Saturday, October 15, 2011

Raptor Ridge Trail Half Marathon

I'm a little late in posting this, but on 9 October, Sean and I ran the final race in a four-part series, "The Dirt Devil Racing Series".  This included the Coyote 5k, Sidewinder 10k, Stairway to Heaven 15k, and finally the Raptor Ridge half marathon.  The race series was put on by the San Diego Dirt Devils and the San Diego Running Institute and they did a great job!

This was the longest race that Sean has ever done and he was awesome!

     All of the races were done in the San Diego area on beautiful trails that were very challenging.  In fact, I'd say that the Stairway to Heaven 15k was in the top three toughest races I've ever run!  The crews that coordinated the race were great and they had volunteers posted along the way to cheer on the runners.  Throughout the series, we received pint glasses with the race logo on them.  For those who finished the entire series, we all received a really nice class pitcher with all four race logos on them!

     Congratulations to all of the runners on finishing the series!  My favorite thing about the race series was how motivating and encouraging the other runners were.  Almost every time someone passed me (which was pretty often), they offered words of encouragement.  What a great group of runners!!!

Sorry that all the pictures say the word "PROOF" on them...with all the races we do, I find that it's too expensive to actually buy the pictures most times and I just did a screen capture on them :-)

What's your favorite race series?  

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Mental Block

As a runner, I think the toughest thing to overcome is the mental block that tells my body, “you can’t do this!”  I’m by no means considered knowledgeable on human physiology; however, I do know that the human body is capable of far more than we ever challenge it to do.  What is that mysterious force that keeps most humans from reaching those limits?

I think it’s a mental block.  For me, I really think it’s that I do not like to be uncomfortable, that pain that kicks in when you really turn up the pace, the stitch in your side that makes it hard to breathe – I HATE THAT.  For those who can find a way to overcome that block, they become world-class athletes.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is something oddly pleasing about really wearing myself out and I feel great after a really tough workout.  Running 20 miles is exhausting sometimes, but knowing that I did that run makes me happy the rest of the day (and it means there’s no guilt about having that extra cookie!).

What works to get past the mental block?

For me, first I find that it is invaluable to have a training partner.  I run/bike/swim with my buddy, Leonie, who is an amazing athlete.  When I have days where I don’t feel like doing anything, she’ll push me to get out there with her.  She tricks me into thinking we’re going to do a somewhat easy workout that turns into an ass-kicker!  She even makes me get out to the track to do speed work!  She’s much faster than me, but it’s never something that gets me down – it’s motivating to me. 

Seriously, she may not have a pro-card yet, but she's on the verge!!!

The second thing that seems to work is to set training goals.  Whether that is to run 25 miles a week or 100 miles a week, setting some goal holds me accountable.  Recently I haven’t been very good about doing this, but in the past it has been a great tool.  The goals must be realistic, but challenging at the same time. 

I’ve never collapsed from running too hard, and that lets me know that my body will continue to function until I find those limits.  Have you found your physical limits yet?   

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From the Back of the Pack

For those that have run several races in their lifetime, I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend.  There are three groups of “runners” out there. 

Group 1: “The Elite” – these are the runners who immediately head for the starting line and have their game face on from the moment they lace up their shoes.  They wear top of the line shoes, tiny running shorts, and possibly a technical shirt.  They do not have friendly conversations with those around them.  They are visualizing the run in their mind and they can see themselves crossing the finish line first.

Group 2: “Looking for a PR” – these runners are seasoned veterans of the running community.  They look the part, but they already know that “The Elite” are faster than they are, so they don’t really have a shot at winning any prize.  They make small talk with those around them, but stay relatively focused on warming up and getting ready to really push themselves.  These are the daily runners who come out to race with others because it helps push them beyond their limits.  They establish goal times for each race and work hard to accomplish them. 

Group 3: “Social Butterflies” – these are the casual joggers, who may hit the road up to three times a week to train.  They linger in the back of the pack and chat up a storm with the other runners around them.  They compliment one another on their running gadgets and talk about what they should do post-race to celebrate.  They are out there to get some exercise, but more importantly, to interact with others who just enjoy putting one foot in front of the other regardless of the pace. 
"Look, I brought snacks!  Hey, let's snap a quick photo!"

I waver between groups 2 and 3, depending on the race and the distance.  Sometimes I feel great and use the other runners out there to really push myself.  Sometimes I just lace up my running shoes and hangout with the joggers, chatting about other races in the area.  The pressure we put on ourselves during races can either make running more or less enjoyable.  I find that a careful balance should be struck.  I will never be the next Kara Goucher…but I can go out there and push myself.  And on the days when I just feel like enjoying the beautiful scenery and being surrounded by others who share a common passion for running, I just meander to the back of the pack and compliment the woman next to me on her awesome belt that holds up to 5 GU Packs!!!

Cross Training

Running magazines often tout the benefits of cross training. It reduces stress on joints while still actively working out. It changes up your normal routine to keep you motivated. And somehow, it improves your running.

This morning, after a relaxing 3.2 mile jog with these girls:

I met up with a friend for a bike ride. Ideally, I'd like to ride twice a week; however, due to day care issues and daily life, I've been happy to knock out one per week. And luckily, our fearless Stroller Warrior leader, Steph Geraghty, rides with me. We rode 19 miles today (a bit shorter than we would have liked, but such is life) at about a 17-19 mph pace. Throughout most of the workout, we are able to ride side-by-side and chat, making it pass much more quickly. And although my legs were smoked at the end, I'm confident that it will improve my overall endurance and running. I also try to include some Crossfit workouts.  

What type of cross training do you do?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gadgets Galore

One of my favorite things about running is that all you really need are shoes, shorts, a good sports bra, and a t-shirt.  It's relatively inexpensive if you stay away from all the fancy gadgets out there.  However, that being said, a part of me does love to geek out in the running store and over time I've acquired some "favorite" running items.  In no particular order, here they are:
The Garmin Forerunner 305 (or really any other model).  It can do pace, distance, heart rate, elevation, lap splits, and probably make dinner too!  This is a great way to log and track mileage.  It comes with computer software so you can plot your routes and build an electronic running log.

For anyone who has those tiny fly-aways that always seem to poke you right in the eye when your hair starts to fall out of your ponytail, the RazzyRoo is a perfect solution!  This nifty little band stays in place for as long as you want to hit the road.  

And lastly, Zoot makes a compression sock that really does assist with post-run recovery!  I wear them for about three hours post run (usually after a sprint workout or long run) and they keep the blood flowing, which keeps the soreness down.  

What are your favorite running gadgets?  

Rain, What Rain?

Tuesday morning I was planning to debut my new shoes. Unfortunately the weather was slightly uncooperative. As we headed to run with the Stroller Warriors, it was raining. Nevertheless, we continued to our rally point and found 20+ ladies with strollers waiting for the rain to stop. The weather gods were smiling upon us and it stopped after just a 10 minute wait.

So we headed out. Five minute warm up, then a ladder interval of race pace followed by the same time of recovery (2-3-4-3-2). We knocked out 4.37 in 39:35. (Mile 1 - 9:10, Mile 2 - 8:31, Mile 3 - 8:34, Mile 4 - 9:25, Last .37 - 10:32)

Great workout except for the fact that 10 minutes before we finished, the sideways rain came. Luckily, I was prepared with my Bob Weather Shield! Reagan stayed completely dry. I, on the other hand, looked like a drowned rat:

Regardless of the weather, it was a great run and a wonderful group of women to brave the elements! And while I didn't get to test out my new shoes (I wasn't about to let them get wet), I had a blast.

Finished up the day with an improvised Crossfit workout. I don't have access to all the proper equipment, so I make do with what I have. Today's WOD: 5 RFT - 20 box jumps, 20 pushups, 50 sit ups. (20:39)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Two Is Better Than One

My twin sister, Jessica, decided that we should co-author this blog and I couldn't be happier! She's an avid runner and a bit crazy. Once she vowed to run for 100 days straight. Through inclement weather, illness, and injury, she completed the challenge. She's also run 55 miles at once! I told you, she's crazy. Jessica has always loved running and is 100% dedicated to the sport. She will have lots to add and I look forward to writing this together.


I follow a hilarious blog that often posts giveaways. Today's post is for a Champion Eco Fleece hoodie and sweatpants set (one each for men and women!). The gear looks super comfy and who doesn't love free stuff. Just go to her blog and follow the instructions. Here's a preview of the loot:

New Shoes Make You Fast, Right?!

After reading Born to Run, I have found a new running style. I still revert to my old style, but I have started running more on the balls of my feet (encouraged by running in Vibram Five Fingers), especially when pushing the stroller. This has led to a drastically different wear pattern on my old shoes, so after about 400 miles, I've invested in a new pair. 

I wear a size 11 in women's shoes. This makes it both difficult and easy to select a running shoe. I'm loyal to Saucony and have been for the last 7 or so years. When I enter a shoe store, I immediately select a few pairs and ask for whatever they carry in an 11. This usually yields 2 pairs. I put one on each foot, take a short jog and pick within a matter of minutes. 

Hopefully if the weather cooperates today, I'll get to test them out with a group run. If not, they will make their debut on the treadmill in my living room. Regardless, I'll post a review tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Because Being a Mom Isn't Enough

I have another blog that typically details the daily happenings with my beautiful daughter, Reagan. And while being a mother is amazing, it's not the only way I define myself. I have posted a few blogs about running in Kumquats and Such, but I thought I'd start a blog just for my running exploits.

Yesterday I took Reagan for a 7 mile run around the air station. It was a great day for running. I walked for a minute after each mile and that helped my legs recover. We maintained about a 9 minute pace including the walk breaks. Not too shabby after posting my new stroller PR during the Run for the Tatas 5k in Wilmington. (23:16 - 46th out of 420 total runners; 18th out of 291 women)

Today we knocked out 5.5 with a friend who kindly pushed the stroller for half of the workout. This chick I ran with is a stud and just finished her long run in preparation for the MCM at the end of the month (she pushed an 8:30 pace for 20 miles!). I told her at the start that we'd be slowing to my typical 9-minute pace, but instead, she and I maintained an 8:13 pace!

As a former Marine and now stay-at-home mom, I found myself longing to create an identity of my own. I never loved running when I had to do it as part of my job. Now I search for opportunities to hit the road/trail. I used to cringe at the thought of 3 miles, but now that's just an easy day. As a member of the Stroller Warriors running club, I've found my niche. Hopefully I'll continue to post in this blog as a way to keep myself motivated.