6 days ’til race day!

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hope y’all had a great “last long run”!

i know, at this point in training, many of you are feeling like this:

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which is completely understandable! we’ve had a demanding season to prepare for LR.

you have one more tough workout before race day which includes some sprints, much like this:

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hopefully you’ll then take some time for stretching:

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by the time the race rolls around on Sunday, you’ll be rested and more than ready to put in your best effort!

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you will have earned this:

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xo,

Star

Biggest Loser: Slippery Slope?

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I happened upon the finale of The Biggest Loser last night.  This isn’t a show I frequent because I’ve always questioned some of their tactics.  I know they have medics on staff and blah, blah, blah but as a personal trainer, some of the things I have seen just make me cringe.

Aside from the fact that I can’t quite imagine having screaming matches with my clients or climbing on them like a baby monkey, I don’t always believe in pushing them to the brink of exhaustion, which can often lead to injury.  You’re running on a treadmill, your body is giving out because I am taking you from the couch to a run at a 10% incline, I’m screaming at you like a crazed lunatic, and you fall.  Who won here?  Me, because I got you to get frustrated and get back on that treadmill?  You because you proved me wrong by twisting your ankle or banging your face off the treadmill?

I tried to watch the show last year when they worked with children.  I really loved the things they did with the kids to improve their knowledge of health and fitness and how they taught them that it can be fun.  I also saw plenty of fun workouts and found it fascinating at how little knowledge many of these contestants have about how to be healthy.  This is all great.  I also saw what I felt could be a slippery slope.   It’s all about weight loss.  This can be dangerous.

As I watched the end of the finale last night, I was introduced to Rachel. I listened to her story and watched in the recorded portion as her “new self” talked to her “old self” and exclaimed to Keith how incredible and healthy she looked.  Then it was time for the big reveal and out she walked.  It made me sad. She looked as if she aged 20 years and appeared ill.  Too skinny, in my opinion. She went from being a sad, obese girl to a happy, underweight girl?  I have a good friend who was overweight and is now anorexic. She is aware of this but is terrified of being “that fat girl” again. She has suffered medical issues and personal issues because of this.  It breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart to look at this Rachel girl and see what a slippery slope she’s on. Maybe, just maybe she’ll find that to be healthy and strong, this doesn’t always equate to skinny but maybe she won’t. Maybe she will end up unable to have children and in and out of counseling because of her eating disorder.  I’m rooting for her to be healthy but I feel that The Biggest Loser producers need to keep a close eye on this and may need to change their platform if the competition of weight loss is making people sick.

I did a little research on Rachel to try to figure out if she’s as sick as she looked last night.  She’s 5’4″ per google and 105 per the show.  This gives her a BMI of 18 which is classified as “underweight”.  While BMI isn’t the end all, be all of health monitoring, neither is weight loss.

Silver Linings

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As a runner, I’ve had plenty of “runner injuries”…stress fractures, tendonitis, torn meniscus, and strains and sprains of all grades.  What I’ve never had though is a broken bone.  Even as a kid, I never broke a bone. Keith was a rough and tumble kid and was always in a cast of some sort but not me. Well, I guess 40 isn’t too late.

Keith and I headed out for our run last Friday. We had debated whether or not we wanted to go then (it was 5 degrees) or wait until Saturday afternoon when I got off work. I really hate to put runs off so we decided we’d suck it up, bundle, and get it done. We knew we only had a few hours to get our run in and get home in time for Georgia’s acupuncture appointment so we decided to run the Wolf River trails instead of Shelby Forest. These trails we’ve done hundreds of times so we know exactly how much time it takes from point to point which makes it easy when you’re pressed for time.

We were about 1.5 hours in to our run and Keith was in front. I was feeling fine. Was a few minutes away from refueling, felt plenty warm, had my headphones in, and was enjoying the completely desolate trail.  I was headed down a short but fairly steep downhill when all of a sudden, I was falling. It happened so fast, I’m not sure if I hit a root or a hole or what but it was very unfortunate that it all happened on a downhill because gravity was not my friend. I landed with all of my weight on my left knee and at the same time, felt (and heard) my right ankle break.  I’ve had ankle sprains that have taken me to the ground but I knew right away this was different. The pain was different and was severe.  I knew I needed to get to the car quickly but also knew we were 1.5 hours away and that was if we were running!

I was trying not to panic, as was Keith, but herein lies the dilemma of what to do if injured on a trail. It’s not as simple as sitting down and calling someone. I knew that it might take us twice as long to walk back to the car, assuming I could walk at all…..that would be 3 hours! Fortunately, Keith was thinking more clearly and knew we weren’t far from the Greenline (the trail we were on goes under the Greenline) so he thought that might be the best bet.  I was a little panicked that we were headed the opposite direction of the car but I also knew Keith was thinking more clearly than I was.

In Keith’s defense, he offered to throw me over his shoulder and carry me out but I am stubborn and my adrenaline was kicking so I was just on a mission to get out of the trail. We tried the whole arm over the shoulder thing to get me out but it’s tough to walk 2 wide on a single track trail! It’s also hard to limp on both legs!  Thank God my phone still had a little juice so he got in touch with my sister as we were walking out and she was able to come get us.  She met us at the Penal Farm, just off the Greenline. It took us about 40 or so minutes to get to where she could get her car to us. By then we were both pretty cold but I kept telling myself it’s as if i was already icing my ankle and knee ;)  This was my first silver lining.

Allison drove us to our car and we went straight to the urgent care. Runners are notoriously stubborn and I’ve never gone straight to the doctor but I’m very fortunate that I did.  Although I immediately told Keith that I thought my ankle was broken, the pain in my knee was almost worst so I was beginning to question if I was just being dramatic. :0

After x-rays, the final diagnoses was better and worse than I expected. I assumed I had torn my meniscus again and probably sprained my ankle.  It’s actually quite the opposite.  On the knee, the doctor feels it’s nothing more than a severe bruise behind the cartilage. Yay, can’t bend my leg and severe bruising behind the cartilage! Definitely better than a torn meniscus. Silver lining #2. The right ankle though is broken.  What a f*&King bummer! It is however a non displaced break which is much better than a displaced break. Silver lining #3.

So, in came the nurse with the dreaded boot.  Hate the boot but, they are allowing me a boot so they can re-xray in 2 weeks rather than casting me, cutting the cast off and recasting.  When I heard that a cast was an option, suddenly the boot became my friend.  Silver lining #4.  The nurse was apologetic as she was fitting me for the boot…how awful they are and bulky.  As someone who has had these in the summer when it’s a thousand degrees, I’m just happy it’s cold outside. Silver lining #5.

I’m beyond pissed, bummed, depressed….name it and i’m it…that I had such a fluke accident.  It’s like the time Keith bent to pick up the paper and threw his back out and was in the bed for weeks.  There’s no rhyme or reason to why it happened.  I just had the perfect fall.  Thinking I would have scored a 10 in a downhill, ankle breaking fall!  Yay, me.

I am bummed that I can’t run some upcoming races I had planned but I’m just even more determined to do everything I have to do to get back out there….even if that means sleeping in this damn boot and walking with crutches, neither of which I am finding to be very easy.

I’m beyond grateful for Keith.  I can’t imagine how stressful it was for him knowing that we were so far from the car and I know I wasn’t doing anything to make it any less stressful (thinking crying probably wasn’t all that helpful). I’m also grateful to him for all that he has to take on for the next several weeks since I can’t drive, walk, or really even stand.  I am very fortunate he is as wonderful as he is :) Thanks, KR, you’re still my favorite person.

2013 Recap

I got an email from Nike Plus a few weeks ago with my 2013 “year end review” and it got me thinking….what in the world did I do in 2013?  It seems to have flown by.  Going back and looking, it appears that if it didn’t involve running or dogs, it didn’t happen ;)

A quick glimpse into my year:

January, 2013:

* Looked for Scout, day in and day out! After 2 weeks, Scout was found

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* Found Tallulah

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* Ran Swampstomper 25k

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February, 2013:

* New Orleans Half / Full Marathon with the group!

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* Ran Sylamore 25k

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March, 2013:

* Germantown Half Marathon with the group

* Volunteer day at Tunica Humane Society

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April, 2013

* Hells Hills 50k

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* Bark in the Park

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* 7th Anniversary

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May, 2013:

* MIM Triathlon w/ group

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* Oliver was found on a group run

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June, 2013:

* Dragonfly Tri w/ the group

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* Gearhead Triathlon w/ the group

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* KOTH w/ Keith

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July, 2013:

* Mighty Mite w/ the group

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* Full Moon w/ Keith

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* Picked up Stogie (Olde English Bulldog foster)

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August, 2014:

* Keith’s 40th

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* USAT Nationals w/ Keith

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* Stogie to his new home

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September, 2013:

* Cooper Young 4 Miler

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* Mexico

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October, 2013:

* Winnie moved in (foster bully :) )

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November, 2013:

* My 40th and Georgia’s 10th birthdays

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December, 2013:

* St. Jude cancelled

* Party!

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* Star Runners Half Marathon

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I’m sure I left plenty of important things out but this pretty much sums up my year.  Dogs and running. :)

White River Marathon – Guest Blog

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Guest Blog by Anna Ritz

Aaaaaaannnnnnnd 26.2 is done! What an incredible experience, and perhaps even fun?

The White River Marathon for Kenya is held in Cotter, AR, a small town just outside Mountain Home in the Ozarks.

“Wow! I’m really impressed that you’re going to run your first marathon in the mountains!”

It wasn’t quite that impressive – the course is flat as can be, with two out-and-backs along the river. Except for a steep downhill for the first 1200 meters, there is no elevation change to speak of. (No, we don’t even go back up that hill.)

It’s a small race – 700 people combined for the 5k, half marathon and full marathon. It was flat and fast, attracting those hoping to qualify for Boston. A friendly and low-key attitude appeals to ultra- and trail-runners who want a quick road race. And being relatively cheap with flexible registration and packet pickup attracts the 50-Staters and Marathon Maniacs.

Race day brought temperatures in the 30s and 14 mph winds – not the conditions we trained in! We were able to stay warm in the school cafeteria where the race had set up camp. A short walk to the starting line, a quick prayer and a not-so-quick rendition of the national anthem later, then we were off!

Leg 1: We headed down the hill (and I was passed by almost every. Single. Person.), but I did my best to maintain my very slow first mile pace. Made a few friends along the way, and was in high spirits and on pace, or just under, through the first turnaround.

Leg 2: I felt great and left the running buddy I had found. I realized I was a minute or two ahead of where I should be (time-wise, not pace-wise), but maintained my pace. Had a moment where I wondered if this would come back to bite me, but just kept going. I even had time to hit a port-a-potty, and still cruise into the half-way point a couple of minuets ahead of schedule.

Leg 3: half-marathoners finished, and I turned around to do it all again. I came across Kevin, who ran with me for a couple of minutes until my next walk break. When he turned back, I considered having a meltdown, and spent a couple of miles telling myself that the marathon is a stupid distance. I told myself I felt bad, so I did feel bad. I was concerned that the excess speed from the second leg had caught up with me, and was convinced I had blown my race.

Then I told myself I didn’t care. My first goal was to reach The Wall at mile 20 and feel good about being there. My mantra became “Trust the training. Follow the plan. Feel good at 20.” By this point, I was a minute and a half behind where I should have been at each mile marker, but starting to feel better.

Leg 4 (final leg!): just after the last turn around, I hit mile 20 and felt fine, but was ready to ditch my 8 ½ minute run/1 ½ minute walk routine (my legs were done with that particular running pace). I tried a 4/1 for a few intervals, but it wasn’t much better.

Finally, around mile 22 (still under where I should have been, according to my paceband), I decided to completely forget about my goal time, stop looking at my watch, and just finish and feel good. I started a form of fartleks, alternating short distances of faster runs and walks. I counted driveways and electric poles, doing anything I could to will myself to the finish line and be done. I wasn’t going to make my goal time, but I knew I would be happy with my finish.

Best of all, I passed at least a dozen people during the last 8 miles or so, but not a single person passed me. (Keep in mind that there were only 230 marathon finishers, so a dozen is a fair number of people.) These were all people who flew past me down the hill in the beginning. They weren’t looking so hot, but I felt great.  I even passed a woman with the .2 left! I was done, finally done.

The cherry on top? I somehow made up 4 ½ minutes in the last 4 miles and beat my goal time by 3 minutes.

Trust the training. Follow the plan. Feel good at 20.

Way to go, Anna!!  You showed incredible discipline and restraint and finished strong!  Perfect race!!  BIGGEST congrats on your awesome accomplishment!  I can’t wait to run this race next year.  Can you imagine if 20% of the field were Star Runners?!  Let’s do it!

San Antonio Marathon – Guest Blog

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Guest Post by Rebecca Cortese
It was not intended in God’s plans for me to run in “normal” conditions on race day. But then again, I never thought I would ever run a marathon!
This was my first ever marathon and I’m so happy I joined Star Runners 7 months ago to embark on this crazy journey.
Roughly 3 months prior to my race we had a long Saturday group run of 18 miles. It is a day that I will never forget because I hit a major wall due to the heat conditions (90 degrees) and only a few hours of sleep the night before (thanks a lot fire alarm!) It is also a day that prepared me more than I ever could have imagined for race day.
I arrived in San Antonio 2 days prior to race day and temperatures in the morning were averaging in the low 50/60s. Perfect! The temperature was a little higher on race morning, a humid 68. Still, I was pumped and raring to go and my family was there to cheer me on, including my sister who was 10 corrals ahead of me running the half.
I took off- the first 13 were amazing- I was averaging about 20 seconds ahead of each split, ensuring I had a slow enough start. It was when we split from the half runners at about mile 12 that I started to really feel awesome. I knew I was feeling great and was ahead of my time (thinking in my head) “Star must be so proud!” I also didn’t want to let my Star Running buds down- so good so far.
It was at about mile 18 that I really began to worry. I felt a MAJOR increase in temperature, not to mention there hadn’t been any shade since I passed mile 15 and I knew it was going to be all mental from this point on. I got to mile 20 and we entered this park that was paved and in wide open sunlight. I began to notice my surroundings- ambulance golf carts passing more frequently, more people walking than running, people camped out underneath what ounce of shade there was- underneath the interstate overpasses.
Mile 22 I walked a great bit. My body was sluggish and I found myself chugging Gatorade, water, and downing salt packs. During my extended walk break I passed a man that had to be in his 50s. He knew I wasn’t a happy camper- no one was at this point. He told me that this race was his 37th marathon and that by far this was the worst. Encouraging! I told him this was my first and he told me to keep going- to imagine myself crossing the finish line with a chocolate milk. I like this guy! I then took off- I thought about everyone rooting for me back home and at the finish line. I thought about the hot, humid day in Memphis when I hit the wall. I thought about Genna and Stephanie running that day with me and afterward telling me that if I could get through that day, I could get through anything. I thought about my husband who, on the day I hit the wall, walked the last 3 miles with me to my car just so I could finish. I CAN DO THIS! (I was saying his to myself out loud- talking to myself- anything to keep me going.)
I approached mile 25 and I knew I wanted to run the last one in. I turned to a lady next to me and asked her if we had crossed 25- she said yes, about a half mile ago- S#*%!! I took off and I made it to the .2 where I saw my family waiting (sweating) and cheering me on and I dug deep and sprinted to cross the finish line. Immediately I began to cry because I knew I hadn’t met my goal but then I realized- I finished. I. Finished. At the end of the day, that 110% meets my expectations because I accomplished what I never thought I could. Later that night I learned that within a span of 15 minutes the temperature had climbed 8 degrees to a staggering 89 (while I was around mile 20). I also learned that later in the day they were actually re-routing people to finish, cutting off 3 miles so that they wouldn’t be running any longer in the heat. They also moved the race to the first weekend in December for next year – I am going to run it again to prove to myself I can run a “normal” race.
Thank you to everyone in the group, especially my marathon training buds, the ones that kept me going through all of this- through blisters, tight legs, sweat, tears, and laughs- we did it! Most importantly thank you Star & Keith for supporting and teaching me to complete this race. You have made me the runner I’ve always wanted to be and for that I am forever grateful. Go Star Runners!
Isn’t it crazy to read this post about awful heat as we sit here waiting on an ice storm!  Rebecca, I could not be more proud.  You were the definition of perseverance.  Marathons are tough and marathons in unexpected heat are crazy tough.  You were awesome!!  You are awesome!

Guest Blog- Philadelphia Race Recap

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I hope y’all are enjoying these race recaps as much as I am!  All of you writing them, thank you!

Philadelphia Marathon Recap by Laura Beth Gabriel

Disclaimer: I’m normally not an overly sentimental person, but this article, much like a marathon, is a little emotional—especially towards the end J.

It is with sore legs and a full heart that I write this race recap.

My Philadelphia Marathon experience was not an uncommon one. My first half felt great, I started to lose steam around mile 18 or 19, and the last six were worse than a big, red beet on top of an ice cream sundae. I’ll let you know about the miles (you’re welcome), but I want to tell you about what was going on inside my head—because I think that’s what means the most during a marathon.

I started off with a rush of adrenaline (try starting off slowly while the Rocky theme song is playing) and a pace that was a bit on the fast side. I’m normally a slow and steady runner, but I was hoping to cross the finish line at 5:00, and I knew that every second mattered.

My first ten miles felt great. I kept my run pace at 10:30 or better (though not much better), and I tried to walk as quickly as I could on the walk “breaks”. The weather was cool and overcast, and I had Stephanie Molz beside me. Stephanie had just finished the Dublin Marathon a few weeks prior, and was dealing with some back pain, so we lost each other at a water stop around mile 14. I was on my own.

I hated losing Steph, but I know I wasn’t the best running buddy that day. I was watch-obsessed and not very talkative. This was a very different experience from my first marathon where I ran with a group and only wanted to cross that finish line. I had a goal, and though I knew I wanted to reach it, I didn’t realize just how much I wanted it until race day.

Miles 15 through 20 weren’t too bad, either. The route contained two out-and-backs, so in a span of five minutes, I saw both Matt (my husband) and Stephen Molz (Steph’s husband). As much as crowds help, nothing beats seeing a familiar face. Seeing them both still running strong perked me up and helped me maintain my 10:00-10:30 run pace.

Then I hit mile 20…

Around mile 20.5, a girl came up to me while I was on a walk break and said, “No! Don’t stop now! I’ve been following you for a while, and you can’t walk yet!” I explained that I wasn’t quitting, I was doing a run/walk, and she was intrigued. We talked for a while, which kept me occupied until mile 21. Thanks, random inquisitive stranger.

At mile 21, the dull aches and pains became…not dull. I hadn’t thought of a power word to get through moments like this, but I did see something at work that stayed with me for the entire marathon. 

I work for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and, while I don’t work directly in the hospital, I’m over there a few times a day—because that’s where the food is. A few days before leaving for Philadelphia, I went across the street for coffee. Walking through a hallway toward the exit, I saw a patient using a small walker. His dad gently took the walker away, and the boy had a panicked look in his eyes. His dad nodded at him and said, “You can do this. Just a few steps.” The boy moved one foot in front of the other so slowly that you almost couldn’t tell he was moving. He cried out in pain with each step, but his Dad kept assuring him that he could move without the walker’s support. I thought about that boy the entire race, but I especially though of him those last six miles. As much as I was hurting, I was healthy. And, for that, I am thankful. For that, I run.

For those of you who don’t know, the last few miles of a marathon are as mentally tough as they are physically tough. I thought of the young patient, but I also thought of others. I thought of Star, cheering us on and tracking our splits via the internet, making our pace bands, wearing all of her clothes to stay warm while we did sprints on the high school track. Her dedication pushed me through those last miles. 

I thought of Stephanie, who would tell you that she felt negative during the race, but is always the most positive and encouraging running buddy and friend. Her friendship pushed me through those last miles.

I thought of my parents and in-laws, who were tracking our splits even though they couldn’t have told you what a running split was (a tricky gymnastic act?) before we started and were now enthusiasts— even though they probably thought we were a bit crazy. My family pushed me through those last miles.

I thought of the other Star Runners. Rebecca, who was braving the San Antonio heat in her marathon that very same day. The Star Runners got me through those last miles.

Mostly, I thought of Matt. After we got married, we decided to make a change. We began running a few miles, and those few miles led to a half-marathon, followed by a full-marathon. Thank you, Matt, for being my support system literally and metaphorically every step of the way. I’m so glad we’ve made this amazing journey together. You inspire me, and I love you. You pushed me through those last miles.

To sum this up, I did make my goal—4:58 and change. While the Philly finish line could use a boost of awesome, I still felt grateful. And thankful.

Awesome race, LB!!