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So Long, Runner’s Tan…

28 Sep

My runner’s tan is fading, and, as silly as it sounds, it is a little bittersweet. Because I was pregnant this summer and not in hardcore training mode, I was not able to spend as much time outside in the sunshine on long runs as usual. I tan VERY easily and since most of my racerback tops and shorts/running skirts fit just about the same way, by the end of spring/summer, I usually end up with a SERIOUS farmer’s runner’s tan. The tan lines are so deep that the tan usually stays with me through the fall and most of the winter…never really going away. They endure from year to year, even through seasons where my tank/shorts combo is traded info long sleeve tech tees and running tights.

In previous years I would complain about them, as they always made me look so silly in a bathing suit. It is really hard to feel sexy and attractive in bikini when every part of your body between the tops of your thighs and your shoulders is as white as Elmer’s glue and the rest of your body is nice and bronzed. And do not even get me started about the sock tan. I will forever look like I am wearing white socks…whether I am *actually* wearing socks or not.

This summer, however, the extreme South Louisiana temperatures and growing baby belly forced me indoors and more of my time was spent on the treadmill or in the pool training for the Rocketchix Triathlon. When I was able to get outside, it was usually at the end of the day with my running groups, when the sun was no longer high overhead. My poor runner’s tan is fading and I think I might even miss it a little. I had always thought of my tank top lines as something I had earned, something that I should be proud of. After all, they represented hours spent around my neighborhood or the LSU lakes, enduring the hot Louisiana sun and humidity. In some way, I feel like they were my own little weird badge of honor for getting out there and spending so much time and energy doing something physical.

The lines on my legs and the lines on my shoulders are not faint and my next spring, I am sure that they will be gone completely. But of course, somehow, the sock tan NEVER seems to go away. I swear I will be sporting this look in my high heels FOREVER.

Do you get a bad runner’s tan in the summer? Do you like or dislike your tan lines? How do you keep from getting them?

Learning to Bond with The Treadmill:  Benefits of Treadmill Running

7 Sep

The TREADMILL.  Just mentioning the dreaded treadmill makes most runners cringe, groan, and roll their eyes.  (The TREADMILL!? Anything but the treadmill!  Nooooooo!)  There is a reason we refer to it as the DREADMILL.  That black rotating belt makes us feel like a hamster that is stuck on a never ending wheel…going, going, going…nowhere.

When I am on a treadmill, I feel like I miss so much.  I miss the wind in my face and seeing people walking their dogs or pushing their babies in strollers.  I miss waving at my neighbors or feeling the breeze coming off the LSU lakes.  Depending on the weather, I miss the warmth of the sun on my skin or the light sting of rain drops (which we get a lot of here inSouth Louisiana).  Outdoor runs also mean I can go run with my friends, something I feel like I need so much lately.

However, I think my days of outdoor runs are over until after Baby Key arrives.  I have tried hard, but at almost 32 weeks, I feel like my outdoor running days are over.  The pressure from the baby belly is just too hard on my body (even with the help of compression shorts and the FITsplint) and on my last couple of runs, things started to hurt.  All along, I have promised my husband that when things started to hurt, I would stop.  The pounding of my feet on the pavement is just too much for me.

So, I’m…embracing the treadmillMark it down!  I said it!  Whether I am running/jogging at 0% incline or walking at a steep incline percentage, at least I will still be moving.  At the end of the day, that’s the point…keep me and Baby Key moving as long as possible.

Since I am trying to change my perspective and attitude toward the dreadmill treadmill, I thought it might be more motivating if I knew some specific ways that the treadmill can be beneficial.  That way, every time I go to step up on it, I can think of one of these reasons and (hopefully!) have a better good attitude about my daily cardio.

Easy to use.
Most treadmills are pretty self-explanatory with directions popping right up on the screen.

Predictable surface provides reassurance for those with balance issues or leg injuries.
On a treadmill, you will not have to worry about running from stray dogs, tripping over cracks in the road, or stepping up onto or down from sidewalks.

All aspects of the workout (speed/pace, incline, etc.) can be controlled; Precise and highly controlled speed work and interval training; Consistent pacing.
YOU are the one who controls the workout. You can make the workout as easy/hard as you want to.

Temperature controlled exercise.
I almost hate to bring this one up since we are currently having near PERFECT running weather here in Louisiana this week, but the treadmill does offer some reprieve when we are experiencing those days with temperatures in the 100’s.

No excuses about not exercising in bad weather.
Even a fair weather runner can get his sweat on with a treadmill.

Treadmill belts offer better shock absorption.
For those with chronic knee problems or weight issues, the softer surface of the treadmill offers more shock absorption than the asphalt on the road. This will result in less injuries in the long run.

Some treadmills can be programmed to simulate famous race courses. (Pretty neat!)


Always a bathroom close by for…ahem, stomach issues.
All I have to say is “runners trots.” I am lucky enough to never have been faced with this issue, but I hear it affects a lot of runners. We’ll just leave it at that.

Builds mental toughness.
This one may be the biggest benefit of all. Getting on the treadmill will require me to be more self-disciplined, committed, and motivated to get through my workouts. I know that using the treadmill routinely will be difficult for me and it will take a great amount of mental toughness to muscle through these exercises. If I can master the treadmill for a few weeks, I will be more than ready to return to being a dedicated road warrior post-baby.

How do YOU feel about the treadmill? Have you ever been in a situation where you were forced to use it even though you did not want to?

When the Race Lets You Down…

15 Aug

This year’s New Orleans Hash House Harrier Red Dress Run left SO much to be desired. To say that this race was a disappointment is *quite* an understatement.

In previous years, the Red Dress Run was a “not to miss” event for both runners and revelers alike. Granted, no runner showed up really expecting to set a PR, but the run was usually early in the morning, with booze and food following the rest of the day. Basically, you could get the run out of the way in the morning, and then party the rest of the day…getting maximum usage out of your sparkly red costume.

This year, however, was different. It seems as the popularity of the event increases, the quality of the event tanks…drastically.

For starters, registration was $75…for a 5k. That’s pretty steep. Obviously, it is not unheard of for me to pay such a price, but for $75, I really expect to get the whole shabang! The $75 registration fee included beer, food, and live music. Oh, and a t-shirt (because we all know how much we need more of those!). What keeps people from putting on their best red dress, rolling a cooler down the street, and becoming a race bandit for this event? Well, nothing. And that is exactly what a lot of people did.

Typically, the “feel” of the event is set at the expo. This should have been my first indication. I went to the expo to pick up my numbers with a few people who had not yet registered. They walked up to the table, saying they needed to register, and people behind the table just GAVE them runners’ numbers and wristbands. For FREE. Call me crazy, but if this event raises money for charity, and you are charging some people $75 an entry, how the heck is that fair? And how the heck are you supposed to raise money for charity when you aren’t charging people?

There was also a MASSIVE lack of information available to participants. Between the official website, facebook, and Twitter, never at any point was the start time of the event announced. Most runners, assuming the race would be in the morning (after all, it is summertime…in NEW ORLEANS) arrived when the gates opened at 9:30AM, expecting a 10:00AM start. By the time the race actually started six hours later, very few runners had stuck it out to actually race.

Overall, for a race…it was a BUST. For a party, it was top-notch. So, depending on what you came for and what your intentions were, you either left drunk and happy or sweaty and seriously ticked off. This girl cut her losses somewhere in between. I tried really hard to tough it out until the 4:30PM start time. But, this 7 month pregnant running mama-to-be had ENOUGH of the heat after three hours. So we left. 😦

Apparently, there were many others that were left feeling upset over the lackluster event:

Determined to still get my run in, I ended up running around my neighborhood…in my regular running clothes instead of my red dress.

I hope that next year they go back to how it was several years ago…you know, when there actually was a Red Dress Run…and not a Red Dress “Run.”

Have you ever been to a race that you were really excited about but were then left with a bad experience? How did it make you feel? Were you willing to try the event again the next year? Did you tell event organizers how they could make improvements?

Lessons Learned from My DNF

11 Aug

In racing, there are two acronyms that make participants cringe: DNS (Did Not Start) and DNF (Did Not Finish). The DNS sometimes does not feel *quite* as bad because there are lots of reasons why a person may not start a race: unpreparedness/lack of training, injury, illness, personal emergencies, etc. Things come up. It happens. The DNF, however, leaves a sting that most racers do not easily forget. I know this feeling personally.

This is a SUCKY feeling.

I have taken a DNF in two races, and those two experiences still haunt me. The first DNF I took was in a Thanksgiving Day 5k race about 5 years ago. I had just started taking my running seriously earlier that summer and now that November had arrived, I was approaching my first running winter. Running through summer seemed fine, and, honestly, I had not thought running through cold weather would pose any problem greater than having to wear heavier clothing. How wrong I had been! This particular Thanksgiving Day was unusually cold (about 25 °F – COLD for this native Louisianan), but I did not think much of it. I was ready to race! After all, it was *only* a 5k…

The race started out fine and I was running along as usual, until I hit the 2.5 mile mark. My lungs felt like they were on FIRE. I couldn’t breathe. I started panicking…which only exasperated the problem. Before I knew it I was doubled over, hands on my knees, gasping for air. I started to have a full-on panic attack over not being able to catch my breath. I started coughing and wheezing. IT. WAS. TERRIBLE. Doing my best to pull myself together, I started walking hobbling…determined to finish. Another ¼ mile down the road, I could *see* the finish. It was RIGHT THERE. So close.

I never made it. The gasping and wheezing started up again and I knew that if I did not stop, I would pass out. The cold, thin mountain air (I was living in South Carolina at the time) was too much for me. I had to quit.

As it turns out, I was later diagnosed with cold weather induced asthma. Lesson learned…run with my inhaler when the weather dips below 40 °F and never for one second think you are invincible. 🙂

Dear inhaler, I love you. You keep me running.

In hindsight, maybe that DNF does not seem quite that bad. Medical reasons prevented me from finishing. It wasn’t like I just gave up…you know, like my second DNF. I look back on my second DNF and all it does is make me angry.

A couple of years ago, I was gearing up for my first duathlon. After running for several years, I was seeking a new challenge. Not quite ready to increase my distance to half or full marathon status, I decided a sprint duathlon (5k run/14mi bike/5k run) was the perfect next step for me. I got a bike and started training. Running had become easy for me, and it turned out that I was a natural on the bike. This duathlon thing would be a BREEZE! For weeks before the event I practiced my bricks. By the time the big day arrived, I was ready!

On race day, I got body marked and checked into the transition area early. I laid out all of my gear and went over my mental checklist of what I needed to do. A slight case of nerves set in, but overall, I was doing okay. The race started with a bang! On my first run I made GREAT time…in fact, it is still one of my fastest 5k times ever. I was moving on adrenaline and I loved every second of it. T1 went smoothly and before I knew it, I was out on the bike. Half way through the bike leg, things started going downhill (no pun intended). I was totally unprepared for this ride. My training rides had been in a *slightly* hilly area. This race was an hour north of my home…in the mountains. BIG difference. Stubborn me was determined to keep the pace that I had trained for…even if it killed me.

14 miles later I pull back in for T2. I was exhausted. I threw off my helmet, put on my running shoes and started my second run. It was awful. Completely awful. My legs completely bricked up. Every part of my body was telling me that we were done. Finished. My head was spinning and I felt like I was running on broken legs. I had practiced this a thousand times and I just could not get myself together. There was absolutely no gas left in my tank.

I quit.

And I cried. A lot.

This feels miserable.

Mad. Frustrated. Disappointed. I should have known better. There was so much that I had done wrong. I had not hydrated well enough. I had not replaced my electrolytes and calories throughout the race. Most importantly, I had ignored my inner voice that had been saying, “Pace yourself.”

Looking back, maybe I could have finished. Maybe if I had taken a second, calmed down, collected myself, stretched, eaten a snack…maybe things would have been different. But I gave up. My competitive spirit overshadowed my best judgment and I got what I deserved…a big fat DNF.

Every time I try a new race distance or new type of race, these memories play out in my head. They make me more determined to stay focused and race smart, not hard, and complete the task at hand. As long as I can help it, there will be no more DNFs for this competitor.

Have you ever taken a DNS or DNF? How did it make you feel? What did you learn from it?

National Running Day and Hurricane Season are here!

1 Jun

I don’t know if I got a good night’s sleep, if the funk that had taken hold of my nasal cavities is finally going away, if these new prenatal vitamins are sitting better on my stomach (the old ones made me nauseous), or if I really am getting that second trimester energy I’ve been reading about, but HELLO WORLD…this little mama is up and moving and HAPPY today!

Today is National Running Day!

For someone like me, that means today comes right after Christmas and Halloween (respectively)! Okay, so maybe I would put my birthday right before it, but either way, it’s definitely up there!

I have decided to celebrate National Running Day by starting a run streak. (A run streak is where you see how many days in a row you can run without missing a day.) I have never done one before since I have always heard that running everyday without breaks can be bad for you. But, since I am running so slowly these days, I think I will be okay. The only rule I am setting for myself is that for it to “count” the run has to be a minimum of one mile. I am excited to get started tonight! I have even got one of my #RunLA peeps (@thisJeff) on board too! Won’t you join us? (If you decide to, leave me a comment to let me know! You know you want to…)

If you are looking for other creative ways to celebrate, be sure and check out 10 Ways to Celebrate National Running Day for more ideas!

In more “Debbie Downer” type news…it is also the first day of hurricane season. Boo. The NOAA promises an above average season in activity, so I guess its time to start getting the supplies ready. As we have seen from hurricanes in the past **coughKATRINAcough** it is super important not to take these things too lightly or to underestimate the power of Mother Nature. Please keep in mind that I am not just talking to the Gulf Coasters out there! This includes everyone all along the Atlantic as well. Please be prepared.

Here are some good sites for tracking hurricanes or getting ideas on the types of supplies you and your family might need to stock up on:

1) Do you plan on celebrating National Running Day? If so, how?
2) Do you live in an area where hurricanes are an issue? If so, how do you get ready?