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October 2008

Open Mic Friday: October ExtraOrdinary Runner Award Winner

Open_mic_friday Welcome and congratulations to Lana!

Lana is our October ExtraOrdinary Runner Award winner for her story of why she runs.  As our winner, she received a $100 gift certificate to OnLine Shoes! She originally shared her story on her blog, The Fire Inside, in October and shared it again with the Lounge after she became a member.  This weekend she takes on her goal - the Florida Ironman race.   Take time to read her story and then drop by her blog or profile to cheer her on.

Go Lana!

Tell us about your post, which is now an ExtraOrdinary Story (and Winner!) in the Lounge.

I went out for my final 20 mile run in the this IM training that morning, and when the alarm went off I wasn't motivated at all.  It was dark, I was running alone, and I just wasn't feeling it at all.  But knowing there was no where else in the day to squeeze in a 20 mile run, I got myself out the door and took off.  The first few miles were a little spooky and lonely, but the weather was great, and soon the sun came up, and I just felt amazing.  I couldn't get over how awesome it is that you can not want anything to do with runningLana1_2  when you walk out the door, but once you get going and you realize the potential you have inside yourself, what started off as something that feels miserable can turn into an absolutely amazing experience.  And I recalled so many times in my life when I have given in to those "but I don't want to" voices in my head...and who know what I have missed out on.  If I had listened to those voices that morning I wouldn't have experienced the beautiful sunrise, the crisp fresh air, and all the other wonderful things about running in the fall.  It just hit me really hard, and when I sat down to post the words just came pouring out.

Why did you start running?

I started running in 2003, basically just as extension of an effort to start exercising and lose some weight.  I had been changing my diet and going to the gym for a few months, when I decided to hop on the treadmill one day. I think I ran about a half mile or so, then a week or two later I bumped it up to a mile.  I kept at it, off and on, but I didn't really catch the running bug until I entered a 5k in the fall of 2004.  The adrenaline and everything about the whole race scene just captured me, and I've been running (and later added triathlons) ever since. 

Tell us about IronMan Florida, your upcoming race.

I decided to give triathlon a try for the first time in 2005.  I hadn't ridden a bike since I was a kid, and I had never swum competitively, but from what I could tell it looked like everyday, ordinary people out there doing these things.  So I bought a bike, hopped in the pool and just started doing the best I could.  I ran across the IM Florida web page a time or Imvisor two, but I didn't seriously consider it.  It seemed like something impossible at the time.  However, after getting ready for a sprint, and then continuing to train and get ready for more and more distance, I realized that my body could do a whole lot more than I thought it could.  I trained for and completed the Country Music Marathon in '06, and I rully realized that anything could be accomplished by taking it one step at a time.  I started increasing my distances and knowledge of endurance sports, and then one day I was sitting at work last fall, thinking about what I'd try to accomplish next, and I just said, "Screw it, I'm doing Ironman Florida."  So I went down and volunteered for the '07 race, signed up for the '08 race, and have been training since January for this thing.

Tell us about your training for the race.

I started training in January.  I had actually been training for the Rock 'n Roll Arizona Marathon during the fall and through Christmas, and I finally got a sub 4 marathon there in Janurary.  So I took about a week off and then started training for the Gulf Coast Half Iron Triathlon.  It was in May, and it was actually my first half iron distance, too.  I did much better than I expected at that!  I took it easy for a few weeks, and then started a 20 week plan towards Ironman Floriday.  The training basically consisted of about 6 days a week.  There were usually 2 - 3 workouts per week in each sport.  I do most of training in the early hours before work, so a lot of it had to be done in the dark.  I have a lot of friends who train with me a lot, so that makes it easier.  There are some days I don't think I could have gotten out of the bed for that long run if I didn't have someone waiting me.  The training was very manageable up until September and October.  That's when the weekend long workouts consisted of things like 5000yd swim followed by a 100 mile bike, and a 1 - 5 mile run.  I don't work on Fridays, so I would start swimming at 5:30 a.m. and try my best to get everything done in time to pick up my kids from school.  I thought it was pretty tough at the time, but in retrospect it was only for a few weeks...and that's not too bad to be able to complete a goal that you once never dreamed of.  I had about a 3 week taper, and now I should be ready to go!   

What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?

The sub 4 hour marathon.  What you may not know is that I trained to do a sub 4 in the Rocket City Marathon last December.  I was trained and ready, but I ended up having a really terrible day and ran like a 4:45 or something.  I was terribly dehydrated, threw up at mile 19, and I walked most of the last 7 miles. But I knew I had a sub 4 in me, so I went home and signed up for the Arizona Rock 'n Roll marathon.  I think a lot of people thought I was crazy, but I flew out there and ran a 3:56!  I was thrilled, and made a mental note to myself to never give up when you know you can do something...we all get knocked down, but those who keep getting back up bring home the prize!

How do you balance the demands of training with the needs of your family?

First off, I do most all of my training in the wee hours of the morning while my kids are still asleep.  Secondly, I have a very helpful husband and parents.  In the times that everything can't be done in the morning, they are always willing to step up and help me out.

What is your favorite/can't do without gear?

Body Glide - no doubt about it.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not training, racing or blogging?

I like to watch my kids play sports and help coach their teams.  I like to mountain bike and go camping.  And I'm always up for a game of Texas Hold'em.  I'm not much of a TV fan, except for the news.   

What is your favorite quote or saying?

The aim of life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting WOW! WHAT A RIDE!

Take It and Run Thursday: Running Super Powers

Take_it_and_run_thursday Welcome to Take It and Run Thursday! 

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is ....   Choose Your Superpower.  This week's TIaRT theme comes from Runatthemouth.  She suggested it would be fund to find out, "what superpower runners would have if they could?  Sure, speed would be nice, but it seems like as a group we would get more creative than that.  A shield to keep the rain out.  The ability to stay warm or cool.  I could see triathletes wanting to have Superman's trick of instantly changing clothes in handy phone booth."  With Halloween just around the corner, it seemed only fitting that we bring our wishes, imagination and even costumes to next week's TIaRT.  Share your most imagined running superpower in words (or even pictures).

Just fill in your name/title of your post and your URL below.

Next weeks theme is ....  Running Through Transitions.  There is a great saying that goes something like, "It's not the change that kills you, it is the transition."  With daylight savings time around the corner for most us, as well as the looming change in season or temperatures, precipation we thought it might be useful to share tips on how you survive and thrive through transitions.  And you don't need to limit your remarks to weather changes, you can also include transitions from training for a race to running for run, changing jobs, changes in family situations, changes in physical fitness or weight, transitions in goals, aging, changes in gear, running routes, moving, etc, etc....the list of changes we runners go through is endless.  How do you keep running through changes and transitions.

Click here for a link to all the great posts on Running Super Powers.

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If I Only Had This Super Power...

When Runatthemouth suggested we share our dream super power for Take It and Run Thursday - I was stumped.  There are so many things I don't have with my running - super speed, super endurance, super strength....a long list rambled in my mind.   How would I pick only one?

But then, inspiration struck!  My photos from the Des Moines Half Marathon arrived in my Img_0785 email.  And then in mail.  Staring back at me was the picture of a red faced, sweaty, mom runner who didn't nearly look like the Runners World cover pose that I tried to strike in front of the marathon photo evil photographers.

It then became obvious.   My super power and identify would be....  Super Spandex.   I would have the power to transform from a regular mom runner in conservative running pants and running shirts to .... tra la la... Super Spandex!  A "cover model" like runner who could make even spandex look good!   My power would be held in my snazzy spandex outfit.   And when I put it on....

Gone would be the flabby middle to be covered up with long running shirts.  Wisked away would be less than lean legs and character building dimples.   Kaboom would go the under arm flapping.   Woosh would go the extra chin.   Zip would go the extra layer of warmth protection on my back side.

In in the place of my everyday runner body would be come to-die-for-6 pack abs, tear Paula_r dropped shaped quads, long and lean arms, and a hard as nails butt.   

Oh yes, my transformation from average Amy runner to Super Spandex would allow me to now look like even Paula even when I still ran like average Amy.   

Ahhhh...it's such a nice dream.

We are looking forward to hearing about your running super powers tomorrow in Take It and Run Thursday.

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A Super Hero for Runners

Super_hero_starter_kit The doorbell rings.  Decked in costumes, they step into the house.  I hand out those evil mini candy bars.  And one kid—in tights and with metallic lightening bolts on his chest and legs—darts away before the rest of the kids. 

“That kids in a hurry,” I mention.  “By the way,” I ask, “who’s he dressed as?”

“Oh, he’s Captain Get-Your-Butt-Out-the-Door, super hero to morning runners,”  they explain.

Sigh.  I remember when I had those super powers. 

Able to spring out of bed in a single bound!

More powerful than the seduction of the snooze button!

Champion of getting your butt out the door on cold mornings!

Yes, for most of my life I was able to get myself out the door every morning for my run.  Not just make it out the door, but bounding with enthusiasm before my feet hit the ground. Even a poor run was not enough to keep me from getting up and out the next day.

Lately, since my marathon, I've caved in to eek out every last second under the covers. Instead of bolting out of bed, I throw out excuse after excuse until one sticks.

I can run over your lunch hour...

I think there is some tendonitis developing...

Don’t overdo it…

The experts say I should still be recovering…

Then I recoil back under the comforter and put off running once again.

Kid_flash_2 This has been my routine for the last few weeks, and now it feels like I  need superhuman powers just to get out the door.  What happened?  Where are the days when I wouldn't be denied my run?  When I owned the streets of my neighborhood at 5:00 a.m.?

Truthfully, it's getting better. This morning I enjoyed that sort of brisk, energy-fuelling early run that used to be routine.  Maybe I'm busting out of my slump.  Could those morning super hero runner powers be returning?  Maybe I'll soon be Captain Get-Your-Butt-Out-The Door!

And besides, that trick or treater who bolted out the door...what’s he got that I don’t have?   Oh yeah, that really cool costume.  Sigh.

Starter kit for super heros on Flickr by jasstep

Kid flash on Flickr by alexlousada

FREE Stuff Giveaway: A new hydration system by Body Bottle

Introducing runners to new and cool running resources is one of our favorite privileges at Runners’ Lounge.  Whether it’s been wine for runners, gifts for runners, race apparel, it’s just exciting to connect runners with running stuff.

The advice you contributed last week has been republished around the Know-How section.  Take a minute to read some of last week’s useful and interesting advice.

Ed contributed on wearing headphones

The Laminator on rocking the 20 miler

Laura on math in the runner’s dimension

And the winner came up Diva on how to run further.  For her contribution, Diva won a boxed set of cards and a t-shirt from Banana Blossom Press.  What a great fit for Diva, who's already inspiring and supportive to the running community.  Now, it’s just a matter of time before she's passing along her insights and encouragement in her new cards!

Again, a special thanks to Maria and Laura at Banana Blossom Press for creating and giving away their insightful, humorous, and sassy cards that recognize the milestones and situations that we face every day in our running. 

This week's FREE Stuff Giveaway Partner: Body Bottle!

Body_bottle_3 John and his team at Body Bottle have created a comfortable and convenient water bottle system designed for runners who desire a hands-free, pocket-free and backpack-free way to carry liquids. 

An alternative to carrying water on your back or waist, the Body Bottle attaches to an arm strap via wide velco pieces designed to minimize “bounceage.”   To drink from the Body Bottle, you simply “rip” the Body Bottle off in a single motion without breaking stride. When done hydrating, simply re-attach the Body Bottle to the arm.  No precision or effort involved. 

To keep you hydrated, Body Bottle is giving away its bottle system to two separate winners.  To win, simply contribute this week.  All Loungers who contribute to the Giveaway Question between October 27th and November 1st will be eligible to win.

Runners’ Lounge will select and announce the winners on November 3rd.

This week's Giveaway Question:

What are you looking for in a running podcast?

Well as you may have guessed, Runners' Lounge will soon be launching a podcast series.  So we want your input.  What would you like to see in a podcast?

  • What gets you jazzed in a running podcast?
  • How long or short do you like to listen to?
  • What types of topics, themes, discussions, or formats do you prefer?
  • What are you looking for?  Information?  Inspiration?  A companion voice?
  • What's missing in the world of running podcasts? 

Even if you don't regularly listen to podcasts—or at all—you still get the concept, so just tell us what you'd like to listen to.  We'll appreciate your creative suggestions!

Runners' Lounge wants its podcast to be the running community’ podcast, so we’re seeking your suggestions to make it useful and interesting to you. 

So do yourself a favor: Go to the Lounge and leave your ideas today in the forum to become eligible! 


   

Open Mic Friday: Laura

Open_mic_friday Welcome to Laura!  You know her best from her blog, Absolut(ly) Fit.  She has been on the blogging scene for only a year and the running scene only two.  But in just 2 years, she has taken both the marathon and the blogosphere by storm.  Her current goal is to be the youngest female to run a marathon in each of the 50 states.   And we have no doubt she will. 

Why did you start running?

Because I couldn't do it. Let me explain with a few anecdotes. In college, I had heard of a program called Teach for America (check out their website at teachforamerica.com if you dno't know what it is), but mistakenly thought it was just a program that anyone could get accepted to and do if they weren't ready/qualified for a "real" job. I recently read a phenomenal book called "Relentless Pursuit" that profiled several TFA teachers at their school in LA, and was blown
away to hear how prestigious the program is and all the challenges that teachers face. The book emphasizes howRunning_for_beer_in_the_2007_boiler  difficult the job is, and when I recently spoke with a TFA recruiter and mentioned I had read the book, she groaned, and hastened to assure me that my experience might not be quite as tough and that the experiences profiled were very extreme in the amount of challenges (particularly violence) they faced. I replied that it was exactly those challenges that had me interested in the job! While you might think I'm pretty conservative if you met me (I often come off as a very rule-abiding yuppie), all it takes is someone telling me that I can't handle something to make me try. Another great example would be when I signed up for a riflery and marksmanship course at college. It was taught by an actual army drill
sergeant, and we learned how to shoot M16s. I walked in the first day dressed in head-to-toe pink and introduced myself by saying that I had never even seen a gun except on TV but that I was excited to learn!  Very Elle Woods of me, I know.

What is the most challenging part of your running?

I'd have to say it's continuing the challenge that keeps me running. When I first started running, I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world if I could complete a 5K. When I did, I told everyone I knew, whipping out the digital pictures and proudly announcing my Finishing_my_first_marathon_and_div 33:00 finish as if it were a world record. Six months later, I worked my way up to a 5 miler, and ran the race having never run more than 4 miles in training (please note that I use the term "training" loosely, to mean the day after any alcohol-filled party where I inevitably developed a vodka-gut and tried to burn it off by going for a run). I just kept going longer and longer, and I still remember my mom thinking I was going to die when I set my sights on a 10 miler in the Adirondack Mountains! Each new race is another chance for me to get that amazing rush at realizing I've gone farther or faster than before, and now that I've started my 50 state challenge, it's a huge boost just to add another state to the collection even if
I don't PR. As for my mom, she's finally learned to take my crazy running in stride and doesn't totally flip out when I announce my intentions to do yet another marathon. I'm not sure how she'll adapt when I start going for ultras though, which I'm sure are in my future
someday.

What are your running goals?

I am attempting to run a marathon in each of the 50 states by my 25th birthday in July 2010; I'd also like to run a marathon in all 10 Canadian provinces, but am focusing on the states for now. So far this year I've completed eight marathons in seven states and one province; I have another province coming up this weekend (Niagara Falls International Marathon, which will count for Ontario), and am hoping to complete at least three more states by the end of the year so that I qualify to join the official 50 States Marathon Club
(http://www.50statesmarathonclub.com).

The current record for the youngest female to run a marathon in each of the 50 states is held by Liesl Fox, who completed her 50th state at 28 years and 10 months. That gives me a bit of leeway, as I'm only 23!  While setting a world record would be really cool (and pretty unbelievable for me, the former sports-hater), the main reason for this challenge is to give me a reason to visit places I might otherwise never get to see. So far I haven't been disappointed! My favorite marathon to date is actually where I got my personal worst:
Run With the Horses in Green River, Wyoming. I had never been to that part of the West, and I was absolutely shocked at how beautiful it was. The scenery, amazing pre-race dinner, and friendliness of the runners more than made up for the fact that I got injured and had to walk much of the course. I look forward to running all different courses and environments as I traverse the states. 

What is your running dream?

I said that I'll run ultras, but it's not even that I really want to run 50 or 100 miles Ringing_in_the_new_year_with_runnin (honestly, that sounds kind of long and boring) - it's that I want to keep getting the feeling of achieving the impossible and doing something I didn't think I could do. I've never been a daredevil, and I'm usually pretty calculated in the risks I take, but there's just something about running that makes me want to push my limits and see just how far I can take this thing.

How do you fit running into your busy life? 

Time management is definitely an issue. I've been one of the busiest people I know, even from a very young age. When I was an adolescent, I was a serious dancer, and managed to squeeze in 15+ hours/week of ballet classes while still attending school full-time; in my teens, it was community/professional theater that took up my time (usually about 20 hours/week of rehearsals); in college, I kept myself busy by taking more than a full course load. One semester, I took 21 credits when a "normal" schedule was 12-15. Despite
transferring colleges and changing majors drastically (from drama at NYU to industrial and labor relations at Cornell), I could have graduated a full year early (I opted not to because I wanted to keep studying and learning as much as possible). Basically, I thrive on being busy - if I don't have a huge to-do list, I'm very unhappy and also end up procrastinating on what I DO have! There are certainly times that I kick back and relax, but even that often has a "check the box" aspect for me (e.g. catching up on my favorite blogs, staying up
to date on my favorite TV shows, reading all the library books I've checked out). My personality is very go-go-go, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Who is your running hero?

Hands down that would be Dean Karnazes. I first heard his name two years ago, when I Meeting_dean_karnazes_and_getting_t was running once a week for 3-5 miles at most and he was doing the North Face Endurance Challenge. I thought he was absolutely the craziest person I had ever heard of! Who knew that one year later, I'd be embarking upon my own crazy 50 state challenge?! I had the opportunity to meet Dean briefly at the expo for the San Francisco Marathon, and it was one of the greatest compliments I've received to date when he told me told me that he thought I was crazy.  :)

Why did you start your blog?

The first running blog I ever came across was called "Jogging for Normal People." I don't even remember how I came across it, but I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever read (check out http://www.thatsfit.com/2007/04/10/jogging-for-normal-people-admiting-the-truth/ for one of my favorite posts). When I started reading it, the author had already abandoned it, so that led me in search of other running blogs, and one of those that I started frequently reading was Non-Runner Nancy's. She announced a virtual race and I decided to participate, but when she posted my results as "Laura the Lurker" because I didn't have a blog, I was so embarrassed by my new moniker (which sounded to me like some kind of pedophile who hangs out in dark alleys and lures small children with promises of candy) that I decided to create my own blog. At first I had the idea of filling it with tons
of advice and how-tos on fitness and weight loss, but it eventually became a personal blog where I posted about anything and everything.  It's funny: I've gotten a lot more positive feedback from posting about my (mis)adventures than I did when I was posting what I thought was more professional advice!

Which running bloggers have you met and which ones would you like
to meet in person?

I want to meet everyone in person! Seriously, since I'm running a marathon in each of the fifty states, I should be near everyone at least once, so I'm hoping to be able to meet as many running blogging friends as possible. So far, I've met Paul of PLe1der blog, Lam of The
Running Laminator, and Sassy of Sweet Sassy Molassy; I've also run by Chia of Chiarunner at the Portland Marathon, and we gave each other a high five but didn't get to meet up after. We're trying to plan another race together to do so! I'm also looking forward to meeting Marci of Runner's Rambles in Niagara Falls this weekend, and Christine of Runnin' Duff at the Disney Marathon in January. But really, I want to encourage everyone: if you see that I'm doing a race near you or the same race that you're doing, please drop me an e-mail! Running bloggers are a special breed  - I love reading everyone's blogs and I
think it would be so cool to get to meet in person as well.

Tell us about your job.   

My_first_day_of_work I work for a large global consulting firm, and the best thing about my job is the culture. Like my university, it's very work hard/play hard.  I find my friends and other non-coworkers are always getting shocked about each end of the spectrum, but it's when you put them together that it all works out. There are nights I have to stay at work until 4 AM, and that totally sucks, but then there are days when I sleep late and go into the office in the afternoon for a margaritas-and-daiquiris Cinco de Mayo party! Everyone always seems to forget that I have to deal with BOTH parts, and so I'm always getting comments about how my job is either incredible or really terrible. Yes, I may be flying off to cool locations or eating at four star restaurants on the company dime, but to get perks like that, I need to work really hard. For me, it all balances out in the end, and I think that the two extremes fit my personality pretty well. I would rather have the extreme work and the extreme play than be somewhere in the middle all the time - it keeps my life interesting :)

What do you do when you aren't running, blogging or working?
What is "fun" for you?

Laura_finish_2 As I mentioned above, I'm really structured in liking to check things off my to-do list, so there are TV shows I watch every week (or at least tape every week and then eventually get around to watching).  These include reality shows like America's Next Top Model, Project Runway, The Biggest Loser, and Top Chef; sitcoms like The Office and Privileged; and dramedies like Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, One Tree Hill, Private Practice, and House. I also love to read - I love chick lit, diet/health/nutrition/workout books, and anything written by Jodi Picoult. Oh, and since my blog is called "Absolut(ly) Fit," I suppose I should point out that I do enjoy drinking - though I actually do it a lot less since I've started blogging! I love wines (I took a wine tasting class in college that got me really intrigued), especially a good Riesling. As for mixed drinks, when I'm being healthy I'll go for a flavored vodka and seltzer, but when I throw all caution to the wind, I love a good frozen drink like a margarita, daiquiri, or pina colada - the sweeter and fruitier the better :)
Other hobbies include figure skating (I hope I can still count that as a hobby even though I haven't really done it in a few months), cross-stitching, and cooking. I probably should have mentioned cooking sooner, because that's one of my favorite stress relievers!

If you could change anything about your running, what would it be?

I want to run more frequently, and keep up a more normal "training" schedule. Which leads me to...

Tell us about your current 21 day challenge and the habit you are
working on.

Finishing_my_first_marathon_and_d_2 Jenn from Getting Fit and Loving It put out a call for all of us to do a 21 day challenge to either break or start a habit. I decided to do two challenges: trying to break one habit, while trying to start a new one. For 21 days, I'm avoiding what I call all "processed carbs"
(meaning bread, pasta, baked goods, etc) except the day before a race, when I'm allowing myself one meal with those items. At the same time, I'm trying to run every single day for a minimum of one mile. I'm only on day 3 but I've kept both resolutions so far - keep checking back with my blog to see how it goes! I love the idea that it only takes 21 days to break/start a habit, because it's relatively easy to tell yourself you're just going to do something for 21 days and that's it.  This spring, my doctor told me I had high cholesterol and I needed to cut out cheese, red meat, eggs, etc - at first it was really tough,
but now I almost never (last week's cheese binge aside) go for those things even though my cholesterol is back to normal! I think it's great to pick one thing at a time to change - before you know it, you're living a totally healthy lifestyle!

Your sidebar blog list is great - any advice on great blogs for runners?

There are so many running blogs out there, and I had a lot of trouble with the TIART where we were supposed to talk about our favorite blogs - I could have gone on for days! I try to read the blogs of everyone who reads mine, and then there are some that I just relate to or
inspire me. Even if you're a "lurker" like I was, there are so many blogs and sites (like this one!) that offer a great sense of community. Go find the ones you're passionate about, and read those.

Your race schedule has been unbelievably busy - how do you choose
your races?

Not in the conventional way, that's for sure! I'm all about signing up last minute for races. A lot of this has to do with work and my travel schedule - until a week or so before, it's impossible for me to know whether I'll be able to get to a race. This unfortunately leads to me paying a lot in registration fees because I can never take advantage of the early registration, but that's made up for by the fact that I usually don't have to pay travel expenses (see this article on CNN, for an explanation of how that works - thanks to Amanda from Run to Finish for sending that to me). I keep a big Excel spreadsheet with
races that I've heard about that sound fun, who else is running them, and what the next date is. When I know I'm going to be able to travel for work, I open the spreadsheet and see what races are coming up during that timeframe. Then it's just a matter of using Kayak to find an inexpensive enough flight that I can go! For 2009, my strategy for picking races is pretty much just going to stay loose, but I think in 2010 I'll have to plan a lot more because I'll be running out of states and will need to be sure to get them all in by my 25th birthday
in July.

This week's TIaRT topic is running and weight loss - any tips or
suggestions for runners on the topic?

The best advice I can give is to be aware of what you're eating and what you're doing. I've very informally coached some friends and family on weight loss, and the one thing I've really noticed is that so many people think they're being healthy and making great choices, but aren't. My mom had been gaining a bit of weight and couldn't figure out why - she said she was just picking at her food and never really eating full meals. One day I had her write down every bite she put in her mouth (even if it was just a taste), and finally she
figured out the problem: she wasn't eating full meals, true, but she had so many snacks or bites here and bites there during the day that it was adding up to more calories than just My_mom_is_my_biggest_supporter eating regular meals! This isn't to say that snacking is bad, by any means, but you need to
really be aware of what you're eating. Almost a year ago, I started logging everything I ate on DailyPlate.com, and it has really helped me tremendously. Holding myself accountable for every morsel has made me stop standing in front of the fridge and sneaking tastes of
leftovers, or grabbing any of the random pastries and munchies that are always around the office. When I know it counts, it's a lot easier to say no! The same goes for exercise. Topher of I'll Run for Donuts made a really good point recently when he said that running a marathon "only" burns 11 glazed donuts. That may sound like a lot of donuts, but when you think about all the stuff we eat while justifying that "it's okay; I'm running a marathon," it's probably way more calories than that! Just be mindful of your choices and it will be a lot easier to get/keep the weight off.

What is your biggest running challenge?

Now that I've been doing multiple marathons, it can be hard to stay motivated. In my first few marathons, I'd get to mile 20 and think,  "wow, only 6 miles to go! If I just keep the pace up, I can PR!" When I was only doing marathons once a month, it was easy to lay it all on the line; when I started doing marathons more frequently, my attitude changed, and it was more like "meh, I'm kind of tired. I'll just take it easy now and then try for a PR next weekend." I try to keep myself engaged with the reminder that "pain is temporary; pride is forever," but it can be really hard to push yourself so much. People are always amazed that my body can run so many marathons, but I think the real miracle is that my mind has allowed me to do it. Running is SUCH a mental sport, and I think it's almost tougher for us mid-packers than it is for the champions. They're running to beat someone and to win,
while we're running in the midst of hundreds or thousands of others, knowing that no matter how hard we try we're not going to "win". I try to remind myself that any race I do is still a huge accomplishment: I got out of bed that morning and pushed myself hard while my friends were all lying home in bed hungover from the previous night's festivities. However, getting into the mindset that any finish is an accomplishment can make it harder to push yourself. My brother got me a copy of "Brain Training for Runners" for my birthday, and one of these days I really need to sit down and read it - I think it will help a lot.

What has been your funniest moment while running?

That would have to be in the Portland Marathon, when I saw a spectator sign at mile 16 that said, "Holy crap, only 10 miles to go!" A few minutes later, I had to... well, you know. It was not funny at all while I was going through it, but in retrospect, I think that's pretty
funny. Note to spectators: do NOT use bathroom words in your signs!

How do your family/friends support your running?

My mom and best friend from high school came to my first race bearing signs that said, "RunLaura_sign  to the ice cream, Laura!" It was wonderful to see them on the course, and even better when they dealt with my cranky mood after the marathon when I was sore. My mom and I are extremely close, and she's only been able to come to one other marathon since
(Hartford), but I call her the second I finish any race to let her know how I did. Doing all these races on my own, though, one thing that was amazing for me was after the Akron Marathon, when I pulled out my phone to call her and discovered that I had several text
messages. My mom is not very tech-savvy, but she had somehow figured out that Akron allowed you to track runners' splits in real time as they crossed certain checkpoints, and she also figured out how to text message me to say, "Laura, you rock!" I almost cried when I saw that - it was SO cool that she learned how to do that for me! My other biggest supporter is my amazing boyfriend, who is really sweet about understanding my dream and being nice about me going away so many weekends to run. I always feel terribly guilty when I leave, but I'll never forget the time he spent ten minutes bragging about me and my
marathoning even though everyone else was clearly bored. He was SO proud of me and my accomplishments, and that meant the world to me! He loves that I have a dream and am striving to achieve it, and he's even gotten excited enough to agree to run a marathon with me next year (we're targeting the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, but he hasn't started training yet, so we'll see). I really want to get as many of my friends and family as possible to train for and complete a marathon - it's the best feeling in the world, and I just want everyone I love to experience it!

What advice do you have for runners?

Alice in Wonderland was one of my favorite Disney movies as a child, and I'd like to pull a short quote from the book.  "Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said, 'one can't believe impossible things.'  'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'"
Running was one of my impossible things. I feel like I've said this over and over, but just a few years ago, I would never in my wildest dreams have considered running a marathon. It was impossible for me - I wasn't a runner or even an athlete. A coworker from when I started running tried to convince me to do a half-marathon, and I told him that was crazy - I doubted I could even complete a 5K. But then I did it! Try not to be limited by what you think you can or can't do. I'm always surprised by the stories I hear of people completing marathons who either didn't think they could do them or with very little training, and I want everyone to know that you can ALL do a marathon if you set your mind to it. To stay with the Disney theme, Walt Disney said, "if you can dream it, you can do it." If you have the slightest inkling to try a marathon, even if it's overshadowed by fear and doubt, I really want to convince you to try (heck, pick a marathon in a state I haven't run and I'll come do it with you at whatever pace you want!). Running my first marathon changed my life by redefining what I considered within the realm of possibility. And what good is a
dream if it's easy or something that you already know is possible?

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Take It and Run Thursday: Running and Weight

CiTake_it_and_run_thursday_2 Welcome to Take It and Run Thursday! 

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is ....   Running and Weight.   Getting down to or maintaining your ideal running weight seems to be a common challenge for most runners.  And it's time we take it on in the Lounge.  Share your tips of how you determined your perfect running weight and maintain it.  We are also really interested in your weight loss tips and stories.  Especially as we go into fall and winter (and the dreaded little candy bar time of the year), we would love to know how you get through temptations and other food challenges.

Just fill in your name/title of your post and your URL below.

Next weeks theme is ....  Choose Your Superpower.  This week's TIaRT theme comes from Runatthemouth.  She suggested it would be fund to find out, "what superpower runners would have if they could?  Sure, speed would be nice, but it seems like as a group we would get more creative than that.  A shield to keep the rain out.  The ability to stay warm or cool.  I could see triathletes wanting to have Superman's trick of instantly changing clothes in handy phone booth."  With Halloween just around the corner, it seemed only fitting that we bring our wishes, imagination and even costumes to next week's TIaRT.  Share your most imagined running superpower in words (or even pictures).

Click here for a link to all the great posts on Running and Weight.

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More than consuming fewer calories and running more

This week's topic for Take It and Run Thursday is weight.  Amy is having rousing success right now, and I'm looking forward to benefiting from everyone's input tomorrow.

The way I see it, if you want to lose weight, it’s all about plus and minus.  Add more exercise and reduce calorie intake.  Period.

Multiplication_rock_2 However, if I want to manage my weight, increase my energy, improve my running, and maginify my overall quality of life, then it’s not simply about addition and subtraction.

It’s about multiplication.

The best experiences managing my weight include putting to work several factors, none of which is particularly like scaling Everest.  But when you multiply them all together, they add up to sizable results.

Drinking more water.  Hydration improves every organ and function we have.  Another way to look at hydration is to include water based-foods such as fruits and vegetables.  There is no water in Twinkies and corn chips.

Eating what I really love.  A controlled portion every day such as 1 -2 cookies or 1 cup of ice cream, and then banish all the other awful foods out of the house.

Eating a good breakfast.  Mom was right. Enough said.

Never skipping a meal.  My brain thinks it’s winning but my body always loses on this matter.  I skip a meal and I feel like I’ve got calories in the bank to consume later. Doesn’t work as I end up bingeing 17 times more than if I’d eaten a reasonable meal when my body is accustomed to eating.

Getting a full night’s sleep.  When I operate short on sleep, my appetite soars.  I've learned that sleep deprivation increases a hormone which stimulates appetite and decreases hormones that suppress appetite.  As if feeling tired isn’t bad enough, then I have two hunger hormones harassing me.

Getting help from others. There's something about a runner seeking professional weight management help that doesn't sit right with us.  I’ve never so much as imagined myself calling Jenny Craig or attending Weight Watchers.  And why is that?  Would it kill me to learn a little more from the experts? And there's nothing quite as motivating as teaming up with others for practical and moral support to curb the bad habits and stimulate new ones.

Cross training. Whether it's walking, weights, yoga, biking, or whatever, cross training recruits new muscles to add strength both physically and mentally.  What a way to improve managing our weight!.  Many of us compiled a great treasury of cross training advice several months ago.

So rather than plussing and minusingshaving calories and piling on more milestake advantage of the exponential benefits of multiplication.

I just know that when I’m at my optimal weight, I feel better, run easier, more, and faster.  And when I can run easier, more, and faster, it’s easier to manage my weight.  What a great trade-off!

Multiplication Rock on Flickr by Jikan

I've lost 156 pounds!

And that's no lie.  It is a little known secret that since the Lounge launched a year ago, I Little_fat_fairy have lost 156 pounds.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that I have collectively gained 163 pounds in the same period of time.  I have lost and gain some number of the same seven pounds on my body over 55 times.   Running and weight loss has been a constant losing battle for me with the little fat fairy.  Up until last month.

A month ago this week my husband, Jim, started on a new diet.  And I found myself on this diet by association.  Jim suffers from and has tried to manage his Crohn's disease for almost 20 years.  He has been through almost every treatment, test, surgery and medical option for it and it still persists.   He hit a real low point with the disease this summer and decided to try something else - anything else - instead of going back to the doctor and more medicine or surgery.  After alot of research he found and decided to try a special diet for Crohns, IBD and Ulcertive Colitis patients called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  This diet is a gluten free, lactose free, sucrose free diet.  What is left you wonder?  Pretty much just fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and a special homemade yogurt.  All sugars, starches, grains, pastas, breads, and chocolates are gone.  This diet doesn't fool around.

And while I don't recommend the diet is perfect for runners,*  I mention it as context of the lessons it has taught me in the last 30 days.  It is the lessons of this diet that has helped me lose real pounds, consecutively.

Lesson #1:  Read the labels of everything you eat.  Because this diet is so strict, I found myself reading every label to ensure I brought home only "legal" items.   And in the process I found out that I have been putting alot of things in my body that I didn't know about or need to have.  Sugar and/or starch is in everything.

Lesson #2:  A little bit of sugar might make me nice but it adds up into alot of extra weight.  By cutting out all sucrose, dextrose, etc and relying only on natural sugars (from fruit or honey), I found myself easily losing weight and being fuller faster and longer.

Lesson #3:  If it's not in the house, I won't eat it.  If I don't eat it, I lose weight.  I know, I know - it sounds so basic but it is so important.  We dumped most of the tempting food to make it easier for Jim (who had been a junk food junkie).  But in the process, I found out all my bad habits too.  I found myself trolling the kitchen at night looking for a forgotten bag of candy or chips stashed in the back of cabinets.  It was really quite pitiful.

Lesson #4:  Fresh stuff tastes better. Cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables just tastes better.  The flavors are wonderful and its fun mixing up new things.  It is more satifying.

Lesson #5:  Eating good stuff brings mental clarity.  Both Jim and I have noticed that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables seems to have a good side effect - our minds are working better.

Lesson #6:  A good diet isn't a fad or short term solution - it is a change of habit and tradition.   I am not going to lie, the first 3 weeks were really, really hard.  And quite honestly, it is still really hard.  This diet is changing how we think about food, how we use food and the role food plays in our life.  We have had to rethink how we handle and plan for meals, how we handle eating out, and family outings.   Food is wonderful, but we find that it doesn't always need to be at the center of everything we do and I think that is a bit healthier.

Lesson #7:  It takes a while to form a good habit.  The old saying, "21 days to a habit" is true.  At 21 days we food a routine or groove that we could live with.  We stopped fighting against the principles and working with them.  Change a habit for 21 days.  And then persist with your good habits.  And for support of your 21 day habit, check out Jenn's 21 Day Habit Challenge.

Lesson #8:  Find a friend.  Because this was such a change, I turned to a good friend for help - the blogosphere.  With a quick blog search of "Crohns + Specific Carbohydrate Diet" I was connected to bloggers with alot of information to share of how they live with this diet.  Without these bloggers, I don't know if I could have supported Jim with this diet. 

Back in the running world, so many runners deal with weight loss issues, it isn't hard to find one.  In the Lounge, you can watch the progress of Viv's Marathon Season Weight Loss Challenge or also do a search for runners with "Weight Loss" in their Running Topics.

* NOTE:  Jim signed up for his diet challenge by agreeing to try it 30 days - to see if it really could control a disease that has proven, until this point, to be uncontrollable.  And the great news (outside of my weight loss) is that the diet is working for him!   It is controlling or has eliminated many of the symptoms he has had with Crohn's for many years.  So on and on our adventure continues.    I am not a doctor, so I won't recommend the diet to others with Crohns.  Each person has a different issue with the disease.  But I would recommend that you research it and make the decision for yourself. 

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FREE Stuff Giveaway: Cards for Runners by Banana Blossom Press

Thanks to everyone for contributing the great music suggestions last week.  These amounted to more than just a dump of song titles.  Some of you teed up a few tunes that carried Amy through some tough patches at yesterday’s Des Moines Half Marathon.

The article Great Music, Podcasts, and Books for Your Run is now in the Know How section, under Shoes, Gear and Equipment in the Topic of Music and Podcasts.

The winners selected from those who contributed are Brook and Lacey Nicole, who each won a t-shirt from One More Mile.  Thank you to Joe and Aubrey and the gang at One More Mile who work very hard to carry those fun, I-want-that-shirt kind of apparel.   

This week's FREE Stuff Giveaway Partner: Banana Blossom Press!

Banana_blossom_scaled_image_3 We’ve come across a gem of a new resource for runners called Banana Blossom Press, which makes unique cards for runners.  The cards are “uncomplicated” and marked by text only in brief, powerful messages for runners.  These are not sappy cards, but expressions of sincere  inspiration, appreciation, and support.  The team of Maria and Laura at Banana Blossom Press has thought of insightful, humorous, and sassy cards for the countless milestones and situations that we face every day in our running.  Some sample expression:

Every mile has a story…I want to hear yours…congratulations on finishing

Hills..tempo…fartlek…how’s your training going?

Killer calves…looking great

Up at 5:30 a.m….aching muscles, miles in the rain...
I don’t get it, but i admire your dedication.  Run on.

Reasons to run #13, Tiramisu

To share these great expressions, Banana Blossom Press is giving away a boxed set of cards and a t-shirt with the same images and text that inspire its runners.

Since Runners’ Lounge is dedicated to sharing useful resources, simply contribute advice or a tip this week. Your advice can be something you have tried, learned along the way, something you have read, a link to a great post (yours or someone else’s), or a link to others’ advice on another running site.

All Loungers who contribute to the Giveaway Question between October 20th and October 25th will be eligible to win.

Runners’ Lounge will select and announce the one winner on October 27th.

This week's Giveaway Question:

This week is wide open!  Just drop off some useful advice, a tip, or a link to a great post or resource anywhere in the Know How section. 

Go to the Build, Use, Share Running Resources tab and click on Articles and Tips. Once there, choose from 32 categories/topics to leave a piece of advice. Categories range from Basics of Running and Getting Started to Training to Racing to Staying Motivated and Healthy.

Your response can be as short as a sentence and as long as a blog post or story. Leave your response today to become eligible! Feel free to drop back here and tell us about your tip.

So do yourself a favor: Go to the Lounge and leave your tip today in the forum to become eligible!  Runners’ Lounge will compile all the responses in a combined article for all Loungers to enjoy.

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