Monday, March 30, 2009

Running In Costume

Just to reinforce my last blog, that I absolutely do not care what others think about how I look when I run, I am working on a costume scheme for myself and my, "running group" for the Disney Marathon!

I finally signed up for the Disney last week and am beginning to put into motion the, "costume plan". Disney is my favorite venue, and is one of the best races to go in costume (lots and lots of Tinkerbelles and Tiggers).

Because of where it is, and the amount of people who run in it; I never expect it to be my PR race. Therefore, I have decided to have some fun and fully embrace the, "Disney Magic" and go in costume. I am going to be running with at least 3 other people who will hopefully feel the same way I do and join me in costume. I have never run in a costume before, and I am pretty skittish about trying something new on race day. This begs the question, 'how would it look if I did a practice run in costume at home?' I am guessing that while this seems logical, it might draw some unwanted attention to myself (not to mention that I don't think my husband and children would let me get out of the house dressed like Minnie for a Sunday run).

I will have to give it some more thought, but I am thinking that I will have to just, "Go for it" and if it doesn't work out I can always ditch the costume in route .

Now I just have to decide who I will be, and how I can create a runner friendly costume. Good thing I have time because it might take me longer to create the costume then to train for the race.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Do I Look?

I was on a discussion board and came across a post about a members concern for running outside because she was afraid to look like a, "loser" if she had to stop and walk. My fist reaction was that the post was a joke, but after reading the discussion further I realized that for many women the fear of not looking good while running is keeping them from, what I think is best part of running, taking in the outside environment.

I have not always been a runner. When I started I could not even run a mile to the end of my neighborhood and had to stop and walk many times. I never had a concern about what others thought of me while running. I have always had the attitude that whether I am walking or running at least I am doing something. It is always better to do a little rather than nothing.

I tried to think back when I passed by a runner or walker in a car how I reacted. I do not think I ever took the time to notice them enough to critique them. I surely would never have made notice of whether they were supposed to be walking or running.

My advice to women runners is get off the treadmill and enjoy the outside. I think you should run for you and not worry about what other people think (most likely they are not thinking anything about you). Whether you run, walk, or jog it is more impressive for people to see you out there working every day! You will be surprised what types of encouragement you will get from friends and neighbors that see you on the street. You might even encourage someone to get off the couch and try to run with you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Core Strength

Core strength (which involves strengthening of you hips, lower back, back and shoulders) is important to runners. A strong core will help your overall performance by increasing endurance, stride, and alleviating the pressure on your back by stabilizing the mid section. The stronger your core is, the less your upper body moves and the less energy you waste. Additionally strengthening your core will help prevent back and shoulder soreness after long strenuous runs. There are some great exercises that can be done (without having to go to the gym) to help increase your core strength. Plank holds (where you come to a push-up position on your forearms and toes and hold your stomach in for 30 seconds at a time) are a great exercise that can be done at home during commercial breaks nightly. Another simple exercise is a basic crunch. These can also be done at home and can be worked into your daily routine. I make my core strengthening part of my running program by doing those basic exercises before every run along with my stretching. It is not important when they are done, just as long as you remember that it is important to focus on your core and you find some time to do some basic exercises several times a week.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Keep on Running!

My youngest (3 yrs) caught a cold on vacation and has been sick the last couple of nights. As a result, he ends up in our bed every night around 3 am with a sad but loud cough that keeps me awake (especially when it is directly in your ear) for several hours. This scenario leaves me exhausted and barely able to get myself and my children up and out in the morning. Definitely not able to make my morning runs.

Because I am feeling guilty for missing so much time on vacation, I have changed my morning runs to lunchtime runs which , here is Florida, is a little crazy due to the mid day heat. It has not been fun, but I have been able to get the miles in. I would not recommend running at the hottest time of the day but, I try to think of it as "extra" conditioning. I figure that as long as I do not have heat stroke, it will make me stronger!!

Although I am thinking that I might be heat conditioned enough and am really hoping that my son will sleep in his own, very cute and cozy bed tonight!! Women Running the World

Monday, March 16, 2009

Back from Vacation

I am back from a week away on a Caribbean Cruise with my family. I am feeling well rested and very fat!! Cruises are great vacations, especially for families, but can definitely make trying to keep up with a healthy lifestyle a challenge. I will say that I did pack my workout gear which I am sure felt neglected as it did not even get removed from my suitcase the entire trip. My eat healthy attitude went completely out the window as I spent much of my time drinking Pina Coladas and laying by the pool. The damage is manageable, I did gain some weight but it was worth it. I am now not running to prep for a race. I am running to get my big butt back into shape.

As far as the Cruise goes, it was great. We went on Celebrity Cruises out of Miami. We stopped in Key West (where I did get some exercise by walking to the "southern most point of the island") and Grand Cayman (does jet skiing count as exercise?) which both were beautiful. The time on the ship was great, the food and service was good (not excellent, but good) and the children loved the kids club which kept them busy throughout the entire week. The line offered a little bit of something for everyone, and it was very enjoyable.

N ow we are back!!! I started off right away with the gym and going on a run. It was a great, quick 5 miles and I regretted eating so much the entire way. I am toying with running another marathon at the end of the month, but am not sure that the logistics will work out. I must decide quick!!! Women Running the World

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Marathoners and Fashion

As I was sitting in the hotel lobby the night before the Tampa Marathon, my husband and I had a good bit of entertainment picking out who was going to run the next day based on their attire. I have to say that I did not do so well in picking out the women, but the men, their look was as transparent as it gets. Let me paint the picture: taller, super skinny, wearing jeans (hiked up around their waist and cinched with a belt) and a tech shirt from some other event that was tucked into the said jeans.

I will be the first one to admit that I am not a fashionista. I sacrifice a lot for comfort, especially if it will keep me warm (if my race day photos ever got out!), but I do draw a line between 'training wear' and 'life wear'. I have a few personal rules about marathon fashion:
  1. Never wear your race shirt before you actually run the race (including wearing it on race day). I think the shirt should be part of the reward for finishing the race.
  2. Tech Shirts are meant to be worn while working out. The whole idea of the shirt is to keep you dry while you are sweating. Therefore, these shirts should only be worn while doing some sort of exercise, and not while hanging around the house or going to the mall etc.
  3. Tech Shirts should never be tucked in.
  4. Visors on a cloudy day? Visors on any day? It is like racing shorts with the butt cut out of them. Wear a hat or don't!
  5. Never wear anything that ends up making an annoying repetitive noise while running such as: squeaky shoes, crinkling jacket or pants, a trash bag or poncho that swooshes when you run. This is extremely annoying to other runners who are sensitive to this type of repetitive noise.
  6. Do not wear speakers on your body because headphones are prohibited. Just because your favorite song from the 1980's is perfect for your running, it may not work for everyone else. Try to enjoy the event and take in all the sights and sounds of it. You will be pleasantly surprised.
  7. I support wearing costumes running a race although, I never have. They are very entertaining for other runners and spectators. As a matter of fact, I am starting to work on the matching Minnie Mouse costumes that my group will wear at Disney next year! ;)
  8. Runners that wear shirts with interesting slogans or websites (especially are acceptable. Like the costumes they keep other runners and spectators entertained.

I must repeat that I am not an athletic fashion icon. Practically every race I have run I have had various layers tied around my waist with my bib pinned on crooked (from being re pinned while in motion after removing the top layer). I also have to admit that I did break rule number one at this last race for the sake of warmth. I did admit earlier that I will make sacrifices to keep warm. WomenRunning the World

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Today is a Rebuilding Day

I got up this morning and decided to run. I walked out the door and discovered that it was cold outside (well by Florida standards) and opted for the treadmill at the gym. Today was basically a rebuilding and recovery day. I did a few miles on the treadmill and stretched out. I feel pretty good so I am going to try 4 miles tomorrow. I am deciding on whether I will run the Ing, Georgia Marathon on the 29. If I am going to do it, I really need to get in a somewhat long run this weekend. I am away all next week (and I do not think I will be running at all) so I have to get in as much running as possible. I will judge this weekend whether I want to do another 26.2 at the end of the month. Women Running the World

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tampa Race!!

I am sitting here recovering from the Tampa Marathon which for me was a great race. There were a few first for me at this race: the first time I ran in the pouring rain (very cold and driving into my face for the last 6 miles), the first time I ran with a pace group (thanks pacer Jim), and the first time I broke 5 hours finishing in 4:45:07. I was very happy with this time as my training has been pretty spotty since the Disney in January. I now have some renewed hope that with some additional effort, I might be able to get below 4:30 and maybe someday get into the three's. (One can always hope!!)

I honestly do not care too much about my time except when I am running the race thinking 'If I could only run an 8 minute mile I would be finished an hour earlier' which equates to:

  • one hour less pain and suffering
  • one less hour to have to wait for a hot shower
  • on less hour to wait for a cold drink without dirt and bugs in it
  • on less hour to wait for something good to eat that is not a liquid gel

So I continue to work towards that goal. Is it attainable? I do not know, but it does keep me going.

As far as the Tampa Marathon goes overall, it was a good experience. My favorite destination event is still the Disney, this is a good local one. First the positives:

  • Race morning organization was great. There was no confusion at the start, no stress, just line up and go. The race started at 6:00 am, we literally left our hotel at 5:30 and had plenty of time to walk to the race and get ready. They also had a pre race waiting area inside the convention center so if you wanted to stay inside until the last minute you were able to do so.
  • Pre and post race food was great. In the early morning you could get water and coffee, as well as after the race. There was also a hot meal being offered by a local restaurant after the race as well as the standard fare of fruit, water etc.
  • The spectators were few, but were great. Thank you to all of those lovely people of Tampa who generously braved the nasty weather and offered cheers, candy, homemade cookies, Gatorade, water etc. A big thanks to the children of the 'Let Us Play' group who stood out in the rain at mile 24 and cheered for us! It was quite a pick me up.
  • The medals. The medals are very nice. They have a pirate theme and a cool neck band. I dare say that I like them better than Disney.
  • The pacers. My first time running with a pace group was a great experience. Pacer Jim was great.
  • The course was beautiful with water views and lovely houses.


  • Expo. I found the expo to be lacking and a bit flat. Not very many booths and a lot of repetition of booths.
  • Pre race (excluding race morning) organization. I received an email one day prior to the race saying that because the response to the race was so large they ran out of shirts and as a late registrant I would not be guaranteed my shirt size. When I got to the expo after waiting in a fairly long line, I was told that I could order a tech shirt and wait 6-8 weeks or I could get the exact same shirt only in cotton now. I have enough tech shirts. So I opted for the cotton one and threw it in my bag. This morning when I checked it out, I noticed it was a half marathon shirt. It is frustrating to me when an event is over registered (with $100.00 registration fee, you would expect that all 1300 marathoners would get a shirt.)
  • Crowded Course--as this course is shared with the half marathoners for the first 7 miles it was very crowded and a little dangerous (I had to dodge several cars and boats that were street parked in the pre dawn hours with very poor visibility). After the split with the halfers it did clear out.
  • Course (out and back)--Out and back courses are not my favorite. I personally do not like a constant stream of runners going past me in the opposite direction ahead of me. This course consists of one loop around Davis Island (very nice) up to mile 7, then it is one shorter out and back followed by a longer 8 mile each way out and back. There were several sections where the headwinds were fierce, but directional changes also gave us a nice tailwind as well.
  • The aid stations in the beginning (when we had both half and full marathoners) were under supported. Both times I stopped, I had to wait in a line for water to be poured into a cup. They were very crowded and a little disorganized. The stations after the 7 mile mark were great, staffed with more than enough supportive volunteers.

In all, I would run this race again. It would not be one that I would register a year in advance for, but if I was feeling like running a local race I would consider it!!!, women running the world