Foggy in Philly: An RnR Half Marathon Race Recap

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Gray, soupy skies over Philly

My goal race for the late summer was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on September 17. I’ve done this race two times before; the first time in 2002 and the second time in 2013, so I know very well how fast the course can be. Additionally, Philly is relatively close to us, so it’s an easy trip to make for a great race event. I thought it was reasonable that I could get into, or close to, PR shape and between the fastness of the course and depth of competition, Philly was the place to go after a fast time.

The caveat with this race though is that with it being in mid September on the east coast, you don’t know if you’re going to get nice, cool fall-like weather or hot, humid summer weather. After great training leading up to the race, the weather remained the big question mark in how my day would turn out.

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5 Running Lessons I Learned From the Brangelina Break-up

fri5They were so glamorous, Brad and Angie. She and her thigh-slit gowns, eyes lined like a cat, today’s answer to Liz Taylor. And he, so dapper in his slicked back hair, so choosy in his taste for starlets, so pretentious in his love of post-modern architecture. And together with their brood of beautiful ethnically diverse children, so generous in their pursuit of noble causes like refugee crises and post-Katrina rebuilding. And now it’s all gone. GONE!

But perhaps, that’s the way it goes. #Teamjen4lyfe

Oh, right. This is a running site and you want to read about running. I’ll dry my tears wipe the I-called-it smirk off my face and tell you how the collapse of the world’s most perfect union can teach us about running. Read more

North: A Tale of Two Races

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“I was surprised. I thought I could finish with Mollee,” Calina said, reflecting on her first ever high school cross country race as we sat on the grass watching the varsity girls warming-up. While Calina and Mollee started the JV race together, Mollee finished about three minutes ahead of Calina.

***

This week, the North girls boarded the bus and headed to fairy-tale-like Forest Hills Park, a strange contrast to the rest of East Cleveland, the former home of John D. Rockefeller and now a city so beat down and strapped for cash that it can’t afford to paint lines on its roads. There, with Caitlin and Cheyenne out sick and Natalie on vacation, Mollee and Calina would run in the JV race and Vidhi, Hannah, Lydia, Ashleigh and Sydnie would line up for the varsity race. Read more

‘Tis the Season for Cross Country Racing

img_0536Despite the occasional 90 degree day here in Boston, it’s starting to feel like fall. Longer nights, cooler mornings, and the scent of decaying leaves make me think of one thing: cross country. Like many people who started running in high school, cross country was my first exposure to the sport of running. The sounds and smells of fall invariably bring me back to that first exhilarating season, toeing the line next to some of the coolest, nicest, most bad-ass girls I had ever met. Through cross country I discovered the joy of racing and learned what it is to train seriously and, although I don’t have the opportunity to race cross country often now as a non-club-affiliated post-collegiate, it remains my favorite running event. I miss it.

This season, I’m planning to run in a couple of cross country races and I think you should too. Why, you ask? 

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Let’s Call This a Comeback

Salty in a red shirt racing

Photo by Capstone Photography and courtesy of the Morehouse, the Wild Goose, and the Downtown Willloughby 5k.

I raced a 5k last Sunday, two years since my last solid race, two years since I felt strong and capable and fit, two years since a race was exhilarating rather than inspiring mixed emotions. During these years, my attitude has ranged from hating running, to missing running desperately, to complete indifference.

Many of my friends and family don’t understand why I care so much about running or even why I run so much. Running for me has always been an outlet, a place to feel powerful when I often feel powerless, a way to channel all the excess energy I have and to unravel the balls of creativity tangled up in my brain. This was especially true after I left my job as an attorney, turning my back on all that I accomplished in law school and in my career. I became a stay-at-home parent to my infant son seven years ago now. In those early days, I may have been shell-shocked at how not intellectually stimulating the job of SAHM was. I ran with my son daily, sometimes twice a day. I ran 60, 70, 80 miles a week training for a marathon.

Then I had another baby and running was the only thing that gave me relief from the crush of post-partum depression. After my second child, I dug in and ran more and more and more and faster and faster and faster. I ran most of my life-time bests around a year after her birth.

I swear, this will make sense.  Read more

Science and Running: How Do You Know What’s Good and What’s Junk?

img_0348In 2010, thanks in large part to Christopher’s McDougall‘s Born to Run, barefoot running became the newest running trend. Everywhere I went I heard about the health benefits of running barefoot. I heard it all, from “You’ll never get injured again!” to “You’ll be so fast!”. And research seemed to back up the barefoot running phenomena, yet I remained stubbornly unwilling to try. I was a bit relieved, then, when other research emerged that contradicted the earlier study’s findings, but not before Vibram sold millions of its five-finger minimal running shoes. These later findings resulted in a class-action lawsuit against the company.

This is just one example of companies and other interest groups using purported research to promote an agenda and get into our pocketbooks. We need to examine all the claims we see every day in running magazines, on blogs, and especially those made by marketers that say that we runners must be doing this or that thing or use this or that product if we want to be a healthy high-performing runner.

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Surviving the Marathon Training Gauntlet

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The MTG = the dark days of any marathon cycle.

“Just four more weeks and I’ll be on the start line, and I won’t feel this bad!” I said to myself once a minute during every run last week.

But four weeks is a long time and I am so so tired. There are some days, even a week or two stretch during the throes of training that make me want to chuck my trainers into Green Lake and call it a day. This is The Marathon Training Gauntlet, a two to three week period during a marathon training cycle where every run feels like a marathon itself. My coach lovingly refers to it as “a bitch-of-a-three-week stretch.” I just call it hell, and for a fleeting moment I feel like a crazy person who decided to put my body through the ringer just to attempt to run fast.

The Marathon Training Gauntlet typically creeps up during peak training volume weeks, when you’re feeling more tired than usual, and usually after a particularly hard run. The lack of motivation to run when you have a big goal isn’t the easiest topic to broach when your Facebook feed is chockfull of friends posting awesome workouts, running personal bests, and gleefully proclaiming their love of running. Yes, it is great, but during the MTG we are tired. If this sounds like something you can relate to, here are my tips to getting on the other side.  Read more

Cryotherapy for Runners: Needless Torture or Panacea?

Olive in a cryo tankLast week, Cinnamon explained how ice baths can impede the adaptation process our bodies go through after hard training. However, there are some circumstances when the benefits of cold therapy like ice baths, spot-icing, or cryotherapy may be worth the trade-offs. While the evidence suggests cold does not actually improve recovery, it may reduce post-workout pain and make a runner feel more recovered. The evidence is not clear whether this is simply a placebo effect, or that the ice does something to us physically to improve pain, but many of the world’s top athletes swear by cold therapy, particularly before their most important competitions.

When it comes to cold therapy, every runner who has every tried one has an opinion on the post-run ice bath. Those opinions tend to range from awful to very awful, and most runners spend their time in the ice bath counting down each minute of it. This probably explains why cryotherapy, which offers all of the benefits of the ice bath and then some in just three minutes, is becoming popular among athletes. I’m lucky enough to live in a town with more than one cryotherapy studio, and since I’m usually recovering from some sort of an injury, I’ve gone a few times and want to offer my thoughts for my fellow sore runners. Read more

Falling In Love with the Process: My Erie Marathon Race Report

I’m a firstborn. As a firstborn, we tend to be stubborn know-it-alls. I find it hard to listen to instructions, from putting together furniture to someone explaining how to play a board game. I always assume I’ll figure it out. Most of the time I eventually figure things out, but it often takes longer than necessary and this time is filled with one too many cuss words. This trait goes against all of that mindfulness junk I’ve been throwing at you lately. But that’s the point of mindfulness, to be present with all of the parts of yourself, including the demons.

One of the assumptions I have about myself is that I should easily be able to run a Boston qualifying time. Now, this isn’t a symptom of an over-inflated ego; all of the race equivalency calculators say I could run anywhere between a 3:25-3:30 based on my other PBs. But what stubborn Ginger forgets is that racing a marathon to our potential often requires experience and quality marathon-specific training, especially when we’re lacking in the genetics department.

For Erie, I had a great training cycle, nailing workouts I have never attempted before and built up confidence in my strength. I always dreamed I was strong, but never worked to achieving that. I also had marathon experience, but I wasn’t sure it was enough to run an entire 26.2 miles at a specific pace. I never achieved such a feat before this race. Read more

Readers Roundtable: How About Those Boston Standards?

As long as you exceed your qualifier enough, that is.

As long as you exceed your qualifier enough, that is.

Last Monday, registration for the 2017 Boston Marathon began, first for those who exceeded their qualifying standard by more than 20 minutes, then a few days later by 10 minutes, and then five minutes and so forth. This week marks the end of the rolling registration process for runners who have run less than five minutes faster than their qualifying times. For these runners the week will be filled with angst and crossed fingers, hoping their times will be fast enough to get in.

You see, simply running a qualifying time is not enough anymore. Running a time only qualifies you to APPLY for registration, with the fastest applicants getting accepted. After the 2011 registration period, qualifying times were tightened by five minutes for each age group and for the 2016 race, marathoners needed a qualifier that was at least two minutes and 28 seconds faster than their qualifying time to actually race in Boston. Wow!

We want to know what you think! 

  • Is the current system fine?
  • Or should the BAA increase the field size so all qualifiers can compete or tighten the standards?
  • If the BAA tightens the standards should they do so for both men and women or, as some argue, are the standards too soft for women as compared to men?

SaltyValu™#NMR Collection Running Apparel

#NMR Running ApparelAt SaltyValu™ we know women runners are all about three things: fitness, beauty and shopping! By popular demand, we’ve combined all three of these elements to bring you #NMR – a new line of apparel just for the discerning SaltyValu™ woman! If you’ve loved fantastic SaltyValu™ products like our drug tests, our international sporting competition, our intense cross-training program or our clean eating diet cookbook, you’ll go berserk when you discover the fashion-forward options we’ve designed to ensure you look your absolute best while running … and always at an incredible price, that’s the SaltyValu™ guarantee!

What is #NMR? We’ve created a detailed profile and lookbook to get you excited to sign up for our low-cost monthly delivery service.

#NMR IS YOU

All great ideas start with great inspiration. Our designer Pimento wanted to create looks that remind us that all runners’ bodies are beautiful, so she turned to one of nature’s fiercest feminists, an animal that lives in colonies dominated by a single queen. The mother of the entire colony, she releases pheromones that leave her competitors with no sex drive, eliminating all her competition to be number one. She is a mother we can all support, a true ruler that we can emulate on the track or the roads. Best of all, these animals are completely unapologetic about their bodies.

Who is this noble creature?  Read more

North: The Brecksville Dip

“It’s the middle of the [race], when the excitement of the starting gun is a dim memory, and the joy of the finish line is a distant dream.”

– Seth Godin

Caitlin

Caitlin

They all knew it was coming. After nailing season or personal bests in every race so far this season, the North girls knew the Dip lay ahead and their streaks were likely coming to an end on the hills and in the mud of Brecksville. But even knowing it would happen did not take the sting away when they experienced it.

It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter how much talent or how hard you work, and it doesn’t matter how much luck is on your side, you will experience the Dip. You’ll experience the Dip or maybe many Dips over your running career, in one season, and even in each race. While often uncomfortable, if not downright painful, these Dips define us: are we going to be our best or are we going to settle?

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A Runner’s Guide to Inflammation

A gremlin from the movie, Gremlins.

Did someone say “INFLAMMATION”?

AHHH! Quick! Get some ice! Get some NSAIDs! Elevate the problem area! Hurry!

Wait … why are we hurrying?

Relax, dear runner. Inflammation doesn’t have to be a gremlin. In fact, if you take care of it well and don’t feed it after midnight, inflammation can be a protective little guy who helps keep you running right.  Read more

Recipes for Runners: Pimento’s Minestrone Soup

slack-for-ios-upload-30It’s fall, again. Time for all things pumpkin, boots, perfect weather for running and racing, and of course soup. Nothing caps off a long run or tough workout better than a runger-solving, soul-satisfying bowl of deliciousness that you can put in your food diary with pride. I’ve shared my recipe for my favorite kale salad before, and now that the temperatures have turned I find myself making big pots of soup at least once a week.

Maple gave us some great tips for meal prepping, and I consider making a large batch of this soup another form of meal prepping: left-overs for lunch for days! I didn’t put these click-bait terms in the title, but this soup can be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or omnivorous with just a few easy changes, and can even be made in a slow-cooker. Enjoy!

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Supplements, Doping, and You: What the Average Runner Needs to Know about Dope

imageWhen Olympic swimmer Lilly King waved her finger at a camera and accused Russian competitor Yulia Efimova of doping, it inspired conversations about how athletes respond to negative allegations against competitors, but also how exactly it was that Efimova allegedly doped. Most recently, she, along with fellow Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova and others, tested positive for the heart medication melodonium, prescribed to them by doctors. Efimova’s ban for this, her second offense, was ultimately lifted, allowing her to compete in Rio. But more importantly for our purposes, Yulia’s first doping ban came after she tested positive for DHEA, that she claims was, unbeknownst to her, in a supplement she bought at GNC.

If medication prescribed by a doctor or a supplement found on the shelf at a chain store in strip malls everywhere can almost ruin an Olympic swimmer’s career, what could that mean for you? Read more