Sunday, January 25, 2009

Common Marathon Questions...

There are several things I hear a lot of when I've told people I run marathons. Such things as "I could never do that." "Are you crazy??" "Really?" "Do you just start out running 10-26 miles???"

"Are you (me) crazy??" So let me first start by saying I'm not crazy. My sheer recognition of this fact tells me I am self aware enough to realize that, perhaps to people's disappointment (sarcasm noted) I feel I am quite sane. My running distance actually helps keep me balanced in a way I've never had before. Maybe it's the endorphins, or just the fact I can drink Gatorade and not feel bad about it. Whatever it is, however I feel quite sane just doing something...different with my spare time.

You hear a lot of people say "I could never do that," my common answer is "Have you tried?" Common reply is "No but I KNOW" First off, if someone had told me three years ago I would have run two marathons in 6 months, then be training to attempt two marathons in under a month I would have referred back to my first question. However what I've always said and believed is you never know how badly you want something or in some cases NEED something until you get there. You may not THINK you can do something...but trust me, you could, you can if you want to. But somethings you have to REALLY want. This is one of those things. It's fun, it takes your mind off a lot of issues and quite frankly, it gives you (well it does for me at least) clarity on things I probably would have bottled up.

"Really??" Yes, really. I run marathons, half marathons, 10ks, 5k's, 2 miles, a mile, down my block kind of runs. So again. Yes, really.

"Do you just start out running 10-26 miles???" I wish. No I will train for 4 months or so before a full marathon. I've actually taken 4 months off since my last marathon with little activity. Mainly because I listen to my body. I know how tough my last marathon was and I wanted to come into this training season with fresh legs. I know having been through this regiment that I can be marathon ready in 3-4 months so I trust my training and more than that I know my condition is better than it was a year and a half ago, so I should be able to slowly build up and be where I want to be.

"Seriously you have to be crazy to do two marathons in 27 days" OK I will relent a bit here, it is a lofty goal. But anyone who has known me, even a slight amount of time, knows I need tangible challenges it's what keeps me sharp and fresh. To push myself this hard will make sure I'm training constantly, keeping myself disciplined and hungry. I want to run both that's in all 52.4 miles But to do this, I am going to challenge myself to be as disciplined and as trained as I can be and let my legs carry me the rest of the way. I may pull my Zune out, but I like to run without music so we'll see!

One of my coaches Christine Luff has a great piece she does for so if you get a chance sign up for it. There are lots of great tips and pointers!

Also plug here for my donation site, which is up and I'm tying in both of my marathons to Team in Training this year, so you can now donate (I'm trying to hit $8,000 to fund cancer research) at
if the above site doesn't take you there try:

Happy Running!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chronicles of a Running Virgin - Guest Blogger: Renee Allwine

As promised, we would have guest bloggers join us from time to time, many will be first time runners others will be more seasoned runners who can talk about other aspects of running, that will include tips and tricks. Today we are pleased to have first time guest blogger Renee Allwine.

By Renee Allwine

This past weekend, I completed my first half marathon. The event took place in Walt Disney World in Orlando, which is perceived to be the happiest place on earth. I disagree.

Not that the DW isn’t fab with all its magic and glory. In fact, I like it there quite well. I just don’t like it being tainted with muscle cramping and a thirst that not even the Nile can quench.

Okay, okay. So it wasn’t ALL bad, and I have Icy Hot to thank for that. Ahhh, Icy Hot. How I love thee. Let me count the ways.
You cooled and numbed my legs with your icy goodness.
Umm…well that was pretty much it.

I’ve never run more than one mile at a time in my life, and there’s a good reason for that. First, because I have a car. And second, because I have a rare type of urticaria, which is a fancy way to say I have itchy legs. Yes, itchy legs. No, I’m not making this up. It’s basically hives that are induced by vibration. When I run, the vibration of my feet hitting the pavement causes an irritation that makes my legs itch uncontrollably. So much so, that I will scratch until I break blood vessels. Weird and creepy, I know.

This brings me to my other true love: prescription anti-histamines. I was able to run this baby without any itching complications. Usually I can only go about 4 minutes before going into the throws of a mad itching spree. Not this time. I made itchy legs my bitch.

While it was a big accomplishment for me to be able to finish the run, there are two things I wish I had done before hastily agreeing to the run. Number one: train, and number two: don’t do it.

Nah, I’m glad I did it…or I should say NOW I’m glad I did it. Somewhere around mile nine when my blood sugar was dropping, I wasn’t so glad. Which reminds me of the single most important lesson that I took away from this whole experience: DO NOT under any circumstances eat the goo! I may have been seconds away from passing out, but I think I prefer losing brain cells than eating that rancid stuff ever again.

I have to admit that I was warned about the goo, but in my blurry state of little consciousness I forgot. For those not familiar with this stuff, they are shots of a honey-like substance that many runners eat for energy. Except they don’t taste like honey. They taste more like… Hmm, how to put this elegantly? Ass. They taste like ass. My advice is to grab a banana, or a shot block, or for Heaven’s sake something else.

Another thing I learned is why people get so emotional at the end of a race. You always see those people crossing the finish line and crying and now I understand why. Sleep deprivation. Did you know that you have to get up at like 3 am in order to do one of these things? I didn’t. I mean 3 am! I would be laughing, and then without a moment’s notice be crying because I had dementia from my exhausted state.

So with my very little experience and even less training, how did I do? Actually, not bad. Then again, my standards are low. Raising the bar? More like don’t trip over the bar. But I completed it and I’m happy. I finished the 13.1 miles in three hours and four minutes. Nothing spectacular, and I know that. What I am proud of is that I ran most of the way. Me. Run. The girl whose idea of a morning run is when I’m late (yet again) for work and I’m making a mad dash for the closing train doors.

I’m not sure if I will ever do another race. I’m not against it, but I’m also not searching for upcoming runs. I feel like this is as good as it gets and I don’t want to ruin that. I finished and that’s good enough for me. Maybe if I had an extra incentive then I would. For instance, I got my dog, Juliet, as a gift to do this run. Perhaps I can convince my husband to let me get a friend for her.

Renee Allwine is an advertising copywriter who is a first time runner, long time couch potato. She lives in Sumner, WA with her marathoner husband, Steve, and their only child: a golden retriever. In her spare time, Renee enjoys crafting, disc golf, swing dancing and being Scott Iwata’s best friend.