Blissing Out at the Finish Line!

….and My Story Runs On….

“When you cross the finish line, your life will change forever.” -Unknown

Crossing a finish line is one of the most amazing feelings!  It’s one of the reasons I love being a running coach as there is nothing more rewarding than watching someone work their butt off for any event and cross that finish line!

I’ve had some incredible finish line experiences but I have to admit, yesterday was one of the most amazing finish lines I experienced for a few reasons:

  1. I signed up for the Inaugural Phoenix Women’s Half Marathon awhile back with Startline Racing (very well run event!). I first heard about it via Team RWB (more below!).  We used to have the Women’s Half here and I used to be an Ambassador.  I love women races as there is so much comraderie and different energy.  I believe last week was my longest training week ever as far as running. My 50 Mile Training calendar called for 60 miles this week.  I started the half marathon with tired legs.  I had logged 48 miles at this point for the week and did 14 miles of sand training the day before.  My original plan was to relax and just make this race a training run. I don’t listen to music often so I decided I was going to jam out while focusing on some new form focuses from ChiRunning. (In November, at the Instructor Weekend, Danny Dreyer, the founder, taught us an entire new series on Performance: learning how to get faster without increasing your perceived rate of exertion and without using your leg muscles to make it happen.  Due to my distance training, I’ve been holding off feeling some of the new form focuses in my body so yesterday I decided to “play” around with a few of them).  I was feeling great so was just chilling and enjoying it….when I reached mile 10, I realized there could be a slight chance that I would PR (personal record) this race.  I continued to focus on some key areas and lo and behold, even though the results are still unofficial on their website, I beat my half marathon time by 20 seconds!
  2. I have many friends that are part of Team RWB and I kept saying I would join them but I have so much on my plate and never really understood what they were all about.  These friends kept encouraging me to join (IT’S FREE!) but I never got around to it until a few weeks ago.  I love building my running community and I do this with my ChiRunners/ChiWalkers and Running for Brews.  OMG, this community of people is AMAZING!  I’ve never felt so part of something bigger than myself. The icing on the cake, and the main reason yesterday was one of my favorite finishes, was because someone came up to me close to the finish line and handed me the American Flag.  GOOSE BUMPS!  Mind you I was trying to get my PR and I knew I was close but there was no way I was going to turn down that experience!  I got to run through the finish line carrying the American Flag! I’ve “only’ been running for about 8 years but I love this sport! This is why I am on a mission to turn people into runners. So many amazing experiences and people I have met via this awesome sport.  Team RWB is a huge supportive community and they were out there until their very last walker came in to the finish line and we all got roses too!  I am really looking forward to more amazing experiences with them!

    Goose bumps carrying the flag through the finish line!

    Goose bumps carrying the flag through the finish line!

Unfortunately I missed getting in the photo but looks at this awesome group of supportive people!

Unfortunately I missed getting in the photo but looks at this awesome group of supportive people!

Reflecting on this incredible day, here is what I believe contributed to my success (in no particular order):

  • My running conditioning.  I’ve been running quite a bit lately (more than ever) for my first 50 miler.  Here is a link to my plan and actual miles if you are interested.
  • ChiRunning/ChiWalking.  Good running form has been crucial to my success.  We can always learn to get better and more efficient at anything we do. I’ve been teaching this for 6 years now and I’m still amazed at how much I can keep working on it and seeing improvements. It’s one of my favorite parts of the form.  I say Practice Makes Progress and I’ve seen some great improvements not just from my performance while running but more importantly with how great my body has been feeling with all these miles!
  • My Chiropractor.  I’ve been working with Al for over a year on my forward head posture and alignment.  Xrays have confirmed a significant improvement and I can feel it.  Alignment is crucial to running and by working on my posture, I have felt an improvement in my form and more specifically my breathing. I also did a Fascial Stretch Therapy last week with him and will do these weekly until my race.

    One of the reasons they say sitting is the new smoking. The position of your head effects your ENTIRE body!

    One of the reasons they say sitting is the new smoking. The position of your head effects your ENTIRE body!

  • My Nutritionist. As a trainer, I can help my clients with nutrition and weight loss but I’ve never really learned how to fuel my body for endurance and performance. I’ve been working with Brooke since November and learned a ton about my body and how it fuels properly.   I did not have any Gus or Gels at all yesterday.  I also haven’t been using those on my 20+ mile runs either. I’ve taught my body to use fat rather than sugar as I train longer.  This will be a separate blog after my 50 miler.
  • Recovery and Rest. I’m grateful that I have a flexible schedule so I rarely set my alarm in the morning.  I allow my body to get as much rest as it needs as I’m putting it under more stress than usual.  I also foam roll, do leg drains and stretch every night before going to bed. Many people ignore this piece but your body needs it!

One of my biggest fears about the 50 mile training (aside from getting my plantar fascitiis back) was that I would burn out with all this running….the opposite is happening…I’m more energized and excited at all the new possibilities that running will bring to me for years to come!

What was your favorite finish line? Why do you remember it?

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Getting High….and a Meltdown

….and My Story Runs On….

Forget about writing every week for my first 50 Miler…there is no time for that! It seems I can barely get my weekly runs in and my work done these days! But I had to share about my weekend experience….because I was on a serious high on Saturday and a serious low on Sunday….and realized this is probably a normal thing that could happen while training for a 50 Miler or endurance event? Anyone else relate?

runnershigh

Getting High!  Saturday I did Aravaipa’s Coldwater Rumble 20 Mile race. My plan was to do this as a training run (always great to have aid stations and be around other runners for a change!).  I was oddly psyched up for this event.  20 milers don’t seem like a big deal anymore (yikes! did I just say that?!) and I love Estrella Regional Park (my old stomping grounds). My plan was to be as strategic as possible with my energy conservation on this run.  I got a good nights sleep and was excited to see some friends that morning, including Bob, one of my client’s who was doing his first trail race, the 20K.  Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about my best run ever but I just had another one!  Here are some reasons I had a runner’s high all day on Saturday and why I yelled across the finish line “I feel f%$#king awesome!”:

  • Like Javelina Jangover (my best run to date), I planned.  I knew I had to strategize and manage my energy for the race.  It started out on a hill so I ChiWalked right away rather than wasting energy so soon in the race. I looked behind me and I was 5th to last…everyone was ahead but I didn’t care.
starthill

Hill at the start of the race!

  • I didn’t want to race the event but I did want to see how well I could do. I was alone most of the race which was perfectly fine with me.  I focused on my form, took in the breathtaking views, listened to music once in awhile and all around just focused on enjoying myself.  I’ve been listening to a lot of the audios from the ChiSchool on my canal runs so I kept focusing on my form and most importantly, trying to stay as energy efficient as possible.  My race performance is a clear example of how I am deepening my running practice.
  • 2nd Aid Station was at Mile 11 and since I was half way, I knew I could start tapping into that reserved energy I had been conserving all along.
  • I’ll be doing a separate blog post about my nutrition (after my 50 miler) but this has been huge for me.  I’ve been working with Brooke from Fuel to Finish.  Long story short, I’ve been feeling amazing during the week, during my runs and races.  I’ve never been this dialed in to fueling my body for performance and it feels amazing.
  • My last 9 miles were amazing. I still ChiWalked up the hills but I was very focused on changing my technique based on the environment that was coming at me.  I was paying attention to my pace and my goal was to be comparable to Javelina which was a 13:03 for 15 miles (although I was detached enough by listening to my body first)  It was hard to tell who I was passing since there were several distances going on.
  • The last few miles were downhill and used up all that free energy to my advantage.  I was truly feeling f%$#king awesome by the time I crossed the finish line.  I felt strong and was happy knowing that I could do more miles at that point if I had to (pretty soon I will be!)
  • When I checked my GPS, I found out that my fastest mile was my last one!  and when I checked my placement in the event (not normally a big deal for me but was curious), I was 56th out of 80 people.  By conserving my energy and being strategic, I was able to get in front of 24 people.  I posted this quote on my facebook the other day and the highlighted is definitely how I measured my success on this race!

“Some runners judge performance by whether they won or lost. Others define success or failure by how fast they ran, whether or not they matched their time expectations. Still others judge performance by how good they felt running, focusing on the experience. Only you can judge your performance. Avoid letting others sit in judgment of you.”
– Hal Higdon

And now for my Meltdown:

Note to self:  Don’t schedule 3 ChiRunning Alumni classes, a networking event, a 6 mile training run and dinner with your family the day after a big event (and add only getting 5.5 hours of sleep the night before).  I’ve told myself this before and for some reason I thought I could handle it…Well, I did handle it but at the cost of being a nervous wreck and having a complete crying meltdown at my parents house by the end of the day.  I love love teaching Alumni classes as I get to help my runners deepen their ChiRunning practice but they are always very draining for me as I cover a lot of material.  I started by day at 7am.  I haven’t attended Sisterhood of Superwomen in a while but I had a few friends that were going so I wanted to be there with them…then I had scheduled another training run but had to kill some time in between (when all I could think of is why did I schedule this rather than just doing my own thing so I could start/finish at my convenience)…then add on going to my parents house for dinner with the family.  I left the house at 6:30am and was on the go ALL day.  By the time dinner came, I just wanted to break down and cry as I was physically and mentally exhausted….and I DID!  It’s been a long time since I had one of those moments but I just had to let it out.

Once I got it together, I looked back at the scenario and some things were beyond my control while some where within….

Learning lesson:  Don’t underestimate the amount of rest my mind and body need while training for endurance events.  To go from a huge high on Saturday to a meltdown on Sunday seriously messed with me.  Not the first time I learn this lesson but apparently I need to remember this more often when planning my schedule….

So today is a rest day and I’m honoring getting done what I can and realizing that whatever doesn’t get done today, will get done tomorrow….or the next day…

groupprerace

always love seeing friends at a race!

finsihline

Finish line feeling amazing!

stats

pretty happy with these numbers but more importantly by how good I felt at the end! my pace was a 13:05 which is 2 sec slower than Javelina but 5 more miles sustained at it. I don’t pause my watch at aid stations as I like to see my true time.

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

5 Ways To Take The Dread Out of the Dreadmill

….and My Story Runs On….

I’m so behind on blogging about my 50 Mile Training journey but will get back to that very soon.  I couldn’t pass up posting about the dreaded treadmill as I’ve wanted to post about this before and it hasn’t happened it.

I’m an AZ girl and even in the summer when it’s 120 degrees, I run early in the morning or at night.  I’ve always hated the dreadmill!  One of the reasons I love trail running is because I’m out in nature enjoying the great outdoors. I seriously don’t know how people run on the treadmill all the time!  But remember, my message to everyone when it comes to running is that we each have our own running story so I respect that someone’s running story might just be about the treadmill!  This morning it was pouring so I didn’t have a choice…dreadmill

If you refer to the treadmill as the “dreadmill” or “Satan’s sidewalk”, you probably use it because you have to due of weather or maybe you are out of town on business and don’t know any safe locations to run.  This morning, I didn’t want to run in the rain and realized it is possible to take the dread out of the dreadmill…here are my suggestions:

  1. Change your attitude:  This was a huge epiphany for me. I realized just calling it the dreadmill was not positive. I am making a choice to run and what it the other option?  Not run at all? Well, of course I want to run! So embrace the treadmill as your option for this particular run and enjoy it! Just this change in attitude made me feel better about it.  Maybe you can get really good with your attitude and be like this guy!
  1. Mix it up:  This is a great time to try some intervals. Instead of thinking about being on the treadmill for 30 minutes, think about it as six 5 minute intervals!  In each 5 minute interval, switch it up every minute: you can go faster by increasing speed by .5 every minute OR you can add a bit of incline every minute, you can add walk breaks OR go faster than you normally do…which brings me to…
  2. How fast can you go? : The treadmill is a controlled environment. You can see and adjust your speed immediately.  I had a lot of fun working on speed intervals.  Even when I’m doing a track workout, I have to keep looking at my watch to see my pace.  On a treadmill, you can see it right there and so long as you are careful, you can manipulate your pace immediately. I had some fun with my intervals and seeing how fast I could go. I was playing around so I didn’t do this for long but it was funner than I thought it would be.
  3. Focus on your running form:  As a ChiRunning Instructor, this is something that I do often anyways.  However I realize that are some specific form focuses that I can feel better on the treadmill.  We always say in ChiRunning to make pretend you are running on the treadmill when you are on the road because the treadmill helps by bringing your legs behind you. I love focusing on pelvic rotation when on the treadmill as I can really feel the treadmill bring my leg back and then my hip follows it.  This morning I was working on really relaxing my lower legs and letting my knees bend and letting my pelvis rotate. One of my other favorite focuses on the treadmill are combining breathing with cadence.  I can get into a great rhythm! By the way, if you are a ChiRunner, click here for some great tips from Danny Dreyer about treadmill running. dannytreadmill
  4. Get distracted:  As much as working on form is a priority for me, sometimes it’s nice to get distracted too.  I rarely listen to music on the road or trails but on the treadmill, I enjoy it because I hardly ever do it. This morning I listened to a podcast for a while and then switched to some music. I’ve had friends tell me that they’ve watched entire movies or Netflix while on the treadmill too.

So next time you have no choice (or do you?), try these tips and see how they work out for you.  Heck, I might even just add a treadmill workout to my weekly routine after my 50 miler!

Anyone else have any other tips to share? ;)

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

2nd 50K: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Image

….and My Story Runs On….

My 2nd 50K is in the books! I finished the McDowell Mountain Frenzy put on by Aravaipa Running. Not sure where to start but will try and make this as short and sweet as possible.  I’ll start in reverse with the Ugly and saved my biggest aha moments for the end…….

The Ugly
WARNING: this part contains some material that might gross you out.
The worst part about the whole race which impacted me more than I wanted or expected it to was being on my period (feel free to skip down if you aren’t interested in this ;) ). Sorry, I know this might be TMI but seriously, this is a real issue for women.  I realized too late in the week that it was happening so had no way around it.  I don’t eat until I’m hungry when I run in the morning and I can’t take Motrin until I eat so I started out the first few hours dealing with cramping.  I hate taking Motrin anyways but knew it would help me.  I also couldn’t get control of my heart rate for those first few hours. In addition to dealing with the cramping until I could take some Motrin, I had to deal with no bathrooms.  Therefore I had to get off the course so no one would see me.  Only women will understand this but I didn’t bring enough products and was torn between not going to the bathroom and holding it OR going and not having a tampon to handle it..this impacted my ability to run so I had to walk more than I wanted to.
Lesson #1: Be more prepared.

The Bad

  • I wasn’t attached to any results for this race as it was a training run but I still wanted to do better than my last one. I finished at 8:19 and my last one was an 8:24. So it’s better but I was really hoping to do it in 7 hours.  Issue above impacted me and I’m over it.
  • I trained on part of this course but couldn’t do the whole thing. I wish I had.  Even though I’ve been doing quite a bit of trail running, the 3 mile climb at about mile 20 did me in.  I pretty much hiked most of this way and was hoping to catch up on the downhill…I did a bit but it was a rocky downhill and my knees were starting to bug me.
    Elevation profile

    Elevation profile

    Lesson #2:  Try to run the entire course or talk to more people that have completed it or just be better prepared.
    ChiRunning:  
    As my knees started bugging me, I realized that I was over striding which was causing the pain. As soon as I realized I was doing this, I immediately shortened my stride and the pain when away. (In ChiRunning you learn what causes pain and how to address it. You become your own detective).  Every time I felt myself getting tired uphill, I realized I wasn’t being efficient and I would start using my upper body.  This is one of my favorite techniques for ChiRunning hills.

The Good
So much to say here and trying to summarize:

  • Before I left for the race, I had a chance to see many of my good friends, my sister, niece and nephew.  I was creating the conditions for Chi to flow by relaxing and doing my body looseners but being surrounded by my family and friends was a great way to start! (They started counting down for the start and I had to rush to the start line…this frazzled me a bit but I tried to get back into my “mode”).
    Pre Race photo with some of my friends and sister!

    Pre Race photo with some of my friends and sister!

    ChiRunning:  Make sure you are relaxed before you start and get together mentally and physically. Nervous energy serves no purpose and doesn’t help with relaxing your body.

  • Shane!  He seriously helped me get through several rough spots during the race. He was doing his first 50K. We met earlier this year as his wife used to take boot camps from me at her work. We ran a bit before together in the Javelina Jangover race. We carry a very similar pace so we started together.  Unfortunately he had to deal with me griping about my “girlie” issues.  We made a deal though.  I told him not to wait for me when I had to get off the beaten path to take care of my business.  So we ran probably about half the race together in total.  We ran the first 6 miles together then we split up…then we found each other at an aid station at mile 12 and ran until I had to go again…then the hardest part of the race came (hilly part) This was the hardest part for me mentally and physically. I was sooo happy to see Shane at the next aid station at mile 22.  We fueled up and he carried a great pace downhill and we made up some good time.  At the end, my legs were tired and there were some steep up and downhills so he went ahead and finished a bit ahead of me.
    Lesson #3 Make a deal if you are running with someone on what you are doing.  I wouldn’t have wanted him to wait for me as this was his race too.  This could go either way..either stay together no matter what happens or decide it’s your own races and it’s OK to separate if necessary. But have no regrets…if you want to finish the race, do it, with or without your friend. These take a lot of training and time and you have take ownership for your race.

    Shane and I nice and fresh at the beginning of the race!

    Shane and I… nice and fresh at the beginning of the race!

  • The trail!  McDowell Mountains are one of my favorite spots to trail run.  I love our Arizona desert.  The trail had a lot of variety.
    ChiRunning:  One of the many things I love about ChiRunning is keeping my mind occupied with form focuses.  Not only is focusing on my form a good way to be as efficient as possible (and injury-free) but when you have a long way to go, being in the present moment helps time go by.  I also love doing a running meditation where I am focusing on each sense one a time for a few minutes.  So great to hear, smell, see and feel the desert.
  • My amazing friends!  I could hear people cheering as we approached the finish line. My legs were pretty tired and the last few miles were the technical part of the trail. I told Shane to go ahead! I could hear cheers for him and realized these were my friends!  Several of them had done the shorter distances and they waited for HOURS to see me finish!  My boyfriend also drove up to see me finish too.  The last few hills sucked and I was cursing at this point (well, I had cursed more than once before this point ;) ).  As soon as I crawled over the hill, I could see my friends who were all cheering for me.  Elaine was leaning over the fence and handed me a beer….I ran through the finish line, cold beer in hand getting hugs from all my friends. Couldn’t think of a better way to end a race!
    Last hill to get to the finish line..really?!

    Last hill to get to the finish line..really?!

    Post Race with my friends!

    Post Race with my friends!

    Grabbed and beer and ran through the finish line! I love how happy I am here! I did it!

    Grabbed and beer and ran through the finish line! I love how happy I am here! I did it!

    I did it!

    I did it!

Other AHA moments:

  • #NeverSayNever this is my new favorite hashtag. I remember saying I would never do a half marathon!  I have discovered the art form of running.  I love that I can run short or long distances, on road or trail, etc. There is so much to this sport that people don’t realize.  I want to enjoy it for the rest of my life and the possibilities are endless..but always remember, it’s your running story! You choose where you want to take your running journey (and coaxing from friends doesn’t hurt either sometimes!)
  • I had this thought SEVERAL times….and I signed up for a 50 miler?  How the hell am I going to do 20 more miles?  As I’ve been told, you just don’t think about this…this is true regardless of distance….I remember wandering this same thing after a half marathon while in preparation for  a full marathon…but somehow, and sometimes you just can’t even remember how you do it, you just do it.
  • Biggest AHA moment:  Don’t downplay your mileage!  Up until midweek, I kept thinking, “this is just a training run”.  I said that to myself and others several times. Maybe I kept saying it so I wouldn’t get nervous and waste energy…or didn’t want to make it a big deal…but dang it, I finished my 2nd 50K and that’s the 2nd longest distance I have ever ran in my life…so yes, it is a big freaking deal! So don’t downplay your mileage (whatever it is) and celebrate that heck out your finish line!

Thanks to Aravaipa for putting on an amazing event as always and all the volunteers!

Antelope Canyon 50 Miles, here I come!

(P.S. I am raising money for Girls On The Run for my 50 miler.  I’m on the Board of Directors of this amazing organization. The 50 mile run is the day after my 45th birthday. I wish I had this program when I was a kid as I would’ve started running much earlier in my life.  Running has changed my life and I want to help as many young girls as possible realize their full potential.  Any donation is greatly appreciated!)

One of my new favorites!

One of my new favorites!

Life is short! Do It!

Life is short! Do It!

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

My Biggest Struggle with 50 Mile Training

….and My Story Runs On….

Just finished Week #12 and excited to be into a taper week! I usually dread taper weeks because I feel like I lose momentum but it’s very important for the body to get rest before a big event (next weekend is the 50K which I first signed up for and has become a “training run” for the 50 Miler.)

My Biggest Struggle:  this is a part time job!  I’m getting frustrated  because I need to get my training runs in and I have several projects that I’m trying to work on for my business.  I can’t seem to ever get ahead…as a matter of fact, I keep falling more behind.  I had a conversation with my business coach and he told what I already knew: I need to figure out what to give up so I can get my stuff done…not sure I have decided yet but I need my sleep (rest is crucial for my mind and body); I cherish spending time with my boyfriend, family and friends; and I need to get work done! Hoping during this taper week I can get caught up a bit!

Here is what Week #12 looked like:  schedule and actual

Week Of Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Miles
23-Nov 12 CD 0 4 10 6 0 10 8 38
0 5.5 10 3 10 0 6 34.5

Tuesday 11/24:  Did 5.5 miles on trail at South Mountain with my friend Vicki.  Saw a coyote and a road runner!  One of the many things I love about trail running is you get to be closer to nature.  Here are some of my pics.
Wednesday 11/25: Did 10 trail miles at Papago with my friend Lori. I am enjoying running with different friends! We had fun just exploring around.
Thursday 11/26:  Thanksgiving morning!  Love our annual tradition.  It was the Friends 4 Fitness Annual Turkey Trot. So great to see many of my friends that I don’t get to see often!
Friday 11/27:  Decided it’s time to get a bit more serious about sand training (Antelope Canyon 50 miler apparently has 30 miles of sand!)  Elaine, Vicki and I went out to McDowell Mountain and started some sand wash training.  Our goal was to do 10 miles in the sand until Elaine mentioned it might be smart to work our way up…AGREED!  So we did 4 miles in the sand.  I was ChiRunning as much as I could…tried not to use my calf muscles but the sand was pretty deep…happy to say I wasn’t sore the next day so I that’s a good sign!
Sunday 11/29:  Did a 6 mile trail run with a few other friends (so grateful for all my running friends so we can keep each other motivated!)  Today I also took an amazing Restorative Yoga class from my friend Lisa Hecke from Sacred Harts. She does this class on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I’ve done it for the last 3 years. A great way to relax the mind, body and spirit!

No major aha moments (outside of my biggest struggle).  I have not been sore, even after the long weekend of running last week. I’m grateful for my ChiRunning form as I know this is THE major reason why I can even attempt 50 miles mentally and physically.

Next Saturday is my 2nd 50K! I’m oddly jazzed up about it mainly just to see how I will do.

Fundraising update:

Haven’t really done much with it this week.  Every little bit helps though!

Previous blogs posts in this series:

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)