Fork Yeah

Yesterday I ran fourteen miles along the pathway behind North Hills, a gorgeous tree-lined trail replete with wooden plank bridges, rolling brooks and singing birds.

It was the kind of long run that I love with every bit of good and bad that long runs provide.

There were the highs; negative splits, good conversation with teammates, camaraderie on the road (no runner left behind), quiet time alone, gear that performed, momentary soft cool breezes, strong legs, water stops complete with Ziplock bags next to coolers of ice, oranges, bagels and cut up bananas.

There were the lows; oppressive heat (90 degrees at five a.m.), exhausted legs, too much talking at tired times, no music during alone times, stinky smells (sewer water?), sick stomach (from either the heat or my decision to try Honey Stingers in place of Shot Bloks), the final mile headed entirely uphill.

At around mile eleven my stomach issues forced me to a stop. I waved my running group on assuring them I’d be okay.

And I was. After removing my FuelBelt and hanging it over my shoulder, I walked until the pain had passed and started up again in the silence between the two groups.

So close to the finish (yet so far) I came across a fork in the road.

Not a theoretical fork (like life’s decisions), but a real and actual fork in the road where taking the wrong turn could result in becoming lost in the woods without my phone, on tired legs, drenched in my own sweat with a stomach that may or may not cooperate before getting myself to a potty.

In no shape to risk the results of a bad decision the only choice was to wait for the group a couple of minutes behind.

When I saw them I pointed my fingers in opposite directions and proclaimed, “A fork in the road!”

“To the left,”  someone said, while gesturing without stopping, the pack’s legs pounding the ground in time and I grateful to follow with others in the lead.

I stayed at the back for the last two miles (actually paired up with a couple doing a 1×1 ratio), but chose to walk most of the way up that horrendous final hill.

And when it was done what I’d given myself was a gift.

The highs and the lows formed a collection of important moments packaged tightly inside the gift of fourteen miles on the hidden back trails of my city. Self esteem was built from completing the endeavor. A hard earned kernel of truth that I can trust the next fork in my road (literal or theoretical) that may or may not be as easy to see and that I might have to follow alone.


If only every fork was as pretty. Tiffany & Co. Audubon Salad Serving Fork; sterling silver with vermeil. $525.

The Hansons’ MarathonTraining Plan

Running is important to me, keeps me sane and levels my pre-diabetic blood sugar.

I am in no way a professional, rather a mere mama who likes to run, likes to learn, appreciates a good challenge and crossed the finish line at her first marathon (less than six months ago) feeling both elated and defeated simultaneously.

Having signed up for my next marathon, Miami 2013 ( Jan. 27), I continue to run and learn and hope that I can strategize differently (better) for a faster time and more consistent race (less tired/more energy at the twenty-mile marker).

My training for Tobacco Road was strictly running, little cross training, following the Novice 2 plan by Hal Higdon. The Higdon plan is pretty straightforward consisting of a four-day run week with the long run exertion at an easy comfortable pace. Walk breaks are acceptable, especially through water stations, though I worked hard to run without them.

In the months between my two races, there has been the time and opportunity to test out different theories, the latest being the Galloway method using the run/walk/run ratio.

I like Galloway. I like running with my 10:30 pace group (although our walk/run speed is closer to 12:30).

But my problem with the plan that has nothing to do with running and everything to do with what goes on in my head.

For starters, none of the Olympic marathoners I watched this summer stopped to walk. If they didn’t stop to walk then running an entire 26.2 can be done. So shouldn’t we try?

Unfortunately, I am not an Olympian and my ability to keep a pace that results in a happy finish time requires walking. Strategizing walk breaks, then, would be a good way to go for the next race. If I could just get my head to accept it’s okay.

Having just received the current Runner’s World magazine in my mailbox, I came across an article by Alex Hutchinson about the Hansons; brothers who run marathons and train Olympic runners.

Their philosophy is in, “cumulative fatigue,” teaching your body to run fast on tired legs and “push recovery,” meaning that if your hard runs are easy, then your preceding runs were not hard enough.”

This makes sense, but how can the average mama bear use this strategy in her isolated/no trainer on the payroll training?

By putting mileage on your legs and going out with a little bit of fatigue, you can prepare your body for going farther distances. This makes sense to me.

Push Recovery doesn’t seem as clear.

The Hansons’ plan calls for a “nine-day hard-easy-easy cycle.” What does that mean? Does that suggest you run for a total of nine days and rest for the next two? That your runs should be hard, then easy, then easy, repeated for a total of nine days?

So here I am, constantly learning and testing the strategies with the hope that I finish Miami strong and happy with my performance. Not a professional in any way, but a lover of the game completely!

Are you in training? What does your training plan look like? Do you know anything about the Hansons’ plan? Share!

I took Grace for a run with me this summer. I tried to teach her the run/walk method in the hope we would go a couple of miles. She was having none of it and ran full force until she was too tired (complaining of hurt feet) and wanted to go home. There’s time, and I see track and field in this kid’s future!

Galloway Run Two

Adrenaline is coursing after a four mile run with the Galloway Group.

Today we ran one mile before an 80-85% push toward another mile marker.

I clocked my time at @9:15, slightly faster than I’d expected, probably because the last half mile was down hill.

I’m fairly certain that the 10.5 minute per mile group is the right one for me and I felt good (even up hill) with the group.

When I returned home the girls were just sitting down for breakfast with their dad.

I joined them and though probably should have refueled with a piece of Ezekiel bread and peanut butter, couldn’t resist the strawberry pancakes that Brian had already plated. Unfortunately, my fork couldn’t resist the sugar-coated lemon cake under cover in the center of the table, either. It, too, was begging to be eaten.

By the way, as I waited for the run to begin I spoke with two of the ladies from my group; Maria (the pace leader) and Kellie (e?) her marathoning partner. When Maria saw my name tag she turned to me and said, “Are you the blogger?”

“Yes, yes I am!”

She remembered my name from the post I passed on to the WannaBeasts group through facebook .

Recognition for the blog and a fantastic four mile run all before 8:30 a.m.?

Perfect start to this perfect day!

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Run, Walk, Run, Plank, Eat, Nap

The Jeff Galloway program follows the philosophy that strategic walk breaks can help your overall time, lessen fatigue, and help you run farther with very little to no injury. I signed up a few weeks ago even though I was unsure about the walking bit. Do real athletes walk? Apparently, many of them do.

My plan this morning was to run to Raleigh Running Outfitters; a 2.6 mile jaunt from home. The first Galloway Group run would occur there at seven a.m. and we were advised to arrive early around 6:45 to figure out the best pace groups to join.

I had read the program book, which stipulates the pace guidelines. Take your magic mile (80% of your full capacity for one mile) and multiply it by 1.3 for marathon training, 1.2 for a half. Once the calculation is done roughly two minutes are tacked on for walking breaks and another minute for every five degrees above sixty.
It was still a bit confusing to me, so I spoke with some of the Galloway Oldies and we determined that the 10.5 group might be a good fit. I can always move up or down in the weeks to come.

There were four hundred people gathered together and waiting to go. Once announcements were made we were off, up Six Forks and down something known as the Greenway. I thought I knew all of North Raleigh as I’d trained hard on these roads, but the Greenway, hidden behind an unfamiliar neighborhood, was a four person wide path with sheltering trees and running brooks. I partnered up with Carol (a young and friendly first year Kindergarten teacher) and we ran behind Kelly (one of the pace group leaders) and Katie-Rose who had just signed up for her first marathon (the Marine Corps in the Fall).

I felt like I was amongst my people. My tribe. Kindred spirits who hurled words of encouragement toward other runners at turnarounds and upon passing by.

We ran an easy three miles with a three to one ratio; run three minutes, walk one, run another three, and so on.

The pace seemed good (maybe a touch fast), but since I’d been up since 3:30 with two sick kids I figured I’d cut myself some slack. Grace fell prey to the virus exactly 2.5 days after her sister. As predicted and right on schedule.

There was a lot of talking going on during the run, which I’m not used to. Running with talking takes up more energy than running with books. Even saucy books like 50 Shades.

Speaking of 50 Shades, after the group was dismissed I high tailed it home listening to the second of the series, while trying to adhere to the three to one ratio. My Garmin had died, so I chose to watch the clock on my phone to stay close to the time allowances despite not knowing my accurate pace.

Eight miles completed before 8:30 and on very little sleep.

Upon my return I rolled out my sore gluteals and calves (much to Sophie’s delight) and completed two of my three planks for the day.

Angela a.k.a. Happy Fit Mama and I had been tweeting recently about the art of planking. I was curious to know the best way to get the most bang for your planking buck and it seemed that I needed to get lower. Plank position with flat arms and hands has been added to the newest daily challenges. My squishy abdominals (and back and sides) are thanking me already.

My post run fuel was decided for me as Brian was in the process of working on a beautiful breakfast when I appeared in the kitchen; eggs, chopped potatoes, ham and cilantro wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. I added a little avocado and some tomatoes before creating the “lunch” in the My Fitness Pal application on my phone.

I showered and napped, but couldn’t coax the girlies down to slumber. Success in dreamland did eventually arrive, but the nearby sounds of reading and playing didn’t allow me complete rest I needed and I woke after an hour to a drum-like banging on the closet doors (stinkin kids).

I roused and re-entered Mommyland looking forward to the night.

Sleep will come and it will be sweet. Quiet, long and sweet…….

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