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,

Strong Body by Rebecca Runs: The Cap City Quarter Recap

 Please give a warm welcome to my best friend, trainer and new running buddy Rebecca. This past Saturday, she finished her first competitive race – The Capital City Quarter Marathon! Rebecca and I ran the first 3 miles or so together on Saturday and I can honestly say, watching the excitement and joy she experienced as a first-rime runner was such an inspiration to me. She helped to remind me of why I started running in the first place – to have fun and feel better about myself! Read on to hear what Rebecca has to say about the road to becoming a runner!

Quarter Marathon 5-7-11 Official Time 1:17

Well, I finished! I finished the Cap City Quarter Marathon without a hiccup or problem the whole way. This was my first race EVER and only the SECOND time I’ve run any further than a mile or two on a treadmill.

You see I’ve never seen myself as a runner. I’ve tried running in the past and never really fell in love with it so I avoided it like the plague. I always thought I was too slow to be a runner. I never believed in my body to think I could be an awesome runner if I tried.

Are you the kind of person that always tries things but never sticks to them? I’m the queen of doing this and most of the things I quit, I’m usually not very good at. When I first started trying to lose weight, I thought I would start by running. The most I ever got was about 5 houses down and I usually went around a corner so no one would see me stop so soon after starting. It was really embarrassing for me. Then one day I made it 10 houses. Another I made it a half mile. I remember coming home one day and telling Aaron I ran an entire mile around our neighborhood. I was ecstatic!

But I could never really get into it. We bought bikes last year and I really enjoyed going for a bike ride. It seemed easier to me and I liked riding fast unlike my slow running pace, if you could even call what I did running!

Then Sara fell in love with running and joined MIT. She talked about it all the time. Sometimes I wished I joined with her but I really didn’t like running that much to spend my Saturday mornings doing it along with hours required to train on my own. Oh, by the way, I’m not a morning person either. The thought of getting up at 7am on a Saturday was dreadful enough let alone to go run too.

One by one Sara recruited runners to come and join her group. She started coaching her group and the joy in her voice when speaking of them and cheering them on was amazing. Maybe I really was missing out on something.

Now I know why Sara loves running.

LOVE my first medal!

It started out with me waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning to get ready to head downtown. Why can’t these things be at 2pm? I was very excited to see there was no rain and the temperature was tolerable for me. I’m sort of a non-fan about being cold and wet. I ate my dry whole wheat waffle and we headed on downtown. Luckily we found a great parking spot and was able to meet Sara right out front of Nationwide arena near the finish line.

So, this is where we finish I say…. Sara replied, “yup.” Cool.

How many freaking people could be crammed into a short street? The lines for the porta potty’s were ridiculous! I started to feel a little claustrophobic! Good or Bad Idea but I refused to drink a lot before the race so I wouldn’t have to rely on a portable toilet to do the deed that morning!

We lined up in our Corral and I could FEEL the LOVE from everyone in that place!!! Sara is a running super star. Everywhere we went someone knew her. There were 25 people wearing in memory of Darlene back bibs.

In memory of Darlene Back Bibs!

 Okay, so apparently they let about a thousand people at a time go so it was a 10 minute wait before our pace group hit the streets. I started out with Sara because I wanted to support her and be there for her because I knew it was a difficult race for her without her mom. I think she laughed at me when I said, “wait, we haven’t even gone a mile yet!” The first few miles were rough. But then suddenly something hit me.

Some crazy runner’s voice inside of me was pushing me and making my legs go one after another. I felt like I was making Sara run too fast and I didn’t want to mess up her pace. She told me to go ahead and I did. I passed people like crazy and it felt amazing! Then I merged with the 1/2 marathoners around mile 4 and at that point they started passing me! Until mile 6, I felt like the wind was under my feet. I picked up the pace and hauled ass down Nationwide Boulevard to the finish line!

Legs shaking, heart racing … I saw a familiar face! Gail!!! She finished the 5k in 25 minutes and was waiting for her husband to finish the 1/2 marathon. Brian finished the marathon in just a few minutes more than it took me to complete the Quarter! My watch said 1:15 but the official time was 1:17. Gail and I forgot to take a picture in all the chaos of the end of the race.

I waited for Aaron to walk down and he never came. I called him and he said he didn’t even see me cross the finish line!! Are you serious…. I could have killed him for not paying attention!!

Anyway, we walked around the finish line party. Got some amazing stuff from Victoria’s Secret Sexy Sport VSX booth, some food and I begged my knee to stop swelling.

We finally found Sara!!! She gave me a huge hug and we found some champagne to toast and celebrate with a smile.


And we went to watch Mollie cross the finish line for her 1/2 marathon!

Finish Line

So after all of this story telling…. What did I learn from running this??

1) Don’t ever not train for any type of race! I think had a trained a little bit, my knee would not have reacted the way it did right after the race.

2) Make sure you drink at the re-fueling stations! They seem much farther apart while you are running than they actually are on the map.

3) Make sure your shoes fit properly before actually starting the race. Ooops.

4) Run with a buddy! It really makes the time go by faster. Know your pace though because you don’t want to throw other people off and burn them out before they are ready.

5) Running is an individual sport with team spirit. You should have seen ALL of the fans with posters, supportive stuff and giving High 5′s while we were running. It was amazing and kept me going for sure.

6) Let your body keep your pace. I didn’t have to speed up or slow down at all. It just ran at its on pace on its own time schedule and it ended up working out just fine.

7) Muscular Strength is uber important when it comes to running. I’d like to thank my Quads for pushing me through this race. They weren’t even sore today!

8) It really doesn’t matter how fast you are because unless you run a 5 minute mile, you aren’t going to actually win the race.

9) Running is fashionable. I’d like to think that I still was able to look cute during the race. I think the VSX by Victoria’s Secret gear made me run faster because I felt better about myself!!

10) I enjoy running. I am now a runner. So, Weird.

Thanks, RB for the great advice and inspiring story!

Until the next mile marker, 

Relax! It’s Time to Celebrate Race Week!

MIT Winter Session 2011

Queue the Rocky theme song! [Da, Da, Daaaa, Da, Da, Daaaaaa] Crank up Eye of the Tiger. It’s the week you’ve all been waiting for! This Saturday, the MIT Lucky 13’s will be running your goal race – the Cap City Half Marathon in Columbus. For many of you, it is your first half marathon ever.

Yes, this is the week. This weekend you are going to run 13.1 miles. You are strong – you are probably in better physical and mental condition than you have been in your entire life. In fact, you are so ready that as you continue to taper this week, you may feel like you are losing your edge, even taking too much time off before the big day. Should you run more? Pick up the pace? Add an extra day just to be sure?

Not at all. By resting this week, you are actually becoming a stronger runner. It is through reast that our muscles become stronger. You are right where you need to be – you have trained long and hard for this race and you are ready. I have ever confidence in your training program and in you. You can do this, you will do this.

It is not uncommon to feel a great deal of anxiety this week and to feel wound up. It is important to relax, though. Worry and tension create fatigue. So, make sure you take some time this week to do whatever most relaxes you. I remember being completely terrified for my first half marathon and wound to the max, but looking back there was no need to stress myself out so much. I followed the same training plan as you and I made it through – it was the single greatest accomplishment of my life thus far. I have no doubts that you will also look back on your race with fond and proud memories.

Although you may feel like you know how to relax, sometimes added stress can make it hard to remember to do so. The benefits of relaxation are paramount. From a physical standpoint, injury, fatigue, soreness and stiffness are far less likely. Psychologically speaking reduced anxiety increase feelings of self-confidence and overall well-being. Plus, you also get better sleep at night thus improving your state of mind.

Helpful Tips to Help You Relax:

The Muscle to Mind Approach (a.k.a Progressive Relaxation)  

  • For each muscle group (i.e. hand and forearm; biceps, forehead, abdominal region, thigh, calf, foot, etc.) give yourself a verbal signal such as “tense” and immediately tense the muscle group. Practice until you can isolate the tension in each specific muscle group and maintain it for 5 to 7 seconds. Then, give yourself the verbal signal to “relax” and immediately relax the muscle group, keeping your focus on the muscle group so that you can feel it relax. Each muscle group should take less than 10 seconds so you can relax your body in about 2 minutes. Many people repeat this cycle multiple times to feel the full benefits.  

The Visualization Approach (a.k.a My Personal Favorite) 

  • And yes, it really works – it got me through the nerves for my first half! I did it religiously the days leading up to my race. Here’s a brief explanation: Begin by thinking about what kind of situation would generally be relaxing to you. For example, laying by the pool, taking a walk in the woods or reading your favorite book. Whatever it may be for you, try to imagine it in as complete as detail as possible. For me, it was visualizing success. I closed my eyes and envisioned myself crossing the finish line of my first race. I felt the breeze on my face, the warm sun on my face and the expected heaviness of my legs at the last few hundred yards. I heard my friends and family cheering me on and I saw them jumping, waving and cheering from the sidelines. I felt and heard my breathing, even and controlled – in my visualization, I was calm and successful. Now, for many, this may not be relaxing, but it was for me – so, my words of advice? Choose what is right for you! 


“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”

-George Sheehan

Until the next mile marker,

The Side Stitch

This morning was a 7 mile run for my pace group. It was cold, windy, and icy downright treacherous outside. I think at one point we were literally tip-toeing along the icy trail to avoid slipping and falling. It made for an interesting adventure, to say the least, and a tough run for all. All peril aside though, the group did an amazing job – I was so impressed! The runners I ran with only a month ago are not the runners that I ran with today. They are stronger, faster, more confident, and really coming out of their shells. I noticed today that – ice aside – people were chatting and laughing as we were running. They were eager to be running, which makes me thrilled to run with them!

It was the first time most of them have ever run 7 miles and it was truly exciting to watch them accomplish what they set out to do. I heard people saying things like, “Who would have thought the first 4 miles would be no big deal?” and “I overcame my mental block today!” and “I can’t believe we just ran 7 miles without stopping,” and “You did such a great job!”

We also had a mid-week run on Thursday with temperatures in the single digits and darkness. Let me tell you, these runners are tough (Thank you to Deb who took our picture in the cold!):

MIT Lucky 13’s

Cramps and Running:

I had one of the ladies in the group ask me today what to do about a cramp she was having in her side. I immediately told her to put her arm in the air (as if asking a question in school) and breathe as deeply as possible. “Wow that really does help!” She exclaimed. I was glad to be able to pass on some advice that proved to be helpful.

There are basically three kinds of cramps that can occur when running:

The Side Cramp (a.k.a. Stitch): While this type of cramping is fairly common in running, it doesn’t make it any less painful. It can plague novice and veteran runners alike and according to Jeff Galloway – 1972 Olympian and veteran runner – is generally a result of shallow breathing, not breathing deeply from the lower lung.  

Tip to fix: I have found that raising your arm in the air while running forces you to breath deeper and helps to alleviate any cramping associated with shallow breathing. Galloway also suggests putting your hand on your stomach as you breathe because if you are breathing from your lower lungs your stomach should be rising and falling with each breath. Sometimes, just starting out a little slower can also help alleviate side stitches.

The Stomach Cramp: This type of pain, often in the lower abdominals, can also be associated with shallow breathing. However, it can also be the result of putting too much fluid or food into your stomach at one time. I try to drink small amounts of water at hydration stations and not overdo it.  

Tip to fix: Avoid eating for a longer period of time before you set out to run. Also pay attention to what you eat and its effects on your running. You may be choosing a pre-workout food that doesn’t agree with you.

Leg Cramps: Severe muscle cramping, especially in the legs, is often a result of dehydration. I make sure I encourage the runners in my pace group to drink fluids – Gatorade and water – even when they don’t feel thirsty to remain hydrated and avoid muscle cramping. Galloway also says that an imbalance of blood electrolytes (such as calcium, potassium, and sodium) can cause cramping.  

Tip to fix: Make sure you are properly hydrated before, during, and after your run. Ideal fluid intake should be 12 to 20 ounces of fluid before a workout or race and 5 to 7 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during your run (Ohio Health Sports Medicine). Typically, people are 2 percent dehydrated every day. Drinking during the day is really important!

Inspirational Quote:

“Running long and hard is an ideal antidepressant, since it’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time. Also, there are those hours of clearheadedness that follow a long run.”
-Monte Davis

Until the next mile marker,