iCan Marathon Training 2015

Do you, or someone you know, live in the Des Moines, Iowa area, run at least a 10k without walking, and have the desire to run a full marathon? If so, the iCan Running Group for 2015 will be forming soon. This free training program will help you train for your first marathon. The only investment you make is the time and dedication to get the training miles and strength training time in. I will post updated links to the application soon, but here is the main page for Coach Loran’s gym and last years link: http://ironworksathletics.com

This is a wonderful program that teams you with a mentor who is there to assist you during your training. I loved mentoring last year, and am looking forward to mentoring again this year! This is a life changing adventure, so get ready and I’ll post more details as they come in!


Live healthy, be happy!


Celebrating 10 years!

If you’ve ever considered quitting smoking, please read this blog. Maybe it’ll help you decide to quit for good. Thanks Celeste

Confessions of a [former] Fat Girl

smoking 1

(Photo courtesy of one of my best friends, Trena. This photo was taken in 1990, our senior year of high school.)

Yes, I was a smoker. Key word? Was.

Before I even get started, I will say right off the bat that I know there is nothing I can say or do to change you, your mind, how you feel and what you do. YOU have to want that change. YOU have to make that change. But maybe, just maybe, I can help get the ball rolling. And for that, here’s what I have to say:

I am kind of celebrating a big milestone today.

Today, thanks to my son, Brandon, I celebrate 10 years of being smoke-free. YES! 10 YEARS! I’ve said it to him before, but I will say it to him again, in fact, I will shout it…THANK YOU, BRANDON! Thank you for saying those eight simple…

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The 1000 Mile Challenge and Reflections On The Past Year

There is a sidewalk square at the corner of East 5th and Walnut Streets in Des Moines that is quite remarkable. It looks like all the other sidewalk squares; same shape, same materials made them all. It’s not marked with paint or worn by erosion. People walk by it every day without giving it a moments thought. But every time I go near that simple square of concrete, I feel a sense of pride stir up in me, and I get a little teary-eyed. I am flooded with memories; laughter and tears, happiness and pain, frustration and ease, and all the hurdles that it took to get to that particular square.

That spot, unnoticed by most everyone, is the place where I crossed the 1000 mile threshold for miles in a year. The original plan was to run 750 miles, but as that goal was crushed (I actually passed it without knowing), a new goal quickly formed in it’s place. “I have almost three months, can I get another 250 miles in?” I wondered to myself. Knowing that I had a marathon coming up, I would have a couple weeks of tapering and recovery. That meant a big push if this goal was to be achieved.

On December 20th, I hit the goal, right on the very square of concrete I described. As I was getting closer to the goal, I kept saying to myself and to others that it was no big deal, that others have run a lot more. That is true, but when I reflected on it, it was a bigger deal than I first thought. It wasn’t just a number, it was an accomplishment. It was hours of dedication and sacrifice that not everyone can or wants to undertake.

The magnitude of the milestone really hit me today. This morning I was warming up to run with the “Winter Warriors” group in the East Village, when a friend who knew about my accomplishment last week (and asked jokingly if there would be cake) smiled and said “Still no cake?” I smiled and said “Sorry, no cake”. That’s when I overheard another runner ask if it was my birthday. My friend explained that I ran 1000 miles in a year last week, to which the runner asking the question said an exasperated “My God! How many miles a week is that?” My friend started averaging it out as I signed up for the run, but hearing that reminded me of how I felt when I would see or meet someone who had run a half or full marathon, or completed a triathlon. I was and still am amazed by those people, even though somewhere along the line I became one of them. It’s funny how it changes and you don’t even notice until someone hears what you are doing or have done, and says “My God!” That is when you realize the transformation has taken place, even though you continually work on transforming and improving.

Some goals were not met this year, among them the century ride. Hopefully as bike training commences, that elusive beast will be tamed. My time in the pool was not as consistent as I wanted, but I think my goals for 2015 will change that.

My plan, along with my training partner Kara (I guess I have to retire the term “running partner”) is to compete in some sprint triathlons, both open water and pool triathlons, and build up to completing an Olympic distance triathlon. We also want to mentor a group training for their first marathon, and I would like to do two other things: a ultra marathon distance of 50k, and one obstacle course race. The 50k will be hard since most are off-road and I would prefer it to be a road race. I may have to just map it out and run it on my own.

It has been a great year! I feel better than ever, and love helping people achieve their dreams and goals. Sometimes encouragement and support is all a person needs to know what they can do. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me and supported me and my dreams this year!

A beautiful gift from my training partner Kara!

Live healthy, be happy!


The IMT Des Moines Marathon

Sunday was the big day! After hours and hours of training, after 750+ miles logged in, the IMT Des Moines Marathon was upon us. For myself and the iCan Running Team, it was a restless night, but the night before race day usually is … especially when it’s your first marathon as it was for so many of our team.

I have the greatest running partner in the world! Kara has helped me prepare for my second marathon as she readied herself for her first. Today was the day that we put all our miles of training to the test and cross that line together. Kara had some IT band issues during training, so she had the area taped with KT Tape. I’ve been having bursitis issues in the left hip, even after an injection. We were both hoping that we wouldn’t have issues during the run.

We met up at my place at 6:30 a.m. and headed for downtown. My wife, the saint that she is, got up and went with us when she could have slept in. Not only did she go with us, but she went to numerous areas, fighting road closures and traffic, just to cheer us on. Not something I would want to do when its 41 degrees out.

We met up with Coach Loran and the rest of the iCan team, chatted and took pictures. We tried to calm each others nerves, but before you knew it, we were heading to the starting line. Suddenly, we were off and Kara and I started a steady pace and stayed together.

The first 7-8 miles is pretty hilly, but we were prepared for that. We stayed steady, running about 10:20 to 10:30 miles. We even finished one mile of hills at 9:53! We were moving along, chatting and laughing like we always do. The last hill started to bother my hip, but I figured that once we got out of the hills, we would be home free.

We crossed the 13.1 mile mark at 2:10:35. That was great! I was hoping for 4:30 finish, and if we stayed the course, we would be right on time. It was a perfect day, perfect weather, beautiful scenery … you really couldn’t ask for more.

At mile 14 everything changed. Kara felt pain in her right leg; her IT band was screaming at her. We stopped and she stretched it out, and we walked a little bit until she felt ready to go again. I don’t know why, but it was then that my bursitis started to really go off and I had sharp stabbing pain in my hip socket (or at least it felt that way). We both stretched and decided to try again.

A couple of miles later, we had to walk for a bit again. The pain was too much for both of us, but with little breaks we were going to manage it. Kara is a trooper. There is absolutely no quit in that woman. She said we were going to cross that finish line together, no matter what it took.

Well, slow and steady wins the race. Using our run/walk method, we finished the marathon in 4:52:55, which is a PR for me. While it wasn’t the time I wanted, I got more than I imagined. I got to watch someone I love dearly become a marathoner. Not only watch, but hold her hand as she crossed that line and joined a very exclusive club. When we crossed the line, we were presented our medals, and then Kara turned to hug me, and the tears started flowing. She did it! We did it! Together, just like when we started this journey.

We gathered our composure and turned to see our other running partner Stephanie, standing by the side of the finish line. We went to embrace her, and the tears flowed again. Stephanie helped us along so much on this journey, that words cannot express the love and gratitude I have for her.

We then met up with friends and family, took some photos, and headed home to clean up and meet again for dinner. Sore, tired, and very hungry, our significant others listened patiently as we told our stories of the day.

Special thanks to Coach Loran of Ironworks Athletics, for working with us on this journey, to all the iCan Running Team members, to Stephanie for all her help and guidance, to my wife for not only putting up with this again, but running around and freezing just to cheer us on, and to everyone else for their help.

And to my running partner, my friend, my little sister in spirit, and one of the nicest and kindest souls you could ever meet, Kara. Thank you for helping me along all those otherwise lonely miles. Thanks for the advice, laughter, smiles, and companionship that we had and I hope we continue to have. It has been a blessing to train with you, and to get to know you, as we seem to discuss everything when we run! I love you to the moon and back! You are, and always shall be, my friend! Relax and rest now, you have earned a break …

Until we start triathlon training! Get ready!!

Live healthy, be happy!




Hills – The Training You Love to Hate

Hill training has a bad reputation. They are loathed by many a runner who would rather zip along on a flat surface than to face the challenge of a hill. Runners complain that hill training is too hard, that they are too sore afterwards, that it slows them down, etc., etc.

But hill training is an essential part of long distance training. You will likely never see a marathon, half-marathon, or even 10k without some sort of hill or incline in them. All sanctioned marathons that qualify as a Boston Marathon gateway race has to have a certain amount of elevation gain to them. Even the Des Moines IMT Marathon starts up a long hill and then into rolling hills before you ever reach the halfway point.

Tackling a hill does not have to be as daunting as it seems. You only need to prepare yourself physically and mentally to the challenge. Physically prepare yourself by adding some elevation gains in your daily runs. I like to switch between a few rolling hills along with some longer inclines, then on the next run find a bigger or steeper hill to work on. Build up your endurance to them and you will have them beat in no time.

Remember that it is ok to slow down going up hill in order to conserve energy. If you are running a 10 minute mile while on a flat area and you try to keep that 10 minute pace uphill, you will expend a lot of energy by attempting to maintain that pace. That is when you see runners throw up their arms in frustration and start walking. If you slow down, take your time, and stay steady, you will make it over the crest of the hill and your flat route pace will return … only it will feel like recovery! Pretty neat, isn’t it?

Everyone has their own way of mentally preparing to tackle a hill, so I will give you my way. You can try it or adapt it to fit your needs. First, I never look at the top of a hill. That only leads to the feeling of “I’ll never make it” which in it self spells defeat. I tip my head down (I wear a cap) and look approximately 5 feet past the bill of the cap. I will look up once and awhile periodically to make sure I am not going to run into someone.

While looking only a few feet ahead, I look for targets to pass. I tell myself “I have to make it to that mailbox” or “I have to make it to that telephone pole.” I keep breaking it into increments until I reach the top of the hill. That way I don’t get frustrated with the length of the hill at all.

I hope this helps you, and that the next time you run up on a hill you find a challenge waiting rather than a daunting or impossible task. Hills will make you stronger and quicker, so incorporating them into your weekly runs is a great idea.

Live healthy, be happy.


A Special Sunday Run

This Sunday was a special day. I went to Campbell Park to meet up with our running club, but the only ones that showed up was Stephanie, Kara, and myself. The other team members had ran on Saturday, so it was just the three of us for the long Sunday run.

It was like old times again, the three of us running together. Stephanie, Kara and I have put in many miles together. We have shared lots of laughter, some tears, and many cheers as we celebrated and consoled each other over the miles and over the past year. Don’t get me wrong, I love running with our club, but there is something special when the three of us run together. We seem to know each other so well, that we know when to push each other and when to be beside each other as one struggles. It is an amazing feeling to know your running partners that well, and that they know me that well.

Stephanie has been having trouble with an ankle, so she only wanted to run with us for the first hour. We planned a route so it would take us back to the park, then Kara and I could take off for the second hour. So off we went, and as usual we laughed the miles away. No topic was off limits, and people watching us probably wondered what we were up to since we were laughing so much. Before we knew it, we were at the halfway point, and just as quickly we were back where we started.

We walked Stephanie to her car, and she smiled and said “I don’t want to leave you guys.” She then pulled her bicycle out her car, strapped on her helmet, and proceeded to ride behind us! I asked if her ankle was ok and she said it was better on the bike then running. It was great to finish what we started together, and I always enjoy our time together.

I hope everyone gets the opportunity to have running partners such as I do. They fill my heart and soul with support, encouragement, love, and caring. I know that obligations limit our chances to run together as much as we did before, but I know that they are always there for me and that when we do get the chance for the three of us to run together, it will be awesome. As always! Love you ladies!

Live healthy, be happy!


Injuries and Recovery

A couple of weeks ago, I felt a pull in my right calf while out on a run. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but before the run was over it felt as if I had a major muscle cramp. The pain continued the next day, so I used ice, heat, and Motrin to try and calm it down. After a few days, it felt better, so I resumed my running regimen.

I ran a 12 mile pre half-marathon training run on Friday, followed by a 40 mile bike ride on Saturday. Sunday was a rest day, but Monday was to be a 5 miler in honor of the Boston Marathon bombing. I was 1.5 miles into that run when it felt as if I had been shot in the right calf. The pain was intense, and I ended up limping home. I went back to the ice/heat/Motrin routine, but the pain would not completely go away. I decided that since this is becoming a continual issue, I made an appointment to see my doctor.

My doctor diagnosed a torn or ruptured inner calf muscle and prescribed physical therapy and an MRI (just to rule out a major rupture). At PT, I found out that although I stretch, I do not stretch enough and I do not do the necessary stretches to prepare for the day, much less a run. So I was shown how to stretch each muscle group, and I am supposed to do these every morning and evening even if I don’t run that day. On days that I do run, I am to do these stretches before and after the run. That’s a total of 4 stretching routines a day! Much more than I have ever done!

I have only had a couple of PT sessions, and the therapist has cleared me to run, as long as I don’t feel any twinges in the right calf. If I do, I stop. I am to tell the therapist how it went on Monday, and then I have the MRI that evening.

This evening I went on my ‘inaugural’ run since the injury. I took it easy on a relatively flat course, and only went 1.5 miles. The run went well, finishing in 13:04 with an average of 8:43 per mile. It felt so good to be back out there, and I am looking forward to a longer group run tomorrow.

So a friendly word of advice: stretch, stretch, stretch. You will be glad you did!

Live healthy, be happy!


Prep for the Hy Vee Half and the Mayor’s Bike Ride

Friday afternoon was upon us, and what better way to start the weekend then by going on a long run with one of my best friends! Kara and I met almost a year ago (at the Boston Memorial 10k) and I look to her as a mentor, a counselor, sometimes co-conspirator, but most of all an awesome friend.

So Kara and I decided to run the route for the upcoming Hy Vee half marathon as close as we could, so that we would have a better feel for the course, and to get a nice long run in. It’s so much fun when Kara and Stephanie and I (or any combination of the three) run together. The topics vary greatly, but the love and the bond the three of us share is always felt. Unfortunately, Stephanie is away on business, so Kara and I forged our trail alone.

We started at Drake University, worked through downtown, around the capital, around the ballpark, the lake, and then back to the university. It was an amazing run, and the time flew by. Kara at one point asked “Why do we think this is fun again?” I replied, “Don’t worry, in thirty minutes after we finish, you’ll be telling stories about it.” And we did, as we went to dinner and my wife patiently listened as we recalled our funniest moments. It was a great run, and I think we are ready for the half marathon (we got 12 miles in).

Saturday morning was the Mayor’s Annual Ride & Run (M.A.R.R.). My wife and I decided to ride in this fun ride so we could learn to ride in a large group of people (there were several hundred riders, but I don’t have the exact count). My wife suggested that we ride to the event, instead of drive, and afterwards ride home. That changed the distance from 25 to 40 miles, and after running 12 miles the previous evening, I didn’t know how my legs would hold up. But I’m always up for a challenge and agreed to do it!

I was surprised that not only did I hold up well, I actually felt better after we were finished. I know we didn’t go all out (12.8 average m.p.h) but it’s still a decent ride on tired legs. But I’m glad we did ride, as we learned a lot and we got to see a lot of beautiful areas in Des Moines. We will be looking forward to this event again next year.

Happy Easter to everyone! Tomorrow is a rest day (with the exception of yard work), and then Monday I run 5 miles for the Boston Marathon Worldwide Run. It’s a memorial event where you pledge to run so many miles on Patriots Day. I hope you can join along as well.

Live healthy, be happy!