I do so much of my training. During the winter, the park district plows part of the path, but most of it is left snow covered. I have to be creative and find alternative routes to get my miles in. Lots of those miles are on the road, and we all know that isn't optimal.

Today I knew my path would be clear. I was excited to run it. The round trip distance from my house to the end of the path and back is about 10.5 miles. The parts that are the prettiest are also the most wooded and isolated. I went early, figuring that I'd be alone on the path. Surprisingly, I saw a lot of other runners and some bikers too. There's safety in numbers, and so I was able to relax the entire route.

As I ran along the first of several retention ponds I pass along this path, I was struck by the way the sun was hitting the water. The water was calm, and there were several loons swimming, making a wake in the water. It was very peaceful, and very beautiful. But this pond does serve a purpose, as you can see by the big drain pipe in the forefront of the picture. Behind me is a creek, which meanders along the length of the path. The creek floods easily when there are big storms. This pipe runs under the path and helps keep the creek from overflowing its banks. Sometimes it works.

And altho you really can't see it in this picture, at the far end of this pond is a major highway. Ah. Suburbia.

While I'm really grateful to have this peaceful place to run, the majority of the path is under these high tension wires. I think it's a great idea to use this green space for a fitness path (hello, Arlington Heights? Can we do that too?). But I wonder if there are any ill effects from being in such close proximity to this high voltage. Maybe that's where I get all my energy from?

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles....oh yeah...
I stopped to say hi to the smiling tree! Actually, when I stopped for this picture, I had a message on my phone from my one of my #tribe wishing all of us a Happy Easter! I sent them this shot, and continued on my run, catching up with them after I finished. That message sure put a smile on my face and a spring in my step!

Doesn't this shirt look like it was dyed with Easter egg colors? I just love it. 

I saw a lot of fat robins pulling worms out of the ground. Squirrels and chipmunks playing. And I noticed that the grass is turning green...

Me and my shadow! I look so tall...

Even though the path is mostly flat, there are some really steep hills. One of them almost took my breath away as I chugged up to the top. The reward is that on the way back, I'm able to fly down. When I'm on my bike, it's almost scary! At the bottom of the hill is a bridge across the creek. I stopped to take a picture and was interrupted by a man walking with his toddler and dog. I asked him to take this picture. He seemed to think it was weird, even though I explained to him that I needed it for my running blog. Must not be a runner...

Another pond, just around the bend...3 weeks ago I was here was on my bike and the pond was completely frozen over.

I saw a lot of these guys! I expect to see ducklings in a few weeks.

Outta my way!

And finally, the true sign that spring is officially here--the portapotties are back! And bigger than ever...

And I didn't even have to use it!

Today's stats:
10.43 miles
8:39 mins/mile
Definitely started off slow, but love those negative splits on the back half!

Has spring sprung where you are? What signs of spring put a smile on your face? How do you celebrate your first official spring run of the season?


I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to check out her blog and all the other blogs too!

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!