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Archive for May, 2013

In the News: What are extreme runners thinking?

“[…]racing and training is about dealing with doubts and fears and then gaining confidence from the experience.”

Via Slate.com, great article on what drives ultra-marathoners.  But really, what they describe drives all runners, from the beginners to the ultra-runners.  We all must deal with pain and upsets, bad races and training runs, injuries, mistakes, and missteps, but these are the moments in our running lives that we learn from and that make us better runners.  I love the quote I pulled from the article above.  These learning experiences give us the confidence to keep going another day.

Ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek

Ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek via Slate.com

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I’m not one to get weepy, but even the toughest runner can get a little emotional when she crosses the finish line or volunteers at a race.  Add in 24 hours of work in the last two and a half days, and I was bound to have a hard time keeping the tears at bay.

Friday started with several busy hours at the store followed by setting up for the Med City Expo until 9 pm.  We left the Civic Center with a lot of work yet to do in the morning, so I ate a little something at home, got ready for the next day and then got to bed.  Excited about the Expo, I had a hard time sleeping.  The alarm went off much too early at 5:45 am.

We arrived at the Civic Center at 7 am to finish setting up for the day.  We had a giant booth space to prep with over 3,000 runners and their families expected to start arriving at 10 am.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

And arrive they did.  Starting at 10 am and not letting up until at least 2 pm, thousands of customers walked through our mini store and got introduced to TerraLoco.  Our mini store at the Expo was a huge success, and would have been the best part of the day if it weren’t for the 5K.

Around 2:30 pm I changed into running clothes and met my Learn to Run class for their first 5K.  They were a bit nervous, but I knew they were well prepared for the race.  It was a cloudy day with a chance of rain, but the weather held out for us.  The temperature was just right for race day and the ladies of the Learn to Run class took off with gusto at the start of the race.  I had to reign them back a little so they didn’t wear themselves out before the half way point, but other than that, they were fantastic. They only stopped to walk two times, and otherwise kept up a less than 12 minute mile.  One block before the finish I told them to sprint to the end so they had nothing left in the tank after they crossed the finish line.  I wasn’t expecting much because usually the new runners are so tired by the end that they go a millimeter faster, if at all.  But these two ladies had enough kick left in them that they punched through the finish line with me trailing just behind.  They finished their first 5K in 37:38!

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Post-race. Congrats ladies!

  Just after we crossed the finish line I ran into several women from previous Learn to Run classes.  They were all super stoked about the great race they had.  One former student even gave me a hug and with tears in her eyes told me she had just run a PR!  I was so proud of all of them.  Even now, after recovering from the hard weekend, just thinking about the amazing things they all did brings me to tears.  I have to remind myself that there was a time, not too long ago, where I had trouble just walking up a flight of stairs, let alone finishing a 5K race.  These are great accomplishments for my students, so if you happen to run into any of them on the trail, congratulate them on their amazing job at the race and encourage them to keep moving forward.

After crossing the finish line and congratulating all of my current and former students, I headed back inside to finish up the Expo. Post-race there was another big rush and finally the clock hit 6 pm and we were able to start packing up.  My awesome bosses were kind enough to let me head home after the truck was packed up, so I grabbed some chow on the way home and went to bed early again.

The next morning TerraLoco was sponsoring a water stop for the Med City Marathon at miles 19.1 & 19.5 (just before and after Exchange Zone 3). The hubby and I were up early to get the water stop set up, and shortly after we arrived, my volunteers showed up.  I was worried about not having enough volunteers for our water stop, but residents of Slatterly Park showed up to help, as well as several others that had signed up to help.  It was a cold morning that turned into a miserably wet morning.  Winds faced the runners all the way into Rochester, so our first runner showed up 45 minutes after we expected.  Shortly after the first runner came by, the rain started.  The windchill dipped into the mid 40s.  All of my volunteers were pretty uncomfortable in the rain and cold and wind, but that was nothing compared to the discomfort on the faces of some of the runners that passed us.  In previous years this marathon weekend has been miserably hot and humid, so we were all thankful for a respite from that kind of weather, but we could have done with something a little better than cold and rainy.  Luckily, everyone, including the runners, kept up a positive mood.  Runners stopped to thank us for a job well done, while others cajoled us for not having vodka jello shots or hot cocoa.

When the last runner came by – an older gentleman, barely shuffling along – we cheered a little harder, mostly for him, but also because we were able to pack up and get ourselves warm.  I had help packing up my car and then dropped off the supplies downtown where I saw the last few runners coming through the chute.  I stopped for a coffee on the way home, changed, and then settled into the couch for the rest of the weekend.

Truly, it was an exhausting weekend, but probably one of the most rewarding weekends I have ever had.  After I got home I sent out a message on Facebook, tagging all of my running friends, thanking them for being a part of this awesome community.  A few years ago I would have never guessed that runners were such a supportive group, who are always there for the other members of their community, who cheer people on no matter how slow they are going, and who donate their time and energy to making people’s dreams come true.  I am so lucky to have these people in my life, even if I only see them every once in a while.

I wrote last week about inspiring others by your running.  This week, everyone in our local running community inspired me, and if you were there, I hope they inspired you too.

See you next year at the Med City Marathon weekend!

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Last night was the final class of my spring Learn to Run session.  I am always a little sad when these things end.  I’ve spent the last 12 weeks getting to know these ladies, encouraging them, and running with them, and now that the class is over, I have no idea if I will ever see them again.

Chances are, I will see many of them again and they will regale me with stories of races they’ve done or ask me serious questions about training or come into the store to get new shoes or gear.  But still, I have mixed feelings about the end of a class.

To celebrate the end of the class we went on a three mile run and then had a little something to eat and drink at ZZest.  Unfortunately, only two of the ladies in my class showed up for this final run, so it was just the three of us making our way down the trail.  It was a beautiful night for a run, so the trails were busy.  The pace was very slow for me, but that’s the purpose of these runs with the class.  I don’t want to injure them by pushing them too hard too fast.  After we finished the first mile, one of my students commented that it was a record pace for her: 11:55 minute mile.  She was so excited.

About half way through our run we were passed by a runner dude probably doing a 7 or 8 minute mile.  When I say “passed” I really mean he pushed his way through us without saying a word.  Now, runner’s etiquette will tell us that a runner approaching a group should call out his presence so that the group is aware of him and will move over.  Granted, we were running three abreast which is also a no-no for running on the trail, but had he called out “Runner on your left!” we would have moved over with plenty of space for him to go around.  As it was, he bounded right between all of us, (giving us a little bit of a scare I might add as we didn’t even see his shadow approaching) and continued on with his Flash Gordon pace.  One of my runners commented on his form (see how much they are learning!), “I hope someday I can run with my feet kicking my butt.”  We used the opportunity to talk a little bit about form and getting faster.

But after he passed us I couldn’t stop thinking about how miserable he looked.  Yes, his form was great and he was definitely moving, but he didn’t look like he was having any fun.  And yes, running is supposed to be fun.

For serious runners, of course there will be days when your training is not fun.  Nor is it really designed to be.  You are doing hills or speed work, and pushing to get through that last mile of a 20 mile long run, and you feel a little like you signed yourself up for torture.  But not every run should feel like that.  Every once in a while, you need that slow, social run with friends to remind you why you love to run.

Yesterday was that run for me.  The ladies that I was running with are about twice my age and this class was their first time running.  Listening to them brag (with good reason, I might add!) about their fastest mile ever or their longest run was a reminder of what it felt like when I first started running and saw those kinds of accomplishments come fast and swift.  Post-run we hung out at the cafe, sipping on cold drinks and eating fresh, local food.  The ladies chatted about their lives and told me some amazing stories about the places they’ve been (China! Singapore! London! Mexico! Nigeria!) and the things they’ve done.  When I got home, I felt good.  Not just, “I’m glad I went for a run today and didn’t stay home sitting on the couch eating potato chips” good, but “wow, my body and soul feels amazing” good.  I haven’t run that nice, slow pace in a while, and boy did it help me get my mojo back.

Running has been good for me.  It has given me a purpose in life, goals to accomplish, and two great jobs.  It has taught me important life lessons about perseverance and hard work.  I’ve also met some amazing people and made new friends.  I needed to remind myself of that, and last night’s run was just the ticket.

So thank you, Robyn and Pat, and for being great running partners last night and for reminding me that sometimes, it’s okay to slow down.

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You might not feel like it, with your hair slicked back with sweat, a funky gait from a nagging injury, mud on your shoes, and sweat crystalizing on your clothes, but for someone, you are an inspiration.

Every time you go out for a run, remember this.

It might be the kid who sees you run past every morning while he’s waiting for the bus.

Maybe it’s the woman down the street who sees you run by every morning while she is sipping her coffee.  Every morning.  Rain or shine.

Or it’s your kid you’re inspiring.  She sees you lace up your running shoes every day, even when you don’t want to.  And she learns that value of determination and perseverance.  She learns that she can do anything.  And that girls can run too.

Maybe it’s someone in your running group who is just getting started and is struggling.  When he sees you at run club each week, it gives him a boost to keep going.  He’s impressed with the races you’ve finished and the amazing things you’ve accomplished in the two years since you started running.

Whoever it is, think about this person — whether imagined or real — that you are inspiring with your run.  Would you be letting this person down if you decide to stay in today and eat chocolate chip cookies instead?

I’ve been teaching running classes through the Running Room and now through TerraLoco for two years now.  In that time, I’ve met some pretty amazing people.  I love hearing their stories and finding out why they’ve decided to start running at this point in their lives.  Usually there is someone in their past who has inspired them to start running.  

And sometimes, I’m that person.

My absolute favorite part of teaching the clinic is seeing what my students can accomplish.  Many of them I don’t see again after the clinic is over (or maybe even before — yes, despite my best efforts, some people do just quit).  But so many of them I’ve stayed friends with on Facebook or am able to catch up with at the store.  I love seeing the great things they are doing.  As race season started here in Minnesota a few weeks ago, I started seeing all of my past students signing up for 5Ks and 10Ks.  Some of them I haven’t seen in years.  But all the same, taking my class was what inspired them to start running and I love seeing that they are keeping up with it.  

My “students” are my pride and joy.  Like any teacher, I am proud of my students.

Just the other day, one of my current students sent me a picture.  She was vacationing in California, so she missed a class, and she wanted to let me know that she was running, even on vacation (now that’s dedication!). Here she is on the beach:

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And last night she tells me that she has signed up for the Disney Half Marathon!  This is a woman new to running who has decided that she loves it enough to challenge herself to a longer distance.  How amazing is that?

So when I’m contemplating whether to run or not, I think about her, and about all of my students, past and present, and it’s enough to get me out on the trail.  

The question really is, am I inspiring them, or are they inspiring me?

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Shopping for a new pair of running shoes can be stressful.  You don’t want to spend $120 on a new pair of shoes only to discover a few weeks later that it isn’t very comfortable on long runs.  As a result of this stress, I notice that some people panic when they are forced with making a decision on a pair of shoes.  “How do I choose?” they ask.  With an array of colors and styles in front of them, they just want someone else to make the decision for them.  I will gladly be the decision maker for an apprehensive customer, but not every sales person will do this.  And what happens if you don’t have the benefit of a footwear specialist to help you?

In this blog post, I will guide you through the shopping process, and hopefully relieve any anxiety you might have about running shoe shopping. (more…)

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