Miles of Smiles

Yesterday marked the second Saturday of the MIT Summer Session, and it was a blast. Plus, the whether was perfectly warm and sunny, which is pretty much a gigantic miracle in Central Ohio. I say “bring it on!” – I love running in hot weather (even though it doesn’t always love me) – and Columbus continues to send me gray and rainy days as long as I have lived here. Major dislike.

I can’t believe the turnout! And, I can actually see what people look like! Notice the lack of long pants, hats, gloves, parkas and snow shoes:

Fleet Feet Sports Columbus

A far cry from this winter, when we all looked like this:

Nope. All smiles and sunshine and pretty colors this time around! Even Duane had a big smile on his face:


Fleet Feet Sports Columbus

And my sister, who is apparently Number 1, along with some of the other Lucky 13’s:


Fleet Feet Sports Columbus

She turned 24 yesterday (I guess she can be Number 1) and after a nice run in the balmy weather, we celebrated in style with a big breakfast:


Birthday Girl (She wore Blue)
Ben (Clearly Red was the color to wear)

Is it too early to wish it was Saturday morning again? I love MIT! It is so exciting for me to see so many new people coming out to run every week and of course, I already have the best running friends anyone could ask for! You guys make me smile every week. 🙂

There are so many new people on our pace group it is completely awesome to me! I can’t wait to meet everyone and get to know them better. It is actually very emotional for me, and I get super-pumped up when I think about what these people have committed to. They are changing their lives one mile at a time. Literally. It happened to me. I went from never exercising and being overweight, unhappy, hating myself and depressed to getting in shape, losing weight, gaining self-confidence, friends and running 5 half marathons and 1 full. What?!? Sometimes I look at what I have accomplished and I still can’t quite believe it is me. But then, I look at a complete and encouraging training program such as what I have found through Marathoner in Training, and I do believe it. Because it happened to me. I showed up one Saturday and bam! I accomplished the impossible – I was in a whole new world. I had a whole new lease on life – I actually enjoyed living again. I had something to look forward to again.

Most of the 13’s are training for the Columbus Half in October, but we also have runners training for Air Force Full and Half in September; Columbus Full in October too; Emerald City Quarter and Half in September; and of course, there are a few of us going Goofy in January 2012.

The Columbus Halfers ran a solid 2 miles yesterday. It is exciting to see them accomplishing their miles as new runners. I managed 4 and several Air Force Fulls went on for 8.

Even though I couldn’t have asked for a more perfectly sunny day, it was a hard run for me. I wanted to go farther than 2, but wasn’t sure if I had it in me to go 8. I don’t think I am fully recovered from Pittsburgh. I felt great after running 26.2 and now I feel crap – everyone keeps telling me this is normal and I need to take more time to rest! Ran a hard 2 out and then took it slow 2 back. Clearly you can see where I got tired. Nothing in particular hurts when I run, just an overall tiredness and my legs feel really heavy. But, now I don’t now how to not run – I feel miserable without it! Such a dilemma…..I know I have to learn what it means to rest.

Mile 1 12:53
Mile 2 13:01
Mile 3 15:11
Mile 4 12:56

Total: 4 miles in 53 minutes and an average overall pace of 13:30 minutes per mile.

Which brings me to an important point – log your miles!

While it certainly may not seem like it in the beginning, keeping a training journal or log is essential to a successful training season. Keep track of your miles, pace, time and route; weather and hydration; what you ate (or didn’t eat); how you were feeling, stress level during the week; gear you were wearing; and record any aches and pains. You can be as detailed or as to-the-point as you want. What is important is that you are keeping of record of your accomplishments and challenges.

My favorite hard copy for logging my runs is the Sport Tech Training Log. It looks like this:


I like it because it has a lot of room to write and it is pre-dated. I don’t have to worry about missing a day and throwing off the whole log. It has a space for course, distance, time, and pace. All the essential details of my runs. It has a place on each page for monthly totals, weekly mileage, and yearly mileage. No more going back to January in August trying to figure out if I am making my mileage goals. Plus, I enjoy watching the miles rack up from week to week! And quite possibly my favorite feature? The log has a space each and every week for race information – Race Name, Comments, Time, Pace, Overall and Age Division Place. Keeping track of races and performance is really important to me – I see my PR’s and I want to keep working harder to accomplish new ones! Each page features one whole week in a spiral-bound notebook that is both light and durable making it ideal to carry with you in a purse or running bag. I take mine on the go from time to time if I need to update more than a day or two.

If I feel like going digital? My favorite site for logging the miles is Daily Mile. It’s free and easy to use. If you’re not already a member, sign up today! My favorite feature of Daily Mile? The community!! After you post a workout, your friends and training partners can (and do!) comment on what you had to say and it is really motivating and inspiring to read what others have to say. You can log your miles, pace, distance, hear rate, energy level, gear, and feelings.

Helpful Tools for Logging Your Training:

Daily Mile – Online training tool for all types of workouts including running, cycling, core, fitness, etc. It is free to sign up and you can log in with your Facebook account, if you choose. – I like this site because it is all-inclusive and informative. With the Livestrong tracking tools, you can track your workout, activity, nutrition and progress. This site also offers a plethora of information for athletes of all ability levels.

Sport Tech Training Log – My favorite, affordable hard-copy training log. For me, sometimes it is just nice to step away from technology and write something down.

Train with MIT – If you’re new to MIT and haven’t logged in yet – what are you waiting for? Track your miles, pace, gear and how are feeling all from one screen!

Garmin Connect – If you train with a Garmin, they offer an easy to use, automatic training log that automatically syncs to your watch. You can then upload to Daily Mile or Facebook or various other training logs of your choice.

Blog About It – You can use Blogger, Word Press or even create your own website. Most of them are free and easy to use when they are not being temperamental. Like to journal? Blogging just might be for you!

Goal of the Week:
Explore the various types of training logs that are available to you! Pick one (or, if you’re like me, you might have a couple) and start logging those miles and smiles!

Inspirational Quote of the Week:   

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John Bingham, The Penguin.


Until the next mile marker,

Pittsburgh Part 2 of 3: A Race to Remember

I was already awake when the hotel wake-up call service pierced the silence with the insanely loud ringing of the telephone at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. My alarm clock never did go off.

I took a quick shower to wake up, got dressed, laced up my shoes, put on my Grace Band, woke Michael up and headed down to the lobby to meet Suzi, Duane and my family for breakfast. Somehow I was late too. I ate a non-toasted English muffin with some peanut butter with some watered-down orange juice (not my choosing) and downed about three glasses of lemon water.

Clearly, I was not really ready to be social or to run or anything at 5:30 a.m. on what was only the biggest race day of my entire life:

Seriously, am I really about to cry?

Not to mention, my stomach was a mess. Thanks, Bravo! Or, should I say, thanks nerves!? Regardless of which to thank, I was seriously wondering if I would even be able to make it to the van without using the bathroom, let alone run 26.2 miles. Just my luck, right? Just my worst nightmare. Bathroom issues.

We loaded into the car and headed back into the city. We were supposed to meet Laurel and Kim – two of out MIT teammates – at the Westin, but traffic was stacked up (again) so we grabbed a spot in the first parking garage we came to. My stomach was literally turning in circles. I don’t think anyone could have said anything to calm me down.

Duane followed us in his car and parked near us (not that my eyes weren’t glued to his car or anything).  We all got out and got our bibs situated. I think I stabbed myself with the safety pin about three times before Suzi helped me. I wore the bib in honor of my mother in my back. Suzi pinned in on straight for me and we caught the elevator to street level. It was misty and cool – perfect weather in my opinion. Too bad my stomach wouldn’t cooperate.

Thank you Races 2 Remember

There was the traditional paparazzi photo extravaganza. My mom would have taken 17 pictures with 42 cameras for all of us. Thankfully, Michael, my Dad and Mollie managed without a hitch:

Duane, Me and Suzi.


Me and my sister Mollie

The sun was rising and the humidity began to rise only slightly, still, I was slightly worried. I didn’t want to be hot. Clearly, I decided to stick with my blue theme, which is why I am wearing pink. Thank you VSX for a super-comfortable, super-light, feels-like-you-are-running-naked race outfit. I picked it out just Friday and wore it Friday night in order to not have to wear anything new on race day:

Me before the big race!

I checked and re-checked myself. Bibs? Check! Grace Band? Check! Suzi to run the Half? Check! Duane running with as much as his calf would allow? Check! Garmin?! Check! Whew. I thought I forgot it for a second. Sister? Dad? Check! Check!

My mind was spinning. I didn’t want to run today. Not at all. Not this race. Not without my mom there to cheer me on. It hurt. Bad, almost unbearably. I wanted to go home. The thing is, I knew everyone would understand if I did. I knew I had the most acceptable reason in the world for backing down – for running the half at the last minute – for calling it quits. I knew people, especially my family, would understand. My dad told me three weeks ago if I wanted to skip Pittsburgh, he would understand, the money didn’t matter, the time and travel were trivial. I even thought my mom would understand. I, apparently, was the only one who would not.

I pondered my options, I mean really thought about calling game over.

So, there I was, standing alone on a crowded street – runners everywhere – when out of nowhere someone tackled me from behind in a bear hug, arms clenched around my neck. Then another, and another, and another. Four of them. First instinct when this happens to you in a big, strange city with your friend, family and coach staring at you mouths hanging open in disbelief? Run for your life!!!!!

Or, on seond thought, try to figure out what is going on. If you do this, you will be unbelievably and pleasantly shocked! It was the LUCKY 13’s!!!!! I could not believe my misty-eyes as reality sunk in. They came to cheer me on! I was in total shock:

They told me the story piece-meal and it was impressive to say the least. A very pregnant and very ecstatic Mandy drove them from Columbus to Pittsburgh at 2:00 a.m. to make it in time for the start of the race. “I thought you guys might come to the Finish Line, but I never expected this!” I exclaimed. They had planned to surprise me, but amazingly in a sea of over 17,000 people they ran into me on their way to the start line. What?!?!?! Mandy said there was no way they could not tell me they were there. I was thrilled – they were even wearing MIT shirts so I could spot them on the course. Brilliant!

And so it began. My crew it tow, we filtered through the racers and spectators to the start line. We couldn’t find Corral E. We asked about a thousand people before we discovered it was way on the other side of where we already were. They were checking bibs to let people through. It was time to part from our friends and my family. Me, Duane and Suzi set off into a city of strangers. I was nervous.

Then, from out of the blue we heard familiar voices calling our names? What?! It was Laurel and Kim! How was it that we randomly ran into our racing partners at the last minute? Unbelievable. I looked to the Heavens and thought, “Alright, I get it, I’m running this race whether I like it or not. Done deal, no backing out now. Clearly that would be unacceptable to You.” Suck it up, Wyen and run. Got it.

We waited in our corral for what seemed like forever – I do believe it was like 20 minutes or so. I was annoyed that I left my hat at the hotel and it was drizzling harder. Who runs in the rain without a hat? I visited the porto-john again (just how do you spell that?). My stomach was twisting. It was not good.

From what we could tell the race started. We waited some more. We walked, we jogged, we heard screaming spectators. Then we were off. I crossed the start line and started my Garmin. No turning back now. Duane? Check! Suzi? Check! Laurel? Check! Kim? Check! We broke free of the pack. We were flying. Like a 9:50 or something crazy. My mind was screaming, “Rookie mistake! Rookie mistake!” It was too easy to get caught up in the excitement. We kept running fast. I stopped trying to slow down. I think I was enjoying the moment, damn the consequences, this was my day.

Our pace eventually evened out to a 12:15 or so – still a little quick for me with so many miles ahead. That resolved itself with the first hill (or, so I thought it was hill at the time, but it was more like a slight incline). We slowed again. We were feeling the burn. We kept running. Our little pack – just like on Saturday mornings is what I kept telling myself. In the back of my mind, there was worry – what was I going to do when I was alone? I focused on my Grace Band, Mile 2 was for my Mom. I ran it strong. I threw a kiss to the Heavens when it was over. I kept running.

The hills were rough. We started walking them. I remember Laurel telling me it was okay, just keep moving. Duane reminded us to take the inside path. We tried to. Kim pulled ahead, cruising at a nice race pace, but not without waving to us first. It had begun. We were each running our own race.

I slowed considerably. I had way more to go. The pack pulled away. I was cheering them on in my mind. Duane drifted back to run with me. I asked him how his calf was holding up. He said it was great. I believed him – why wouldn’t I? He was running strong.

We were coming up on the first relay exchange – between Miles 5 and 6 maybe? Duane said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m about to call this race quits.” I know I looked at him like he had lost his mind. “I don’t know about you, but I have 20 more miles to go, Duane!” I thought. He slowed again; I thought I saw him limping. “Yup, I’m about done with this,” he said. He almost stopped. “This is it,” I though, “Operation-Run-Pittsburgh-All-By-Yourself-And-Take-All-Day-Doing-It-Too starts right now.” You’ve trained for this, Sara, you ran 18 miles alone and you succeeded. This is just 18 miles with 2 more tacked on.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Deb on the sideline. I screamed to Duane, “There’s Deb – look!” Hi, Deb! Nice to see you, Deb! Duane took off his bib and I remember thinking, “Man, when he is done, he’s done.” I waved goodbye to them. Then, all of a sudden, Deb was running towards us. She grabbed the bib from Duane and put it on. She said, “Hi, I’m Diane today, the bib has a typo in it!” I stared at the two of them in disbelief. “What are you doing, Deb?” I asked. “You didn’t think we were going to let you run Pittsburgh alone, did you?” she answered.

I started crying. I looked behind me and saw Duane cruise to the sideline. He was grinning for ear to freakin’ ear. I wave at him again and again. I looked at Deb, tears in my eyes, and told her I had goose bumps. “How long,” I asked her, “How long did you have this planned?” She said for a couple of weeks. She recounted the planning in great detail. She told me about the ones who couldn’t be there, but wanted to be. She told me all about the people who were rooting for me. It was a perfect plot. She called it Operation Pittsburgh:

Operation Pittsburgh Sign Making Party!

These ladies even thought to get a picture with their Cap City medals, which I wanted, but wasn’t able to get after the race:

Deb, LeDawn, Sarah, Amy and Mandy

Deb ran with me and chatted about the Operation. It was awesome. I got chills every time she told me more about it. Deb kept me laughing through about 5 miles. It was magical for me. The half runners eventually turned off and I was more than thankful for my running partner. Deb said, “What she [Sara] didn’t know was that a Lucky 13 was waiting for her at every relay exchange, so one of us was running with her the whole race. I got to be the one to meet her first. The look on Sara’s face was priceless as she slowly figured out what was going on!! The section I ran was supposedly one of the flatter sections, but there were still a LOT more hills than we’re used to in Columbus. We walked some of the hills, but kept a good overall pace. It was a good run.”

Leg number three – Amy! She was smiling for ear to ear. I got tears in my eyes all over again. The switch of “Diane’s” bib was seamless. People were actually screaming – “Go Diane!” Amy powered forward. No hesitation. I started jogging to keep up. Then, I remembered one thing for our training season – Amy loves hills. This must mean hills. Lots of hills.

And then there was Mt. Washington. Almost a mile of straight up hill. We walked it. Amy in front, literally pulling me along. I was tired already. And I was worried about finishing the race. Amy kept smiling, kept persevering. She never faltered. I told her she was the calming presence of our group. If I could just follow in Amy’s stride, I was golden. She rocked it out to “I Gotta Feeling” up Mt. Washington. Literally. It was amazing. Amy, run Pittsburgh. You already got this course nailed. She made me laugh, but mostly, she calmed my nerves for the next five miles. Amy recounts our trek together beautifully, “So honored to be able to run part of this marathon with Sara! I was lucky enough to be the one to be with her going up Mt. Washington…the killer hill of all killer hills! We decided to walk it! I am soooo proud of her out there today. For her, it was tough mentally and physically, yet she persevered and finished! My time is not exact, but we also did a lot of walking around Pittsburgh trying to figure out where to go!!! I think I got in a good 13 miles today. Amy – run Pittsburgh. Run Pittsburgh and never look back.

Stay tuned, friends, for my half-way-done-life-saver and the miles where I almost fell apart…

Until the next mile marker,


Today was beautiful – sunny, high 60’s, slight breeze. Today was the kind of day when running dreams come true. Records are broken, you move freely like a bird in the sky, the ultimate runner’s experience.
Unless you’re me.
Let me back up – it was nice today. When I got off work, the sun was shining and it was warm, but not too warm. So, naturally, I came home, lazed around a bit, did some laundry, took a power nap and decided to run around 8:00 this evening.
That’s when all pandemonium broke loose! I’m not kidding – I got dressed (in my favorite t-shirt­ nonetheless), laced up my shoes, and headed out the door to the park behind my house. Went to locate a satellite on my Garmin and then, well, the world might as well of ended. My Garmin wouldn’t work. Not at all. Wouldn’t even beep, blink or anything. Wouldn’t even TURN-ON! It looked exactly like this:
Normal right??????
Did someone say PANIC?!?! Because I did! It was horrible. I moved out onto the sidewalk, I switched wrists, I tapped the screen, and I pushed all the buttons in every sequence I could think of – to no avail – still nothing. “Oh my God,” I thought, “How am I going to run NOW!?!?!?” That’s right. I came racing back into the house and plugged my Garmin into the charger. Maybe the battery was really out. Still nothing, not even the characterize chirp that it’s in the grooves correctly. I looked at the time on the face – it said 7:11 p.m. THE CLOCK ON MY COMPUTER SAID AFTER 7:52 P.M.!!!!! THIS CANNOT BE GOOD!!  I grabbed a wet wipe (I don’t know why, don’t judge me) and cleaned it – maybe it was dirty and didn’t want to work until it was clean again. NOTHING?!?!? As I started making funeral plans for my Garmin in my head, I tore apart the house searching for my cell phone (the only phone I have), and immediately called Fleet Feet. To my relief, Jeff answered, cheerful as always, and told me to do a factory reset. I asked him if it was dead. He said “No, happens frequently as the systems are updated.”
I was skeptical, but it was the only shot I had. My hands were shaking as a searched the Garmin website for instructions. How could I run without my Garmin?!?!?!
Grace could sense my distress:
Say it isn’t true!!!
 Sadie decided to hide until the chaos subsided:
Tell me when it is safe to come out!!!
I found it.

To perform a Master Reset on the Forerunner 405:

  1. Press and Hold down BOTH the Start/Stop and Lap/Reset Buttons (these are the two silver buttons on the right hand side)
  2. Keep these two buttons pressed in for 6 seconds and the screen will go blank
  3. Release the Start/Stop button (the top one) and continue to hold the Lap/Reset button for 3 additional seconds, then Release it
  4. Select “YES” (Enter Button) to the prompt asking to clear user data
  5. This will erase ALL data and then guide you through all of the introductory menus once again
It didn’t work. Maybe I can’t count to 6 or 3!?!?!
The third time I tried the reset it worked. There was much rejoicing (and thanking Jeff) on my part.
Of course, now it looks like this outside my window (I really don’t run in the dark on my side of town) and it is cold:
Blackness descending!
No run for me. All because I didn’t have a Garmin for an hour of my life? Apparently.
I started thinking about how ridiculous that is. Since when can I not run without a Garmin? Apparently since now. How would I know how far I ran? How fast I ran? If I was on pace or off pace?
Why does it matter?
Let’s try to remember to run for fun! If I would have just gone our and run, I probably would have felt better and got to enjoy the warm weather, instead of freaking out, having a near heart-attack and missing my opportunity. What’s the worst that could have happened? I ran a few miles more or less, faster or slower, and Feet Fleet closed so I couldn’t call them until tomorrow? Apparently.
People ran for thousands of years without watches – as my loving husband so kindly pointed out when he said, “It’s a watch, what’s the big deal?” – And probably enjoyed it. Maybe even more! My goal next week? Run at least once without my watch and see if I enjoy myself (I know, I know…it couldn’t of happened tonight, baby steps).
Tell me your Garmin stories. Can you run without your Garmin? Have you ever had to do a factory reset? Do you think it is ridiculous that we occasionally need technology to get a good workout in?
Until the next mile marker (which Garmin will hopefully measure for us),