Hopelessly Spiraling Downward

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 18 months since my last post.  My how my life have made some radical changes in such as short period of time.  My last post talked about my son in his senior year in high school.  Little did I know that boy would end up joining the Navy like his big sister, Katie.  So now I proudly have two sailors in the family.  I’m sure you will hear more about them and their eldest sister, Brittany and her husband, Adrian.  I can’t help talk about my kids… they are my pride and joy.

2015 saw a lot of changes for me including some time management challenges that really hurt my running.  We’ve been working on building a new church since late-2013, so every single Saturday (and a lot of evenings after work) was spent working on the building.  It cut into my running time a lot and kept me from enjoying a lot of Saturday races.

Then, in June 2015, I enrolled in Northcentral University and started on my Doctorate of Business Administration.  I had forgotten just how much time one had to devote to research, reading and writing when pursuing a graduate degree, but I was quickly reminded early in the first class.  Unfortunately, it absolutely demolished my running time.  I had also started lifting weights with some co-workers three mornings a week to add to my running training.  However, the late nights studying and writing research papers left me too exhausted to get up at 5:00am for the early morning lifts or runs.

To add to the mix, working 45+ hours a week at a stressful job didn’t help.  And then I faced the heartbreaking challenges of having one sailor deployed for over nine months and traveling around the world on the aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and my other sailor (my baby and only son) leave for Navy boot camp and being away from home for longest stretch of his young life.

So I watched my workouts slowly fade.  I went from running 100-mile months to almost no miles at all…. to running 15-mile long runs on Sunday to being lucky if I could get in at least one short 2-miler during the week.  Lifting became non existent.  I lost all my muscle tone, strength and endurance.  I quickly lost weight from the loss of muscle, but then started to watch the scales go back up as the tummy fat took over.  My diet consisted of overeating of junk food filled with fat and calories, and worst of all…. I had started smoking again.  I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.  I was unhappy in my skin and did not like the person, both the flabby physique and poor attitude, that kept looking back at me in the mirror.  I looked into eyes of disgust, frustration and defeat.  I was hopelessly spiraling downward quickly.

Arrow-Blue-20I knew I had to make changes, so I set out to re-evaluate my training, my mind, my life and my soul.  Something had to change if I were to get myself back on track.  I felt like I was in one of those dreams where you’re running as hard and as fast as you can, but you realize you’re actually running in slow motion….. feeling like you’re running in water…. and getting nowhere fast.  I was slowly dying inside in more ways than one.  I felt lost on the trail with no hope of ever making it to the finish line.  Something had to change… and it had to change quickly.

Have you ever felt like you were in that running dream…. heavy, slow and motionless??  When too many things were crashing down on you and you couldn’t run away??

How did you handle it?  My next post will share some of the things I did to pull myself back up, straighten out my life and get back to doing what I loved to do….. run.

Check back in soon to read my resolutions.  Until then…. enjoy the run!!

 

Too Many Irons in the Fire

WOW….I knew I hadn’t posted for a while, but didn’t realize how long it had been. February 23rd was my last post. I had intentionally taken some time off as my scheduled just got a little crazy recently. I work a full-time job as a facility director for a correctional training academy, but I’m also an adjunct professor for a small local college and teach a couple of classes a week. I can typically handle all that and still get my housework/laundry done, blog once in a while and keep up with my running and racing schedule. However, my son added an extra element to the mix that made it near impossible to keep my head above water.  I ended up with too many irons in the fire.Tony

You see…my son is a senior in high school this year. Plus, he is the baby. I have no more “kids”, just adult children. So I made it a point to make him, his education and sporting events top priority this year. Of course he has to play three sports which keeps us busy year round, but that’s ok. Football season wasn’t too hard to keep up with since they only play one game a week. But basketball proved a little more difficult with 2-3 games a week, and now it’s baseball with as many a 6-8 games a week.  He keeps me running, and it’s not the kind of running that prepares me for half marathons.  But…. just look at this face….

Who could refuse this man-boy the simple pleasure of having his mom watch him play baseball??  (Just so you know, he’s being a goofball in this picture because they just won the game.)

Well, I couldn’t resist. However, I couldn’t keep up with everything and something had to go. So I took a hiatus from  Running Hills and Hollars….the blog, not the actually running.

His season is winding down which is proving to be very bittersweet for me.  I’ve watched this boy play baseball since he was just a tot and even shorter than the bat he would swing.  I can remember his first hit off the T when he took off towards 3rd base instead of 1st base, and when everyone started yelling, he just cut across the pitcher’s mound.  Best of all….he was still safe.  You gotta love T-ball.  😀

In just four weeks, he will be graduated from high school.  He’s already registered for fall courses at college, and he will be on his way in the adult world.  Although I’m so very excited for him, I need something to keep me distracted from the inevitable heartache and deafening silence of the empty nest I’m about to face, so I’ll be back to Running Hills and Hollars more.  This spring I have run some distance races on which I’ll be posting reviews very soon, such as “Haulin’ in the Holler 25K Trail Run” and the “Gristmill Grinder Trail Half Marathon”  to mention just a couple.  I’m also now eligible to become a Half Fanatic, so that’s definitely worthy of a blog post when I receive that honor.

I’ll be back at blogging this week with my first of many reviews for summer races here in West Virginia.  Be sure to stop back in to catch up, and I appreciate the patience of my readers during my time off.

Have you ever needed to step back from blogging for a while….

maybe due to burnout, or family obligations or some other reason? 

Please share your story.  I’d like to think I’m not the only one.

Until next time…..enjoy the run!! 😀

 

 

 

Learning from a Bonk

Running is easy!  It’s the easiest sport out there….right?  I mean, all you do is move your legs and off you go.  Move the legs faster and you run faster, move them slower and your run slower.  There’s no strategy, no thought process, no planning….. you just go run…. simple as that.

Ok, ok…. don’t click on the back button.  Let me finish.  If you continue reading, I’m guessing you’re one of the following people.  Either your are…

  1. A non-runner who is looking for confirmation in what you’ve been saying all along
  2. A beginner that’s thinking…. “If this is true, I’m doing something wrong.”
  3. An experienced runner who’s saying to yourself…. “This lady is nuts!  But I’ll read on just for the entertainment.”

Well, for the non-runner… sorry, but my first paragraph couldn’t be further from the truth.  But if you’re looking for a challenge, I encourage you to give running a try.  And read on because what I’m about to blog may just help you out one day.

For the other two, you’ll just be shaking your head and saying either “Good lesson learned…. thanks for sharing!” or “Been there… Done that!!”

distancetired

I’m training for my first 25K, so I’m racking up the miles on my long run.  But with the crazy weather we see here in West Virginia in February, sometimes I have to be flexible with my training schedule.  I do my LSD runs on the weekends, mostly on Sundays.  However, this weekend I run my 14-mile LSD on Saturday afternoon as the forecast was calling for sunny skies and temps in the 60’s…. awesome weather!! Sunday was calling for rain. I wanted a spring-like run outside, so I decided…. kinda last-minute…. to do the LSD on Saturday.

So, I rode with my son to his baseball batting practice and 14.5 miles from the house, he dropped me off and I headed home.  The first few miles went well… I enjoyed hearing the birds singing, saw several squirrels scurrying up trees and deer running through the fields, and felt the sun shinning in my face and the breeze gently blowing.  Several cars blew their horns when they passed by, and I even saw some folks on motorcycles.  They always wave… they seem to adopt runners into their secret hand waving club.  😀

As normal, between mile three and four, I sipped some water and chewed on some beans, then washed them down with one more sip of water.  I was feeling good.  But around mile seven, I started feeling tired.  It wasn’t my breathing, nor was it my legs feeling heavy, but a weariness in my upper body.  I got to thinking about it and remembered that I had done a fairly tough upper body strength training workout the evening before…. one of my P90X3 workouts.  Plus I had run three miles on the treadmill.  But I had really pushed myself on the strength workout, and now I was still feeling it.  I was amazed at how much it affected my running today.  But I kept pushing through.

Then, somewhere between mile 9 and 10, I “bonked” or hit the wall.  Again, my legs weren’t really heavy and my breathing was ok, but I just wasn’t feeling well.  It took everything I had to swing my arms and I started getting sick to my stomach.  My fingers were swollen to the point that I couldn’t clinch a fist.  I just wasn’t feeling well.  For the first time ever, I almost called someone to come pick me up.   The last couple of miles I walked a lot.  I turned off my Garmin at mile 14 and completely walked the last half mile as a cool down.  And I walked very slowly.

When I finally got home, I was exhausted.  I drank some ice water while I made a protein shake.  I added frozen strawberries, a banana and some almond milk with the protein mix, and threw everything in the blender.  In just minutes, I was drinking my coction in hopes of regaining some of my strength soon.  As soon as I finished that up, I changed out my sweaty clothes for something dry, stretched out across the bed and fell asleep hard…. for three hours (and yes, without the shower).  I reiterate…. I. Was. Exhausted.

When I got up, I felt a little better, but still not 100%.  I took a nice long hot shower, put on some clean clothes and decided to do some menial housework.  That didn’t last long.  I was still tired and still not feeling very well.  So I ate something again and spent the rest of the evening watching TV and napping on the couch.  I finally went to bed at 10:30 and fell fast asleep.

I thought about it today and run the last couple of days through my mind over and over to figure out just what went wrong.  I’ve run half marathons before and ran double-digit training runs lots of times, but never had I felt this bad.  Then I remembered what I had done on Friday, the day before.  My diet on that day was not at all supportive of an 14-mile run coming the following day.  I had not met my daily required 170+ carbs, let alone carb-loaded for a long run.  Additionally, I drank a lot of coffee on Friday instead of water-bombing like I usually do the day before a long run.  So, I was not adequately fueled and hydrated in addition to being physically stressed from the upper-body strength workout and 3-mile treadmill run on Friday evening.  It’s no wonder I was so tired and weary during the last portion of my run and afterwards as well.

BonkSo what was my lesson learned….. not be flexible with my training schedule?  No, I always need to be flexible with my training schedule, especially when I have a chance to run in appropriate weather as opposed to bad weather.  But I need to watch my nutritional and water intake more closely.  What I ate and drank on Friday wasn’t enough for the workout and short run I did that evening, never mind the LSD on Saturday.  Or perhaps I should have eaten a bigger, healthier breakfast on Saturday morning (I just had an egg, bacon, cheese sandwich) to help with fueling, and definitely drank more water and eaten something salty to help retain water better.  Perhaps, I should have just been patient and ran later in the day, or maybe even wait until Sunday and run in the rain.

Whether I could reverse this bad run into a good one…. I don’t really know.  But one thing I do know is that I learned some valuable information about my body, my eating and drinking habits and my running.  That’s why I write this stuff down…. and when I blog it, maybe someone else will learn from it, too.  Or even better, can share in the learning curve by sharing their experiences, insight and advice.  Another thing I learned is that running is definitely lots of fun, but it’s not easy, and to keep from “bonking,” it does take a lot of strategy, thinking and planning.  Never let the graceful, fluid movements of a successful run fool you into thinking it’s an easy sport.

Have you experienced a similar run?

What did you learn from the experience?

Snow Running

In the United States a phenomenon occurs that we call “Winter.”  For those of us in the northern part of the US, Winter consists of cold temperatures, snow, ice and wind.  Here in West Virginia, Winter has been reoccurring for as long as I can remember.  And after reading the history books, it sounds like Winter has actually been around these parts for centuries.  Nevertheless, people still seem to be amazed when Winter hits, especially when it hits in its fullest fury.  Schools close, church services are cancelled, roads are impassable, wrecking crews make boocoos of money, and snowmen emerge from the drifts.  But just because it’s snowing and blowing outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the fun has to stop….  people find fun ways to enjoy Winter with ice skating, sled riding, snow skiing, snow boarding and snow tubing.  And for us runners, there is Snow Running.

if-you-wait-for-conditions

Don’t confuse that with “No Running”… it’s “Snow Running.”  Last Winter was my first time trying out Snow Running, and I fell in love with it one the first run.  There’s just something so peaceful and immaculate about being a part of a wintry landscape.  The air is brisk and clean; frigid to the nostrils and lungs…. the sound of snow crunching under each step creates a rhythmic echo that breaks the solitude of the landscape…. the sunshine reflecting off the snow is blinding to the eye but warming to the heart…. the feelings, sights and sounds of Winter is almost indescribable and nothing like any other season.

Winter is a sight to behold, physically, mentally and spiritually, but it requires some precaution and extra preparation for Snow Running.  After experiencing running in these elements myself, and researching it through other blogs, fellow runners, virtual running groups and etc., I thought I would share some of the strategies I use to have successful Snow Runs.

SAFETY FIRST!!

I run a lot on narrow country roads where there’s not much (if any) berm on which to run.  Sometimes, there’s absolutely nowhere to go if one car is coming, nevermind if there are two cars passing each other.  So I have to really consider if and when it’s safe to even run on these roads.  If you run on/next to roads, you have to consider the ability of drivers to maintain control of their vehicles when passing you.  If there’s a chance they can lose control and wreck, or you’re not able to get out of the way quickly and safely, then you may want to consider a different route that’s safer, or an alternative such as the treadmill or an indoor track.  If you run on sidewalks, remember to keep an eye out for ice, and be leery of the possibility of ice hidden under snow.  Slipping and falling onto hard concrete could put a quick end to your running.

 

DRESS THE PART

Consider the temperatures and dress accordingly.  Dressing in layers allows air to be trapped between layers that will actually help insulate you from the frigid temps.balaclava  Plus, if you get too warm, it makes it easier to take off a layer.  Personally, I think it’s just as bad (if not worse) to be overheated, than it is to be too cold.  Keep your hands, ears and toes well covered and insulated.  The greatest percentage of heat goes out the head, so wearing a hat will help keep you warm.  Although I haven’t tried it yet, I know a lot of runners who wear balclavas to keep their face warm and help with their breathing.

Speaking of hats, one thing I always do when it’s snowing is wear a baseball cap with a bill to keep the snow out of my eyes and block the wind from my face.  If it’s cold, I’ll wear a head band around my ears to keep them warm.  I hate when my ears get cold.

 

DITCH THE MUSIC

I love to run with music…. I run with it almost all the time, even races.  But there are two times that I ditch the music… at night and on bad snowy days.   I don’t listen to music at night because I want to listen for possible attackers (both men and animals) because I can’t see them as well.  When Snow Running, especially along roads, it’s important to keep an ear open to listen for traffic.  At the very least, wear only one earbud in the ear that’s away from the road keeping the ear next to the road open so you can hear better.

Although I recommend ditching the music, I recommend carrying your cell phone with you.  You never know when you may need help, and having the ability to call someone is convenient and smart.  When it’s cold, however, keep in mind that cell phones will freeze up and shut down.  I carry mine in a pocket or in a belt that’s under a layer or two of clothes and close to my body to keep it warm.  I’ve been able to carry a cell phone and keep it on over the course of a half marathon by using this tactic.

 

SECURE TRACTION

yaktraxIt’s nearing the end of January and I’m missing a very, VERY valuable part of the Snow Running gear…. traction cleats for my shoes such as YakTrax.  These cleats will help your run better by giving you more improved footing which will increase your overall pace, but it they will also keep you from slipping, sliding and falling.  I slid around a lot today during my 4-mile Snow Run and wished the whole time I had some cleats.  I had a pair last year and loved them, but they have disappeared over the summer.  I guess I’ll be hitting the local running store soon to get a set.

 

SAVOR THE MOMENT

Above all else, enjoy your Snow Run.  Unless you live in the southern hemisphere or the North Pole, you only get to experience Snow Runs in the Winter months.  Although it can feel like forever to those who are Summer-lovers, Winter really only lasts technically three months with just a few weeks of actual Snow Running weather.  Being outside when the temps are in the high-20s to low-30s, snow flakes the size of pancakes are wafting down, the tree limbs are dressed in the soft white snow, and the sky is a brilliant blue is amazing and awesome…. so savor the moment, drink it in and ENJOY your Snow Run.

I had a wonderful time today on my Snow Run in my Winter Wonderland today, and am looking forward to a nice long 10-mile run tomorrow in even more perfect, pristine wintry elements.  I hope you can get out there to experience Snow Running as often as possible.  It’s definitely unforgettable.

What is one of your most favorite Snow Running experience?

Do you have any other tips for comes to Snow Running?

3rd Annual Race Into the New Year 5k (St. Albans, WV)

NY Race 5kFor the first time ever, I ran a race on the first day of the year with the Third Annual Race Into the New Year 5k.  What an awesome way to start out 2014!  My husband, Tony and racing buddy, Wanda ran it with me.  We traveled to St. Albans, West Virginia (near our state capitol, Charleston) to run this afternoon 5K race.  Scheduling it at 2:00pm was a little different from what I’m used to, but they did that so people could stay up late on New Years Eve to celebrate, but not have to get up too early to race.  Being in mid-winter, I especially liked the afternoon time as it give the sun time to come out and warm things up a little.  Fortunately, the weather fully cooperated with a sunshiny day with temps in the 50’s to 60’s and little to no wind.  The cost for this race was $20 if you pre-registered and $25 on race day which included a nice T-shirt and post-race snacks.  This is the third and final race of the St. Albans Race Series which includes a quarter marathon in August, and 2- 5k’s (one in November and this one on New Years Day).  If you complete all three races, you earned a really cool looking medal (which is why I want to run the series in 2014).NY Race 5k3

There were a total of 189 runners participating in the race this year ranging in ages from 7 to 66.  It was a very nice turnout.  Over forty of the participants were involved with the 2013 racing series.  The race is a typical city race with a the course that started and ended at the St. Albans High School and winding around the streets of a small neighborhood.  There wasn’t much scenic beauty, but the neighborhood was well-kept and several people came out of their house to cheer the runners on.  The course was flat and fast with the exception of one small hill that even a beginner could easily handle.  The course record was broken this year by David McCollam, 34 with a time of 15:28.

The race was well run with a very unique starting event…. after making the general race announcements and before shooting the starting pistol, the race director got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend.  She said yes and all the racers and volunteers cheered for the young couple.  It was quite exciting.  The race was chip timed, so that sped up the awards program after the race.  For the post-race activities, there were the usual snacks and water available for the runners, and the race awards and series awards were handed out. Instead of medals, the age group winners for the race received cool trophies with penguins on the top and a Christmas tree ornament.

NY Race 5k 2

The series awards and medals were definitely an encouragement for everyone to run all three races for the 2014 series.  I finished the race in 30:46, but didn’t place nor did I set a PR, which was a disappointment since the course was so flat and fast.  But, just like the half marathon I would run a few days later, I had let the holidays get the best of my diet and training.  It was just a fun race anyway and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with Tony and Wanda.

I plan on doing this race again next year…. it was a great way to start out the new year and charge right into my running resolutions.  The only problem with the flat, fast course is that it’s easy to set a PR on it making the other 364 days extremely challenging to PR.  But since I didn’t do so well, I guess I don’t have that problem personally.

Silver-Medal-225x300Overall, the course wasn’t very challenging, making it was more of a fun race.  For that reason, I’m giving this race a silver medal since I consider it closer of an average 5k.

If you ran in this race, feel free to share your opinion.  What did you think of the proposal at the beginning of the race?

Run to Read Half Marathon (Fairmont, WV)

The Run to Read Half Marathon took place at 2:00pm on a beautiful, wintry Sunday afternoon on January 5, 2014.  There was no precipitation with temps in the 40’s with no wind, so I thought it was perfect weather.  However, as the sun went down, it did start cooling off a little.  The entry fee for the race was between $25 to $40, depending on how early you registered.  The proceeds from the event went to the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County, a very worthwhile and deserving organization.

R2R Half3

The organizers were hoping for 400 participants, which they came fairly close with 268 people finishing the race.  The beginning of the race was very crowded on the narrow course, so another 100+ people would have made it very packed.  But more about this issue later.  There were runners from all over West Virginia and several other states.  The ages ranged from 13 to 69, so there was a good representation in each age category.

R2R Half4The race was held at the historic site of Prickett’s Fort.   It is a “rustic log fort and is a re-creation of the original Prickett’s Fort of 1774, which served as a refuge from Native American war parties on the western frontier of Colonial Virginia.”

The course itself is one of the unique aspects of this race, especially since it is held in West Virginia.  This course is almost completely flat.  The most gain in elevation my running app showed was 200 feet during mile 10, which for anyone who has run in this state knows that is very minimal.  This made for a pleasant flat, fast course.  A former railroad track, the course has been converted into a rail-to-trail to include bridges, a tunnel and beautiful scenic views of the river and woods.  Less than 5 miles of the course was asphalt, with the remainder being crushed limestone.  The park crew had cleared the majority of the trail of snow and ice the day before the race, so on race day there were minimal icy spots, and a little mud in a few places.  The crew did an awesome job prepping the course to make it safe for the runners. 😀

The race was well run by the director and committee.  The volunteers were friendly and always helpful and supportive.  With this many participants, I’m sure it took a lot of work to organize it so well, so the race crew definitely gets a two-thumbs-up.  The post-race event was awesome.  Since it was chip timed, awards were handed out as soon as the winners crossed the finished line, so there was no need for everyone to wait until all runners had finished.  But there was lots of great food…. including hot chili, fruit and more following the race.  There’s not much better than a bowl of hot chili on a cold winter’s day.

As for how I did… well, I didn’t set a PR which kinda bummed me out since the course was so flat and fast.  But over the Thanksgiving and R2R HalfChristmas holidays, I ate too much and didn’t stick to my training as I should have.  So I paid for it during the race.  I finished 212th overall and 5th in my age group, with a time of 02:23:11 (4 minutes slower than the half marathon I ran 5 weeks earlier).  The bling wasn’t too bad… everyone received a finisher’s medal, and instead of T-shirts we got a toboggan and gloves.  The toboggan had the Run to Read logo embroidered on it and is very well made.

I really liked this race as it allowed me to kick off the new year with a major run.  The flat, fast course was a pleasant change of venue as it was nice for once to not worry about the hills…. you could just set your pace and run.  A couple of things I feel could use some attention was in regard to the beginning of the race.  The start line was overcrowded, and I was surprised no one was knocked down.  On top of that, some of the speed walkers were in the middle of the pack, holding people up (one of my biggest race pet peeves!).  I wonder if waves of runners according to past race pace could be set up so smaller groups could start at different times.  If that’s not possible, at the very least it would be nice if the chip timing mat were at the beginning.  Racers in the back of the pack have a lot of time added before they ever get across the starting line.  Granted, it’s only a few seconds to a minute, but every second counts…. right?

Gold-Medal-225x300Overall, it was a good race and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s definitely one that I will plan on doing again next year.  Additionally, this is the first race of a three-part race series, so this year I hope to run the 10k and 5k (or possibly changed to a 1 1600 meter, I’ve heard) to get in the whole series and earn the series T-shirt.  If you’re looking for a flat, fast long distance race in West Virginia with some history, beautiful scenery and competition, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed in the Run to Read Half Marathon in Fairmont, West Virginia.  For this race, I’ve given a gold medal.

For an additional review, visit Sandy Runs.  Her blog tells about her stories as a Marathon Maniac, Half Fanatic and 50 State Marathon Club member.  It was a pleasure having her visit West Virginia and she gives an excellent review of the race.

If you were at this race, feel free to add to the review.  What did you like the most about the Run to Read Half Marathon?  What did you like the least?

A correction from the RD, Jim Woolfitt: Just to set the record straight: MCPARC (Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission) gets the credit for clearing snow off the trail & the parking lots. The parking lots are not under MCPARC’s jurisdiction but the park superintendent is not complaining. MCPARC also helps with the water stops providing manpower, tables, chairs & water coolers.

2014 WV Race Review Changes

My racing scheduled has slowed down a little with winter upon us, but I’ve still been crazy busy with the holidays, work and preparing for a new semester as an adjunct professor. So I’m running a little behind on writing reviews for a couple of races I did complete at the beginning of January. (But they will be coming in the next few days!)

The main reason for my delay is that I’ve been trying to decide on a template to keep the race reviews consistent. I want to deliver information to you that may help you decide on whether or not to do the race in the future, but I want to be sure I don’t miss anything. So that has contributed to my belatedness as well. Please accept my apology and know I’ll step things up to get you more timely and accurate information.  Here’s is what future reviews will entail….

  • Race details such at distance, time, location, weather, cost, sponsor/charity, etc.
  • Pre-race and post-race events
  • Runner information such as how many, ages, etc.
  • Course details
  • How the race director, committee, volunteers did
  • Awards and how I did
  • Pros and cons
  • Miscellaneous such as history or race or area, local legend, etc.
  • Overall rating
  • Pictures of the race will always be included

Gold-Medal-225x300For the overall rating this year, I thought I would use something visual.  At first I thought I would use the Star Rating with one star being a bad race and five stars meaning it was a great, can’t-miss-this-next-year race.  But I didn’t think stars really related much to running.  So I decided to use medals.  Hey, we all love to get medals from the race…. this was my chance to give a medal back.  So I will give gold medals to top races, silver medals to middle ground races, and bronze medals to the needs-a-lot-of-work races.  Of course, please realize I’m giving you “MY” opinion of the race…. there are always others with different opinions.   But I do try to be open-minded when rating something.

Finally, and something I’m very excited about is the fact that I may have some guest bloggers helping me with race reviews.  Last year I ran in a lot of races, but of course I couldn’t hit all the races in West Virginia.  So I’m talking with some running friends of mine that hit races in other areas and of different distances to add some spice to my race reviews.

So I wanted to write-up this short post to let you know what’s coming to my running blog in the very, very near future.   If you run West Virginia races and would be interested in sharing your review here… just let me know.  I can’t pay you for the review, but I can help promote your blog, website, Facebook or Twitter page.  It’s always interesting to get a review from someone else’s perspective.

What do you think of the template I’ll use?? 

Is it too much information??

Am I missing any information someone may want to know about races here in West Virginia??

My Workout Buddy, Tony

In the past, I have added cross training to my running schedule to improve core strength, leg strength, flexibility and etc.  I’ve used programs such as Christine Felstead’s Yoga for Runners, Rodney Yee’s yoga programs, several different Jillian Michaels’ workouts, and lest I forget the trusty ol’ weight machine.  When I’ve done these workout series, it usually wouldn’t last more than two weeks, three at the absolute longest.  But this week, I committed to 90 days of the newest workout on the market…. P90X3!!

Yep… I have a date with Tony Horton, himself, six days a week at 5:30 in the morning.  Well… Saturdays will be a little later.  I’ve completed the first three days of the LEAN option of the program, and I’m feeling it.  My core, legs and even arms are all a little sore, but it’s a good type of sore.

Tony and meTo make it even better, my 18-year-old son is doing the workouts with me.  He’s a senior in high school and plays sports year round.  (The picture to the left is of him and me before the Senior Night football game in November 2013.)  At first, I doubted he would be interested, but he seems excited to be doing it.  Because of space issues, we do the workouts at different times, but we keep track on the same calendar.  I make the \ slash of the X, and he makes the / to complete the X.  It sounds silly, but it’s our way of completing the team goal… and it matches the Tony Horton’s X theme.  (Oh and by the way, my son’s name is Tony, too.)

Working out… whether it’s running, circuit training, lifting weights, spin class or whatever…. it’s always a lot more fun when you have a partner.  It helps to have someone hold you accountable.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to believe the stupid, crazy excuses I make up to keep from working out or cutting a session short.  But with P90X3, I’ve given my son strict instructions to keep pushing me no matter what I tell him.  Trust me…. he’ll do it…. he likes to watch me suffer.  😀

Tony (my son) and I are also part of a Facebook P90X3 challenge group.  There are 15 of us in the group together encouraging each other, motivating each other, and crying on each other’s virtual shoulder.  We leave tips, hints and recommendations, and of course lots of praise and high-5’s for accomplishments.  So far, it’s working great and a definite added support system to help me live through the next three months.

tony3

I’ll keep you appraised as to how I progress through the program, what transformations occur and whether or not I’m successful meeting the goals I’ve set for myself.  You are welcome to hold me accountable as well.  I can use all the help I can get.  I have my first 25K scheduled at the end of March which is right at the end of this program, so being successful with P90X3 might make or break that race for me.

The beginning of a new year always entices people to make improved physical fitness a New Year Resolution.  Unfortunately, it’s just a short-lived fad for the majority of people.  Having a support group or a workout buddy helps improve the odds of being successful with the resolution.

Did you set a physical fitness resolution this year? 

Are you a part of a support group or have a workout buddy to help you out? 

What type of support group do you have to help you be successful?  Is it a physical group or virtual group, or a combination?

If you have come up with a unique idea, I would love to hear about it and I’m sure other readers would, too.  You might just have the answer to help someone else be successful in completing their 2014 physical fitness resolution.  😀

Enjoy the run!! 😀

I Ran to Palm Bay, Florida

As the 2013 is coming to its final hours and minutes, I’m sitting here trying to keep myself occupied (and awake) long enough to watch the ball drop at midnight. I have an hour and 40 minutes to go, and the Texas A&M and Duke football game isn’t doing that much for me. Although I have to say… Johnny Football is as impressive as ever.

Anyway, I’m tired of football as that is about the only thing on our TV during Bowl Season.  So I thought I’d write my last post of the year.  I didn’t know what to write about, so I did some social media surfing and checking on the weather for the next few days.  I have a Running into the New Year 5K tomorrow in Charleston, WV with clear sky’s and temps in the low-50’s.  YEA!!  But then I have a half marathon on Sunday afternoon with a forecast of rain/snow combination and temps in the high-30’s to low-40’s…. I fear that’s going to be a long 13 miles. 😦

As I was thinking about my running accomplishments for 2013, it really struck me that I ran 867 miles this year.

867 MILES!!

For a novice runner in her first full year of running, that’s not too bad.  Then I thought to myself… it would be really cool to see WHERE I could have run to… something like a Forrest Gump moment…. just taking off and running until I was done.  But instead of 3+ years, it would be 867 miles for me.  I played around on Mapquest.com for a while finding where I could go.

Going north, I would be somewhere between Montreal and Quebec, Cannada.  Now, I have never been to Canada and would probably enjoy the visit, but NORTH?  No thanks… I’ve had enough of cold, snowy weather here.

palmbaySo I thought I’d head out west and ended up near Joplin, Missouri.  I guess that would be ok, but that’s not much excitement or relaxation.

But then, I started looking south…. aahhhhh, Florida!!  Sunshine, palm trees, ocean breeze, warm temperatures…. that’s where I wanted to go.  What an awesome run that would be.  And when I got there, I could run on the beach early in the morning to watch the sunrise and maybe catch a glimpse of dolphins jumping out of the water near the shore.  So, I ended up near a little town on the eastern side of the state along the ocean called Palm Bay.  From the pictures I saw of the area, it definitely looked like the perfect destination.  Well worth running 867 miles, for sure.

Here’s a map of what my annual mileage looks like.  It sure makes it look a lot more extraordinary than just looking at numbers.  It was fun to find where I would finally end up, just to abruptly stop and tell my zombified followers… “It’s time for me to go home now.”

palmbaymapWhere did your 2013 miles take you?  I encourage you to map it out.  I used actual road routes, so I would have went even further had I used the way-the-crow-flys method of measurement.  You may be even more amazed (and proud) at your accomplishment.  If you do map it out, let me know how far you went and where you ended up.  I’ll help share your post with my virtual running friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Enjoy the run!! 😀 kc

I’m Streaking in 2014… A Lot!!

Ok… so what’s so wrong with streaking anyway.  Admit it, we’ve all done at sometime during our lives.  Granted for most of us it was when we were toddlers as our mom was towelling us off after a bath and we happened to slip away to run through the house with her chasing after us.  But then there is the occasional exposed streaker on the NFL or MLB field that is tackled and led away by security.  I can’t help but think of the Allstate Mayhem streaker commercial.  Classic!!  😀

mayhem streaker

But the streaking I’m talking about isn’t like Mayhem.  I’m not quite that brazen.  What I’m talking about is doing something every day, non-stop for an extended period of time.  I’ve already posted my running goals for 2014, which includes a running streak, but I thought it would be fun to quickly mention some of my other non-running streaking plans for the year as well.  So here’s my I’m-going-to-do-it-everyday-in-2014-or-else streaking list….

  • Run…. minimum of 1 mile per day (it was worth mentioning again)
  • Make my bed
  • Read my Bible
  • NOT sneak a cigarette
  • Eat healthy…. 1 cheat meal per month allowed
  • Drink water… at least 24 ounces
  • Say “Thank You” to someone at work
  • Tell at least one family member that I love them
  • Pet my dog
  • No matter how hard it is, smile at myself in the mirror and say “You got this!!”

So there you go…. that’s how I streak.  How about you?? (No Mayhem wannabe’s, please!)