Friday, September 11, 2015

Book Club interview with Vanessa Runs: Daughters of Distance

I'm so excited to share with you my interview with Vanessa Runs, author of our Taking the Long Way Home Book Club book for September, Daughters of Distance! She couldn't have been more helpful to work with! 

TTLWH: What gave you the idea for writing a book about women in endurance?

VR: About three years ago I was a pacer at San Diego 100. I was fairly new to the sport but got matched up with a highly competitive runner. His goal was to finish in about 20 or 21 hours (my finish times are about 10 hours slower than that)! I was extremely nervous and almost didn’t do it, but decided to give it a shot. I did 15 miles at his pace and it almost killed me, but it also woke me up to another side of endurance.

I started looking for women who ran more competitively. At first they were hard to find, but I soon realize they were there if I dug a little. Out of curiosity, I began asking them questions about their training and racing. I spoke to hundreds of women and discovered that so many of them shared the same struggles, but each of them felt alone.

There are some memoirs out there about individual women, but nothing that really unites the themes and topics that affect thousands of women in endurance sport. I decided to make each major theme a chapter and write that book.

Most of the time I didn’t feel fit to write it. I wasn’t an elite athlete and I was still fairly new in the endurance scene, but I’m a good listener and I feel I represented these women well.

TTLWH: Do you think it’s tougher for women to compete in ultra distances as opposed to standard distances such as the half and full?

VR: I do. I think ultrarunning now is what marathons used to be for women. It was weird and taboo for women to compete in marathons, but now it’s a normal thing. I think there’s still a lot of taboos around women running ultramarathons. Some of this is self-imposed, but other times the pressures and guilt come from those around us and they are very real.

This is mainly because of the time commitment. It takes a LOT of time not only to race one of these events but to properly train for one. The hours add up and it can be a huge challenge to juggle training with work or a family or both. I think that’s why many of the women I spoke to felt so alone in their struggles. It can feel like nobody else is doing what you are trying to do.

TTLWH: Do you have a family? And if so, how do you schedule your training around family activities?

VR: I have a little family centered around trails, so I don’t experience the typical time and commitment issues. My husband Shacky was an ultrarunner before I was and he got me into the sport. We train and race together. Trail time doubles as quality time and triples as fun/hobby time. I never have to negotiate or compromise for training time.

The dog used to join us on all our runs (she trained every mile with me for my first 100 miler), but she’s very old now and slowing down. She’s 14. This is currently my main challenge. Because I adore her and she has been so loyal to my running, I’ve drastically reduced my mileage this year to mimic her declining abilities. I hate to leave her behind and she hates it too. I don’t mind slowing down since I know this might be my last year with her—I have my entire life to race again and rebuild my mileage.

We have a cat who hikes with us sometimes, but she’s SO SLOW and refuses to be rushed. Her goal in life is to follow me everywhere. We all live in a 22-foot RV and travel full-time from trail to trail. Our lifestyle is based on being outside, so training is not an issue.

Vanessa's dog Ginger
TTLWH: How is endurance sport unique to females?

VR: Women struggle with several issues that men don’t even have to think about. Topics like safety, race discrimination, guilt, and confidence. Each chapter of the book covers one of these topics and many of them will surprise you. Their stories are vivid, moving, and sometimes shocking.

TTLWH: What is your favorite memory from the trail or the road?

VR: My favorite memory is the first 50K that Ginger (my dog) and I ever ran together. We ran every mile side by side at Born to Run. She was absolutely amazing and way stronger than me. She picked up on the course markers and even redirected me when I was about to take a wrong turn. It was a side of her I had never seen before: completely wild and incredibly strong, but also a deep care for me. There’s a strong trail-based bond between us. We would race a lot more if races allowed dogs.

The RV

TTLWH: What has been your biggest victory?

VR: I’ve had a lot of great race victories, but those are minor compared to the victory of finally having the courage to be myself and follow my whims, regardless of what anyone else thinks. There’s no right or wrong way to do life, we just have to find the way that best suits us. 

TTLWH: Your biggest disappointment?

VR: In life, it’s all the time I wasted in my early 20s trying to have a socially acceptable family life and career, instead of doing what I always knew I was meant to do. I should have started traveling right after University. I guess that’s more of a regret.

TTLWH: And favorite distance?

VR: My favorite distance is still 100+ miles even though I haven’t raced a 100-miler this year. I don’t run for the physical benefits but rather the spiritual and emotional ones. Running for 24-30 hours straight takes me to places mentally I can’t get to otherwise (at least not without drugs). I run to know myself, experience solitude and to think. There is plenty of time for all of that (and more!) in a 100 mile race.

I also love the unknowns of that distance. It doesn’t matter how hard you train or what you do to prepare—there are no guarantees that you will finish. The distance forces you to take it one step at a time. Never thinking of the entire distance, but doing your best in that present moment.

There’s nothing quite like running through the terrors of an entire night alone and watching the sun rise the next morning—and you’re still running. It’s a metaphor for life and I thrive on it.

TTLWH: What is next for you? Are you done racing? Working on another book?

VR: At the moment we are camping in Colorado until the colder weather drives us out. I figure we have a couple more weeks at least. We’re at 10,000 feet elevation so we (purposely) missed the heat waves and we even got a tiny bit of snow today! I’ve been working all summer to market my books and will likely start a new one in the fall. I have several book ideas and I haven’t decided which one is next. At the moment, I’m leaning towards a travel memoir based on our last 3-4 years of full-time travel.

We are race ambassadors for the Grand Circle Trails series. Most of those events are based in Utah and they start up again in February, so we’ll be running most of those. We are constantly traveling to races, either to run or volunteer. The dog’s limited health means it’s mostly volunteering this year. I can’t stand to put her in a kennel just so I can race. I owe her too much.

TTLWH: Any advice for someone just starting to run?

VR: There is so much advice out there for new runners. My advice is to ignore as much of it as you possibly can. Run joyfully in your own space and you’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing. Make your running yours. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not ready for a certain race or distance. If you feel ready, you are.  

Have you read Daughters of Distance? Even if you are not an ultrarunner (I am not), there is just so much inspiration to be gained from this book. My review of the book will be posted next Friday, September 18. I think you would agree with me that this is an excellent and inspiring book! Please consider reading and linking up!

And don't forget to check out next month's book: Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated  by Dana L Ayers. I'm almost done and this book is hilarious. It's also really relateable. And it's $2.99 on Amazon. If you liked Run Like A Girl, you will love this one.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bringing Carefree Back

If you've been following me for any length of time, you probably laughed when you read the title for this post. Carefree? Really? What does this type A++blogger know about being carefree?

Well, it's Wednesday, and that means Wednesday Word with Deb Runs. This week's word prompt is carefree, and what better time than the end of the lazy, hazy days of summer to talk about being carefree? And contrary to what you might think, there is a little free spirit inside me...

Summers were pretty carefree when I was a kid. Compared to life now, as kids we weren't overscheduled and playing 14 sports at once. Actually, we didn't do much at all. I grew up in the country, and with 4 girls, my mom didn't have time to schlep us around to activities. So most of my days were unstructured, with the exception of some chores and piano lessons. I'd get up in the morning with nothing on the agenda. Maybe I'd ride my bike over to my cousins' house or to my grandma's farm where we would spend all day doing who knows what? Or I might have a friend over, and we'd spend the day swimming in the pool. Some mornings, I'd just lay in bed reading books. At night, my sisters and I would run around the backyard playing statue maker or catching fireflies. Sounds pretty nice, doesn't it? It was.

I think it would be nice...
How different life becomes when we grow up! Responsibility makes it tough to be carefree. There are work and family responsibilities. And for us runners, there's training that has to be done. I'm heading out of town in a few weeks with my sister, and I have 2 runs to do that I can't push off. My sister likes to schedule lots of sightseeing. So even vacations aren't carefree! Last year, on our sister trip, we missed the bus that was going to take us to see some plantations outside of Charleston. My sister was very upset that her plans were ruined. But me? I did an internal high 5. Downtime? Yes, please. When she asked me what we were going to do with our free time, I suggested an afternoon at the pool. And a beer. While that suggestion didn't initially go over well, it's what we did, and you know what? She said that was one of the best parts of the trip. A carefree afternoon at the pool, reading and talking.

I'll confirm it for you right now. My sister is at least as type A as me, if not more.

I like to throw a little carefree into my life as much as possible. When the boys were younger, our family vacations to Florida were very unstructured, with days at the beach or the pool. But we did schedule a few activities. We took side trips to Disney World. We saw preseason baseball games. Went to an alligator farm. Cape Canaveral.  Summers were very much the same. We took lots of road trips to Wisconsin and went boating, swimming in the lake, and waterskiing. The funny thing is, my boys never complained of being bored, even when we had lots of downtime.

February 2002, Siesta Key Beach, Florida
This summer was completely different. My oldest son got a job, and because we are a little lacking in the trust department, we stayed home for most of the summer. Sadly, there wasn't a lot of carefree in this summer. That's been a little hard on me. Because my job is so intense, my responsibilities at home at times overwhelming, I need that carefree time. Marathon training throws one more activity into the mix, and this year I've found that I'm not enjoying my training as much as I did last year. Is it because I'm putting pressure on myself to meet a time goal? Or is it because I don't have a lot of downtime to relax and process everything that's going on around me? Or is it because the one activity that gives me stress relief is actually the cause of some stress for me? Maybe it's a little of everything.

Running normally makes me feel carefree. When I'm on the road, it's just me and my running shoes. Nothing in my life matters as long as I keep moving forward. Sometimes I do a lot of thinking while I'm running. Sometimes I work out life's problems while the miles go by. But other times, I don't think about anything. The best runs, the ones that are carefree, are the runs when I am in "the zone".

I haven't had one of those carefree runs in a while. I blame the heat and humidity, but maybe because lately I haven't a lot of "carefree" anywhere in my life. Life has been hitting me hard for a while. Writing this post made me realize what's been missing for me. It's time to bring carefree back.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Run Now, Beer Later!

I don't know if I've shared this on the blog, but my husband is a homebrewer. Before we had kids, he brewed beer all the time, brewing all different styles of beer and winning competitions. He also took the exam to become a beer judge, and so he's also quite knowledgeable about beer. After the boys were born, he stopped homebrewing, but has recently started up again. I'm happy about that because while I not a huge drinker, there's nothing better than a cold beer after a long, hot run or bike ride. Plus he needs a hobby.

Recently, I was offered a free entry into the latest Gone For A Run virtual run, the Run Now Beer Later 10k. The theme of the race got me thinking...what are my top 5 favorite post run beers? I put the question to my husband. And we started to argue discuss what constitutes a perfect post-run beer.

When I signed up for Chicago this year, I asked him to brew me a Wheat beer to enjoy after the race. To me, there is nothing more refreshing. There are several different styles of wheat beers. For example, a nice tall glass of German Hefeweizen tastes oh so good after a long bike ride. My new favorite example of this style of beer is not brewed in Germany, tho, but in Seattle by Sierra Nevada. Known for their excellent IPAs, Sierra Nevada outdoes themselves on this one. Kellerweis is just outstanding.

Goose Island is a local brewery that produces one of my favorite wheat beers, 312. Now owned by Anheuser Busch, my husband is still grieving that change of ownership. This so called "urban wheat ale" (an american pale wheat ale) is featured at the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, and is the perfect reward for a long, hard run on the city streets.

I also like the very commercially available and very drinkable Belgian wheat style Blue Moon (made by MillerCoors). For some reason, Blue Moon is served with an orange slice. I don't understand that, because it is pretty tasty on its own.

Another beer that I love--but is not a wheat beer--is Spotted Cow from New Glarus brewery. I've talked about it on the blog before. Spotted Cow is only available in Wisconsin. That makes this beer an extra special treat. Spotted Cow is a cream ale style beer, which is similar to a lager. Except that it's an ale. And it's ale good...
Sorry about the pun...

On these 4 beers, my husband was in full agreement with me.

But when I mentioned that Lagunitas IPA that I have enjoyed the last 2 years at the CARA Lakefront 10 miler, he begged to differ. IPA (India Pale Ale) beers are made with hops, and some might call them bitter. He cited the hops, and thought that a hoppy beer wouldn't be refreshing. I don't know why not? So we looked up the IBUs (international bitterness units) and found that this beer isn't all that "hoppy". He was shocked. I was vindicated! And so this is one made the list.
My husband's idea of the perfect post run beer? A style he called Mild Ale. When I asked him for an example, he couldn't name one. So much for that. He called it a "session beer", which is a low alcohol beer that traditionally was brewed for workers to drink over lunch. No 2 martini lunches for those workers. My husband argued that after running, you wouldn't want anything high in alcohol, and that this beer would be perfect. He cited the popularity of Michelob Ultra as a post run beer. To which I said, ick. I won't drink that swill. Since I dissed his suggestion, he went off on a tangent. After all, he is the beer expert at our house. He named Guinness, which is a surprisingly low alcohol beer. But because of its thick texture and dark color, Guinness just does not appeal to me as a post run beer.

And since he doesn't run, I told him that he wouldn't know what would be a good post run beer. And so ended our conversation.

Anyways, about this virtual run.

As the race description explains: "Run, Walk or Crawl 6.2 miles". Entrants receive a t-shirt and this cool finisher's medal with a bottle cap opener. Which I plan on using as soon as I finish. I love functional bling. The Madison Mini Marathon medal also has a bottle opener! Which makes sense, because, Wisconsin...

And if you feel that you don't want to pay for a virtual race or find it indulgent, I wanted to let you know that proceeds from this race go to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The fund supports members of the Armed Services and their families and has provided over $150 million in support.

Don't wait because these races sell out! By the way, I'll be running this race in Seattle! I'll have to find a tasty local microbrew to drink at the virtual finish line.

Disclaimer: I was given a free entry into Run Now Beer Later by Gone For a Run in exchange for this blog post. All opinions, as always, are mine.

Will you be joining me? Have you ever gotten a medal that you could actually use?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Marathon Training Week 7: Ring of Fire

Coming off that great week of fast runs and cooler temps, I headed into week 7 feeling strong and ready to tackle the rest of my training. With the return of high temps and humidity in the forecast, I hoped to be able to draw on that confidence building week and push through my training strong!

Monday morning I had an 8 mile run at MP on the plan. Grateful that I had had a long bike ride as opposed to a long run the day before, I set my alarm for 4:30. When I woke up, not only was it dark, but it was also very foggy. I put on my Petzl Tikka headlamp and headed out. The LED light was so bright that all I could see is the foggy mist coming at me. It was hard to see the road. About a block from my home, I smelled a skunk and when I looked over, there was one right next to me, rearing up on its front legs. That could only mean one thing. That was the charge I needed to move it, and move it I did. When I got to the path, I saw that there were other runners there, wearing headlamps too. I started to relax, but a creepy cyclist who stared at me every time he passed me kept me on alert. I aimed my headlamp at his face, hoping to blind him. I'm not sure if it worked. I was pleased and surprised when I saw my pace on the Garmin: 8:35 miles in 1:11 for an average pace of 8:33 min/mile.

Tuesday: I headed to CrossFit for a MetCon session with Becky. When I woke up, I was really dizzy, and I considered cancelling with her. Turns out, she wasn't feeling well either. I pushed through intervals of rowing with 4 different activities: waiters lunges, box jumps, sumo deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. I drank a ton of water and Nuun. But when I got home and stepped out of the shower, the room kept spinning and I felt really nauseous. I hated to do it, but I called off work and spent the day on the couch. I felt like crap all day. Was it a virus that I picked up in the clinic? A migraine? Or those intervals? Hey, at least I got my workout in, right?
Made my heart pound!
Wednesday was yoga. Kathy's theme for the class was the breath. She led the class through a challenging series of poses, always emphasizing moving on the breath. All this yoga breathing really translates well to the road. At the end of the class we did some backbending, including wheel pose.

Thursday I had speed work on the plan, 2 mile repeats x3. I wanted to get out early, but my youngest son was struggling with his asthma and allergies, and I needed to get him settled before I headed out. When I got to the path, it was already 77 degrees. Add in the humidity, and it was really uncomfortable. The first 2 miles went pretty well, and I thought to myself that maybe, I got this heat thing! Miles 3 and 4 were tough. Before I started on my last interval, I gave myself a little more walking time, and stopped at the drinking fountain for lots of water. I considered stopping after 4, because I knew I couldn't maintain the split times I had for the first 2. I felt pretty sick. I finally talked myself into just running the last 2, and I did, this split one minute slower than the previous one. Because of that slow last interval, I didn't feel really victorious until I recovered and thought about staying mentally tough and not giving up. I still hit my goal pace, for an average of 8:17min/mile. And when I got in the car to go home, guess what song was playing on the radio? Yep, Don't Stop Belivin'. Coincidence? I think not...

Speedwork done. Splits: 15:59, 16:21, 17:22. Don't even stop believin'.
After I had breakfast, I headed to see Becky at CrossFit. She had me do back squats, with progressively heavier weights and CHAINS, yes chains, dangling from the barbell. The purpose of the chains was for me to keep control of the bar. When I squatted, the bar wanted to pull me back. This is great for hip stability, and also for the glutes. In between sets, she had me push the prowler. Outside. 

Friday was a rest day. After all the hard work I do during marathon training, I always look forward to my rest days. But by the end of my work day, I was really needing a run. The day was incredibly stressful and overwhelming. I was near tears by the end of the day. I won't go into details, but just suffice it to say that there was no run, but lots of wine for me when I got home.

Saturday, I had a 5 miler on the plan. No pace, no plan for this run. Just a run. My legs still felt heavy from Thursday's workout, and I had to stop after mile 1 to stretch my calves. But as I watched the sunrise, I started to loosen up. Inspired by the beautiful morning sky, I stopped to strike a pose in the park. And another. I finished this run with a smile on my face. And somehow, managed to eake out an MP run: 8:47 min/mile.

Warrior one. Feeling stronger as the run went on.
Greeting the sun.
Sunday: I woke up early to beat the heat for my 12 miler, and was out the door by 6:45. The temp was already 75, with 70% humidity, and I took it slow. I had to do a lot of tough self talk to push through those first 3 miles. 
My brain: "It's too hot. Go home. Give up.". 
Me: "I need this run. If I can do this run, I can do this marathon. I can't quit. It's only 12 miles. " 

About mile 4, my brain gave up, and the run became much easier. I chugged up the big-for-me hill without stopping. And made it to the gas station at mile 5.5 for a pit stop. When I came out, there was a sweaty but very attractive male runner buying gatorade. We made small talk, and I headed back out the door, a little peppier for that interaction. Hey, I may be old, but I'm not dead yet! I turned around at mile 6, and headed back the way I came. Luckily, the path is pretty shady. There was also a nice breeze. I started to struggle again, about mile 9, and those final 3 miles were a battle between my brain, which was again doing its best to make me quit, and my will to finish this thing on my terms. Which I did, 12. 09 miles in 1:51:10. In the interest of full disclosure, I did stop a few times, and my Garmin stops when I do. Hey, it's a training run...

I was so happy to be done with this run.
Even though we were back in the blast furnace, I'm really happy with this week of training. Yes, the heat and humidity made it really hard to push through all my workouts, but I got them all done without quitting. And that tenacity will pay off on the marathon course when I want to quit. Training is not always about paces and mile splits. The so-called experts say that running is 90% mental, and these tough runs in the heat and humidity were all about mental toughness. I'll need to dig deep in the last 10k of the marathon, and I'll have these runs to draw on. This upcoming week, I'm looking forward to cooler temps and a half marathon next weekend.

So what song captured this week of training? There were so many good ones, but I picked Social Distortion's Ring of Fire. Considering the conditions so many of us have been subjected to this summer, I found it fitting. "Cause it burns, burns, burns...." I sang along with it on my long run today. By the way, I do love the original by Johnny Cash, but the version by Social Distortion is a little more uptempo.

Tell me about your week! How did your training go? Anything along the road put a little pep in your step?  Any songs that made your run go faster?

I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin' for their weekly wrap!

Friday, September 4, 2015

7 things about me and #7day stretch #LiveinPrana Instagram Challenge

You know I love me some yoga. Last February, I participated in Prana's 30 day yoga challenge. This past week, I jumped on Prana and Sweatpink's #7daystretch #liveinprana challenge. If you are not on instagram, you may not have even known this was happening! I have to say I loved seeing my feed full of beautiful yoga poses. Participants were given prompts and tasked to come up with a pose that defined what that prompt meant to them.

Some of the poses I did last week!
So in the spirit of the #7daystretch, Smitha at Running with SD Mom tagged me to answer 7 things you might not know about me. I do love these little surveys....

I am wildly obsessed with: finding the fountain of youth. I know I can't stop getting older, but I'm not going out without a fight!

I have a secret collection of: running socks. I don't know how secret my collection is, but my secret is out. I love running socks. Yes, I am an ambassador for SLS3, but outside of compression socks, I love all the brands. The more fun, the better.

I am secretly: If you listened to my running playlist, you'd swear that I'm an adolescent boy. Lots of rock, rap, and metal. It's my jam. I listen to the rock station in the car too. Who's old?

When I was 7 I wanted to be: The weather lady! A big thrill for me as a little girl was when visiting my grandparents in Chicago, I could call the "weather lady" on the phone. It was just a prerecorded forecast for Chicago and was a big thrill for a small town little girl. This was before the internet, and we lived so far from Chicago that to call from my house would be long distance. I cringe at this memory. My parents were kind to indulge me. At home, I even had a weather station, with all the gauges and everything. I have to admit, I still am a bit obsessed with the weather. I only have, say 5 apps or so on my phone...

If I could do one thing today it would be: make equal, high quality, affordable healthcare available to everyone. I work as a nurse practitioner and it bothers me greatly not always being able to provide the level of care that I believe my patients deserve. Insurance constraints often limit what I can prescribe or what services I can offer. It's terribly frustrating.

I've always dreamt of: being a mom. I always wanted to have kids. I can't believe that mine are almost grown. Sigh...

My favorite way to travel is: flying. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with flying. I love getting to my destination as quickly as possible. But I hate the logistics--the airport security lines, the nickle and diming that the airlines do to passengers. I love to travel, and flying is just a necessary evil.

Join in the fun! I tag Briana, Kristina, and Beth to share 7 things I didn't know about you! Just fill in the blanks and tag @prana @fitapproach and use the hashtags #liveinprana #7daystretch, and #sweatpink. Tag your friends, your followers...whoever is listening!

Tell me at least one thing that I didn't know about you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Staying on track

People always say things to me like, "oh, you're so good. You always make sure to get your runs in." Well, I don't know if it has anything to do with being good.

For me, it's about staying accountable. I'm taking responsibility for my fitness. I'm committed to staying fit. I've got goals, dammit! And how can I meet my goals if I don't do the work? That race isn't going to run itself! What if I just showed up to a race without training? How far would that get me? To the medical tent?

Oh, wait, I did end up there last year after I ran Chicago. Briefly. My calves cramped up and I couldn't stand up after I crossed the finish line. Oops!

All joking aside, the funny thing about running and fitness is that the only person you have to be accountable to is yourself. Really, no one cares about your run. Sad, but true. And no one is going to do it for you. Well, I guess someone could run the race with your race bib...but that's a different blog post. That would be cheating. Certainly not being accountable.

If you are struggling with accountability, there are some things you can do to stay on track.

Make a commitment to yourself. Have you heard the saying: make yourself the priority? It's not just fluff. Remind yourself of how good you'll feel after completing the run. Maybe not physically, but mentally. That feeling of accomplishment sure beats that feeling of giving up. It's one more step towards meeting whatever goals you have set for yourself.

Set realistic goals. Don't bite off more than you can chew. It's hard to stay on track when you're overwhelmed by a training plan. You don't start out running by training for a marathon. And be realistic about your abilities. Don't set a time goal for your first race. Be content with finishing and even better, finishing strong.

Share your plans. There's nothing better for assuring accountability than by putting your goals and plans out there for the world to see. Yep. I did it, telling everyone about my desire for a sub-4 marathon. How will I do that unless I do the work?

Find a running partner. I run solo, but a lot of people who run with a friend or a group tell me that having a partner keeps them accountable.  If you don't show up to run, you not only let yourself down, but also the person(s) that you've promised to run with. That doesn't feel good now, does it?

Treat running like a job. Oh sure, it's a heck of a lot easier to go to work, knowing that you get a paycheck. But if you think about it, there is a paycheck with running, like improved health and fitness, weight loss, being able to eat all the food, and looking great in your clothes? Oh, and not to mention some bling around your neck when you cross the finish line of a race!

Be stronger than your excuses. If you don't get out for a run, you can't blame anyone but yourself. Bad weather? Nope. No excuse. Too busy? Get up earlier in the morning. If you need more incentive, check out these posts on excuses and no excuses.

I like to reuse good memes....
Make running a priority. Set aside time to get your workouts in. Set your alarm for an earlier rising time. And once it goes off, you may as well get up. Because now you're awake. Even if you don't have time for a long run, just go! You know what they say, any run is better than no run.

Make running a habit. Researchers say that it takes 6 weeks to develop a habit--good or bad. Put your runs on the calendar. Set aside a time to run. For me, I run in the morning, before I have time to think about it. I've been running so long that going for a run is like brushing my teeth or showering. I just do it. And I feel weird when I don't. And kind of gross, too.

How do you stay accountable? I'm linking this post up with DebRuns and Wednesday Word. Check out how the other bloggers stay accountable.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sole sister virtual run recap

Standing in front of the door, thinking about all that rain...
I received a free entry to the Gone For A Run Sole Sister Virtual 7 mile run in exchange for this blog post. But all opinions are mine, of course!

I was pretty excited to run this virtual race. When I posted about it a few weeks ago, the response from my virtual sole sisters was amazing! So many of them signed up to do this one that it actually sold out. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out how to best fit a 7 mile run into my marathon training plan. You know Becky doesn't like me to mess with the plan. But on Saturday, I had a 5 miler on the plan before work, and I figured that 2 extra miles weren't going to hurt me.

My alarm went off at 5:30, and as I laid in bed thinking about getting up, I heard the rain pouring down. My heart sunk. Was I going to have to do this one on the treadmill? I hoped not, but I got up to make some coffee and check the weather. It didn't look good.

But I looked outside and it wasn't raining too hard, and I decided to suck it up and do the 7 outside. I put on a bright neon shirt for visibility and headed out the door. Immediately, I got wet. I ran the path through the park by my house and stepped in a big puddle. I felt the water soak into my shoes. Great. Only 6.9 more miles to go with wet feet. At least it was warm out, and my legs felt amazing. I ran from my house to the retention pond where I do all that speedwork.

When I got there, I realized I was THE ONLY person on the path. It reminded me of those solo runs in winter when I run there. It was a little eerie, but I made my way around. I got a side stitch (what is it with those lately?) around mile 3 and I concentrated on my breathing. I stopped at mile 4 for a drink of water and to take this picture. Too bad I didn't capture the lightning that would occasionally flash. The lightning didn't bother me, but every time I heard a thunderclap, it would start to pour again.

I was pretty happy about this run. Considering the conditions, it would have been easy to blow this run off. But since I was committed to running the race--all my sole sisters were out there doing it too--I had no choice but to run it. I'm so glad I did. I got my marathon pace too, 8:47 minutes/mile, which for a 7 mile run in the rain was a big confidence booster!

Here are some of my sole sisters and me!
I have to share that I have met all of these ladies through social media. I know I always say it, but what an amazing community we have! I've linked to FB pages and blogs to those that have them! I am honored and thrilled to share their photos. Please check them out and show them the love!




MaryBeth from Tutus and Tennies. We'll be meeting next March when I head back to run the Sarasota Half Marathon!

Jennifer from See Mom Run 13 point 1! I'll be meeting her in real life at the Chicago marathon in October!

Sweet Katie and her daughters from Sole Sister Katie
Misty from Misty Runs NJ

Paria from Mom On the Runsanity. Check out her beautiful posts on her blog...

Smitha from Running with SD Mom

Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin
Holly from HoHoRuns, my partner in crime with That Time of the Month. and her sister. I get to meet her in October at Chicago!


Karen from Running Over the Hill

Kimberly from Kooky Runner

Liz from Bitchinrunner

This was the best virtual run yet! I think this should be an annual event. There were so many of us out there, getting it done! "Sisters are doin' it for themselves"!...

Would you do this one if it was offered again?