On the Move for Two

“If what you did yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.” – Wid Matthews, Chicago Cubs

Last year was full of accomplishments, I never thought possible.  In December 2009 we welcomed our first born, a perfect baby girl (labor was the biggest endurance event I have ever been apart of).  Most of my friends have been determined to be the perfect mom after giving birth.  Not me, I wanted to be a better athlete, which in return would make me a better mother, wife, and trainer.  As mom, I need to feel good about myself.  I lost so much of who I was in my daughter.  It was imperative for me to feel confidant about me once again.  Most might think I took an extreme approach in feeling better about myself.  I was determined to qualify for Boston, run Boston, complete two marathons within two weeks of each other, and attempt a 50 mile race.  I did just that and I did feel like myself once more.  It was one of the best years of my life.  I learned a lot about parenting, who I was, training programs, and nutrition.

Now I am focusing on baby number two, who will join our family September 2012.  I am beyond excited to see what life has to bring with two children, coaching, and training.  I envision a lot of coffee and very little sleep (but I know it will all be worth it).  I have began mapping out my race schedule for 2013 and on into 2014 (yes, my husband thinks I am out of my mind.  However, he always supports me and my crazy adventures).  My goals are another 50 miler, qualifying for the New York City Marathon, Ironman Louisville, and completing the NYC Marathon.  After that, who knows, maybe baby number three and a 100 mile race!

Post 10K, making omelets! - 4 months pregnant

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Do it!

“Tough times don’t last but tough people do.”  –  A.C. Green

Over the past 6 years I have ran many marathons and countless road races.  I have continued to PR but for some reason it’s not as satisfying as it once was.  After Boston I began searching for my next great adventure.  Initially I wanted to run the Indy marathon in hopes to PR with a finishing time of 3:20 or better.  However, I wasn’t excited about pounding the pavement for the following 4 months.  I recently began trail running which rarely leaves me in pain (much different than road running).  When I am on the trails I am not concerned with pace or miles.  Instead I am engulfed by the beauty of nature.  I do not have to be on the lookout for cars trying to run me over or people hogging the sidewalks.  It’s just me and the sound of the great outdoors.  Why in the world would I want to run another road race when I can run the trails and save my legs? 

My plans for the fall changed, dramatically.  My husband and I are venturing down to Atlanta, GA for the North Face Endurance Challenge, a 50 mile run on October 15th.  I have called on local ultra marathoners for advice.  All of them have offered the same pointers; run back to back long runs every Saturday and Sunday, don’t care about your pace, pack dry socks and shoes, run with real food not just gels, drink lots of water, if they offer a chair don’t sit (you may never get up again) and have a good damn time.  They all said it is easier to recover from an ultra than a marathon; due to the effort exerted and the terrain.  Over the course of 50 miles I do not plan on going all out (like I do during a marathon).  I plan to enjoy the experience and the opportunity to run 50 miles.  We were built to run but our lives have become stationary.  I welcome the chance to run free and see what my feet are made of.   

Today do something different!  Happy running!

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Starting Young

“Live free, live happy!”

As a child I grew up on a beautiful horse farm in the middle of Oldham County Kentucky.  I spent hours outside running, fishing, taking mini adventures through the woods, biking, playing in the creek, making mud pies and digging for worms.  I spent few hours indoors watching T.V.  I loved every second of it!  At times I wished I had neighbors to play with but for the most part I was excited to be alone and able to run free.  Now that I have a daughter of my own I find myself looking for ways to integrate the same life style.  We live in an urban area filled with sidewalks, traffic and strange people.  I am lucky she wants to spend most of her time outside.  No matter the weather she will stand at the front door while banging on the glass begging to be set free.  My husband and I take her out no matter what (whether it is cold, rainy, hot, sunny or cloudy).  We let her determine what we do.  Sometimes she brings all of her toys out of the house one by one, other times we play in a small weighted pool, but most of the time we walk.  My daughter is only 16 months but can walk/run indefinitely.  A couple of weeks ago we walked to Kroger’s, we tried to place her in the stroller but she would not have it.  We took the stroller just in case she would get tired.  She pushed it all the way to Kroger’s and back.  We walked roughly 1.5 miles and she was able to keep up with a big smile plastered on her face.  Granted we stopped (a lot) along the way.  She loves to collect rocks (if you were to visit our house you would have to watch every step you took in order to avoid the rocks scattered about).   She randomly stops to pick up rocks and she places them in the lower basket on the stroller (her face says it all, she looks very proud of every single one she finds).  We do not force her in to these journeys, she willing wants to go.  I hope this never changes. 

One Saturday afternoon we walked to Heine Brothers to get a cup of coffee and have snack time.  As we were sitting outside enjoying the day a woman began talking with us.  She asked the strangest question, “What is her favorite cartoon?”  My child is not even 2 yet and this is the question someone chose to ask us.  My husband and I chuckled and responded in unison, “She doesn’t have one.  We rarely watch T.V.”  The woman was taken a back and smiled.  She seemed shocked and finally said, “Oh, well that’s nice,” in an unsure way.  I think it is fine for children to watch T.V. however I personally enjoying spending interactive time with my daughter.  I hope as she grows and develops she wants to participate in sports and running.  I don’t believe a healthy happy child has to partake in organized sports to be athletic.  I thinks their development as an athlete starts young with playing outside, taking walks (not sitting in a stroller), and doing whatever they want that does not include sitting. 

I recently read a great article in Running Times (June 2011 issue 387) titled Can Too Many Miles Ruin Young Runners? By Jonathan Beverly.  In short the answer is no.  He references a young athlete, Alana Hadley, who is 14 years old and logs about 70-75 miles a week.  A lot of people, runners, coaches, and parents are weighing in on her accumulated mileage.  Most of them question if her training program will affect her growth and biomechanical development.  They also wonder if she will burn out before she graduates high school.  Scientist, doctors, elite trainers and coaches do not believe the high mileage will negatively affect her in anyway (the article provides a great deal of scientific research to back up their conclusion).  It goes onto discuss why adults think Alana’s training is a bad thing.  When the average adult runs too far or too hard with poor mechanics, they view running as difficult and challenging; therefore they would not want to inflict this pain onto children.  A large amount of adults and children view running as punishment (coaches’ make kids run if they have a bad practice or don’t pay attention and most adults run to lose weight).   Another reason is our country as a whole has become unfit which forces us to question if running 70 miles a week is safe for a teenager.  Children have tons of energy and they are ready and willing to unleash it in any way possible, why not let them through running?  In countries such as Kenya children run 5 to 6 miles a day (because their feet are their transportation).  Their running ability is formed as a child through physical activity and developed as a teenager through intense training.  This combination causes them to adapt into extremely efficient runners (with an amazing VO2 Max).  If you are a parent or work with kids I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

I will continue to allow my daughter to spend hours outside running around and playing in the dirt.  It is amazing to watch her little body move so quickly and efficiently as she picks up speed.  She is the happiest when she is outside playing.  She is independent and seems to enjoy discovering the great outdoors.  I look forward to the day when we can take her to Red River Gorge to hike and camp.  Let kids be kids and teach them about leading an active life.  Allow them to connect with the earth. We live in a time where everyone is connected to a computer, T.V., internet, Playstation, or phone.  Sometimes we all need to disconnect and get outside.  Playtime is meant for interaction with my child.  She gets 100% of my attention while developing her tiny body.  Here’s to playing outside!

always happiest outside

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go (RUN or at least TRI)

“Congratulations!  Today is your day!  You’re off to great places!  You’re off and away!” – Dr. Seuss

As of late the only book my 16 month old wants to read is Oh, the Places You’ll Go.  No matter where my husband or I place the book, she always seems to find it.  Before bed we head back to her room, allow her to pick a book, sit in the rocking chair and read until she falls asleep.  Her choice of course is the same every night.  I now know the book by heart.  I found myself re sighting lines as I run.  I was given the book 11 years ago as a graduation gift.  The first time I read it I thought of the great college experiences I would encounter and the wonderful career I would except.  Now as I read the words to my daughter they seem to take on new meaning.

The words are expressed simply with a strong realistic message.  Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.  Except when you don’t.  Because, sometimes, you won’t.  I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you…… All Alone! Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.  Life is tough and sometimes it works in our favor and other times it does not.  It seems the toughest decision we encounter we have to face alone (Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind).  The same hold strue while running.  During every race and every training run at points I feel mighty and at points I feel flighty (oh, I’ve been reading too many Dr. Seuss books).  No matter what I am feeling or at what mile I am feeling it I know I at some point I will finish (whether I cross the finish line running, walking, or crawling).  It may get tough along the way but I will bear down all alone and get through it anywayAs I grow tired and fatigued I think to myself,  And will you succeed?  Yes! You will, indeed!  (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed).

Competing is filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  At some point pain and doubt sets in (although I am trained and capable, it typically comes around mile 18+).  Something inside continues to tell me, “NO!”  At times I argue with myself in my head, back and forth, “You can do this!  No you can’t!  Yes I can!  Not this time, not this race!”  And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.  I begin to focus on other things than the task at hand, running.  I listen to the cheer of the crowed, the people around me racing, the chirping of the birds, the wind, and my feet hitting the ground.  I begin to pick apart my form; are my feet beneath my hips, am I slightly leaning forward, am I striking the ground with enough force, are my arms crossing the center of my body, are my shoulders relaxed and so on.  Then I begin to image my daughter.  For some reason I always picture her playing on the beach in a little bikini with her red curly hair blowing in the wind.  The image brings a smile to my face and calms me every time.  It’s almost as good as seeing her in real life.  After plenty of “mind wondering,” I begin to gain confidence through strength once more and I am ready to run like never before.  I know my second wind is coming!   Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky!

The same high I felt at the beginning of the race returns for my last kick.  I become unstoppable!  The most incredible and liberating feeling in the world is entering the chute of a race.  The fans and music amplify with each step towards the finish.  The moment I have waited for during all my training runs is approaching, lasting only a split second.  I cross the finish line, the moment my foot hits the chip timer all my hard work has come to an end (and damn, it has paid off)!  I am ready for my next moment!  So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way! 

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Run to, throo, and home from the Zoo

I saw an amazing image this morning during a local 5K race.  I watched as a father and son finished a 5K as a team.  The duo worked together to complete the hilly goal.  The young boy (who appeared to be around 7/8 years old) ran the race with the help of a walker and his father pushing from behind.  He had limited use of his lower extremities forcing him to put the bulk of his weight onto his walker through the use of his arms.  His father aided him by guiding from behind.  I was talking to a few friends as I heard the crowed grow louder, I looked up to see the astonishing duo.  They were both working equally as hard.  I could see the sweat and determination on both their faces as they advanced towards the finish line.  Tears filled my eyes as I step closer and began cheering.  I clapped and yelled as loud as I could.  What a fascinating moment to witness!  As they passed the young boy was wearing a shirt which read, “No passing zone.”  I smiled to myself and thought what a cute play on words.

Running takes everything inside of a person no matter the distance.  I am in all when I see individuals (especially children) with limited use of their bodies competing.  I thought about the love a father must have for their child to take the time to train with them and then compete with them.  My heart melted as I almost lost it completely.  I am unable to sum up in words the impression those two men left on me.

As I ran home I thought about them the entire way and the courage it took them to get into race shape.  So many people focus on the distance, “Oh, it’s just a 5K,” but every distance is challenging in it’s own way.  Racing is not about moving mountains it is about taking one step at a time.  Who cares how far it is from point A to B or how long it takes one to get there?  It’s about showing up on race day when everyone else is in bed.   It takes grit and gut to put it all out there while others watch.  Kudos and congratulations to everyone who showed up at the Run Throo the Zoo 5K (especially to the fearless father and son).

she woke up just before i left to wish me good luck and kiss me good bye

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Oh, The Hustle and Bustle of Life

Similar to most mornings, I found myself running around our home gathering my things for work (bag – check, lunch – check, snacks – check, water – check, keys – check, and most importantly coffee- check).  Within 5 minutes I am saying my good byes’, dashing out of the door and on the road to work.  Upon reaching my car I finally bask in the moment by taking a deep breath and a sip of coffee, awe the glory (this is the only calm part of my day).  Like most working moms, my mornings are filled with stuff surrounding my daughter (it’s always a battle to get her dressed, change her diaper, feed her, and leave the house).  Nothing is easy (which I secretly enjoy).  I try my hardest to wake up at 5am for a morning run (I am not always successful).  I hate the getting out of bed part but I love running the quite streets of Louisville and watching the sun rise.  It’s very peaceful.  I love listening to the birds chirp as I run through the stillness of the morning.  I was sad I missed my morning date (but such is life with a kid).  

I am fortuned enough to work near a park and receive an hour lunch break (thank God).  I packed my running shoes and hit the park today.  Instead of running the loop I opted for the trails.  This was my second encounter with them and I am falling in love.  I would normally not use the word fun and running in conjunction but trail running is fun.  It’s so much fun in fact, I completely forget I am running.  The act of trail running requires a great deal of attention which distracts from the physical excretion.  I ran over roots, climbed muddy hills, dodged tree limbs, scramble around debris, ran across a small creek, and listened to the sounds of animals moving about as I ran by.  It was just what I needed after a hectic morning followed by a stressful day at the office.  The sun felt incredible against my skin (I wanted to take in as much vitamin D as possible).  I often think about living in the days before cars, office jobs, electricity, computers, phones and name brand things, when I am running.  At times I wish I lived during those eras.  Things were simple yet challenging without unnecessary burdens (such as text messaging).  I wish I could be outside all day every day; exploring and experiencing what our planet has to offer (these are the weird thoughts my mind drifts off too).  When my body finally stopped I was renewed.  All was fine in my world.  I could return to work ready to take on any challenge.  I just need a date with my running shoes and time alone with my thoughts.

 If you have time take a break and run.

 Training log

4 mile trail at base pace

2 mile recovery run (later in day)

 Resistance Workout

1 set each

Lying Hip Abd (10 each side)

Cook Hip Lift (10 each side)

Kneeling Overhead Draw-In (5)

Knee Fall-Out (10)

Squat Jump (12)

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The Will To Keep Going

We told our guys to hold on for 30 minutes of agony for 12 months of glory.
Coach John McDonnell, after Arkansas won the 1993 Ncaa Cross Country title

Since the completion of the Boston and Derby Marathon I have been asked by multiple people, “How did you keep going?  How did you not walk? How did you maintain pace?”  The answer is simple now that I am removed from the agonizing pain of running back to back marathons.  I never give myself a choice or option to quit.  The moment I question what I am doing doubt sets in.  If I never allow myself to have the option to quit or walk I will only have the option to continue on.  There are no choices during a race or training for me.  I know I must run from point A to point B, it’s that simple.  When the pain sets in I ignore it, when I feel I am pacing too fast I slow down, when I doubt my ability I tell myself it’s almost over, when I think about stopping I picture my daughter, and when I want to meet a goal I push as hard as I can to obtain it (no matter what).  I ran 2 marathons in hopes I could finish both (no time goal initially).  If I could finish 2 within 2 weeks I could focus on an Ultra in the fall.  I finished better than I expected (in a lot more pain than expected too, post Derby).  The crowd support helps as well, but for the most part running is a solo sport.  No one can take away the pain or motivate to continue moving forward, only the runner.  I find running to be extremely emotional (especially a first marathon).  Distance running takes dedication and drive.  Not everyone can tell their self to keep going when the going gets tough.  I have learned if I want to run like Dean, Marshall and all those other crazy ultra marathon men I must never give in.  I will fight tooth and nail all the way to the finish line.  This is how I run without stopping, walking and allow my body to maintain pace.  I do not willing quit.

I am amazed at the amount of people who find what I did challenging (and some have even used the word amazing, of course I am flattered).  There are Ultra marathoners who run 100+ miles without sleep and most recently a man ran a crossed America in 75 days (the same man also ran 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days).  I ran 2 marathons 10 days apart (giving me a little time to recover).  Compared to the men who have come before me, I did not do much.  I have found most people are intrigued by my finishing times rather than the time in between the races, I ran both races at the same pace (3:32).  I made 2 stops which lasted a minute and a half (roughly) during the Derby marathon (I would have beat my Boston time on fatigued legs had I not stopped).  I am very pleased I ran both because I now know I am capable of so much more on fresh legs.  I held back in Boston because of the hills and I can’t help but wonder what if…….

I have always been a fighter when it comes to things important to me (my family, friends, sports, work and so on).  I have never been one to give up or throw in the towel.  Over the years I have grown eager to break my PR each time out.  As I age I am aware of my capabilities as a distance runner.  After reading many books regarding running great distances I know the human body can handle more than we give it credit for.  Although I began my running journey almost 6 years ago I feel as if I am just beginning.  At first the goal was finishing then improving and now it’s about the distance I am capable of enduring.

If you just ran your first 5K, 10K, half or full keep pushing forward.  Have fun with it, welcome new relationships, and set small goals as you go.  Running can take you everywhere!  Remember when the going gets tough keep picking your feet up and placing one foot in front of the other.  Never give in to the temptation to quit (it is not an option).  Happy Running!

Training Log:

Dynamic Stretching 5 minute warm-up

2 mile warm-up at recovery pace

2X30 second hill repeats at a relaxed sprint speed

2 mile cool-down at recovery pace

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