Less Running and More Drinking: Summer Weather Got To Me

Happy Monday!  That was some crazy weather we had last week.  Here in Chicago, like much of the rest of the country, we had some searing temperatures.  I woke up on Saturday morning and it already felt like 95°F.

I used the weather as an excuse to do a lot less running.  I logged 20 miles between Monday and Sunday, approximately half of my normal mileage.  The miles that I did get in were very slow and sweaty.  It was the perfect time to take some much needed rest from running.  Work has been super busy lately (there are a lot of upcoming races and we are in the peak of training) and life in general is pretty busy.

It is important to remember that running should be fun, and we need to take breaks; even from the things we love the most sometimes.  Coming back fresh and excited helps us to maintain a healthy relationship and avoid becoming stale.  When I did run, my legs felt fresh.  When I wasn’t running, I made sure to do other activities.

I also made a point to hydrate.  During the day, I did some healthy hydrating.  One of my favorite mocktails is also my favorite summer drink.  I am a huge fan of all things LaCroix.  I love their good old standby flavors of grapefruit, lemon, lime, and passion fruit.  I also love their new flavors like cherry lime and cucumber blackberry.  When I finish a long, hot run, I find that it is easier for me to down a glass of sparkly bubbles, than a flat glass of water.

IMG_20140325_212019_248

I totally forgot about cherry lime!

My sister-in-law introduced me to a LaCroix mocktail when I was pregnant and I have never looked back.  Minute Maid makes a delicious 15 calorie per serving lemonade.  They also make this in 12 ounce cans at 5 calories per serving.

Pour yourself a glass of sparkling water of your choice and add a splash of the lemonade (or 1/3 a can) and enjoy.  It makes for a perfect post run refresher or a great mocktail anytime during the day or evening.  Go wild and throw a splash of vodka in there for an evening imbibe.  Hey, it works for both night and day!

During the summer months, I love bubbles when cocktail time comes around.  I have a few current favorites.  My longtime go to, has been a sparkling Rose’ from a vineyard in Suttons Bay, Michigan.  L. Mawby only makes sparkling wines and his “Sex” is the perfect summer wine for picnics or late night cocktails.  Plus, who doesn’t like showing up at a party and offering someone a bottle of Sex?!

Drinks2

If you ever get the chance to do some wine touring in Northern Michigan, I highly recommend visiting L. Mawby where you can sit on the back porch with a small tasting plate and a glass of his sparkling wine.  Stop by next door at Big Little and sample their Tire Swing, another of my favorites!  Visit their websites where you can order yourself a bottle of both if you can’t make it to the vineyards.

Drinks4

Drinks3

Finally, the week after Mary was born, I popped into my favorite wine shop, The Bottle Shop.   When the owner found out I had just had a baby, she invited me to the back for a celebratory tasting.  She poured a small glass of her favorite prosecco and added a squeeze of fresh lime.  Cielo comes in at just under $10 a bottle.  It is light and refreshing.  When you add the fresh lime, it gives the prosecco a bit of a sparkling margarita flavor.  It is the perfect summer sparkler.  Cocktails don’t get any easier than this!

Drinks

The weather is looking cooler this week.  Rest assured I will be running again and back to posting more about summer running tips.  Until then, cheers!

What are your favorite ways to hydrate for real and for fun?  Share your favorite simple cocktail ideas!

Summer Running: Tips To Deal With Heat And Humidity

Summer is in full swing, and that means I am getting a lot of e-mails regarding humidity and training.  Just about anywhere you are running right now you are likely experiencing heat and humidity.  In my opinion, humidity is one of the most difficult factors to deal with as a runner.  I personally experienced this at Grandma’s Marathon in June.  It took me down.  And it took me down hard and fast.

Grandmas1

Unfortunately, when humidity rears it’s ugly head, there is very little we can do in the midst of a run.  However, there are a few things you can do to prepare as well as a few things you can do to make running more tolerable. 

First, remember that it will get better and you will come out on the other end, a stronger runner.  While running in muggy conditions can be very difficult, our bodies do adjust over time and will handle the weather more efficiently.  You likely won’t be running at your normal pace or feel as great as you do under perfect conditions, but your body will begin to deal better after approximately two weeks.

If you allow yourself to slow down and work through the conditions, your body will adapt and you will actually find that you become a stronger runner.

Slow1

Slow it down.  As I mentioned before, you will need to slow your pace down.  Be patient with your body.  If you try pushing it too hard, it will revolt and give in.  If you need to do a six mile training run and you try to push at your normal pace, you might fall short of your planned mileage.  It is much better to slow down and get those miles in.  You will likely feel much better about your training.  Falling short of mileage often leads to frustration.  Running your miles at a slower pace will give you a sense of accomplishment once they are done.  Remember that slower running has many great benefits for your training.  It will by no means destroy your pace.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Hydration during the hot and humid season is essential.  You will sweat a lot under these conditions.  Proper fluid intake is essential to get through all of training.  Keep in mind that hydration begins days before a run and not just the 24 hours prior to one single run.  It is essential to aim for maintaining euhydration, which is a normal state of hydration; meaning neither dehydrated or over hydrated.  Aim for light yellow to straw colored urine as a way to ensure this status.

Euhydration

Source: usada.com

If you are having trouble finding a hydration system for your run.  I highly recommend the Simple Hydration bottle.  It hooks to your shorts or running belt and you will quickly forget it is even there.  I am a big fan!

CherryFest6

Source: usada.com

Consider retaining some water.  If you see that the forecast calls for hot and humid conditions, consuming something salty the night before can be helpful for retaining water.  Something like chicken noodle soup, soy sauce, or even pizza has a high salt content.  This can help facilitate some levels of water retention for your long run or event the following day.

Euhydration2

This is how I feel the morning after eating sushi or pizza!

Be patient and give yourself some leniency.  Some days are better than others.  Some runs are most definitely better than others.  If your body isn’t feeling it, give yourself the option to slow it down, take walk breaks, or cut it short.  Missing a run or two is not the end of the world.  It won’t hurt your training or make you a slower runner.  But it could keep you safe and healthy.  Always listen to your body and do what is best for you.

How do you prefer to deal with summer running conditions?

A special best of luck to Chicago Rock n Roll runners this weekend.  An extra special shout out to Pamela and Elaine.  Super proud of your hard and smart work!

Stroller Running (Ahem…Jogging).

Several months ago I did my first run with Mary in the stroller.  I came home from a long training run and popped her in the seat for two miles.  I was hesitant to see how it would go, but excited to introduce her to the world of running.

Stroller2

We have a great running stroller, but it is slightly bulky for travel and we had to leave it behind when we went to NYC for the spring.  We recently pulled it back out and took Mary for a 6 mile run and Rock and I took turns pushing each mile.

While Rock was coaching hockey last week in Wisconsin, I had the chance to push Mary during her naps.  My goal was to get her to take her shorter morning nap in the running stroller.   We tried it out for an entire week and it was fantastic!  The first day it took her 15 minutes to fall asleep and the second day she fell asleep within the first mile.

Each morning she slept for just about an hour, which was long enough for me to get in my daily mileage.

Here are my pointers for running with a stroller:

Invest in a nice timepiece.  When doing our baby registry, we were overwhelmed.  What the heck do new parents really need?!  If you are a runner, you need a jogging stroller.  If you are a walker, you need a jogging stroller.  They are pricey, but please take my advice and do your research.  Figure out what your family needs.

Rock and I looked at all of the available strollers and went with the BOB Revolution SE.  It is comfy for Mary and has great attachments for baby and parent (snack table for baby and coffee holder for mom).

Stroller1

This thing has shocks like a car and an air pump to make sure the wheels are good to go.  There is a sun roof and pockets galore.  The only drawback is that while it does fold down, it isn’t nearly as compact as an umbrella stroller or our Maclaren (yikes, kids are expensive!).

Make Sure Baby Is Ready:

Our pediatrician recommended that you do not run with your baby in a stroller until they are able to sit up on their own.  While Mary was able to do this during the winter, I didn’t want to subject her to crappy weather.  So we waited until spring.   You definitely want to wait until they are able to hold their heads ups comfortably, as you do not want them bouncing around and out of control.

Ease Into It:

You don’t need to do a marathon on the first day.  Try doing 20-30 minutes the first time.  I put her snack tray up and added some treats to make the jog a little more enjoyable (for her)  A quick trip for your first attempt is a good idea.  It will be challenging for you and you also don’t want to overdo it for baby and make it a bad experience for them from the start.

Plan To Run Slower:

Pushing a stroller with a baby is no joke.  It isn’t super hard if you have the right stroller.  But it isn’t also won’t be easy.  I run a minute and a half slower per mile with a stroller than I do on my own.  There are great benefits to slow running and you can chalk it up to resistance training too!

As I mentioned on Monday, I ended up running a really solid race the weekend after doing 5 days of slow mileage pushing the stroller.  It won’t ruin your pace in the long run.

Always Be Safe!

Running with your baby presents new challenges.  Make sure you always wear the attached safety strap for the stroller.  While you may be the strongest and most diligent parent/runner, accidents happen.  If you trip, the strap will ensure that the stroller stays with you and doesn’t stray down the road.

While I love listening to music to keep my mind from focusing on the miles, when I run with Mary, I keep my phone handy for emergencies, and I am 100% sans technology.  If anything, I spend my time chatting with her.  Music should be left for your solo runs.

Be smart and obey the rules of running on the road.   Always run against traffic.  Run on sidewalks whenever you can.  And run defensively.  Assume that drivers are not paying attention.

Do you run with a stroller?  What tips would you add?

 

 

Meijer Festival of Races-National Cherry Festival

Happy Monday!  We had an awesome weekend over here.  It’s pretty hard to keep track of us lately, but we are back in Michigan and at the lake, after a week in Rhinelander, WI.

For several years now we have done our best to make it to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI.  If you have never been, Traverse City is one magical place.  It has a small town vibe mixed with just enough city life to be the perfect combo.  The area prides itself on fresh and healthy foods as well as dozens of wineries and breweries.  Seated on a bay of Lake Michigan, it is the ultimate “Inland Sea”.  The water is crystal clear and is reminiscent of the Caribbean.  It is truly a vacationer’s destination.

The climate here is just perfect for growing delicious cherries and Traverse hosts a huge National Cherry Festival each summer.  This week long celebration starts on a Saturday with opening ceremonies and airshows, continues with festivities and multiple parades all week, and then ends the following Saturday with a Festival of Races, huge Grand Royale Parade and fireworks. 

My return to racing several years ago began at the Cherry Festival.  It was ideal for me schedule-wise because my parents were able to drop me off at the start on their way to secure a spot for the parade.  Afterward, I was able to come join my entire extended family for the parade and other festivities. 

This year we made a return to the races and opted for the 15k.  We had the option of a 5k, 10k, 15k, or half marathon.  We were lazy and didn’t want to do the early start for the half marathon but I would absolutely try that next year.  I also just love the 15k distance and it is a rare breed in the racing world. 

We were lucky enough to do this race with several friends and a few athletes I have been working with who are training for marathons.

CherryFest4CherryFest3

The races go off in waves approximately 10-15 minutes apart from each other.  This was great because unlike Grandma’s Marathon, there were plenty of porta-potties and as each event took off, the lines got smaller and smaller. 

Why I love this race:  It is a perfect medium sized race.  Everything is well planned and laid out.  The course is gorgeous and the runners all take this pretty seriously.  It follows one side of the peninsula for half of the race and then goes back up the other side for the remainder.  The final mile spits you out on the parade route where onlookers eagerly cheer you on as if you were running a major marathon. I even heard someone call out for me by my maiden name.  Imagine my surprise when I realized it was my brother’s hockey coach from almost 30 years ago!

What I hate about this race:  Quite simply, Mt. McKinley  McKinley hill is a beast and it literally makes you nauseous.  Just about halfway through the race, you cut across the peninsula and the only way to do so is by crossing this hill. On the bright side, the local winery at the top is ready to hand out water (as are other locals who make their own aid stations at the end of their driveways).  On the downside, going down the hill is almost more treacherous as the uphill portion.  I nearly tripped over my own feet as I shuffled down.

Overall:  The weather was nearly perfect with cloudy skies, a bit of a gusty wind, and a chill to the air.  I pushed myself just a bit but played it safe because I knew I had my baby waiting to see me and other athletes to look out for at the finish.  I was happy with my finish and felt that I ran strong, especially considering that I pushed Mary in a running stroller all last week (follow up on this later in the week). 

This race actually attracts some pretty speedy runners.  I have always had a good run here but always came up fruitless.  Imagine my surprise when I went to see my results and found out that I placed second in my age group!  There really is something to be said for getting older (wink, wink)!

CherryFest5

CherryFest6

Shout out to Simple Hydration for letting me represent at yet another successful race!

CherryFest1

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  A special thanks for running with me and congrats to Rock, Pat, and Jennifer.  And a shoutout to Darcy, Pete and Mike who I met up with along the course and at the finish.

CherryFest7

Heading home and catching some parade on the way.

Holiday Weekends At Their Finest

Hello from the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  We are here for our annual week long adventure.  If you have followed this blog for very long, you know that my husband Rock is a hockey coach and grew up going to a camp in Northern Wisconsin.  Each year, he returns for a week and coaches their hockey program.

I love tagging along.  Last year I was a plump pregnant lady on this adventure.  And this year, we have an almost 11 month old with us!

BabyBelly2

So glad to not look or feel like that this year!

Our adventure started off with a night at my parent’s house in Michigan.  We decided to take Mary for a run with us in her stroller.  I have gone with her a few times, but this was Rock’s first.  As most parents do, we took turns getting ready.  When we met at the door, we discovered that we both chose the same outfit.  Rock was sooo excited.  Wink.  Wink.

Wisconsin8

I think he loves it!

On Saturday morning we made our trek up to the Mackinac Bridge and across the Upper Peninsula to Rhinelander, WI.  We had one very important stop to make first.  I have been hearing rave reviews of a place called Cops and Donuts.  They had one original location in their small town where the local donut shop was going to close.  The cops came together and bought the place and it has become a huge hit.  There is a new location in Gaylord, MI that they refer to as their Gaylord Precinct.  It was on the way, so we swung by for a few delicious treats.

I love all food and I love an occasional splurge.  But when it comes to donuts, I often take a bite or two and am unimpressed.  However, these donuts were quite possibly the best ones I have ever had.  Note:  get the chocolate glazed.  It is heaven sent!

Our adventure continued with car snacks that of course included cheese curds.  In case you were wondering, Mary is a huge fan.

We have had many adventures so far.  There has been time spent on the dock and dangling our legs in the water (Mary included).  Sunday night we took a horse and buggy ride that stops at local bars and one final stop for dinner.  We rode with 20 friends and it was an absolute blast.  Mary loves dogs and yells, “Hi dog,” to any that she passes.  She was shouting to every horse and calling it a dog.  She loved the bumpy wagon ride and playing on the swing sets at each stop.

Wisconsin2

First stop was to our favorite local bar The Birchwood, owned by a friend of ours.  Mary loved the cuisine and so did mom and dad!  

I even managed an awesome 9 mile run down some hot and hilly country roads on Sunday.  It was challenging, but without the humidity as a factor, I got in some much needed confidence boosting miles.

The 4th of July started with us heading to the rink for Rock’s first day of hockey camp.  We came along and I put Mary in the running stroller.  It was right around her nap time and I was hoping that we could start converting one of her naps into a sleep time/mommy run.  She fell asleep quickly and I managed 7 very slow and hilly miles.  I like to think that I got extra points for resistance training.

Wisconsin5

We finished off the day with a lovely 4th of July dinner with friends.  Rock grew up going to this camp.  He has the best of friends from growing up there and from being a counselor in his high school and college years.  I have been lucky enough to hijack some of his close girl friends.  They are absolutely some of the best people around and I am so lucky to have them in my life.  A good blogger would have captured this luckiness.  But the mom in me was too busy snapping pics of the baby!

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and that you were able to enjoy a Happy Canada Day and/or 4th of July if you celebrate!

Crap Happens: Dealing With A Terrible Race Finish (Or Non-Finish)

Greetings from Michigan, where we are enjoying the lake and a newly walking 10 month old.  Yikes!

It has been nearly two weeks since I ran (or should I say, “attempted to run”) Grandma’s Marathon.  It was a pretty awful experience all around.  I knew by mile 5 that my race goals were out the door.  By mile 13 I was calling Rock to let him know that I was going to DNF.  At mile 16 I tried to call him and it didn’t go through.  I cursed him for the next three miles as I ran to the next drop bus.  I got to the bus and texted a friend to let her know I was’t going to finish.  The text failed to go through and that was what lead me to decide to finish however I possibly could.

Let me be honest and tell you that there were three other factors that made me want to finish.  I had a drop bag at the end that held one of my favorite pair of running shorts.  I didn’t want to lose them.  Grandma’s doesn’t give you a shirt at the expo, you earn it when you cross the finish.  Finally, I wanted that damn medal.  I trained, I paid a boat load for a hotel room, and I left my baby girl at home for the weekend.  I was getting that damn medal!

Grandmas2

So what happens when you have a crappy race?  First of all, it blows.  I called Rock on the course to let him know that I wasn’t going to finish and he had some great advice for me.

You probably know that I am a certified running coach.  But I likely haven’t mentioned that Rock is also an RRCA certified running coach.  Together we run a sports training business. We train young athletes but we also have trained hundreds of runners together over the years.

TurkeyTrot2

When I told him what was going on, the first thing he mentioned was that this is humbling.  He has been there himself.  We’ve watched athletes fall apart in races or end up unexpectedly injured during a race.  It is absolutely humbling.  It certainly isn’t the way you foresee a race going.  It isn’t what you train for.  And in fact, it somewhat pisses you off that you trained that hard and that long, only to have this experience.

Next, he reminded me of some sage advice that Dean Karnazes gave a friend of mine after an ultra-marathon gone bad.  DNF=Did Nothing Foolish.  If you are hurting, or if it isn’t meant to be, it is wiser to stop when you need to, than to push on.  Many a runner has been in similar conditions and has pushed themselves to the brink, only to end up with serious injuries including heat stroke.

When I knew that I was going to press on,  I realized it was going to be a tough finish.  But I knew that I wasn’t putting myself in harm’s way.  I could drop out at any moment.  In fact, when they raised the black “Extremely High Risk,” flags I assumed I was going to be informed that the race was closed.

Grandmas1

What are your options when a race goes downhill?

Scenario 1:

•If you know that your health isn’t in danger, you can keep going.  Assess your situation.  Are you in danger?  Can you keep moving?

•Slow down, ignore your GPS and just finish the best way that you can.  For me, cramping set in and I had to walk, a lot.  At that point I was okay with it.  My only goal was to finish.  Sometimes we have to let go and forget what our original goals were and be okay with that.

•Stay hydrated and stay fueled.  Try to make the the best of the situation.  Enjoy the crowd support.  (I gave a shout out to a woman with a sign that said “Giving Birth Is Harder Than This” and it was also a great reminder!).  Misery loves company.  Chat with a fellow struggler and work together as a team.

Scenario 2:

•If your health is at risk, you have nothing left to give, or you are just plain over it, go ahead and get on that bus.  There is nothing wrong with calling it a day.   Don’t be a hero.  Know your limits.

DNF

•Give your body some time to rest and recover.  And I mean A LOT  of time.  Let your muscles repair.  Let your mind recover from the trauma of a crappy race.  Let your body forget about the training it just went through.  And let your body fall back in love with running.

•Then you can reassess.  Do you want revenge?  Are you over it?  Don’t make any rash decisions.  Figure out what is best for you.

It is important to remember that running is tough.  It takes a toll on both your body and your mind.  Most runners need a break after a race; even a disappointing one.  Take some time and enjoy life and cross training.  Distances like the marathon will never be tamed and it is important to keep that in perspective.  You can train for months in the smartest and most efficient way, but the distance and the sport will always have a leg up on you.

Things I Am Loving Right Now

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  We have been enjoying our stay at the lake in Michigan.  I even got a few post marathon runs in and they didn’t feel too bad!

I wanted to step away from the running chat today and share a few things I am absolutely loving right now.  Please note that these are absolutely 100% my own views.  I have not been compensated by any of these companies or products.  But I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to it (wink, wink).

The first is this Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel.  I have had acne prone skin since I was 4 years old.  I also have sun damage in the form of black spots on my forehead and other areas of my face.  I got a sample of this stuff from Sephora during a recent trip and immediately ordered a 5 ounce bottle for $34.  This stuff is amazing!  You simply apply a small amount to your skin and watch as the dead layer rubs off.

I bought this to clear up my acne, but it has almost completely cleared my sun damage spots.  It works way better than the prescription medicines my dermatologist gave me.

ThingsILike1

I then finish it off with the Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser.  This stuff feels so good, with a slight warming sensation.  It isn’t too harsh and my skin feels so soft when I am done.  I also use my Clarisonic with this.

When I am outside and running I use the Colorescience powder recommended by my dermatologist.  This comes in a convenient and easy to use tube in various shades and SPF levels.  I love this because you can use it over your makeup and it also lasts for up to 2 hours with exercise.  You can easily toss it in your purse or gym bag.

ThingsILike6

Since I am post marathon and trying to be healthy while curbing my runger, I have discovered a few delicious treats.  My amazing friend Stephanie gave me a goody bag full of some of my new favorites:

Bare Banana Simply Baked Cinnamon Chips are our new favorite treat in this house.  I first tried the plain flavor and Rock wasn’t a fan.  I was thrilled to find this out because I thought they were delicious and didn’t have to share.  They are crispy like chips and are made of just plain baked bananas.  At 120 calories for 1/2 a cup serving, this is a pretty healthy treat.  But when I pulled the cinnamon flavored chips out, Rock suddenly was intereste.  Now we need to buy these in bulk.  They are the perfect crunchy treat when you need a snack.

ThingsILike4

Figs.  I love Fig Newtons but I have never just eaten figs.  Thanks to Stephanie, we finally pulled them out of the pantry last night and gave them a try.  They aren’t pretty, but we both loved them.  We are hooked!  It is like nature made it’s own candy for us.

ThingsILike5

What are your most recent new loves?  Have you tried any of these?

“It’s Greek To Me” Chicken Recipe

It has been a long time since I have done a recipe.  But we are finally back in a place where we have a kitchen.  Here at our lake house we don’t have a lot of space, but let me tell you, it is a huge improvement from our tiny studio in NYC.  Let’s just say that there was a lot of take out going on in the Dudek house.

I have a major thing for Mediterranean food.  I am still trying to replicate my favorite beef shwarma.  But the other day I had a hankering for something Greek.  While this might not be a traditional recipe, it was quick and delicious.  Rock doesn’t even like artichokes and he ate every single bite and went back for seconds.  He said this is a keeper.
This recipe is delicious, healthy, and whips up in a snap!  Pics definitely don’t do this one justice, so you might just have to trust me on this one.
ItsGreekToMe4
“It’s Greek To Me” Chicken:
Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Several cloves of minced garlic
1 medium sized container of low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 small jar pitted kalamata olives
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 small jar sun dried tomatoes
Optional: feta cheese
Directions:
Pour Greek yogurt into baking dish, add in minced garlic and stir.  Chop kalamata olives and add to yogurt with a tablespoon or two of the olive juice from jar.  Slice the sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts and add to yogurt mix.  Stir everything together.  Add chicken breasts and thoroughly coat with yogurt mixture.  Cover and keep in fridge for an hour or up to a add to allow the flavors to really work their magic.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F or until done.
Rock suggested topping the baked chicken with feta after it comes out of the oven for a little bit of an added Greek flavor.  I recommend going crazy with the garlic.  For me, the more there is, the better.
We had this with grilled vegetables and it was the perfect healthy dinner!
ItsGreekToMe1

Well, then I found this gem in the pantry and had to eat it.  Perfect finish!

Basic Race Etiquette

During the marathon on Saturday, I started noticing a few things on the course that I felt should be addressed.  As you know, I think runners are a special breed.  We tend to push ourselves to the brink, and yet if we see someone in need, we will stop our own race and help them.  We will often forego our own goals and hard training to ensure that another runner is taken care of or crosses the finish line.

However, there were a few things that I felt needed to be discussed.  Maybe new runners or new racers don’t know a few tricks/rules of the trade.  Perhaps seasoned runners could use a reminder.  So let’s address a few and please add yours below if I miss any.

Respect the porta potty line.  We all need to go to the bathroom.  Pre-race rest stops are a requisite for us all.  We stress about it.  We plan it out.  Jumping the line or pushing your way through is rude and disrupts the system.  Be patient, arrive early, and wait your turn.

BeKind

Respect the start waves.  If your race doesn’t have assigned corrals, please go to the appropriate one for you.  I have had many runners point out that they are a bit slower and it would make more sense for them to start up at the front and give themselves a bit more time.  Races stay open to make sure you get your run in within the allotted time frame.  Cutting the line and starting at a pace that isn’t yours, actually disrupts the entire race.  Athletes who are planning to run at the intended pace end up getting backed up and weaving around each other.  This even makes the course dangerous.  Trust the system and stay where you should be.

Don’t push.  Be patient and respect your fellow runners.  I can’t believe I am even posting this.  But I did see a runner shove people out of the way.  I actually thought it was a joke at first.  It is unnecessary, disrespectful to your peers, and dangerous.  We already have enough road rage.  Let’s keep races peaceful and avoid race rage.

BeKind

Use hand signals.  It is absolutely okay to walk during a race.  Run/walk plans are a great way to approach training and races.  But if you are running with a crowd, it is recommended that you raise your hand to signal that you will be stopping to walk.  For safety reasons, this ensures that other runners won’t slam right into you and create a dangerous back up.

Look before you loogie or snot rocket.  Yeah I get it.  It is that time of year.  Allergies are crazy right now.  Running makes your nose run.  If you need to hack a loogie or shoot a snot rocket, please look before you do it.  Nothing is more gross than getting attacked on a race course.

Be respectful of volunteers.  I am not going to say that you need to slow down and place a cup of water in the garbage bin.  That isn’t always feasible.  If it is possible to aim for a garbage can, please do.  Say thank you if you can.  Try your darndest to be kind and thoughtful towards the volunteers with a smile, or a nod, and a cup tossed in the direction of where the others are.

I guess what I am saying is, be respectful.  Follow the same rules you would on the road.  Treat your fellow runners with the same respect you would like to receive.  And don’t forget to treat the race volunteers with respect as well.  They are out there making sure you finish safely and cleaning up your litter.

What are your race etiquette recommendations?

It Was The Best Of Times-It Was The Worst Of Times

Where do I start?  First of all, congrats to anyone who ran Grandma’s Marathon 2016. To put it lightly, it was brutal!

Grandmas6

Kim and I arrived Friday evening in Duluth and headed directly to the Expo.  Packet pickup was so quick and efficient.   We took a quick stroll through the rest of the vendors, but as we noted, if you’ve seen one expo, you’ve seen them all.

We then headed to the Residence Inn to check-in.  Originally, we had planned on having Rock and the baby here with us.  So we booked a one bedroom suite.  But with only the two of us there, we were pleasantly surprised to see just how spacious and awesome our room was.  Full kitchen, working fireplace, huge living area, great bathroom set up, and a nice big separate bedroom with a king sized bed.

After dinner, we spent the evening looking at various weather reports.  Many called for a strong chance of heavy thunderstorms and others said we would have a slight chance of rain and cloudy skies.  We figured we would wait and see what the morning brought.

We were up bright and early, ate some breakfast, and drove down the road to the Miller Hill Mall.  We boarded a yellow school bus and made the trek out to the start of the race.  We arrived with almost an hour to spare and after dropping our bags at gear check, we headed directly for the porta potta line.

Let me be real honest and say that this was the biggest disappointment about the race.  The set up was horrific and there were clearly not nearly enough facilities.  We waited in a slow moving line for 45 minutes.  We heard the National Anthem playing and I popped out of the porta potty with minutes to spare before the race began.  This left me unable to get to the correct starting pace group.  A race of this size should not have that huge of a lack of facilities.

This wasn’t a one time problem either.  Rock told me that last year he made it out just as the National Anthem was playing and had to dash to the start.  Waiting in a line for 45 minutes in the pouring rain in 2015 blew.  Waiting in line for 45 minutes in 2016 and wondering if you should skip going to the bathroom or miss the start is a major flaw.

Getting in the wrong start time didn’t seem to matter.  Grandma’s start is based on the honor system.  If you know me, I think runners are stellar people.  They are some of the greatest people around.  But there were some pretty dishonest start paces.  For three miles I wove around walkers.  I witnessed a girl in a Prince costume shoving and elbowing people as she ran in her purple spandex get up and wig (I have never seen that happen and was pretty appalled by her behavior).

Once I got into a groove I felt pretty good…..until Mile 5.  That was when I started seeing my paces slow down with every mile.  It was then that I noticed a pain in my toe that I had been sensing off and on for the past few weeks.  It started to sing and then wavered between bouts of severe pain and numbness.

The temperature before the race was 68°F.  By the time the race started it was 72°F and I heard that by 9:00am it was in the 80’s.

I struggled.  I struggled a lot both mentally and physically.  It was clear that I was not going to have a good race and it was clear that I was not going to get another BQ.  By mile 14, I called Rock and announced that I was going to drop out by mile 19 at the latest.  I was so upset with myself.  But he reminded me that it was better to be safe and do what my body needed.

I jogged to mile 16 and started walking towards the drop busses.  I called Rock and it didn’t go through.  Annoyed, I decided to stay the course and run to mile 19 where Kim’s dad was and hitch a ride back with him.

I ran and walked.  I struggled some more and made it to mile 19.  I couldn’t find Kim’s dad.  I called Rock and told him I was going to ride the bus back to the start.  He told me he was proud of me and I left feeling okay with my decision.  I felt there was no way I had 7 miles left in me.  But when I stood near the bus and reassessed, I decided to go as slow as possible to the next chance to drop and decide from there.

I watched as the alert levels on the course went from Moderate Risk, to High Risk, and then to Extremely High Risk.  Black flags were raised.  I have never been on a course where this has happened.

Grandmas1

I knew then that I was going to finish.  It was going to be slow.  It was going to be ugly.  But I was going to do it.  I knew that I wasn’t sick and my health wasn’t at risk.  But I also knew that we drove 7+ hours to get to Duluth and paid a lot of money to stay there.  I didn’t want to get home or wake up the next day and question, “What if?”

For the next 7 miles, I jogged when I could and walked when my calves cramped up.  I had no control over my legs and the cramping was so terrible, I nearly fell over several times.  I did what I could when my body allowed and was okay with walking when I needed.  The cramping only allowed me to run for a tenth of a mile at a time by the end.  I gave in and just followed my body’s lead.

RunWithYourHeart

As Rock said, it was a humbling experience.  I ran this race an hour longer than my PR five weeks ago.  But it was a great reminder that the marathon truly never can be tamed.  It will always own you, regardless of how hard or how smart you train.  And running coaches are most definitely not invincible.

It was a disappointing experience and finish.  But in many ways, I am more proud of this finish than my PR and BQ last month.  It took everything in me to finish.  I struggled many times to finish and considered quitting a lot.  But I am so glad I pushed through and finished.  Mommy still doesn’t quit!

Grandmas2

Congrats to everyone who ran, finished, and those who might not have quite been able to get there.  If you run, you are a winner.  Thank you to the volunteers for helping aid us along the way!