July 19, 2016

Hotter N Hell 18 Mile Trail Race

That's the actual name of the race! And guys, it was ridiculous.

Pre Race:
We were in Birmingham for XC camp. I needed a long run and also needed some trail practice. I also chose this race b/c I've done races by the RD before, and they are always well-organized and put together nicely. The elevation map looked rough, but I still need practice run/hiking on trails in preparation of the 50 miler.

The course was double loop; so they offered a 9 mile option, too. The above elevation chart is for the one loop. 

The day before the race, the RD sent out an email explaining that part of the course leading to the bottom of a waterfall had been washed out due to recent hard rains. To help us out, there was a rope. I'm not a complete scaredy cat; however I had my reservations about this. Oh well, I was already registered; so it was happening. 

Considering I was at the end of 5 days with a large group of high schoolers, I was sleeping pretty well. I was also at the end of a 20-25% cutback week. I was feeling pretty good pre-race. I had coffee, banana, and Stinger Waffle about an hour and half before the race. 

I started off very conservatively. I knew the course would be tough, and I wanted to be smart. The first few miles were very run-able. I only tripped once, but saved it before I hit the ground. I was running with a small group, and even met a girl that just graduated from the same college I did. I had to hike the portion right before the aid station. It was too steep and rocky. 

The aid station at the top had anything you would want while running. I used the flat, gravel portion to take my Huma gel and refill my bottle. I had been running right at an hour. 

The next portion was probably my favorite. It was a gradual decline on a packed gravel/dirt path. My legs appreciated the break from climbing. And then I came to the rope. When I first saw the drop, that's exactly what happened to my heart- it dropped. My immediate thought was, "there is NO way!" However, I was running by this super great guy named Mike that talked me through the whole thing and even grabbed my hand a few times to help me down. Y'all. It. Was. Nuts. I started facing out, sliding down gradually sideways, while holding the rope. My feet slipped out from me once, but thanks to the rope, I didn't die. (Slight exaggeration here, but falling would've caused serious injury.) After I slipped, I switched to a repelling strategy and had more luck with that. I made it to the bottom with only some bruises. Of course, then there was a massive log to climb over. I was shaking so badly that my legs would hardly work. The next mile or so was still un-run-able, as we went up slippery rocks and rock steps. The course was constantly up and down for the rest of the loop, but it was nothing too serious. I made a deal with myself to run the parts that I could and walk the parts that I couldn't. I focused on hiking strongly, as I think that's something I will need to do in the 50. 

I finished the first loop right at 2 hours. I filled my bottle and took another gel at the aid station. the majority of the people stopped after 9. (They were smart.) At this point, I basically dropped every person I was running with before and tried to do my best on the first few miles. I knew I could run them quickly, and it would be my only chance to actually run before the rocks, hills, and absolute crap out there. LOL. I also powered through the hiking portion. Before I knew it, I was at the top aid station again, where they told me I was 3rd female. This time I drank a little Coke. (It's SOOOO good!) and powered on. I was under 3 hours; so I was totally negative splitting the whole race, which was a huge confidence booster. I powered on back to the rope where I took a different strategy. I got into a crab walk position, and basically slid down on my butt (while holding the rope). It was totally messy; I bruised the heck out of my arms, but it was a lot less scary and faster than the first time I went down. Next thing I knew, I was back on my way. I went back to my hiking/running strategy and checked my watch to confirm, that yes, I would be negative splitting the course. It was just a matter of by how much. 

Until there were no more blue flags. A few people asked me how I ran off course, and I honestly have no clue. I was watching the blue flags, and all of a sudden they were gone. I tried to look ahead and behind with none to be found. The tricky thing was that I was on a trail. See, at this state park, many trails are weaved together. So, I was in my trail zone, running along and went on the wrong path. I stopped for a minute and tried to look for people. I saw two ladies hiking and asked them if they knew what trail (color) we were on. They weren't too sure, but thought orange or red. (I was supposed to be on blue and green.) I almost cut through the trail to the main road, but I told myself to continue this a little longer and just see if I could get back on track. The trail was pretty run-able, and after 20 minutes I saw someone running. I called out to her, and she looked up and directed me on how to get to her. I was then able to get back on the race course. I was so mad. I was mad at myself for not paying attention. I got too confident and missed my directions. I zoned out and didn't pay attention. GRRR. I was also totally out of water, and it was noon in July in Alabama. 

I finished in 4:23, 6th female. The RD estimated that I ran at least 2 miles off course, maybe as much as 4. I wasn't wearing a GPS; so we will never know. 

It pains me to say, but I'm not going to be able to wear the Launches in the 50 miler. I felt a TON of rocks through the soles of my shoes. My feet were bruised even post-race. 

And I am so sore. Onward and upward, friends! 

July 12, 2016

Disappointing Workout

Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this post, let me recap last week.

Monday: Shark Race at Orange Beach with stroller- 4 miles 30: 45 (because racing with a stroller is the best thing to do the day after a marathon)

Tuesday: 6 miles in the morning- girls and I had planned to do more, but none of us were really feeling it. 6 stroller miles in the evening with the Running Wild group. And shout out to my hubby who ran for the first time since March! (He goes through phases like that. LOL)

Wednesday: 10 miles

Thursday: 11 miles

Friday: 15 miles

Saturday: Planned 24, but only did 20. I was seriously, seriously on the Struggle Bus.

Sunday: 7 treadmill miles- I wanted more, but S woke up early.

Total: 80 miles

After Saturday's run, I had to be honest with myself and admit that I really needed a cutback week. The plan I am following does 3 weeks heavy, and then a cutback week. However, I have put off the cutback week b/c I want to use it when I take the HS kids to camp this week. Looking back, I've done 75-85 miles a week since the end of May.

I don't know why I'm so hard headed about taking a break. Somewhere in my warped mind, I feel like it's admitting defeat. However, the experienced runner in me KNOWS the value of backing off and rebuilding. So, this is my cutback week.

I had another 5 minute tempo interval workout today. Last time I did the workout, it was on the road. I did 5 x 5 minutes, ranging from 6:42-6:55, 1 minute recoveries.

Today, I met Sam, Daniel, and Jess at Sam's house to head to the track. They were all doing a 400 workout, but misery loves company.
Warm up: a little over 2 miles
At this point, I realized I really needed to go to the bathroom; so I used my first 5 min to run back to Sam's, slightly downhill 7:02 average. Then I had to run back, which is slightly uphill, 7:17 average. 
I then got on the track to join the group for the rest of the sets. Averages for the remaining 5 minute sets: 7:02, 6:52, 6:52, 6:52.

The way I have my Garmin set for the workout is that I can't see the pace I'm running. The screen shows me which repeat I'm on and how much time is left in the repeat. So, I'm running by feel whole time.

I think I did roughly a 2 mile cool down, maybe a little less, but I stopped my Garmin after the intervals.  Once I stopped my Garmin and looked at the data, I was SO INCREDIBLY MAD! Why, just why was today so much slower?!?!? I vented to the girls and stewed the whole way home.

I have to acknowledge the data, though. What is it telling me? Okay, my legs are tired. The cumulative mileage is taking its toll. It confirms that I need a cutback week, which I was already suspecting and expecting. I guess I just want better than that.

Most days I'm good with the runner I am now. I recognize that seasons change, life changes, and I can't train like I used to. Today that really ticked me off. Where is that girl? Why won't my body do it anymore? The fact that it won't is exactly why I chose the goal of a 50 mile race. I need a challenge, but I couldn't keep beating the dead horse that the marathon had become. I need(ed) new goals.

Wish us luck at XC camp! It's our first time going as a team! I hope to come back fired up and ready to coach and train!

Run Happy, friends!

July 5, 2016

Hotter Than Hell Marathon

Marathon #39 is in the books! And here's how it looked.

About the Event
I'm using the word "event" instead of "race" b/c there was not an official winner. This was a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy. Participants could complete the marathon any way they wanted- bike, run, skate, etc. The only rule was that you had to complete the 26.2 to get the finisher's medal and event shirt. It was held at Audubon Park in New Orleans, around the 2.01X loop. After each lap, you went to the pavilion where they had huge dry erase boards with everyone's name. After each loop, you would return to the pavilion to put a tally mark by your name. Volunteers were there to oversee everything. They had water and gatorade coolers, but other than that, you brought your own things. Goals for this event:
1) NOT to race, but to run slowly, but evenly paced, without bonking
2) Practice hydration and nutrition for 50 miler
3) Get in my long run for the week
Dry erase boards used to tally laps

We drove to New Orleans Saturday afternoon. After checking into the hotel, I took S to play in the pool while hubby picked us up some dinner from across the street. I ate a grilled chicken salad with light ranch, about 5 hours prior to race start. (Race started at 12:15 a.m.) Around 8, I ate some gummy bears. We finally got S to sleep around 9 p.m, and I was able to get a 1.5 hour nap. At 11 p.m, I got dressed and packed my things for the race. You could start whenever you liked, but had to be finished before 9 a.m. I really wanted to find a group to run with; so I decided to start at 12:15. However, I got lost on the way; so I ended up starting closer to 12:40. I drank 12 ounces (one serving) of Cinnamon Delite Generation UCAN at 11:30 p.m.

Clothing- Brooks Greenlight Short TightsBrooks Ghost RacerbackBrooks Launch 3
3 handheld bottles, Nuun tablets, Huma chia gelsEndurolytes Extreme
iPod, pepper spray

The Run
The weather was "feels like 91 degrees;" so we had that working against us, as I knew we would. That's the way it is here this time of year. You just have to make adjustments and do it. I wore my Timex, and didn't look at it much, except when deciding if it was time for nutrition. Thankfully, I met up with a group of 3 runners that were about my feels slow, but good, pace. After 1 loop in, I could tell the girl in the group was a legit ultra runner. I spent the first 6 laps basically question and answering her about various nutrition strategies. I sipped water throughout. Some parts of the paved path were very dark. A few people nearby had headlamps or lights on their bikes. That helped. We also changed directions after each lap. At 68 minutes I took an Endurolyte. At 1:40 (12 miles), I took my first Huma gel. At 2:06,  I took another Endurolyte, and at 2:30ISH, another gel. I ran with the group the entire way. Occasionally, different people would join in for a lap. It was really fun, in a dark and hot kind of masochist way. Once I entered the last hour-ish of the run, I experimented with drinking some Pepsi. IT WAS WONDERFUL!
My New Friends

My final time was 3:45:16. However, I stopped my watch at the aid station/tally table; so this is completely unofficial. (And it doesn't really matter much, as there are no official results anyway!)

Post Race
I'm really, really pleased with how this run went. I met all my goals, and I didn't feel too sore or beat up afterwards. And that helps b/c this will be another week of 80+ miles. The only negative is that I am really in the hole with my sleep. I finished the run around 5 a.m, ate watermelon for an hour, and then headed back to the hotel. Once I showered and sat down for 30 minutes, S was up and we went to the aquarium for a large chunk of the day. I've gotten very little sleep since then! I will cut back next week when we go to XC camp.
Relaxing after the run
What's up next?
I have another full week of training- same grind as the past few weeks. I'm getting there!!!!!

July 2, 2016

June Training Recap

The main purpose I restarted this blogging adventure is to document my training for my first 50 Miler, JFK 50 Miler.  Let's recap June's training.

* 9 miles w/ 10 x 0.25 hill repeats outside with Sam
* one hour run w/ hill repeats of 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 minutes, 6% incline on TM
*  2 9-mile progression runs- 8:34 pace down to 6:34 on TM
* 8 miles w/ 6 x 5 min @ 6:27 pace on TM
* 6 miles w/ 5 x 5 min @ 6:40-6:55 pace OUTSIDE

Long Runs:
* 5 15-milers
* 2 16-milers
* a 2 hour and 40 minute run (maybe 18-20 miles)
* 22-miler

Monthly mileage was over 320 miles. I'm not sure exactly b/c a few runs I didn't record, but I know I hit at least 80 miles each week in June.

Positive takeaways- I'm proud of my mileage. I feel that it's where it needs to be to prepare my body for the 50 mile race. I've been consistent about getting out of bed and getting it done. My body hasn't done this kind of mileage in nearly 3 years. I can definitely feel it, but I don't seem to be having any specific sore spots or worries of injury.

Negative takeaways- I'd like to see fewer 15-16 mile runs and more 20+. A few of those 15-16 mile runs were supposed to be 20+, but various things happened, like weather, bonking, etc. I need to get them in, though, regardless.

Goals for July- During one 15 miler while on the Struggle Bus, Sam began asking me what I had to drink and eat the day before. Y'all, my hydration was pitiful the day before! Yes, I've been running with a bottle, but I really, really need to focus on hydrating consistently. She gave me the goal of 5 large Tervis tumblers per day of water. I do feel like it's helped a little bit. Still working on that. I also had my yearly iron test and it came back on the low end of average. I already take a multivitamin, but added an extra iron tablet in hopes of improving that. I'm also trying to add more meats and leafy greens to my diet.

Thanks for reading, friends!

June 30, 2016

Welcome Back!

After a near-year hiatus, I have decided to rejoin the blogging world. If you notice, I have a brand new web address and a new blog title! Times are changing, people. Instead of giving you the one million reasons I haven't blogged in so long, I'll take this time to reacquaint myself with you. If you have a billion years, feel free to go back and read about my life over the past decade. It's been an amazing journey, for sure! To kick off my reentry, I'll follow Sam's lead with a running survey.

What is your favorite kind of cross training? 
Um, what now? I guess chasing my toddler around. LOL, ain't nobody here got time to cross train!

What is your favorite song to run to?
In college, our coach gave us mandatory quiet time on the bus before meets. I listened to my theme song by Cake, Going the Distance. I would seriously listen to it on repeat for an hour or so. That was a billion years ago, and I'm not really into that kind of racing anymore; so I don't know. If I'm running alone, I listen to contemporary Christian music.

What brand of shoes do you wear?
I've been sponsored by Brooks since 2009, and I wear nothing but them! <3

Do you wear a hat when you run? 
If the sun is out, I wear a hat or visor every time. I had basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) on my face two years ago. I don't play around with that anymore.

Do you run solo or with a buddy? 
I do both. I really love running with friends. It's hard during the school year to make my schedule fit my friends' schedules; so I run a lot alone then.

Are you a morning, noon, or evening runner?
I'm mostly a morning runner. If I run in the evening, it's usually my 2nd run of the day and much shorter, often a stroller run.

Do you have any big races coming up?
Why, yes! One of the reasons I chose to continue my blogging is to document my newest journey- training for my first 50 miler!!!! I will be doing the JFK 50 in November. MUCH more on that later, though! Throughout the summer and fall, I'll be doing races as training runs, but the main goal is in Nov.

What is your favorite distance?
My favorite training distance is 10 miles. Short enough not to worry about fueling, but long enough to get those endorphins going. Racing? I'm a sucker for the marathon. 38 completed so far!

What is your favorite race?
This one is really tough b/c my races are categorized in my head. I like a lot of races for very different reasons. One of my absolute favorites is the Wineglass Marathon. Scenery, town, course, swag- I just love it!

Do you wear a Garmin? If not, how do you track your distance?
If you have a hundred years on your hands, you can go back and read about my burnout about 4-ish years ago. Basically, I was obsessed with all numbers associated with running. After I hit rock bottom with that, I have been nearly Garmin-free. I do wear it for workouts now. I find the data very useful, and seeing your pace on tempo runs can help you gauge your efforts. I also don't run on the track anymore, but I set up the "workout intervals" mode on my Garmin. For long runs, I wear a Timex. That way, if I want to calculate the average pace later, I can. I run the same routes nearly every week. I've put all of these into Map My Run; so I already know the distance.  If I'm doing a new LR route, I use Map My Run ahead of time or I'm often running with friends that have Garmins. My favorite thing to do is ask Sam 100 times how far we've been when we're in the last mile of our long runs. HA!

What is your least favorite race?
McGuire's St. Patrick's Day Run- ICK! You can also read about that in my history, if you're super bored.

Who is your running idol?
<3 MEB <3 I mean, how can you not love him? "Winning isn't always coming in first or a time on the clock. Winning is getting the best out of yourself." YESSSSS!!!!!!

I'm also a huge fan of Deena Kastor. I met her during and after the 2012 Trials, and she was so down to earth and humble. I love a gracious competitor.

How long have you been running? 
Holy cow- 30+ years!!!!! (Since I was a kid.)

What is your favorite type of run?
Usually I would say long runs. However, I'm basically living in Satan's Armpit right now (stole that from a FB meme); so LRs aren't the most fun.

What do you drink to stay hydrated? 
Coffee? Ugh, I'm terrible. I try to drink water, occasionally with Nuun.

Where is your favorite place to run?
I love running in Fairhope, AL, but I think only b/c my friends are there!

What do you take on your runs?
Ruger Pepper Spray Ultra is a pepper spray, strobe light, and screamer in one. I sometimes run with iPod, and water for a long run.

YOUR TURN!!!!! I'll be back in a few days for a training recap.
Run Happy, friends! :)

September 7, 2015

Riding the Waves

I'm not a huge country music fan, but I do this song with these lyrics-

If you're goin' through hell keep on going
Don't slow down if you're scared don't show it
You might get out before the devil even knows you're there

I've been deep down in that darkness
I've been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different deamons breathin' fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled I'd fall right into the trap
That they were layin'

But the good news is there's angels everywhere out on the street
Holdin' out a hand to pull you back up on your feet
The one's that you've been draggin' for so long
You're on your knees might as well be praying'

My class… oh my word, my class… a week ago, I was desperately searching "help wanted" ads. Well, not really, but I was heavily pondering what else I could do beside teach. I was feeling very discouraged by the dynamics of my class. Like I've discussed in previous posts, something I struggle with frequently is feeling like I'm not accomplishing anything teaching. I went into this profession to make a difference, but right now it feels as if I'm spinning my wheels. EVERYTHING is a battle. I left school and practice Thursday really feeling like crap. I skipped the group run, and Squishy and I went to Walmart. I had peanut butter M & Ms and 2 beers for dinner and went to bed pretty early. I got up extra early Friday and ran 12 miles. I got to school early and was faced with a decision my principal had made regarding a discipline issue. We didn't see eye to eye on the issue. There wasn't a fiery disagreement, even though I feel like I had a valid reason. I simply felt so beat, like nobody was in my corner. It was just going to be me and 27 kids (20 boys, 10 special ed) all year battling it out. 

It's neat how God send people in your life and into your day right when you need it most. A few of the special ed teachers were switch this year, and I got a REALLY good one. He's very overworked, however; so things have still been tough. Anyway, he took the time to talk to me Friday morning, and it meant so much to me. I shared with him a lot of my feelings of failing and frustration. In return, he listened, encouraged, and offered some advice. On top of that, I think the kids sensed that I had really hit the wall for the week. They were super good! We had a class meeting about behavior, expectations, and reaching for our goals. We talked about how important it is to be a leader, not a follower, especially when it comes to misbehavior. And we had a fantastic day (and that's including the projectile vomit that happened in the center of the room #teacherlife)! 

Saturday morning I awoke SUPER tired. I wasn't feeling too pumped about the meet, but I rallied my energy for my athletes' sake. It turned out that my girls ran AWESOME! Our overall team average was 2 over two MINUTES faster than last year! And last year we placed 10th out of 20 teams; this year was 5th out of 18!!!! Many of my girls ran very close to their PRs, and their PRs are from the end of the season last year when the weather is nice and cool. Yesterday was 84* with 95% humidity (ICK). My guys…. sigh… bless their hearts. I'm not sure what to do with them. I just can't seem to lead them to success. I have a few that work hard and place well, but for the most part, they really don't care about being fast. 

Truth time: WHAT IN THE WORLD???? How are you a high school boy and not really care about being fast? My mind is just blown. I've tried everything in the world to get them to push themselves at practice and in races. They DO occasionally, but never to the point that girls do. And never consistently. And that leads us to a 20th out of 28th place finish, with ZERO improvement from last year's team average. 

On my own training front, I made a pretty big decision last week about my fall/winter marathons. Here's what my plan is-

Early Nov. Pensacola Half Marathon 
Late Nov. MIssissippi Coast Marathon 
Mid Dec. Holiday Half Marathon or 8K
Mid Jan. First Light Half Marathon OR Relay
Late Jan. Big Beach Marathon

Late Feb. RnR New Orleans Half Marathon

So… I revised my training schedule a bit. Yesterday's run was great- 15 miles with 8 at GMP. I'm leaning towards trying to run a 7:10-7:15 pace in the marathon. Taking into account the heat and humidity, online calculators said to slow my pace 10-15 seconds per mile. Lizzie and Sam did the run with me, and we hit 7:24, 7:24, 7:21, 7:16, 7:19, 7:16, 7:16, 7:05. So it was a nice progression run! We will see where the rest of my training takes me! I'm definitely ready for fall. This 95-100% humidity is getting pretty old. 

On the family front- Squishy turns ONE on Friday! I can't believe it! Time has really flown. 

August 29, 2015

Back in the Swing of Things

Hey, there! As you might have guessed based on my hiatus, we started back to school. Boy, oh boy, is it kicking my rear. 27 in my class this year, 19 boys, and 10 special needs. Yes, go ahead and put me on your church prayer list.

We had our first XC meet on Thursday. I was proud of them. They all raced hard. I'm especially impressed with my girls. They have been very dedicated all summer, and it's really paying off for them. We came in 5th out of 10 at our last meet, which I'll take considering we ran against the more advanced Mobile teams. My boys… bless their hearts. First of all, I need more boys. We barely have enough to score. And my boys also don't quite work as hard as the girls. They run hard when they are at practice, but there are many excuses of why they can't come. Two attend every practice and work really hard, but I really can't depend on the others. I'm not sure if it's a maturity thing, or they just don't love running? I'm lost at how to fix things.

My own training is coming along. It's been tough the past few weeks to it all in. I won't bore you with 3 weeks of training, but here are some highlights:

*Running 65-70 mpw
*3 long runs of 16, 17, 18 miles all averaging 8:10-8:20
*3 tempo workouts of 5-6 miles at tempo pace where I progressed from 6:59-6:31
*1 hill run where Sam nearly killed me
*3 mid-week runs of 12 miles
*roughly 3 stroller runs a week

Nothing special, just grinding it out! I am still on the fence about the November Marathon, Pensacola; you know, the one I'm training for. LOL. The thing is, I want to do a marathon, but I'm not crazy about that one. I feel like I've "been there, run that" and I'm sick of it, especially since the course is nothing to write home about (boring and ugly). However, I want to do a marathon! And traveling just isn't an option this time of year for us. There is another marathon just across the State Line of Mississippi, but it is Thanksgiving weekend. I'm not sure about our holiday plans yet. ACK!

I'm going to try really hard to not to let this blog go again. It's just hard to sit down and write a post.

There's a quick update for now. Run Happy, friends!

August 5, 2015

My 10 Favorite Things

Truth: sometimes I am secretly happy when XC practice gets stormed out. There's something magical about already being awake with nothing planned to do. It's storming here. Baby woke early, had a bottle and is a back asleep. I should be on the treadmill right now, but I'll get to that later. I'm just enjoying the quiet house, the storm outside, and my coffee. 

I've been wanting to do a favorite things post lately after seeing them on a few blogs. So here it is! I'll start with shoes. 
1. My favorite everyday trainer is the Brooks Launch 2. It's all I wear lately. 
2. My favorite "fast" shoe for racing and speedwork in the Brooks Pure Flow 4. In my opinion, this is the best update Brooks has done to the Flow series. I wore this shoe when I ran Boston, and it felt awesome the whole time, even when becoming soaked from all the rain (zero blisters or hot spots). 

3. Truth- I have this tank in every color. It's perfect for the African jungle summers we have here. Does anyone remember the D'lite tank that Brooks had out a few years ago? Well, this is similar, but WAY better. I like the criss-cross backing because it makes it more breathable. However, this tank runs big. I typically wear a small/medium in Brooks tops, and I have this tank in a small, but could probably wear the XS. 

4. Mammas, is it just me, or does your entire chest/upper body change after having a baby? I've basically had to overhaul all my sports bras, and I went through a pretty ugly trial and error phase with finding a new bra that works for me. It seems that my rib cage expanded during pregnancy, and then my boobs totally disappeared after weaning Squishy from breastfeeding. Like, seriously, they are GONE. Fun times for bra shopping. Luckily, I've found this gem. And a cool thing- it's reversible! Brooks owns Moving Comfort now (or they are partnered, or something like that…) This is the Switch It Up Racer. 

5. And moving on to the skin protection section. LOL. I rarely am in the sun without a hat or visor. After basal cell carcinoma and having my face cut open while 30 weeks pregnant, I've definitely stepped it up a notch in the protection department. This visor is my jam. I literally have every color/design of it that Brooks has sold on their site. And I am not including a link to the Brooks site because they don't sell it anymore. SAD DAY! I'm going to have to try out the new "Bolt" visor, I suppose. 
6. My dermatologist stands behind Neutrogena products. I use the stick on my face/neck and the standard lotion on the rest of my body. It's not greasy at all, and doesn't have that weird "sunscreen smell." 

7. Sam has gotten me into Nuun. And here's my deal. I'm incredibly cheap. Like, I hate spending money on beverages. However, in this climate and running the mileage that I am, I recognize the importance of restoring my fluids with electrolytes. So, after extreme hot and humid runs (basically every day, LOL), I use a Nuun in my water bottle. The stuff is addictive. It's slightly fizzy, but doesn't have too strong of a taste (why I am not a fan of Gatorade). My favorite is the strawberry lemonade, but I also like the lemon-lime. 

8. My former coach and friend got me into UCAN. I might have blogged about this before, but UCAN is a super starch with very low sugar. You drink it 30 minutes before endurance workouts, and it can also be used as a recovery drink (some varieties have protein). Please know that this stuff tastes like chalk. Chalk, people. It is worth it, though! I struggled for years to find a fuel that didn't upset my stomach during marathons/ultras. And I was finally introduced to this. No, it doesn't taste good. Power through, though! I also started putting a scoop into my recovery smoothies after long workouts. In a smoothie you can't taste it at all. I use the vanilla flavor post-workouts because it has protein and it blends nicely with my fruit, almond milk, etc. I really do think it helps my body recover faster! And I'm not just saying that because Meb believes it. Ha! 

9. I LOVE my Bob Revolution stroller. We rack up the miles with it!  

10. And in case you were wondering about that yellow thing on top of the stroller, that's Squishy's fan. Yep, she has a fan blowing on her when she rides. I mean, 10 mile runs get hot, even if you are riding! 

And there you have it friends! I hope everyone is having a Run Happy summer! Only 3 more days of vacation for me. *Insert sad face*

July 31, 2015

What's Up in Training & A 5K Race

Let's see… Here' s training update for the fall/winter marathon season. As you recall, I've been doing my long runs during the week, as it's better for my family's schedule. 

Here's what the past 10 days have looked like, starting with 7/19:

Sunday: 11 miles, finishing with a  CRAZY headache. After having a headache for a solid week and cutting out caffeine (shoot me now) and alcohol, I had my eyes checked. Apparently post-pregnancy your eyes can change! My vision change had been causing my headaches. New contacts and I feel better than new!
Monday: 5 with stroller
Tuesday: a.m. 6 x 800 at 6:07 pace on treadmill/ p.m. 6 miles easy
Wednesday: 6 miles, easy pace down to marathon pace (progression run)
Thursday: 14-15 miles on the STRUGGLE BUS. I started at 4:15 a.m. with a "feels like" temp of 95*. I did 10K by myself, and then the rest with the group. I was so dead. I had wanted 16, but when the group was done, I was more than done. Cooked. Toast. The run nearly killed me! Oh, and it was so bad that I ran a recovery run that night of 5 miles. LOL! 
Friday: 5 with stroller

Mini Race Report- Hubby and I went to a small race on the Causeway. The race starts and finishes flat, but there's a bridge in the middle. It's not TOO steep, but enough to cost you some time in a 5K. I started near the front (since the race was small) and settled in behind a girl that is about to start running for Mississippi College. She was about 20ish seconds ahead of me for the first half mile. I was steady as 2nd female. Mile 1 6:34. I caught the 1st female right after the turn around. I held steady and ran near a guy that continuously asked me our pace and distance. (That's fun in a 5K.) Mile 2 6:36. I was feeling the effects of the sun (zero shade, so hot), but held the lead with 3rd mile 6:42. Final 0.14 was 50 seconds. 
First Female 20:45 What's cool is that I won a massage and a pedicure! And hubby ran with baby at only 2 seconds per mile faster than my stroller 10K PR. LOL, I had to razz him about it b/c he had made out like the stroller was *so* easy to push. Haha. After the race, I ran the course again with the stroller to get in some mileage for the day. 

Sunday: 5 with stroller
Monday: 5 with team, 4 with stroller (9 total for the day)
Tuesday: a.m. was 8 miles with 5 at tempo (656, 655, 657, 658, 651). I did the workout outside at 4:15 a.m. Ugh, humidity! PM was 6 miles easy with stroller.
Wednesday: 11 miles easy with Sam, and we found the BEST water fountain! It's actually not a new water fountain, but for some reason it's now significantly cooler than it has been. Woot woot! (I may or may not have demanded a stop when we were only 2 miles from my house. LOL.) 
Thursday: 16 with 10 at MP. So, I totally cheated on this long run. I did 6 outside with humidity to the moon. Then I came in and did the MP miles on the treadmill. Sorry, I just could NOT deal with the weather yesterday. Sometimes you just need a break, and after last week's Struggle Bus ride during the long run, I needed some success. And yep, it was a success! I hit 7:24 for 10 miles fairly easily, making me realize how much our climate really effects my running this time of year. Of course, I was about to die of boredom on the treadmill. LOL.

Pretty time for me right now, as we just finished our last track series fundraiser for XC and immediately started XC camp with two other schools. Fun, but exhausting! I'd like to do a post on some of my favorite things soon. I haven't done one in years. 

Run Happy, friends!

July 20, 2015

Why Coach and Teach?

When they say having children changes everything, they are NOT kidding. Like I said in a previous post, going back to work was very difficult for me. (I still have a hard time leaving her.) With that came a lot of feelings about my profession and career that I wasn't sure how to handle.

I've always loved coaching. The past four years have been the most meaningful coaching XC. And I have loved track, too (10 years). However, most high school coaches can verify that the time commitment is huge and tough. To teach all day with little break and then to extend that work day coaching is a lot. Top that with lots of work to do on nights and weekends, since you aren't staying after school to work.  Not going to lie, I really, really, really wanted to quit. I hated being away from my baby. The 2nd truth is that my husband and I needed the money. Though small, my coaching supplement from the 2 sports is what pays our babysitter. So, I didn't really have a choice.

I also hit a lull in my teaching this year. I can't really explain it. We got a new principal that is really great. She has new ideas, is really positive, and easy to work with. My feelings have nothing to do with her. The special education situation still sucked, but that is supposed to be remedied this year. Whoo hook! My feelings remained. I did a LOT of soul searching toward the end of the year on WHY I wasn't satisfied. I came to two conclusions- the first is plain burn out. There's only so long you can go, work, push yourself before something has to give. That "something" was my teaching mojo. The 2nd conclusion I came to is that I didn't (still don't) feel like I'm making a difference. Year after year, the students' behavior gets worse and worse. What we accept in the classroom in regards to attitude and behavior is really sad. Students and their parents seem to care less and less. It really hit me in the face last year when I tried to improve our typically-chaotic Field Day and realized no one cared. Teachers, students, their parents have gotten so used to mediocre that a haphazard, chaotic Field Day didn't phase them! I also had a huge battle with a student and his parents. Aside from his terrible behavior, his grades went from B's to D's in a matter of weeks. I tried relentlessly to contact them. You see, they weren't worried. In fact, they reported that I was "harassing" them! (And yes, I did call a few times and left messages, along with a few emails, getting zero response.) All of it really beat me down. I began to wonder WHY I am doing this.  I want to Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire.  (That's a link to the best professional book I've ever read. I encourage all teachers to read it!)

I prayed about this situation. I wasn't sure if I needed a grade change, a school change, a career change. I just asked God to help me through this, and help me regain that fire and passion for teaching (or whatever profession I should be in.) In early June, the principal from another high school called me out of the blue. He straightforward offered me a job- Head XC and Track, teaching math at the high school level. I would have to take an additional test to get certified for math, but he knew I could pass. I told him to let me think on it, as I was about to leave for Seattle and needed time to process the offer.

As it would be, my team would receive the Brooks Booster Grant while I was in Seattle. I felt like that was a sign that I should stay. It possibly meant there is more for me and my team. There is more I can give, more I can do. The idea of a bigger and better team leaves me drooling sometimes. Realistically, my team will never be there, but we CAN improve. We have improved already, and hopefully the best is yet to come. I have to remind myself that coaching is about making a difference. Runners and coaches often chase the clock, the points, the numbers. It's okay for those things to drive us. That's healthy competition, but when we look deep in our heart, a bigger reason should be there. I'm searching for that reason in my teaching right now, but I've found it in my coaching.

In my short 4 years as head XC coach, I've watched teenagers run in a new pair of running shoes for the first time. I've seen kids complete their first 5K race. I've high-fived when they reached their longest training run yet. I cried with a girl over her mother missing yet another XC race b/c of her own partying lifestyle. That particular girl would later be completely abandoned by her mom and her dad would be left to raise two teenage daughters. I helped her sign up for college, I encouraged her to talk to a teacher when she was struggling in class. I watched another athlete sign a scholarship, becoming the first in her entire family to attend college. I walked a senior on the field for Senior Nigh when her family couldn't attend. These kids work on farms and at local markets all summer. Some work at the outlet mall. They are not lazy. They run, they work, they give their best at everything they do. So the running? Yeah, I do my best to coach them. I plan workouts, encourage, help pace, but the reason behind it runs so much deeper. A coach is a mentor. If you are a coach and don't truly KNOW your athletes, you are failing.

In 3 weeks I go back to work. I hope I can approach it with an energetic and positive attitude, giving my very best.

July 15, 2015

Marathon Training- 10 Day Update

Last we chatted about running, we discussed that I was building my own plan. Well, I did quite a bit of research the week before last. The most interesting new (to me) training philosophy I read about was from Canova. Very cool stuff, but he's Italian; so some of the workouts took a LOT of mathematical calculations to figure out. In the end, I decided to return to my old buddy, Pete Pfitzinger. If you recall, he led me to my marathon PR. However, this time, I won't be doing his highest mileage plan. In fact, I won't be following his plan exactly. I will be taking the key workouts from each week and his long run progression (over the training cycle), but filling in my own easy run days and doing the workouts on the days that work best for me. 

Before everyone decided they are coaching and teaching Marathons 101, please keep in mind that I know some of my practices aren't going to be well-received, like running doubles or splitting up certain higher mileage days or back to back "longish" runs. Well, guess what! That's the beauty of being self-coached! I've done 35 marathons, and I'm pretty sure I know how to NOT kill myself. LOL. I want to ENJOY marathon training my way, while setting a reasonable goal for myself. Here is a look at the past 10 days.

M: 8 mile progression run from easy (E) pace (8:34) down to goal marathon pace (GMP) (7:24)
T: 6 a.m. E, 6 p.m. w/ stroller
W: 9 w 4 at Tempo (T). T miles were 6:58, 6:58, 6:59, 6:53.
T: 5 w/ stroller
F: 4 w/ stroller
S: 15 miles at 8:28 pace
S: 10 w/ stroller
M: 5 E
T: 5 E am., 5 p.m. w/ stroller
W: 15 miles (7:55 ave) w/ 8 at GMP. GMP miles were 7:21, 7:23, 7:23, 7:24, 7:28, 7:26, 7:27, 7:16

Positives about the past 10 days- My workouts were outside, not on the treadmill. In case no one knew, it basically feels like an African jungle here. HOT & HUMID. Accomplishing these workouts despite the weather feels like something. Squishy has turned into a super good "rider." I had to wake her up early two days to go run, and she was a real champ!

Negatives about the past 10 days- My legs are not recovering like I want them to. I'm fine; it's just they feel heavy. I know that's a part of marathon training, but I didn't expect it so soon. (Only 4 days between long runs is not ideal; I know that. My husband has a fishing tournament this weekend, and I didn't want to have to do my whole LR on the treadmill. And Wednesday is the only day that I don't run with the high school kids.) My stroller is leading to the right. I'm going to try to realign it tonight, but it's aggravating when you are doing double digit runs. I also have a callous on my hand from the stroller. However, that's kind of badass. LOL. 

Truth: I probably would've quit early on my tempo and GMP runs if I hadn't been running them with Sam & Lizzie. They definitely felt hard. Sometimes it makes me sad to look at the data of where I am now compared to where I used to be. However, I wouldn't trade this place in my life for anything. 

How is everyone's training going? Everyone powering through the heat? 

Run Happy, friends! 

July 12, 2015

Being Reached and Reaching Out

I grew up in the church. I have very positive memories from vacation bible schools, youth groups, and mission trips (as an adult). One thing that I'm not proud to admit is that I gave up on my faith in God during my divorce. I struggled a LOT with understanding WHY my husband that I trusted, loved, and shared vows under God would deceive, lie, cheat, and ruin everything we had together. Knowing what I know now, I can see that my faith was so shallow that I viewed a lot of Christianity as black and white- you do "good," act "good," and you will be happy and breeze through life without a care. I can't take credit for any of the lessons I learned or faith I gained after my divorce. I owe those to God himself, and the help of a wonderful Christian counselor that I saw for over a year. And I am a work in progress. I still have a LOT of growing to do in my faith.

Aside from my ex's adultery, the way the people of the church treated me after that hurt. Instead of feeling comforted at church, I felt awkward and outcast. No one blamed me, obviously, but I think people just didn't know how to reach out. They didn't know what to say. So I quit church.

I since moved and have began attending church again. However, it's different, and up until now I've liked the difference. I chose the biggest church in town. I chose a church where no one would know me, where I could hear God's word, worship, and not feel awkward or different. I'm not ready for people to know how much I've been hurt or how much I struggle with faith. And at this church, it's easy to hide, and I still get exactly what I want- worship and a meaningful message.

Until the Cry Room. Squishy LOVES the music at the church. It's dark, there are neat lights, and the band plays. She has a great time, until the sermon starts. Then she does what every baby does- fidgets, fusses, and wants to play/sleep/eat (whatever, but NOT sit there). Thankfully, the church has a Cry Room where moms and dads can take their babies, but still see/hear the sermon (one way glass and sound system). I've met a few moms in there that have been nice. For the most part, I try not to talk too much, as I'm trying to listen to the sermon. However, last week I got such a bad taste in my mouth. Two moms were already in the Cry Room when we went in. And they gossiped the ENTIRE time. I tried to keep to myself and not be nosey and listen, but then I realized they were talking about church staff. UGH! And the gossip went on and on and ON. It was so bad that later when I read Sam's blog about the sermon, I had no memory of it at all. I left and had to examine why I am so bothered by this.

Okay, so we are all human. That is why we put our faith in GOD and HIS WORD, and not humans, because we are all sinners and flawed. After I got past that, I realized that deep down I DO want someone to reach out to me. I DO want something more meaningful when I go to church. And hearing that gossip reminded me of where I'd been and the hurt I'd felt. Conflict- the church that I was happily hiding in was making me mad b/c these hens were cackling gossip instead of reaching out to me. And I sort of felt like one of them should, considering she is the spouse of a church staff member.

Cue the possible new church. Wouldn't you know that my old minister and his family moved here and took a job at a local church? And I LOVE this family. In fact, if you read back to my blog when it first started, I helped train his wife for her first half marathon. I was all set to attend the possible new church this morning, but admittedly feeling a little nervous. My old minister had been the one to baptize my ex. He had been one of the counselor's we saw after my ex's first affair. He knows EVERYTHING. And vulnerability is so scary. I'm past the point of caring that people know about that. Heck, it was the talk of the entire town; so it's no secret now. It's the part of standing up and saying, yeah, I still struggle sometimes (and this person knows you so well that they can see it). And I was secretly THRILLED when Squishy went down for a big nap, causing us to miss church. Phew, one more week to get these demons in my head figured out.

And what does reaching out have to do with anything? We all want to be reached. Sometimes (like my church situation) you don't even know you want to be reached. This is an inner battle that I'm facing that I could use a hand with, but I was too stubborn to admit it. So I just hid. It applies to running, too!

Sometimes we look at workouts on paper and they seem kind of scary. And you if you haven't felt that, you are choosing training plans that are too easy! For this time of year, speed work and tempos are a little scary because of the heat. It takes real mental fortitude to gear up for one. Sam, Lizzie, and I rallied to nail our tempo workouts Wednesday morning. Why? Because we had each other. Because we reached out and gave each other a hand. Nothing feels better than to know that your running partners are struggling, too, and there's a non-verbal "I got your back" feeling during the workout. Sometimes you need someone to say, "Hey, you want to run/ workout together?" And it's SO much easier just having someone else there!

Reaching out is true for motherhood, too. Truth- I feel lonely in motherhood at times. I LOVE being a mom, and it's the most important thing to me, but sometimes it feels lonely. I don't have many friends with toddlers or babies, and our families aren't able to be very involved/helpful right now. And that's why I love The Little Gym. Even though it's just about an hour a week, it's a time where I get to be around other moms. Most of the time we are so busy with the babies that we don't really talk, but I get to see other moms interact with their children and often we share knowing glances or laughs. This also sounds silly, but I love Instagram for that reason! Instagram is where all my favorite moms are found. Seriously, I've found so much comfort in just knowing other moms are having some of the same challenges and joys and experiences.

In conclusion to this massive reflective post, since I realized this week that I DO want to be reached, that I NEED to be reached, I've been practicing reaching out more. I went and hung out with the new teacher at our school, and I stayed a few minutes after Little Gym this week and talked to one of the new moms. In faith, running, and motherhood, I am a work in progress. We all need to be reached in some way, yet we can all reach out to others.

Run Happy, friends!

July 6, 2015

Firecracker 5K

Five months was the last time I raced a 5K. And until last week, it had been 2 months since I had done a speed workout. Perfect time to jump into a 5K in blistering heat and humidity, right?

The idea of the Firecracker 5K started as the idea that I would take a few runners from my team and just run with some of them. Then the kids slowly backed out until only one girl remained. She originally wanted me to pace her in the race, as she's had difficultly running even splits in workouts. A few days before the race, she informed me that she wanted to see what she could do without me. Okay, then. So, I guess I would race it and use the results as baseline data for a POSSIBLE upcoming marathon training cycle.

Hindsight, I started back too far from the start line. I had to do a LOT of weaving in the first mile. My friend Lizzie was also running, and I knew about what she would run, as she's a pretty consistent 5Ker. I settled in a bit behind her, feeling our times would be similar. Due to all the weaving, my first mile split on the Garmin was WAY before the mark. (This course is certified; so I know it's legit distance.) And this right here is why I hate the Garmin. I seriously have worn the thing less than 10 times since getting it in January.

Mile 1: 6:31 (but I think really around 6:38)
I felt pretty decent and decided to pick it up a bit to catch a girl I haven't seen in awhile that I wanted to say hello to. I talked to her for a bit and then passed her. We were in straight sun at this point, and I was cooking.

Mile 2: 6:37
Even though I was dying, I passed a LOT of people. I guess everyone else was dying more than me. LOL. In fact, the entire race, only ONE person passed me, a teenage boy. WIN for that!

Mile 3: 6:42
Straight ahead the final mile before the final turn/hill to finish. I felt like I was fading, I just told myself to try to hold on. I did get some motivation as I saw a fairly large pack of ladies in front of me, and I was gaining on them. (Spoiler: didn't catch them.)

Final 0.18: 1:06
TIME: 20:57

Unfortunately, the official times for this race are the clock times, not chip time; so my official time was 21:01, due to me starting a bit back from the start line.  EDITED: They corrected the results, giving me my 20:57 and I finished 2nd in the AG (instead of 3rd) and 6th OA (instead of 8th). Woot woot for chip timing!

My high schooler ran okay. She faded a lot, but the heat was pretty intense. We have been running at 6 a.m. when it's in the lower 70s. This was in full sun at close to mid 80s.

As for my time, I'm okay with it. I know better than to expect spectacular results on un-spectacular training. AND… BIG NEWS… I'm writing myself a marathon training plan! Yep, coach is coaching herself for an upcoming marathon.  My plan is going to be more of a goal list. Each week, I will have certain goals for myself regarding workout(s) and the long run. I'm not going to set any of the workouts on a calendar, but just keep them "open" in a week. This will allow me flexibility for all that I have going on with motherhood and coaching. I'm still in the final research phases of making my plan.

Here are some pics from the race.
Daddy & Squishy waiting for awards

Lizzie and I with our awards. I was 3rd AG and she was 2nd (different age groups, though).
We really enjoyed the rest of our day with hubby's family. Squishy had a big time swimming with her cousins, and I actually BAKED. LOL. Enjoy some highlight pics from our 4th celebration!
Run Happy, friends!

June 27, 2015

Being at Peace With a Slower Me

For years and years I chased a clock, always trying to get faster. Sometimes I succeeded; sometimes I failed. I had many great moments, adventures, and life lessons surrounding that chase. I have always been blessed with a competitive spirit and a healthy body. Through my ups and downs in life- divorce, father's accident, remarriage, becoming a mother, including ups and downs in my career, the one constant was the chase of the clock. I never let up. Sometimes the times on the clock were parallel to whatever sad/happy I had going on, and other times I just got lucky or unlucky. I will never regret that chase.

But for now, that chase is on hold. Just on hold, not forgotten, and I will return. And here is why.

I was fortunate to bounce back fairly quickly from pregnancy/birth, even thought I didn't run the final 6 weeks. The fire to become fast again was lit. I worked SO HARD training for Boston. Aside from the physical aspects of birthing a baby, the motherhood/career thing is no easy task to balance. I was excited to run Boston. I set 3 goals, and I was able to meet my B goal. My Boston finish was different from any marathon I'd ever run. I was completely indifferent to the time on the clock. Honest to goodness, I did not care. And I had trained for this race! Trained hard! I should've been emotionally invested. So when my coach started talking to me about my next goals, I was just cringing inside at his words. I absolutely positively did NOT want to train. Let's clarify. I LOVE, ADORE, CHERISH my running. However, I was sick of the training. Sick of the schedules, sick of the speed work, sick trying to be something that I didn't even know if I wanted to be. I felt like I had spent the past 6 months being stretched in 500 different directions. And I thought back to a conversation I had with one of my besties that will remain nameless.

One spouse felt like they were getting the "leftovers" of the other spouse. The other spouse was busy, busy, busy running, working, taking care of basic life stuff. And it got me thinking- my daughter and husband were getting "leftover" me. And that broke my heart. Getting up at 4 am to run, then working all day teaching, followed by a few hours at the track coaching, I came home absolutely beat. I was not giving them my best. I could barely survive that way.

Squishy and I 
And my daughter- she is so awesome. Cute, perfect, cuddly, personable, lively little bundle of joy that was getting a leftover mother. So, I pulled the plug. There would be no more training to be fast, no more goal races, just me- running whatever, whenever I felt like, focusing on being the best MOM I can be.

And it has been wonderful! And slowly the fire is coming back. I'm learning to balance life. Squishy and I run nearly every day together with her in the stroller. I do mostly easy runs, but the past two weeks I have done 3 speed workouts on my own free will. LOL.

Will I ever run a 3:00 marathon again? Maybe not. Will I ever be who I used to be? Probably not, and I don't want to. I'll take being a mother over being fast any day. I know tons of mothers that came back faster post-children. YAY for them! That's truly remarkable, and I admire that. I'm just not there yet, and I'm okay with that (finally). Someday soon I'll train seriously again. I'm already eyeing fall marathons, as I still love my mileage! LOL. For now I am focusing on being a #1 Mom and coach. Running is still there, like an old friend, but not really a priority right now.

Squishy loves swinging and running with momma! 

June 22, 2015

Brooks PR Invitational

As you might know, I’ve been sponsored by Brooks Running for 6 years. I started in the Brooks ID program as a Bluestreak member, members that are chosen for their running performances. Not that I was a total speedster, but I did win many local races and placed in larger ones. One or two years later, Brooks did away with that area of the program, and I moved into the Inspiring Coaches category. It shifted the focus from my performance to my job. Brooks began providing my team with a swag kit each year, as well as continuing gear pack for me and a stipend to spend on ourselves through the website.

In 2011, I attended my first ID Coaches Clinic weekend. It was an amazing weekend in a fancy resort just outside of Seattle. Aside from the generous gear pack, it was a chance for me to bond and communicate with other coaches, especially female coaches. (There are no other female head coaches in my county, and very few even in our entire section.)
2013, I attended my second ID weekend. Once again, I was able to connect with other coaches and gain ideas for my team.

This year, I had pretty much decided that I wouldn’t make the trip out. Flights were very expensive, and as you’ve previously read, I’m attempting to simplify and declutter the chaos in my life. Then I received an email asking me to chaperone the Brooks PR Invitational Track Meet. The trip would be all expense paid, with agreement that I would help chaperone the teens that would be competing in the meet. Hubby was supportive, agreed it sounded like a great experience; so I said yes.
Leaving my Squishy was HARD! I missed her so much. Aside from that, the weekend was beyond description of cool. It was a bit different in the past, where I spend a lot of the weekend goofing off with other coaches. We were actually WORKING this time. We arrived Wednesday afternoon and after a quick orientation, Brooks treated us to a Mariner’s Game. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I got some good pics for hubby, who played a year of college ball after HS. And I had a fun time socializing with the other chaperones.
 After hitting the nearby bike trail for an 8 miler that morning with one of the Brooks gurus, we worked most of the day helping check in athletes and coaches. Thursday night, after meeting our groups (I was in charge of Girls 400M) we took them to the 1-year old Brooks HQ. Whether or not you wear Brooks, this is most likely the coolest running store you would ever visit. Not only is it a store, but it’s where the design team does their work. We got to tour offices, see some sneak peeks of new shoes and clothes, and see some memorabilia from famous running events, like Scott Jurek’s WS trophy. The HQ has an excellent balcony where the athletes and chaperones ate dinner, followed by some great picture opportunities with the beautiful Seattle skyline.

Friday morning, I met another ID Coach for 8 miles on the same bike path, followed by 3 miles with the Girls 2 Mile group. Then the other chaperones and I took groups back and forth from the breakfast hall and the track where some of the athletes wanted to do some running and drills. Friday afternoon, we took the athletes on the famous Duck Tour. I love this! We had so much fun touring Seattle on a bus/boat! After that, the athletes had free time, but I helped one of the gurus heat press names on the back of the athletes’ uniforms for the next day. In the process I met most of the Brooks Beasts team, and got to watch Flo Track, Mile Split, and ESPN interview some of the top athletes. Friday night was the Inspiring Coaches Award Dinner. This was a semi-formal event, with delicious food and a beautiful venue. The top 13 finalists were presented, and we got to hear their stories. Most of the presentations brought tears to my eyes. These are coaches that have faced much adversity in their careers, yet somehow they have managed to thrive and inspire. I know it inspired me to be the best coach and teacher that I can! In addition to the presentation of the finalists and eventually the winner, The winners of this program were announced. AND MY SCHOOL GOT CHOSEN!!!!!!!!! I hope to come back to this in another post or two, but our school receiving this grant is truly an answered prayer. We have struggled so much financially over the past few years. And for anyone that works with children of poverty, you know all the stigma and self-esteem issues they face. And while it’s “just shoes and gear” and “just money” to some looking on, to our team it’s vitality. I assume that most of you reading this are runners, but can you imagine NEVER have a new pair of running shoes? When it was time to lace up, you put on shoes that were previously worn and you didn’t even pick out? The shoes are your size, but may not feel the best on your feet? CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT? And then there’s me over here studying for my CDL in attempt to save money by driving the team bus myself. I will be eternally grateful for Brooks and all that it’s done for me and my athletes. Friday night was an early night for the athletes; so some of the coaches and I went to a neighboring establishment for some socializing. It’s kind of funny when coaches or teachers get together. We attempt to take a “break” from the daily grind, but end up talking about running, coaching, or our athletes. LOL! I love it, though. It’s a time when I can pick coaches’ brains about what I can do better for my team!
Saturday morning, we were up early for a 10 miler around Green Lake. 
Then we gathered the troops and headed to the track. It’s a good thing that track coaches are running and track nerds, because we all completely geeked out at the intensity, talent, and caliber of racing that we got to witness, which was basically the top runners in the country, all competing in one meet. And we didn’t just get to witness it, we were IN it. On the infield, helping athletes, total track access. It was crazy. I saw the world record in HS Girls 100M broken, and other athletes run times that were in the top 10 in national record. That night after a recovery period, we took the athletes to the Huskey Stadium. They enjoyed dinner and a band, while the chaperones ate upstairs in an area of peace and quiet. The athletes and chaperones also got to play on the turf field while a highlight video from the meet played on the huge screen. We got back pretty late from that, and most of us had early flights. So, I checked on the athletes and went to bed. This morning I ran Green Lake again (7 miles) and now am headed home!

The biggest gain I take from this weekend, aside from complete humbleness and gratitude to Brooks, is that these events always open my eyes to what “could be” for me and my team. Part of being a successful coach is aiming high, never settling, shooting for the stars. Every coach I meet and athlete I’m involved with teaches me something, gives me things to think about, or ideas on how to improve my program. I intend for my next post to be about some of my short and long term goals, but right now I need to let the awesomeness of this weekend absorb into my brain.
Thank you. Brooks Sports, for being more than a running company. I am forever grateful!

Run Happy, friends!