Running to Wellness: A Passion to Prosperity Podcast

Running to Wellness: A Passion to Prosperity Podcast

passion prosperity running wellness

I’m sure you’ve all heard the comparison of birthing a baby and birthing a business. Well, for me, those two life events are even more closely aligned.

It was my first pregnancy (in 2002) that set me down the path of reflection and research that would alter my life. That time period planted the seeds for what would become my business Balance Personal Fitness Training, my blog Running on Balance, and the online community I hostess as Well Balanced Women.

Never when I started my research into running and pregnancy did I think that it would be the gestation period for a decade-long career. I was just someone who knew what she was interested in– running– and experiencing the new world of pregnancy.

I also knew that I liked (like– still true in the present tense) to be informed.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

For the details of this twisted, bumpy ride into entrepreneurship that still is fueled by my passion, check out my interview with Paul T. Shafer. Paul is a the host of Passion to Prosperity, a podcast that features people who have used their passion to fuel prosperity in their life.

(Spoiler alert: Prosperity does not mean I make so much money I don’t know what to do with it.)

In my episode of Passion to Prosperity, Paul and I chat about how I still feel lucky– prosperous!– to live a life with my passion for helping people feel great in their bodies as part of my everyday.

This life of mine is all about running to wellness.

Check out Passion to Prosperity– Running to Wellness HERE!

Do you live a passion-fueled, prosperous life? Tell me about it in the comments.

 

 

 

Entrepreneur Podcast
Running & Pregnancy: How to Be Well Balanced

Running & Pregnancy: How to Be Well Balanced

 

pregnancy running

 

Running & pregnancy is a topic near and dear to my heart, as it was the time in my life when I was pregnant with my first child (in 2002!!) that the seeds for what is now Balance Personal Fitness Training were planted.

Once Balance blossomed, Running on Balance came to be. (It lived it’s first iteration as simply “on Balance”– the name change should indicate to you that a) running is important to me, and b) I like puns.)

A few years later, Well Balanced Women came into life. (Again with the puns.)

It’s all quite fitting, actually. Pregnancy and gestation of a human aren’t all that different from building a business.

They both start with knowing absolutely nothing, requiring tremendous faith, and then developing and changing over time.

So I was thrilled when the guys Chris & Steve from Rogue Running— a big-time running coaching outfit here in Austin– invited me to come on their podcast and talk about Running & Pregnancy.

Chis & Steve know running. They coach some of the best runners in the US. They help regular, recreational runners reach serious goals. Most of all, they want each person to know how running can contribute to a happy, healthy, well-balanced life.

And as someone who has run through three pregnancies (to varying degrees) and worked as a perinatal fitness specialist for nearly ten years, I have ideas that are a blend of experience and research to help women keep running while pregnant…and get back to running postpartum, too.

As you’ll hear in the podcast,  I learned (the hard way) that just because one pregnancy and recovery is super simple all of them will be.

This should be good news to those of you who have been through pregnancy and childbirth and are reluctantly contemplating a second….

The possibility of having a more positive experience exists!

I firmly believe (and science supports) the importance of exercise during pregnancy. The benefits for both mom and baby are notable and long-lasting.

As always, each woman’s experience of pregnancy is unique. Listen to your care provider, and listen to your body.

But I hope you’ll find some guidelines and things to look for as you work hard to keep you and your baby fit during pregnancy– and beyond.

Check out the episode HERE!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Ideas offered on the Running Rogue podcast do not constitute medical advice. Each woman should speak frankly with her health care provider regarding her specific needs during pregnancy. 

Running and Pregnancy
Comrades Up Run Race Report- 2017

Comrades Up Run Race Report- 2017

Although I had a terrible day-before-the-big-day, on Comrades Up Run Day I woke up feeling nothing but positive excitement for the race.  I’d managed to get about three hours of real sleep and another three hours of calm mind resting.  Compared to last year, I was in perfect condition!

After hugs from my husband and my 13-year-old, I headed down to the Hilton lobby to try to find some friends.  I wasn’t exactly sure where the start area was, but I knew I could follow the crowd and get there.  I saw lots of US, UK, and Canada runners I knew in the lobby.  I found Cathy, a Comrades veteran from Canada, who I knew was also starting in the CC corral as a charity runner.  I also knew that she, like me, had been sick in the days leading up to the race.  Furthermore, I knew that, despite her being more than 10 years my senior, we are fairly well-matched runners.  She is also an incredibly calm and cool presence, so I was happy to latch myself on to her and feed off of her confident vibe.

The group of five of us arrived at the C corral at about 4.45am.  We sat down on the road adjacent to the shongololo, chatted, and took in the increasingly amped-up environs.  I really couldn’t believe how good I felt.  Considering I’d not slept at all Friday night and was sick from Friday at 10pm til Saturday when I went to bed, I was really shocked by how energetic I felt.

At 5am we stood up and pushed forward as the corral filled. I ate my banana with no problems at all and was encouraged by how well it settled in my stomach.  When the tapes between corrals dropped and the pre-race program began at 5.15, I was all smiles.  I shook hands with people around me, nodded to the shongololo runners adjacent to me, stood proudly for the South African national anthem until I could sing the final stanza in English, heartily sang Shosholoza (where there may have been some gospel-like arms-over-the-head-waving going on), rode the wave of jubilation to quiet contemplation during Chariots of Fire, grinned during Max Trimborn’s cock crow, and then lept at the sound of the starting cannon.  We were off!

It took only about 90 seconds to cross the start line.  Because Comrades is timed gun-to-finish rather than via chip (mat-to-mat) and there are hard time cut-offs en route and at the finish, every second it takes to get to the start line is precious.  As I hit the start line so quickly, I thought of all of the people who contributed to my fundraising for Wildlands which allowed me to start closer to the front. I wanted to make them proud.  I also knew, however, that the first 42KM of the Up Run was far tougher than pretty much any other standard marathon in the world.  With about 4000 feet of climbing in the first not-quite-half of the Comrades Up Run, I knew I had to pace myself from the very start.

I ran with Cathy and we chatted easily as the race wound its way out of Durban.  There were cheering crowds, and I appreciated their early-morning enthusiasm. At 20 minutes, we were on a highway onramp, and I announced that it was time for my first walk break. Cathy walked with me, and I quickly learned the secret to her continual Comrades success is that she is a strong, fast walker who isn’t afraid of inserting walk breaks into her race in order to maintain a steadier running pace throughout the entire event.  My strategy exactly!  I told her that I wanted to start very conservatively and that my real race would start at the top of Inchanga (about a marathon to go from there).  She agreed that was a good plan.

We had great conversation– only upon reflection did I realize that I have no idea what Cathy does as a profession.  We were too busy philosophizing about life and running and community and humanity to be burdened by mundane topics like work.  We did keep an eye on the KM TO GO boards, making sure that we didn’t get pulled out too quickly. We walked up the big hills– of which there are plenty, not just “the big five”– and ran comfortably on all flats and downhills.  I was so appreciative to have a friendly, positive, resourceful, and experienced Comrade for the opening stage of the race.

We saw the 79KM TO GO board, and we had our first tiny celebration.  I ate a quarter of my PB&J sandwich, happy that it went down easily.  A friendly South African runner commented that he’d run next to me for the whole race so long as he could smell “that most beautiful smell of peanut butter.”  His sincerity made me smile.

We headed up Cowies Hill, the first of the big five. We alternated running 100 steps with walking 50 steps.  It was steep but short. I could peek over my shoulder and see the Indian Ocean in the distance.  Sure enough, we were running away from it.

The sun was coming up, and it was clear it was going to be a hot day. I drank the Tailwind I’d brought with me to the start.  Keeping well hydrated was going to be key.  Even though I did almost all of my training in hot, humid weather, I was really hoping for a cooler race day.  Oh, well.  One of the great truisms of distance running is that you can prepare all you want to, but what you get on race day is what you have to deal with.  And that’s just the way it goes.  So I would have to focus not just on keeping my stomach happy with agreeable fuel, but I’d need to stay on top of the right balance of fluids, too.

When I saw the sign for Fields Hill, I had to keep my wits about me.  This was the hill I was most dreading.  It is long.  It is steep.  It is *really* long (like 3KM of nothing but up, up, up).  Cathy proposed we start out alternating 100 steps running and 100 steps walking.  Solid plan. As we were ascending Fields, I saw several other international runners I knew.  I shouted hello to Digger from Australia and Lorna from Miami. Then I saw Sherab and Ray, two Canadians whose intimidating training I follow on social media and who I’d met last year.  We walked with them for a bit, step-by-step seemingly to never get any closer to the top of the hill.  My legs started to feel heavy, and that worried me for the long day still ahead.  As we crested Fields, I got an incredible confidence boost.  That which I had most feared was conquered and done.

We saw the 69 KM TO GO banner and had another tiny celebration.  I ate the next quarter of my PB&J and was feeling good.

Around 65 KM TO GO Cathy peeled off for a potty stop. I knew it was unlikely we’d find each other again, so I chose to be grateful for the comradeship we shared that set my day off on a positive start.

Around 62 KM TO GO I picked up the first of my three bags I’d packed to get me through the race. I grabbed my sunglasses, a bottle of Tailwind, a roll of Salt Stick Fastchews (electrolyte tablets), and another half PB&J sandwich.  I was at the table less than a minute.

I kept up my run/walk as the terrain dictated.  The KMs continued to click by, but I realized at 59 KM TO GO that I felt more fatigued than celebratory. I was sleepy.  The no-sleep-Friday-night and no-eating-on-Saturday plus the waning of the adrenaline-filled start were catching up to me.  Fortunately, I knew my family would be waiting to see me in Winston Park, just another few kays up the road. That kept me moving at a good pace, as I wanted to look strong when I saw them.

I ran with my head on a swivel as I passed through the throngs of spectators in Winston Park. My kids brought a Notre Dame flag to hold to make it easier to spot them. I never saw the flag. I never saw my family. I was well and truly bummed.

My emotional letdown combined with my physical fatigue led me to do something I usually reserve only for the late stages of an ultra– I drank a few sips of Coke.  I wasn’t feeling hungry at all.

I hit Botha’s Hill and chose to employ the same 100 steps running/100 steps walking strategy that got me up Fields. My legs still felt heavy and my stomach was a little touchy, but for one of “the big five” it wasn’t bad.

At 51KM TO GO, the 11-hour bus (pace group) passed me.  That was deflating.  My original goal was to run sub-11, and I knew I had the training to do it.  But once I had the awful 24-hours pre-race, I changed my goal to finishing and feeling good.  Too bad I wasn’t feeling very good at that point.  I knew I needed to keep eating and drinking even though my stomach had flipped. It was also getting hot and very sunny.  I took a water sachet from almost every aid station– of which there are 46 along the route– to pour over me.  I looked like a drowned rat.

At 50KM TO GO, I looked at my watch.  I was right at 5 hours in to the race.  That meant I had 7 hours to go.  Rather than buoying my spirits– 7 hours is plenty of time for 50K– I started into a downward spiral of mathematical miscalculations. Long distance running does a lot of good things for my body, but it really messes with my mind!

Fortunately, right then I looked up and spotted my fellow Wildlands comrade Noeleen.  (This is one of the great benefits of wearing a number bib with your name on it both front and back.)  I shouted to her, and we both broke into a walk as we moved up yet another hill.  I was trying to complain about my stomach and fatigue, but Noeleen would have none of it. She urged me to take in the scenery.  I am grateful to have run in to her at exactly that moment on the course, as my hamstrings started cramping. I winced badly, but we kept walking and talking. I got very worried about adding cramping hamstrings to fatigue and a sour tummy.  Noeleen wasn’t worried…we played a short game of “what if” regarding which house we would buy and what animals we would raise once we moved in.  It was a brilliant way to shift my attention.  We ran together for about 10 minutes before we got split up at a water stop.  Truly, Noeleen was in just the right place at the right time to keep me from cratering.

I tried to run “easy, loose, light” on the downhills and walk “strong, fast, tall” on the uphills.  My quads were more sore than I would have liked.  With cramping hamstrings, sore quads weren’t what I needed.  I wasn’t quite to halfway.  I started eating my electrolyte tablets like candy, two or three with a sachet of water at each aid station.  I gave away my PB&J and bottle of Tailwind to some kids cheering on the side of the road.  They were grateful.

I rounded a bend and saw the Wall of Honor on my right.  I took a moment to think of all the other ordinary people who accomplished a dream by running on this route between Durban and PMB.  I also grabbed a flower from the roadside, as I knew Arthur’s Seat was coming up in another quarter-mile or so.  I made my way to the left side of the road so I could lay my tribute on the ever-growing pile. I mustered a friendly, “G’morning, Arthur” in honor of the two-time Comrades winner who is said to have rested at this point in the middle of one of his winning races.  I certainly wasn’t going to turn down any kind of help– real or imagined– for the second half of the race.

As we dropped down into Drummond (the celebratory halfway point, about 1/3 mile shy of mathematical halfway), the smell of the braais on the side of the road hit me for the first time. Rather than turn my stomach, they made me look up and smile and take in all the people who were out enjoying a beautiful sunny day and the spectacle of Comrades. The festive atmosphere in Drummond pulled me out of my funk.  There were so many people at the end of this section that we runners couldn’t be more than two abreast.  The crowds were loud and lively. I did not take any of the barbecued offerings from spectators– at this point, bananas and coke seemed to be the magical formula that was keeping my stomach from full revolt.

And then the 11.30 bus passed me.  What?  I was feeling better!  I thought I was making good time!?  I was confused and dismayed again. I knew that the bus drivers each had their own pacing strategy (many of them follow the “go out fast and try to hang on” method), but I couldn’t believe I was going to slowly as to be behind the 11.30 bus. No matter how much I did the math to try to console myself, I was so worried I was going to miss a cut off.  It was deflating.

I knew that just after Drummond was Inchanga.  Instead of feeling intimidated by the lurking, twisty beast before me, I reminded myself that as soon as I got to the top, I’d have four of the big five behind me. I just had to get there.  My hamstrings were twingy, and I was afraid of them completely locking up as I ascended Inchanga.  I took five 100 step running breaks on my long walk to the top. I was, once again, grateful that I am a strong walker, repeating my uphill mantra to myself as I climbed: “Mountain Goat. Mountain Goat.”

With 42KM TO GO, I reached the top of Inchanga where I had another drop bag waiting for me.  First I smeared sunscreen all over myself, as the sun was intense. Then I eagerly grabbed my next roll of salt stick tablets.  I went ahead and took my PB&J and Tailwind bottle, even though I didn’t think I wanted them. The port-a-potty was in use, so I took my first pee break behind a car.

After five minutes of carrying the Tailwind and PB&J, I gave them to another group of kids on the side of the road.  Carrying them was making me crazy, and I didn’t want to be distracted by that.  Besides, I knew the kids would be gleeful with the American treats.

I was still feeling sleepy and low energy, and I was starting to feel the heat a bit more.  I took salt from a woman on the side of the road, and although the process was a little nasty– she poured salt into my sweaty and dirty hand, and I licked it off– it had an immediate placebo affect.  I felt the heat less intensely, and my hamstrings– still crampy– ceased feeling in imminent danger of fully locking up.

Before I knew it, kids from Ethembeni School were lining the road.  I gave high fives to every kid I could reach. Their smiles were a boost and their struggles an inspiration.

I continued to run every bit of flat (ha! ha! ha!) and downhill that I could, and I walked the uphills. I ate part of a banana or a few potatoes every other aid station.  I kept the salt chews going down with water.  The Coke remained delicious.

Coming in to Camperdown, I reminded myself to pick up my head and look around.  This was the second location my family was going to be.  After missing them in Winston Park (where they actually couldn’t get in due to traffic), I really wanted to see them.  Not two minutes later, I saw the big ND flag my two younger kids were holding.  I ran down the hill to them and gave sweaty hugs and kisses to all. It was a brief stop– no more than a minute– but I was so excited to see them.

I told my husband, “I hope I make it!”  He told me that I had plenty of time.  They were standing right at the 25KM TO GO banner, and I was bang on 8 hours.  Four hours for less than 16 miles meant I could do 15 minutes/mile and still make it in.  I knew that.  But I was still so freaked out by being behind the 11:30 bus that logic meant nothing.

My legs were still moving okay.  They were heavy and sore, and I was worried about the hamstrings cramping on Little Polly’s and Polly Shortts. I was also worried about my quads taking the downhill pounding after Polly’s.

Just keep moving.

More salt.  More Coke.  More water– one to drink, one to dump over me. More bananas.  More potatoes.  I knew that keeping the calories going in was critical to keeping up my energy in the final section of the race.

With 22KM TO GO, I picked up my final drop bag.  I smeared on more sunscreen– safety first! All I took was the salt chews. I had another quick pee break behind a car, and I was back on the road. Within a minute, I passed the 11:30 bus. Thank God!

Since Camperdown, the crowds were thick, loud, and energizing.  Again there were short stretches of the course where the runners were squeezed because there were so many spectators lining the roads. What a thrill!  I tried to feed off the crowd’s enthusiasm as I knew that I still had several big hills of hard work to go.

At 16KM TO GO, I had another tiny celebration.  16KM is ten miles– an easy daily run.

At 12KM TO GO, I started feeling blisters.  On both feet.  That led to the age-old question, do I stop and address the problem, or do I just push through?  I opted for the latter.

Then I saw signs for Ashburton.  I knew Little Polly’s was imminent. Although “little” this warmup to the real Polly was a right beast herself.  I opted to walk and then run for 100 steps and then walk again until I could muster the energy to run 100 more steps.  My hamstrings were in knots, so my stride was quite short.  I was also feeling the effects of so much uphill work in my shins, with my ankle flexion being quite painful.  And, yet, I tried to not think about what was coming.

I took more salt at the top of Little Polly’s then ran well down to the base of Polly Shortts.  I popped two salt chews and started to attack:

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Run 100 steps.Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Run 100 steps. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Curse the one person running strong like it was the Olympic Finals of the 1600m. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Wave at the awesome ladies singing on the side of the road to cheer us on. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Crest Polly Shortts.

Boom. Done.

7.5KM TO GO.  I made it through the final cut off point with more than an hour and 10 minutes to spare from being cut.  That meant that, unless the wheels completely fell off my sportscar of a self, I was going to make it to Scottsdale Racecourse under 12 hours.  Still worried about my legs locking up, I ate a celebratory banana for potassium and a caloric boost.

I hit 7KM TO GO with 1:48 to go til cutoff. If I were better at math, I would have figured out that I could have pushed just a little bit and made it under 11 hours. But I was tired and am not that good at math after running for 10 hours, so I didn’t realize how close I was to meeting my original goal.

There was a man shouting “Welcome to Pietermaritzburg!” as we ran on one of the most runnable stretches of the entire course.  The course was lined with spectators, all of them encouraging us in the final push.  I knew I was going to make it, so I focused on smiling at the spectators, high fiving kids, and being appreciative of the whole experience.  Besides, there were a few more hills that were just more pleasant to walk up than to run!

It was when I hit the 3KM TO GO banner and had just over 18 minutes til 11 hours that I realized I could (theoretically) kick it in an finish with a Bronze medal.  As it turns out, though, I’m just not that competitive anymore.  I remembered my goal of finishing feeling good.  I wanted to savor the experience more than I wanted to put my head down, run hard, and hope my legs didn’t lock up.  Just as I got to the Racecourse gates, just after 1KM TO GO, the clock turned 11 hours.

I knew there was still one good hill to go, as runners had to go down a ramp, through a tunnel, and back up to the circuitous finishing route.  I heard my family call my name as I was walking up out of the tunnel.  Unlike that early time in the race I wanted to be running strong when I saw them, I waved, smiled, and kept right on walking.

The finish of the race involved what seemed like way too many turns.  (Even the women’s winner thought she’d crossed the finish line when she was still 150m short of it.)  I kept looking around, smiling, and being grateful that I felt as good as I did.   As the announcer called out my name and congratulated me on the success of my back-to-back finishes, I crossed the finish line of the Comrades Up Run in 11:04:22.

I was elated.

I saw the pen of people who were the last batch of Bronze runners.  Good for them!  I had no regrets.  I earned my Vic Clapham.  I earned my back-to-back. I am one of the Comrades of The Ultimate Human Race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Texan’s Journey to Comrades 2017

A Texan’s Journey to Comrades 2017

Hello, and greetings from Durban, KZN South Africa.  This Texan’s journey to Comrades 2017 is an epic quest for a back-to-back medal in the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon.

It all began in March 2015 when my dad mentioned he’d like to chase a 30 year old dream and travel to South Africa to have a run at Comrades.  As someone who has been inspired and motivated by him and his running my whole life, I thought I’d tag along.

Little did I know then how big a part of my life Comrades would become.

Comrades is a race that began as a living memorial to fallen South African WWI soldiers.  Today it is an event that lifts the human spirit and galvanizes our sense of humanity moreso than any I have ever witnessed.  There is something about a moving mass of humanity from all races and corners of the globe that sparked my imagination and captured my heart.

The 2016 Down Run was one of the most significant days of my life.  From battling crippling pre-race anxiety to sharing the journey with my dad and our global running compatriots to assessing the event after the finish, Comrades 2016 is a day that remains vibrant in my memory.

For several months, I was uncertain whether I would return for my back-to-back. Undertaking Comrades is a significant financial and time investment.

Ultimately, I knew that if I did not give my back-to-back a try, I’d regret it.

Thankfully, my husband is an understanding, patient, and supportive guy.  He could see that I was determined to return.  He also knew that, given the significance of the event to me, we should entertain bringing our kids along for Comrades 2017.  Travelling with three kids (6, almost 11, and 13.5) isn’t too bad– they’re well-traveled and are mostly really good kids.  But we’ve never tried the two-overnight-flights-in-a-row thing with them before.  Perhaps running for 87+ kilometers will be the easy part!

The truth is, I fell in love with Comrades, South Africa, and South Africans.  I want my kids to see this place– this place so vastly different than anywhere they’ve been before– and realize the tremendous commonalities we have with the South African people. We’ve spent the last few months studying South African history and trying to recognize the similarities between our countries and our people.

For me,  the appeal of running has always been about democracy.  It is a sport that allows all people to be on a level playing field.  We regular people compete with the elites on the same course on the same day in the same event.  What could be more compelling?!

This Texan’s journey to Comrades will likely be complete after the 2017 race.  It’s been a tremendous pleasure to work for something that unites me with people all over the world and inspires others.

 

Taper Anxiety: 3 Ways to Calm Pre-Race Nerves

Taper Anxiety: 3 Ways to Calm Pre-Race Nerves

Ask any marathoner or ultra runner: taper anxiety is real.

Even after weeks and months of training, the taper is the worst time of the whole training period.  What should be a glorious week (or two or three) of downtime is really a torturous period that breeds anxiety and doubt.  Just when we should be feeling our most confident, taper anxiety comes in and stirs up a whole mess of distracting emotions.

For anyone who has ever experienced either the taper crazies or a massive anxiety attack because of a race— hey, that’s me!– it’s a good idea to have some strategies to cope with pre-race anxiety.  And because I am one of these people, I’ve spent the last several months working to keep my running-related anxiety in check.  This is, after all, supposed to be fun!

I’m using three strategies to cope with taper anxiety and pre-race nerves.

  1. Distraction

Look, I’m not going to lie to you.  Distraction has become a huge coping mechanism for pre-race anxiety.  I have a Kindle Fire fully loaded with books, TV shows, podcasts, and movies to keep my mind off of its current obsession.  While I’m not normally an advocate of tuning out from what I’m experiencing, it certainly has a place in emotional self-management right now.

It’s not just pre-race nerves I’m managing.  I have two overnight flights in a row plus an eight-hour airport layover to get through.  I’m travelling by myself.  That’s an awful lot of time to be left to my own thoughts.  Netflix, take me away!

2. MANTRAS

Like last year’s Comrades run, I have  developed a series of mantras to get me through.

My bedrock running mantra is relentless forward motion.  This isn’t so helpful pre-race, though, so I have another that I rely on during the taper:

I breathe in peace; I breathe out joy.

This mantra reminds me to slow down my breathing, take in some peace, and share the joy that I have for running and for life.  It is a meditative form of pranyama that I have used at other significant times– like childbirth!  I know that repetition of this mantra can help calm my nerves.

And, finally, I know I should trust the training.  That leads me to my third taper anxiety coping strategy.

3. STUDY AND REVIEW

I am a diligent student of the sport, and I read and watch everything I can about each race. By studying the race route, its history, and the race day set up, I can eliminate worrying about logistics.  Given that most of the logistics are out of my control, this reminds me that there will be things I cannot control.  There’s no use spending my precious energy there!

When I am feeling an inadequate sort of anxious, I review my running log so I can remind myself of just how much work I’ve put in to get me to the taper and to the start line.  I know that I have done the work necessary for a successful race.  I validate my preparedness and work to have my confidence crush my anxiety.

What are your favorite ways to deal with pre-race anxiety?

 

Tips to help you calm pre-race nerves so you can run your best race.
Race Report: Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge

Race Report: Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge


When I sat down over Christmas break to plot out my January – May training for Comrades, I came across the Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge.  This event requires a marathon on Saturday followed by a half marathon on Sunday.  Bingo!

The arrangement of the Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge was perfect for my Comrades training.  By expecting myself to get up early and go run another half marathon less than 20 hours after finishing a marathon, I could test my body to see how I would do running while tired.  Also, putting over 39 miles on the legs in 26 hours is a solid reality check of endurance capability.

A Few Notes About the Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge Course

The course is basically a lasso with two different out-and-back-spurs in the loop part of the lasso.  Each loop was just over 6.5 miles, so the marathon was four loops and the half marathon was two loops.  The course was perfectly marked and marshalled, with mile marker flags easily visible and any road or bridge crossings monitored by officials.  The only downside to this logistical excellence was that, in a four loop race, one must pass a LOT of mile markers— like 26 of them!  It’s good mental training to be constantly reminded of just how far you’re running.

The trails at Seabrook are, thankfully, not “real” trails; rather, they are gravel running paths.  This was good for me, as trail running is not my favorite.  And while gravel is more forgiving on the legs than pavement, running on paths does require the small muscles in the ankles and feet to work in a way they usually do not.

The course is flat.  It’s basically at sea level, skirting the bay.  The only elevation change was going over a few wooden bridges, with a max gain of five feet or so.  In that regard, it’s not exactly great training for Comrades, but I’m not complaining!

Saturday- Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon

I arrived early on Saturday morning because I needed to pick up my packet.  The process was smooth and quick, so I grabbed my things and went to a table under the pavilion where other excited runners were gathering.  As I was pinning my race number to my Comrades Wildlands Conservation Trust shirt, a woman asked, “Have you run the Comrades?”  Turns out she was there to support her sister who was running Seabrook as her Comrades qualifier.  Small world!

My race strategy was to run the first 20 minutes (until the crowd thinned out), and then walk 1 minute.  I would then run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute for the remainder of the marathon.  My goal was to finish feeling comfortable under 4:45.

I went through the first mile in 9:32, so I knew I didn’t need to go any faster than that.  I was a bit worried about the looming half marathon on Sunday, and I knew that running too fast on Saturday would make the second race a beast.

I went through mile two in just over 19 minutes, so I jogged easily until I hit my first walk break.  We had just entered the marshy section of the course, and the trail is wide but windy.  As usual, I moved as far to the right as possible before starting to walk.

I continued to execute my strategy, feeling good despite the warm (68 degrees) and humid (90%) weather.  I was glad to have my bottle of Tailwind with me, even though the aid stations were well stocked and staffed.  It was blessedly overcast for the first loop.  I hit the six mile mark at bang on one hour, so I knew I’d settled in to a good pace.  At the end of loop one, I grabbed a quarter PB&J and kept on going.

The second loop still had decent cloud cover, but the trail was a bit more crowded as we marathoners were now comingled with the half marathoners (who started 15 minutes after us).  I stuck to my run/walk plan, always trying to be mindful of sharing the trail.  I think loop two was about a minute slower than loop one– and still feeling easy and good.  I ate another quarter of PB&J, ditched my now-empty bottle, and couldn’t believe that the half marathoners were done.

Two loops to go.

By loop three the sun had emerged, and it was getting steamy.  I kept to my strategy, and I even found myself passing some half marathoners and marathoners.  That’s always motivating, but I knew I couldn’t really speed up.  There were still too many miles left to run.  Loop three was a minute or two slower than the previous loop, but I still felt good and steady.

A lot of people would be annoyed by the multi-loop course, but for a training run it’s ideal.  There is mental stamina involved in knowing how many more times you have to pass a particular point.  By loop four, the course is familiar, and I could check off literal milestones as I approached (and passed) them. The volunteers at the aid stations were plentiful, helpful, and cheery.  I was happy to take all the water they could offer, both so I could drink it (to help wash down my Sport Beans) and pour it on my neck.

It got really sunny and hot for the last loop, and I was worried about slowing down.  I stuck to my plan, and loop four was faster than loop three. My finishing time came in at 4:27.  More importantly, I felt strong at the finish.  Hot, sweaty, and dirty…but strong.

There was tons of food at the finish, but the only thing I really wanted was a fruit ice bar.  It was positively delicious.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t hang around for the award ceremony (2nd female 40-44) because I had to get over to the Kemah Boardwalk to meet my husband and kids.  After all, they kindly agreed to donate the last weekend of Spring Break to my running plans.  Walking around the boardwalk was good to flush my legs.  I drank so much water I thought I’d float away.  I did a little stretching back at the hotel. Then we had an early dinner of sandwiches, and it was off to bed.

Sunday- Seabrook Lucky Trail Half Marathon

Waking up Sunday morning, I was happy to feel that my legs were actually quite springy.  I quietly gathered my race stuff in the dark of the hotel room then headed to the race course.

Once again, there was an excited buzz in the park pavilion at the start/finish area.  The weather was really unbelievable– 66F and 100% humidity.  No, for real:

It wasn’t raining, but we were all just standing in a cloud. Lovely.  I opted not to wear my Comrades cap, feeling like I didn’t need anything to make me any steamier than I was going to be.

I opted not to carry my bottle with Tailwind again, instead relying on the water + Sport Beans combo to get me through.  Here’s the thing about ultra-training: a half marathon isn’t that long of a run.  Ridiculous, I know.  All I wanted to do for the half was 2:30 or faster– basically, just get the miles in and get it done.

My legs were pleasantly responsive in the first mile, clocking in at 9.32– exactly the same as the day before.  This energized me with the hope that the half marathon wouldn’t be a complete slog.  I chose to employ the same run/walk strategy as for the marathon.

I had to laugh at myself when I missed the Mile 3 flag for my split time.  I had already passed that point NINE times!  Oh, well.  I was feeling good, and I knew the run/walk would get me through the day.

Somewhere between Mile 4 and 5, I experienced something that in twenty years of distance running I have NEVER before experienced.  As I started running again after a walk break, another runner shouted at me, “Just f***ing pick a pace and run!”  He was someone I had leapfrogged several times already, and clearly my run/walk was annoying to him.  I responded politely, “I have a strategy, and I’ll run my race and you can run yours.”

I kept going, finishing loop one in 1:02.  Apparently, running under 2:30 wasn’t going to be an issue.

The fog never lifted, which was good because it wasn’t hot and sunny….but the humidity was relentless.  I kept on top of my hydration.  I think the run/walk was a great way to keep cramping at bay, too.

I can’t really remember much from the second loop, other than I tried to look around and take in the scenery.  The only problem was that it was so foggy I couldn’t see much beyond 20 feet in front of me.  Knowing the course made me feel more confident, since I could easily predict how long it was til the next mile marker or water station.

My legs felt strong enough that I toyed with the idea of running in (no walk breaks) from 10 miles to the finish.  Then I reminded myself that this was a training run, and I didn’t need to do anything more than just get it finished.  This training season has been about focusing on doing the work that gets me to Comrades healthy and whole on June 4th.  So I kept to the run/walk as planned.

I finished loop two in an hour and change, making it my fastest loop out of all six that I ran in the Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge.  My dad had set that as a goal for me, and I went for it.  I was a little worried when I went through the first loop so fast, but it felt good to bring in a 2:01 half marathon on marathon-trod legs.

I happily collected my medals– one for the half and one for finishing the Trail Challenge– grabbed a burger from the well-appointed after party, and hit the road amazed at how foggy and humid it still was.

I may be an ultrarunner, but I’m also just a soccer mom who had to get her kid back to Austin for a 2pm kickoff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge Race Review