Running in Public

Running has been a solitary journey for me. I’ve never claimed otherwise. For me, every single run (excluding paid races) has been solo.

Until now.

Beginning this month, my best friend (Theresa) and I started running together. Theresa has run since she was a teenager, but she is not a distance runner (yet!). So far the majority of her runs have been aimed toward 5k races, with a single 10k under her belt. She’s faster than me, though, by quite a bit. Where I might naturally fall into a 14:00 pace, she’s closer to 11:00.

We’ve been a natural fit. I can keep pushing us to do “one more lap” and run just a little farther. She pushes us (well, mostly me) to run faster. Our runs have mostly been intervals(ish) – run for a given distance, walk for a given distance.

When we run together, I go to her house and we run in and around a nearby park. Our first week or two were a bit slow – only about two days of running per week. This week has been our most intense week of running so far, with runs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We intentionally took the day off today (Thursday) to rest.

Beyond the runner’s tan and the nightly tiredness, I can tell the intervals are pushing me. Running faster, for me, is not natural. It is difficult, sometimes almost impossible, for me to push myself when I am alone. When I’m with Theresa, though, she’s a built in “rabbit” that I can use to gauge my pace. I push myself. I run faster than I would if I was running alone. No, it’s not easy, not by a long shot. And it’s totally worth it.

I’m still cautious about running with people. It’s such a personal experience for me, and I’m not willing to share that with just anyone. Running with a buddy is new to me. But so far, I’m thanking my lucky stars for this summer and my old friend/new running buddy. It’s been incredible, and it’s only getting better.

Happy Birthdays and Half Marathons

T minus 10 hours.

I feel like there’s so much I need to catch up on, but I know I’ll never blog if I wait until I have time. 

Yesterday was my 34th birthday. It was an amazing day. Dinner at Joe’s KC and birthday cake with my friends. 

Tomorrow morning I’m running the Independence Half Marathon. My training has gone well. Not over-the-top amazing, but well. Optimistic me is hoping for a PR, something under 3:13. Realistic me knows that 3:30 would be a very reasonable achievement. 

My nerves are okay. I remind myself – constantly! – that however I run will be great. I know I can run, and I will do my best, and that will be enough.

I picked up my tshirt, race bib, and chip timer today. 

Now breathe. Just breathe….

Beastly bonk-inducing breezes and infectious illnesses

We had a *slightly* breezy weekend. Sustained winds of, oh, 20mph or more.

I went for an 8.5-mile long run on Saturday, determined to run and confident that I could run through the wind. I wouldn’t let a little breeze stop me…

I didn’t take any fuel with me. I told myself that this would be about mental training and proving my toughness. In hindsight, I was lazy.

The first four miles or so were uneventful. I reminded myself, frequently, to slow down – since I had no fuel, I knew I couldn’t overdo it on my pace. The weather was beautiful, and I ran (mostly) comfortably. I was running into the wind, but I frequently reminded myself that it would be easier going back.

The next two miles were harder. Even with the wind at my back, I was beginning to feel the effects of the run. I silently cheered for myself (“You’re doing great! Keep pushing! Strong!”) and pushed through my body’s desire to rest.

The sixth mile was when it really hit me. It was HARD. I was running up the last significant hill, and my legs were screaming. For lack of a better description, my mind was shutting down. I could only manage to put together short, cliche sentences to (silently) cheer myself on (like “keep running”, “you can do it”, etc.). It took everything in me to force myself to keep moving.

I hit mile 7 at the top of the hill, and that was it. I’d pushed, pushed, pushed, but now I could push no more. It was almost like a flip had switched in my head. I was pushing, I was hanging on, and all of a sudden I was done. I sat on a low retaining wall for a few minutes to catch my breath.

I resumed my run, but the last mile and a half was BRUTAL. My legs were heavy, and my body just fought me every step of the way!

It wasn’t until after I got home and cleaned up that I realized what I’d experienced – a bonk, hitting the wall, one of my most severe bonks ever.

The exhaustion clung to me for the remainder of the afternoon. I was able to finish some errands, but I had to push myself. I was very relieved when I finally fell into bed!

Unfortunately, a long night’s sleep was not meant to be. I woke up to the sound of thunderstorms around 2am, tossed and turned for a few more hours, and got out of bed at 6am Sunday morning. I dragged myself through the day on Sunday, and by Sunday evening I knew that I was fighting a cold virus on top of my spring allergies. It was a hard, hard day.

Here’s hoping that the remainder of the week is stronger!

Long runs, more sport beans, and a new pair of shoes!

Last Saturday I did another long run, just under eight and a half miles (8.42). I’ve written bits and pieces all week, and I’m just now getting a chance to collect my thoughts on the run.

This run at least began difficultly. I’d been looking forward to this long run all week, but I didn’t sleep well the night before. I was sluggish and drowsy, but determined. The first half-mile was pretty torturous, and it wasn’t until a mile into the run that I really started to find my rhythm.

Ironically, being tired seemed to help me from starting the run too quickly. I didn’t struggle at all to keep my pace down during the first couple of miles. Of course, I never really got to a fast pace overall anyway, but I felt strong even near the end.

I did really well with my pre-run hydration, and I’m starting to see how much this matters. In addition to just generally drinking plenty of fluid in the days beforehand, I forced myself to drink a glass of water (about two cups) right before I left for the run. And it worked! I wasn’t thirsty during the run at all, which meant I never felt like I had to find a place to stop for a drink. Definitely important on long runs!

Just shy of a mile into the run, I saw an ambulance blast through the cross street ahead of me, lights and sirens blaring. As I reached that cross-street, I was passed by a car dragging its bumper. There was definite damage from a front-end collision of some sort. Quite peculiar, though it didn’t seem to be slowing the car at all. It wasn’t until later that I realized these may have been related.

I was at the beginning of a long, straight stretch of road, and over a mile ahead, I could see emergency lights. It was too far ahead to see any details, so I just kept running.

Slowly, the emergency lights began to clear out. Not a surprise, since it took me around fifteen minutes to cross that distance, and I know emergency responders are pros at dealing with these situations quickly and getting out of the way. By the time I got to that location, they had already cleared out.

I was still perhaps a quarter-mile away when two of the police cars turned on their lights and sirens and headed towards me, presumably responding to another call. They were moving quickly, but I waved at them anyway. I’m just friendly like that. One of them waved back, and the other honked at me – win!

I used Jelly Belly sport beans again, but this time I used two packs of their “extreme” version, meaning they had added caffeine. They were… tolerable. Not nearly as good as the original version. I had one package of “assorted extreme” and one package of “cherry extreme”. I wasn’t impressed with any of them. The flavors were just odd. They weren’t the worst mid-run fuel I’ve ever had, but I don’t want to use them again either. I’ll stick to the original beans now!

I was VERY pleased with how my left foot responded to the run. I was at least six miles into the run before this old injury flared up, a definite improvement. Plus, when it did flare up, it didn’t feel as severe as my earlier runs. Baby steps!!!

I’ve even talked to a friend who is a physical therapist about my shoes, and toyed with the possibility of adding orthotic inserts to my running shoes. The physical therapist recommended that, if I do purchase orthotics, I choose Spenco or 10 Seconds brands, instead of the cheap drugstore brands. However, I’m pleased with the improvements in this run, and I feel confident that I can hold off on orthotics for now.

My mid-week runs have also gone well this week. Not perfect, of course, but it’s been good. I feel strong. I’ve been putting in a lot of activity this week. I hope it’s enough to prepare me for the half-marathon in May. Intellectually, I know it is, but it’s quickly getting near enough that I can’t do anything more to improve. That’s also when my self-doubt reaches its peak!

I realized this week that wearing a baseball cap kinda helps me focus during my runs. It’s like blinders – when I’m looking down, the cap hides the upcoming road. It’s a bit of a challenge, in that it is a bit harder to see ahead and be aware of my surroundings, but it’s a pretty big help also. Now I just need to find a good KC Royals cap, instead of the freebie Yahoo cap in the photo!

I also got a new pair of shoes!!! Saucony Cohesion 9s, found online for a great price. There’s nothing as exciting as the smell of new shoes!

I need to ease up on my long runs to let my foot recover a bit more before the race, but the forecast for Saturday is 77 degrees, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to resist!

2017: Wienermobiles, Jelly Bellies, and the adventure continues…

2017 is begging me to maintain this blog more regularly.

As far as running, 2016 ended on a down note. December was a busy month, and life just kept me away from my running shoes.

I did receive a Fitbit for Christmas, though, and that’s been a lot of fun. It’s been surprising and enjoyable to learn about my movements throughout the day and how running affects those. I also adjusted the way that I’m recording my runs – away from Nike+ and toward Runkeeper, as well as SmashRun and Tapiriik, which work better with the Fitbit. I’m adjusting the sidebars on this website to better represent that.

January perked up. I wasn’t running long (at least not at first), but I was running. I ran at night, and even on a few cold days (in temperatures around 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit).



At the very end of January, I resumed my long runs. On a particular 8.5-mile run, I encountered something I’d definitely never seen on a run before…

…the Wienermobile!

That was a fun interruption. I got photos with the Wienermobile, and even got to go for a ride.









Just a few days later, I was out on an otherwise ordinary run when I saw flashing lights and this:

A housefire! I was surprised by how quickly it erupted – I’d passed the same house about eight minutes earlier and seen nothing amiss. I later learned the fire was started (accidentally) by a cousin who was working on a car in the garage.


For a scary-looking fire, the fire department had it quickly contained. No one was hurt. The pet dog was removed from the house, safely. The attached garage was badly damaged, and of course there was smoke damage, but the house was badly damaged overall.

I kept running. I was passed by a couple of police chases. The weather has been unseasonably warm, and I’ve enjoyed that.

I received another gift for Christmas which I got to try out just before Valentine’s day.

These Sport Beans are infused with electrolytes, vitamins, and carbs to fuel athletes. I am incredibly cautious, and I don’t think I would’ve bought these for myself, but I received three packets as a gift for Christmas. I took two packets out for an 8.5-mile run, and I was AMAZED by how well it went!

I felt strong, and that was a huge triumph for me. I was hydrated and fueled. With just the two small packets, I felt like I could keep going for a long time. That’s a breakthrough, and I’m planning to buy more through Amazon!

It was a short-lived breakthough, unfortunately. On the day after Valentine’s day, I became sick. Really sick. I’m still not sure what I had, but it was nasty. It was like a bad flu with bronchitis at the same time. I ran a high fever (102 degrees) for a day and a half, with chills, exhaustion, vomiting, coughing, runny nose, headache, and shortness of breath. It was a bad time.

Even now, I’m not back to running. That illness seemed to suck all the energy out of my body, and while the worst is over, I don’t feel nearly strong enough to run yet. The weather has yo-yo’ed between unseasonably warm and miserably cool. For the time being, running is not a priority.

That’s okay, though. I’ll get back into it as soon as I can. Maybe next week. Until then!

what a race!

I’m not even sure what to think at this point.

First there was the foot injury. Then there was the travel. Then, just to top things off, I got sick… a head cold that began as two days of a mild tickle in my throat followed by four days of coughing, sneezing, stuffy nose, laryngitis, and a horrible headache.


Thanks to the stuffy nose, then the headaches, I haven’t slept well for nearly a week.

I’m excited by my costume for tomorrow’s race, and I’m excited by the opportunity to run. But I don’t even know what to think, and the race hasn’t even started yet!

Wish me luck!

Foot injury and traveling

*edit: I wrote this on Monday, hit publish, and walked away from my computer. I didn’t realize until today that it didn’t actually publish!*

*edit edit: maybe it did publish. I dunno. Too much stress!*

I’ve been a terrible blogger during this training season. I know there are several people who care about me and still read this, though, so let me try to catch you up.


It’s been a rough one, to be honest. I have another half marathon, the Longview half, in a little under two weeks. Around late August or early September, I increased my mileage, replacing my 3.5-mile runs with 5 mile runs, in preparation for the race. At the time it made sense. I was pleased to see the spike in my weekly mileage.

Of course, it came back to bite me. My left foot began to ache, mildly at first, then much worse. Finally I realized this was not a normal tired-foot feeling, but an injury. 🙁 The pain was concentrated in the ball of my foot, where my big toe joins to the foot. With the help of Dr. Google, I think I have/had metatarsalgia. Thankfully, the treatment is simple – RICE (rest-ice-compression-elevation).

There are no words to describe how discouraged I was.

Instead of increasing my mileage, I had to cut wayyyy back. My runs became short and few. I would end my runs in tears, frustrated by the pain in my foot.

On top of that, I wound up traveling for most of the month of October. I drove to Boston to visit my sister, who lives there. It is very hard to maintain any kind of training schedule while traveling. I ran on a treadmill at every single hotel, every chance I got, but a two or three mile treadmill run just isn’t the same as an outdoor run!!


Ironically, though, traveling and treadmill-ing was probably the best thing possible for me. That gave my foot a good chance to heal. It’s feeling much better, and I’m hoping the problem won’t flare up during the race.

Between injury and traveling, I haven’t had any really long runs – it’s been a few weeks since I’ve run more than three miles! I still feel strong, and barring a mid-race injury, I’m pretty confident that I will finish this upcoming half-marathon. Without the long runs, though, I will have to keep myself in a good place mentally throughout the run. I won’t have a recent memory of a solid long run to fall back on.

I’ve had to make some huge adjustments in my expectations, too. Finishing the race will be the easy part! I have to let go of my expectations of finishing within a certain time/pace, and that’s hard. I know it will be especially hard at the starting line, when I’m surrounded by runners. Experience has taught me that this is when I tend to push myself too hard – but I also know that this will be when it is most important for me to control my pace!

Less than two weeks, and I’m playing a very mental game. I’ll try to keep you updated!


Shoe shopping is STRESSFUL!!!

And anyone who says otherwise is a liar!

Of course this summer has been pretty stressful, too. Running hasn’t gone well, overall. After the Independence half marathon in May, I allowed myself to slack off for a week or two… then I found myself traveling throughout June and July… life happened… and, well, I’m just getting back into the swing of things.

I signed up for the Longview Half Marathon on November 12. Why? I’m not sure. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I also found out about another half marathon, the Halloween Hustle Half, on October 30. It’s only a few blocks from my house… and doggonit, I’m tempted to sign up.

I’m struggling (a lot!) with core workouts. That knee injury from last April is much better, but still not totally healed, and I just don’t trust it for any kind of whole-body exercises like push-ups or planks. Obviously I don’t want to re-injure it! But I’m frustrated by all the exercises I CAN’T do right now.


Today I ran 5.23 miles. The weather was beautiful, and today’s run went well. I’m pleasantly sore and, surprisingly, was able to hold almost a 13:30 pace.


As I’m getting back into running, my shoes have proven to be a big source of stress. I went through two pairs of shoes while I was training for and running the Independence Half Marathon, and those shoes are just pretty worn out at this point. Both pairs have at nearly 500 miles to their credit. I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth out of them, but it’s time for new shoes.

At the beginning of summer, I bought these:


Now, like I said, I didn’t run a whole lot during June and July. So when I was getting back into running, I tried out one of these pairs of shoes… and it was a NIGHTMARE. I don’t know if it was the shoes, or if it was because I was out of shape, or (most likely) some combination of those, but it was BAD.

I went back to one of my pairs of 500-mile shoes, and I’ve been using those quite happily while I figure out how I’m going to get new shoes. I have been agonizing over the decision. I want to find shoes that are comfortable and not too expensive, and I’m borderline-paranoid about getting another pair of bad shoes.

Today I bit the bullet and bought one pair. Buying these doggone shoes has caused me so much stress, and I knew I just had to do it. Fingers crossed that these shoes will work… though if they don’t, I’m giving myself permission to buy another pair!


One last thought:

Long ago, I got into a habit of taking a selfie of myself every time I run. It’s sort of like proof to myself that I got out there and did it. It’s nothing fancy, something I do for myself. But lately I’ve been toying with the idea of posting these selfies on Instagram. Whad’ya think?

Independence Half Marathon recap: slow, steady, and a side of vomit

I’m fighting a bad case of the “shoulds” right now. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be celebrating my 6-year “runiversary”, and in my mind, I’m thinking: I should be faster by now. I should be able to run farther by now. I should not struggle as much as I do. I should’ve gotten a better time in the race. I should’ve held a bigger pace.

And, because a pity party is never complete without a double whammy: I shouldn’t feel bad that I don’t run as well as I want. I should just be thankful that I finished.

Nevermind that I hurt my knee and spent a third of the race vomiting. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The morning of the Independence Half Marathon, I was remarkably calm. I am so accustomed to having nerves before a race, but I was really pleased that my nerves were under control. Not that I wasn’t nervous – I was! – but I didn’t have that awful pit-in-my-stomach feeling!

I had a light breakfast before the race, just a slice of toast. I was honestly unsure of how to eat before this race, since I haven’t really done morning runs in my training. I didn’t want to eat too much beforehand.


My mom drove me, though luckily we did not have to go far to get to this race. It was only a five minute drive from my home. The race was a nice size – large enough to have good support, but small enough to still feel intimate.

At the start of the race, I purposely positioned myself in the back of the pack. I fell in with the 2:50 pace group… but, I’m sorry to say, this was my first mistake. Now don’t get me wrong – Bailey, the pacer, was very nice, and I enjoyed running alongside her. But I pushed myself for the first half of the race – I should’ve run with the 3:00 pace group and saved my strength for the last half of the race. I also changed my fueling strategy on the fly. Big big mistake!

I chatted with Bailey and the pace group, and I enjoyed that. It’s nice to get to know her, and honestly, Bailey, I think you and I could be friends. The pace group had a run/walk strategy. For most of my training, I’ve trained by running nonstop and only walking for aid stations, though. This had a huge mental effect on me.

I received several text messages in the first few miles of the race. Since my phone was in my armband, I didn’t stop to read the messages, but I knew they were from friends who were cheering me on. Even my sister, who is halfway around the world right now, sent me messages of support!

I held a great pace for the first 10k of the race – about 12:40/mile, with that pace group. But that was also pushing my limits. Halfway through the race, around mile 6.5, the increased pace plus the change in fueling/hydration really hit me. I began to struggle, and I fell behind the 2:50 pace group. SUPER frustrating.

indepHM4 indepHM5

That’s me, in the pink/purple jacket and shorts, center and left, running with Bailey the 2:50 pacer in the yellow shirt.

The funny thing is, as soon as I fell behind the pace group and began to focus only on my own pace (coming through my earbuds from my iphone), I also began to feel a little better. THIS was what I knew. This was how I had trained. Just me, focused on myself, cheering myself on. I wasn’t talking to anyone or getting distracted by other people or their paces.

I was very much aware that I had started too fast, and I was paying for it. I was angry with myself. I knew it was becoming more unlikely every second that I would reach my goal. I’d blown it, and that was totally on me.

At the same time, with the exhaustion setting in, I felt oddly accepting of my situation. I knew that I could only go as fast as my legs would move. If I couldn’t come in under 3:00, that was okay.

In fact, I wondered during this time if, maybe, I may just not be a sub-3:00 runner. I still wonder that. Maybe I’ll never finish a half in under 3:00. During the race, I could accept that.

I was taking water and gatorade from the aid stations. I’ve done this in my past half marathons without a problem. At mile 9, I walked through an aid station and drank a couple of glasses of water and gatorade, as I’d done at the other aid stations. Unfortunately, a few steps later, I realized that my body was not going to cooperate with this. I leaned over and threw up the water/gatorade, two or three times, until my stomach was empty. My first mid-run vomit – that’s gotta be some kind of milestone, right?

I kept moving. Of course, at this point, my pace was completely shot. My stomach was empty, but I was still periodically dry-heaving. I was dehydrated but I couldn’t keep anything down, including water. My total focus was on just moving forward, running when I could and walking when I couldn’t run.

Long runs like this bring out funny aches and pains. My left bicep felt sore, and my left butt-cheek was also feeling painful. My lower back was sore. My legs were exhausted. My feet hurt, but I wasn’t chafed.

About 13 miles into the race, with the finish line in sight, I saw my mother and my friend Theresa by the side of the road, cheering me on. That was a welcome sight and gave me enough push to keep running.


I crossed the finish line, feeling much more exhausted than I’d hoped – but I crossed it! Mom and Theresa were waiting for me. I hugged them, but I saw a curb and sat myself down. My poor legs were begging for a break! Someone handed me a bottle of water, and I immediately took a couple of drinks to quench my dry mouth.


After a few minutes, I decided that I felt good enough to stand again. However, once I stood, I immediately began to feel dizzy. I grabbed a nearby gate, to wait for the dizziness to pass. Unfortunately, I felt a telltale rumbling in my tummy, so I turned away from the gate… and threw up, again! Luckily I was too exhausted to feel embarrassed!!

I sat back down on the curb to wait for that feeling to pass. A really kind woman approached me and asked me if I would like her to go into Terra, the nearby health-food store, and get a bag of ice. I told her that yes, that would be nice, and she did. I don’t know who she is, but I hope she knows how much I appreciate her kindness!!

Mom and Theresa were watching me, and I was starting to feel well enough to feel a bit embarrassed. I was just sitting, and I felt bad that I wasn’t any more active for them! I really appreciated that they had come, but I didn’t feel good enough to express that!

After several minutes had passed, I tried standing again, and I felt MUCH better. My blood pressure had evened out a bit, so I wasn’t dizzy. I felt good enough to walk, albeit slowly, and to get a few more photos.


We returned to the car, and Mom and I drove Theresa to her car. I insisted on getting out and giving Theresa a BIG hug before she left. I so appreciate that she came! She knows how important this race was to me, and it means a lot that she came out for it.

Mom brought me home, and I fell into a recliner. I was still quite dehydrated, and I hadn’t had any more to drink, for fear of throwing up again. At home, I sucked on some ice cubes, which seemed to rehydrate me at the right pace.

I was amazed by how tired my body was. There were several people I’d wanted to message, to tell the how I’d done in the race, but I was too tired to even lift my phone! I also was still waiting for my official race time.

I began shivering from the ice cubes, plus the chill of evaporating sweat. I took that as my cue to take a shower, followed by a nap. I didn’t eat much, just in case my stomach wasn’t ready for it.

I slept for several hours in the late morning/afternoon, and finally got my race time in the evening: 3:13:48.

I’m struggling to accept that time. It’s not what I hoped. I hurt my knee and I vomited/dry-heaved for an hour. There’s no way I could have performed at top capacity. But I’m embarrassed to admit, I don’t feel good about that time. I wish I’d done better.

I don’t know yet what to do with this.