Category Archives: Running and Fitness

Everyone Needs a Coach

I strongly believe that everyone needs a coach; someone who instructs, trains and directs you to achieve a specific goal. Coaches can come in many forms such as parents, athletic coaches, financial advisers, health coaches or spiritual leaders.
I can’t deny the enormous benefits I’ve received from having several coaches in my life. As an entrepreneur, our business coach has helped us navigate the ups and downs of business ownership. Our pastor, who is our spiritual coach teaches, encourages and guides us along our faith walk. As a Chiropractic Physician, I coach my patients along their health journey; not only helping them through their pain crisis, but also providing them with the tools they need to express optimal health.

Recently I decided to utilize the services of another coach, but first, here’s why. About 12 years ago I completed my first race; the Disney Marathon (26.2 miles). I literally went from couch to marathon with very little training. To make a long story short, I ran most of the race in excruciating pain.  (Notice the huge “ice pack” bulge on my right knee in the picture below.) The recovery was also long and brutal. After I foolishly signed up for and completed a half marathon (13.1) the next year, I made the decision that I didn’t like running. In fact, I stopped running completely.

disney-mara-2005-collage

Fast forward to 2012, three years after relocating to a new area, I decided to give running another shot. I joined two running clubs as a way to stay active and meet new people. Starting slowly with low mileage seemed to be a better fit for me. I eventually ran my first 5K. Since then, I’ve run a variety of races including 7 half marathons. Although over the years I’ve grown to enjoy running, one prevailing thought remained; I had no desire to ever run a marathon again…even after watching many of my friends train for and run their first marathon.

At the beginning of this year, however, I started thinking about the possibility of attempting the marathon distance again (long story). The thought persisted and I gradually convinced myself to take on the challenge. I registered for the Disney Marathon again…why Disney?… I have something to prove :-).  Plus I hope to replace the negative memories associated with my painful  first race with  more positive ones.

coaching2

Having had success with coaches in other areas of my life, I knew that if I wanted to also succeed at training and completing a marathon, I needed a coach. I sought the services of Coach Tia from Training In Action. The experience so far has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve been running consistently under her guidance and direction since July. I decided that during this process, I was going to be coach-able. Although I understand the anatomy, bio-mechanics and physiology of the body, I also understood that I needed to rely on her experience and expertise regarding running (and boy! is she an experienced expert having run several marathons and over 100 half marathons!!). I decided beforehand that I was going to follow her recommendations and stick to the plan.

She’s challenged my perspective on what I thought I could or couldn’t do… It turns out, I could do ‘it’ . So far, I’ve met or exceeded most of the goals that she’s set for me and have been injury free throughout the process. In fact, I’ve run my fastest 3 miler, 5 miler and half marathon…ever.  Although I still have about a month before completing this marathon, I’m becoming more excited and confident with each passing week. Having the right coach does that for you. All of a sudden something that once seemed difficult or unattainable, now seems possible and within reach.

Coaches are experts in their field. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge; and more importantly, they desire to help you to succeed. Set your goal and get a coach to help you achieve it.

  • Be coach-able
  • Follow the plan
  • Be flexible and open to change

If you’re already living your dream, become a mentor to someone and coach them through to accomplishing their goal.

In what area have you utilized the services of a coach? What was your experience?

Ragnar Keys. Teamwork makes the dream work

As you all know (because I’ve been talking about it forever), I along with 11 other team mates, (all members of the group Black Girls Run!) completed the Ragnar Relay in Key West last weekend. There is so much to share, but I don’t want to do multiple post, so I’ll try to summarize it here.

The basics:

We were a 12 member team who took turns running 198 miles, relay style from Miami to Key West. Each runner ran a set amount of miles, then tagged the next runner and so on. We ran 3 different legs each. We were divided in two vans based on the legs we’d be running. We also had an additional non running driver for each van. Runners 1-6 were in van 1, runners 7-12 were in van 2. I was runner 11.

Ragnar team H&S

This was our very first Ragnar experience so we were pretty green. The race started in waves and we had the earliest start time possible…  the 5 am start. After a safety briefing, we cheered as runner 1 took off, then our van drove ahead to meet them at the exchange area where van 2 would take over.

My first leg:

After waiting for runners 1-10 to finish, by the time my turn came to run my first leg, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. My first leg was labeled “Hard 5.9 miles”. I blogged about kicking butt at Ragnar… Well, I’d have you know that the only butt kicked was mine. That distance is usually a piece of cake for me, but not at Ragnar. It was about 90 degrees, but it felt like 110. My run started on a gravel road…very difficult for me to run fast. I felt every rock and stone under my feet. I’m used to running in the Florida heat, but this was different. There was absolutely no shade. The sun was giving me such a beat down, I was begging for mercy. ( A week later and I’m still sporting my Ragnar tan lines :) . I quickly depleted my hand-held hydration. It was brutal and I was mentally unprepared for it.The team met me at 3.5 miles to give me water…I scarfed down half the bottle and poured the rest on my head. It felt like I’d been running for 20 miles.

Ragnar exchange 1 Collage

When a team member is out running, the rest of the team offers van support along the way by giving hydration, a cool towel, energy supplements etc. So there’s basically no rest for the runners on or off the pavement.

Ragnar highlightsCollage

Every one pretty much had a death match with the heat.  Some of my team mates ran in the Everglades, in the dust, near the swamps, with the snakes and gators, during the wee hours of the night…

My second leg was an easy 2.9 miles. It was a welcomed one. It was supposed to be during the dark early morning hours, but because the team fell behind with such a difficult first leg, it pushed my run to the break of dawn. Hallelujah. The sun was just coming up and it was a tad bit cooler. I was able to keep with my expected pace and ran this leg with no issues… Soon it was van 1’s turn again.

A highlight:

While van 1 ran, van 2 had an opportunity to “rest”. We headed to a high school gymnasium (a rest area designated by the race directors). We were able to pay $3.00 to shower in a filthy, nasty bathroom with weak water pressure and barely any warm water. It was the best $3.00 I spent in a long time :) .

Finally, it was time for us to finish our final 6 legs (about 19 miles)…which would have been perfect except (because of the unexpected delays) we had to rush to beat the 8:00pm finish line cut off. Now it wasn’t about making a certain time, it was about avoiding disqualification. By this time, we’d covered a total of about 180 miles. Extremely tired and delirious, we had to give it all we had to finish on time.

All Heart.

This was one example were the spirit of our team shone through. One of our runner was injured. She had already completed over 16 miles in excruciating pain and her final leg was less than 2 miles. The way the team stepped up was amazing. One teammate ran her leg, while another runner gave up her own easy leg and took a harder leg so that the driver…can you believe it? Our driver stepped up and ran a leg.

My final and fastest leg:

I still had another 3.5 miles to go, over a bridge with no van support. After 36 hours of extreme fatigue and little food, I ran my third and fastest leg. It took everything we had, but we did it. We left it all on the pavement and reunited with the entire team to cross the finish line together.

Teamwork really made this dream work. 

Ragnar offical finish pic edited

This was my experience in a nut shell. It was an amazing experience with an incredible group of women and an awesome team captain. Initially I vowed never to do it again, but after getting a good night’s rest, I’m thinking about ways to better prepare for the next one.

  • Have you ever or would you ever run a Ragnar Relay?
  • Would you pay $3.00 to shower?
  • What was your most difficult endurance experience?

From Wogging to Jogging

On my last post I mentioned that one of my goals was to run my best and my fastest at Ragnar next month by maintaining the 11 min/mile required for our team. I realize that for some folks, an 11min/mile isn’t that fast. But for me that pace is achievable only for a 3 miles or less, but anything longer than that is a “kick butt”  pace for me. iRUN collage

Somewhat recently (about 9 months ago), I set a goal  to become a faster runner. Of course, the word “faster” is relative. When I began training for my first and last marathon (26.2 miles) 10 years ago, the goal was to get moving. Speed was never an important factor for me. So I took it slow… and by slow I mean molasses slow…like a turtle in peanut butter slow.. you get my drift. Slow got me across the finish line in 6hrs 28min and I was happy with that.

Two years ago when I started running again consistently (after giving it up for nearly 8 years), “slow” was still ingrained in my running DNA. I enjoyed running wogging (jogging so slow I might have well be walking) 5 miles at a 13+ pace. I could laugh and talk and not get too winded. In the end I burned a few hundred calories, broke a nice sweat and felt accomplished.

It wasn’t until about 9 months ago after signing up for Ragnar Key West  (200 mile overnight relay race) that I realized my kind of slow was not going to cut it. The team is required to have an overall 11 minute pace. I was in trouble! So I enlisted the help of a running coach and signed up for several races to keep me motivated. The coach, in addition to giving me a running plan, monitored my progress weekly and made modifications and suggestions as needed.Two of the most important lessons he taught me was 1. Run Faster 2: Don’t take walk breaks just because you’re tired. That was foreign to me. Why would I want to run faster and ruin my fun? Being tired seemed like the perfect reason for a walk break. My coach advised that brief walk breaks should be predetermined…such as for water stations. Ok, I get it… I think.

Anyway, once I began applying those two principles, running changed for me. The conversations and laughter pretty much was exchanged for regular  breathlessness and side stitches. Leisure runs became the exception, not the norm. Running was no longer as fun for me, but it became so much more rewarding. My 13+ pace for longer miles is now a low 11 and sub 10 when I push. It wasn’t easy, but I’m excited with the progress I’ve made from “wogging” to actually jogging :) Hopefully next stop: Running…fast!

So I’m excited that next month I’ll have an opportunity to put all my training to the test when I complete my 3 legs (about 16 miles total) running with an overall 11 minute/mile pace.

This year I want to maintain a sub 11 running pace, diversify my workouts by adding more strength training (which I’ve recently fallen in love <3 with BODYPUMP) and fun classes like spinning and Zumba.

Ragnar was my motivation for achieving a faster running pace. It was a constant physical reminder of the goal I wanted to achieve.

  • What’s your motivator for achieving your goal? It doesn’t have to be fitness related…
  • Are you a wogger, a jogger or a runner?

New Year, New goals.

Every new year many of us are inspired to make resolutions and set new goals. I stopped making “New Years Resolutions” several years ago, but each year I’m inspired to set new goals and work on plans to achieve them. This year I’ve decided to set 12 clear and distinct goals…one for each month. Having a goal for each month will help me remain focused on my specific plans to achieve each goal…although there are some goals that may require several months to accomplish and/or maintain. Not only have I made personal goals, we’ve set a few goals that involves the entire family. In this post, I’ve decided to share some of my personal and family goals as they relate to health and fitness.

JanuaryWeight Loss. Although I’m within my “healthy weight range” for my height, I can stand to lose some weight…20 lbs will put me at the lower range. I haven’t done much or focused my efforts to lose weight. But last year with the help of Joi and her weight loss challenge, I lost 10 lbs. in 90 days (with minimal to no effort). I didn’t follow the plan (for good reasons) so I didn’t even realize that I had lost 10 lbs in the 90-day time frame until I received an email. So I imagine if I put some real effort in, I can lose 10 more in 30 days… by January 31. So far, I’m down 2 3.5  :)

FebruaryRagnar. If you’ve been following this blog, you might be aware that I’m a part of a 12 member Ragnar team  “Heart and Sole” who will be running relay style from Miami to Key West. Yep. That’s about 200 miles. My goal is to “kick butt” and run my best and fastest while staying within the required 11 min/mile. I’m scheduled to run on a gravel road, canal path, run in the heat of the day (1pm-ish) and in the early morning (4am-ish). Our T-shirt was designed by one of our super talented team mates.

BGR Ragnar KEYs

And oh yeah, I’ll be celebrate turning the big 40 all month-long :)

MarchGluten Free. My family decided to go on a 3 month gluten-free diet beginning January 1st. March will conclude our 3 month goal so that we can evaluate the effects of a gluten-free diet on our overall health. It hasn’t been that easy because wheat is found in so many things, but we’re on track. Personally, I think it’s contributing to my weight loss so far.

AprilFamily 5K. We’ve decided to participate in more out-door activities as a family. Which means spending more time at the park, riding our bikes, playing sports and running together. Over the next several months, we’ll be working on building up endurance so that our soon to be 4 and 7-year-old children can participate in a 5K race along with me and my husband. Last year the kids got a taste of racing when they participated in the Gasparilla  Junior Classic kids fun race. They’ve been asking to run with me, so they’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that. I’m super stoked about this one.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

May – November is chucked full of those small, bite-sized goals with multiple check points along the way to make sure I’m on track to reaching them. Most of these goals are personal goals relating to spiritual, marital, business and financial matters. Maybe in the future I’ll share some as they are accomplished.

DecemberRun a marathon (26.2 miles). Wait! Before you get excited for me, this is NOT my goal. Been there. Done that. One and done! But I have to include this because my beloved husband has decided to run his first marathon. Whoot Whoot! It’s been a goal of his since I completed my first marathon 10 years ago. He supported me and saw the time and effort that I put in and said he wanted to do one too. I think after seeing how much pain I was in afterwards, he backed off.lol. But after I completed the Space Coast Half Marathon in December and bragged about what an awesome course and experience it was, he decided that he’d train to run the Space Coast Full Marathon in December.

These are some my/our health and fitness goals for this year. I made several small goals, wrote them down, developed a plan to accomplish each, have checkpoints along the way and once they’ve been accomplished I’ll either maintain or set new goals.

  • Do you make and keep resolutions?
  • What are your health and fitness goals?
  • Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

 

I-4/Selmon Connector 5K Race Recap

I said that I wouldn’t recap my final two races of the year, but I changed my mind about one. It was such a great experience, I had to share.

On Saturday I ran the I-4/Selmon Connector 5K. The I-4/Selmon Connector is a highway project that connects the two expressways. After three years and 400 million dollars, the project is finally complete. To celebrate, the Tampa Port Authority and the Florida Department of Transportation decided to give 1000 runners a once in a lifetime opportunity to run the new highway before it opened to the public. I quickly jumped at the chance to be a part of history before even considering that I’d be running ALL bridge at 90 feet above ground. Guess who’s uncomfortable with heights. Yep. Me.

The more internet pictures I saw, the more I freaked myself out and wondered should I have committed to this run. The night before, I could not sleep due to nervous energy.

i4connector

The Event

The morning of the run was a cool, overcast 68 degrees. The organizers provided shuttles that took us from the Port of Tampa to the connector ramp. The shuttle service was very organized and consistent. After a somewhat brief ceremony and ribbon cutting, it was time to run.

I4connector my pic

One of my Ragnar running partner decided to pace me. Lord why? The course started with an incline. For nearly 3/4 of a mile we were running up, up, up before finally reaching a gradual decline and turn around point. After the turn around, it was more of the same. The view was actually breath-taking as opposed to frightening like I thought in would be. It was really neat seeing the city from that vantage point.

I made a couple of quick stops to take pictures, but with my running drill sergeant friend at my side, I didn’t have time to worry about height nor incline, I had a race to run. Lean in, short strides going up hill, long stride, fast pace going down. I had to catch my breath a few times, but I kept going…side stitches and all. 3.1 miles later, it was finished and I had a new 5K personal record.

I4Connector Collage

There were lots of media attention pre and post race. I even saw me running in a few segment later on the local news. It’s a cool feeling to know that I crossed that bridge on foot.

  • Have you ever participated in something just for the historic nature of it?
  • Are you afraid of heights?

 

The Space Race Recap

Last week I ran the 42 Annual Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon. This was my fourth half marathon, 3 in the last year. I enjoyed this one the most. I loved that it’s the only space themed race and that the expo was held at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. I was able to meet Olympian, author and founder of the Run Walk Run method, Jeff Galloway.

Space Coast collage

I also loved that the race organizers started a 5 year “Big Bang Series”.  Each year for 5 years, the race medal will represent one of the 5 fully operational orbiter spaceships: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavor and Atlantis. The Columbia and Challenger were destroyed in mission accidents. This year’s medal commemorated Columbia.

space coast bling

In my last race recap, I talked about getting up at 3:30am to drive to the race location. Well, for this race, we drove two hours the night before and spent the night in a host hotel…I still had to wake up at 3 am to catch the 4:15 shuttle to the starting line.

I was rocking my Black Girls Run! gear. BGR! is an organization that was formed in an effort to “tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners”. The popularity of the organization is so great that random women wanted to take pictures of and with me in my BGR! gear as a show of support.

Starting Line: The half marathon start was at 6 am and the marathon was at 6:30. The excitement was palpable. I loved that the countdown to the start was a video countdown of an actual rocket launch…complete with smoke and sound effect.

Space Coast start line

The course: The course was “fast and flat”, out and back. It had a wonderful coastal view the majority of the way. The weather was cool and overcast… perfect race day weather. I decided to do the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method by running for 30 seconds/walking 30 seconds. My summer training consisted of continuous running with minimal walk breaks. But a few weeks prior to this race I started to experience burn out and fatigue while running…so I switched to the Galloway method.

I felt great the first 8 miles. I was able keep a steady, consistent pace. By mile 9, I started to get tired and somewhat bored with the stop and go. My pace slowed and I had to fight the strong head wind on the way back. But as I approached the 13th mile, hearing the cheers. The energy was revitalizing. I abandoned the run-walk and ran the final half mile in. Even with waling half of the race, I managed to shave a full 9 minutes off my last half marathon time.

Space Coast finish collage

The post race amenities were great. Besides the beautiful bling pictured above, we received a nice beach towel, cold wet rag to cool us off, egg and pancake breakfast, pizza and lots of other good eats and fine treats.

I have two more races to close out 2013. December 21, I’ll be doing the Say No to Drugs 10K and Run the Connector 5K on the 28 to celebrate the opening of the new $420 million local transportation connector. I will not be doing race recaps on those :) .

  • What are your exercise plans to wrap up the year?
  • Have you ever visited the Kennedy Space Center?
  • Ever heard of/ or tried Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run method?

 

5K…Fun K race recap.

I hope every one had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I’m still recovering from a half marathon I complete yesterday (recap to come), but I wanted to share my experience from the Women’s Running series 5K  in St. Pete that I completed last week. If you’ve been following this blog, you might recall that last year I ran the Women’s Half as my 2nd half  after 8 years of not running.

St pete 5k bling

Last week my morning started at 3:30 am. After getting ready, meeting my friends, I drove an hour to get to the race destination (yep, I drove an hour for a 5K :) ). We had a mild cold front that came through so it made for perfect, overcast running weather.  

Normally my race recap details the overall event and how I felt during my run, but this event was a little different for me.  Although the race was well organized, the course was fast and flat and the amenities were excellent and included a post race “freshen up” tent (complete with wet wipes, deodorant, lip gloss and a personal photographer), massages, tons of snacks and refreshments…even champagne; but the thing that I enjoyed most about this race was the camaraderie among the runners.

I’ve been running for almost two years now and every time I attend a race, I meet new people and reconnect with familiar faces. Overtime, I’ve gotten to know so many runners, many of whom I now call friends. When my two running friends and I arrived, we went directly to a predetermined meet up spot to take pictures with running groups we belongs to and friends.

I was able to hang out and reconnect with my friend and  former running partner Jan, who I ran my first 5K with almost 2 years ago. She is the reason I started waking up super early to run. This was our first opportunity to hang out since she moved to Atlanta over a year ago.

St pete women 5k

I also got to spend time with my girl Mel. When I decided I wanted to start running, I showed up for a run with a local running group on a night they were doing hill repeats. Needless to say it was horrible and I almost passed out, but Mel was the one who ran with me and stayed with me the whole time. She introduced me to Jan. Mel has been MIA from the run scene after giving birth to a beautiful baby boy. It was nice to see her again.

Oops, I almost forgot I’m taking about a race event. That was pretty much how it was. Before the race we socialized and took pictures. We ran. Then post race we socialized and took pictures.

But by far, the highlight of the race was being able to cheer people on at the finish line. It was such an encouraging experience. There were women of all shapes and sizes making their final dash towards the finish, many in under 2 hours. I was especially amazed at the determination of the runners to finish. It was obvious that some were in excruciating pain from the grimace on their faces and some were literally being pushed across the finish line. I stayed on the sideline and screamed and cheered for so many people I lost my voice. I was even moved to tears at some of their efforts. It gave new meaning to the term “finish strong”.

I very seldom get an opportunity to watch runners as they finish, so this was a real treat.

Have you ever participated in an event where you enjoyed the social aspect more than the event itself?

When was the last time you got a chance to cheer people on at the finish line?

My Top Three Christian Running Beats

One of the challenges I’ve had since I began running almost two years ago was finding energetic, up-beat Christian music to listen to during my runs. Until recently, Pandora internet radio was my source of music. But after choosing my favorite artist or song, I’d start out running to the perfect song with lots of energy, feeling motivated, then before I know it, the next song that comes on is a total snooze fest…which becomes both draining and distracting. I fumble around to skip the song, only to get another slow song, then another. Don’t get me wrong, I love slow Christian music…just not during my run. After reading what my girl listens to in order to get fired up before teaching her fitness class, I decided to share my top 3 running beats with you.

top 3 running beats

It seemed like the only high energetic songs with strong steady beats were non Christian songs. I asked a few friends to recommend some of their running tunes. Turns out that although they don’t normally listen to hard core, ratchet songs, during their runs, they do. Those songs generally have a steady beat and tempo that’s easy to establish a running rhythm. I explored running to a milder form of ratchetness, but while I enjoyed the beats, the lyrics for me was equally distracting. I enjoy lyrics that empowers and inspires…in the Gospel music genre, you typically don’t have to look too far to find those kinds of lyrics. My challenge was to find the right beats.

About six months ago, after a few weeks of searching, I was able to compile a…wait for it…15 song playlist. WootWoot!! As you can imagine though, with only 15 songs, after listening to the same music over and over, especially with all of my summer running, my songs are getting a bit dry. But there are 3 songs that never fails. They always seem to give me that extra umph to keep going. So withour further adoo…Here are my top three Christian running beats

1. Mary Mary: Something Bigger. This is hands down still my favorite running beat. The lyrics make me feel like I can run longer, stronger and faster. My favorite line: If God’s in me why I gotta think small. Now, you know that don’t make no sense at all.

2. Mary Mary: The Real Party. This song actually reminds me of Beyonce’s Single Ladies with the Oh Oh Oh’s. It is very energetic and fun. It definitely makes me feel like I’m in a Praise Party.

3.Trachead Family: Praise Party Anthem. This song is actually a Christian remix of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem.(side eye) But I love it! It instantly lift my spirits and gives me that much needed second wind.

When I run by myself, there are times that I prefer silence over music. But I love “loosing” myself in the music. I enjoy thanking God for His many blessings. Occasionally, I find my hand lifted and my eyes welling with tears. Usually a stumble on the sidewalk or a slap in the face by a branch quickly reminds me to focus on the run. If you have any up tempo, energetic and inspirational song suggestions you think I may like, please share.

  • What type of music (if any) do you prefer listening to while exercising?
  • Have you ever tried using Pandora?

Summer in Review: Hectic + Unstructured = Chaos

I think I’ve FINALLY gotten into the back to school groove (after a month and a half…don’t judge me). I can now look back with a sense of accomplishment, rather than disdain, at my summer in review.

Summer in Review

Hectic has become a norm in my daily life and that’s ok, but during the summer, hectic collided with unstructured, lead to utter chaos. The start of my day usually dictates the flow of the rest of the day.

To put things in perspective, during the school months (currently), after my run, I make a mad dash to shower and get dressed, make breakfast for the kids, pack their lunches, get them dressed and out of the house by 7:30. Usually I arrive to my office about an hour early. I have time  to slow down and prepare for the day. Hectic, but structured and routine.

Summer was totally different. The kids stayed up later, woke up later, which meant we left the house later, I arrived at work  later…I often started my days playing catch-up…which sent the rest of the day into a hurried frenzy.

At work…Our number one office manager moved out of the state, which meant I had to pick up a lot of the slack..even when I was sick. Thankfully, we were able to hire 2 additional staff persons plus two massage therapist. Training, however, was just as chaotic.

At home…The kids and I were taking swim lessons, which meant doing laundry every.single.day, washing, de-tangling and combing my daughter’s hair every day. (If you’ve ever experienced combing tightly coiled, tangled hair, you’d know it’s no easy feat). Swim lessons, in addition to the play dates and my usual house cleaning, cooking and other activities added to the chaos soup.

At play (I say play, but I’m referring to running. So not really play…more like work again)

Irongirlrunningpic A few people asked me if I stopped running during the summer because I stopped posting my runs of Facebook. The truth is, I was running more than I ever had. As a member of  a local running group, I received a training plan from one of the group’s certified  running coach. I was running 25 to 30 miles/wk Gah!.

There were weeks I ran every.single.day. The training called for speed work, hill repeats, tempo runs, long runs, the whole gamut (Not that I did them all :) ) Running during the summer meant running in 80 degree weather at 5 o’clock in the morning. I began having foot pain which lead me to getting a gait analysis and new shoes.

Even with all of the unstructured chaos, it was a great opportunity to have fun and spend quality time with our children. We enjoyed hot days in the slash pool, hot evenings at the ice cream parlor. The kids went to Disney World and I was even able to enjoy my daughter and her BFF perform in a talent show. I guess not all chaos is crazy.

  • How was your summer?
  • Are you settled in your fall routine?
  • Do you look back at summer with disdain or delight?
  • I changed some settings on the blog. Can you please let me know if you get an email response now :)

Master of No Terrain: Well, maybe just one (Race Recap)

To kick off my running season, I decided to do my first trail run last week. I’ve hearing quite a bit of runners talk about trail runs. They talk about how the trees offer wonderful shades along the path, how beautiful and peaceful the views were and although the paths were generally unpaved, it was actually much softer than road races. So when I had the opportunity to register for The Masters of All Terrain race, I jumped at it. There was a 50% off discount code which definitely sweetened the deal. I expected some gravel, maybe a few branches, but boy was I in for a surprise.  trails  As race day approached, I began receiving updates about what to expect. I read about the potential of wild animals, snakes, mud and rivers over flooding due to the rainy weather. What have I gotten myself and two of my running friends into? I was so happy that I had signed up for the 5 miler instead of the half marathon (13.1) that I originally wanted to do.

We all agree to keep a positive attitude and have fun. The morning of the race, I woke up at 3 am, met my girlfriends at our meet up location, then we were off. An hour and a half later, after exiting the major highway onto a dark isolated road, my anxiety formed a lump in my throat. When we finally turned into the Hal Scott Preserves, on to a bumpy, bug infested dirt road, I developed a nervous laugh. Below is what we saw when we arrived. off road darkness We fought off the mosquitoes and bugs as we went to pick up our race packets. I became even more concerned when I saw a bucket full of OFF!Deep Woods insect repellent spray for everyone to use. I quickly grabbed one of the bottles and sprayed every uncovered part of my body. After the singing of the National Anthem, it was time to start. The start line is picture below. We were running into the woods. Lord help!  off road start After about a quarter-mile of running over dirt, grass, gravel, rocks, sticks and through one foot deep mud and water, we entered an area that I actually felt was breath-taking. As the risen sun glistened through the morning fog, I felt the presence of God in His beautiful creation. I had to pause to give thanks and to take a picture. That was the first time I thought “this might not be so bad.” off road forrest Unfortunately, it was short-lived and we were back to the sticks, mud and floods. Thankfully, I didn’t have any encounters with the wild things. My running friend and I decided to take it easy. We talked, laughed, took pictures and enjoyed (most of) the journey…until we had to cross more muddy streams and brown water. The medal was nice too. In the end, my shoes and legs were muddy and I was glowing from a combination of bug spray and sweat. off road recap collage The race director and volunteers did a great job organizing the race and driving the course continually to make sure that everyone was ok. The rice and beans and “no milk” muscle milk was a nice touch post race. I can’t promise I’ll do it again because I don’t like muddy races, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. My take-away from this experience:

  • Know what a trail run is prior to signing up.
  • Do a “training” trail run before the actual event.
  • Don’t wear your good running shoes to the race.
  • Bring extra socks and a change of shoes.

Have you ever done an off-road “trail” race? Would you do a trail run? Do you like to camp or hang out in the woods?