More 261 Fearless news!

I am so looking forward to the 261 Fearless Train the Trainer Certification course in Boston – and you do not have to be a 261 Fearless ambassador to apply!  I cannot wait to start a 261 Fearless Club in Western New York!  Join me the end of October!

261 Fearless

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Boston Fearless!

As most of you know, I am a (very) proud 261 Fearless Ambassador.  Kathrine Switzer is the ultimate running role model.  I urge everyone to read the story of how she became the first woman to register for and run the Boston Marathon.  (Her book Marathon Woman is a must read!)  She was able to finish even after one of the race directors tried to (very) physically remove her from the race.  Fifty years later she is being honored at the 2017 Boston Marathon, and she is going to run the marathon too!  As a relative newbie runner who happens to be in excess of 50 years old, I am in awe of this woman.  On top of being a fantastic runner and fierce advocate for women’s running, she also is one of the kindest people I ever have met.

Kathrine is sharing her honor at Boston with the women’s running community.  Women can apply for a charity bib to run the Boston Marathon without a time qualification.  AND you get to start the race WITH Kathrine!  If you want to run Boston and be part of the celebration of one of the most significant events in women’s running history, I urge you to look into applying for a bib!  The charity  is Kathrine’s own 261 Fearless, self-described as:

Pronounced TWO-SIX-ONE Fearless, we are a global supportive community which empowers women to connect and take control of their lives through the freedom gained by running. Through a series of non-competitive running clubs and private communication channels, we provide networking, healthy running support and education, and a sisterhood to women all over the world.

It is the mission of 261® Fearless to bring active women together through a global supportive community – allowing fearless women to pass strength gained from running and walking onto women who are facing challenges and hence sparking a revolution of empowerment.  261® is the symbol that unites us as empowered runners and walkers.

Run Boston with Kathrine Switzer!

Random thoughts about (1) feminism, (2) shattering glass ceilings and (3) running in a sport bra.

 

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(1) I never really thought about myself being a feminist. I was too young (being born in 1963) when, in the 1960’s, the “second wave” of feminism began. (The “first wave” mostly being encompassed by women fighting for the right to vote.) What an exciting yet I’m sure confusing time to be a woman! Some of the basic goals of these feminists were equal pay for equal work, an end to domestic violence, women in managerial jobs, an end to sexual harassment, and sharing of responsibility for housework and child rearing. How sad that 50+ years later, women still are fighting these battles!

So many notable events occurred during this “second wave”; a great timeline can be found at Second Wave Feminism Timeline

The “third wave” of feminism began in the 1990’s, and continues to work for equal pay, reproductive rights, and to end violence against women.

I am so grateful for all of the brave feminists who fought and continue to fight so I (and my daughters) have a fair shot in life. That’s all we can ask for, and all we expect. Looking at my daughters now, so independent and with fierce opinions on social issues, I guess I raised two feminists. I’m proud to be one too.  And how lucky are we to have a President who wrote an essay on feminism that will be published in Glamour Magazine, stating that it is men’s duty to fight sexism. This dictionary definition is spot on, and describes the core of the feminist agenda from day one – equality to men.

feminism
/ˈfeməˌnizəm/
noun
1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

I suppose this post was inspired by recent events. In May and July, I was fortunate enough, in my position as a 261 Fearless Ambassador, to be able to spend some time with Kathrine Switzer at two running events. Kathrine is a true pioneer for women. If you don’t know her story, I encourage you to go to 261 Fearless and read all about her. It is impossible to not be inspired by Kathrine, whether you are listening to her speak to a large group or in private conversation. I encourage all women to join the 261 Fearless movement to get inspired and get moving!

As an added bonus, the running event in May was held in Seneca Falls, New York, the location of the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 and known as the birthplace of women’s rights. There is so much history to be found here, in additional to an excellent 19k race (special distance for the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote) and 5k race. May, 2017 will mark the second annual Right to Run event weekend, and will be extra special because it marks the 100th anniversary of New York State granting women the right to vote. Check out Right to Run and join me next May!

(2) Glass ceilings were shattered last week as Hillary Clinton became the first woman to receive the presidential nomination from a major political party. You don’t have to support her or even like her to recognize that THIS IS BIG. As of January, 2015, there were 22 female world leaders in power. How is it possible that it took the United States so long? I thought we were such a forward-thinking country, but when I read the negative and downright hateful remarks and comments on social media that have nothing to do with the qualifications of the candidate, but relate to appearance, speaking, etc., it’s maddening. Sometimes I feel like I am being dragged back to the time before the “second wave” of feminism!

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My hope is that with the Obama presidency and the Clinton nomination, we can continue moving forward, basing our opinions on fact (let’s start using Snopes before we post, people, I beg of you!). Don’t believe everything you read – do your own research and make informed decisions.

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(3) Lately I am seeing posts encouraging women to run in just a sports bra, shirtless, with the hashtag #sportsbrasquad, challenging women to “shed your shirt and actually enjoy your summer runs”. This “squad” has to do with accepting your body and not being self-conscious, which of course we all need to do. I myself have good days and bad days in that regard.  But I don’t need to join a squad or run in my sports bra to make a statement about accepting myself and I don’t have to prove my self-acceptance to anyone. Therefore, I’m declining this challenge, as running in my sports bra has nothing to do with my image of my own body, and frankly it doesn’t sound that appealing to me. I like my running shirts, with their inspirational and funny sayings. I like how my running shirts wick the sweat off me (because I sweat a lot!) so it doesn’t run into my bottoms. I like how my running shirts protect parts of me from getting sunburned, because that sun block does not last when I’m sweating. I like using my running shirt to wipe sweat out of my eyes. I’m comfortable in my running shirt. So I guess I won’t make the #sportsbrasquad, but that’s okay. If you want to run shirtless, go for it! Lots of men do it, and I doubt many of them care what people may be thinking. In today’s world, with all that is happening, we should be beyond the point of this discussion. If you decide to run shirtless, do it because it’s right for you. The key word in self-acceptance is “self”—do what you want to do, what makes you feel comfortable. Make your own decisions. Pave your own path. Don’t wait for someone else to pave it for you.

 

 

Coming to terms with my first DNF

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I belong to several running communities, and follow them all on Facebook. It is amazing to me how many of us are going down with injuries this summer. From minor issues to major issues, we are being forced to modify our running to adapt to our medical issues.

Personally, this year I have had several DNS races due to continuing problems from a car accident last September, and new issues that have emerged as I have modified to try to accommodate those injuries. The most humbling incident for me was at the Sehgahunda trail marathon, in Letchworth Park, New York, self-described:

“Sehgahunda is the REAL DEAL. It may just be one of the hardest trail marathons in the east. It’s 26.3 miles of single track trails, over 3000 feet of climbing, with more than 100 gullies that need to be traversed”

I was ill-prepared for this marathon, as I live in a very flat area of New York, and was not running regularly due to neck and back pain. On race day I was very excited to give it a whirl; unfortunately, the weather was excruciatingly hot, and there was no air flow on the trail. Getting to and from the checkpoints was so difficult – grass up to my waist and higher, and shoe-sucking mud beneath. I was not prepared for the severe declines and inclines, and each leap over a gully made me wince from pain. I made it to checkpoint 3 before it was decided that I (and many, many others) should not continue. Of the 300 entrants, there were only 206 finishers.

I was out there for 4:19:13 for 16 miles. Should I have pushed through the last 10+ miles? That question haunted me for a while. The way things were deteriorating, I probably would have been on the trail another 2 ½ to 3 hours at least. I may not have even made the 8 hour cut off. When I brought this up with my chiropractor, he affirmed that I made absolutely the correct decision. I was dehydrated, tired and in pain. I know I set myself back medically by doing 16 miles; now, I also have an issue with my hip. Doing the extra 10+ may have been satisfying at the moment I crossed the finish line, but I am sure I would have regretted it in the long run.

Hopefully I am learning from these experiences. Instead of being disappointed in myself, I should be proud that I completed 16 miles of the toughest race I have ever attempted, and while injured. I also learned that I do enjoy trail running, but maybe not to the extreme of this particular race. I became very nervous on the steep downhills when someone would come barreling up behind me. Sometimes there was nowhere to go to allow people to pass (the women start earlier than the men, but then some of the men end up catching up pretty quickly and passing some of the women). This just was not my race.

It has taken me six weeks to write about this. I am such a stubborn person and not finishing something I start is very frustrating for me. Reading all the stories my fellow runners have been posting on Facebook about their setbacks and comebacks has really helped me accept that my DNF is just another part of my growth as a runner. So thanks to all of you!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Maybe I’m a little late, but I feel like this is an appropriate greeting. A lot has changed for me since my last post – both my physical self and my perspective.

 

I’m continuing to work on my back issues since the September car accident. I have added medical massage to the chiropractic and I think I am continuing to improve. While Dr. Steve works at keeping me aligned, the massage is getting at some muscle points that still have not eased up; as she says, “hard as rocks”. I have added a stand up desk at my job and also purchased a stand up table for home. It took a while for my legs to get used to standing so much, but I definitely think it is better. I finished off a few races to the end of the year (I will review them separately), but otherwise really took it easy as far as running is concerned.

 

As the holidays approached, I was feeling overwhelmed with the traveling for races and holiday preparations. Then our beloved dog Samwise died unexpectedly over Thanksgiving weekend, and everything just felt “off”.

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After Christmas, I still wasn’t feeling myself. That’s when I sat down to re-think what I could do to feel better, do better. I wanted to be excited about the future, not just plan it and do it. I decided to get running again, but take it easy. No worries about speed, just get it done. I signed up for the 2,016 miles in 2016 challenge. I am on a three person team for running miles, but I personally am trying to achieve 2,016 all-purpose miles. I signed up for 1,000 running miles in 2016 challenge. I signed up for some virtual runs to benefit some good charities. I signed up for some trail runs – including a marathon that is said to be one of the toughest in the northeast. I signed up for the Pittsburgh Marathon and some other local races. I started a marathon training plan, and I’m trying to stick to it.
What am I not doing? I’m not going crazy scheduling races in states to complete the 50 state challenge. I’m really enjoying the 100 Half Marathon Club – I could do 100 half marathons in my home state and complete the challenge. No travel worries and much less expensive. The club has a gazillion discounts not only for races but for running products, the dues are not high, and the club organizers are wonderful. There is no competition with other clubs. I highly recommend anyone who runs half marathons to join this club – just say I referred you!
Life is changing in other ways too. There is a high likelihood my husband will be retiring. My own job is winding down as well. We want to move. I will have to start over with a new job (in my 50’s!). I want to get some health and fitness certifications.
So this is my NEW year. Reevaluating myself and my goals at 52. Trying to stay happy and healthy for another 52.
Happy New Year indeed.

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Recovery and Racing

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It’s been about five weeks since my car accident, and four weeks since I started chiropractic treatment. I have to say after being nervous at first, I have really come around to the chiropractor. Dr. Steve understands where I am coming from and where I would like to be. He says my spine is staying pretty aligned so we just have to see what’s triggering the flare ups. I can tell things start to go south when I’m driving because I’m nervous, and then of course at work because I am terrible at leaving my desk. I really have to work on that as well as how my arms are positioned when typing. Dr. Steve wants my arms fully supported, where I am old (old old) school with my wrists hanging off the keyboard. I am committed to getting better so I am taking all of this to heart and working hard.
One of the toughest things has been the instruction that ice, not heat, should be my best friend. Me, who sleeps with a heating pad on full blast, and visits the steam room, sauna and/or whirlpool as often as possible. Apparently ice is better for inflammation, and heat is better in moderation. I’m not giving up my heat, but I have added a ice packs which I admit certainly are soothing.
I have been completing my races as were scheduled way before the car accident. A couple weeks ago I met my sister in St. Paul, Minnesota for the Twin Cities in Motion Loony Challenge. The schedule was a 10k immediately followed by a 5k on Saturday, and the famous 10 mile run from Minneapolis to St. Paul on Sunday. I was pretty nervous to run that many miles in one weekend but it ended up being a huge success. I wanted to keep going after the 10 miles. The only review I can give is if you have the chance to run one of the races offered that weekend, do it! The neighborhoods are beautiful, crowd support is amazing, the races are overall well run, and the medals, shirts, and post-race food are all great. I will be back since I did not run a half marathon, so I cannot check off Minnesota!


Saturday I drove to Detroit where yesterday I ran the International Half Marathon. I had heard so many great things about this race, which crosses over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, then back through the Detroit Windsor Tunnel to the USA. Thus you actually are running under water part of this race. Of course going back and forth to Canada could cause custom issues so you provide your passport info at registration and then receive instructions to keep your bib visible, and be prepared to possibly be delayed if the agents can’t see your bib or if you are carrying liquids. Liquids are allowed but it’s just something that could cause a delay. I only saw one person detained, actually being arrested, and I assume he didn’t have a bib. The agents did a great job and were cheering and high fiving us as well. There were bottlenecks at the bridge and tunnel which reflect in my mile splits, but overall I am really pleased with my time. Crowd support was great on both sides of the border. I love the medal and the shirt. Post race food included bananas and hummus (not a fan), apples and chocolate milk. Pure Protein also had a booth with protein bars. I guess there were food trucks at the after party, but I was cold so didn’t stay. I actually thought the food provided was kind of light especially since there also was a marathon.


 All in all I’m feeling pretty hopeful. I know I can’t erase arthritis but I’ll do whatever I can to manage it.

September – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  
September was such a whirlwind! It’s hard to believe October is here along with the much cooler temps. Seems like there is no gradual drop in temperature; we just drop 30 degrees and soon the snow will be flying.  I definitely feel like I channeled my inner Clint Eastwood as September unfolded.

I started the month by running the Biggest Loser Half Marathon here in Buffalo during Labor Day weekend. Biggest Loser puts on a pretty good race but it was so hot that day and the race is almost exclusively in the sun, so it was tougher than I expected and my finish was slower than I expected. Since I ran the 5k last year, the inaugural year in Buffalo, I received a legacy medal which was nice. I think what struck me most was the lack of community support compared to races I have done in other cities/states. I wonder if, since we have such a short race season here with a lot of races crammed in, the non-running community is just sick of the disruption.
  
  
After the race my husband Dave and I walked over to the annual Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival where he completed a hot wing eating challenge, we enjoyed a local craft beer, and then headed home because the heat and dehydration were starting to affect me. All in all this was a good day.

  
My 52nd birthday fell in here. Even though I miss seeing my girls on my birthday and all holidays, Dave made it a great birthday as always. 

The following weekend I travelled to my sister’s home in Richmond, where we would be driving together to Baltimore, Maryland to race the Run 4 Shelter. This race takes place mostly on flat trails. Unfortunately we got carried away the day before the race exploring the area and put in about 5 miles, so my legs got pretty tired at the end of the half marathon. We did find the beach so it was worth it!  
  
Race day was chilly and rainy. Prior to the start some skydivers came down and they were awesome! 

   
 The race had a late start, which I find annoying, but the worst part for me was around mile 11 or 12 when you actually run past the finish line then circle around back. I don’t really like that. My sister rocked her 10k and with my tired legs I did okay with the half.

  
Since it was pouring when I got done we decided to head out because we were going to stay at the inner harbor for a few nights. As we were sitting at a red light I heard what sounded like a shot behind us and twisted to look in my side view mirror to see what happened. Then we were hit from behind, twice! The vehicle behind us had been hit twice by the vehicle behind her somehow. My head bounced off the headrest two times but luckily my sister was able to keep us from hitting the car in front of us. A fire truck and two police cars later, we were back on our way.  

Baltimore’s inner harbor is a wonderful place to visit and I hope to go back soon. We water taxi’d all over. It’s very impressive, especially the aquarium. All in all, this trip was good with a bad.
   
 The next week my neck and back pain increased but I had a local half marathon on Saturday and a dinner with some fellow 50 State Half Marathon Club members who were in town for the race, so I decided to go for it. Dinner was wonderful because we got to meet some new people. 
The race was in Lewiston NY, the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon. Such a nice route but halfway in I knew I was in trouble with my back. I even considered quitting but instead decided to add a lot of walking. The scariest part was a feeling like I couldn’t breathe. I texted Dave at mile 9 and told him it was going to be a while! I was crying the last 1/10th of a mile and after finding Dave just headed home. This was especially disappointing because I missed what looked like a great after-party and a chance to see the 50 Staters again. This day was ugly, but I’m going to try again next year.

  
Two goods then occurred. I was able to find a chiropractic wellness office to treat my cervical and thoracic strains. Unfortunately X-rays show that I have underlying arthritis throughout my back, but I am hopeful Dr. Steve can improve things for me, and he says he wants to make me a pain-free and better runner. So we have the same goals. I was really afraid of the adjustments at first; the cracking noise really scared me. I seem to be getting used to it though.
The best good was hearing that I was accepted as an Ambassador in Kathrine Switzer’s 261 Fearless program. 261 was Kathrine’s number when she was the first woman to register for and run the Boston Marathon. As most know, race officials tried to physically force her out of the race but with help from her friends she was able to finish and go on to have a most successful running career. I really feel this program is a perfect fit for me and I’m excited to make the most of this opportunity.

My last race of the month was Beat the Blerch in Morristown, New Jersey. I was meeting my daughter Morgan there as she was taking the train from New York City. Unfortunately I had decided to drive prior to the car accident, which ended up causing a lot of discomfort. Morristown ended up being one of the most charming towns I have ever visited and I could imagine myself living there (or somewhere similar).
   
 Beat the Blerch ended up being a legitimate trail race. I never had run a trail race before and I absolutely loved it. My mind was constantly engaged in trying not to trip and fall, and the scenery was beautiful. There was so much to concentrate on, I didn’t have time to think about my back. Poor Morgan the city girl was not as enthused but we both came out unscathed. Morristown – good, race – good, drive – bad, seeing Morgan – wonderful.

  
I have a lot scheduled again this month that I probably would not have if I had known about my back problems. I’m just going to take it easy, do my exercises, and have the best time possible.

My goal for October is really to get on a schedule. Being disorganized leads me to feeling overwhelmed and then I tend to give up. Wish me luck!