Everything I Needed to Know About Getting Through Tough Times I Learned Through Running

changeyourlife

Dearly Beloved, We are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life. Electric word, Life – it means forever, and that’s a mighty long time….

Bonus points for whoever guesses the crazy 80’s song that kicks off with these lyrics!

Colby and I have hit some rough spots lately – health issues, family health issues and loved ones who are simply hurting. One thing we have in common is that we both are people that others turn to in times of crisis. People know we can deal. We can comfort. We won’t lose our sh*t. And we’ll never turn away from someone in time of need. We both love this about ourselves (if we do say so {pats back}).

Not surprisingly, I think that some of this ability to keep it together -no matter what- has been developed, or at least strengthened, through running. Talk about bang for your buck in an exercise session.

I honestly believe that if someone takes up running and it doesn’t change them in some important way on the inside, they’re not doing it right.

Here are some of the things that running has taught me about getting through the tougher parts of this crazy thing called life:

1. Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you stop. Of course it’s going to hurt sometimes. Any time you put yourself out there, you risk getting hurt. This doesn’t mean that you just stop running. Or stop living. Or stay in bed and avoid people. Acknowledge the pain, respect the pain, but keep moving. Unless you truly can’t. Because…

2. Sometimes being hurt actually does mean you stop. Know yourself. Know when a strain has become a tear. Or a break. Develop confidence from pushing through pain and difficult times when you are able, so that you will know when the pain is too much and you just need to STOP. And rest. And heal. And regroup so you can move on when you are ready.

3. There will always be bumps in the road. Count on it. Try to avoid them. When you can’t, face them head on with your eyes wide open and tackle them as best you can. (Can’t help but mention that anytime there is a literal bump in the road, Colby and I seem to trip over it and fall flat on our faces. We do much better with the figurative ones, thankfully.)

4. Pain is temporary, Glory is forever. Of course you will end up broken down and in pain at some point. But the pain itself will probably be temporary, and how you handle the situation will affect how you feel about yourself forever. It is almost always easier to stop. Give up. Give in to the pain. Avoid the person or situation that is the source of the pain. But if you give up, how will you feel about it later? Most people seem proudest not of their PR races, but of the difficult races that they refused to quit. The races where they showed strength, courage and grace. Years later, you will no longer feel the pain so deeply, but you will still feel the pride of knowing you didn’t give in and didn’t give up.

5. You’re never truly alone. There is always someone else who has gone through whatever it is that hurts you. Someone who can relate. Someone who cares. Someone who can help you. And sometimes it is a random bystander who touches you in some way and helps you to keep moving…so be open to every source of support.

6. But in the end, it’s all up to you. You might not be alone, but you are definitely the only one living your life. Just like you are the only one running your race. So in the end, all the support in the world cannot carry you through difficult patches. The buck stops with you, and you have to be able to reach inside of yourself for strength, too. Make sure it is there.

7. Keep your eyes on the prize. The prize will vary based on what you are facing. If you are having a great race, the prize might be a PR. But if you are tired, injured, hot, cold, sick, the goal might be just to cross the finish line. And that in itself is always a worthy goal. Keep your focus and go for that goal – and that goal only. When life throws you a curveball, the prize should be getting through it in the best way possible, not getting through it perfectly while going for your black belt in karate and running for PTA President and renovating your house and training for a marathon. So when you are handed a curveball, it’s time for a little triage.  STOP. Breathe. Assess. Reflect. Prioritize. Then focus on your goal and let the rest fall away. There will be other races. And there will be other times to pursue different goals.

8. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. We have all had the race that started one way and ended quite differently. Don’t write off an experience, a challenge, a person, until it is truly over. If you are not at the finish line yet, there is always hope that things will improve. Circumstances can change in ways you never could have imagined. It’s just part of the wonderful, challenging, magical mystery of life (and racing).

9. It’s a Marathon. And a Sprint. Sure is. Some parts of life fly by at lightning speed and your challenge is to control your pace in order to slow down enough to enjoy them. Others are difficult, seem to drag on forever and you need to draw on your endurance to get through them. If you can’t handle both? Well, then, I’d say it’s time to revisit your training.

What have you learned through running? How has it changed you as a person?

Pure Torture

Yesterday, as I was about to hit “publish” on this ode to my hatred for cross-training, I saw that Colby had published a new post – about her love of cross-training. Oh, Yin and Yang we are, Young Grasshoppers! Here’s my take…

barrecard

Have I mentioned that I hate to cross-train?

In case you haven’t caught the last 500 times I have mentioned it: I hate to cross train.

First, because whatever it may be, it isn’t running (duh). If I am doing something that falls under the category of “exercise,” I want it to involve running. Or cycling. Cycling is ok. But it’s gotta be something with forward motion – weights and the like are lost on me and doing them just makes me wish I was running instead.

Second, because no matter what I choose to do, it hurts. A lot. Because whatever it may be, I never stick with it. Muscles are so funny like that. Drag them from their slumber and make them perform like Marines 3 times a year and they will complain loudly each of those 3 times (duh). Wimps.

Every year, I resolve to cross-train. I know it is good for me, my overall health and even my running. And every year, other than riding my bike to train for the Pan Mass Challenge and some wintertime sessions on my bike trainer, I fail miserably in the resolution. This year was no different, so in a last-ditch effort to squeeze something in before 2015, I signed up for a month’s worth of unlimited classes at Pure Barre.

Oh. My. God.

It is so hard.

Satan himself could not design class more likely to push me out of my comfort zone. I am neither flexible, nor coordinated, nor strong. If I had any one of those attributes, maybe I could lean on that talent and get through the class without crying inside. But I don’t, so I can’t. I am such a square peg in this round hole of a class, it isn’t funny. Well, kinda funny. But mostly painful.

I also don’t have any cute workout clothes, so I’m like the Rudolph of the class. All these years, I have walked through Lululemon looking for running shorts with hidden pockets and wondered where the hell people wear all of those wraps, circle scarves and leg-warmer-y type socks. Now I know – they wear them to barre class. I, of course, show up for barre class like I show up for most other things – in running tights. (And so far, they are still letting me join in all of the reindeer games torture! Probably because I am paid up through 12/31. Let’s see what happens if I try and re-up come Jan 1.)

The class brings you through a series of exercises that target pretty much every muscle below your chin. It is a combo of pilates, yoga, isometrics, Lotte Berk method, and whatever else the sickos can incorporate into each 55 minute class. You do work on a mat, at a barre, standing, sitting, you name it. Sometimes you use specific instruments of torture: a ball, weights, elastic bands, and sometimes you are forced to torture yourself without any props. The goal is to work your muscles to the point of fatigue, which generally takes me about 3 seconds. It is so freaking hard. And made all the more difficult by the fact that I can barely touch my toes, let alone “shake things out with a split-stretch” after a particularly rough circuit. Are they serious? I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do a split when I was a toddler.

I cannot believe I just ran a marathon with this body. I must have run it solely on willpower, because I am so very weak I can’t believe I can stand up unassisted, let alone run a marathon.

My abs are abysmal. My lower back is even worse. My arms and shoulders are in better shape but nothing to brag about. Not even a little. Even my legs get crazy-sore and wildly shaky during class. Et tu, Hamstrings?

The only part of my body that isn’t bothered by the exercises is my “seat,” as they call it in Pure Barre lingo. Gluteus Maximus for you science folks. I assume that this is either because I am constantly forced to run hills in my hilly neighborhood or, more likely, because I am doing the “seat” exercises wrong. shhhhh. don’t tell! If the instructor notices, I will get an “adjustment,” which involves her touching my “seat” to move it into position – kind of unpleasant for both of us, don’t you think?

Don’t let the legwarmers and cutesie accessories fool you – this class is not for the faint of heart, or muscle. I hate it. But I need it. So I’m going to keep going – at least until the month is up.

Am I the only running junkie who hates to cross train? Has anyone else tried a barre class? What did you think??

I’m a burn out.

Who just re-joined their old gym and kicked her own ass? Me!!!!!  I would raise my arm, but alas, I can’t lift it higher than this keyboard.  COLBY IS BACK IN ACTION!  (Yes. I just referred to myself in the 3rd person which I tend to do often.) It’s been a long, LONG year of running, running, cycling, and more running. Throw in a trip to the ER, an Achilles injury and a SURPRISE!  surgery, and I’m pretty much cooked. If I were a Butterball Turkey, the pop up timer rammed into my quad would have popped MONTHS ago. And lord knows those pop-up timers don’t work for shit.  So essentially, like that bird, I’m a heap of overdone sawdust. Kramer The Turkey

Dare I say I’m burnt out?  I’m daring. I’m goddamn burnt out.  It’s not that I’ve hung up my running shoes, I just need a break both mentally and physically. Have you ever needed that?  I know it’s time because running seems like a chore. {Faints.} And that’s my red flag. I love running with all that I’ve got.  We’re talking serious relationship here. But for now, we might need to see other people for a few months, so I am strong enough and motivated enough to fall back in love with running. Then we can go on long weekends in the country and shit. Oh I’ll still lace up, but not 7 days a week. I just can’t right now. I’m sore in places that I haven’t been sore and I really think it’s because I’m weak in spots that used to be strong. As a result a weak muscle puts more stress onto the muscle it’s attached to because it has to work harder, and before you know it you can play the opening of Stairway to Heaven on your hamstrings when the real problem can be in your lower back. Just my own theory here people, I’m not an expert, but I do know my own body and that’s what I’m missing- strength training. In the efforts of full disclosure, I was a long time gym rat. I used to lift almost every day. I miss it. My biceps do too. I swear, I just heard them sigh.i'm a gym unicorn

So here’s my plan: I need to cross train. I need to work on my core. I need yoga. I need spin. I need torture the step mill. Cross country skiing! Snowshoeing! Hiking!  I need to mix it up, both in the gym and out.  Call it a running reboot. I re-joined my old gym which has a BOAT load of classes including Les Mills’ Group Classes as well as Spinning. Here’s a sample:

Group Active
Group Centergy
Group Core
Group Kick
Group Ride
Group Power
Group Groove
Group Blast
{Note: I have little to ZERO idea what those even mean, BUT I’M DOING ‘EM! So stay tuned.}
Spinning
Yoga
Pilates
And ZUMBA!

Of course with all of the options, I went there and dove right on in, spent close to 3 hours either in class or on the Killer Step Mill. Total Gym Binge. I was belly up to a fitness buffet, gorging myself on exercise. This has been going on for days. And today I can’t raise my arms.

Ahhhhh, I love a break.

Do you ever feel the need to mix it up? Are you or were you ever a gym rat? Do you take classes?  Favorite class- GO!

100% Chance of Run

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I ran in the rain today. And I didn’t melt. So there goes that theory. Runners. Debunking myths left and right I tell ya.

I may not have melted, but a big bundle of stress did. Melted and dripped down right down across my face. It stung my eyes a little. And rolled down my cheeks in salty droplets, washing away a month’s worth of worry. The faster I ran, the quicker those droplets ran in rivulets down my back, leaving behind a wake of concern. It felt fantastic. There is something about the power of a solo run, on an otherwise dreary day, that brings such clarity. And that was just what I needed today. Goddamn Clarity.

Running Called today. Like an old friend who knows just what you want, when you want, sometimes without even knowing it. And I’m so happy I didn’t let the call go to voicemail.

The Power of the Run. Do you believe in it? Lone Wolf or Member of The Pack?

Pride Cometh After a Tough Race

Pride

Immediately after the Philly marathon, I felt a bit of a letdown. I think everyone visualizes the race itself during training, and let’s face it, my race experience– and my pre-race experience – were not the stuff of training dreams. In the end, my time wasn’t even bad – not a PR by any stretch, but actually, a pretty good finish time. But the latter half of the race itself was harder than I had imagined on all my long training runs. I was bummed. I felt like my body had let me down.

(Then I headed off to the Good Dog Pub with Colby and Diva Cindi, where, during the course of 6 ½ hours, we drank, ate, drank and met up with various friends, including Phil, a/k/a pscapp, from Reading, Writing, Running & Rhythm  and promptly forgot all about my disappointment.)

By the time I wrote my recap of the race a few days later, though, my disappointment had turned to pride. First of all, I finished a marathon. You just cannot finish a freaking marathon and not feel proud. But more importantly, I had a tough race. And I could have stopped. I actually could have chosen not to start. But I didn’t. And I didn’t even slow all that much when the going got ugly, except for the waits in porta-potty lines. My running itself was still pretty strong throughout the race – the last 10 miles were slower than the first 16, but I was still running.

When I wrote in my recap that I was proud of my race, Colby immediately responded that she was so happy to see me write that. (She loves those rare moments when I stop being a masochist and jumped on that sucker like a dog on a bone). Other people commented that they had races that they were proud of, too, for specific reasons. Often, it wasn’t the race they PR’d in, although that is always a cause for celebration. But when I ask people which race they are most proud of, it usually is one that involves a story or a struggle or crazy weather or a wall or something. And I love hearing about it.

So, tell us: Which race are you most proud of, and why? Share your pain and glory! And yes, if it is one where all went well and you PR’d, we want to hear that, too. They don’t all have to be tales of adversity. Maybe you just kicked some serious ass and felt proud. We want to hear it all. Show us your pride!

Sherman Klump Runs a Marathon. Or, How to Avoid a Severe Allergic Reaction Before Running 26.2 Miles.

keep-calm-and-grab-the-epipen

The short answer is: Stay the hell out of goddamn 7-11.

I know exactly what you’re thinking:  What in the name of anaphylaxis is going on here?!?!?  Believe me, I was thinking it too. I may have even been screaming it out loud. Or at least I was in my head. I couldn’t alarm The Patient. All I can say to the makers of Benadryl is:

Thank You.
Thank you.
And did I say, Thank you?

I would send them a singing telegram if only I could hire Mr. Peanut to tap dance, juggle EpiPens and croon my deepest thanks. Instead this post will have suffice. Oh, I’ve got a story for ya.

Tina, our dear friend Diva Cindi, and I headed to Philadelphia this past weekend to get our Rocky on and run the full (Tina) and half (Colby and Diva Cindi) Philadelphia Marathon. We had this shit all planned for months. In fact, Tina has already posted her race recap which I strongly suggest you read HERE. Tina had registered for the full and I decided, “What the hell?” and registered for the half. I peer pressured Diva Cindi into it too. Like all BRFs do. (Best Running Friends, for those not “in the know”.) Perfect.

Girls Weekend at the Ritz!
Running!
Laughing!
Celebrating!
Drinking copious amounts of beer post race!
Hair braiding and tickle fights!
YEAY ESTROGEN!

This was our 2014 race season swan song. Secretly, I had planned on running my little heart out. I had my eye on a PR. But apparently my eye was also on an Achilles injury post ultra marathon, followed by an unrelated (surprise!) surgery which put me out of commission in the weeks leading up to the half. I’ll just put it this way: I haven’t had a good run lately. That is both literal and figurative. More on what is ailing me at another time. I promise. For me, this was either going to be the race of a lifetime or an absolute shit show. Total coin flip.

Tina on the other hand was prepared. Even though she said she didn’t feel like she was, I didn’t believe her. She always is. Trained and Tapered, Tina was ready. Somewhere along the Jersey Pike she exclaimed: I am really f*cking psyched for this marathon!  I *’ed out the profanity because it’s Tina. And she’s more Lady than Pirate, but put a couple of pints in that broad and she might as well have a patch on her eye and a hook for a hand. 20141126-061130-22290438.jpgSee us at the Expo all smilely and stuff? Christ, we are buzzing with excitement. That’s why it’s blurry. We mill around. Test stuff out. Buy a new, rad Janji cap from my friend Dave, laugh our heads off and realize we haven’t eaten. I glance at Tina. She is slightly dazed and pale.

What do you need?

She says she needs Gatorade. I suggest we eat. Because we haven’t. And someone is running awfully far in the morning. For as smart as our mother’s think we are, we are fools. Hypoglycemic, amateur fools. We head out. And walk promptly into a Goddamn Wawa 7-11. {Note: I now hate Goddamn 7-11s. I do love Wawas.) Tina makes a bee line for the Gatorade and chugs 32oz like she was at frat party in the mid-90s.

She heads to the nut aisle.

It is here Dear Reader, that our story takes a precipitous turn for the worst.
I hear this, with traces of a Boston accent:

{Perturbed} Plantah’s Almonds are $2 more?!?! I’m not paying two extra goddamn dollahs for a peanut wearin’ a top hat. No sir!!!

Instead of buying the brand she has eaten before, she buys the off brand nuts.

Meanwhile, en route to the Ritz, two dollahs richer, she reads the back of the bag as a PERSON WITH SEVERE ALLERGIES DOES, decides it’s fine, rips it open and downs the pack.

We leave.

{Small voice} I feel like I swallowed a nut wrong.

WHAT?

We walk.
She trips on a curb.
We make eye contact.
She’s quiet.
I arch an eyebrow.
We’re in the room.

{Wheezes calmly.} I am having an allergic reaction.

Diva Cindi and I look up from our race swag. sherman clump

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Holy allergic reaction. She has morphed into Sherman Klump, the Nutty Professor. Her eye BALLOONS. Right before our very eyes. This is serious. Diva Cindi dives in her purse and throws two Bendryl and a packet of Equal at her. OH MY GOD TINA GRAB YOUR EPIPEN! Her response as she swallows the two Benedryl and a Claritin?

{Rasps} NO! If I use my EpiPen, I’ll have to go to the hospital and then I won’t be able to run tomorrow.

Now. There are 100s of responses to make upon hearing that nonsense, beginning with: I’ve called 911. They’re admitting you to an insane asylum after the epinephrine shot and steroids because you are being totally OUT OF YOUR EFFEN MIND. I JUST 5150’d YOUR CRAZY ASS!

Allergies are some scary stuff. They’re not funny. And believe me, if this story didn’t have a happy ending, I wouldn’t be calling her Sherman Klump. I’d be rocking in the corner, sucking my thumb, penning her eulogy and not posting this…

Because that’s what really happened. After several minutes post mega dose of Benedryl, she ASSURED us she could breathe. Her wheezing subsided. She still kind of looked like a starving puffer fish, but insisted she was feeling better. Instead, WE insisted she throw on her sunglasses for supper. For Christ sake, she was hideous. Besides, we needed to gain control of this ridiculous situation. Glasses on, Lady! We don’t care if it’s dark and you can barely see. We have an image to protect! BRFs. They RULE!

Thankfully, all ended well. After eating her height in pancakes, Chilly Willy put her swollen head on the table, and promptly nodded off in her syrup. She woke up radiant, with a killer Benedryl hangover and proceeded to run one hell of a marathon. I have to be honest. She qualified for Boston her first time running a marathon yet, I am more proud of her for running Philly. There is no one like her. And I’m honored she is my best friend.

Her allergist appointment is next week just after my cardiologist appointment and short stint in rehab to combat Xanax and alcohol addiction. She kills me that goddamn Tina.

City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Endurance

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Our weekend in Philadelphia was so epic that it would take 10 blog posts to sum up it, but fear not – we’ll limit it to 2…or 3.  This one is going to focus on the marathon itself. And It’s long – my apologies.

It was a tough race for me. This is an understatement. Let’s just say that the wheels started to come off the bus at the Expo…

THE EXPO you ask? Yes, the freaking Expo. Nothing against the Expo itself – it was fabulous, filled with great energy and interesting products. But I think it is also where I ate something that nearly sent me into anaphylaxis. It was either there or at the 7-11 across the street (now affectionately referred to by us as the “Goddamn 7-11.” Apologies to 7-11. I know they didn’t mean it. Even bigger apologies to WaWa, since Colby kept calling it the Goddamn Wawa, and they had no involvement with the “situation.”)

I have written before that I have food allergies that prevent me from eating anything Asian or from health food joints (soy), ever entering Bubba Gump’s (shrimp) and, most devastatingly, indulging in Nutella (hazelnuts). Despite reading the label of everything I put in my mouth on Saturday, I had a pretty severe allergic reaction to something around 4 PM. We have decided to let Colby write the details of my descent into allergy hell because she got to watch it unfold and frankly, we are twisted people who found humor in it and I want her to make me laugh about it again (now that we know I am not going to die). I will say that if you ever find yourself in an urgent medical situation, you could not have better people beside you than Colby and Diva Cindi. #truth. I was so, so lucky to have them with me.

So, from 4 PM Saturday until we left for the race at 5:30 AM Sunday, I really wasn’t sure whether I would be able to race. Being fully doped up on Benadryl, I wasn’t able to focus enough to obsess over it, but I was pretty anxious and bummed.

Getting ready for the race, I decided I could do it. Much of the swelling in my face had subsided, my breathing was totally normal and the nauseated feeling I had was probably more due to mainlining Benadryl than the allergic reaction itself. OK, Girls, It’s GO Time!!

We strategically posed to block my right eye, which was still crazily swollen. The left one that is showing just looks like I broke up with my boyfriend. As a courtesy to fellow runners and spectators, I wore my sunglasses during the race.

We strategically posed to block my right eye, which was still crazily swollen. The left one that is showing just looks like I broke up with my boyfriend and was crying all night. As a courtesy to fellow runners and spectators, I wore my sunglasses during the race.

We walked over under crisp dark skies. Bag check couldn’t have been easier. Porta-potties were a different story, but through perseverance and MacGyver-like strategy, we found some that had a manageable line and made it through before corral line up. Barely.

With only minutes to spare, the elites were off. Colby and I were in the second corral, so our group started about 10 minutes later. The sun was coming up, the skyline was gorgeous, and despite my residual nausea, I decided I was going to enjoy this race.

All I can say about the first half is that it was awesome. We wound through the city streets, past gorgeous buildings, supportive crowds, rollicking energy and even a few frat houses. My stomach did not feel great, but my mind felt happy and my running felt strong. It was sheer joy and exactly why I run.

Just before mile 13, Colby, Diva Cindi and the rest of the half marathoners split off to the right toward the finish and we marathoners headed left for a jaunt along the Schuylkill River. Shortly after the split, my stomach really started to give me trouble. I’m not the type to share details, so suffice it to say that I had to visit 4 separate porta-potties between mile 14 and mile 24. I was not happy. And being the true sicko runner that I am, I was less bothered that I was sick than by the fact that I was wasting time –serious time- waiting in line for porta-potties. During a marathon. Ugh. But when it comes down to it, what can you do but cover up your Garmin and move on? Which is exactly what I did.

Around mile 18, I realized that I was no longer going to be able to eat or drink during this journey, and that anything – including water – would just come back up on me, so thus concluded the fuel and hydration portion of my race. In case anyone was wondering, Benadryl is not a performance enhancer and you should make every effort to avoid having to dope yourself with it before an endurance event. My system was in chaos. I did stop at every water stop to wash my mouth out with Gatorade and water, but didn’t dare swallow anything.

The silver lining is that my stomach is my weak spot. Always. Knock wood, I never have problems with my muscles. I happily don’t even know where my IT band is. I walked around in 4 inch heels at work yesterday -2 days after a marathon – with nary a twinge in my calves or hamstrings. I am blessed with resilient muscles. But I also have an Irish stomach, so I know stomach problems. Quite well. And it is the rare training run that doesn’t leave me with some stomach problem or other, so I know I can power through it. Will I need a potty break? Yes. Will it slow me down? Yes. But it need not stop me, and my training has taught me this. So the fact that I was going to have to run 8 more miles with no gels or water and probably a visit or three to a porta-potty didn’t panic me as much as it might. It mostly just bummed me out because I knew I had to throw all hope of getting a great time out the window. And with all of my splits through mile 14 in the low to mid-8’s with even a high 7 thrown in, I had been pretty excited about seeing how fast I could cross the finish. Bummer.

But it wasn’t all misery. There were some great cheer sections and awesome bands. The Manayunk neighborhood was rocking and people were handing out beers (I declined, natch). The run along the river was pretty, and I was running the race, which was in question a mere 12 hours before. So I really was grateful, despite the difficulties.

By Mile 22, I was really feeling the effects of no fuel or hydration, so I went into autopilot. Not finishing was not an option. And I knew I could do it, even if it wouldn’t be pretty and it certainly wouldn’t be a PR. I set my mp3 to “repeat” and for each of the last 4 miles, I chose one song and played it over and over until the next mile. I recommend trying that if you find yourself in a tough spot. It really helped me to zone out and keep to a rhythm. At mile 26, headphones came off and I ran toward the finish line like it was my job. I did it! I freaking did it. I really felt like I earned that medal.

Done and Done! For some reason, I'm holding up my orange juice cup instead of my medal. Possibly because I was hypo-glycemic.

Done and Done! For some reason, I’m holding up my orange juice cup instead of my medal. Possibly because I was hypo-glycemic.

This was my second marathon, and although I’m happier with my time from the Marine Corps Marathon last year, I think I’m prouder of my performance in this one. I didn’t give up. Not before the race and not during the race. I always want to think of myself as someone who doesn’t give up, and I feel like I proved it. And for that, I feel really, really proud.

I also can’t help but think back about how important training is. You think you’re just training for endurance, but you’re not. By running all sorts of distances in all sorts of conditions for months before a marathon, you’re also training to deal with all of the adversities that may befall you on race day – bad weather, twingy calves, tight hamstrings or an upset stomach. Dealing with your own weaknesses in training gives you the confidence to deal with them if they happen on raceday. Training sometimes feels like a chore, but really, it’s a gift.

So, Philly is in the books! Loved the city, loved the people and really enjoyed the course. So glad I did it.  And with that, I’m off to call my allergist to figure out which food I need to add to my no-no list.

Oh, and JUST WAIT until Colby posts her recap. Be prepared to spit your coffee out.

‘Twas the Night Before Race Day

20141126-222452-80692928.jpg‘Twas the night before race day, when all through the town
No sleep would be had by the runners around;
Their race clothes were laid by the door with care,
In hopes that a PR soon would be there.

The rest of the world – they were snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
But for runners like me, sleep would not come,
We tossed and we turned until up came the sun,

Only then did our bodies succumb to a nap,
But then – BOOM! Our alarms went off like a slap.
We frantically pulled our clocks to our faces,
To make sure we hadn’t slept through our races.

Next: Check the weather. Sunny or Snow?
Running through heat or twenty below?
Even though we’d stalked the forecast forever,
We needed that last minute check on the weather.

Time to get dressed, get stressed over layers,
Yes, it’s cold now, but what about later?
Sure we can shed some clothes as we go,
But where goes the damn race bib? We know it must show.

Once our wardrobe is finally complete,
It’s time for the Glide and to deal with our feet!
Glide is easy: everywhere it goes
More difficult is dealing with feet and with toes.

Long or short socks? Compression or not?
Too risky to try the new ones we’ve bought?
And no matter how much we adjust our right sock,
There’s a bump in it that feels like it’s hiding a rock.

Next come the sneakers, a whole different stress
One wrong lace and BINGO! Your feet are a mess.
First they’re too loose. Then they’re too tight.
On race day they never ever ever feel right.

Next up: some food, though it’s barely daylight
And who wants to eat when it’s still kind of night?
So we choke down bagels, maybe oatmeal instead,
And toss back some coffee to wake up our heads.

Breakfast is over, so now we must pack
Some fuel to eat for a mid-race snack.
Chompers or gel? Sport beans or Gu?
Too many choices, so we just grab a few.

We’re dressed! We’re packed! We finished our meal!
Time to head out – shit’s getting real!
But of course we cannot just head out the door,
Without visiting the loo, at least one time more.

Off to the race site, time to check in,
Stare at the elites – those guys might win!
Then straight to the porta potties – get in a line,
We know that is where we will spend most of our time.

After spending quality time at the John
We realize the moment has come to move on
And make our way over to the starting line;
Adjust our Garmin and pacebands one final time.

Do a few stretches, hand to your heart,
As the national anthem signals the start.
Excitement builds, you’re ready to burst,
Whether it’s your fiftieth race or your first.

The countdown begins and off goes the gun,
It’s finally here – the race has begun!.
So we look up and wish on the new morning star,
“HAPPY RACE DAY TO ALL, AND TO ALL A PR!!

Brighten Up! 6 High Visibility Items for Running in Low Light

driving scaredTo The Guy Running in All Black in the Pitch Dark:

I totally get that you need to get your run in. I’m a runner too. In fact, I just got my run on IN A HEAD LAMP AND LIGHT UP VEST. How’s about a little bit of reflective gear next time? A lil’ high visibility gear for running in low-light conditions. Low light = dark, in case you missed the equation. A bright shirt? A flashing light? A glow stick? Did the two cars honking, swerving and skidding to a stop because WE COULDN’T SEE YOU AT ALL scare the snot out of you? Good.

Thankfully, you’re in one piece. Now go get a goddamn light up vest. Here are 6 items you might wanna pick up for running in the dark. It’s either that or Roadkill. Your choice. Meanwhile, I’ll take a Xanax and wash it down with a glass of wine to get my heart rate down after nearly running your Ninja-ass over.

The sun sets early. Get your shit together. Fool.

XOXO,
Colby, A Runner Without A Death Wish.

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This actually has happened FOUR TIMES in the last two weeks, promoting this rant on our Facebook page. The odds are NEVER in your favor when you play the Running Ninja Game in the Northeast after Daylight Savings. Sun sets around 4:30pm. And it’s only going to get earlier, People. Something horrible is bound to happen. And I ain’t volunteering as Tribute. This troubles me as both a runner and driver. I have put together a list of high visibility gear for running during these dark days of winter. I have several of these items and I can tell you that they have saved my ass on many occasions. Multiple points of light are better. Drivers can then tell that you’re human, and not a fox who snatched a flashlight. Sweet Jesus, BRIGHTEN UP. More Running Bellagio Hotel and less Grim Reaper in Black Nike Frees. Got it? Good.

1. Tracer360, by Noxgear.
Wear it over a t-shirt in summer, or bulky jacket in winter. Finish up your run and head straight to a rave. It’s a vest and glow stick all rolled into one. LED. Fiber optic technology. Battery operated. Light. And super bright.

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2. Glow Beacon Jacket, by New Balance.
The color pops in low light and reflective trim gives 360-degree visibility at night. In pitch black, this baby glows. I need this. For real. I do.

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3. Glow in the Dark 1400, by New Balance.
These sneaks are at the corner of Awesome and Bombdiggity. High visibility colors, super reflective details. In my humble, non-proessional opinion, more running sneakers need reflective bits. Most have some, but I think they all could use more.

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4. StrobeLight, by Nathan Soorts
This little sucker clips right on you- belt, gear, or apparel. They also aren’t super expensive either. Get a few. High visibility blinking and steady light modes so drivers can see you at a distance. She’s also water-resistant. So you can run at night, in the rain. Joy.

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5. TIKKA® XP, by Petzl
I love my Petzl head lamp. This one is a multi-beam lamp that also has a Boost mode and red light and strobe mode. It also features constant lighting technology- the brightness does not decrease. I love my Petzl and have used it for camping, running, Ragnar relaying, taking out the trash, black outs, bank robbing, mining….

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6. Knuckle Lights
I have these. And they are badass. You will kick the shit out of The Night with your Knuckle Lights! You put them on your hands and they really do light your path. Bright, even, steady. Light the way!

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Photos of products were taken directly from their own respective website.

Do you run at night? What’s your favorite piece of reflective gear? Have you had a brush with death either running or riding at night?

Need more cowbell Colby?
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Find Colby and Tina on Facebook—->It’s A Marathon AND A Sprint

Taper Tips!!

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Yep – I’m in taper mode, and thought I’d jot down a few tips for dealing with this critical – yet oh, so difficult – period.

No, not for the runner. What the hell do I know? This is only my second taper. There are plenty of articles by experts on how to use your taper period for maximum performance. All I know is that my house is a lot cleaner than it has been in months and I’m officially obsessed with Homeland, now that I have the time to watch it.

What I have for you are some tips for the people who have to live with you, or deal with you every day, during your taper. Because I’m no expert on marathoning, but I’m well-versed in the crazy. And I think that the taper may be harder on your loved ones than on you. So let’s help them out a bit, shall we?

Without further ado, here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for loved ones of Crazy Taperers:

1. DON’T tell them they’re crazy to worry. Don’t tell them they’re crazy at all. They know they’re crazy. Broaching the subject is just poking the bear. And even sane people tend to worry about things that mean a lot to them. The upcoming marathon is worth running 18 miles in a windstorm with the remnants of a shiner from the previous week’s long run. It is worth getting up in the dark to “squeeze” in a 17-miler before a full day of work and other commitments. It is worth staying in on weekend nights to be fresh for a super-long run the next morning. Suffice it to say, the race is worth A LOT to them. The Crazy Taperer might be crazy, but the worry isn’t a sign of it – it is just a sign of how much the race means to them. And yes, even if they have knocked off 7 prior marathons, there is a part of them that worries that they might not finish. Yes, Really. So don’t look at them like they’re crazy for thinking that. Maybe don’t look at them at all.

2. DON’T ask them to do anything. Not the time to trot out the “Honey Do” list. Or ask if they’ve paid the mortgage, gone grocery shopping or picked up the kids from school. Or whether they can go to dinner with your boss, mother or friend from summer camp. Or whether they can hand you the remote. Leave them alone. Don’t poke the bear.

3. DON’T touch their food. You might see weird food in your house. If you see gels, goos, chews, algae bits, bars, powders, weird fruits, vegetables or juices, don’t touch ‘em. If you see something that was not regularly stocked in your parents’ home when you were growing up, don’t touch it. And if it was something your parents bought, but only because they were hippies, don’t touch that either. If you see any carb-heavy foods in your kitchen, back slowly away and DO NOT TOUCH them unless your beloved Crazy Taperer has told you that there are enough pancakes for both of you. Better to lose out on a bagel than lose a finger.

4. DON’T touch their gear. Maybe it is freezing and you want to run out and get the paper so the Crazy Taperer can get the New York Times and coffee delivered bedside. Don’t put on the Crazy Taperer’s running jacket or hat to do so. Crazy Taperer will notice if they have been touched and will freak. Maybe it’s Halloweeen and you want to throw on your Crazy Taperer Mom’s LED flashers to avoid being hit by cars in your black ninja costume. DON’T. Take your chances with the cars – you have better odds of survival.

5. DON’T wake them up. Ever. Whether it is morning, noon or night. Just…don’t. They’re tired. Very, very tired. And while they are sleeping, you’ll get a break from the crazy.

6. DON’T ask them if it is really a good idea to do a Spartan followed by a night out with their drinking buddies the week before their marathon. Or a Warrior Dash that ends at a Shock Top tent the week before their first Ultra. We all know the answers and the questions need not be asked. They signed up, they don’t skip races, and they’re doing it even though it is stupid. There is nothing to discuss. Don’t poke the bear.

7. DO start weather stalking. Check the weather for the race location starting about 2 weeks out. No, it won’t be accurate. That’s not the point. The point is that the Crazy Taperer will also be checking and it will prepare you to deal with an even worse mood or, perhaps, a few moments of calm and happiness. Maybe even a ray of hope. Don’t discuss your findings, though. Just consider it useful reconnaissance. A weather-related conversation prior to race day will rarely go well. Trust me.

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8. DON’T ask if they have PMS. Or whether they think they might be going through “The Change” or “Manopause.” Unless you want to die a slow and painful death.

9. DO give them a lot of space. Like, a whole house full of space. Lots and lots of space. A business trip is not a bad idea. Nor is serving on a jury that requires sequestration.

10. DO tell them that you know they will do great. Tell them that you are so proud of how hard they have trained and what you know that they will accomplish on race day. Even though they will yell at you for saying it and tell you that you just don’t understand. They will argue, but they will hear you and appreciate it. They really will.

Most importantly DO keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and after the race, you will get to enjoy time with your loved one while they are on a runner’s high of EPIC proportions. Well worth the crazy of the Taper. Be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.

Taper on!