Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Conference "Fun Run" - Living my Values

I am currently at a conference, traveling for work. Many of the conferences I've attended over the years have a morning "fun run" available for attendees. In theory, I'm very supportive of having this option. In practice, I've never taken advantage of it. It is easy for me to come up with any number of excuses that prevent me from joining:

  • Packing running stuff takes up a lot of space in my suitcase
  • I have to get up at least 60 minutes earlier than I normally would for the conference, and I am likely already feeling sleep-deprived from the business travel and longer days
  • I feel (a little) uncomfortable with work colleagues seeing me in exercise clothes 
  • I am worried that I won't be able to keep up with the group

In the end, they are all just excuses. I promised myself that for this conference, I would go to the fun run. I would live my values. The night before the fun run, I made sure to tell others of my plan, including Sam, who was leading the fun run. This would help keep me accountable. I laid out my exercise clothes the night before, and set my alarm for 90 minutes earlier than I would have if I weren't doing the run (ouch).

I didn't really want to get up when my alarm went off. I was tired. It was drizzly outside. But it helped that I had made a promise to myself and a commitment to others so I got up and dressed and went down to the lobby to meet the crew that was assembling:

I still felt anxious about being able to keep up. Sam assured us it would be a slow run. He reviewed the course plan with us - a bit of weaving though Crystal City and then over a bridge and onto the Mount Vernon Trail. Turn around at 2 miles (Gravelly Point) and back the way we came. So anyone who wanted to slow down or turn around earlier on the trail could do so and Sam would pick us up on the way back. 

We left the hotel and started off through Crystal City. We were definitely going too fast for me, but I realized I needed to keep up until we got to the trail or else I wouldn't know how to get there. So my first mile was 10:28, which was slower than the group (I had lost the visual on them by the time we got to the trail), yet faster than I've run a mile since I started running again a couple of years ago. 

So my fear of not being able to keep up with the group had come true, yet it was okay. I knew where I was, I knew the group would be coming back at some point, and I pushed the trail safety concerns to the back of my mind. We've had some incidents on the Northern Virginia trails in recent weeks (including an attempted abduction of a runner just two days ago on one of them), so I wasn't thrilled to be on the trail alone, but I stayed alert and kept in mind that it was probably only for another ten minutes or so. I passed Reagan National Airport and took a selfie:

I went on by myself at a much slower pace and soon saw Jennifer and Annie, with whom I had been running at the beginning. They had turned around early and transitioned to walking, so I turned around and fell in step with them. I was relieved to no longer be by myself and it was nice to have someone to talk with. We shared running stories and chatted a bit about work. 

The rest of the group passed us on the way back and Sam stayed with us to make sure we knew how to get to the hotel through the maze of Crystal City. Before we were knew it, we were back at the hotel drinking the orange-lemon water in the lobby.

Sam, Jennifer, Mary Ann, Annie, & me

It was a great way to start the day and I am glad that I got up and overcame my anxieties. Hooray for the fun run!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ringing in Hope Race Recap

On Memorial Day, my husband Rick ran the Ringing in Hope 10k. Ringing in Hope traditionally holds races on Memorial Day and New Year's Eve in Ashburn, and includes a 10k, 5k and a kids' 1k. Rick and I have each run this race a couple of times and Freddy has run the kids' run once. This is the first year the race was held at One Loudoun shopping plaza:

photo taken by Freddy - he thought we might need a map

It was a nice shopping center and fun location for the race. Another change for this year, which was quite welcome, was the introduction of a technical race shirt rather than a cotton one:

The 5k course was an out-and-back (not quite as scenic as the Brambleton 5k course); while the 10k course was a single loop (definitely preferable to the double loop Brambleton 10k course).

We found the whole event to be quite family friendly and Freddy had a great time visiting with the vendors and checking out the sights. The biggest hit of the race for him was the Chick-fil-A Cows. There were five of them and they led the warm-up, ran at least part of the 5k, and danced with the crowd/offered high-fives as the runners came in to the finish line. I can only imagine how warm it was in those costumes - big kudos to those cows!

Leading the warm-up

Freddy was so thrilled to get a picture with a cow!

Dancing cows - a video would have captured it better...

During the race Freddy enjoyed having his face painted with Mike Wazowski from Monsters University, playing with bubbles, and getting a glitter octopus tattoo. He also made a macaroni necklace, won a mini Chick-fil-A cow and played a neat flashing lights/sounds game that is part of the shopping center. So much fun!

Face painting in progress...
...the finished product! 

Playing the light game


Octopus glitter tattoo

Making a macaroni necklace with "Macaroni Kid"

We barely made it to the finish line in time for Rick's finish...and even though we made it in time Freddy was so enchanted with the cows handing out high fives to the finishers that we still managed to miss seeing him. Sharon had to come retrieve us and tell us he was already done. Oops!

Freddy cheering for the runners
with his "clapping hands"

Freddy asked us to pose with his new mini cow friend and he took one parting shot of us before we headed home :

Sharon, Rick, & me (and mini cow)
This was a fun, well-organized, very family-friendly race. Kudos to the race organizers and volunteers and to the One Loudoun location!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yoga for Runners

Our guest speaker for Week 3 of the Women's Training Program was Dr. Joe Esposito from the Life Wellness Centre. Dr. Esposito is a chiropractor and has coached Olympic athletes. He spoke to us about injury prevention and said one of the most beneficial things we can incorporate into our lives is yoga. Yoga helps create length and space for our muscles which tend to be shortened from hunching over our computers and sitting all day long. The top poses he recommends for runners are:

I took Dr. Esposito's presentation as a wake-up call for me to get back to the yoga mat. I used to practice yoga regularly, and then a little less regularly but still occasionally...and then not at all when my running training program started in earnest this past January. Fitting in my runs was challenge enough for my schedule and cross-training, including yoga, fell by the wayside. I think this is to the detriment of both my running and of my ability to maintain inner calm & a sense of well-being. It was time to get back to the mat!

Today, I went to a Yin Yoga class at my gym. Yin Yoga is sometimes referred to as "restorative" yoga. Poses are held for a longer time than in a conventional yoga class. You get a deep stretch in the connective tissues in the body and I find it incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating. After taking my class today I feel great - stretched, relaxed, calm. I am lucky to have many great yin classes and teachers where I live, and I hope to return to a regular practice again. If you would like to try Yin Yoga, my favorite DVD is Presence Through Movement: Yin Yoga by Kim Eng.

If you are interested in yoga and are close to Northern Virginia, I recommend that you check out Love Your Body Yoga Festival in Reston on June 8. The festival kicks off yoga week and many local studios are offering classes for free or at a reduced price. See you on the mat!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Army Ten-Miler: Ready, Set, Register!

Today was registration for the 2014 Army Ten-Miler for the general civilian public. This is one of the largest 10-mile races in the country and it is extremely popular. Registration demand exceeds registration supply, which creates a potentially stressful registration process. Below I offer some tips for navigating this process and ways to get into the race if you were not successful today.

Prepare for Registration

There are things you can do in advance to help you prepare:

  • Carve out a block of time. Registration opened at 10 am ET this year, unlike the midnight ET of past years. This created work conflicts for many. Ideally you would carve out two hours. I took my lunch hour early, started work early, and was prepared to work late if needed. I know some people who took vacation time this morning, or got a babysitter to watch their kids. Seems a little excessive, but carving out the time if you can takes the stress off.
  • Know your password. This wasn't applicable today, but sometimes race registrations use a particular platform like Look up your password in advance. Login with it ahead of time to make sure it works. There is nothing like the frustration of being unable to submit your registration because you don't know your password and you got locked out because you guessed wrong too many times! This goes for any password-protected form-fillers you might be using - login before the registration process starts!
  • Anticipate the questions. You will need to answer questions during the process, plan for them ahead of time so you don't waste time wondering what to put.
    • What is your race time? You might be asked what pace you expect to maintain, or you might be asked the time it will take you to finish. Think about this ahead of time and know both numbers.
    • What is your t-shirt size? Know what size you will order if it is unisex, what size you will order if they are gender specific.
    • Do you want to order the extras? Things like pasta dinners, technical upgrade shirts, training shirts etc.? 
    • It is especially important to think about these things ahead of time if you are trying to register someone else, like your spouse! Ask them ahead of time!
  • Prepare your equipment. It can be helpful to have more than one computer at hand. When servers are constantly going up and down due to excessive capacity demands, having more than one machine in action increases your odds of getting through. Have the registration link handy and clickable; I like to put it on a calendar invite so I can access it from all of my computers easily. Also consider using multiple browsers. Some sites seem to work better with Chrome or Firefox. 
    I had three computers ready to go today, but only used one

It's Time to Register!

These are the things to keep in mind during the actual registration process:
  • Assume registration will open early. It usually doesn't, but sometimes it does. Start checking 15 or 10 minutes early. Today I got very lucky and registration opened early. I was registered at 9:55 before the first site crash.
  • Assume the site will crash. At least for the early part of registration, demand will greatly exceed supply. The site will crash. It will come back up, but you may have lost your place and have to start again. It is frustrating. Very frustrating. Anticipate it and don't let it deter you. Many of my friends saw this repeatedly during the first hour or so:
  • Be Calm and Persistent. For many of these races, there is a tipping point where the chaos calms down. Many people have registered, some have given up, the demand starts to decrease and the servers become more stable. For this race, the tipping point happened between 11:15 and 11:30. People logging on for the first time after 11:30 (like my running buddy Christina who wasn't sure if she really wanted to sign up) had a fairly straightforward process. After noon the site became even more accessible. The race didn't sell out until 12:35.
    11 am: 19,705 of 35,000 spots taken

    11:30 am: 27,120 spots taken

    noon: 32,016 spots taken

    12:35, race sells out

  • Monitor social media. Follow the facebook group and twitter hashtag for the race. You will see updates from the race organizers, tips from others who have been able to get in, updates on how many spots are left. This can help you stay calm - I had friends who were in a panic at 11:00 and felt better when they realized the race still had 15,000+ spots left.
  • Fill out forms carefully. When you do get through to the forms it is tempting to rush and keep hitting "submit" as quickly as you can. But take the time to review what you are typing as you type it. Today people got tripped up because finish times required a "leading zero" (i.e., 02:00 rather than 2:00). Birthdates required leading zeroes, too (i.e., 01/01/1980 rather than 1/1/1980). Inaccurate information or formats red-flag your information and slow things down even more.

You Didn't Get in - Now What?

All is not lost if you didn't get in through general registration. There are other options:
  • Charity Bibs. Many large races have charity bibs available. There are some great charities for the Army Ten-Miler.  Team Fisher House, Team USO, Wear Blue: Run to Remember, and many others. These are great causes. Some of them come with extras, too, such as training plans, shirts, a special meet-up after the race. 
  • A Local Running Store. Bibs for larger races may be available through a training program such as Potomac River Running's Distance Training Program. I got my Nike Women's Half Marathon Bib through Potomac River Running. Not only do you get a bib, but you get a customized training plan and people to run with every week during training. I highly recommend this option!
  • Bib Transfer. Many large races have a program set up for legal bib transfers. More information for ATM bib transfer is available here.
  • Volunteer. All races need volunteers! If you didn't get in, consider volunteering. Some volunteer options, like working at the expo, may get you into this year's race; some may get you into next year's race.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weight Loss Tools that Work for Me

In 2013, I lost 15 pounds and kept them off. At the most basic level, weight loss is about keeping calories in lower than calories out. Of course it is more nuanced than that - you need to eat enough calories to fuel your body, enough protein to keep you from losing muscle, enough good fats to keep you feeling full. I'm not a dietitian and I won't advise you on specific ratios of macronutrients, but I can share the tools that work well for me when it comes to weight loss.

I have the best results when I hold myself accountable for what I eat and how much I'm moving. I track my food in MyFitnessPal (MFP) and my activity with Fitbit. The two platforms connect with each other and tell me how I'm doing at keeping my net calories in balance.

I access MFP through my phone, tablet, and computer. I can enter food by scanning a food's UPC code with my camera, by looking it up in the extensive MFP food database, or by entering it manually. MFP tracks my calories, macronutrients, and other items of interest such as fiber, sodium, and sugar. More than 30 of my friends use MFP (some more regularly than others...), and we help support each other in our weight loss efforts. One of my friends is on a 500+ day streak of logging in to MFP every day! Here is a screen shot from yesterday, when I was 80 calories below my target level of calories. My target level is about 400 calories below maintenance, so that nets out to a 480 calorie deficit for the day.

Some people choose to manually enter their activity into MFP, but I prefer to track it automatically with my Fitbit One. I've had a fitbit for 2 and 1/2 years and I'm quite attached to it. It automatically tracks my steps/floors/miles for the day and translates them into a calorie burn, which it reports to MFP.  The 280 calories in the MFP screen shot above was reported by fitbit based on my activity for yesterday:

I also have a couple dozen friends who use fitbit and it ranks us based on our weekly number of steps. We can send each other messages, and cheer/taunt each other. Fitbit awards you badges for certain levels of steps and floors which I find oddly motivating. I'm about 100 floors away from 3,000 lifetime floors. And my lifetime number of steps is almost 8 million! 

Fitbit links to a variety of platforms in addition to MFP. Two of my favorites are Earndit and Everymove. Both of these sites give you rewards for working out, and I've gotten some nice awards from them. Read more about using those sites to earn prizes here. Why wouldn't you want free stuff just for being active?

There are lots of sites and software solutions out there to help keep you accountable and supported in your weight loss efforts. Experiment with some and find what works for you. What have you got to lose, besides a few pounds? Good luck!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Do a Warrior Dash? Check!

My friend Kathryn and I have consistently been supporting each other in striving for healthy goals for more years that either of us would probably want me to put into print. We've been together through many ups and downs. I am so proud of her for kicking major ass at her first Warrior Dash this weekend. (Yes, I fully expect there will be a second). I asked her to share the story of this daunting and dirty challenge... 

It was on the list. I'm not really sure how it got there, but there it was: Do a Warrior Dash.
I don't define myself as a runner. I'd much rather walk. I may on occasion skip, but run? Not so much. So why a warrior dash? Maybe it's because mud runs and obstacle courses are gaining in popularity and I wanted in on the fun? Each course differs in terms of length (typically a 5k but some are longer), the obstacles presented (easy to difficult), the participants (women only or co-ed), etc. But they're all alike in that you must at some point be okay with being drenched in mud. Turns out, I'm okay with that. 

I'm not a fussy woman. I enjoy playing in the dirt. Even when I garden, I can't stand to wear gloves. I need to feel the earth on my fingers. I felt the earth in many, many places (some unmentionable) on May 10, 2014 when I ran the Warrior Dash in Mechanicsville, MD.

It wasn't my first mud run. My first mud run was two weeks earlier--the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Chesapeake, Virginia. It was good preparation for the Warrior Dash. The course was flat, muddy and surprisingly easy. My takeaways:
  • It's much easier to jog/run through the mud then it is to walk.
  • Tie your shoes tighter than normal and double knot your laces.
  • You will get dirty...very, very dirty.
  •  To get clean, you will need more than one shower.

I enjoyed the Dirty Girl Mud Run, but knew the Warrior Dash would be a bit more challenging. I was worried about the obstacles. (I'll get to those in a minute.) I should have been worried about the hills. The course was described as moderately hilly. They lied. Part of the course is run on Budds Creek Motocross Park. The course is hilly, very hilly. Fortunately, you don't have to run if you don't want to (or can't). Walking is always an option. Some races are über competitive, and the Warrior Dash has competitive heats if that's your thing. If it isn't, then just enjoy the course and walk (or crawl) when you need to.

The obstacles had names that instilled a bit of trepidation in me, names like Goliath, Dead Man's Drop, Storming Normandy and Vicious Valleys. Truth be told, I was mostly worried about the Great Warrior Wall. It's a rope climb and I don't have a lot of upper body strength, but I watched the folks who went in front of me. The trick is to lean back, not forward, and to take smaller steps. I was up and over that wall in a flash. I avoided the barbed wire in the Muddy Mayhem, but managed to scrape my knees a bit crawling through Shocktop Unfiltered. And the fire hop at the end--the Warrior Roast? That's just a silly photo op. But fun. So. Much. Fun.

And yes, I got dirty...very, very dirty.

P.S. Registration is open for next year’s Warrior Dash on May 16.  The course is moderately hilly J

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week 2: Women's Training Program

Tonight was the 2nd week of the Reston Runners Women's Training Program. I was excited that Margie Shapiro was our guest speaker for the week. Margie is co-owner of Potomac River Running, a triathlete, a running coach, and a mom. Margie was my brother's running coach a few years ago and he told me I should take any opportunity to hear her speak and learn from her. He was right! This is the second time I've heard one of Margie's seminars, and I am a big fan.

Tonight Margie was discussing proper running form and technique, and she covered posture/leaning, footstrike, and cadence. I liked her interactive presentation style - we all stood up and practiced various ways of moving/leaning/shifting our weight to understand the concepts she was teaching us. My favorite part was when we were listening to her metronome app and bouncing up and down to learn about various cadences - 300 women, moving like pogo sticks! It was quite funny and an effective teaching technique.

Margie Shapiro and her metronome phone

Margie and others from the Potomac River Running team give free seminars regularly. If you are in the DC area, I encourage you to check out the calendar for free seminars and events at the =PR= stores. 

After the seminar, we broke into our groups to head outside to run. We were dry before we went outside:

Amy, me, & Tara - BEFORE running

When we started running, the sky looked threatening. As we headed into the woods to follow the 5k race path I've run so many times (most recently in February for Run Your Heart Out), the raindrops began to fall. Slowly at first, but they quickly picked up the pace. We kept going - we run unless there is lightning! Our beginner runner group was running 1.25 miles, and then doing run/walk intervals of 2 minutes/1 minute to get up to 3 miles. Amy & I did the first 1.25 by ourselves, then we figured out it was easier to stick close to a coach so we knew when the intervals were changing. We ran with Coach Sylvia and her crew the rest of the way. There is a big hill when you come out of the woods and we ran up it to the metronome-like drumbeat that was coming from the adjacent baseball diamond. We pretended it was for us and used it for motivation. We were drenched, but proud: 

Amy & me - AFTER running

Afterwards we did some stretching with the group and then we got our reward - our program t-shirts! They are a beautiful turquoise color and remind me of the finisher shirts from the first year of the Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC.

Program t-shirt - so pretty!
Looking forward to week 3!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 4-Miler Recap

This morning's Mother's Day 4-Miler was a bundle of inspirational fun for me. I felt like a runner, I felt like part of the running community, and I was surrounded by inspirational women, many of them moms. Before I get to the recap, I want to give two shout-outs for great accomplishments:

  • My mom did her first 5k yesterday! She placed 3rd in her age group and I am very proud of her. Way to go Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

  • My friend Jen ran her first 4-miler today! I've been watching Jen make consistent and dedicated progress since we were in Running 101 together last fall. So proud of you Jen!!

I've been looking forward to this race all year. I ran it last year, and it was my first 4-mile race. I can remember being worried that I wouldn't be able to finish four miles last year. I was very nervous. What a difference a year makes; this year I was relaxed about it and enthusiastic to see so many of my friends there. I had two goals for this race:
  1. To meet some of the "Moms Run This Town" (MRTT) members that I've gotten to know online but had not yet had the chance to meet in person
  2. To run with my Kappa Delta sister Whitney and catch up on each other's lives
I accomplished my goals! I made it to the race early (barely) and got to be in the MRTT pictures for my chapter (Herndon/Reston) and for the multi-chapter. I met so many wonderful moms and hope that I get to run with some of them soon. I truly find it inspirational to know there are so many dedicated mother runners in our community. (and Swapna totally made my day when she recognized me from my blog and said how much she enjoyed the detail in the Nike Women's Half course recap - thank you Swapna!!)

Herndon/Reston MRTT
Multi-chapter MRTT

I also had a great time catching up with Whitney and Christy, my KD sisters. We had all planned to do this race together back in January.

Whitney, me, & Christy before the race
(no, we were not in the 7-8 minute pace group)

Christy ran the 1-mile race with her daughter while Whitney & I ran the 4-miler together. Whitney and I hadn't run together before so it was great to find that we are currently well-matched in pace. The miles flew by quickly as we caught up. We used to see each other pretty regularly before we became moms, and now it is sporadic at best. We had a really fun run!

photo courtesy Potomac River Running

The best surprise came just before mile 2, where Rick and Freddy were cheering for the racers. I had told them they could stay home since I was going to be socializing before and after the race and didn't want them to feel bored. So it was awesome to see them, especially on a part of the course that usually doesn't have any spectators. I high-fived Freddy and heard him wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day. Nice. And when I got home they had they best homemade Mother's Day cards for me. One of them said "Happy Runners Day Mom!" on the outside, and "We mean, Happy Mothers Day, Runner!" on the inside. Validation that I am a runner from my family. Swoon.

And I got my last bit of runner validation as I walked to my car after the race. As I neared my car, I saw the "13.1" magnet that I got for myself last week. I smiled. Yes, I am a runner. I am.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How Do You Find Time to Run?

I asked my running buddy Christina to guest blog this week. She has some awesome tips on finding the time to run. She is one of the busiest people I know, and if she can do it, we can all do it! Read on for her great advice...

Greetings and Salutations!   I’m Christina, one of Kim’s running buddies and guest blogging for Kim this week. As a career working Mom of 3 boys ages 7 and under, a dog and a supportive hubs, I am often asked, “How do you find time to run?” 

I’m really the same as everyone else with the same 24 hours in the day. My secret is that I’m organized. I’m not crazy organized like Monica was on Friends, but I have a plan and I stick to it. I also have a plan B and C if plan A fails me. I’m this way at the office and I’m this way at home. I even meal plan for the week. I know what’s for breakfast tomorrow before we have dinner; I know what’s for dinner tomorrow before I go to bed. I spend one Saturday a month food shopping and making freezer meals. Who has time to food shop and cook?  

I even plan out my workouts for the week. My goal is boot camp 3 days a week and to run 15 miles per week (if I’m not training for something big like the Nike Half Marathon). I know what days of the week I will do boot camp and what days I will run. I also have an extra catch-all day planed for when life messes up my plan.  

Christina and her family at Nike Women's Half Marathon

I was not a runner before I had kids. I had a lot of "me time" back then and was never in need of a positive healthy outlet for my stress. Today, I need to reconnect with me, and to find 1 hour where I can do something just for me. What I have grown to realize is that I started running for me, but I keep running for those around me. Running makes me a better teammate at the office, a better Mom, a better wife…friend, sister, daughter… I run and my spirit is lifted. I run and I can figure out how to solve the problem of the day. I run and show my boys an example of a woman who is strong and takes care of herself. I run and I show my boys that you have to practice something to become better at it. I run and I teach my boys that sometimes you work hard and you don’t come in first. I run and teach my boys that winning isn't everything; showing up and doing hard work is important. I run to remember that having a goal and achieving it is a victory.

All great reasons to run, but where do I find the time? I make the time and I look for breaks in my schedule to find the time. My boys have activities after school and on the weekends but I coordinate those activities with my run schedule. I run while my oldest is at CCD. I run the soccer fields while he’s a soccer practice. I run when my son is at PT and OT each week. It takes too long to drop off and pick up for these activities, so I stay and I run in the parking lot or around the business park or around the block. Then on the weekends, I wake up the same time as I do during the week, and I meet my friend Kim and others for run club. I get in my long run while the boys are home getting dressed and eating breakfast, and I’m home before anyone needs a ride to a practice or party or lesson.  

We all can find the time, if we go looking for the time in our daily schedules.  It’s about  being  prepared and ready to spend the time on what YOU want.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Women's Training Program Kickoff!

Yesterday was the kickoff of the 2014 Women's Training Program (WTP). I've heard amazing things about this program from Christina and have been looking forward to it for a couple of months. Another bright side to my passport-expiration vacation screw-up is that I am in town this week and didn't have to miss the first week of WTP.

The program is an 8-week program. We meet once a week for a guest speaker, followed by walking or running in your respective training group. The end of the program culminates in the Spring-into-Summer Women's Distance Festival 5k. Christina said it was such a great race last year that the coaches had to caution them that not all races are this amazing! I am already registered and looking forward to it.

The speaker schedule is amazing and I'm excited about the various topics. Margie Shapiro will be there next week - I learned so much from a talk she gave a couple of months ago and can't wait to soak up some more wisdom from her. This week Helen Russell from Metro Run and Walk shared information on fit and performance for shoes and bras. Fun facts I learned from Helen:

  • Each foot sweats 1/2 cup of fluid every day (yuck).
  • Feet elongate as we age so you need to have your foot measured regularly or you might be buying the wrong size shoes, which can lead to bunions, toenail problems, even plantar fasciitis (you know you are a runner when you can spell that without looking it up!).
  • Shoes are labeled with a "mm drop" - this refers to the height of the heel vs. the height of the forefoot. Traditional running shoes have a 12 mm drop. The Merrell Pace Gloves I used to run it have a 0 mm drop (e.g., barefoot shoes). The Saucony Guides I wear now have an 8 mm drop.
  • The "mm drop" doesn't tell you about cushioning, just the relative height of heel vs. forefoot. The Pace Glove has 4 mm of cushioning. Hoka shoes are designed with maximum cushioning; they were developed by ultra distance runners.
  • The first sports bra was invented by two women who sewed two jock straps together.
  • Seamless bras tend to run small and you should size up.
  • Look for a bra with modesty panels if you don't want headlights.
  • A bra with no encapsulation creates a uniboob.

For the running portion, we self-selected into one of four groups:

  • Walkers—all levels.
  • Run/Walkers—walk/run intervals of varying times (for example, Group A will start out walking 4 minutes, and running for 2 minutes, Group B will walk for 4 minutes and run for 1 minute and 30 seconds, or 1:30).
  • Beginner Runners—continuously run at or slower than an 11:30 minute mile pace.
  • Advanced Beginner Runners—continuously run at a pace between 11:30 minute and 10:00 minute mile.
I was on the fence trying to decide between BR and ABR. While it may seem I'm an advanced runner since I just finished a half marathon (!), I have a relatively slow pace. Continuously running at 11:30 or faster is challenging for me - it's a race pace for a shorter race, and certainly faster than my long-run training pace. So I made the conservative choice to stick with BR. I've learned that when I try to reach beyond my current training level I'm more likely to get injured. My friends Amy, Sally, Lynn, and Shawn are all in BR, too. Christina and Marian chose to go to ABR (and I can always switch if it seems appropriate).

We were going to run timed miles last night to get a baseline time, but when we went out to run the sky lit up with lightning. So we went back inside to have Q&A with our coaches, which was very informative. Here are five of the seven BR coaches:
photo credit: Brian Kent; photo courtesy of WTP.

I do not know all of their names yet; Agnès is in the front, Caroline (ironwoman!) is in the middle and Louisa is in the back. I am looking forward to learning from and running with these women over the next two months!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Volunteering for "March for Babies"

My family is supposed to be on vacation right now but our plans were postponed due to a major mistake on my part (PSA: always check your passport expiration date). We are reframing and focusing on the opportunities we have this week now that we are unexpectedly at home.  My friend Amy was organizing a cheer station for this morning's March For Babies 5k and we were happy to have the opportunity to join them.  One of my goals for this year was to volunteer for an event, so this had the added bonus of checking that box for me.

I saw how much work goes on behind the scenes, especially when there is last-minute fallout. Amy was organizing cheer station #2, but got the word this morning that the entire volunteer group for cheer station #1 pulled out and wasn't coming. Can you imagine?! Amy rerouted a few of us to the empty cheer station. When we got there, it looked like this:
Cheer station #1 - in need of cheer!
We had a table and chairs, a trash bin, box with table cloth & miscellaneous items, lots of water, and a porta-potty.  Amy, Sally, and Lynn brought bubbles, signs, water dishes for dogs, leis, pinwheels, and some noisemakers. We got busy setting everything up.
Lynn and Sally put out water and bubbles

Freddy takes charge of water for the dogs

Josh sets up the music while
Freddy carries buckets of bubbles
All ready to go!
Lynn and Sally got ready with their signs and Freddy was poised to hand out bubbles. Josh and I took on water duty. I also sent a text to Rick to let him know we could use some extra hands and bug spray, and Rick headed over to help us out.
Cheerleader Lynn

Whoops, are they backwards?

That's better!

Ready to hand out bubbles
The first few folks started to trickle by and many of them were running and not looking for water or bubbles. Soon, however, there were lots of people coming through and we handed out water and bubbles as fast as we could. There were so many families and teams, many of them honoring children. It was inspirational and I was amazed at how fast the time flew by. We ran out of water and bubbles which was a bummer. We started cheering extra loudly to help make up for it. The race organizer brought us more water as soon as he could. And then suddenly the "sweep" walker came through and it was all over. We broke everything down in less than ten minutes. Freddy, Rick, and I headed home while Josh, Lynn, and Sally went off to help at cheer station #2. 

I was grateful to have the opportunity to help others and it helped to take my mind off of my vacation mishap. Win-win, and fun to boot!
Lynn, me, Sally, Josh, & Freddy (Rick took the picture)