Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday's Shenanigans

The goal of today was to pack as much in as we could. I think we managed! I suffer from 'I hate to be home all day -itis'. Most weekends my hubby works Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 13 hour shifts. If I am without adult conversation and stuck indoors the whole time I start to go a little cuckoo's nest. So we started out this morning by me dragging the boys out of bed bright and early to support a great charity event hosted by Run Eat Tweet AZ. The rest of the peeps in the group did a run together. I am still not cleared for running. So I brought the boys' bikes and walked while they rode. The boys had a blast. There was lots of people walking their dogs, or running around the big lake at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale. I was just happy the boys didn't run over any puppies, or ducks from the lake! The charity event was for the Max Cure Foundation. It was so incredible to learn of their program and all they do to help fund cancer research. Our group donated 3 huge packed bags full of shoes that went towards their cause.

I am so glad another mommy from the group brings her cute boy so mine can have a buddy!
We all went out for brunch after the event. It was fun to visit with everyone since I did my own thing during the run. By the time we left 'Morning Squeeze' restaurant, it was only 11:30 am and we had nothing planned for the rest of the day. The freeway systems in AZ still freak me out after 7 years. I still get lost everywhere. But we were already out so we were gonna make the most of it and waste some time having fun. First stop was the Chandler Mall. The boys love the play place there. I love it because it's: air conditioned, the boys can run like crazy, they have soft seats for me, and I can sit and wave at the boys while checking stuff on my phone. An hour to Instagram and Pinterest, yes please! Any chance I can squeeze in some 'me time' while the boys think I am watching them play is good in my book.

While the kids played I snacked on the Huppy Bar I was given to do a review on. I wanted to like these so bad. The ingredients are amazeballs. So clean, and all natural. I live on bars since we are always on the go. I don't think I have ever seen a bar with all the super food in it before. Nuts, seeds, organic oats, flax, etc However, I just didn't like it. It contained spirulina, a superfood, and I think I tasted that too strongly. If you have a palate that can take strong flavors and wholesome ingredients than this is a bar for you. After a good hour at the play place we browsed a few clothing stores. That went pretty good until the boys decided to trick me and hide under the clothing racks to quietly watch me panic and run around yelling their names. They would pop out and yell BOO just giggling away. I don't know if I should've laughed or paddled them.  I had about enough of the trying to shop, but we couldn't leave without spending another hour in the Lego store. Free fun is about my favorite thing in the world. The Lego store is always a hit because they can build Lego's, play interactive games, and I am mean enough to be able to  leave the store empty handed not having spent a dime. I am lucky that my kids have learned that although I may like to do fun things with them, and most days are centered around them, I rarely buy them something unless they have earned it. I don't want it to be a battle every time we walk in a toy store. I don't want them to expect to come away with a new toy each time. 

We capped off the day finding a great park to play at. I was starting to have some negative self talk by this point. Friends from my running group had started texting pics of our morning's event. Between looking at those pics and trying a few outfits at the mall, I was starting to get down about my figure. None of the clothes I tried on looked good. My arms are starting to look like linebacker arms. My shorts leave intentions on my gut. I hate to blog about body image because I know we all look so different. But I do believe that this is a topic we can all relate with. I have put on 8 lbs since surgery. I haven't run in 89 days, but spent lots of those days eating like I was still running. 3 months ago I could still find stuff I didn't like about my body. If only I could get rid of my back fat or my butt more lifted and so on. What would I give to have that body I previously had! Why did I have to find stuff wrong with it when now I wish it for it back? Why do we do that?? Most women can find some thing wrong with our self image no matter how fit or unfit we are. I am sure that a time will come that I will look back and think, "why the heck could I have not just been happy with how I looked after surgery compared to now?!"  I want to make a conscious effort to STOP that negative self talk. Hopefully if you struggle with this, you can join me in this effort. I was pushing my boys on the swing while whining about my gained weight in my mind. My oldest son Kade suddenly yelled out to me... 
"Mom guess what? I am so lucky!"
"Why are you so lucky bud?"
"Because I have the best mom in the whole world".
I immediately teared up. I owe it to my boys to love myself so that I can love them. I owe it to my family to be happy with who I am no matter if my arms are perfectly toned or not. I have to accept that no matter if I am 115 lbs or 125 lbs, there will prob still be something I don't like about my body. But I need to punch those thoughts in the face. My family and friends do not care what I weigh. I don't want to let that negative self talk dictate my mood any longer. 

We got home in enough time to get dinner ready for my hubby after his long day. It was grilled cheese and apples for the boys and chili for Nate and I. Yes, I make separate meals every night for us. I envy the moms who are determined enough to just make one meal and the kids know they have to eat what the parents are eating or they go to bed hungry. I am not there yet. On the nights I cook, the boys get a separate meal of nuggets or mac&cheese etc. You just do your best right?! The boys are great a drinking green smoothies but still struggle with eating veggies. If you are a chili lover then you have got to try this. Ground turkey, diced chilied tomatoes, whatever cans of beans you like (I do pinto and black), corn, and my favorite is El Pato' sauce mixed in. I microwave a sweet potato and throw the chili on top. Paired it with my favorite way to eat veggies which is oven roasted. Spray a little EVOO on top and there you have it. Easy, simple, and pretty healthy.  Hope everyone had an eventful weekend. And remember to love your imperfections!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Magical Running Shoes

One thing that most all runners have in common is our love for running shoes! Runners are a funny breed and most of us hoard running shoes. Guilty here! Between my hubby and I, we go through an insane amount of running shoes. It is important to change out your shoes anywhere between 200-500 miles. We tend to aim for the 400/500 mark because of the cost. My hubby averages 200 miles a month. When I was healthy I averaged 160 miles a month. That has us buying a new pair of shoes every couple months. Yikes!

So question is, what do you do with your worn out shoes?? Use them for walking, yard work, chillin shoes, lifting weights??

What is it about a running shoe that makes it SO dang hard to part with? Some of those darn running shoes have a hold on me! A lot of blood, sweat, and tears happen between you and your shoes. "Our running shoes have magic in them-the power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle"-By Mina Samuels.  I still have the pair that I ran in while running my first marathon with my hubby. We finished hand in hand (yes, I admit we are total cheese balls). It was back when Saint George Marathon still did the chips on the shoes. I took that picture today of my shoes, the chip is still laced on them. I will never be able to part with those stinky shoes. We have gone on to do 7 Stg Marathons together since then. We leave tomorrow morning for this race. This will be my dad's 18th Saint George Marathon. I have the fondest of memories watching him race there. It is one of my very favorite family traditions that I have. I will be cheering from the side lines this year because of my ankle surgery. I am heartbroken that I have to miss it, but I am still happy to cheer on my family and the other runners.

If you are being honest with yourself. You really don't need to hoard old running shoes. Your closet and garage space will thank you if you find something worth while to do with them. Nate and I love to donate our shoes (Well besides those ones mentioned above lol) We have given them to friends in need and different charities. Many of the shoes still look brand new! Too many running shoes get thrown away or just take up space. Your worn out shoes really can make a difference to another person.

There is an AWESOME opportunity on October 11th to donate those worn out shoes. I totally understand that we all have that one pair that is just to hard to give up! BUT, what about the 2-10 other pairs laying around?! The awesome running group that I am a part of , Run Eat Tweet AZ , they are joining forces with  Dunk your Kicks for Pediatric Cancer! They are collecting those worn out shoes and all proceeds go towards local Arizona Children! Everyone who donates a pair of shoes will be entered into a giveaway for a $100 gift card to Fleet Feet Scottsdale...Yes Please! What an awesome chance to get money for a new pair! So anyone who happens to be in AZ Oct. 11th should come check it out. There will be multiple group runs available:
  • 10 mile long run starting at 6:00 am
  • 5 mile run and a 3 mile run/walk starting at 7:00 am
Everyone will meet at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale for scenic views around the Lake. Go check out Run Eat Tweet AZ Facebook page for more details.

Oh, and some more perks about coming: 1. Meet some awesome running peeps 2. Warm fuzzies for serving others in need. 3. Additional drawings for FREE race entries into StartingLine Racing Events events!


Monday, September 15, 2014

I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a runner

This post is going to be all about my thoughts. I won’t be offering any advice, or be sharing any recipes. I am going to try to express myself in a way my limited vocabulary will allow. I am not a professional writer or blogger. I am very busy, but find joy in all things TMI. I have been an over share-er my whole life. I enjoy expressing myself and connecting with other people that may have similar thoughts.  I also enjoy learning more about people with very different views. I am a people person, and love to talk about life. I am sure every post I write will have grammar and spelling errors. I can hardly find time to blog, let alone pour hours over editing. But I don’t want to let the fear of showing my imperfections stop me from doing something that I have found joy in these past few months. Especially with my recent surgery, I have a LOT more time on my hands. I can’t run, or even work (since my job is group fitness)…so I may as well write! Not all of my posts will be like this. I am in a self discovery; tell all mood (injuries seem to do that to me). So here goes!  It’s all about my thoughts on becoming a wife, becoming a mother, and still being a runner.

My cute barf baby Zane!
I often wished I was a mom that was fulfilled by all things motherhood.  To be honest, I really kind of hate lots to do with it. Gasp! Ahhh, I am an awful mother, who could ever say such a thing?! I know that to be completely false. I know that I am a very good mother. I love my 2 boys with every single ounce of my soul. I would do anything for them. I am their mama bear of protection. They have my whole heart. I am grateful for them every single day. I can’t imagine my life without them. I know more about selfless love than I ever knew possible.  Sometimes I have confused my feelings with not liking “motherhood things” with being a bad mom.  I have shared much about that on my Instagram family page.  Through journaling, and writing, I have been able to understand my feelings and differentiate between the two.  I don’t like lots of things that are stereotyped with being a stay-at-home mom, but I do know I love being a mother. I suffered from extreme postpartum depression and anxiety.  I really hesitate even talking about this because I don’t even like to reflect on who I was at that time. But I talk about it in hopes that it can help any other moms struggling with PPD. I hated feeling claustrophobic and stuck to the house during nap time. I hated being on a rigid schedule. I hated that I started to resent my husband when he got to leave for work or got to sleep. I hated mommy and me groups where all everyone talked about was milestones and birthing stories. But what bothered me most, is I hated myself for having these feelings. I never hated my boys. Not even once. And I also never regretted having them. I loved them more than I ever knew was possible! So what was wrong with me? Why did I have to have such conflicting feelings that were making me feel crazy???  

Let's rewind a bit...To tell you a little bit about my personality:  Growing up I did student government every year. I loved being involved in as many clubs, sports, and activities as possible. I always got excellent grades. I loved being up on stage during assemblies. I loved the crowds at football games. My friends and family were my whole world.  I grew up as an only girl with brothers. I would consider myself a feminist in the way that I felt the need to prove that I could do anything they did. That being a woman would never hold me back from achieving everything I ever wanted.  I just expected a lot from myself, and thrived when accomplishing things. I went into college with a leadership and sports scholarship at Southern Utah University. I became captain of my college soccer team. I was the NCAA woman’s representative for our school. I loved nothing more than living with roommates who became my best friends. I loved every minute of the bonding that goes with team sports. I went to all the campus activities. I loved my freedom. I continued to get straight A’s in college.  

After college I wasn't ready to settle down. I moved in with more friends and started teaching 4th grade. I continued to love my freedom. I went out every night.  I was involved with work friends, my church group; I held many leadership roles and truly was happy. I started running marathons because soccer didn't consume my whole life anymore. I began teaching fitness classes, picked up mountain biking, tennis, volleyball, coed softball, hiking, and basically ANYTHING that involved being around people and being active! Most of my friends had started getting married and settling down with families.  I still thought relationships were suffocating. One could say I was a hot mess, but it was just who I was.  I often wanted to be someone who could be more selfless and giving. I wanted to be like some of my friends who found their joy from settling down. However, I just wanted to rule world with friends by my side, not a man. All until I met Nate, the love of my life. I couldn't help myself, I fell in love. This freaked me out more than he or even I knew at the time. To say our first year was rough would be a little understatement. Was it all bad times? Absolutely not! I loved my husband dearly. It was just a huge adjustment for me. We moved to Arizona right off our Honeymoon. I didn't know a soul. My family, friends, and former life were still in Utah. I started teaching right away, and Nate started school. We both were runners before we were married. It was more of a hobby than a way of life at that time.   I knew I wanted kids. I couldn't wait to be a mom. I had no idea how hard it would be for me mentally.

 Just like marriage, it was a big adjustment for me transitioning into motherhood. I wanted to be the one to care for my kids so I was fortunate to be able to quit my job.  But becoming a stay at home mom was hard. Very hard!  Just like everything else in my life, I wanted to attack parenthood with all that I had. I wanted to “win” it! Only thing is, almost everything is out of your control. No matter how much you research, plan, or love your baby…you have no control over most of it! Even if you are trying your best, your baby may not sleep. Your baby will cry. Your baby will poop everywhere. Your baby will steal your heart. But I started to lose what made me tick in the process. I spent any extra hours when my baby finally slept searching online for what I could be doing better. I signed up for sewing lessons because moms are “supposed” to know how to sew for their kids, right? I purchased these crazy pots and pans thinking it would turn me into a homemaker/cook. Only good moms know how to cook, right?! How could I love my baby so much, but hate everything I was turning into? I lost myself in the process. I didn't trust myself. And when it came down to it, I just wasn't prepared. It was no longer just all about me and what I wanted. What I later realized is that being a mother turned me into a different me, and you know what, that is okay. It’s all about growth! I had to learn to be honest with myself. Did I really want to learn to sew? Heck no! Did I want to scrapbook? Never again. I am still learning to be okay with that. I am learning to not be jealous of others who so naturally took on that homemaker/motherhood role.  Motherhood made me more understanding, less judgmental, more patient, and loving. Let’s be honest, any moms out there know the list goes on and on. But I still hated parts of my life; I felt like a maid, I didn't like the responsibilities that came with growing up. I missed the feeling of not leading the masses, or being on stage.  I missed that feeling of personal growth.

This is where I believe running saved me. Sounds super cheesy! But it did. Racing more gave me something to work for. I could set goals and see growth. I learned that is still okay to be human after you become a parent. It is okay to want something for yourself. In fact, I now believe it is healthy for kids to see you are still a person. That you still have hopes, and dreams. It would be a disservice to grow up believing the whole world is all about you.  I discovered I could still give my all to my kids and carve out a little time for self growth. I developed deeper friendships and bonds with other runners. I am such a social person and always cherished that bond that came from team sports. It is something that I really don’t have to words to explain. I started to find that again through running.  I made lots of friends at my gym. I decided to re-certify and start working part time teaching fitness classes. Working a measly 4 hours a week did a lot for me mentally. I began seeing growth in my marriage and parenting. I had the sense to let go of who I thought I was supposed to be, to just be myself.  My crazy, loving, over achieving, social self.  Running brought me a new contentment to life.  This happiness overflowed into my marriage and into my parenting. When you are truly happy and content, it affects every part of your life. For those that question how we can find the time for so much exercise and still be good parents should see what it would be like for us without it. In my heart of hearts I know my kids have not suffered because of the fact that I like to run and go to the gym. I do know my whole family would've suffered if I stayed depressed and miserable. Running gives me a passion for life. It gives me more energy. It makes me feel young. It refreshes me, so that when I am done I am stronger physically and mentally to take care of my family. It is a bonding passion my family shares. My boys don’t suffer when I wake up to run before they even wake up. They don’t suffer by spending time in the running stroller with me. They don’t suffer if we get a babysitter for two hours so that Nate and I can get precious time as a couple.  So even if they spend an hour in the gym daycare (which they love). I still am home to feed them breakfast, lunch, & dinner. I still have many, many hours to play with them in between. If I don’t leave the house or do something that is just for me, then I go crazy. Call me selfish. But I call it finally understanding who I am, and what I need to be a better mom.

10K Turkey Trot. First Race with both babies. The double stroller adventures had begun!

My boys are best friends. My husband is working hard to get back into school. We have our ups and downs, but when it comes down to it, I have a lot of peace and contentment in my life right now. I am amazed that I am at a place where I can say that! I just had surgery that is keeping me sidelined from my passion for many months. I feel blessed that I was at a strong enough point mentally the surgery hasn't completely crushed me. I am trying my hardest to not slip back into the depression I experienced as a new mom. Yes it will be a long road. I wouldn't be doing so well without the incredible support of my hubby, our extended family, and good friends. And even the support of social media. Funny to say that, but many friends I have met through the running community have been from social media. They have been nothing but a positive support. I am at a good place mentally to know that this will not defeat me. I without a doubt know I will get through this.  It is really hard to not know which direction my life is going to go after I get back onto my feet. Will we try to add to our family? Will we be moving if Nate gets accepted to school? Remember the old days when the game MASH planned our lives so perfectly for us?!  I knew from MASH that all I wanted was 5 kids, living in a mansion, married to my favorite Dodger baseball player Steve Sax. If only it was really that simple! I know that I don’t want to do something because I think it’s what I am “supposed” to do. I learned that lesson from my sewing days! I guess all you can do is trust in yourself, and turn to God for guidance when it comes to making big decisions.  And keep moving forward with faith.

I am grateful to be a mother. I love being a wife. And I hope to always be a runner. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Clean Running Fuel :: Guest Post by Zucchini Runner

Hello loyal readers of MichRun4! I hope you don't mind me popping in for a quick visit, while Michelle and I do our blog swap. (If you want to see her post on my site, head on over to  Zucchini Runner) Michelle and I are helping to spread the word about an up-and-coming local running group #RunEatTweetAZ. As a matter of fact, we met for the first time in person at the inagural #RunEatTweetAZ meetup at South Mountain. I didn't know everyone who was attending, since there wasn't an official event, but when I put 2 and 2 together and realized I was talking to the amazing michrun4 I had been following on Instagram, I got a little excited! I knew she was a running powerhouse so of course I was stoked to get to know her better. If you've never met Michelle in person, she is the sweetest, most positive person you'll ever meet. Injury or not, that girl will be up and running in no time! A new friendship was formed (actually many new friendships were formed) that day. So needless to say, I am very grateful for #RunEatTweetAZ. A big thanks to Jeremy Heath for organizing it!
Now onto the topic at hand... I've had quite a few people ask my opinion about clean running fuel, Michelle included, so it seemed like the perfect blog swap topic. Nutrition is my passion, and I'm currently in the process of completing my Holistic Nutrition classes at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. So please bear with me while I vent slightly at first; it may help you understand why I do what I do and why people ask me this question often.

As a runner, when you hear the words GU, Shot Block, gel, Sport Beans, energy drink, etc. what comes to mind?
Be honest.
Are they necessary evils or something you truly enjoy putting into your body?
When I hear those names, I think sugar, GMO (genetically modified organisms - because sugar is a top GMO crop), peaks and valleys, furry teeth, gut cramps and even dare I say borderline poison for our bodies. (This is where I need you to bear with me...) When we were chasing down animals for food or gathering plants to eat waaaay back in the day or even in the 70's when running became an everyday craze. We certainly didn't need any of those items to keep us going... so why do we think we need them now? Is it all marketing? Is it all just a bunch of hype?
I'm of the firm belief that our society is struggling with the obesity epidemic, because of the human desire to want to monetize anything we can. Food has been the number one essential in our daily living that has undergone the largest pollution. Mother Nature is smart. Our bodies are smart. If you look at a whole, real apple or banana on the molecular level, you will see it is a living piece of fruit. Can we all agree that every living thing radiates and contains a certain amount of energy? Now, how much living energy do you think is in a packaged product, created in a lab, and loaded with simple sugars? The point is, food that is as TRUE to it's natural state as possible, is the way to go in my humble opinion, as well as based on what I've learned and experienced personally.
You may be saying, or asking yourself, 'then why were all these items created in the first place?' Convenience. Ease of ingestion. A quick fix. That is the society we live in. But in the process of trying to make things "easier" we are polluting our bodies with products so far from the way nature intended, that we are simply creating more problems.
So if any of this resonates with you and you've been on the hunt for some more natural ways to fuel your runs, I've got some whole foods suggestions below! I've personally tried all of these food choices, with the exception of the potatoes, but it's up to you to find the right combo for your body!
Medjool dates stuffed with coconut oil
How to use: Remove the pit from the date, and fill that empty pocket with coconut oil that is semi soft. Coconut oil melts at 72 degrees, so this doesn't work for summer fueling! Wrap with aluminum foil (I've found that is the easiest way to access it while running. Skip the baggie or saran wrap...) Lastly, be sure you buy organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil. If you are using multiple stuffed dates, and this will be used during a particulary long run or race, you should also grind some pink Himalayan salt into the center.
Why its good: Medjool dates contain high amounts of naturally occurring sugars, which give you that boost you need to fuel a long run. Since the sugar is accompanied by fiber it absorbs at a slower rate into the body, which helps you avoid the peak and crash of gels. They are also high in potassium. Coconut oil is a medium chain fat, which means it can be used immediately for fuel in the body since it does not store easily in the body.
How to use: Pretty self explanatory, but bananas can be used before, during, or after a run or race. If you want to use them during, you can cut one in half and leave the peel on. Even breaking the peel a bit to get it started, to make it easier to consume while running! You can place it in a small snack baggie if you want to keep it clean, and have a place to stash the peel. This is especially good for trail running, if you have a nice pocket on a hydration vest. ;-) Just beware, you MAY attract some bees.
Why its good: Bananas, like medjool dates are packed with both sugar and potassium. Potassium is good to prevent cramping.
Salted Potatoes
How to use: I haven't personally used this one -- YET -- but I've known quite a few ultra runners who use potatoes as fuel! Simply boil and cut into circles, salt and bag.
Why its good: They are high in calories, carbs and if you salt them you can get some sodium intake as well.
Energy BITS
How to use: These little bits of green fuel are easy to pop at any time! Before, during or after a run or race. You take 30 bits and swallow them with water, no chewing required. You can order them online through (if you want 15% off, use coupon code 'zucchinirunner')
Why they're good: Energy Bits are 100% pure, organic spirulina... well here, this blurb from the site says it best, no reason to recreate the wheel! "Algae was the first plant life on earth almost 3 billion years ago and is considered a superfood because it contains virtually every nutrient. It has over 60% protein content, over forty vitamins and minerals and a more complete amino acid profile than beef or soy beans. It is also one of the best known food sources of beta carotene, B vitamins, antioxidants and chlorophyll." Pretty sweet, huh?
Lemon Water
How to use: After a run squeeze the juice of one whole lemon into a 20 oz. glass of ice water. Feel free to sweeten it a bit with some raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar.
Why its good: Lemon water promotes alkalinity in your body. Running and putting all that stress and strain on our bodies, builds up a lot of acidity. Treat your body right with some alkalinizing lemon water after a run! It will help balance out the pH of your body.
If you want to get fancy, here is a recipe you can follow:
2 c. water
1 c. ice
1/2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tsp. coconut sugar or maple syrup
2 pinches pink Himalayan salt
It is tasty and rejuvenating!
I hope some of these ideas have helped you venture into new fueling territory. Get creative and try new things; tell us how it goes! The most important thing to remember with real food vs. the quick fuel is the time it takes to react in our bodies. Give yourself a 15 minute window to feel the effects. Also note the effects will be gradual, so if you are looking for a caffeine-like ZING that won't happen with real food.
Happy running, friends! Let's connect!
My personal blog:
If you want to connect with #RunEatTweetAZ, you can find us on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tips for running hills

A key component to racing is to understand how to run up those hills.  I was very fortunate to work with Coach Ryan Knapp, the creator of Miles To Go Endurance.  He gave me great coaching advice going into races on how to handle the uphill portions of the race. Do NOT stress about the pace. If you try to maintain the same pace up a steep hill as you run the flats, then you are almost certainly setting yourself up to bonk  later in the race. You need to trust yourself, and be in tune with your effort.  Now I am not saying you need to walk/crawl up those hills. You will see the elite runners cruising uphill. They still follow this advice.  It is very smart race strategy to worry about effort.  Ask yourself: How does your breathing sound? Do my legs feel like they are working harder than they should? You want to be using the same effort throughout the whole race. If you can maintain a steady 8:00 mile on a flat, then you need to slow down when running up a hill.  The good news is, you can make up for it on any downhill. If you are running with the same effort downhill, that 8:00 pace effort will mostly likely switch to a 7:30 or so.
John Bozung

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with John Bozung right before I ran Utah Valley Marathon this past June.  This guy knows his stuff!  Such a friendly guy, and man does he have some good stories!  When he was 52 years old he decided to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks! He was the 2nd runner to ever run a marathon in all 7 continents.  He is 61 years young today, and just finished his 364th marathon. No, that is not a typo! He said the most important advice he could give me when racing a super hilly course, is to run the hills based on effort.  He warned me multiple times to not push myself to hard during the uphill. So if two knowledgeable runners and coaches were both telling me the same thing, then I was definitely going to take their advice.

What can you gain from pushing too hard uphill?

·         A higher concentration of lactic acid build up

·         Tax your maximum aerobic power

·         Fight to propel yourself forward while working against gravity

·         You will maybe save yourself a few extra seconds, but at what cost?

Running downhill is a whole other beast. You can make up some serious time downhill, but you have to be aware at what it is doing to your body. Downhill running is more strenuous on the legs. The extra pounding will pay a toll. If your body is not prepared for that pounding, it can increase your chance of an injury.  If you have a chance to run downhill on a more forgiving/softer surface, you can train those different muscles that will be used on race day.  Even if you are racing on pavement, it doesn’t hurt to practice running downhill on grass or dirt to avoid that harsh impact.

Jack Daniels (No, not THAT Jack Daniels!) the famous running coach Jack Daniels from Daniels Running Formula created a perfect “rule of thumb”. His rule states:  “Every percent gradient of incline (going uphill) will slow you by 12-15 seconds per mile, and every percent gradient of decline (going downhill) will aid you by 8 seconds per mile”.  Boston Marathon’s “Heartbreak Hill” is a 4.5% incline over 0.4 miles.  So mathematically, you can expect to be about 21-27 seconds slower.  Use this in your race planning if you have a finish time you want to hit.  Now Jack Daniels is a famous coach to world renowned athletes, and he was a former Olympian himself. We would all benefit if we take this awesome advice when planning how to attack our next hilly race! Once I learned how to race smarter, my times automatically started to get faster!

The best way to get better at running up & down hill is to train those hills!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prepping for an Ultra Marathon

This post will be all about preparing the right gear to run a successful Ultra. Of course, the most important thing is to find what works for YOU. I have spent the last few years crewing & pacing my husband in Ultra Marathons.  We have changed strategies many different times. I am sharing with you what we have discovered works best for us!

STEP 1: Understand the course! You have to pack very differently for each course. Know the difference between:

·         Looping course These courses allow you to return to the finish line a number of times while you loop around the course. The advantage of looping is becoming familiar with the course; you know what is coming. I actually prefer loops in trail running, while others find it kind of boring to repeat the same loop. This type of course has been said to lead to more DNF’s  (Did Not Finish) because it allows the runner to come back to the start line and stop there. This tends to be the easiest course to support because your crew can hang out in a central area while the runner loops and comes back.  During the looping course we load up a big, plastic, storage bin thing with all the gear. Depending on the distance of the loop, this may be the only gear we have. If the loop is longer, we will pack a small bag to be dropped at a different aid station. The small bag must always have batteries, extra head lamp, maybe special fuel options, and some Body Glide. If you need a new pair of shoes, you can bust out a few extra miles to get back to the start line/headquarters…but if you run out of batteries, or it becomes dark sooner than you expected, then you don’t want to have to wait till you get to your crew box for support.  We learned this the hard way while pacing Emz at her 100 mile Cold Water Rumble last year. She had to run in the dark for 4 miles till she got back to the loop turnaround where the crew was all waiting.

·          Out and back  These races start at one point, run a certain distance to another point, then turn back to the original starting line. An out & back will require more drop bags. Your crew may still carry a box if they the course allows crew support at aid stations. My dad and I crewed Nate during Utah's Squaw Peak 50 Miler. There were lots of aid stations that didn’t allow crew support. There was no vehicle access to many of the stations because it was in the Rocky Mountains. Nate had to be sure to put things he might need in small drop bags to the stations crew was not allowed at. Most races have very well supplied aid stations! In fact you truly can get away with bringing nothing, and only using the stuff the race provides. But if you are at all picky about fuel, it really is best to be prepared! We have run races that have run out of water at aid stations! Crazy things can happen. It really isn’t hard to throw a small bag together of a few necessities. Many times our drop bags go untouched. But its so nice to know you have what you need just in case!

·         Point-to-point  This type of course starts at one place, and ends at another with a pre-determined distance. I personally like this type of course best while road running. Trail running is so much more technical, so I do like the loop so I know what is ahead. While road running, I can look up and take in the views. I like to see different scenery during the course.  Many runners like this course because if you get half-way and decide you want to be done, then what are you gonna do? Turn around? You may as well finish! Ultras don’t have vans driving along side of you giving you the option to throw in the towel and ride to the finish. To be prepared for a point-to-point Ultra. You must find out how much access your crew has to seeing you, and pack accordingly.

STEP 2: Do your research! Find out how many miles are between aid stations. Know what type of fuel the stations will have. You don’t want to try anything new on race day! My very first marathon (Saint George Marathon in 2005) I just used whatever gels they were handing out. I had never tried that brand before. I had no idea how my stomach would handle it. And I wasted too many minutes in the outhouse with GI troubles! I still managed to get under 4 hours, but what a waste. Lesson learned, I now only fuel with items that I have tested during training. Luckily, most Ultra races have lots of different options at their aid stations. The longer distances require more calories, so it is nice to have the variety! Now you can absolutely show up for a race empty handed, not knowing about the course or aid provided. We have all done it! However, if you have trained your ass off for months, and this race is an important one for you, then DO YOUR HOMEWORK and BE PREPARED! You will have a much better chance of being successful by doing those things.
It’s all about the storage tub!
          A 50K-50mile distance will not usually require as many things. Generally these distances don’t require a shoe or clothing change. As long as you are racing with shoes that you know work for you and clothing that you know won’t rub weird. The 100k-100+ mile races would require lots more times in your storage box. With all that being said, an Ultra in extreme temperature (really hot or cold) it would be smart to be prepared with more support in your box.  We used to only use duffel bags for our drop bags. We found it frustrating riffling through, digging for the item you are looking for. You want to get in and out of aid stations as quick as possible. These tubs are nice because even if you don’t need that huge space, it is very easy to see exactly what you are looking for. BONUS, if you can close the lid and sit on if for a bit if needed! It really is nice having something to sit on if you need to change out your socks or shoes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t love dirt sticking to my sweating butt or getting into places where you don’t really love dirt to be. Short shorts don’t always protect those areas!
·         Extra socks and shoes
·         First aid kit. Nate took a hard fall in his first 50k and had to wait 20 minutes in the aid station waiting to get patched up. Bring your own stuff, save lots of time!

·         Fuel of choice

·         Extra batteries, head lamp, and a hand held light

·         I like to pack change of clothes and flip flops for post run. Nate doesn’t usually mind riding home sweaty.  But we both like to get those shoes and socks off and slip into some sandals.

·         Extreme temps:
            *Poncho, rain gear, gloves
            *Various fueling recourse: fuel belt, hand held, and fuel vest. This isn’t always necessary. But in really hot races, you can’t always be sure your vest won’t chafe; Even if it usually doesn’t give you problems. Running 50 miles in Arizona’s 100 degree temps mean you need your options. Chaffing sucks! And sometimes you just get sick of your hand held and want to switch it up. My motto is, if you MIGHT want it, and then pack it! So there you have it! Never hurts to be prepared!

Does anyone else LOVE this Magic Stuff? It may just be a mental boost, but some times that is just what you need!

Couple pair of shoes for longer races

Draw string drop bags for the other locations

Portable cooler with wheels. Nice to have extra water just in case. We have seen Aid Stations run out before. Also nice to pour water on your head if you need to cool down, without worrying about wasting good drinking water.

Friday, August 22, 2014

July and August's Runnerbox

I absolutly LOVE being an ambassador for RunnerBox. First, I love getting just about anything in the mail with my name on it (other than bills!). By now most of you have heard of subscription boxes. I know the BirchBox is a big one some of my friends who are into beauty supplies subsribe too. In case you are unfamiliar with subscription boxes, here is a little discription from the RunnerBox website to explain what it is ... "RunnerBox is a subscription based box full of products and discounts which have been hand-picked to enhance your active lifestyle. Runnerbox has everything from gels, chews, protein shakes/supplements, nutrition bars, energy boosters, healthy snacks, personal care, and other running accessories! Many products will be brand new to the market while others will be tried and true favorites. With so many new products claiming to be the next best thing – leave the trials and testing to us – we’ll search out the finest and send them right to your doorstep!"
I love that it allows me to try new things that I otherwise would've never tried before. I get to test it out and decide if I like it before I buy more. Everything that has been in my boxes so far is top notch product. Cool thing about being an Ambassador, is I get 10% off everything form their site, and I get to share my code with you. MRRUNRB go check it out & sign-up for a subsribtion so that you too can recieve a RunnerBox at your door. Here is the Link  I promise to always give my honest opinion. I will tell about what I like most, and things that weren't so amazing.

June/July Box

So much love for the items in this box. I already knew I liked Honey Stinger Waffles, but I had never tried the Lemon flavor before. YUM! I loved the Veggie-Go's Chewy Veggie & Fruit Strip. In fact I never got a photo because it was the first thing I ate before I had a chance to snap a pic! It was Whole 30 approved, 100% clean, so a perfect post run quick snack. Gotta get get those calories in ASAP after a run. I have a code 'runfast' for 15% those strips from Nakededgesnacks. Not sure if I am supposed to share the extra discount codes, but whelp...there it is.

Of all the products I tried, I was most excited about Generation UCAN. I have been wanting to try this for a long time. A friend from one of my RAGNAR teams introduced it to me but I never took the plunge yet. It provieds a steay, slow realease energy. This helps avoid spikes, crashes, or GI distress. It's an all natural complex-carbohydrate that breaks down slowly. It prevents the highs and lows in blood sugar, and enhances fat burning. For reals this stuff is legit! The PureFit Protein Bar was amazing. I am a huge protein bar fan. I know, I know, it's all about real and whole foods. But I am always on the go (well, when I am not injured) and sometimes teach back to back fitness classes, so I do depend on a good protein bar. And then of course I loved my sweat towel that came with my box. Perfect to bring to the spin classes that I teach.


August/September RunnerBox

Lots of cool stuff in this month's box too! We especially liked the ACCEL Gel because it was all natural and delievers rapid energy. It's got the 4:1 ratio of carb to protein whcih most gels I have used before does not have.

We loved the Primal Sport Mud for sore muscles. Nate had to test this out for me after his race because of my injury. So it's not actually mud, but you apply it to the area you are sore, cover or wrap, and apply heat. It washes off easy with water or a wet wipe. Nate was still able to do speed work Monday after running a 40 mile race on Saturday who knows, maybe this really did help?!

So this was the real suprise in the box. My son Kade is THE pickest eater known to man. He actually spent a year in food therapy trying to help him get his weight up. He doesn't like to try new things and really likes a very limited amount of food. I about died when I saw him gobbeling down this bag of Choopko Peanut Puffs. I have already ordered from their website for more. Best part is it's made from non-GMO farm-grown corn and nuts. High protein snack for a picky eater? Sign me up for that. Beats his Cheetos any day of the week.

The box came with an issue of TrailRunner magazine. I gave it a good read, but won't be subscribing, even though it comes with a discount code upon ordering. It seemed like it was mostly adds and the articles weren't too captivating. I guess if you are new to the sport of trail running it would be good to see the gear they have to offer. But for us, it really didn't teach or show us anything new.

What I really do like about the RunnerBox, is that it comes with a little card that has a blurb on each item in the box. Most every single item gives out a code for either a percentage off or free shipping, and lots of times for both. Saving money is my jam. Sampeling cool stuff is also my jam. If it is yours too, don't froget to subsribe and use MRRUNRB for 10% all things RunnerBox.