Posts Tagged ‘running’

I got a great birthday package from Sara with an awesome workout gift…and after a month of half-iron training, I could use a little boost! Sara sent me an awesome SweatyBand for my hair. She included a sticky note telling me it would not budge, even on ‘our’ super fine hair. I tried it out while I was on my bike trainer and it really didn’t move. Then I sported the orange, yellow, and red band during a run; again, no slipping at all.

Zoe thinks I'm beautiful in my SweatyBand!

The bands are made of ribbon with a velvet-y backing and elastic that goes under the base of your head for a comfortable fit. I’m going to have to stock up on these, because I love wearing headbands during workouts to keep my hair off my face. Testimonials on the SweatyBands.com website include a girl whose band stayed in place even when she took a helmet on and off! Amazing.

– albledsoe

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Event recap: Anthem 5k

Temperatures are inching upward, daffodil chutes are beginning to peak through the ground, and the Louisville Triple Crown of Running has begun…it must be spring!

Nothing signals the end of winter in Louisville than the Anthem 5k. The race is the beginning of the Triple Crown and, to me, the beginning of spring. There are several thousand local runners who agree with me, I guess, since 8,525 of us finished Saturday’s race.

It didn’t hurt that we had gorgeous weather. While it was still quite cool at the 8 a.m. start on the Ohio River waterfront, there was a generous amount of sunshine and the promise of highs in the 50s. We were hopeful and eager after weeks of snowy, icy, frigid runs.

The Anthem 5k starts just north of Louisville Slugger Field in the second year of a new route. Like all of the Triple Crown races (and the Derby miniMarathon that follows in April), runners are packed in at the starting line and elbowing each other for a teensy bit of space. Even though the walkers are supposed to start behind the runners, the first mile at least is quite uncomfortable for everyone. The pack spreads out a bit after that, but it’s still a ‘cozy’ affair through to the finish line.

My training buddy, Valerie, and I met up for this race, as per tradition. I believe this is our fourth year of running Triple Crown races together. This was our best showing for Anthem, though, and we were proud that our track workouts with the group from the Ken Combs Running Store are paying off.

Although I know dozens of people that ran Saturday, I saw very few in the throngs of people. But I had no trouble seeking out the Panera Bread tent for my cinnamon crunch bagel (another tradition)!

Like all the Triple Crown events, the 2010 Anthem 5k was well-organized and festive. New this year was the timing device that replaced the chips: it was incorporated into our bib numbers and was disposable. That helped the bottleneck at the finish line quite a bit.

I feel like every Louisvillian should run (or walk) the Triple Crown races at least once, simply to experience the sense of community that comes with crossing that finish line. It doesn’t hurt to celebrate spring with a jaunt through the city with a few of your (literally) closest neighbors, either!

– albledsoe

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Run Report: San Francisco

An impromtu business trip to San Francisco last weekend luckily turned into the beginning of vacation week for Adam and me. We trekked all over and around the city, but before we returned home Monday, I had a few sites left to check out. And I still had to get my long run in, so I took off as soon as the sun started coming up for a 6.25-mile run around San Francisco. Sara recently reported on a fun iPhone app for running routes, but I don’t have an iPhone, so I relied on my trusty MapMyRun.com, some RunnersWorld.com suggestions, and tweaked it with some advice from an entry on IGoUgo.com. The result was an excellent (hilly) run that incorporate some of San Francisco’s greatest sites as well as a gorgeous view of the sunrise from Telegraph Hill, outside Coit Tower.

Getting to Telegraph Hill was simple, but not easy. The hill is steep and my legs and feet were already sore from our weekend of walking the city. But I made it to the top and let myself take a break to snap a few pics on my phone. I comforted myself by remembering that Louisville was under a blanket of snow, but I was in California running in cropped tights and a light jacket. It was my first glove-less run in ages!

sunrise from telegraph hill

Sunrise at Telegraph Hill, San Francisco

Coming down from Telegraph Hill, I took a detour on Filbert and fond myself among gorgeous wooden-plank steps leading down a steep cliff that was very Secret Garden-esque. It was weird to be in people’s yards, and felt very out of place in the middle of the city. Everyone talks about Lombard Street, but this pedestrian section of Filbert was more enchanting in my mind.

I reached the bottom and crossed the street to the Levi Strauss campus (Levi Plaza), which looks like a pretty fun place to work. Then I headed back to The Embarcadero, past the Ferry Building and under the Bay Bridge, and around AT&T Park.

On the way back to the hotel, I passed Yerba Buena Gardens (the auditorium there is where Steve Jobs had announced the release of the iPad just a few days earlier). One of my favorite things about San Francisco is the presence of green spaces all throughout the city. They may be tiny, but they’re everywhere, and it makes the city seem homier, livelier, and fresher.

filbert street steps

Filbert Street Steps

All the hilliness was at the beginning of my run, so I felt pretty good as I made my way back to our hotel and consider the run a success…not always the case when you’re traveling in an unfamilar city.

– albledsoe

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Gadget Review: RunKeeper App

I have had my eye on an all-in-one, watch/GPS/heart rate monitor since I signed up for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. You need an easy way to stay on track when you are logging all of those miles, right? What better way than through the magic of the GPS?! As snazzy as these gizmos are, the $300+ price tag was more than I wanted to spend. My solution – let’s see if there is an app for that!

Sure enough, there is. And, it’s free – even better! There are a number of applications for the iPhone that allow you to take advantage of the GPS capability of the phone. After flipping through a few options I chose the RunKeeper Free application. The application has stopwatch functionality, displays your per mile pace, current pace and lists the number of calories burned during your workout. The calorie count is just an estimate since you don’t enter your weight, but the application allows you to track your time and distance for several sports in addition to running. Cycling, walking, hiking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, skating, swimming and mountain biking are all included activities in the free version of RunKeeper.

You can also manually enter your workouts that are completed when you are indoors or on gym equipment. After recording a workout, all of your data is then saved into your account which you can access at any time online or through the RunKeeper application.

I like that I’m able to launch the application, throw my phone in my fanny pack (oh yeah, I sport the pack when I run outside) and go. I know I’ll have an accurate mileage calculation when I’m done and the application can be paused when needed for bathroom and water breaks. During your workout the display includes your distance traveled, your average per mile pace, and current pace.

My verdict – it’s pretty darn handy for a free app. This has given me the flexibility to track my outdoor runs and the freedom to make up my route along the way. Who likes to backtrack and drive their route after they are finished? Not me! I also like having an easy way to access an electronic record of my runs. I can flip through to see my progress and get a pre-workout pick-me-up if needed; it’s nice to have a reminder of the miles I have already logged before heading out for a long run. I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a reliable GPS option, but doesn’t want to spend a small fortune on the “perfect” watch/GPS/HRM combo. I’ve still got my eye on my dream watch, but my handy RunKeeper is what I will be using to stay on track until the big day in April.

RunKeeper also offers an upgraded version and a subscription service that allows you to utilize their reporting functions to analyze your workouts, view graphs, and connect with other users.

How do you prefer to track your mileage when walking, running or cycling?

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We’re starting the final week of January (where did it go?), and I’m wondering where everyone is as far as their goals for the year. Are you sticking with the resolutions and plans you set on January 1?

In 2010, I want to run the Louisville Triple Crown of Running, the Derby Festival miniMarathon, and compete in my first half-iron distance triathlon. I’ve been training for the running events with a group from my local running store, and yesterday sat down with my training partner Valerie to map out our schedule for the tri. Official training for that begins February 15, and I’m getting very excited!

Needless to say, every day isn’t perfect. In fact, I have a head cold now that’s making me feel very groggy, and I’ve been too busy to get in all the strength training I want. But overall, I’m keeping my goals in sight and try to just keep on keeping on. Having those events on my calendar keeps me focused and motivated.

If you haven’t done much so far in January, don’t worry. There’s still a lot of 2010 left, and plenty of time to reach any goal you set your mind to!

– albledsoe

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Ready to Run

I am signed up and ready to train for the St. Louis half marathon in April! I was nudged in this direction (ever so gently) by my dear co-blogger, Amanda, who assured me that this would be a fun adventure, and by the encouragement from my husband to take that next step as a runner. He knew I had been tip-toeing around the idea for the last couple of months, so he treated me to some gifts on Christmas that gave me that final push I needed to take the plunge and sign up for my first real endurance event. In addition to the new gym bag I had my eye on, Seth gave me Tom Holland’s Marathon Method. The combination of Amanda’s encouragement, Seth’s support, Tom’s realistic training plan and, oh yeah – listening to my heart, I signed up for the GO! St. Louis half marathon.

I’m telling all of you not only because I want to hold myself accountable, but because I want to challenge you to consider tackling a fitness goal that might be just a bit outside of your comfort zone. You don’t know what you can really accomplish until you dream big, and push yourself harder and further than ever before.

Sure, it’s going to be 2010 in a few days, but this doesn’t have to be a resolution; it’s a goal. The beauty of a goal is that when you make one, you get to take baby steps to help you accomplish it. We all know that a woman with a plan is unstoppable! F2BT readers, if you have learned anything about me, it’s that I love having a goal. If I can plan it, I can do it. And, YOU can too!

Maybe running a half marathon or full marathon isn’t up your alley, but what else really speaks to you? What else have you dreamed of doing, but just haven’t given yourself the opportunity to try out because you are:
– too busy
– too tired
– too scared
– too lazy

I know, those last two hurt a bit. But, the truth is, these are all excuses. Everyday we make the time in our lives to do the “extra” things we want to do. Catch up on the tv shows from the day, attend a happy hour after work, etc. Shave off 30 minutes here and there, and you have an hour or two to spare before you know it. Use that time to focus on yourself, your goals and the plan you are going to use to accomplish it.

So, are you ready to run (bike, hike, swim, get fit)? I’m excited and also a little bit nervous. But most of all, I’m looking forward to trying something new and giving it my all. I am ready to run!


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Stick it to me

Since I got into endurance sports a few years ago, I’ve heard lots of praise for a gadget called “The Stick.” It was supposed to work wonders for sore, tight areas, especially IT bands, where I’ve had some trouble. So I was super excited this Christmas when Santa Clause brought me one of my very own (well, it was actually from my mother-in-law, but you get the idea).The Stick comes in various sizes, and is a flexible, plastic…well, stick, with spindles that roll independently to stretch and apply pressure to problem zones.

the stick

The Stick

I tested out my stick this afternoon after returning from a run of just over 9 miles. I followed the instructions, which include about 10 recommended exercises for arms, back, neck, and legs, and then added a couple of my own. The verdict? My muscles don’t feel nearly as sore as they did after last week’s run. Plus, using The Stick forced me to take the time to stretch following my workout, which I admit I don’t always do. I think I could use this almost every night and it will help with my general well-being. It’s super easy to use, and small enough to tuck away in a corner or on a shelf (as opposed to the foam rollers which are often recommended for similar use).

If you’re like me and can’t afford weekly massages during training, I would recommend grabbing a Stick of your own. Your body will thank you!

– albledsoe

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One of my favorite non-fiction books of all time is Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Stasi Eldredge. On the jacket, it reads: “Life is harsh on the heart of a girl.” And I think any woman would agree that that’s true. We’ve all experience heartache, disappointment, insecurity…and if we’re lucky, we are stronger women because of it.

Life IS harsh, but the experiences I had growing up in sports, with coaches and mentors and teammates by my side, helped give me the tools to deal with what life hands me with integrity and grace. Studies have shown that girls involved in sports develop more self-esteem, which in turn helps them make good decisions to prevent such things as teenage pregnancy, drug use, and eating disorders. Involvement also can help with performance in school and promote a healthy self image.

Girls growing up right now have more pressures than ever at increasingly younger ages, so it’s so important they all have role models, friends, and a healthy outlet to develop confidence to face whatever life hands them. Enter Girls on the Run International.

GOTRI is a non-profit program designed to prepare young girls for a 5k (3.1 mile) run while incorporating curriculum that targets mental, emotional, and social aspects of their character as well. With chapters in the U.S. and Canada, the mission of GOTRI is “to educate and prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.” It is a 12-week after-school program that brings in strong female role models and creates a safe environment for girls to learn to be themselves.

We are working to bring a chapter of Girls on the Run to Louisville, and I’m running the Derby Festival miniMarathon (13.1 miles) next year to raise awareness and support of this organization. To make a secure online donation, please visit my fundraising page at: http://www.active.com/donate/SoleMates2010/ABledso17. You can also send me the name of a women or girl in your life you’d like to honor, and I will pay special tribute to her at the race.

As for me, I’ll be running in honor of my mom, Tammy Lee. I’m fully aware that our relationship is special, and I appreciate having her to teach me dignity, grace, hospitality, compassion, and toughness.

– albledsoe

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Although the Smarty Panties didn’t win the No Skirts Allowed Adventure Race this year, we did get a sweet door prize: vouchers for a free pair of Salomon XT Wings Trail Running Shoes. I was so excited…what girl doesn’t love shoes? And free ones at that!

Salomon XT Wings

Salomon XT Wings

Within a few days of returning to Louisville at the race, I headed to the Trail Store to get fitted and mailed in my voucher. Funny enough, the staffer who helped me was wearing these shoes, and he gave a great testimonial. He said he wears them for running and casually, and loves them. Sweet! Less than a week later, the box with my shiny new shoes had arrived.

I had been running in a pair of Asics that were described as road/trail hybrids. They did the trick, but a dedicated pair of trail shoes was definitely on my wish list, and now here they were on my front stoop! The first run in the XT Wings started out great. The shoes are lighter, have great traction/tread, and I really like the cinch-style (“Quicklace”) lacing system, though it’s taking some getting used to. A bonus is that they’re pretty cute, gotta love the green and grey color scheme (like F2BT!).

A couple miles into the test run, I got an all-to-familiar feeling…blisters forming on the arches of my feet. This is a personal problem I have learned to live with, and after several years I’ve found a pretty reliable fix (or fixes): Superfeet insoles, BodyGlide, and the perfect socks (which can vary depending on the shoes, and takes some trial and error to discover).

We slowed to a walk and finished our route, I let the blisters heal, and next time time tried the shoes with my insoles. No blisters!

The best thing I’ve noticed since I started running trails in these shoes is the sturdy reinforced toe. I can stub my toe on a tree root or the dirt (yeah, I’m not the most graceful runner around) and not even feel it. I even tripped once and fell flat on my face, but my toe was no worse for wear! They’re also easier to clean, which is handy for muddy Kentucky winters.

I’d give these shoes 3.5 of 4 stars so far. If I had paid for them, I would definitely be satisfied with my purchase.

– albledsoe

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Running off the Turkey

Actually, the run was before I ate the turkey, but I think it still helped. My running partner Valerie and I met up early on Thanksgiving morning for the Iroquois Hill Runners Thanksgiving Day Run. I like this race because the t-shirts have turkeys on them, hehe. It’s 5 miles, but the first two are straight uphill. Great warm-up!

I’ve always thought of running as therapy because the sweating helps ease stress and frustration and the monotony is conducive to thoughtful prayer and problem solving. And running with a buddy makes it even better because you get to talk about whatever is on your mind. This Thanksgiving run was a great way to get in the holiday mood since Valerie and I discussed family, traditions come and gone, and our favorite dishes.

As we headed into the downhill around mile 3, I also thought about how much I have to be thankful for as I pursue a healthier lifestyle. The people and opportunities that have come into my life make it a fun adventure, and even when my body doesn’t want to cooperate, I appreciate it nonetheless for carrying me through this crazy life!

I’m obviously lucky to have Valerie, the ultimate training buddy. We keep things on our calendar, hold each other accountable during training, and cheer each other on during races. I’m very fortunate to have a great friend and athlete who complements my style perfectly.

Iroquois Hill runners thanksgiving run 2009

Valerie and Amanda at the IHR Thanksgiving Day Run. Action Shot:)

My husband, Adam, is the best support team ever. Even though he thinks I’m insane for taking on some of the things I do, he not only cheers me on throughout training and at races, but he also puts up with my fatigue and crankiness when I’m sore or tired from training. Not to mention my weird eating restrictions and the seemingly crazy stuff I have to spend our money on (Gu? Body Glide?). He was my hero when I was training for the Memphis St. Jude marathon; every week when I came home from my long run, he’d greet me at home with one of my favorite recovery foods (usually thin crust cheese pizza or homemade guacamole).

Speaking of the marathon, I’m very thankful that I am a marathon finisher. It’s one of those things that I’ll always have, and can always think back on when things get tough. I mean, I made it through that, as painful as it was both physically and mentally, so I know that now I can handle just about anything.

I’m thankful, especially at a cool, damp November morning race, for great running and fitness innovations like disposable hand warmers and sweat-wicking ear covers. Genius!

Of course, I’m very blessed to have the greatest blog partner on the planet in Sara. Her smart, funny posts make me laugh, I admire her work ethic and creativity, and I appreciate her support in life in general. We’ve been great friends for years, and it’s fun to have this new adventure to share, too!

Mostly, I’m just thankful that I have the ability and desire to push myself. Our bodies are fragile and not everyone gets to use theirs fully, so if we’re blessed with good health we should fight to maintain it. I love feeling strong, feeling like I have some power over something. For that, I give thanks.

– albledsoe

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