Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do you run when sick???

Well, the question is actually should you run/train while sick?

I can tell you that my friend Google will find me any answer I want, but the reality is I want to know if it is healthy/safe to run while sick. What started as a sore throat after I ran my 10 miler on Saturday (which I will tell you about in another post), eventually turned into feeling great on Sunday but a little congested, Monday I had an extremely stuffy nose, and now today I was barely able to get out of bed except to go to the doc and stop in the running store to order my new shoes (had to beat the sale). Since my doctors appointment I can tell you I have gotten a little worse but will spare you the gory details.

There are multiple camps as it relates to running while sick. Some people say run away, it will make you feel better, while others say running while sick could ruin your recovery.

I have also read about the neck rule. Ever heard it before? I haven't... The basics are if it is above the neck (runny nose, sore throat/ears/sinus, etc.) you are good to run. If you have chest congestion, nausea or fever you should not run. Other people just say don't run if you don't feel like running.

Anyway, I am now missing a second day of training and aside from not wanting to get out of bed I am getting anxious about the potential of missing another day of training (could this mean I'm starting to get better? I hope so!). So here I sit still, well actually lie, trying to decide... If I am able to get out of bed tomorrow and function semi-normally should I go out for a run??? If you have advice, it is now being solicited! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lovin some Runnin

If you know me even just a little bit you know that I have this undying love for Michael Franti. If he is in town, or even in the state, I will go and see him just for the energy he builds in the crowd. Even if you are not one to dance it is impossible not to when there is a little Franti playing on the radio or in person. What I love even more is what Michael Franti stands for...

So Saturday morning I woke up at my usual time 6:30 a.m., took Dukie out for a short stroll and then headed up to Worthington High School for my first Marathoner in Training (MIT) workout. I was sitting on the bleachers taking in the scene before we started running and found the same type of energy building as I always feel at a Franti concert. You see if you talk with people at a Michael Franti concert you will sometimes hear faithful fans asking other concert goers how many times they have seen Michael Franti in concert, if the answer is none the faithful fan will follow that up with any combination of the following lines:

Oh man, you are a Franti virgin, he is amazing live!!!
You are going to love him!!!
Get ready to dance your butt off!
This will be the best concert you will ever see (until next time of course)!

As the mass of people were gathering at the MIT training yesterday I noticed that all of the veterans were chatting it up with their running friends, the new folks were hanging out trying to figure out the flow of the morning, the coaches were having a quick meeting on the field, people were signing in and dropping their keys off. I was looking around trying to figure out where I might fit in and that is when I realized I already did fit in. The energy was contagious; it was like being at a Michael Franti concert. People were excited to get their first run with this group under their belt, I found in that moment my love for running!!! It was the best feeling and because every memory/moment can be matched with a song, I thought I would share the one that took over while sitting in those bleachers yesterday:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Journey to the Finish Line (and Race for the Cure)


Better Pic from Half Marathon
I was talking with my sister last week about how the first three miles of a long training run can be the most difficult part of the workout. While I was running the 5k on Saturday (more about that later) I realized all I could think about was crossing the finish line as fast as possible. There wasn't a moment that I wondered whether I could complete the race. I can tell you that when I crossed the finish line all I wanted to do was keep going because I was just hitting my groove.

Picture from 10 miler in Gahanna!
When I ran the half marathon last week the first three miles were absolutely the most difficult. Throughout the race I encountered a sea of emotions, challenges and of course at the end success. There was a journey in that run, a journey that I embraced and loved. Endurance events are more about your mind than your body. I often play mind games with myself that include beating myself up for not working out harder, congratulating myself for training consistently, crying because I am in pain, smiling at the knowledge that I am challenging myself, and the list goes on. You probably noticed that in the previous sentence I contradicted myself, but that is what happens when you are continuously challenging yourself.

So why would anyone do this to themselves? We have all heard the famous quotes about focusing on the journey not the destination, I think my new favorite though is this "It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." When I reflect back upon my two half marathons, my 62 mile ride, and when I look toward the full marathon I rarely reflect on or envision the finish line, but instead the little nuggets of information I have or will gain along the way. I appreciate the stories I have to share with friends, the moments in which I moved beyond what I thought was impossible. I guess what I am trying to say is there isn't an end point in this journey to become an athlete, but instead new challenges to face in the future.

One of my favorite signs during the half marathon stated that 'Humpty Dumpty had issues with walls too'. Are you going to conquer that wall, or let that wall conquer you?

Race for the cure

One of my favorite events in Columbus Ohio is the Race for the Cure. Although I had a bout of runners trots on Saturday, this year's event did not disappoint. I lost minutes to the bathroom again, but still had respectable results! Then I had to find my mom...

My mom walked the 5k and there are literally a sea of people from start to finish so I was somewhat concerned I wouldn't find her, but low and behold there she was crossing Nationwide Boulevard with a big smile on her face. I accompanied my mom for her last half mile with the motorcycle lined street. Bands, motorcycles revving, people cheering for you, announcers welcoming you to the finish line... I'm telling you, you will never experience anything like the Columbus Race for the Cure!!! YIPPEEE!!! What a good time.

Thanks mom for joining the fun!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why It Pays to be Slow!!!

I have to admit that taking the time to work on yourself is one of the hardest things you may ever do but the pay off is most rewarding in the end. When I began this journey a couple of years ago I was not necessarily in the best place/space but I embraced the journey and here I am two years later; two half marathons, a few 10ks, more 5ks than I can count, a metric century ride, many 30 mile rides, a few triathlons all under my belt. The physical health payoff may not be as great as I was hoping for but my emotional/mental health has realized the greatest improvements. Interesting that it wasn't even what I was looking for at the time but it is what I achieved.

So people often get frustrated about their speed when running but I have to tell you there are enormous benefits. I finished my race a minute behind the 2:50 pacers according to the clock/pictures but the 'official' time stated I finished at 2:55. What is not to be proud of??? First of all I always take the time along the  route to thank the police officers who are keeping me safe at the intersections, cheer on the guy who looks miserable, and even slow down to help people along the way. Some people ask why I take away from my own time to do those things but all I have to say is it is totally worth it. My running friends from Bowling Green sacrificed their times the first few events they participated in with me so they could run with me for the first mile or so; it reminded me that the running community is the most supportive and encouraging. They only want you to have the same feeling of success no matter how you achieve that success.

So on to the point of my blog. Yesterday I lost a good five minutes to the port-o-potties along the race course. I will not provide you any more details regarding my lost time but it was somewhat disappointing... So what did I do rather than focus on the disappointment? I found all of the positive aspects of being a slower participant in the half marathon. Read on to see what I learned:

Bathroom Lines

If you have ever run in a massive event (12,000 plus participants) you know that port-o-potty lines can be overwhelming at times. Well if you are a slower participant you benefit if you have to use the bathroom along the way. By the time you need to use the bathroom (if you have to use the bathroom at all) the lines are non-existent. I never had to wait yesterday for a bathroom. Yes this is a benefit, just don't ask me the state of the bathrooms because I would say that the bathrooms are less than user friendly when you are in the back of the pack, if you get my drift.

Great pictures

Often times these big races have photographers that document the event who then make big bucks by overcharging those of us who want to commemorate our races with a photo. Well when you are in the back of the pack you often cross the finish line alone or with very few other racers. This means you always have great and abundant photos in the end. This year I was lucky enough to get a shot from the local running store's Facebook page. The staff told me they tok the picture because they liked my shirt, but I know the truth... They just thought I was awesome!!!

People cheer for you

I don't know if spectators feel bad for slow people or are truly encouraged by their persistence but what I can say is spectators really take it upon themselves to make you feel good. I love the folks who are hanging along the sidelines screaming your name (because it is printed on your bib) as you pass by at a tortoise pace. It makes you feel like you have hundreds of new friends along the way, I personally just wish I knew their names.

Easier to improve

Because I am slow I always know I can improve my time next time around. Next year I am shooting for 2:45 and it shouldn't be that hard to achieve that goal.

So if you want to start running but are worried about what other runners are thinking I can tell you they are impressed and wish you success. Come join the races!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Smile Goes a Long Way!

I have heard many sociology students doing an assignment for class in which they are to smile randomly at strangers to see how the stranger reacts. Has anyone done a study to see how that same activity impacts the person who actually does the smiling all day??? Well I have, read on...

For some reason I have been in a bit of a running funk lately. It is not because I don't enjoy it, but rather because my body is not doing what I want it to do. Part of it could be the foot problem I am having, or it could be a simple mental block but I do know that it has been more and more difficult to get my miles in as comfortably as before.

I have probably talked about this before but one of the most satisfying feelings during a race is encouraging other participants in passing by smiling or cheering on their effort. My running buddy and I ran a 10 miler a few weeks ago, and man has she gotten fast! She said to me at the end of the race that when she started feeling like she was hitting a wall, she would simply smile and it would improve her outlook. It again reminded me that I can not get down when the running gets tough but instead push through it with a smile.

I was having a particularly difficult run on Saturday. It was my last long run before the half marathon on Saturday and every time I started to feel slightly miserable I would put that big Sarah smile across my face and say to myself 'you can do this' and push on. So here is another poem for the week:

A Smile Goes a Long Way

When in life you're feeling down
Put on a big smile, not a frown

Start out small when your driving your car
Smile on that drive so it doesn't seem so far

When your running and your feet are sore
Put on that smile before you close the running door

Mind blocking motivation making you sad?
Put on a big smile and it won't feel so bad

Fall off your bike and scrape your leg
Smile at yourself rather than drink from a keg

So in conclusion don't ever give up
Smile a bit and pet your pup

Always remember a smile goes a long way
Try it out on a very bad day

Also if you are ever looking for a video to improve your mood, this DMB video always makes me happy: