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Boston: What to Read and How to Help

18 Apr

I’ve started multiple posts about the attacks at the Boston Marathon, but like many in the running community, I just cannot get my head around what took place.

Anything I write would simply be a less eloquent regurgitation of what has already been written, so instead I’m going to link to some of my favorite pieces, along with a few links to help those affected by Monday’s attacks in whatever way you can.

What to Read

Bring On the Next Boston Marathon

The People Who Watch Marathons

Boston

Boston & the Bond of Runners

If You Are Losing Faith in Humanity, Go Out and Watch a Marathon

The Good Outnumber You and We Always Will

An Open Letter to My Kids

How to Help

Run. Sign up for one of the many Boston runs taking place all across the US (and around the world!)

  • The Pavement Runner is compiling a list of #BostonStrong races taking place on Monday.
  • Many running groups, individuals, schools, businesses and other organizations have organized impromptu runs for Boston throughout the week.
  • I joined in the Run for Boston 4/17 movement last night along with Leslie and Carly to show our support:

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Donate.

  • The One Fund was created yesterday to help provide financial support to the victims of the Boston bombings.
  • The Red Cross is also accepting monetary donations, though they have received an over-abundance of blood donations.
  • The Richard Family Fund was set up in memory of 8-year-old Martin Richard who was killed in Monday’s attacks. Call Meetinghouse Bank at (617) 298-2250 to find out how to donate.

Show Kindness. Even small and simple acts -smiling at your fellow runner on the trail, giving up your Metro seat to someone in need, handing out your morning bagel to the homeless man on the corner, calling your family- are a wonderful reminder of how the good in humanity will always, always overcome the evil.

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Tracking Your Workouts

10 Apr

Confession time: I used to be a DailyMile whore. I posted every single workout on DailyMile. I did one push-up? That goes on DM! I ran a lap on the track? Better put it up on DM!

And then I just stopped. Like any addiction, once you break it it’s tough to go back without over doing it.

But in an effort to seriously improve my running this year and do more than just cross finish lines, I’ve decided I have to start tracking my workouts again. This time around, I’ll leave out my one pushup workouts.

I put out a call to my fellow running friends on Facebook as DailyMile is hardly the only platform available to record your runs. I couldn’t decide if I should return to my beloved DailyMile or try out a new platform. I’ve decided to stick with DM, at least for the time being, because the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Well, that’s what I’ve been told anyway.

But here are some other options if DailyMile just isn’t for you (for those unfamiliar with the platform DM is like Facebook for runners, you can post all of your workouts and your “friends” can comment on them and give you encouragement).

1) MapMyRun: I almost, almost switched to using this platform. Literally the day I decided I better start tracking all that ish again I received an invite from a runner friend to join MapMyRun. I signed up and was all, “Yes, awesome! This looks awesome!” (I tend to overuse the word awesome when I’m excited. Or when I feel extra sassy. Or really just all the time. Awesome). And then I couldn’t figure out how to do anything on the site, not because it’s hard, but because I’m tech-illiterate. Also, I’m easily frustrated; as in this is taking more than two seconds to figure out? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Many of my friends use MapMyRun and love it. So it does come highly recommended from people who have roughly five seconds of patience to spare, unlike me. Like everything in your entire life these days, you can link it to your Facebook account so it’s easy to set-up an account. You can also track your eats if you’re interested in monitoring what goes in your pie-hole.

2) Nike+. This comes preloaded on the iPhone. I honestly have never tried using it, despite being a proud iPhone owner since 2009. A friend of mine uses it and loves the app. It tracks your runs, can serve as a music player and will automatically post your runs to social media if you want everyone to know you so totally just killed the run!

As I’ve never used this app, I can’t speak to it’s consistency or ease of use, all I will say is that app has been on my iPhone since purchasing it over a year ago, and I have never once clicked it on.

3) RunKeeper. When I was a newbie runner I used to rely heavily on RunKeeper, especially in the dark days before Garmin entered my life. RunKeeper would track and save all my runs, so I could scroll back and look at my mileage, time, pace, etc. It was extremely easy to use and very handy if you only have your iPhone available. I believe they now offer a free and a paid version of the app.

This was about 3 years ago now, so things have likely improved, but I found the app to be very inconsistent. It would lose satellites and I would have run 4 miles but it would only have tracked 2 miles. Or it would tell me I had just run a 4:30 mile, which will never, ever happen no matter how much coffee I consume. Like I said, it’s been awhile since I’ve used the app, so some of those glitches have probably been fixed.

4) Good Ol’ Pen & Paper. What’s that you say? You want me to write by hand? On, like, notebook paper? What sort of dark, backwards magic is this?!

So, I grew up in a transition generation. Computers were prevalent when I was a kid, but they were still “special”, as in not every 5 year old child had one. For most of my childhood we just had one computer AND we had to learn how to print and write cursive in school. Outrageous! Cell phones became common when I was 13-ish, but for the entire time I’ve been a runner, smartphones and all their accompanying awesomeness have been available. I believe (although I don’t have confirmation) that there was a time when people had to record there workouts in notebooks. Notebooks! Who would do that?

Ok, in all seriousness, unless you’re wed to tracking your workouts in a notebook with an actual pen, I highly recommend switching to one of the above platforms, it’s easy, you have access to loads of features and, bonus!, there’s no risk of losing your prized notebook, which I would totally do.

Those are just the platforms I’m familiar with these days. Any others that I missed? What do you use and why do you like it?

2013 Running Goals

20 Mar

Right, so it’s March. Already. I actually wrote these goals not long after the New Year with every good intention of sharing before the first month of the year was out. And now it’s March- but, better late than never, right? Right??

If I’m being wholly honest, I lot of coffee drove the writing of these goals and I may have been slightly overambitious (run 1,000 miles?!). Hopefully, the perfect trifecta of motivation, energy, and determination will occur, and I’ll breeze through these goals. More likely, I’ll experience the imperfect trifecta of apathy, lethargy, and avoidance and will wheeze through these goals. But you know, one can always hope.

1) Beat my half-marathon PR. This is doable. Tots doable. As long as I actually make a plan, follow it, oh and sign up for a race. But in all seriousness, I love the half distance, it’s my favorite race to train. I can easily beat my PR by the end of the year. Probably.

2) Run my second marathon and beat my previous (crappy) PR. So anyone who has followed my humble little blog for awhile will now that I went into my first marathon in 2011 having just come off an injury that included several weeks of no running. My first marathon was not pleasant (not that any marathon is “pleasant”), and long story short, I walked away with an awful finish time. I’d love to run my second marathon and beat my crappy finish time, but my body does not care for 26.2 beast and I’m not certain I’m ready to tackle running another marathon this year.

3) Run a second relay-race. I loved Ragnar. Such an awesome time. Except the whole sleeping in the dirt thing. I don’t camp. Ever. That’s why we invented houses and indoor plumbing. But, otherwise, love Ragnar. Maybe I’ll just sleep in the van this time around.

4) Run 1,000 miles. Pretty sure this is not going to happen for 2 reasons a) I have not been accurately tracking my running (I’m sorry DailyMile that I’ve been neglecting you) and b) I just did not run enough in the first 3 months of the year. Oh well, there’s always 2014.

5) Run a 5K. This will happen as I’m volunteering as a race director for a local 5K.

6) Run a race with the pups. This could be a lot of fun or a complete disaster as my dogs are currently going through a phase of “let’s bark at every dog we see and try to pull mommy’s arm out of her socket while we chase down the dogs and make them be friends with us!” Common sense, is not my strong suit, so I’ll convince myself it will be find and will immediately regret my decision as soon as I get to the start line. I make good life choices!

7) Don’t compare my running to anyone else. Truth moment: I’m competitive. I like to win. I like the teams I support to win. I’m also not very fast. And I cheer for teams that tend to be very hot/cold (I’m looking at you New York Giants!) Comparing my running abilities to others always results in me tearing myself down. By just focusing on my abilities without the comparison factor, I notice my improvements more vividly and I feel like I take more care of my running because I’m no longer expanding energy thinking about others. It’s a win-win!

Running with Pets

12 Mar

I really should title this post “Running with Dogs” as I don’t believe there exists another domesticated animal that takes well to being leashed up and dragged on a run. But got to make sure I’m inclusive and all that jazz.

I have two incredibly adorable, but insanely high energy pups.

Ella is 3 years old and a pointer/hound mix (this dog simply doesn’t know what tired is). While she’s calmed down slightly since adopting her, she could probably run 10 miles and still want to play a rousing game of tug-of-war. When we start a run, Ella’s mindset is “RUN!! Must run as fast as I possible can. Now! RUN FAST!” I would say she’s a sprinter, but she never tires no matter how long we run for. She’s a very unique combination of sprinter + long-distance runner.

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Roscoe is a 2 year old Beagle/Collie/possibly Lab/possibly Dachshund mix. He’s a bit smaller than Ella, and while he enjoys a good run he’d rather cuddle on the couch. Where Ella is out of the gate, guns blazing, Roscoe is content to just trot along, checking out the scenery, checking on momma to make sure she just saw that fascinating squirrel that ran by. He will sprint when a cat or other interesting creature appears, but otherwise his running is more akin to a Sunday drive, as opposed to Ella’s Usain Bolt approach.

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To say the least they’re interesting to run with. They both are also currently going through a phase where the have to bark at EVERY dog we pass. So that’s fun. But here a few tips and tricks I employ to make running with our pups a little less stressful.

1) Don’t run with a retractable leash. I know some people love to run with their dog using a retractable leash. I’ve found that our dogs are too unpredictable when we’re on runs (SQUIRREL! CAT! SMALL CHILDREN! TREE!) and it’s much, much easier for them to wrench a retractable leash out of my hand than it is to wrench a leash I’ve wrapped around my wrist. I use a Y-leash when running with the pups as it’s easier for me to handle than two separate leashes.

2) Do not give them too much leeway. The first time I took Ella on a run, I nearly killed her. We were running past a local gas station on a busy road, about to make a turn on a trail. The gas station had a few advertising flags out and as we went past Ella completely freaked as the flag flipped around in the wind. She half-back flipped around and was out in the street before I even realized the longer leash I had her on had run through my hands. Now, I keep them on very short leashes and avoid major roads whenever possible.

3) Not all dogs are made the same. Some dogs take to running quite quickly, others were just not born to run. Growing up we had 180-lb St. Bernard who were lucky to get to walk (if a 180 lb dog doesn’t want to do something, he is NOT going to do it). But Ella, at a lean 53-lbs of pure muscle would be happy to run around like a nut all day every day. Roscoe falls somewhere in between. He likes a good run, but then it’s nap-time. Get to know your dog and your dog’s capabilities. Don’t force a non-running dog to run and don’t keep a dog that loves to run caged up. Otherwise, you’ll end up down a few pairs of shoes. I speak from experience, people.

4) Keep an eye on the weather. Be careful of running with your furry, four-legged pal when the weather is tending to extremes. Our very first dog, a Boxer who was an absolute sweetheart died of heatstroke at 6 while out for a walk one summer day. Extreme cold can also be dangerous. Some dogs are better built to handle extreme cold (our St. Bernard for one), but Ella and Roscoe are lean pups with short-hair, not designed to withstand extreme cold for long periods of time.

5) Bring treats. This will save your ass if your dog manages to escape your grasp. Roscoe usually listens if you scream loudly to stop, but Ella just continues on her merry way. The only way she be lured back is with the promise of food. It can also be a good training mechanism if you’re working on teaching them to heel.

Any tips or tricks for running with dogs? Any one have a cat, or a rabbit, or a lizard that likes to run? Everyone knows cats, rabbits and lizards make the best runners.

Senseless.

14 Dec

I had a post all set to go today about changing your running form. But that doesn’t seem to matter much now.

After reading about the senseless massacre in Connecticut my heart is too full for much else. My thoughts tonight will be with all those parents who won’t have excited children racing down the stairs come Christmas morning. All those families who will have one conspicuous spot open at holiday dinners this year.

I’ll end with this quote from Nelson Mandela, “”There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

A Promising Return

4 Dec

Well, well, well. So much for my grand plans to get back on track and start posting regularly. Said grand plans had to be set aside when life got in the way. Without getting into too many boring personal details it has been a year of extreme highs and very deep lows for me. A year of love and new beginnings coupled with loss and significant readjustments. One day I might be prepared to share, but I’m still getting a grip on the major changes to my surroundings and it’s a tough slog at times.

But, despite all the ups and downs, I’ve found that I’ve missed blogging these past few months, and while I probably have roughly zero readers left at this point (that’s what I get for teasing everyone with “Hey! I’m returning to regularly scheduled programming” posts and then doing the exact opposite) I’d like to start blogging again, even if it is just to keep my sanity in check. Maybe I’ll get lucky and a feel people will journey on over to my little piece of the internet. If so awesome! Welcome, you are fabulous and I’m happy to have you here. If no one finds they’re way over here, that’s okay too, life will certainly go on even if my blog doesn’t have, like, SO many hits everyday! So for these few readers who still occasionally check in over here, today’s post might be a little a serious, but I pinky-promise it’s probably just this one time. Serious isn’t my style. We all need a little sass and sarcasm up in here.

So along with blogging, running also took a backseat for awhile. But fortunately, that has started to shift over recent weeks and I’ve turned back to running. Sometimes for fun, sometimes to clear my head, and sometimes just because the sun is shining and I can. I stupidly signed up for another half-marathon, made a training plan and then promptly do not follow it. But in the end it wasn’t so bad. I ran the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon on Sunday, and while I am definitely sore, it’s not abysmal. I promise a forth-coming post with more race/training details.

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I’m planning to sit down before the New Year and create some solid running goals for myself. Once I have a few goals set, I’ll make the requisite training plans and, fingers crossed, I’ll stick to those plans this time around. I may have gotten away with no training and no injuries this year, but knowing my body as I do, it’s only a matter of time.

I don’t have plans to become a three-times a day blogger, I can’t even promise I’ll blog every day (honestly, some days I just have nothing interesting to say, especially on Mondays they suck), but I will posting at least a couple times a week again. Although, I can’t guarantee it will be about anything remotely exciting or relevant or serve any purpose whatsoever other than I felt like ranting and rambling.

And if you’re interested in what little writing I have been doing recently, you can scurry on over here to do a little further reading.

Making A Comeback

11 Apr

So… for those few who still occasionally check-in on my little corner of the internet, I haven’t blogged for ages. Like, since before my marathon. Which was months ago. 6 months ago. There were tons of changes going on in my life, new job, new apt, etc (new tattoos, new piercings, becoming a hippie and joining a commune… just kidding!). and blogging just had to take a back seat. Initially, I was only planning to take a break for a week or two. That week or two turned into a month or two and now here we are 6 months down the line. I also took a serious and probably much needed break from running. I didn’t stop completely (are you crazy? Running is my sanity) but I brought my mileage WAY down, and for the first time in a year wasn’t obsessively following a training plan. Instead, I took a a strange, new approach that maybe you’ve heard of called… running when you feel like it. On average I ran 2-3 times a week. I also haven’t raced since Marine Corps Marathon.

At first, I thought something was wrong, and there was a gaping hole where my training plans used to be. But frankly, I was burnt-out after spending the year training for my first race, my first half-marathon (and a few subsequent ones) and my first marathon. The break was much needed mentally and physically.

But my break-up with training plans couldn’t last forever. And lately I’ve felt my eyes drifting to my refrigerator, sizing up the empty space where my training plan used to me. So, I’ve decided a comeback is in order. A comeback to running (more than a few miles 2-3 times a week), a comeback to training plans, and a comeback to blogging. So here’s to what will assuredly hopefully be a successful return to the world!