Monday, December 30, 2013

Tips and Advice for 24-hour Challenges

I have been researching 24-hour challenges all day and here are some of the tips and advice I have picked up along the way. Thought I'd share here for others to use. Have not yet decided which one but it's between two in the state of Virginia. These are NOT my ideas. I have scoured all over online to find these tips....I have created hot links to give proper credit to some of the ideas. 

* 5/1 ratio is recommended over a 25/5 ratio. Much easier in the end. 
* The total running that you do is not much longer than your longest continuous training run or race
For the race, use caffeine to stay awake at night, and don't use any for a month before the race, in order to increase its effect.
 Timex Ironman Triathlon watch which has an alarm feature that can be set to go off repeatedly at five and then one minute intervals
* For 24 hours it appears that the best runners to 10-20% more miles in the first half than the 2nd half.
*  I would say start out with a plan to run for 30 mins. then walk for 10 mins. After 12 hours or so (assuming the race starts sometime in the late morning or noon), maybe switch to a shorter turnover between walking and running, doing 15 mins. run and 5 mins. walk.
* If you can get good sleep the 2 nights before the race you will be way ahead
* Make sure you have sufficient clothing to stay warm at night when you are moving slow and your body temperature drops because you are supposed to be asleep
many of the (what i thought to be) soloists were going with 2 water bottles and a small under-saddle mounted pack
be sure to size up a 1/2 size in the shoes and have an extra pair on hand for the 2nd half maybe in a drop bag along the way or with your crew. 
Back to back weekend long runs are huge however. 20,25,30 on sat. Followed by another 20-25 on sun 
 Bring along first aid medication and tools and treat your blisters and chafing before they start becoming a problem
 A timer with alarms set according to your planned pacing is going to help a lot.
It can be helpful to break down the day into more digestible morsels and set your run/walk strategy accordingly. You can for example take it 30 minutes at a time and set a 25-minute run to 5-minute walk ratio
Shoes should fit right which normally means, at least half an inch of room in front of your longest toe!  So, when you get fitted for a shoe, there should be no contact anywhere between your forefoot and the sides and front of the shoe  and there should be at least half an inch of room in front of your longest toe of your “longer” foot!  For people with wider feet, you could need slightly more than half an inch of room!
 “make an hourly food plan with enough calories, water, and electrolytes to meet your needs,”
No matter how good or how bad you feel, it won’t last,’” says Rusch. “Knowing this keeps me in check when I feel great and helps me push when I feel terrible. You will feel both. And you won’t be the only one.”
Learn to eat a lot while moving.
Take care of small problems before they become big problems. Fix little hotspots and blisters before they progress. Stay ahead of dehydration.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What I got for Christmas- Running-related gifts

I am so lucky....I got so many gadgets for running from my family 

* Road ID bracelet
* Running sunglasses
* Orange running cap
* Warm women's running hat
* Running socks
* Warm gloves
* Running gloves
* Running bra
* Tights

                I decided against getting a GPS watch. It would be a gadget overkill to have a cell phone AND a GPS watch when the cell phone can do all of it already. Also, most affordable GPS watches only go for 5 hours, so for marathons or any ultras, they would be useless. So what's the point? Interestingly, I am growing out of my need for more and more gadget stage of running, which is wonderful. This year I can focus on running and nothing more. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Running Tips

                  I started out the winter just absolutely hating running the cold, hating the time change, hating the loss of light. I still hate the time change and the loss of light, but at least now I love running in the cold. So I am here to share a few secrets to help you start running in the cold....with a smile. 

1. You must have the right gear. If you are cold when you first go out you will probably begin to dread going out, each time after. Buy the right gear for the cold. Look at magazines and get ideas, read online reviews of what type of clothes will work, join a running community and ask questions. Luckily, it's the holidays, so whatever you think you may be missing, slap it on a google wish list and share with family. I don't have a lot, but I have the right hat for me that keeps me toasty, I have the right tops, the right jacket, I even have 3 pair of shoes so if one gets wet in the snow, I could let it dry by rotating. If you go out and feel totally freezing, you don't have the right clothes. Because your body will feel 20 degrees hotter once you get going, you have to feel just a tad cold when you first go out, but not freezing. 

2. Change the way you think. Most cold days when I go out I see very few other runners. Think, the less runners you see out there, the more badass you are! 

3. Really....don't mind the elements. This past run I just had I was trying hard to avoid puddles. It had snowed and when the sun came out it all started melting into puddles. I was only doing an 8 mile run, so I decided, after unsuccessfully avoiding some puddles, to not care anymore if I stepped on puddles. That is when the fun began. My hot, swollen feet at mile 5-6 felt absolutely amazing every time I ran through a puddle and the cold water rushed into my shoes, giving my feet a much-needed ice bath. 

4. Take pictures. Things look different when it's cold. Use your camera phone and snap a few pictures each time you experience anything beautiful. Think, people at a crowded gym in the winter do not get to see what you see. 

So go out there and have a blast.....badass!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Do You Really Need Support in Order to Run?

                      I am a member of an online community called Women's Running Network and lately I have seen a lot of posts of women complaining about not getting the approval or support from a loved one of their new running habit. Most have begun running recently and their new-found love of running has stirred up their personal relationships. I think as a whole, women have created a huge problem for themselves in constantly seeking approval first and foremost in order to pursue the things they love to do. Relationships will tense up whenever things change, maybe harsh words will be shared, maybe loved ones will, at first, or even for many, many years, not take you and your habit seriously and yes, say stupid, mean, ridiculous things. It's ultimately up to you to either abandon ship at the first sign of trouble OR follow your passion undisrupted by others' opinions, stupid hurtful comments and non-support.
                       Why do we need so much approval anyway? The few times in my life in which I did not care an iota what others thought about my choices, and went ahead as planned, are the times I felt so incredibly strong about my choices. Those decisions were more often some of the best decisions I have ever made. Like in any new love, whether they are people or new habits, we personally must decide just how much it will become a part of us. The benefits I derive from running are so beneficial that I know no one is shaking me off this boat, approval or not. Needing approval places the power in the hands of another and that is a dangerous way to live life. To better explain my point, think of a dog, or any animal for that matter. Do dogs have to get approval for barking? Do fish have to get approval for swimming? Do birds need approval for flying. My point? If running is truly part of your life, than don't sit around waiting for approval or support, just do it. Make you a part of running and running a part of you. Once people see that running is so inextricably a part of your very nature, they will ease up the ruffled feathers and soften with time, or maybe not. But we must disconnect from this intense need to constantly get support and approval in order to grow into who we truly are.
                           One side clause here. Of course, if we have families and children we must be mindful of the time we spend away from them pursuing our ultimately selfish habit. Most runners with families run before their children wake, while they are at school or when they go to bed so as to not sacrifice any "family time". We also must still genuinely be mindful of our loved ones complaints and gauge if their gripes are genuine. In my case, my husband is also a runner, so when I started running he grumbled quite a bit about having to negotiate when we ran on weekends so as to not use up the whole day up. Took a few months to adjust to new schedules and new priorities, but soon things settled and now I check with him the night before and we decide on who will  go first the next day, etc.
                         So don't give up on running just because your loved ones are not so gracefully adjusting to your new life. Forgive, move on, continue running and soon they will see that you ARE indeed serious and that running is a part of who you are. Once they get this fact, based solely on your dedication and non-wavering partaking of your habit, the work will be done for you. Remember, you are a runner and you don't need support or approval for what you do because it's just who you are. The approval and support may come eventually as it did for me a year later, but your goal is to not be driven by them.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Just Signed Up for Marathon Number 3: North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon-June 7, 2014

Here are some facts about the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon race from various online sources....take with a grain of salt. 
* The North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon returns to Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling, VA.
* The course keeps runners on their toes with ever-changing terrain. Overall, the course consists of 50% singletrack, 30% dirt or gravel double-track, 10% gravel carriage road and 10% paved road.
* 7 hour cut-off for marathon (another website source claims 8 hrs)
* Course guide can be found at:
* Considered among the region’s best trail races
* One year it was very muddy, another it was very hot (90 degrees)
* Come early, they had 10 portapotties for 800 people
* advice: walk up the steep hills, you'll be faster
* The half marathon is more like 14.6 miles.
* It was very well organized,
* started on time.
* Aid stations where well stocked
* Volunteers were attentive and knowledgeable.
* The post race party had plenty of food for all finishers.
* They even had a water truck for cleaning the mud off our shoes.
* Water stops are only spaced out every 6-7 mile
* The surprise of the course is that only about a foot wide for most of it and extremely uneven with muddy sections and horseshoe prints that you could roll your ankles in. (train in trails to train your ankles properly)
* At around mile 4, there is a stream too wide to jump. So be ready to run the remainder 22 miles with wet feet. (ready!)
* It's an out and back race course shared with a 50k and 50mile
* Marathon starts at 9am in June. A bit hot (wear appropriate cool clothing, sunscreen, carry water)
* Not recommend to anyone wanting to get a PR, it's a trail race after all .

This is me doing the Half-Marathon Challenge June 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Official Marathon Photo....

         As overpriced as these photos are, I HAD to dish out money for my first ever marathon!! Doubt I'll ever pay $39 for a JPG again. But this one is lots of fun and captured how awesome I felt that very moment. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Running in the Bitter Cold

                 I am so excited. I did my first run in the bitter cold this season. It was 24 degrees at 6am. I had been dreading running in very cold temperatures. Knowing that I can easily talk myself out going out in the dark and cold mornings, I made sure I prepared all my clothes and gear the night before, all the way down to the two sticks of gum I'd need. Within 10 minutes of the alarm I was out the door, heading south on Connecticut Avenue. I saw a total of 3 other runners, so needless to say, I felt quite brave. When the sun came up an hour later, I turned off my headlamp, and smiled as the sun rose with such spectacular colors. I got home 8 miles later and felt wonderful. 

Here is what I took with me this morning and it all worked!:
* Warm hat
* Wool gauntlets
* Two layer of pants (one compression pants and one regular tights over it)
* Warm top
* Windbreaker 
* Headlamp
* Water bottle with water 
* IPhone (GPS/Music player in one) 
* Mace 
* Two Gu's 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mile 20- Basking in Family Support

 My family came to cheer me on at mile 20 of the Philly Marathon. Below is Luke with my hubby's phone taking his own pics. The entire race my hubby was texting me, cheering me on, encouraging me to keep going and at times sending messages from the kids.

              I had no idea I would get THIS emotional. It felt so nice to see everyone. 

13-week Marathon Training Schedule

Marathon Training Plan
GW Birthday Marathon Feb 16th, 2014

Okay, so after exhaustive research, I came up with this training plan to follow for my next marathon. Seeing as I JUST finished a marathon I needed to take 'healing' into consideration. I also suppose I could pay someone to make me a marathon training plan based on my goals. But I feel at this point I know my body enough to know what I need to tweak to meet my goals. My goals being to beat my time in my next marathon. I am adding in some speed work, some hills (Tuesdays) and the back to back long runs will help me get stronger and heal faster. The idea of having three 20 milers scares me a bit, but I know it will provide me with the confidence I need going into a race wanting to PR.

Total miles



3 speed


3 speed


3 speed


3 speed


3 speed


3 speed


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3 speed


3 speed


3 speed


3 speed


3 speed


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

X-Mas Wishlist- Stocking Stuffers for the Runner in Your Life

Balega Socks 
         Running socks ARE expensive, BUT as gifts you get even ONE for a runner and they would love you forever. I promise. Make sure you get their size. 

Nathan Quick View Hydration Pack

    I have used mine on every single run from the short 4 milers to the marathon. It's my constant companion. I love this water bottle. You will only win when you get one of these for your runner. 

Nathan Hydration Nathan Hydration 2013 Tri-Color Reflective Vest

     Any reflectivewear means you care!! this one is easy to put on over anything and does the job. I have owned the ankle and wrist ones and they scratch and do not feel right. 
Knuckle Lights 
           These are highly recommended on the Women's Running Network. 

Running Magnets 
                Make sure they are magnets NOT stickers. 

Pepper Spray 
                  I carry mine whenever I run very early, very late or in the dark. 

Marshall's Gift Certificate 
                All sensible runners shop at Marshall's. They can get twice as much for the money. 

Nike Thermal Running Gloves 
                 Runnig gloves are a step above regular gloves. Says you take your loved one's running seriously. I would LOVE these (hint, hint). 

Facts about the GW Marathon (Feb 16, 2014)

Did some online research on the GW Birthday Marathon and here is what I found: 

Course: Three-loop course through Greenbelt, Maryland and the U.S.D.A. Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.  USATF-certified, Boston Marathon qualifier. Course map here.

ten aid stations, at approximately the 2.4, 5.8, 7.9, 9.7, 13.2, 15.2, 17.0, 20.4, 22.5 and 24.3 mile points.  Water and Gatorade at all; GU at many

* They have a post-race party

 the last 1.2 miles of the course are straight uphill

Easy to get in and out of

* race day packet pick up, 

* reasonably priced, 

* nice long sleeve tech tee, 

* good organization, 

* great volunteers and plenty of water/Gatorade stops. 

* post race food and drink were amazing.

organized by DC Road Runners Club and is one of the longest continuously held marathons in the United States

* some years it's been bitterly cold. with temperatures in the high 20's and strong winds, windchill will likely be in the teens. We urge all runners to bring plenty of layers, and to be prepared for the cold. 

* Race starts at about 10am, so you can sleep in a bit (last year it was about 40 degrees)

* It's a small marathon

* Lots of people seem to use it as a training run for longer races. 

*  Runners share roads with vehicle traffic

* personal audio is strongly discouraged; they ask that you 'keep the volume down if you must.'

For the first time, this year, bus service will be available to and from the Metro starting when the metro opens. Look for a Chariots for Hire mini bus with a "GW Marathon" sign.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reflection....what went well, what could be improved

          I am on to my next adventure folks...The George Washington's Birthday Marathon on Feb 16th, 2014. I have chosen the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 Training Program and I will be formally starting with week 7 on that plan (which will be Monday for me) I am pumped to get started! But, in order to do better on this new marathon I need to make a list of what I could do better and what I did well. 

What worked:
* Carrying my own hand-held hydration water bottle was a wonderful idea. 
* I planned well for the weather. Since it will be much colder in February, I will need to start taking good notes as to what is appropriate clothing for each temperature. Maybe keep a log and that way I will know exactly what to put on that day. 
* Wearing a cap was great, the sun came out and I did not have to deal with glare. No sunglasses needed. 
* Listening to an audiobook at the beginning and at around the halfway point doing music also worked well. 
* Drink to thirst, take an S-cal tablet every hour and a GU every half hour. 
* Vaseline helped with chafing!! Had zero chafing!!!
* Half an hour of stretching and 20 minute of walking right after helped enormously with recovery. 
* Juicing before and after race also helped keep me strong. 
* Wear t-shirt from a prior race to remind self that, "You've got this!!"
* Wearing my MT1010 New balance sneakers was awesome. The minimalist aspect allowed me to run with the correct form. 
* Checking behind me before I moved 'lanes' so as to not knock into anyone. 
* Credit card and extra phone charger were in the pocket of my hydration water bottle and NOT on my belt. 

What I need to do better:
* Drink coffee at home, about 2 hours before race. 
* I seriously need to carry 10 easy-on-the-stomach flavored GU's. New products offered may or may not agree with me. I think I will go back to Espresso Love flavor GU's. The Vanilla started tasting WAY too sweet and at the end I could not take any more down. 
* DO buy thrift store clothes for the race....less hassle. 
* Have a lot more music on my playlist. I think I am a bit tired of the music I have. 
* Have several audiobooks to choose from in case the one I chose does not work out. 
 * If I need to wear pants, I need to get some comfy, (non-compression) warm tights. 
* Get a GPS watch once and for all. The Map My Run app has failed me twice now on my long runs and I am not sure why. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Finished My First Ever Marathon!!

                    Yesterday, I finished my first marathon. Today I am feeling great. I took a long, hot bath in the evening after and took some Advil before going to bed and I woke up feeling amazing this morning. My ankles are a little achy and there is a general soreness all over my body, but I seriously could have gone for a short run this morning and that just blew me away. So I must have done 'something' right. With the exception of a few things I think I would pretty much do the same things next time around, and yes, there will be a next one. I will again carry a hydration bottle with me, I would bring great new music, I would again listen to an audiobook for the first half (13 miles) and pump in music from miles 13-26.2. I would also take the salt pills (S-Caps) every hour on the hour again, and the Gu's every half hour to help me not bonk. I don't think a first marathon experience could have gone better.....and for that I am so proud and relieved. 

                      This is me two days before my race.....little did I know my life was about to change, forever. I was going to be a marathoner and that is one of those things that no one can take from you. 

                      Because the race was in Philadelphia we stayed at my sister-in-law's for two nights. I juiced three bottles of veggie juice for the weekend and had a bottle before the race and one after. This one has red cabbage, carrots, apples, beets, and yellow squash. My brother-in-law saw one of the bottle in my purse and asked why I had a bottle of pasta sauce with me. I had to laugh. Carrying a glass bottle of red fluid in your purse IS a bit odd. My mom, who is not a runner, is convinced I have such good endurance because of my daily veggie juicing habit. Could be true. All I know is I have not gotten sick since I began 2 years ago. 

              My daughter, sister-in-law and I went to the Expo for the Philly Marathon which was in Downtown Philly and although my sister-in-law and I chose to separate in order to be able to shop around, we both ended up buying Sweaty Bands! Check out this rack of yummy Sweaty Bands!!! Both Nora and I could not decide! I bought 3, one for Nora, one for me and one for my sister-in-law. 

                  Nora got a free medal from one of the tables at the Expo. She said to me, "Mom, I got a free medal for doing nothing!" 

                   Because Philly, as large a city as it is, oddly enough does not have train service at 5am. Therefore, I had to get a taxi to drive me to the race Sunday morning. The ride cost me $40 but the peace of mind was worth every penny (It was $2.70/mile for 14 miles). When I got off the cab this was the view I got.....what a beautiful city! It also helped tremendously that it was unusually warm for a November morning. It was about 55 degrees...... 

                     The race begins and I finally walk over the start line at 7:21am. I was one of the last corrals so I got to see the thousands of other runner pass before me. 30,000 people ran this race and if you like people watching, races are so fun!

                This is about a mile into the race. This is the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. 

Schuylkill Rive.., PA

Schuylkill Rive.., PA

Schuylkill Rive.., PA

Schuylkill Rive.., PABoathouse Row

            At mile 13 the half-marathoner racers were done. This is when my music came on and the audiobook got paused.  

Along Fairmount Park

                   I did it. Check out this medal!!  cried when I saw my family at mile 20, I cried at mile 25-26 and I cried after I got this medal placed over my shoulder. 

When done, I found a place to get my stretches done. Half hour worth of stretching and bending. On the way to the SEPTA train station I passed by Academy of Natural Sciences and this giant realistic dinosaur was moving and roaring.  Very cool city indeed. I think both the stretching and the walking were very helpful to my recovery. 

              After, I added a new car magnet to my car. Of course, Nora had to pose next to it. She is such a little momma!! Oh, and she is wearing her Sweaty Band!! Actually, she even slept with it on her head and earned a big headache from it....I guess we all learn about our body as we make such silly mistakes.  

                      I wore my 50K t-shirt I earned from the West Virginia Trilogy to the race in order to give me courage during this race. It must have worked! The medal is absolutely gorgeous!!