Friday, November 22, 2013

How Far is Too Far?

If you are on social media and into running you probably have seen posts about the 8 year old that ran a 100k in high heat; the post about the young life runner who finished a marathon; and the 12 year old that ran his 3rd 100 mile race. Stories like these are becoming more and more common and are stirring more and more controversy. Here are my thoughts…
While I agree that 100K in 100+ degree heat is way too much for just about anyone, especially a child, and I don't think most, if any kids really know their limits for just about anything, I just don't think running itself is bad for any child without any limiting medical history. How far is too far? I don’t think anyone really knows. In fact, as I am sitting here pondering my stance, I realized what a ridiculous first world problem this is. I am sure if we asked the people of a third world country their take, they would shake their heads and say they ran or at least walked pretty dang far to get food or water or at least that is what I imagine they would say. Run for exercise or run for existence.  The fact that our overly sedentary society has a problem with kids getting too much exercise is laughable, when clearly the majority of kids in America don’t get enough.
So where do I stand? I can’t say I would let me kids run a 100k at 8 years old, especially in that kind of heat, but then again, I can’t get them to run around the block. At the same time my older one has no problem playing flag football or basketball with the neighborhood kids for hours. If he wanted to run a 5k I would let him. When I was a kid I grew up out in the country and wandered around famer’s fields and woods all day long. I probably walked and ran miles every day and had no idea I did so. Kids need exercise and they need it to be fun and varied and often times disguised as play. Coming from a sport medicine background and seeing the research as it relates to overuse injuries in other adolescent athletes, kids need downtime from their sport of choice, whether it’s running, baseball or soccer. Most experts in the field would say a 6-8 week break in a training cycle is important for recovery. I know this doesn’t really answer the question and yes, I feel like a politician.
What I do think is, what freaks people out is, there are parents out there that are “pushing” their kids to compete and then gaining fame by blogging about their super kid. Are these those kids? I have no idea, but if they are then their parents can be lumped into the same group as stage moms or parents of kids who play other sports that push their kids to practice excessively, hoping to make it professionally some day at any cost. Historically speaking, walking or running is how people got around before there were cars. Walking and running are normal modes of transportation in other cultures; they just don’t do it for time, wearing a bib and Gramin, and post about it on social media. So I don’t think running is the bad guy here.
I do think that variety is key to developing a well rounded person, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and physically. To just run or just play soccer or just do beauty pageants at a young age is not ideal for any child’s development. I hope for the development of these kids they have other interests and running isn’t the only hobby they have.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Celebration!

Just warning you that this is not a running post, but it does have Ninja Turtles!
Today is my son's 4th birthday! Happy Birthday to one of the sweetest most awesome people to have ever touched my life! We celebrated last weekend with his buddies by throwing him a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party at our house. I think it went over well and all the kids had a great time. (At least I hope they did!) Here is a little recap of the festivities. I had some help from TMNT experts to make this as authentic as possible, as I still don't know which turtle is which!
My plan was to turn the kids into TMNT and let them fight the bad guys. Here is how we did it...
First we made toxic slime.
Then they were magically transformed into ninja turtles. They each got masks, belts, a turtle shell made out of TMNT plates they were selling at Target, and of course weapons.
 It's amazing what you can make out of duck tape!
nunchaku, bo, sai, and katana
Once they were transformed they had to defeat the field of bad guys. This was a big hit. I wish I wouldn't have accidentally let a handful of balloons fly off as I was tying them to rocks! Oops!
When they got past the bad guys, they got to work on the piñata! Too bad Patrick opened it on the first pull. :/ Instead of letting it go there, I let each of the kids take turns beating the piñata with their ninja weapons. They were loving it!
After they tired themselves out we served what else, but pizza and sewer sludge! YUM!
sewer sludge

What party wouldn't be complete without cake and ice cream? A friend of a friend made this awesome cake for us. It was almost to good to eat, almost.
I really hope my little man and all his friends had a great time. As much work as it was to get this together it was so worth it to see smiles on all their faces.
Happy Birthday Patrick!! You are the best TMNT I know :) Love you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wicked 10K

The Wicked is brought to you by  J & A Racing, the same folks that put on the Shamrock Marathon weekend. It's a great race and always good for some laughs. People are so creative and talented when coming up with some of the costumes we saw. I however, am not.

I know I look like I crashed a Wonder Woman convention. I can assure you that that wasn't the case. This years Wicked had me strapped for time and creativity as to what costume to wear.  I was going to recycle my Bat Girl costume from last year, but I thought it might be too cold for it. So, I went with the lame skull shirt you see glaring at you.  
What wasn't lame was how well I ran. I haven't run that well or felt that good in a long time. This past year had me fighting runners brain during most of my races. "Why do I do this to myself?" "How much further?" "Maybe I should walk for a bit?" Not this time. I was mentally in it. I gave myself one goal and that was to have a negative split.

My training had fallen off after The Colonial, but I felt good and not strained, so I kept a 7:55 pace that first mile. Mile 2 was 7:58. I was waiting for my mind to step in and sabotage a great race, but what got me was a damn cramp! I took water at about mile 2 and as soon as we made the turn onto the boardwalk I felt it, a sharp stab in my side. I dealt with that during miles 3 and most of mile 4. It didn't slow me down too much, but enough to keep me from a sub 50 min 10k. Mile 3 was 8:13 and 4 was 8:23. Mile 5 I was settling back into a quicker pace at 8:08 and mile 6 had me back at  sub 8 mm at 7:58. The last .2 miles was 7:28. I thought I was going to puke! I hadn't pushed it like that in a long time.  I was so pumped. I am still so happy that I actually raced again and didn't let my head screw things up!
I am so so happy with my time! I know I didn't technically achieve my goal of a negative split, but I ran faster and much stronger than I had expected and I can't be mad at that.

This was also race 13 for the year. I had set out to do 13 in 2013 and I did it. All but four races were virtual and depending on who you ask, I met my goal. I am contemplating getting in 4 more 5k's before the clock strikes 2014 to make up for the virtuals. Running 13 races was a challenge for my tight schedule, even if they weren't all "real", so we will see about 4 more!

Anyone else doing 13 in 13? Were they all "real" races? Have you met or exceeded your goal?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Colonial 200 2013

Yes, I know this race was well over a month ago (seems longer), but well, life has been busy! That and I really didn't know how to sum up my weekend of running. I still really don't, but here goes nothing...

Colonial 200 Relay
September 20-21
207 miles from Charlottesville to Williamsburg, Virginia
The beginning...
0600 gun time.
Van 1 started bright and early. I could have stayed asleep, but I had to make it out and see what I was in for later in the day. I had no idea what to expect. It was dark and quiet, except for the energy of the runners. My van, van #2 wouldn't start our legs until around 10 am.
Leg 1: Fresh and ready to concur the mountain.

My first leg was 5.76 miles and 456 ft of elevation gain in the first 2 miles. The rest was down hill and downhill I went. Fast. The scenery was fantastic and I got my first and only "kill" of the weekend. I ended up averaging a 9 minute mile.
My Kill
This was a weekend of firsts!
  • It was the first time my training had me running twice a day.
  • It was the first time I ran a relay.
  • It was the first time I slept in a tent. (I know. Hanging head in shame. For as much as I love the outdoors, I have never slept outside.)
  • It was the first time I slept in a tent next to a graveyard. (I was so tired I could have cared less.)

The view from our tent.

  • It was the first time I brushed my teeth with bottled water in a soy bean field.
  • It was the first time I used nothing but porta-potties for 2 days.
  • It was the first time I ran 18 almost 19 miles in less than 24 hours.
  • It was the first time I ran through rural VA in the pitch black holding a can of OC spray praying to God that the bears wouldn't get me!
Leg #2: So glad this is blurry. You can't see the terror on my face!
Oh leg 2. The one leg I was most excited about. I really wasn't scared about running through bear infested back roads  in the dark until I started running. For some dumb reason I thought this itty bitty headlamp would be enough to light my way. Um no. I started to double guess myself and kept thinking I missed my turn. So I chickened out and called my van for backup. Two miles later here come my hero's with a flash light and a buddy to run with me. Thanks AJ! Numerous stops for map checks and phone calls put me at an 8:25 pace for 4.91 miles.
I also learned some things...
  • Wet wipes are for more than just wiping baby bottoms.
  • I can get sick of peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
  • A 6inch sub for dinner is not enough food while running that many miles.
  • A "kill" in relay terms is when you pass another runner. I think I only had one kill, but I'm pretty proud that it was on "The Mountain." 
  • My body actually doesn't mind running two days in a row. I had myself believing that I couldn't' recover quickly enough to have a decent second run. I was wrong.

Leg #3: 8.34 miles on a scenic path that winds through Charles City.
I am not going to lie. I was dying during my third leg. My legs were so sore from:
A. 3 miles of down hills I ran in my first leg 
B. My midnight sprint through the woods 
C. all of the above
The first few miles were ok, but 6 and 7 were torture. I stopped at some point to gather myself. And by gather myself I mean stretch my quads. I ended up averaging a 9:30 pace for those 8 miles. Not bad considering every step was painful. 
Our last runner crossed the finish line 32 hours, 14 minutes and 13 seconds after the clock started the day before. I was so proud of everyone and so grateful to have been able to run this and with such a great group of people.
The Lawless and The Braless


King of the Mountain
Proudest moment: I earned the title King of the Mountain for concurring leg # 8 Preddy's Creek. It was the most elevation of any of the 36 legs. When I rounded the corner and was coming into the exchange zone both vans of my teammates were there to cheer me on and crown me King of the Mountain. It was awesome.
I had such a great experience. I would absolutely do another relay and with these same people. Our team captains did an amazing job organizing everything. Thanks so much for letting me be part of it!
Our overall results were 17th out of 26 teams and 11th out of 18 for the mixed teams.

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