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A Mulligan

A little over two years ago, I began this blog to share my experience training for my first marathon.  Between work, training and other activities I tend to overschedule my time with, I haven’t kept it current.  I truly admire the people who open their lives to readers worldwide monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly for some bloggers.  So why am I suddenly writing a new post today?  And will I write new posts more consistently?  I don’t think there’s an answer for either, but with today’s post, I also introduce a new title and tagline for the blog.  As a slower runner, I know I’ll never win a race, but when I can say I’ve finished 3 full marathons and 9 half marathons to date, that’s not too shabby.  So I’m using a mulligan and starting fresh.  I’ll be posting new photos and updating the other pages as well.

Running has been a life changer for me.  I played softball growing up but was always known for not being a good runner.  After college I knew I needed to lose weight so I joined a gym and used the elliptical and stationary bike mainly.  Then came a day, nearly ten years ago, that I stood on a treadmill and felt like trying to run.  It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t far, but it felt good and like something I was willing to try.  I started reading Runner’s World here and there, and kept to the treadmill building up from walk/run intervals to steady running for a few miles. 

As my weight dropped, I began to love running, and on rare occasions started to run outside.  I signed up for my first 5k in 2006 and it went well.  A few months later a friend and I made a pact to run a 5k together, which led to more 5ks together, then 5-milers, then the idea of a half marathon seemed feasible.  After a few of those I decided a full marathon was my next goal.  Running that first marathon with Team In Training made me love running more.  Running with other people who were the same pace as me gave me new friends to vent about the week’s frustrations, the latest gossip and more. I also owe a great deal of the success I’ve had at work in the past several years to the discipline, dedication, ambition and assertiveness I’ve developed because of running.

Volunteering as a mentor with TNT for several seasons has given me the opportunity to share my love of running with others.  It’s inspiring to see others become runners.  So now I’ve volunteered to lead a Couch to 5k training program with coworkers.  I’ve laid out nine weeks of training, information, and motivation.  I’m excited to start the program and see everyone finish their first 5k.  Along the way I plan to share some of the highs, lows and just funny stuff from the group’s journey.

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Bottoms Up!

Join me for a martini-themed party on Tuesday, April 27!  The party will be from 5pm-8pm at White Orchids Thai Cuisine at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.  The bartender will be serving three fun drink concoctions to benefit my fundraising and I’ll have door prizes.

Visit my Facebook event post for more information – http://bit.ly/9bAnJ9

Or click this link for a PDF flyer – Martini flyer – 4-27-10

Outside the Comfort Zone

One of my earliest posts included a quote about only growing if you are outside your comfort zone.  Every long run from this point on is outside my comfort zone.  Yesterday’s long run was 16 miles and each week I’m expecting a congratulatory message from Lance Armstrong, Joan Samuelson, Tiger Woods or Paula Radcliffe on my Nike+ because I’ve completed my longest run.  Being out running for three hours takes just as much mentally as it does physically.  Having the support system of my teammates and coaches has made these runs easier to bear.  Marney was ‘paperclip’-ing me for the last two miles yesterday which was very amusing!  As much as I hurt after finishing yesterday’s run, after an icebath and some Aleve I feel completely fine today.

Something I noticed from last week’s long run (14-miles) was that my right side IT Band is tight which puts pressure on the bursal behind my right knee.  I pushed through that run and have been following my therapy exercises.  I also pulled out a free sample I had of KT Tape and looked up a video of how to apply it for IT relief.  I figured it was worth a shot and I am now a believer in the stuff.  I taped up yesterday morning and didn’t feel a wince of pain during yesterday’s run – I was amazed at how well this stuff works.  I bought a package in the afternoon – I bought the pink tape so it will look like a pink flamingo on my leg!

I also bought a new pair of sneakers yesterday afternoon.  I bought my last pair in December, Asics 2150s.  I should have bought another pair a couple weeks ago but waiting isn’t a huge deficit for me.  I bought the same shoes, even though I debated buying Kayanos.  The running store I went to, Aardvark in Bethlehem, had a sale with 13.1% off of everything and I also had $9 in Aardvark dollars.  I’m sticking with the 2150s through the marathon but probably will switch to Kayanos later in the summer.

Next week will be a real challenge because I’ll have to do the 18 miles on the training plan schedule on my own on Sunday because of an event for work on Saturday when I normally run with TNT.  I might have to recruit a bike pacer…

Ooh-Rah

Spontaneity is an interesting thing.  And I, of all people, am not a spontaneous person historically.  I often overthink things…

In March I decided to register for the New York City Marathon lottery.  The registration was $11 and your chances of getting picked, especially the first time, are very slim.  Knowing this, I figured if I got in it would give me something to focus on later in the year and if not, so be it.  When I registered I didn’t have a backup because my mind was set that if I didn’t get in then it wasn’t meant to be and I didn’t need to rush into a decision on my next goal.  I’m only now at the point in my training for Rock N Roll San Diego where my long runs are progressing to distances I’ve never done so I have no gauge of how my body will react and adapt.  That’s my practical nature coming through.

So this past Wednesday was lottery day.  At noon, they announced who had been picked, and I got the email that I was not chosen.  It surprised me how bummed I was.  At the same time that the lottery winners were being notified, I found out via Twitter and Facebook that registration opened for the 30,000 spots in the Marine Corps Marathon.  I went on with my day and went to Girls on the Run practice, where my friend and fellow coach Courtney shared with all of us that she registered for MCM that day.  I’d only gone to the MCM web site to track my friend Niki when she ran it in the fall and didn’t ever think about running it.  I didn’t even know the actual date of it,which from Courtney I found out was Halloween which is pretty fun.  After practice I went online and looked at the web site mulling over what this would take.  A $90 registration fee is a lot better than the $185 that NYC would have been if I was chosen… I asked Niki about the course which she said was not bad but it’s not flat.  My mind was racing and this definitely was a ‘sleep on it’ decision.

The next morning word was out that they filled over 23,000 spots and only 6,000 remained.  In that instant I knew I was in.  I registered on Thursday and since then I have had periodic reality checks every day.  To do an 18-week training program I would be starting training the first week in July.  It gives me 4 weeks of recovery from San Diego, and those first few weeks aren’t 10-mile long runs.  I know a couple other people running it so I will have a good support system, and I can probably do the LVHN Marathon for Via (Half-Marathon) as a training run.

So here’s to being spontaneous.  49 days to San Diego, 202 days until MCM – this will be an exciting and challenging 6 months for me.

Treat the Feet

I love my running shoes.  I have loved many running shoes.  I am an Asics girl, but have also broken in a few pairs of Mizunos.  I am currently in a pair of Asics 2150s, and am contemplating buying either a second pair or a pair of Kayanos to break in and wear for the marathon.

One thing I don’t love is the blisters I get.  I didn’t experience blisters until training for my first half marathon two years ago.  Until then the 5ks and 5-mile runs I was doing didn’t lead to enough long term friction to give me blisters.  Once I started progressing into 8, 9 and 10-mile runs I started getting blisters.  As much as I hate blisters, I cannot give up the shoes I love.  So I’ve experimented with other preventive means which have definitely cut back on the blisters.

Socks…. I’m always looking at socks when I’m in a specialty running store.  I have Balegas, Wigwams, Under Armour and WrightSox.  From Lucy, I bought bamboo and another natural fiber wicking sock.  From Target I have two types of C9 socks.  Of these I do not wear the Under Armour socks to run (but they were the most expensive!).  I don’t often wear the Lucy socks, and if I do they’re not more than 5 or 6 miles.  The C9 socks are also not great for long runs, unless I have no other option.  Primarily, for long runs I try to wear the Balegas or Wigwams.  The Wright Socks I’m still not sure about and haven’t tried them on anything further than 5.  The Balegas, Wigwams and Wright Socks are usually between $7 and $10 a pair.

Moleskin…. After the first really bad experience with blisters (following my first Fools Run 10-mile race) I went back to the store I bought the sneakers at (Mizuno Wave Alchemy’s) and was ready to return them and buy a new pair of shoes.  But I loved how the shoes fit and the cushioning, and the guy at the Finish Line explained what I could do with Moleskin to act as another layer of skin to protect the areas of my feet which are prone to blistering.  I’ve been buying Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin by the roll for the past two years.  I keep it and a pair of scissors in my gym bag and cut just the right size pieces to place on my feet.  The downside is that there have been times where the Moleskin piece ruches, or that I don’t have a large enough piece in place.  A roll of Dr. Scholl’s is $4.99 at Target; I haven’t seen it in a roll package anywhere else.

Aquaphor…. On mid-length runs I will at times slather on some Aquaphor (a mineral oil based ‘Healing Ointment’ from Eucerin) and save the Moleskin for later.  It works for me and, while I’ve never tried it, I suspect it does the same as Vaseline does.  I’ve heard Ryan Hall uses Vaseline so I’m sure there are a number of elites who do as well.  Pick up Aquaphor for ~$5.99 at any drugstore.

Pumice/File/Scrub….. I could certainly do this more often than I do but I try to pumice or use a foot file on my feet while in the shower regularly on the callus-y areas.  Callus’s can lead to blisters.  And a good minty foot scrub can soften those callus’s, and refresh you feet at the same time!  Pumice stones are inexpensive and can be found at any drug store.

Ultimately, I have accepted the fact that I will inevitably get blisters – it’s just how my feet are.  I think that all of these things have helped reduce the severity and regularity of blisters for me.

What are some ways that you treat or prevent blisters?

Fundraising Stats

Here’s a quick update on my latest fundraising

Events – total raised from my yoga class and bus trip is $244!

Donations – $1,100!

I am so pleased and appreciative of the support I’ve gotten so far!  If you haven’t made a donation yet, visit http://pages.teamintraining.org/lv/rnr10/khellwig and donate by credit card today!  I’ll dedicate 1 mile of my 26.2 to anyone who makes a donation of $100 or more.

I love doing races in other areas.  It’s comforting to run along familiar streets but it’s exciting to see new places and navigate through places unknown to me.  Even places I’ve been to many times like Philadelphia and D.C. feel and look different when running through them.  One of the reasons I chose to participate in the Team In Training program was so that I could visit and run in someplace completely different.  I can’t wait to see San Diego for the first time, and then experience it on foot.

One thing about going somewhere out of town for a race is that if you are staying overnight it can be stressful.  Hotels have many different amenities, but your normal pre-race routine is inevitably going to be shaken up by something, whether it be the lack of a microwave to cook your oatmeal in or noisy neighbors in the hall at all hours.  Local restaurants are fun to try and cover the need to carbo-load, but there’s a nagging fear that stomach trouble could arise.  There’s also the stress of forgetting something at home – the mental checklist can sometimes overlook something you don’t realize will be missed until getting ready, or if you do think of it you’re too far to or can’t turn around and drive back for it.  I am a little bit nervous thinking about all this as I get closer to marathon day.

So, in advance I’m going to look up what all is at my hotel – if the guest rooms have a fridge and microwave and if the hotel has room service are at the top of the list.  I know that the night-before dinner will be a pasta dinner for TNT participants so I won’t need to worry about finding a restaurant.  I’m the person who always has Tums and Pepto so that will be along, and I ALWAYS overpack clothing and toiletries.  One thing I tend to forget and wind up buying at a drug store somewhere are toothbrushes.  We’re leaving early on a Friday morning so I’ll probably be packed and ready by Wednesday night.  Sneakers, race-day outfit, normal clothes, hairties, socks, so much to remember!

What other thoughts or suggestions, words of caution, anecdotes does anyone have about racing away from home?

Sham Rock

This past weekend my friend Niki and I had our second out of town race weekend and went down to Virginia Beach to run in the Yuengling Sham Rock On races.  Our first was to Philly for the Philadelphia Distance Run in September and we had a lot of fun and met Troy Aikmen’s private pilots – it goes without saying that we knew this would be a fun race weekend.  The races were Sunday but we headed down there Friday so we wouldn’t be rushing around to get our race packets and carb-y foods.  We set up a hotel for Friday with the intention to join up with another friend for Saturday and Sunday.

We arrived around 6:30pm and were impressed with the hotel I booked barely a month ago, when a lot of hotels were full.  The room had a great oceanfront view plus a fridge and microwave.  Not what I was expecting for the $70 a night AAA rate!  We did dinner at Waterman’s and then went to Murphy’s Pub for a couple beers.  Murphy’s is where we planned to go after finishing so we wanted to check it out.

Saturday we watched the 8k racers along the boardwalk from our hotel room balcony, laced up our sneakers and went out for our own 5-mile run.  It was a good way to get used to how flat it would be for our race and the warmer temps.  We saw it get to 70 degrees Saturday and the Sunday forecast was looking the same.  We decided to stay in the same hotel the rest of the weekend and after cleaning up we grabbed breakfast – I got awesome banana pancakes which made a great breakfast Sunday morning too – and then went to the race Expo to get our race packets and bibs.  I had registered for the half and Niki registered for the full, but planned to switch to the half at the Expo.  Well, the half was filled up so all of a sudden, Niki was doing a full marathon, even though she hadn’t trained quite enough.  Out of everyone I know though, I knew Niki could get through it and still be smiling at the finish line.

The rest of the race expo was pretty neat – Irish step dancers were performing, there were some good/some bad food samples (cheese!) and I picked up a Spibelt to hold stuff while running, a Running Skirt in the TNT purple to wear in San Diego and some new hairbands – Sweaty Bands.  I don’t think I’ve ever bought so much stuff at a race expo!  We went back to the hotel, grabbed lunch and then borrowed bikes (free!) and took a ride around town.  Saturday’s weather was so amazing and walking and bike rides were a lot of fun.  Neither of us felt like going out to eat so we ordered delivery and loaded up on carbs and water while watching HBO in the hotel room.

The race start time for me was 7am, for Niki 8am – made no sense but whatever.  The first alarm clock went off at 4:30 and the second at 5.  I ate up my leftover pancakes, moleskinned my feet to prevent blisters, and used the Body Glide.  By 6 we were ready to go and walked to the start line.  We had corrals for the half so I crossed the start at 7:05am.  The course was flat as expected, very little change in elevation.  There were funny jokes and motivational messages along the side of the roads and the Hashers had a beer check at the 2-mile and 10-mile point.  Running through Cape Henry and the boardwalk later was pretty cool – it was neat to see the ocean to my left and finish at Neptune’s statue.  I finished in 2:29, placing 4,434 out of 6,546 runners in the half marathon.  Not my best!  But I enjoyed the race and feel good for finishing.  I wound up not using Body Glide in the right place on my upper arms and wound up with some chafing and also a couple blisters on the feet.  Blister prevention is my new project so I’ll be doing a post on that later this week.

After finishing they hand everyone their medal, a nice wicking hat, a long-sleeve T-shirt and the requisite goodies – cookies, bananas, pretzels, granola bars….  Walking back to the hotel after I finished I got to see and cheer for Niki around mile 12 – she was doing great and running with the 4:30 pace group.  I took a shower and walked down to the finish line festival to grab a beer and watch for Niki to finish.  I’ve never seen a finish festival like this – beer, beach, sun – it was a big party with live bands and runners playing flip cup on empty tables.  I loved watching the marathon finishers – so many of them looked strong and excited.  She finished in 4:45 which I’m so impressed by – her longest training run was only 17 miles!  I can only hope to finish with that time in San Diego.  After she got her shower we went back to the Finish festival to enjoy a few more beers.  The crowd had filtered out a lot and it had gotten cloudy so the sun was gone.  We talked to a couple who came from Atlanta and some people from Lancaster who’ve been to some of the races in Reading that we know of. 

After the beer kicked and the hunger set in we walked over to Murphy’s for food and some more beer (not free).  My friend Ryan who lives in the area met up with us and as usual, we randomly meet more fun people and had a blast dancing along to the live band and talking to our new friends.  My new friend Steve lives in Virginia Beach and is from Minnesota – he ran the 8k on Saturday and then the Marathon on Sunday!  He wore those sunglasses through the entire marathon – maybe I shouldn’t have tried them on…. 

Sham Rock was a great race – as a runner it had a well planned course and amenities, and the party-like atmosphere made it relaxing and rewarding.  I was not anxious or nervous going into this race like I am for others.  It was a great ramp-up and tune-up for San Diego, and meeting so many other runners was inspirational to me.

The Playlist’s the Thing

When I’m running I definitely feel more comfortable and focused if I have music.  For a typical run, I’ll set my iPod on shuffle and if a slower tune comes on I skip it.  For the half marathons I’ve done I have a special play list that I’ve tweaked for each one.  Ironically, for my first half marathon I forgot my iPod.  I had my headphones and armband for it, just somehow forgot the actual iPod.  It definitely was interesting to realize that I was ok without it, but ultimately I like the extra kick I get when a certain song comes on, or how a beat or melody can set a pace.  I feel an instant surge if a certain Dave Matthews Band song comes on – for a while it was Ants Marching but lately it’s Lie in our Graves.  I notice my breathing mimics the beat of the chorus of Gloria from Flashdance.  On runs where I don’t have music I feel like I’m humming along to Gloria.

Shamrock is just a few days away so of course my iPod is coming along.  My playlist is in need of tweaking so I ask for feedback on what I should add.  In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day The Dropkick Murphy’s and U2 are inevitably included.  What else would make this the perfect Shamrock playlist?

We’re less than two weeks from the start of Spring and every person I know is soaking up the warmer temperatures and extra daylight.  It’s amusing because it’s reaching 60 in the afternoon but anything is better than snow and temps in the teens.  Daylight savings is back this weekend which will lead to more daylight, which means more outside runs after work!

Today I was thrilled to get a run in outside.  It was a stretch and instead of the easy pace I was scheduled to do, my pace was definitely in the tempo/speed work range.  I only did two instead of the three I would have done at the gym but I’ll take a run outside over a run on the treadmill anyday.  I booked it over to Coplay and did part of the Ironton Rail Trail.  This, along with the Parkway, are definitely my favorite trails to run. We were able to run the trails at the Parkway Saturday morning on the training run with my TNT group.  Every runner I know in the Lehigh Valley (and some outside of the Valley) are also big fans of the Parkway.  Lots of people were out Saturday and Sunday!

My training is feeling great.  I did some strength training routines a couple times and the series is very easy (but worthwhile because I feel it the next day!) so I have to get consistent with doing it regularly.  Shamrock is less than two weeks from now and I’m excited for the race AND for the getaway.  I have a couple extra days off which will be relaxing.  It was a bit impulsive but last night I registered for the New York City Marathon lottery.  If I get in that means I’ll be doing another marathon later this year.  Haven’t gotten through my first and here I go potentially getting in to another one….  From what I understand only 1 in 6 is accepted.  On the other hand, that acceptance would keep me going and give me extra motivation.  The race would be pretty awesome and memorable to participate in.

I decided to buy a new Fuel Belt.  I have a Nike one that I bought a couple years ago and it works, but I always feel it ruching and since The Finish Line (finishlinerunningstore.com – 10 S. 4th St, Emmaus) was giving TNT participants 15% off on Saturday I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check them out.  This one is a Helium 4-bottle belt and has bottles that are a little larger than the Nike belt and a snugger waistband. 

I also picked up a couple pairs of socks – WrightSox and Balegas.  I have a couple pairs of Balegas and am happy with them and figured I’d try the WrightSox too.  Haven’t tried these, or the Fuel Belt, yet but Sunday I will when I go for a run in the morning.  I’d love to hear from other runners with their thoughts on Fuel Belts, socks and other gear!