Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sitting down with Joan Benoit Samuelson

Over 26.2 with DONNA weekend I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with an icon of women's running, Joan Benoit Samuelson. Winner of the first Women's Olympic Marathon gold medal, two time Boston Marathon champ, and owner of a myriad of other running accolades, Joan has been a leader in women's running for over 30 years. For an hour we sat down and discussed life, training, and what has kept her running for so long.
Holly, Joan, Myself, and Marcia at the Expo.
I'll admit, I was a little nervous heading into our chat. Growing up a town over from Joan, I've known who she is since I was very young and have even seen her out on training runs from time to time. Though I was only 3 when she won the gold medal in LA, I've always been inspired by her athletic accomplishments and she's served as a role model for this little girl growing up in a small town in Maine that anything is really possible. Fortunately for me (and my nerves), Joan is down to earth, humble, and affable. Throughout the hour in which we spoke, I was constantly impressed by the calm simplicity with which she approaches all things.
Sitting down with Holly and Joan.
When it comes to running, Joan is the embodiment of her longtime sponsor NIKE's iconic slogan. She just does it. With no training plan or schedule, she runs and trains on feel. When I asked her about weekly mileage, cross training, or events, her response was simply "It depends".  On days she is busy, she runs faster or fewer miles. She takes days off when she doesn't feel well and above all, she listens to her body. In a time where there so much emphasis on training plans and workout specifics, it's refreshing to hear an accomplished athlete not complicate the process. She cross trains and attributes her upper body strength to two of her other favorite activities: Nordic skiing and gardening. The calm, simplicity of her approach to running reinforced what I'd always suspected: she is truly a naturally gifted runner.
One thing I was most interested to talk to Joan about was her longevity. Not only has she been running competitively for 30+ years, but she has been running well, winning awards and setting records all along the way. For Joan, it's all about balance. One element of life can't dominate too much. Joan maintains a strong balance between family, training, and work and even finds ways to integrate them. In 2014, for the 30th anniversary of her Olympic win, Joan ran the Boston Marathon with her two children with the goal of all finishing within 30 minutes of each other (they did). At this point in her career she is most motivated by stories and always looks for what her story is in each race. In 2008 at the Olympic trials, her story was to run under 2:50 at age 50 (she did), and at the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10, it was the 25th anniversary of her victory there. For her it's more than just the running, it's about the story behind the running.
Joan pulls inspiration from everyday runners. She feels that everyone who runs, from the 5k to the marathon, is a runner and doesn't like the word 'just' went talking about distances (i.e. don't discredit yourself). You aren't running 'just the half', you are running the half. When I asked if she would be running the half or full at 26.2 with DONNA, she was undecided at that point. While her current race goal is Boston in April, she was considering running the full during DONNA weekend but as an easy training pace. When I pried and asked what that pace might be, she said because of the all of the snow this year in Maine she didn't have a good gage on her fitness but would probably around 3:30 marathon.
Earlier in the day at the shake out run.
I left our chat inspired, motivated, and a bit stunned that it happened. Joan is great ambassador for the sport by being approachable, open, and honest as well as incredibly talented. Her longevity in running is enviable, her continued success is unmatched, and the easy marathon pace she ran at DONNA (3:10) something I could only dream of.

Who or what inspires you? What motivates you most about running?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

RunDONNA 5k Recap

DONNA 5k and Family Fun Run Jacksonville, FL
Field: ~1400
Spectators: Minimal on course, but there's a nice crowd at the start/finish. The participants are rather festive and encouraging throughout the race.
Start/Finish: Prime Osborn Convention Center, location of the expo
Course: Loop course through downtown Jacksonville and along the river
Schwag: T-shirt and running ribbon medal. I love the shirt logo this year. Too cute.
Other: Along with the family fun run the RunDONNA 5k is a great way to get family members and spectators involved in the weekend who might not be ready or want to run in the longer races on Sunday. It also includes a costume contest. Need I say more.
Coming into the finish with my #BreastFriends Holly B and Krissy!
Though I frequently state my dislike for the 5k, I do like races for fun with a group or a good reason to look like a complete nut and this race had both. Last year, the RunDONNA Ambassador team ran the 5k together in silly chaos and this year I expected no different. With the race taking place on Valentine's Day, I was quick to decide (like October quick) that I would dress as a large Conversation Heart if I reached my fundraising goal (last year I wore a Bridesmaid's dress when I hit it). I am also nothing if not competitive, so when I heard they'd added a costume contest, it was on. I mentioned to a few that my goal was to look like a giant, running pinata. I'm not sure if they thought I was serious or not, but it's safe to say a simple slogan on a t-shirt wasn't going to be enough for me. After that it was just a matter of designing construction and crushing my fundraising goal.
With some of my favorite running buddies, Krissy and Donna, on race day.
As race day approached, I was stressed. No, not about that whole shin splits thing and if my body was ready for 30+miles over the weekend. I was stressed about my costume. While I had smashed my fundraising goal (Thank you all again!), I was having serious issues finding a box big enough to be the base for my heart. Low and behold, mere days before the event, I found one near the shipping department at work. I hurriedly carried it out to the car and promptly found it wouldn't fit. Yes, it was that big! Cue a scene of me attempting to deconstruct it in the middle of the parking garage during the lunch break rush. A true professional moment.
Scenes from heart construction. Apparently fitting it in the car was not
considered heavily enough during the design phase.

As construction began, I emailed the Jayhawk photos for a second opinion. His main concern was that I couldn't use my arms and in the event I tripped (a solid concern with me) I would inevitably face plant. I trimmed it down a few inches (originally it was several inches bigger in every direction causing me to get stuck in a doorway at our house), and thanks to a box cutter and a whole lot of hot glue, the Conversation Heart was born.
Ending up on Joan Benoit Samuelson's Instagram? Year made.
Come race day, I was excited and a bit nervous. I never had a chance to test run the heart and was concerned about it's structural integrity. Would it make it 5k? Would I make it 5k? Would I chaffe so badly that I'd suffer the next day in the marathon? All important questions that quickly faded away when I arrived at the start. The pink. The people. The smiles. The inspiration of the survivor bibs. The buzz of race day. I was pumped to shimmy into that cardboard contraption and attempt to run my heart out (not out of my heart).
During the first mile with my fellow Ambassadors. (Thanks for the pic, Reist. Check out his site for video!)
The race started with some pre-race warm ups lead by former Jacksonville Jaguar David Gerrard. To say squats were challenging in the heart would be an understatement. I only wish there was video of my attempts! Shoulder shrugs we also unique as I couldn't lift my hands above my hips. But nonetheless, feeling adequately warmed up/concerned about my ability to move, off we headed to the starting line!
Rocking some sweet arm circles and shoulder shrugs during warm ups.
The race went well. The course winds it way through downtown Jacksonville and along the riverfront. It was a perfect morning to race (thank heavens it wasn't hot as the heart was not well ventilated) and I thoroughly enjoyed greeting my fellow runners and touring the city. I did have a few challenges on course: breezes were especially difficult, and I couldn't drink at water stops without some help (Thanks for the drink Krissy!).
Cruising by the river with Holly.
Krissy, Holly, and I finished in 32:06, a PR for running in a large cardboard costume for sure and one I'm not in a rush to break. We cheered on our fellow runners, took tons of photos, and prepped for the the long awaited announcement of the Costume Contest winners.
With Marcia, Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillvray, and DONNA Race Director Amanda.
Sadly, I got second place in the costume contest. For reals. Another runner dressed up as a self breast exam and she won. I won a Major Award/snappy pair of sunglasses made in Jacksonville, and I haven't taken them off since. I guess I'll have to go back next year to take the title, but maybe I can recycle the heart for the 26.2 with DONNA Marathon on Valentine's next year! 
Showing some serious game face during the Costume Contest, my major award, award in action.
 Rehydrating post race and milling about the Expo.

Have I mentioned that I love this race and weekend? Do you ever race in costume?

Monday, February 23, 2015

RunDONNA Shake out Run

Last year I missed out on a few events during RunDONNA weekend, and this year I was determined to make up for that. One event in particular, the Friday Shake out run, I was really sad to miss and I was most looking forward to being apart of during this year. Starting last year, RunDONNA hosts a shake out run with all their special guests and it's open to everyone on a first come, first serve basis. That means you can spend your morning jogging with Joanie, enjoy a cup of Joe with Jeff Galloway, and contemplating qualifying times with Dave McGilvray. Not a bad way to kick off your weekend with an inspiring and motivating morning with a great group of talented people.
Runners and coffee. Always a good pairing. (Source)
In order to make it to our 8am run date on Friday, the Jayhawk and I packed up after work Thursday night arriving in Jacksonville in time to catch some shut eye. Of course we slept through the alarm and nearly missed the whole event, leading to some frantic running around that morning (this is also why I look like I just woke up in all the photos because I did). Thank goodness we still made it just in time.
Finishing up the run with the Jayhawk.

The Where

This year the shake out run was hosted by Lillie's Coffee bar in Neptune Beach, a great spot to refuel after a couple of fun miles. From there we ran through the beach communities of Neptune and Atlantic beach. A nice out and back 3 miler (or more for those who blew ahead at a very quick shake out speed, i.e. Joanie, Alana, and Donna's husband Tim), the run gave everyone a chance to run with different partners, learn about why they were there, and get some cool, crisp beach air. I ran with the Jayhawk and fellow Ambassador Melissa and her husband. Melissa is a two time breast cancer survivor who frequents 26.2 with DONNA with her family (they meet in the late miles and cross the finish line together). Her enthusiasm for running, and passion for the cause is downright infectious.

With Melissa, when we are all cleaned up. 
The Who

Alana Hadley: Alana is a 2:38 marathoner and winner of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November, striving for an Olympic A qualifier at 26.2 with DONNA (note: she dropped at mile 8 with an Achilles injury).  Oh, did I mention that she just turned 18 years old in January and is a high school senior?! Mature beyond her years, Alana logs ~110 miles a week while going to school and plans on attending UNC-Charlotte. She is coached by her dad (who joins her on runs on his bike) and is absolutely delightful to talk to. Impressive and inspiring, I am so excited to see what the future holds for Alana. I'll start her fangirl group.
Myself, Krissy, and Alana enjoying a post run snack.
Joan Benoit Samuelson: The first ever women's Olympic gold medalist, champion of both the Boston (2x) and Chicago marathons, incredibly down to earth human being, and proud Mainer, Joanie is an icon of women's running. Though it was a bit chilly by Florida standards on shake out morning, Joanie was just happy their was no snow.  I didn't chat with her long at the shake out run (I had the opportunity to sit down with her later in the day and will save that for another post), but one of my favorite moments was seeing her and Alana run together (an awesome sign for the future of US Women's distance running).
Coffee with one of my fellow Mainers (Almost photobomb by Dave McGillvry).
Jeff Galloway: Olympian and namesake for the Galloway Method, Jeff and his wife Barb are the cutest. No seriously, the cutest. We chatted for a few minutes at the run and then had dinner together on Saturday at the Mayo Dinner (Nothing like double dating with the Galloways on Valentine's Day). They both remain incredibly active through running trips and race appearances, and loves to see people begin to run and enjoy it. It's always fun to get a thumbs up from Jeff.
The Jayhawk, Jeff, and I bringing a little ATL to Jacksonville.
Dave Krupski: Winner of last year's DONNA 110, Dave was back to defend his title. The DONNA 110 starts Saturday morning and runs a loop course for 84 miles before taking a break (if time allows) before joining the 26.2 with DONNA start on Sunday morning, for a total of 110 miles. Dave not only won again, but also PR'd the 50 miler, ran a 3:28 marathon, and even stopped for a beer around mile 75. His recap is awesome (read it here) and I would be lying if I didn't say the 110 is on my bucket list.
Dave McGillvray, Dave Krupski, and Chris Twiggs (member of the DONNA board and Galloway team)
Dave McGillvray: Race director for the Boston Marathon and talent runner in his own right, I didn't get as much time as I hoped to talk to Dave (he doesn't think he is that much of a 'pull' and shied away from the crowd), but it is safe to say he is a solid runner. He not only runs the Boston Marathon every year after everyone finishes, but he also runs his age every year on his birthday. I dream of being this in shape when I am 40 (P.S. he is 60).

Donna: Yep, that Donna. Perhaps one of the most energetic and determined people I know, Donna's a 3 time cancer survivor and committed breast cancer advocate (her scientific knowledge of the disease is impressive). She not only is the face and name of the organization but incredibly approachable and available throughout the weekend. She is constantly greeting runners and chatting with survivors with a huge smile on her face.
Donna, a former evening anchor, interviewing with the morning show about the weekend while we pretend to be quiet (we were mildly successful).

Have you ever participate in a shake out or a meet-up at a race? Do you like meeting guests at race weekends?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Five: RunDONNA Edition

1. One big ole Thank you. Thank all of you! Thank you for the kind words, the support during my shin issues, your donations, everything. Not only did I shatter my fundraising goal of $1500, I had a healthy, happy weekend of running.
2. Two Olympians. I had the chance to chat with two Olympians during the weekend and learned a lot about both of their approaches to running, training, and life. It's fascinating to learn what inspires and motivates people who have accomplished so much. Of course I will be sharing more about what I learned.
Some of my favorite ladies to run with.
3. Three Runs. I participated in 3 separate runs over the weekend (3 mile shake out run on Friday, 5k on Saturday, and Marathon Sunday) and am eager to recap all of them. Be on the lookout for a posting bonanza next week.
I love long, slow runs on the beach. And donuts. 
4. Four New Things. Once again, I tried new things on marathon race day. 4 new things infact and some of them are pretty big (running style, running plan, running buddy, and a new fuel). Though it may sound crazy, I decided to experiment since this wasn't a goal race and I was undertrained due to my shin trouble around New Year's. I learned a bit more about what I like, how different things can be helpful, and how much I've grown in the marathon.

5. 5 Million (roughly) sources of inspiration. One of the many things I love about 26.2 with DONNA is that no matter where you turn, you find countless sources of inspiration. Runners, Survivors, fans, volunteers, families. All inspiring. It's hard to come away from the race with anything less than a smile, full heart, and renewed sense of hope.
There are several large banner that you can sign at the expo. These banners are placed along the beach miles of the race for a little added inspiration.

How was your week? Do you like trying new things on race day?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

I'm linking up with Beth from Running with the Sunrise for Wordless Wednesday today. Just a quick glimpse of my weekend. Full Recaps coming!
Two Mainers after the 5k. I ran my pace, not hers. :)
How was your weekend?

Monday, February 9, 2015

26.2 with DONNA Training week 11

It goes to 11. Not only did my training reach week 11, but we started off the week celebrating Mia Monster's 11th birthday!

This week's miles are sponsored by Mark A from my Miles for Dollars campaign.  Thank you so much Mark for your support! Sorry for the delay, but I got in all your miles in one week!

Monday: I've been working hard to take my rest days seriously, and it's been helping. I spent today's rest day finishing up my first shipment of #Treats4Tatas!  Thanks to everyone who joined in on it. It was a great success and I hope you enjoy your treats!
Actual: Rest

Tuesday: I decided to push the pace a little for the first time during recovery. Also the gym got rid of some treadmills while it awaits delivery of new ones, so it's a bit of a cluster in there after work with more people than machines. It was more of a workout than I hope 9:11 pace would be, but nothing hurt and I felt like I had a lot more to give. Progress!
Actual: 3.1 miles running (9:11/mile pace)

Wednesday: After a nice bike workout, I decided to get in some living room yoga during the Bruins vs Rangers game. Sure, it wasn't your typical serene yoga environment and I had to modify a few poses to see the TV, but I posed and stretched for the entire first period (including play stoppage).  The Bruins were leading after the first so I must have been bringing them luck, but went on to lose. :( Next time, yoga for the whole game.
Actual: 30 minutes cycling (19.5 miles/hr pace); 40 minutes yoga

Thursday: Back on the treadmill for an easy, no excitement workout. Everything went well.
Actual: 4 miles running (9:25/mile pace)

Friday: As I am nearing the end of my fundraising campaign, I issued a challenge to my friends. If I hit my fundraising goal before race day, I will run the 5k dressed as a conversation heart. Still deciding what to write on it. My personal favorite are "Your pace or mine?" or "Does this heart make me look fast?"
Actual: Rest

Saturday: First double digits run of the year! I met up with some of my fellow Atlanta running bloggers for a 10 miler and brunch. I had the pleasure of running with Amy who volunteered at the Galloway water stop with me and is running the half at 26.2 with DONNA next week! I had a great time.
Actual: 10 miles running (11:31/mile pace)

Sunday: First outdoor run alone. I've been nervous about this because I tend to push the pace when I am running outside especially when I'm unsupervised. It was a beautiful day and it felt so good to be outside! I picked a hillier route that I should have for recovery, but everything went well and it's safe to say my legs are starting to get in the hang of it again!
Actual: 3.1 miles running (8:51/mile pace)
What is your favorite running conversation heart? Have you ever done two races in one weekend?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

January Recap

Miles: 34.8 miles running; 40.84 miles cycling; 3h22min elliptical
Races: None!

Highpoint of the month: Getting to go for my first run of the year! It was equal parts nerve wracking and exciting, and over before I knew it.
Not so highpoint: Reducing my running. This was my lowest mileage month in a very long time, and while I know it was needed for proper recovery, it was still a bit frustrating. I do think I did a good job adding in other activities so I didn't get stir crazy, but it's clear that running is still my favorite form of exercise. No fear, I won't become a triathlete anytime soon. :)
I can't do half the poses in my yoga book, but I keep on trying.
January Adventure: With my reduced running, it was difficult to plan any adventures, but in the end, the whole month became an adventure for me. I experimented with cross training, didn't log an outdoor mile until the last day of the month, and the Jayhawk logged more miles than me for the first time ever! I hope to bring a little more excitement to my adventures in the coming months, but it is what it is and that's what was possible for January. Also, celebrating Christmas in the middle of January is a fun adventure if you ever try it. Last minute shopping is so much easier!
I'm a little excited for the 5k.
What I am looking forward to next month: Hmm, what's going on next month.... Oh wait! It's finally time for 26.2 with DONNA! I bet you are all excited that I will finally stop talking about it! :) There are a lot of fun events this year and I am excited to take part in some that I missed out on last year. I promise a full recap! I recently found out that I am lucky enough to have the chance to interview both Joan Benoit Samuelson and Dave McGillvray so if you have any questions you are dying to ask them, let me know!
Got to catch up with my fellow Mainer about how things are going in the homeland.
How was your January? Anything exciting coming up in February?

Monday, February 2, 2015

26.2 with DONNA Training Week 10

Finally back into a regular rhythm! That only took a month. This week I added a few more firsts for the year including first week with 4 runs, first outdoor run, and first runs under 9:30 pace. Overall, it was another week of progress and what's not to be happy about with that?!

This weeks miles were once again sponsored by Frank from his wonderful support for 26.2 with DONNA during my Miles for Dollars campaign. I finished up Frank's miles this week (with a couple of bonus miles for good measure).

Monday: I'm concentrating on having two rest days and at least one cross training day a week.
Actual: Rest

Tuesday: I woke up excited to run. Unfortunately, I run after work, so I had to wait all day. But I did celebrate my excitement and ability to run by wearing compression socks to work. I kind of felt like super man with them on under my work clothes, ready to go for a run at any second.
Actual: 4 miles running (9:33/mile pace)
Wednesday: My back was tight and I just couldn't seem to get it to relax. I decided on lots of slow home yoga as my form of cross training for the day. It was really helpful and I was overdue for a long stretching session.
Actual: 30 minutes yoga; foam rolling
My hair has a life of its own at this point.
Thursday: Back to the treadmill for another 4 miler. I'm having no pain during runs which is very encouraging and I am trying to keep on top of my recovery activities. Compression is my friend!
Actual: 4 miles running (9:26/mile pace)

Friday: Back to the regular routine of rest on Friday. I do like relaxing on Fridays after a busy week! It's a reward for making it through.
Actual: Rest

Saturday: First outdoor run of the year! Took all the way until the last day of January, but I headed out join a group for a slow 4 miler. Obviously I haven't been doing a lot of winter running as I was a bit underdressed for the cool weather (I originally left the house without gloves or a coat). I was so happy to be running outside, I didn't let it bother me.
Actual: 4 miles running (9:45/mile pace)
Half asleep rocking my new Atlanta Track Club hat. 31 isn't bad if you dress for it. Oops.
Sunday: It was windy and rainy, so I headed indoors. I also wanted to keep it flat after yesterday's hilly run (it's almost impossible to have a non-hilly run in this city). Legs felt good, but I'm starting to want to push the pace. Need to find new ways to occupy myself on the treadmill. Recommendations?
Actual: 4 miles running (9:25/mile pace)
How was your week?
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