Sunday, October 25, 2015

Weekend Roundup!

Whew! What a weekend! This past Saturday was the goal race for my first ever trail running program: the Lake Hodges Trail Fest, put on by Off Road Pursuits. I trained runners for the past 10 weeks to do the 15K and runners for the past 8 weeks to do the 5K. It was a great day!

Before I get into what happened at the race, I wanted to take a minute to "introduce myself" to new readers. For the next two weeks, I am participating in a Blog Hop with health and fitness bloggers from all over the country. The blog hop is organized by the Runaway Bridal Planner. I participated in a blog hop with her earlier this year and it was great fun! It's a great way to not only get my blog in front of new readers, but for me to see other blogs I haven't yet visited! So, for those of you joining through the blog hop, welcome!! You can read a little about me in the section to the right but basically, I'm a mom, wife, runner, running coach, personal trainer and nutritionist and my blog reflects that. It's a way to share my personal experiences with others, showcase things I care about and connect with people in far away places that I may never have the opportunity to meet in person. Thanks so much for reading!

Back to the race! Man, what a day. This particular trail event had 4 races: a 50K, 15K, 5K and a kids 1-mile race. I trained a small group of runners for the 15K and 5K races. This was the first trail race for everyone but one runner, and for her, it was her first race here in the San Diego area. So it was a big deal for everyone. Over the course of our programs, we talked about anything and everything related to trail running: trail shoes, running form, nutrition, strength training, hydration, trail running etiquette, how to prevent and manage falling on the trails and so much more. Our 5K group was held in the evenings and several of our runs were actually on the trails at night. That brought another level of excitement to the program. Running trails at night is pretty invigorating!
A run on the trails at night is a feeling like no other!
After weeks of training, it was finally race day. From past experience, I knew parking for the race was going to be a night mare (the races are held on a public trail, with the trail head at a very busy community park). We decided to get there as early as possible, which was a good decision. Everything was very well organized and runners were able to pick up their race materials either at a local running store any time during the week leading up to the race or on race morning.

Before too long, it was time for our 15K runners to get started. It was already warming up and the sun was in full force. I was a little worried about the elements for the runners, but we trained for 10 weeks in some pretty hot weather, so I knew they would ultimately be ok. And ok they were!! Everyone finished really strong and one of our runners, Debie, even placed 2nd in her age group. It was a really strong showing for our runners!!

The 15K runners about to start!
Debie placing 2nd in her age group!!

The 5K runners began and finished while the 15K runners were out there. They weren't as familiar with the course as the 15K runners were but that didn't seem to deter them! Our runners did amazingly well and one of our girls, Sue, even finished 2nd among the female runners. It was a great day for all of us!! Saying I'm proud of them doesn't seem like enough. I am ecstatic at how well they ALL did, in the heat and on trails. They are amazing!!

The 5K finishers! 

Sue with her 2nd place award!

To see all of our photos from race day, check out the album on our Facebook page.

I can't even put into words the bittersweet feelings I have when a program ends. Spending weeks with these runners is very special to me and to be a part of their goals is even more special. They trust me to help them, to guide them and support them and seeing them cross the finish line of their race is like watching your children walk for the first time (or other monumental milestone). It's one of the main reasons why I coach: to be a part of someone's dreams and hopes is an important job. I take it very seriously and feel honored to be able to help someone in this way. But knowing the program is over is sad to me. I become very attached to my runners and we spend a lot of time together! Not seeing them anymore makes me sad!! Thank goodness for email, text and social media :)

I would definitely recommend this race to others interested in trail running. It's a pretty manageable in terms of terrain with some hilly and rocky sections. The course is well marked and the aid stations are well managed. The race director is also quite helpful and supportive as he's a fellow ultra runner and knows what runners need out on the trails.

I typically do my own long run on Saturday mornings but because this was a Saturday race, I ran Sunday with a good friend. We're both training for the San Diego 50-miler in January so we have some long, long, long runs ahead of us. We did 24 this Sunday and it was good. We both had our moments of wanting to be done with running, but overall it was a great run with even better company. And right around mile 10, we were treated to the most amazing sunrise I've ever seen! We are lucky girls!

Man! Amazing sunrise! 

Panoramic view of the sunrise. 

How was your weekend? What were some of the highlights?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Your Perspiration is my Inspiration

I remember a time not so long ago where the most inspirational athletes (in my opinion) were Olympic athletes, Ironman World Championship athletes, etc. You know, those people that overcome HUGE odds to perform on the world's stage. Those were typically the only non-professional athletes we heard about. And while those athletes are still pretty darn inspirational, through the wonders of social media, YouTube and the like, everyday people like you and me have a platform to inspire others. Not an hour goes by without an inspirational quote, picture or story coming across my various feeds. Regular people with jobs, kids, illnesses and horrific circumstances are doing extraordinary things. I see it in the people I coach, I see as I pass a runner or cyclist on my way to work, I see it everywhere. We are all inspiring in our own way.

Before I continue, this week I'm linking up with the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up. The Tuesdays on the Run blog link up is with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, be sure to check them out!

What makes someone inspiring? Excelling at your chosen sport is inspiring. But you don't have to be the best to be inspiring. In fact, I think the people that plug away every day knowing they will never win their age group, never qualify for Boston, never achieve a single high honor our sport could bestow upon them are just as inspiring as those who do achieve those things. Trust me, I am inspired by the people that work their asses off to qualify for Boston, win their age group or other achievement. I coach several of them. But I am equally inspired by the people that work their asses off for no glory whatsoever. The average Joe or Joanne that is plugging away because perhaps their kids are watching and learning by their example. The cancer patient that deals with his or her illness by running even just a quarter of a mile because it makes them feel human, alive and in control of their own life. Truly inspiring.

For me, I think humility is inspiring, especially when it comes from the elite athletes. The Meb Keflezighis, the Kara Gouchers, the Deena Kastors, they are the ones that inspire me the most because they're humble and they struggle just like you and me. They know they have amazing talent but they also know it's a privilege and not a right to win a race. Winning isn't always a given. Humility is important in a sport like running. Running can be really intimidating for some. It's hard and it's not always rewarding. The people that embrace that and admit that not every day is an epic day are inspiring to me. Why? Because we can relate to that. That elite athlete and us mere mortals are the same in that way. I have bad days too. But knowing there are others out there that also have not-epic-days and still lace up and try again inspires me to do the same.

What or who inspires you the most? What makes someone inspiring?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Balancing life with training...can it be done?

A few months ago, I was talking with some other mother runners about achieving the work-life-training balance. I think the answer to the question, "Can it be done?" is relative. Some people are really good at balancing everything on their to-do lists, others are not. Personally speaking, sometimes I feel like it just can't be done, but sometimes it feels like it's actually not that hard. It just takes a lot (A LOT) of shuffling of schedules.

Before I continue, this week I'm linking up with the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up. The Tuesdays on the Run blog link up is with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere. When you're done reading here, be sure to check them out!

As most of you know, I am a running coach, a personal trainer and a licensed sports nutritionist. The year 2015 has been pretty good to me as a small business owner and my client load has increased pretty well. In addition to working for myself, I also work as a trainer for the YMCA in Encinitas. I love the YMCA atmosphere, I am not pressured to sell anything and I can really just focus on helping my clients get the results they want. I love training there. Right now I'm just seeing clients one-on-one, but hopefully I'll be teaching some group classes soon. Anyway, over the past 6 months, it's gotten quite busy. Now, I'm not complaining, trust me. I am very grateful for all of my clients and I'm truly honored they trust me to help them reach their goals. But my job is not a typical 9-5 job. I work early mornings, all day, and after work hours. Plus the weekend. This past summer almost killed me: I had personal training clients in the early morning, came home to get my girls ready for summer preschool, took them to school and then saw clients of all realms throughout the day (running, personal training, nutrition). I would then pick the girls up from school, make dinner and, once the hubs was home, coach at night. After coaching I would catch up on emails, writing training or nutrition plans and anything else that needed to be done. Really, sometimes my schedule has me working 7 days a week and it gets pretty tiring. I know, I choose to do it, and again, I'm grateful for it. But it's hard out there for a coach and trainer!

Needless to say, my training has suffered since the summer. I backed off from a lot of my weekly runs/workouts so I could spend time with my family and actually get some sleep. My son was staying with my parents in New York for part of the summer and once he got back, I really wanted to soak up as much time with him as possible before school started again. Oh and I wanted to get sleep. You know, that silly thing that always takes a backseat to everything else. I would always feel a little guilty about missing workouts, but at the same time, I knew the time with my family and/or the time sleeping would benefit me just as much.

The worst part for me is that my schedule changes a lot based on my clients' schedules. Some weeks I'm able to get in all of my workouts. Some weeks I can only eek out a few runs during the week and my long run on the weekend. And I'm ok with that. I think a lot of "finding balance" comes from giving up the ideal that you have to cross off everything on your to-do list every day. Honestly, I think it's impossible for everyone, no matter what your life contains. Life happens and sometimes your training has to suffer - and that's ok. I'm not saying give up on your training and throw in the towel when life gets complicated. I'm saying you may need to modify things. If your training becomes just another thing on your to-do list that's stressing you out, back off a bit. Training should be fun, not stressful.

In that conversation with those other mother runners I mentioned above, my answer, at the time, to the "Can it be done?" question was - no. At the time I was stressed and felt like I was failing. But now I've come to accept that training has its ebbs and flows in the same way that life does. Sometimes things are great and I'm on top of it. But sometimes life gets in the way and I need to focus my attention elsewhere. And that leads me to change my goals a bit. And that's ok. As long as I can get out there and enjoy what I'm doing, that's really all that matters.

How do you balance life-work-training? Can it be done??

Monday, October 5, 2015

Novelty Runs and Themed Races: Yes or No?

Novelty runs, or themed races, have become hugely popular in the running community over the last several years. I can't say I've ever participated in a novelty run, and I'll explain why a little later. The closest I've ever come to participating in a themed race was when a friend and I dressed up for the San Diego Holiday Half as Olaf from Frozen last year. Sure we could have gone the Santa route but Olaf was just calling our names. And it was fun when spectators sang, "Let it Go!" to us or cheered, "Go Olaf!" But I will admit that hat was really hard for me to run with. I couldn't see very well because my Olaf teeth were in the way! I don't know how people run in full-on costumes.

Before I continue, this week I'm linking up with the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up. The Tuesdays on the Run blog link up is with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere. When you're done reading here, be sure to check them out!

Anyway, novelty runs are those somewhat silly races you have seen pop up all over the country: the Awesome 80s run, the Color Run, the Electric Run, etc. I would venture to guess the "purist" runner thinks these types of races are ridiculous and they "water down" real road racing. That these types of runs are for people that aren't real runners. In fact, there was a huge uproar last year when the Foam Fest 5K people went out of business and wouldn't offer refunds to folks that had already registered for their races all over the country. Many people claimed that any of these novelty runs were just a way for people to make a quick buck off unsuspecting pseudo-runners. Well, I don't know if that's the case. I think there are plenty of race organizers that start up races and then realize they can't pull it off and cancel their events without refunds. It's important for you to research any race you want to do, novelty or not. But I think these types of events are good for people that want to try running but are afraid or possibly intimidated by regular road races. Personally, I don't know that I'd do a Color Run or other themed race. Though, I did want to do the Awesome 80s run with friends last year but it didn't end up working out with my schedule. Honestly, I am afraid of getting hurt in some of these types of runs. Considering I fell while running on my long run this past weekend (in my defense, it was pre-dawn in an unlit, uneven area!), doing some kind of obstacle race or run while something is being thrown at or on me is probably not something I should try. But if you're game, go for it.

I don't know, I may want to do the Zombie Run. Back when we lived in Maryland and I was working for Fleet Feet Sports in Gaithersburg, we had a zombie run of our own for our Halloween-themed fun run. I was one of the zombies (that's me all in black in the front. We were awesome) and we had an absolute blast scaring the runners during the run. I think I'd be scared out of my mind if there was a zombie chasing me. I know I'd scream through the whole thing. And in addition to avoiding being touched by zombies, there are obstacles and things you need to clear along the way. It all sounds incredibly terrifying. But that could be fun, right? I believe you have the option of being either a zombie or human. I may need to look into this more seriously....

What are your thoughts on novelty or themed runs? Yay or nay? Would you or have you ever done one?