"Thanks, but I peed my pants."

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ben was standing at the finish line, cheering for me as I completed the Surf-n-Santa 5 mile race.

Him: "Great race!!!  You did awesome!!!"
Me: "Thanks, but I peed my pants."

Unfortunately, he's heard this before.  I feel so bad for husbands sometimes and the ewy things they have to witness.  I've had 4 major episodes of exercise-induced urinary incontinence; the first 5k after Alison was born, the first 5k I got first place in, the first half-marathon and the fastest 5 mile race.  It seems to happen when I really push myself to the max and literally give the race all I've got...lol.

I'm sure my family is super excited to read this post, but I love being the voice for others and say the things that people wish others would talk about.

I've learned my lessons and never workout without a panty liner and for the 5 miler, I even packed a change of clothes.  That's what got me through.  I knew it was dark and I was wearing black pants and I could change clothes in a matter of minutes.  Or so I thought.  I quickly got my dry bag and ran to the bathroom, stripped down and realized that my dry clothes were still in my car.  Nothing like putting pee clothes back on and then standing in a large crowd of people while your husband talks to some work buddies.  I actually was laughing on the inside because it was our 12 year anniversary celebration..."Happy 12 years!  Your date as pee pants!"

I came home from the race and googled this problem...super romantic, right?  I have a good friend who is a cross country coach and she's always told me that it's completely normal for runners to pee during a race.  But I found this article and found it even more encouraging.  30-40% of women runners pee their pants!!!  30-40%!  That means that out the 400 women in my age group in that 5 miler, 120-160 of them also peed their pants. With those kind of numbers, you would think they would put runners strength panty liners in the goody bags or hand out underwear at the finish line instead of bananas (I have never, ever wanted a banana after a run).

They say that age and number of children make this problem worse.  Awesome.  Considering that #3 pretty much fell out of me shortly after this picture was taken, it's a miracle I'm not wearing diapers.
With my sister, who basically caught Colin

It's all worth it though.  A little pee is worth having these 3.

Eli-2, Alison-4, Colin-a couple of weeks
A little pee has helped me survive the last 8 years of raising babies and sleepless nights and a changing body.

Alison-8, Eli-5, Colin-3

So, what do you do about this little problem?  First, I have to say that I would much rather have this problem than "runners trots"!  Sorry, way grosser.  There's a surgery and there's kegal exercises and there's the comfort of knowing that you are not alone.  You can know this; if we are at the same race and you pee your pants, come find me, because chances are, I did too.  Or you can just laugh as you think, "Remember that time Jen went on her anniversary date with pee pants?"


Cheers!  May your next run, be a dry one.



The Struggle Is Real

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I got some great winter running gear from my Mom in November and some other items on Christmas day and I haven't been able to use them once! It's odd because it's December 30th and my air conditioner is on. I actually have a tan line from running with a tank top on this month. I'd like it to get cold at least once so I can use my new gear a few times before we move to Arizona in March. I suppose it just goes to show that people are I am never content even when things are about perfect. Hopefully I can just enjoy the weather, even if it is incredibly humid and strange. 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11

The week of Christmas it was almost 100% humidity the entire time.

Week In Review

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

This has been a HOT week. Here in Virginia, and all across the East Coast, records were broken. It was 80 degrees on Christmas day with 100% humidity. I never thought I'd have the problem of it being too hot and humid to enjoy my runs the week of Christmas.

This beer is SERIOUSLY good. Perfect for the week of Christmas.

I made a rum cake and I ate a lot of rum cake. The more you run the more you can eat!


Hanging out with my Spider man on Christmas morning.
I was fortunate enough to have the entire week off and other than some rain and the crazy heat it was an awesome week of running. I made my goal of 30 miles a week and also did some runs with Jen. What more can I want for Christmas? Nothing.

Monday - 7 miles at 7:53 pace
Tuesday - 5.5 miles at 7:48 pace
Wednesday - 6.31 miles at 7:51 pace
Thursday - 5 miles at 8:02 pace
Friday - 5.1 miles at 8:11 pace
Saturday - 4 miles at 8:31 pace
Sunday - Rest

Total miles: 33 

Up next: No races planed.

Race Report - Surf N Santa 5 Miler

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Hanging out in the warmth waiting for the race to begin.

BEN'S RACE REPORT

Pre-race: What's a great way to celebrate your 12th anniversary? Run a race together! Jen and I got a baby sitter and decided to have some fun for our anniversary date. The great thing about this race is that there was a big convention center to wait in before the start. The starting line was literally right outside the building. So we were able to stay inside and be warm until about 20 minutes until the start. Jen and I went out about 20 minutes before the start to jog around, warm up the legs, and get used to the cold. There were also LOTS of people running this race. 3750 runners to be exact. The weather was about 45 degrees with a light wind and plenty of sunshine.

Where's Waldo? Can you find me (Ben)? Hint: I'm below the 'T' on the left side. Also the man in the red in the middle is Chris Solinsky. I'm happy to come in 38th behind him any day of the week.

Mile 1-2: I went out fairly fast but settled in equally fast. After the first 400 meters I settled into a 6:30 pace and felt pretty good. I was getting passed by LOTS of people and that made me feel pretty bad. But I kept telling myself that there was lots of race to go. After the first mile I also felt a bit tired. I realized it was going to take a lot of effort to keep my pace so I just tried to relax. 6:29, 6:39

Mile 3-4: Around the 2.5 mile mark I started to pass a LOT of guys. It was payback for all those who passed me the first mile. This part of the run was on the boardwalk along the ocean in Virginia Beach. It was supposed to be a run under the Christmas lights. But the sun was still out! The ocean was pretty but I didn't get to see any Christmas lights turned on. Oh well. Around mile 3 some doubts started to creep into my mind that I wouldn't be able to keep this pace up. 6:33, 6:35

Notice how the Christmas lights are not turned on. And I'm wearing sunglasses. I was too busy running to take them off.
Mile 5: I felt like I had nothing left. I really wanted to push hard my last mile but the gas tank seemed to be running on fumes. My watch was telling me I was at about a 6:40 pace for this mile. I felt like I was going a bit slower. I did pass a few people, but around mile 4.5 I was passed by two guys. There was no way I could run the pace they were throwing down. I was just hoping to make it to the end without exploding. The finish line was inside of the Virginia Beach convention center. Like actually in the building. It seemed like I would never actually make the last few turns and get inside. My lungs were burning and my ears felt stuffy like I was fighting a cold. I FINALLY crossed the finish line in 32:33! My last mile was actually fast but it sure didn't feel like it. 6:21

Post-race: I managed to come in 38th place overall and 3rd in my age division! It was so much fun doing a race with Jen. We enjoyed some beer and spicy potato soup afterwards. We also ran into several people from my work who also did the race. My only complaint at the post-race party is the music was TOO loud. I could barely hear someone talking right next to me.  After the race we headed out to dinner. I took Jen to a 'hole in the wall' Mediterranean place that has some great Iskender Kebap and red lentil soup. Not fancy but it was perfect for our post race sweaty dinner.

JEN'S RACE REPORT

My report is not as fancy as Ben's.

Pre-race: I stood in a long line for the potty, but was thankful to have indoor plumbing and a warm place to wait for the race to start.  Ben signed us up for the race and put me down for a 7:50 pace, which meant I was in corral #1 with him.  I felt like that was a lofty goal and felt very out of place at the front of the 4,000 people crowd.  It was worth it to stand with Ben while we waited for the race to start and I think I needed his confidence boost to make me believe I really can run the race he put down on paper.

Mile 1: Pure comical craziness.  I was running a 6:30 pace, which I have never run before but felt comfortable, and people were flying past me!  It was very humbling until a man started to pass me that was covered in jingle bells and was singing...then I was okay with being passed and started to slow down.

Mile 2: People started to chill out and run an even pace.  I came up behind a couple that were talking about their pace (7:40) and they reminded me of me and Ben.  I decided that I would make it my goal to make sure I didn't loose sight of them.  People were dressed up as all kind of things for the race, so when I approached a group of real gingerbread men, I didn't think much of it.  It took me a minute to figure out that they were handing out gingerbread cookies.  There was also a similar candy cane situation and I was just thinking, "Who is stopping to eat cookies and candy canes?!"  I would barf.

Mile 3-4: We ran down the boardwalk and I LOVED it.  The sun was setting over the ocean and I just relaxed into watching the beauty.  It was redeeming moment for me.  I ran that same stretch at the end of my first half marathon; it was the end of the race and the temps were very hot and I had watched a man collapse earlier in the race, who actually died.  The ocean was not refreshing to me that day and I felt like this race was the perfect way to rewrite that experience and say good-bye to the Atlantic Ocean.  The Christmas lights were actually on, Ben was just running too fast to see them and yes, it would have been way cooler if the race was later in the day.  I also passed my goal couple on this stretch which was pretty cool.

soaking up the ocean as I run...man, I wish I could keep my elbows in!
See?  My review is way girlier.

Mile 5: A very confusing mile.  I knew the race ended back at the convention center, but at 4.25 miles I started hearing cheering.  I started thinking that maybe the course was wrong and it wasn't really 5 miles.  So I picked up my pace and geared up for the finish line.  I got to the front of the convention center and there was no finish line.  I turned a corner, thinking this must be the finish and picked up my pace more.  Nope.  Another turn and I finally saw the finish inside the building.  Who's idea was that?!  I ran as fast as I could and crossed the finish line at 39:40.

Post:  I did have a little personal issue during the race that is for another post, but I was really proud of myself.  Maybe that's weird to say, but I do love that about running.  I'm only competing with myself and I have never run like I did that night.  I have never, ever run 5 miles, all in the 7 minutes...not once did my watch see an 8.  The girl I'm talking to in the picture below, came up to me at the end and said, "Nice push to the end.  I was behind you the whole time and watched you kick it home.  Nice work."  I'm glad she was behind me and couldn't see my angry face I had on during that last stretch.  I was also thankful that I had enough fuel in me to run a negative split...that also has never happened.

About 15 minutes later this whole place was PACKED. Finishing early is nice because you can get your dry bag back without a line....and get beer first.


5 Mile Race Strategy

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Tomorrow Jen and I are running the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler. I had some questions about how to run a 5 mile race. I know it's one foot in front of the other, but I was curious on what strategy is best for this distance.
Unibrow runner has questions. He also looks like he's been riding a horse all day.
Unfortunately, it's hard to find information on strategy for a 5 mile race. I even searched for 8k race strategy since that is basically the exact same distance (4.97097 miles). Most advice falls into one of two camps. First, just run it like a 5k and hope for the best. This strategy has you grabbing the tiger by the tail and hanging on for dear life.

"Come here kitty!"
The risk with this strategy is that you blow up. Not literally blow up, but burn yourself out to the point that you have to significantly slow down. I was close to this once in a 5k. If the finish line had been a half mile longer I think I would have died. I would like to avoid this outcome.

Running pro tip: don't blow up.
The second paradigm is to run it like a short 10k. This means make sure you run a negative split. Take it easy in the first few miles and then push hard. This strategy seems to make a lot of sense, but it also sounds kinda boring.

I do not know which strategy is right or best. My 'made-up' strategy for this race will be as follows:

Mile 1: Go fast the first 400-800 meters. Just embrace the fact that I will fly out of the gate. Then slow it down to my goal pace or just a bit slower. Even if I slow it down the first mile will still be a fast one due to the start.
Mile 2: Keep control of myself and go at about 5 seconds slower than my goal pace.
Mile 3: Same as mile 2, but if a group is near me try to latch on and run with a group.
Mile 4: Pick up the pace and run at my goal pace or 5 seconds faster
Mile 5: Go for it. Embrace the pain and don't leave any time on the track.

On another note: I won't dress up in a costume for this race. This race is one where most people will be wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and reindeer costumes. I actually did consider wearing a costume, but, as Jen pointed out, it seems silly to spend $20-30 for a costume that I will only wear once. And there is always the risk that the costume will impair my running. Rule #1 for a race is "wear nothing new on race day".  A costume would definitely be breaking that rule. That is, unless I did a training run in the costume. Not going to happen.

My goals for this race are:
1) Run faster than my 10k pace from last Saturday (6:48/mile)
2) Average a 6:30 mile (32:30 time)
3) Run under 30:00 (long term goal)

Do you dress up for races? What has been your 5 mile race strategy? Have you ever blown up?


Did you know that your feet can grow?

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

I sure didn't!

I desperately need new running shoes.  I'm currently running in Nike...and now I'm really freaking out because I can't find my current shoes anywhere online..what did I buy and what have I been running in for the last 6 months??!!  I promise I bought them at a sport's store and they were in the running section!  My major complaint about the shoes was that the laces constantly came untied and recently the bottoms of my feet and calves have been hurting by the end of a long run.

Ben has amazing skills at buying me running shoes (he was deployed when I bought my current mystery shoes) and brought home some Brooks for me a couple of weeks ago.  I ran my last half marathon in Brooks and loved them.  However, I was skeptical of them after injuring my achilles tendon during the race and went back to Nike.  I slipped on the shoes he brought home and was immediately thinking, "AAHHH!!!"  They were so tight!

What is happening?
I've always worn a size 7!  Since 7th grade, I've worn a size 7 shoes.  Why is this size 7 too small?

I know feet can grow during pregnancy/right after birth, but my youngest is 3 years old, so that doesn't make sense.  So, I turned to google (I think I may do this a little too much) to find out what may have caused my feet to grow and found an article explaining that this new minimalist, "pretty shoe" fad is causing feet to flatten and loose their arch, hence the growing.  YIKES!  No wonder my feet and calves have been hurting so much when I run!

We went back to the sport's store where I bought mystery Nike shoes and I found these SUPER comfy Saucony running shoesI also tried on another style of Nike's, but I'm not sure I'll ever feel comfortable buying them again after they caused my feet to expand.

 

Oh, the life of a runner...running errands right after a run=compression sleeves under the jeans.  That's how classy we are around here.

Shortly after we got home, Ben researched my new shoes and found that they aren't really distance running shoes and more just "athletic" shoes for people who are on their feet all day.

*Sigh*

I took back the Saucony's and tried a different store.  And after trying on pretty much every shoe in the store (poor sales lady helping me), I decided to go big and picked the top of the line Asics.
I figured you can't really go wrong with $150 running shoes.  I scored a great deal and only paid $99 and was sure that these "real" shoes would cure everything.


I was excited to hit the trail with my new shoes!


This crazy December.
I ran the leaf covered trail in shorts and a t-shirt and was drenched in sweat from the humidity.
At the beginning, I was running the fastest I ever have and thinking, "Thank you Asics!" but about mile 3, my feet starting going numb.  I planned on running 5.5, but only made it 4 with countless stops after mile 3 to try and get feeling back in my feet.  I didn't even make it back to my car and had to sit down on the sidewalk to take off the shoes...that's how bad my feet hurt.  I kept trying to convince myself that my feet were just freaking out with finally having support, but I have never felt foot pain like I did that day.  I tried again the next day on the treadmill with adjust laces, thinking maybe I just had them on too tight, but my toes still went numb.  So back to the store these fancy shmancy shoes went.

I was feeling very discouraged.  No shoes and lots of foot/calf pain and a race in 2 days.  Several friends have encouraged me to go to an expert running store, which I will be doing soon.  I'm curious to hear what the expert say about my feet and the right shoe for me.  Hoping the have some good answers!

Race Report - Army/Navy 10k

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The weather was b-e-a-utiful on Saturday for this run. The race began at 9 am and I comfortably wore shorts and a tank top. My goal for this race was to break my current PR of 46:00, to average under a 7:00/mile, and eventually to run under 40:00 minutes (long term goal). To accomplish this I was going to try to run a negative split. This means run the second half of the race faster than the first.

Chilling before the race begins.
Pre-race: These base sponsored runs are always so unorganized and low-key that it makes them have a strange feel. There were no t-shirts or swag or snacks or really anything. They didn't even have a start line. We literally just kinda grouped up by where the timer was and a guy blew a fog horn for us to begin. Oh well, just run!

Look at the really fancy registration table. These base sponsored runs are so podunk it's comical.
Mile 1-2: I started off with the lead group of men and we took off around a 6:20 pace. I knew this was faster than what I wanted to run (or could sustain), but I went ahead and let myself run fast for the first 800 meters. It felt great to run fast and in the back of my mind I thought "I could run this pace forever!" Lies. Fortunately I've run enough races to know that my brain will try to trick me during the first few minutes of a race. After the first 800 meters I began to pull back some and settle in. This was hard to do. Especially since I had taken a few days off from running to rest up my legs. My legs wanted to run fast. They had plenty of stored glycogen and it felt good to use them. My goal was to run about 5-10 seconds slower than my goal pace here. Mile one: 6:45, Mile two: 7:02

I don't know what I'm doing in this photo. I think we were just about to start.
Mile 3-4: My goal here was to run a bit faster than the first two miles, right at my goal pace. The course was full of small rolling hills, nothing crazy but just enough to keep it interesting. Going up hills I let myself slow a bit and going down I went faster. My strategy on hills is 'equal effort' not 'equal speed'. Around mile 4 I found myself mostly alone. The really fast men were pretty far ahead and there were only a few people near me. I was running slightly behind the lead female and around mile 4 she started to fade a bit. I charged ahead of her and put up a pretty fast mile.  Mile three: 7:07, Mile four: 6:46



Mile 5-6: After passing the lead female I felt a cramp/side stitch coming on. I think I was paying for the fast pace and the surge. I forced myself to relax (is that possible?) and I changed up my breathing. The cramp never came on fully and I was able to continue on without slowing much. I passed one more male who was fading at mile 5.5 and then I was truly alone. The closest person was about 30 seconds ahead of me. The last half a mile was painful. I was definitely hitting some sort of wall.  I kept looking at my GPS watch thinking "am I even moving?" and "will this mile ever end?" My brain told me that racing was stupid, to never do this again, and that running fast is not fun. I ignored my brain and told my legs to just keep moving. I crossed the finished line like a panting dog in 42:17 which is a new PR!  Mile five: 6:58, mile six: 6:53

The base has some historic lighthouses on it which made the run very scenic
Post-race: I placed 13th overall (not a big race though, maybe 150 people) and 4th in my age group. I also kept my heart rate at an average of 157 bpm. That is about 80% of my max which is surprisingly where experts say I should aim for a 10k race. I think that means that I was giving about my max effort for where my fitness level is right now.  I am very grateful to have met my goal of beating my PR and averaging under a 7/min mile pace. It was a fun race and a great experience for my first 10k. Now I just need to aim for a sub 40 minute 10k. That sounds really hard!


Week In Review

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015


This has been the week of beautiful weather! Maybe that's why this post is late, it's been so nice out I couldn't break away to post. The high has been in the 60's and 70's all week. The only downside has been the humidity.

I suppose this means that when winter finally hits it will be a shocker but I am going to enjoy the warmth while it's here. This wasn't a particularly high mileage week due to the race I ran on Saturday but I really enjoyed my runs. I also tried to give my legs a rest on Thursday and Friday so I would go into the race fresh and fast.

I've noticed my higher mileage and speed working paying off. Recently I've been aiming for 30-35 mpw. Previously I was doing about 20-25 mpw.  The number one thing I hear from more experienced runners is that more miles = speed. They say that simply upping your weekly mileage will have more impact on your speed than anything else. So far, it's been true for me. I feel like I can run faster without as much effort.

Monday - 7 miles at 7:29 pace
Tuesday - 3 x 1 mile repeats at 5:30, 5:56, 7:19, weights/shoulder and pull-ups
Wednesday - 5 miles at 8:18 pace
Thursday - Weights/Chest
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Army/Navy 10k race (race report incoming soon!)
Sunday - 7 miles at 8:11 pace

Total miles: 28.24

Up next: Surf 'N Santa 5 miler on December 19th.


10k Race Strategy

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Friday, December 11, 2015


I'm running my first 10k race tomorrow morning. It's the Army/Navy 10k which is a friendly competition between the two services. I'm a bit intimidated by this race distance. It's short enough that to do well I must run really fast. But it's also long enough that the pain will be real and not over quickly.
I can't draw. But maybe I will start adding stick figures to my posts. Could be fun. Apparently I draw angry stick-men with uni-brows.

Embarrassingly my current 10k record was set two days after completing the Harbor Lights Half Marathon. I ran a 46:00 10k on a recovery run. Truth be told I was still a bit miffed about my side stich during the race and I took out my frustration on the run.

Because I basically know nothing about how to run a good 10k race I turned to Google for answers.

"Google! How I run fast race"?
 I found one study that concluded "that high and low performance runners adopt different pacing strategies during a 10 km race". Or you could say it like this, "fast people run fast and slow people run slow". And they actually get paid to do this research.



Fortunately I found some other tips that were helpful and I plan to use them tomorrow for my race.
  • The first tip is to run a negative split. That means run the second half of the race faster than the first. Every world record from the 1500 meters to the Marathon has been set with a negative split. Can't argue with success.
  • For the first two miles run 5-10 seconds slower than your goal pace. The idea here is to not burn out early and to save enough for a fast ending. This is actually really hard to do with nerves, adrenaline, and a thousand young gazelles sprinting past you in the first 800 meters.
  • For miles 2-5 increase your pace to your goal pace. This is the tough part. You have to just dig deep and maintain the pain. It will take more effort the longer you run to maintain the same pace. Anticipate this and you've won half the battle.
  • The last mile push it out. Start to catch people in front of you. Pass with authority as well so they don't try to latch on to you. Hang on to the end and then bask in eternal glory of setting a new PR!
My goals for this race are pretty simple:
A) Beat my current 10k PR of 46:00
B) Average under a 7:00/min pace
C) Run under 40 minutes (long-term goal)

Hopefully I don't look this angry when I cross the finish line.

If you've run a 10k before, what worked for you? What are you "go-to" race tips? Can you draw stick figures?



The Side Stitch

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

We have sequenced the entire human genome. Scientists have all but eliminated Small Pox from the face of the earth. We've even landed a spacecraft on the surface of a comet using rockets, harpoons, and math. But no one really know what causes a side stich when running. Surprised? Yeah, me too. Scientists don't really know what they are, what causes them, or how to fix them. There's plenty of bro science out there giving you tips on how to avoid them but there's no real scientific evidence for their origin. The only thing scientists agree on is what to call side stiches. The official name is "exercise-related transient abdominal pain", because "side stitch" was just too simple.


So what exactly causes a side stitch? There are several main theories. One is that the ligaments under your diaphragm are being stretched. Another theory says it is caused by friction on the peritoneal tissue which is just behind your abdominal muscles. And perhaps the most popular theory is that your diaphragm is spazzing out due to a shortage of blood supply and oxygen when exercising. I don't really care all that much about what causes them. I just know they hurt and I want to avoid them like a Justin Bieber concert.

I've had a side stitch in the last two half marathons I ran. Both times it significantly affected my pace  for a few miles. If you've never had one let me explain what it feels like. On the right side of your abdomen, just below your rib cage you will start to feel pain. The pain comes on slow then develops into a raging furnace of torture. It feels like someone is taking a spoon and scrapping the inside of your rib cage. Not fun. So you want to PR? "No", says Mr. Side Stitch. You want to run fast? "Not today", he retorts.

Common causes guesses of where the side stitch comes from include:
  • Eating or drinking before or during a workout
  • Going too fast
  • Not warming up
  • Breathing too hard
  • Having weak core muscles
  • An imbalance of electrolytes

My last side stitch happened after drinking water at mile 5 of a half marathon. In fact, 50% of side stitches occur after drinking fluid. The pain was severe and it literally made me walk for a few seconds. My pace for the next three miles was over a minute less than normal and I only managed that with considerable pain. There is one sure way to stop side stitch pain; stop running. But that's not really practical in a race.

Some Bro Science ways to avoid and prevent a side stitch include:
  • Stop running (yeah, right)
  • Stretching
  • Control your breathing
  • Slow your pace if you can't stop running
  • Be careful what you eat before a race
  • Make sure you have enough electrolytes before a race
This is my 'post' side stitch face. I had just recovered from a side stitch and was trying to get back on pace.

Now that I've had two side stitches in two consecutive half marathons I'll offer my advice for how to deal with them during a race:
  • Don't drink anything unless you have to.
  • If you have to drink, don't water-board yourself. Stop, take a few controlled sips and swallow before you start running again. Losing 15 seconds for a drink is better than losing 5-10 minutes for a side stitch.
  • It hurts, but it's not causing you injury. You can run through the pain but it's best to stop and stretch and try to relax for 30 seconds.
  • If you are in a race and it doesn't seem to go away after you've tried stretching, run through it. Your pace may be hampered but the pain won't last forever. The side stitch will eventually release after a few miles (or at the finish line). At least that's what you have to keep telling yourself.
  • Concentrate on relaxing and take controlled breaths.
  • Think about something other than the feeling of being prodded with a butter knife on the inside of your ribs.
  • If you feel one coming on but it's not fully arrived yet slow down your pace. This could help prevent a full blown episode.

I hope you never experience the side stitch. They are painful and frustrating especially on race day.  If you've had one, how did you deal with it? What worked/works for you? Have you ever just 'powered through' one?


Week in Review

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Monday, December 7, 2015

I've been fighting a cold since the week of Thanksgiving. I've been able to run through it, but my nose has been producing a steady stream of snot rockets to shoot out while running. Yeah, it's gross. I also got the flu mist which gave me even more cold symptoms for a few days.


I love this spot on my run route. The trees are so pretty and it's very peaceful.
This week my muscles started to cry out to me, "use me! use me!". There simply isn't enough time in my week to lift weights as much as I want AND run as much as I want. The struggle is real. Maybe after the 5 miler I am running on December 19th I will switch back to more weights. I think my pull-up bar misses me.



I bought this shirt this week and I love it. It's not too tight around the neck, and it's perfect for the 45-55 degree runs.

Monday - 3.5 miles at 7:22 pace
Tuesday - 3 x 1 mile repeats, 5:42, 5:57, 6:34
Wednesday - 7 miles at 8:19 pace
Thursday - 5 miles at 7:50 pace
Friday - 7 miles at 8:09 pace
Saturday - 4 miles at 8:01 pace
Sunday - Rest

Total miles: 29.5

Up next: Army/Navy 10k race on Saturday, Surf 'n' Santa 5 miler on December 19th.

79 Pounds of Fat

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Last week I hit 2000 miles tracked through Nike+ since I started in May, 2011. Since then I have logged 537 runs, burned 275,357 calories, which is the same as 79 pounds of fat, and run three half marathons.

Me before I started running

Me now. I'm cooking tandoori lamb with naan.

Since I started running I have dropped 55lbs. That means running has allowed me to eat 84,000 extra calories without gaining weight (24 x 3500 = 84,000)! That's like being able to eat 636 brownies, or drink 545 beers, or eat 893 tablespoons of peanut butter! But this isn't a "yea me!" post, this is a "look in the rearview mirror" post. 

This 55 lbs bag of dog food from Costco used to be on my body...well not exactly but you get the idea.


My average speed from my first run to my 537th.

There is nothing inherently profound about 2000 miles. In fact, it's not really that many miles compared to 'real' runners or people who log large volumes of miles per month. In fact 2000 miles in four years really isn't anything to brag about.  To put it in perspective I've run 1004 miles this year alone. So while I'm not a 'fount' of running experience I have learned a few things along the way that are worth sharing:

  • I've never finished a run and regretted it. Even if I have a cold or am really tired or the weather stinks.
  • The more miles I run the faster I can run.
  • Every run takes effort, I just learned to like the effort.
  • What I eat (and how much) has made a bigger difference for my weight than running.
  • Getting new running clothes and gear is fun. 
  • Having a partner is a HUGE advantage. I never would have started running and eating right without mine. 
  • No one wants to hear about my running or eating. If they care they'll ask. It's best to not be 'evangelical' about it.
  • People just assume I am 'naturally' fit and I don't have to work at it. While this is annoying, I've learned it's best to just let it go and not say anything.

I've been able to run in a lot of places. There are others not shown on the map around the world, including many treadmills on ships.
I'm very thankful to be healthy and injury free. I'm grateful I have a supportive wife and kids. And I'm excited to see what the next 2000 miles has in store. Hopefully it won't take me another four years!


My biggest petpeeve about fitness blogs...

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

is being pretentious.


Right now, I could boast about how the only processed food in our pantry is a box of Kashi cereal and I could rave about how I ran my first 7:40 mile yesterday. Both are true, but here's how I feel when people tell me their favorite snack is half an avocado with a little salt and pepper sprinkled on top:



I know, I know.  It's my pride.  My pride skyrockets when people try to preach to me about fitness.  My heart is saying, "Who do they think they are?!  Don' they know who I am?!  I'll show you half an avocado!  I'll rock some guacamole and top it with a skinny margarita!"  But the truth is, I wouldn't be in this healthy state right now if I hadn't been teachable at one point about how to eat healthy and how to keep pushing my exercising.

So how do you do that?
How can we create a fitness community that can encourage one another?
How can we learn from one another without being pretentious?

I'd love to find it. I'd love to create that space where we come together to "spur one another on", where we meet unmasked and unguarded and I pray that it can happen here.

The Search for Significance

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

If you follow other running websites or blogs you may have heard about Mike Rossi. He's a 47 year old father of two from Rydal, Pennsylvania. He is being accused of cheating in order to quality for the Boston Marathon. His integrity came into question after he ran the Boston Marathon this past spring with a time of 4:01. He qualified for Boston by running a 3:11:45 at the Lehigh Valley marathon. Even with the time difference between Boston and his qualifying marathon no one thought twice about Rossi....until he became an overnight headline.

For the Boston marathon he took his kids out of school for five days and made the event a family trip. He then got a letter from the School Principal saying that a family vacation is not an excused absence for his kids.  Rossi responded in a Facebook post that during the trip his kids "learned as much in the five days we were in Boston as they would in an entire year in school," and that "our children had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that can't be duplicated in a classroom or read in a book." His response went viral.

With fame came scrutiny. People then started to look at his race history and it didn't add up. Rossi qualified for Boston by running the Lehigh Valley marathon in 3:11:45. However, that finish time is incredibly fast (7:18/mile) compared to any of his previous performances. He also finished Boston 49 minutes slower than his qualifying marathon. I'm not going to spend my time going into the allegations but the evidence is overwhelming. You can read about the details and make up your own mind. The short version of the allegations is that he jumped off the Lehigh Valley marathon course, hopped in his car, drove several miles down course and rejoined at a later point. The Lehigh Valley marathon is often done as part of a relay so it is common for people to walk off the course after a segment. The chances he was able to run a 3:11 marathon, experts say, is about 1 in 175,000,000. In fact, the folks at LetsRun.com are so confident he cheated that they will pay Mike Rossi $100,000 if he can run another 3:11 marathon within the next 12 months. Rossi won't share any photos, GPS data, or training runs to try and prove he actually ran the race. He has denied the allegations but is not willing to try and prove them false.

The point of this post is not to continue the witch hunt or to heap more blame on the man. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. And the running community is pretty pissed about it. I think the bigger question is "Why would someone do that?" What would motivate someone, who is not competing for anything other than a finisher's medal, to cheat on a marathon in order to quality for Boston?


Rossi crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon
What would someone gain from doing this? Cheating during a race is equivalent to stealing (commandment #8)  And while stealing is the action, the root of the issue is one of significance and value. All of our actions are based on a motivation that comes from our heart. Most cheaters in races are not hoping to win first place, they are hoping to be significant and to be valued by others. Boston is prestigious. Boston is difficult to qualify for. The heart issue behind a theft like this is wanting to be viewed as significant by others. Maybe it's wanting your kids to look up to you, wanting Facebook friends to think you're the best thing since sliced bread, and maybe it's as simple as just wanting to like yourself. It's easy to see how someone could think that qualifying and running Boston would bring them significance and value. The sin of stealing promises to give a heart that longs to be something special what it wants. Unfortunately that sin, like all sin, deceives. Instead of significance and acclaim it brings shame and infamy; the exact opposite of what the heart wanted.

"Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially 'deify.' We will look to it with all the passion and intensity of worship and devotion, even if we think ourselves as highly irreligious."  ~Tim Keller


Mostly this is just a sad story. I'm sad for him. I'm sad for his kids and for his family. I'm also sad because my heart is so similar. Before we think too highly of ourselves and turn our noses up at Mike Rossi we should remember that we are really not that different. Though we may have our actions (stealing) mostly under control, our hearts are the same. It's not that we just long to do something special and significant, we long to be something special and significant. And we'll look just about anywhere and do just about anything to fulfill that need. We I often long for significance and value in things that will not deliver. If we look for our value and significance in the momentary glory of physical fitness, health, and earthly accomplishment we will be disappointed. But if we look to Christ and remember that we are valuable to HIM and we are significant to HIM, then we will have real lasting joy and contentment.

So here is your reminder for your fitness journey: you are valued and significant because of Jesus not because of what others think of you, how fast you can run, or what medals you can accumulate.

In Christ you are:
Beloved - Jeremiah 31:3
Delighted In - Zephaniah 3:17
Free - Galatians 5:1
New - 2 Corinthians 5:17
Secure - John 10:27-30
Whole - Colossians 2:10