Five Reasons To Run An Ultra

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

FridayFiveJFKMedal
This week’s theme is Five Reasons to Run ________ (a marathon, an ultra, a 5k, whatever you fancy)…

I’m am choosing to go with Five Reasons to Run an Ultra, and I’m taking a fun approach!  Here are my five silly reasons to run an ultra:

1.  You have three black toenails as a result of your last marathon, and you want all of your nails to match

2.  You want an excuse to eat snacks all day long without feeling guilty

3.  You miss tripping over roots, running through mud and streams, and having some of the most amazing views while running!

4.  You need a new belt buckle for your favorite jeans

5.  You need something to talk about at cocktail parties

 

**************************************************

Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for a chance to win one of two George Mason University SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analyses.  Complete rules can be found in Monday’s post.

To enter for a chance to win a GMU SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis,
please use the Rafflecopter app below.

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

  • Questions:
  • What is the longest distance you’ve run?
  • Have you run an ultra, or do you have an ultra on your bucket list??
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

Exercises To Keep Me In Top Running Form

On Monday, I wrote about participating in a 3-D Gait Analysis at George Mason University’s SMART Lab, and yesterday I talked about my results.  Today, I’m sharing the exercises they recommend I add to my routine to help prevent injury, and maximize my running potential.

I’ve included a few videos to some of the exercises that might not be as familiar to my readers.  If there are exercises that seem particularly interesting to you, Google them, and give them a try!

Recommendations for “Mobility Stability Improvement” of my ankle/foot included:

Stretches:

  • Achilles

Rolling:

  • Soleus (calf) – Foam roll soft tissue to release
  • Plantar Fascia – LAX ball or Foot Log against soft tissue to release

FootLogCollage
Recommendation for “Mobility Stability Improvement” of my knee included:

Strengthening Exercises:

  • Wall sits
  • BOSU squats
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Seated calf raises

Stretches:

  • Hamstring

Foam Rolling:

  • Hamstring – soft tissue release

Recommendations for “Mobility Stability Improvement” of my hip included:

Strengthening Exercises:

  • Clamshells
  • Hip Hike
  • Single-leg deadlift
  • Side hip abduction
  • Rotisserie core
  • Standing hip flexor
  • X walks
  • Supine bridges
  • Side planks with leg raises
  • Squats with resistance band
  • Lateral step-ups

Stretches:

  • Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Rolling:

  • Hip – LAX ball in soft tissue

 

Recommendations for “Mobility Stability Improvement” of my core included:

Strengthening Exercises:

  • Clamshells
  • Hip hike
  • Russian twist
  • Donkey kick
  • Side planks with leg raises
  • Plank
  • Stir the pot
  • Swiss ball plank
  • Quadruped
  • Practicing good posture

Balance:

  • Rocker board
  • Medicine ball throw on single-leg
  • Swiss ball rock ‘n’ roll
  • Swiss ball torso rotation

 

And there you have it!  I was instructed to do specific exercises, I ran with little sensors attached to my body, I was analyzed, and then I was compared to other runners my age, gender, and approximate skill level.  From that, I was given a report with my strength, flexibility, and alignment issues; and given exercises to help me improve those areas of concern.

What I do with this information is now mine to decide.  I could finish writing my reports, and move on to doing exactly what I was doing before, or I can make the necessary changes by adding these exercises to my routine (some I’m already doing), and make myself the strongest runner possible.

You can bet I’ll do the latter, because I’m confident this newly gathered information will only help me toward reaching my number one goal of running forever!

*****************************************************

Just a reminder that SMART Lab is giving two gait analyses to two of my readers!  Two of my lucky readers will win an opportunity to visit the lab, perform the exercises, and receive a complete assessment, free of charge!

 

Rules to enter the SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day between now and Friday, October 24 at midnight.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Please enter only if you live in the DC Metro area, or would be available to visit the GMU SMART Lab in Manassas, VA.
  3. Two winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Friday, October 24, and announced by Sunday, October 26.
  4. Once the winners are announced, they will have until Tuesday, October 28 to verify that they will register for their analysis.  If either winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win a GMU SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis,
please use the Rafflecopter app below.

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure:  I was given the opportunity to participate in the 3-D Gait Analysis at no cost to me ($200 value).  All opinions expressed are my own.

 

  • Questions:
  • Which of the above exercises do you do on a regular basis?
  • What other cardiovascular exercises do you do besides running?
  • What would you hope to gain most from your SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis should you be one of the two lucky winners?

3-D Gait Analysis Findings

On Monday, I wrote about my amazing opportunity participating in a 3-D Gait Analysis at George Mason University’s SMART Lab.  To recap, I was invited to participate in exchange for a review on my blog, and received the $200 assessment, at no charge.

GMUSmartLabEddoDebResults
Eddo compared my functional test results to my gait analysis, and compiled a biomechanical report and assessment specific to me.  My report pinpoints areas of weakness and  inflexibility, and gives me suggestions on exercises that I can do to correct those problems, and hopefully, help protect me from injuries in the future.

GMUSmartLabBiomechanicalReport
My report explains that data has been collected in four different areas during my testing process.  Those areas are biomechanics, strength, alignment, and flexibility.  It’s how those four pieces interlink together that help determine my risk of injury.

GMUSmartLabInjuryIndex
If you remember from my post on Monday, my data was placed in a large and ever-growing database with information collected at 18 other biomedical research labs around the world.  This allowed for comparing my test results with those of other test subjects of the same ability level, gender, age, etc.

The goal would be to score as close to 100% as possible in each of the pieces of the Injury Index puzzle below.  My total Injury Index score was 36 with a breakdown as follows:

  • Ankle/Foot – 41% (excessive time to peak pronation in both feet)
  • Knee – 8% :-(  (excessive knee collapse velocity and excessive peak knee rotation in left knee; and reduced peak knee collapse in both knees)
  • Hip – 67% (excessive peak hip extension in both hips)
  • Functional – 63% (reduced toe-out position in both limbs)

The SMART Lab’s and my goals will be to increase those low scores now that we’ve identified my “atypical biomechanical gait patterns.”  I’ll do this by incorporating exercises and stretches to fix these problems into my daily routine.

GMUSmartLabInjuryIndex
The areas identified above (ankle/foot, knee, hip, and functional) were individually graphed out for me showing whether I fall into the excessive, ideal, or reduced range for a variety of tests.  The blue dots identify my left ankle/foot/knee/hip, and the red diamond identifies my right.  I’ve included these results above with my percentages in the four Injury Index pieces.

GMUSmartLabFunctionalOutcomes
After reading the very thorough description of the various terms used when discussing the foot/ankle complex, knee complex, hip complex, and functional outcomes, it helped me understand my findings better.  At a glance, it’s so much information, but once I sat down and reread my report, I had a much better understanding, and could appreciate the findings.

Next my report breaks down my results from the gait analysis and functional tests, and identifies symptoms, muscles/structures involved, and finally gives me recommended exercises to improve the area of concern.

GMUSmartLabMobilityStabilityImprovement
In addition to my Injury Index points of concern, the follow specific areas of concern were identified:

  • Ankle dorsiflexion – fail left (this has been a problem since my 2012 L4-L5 bulge)
  • Dorsiflexion of great toe – fail right (this has been a problem since my 2012 L4-L5 bulge)
  • Hamstring flexibility – slightly asymmetrical, right more excessive
  • Bilateral squat – fail bilaterally, forward torso, poor sagittal plane, core/posture
  • Single-leg squat – both sides knee dives inside second toe, trunk shifts both sides
  • Bridge test – right hamstring cramping (this has been a problem since my 2012 L4-L5 bulge)
  • Vertical compression posture test – slight lordosis

So what exercises were recommended for me to do to improve upon these strength, flexibility, and alignment deficiencies?  You’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out!  ;-)

*****************************************************

Just a reminder that SMART Lab is giving two gait analyses to two of my readers!  Two of my lucky readers will win an opportunity to visit the lab, perform the exercises, and receive a complete assessment, free of charge!

 

Rules to enter the SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day between now and Friday, October 24 at midnight.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Please enter only if you live in the DC Metro area, or would be available to visit the GMU SMART Lab in Manassas, VA.
  3. Two winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Friday, October 24, and announced by Sunday, October 26.
  4. Once the winners are announced, they will have until Tuesday, October 28 to verify that they will register for their analysis.  If either winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win a GMU SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis,
please use the Rafflecopter app below.

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure:  I was given the opportunity to participate in the 3-D Gait Analysis at no cost to me ($200 value).  All opinions expressed are my own.

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you have any minor running injuries that you’re ignoring, hoping they don’t get any worse?
  • What exercises do you do to enhance your running?
  • What would you hope to gain most from your SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis should you be one of the two lucky winners?

My Most Memorable Running Experience: The Day I Ran My Marathon PR

I’m linking up again this month with Amanda at The Lady Okie and Becka at Sunshine To The Square Inch for their Runner’s Tell All monthly linkup.  Be sure to pop over to their blogs to see what they are up to, and to see who else is linking up.

This month, Amanda and Becka’s cue was Most Memorable Running Experience – crazy, sad, awesome, surprising, or anywhere in between (can be from a race or just a training run)…

 

 

When I saw the prompt Most Memorable Running Experience, I had to stop and think a while about just what my answer would be.

A memorable running experience could either be bad or good.  While running, I’ve never been bitten by an animal, almost hit by a car, had something thrown at me, or anything unpleasant like that, so I guess I’m pretty fortunate.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve had many pleasant running experiences.  While running, I’ve made lifetime friends, spent countless hours with the love of my life, and even found money (coins – but still, I returned home richer than when I left)!

As I think back, the most memorable experience was running my marathon PR at Steamtown.  Two years after my first marathon, I ran a 3:29:04 in 1999, and was never able to beat that time.  I was so overcome with emotion when I met my sub-3:30 goal, that I cried.

DebSteamtownFinish
 Remembering back to that day and that moment:

  • I remember the excitement as I toed the starting line for what I hoped would be a PR race
  • I can still feel the rain hitting my shoulders hard for 26.2 miles
  • I can still hear people calling my name, and cheering me on as I ran by
  • I can still feel the pain in my quads as I climbed that last steep hill to the finish line
  • I can still remember hugging a complete stranger at the finish line who had paced me while I paced him the last six miles of the race
  • I can still feel the tears welling up, but holding them in, until I found a moment to be alone
  • I can still feel the pain of my legs being kneaded in the massage tent that one-and-only time I took the time for a post-race massage
  • I can still hear Bill’s excitement when I called him from a pay phone to tell him my marathon time
  • I can still smell the pizza from the little shop where my friends and I stopped to grab a bite to eat after the race
  • I can still remember how stiff my legs were when I attempted to get out of the car after a four hour ride home from the race

So many detailed memories spring up when I think of this race, and all of them are good, even if some are painful!  But you can’t expect to PR at a marathon without a little pain!

**************************************************

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win one of two George Mason University SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analyses.  Complete rules can be found in Monday’s post.

To enter for a chance to win a GMU SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis,
please use the Rafflecopter app below.

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

  • Questions:
  • What is your most memorable running experience?
  • Do you ever find money while on a run? ~ It’s usually a penny for me, but one time I found several coins in a pile that totaled about 27 cents!
  • Have you entered for a chance to win a 3-D Gait Analysis from GMU’s SMART Lab?

One Year Later, And Missing My Dad

A year ago today I lost my dad, and at times it feels like it was forever ago, and at other times it seems like just yesterday that I was laughing at his corny jokes, giving him fitness advice, and talking Monday morning quarterback with him.

Shortly after Dad died, I wrote the following tribute to the nicest and hardest working man that ever walked the face of the earth… 

From October 26, 2013…

Last Thursday I wrote Just What the Doctor Ordered, and talked about my stressful trip to Tennessee to help care for a loved one.  I didn’t mention that I left sobbing.  I didn’t have that feeling in my gut, that feeling that I’d never see him alive again, but I was afraid of what might happen.  I told him that I loved him so very, very much, and he told me that he loved me, too.  We never hung up the phone or left each other for more than a little while without saying, “I love you,” and I’m so grateful for that.

Sunday night at 11:47 I got the phone call everyone dreads.  My dear sweet dad had just passed away from complications from pneumonia.  I had planned to leave the very next day to go back to the hospital to spend another week with him…

It’s hard to believe that just three short weeks earlier, Dad had mowed the lawn and picked apples from his orchard to freeze, and then taught his Sunday school class on Sunday morning.  Dad set the bar high when it came to getting things done.  He worked harder than anyone I have ever met; and he instilled that work ethic in my brother and me.  When he first got sick the week before Labor Day he called to get my opinion on whether or not he should continue to do his morning cardio exercises of rowing and riding his stationary bike.  When I suggested he cut that out for a few days until he felt better, he asked, “What about my crunches and push-ups?”  He didn’t like not staying active.  After a few weeks he felt a little better and his doctor told him he could resume his normal activities.  Dad went home from the doctor’s office and cut the grass.

My dad was quite the athlete in his youth.  He was captain of his high school basketball team, but his first love was baseball.  In addition to his high school team, he played on local community teams and was invited to attend the Brooklyn Dodgers training camp and try out for the team.  A previous hand injury limited his success at camp, but he continued to rule third base on his local community teams.  Even today, his buddies still talk about what a great player he was.  He said that he didn’t mind not making the team because if he had made the team, he might not have married my mom.

BaseballTeam
At 22 years old, Dad was drafted into the Army and proudly served our country.  When he was discharged he returned to his family farm and took over the farming responsibilities for his father.  He and my mom were married about a year later and started their family with a little boy, and then a little girl.

DadArmy

The year before I started school, I hung out with my dad on the dairy farm during the day while my mom taught school.  I was a “Daddy’s Girl” from early on; and to this day, I can use tools, discuss planting crops, or identify the different breeds of cattle like any good farmer!

  DadBalingHay

On Saturday afternoon’s during the fall I’d hang out with my dad and no matter what farm chore he was doing he would make sure to have his pickup truck or radio nearby so he could listen to VPI play football.  Back then Virginia Tech was called Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or VPI.  I remember when I was about four, I asked Dad what VPI was and why he liked listening to them.  He told me that they were playing football and they they were his favorite team.  If they were good enough for my dad, they were good enough for me and I became a VPI football fan, cheering them on as we listened on the radio.

When I got married and moved to Utah, my dad always kept me updated on how our Hokies had done that weekend.  Keep in mind that this was long before the internet, and ESPN was just an infant carrying mostly boxing, so I couldn’t easily find out how my Hokies had done.  Eventually I moved back east, the Hokies got better, and their games were carried on TV most weeks.  Somehow our tradition started that after a win and whether I was in Lane Stadium or watching the game on TV, the second the game was over I would call my dad and he would answer the phone shouting, “How ’bout them Hokies!”  It was our thing.  I even found this little framed picture and bought one for each of us.

HowBoutThemHokies

You can bet that after every win in the future I will look up into heaven and shout to my dad, “How ’bout them Hokies!” and I’ll follow it with, “I love and miss you, Dad!” (Edited note:  After a win, I haven’t been able to look up into heaven and shout to my dad, “How ’bout them Hokies,” instead, I burst into tears.  I know that someday I will be able to do this, but it’s just going to take time…)

Joseph and Daniel (and their two cousins Rob and Dave) loved their trips to the farm to visit their Granddaddy and GaGa.  Once they turned four years old, they got to spend a week each summer with my parents and get properly spoiled (I called it Camp Granddaddy and GaGa).  They loved helping Dad farm and loved having free rein to run and play on the farm.

DadJosephTruck

Joseph was cool like Granddaddy

DadDanielWheelBarrows

Daniel helped Granddaddy haul mulch to the garden

Even though my dad didn’t make it to watch me at any of my marathons, he was my biggest supporter and so proud of me.  I’d call him after every race and tell him all about it.  He told everyone that his daughter was a runner and had run the Boston Marathon.  After I ran my first Boston, and got my first jacket, he took this picture of me that I just found in one of my parents’ photo albums. I’d forgotten all about it…

DebBostonJacketPhotoAlbum

His advice before my first race was to “get out in front and not let anyone pass me.”  It was his silly sense of humor that was one of my favorite things about him.  He was always a ten year old at heart, and he loved more than anything to tell his grandsons silly little riddles and jokes.

My dad was many things, and I’ll hold all of those precious memories in my heart forever.  But mostly I’ll remember him for his dedication and love to my mom for over 60 years, his love of his family, his love of God, his dedication and contribution to his church and community, his incredible work ethic, his talent as a wood worker and furniture maker, his love of history, his athleticism, his love of his Hokies football team, his talent as a gardener, his love of reading, and his support of his family in whatever endeavors we chose.

Our family has been touched by the outpouring of love and kindness from our extended family, friends, and the community.  But when you step back and think about it, this is truly an example of you reap what you sow.  My parents have always been very active in their community and church, and their friends are simply paying them back.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I love you and I miss you, Dad!

  • Questions:
  • What’s your very first memory of you and your dad?
  • What activities and hobbies do/did you and your dad share?
  • What trait do you have that’s most like your dad’s?

3-D Gait Analysis At George Mason University’s Smart Lab

When fellow runner/blogger and Ragnar teammate Anne contacted me about the possibility of teaming up with George Mason University’s SMART Lab for a 3-D Gait Analysis, I jumped at the chance.

GMUSmartLabLogo
I immediately checked out their website to see what sorts of fitness testing was offered.  From the SMART Lab website and staff I learned that they offer:

  • 3-D Gait Analysis – Assesses gait mechanics during walking and/or running, and provides evidence based recommendations to improve identified deficiencies
  • Bod Pod – Uses air displacement to access body volume, and then determines fat free mass, and fat mass (gold standard in measuring body composition)
  • Skinfold Analysis – Measures body composition
  • VO2Max Endurance Test (Oxygen consumption test) – Determines the ability to use Oxygen in exercise (both sub-maximum and maximum tests)

When I learned that the George Mason University (GMU) SMART Lab was one of only three locations in the United States (and one of only six in the world) that offers 3-D Gait Analysis to the general public, I knew that was what I wanted to try.  When else might I have this amazing opportunity?

My specific reasons for choosing the 3-D gait analysis was threefold.  Firstly, it seemed like something my readers would love to learn more about.  Secondly, it was something I was very curious about since I have run a lot of miles for many years (my conservative estimate is that I’ve run 20,000 miles since turning 40).  Thirdly, I wanted to see what gait deficiencies I might have, and what would be recommended to improve those deficiencies to help me meet my goal of running forever.

I arrived at the Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center in Manassas, VA, home of the SMART Lab, on a gorgeous afternoon, ready to do whatever was needed to get the most out of my 3-D Gait Analysis.

GMUSmartLab
The SMART Lab staff greeted me warmly when I arrived, and got right to work introducing themselves to me, setting my my expectations for what to expect during my session, and making me feel comfortable.  For a client who might be nervous about the testing, the staff’s calming personalities would put them right at ease.

GMUSmartLabStaff

Left to right: Dr. Nelson Cortes, Amanda Car, Eddo, Alicia Harris, and Dr. Shane Caswell

 

I was put in the capable hands of Eddo, a PhD candidate for Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion at GMU.  Eddo put me through a litany of functional tests to determine my muscular strength and flexibility, before putting me on the treadmill for my gait analysis.

GMUSmartLabEddoTestingDeb
GMUSmartLabEddoCheckingSpineCurvature
Next he had me perform squats…

 

And then he had the nerve to ask me to perform one-legged squats!

GMUSmartLabDebOneLegSquat
Obviously, I was not very good at this particular assignment.  Yes, I lost my balance causing my body to completely collapse, but look at that focus!

GMUSmartLabDebOneLegSquatCollapse
While Eddo put me through the remainder of my tests, Amanda (first semester PhD student studying Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion) prepared sensors and markers that would be Velcroed to my back at waist level, and taped to the sides and backs of my legs and shoes.

GMUSmartLabAmandaPreppingSensors
And finally, Amanda had to put tape all over my Brooks Glycerine shoes to cover the reflective glow so the cameras wouldn’t pick up on it.

GMUSmartLabGoofyDeb
Once I was taped and Velcroed properly, I was ready to start my test.  Of course, being the good runner that I am, I had to snap this leg and foot selfie, because that’s what runners do! GMUSmartLab3DGaitAnalysisSystemDebRuns
I started out walking on the treadmill for about five minutes.  The three infra-red cameras behind me digitally captured my walking biomechanics via the sensors.

GMUSmartLabDebWalkingTreadmill
My movement was then shown on the screen in the most basic and non-distracting form, a skeleton walking.

GMUSmartLabDebWalking
After a five-minute warm-up, Amanda had me start running while keeping my speed between 5.0 and 6.5.  My instructions were to find my most comfortable gait within that speed range, and maintain that pace for about five minutes.

 

When I picked up my pace from walking to running, my skeleton mini-me settled into my exact gait to entertain me during my run.

 

After I finished running, Eddo compared my functional test results to my gait analysis, and compiled a biomechanical report and assessment specific to me.  My report pinpoints areas of weakness and  inflexibility, and gives me suggestions on exercises that I can do to correct those problems, and hopefully, help protect me from injuries in the future.

My results were also put into a large database along with those collected from 18 other biomedical research labs around the world, allowing for comparisons of test subjects to others of the same gender, age, etc.

GMUSmartLabEddoDebReviewingResults
On Wednesday, I will share a little bit of my findings, and what recommendations were made to help me make the most out of my running, and help me meet my goal of running forever.  Please be sure to stop back by to see what adjustments I’ll need to make in my workouts, because you know I’ll be talking about them in my weekly recaps.

I am very grateful to the GMU SMART Lab for offering to let me participate in the 3-D Gait Analysis, and would like to thank the staff for such an interesting and informative experience.  I would highly recommend this analysis to anyone wanting to improve their running performance.

AND, saving the best for last…  I am extremely happy to announce that the SMART Lab is giving two gait analyses to me to give to my readers!  That’s right, two of my lucky readers will win an opportunity to visit the lab, perform the exercises, and receive a complete assessment!

 

Rules to enter the SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day between now and Friday, October 24 at midnight.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Please enter only if you live in the DC Metro area, or would be available to visit the GMU SMART Lab in Manassas, VA.
  3. Two winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Friday, October 24, and announced by Sunday, October 26.
  4. Once the winners are announced, they will have until Tuesday, October 28 to verify that they will register for their analysis.  If either winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win a GMU SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis,
please use the Rafflecopter app below.

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Disclosure:  I was given the opportunity to participate in the 3-D Gait Analysis at no cost to me ($200 value).  All opinions expressed are my own.

 

  • Questions:
  • What would you hope to gain most from your SMART Lab 3-D Gait Analysis should you be one of the two lucky winners?
  • What sort of fitness testing, if any, have you had done?
  • Who raced over the weekend?

Life Between Training Cycles (October 13 to 19)

I’m caught in lala land, and I kind of like it!  Last Sunday, Bill and I ran the Hokie Half Marathon, and with that, I finished my summer/fall training cycle.  I will probably keep my running to a steady base of three relatively easy runs and one long run per week, until the end of February when I ramp my training back up again as I prepare for the Zooma Half Marathon in Annapolis in May.

Before I talk about my workouts from this past week, I want to mention tomorrow’s post.  I will be recapping my experience with my 3-D Gait Analysis at the George Mason University SMART Lab.  I will also be giving away two gait analyses to two lucky readers, so be sure to stop back by to read about what an interesting and informative experience it was, and to enter the contest.

Monday
I started back in with the weights on Monday, and lifted for about an hour.  I hadn’t been able to lift for about six weeks because of skin cancer surgery to both arms, and I’d given my legs the last two weeks off as I tapered for the Hokie Half.  It felt so good to be lifting again!  Of course, I also continued with my October plank challenge that I started on the 1st.

Tuesday
I woke up Tuesday feeling the low grade ache of a cold or the flu coming on, and I was completely bummed.  By mid-afternoon, I realized that I wasn’t getting sick, but my entire body was experiencing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  As the day progressed the soreness increased until it was obvious that my muscles were complaining bitterly about Monday’s workout.

Later in the day, I headed outside for a 4-mile walk at a 16:44 pace.  I’d trained so hard for my half marathon, and hadn’t given myself time off after the Leesburg 20K or Ragnar DC, so it seemed like a really good idea to replace my runs with walks for a couple of days, and give my body some much needed rest.

LeavesOnTrailEarlyFall
Wednesday
I got right back in the weight room on Wednesday to work the soreness out of my body.  Lunges are not easy when your legs are calling you names, but I knew that in the long run, it would help me feel better.  I’ve never been one to succumb to the peer pressure of my legs anyway!

Thursday
One of my clients and I ran/walked 2.75 miles at 14:28 pace early Thursday morning.  We finished at 2.71 miles, and I taught her that “real” runners can’t stop on such an odd number, and that it was imperative that we walk .04 more miles to make it a nice and tidy number.  She can thank me later when she’s lying on a therapist’s couch.  Oh wait, she is a therapist…  Perhaps we should trade services!

Friday
I kept it pretty low keyed on Friday and walked 4 miles at 16:20 pace, and saw this little guy while I was out.  I skipped lifting weights, promising myself that I would lift over the weekend.

SquirellLeaves
Saturday
I met my MRTT buddies early Saturday morning and ran 8.5 miles at a 9:50 pace with them before sending some of them on their way to run a total of 24 miles!  I miss those days of running 24 miles on a training run, and coming home so utterly and completely exhausted, yet exhilarated beyond words.

SaturdayMorningRunningShoes
Sunday
First thing Sunday morning I met my BRF for an easy-peasy conversation paced run of 5.5 miles at a 10:29 pace.  We hadn’t had a chance to run together for a couple of months and it was sooooo good to see her!

FallSunnyDayTrail
Since I hadn’t gotten around to weight training over the weekend, I lifted after getting home from my run.  I kept it pretty easy, but made sure to get those lunges in so I wouldn’t experience that same kind of glute soreness again this coming week!

All-in-all it was a great week!

 

Total weekly workouts:
Running – 14 miles
Run/walk – 2.75 miles
Walking – 8 miles
Lifting – 3 hours
Planks – 12 (longest 3:00)

 

  • Questions:
  • What was your favorite workout this past week?
  • What non-workout fun things did you do over the weekend?
  • Who raced yesterday or today?

Five Favorite Fitness Tunes

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

FridayFiveFavoriteTunes
This week’s theme is Favorite Fitness Tunes…  I smiled when I saw today’s prompt, because I knew I’d need help with this one, and I knew just where to go.

I love music, but never seem to know the name or artist of my new favorite song.  That’s because I’m spoiled…  My son Daniel makes CD’s for me of songs he thinks I’d like, and his mixes are always perfect.

Yesterday morning I sent Daniel an email begging for help, and by lunchtime he had sent nine suggestions (complete with YouTube links) from songs on recent CD’s he’d made for me.  What a guy!

I present Daniel and Deb’s favorite workout songs:

 

1. Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

 

2. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

 

3. Gold On The Ceiling by The Black Keys

 

4. Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men

 

5. Dead and Gone by The Black Keys

 

Bonus: Can’t Stop by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

 

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you listen to music when you workout?
  • What type of music do you enjoy?
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

2014 Hokie Half Marathon Race Recap

After a summer of very serious training, our big day finally arrived, and the 2nd Annual Hokie Half Marathon was upon us!

Soon after getting up, I drank two large glasses of water, ate a banana, 1/4 of a bagel with a very thin layer of peanut butter, and a few homemade sweet potato fries.  Being properly fueled and hydrated, I was ready to tackle my next task… determining how to dress.

I debated about what to wear, but after seeing WeatherBug’s hourly forecast for low 50’s and only a 40% chance of rain at 9 AM, I decided on shorts and a tank.  As an afterthought, I grabbed my Brooks shell to wear, thinking I could tie it around my waist and put it on if it started raining and I got cold.

2014HokieHalfDebPreRaceHotel
Of course being the weather geek that I am, I had been stalking the weather for days, and didn’t believe the sudden change in the forecast…  It went from an 80% chance of rain all morning long, to practically no rain, yet Doppler radar looked like this at 7 AM, just 30 minutes prior to the race (Blacksburg is the red pin on the right).

2014HokieHalfWeatherMap
Bill and I arrived at the race start at the Virginia Tech Corporate Center and found a great parking place right next to the porta potties around 6:30 AM; however, on the way over (about half way there), we had to go back to the hotel to pick up Bill’s race bib.  Fortunately, he remembered that he had left it laying in his race backpack on the bed and we were able to retrieve it with little interruption.  Even with that little stumble, we still had plenty of time to chill, hit the line-less porta potties, and get organized before the race.

As we sat in our car, it started raining.  We put on our Hefty bag ponchos before braving the elements to meet my fellow MRTT runner friends.  I was supposed to meet the girls at 7:15, but didn’t leave my dry car until just after 7:10.  We decided to use the porta potties one last time before the race, and it was 7:23 by the time I got to our meeting place.  Needless to say, I’d missed them (sorry Jessica and Tara), but I couldn’t have gotten a picture anyway, because I didn’t dare take my iPhone out of it’s snug and dry Ziploc bag.

The weather at this year’s race couldn’t have been more different than last year, so I didn’t take any pictures along the course.  Just before the race started, Bill remembered that he’d left his bib in the car and had to run back and get it.  We were in wave one, so it was no big deal, especially since the car was nearby.  I was up near the front of the first wave, and he later told me that he was able to start near the back of the first wave.

Just before the race started I had a fellow runner take a picture of me with my iPhone without taking it out of the Ziploc bag.  As you can barely see, I’m still wearing my Hefty bag.  At the conclusion of the National Anthem, Enter Sandman blared on the loud speakers, we all started jumping, and the starting gun fired.  I ripped off my Hefty bag, started my RunKeeper, and we were off!

2014HokieHalfDebInPlasticBag
At this point it was raining lightly, and I had my jacket and gloves on.  At the end of the first mile, my legs felt like lead, but I’d started faster than planned (8:39 vs. 9:15) so I wasn’t too concerned.  I popped a Honey Stinger in my mouth, and set up a plan to eat one at each mile, and changed my race strategy from running reverse splits to running even paces.

The farther we ran, the harder it rained.  I unzipped my jacket to cool down a little, and that created the perfect temperature for me.  My arms were covered and warm, but my core was exposed and could stay cool.

For the most part I ran alone, yet in a pack of the same runners for miles.  We rarely spoke except to occasionally thank a volunteer or spectator for being out on such a rainy day.  I couldn’t enjoy the beauty of one of my favorite trails, the Huckleberry Trail, because I had my visor pulled low to keep the rain out of my eyes.

I continued to take a Honey Stinger at every mile, and I stopped and walked through every water stop while drinking a full cup of water.

At one point I got a good chuckle when I ran right through a water puddle that covered my shoes.  By this point my clothes and shoes were saturated, so… why not?  My body temperature stayed very comfortable until about mile 10 when my feet started getting slightly cold.  It wasn’t enough to really bother me, but I noticed it.

Around mile 11, my right leg (sciatic nerve pain) started rearing its ugly head, and I forgot all about my chilly feet.  I ran tall, engaged my core even more, and pushed through, knowing that as soon as I finished the race, my leg would quit hurting.

The rain lightened up as I passed mile 12, and I took my jacket off and tied it around my waist.  With the rain stopping, I was happy that I’d be able to take my phone out of the bag and take pictures after the race.

I was thrilled as I crested the last hill of a very hilly course, and remembered the downhill finish from last year.  As I ran hard down toward the chute, I heard Barry cheering me in!

My race splits were pretty even and my slowest mile was Mile 13 at 9:17, with a pretty nasty climb for the last half-mile. I finished the last .1 mile at a 7:48 pace.  Note:  I can’t capture a screen shot of all 14 miles, so this is the best I can do.  This is another reason I’m asking for a Garmin for my birthday!

2014HokieHalfMileSplits
As you can see, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of elevation change during the race, but the constant up and down was quite tiring.

2014HokieHalfElevationChart
As soon as I crossed the finish line I was handed a bottle of water and directed to pick up my finisher’s shirt.  We were allowed to try on shirts to make sure we got one that fit.  Believe me, that wasn’t an easy task to do since we were soaking wet!

Just as I picked out the right size, I turned around and there was Bill heading toward me.  He had finished right behind me!  I saw that he had a finishers medal and magnet in his hand, and I realized that I hadn’t gotten mine.  Because of the rain, the medals were still in their little plastic bags, and they weren’t being placed around our necks as we finished per usual.

Suddenly the rain started pouring down again, and Bill and I found shelter under a canopy.  We stood there a while, in the saturated sod, and I dared to take my iPhone out of the bag to take a few pictures while standing under the protective canopy.

2014HokieHalfFinishFromTent

Bill took a quick picture of me proudly holding my medal even thought it was still wrapped up tightly.

HokieHalfDebFinisher
I returned the favor and took a picture of Bill in his new finisher’s shirt.

2014HokieHalfBillTent
Eventually I left my dry space and ran over to the black timing tent near the finish line and asked what time the awards ceremony would be held.  They told me that it had been canceled, but they could tell me my official time.  I finished in 1:55:26 (8:48 pace) and was thrilled with my time on what I considered a pretty hilly course.  As of the time of writing this, age group places have not been posted on the race’s website, but by looking at the preliminary results, I can calculate where I finished.  I am not posting anything though, until I SEE IT IN WRITING!  I’m not going to make the same mistake twice!  ;-)  Note:  Age group results are now up, and I finished second in my age group!

2014HokieHalfFinishLine

On our way to the food tent, we found Meagan and Barry and got in line with them.  Meagan had her waterproof camera with her (mine was safely back in its Ziploc bag), and we had the lady in line behind us take our pictures.  I think the water on the lens is perfect, and sums up our race!

HokieHalfGroupPostRace

Photo courtesy of Meagan

HokieHalfMeganDebPostRace

Photo courtesy of Meagan

As soon as we got our warm chili, we said our goodbyes to Meagan and Barry, and headed back to our car.  My biggest concern was to avoid spilling chili on my brand new white shirt as I shivered, and my hands shook.  Not to worry… when we got to the car, I leaned over to move Bill’s jackets out of the back seat of the car, forgetting that I had chili in my hand, and I promptly dumped chili on his jackets (sorry Babe).

Once back at the hotel, I stripped out of my soggy wet clothes, showered, and got into dry cloths.  It took a while for my pruney hands to return to normal!

2014HokieHalfWetClothes

As we were leaving The Inn, we saw Meredith and her husband and friends.  Meredith hired me last year after finding me through my blog and realizing that we lived in the same town.  Of course it didn’t hurt that I was a fellow Hokie!  One of her goals was to become a runner.  She started last year with a 5K, and now she’s a half marathoner!  She told me that as soon as she crossed the finish line on Sunday, she said, “I want to do this again.”  Stories like that make my day, and that’s exactly why I’m smiling so big in this picture!

2014HokieHalfMeredithAndDeb

The swag for the Hokie Half was pretty incredible.  In addition to the race shirt and backpack given to us at the expo, we received a finisher’s shirt, medal, and car magnet.

2014HokieHalfSwag

Bill and I had a great weekend, and really enjoyed running the race both last year and this year.  If we lived closer to Blacksburg, I know that we would run the Hokie Half every year!

 

  • Questions:
  • Have you ever run a race in the pouring rain?
  • What is the best swag you’ve gotten at a race?
  • Who raced this past weekend?

2014 Hokie Half Marathon Expo

Upon arriving in Blacksburg Friday evening and checking into The Inn at Virginia Tech, the host location for the 2nd Annual Hokie Half Marathon & 5K Race Expo, Bill and I were greeted warmly by the staff who immediately asked us if we were there for the race.  They reminded us that the expo would be the following day in the adjoining Holtzman Alumni Center.

Easels in the lobby displayed the following two posters, and added to the excitement of the race weekend ahead.

2014HokieHalfExpoAthletesVillageMap
I studied the course map and tried to figure out how the course change would affect my performance.  Construction near the New River Valley Mall meant that a flat section of last year’s course needed to be removed.  That extra mile or so was made up in Blacksburg in a hilly section of town.  Even though I know Blacksburg so well, it wasn’t until I was on the course that I had a true sense of the impact of the course change.

2014HokieHalfCourseMap
At noon on Saturday, Bill and I headed to the Holtzman Alumni Center by walking through The Inn, and had to dodge lots of cute little bug enthusiasts along the way.  A huge Hokie Bugfest was underway, and the building was swarming with children and their parents.

2014HokieHalfHokieBugfest

Eventually, we made our way to packet pick-up, and quickly grabbed our bibs and backpacks, and were directed onward for the rest of the expo.

2014HokieHalfExpoBibPickUp

Once in the the lecture hall, we picked up our shirts and had our bibs scanned to confirm that they were correct.

2014HokieHalfExpoShirts

Bill and I both love our technical shirts, and I especially love that they had ladies cut v-necks available.  The shirts are burnt orange, and gives us another orange shirt to wear to Orange Effect football games!

2014HokieHalfExpoDebBill

The race shirt has an image of runners running in front of the War Memorial Pylons, and the bib has the same image with little turkey tracks all across it.

2014HokieHalfShirtAndBib
We stopped at the Quest Nutrition Bar booth and talked to their sales rep for quite a while – anyone offering free nutrition bars will get my attention!  During the conversation, I learned just enough from this delightful young lady to ask her if she might just happen to be Caitlin’s sister, a fellow Hokie runner/blogger over at Tuff Mother.  Indeed, Erin is Caitlin’s sister, and we got a good laugh over what a small world it is!

HokieHalfQuestBarRep

Both Blacksburg Physical Therapy Associates and Dowell Chiropractic had booths set up offering information to runners.

2014HokieHalfExpoChiropractor

We also looked through the merchandise that RunAbout Sports, one for the sponsors of the race, had for sale.  We had just stopped by their store two weeks ago when we were in town for a game, and didn’t see anything new that we needed, so we made our way out of the expo.

2014HokieHalfExpoClothingSale

Upon leaving the expo, we realized that if we had just walked around the outside of the building, and gone in the back doors, we could have found our way to expo without having to fight all of the little bugs flitting around!

2014HokieHalfPacketPickUp

We left the expo to walk downtown for lunch at Greek’s Cellar, one of our favorite pizza places when were at Tech.

GreeksCellar

Two slices of pizza and half of the spinach salad was a perfect pre-race lunch!

GreeksCellarPizzaSalad
After walking around campus a bit we headed back to our hotel just in time to see Meagan and Barry as they arrived at the expo.  They had Scout (left) and Hank with them, and I had the pleasure of meeting these two sweeties.

2014HokieHalfScoutAndHank

After relaxing for a while in our hotel room, we ordered carryout at Zeppoli’s Italian Restaurant.  While out picking up dinner, we stopped by Kroger’s for bananas for breakfast, and chocolate milk for after the race.

I gobbled up my Caesar salad before I thought to take a picture, but did manage to remember to get a picture of my spaghetti and meatballs.  After eating just a little bit of pasta, I started dipping my homemade sweet potato fries in the marinara sauce.  Not bad!

ZeppoliSpaghettiAndMeatballs
After dinner, we watched a little college football on TV, and got to bed early in hopes of a good night’s sleep before our 4:45 alarm.  Our race was only hours away!

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you usually attend race expos or cut through them quickly to get your bib and shirt?
  • If you eat them, what’s your favorite nutrition bar?
  • Who raced this weekend?

 

And That’s A Wrap (October 6 – 12)

All of my training this summer was focused toward this past weekend.  I was concerned that I had peaked too early because my Leesburg 20K and Ragnar DC both went very well, and then my body just started rebelling.  I wondered if I had over-trained (or run those two races too hard), because it was one little tweak after another.  I took time off as needed, and I was afraid that I would pay for it at the Hokie Half Marathon, my focal race of the fall.

Monday
Monday should more or less be considered a rest day.  I ran/walked 1.75 miles with a client at a 14:38 pace.  Later in the day I walked 1 mile (15:18 pace) on a treadmill while my client warmed up.

Tuesday
Many of our MRTT ladies were racing this past weekend, so we skipped our hill workout and ran 5.5 miles at an easy conversation pace of 9:29.

DarkRunShoeDaisy

Wednesday
I had the opportunity to participate in a 3-D Gait Analysis at George Mason University’s Smart Lab on Wednesday.  It was a very cool experience.  I’ll be dedicating a full recap to it later in the week, and will be giving away two 3-D Gait Analysis sessions to two local readers.  Please stay tuned!

GMUFreedomFitnessCenter

Thursday
I woke up to texts from two of my running friends saying they were sick on Thursday morning, so there were only two of us running.  We met at 5:30 AM for 5 miles (9:09 average pace), and for the first time, I had an uneasy feeling during our run.  We always see lots of runners and bikers, but there are times that no one else is around.  As we crossed a small road on a pretty secluded part of the trail three men came walking perpendicularly toward us from the road.  We could smell cigarette smoke, so we knew that they weren’t out for their morning workout.  We continued on with our run, and Kelley mentioned that she had her pepper spray (I didn’t have mine).  We turned around, and as we approached the area of the trail where we had seen the men, we saw them walking along the trail individually, and because we were wearing our headlamps and running straight toward them, we could see that they were highway workers wearing hardhats and reflective vests; and one of them was carrying a coffee cup.  They replied to our, “Good mornings,” and one of them said that he wished he had as much energy as we did.

When we got back to the parking lot, I snapped a quick selfie of our skeleton reflective vests.  When it’s completely dark at the end of our run, there are not many photo options.

ReflectiveVestSelfie

Friday
Bill and drove to Blacksburg on Friday afternoon, and rested for the race.

Saturday
We had the curtains drawn tightly in our hotel room, and our room was almost totally dark come sunrise.  We slept well past sunrise and got a total of ten hours of sleep!  We had considered going for a short hike, but with the recent rains we were afraid the trails would be muddy and slippery, and didn’t want to risk falling and hurting ourselves the day before our race.

Instead, we walked about two miles around campus on our way to Greek’s Cellar, one of our favorite pizza places when were at Tech.

GreeksCellar

The pizza was as good as we remembered, but we ordered too big of a pie and threw almost half of it away.  It was a perfect lunch!  I’m not sure if I’ve ever had pizza the day before a race, but two slices and some salad seemed perfect!

GreeksCellarPizzaSalad
It’s a good thing we got plenty of sleep on Friday night, because I slept poorly on Saturday night, and my 4:45 AM alarm went off way too soon!

Sunday
Finally, race morning was here!  It rained during the entire Hokie Half Marathon and I finished in 1:55:26 (8:48 pace).  Right after the race, I dodged raindrops to stop by the time-keeping tent to ask when the awards ceremony would be.  I was told that it had been canceled, but they could give me my official time, but not place.  Either I misunderstood, or was told the wrong time, and thought I’d PR’d.  Instead, I missed PR’ing by 52 seconds.  Still, I met my goal of running a sub 2-hour half on a hilly course, and cut 11 minutes off of last year’s Hokie Half!  Lesson learned, don’t post anything until you see it in writing!  Of course, I’ll be writing a complete recap in the next day or two, and hopefully, age group results will be posted by then.

HokieHalfFitSnapWithCorrections
I’m thrilled that my training went so well this summer and my big race of the year is behind me.  I still have two races ahead of me in 2014, but they’re both for fun, so there’s no pressure on either of them.

 

Total weekly workouts:
Running – 23.6 miles
Run/walk – 1.75 miles
Walking – 3 miles
Lifting – 0 hours
Planks – 12 (longest 2:35)

 

 

  • Questions:
  • What’s your favorite race distance?
  • Where’s your favorite running trail?
  • Who raced this weekend?

Lessons I Learned as a Young Hokie…

It’s no secret that I’m a Hokie fan through and through, and I’m very proud of my alma mater.  So much in fact, that this spring I wrote What It’s Really Like To Be A Hokie.  So on the eve of the Hokie Half Marathon, I’ll shared my lessons learned at Virginia Tech.

LessonsLearnedAsAHokie
 

Lessons I learned as a young Hokie…..

There are a lot of very smart people in this world, and I have to work very hard to make A’s and B’s

There’s no place that seems colder on earth, than walking across the Drill Field in January

The War Memorial Gym isn’t such a bad home-away-from-home

Popcorn makes a great late night snack

The world is a much larger place than the tiny community where I grew up

To live my life with the motto Ut Prosim – that I may serve

Even if we lose the game, start looking forward to next week’s game immediately

 

Lesson I learned as an older Hokie… 

There’s nothing like the feeling of pulling onto campus on game day

Hokie Nation rocks!

It is absolutely impossible to listen to Metallica’s Enter Sandman without jumping

There’s nothing like being married to your college sweetheart, and having that whole Hokie thing in common

Some of my best friends for life were made while I was a student

You are a member of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association for life

If you don’t answer the phone when the Virginia Tech Alumni Association makes their annual campaign call, they will continue to call you until you make a donation

You will continue dreaming about a national championship for a very long time

The education I received looks good on my resume, but the lessons I learned while a student have lasted a lifetime

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you have a place where you don’t live, but love to visit?
  • What lessons did you learn in college?
  • When was the last time you were able to visit your alma mater?

Favorite Fuels For Running And Fitness

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

FridayFiveFavoriteFuels
This week’s theme is Favorite Fuels For Running And Fitness, and I’m happy to share what works best for me.

1.  Sweet potato fries – My friend Mary told me that she eats sweet potato fries the night before her races, so I decided to try it as well.  The first time I tried them was the night before the Fit Foodie 5K, and I’ve had them before every race since them.  I even packed a bag of sweet potato fries to eat cold about two hours before each of my legs at Ragnar DC.

In case you’re interested, here’s my recipe:

  • Roasted Sweet Potato Fries
  • Wash and cut sweet potatoes into steak fry size pieces, leaving skin on
  • Toss in a small amount of olive oil
  • Sprinkle with thyme, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • Place in single layer on a cookie sheet
  • Roast at 450° for about 25 minutes

SweetPotatoFries

2.  Bananas – I have a banana before I leave my house for most long runs.  I usually eat it about 30 minutes before I head out the door to run, and even though it would be better to eat it about an hour earlier, my stomach seems to do okay.

TKOMelanoma5KBananas

3. Toasted bagel with peanut butter – I love eating half of a toasted bagel with a very thin layer of peanut butter or almond butter on it about two hours before my races.  In addition to the bagel, I eat half of a banana on race mornings.

BagelAndPeanutButter

4.  Honey Stingers – My friend Amanda let me try her Honey Stingers on a long run one day a couple of years ago.  I loved the way they tasted, and my stomach did well with them, so they’ve been my fuel of choice for eating during training runs and races ever since.  I like that I can take them one at a time, rather than all at once so my stomach doesn’t rebel.

HoneyStingersWaterFountain

5.  GU – For years, I used GU as my fuel of choice on the long run.  The taste of it made me happy because I associated it only with long runs and races.  The only problem with a gel fuel for me is that I can’t stand getting anything sticky on my fingers or in my pocket, so I’d eat it all at once and throw the packet away, rather than taking a little bit at a time.  Unfortunately, taking so much at once would sometimes upset my stomach.

GU

Of course in addition to fuel, I drink plenty of water to hydrate all week long, just prior to my run, and throughout my run or race.

 

  • Questions:
  • What are your favorite fitness fuels?
  • What vegetables are your favorite to roast?
  • Who’s racing this weekend? ~ I am, I am!

Reasons I Love Running Before The Sun Rises

I’m a self-declared morning person.  I’m the type that is wide awake the second my feet hit the floor in the mornings; although, I have been known to hit snooze a time or two before those feet actually hit the floor.

430AlarmClock
Back in the spring my MRTT friends and I started meeting at 6:00 AM on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for a small group run.  Several times we had to move our runs to 5:15 or 5:30 to accommodate someones schedule; and recently 5:30 has been more the norm for our starting time.  Surprisingly, these awesome moms seem to think, “The earlier, the better.”  And so do I… within reason.

I would rather run super early with my friends, than run alone later, and that leads me to my list of why I love early morning running!

 

Reasons I LOVE running super early before the sun rises:

  • I start my day early
  • I have quiet time at home before anyone else is up
  • I know that I will get my run completed without putting it off
  • I almost always have friends to run with
  • I get to use my reflective gear and lights I purchased for Ragnar
  • I love bringing up the sun
  • I enjoy the quiet and tranquility along the trail
  • I feel accomplished driving back into my neighborhood after a incredible workout as my neighbors are just getting up

Reasons I don’t LIKE running super early before the sun rises:

  • You never know what is lurking in the shadows along the trail.
  • Sometimes I don’t get to bed early enough the night before, and I’m exhausted all day
  • Post-run selfies are harder to take!  :-)

 

So you can see, my reasons for loving running early far outweigh my reasons for not!

 

  • Questions:
  • Are you an early riser?
  • Do you enjoy running in the dark?
  • Random question:  When is your birthday? ~ Mine is next month!

Starring In My First Video (September 29 – October 5)

I feel like my first paragraph should read “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah….”  My training runs have been so-so, at best, since Ragnar.  Adequate, but not exciting; and certainly nothing compared to this summer.

Training this summer was going phenomenally well until the Thursday after the Leesburg 20K in mid-August, when I got my first of several little injuries.  I’m using the word injury loosely, because other than my left foot, everything else has been more of an aggravation than an injury.  Yet they happened, and my training hasn’t been the same since.

  • Could it be that I’m being overly cautious, and a younger Deb would have brushed those twinges off without a second thought?
  • Could I be that I’m suffering from training burnout a few weeks before I had hoped to peak for my big race of the season?
  • Could it be that I’m taking my tapering too seriously, and started too early? (I kid)
  • Could I just be lazy?
  • Could it be nothing, and I’m over-analyzing?

Whatever the case, I can’t wait to get this race behind me, so I can chill as I simply enjoy the last two months of the year, and run for the simple sake of loving to run.  Yes, I have two more races, but they are both going to be approached as fun runs, and I’ll run them depending on how I feel the morning of the race.

Soooo, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, here’s my training recap from last week…

Monday
On Monday I arrived at the wellness center early to get a little workout in before my client arrived.  It wasn’t a hard workout, but I felt like doing something besides running, so I did!  My plan is to get back into serious lifting again after my Hokie Half on Sunday.  My stitches are out, and both arms are healed, so I’m free to lift again; I just didn’t want to start up hard again just before my race.

Tuesday
My MRTT girlfriends and I met on Tuesday morning at 5:15 AM for hill repeats.  We ran a 3-mile warm-up and then hit the hills.  I ran a total of 14 repeats and ended up with 8 miles total at a 10:14 pace.  It was a bit slower than my summer hill repeat workouts, and I do feel that I’ve lost a little strength and speed since the summer.

Wednesday
Some of my MRTT friends started a Plank Challenge for October, and I decided to join in on the fun.  I started off easy and kept my first plank to 1:00, and held the second plank for 1:30.  My goal it to do two 3-minute planks on my last day.  We’ll see…

Thursday
We had five of our regulars meet on Thursday morning for a pretty steadily paced 6-mile run (9:07 average pace).  Until we switch back to Eastern Standard Time, our morning runs will be completely in the dark.  It’s good that I bought a reflective vest, Knuckle Lights, and a tail light for Ragnar DC.  I’ve been putting them to good use these last few weeks.

ThursdayMorningMRTTLegs

Friday
Other than doing two planks (2:00 each), Friday was a rest day.

Saturday
Saturday morning I had a fun 8-mile run at an average 9:06 pace with my MRTT friends.  I recapped our run on Saturday, so if you missed it, you can click back and read it.

SaturdayRunCollage

Before we left the trail, we decided that beautiful shoes call for a shoe selfie!

SaturdayPostRunShoeSelfie

Sunday
Bill and I headed out for a walk on Sunday afternoon that turned into a video making project for Bill.  He shot a few different clips of me running, and put them together with music from Of Monsters and Men.  Here’s his finished product!

 

So what do you think of our short little video?

 

Total weekly workouts:
Running – 22 miles
Run/walk – 0 miles
Walking – 0 miles
Lifting – 1 hour
Planks – 8 (longest 2:00)

 

  • Questions:
  • What is the earliest you’ve gone out on a training run? ~ Bill and I ran at 4:30 AM before his brother’s wedding a few years ago.
  • Have you ever done a plank, squat, push-up, etc. challenge?
  • Who raced this weekend?

A Group Run, Fat Bastard, And Katy Perry

Pre-run photos are getting harder to take now that it’s staying dark later in the mornings, especially since our MRTT running group starts at zero dark thirty most mornings.  Since we run so many different distances on Saturday mornings, taking a large group picture at the end of our run in out of the question.  We were able to get this picture using an iPhone flashlight and iPhone camera flash.  Not bad for large group shot, but we’re missing the photographer and her flashlight-holding assistant.

MRTTGroupDark

Once on the trail, we eased into groups based on our individual paces, and I ran with this lovely group of ladies.  Two were brand new to our group, and we chatted as we ran along.  Conversations flowed from jobs, to children, to upcoming races.  When I said that I’d be running the Hokie Half Marathon next weekend, one of the girls asked if I’d gone to Virginia Tech.  When I said yes, she asked when I’d graduated.  Keep in mind that it was completely dark when we started running, and the sun had only started to rise after she stepped into stride behind me.  When I answered that I’d graduated in 1979 (probably before she was born), she was quite shocked.  I took that as the ultimate compliment!

MRTTSixMilersTurnaround

Several of us are running either the Army Ten-Miler or the Hokie Half next weekend, so we kept our run to eight miles.  After we turned around, we saw these fine ladies from the Vienna/Oakton chapter.  They were running 20-miles, and headed our way toward the more rural section of the W&OD Trail.

ViennaOaktonMRTTLadiesRunning

Today was the first day in four weeks that I was home on a Saturday morning, so immediately after my run, I rushed home to shower and watch ESPN GameDay.  Katie Perry was a guest on the panel and didn’t disappoint!  She chose her picks for Saturday Selections based on team uniform colors, which team had the cuter quarterback, and how much she liked the mascot (much like I do).  AND, she was the only one to correctly pick an Old Miss upset over Alabama.  I don’t think Lee Corso will ever be the same after hanging out with her this morning!

ESPNGameDayKatyPerry

This afternoon Bill and I watched our Hokies play.  I was so happy that it was an away game and we could relax in our basement and watch the game!  Fat Bastard sat right outside our basement window about three feet away, and begged to come inside and watch.  If we were the Virginia Tech Gophers (close enough to a groundhog), I would have let him in.

FatBastard

After the game, and while feeling quite domestic, I decided that we desperately needed homemade cupcakes for dessert tonight!  I obviously made the frosting too thin, and that my friends, is why I’ll stick with blogging about running, and not baking!

Cupcakes

 

  • Questions:
  • Are you a Katy Perry fan? ~ I love her goofy sense of humor!
  • What was the last thing you baked?
  • Who raced today or is racing tomorrow?

Five Fitness Inspirations

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

 

DumbbellsKettlebellsFridayFivePoster
 

This week’s theme is Fitness Inspirations…

1.  I am inspired by my clients that make a decision to put their health first, set goals, and then work hard to reach those goals.

2.  I am inspired by my many different running friends.  Some work hard to run a mile without taking a walk break, others train to run a faster 5K or train to run their first half marathon, and yet others bust their butts to qualify for Boston.

3.  I am inspired by leaders in the fitness industry that share their passion and expertise with other fitness professionals through books, videos, seminars, and conferences.

4.  I am inspired by elderly people who continue to exercise, even if their 7-minute mile from their youth is now a 20-minute mile while walking.

5.  I am inspired by people who reinvent themselves by hard work and perseverance.

 

  • Questions:
  • What are your fitness inspirations?
  • Do you have one person who has inspired you most?
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

Getting Back Into Training, Just In Time To Taper (September 22 – 28)

After giving myself a week to recover after running Ragnar DC, I eased back into running last week as I faced my last three weeks of training for the Hokie Half Marathon.

Monday
I took Monday off from all workouts.

Tuesday
I ran my first set of twelve hill repeats (excluding my Ragnar DC legs) in several weeks on Tuesday.  I met two of my MRTT friends for a total of 6.5 miles (9:52 pace).  We ran a two mile warm-up and then tackled most of those hills in the dark.

GlowingShoeLaces

I rushed home from my workout to meet one of my clients for a 3.15 run/walk.  We maintained a 14:20 pace with what seemed like a pretty decent running pace.  I’m starting to question the accuracy of my RunKeeper app on our twisty trail, because we seemed to be running faster and longer than usual, yet our pace was slower.  Perhaps I’m questioning the accuracy as I convince myself that I finally need to break down and buy a Garmin!

Wednesday
I gave myself Wednesday off from working out or running as well!

Thursday
I woke up to rain on Thursday morning at 4:30 AM, and after a quick text back and forth with my running friends, I went back to bed and slept for three more hours!  Since neither of them were planning to be out, I decided I didn’t want to run at 5:30 in the rain alone.  Later in the afternoon I ran six miles at a 9:51 pace.  My right hip felt tight the last half of the run, so I came home and rolled it.  In the process, I aggravated the left side of my lower back with the odd way I had to twist my torso to hold my body up as I targeted my tight hip with the roller.  Oy!

Friday
After planning to go on a long run on Friday morning, I skipped it after waking up repeatedly overnight with that darn sciatic nerve pain.  The morning was gorgeous as the sun tried to burn through the fog, and I longingly wished I had been able to bring up the sun while on a run.  Once up, and moving around the back pain subsided and lessened as the day went on.

BackYardFoggyMorningSun

Saturday
Bill and I debated on running Saturday morning, but since it was Virginia Tech’s homecoming, and we wanted to get our tailgate set up early for our 12:30 PM game, we decided to move our run to Sunday.  My back was feeling better, but I’m sure the extra day of letting it rest was a good thing.  So instead of running, I ate mass quantities of crappy, delicious food.

HappyHomecomingBanner

Sunday
Bill and I headed out for a six-mile run on the Huckleberry Trail on Sunday morning, and ended up running ten miles very strong!  We ran negative splits, and maintained an 8:52 average pace.  We came back to our hotel from that run so pumped, that we declared it the best part of our weekend!

  • Mile 1 – 9:35
  • Mile 2 – 9:26
  • Mile 3 – 8:42
  • Mile 4 – 9:00
  • Mile 5 – 9:10
  • Mile 6 – 8:54
  • Mile 7 – 8:38
  • Mile 8 – 8:21
  • Mile 9 – 8:33
  • Mile 10 – 8:28
HuckleberryTrailInFog

Huckleberry Trail – Blacksburg, VA

We started in Christiansburg and ran toward Blacksburg for five miles, and turned around for an out-and-back loop.  Five miles of our Hokie Half Marathon will be along that section of the trail, and it was great to run along it as a refresher leading up to the race.

HuckleberryTrailElevationChart

It felt good to get three solid runs in this week, but I wish I could have gotten at least one more.  The problem with heading to Blacksburg so often is that it interferes with Bill’s and my running…  Choosing between Virginia Tech football and running is a mighty hard choice!

 

Total weekly workouts:
Running – 22.5 miles
Run/walk – 3.15 miles
Walking – 2 miles
Lifting – 0 hours

 

  • Questions:
  • How many days do you take off from working out each week?
  • Where’s your favorite running trail?
  • Who raced this weekend?

National Capital 20 Miler Race Recap(s)

My first race of any distance was the DC Road Runners’ National Capital 20 Miler.  My marathon training was at the mercy of my friend Miles, and he suggested that running a 20-mile race a month before the Marine Corps Marathon would be a great way for me to gauge how prepared I was for the big day.  As always, Miles was right.

Over the years, I’d run in several road races, but none farther than five miles.  I had no idea how my body would respond to long mileage under race conditions.  The National Capital 20 Miler gave me an opportunity to practice fueling and hydrating while on the run.  Plus, Miles promised there would be pizza at the end of the race.

I ran that first of several National Capital 20 Milers in 1997.  Bill’s parents lived near the start, so Daniel and I drove over the night before to spend the night with them.  Daniel was only seven years old at the time, and was excited to tag along so he could get some one-on-one time with his grandparents.  Little did he know that Grandma had a fun surprise in store for him!

I got up early the next morning, and in true dress-rehearsal form, had my bagel and banana before heading off to meet Miles and our other running buddies at Jones Point Park underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  We picked up our race packets, put our long-sleeved cotton shirts in our cars, pinned on our race bibs, and got ready to run.

NatCapBib1997

Soon we would be running out of the park and down a beautiful twisty-turny, and at times hilly, path that ran to Mount Vernon between the Potomac River and the George Washington Parkway.  Once at Mount Vernon, we turned around and headed back.  The out-and-back course allowed for an opportunity to see and cheer on fellow runners, but made the path quite crowded at times.

Miles and I ran the whole race together, and early in the race we caught up with a super tall guy.  I remember him so well because I actually had to look straight up to see his face when we passed him.  Several minutes later we heard a loud thud behind us, and when we looked around, we saw the tall guy lying on the pavement.  He had tripped on the curb as we crossed a side street.  It was the first of many race casualties I would see over the years.

Miles and I stopped for water, and just after we started back up, we saw Daniel and Bill’s mom collecting water cups into large garbage bags.  Daniel’s surprise from his grandma was that she took him to the race to watch me run, while volunteering!  After quick hugs and kisses with my little buddy, Miles and I took off to finish our race.

Just before the finish line, a photographer caught me on a downward stride.  Seriously, what does it take to get photographed in a longer race looking like you’re running fast?  I was running hard to the finish line when this picture was taken, and probably running about a 7:45 pace.  Notice that I hadn’t learned to put my hair in a ponytail yet!  How on earth did I run with it flopping around like that?  And what is that ridiculous expression on my face?  Is it the look of determination, or a grimace?

NatCap20MilerDeb1997

1997

I finished that race in 1997 in 2:46:14 (8:18 pace), and guess what?  The thought of eating pizza made me sick.  Sorry, Miles!

In 1999 I encouraged my runners in the Worldgate Sport & Health Marathon Training Program (where I was the coach) to enter the National Capital 20-Miler.  It had been a great race for gauging my training, and I wanted my runners to experience a longer race before their marathon as well. Miles joined us, and ran the first of many races and training runs with my team.  Miles and I finished together in 2:57:59 (8:53 pace).

NatCapShirt99

1999 shirt

My Worldgate Sport & Health team and I returned in 2000 to run the race.  I ran a 2:55:33 (8:46 pace).

NatCapShirt2000

2000 shirt

In 2001, the National Capital 20-Miler was held just twelve days after our country was attacked, and a plane was flown into the Pentagon, just a few miles away from the start of the race.  The shirt had a picture of the Pentagon on the front of it with the words, “Proud to be running in America.” over the image.

NatCapShirt2001

2001 shirt

In 2001, I took my camera with me, and had someone take a picture of our Worldgate team before the race.  We had a lot of fun, and I finished in 2:57:32 (8:52 pace).

2001NationalCapital20Miler

2001

2002 was the final year that I ran the National Capital 20 Miler.  Again my Worldgate team joined me, as did Miles and his MilesRun team.

NatCapBib2002

One of the great things I loved about the race was that they had packet pick-up available on race morning.  Since it was a relatively small race (about 600-700 runners), it was always very easy to park near by, pick up our packets, store our things in our car, and make it back to the race starting line in a timely fashion.

NatCap20MilerBillBib

2002

Before the race, our team gathered in the parking lot for a quick team picture.  We then set out to look for Miles and the rest of our Maryland friends.

NatCap20MilerWGTeam02

2002

Miles and I ran the race together, and finished with a lap around the track.  It was a hot and very humid day, and at some point Miles shed his shirt.  We finished with our arms held high, and with a time of 3:11:21 (9:34 pace).

NatCap20MilerDebMiles02

2002

After the race, we got together for a quick picture before we headed our separate ways.  This picture was later used by Worldgate Sport & Health to advertise my marathon training program.  They made it into a large poster, and after we no longer needed it at the gym, I gave it to Miles, along with the story about how several women at the gym had asked me who the guy without the shirt on in the back row was!

2002NationalCapital20MilerGroup

2002

It’s been over ten years since I’ve run this race, but at the time it was a race that I recommended to my friends.  DCRRCA puts on great events, so I can only imagine that the race has gotten better over the years.

 

  • Questions:
  • Have you ever run a DCRRCA race?
  • Do you like pizza after a race?
  • Who raced this weekend?

My Favorite Fall Activities

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run! This week’s theme is Five Favorite Fall Activities

FridayFiveLinkUpLeaves
 

During the fall, I pretty much enjoy doing anything that takes me outside in the cool, crisp, autumn air!  In keeping with the Friday Five theme, here are my five favorites…

1.  Bill and I love trail running in the fall.  Last fall, we made our first accent to Molly’s Knob at Hungry Mother State Park, and hope to return again sometime this fall for a repeat, and perhaps find some other new to us trails along the way.

MollysKnobDebDecending
2.  It’s no secret that Bill and I love our Hokies, and enjoy going to most of their home games!  Going to Lane Stadium for a Virginia Tech football game, and tailgating with our friends before and after the game is one of our favorite fall activities.

DebBillLaneStadium
3.  Every fall, I clean my flower gardens, cutting back my plants that didn’t make it the recent frost, and making my gardens tidy for the winter. Once I get started gardening, I get lost in my work, and usually spend much more time than I realize.  Gardening in my suburban lot is a way for me to get back to my farm-girl roots!

GadeningGloves
4.  I enjoy decorating our house for fall almost as much as I do for Christmas!  By the end of September, I have my fall foliage up and a few Halloween pieces scattered around.  Come November, we are on turkey, Pilgrim, and Indian overload!

FallFrontDoor
5.  My mom and I enjoy giving trays of cookies as Christmas gifts, and when I was little we made one batch of cookies each Saturday in October and November, and froze them until Christmas.  After I moved away, we started a tradition of having a cookie baking weekend so I could help Mom make her cookies.  It’s one of my mom’s and my favorite fall activities.

ChristmasCookies

 

  • Questions:
  • What are your favorite fall activities?
  • Do you enjoy baking?
  • Who’s racing this weekend?