Open Mike Friday: Meet Aka Alice
We have the most fun introducing runners to the online community. Today's guest was recommended by several of her online running friends, Known across the blogging running community as Alice, she oozes with friendliness and enthusiasm for running.
Fresh off a half marathon last weekend, today she shares about her running, racing, including her vast network of running friends, plus her background of becoming a runner. The author of Hefferblog, Adventures Running with the Herd she's AKA (affectionately known as) Alice. Welcome Alice!
There is nobody who is more surprised by my evolution from non-runner to runner than I am. Even five years ago, I would have described “a runner” as someone who was young, had long legs, thin, and who was a little crazy...you know, like Paula Radcliffe, and that is decidedly NOT me (well, maybe the crazy part is right!). In fact, I became a runner through a convergence of events, most of which had very little to do with running.
In November 2005, my father in law asked the whole family to do a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot (The Run for the Hungry). I didn’t know a thing about racing or running or, quite frankly, that there were regular organized runs that people did on Sunday mornings. It took me over an hour to stroll the 3.1 miles, but there was something about the energy of the runners and the event that I just liked. I thought that morning that one day I’d like to actually run at an event like that, but I didn’t really do much about it.
A few days later I was telling Betty about what I did Thanksgiving morning and she said we should start running some 5K races. I’m pretty sure I just laughed at the idea of running 3 miles, but Betty can be pretty persistent and persuasive. Eventually, she convinced me and another friend, Elsie, to run the Carlsbad 5000 in April 2006. I ran/walked that first Carlsbad 5K in 36:36.
Also, those who read the Hefferblog have no doubt noticed that mimosas are a major staple in our running. After that first 5K, Betty and Elsie and I started signing up for other local 5K races, mostly as an excuse to go have breakfast afterward. Some other friends, who were equally interested in breakfast started to join us and at first it was just about the social part and the mimosas, but the truth is that I’m a pretty competitive person and as much as I enjoyed getting together with the girls, I also started thinking that maybe I if actually started training for a 5K, I could run faster, or maybe I could run the whole thing, or maybe I could eventually run faster than Betty (she’d love that) did. So I started running during the week as well.
About a year later, I ran a 5K race without walking, then a month after that, I ran an 8K race without walking. It was about then that Betty started suggesting that we run a ½ marathon. And again, at first I told her she was crazy, but again, she’s one persistent woman who doesn’t take no for an answer, so in August 2007, I ran my first ½ marathon...the America’s Finest City ½ Marathon.
OMG I was sore after that. I think it took me at least a week to walk normally again. I said at the time that I’d never run another ½ marathon again. But Betty, once again, started saying “let’s run a marathon!” And again, I said “you’re nuts.” But eventually, I said ok...with one caveat. We needed to join a running group because we really didn’t know how to train for a marathon. We barely knew how to train for a ½ marathon.
So we joined the San Diego Track Club, trained for, and ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in June 2008. It was during the marathon training, and definitely after finishing the marathon that I started thinking of myself as a runner. That it had become a part of who I am and how I think of myself.
It’s also when I started the blog...after I dropped my iPhone in a toilet, but that’s a whole different story...me and my inability to not break or lose things.
Let’s see…in the last several months you’ve changed jobs, rehabbed your home, dealt with running injuries, and you’re expanding your cross training. Stressful enough?
Hahahaha...yeah, as I opened Tom’s interview questions, my husband was trying to work a pretty solid knot out of my shoulder that I am convinced was result of stress. Right now, I’m getting ready to starting a new semester of teaching on Monday!. This last year I also dealt with my mother’s (so far successful) battle with lung cancer and of course the trials and tribulations of raising two kids.
In truth, the most stressful part of these past two months has been NOT being able to run due to injury. As I started running, I’ve found that it keeps me sane and balanced. Without running, I’ve been a wreck. Part of it is that running allows me to work off the stress, and part of it is that running gives me a social outlet that has nothing to do with any of my other responsibilities. It’s the most selfish thing I do. Some may say that running is a solitary activity, but it’s been the complete opposite of that for me.
Tell us what it’s like running in your part of the country.
No really, it is. I’m not originally from Southern California, so I just marvel at how lucky I am live and work and run in such an amazing, beautiful place...that being said, in the winter months, when it is sub-zero in the rest of the country, I do feel a little silly about complaining about freezing my butt off when it’s 50 degrees outside, and I also feel a little guilty about posting pictures of the palm trees, the oceans, and the bays, and of us running in shorts and tank tops, when the rest of the country is under 12 feet of snow, but I do it anyway...sort of as a public service.
Tell us about your blog title: Hefferblog: Adventures Running With the Herd and your nickname AKA Alice.
I’ve described the full story (or at least as much of it as I’m willing to tell) about where the name “the heffers” comes from on the blog, but the summary version is that we are just a group of women who met while teaching at a local high school in the past 15 or so years. Teaching high school is tough work, and over the years, we just became a really a close group of friends. We laugh (a lot, which you HAVE to do when you’re working with teenagers) and support each other professionally as well as personally. Some heffers have moved away, some of us no longer teach at that high school, but pretty much we say, once a heffer, always a heffer.
We all have heffer names. Since I was one of the original heffers, I got to choose my own name, and I chose Alice because it’s what my husband calls me when I’m being cranky (sort of like Alice from The Honeymooners). I call him Walter when he’s being curmudgeonly. Most people, by now, know my real name (Cindi) either because they also follow me on Facebook or on Twitter or because I wrote about it a few months ago on the Hefferblog. But, because the rest of the “herd” are still high school teachers or administrators, and because we have the occasional mimosa, I continue to be discrete and not use their real names on the blog, although I suspect that if anyone really wanted to figure out who we all were, there are enough clues and slipups on the blog that someone could pretty easily figure it out.
When a few of us decided to train for a marathon two years ago, I decided to write about our adventures, mostly so that the rest of the herd who wasn’t running would know what we were up to...and mostly to record all the funny things that happened to us, or what the rest of the herd was saying or doing. Sometimes people comment on my blog that I’m funny, and the truth is that Betty or Madge (who doesn’t run with us, but who occasionally comments on it) or Clarence are far funnier than I am. Betty once said that my role in the group was really to add adverbs (which I absolutely do!).
So, I first started the blog for the herd, but I soon found out that I wasn’t the only one with this idea to run and blog. I was completely surprised that there were so many running bloggers (or blogging runners) out there writing about their adventures as well. It’s an amazingly supportive community. I consider lots of my blogging runner friends sort of virtual-heffers.
Any quirky running traits?
I am a gadget junkie. If it’s a running gadget, chances are I currently own it, have used it, or am considering it, and at some point I’ll loose or break said gadget, whine and complain about it on the blog, and get something new to replace it.
Also, I really hate getting dirty. I carry face wipes in my running bag so that I can clean up after every run. The feeling of salt crystals on my face just creeps me out. Betty wants to do a mud run and I just can’t imagine it.
Who are some of your virtual running friends you would like to meet up and run with?
Gosh, there are so many! I’ve been so lucky that I’ve been able to meet up with several bloggers including Irene at Magazine Smiles, Jo Lynn at Single Track Junkie, Yas at See Yas Run, Penny at Planet Ynnep Running and Lisa at Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge. I’m hoping to run into Glenn at Running Fat Guy in the next few months. We live pretty close to each other, so it’s bound to happen. I also know that one day I’m going to get to hang out with meet Mel at 2nd Chances, Al at You Run? No, Really, You Run? and Missy at Ironman, Ironthings, Trithings, even though I could never keep up with her...and there are lots more. Every person who I’ve ever left a comment on their blog is someone who I’d like to meet and run with.
Some of the best running advice I’ve ever been given is what I’ve learned these last couple months in recovering from Plantar Fascitiis from Brett, my physical therapist at Rehab United and that has to do with the importance of stretching and strengthening to running. I never did much with strength training and definitely not nearly enough stretching before I got hurt, and that’s why I got hurt. I knew stretching was important, but doing strenght training, lots of squats and lunges, has been the real surprise. It’s what got me through the AFC ½ marathon last week having done minimal mileage training.
Best running advice you’d like to share?
Find some friends to run with...or join a running group and make some friends. Start your own running-herd. I’d have never started running if not for the herd, and I’d never have kept at it this long.
Also, at the end of a long run, it’s really important to have a mimosa with a friend to celebrate the accomplishment.
Do you know a runner you would recommend for Open Mic Friday?
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