Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2

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We’re all mental…

Most people new to running immediately jump in, focusing on the physical exercises and changes. Those are all helpful, but as those who stick with it learn, running isn’t a physical sport – it’s a mental sport.

When I began running, I would frequently stop for walk breaks, but I noticed that at the finish line I still had energy. I didn’t fall over like those who finish in the front of the pack. At the time, I thought it was just because I wasn’t running a 16:00 5k. Partly, yes. But that’s not the only reason. The reason I finished with energy to spare was because I wasn’t putting it all out on the run.

It took me a while – okay, several years – to learn that the mental component of running is just as important as the physical component. Our bodies are designed to avoid pain and suffering. If you try stretching beyond your comfort zone, your body sends pain messages to the brain telling you to stop. But if you pass out, your ligaments and joints will stretch well beyond your comfort zone – simply because there are no messages telling you to stop. (I just read an article on this a few weeks ago, but can’t find it right now – as soon as I do I’ll post a link).

The same happens with running. “Your mind, not your body, gets the final say in determining how fast you run in races.” One of the most important components of training is training your mind. Your mind is what makes the final decision between stopping and going. Your mind will tell you to stop when there’s pain, but you need to determine when it’s pushing-it pain versus actual, injurious pain. I found out, while training for the Baltimore Half back in 2012, that you can silence your mind – that training cycle was the first time I ever ran two miles non-stop. And last year, during the Sole of the City 10k, I experienced yet again what happens when you tell your mind to shut it – I ran 4 miles non-stop for the first time ever. Unfortunately, I also experienced the downside of telling your mind to mind its own business when I had my stress fracture last year. I had been dealing with persistent shin splints, and didn’t realize when it had gone from annoying pain to actual pain, and ran myself towards 3 months in a walking boot.

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You’ll never know what your body – and mind – are capable of if you just keep going to the end of your comfort zone. Only by pushing through the discomfort, only by pushing your own boundaries, will you ever discover what you’re truly capable of. Only when you find out what you’re truly capable of will you be amazed by just how much you can do.


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Real food

Last night the local farm market announced that they’ll be opening mid-May, which makes me oh-so-happy 🙂 (it seems spring really will happen… at some point…)

And then I saw this article posted on Be Well Philly, with substantial evidence that eating real food is healthier for you than any of those silly fad diets everyone swears by:

I love growing my own veggies and using them in my meals – it’s so much easier to include healthy items when a) all you have to do is go out your back door to pick them and b) you’ve put the time and energy into growing them. If I could, I’d have like an acre of fruits and veggies. But alas, it’s not in the cards right now. There’s just something so much more satisfying about cooking that gorgeous red pepper you grew from scratch rather than something you picked up at the store.

What are your favorite veggies? What are your favorite foods to grow?


Race Report: Kelly St. Patrick’s Day 5k

FINALLY – a real race report! (woohoo!)

Today was my first race since I broke my leg in August (the Back to Football 5k hobble in my walking boot totally doesn’t count as a proper race). A couple of months ago my dad approached me about doing this race, which we had done together in 2009. He really wanted to do this race, so I signed up as well. Unfortunately, winter derailed both of our training plans, so going into this I at least didn’t have high hopes. My goals as of Friday were a) to finish injury-free and b) if that went according to plan, in under 38:00 minutes.

Yesterday was gorgeous – perfect race weather. 60 and sunny. Today? 40 and overcast (with snow falling as I type this…. grr). This was kind of an odd temperature and I wasn’t 100% sure how to dress for it, so I started off in one outfit, and ended up changing into lighter clothes just before the race. We lined up with 5,000 of our closest green-clad friends and eagerly awaited the gun.

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The race starts off in the Mount Vernon neighborhood and goes downhill for the first half-mile (whee!), and then winds around the Inner Harbor and doubles back on itself before finishing right downtown at Power Plant Live, with a fantastic after party. I’m always leery of downhill starts because it’s so easy to get ahead of yourself. I made sure to keep my pace slower than most of the people whizzing past me, but still had to weave around a lot of walkers (and pull my pants up at the same time… finding out that your running pants are too big? awesome news. finding that out as you toe the line for your race? not so awesome).

The course was still pretty crowded through the first two turns and towards mile 1, where I looked down and saw that I had done a 9:58 mile! Guess I wasn’t as reserved in my pace as I thought! Mile 2 was an out and back along Key Highway, which is pretty flat, but the road isn’t in the best shape – I spent a lot of time looking at the ground so I wouldn’t twist my ankle, only to literally run into some more walkers (my bad). I passed my dad on his in-bound lap as I was heading back out and gave him the biggest cheer I could muster, which really wasn’t all that big. When I hit mile 2, I decided that I felt good enough that I would keep running all the way to the end. I’ve never run a race completely, start to finish. Just before mile 3 I had a bit of heartburn which slowed me up a bit, but the finish was just around the corner and I saw my mom and husband on the sideline, so I hit the afterburners.

You can imagine my surprise when I looked at my Garmin and saw an unofficial time of 34:33!! This was later confirmed when they posted the official times online. I can’t believe how well this race went, considering how little time I’ve had to run outdoors this winter. I’ve logged nearly 100 miles indoors since the New Year, but that just isn’t the same as hitting the pavement.

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My dad finished his second 5k ever a little while after me. Although I don’t think he was quite as pleased with his finish, it’s still a great jumping off point for future races.

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My confidence wasn’t high going into this race, but I think this goes to show just how much progress I really have made over the last seven months. My physical therapist gave me some great exercises to fix my muscular imbalances as well as give me a better strength base for the season and really pushed me on the Alter G and treadmill; the cardio and strength work that I’ve been doing on my own just continued to build on this. It sucks when Mother Nature goes bat crap crazy on us like she has this winter, but not all is lost if you can adapt. I’m incredibly fortunate to have gym equipment in my house, so I never have to brave the elements to get to the gym (just hope that we don’t lost power!). I only have 4 weeks until my 10k, but I think that’s enough time to get in better racing shape. I may not break a PR on that one, but that’s okay – my goal for this year isn’t speed, but to stay injury-free.


Bucket List Race

You know you have one – a list of your absolute dream/must-do races. Some are probably more realistic than others (helloooo, Antarctic Marathon), but you’ve probably got a list of at least one. I have one, and it’s quite extensive.

There’s one race on there that I’ve been talking about for years – the Dreaded Druid Hills. It’s put on by Falls Road Running, which puts on my favorite, albeit less brutal, winter race, the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler. Unlike the Celtic Solstice, which is on/around the winter solstice, the Dreaded Druid Hills is generally held on one of the hottest, muggiest days of the year (interested yet?) and is 6.2 miles of torturous hills. Despite its reputation as a killer race, I’ve been drawn to it since I first heard about it. I hoped to be ready for it last year, but as injury-raddled as I was I decided to sit it out and volunteer instead. It’s a fairly small race, usually around 500 runners or so, but the sense of camaraderie is infective. Everyone’s there for the challenge (and bragging rights).


Well, I finally took the plunge. I registered this morning!! I’m a little nervous, but super looking forward to it. Maybe the cabin fever of this winter is to blame? Either way, I’ve got 15 weeks to get ready, which should be more than reasonable, assuming my leg plays nice this year.

For some sadistic reason I love running hills, so this seems like a great excuse to really focus on hills, which should also ramp up my fall half training quite a bit. I’m still on the fence as to what my big fall race will be, but if it’s the Baltimore Half again, I WILL be prepared for those hills this year.

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Hey, Look! She’s Alive!!

Yes, yes, I am, in fact, still alive. As most of you can attest, this has been once hellacious winter. First it snowed, and then it snowed again, and then it got to Siberian levels of frigid, then we got half an inch of ice (and were without power for nearly 36 hours), and then, to add insult to injury, mother nature surprised us with 24″ of snow. And more cold. Not counting what snow we got in December, we have had snow on the ground nearly every (EVERY!) day since New Year’s Day. And I do not live in Montana.

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After oh so many workouts in my basement (thank you for keeping me somewhat sane, DVRed Olympics!), and more snow, I finally waved my little white flag and flew the coup for Florida. I heart my friends who have a vacation home in Florida. They were so kind as to invite me just before the 24″ of snow came in, and when I saw that on the forecast, it didn’t really take a whole lot of arm twisting to convince me to go. Only to come back to see more snow. Ugh.

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(I heart Johnny and Tara.)

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But when I got back last week, it suddenly dawned on me – I have a 5k coming up! And I haven’t run in weeeeeks! Ahhh!!

Despite the fact that my favorite trail is still covered in snow and ice, I took advantage of a somewhat warm day and hit up the closed road at the reservoir this morning. It was a fairly nice morning (40 degrees and sunny), but holy *#@$! The wind at the reservoir was beyond bitter. And my rosacea is currently punishing me for deciding to continue on. But, I got a run in. I did more walking than running, but it was my first run on the road since August (and it was particularly poignant because this is the place where I think I really did my leg in back then). I made sure to focus on fixing all the issues my PT and I worked on – shorter strides, quicker turnover, not letting my hips collapse, etc . It was not a pleasant run, but it was a run – an outdoor run. And I’ll take that for now.

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And the other great part about today? It’s 6:40pm and the sun is still up!! I love daylight saving. Even if I can’t have warm, I will happily accept more sunlight.