16, 18..whatever it takes

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Anyone else love the movie, Mr Mom, growing up?  I loved it.  The part where Jack is attempting a home renovation and is asked about how he’s going to wire the new room- “You gonna make it all 220? Yea, 220, 221.  Whatever it takes.”  That’s kind of how I felt Saturday night at the Full Moon 25K.

Keith and I woke up at 5 AM Saturday morning to head to Forest City for the Mightymite Tri which he and several others from Star Runners competed in (and, i must add, they all did awesome!).  Once we were done there, we headed on to West Little Rock where we checked in to our room.  We hadn’t eaten anything yet and knew we needed real food so we dropped our stuff and headed straight to Macaroni Grill for some pasta.  Our goal was to be back in the hotel by 3 PM so we could possibly nap before needing to get ready and head to the race.  I think we were in the room by 3:05, maybe a little too full of pasta!  We napped for about 30 minutes, got up to put together all our hydration and fuel stuff, and headed on to the race site at 5.

Packet pick up started at 6 PM and the race was about an hour away from the hotel.  We got several emails from the RD about there being no place to park other than the 2 lane highway so, first come, first serve.  The planner in me prevailed so we were there right at 6, parked about 20 cars down…perfect.  We got our stuff, milled around a bit, and went back to the car to wait.  What do you do for 90 minutes before a race?  Well, eat pop-tarts and listen to 80’s rap, of course!

We hung out in the car for a while, mainly to have a place to sit, and once it was time to move on, we loaded up with bug spray and headed to the start.  The start was buzzing!  It had the feel of a bonfire but with a lot of compression!  With 5 minutes to go, I told Keith I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom.  I debating running off during all of the instructions but I figured it was just “long run anxiety” and not a real need.  Ignore it and it will go away!

One of the things I love about trail races, we were just standing there and suddenly someone said, “oh, i think the race started” so off we went.  It started with a very slight uphill and then a fairly large downhill, all on pavement.  I’m guessing it was on pavement for about 15 minutes and then we turned into the trail.  As soon as I saw the rocks, I had visions of Hells Hills running through my mind but, thank goodness, these were runnable rocks!  We hit the trail as the sun was setting which was nice because we were able to get our feet under us before all the lights went out!

The trail was awesome.  It was mostly dirt with small gravel and some golf ball sized rocks. It certainly required a lot of concentration but it felt pretty good.  The first 5 or so miles was a constant climb with a few steep bumps on top of the climb and after about mile 5, we had a little downhill reprieve with some more rolling hills and then a pretty steep climb to the aid station.  I started to think my stomach wasn’t just “race anxiety” but maybe my food from earlier in the day just wasn’t wanting to stay where it was!  Uh oh.  I had fueled on schedule but was starting to have that feeling that there was no way I would be able to get anything else to go down.  The aid station volunteers were awesome and there was a pretty good selection but after my first sip of Mountain Dew, I knew I was in trouble.  I grabbed an orange slice and refilled my bottles with Heed and Keith and I headed back out.

We did a bit of a shuffle on the downhill getting out of the aid station as by this time it was pitch black and all you could see were little lights from the headlamps coming towards you and the small space in front of your feet.  We powered through the downhill and headed back into the next uphill and that’s when it hit me.  I was officially battling the stomach demons.  I found that if we were going uphill, my pasta wanted to come UP and if we were on a downhill, it wanted to go DOWN.  Not a good feeling on a rolling course!  Poor Keith had already done 1 race that day and was battling his own issues and then had to deal with my panic….was i going to have to throw up (i hate to throw up.  call 911 if i have a stomach bug!) or was i going to have to go squat in the woods (not my favorite thing to do even in the daylight, but in the pitch black dark?!?!)?  Tough dilemma for me so I decided I would not do either 🙂

I couldn’t fuel anymore after about 1 1/2 hours so I was worried about my energy but having Keith to run with made that part easy.  The trail was so cool and the noise from all of the frogs was nuts.  We saw 3 sets of beady eyes off the trail in the woods and, I tell ya, that will keep you on your toes too!  There were a few times I would cover my headlamp just to see if it really was as dark as it seemed.  It was!

We slowed a good bit on the steep climbs to keep my heart rate down which, in turn, would help to keep everything else down and then we would try to pick it up on the downhills.  I knew the race was somewhere around 15.5 miles because that’s the distance of a standard 25K but I really didn’t have any idea of the actual distance.  I remember a guy passing me at around 12 miles and saying, “well, we finally have a little less than 6 miles to go.”  Hmmm.  I know my math skills suck after about an hour of running but I felt pretty certain 12 + 6 was more than 15.5, by a good bit.  I asked Keith if I was doing the math right and he just said, “really, math right now?” so we just kind of left it there.

We finally hit pavement again and had one last good uphill, then onto the finish line!  Even with my stomach issues and Keith’s burning hip bursitis, we absolutely loved this race.  Even though I didn’t meet my goal, I didn’t care.  I had an idea of what I wanted to run it in before going in but I knew at the turn around that this wouldn’t happen.  Little did I know I was basing the time on an unknown distance anyway!

We went to grab a coke at the finish and the distance of the 25K was all the buzz.  I heard all the “well, my Garmin says…” talk so out of curiosity I asked a couple of people how far we had just run.  I got answers anywhere from 16.1 to 17.8.  This makes me laugh, in a giddy kind of way.  I LOVE that I did a race of unknown distance and I don’t even care (this goes against every ounce of my OCD personality!).  I LOVE that I didn’t know if I was running 15 or 18 and it didn’t matter to me.  I LOVE the vibe of this kind of race and this kind of attitude.  Who really cares how far we went.  The point is the experience, not the distance.  I’ll certainly do this race again.  16 miles, 18 miles…whatever it takes, I’m there.

(pre run picture above ; post run picture below)

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Therapy

therapy

Keith and I were recently faced with something we never imagined we would have to deal with.  We were leaving the pool one morning and received a call that one of our very dear friends, Keith’s best friend of almost 30 years, had taken his own life.  We spent that day making the necessary phone calls and essentially just walking around in a state of shock.  We had a bike ride scheduled that afternoon and while we absolutely could have skipped it, we decided that maybe at least going through the motions would help us to find some normalcy in this horrific day.

We put our bikes on the trainers and suited up.  We rode, not hard and not long, but we rode.  Two days later we had a long run scheduled.  We absolutely could have skipped this.  Instead, we hit the trails with our headphones on and ran for hours and hours.  We probably only said a few words to each other.  We cried lots of tears and we had one of the most therapeutic runs I could have ever imagined.  Does the fact that we did these 2 workouts during such a traumatic time mean that we weren’t grieving or that we take our training too seriously?  Does it mean that we don’t have lives outside of running?  Not at all.  Training (whether it be running or biking or whatever) is so much more than that to us.  It is routine, together time, normalcy, meditation, and happiness.  It is therapy.

We needed that run more than anything.  That particular run is what helped us to get through a very emotional and exhausting weekend.  That run also got us thinking.  Why do people run or bike or swim if it doesn’t make them happy?  Every single workout doesn’t have to be looked forward to or even enjoyed but if the overall theme of what you’re doing isn’t happiness, then what is it?  I often hear from people that they’re too “stressed” to work out.  There’s nothing that would help with stress more than a work out.  On the flip side, I struggle when people decide to train for a specific race or join a specific group simply because they have a friend doing it.  Your friends happiness is not going to get you through it.  It has to be something that makes you happy as well.

If it’s not running that makes you happy and keeps you lifted during tough times, that’s perfectly ok, but I challenge you to figure out what it is.  Everyone needs something healthy that also gives them the feeling of meditation, normalcy, and happiness.  Figure out what it is for you and embrace it.  You never know when you’ll need it.

Group Training

 

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Five Reasons You Should Train with a Group By David Bertrand
 
It’s easy to fall into the monotony of a solo training regimen and lose sight of the challenge and empowerment we seek from our workouts. As humans, we are social creatures and can draw energy and motivation from each other. Whether you are just starting your path toward fitness, returning to training after some time off or lost your competitive edge, the company of a training group can help you go the extra mile. Here are 5 ways a group can help maximize your training: 
 
Accountability 
The 5 a.m. alarm goes off – do you feel like hitting snooze and going right back to sleep? You might think twice knowing your training partners are out there getting the workout done. 

Motivation 
Draw off the energy of your training partners to fight through that last interval of a speed workout or climb of a hill workout. 

Challenge 
Training with others gets the competitive juices flowing, pushing you to continue challenging yourself. 

Distraction from Training Barriers 
Whether your head is full of negative thoughts from a bad day at work or trouble with friends or family, your training group is there to keep things in perspective. You have opportunities for conversations with your training partners and structure from a coach to help you through rough spots that might otherwise result in a missed workout. 

Building Relationships 
Your training group is there for you to share your experiences, learn from others, teach others, support others, be supportive and forge long-term friendships. 

In the end we all have a goal when we start training. By leaning on each other we can stay on track to reach our goals and have fun. The group dynamic can breathe fresh air into your workouts and carry over into all aspects of your life. Soon enough, you might find yourself recruiting friends and family to join you in the next group-training program or club workout.

David Bertrand has been teaching and coaching for over 10 years. He holds a master’s degree in Health and Human Performance and has multiple certifications from Playtri, USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, etc. 
so true, so true.  lean on each other.  that’s what we’re here for!