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December 2008

Joy From A Run

This holiday season, while enjoyable, has been packed with many events - leaving little time for consistent runs.   But even with all the hustle and bustle, I was true to myself and made time for my traditional Christmas day run.

It was in the 10's with windchill, the north wind was bone chilling, freezing rain and sleet pelted me with every step and the roadway was hazardous at best.   And it was wonderful!   Each Christmas day run is a present for myself as well as the chance to test out my new Christmas present.  This year, the lucky gift was a hatphone.   This piece of gear is the best thing invented since the iPod.  The speakers in the hat eliminate the need to squish earbuds in your stocking cap or the constant wrestling with them during your run.   Thank to coachkoo for mentioning them in her blog in November (and republishing her review Buddy after run in the Lounge) so I had the perfect item for my Christmas list. 

Amy and buddy For the first time in my tradition, I added a running partner instead of running solo.  My dog Buddy joined  me and I do believe that he enjoyed himself even more than I.   I caught him in the photo on the right.  Look at his complete joy and contentment!  His face showed exactly what I was feeling - but he wore it right up front on his big drippy tongue.

As we tick another day closer to a new year, I wish you many runs which leave you as joyful and with a sense of contentment as Buddy and I had on Christmas day.

Take It and Run Thursday: Happy Holidays!

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 .... Holiday Greetings and Great Gifts.  A week from today is one of the important days in this holiday season.  Drop off a note in Take It and Run to share your holiday greetings, tell us how you are celebrating the season or tell us about the great gifts you received.

Next weeks theme is .... Your favorite post from 2008.   As we get ready to close the book on another year, we would love to know your favorite blog post from 2008.   We would hope you would choose one of your own to share, but feel free to share others as well.


Holiday Wishes!

As Tom and I happily bury ourselves in our families and the holiday spirit, we also want to wish you, your immediate families and your running families a very happy holiday season.

We hope this season brings you peace and joy as you take time to celebrate the events of 2008.   We also hope the next few weeks bring you the opportunity to look ahead to all the new opportunities and challenges the new year will surely bring.

We send our best wishes for your running for the remaining days of 2008 and all through 2009.  We hope you find continued enjoyment in your runs and success towards your goals.   So many of you have started out as virtual running contacts but now we count as our many friends.   We hope our friendship with you will continue to grow and we can help you more fully enjoy your running.

We are taking a few days off to celebrate with our families but will be back with more fun in the Lounge in January.

Enjoy the seaon!

Happy Holidays!

FREE Stuff Giveaway: This week's winner and Holiday Greetings

Thermometer We saw a high temperature of 3 degrees in Des Moines this weekend, so reading others' suggestions of what to wear, particularly for cold-weather running was both timely and helpful.  It ranged from Wal-Mart and Old Navy to lots of Under Armour and brand name running apparel.  The combinations of layers and accessories helped me consider new items for my running gear.

For her suggestions, Jess is going to enjoy some new Voyage Pants from SportHill.

We want to thank SportHill again for their sponsorship and support. They know what "temperature-tuned clothing” means and know how to make bone-chilling weather more manageable for runners.

With the holiday this week, we’re just giving away good cheer and reminding everyone to use Take It and Run Thursday to leave your holiday wishes and maybe a shout out about anything running you receive as a gift.

We still have a few samples of Penguin Brand Sport-Wash to give away.  If you’re interested in ringing in the new year by washing away the odor trapped in your running gear, just email me (tom@runnerslounge.com) with your name and address and we’ll add your name to the Get the Stink Out project we’re doing at Runners’ Lounge.

Happy_holidays Finally, if you want to surprise someone with greetings, good wishes, or just let them know you're thinking about them, we invite you to use the e-cards feature in the Lounge.  It's easy, free, and a variety of cards can be sent to anyone.

Whether you're working, relaxing, exercising, or hibernating, everyone stay warm!

Thermometer on Flickr by eyebex

Open Mic Friday: A Viking, Running: Meet Ed Hammerbeck

Open_mic_friday Every runner has a story. 

And every runner with a blog has a unique expression of their running story.  Today's interview features Ed Hammerbeck.  He discusses his blog, his start into running, and a racing "first" coming up in 2009.  Meet A Viking, Running.

Your blog name is A Viking, Running.  What’s the story behind the name?

I was racking my brain with the cursor blinking in the “Blog Title” text box when I created the thing, and I could not think of anything good.  I didn’t want it to be something lame like “Ed Hammerbeck’s Running Blog.”  In fact, at first I wanted to keep it somewhat anonymous for some reason.  Other running blogs I subscribed to had clever titles, and I really wanted mine to be clever too.  Something funny would be nice as well.  So I thought and thought, and the cursor blinked and blinked.  Nothing came. 

Hammerbeck_2008_KDFMM After about two and a half minutes of this agonizing soul-searching, I remembered what an old physics professor told us to do when we got stuck.  “Always go back to first principles.”  Well, what did that mean in this case?  Let’s start with my name, I thought.  My last name is Hammerbeck, which is Swedish.  Although my true ancestry is a pale, Anglo-Saxon potpourri, I’ve latched onto my Swedish identity as primary in the same way people say that a big dog with pointy ears and bushy tail is a “shepherd mix” even though the dog’s true parentage is anyone’s guess.  Vikings, obviously, came from Sweden, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of making my wife roll her eyes when we watch stuff with Vikings in it, and wistfully say “Ah, my people, my rich cultural heritage.”  I try to do this during the scenes of mayhem, plunder, and carnage rather than when they’re talking about shipbuilding or exploring the New World.

So thinking along these lines, I started playing around with the word Viking and how I could tie it to running.  And then I started to mouth the words together, noting their easy consonance and liking the music of them together.  The idea grew on me.  I plopped a comma in between the words and added an indefinite article to ensure that it would be close to the top if it was on a sorted list.  Thus, “A Viking, Running” was born.

Hammerbeck_2007_LHM Tell us how you got started running and racing?

I wanted to lose some weight.  Since my late 20s, I have had this spare tire flopping around.  Then in my mid-30s, and my cholesterol started creeping up, and my depression got bad.  I knew I needed to get some exercise somehow.  I tried circuit training, but I never really got into it.  I tried hiking, but I could never do it consistently enough to get any weight loss benefit.  Eventually, this idea popped into my head, “You never see any fat runners.”  Thus, I decided to run. 

Looking back, having seen plenty of zaftig runners, I know I had fallen victim to an availability heuristic.  My eyes were drawn to the svelte, fit-looking runners with their graceful bodies and natural movements, and I thought that all runners must be like them.  Somehow I blocked out the numerically superior army of flabby guys and gals with beer guts, heaving their lungs out.  Now I am one of them, and I have seen plenty of marathoners with love handles.

But that’s how I got started.  My running is founded on a cognitive bias.   

Once I started running, sustaining the habit became my big problem.  In the first year or two, I didn’t like running and struggled against a lot of negative self-talk compelling me to not run.  So I started scheduling little 5Ks with the idea of committing to these monthly external goals that I knew I had to be prepared for.  Sucking wind and finishing last on race day feels bad, and training was the only way to prevent it from happening.  Then I discovered races are just plain fun to go to.  I looked forward to the free t-shirt and goodie bag, the free snacks afterward, and the festive atmosphere around race day.  I was hooked.  Now, with about three years of data to look back on, I can see that when I schedule monthly or semi-monthly races, I run more consistently.  When I don’t schedule races, I tend to have more lazy weeks.

Which blog posts have been the favorites of your readers?

I don’t know about reader-favorites, but according to the data, the post that has received the most traffic is entitled “The Horror of the Men’s Locker Room.”  Most people find it by Googling things like “men’s locker room” and “naked men” and so on.  I am sure these folks are disappointed that it’s just a neurotic blog post about me wanting some privacy while I change into my running gear.

The post that generated the most comments is entitled “What Motivates Me,” which was a Take It & Run Thursday post.  In this post, I confess to being a lazy slob, incapable of motivating myself without resorting to tricks and coercion.

Care to tell us about your job and how it supports or detracts from your running?

My job supports my running quite well.  I am lucky enough to work at a company committed to their employee’s wellness.  There is a gym on-site with a locker room and a shower.  And my building is downtown with plenty of sidewalks but also convenient to some running trails along the Ohio River.  So I easily get the bulk of my runs in during the week on my lunch break.  Another advantage is that my work schedule is flexible and results-driven, so nobody hassles me if I come in five minutes late from lunch because of a longer-than-usual workout.  My boss isn’t watching the clock, tapping his foot, wondering where I’ve been. 

My employer also supports me by sponsoring a team for Louisville’s big race, the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon.  They pay for the team’s registration plus two tickets to the pre-race pasta dinner!   

Hammerbeck_2007_LHM Hardest thing for you to run during the winter months?

Doing my long run is very hard in the winter.  Not because of the distance or the elements, but because of when I have to do it.  In order to not affect the rest of my family and our plans for the day, I run it in the mornings before everyone wakes up.  At 7 AM in December, it’s dark and cold and scary outside.  And my bed is cozy and safe.  Snuggled up in my blankets, in my flannel pajamas and thick socks, it’s all too easy to turn the alarm off and go back to sleep.  The choice between that or getting sleet in the face for an hour or two isn’t much of a choice.

But thanks to my local running group, I have a plan to help solve that problem.  Every January, my neighborhood running store sponsors a training team for the spring races.  Every Saturday at 8 AM, we meet at a local park to knock out our long runs together.  Usually, the store supplies coffee, bagels, and fruit and sometimes discounts or free gear.  But the real incentive is the people.  There’s a great bunch of regulars who’re great to hang out with.  There’s a mix of new and experienced runners, fast and slow, all at various fitness levels.  So someone always has a mentor available; there’s always someone needing a coach.  Nobody has to run alone.  They help keep me accountable, and they help me solve the winter long run problem.

You’re really getting into Twitter.  Tell us about your interest in using it.

I’m struggling to figure out the value proposition of several of these social networking tools.  I think I am getting too old for them.  Folks in their 20s and younger seem to just get Twitter and Facebook and stuff in the same way I got the world wide web before my parent’s generation had ever heard of email.  I don’t understand what Twitter offers me, and I don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of it yet. 

To me, Twitter is the quintessence of this idea of keeping in constant contact with the world and putting your life online, and as such, I really, really don’t get it.  I don’t have that urge.  I don’t know why I bother fooling with it at all.  I mean, I tweet something a few times a day, but just like with Facebook, even as I am doing it, I wonder what’s the point?  Who is out there getting any benefit from what I am doing?  How is this enriching my life?  It’s sometimes amusing to share a funny website with whoever the heck is following me, but if I do or don’t, it doesn’t seem to matter.  And speaking of futility, I cannot imagine people get much out of knowing that I am going to go grab a cup of coffee.  I guess if I took it more seriously, I could get a handle on my audience and try to be entertaining. 

I may be too existentialistic for all this.

For now, I play with Twitter as a micro-blogging project in lieu of setting up more fully thought-out blogs about other aspects of my life.  I don’t know how long I will keep it up.

Hammerbeck_2008_PJ10M Best race experience?

The 2008 Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon was my second half-marathon and my first year running that race.  The “Mini” is Louisville’s biggest race all year, both in hype- and numeric terms.  As the name implies, it’s part of the Kentucky Derby Festival, a city-wide series of events in April celebrating and culminating in the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby.  This is a Big Deal in Louisville.  Combining elements of civic pride, associations with the Derby, the urge to party, and the excitement of 12,000 people all running in the same direction, this is the event that gets chubby office workers, out-of-shape retirees, school-age kids, and life-long runners out on the streets and training throughout the cold, cruel winter.  Starting around March, it’s not unusual to hear strangers asking each other at the gas pump or in the dentist office, “So, are you running the Mini?” 

And even non-runners get excited about the race and come out to cheer by the bus load.  More on that in a second.

Like everyone else, I trained all winter for the 2008 race, and even though I had some lazy, burned-out weeks late in the schedule, I felt ready.  I showed up plenty early to take a bus from the finish area to the start, and I felt I was part of something exciting.  Even thought it was miserably cold and drizzling, the runners were animated, chatty, and cheerful.  Some were first-timers, while others were meeting up with training teammates (many organizations and companies sponsor teams).  Many were meeting friends they run the race with every year. 

The starting area was huge – several street lanes wide and a couple blocks long.  When I first arrived, I couldn’t grasp the size of the race.  But as the area slowly filled with people, the scale of the thing grew clearer as the morning wore on.  I had never run in a race with 12,000 other runners, and I didn’t know what to expect. 

From the starting gun through the third or fourth mile, it was stampede.  Runners were packed closely and tightly.  Even though I made sure to line up with my pace group, there were still hundreds of people all around me running, breathing, smiling, chatting, and enjoying the day.  The surge of energy from all that movement was palpable.  But, really, apart from the scale, nothing so far was radically different from any other race I’ve run. 

What was different, and why this is my best race experience, is that from start to finish, throngs of people were cheering us on.  In twos or threes sometimes but often in huge crowds, the community lined up along the whole route to keep us going.  Sometimes, I felt like we were running through the middle of a parade.  Sure, some people had signs that were clearly for a specific runner, but everybody cheered for everybody.  There were DJs pumping music and bands playing.  Until I was in the thick of it, I didn’t understand how motivating that kind of community support could be, especially in the last couple miles.

Then, near the finish line, my wife and daughter were there in the crowd cheering me on.  That’s not something they usually do, and that was a big surprise.  I was tired and in pain and ready to stop; seeing their faces gave be a boost that made me soar through the last quarter mile to the finish.

If I only run one race a year from now on, it will be that one.

Favorite distance?

Ten miles is a good, natural distance for me.  When I started running, I never thought I would say this, but 5Ks are too short.  By the end of three miles, my legs are warmed up, and I’ve gotten into frame of mind where I can keep going if I want to.  Right or wrong, this is where the majority of my runs end during the year when I am maintaining my base.  But almost always, at the three mile mark, my body sends a signal to my brain that says, “Boss, we could keep going if you wanted to.”  Needless to say, the temptation to keep going is stronger on some days than others. 

Once I get up to the sixth or eighth mile, that’s where I am feeling strongest.  I’m at peak flow, and I feel like I can plod along like this forever.  As my body does the work of transporting me through space, my mind is in the driver’s seat enjoying the scenery, daydreaming, and just enjoying the day.  I’m not worried about anything.  My legs don’t hurt.  I’m tiring but not tired.  Everything is humming along.  Then around the ninth mile, I start to get tired and start to think about how good a hot bath will feel.  I’m ready to stop.

After a ten miler, I always feel like I have had an excellent workout.  I’m centered and relaxed.  I know I have used everything up and given all my strength and energy to the road.  Those are never junk miles.

Current running goals?

I shall run my first marathon in April; I’m thinking about that a lot right now.  I have a training plan, and I’ve joined a running group to help me get through the long runs. Still, the distance intimidates me.  I’ve never run farther than 13.1 miles before.  But when I think about it deeper, the distance is the least of my anxieties.  The sheer scale of the prep work I’ll have to do – the sustained, prolonged commitment – is what’s weighing on my mind.  When I think of how many hours I’ll have to find in my week – all the miles I shall have to run to be in good enough shape to finish.  Right now, I don’t quite know how I am going to fit all those hours in.  My schedule is tight enough as it is with work and family and other commitments.  What will have to give?  Sleep, probably, but I know there are training consequences associated with that.

But I am going to do it.  Worrying won’t change anything.  The race is paid for, and I’m going to be at the starting line on race day unless I am physically incapable.  My hardest work will be to think these things through, make plans, make backup plans for when things go astray, and keep the project moving forward.  I have faith that my body will do what it is told to do.  Success or failure will come as a result of my ability to manage my time, energy, and mental state over the next four months in order to run consistently and stick to the plan.  Finishing this marathon will be a project management challenge, for me, rather than a physical one.

Non-running and non-blogging interests?

I enjoy puttering around the house, being a dad and a husband.  We like to travel, camp, and hike when the weather is nice.

I read a lot.  I’ve had a couple reading projects simmering on the back burner for some time, like reading a biography of each U.S. president and reading all the classics I was supposed to read in school but didn’t.  My typical pattern is to read some thick, important book on politics or history and then cleanse my palate with a few science fiction novels or a pile of comic books, and then repeat the cycle.  I also have a taste for pulpy, lurid fiction from the mid-20th Century – especially horror and hard-boiled detective stories.  This is also reflected in my taste in movies, which tends toward b-movies with zombies, kick boxers, giant robots and city-stomping lizards, alien invaders, and mad scientists. 

I love playing all sorts of games.  I lose a lot of Candyland games to my five year old daughter, but I also enjoy card games, especially Rook and Fluxx.  I’ve got a nerdy interest in ancient board games, the older the better, like senet and Chinese Chess.  I’m trying to get back into learning and playing the Japanese game called go, which is my favorite game.  I used to play a lot of go online and with a local club but fell out of the habit when my daughter was born.  Lately, I’ve started to brush back up on it.

Take It and Run Thursday: A Year in Review in 52 words or less

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 .... A year In Review in 52 words or less.  With only a few weeks left in 2008 - its time to do a review and look back to help us plan for 2008.  To help you wrap up your year, write a summary of your running year in 52 words or less - one word for each week of 2008.  Tell us about your highlights and lowlights of your running.  Talk about lessons you learned or shared.  Remind us of your favorite races or training runs.  Share all the important stuff about your 2008 running.

Next weeks theme is .... Holiday Greetings and Great Gifts.  A week from today is one of the important days in this holiday season.  Drop off a note in Take It and Run to share your holiday greetings, tell us how you are celebrating the season or tell us about the great gifts you received.

Runners LoungeCast - Episode 6 - Be Funny....again

Amy, Vanilla, Nitmos and I are at it again.  Not surprisingly, we go off topic on a few things.  If I Loungecast logo remember correctly, we may even talk about running.  I think it's around the 30 minute mark.  Enjoy! 

Amy - The Lawsons Did Dallas!

Nitmos - Feet Meet Street

Vanilla - Half Fast

Me - Running Off at the Mind

Download Ep6final 

Also available on iTunes.

Looking for Episodes 1-5 ?  Go to the Podcast page in the Lounge for links to all the Loungecasts.

A Running Year In Review - The Short Story*

The winter was brutal - too much icey-snow & cold.

I found myself battling Newtons' first law - inertia.

But then, I got moving & kept going.

Running friends made the difference!

I was lucky & did all my favorite races

No DNF/DNS - plenty lessons learned!

Running is easier when you just keep doing it.

*Tell your story and recap your running year in 52 words or less as part of TIaRT!

FREE Stuff Giveaway: SportHill running apparel

It doesn't take long to find runners with smelly running gear.  Last week runners told us how much they wanted—okay needed—Sport Wash to get the odor out of their running gear.  Who knew how vividly others describe the fragrance of our running apparel?  When their Sport Wash arrives to try, the only ones more grateful than these runners will be those who live around them and inhale. 

Last week every Lounger picked up free Sport Wash. and Penguin Brand has generously agreed to give away Sport Wash to more Loungers. So we invite you to tell us you'd like some and to notify your fellow Lounge friends of the offer--how you discuss it without implying they're stinky is up to you.  Just leave your request in the forum.

This week's FREE Stuff Giveaway Partner: SportHill

We’re thrilled to partner again with SportHill, a premier designer of performance clothing for runners, as well as for other outdoor enthusiasts.  What sets SportHill’s line of apparel apart from the rest is its “temperature-tuned clothing” constructed from unique fabrics designed for zones of comfort.

SportHill has dedicated its product line to the best material for running gear.  And Jim Hill and the team at SportHill are giving away the highly-popular Voyager running pant to this week’s winner.

SportHill voyage pantVoyage Pant side viewjpg Another lucky Runners’ Lounge member is going to enjoy a new level of comfort running this winter.  The pant has an elastic waistband with drawstring sits at natural waistline, a roomy fit with tapered leg, two side seam open pockets and auto-lock ankle zippers to keep you warm and comfortable—all without sacrificing comfort or style.

To be eligible to win, just contribute your advice this week.  All Loungers who contribute to the Giveaway Question between December 15 - 20 will be eligible to win.  Runners’ Lounge will select and announce the winner on December 22nd.

This week's Giveaway Question

What are you wearing? We see and hear quite a bit of chatter between runners of questions of what gear works for them. Take us through your winter running wardrobe and let us know what specific gear, brands, and types of running gear works for you. Don't forget to tell us about your:

  • Hat, headgear
  • Running Jackets
  • Base layers
  • Running pants & tights
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Shoes 

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!

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

Open Mic Friday: Welcome Runner Leana


One of the reasons we love runners is they're upbeat, motivated, and open to sharing what's going on their lives.  A blogging running friend we enjoy reading is Runner Leana.  From Calgary, this weekend she faces a long run while preparing for a marathon next month, and the forecast calls for a wind chill of -38.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and we're delighted to feature her.

Welcome Leana!

Tell us how you got started running and racing?

I absolutely hated running as a kid.  I would always come in close to last when we ran the mile in school.  When I was on an internship during university the company that I was working for was putting together a team for a 10K race, the Vancouver Sun Run.  I highly doubted my ability to complete 6.2 miles given my previous horror experiences with just one mile, but my friend Nikki  convinced me that I could do it.  The Sun Run is a huge race and all of the people and excitement really got me pumped up.  Running a 10K – with no training – was not nearly as bad as I figured, and from then on I was hooked on the concept of racing.  Enjoying running?  That might have taken a bit longer, but I did get there!

BanffTea008 What’s the secret to running in the frigid temps of Calgary?

Calgary is a pretty interesting city to run in.  It can be sunny and warm one day, then snowing and freezing the next.  A big part of it is completely mental – you just need to get out the door in that cold weather!  Good winter gear is essential as it is amazing the difference that a good pair of gloves or running tights can make.  I find that once I’m out there for a few minutes the weather isn’t so bad, and chances are, you will see quite a few other runners out there braving the elements as well.  It helps to know that there are so many other crazy runners in this city!  Even this past weekend when I ran 20 miles during a heavy snowfall I still saw plenty of other runners out, and I felt pretty comfortable in the elements.  There is a limit though!  If it is really icy out, or if the temperature is below -20°C (-4°F) then I’ll try to rearrange my schedule.

Favorite cold-weather running apparel?

I have plenty of favorites!

  • Smartwool socks are my all time favorite socks for cold weather running.
  • Sugoi makes some terrific running tights that are great in cold weather.  The inside is nice and fleecy and they really help to block the wind.
  • I picked up a fantastic pair of running gloves from a yoga outfitting store called Lululemon.  They are lightweight but help to keep my fingers warm!

You have a marathon in one month.  How is your training going?

Training is going really well!  I’ll be running the Walt Disney World marathon in January.  This will be my third marathon, all in the space of 12 months.  Wow…it seems weird to write that!  I’ve definitely questioned signing up for a marathon in January that guarantees me plenty of long runs in November and December, but so far the winter training has gone well.  This is definitely the most intensely I’ve trained for a marathon (or any race) as I’ve been incorporating a lot of speed and hill work in, but I’m definitely noticing the difference.  My pace and endurance have improved significantly and I’m feeling really strong as I’m heading in to the home stretch for training.

StrathmoreTri08036-smaller Best taper advice you’ve followed?

To know that the training and fitness is all in the bag by the time you hit the taper.  Taking it easy in the final two weeks is pretty key to make sure that your body is well rested for the race.  I think I lost a lot of motivation to do much of anything during the taper before my last marathon so I kind of took this advice to heart…maybe a bit too much!

What about taper advice you’ve ignored?

The thing that I’ve definitely ignored before my last two marathons was that I needed to keep off my feet as much as possible the day before the race!  My first marathon was at Disney World and my second marathon was in Quebec City.  When you pick a “destination” marathon it is really hard to be relaxing the day before the race instead of out sightseeing.  After all, who wants to be sitting around the hotel room all day?  This is going to be something that I’ll really try to work on for my next race at Disney World.  I just haven’t quite come up with the concept of how I’ll achieve that yet though!

Favorite gear?

I have a definite type A engineering personality.  I love knowing all of the details of my runs, so the one thing I can’t leave the house without is my Garmin.  Sad, but true, I am tied to…er…I mean I love my technology!  I’ve actually found it is a great tool to track my progress as I’ve gotten faster, and to see how my long runs have compared in the past.  As I start to focus on more technique based workouts I’ve found it really handy to create them in Garmin’s software on my computer, then upload to my Garmin.  Then I can get out and run without watching the clock too much.  Garmin will just beep at me when it is time for me to start doing something different.

You have a great blog.  What makes it unique and interesting?

Thanks so much!  I’m pretty open and honest on my blog.  It kind of surprises me that I am, but I think people want to know the ups and downs of your running.  I’ve gotten amazing support from blogging friends after a bad run or through tough times in training.

The most interesting thing for me about my blog is to see just how far my running has come in the last year and half since I started writing.  It serves as a huge motivation for me to get out the door, and it has also pushed me in new directions, such as towards the world of multi-sport events.  If it wasn’t for reading about other bloggers and their triathlon experiences I don’t know that I would have considered a triathlon.  Without a doubt the biggest improvement in my running happened once I started incorporating swimming and biking in my routine.

SF-Oct07158 Best race experience?

I had the most amazing experience at the 2007 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco.  Running through San Francisco in a race where the majority of runners are women was fantastic and it was a day when everything just came together.  The weather was perfect and my running felt so strong.  The race course is a tough one as you definitely tackle some hills through San Francisco, but I felt so motivated to power through to the top.  I was really hoping to meet a certain time goal – a 2:15 or better – and to do that on such a challenging course felt like such a great accomplishment when I finished in 2:14:56.  To get a Tiffany’s finisher necklace from a fireman in a tux afterwards?  That was like icing on the cake!

Any quirky running traits?

I’m a huge fan of doing my best Fonzie impression when I run.  Every single one of my race pictures has me giving a thumbs up to the camera!  I have no idea why…

I also always breathe out on a left foot strike.  If I don’t, I feel like my rhythm is off.  Weird, eh?

W50885 Care to tell us about your job and how it supports or detracts from your running?

I feel really fortunate to have a job that allows me to run and train.  When I first finished university I was working as an engineer in the oilfield, on call 24 hours a day, and working 11 days on and 3 days off.  Needless to say, this was not the healthiest or fittest time of my life!  I now work in a place where so many of my coworkers are active – running over lunch, biking in to work, or hiking on the weekend.  It gives us some common ground besides our jobs.  While work can get busy I always manage to find the time to get my runs in.

What have you not done with your running that you’re still looking forward to?

I’m still looking to break 30 minutes in an officially timed 5K race.  I came close at the Calgary Police 5K in April this year where I clocked in at 30:22.

I really did feel like I needed that tree to hold me up afterwards!  I broke the 30 minute barrier in the Strathmore Women’s Sprint Triathlon when I ran the 5K in 29:12, but I still really want to hit that goal in a running only event!

Non-running and non-blogging interests?

You mean there is life outside of running and blogging?  Hmm, I’ll get back to you…  Truthfully, I love to cook and wine is also a big passion of mine.  I have a little cellar in my basement and wine tasting is definitely one of my favorite past times.

What is one unique thing about you that most people don't know?

When I was in grade 5 and 6 I had ridiculous knee pain, but never quite figured out what was causing it.  I used to be afraid to run because of this, but luckily my knees have behaved themselves in adulthood!

Most embarrassing running moment?

I was meeting up with a group to run with for the first time.  I was wearing a running skirt and trying out a new Fuel Belt.  I was running along and I guess my skirt was getting caught up in the Fuel Belt and riding up.  One of the ladies in the back of the group kindly notified me that I was starting to flash her…  Oops…  Nothing like picking a memorable way to introduce yourself to a new running group!

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