Thursday, April 6, 2017

Joel's Angels

Coach Joel and I have been together now for 7 years! 
I believe I'm the runner he has coached for the longest period of time. I fondly refer to him as (whether he knows it or not) my "Track Daddy".

In the early years, Coach was, how can I put this ... ROUGH!
He always seemed to come to the track with a specific agenda. He'd yell out, "Too fast, Too fast!" Or "C'mon, Let's Go!" When I would try to steel some extra time between repeats he'd bark out, "C'mon get to the line! Now - get to the line!" You'd seldom hear a, "Great job, today," and might hear a "Good effort, Good effort" every so often. I never really minded because I had my own agenda: To build running speed and strength.

Well, I guess that's not altogether true, I minded a little. Over the years, I'd come home and tell my better half, "Joel barked out this or that, today." I mimicked his voice and his gruffness, I had Joel's voice and mannerisms down pat. It became funny, and when I'd come home, Ron would ask, "How was Coach Joel today?"
I mean, I was already in my 40's when I started training with Joel, 
and it wasn't as if I was trying to make it to the Olympics 
- or even to the Boston Marathon for that matter! 

And I actually appreciated Joel's intensity about my workouts and level of seriousness he showed to each of my strides and repeats. And whether it was 19*F or 99*F - he was always there. At the end of the workout, I'd get my homework for the week. Always on recycled scrap paper, from whatever paper he had laying around in his house at the time. And, yes, over the years, I began to treasure these homework assignments.

Then something happened to Joel ....about 4 years ago, Joel's daughter and son-in-law started a family. Joel would come to the track with these incredible pictures of him and his grandchildren - holding his grandbabies, on the floor playing with his grandbabies - even in silly poses with his grandbabies ... Yes, Joel! My Track Coach Daddy - aka Drill Sergeant - was becoming a "SOFTY!"

I mean - he was never a mean person - always Coached kid's running events, always extended himself to the community to inspire people to run, and always looked for ways to promote his beloved sport: Running.

Over the years, not many, but a few women dared to join me and Coach in these track workouts - and to date, only a few have hung in there with me, and Coach Joel.
Coach Joel, Half-Crazed Runner, Rebecca, Sephanie
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Coach tells us we should run in a local relay race.
Okay! Everyone is in - but I'm skeptical.
My track partners in crime are so much faster than me - Steph's goal is to run a sub 6-minute mile, and Rebecca has this incredible ability to hang back - and power through the last 1/4 mile like everyone else is standing still - all while holding a conversation (no joke!). And Jodi - I'm recently getting to know. For some reason, because I tend to be socially unaware, I thought she was in her late twenty's early thirty's - until we were recently at a local half marathon, and Coach said, "That's Jodi's Daughter" What? She's married and has kids? She's always been such a strong runner - I never thought she was even older than 40!
Okay. So we have a team of four women!
And we call ourselves Joel's Angels.
Turns out Jodi even has a job! She's an artist and is an Art Teacher!
She buys the shirts, designs a logo, and makes iron-on presses:
Joel's Angels
Race day: I just don't want to screw up and slow our time down. Of course, me and my tummy start to act up!
Steph picks us up. 
Rebecca's in charge of the directions.  She gets us to "A" park - I immediately head toward the port-o-john. When I get out of the port-o-john, I see 3 women running toward me screaming, "Get in the car, Get back in the car, We are at the wrong race!"
Okay back in the car. Jodi's turn at directions. 
I start to panic (literally freaking out on the inside). I start my 4-7-8 breathing. Steph rubs my arm, and whispers," It'll be okay, Beth".
Thanks, Jodi, but how did we end up on that dead end street?
I literally grab the race sign up papers out of Jodi's hands, read some cross streets, and talk to my droid for directions. Twenty minutes to the start of the race - and I haven't done my dynamic stretches, warm-up, strides;  4-7-8, 4-7-8, 4-7-8. Breathe Beth, just breathe.
Coach calls: "Where are you guys?" 
Me:"We got a little lost, we will be there in 3-minutes."
Steph's still rubbing my arm.
Rebecca and Jodi are singing the Immigrant Song from Led Zeppelin - Don't ask.
We get there, warm up a little.
Steph's first. She kicks unbelievable ass! Coach says we gotta worry about the green team - the women in the tutus.
Okay, Rebecca is next.
Stephanie and Rebecca
We are all screaming. Steph gives us pointers about the course. I start my strides. Coach starts screamin' at me (so used to it), "What are you doing? What are you doing? Get back here! Not 100 meter strides. Get back here. Just do 50 meter strides. Rebecca will be here any second."
OMG! OMG! OMG! 
Don't drop the baton, don't drop the baton - OMG! 
What a Teammate!

Look at Rebecca's face - she looks totally exhausted ...Yeay, that'll me in a ..."Gooooo, Beth, Run!"
Focus, girl, move your legs
until they feel like they're gonna fall off your body!
Next up, Jodi. I pass the baton off. And we wait. Through some trees, on the other side of the park - you can see the runners as they clear 1.25 miles. I see Jodi, I start screaming, "Go Jodi, Gooo. Ruuuuun!"
Jodi, runs through the home stretch ... 
We did it, we did it! 
Our 1st Relay!
Jodi Runs It Home!
We placed 3rd Overall - beating out even some men's groups - and took First Place Female Master's Group in the De Novo Harrier's 4X2-mile Relay.

City/Town,State Age Sx U Code Time Pace Place Place PLP 

1.Team Dad Bodz , 91 M M 56:14.04 7:01 1/13 M91-91:1/3 0.00 

2.Team Touch Of Grey , 91 M M 56:20.03 7:02 2/13 M91-91:2/3 0.00 

3.Team Joel's Angels , 94 F B 58:58.51 7:22 1/12 F94-94:1/4 0.00
4.Team Va Rove Lightni , 95 M X 1:00:59.57 7:37 3/13 M95-95:1/7 0.00 
I turn toward my teammates and say jokingly, "And we were worried about the tutus?" They actually did an awesome job! They took 2nd Master's Female. Congratulations Ladies!
First Place Female Master's
DeNovo Harriers 4X 2mile Relay
And Coach Joel - my Drill Sergeant Coach - who when I started to cry a few weeks ago because he told me was taking his Granddughters to Disney World in the middle of my training for Boston (yes, he got me to Boston!) kissed and wiped my tears away, hugged me, and told me not worry b/c everything would be okay -  couldn't have been more proud. He, my transformed Coach, now a Grandpa and a real softy, was hugging and kissing my teammates, telling them all what a great job we did, and shaking his head like we just landed on Mars!
And people say running is boring!
Hah!
Train Smart Today!
#Women #Runtoinspire
#RunFearless
#261Fearless

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mississippi River Half Marathon: State #31

I thought I was going to knock my time out of the park in the Mississippi River Half - the race is flat. Flat as a pancake! I've been training really hard: running hills, pick-ups, strides, and lots more leg and glute strength exercises. I found a video online that's been helping me strengthen my hip, relieve the pain I've had since training for (and dropping out of) Boston last year. Sounds like a plan - until you count in some other factors.

Ever since I got the required flu shot in early September 2016 (re: I work per diem as a Registered Dietitian in a hospital), I have struggled with my Crohn's. My arm blew up after the shot, and it must have triggered my very sensitive immune system. I've struggled with anemia, low albumin levels, ech, blah, blah, blah. It's taken up until the end of January with a strict SCD diet, supplements, Ginger/Tumeric tea to finally start feeling better. When I asked my doctor WTF? why are my energy levels still low, he says that I'm still healing. Okay no excuses, but the Mississippi Half Marathon goes down as one of my slowest halves.

So considering all the training, my Crohnny issues, and being on a low CHO diet, I have diagnosed myself with overtraining syndrome. Since the Mississippi River Half, I've made a conscious effort to reduce my pace except for a weekly tempo run and my speed work on the track. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to run - and come home from running and say to myself, "Now that was a great run, a really great run!" We will see how this unfolds in Boston next month ...

Back to my half ..We flew into Jackson, Mississippi and drove about 2 hours Northwest to Greenville, Ms. We were told by locals that all the land we passed was farmland - full of corn, cotton, and wheat when it's growing season.
We're not in Jersey, Toto! They got lots and lots of land here!
Ron even tried his hand at making a video of our trip using his Osmo (see below). 

After driving awhile, I finally found a place that seemed to serve good, local food. OMG! If you are vegetarian - you're S-O-L, not only is there a church on every corner, but there's a smoker on every corner, too! And if your vegan and a Hillary fan, you're double S-O-L:
In the window of The Pig and Pint
I usually don't eat pork or BBQ, but at the Pig and Pint - what else do you eat? I'll admit - this BBQ was the best I've ever had, and it went down real easy! 

More driving to packet pick up at the Greenville Mall, next stop Walmart for some groceries, and check in at the Hampton Inn. The young ladies at the front desk suggested some restaurants in the area. This was good because when I went on Open Table, this is what I saw:

On race day, we had to meet in downtown Greenville, where buses lined the streets to cart us all across the Mississippi River into Arkansas. I met a lot of Fifty Staters. They all reassured me that even though the race started in Arkansas, it would qualify as my Mississippi Half (Thanks, guys!). 
Driving over the Mississippi to the start
We actually started on the bridge - yeah it was a highway, and tractor trailers were driving by beeping ...no I wasn't a little freaked out (yeah, riiiight!). At the top of the bridge, I jumped/leaped, held my breath, and screamed - there was a huge expansion joint. I calmed myself down by focussing on how great it was running over the Mississippi, again. The first time I ran over was on the Rainbow Bridge in Minneapolis, Mn. 

I didn't take off quickly, my goal was to run a 7:50min mile pace. Since I'm training for Boston, I didn't want to push it. I really haven't been myself lately - and I've really been struggling with my track work outs. I've been reading Dr Phil Maffetone's book, Endurance Training and Racing - and suspected overtraining syndrome. 

I don't know why I couldn't maintain that pace - not feeling great, overtraining, not used to running in 65 degree Fahrenheit weather, eating too low carb diet with consistent training with lower and lower liver and muscle glycogen stores, plus lots of recent stress from juggling my private nutrition practice, working per diem at a rehab hospital, and teaching two courses at a local university (Advanced Nutrition, and Sports Nutrition). Final time: 1:47:28; Ech -an 8:12min mile pace. I ran the Chicago Marathon faster than that!

Okay, enough whining. 
Looking on the brighter side, 
there are some great memories I'll take away:
Like the teens yelling to me around mile 10/11: 
"Look at that little lady! Go little lady, gooooo.
Keep running! Follow your dreams, never give up on your goals, never give up! 
You can reach your dreams!" 
I cried. They have no idea how much they impacted me. They were so unbelievable. This part of the country was likely the poorest part of the country that I've ever visited. The economy is suffering. How do you maintain the drive, and the courage, to follow your dreams? On our way back to the airport, we stopped in Yazoo, Mississippi to catch a bite to eat before flying home  - there was nothing open in Greenville when we left - everything, but fast food restaurants, are close for church on Sunday morning. I took this picture as a way to show how the economy is suffering - and as someone who works in a hospital, I ask, how do can people afford health care?
Downtown Yazoo, Mississippi
But here, these teens were inspiring me to follow my dreams, and reach my goals! Thank you, guys!

It was also beautiful to see how the whole town came out to cheer on the runners. Families on their front lawn. I remember running past a group of females and I made a face, as if to say, "I'm exhausted, and it's only mile 8! Why am I doing this?" And they yelled back,"You keep going girl! You're lookin' strong!" Thank you, ladies!

I didn't feel strong at all. I was suffering to finish as best as possible. Still, towards the end, I gained on a few people. There was a young couple who stopped, and started walking. I grunted at them as I ran by, "Don't stop - shuffle if you've gotta. Keep moving. You got this." After the race, they came up to me, "Hey, you're the lady who yelled at us to shuffle, and keep moving!" They thanked me profusely - "That helped us so much, thank you, thank you so much." ...more tears!

And thanks to the young girl who, around mile 12, yelled, "Kick butt girl, keep going - your sixth female!" There was a woman older than me, Fran O'Neal (Congrats, girl, you rock!) ahead of me. I hung on with her up until that 8th mile, when the wheels started to fall off. She finished #1 Grand Masters. I managed to finish #1 Female Masters.
What a beautiful award!
We hung out and listened to some great blues by a local band! I love the blues - BB King, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Etta James ...
Every day I got the blues!
Enjoyed some more local food
No, I did not try the Alligator!
Kept singing the same lines of River Boat Queen, until I Ron got annoyed
River Road Queen
And planned how I was going to recover from this Overtraining Syndrome
As my pace dropped, my heart rate surged - dangerously high!
I can tell you all the metabolic issues that led to the Overtraining Syndrome based on my labs, and training - but can I figure out how to reverse it? Well, for one, I don't leave the house without wearing my heart rate monitor. I'm trying to go slow, and rebuild my fat burning metabolism - what I'll need at the end of Boston. Mind you, this is different form a low CHO diet - your body can figure out how to burn fat, without starving your body of carbohydrate, it's just a matter of training within a certain Heart Rate Max (or VO2 max if you've gotten this tested).

Okay, enough of the science. Enjoy Ron's State #31:Mississippi River Half Marathon Video
Train Smart Today!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Joe Klinerman 10K

Yes, I froze my you know what off! 
Yes I pressed my HotHands on my 
little frozen eyeballs after the race.
We all froze.
At 8AM, Saturday, January 7th, it was only 28*F, in Central Park. 
And about 30 minutes after the start, it started to flurry.
Brrrr!

I love running in NYC. This was the 3rd race I have run through Central Park. I guess three's a charm -  I took 3rd place in my age group! Hey Coach Joel, I think my race head is getting better.

Although, I did hold myself back a little in mile 6 - I have this big fear that I will get hurt before Boston 2017. I keep telling everyone - if I gotta crawl, I'm crossing that Boston finish!

So far, I have trained for four marathons, and have only made it to the start of two. The last two, Boston and Berlin, are scheduled at times in the year when my Crohn's Disease is most likely to flare. This s#cks because I am not absorbing anything that I eat, and am always running in a dehydrated state. After this last flare - which I suspect was really bad due to my having to get a mandatory flu shot at the hospital I work in - I wound up anemic. I have actually run my last three races before the Joek10K pretty much really run down.

I am happy to say that even though I was freezing, I felt strong this time. Did I do anything different nutrition-wise? Why yes, I did, and I thought you'd never ask. Here's what I did:

  1. I tried the Beet Boost the week before the race. I'm sorry, I wasn't a fan. It actually made me a little nauseous.
  2. On race day, I committed the number #1 sin of Sports Nutrition: I tried a new drink. Beet It Sport. I have had beet juice before races - so this wasn't that much of a stretch. Beet It Sport is a concentrated juice claiming to give you 400mg of dietary nitrate per 70 ml shot. It went down faster and better than I expected - it was very tolerable. I think it helped!
  3. I also ate a Honey Stinger Energy Gel 30 minutes pre-race. I like these better than the Gu's b/c they are less thick. Still packs 27 grams of carbs - just enough energy for me and for my goal time which was 45 minutes.

Well, I felt strong, even coming up the hills in miles 5 and 6, but I did not meet my 45 minute goal time. I ran the 10k in 47:22, pacing 7:38. Not bad for such cold conditions!

How cold was it? It was so cold that the top of the water was frozen in the cups offered at the water stations!
There was like 1/4 inch of ice on top of the water at the water stations!
Running in the cold makes your mouth feel really dry. It's weird, your eyes can't stop tearing, but your mouth is like screaming for water. I didn't stop for water along the course - heck it was ONLY a 10k (saying that in my best half marathon snobbery voice). But at the end, I needed water. I picked up a frozen cup - and a volunteer warned me, "Just bang the cup on the side of the table a few times." I tried, but - it was quite frozen - so I slammed it on the ground - and, WALAH! It was like striking gold! Gulp, gulp gulp!

I would definitely run this race again. There were tons of volunteers, who were super helpful. We got in and out of Manhattan in record time, and the course was great - it's Central Park, of course it's great! Mostly all downhill for the first 2 miles, then you start to circle around, and climb back up some hills to get back to the start. I'll tell you - those hills are way more easy in the 10K then when you run them in the NYC Marathon!

And yes, knowing that I placed does inspire me to connect to the Alecia Keys song in some weird way!

And when I went to the Port-O-Johns before the race, my eyes weren't tearing up only b/c it was so cold, or b/c I knew I had to undress in 28*F weather to pee - but b/c I was listening to people all around me, who all spoke different languages, theye were from all over the world - all getting together in a peaceful way, to simply ...run!
Train Smart, 
Eat Right
#B3yond Nutrition, LLC!