A Year of Running

No one that knows me was surprised I started running the moment I could after my accident broke my knee (among other things).

I nailed my  ortho doctor down in May (four months after the accident) on when he thought I could start running. After rebuilding my knee, he wasn’t keen on my ruining it again.  And, based on the amount of cushion I had left, he wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. But after some pushing, he suggested August first as a possibility he could live with

So of course I got on the treadmill August 1st and proceeded to run…..for 2 minutes at a very slow pace, holding on to the treadmill bars.

But it was running!

I didn’t run outside for quite a while, I think it was the end of September before I ventured out. Even so, most of my running that fall was done on the treadmill.  And throughout the winter, naturally, I was in on the treadmill.

I started running outside as soon as possible in the spring. I remembered how very much I hated hills (also that I was surrounded by hills). And how very wonderful it was when I managed to conquer them.

These were the numbers for my first August. And only an hour and twenty-eight minutes were actually spent running. A lot of them were walking the dog 🙂

Last month stats

The numbers for August, a year later.  Still a good bit of walking the dog–she is a demanding little girl. But six and a half hours and thirty  miles of those numbers were running. The bulk of them were run outside, with only two days on the treadmill (must have been raining!).

I also hit one of my major goals that month, running the Rail Trail between Gardiner and Augusta; a distance of 6.5 miles. I felt wonderful.

I’m back on the treadmill now, with extreme cold outside. It is currently, at 9AM, -17 degrees here. Although there was a road race in Bangor–oh my, they are even further north–yesterday, I am just not that brave. But I am already looking forward to getting back out there in the spring!



I have a bunch of running goals I want to accomplish, hopefully before snow sets in this winter. Today I conquered a big one.

Milepost 1

I ran 6.5 miles on the Rail Trail from Gardiner to Augusta today. It was awesome!

I decided I wasn’t worried about time, I just wanted to make it from end to end. I haven’t run this trail (in its entirety) since the summer before my accident. And only the once.

So my stomach was a mass of butterflies as I drove to Gardiner today.

The longest I had run this summer was 5 miles, and that was a month ago. I was truly intimidated by the length of run. The plan was to meet a friend at the other end, then have coffee and shopping before she took me back to my car.  I knew that she would have picked me up anywhere along the route if it had been needed. So that wasn’t the issue, I was just concerned that it might be necessary. I had already decided that if I needed to walk, I would. That took some pressure off too. But of course I didn’t want to walk. Not to get too philosophical, but I decided the only thing I could do was take a deep breath and run one step at time.

So I went to the start of the trail, took that breath and stretched, then took that first step.

I definitely wasn’t going too fast to start, as I was worried about lasting all the miles. But I worked on getting a nice, consistent pace and kept taking those deep breaths. By the time I finished the first mile, I had relaxed into a rhythm. The nice thing about the Rail Trail is that it is a rolling path, with up and down grades instead of huge hills. And the only two big hills are coming the other way (I’ll be doing that next), going the way I was this morning meant I got to go down those hills. Gotta stack the deck anyway you can 😛

By the time I finished mile 3 I realized I could do this, and by the time I finished mile 4 I felt pretty dang good.  That feeling continued when I finished and looked at my splits.

The last longish run I did was 3.3 miles, and each one of those miles was 11+. Because of that, I have been doing drills and speed workouts on the treadmill. Apparently that helped, as based on my perceived effort, I thought I was doing 11 minute miles. Turns out that I was doing consistent 10:30 minutes, and mile 4 was actually  sub 10 minute.

Today’s total run was 6.5 miles in 68 minutes

I am very happy with that.  And ecstatic about how very good I felt doing it.  My knee did ache a bit during, but not badly enough that I felt I ought to stop, and it didn’t hurt at all once I finished, even though my friend and I went shopping so that I spent the following hours running around stores. It was a little stiff after I came home and sat for a while. I guess we will see how I feel tomorrow!


A friend shared this with me, and I thought it worth a share here. Because, yeah, who runs a marathon and keeps it a secret?

Normally there are two kinds of runners. One is the serious, dedicated runner. Most of their friends know they run, because they put off things because they have to go for a run. Or they go out to eat with friends, but pick out things that correspond with their training. The other is the “hey, I’m a runner!!” Everyone knows they run because they share everything with everybody. No tweet or Facebook post goes by without their sneaking in a mention of how far/how fast they went or why they can’t eat that cool recipe.

I like to think I am a middle ground, myself. I do have this blog (which I consider motivation), but many people I meet don’t know I run. Or ride horses. Or am a bit of an exercise fanatic. But my close circle certainly knows, and they know when I have a race coming up because I am so very excited about it.

Not telling anyone? I don’t think I am capable of that!

https://www.facebook.com/AboveAverageProductions/videos/1078488708842056/ Continue reading


I have written before about how much I enjoy American Ninja Warrior and the fact that I find the athletes inspiring. I found two more athletes that are, I think, even more impressive the ones the attack the Ninja obstacle. What do they do? They run. And run. And run. Sounds simple, right?


While the obstacle course tests agility, strength and will (something I still love and find inspiring), these guys are running Endurance Runs all over the world.  These are multi-day races that can be over a hundred miles.

The races are captured in a series following the runners, Paul Turbo’ Trebilcock and Simon Donato.  The series airs on Esquire, although I yet to see a current episode. I found it wandering through the channels in the morning hoping for something to watch.

The first race I watched was in Cambodia, following an ancient path called Khmer.  At 142m, it was run in six stages. One runner, a young woman, had to be airlifted out after she went into  shock overnight. She had ‘overrun’,  far exceeding her body’s ability and not replacing her electrolytes. She had in fact drank a good deal of water, but it didn’t have the electrolytes her body needed.  A good lesson for all of us, no matter how far or often we exercise!

what a gorgeous place to run

Endurance running, usually of fifty miles or more, have become very popular. But Simon and Paul are tackling the eight most difficult in the world. One was across the Sahara desert, which had incredible vistas. It was incredible how small these humans looked trekking across the desert.

 155m of heat and sand…and beauty  

One  of the things I love about this series is the attitude of the runners. They are all willing to help each other, it is more about the effort and companionship than being the first to cross the finish line–although they all want that too, of course! But good sportsmanship is the rule of the race.  And strength  of will the top most need.

“…it’s not the physical side I’m worried about, it’s about controlling your fears, because  we are all afraid of things, and tackling these challenges give me a sense of accomplishment, not necessarily for getting to the top, but for actually getting on the wall and controlling the fears….”
                                        Simon Donato

                                                                              Turbo and Paul

 In these eight races, they do a bit more than run. Some are bike races, and some are kayaking. But the majority are run, and run over extremely impressive terrain and distance. The two that stand out to me were the Scotland and Mongolian races.

In Scotland the race was twenty-four of the highest mountain peaks in twenty-four hours. The views were breathtaking, but the trails were back-breaking. It was one of the harder races they tackled.

The Mongolian race was a Sunrise to Sunset, racing 100km around the mountain in the length of time it took the sun to ride the sky.

  dawn painting the sky as the runners start

Check out Paul and Simon’s travels for yourself on the Esquire channel,  or at Esquire.com.  Between the personalities and the views, this show is fun to watch even if you don’t plan on running a step.



Those of you who have been following along will know I just don’t like running on a treadmill.  Part of my joy of running is being outside. The wind, the sun, even the occasional rain drop. Just letting go of the rest of the world as my feet slap the pavement.  A treadmill just doesn’t compare.

But I missed a lot of running last winter, so I decided I better suck it up and run on the thing.  First I tried in front of the tv. That didn’t work. I barely made it ten minutes, and twenty was torture! What could I do if even having the tv to distract me was unbearable?

Then I had an epiphany.  I decided to just get on it and run in the library, which is where it had been stored. Instead of setting a time, I decided to run for four songs. And I hid the console under a towel (useful for that sweat) so I couldn’t watch the minutes creep by.

And it worked! I ran for the four songs, which equaled just about 21 minutes, and walked out for one more. I ran like I do on the road, letting my mind wander. I worked on my form, keeping my core strong and light.

Still not as good as running outside, but definitely doable. I think I will be in much better shape this spring 🙂

Running like a Spartan

1. [spahr-tan-ik]  of or relating to Sparta or its people.
2.suggestive of the ancient Spartans; sternly disciplined and rigorouslysimple, frugal, or austere.
3.brave; undaunted.

4.a native or inhabitant of Sparta.
5.a person of Spartan characteristics.*

Most of us know the story of the Spartans, fierce warriors renowned through the world for their prowess, minimalistic life style and stern determination.  How would one run like a Spartan?

Through mud and over every obstacle they throw at you, of course.

 The Spartan Runs are sweeping through the world, gathering athletes of all stages as they go.  Spartan runs are wonderful because anyone can attempt the race. While there are many elite runners who are looking to reach the World Championships, any runner can stumble into the “sprint” and pit their determination and will against the obstacles. The events have also have a great community feel. Encouragement of your fellow Spartan is key.

How do the Spartan founders describe themselves?

Born in the gritty green mountains of Vermont by Joe DeSena, world-class adventure racer, Spartan is a frame of mind.
Gritty. Resilient. Passionate. Spartans aren’t soft. Spartans overcome obstacles. And yes, Spartans burpee.
Spartan is a sport, community, a philosophy, a training and nutrition program – with daily advice, a podcast, a book, an activity for kids, workout gear, a media channel, an NBC Sports series, a digital magazine, and a timed obstacle race.
We offer three core races each escalating in distance, obstacle count and challenge level. The Spartan Sprint (3+ miles/20+ obstacles), the Spartan Super (8+ miles/ 25+ obstacles) and SpartanBeast (13+ miles/ 30+ obstacles). Courses are riddled with signature obstacles: mud, barbed wire, walls, rope and fire. Challenge yourself to complete all three and become part of the TRIFECTA tribe.
We also offer a kids race (½ – 1 mile), Special Spartans (for racers with intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities), and for those who looking to push themselves even further, the Hurricane Heat (bootcamp-style challenge) and the Ultra Beast (26+ miles, 60+ obstacles).**

I am fortunate that I know some Spartans, and was able to get the inside take on the races. I have mentioned before that my brother and Isaac, his oldest son, ran a Spartan.  My brother ran another sprint this year, teaming with a cousin in law. And to keep it all in the family, my youngest nephew, who is 12, ran the children’s sprint that morning. Considering how much I enjoyed my Urban Raid, I may need to get involved in this family event.

Isaac, however, ran 5 Spartans this summer! I asked him what he liked, what he didn’t like and what exactly he had accomplished this summer. Isaac said he “loves the people, the atmosphere, and likes the competition. The courses are always well done.”  He ran 3 sprints (3.2-5m), 1 super (7-11m), and 1 beast (13-15m). Preparing for these events involved Isaac pushing the family cars back and forth in the driveway, and buckets of rocks carried up hills. Truly a Spartan effort.

The fierce young man on the right with red hair is Isaac

His last race was the Beast in Killington, Vt. It was 13 miles long (that’s a half marathon!!) and had 35 obstacles to clamber over, under and through.

I am so absolutely  proud to say that out of 250 competitors, Isaac came in 17th!

Isaac said that there was nothing about the experience that he disliked. The barbed wire crawls were the most draining obstacles, with the rope climb and Hercules hoist following close behind. The Killington (the Beast) was the most challenging course.

“The hardest obstacle was the spear throw. It was on top of Killington, and it was impossible to stick it in the constant wind.”Which meant, as Isaac ran with the elite, 30 burpees:

Isaac had a good run, only 90 burpees in all 🙂

The Spartan Code:
A Spartan pushes his/her mind and body to the limit
A Spartan masters his/her emotions
A Spartan learns continuously
A Spartan gives generously
A Spartan leads
A Spartan stands up for his/her beliefs, no matter the cost
A Spartan knows his/her flaws as well as his/her strengths
A Spartan proves himself/herself through actions, not words
A Spartan lives every day as if it were his/her last

The Conquering Heroes

Throwback Thursday

In light of my busy schedule, I decided to go with a throwback post today. This is the post I wrote for my first race last September:

Today’s Plan: 5K Race

Finally, my first race day was here. Outta bed at 6, had my first cup of coffee and a shower. We got there shortly after 7 and registered. The parking highly amused my husband (a onetime fireman) when we were told to park at the fire station. Apparently there is a well trod path between the fire station and the brewery.

The race was in the same town that we boated to yesterday, as it was all a part of Harbor Fest.  I work in the town, and yesterday I saw quite a few people I know. I was amazed that today I knew no one except the owner of the brewery when I registered. Apparently, my clients are not runners! And yes, it started and ended at a small craft brewery: much to the enjoyment of my husband. After wandering aimlessly, and making friends in line for the bathrooms, it was finally time. A half marathon was also slated for the day, and they got sent off first. Then, we lined up. Next to me were two outgoing ladies who kept me entertained as we waited for the gun. In front of me was a dad with 2 kids, a girl and a boy. They started in front of me and finished in front of me. Can’t beat youth. But I can beat my best time. My first mile was 9:05, and then entire run was 29:18. The entertaining ladies were behind me on the run out and kept me moving to stay in front. After the turnaround, they caught me and we ran together, encouraging each other. They managed the last hill better than me and finished just ahead of me. It was a fabulous race. Cresting the first hill and seeing the rainbow of tshirts stretched out in front was invigorating. Hitting the turnaround was cause for thanks, and climbing the last hill was, well, painful but over quickly and then the race was finished. I saw the young girl after and asked if she beat her brother. She hadn’t, but she did beat dad.

Things I learned from my first race: I went out too fast, I couldn’t find my pace tempo that I’d been practicing because I was going to fast for it. Not knowing the course ahead of time means uncertainty in pacing: always ask where the turnaround is (not where I had thought) and where the finish line is (it’s not always the starting line!). Runners are a gregarious bunch willing to share experiences and always cheer each other on. I can’t wait to do it again.


Oh Dear

it’s almost here! 5km with 16 obstacles. What was I thinking?!

The Urban Raid is two days away and I might be a little nervous. I got my email with the course:

Oh my. Tractor Flip? Do I have to flip a tractor? I mean, it looked easy in Cars. But I’m not a car! Marine Hurdles? I am soooo not a Marine. About the easiest thing I can see is the run up Munjoy hill.

Ok, it’s not that bad. Tractor flips are really just flipping a tractor wheel.  I got that. Marine Hurdles?

  Not so sure I got this, I am only 5′ nothing tall. But maybe with momentum?

Cargo net crawl? I think my lack of height will be helping here! 

Cargo net climb: Bring it on!

 Cone  bars? Well, let’s hope my klutziness doesn’t kick in. Ditto with the tire fields.

Sand Bag–that’s just like a feed bag, right? Of course, I don’t usually lug them up hills and back  

And the deal is for every obstacle you can’t finish, you must do 10 burpees: 

I foresee a lot of burpees in my future  😉

Terms of Addiction

they’re worse than the cats!

Addictions are bad, right? The very term indicates the inability to stop, the ever-increasing quest for the source of our dependence. It means we overdo whatever it is that we are doing, and that we can’t stop doing “it.”

My “it” is running. A running addiction? Is there such a thing? I have never thought I had a particularly addictive personality, at least not for the “normal” things. One glass of wine? Yup, I’m done. Drugs? Why on earth would I want to lose control of myself? How would that make my life better? Hmmm, seems like my OCD may have saved me there.

But books, those I am addicted to. My favorite authors, my favorite genres, I can’t put them down. I would read until 1 am to finish the book, then end up going into work groggy the next day (not that different from my hung over co-workers, I guess). And now running. At least I don’t run in the dark, so no grogginess there! Just the inability to move easily the day after a hard run.

What are the signs of a running addiction? These are my symptoms:
 I get jealous when I see other runners when I am working or driving
 I measure hills, wondering if I could conquer them
 I look at the scenery when I am driving with the thought, “this would make a great run”
 Reading what other runners are doing make me want to go out and do that too
I go through withdrawal when I am prevented from running by weather or happenstance
I plan my week around when I can run

Are you addicted to your sport? Are your symptoms the same as mine, or do you have others? And, really, do we care if we are addicted?

If we are 90 lb runners, made of sinew and bone, then yes, we need an intervention. And fast. But as I am at least 40 lbs away from that, I am not going to worry just yet. I am, of course, not the first person to delve into the idea of a running (or exercise) addiction.

In one article  the authors–Adam Goucher & Tim Catalano– compare the actual 7 signs addiction to how they feel about running. In it, Goucher & Catalano point out that when runners say we are “addicted,” we are not in any way making light of “real problems people addicted to substances or detrimental behaviors like gambling face.  Rather they are trying to communicate their passion for running and how much of their lives revolve around making sure they get their next fix.” Check out the article to see if you really do have the 7 signs of addiction.

And if you do, then check out this article to make sure your addiction is a positive one! Everything, even our exercise, can devolve if taken to excess. “The exercise addict has lost his balance: Exercise has become overvalued compared to elements widely recognized as giving meaning in a full life — work, friends, family, community involvement — in short, the fruits of our humanity.” Happily, although I do check off several of the addiction sign boxes, I still have a positive addiction 🙂

I still have days when I just don’t wanna!


healthy running

There has been a lot of buzz recently about whether jogging is or is not actually good for you.  I look at this research with a grain of salt. There always seems to be some research saying that this or that is not good for us…then the next month, it is good for us. Do milk or eggs ring a bell?

This was a long-term research project, and there are some interesting facts found in it.  The researchers, from the Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, found that running can be good for you, but not at speeds of 7 miles per hour and over. Running each week a few times at a moderate pace will improve your health and help you live longer. But overdoing it with high speeds won’t offer those same benefits.

It is important to emphasize that the pace of jogging corresponds to very vigorous exercise,” researcher Dr. Peter Schnohr said. “When performed for decades, this activity level could pose health risks, especially to the cardiovascular system:  if your goal is to decrease risk of death and improve life expectancy, jogging a few times a week at a moderate pace is a good strategy. Anything more is not just unnecessary, it may be harmful.”* 

Dr. Schnohr said there seems to to be an “upper limit for exercise dosing that is optimal for health benefits.”* So what does that mean to us? Well, for me personally, this is clearly not an issue yet. And unlikely to be. I may, at the outer limits of my goals, want to pursue a half-marathon. If I get over 30 miles a week, I would be very surprised. But some ultra-marathoners may be concerned. Both the speed and amount of jogging may be an issue for them. On the other hand, I know some older runners that have been running for years that are very healthy. I wonder if genetics of the people studied affected the results. It can be amazing that what is good for one person can be incredibly damaging to another.
The study has pointed out that light and moderate joggers do have lower death rates as compared to people who don’t jog at all. Dr. Schnohr,  who is the lead author of Dose of Jogging and Long-Term Mortality, said that excessive exercise for long period of time can be linked with diastolic dysfunction and coronary artery calcification. It can also stiffen the walls of large arteries. The study came to a conclusion that one to 1.4 hours jogging each week is best to reduce mortality but with no more than three days a week. Further, the study figured out that the people who jog between one hour and 2.4 hours in a week had 71% lower risk of dying as compared to the couch potatoes, who don’t exercise at all.Running for mere five to ten minutes provides several health benefits, revealed a new study. People usually believe that it is important to run long distances to stay fit. However, the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, has shown that running for even five to ten minutes significantly reduces the chances of heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Duck-chul Lee, of Iowa State University, the lead author of the study, said people who ran for less than an hour a week were found to have benefits similar to those of running for more than three hours a week. “Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises”, added Lee.**

So what I am hearing is those of you who are just starting out and running short distances are more likely to live longer! Oh, wait, there’s more:

About 25% of participants said that they ran each week to stay fit. Of them, greatest health benefits of running were sought by those who ran for more than six years, helping them to have 50% less chances of dying from cardiovascular disease.**

Ok, running isn’t bad in moderation? But there are limits to the benefits if you go overboard. But what is overboard?There are too many overlapping numbers in this report.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines  had recommended exercising moderately for 150 minutes or briskly for 75 minutes a week. But the new research has debunked that belief, showing that same benefits of running for longer time and intensity can be gained by running only 30 minutes a week as well.**

So, running is good. But not in excess. That pretty much describes everything, doesn’t it? Milk is good, but not two gallons a day. Pizza is ok, but not every day. Aspirin is good for your heart, but can thin your blood too much in excess. Common sense seems to be key here.

My mile speed doesn’t put me in the danger zone either. The report suggested that jogging should be done at a slow or average pace. This average pace was described as five miles per hour.**  That is actually about where I am right now. I am trying to improve my speed, but  I will going to be lucky to do 9 minute miles sometime in the near future.

I think, in the end, that this report doesn’t mean much to me.  If I want to run an ultra or a marathon, then I would take it into consideration. But there are benefits to running that this report doesn’t address. The mental benefits, for one thing. Running is my stress release–and I can’t be the only one who feels that. Running also makes me feel strong as I conquer new hills and distances. It improves my self-image. And it does help me lose weight, which is good for me. If I can run 5 times a week at a half hour or more, I will consider my time well spent 🙂