Category Archives: run

Think You’re Past Your Prime? Think Again!

The last ten years I’ve been fascinated by race results. I began to notice a disturbing trend among female runners at race events: they seemed to be getting faster with age.

I say “disturbing” because I was under the false impression that if I just kept running, I’d be on the only one left to win the bling. Ha ha ha! Oh, contraire.

What the heck was going on? Why were women in their 40s running faster than their younger peers? Why were they smoking past me?

In my 30’s I would occasionally place in the top 3 of my age group. Sadly, I realized that if I didn’t get faster, I’d never take the podium.

You know what I think now? “Yeah. YOU GO GIRL. You go get that!”

Something happens to us when we “grow up.” We believe lies. We think we’re past our prime. We think sport is just for the more talented or for those girls who played varsity sports in college. We stop walking and running and pushing ourselves athletically. “It’s too late. We’ve missed it, blown our chance, and I never even played a sport in high school, let alone as a mom.”

Puh-lease.

Here’s the truth: We Are All Athletes.

Maybe we believe the lie because for many many years, it’s hard to do anything but work hard and nurture hard. There doesn’t seem to be any left over for us. This is where our ingenuity must kick in. We have to do squats while folding laundry, perform calf raises while vacuuming the stairs, get in some arm circles while in our work cubicle, skip lunch with colleagues to walk around the block. Staying at home doesn’t make it easier. There were always babies saying, “You want to work out in peace and quiet? Get real!” (good thing they’re so cute.)

How many times did I look like a dork trying to run up a hill pushing a stroller while mixing in lunges and swinging my legs for hip mobility? The baby was always screaming and I’d be throwing cheerios down at her while gasping out a Cinderella or Peter Pan story all the while experiencing milk letdown. Oh yeah, I was a beauty out there with my stroller.

And than there were days where it was just too much energy to dress the baby and myself and a toddler in all those layers when it was so cold. There were many many days of missed workouts. But I also knew this: a little goes a long way. So over the years I tried to get a little bit here, a little bit there.

I felt slow in my 20s and even slower in my early 30s. There were times when I couldn’t run more than a mile without stopping to walk, when I was just too tired and it was too late to get on the elliptical. But there were other times that I did. How serendipitous it was to find running buddies (bless you!), an awesome running watch (bff for life!), a few 5ks while dear husband watched children. I played indoor and outdoor soccer on a real team for as long as I could. One year the season started when Nelson was just two months and I had to bring him with me because I was nursing. I remember running onto the field to join my teammates and they turned around and started clapping. That moment still makes me want to weep, it meant so much. Sisters cheering for their sisters!

I remember Meredith and I getting permission to bring a big Hogwarts bus to one of our soccer games so all of our kids would fit. We laughed like crazy and I nursed Nelson behind a tree during halftime, all sweaty and gross! (sorry, Nellie boy for that image 🙂 ). I remember thinking at the time, “what the heck am I doing???” But a voice was saying: just keep your foot in the game. I was slower, underweight, had looser joints and was severely sleep deprived. There was also the pleasure of milk letdown while trapping a throw in. Heavens. It was worth it. God gave me this body and when I was running down that field I felt His pleasure (to paraphrase a hero, Eric Liddel.)

As my kids grew older and my own hobbies and teams took a back seat, I volunteered to coach because I loved the game and wanted to spend time with my children. I also hoped it would keep me in shape. It helped. I make the effort to keep playing summer soccer at least once a week with my children, even as they overtake me in speed and touch. But I can’t stop. I have role models out on the field inspiring me, and yes, maybe I too can be that person for someone else.

I feel this huge surge of pride every time I take the field. No, I’m not first, not the quickest, and can’t get that shot off as fast as I use to, but no matter. Console yourself with these words: at least you’re out there.

We hear all sorts of negativity: “you’re going to slow down,” ” you’re going to get old and your knees will hurt,” and “things change after 40.” Yeah, the body changes, but life isn’t even close to over at 40. It’s not over at your wedding. It’s not over when you get pregnant. It’s not over when you have your first baby or your fifth. You’ll have to work to “get back,” but didn’t you have to work when you were 15? I tell you what, I’m way faster and can run way farther than I ever could at 15.

And I happen to think that’s wicked cool.

Two weekends ago I ran the Cape Cod half-marathon. Robin is a veteran runner with dozen of halfs and full marathons behind her. She’s 48, my friends, and she’s still going at it! My sister-in-law, Jill, is 44 and just finished her FIRST half marathon, running under 2 hours! So impressive. This is only the beginning.

half6

Thank you, Brendaen, for the pictures! I used the semi-decent ones…ugh, you should see some of my running shots 🙁

half4 Want another good reason to run? You get bling bling!

amy2One of the most rewarding parts of sports as a mom is having your children cheer you on, an odd but needful reversal of of roles. Yes, mom has legs. Yes, mom has hobbies. Yes, mom has interests others than chore charts. Yes, mom is a person! Mom kindof rocks.

amy1And no, she’s not ever going to stop trying!

This was at mile 6. I had downloaded the Hamilton CD. The song “I am not throwing away my shot” was on repeat. 🙂

jill2 Jill came through the finish line blowing kisses to her daughters and husband – it was SO cool. “Wow, mom just ran 13.1 miles!” Remember all those mornings when she got up before we were up to get in her training run before she had to help us pack a lunch and drive us to school before she could even eat or take a shower? Wow, GO MOM. This moment? So empowering.

half3I ran the Cape Cod half with my friend, Eric, in mind. Eric is in the late stages of ALS and cannot move any part of his body except to blink, speak some, and move his fingers. We stayed with Eric’s parents at the cape and when I was out there on the road, I thought of Eric. What would he give to be able to run just once more? Maybe we should move just because we CAN.

jill4You did it. And it was so not easy. So proud.

Stats from the Cape Cod half were eye-opening. There were 1,307 female runners. Of the top ten female finishers, four were in their 20s (29, 29, 24). Four were in their 30s (33, 34, 32, 33), one was 49, and one was 52! They all ran super close races, too. The first place 29-year-old ran a 1:16:52; 5:49 minute/mile splits for 13.1 miles – wicked fast!

The 52-year-old woman ran a 1:30:57; that’s a 7:01 minute/mile pace for 13.1 miles! At 52 years old.

Overall, the women 39 and under ran faster than women in their 40s; but the 40s, 50s, and 60-year-olds were still competitive. Sidney Letendre, a 62-year-old ran a 1:40:31; 7:40 minute mile splits! And Nancy Spiro, age 74, ran a 2:15:39. Of course, these are the top finishers in their age group, but there were many many more runners post-40 runner. Incredible. Inspirational.

Think it’s all talent? Oh no. It’s time and training. Which is good news for us all: we can all do it.

Don’t think it’s going to get easier when “the kids are older.” Twice a week I run at 5, not because I want to but because it’s the only time I can fit it in. It’s kindof horrible. But I’m realizing life is not slowing down anytime soon, and tomorrow has a way of turning into never. There is only today.

A few years ago I emailed running coach, Jason Fitzgerald of strengthrunning.com, to ask if he knew if their women in their 40s were running faster than women in their 20s and 30s, or if I was making this up. We couldn’t come up with any scientific answers except anecdotally. In our 20s and young 30s, women tend to be in the pregnancy and child rearing years, taking them out of the competition stage. But what I love about that, is that many are coming back to run or starting to run for the first time in their later 30s or early 40s. Next time you’re at a race, check the stats – women in their 40s and 50s are getting after it.

I write this post as an anthem to YOU! To women. Your life is not over at 20, at 30, not 40 or 70. Not by a long shot. Your knees might creak a bit more (stretch your butt!) and you might need more of a warm-up than you did at 14. You may get sidelined for awhile. You might even need a knee or hip replacement and you might have battled a cancer scare, but I tell you what, I know a lot of women who can walk and run and bike farther and faster than many many kids. It’s not because they’re the “lucky ones.” It’s not all that mysterious. It’s because they’re putting in a little bit of time, a little bit of dedication to use that amazing body of theirs.

Love you girls. Use that smokin’ hot body of yours 🙂 If you love it, it will love you back. Guaranteed.

Okay. Now go schedule something. Put it on the calendar. Make your friend sign up too and you’ve got an accountability buddy instead of a wish. Go get it.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. -Henry David Thoreau

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How to Make Homemade Gatorade

Why make Gatorade when you can buy it?

Because, my friends, this is a “clean” drink that is far better for your brain, heart, muscles, GI tract, and bloodstream. And I bet you have the ingredients in your pantry right now…and if not, they are easy to procure!

No more this…gatorade7Instead, let’s start measuring some apple cider vinegar. Say what? Yes, it’s true. This original recipe comes from No Meat Athlete, with two tablespoons apple cider vinegar. But after a children’s taste testing, I trimmed it down to one.gatorade6 Next, some maple syrup. Ah…now I’ve got you, right?gatorade5 And some salt. When you lick your arm after a run, do you taste the sweat? (you do lick your arm, right? 🙂 ) Your body needs to replace that salt (electrolytes!)gatorade4 Next: water and juice and that’s it!gatorade3 A little posing for the camera…gatorade1 Now put in fridge and watch the kids fill up their water bottles and play like champs! gatorade2

Homemade Grape Gatorade

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups 100% grape juice

Directions: stir it all together and gulp!

Do we really need Gatorade? No, not unless we’ve been exercising about two hours and sweating like fiends. Water is best before and during a sporting event, but after a hard workout, it’s nice to refuel quickly with something a little more flavorful. I’m not actually a huge grape juice fan, but with this recipe, I like it. I liked it better than the first time I made it with cranberry-pomegranate. Use whatever juice you like, but make sure it’s 100%; we don’t need to be adding any more sugary drinks to our diet.

Other tips…

  • Refrigerate overnight and the flavors will meld and mellow a bit.
  • Put in ice cube tray and pop them into water bottles the next day for some next-day fuel.
  • Switch up the flavors to see what you like best.

Enjoy!

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Two Girls Running

This was the weekend of two girls running, me and my Brynnie. When all the training from the last several days, weeks, months, and years culminated into something golden. That’s what running is: a very personal affair.

IMG_2302 When the 5 a.m. morning runs are worth it. Because often, at 4:30 a.m., they definitely don’t feel worth it. The is a “wishful thinking” sunrise. These days, we start in the dark and end in the dark, running only by the light of the headlamp. When I asked Brynne to join me she said, “NO WAY.”

I’m particularly grateful as Me and the Training Table were best friends a month ago:IMG_2283 We spent quality time together, with our amazing friend and athletic trainer, Kelly. She got my IT band back to cooperating. I was made to roll on the foam roller, stretch, strengthen, ice, and stem. Geez, am I getting older?IMG_2284 Stem is when you get hooked up and shocked with electrodes. It feels like little needles poking at you. Electric currents stimulate the muscles around your injury and interrupt the pain signals, reducing inflammation and swelling. At one point last month I was in so much pain I could not run at all, and could only walk with a limp, eating ibuprofen for lunch. Oh, those were the dog days of September.

The upside of being sick or injured is the humility, and the reminder that we are lucky to have such miraculous bodies that know how to heal. It’s magic. I remember one afternoon when I  I could finally run across the soccer field, I wanted to sing-song like Buddy the Elf, I love my legs and I don’t care who knows it!

This amazing book helped Kelly diagnose me…it’s fabulous and would make a great Christmas gift 🙂

51RHNdnmIpL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_

IMG_2448 Being injured is hard. I’m so impatient. I worry I’m losing all the training. Would I ever run again? Could I go on living if I couldn’t run? Drama queen.IMG_2101 Meanwhile, Brynne was doing her thing, training every day with her cross-country team. She’s only in 6th grade, but lucky to be coached by fabulous coaches who live and breathe running and correct training principles. The improvement made in mere weeks leaves me in awe. It once again solidifies everything I know about achieving anything: it’s ALL about the training.

Brynne suffered some setbacks too. Sometimes she had pain in her hamstrings, knees, and gluts (gotta stretch the butt!) We both focused on eating well, drinking more water, smoothies for breakfast, protein at every meal, and getting sleep.

IMG_2594With two weeks left before my 13.1 and Brynne’s state meet, we ran through trails, with full hearts and clear eyes (can’t lose!)

When you run a half-marathon, the long run is the most important run of the week. Ideally, you run at least a couple of 10 or 12-milers. I was lucky to get two ten-milers in with my running buddy the last two weekends before the race. The first 10-miler I was limping afterward. The second time, after a lot of glut stretching, I was feeling good.

Now, could I run a race at a faster pace with more mileage than I had trained for? Could I pull out a personal win?

5549833133_f0701357b2_b Well, I sure was going to try! October 24th was our day. My race was at Cape Cod, at 7:30 a.m. Luckily, Brynne’s state meet was on the way home, in the afternoon. I could finish my run and find my way to my girl in New Hampshire. All the stars would align, right?

unnamed-3 unnamed-2

While we were driving, my Cope, OUT AT SEA, called…her only phone call of the whole trip! What a treat. She’s well. She’s happy. The hurricanes and whales are cooperating. Man, I can’t wait to see her.

Cape_Cod_National_Seashore I drove to the Cape with my friend, Robin, who likes to run half-marathons on her birthday. How awesome is that? We arrived in Falmouth on Friday night and were greeted by the sweetest hosts ever: Leonard & Patty! Patty made us a delicious mac ‘n cheese and apple cobbler before we were tucked into our matching twin beds at 9pm that overlooked the water. The 1890 house (with lovely wallpaper!) was dreamy and made me want to stay and write a novel. But first I had to run.

IMG_2683 One of the most anticipated moments of any race is how good the shirt is. The Cape Cod Half gets an A+++. Love me this tech-shirt. Fabulous fish.

It was an early start, chilly and overcast – perfect running weather. The course was flat and curved out by the water, with friendly crowds and many water stops. My goal was to run a 1:45 which meant steady 8 min/miles. Sub 8s would be a home run. I glanced at my watch only a couple of times, wanting to run by feel. The lasts three miles are always the toughest, but just as I began the last mile one of my favorite childhood songs came on: Xanadu. I felt the same happiness and sense of possibility I did when I was rollerskating in the dark basement when I was 10 :).

I could hear Brynne’s voice in my head, too, when just weeks earlier, we were running a 5k together and in the middle of mile 2, arguably the hardest mile, she said, “I’M SO GLAD I HAVE LEGS!”

Yes, this was that feeling – I’M SO GLAD I HAVE LEGS! I came through the finish line with a 1:44 and thanked God once again that I had legs that could run.

IMG_2713 Loved the Finishers Medal – another fish!

Birthday girl Robin came soon after. We hugged. And all was right in the world. Who’s in for next year with us???? IMG_2696 These thermal wraps were terrific

IMG_2706 I love to watch a finisher’s face. The pain and joy is always apparent. Let me tell you something else, ladies. I could not have run a 1:44 time in my teen years or my 20s because I had not paid the training price. I remember when a 5k felt like a killer. I remember when I had to walk during 8-milers and ten miles seemed totally impossible. Talent and health was there, but not the time and training. I really love watching a woman realize her potential late in life – because it’s never too late!

Afterwards, we climbed into the car and drove back over the bridge, headed toward the state track meet where our children were waiting to run.IMG_2709

We arrived to see these girls at the start line, just beginning their warm-ups.IMG_2714 Aren’t they glorious?IMG_2711 And then the gun fired! Anxiety turned to exhilaration.NH Middle School XC Championship-117-X2 warmups Love these girls and their determination.DSC_0154 Brynne is #80. “I look so desperate,” she said. Yeah, sometimes that’s how it feels. She ran a 2-miler and it was hard but she finished strong. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort.unnamed Two Girls Running. And Paigey there to cheer us on! Soon, I suspect she’ll be running girl #3.IMG_2717 IMG_2682We headed home on a cold Saturday evening, exhausted, relieved, glad the day was done. And started talking about the next one…

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Black Fly Blitz

The local 5k, named after the famous New England nemesis:  the black fly.  Note:  Do not use scented body butter as a lotion during black fly season.  You WILL regret it.  Thank you again, Clin, for that lovely wedding gift.  Anyway, Memorial Day we had a great family day at the races:
 

Wait…who is that little kid comin’?  Is that Nellie?

Yes!  It is our Nelson boy!  He was amazing, finishing with a 29 min. time.  He’s close to beating his mother…

Brothers.  Steven and David stretching

Calves

Our Nate is now a famous broadcast journalist in Richmond Virginia.  He came to see us and run a good race.

And there’s Nate?  Beating ALL of us with a 22 min time?  My my, you’ve come a long way baby from running barefoot around the streets of West Jordan.  Just goes to show, you can reinvent yourself at any time.

The family chowing on free food

The starting line with the Reynold twins, Matt and Dave.  Their mother is getting my booty out of bed at 4:30 twice a week.  The amazing thing is, it’s working.  I’m faster than I have been in ten years.  Training does work!

Allison, David, Dad, and Peter

Take note:  Ben Castleton kicked my butt and he was pushing two children in a jogger.  Wow.  Cousins Hailey and Chloe were with us for this great running party.  Hope you can come again next year!
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Wicked Cool Watch

From Gregor and the kiddies…to me!
Very excited for my next run
Featuring a GPS satellite system
Tracks your mile pace
Total miles
Beeps if not within zone
Workouts: Quick, Interval, and Advanced
Navigation
For running, cycling, XC skiing…any sport…any movement
Tracks heart rate
Download onto computer and track progress
Been wanting; Gregor delivered.  Thank you love!
Come run with me
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Good-bye old friend

Three years ago I signed up for my first marathon.  The New Hampshire marathon boasted 26 miles of beautiful views and humungo hills.  It was true to the boast.  My brother Patrick ran it with me and after finishing said, “That was awful.”  The bright spot for that race however, was a gift my husband presented to me the night before the race – the ipod shuffle.  From the very start, this gadget and I were a team.  I could load American Idol, my “country crap,” Neil Diamond, or Beyonce, and no one could moan or scream for Winnie the Pooh.  Just me, my shuffle, and the wide open road.
Kelly Clarkson has gotten me through grueling hills, and U2 has sprinted me to the end zone.
Alas, during a recent workout the cord snagged on a doorway and ripped apart.  Oh horror was this!  It worked again, with some super glue, but could not load any songs or charge.  I knew our days together were numbered.  
It happened this week.  It stopped.  Ran out of juice.  Kaput.
Good-bye old friend.
One must remember that all good things come to an end.  When one door closes, another one opens.  The door opened!  Gregor came home with a gadget Proctor is having him try out, keep?  Who knows.  He had the the ipod touch.
This is no shuffle.  He can text, email, gps, look at this blog! load gazillions of songs.  So I tried it out.  For all it’s glory, I liked my shuffle better.  The touch was almost too complicated for me.  Gregor couldn’t understand.  This great gift and I can’t appreciate it?
“I hate holding it,” I said.
“We’ll get an armband,” he responded.
“We don’t run to the same songs,” I countered.
“Make a playlist.”
“It’s too complicated,” I whined.
“Mess around with it. You’ll get it,” he said with patient exasperation.
“It’s so big!  It’s not runner-friendly.”
“Amy.”

It is pretty cool.  And an armband will help.

But this is what I’m craving.  Simple. Cheap!  And it’s pink!

Mulling another option.  This is the Nike Plus.  Pretty awesome.  For $30 you can use this with the ipod touch.  You put the gps gadget in your Nike shoe.  It will tell you how far you’ve run and your mile pace.  The downside?  You always have to buy Nike shoes.  I don’t.
So many options.
I didn’t have that armband today so I ran with nothing.  I just ran.  Alone.  No music.  
You know what?  It was great.  The weather was perfect.  The morning was still sleepy and quiet.  I ran on the newly completed rail trail and really noticed the gorgeous creeks and woods.  Birds twittering.  I heard my feet hitting the rocks.  I heard each inhale and exhale.  I actually heard myself think.
I thought, “This is why I run.”
So I’ll miss my old friend, my ipod shuffle.  And I’ll run with music again.  But every once in awhile I’ll remember to put away the gadgets.  And I’ll just run.  Maybe singing,
“You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need!”
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Bruce Springsteen – Sing It to Me!

Gregor came home early yesterday.  Before 5.  Unheard of!  Potatoes were in the oven, dinner almost ready.  But I said “see ya.”  Put on my winter running gear, turned up the ipod and chased some pavement.

This was me:

I returned 40 minutes later to semi-burnt potatoes, but I didn’t care.  
This was me:

Seriously.  Just gotta run.  It does wonders.
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