Running While Sick

Who catches a cold during the summer? Believe it or not, many people do. This year, I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to fall into that cold-catching category. After a week of dealing with a massive sore throat, congestion, a temperature and the chills, the last thing I wanted to do was to go run. After signing up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon a few days ago, however, I realized that my sneakers had not hit the pavement since. Not running was definitely not a good start to utilizing the 200+ days of training, of which I need every single day. The problem is, however, how does one, or should one run when they’re sick?

I must admit I wrestled with my body and emotions for a good two hours this morning. Should I go? Should I crawl back under the covers? If I did go, just what would I be able to do? Needless to say, I spent a good hour looking for the shorts that I already knew were hanging on the back of the door. Dressed…done… Track, treadmill or street? Did it really matter? Probably not, so I headed to the track. Despite feeling like my being there was the beginning of a very bad idea, I set my timer for 30 minutes instead of a particular distance. It wasn’t too bad and before I knew it, five whole minutes had passed. It wasn’t a full out, full on run, it was more like a ¼ speed, semi-pretend jog/stroll. I know that most people would have said that I might as well have stayed home, I was actually quite proud of the 30 minutes of movement I was able to accomplish.

Agreeing with the experts (otherwise known as what I learned):

Know your limits – It’s so tempting to want to get out there like it’s just a normal day, it’s not. Trying to do too much when you’re not up to par can lead to disastrous results. Concentrate on getting better; it will make the run just that much more enjoyable.

Stay hydrated – Dehydration when you’re sick is HUGE! It could be the difference between you missing a day or missing a month.

Take the day off – One day probably won’t make or break your training plan. If you just can’t take the day off, at least make it an easy day.

If you’re older, like me, remember we don’t quite bounce back the way we used to and that’s OK. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. We may not get to the finish line first, but we get there!

Ready, Set, Run – Disney Princess Half Marathon

I remember five short months ago as I was nearing the ten mile marker in the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I remember the mixed emotions that kept running through my mind. They ranged from “what the heck am I doing?” to “I can’t believe my legs hurt this much” to “I’m GOING to finish” to “well I’ve finished a bucket list item…never again will I ever, ever do something this crazy.”

Fast forward to almost five months later; today I was one of thousands of frantic runners trying to desperately log into the overwhelmed Disney (via Active.com) website furiously trying to register for the 2015 races. Last year, I don’t remember when I registered, but I don’t recall joining the first day fray. I’m glad I did this year because by the time I got home from work, the Disney Princess Half Marathon, the Glass Slipper Challenge and the 10K were all sold out! Registration was tough. It did take almost 45 minutes for me to successfully get through every screen after being booted out numerous times. I’m sure for RunDisney, it has nowhere to go but uphill from here (we hope).

The bottom line is that $170 is paid for the Half Marathon and to add on the fun… I also signed up for the 5K. So today is the day, the clock has started…218 days from today I’ll be at the starting line again. This time, I know what to expect. I know hydration, hydration, hydration. I know to actually do some long runs this time. I know that I need to run a 10K to add a time so that I’m hopefully not in the last corral dancing with the balloon ladies. I know what I need to do and I have 218 days to do it. Ready, set….

Disney Running Newbie Asks the Expert

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When is the perfect time to start training for my second Disney Princess (or any) half-marathon? The correct answer is shortly after finishing the first. This time, my training plans included getting some real expert advice. After racking my brain, I figured who better to ask questions than a long-time Disney runner, multi-race volunteer, Coast to Coast Finisher (two times I might add), and runner of about 50+ races (including 5Ks, 10ks, half AND full marathons)? Drum roll…please! Introducing my sister… Liz.

To set a scene, picture, if you will, two runners just finishing the Disney Princess Half Marathon. One of us barely is breaking a sweat. The other is clutching her side, gasping for air and trying to catch her breath from the finish (that would be me).

Me: So, Liz, what do you think is the BEST way to prepare for a half marathon?

Liz: Read ALL the information you can on the actual race website. Ask questions on Facebook, but take the time to make sure someone else didn’t ask that same exact question, 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes ago. They are happy to help, but it drives your fellow runners a bit batty.

Me: Yeah, that would be me. I have to remember that!

Me: I don’t think I trained as much as I should have, judging by the humongous cramps I got around mile 8. Any advice? When to start?

Liz: You have to train, whether you are running, walking or a combo of the two. Jumping straight to the Dopey is probably not wise, unless you’ve been running all along. Training IS more important than your costume.

Me: That’s funny, you know me so well! I think I did spend more time trying to find the perfect outfit. If I was going to fail, I wanted to make sure at least I looked good. It doesn’t have to be an epic failure though; training would ensure that I looked good running across the finish line, not on the pick-up bus.

Me: There seems to be a LOT of rules. Are they sticklers for enforcing them or is there any wiggle room?

Liz: Don’t expect Race Directors to make an exception for you. Make your travel reservations early enough for packet pickup. Yes, you need to finish within the time constraints. Check this before you pay your money!

Me: True, I would have been so upset to plunk down $170 and not finish.

Me: Where can I find even more information about races and running in general, instead of bothering you all the time?

Liz: Google blogs from other runners/walkers and read the comments regarding the race. This is an invaluable source of info. Read Runner’s World and other running websites, so that you understand the lingo (corral, packet pick up, bib, etc.); you learn about nutrition; you learn about injuries, etc. If your first race is a large one, set aside some time to listen to the Speakers at the expo. These are the people who know what is going on.

Me: Wow. There is a lot more to running a race then just signing up. I agree information is the key! I’m feeling a bit more knowledgeable already!

Liz: We can always be better informed and have more reasonable expectations when we do some research. Definitely a better way to ensure that you have a great race weekend, not just for RunDisney, but for any race!

Me: Awesome advice! Thanks Liz!

As the credits role to a close, feel free to picture me hobbling to the ice table as visions of a training game plan starts to form in the cloud above my head.

See you at the races!

About Liz: Liz B has run multiple races including many Disney Half-Marathons (both at Disneyland and Disney World) and the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon. She also runs a host of other 5Ks and 10ks. Liz most recently completed her first full marathon only a week after running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. The best thing about it? Liz is a rockin’ grandma too! To grandmothers everywhere, we’ve got this!

Nothing Wrong with a 5K Walk

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Have you ever been in this situation? You start the day with a fantastic plan in mind…a run at the end of the day.  I was actually quite proud of myself.  After getting dressed for work, I grabbed my Run Like a Mother bag, filled it with the essentials – my favorite sneakers, some socks, my favorite running shorts and my Color Me Rad t-shirt (a little motivation from my last race). Ready!

The first item I had to check off my list was going to the job. It really wasn’t a bad day, no meetings, no interviews…For a quick moment; I was finally all caught up with everything from recruiting to FMLA requests. Not bad, not bad…When you have a day like that, the mantra just gets stronger… “I will run after work today. I will not go home. I will go straight to the track. I will not be defeated”, but sometime during the day the strong passion can occasionally fade a bit.

Defeat is such a strong word and it can often take on so many forms.  Sometimes it’s excuses…it is 100 degrees out here, OK it was only 87, but it felt like a 100, which sounded like a better excuse. I forgot my hat.  Really? Really? Who uses a hat as an excuse? I think I just did.

Home…  Home could not, would not be my final destination. All my plans…chanting my mantra, no, I have to go the track. The bottom line is that sometimes you have to accept the fact that it’s not going to be the best run. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that you just can’t do it, but you can’t give up. I could have gone home and stayed, but I didn’t.  It might not even have been a run today, but sometimes just getting out the door is the prize.  One step closer to my Disney Half. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with a 5K walk.

 

At What Length Would I Race?

Image  I met some very remarkable characters at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC.  I volunteered and didn’t run the race, but I did engage in some very thought-provoking discussions.  Speaking with many runners and volunteers made me take a moment, sit back and reflect on the question – What lengths would I go to, in order to run a marathon?

Would I run with injuries?  We all know that runners will run as far as they can, as long as they can – injury be darned.  Even outside of the Nike Race, I know so many people on the “injury bench”.  Despite their doctor’s warning, however, they will lace up those sneakers and give it a try, “just to see” if they’ve healed enough to run.  At point would I decide to listen to the doctor and sit this race out – wait to heal and then run again? I’ve been “plagued” with Plantar Fasciitis for months now; I refuse to give in, even if it means hopping on one foot every morning until I can put my foot on the ground.

What if my finances were…challenged? Money may be tight, but I can’t help but sign up for just one…more….race…   Imagine signing up for a race and by race weekend, however, you really couldn’t afford to go.  Would you still go?  After all, you’ve paid for the race. I met one woman who was going through very similar circumstances.  In fact, I met her before I had heard about her situation. What amazed me was that in talking to her, I never would have known.  She was so friendly, upbeat and cheerful!  Racing does that to people.  If I didn’t have the money would I race? Maybe not, but I’d still run!

What about the Disney Races? Those, and many like them, are not cheap.  The race is a pretty penny, as well as, getting there, lodging and eating.  I must say that Disney is my happy place, so the thought of not ever being able to go again, would be depressing.  What would I give up to sign up for a Run-Disney Race?

I think that these are just some of the questions that we all ask ourselves.  What length would I go to race? I’m still pondering that question.   I guess it’s important to remember, the bling is nice, but it’s all about the run. Right?

Volunteers: A View from the Other Side

ImageI’ve run a few races by now and I must say that a race is sometimes only as good as its volunteers. Not enough volunteers to man the many stations, runners suffer. No race coordinator should ever want to be in that position.  Volunteers should definitely be appreciated.  It’s been a couple of weeks; maybe I’m just recovering from the experience (just kidding).  I finally had my first volunteer experience! It was for the Nike – DC Half Marathon two weeks ago.  Actually I had to reflect upon the experience.  Did I enjoy it? Was volunteering all it was cracked up to be? Would I do it again? Let’s run the numbers.

The sign up – I had previously spoken about the volunteer “black hole”. I’d applied to volunteer often, but never heard anything back.  This time, my sister reached out to the volunteer coordinator who said I was “in the database” and would receive an email.  Gotta love sisters who go out of their way to help your dreams come true! Two days later, however, no email in my inbox, I emailed the coordinator myself.  A day later, she returned my email, with an email that said I was in the database and that she would email me the next day with instructions. An email telling me I was getting an email? Sadly enough, I was so excited. Unfortunately, not only did I not get an email, but when I showed up at volunteer check-in my name wasn’t even on the list.

Volunteer day – After telling the volunteer coordinator which position I had signed up to volunteer for (my name wasn’t on the list), she waved her hand in the direction of the T-shirt pick up tent.  After about 10 minutes of instruction with the section leader, I was stationed at my own corner of T-Shirt pick up handing out unisex t-shirts. I’d arrived!

The shift – The spectrum of runners was pretty interesting.  I would definitely say that if I had dropped $170 plus for a race, I would expect perfection too. I would want the shirt size I ordered and if I looked at it and it was too small, I would want to trade it in.  Unfortunately we, the volunteers, were not empowered to make the change on our own.  The first day volunteers were, but the coordinators were afraid of running out of the larger sizes by the second day. There were some runners that were awesome, others that told me that they were going to cause a problem until they got what they wanted. One person stood in the middle of the tent and loudly proclaimed her appreciation for volunteers! Awesome!

The other volunteer leaders – I think sometimes the power can go to the head of some leaders.  While some treated the volunteers with respect, others treated the volunteers like they were uneducated children.  Their tone really didn’t work for me. Nor, did I really like them standing close enough for me to hear them making fun of certain volunteers. That really didn’t work for me. All I can say is “karma”. We are volunteers, not idiots.  Other volunteer leaders are terrific. They know exactly how to get the best work out of people and they are a pleasure to work with. 

Anyway, the shift work ebbed and flowed. I talked to a lot of great people. Shared some race experiences (I have those now) and generally had a really great time.  Would I do it again? Absolutely! Looking forward to it!

A Year of FMRMC

Support is a beautiful thing and it comes in all shapes and sizes.  Last May in an effort to train for the half-marathon, lose weight (hopefully) and get healthy, I joined a group called The Fatty Must Run Marathon Challenge, or more affectionately called FMRMC.  The group was the brain child of Julie Creffield from London (yes, the group had a wonderful international flavor).  Some would be offended by the title, but it was actually quite fun.  A happy group of women with sparkling humor, united for a common goal.

Over sixty women applied for the opportunity and fifteen of us were chosen to join this fledgling group offering support and sharing best practices, as we each pledged to complete a marathon within 12 months – or in my case, a half-marathon.  A closed Facebook group was formed and even our Twitter handle became the famous #FMRMC.

We went through a lot as a group.  Each month presented a new challenge – 30 days of planking, a month of clean eating; all in an effort to not only train for our respective races, but to also develop healthier habits.  Each month, I found myself actually looking forward to the next newsletter to start a new challenge!

The year has flown by. Unfortunately we lost some members along the way, mostly from injuries.  We gained new members and fully embraced them as partners in our quest.  As I look back over the year, I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished. I ran races; I completed a half-marathon and managed to change some of my habits and incorporate new ones.  I’ve even started to enjoy more veggies – who knew!

The year will be over in a couple of weeks and it’s been a ride.  I have been so honored to be a part of the program.  For the ladies of the FMRMC, I thank you for the time we spent “together”, spread out all over the world, but united in a single goal. GO FMRMC!

Size doesn’t matter! Check out Julie’s Blog!

http://thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com/

The Race Volunteer Black Hole

ImageI love races – the sense of accomplishment, meeting new people…so much fun!  I also love the volunteers who donate their time to cheer and assist the millions of runners, in the millions of races. How many times were you almost at that point when you were about ready to give up and then you saw a big smile, heard a hearty handclap and exciting cheer to keep going?

Where do those awesome volunteers come from? How do they get picked? I don’t know, maybe it’s me. I’ve signed up to volunteer for at least five races. I visited their website, filled in the requested information, hit submit and then patiently waited…and waited…and waited. I don’t want to name races, because even though no one contacted me, I’m not trying to bash any of the events. I’m also trying not to take it personally, but when you offer to volunteer your time and no one seems interested, it’s hard not to get that “what’s wrong with me” feeling.

Where do the applications go? I know many job seekers often complain of the “black hole” phenomenon. It’s sad when it happens in the volunteer world too. I remember a 5K/10K race last year. There were hardly any volunteers, despite the many pleas for help they sent out. The race was so short-staffed, in fact, there was no one at the one water table so we had to stop and pour warm water out of jugs. Nor was there anyone to help direct us through a confusing course. The lack of volunteers was so bad, people who had signed up to run the 10K, actually stopped running at the 5!

I know that race planners have a difficult time.  There are probably many volunteers who don’t bother to show up for whatever reason. I, however, would love to volunteer at a race. I guess I’ll figure it out one day…haven’t been able to yet, but I’m confident one day the mystery of becoming a race volunteer will unlock for me. Until then many, many thanks to the millions of volunteers who help make every race…magical.

Tuesday 2.02 Run

Have you ever had one of those days when you just didn’t feel like going out the door? Of course, no one has EVER had one of those days….right? Even though we may struggle with momentary motivation, sometimes we have to find the fun. We need to create that one thing that will get us out the door with our eyes on the prize. But how? I decided to name my run, at least for today!

Welcome to 2.02 Tuesday. I truly fought with myself today. Gym, track, or stay home? After taking a Zumba class last night for the first time in about two months, the temptation to stay home was great, but I had to keep the training momentum going. Got dressed and headed out the door – stay home, dashed. Track or treadmill? Did I really feel like going to the gym to play “push the buttons” on the treadmill to alter my running speed?  (Ha, I do use the word “speed” loosely) Treadmill – dashed. I headed to the school track – just to see how many people would be there.

It seems that a school track is the place to be on weeknight.  Runners, walkers, singles, families…all gather and turn a quiet track into a great place for motivation.  One lap, two lap….it was starting to feel really good.  Suddenly the dreaded training actually became fun.  I set a goal in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I do love running, but I still had to get back home to cook dinner, I set a goal to go 2.02 miles.  A goal that I couldn’t even visualize just 15 minutes before was fast becoming a reality. I will tell you, however, that I stopped abruptly when I hit 2.02…not because I was tired or that I couldn’t keep going – but the purpose of today was to set a fun goal and hit it.  Now that I have proven I can do that, tomorrow I’ll set a new one. The only problem is that I have to find a catchy title that goes with “Wednesday.”  Gotta love the run. 

Running Motivation in a Cupcake

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Where do you find motivation? I’ve found that it’s OK to truly love running and still have those days when you just don’t feel like it.  Why is it sometimes so much easier to do something unhealthy, then it is to do something healthy?  You know the days – when the only thing you want to do after a long day is to go home, take a nice shower and crawl into bed with a good book and the television blaring your favorite movie.  Those are the days, however, when I have to look outside myself for motivation.

Sometimes we find motivation in the strangest places. Yesterday my motivation was a cupcake, actually a black forest cupcake.  So sweet, yet so simple.  One of my staff had a birthday party, which I was unfortunate enough to have missed.  Always thinking of me, however, she left a delicious surprise on my desk – a black forest cupcake just for me.  Next to chocolate, this is one of my very favorites.

I had spent the last two days practicing clean eating. Grapes were my “sweets”. I was loading my plate with vegetables, feeling pretty proud of myself, in fact.  Here I was, however, at 6:30 p.m. with a cupcake smelling good and staring me in the face. It doesn’t take a PH.D. to figure out what happened next, yes I ate it….and I was so happy.

Time to leave work…I had planned to go to the gym, but home was calling my name; after all there was always tomorrow. The dilemma set in as I drew nearer the time to make a decision; a left turn to go home, or drive straight to get to a treadmill.  Left to comfort, straight to go for a run.  That was when the memories of the cupcake spoke to me (not literally, but imagine).  Did I enjoy the cupcake? Yes.  Did I have any trouble lifting the cupcake and eating it? No.  Then why should I have a problem going to the gym? I shouldn’t. Then go…and go, I did.  Amazingly enough once I got there, I did my complete workout as planned – and thoroughly enjoyed it!  So what did I discover yesterday?  Even on days when I’m not feeling it and I know better – just as good as I can devour a yummy cupcake, I can go for the run.  So I guess I can safely say that my motivation – was a cupcake.

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