Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking back at 2014, looking forward to 2015....

2014 Review:
·         Completed the Inaugural Dopey Challenge at Disney World

·         Ran my 3rd Disney marathon
·         Finally completed Disney’s Coast-to-Coast Challenge after being wait-listed in 2011.  Added California to the list of states I ran a race in and went home with 11 Disney medals for the year!
All these medals = one expensive year!
·         Incorporated more 5K races into my race schedule.
·         Discovered virtual races which typically benefit a good cause, are extremely convenient, and save $$$
·         Ran 14 half marathons, with my fastest being the Route 66 Half Marathon in Litchfield, IL
Medal haul for 2014

·         Was a race ambassador for Diva Dash 5K, Glow in the Park 5K, Hot Chocolate 5K and 15K, and the MO’ Cowbell race series
·         Ran my 2nd relay and met some great people along the way

I only knew 2/5 other runners before race day!

Goals for 2015:
·         Run more consistently and track my mileage.
·         Get closer to my 2010 half marathon PR of 2:20.  Joined Fleet Feet’s spring half marathon training group to help with this goal.
·         Continue being an ambassador for the MO’ Cowbell race series as well as the St. Louis Hot Chocolate 5K and 15K.
·         Race in at least one new state.  So far I have signed up for the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in April.

I am looking forward to 2015 and all the mileage it will include!  Have a great, safe, and Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fleet Feet Hip Mobility Class and Cycling = soreness!

Last week I took another class through Fleet Feet - St. Louis called Hip Mobility/Strength.  For some reason I thought this class was meant to be a one-time, get the information and put it to use workshop but when I arrived, the other participant knew the exercises because she had taken the class almost 20 times this year.  I pasted the class description below:

Tight hips, sore hips, this is the class FOR hips. Lack of mobility in the hips is not only one of the most common causes of injury in runners, walkers and triathletes, but it also inhibits and decreases performance. By focusing on full-range hip motion through a variety of targeted exercises, this class improves hip mobility and increases strength.
Class duration: 45 minutes.
We went through various hip/adductor/abductor exercises for 45 minutes straight, so I can't remember everything we went over but some of the exercises we went through were:

  • Walking lunges, forwards and backwards
  • Lateral squats
  • Hip circles
  • Clam leg lifts with and without resistance band
  • Double leg glute bridge
You can also find good exercises on You Tube from other trainers and gyms.  After class I was talking to the other participant about the long-term benefits of the class and she said that she started having hip pain during her first marathon, so she started taking this class frequently and has been fine ever since.  So fine in fact that she said she is running 11 half marathons in April.  WOW!  That is what I love about going to these classes, being a race ambassador, and being part of running clubs.  You have your own list of accomplishments and you feel pretty proud of them, and then you talk to another runner about their accomplishments and you are suddenly humbled, yet inspired at the same time.

Saturday morning I was still a bit sore between the last week of boot camp and the hip mobility class, but I got up early to get to the 1st cycling class.  I haven't taken a cycling class in several months and my road bike has sat on the trainer in my apartment unused for months as well.  I wanted something with a high calorie burn that would work my legs so that I could really stretch them out afterwards since my hamstrings have been so tight.  This class gave me exactly what I was looking for.  My face was bright red and I was pretty much breathless by the end of the class, so I know my calorie burn was decent. Afterwards, I spent about 10 minutes just stretching my legs, which felt amazing!  I think I will try to take this cycling class again for the next several Saturdays until the Fleet Feet Half Marathon training program begins January 24th.  I am going to keep my mileage low for the next couple weeks to give myself a break and try to incorporate more stretching so that I am back up and rebooted by late January.

Have a great week everyone and Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hot Chocolate 5K (not 15K as originally planned)

This weekend I ran the Hot Chocolate 5K in downtown St. Louis.  I applied to become an ambassador for this race earlier this year and was accepted!  For the most part, I kept the local running stores stocked with race flyers and I also promoted it on social media but then I also was able to work the booth for the race at the Rock 'n' Roll expo, which was a lot of fun.  All that hard work ended up earning me a free entry as well as a free merchandise item, so I was very pleased with my ambassador experience.

The expo opened at noon on Friday and was held at Union Station.  I took a half day off of work because I worked the booth for another race I am an ambassador for, the MO' Cowbell race series which now includes a base camp-style, five-person relay in May.  Before my shift at the MO' Cowbell booth, I picked up my packet and free merchandise item as well as my parents' packets.  There were two things that I LOVED about this expo: the amount of volunteer support AND the coat try-on and exchange area.  This is the first time I have come across a try-on and exchange option, well at least one that was this organized.  I took a few pictures because I was so impressed.

What a great idea!
At the expo and then also at the Start on Sunday
Hot chocolate and treats to prepare us for race day

Coming to a city near you!
Sweet merchandise

My race swag:

If you registered with my code, you also got a free hat like my mom and I did 
My free merchandise item, complete with thumb holes and adjustable neck collar

From 2:00 p.m. until about 4:30, I was working the MO' Cowbell booth.  I could tell that it was getting busier as people were getting off work but I knew that the busiest day would be Saturday.

I ended up staying with my parents at the Double Tree-Union Station Saturday night.  Although I had to pay to park overnight, being able to "sleep in" until 6:20 a.m. and walk to the race a half hour before the start made it completely worth the expense.  In fact, most of the bigger races in St. Louis start and finish in that general area so this hotel would be perfect place to stay.  Check out their website for pictures of the historic hotel.  I really can't describe how beautiful it is with words alone.

This race had a wave start and the corrals were to be released three minutes apart.  As I was walking to my Corral F, I came across several other MO' Bassadors and runners I had met at the Katy 80 relay last spring.  Even though I live in this area, it was still a surprise to unintentionally see this group in the mass of thousands of runners.  There were plenty of porta potties near the corrals and the pre-race area and setup were well-organized.

I had signed up for the 15K and had every intention of running it, but my hamstring had other plans.  About two miles in and just before the 5K and 15K courses split, my right hamstring started cramping up.  At that point I started thinking about how nice it would be to be almost at the finish rather than having seven more miles to go.  So at the split, I decided to take the 5K route because even after stopping to stretch for a few seconds, the tingling was still present.

As you finished you were greeted by volunteers and then you proceeded to the bottled water.  Then you exited the finisher's shoot and walked into the park where there was a merchandise tent as well as the.....finisher's mug filled with hot chocolate and fondue!  I picked the shortest line and I ended up picking the line where my co-workers were volunteering.

After finishing my goodies and hanging out with the parents, I came back to the finish around 11 to pick up discarded clothing and leftover bottled water and bananas with the co-workers who had volunteered earlier in the day.  We ended up bringing back three cases of bananas and 60+ cases of water that we distributed to our leisure department as well as our adult day program sites.  This part of race weekend was just as rewarding as running the race itself, and I am so glad that my co-workers also had a great time volunteering.  I am very happy to have been able to see this race from multiple perspectives: as a race ambassador, as a runner, and as a volunteer.  Be sure to check out the Hot Chocolate race website to see where your closest race is and if you happen to be in the St. Louis area, I should have a registration code for you for our race next spring.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Spring Half Marathon Training Program and Elf Run Virtual 5K

This week absolutely flew by!  About mid-week I received an email from Fleet Feet containing information about their Spring half marathon training program, which I signed up for a few weeks ago.  When I originally saw the email advertising this training program I was interested until I saw the price.  At that point I decided to take advantage of the free half marathon training program offered by another running store in town. But I knew the truth.  I knew that I had signed up for the free training program twice already and had only run with the group one time between those two training programs.  I also knew that I hadn't PR'd since the last time I was training with a group way back in 2010 at the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.  But what sold me was when I went to Fleet Feet for my caloric expenditure test, which was administered by one of the coaches of the half and full marathon training programs.  The way he described the program made it seem like the perfect fit for me and like it was everything I had been missing from my training routine.  So when I received a 15% off discount code via email for the Spring training program, I signed up.  Shortly after, I found out that a co-worker also signed up and plans to run her very first half marathon as the culmination of the training program.  It was a sign.

The email I received this week further proved that this program was going to be a good fit for me.  The email gave us details about the kick-off meeting in January, but also contained a survey to help the coaches determine which pace group we should be in.  The survey was a bit of an eye-opener for me.  It made me realize that I was totally slacking on my training and not running as much as I used to or as much as I "should be" before each race.  It was very hard for me to put my real weekly mileage and my real typical race pace on the survey.  I wanted to make myself appear faster to be in a faster pace group but as the coach explained to me during my caloric expenditure test, you have to start where you are and work towards your goal rather than just starting where you want to be.  This makes sense to me as I am typing it, yet it goes against what my original instinct would have been.  So I clicked "submit" on the survey and will happily work with whatever pace group I get put into.  I am really looking forward to this program starting in January and I will keep you posted as things progress.

Mid-morning today I went for a 5K run on the Katy Trail.  I had signed up for the Elf Run, which is a virtual race organized by another Midwestern runner as a fundraiser for St. Jude.  So today I ran the virtual 5K that she set up and yesterday she ran the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon.  I took a few pictures after my run this morning.
Katy Trail is a Missouri State Park
St. Charles is ready for the holidays!
The virtual 5K race medal
Be sure to check her blog later this week for her race recap: Run With Jess

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A bad week in St. Louis sandwiched by two positive events

We all know what happened after the grand jury announcement came.  I will never forget where I was that night.  I was working at the gym and I was glued to the closed captioning on one of the TV's along with the few remaining members who decided to stay and work out during and after the announcement.  I didn't sleep that night even though I am 10+ miles away.

The good news that came the morning before the announcement was that I had finally been matched through the I Run 4 Michael (IR4) program.  I first heard about this program during my yearly review at my full-time job (the non-profit) when my manager suggested I look into it because it all started because of a person we used to support.  Of course I Googled it as soon as I could and a few days later I got on the wait-list.  As I joined the Facebook groups while I waited to be matched, I started to realize how much this program has just exploded in popularity.  At one point I was #1,100-something on the wait-list!  Several months passed and in late November I saw that I was now in the low 100's.  Then I received an email saying that I was on the verge of being matched and then BOOM, I received my match the morning of the grand jury announcement.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.  This little bit of good news at the beginning of the week kept me going as I continued to hear bad news throughout the week of Thanksgiving.

The boyfriend, cat, and I went to my hometown for Thanksgiving and I decided to run a few times for my buddy while I was there.  I ran a little on my mom's treadmill on Black Friday and then went for a muddy run on Saturday at the local nature center.  I took the pictures below during my run.

After a run, bike ride, race, etc. you post about it to your own page or within the private I Run 4 Michael Facebook group and then tag the parent so that your buddy can see it.  It is a unique way to pay it forward, get to know someone you otherwise wouldn't have met, and stay motivated!  It doesn't have to cost anything and it takes as much or as little time as you want.  I will tell you more about my buddy as I get to know her, so stay tuned!

The other positive event came at the end of the week, after I got back to St. Louis from my hometown.  I mentioned Medals 4 Mettle in my Monumental Half Marathon post because it was started by a Dr. in Indianapolis and they had a table at the Monumental expo.  I had gone to one medal distribution with Medals 4 Mettle at Children's Hospital last spring, and it moved me to tears.  Most of our local hospitals will only allow us to come in on weekdays, but Ranken Jordan allowed us to come in on a Sunday this time.  If you are not familiar with Medals 4 Mettle, it is a charity that has chapters all over the country and even internationally now.  They collect medals from runners who have completed half and full marathons or triathlons and then they remove the original race ribbon and replace it with a Medals 4 Mettle ribbon.  Then volunteers take them to children's hospitals to distribute them to patients who are running a much more difficult race than most runners can imagine.  We give these medals to the patients to let them know that they are always in our thoughts and prayers and we know how hard their battles can be.  Each time we give a medal to a patient we give a little speech.  Most of the time the children don't quite understand why we are there but the parents frequently shed a few tears.  Then I shed tears seeing them.  It is just an amazing experience so if you have a chapter near you and can part with any of your medals, consider donating them to Medals 4 Mettle or going to a medal distribution at a local hospital.

Medals we distributed

My new Medals 4 Mettle t-shirt (portion of the proceeds going to the St. Louis Chapter)

Our volunteer group from last Sunday.  I am in the green (before I received my new shirt).

Have a great week everyone!