Nutrimatix Badwater 135, Part I: Under A Pink Sky

Ready for action at crew and racer check-in.

Ready for action at crew and racer check-in.  Photo credit to AdventureCORPS.

There is a moment, however infinitesimal, right before water boils, and right before water freezes. A point at which a cataclysmic change is about to take place, yet still lies just below the surface. A point at which we have one last chance to change the direction of things, for better or for worse.

Or, to quote the lyrics of an Indigo Girls song: “how long ‘til my soul gets it right?”

I sang that song to myself running from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells. Not because my soul wasn’t right, but because my soul was right. I sang “Flashlight” to my crew even though I forgot to tell them. And even though Chris Kostman, the RD (understatement), said that music is a crutch (“IMHO”), I would have to argue that the 25th Anniversary recording of “Phantom of the Opera” with Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo is art. Especially underneath a blanket of stars.

But I digress already. Ah, Badwater. Land of digressions.

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Readers’ Roundtable: Would You Give Up Your Dream Job if it Prevented You from Running?

Does your job make you feel like this?  Does a big PR?

Does your job make you feel like this? Does a big PR?

Joining the International Cinematographer’s Guild as an assistant cameraperson was like crossing the finish line of a marathon I’d spent nearly a decade training for.  My dream job was always working on camera crews, and I made it!  Not everyone who has a dream can say that!

Then, this spring, I trained for the New Jersey Marathon while working on a television show and two pilots.  Imagine averaging 13 hours, 5 days a week on your feet in the elements, carrying heavy things, barely having time to pee and almost always in a stressful rush to prepare for the next problem. Now imagine training for a marathon on top of that.  I had a great success at the marathon, but sacrificed performance at work because I was overtired and physically run down.

Now I’m at a juncture where I’m starting to move up on the ladder, and simultaneously started training for the NYC Marathon.  Bad idea?  Probably.  My experience training for New Jersey taught me that something’s got to give.  And honestly if it’s between filmmaking and running…I’m thinking it might be time for a career change.

But is that insane, to give up my dream career for running?  There are lots of other reasons, but at my core what I truly want is to be able to balance my work life with my other passions, including the marathon.

What would you do? Would you give up your dream job if you had to give up running to keep doing it?  As always, answer in the comments!

5 Steps to a Perfectly Adequate Pedicure

fri5I know, I know this Friday 5 may be a little impractical for no-nonsense Salty Runners. We don’t care whether or not it sandal season or which type of nail art is hot right now. Some of us, like Ginger, even cringe at the idea of going out for a pedicure. So since we are a practical tribe of runners and definitely not slaves to fashion, why not just treat your toes to a little TLC in your own home with supplies that you probably already have?

I’m not calling this the “perfect” manicure, but it is perfectly adequate. No frills, just good maintenance. Think of the way that a massage is totally preventative care (which it is!).

So follow these short steps this weekend, and in 30 minutes or less you’ll be ready to hit the road again in no time with a new spring in your step. Read more

Fear and Rest Days

What do you mean run zero miles?! image via wikimedia.

What do you mean run zero miles?! image via wikimedia.

Rest is both literally and figuratively a four-letter word for many runners, including me. I hate zeros in my training log! I hate them even though I know I’ve read somewhere that rest and recovery are important elements of good training. Why do I hate rest days? Why is it so hard to relax on an off day? This was really bugging me, so I consulted The Great Salty Running Index for posts tagged rest, rest days, and recovery. And sure enough, in reading those posts, I stumbled on another four-letter word: fear.

What does fear have to do with hating rest days? As it turns out, a lot more than I could have ever imagined.

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Running on the Dark Side

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Yin and Yang. Light and dark. With the intense sun of most runners’ social media lives, you better believe there is an awful lot of darkness below the surface.

It’s always sunny in Social Mediaville! Other than a few of those whiner friends who you keep forgetting to block, Facebook is a land where everyone is always smiling and looking fantastic. When it comes to our runner friends and (let’s be honest) ourselves, we’re always running fast and feeling fan-effing-tastic in Social Mediaville. We tweet about how that race we ran was actually just a tempo and we could have totally gone faster if we wanted to. According to every status update, nothing ever hurts on our perfectly toned, tanned and runnerific bodies.

But come on! None of that is true. There is most definitely a very dark side to all of our running lives. Behind the cheery Instagrams, post-run selfies, and the one good race photo among thirty taken in every race, there is a runner who feels pain, poops in inappropriate places and just plain struggles. There is a dark side to our seemingly endless motivation, dedication, hard work and fit bods that lurks behind our sunny social media lives.

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Hands-free Hydration and a Giveaway!

Hoping you find one of these at the right moment ... that actually works is not good enough for me! Image via wikipedia.

Hoping you find one of these at the right moment (that actually works) is not good enough for me! Image via wikipedia.

For all you marathoners and half marathoners like me, August means our training for our big fall races is just beginning to heat up! It’s time for the longest of our long runs, our peak mileage weeks and our hardest workouts. There’s no better time to think about the importance of hydration for peak performance than right now!

So let’s get to it! I’m here to talk about how best to stay hydrated on your training runs and in races. But that’s not all! I’ve found a way to carry water with me on the run and I want to share not only why I find it fantastic, but I want one of you to win my water vessel of choice! WOOHOO! A CONTEST!  Read more

Readers’ Roundtable: Is Humility Minimizing Your Accomplishments?

Florence Joyner unabashedly celebrates her win at the 100m final at Seoul in 1988. Credit: Steve Powell, Getty Images via Zemanta

This week among the Salty bloggers, Sage shared an article about Amber Green, a mother of three who, over the course of 15 years and 31 marathons, reduced her time from 4:23:xx to an Olympic Trials qualifying 2:41:xx, and we all went nuts.  It was pretty unanimously agreed that Green is a badass.  We love this chick. She is awesome. It was also pretty unanimously agreed that she was, as the RW headline suggested was her goal, setting a great example for her kids.  Way to go, Amber Green!

However, one blogger brought up that it feels in the article as if Green is minimizing her accomplishments when RW quotes her: “Running is honestly my sanity and therapy.”  It “kept me from being depressed,” and, “really helped me give more to them [her children] instead of going crazy.”

Personally, I think those reasons for running would not get me to the trials.  So what would?  An unyielding, intense desire for glory.  And if I ever get to the trials, I will not tell you “oh, it all to set a good example for my nieces,” I will tell you “I did all that hard work because I am a running rockstar, and I wanted to let my light shine on the world.”  I believe there’s something really authentic about vanity.  Look at Flo-Jo there:  arms up, screaming, ready to have her photo taken for the Wheaties box…  Damn, it must feel good to be a gangsta.  I’d want everyone to know.

But we all say that stuff sometimes, right?  Someone compliments you on a race well run and you say, “Oh, well I was having an extra good day,” or “It wasn’t that much faster than last time,” or even just take the focus off yourself with, “Yeah…but did you see how great Bob did?” Does that kind of humble-speak make us seem gracious, or is it simply talking our accomplishments down?

What do you think, is it better to be humble, or to shout your success from the rooftops?  Is there a compromise here?  Do you think you would train hard like Amber Green without specifically seeking to reap the benefits for yourself?  And Amber, if we showed up on your Google alert, we would love to hear from you!  As always, we’ll take your answers in the comments.

5 Reasons Maine is Perfect For Runners

fri5In the summer I just can’t get travel out of my mind, and after Sage’s recent post about great places to run in the West, I figured the East could use a little love too!  So this weekend I’m headed as far east as I can go in the continental US – Maine!

When you take off on the road it’s great to run new trails and check out the local routes, but personally I like to plan around a race.  That way I not only get to take in the sights, I also get to feel competitive and accomplished.  This time, my “racecation” is planned around The Beach to Beacon 10K, where I’ll be racing toward the iconic Portland Head Light!

So with Maine on my mind, I decided to bring you this week’s Friday 5, all about why Maine is an excellent destination for your next runcation! Read more

Burning River 100 Mile Recap

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it might not look like it, but I am (still) having fun in this photo! (Photo credit: Pat Dooley)

In so many ways, the Burning River 100 mile ultramarathon exceeded my expectations.  It was harder than I imagined, of course, but the course through the Cuyahoga Valley in Ohio was exceptionally beautiful.  The support from my Salty Running crew (led by Crew Chief Salty) provided the support I needed before, during, and after the race and my amazing pacers kept me moving forward, no matter how slowly, and my mood positive. Finally, finishing the race felt almost transcendent.  For the first time in a race, I truly did not know until I actually crossed the finish line that I could do it, and crossing it and hearing my name from the announcer was a deeply emotional experience. From my arrival in Ohio to when I left, the experience was one that I will never forget, and that experience goes beyond the race itself, and is the result of the amazing support and friendship from Salty, Ginger, Jasmine, Pacer Sean, and Kevin.  You guys rock!

Now, since that was rather more sappy than I usually am, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details of the race.  For the faint-hearted or squeamish, please be warned that this recap may be more than you wanted to know about me and ultra running.  Grandma, this means you might not want to read this.

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The Feldenkrais Method for Running

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Yesterday, Sage told us about a different way to look at doctors in her post about functional medicine. Today, I’m going to tell you about a different way to look at exercise.

Imagine your runner body as a relationship between your brain and your muscles where the brain is the boss and your muscles are the employees. When we run, our brains order our muscles to work! But what if this relationship is dysfunctional? What if the brain isn’t a very good boss and the muscles are lazy, inefficient employees? What if there was a way to rehabilitate your brain into an effective leader that gets the most out of your muscles?

There might be: the Feldenkrais Method. This exercise program, popular with dancers, might just be the key to getting your runner body working efficiently! Read more

Functional Medicine for Runners: The Diagnostic Phase

Ute Art Rock, Arches National Park, Moab, UT (thinking about ancestral health)

Ute Art Rock, Arches National Park, Moab, UT (thinking about ancestral health)

Are you satisfied with your annual medical physical? Does your doctor look at your vitals and latest blood panels and respond  “everything looks fine” without any details? Does she focus on the specific symptom you’ve described without considering your overall health, nutrition, and lifestyle? Do you even know what is the basis for “normal” or “fine” within the US population: is it the fit and healthy adult, the slightly overweight person who walks occasionally, or the sedentary obese person? So you may have normal results within the huge range the average doctor considers is normal, but are those results normal for you?

Wouldn’t it be nice to see a doctor who takes a patient-centered approach, rather than a disease-centered approach to health care, one who understands the individuality of each patient? If you’re not satisfied with the standard of care of conventional medicine and are looking for a new perspective, functional medicine may be for you. Read more

Readers Roundtable: What’s the Hardest Race You’ve Ever Run

Appropriate lounge wear for post-epic-running adventure time. Click the image to go buy the shirt from Sun Frog Shirts (who we are in no way affiliated with. We just like the shirt)!

Appropriate lounge wear for post-epic-running adventure time. Click the image to go buy the shirt from Sun Frog Shirts (who we are in no way affiliated with. We just like the shirt)!

I’m writing with the last ounce of energy I have after an epic Burning River 100 weekend! (I may or may not be exaggerating.) I woke up at 3:20 a.m. Saturday to take Cilantro to the starting line for her first 100 mile race! Then I ran 11.6 miles as part of an 8-amazing-woman relay before high-tailing it out to crew, I met Jasmine around the 50k mark and from there we went from aid station to aid station, picking up Saffron for a little while along the way as we made sure Cilantro had everything she needed to continue on and keep her spirits high. After a rest Jasmine and I came back out to work with Ginger to do everything we could to get Cilantro to the finish.

I’ll let Cilantro tell you the rest of her story (and you’ll hear more of mine later in the week when I get around to writing my training log), except to say that it was an amazing experience to witness her tackle all this newness and the surprises and ups and downs along her 100 mile journey. It was truly epic and I have the complete exhaustion to prove it!

Oh yes! This is a Readers Roundtable! All this does actually bring me to that. Witnessing Cilantro attack this incredible challenge and thinking about Clove getting ready for her biggest one yet got me thinking about my hardest race ever, which got me wondering about yours. So in the spirit of epic running adventures, tell us: what’s the hardest race you’ve ever run?

5 Last-Chance Activities for Your Summer Running Bucket List

fri5Every year, as summer approaches I write a list of all the awesome amazing things I hope to accomplish. And every year, near the end of July I start feeling panicky that summer is almost over and I’ve hardly done anything on the list! And here I am at the end of this particular July and as usual I am trying to cram in all sorts of warm weather fun before fall rolls around. Sure I have things like take my son to the zoo and clean and organize this or that on my list, but I also have a complete list of running items I’ve yet to check off my summer bucket list. I best get cracking!

Here are the 5 things that should be on all our running bucket lists this summer. Read more

Crewing Badwater: The Toughest Race You’ve Never Run

DB's 2013 crew at the Badwater Basin.

DB’s 2013 crew at the Badwater Basin.

There’s a common acronym for the word “crew” in the ultrarunning world:  Cranky Runner, Endless Waiting.  Well, I’m going to be doing my very best not to be cranky (it’s quite rude to the person who’s literally serving you), but the waiting can indeed be endless, especially at Badwater.  So what exactly does a Badwater crew do, and how is it different from “regular” crewing?  All the answers here for our Salty Readers today!

First up, some quick notes on the event itself:  while Badwater and AdventureCORPS, the company that puts on the event, have a top-of-the-line medical staff, a live webcast and social media team, roving race officials, seven timing checkpoints, and photographers and videographers, there is no official aid in the form of food and water offered on the course. This is because of the immense distance of the race, the vast spread between runners, and because, quite simply, volunteers running traditional “aid stations” every few miles would keel over and die from the heat.

Therefore, all of your foods, fluids, do-it-yourself medical and special needs are YOUR responsibility.  Except they’re really your crew’s responsibility, and your crew is your lifeline.  As stated in one of my previous posts:  without your crew, you DNF or die.  Your crew – along with your stuff – travels the entire course with you in a van, leapfrogging you every two or more miles.  Each Badwater entrant is required to have two crew members, and allowed up to four.  Think you can just divide and conquer?  Think again.  Here’s what life is really like for a Badwater crew member. Read more

Summer Running Reads: “Older, Faster, Stronger,” Margaret Webb’s Super-fit Year

Click on the photo to purchase the book!

Click on the photo to purchase the book!

We bloggers at Salty Running, love running and writing, of course. So naturally, we also love reading about running. If you’re looking for one more book to add to your summer reading list, I have a great one for you: Margaret Webb’s book, “Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All about Living Younger, Longer, which chronicles her quest to become stronger, fitter and faster, at the age of fifty, than her younger self. After years of neglect (including being a smoker and slightly overweight), but with several marathons under her belt, could she become “super-fit?” Could she participate in the World Masters Games at Turin, Italy, in the half marathon, competing against elite masters runners? Could she turn back the clock and enter her “second act” in the best shape of her life? Read more