Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Running Friends

     I wasn't sure which direction I wanted my next blog post to go, so I browsed my pictures to get a little inspiration and one theme immediately became apparent: fun with friends and family!  I want this blog to focus on ways to be and feel healthy but also have some fun, which IS healthy!!
     One of the most fun things about living a healthier lifestyle is making new friends, finding something in common with old friends, or participating in healthy activities with family and friends!  Any of the above can inspire and encourage someone to make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.  It may not even be someone you know but they may be motivated to try a new food or exercise that can be the key, leading them to better health.  What a gift that would be! 
     So here is a shout out to all my running friends for inspiring me, and others, and having fun while doing it! 
Me and Crystal Stangle and the Sole Challenge, Arrowhead Lake, Johnston City IL 5k/10k.  Crystal and I met during the Fly With the Eagles half marathon.  We got the job done in 15 degree temps!
Melissa Crump, Arrowhead Lake Sole Challenge.  Melissa is doing the St. Jude's half marathon in December!
Thank you to Jennifer Gratz for taking my picture at the United Way 5k!  This year was Jason Gratz's first United Way 5k. 
Me and nephew, Zach Toon at the Camp Ondessonk Heepwah 5k. Love running trails!
My mom, Bonnie Hicks, is my main crew member.  I couldn't do the trail running and races I do without her!  This pic was taken on the Tunnel Hill state trail during practice for the Tunnel Hill 10 miler.
Here I am finishing the Tunnel Hill 10 miler!  I met Susan Skipworth during the race and this is her finishing just ahead of me, in the yellow jacket.  With her encouragement, I finished 15 minutes faster than I anticipated!  Thank you Susan!
This is me and my lovely co-worker, Angie Carder, after finishing the 2014 Iron Mom half marathon as a two-woman relay team.  We've also done the Talon Falls foam run and plan for her daughter and my nephew to do the foam run with us next year!
Here are me and Tammi Terry after our adventure into night time trail running at the Klaus Park trail series.  We still have the Meandering Turkey to complete, but at least it will be in daylight!
Here is Mr. 21, Hoops for Life, Shannon Aldridge, tackling the inaugural Tunnel Hill 50 miler!!  He and his wife encourage and inspire runners of all abilities!  
This ^ pic and the next, represent the wonderful people I've met in the online running communities.  Sonya Lapierre sent me the above pic!  She encourages folks on Facebook everyday to get moving and stay DETERMINED!
I'm currently enjoying an online challenge with my latest team, "Where's The Finish!?"  All the teams in these challenges have been supportive of one another, regardless of ones abilities.  You don't have to be an elite ultra runner to support and encourage one another to greater achievements!  Thanks, Captain Lisa Beale Cavanaugh and all my teammates!  We have a good time and make each other laugh and that's what it's all about!  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rest and relaxation

     It was hard for me to grasp the concept that rest days were not only important, but CRUCIAL in regaining fitness and losing weight.  Hitting a plateau AND having an overwhelming case of fatigue, worse than the average fibromyalgia spell, led me to reevaluate my fitness plan. 
     I started my "reboot" at the chiropractor.  I firmly believe routine chiropractic care is crucial to fibromyalgia maintenance and overall health and wellness.  From a wise friend, "remember to honor your rest days." So, now I take one every week and maybe two if I have a longer run than usual or a race longer than a 5k.  I'm serious about these rest days.  I try to keep stress levels at a minimum, maintain my water intake as if it were an exercise day and I strive for the best nutrition possibly, all to give time and nutrients a chance to heal/repair/build muscles and other cells used to increase my fitness level.
     So, does this mean you do nothing while, say, on vacation?  Rest and relaxation can come in many forms. Maintaining a routine can be comforting in and of itself.  Don't forego your exercise routine while on vacation.  You might just find a new activity you love!
     Or renew a friendship with an activity you haven't done in a while....
     Maybe doing what you always do, but in a new place, will give you a new outlook on that routine activity!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Finding the perfect balance

    I know most of my blog posts have been running or race related, so it seems like a good time to do a nutrition related post.  Both the dietary aspect and the fitness aspect of "being healthy" can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  Two years ago this month, I joined a fitness program through work.  With the knowledge and guidance of professionals, I have been able to lose 75# and continue to slowly lose.  There have been so many pieces to the "puzzle" that it's difficult to choose just one thing that has had the biggest impact on losing weight.  
    One key "puzzle piece" has been using myfitnesspal to track calories in and calories expended.  This app makes counting calories easy and helps the user monitor the balance of fat/carbs/protein.  It's been my best and most favorite "tool" is reclaiming my health and fitness. I often give this example of how I use myfitnesspal in making decisions on what to eat; let's say I have 200 calories left for the day.  Instead of choosing a food randomly, I look at my fat/carb/protein ratio and see which food choice is needed for proper nutrition, fuel, and/or maintenance.  If there is still room for a choice, I look to my needs in relation to the days activity or the next day's fuel needs.  If I've had a vigorous workout or long run, I'll choose to fill the gap with protein.  If I have a long run or race planned for the next day, I'll choose to "carb up".  Rarely do I get to actually choose a fatty food.  I never fail to meet my fat quota for the day, haha, but it IS important to make sure you choose GOOD fats in your daily food choices. 
(This is an actual picture from my own myfitnesspal.  One of those rare days where I had the perfect balance!)
     I hope this little tidbit of information helps inspire my readers to make a commitment to their health.  Everyone's journey is different but each step you make towards better health is leading to a better you!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bad Ass Derby Day!

     What happens on Derby Day?  Racing, right?  So bright and early, me and mom headed to Ozark, IL.  Oh, wait, the Kentucky Derby isn't in Illinois.  The Bad Ass Trail Dash is though!!  This is the second time I've travelled to this beautiful property for one heck of a trail race.  2013 was my first experience with this race.  I had only been doing 5k races for six months when I first entered this race.  I had just completed the LBL 23k and thought "this 5k will be a piece of cake."  Boy, was I wrong!  We had two knee deep creek crossings and downed trees as our obstacles.  We had three hills that were so steep, I practically had to slide down on my behind!  Below is a pic from before the race.  It was March and still pretty chilly.  It was super tough and I was just glad to finish!
     Now to Derby Day 2014!  The Bad Ass Trail Dash had a "mystery distance" this year.  Somewhere between 3-5 miles.  The race this year was MUCH tougher than last year!  Crazy ups and downs, smaller creek crossings,steep ass hills, all leading up to the grand finale...drum roll...mega cold water crossing! 

Thank you to Lindsay's son who took my picture AND delivered my phone to me at the finish line. Thank you to mom, Shannon, and Crystal.  You guys make craziness like this fun!  Check out their Facebook page for upcoming race dates!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

5 Trails in 5 Days

    Each spring, me and my mom take a bird watching trip.  It isn't always a long trip but a couple of times we have travelled all the way to Dauphin Island, Alabama.  This year we decided to do several small day trips.  I thought it might be fun to combine this with some trail running, a different trail everyday!  
     I started day one at Columbus Belmont State Park with my sister, Dyanna.  We walked and ran the trails and paths for 3 miles and concluded with some good birding in the river bottoms. 
     Day 2 finds us headed to Reelfoot Lake for more bird watching and a quickie little trail run.  It was sad to see the Airpark Inn closed.  We did see some good birds and a snake! Here is a pic of the trail before we headed to Bluebank Resort for lunch. 
     Day 3 was a planned long run at LBL's Canal Loop.  6.43 miles on the Lake Barkley side, with my fastest time in that section!  We checked out the visitor center and got some awesome new shirts.  One has a map of the Canal Loop trail on the back.  It was kinda like getting a race shirt!  I took lots of pics on this day, but this was my fav. 
     Day 4 was a day for "home trails."  You don't always have to travel far to enjoy Mother Nature.  I save my runs at home for trying out new foods or workout gear.  If it's a food that really doesn't agree with me, I'm close to home, or if a clothing item (like new running socks) isnt working I can stop and change.  I think my home trails are as beautiful as any!
     The final day of my "5 trails in 5 days" challenge was soggy.  Matthew and I dodged the storm clouds on more home trails to do some birding.  We may not have logged many miles, but we had a couple of hours walking with some good birds.  This self-challenge truly does end in happy trails! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

When races get close to your heart...

          I'm no competitive runner. I never have been and never will be.  That being said, I still do the best I can for each run, each race, given the strength and energy (and plan) I have for that day.  Anyone with any chronic pain or illness knows this also applies to everyday life.  
     So, with challenges and trials on our minds, let me tell you about my last two races.  Recently, mom and I travelled to Cape Girardeau, MO, for the Unforgettable Perseverance 5K Challenge.  We found ourselves turning onto a road paralleled by a beautiful stream that looks like it belongs in the mountains, then turning into Shadow Rest Ministries, a scenic spiritual retreat center.  The purpose of this race was to support persecuted and imprisoned Christians.  Each runner wore a bracelet with the name of a Christian who is in prison.  The bracelet helped us remember to pray for that person.  "Pray for us" is the number one request of persecuted Christians.  I made new friends and got to run for the best of causes.  It was a chilly and muddy trail race, but I think I'm getting used to the mud this spring.  Very much looking forward to this race again next year!
     I had no plans for races in April, just training.  A friend sent me a message that she was going to walk her first 5k on April 5th to help her grandson's ball team raise $ for uniforms.  I told her I would love to walk with her.  Sadly, her husband experienced a stroke the very next day :(. I'm glad to say he is on the mend!   I found myself wanting to run that race for my friend and her husband!  The finish line was an awesome site!  Seeing those young boys cheering every runner in was so heartwarming!  Best high 5's ever!
I'm glad I ran the race for those who couldn't!  God is good!  All the time!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

LBL 23K Race Report

     Snow, mud, and I wasn't last.  That should be the title for this blog post, haha! The weather has been a moody girl this year, and after the last half marathon, (see previous blog post) I hoped Mother Nature was done with her nastiness, but I was oh, so, wrong. She was a teasing temptress as I went to the Canal Loop one week before the race for my last long practice run. 
     It was a beautiful day on the trail and I had high hopes that race day would dawn just as warm and sunny.  The weather report called for rain, ice, snow the Sunday/Monday before the race.  I don't think anyone anticipated the mess staying around as long as it did, but cold temps dominated once again and the trail went from the pic above to this a week later...
     "A brown snowcone" is what I heard one runner call it, and rightly so.  I put my yaktrax on for the second half of the race, and though they helped with footing I do think they held snow on top of my left shoe, and I couldn't feel my toes for about an hour.  I shucked the yaktrax when I came off the trail to finish the trip into town on the road.  I never went back for them.  
     My only real goal was to finish with a better time than last year.  I beat last year's time by 32 minutes!  In the muck! Hard work and training pays off!  Now if the trail/weather cooperates next year, I'll see just how much my time really has improved!  
     Due to the harsh weather, the trail condition took a big hit.  West KY Runners club, along with LBL staff and other volunteers, met this past weekend to do trail repairs.  (I'm in the grey jacket)
      I learned a lot by working on the trail with these people and was honored to do so.  Doing this work gave me a new insight into this beautiful trail and makes me love it even more.  
     LBL is a very unique place and we are blessed in western Kentucky to have such a place.  One of my goals for 2014 is to run at least 500 miles.  I plan on many of those miles occurring in the Land Between the Lakes area!  And with views like this, who can blame me.

Take The Long Way Home

    The weather this winter has certainly made every training run feel like "the long way home".  (All you 80's peeps cue the Supertramp soundtrack!).  I decided more than a year ago that I wouldn't let the weather be an excuse for not exercising (except lightning, safety first!).  I was very hard pressed this winter to keep my end of the bargain.  I had to maintain my "safety first" motto and dusted off the treadmill on days when the footing was just too dangerous to stand much less run or even walk!  As long as it was not too slick to risk injury, I still walked and ran outside when I could.  The winter weather has certainly made life interesting...for all of God's creatures!
     I signed up for the Crab Orchard "Fly with the Eagles" half marathon on Feb  8th, a month before the LBL 23K.  "It'll be good practice" a friend says (you know who you are, lol). The weather continued to be atrocious and the race was postponed a week due to road/trail conditions.  My mind began its little hamster wheel turning, "are these two long races too close together for me? Will I be able to adequately recover in between? I consider the LBL 23K the pinnacle of my race calendar.  I didn't want anything to affect me beating last year's time!  
     The morning of the new race date dawned cold as (*insert your favorite colloquialisms*) or to be honest, plain ole 15 degrees!!!!  Crab Orchard lake was frozen solid.  The noises coming from the ice were amazing!  Mother Nature's music at its most freaky!  I even saw 2 eagles flying overhead around mile 11!  I had a lot of leg cramps those last couple of miles, but still enjoyed this race! 
     Here is Mr. 21 himself, after the race.  Thanks for always encouraging us to be the best we can be!
     Here is my race photo, about mile 3. 
The red hoodie was our race shirt (coolest race shirt, ever!) and I was glad I decided to wear it because it never got above freezing that day.  One of my secrets for cold mornings is in the fuel belt you see me wearing in the pic; it's lemon ginger echinacea juice!  It's carb and sugar enough to give a boost of energy and the ginger seems to warm me up!  I'm glad I didn't back out due to the temperatures/weather and I'm glad I didn't quit due to the leg cramps.  I may not be fast but I have as much determination as the fastest! 


     Sorry it's been so long since the last blog post.  The holidays and training certainly take a toll on blogging! 
     Since the last post, I did the Pearl of the Purchase 5k and placed in my age group!  Sharon Downs received the women's masters award! 
     Then it was off to Missouri for a couple of trail races.  The Klaus Park "Meandering Turkey" was a new experience for me.  This 4.5 mile trail is designed more for mountain bike types. It's a lot of trail in a small space, "meandering" through a beautiful woods.  It was also "no earbuds allowed" which was a first for me.  I placed in my age group and LOVE my award!
     The Perryville "Turkey Burn Off" was 3.5 mile trail race around a beautiful lake and was exactly the type I like! A variety of terrain, a few small hills, and good people. Definitely one race I'll be doing again!  Stay tuned!