Des News: First American Woman in 40 Years Wins the NYC Marathon.

 

After finishing my Sunday morning run with Shelly, I found my husband watching the women at mile 20 of the 2017 NYC Marathon. To my surprise, and American woman, Shalane Flanagan, was in the top 3. I’ve been disappointed before, so I watched with few expectations. Until at mile 24 she pulled ahead and never looked back. At mile 25 I dragged my girls in the room to watch the first woman in 40 years win the marathon. I couldn’t help but cry with Shalane as she wrapped herself in the American flag, overcome with joy.

I wasn’t the only one watching and weeping. Click on the link below to see what I and a few others felt as we watched that momentous moment unfold. Then go find a clip of the race and watch it for yourself. It’s inspiring in the truest sense of the word.

 

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865692316/Flanagan-carries-lots-of-dreamers-with-her-in-NY-Marathon-victory.html

Another Mother Runner Podcast Episode

Each spring I highlight my favorite podcasts to listen to.  Another Mother Runner has appeared on that list more than once, and for good reason.  So I was honored to be a part of the latest episode #282 Real Moms Run Milestone Races.  Two years ago I ran my 40th marathon on my 40th birthday around Daybreak Lake, and what a run it was!  It was by far my slowest marathon, but it felt like it flew by (even if my legs didn’t feel like they were flying).  Take a listen as I describe the day to Sarah and Coach Amanda.  And stick around to listen to the other three mother runners relive their milestone runs.  One involves pie.  Mmmmm….  pie.

Click on the link below to listen, or download the podcast from iTunes or Stitcher.

https://anothermotherrunner.com/2017/10/20/282-real-moms-run-milestone-races/

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Actually, it starts on dark, winter morning long runs when everyone else is asleep!

It’s that time of year again  That time when girls and boys across the land wait eagerly by their computers in anticipation of the joyous news that they have been selected to join 30,000 of their closest friends in running from Hopkinton to Boston.  Yes, Boston Marathon season has begun as runners find out if their qualifying time was enough to make the cut off.

As excited as some are today, many others who also met the qualifying standards aren’t quite so happy.  Because of increased registration, the race can only accept most of those who qualified leaving many who thought they’d already punched their tickets upset, frustrated and disappointed.  This article isn’t about how to address the growing need to revisit standards and procedures.  We’ll save that for a later date.  In the meantime, here are just a few of my own thoughts of how to handle that disappointment.  Click on the link below to read more.

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865690164/How-to-handle-not-getting-into-the-Boston-Marathon.html

Communal Joy

I wrote this column last June.  Circumstances prevented me from sending it to Des. News and it’s been sitting on my desktop ever since.  This past weekend my family and I traveled to San Diego to see U2 on their Joshua Tree 2017 tour.  It was our second show of the tour.  The first show is what inspired this column, so it seems an appropriate time to post it.

In a time when divisiveness is everywhere and consensus is nowhere, to have a moment where thousands of people unite with one voice seems almost a miracle.  But that’s exactly what I experienced at both of these U2 shows.  I call it Communal Joy.  It elevates us.  Makes us feel.  Makes us better.

I experience this when I teach fitness classes as well.  When everyone unites for a common purpose, to uplift and inspire, we are all better off.  Fitness isn’t just about our physical state.  It’s about our emotional and mental state.  I’ve always said that even if there were a pill to make me physical fit, I’d still come to group fitness simply for the joy I feel when I’m there.

Read and enjoy.

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A few weeks ago my husband, daughter Ali, and I flew to Pasadena to catch a U2 concert. You could say we’re fans. Between us we’ve been to a few dozen concerts. Our children’s names are U2 inspired. At one point I even had a special Christmas tree decorated with homemade U2 ornaments. When my husband and I were dating, he told me when U2 came to Kentucky in 1987 for the first Joshua Tree tour he quit his job at Burger King to stand in line for tickets. I knew then I would marry him.

We met Adam Clayton!

I get a few weird looks from non-U2 fans when my adult self reverts back to my teenage self and I gush over Bono, the Edge, Adam, and Larry. But that weekend at the Rose Bowl, I was among 95,000 like-minded souls. They were my U2 community. They understood me and I understood them. No one even blinked when this 41-year-old started pumping her fists in the air to “Elevation”. We sang as one. We danced as one. We cheered as one. That feeling of unity and collective joy is something I seek after and rarely find. But I did, indeed, find what I was looking for that night. And I left the stadium rejuvenated and happy.

We waited for hours, not even sure if the band would come out to sign autographs. We almost left. Our patience DID pay off.

A tight-knit community is a powerful thing. They validate our interests and pursuits. In these communities we find encouragement and solace.

I don’t attract 95,000 people to a cycle class, but our group of 20-30 is as strong as that group at the Rose Bowl, if not stronger. Cycle brings us together, but it’s the relationships that often keep us coming back. Within that small group we’ve experienced cancer, adoptions, divorce, and death. We’ve lost pets, been in car crashes and bike crashes, and celebrated milestone birthdays and graduations.

Our 10-year-old Ali, named after Bono’s wife, having a little chat with Adam. You know, just another day!

There are days when we don’t want to be in class. The last thing our legs feel like doing is pedaling, and yet we return. No matter how long we’ve been away, we are welcomed back. It’s in one of these cycle classes I met some of my closest friends. That’s the power of community.

One of our members, Rena, has recently been dealt a serious health blow. During her recent recovery she told me that her gym friends were what got her out of bed in the morning. She thought she was going to the gym to lost 5 pounds. She never imagined she’d gain 50 friends. She credits her positive outlook to these friends. Her doctor credits her recovery to her positive outlook.

After my bike crash last year, some people encouraged me to use my injuries as an excuse to stay home and take care of myself. While I couldn’t work out the way I usually do, I knew staying home would send me into a deep state of sadness. No burpees for me, but I could lead and coach others through a class and feed off their energy. No time for self-pity when I’m cueing form and correcting squats.

At the show

Our fitness community isn’t just good for our physical health. These relationships can uplift our spirits in a way no pill or procedure can. Runners understand this. Race day is as much a social event as it is a running event. Fellow runners understand the early morning wake-up calls and the harsh winter trainings. They understand what it means to set a PR (personal recored) or fall short of a BQ (Boston Qualifier). They get why we keep running even when at mile 18 of a marathon we swear we’ll never do it again. They can empathize with injuries and celebrate a fantastic tempo run.

I love to run alone, but I’ve found that being part of a community is far more rewarding. Once I opened myself up to others with the same passions, I found more joy in the work. Like Bono sings, “We’re one/ but we’re not the same./ We get to carry each other/ carry each other/ one.”

Top of Utah Marathon 2017

Race reports aren’t really interesting to anyone but the runner, but to not record this day seems wrong.

First, let me honest.  Marathons are really hard.  I mean, REALLY hard.  And they’re getting harder as I get older.  That’s okay.  I can handle the physical pain.  What’s been eating away at me is the stress surrounding marathons, most of it self-imposed.  I’m not elite by any stretch.  But I’m locally competitive.  Over the last 10 years and 46 marathons, I’ve placed in the majority of local races, most overall places.  For a girl who never ran more than a mile in P.E. class growing up, I’m really proud of all I’ve accomplished, especially since my initial goal when I signed up for my first marathon was simply not to embarrass myself.

The night before my first TOU.

Once I started to realize I had a tiny speck of talent in my legs, the stress went through the roof.  I expected a lot from myself.  When you know how good it feels to do well, it makes not doing well feel even worse.  Blah, blah, blah.  These problems aren’t even really problems.  But over the years, racing stopped being fun.

So, I started traveling to races where no one knew me and the expectations disappeared.  Amsterdam.  Berlin.  New York. Boston.  Eugene.  Those are the races I enjoyed most.

I’d met every goal I’d set for my marathoning self, and then some.  I’ve placed overall in every major Utah marathon- even St. George.  I’ve run three sub-3 hour races.  I’ve won a couple marathons and a few half-marathons.  I’ve set a few course records in the overalls and master’s divisions.  I’ve won the Utah Grand Slam three times.  I only had one more goal to check off my list.

I wanted a moose clock.

My first TOU.

 

The Top of Utah Marathon rewards its most loyal athletes (runners who’d run the race 10 times) with a gorgeous oak moose clock, and I’ve coveted it since the first time I ran TOU in 2008.  Last year, my 9th year, the threat of TOU not returning was real due to low registration.  I begged the race directors not to cancel 2017.  How sad would I be to get this close to running my 10th TOU and not get that clock? (Answer- very, very sad.)  Oh happy day when they decided to move forward with this year’s race.

My second TOU. Ali was 2. She’s now 10!

As the day drew close, my nerves got worse.  Race day felt like a dark cloud keeping me from enjoying the fall season.  My life was dissected into pre and post race day plans.  Training had gone okay.  I knew I wouldn’t be setting any PR’s, but I wasn’t feeling injured or exhausted.  Yet, the night before in my hotel room, my heart was pounding in my chest as though it was my first race ever.  To calm myself down, I decided this year would be my last local marathon.

Morning finally came and I boarded the bus to the start.  I won’t bore you with a mile by mile breakdown.  But here are the highlights.

Me, Tyler, and Jill at one of many TOU finish lines. 2012?

At it’s height, TOU attracted more than 2000 runners.  Last weekend there were fewer than 400.  It’s a beautiful course with the best directors and volunteers, so this fact keeps me shaking my head as I watch the numbers dwindle more each year.  The only positive note is it’s easy to get into a port-o-potty!

My first moose trophy!

My running/racing partner Tyler decided to meet me at mile 14 to help me run the last 12.  Mile 14 is also where my husband and daughter Ali would be to cheer me on.  So, goal #1, get thyself to mile 14.  I ran the first half in 1:31.  Not bad, but I knew the second half would be much slower.  My right hamstring was a little achy, but my right shoulder which I separated in a bad bike crash in June 2016 was on fire, and not in a good way.  The nerve endings all up and down my arm and into my neck and shoulder started talking back around mile 7.  By mile 14 they were screaming.

Coming out of the canyon. Never have I been so happy to see my friends and family.

The canyon is gorgeous.  Fall is sprinkled through the trees, and when the morning light hits that canyon it’s like fireworks exploding on the hillside.  I don’t run with music, so the sound of the stream rushing downhill alongside the road makes for a meditative run.

While I usually do math in my head to distract me from running, this year all my thoughts were about running.  I thought a lot about how far I’ve come.  How running has changed me inside and out.  How what started off as an activity to burn off a few extra pounds became a mental life raft.  I thought about the first marathon I finished.  The first sub-3.  The first marathon win.  I thought of the friends I’ve met, and the relationships I’ve forged.  I thought about my birthday marathon around Daybreak Lake.  I thought about Boston 2013, and then Boston 2014.  I thought about the peace I still feel even on the most painful runs.

Meeting Kaitlynne, my oldest, at mile 14 at the mouth of the canyon in 2012.

The miles ticked by and then, there it was. Mile 14.  I told Tyler if I’d been adequately hydrated, I’d have wept for joy I was so happy to see him.  While the first 14 miles are down the gorgeous Blacksmith Fork Canyon, the last 12 are a twisty turny journey through hills and neighborhoods.  He distracted me as he told stories of his previous week’s run with Alicia, his sister and my high school friend, as he paced her the last 33 miles of her 100-mile ultra.  100 miles.  People do this.  Seriously.

This guy. We’ve logged a lot of miles together. He keeps me from losing my mind more often than not. Mile 19 in 2017.

The best part of TOU is the ease with which spectators can cheer on their runners.  I saw my family a few more times before the finish.  Somewhere around mile 19 my side began to cramp.  It’s been an issue since my hysterectomy in December.  I’d hoped it wouldn’t rear it’s ugly head, but it did.  It’s not the kind of cramp I can run through, so I walked.  I never walk in a race.  But over the next seven miles, I walked through every aid station and then some.

Ali patiently waiting for me to finish.

The last mile felt like ten.  But finally, there was the finish line.  Rick and Elfi Ortenburger were there to cheer me and a few other friends to the finish.  My husband and daughter Ali were on the other side.  I tried to high-five them, but by this point I couldn’t lift my arm.  But they could tell how grateful I was that they were there.  I crossed the finish line in 3:13, fourth overall woman.  Second in the female master’s division.  I stumbled through the finish chute, grabbed my medal with my good arm, found a chair to sit on and cried.

The finish line 2017

 

Trying to high-five Christian.

They were tears of relief, sadness, elation and disappointment all rolled together.  Relief the race was done.  Sadness that it was the last marathon.  Elation I had placed.  Disappointment it was my worst finish time in over seven years.  There were a few tears of pain mixed in there, too.

Top five overall women 2017

After the awards ceremony, I sat down in the park where the finish line festivities are held just so I could soak it in a little longer.  Now it’s three days later.  Rumor has it that next year will be the last year for TOU.  It will be the 20th running.  With so few runners, they aren’t breaking even.  Every year they lose more.  There is no shortage of runners, but there is no shortage of races, either, others offering more downhill than TOU.  This continues to break my heart as TOU is so personally special to me.  The race directors love their runners and it shows in the care they offer.  The volunteers, the one-of-a-kind awards, their enthusiasm- it all makes for a day like no other.

My ten-year clock and beautiful moose trophy.

I loudly declared this would be my last local marathon for awhile, but I’m not sure I can miss next year, especially since it’s their 20th anniversary, and definitely if it’s their last year.

Center Street Grill. A TOU family tradition.

Sitting at the Center Street Grille with my family munching on onion rings and burgers, taking in the fall colors, and enjoying the cool breeze after a tough race, I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  Life changes. Priorities shift.  Bodies grow older.  But TOU remains a unique and emotional yearly event and I’m not sure I’m ready to let that go.  My heart says “Yes” while my body says “No.”

To be continued…

My beautiful family in 2015.

Deseret News: Gym Class Etiquette

I’m no Emily Post, but I do believe good etiquette can enhance our lives and relationships with others.  The group fitness room is no exception.  The Group X room is the place I go to leave the world behind and lift, dance, stretch, and push myself to a better state of mind.  In a very real way, that room is my sanctuary.  I want it to be every member’s sanctuary.  I want every person who walks through the door to feel better leaving than when they arrived.  We are all responsible for making that happen.  We are a community.  And every thriving community adheres to a few unspoken (until now) rules.

Click on the link below to read up on a few rules of etiquette that will enhance any group fitness experience.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865688138/Follow-simple-rules-of-group-fitness-etiquette.html

 

From the Archive: Finish Times Don’t Matter: Integrity Does

This column written in 2012 actually never saw the light of day.  It was a little too controversial for a happy little running column.  So I shelved it where it has sat for five years.   I stumbled upon it this afternoon looking through my archives and was surprised by how relevant it seems today.

Let me be clear- while this is about a political candidate, this is NOT a political post.  I am NOT advocating for the right or the left (although if you know me at all, my political leanings are no secret).  In fact, when I wrote this I was rooting for the Republican nominee.  In my voting life I’ve voted for Democrats and Republicans equally. With the exception of the most recent presidential election, I have voted for the winning party every time since Bill Clinton.

No, this column is about honesty.  It’s about integrity.  It’s about owning our successes outright.  It’s about celebrating the sacrifice, dedication, and effort that goes in to running a race- not the finish time.  It’s about telling the truth.

Read on to see what politics has to do with running.


I really hate it when worlds collide.

Remember seeing your teachers out in public? Seeing them at the grocery store was like spotting a giraffe in the garage. Very unsettling.

So imagine how shaken my reality became when recently the two very separate worlds of politics and running crashed into each other.

Running is my refuge. It’s where I turn to when I need to clear my head and release the tension that has built up in my neck from the day’s stressors. It’s the one place I can go to escape the non-stop political discussions that seem to dominate the news feeds. Yes, it is election season, but we all could use a breather once in awhile.

But with Paul Ryan’s recent claim to marathoning fame, it was a little harder to find that escape. The issue causing upheaval in the running world? Ryan’s claim that he ran a sub-3 hour marathon years ago. He stated he couldn’t remember the exact time. Around 2:50-ish, he said.

Continue reading “From the Archive: Finish Times Don’t Matter: Integrity Does”

From the Archives- What Lies Ahead

WJHS class of ’93

I just got home from taking my oldest daughter and her friends to the junior high school to get their lockers and schedules for the upcoming school year.  As most of my friends know, I used to teach high school English.  Before that I was an adjunct professor at SUU where I taught writing.  From the time I was 10 I thought I’d forever be an English teacher.  I toyed with a few other professions, but I don’t think I ever seriously considered them.  I certainly NEVER thought I’d be a fitness instructor.  As far as sports were concerned, I didn’t play any.  I wasn’t physically capable of much, I thought.

Of course now I know we are complex, multi-dimensional beings.  We don’t fit neatly into a category or box, nor should we.  You can be smart and athletic.  You can be musical and scientific.  You can be funny and serious.  I can study and appreciate Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and be thoroughly entertained watching “Big Brother”.  That’s what makes us interesting.

As my kids start to feel out who they are, and who they want to be, I remind them of my dueling personalities.  They can be whoever they want.  And whoever they want to be will change.  This article from 2013 touches on that.  Keep reading for more.

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Twenty years ago I sat in Mrs. Stewart’s English class with my friends trying to imagine what our lives would be like when we reunited for our 20th reunion. Some pictured big families. Some pictured living in exotic locations with exciting jobs. I pictured… nothing.

At seventeen, I didn’t know if I wanted to be a corporate bigwig or a mom to ten kids. Both of those options seem so out of character now that I can’t help but laugh at their seeming possibility then. The late teens and early twenties are a time of self-discovery. And while I didn’t backpack through Europe to find myself (my meager salary from Taste of Chicago made sure that didn’t happen), I certainly did uncover parts of myself that were both surprising and wonderful.

Experience taught me I hate cooking. I’m terrible at sewing. Gardening is an art beyond my skill set. Teaching is my call, but not in the way I expected.

But the biggest discoveries came through running. For many years I allowed myself to be pigeon-holed. I wrongly believed that because I wasn’t terribly good at team sports, athletics would never play a role in my life.

Continue reading “From the Archives- What Lies Ahead”

From the Archives- Pennies in the Bucket

It all starts here- change, that is.

It’s the small changes, the little tweaks, that make a big difference.  Whether you’re wanting to change your physical or mental health, there’s no reason to overwhelm ourselves with a major overhaul.  While the changes I cite in this Des News article from 2016 aren’t necessarily the changes I’ve incorporated into my current daily routine, they were all a good kickstart to what has been a much healthier and happier 2017.

Read more about how every little penny adds up to big riches here.

 

Our family has a “Fun Bucket”. This is where all our loose change finds a home. At some point, usually before a vacation, we exchange the change for bills and use it for spending money. Those small amounts add up fast. At least $60, up to $100 and we cash it in more than once a year.

I use this metaphor in class. Small change makes a big difference. Those little tweaks in our workouts or nutrition may not seem like a big deal, but they can make all the difference in our overall health.

We’re a couple months into the new year. Resolutions are threatened by dwindling motivation. We’re not on a weight-loss reality show. Change doesn’t happen between commercials. This is real life and change takes time. For the patience-impaired, this is a challenge. Motivation lags when we don’t see results, but I promise, with consistent effort change will happen.

Continue reading “From the Archives- Pennies in the Bucket”

Des News: Do You Need a Break?

My daughter and I taking a break.

Relationships are living, breathing things.  We grow and change.  We are not the same people today that we were last year.  Like you need a blog to tell you that.  So why is it so hard to accept that our relationship to running, or any workout really, is also dynamic?  I once told a friend that I was cutting back on marathons.  The love just wasn’t there anymore.  Her reaction was as if I’d told her I was allergic to chocolate.  She kept assuring me I would bounce back.  This was only temporary.  I would be okay.  Her advice was to sign up for more races until I found the love again.  Well intended, but seriously misguided.  I wasn’t complaining.  I wasn’t lamenting the loss of my glory years.  I wasn’t even quitting running.  I just didn’t want to race.  There was nothing deep and spiritual to read into this shift.  I just didn’t wanna and that’s okay.  I mean, I used to love those Brach’s circus peanuts and Kool-Aid.  Give me those now and I’d literally gag.

This week’s Des. News column is intended to help you know if you’re in a running funk- if you need to take a step back or take a break.   I also list a few things that help me transition into that break while maintaining my sanity.

Click on the link below to read the full column.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865686247/Knowing-when-to-take-a-break-from-running.html