Thursday, April 17, 2014

We're In This Together

A key to having a good race, whatever distance you're doing, is to approach it with a plan in mind. For M and me, that sometimes involves deciding whether we will be running a race together the whole time, or just start the race together and run our separate races to the best of our individual abilities. We've done both, and as long as we have an understanding of how we're approaching the race, either way works out fine. That's one thing I really love about our running partnership -- we are both happy to see each other succeed. While it grinds my gears to get beat by some people, I honestly never mind if McKenzie has a better race than I do because I'm genuinely pleased for her and I know just how hard she's worked for it. We're now officially in different age groups for most races, but even when we were in the same bracket, this was always true. 

Ya win some, ya lose some -- but you're always happy for your teammate.

So, after some deliberation, we came to the conclusion that no matter what, we were running Boston together. We trained for this together, sweat for this together, and probably went a little crazy for this together, so we want to finish together. Decision made. Plan, in hand. Let's do this. 

Well, not quite so fast. 

I must say, I had a bit of a panic upon finding out my bib number. With 39 days to go, I checked the BAA Twitter feed (OK, I really checked it every day, several times a day), and saw they had just alerted that bib numbers and starting times were posted. I was SO EXCITED to go online and type in my name to find out that I , Victoria Dugger of Perrysburg, Ohio, would be sporting bib number 18396 and would be leaving on my journey from Hopkinton in Wave 3, Corral 1 -- right up front! Yeah, buddy!

The 118th Boston Marathon is slated to have 36,000 runners, and there's not enough room for them all to start at the same time. The streets in Hopkinton are narrow, and it would be a logistical nightmare to release everyone at once. So, there are four waves with four different start times to space it out. Being in Corral 1 meant I'd be among those leading the third bunch of runners as that squad of 9,000 started the 26.2-mile march toward Copley Square. 

With McKenzie by my side, the race was bound to start out great! With McKenzie by my side ... oh. Oh, no. That couldn't be right. A quick search of marathon runners from Oregon, Ohio, (she's the only one) showed my training buddy, with whom I've logged literally hundreds and hundreds of miles, gallons of sweat, dozens of inappropriate jokes, several long-run induced hallucinations, and buckets of tears ranging from heart-breaking sorrow to delirious joy, was in Wave 2, Corral 8. She might as well be running the marathon on Mars. 

A furious texting exchange ensued that involved plots to sneak onto the bus of another wave (which we determined might get you disqualified), me trying to catch up with her after her wave starts (seriously, impossible -- I'm of stubby French-German-Welsh descent, with nowhere near the Kenyan-type closing speed I'd need to do that), and then ended with the resignation that, well, we'd at least be able to hang out at Athletes' Village together until our respective waves started. I texted that I'd hold out hope and dig for more information -- surely the BAA wouldn't intentionally try to stop two training partners and best sister friends from running together. 


Digging into the marathon Web site's frequently asked questions section, I found my answer. 
"WE CAN MOVE!!!! WE CAN RUN TOGETHER AFTER ALL!" I triumphantly texted. 
It was going to take some shuffling -- McKenzie was allowed to move backward into a later wave. However, she couldn't go into the first corral, which makes sense -- otherwise people way in the back of earlier waves would want to crowd into the first corrals of other waves, pushing out those who were seeded up front. So, I needed to move into a corral further back -- the best we could hope for was to be in Wave 3, Corral 2 together. But, oh, sweet relief. I've done marathons by myself, but I really couldn't picture doing this one -- The Big One -- without her. As McKenzie texted back, "Super happy!! I don't give a crap what wave or corral we are as long as we are together!!!"

Speaking of being "in this together," I really feel like we're bringing so much support with us -- it's been incredibly touching and overwhelming to be on the receiving end of so many well wishes from family, friends, loved ones, and co-workers. I've honestly been moved to tears by such expressions as a video card made by co-workers, and cards sent by family, and even a Boston Cream Pie that my "copy desk mom" Heather brought in on behalf of the desk. Yes, I cried over Boston Cream Pie. Then I ate it. It was delicious (hey -- carbs, right??). 

Boston Cream Pie! 

But seriously -- we can't thank everyone enough for how gosh darn NICE you've all been! I feel like I'm taking you all with me, and we're really all in this together. From the bottom of my shoes, thanks a million. 

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other.  -- V. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston ... Stronger.

Hello Sole Sister readers -- it has been a long time! Pardon me while I dust off this blog, but I do so with urgency because as of right now, Sole Sister M and I are less than ONE WEEK from running in the 118th Boston Marathon. 

This was a good mailbox day. 

I'm finding it hard to find adequate words to describe how excited, nervous, proud, and patriotic I'm feeling. Quite frankly, even though I'm currently elbows deep in packing lists and public transit schedules and itinerary timing, a large part of me still does not quite believe that we soon will be getting on a plane and flying to Boston. I'm not even quite sure that it will hit me once we get on the ground -- it could take standing on Boylston Street to realize that nearly two years of planning and hard work, both by us and our loved ones, has finally led to the culmination of a quiet little dream that was hatched at a Fricker's restaurant in Perrysburg.

It was a tough, snowy training cycle this time around for many runners, Sole Sisters included. 
In our northwest Ohio neck of the woods, spring is finally unfurling after what was the harshest winter in about 35 years. (Though today's forecast calls for an inch and a half of snow -- no, I'm not joking.) With every sunny day, people and plants are stretching toward the warming orb with the joy of a lazy sunning tabby cat.  Seriously folks, if you live someplace where you didn't chatter through the sub-zero temps brought by a succession of polar vortices or fill your snow shovels with hundreds of feet of snow, you can count yourself blessed (and let me know if you have room for a family of four). For M and me, a lot of our training was done indoors this year, until we absolutely had to get out and gut through longer runs in the (fill-in-the-blank) snow, slush, wind, hail, rain, etc. Our Christmas exchange gifts this year? For me -- YaxTrax. For her -- knee-high thermal running socks. To this winter, we say "sno-thank you." 

How cold was it? M's Salted Caramel GU froze mid-run during a 15-miler at Wildwood. 

My running attire could have doubled as bank-robber gear. 
I am a firm believer, however, that until you know the bad times, you can't fully appreciate the good times. That is what makes the promise of this particular spring so tantalizing. Spring is a time of renewal, rebirth. After the year that the city of Boston has had, dealing with the shock of the bombings at the marathon finish line, the tragic loss of life, and the gut-wrenching recoveries that the bombing victims have had to endure and still do endure, I'd like to think that part of the renewal process will be furthered by the return of runners to the nation's oldest annual marathon. 

This will be our very first Boston Marathon. This will be my first time in the city of Boston, period. When we made it our goal in March 2013 to qualify for Boston 2014, we had no way of knowing that when we did qualify, we'd be coming to run the 118th race as part of what is Boston's road to recovery.

 I want this race to be a giant victory parade for the city of Boston. I want this race to symbolize that in the heart of each of the 36,000 runners beats the cadence, "You will not take this from me." I want 26.2 miles of relentless footfalls to deliver the message, "You messed with the wrong people." I want the all of the spectators' cheers and joyful tears, the elites' blazing-fast victories (go Shalane!) and the back-of-the-packers's personal bests to herald the fact that this city is not only Boston Strong, but has grown Boston Stronger. 


We are heading out on Friday, and the race is this Monday, April 21. If you'd like to track our progress, you can do so in a couple of ways. 
  • For cell phone updates, text our bib numbers (Victoria) 18396 and (McKenzie) 16787 to  345678 
  • Get updates via email by registering for AT&T Athlete Alert 
Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement -- it's really helped us to bring our dreams to life and knowing that we have such a great support net back home really keeps us moving through the tough times. You guys are great!! 

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other.  -- V.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is it just me, or is it muddy in here? V at The Survival Race

(Addressing a recent meeting of Prissy Runners Anonymous)

Me: Hello, my name is Victoria. I'm a prissy runner, I like to wear sporty little skirts when I run, and I really, really like the color hot pink throughout my workout wardrobe. 

P.R.A. members: Hello, Victoria. Welcome. 

Me: Well friends, I've made what I believe to be a bold step in my attempt to branch out and be a more adventurous runner. Last weekend I did a few new things. 

P.R.A. members: Good for you. We hope you didn't break a nail. 

Me: I didn't break "a" nail. I broke several nails. 

P.R.A. members: (Collective gasp)

Me: I wore ... ORANGE. Bright orange. 

P.R.A. members: (Collective gasp, plus anxious murmuring ...)

Me: And shorts. Gray ones.

P.R.A. members: (Confused mutterings; one person awkwardly stands up, then sits back down.)

Me:  And while I was running, I jumped off balance beams, belly-crawled under fences in sand and mud, scaled giant hills, climbed a 10-foot wall, traversed a skinny rope bridge, high-kneed a tire field, hurdled 4-foot wide and high logs, scurried up ropes, sprinted in and along a creek, and flung myself up and over a cargo net. And, in my most impressive feat, ... I ran on GRASS. 

P.R.A. members: Who ARE you? It's like we don't even know you anymore. What is happening?? 

Me: And at the end, I flung myself and my sparkly gold headband into M-U-D. MUD. That's right. Dirt AND water,  mixed together. 

P.R.A. members: (Silent, as most have passed out.) 

That's right, dear readers, I've completed my very first (and probably not last) obstacle course race. The Survival Race took place on Sept. 28 in Holland, Ohio, right off Airport Highway in a big field/wooded/rivery-area. 

I took on this challenge solo because M had to take adorable family pictures with Jodi from JustMemorieZ. (side note: is there a word that's stronger than "adorable"? Because seriously: these girls take the most superlatively adorable pictures, hand to God. ) 

Coach B bowed out of the run because, well, he's just smarter than I am. He did come watch, schlep my stuff, take great pics, and point out all the mud that remained behind after I used the "shower" (read: garden hose with spray nozzle). But, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Months and months ago, I bought a Groupon for $30 for The Survival Race, then registered and pretty much forgot about it until about five days before the event, when runner friend Erin reminded me that it was coming up. Ooops. I looked up my wave time (10 a.m.) and noted that I was to report about an hour early to pick up my packet, check out the course and mingle with other racers ("Survivalists?").

 Coach B and I arrived around 9ish, navigated my Honda Civic through muddy ruts to park (the first obstacle), and then wound our way to the registration tables. A DJ was pumping house music and old favorites, kids were running around scaling their own mini-obstacles, and an announcer was cheering on racers through the P.A. system that blared above the music and general din. Pretty much organized chaos. 

Counter to other reviews I've read on this race series (and they're hard to find), it was pretty well organized, with signs clearly marking where runners should go for registration, bag drop-off, food, merch, and beer. Yes, beer. At 9 a.m. I made my way to the check-in kiosk, handed in my pre-printed and signed release forms (if you want things to go smoothly, you have to do your part too), and received my bib and swag. You know how much I like swag, so I was happy to receive the official black and white cotton race T-shirt (a little generic; no dates or locations on it) and a black-and-red drawstring backpack (I use these like crazy as go-bags for different sports & races). Attached to the bib was a bag-check tag and a free beer coupon (SCORE!).  So far, I was out $40 (it cost $10 to park) and had a race entry, shirt, backpack, and the promise of beer to show for it. 

Coach B and I milled around a bit checking out some of the obstacles and parked ourself by the mud pit -- the final challenge of the 5k. People looked clean up until this point, so I surmised that it might not be *too* taxing. But, wow, once you hit that mud, you were absolutely filthy. It's almost like some kind of coloring agent was added to the mud. I doubt it, really, but I never thought mud would be that, well, dirty. 

The announcement came for my wave, so I queued up with fellow adventure-seekers at the start line. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew I didn't want to be stuck waiting behind a line of people  when it came time to do the obstacles, so I started very close to the front.  I stretched because I had nothing else to do while I was waiting, hugged Coach B, then took off at the sound of the horn. 

Stretching ... what you do when there's nothing left to do. 
I have no idea what kind of pace I was running. My idea was to go quickly, but slowly enough to identify the tree roots that I was going to probably trip over. I'm not going to lie: the race was pretty much a big blur. There were at least a dozen obstacles, and early on I tried keeping a running list in my head so I could relate them all to you. 

So the first 1k went like this: run run run, jump over big sawhorses, run run run, high-step through field of tires, run run run, walk up and over a teeter-totter,  run run run, cross skinny rope bridge, run run run, and then a bunch of other obstacles that are all jumbled up. This is what I remember doing (while breathing heavier than I like to admit): 

I think I'm smiling, not grimacing ...

  • Crawling in the sand under a chain-link fence (I got turned around somehow and went out the side of it, then snagged my shorts)
  • Climbing up a big pitched wall using mountain climbing hand and foot holds (ropes were other options to get up and over it)
  • Climbing up a big rope to touch the top of a tree (I got sand in my eyes, panicked thinking about impending corneal abrasions, and didn't go all the way up)
  • Weaving through a spider-web-like network of stretchy bungee cords
  • Swinging on a rope over a mud pit
  • Scrambling down a muddy bank and running in a creek (No avoiding getting the shoes wet. Panicked thinking of leeches and water-borne pathogens.)
  • Running up a HUGE sandy hill ("Momentum is your friend," advised the obstacle volunteer)
  • Running up  and down a series of several hills
  • Grabbing a sandbag and lugging it in a loop
  • Crawling up a  very tall cargo net, slinging my leg over, and climbing down
  • Flinging myself in the mud and belly crawling through under wires

By the time the mud pit came, I was resigned to my fate. I jumped in and the mud was immediately cooling. Ahh, so that's why pigs do it. Not that pigs swing on rope swings and run three miles, but I'm sure they get hot, too. My braids dipped into the mud, and I crawled all the way through, but keeping my head up (I would NOT deal with mud in my face). The announcer called me "Muddy Pocohontas" as I got out and sprinted to the end. 

This is AFTER I cleaned up a little bit. 

I was definitely a mud ball. Even Coach B said he wouldn't want anything to do with me. I hit the "showers" and was mildly cleaner by the time I was done, having sprayed cold water through a garden hose on every square inch of myself that I could reach. Change of clothes and time for beer. This was not your run-of-the-mill swill. Great Black Swamp Brewing Co. was on hand, and I had the tastiest glass of Mosquito Red at 11 a.m. Better than a banana. I bought four tickets ($1 apiece) and handed Coach B a GBS Pale Ale. Not a bad way to start a morning. 

If you get a chance, try an obstacle course race, at least once. Be cautious and don't injure yourself, and take joy in acting like a kid again on the equivalent of grown-up playground equipment and mud. I thought it was a blast, and I hope to see you out there next time! 

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. -- V.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

With a Rebel Yell ... YES-FM Rebellion Run 5k report and a look ahead

Super Sauconys! We're both currently using the Kinvara 4 model.
Hey everybody! Happy autumn days to all of you. I hope you are enjoying the cool down in temperatures as much as we are!

Well, we Sole Sisters are getting down to the final weeks before our fall marathons -- V has the inaugural Northern Ohio Marathon on Oct. 13 and M has Detroit on Oct. 20. Summer fun waylaid our intended long training program, so we're now doing something like this:

Trying to find the right balance of mileage and speed work without injuring ourselves is the key.

But instead of an intended rest day Saturday, I (V here) tackled the YES-FM Rebellion Run 5k at Fallen Timbers. This was the first year the Christian radio station has put on a 5k, and it was great initial event that I hope to see grow with future editions.

Side note: while M sat this one out, Saturday was no day of slack for her, either. This lady, starting around 7 a.m., ran -- RAN -- the 8 or so miles it takes from her house to my house in Perrysburg to then catch a ride with me to Fallen Timbers and cheer me on. She also schlepped my stuff and provided hot coffee and chocolate milk at the finish line -- what a friend, right??

Runner friends bring you chocolate milk at the finish line. And they don't look alarmed if you appear to be ready to hurl. 

The race started near the Red Robin at the Shops at Fallen Timbers, and I was immediately struck by how cheerful and helpful the volunteers were at the sign-up tables and throughout. One nice woman stopped us and said, "Wow, you look like a runner!" Well, that just made my day and also made me giggle.

Many of you know that I am an absolute sucker for swag. Seriously, it's one of my favorite things about running. Dangle a little plastic trinket, a free pair of shoelaces, or a water bottle in front of me -- I'm a-running. The Rebellion Run swag bag was great and a pleasant surprise, especially for a first-time event.

Swag city!  

Check it out: free Chick-fil-A and two appetizers from Granite City, and the ever-popular Dave's sealed envelope (Is it free socks? Is it a discount on purchase? Is it a $500 shopping spree? Is it money off sandals you likely won't buy?), a letter opener, and a frisbee, along with lots of literature. Nicely done.

It came time for the start, and it was well-organized -- you'd expect a radio station to have good audio, and they did; no problems at all hearing that it was time to line up. A nice prayer was said interceding on behalf of the runners, and with a blast from an air horn, we were off.

The course took us through the "main drag" of Fallen Timbers, then we turned out on the bike path toward the Jerome Road entrance of the Wabash Cannonball Trail. There was a water stop around the 1-mile mark, which with the loop became the water stop around the 2-mile mark as well.

 I decided before the race, with M's help, that I'd try to keep it at a steady 7-minute mile for the first two, then bring it on for the last mile.  This differs from my run-until-you-are-exhausted first mile, then gut it out plan, which really isn't much of a strategy at all.

This plan kept me on the elbow of a skilled female runner for most of the first half of the race. It's always a tough judgment -- just how close do you stay to someone in a race? I don't want to be intrusive, but I don't want to ease off the pace, either. She and I traded the lead around the mile and half mark, then she came back in front of me around mile 2. At that point, I felt good and the thought came into my head that I could actually be the overall women's winner, if I could push it some. And then I thought, "hey, I could actually WIN something." That was it -- the inner swag hunter in me said "kick it into gear, woman."

Watch out, kids, zombies are chasing me. 

I drew on the experience of our recently completed Yasso 800s, and willed myself to dig deep and go go go. I passed the woman in front of me, and I was too nervous to look behind me and too nervous to even think about slowing down. I knew no one else was in front of me, and I looked at my Garmin: 2.65 miles completed. It crossed my mind that maybe I made the move too early, and I tried to swallow down the fear that I would slow down and get caught. The turn into Fallen Timbers came quickly, and I knew that it was the last turn I'd have to make before I could see the finish line. I still didn't look behind me; I had no idea if she was on my heels or if she had fallen back.

It didn't matter: I could see the end. I knew this would not be my PR race, but I knew that I'd never once been the first woman to cross a finish line in any of my races. I could see M and her bright smile, and I could see my friends John and Raynae and their son, Logan, too. I pushed and ran, and crossed the line, gratefully accepting the Popsicle stick that signified I was the fourth finisher, and the first woman. I paused, dry-heaved once, twice, tried to breathe, looked at the concerned folks at the finisher's table who were waiting for me to turn in the Popsicle stick (who also looked like they wouldn't want it if I puked on myself), smiled to myself at their expressions, and then made it to the table and logged my name and time (it was just over a 22; in the dry-heaving I forgot to stop both my Garmin and my Nike+, and I don't see results posted yet).

M delivered hug, coffee, and chocolate milk, in that order, and we waited and cheered the rest of the field. There was a little mix-up over the reading of the overall women's and women's masters division winners, but hey, no one said coordinating a 5k was easy, lol. It was a great experience, and I commend YES-FM, the volunteers and the sponsors for a great event.

One of my new favorite shirts. Soooo soft and comfy.

In other business -- This is a big, nerve-wracking week. This is the week when we find out whether M gets accepted to run in Boston. Please: Direct all good vibes her way. We'll know by Wednesday, and you can be sure we'll let YOU know how it goes. Thanks in advance for the karmic boost.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. -- V.  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

We Did It! Soaring Eagle Boy Scout Half Marathon recap

Hey all! Happy Labor Day weekend. V here from slightly sunny Toledo. M and I decided to celebrate Labor Day by, well, laboring. Aug. 31 brought the 5th annual Soaring Eagle Boy Scout Half Marathon in fast & flat Bowling Green, Ohio. Quite a ways back we had decided this would be one on our race calendar, and, despite not sticking to a specific training program, darn it if we weren't going to do this race. Which, after assessing the sometimes questionable nutrition choices and unquestionable beer consumption in which we've indulged this summer, we decided was not going to be so much a race as it would be a run. 

M is training for the Detroit Free Press marathon on Oct. 20 (her fourth running of it!) and  I'm in for the Northern Ohio Marathon on Oct. 13. We figured getting a 13.1 long run in (with a bunch of other people) would be a great springboard for our training. 

The Boy Scout half is one that M's done at least twice, if not three times before, and this was my first experience with the race run. I have to say even though the course meandered for about nine miles through nothing but cornfields and soybean patches, I quite enjoyed the run. Since we were using this for training, I employed my "Chatty Cathy Offense." I was determined to talk our way out of this run, just to keep our minds from veering into scary territory that might include thoughts of "hey, are we really prepared to do this" and "oh, gee, I haven't run this far outside since, let's see, APRIL." I was worried at first that M would be annoyed that I was doing this, since in a race situation we do NOT talk, but I know that if she was bugged, she'd feel free to tell me (in a loving way, of course). 

Pre-race faces. Just look confident, right? 

The hydration stations were plentiful and pleasantly staffed by volunteers young and not as young. I took water at every station, thirsty or not, to sip and dump on my back. The kids seeking high-fives were my favorites. That was another fun thing about making this a run, and not a race. If I'm racing, I'm not going to go out of my way to expend energy to slap five with someone. But, really, after seeing how excited some of these kids got, I'm going to revise that policy. It's fun to reach out and helps me express my gratitude for the people who volunteer their time to make it possible for us runners to get out there and do our thing. Who knows, for a young girl, a high-five from a bunch of runners could inspire a future Shalane Flanagan. And we need more Shalanes, lol. 

We sisters hung together until about mile 10. I started to feel the need for speed as soon as I put my earbuds in. I don't know what it is about "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel, but that song makes me move. Weird, right? Once I knew I had 10 miles in, I was able to relax and reel off the last three miles, with the last one being the fastest, at 7:52. I crossed at a clock time of 1:54.30 (chip times aren't available yet), and M was close on my heels to notch another sub-2 hour half for herself. She took home 1st in age group, and I was 3rd in mine (first race organized run as a 35 year old!). 

Medals & pint glasses for age-group winners. Can't go wrong. 

I'm so looking forward to getting deep with this marathon training, now that I feel more confident after this half. If you're looking for a good, well-organized, and fast and flat half, I recommend the Soaring Eagle Boy Scout half! Thanks for checking out the recap. 

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. -- V.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Change is a Good Thing -- Welcome Back

Wobble, wobble, wobble, WACK!! KaBLAM. POW!!! Stumble-tumble-roll, roll, roll. Owie owie owie OUCH! 

What was THAT, you ask? Well, that was me. Falling off the fitness wagon. I won't say I've been totally unhealthy, I haven't, but I have been slowly backsliding from where I think my potential fit level is. I've gained a little weight (no one would really notice but me), my fast doesn't come as easily, and I'm strong, but not as strong as I could be. Do you know what the awesome thing about this is, though? These are all things that are within my control, and I can choose to get back up to the level where I want to be. 

Summer really can be a tough time to train, with vacation time, kids being out of school, hotter days, and general fun things to do that pop up. Who'd rather do a long run than attend a family barbecue? Well, not this girl. This is one reason that I generally do not like fall marathons -- I just have such a hard time consistently training for them. Strange as it might sound, I'd much rather wake up early in January and knock out a 14 miler when it's 14 degrees out than run outside in the summer. 

This is in full view from my treadmill. Helps keep the mental meanies out of my way.

Falling off the wagon doesn't just have a physical effect on me -- it also wreaks havoc with my mental game. And even when I'm at my fittest, my biggest challenge is always shutting up the voices of self-doubt that can creep up on me during a run -- most especially during a race. These voices generally say, "Why are you doing this?" "This is stupid; you aren't really a runner." "Remember when you dropped out of that 800-meter race in high school? You're still not an athlete." "I can hear your heart beating. And, you just got passed. Ugh." And so on. If that's what I'm facing when I logically know I'm physically able to conquer anything, you can believe the chorus thrums louder when I start to skip workouts. 

Yes, Virginia, there really are fit girl problems. That sounds like fodder for another blog post. 

So, this is my rededication to running, my commit to fit. While our kids are over just part-time during the week, having them back in school provides more of a routine for me that I can take advantage of.  (Sidebar: I commend all of you caregivers who are working your healthy routines while doing parenting 100% of the time, day in, day out. You are my heroes and are setting a great example for your kids. Kudos.) Also, I had nothing to prepare for during the summer. There was no greater cause for me to be disciplined. Well, I am going to do at least a half in October, if not the full. I'm planning to register for the inaugural Northern Ohio marathon, which is Oct. 13 in Lake County, Ohio, home to the lovely family of Coach B. Lesson learned: Be working toward something. Set goals and don't meander aimlessly. Focus your energy, be it in the gym, on the road, at work. Know what you are working toward, otherwise you'll go in a circle and not upward. 

The swag for the Northern Ohio marathon includes a Brooks Essential half-zip pullover. I'm IN.  

As a springboard,  I'm somewhat crazily doing a half marathon this Saturday in Bowling Green. I'm not as prepared as I'd necessarily like to be, but M and I both agreed we're viewing this not so much as a "race" as it is a "run." :-) I passed the tests I'd set for myself to see if tackling this half was feasible. I wanted to run 5 on Tuesday, then 10 on Thursday. I did both of those, but on a treadmill. In air-conditioning. I'll rest Friday, and try to focus on miles and not time on Saturday morning. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. 

As far as the blog goes, I've got to be honest: The RW Streak challenge had me b-u-r-n-e-d out. The collages. The mileage. The entries ("I ran. I ran again. I ran alone. I ran with M. I ran, it hurt. I ran, it felt good.).  It just got to be too much. SO: I pledge to write once a week at minimum, on a thought-out topic. I'm not intending my portion of the blog to be a workout diary, but I'll include a little bit of what I'm up to, just to stay accountable. I know M is dedicated to her fitness and her running, and she's an Advocare rep now, too, so if you need the supplement hookup and other amazing products, she is your woman! Link to M's Advocare Site

M is so dedicated that even disgusting dive-bombing bugs wouldn't keep her from completing a muggy night run. I took the treadmill route. I'm a bug-fearing wuss. M is not. 

If you have questions, comments, suggestions, our email inbox is always open ( and we would love to hear from you and what you are up to, and what your goals are! Keep in touch!!! 

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other.  -- V.   

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Rundown -- Thoughts on The 39-Day Streak

Hello all! V here again. Well, we did it. M and I made it through 39 days straight of running -- through heat, wind, rain, chill, on treadmills, separately, together, with a bear, through refinery fumes, one port-a-potty stop, one time after a margarita, early in the morning, sometimes at night, sometimes right before midnight, on vacations, through the woods, during 5K personal-best times, during legs-like-lead times, and even as part of a 3,000-mile cross country relay.

I'm reflecting on completing the 39 days, and I realize that there were positives and negatives to undertaking the endeavor. On the pro side, this was a great way to build up a solid mileage base. Obviously, it forced me to be consistent. I also am a lot better about just getting outside and getting a run done -- the streak made me cut back on procrastination in that I learned to be ALWAYS ready to run. My gear was always ready, and running every day helped ensure I didn't misplace the things I need to get out the door (headphones, gum, armband, shoes, socks, CLEAN running clothes). I can also take photos while "on the run," which I'm sure will be a valuable skill someday -- say if I'm being chased by a giraffe while on safari somewhere. I also am glad to have run so often because it gave me a chance to explore new areas in which to run, rather than just doing the same-old, same-old path. A new location definitely keeps me engaged while running.

Negatively, I didn't really have time to actually "work" on things I wanted to. Speed work and hill work pretty much went out the window because I didn't have adequate time to recover from them. Those are two key elements to getting faster in a 5K, and while my 5K time improved, it didn't go down by that much from the Memorial Day race (21:59) to the July 4 race (21:38). I'm not complaining about going deeper into the 21's though, mind you! It was also hard to deal with injury and soreness that arose. The metatarsal pain I experienced about midway through the streak finally did go away, but I really had to baby my foot and discontinue wearing any kind of heeled shoe (I still haven't worn heels since June 12) and I used a foot pad for a week or so. Not streaking might have fixed that sooner, but it did give me an opportunity to be more OK with running through pain. I learned that I have to maintain my muscles better between runs, as well. The Stick became my friend -- otherwise my calves were like rocks for the first 2 miles of every outing.

The summer run streak was a great learning experience, and I'm really glad to have taken it on and accomplished it. That being said, I'm really looking forward to my 14-week marathon training program, which has both massage and rest days built in! I'm also looking forward to NOT making a collage every. single. day. Thank you for bearing with us through this streak, and here's to more fun runs and interesting blog posts to share with you to come!

On Day 40, I rested with a whole-wheat English muffin, Biscoff spread (jars of it were given away at Day 39's Starr Spangled 5K,) and watched "Million Dollar Baby." I'm back on the run tomorrow!