Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016's Final Runfession

This episode of Runfessions is a big one - the end of the week and the end of the year.  It feels like 2016 has been a bit of a wild ride for many people, and it certainly has for me, too.  However, I have had some wonderful experiences and great things happen as well.  I'm okay to allow 2016 to slip into the past with big hopes for 2017.  With that, let's enter the Runfessional!
Cheers to 2016 and welcome 2017!
1. I runfess that I have become a bit of a high maintenance runner when it comes to the weather.  In normal life, I HATE being cold (seriously, like despise).  That makes things tough for my runner self because I have come to accept that I am so much better in cooler temps.  Christmas day brought 70 degrees and sun here in Nashville.  I was excited to head out and run in a tank top and shorts ... and shortly into it felt miserable in the "heat."  Where has the tough runner inside me gone?
Ice Marathon - I'm not this tough either.
2. I runfess that I've been feeling a little weird about my upcoming Boston Marathon.  I am so excited and honored and glad to be having the opportunity to be part of such a historic event.  Yet, I can't help feel a little like I don't belong.  I didn't qualify (and most likely never would), so does that make me a less legitimate runner? It definitely won't be my first or last marathon and I'll be running the same 26.2 miles as everyone else that day (with Katherine Switzer and for an amazing charity), so hopefully I'll be able to "get over it."
3.  I runfess that over the holidays my eating has gotten better, but my sleeping habits have gotten worse.  I'm a night owl by nature, so given the opportunity, my bedtimes and wakeups creep toward teenage levels.  I'm dreading having to get back onto a more normal schedule, but if I don't it will impact my morning runs (not an option - did I mention I'm back in marathon training?).

4.  I runfess that I am nearly out of room for new medals on my existing medal racks in my treadmill room - what one friend of mine calls my "I love me" room because of all the medals.  I runfess that I am proud of my medals and do not feel one bit guilty about it!
5. I runfess that I miss my running buddies.  I've been doing a lot of solo running lately, but get so much energy and have so much more fun running with other people.  Hopefully in 2017 I'll get back to finding some buds to hit the paths with again soon!

I'm linking up with some of my favorite ladies  - Marcia's Healthy Slice for Runfessions and Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday Five 2.0.
What are your runfessions?
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Running Takeaways

So we are in the last week of 2016, can you believe it?  Pretty soon we will be saying goodbye and welcoming in a new year, full of hopes and resolutions.  Before that though, let me pause for a moment and think about the year that is almost over.  I promise I'll keep this brief.
1. This running community is amazing.  This blog and my subsequent entry into social media (I know, I know) has helped me feel more connected and supported than ever before.  You all are so wonderful and welcoming.  Major thanks for that!

2. I find more joy in helping others with running (especially new runners), than focusing on my own goals.  I've had the honor of helping a number of people this year - build training plans, navigate common pitfalls, provide motivation - and it's made me a better runner and a better person.

3. It's way better to know your limits than push it and get injured.  I did a lot more "listening to my body" this year and it really paid off.  I stayed healthier even if I didn't break any land speed records.  I am really okay with that plan!

4. Long runs feel way better with adequate fueling.  Thanks to the incredible Wendy, I am now firmly on the Tailwind train.  Already, I can tell it's making a big difference in my energy level.  I'm looking forward to seeing what this will mean to me in 2017.
5. I really need to do more to support my body in 2017.  I did not do enough strength/stability work.  There are only so many hours in the day and this really fell off the list.  Thankfully, my body held in there, but I know that I really am not doing things the way that I should.

I'm joining up with some of my blogger friends for Tuesdays on the Run! Check them out - Marcia, Patty, and Erika.

What are you taking away from 2016?
What is the thing you're most proud of this year?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Weekly Wrap: Boston Bound

So it's been a crazy last couple of weeks - sorry for being so quiet.  You know, the whole sprint to the end of the year at work thing.  However, despite a manic work schedule and a pretty uneventful running schedule, major things have been happening in my running life.  The title of this post basically sums up my news, but you're probably thinking, "wait I thought you said you weren't fast and I didn't see another marathon on your calendar so how could you have qualified?" Correct questions on both counts.  However, something unexpected happened in New York when I ran the marathon last month: I met Katherine Switzer (more details on that HERE).
Katherine has devoted her life to running and to helping women around the world.  Her first historic Boston Marathon run has been the basis of her work and her charity - 261 Fearless.  261 was her number when she was the first woman to register and run Boston 50 years ago.
Doesn't that just sound wonderful? It's crazy to think about how far our sport has come, and especially how far it has come for women.  Right now, the marathon is the only distance in which male still outnumber female participants.  It has grown, become more inclusive, become more empowering, and I love everything about that.  Running has given me so much over that years that I want to do everything I can to support others.  
Katherine keeps her bibs, too! At least this one!
So when Katherine announced in New York that she was coming back to run Boston again in 2017 (50 years later) and that she was bringing a team to run with her, I signed right up to learn more.  The minute I got home, I applied for the team.  Let me tell you, it was an intense application process, but I get it.  This is a race that most runners dream of running and the vast majority will never have the chance to do.
261 Fearless Values - is this awesome or what?
And then I waited and waited and waited.  Just when I thought all hope was lost, I got a call for an interview ... and then I was in.  I was in the 121st running of the Boston Marathon with a champion of women's running supporting a charity I believe in to my core.  It doesn't quite feel real - not quite like getting a BQ finish and registering - but I am terribly grateful and cannot imagine how I am lucky enough to get to be part of such a historic event.
So here I go again, starting up marathon training.  And not just any marathon, the BOSTON MARATHON! Yikes!  So yes, this is how the last couple of my weeks have gone.  As part of this, I am going to be raising money for this awesome charity.  If you'd like to keep up with my fundraising progress, or if you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation, here is the link to my fundraising page.
I'm linking up with two strong and fabulous and supportive women this week. Check out HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin!

Have you run the Boston Marathon?
What charities/causes are you most passionate about?

Friday, December 16, 2016

How To Not Poop Your Pants While Running

Warning: we are about to get a little closer.  Being running friends means we can talk about things that you normally wouldn't with non-running people.  So if you're not comfortable with that, you may want to stop reading.  Like right now.  This is your last chance to exit this post ... okay you've now been warned.
Today, my dad sent me an email that was one of those, "hey maybe you should look at this" emails. You know, one of those gentle pushes that only a parent or close friend can make.  Because it was a really useful article, I wanted to share it, but to do that I also have to fess up to something: for nearly the entire 26.2 miles of the New York City Marathon, I felt like I was about to poop my pants.  To be clear, I did not actually poop my pants, but the situation was pretty critical for a while!
(Virgin Money London Marathon)
In all my years of running, this has never been an issue and hasn't been an issue since.  I have known plenty of runners who suffer from GI issues - one of the most common being "Runner's Trots."  Peter Sagal wrote one a really great, funny article about it last year for Runners World.  I have just been fortunate enough to never have to plan my runs around potty locations.  So what then happened to me in New York?  Based on the article my dad was pointing me to, How to Avoid Stomach Problems On the Run, I think I have a couple of ideas:

1. I get really nervous before marathons.  Stress can release hormones that can slow or even stop your digestive processes (this definitely happened to me).  Once the race starts though, the nerves subside because you don't have the time or energy to worry, which can then restart your digestive process at the most inopportune time.
2. Though I had experimented with energy chews on an 18 miler before the race (without issue), the majority of my training was done without.  It's possible this could have wreaked havoc on my digestive tract the day of the race.
Wouldn't know there were any issues by these smiles!
If you have stomach issues, but neither of these apply to you, other factors could be causing them.  Simply the action of running (tons of bouncing up and down on your system) or certain foods could be irritating.  But the good news is that there are things you can do.  For me, I'm experimenting with a new fueling system - Tailwind - during my long runs (so far, going GREAT). You may want to experiment with one of multiple of these things:

1. Eat lower fiber foods the day before a big run/race.
2. Do a little warm-up run to "get things moving" with time to hit the port-a-potties before hitting your start corral.
3. Adjust your carb/sugar/hydration plan for race day.  Being under-hydrated or too much carb/sugar mix could cause problems.

So if you have belly issues, don't worry you're not alone! There are lots of different things to try.  And worst case, you wouldn't be the first person to poop your pants while running - Grete Waitz famously had diarrhea, kept running despite millions of people watching, and still won the New York City Marathon.  Maybe Grete Waitz was with me in spirit that day ... I just wish she had picked a different way to make her presence known.

Have you ever had stomach problems during a big race?
What are some of your biggest lessons learned?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Race Review: Panattoni Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon

This weekend was a milestone for me - it was my 45th Half Marathon, but it was also a weekend with my runner mama who was in town.  This was our second Panattoni Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon (Mt. Juliet is the town just east of Nashville), and I will preface this by saying that I really love small, local races.  There is no way that a race like this is even comparable to a bit city/big event race, so you have to appreciate it for what it is (which is sweet and home town-y).  As soon as my mom got in, we hit the "expo."
Okay, so "expo" might not be the right word - it was in the gym of the local middle school, but it was efficient - we were in and out of there in a few minutes.  And along with our long sleeve race shirts, we did get free ornaments and jingle bells for our shoes!  Race morning came with lots of sunshine and cold temps!
Couldn't resist!
Thankfully, the start time was pushed back to 10:45 AM, but it was still only 31 degrees when we lined up. Winter came suddenly to our little piece of Tennessee (and my mom was traveling in from southern Arizona), so we had a lot of talk about exactly how many layers we would need! Because this is such a small race (500 runners between the half marathon and 5k), we were able to huddle in the middle school and use indoor bathrooms before the race began.
Alright, so let's play a little game - anyone notice what's missing in this picture? Maybe in the wrist area? Yep, that's right.  I left my shiny new Garmin at home.  Thankfully, my mom brought hers and we were running together, but makes me crazy to forget things.
This race kicks off the annual holiday parade - think pickup trucks pulling trailers full of kids and decorations and music and candy (told you, sweet and home town-y).  It was cold, but we got a nice bright day with minimal wind. We were also excited to try out the new course, which we were told we would enjoy because it wasn't as hilly.
Without much fanfare (no fireworks), just the national anthem and someone yelling "go," we were off!  The race starts down Mt. Juliet's main road and there were spectators waiting for the parade (when we passed they must have thought it was the worst parade ever). The majority of this race is on roads still open to traffic, so runners do have to be a bit careful.
Though not entirely flat (this is Tennessee after all), the course was less hilly than last year.  Personally, I liked last year's course better because, though tougher, I thought it was prettier.  My mom and I both carried fuel, but there were several aid stations with water/power aid and gels/chews.  They also had awesome volunteers who worked really hard running out to meet the runners with cups in hand.
We had a great time, but were happy to see the finish line (back at the middle school) and collect our medals.  This wasn't even close to a PR for either of us, but we had a great time running together (always do).  And even more exciting, my mom placed second in her age group!
The Bottom Line:
Run This Race If: You're going to be in the Nashville area around this time of year and love small, local races (or if you're looking for a run to get you in the holiday spirit).  Good possibility to win age group awards and they gave out great prizes for winners!
Course: Loop route, all on roads, most open to traffic.  Not flat, but not the most challenging Nashville race either. Consider bringing some additional hydration/fuel to supplement what is provided at the aid stations.
What Makes It Unique: Kicks off the town's annual holiday parade, so more spectators and high fives than you might see at a typical small, local race.  Lots of local charm.
Cost: Moderate.
Half Marathon5k
12/01/15 - 01/31/16: $6012/01/15 - 01/31/16: $25
2/1/16 - 11/19/16: $702/1/16 - 11/19/16: $30
11/20/16 -12/09/16: $8011/20/16 -12/09/16: $35
Race Site: $90Race Site: $45
Date and Time: Saturday in early December.  Half Marathon started this year at 10:45 and the 5k started at 10:55.
Would I Do It Again: Sure would and hopefully my mom will be coming back to join me!

Monday, December 5, 2016

runDisney 2017 Princess Medal Reveal

Happy Medals Monday! Alright Disney Princess fans, we got a big reveal this morning!  RunDisney gave us ALL of the medals to be earned during the upcoming Princess Half Marathon Weekend, which will be the 9th anniversary.  Okay so here we go!
As was previously suspected and confirmed, it's going to be a Beauty and the Beast themed weekend.  With the release of the 25th anniversary animated film this year and the much-anticipated live action version, this was not a huge surprise.  What may come as a surprise is some of the BIG changes to these medals. Let's go through them!
Since Lumiere got his own challenge this year (part of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend), Cogsworth gets his own kids races and accompanying medals.  These medals are still rubber and colorful to keep the small ones safe.
Mrs. Potts and Chip take center stage on the 5k medal.  This will be the first "metal" medal for the Princess weekend since runDisney announced earlier this year that all 5k medals would move away from the rubber design.  You can really see the bright, themed ribbon on this one.
The 10k medal starts to be all about the Princess of honor this race weekend - Belle.  Not only does her silhouette, with legendary magical rose) appear on the medal, she also graces the ribbon.  While the general 10k medal style is consistent with years past, the ribbons have never featured the princess' images.
And now for the big one - the Half Marathon.  When I first saw this, I was shocked.  Typically, the half marathon medals have been subtly themed with a more general princess feel.  This one is all out Belle with the magical rose as the point of focus.  Gone are the crystals and tiaras, instead we get enamel and a new shape.
The Glass Slipper Challenge (you earn this for running the 10k and the half marathon distances) is also getting an update.  It's been converted into a spinner for 2017 and will feature the famous glass slipper on one side, with a fresh Glass Slipper Challenge design on the other side.

To be honest, I'm not sure what I think right now.  First reaction is that I love the 5k and 10k designs.  I'm okay with the spinning Glass Slipper Challenge medal, though find it unnecessary.  I'm really conflicted about the Half Marathon.  I loved the elegance and not overly themed design of previous years.  This is all Beauty and the Beast, no doubt about it and that unique identity is likely what runDisney was going for here.

So what do you think - do you love them, like them, hate them?
Are you running any of the 2017 Princess races?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Weekly Wrap: What Would You Do?

Another week of 2016 gone - they seem to be going faster and faster!  Nothing significant to report, got my runs in and continuing to feel better and more recovered post marathon.  I've actually been feeling pretty strong on my long runs, which has been pleasantly surprising since I've been running on the harder (i.e. hilly) path.  So something happened yesterday during my long run that caused me to reflect for the rest of the run, and I thought I would put it out there as a "what would you do."
Okay, so here it goes.  Part of the path is mixed use, meaning cards can drive on it (though I've never seen one until yesterday).  A guy I don't know flagged me down.  So what would you do?  Would you stop and see what he needed or would you keep running?  On the one hand, I was on a long run (not trying to nail a particular pace), am naturally gregarious and nurturing, and want people to have good opinions of runners.  On the other hand, I was alone, there was no one in sight, and the world can be a crazy place.
Without thinking much, I stopped and provided the lost guy directions.  Nothing bad happened and I got in a great 8 mile run, but it really made me stop and consider if I was right or if didn't follow the "stranger danger" law ingrained in me as a child.  So what would you have done?
This week I'm linking up with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin, fresh from their great time at the Panama City Beach Half Marathon!

What do you do to stay safe on runs?

Friday, December 2, 2016

5 Things I Would Buy All Over Again

In the spirit of gift idea lists and the insane shopping spree I went on last weekend (and because it's the theme this week), I'm bringing you the 5 things I would buy all over again.  After more than 10 years running, I've tried a TON of things, but if I'm going to limit myself for the purposes of this post, there are certainly a few tried and true standouts, the things you look back on and say "that was worth every single penny."  So here we go!
1. No question, an investment in a good pair of running shoes fitted properly based on how I ran.  Now, these shoes have changed over the years, but every runner needs them whether they are just beginning or grizzled veterans.  Some day soon I'm going to write a full review of my On experience because there is a reason I call them my "magic" shoes.  I bought them at a runDisney expo, wore them straight out of the box into a back-to-back 10k and half marathon, and haven't looked back.
2.  I generally carry a lot of stuff when I run.  What can I say, I like to be prepared.  The problem is, when you want to carry stuff when you run, you have to have a WAY to carry that stuff.  And when you run, things tend to bounce.  When you stuff bounces, it's really annoying and distracting.  I've tried a few systems, but my favorite is my Flip Belt.  It's secure (you choose your size), doesn't move, and holds all kinds of things that you can stuff all the way around the belt, not just one compartment.  I did buy one and I actually bought a second one in a different color!
3.  Over the years I've struggled with fueling and hydration, including how to carry it.  My closet is practically a graveyard for discarded hydration systems.  The one I keep returning to though is my Camelbak handheld.  It's a great size (can usually get me up to 10 miles unless it's crazy hot), has a nice loop for your hand to prevent fatigue carrying it (adjustable), and locks/unlocks really easily.  Plus, in case you carry too much stuff (guilty as charged) it has an additional pocket.  I've had my first one for about five years and this year got a second one.  Again, so good, I bought it all over again!
4.  I don't really have the ability to just walk out my front door and run.  To really get anywhere I WANT to run, I have to drive a few minutes.  That means putting my sweaty self back in my car post run though.  A couple of Christmases ago, my mom bought me this amazing wrap from Orange Mud.  It has this easy to use clip system you can wrap around your waist or shoulders to change outside with some modesty.  However, I use it for the zipper hood it creates, allowing you to put it over your car seat and protect said seat after a sweaty run.  This thing is genius, so much better than a beach towel.  Once again, I've bought a second one because I love it so much.

5. My last item isn't really just one thing.  My first real race, the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2009, I was convinced would be my last real race.  I didn't have much money at the time, but splurged on a zip up and a tee shirt.  I've kept these and my race shirt throughout the years (44 half marathons later) and have bought way more items from expos and races.  And you know what? Despite any "in the moment" anguish, I've never regretted purchasing any of these items.  They are wonderful reminders of the effort I've put in, what I've accomplished, a great time.  I would buy those items all over again and will continue to buy more as I race my way through life!
I'm linking up with the ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday Five 2.0!

Have you tried any of these items?
What's the best race merchandise you decided to buy?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Weekly Wrap: Black Friday Aftermath

Since I've gotten my November Runfession out of the way and have attempted to alleviate myself of my shopping guilt, I thought I would share the treasures I've purchased with you over the last 48 hours.  But first, let's start with running.  I did not run an organized Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, but I did my own "trot" in the morning and ate turkey in the afternoon.  I'm in week 3 of NYC Marathon recovery and think I'm doing pretty well, but I'm running a half with my mom in two weeks and so mentally wanted to feel prepared.  I did my long run a day early, but got in a nice 10 miles (on the difficult path), felt strong, felt like I could have definitely gone further, and ran negative splits!  Maybe I'm stronger than I thought?
So this picture exposes one of my Black Friday transgressions, so let's just go there.  First up, I retired my 8 year old Garmin and bought myself a nice, shiny, purple Garmin 230!  My local Fleet Feet was having a major sale (scored this $70 off), which also made me feel better that I was supporting my local running store.
They were also running a sock sale (buy 3 get 1 free) and my Garmin purchase resulted in a $25 credit.  So then I got a great deal on some new socks, which I definitely needed.  Plus these bright colors just made me happy.
Next up, I got really crazy.  Most of the time I run alone and music is just one of those things I have to have.  I try to stay aware of my surroundings, but you can never be too safe.  I've been hearing a lot lately about Aftershokz (open ear, bone conduction headphones).  There was a deal where if you bought a pair, you also go 6 free mystery gifts - I scooped up a pink pair and had a 10% off coupon.  Can't wait to try these babies out and see my extra gifts!
Then there was the purchase I never expected to make, but the chatter about the 40% off sale at 2XU was too much to take.  I also had an extra 10% off coupon, so I got a crazy good deal on some compression tights.  I have to say that these are the ones I'm most excited about getting.
I did get a few other things, but they would reveal Christmas presents for at least a couple people who support my blog, so I can't go there yet :)  So, I feel like even though I spent WAY more on myself than I usually do - especially all in one shot - I did get exceptionally good deals on all of these things and I will certainly use them all.  Expect reviews in the future!

I'm linking up with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap.  Promise my next Weekly Wrap will be more running and less shopping!
Did you make any big splurges?
Do you have/have you used any of the items I purchased?
What's your next race?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Five: November Runfessions

Is it the last weekend in November already?  Where is 2016 going?!  It's been a busy month for me - personally, professionally, runningly (yes, I realize I completely made that word up).  However, most of that activity was loaded into the first half of the month and so I've spent most of the back half recovering.  Which leads to my monthly runfessions!

1. I runfess that I've been bad this Black Friday.  I'm trying not to think about the money I've spent in the last 24 hours.  The good news is that I have nearly ALL of my Christmas shopping done.  On the flip side, I've bought more for me than I usually do, which makes me feel (probably unnecessarily) guilty.  Am I excited about all of these things? Yes.  Did I get a fantastic deal on all of these things?  Again, yes.  Do I work hard to make the money I spent on these things?  You better believe it.  I'll have to figure out how to let it go!
2.  I runfess that I've been trigger shy on a couple of races (which is definitely not like me).  I think the biggest reason is that I don't have anyone - yet - to run with me and races just aren't as much fun for me without the social element.

3.  I runfess that I have felt like a running slacker lately.  I'm still recovering from the New York City Marathon, but I'm starting to feel a little anxiety about being really prepared for the Disney Princess Half Marathon (I'm doing the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon).  I usually don't do a hard-line training plan unless we're talking about a marathon, but I do believe that I need to get a little more on the band wagon or else I'll risk getting off of my routine.
4.  I runfess that I'm behind on the blog.  Hopefully I've been keeping up reading and commenting on your awesome entries, but I've not been writing enough of my own.  I'll get back on it - promise!

5. I runfess that I'm still not adjusted to these winter hours.  I love sleep and I'm really good at it (I'm talking 8-9 hours a night), but these short days are messing with me.  It feels like the older I get, the harder it is for me to adjust to changes in time - daylight savings, different time zones when traveling, etc.  Who knew my body and brain were so change averse?!

I'm linking up with Marcia's Healthy Slice for Runfessions as well as Fairy Tales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday Five 2.0.  Check them out!

What's your favorite running "splurge?"
What's the next race you're really excited about?