Tag Archives: Training partners

California dreaming

Motivation today came in the form of an e-mail from a rock-star running friend who recently moved to Monterrey, Calif.

“I had to write you and let you know I’ve just had the best run!” my friend Sarah wrote. “I’m back! I’m a runner!”

What’s she back from? Oh, from having two kids, one who was born in October.

It needs to be said that her hiatus from running hasn’t been much of a hiatus. Sarah ran the Nashville Country Music Marathon with me (I use the term “with” loosely — I had miles to go by the time she finished) when Lily, her 3-year-old daughter, was barely walking. She ran a half marathon in Jacksonville while pregnant with Zack on a day so hot, she said she was practically hallucinating. I still use this as motivation during summer races, when I repeat to myself: “Channel Sarah. Run till you hallucinate.” It’s amazingly effective.

Sarah’s loop included a couple of mile repeats on a nearby track and “breathtaking vistas of the Pacific.” That’s not available to most of us, but her playlist, and her rock-star state of mind, are.

“The playlist on my iPod included ‘Stacey’s Mom’ — or ‘Lily’s Mom,’ as I like to sing it. This song give me hope as a mom. It also included ‘So What’ by Pink. I put this song on repeat and probably listened to it 7 or 8 times (not exaggerating). It’s my favorite angry-woman power song: ‘I am a rock star … I’ve got my rock moves …’ “

Sarah’s training for the Santa Cruz half marathon in April. Here’s how she describes it:

“Santa Cruz is a laid back, surfy, college town about 40 minutes from us. In my head, I imagine all the 20-somethings walking around with their perfect Abercrombie bodies and wardrobes. I don’t have huge expectations for this race, as far as a time goes. I’m using it as a starting place to denote my return to running post-baby.”

On my run tomorrow, I intend to picture Sarah speeding past all the cute little Abercrombie-clad freshmen on her race toward feeling like her pre-baby self. I suggest anyone who’s ever rebounded from anything do the same.


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A partner in crime, part trois

A few words about my favorite training partner:

It has been almost a decade since we’ve actually physically run together, but she’s one of my biggest supporters and motivators.

We ran cross-country together in high school for a team so small, we barely qualified for competition. Somehow, despite this fact, we didn’t always lose.

I can’t remember a race we didn’t finish together. I also can’t remember having to wait up for her, or having to pick up the pace to keep up.

We were true middle-of-the-packers. In one divisional race, we were handed popsicle sticks denoting our place finish among hundreds of other runners. The numbers on our two sticks were literally the number of people in the race divided by two.

After dozens of hill workouts together, we can communicate solely by spitting and grunting. We try to limit that to while we’re running.

We rewarded our long runs (anything longer than 3 miles at that point) with Hey Daddy bagels, perhaps the best thing to come out of New Jersey besides the Boss (and, of course, us).

We reward long runs with glasses of wine now. We haven’t lived in the same place for a decade. But we still call to congratulate each other after a race. In fact, my marathon finish didn’t feel real until I talked to Jen on the phone afterwards while soaking in the longest ice bath known to man. It’s a testament to our friendship and her conversational skills that the 30-minute ice bath flew by.

I peer-pressured her into running a half marathon around the same time I ran that marathon. She had a great finish, but I think I speak for both of us in saying the finish of either race was far from the best part. It was the way we’d call each other at random times throughout the day to talk about training: our aches and pains, our preference in long-run fuel and the best kind of recovery drink (we like chocolate milk). These topics inevitably led to longer talks about husbands and jobs and life and stuff.

Jen came to visit last weekend with the third member of our trio, Alexis, who didn’t run with us but is an avid cheerleader and supporter in running and in life. Jen and I didn’t get a chance to run together. But we did set a date.

We’re going to do the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia on May 3. With almost 20,000 runners, it bills itself as the largest 10-miler in the United States. I imagine Jen and I will finish right around 10,000. I’m sure we’ll be side by side.


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Partners in crime, part deux

According to the National Weather Service, tonight will be 20 degrees and “blustery.” I feel silly bitching about this since I spent four years bitching about running in the sticky, swampy heat in Florida (in the summer, it’s like trying to breathe through a hot, wet washcloth), but this is NOT my preferred running weather. I have a few resources to help me cope, and I’ll share them here.

First, check out an awesome compilation of Runner’s World stories and tips for cold weather running here. The stories have all been incredibly helpful. The best tip I’ve culled so far: Draw a hot bath before you leave for a short run. It provides double motivation: You’ll look forward to the hot, steamy bath waiting for you at home, and you’ll wanna run quickly to avoid that hot, steamy bath turning lukewarm.

Another tip: Mizuno Breath Thermo gloves, made from some fancy material that actually heats up when you sweat. If you’re a sweaty little dude like me, the effect is truly magical. Our friends at Pacers, our local running store, recommended them a month or so ago, and I’ve been borderline obsessed with them ever since.

Which brings me to my third secret weapon in fighting the cold: Pacers’ “fun runs” on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I get an e-mail with a brand-new running route in the Silver Spring area. We then meet half a dozen (or more in warmer weather) or so runners at the Pacers in downtown Silver Spring, and head out for a great big group run.

In the past, I’ve talked myself out of running with partners because I’m afraid I’ll either slow down my training buddy or vice versa. This is partially because I’m totally spoiled from running with my best friend, Jen, in high school. We were almost exactly the same pace, which was awesome. More importantly, we had run together for so long, we could communicate solely by grunting and spitting (we try to only do this when we run — it can really make things awkward at the dinner table). My only real running partner since then has been my husband. He’s faster than me, which makes even casual runs kind of like tempo runs for me. The key is, I can make him slow down without guilt or shame on account of the fact of us being married.

Pacers has been great in breaking me of my fear of running with new people. We break up into pace groups ranging from the insane 6-7-ish minute miles all the way to 10-11 minute miles. Steve and I usually fall somewhere in between. We’ve met some great people doing it, and it takes SO much of the guesswork out of running. Where should I run? When? With whom? These questions are all answered for me. And since it’s in the evening, I have something to look forward to all day long.

What’s motivating you to get out and train in the cold? Share your tips by posting a comment below.


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A partner in crime

In half-marathon-training and in life, it helps to have a partner who shares your goals. It’s even more helpful if that partner is more experienced and more ambitious than you are.

For me, that’s my friend Whitney, who’s training for the National Marathon (note that the “Half” is missing — she’s going for the full 26.2). She is both experienced (this is her fifth marathon) and down-to-earth, a rare and awesome combination I’ll be counting on frequently throughout my training.

Best of all, you can rely on her expertise and support, too, ’cause she’s gonna be blogging, too! I’ll be hosting her blog on my Web site. Check back often for progress updates from both of us.

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