Tough Decisions (Ending the 100 Day Challenge – Day 85)

I was running on the treadmill the other day, when I felt my calf muscle start to tighten up. I stopped, stretched and rubbed it, but it would not loosen. It felt like the muscle wanted to cramp, and was right at that point. I decided to stop running for the day and let it rest.

The next day, I had the same issue. The tightness caused me to change my gait, and I knew that it would lead to more issues if I continued so I stopped. On Saturday morning, I went to a spin class and the leg was great. No pain or tightness at all. That afternoon, I decided to try a short run, and 1.5 miles into the run the tightness returned.

I think that the only way for this to go away is to rest it for a few days. The problem is in order to rest it, I have to give up my pursuit of the 100 day challenge. One of the requirements is to never miss a Monday, and today is Sunday! And since I’m at day 85, it’s hard to let it slip away. I know I can try again, but being so close makes stopping extremely difficult. Imagine seeing the finish line at a marathon, only to stop short and sit down; you could finish, but you don’t.

I have to weigh the options and my goals for the year against the challenge and see which one wins out. On one side, I’m 15 days from completing the challenge, and I could run very short runs to meet that goal. On the other side, I have two half marathons and an 8k race, and a full marathon coming up (one half is less than 30 days away), and if I don’t rest it I risk hurting it more than it is now. If I continue the Challenge, I risk hurting myself worse and then missing out on those races.

As hard as it is to let it go, I’m saying goodbye to the 100 Day Challenge. It’s been fun and taught me a few things about myself: I can find the time to run, no matter my busy schedule; I can be creative in making time to run (one day I ran up and down a hallway); I can stick with something when I set my mind to it; and I can also let something go when it come to the greater good.

Hopefully, three days of rest and a therapeutic massage will help my muscle return to normal. With the Challenge, I logged in over 200 miles, mostly on the treadmill because of weather conditions (it is Iowa, after all). I pushed in runs when I had no time, and even got to run with dear friends whether it be on the treadmill, the indoor track, or outside. It’s been a lot of fun, and I will try it again.

Now it’s time to rest and heal, the Hy Vee Road Races Half Marathon is coming up. I want to PR this one!

Live healthy, be happy.


Leprechaun 10k


The Leprechaun 10k was Saturday, and it was a great way to start off my racing season! The main premiss is the ladies (lasses) take off first with a 5 1/2 minute head start, then the men (lads) chase after the lasses. Whomever crosses the finish line first (lad or lass), that group gets a free beer at the post-race party.

I was honored and blessed to run with my dear friends, and we even formed a group: TK and His Irish Angels. Our group came in second in the competition! It was a great race, and great day, and a great way to start my racing season.

I hope my “Angels” can join me for other races this year.

Live healthy, be happy.


Spring Fever (or how a runner survives winter)

Spring is slowly trying to return to Iowa. For some, it’s saying goodbye to all the snow and ice; to runners, it’s saying hello to outdoor runs. Oh how I missed my outdoor runs. So the other day, when I heard that the lunchtime high temperature would be around 30 degrees, I threw my compression pants, long-sleeved shirt, and hoodie in my gym bag with the hope of getting an outdoor run in at lunchtime.

As I walked into the company’s wellness center, I was greeted by the usual runners that I see almost daily. “Looks like you’re going to have to wait a bit, the treadmills are full” I was told as I started to open my gym bag. “That’s ok” I replied. “I won’t be needing one today”. I started to put on my compression pants.

You could see it in their eyes; the knowing that someone is running outdoors. “You’re going outdoors?” they asked. “Yep” was all I said with a smile. A couple of them looked at their running clothes, shorts and tank tops, like a child looks in his lunch bag and finds the worst sandwich imaginable. They wanted to go too, to get out and enjoy the fresh air, the feel of the ground, the sights, even the traffic. Yet they were going to plod along the treadmill one more time while I ventured outside.

I finished dressing and headed out the main lobby doors to street level. The wind was brisk, so I pulled up my hoodie, started my Garmin and took off. What a wonderful feeling! It’s not that you forget how good it feels to be off the treadmill or indoor track and be out in nature, but that first outside run of the season always feels like it’s the very first run I’ve ever done. The cold wind, the water on the street, the inclines, even the start and stop of street intersections made me smile.

I made my way towards Gray’s Lake, and heard people honking their horns and waving. Probably fellow runners I imagined, and knew that soon they would be out here as well. Some people run no matter the weather; snow, ice, rain, sleet . . . it doesn’t matter. They are true diehards and I admire them, but while I will run in the cold, the snow and ice are hazards I try to avoid. The Vibrams I wear don’t handle the snow and ice as well and with no way to strap on ice cleats, I tend to stay indoors during most of the winter. If the path around the lake is clear, I will run there but only if it’s pretty clear.

The run was a short one in distance, 5.7 miles, but it was large in boosting my excitement for the upcoming spring. I missed being outside, viewing nature and meeting fellow runners. This run helped me to see that the seasons were indeed changing, and that soon I would have the privilege of running outside any time I wanted to.

Before I knew it, I was back where I started. I went in, took a shower and went back to work. As I made my way to various floors, the runners from the gym stopped me and asked how the run went and how they planned to go outside tomorrow. Word must have travelled fast, because other runners would stop me, say they heard I ran outside, and then once they heard that I in fact did venture out for a run, started peppering me with questions. How was it? Was it cold? Are there ice patches, and where are they? These was the common thread of questions. It seemed everyone wanted off the treadmill as soon as possible.

This weekend’s weather is turning bad again, so tomorrow it’s back to the indoor track. But, spring is coming, I know it. I feel it. I’ve been outside, and it’s coming.

It’s going to be a wonderful running season!

Live happy, be healthy!


Looking To Be Humbled? Take Up Running!

Great story! Looking to be humbled? Try running.

Running On Healthy

IMG_5352 Someone I know recently told me that they would like to take up running.  They are athletic and can hold their own in just about any sport.  So when they told me this was something they would like to do they also had to shrug and admit that they were a bit uncertain of how they were going to handle it.

Running is way different than tennis or hockey or most other sports.  If you are new to running or even if you have been running for years but still struggle, it can be very humbling.  Heck, sometimes when I go to a new running group and try to keep up with runners who are pretty speedy, it is still very humbling.  Approaching running without much experience can be very daunting.

Some people may come to running with a resolution to lose weight or get back in shape.  It seems like a great idea and they see those lean runners sail by…

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The Things You Can Accomplish

I was working out on the treadmill the other day with my dear friends and mentors Stephanie and Kara, when Stephanie mentioned that I was really pounding the treadmill. “But I’m heavy footed” was my reply. Stephanie suggested that I try shortening my stride and increasing my cadence. I really didn’t understand what she meant, but being afraid of looking stupid, I also didn’t ask her to explain it either. I didn’t think I could increase my speed and maintain it . . . wasn’t that what she meant? Speed and cadence is the same, right?

A couple of days later, Stephanie’s words were ringing in my head as I stepped onto the treadmill for a lunchtime run. After I warmed up, I started taking shorter, quicker steps. In the beginning, I could only run like that for a minute or so, then I had to lengthen my stride and recover. I kept trying it though, and after a few days I was able to lengthen the time I could run like she suggested.

So I shortened my stride, now what about the cadence Stephanie mentioned? How do I increase that while shortening my stride. Turns out that it does it for you, or at least for me it did. I noticed in order to be comfortable on the treadmill while running with a short stride, I had to speed up the treadmill in order to adjust and avoid overrunning the treadmill belt. On my “normal” stride, I felt comfortable with a pace of 6.0 – 6.2 mph. With the shorter stride, that speed increased to 6.8 – 7.0.

I thought I was having problems with my Garmin watch, as it was showing that my cadence was approx. 165-170, and my time for a mile was under 8 minutes. I brushed it off as being incorrect due to treadmill running, and not running outside. I thought that this weekend I would try it out on the indoor track and see how it changes then.

Friday night I was at the Waukee YMCA, and decided it was time to try Stephanie’s suggestion on the track. To my amazement, I ran the first three miles effortlessly, posting times of 7:24, 7:52 and 7:52 respectfully. And I wasn’t finished! Mile four was slower (congested track) at 9:08, but mile five and six came in at 8:33 and 8:37. So other than the one mile where I had to wait for people to move, I stayed pretty consistent. I expected the time per mile to decrease, but it was a lot faster throughout than I could have hoped for. I usually hope to finish a 10k in an hour, or just over 10 min a mile. This time I finished a 10k at 50:59!

I hope to continue to increase the distance that I can keep the stride/cadence consistent. If I can, who knows what will come about as far as finishing times. Thanks to Stephanie for pointing that out to me, and to Kara for helping me understand it all.

Live healthy, be happy!