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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fast Forward, Big Accomplishments.

Feet stomping.  Heart beating.  Joints aching.  The pure feeling of aches and pains, breathing hard, the feeling of wanting to simply stop, because all it takes is not putting one foot infront of the other.  All it takes is landing on your left foot and putting the right foot down right beside it, and not forward.  So hard to keep going and so very easy to just stop and quit.

But then you look around and see this isn't just about you.  You see the anguish in every person's face, everyone is suffering.  Everyone is *feeling the burn* or the slow tearing of muscle fibers and the continuous pounding of feet on the pavement which radiates to the joints and makes it feel as though your cartilage is nonexistent.  And you know you are in this together.  And you realize the person next to you that is breathing 5 times harder than you and looks as though they are in 10x the amount of pain, yet they are keeping up at your pace and they don't look like they are quitting anytime soon.  Challenge accepted.

Then comes the roar of the crowd, people cheering and screaming, clapping and holding signs which read "Run Like A Kenyan" or "Run Like You Just Stole Something" and for a second you forget the pain because you can't help but laugh on the inside.  You realize how empowering these people are, cheering in the cold October morning, at least you are keeping yourself warm.  Cheering crowds and announcers fill the air, and then you realize you are about to accomplish what you thought you could not accomplish 5 minutes ago.  What you only thought about attempting to accomplish a year ago.  What you were sure of you could accomplish when you submitted your race entry form, and what you started to slowly doubt the closer the date came, because maybe you should have put in one more long run or eaten one more pasta dinner?  And what you knew you could accomplish that morning at the start line, at 6am in the pitch darkness.  And what you did accomplish when you placed one foot infront of the other, moving forward, on the other side of the finish line.

And still I look at my race certificate, online pictures, my medal and various other reminders which recognize that I not only completed a Half Marathon, but that  I did it in quite an impressive time: 2:01:49, a number I will never forget, and never truly believe.  And the fact that my father crossed the finish line only a second behind me and ran by my side the entire time makes the feeling even more incredible.  Maybe a good amount of people can say they ran a half marathon, and maybe most of those people can say they ran it at a 9:18/mile (avg) pace, but how many can say they ran it with their Father or any parent for that matter?  '

For those of you who can, how amazing of a feeling is that??

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Going Downhill Is Your Reward For Going Uphill

Bonjour everyone, let me start out this its-been-way-too-long post with a story...

So there's this girl I know, and this girl has always wanted to be a runner.  Not just any runner, not just your puts-on-running-shoes-once-a-month runner, but a real runner.  Goes at it in the rain.  Snow.  Sleet.  Tornado.  Ok, not tornado, but just about everything else.  Isn't afraid of wind.  Big hill?  Psshhh that ain't nothin.  Bring it.  And goes into everyday with this mentality, and comes out satisfied, satisfied that she pushed herself, yet again, through another storm; through another tough run.  She sucked it up (and liked it) when everyone else decided it was to windy to run that day.

However, there was a problem..this friend of mine was not the kind of runner she wanted to be.  Sure, she put on her shoes a few days a week, ran her races, put in (some) long runs, but never really pushed herself.  Not as much as she needed to.  She would stay in on rainy days, avoid anything to steep or any day too windy.  She was a runner, but not to the extent she wished.  She wanted to be something, but never put a real action into it.

Fast forward a few years.  She still is wanting to be that incredible dedicated runner, that pushes past plateaus and says things such as "wall?  what wall??" but now she lives in a new area full of more dedicated runner she wants to be like.  Runners are a dime a dozen, and every time she goes for a run, she gets at least 5 thumbs up or waves.  But there are hills.  And rain.  And more (semi-steep) hills that can't possibly be avoided, whats a girl to do?  Do what she always wanted to of course, finally step up and push through it.  Theres a hill, so what?  Yeah, it hurts, I mean, it really hurts and its rough and breathing gets a lot harder, and legs get a lot more sore.  But you know what?  Thats called pushing yourself.  Thats called improvement.  Thats called perfect training to run your fastest race yet.

If you didn't figure it out yet, this *girl* is me.  I always wanted to be that runner that pushed themselves no matter what, went up that hill with power and energy, not huffing and puffing and stopping every other second.  Upon moving to my current location of Ann Arbor, I realized hills are very hard to avoid. Hills were never my friend, I always despised them.  They make running so tough!  But guess what, as I complain about hills in Ann Arbor, there are runners in San Francisco laughing at me.  There are expert runners everywhere laughing at me.  But heres the thing, I am not complaining anymore....

I used a great website known as map my run to plan out a nice 4 mile route.  The first (almost) 2 miles happens to be a consistent up hill climb, and the first time I ran it I was thinking " of course this would happen, up hill the whole time, when do I get to go downhill?  When does it end?"  But then I finally went downhill, and it felt amazing.  What a relief, I get to experience this easy pace, this gliding on air, I am able to catch my breath and truly reflect and appreciate what I just did.  Running downhill is quite incredible because you experience all of these things.  But how can you ever run downhill, unless you make it up the hill first?  All the hard work of trekking uphill, its so worth it for the feeling of downhill running.  And on Monday, Memorial Day, I experiences an entire race of downhill running.

Every year, I run the Grosse Isle Memorial Day 8K with my Dad.  We always keep the same pace, and usually finish within 15 seconds of each other.  I used to consider this a tough race, with *hills* and the like.  How wrong I was!  The *hill* I encountered was so laughable, I couldn't believe how hard I used to think it was.  Miles flew by, mile 1 came quick until suddenly I saw mile 3 and was keeping quite a decent pace.  As I came out of the flying mud that was the trail run, I noticed a burning in my legs; but nothing compared to my uphill battle in Ann Arbor!  I came around the bend to see the clock say instead of 45:and some minutes, it said best 8K time yet?  Really?  OK I'll take it!  Of course I took off at that point and ended up running a 42:35 (or somewhere close to it) which is officially my best 8K time ever.

How did I run such an awesome time?  How did I push through that run, at a pace of 8:30/mile?  Because I went uphill, I did the work of going uphill so that I could experience the euphoria of downhill running.  I use downhill running literally and metaphorically.  Literally, downhill running is amazing, but metaphorically, it is even better.  Metaphorical downhill running is when you feel the hard work and training you have done shine through, and carry you through a race that would have otherwise been rather tough.  Downhill running is finishing well and with the ability to push yourself through.  Downhill running is the feeling you get after running a PR race.

Whether its hill running, speed work, cross training, or all 3: go out and do it, the work is tough, not always fun, and a lot of times painful (not to the point of injury, but soreness); but if you can experience euphoric downhill running, it makes it all worth it.

I thought this would be a great way to celebrate National Runners Day.  I hope everyone had a great run today, I know I did!  I did my first official *run with the roommate* run and it was amazing :)

Have a great night, push on through, keep training, and soon enough you will be the best runner you can be.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Its Race Season!!

AHHH Hello everyone!!!!!  It has been a really really long time...and a lot has been happening!  But in order to keep this post from being waaay too long, I will just cover a few topics in this post and a few more later this week!

First of all, I wanted to cover the idea of recovering and returning back to running after health problems/ this is a small reason why I was not updating this blog!  As you know, I was on a running kick and I was running 5 to 6 days a week, and I was up to 6 miles and life was good..and then one day at work, I felt kinda sick, almost dizzy and like I could have a slight fever, so I decided to hold off on running that evening.  Then, I woke up the next day, felt great, and started to plan my day accordingly to fit in an evening run; however, I started to feel sick again and it was even worse this time...I could barely stay awake!  I thought I had Mono (not the case) because I was just BEYOND exhausted but I also had horrible body aches...turns out I had a freaking Kidney infection!  I was on some crazy antibiotics for awhile that basically made me feel like lying down all the time so I was off from running for almost 2 weeks!  The day before I got sick, I ran 5 miles...2 weeks later, I struggled through 3.5 miles.  It took a consistent week of running to feel like myself again..its rough!  And injuries are usually even worse because you need more recovery time, but just know that if you push when you are still sick or injured, you will just be setting yourself back even more!  What if I had tried to run those two days?  I am not saying I would've died or anything, but I would probably felt even worse and possibly gotten sicker.  I know there is a saying *no pain, no gain* but that only applies to being sore from working out!  Not pushing through horrible pain due to injuries or sickness!  Trust me, your body will appreciate the rest..and it needs it...push hard when you are able to.

Now that that rant is done, time to get to the topic of the is racing season!  If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that is always warm, then I guess racing season is, well, year round for you...and I am jealous.  But, in Michigan, our race season (traditionally) starts around March (although there are of course races in December through February!) and I am totally gearing up for it!  I still plan to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon in October but I have a lot of other races to get through before then!  Racing is one of the reasons I got so into running, it is so awesome to compete in races..even if its just for fun with your friends, or to check out some new scenery, or even for a free T shirt...its a great time and gets you motivated!  My first race looks like it will be a 5K on Belle Isle followed shortly by an 8K on Memorial Day in Grosse Isle! (one of the races I do every year, it is a pretty cool; you get to do a tad bit of trail running!) then after that, I will be scouring the area for any 10Ks and 10mile races to prep distance wise for the half.  What are your favorite races?  Which ones are you looking forward to?

For all race info around the area, you can go to or for a full list of races in your area!  If you are not from Michigan, will still work for ya :)

Last but not least, I got a real job!  Yes, a real full time pretty sweet job...the only downside of it, is it is quite a commute, which totally messes with my stand by workout schedule.  But alas, I have to deal with it!  I will admit, the first 1.5weeks of work I did not exercise much (besides taking the stairs at work!) because I was tired and just not used to the schedule; however, I realized I need to get my butt in gear, and if that means going to sleep earlier for an early morning run, thats what it means.  I need to make my health and fitness a priority, and why not learn how to juggle that with a full time job now?  I mean, I plan on having a full time job for quite some time, and when I am 40 and possibly have children and a job, will I give up running? Hell no, I will be that mom with the jogging stroller at 6am!  And I am not kidding about that either lol.  I have been attempting to fall asleep no later than 11/1115pm and waking up around 550am to either do a run or another shorter workout...and sometimes I am able to squeeze in a run in the evening when I am home!  There are times I just feel tired from work but luckily, I work in a city full of runners and active people alike, so every time I drive home, I see tons of people running around Ann Arbor and I think, yep I am totally going for a run when I get home!  Or, I am totally waking up early to run tomorrow morning!

One food that I am going nuts over right now is...Asparagus!!!!!!  I have been an asparagus nut lately...for one thing, it is totally in season right now, so it is cheaper and more delicious.  And another, it is such a versatile can eat it plain, put it in salads or do what I do, and throw it in a stir fry or a yummy pasta!  My favorite is putting it in a stir fry because well, I personally love stir frys, it is SUCH  a great way to get so many vegetables!!  And asparagus is great in it, trust me!  I usually do Asparagus, broccoli, onions, all sorts of peppers, and snow peas or carrots...yum!  Then a protein of your choice.

So why is asparagus so good for us?  Lets talk about great sources of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and antioxidants!  And please, always buy fresh.  Asparagus in a can is insanely salt laden and although runners need sodium, no one needs that much.  Plus it doesnt taste near as good as fresh :)

So get ready for race season, recover properly, and time manage your job/school with your fitness!  Always make yourself a priority, and that means making your health and fitness a priority.  Never sacrifice that part of you; if you neglect your health and fitness, you are neglecting every other aspect of your life as well, including the people that you love and take care of.