Tag Archive | Running

For Bill

I met William “Bill” R. Walker and his lovely wife Evelyn in the fall of 2001. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, it should. They are my best friend Cicely’s parents. Meeting them was like meeting the real-life cross of the Huxtables and the Cleavers. I was instantly envious that Cicely had such great parents. They had come to Virginia Beach to visit Cicely and me in our rented condo, the condo which we now refer to as the “Argo Ct. Experience”. Bill and Evelyn were warm and effusive. They instantly whisked us off for shopping and dinner. I remember that first dinner distinctly. We went to Bangkok Garden, a local Thai restaurant. The food was so authentic that Evelyn and Bill were instantly transported back to when they lived in Thailand. Bill even spoke to our waiter in Thai, which delighted and startled him. If that wasn’t funny enough, Bill declared he was going to drink the sauce directly from the bowl of his Ginger Chicken. Evelyn was mortified. Cicely and I laughed. He didn’t do it. Although, he was “this close”. It was a wonderful evening – the first of many unforgettable times spent with the Walker family. It goes without saying that Bill and Evelyn became like second parents to me.

Bill worked in North Carolina after having spent a few years in Kuwait. Evelyn split her time between NC and Nashville, TN where she was caring for Cicely’s grandmother. Cicely and I would frequently visit Bill in NC. We would go to get mini-escapes from college work and our jobs as waitresses. It was serene and peaceful. I nicknamed their home the “Fortress of Solitude and Naps.” As a bonus, we were able to do our laundry, too. As college students who hated laundromats, this was the epitome of luxury. We once arrived while Bill was at work, loaded up our laundry, and fell asleep. Bill woke us proclaiming that he thought he’d been burglarized, but burglars don’t do laundry.

Cicely and I celebrate her birthday during one of our many visits

I relished these short visits. They were mostly spent relaxing, enjoying meals and having movie marathons with Bill. He’d regale us with stories from his work overseas and embarrass Cicely with stories from her childhood. Because Bill was also a photo enthusiast, we would “talk shop” about photography while Cicely read. We would make plans to go on photo safaris. Bill was very athletic and we’d trade adventure stories. Even in his 60s, Bill was still an avid cyclist and tennis player.

During one of our visits, Bill was considerably less energetic. He dismissed it and stated his doctor diagnosed him as being anemic. In March 2002, Bill was headed back to the doctor because he was feeling worse. That visit brought the worst possible news. Bill had Leukemia. It was a shock. How could someone so healthy and vibrant get so sick? Bill immediately began chemotherapy. We were all hopeful he’d pull through. Bill was a fighter. He had been a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and followed that up with government work in many of the world’s hotspots like Panama and Kuwait. If anyone could fight Leukemia, it was Bill.

I was wrong. Leukemia had gotten a head start with Bill. Even with the chemotherapy and other treatments, Bill deteriorated quickly. By the summer, Bill was physically half the man he used to be. He was frail and thin. It was heartbreaking. All the while, he was very upbeat and determined. The months and treatments passed quickly.

Before we knew it, it was Thanksgiving. Because I knew Bill loved pie, I had found a local pie maker and brought an extravaganza of pies.  I bought 6 different pies – all his favorites. He cried when he saw all the pies. I told him that pies are not supposed to bring tears and that they must be terrible pies if they made him cry. He laughed. We had a pie party. By then, Cicely had moved back home to spend more time with her dad. At Thanksgiving dinner, I announced that I was moving to California. Bill and Evelyn were both very encouraging. They told me it was time for me to have my big adventure. It was the last time I saw Bill.

Between the holiday rush and packing up to move, I didn’t get another opportunity to visit Cicely, Evelyn and Bill in NC.  In January 2003, I arrived in Southern California. Shortly after that, Bill passed away surrounded by his family. I was unable to attend his funeral.

I knew then as I know now that Bill’s positive influence in my life cannot fully be measured. At the time, I was estranged from my father and had broken up with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. I was on the road to being what one might call a ball-busting man-hater. I’m not kidding. Bill doted on Cicely and was the kind of father I always wished I’d had. Bill and Evelyn frequently teased one another and “drove each other crazy”, but you could still feel the love after 40+ years of marriage. He actively volunteered and was an upstanding member of his community. Bill reminded me that there are good and amazing men in the world. If that wasn’t enough, he treated me as well as his own daughter. Bill’s time in my life was brief, but it left an indelible mark on my heart.

Because I was unable to attend his funeral, I wanted to find some other way to honor Bill. Initially, I thought I’d participate in the MS 100, which was an event that Bill regularly participated in. I quickly scrapped that idea when I discovered that I was in no way shape or form a cyclist.

My awesome friend Ben

My friend Ben trained for the L.A. Triathlon with Team In Training. Helping him fund raise and seeing him train inspired me. I was all set to train for the Nike Women’s Marathon with Team In Training. Then, life got in the way. I had a career that took all of my time. I stopped being active and put on weight. Years passed. I got married. I got divorced. I moved back to Virginia. I forgot about Team In Training and fundraising to commemorate Bill.

Regina and I after the Rock N Roll Denver Half

It wasn’t until last year that I thought about Team In Training again. I ran the Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon with my friend Regina. Seeing her with the rest of the Team In Training Denver chapter convinced me.

Newest member of Team In Training

Here I am. After 8 years, I think it’s time I finally honor a man who meant a lot to me. I’m raising money for an organization that is fighting to find a cure for the very disease that took him far too soon. I don’t think any family should go through what the Walkers went through.

Please support me as I train for my 1st Marathon. It’s always been on my “Bucket List” to run one. I’ve tried to lotto into the Nike Women’s Marathon twice. This felt like my year.

Of course, donations will be greatly appreciated. I’ll have several fundraisers in the months coming up.

For those that would like to donate now, here is a link to my Team In Training page.

This will be quite an adventure. If you’d like to follow along with my marathon training, please feel free to read Anne K. Running Away.

Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Running

On April 10, 2011 I ran my fifth half marathon. Exactly one year prior, I laced up my sneakers and headed out for a walk. I never knew that it would change my life.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be running multiple half marathons. When I mentioned my accomplishment on facebook and twitter, I had a few friends ask me for advice on how to start running. I’m not a super athlete nor am I sports medicine specialist. By most standards, I’m fairly slow. I’m not wholly comfortable telling people how to start. I will be glad to share some tips or things I wish I had known when I had started running.

  • Invest in a good pair of running shoes.

    My current shoes Saucony Progrid Guide 3

    This sounds simple enough, but it is very important. Don’t wait until your old shoes wear out. Buy a new pair when you first start out. I say invest because a good pair of running shoes can cost about $100. It is well worth the money. Good shoes just aren’t about taking care of your feet. Good shoes early on can PREVENT a lot of overuse injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. I learned this the hard way. My first pair of shoes was purchased on sale from Nordstrom Rack. I bought them simply because I like the brand and they looked like they were good shoes. A month into my running my heels began to hurt and I started to develop shin splints. Thankfully, I went to my local running store and was fitted for the proper shoes. I was wearing the wrong shoes for the way I run. With some time and good stretches, the problems resolved themselves.

    I have to emphasis going to a running specialty store, not a big box sporting goods store like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Chalet, Sports Authority, etc. The big box stores are great, but your local running store are staffed with experienced folks who will fit you for shoes based on the way you run or walk. They can also give you great advice on running.

    Buying shoes doesn’t have to be expensive. Once a shoe is recommended to you, you can always ask if they have last season’s model of the same shoe on sale. I got my latest pair of shoes for $59 simply because they were “old”.

    Don’t buy shoes based on ads or what your friends wear. Everyone’s feet are different. Strides and running mechanics vary. You really have to wear what works for you. I recently started wearing Saucony. My sister loves her Asics. We have similar body builds, but run differently. Hence the difference in shoes.

  • Buy performance/wicking workout clothes.
    100% Cotton is not your friend. When I started walking, I wore old t-shirts and sweatpants. I was heavier and quite frankly that’s all that would fit. In the beginning, this wasn’t a problem. It was cooler and I really didn’t break too much of a sweat. Once I started really moving, it became a problem. Cotton absorbs moisture. This means that if you’re a sweat monster like me your clothes and socks become a wet, sloppy mess. In the summer, this makes you hotter. In the winter, you are colder. Think about it. Cold and wet. Not a good combo. Wet socks are a breeding ground for blisters. When you’re uncomfortable, you’re less likely to continue your workout.

    The solution is clothes made of wicking material or cotton blends. I have a personal preference for Nike Women’s line of running clothes. I’m obsessed with the Nike Tempo Track Shorts. My friends Jen and Kipp gave them to me as a birthday gift. They fit comfortably and don’t ride up when you run. I like them so much that I now own 7 pairs. I also like Nike tops and sports bras. I posted on my tumblr my favorite jog bra. Nike clothes are a bit pricey, but I’ve found that Nike.com puts their clothes on sale frequently. They can also be found at a significant discount at TJMaxx, Marshall’s and Ross. Another affordable option is Champion C9 from Target. Like Nike, Target also puts their workout clothes on sale. I’ve bought sleeveless tanks for $2.48 a piece. Just make sure that you buy Duo Dry®, which is their wicking fabric. This is available for men and women.
  • Nike + system sucks.
    Yeah… I said it. One of my early motivators when I started walking/running was the Nike+ system. I loved that it gave me so much info and feedback about my workouts. It posted to my twitter and facebook accounts. Those posts generated support from my friends. It also allowed me to chart my progress. Sounds good so far, right?

    My problem with the Nike + system (not to be confused with the Nike+ GPS app) is that it is highly inaccurate. This article explains how the Nike+ works. The Nike+ essentially calculates your speed and distance based on the steps you take. It’s hard to explain, but unless you recalibrate your Nike+ sensor often it’s wildly inaccurate. This meant that when I ran my 1st 5k I sprinted when I thought I have 1k left. Turns out, the Nike+ was off. I still had 2k left. I ran out of steam before the finish. The Nike+ also led me to believe I was a much faster runner than I actually was. This leads me to my next suggestion…
  • Download the Runkeeper app
    This app is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. They have a free version that works well for most beginners. You download the app and it uses the GPS system already available on your phone. The app is very easy-to-use and accurate. Like the Nike+ system, it charts your progress and allows you to post to social media. It sounds silly, but the posts on Facebook and Twitter are helpful. I got some much needed encouragement when I first started running/walking. The charts give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Get on a program
    You don’t have to do anything hardcore. Many people love the Couch to 5K program. I downloaded a Couch to 5K app that was a little too advanced for my out-of-shape self. I am a fan of Hal Higdon’s workout plans. There are dozens of others. Find one that sounds workable for you. Having a little structure keeps you going and helps prevents injury. All of the beginning programs are structured so that you build up slowly and don’t hurt yourself. Believe it or not, if you do too much, too soon, you could be in for a world of hurt.
  • Join a running group
    The running community is the most supportive group of people I have ever seen. From elite runners to “slowpokes”, everyone is willing to help everyone else progress. By joining a group, you can meet people who are the same skill level or slightly faster than you. You can motivate one-another, commiserate in your aches and pains, and revel in your small victories. For my lady friends, it’s also a safety issue. There is safety in numbers. Having company also makes your runs that much more enjoyable. You won’t believe how quickly 3 miles passes with the right people by your side. This is something that I didn’t learn until just recently.

    You can find running buddies through sources like Meetup.com or your local running store. There is a group for everyone. I live in a medium-sized city. There are dozens of groups – mommy groups, morning runners, evening runners, church groups, after-work groups, etc, etc.If you can’t find a local running group, get a virtual running group. I joined DailyMile. DailyMile is a social networking site where you can post your runs and workouts and other members can comment. If you’re having a tough day, people can send you “motivation”. They also have challenges like “Run 50 miles in a month” and “Daily Missions” where they ask you questions like “Name your proudest achievement”.  If you get into running, it can also save you from boring your non-runner friends with all your running-related stories.
  • Sign up for a 5K
    Notice I said 5K, not Half Marathon. Also I might point out that I didn’t put a timeframe on how soon you should do your first 5k. Some people need 6 months to train. Others need a few weeks. It really depends on you. Doing a 5K gives you a goal. Again, goals keep you motivated. 5K races are short, but sweet. It is a very satisfying feeling to cross that finish line no matter how long it takes you to get there. Depending on the race organizers, there usually a post-race party and free t-shirt involved. If you register early enough, most 5Ks cost about $20-25 dollars.
  • Have fun.
    D had to remind me of this. I was beating myself up because I wasn’t “improving” as much as I liked nor was I as fast as our friends. It’s easy to get caught up on the numbers or compare yourself to others. I have a very competitive group of runner friends and felt really badly that I “kept them all waiting” at races. Once I let all of that go and let the endorphins take over, running became enjoyable again.

That’s my long-winded take on it all. For those that read all of it, I hope you weren’t too terribly bored. If you want more info from the pros, here are some other useful links:

How to Start as a Runner from Runners World

Newbie Runners articles from Active.com

Happy Running 🙂

Mile High Hijinks

October 13-19, 2010 – Denver, Colorado

I was graciously invited by Regina and her sister Claudina to visit Denver, CO.  And Regina has been quite persistent. She’s been trying to get me out there for YEARS. 5 years to be exact. Rob and I shied her off with a variety of excuses.  Then, I divorced Rob and ran out of excuses. I hadn’t seen these two since my wedding in 2007. I love them to pieces. They’re like long-lost sisters or cousins. On occasion, I’ve even told people we were cousins.

Regina, me, and Claudina - August 2007

I cashed in my Frequent Flyer Miles and booked a flight to Denver. Regina has had slightly ulterior motives. She’s trying to get me to move to Denver. Since I was in the midst of my city search, I added Denver to the list. What did I have to lose? By many accounts, Denver would be my kind of city. It’s accessible to the mountains where you can enjoy as many outdoor activities as you can stomach. It has an art scene and an award-winning restaurant scene.

Regina's dog Bruiser - Jr. Host

I couldn’t have asked for better hostesses. I stayed with Regina and Claudina in their cozy townhome/railroad-style apartment. I wish I had taken pictures of the place because it was so cute and chic.

I did a lot of exploring while I was there… most of which was by choice on foot.  Denver is a very walkable city with wide well-maintained bike/walking paths. You can definitely feel the altitude difference, especially someone like me who lives at sea-level and has asthma. That didn’t stop me. My only disappointment is that I didn’t get to go out to mountains and hike. I suspected that happened as a ploy for me to plan a return trip.

Invesco Field, which was literally right up the street from Regina's house

A view of the Millennium Bridge in Downtown Denver

Night view of the same bridge

Larimer Square

Falling Rock Taphouse

Big Blue Bear: Colorado Convention Center - "I See What You Mean." 40-foot high steel sculpture, encased in a fiberglass and cement composite, by artist Lawrence Argent.

Denver also has a thriving art and craft scene. It’s a little on the hipster side, but I can’t help but envy them for it. Claudina and I perused much of the Craft and Yarn stores in the immediate vicinity.

Crocheted public art adorning construction site near Union Station

Fancy Tiger - Craft shop

Fancy Tiger Craft shop

Local Craft Show

Of course, I ate like someone who was just rescued from a desert island. I do this every time I go out-of-town. It’s now part of my modus operandi.

Spring Rolls, Vietnamese Iced Coffe, and Phở from Phở So

Tom Ka Kai and Thai Iced Tea from Thai Basil

Drunken Noodles with beef from Thai Basil

There was also some drinking involved… I shan’t disclose exactly how much except to say the margaritas were fantastico.

Margaritas from Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant - They packed a big punch. The little one in front was mine.

Out of all the eateries, my favorite was Snooze A.M. Eatery. By Saturday, Darius had arrived. Snooze was recommended to him. We waited over an hour for a seat, but it was oh-so-worth it.

Circular Booths at Snooze

D's Pancake Flight - Buttermilk, Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin pancakes

D's Chorizo breakfast taco

My "Sandwich I Am" - soft pretzel roll filled with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and a sausage patty, served with a side of smoked cheddar hollandaise & house hash browns.

I was also there to run Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon with Regina who was running with Team-in-Training.

Regina and reminder of who she was running for

It was freezing at the start!

Regina, me, and Darius freezing at the start of the race

The Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon was a great Half Marathon. The course was very scenic. It brought you past many of Denver’s landmarks like Pepsi Center and Coors Field. My favorite part of the course was in City Park. There was a point in the park where you had breath-taking vista of the city and the mountains. Unfortunately, my ankles were not fans of the crowned roads through the park. I learned the hard way not to run on the outsides of crowned roads.
Darius started well ahead of us. Regina and I kept a good pace… until we needed to take a potty break. There wasn’t nearly enough portapottys along the course route. We eventually stopped at a coffee-house to use their facilities. The wait cost us about 10-12 minutes on our overall race time. It did give us a nice opportunity for a photo-op.

Regina and me at our Potty Stop

Somewhere in city park, Regina had some hip troubles and I continued on without her. I was doing well until I got to some of the uphill sections around mile 9 and 10. After that, it was a struggle to finish. The altitude didn’t help with my asthma. I did finish. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

Sprinting to the finish - photo by Darius Daniel

Darius and I at the Finish

Regina and I at the Team-in-Training tent - photo by Darius Daniel

After the race, we had my favorite post-race meal – burgers! Don’t ask me why I love burgers after a race, but with a 1900 calorie post-race deficit I’m not going to question it.

Citygrille Burger from City Grille - Half lb. freshly ground sirloin, melted Swiss, bacon and the Grille's zesty Caesar dressing

This was a good trip. In case it isn’t obvious, I really liked Denver. If it was the 27 year-old version of myself who was an avid climber and outdoorswoman visiting, I’d probably just have Myles and my things shipped to me in Denver. I wouldn’t even bother with my return ticket. However, my current incarnation is very gun-shy about moving halfway across the country again. As much as I love Regina and Claudina, I think they’d get tired of me quickly… hahaha. So, Denver is going to stay one of my favorite vacation destinations. Besides, I have some mountains I still need to explore 😉

Phenomenal Philly

September 17-19

I’m continuing my tour of the U.S. for the Great City Search. Next stop Philadelphia. I went to meet with some friends and to run another Half Marathon. It was decided that a road trip was in order.. I was surprised to discover that it was only a 5.5 hour drive.

Veterans Memorial Bridge - Delaware

Philadelphia City Hall - Hipstamatic Pic iPhone 4

Reading Terminal Market is a food-lover’s dream. There are stalls and stalls of tantalizing food. Fresh fruits and veggies. Cuisine from around the world. Cheeses. Desserts. It was sensory overload.

Reading Terminal Market

Bassett’s Ice Cream is absolutely delicious. If I hadn’t been so full from the Pad Thai we ate, I would’ve probably gotten my cone… or fought D for the rest of ours.

Bassett's Ice Cream at Reading Terminal Market

D with the Ice Cream we shared.

Even though it was too early for Halloween, we went to Eastern Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls. This was a big deal simply because I don’t like going to Haunted Houses. I’m jumpy and easily rattled. It makes for a nerve-wracking time for me and oodles of entertainment for anyone accompanying me. D can vouch that he was highly entertained by my level of hysteria. I’m not the best person to be the judge of scare level since I’m easily frightened, but D claims that this show is among the best he’s seen. Despite screaming the entire tour, it was definitely fun.

We met up with my dear friend Ben! (I feel compelled to always exclaim his name… Don’t ask).

Ben and I

We went to Monk’s Cafe which was highly recommended by a Philly Food Blog. After eating and drinking there, there is good reason. First, the beer selection is listed in a booklet! I love Belgian ales. I felt at home. They are renowned for their mussel pots, which was great for us, but poor thinking since we were dining with my Jewish friend. (slaps hand to forehead!). Thankfully, Ben had already eaten and didn’t mind that we gorged ourselves on shellfish.

My Thai Curry Mussels - Monk's Flemish Sour, fumè, Thai red curry, bais, garlic & coconut milk

D's Ghent Mussels - Ghent Saison Dupont, fumè, parsley, carmelized leeks, bacon, bleu cheese & garlic

We want to sample more of Philly’s nightlife and headed to Good Dog Bar. Of course, I was enthralled by the decor. They have a gallery of dog portraits on the wall.

Good Dog Bar - Philadelphia

Saturday was first full day of sightseeing. Perhaps, the phrase FULL DAY was taken too literally. We had breakfast at Bonte. They make Belgian street style waffles. They mix the fruit into the batter and cook it.  It was light and tasty.

Strawberry Waffle from Bonte

After our light breakfast, we walked to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. I’m a history buff. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting those sites. The last time I was in Philly was for a high school field trip.

Liberty Bell

Independence Hall - Hipstamatic Pic - iPhone 4

Room where Declaration of Independence was signed

Clock on Exterior of Independence Hall

We had lunch at City Tavern, which is a reconstructed replica of tavern where many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence socialized. It was über touristy, but we didn’t care. The food was good and in keeping with our historical theme for the day.

Bread made from recipes that date back to the 1700s

Fried Oysters appetizer

My Turkey Pot Pie

Next was the worst call on my part – the Philadelphia Zoo. The zoo wasn’t bad, but it was the worst choice the day before a Half Marathon. I really wanted to catch up with my childhood friend Michelle and her family. It didn’t dawn on me that there would be A LOT of walking. By the end of the zoo visit, we were beat. I feel horribly about it because it put D and I in a bad position for the next day’s Half Marathon.

Lucia, Me, Delia, & Michelle

Lucia with her favorite statue

Polar bear napping

We power-napped after the zoo and attempted to Carbo-load at Nodding Head Brewery.

Salmon from Nodding Head Brewery

Of course, Sunday was devoted to my 2nd Half Marathon. It’s hard to believe I chose to run my 2nd Half Marathon just 2 weeks after my first one. I have D to thank for that. He made it sound as though it wasn’t a big deal. To a certain extent, it wasn’t.


On our way to the start of the race

Bright and chipper before the start of the race

I cannot fully express how much I love race day. I’m nervous and jittery, but I enjoy every minute of it. The Rock N Roll Philadelphia course is scenic. It starts in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and goes through downtown Philadelphia. It continues along the Schuylkill River. While picturesque, that portion of the race felt endless.


sprinting the finish of the Philadelphia Half - iPhone 4 photo by D. Daniel

iPhone 4 photo by D. Daniel

I hit the wall at Mile 10 and started having problems with my asthma.  I struggled and still finished 8 minutes faster than the Virginia Beach Half. Woohoo!

With my finisher's medal

After the race, we paused from some tourist shots.

The infamous steps of the Philadelphia Musuem. No running up them

We had lunch at Q BBQ and Tequila. I love a good burger after a race.

A much-deseved post-race Burger and Fries

All in all, I really like Philadelphia. It has the big city feel without being quite as overwhelming as NYC. It’s definitely on my list of places to consider.

Running away

As you might recall, I started running a few months ago. I started April 5th to be exact.

My original running stats

I was encouraged to run races. I was told that it was good way to train. Races would give me goals. I started with a 5K and then I ran the Xterra 10K trail run for my birthday. It’s sort of snowballed from there. At the writing of this post, I’ve completed 10 races.

TriSpan 10K - Wilmington, NC - photos by Darius Daniel - 7/10/10

Military Challenge 5K - Virginia Beach, VA - 07/31/10

ASYMCA Mud Run 8/7/10

Surfer's Healing 5K - 8/21/10

2010 San Diego Fire Run - 8/29/10

Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon - 9/5/10

Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon - 9/19/10 - photo by Darius Daniel

Neptune Festival 8K - 9/25/10

The question has come up why do I do it? Or why do I do some many races?

There are several reasons.

  • I’m a running-addicted, crack whore. Seriously. I am addicted to the Runner’s high. I am among a fortunate group of people who gets a high WHILE running. There’s even an article about how some people are addicted to exercise. A few miles into a run, I’m euphoric. It’s the best. The downside is that when I don’t run for a while I get a little down. Withdrawals. I guess that’s why it’s an addiction.
  • I got tired of being overweight. For years, I was between 25-30 lbs heavier. It started with a thyroid condition. I picked up bad eating habits. I dined out frequently. I was married to a Catering Chef. Need I say more? It got to a point where little things would tire me. When I was loading boxes during my move, I was completely wiped out. I’m only in my mid-30s! I knew I was in trouble if I didn’t do something. So I started running. The weight loss started off slow, but then took off like a freight train. The best part is that I feel great. My energy levels are up.

Before & After

  • I enjoy the sense of accomplishment. I’m goal-oriented. I start a race and there’s a finish. Simple as that. Either I’m pushing my endurance or speed. After the year that I’ve had with moving and the divorce, I feel as though I’ve had quite a few setbacks. Running and completing races gives my self-confidence a much-needed boost.
  • I love the camaraderie. The running community is very supportive. From elite runners to newbies, people are always quick to offer support and advice.I’ve made a lot of new friends through running. A bonus is that the post-race atmosphere is festive. Then again, I think they may have to do with the free beer that’s available after most races.

ASYMCA Mud Run - Andy, Me, Darius & Leigh

Military Challenge 5K - Darius, Me, and Jess

Surfer's Healing 5K - Patty, Sarah & Kim

Surfer's Healing 5K - Cathee, Me, & Jodi

Now that I’ve gone over why I run, let me get something off of my chest.

Although I’m dating another runner, he’s NOT a reason why I run.

I mention this because when people find out I’m involved with another runner they jump to stupid conclusions. They act as though my accomplishments are suddenly less impressive. Why?! It’s not as though he runs for me. We barely run together. He’s an elite runner who’s been running for 8+ years. I’m a newbie. We participate in the same events, but certainly don’t finish together. If anything, he spends A LOT of time waiting for me.

Darius and I at Xterra 10K

I’m offended by the inference. It suggests that I do things because I’m motivated by men or I do things to impress men. Uh.. That’s a big NO. Rob is a road cyclist. I tried road cycling, but I hated it and didn’t continue. My point? I do things because I want to do them, not because of the people I’m involved with. Running is definitely a sport that takes serious time and commitment. There is no way I would do it for anyone other than myself.

Me & Darius at Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

Is he the reason for all the races? Possibly.  When I first met him, Darius did 3 Half Marathons within a week span. Then he went on a few of out-of-town trips for races. He made it sound like the best time. I was intrigued. Then I did a few races of my own and I was hooked. Now, we have a fairly busy race schedule. One of my goals is to shorten his wait time for me at the finish line.

There you go… Now you know why I run. Any more questions?

1st Half Marathon

September 4-5, 2010

My mad dash to the airport had put in me in a tough predicament. I arrived home in Virginia a mere 20 hours before the Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. I barely slept on my flight. I couldn’t get comfortable. I had the dreaded middle seat. My whole body was sore from running and dragging my wheeled carry-on through the city. I was emotionally exhausted from the week’s proceedings.

After picking up my bags, I headed directly to the Race Expo. I picked up my race packet which included my race number. Once had I had that, the nerves really set in. I barely noticed anything else at the Expo. I was just cognizant enough to buy a souvenir t-shirt. The rest is a blur. At lunch afterwards, I didn’t fully enjoy my sushi, which I love, because I was so distracted.

I finally got home and attempted to nap. My nap was thwarted by my very busy household. I was so short on sleep that it was almost criminal. I tried to unpack and get my race gear together. Instead of carb-loading, I had a light dinner of Wendy’s chili and a baked potato. I went to bed early. Despite only having had about 3 hours of sleep the night before, the sandman did not appear. I tossed and turned for hours before finally falling asleep.

I had trained all summer for this, but you can’t train for emotional exhaustion, jetlag and sleep-deprivation. This was shaping up to be my worst case scenario.

I was up bright and early and began tweeting my experience. Here are my tweets with additional photos and commentary.

It was a unseasonably mild day. Temps in the 70s with low humidity.  Perfect day for a Half Marathon.

I was in Corral 23 which had me starting 36 minutes after the official start of the race. That gave me 36 whole minutes to really get worked up in a nervous frenzy. I felt like crap from the start. I was sore and tired, but I was determined to run. I knew I would finish even if it meant it would take an eternity.

I was in a very slow Corral. There were a lot of walkers in my group. What was most irritating to me was not only were some people walking they were holding hands and forming chains 4 people across. I’m all for support and solidarity, but geez it was still early. Leave some room for the rest of us to pass. I burned a lot of energy early on just passing people.

During my training, I found that it takes me at least 3 miles to settle in and get a comfortable pace. I wasn’t surprised early in the race when I couldn’t quite get into a decent pace and rhythm.

At Mile 4, I really felt terrible and I was panicked. My asthma was bothering me. I was hyperventilating. My legs already felt like rubber. I still had another 9.1 miles. I was in trouble. I had a Gu Energy Gel and tried to focus on the music playing on my iPod.

Miles 4-9 went through Camp Pendelton. That stretch felt endless because the course wound around a bit. There was plenty of bands and cheerleaders along the way which helped significantly.

By Mile 7, I was really questioning my sanity. All I could think of was this shirt that I almost bought that said “This seemed like a good idea a few months ago.” I was so exhausted that I spelled Half Marathon wrong in my hashtag.

My tweet that said “struggling” was a gross understatement. I was at a point where I was really questioning whether or not I would finish. My asthma was really bothering me and I was using my inhaler almost every 0.25 mile. What saved me was all the support I received from friends. I received several text messages, facebook comments and tweets. All the communication nearly killed my iPhone battery, but saved my morale. The positive words and thoughts buoyed me onward.

Mile 10 put back towards the beach where I knew the finish line was close by. Only 3.1 miles left to go. I dug into the last of my reserves and picked up my pace.

As is my luck, my mom and sister kept calling while I was trying to sprint the last 0.5 mile to the finish line. I don’t think I’ve ever been that rude to my mom, but that was one time that I REALLY couldn’t talk.

I crossed the finish line at 10:33 AM with a total time of 2 hours 56 minutes 44 seconds. It was not the goal time I had in mind. With everything that transpired prior to the race, I was grateful to have finished.

I was euphoric and fatigued. I had finished my first Half Marathon. Even though I felt terrible throughout, I’m certain there will be many more Half Marathons to come. 🙂

My First 10K

Lucky Numbers - iPhone pic

I wanted to do something BIG this year for my birthday. Because I’ve fallen in love with running, I wanted to do a race on my birthday. I had already done a 5K and wanted to challenge myself. 10K races seemed like the next step. I googled 10K races in my area. The first one that came up in my search was the Xterra Fugitive 10K in Richmond. I signed up with minimal hesitation.

Once I told my runner friends what I had done, they were all a bit stunned. Some even admitted that they wouldn’t do an Xterra race. Even my really supportive friends looked at me like I was crazy when I said that I was going to do the Xterra 10K Trail Run. {gulp} What had I done?

In the 2 weeks leading up to the race, I becoming increasingly more anxious. I forced myself to run in terrible conditions – hot, humid, and/or rolling hills.

The day before the race. I was jittery ball of nerves. I got my race clothes together and headed out-of-town.

I was up at 5:15AM. By 5:45, I was on my way to the race. The nerves and anxiety were getting the best of me. I have no idea why. It wasn’t as though I was trying to finish within a specific time. My goal for this race was simply to finish. Yet because I’m such a high-strung individual, I was worked up in a frenzy… in my head.

Runners warming up

Brian and Darius warming up

I picked up my race packet and pinned my bib number on. The temperature wasn’t too bad. It was approximately 74º with 80% humidity. {I love how I now think 80% humidity is ok. Hello, VA} The starting gun was fired and we were off.

If you look really carefully, you can find me - Xterra Fugitive 10K start - photo courtesy of Xterra

I was off to a really slow start. Just my luck, none of my tracking gadgets would work. The Nike+ on my iPod nano wouldn’t work and the Runkeeper app on my iPhone wouldn’t start. What the eff?! I was pissed, but what could I do? The course started out on pavement and along streets. It wasn’t until about 1 mile into the race that I got my Nike+ to work. Unfortunately, my sensor still seemed to be reading incorrectly. My sense of pace and distance was completely thrown off. It was a great course. I loved the variety of surfaces. It reminded me of the run/walks I used to do with Dottie in the Arroyo Seco.

iPhone pic by Darius Daniel

iPhone by Darius Daniel

As much as I enjoyed it, there were moments were the race felt endless. I had no sense of distance or location which was disorienting. It didn’t help that I was in the VERY back of the pack and could only see 3 other runners. All I could do is keep following the signs marked along the trail. It wasn’t until the last water stop that I discovered I only had 1.5 miles left. I was so relieved when I heard that. Of course, I hit a tough portion of the course – dry river bed. Being short, made scrambling across some of the rocks a touch more difficult for me. {read: agonizing}

iPhone by Darius Daniel

When I got to the final 0.5 mile straightaway, I pushed myself as much as I could. It felt like the longest 0.5 mile of my life. Once I saw the finish line,  I couldn’t believe I had done. Although, I was a bit crestfallen when I saw the clock reading 1 hour 24 minutes. Even though I had only plan to finish, I secretly hoped I complete the course with a slightly better time than that. What can I say? I’m hard on myself like that. The disappointment was short-lived because the euphoric runner’s high and excitement took over.

Finish Line

Sweaty and hot, but ecstatic - photo by Darius Daniel

I was sweaty and out-of-breath, but ecstatic that I finished a 10K Trail Run. A year ago I could barely run a mile without wanting to collapse. The thought of doing a 10K trail run would never have crossed my mind. This year, I couldn’t think of a better way to start off my birthday festivities. {More on the rest of those festivities later}

Thanks to everyone for being so supportive. Again, the well wishes made all the difference. With everyone behind me, failure was never an option 🙂