Friday, January 30, 2015

There is no "I" in Run

I think when most people think of the sport of running they make the assumption that you accomplish everything on your own.  There is little anyone else can contribute to the success/failure of a runner.

This is far from the truth; in fact I would argue running, more then ANY other sport, critically needs support both personally and financially.

First, there's the mental part.  Running is 90% mental.  You are out there day after day, logging the miles, a majority of them solo.  You have a lot of time to get into your head :)  Trust me on that one. And when race day comes, especially for the art of the marathon, you have spent an entire year preparing, thinking about this one race, this one day.  And no one can help you when you are out there, it's your 2 legs;  there is no team to fall back on.  You can't blame the bonk on "Johnny" who missed the field goal, no sunshine, you just didn't cut it!  After all this work, you cannot afford to goof this up; you will have wasted all that training. This is where the support comes in.  Jodi, my mom, Justin, my sister, and Adam have walked me off many a cliff.  I quite possibly would be running on a hamster wheel in a cage without them.  You have to have this core group who knows you, knows what to say and WHEN (that is key).   They are your support, your foundation, they bring you back to reality so you can execute on race day.

Second, coaching yourself in running is very difficult.  Many professional runners who try it end up turning back.  It is hard to see the end goal - and then draw the map there.  It takes someone really skilled to step back and build the plan as you go adapting to your workouts, milestone races, and even "life".  I have been blessed to have a coach do this for me.  They also learn you in a way most of your friends/family do not; a coach/athlete relationship is very deep bond that only those 2 understand.  My coach knows I love cheer-leading when I kick a workout's ass - it fires me up; but I do NOT like to be patted on the back when I bomb it; accountability works for me - so I'd rather hear it, face reality, and that really FIRES me up.  

Third, back to my Mr. Magoo post.  Your team.  Running competitively is a full time job - literally for the really good ones; but also for the serious ones.  Logging 90+ miles a week takes a lot of time outside those on the road.  Every runner is different but depending on what makes you tick this could involve chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, acupuncture people, nutritionists, blood work experts, strength coaches, yoga teachers, Pilates instructors, ART/MAT specialists, etc.  This crew keeps you on the road and at your peak performance day in and day out.  And then for those blessed enough, your actual teammates; having the best in the US :)  I can honestly say the accountability and push that they gave you, change the game.  It is fitting our sponsor, Pantene, is powered by a Stronger Together campaign right now. Obviously, they intend for it to be in regards to shampoo and conditioner; but there is a powerful second meaning that our team lives by; hence we tag EVERY tweet, picture, post #SDPStrongerTogether - we believe it too, just like Pantene!

Lastly, and here comes the fun part!!!!  Financial Sponsors.  The common thought is running is simple, all you need is shoes....well yes - but at 90 miles a week, and 300 miles per shoe, that's roughly a pair of shoes every 3-4 weeks, or 13-14 shoes a year (and those are just for base training); depending on the runner there is also a need for racing flats, track workouts, or trail runs. That's a lot of shoes!:)    As my old neighbor can attest to,  I could open a shoe store in my front hallway.  And we've just talked shoes, there are so many key pieces that are the details that truly set apart good to great: socks, hydration, fueling, timing splits, HRM, etc.

I am wicked (shout out to my East Coast buddies!) excited to share my sponsors for this year.   I could not be more fired up or proud to chase big things in 2015 knowing I represent these amazing sponsors.  The best part about these sponsors is that I am truly an avid user of all of them; I would wear/brag/sell them to people even if they were not on board with this journey. I just plain love them.

So here we go; here's an introduction to each.  And this is just the beginning!  Throughout the year I will do fun contests and giveaways for FREE product!

Full disclosure #PGEMP
I have to start with P&G, because how many people can truly say they are really proud of who they work for and what they stand for?  P&G has had my back many times throughout my 10 years with them; and so it is picture perfect that they are 100% behind my running dream.  P&G makes over 100+ brands; most famously Tide, Bounty, Pampers, Pantene, Always, Cover Girl, Gillette, and Secret.  Obviously I have the inside perspective but these products are truly the best out there, you would not believe the pride and rigor that goes into being the best - because every single day people ask the question how does the product make life easier/better for the consumer?  I never once sat in a meeting where I felt it was about making a dollar, I always felt like it was about making a life better.  And while the products are great, the people are even better.  

I am probably most excited about this sponsor because I have always really been shoe frustrated; until I found Skechers.  Many people say Skechers?  Yes this not your grandfather's Cadillac ( I have always wanted to say that!)  Many elites have started wearing them; including Meb and Kara; but I urge you to try them if you are looking for a new running shoe.  I made the switch because of their dedication to elite running and truly designing towards and with runners.  The 2 things I like most about their line-up is the wide forefront and lightweight feel.   I run 70% of my miles in the GO Run Ride 4's,  10% of my miles in trail shoes the GOBionic Trail, and 10% of miles in racing flats the GOmeb speed 3's.  You can check them all out here...

Nuun!  Pronounced "noon" like the time for lunch (my favorite meal of the day because that means it's peanut butter sandwich time!)  By now, I think most folks have heard me rave about this product. It truly changed the game for me in terms of hydration.  My whole fueling journey could be a post in itself; so I will just leave it simple and say - it took me about 5 years to realize I was not drinking enough, and then 1 month (due to a minor heat stroke incident  - let's hope mom is NOT reading this) to realize I was not drinking enough electrolytes.  60% of your fluids need to have electrolytes to replace what you lose out of sweat, etc.  So say you drink 100 oz a day; 60 of those suckers need to have electrolytes.  I literally can FEEL a "pop" after I drink Nuun; like it resets me or something.  Anyways without any artificial anything in it; I am a huge fan.

My socks!!!  My feet are very ugly, it's okay, even Justin has told me they are brutal.  You really do not find me prancing around barefoot as a foot model anyway so as long as they are happy, I am happy.  And socks - these socks - have made them very happy.  Swiftwick is a made in the USA company, which I love, and they just get athletes.  They are compression socks, which many people argue the benefit of compression, here is what my humble opinion is.  If you think you will run faster in blue underwear, wear it.  If you think you will race faster in compression socks do it (neither factually will do that for you).  BUT, I do believe that the recovery compression socks provide is REAL.  So I wear them for recovery runs, long runs, and while traveling.  OK, I have also been seen getting the mail in them too.  ("Mommy why is that girl wearing tall socks? in 120 degree heat).  I literally feel lighter in the legs after I take them off, like I could bounce.  Huge fan.
Sweaty Bands!  This one is a long time supporter of me, I have raced in my famous red polka dot band for years; most people know me by that!  I recently have changed that up, but still love this product.  I sweat A LOT...I would argue more then the average person my height/weight, so this keeps from the EYE BURN syndrome which I struggled with forever.  Sweat burns man!  Plus if you are a fashionista, which I am not, you can literally get one however you like!  Great for hot yoga, running, the gym, heck even frolicking around in the grocery store.  I will wear Sweaty Bands for the rest of my life (well assuming I have hair - let's not worry about that yet, I digress.)

2:43,  I want to see that number so bad, and I need a good GPS watch to read it on :)   Soleus Running watches are actually named after the muscle in your calf - very powerful - that basically enables you to run.  It's a simple muscle, but powerful in nature.  This watch is the same; once you learn it, it;s simple to navigate but the data it provides is powerful in advancing your  training:  HR info, splits, avg. pace, insta pace, calories (who cares about those), and of course time.  You never want to become a data hound, but I will say like the old reading rainbow commercial  - The more you know, the more you grow!  Data can transform your running.  Anyways, I am huge fan!

This post has turned out to be rather long, but it's important to me to say thank you to the real team behind the miles.  Every step, every milestone, is in part thanks to YOU :)

Here's to AGGRESSIVE goals, SMART training, and BIG dreams in 2015!

Monday, January 19, 2015

1st Race of 2015! RNR AZ

I am going to try and be very fast on the turnaround for race reviews, because it is best to reflect right away, as to remember what you did/didn't do so you can learn and move forward.

This past weekend a few of us kicked off the 2015 season at the Rock N Roll AZ 1/2 marathon/marathon.  Honestly, I did not know what to expect.  On the one hand I feel like a had a bit of a "breakthrough" at a Thanksgiving race - a mental tweak my sister actually helped me with - and since then I have been training well, loving my new teammates and support, getting back into some track work consistently, so all in all a good block of training.  On the other hand, Sunday my grandma passed away, and so I flew to Chicago for the wake/funeral, an emotional low.  And then right to Cincy for an inspirational meeting, emotional high.  I got home Thursday night after midnight.  Net, not great on the body, and had done most of my key pre-race workouts via treadmill. But we talked through the race plan; and I felt good about it.  Life is never perfect anyway, it is what you do with what it hands you that determines your success.  So I set out the gear for the morning excited to get after it!
Running this year for Nuun, Swiftwick, Soleus Running, Sweaty Bands, Skechers, P&G, and  Sonoran Distance Project!

I feel like I have found a morning race routine that is working for me; my close friend is a health/nutrition coach and we found the perfect combo in the hours before the race that is really working.  Her paleo bread and almond butter plus 1 bottle of Nuun.  I eat a lot of carbs in  general so this kind of just tops the tank I think and keeps me full (protein).  Then I do my hip routine and hit the car to get there.

Driving in...I knew it....I felt it, I was like - "I am stoked, not nervous, just frikkin stoked to run".  And as soon as I arrived and saw my teammate Natalie I felt at home; some people just have that gift and she is one of them.  We warmed up 2 miles, did some drills and headed to the start.
Natalie and I standing by a fire pit in the elite tent area, yes it was 60 degrees, but I have learned your blood thins fast after living here!

At the start I really didn't have my BRUTAL mental issues I usually have, I mean I am not going to say I was singing Annie, but I was pretty calm.  Gun went off, and we went out a tad fast then the desired pace; but not too bad (my usual issue).  And it was FRIKKIN FUN.  The cool thing is we ran in silence together for about 9 miles, yet it was like we were conversing the whole time.  The sound of each other breathing....was words.  You could hear the training, the common understanding, the emotions you go through...all through breath.  At 9 you go straight up a hill and that is where the race plan became a bit more unknown.  Some days you have it, and those are the moments you cherish, because it feels so special.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I didn't really lose pace and one of my last miles was actually 6:04.  I felt like I could run forever.  PR 1:22:40 (previous 1:24:34).

Running can be a brutal sport. You work so hard, day after day, and nothing, nothing, nothing to show for it. Then finally a breakthrough.  This has literally been 4 years in the making since illness/injury.  I have made some strides, progress all the way for sure, but very small PRs.  This was a 2 minute PR - on a WAY tougher course.  So I am not declaring victory, trust me the work ahead is daunting; but it was what I NEEDED, I prayed for this, a sign to believe in the training, don't let go, keep hanging on.
One of our sponsors, Pantene,  rallies around an amazing campaign, Stronger Together and this race was the perfect example of that.  
So net, right after you cross the line recovery begins; and I am pretty anal about recovery. I have a whole routine that could be a post in itself, so I won't bore you the details!  But, now it's back to work; something as sick as it sounds is very comforting for me, I enjoy the journey.  And as my mom said, my grandma FINALLY got to see me race, and she saw a good one :)

I always have this ridiculous glazed over look when I finish racing....embarrassing.
Best seat in the house to watch is on the road itself :)