Just to let you know- this blog is no longer active. I'll be keeping up my 101 in 1001 list until its completion, but will not be writing new posts. You can read the post below if you want the long version. Thanks for the journey to all my friends in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Running for Two

Yep, as clichéd as that title is, I couldn't help it!

You may have noticed I've been pretty absent here (even after coming back from my "break") and that's my big excuse. Since September, I've been pretty obsessed with the fact that I'm pregnant and it's been kind of hard to write any kind of blog post that didn't reflect that in some way.

Now I can finally post my horrible, embarrassing 30 minutes+ 5k times because I have an explanation! (As long as I don't compare myself to all the hardcore pregnant women who barely break a stride after they find out they're expecting.)

I could do a very long "Things I Didn't Expect, Even Though I've Done an Insane Amount of Research" post about pregnancy thus far (and I just may at some point) but I'll suffice to say just one today:

First Trimester is no joke.

I knew all about "morning sickness," but I didn't know realize that even if you don't turn out to be the puking-every-day type, you may still just feel awful and icky...in fact, awful and icky enough that your sassy, confident 8-mile runs the day after getting that positive test might turn into weeks without putting in more than 10 minutes.

But at 17 weeks(!) that is all behind me now! Tomorrow morning, my friend (who due 3 days after me) is coming over for a run and a prenatal pilates DVD. Maybe I'll actually have something to write about again...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Value of Kindness

I know I've been a terrible blogger...returning from a break to then write nothing for a month. And what I'm about to share doesn't have a thing to do with running; I just need to share what's on my heart.

As you may, or may not, recall, I have a new position this year and although I work in two schools and am in and out of classrooms frequently, I don't have my own class to teach. I enjoy the work I'm doing with the teachers, administrators, and curriculum, and feel that what I do benefits the teachers and students in my schools. I have to admit though, I do sometimes miss having my own little class of babies.

Yesterday, I got out of a meeting early, drove to my former school, and did what I've been desperately needing to do for a while: see and hug my kids. If you don't think absence makes the heart grow fonder, go back to an elementary school you used to teach at and watch their little faces light up. Even students who, by their own admission, were exceedingly glad to get out of my class, gave me hugs and asked when I'd be back.

I think about all my former students and hope they're happy and successful, but the reason I so badly need to see these students from last year is that there is one less of them that I'm able to hug. In my class year, there was a little sweet and feisty girl. She was with us for the first few months of the school year, and her classmates and I were sad to see her go when she transferred to a nearby school.

Last week, that little girl took her own life. Everyone who knew her is heartbroken. I spent the day I found out falling apart- and she was only in my life for a few months. I know for her family, friends, and those at her school that the pain is unbearable. It made me sick to my stomach to imagine her feeling so desperate that she felt she had no other choice.

I keep thinking back to the time she was in my class and to all of the students who I have been so blessed to teach over the years. I used to worry that as a new teacher, I was too concerned with my students as whole and should have been more focused on just the bare academics to get them where they needed to be. Once, after receiving some student test results that weren't what I expected, I confided this in another teacher, crying over how I had failed my students.

What she told me was exceedingly kind and changed my whole mindset of myself as a teacher: "We can work one the test scores. You've taught them the content, you just need to make them take the test seriously. You are a good teacher and your students love being in your class. Everyday, your students go home knowing you love them."

And, honestly, despite all the hoopla about testing and rigor and 21st century skills, that's the most important thing to me- showing my students that they are loved. I knew it the day she told me and last week, it rang truer to me than ever. As educators, as parents, as just human beings, showing love and kindness is the most important thing we can do for any child. I don't think that shows weakness and I know it doesn't run counter to a child's success. (For what it's worth, my kids' test scores went up dramatically at their next test.) I have never regretted the time I took to listen to a child that needed me or for a important class discussion that ran into math time. I wish I had kept up longer each year with student journals where my babies wrote me little notes that sometimes brought me to tears. I'm not just talking about sweetness and sunshine though. Sometimes that love has to be tough love, but being firm and consistent is also a great kindness to a child who needs a guiding hand.

As silly as I might sound to quote J.K. Rowling at a time like this, there is a line that Dumbledore tells Harry that has stuck me with ever since:

Just like your mother, you’re unfailingly kind. A trait people never fail to undervalue, I’m afraid.

Unfailing kind. I'd like to be more like that. I know for a fact that it is undervalued, but the value to one little child might be all that matters.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Race Envy

Despite my big plans back in July and August, my fall racing plans have fallen through for a number of reasons. I can't complain because I've been plenty busy with other things, but I can't help but feel just a teensy bit jealous of all of you gearing up for your fall races.

I did have one race besides my pathetically slow 5K though! I forgot to tell y'all about the triathlon relay I did last month. Before I got married (and moved an hour away from the closest indoor pool), I did sprint triathlons on a pretty regular basis. I've said it before, but triathlons are so. much. fun. When I've got access to train in a pool, I'd like to work my way up to an Olympic distance triathlon and a half-ironman, but that won't be anytime in the foreseeable future.

I had never participated in a triathlon relay though and was so excited to get an invitation this summer to be the swim leg in a relay at the beach in September. (My husband was not as thrilled...triathlons make even less sense to him than marathons because of all the gear and logistics and set-up required. I have to give him credit though because he was trooper and was at the race site at 5:45 a.m. with me.)

The swim was in the channel and I was a little nervous because I had never swam in the channel before, it was a little chilly, and my training had been somewhat sporadic. (Think random YMCA visits while visiting family and going on day trips + swimming laps in tiny hotel pools while out of town.) Once we got in though, the swim was great and I felt really good about it. I guess my teammates had lower expectations because they were THRILLED with my time and that made me pretty happy too.

My teammates invited me to swim with them again in Beach to Battleship Half-Ironman that's today, but I wasn't able to do so, which is why I guess my case of race envy is kicking in now. Oh well...maybe I should at least get out of my pajamas and channel that envy into a run!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's easy to get an age group award...

...when you're the only one in your age group!

In my experience, most 19-24 year-olds are still in bed at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings and the those who do run are racing in college and not worrying about little 5Ks and 10Ks on the weekends. Therefore I've been able to get several age group awards while I was still in my "early twenties."

Fast forward to my "late twenties" and the field seems much more competitive. These women are college runners who are over being burnt out and ready to run again, mommy-runner fanatics who can outpace me even pushing a giant stroller, and hardcore workout fiends who wouldn't dream of sleeping in on Saturdays.

They didn't show up to my race on Saturday though! I was able to stroll right through at a leisurely pace and still take home a medal. Is it pathetic that I'm still excited about my only age group award this fall?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Making Runners Instead of Running for Myself

Well, I'm back from my blog hiatus and all, but I'm quickly realizing I don't have a lot to talk about in the running sphere right now. As I mentioned, I'm not really training for anything in particular right now, and even though I'm running, there's not a whole lot of adventure going on with that.

In fact, when I look back over the course of this year, my running theme has definitely been geared towards making new runners.

Since January, I...
  • Attended Girls on the Run training.
  • Coached a Girls on the Run team of 26 third, fourth, and fifth grade girls.
  • Convinced 4 other teachers at that school that they liked running enough to get trained themselves and they are now coaching our county's first STRIDE (boys running) teams.
  • Helped two good friends get through their first long runs and 1/2 marathons.
  • Ran alongside my college roommate in her first marathon. (Although, technically I was not beside her as she finished because she's much more hardcore than me and was done a good 1/2 hour before me....)
  • Organized the second annual Farmers Market Run/Walk 5K at no cost to the participants.
  • Talked another 3 coaches and 1 school into Girls on the Run.
  • Started an informal Saturday running club.
  • Started coaching our county's first Girls on Track team at a new school.
  • Somehow, some way, got talked into organizing another local 5K....
Actually, I'm really excited about this 5K we're planning for December because it's cutesy (we're thinking about ordering a few of these...
), there are other people who are really excited about this event and helping to plan it, it's going to be so exciting for all our little running teams to get together, and we're raising some funds to help pay for our spring teams!

Suddenly, I feel don't feel so pathetic that I haven't had any PRs, tackled any new distances, or lost that weight that's been slowing me down this year. (Okay, that still sounds a little pathetic.)

One of my adorable little middle school runners asked me the other day, "Why did you want to start this running club with us?" Well, because I love running and I want that little girl, her teammates, and anybody else I can convince to love it too. It's not too much to ask, is it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weak Ankles...

I've mentioned before how fortunate I've been to have a mostly injury-free running career thus far. This can probably be mostly attributed to the fact that, even when I've been marathon training, I've never been nearly as hardcore as most of the runners I envy.

Besides a few minor knee incidences (solved just with rest), my only other issue is that I have pathetic weak ankles. It is not usual for me to step funny on a foot and roll my ankle for a second. Usually, this is remedied by the old "walk it off," and it's fine.

Well, yesterday, at Girls on Track practice, that strategy did not work and I felt pretty stupid. During one of our relays, I rolled my ankle, proceed to tried to jog on it, and then got light-headed, unable to finish instructions for the next activity, and had to sit down in the grass. I knew I would be fine in a second (as long as I didn't try to keep going....did I mention I gave blood the other day? I really didn't want a repeat of this.)

This is the difference between elementary and middle school girls. My elementary girls would have freaked out, covering me with their little hands and asking if I was okay. My middle school girls looked at me funny. One of them asked, rightly so, "Umm...how are we supposed to run if you are in the way?" It kind of cracked me up.

Anyway, I can't complain because my ankle didn't even swell- it's just a little sore and I'm going to stay off it a few days. Well...at least until run club in the morning.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

PR*Bars Review

As I alluded to a couple days ago, today marks my first blog review!

Jordan from Kel & Partners agency contacted me to offer a sampling of PR*Bars to review here a while back, and finally between a lost package and a blog break, the stars have aligned!

Over the past couple weeks, I've tested the PR*Bars in a variety of settings- as fuel before 8 and 7 mile runs, a hearty mid-afternoon snack, a breakfast running out the door, a half-dinner before 4 miles, and a post-run snack.

I don't mess around too much with my running fuel because I've had a few icky gels that I wasn't too impressed with, but the PR*Bars seemed to do the trick. When I had my "Iced Brownie" (yes, chocolate appeals me to even at 6:40 in the morning) PR*Bar before heading out a few weeks ago, I met up with a friend for what I thought would just be a couple miles, but it turned into 8. I usually have a gel if I'm running over an hour, but I didn't have one with me and was surprised to find that I didn't need one. Usually I get draggy around mile 5 and don't recover as well if I don't have a gel, but I really think having the PR*Bar before gave me more sustained energy than I usually have during a long run.

I had similar results with the other ones I had with my other runs, though 8 was my longest. They're a good size and sweetness/heartiness level for a heavy snack or quick breakfast too. The claim is that the PR*Bar formula "eliminates hunger, increases mental focus, and optimizes performance by controlling blood sugars and using body fat for fuel." I didn't exactly produce a scientific experiment to test this, but they did fill me up quickly. I'm interested in using the PR*Bars in the future when I'm in more of a challenging training mode, but they worked fine for my needs right now.

I got the chance to try 5 of the flavors- Iced Brownie (had a chocolate glaze that I liked), Oatmeal Raisin Granola (more like a traditional granola bar), Chocolate Peanut (again, it's hard to go wrong with a chocolate glaze-almost tasted a little like a Reese's cup), Peanut Butter Granola, and Apple Pie (which I was surprised to like so much because usually I don't like fruity bars like this, but it had a sweet glaze to it as well.) All the bars have this crunchy taste, kind of like a Kit-Kat bar. This is not my very favorite texture, but I thought it went really well with the Peanut Butter Granola (which turned out to be my favorite) and the Chocolate Peanut.

All in all, the PR*Bars were a success and I would recommend them if you are looking for a crunchy-sweet bar to fuel longer runs or substitute for a quick breakfast or snack. You can read all the scientific training information and see their nutrition plans at their website at www.prbar.com/.

*I was send these bars for free in exchange for a review, but was not paid or required to write a positive review...does that count as a disclaimer? This was my very first blog review, remember?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Remember my Diet Coke Experiment?

So this summer, I gave up Diet Coke (which for me, translates to "all soda") for a month. A few individuals (possibly including my mother and my husband) thought this was pretty pointless since I was just going cold turkey for 31 days and then welcoming Diet Coke back into my life.

I just viewed it as an experiment. And, several months later now, it turns out, it worked.

I did continue to crave Diet Coke the whole month and didn't know what to expect when I had that first cold sip on Day 32. I'm not going to lie- it was amazing. I missed it so much, which sounds like a really pathetic thing to admit to the world via the internet.

I was somewhat cured. Instead of the 2, 3, 4, or 5 daily cans I was knocking back prior to the experiment, I was down to a few a week. I patted myself on the back and was content to stay there.

However, to my surprise, I found that after a couple months of this, I didn't even really enjoy the few I was having. I rarely finished my can of Diet Coke when I had one and I usually regretted the lost dollar or two at the restaurant while I sipped my watery, improperly-carbonated beverage. The last one can I had just tasted so chemically and gross to me that I ended up pouring it out after one taste...which is painful for me because I hate to waste food.

And here I am, one addiction short! I'm not saying I've completely cut out all soda forever or that I think it's just the most terrible most awful thing for you (my body would probably really appreciate if I cut out sugar instead!), but overall, I'm over it.

Sugar, watch your back!

Okay, obviously, I was totally kidding about that last part. I'm never giving up sugar. Ever. Excuse me while I go off to the kitchen to make some no-bake oatmeal cookies!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why, hello!

It's that time again. Time for me to explain where I've been for the past 6 weeks or so while the blogworld has revolved without me. Well, here and there, this and that. Which makes sense to address in bullet-point format, correct?
  • For once, I'm really content with my running without being registered for a darn thing. Usually, I can't make myself get out there if I don't have a big race looming in the distance, but now that I have run club on Saturdays, long runs early Sunday morning with my church friends (one of whom is half-marathon training), and Girls on Track practice twice a week, I'm lacing up my shoes more than half the days of the week. Which is pretty remarkable for me.
  • I officially love my new job. Even though I feel like I'm never in the same place for more than a hot second, I love working with the teachers and feel that I've been able to be helpful to them. (I hope they feel the same way!)
  • Middle school girls aren't as scary as I feared. In fact, they're pretty darn lovable and they don't pinch each other. (Not that all my elementary girls were pinchers, but it's just one of those things that happens sometimes when you're seven.) Girls on Track has been a joy so far.
  • My cousin got married in Detroit and our family had such a nice little reunion. I feel so grateful that even though my sisters, cousins, and I all grew up, we can still get together with our families and still get along like little kids excited to see each other. Even though we go months or (more often) years without seeing them, we can just fall into step with them and talk like no time has passed.
  • This girl who grew up without a TV has a embarrassing number of guilty pleasures scattered throughout my week right now: Sing Off, Parenthood, Modern Family, The Office, Parks and Rec....oh my. That's a lot of shows. Don't tell my mom.
  • I've knocked a few more things off my 101 in 1001 list but I'm itching to cross off a few more- especially some of those that have lingering "in progress" for a looong time. Numbers 20, 21, 46, 49, 51, and 62 better watch out this month! Don't let me get away with not giving a 101 in 1001 update by Halloween!
  • I'm doing my very first blog review on Wednesday! I don't plan on going crazy with those (in fact, I don't have any others on the horizon) but who am I to turn away free snacks?
  • Oh, wasn't I supposed to have it "all together" by the time I came back from my blog break? Yeah, that didn't happen. But I've made some pretty good progress...I'll keep filling you in.
Hope everyone's week and October is off to a lovely start! I'm excited to catch up with all of your adventures.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Making a Temporary Exit

This week, I started my new job! I'm so excited about how great a fit this position is already and love the schools I'm in. (Although I still miss everyone at my old school and am a little sad not to be getting ready for a new classful of babies this year.) I really enjoy the work I'm doing and feel like it's needed and helpful to teachers, so that's pretty hard to beat!

However, between that, gearing up half-marathon training, reminding myself how to keep up with laundry/cleaning and work at the same time, and hopefully starting a Girls on Track team soon, my calendar (yes, I caved with the rest of the blogworld and got a Erin Condren planner (half off!) which I LOVE and don't remember life before...I may be working on a home organization binder too- you bloggers just have such good ideas!) is getting pretty jammed pack.

So, in order to keep me focused, I'm taking a little blog break. When I come back in a few weeks, I plan to have it all together, so blogging will seamlessly fit into my schedule, right? (Never mind that every other time I thought I would "have it all together" it never has worked...)

Because I know I just can't help myself, I'll probably be poking in to read a little, but my goal is to mostly stay off the computer in my free time, so I'll be desperate to catch up on all the little details of where you've been running/what you've been reading/what pictures you've taken/what you're dressing your babies in/what you're cooking and all the other details I'll miss!
Be back in a little bit!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sounds of Nature = Slow

This morning I met up with my running club (still makes me excited to say that!), but a lot of people are out of town, so it was just me and another girl. It was really great to have someone to run with though and we got in a pretty brisk (for me) 3 miles.

She was done for the day so I kept trucking to get in 2 more for my "long" 5-miler. I didn't have my iPod because I had been running with her, and after about 0.3 of a mile by myself I realized I never run without music or talking anymore.

I didn't give into the whole iPod thing until late 2007, but I've gradually adjusted to running with music every time I head out alone. So it seemed a little eerily quiet without it today.

Which is what I blame my walking at least a mile of my run on.

I like hearing the birds and watching for squirrels and being "one with nature" and all that, but it really just makes me want to be slow and lazy. (It may have had something to do with me still being really out of shape too....)

I'll be getting the iPod back out tomorrow.

Do y'all run with music all the time, part of the time, or never? Maybe I'll FINALLY post my 25 Running Songs tomorrow!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Half Marathon Training Plan- Finally!

After a ridiculously hot and ridiculously low mileage summer, I'm really ready for a fall training plan.

I've decided to just go for a half this fall instead of a full marathon. Part of me is really, really wiggling to go 26.2 again, but I'm going to be practical this time and do a close-by, familiar 13.1 course. It's Battleship Half Marathon, round 3!

This course was my first half in 2004 and my PR in 2007. I would LOVE to break that PR and think I might have it in me if I get serious right soon. (Sidenote: I was run-streaking when I got that PR. At that point, I had been running daily for around 6 months. Maybe that's my best chance for getting back in shape?)

Inspired by L and her fancy marathon training plan, I whipped up my own in Excel for the first time. (I have been using a layer on my Google Calendar, but Google Calendar and I are not agreeing with each other as of late.) I was loosely following this plan because I liked that you got a 15-miler in there.

So, this is what I have in mind:

I included the triathlon swim I'll be doing in September and the one I might be swimming in October, but there may be a few little 5Ks sneaked in there too. If I actually keep up with it, this will be the best trained I've ever been for a half marathon, so the PR could be in reach.

Excited for fall training! Hopefully, the weather will be cooperating soon too! How do y'all make your training plans?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Excitement!

Okay, technically, this probably isn't big excitement to anybody but me, but...

I've kind of been here and there with my blogging and running and everything else lately. It's late summer when I get kind of panicky trying to decide how to spend my last couple weeks of freedom- Finish all those projects I'm supposed to be working on? Get ready for the coming school year? Just relax and save up my energy for back-to-school? (Obviously, when I take two seconds to think about it though, I remind myself just to be completely grateful that I have this time at all.)

I'm excited to announce though that as of last night, I'm feeling a lot more confident of the direction that things are going! I just found out that I've been "promoted" ("promoted" instead of just promoted because it's not a pay raise) to a position where I'll get to help teachers and plan curriculum instead of having my own classroom. It's a little bittersweet because I won't be at the same school (where I love the community, the kids, and everyone I work with) and part of me will really miss having my own classroom of "babies." I'm really, really thrilled though about getting to help other teachers with their teaching and technology and about being in more of a professional role. This also puts me in a better position to expand Girls on the Run in our county and I will probably be coaching two Girls on Track (middle school girls) programs this year!

The big question for the blog, of course, is: What effect will this have on my running?!

I'll keep you informed!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Diary,

Today, still all sweaty and gross from my morning run (I am running- I've just been too lazy to keep up with dailymile), knowing that I should be mowing the lawn, but wanting to do anything but, I went up to the attic to crack open my "childhood mementos" box. I was looking for a tape that my parents recorded about me for a sixth grade project. The only thing I remember from that tape is my dad saying I "have a low tolerance for pain," which , in retrospect, sounds like a really creepy thing to say about a child, but I guess in my dad's recent memory was an episode of me getting a splinter and howling as my mother the unforgiving doctor removed it.

Before I could late the tape, I laid my hands on an equally exciting discovery- my diary from grades 2 - 9.
After spending 20 minutes skimming back over those pages, equal parts amused and embarrassed, I've come to several conclusions.

1. I need to be keeping a journal. (I know I've got this whole blog thing, but I'm just never going to lay it all on the line here.) Yes, the middle school obsessions about boys and the use of the word, "phat" is kind of painful to read, but it's worth it for the gift of being able to look back to those earlier versions of myself.

2. I have always loved writing, had a quirky tone, and overused parentheses.

3. People don't change that much. At least I haven't. I have always been fearful of losing memories,
(I then proceeded to ramble on about my haircut in preschool and my best friends in each grade), a little neurotic/dramatic/emotional (That's my first first diary entry when I'm in second grade. Paranoid much?),

obsessed with my weight (I bragged about losing 6 pounds when I was 8), had jealousy issues (apparently, my best friend Ashley got a letter congratulating her for good grades in third grade, even though my grades were just as good as hers), and surrounded myself with "best friends."

4. I had a charmed childhood. Despite my neuroses and my inability to get the stars to aligh to match me up with a boy I liked who liked me until well past the end of this diary, I had year after year of best friends, camps, slumber parties, family trips, school dances, and favorite teachers. Literally, the worst thing that ever happened to me (according to me in seventh grade) was when Earl, a boy I had a crush on and sat with on the bus, moved away and I didn't get to say goodbye because I had tennis practice that afternoon. Really? That's charmed.

5. When my future children get old enough to scratch out words, the very first gift I'm giving them is a diary with a lock. They will be instructed to never tell anyone the code and to hide it in a place Mommy would never look. It's going to take every ounce of self-control I have not to sneak a peek, but I want them to be free to write whatever they want. Even if it's misspelling how "cruel" my parents have been.

Here's a few more gems:

Apparently, snarkiness starts in third grade. (Although I totally knew that since I've taught third graders.)

I sound pretty smug about that reading group and getting chosen first by my smart crush in Seven Up. This must have been before I didn't get the letter about good grades when Ashley did.

This is me describing the guy I had a crush on in middle school. He sounds like a real keeper, right?

This made me laugh harder than anything else. Apparently I wrote this note to the boy I liked in sixth grade that I obviously was never going to send, but it must have been cathartic for me to write it because I saved it in my diary. You can tell it was the nineties by the unashamed use of Printshop Deluxe.

Okay, I might have laughed even harder at this. It sounds disgusting, but I guess at the time, my sister and I thought that was good eating. (After we got our computer, 'a Gateway 2000' as I bragged in 1995, I would occasionally type my entries and fold them into the diary.)

Anyway, this probably cracks me up more than anybody else, but I hope it inspires someone else to dig up their childhood diary or start their own!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Am I the only one who...?

Sometimes, if I'm having a bad day and have fifteen minutes to spare, I'll log on to facebook and look at all the pictures I'm tagged in. Which sounds pretty conceited, but it's not me I'm looking for in the pictures- it's what's in the pictures with me.

Facebook has created a fairly comprehensive scrapbook of the last 6 years of my life. Almost every trip I've been on, wedding I've been in (including my own), party I've attended, adventure I've explored, and even a few of the races I've run are documented there. There are pictures of me with so many people who I love and who have helped make me into the person I am today.

Sometimes, when it's a bad day, it's easy to see things out of perspective. After viewing those 593 pictures though, it's impossible for me to not feel loved, blessed, and incredibly grateful for the life God has given me and all the people in it.

Am I the only one who does this?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Diet-Coke-Free Month Results & Other Food Paranoia

When I decided to give up Diet Coke (and all soda) for a month, it was an experiment. Here are the results.

Do I feel amazing/more healthy/purer/etc?

Ehh. Not really in a dramatic sense, but I know it's been good for me to drink so much water and get some of those sketchy chemicals out of my system.

How did my body react to the dramatic loss of caffeine?

I had a few headaches for the first couple days, but I was expecting that. I was not expecting how exhausted I would be for the first week. I guess I thought my body was just kind of immune to the caffeine, but apparently not. After a week though, I leveled back out. (Of course, it's summer and I'm not working, so my sleep and activity schedule have been a lot more flexible than it will be during the school year.)

Did I save money?

Yes, for sure. I wish I had kept track, but I know I've saved a dollar or two each time I've eaten out and just ordered water and I haven't had to lug home any 12 packs from the grocery store either.

Did I drink more water and stay more hydrated?

Definitely. Besides half a cup of lemonade and the occasional (how should I say?) fermented or brewed drink, it's been just glass after glass of water. I don't know if it's just because it's so hot too, but I crave it more too. It's not unusual now for me to fill a glass and then drink it right there at the sink or Brita filter so I can refill it before I walk away.

Did I lose weight/bloat less?

Nope. I thought I ate more when I drink Diet Coke, but apparently that's not really the case.

Did I miss it?

Yep- almost every day. Isn't that sad? There are just some foods that are better with a soda.

Am I running back into the arms of Diet Coke now?

Possibly? I know a lot of people kinda lose a taste for it after not having it for a while, so when I try (probably later today...) I'll see. I do want to limit myself to one a day or less and I think that won't be a problem now that I'm weaned.

The issue is that the more research I do, the more paranoid I get about Diet Coke, oh, and pretty much everything else. (Start googling "BPA" and you'll be terrified of half the stuff in your kitchen, not just the food- but the packaging, your tupperware, the whole nine yards.) It seems like you have two choices- go all natural/organic/whole foods and stop trusting anything in the mainstream food culture, or throw up your hands and say, "Oh well, you can't get away from it, it'll be alright." Right now, I find myself straddling these two ideas and since I live 161 miles from the nearest Whole Foods, I think I'm going to just have to stay somewhere in the middle. At least we have a farmers market!

What about y'all? How food-paranoid are you? Do you lay awake at night wondering if the FDA is a big conspiracy? Or do you just keep rolling and not stress about it?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Morning Runs & Running Club

So, not to be redundant or anything, but it's hot here. Dawn or dusk are the only times that I can run without feeling completely and totally worthless. (I'm still feeling sorta worthless during those times. I was a good runner back in the spring right? Didn't I run a marathon? It feels kinda like it was just a dream.)

Even during the summer when I'm not working, I've always leaned more towards evening runs instead of morning...until now. I've been running (okay, admittedly some mornings run/walking) regularly first thing now and I love it. It feels like the whole rest of the day is carefree, even when I have other tasks/appointments/chores, because I've already got my exercise in. I find I lean towards healthier foods all day because I got off on the right foot. It almost makes me feel a little smug.

I still need all the motivation and help I can get to get out the door though. When we were training for our races this spring, a couple friends from church and I started getting together for our long runs on Saturday mornings. It was their first half marathon and my first time since I moved here having my dream of a running buddy realized. I forgot how the miles go so much faster when you've got someone to talk to.

Now I decided we need to take the next step. I had been interested in starting a running club here for a while since I do see occasional runners out and about and wanted to meet them, but was told that it wouldn't get off the ground. "How 'bout a walking club?" was the suggestion. No offense to walkers (says the girl who walked the last mile of her "run" this morning), but a walking club didn't sound that cool to me.

So, I compromised. I sent an email and facebook message to all the Farmers Market Run/Walk participants from May and invited them to come out to run OR walk with us on Saturday mornings at 8:00 a.m. I'm thrilled to say that we've actually had people show up! More runners than walkers even! The running club is actually happening.

I'll be out of town this weekend so I'll miss the next group run, but I feel so proud that even without me there, a few runners are planning to get together. Remember how I said there wasn't a running community here? Well, guess what? There is now. : )

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Relays, Triathlons, and Races

Last night, I received an unexpected call asking me to participate in a triathlon relay as the swimmer in September. Even though it's because this trio's normal swimmer will be in Alaska that week and I might be the only other qualified swimmer they know, I'm still couldn't help feeling a little flattered!

I haven't given my official "yes" yet because I need to work some things out on the calendar, but I'm really excited about it. Triathlons are really, really fun- maybe more so than running events. The reason my mom and I are runners now is because of that first triathlon we signed up for in 2004. I ran track and cross-country in high school, but didn't really keep it up between seasons or after graduation. That first triathlon though, gave both of us the racing bug.

I've got 6 sprint triathlons under my belt, but I've never made the financial/training commitment to go any further. My mountain bike I received as a 13th birthday present (even though we never got around to actually purchasing it until I was 16) doesn't really cut it and I'm not a big biking fanatic anyway. (I'm really, really, really scared of being hit on the road.)

So being invited just to swim (which is my favorite/fastest portion anyway) in this race sounds pretty good to me! The runner and biker are also considering the Beach to Battleship Half-Ironman relay later this fall if I'm interested. Swimming 1.2 miles doesn't intimidate me. (I swam across a 4 mile lake once.) Figuring out a wetsuit and swimming next to "ironpeople"...seems scary. We'll see.

Googling running events is fun though, so here's a tentative plan for the rest of the year:

March of Dimes 5K - Sept. 3 or Historic Wilmington 5K- Sept. 8 or Brunswick 10K - Sept. 10

Wilmington YMCA Triathlon - Sept. 17th (Swim Portion of Relay)

Battleship Half Marathon or Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon- Nov. 6 (I need to make up my mind soon if I'm going 13.1 or all the way this fall.)

Tanglewood Running of the Lights 5K - Jan 1- 12:00 a.m. (I have wanted to do this for years but we always have other New Years Plans. This is NOT my husband's idea of a great way to start a new year, but I've got, ehh, about 6 months to convince him, right?)

I know I'll be complaining about the cold when it comes, but right now, I'm fantasizing about that crisp fall running weather!

Have y'all ever done any relays? Are wetsuits that scary? Know of any other NC races this fall/winter that are can't miss? Want to mock me for being terrified of road biking?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When It's Not So ______ Hot, I'm Going to be Fast Again.

Okay, relatively fast.

That's it. Just wanted to clarify.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why Do You Blog?

One of my favorite bloggers, D.A.R. at Midwest Paradise bid the blogging world adieu last week. I'm sad that I won't get to read her posts or see what's going on in her life anymore, but after blogging for since 2008 she decided it was time to go and with a recent move, fairly new job, living near family and friends, house hunting, and expecting a baby, I think she'll have more than enough going on to keep her busy.

It got me thinking about this strange thing we call blogging and why we're all here. This morning when I pulled out the laptop, I read Chloë's current thoughts on blogging now that she's a new mom and training for the New York marathon, so obviously I'm not the only one who thinks about this.

I started this blog in 2009. I was a newlywed, living in my husband's hometown, didn't have any local friends, and had fallen off the running bandwagon. I found the blogworld because I enjoying reading my the blogs of my high school friends who were now far away. Soon I discovered the scores of running blogs out there and knew I'd found my niche. So, I started my blog, of course, with my obsessive challenge to run 365 days in a row.

Obviously, that's been a bust.

I did so well with the running streak I attempted before I got married that I thought this new one would be a breeze. Turns out, in this stage of my life, it hasn't been that easy to cling to obsessive challenges. So I don't know when I'll get my streak in.

Even though my blog's focus has shifted slightly, it's still a way for me to talk about my (running and otherwise) goals, training, and races, get advice from other runners, and have some accountability/motivation. There wasn't a running community here and I needed one badly. (Not to mention all the other sweet non-running bloggers who I've "met" along the way.)

Over two years later, I'm proud to say that there's is a growing group of runners in this rural town. I have been running on Saturdays with two of my friends from church (who completed their first half-marathons in May) and last weekend, we invited the community to join us. There were just five of us that showed up to run or walk on Saturday, but I've got four more who are excited to join us next week. We're going to have a legit running club here very soon and I'm so proud that I'm part of it.

So even though I may have the fitness community I dreamed of when I moved here, I still need blogging. It's hard to imagine all the ideas/products/books/races I wouldn't know about if I wasn't reading what all of y'all where up to. (As much as I love the people here, new ideas are not always celebrated here.) I don't think I'd have my Garmin Forerunner if it weren't for Jess or my Canon Rebel if it weren't for D.A.R. I might not have made my wedding frame collage in the dining room if I hadn't seen Erin's beautiful collages, or made my own headboard if I hadn't had the confidence inspired by John and Sherry. There are way, way too many times to count the time I've been moved by the beautiful writing, photography, joys, or struggles of other bloggers and I've have hundreds of pages saved with recipes, home tips, fitness advice, projects, relationship suggestions, teaching ideas, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

All of which explains why I read blogs, but I guess the reason I have my own is that I want to share too! I like to write and to share photos here and there, but my husband isn't that thrilled about me sharing pictures of us so I can't really have the open, friendly, share-your-life blog like so many of yours. (For the record, I think he's a little paranoid, but I play along.)

In any case, after reflection, I feel like I'm still in a place where blogging is still beneficial to me. Part of me thinks that down the road when I have kids and am still juggling everything else, that I'll probably leave the blogosphere behind (especially because I won't be able to share pictures of what will undoubtedly be my favorite subjects- no offense to my cat) but on the other hand, how will find out all ideas/products/books pertaining to kids if I leave then?!

Anyway, this whole post is basically to say that I like it here in blogworld, I'll be staying for a while, and thanks for making it a pleasant place!

Why do you blog?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer This and That

I hope all of y'all had a happy Fourth of July! Ever since I met my husband, all of my Independence Days have been at the lake and I was thrilled that my sisters, their boyfriends, and my parents joined us this year. Over the weekend, we grilled shrimp scampi, went on two runs (one of which was a very pleasant 5 miles- the longest I've ran since the marathon!), made a few trips across the lake, sang patriotic hymns at the lake church, biked to see friends, had fresh stuffed peppers, kayaked over 3 miles, boated to a reading of the Declaration of Independence from the end of a pier, had 50 or so friends over (including one dressed as George Washington- wig and all- carrying an American flag, canoed by men in costume), grilled 108 hot dogs, and even squeezed in some some lake lounging time.

I may, or may not, have been up at 1 in the morning Sunday night finishing this cake:

It was kind of a disaster on the outside, but I think the inside turned out alright.

Now we're back home and I'm working on my summer reading. I've been a big nonfiction kick lately (where is that book review I keep saying I'll do?!) so I went into the library looking for novels. I think I succeeded.

I realize that four of these are Young Adult (or as our outdated library has them labeled "Junior" which I think is kind of cute) selections- I'm working on # 28. I've decided that re-reading counts in my 100 book list. I just couldn't resist my Ellen Raskin books. (I've probably read "The Westing Game" a dozen times. Yesterday, I literally squealed when I stumbled upon "The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues" because we didn't have that at the local library when I was little. Just like I squealed when I discovered and read it for the first time at the library in Iowa when I was visiting my grandparents when I was nine.)

We went to a friend's house for birthday cobbler last night and ended up in two beautiful backyard gardens that pretty much make me feel like the most pathetic person ever for not being able to grow a vegetable. Walking through rows of homegrown tomatoes and squash make me feel like a little kid in my grandma's garden again and I feel so incredibly cheated that I didn't enjoy any of that produce growing up. (I refused any fruit or vegetable except corn, potatoes, or the occasional cooked carrot until I was 20. Isn't that sad?)

I'm so excited about the loot we brought home!

I'll let you know what I cook this week!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

26.2 Miles Per Gallon?

This encounter happened months ago and still cracks me up every time I think about it, but I kept forgetting to share it with y'all.

Back in October 2009 when I finished my first marathon, I, of course, immediately had to locate a "26.2" sticker to put on my car. It's important, as most of you know, to signify to other runners that I'm in the club, to brag without having to say a word, and to look just a little bit mysterious to those outside of the loop.

A lot of folks around here are pretty far outside the loop- running and otherwise. Don't get me wrong, most of the people here are kind and smart and hard working and all of that, but it's pretty easy to be outside of the cultural norm when you're an hour from a civilization large enough to have a Target.

Anyway....all this of leads up to this story.

Since we don't have curbside pickup, I frequent our local "recycling convenience (that's a whole 'nother story) center" about once a week and have developed an ongoing conversation with the two older gentlemen that run the center. They already think I'm kind of a freak because I usually show up with almost literally a carload of recyclables (home + school) and get a little flustered when the community service workers put my glass in the "limbs and leaves" container or toss a unsorted box into the "brown goods" (I still don't know what that's supposed to mean) receptacle.

When the friendlier of the two men was waiting for me to pop my trunk one day he glanced at my bumper and muttered, "Twenty six point two, hmm."

"Yep!" I chirped, so happy to explain, "26.2 miles."

"26.2 miles per gallon? Is that about what you get in this car?"

Awkward silence while I try simultaneously to not laugh or cry. (Am I really living this far out of the loop?!)

"Umm, no, but that would make sense, wouldn't it, sir? That's just how long I ran one time. In a race. Yep, 26.2 miles."


I'm pretty sure he didn't believe me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Clearing the Diet Coke out of my Bloodstream

A few days ago, I was frustrated because my fitness goals weren't going anywhere. (I can't even finish the 30 Day Shred for goodness sake! Something always comes up by Week 2.) When I lived by myself in a city where I didn't know anyone, it was so easy to stick to ridiculous exercise regiments. Notsomuch now.

So, out of the blue, I decided to take on a challenge I could actually get through without anything at all to throw me off course:

54. Give up Diet Coke (which for me, means all soda) for a month.

I don't think Diet Coke is just this horrible, horrible thing. I know the aspartame is bad for you, but I think it's not as bad as all the added calories/sugar you get from a regular soda. Probably, after this challenge, I'll go back to drinking Diet Coke occasionally. I just hope this month off breaks my ridiculous 2, 3, or 4 can a day habit!

For me, there's other side effect benefits too. When I drink less Diet Coke, I....

1. Save money. All those little cans add up!

2. Eat less. I never drink Diet Coke by itself. It's always with a meal or a snack and sometimes I find myself eating more because there's more soda in the can. I don't do that with water.

3. Drink more water. Obviously. I'm not a big fan of other flavored drinks- lemonade, flavored water, juices, tea, etc- so it's basically just water for me this month.

4. Eat healthier foods. Yesterday, my husband ran out to grab something for us to eat after church. The thought of eating any kind of greasy fast food without a Diet Coke kind of grosses me out. So we got Japanese instead and I ended up with a bowl of vegetables, shrimp, and rice instead of the Bojangles chicken biscuit and fries that might have been otherwise.

I've only been off a few days now and I've had some caffeine headaches, but I think I'm over the hump now.

What have you given up or cut back on that's made a big difference for you?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why is Running So Much More Appealing When You Can't Run?

Even though running was not hurting my knee, common sense told me that taking a couple days off might help it feel better in between runs.

After 2 days of no running and no Jillian Michaels, my knee is feeling better. It didn't bother me at all at swim lessons today and I thought I might be cured.

So, tonight, when it's gloriously 78° instead of the 98° it's been for the past week, I thought I'd head out for a easy run- sans Garmin, even! A quarter of a mile in, my knee spoke up. Not a yelp of pain, not a cry of agony, but just a whisper, "Watch it. I'm not happy about this."

Which was enough to make me listen. I have been lucky enough over the past 5 years to have no injuries to speak of- even through training for 2 marathons, 4 halfs, 4 triathlons, and a 275 day running streak.

I'm not pushing my luck. If my knee whispers- I listen.

The runner I saw as I walked shamefully back to my house after my pitiful running attempt seemed to mock me as he glided by. Suddenly, I desperately want to run. Isn't that always how it works?

I'm kind of frustrated because I was starting to feel like I was on the right track again after a complete fitness FAIL for the month after the marathon. I had actually completed a week of The Shred, for goodness sake! I was on Level 2!

I understand that in the grand scheme though- this is ridiculously tiny. Hopefully, after a week off, I'll be lacing my shoes back up! I'm going to keep moving in the healthy direction by focusing on what I'm eating in the meantime. What do you do when you can't run?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Knee Pain Suggestions?

A couple of weeks ago, before summer break and the re-start of my running career, I started having some little twinges of pain in my left knee. The first time I noticed it was in the pool, teaching a swim lesson when I was treading water.

Since then, it hurts when I bend my knee all the way, put weight on my bent knee, or rotate my knee. It's not a bad pain, more like a twinge, but I've been noticing it several times a day.

The weird thing is that it has nothing to do with running. Doesn't bother me when I run or walk and doesn't hurt more later.

Sooo.....what do I do? Usually my knee pain solution is to stop running and stay off it for a couple weeks, but that doesn't make sense in this case because it wasn't brought on by running.

The pain is so minor that that's not really the issue- just the fear that I'm messing up my knee. Anybody had a similar event or any suggestions?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

101 in 1001 Progress- Round 2

Because I am a math geek, I just calculated that I should have completed 20% of my 101 in 1001 goals so far. I'm at about 13%. You don't have to be a math geek to know that I'm behind.

Since my last check in, this is what I've finished:

16. Complete (grad school) portfolio.

17. Finish my master's degree.


33. Learn to use a camera beyond the automatic settings. (I'm still learning and will be for a while, but since I've figured out to shoot in manual, I think this counts.)

68. Put something, anything, on the walls in our bedroom. (Finally hung the Ikea canvas I've had for months over the bed.)

74. Organize the second annual Farmers Market Run. (Yay! Over 160 runners and walkers participated in the 5K or Kids Run. It's my sneaky little way of creating new running buddies.)

81. Coach a Girls on the Run team. (So proud of my 24 girls who completed training and the 20 who came and raced their first 5K!)

Even though I'm behind, I'm not that far behind and I have several "in progress" goals going. Since it's summer, I'm hoping I can roll through a bunch in the next couple weeks.


6. Finally, finally complete the 30 Day Shred. (Started 6/14/11)
7. Bring home my bike from my parents’ house.
26. Frame my diplomas.
32. Tackle my pile of clothes that need to be mended.
39. Memorize the major scales on the piano. (My high school piano teacher would be horrified to know that I've ever forgotten these. I think they're still there in muscle memory somewhere, I just need to bring them back to the surface.)
45. Make my own pasta from stratch.
46. Make homemade cinnamon rolls.
48. Get a food processor.
49. Clean out junk drawer.
52. Organize recipes.
53. Become comfortable with cooking on the grill.
55. Make homemade bread for sandwiches.
56. Make daily vitamins a habit.
58. Finish organizing papers in study.
61. Clean out my trunk. (Yes, I realize how pathetic it is that I have to make this a major life goal.)
62. Establish a weekly housework schedule.
71. Go through all make-up/beauty products/medicines.
95. Finish moving all our CDs in iTunes.
101. Get new glasses.

I know that's a pretty long list, but several of those are already in progress. There aren't any running goals listed that I think I can tackle right away, but I'm just going to keep plugging away to build back my endurance and speed. (Not that I had a lot of speed to begin with.)

What are your summer goals?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Settling into Summer

My husband says I always find something to worry about. The first time he told me that I was a little taken aback because I've never thought about myself as a worrywart. More and more often though, I think he might be at least partially right. (Just about this, though.)

I was fretting Wednesday on my first day of summer break. Even though I had no work AND no school. I was just mentally scrambling to figure out all the tasks I've been putting off that needed to be accomplished and frustrated with my current non-fit fitness level. And then, I was fretting BECAUSE I was fretting. If I'm not completely blissfully happy when I have no work and no school, what is wrong with me?

A few days later though, after cleaning (almost) my entire house, unpacking my car, getting (almost) all the laundry done, getting two new tires and my car realigned, figuring out two things I'd been wrongly billed for, baking banana oatmeal chocolate chip muffins, recycling a whole carload of junk, cleaning out my fridge (in which I may, or may not, have found something that expired in 2009), taking apart the bed and washing everything down to the bedskirt, spending an hour picking out new glasses (even though I haven't made the final pick yet), checking out eight books from the library, actually getting through 5 days of The Shred (wow, that sounds not that impressive when I write it down), and arranging my fourth of July mantel, I feel like I can breathe a little easier.

I'm sure I'll find something else to fret about soon though. Maybe that should be my first summer goal: No fretting. I know when I step back for a second and get some perspective that I've got nothing at all to complain about.

After all, I even got lucky with my TYR grab bag!

I was so nervous/excited opening the bag and was pretty sure what I would find inside would look like this:
But instead, I found this:
I was so excited! I think this is cute for a racing suit.

But that's pretty much all I got going on. I hope all of you have a wonderful Father's Day with your loved ones!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Brain Dump List

1. I'm running again! I was really nervous after that walk/run failure with my husband Monday, but I think it was mainly the heat. I ran 3 miles yesterday evening and 3 this morning. Don't ask me about my times.

2. Once again, I'm starting the 30 Day Shred.

I'm still fast-forwarding through the cardio on days that I run. Cheating? Maybe. The only way I'm going to get through the 30 Day Shred. Probably. It's not that the cardio is hard, it's just boring and it's kind of a bribe to myself to make me do the strength and abs if I know I don't have to take time for the jumping jacks and all that.

3. I'm teaching swim lessons again this summer and decided it was FINALLY time for a new racing/teaching suit. My two suits from college are getting to that see-through phase and that's just not the look I'm going for. I took a risk and went with the TYR grab bag!

It was the best deal I could find on TYR or Speedo, but the color/print will be a surprise! I'm really excited about getting the package, but I could end up embarrassed if it's hideous.

4. I've been having some weird catches, cracks, and minor occasional pain in my left knee. It's strange because this started last week and is completely unrelated to running or working out because I've been a sloth until yesterday. No problems while running though so hopefully it will work its way out. Anybody else have this?

5. My summer reading has commenced and I plan on posting what I've been reading lately soon, but I need ideas from y'all on what to read next! I've been on a non-fiction kick lately but need some novels to work on too.

6. I'm in love with my new camera! My husband and dad are both great photographers and have been giving me tips.

I documented our entire-Outer-Banks-in-two-days-trip.

And my cat and my in-law's new puppy have been my subjects many times.

As much as I love my cat, I hate to say that she's not very photogenic. The puppy receives a much greater response on facebook when I post pictures. : )

7. It's time to plan out my summer! For the past month, I've been asked dozens of times, "You finished grad school and you'll be on summer break from work- what will you do?" And honestly, I've been so busy the past few weeks that I've only been able to think from one day and one week to the next that I haven't been able to formulate a response. Now that's it's here, I want to set some goals for the summer. I'll keep you updated!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Officially Out of Shape

Went for a walk with my husband tonight.

Whined every time he suggested we "run these next two blocks."

Got completely left behind when he suggested sprinting.


Tomorrow's my last teacher workday though and then the summer's laid out empty before me. No excuses!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

26 Days of No Running Since 26.2

So there's my horrible confession.

Since my marathon on May 7th, my running has slammed to a halt. This happened right after my first marathon too and I swore it wouldn't again. If you've been reading a while though, you know better than to trust my fitness proclamations.

It's not that I was tired of the running. I hearts-and-butterflies-loved the marathon training this time (save just a couple rough runs) and didn't really feel burnt out at all. I just got busy with one thing (finishing grad school), and then another (Girls on the Run and the 5K I organize), and another (end of school testing- stress, anyone?), and it was just too easy to not make running a priority.

This week, however, is the start of a new era! Tuesday, I came home and didn't quite know what to do with myself. I had no papers to grade, my house was clean, and there weren't any assignments looming over me. I actually cooked a real supper with three(!) different vegetables, pork loin on the grill, and blueberry crisp. At my husband's request, I even made sweet tea for the first time. (Shouldn't I get some kind of Southern Woman badge for that or something?)

Today, though I finally took it one step further and broke my sloth streak. It was only 2 miles and when I counted up the days, it's been 26 days since the marathon, so that's good irony for you. Now, it's time to find some races! How are y'all keeping up in this heat?

(Despite its seeming unpopularity with 0 comments thus far, : ) I am going to stick to my 25+25+25+25 blogging plan and reveal another 25 list next! Either 25 running songs or 25 running tips.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

25 Tips for Organizing a 5K

I said before that I was working on a 100 list for if I hit 100 followers, but I decided it would be way too much to stomach if I just had a list of 100 tidbits about me. (Of course, I'm about a month behind, but whatever.)

So, I've decided to break up my 100 list. Because 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 =100, right? 25 Running Tips, 25 Tips for Organizing a 5K, 25 Songs on my Running Playlist, and 25 Random Facts about Me.

I'm starting with 5K organization tips because that's what I'm working on the past month and that's what's on my mind. (Moving on after this for those of you who are sick of hearing about this race.) So without further ado....

25 Tips for Organizing a 5K

1. Form a committee- quick. Try to find people who have done races in your area before so you can steal their tips and avoid their pitfalls. Our committee includes representatives from our farmers market, parks and recreation department, health department, cooperative extension, and the mayor. Yeah, I got lucky.

2. Consider partnering with an established non-profit that already is set up with a bank account and can accept tax-deductible donations. We partner with the local farmers market, which is an obvious choice. It also helps with promotion and public relations.

3. Download this free guide from Adin Lykken. It's really long and detailed, but he thought of a lot of things I never would have thought of otherwise.

4. Use G-Map Pedometer (and your running Garmin, if you have one) to help figure out your route and print off multiple copies when it's final. Run it many times at the time of day you're planning to race to look for problems (traffic, shade/sun, uneven surfaces, etc.) before you make your final route.

5. Find out what permits you need to complete- with the city, police, ambulance/rescue, county, etc. Some need to be turned in very early- like 90 days before the event.

6. Make a website with a short catchy title. I LOVE Weebly and use it for everything- my race website, my class website, school projects, and anything else I need to put up. I pay a small yearly fee for a Pro Account because I use it so much, but you can use almost all the features for free.

7. Make a facebook page for your event, not an facebook event. Just trust me- it's less confusing.

8. Have an artistic friend or graphic designer create a logo that can be used on flyers, website, t-shirt, etc. A publicity company designed ours as an in-kind donation. We listed them as a sponsor and they got a tax deduction. Win-win!

9. Consider just doing online and race day registration. I only had one person who said they didn't have access to register online. When participants enter their information into the online system (instead of filling out a handwritten form) it's legible, accurate, and in Excel format- which will save you a lot of headache later. I just use a Weebly form on the race site.

10. Plan early for t-shirts! I have participants pre-order their sizes and then just order a few extra in each size.

11. With your committee, make decisions about dogs, strollers, headphones, etc. and publish on your website and race materials.

12. Print up flyers with the website and basic logsitics and carry them everywhere. I give them out to businesses, schools, health organizations, etc. Two hundred flyers goes quicker than you think.

13. Type up a sponsor letter explaining your event, the types of donations (monetory and/or prizes) you are seeking, and what the sponsors will get in return (promotion on t-shirt, website, event, t-shirt, etc.). Start hitting up businesses and don't be afraid! This is my very least favorite part, but honestly, most people are nice and more people than you think will want to help. It's also a good time to spread the word about your event and hand out flyers.

14. Order race bibs early. I recommend pull-tag bibs so you'll have that as a back-up system for whatever timing system you use.

15. If you are going to do age group awards, assign letters to each age group and write onto bibs so you can spot winners as they come through the chute. (Example- Female 0-9 is "A," Male 0-9 is "B," Female 10-15 is "C," Male 10-15 is "D," etc.)

16. Decide how you are going to time. Last year, I just started my Garmin Forerunner, hit a lap for each runner as they hit the finish line, collected pull-tags, and prayed it all matched up. It did, but I should have had a back-up, just in case. This year, we used Race Timer, which is relatively cheap and easy software that doesn't require any equipment beyond a laptop. Still used pull-tabs to match up.

17. If you are a long distance runner and have forgotten- remember that a 5K is a really, really long way for a beginning runner or walker. Plan according for water stations. We had 2 along the route and the runners passed 1 twice so they had 3 chances for water.

18. Think about bathrooms. Get portajohns if necessary.

19. Reach out to local volunteer groups for race day help. I had no idea so many of these existed in my community until I started asking around.

20. Assign specific tasks to specific tasks as much as possible. If you're the director, you need to just be there to troubleshoot, answer questions, and direct (hence "director") people around. Get people with race experience to help with bibs, timing, and pull-tags.

21. Have separate tables race morning for Preregistered and Race Day Registration. Use big signs. Have plenty of pens (to fill out forms) and pins (for bibs).

22. Make the race day registration form as simple as possible. All you really need is name, age, gender, signed waiver, and emergency contact with number. Maybe email. Consider having a table just for people to fill out forms and then to bring them to volunteers to turn in and get race bibs.

23. You'll need a megaphone or PA system. Give a brief overview of the route AND finish line procedures before runners start.

24. Carefully set up your finish chute. I put a table at the end of the finish chute with a volunteer to check off age-group winners as they come through. My chute wasn't complete this year and I screwed up the age-group awards (which I was able to sort out later on the computer and post correctly) and it was pretty frustrating to me.

25. Use Excel to help sort age results. You can publish pages as pdfs and post on your website.

And that's 25! This list is in no way all-inclusive, but I think 25 is more than enough rambling.

If you have any further tips to add (either as someone who has planned a race or just ran enough to know what makes a good one), please let us know in the comments!

If you are planning an 5K or other fitness event and want to see my event's website or the forms I use or have further questions, email me at 365runs{at}gmail.com.