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heartland road runners club

The Heartland Roadrunners at Bridge the Gap 2013

You know, I owe my readers a race report for the Bridge the Gap Half Marathon that I ran with my training partner Doug this spring, and I’ve been thinking a little about it.  My summary of the race would go:

jjk

Jackie Joyner Kersee and I after Bridge the Gap 2013

– Jackie Joyner Kersee (who gave out the medals) was AWESOME.  If there’s something better than getting a half marathon medal from an 8 time Olympic Gold Medalist, I can’t think of it.

– Crossing the bridges over the Mississippi in the beginning of the race is BEAUTIFUL.

– The support was pretty good, though they were out of water at the first 2 stops and I don’t drink Gatorade because the sweetness gives me a tummy ache during races (And that’s why I love Nuun…!)

… and that’s about it.  Oh, I would probably mention that it was the warmest day Doug and I had run so far for the year and that was a little tough on us.  Despite the heat, I cut 9 minutes off my time from the Allerton Trails Half Marathon a few weeks before.

Now readers, don’t get the wrong idea when I tell you my feedback about this race, because I don’t want you to think it was a negative experience!  The entire staff of Bridge the Gap does a terrific job of putting together a solid run and should be congratulated for raising a lot of money for MedAssist and for growing the sport of running in Quincy each and every year.  The beef I’ve got with BtG as compared to any of the other half marathons I’ve run in the past 2 years is:

Where were all of the spectators?!

I’m not going to lie, when we were hot and exhausted in the endless bottoms of mile 9, I could have really gone for a, “Your feet must hurt from kicking this much butt!” sign.  Or how about a poster reading, “Run Faster! Zombies Don’t Like Fast Food!”  Or my training partner’s favorite sign, “Worst. Parade. Ever.

occupy finish line

“Occupy Finish Line” at the Occupy Little Rock Protests.

You see, I love the crazy spectators.  It’s my favorite thing about a large race.  Without the spectators, it’s just another training run out a long and lonesome road.  I hit low spots. I want to give up.  I want to walk the next 4 miles or perhaps steal a car.  I need the energy of a crowd and the encouragement of an electric race environment to keep my mind off my sore knees and to keep me moving forward.

When I was in Little Rock, AR doing my first half marathon, a random person in mile 11 yelled, “Yeah Laura! Doing Great!” when they read my name off my bib.

the course is strong

My husband can draw Darth Vader. It is the only thing he draws.

When I was in Lexington, KY for Run the Bluegrass half marathon there were bands around every corner and crowds of people chanting, “Go, Stranger, Go!”

For the half marathon in Illinois, there was a spectator with a table full of Dixie cups with a sign that said, “Free Tiny Beer for You and Steve!” (I don’t know who Steve is, but I bet he enjoyed his mid-race tiny beer as much as I did.)

photo 1

Bike rides can use signs too! My friend Jen at the RAIL (Ride Across Illinois) ride

At the Allerton Trail Half Marathon (Decatur, IL) – even on a decidedly quieter trail course – there was a section late in the race where a line of 15 people were lined up giving a row of high-fives to the runners who went past.

I love you, crazy fans. I really, really do.

photo 2

My stick zombies could use some work, but rider Gary Clay still got a smile out of this one!

Here’s my suggestion for BtG 2013: We need to get more spectators and awesome signs on the half marathon course!  I’m not talking about fans at the start/finish (there were a good number of people in that area) but I’m talking about some hard core, awesome, “Pain is temporary, finishing is forever” sign holders sitting out on lonely mile 8.  If at all possible, I’d suggest that said sign holders also dress like 80’s hair bands or perhaps Batman.

Yes. That’s it.  I would like 15 people dressed as Batman at mile 8. 

whoop azz sign

Quincy Sketch Club Members Jamie Green and Charlie Martin helped me make signs for an Ultra Marathon in Vermont.

So next Spring when you’re asking a friend if they want to run Bridge the Gap with you and despite your pleading they turn you down, tell them they can still help with the race. As a matter of fact… don’t wait.  Tell them now.  Maybe they can pick up their Batman costumes at an after Halloween sale! Hook them up with a pack of those huge, smelly magic markers and a pile of neon poster board.  Get them a cowbell and a tambourine and tell them to go nuts.

This one goes out to you, Crazy Marathon Sign Holder Person.  Thank you for all that you do!

And if there comes a day that I’m not running in the race, I’ll still be down there.  Look for me at mile 11.  I’ll be holding the, “I Think Chaffed Nipples are HOT!” sign.  🙂

Also check out this Buzzfeed article of more fun signs!

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I’m not sure there are words to say about the bombing in Boston that haven’t been said, but I know the entire active community shares the feelings of sadness, rage and resilience that an event like this inspires. I suppose the best thing to do is… run.

Tomorrow morning, 4/17/2013, the Heartland Road Runners Club will be running at Starbucks at 5:30 am.  Most of us will do about 3 miles, but walkers and people who want to run over or under 3 miles are welcome.  We’ll all be remembering victims and honoring survivors of Boston by wearing the bib you see below.  I hope lots of you can join in for this tribute.

HRRWC will be running 4/16 at 5:30 am; for Boston.

HRRWC will be running 4/17 at 5:30 am; for Boston.

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Doug, Glenn and I show off our medals after Run the Bluegrass

Doug, Glenn and I show off our medals after Run the Bluegrass

When I signed up for the Run the Bluegrass half marathon in Lexington, Kentucky, I had many lofty expectations that probably seem silly.  I pictured rolling green pastures, enormous old estates, chickens in the yard, babbling streams, horses running the fields, and miles and miles of white fence framing it all in the perfect picture of the South.

As it turns out- I was spot on.

Pre-race Sponsor Pics! It's Nuun Hydration and VFuel! Love it! Click here to enter my contest to win both!

Pre-race Sponsor Pics! It’s Nuun Hydration and VFuel! Love it! Click here to enter my contest to win both!

I came to this race by way of another race selling out really fast. I had originally intended to run the Quivering Quads half marathon through Cuivre River State Park, but when it was full in a day, I did what any red-blooded American would do: whined about it on Facebook.  A high school friend who once lived in Lexington posted a link to what was billed as “One of the prettiest half marathons in America,” and I was sold.  I quickly talked my training partner Doug into the race, and not long after that- primarily by reminding him that Kentucky was the heart of bourbon country- I had convinced our friend Glenn from the running club to join us too.

Training for this race didn’t always go smoothly.  The first few months of this year, our hometown was blanketed by over a foot of snow not once, but three separate times. It seemed like our choices for times to run revolved around which was worse: freezing temperatures or freezing rain. But we slogged through long runs and hoped for spring to relieve the need to run bundled up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Night before the race drinks in the hotel lobby. My first ever bourbon. When in Kentucky...

Night before the race drinks in the hotel lobby. My first ever bourbon. When in Kentucky…

Due to a death in the family and an unexpected trip to Chicago, I arrived in Lexington late Friday night, after 10 hours in my car, having missed the expo.  My friends Doug and Glenn were already there, and I was barely in the door before Glenn had his expo prize out to show me: a bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon that was specially-selected for this race which he had gotten signed by Runner’s World’s Hal Higdon.  The guys had also each purchased an etched Run the Bluegrass rocks glass, and Doug had kindly picked one up for me too.  Happy to finally be out of my car, we all went to the lobby to have a nightcap and then were off to bed at a pretty decent hour.

We woke up at 6 am for the 9 am race.   We stayed at the race hotel, the Hyatt Downtown, so we were pretty close to the race start.  We grabbed breakfast at the hotel lobby. I had hot cereal and some fruit, which is evidently my pre-race ritual now.  Then we were off to the race.

Beautiful drive to the race.

Beautiful drive to the race.

The drive there is worth mentioning actually.  There was a low fog hanging over the low spots of the farms along the way, and temperatures just around freezing had frozen the fog in spots and added a gorgeous sparkle to the landscape. The sun was working hard to burn the fog away and the scene was another perfect picture of the South.

We arrived at Keenland Thoroughbred Race Track over an hour before the race.  Walking up to the spired main building I could see the finish line off to my right.  Perhaps the little detail of pre-race that made me the happiest is that the racetrack had plenty of inside bathrooms.  There is nothing in this world better than knowing you don’t have to go to the port-a-potty before a race.  I popped a lemon-lime Nuun Hydration tablet in my water bottle (what, you didn’t think I was going to mention my sponsor!?  CLICK HERE to see my brand new Ambassador Page!!) and then it was time to go.

I'm betting on the right horse to win!  These ladies did the whole race in costume. Awesome.

I’m betting on the right horse to win! These ladies did the whole race in costume. Awesome.

We made our way down to race start about quarter to nine, and maybe it’s just the speed of the South, but no one seemed in much hurry to get to the start.  We found our spot in our corral among the other 4000+ runners and chatted with the people around us.  Mainly, I talked to a guy named Andy, who was funny and kind and kept my mind off of the 13.1 hilly miles in front of us.  The race started just a little late and by the time we hit the start line, the temperature outside was absolutely perfect.

Go ahead. Count the hills. But it will only make you cry. (chart from Taz Running.com)

Go ahead. Count the hills. But it will only make you cry. (chart from Taz Running.com)

Now, dear readers, I’ve been thinking for 5 days what to tell you about the race.  You see, I don’t want to scare you off because you should definitely do this race.  I’m not going to lie to you though, it’s hilly.  Real hilly.  And if I do this race again next year, I shall never, ever skip one of Brian Pahlmann’s hill repeat training sessions down at the river. Ever.

I noticed the first long hill we climbed had a name: Songbird Hill.  It was a good name, since I could hear some meadowlarks off in the field. The next hill was also graced with a sign at the top dubbing it Rose Hill.  And at the top of the next hill there was another sign and another name and I remembered what someone in the bike club once told me, “It’s only a real hill if it’s got a name.”  Well looking from the crest of the hill we were on across the rolling landscape in front of us, I thought, “Gosh, there are going to be a lot of names.”

Kim and Laura and myself at around mile 8...we stopped for a picture!!

Kim and Laura and myself at around mile 8…we stopped for a picture!!

In spite of the fact that we were woefully underprepared for a course like this, both Doug and I were surprised to see the first several miles melting away.  The course was very well-marked and large flags called out each mile.  Intermittently along the course there were bands playing a wide variety of music (Seriously: there was some screamo at one corner and a bluegrass band at the next.  WIDE variety…) but mostly the course was a quiet country road with little to hear aside from footfalls.

Another post race pic!

Another post race pic!

Near the bluegrass band was one of those scenes I’d clearly imagined before the race- a yard full of chickens and one proud Tom turkey out strutting his stuff, wearing his feathers tall like royal regalia.  Not far up the road was the first close-to-the-fence horse, a big black and white draft horse who stood by the fence waiting for the next runner who would come over and give him a scratch on the cheek.  He was very sweet and made me smile.  That sort of thing really helps me get my mind off the primary problem: the hills.  My god, the hills.

We were struggling mightily up one hill that Doug named, “The Widow Maker,” when (now don’t miss the irony here) a little old man came by us and said, “You know what a little old man once told me about hills?  It’s just ground!”

Somewhere just past the halfway point, I called out, “Well there’s no turning back now; it’s further to turn around!” which drew a laugh from a couple of girls in the vicinity.  The girls were named Kim and Laura and we ran with them on and off for the rest of the race.  Kim is also a blogger and writes one called This Healthy Endeavor.  It’s got recipes and race reports and more. You should go check it out. Half way is also the point I chose to eat a second V-Fuel Endurance Gel. The VFuel really helped me get through this tough race and didn’t give me any tummy problems at all.  That’s why I love it.  (Click here to see my contest to win Nuun and VFuel!!!!!)

My race goodies! Yeah, I splurged for the bottle of bourbon.

My race goodies! Yeah, I splurged for the bottle of bourbon.

Probably the most beautiful moment of the race for me was at mile 8.  We crested *another* hill and at the top there were 3 sets of mares and foals running wide arcs around their fenced pasture.   It was breathtaking to watch, and even though I was getting pretty exhausted, their enthusiasm for running returned the spring to my step and the smile to my face.

I’m not going to get too much into the end of the race… it was hilly, I was undertrained, and I did a lot of walking.   That’s okay though. Doug stuck right by my side and we did the thing together.  Then, just past a little marching band stationed at the last corner (WIDE variety of music…) the finish line came into sight.  We ran out the last “point-one” as quick as we could and were presented with what is probably my favorite half-marathon medal to date.

Sorry this blog got so long folks! Thanks for sticking with me! Run the Bluegrass was a terrific race.  I posted a personal worst time- but I also feel like I worked really hard for it and was super proud anyway.  I couldn’t have done it without my training partner Doug, who helped me through the long, bleak winter training and shared in the fun in Lexington.  Glenn finished in front of us, but he was great to have around and was fun the entire trip.

Doug, Glenn, Race Director Eric and I after the race (and after a Kentucky Ale!)

Doug, Glenn, Race Director Eric and I after the race (and after a Kentucky Ale!)

Special thanks go to the race director Eric Marr and his team for making every part of the race beautiful.  From the specially chosen barrels of Knob Creek Bourbon, to the ribbons based on the silks of the famous thoroughbred filly Genuine Risk, this was a race with an eye for the details that make an experience special.

Also, a big shout-out to Andy, Kim, Laura, Amanda Jones and her friends, and Lisa- new friends from the race.  I absolutely loved the size of this race. It made it easy to meet people, share a Kentucky Ale, and lament the hills like we’d been running together forever.  Lisa if you’re reading this: I’ll see you this weekend in Allerton. I can’t believe we were both silly enough to sign up for the same two half marathons on back-to-back weekends.

Doug at the Town Branch distillery tour.

Doug at the Town Branch distillery tour.

If you make it down for this race next year (and you totally should) make sure you take a little time to explore Lexington. It’s an awesome town with lots to do.  We toured the Town Branch Bourbon Distillery after the race and also got a taste of downtown at a really great creole joint called Bourbon and Toulouse for dinner.  Then we treated ourselves to pie by the famous Missy’s Pies at Ramsey’s Restaurant for desert.  I had coconut cream.  Wow.

Just remember: If you sign up for this race next year… don’t skimp on the hill training.  🙂

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This is what spring looks like to me!

This is what spring looks like to me!

Hey there, Adventurers!

Can you feel it?  Spring is in the air and it’s time to ramp up the activity level!   I’m just so excited I can’t hardly take it!

Personally, I’m gearing up for TWO half marathons in the next 3 weeks.   I’m going to Run The Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky on Easter weekend and then the Allerton Trails Half Marathon on April 6th in Monticello, IL (near Decatur, IL).  If you’re looking for some last minute running plans, you can still get in on either of these events.  The Allerton event is especially nice because, even at this late date, sign up is only $40 for the half marathon or $30 for the 10K.

CLICK ME!! :)

CLICK ME!! 🙂

How am I going to get through 2 half marathons on back-to-back weekends, you ask?  With help from my Adventure Foot Sponsors, of course!  You have probably heard the news by now that I’m an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, but I’m also adding a second sponsor to the blog roll this week!  I’m pleased to bring you the very best energy gel on the market:  V-Fuel Endurance Gel!

CLICK ME, TOO! :)

CLICK ME, TOO! 🙂

V-Fuel is a Colorado based company, and they’re flipping the script on regular old Gu and have created a true endurance fuel that tastes good and keeps my tummy feeling good too (regular users of Gu will catch my meaning).  I’m going to write a full product review on both Nuun and V-Fuel in the near future- so stay tuned.  Even better: I’m planning a CONTEST for April where you could win product or gear from my sponsors! Woo hoo!

Heartland Road Runners Club is in full swing right now, but there’s still plenty of time to start running for Spring.   Come check out “Road Runners After Dark” if you want a taste of how lovely running with the club can be.  RRAD meets at a restaurant every Tuesday night for a fun, social run.  No runner left behind, we promise!  For the month of March, we will be meeting at Kelly’s Restaurant in Quincy.  Running starts promptly at 6:15.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee  handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

And as long as you’re running, you should plan on signing up for Quincy’s biggest running event, Bridge the Gap to Health Race!  This race, now in its 13th year, supports the MedAssist program.  MedAssist helps low income patients afford prescription medications.  The race will once again be marshaled by Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  If you’ve never been handed a medal by an Olympian, now is your chance!  There are a ton of options for this race including a walking or running half marathon, walking or running 10K and a running 5K.  There will also be a 5K Leisure Walk which starts an hour after the other races start.

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

And, saving perhaps the best for last: It’s BIKE SEASON!  I’m so darned excited about starting to really rack up the miles on my bike, I can’t even contain myself.  If you’re new to cycling, I suggest you try out the Quincy Bike Club’s Thursday night group.  This group will start meeting on April 4th.  The park which it meets at is TBD- I’ll keep you posted.   Once again this year I’ll be leading “Wednesday Night B Group.”  B-Group for 2013 will B a medium to medium/fast paced ride and I’m going to work in some training exercises  for all of us.  Maybe one week we’ll work out on some hill repeats. Maybe one week  we’ll do some flat sprints.  I don’t know. We’re going to be better cyclists for our work on Wednesday B Group!   Wednesday A and B group (A Group= really fast and experienced riders) will both leave from Madison Park Shelter House at 6 pm.  The first B group will meet April 3.  I will bring Easter candy as a bribe.

OH! And don’t forget to attend the Grand Opening celebration at Madison Davis Bicycles.  It’s April 11th at 6 pm.  The new shop is absolutely gorgeous and Greg is planning some great sales to kick it off.  You won’t want to miss it.

And Adventure Foot Readers- don’t miss this great spring sale from my blog sponsor, Nuun Hydration! $18 for a 4 pack of Nuun plus a water bottle (most of the 4 packs are normally $24 without a water bottle, so yeah. Stock up now.). It’s a great deal!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

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Hey, Adventure Foot Readers! I’m happy to be sharing another race report from my running partner and frequent guest blogger for Adventure Foot, Doug Burdic! Doug and I were supposed to run the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa, OK together in November, but thanks to me catching a near-pneumonia-level respiratory infection, Doug had to fly solo for Tulsa.  I’m very proud of him taking on this tough course, for setting a new Personal Record and improving his time from our Illinois Half Marathon.  Doug and I are already looking at the calendar to plan our next half marathon together.  I promise I’ll drink my orange juice and try not to get sick before the next one.    

Oklahoma

Where the (Head)wind Comes Sweepin Down the Plains…

by Doug Burdic

IT’S LABOR DAY – Got a race to run sometime.  When’s November?  That soon, huh?  Best get cracking then.

FRIDAY BEFORE THE RACE AT THE OFFICE – Nervous wreck.

SATURDAY – Awoke at 5:30, jumped in the car and headed for the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa.  Nice day for a drive.  Having never been through southwestern Missouri, I was surprised at the hills and valleys that the Ice Age glaciers were kind enough to provide, and noticed that Jefferson City is the most physically demanding city I’ve ever been through.  I actually had my hands at 10 and 2 for a minute.

Oklahoma looks exactly as you would expect Oklahoma to look:  just like any scene in Twister.  Lots of billboards for casinos.  And oddly, lots of signs begging me not to drive into smoke, which seems like a good idea no matter what state you’re in.

Having successfully not driven into smoke, I came in to Tulsa, the whole of which was under heavy construction.  Having blown my turn for the hotel (thanks for ripping the exit signs down, Tulsa 😦 ), I audibled to the packet pickup and the pretentiously named Health, Fitness and Sustainability Expo in the city’s Convention Center.

Big room.  Quite a few vendors, though I didn’t see any booths for any other marathons as I had elsewhere.  By the time I’d gotten there, most of the places were picked pretty clean and the crowd was thin.  Pickup was a breeze.

Doug snapped this picture with his super-cool half marathon finisher's medal right before he drove home!

Doug snapped this picture with his super-cool half marathon finisher’s medal right before he drove home!

Then to the hotel, conveniently located miles from anywhere, abutting the Tulsa International Airport.  The room was very nice and the place was quiet, save the odd plane taking off.  I grabbed some pasta for dinner at the hotel restaurant and retired early, hoping to sleep.

SUNDAY – I had set the alarm for 5:30 but woke up at 3:30.  Thought some fast thoughts, fired down some breakfast and headed back into the city to find a place to park and the starting line.

The weather was pitch-perfect.  About 45 degrees at the start, and mostly cloudy.  I waited 20 minutes in line for a bathroom, then herded myself into the proper corral to get ready for the start.

The race began pretty smoothly.  I felt strong.  Adrenaline had taken hold, as usual.  The first half-mile or so was downhill, and the next six were NOT.  Nevertheless, I’d kept up a pretty good pace, but that would come with consequences as I’d worn myself down too much.  Around the sixth mile, I was torn asunder.  My quads were actually on fire.  But I needed to continue, and apparently I needed to learn a valuable lesson about pacing oneself.  So onward I went.

One of Doug and my favorite runs from 2012- The Frozen Buns Run in St. Louis, MO

One of Doug and my favorite runs from 2012- The Frozen Buns Run in St. Louis, MO

A few words about the course:  very nice, really.  Ran through some nice neighborhoods with families in their front yards cheering us on.  Best sign:  “Go Random Stranger!”  Water and Gatorade stops were plentiful.  As I noted earlier, the course was uphill to start, but came back down quickly and finished flat, on the banks of the Arkansas River.  The only problem I had with that was the length of the finishing leg.  You know when you run on Bonansinga Drive in Quincy, and you run and run and run and never seem to get any closer to the end?  That was a problem here, as I’d no idea if my legs would continue to function properly.  However, the city had made a nice scenic park and the whole thing was pretty neat.  Nature.

I stumbled across the finish line in 2 hours, 45 minutes and change.  A personal best, with a caveat:  I’ve only done one other half marathon.  They had plenty for us to eat and drink, which was sorely needed.  All the volunteers were helpful, everything was great.  The whole race was a really positive experience, and I felt like I’d accomplished something.

Then I walked a block to the car, changed my socks and shoes and drove 450 miles straight home.  Which was stupid.

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2011 Veteran’s Day Run

 

The weather is cool, the leaves are turning and it’s a great time to run in the Tri-States.   Whether you’re embarking on your first 5K or your 50th, there are so many oportunities to try an event, that you just can’t miss!

November 3rd:  Tri-State Warrior Dash 5K, 10K or 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk

This event has been renamed from the national Veteran’s Day run from last year, but comes to you from the same great crew that put together a fun race last year. I ran in the 11K last year (This year it’s a 10K.  11 was for 2011) and it was actually one of my very best runs.  Read about last year’s event here and sign up for it here! Proceeds benefit area veterans.

November 10th: Beat Beethoven 5K

Says the website, “At 8:00 am Beethoven’s 5th Symphony will begin… can you finish the 5K before it ends?”  The symphony is in the neighborhood of 30 minutes, so you’ll have to hurry!  Register here.  Proceeds benefit Symphony of Trees…which benefits local music programs.

November 22nd: Quincy YMCA Turkey Run

It’s a Quincy Classic! The 33rd Annual Thanksgiving Day Run/Walk includes 5K and 10K runs or 1 mile and 5K Non-competitive Leisure walk options. There’s also a family rate for up to 4 runners.  Proceeds benefit the YMCA.  Read about my 2011 Turkey Run here and sign up for the race here.

December 1st:  Ring a Bell Run, 5K run or walk

The Jingle Bell run for the Arthritis Foundation is not making a return to Quincy this year, but the Kroc Center is filling the gap.  The new Ring a Bell Run Proceeds supports The Salvation Army annual Christmas Campaign, which provides Christmas food baskets, toys for children, and the community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. These funds also support year round services such as food pantry, rent and utility assistance and emergency shelter for those in crisis in our community.  Sign up for the run by clicking here!

 

 

 

 

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The Heartland Road Runners sporting bright, visible club shirts!

Safety is top of mind for me this week.  I’ve been asked back on the KHQA Morning Show to discuss safety for runners, as you could probably guess, much of my advice is common sense stuff!  With more people getting involved in running, cycling and outdoor sports, it’s a great time for us all to review a couple of simple safety tips that could save our lives.

Be Seen!

The #1 safety tip for anyone who is headed out on the roads is simply to make yourself as visible as possible!  Even in daylight, wear bright colors.  If you’re running at night, invest in a cap light and a blinker. If you’re an early morning or a nighttime runner, I highly recommend a reflective safety vest.  It’s simple advice, but can make the difference between being seen or being hit by a car.  Bonus: it’s a great way to bring back your late ‘80s neon clothes collection!

Listen Up!

Listen to traffic and Traffic at the same time. haha!

I used to run with earbuds all the time… but I’ve changed my tune since I almost got backed over by a neighbor leaving his driveway.  It’s important in running and cycling that we use all of our senses including our hearing to detect possible hazards; but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite playlist.  Switch to listening to your iPod from its built-in speakers and you’ll be able to rock your favorite tunes and still hear traffic around you.  On my bike, I’ve moved to using a mini-speaker that weighs less than 2 oz. but packs a great volume punch.  If neither of these are your cup-of-tea, check out this great link that running guru Brian Pahlman shared with me for a new type of headphones designed to let you listen to traffic and to Traffic at the same time…

Bring the Right Equipment!

If you’re going out for a run, wear the right equipment.  Road shoes are for roads, trail shoes are for trails, soccer shoes are for soccer (or Ultimate Frisbee!) and track shoes are for tracks.  Shoes are specialized to give you the best traction for conditions and they can make a huge difference in your susceptibility to injury.  Other equipment might include a handheld water bottle or water bottles on a waist belt and any food you might want for a long run.  Also: check the weather! Need a rain jacket? Are the temps going to get extra high or extra low while you’re out?  Dress for it.

Identify Yourself!

Sport ID from Road ID

So, worst case scenario, you get hit by a car or pass out while running.  If you don’t have any identification on you, first responders are going to have to do a lot of guessing.  The number one product on the market for athletes and identification right now is the Road ID.  I just bought one as a birthday gift for a friend, and I feel like it’s one of the best investments you can make in safety.  (One of my readers pointed out that whenever you purchase a Road ID a portion of the cost goes to a charity you choose yourself such as Wounded Warrior Project, Lance Armstrong Foundation and more! Super product from a company with a conscious? Yes, please!)  Road IDs come in many styles including bracelet, ankle bracelet, necklace, shoe clip, or shoe pouch. Then the ID is engraved with your name, vital information and emergency contacts.  My favorite feature, however, has to be the interactive online medical data storage.  If you have ANY important medical info like allergies, history of medical conditions, special instructions… this feature is for you.  The Interactive Road ID products have a phone number and website and a unique number for first responders to use.  In case of emergency, the responder would call the number or visit the website, enter your ID code and get all of the information he or she needs to give you the best treatment possible.  My personal bracelet is linked to my basic information, insurance information, has several emergency contacts including my husband and my dad, and lists my status as an organ donor.   You may have other important information to share.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going!

This is very important for all distance athletes who go run/bike/swim/paddle by themselves.  Leave a note or tell someone how far you’re running and how long it should take you.  If you’re heading out for a 5 mile run and you’re not back in an hour and a half, someone should know to come and look for you.  We don’t like to think about unsavory people that could hurt us or medical/mechanical problems that could lay us out, but say any of that happens- how long would it be until someone started to wonder where you are?  Just having someone know when to expect you and to understand generally where you were headed when you disappeared can make all the difference in any kind of search-and-rescue.  Minutes matter.  Just this week, I read an especially scary story of a female runner who was attacked in broad daylight on the Katy Trail in Missouri- which reinforces the fact that no matter what time of day and what precautions we take, we can be susceptible to violence when we’re out in the world.

Drink More Water and Other Good Advice!

It’s hot. We know that much for sure.  What’s an outdoor enthusiast to do when the temperatures reach the triple digits but the fun of outdoor activities still calls your name?

Drink more water: Okay, that’s a no brainer.  You should obviously increase fluid intake any time you’re participating in athletic activities, but the Centers for Disease Control website points out that it’s going to take more water than you think. During heavy exercise in extreme heat, the CDC recommends two to four 16-ounce glasses of water at a minimum per hour.  Make sure you’re planning ahead and bringing that much water along.

Replace salt, potassium and other minerals: If you’re sweating heavily, you’re losing salt and other minerals. Salt works in your body to maintain the balance of water inside and outside your cell walls. Most of us have high enough sodium intakes in our diets to avoid hypoatremia — a condition where water swells and damages cells due to imbalance caused by lack of sodium — but this is a real concern for high caliber athletes like ultra-marathoners and distance cyclists. For the rest of us, the most likely consequence of not replacing salt and minerals is muscle cramping. It’s an easy fix though; replace some of your water with an electrolyte sports drink and munch some potassium rich foods like bananas and oranges before you work out.  Interesting fact: everyone loses salt at a different rate, which is generally between 300 and 1,100 milligrams per pound of sweat.

Sunscreen: Apply often; apply liberally. Don’t forget that your lips and scalp can burn, too, and take proper precautions.

Know what heat exhaustion and heat stroke symptoms are: Warning signs of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and/or fainting. I happened to have the unfortunate experience of moderate heat exhaustion on a bike ride last summer. I first noticed a headache brewing at about mile 12 of my ride. Just a few miles after that, I knew something was wrong and some of the other riders (thank you Jim and Greg) pointed out that I looked pale and needed to stop. Immediately, I realized that I had been unprepared for the heat and was experiencing the onset of heat exhaustion. I immediately got into the shade, cooled off as much as possible, drank a whole bottle of Powerade, and then headed back with Greg and Brian to where I could have myself and my bike picked up. The guys were super nice, and we took it slow and stopped several times while getting back to the car. I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed to cut my ride short, and it was hard to admit that I needed to turn back. I’m very glad I did though, because I was quite nauseated by the time I reached my car and further symptoms of heat exhaustion would not have beem far behind.

The moral of the story is: Swallow your pride and know when you need to slow down or stop. There’s no harm in calling it quits in extreme heat, and there can be lots of harm if you keep going. If you’re out in the heat, and especially if you’re experiencing symptoms like I had, just stop. Have a buddy or two bring you back in case you need help. If you’re out by yourself, make sure someone knows where you are, when to expect you back, and what to do if you don’t get home. Do bring your cell phone for emergencies, but don’t make that your only plan. We all know that cell phones can break or not find a signal at the most inopportune times, so they shouldn’t be your only means of letting someone know where you are.

Heat stroke symptoms are much more serious and include  extremely high body temperature (above 103 orally), red/hot/dry skin (no sweating), rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, headache and/or unconsciousness. Read the CDC site for complete recommendations on what to do, but if someone has these symptoms you must call for medical assistance immediately.  First-aid includes cooling the victim as fast as possible using shade, water on the body, a cool shower, a wet sheet — whatever you’ve got. Heat stroke is life-threatening and should be treated as such.

Be careful and be ready for the heat the rest of this week and the rest of this summer. Take lots of breaks and get cool when you need to.  As long as you’re vigilant, you’ll get home in one piece when you “Get Out” this summer.

It goes without saying that you should read the CDC’s extreme heat recommendations for further information. “Get Out” blog is not a medical source, so read it from the experts here:www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp

For really interesting info on salt and extreme running, check out:www.runtheplanet.com/trainingracing/nutrition/salt.asp

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