Posts Tagged ‘training’

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.



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!



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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Pre-Climb at registration!

Pre-Climb at registration!

This past weekend my husband, Justin, my friends Jeremy and Adam, and I all participated in the Fight for Air Climb to benefit the American Lung Association.  I’d like to start this race recap with a great big THANK YOU to the friends and family that made donations to our team.  With your help, we raised over $600 to help the mission of the American Lung Association.  The ALA supports anything and everything lung related- including research, smoking prevention and cessation programs and screening programs for cancer, asthma, and rare lung diseases.

I decided to form a team for this event back in October after a good friend suffered a spontaneous lung collapse. Then my dad was diagnosed with primary lung cancer.  What can I say?  It was a bad month for lungs.  As members joined my team, we added some “reasons to climb” for friends and family with conditions including asthma, sarcoidosis and a recent lung transplant recipient.  The one thing we know is this: no one should have to fight to breathe!

ALA Fight for Air Climb events are held at prominent skyscrapers and stadiums throughout the country. Participants basically just climb the stairs as fast as they can- kind of like a vertical road race!  There are different categories at each race including a first responder division where firefighters and other first responders run the stairs in 70 lbs of full gear, and a category called “The Ultimate Climb,” where climbers complete the course as many times as they can within a set time limit.

The Hilton in Springfield, IL

The Hilton in Springfield, IL

We signed up for the regular single climb in the Springfield, IL event.  So, on a cold Saturday morning, we made our way over to the tallest building in Springfield: the 34 story Hilton hotel.  The Hilton sticks out like a sore thumb in downtown.  There’s just no other building around it even half so tall.  It really adds to the intimidation factor to see this one tower dominate the skyline.

We arrived about 45 minutes before our scheduled climb time and went straight to registration.  I get the feeling that locals took advantage of the early registration the night before, because it took no time at all to get in, get our numbers and our tech shirts, and get ready to climb.  And it was good that registration was so fast, because the event was running ahead of schedule and our wave was already being called.

The volunteers directed us toward the basement where we got chip timers for our shoes and where we saw the beginning of the climb.  Yep.  It was just a regular old stairwell.  The team before us exchanged high-fives and took off up the stairs.  We didn’t know really what to do, so we all kind of stretched our calves out for a minute and then walked up to the door.  A very nice volunteer checked off our numbers and then we were off!

The stairwell is pretty narrow, so our team took off more or less single file.  I could hear Adam hootin’ and hollerin’ as we began… and so could everyone else in the stairwell!  You have to love his enthusiasm echoing through the halls!

Personally, I didn’t have any expectations for how long climbing this building would take me.  I just kind of took off as fast as I could go without tripping over my own feet and started knocking out floors.  I didn’t do much stair training for this event since I’m in the middle of my half marathon training plans, but I figured the cardio should transfer… right?

Top of the Hilton with our medals!

Top of the Hilton with our medals!

Wrong! Well, maybe the cardio transferred some, but it was still harder than I expected.  I think it was around the 6th floor where I first felt winded.  It was a surprise to be that out of breath!  There wasn’t anything else to do but keep going though, so that’s what I did, albeit a little more slowly.

Some other women from the team before me were also finding this climb a little harder than expected and were taking a break on a landing.  I high-fived them and yelled out something encouraging as I passed.  Through the climb I passed several other groups- getting around them was not always easy in the little stairwell- but everyone seemed like they were having a good time.

I looked up somewhere around floor 20 and was really proud of myself.  This was going pretty fast, even if I was winded!

My Fight for Air Climb Medal

My Fight for Air Climb Medal

There were volunteers standing at some of the doorways along the way up handing out water or yelling encouragement, and the man at the 28th floor yelled out that I was almost there!  I scurried up the last couple of steps and then it was over.  My time for the climb was 7:30.

The rest of my team were already there waiting for me at the top.  My husband put up our team’s best time: a scorching 4:35.  Adam ended in 5:00 flat, and Jeremy came in at 5:20.  It was kind of strange to be done with an event so quickly.  We didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves… so we snapped a few pictures and headed to one of the best restaurants in Springfield, D’arcy’s Pint, for a victory beer.

The event was a fun time for a good cause. It was also incredibly well-run and well-staffed with helpful volunteers   We all decided if we did this again next year, we’d try the Ultimate Climb.  Our friend Brian Pahlmann participated in this grueling event last year and logged 11 climbs in an hour.  Amazing! I also think it would be fun to try the same event in Chicago at the Sears Tower.  It’s, ya know, just a little more iconic than the Springfield Hilton.

If we do that though, we’re going to need to really train.  Stair climbing is some serious exercise, and I can tell that I need to work on my VO2 Max if I’m going to dart up the 110 stories of the Sears Tower next year!

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Jason Asman, Melissa James, Laura Sievert and Michelle Bickhaus at the Thanksgiving Turkey Run

When I started on my training plan for the Little Rock Half Marathon I told my friend Jared that I would write little weekly updates to tell everyone how my training was going.  Well friends, I didn’t do it.  I meant to … but I was busy. Mostly I was busy running.  So instead of weekly updates, I’ll share my training with you a month out from my first half.

I guess when you sign on to run a distance race you expect that it’s going to be tough, but when it’s 4 months away, time to train seems unlimited. Life’s like that, isn’t it?  One day you’ve got 4 months to train, and the next you’re staring down a short calendar and wondering how it became February so fast.

I’ve learned a lot of really important things about running over the course of this training plan that I’d like to share.

The biggest surprise of training is how much short runs do for overall fitness.  My plan consists of three- 3 or 4 mile runs a week and one long run on the weekend.  I didn’t know that the gains you make in those little runs could translate into being able to keep going for 9 miles, but it turns out they really add up.

Good advice.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to take a day or two off and you can’t beat yourself up about it.  I’m starting to know the difference between pains that are just soreness and pains that need rest.  Several times during the past few months, I’ve needed to move a run around or go for a shorter distance when I just didn’t feel right.  I also had a lovely week vacation from running when I managed to get some kind of upper-respiratory-walking-pneumonia crap that was going around my office.  I was very upset about getting behind on my training while I was sick, but after I got back on my runs, I really hadn’t lost much ground.  The key is: Don’t Panic!

I’ve learned that it’s important to run with people who have been running a long time.  They’re a wealth of knowledge and sometimes can give you one little tip that makes all the difference.  For example, my friend Jared noticed that I was bending at my waist when I ran uphill.  Simply learning to stand up and to shorten my stride has improved my hill running immensely!   [An aside: he also told me to “love hills.” I haven’t reached “love” yet, but I am swearing at them less, and I think we’ll put that in the win column.]

I’ve learned some new vocabulary since I’ve been training.  “Tempo” in particular is becoming a bit of a dirty word…  I’ve tried tempo and speed work several times on my own, but my first really good tempo workout was actually just last night.  For those unfamiliar, tempo runs are designed so that you run an easy pace your first mile, then slightly faster each subsequent mile.  This is easier said than done!  I ran my tempo run with my friends Dave and Denise yesterday.  They’re both experienced runners and they selected a great 1 mile circuit for this run.  Quincy is conveniently laid out in a grid, and our route was neatly divided into quarter miles.  The reference points made judging speed much easier.  Dave had a stop watch and we made adjustments to achieve the speed we wanted for each lap.  During my solo attempts at tempo runs I was only checking time every mile, and that just wasn’t working.

I’ve learned recovery is something you have to plan for.  Long runs were kicking my butt in the beginning.  I’d run 7 miles one day and then feel like I couldn’t walk the next.  Well, the fact of the matter is you have got to have a plan for getting the kinks out.  My post-run routine now consists of some targeted stretching (particularly in my hip flexors), a foam roller for my calves, 20 oz. minimum of water and usually some juice or something too, and ice if I need it.  Also, a brisk walk can do wonders to alleviate overall soreness.  Oh! And bananas.  I eat lots of bananas!   Sometimes I even eat bananas on peanut butter sandwiches.  Mmmmmm …

4 feet are better than 2.

I’ve learned that I’m a runner who needs a partner as often as possible.  Even if we’re not talking, I really appreciate having someone else close.  Some runners love the alone time and enjoy clearing their heads on the road. I’m just not there yet.   When I’m alone, I spend a lot of time thinking of things like where I’m sore, why I’m still not very fast, if I can make the distance, or whether  8.3 miles is good enough if I’m aiming for 8.5.  When I’ve got a running partner, I actually can clear my mind better than if I’m alone.  We talk a little, and run a lot.  Having a partner is like a spoonful of sugar to help the miles just go down.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to tackle the road with a clear head, but for now, 4 feet are better than 2.

On any given day a run can feel wonderful, terrible, long, short, frustrating, or triumphant.  My half marathon isn’t very far away, and I think I’ll be alright.  I’m starting to believe I can do it.  What I’ve really learned is just to keep making a little headway each day. Continual forward progress.

Little Rock: T-minus 30 days and counting…

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I’m pleased to bring you a new guest blog from now-frequent- blogger Doug Burdic.  Doug, you see, joined me for a training run last week.  I was supposed to do 1o miles, so he was going to do part of it with me and then head home while I finished my long run.  Well, when we passed the turn off for his house at mile 3, he said he didn’t feel bad and he would do the next 3 mile loop with me.  Anything over 4 would be the longest run he’d ever done, so to have his company for 6 miles was pretty darn good.  Then, we passed the same turn off to his house after completing 6 miles… and for reasons that are still unclear, he continued on with me for the next lap.  I’m here to tell you that I hit the wall sometime in the 7.5 mile range, and having Doug’s company made all the difference to me completing my long run.  In all, we ran 9.38 miles+ 2 lengths of his long driveway. The whole experience, though, has left Doug with more questions than answers…


By Doug Burdic

Last Saturday I ran nine miles.  Didn’t start out to do that, but that’s just what happened.  I don’t know.  I don’t really want to talk about it other than to say I am not very sore, which is shocking in every way.

Monday, my coworker Tom asked me what I’d done over the weekend, so I told him I ran nine miles.

He looked at me with a mixture of curiosity and horror, arched an eyebrow, and asked “Why?”

Good question, Tom.  Good freaking question.  I don’t have an answer that doesn’t involve an expletive, but speaking of questions…

Do I run now?  Is that what’s happening?  Am I okay with that as a lifestyle choice?  Will I keep doing it?  Do I feel good about it but actually suck at it, and would anyone tell me if that were the case?  Why is everybody I’ve met while running so nice?  Where did you all come from?  Will my foot ever not hurt again?

I didn't take a picture of our training run...but here are Doug's shoes.

Do I train?  What’s training?  It wouldn’t involve frequenting fast-food joints, would it?  No?  How far am I supposed to run?  Do I try and run short races really fast, or do I try for more distance at the pace of a tranquilized snail?  Which way’s better?  What’s a realistic goal for a year from now?  How do I find out?  Is this stuff I’m supposed to know by now?  And where do I find tips and stuff for it?

Do I do other things, like cycling or, I don’t know, pole vaulting or something?  Or this cyclocross deal that sounds like something straight from Greek mythology?  Crosstraining, right?  Or do I just run?  And there again, which way’s better?  Does running get mundane so you find other activities?  Is it easier when the weather’s warmer, or does it at the very least suck less?  Why does every driver at an intersection I’m running through look at me as if I should be taking a long walk off a short pier?

Three months ago, would I have even thought about any of this?

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Tim 115 pounds lighter running the Bridge the Gap Half Marathon.

As I’ve been preparing myself for my first 5K at Bridge the Gap this Saturday, I’ve found myself in need of something to boost my motivation. Let me tell you — I found exactly what I needed.  I’m honored that Tim Cassidy has agreed to share his truly inspirational story with me, and with you, the readers of my blog.  Enjoy this guest blog by Tim Cassidy:


By Tim Cassidy:

Before starting my current career, I grew up working on a ranch and working for the U.S. Forest Service cutting down trees.  So, I was very physically active whether that was wrestling steers, stacking hay, cutting trees, stacking logs, or whatever it may be.  I graduated college and started a career where I sat at a desk.  I went from being able to eat whatever I wanted and keeping somewhat under control, to leading a more sedentary lifestyle.  I won’t kid you: I was never a small guy, but I was a lot more in shape.  So, after three years of sitting at a desk I quickly went to being over 300 lbs.  The company moved me twice so health wasn’t on the top of my list.  I was offered a third position move to Des Moines, IA I decided I had gotten to a point that something needed to be done.  I started hurting all over on joints, pain in my chest, and just plan out unhealthy.

In April 2008, I started to do something about it.  My starting weight was 312 pounds. I didn’t have much of a plan.  Luckily for me, I had a coworker that worked out every morning, so I tag along to get started.  It wasn’t pretty at the beginning; in fact it was plan out ugly and embarrassing.   My first time on a tread mill, I’d covered not even a quarter of a mile, and I was breathing so hard that I sounded like a grizzly bear stuck in a barbed wire fence.

I made dietary changes.  I stopped drinking all soda and stuck with coffee in the mornings and water the rest of the time, and, except for an occasional alcoholic beverage, that was it.  I quite eating all candy, deserts, snack food, and all other sweets.  I only went out to eat if it was a business function, holiday, or family event (this was probably the hardest part for me because Des Moines has Taco Johns and it is my favorite restaurant ever, and I hadn’t lived around one for 6 years).  I had a small breakfast in the morning, yogurt at 9 am, small lunch of protein/vegetables, an apple at 3pm, and a small dinner.  It took time to get my body used to not over-stuffing at each meal.  I got used to getting up a 4:30 a.m. for my workout, and eating healthy the first year.  I went from 312 pounds from April 2008 to 250 pounds by May 2009 when I ran my first Bridge the Gap to Health.  I ran the 5K with a goal to finish in under 30 minutes.  I finished in 30 minutes and 31 seconds.  My time was a little heart breaking, but motivating.

After finishing the race I decided I would run the half marathon the next year. I don’t really know what I was thinking at that moment, because that is over 13 miles.  My training became more intense.  I ran five days a week, four short runs and one long run.  I gradually worked the distances up as the year went on.  I ran into a few setbacks with an ankle roll, pulled muscle, and dieting issues.  I actually got to a point of exhaustion because I wasn’t taking enough calories for all exercising I was doing.  I learned a lot about taking in the right carbs, sugars, potassium, protein to be a runner, and that became an important part of training for my half marathon.

Three months prior to race I cut all liquids besides water out and stuck to a strict diet.  The day of the race I weighed in at 194 pounds.  That was a total loss of 118 pounds by race day.  My goal going into the race was to finish in 10 minute miles.  After working through the crowd at the beginning and battling my nerves, I finally settled into my pace at about mile three.  The temperature of 37 degrees was in my favor, because I did all of my training outside, even through the winter. From mile 3 to mile 10, it was normal running for me.  I covered the ground quick and easy and had no issues.  At mile 10 the pain started kicking it, starting with the ankle I rolled, pain with every step worsen as the time went on.  The last mile, my pulled muscle from early in the year starting tightening and it made it a struggle to focus.

All of that pain went away as I saw the finish line a half-mile away though.  Finishing the race wasn’t just a relief, it was also extremely emotional.  My 2-year goal of hard work and dedication came to an end and had paid off.  I finished the race ahead of my goal of 10 minute miles. My official time showed an average of 8 minute and 19 second miles.

Training for Bridge the Gap and losing the weight has made an amazing difference in life. I now have the energy to do whatever. It’s great being able to play with my nephews and nieces without breathing heavy.  I can work on the farm and keep up with everyone else.  I feel better all-around.  The confidence factor has come slower though.  A lot of people are amazed how I look, and comment on me looking so much better.  It has taken me almost a year later for me to see that same thing.  I watched myself as a big guy my whole life and it came off slowly over 2 years, so the change was gradual for me.

My advice to people who would like to be more active and get healthy is this: Anyone can do it, it takes time, dedication, hard work, and a mindset of success.

Original Post May 13, 2011

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