Thursday, January 9, 2014

The year.

Really, I just didn’t want everyone to get sick of reading New Year’s resolutions...nah, I’m just a bit behind.  Nine days late, but better than never?  So, about that last year.  2013 brought a lot with it.  I spent it with some of the most amazing and inspiring people, a blend of friends, teammates, and family, who taught me that the experiences and relationships that come with life are the most important things we can have.  We traveled to some incredible places, (Phoenix, San Diego, New Orleans, Tempe, Boston, Maine, Minnesota, St. Louis, Denver, Oregon, Seattle, Vancouver, Nashville, New York, Chicago, New Mexico), raced some exceptional races, and had a hell of a time doing it.  I embraced New Mexico, for its’ beauty and its’ quirks, its’ proud people and its’ transplants that love it for sunsets and green chile, art and the terrible way people drive.  It is an unrecognized heaven.  I ran three thousand, nine hundred, and twenty-five miles over twelve months.  Even with time off from an injury, no running.  Basically, I could have run from my hometown in York, Maine, to San Diego, CA, then up the coast of California to Oregon (one day, I’ll do it all at once.  One day.  Google Gary Allen.  He’s my hero).  That’s a lot of time on the roads, both solo and more importantly, with athletes from all over the world.  Tuesdays mornings will never be the same, looking back to some of those workouts up at Academy track, with athletes from the US, Japan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Korea.  
I’m blessed to know such people, elite athletes none the less.  Indescribable gratitude I send out to my sponsors, Saucony, Nuttzo, and Nuun.  I don’t know what I’d do without you!  I watched the Dukes Track Club grow, in numbers and in spirit.  With many new additions for the women and the men, we were able to race, score, and not be last, at USATF Club X-C Nationals.  And stand out at the Picky (Sticky) Party.  We will all go back next year, to Pennsylvania for the race, but more for the party.  With racing came a lot of excitements and disappointments.  I ran close to my marathon PR at Boston, and truly loved every minute of the race, with a finish of epic proportions.  We experienced the madness and sadness that ensued afterwards, and I will say that the only positive thing that came from that was witnessing the support and love that runners, and even non-runners, have for one another.  Boston will always have a special place in my heart.  I ran some fast races, some slow races, won some, lost some, got in the best shape of my life and the healthiest, and watched it all crumble quickly underneath me as stress, lack of sleep, anemia, and thyroid issues ripped me apart.  Through that, I was able to recognize even more pieces of the puzzle that had fallen to the floor, and put them back together, albeit slowly.  How do you deal with stress?  Well, much of my stress stemmed from my job, in that I was working many hours in something I wasn’t fully passionate about, on little sleep and an intense training schedule.  All those amazing trips, yeah, the downfall was a lot of time traveling meant a lot of time on airplanes and living out of a suitcase.  So what happened?  I pulled out of my goal race, Twin Cities marathon, a week beforehand, watched from the sidelines, and took a break from running.  I take iron supplements, I see wonderful medical providers and sports folk (massage, nutrition, psychology), I get everything in check.  I rediscover the reasons I love this sport.  And...I find a new job.  Rather, it finds me.  At the perfect time that I could have asked for it.  When I just happened to be in Minneapolis for a marathon that I wasn’t able to run.  Divine intervention?  I guess we will find out in 2014.  

Here I sit alone at my new favorite restaurant of the day (yesterday it was Thai, the day before it was the half priced wine place, what does tomorrow hold?  Suggestions?).  Drinking my fancy pants almond milk latte with a pretentious gluten-free kale caesar salmon salad, pretending to be a writer and looking into the future that is 2014.  What do I see?  Well, a new home.  With the help of an ever amazing best friend as fabulous road trip company (and tortilla chips), I relocated to Minnesota on January 2nd.  This is the place where people LOVE happy hour, springtime, boats, dogs, bike paths, and microbreweries.  At least that’s what I’ve learned so far.  I think there’s more to it though.  With a new home comes a new job, one that I feel strongly will fit my focus and passion of my profession very well.  I feel strongly that what I do with my career should make me happy, it’s reality and I face it every day.  There are people that don’t feel the same, that work is just work, but to each their own.  Knowing that this new opportunity reignites this little spark in my heart, that’s exciting.  Community health has long been a passion of mine, and I have the residency program in New Mexico to thank for a strong foundation in this.  Also with a new home comes new friends (I hope!)  People here are kind, and I look forward to meeting more of them on a level that is above just in passing.  It’s hard to make friends in your adult life!  To break down those barriers of “how about this cold” and “what do you do for work,” it is really a challenge.  I was lucky that our recent trip to Club Nats allowed me the opportunity to meet a huge lot of Minnesota runners, all of them inviting and fun.  So then, running in 2014...I’ve been on the treadmill more than a little, but I did also happen to move to MN on the coldest day since 1884.  Yeah, a windchill of negative sixty isn’t conducive to being outdoors, since “exposed skin will freeze in five minutes or less,” according to the Weather Channel.  But the good news, getting involved with Netflix (New Girl and Orange is the New Black), my car still starts, the heat in my apartment works well, and it’s supposed to be forty degrees in a few days.  Nervous and excited to meet some new running companions this weekend.  As for running focus?  I hope to continue to proudly represent for my sponsors, spreading the word about fabulous products and gear.  And well, the main "idea" for the last six years has been to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials in the marathon.  I mean, 6:13 mile splits and an overall time of 2:43?  Yeah, that’s challenging.  The field will be a lot smaller from 2012, when the qualifier was 2:47.  But hell, dream big right?  If other people can do it, why can’t you do it too?  Why should they dream bigger than you?  Just put in the work everyday.  There are a lot of little benchmarks to hit, a lot of smaller and fun races along the way.  2013 provided a lot of building blocks and hurdles.  Injury, internally and externally, strength imbalances, setbacks, missed goals and opportunities, nutrition regulation, sleep deprivation.  But I’m still running.  What will 2014 bring?  All this knowledge from 2013 will make 2014 amazing.  Beyond amazing, not just for me but for all the people that I care about and love so much, because this is our year for success.  Just keep believing!  That’s a goal in itself, being positive everyday.  With athletics, relationships, work, little stupid stuff.  I can have a short fuse, and I need to not hate myself for 45 minutes because I trip and fall over air and cut up my hands, or the birthday card I sent three weeks ago gets returned because I didn’t put a stamp on it (sorry!)  I need to better appreciate the people in my life, and tell them how important they are to me.  Saying I love you has always been hard for me, not because I don’t feel it but because those are strong words.  Important, meaningful ones.  Taking risks, not over-thinking things, being less of a hoarder, not losing my to-do list, and just DOING the things that I know are important (like an oil change, sleeping, and sending wedding gifts on time...again sorry!)  I need to be a better friend and a better communicator.  And I need to appreciate all that I have, family, friends, health.  Because really, I’m fucking lucky.  

Life is definitely different now.  I don’t have the physical companionship I had one week ago, through friends and their families, their puppies, and even an physical environment that is familiar.  I keep waking up and forgetting where I am.  I have a lot I get to relearn.  Little things, like, what time do you pay the meters till?  Where is the nearest dollar store?  What night is half priced wine night again?  Who has the cheapest vegetables?  What’s your name again (names are HARD)?  Can I run outside without Yak Traks or am I going to fall on my ass?  I forgot what snow looked like, really.  But with all change comes new adventure, and we sure have a lot planned already.  I am thrilled to be in a new place, where I can develop some new relationships, and still know that I always have a home, and a family, in New Mexico.  Here’s to 2014, being all that it can be.  

Friday, December 27, 2013


Snow on the beach.  York, Maine.  The way life should be.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

USATF Club XC Nationals. DTC.

This weekend Dukes Track Club headed to Bend, OR to compete in the USATF Club XC National Championship.  276 of the fastest women and 410 of the fastest men in the country, and that's just in the open race.  Women's and men's masters races were also held that morning!  I haven't raced XC since NCAA Nationals in 2005.  Colby College XC, underdogs finishing in fifth place in the nation.  It was nice to lace up some spikes again!

I ran 24:46 for 6K.  Not exceptional.  A week before I'd run 23:46 for the 6K (6:20s) in 20 degrees at 6000 feet by myself.  I'd had bigger goals for this race.  Place didn't matter to me, but I'd hoped to run closer to 6:00 pace.  In reality, only eight women broke 6:00 pace.  The course was tough, 2K loops on a muddy, hilly, stutter step golf course.  The first two laps I held pretty steady and strong, not getting passed, closing gaps.  I hid lap three, and really started to burn up.  Heavy breathing, burning lungs, legs, arms.  And slowly dropping back.  Happy to finish where I did in the top half for my fitness level.  30 seconds faster would have brought me 50 places toward the front.  Humbling and inspiring experience to be surrounded by so many phenomenal athletes.  Recently, my girls and I have had some pretty solid XC style workouts at the Academy XC course, a very tough course.  Unfortunately, there's no replica for competition, and that's where I felt like I was lacking.  It would have been nice to have the opportunity to race one XC race beforehand!

All the individual stuff aside, I wouldn't change this weekend for the world.  Dukes Men finished 28th of 50 teams and Dukes Women finished 32 of 34.  Very proud of everyone for getting outside of their comfort zone.  Steph, racing in the open race with us instead of the masters.  Sam for your first XC race ever.  Vanessa, for your first since college.  And Leen, for your first XC race since high school and your strongest ever.  Thank you to my team for being not only my friends, but my family too.  Without you I'm nothing but an individual, alone.  Together we are a team, creating memories, blazing trails, and building our little dream of the Dukes Track Club in the national running community.  Also thanks to everyone that supported us remotely, with positive words and cheers from afar, and to Picky Bars for a FANTASTIC post race dance party!  I'm looking forward to the USA XC Championships in February 2014 in Boulder, CO, and hope that we'll all be there together!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Goodbye old friend.

A sad day for the Garmin 210.  Frozen and unable to charge, it's been sick for a little while now but would always come back to life.  After 10 months, 3383 miles, and a lot of memories in many places, this guy is being replaced with the new Garmin Forerunner 220.  Goodbye old friend!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Day

Yesterday I gave thanks for family, friends, food, happiness, and health.  Though I wasn't with my family for the holiday, I was adopted by two separate ones for the day.  Can't complain about two wonderful meals with friends.  Too many blessings to count.

One highlight of the day was our morning Turkey Trek 5K.  Holidays, costumes, and any reason to dress up and run are near and dear to me.  Clearly, this was how I was raised, since both my sister and I represented the 505 (NM) and the 303 (CO) in matching turkey costumes in races 400 miles apart...without knowing the other was matching.  

This is important Albuquerque breaking news, in which questions asked in the Channel 7 interview included what it was like to run in a turkey costume (hot) and what it felt like to assist in a great cause supporting the Storehouse of Greater Albuquerque (fabulous, especially since the Dukes Track Club had made a separate donation, and a lot of us were "racing").  In case anyone was wondering, I am having an identity crisis...runner/turkey.

This is also important news in Vail, Colorado, where my sister Sarah and her boyfriend Quinn made the front page of the paper.  Team Turkey!

Some great performances, and a lovely way to start the holiday with friends.  From L-R, Josh (and baby Elliot), Tony, Turkey, Jesse, James, Phil, and Jonathan.  Dukes Track Club representation was strong!

Happy Thanksgiving!!! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Can't touch your toes either??

Researchers have found a correlation between lack of flexibility and performance, all due to a gene that some possess.  The idea is that tight muscles, which are more prevalent in individuals with this gene (COL5A1), have an effect on speed and performance because of the physics of energy return.  Tight muscles equal improved performance through improved running economy...

Not sure we can call this high quality scientific evidence (small sample size, one population, no repetition of the study, etc)...but I'll say I dislike my tight legs a little less today!

Check it out here...

Oh hi big Kinvaras.  I love you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inspiration and Albuquerque Fit

Yesterday evening I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Albuquerque Fit end of season banquet.  I met a lot of fantastic athletes who had represented Albuquerque Fit at races all over the country this year.  Many people had race shirts and medals on, and all were proud of what they'd accomplished.  Everyone was excited about their successes and progress, and also seemed optimistic for what the future held...many were planning their next races.  Albuquerque Fit has about 250 members and encourages both first time runners and experienced veterans.  Their motto is "Change your life, " which I think running does for us all in a way.  I was asked to speak a little about inspiration, and here is what I came up with....even if it's little cheesy reading through it again :)

"I am not a natural athlete.  I'm more of a self proclaimed nerd.  My natural talents lie more in speed reading than coordination and athletic prowess.  I spend a lot of time face down on the pavement, having tripped over nothing, and I'll never be able to touch my toes or kick a soccer ball straight.  Im not a natural athlete, but i am a runner.  We are all runners here!

The only reason I'm here with you today is because I've worked hard and i didn't quit when the going got tough.  My dream is to qualify for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials and be the fastest female dentist in the nation, maybe even the world.  I want to run ultras, up and down mountains, and travel the world for races.  I'll get nothing from that but something to tell my grand kids, and an incredible journey full of memories and friends along the way.

Albuquerque Sunset
Gary asked me to speak about inspiration.  For me this is a hard topic. So many things get me out the door everyday....sunsets, spectacular views wherever you are, the changing seasons, incredible performances and hard work paying off that we witness and hear about, self meditation both positive and negative, good conversation with friends...but when trying to think about what really INSPIRES me...I'd have to say the relationships I’ve cultivated with other runners, and the people that I've helped inspire to be involved with or improve in running, something I feel so passionately about...that's my number one.  When everything comes full circle.

To me, this translates to a lot of things...friendships, teammates, even just passing interactions with other runners we meet along the way.  But I'd have to say the most notable to me is the story of my dad.

Stew, my dad, is not a natural athlete.  He's a beekeeper, a woodworker, a chef, a genealogist, an excellent golfer, and in his free time practices medicine in my hometown in Maine. So, he has a lot of hobbies. Running was never one of them. I started competing in the 100m dash back in high school, my first ever athletic didn't end well.  The distance coach took one look at me and said, “Well.  This will never're a two miler, NOT a sprinter.”  Life changed from there.

Weekends became cross country and track meets all over the state of Maine, for both my younger sister and I. High school came and went, college athletics took over.  Races all over the country gave way to marathons after graduation.  All through this journey we had our number one fans...our parents. But somewhere along the way, a little switch clicked for stew...”I'm going to run a marathon too.”  I think he wanted a little attention after all.

So At the age of 56, he started to train for, and ran his first marathon, Chicago 2010. So When Gary asked me to speak about inspiration, this is what came to mind, knowing that somewhere along the way, I'd inspired one of the people closest to me to be a part of something big; the running community.
Disney 2013

Since then, he's started and completed six marathons in five states, training through humid summers and frigid Maine winters.  When we run with my dad, my sister and I both wear shirts that say "I'm with Stew," with those little arrows that point at him.  Stew wears a white tech Tee I made him with his name on it.  It's too big for him now, but he still wears it.  Underneath his bib number, there is a tally of how many marathons he's completed. Every race, we cross another one off.  He used to be embarrassed when it said “First Marathon,” but now he's proud to have a bunch of slash marks on it.

Maine Coast 2013
I've had the honor of pacing him though four of his marathons, but this last was where I was the most proud.  Stew signed up for Twin Cities, which was three weeks ago now.  I was supposed to compete, but due to a number of things going on with my health i didn’t race.  Running isn't always easy.  This became his day.  I jumped in at mile 16, pacing him through the last ten. With four miles to go, he said "I don't think I can keep this pace."  the hardest thing we face as athletes is the battle with our own heads.  When the mind goes that way, the only hope is to get your focus and belief back. "You can" I said, "you will. This is your day."  That switch clicked. I saw, "yes I can yes I will."  His last two miles, the fastest of the race, five minute PR, 4:27:32.

Post Twin Cities.  Number six.
I've never been so inspired, watching him believe in himself and conquer a goal, and knowing that in some way, I'd inspired him too.  Everything comes full circle.

Everyone pulls inspiration from somewhere, and I think it's important to reflect on that from time to time....reflecting on these inspirations is one of the things that I have on my little list of rules...

Here are a few more, in no particular order.

-Never forget your Body glide.  Its preventative. Buy in bulk.

-If there is no line at the port o potty. Use it. If there is a line, well, it's ok to pee your pants. Really.

-Keep a cowbell in your car. You never know when you may need it.

-Remember that you get out of your body what you put in. Food is fuel and you're your own science experiment. Treat it well, and it will treat you well back. That doesn't mean you can't thank it with a beer or two every now and then.

-Find The right shoes for YOU.  I’m a Saucony girl.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the same model for 20 years.  Keep what works.

-It's ok to be starstruck, no matter what level you are at.  Desi Davila autographed my bib before the Boston marathon. I knew it would be a good race with her on my side!

-Non-runners will never fully understand you.  They probably think we are all nuts. They may ask you how your jogging is going these days. Just smile, say great, and continue to wear your race t shirts to work. You're not the crazy one...they are.

-Be nice to yourself. This is something I struggle with constantly. Self doubt is your enemy, especially in running and endurance events.  From training to racing, we spend a lot of hours out there. There is plenty of time for negativity to take over, but there is plenty of time for positive thoughts to push their way past that.  “I can't I'm not strong enough I didn't train enough” HAS to become “I can I am strong I own this day.”

-Lastly, remember that you are NOT alone out there, any day.  You are part of something HUGE.  The running community, both in Albuquerque and worldwide, grows closer and larger every day, and includes everyone from volunteers to spectators to the athlete them-self.  Look around you!  These people are your inspiration, your friends, your enrichment, and your keys to success and happiness.  Appreciate them, and appreciate the journey they take you on.

That's all I have for now. A lot of races on the horizon, and a lot of work to do.  Thank you everyone for all your support, for being my inspiration, and for being part of something big. I'm excited for all your current and future successes! 

Just remember to keep dreaming, even through the tough times, and you'll become exactly what you want to be."