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September 2007

A True Runner...

Back in July, I was up on my soapbox talking about what the definition is to being a runner.   Hero_medal In my rambling, I came to the realization that running isn't about times, distances, races or speed.  It is mostly about heart.  It is about taking some gutty emotion to complete a run that our bodies may not have been built to finish on that particular day.  It's about getting out there and running no matter your doubts.

Today, Nancy's post about her fantastic finish at Capital Pursuit illustrates the meaning and definition of being a runner.   If you are a back of the packer, you will love her story.  If you have ever been dropped by the runners after the gun went off, you will smile through her post.  If you found yourself trying to keep up with a sag wagon or traffic control officer so you wouldn't be out there alone, then you know what it takes to dig down and keep going. 

Yeah Nancy!  You are my hero!  You ARE a RUNNER!

Photo by tinkermel

Runners' Lounge is Now Open!

It's official!

Runners' Lounge, the online community for all runners is now open!  To say the least, we have goosebumps on our goosebumps.

As we prepared to move the site over to its birthname of www.runnerslounge.com, we couldn't believe that our idea for a small simple profile evolved into something so much more.  There are a lot of really cool things to do in the site, here are a few of our favorite things to try:

  • The profiles are full of information!  Instead of searching lists of random blogs and 092707_profile_page wondering if you should visit, you can learn about the person behind the blog.
  • Build your own Lounge Groups.  Any runner can start a group and invite others or leave it open for other like-minded runners to join.  Lounge Groups have their own space for forums.
  • Search for blogs.  We know how much we love to find/read new blogs, so we built a spot for you to share your blog link/name as well as have it feed your most recent posts.  So now you can be found, read, and admired by others at Runners' Lounge in addition to your blog site.  Your fans will love you for it!
  • Check out the "know-how" section.  You can add advice, rate advice, or take advice—whatever you're in the mood for!  And the part that we think is really cool...all that great advice you give also stores right into your profile.  And the great advice, quotes, video clips, from 092707_resources_2 others you don't want to lose—you can save it to your "Notebook" section of your profile with just a click.    
  • Running Resources is an online running notebook, aka all your favorites meet-wikipedia-meet-advice tool.  Anyone can add/edit resources and add advice/feedback.  We are especially excited about the events section.  Loungers will be able to add any event and provide feedback on any event.  Finally a place where you can get running stories from that events as well as hear about the good/bad parts of the event/course. 

Come on in, hang out a while and enjoy your Runners' Lounge!  We are done building "Phase 1" of the Lounge (we'll be working Phase 2 with your input) and now it needs to get that "lived in" feel.  We would love if you would add your profile, drop off some advice, start a discussion, and maybe even start your own group.    

Also, there's a section called "Pass it Along" that makes it easy for anyone to spread the word about Runners' Lounge.  You can pass it along to your BRF's, local running friends, club leaders—literally to friends across the country and world—to anyone who has a passion for running!   We would be grateful if you could pass it along through your blog posts or mention it while you are chatting in Forums.   

I_am_a_runner_band To show our appreciation, when you mention the Runners' Lounge community in your blog or are one of the first 250 Loungers to join, you will receive an exquisite "I AM A RUNNER" bracelet.  Okay, they are not gold or filled with diamonds, but we have personally filled them with good karma/luck and make wonderful companions during your training runs or races.  (To redeem, send an email to tom@runnerslounge.com or amy@runnerslounge.com with your mailing address.)

And of course, we're looking forward to your feedback.  Let us know what you like and what suggestions you have.  You know you can always find us here, but can also e-mail us directly.

Thank you for helping us build this on-line running community.  It was your blogs, your personalities, and your posts that helped shape Runners' Lounge.

Tom & Amy

Me (1) vs. Stinky Shoes (0)

I think I may have won a battle in my quest to tame the stink of shoes in my mud room.  I momentarily lost the battle when I was distracted by my back, but I am now back in full control of the situation.

The winning weapon wasn't one I specifically mentioned in my first post.  But came to me from an angel on high - who happens to be a mom of four boys.   She told me of an air freshener that has defeated the smell in the bathroom used by all her little boys.  I was at first skeptical because I have tried what I thought was every air freshener on the market.  But alas, her little gem of advice has saved my sanity and my mud room.

Yes, the Glade Gel Plug In with Clean Linen is the most fabulous air freshener ever Plug_in created.   In a matter of moments, my stinky mud room was transformed from a small space with a big problem to a valley of clean linens blowing in a spring breeze straight from the mountain tops.  I could see the fields of early summer flowers and feel the soft fluffy grass in my toes.....opps...that was the dog I was stepping on and not grass.... but the scent evoked such a happy place.

I was so excited that I went to the Glade.com site to find a Glade_page picture of this air freshener so I could share it all with you.   When I entered into the Glade site, I was again overcome with peace and harmony.   Have you visited this surreal world?  The cloud background and floating happy pictures with the soothing music....ahhh....a little break of reality.  As I peeled myself back to my world, I had to laugh.   If my life (and mudroom) looked and smelled like the divine place in glade.com land, I wouldn't need to spend $3.28 on this stinkin' air freshener.   

I would love to see this site/marketing with the real dilemmas that moms face about stinky bathrooms, stinky kids and dogs and houses that get stale when they have been shut up for months in the winter.  Let's see the real people in the ads with the disgusting challenges they have conquered - like stinky running shoes.   

But that aside, I love my new air freshener.  I drug my poor husband to the mudroom four times in 2 hours just to stand there and enjoy the aroma of clean linen.   For reasons I don't undestand, it didn't evoked the same grand emotion and joy for him as it did me.

Round #1 goes to me.  I win the battle for now!

PS:  2 miles of trail walking (ok, except for 4 brief bursts when I found myself running and realized I shouldn't be). I can now touch my toes again - this is a big deal for me.  By the end of this, I will be able to touch the toes, but probably won't be able to see them.  The little fat fairy is not being kind to me!

Impatience in Iowa

Iowa Amy and I think our neck of the woods is a great place to live, work, raise families, and of course to run.  But I’m beginning to wonder if we also live in a hotbed of impatience, an ozone-like layer of frustration with waiting.

For weeks Amy has been laying off running—sort of.  She’s been in and out of the chiropractor more than OJ has been in and out of an orange jump suit.  Standing in my office today she admitted to returning to running too soon—just after she felt a bit of relief in her back but before fully recovered.  To use Amy’s chiropractors words, she’s been like a kid picking at a scab.  Be grateful I’m not inserting a graphic scab picture here.

The impatient bug has bitten my running too.  In the second week of my taper before the Chicago Marathon, the itch to run my goal pace keeps nagging at me.  After promising my legs I wouldn’t ask them to run marathon pace until they cross the chip mat next week, I falter. 

Instead, I con myself with, “Just run a few miles at race pace to see how it feels.”  Then the impulse takes over and I wonder if I can run another mile at this pace, and another, and another…  Before I know it, my legs are weary.

The arrangement I made with my legs was to stop running hard during the taper period in exchange for a quality, consistent, predictable performance on race day.  All my training prior to tapering is done—caput—the hay is in the barn.  And yet my curiosity is restless so I don’t quite trust the feeling of running easy

Pulling_up_roots_2 It seems I'm not enabling the recovery process that is supposed to happen.  In fact, running the harder pace that is reserved for race day is actually interfering with my taper.  My impatient running is like pulling up plants to check if the roots are still growing.  Yup, they're growing, but now the plant's natural progress is traumatized.  Couldn't I just leave the content plant—or my legs—to rest?

I'm sure if you moused over the middle section of a map of Iowa it would display we are the scientific epicenter of impatience.

Map of Iowa on Flickr by Neoarcanal

Pulling up roots on Google Images by Illinois Nature

And On To Plan D...

Last Wednesday I told you I would take time to get better - redirect my energies.  That good pigheadedness lasted almost 3 days - and then was replaced by original stupidity again.  On Saturday, at the first twinge of feeling almost normal, I threw on the shoes and went for a run.  Not a second thought, not a little voice, just headed for the trail.   4 lovely miles!  It was a gorgeous day and enjoyed every stinking step of that run. 

I paid for my fall of the wagon on Sunday and Monday.  clomp, clomp, stomp, stomp, pout, No_running pout....that is the sound of me making the rounds through my chiropractor and family doctor to put me back together on Monday.  Granted, the back is nowhere near as bad as it was a few weeks ago (this is a lame excuse), I can actually sit through my meetings (this is rational stupidity), I hunkered down to my stretching/strengthening plan for 3 whole days (whatever!), so I deserved that run (this is an addicts mindset). 

So I finally admit it.  I am addicted to running.  Smokers get patches, gum, shots, hypnosis, support groups, and classes to quit - what do we rehibilitating runners get, nada.  zilch.  It is so unfair.  We just need to grit our teeth and muster through it.  (Blame sweetly wild for planting my dislike for the advantages of being a smoker.)

And now, on to Plan D.  I woke up with a new grand plan. I need to direct my running energy into something besides just stretching and strengthening.  Heck, since I can almost touch my toes again, what else is there? So, I am going to become a walker...again...for a little while.   If I walk or run 2-3 miles, in the end, I cover the miles and get some exercise, so what's the difference, right?  (Come on, nod reassuringly with me.)  I used to be a walker.  I walked myself into my insanely small wedding dress.  I walked myself through the 9 month of both pregnancies.  I can walk.   I don't like it and I will complain.  But I can do it.  It's just takes soooo long.  It does seem like a better option than the ellipticals (been there, done that recovering from stress fractures from the pregnancy I weighed slightly less than a momma elephant) and stationary bike butt.

Waaahhhh....I don't want to be a walker - not that there is anything wrong with it.  I have great respect for walkers.  They beat me all the time at races.  As a proud but slow runner, I have been "walked down" by many a walker. It still catches me by a surprise.  I am laboring along, running in a race and a walker pulls along side me.  It's like a bad cartoon moment right out of coyote and road runner.   

For my new plan D, I will have to dig down deep and find some discipline.  Taking my self to a trail with running shoes and NOT running is kinda like taking me to a bakery just so I can smell the cookies baking.  Yeah, it doesn't always go as planned.   But, I am a big girl.  I can make good choices.  Ok, I should make good choices.

And if I don't, Marcy has graciously offered me a spot on the bench for a while.  And while I would love to hang out and shoot the crap with her (imagine all I could learn!), my preference would to be out running.   Maybe next week (ok, probably month)...

Photo by scribbett

A wish for you...

I am hanging out tonight, visiting with runners and had a chance to read Back of the Pack's post on her wish for runners.   It was such a fabulous wish, that I thought I would pass it along to you.   I can't think of a nicer thought to start the week off with....

This is what I wish for each of you:

My hope for you is that the runs you have to grind through are few and far between. I am certain that running should be a joy - a symphony of movement...breathing in and out, muscles flexing and contracting, legs pumping, eyes searching the path ahead and heart singing. Most of all, to feel that triad of mind-body-spirit coming together...that's what most runs should be, and that is my hope for you. And even on the days when it feels like a grind, at the end, when it's all over and the body drops into relaxation, I hope you discover that it happened - maybe in a very small way - but it always happens - that the triad emerged...the mind is clearer, the body feels challenged and the spirit is lifted. That is my hope for you.

Why I Run...

You know this is one of my favorite topics.   I love hearing about why runners run.  It's a great way to get to know someone and their motivations and I think it helps me come a little closer to trying to explain why I run. 

Here is a little sampler platter of motivation and insight made possible by a few cool runners....Runner_sign

  • Adam Jacobs compiled a bottomless list of great quotes of why runners run.  If you are looking for a good one/new one for your site or to get you through your next run, check out this list.
  • Read through Nat's excellent post about the Philly Distance Run and you will feel the excitement of running busting through the page.
  • Road Warriors journey to becoming a runner that has already rewarded him with 75 lbs off and has gone from 12 minute to 8 minute miles.
  • Lora who says she runs for "soulful experiences, powerful situations and deep moments of appreciation".   I think that is one of the best phrases I have seen written about why someone runs.

Enjoy your runs in this first official week of Fall!  And, try to keep 'em under the speed limits...I know I will get so carried away in this great running weather it is hard to keep my super speeds under wraps.  (ha ha)

Photo by Gin Weaver

Of Small and Big BRF Gatherings

Amy and I had a chance to meet a fellow blogging running friend (BRF) last week.  Nancy lives in our town and we’d been reading each others’ blogs for months now.   After getting to know each other virtually and commenting on each others’ posts, getting acquainted over lunch was delightful. 

Nonrunner_nancy Anyone who’s ever received or read Nancy’s comments knows that she is one of the most supportive runners out there blogging.  She cares about everyone’s lives, running, achievements, setbacks and musings.  Nancy leaves comments that will carry you for the rest of your day.  I often go reading and tracking in the wake of Nancy’s comments on others' sites just to get a great dose of her kind, uplifting spirit.

In a heartbeat we were discussing jobs, spouses, neighborhoods, kids, mutual friends, running, and of course, our other blogging friends.  It was like we’d known each other for ages.  By the end of our lunch, we think we heard Nancy say she’s ready to move away from the nick name “Non-runner.” A Breakthrough!

Speaking of meeting up with bloggers, I’ve been leaving comments or e-mails for BRFs running Chicago Marathon about getting together Friday afternoon or evening to meet.  But I know I haven't reached everyone.

The plan is just chat, catch a drink or snack, and take some pics.   Our little rendezvous shouldn’t take a lot of time out of your busy marathon weekend. The details are coming together and I'll be finalizing where and when we'll meet soon.  So please make sure you let me know if you’re interested.  Friends and family are welcome.  tom@runnerslounge.com

We gotta get some great pics out of our Chicago BRFs reunion.

I’m also wondering if perhaps some of you who are running Columbus Marathon, like  Sandy and Laurel, and others might organize a gig where BRFs might meet there on that weekend.

Natural Law: The Same Thing

I'm still all smiles!  It's a little crazy that I remain on Cloud 9 three days after finishing almost last at a race.   I was so happy to finish and to be able to run.   Those race endorphins hung on until about 5 hours into meetings on Monday but then the back started to get a little sore.  By Tuesday night, I realized I probably shouldn't run.  And Wednesday?  Back to the chiropractor. 

The good news is that my back is ten times better than a week ago.  But its definitely not 100%.  I realized last night that I am able to run.  I could go for a run.  But that might put me back where I started.   Nope - it's time to grow up and be a little smarter. I need to regroup and decide how I am going to fix my back once and for all. 

I took a deep breath last night and realized that I won't be talking about fabulous long runs or fast times or cool races that much in the next month or so.  But instead I need to starting getting in great stretching sessions, pumping my tiny little dumbbells, doing some easy runs and working on my core.  With that realization, I started to whine and complain and think about how hard this will be for me.  And at that point I realized I had run smack into another Natural Law.    

Natural Law:  The same thing that got me into this injury is the same thing that will get me out.

I don't mean my liberal use of stupidity, pigheadedness, and outright bad decisioDeterminationns.   I mean my healthy dose of determination that helped me complete a bike ride or run when it didn't feel good, or it was hell hot, or I was dead tired.   I need to be disciplined and focused on all these not so sexy things that are good for me.   I will go after my strength and flexibility issues no different than I would preparing for my favorite race.  Negativity, grumping and complaining isn't the ticket.  It may be fun to pout and stomp my feet, but it really isn't going to help solve the problem.

And just like any new training plan for a new distance or event, I will figure it out as I go.  But I am focused.   It's ok to be pigheaded when you use those powers for good.

And good luck to a few other runners out there who aren't running like Laurie, Doug, and Michael (and he has a great/funny reason).

Photo by thekermanns

Rule #1 of Race Directing

I co-direct a wonderful race in our community, and during the last few weeks I’ve been surgically attached to my legal pad and file folders full of planning materials.  More than the details of the race, I’ve come to appreciate the saints who volunteer to help in races and who execute race-day activities.  From my work with them, I’ve established one rule:

Rule #1 of Race Directing: Never ever get in the way of volunteers doing their jobs.

Examples of our tireless team of volunteers include:

  • Race_registration A moving van lines company owner who donates his truck and driving time to deliver tables, water, cups, and waste containers before the race and retrieve them after.
  • A single mother far busier than many of us who coordinates all the details of packet pick up, which also includes 11th-hour registrations.  If you know packet pick-up hoopla, then you can appreciate the hassles of confirming information, remaining polite and flexible with runners who change their minds about shirt size, collecting higher-fee registration payments, and answering the same questions to new and nervous runners, plus from those veterans who know better than to ask.
  • The retired CEO of our community’s biggest employer, a multi-millionaire who rolls up his sleeves to coordinate the behind-the-scenes warehouse work riding the truck and grunting with the rest of us unloading and loading the equipment.
  • The queen of organization who coordinates the donations and delivery of food and refreshments for the runners.  The only thing that exceeds her brilliance and meticulous notes is her ability to manage the relationships with those donors to keep giving generously year after year.  Today’s leaders, Wall Street deal makers, and politicians could lessons from her.  Her full time job—wouldn’t you know it—a kindergarten teacher!
  • Two men, buddies and next-door neighbors, who in the quiet of the night, spray-paint the mile markers and directional arrows on the street along the course.  Sure they love graffiti, but they’re not even runners.
  • The husband of my co-director who does all the computer, data base, and  logo graphics work for the brochure and shirts and signage.
  • A grade-school principal, who's known for greeting his students every morning outside of school and saying good bye to them in the pick-up line every day.   He can set up the finish line scaffold, PA system, banners, finish chutes, and sectioned-off runner finish area faster and tear it all down, accomplishing more  than most people can do in a weekend.

One detail all these volunteers have in common is runners won’t even see them on race day.  Their work is done out of site, quietly, and with minimal to no exposure to the runners themselves.  We also have legions of other volunteers who hand out water, direct the runners, take finish tags, and hand out medals.  But our invisible guardian angels give race volunteering a whole new meaning.

If heaven holds a place for runners, then I predict the race volunteers have a loftier, special section just for them.  Imagine all the brightly-colored race volunteer t-shirts they’ll be wearing.

Race registration on Flickr by Analog Chainsaw

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