Monday, November 17, 2014

Trying to outrun Mother Nature

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I believe that maybe, just maybe, we are subject to some of the most extreme weather conditions in the US. Our temperature extremes go from 100F and 90% humidity in the summer to -20F and deep snow in the winter. We have a motto here: if you don't like the weather, wait because it will change. The possibility exists that you might experience all 4 seasons in one day! There's no rhyme or reason to our weather. This past summer, for example, our average high was below normal. For me, training for the Chicago marathon, the weather was perfect! But for heat seeking Chicagoans, it was kind of cool. We can have warm winters, too, with minimal snow. Or we can have a polar vortex, like we did last winter, with over 70 inches of snow and extremely cold temperatures. Makes life interesting, and difficult to plan for anything.

Including training for races. I run outside all year long and have become a bit of a weather junkie. I have a bunch of different weather apps on my phone. The week before a race, I check them frequently, as if I have any control over race day conditions. knew what they were doing when they developed an app just for us "outdoor activity enthusiasts". OutSider, available only for iPhone, uses RunWeather technology developed by the scientists at The app, which is programmable, analyzes your local conditions to predict your exertion level. There are also other features that are similar to any other running app. But for a weather fanatic like myself, this is a fun, great app. But even having all this information in the palm of my hand doesn't give me any control over the conditions on race day! And no matter how much planning a runner can do for extreme race day conditions, you still have to show up and do the work.

A few years ago, I made a plan to run a spring 10 miler, the CARA 10 miler. The kick off to race season, this race is put on by our local running association, and it is a great race, with a fun after party. April weather in Chicago is a dicey proposition. The morning of the race, the temperature was 40 degrees and it was raining. Pouring rain. I like to run in the rain as much as the next person, but for 10 miles? Along the windy, Chicago lakefront? It was miserable, but I do run well in cool conditions, and I finished in 1:29 and skipped the post race festivities, heading home. The entire ride home, which took about an hour, I had the heat blasting in my car. I couldn't feel my fingers and toes. I think it took me 2 weeks to warm back up after that. 

CARA 10 miler, 2011. Looking really cold. 

I ran a half marathon that summer in Madison, Wisconsin, where the start was delayed by 1 1/2 hours due to a thunderstorm. When we were finally allowed to start, it was still pouring rain. We ran down State Street, and up towards the State Capitol building, dodging puddles the entire time. Eventually, the rain stopped, the sun came out, but my shoes and clothing were soaked for the entire race. And because of the late start, my fueling got completely thrown off. Somehow, I managed a sub 2 hour finish on that one! But can you say chafing? Wet clothes + 13.1 miles = extreme chafing....

Madison Mini Marathon, 2011. Start delayed by 1.5h due to t-storm. Look at how wet my shorts are. And those safety pins left rust stains on my top. And so happy to be done.
That fall, I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon, my first ever marathon. Extremely nervous, I headed to the start line. The temperature was already 70 degrees. As well prepared as I was for this race, knowing that I don't do well in the heat, my nerves got the best of me. By mile 14, I was cramping. The temperature was in the 80s. At mile 18, in tears, I called my husband to come and get me. Of course, he refused. I ended up walking the majority of the last 6 miles. I was so disappointed. 

Chicago Marathon, 2011. Always smile for the camera, no matter how bad you feel. This is at mile 23.
Can I blame my poor performance on the bad weather? Maybe. While I was writing this post, I found it interesting that many of my "extreme" racing conditions occurred in 2011. Some years are like that.

Can you stand one more bad race condition story? Last spring, I ran a half marathon in Florida. This was after our polar vortex winter. I ran outside all winter in extreme cold and snow. The day of my half was 75 degrees and 90% humidity. There was no way for me to train for this, and I paid the price. It was a tough race. I did a lot more walking than I like. But I crossed the finish line. This time I had no one to blame but Mother Nature. Even the local runners were complaining about the conditions, which were extreme for March.

Florida Halfathon, Fort De Soto State Park, March 2014
We runners control for so many factors-our fuel, our pace, our clothing, but the one thing we have no control over is the weather. How do you train for such unpredictable weather conditions? Is it possible? Is it mental? And if I had to choose, I don't know which is worse-extreme cold, pouring rain, high humidity, or heat. I've run in them all. There's just no predicting the weather. I still sign up, knowing that the weather conditions are merely a roll of the dice, and hope for the best. No matter what, I show up. Because a DNS due to weather is just not acceptable for this runner. 

Can I overcome my inability to run in extreme conditions? Especially the heat? I'd love to pull off consistent finish times, no matter what the conditions. It's a goal for 2015. Stay tuned.

Tuesdays on the Run

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Feeling safe on the run

Today one of my friends forwarded an article from the Chicago Tribune. The headline read: Woman attacked while jogging. I read the story and was shocked to learn that the incident happened last night, at 5 pm, at the very retention pond where I do a great deal of my training. As a matter of fact, I ran there last weekend:
Part of my long run at the retention pond
and was planning on another run there tomorrow. This isn't the first time that someone has been attacked there. Last fall, there were 2 separate incidents. All 3 victims were female "joggers" and the police think that the attacker is the same man. Luckily for the victims, in all 3 incidents, they were able to get away. Police gave the usual advice: be aware of your surroundings, don't run with headphones in, don't run alone, and don't run after dark. 

I've had a few incidents while running over the years. One was at this park, a few years ago. I was running on a weekday morning, in the winter, and the path was pretty empty of people. I like to run there in the winter because the park district plows the path, and I don't have to run in the streets. There are heated bathrooms there too. But on that day, I saw a weird looking guy walking on the path. I didn't pay too much attention to him, did my laps, and headed towards home. As I ran through the nearby neighborhood, I passed the guy again, and he grabbed my shoulder. I shook him off and screamed at him to get away from him. I ran away to a nearby school, and they called the police for me. The police asked me for a description of him, and the one thing I remembered about the guy is that he had really big teeth. Meanwhile, the policeman scolded me about wearing headphones while I ran, and offered to drive me home. He made me sit in the backseat of his police car, which was really weird. Have you ever been in a police car? It was my first time, and the seat is hard plastic, really uncomfortable. He dropped me off at home, and gave me his card, telling me to call him if I remembered anything else. A few hours later he called me to tell me that they found the guy. Guess my description of the big teeth helped. Turns out it was a developmentally disabled resident of a nearby group home who wandered off and was lost. The policeman really downplayed the incident at that point. I was a little upset about that. How do they know he wasn't violent? I was even more upset when my kids came home with a "stranger danger" letter from school describing the incident. The letter portrayed me, the "jogger" as irresponsible and unaware of my surroundings because I was wearing headphones. Was that necessary?

Apparently it is a big deal. Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) lists as their #1 safety tip: Don't wear headphones. I do tend to zone out into my music. To be aware is to be safe. 

And yes, this picture is a rerun from a previous blog post.
I also had people ask me if I carry mace. Let me ask you: do you think you would be able to react fast enough to pull out your mace and spray it if someone grabbed you? Would you feel comfortable carrying it the entire time you run? What if it is windy and you sprayed it at your attacker but the wind blew it back in your face? So no, I don't carry mace. And I've read a few threads on FB about carrying a gun on the run. That is not for me and I don't want to go there. If you choose to do that, I won't judge you. But I feel the same about that as I do about the mace. If you are packing heat, you better be prepared to use it. Because the perpetrator could use it on you. If you talk to any police about this, that is what they will tell you as well.

Comes in pink for women joggers
Carrying a whistle or something that makes a loud noise would be a good idea. Just don't wear the whistle around your neck.

I do recommend learning some self defense moves. I took a self defense class years ago and was amazed at how effective they were when I practiced them on my 200 pound spouse. I think I need a refresher course. Runners World posted a video last spring and it looks pretty helpful: 

Another safety tip is carrying your phone, which I do. Did you know that even if your phone has a locked screen, your ICE (in case of emergency info) can be accessed via your home screen? You have to set it up. Here are the links, step by step for the iPhone and the Android operating systems.

Even if you run with your phone, carry ID. Road ID makes a variety of wearable ID tags. Writing this post reminds me that I need to order one. I like the one that I put on my shoe.

There are also a couple of apps you can use on the run to help keep you safe. Road ID, an app that I have installed on my phone, has some pretty nifty features. It has "ecrumbs" which allows your loved one to track your route so they know where you are; a stationary alert, which will alert your loved one if you are standing still for more than 5 minutes; and a lock screen feature similar to what I described above. I haven't been using this app, but I plan on it now. Other apps, which I am less familiar with include Kitestring, which sends you a text message at a designated time. If you don't respond, the app calls your contact to alert them. bSafe turns your phone into an alarm and calls 911 if you are able to activate a button. The app also has a nifty feature called "Fake Call", which really wouldn't help you much on the run, but if you are on a date and need a rescue call, you can set that up. There really is an app for everything! ReactMobile is similar to bSafe without the Fake Call feature. These apps are available on both iPhone and Android platforms.

Even if you use these apps, tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. On the weekends, I tell my husband where I'm running. If I'm not back within the time frame I tell him, he calls me.

RRCA recommends varying your route. I had a running stalker once, a neighborhood dad who used to wait for me at the end of his driveway and jump in on my run. He told me he always knew when I was coming by. That really creeped me out, and I put an end to our runs together in no time. But I learned a valuable lesson, too. When I run my neighborhood 6 mile loop, I now usually reverse the route on alternating run days. I don't usually run at the same time most days, because I have to plan my runs around my work schedule. I also run to different places-the retention pond, the bike path, and that forest preserve. Just to mix it up. And to discourage any other would be stalkers.

RRCA suggests running with a partner or a dog. I could have had a partner (see the paragraph above) but I like to run alone. Running with a dog would be nice, but my cocker spaniel is 11 years old. She also likes to pull on the leash. I don't think she's the right partner for me.

My dog does this!
Then there are the common sense safety tips: avoid running in desolate or dark places. Ignore verbal harassments. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust your instinct. Memorize details of cars and people that seem off to you. Don't stop to give directions to people in cars if you are alone. People ask me for directions all the time, which I don't quite understand. But think twice about doing this.

Bottom line: Be safe. Use common sense. Don't let anyone take your running away from you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maybe her pants were on fire?

Looks like we have a new inductee to my Great Liars in Running Hall of Fame! If you've been following me for a while, you may remember my post from last spring, where I wrote about the jerks who copied a woman's Boston marathon bib and raced in it, taking medals and all the glory that goes with running the Boston marathon. I also found a few other well qualified recipients for my Hall of Fame award. You can chase the link above to read more about them. Rosie Ruiz, anyone?

Let's learn a little about our newest inductee. In case you haven't heard, yep, Tabitha Hamilton, 31, of Trenton Georgia, ran the Chickamauga Marathon last weekend. In 2:54:51. Wow! Amazing finish time, right? The interesting thing is that she ran the first half in 2:00:06, but found tremendous speed and ran the second half in 54 minutes. Talk about negative splits! Wow! A finish a runner could only dream about, right?

Maybe that was her motivation?
Speedy finish aside, the most interesting thing about all this is that her past races don't fit with this 5:54 min/mi pace in the second half of the race. Her most recent half marathon was run 2:19. A recent 15k was run in 1:42. A previous attempt at this race in 2011 shows a finish time in 4:42. She ran another marathon last year in over 6 hours. Yet, she maintains she ran this race and won fair and square.

Ok, I get that. I myself have been running much faster than I have in the past. I finished this year's Chicago marathon a full 1 hour and 10 minutes faster than I did 3 years ago. Of course, my finish time this year was 4:17. Nowhere near medal contention. And considering my half marathon finish times of 1:58-2:16 over the past year, this year's marathon finish time was what you might expect from me. So I've got that going for me. Whew! No one will be examining my finish times.

So, Tabitha, girlfriend. Let's talk. How do you explain going from 9-ish min/mi to 5:54 min/mi? After running 13.1 miles? And maintaining that pace for 13.1 miles? Was it your training? Some magic fuel that you'd like to hip us to? I'd love to know. I bet a lot of us would love to know. Truly amazing and what a great athletic feat! My finish times are faster than yours, so if you share your secret with me, just think what I could do at my next marathon! Come on, spill it, sister!

But let's just say, for the sake of discussion, that you didn't really run this fast. That missed a turn and the race course was a little shorter than you might think. I was spectating at a race last spring and saw the first runner come in...but she was running pretty slow. Didn't exactly look like an elite runner. I'm pretty sure she wasn't actually the winner. I'm pretty sure she took a wrong turn. Pretty sure she was disqualified. Like you.

Still not going to back down? You know that you didn't really win this thing, right? How do you look yourself in the mirror? How did you really feel when you broke the tape? Victorious? A little guilty? How did you take that medal? You know that it belongs to someone else, right? Why won't you just admit it? Seriously. We all know something went wrong. Time to come clean and save face. Stop defending yourself. Really. It's making us embarrassed for you. Angry at you.

As I have said before, and I'll say it again...runners are by and large an honest group. We are notoriously compulsive about our training. For example, so many times I've seen my friends, who have a 20 miler on the schedule but want to run a half, agonize over what to do. Asking themselves, do I just run the half and skip the last 7 miles? And what do they do? They work it out to get that 20 miles in. We try to run the tangents so we don't run farther than the actual race distance. But when we do? We move on. We runners take pride in our honest accomplishments. We don't cheat ourselves. And we sure don't cheat at a race.

You, Tabitha, are not a runner. You are not a cheetah. You are a cheater. And we all know it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What do you think about when you run?

Today, I was reading my friend Marcia's blog post and decided to link up Jill and Jessica  (aka The Fit Dish) for this one...because my runs are always so reflective! People who follow me know that my blog is personal, really, an online diary. And that's because they are a direct reflection of things I think about when I run. Sometimes, I don't think about much. Sometimes, I just run.

Today I ran 6 miles. I wanted to get it in before the cold front blew in, ushering in Polar Vortex v2.0. It was a gloomy morning, and I put on a bright orange shirt. I don't know about you, but dressing in bright colors just makes me feel better. It was 52 degrees and even though the weatherman said the temperature was going to drop, I put on capris, figuring it was probably the last time I'd wear those for a while!

I headed down the frontage road into the gray, gloomy morning. The pavement and sidewalk were still dry, and I felt LUCKY that I dodged the rain.

My first mile felt tough. As I turned down the sidewalk along the busy suburban arterial road, my legs started to loosen up and I began to fly. I felt GRATEFUL for my renewed speed.

I headed back into my neighborhood and ran on the streets. I approached another runner and felt COMPETITIVE as I passed her. I hate that, but I can't help myself. Do other runners do this? I also WONDERED who she was. Don't all runners know each other? Apparently not...

As I headed up a big hill, I felt my glutes kick in and literally push me up the hill without any extra effort. I felt AMAZED at this. I sent a silent thank you to Becky, my trainer, too.

I was now running into the wind. Ooooh...I felt COLD as the wind whipped through me. I'm so not ready for winter! Are we ever?

Moving into mile 3, one of my favorite running songs came on. I started to sing and felt JOYFUL because my laryngitis was gone. Of course I looked around to see if anyone was around who could hear me. Because I don't want to be known as the crazy lady who sings when she runs.

Running along another busy suburban arterial, I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and felt CLUMSY as I regained my stride and balance. Whew! Didn't fall! RELIEF!

My watch beeped at mile 4 and I saw an 8:17 min/mile pace! Woo hoo! I felt FAST!

Then I ran back into the wind. Ugh. Cold. I hate this. Brrrr. The wind made me push hard. I felt SLOW!

I ran down my friend's street. Passed her house. I've called her multiple times to meet for lunch, and she keeps giving me excuses why she can't get together. Is it me? I felt SAD. I kept moving and ran up the little hill, past the woman who used to watch my boys when they were little. I saw parents dropping off their little ones. I wondered how she's doing. She's a grandma now! I felt NOSTALGIC.

Finally, heading home. I saw the guy who walks his old dog. He was moving oh, so slow. And waved. He's always out there, year round, when I run. I wondered what he thinks when he sees me. We have never talked, but we always wave. That made me feel a little FUNNY.

When I got home, I checked my time. It was a fast run. 6.18 miles, 52:34 mins. I was SHOCKED and PLEASED. I felt ACCOMPLISHED.

And I made my own sunshine. What a great way to start the day!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Who's old?

Two years ago, I turned 50 years old. It was my most difficult birthday. I had so much trouble getting my head around being 50. When I talked about it with my friends, everyone told me to get over it. "You have no choice," I was told. "Time marches on" and "it's better than the alternative", which of course is true. I also heard this one a lot: "Age is just a number". Sure it is. A big number when you are 50.

When you think of someone who is 50, what image comes to mind? An aging, post-menopausal woman with chin hairs, a hunched posture, about 30 extra pounds, and bifocals? Ok, well I do have the bifocals, sadly...the vision changes make it harder to find the chin hairs too...

While my friends were all having 50th birthday parties, I didn't want to celebrate. I wanted to turn the clock back. So my sister Lisa, who is a year younger than me, and I decided to start our now annual tradition of sister birthday trips. That year, we took our inaugural voyage to Naples Florida. We had an amazing time. No kids, no work, no worries. We ate decadent meals. Spent our days at the pool in the sunshine. Walked on the beach. And I realized that maybe, just maybe getting older could be ok. Since then we've been to Las Vegas and Charleston, South Carolina. Who better to commiserate with than your sister? Except that she tells everyone that I'm older than her...

From our first sister trip to Naples, Florida
Anyways. I still couldn't get used to saying my age out loud. "I'm in my 50s", I kept telling people after I turned 51. But over time, I started noticing some things that put me in a more positive mindset about life in the 50s. Mostly to do with physical fitness and running. First of all, the number of women in my age group, 50-54, has dropped significantly. Of course, this means that some of the women my age who are still racing are blazingly fast. But overall, there are less "older" women running, which gives me a little confidence because I still am running! I continue to run in the top 20% of my age group, which I always have, since my 30s. That hasn't changed. Of course, there was that AG placement in the local 10k this summer! Small race, tho, but still! I'm also running as fast as some of my friends who are in their 30s and 40s.

And then there is that Chicago marathon. I'm still so proud of that race, still basking in my run. With a smart training plan, which involved a lot of cross training, intervals, and low mileage, I was able to run the marathon with fresh legs and gas in the tank for my recovery. One month later, I'd say recovery is over, and I'm still running well. Today I ran an 8 miler at a 8:34min/mile pace. I have never run 8 miles this fast. Ever.

8 miles at the retention pond. Maybe my legs just like to run fast there?

Stunned. And asking myself the question, who's old?

If you are interested in training into old age, read anything by Joel Friel. Friel, a triathlete and former coach, has done a lot of research on the subject, and says that while athletes may experience a decline in performance starting in their 50s, they don't have to. Basically, we have to train smarter, not harder. Mistakes that we made as younger athletes, for example, lack of sleep or a bad diet, are not as easy to adapt to for the older athlete. He recommends a lot of HIIT (high intensity interval training) to help maintain aerobic capacity. Lifting weights is something that the older athlete needs to add in to the routine. Muscle mass is lost at a faster rate than when we were younger. Strength training should also help with bone density, and will protect the joints. Adequate sleep and rest is very important. As is good nutrition. Friel follows a Paleo diet, but he advocates carbs and protein for recovery after an intense workout. He writes a blog, which if you chase the link above, with evidence based advice for endurance athletes of all ages.
She set a world record! Way to go!

As most of you know, this year, I started working with a CrossFit coach. I was experiencing a lot of nagging injuries, many accumulated from 20+ years of running. Coincidently, I was also experiencing some slowing in my running. Heat intolerance, which had always been an issue for me, seemed to be getting worse. I can honestly say since working with Becky, my coach, a lot of these issues have resolved for me. I still have that nagging toe injury, a result of arthritis in the joint. Not much I can do about that. But I've learned to live with it and run with it. For me, the biggest and best thing about my cross-training is that I've gotten my speed back. I am running stronger than I ever have in my life.

And so this morning, on my speedy 8 miler, I had a epiphany. Yep, I'm 52. But you know what? I'm ok with it now. I'm so thrilled with where I'm at, physically. And one huge advantage of being older is that I have all this life experience to draw on. I'm more confident and that comes from all that life experience. But that confidence is solidified by what I can do as an older athlete.

For now, I can agree with that statement that age is just a number. I don't feel old. I feel strong.

That could be the limiting factor!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cold weather running=beast running

Since I'm home sick today, on the couch, looking outside wishing I could run, I figured why not join in the link up and write about cold weather running. After all, I run outside all year round! I have an ancient treadmill, which I rarely use, unless conditions are so icy that I risk slipping and falling. I actually enjoy running outside in the winter for several reasons. And just to be clear, I don't like winter or cold weather one bit. But getting outside and knocking off the miles in the winter makes me feel more badass than any other time I run. Take that winter! Plus, breathing the fresh air and getting some natural light helps keep SAD (seasonal affective disorder) at bay. When people learn that I run outside in the winter, the number one comment I get is "you're crazy". Well, I'm a runner. That's a given. The other comment is, "I don't know how to dress for the cold". Well, here's your guide. Having run through many winters, including last winter's polar vortex, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on running in the cold.


I read once somewhere that you should dress for 10 degrees warmer than it actually is. This is really just a guide, and it is a good place to start. Now, if it's 0F, there isn't much difference dressing for 10F. It's all COLD! But check the weather conditions. If there's wind, there's wind chill, and you have to plan for that. If the sun is out, then you'll be a little warmer than you might if its' cloudy. And it's always better to underdress than to overdress. You will heat up as you start to run. You will sweat.

Hell, yeah, I'm cold! This is the bike path where I trained all summer!

I start with a long bra top and cover that with a wicking shirt. Over that goes another shirt, usually with thumbholes. If it's really cold, I might wear my fleece vest over that. On the bottom, I wear tights. For really cold conditions, I have fleece lined tights. I also have "windproof" tights I ordered from Athleta last year. They don't move as well as my regular tights, but if it is cold enough that I need to wear them, then I'm not moving that well either! On my feet go the smartwool socks, length again depending on the conditions. And then my shoes.

Now if it is snowy or has snowed over night, I usually will wear my shoes with YakTrax. These are coils that you slip over the soles of your shoes to help give traction in the snow. Running with YakTrax do make a difference in the way you strike the ground. Your shoes will feel stiffer, and you most likely will feel it later in your calves. Sometimes, if it's "warmer" and the snow is melting during my run, I take the YakTrax off and just use the velcro to wrap them around my arms.

He could have used Stabilicers!

When it's icy, I have Stabilicers to wear on my shoes. YakTrax do not work very well on ice. Speaking from experience, your shoes become like ice skates. Trust me on this. I've wiped out on hidden ice wearing my YakTrax. The Stabilicers have spikes in them to grip ice that you might encounter. They work great. They don't work as well in snow, which is why I have both. Yes, I'm hard core. But I'm still a little afraid to completely trust my Stabilicers and so I tend to run much slower and more gingerly than I would in clear conditions.

I always wear a hat or a fleece headband, and if it is really cold and windy, I have a neoprene face mask. I think I look pretty badass in it, but my family just laughs at me. Yeah, laugh away...

Cold weather runner. Don't mess.

My gloves have mitten covers on them, which work amazing to keep my fingers warm. I pull my thumbholes over my gloves. If it is really cold, I put hand warmers inside the mittens. If they get too hot, I can just keep them in my pockets.

And away I go. It is a lot of preparation to get outside in the winter, but once you're out there, you won't regret it. There are a couple other things to keep in mind:
-you will most likely have to run in the road, because a lot of people don't clear their sidewalks
-cars cannot stop quickly on snowy or icy roads. You have to stay alert.
-there can be ice hidden under snow so be careful
-you won't be the only runner out there! Remember the runners' code and wave and smile!
-running the morning after a snowstorm is truly an amazing experience. Take in the beauty and enjoy that you are able to do this!

Thanks to Run the Great Wide Somewhere , MCM mama runs, and My No-Guilt Life for hosting the link up. This was right up my alley!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Not my sport!

I'm sure by now most of you have heard about the scandal surrounding Kenyan athlete Rita Jeptoo, the two time Chicago marathon women's winner. Apparently she failed a drug test a few weeks before the marathon this year. Since this is breaking news, there are a lot of unknowns at this point, including what substance was used, and what the Chicago marathon is going to do about her prize. Stay tuned...

Of course, my mind was just swirling with thoughts about this. I couldn't sleep last night--not because of this, but since I was awake, I gave this some thought. Last spring I wrote a blog post on cheaters after 4 people were found to have copied a woman's Boston marathon bib and ran with it, taking medals at the finish line. You can read this here. My key point of that post was that runners are inherently honest. And by saying that, I meant both amateurs and elites. But after doing a little reading this morning, I see that is changing. The stakes are higher, the pressure to win stronger. I don't know about you, but my image of the Kenyans was always of tiny, scrappy runners, who run on grit and train in the mountains; that winning a big race is the key to a better life. Which all makes sense why the temptation to dope would be hard to overcome.

Look at Lance Armstrong....

Where is he now? Besides being a punch line...

So many regular folks, runners like me, are always following the elites and monitoring what they do for nutrition, training...makes me wonder if there are a lot of regular athletes using banned substances. 

I, apparently, have used a banned substance. Actually several. You probably have too. I didn't use them intentionally to boost my performance, but by taking sudafed for a bad cold, I learned how well it made me run. The morning after I took it, I felt like I had a power boost! I ran really fast. Plus I could breathe, which is always a plus. Curious to learn more about this, I consulted the banned substances list. Sudafed? Banned. Cough and cold medicines? Read the labels because they have banned substances in them. Including my beloved Vicks Vapo Inhaler. Who knew? I also learned that caffeine is a banned substance. Banned beyond consumption which leads to 15 mcg/ml in urine-- apparently more than what the normal individual would consume. So whew, I can still drink my one or two cups before my morning run without fear of breaking the rules. Albuterol inhalers for asthma? Performance enhancer. But you can get an exemption if it is medically necessary. Whew.

Of course, no one is testing me. There's no prize money for the middle of the pack. But if all these everyday, normal products are banned, why do elites risk it and take something exotic? Why not just train and run? When does it become so important to win? And even more important, how to do you feel good about winning when you've cheated? My kids tell me that cheating is rampant in school. I raised them to know that cheating is wrong. But if everyone around you is cheating, do you start to feel like it's ok to cheat? Maybe these elites are all doping....

I sure hope not. I look up to Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Deena Kastor, Lauren Fleishman...I hope they're training clean. 

I guess there will always be cheaters, in sport, in life. I'm just sad that it happened to my sport. Do I add Jeptoo to my Great Liars in Running Hall of Fame? She'd be my first elite to join the club.

There is a bright spot in all of this, for me at least...if they take away Jeptoo's win, instead of coming in 17,521th place at the marathon, I get to move up to 17,520! Woo hoo!