“Motivation remains key to the marathon: the motivation to begin; the motivation to continue; the motivation never to quit.”

-Hal Higdon

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Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon Race Recap – Part 3


This is part 3 of a 3 part race recap.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

“That is your fastest marathon yet, isn’t it?” My husband shouted to me from the opposite side of the steel barrier.

“No, it’s not,” I replied. “Twin Cities was my fastest.”

“But you finished under 3:35:00!”

I was actually surprised he noticed, and that he remembered enough of my finishing times to realize this was one of the faster ones. As it turns out, I did run faster at Twin Cities, but this run was for sure second on that list.

“Yeah! How cool is that? I had a good run!” I said in return. “Except I barely made it to the bathroom.”

“Is that where you disappeared to afterwards?” He asked.

“Yeah…” I replied.

My stepdaughter was there at the finish as well. Both of them were impressed. I was too, to be honest. But, I paid a price for it with a rather queasy belly. And I was soaked with sweat.

We all chatted and I, of course, had to keep moving. I was stiffening up quickly and I had to remind my husband that we had to walk as we talked.

We passed the finish area completely, but then turned around and doubled back. I wanted to get some finish photos with the skyline behind me. As we did so, my step-daughter spotted the Kansas City Gong. And she and my husband agreed that I had to ring it.

“But I didn’t get a PR,” I said.

“The sign says you ring it if this is your first Kansas City Marathon, or if you got a BQ,” my stepdaughter added. Well, OK, then. I guess I’m legit!

My husband prepped the camera to get video, and I pounded that thing. Hey, that was kind of epic!

We then continued on to get those pictures.

There was quite a crowd at the finish area, and weaving in and out of the spectators was a feat in itself, especially for my daughter and the baby stroller she was maneuvering. My husband had wandered off far ahead scoping out the scene. When we finally caught up with him, he snatched my phone (since it takes better photos) and started playing Austin Powers, Photographer with it. He got some skyline shots, then we turned around to get one by the finish line. That one turned out the best, I think.




Finish Line Photo

Finish Line Photo

We did some more wandering around, and my daughter was hungry. I offered to use my food ticket to get her a meal, but no one seemed interested in waiting on me to get in the line to get into the food tent. So, we ditched the idea. I had collected fruit and bread at the finish line. Of course, I don’t eat any of it. But I was suddenly finding myself rather famished now. I knew I had a piece of a UCan Superstarch bar in my hydration belt, and my mouth began to water just thinking about it.

I wrapped that kevlar blanket around my shoulders now. The post race chills were setting in. The sun still hadn’t come out as promised. It was almost 11:00 am.


We were walking past the Union Station Depot Museum now, and my husband said they had a good coffee shop in there. He offered to get me one, and I couldn’t argue. I wanted that coffee!

So, we wandered inside. As they waited on line, I kept walking inside the depot area. It was rather lovely, and I would have enjoyed it more had I not just run a marathon!

Soon after, coffee in hand, and not long after loading our grandson into my daughter’s car, we were off. My husband stopped along the way to get some Tums, and had I thought about how hungry I was, or would be in an hour, I’d have made him buy me bacon and eggs. As it turned out, as soon as we arrived at my daughter’s house and I realized she had none, I sent my husband back out. He didn’t mind, though. He knew he would get some, too.

I made my bacon and eggs…fed my husband…and ate like a trucker. After, some guests came in and out, we learned I finished first in my age group. WOW! Unbelievable! My husband had commented at the expo that since the marathon was so small, perhaps I had a chance to place. I brushed it off immediately, after joking with him that yeah, maybe I do…Ha Ha Ha!! Again…wow.

Kansas City Marathon Race Results

Kansas City Marathon Race Results

Soon we were all getting showered and ready to head out for some happy hour cocktails at the Plaza before my step-daughter and husband went to a concert with his family.

It was in the shower that I discovered the dreaded chafe. OMG. It took all I had NOT to let out a blood curdling scream from the upstairs bathroom. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the shower, but eventually, the pain subsided. I had to ask my daughter for some diaper rash creme before we headed out. I didn’t get a good photo of it until a few days later. I was scared to look.

...the chafe.

…the chafe.

Clearly, it was from the humidity. I sweat like a pig…and I was wearing both my hydration belt and my Tuvizo waist pouch. But I didn’t notice it until that shower. Egads…

Once we departed from the kids, we decided to start our post race celebration in the village of Old Westport, where I ran though earlier in the day. But, after a few unsuccessful starts and a couple of bad choices, we ended up back at the Plaza and finally enjoyed a few cocktails and appetizers.

And yes. I got my Manhattan.


Back in suburbia after a stop for some sugar free ice cream (I deserved it…) we tried to stay awake to greet the kids, but couldn’t make it. I was in la la land faster than I could blink my eye. And the day, as they say, was history.

Me and Ronnie, the wonder dog, the morning after.

Me and Ronnie, the wonder dog, the morning after.

The following day, we mingled a little in the morning before heading back to Minnesota. It was a great weekend all around.

Some final thoughts…

I really do love to run. I didn’t do too much formal training for this marathon except, well, run. Everyday. The marathon wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t all that hard, either. It was just another run. At least, that is how I tried to categorize it as I headed out that morning. I had done an 18 miler and a 20 miler in preparation. Plus a few handfuls of 10 and 13 milers. They weren’t spectacular runs by any stretch of the imagination. But it was a lot of running. In fact, I’ve averaged about 200 miles a month this year with little to no help from the Zero Runner.

Miles for 2016.

Miles for 2016.

I did have some wild goals for this year. Not one, or two, but THREE marathons. Now, I know there are maniacs out there who will run three in a weekend. But my three were all Boston Qualifiers. I put all I had into each of them. I don’t mess around.

What do I have in mind for next year? I’d love to hit some new states. And with Charmed Running, that might just happen. We discussed it on the car ride home and right now, I’m thinking Fargo, ND in May, and maybe MCM for the fall. New York? It’s still out there. I want to run it. LA, too…we’ll keep those on the back burner for now.

What do I hope to accomplish? I have my BQ for 2018. I’d still love to beat my Twin Cities time of 3:30:14. I was only off by 4 minutes at Kansas City. I believe that if I HAD run Twin Cities this year, I’d have had a great shot of getting that PR. The weather was perfect and the course much easier than what I found in Kansas. But I have no regrets. The run was a memorable one. I passed so many familiar sights. I recognized them all from 2 years prior, when my step-daughter was married in this same city. In fact, I ran past the park where I did my last few training runs before the Twin Cities Marathon in 2014. It was fate, I tell you.

In the end, I was over the moon with my performance. And the weekend, for my husband and I, was needed, and well deserved. Planning our next one on the car ride home? Well, that was priceless. I’m blessed and grateful.

Race Photos

The free race photos were posted a week later.

There weren’t many taken of me. In most of them, I’m pretty serious. And coming down the stretch, I looked like I was about to burst out in tears.

Final stretch.

Final stretch.

But when I saw my finish photo, I did about cry. It was perfect. It captured a moment when I was relieved, exasperated, yet incredibly proud all at the same time.

Best…finish line…photo…ever. IMHO. I’ll treasure this one forever.

Marathon #7. Kansas City. Who knew?screenshot-2016-10-21-12-32-17

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Kansas City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!




Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon Race Recap – Part 2


This is part 2 of a 3 part series.

Part 1 is here.

I neglected to mention that I had saved up two episodes of the Runner Girl’s Podcast for the first part of this marathon. I knew they weren’t long enough to take me through the entire run, but I figured I’d worry about that when I got to the part when the recordings ended. Recently, I had returned to listening to my running tunes through some training runs, just to defeat the boredom of listening to podcasts, and to see if it would affect my pace. I thought, perhaps, I’d finish off my marathon with some tunes, if necessary. Right now, however, the podcast was working just fine. I also knew that Meagan, from said podcast, was running her first marathon on this day, and I couldn’t help but think about her as I ran. I was hoping she was having an amazing run!


Do you know when sometimes you are running, the time seems to fly right by, and other times, it doesn’t? This was one of those “other times”. I’m not sure why, but it seemed like the early part of this run was taking forever. Perhaps it was the steep mini hills at the start of this race, or the humidity, or the headwinds. Regardless, it just crept along. And for the first time in my marathon running career, I had visions of DNFing. It just seemed like I had no desire to run 26.2 miles this particular morning. It was taking too stinkin’ long.

I glanced down at my watch some time after I fueled near mile 7 and realized that it was only a little after 8am. Holy heck, I still had the whole morning ahead of me. It was early. Maybe I could get this done after all. Funny how your mind works like that. My fuel this hour was just 20 Energybits and a re-dose of SportsLegs, taken with a chug of sugar free electrolytes.

The hills were rather brutal, and as always, I can’t help but notice how everyone around me handles them. I was thinking that there were some brave souls out there that morning putting the pedal to the metal so early in this marathon. I hoped that they had what it took to finish the event. It wouldn’t be easy, and I knew that just 3 miles in. I also knew that I had played the first half of this marathon the right way for a change. I took it slow and deliberate when it was hard, and played with some speed when it was easy. I kept thanking the good Lord because he never allowed the sun to come out and play. This kept the temperatures in check. The humidity, however, was still brutal. And once we turned direction and headed back to the start/finish line, the headwinds dissipated. It felt to me like the humidity did as well, but the damage was already done. I was soaked just from sweat. I wouldn’t realize what damage was done, either, until later that day.

Looking pretty serious somewhere past the halfway point.

Looking pretty serious somewhere past the halfway point.

By the middle of the marathon, I started to feel better about everything…the run, my pace, the course, the weather…and my ketones were kicking in, so everything was getting easier. I was lighter on my feet, and my brain was coming into focus. When Runmeter told me I had hit the half marathon mark at 1:45:something, I knew I had a shot at a PR. I was doing way better than I expected I would be. It was time to make the decision to go for it, or back off a little and just settle with the BQ. I blatantly decided to go for it. What the heck? It was still early, and I could back down if necessary.

Now the race started to accelerate. I fueled with my hour 2 baggie near mile 15. It contained 20 Energybits, 2 SportsLegs and a caffeine tab that was the equivalent of a cup of coffee.  Up to this point, I had been alternating taking sips from my two hydration bottles. One contained a water/baking soda mix. The other contained water with a packet of MeStrength and a little Emerge powder by Max Muscle. In between fueling, I added in a little of an unfair advantage…that being Unfair Advantage from Bulletproof Nutrition. They are mini tubes of brain power which I found very useful at the start of the last two marathons I ran. This time, I decided to take a few of them as needed when I felt as though my brain was telling me I wouldn’t make it…if it ever did tell me that. I took one pre race, then again at mile 10, and then near mile 18. Each time, I swear I got an unfair advantage…now I know why it was named as it was.

The middle miles whizzed by and I couldn’t believe how fast I had gotten to mile 20. I was looking for a “wall”, like the physical inflatable one I saw at Twin Cities, or the ones on the signs held up by the fans cheering us on at the sides of the road. But there were so few spectators at this run. I was disappointed. I expected more from Kansas City. I learned that it truly was a “small town” marathon.

Mile 20 passed me by. I still felt amazingly great.

As luck would have it, somewhere around here is when my podcasts ended, so I turned on some tunes. We were just exiting a residential neighborhood on the edge of the city limits again, and there were a few spectators here. After I got my phone re-situated in my Tuvizo waist pack, I turned, waved and shouted “thank you” to all of them.

I made it all the way to mile 22, firmly holding on to the belief that I had a shot at a PR. But something happened on the way to heaven. I’m not even sure what it was, but as we ascended a short, steep hill, I hit my mini wall. I decided to walk a little here so that I could take my last baggie of fuel, again, 20 Energybits, SportsLegs tabs, and this time, an Advil just for the heck of it. Swallowing it down, I realized right then that I should have taken it earlier. I had just waited too long for that last pouch. Runmeter told me it was the top of the hour. I had 4 miles left. That left 4 miles in 30 minutes to PR. It wasn’t going to happen. Looking back now, I think hearing that might have been what deflated me. I’m not sure which happened first.

Runmeter data

Runmeter data

Regardless, I fueled and thought, well, I can beat BOTH Boston and Grandma’s times if I keep my wits about me. We crested the hill, and I looked ahead to see a bit of a downhill segment ahead. Let’s go for it!

Starting up again was a little tough, but after 10 steps or so, I was rockin’ it once more. The final few miles were not unlike the first few miles…short, steep, mini hills…just enough to make many fall hard at the end. I started to re-pass those who had passed me earlier during the first half of the run. I recognized them all. There was a male/female pair who whizzed passed me here at some point, and I was astounded at their presence and prevalence these last few miles. I was determined to keep them in sight through to the finish.

At this point, I was also joined by the half marathoners, and later, the 5K runners, still finishing their races. There were so many walking at this point. Jockeying around them added another mile to my run…at least that is how it felt. I cheered on a few, and a few cheered me on as well.

Now, my brain was on fire, and finishing was first and foremost. Still, however, the lack of any spectators was disillusioning. I felt like I needed that crowd support now, if ever. But there was no one…and I mean NO ONE lining the streets the last few miles. I was on my own. Just me and my music, and those runners who run on glucose. As I passed each and every one of them, I was grateful I was a fat adapted runner.

I passed a young man who I had traded the lead with a few times in the last half of this marathon. And I commented to him as such. He told me he was finished. He had nothing left. We were at mile 25 point something and I urged him on. “You GOT this,” I told him…”Let’s go!”

I ran on, looked behind me to see him still struggling, then turned ahead. I didn’t see him again. I hoped he kept running.

Mile 26, my Runmeter told me…and finally some spectators. They were behind a steel rail, which told me how close I was now. I pulled the headphones out of my ears, tucked them into my sports bra, and heard one woman yell “You go, girl! Take those headphones out and listen to the sounds of you FINISHING THIS!”

I needed that. I turned it on. Looking up, I saw 3:34: and seconds and thought “I can finish this in less than 3:35:00. GO GIRL!

The final stretch...I look like I'm about to burst out in tears!

The final stretch…I look like I’m about to burst out in tears!

And there it was…crossing over, I made it by just a couple of seconds. I tried to smile, but realized I wasn’t feeling so well. In fact, for the first time ever at the end of a race, I thought I’d hurl. I was handed a medal, (which just about brought me to the pavement. Damn, it was a wicked chunk of steel!) and asked for a foil wrap, but didn’t put it on. I knew I’d need it later, however. I grabbed a bottle of water, too, then spotted the medical tent to my left. Do I go in there? Gosh, I didn’t feel so good. But just beyond the medical tent was a porta potty, and upon seeing it, I had the urge to go…and go IMMEDIATELY. I was grateful it was empty, because, and excuse the graphic nature of this sentence, I got my shorts down just in the nick of time! My bowels emptied…and the nauseousness and yucky feeling went with it. Thank heavens! I sat there a minute, gathering my wits. And finally, felt good enough to go find my husband.

Coming soon. Part 3 and some final thoughts…

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Kansas City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon Race Recap – Part 1


Marathon #7 is in the books. There was absolutely nothing that went the way it was supposed to go for this run, or at least the way I thought it would go. Nothing…from pre-race planning, to the weather, or even the actual run…went the way I envisioned it would.

This would be my third marathon this year, and I had little in the way of expectations for it. Attaining a Boston qualifying time at Boston for marathon #1 of 2016 was the best redemption ever. Then, coming off Grandma’s with a course record, despite the record breaking heat and the close proximity of the Boston run in my rear view mirror, was tremendous for me.  Although I would have enough time to recover and train for Kansas City, this summer wasn’t the easiest Minnesota summer to train through for marathon #3.

Somehow, I had started a run streak which took me out on the roads every damn day these past 6 months, with no run being shorter than a 3-miler. It was unintentional, but thanks to a Facebook secret running group, and a challenge issued wherein, that is how it ended up. Was it the streak that helped me with this last marathon or was it just pure willpower and sheer determination once again? I may never find out the answer. But what I do know is that I secured a spot in Boston for 2018. This is important to me since I have 3 perfectly good Boston Qualifiers for 2017, but cannot make the trip this coming April. It is heartbreaking to say the least.

That being said…here is the recap from start to finish.

It started with a 6 1/2 hour drive to Kansas City on Friday morning. My husband dropped the kids off at school and returned so we could pack it all up and get on the road. At first, I had made us a hotel reservation and planned to have us stay right at the start line but we later decided to stay with my step-daughter, her husband, and brand our new grandson. It seemed a great way to get some family time in as well as run a marathon in one fall swoop.

We planned the drive with enough arrival time to make it directly to the expo to pick up my bib and such, and still get in some hours with my husband’s daughter. And all of that went as planned. We were also looking forward to scoping out the expo to see who might be there. Since we have been actively working Charmed Running, expos have become something other than a medium to pick up a race packet.

We were both surprised to see how small the setup actually was. After I retrieved my bib number and headed to packet pick up, I noticed that the marathon bib numbers only went from 1-1999. So, there were less than 2000 running the marathon. There appeared to be more running the half marathon and the 5K at this event. That is typical, but I guess since this is a Boston Qualifier, I expected there to be a larger number of marathon runners registered. Especially in a city such as Kansas City.

There was little to the expo. And whether Charmed Running would do well or not at such an expo remains a mystery. Since there was no one there selling a product like ours, it was a hard one to answer.  But, it opened our eyes to perhaps attend events elsewhere in neighboring states, where we could sell at the expo, and I could then still run the marathon. Research began almost immediately. But I digress…

After getting my bib and hoodie, which by the way I found ran a wee bit small (they were more than willing to exchange sizes, thank heavens), I stumbled upon the pacer booth. I had no intentions of running with a pacer, but they did have pace bands out there for free, and I felt it wouldn’t hurt to grab one…just in case. To my surprise, I learned that the pacers for this event don’t run the actual “pace” every mile as most pacers do. Instead, they run as one would expect one to run a long race. They start slower, and then speed up according to the course geography and the time spent on the road. That intrigued me, and I decided that perhaps, I’d give these Kansas City pacers a try.

After discussing the course with the fellow behind the table, and learning that many runners have found Kansas City “easier” than Boston, I decided to adjust my time goal. Perhaps I could PR this run after all. Call me crazy, but I’d already had two brutally warm marathons this year. This was promising to be no different. If I could run those two, and BQ, and this one was notoriously easier than Boston, anything could really be possible…right?

I couldn’t decide which pace band to go with. The fellow said I could take more than one. So, I grabbed the 3:30:00, 3:35:00 and 3:40:00 bands. No doubt I’d change my mind at least that many times between now and race time.

I might add that the only food sample that was handed out at this expo were two pieces of whole grain bread, in a little package. Very odd, indeed. And since I don’t partake in the gluten full, brain fogging, health altering food of the typical American, I handed it all to my husband, who in turn, deposited it at his daughter’s home.

With all of that out of the way, we were free to go, and headed directly to my husband’s daughter’s home.


The remainder of the day was spent playing catch up, hanging with the baby, going for a walk to see my daughter’s neighborhood, and then me taking a quick 2-mile run to shake out the cobwebs that had formed during the long car ride. After that, more catching up, and then an early bedtime for me. I managed to be in bed and quite fast asleep before 10pm. After debating earlier on a wakeup time, I finally surmised that 5AM would leave me 45 minutes of prep time before we headed to the start line. I decided this after previously deciding that I needed a full hour of prep time. As it turns out, I changed one fitbit alarm, but not the other, after I changed my mind. So, I ended up getting up at 4:45 am anyway. It was probably a good thing.

My husband had had a rough night battling acid reflux, and I felt bad making him get up so early to bring me to the start line. He still did it willingly, however, but we barely got out of the house in time to make the 20 minute journey downtown and prep for a 7 am start. We ended up parking closer than we anticipated, but with a $10 fee, rather than free. My husband wasn’t in the mood to fool around with the whole free parking thing. We exited the car, my bag in tow since I had my own personal bag check with me, and headed to the start line.

It was still dark. And I mean DARK. Clouds and fog hid the full moon, and there was no sunrise in sight. I wondered when the sun did rise in Kansas City these days. I had planned to run with my sunglasses since eventually the sun was expected to make a grand entrance later that morning. But that would mean having impaired vision for the first few miles of this run since there was literally no sun…at all…at the start of the race. There wasn’t much I could do about that. I did make it to the porta potty, however, with no lines, no waiting. That is always a bonus on race morning. My belly wasn’t feeling quite right so the stop was necessary. I tried not to let it affect my mood, or my good night’s sleep that I don’t necessarily get before a run.

I looked for some VRF’s who I knew were going to be there, but instead got sidetracked by a wonderful older man from Minnesota. I knew he was from there because he wore the Victory Day Race long sleeved tee shirt that I had also received on race day. We got caught up in conversation, and I learned he was on his second round of running all 50 states at least once! So impressive! I judged him to be in his 70s, and he was running the marathon this morning. All I could think was “I want to be YOU…” He was happy, he was fit, and he was glowing…eager to talk about all his running and the run this morning. I’d have talked with him all day if I could, but I was eager to get to the front and find my pacer. I had every intention on trying to stick with the 3:30:00 guy…at least for now.

I wished him luck and worked my way to the front of the crowd, and looked for my husband on the other side of the steel gate that separated the runners from the specatators. I found him, buckled on my belts, and handed him the bag with my eye glasses and nearly empty fuel bottle, which I used to down my Energybits and Sportslegs tabs in my pre-race fuel pouch. I was ready to rumble.

Start line photo

Along came National Anthem time, and as always, I got a little verklempt. Soon after the wheelchair racers were off, and before I knew it, I kissed my husband goodbye and we were off, too. I came to find out later that we were off at 7:04:38. 22 seconds early. Wow!

The first few miles were brutal. I couldn’t see a thing. I was so worried about stepping in a pot hole and twisting my ankle, I had my head down for the first few miles. I wasn’t even sure how fast I was running with respect to the pacers. I figured eventually I’d catch up, or they’d catch me. As it turns out, they caught me…near mile 3. That is when the day dawned, about 26 minutes into the run. I found my pace group, and for much of the first 10 miles, we traded the lead…back and forth. They stopped for water, and I didn’t since I had my hydration belt with me. I have to admit, I was grateful for the cloudy morning, but that didn’t do a damn for the humidity. I was sweaty by mile 3. And the early headwind was a delight, even though it played havoc with my pace early in the run. In the end, it probably evened itself out, but had the day been cooler, with no wind, this race would easily have been a PR for me.

I never would have believed it toeing the line a half hour earlier…

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Kansas City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

It’s Just A Hill, Get Over It!


Hill repeats suck, in a good kind of way. The last time I did any sort of decent hill repeat workout was back in 2014, before the Twin Cities Marathon. Sure, I did a few last year, but not enough to say they made any kind of difference in my running. Either that, or I hadn’t noticed.

I could only muster 4 repeats on a particular morning last month, noting that I previously did 7 rounds on the same hill when I did previous sessions in previous years. But that wasn’t weighing on my mind. I knew I could get back to 7 rounds in just a few weeks. What I did notice this summer was that the day following my first set of hill repeats, I experienced a less physically stressful run the following day. It was as though my breathlessness was gone. I had full, unimpeded lungs of air. Sure, my legs were fatigued, but cardio wise, the run was a piece of cake,

July 13 - Hill Repeats

July 13 – Hill Repeats


August 16 - Hill Repeats

August 16 – Hill Repeats

By week 2 of the hill repeat workout, I was back up to the 7 rounds. And after weeks 3 and 4, I decided I needed to find a bigger hill. I actually had one in mind. I just needed to get up early enough to get to it (remember, I mentioned the sleeping in part of my summer and the importance to get to those two yoga classes a week). My hill repeat workout happens on a Tuesday, and the only Yoga class I can make that day is at 9:30 am. See, I’d have to drive to the new hill, so I would need to actually get out of bed at the time my alarm is set for…5:30 am. Right now, I’m lucky to crawl out of bed by 6 am. I’m usually so good about getting up with my alarm. But lately? I’m thinking my body must need the sleep. I wake up exhausted. I’m not completely sure where I’m finding the energy to run everyday.

But it would seem these days, once I get out there, the longer I run, the better I feel. It takes at least 4-5 miles before I find a groove. If I had the time (note the previous blog post mentioning the dwindling hours), I’d run a 20 miler, because that is how darn good I feel at that point in my run.

So, this summer has been a lesson in futility, a lesson in patience, and a lesson in running, of which I haven’t faced before. But, I’m always up for a challenge.

August 4 - Quarter Mile Sprints

August 4 – Quarter Mile Sprints

Beginning in August, I added some speedwork to the mix. I had been listening to the Runner Girls Podcast, and had been inspired by Meagan, who has a running coach to help her through her very first marathon (GO Meagan!). Every week, she is doing different types of speedwork. I’ll admit, most of it doesn’t sound too appealing to me, but some of it does, and I have been attempting to do some of it on my own. Probably my favorite is just doing some quarter mile sprints, where I run fast for a quarter mile, then catch up with a slower half mile jog. I do find, that once my heart rate recovers, I’m running pretty fast at the end of the half mile, so I’ve had to learn to control my speed at the end of the slow interval before having to speed up again for the quarter mile. This has a major effect on the paces I can reach, and in the negative splits that I can hit on the speed repeat run.

I’ve been noticing also, the same effect after a speed work day that I see on a hill repeat day. I’m cardiovascularly rocking the run. Obviously, there is something to these added workouts.

August 23 - Hill Repeats

August 23 – Hill Repeats

I did end up trying that steeper hill. But it was way steeper. Steep enough that I may not go back to it. My instincts tell me that if I have to stop and walk up it at the end, it isn’t fulfilling the purpose of running hill repeats. Perhaps someone can chime in on this. Of course, this hill was a 155 ft climb in elevation over a half mile as compared to a 90 ft climb over a half mile. That is quite the difference. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself.

Thursday’s speedwork was accomplished in my Vibrams. That was a first. I usually reserve my Newton Fates for my longer runs. I tacked on a few extra miles so it made it my longest ever run in the five finger shoes. 10 miles was the limit for them, at least so far as today. I could really feel it on the bottom of my right foot. It was like I had a rock stuck in the sole of my shoe, but I knew that wasn’t possible. Needless to say, when Garmin said 10, I stopped short. Enough for today.

But, the different running workouts are helping, there is no doubt. I’m still amazed that after each one, I can get out of bed the next day…and run.

It seems to be coming together nicely.

Will Kansas City be a rip roaring success? It is too early to tell. My two long runs are fast approaching and I have a feeling they will be the tell all.

Are you in the middle of training for an event? Which one, and when is it?

Back To The Future Of Running – The Toe Shoe Experiment

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I never intended to start a running streak. It just turned out to end up that way. And now that I’m waist deep in it, I’m not so sure I’m ready to quit just yet. After all, running every day for 107 days has kept me limber and sharp. How? Well, I have to keep up with all my exercises, especially those that my PT’s and chiropractor have prescribed, in order to get out there every day and run. I’ve also been able to incorporate some other experiments into the mix, seeing that I’m running every damn day. The biggest experiment of which has been my running shoes, of all things.

It’s no secret that I’ve suffered with sore inner calves for as long as I can remember. At first, it all began with that stress fracture that almost took away my first Boston Marathon run in 2014. As it turns out, it likely wasn’t a stress fracture at all, but instead, a form of shin splint that affects my interior lower leg and the tendon that runs from the heel, to the inside of the tibia and around the knee, or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or MTSS. This injury rears its ugly head in so many ways. Just when I think I have it licked, it reappears in another form, like a shapeshifting spirit who can’t decide what form it wants to take next. Once I got the shin splints licked in late May, the injury decided to re morph to my achilles. It’s kind of a bizarre injury because it really doesn’t hurt while I’m running. Rather, I awaken with very stiff calves, and have milliseconds of sharp pain a few times a day when I might be doing absolutely nothing but standing around and chilling. Mind boggling, to say the least.

At one of my pre-Grandma’s marathon graston sessions, I finally asked my chiropractor his thoughts of the Vibram Five Finger sneakers that he wears on a regular basis. “I love them,” he says. “In fact, you should try them. I’m thinking all that lower leg stuff you have going on would go away…just like that…if you could incorporate them into your runs.” I got a little nauseous and instantaneously felt sharp ghost pain sink down my calf muscles and into the heels of my feet. But I’m SUCH a heel striker. And I run on pavement. And I must wear socks…and…and…

Oh, quit being such a wimp, Theresa. Buck up. What would it hurt you to try the shoes?

As it turned out, back at home, I have this pair of barefoot sneaker already. They aren’t Vibrams, nor are they “toe” shoes, but a brand called Be Real. These were sent to me a few years back as part of a product review agreement I promised to the developer of the shoe. Unfortunately, they arrived in the dead of winter. Not good for Minnesota running. When I finally decided to give them a try, the dreaded “stress fracture incident’ arose. The shoes took up residence on a forgotten shelf in my office…until…this summer.

Be Reals are made to be durable, yet allow flexibility and traction, while still being able to wiggle your toes.

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And as fate would have it, I also had become recently inspired by a book I had been listening to on my runs through late June. It was called Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth by Adharanand Finn.

In it, he talked about his personal experiences with the Kenyans and how he trained along side them to run a marathon in South Africa. He discussed in great detail how they run now versus how they ran as children, and how they run with the efficiency and the pace that they do, and if there are any secrets to running like a Kenyon. The part about their footwear had me hanging on a shoestring, quite literally. Sure, there was some barefoot running involved. But it wasn’t always that way. The barefoot part of their running happened entirely in their youth. It is how they learned their perfect running form, the staccato, light footedness that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. But as runners and racers, they do don footwear (in its most simplistic form). The barefoot running they did as children will always stick with them, and therefore, they in turn, run like the Kenyons that they are.

After hearing all of this, I was ready to try my barefoot shoes.  What did I have to lose?

I put them on, a few times, just to test them out around the house. I decided that this particular brand of bare foot running shoe needed a sock, which was a good thing in my eyes. Socks, especially Toe Sox, which are the socks I prefer to run in, mean less of a chance for blisters. I HATE blisters. I haven’t had a blister in a years. And I have to think it is because of the socks, as well as not straying too far from my two favorite brands of sneakers…Brooks and Newtons.

But once I paired the Toe Sox with the Be Reals, I felt like I stumbled onto something big. I was ready to give this a try.

My Be Reals

One mile. It would start with one mile. And it would be on the packed gravel road right off my driveway. No pavement, at least not yet. Let’s give this a go.

The run was surprisingly easy and unforced. It was far from speedy, but yet so natural. I couldn’t help but wonder why I waited so damn long to try these out.

I had a longer run planned for this day, so I carried my Brooks to the top of the driveway and changed them after the mile so I could continue on. I was amazed at how light and free my footing felt after I changed out of the barefoot shoes. This was epic.

For my next run in these shoes, I’d more than double my distance. And, the run after that, I doubled it again. After two weeks, I’d been running in them every other day. It had gotten to the point where I didn’t have to bring my Brooks Launch along to make the change for longer runs. I could just wear the Be Reals alone. It was then that I began to consider trying a pair of Vibrams.

But could I run without the socks?

Two weeks later, in mid July, I ordered from Road Runner Sports, three pairs of Vibrams, in three different styles. I chose Road Runner Sports because I have a VIP membership with them, and this allows me to test drive sneakers for 90 days before ultimately deciding if they are right for me. This is such a great perk! When my Vibrams arrived, I considered calling my chiropractor to find out which style he wore, but then I realized these were my feet. I’d better experiment myself to see which would work best for me.

Vibram V-Run


It didn’t take more than a few moments to determine that only one pair had a perfect fit. They were light and flexible, and had no obvious areas where I felt any rubbing, or places where chafing might occur. There was no question. I didn’t even have to take the other two pairs for a road test. It was decided from the get go. It would be the Vibram V-Run.

I was looking forward to my next barefoot run. Or so I thought.

It still took me a few weeks to work up the nerve to try the Vibrams. My thought? “Well, if the Be Reals are working so well, why should I risk it?”

Gawd, I’m a creature of habit. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let’s do this. So, three full weeks after receiving the Vibrams, I finally slipped them on…or toed in…or whatever one does with five finger shoes.

It took literally a half hour to get them on. Fitting each one of my ten toes into these shoes was a challenge. I was beginning to wonder if this would even happen.

My littlest piggie took the longest. I determined at the end that I had to start with that little piggie first and then work my way back up to my big toe to get the Vibrams to fit correctly.

Finally! Time to run.

Vibram Five Fingers

I brought my sneakers with me to the end of the driveway, just to be safe. And on this particular day, there were construction crews on my packed gravel road. This would not do. But I was determined. I was forced to christen my Vibrams on the pavement.

Honestly, though. It went way smoother than I ever anticipated. I managed to complete a 4-mile loop near my home. I took my time, of course. But, the run felt very good. It wasn’t until I removed the sneakers a few hours after my run that I discovered I did infact incur a blister on the upper knuckle of my left big toe, on the top of my foot. It didn’t hurt, but it was obtrusive. And I held back the urge to pop it.

When I ran the next day, I was able to get my Newtons on without any issue. In fact, between the socks, and the sneakers, and the run, the blister took care of itself. But, the following day, I couldn’t get the Vibrams back on. The top of my foot was irritated just enough to not allow it to happen. I was back in the Be Reals, so I could continue my barefoot training and wear my Toe Sox.

It took me a full week to get back into the Vibrams. And I belly ached the entire week, debating whether I should just sent the kit and kaboodle back to Road Runner Sports and call the entire experiment a failure. But, once I got those Vibrams back on, I realized I had already become quite accustomed to them. These sneakers would be staying in my rotation.

Yep, the summer began at my roots, running in my original Brooks Launch. I even tried a few rounds in my original Brooks Cadence, hoping for miracle upon miracle that something would help alleviate the sore Achilles. Deciding to return to the Newton Fates, coupled with the barefoot training, has done wonders and seems to have changed the situation. There is improvement. And that is good. But, I’m far from 100%. It is rather clear that I’ll need to stay the course, continuing with all of the exercises I have been doing, keeping up with the shoe rotation, and treating my feet and lower legs with the utmost of respect. After all, they are what will keep me running well into my 50s. So, I don’t want to piss them off.

Have you ever experimented with barefoot running? How did it go?