Double Race Weekend Recap!

Still coming off my super adrenaline high from being around hundreds and hundreds of local runners (and all their endorphins) this past weekend. I love race days.
Saturday started off with SVR Winter Series #1 at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. I went back and forth trying to decide what to do about this race. See if I could push both days? Go somewhat easy for SVR but miss getting some series points? It was tough. I knew the bottom 2 race performances get tossed, but the competitive girl inside of me was having a tough time with not racing. So, I decided to just go moderate; do a little speed play and wake up my muscles for the next day.

The race is an out and back, which is a lot of fun when you know a lot of the runners. I was able to high-five a lot of people and cheer them on as we passed one another. The theme was Ugly Christmas Sweater and I so enjoyed everyone’s holiday spirit. In the beginning of the race, I ran a little with Mike M. which was nice. Heading into the last half mile, I had to hold myself back from going all out to finish, but still ended up clocking a 6:23. Finished and ran back to see Dylan finish and then cheer John in (who would have possibly had a PR if there was a start & finish mat VERN!). My family (including our adopted Mario) went out for brunch after to replace some of those calories lost.

My fellow HIITLAG instructors and members rocked the ugly sweaters!
Sunday’s race was in Inwood, WV. I had heard about this race last year, but thought there was no way I could do 2 races in one weekend in my first full year of racing. The South Berkeley Christmas 5K is more of a half day event for the town – first the race expo, then the 5K followed by the Christmas parade. A couple months ago, race director Mark Peters had asked me to be part of the elite women crowd. I reluctantly agreed, knowing I’d only be 2 weeks off my 50 miler. I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity! A few days prior, Mark called again and informed me there was going to be an elite youth group as well and asked if Dylan could join. Dylan immediately said YES! We both turned in our bios and learned we would be announced heading to the starting line.
I did not realize how fun this race would be. All the other runners were at the line – a huge crowd of 700+ – and we waited to be announced. I was surrounded by so many amazing local runners – Courtney T., Chuck B., Matt L., Mike M., teammates Mario and Jeremy (as well as his son Connor in the elite youth) and a few new runners I had the chance to meet. As they called our names and read our bios one by one, we ran through a chute down the center of the crowd, giving high-fives along the way. Wow. Dylan was beaming. Later on that day he said, “Mom, I felt very special!” What a great experience to share with him.

For this race, I was nervous. The last few races I really wasn’t nervous for, but knowing I needed to find a fast gear for a short race was a little intimidating. I took a lot of rest the first week off the 50 and was only able to fit in one speed workout since. I wasn’t sure what I could really expect. I decided to just shoot for a PR, knowing it was a a fast course. I figured, that’s the best I can do. Win, lose, if I hit close to PR, that’d be the best I could do.
With a countdown from the crowd, we were off with a boom! Runners, young and old, jockeyed for position. Our first turn wasn’t too far off and I was sitting in 4th place female for awhile. Before the first mile, I passed one very talented young female. Hit the one mile mark – 5:53. Whew. Legs weren’t used to going this fast. I plugged away. We raced through the streets making a few turns and headed for a turn around. An upbeat, fun song played (thanks Hans!) as we turned around the cones to head back in the opposite direction. At this point, I could see where I was compared to the other runners. A few cheered me on (thank you!) as I headed into mile 2. From mile 1 on, I never checked my watch. We headed back towards the start, cheerleaders chanting “Let’s go runners!” and made the final turn. I could see the 2nd place girl ahead but knew she was too far to catch. I could see the finish line at the end of the descent. As I approached the finish line, I could see the time ticking 18:54, 18:55, 18:56… finished 19:00. Just off my 2017 PR by seconds. I wish I had looked at my watch in the last half mile to gauge where I was, but honestly, my legs were tired! Maybe I could have found a little extra push if I knew I was so close, but I like to think I left it all out there.
After crossing the line, we were greeted by several volunteers handing out dog tag medals, gloves, a hand towel, water, bananas and chips. Wow! I gathered my items, found Mario and we headed back towards the finish line. I was just in time to see Dylan cross! Another solid performance (20:33 on Saturday and 20:35 Sunday; the kid is consistent!). 
After cheering on a couple other runners, I headed back to our Runner In Training booth at the Expo. Prior to the race, I really enjoyed working our table – meeting a lot of new runners, giving out stickers and finding out “Why Do You Run?” We had a lot of great reasons, some creative and some from people who thought they were really funny (ahem, Mike L.). The awards ceremony was nice – cheered on many running friends we knew as they accepted their medals and how fun to be presented with my medal by none other than Barbara S.! Thankful for the hug 🙂
If you haven’t run either of these races, you should! The SVR Winter Series includes 8 races for basically the price of 1, or if you sign up for just a couple, they are very affordable. Races are every other weekend in the Winchester/Front Royal/Stephens City area. The first race had approximately 430; so depending on the weather, expect a good crowd for the future races. The SVR crew (and volunteers) put on a fun series of races.
And, if you have not run in the South Berkeley Christmas 5K, you definitely should! An extremely affordable race fee, so many goodies at the finish line, plus donuts and pizza inside after! Mark and Aimee Peters, much kudos to you for a well-organized and fun day. Thank you for inviting us to your event. You can count on us to be back!
The weekend went by way too fast with all of this running fun; but I can’t say how glad I am to be part of our local running community. You all are a lot of fun!

Redefining Perspectives

I’m stepping aside from my blog series about ultras for a moment to chat about something that has been weighing on my mind.

While most of my posts discuss race recaps and running fun, there is also a negative side I didn’t expect to experience from losing weight and returning to the racing scene. Obviously, I like to share positive and inspirational posts, but sometimes I feel being truthful and open is refreshing. Also, my words just may hit home with someone else. After a conversation this morning with fitness friends, I realized I needed to put my thoughts down on “paper”.

Most of you reading this probably have only known the “me” of the last 10 years or so. When you met me, I was sedentary, overweight and not overly confident. Some of you may only know the “me” of the last 2 years, when I hit the running scene again after 15 years.

Yes, these two versions of Becky are vastly different.

At this point, I feel more like me than I have since I was in college. I feel alive, energetic, healthy, outgoing and inspired to help others. Sharing my passion for fitness and running helps me to keep putting one step in front of the other. I feel reignited.

Now, the dark side I’ve experienced. There’s a word that’s been floating around that makes me cringe. Upsets me. A word that makes something so positive in my life seem so negative.

Obsession: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling.

I run 5 days a week and take 2 days of rest. I run early in the morning so I don’t interfere with family, work and other extracurricular activities. If I’m sick or really injured, I will rest. Because I may run what some may consider extreme distances, I may be considered obsessed. Because I run through most any weather, I may be considered obsessed. Because a core group of my friends are runners, I may be considered obsessed.

I prefer dedicated. Passionate. Committed. Lucky to work in a field I love.

Running is what keeps me sane. Running alone, or with friends, allows me to escape for just a fraction of my day. A short period of time to get away from the day in and day out stresses of life that will be awaiting me once I cross back over the threshold.

This is my therapy. My time to clear whatever is on my mind; mull over big decisions or plan out my day.

As I said in my last blog post, some of you will understand the need to push your boundaries. Some will not. Either way is okay; just don’t pass judgment on those who aren’t the same as you. For each of us, there are different feelings, different emotions which trigger how we view each other. Some will ask “why?” and some will say “why not?”. I have a need to pursue the challenges set before me. I am unable to leave a box unchecked without trying. You may see obstacles differently than me.

Friends, family, we are not obsessed. Are we preoccupied with an unreasonable idea? I don’t believe so. Yes, maybe we are not normal. We say yes when others say no. We rise when others sleep. We do what others may not. We have a drive; a need to determine our limits and then break through. We are always on a quest to see how far we can possibly go.

For those of you have been with me along my journey, yes, I know I am different. After college, priorities changed and I did not consider myself high on the priority list. Now, I want to be the best I can – for not only myself, but for my family, for my kids to know to never give up. That anything is possible, whether you are 20, 30, 60 or beyond. Why let others make the rules? Go and be you.

And, if you truly feel obsessed? Come run with me; we’ll enjoy a therapy session together 🙂

Happy 1 Year!

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One year ago today, Runaissance Mom was created. At the time, I wanted a single location to share information since many of you were messaging me asking similar questions. Writing a blog was never a plan of mine; I disliked writing essays and papers during high school & college and not once did I ever think I’d pen blogs or share my inner thoughts with the world. Being so open with all of you has been both scary and therapeutic, but also a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed putting my goals on paper for you to see and reliving races through my recaps.

So, one year and many milestones later, what’s next? 2 months from now, I’ll be tackling the JFK 50 Mile with my friend Sara. When I have talked about doing this challenge, I’ve had people question, “Are you a glutton for punishment?” and “What possesses you to run for so long?” All I can answer is “Why not?”

Why not try to see how far you can go? Why not jump into what could be a life-changing adventure?

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We aren’t trying to set any records or finishing in a fast time; we just want to have an experience. Being out in nature, walking and running along the Appalachian Trail and the C&O during the autumn months is sure to be beautiful.

Yes, 50 miles is a long way (about the same distance from Winchester to Reston). I imagine we will experience every emotion through our travels – excitement, anxiety, pain, worry and a sense of accomplishment when we reach that finish line. I am lucky to have someone willing to attempt such a crazy idea with me. We’ve only been friends for about a year, but I know we work well together and will keep each other good company along the way. I can’t wait to write the race recap!

Thank you for sharing the last year with me. Who knows what the future holds, but I look forward to telling you all about the crazy challenges I say yes to!

Workout Wednesday: Short Circuit!


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Have little time to fit in running AND a strength workout?

Maximize time and perform this circuit routine for an quick, intense full body workout. While improving cardio, you will also increase the calorie burn, develop strength and enhance flexibility which all can contribute to faster and healthier running.

No need for fancy equipment since we will be using bodyweight. Buuuuut, you have to promise to work hard through the entire workout! 

Start with a 400 meter jog or run between each set of exercises. Do each exercise for 30 seconds. Progress up to 800 meter jog or run, and 60 seconds of each exercise.

Warm Up

Jog/Run 400 meters

  • Squats
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Push Ups
  • Windshield Wipers

Jog/Run 400 meters

  • Walking Lunges
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Downward Dog Pushups
  • Flutter Kicks

Jog/Run 400 meters

  • Burpees
  • Alternating Step Ups (ledge/park bench/bleacher)
  • Tricep Push Ups
  • Plank w/Knee

Jog/Run 400 meters

Cool Down

There you go! A mile of running with a full body workout and still plenty of time to go get ice cream, or, I mean, enjoy the rest of your day with your family and friends…and ice cream.

 

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Great shots by Angela Hawk Photography

Workout Wednesday: Hips Don’t Lie

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Runners, and many other athletes, can benefit from adding this short routine into their workout routine. Most runners suffer from weak, tight and under-developed hip muscles and believe me, your hips will not lie – they will let you know when they are struggling. Weak hips can attribute to a myriad of injuries including sciatica, IT band syndrome, runner’s knee, piriformis issues and more.

Think of the hips as the fulcrums of leg levers driving our bodies forward. If your hips are tight, your legs are not going to be able to provide optimal power and speed. Concentrate on your form as you perform each exercise; not only strengthening but being mindful of the movement pattern.

“It’s all in the hips. It’s all in the hips.” – Chubbs, Happy Gilmore

Hip strengthening and mobility exercises should be a part of your weekly plan, whether you are injured or not. You can easily perform these exercises before your next run (or during your next Netflix binge watching sesh). Make the time, so you won’t lose time due to injury.

All exercises will be performed 10 times on each leg.

  • Clamshells
  • Reverse Clamshells
  • Leg Raises
  • Fire Hydrants
  • Donkey Kicks
  • Side Hurdles (front & back)
  • Bent Leg Swings
  • Leg Swings (front/back)
  • Leg Swings (side/side)

 

You will see we need to work on Jeremy’s hip mobility a little (I’m not immune either, need to do this routine more often!).

Get to it!

I’m back!

Holy smokes, I haven’t posted a blog in almost a month! A lot has been going on, so let’s have a #FlashbackFriday recap.

June didn’t include much racing, but lots of crazy hill training, closing out running club and putting finishing touches on an exciting project.

This 3rd session of running club was fun and yes, a little challenging with 40 kiddos! So thankful for all my volunteers who run with us at practices. Each session I coach, I learn a little something new and am always inspired by these young runners. Below is a message I received from one of my runner’s parents:

“You have truly given my son a sport he loves! We have tried t-ball, baseball and basketball. All of which he didn’t complain about going, but we could tell he wasn’t into it at all. This is the first time he has ever been excited to go to practice or do a race! In fact, immediately after the Apple Blossom race, his first words were, “When is my next race?!” This running club has helped him find his sport! Thanks to you and running club, I know he will have many more races he is looking forward to in his future.”

Yes, my heart burst. The joy I receive in helping to foster a love for running in others is unfathomable. Watching someone reaching their goals or overcome an obstacle they didn’t think is possible is truly amazing. Which makes me want to tell you about that project I’ve been working on…

If you haven’t heard by now, my running coach/partner and I launched a new business this month – Runner In Training, LLC! Jeremy and I have been running together for nearly a year and have seen much improvement by combining running and strength workouts. Many times during our early bird runs, we’d chat about the possibility of combining our strengths and offering other runners a comprehensive training program. Since we have similar ambitious personalities, the dream didn’t stay just a dream for long. Once we started sharing ideas, the business was full speed ahead and we can’t wait to share all we have in store over the months to come!

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Side note: We are about to have our 2nd group run tomorrow, so if you are in the area, please join us. Check out the details here:

On the 4th of July, I raced at the Liberty 5K here in Winchester. What a fun race. There were approximately 300 runners, great awards, fun door prizes and a lot of red, white & blue. Prior to the race, I didn’t really set a time goal. Since I am deep into marathon training, shifting into 5K race pace gear was a bit different. I went out hard at a 6 flat with teammate Alex ahead of me by about 50 meters for the first half of the race. Alex and I run track workouts and long runs often side by side so I kept telling myself there was no reason I couldn’t catch him. Around mile 2, I finally passed him up a hill and felt bad for just a second since it was his birthday (Sorry Alex!). The course is a bit challenging with a few late race hills which didn’t phase me too much after all the hill work the previous month. Surprised myself with an 18:45 – a new PR. My favorite part of the race: after I finished, I ran back down to the last hill to encourage other runners and help them push all the way to the finish line as well as cheering on the kids in the mile.

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Check out the new racing kit!

What else has happened since I talked to you last? Well….although I have my degree in Kinesiology, I never had any certifications. I am proud to say after a lot of studying and a tough exam, I received my National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Training certification! In the near future, I am hoping to add another certification to my name but will tell you more about that one in a future post.

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Update on chasing the unicorn …. Wow, as soon as I wrote that, butterflies started dancing in my stomach. At this point, I am under the 60 day mark for my BQ attempt. Training has been going extremely well. Since the Erie marathon is in early September, there is a chance of warmer temps, so I’ve been trying to adapt to running in higher heat and humidity. One of my major goals in this training cycle has been to stay healthy and injury-free and I’m happy to say I haven’t had any issues. I’ve been averaging 45-60 mile weeks with a lot of variety – track, fartleks, hill repeats, LSD (not as slow as Coach would like I think) and am feeling strong. Training has been a lot of fun and I am thankful for my running crew who is very encouraging and continues to push me every week. 

 

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Sorry so long but I had a lot to say! Hope all of you are enjoying the summer!

Guest Post: Sierra’s Journey

“Feeling healthy and feeling good about yourself is NOT a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity.”

In honor of May being National Mental Health Awareness Month, I asked my daughter Sierra to rehash a social media post she shared late last year about her own journey into better physical and mental health.

From Sierra:

At first, I was very hesitant to share my story of how fitness has positively affected my life because I am not very good at opening up to people but I was encouraged to share my story.

My sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I had always noticed when I worked out more often, exercise helped my symptoms. During this time, I was involved in competitive cheerleading and track & field, and I always felt my best after a rigorous practice. The summer before my freshman year of college, I was working out harder than ever. I was constantly in the gym and I felt amazing.

Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived to college, my schedule and habits changed and I completely stopped working out. I continued to be somewhat sedentary and ate unhealthily through my freshman and sophomore years. After two years of not working out and eating whatever I wanted, I had gained 20 lbs. When I realized how much weight I had gained and saw how great of shape Becky was in after a year of getting back into fitness and eating healthier, I became eager to make a change in my life. I was so afraid to begin though. At first, I didn’t know if I would even remember how to workout. I had also become very intimidated by the gym and was afraid to go. I felt as though I would be judged if I went.

In May of 2016, I started running and attending the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes Becky taught at HIIT Like A Girl and eating healthier. Running was the main aspect that really sparked my fire. I had been a sprinter in high school and had never run more than 2 miles at one time. I also thought long distance running looked like torture and had no interest in trying it….until last May.

In the beginning, I started out by running/walking 3 miles a few days a week. Eventually, I was able to run the whole 3 miles. Then, I ran my first 5k on July 4th (Liberty 5k). Running a race felt so incredible and I was happy to finish in under 30 minutes!

When I came back to school for the fall semester, I decided I wanted to try and go back to the gym to start lifting weights. I began going with a friend who knew more about weightlifting which made me feel more comfortable having someone to workout with.

Since last May, my life has changed greatly for the better. Fitness has brought so much more confidence, motivation and positivism into my life. Dealing with anxiety and depression has always made it so hard for me to become and remain motivated. I’ve always had to work extra hard to get myself going every day, and even though I’ve been pretty successful in my life, I had struggled tremendously with getting myself there. I used to have the most difficult time getting myself out of bed before noon. I would often miss class or show up late because I just couldn’t get the motivation to go.

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Now, I wake up much earlier (usually around 8 am) and I even have been getting up at 5:45 am for sunrise yoga on Thursday mornings at my college gym. I find when I start my day out with yoga, I feel so much more relaxed. I also run 3-4 times a week and workout to HIIT videos on YouTube. Not only have I run multiple 5ks, but I have also run an 8k and a two 10ks within a year of starting to run. I would like to run a half marathon by the end of the year, which I would have never thought was a possible goal for me before. In addition, I lost the weight I had gained since freshman year. Goodbye Freshman 15!

It’s truly an unbelievable feeling being able to conquer longer distances and achieve personal records. I also sit down and eat breakfast almost every morning before beginning my day now. I was never really a breakfast type of person before but now I always make sure I have time to eat breakfast because it helps with my energy level.

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I barely missed any class this past semester and the class that I did miss was not due to mental illness. Now, I have the motivation to get through each day with a positive mindset. I’m constantly busy due to school, work, sorority, and working out. I don’t even have much time to watch TV, but I haven’t felt stressed like I would have before. I am so much happier and have set a goal for 2017 of continuing to better myself physically, mentally and spiritually. I want to improve myself in all aspects so that I can become the best version of myself. I would not be where I am right now if I had not started running last year. I am so incredibly blessed to have the ability to be able run and workout, and I want to continue to do so as long as I can. As for the future, I plan to continue learning as much as I can about fitness and nutrition so that I can continue a healthy lifestyle and help other people.

My advice to others?

Starting to work out can be intimidating, but it can be extremely beneficial for anyone suffering from a mental illness. If you’re just starting out and nervous, even a run/walk for 30 minutes 3 days a week can be helpful. I’m not saying exercise will completely cure mental illness, but exercise is a natural form of medication I strongly believe in. I still have bad days but even on my worst days, getting a workout in or going on a run can make a big difference for me.

For anyone who may be struggling with a mental illness, I just want to say I know how it can be stressful and sometimes you feel like there’s no way out, but YOU CAN’T GIVE UP. Keep pushing yourself to find ways to put more positivity in your life; fill your life with positive people who you can lean on when times are rough.

You are stronger than you think and you will get through it.”

Thanks for sharing Sierra!