For as long as I can remember, I told people "I can't run." But in March of 2009, I decided that this was no longer an option. From my first 5K to my second half marathon, I've endured my highest highs and lowest lows as an official Runner. This year I want to embrace running for something beyond times and distances.

Running is so much more than merely getting out there. I want to get out there and love it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rock n Sole Half Marathon and my life

Wow...sorry everyone!! So in a nutshell? I haven't run since the Half three weeks ago. Instead I have been working 55-60 hour weeks. I work til about 8:00, eat at 9:00, and go to bed at midnight-1am because my entire day is shifted and there's no way I can just turn in for the night two hours after I eat dinner HA! In the small crevices of time where I'm not working, eating and sleeping, I have been helping Chris with his photography and constructing his art booth: he successfully sold a bunch of pieces in the Kenosha art fair a couple weeks ago, and now we're preparing for the Domes Art Festival in a few weeks. Honestly though I think we've been to Home Depot and Menard's at least two dozen times in the past month.

As for working...yikes. The big top secret project we've been working on all culminates at 4am on Monday morning. I have to come in tomorrow (Sunday) from 6am-2pm to do last minutes verification with the rest of my team. The worst part is that it might not work, in which case the extra 40+ hours of overtime we've all put in is all for naught and the project does not go live. The worst part about THAT isn't so much the "wasted time" as we'll probably try the project again in a few months and be better at it. The worst part is we won't get accolades. No one will pat us on the back for all our slave labor over the last few weeks. I mean they might not either way, but the odds significantly plummet.

ANYWAY...the Hoan Half Marathon. Ahhh yes. My first DNF. And not really an official DNF so much as just cutting the run short and opting to finish the 10K race instead.

The short story is that they ran out of water at Mile 3. Yep Mile 3. And because the 10K runners started after us Half runners, they got no water at all. Not only did they run out of water at some spots, in other spots there were no cups and the volunteers had to pour water into their cupped hands OR runners would pick up the empty water jugs and try to shake any remaining drops into their mouths.

Did I also mention it was 8am, 85 degrees, no cloud cover, and 75% humidity? Well that actually sounds kinda nice after the near 100 degree days we've been having this month ;) BUT trust me, it was a dangerous heat index and the race director had approved a green flag at the beginning of the race. In the corrals we all stood there waiting for the race to start just DRIPPING with sweat. Already!!

Right outta the gate, we ran up the Hoan bridge.
It wasn't the toughest incline by any means, but having no shade and working real hard right off the bat, wasn't so much fun. Add in some lack of water and it's more of a mental struggle than anything. At Mile 4.5 I saw an upcoming water station (this was of course after Mile 3 had already ran out of water), but because I thought it was a fluke, for some stupid reason I dumped all the water I had in my bottle on my head. Why Katie why? That mistake really cost me. Mile 4.5 was out of water too so I just had to deal with it.

Sometimes when I run in really crazy humidity I get heart palps. What I USUALLY do is stop and sit and see if they go away and continue on. When you're in a "race" that isn't exactly an option. I walked from Mile 4.5 (after realizing I wouldn't have water for at least another mile and a half) to Mile 5.5. I started up again once I made the final decision: I'm done.

My parents were waiting for me at a Mile 6 to switch shoes with me. I planned to run in my Newtons the first half since I had only trained up to 6 in them. Once I saw them my decision to stop had officially taken hold. The look on my mom's face pretty much said it all. She was so worried. So after chatting with them for a little bit while gulping down water (finally!) I doubled back and ran toward the 10K finish line so at I could at LEAST feel like this race was worth the anguish (mostly mental anguish having worried about the weather for at least a month prior to race day). I finished in something astronomical like an hour and a half YIKES.

I collected two bottles of water, three cups of Gatorade, a couple cookies, an MGD, and a huge bag of ice (they were literally handing out bags of ice!). Oh and my 10K medal. I don't necessarily think people should get medals for "only" running 6 miles, but after the ordeal my brain went through for this thing, it will always be a reminder of the experience.

Meanwhile, people were STILL running the Half Marathon. Running....and then not in collapsing and being taken to the hospital instead. Something like 20 runners were taken to the hospital with 50 being treated on-site. A friend of mine who was manning a station by his house on the north side (Lake Park) stretch said a guy collapsed on his lawn and the paramedics worked on him for a half hour before finally taking him to the hospital. Eventually (and I say that with disgust), the race put up the black flag and the clock was stopped. If you were miles away STILL running, you were outta times would be recorded and the race was in essence canceled.

Now something like 5-6000 people ran the 10K and Half Marathon that day, so 50 people hospitalized really isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but let me put it into perspective: Earlier this year, the Chicago 13.1 runners ran in very similar conditions where 11 people were hospitalized. Horribly enough, one 22-year-old man died. But according to this runner's race recap not only did the race director acknowledge it was going to be dangerous the day before, they added MORE water stations AND an ice towel station??? Mmmm ice towel. He also did something so small but speaks volumes: start the race with a yellow flag. When I got up the morning of July 10th and saw that patronizing green flag on the Rock n Sole website, I was so pissed. "Stop being a pussy, these are easy running conditions" is what that stupid green flag told me.

Well to make a long story short, the inaugural Rock n' Sole race made headlines and a wave of anger just rolled through our little city and beyond (since so many out-of-towners decided to run it too). The race director sent a huge apology email to us that Sunday evening. And a few days later, offered a refund system: keep or donate $15 to Ronald McDonald House, and 20% off next year's registration which includes two free Summerfest tickets. Not anything huge, but definitely a good olive branch. And 20% off next year's race may be good because I feel like this is an ordeal I need to tackle. Yeah they ran out of water, yeah it was hot, but had I trained better, I might've actually been able to finish. I had three friends who did actually finish and WELL at that...all between 2:15 and 2:30. So it was possible. Just not for my pansy ass ;)

So that's where I'm at running-wise. Seeing as I no longer need to train in the heat, I've taken these past three weeks to heal a few aches and pains, mostly my ankles and feet which just kill every morning I wake up. I hope that's because of "old age" and nothing serious!

Thanks for reading through this epic tale! I thought I'd make up for the lack of posting with lots and lots of words :)

Monday, July 4, 2011


Less than a week till my Half and I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Minus one sore ankle from last night. I'm an idiot sometimes. Beer will do that. Icing it with two bags of frozen fruit wrapped under an Ace right now...seeing as I can walk on it, I think I'll be fine.

I didn't train this one to break any records. I really just wanted to run over the Hoan.
And for whatever reason, when I signed up for this race on January 31, I didn't think too much about 13.1 miles in JULY. I was probably wistful about running outside in my skivvies. I'm trying really hard not to look at the weather because, honestly, the weather for the day won't be the weather for the day until the day arrives. A couple days ago I saw that it was only going to be a high of 70. Now not so much.

But seriously, it's six days out. Anything can happen. The T'storms would be ok though...T'storms means cloud cover means I'm happy.

If it's not one thing it's another and odds are I won't be recovering from the stomach flu this time around, but if it's 85, humid, and sunny on the morning of the race, I'll feel exactly the same way as I did in April of last year: knowing full well I might not make it all the way to the end, but getting out there anyway. What do I have to lose except a little dignity when they find me passed out on the side of the road at Mile 7.

I was planning on doing a final 8 miler today, but the ankle thing messed that up. Hopefully it feels better tomorrow and I can get in a shorter run, keep things loose.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

...and then I vommed.

This past Saturday was a red letter day in my running world...for two reasons! Finally, at the Lighthouse 10 miler, I ran with Claire! Not just the first couple at a local half marathon this time. Mile after mile. Water cup after water cup. Start to finish. And it was a TOTAL blast!! The miles just melted away even though we ran for nearly two hours!! The light conversation was great, but my favorite part about running with Claire was how kind she was: asking me how I was feeling, telling me it was ok to walk through water stops ;) I really struggled with this race for some reason (for many reasons?), but she was awesome the whole way! Not to mention the fact that she basically gave up on TWO attempts at personal goals in order to run with me: 1. her chance to beat LY's race time, I looked it up and she literally said "Next year this bitch is mine!" Haha! And 2. before I signed up, she was going to do the 4 mile option--barefoot! So yeah, pretty much the best running friend a girl could have ;)

First of all, I repeated my faux pas from the Chicago Half...I ate breakfast. At the end of the day, there's really not a lot of difference between a 10 mile training run and a 10 mile race when you're me. So why did I change up my eating plan last minute?? Stupid. All I had was a granola bar, a lot of water, and probably a cup and a half of coffee at 5:30am. But I was crazy nauseous through most of the race (which started at 8am). Tiny sips of water throughout the course seemed to make it worse, and taking a gel felt out of the question. At mile 6 though, I forced down half. It wasn't awful, but--hint, hint--it came back to haunt me later ;) Meanwhile, my IT band was being a little jerk the whole time too. Claire even noticed it, saying I looked like I was hobbling a little throughout the second half. Gar! While not completely debilitating, it definitely made for a slower run.

The Finish. Claire told me about the a wicked hill at the end of the race, right before the finish line. I tried not to think too much about it. But of course we hit Mile 9 and I could not WAIT for the race to be over. Claire decided we were going to finish strong. (What? You mean NOT the pathetic shuffling I had been rocking the last few miles?) After the hill, only a few hundred yards remained. The finish line was as clear as day. But I seriously had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get up to a sprint normal running pace. I crossed the finish at a fuzzy 1:53 something.

And I knew it was coming.
There has only been one other race where I had to hold myself back from throwing up everywhere: a 5K in my friend Monica's old neighborhood and my third best 5K finish. This time, however, I couldn't hold back no matter HOW hard I concentrated: my first ever race vom experience! Luckily I had just ran 10 miles and burned off anything and everything I had eaten in the past five hours, aside from the half gel and some water. So it was no biggie; Claire and I agreed it was kismet. Her son doesn't have to be the only one barfing at the finish line!

But speaking of Claire's kids, not only did I meet (and re-meet) several members of her posse at the race, I also met her hilarious husband and little lady! T just cracks me UP!!! After the race, we all hung out for awhile at their house. Claire poured me a cup of coffee (a girl after my own heart! haha!!), and her daughter proceeded to show me all of her stuffed animals (totally something I would do at her age...and honestly up to like 12.). I basked in my ultra-fave post-race glow, as well as the warmth and coziness of their home. And if that wasn't hospitable enough...Claire literally sent me home with a running store!! She gave me a foam roller, a stack of Runner's Worlds, a long sleeve running shirt, and some SHOES. Yeah sure, all stuff her huz really wanted her to get rid of and probably would've ended up in the dumpster or local Goodwill, but now it all has a new home. I used the foam roller last night and it was heaven and hell all wrapped up in one! Going to try the shoes out, probably tomorrow when I actually run again. This three-day break has been lovely ;)

So 1:52:42 was my chip time...11:20 min mile pace. It is officially--including both of my Halfs--the slowest race I've ever run, and by an entire minute per mile at that. How do I feel? Well honestly, I'm not particularly bummed about it. I know I went slow and I also purposefully threw in some walk breaks for the first time in a race. I can't exactly blame the heat as it was comparable to the Chicago Half weather. I have a lot more training miles behind me in this cycle than I did at the Chicago Half, so that's funny. But I also had a more easy-going spirit coming into this race than any of the others. 'Just have fun' was my mentality. I did and then some!! So when it comes down to it, I wouldn't change one iota about the supremely awesome day I had!!!

And with 3.5 weeks till the Summerfest Half, I hope to channel some of that easy-going spirit, even without my running buddy by my side :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fire Side Chats

You know who is inspiring? Other runners. Like real live ones.

Last night I joined in on a 200ish person training run at Ronald McDonald House for the Summerfest Half. It was five miles (or nine if you're a rockstar!) around the Tosa area in a wet sloppy frigid March-style mess. While I wasn't nervous about it, as I've run a dozen races by myself and showed up to many of them all alone...I was sort of lonely on the drive there. I almost posted the training run on Facebook to see if any of my friends happened to be going, but refrained.

Well immediately upon my arrival, a woman started chatting with me! She looked to be late 30s or so and definitely a runner. She was helping out at the event, running the 5mi, but not running the Half in July since the longest she's run is 6mi. I was like, say WHAT girl? You could totally do it! Anyway, she ran with me for a couple miles and apologized a billion times for being so chatty, but I loved it!! I even chimed in...despite the fact that I was trying to hide the sections where I was out of breath ;) She was fast! We parted ways at the end of the run, she told me she'd catch up later.

I joined the runners congregated in the RMH and shoved free pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and Gatorade into my pie hole. Again, I was alone though. I sat with a couple runners and we made small talk, but they mostly chatted with one another. After they left, two 50-something dudes, JB and Joe, sat down and they were awesome!! We all talked about the various races we've run, etc. Joe looked and talked exactly like Kevin Spacey, so that was fun! The woman from earlier (Lorie I think?) sat down with us eventually too.

I left RMH feeling really happy! I had run a solid 5 (in the rain!) with lots of cool, sweet people, and it reminded me that I don't always have to do things by myself. I'm not really a group person. I never really wanted to join a running club like Badgerland Striders or Team in Training...but maybe I shouldn't rule that sort of stuff out.

Well at the very least I can ride this high for a little longer since I am both a. running a race and b. running said race with a FRIEND this Saturday!!! I can already tell I'm going to have a blast even if I don't run my best!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go...


[Question about foam rollers/compression sleeves at the end...maybe you can help me out?]

No strippers and margaritas this past week! But it was sticky sweaty HOT anyway. Being inspired once again by Claire's post, I gathered up my guts and decided to run outside last Thursday instead of my usual gym run. I plotted a 5 mile stretch and said a prayer. I had two things going for me: it was overcast and only 92 degrees, rather than sunny and nearly 100 the day before. Well it didn't matter because I still seriously sucked at it. I got only 2.5 miles through it before I seriously wanted to stop and head back. At 3 I decided to cut through the loop early and before embarking on a hill with an official 3% incline, I gave up and walked. I started up again when I got lost in suburbia where all the houses look the same and everything ends in a cul de sac.
I ended the run a quarter mile shy of 5 miles and was relatively satisfied that I at least tried it. But pretty depressed knowing full well that if the Half Marathon is anywhere close to 90 some degrees and humid, I just won't be able to rock it. Yes that's a defeatist attitude, but at least I'm prepared. And yeah yeah, I signed up for a Half Marathon in July and I have no one to blame but myself ;) Seriously though, I have no idea why they aren't starting it at 7am. My Chicago Half in September started at 7:30. There's a big difference running the last few miles at 9:30 vs 10:30 on a hot summer day. Chicago changed their start time relatively last minute, so I have hope.

Speaking of suburbia, I officially love running in the city way more than in nature. What's wrong with me? I trained most of my first Half along the lakeshore path in Bayview/St. Francis...and yeah it was really pretty! I've been doing most of my long runs this time combining downtown and the lake front and I just adore it. There's so much to look at, so many people I pass, lots of distractions, yet super relaxing. I've also stopped listening to music when I run downtown. I find myself way more calm when I can listen to the music of the traffic in the city...Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty...How can you lose? Seriously, maybe Petula Clark was singing about her training runs.

And speaking of the concrete jungle, no matter how much I claim to feel better running in my Newton's, I still have some all-over leg pain after these long runs. Running on a lot of concrete will do that I'm matter how you are foot-striking. Therefore, I'm wondering if a foam roller and/or shin compression sleeves will help? Anyone out there use either of these? The pain isn't centralized in any one location...just a general soreness everywhere!

I've got less than a month until the Half now. My 10+ mile training runs are pretty much over I think. This weekend I'm heading down to Claire's territory to run the Lighthouse 10 Mile! Doesn't look like it'll be too hot, so I'm stoked about that!! The Saturday following I am in Chicago for a design conference. As much as I would absolutely LOVE to run through the streets of Chicago for an 8-10 miler, I think the delicious food and DRINKS Saturday night will prevent this from happening.

So I'm in somewhat of a home stretch here. And I'm going to try to promise myself that Half Training is over for 2011. Yes yes the bright lights and neon of Vegas are like an evil siren temptress, but I will refrain and focus on minimal/natural happy running over the remainder of the summer!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Strippers, Heat, Qdoba...spicy!

So it's been awhile! I had a weird couple weeks running-wise. Sucky is the operative word I think. I was just starting to fit right into the running pocket. My pace was getting faster, I was rockin the fartlek, I was hitting my long runs pretty decently. Well then it got hot. And my job sucked the life out of me. And I didn't feel good. I pathetically attempted 11 miles on Memorial Day. The day it was like 90 and humid and big huge burning sun. First off, I was supposed to do the run on Friday because I had a half day from work. Instead I got my hair chopped off and sat on Water St. Bar Louie patio and drank beers with my work gang. That evening I had 30 margaritas, more beer, and saw Saturday morning was out. Saturday night I attended a wedding...more beer. Sunday was out.

So Monday and its sticky soup was my demise. I ran for TWO MILES and had to sit at a bus stop. I stopped again at mile 3. And walked the remaining mile and a half home. So depressing. I decided then and there that this week would be the mid-training "easy week" I've been hearing so much about. [I tried googling but just take my word for it!] I ran 4.5 mid-week and that's IT. Until Saturday when, once again, it was horribly hot and sticky. I tried SO HARD to get up early, but every day during the entire "easy week" I had been getting 5hr/night sleep because of long work days and long work nights. Blah blah blah details, in any case I headed out at 8am and it was still horrifying. THIS time I ran more/walked less 4.5 miles, but still real rough, stopping several times to rest under shade. I got to my car where I was supposed to switch shoes and get more water and said FUCK THIS and headed to the gym where I wondered if I'd be able to run 6.5 miles on the tread. NOPE. 2 miles. 11 miler AGAIN out of my reach.

When I got home all bummed yet again, the news informed me that apparently a huge cool front was headed our way and it'd be like 70 max and low humidity!! YEEHAW now we're in business!! And my friends, I cannot even describe the universal differences. I barely broke a sweat. I've been hotter on the treadmill than I was out there today. Plus for most of it there were sporadic cloud clumps and even a dash of rain droplets. It was absolutely f'ing gorgeous.

As for difficulty, well I went slow, like whoa. So I felt really great through pretty much the whole thing. Most of my discomfort was in the first four miles. I was hungry and my knees hurt. But after a gel and getting into my groove, I felt WOW running can be FUN! I felt like I could go forever. Back when I was hungry though, a glorious thought bubble bounced out of my brain...No not twenty miles...MexiCAN I Can!! And honestly, having that thought bubble with me through the run totally gave me a boost! I guess guac is my carrot. Healthier, in my opinion? ;)

Now here's the funny story: I couldn't start in my pre-routed spot because I was in the middle of a big bike race. So I already logged into my brain that I'd had to make up that chunk of mileage. There were a couple spots where I thought: "Is this route right? Am I missing a loop?" The run was just a little TOO easy and I was done a little TOO quickly. Well, to make up for the previously-mentioned new start spot and my unease about too-short-of-a-run, I tacked on what I thought was on an extra mile. I got back, stretched, got into my car, and decided to check my pre-planned route on my iMapMyRun app.


I DID totally screw up!! Not just one but TWO loops. I did some math (I'm horrible at math) and decided the total distance was just too short and I did NOT waste this awesome weather for a too-short long run. So I literally got back out of my car and started it up again. I know. Well, THIS time I actually had the smarts to turn on my MMR app and which TOLD me I ran for another two miles (NOT as fun as the previous bunch). To make a long story long (zzzzzzz....), when I got home I adjusted my route online......

13 miles. Guhhhhhh. So in actuality, I was golden perfect when I stopped the first time. And now I've probably messed up my knees for good! They aren't feeling so hot :\ Damn you 10% increase!!! So hopefully I'm ok, I'll just take it easy and ice I guess.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

old people

So on my long run last weekend, I was really hurtin around mile 5.5 or so. In other words, too early to be tired on a long run! I vowed to stop and stretch at the turnback point. There, an older gent on a walk came up to me and asked "how much?" While I may have looked like a sporty prostitute (I was sweaty?), I assumed he meant mileage and I answered "only seven today." Only seven. For whatever reason I feel like the whole world is running marathons and seven miles is a puny weekday run right at the beginning of everyone's training cycle. He replied, "that's great! Are you training for a marathon?" (see!!) I answered, "No, the Summerfest Half in July." He nodded and delved into a tale about how he ran the first Lakefront Marathon back in 1981. He said he was in his 50s when he did it, so this guy had to have 80-something! He said that he had felt amazing at mile 20 and then it just crashed and burned from there and he barely crossed the finish. At the end of the story, he got pretty whistful and said he wished he could still run. I just nodded along, iterated how amazing it was that he ran a marathon, but should said, "hey, you're out here walking!" My grandpa's 85 and pretty active himself, but I'm positive these two men are a rare breed amongst the octogenarians out there! In any case, my present came back to me and I realized that I can be tired at mile 5.5 but no complaining about it missy because right in front of me stands my future. No, not any time soon, God forbid, but eventually. And I'll be out taking an early morning walk being passed by PYTs training for a marathon. I hope I'll be as sweet as this gentleman and ask "how much?"

My eight mile run today was filled with rain and wind rather than inspirational elderly people. Not as fun. And it was tough, so I really could've used an old guy's praises! But I'll have to rely on myself once in awhile I suppose.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Remember a few days ago when I waxed poetic about all the fun healthy food we can eat? Well literally hours later I was as sick as a dog (are dogs known for their illnesses?) with some sort of digestive toxin running rampant through my body. What on God's Green Earth did I eat NOW? If you've been following me for the past couple years (...aaaaand my whole life) I get stomach flu/food poisoning a lot, like at least twice a year, if not more. Everyone's got their 'thing' and mine is bacteria. Colds and flues and stomach bugs are lurking around every corner and there's nothing I can do about matter how healthy I eat and drink. In any case, after this happened so SOON after that blog post, I feel like a huge idiot and had to share. My boyfriend even razzed me about it. He eats several pounds of sugar a day and rarely gets sick. Although I think he's currently feelin' what I was feelin' so it must've been bad. So here I am today taking a risk with my first "real meal" since Monday of turkey and pepper jack on wheat, carrot sticks, apple sauce, (and some kettle chips, don't tell anyone).

For whatever reason over lunch here, I skimmed back in my blog for race posts. Maybe it's because my favorite runner Claire is tackling her first MARATHON tomorrow and I can practically feel her tumbling emotions from way up here in Menomonee Falls! She's put her time and miles in and no matter what happens, she's going to have a blast at this thing!! And that thought made me ponder races in a new way. We all know races are fun; the competition, the people, the fun snacks afterward...all good stuff. But races are seriously the cherry on top of the sundae, particularly for people who really train for something, whether it be finishing a long ass distance or getting a new PR time. It's the reward for all your hard work. My POINT is that I dare say race day excitement is something you have to EARN! I'm looking forward to earning that excitement again. And Claire, grab onto every detail you can've earned the crap out of it! ;)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good food!

So my diet has just been really random for awhile now...somewhere in between really awful and ok. I've gotten into the habit of just saying yes to anything. Do I HAVE to grab a mediocre workplace cupcake? MUST I dump a handful of shredded cheese into my mouth? Am I REALLY hungry when I continue to shovel fries into my fryhole? I'm making it sound worse than it is, but what I really miss are ways to incorporate unique (to me) HEALTHY foods into my menus. Enter two sites that I've recently found; two places I need to use more often: Cooking with Quinoa and No Meat Athlete. [The latter I discovered via J&M's blog!] As I've gushed to pretty much anyone who knows me, quinoa pretty much kicks ass when it comes replacing the same-old, same-old brown, or God-forbid, white rice. It's particularly great when you're cutting meat out of your diet because it's jam-packed with protein.

"But I don't wanna cut meat out of my diet!" That's fine...I had a turkey taco tonight! But yesterday I had black beans, pineapple, red cabbage, spinach, and onion topped with soy sauce/pineapple juice/smoked paprika over brown rice (I'm bringing it back IN after my quinoa rampage last month!) My point is that I've found that when I make vegetarian-centric meals, I feel a lot more adventurous. Meat's expensive too, and I'm a cheap bastard. If you're looking for a place to start, I'm sure at LEAST one of these sounds delicious!!

With my resurgence of running, I've noticed that I'm just not as *there* whilst exercising. "I shouldn't be this tired" I say to myself. So I just don't think I fuel properly before/after...protein, electrolytes, etc. Well, last night I made my own protein bars...the syrup doesn't make it THE healthiest thing in the world at about a TB per bar, so here's No Meat Athlete's version. Definitely going to try it next.

For the past two weeks, running HAS been getting easier. Well not "easier" per se, but less daunting. When I first started and tried SO HARD to eek out a 3miler, I thought: HOW in the HELL am I going to run a half marathon. I don't wanna :( Today I ran 4 and it felt great! Tough, but great! Baby steps ;)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ahhh, there it is!

Ok, backstory, so I started getting back into the whole "running thing" end of January into February. A couple runs here and there. Got sick, took a weekish off, blah blah blah. Honestly, the only real thing that got me going again was the fact that I signed up for the Rock n' Sole Summerfest Half Marathon here in Milwaukee back in...???...well, what feels like ages ago and it was probably about time I start training for it. Yeek! Remember at the beginning of the year, my main focus became OTHERS for once? Well talk about a shot of happy juice! Focusing outward, rather than inward, was just what the doctor ordered! I was able to get out of my head and back into what inspired me to run in the first place: the journeys, goals, trials, tribulations, and SUCCESSES of others!

In any case, you already know this mumbo jumbo and I apologize for boring you with my waxing. I have a point! Up to this juncture of--well, I guess I'm calling it "re-training"...a word I never want to use again!--I've kind of been, let's say, mailing it in? Not that I'm blah about running, but basically I have miles I want to get in, days/hours I can do them in, AND I go to the gym. I mean running on a treadmill? That's about as auto-pilot as you can get! In addition to this mentality, I've also had really difficult runs. Like as in...all of them. No run has been easy or even mild. I always end my runs (and these are 2-4 miles ONLY) extremely winded, tired, and wanting to have stopped a mile or two previously. It just FEELS different than when I used to run. I mean duh, I'm nearly starting from scratch. But I keep on keepin' on and I increase the mph even though it's hard. Like real hard.

Well, my friends, I made it. Huh? Where? What now? Yesterday I ran four miles and it was difficult, but GREAT. It just felt, I don't know...RIGHT! I felt strong and my breath wasn't challenged and winded, but rather strong and...purposeful! I honestly said to myself: ahhhhh there it is. The feeling I had been waiting for, but too scared to chase after because of all the ego hoopla from before. I have this little person in my head that says, "guhhhhmyGOD it's JUST running, who cares?!?!" That same little person was putting me on auto pilot this whole time. Telling me just to DO it and check the emotion at the gym door. Well the bubble has done been busted because I tasted what it was like to be proud of myself again!

One of my last posts discussed mantras and because of Beth's jewelry giveaway, I started to wonder...can I adjust my new mantra "I have never finished a run and wished I hadn't done it" into one single word? I can.


The highest high I ever feel (that's um, natural) is after I finish a run, especially an important one! Like a long distance trainer or a race. It is truly an emotion that transcends this world sometimes.

Afterwards. That's what will get stamped onto my trendy necklace tag if I ever snag one ;) I asked if you have a mantra...well here's a dooze: Do you have one SINGLE word that really speaks to you? (Take your time, I had to think about it!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

My heroes.

Just wanted to give a huge shoutout to the subject of my recent blatherings, Beth Risdon. As I previously wrote, she developed a femoral neck stress fracture six months ago, but remained determined to run Boston today. One of those six months were spent in crutches, several not running, and the brunt taking it as easy as her psyche would allow...her longest training run was 15 miles, a mere two miles over a Half Marathon, with the bulk of her training done in a local pool water-running. Training is only half the battle as it was also Beth's determination, guts, and confidence that got her to Boston. Although she was determined to take this race easy as finishing was her main goal, it's quite possible that the last few miles were totally grueling as her physical state began to break down, and she had to rely on sheer will to carry her the rest of the way. And I can only imagine a fraction of the euphoria that triumphed over the pain and exhaustion she felt as she crossed the finish line. I hope, above all else, she felt an enormous sense of pride!

I really don't know Beth from Henrietta, but following her story has been nothing short of inspirational. It's been said that about 1% of the population will run a marathon in their lifetime. I wonder what percentage of the population daydreams about running a marathon, but...just...doesn't. All I'm saying is that seemingly ginormous goals truly are attainable when we work hard at them. Yeah yeah, cliche, but it's an important piece of the puzzle that is so often trumped by giving into adversity (there's no adversity in my life and I STILL have trouble sticking to my goals!)

In any case, here's to people everywhere who set their sights on a goal that is anything but a sure thing. Here's to people who take risks, who own the trials they may face, who earn their accolades for the work they put in. Thanks for being an inspiration to us all!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Words to live by

Mantras are wonderful things, and you gotta live by mantras that speak personally to you. My usual life mantra is "the sweet is never as sweet without the sour," picked up from Jason Lee's character in Vanilla Sky. Good feels a hell of a lot better when we have a bad batch of bad to compare it to.

Then there's the one I constantly throw around to my friends, family, and total strangers "life is not designed for our comfort, but for our struggle, for in struggle there is growth." And to add to that: I believe growth gives us purpose--something to live for--and I don't know about you, but I find comfort in that!

As for running, the world is bursting with inspirational mottos. But something I found today really hit home for me: yet another gem from SUAR Girl aka Beth Risdon:

"I have never finished a run and wished I hadn't done it."

It's not complicated and it's something I can calmly digest when my alarm goes off at 5:30am. Or when I'm exhausted at the end of a classic Kohl's day and didn't listen to my alarm at 5:30am. Or when a half marathon seems daunting as I'm losing energy at Mile 4.

I've never finished a run and wished I hadn't done it.

No matter how frustrated we get on our runs that don't go so well, deep down we know we're ridiculously awesome for having gotten out there. A few more miles on the old shoes is a badge of honor no matter how shitty we felt that day.

Do you have a personal motto or mantra that helps you get out of your warm oven of a bed or through the hot magma you occasionally feel like you're running in?

[Sidebar: I got a really good motto in an email from running-bud Claire: "Get comfortable with being uncomfortable." Now THAT says running haha!]

Friday, March 25, 2011

If Beth Can Do It...

So somewhere between now and three months ago, I went from 22 to 52 followers. I must've got caught in someone's net back there!

To recap, my promise to myself this year was to take the pressure of all this running and blogging and run-blogging, and instead, be inspiring, be kind, and be mindful of embracing exercise rather than condemning it every two seconds. For the past three months, I've taken up running once again after our breakup. I've been doing something I've always criticized: treadmill running. As part of my journey to walk run in other people's shoes, I've decided to be less critical and more open to the various ways people train. Sure, once I was a super-hardcore/glutton-for-punishment runner in the winter, but I'm ok with putting that aside to run in the [too]warm gym at 6am instead of the bitter elements.

For those of you who have dealt with starting-from-scratch running, you'll be delighted to know that this is precisely how I currently feel about my status as a runner. With my 5k PR at 25:30 (~8:15min miles), this year I can barely do a 5k in under 32 minutes (~10:15min miles). Am I complaining? Maybe a little, but I'm mostly embracing it as a humble experience. It certainly takes the pressure off!

So with that said, it's not Monday, but I am inspired by another one of my fellow run-bloggers. She's practically a celeb in the run-blog world...the Shut Up And Run girl, aka Beth. And while "Shut Up And Run" is a great mantra, because of her backstory, I often find myself using the more-appropriate mantra "What Would Beth Do?" And if you read any of the following references to her blog, you'll find that while she does shut up occasionally, more often she is honest, she is accepting, she never takes herself too seriously, and she is pee-or rather poo-your pants hilarious. By applying all of these qualities to your own life, whether it be in your exercise, your work, or even your relationships with people, I think we could all feel a lot more satisfied with our lives.

(showing me ice-bathing is the way to go)

The Spark Notes version of her story is that she's a Ultra Awesome Boston-Qualified Marathon Runner who got hurt...bad (femoral neck) and hobbled her way through, now, nearly six months of rehab to get where she is today: ready to run the Boston Marathon as she had planned pre-injury. Sure she won't run it as fast as she could've when she qualified. But she's gonna damn-well run it. And probably with a much more positive and engaged mentality than pre-injury to boot!

The [not so?]funny thing is, this has happened to her before. Just a month prior to her injury-announcement, she wrote a post about over-training in which she describes her LAST stress-fracture (this time in her foot) a year ago that put her out for two months. Clearly, my girl is no stranger to running injuries. But as she admits, it can be difficult to not want to push through the pain you aren't supposed to push through. While I can't relate to her stellar marathon skills, I can relate to pushing past the point of good-for-you. Not even physically so much, but mentally. It can wear you a stress fracture of the mind, excuse the cheese ;)

In any case, Beth is a role model to many a runner out there, especially new runners. Despite her injuriEESSS, she takes a moment to mourn, and then gets right back out there. I mean she freaking water-runs and for over an HOUR. Why? Because it's good for you when you can barely walk without crutches that's why!

But honestly, if I thought running on a treadmill was boring, I can hardly imagine what water-running for an hour must be like. Eff running in the bitter cold, THIS is hardcore :)

In an effort to cram-pack this post with as many link-references to Beth's blog, I will leave you with this final post. If you haven't read any of the above, read this, because I think it truly encapsulates Beth's attitude, humility, and perseverance. If you've ever dealt with any set-backs--even if it's just a "mental" stress-fracture--this helps you feel connected're not alone.

What Would Beth Do becomes What Would You Do?

And as Beth quotes:
“If you relax your mind into every situation exactly the way it is and accept that fact without any ifs, ands, or buts, then you can gain peace, self-acceptance, and the ability to allow solutions. Otherwise, you are locked in that place of your past behaviors which created your present reality.” (source)

Monday, January 3, 2011

'Something' Mondays

Ok so I have this idea to, from time to time, feature someone I know who has rocked it out athletically and in a unique way. And since Mondays usually blow, I think Mondays are a good day to feel inspired. But I can't come up with anything punny or cute as a moniker, sooooo ideas are welcome!

Well there are less than two hours left in this week's Monday and I'm determined to get this going! So this week you can be inspired on Tuesday, which--as my dear friend Nicole oft declares--is the new Monday. (I tend to agree.)

The first person who came to mind when I was throwing this whole new outlook together is my running blogger friend Claire. I'm not so sure she'd be thrilled to be up on my pedestal today but tough cookies!!

Anyone that spends any significant time around me has heard of barefoot running. Not because I do it, but because I wanna. Well Claire does it. And not just like to be cool or something. She literally runs barefoot, runs barefoot well, and has even decided to march in a bucket o' gravel to maintain her sweet barefeet (she's not crazy, people do this!) in the "off-season"...I use air quotes because in Claire's world there IS no off-season! She runs in the bitter cold and snow (YUP! Barefoot!)

Our story began last year...she somehow discovered my own blog and it turned out we both were determined to train for our first half marathon despite kinda being newbies to the game, more or less. She always gave me the best pep talks, pep types? Well our Halfs were on the exact same day and it was pretty cool having someone going through the same thing I was that day. Very exciting. Also very cool that we basically got the same time! But speaking of times, what I especially wanted to point out about Claire is that it's not really about numbers and schedules. Oh sure she's got her numbers and schedules! But underneath it all is this absolute FIRE. Her running career isn't completely driven by numbers (like mine might have been), but by this undying passion to run. If anyone ever thought I was motivated, well you've got another think coming. This girl ain't messin!

And guess what? She uses her power for good! She's trained a bunch of newbies to run their first 5Ks...people who never thought they'd ever run. Like ever. She has inspired her own family too! It's like she exudes this addicting running elixir!!! There are some of us out here who inspire people in a general way. These people might say to themselves: "I wish I could do that" or "I should get off my lazy ass like they do." But with Claire, there's no wishing or shoulding or even TRYING. It's freaking go time.

She's Yoda.

And that's what I love. I won't go into her personal deets, but like many she inspires, Claire came from a place where running was daunting. Daunting because of wavering confidence in ability and the effort that would be involved. I think we all can relate to this. If anything is more inspiring than someone taking charge of her life, her health, and passing it on to others with excitement, encouragement, without a smidge of ego, and just enough tenacity to kick you in the ass when you need it...I mean seriously. Can I have a sip??

Have you ever seen Up in the Air? Do you remember the backpack? We can only fit the most important stuff in there before it feels way too heavy and those straps slice into our already burdened shoulders. Well Claire is one of those people I want to keep in my backpack. I want her there for my lowest lows because I will absolutely find my way back up. And I want her there for my highest highs because she will ALWAYS be proud of me. Never jealous or competitive. And she'll keep me grounded!

And that's precisely what I want'Something' Mondays to be about: People I want to take with me. It's not even about running anymore, is it? It's about the kind of person I'd like to be all the time, every time.

Thank you Claire...I hope you continue to inspire others as you've inspired me!

'Obsessed' is how the unmotivated describe the dedicated.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Just another day...

Seeing as it's January 2nd, perhaps I won't feel so cliche about this post today.

Couple things: A few weeks ago I reread the post before this, and was honestly humbled by people who actually cared enough to not only read, but comment on it. So I returned to you a big gooey comment back. Check it out sometime! I've also noticed that there are 22 followers of this blog which boggles my mind. 22 may mean nothing to the likes of awesome mega bloggers like Beth, but to me it's like whoa. Maybe I should give these 22 people something worthwhile to read now and again.

Something worthwhile. Hmmm. What could that possibly be?

Blogs are anything from general updates and life tips to instructional how-to's and what I like to call "blagging" (blog bragging). My favorite type of blogs are obviously streams of consciousness. I feel like I can connect to people who have absolutely no idea what they're doing in life and feel the need to blather on endlessly about it. Definitely my modus operandi, if you will. However, "worthwhile" reading material and streams of consciousness are like oil and vinegar, aren't they? In other words, do I really have anything to add to the world of words? Or am I basically adding to the Too Much Informational Superhighway?

Year One of my running career was humbling and exciting: I soaked up the information others imparted to me in order to learn how to run. Year Two of my running career was very self-centered, and in a way it needed to be so I could reach lofty goals I set for myself. Well Year 3 will bring something entirely different. I've decided that this year I need to run more presently in other people's shoes (or bare feet perhaps!) I need to look through the eyes of those around me rather than focus inward so much. I have to think about how my actions would make other people happy rather than living solely for my own personal gains. 2010 was a super easy year for me. Nothing nightmarish happened and I think it made me lazy. Sometimes Too Much of a Good Thing is not such a good thing and we forgot that "the world isn't designed for our comfort but for our struggle, for in struggle there is growth." Have I grown much this year? Hmmm.....

I fulfilled all of my January 2010 running goals. Did this make me grow? In some ways, sure. I learned to accept physical and mental pain. I learned how to harvest motivation and turn it into discipline. But when all is said and done, why do I feel empty? Why did I feel like a sham? least for me...there's no point to lofty goals and discipline if the only one who really gains anything is me and me alone. I was at the top of the mountain, super excited and proud of myself!! But a few minutes later, I realized there was no one there to keep me company on the long climb down.

This year I'm not going to make any goals except for the following: Absolutely and completely change the way I think about running. Fellow run-blogger Maggie posted a contest to win a necklace that simply states "Love to Run." Mentioning said contest is not my way of picking up another entry. Her contest got me thinking about how I'm the last person in the running world that deserves something like this around my neck. Thus, what I must do this year is earn it, figuratively speaking. I need to look at running in a completely new way. This includes, but is definitely not limited to the following:

1. Inspire rather than brag. Practice sincerity and altruism rather than kindness for the sake of personal gain.

2. Run for others, whether for charity or to simply help out a beginner or someone who is struggling.

3. Embrace exercise as a way to celebrate the physical life that I've been given and connect to others who feel the same way, rather than close myself off and treat running like a Me and Me Alone experience.

4. Above all else, look at the world as someone who needs a best friend. As sappy Saccharin thanks-for-making-me-vom-in-my-mouth as this sounds, I'm very serious! This world needs more people who care about it.

And I'm also very serious about this change and it's pretty frightening because I know how difficult it will be. 31 years young and I can already say I'm pretty set in my ways. I can be a real sarcastic asshole sometimes. (Sarcastic assholes can be pretty hilarious though, am I right?!) At the end of the day though, I have to happy with what I'm putting out there in the world...which brings us FULL CIRCLE to how I started this thing (I knew we'd get there!)

If I find something worthwhile to tell you about...something unbraggy, inspirational, or wise...I'll write about it. This year my blog won't be so much about schedules, personal records, and race recaps. Rather I want to focus outward...I want to celebrate you and celebrate what it means to be an inspiration. I'm going to need some BIG TIME help though, I definitely can't do this alone. So keep an eye out for my extended hand!

Good luck to everyone and their goals this year. I know several who are attempting their first Super Lofty Goal: marathons, barefoot races, Ironmans, oh my!! I promise to be in your corner cheering YOU on for once!