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Monday, October 3, 2011

Race Travel: On a Budget.

First off, what was I thinking driving to San Jose instead of flying? 10 hours in the car vs. a couple of hours on a plane?

Let me tell you, money. It takes a lot of money to travel to races. Yes, sometimes this cost is offset with prize money or travel money provided by the race, etc. but often, it is just straight out of your pocket-so, if you are like me, you try to "budget travel" as much as possible.
Local race + prize money = ideal

This got me to thinking about all the tricks I have learned in my racing-away "career" both pertaining to budget, travel efficiency, and health.

Here is a sampling/list for you and if you have a tip or two-SHARE it!

1) Hit the grocery store BEFORE you hit the road or the air.
- Stock up on snack items so that you don't end up at the point where you are so hungry that anything will do at any price!
- The savings are worth the hassle it can sometimes be to pack your snacks around, plus you won't have to pack them back if you eat them.

2) Priceline it. 
- If the race has no travel budget or I just ask too late, I have had great success with Priceline. Most of the time I spend no more than $55-65 for a 3 or 4-star hotel using their "Name Your Own Price" tool.

*if I it works out to stay with a friend or family, great! Personally, I need the chill time and comfort of a hotel to feel totally prepared and relaxed.

3) If driving, plan out your stops.
- Have you ever stopped for gas, then driven somewhere to grab a sandwich, then hit the road and realize you need to pee!? I have.
- Plan to fill up the gas tank, empty YOUR tank, and grab some food all in one stop if you can. Nowadays, you can usually find a gas station with a Subway attached or near, or if you are lucky a nice deli or coffee shop next door.
- And don't forget to stretch! Your legs, your back, your hips. Work it out! Driving it tough on the body.
My stop at Donner Lake this weekend on the way to San Jose

4) If driving, think position.
- Driving is tough on your body. Especially the hips, lower back, and neck.
- Counteract these negative affects by driving in a neutral position. No leg up on the dashboard, or tucked up underneath you. Roll up a pillow or blanket to tuck behind your lower back and one more to sit on. Or use tennis balls in various positions on your back.
- Utilize your cruise control and keep knees and legs in an even position.
- Most of all: STOP and stretch at regular intervals. I like every two hours-a quick jog around the car or rest area and a few stretches usually do the trick.

5) Hydrate properly.
- I don't know why but this is tough for me when traveling. Either I don't remember in the hassle of traveling or I don't want to have to stop and pee. Don't be an idiot-you are not doing yourself any favors by forgoing proper hydration for a minute or two here and there.
My favorite Nuun flavors


6) Plan your mealtime. 
- If you plan ahead, you can save money. Sites like travelocity.com and urbanspoon.com are great sources to find good local food and will also let you know how much you should plan on spending.
- Look for hotels with continental breakfasts, some of them can be pretty good.

7) Travel with a buddy.
- $60 divided by 2 = $30, need I say more?
- Aside from saving money, it can be fun to travel with a a friend who is also doing the race. Just make sure it isn't someone who will drive you nuts.



8) Take your PT along.
- Okay, don't literally bring them along unless they are willing of course. :)
- Pack your foam roller, your Stick, tennis balls, thera-band, and so on to ward off the stiffness that often accompanies traveling.


9) Wear compression socks.
- It works. Wear compression socks on long car trips and most importantly on flights and your legs will feel ten times better than without them.
- If you don't believe compression works, put it to the test.
I wear compression to race and travel + for the flare. :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Race Week: prep time.

I realized this week how much work goes into staying healthy sometimes. Last week, I started having issues with my SI joint. Friday afternoon, in a slight panic, I called up a chiropractic friend of mine (Dr. Noah Edvalson @ http://www.boisespinecenter.com/) and asked him to see me. He agreed and although I was racing on Saturday, the numbness I was experiencing in my leg was enough for me to break my "no manipulation pre-race day" rule. The mild adjustments did the trick and the shift was enough to relieve some the numbness temporarily.

It was back in full force by Sunday evening as well as knee pain and hamstring spasms so I scheduled an appointment with my miracle worker (Mike Devitt @ http://www.focus-pt.com/) and went in to see him on Tuesday morning. Sure enough, my SI joint was all screwed up and my pelvis was shifted almost 3/4"- as Mike put it, "what makes you a good athlete is how unrestricted the movement in your body is, but that is also your worst enemy". He was able to shift things back into place and I left feeling totally fresh and mobile. Next, I went in to see my massage therapist, Laura, who works wonders with estem on my lower T-spine and worked out the rest of my unhappy muscles.

That evening, when I was doing my neuro-muscular session, I felt like I was gliding and it occurred to me how amazing the body is at compensating. Sometimes you just KNOW something is off, even when you cannot pinpoint what it is because your body is a compensating machine!

It has been a light week but not an off week. Pat (my coach) put it well when he was "reminding" me to lift light this week, "This week is about getting all your normal motions and routines in but going light with the weight and reps to keep your body fresh." My main focus this week has been hydrating, eating well and enough, ice bathing, stretching, and chilling out.

Knowing that I have done everything in my control to set myself up for a good race allows me to let go of all the things I CANNOT control. This gives me an opportunity to use my energy positively instead of the opposite. I can't wait to get on that line on Sunday and for me, the process of getting there makes it worth it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The weekend, a condensed version.

A few Idaho gals
On Saturday morning I woke up ready to roll. After choking down a peanut butter and honey sandwich at 6 am, I went through my pre-race routine. This included, cuddling with my dog for 15 minutes, taking a "poor man's" ice bath for 20 minutes, rolling on tennis balls for 10 minutes and then taking a time-to-wake-up shower. I left the house with a cup of coffee in hand, ready.

True to past experience, the warm up was anything but comfortable as I chatted with myself out loud to let some of my nerves out and talk myself to calm. Sometimes reminding yourself out loud why you run and that, yes, you enjoy it (most of the time) helps to keep things in perspective. Or just makes you look a little crazy and that is fine too.

The Women's Fitness Celebration is the single largest race in Boise. Capitol Boulevard that morning was alive with estrogen and let-it-all-out dance moves. I smiled as I did my drills and strides, the energy was incredible. When the gun went off, my nerves went with it. That is the feeling I live for-the complete control and confidence that comes when you race off the line, perfectly prepared and engaged in YOUR race.

The past week of training had been intense, more mileage and intensity than I had ever done so I knew that I was relying on fitness and strength to get me through the race-not freshness. But I had both and it translated to a race that I was happy with. Not only with the result but most of all with the process of achieving the result. As with every race I have ever run, I over-evaluate the process and find things I could have and should have done differently but isn't that why we keep coming back for more? I believe that the day I stop doing that is the day I stop competing.

my ice bath creek-about 40 degrees
After finishing the race, cooling down and getting in a session of DST (dynamic strength training) I took off to the mountains for my ice bath. Okay, I did not go solely for that purpose but it was a good excuse to get away. Sunday morning's long run at 6700 feet was a perfect recovery and start to the morning-the view wasn't bad either. Another reminder why I love and will always be a runner.


Sawtooth moutains, long run view

Monday, September 5, 2011

More than a runner.

This summer has been a busy one, aren't they all? It seems as if the older I get the more quickly summer passes by which, leads me to wonder if that will always be the case. Will summer feel just days long when I am 70?

But this post is not about aging, it is about defining: Who are you aside from being a runner?

This summer I posed this question to two groups of athletes. Once at a high school co-ed cross-country camp and once more at my husband's women's team training camp. I have talked about balance in previous posts but I feel strongly about this question. Who are YOU aside from being a runner? What, aside from being an athlete, defines you? The answers and reactions surprised, saddened, and delighted me. There were clear answers, insightful comments and exploration, and even tears from some.

Too many times have I seen devastation over an injury or illness that side lines a runner.  I have also experienced this and been forced to reconcile with with the self-doubt and fear that comes from having my DEFINITION stripped out from underneath me. Then I realized, I am so much more than a runner.

Key set backs in my running:
Anorexia - lost 10 YEARS
Swine flu - lost 2-3 weeks
Fibular stress fracture - lost 10 weeks
Calf strain - lost 3-5 weeks
Hernia surgery #1 - lost 4 weeks
Hernia surgery #2 - lost 10 days

Who am I aside from being a runner?
Writer
Musician
Outdoorswoman
Dog lover
Sales rep
Companion & friend
Sister & daughter

This thought forces us, as runners, to walk a fine line. The line of complete dedication and balance. I am not suggesting that we don't put all we have and can into our athletic pursuits-lord knows I would be a hypocrite-I am merely suggesting keeping our minds in a balanced place. Running isn't EVERYTHING but it's SOMETHING right now. And that's okay-admirable even. But, I, for one, am more than a runner.

I  hope you are too.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Balance and PB & J: Part 2

So, to get back to my rediscovery of the greatness of PB & J...


Last Saturday I took off for a much needed head-clearing adventure with Drake, my 90+lb. Weimeraner. My destination...Crimson Lake in the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness. After stopping for some water and a pee-break (both of us needed it) in Stanley, Idaho I drove 13 miles Northeast on Hwy. 75 and turned off at Sunbeam. A few miles down the road, the pavement turns to packed dirt and gravel and about 8 miles further I reached the ghost town of Bonanza. Another mile on a narrow, bumpy, washed out road brought me to the West Fork trailhead where we were to start the journey. 


I had initially planned to backpack up to Crimson Lake (8.5 miles - one way) and stay the night but at the last second changed my mind and decided to make it a long, long day hike. I set off with Drake leading the way with the type of excitement and anticipation that can only be portrayed by a four-legged buddy. We winded through an old burn area where the previously untouched-by-the-sun soil was vibrant with new life. Painted, lush meadows were abundant and the West Fork of the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River flowed alongside the trail within easy reach. Across scree fields, through open meadows and chilly creek crossings the hours passed quickly and pleasantly. With 3 miles to go the going got extremely steep and kept getting steeper. My breathing turned heavy and Drake's pace slowed significantly as he stopped in shady spots to wait for me and rest himself. Time after time, I thought, "It HAS to be just over this ridge" but I knew it was not the case - sometimes I wonder at how easily I can trick my mind. When we finally arrived at the lake we were both exhausted and found a shady area where we could relax and recover.

The view was spectacular and at-once I regretted my decision to not stay the night. In fact, I considered just roughing it (no sleeping bag, no tent) but realized at almost 11,000 feet it would certainly get chilly and Drake does not have a lot of meat on him. In preparation for this trip, I had crafted four peanut butter and jam sandwiches which I consumed most of without a second thought. It has been literally years since I ate pb & j and I had not realized what I was missing. After about an hour I realized it was time to get rolling unless I wanted to finish in the dark - ummm....in bear country? No, thank you. 


Now, if you don't know me I will tell you this - I am a climber. I prefer to climb. Did I mention, I love climbing?? Equally as passionately, I hate descending. In the midst of an excruciating climb I always manage to convince myself that  I can't wait to go downhill for once and then, I am reminded. But, down we went and my feet hollered at me, “hey! Get us out of these boots!” And I hollered back, “I am moving as fast as you’ll let me!” Yes, I may have been slightly delirious from a combination of heat, slight dehydration, lack of calories, and 17 miles of hiking. Eight hours (7:45 to be exact) from when I began the hike, I finished it. Shaky legged and weary but satisfied, I made quick work of getting Drake fed and watered up after which he collapsed in the back seat with an extremely dramatic series of groans.

After chugging almost a full gallon of water, I drove about 7 miles down the road to set up camp at a site I had spotted on the way up – next to a creek, under a huge mass of fir trees. It was 8:45 pm and I was shutting down rapidly. I barely had the tent up before Drake was in it – passed out. I envied him.  The thought of skipping dinner momentarily crossed my mind as my sleeping bag unfurled but some semblance of sanity remained and I trudge up the hillside to gather firewood. As soon as hot coals began to form I opened a can of veggie chilly into them and waited for it to warm. Becoming impatient, I scarfed it down luke warm and spread the coals until a faint amber glow remained. A quick teeth brushing and wash in the creek and I was asleep next to Drake. We slept until 10:30 the next morning.

The next morning I took my time making breakfast and drinking my cowboy coffee. As I sat staring at the bubbling creek I felt refreshed – too soon to be sore – and balanced. Alone with my thoughts, my goals became more clear and I felt rejuvenated for the months ahead. In particular, my thoughts turned to my goals for running; first, regaining some specific fitness, next renewing my passion for racing, finally reaching my ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. The over-arching goal felt achievable and I anticipated the work with excitement. On the drive home I finished the remaining pb & j sandwich and thought, “what a perfect balance.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Balance and PB & J: Part 1

For me it's important to be in balance. To not let fear get in the way of things, to not worry so much about protecting yourself all the time. 
John Frusciante 


This weekend was all about balance for me, being out of balance and being in it. It was also about my rediscovering an old classic, PB & J. 


Thursday was the true beginning on this balancing act - the part of throwing myself off kilter. A rocking concert, too much to drink, too little to eat, and too late of a night. I woke up Friday morning kicking myself in the teeth for letting good times get the best of me. Instead of waking up early to get my workout in - I woke up early, only to go back to bed and then worked all day on getting myself to a point where I could run and not hurl. My plans to leave for my backpacking trip Friday were shot and I spent the entire day trying to regain physical balance. 


As a twisted sort of punishment, I did my workout at 3 pm in 90 degrees. Have I mentioned that I am often extremely logical in making decisions? After a short warm up I reluctantly delved right into my 2k on the track. The workout called for me to run a nice tempo effort at 6 minute pace - which I did (7:26 to be exact) - but it was not nearly as comfortable as it should have been. After completion, a sudden drop in my gut had me rushing to the bathroom. Hurdle mobility drills and DST rounded out the session and my misery was replaced with feelings of satisfaction. 


Saturday morning I got an early start (6am) and headed toward Stanley, Idaho for a hiking/camping jaunt with Drake. The sun lit up the mountain sides and the river was swift and swirling as I drove toward escape. Balance was on my mind as I drove. Thoughts of my training were on my mind, wondering if I should be staying home, getting a run in instead of going hiking. As an athlete, we make so many sacrifices for our sport and I began wondering if this was a time for one of those sacrifices. But, balance is also a part of sport and in order for my mind, body, and spiritual self to be balanced I needed time alone, in the mountains, no distractions. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back on track


Literally, I was back on the track the other night and it felt so right...okay, sounds a little like an 80's pop song but to my point, I am back!

10 x 200 never felt so freeing. With the wind whipping a cool mist from nearby sprinklers across the back side of the track, I was smiling as I ran. Of course, I may have just been entertained by the three little Hispanic kids trying to race me without me knowing. When I asked them if they were racing me one of the boys (about 9 years old) said, "I'm outta shape! How do you keep running all those? I can't catch you and you're just jogging!" If :34's look like jogging, I MUST be doing something right (hee hee hee).

After the short workout (:45 standing rest between) I was feeling slightly better about my fitness - right workout for the right time. I followed up the session with hurdle mobility drills and some plyometrics and then a short cool down in the neighboring field with my puppy dog, Drake. While I ran I waited for my leg to start acting up but aside from a general soreness, nothing out of the ordinary. *sigh of relief*

My massage yesterday was encouraging as well. Although my left leg was still tighter and knotted up than my right it was less so than it has been. Hey, I'll take what I can get as far as good news.

Is it just me or does everyone tend to slack off on doing the things that got them back to healthy once they are back on track? Maybe this once, I won't. Well...I can dream.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Taking on yourself.

My last blog was about the impending end of a season. Well, the end of a season came sooner than I had planned or wanted. But as I have written before, when the body says no, we are should listen and heed otherwise it will MAKE us. Just when you think you have control, you are reminded that you have very little.

My body has been nagging me in the form of lower leg issues and pain in the left leg for about a month now. Nag, nag, nag. I tried all sorts of things: icing, heating, stretching, not stretching, massage, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy. Alas, I have run through it one too many times and when I went out Tuesday to do my track workout I heard a firm NO from myself when I could hardly run a stride on the grass without intense, sharp pain.

Still, the "I never don't finish a workout, let alone stop!" reared it's ugly, large and nasty head at me and I was reduced to bitter tears when I answered back, "F-you! I can't do it." And so, I ran/limped back to my hotel room and pouted for awhile. All the similar ghosts came and I swatted at them and even let some of them envelope me. The, "you are a wuss", "look at you, quitter", "how bad did it really hurt?", "I could probably try to race", "you only ran 30 minutes, you QUIT your workout, what the hell?!" Yes, it all came and I let it - fighting meekly. And then, let it go because the alternative does no good.

Why is it we take stock of everything that is wrong before we can appreciate accomplishments, great moments, the goals realized and the dreams brought into reality. Personal records are forgotten, wins and near wins are trumped by 'that one race'.

I know that I will be back at it soon enough. Hamstrings heal, attitudes improve and the cycle begins again. But in the meantime...time to enjoy the rest. Even if it is forced.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And then it's gone...


I always remind myself at the beginning of the summer that it will pass quickly and furiously. And it does. Just when I think there is loads of time for all the lovely, daring, and fascinating things that I want to do, POOF, it's gone. Thus, to try and capture and enjoy every note of the summer I am compiling a list of what these glorious months mean to me.

Summer to me is many things, but here are just a few:
- Crack of dawn summer runs to beat the heat.
- Saturday morning yoga in the park.
- Crisp, cool, and refreshing G & T's nearly every day.

- Dusty parking lots full of pre-funkers at outdoor concerts and festivals (Braun Brothers Reunion is my all time high of the summer).
- Long, warm nights around the fire pit playing music and talking with friends.
- Drake's constant panting to cool himself off and the way he collapses with drama on the wood floor when it's just too hot.

- Annual fourth of July hiking trip to Boulder Lake, especially when Jesse is there - because he hikes like I do...FAST.
- Any moment with the Saunders clan.
- Watching my garden go from tiny little plants to luscious full-grown
food-producing machines - nothing like biting into a tomato warmed by a 90+ degree day or using freshly harvested basil to cook with.
- Camping at Wildhorse.


I think I could go on but I am going to stop there. I want YOU to compile a list of what summer means and remember, summer can feel like it will last forever and then . . . it's gone.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The end is where we start from.

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make the end is to make the beginning. The end is where we start from." - T.S. Eliot.
With this quote in mind, I approach the end of a racing season. This is an interesting and even exciting thing for me. Interesting because it is change and thus a tad bit frightening, and exciting because I am tired. Don't get me wrong, I love racing. If I had it my way my body would be invincible, my mind would never tire, and I would never take a break. But as my grandma says, 'you can wish in one hand and sh** in the other and see which one fills up faster' and so...I take breaks when they are called for.

Next Friday, I will step onto the track for my final race of the season and then off the track and into break time. Break time for me is usually about three weeks, one week of not running at all, one week of running when I want to, and one week of light, structured running. In the meantime, I double up on yoga, hike to my hearts content, and maybe this time around I will try a little rock climbing with my friends Jayne and Geoff.

What does an end mean for/to you? Is it a beginning or just that, an end?

For me, it's all one big journey of starting, stopping, turning around, re-routing, and so on.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Above the belt.

We runners tend to think below the belt. And it makes sense, I mean, common issues of concern to runners are piriformis, hips, hamstrings, calves, ankles, and feet. When something goes wrong below the belt, rehab, and worse, time off looms ahead more often than not. Thus, as runners we also pay more attention to these problem areas. We strength train to prevent imbalances. We stretch and do yoga to keep things loose and nimble. We ice bath to reduce inflammation. We roll on the foam roller to work out the kinks.

But what about above the belt? Last Saturday I was at my brother-in-laws 40th birthday celebration/hooraw out in Hammett, Idaho. There was zip-lining, shooting, dancing, and mini-motorcycle racing. While shooting at clay pigeons (notice I say AT), my shoulder dislocated. Now, this has happened before but I can normally put it back into place. Not this time. And so, for the rest of the night and into Monday I had a lame wing. On Monday afternoon, my physical therapist got things back in line and relieved the pain. Turns out, my shoulder joint is pretty damn loose - thus the continual dislocation issue.

Which brings me to my point, we spend so much time treating below the belt that we often neglect above the belt. Aside from core work, what do we do to care for our whole body? Namely, our arms, shoulders, neck, upper back, etc. Sure, we may lift weights and do yoga but do we care for the upper half with the same tenacity as the lower half? Not often. The concept of following a concentric action with an eccentric one comes to mind. As well as working all muscle groups evenly to stay balanced above the belt. For example, I do loads of push ups and consequently have tight pectoral muscles but I don't stretch that area. This tightness has been one of the causes of my shoulder being easily pulled out of alignment.

For the next couple weeks, I am going to take things down to the basics. Strip my strength routines down to the core and put my concentration into correct alignment and balancing the muscle groups. Another thing we runners are is lazy. Yes, I said lazy. We put so much emphasis on the running aspect of training and sometimes half-ass the rest. I am as guilty as anyone.

So, take OFF the belt and treat your body as a whole unit. You might be amazed at what it gives you in return.

Monday, May 9, 2011

For the love of MUSIC!

The role of music in running is one of those topics that runners are passionate about. It is a common assumption that “real” runners don’t run with music. It is a natural thing, a rhythm thing, a ‘one with nature’ thing. Whatever it is, I want to know if YOU run with music and why? No judgment here; I am simply interested in your thoughts on the matter. 

Personally, it is a rare occasion to see me running with music – unless for some odd reason I am on the treadmill - I have to be pretty unmotivated and lethargic to put in the ‘phones. But this being said, I need music when I am lifting, practicing yoga, or confined to an elliptical. I LOVE music; it is an important and vital part of my life. Without music I would be one cold bee-otch. It engages my ‘feelers’.  

Perhaps, one of the reasons that I do not run with music is because I hear music everywhere – especially when running outside. My feet and my breathe keep the rhythm while the sounds around me make up the melody. The sound of dogs barking, cars roving, the river roaring, cows grunting, and even the silence make up the meat of my running songs. Then there are the days that I actually sing in my head or have that one, lame, annoying, yet motivating song stuck in my head – unfortunately, it is normally one or two lines of the song on repeat. Running is also my only real down-time where I am actually forced to get inside my own head and see what’s there; sometimes confusion but often unexpected clarity.

On the flip side of the no-music-runners, there are runners I know that won’t leave the house without their music device of choice. It is their motivation, their trusted running partner, even their timing device (run for 8 songs). They choose their races based on whether they are ‘music friendly’ or not – this shows the genius of the Rock n’ Roll race series blending race + music = insane popularity. 

Okay, your turn. Confess. Are you plugged or unplugged and why? If so, top 5. Rock on!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When the obvious eludes you.

My last post was about an ever present issue that most runners can identify with - pooping. As you may recall, I was stressed about what was going to happen in the Eugene half, worried if I would get through it without a pit stop or two or three. I am happy to report, I did indeed get through it with NO stops. Happy on that front.

However, it is not as simple as it sounds and now it is time for a confession. . . I am not as smart as I think I am. Yes, that is right - shocking I know (perhaps a bit of sarcasm here). Let me explain. This realization came from a number of sources. First, last week I went to coffee with my good friend and registered dietitian, Chris Chandler - also a stellar designer, follow him at https://twitter.com/nappinggoat - I confided in him that I was truly stressed about this stomach issue and asked for advice. He suggested keeping the fiber down for several days before the marathon and of course, not eating anything different from the usual. In passing, he made a comment about the stomach and how it will begin to shrink when deprived of food for a period of time then kicks back into gear when fed. Thus, erratic eating could easily cause stomach issues. Later that day my amazing massage therapist, Laura, made mention of the same thing. It all got me thinking about my eating habits.

This is where my confession comes into play. While I would say my eating habits are quite good - all the right things go into my body and very few 'bad' - I am erratic in the timing of my eating. For example, it is not uncommon for me to eat breakfast after a run and then not eat for up to 7 or 8 hours. I am in no way attempting to starve or lose weight or anything of the sort, I just don't feel hungry or am just too busy (lame excuse) to take the time to eat. Once I began examining how often this is the case I realized it is the rule rather than the exception. And so, for the three days before my Sunday race I began an experiment, I ate something every two hours. Lo and behold....it worked! From day one, everything was solid and more regular. When I got through three runs without stopping more than for me initial "clean out" I knew I was on to something. Something so obvious that it made me feel stupid.

It has not escaped me that often the rules we apply to others we tend to ignore. Somehow we think we already do it right, when in reality we could all use regular reality checks. So, real quick like, how is your training going? How are your fueling habits? Are you hydrating adequately? Are you getting adequate rest? Are you running recovery pace on the right days? Are you crushing your workouts just because you can?

In short, are you actually listening to your body? Are you applying all your 'rules' to you? If not, why not?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poop.

Poop. We all do it. As runners we do it anywhere, anytime, nature calls and sometimes there is no stopping it.  If there happens to be a bathroom near by, great! If not...behind a random building? No prob. Between two dumpsters? If need be, covers the smell. Friends corn field? Would have used their bathroom if they had been home. In a shrub running through a subdivision? Let's just say...it's been done. I will go so far as to admit tearing out the lining of my shorts...I do have limits where I will go. I do have some sort of decency - if people are around I would rather get a new pair of shorts than drop trou' in public.

This has been on my mind lately. Anyone who has run with me for longer than 8 minutes or so is familiar with my issues. Believe me I have experimented with waiting to run, eating before the run, not eating before the run, coffee, no coffee, emptying the bowels before, taking Gu, not taking Gu, running in the middle of the day, the evening, whenever. Anything to shake up the routine.

sidenote: OH NO!!! I AM AT THE AIRPORT RIGHT NOW AND THE PLANE JUST GOT HERE....IT IS THE UofO DUCKS PLANE!!! BAD LUCK....UGHH

Anyway, back to pooping. While I have never crapped myself in a race, I have seen it done and in an odd way admire the guts of the pooper. To be honest, I would rather quit than have poop running down my legs. Not to say I have not had to go during a race but my body just sort of somehow sucks it back up - why can't that happen during workouts or training runs? This past November I ran my first competitive half-marathon and was having one hell of a race when at mile 9 it hit me, first stop. At mile 11, next stop. And while I am one of the fastest crappers I know, you can only be so fast.

So, as the Eugene half-marathon approaches I anticipate it with excitement as well as a touch of horror. Hello Pepto Bismal - will you please be my friend on May 1st? My loyal running partner? Please appease my stomach and let me fly past all those damn Honey Buckets. Amen.

Have you got a poop story you are willing to share? Believe me, I probably have you trumped but it may make me feel a little better hearing yours. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brownie.

No, this is not about those kinds of brownies. It is about Brownie, a pit bull I met this morning on my run. I will warn you ahead of time, this is not a happy story and if you are faint of heart don't continue reading. I wouldn't if I were you but I have to get it out.

This morning's run started like any other. Drake (my dog) and I headed out about 8 am for an easy 45 minutes. It was raining but was so fresh out that I really didn't mind it. I won't say the same for Drake. He tends to think he is drowning and the more it rains, the lower he gets to the ground as if he can somehow avoid getting wet that way.

We started our run as usual, on the College of Idaho campus (across the street) and ran a couple of loops before we ran into Pat on his run. He joined us for a few minutes, mainly to hold Drake while I used the restroom...morning movement, ya'know. For some reason I woke up wanting to go to Brothers Park - I can let Drake off the leash there and he gets more energy out - so we headed that way, via Indiana Avenue.

What happened next was in slow motion, I swear. It is blurry and a bit faded, by choice I guess. A few minutes before arriving at the park I saw a pit bull up ahead, loose. His owner was nearby and I thought to yell ahead and warn her that we were coming up - in case her dog was aggressive - but rather than make a hassle out of it, Drake and I crossed the road. But, as it was the dog saw us and in a moment lifted her head and bolted across traffic toward us. A passing minivan pummeled her. There was no avoiding it.

It was horrid. In a swift motion the owner drug her out of the middle of the road and onto the grass. She was not in good shape. Drake and I ran across the road and I tied him to a tree while I knelt beside the dog to see if I could help. Her name was Brownie. "I usually have her on a leash when there is lots of traffic, just not today. She must have seen your dog." Brownie was breathing rapidly and just lying there in shock. She was pretty messed up. Her head was pretty banged up, all the hair scraped off in one area. Her legs were twisted at odd angles and blood oozed out of her mouth. I took off my vest and wiped the blood from her mouth as best I could, then covered her with it - and held her head in my hands.

The driver was a teenage girl. She was so upset. I felt terrible for her. She left when she saw there was nothing to do. Brownie used what strength she had left to push herself onto her side. After about 15 minutes the owner's brother showed up and they lifted her into the back of the truck and drove away. I realized Drake and I were shaking uncontrollably from the wet and cold so we started running. My chest hurt, my throat ached. As we ran, it hit me that a variety of choices made by completely unrelated people collided in just one single moment. If one of us had made just one single different choice, this would have never happened. But we didn't and it did. We got home and I finally let it out. I wrapped my arms around Drake and cried on the porch for a long time.

Rest in peace, Brownie. I am sorry for my choice in the matter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adjusting your expectations.



This past weekend, I was 150 meters into my 1500 and I thought, "Well, this is not what I expected...so, now what?" The race had gone out blazing fast and I knew immediately that what I 'expected' from the race as far as time, place, and effort was shot - time for an adjustment.

As the race played out, I found myself giving my body an internal high-five for sticking out what turned out to be a very anaerobic effort from the get-go. Hold here. Surge there. Stay with her. Pass her. Mechanics, mechanics, mechanics. Push off the ground. Momentum forward.

When the final 400 rolled around, in what I found to be the longest 1500 EVER, I was not in the position I had expected but that did not mean I had lowered my standards, it just meant I had NEW standards.

I think about this term, adjusting your expectations and realize that as athletes we are often harder on ourselves than we would ever expect or want a loved one, let alone an acquaintance to be. Yet, it is okay for us because we hold ourselves to a different standard.

Not only does this apply to our running but to our daily lives, our relationships, our work, our everything. Now, I am the first to admit that I fall into this category as well. I will tell a friend in an instant to relax and stop beating herself up if she did not get something done, if she ate terribly one day, if she just didn't get to the laundry today. But, you can bet I am not going to give myself the same pep talk and in fact more likely I will chastise myself internally and angrily beat myself down for something I did not get to that day or finish when I wanted to finish, a race that I did not win or run super fast, or a workout that was well...off.

Don't get me wrong, I HATE excuses and I am not petitioning for them. I also understand that this type of mental attitude is partially what makes us athletes just that, athletes. But, at some point you have to be able to step back and adjust your expectations as your priorities and circumstances change.

Because if you beat yourself into a pulp (metaphorically speaking) every time something does not turn out how you expect, it begins to be much more difficult to put yourself back together again. What adjustments can you make today?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On the edge.

As runners, it feels as though we are always teetering on the edge of healthy and .... not. It is truly a balancing act that involves getting not only the running in but the stretching, the strength training, and above all the proper recovery. For me, it has always been easy to get the training part in but the recovery has always been a struggle. Perhaps, I never understood or saw the value in it - after all, aren't we more resilient than we give ourselves credit for? I have always thought so.
But the older I get - go ahead, roll your eyes but it is true - the more important recovery becomes. Every once in a while I have a momentary lapse, like not leaving enough room to recover. Yesterday, I went for a steady 45 minute run, followed up by a core session and then, after a sip of water and a half a cup of yogurt I hurried to a 90-minute hot yoga class - and forgot to bring water. Needless to say, it was not a great class for me. In fact, I almost blacked out a couple of times.

There never seems to be enough time to get it all done and so we tend to pack, pack, pack the days with as much 'work' as possible. I am constantly having conversations and sometimes even arguments with myself about this concept. Doing less sounds like laziness to me but doing too much is self-defeating - again, teetering on the edge, finding your own kind of balance. And so, as I head out for my track workout this morning I do a self-check/evaluation ... protein packed dinner, 9 hours of sleep, morning snack, rest, workout plan, okay - ready to go. When I finish my workout it will begin all over again ... stretch, food, fluids, foam roller, icing, rest, food, fluids, 2nd run, lift, food, fluids, rest, do it again ... my own sort of balance.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring shower...no! sun...no! hail storm...no! sun...no! snow...wtf?!

As I hunkered down inside the maintenance shed at Caldwell high this afternoon - waiting out the sudden snow pellet storm - I couldn't help but laugh. Twenty minutes earlier I had been in the middle of my warm up, excited about the calm, cool, sunny weather - perfect for my 2 x 3k track workout. As I ran through my drills and strides the wind whipped up around me and the sky suddenly darkened.

Within a few minutes the sky opened up and hammered me with hard, round snow pellets. I started to move toward the start line, I mean after all what's a little snow, but it HURT! and the wind was frantic. Pat hollered at me to wait it out under cover so I ran to the open shed to do just that. Soon the ground was covered in a random blanket of hurried white. And ten minutes later the sky brightened and the sun glared against the wet track. I love the Spring!

Three laps into my first 3k I shed my top layer and was running in shorts, tank top, and long, pink, compression socks. Did I mention, I love the Spring? 11:10 - 4:00 rest - 10:48. In the bag and aside from a slight breeze... perfect. Two minutes into my warm down, the sky began to darken so I quickly ran through my hurdle mobility drills and got another six minutes of running before mother nature worked her madness once again. This time I watched from my car, shaking my head with a smile on my face. Take THAT, Spring!

Side note: This morning I ran a 2 x 2 mile relay with a friend. Was supposed to just chill and use it as my secondary run....ummmm....I ran 4 miles in around 22 minutes. Oops! That made things a little more difficult this afternoon. I can be lame sometimes. Legs are unhappy. Kind of annoyed with myself at my stupidity. But, live and learn.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Products that I love.

There are certain products that I love and believe in. Whether they make my running easier, more enjoyable, or just plain better, these products have stood the test of time by yours truly and come out victorious!

1) KT tape -http://www.kttape.com/ I credit KT tape with finally curing my plantar fasciitis - once and for all. It has also been key for a number of other minor injuries and currently helping me through a posterior shin issue. Plus, it comes in cool colors.

2) Handful brahttp://handfulinc.com/ A sports bra never looked so good! I love this bra for running, wearing with my favorite t-shirt, using on it's own in hot yoga, and above all for avoiding the dreaded nippage in any setting.

3) Oiselle apparelhttp://www.oiselle.com/ I swear, this love is real. Yes, I am lucky enough to be sponsored by this rad company but I put this highly functional and fashionable apparel to the test every day. And every day I am satisfied with it's performance and more importantly, my performance in it (here is one of my favorites, the Roga short).

4) Nuunhttp://www.nuun.com/ My go-to electrolyte replacement drink. I am drinking it as I write this. Lots of flavor choices but my favorite is tri-berry and banananuun. It makes hydrating easier for me.


5) Think Thin Protein Bar - http://www.thinkproducts.com/2011/ An easy way to get your post-workout protein in a not-so-chalky bar. This bar spells immediate recovery for me with 230 calories, zero sugar, 20 grams of protein, and gluten free - along with loads of vitamins and minerals. I am a big fan of the dark chocolate flavor. Not a huge fan of the name but love the product.

6) Bone-Up - http://www.jarrow.com/product.php?prodid=205 I take a few supplements regularly - fish oil, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. But when I was taken down with a stress fracture at the end of 2010, I talked with Mike Johnson (Western Oregon University's head track & field coach) after a failed attempt at running after 7 weeks off - he suggested Bone-Up. Within a week I was running again with no bone pain and a visit to the PT confirmed the bone healed. I have discontinued taking my separate vit D and calcium supplements and instead take 4 Bone-Up capsules per day. Great find, especially for the female runner.

7) Paleo Diet for Athleteshttp://thepaleodiet.com/ This book is my guide to nutrition. Although, I don't follow it to the "t" I try to abide by the guidelines and believe it has made a world of difference in my recovery and in my lean muscle development.

8) Brooks T6 (now the T7) - http://www.brooksrunning.com/ Hands down the best racing flat I have ever worn. Perfect for track workouts, road races, or any time you just want to feel and be FAST! I remember the first race I wore these shoes in, a road 5K back in 2005. Never had I finished a race an not had sore calves
until this race. I credit the racers and have continued to use them with great success.


9) Foam rollerhttp://www.focus-pt.com/index-1.html How could I get through a list like this and not mention the foam roller, a staple in my training routine since about 2005. It was first introduced to me by my physical therapist, Mike Devitt - video link for foam roller exercises - and with almost daily use, my IT bands and calves stay happy and healthy. 

There are several other training "aids" that I use on a regular basis, such as, yoga, high-potency iron, and napping to name a few. But, how about you? What keeps your body healthy and happy?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Going to the dogs.

I have never understood the phrase, "going to the dogs" as it seems to imply negativity and I have seen more negativity from the human species than I ever have from dogs. In fact, there are a several key lessons that I have learned from my dog, Drake, that I try to incorporate into my training.

  1. Up with the sun, down with the sun- that's right, when the sun comes up Drake is up and ready to go- unstoppable energy flows and a new day of training to be the neighborhood squirrel killer begins. But, as soon as the sun goes down you will find him passed out on his bed after a long day of living with enthusiasm-prepping for the next day of training.
  2. Napping guru- this one is difficult for me with my go,go,go, Go, GO! state of mind. However, sometimes I glance out the window and Drake will be frantically prancing around under a tree yipping at a squirrel taunting him and the next minute I will look again and Drake will be passed out in the sun-napping. 
  3. Always ready and willing- unbridled enthusiasm for the day. Ready to do what it takes, to put in the work, to do all the extras. Drake epitomizes this. Not only does his body shake with pure excitement when I reach for his running leash but he never complains about how he feels-he just does it. Whatever IT is.
  4. Excitement over food- while I will not be taking his lead as to how QUICKLY to eat, watching Drake eat reminds me to think of food not only as fuel but as pure joy. A necessity of a life well lived and training well aided.
  5. Always trying, never give up- stop in the middle of a run because he is tired? NEVER. It is not in his blood to give up-come adverse weather, thirst, hunger, pain, it is nothing compared to the pleasant exhaustion that comes from hard work.
  6. When you gotta go, you gotta go- anyone who knows me might understand why I throw this one in here. Pop-a-squat, but be quick about it. 20 seconds max. And in some cases, don't stop-it will dry. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Robie Creek-Leveling the Playing Field.

Yesterday the mayhem that is registration for the Race to Robie Creek came and went.

If you have not heard of the Race to Robie Creek, or "Robie" as locals and veterans affectionately call it, you are obviously not from Idaho. But do not fear, there is still time to join the culture of Robie. Nicknamed, the toughest half-marathon in the Northwest Robie truly lives up to its name. With an 8 + mile knarly climb and a 4 mile steep decent through Robie Creek canyon, this race is not for the faint of heart. It is for those WITH heart and gumption and guts-well you may lose your guts at some point during it.

Online registration for the April race occurs each year on President's day and fills up within 15-20 minutes-limited number of spots are available (about 2400). In my days at a local running store-a sponsor of the race-Robie sign up was both exciting and dreaded. Exciting because of the energy and mystery surrounding the "will I, won't I" and dreaded for the same reasons. I fielded literally hundreds of calls each year about Robie and although most of them were people asking for information there were always the handful of angry callers. "Why do they do sign up this way?!", "I have run Robie 17 years in a row!", "I am going to win this race and I can't even get in!", "I am going to bandit the race!", "I don't have the internet, how am I supposed to register!" and so on and so on.

But this is all just a part of the culture. In this town, someone finds out that you are a runner and the first question out of their mouth is, "Have you run Robie?" It is because of this question that my husband, Pat McCurry, first ran the race. A Boise native, he had grown tired of this question. With a successful running career under his belt which included a stint running for Nike and an impressive set of fast times in anything from the 1500 meters to 10,000 meters, he decided to put this question to rest, so he signed up for Robie.

Not only did he put the question to rest but he came out and won the race.

Now, I will not go into detail about the IV's he needed after snagging the 'W' nor the complete inability to walk normally for two weeks following the race; but I will say, he gained an appreciation and extreme respect for not only the race itself but the thousands of individuals who put their bodies to the test each year. I recall later that evening when we were talking about the day he said, "That race makes all runners equal". When I asked what he meant he replied, "It does not matter if you are first or last, you will suffer-there is no way around it". And despite his vow to never run it again, he has gone on to run it three more times.


The culture of Robie is alive in Idaho. Each year 2,400 individuals run, scramble, yog, and trudge their way up to the summit and then skid, fall, slide, and zip their way down the back side to the finish line. And every year you hear many of them swearing off the race for life. But then after a beer or two at the finish line party their bodies begin to stop screaming and their memory of the pain fades until you hear them making plans for next year and setting their goals anew.

As T.S. Eliot so eloquently put it, "What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a new beginning. The end is where we start from." Thus, the Robie culture lives on. Not through the race itself but through those who survive it and live to tell the tale just one more year.





Find out more about Robie on their website: www.robiecreek.com

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shaking out the rust and dust.

Things I learned from my race on Friday night.

  1. Running hard does not qualify as racing but it will get out the rust and dust.
  2. Racing a mile on a 200 meter indoor track can feel sooooo long!
  3. The baton is not THAT scary. 
  4. Expect track hack.
  5. I LOVE racing in any form. 
  6. I like winning.



Although a rewind button would be nice, Friday night's race was a great work piece. Now, I have my legs back under me and my focus in the right spot. More motivated than ever to keep putting the work in and do all the extras.

On that note, time for my long run. Sixty degrees and calm out. Breaking out the short sleeves and shorts! 


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breathe.

Earlier this week, my husband showed up with an early Valentine's day gift. A small brass frog in lotus pose and a flat,round garden stone with the word "breathe" etched into it.

Later that day, I did a little rearranging and moved the guest bed downstairs, making the upstairs room my yoga and music space-my "breathing" space.


On the eve of my return to racing, I keep finding myself forgetting to breathe. More than once today I have let my mind wander to the race and as my heart rate increases and my breathing becomes more rapid I remind myself to breathe deeply, filling my lungs with clean air and replacing the nerves with calm.

In the process of moving objects around I came upon a scrap of paper stashed away inside of a book. I had written it in 2008 when, after struggling early in a 5k I dropped out. For the first time in my running career. it read, "I let myself down tonight. I didn't let anyone else down but myself. I am the one that will have to live with this and the only one that can get past it. All the excuses in the world don't make up for the fact that I just plain QUIT! I will NEVER have this feeling again. I won't allow it happen."

Reading that reminded me of how far I have come as an athlete. Not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. It is all about breathing. Honest. Stop and think about all three of those aspects, physically, mentally, emotionally. In the end, it is all about the breathe we take and where that leads us.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Have you ever...

Have you ever had an okay night turn into a GREAT night?

Have you ever cursed a Sunday morning because of it?

Have you ever been oh-so-grateful for the post "great" night run and all that it cures?

Have you ever felt like this?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My soul runneth over....

...with excitement when I stopped by the indoor track last night. It was 8:30 pm and I was driving home from a running group in downtown Boise. I knew Pat and some of his kids were there so I decided to stop and do my DST there.

When I walked in the smell of the track wafted up and hit me in the face full-force. I had a flash of past races and the burst of excitement that always accompanies them. Once I calmed myself down, I walked out onto the track and just stood there for a moment, watching and taking it all in.

While I did DST, some of the Oiselle gals (http://www.oiselle.com/athletes/team) were doing their hurdle mobility. I was just drinking in the moment. Listening to the light chatter and the feet pounding the track around me. Being able to run, strength train, jump, skip, or what-have-you with no pain has not worn off-I am still reveling in it.

While I would never wish injury or setbacks so anyone, I would wish them the renewed appreciation and thrill I experienced last night and have felt for the past week. I love being a runner again.

Happy, happy running!

"It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind."
-T.S. Eliot

Monday, January 24, 2011

Calling all opinions!

For a long time I have been searching and waiting for the perfect tattoo idea to come along. The initial problem was there were too many ideas and I wanted to find a way to combine them. Then, once they were combined in my head, how could I get it out? This is where my good friend, Chris Chandler came into the picture. The guy is a genius. Period. Check out his online portfolio:  http://www.nappinggoat.com/home.html.

In short, the image combines my near obsessive love of owls (for many reasons), running, and the initials & date are representative of my baby nephew, Jacob Enoch and the day he passed away.

After only a few drafts Chris had it nailed. Now, I am ready to take the plunge (well, once I have some income coming in). However, I cannot decide where to place it. Here is what I am thinking, ribs, outer thigh, or left scapula. What do YOU think?