Uncategorized

What is MRTT/SRTT?

Welcome to our blog! Arizona Moms Run/She Runs This town is made up of the local chapters within the state of Arizona. You can find the closest one by using the locator on the national MRTT site. We have chapters all over the state, including Chandler, Flagstaff, and Vail. You may have seen our members at a race, wearing MRTT shirts or visors, and wondered who we are.

In short, MRTT/SRTT is a free running club for ALL women. As it says on the national website, our goal is to provide a fun club for ANY woman – not just moms–to get together, run/walk/jog and socialize. We hope to provide an online community built of moms who will help answer running questions, encourage each other, train with each other and share their personal running experiences.

This blog will feature product reviews, information on local events, race reports, and much more, all written by MRTT/SRTT members. Stay tuned for more, and if you’d be interested in writing a blog post, please contact your local chapter leader.

Review

Club Pilates: A Review

In a nutshell: If you’re looking for a low-impact strength workout that’s easy on the joints, have a somewhat flexible schedule, and prefer light or no weights, Club Pilates might be for you.

Club Pilates opened up near me and I took an intro class when the studio first opened. I’ve always wanted to try a reformer-based workout. They offered intro packages and I ended up buying one. The intro deal was $130/month for three months for up to 8 classes/month. This review is based on my experiences during that period.

Club_PilatesI enjoyed the intro class. It was only 30 minutes but I felt it in my core the next day. I hadn’t used a reformer before and felt that it was a good change and would complement the trail half marathon training I was doing at the time. I do have a gym membership and use DVDs at home. This felt like it would work my muscles in a different way, and initially I think it did.

The first month, I enjoyed the classes. It was good to have a live instructor correcting form, and classmates to chat with before class. I took classes from several instructors, and tried a variety of types–regular reformer, “barre,” and TRX (which barely used the TRX). I liked the barre classes and one specific instructor so mostly signed up for those.

After the studio had been open for a while, it became tough to sign up for the classes I liked. You get your credits when your account is charged. So, you can use your 8 credits but then have to wait to get more, and sometimes the classes are full before that, depending on when you pay and when the next month’s schedule is posted.

The earliest classes were at 6 AM, and because my husband works overnights, I couldn’t go to those early classes. I work full-time from home so managed to do one class a week around lunchtime. They didn’t add any level 2.0 classes during my three months and I quickly outgrew the 1.0. All the barre classes were 1.5 and even those were pretty easy for me.

The instructors offer some modifications, mostly for making things easier. They do occasionally help you modify up, but not when using the reformer, only when using weights, gliders, or other things.

They did say they would add 2.0 classes in June, and even extended my credits so I wouldn’t just waste them. Still, I canceled and never did try the 2.0 classes. I am not entirely sure how I feel about the reformer. I do think it can give you a good workout, and that probably depends quite a bit on the instructor.

I will say that in all honesty the membership is too expensive for me. I pay $25/month for the gym, and while there’s no reformer there, I like variety more than the studio experience. Club Pilates would be $199/month for the 8-class pack. Buying a reformer for $2K seems almost like a bargain as long as you have the space!

I had about 8 credits left when I canceled and I haven’t been back. It was just too tough to fit the classes into my schedule. While I feel like I wasted money by not using the credits I paid for, I hate wasting time and forcing myself to go would have been silly.

Would Club Pilates work for you? I would recommend trying an intro class, looking into their pricing as it varies by area, and definitely check the schedule. If you enjoy the intro class and the types of classes they offer, and the other two are a good fit as well, then this might be a good option for you.

Kids, Race Report

Running With My Girl: How to Get Your Kids Moving

Last month I did the ShePower 5K with my 9-year-old daughter. It was her third time doing this race, and she finished it much faster than I thought she’d want to go.  I am so, so proud of her—and she is so proud of herself! I realized that this achievement was and wanted to share it to give other adults inspiration and ideas to get their kids moving.

She2019
2019 ShePower 5K

My daughter’s very first race (I use the term loosely) was a kids’ dash after the Resolution Run 5K. It was free and covered about 50 meters. She was 3.5 years old, and I’d signed her up several weeks in advance so she was really looking forward to it. The night before the race, my son had a high fever and we realized my husband wouldn’t be able to go. The night before the race, my son had a high fever and we realized my husband wouldn’t be able to go. We contacted a good friend, and she said she would be there. My daughter stayed with her and her husband (who came with cameras, prepared to document it all!) while I did the 5K, and then my daughter and I did the dash together. It took all of maybe a minute, but she loved the attention and the little ribbon she got.

hrks_mani_week3_sm.jpg
2014 Healthy Kids Running Series

I wanted to keep them both active but resisted pressuring them—thanks to wise words from other runner moms. My husband and I did have them try activities they were interested in: gymnastics for both, and taekwondo for my son. We also did a local superhero race each year, which consists of 2 miles of running from obstacle to obstacle (water slides, inflatable slides, etc.), and they did come to races with me.She did similar kids’ dashes as part of other 5Ks that I ran, and sometimes her brother joined her.  When she was 5, I signed her up for her first Healthy Kids Race Series (HKRS). She and her brother (2 years younger) ran the five-race series each weekend. They both loved the cheering and medals they got at the end. They both did the HKRS races again, and at some point, my son decided he was done. My daughter stuck with it a bit longer but then became discouraged that she wasn’t winning her age group.

Two years ago, I convinced my daughter to do the ShePower 5K with my friend and her daughter. It was fun, but I’ll be honest, it was also tough. My daughter tends to take off too fast, so she got a cramp and was unhappy the second half of the race. Fortunately my friend’s daughter kept her company and they both had fun.  Last year, my daughter wanted to do better, and she did finish faster. However, she started off too fast again and was unhappy again for the second half. Also, I didn’t realize that she really wanted to beat some MRTT ladies and was sorely disappointed when they finished ahead of us.

This year, we did the Hot Chocolate 5K (her third time) and couldn’t train much thanks to illness and travel. We made it a fun race and talked about ShePower being more of our goal race.

runforbroxton
2013 Run for Broxton. My girl was wearing her “running skirt” to match mine.

Her victory wasn’t just that day, it took more than half her life. Based on that, here are my suggestions for getting your kids active.We did train for ShePower—doing anything from a half-mile to 2.5 miles on Saturdays. But at the race, she didn’t seem to have any goals, so I started us off slow. Instead of our planned intervals of 2 minutes run, 1 minute walk, she ran almost the entire first mile, gradually picking up speed. We saw some MRTT ladies and I realized she was keeping her eyes on them. About halfway in, they were a bit ahead of us and she started to speed up. I told her we’d catch up eventually and she said, “That’s what you said last year!” That was the point when she literally put on her game face, set her sights on the MRTT ladies, and sped up. She passed them at about the 2.5-mile mark and was eventually going so fast I couldn’t keep up. She finished about 1 minute ahead of me, in 33:51. I was SO proud of her, she was proud of herself, and later told me it was the BEST day!

  1. Set an example. If you enjoy running, hiking, biking, Pilates—whatever your thing—show them. Make sure they see you doing it and hear you talking about why you do it and why it’s important to you. Early on, when I’d come home from a race, my daughter would ask if I’d won. I’ve never even won my age group, so I’d tell her that I hadn’t won, that I had raced to see if I could do better than last time. Sometimes I’d say I’d only gone to spend time with a friend. Now, when I ask my daughter if she wants to do a race, she’ll ask if anyone we know will be there.
  2. Don’t pressure your kids into an activity—have them try activities they express interest in. Make sure they stick with an activity for a specific amount of time. This will help them see whether they’re truly interested in it and will teach them the value of commitment. I have to reenroll my son in taekwondo every year. At that time, we talk about whether he still wants to do it, and what he needs to do (focus in class, practice at home, etc.) to continue.
  3. Start slow. There are a variety of ways to get children moving. Local parks and recreation classes are one inexpensive, relatively low-commitment way to try something out. Kids’ dashes at local races are often free. The Healthy Kids Running Series is nationwide and inexpensive.
  4. Help them do and stick with it. If they need to practice or train, set aside time for that. Maybe you can do short runs together and then go out for hot chocolate and muffins. Keep it fun and they will remain interested.
  5. Cheer them on. Literally and figuratively, cheering your kids on can help keep them going. You may buy your daughter a running shirt with a motivational saying on it. Have the husband and siblings at the finish line cheering for her. Go out for breakfast as a family after race.

Your child may not be a runner, but whatever his or her passion, I believe these guidelines do apply!

Relay

Zeal Relays by David Allison

This post is brought to AZ MRTT/SRTT by David Allison, race director for the Zeal Relays.  Arizona MRTT/SRTT members contact your local chapter leader(s) for discounts to this family friendly race.

zeal relay.jpg

What is Zeal Relays?

Zeal Relays is a completely new type of running event for the entire family that is coming to Phoenix, AZ (Ahwatukee) on February 23rd at Mountain Pointe High School.

There is truly no other race like this out there!

What we’ve done is taken a 5K* road race and put it on a 400-meter track and divided it up into three distinct relays, which teams compete in. Teams can be comprised of 2, 3 or 4 people and can be all male, all female or coed. No one person runs more than 1.25 miles total in the three races combined. If you look at the tables below, you can see how each race breaks down by distance for each leg. Looking at the 4-person division table, you see that Runner #1 will run 200 meters in the Pulled Hammy Relay, 600 meters in the Breaking Wind Relay and finally another 600 meters in the Heavy Breather Relay, for a combined total distance of 1400 meters (just under 1 mile).

zeal relay2.png

*Distance is actually 6000 meters (3.72 mi)

Why do this race?

#1 – You can actually watch your friends and family compete in this race because it’s on the track. How many times have family and friends told you that they’ll simply meet you at the finish line or after your race? They never see you compete – with Zeal Relays they now can.

#2 – This is more than a race – it’s a running carnival. There will be music playing, an announcer calling the races, vendors selling / promoting goods and services, food being sold and maybe even some games to play!

#3 – There are multiple ways to win prizes/awards. If your team is fast, then you’ll have a chance to win the overall or age division team categories. If your team can come up with a creative team name, team uniform and/or original baton (this is a B.Y.O.B event – Bring Your Own Baton) then you can win prizes for that as well. And if your team isn’t too quick, then we even have two very attainable Bullz-eye Time Challenges (somewhere between 7-11 min/mi average), where if your team runs closest to these times without going over, then you have a chance at a team award.

zeal relay3.jpg

#4 – Family, friends, work, club bonding – Create teams within your friends, family, work or club members and see who can have bragging rights.

#5 – Kid fun – If you have kids (5-10 years old) then we also have Kids Zeal Relays, which are shuttle style relays (going straight away and back) where teams of 4, 6 or 8 kids compete against others. These are 60-80-meter sprint relays. Release The Hounds Relay is just a straight forward run. Beep…Beep…Beep Relay is a backward running race. And Crab Legs Relay is a side shuffle race. Age divisions for these relays are 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10.

zeal relay4.jpg

#6 – Compete against others not just your watch – While we are all big fans of PRs (Personal Records) and pushing yourself to be your best, it’s still good once in a while to actually race others. Competition is healthy when done right. On a track, when someone passes you, it just feels more personal than when you’re out there on a trail or road racing. Perhaps it’s just because you’re in a more confined space, but whatever the reason, we think this type of event will ratchet up your dog-eat-dog mentality more than your usual road race.

#7 – Relays are just plain fun! Many of us may have never even done track growing up, but there is something about handing off a baton to a teammate in a race and giving it your all that makes you run just a little bit harder than if you were running for only yourself.

#8 – It’s affordable. Right now, without any discount codes, prices are $15 per kid and $40 per adult. But with the numerous amount of codes flying around out there, you should be able to save 15%-25% on these prices.

#9 – You’ll be the first! Like we said this is a brand-new event, which we think is pretty darn cool and believe can grow exponentially in the next couple of years. You can say you were at the very first one – and believe me, we will never forget you for that!

#10 – Good for any and all types of runners and non-runners. If you do longer races usually, then heck, this could be your speed workout for the week. If you’re a newbie, then this race isn’t as overwhelming or long as a 5K or 10K. And just because it’s shorter, doesn’t mean there isn’t a different type of challenge for you, which will be running at a quicker pace than you probably train at normally. And if you’re just a person who wants to be active and do something fun that may send your mind back to grade school or summer camp, then this race has that element, too.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends and family and come register for Zeal Relays!

Check out our Zeal Relays YouTube Channel with explanation videos.

Sign up to our email list for race updates and great registration discounts and a chance at a free entry.

AZ MRTT/SRTT members check the state FB page for the team entry giveaway through Dec. 10, 2018 and check with your local chapter leader for registration discounts!


David Allison has been an Ahwatukee resident for nearly 14 years. He is lucky to be married to an amazing woman, have two usually pretty awesome kids and their funny dog, Lia. David is a top masters level runner, former Division I collegiate athlete (University of Pennsylvania), a current USATF youth club coach (Phoenix Flyers Track Club) and was the Head Cross-Country and Distance Track Coach at Mountain Pointe High School (2007-2012), as well as the Head Cross-Country and Track Coach at Gateway Community College (2006-2010). He has an all-time PR of 2:27.17 in the marathon and was a top-50 finisher in the Boston Marathon in 2006. Since turning to the masters’ ranks (40 years of age or older) in 2010, he has posted best times in the 5K, mile and 800 meters of 15:36, 4:27 and 2:03, respectively.

Uncategorized

Catching a Ride on the Ambassador-ship

 

20171219_103508_1

It’s that time of the year!  It’s the start of ambassador application season.  Are you passionate about your favorite races, clothing line, running gear, or nutrition? Are you quick to share your workouts with your friends and family? Do you overshare your fitness life on social media? Chances are your favorite brand has an ambassador program and you can continue to do what you do and earn some bonus swag or a race entry in the process!  

I’ve been fortunate to be an ambassador for several brands over the last few years.  I’m currently an ambassador for a few nationwide brands: Hot Chocolate 15k/5k (Scottsdale Race Ambassador), Skirt Sports, Pro Compression, and Sweat Pink/Fit Approach.  I’m also an ambassador for a local race, the Run 3rd 5k.

Most ambassador programs have an application process which is towards the fall season or the end of the year. Some companies have rolling applications and accept and review applicants throughout the year. Others have processes which are simple and straightforward, just an introductory email to the ambassador coordinator.  

20170720_061738
MRTT & Skirt Sisters!

There are several types of ambassadorships and “rewards” may vary, depending on the company and your level of participation. Some brands, like Skirt Sports, have established ambassadorships with different levels/tiers of expectation and a separate website to log into and record your participation (this helps you earn points for Gift Certificates or other perks!), while others (like Pro Compression) have fluid participation expectations on Instagram, nothing fancy at all. They want to you to have fun with your socks!  Some brands require you to have an existing following on social media, some don’t! Some brands offer an ambassador kit (clothing and gear) to their ambassadors without charge and others offer significant discounts on their ambassador merchandise and apparel. Ambassador programs such as BibRavePro and SweatPink/Fit Approach offer opportunities for ambassadors to review products or races.

Race brand ambassadors typically volunteer or work at an Expo booth promoting an upcoming race. Some race brands only require their races be promoted across your social media platforms.  

Depending on the ambassador program there may be other companies that are sponsoring or affiliated with that particular ambassador program. These partner companies (nutrition or gear) may offer discounts or products to (clothing) ambassadors but keep in mind there may be agreements to only promote partner brands.  

When looking at ambassador programs, you should consider your personal brand. As an ambassador, you are acting as a representative of that company (even if you’re paid in swag).  Sure the company is offering some pretty awesome swag, but are you really comfortable with their hashtag requirements? Can you commit to promoting their product (or their partner/sponsor products) exclusively all year (if that’s what they require)? Be honest and most of all, be yourself! Have you admired their products and their ambassadors? Or are you already a devoted user? Believe it or not, there are opportunities for both types of applicants!  

View this post on Instagram

The highs: Yesterday's trail run was the bomb! My @skirtsports Cool It gear works amazing in the AZ heat!! I was jumping for joy after the run. 😎 The mids: My @procompression mids were awesome on this run. Enough compression for protection without too much length. The lows: The fact that we didn't go out of town today and I missed 2 chances at bike rides today (one with a hilly route along awesome scenery) is a great big bummer. 😔 Sometimes, you can't do all the things so you do none of the things. A reminder to myself that catching up on sleep and rest is important, too. #skirtsports #SkirtSportsAmbassador #skirtjump #procompressionambassador #runhundredambassadors #sponsored #triathlontraining #realtalk

A post shared by Olivia S (@balancingmommy) on

Most of these programs have private FB groups where information is shared with the ambassadors. Are you ready to join fellow brand loving individuals from across the globe?  While at times it can be overwhelming, I feel like this is one of the best parts of being an ambassador! Connecting with others and meeting face to face at races is the best!  

20180407_090622
Run3rd Ambassadors at the 2018 race

 

Jeremy at Confessions of an Amateur Athlete wrote this great post about what goes on behind the scenes as an influencer: https://confessionsofanamateurathlete.blogspot.com/2018/04/confessions-of-social-media-influencer.html

Listed below are a few examples of ambassador programs and what these brands are seeking.  If you’re passionate and ready for your next adventure; submit your application and book your ride on that Ambassador-ship!  

Triathlon

Betty Designs:  https://www.bettydesigns.com/blogs/news/apply-for-the-2019-betty-squad

Coeur:  https://www.coeursports.com/blogs/latest/the-coeur-sports-ambassador-program

 

Activewear

Skirt Sports: https://www.skirtsports.com/ambjobdescription/

Lululemon:  https://shop.lululemon.com/ambassadors/_/N-1z141e2

 

Socks

Pro Compression:  https://procompression.com/blogs/articles/what-does-it-take-to-be-a-pro-compression-ambassador

Feetures:  https://feetures.com/blogs/feetures-ambassadors

Swiftwick:  https://swiftwick.com/pages/athletes

 

Nutrition

Honey Stinger:  https://www.honeystinger.com/sponsorship?tab=ambassadors

Nuun:  https://nuunlife.com/blog/2018-nuun-ambassador/

Huma Gels:  https://humagel.com/pages/humabeings

 

Races

Ram Racing:  https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/ambassador

Phoenix Marathon:  https://thephoenixmarathon.com/ambassadors/

Vacation Races:  https://vacationraces.com/programs-and-initiatives/ambassadors/

Zooma:  http://zoomarun.com/ambassador/

Ragnar:  https://www.runragnar.com/ambassadors

 

Gear

Orange Mud:  https://www.orangemud.com/pages/orange-mud-ambassador-program

Nathan:  https://www.nathansports.com/community/athletes/

 

Reviewer

BibRave Pro:  https://www.bibrave.com/bibravepro

Sweat Pink:  https://fitapproach.com/sweat-pink-ambassador-application/

 

*This article is also posted on https://balancingmommy.com/2018/09/20/catching-a-ride-on-the-ambassador-ship/

Race Report

My First Half Marathon, by Nancy P.

For years I worked as an automotive technician (mechanic). It was a labor intensive job and I was constantly moving. As time went by, I started to climb the career ladder and my new office job caused my weight to climb its own ladder. Trapped in my own body and feeling older than I should be, I tried diet after diet, program after program.

I tried running many times, but always started out too fast, hurt myself with either burning lungs or shin splits. Each time I’d get discouraged or busy with other things in life and quit. This time was different.  I started out walking. After I could walk 3 miles I started a couch to 5k program, once I mastered that I signed my two daughters and I up for a 5K color run. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a long time, and just like that, I was hooked. My daughters and I ended up running 3 more fun themed races last year.

Nancy_groupI’m not sure who it was that recommended I join MRTT, but I am so grateful and forever in the debt to that person!! I started running with Queen Creek MRTT in January 2018. Each week I would try my hardest to keep up with the group, and while I was slow, they waited for me at the corner of every trail fork, and they continued to encourage me and cheer me on.  I started joining them for trail runs every weekend and I loved every minute of it.

In December 2017, I had made a goal to run a 10k race. With MRTT, I was running 10K or more on trails every weekend. I knew I’d have to create a larger challenge and set my goals for a half marathon. My sister in law was inspired by me and wanted to run with me so I selected a half marathon near her home in Northern Utah on July 14th. Month after month I’d remind her to register and start training.  It turns out I signed up for the race and did the training, she did not.

I followed Jeff Galloway’s first time half marathon training and prayed that it was enough to get me through the race. I moved my family to Northern Utah for the summer so they could spend some time with family, so that I could train at a higher altitude for the month prior to the race, and to escape the heat of AZ.

The weekend before the race I received an email that my half marathon was canceled. I was at a loss, I had trained for the past 4+ months. All those long runs and building my foundation, I didn’t know what to do, or how to maintain that level until I found something else.

I called one of my best friends and she invited me to stay with her and do the Star Valley Half Marathon in Afton, Wyoming. It was the same weekend as my canceled half marathon. I was ecstatic because the views and course were more beautiful than the course I had originally planned in Utah.  I had already driven 12 hours to Logan Utah, what would 3 more hours hurt?

The Star Valley Half Marathon was created to commemorate the life of avid runner Jeremy Bart Kunz. Jeremy was killed by a drunk driver on October 10, 2009. His family works tirelessly to put on a wonderful event to honor his memory.

SunriseThe weekend was perfect, my friend had another family that was staying with her specifically to join the race that weekend so it was fun to compare notes. The night before the race we drove the course. I thought to myself this course looks longer than 13.1 miles, are they sure they measured it right? Up until now all my practices had been running around the same area over and over again. This course was a straight shot down a canyon and through farm fields. Each race mile marker had a photograph of Jeremy and his outdoor adventures. The majority of the runners, including me, would tap the signs for good luck.

My dear friend drove me and her guest to the racer drop off point, we then rode a school bus 13.1 miles to the starting line. My hubby and kids slept in at her house, waiting to meet me at the finish line later that day.

The morning of the race was beautiful, clear sky 42 degrees. This newly acclimated Arizonian was cold. I opted to not drop my sweater at the trailer. The race officials stated they would donate any articles of clothing that were left on the race course. I was cold so I decided to stick with the jacket that morning and later regretted that decision.

I had packed my hydration backpack with fuel and frozen water. People looked at me as though I was strange. The majority of the other members of this race didn’t bring anything but themselves. Turns out all the aid stations were phenomenal, each stop was stocked with cold water, sport drinks, fruit, gummy worms and best of all, otter pops.

HalfThe race started at the top of Bridger National Forest, the first two miles were downhill through beautiful pine trees. We were greeted by free range cows that were out that morning grazing and watching people run by. The bottom of the canyon opened up to a lush green valley surrounded by farm land. Everyone tried to take the opportunity to run through the sprinklers that over sprayed the road from the fields.

The community support of this race was outstanding. Majority of the locals were watching and cheering from their driveways. At the midpoint of the race some kids were spraying willing participants with squirt guns. If you wanted to be sprayed, you stayed to the right and if not, you stayed to the left.

I started out with the goal of trying to run the race under 3 hours. For a first timer I felt that was a realistic goal. I noticed I was doing well as I was staying ahead of the 2:30 pacers up until about mile 5, then they passed me.

I was hoping to meet a chatty person along the route, but people would come and people would go. I missed my friend Kari N. who is a wonderful pacer and inspiration in AZ. I struggled with my backpack to dig out my headphones as I was getting lonely. Then came the 2:40 pacers, I stayed up with them until mile 9. I started playing tag with the same four runners, I’d pass them for a stretch then they would pass me over and over until the finish line.

Around Mile 9 a golden retriever ran happily down the road smiling at all that he passed. I hoped that he found his family. He was so excited to be running with people.

Mile 10 I was distracted by a phone call from my husband asking me where I was at in the race. He told me that they were eating waffles. I must have misunderstood because I thought they had waffles at the finish line. That sounded really good so I pushed faster. I told him it would be another 45 minutes before I finished and to meet me at the finish line.

Mile 11 I started sounding like I was giving birth with all my moaning. Probably scaring the 13year olds running with their mom. My legs felt like concrete poles. Muscles in my thighs and caves were locked up tight and stiff. I noticed some racers would stop and stretch, I tried to do the same with little relief from the pain.

Rounding out the last few corners of the race I tried to continue to run as everyone was cheering for me. Searching the crowd I was looking for my family. I know my girls had made posters for me and I was excited to see what they’d say.

Nancy_finishI finally crossed the finish line, a wave of excitement passed over me and sheer relief when the time clock displayed 2:50 minutes. I knew then I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. I searched the crowd for my family, still not there. I was congratulating the racers who worked around my pace and that played tag so well.

My family came trudging along 10 minutes later. I was sad that my girls did not get to witness my accomplishment, as I was hoping to influence them. They were at the mercy of my friend driving them that day. My husband said “you told me you needed another 45 minutes!” Turns out it only took me 35 to finish the last few miles. Waffles were inspiring! I’m not mad, just happy they came, and glad to have made it out alive.

The race had fantastic treats at the end with tables of bagels, muffins, donuts, and fruit. There were over 15 coolers of water and chocolate milk. Our spirits were high as we chatted about the day’s events and enjoyed the gathering of the community. I swore I’d always look for a scenic race from this point on, the views made it all worth it, and that I’d do this race again next year.

 

 

 

Race Report, Triathlon

Mountain Man Triathlon Race Report: Caryn Anson, July 2018

Mountain Man Triathlon uses the tagline, “The Toughest Race You’ll Ever Love.”  It takes place in Flagstaff, Arizona, elevation 7,000 feet.  There is a 787 foot climb on the bike, and a 322 foot climb on the run.  Mountain Man offers several distances; sprint, Olympic, and 70.3.  On July 9th, I did the Olympic distance; 1500 meter swim, 24.8 mile bike, 10K run.

MT_Man_swimMountain Man was my favorite race last year. Whenever I do a race I’ve done before, my goal is to beat my previous time. I’ve worked very hard with expert coaching from Renee Hodges at Foundation Physical Therapy. I believe I was capable of beating last year’s time. I’ve ridden much farther than that distance, including hill work, I have swum in open water about six weeks in a row leading up to the race.  My running has been limited due to an injury.  I knew I would run/walk, but didn’t expect to struggle with the swim or bike.  Unfortunately,  I had a panic attack in the water almost immediately. I couldn’t breathe the entire time. I know it’s 7,000 feet, but it was the same elevation last year, and I swam well. This swim was a disaster.  Even in my state of panic, I could recognize the water was nice, perfect temperature, and not too choppy.  I  never felt I could get my heart rate or breathing MT_Man_bikeunder control the entire race.

It should be noted that panic attacks in open water have nothing to do with one’s ability to swim.  I am not alone.  Many proficient swimmers have had panic attacks in the open water.  I was on swim team from ages 5-13.  I am an American Red Cross certified lifeguard, swim instructor, and swim coach.  I’ve taught hundreds of people to swim.  Give me water I can see through with a black line at the bottom and I’ll swim all day long. I first began doing open water triathlons in 2015, and that is when I had my first OWS panic attack.  I went to a sports psychologist.  She helped me tremendously, by giving me skills to avoid the attack, and push it away if it occurs.  I have been successfully swimming in open water for two-and-a-half years now.  I did not expect this to happen again, but it did.

I had a problem with my chain dropping early on the bike. I resolved it, but couldn’t get back on my bike because I was stopped on an uphill.  I had to walk my bike, making several attempts to get back on.  Finally at the top of the hill I got back in the saddle.  I never felt like I could get a full breath.  I was no longer panicking, but my breathing was shallow and labored. MT_Man_run

By the time I started the run, I was pretty much out of steam.   Still not able to get my heart rate and breathing under control, I walked the majority of the run.  In case my day wasn’t bad enough, I fell on the asphalt less than a mile from the finish.

Family and friends have reminded me to cut myself some slack.  My family has been through a lot of hardship for at least half a year. The emotional drain of the past seven months has to take a physical toll on my body. I’m sure that’s true, but working out hard is a great stress relief for me. Doing activities I enjoy makes life seem normal, even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. The two best things I did at Mountain Man were starting and finishing.  Time to reflect, learn, and move on to the next race.

Race Report, Ragnar, Road, Trail

Ragnar Relay: Trail vs. Road

I’ve done two Ragnar Trail races (both at McDowell Mountain in AZ) and one road (Southern California). I resisted road for a long time, and after having done both, I can say that I prefer trail. Which one is the relay experience for you? 

The two most obvious differences are that you run on road vs. trail, and hang out in a van vs camp. That right there may lead you to choosing one over the other.

me_van_small
Me and Van 1 before my first SoCal leg

Road Ragnar races are point to point—you start in one location (Huntington Beach for SoCal) and run, relay-style, to another location (San Diego). The team consists of 12 people and the race is set up so that you have 36 legs—three for each runner. They can vary immensely in elevation gain, number of stoplights you run through, distance, etc. Generally you have 6 people in one van and 6 in another. Van 1 will drop off Runner 1, who will run the first leg. Van 1 then goes to the first exchange to pick up Runner 1 and drop off Runner 2. This continues on through Runner 6, at which point you meet up with Van 2, who drops off their runner to do leg 7. This means that each van does get a break, and Van 2 doesn’t have to be around when Van 1 starts. It also means that you may end up spending a lot of time in the van. With some of our legs, we had time to get food, drop off runners at the hotel, etc. The second and third sets of legs were mostly short so we only had time to drop off a runner and then head to the exchange to pick her up. The beauty of Ragnar Road is that your team conquers 200 miles of that area and gets to enjoy the sights! My third leg was the best–I started and ended on the beach and had beautiful scenery the whole way. 

Ragnar_trail_sm
Before my first leg at Ragnar Trail AZ

Trail Ragnar races involve loops. Each team consists of 8 runners and the race is set up so you have 24 legs/loops. Each runner takes a turn running the same three loops, totaling approximately 15 miles. Runner 1 does loop A, then hands off to Runner 2 who does loop B. Runner 3 then does loop C, and runner 4 loop A. This continues on through the night until all 8 members of a team have run all 3 loops. While a runner is out, the others can remain at their campsite, walk around and visit other teams, and visit Ragnar Village, which is always open and has games, charging stations, vendors, a Ragnar gear store, and other things to do and see.

In case you’re wondering, both involve lots of porta potties! The exchanges for the road relay are often at schools, churches, and other community buildings, and rather than traipsing in and out of the building, runners use porta potties set up outside. For trail, there is of course an area with a ton of porta potties. And no, there are no showers and no sinks, at least, not in AZ.

Keep in mind that each location is a bit different. I’m told that Ragnar Del Sol (in AZ) doesn’t have as many stoplights as the one in SoCal. Many or most trail Ragnar relays allow you to choose a campsite, rather than assigning specific spots as McDowell does. Climate, terrain, altitude, etc. all vary as well and are definitely things to consider.

After my experience doing Ragnar SoCal, I decided that I prefer trail for a variety  of reasons. First, I didn’t like being tethered to the van. If a team member needs to use the restroom, everyone literally has to go along for the ride.  At trail you can wander off whenever you want and don’t have to drag everyone along when nature calls. Moving the van to meet the runners was a lot of work at times, especially if you hit traffic congestion and that can be added stress. And finally, I do generally prefer trail to road, and I honestly felt safer running amongst rattlesnakes, coyotes, and other wildlife as compared to my nighttime jaunt through sort of a shady area of town.

Ragnar Relays are amazing and I absolutely recommend trying one! Have you done a Ragnar Road or Trail race? After reading this, which would be your first choice?

Race Report

Phoenix Half Race Report

I did it! I did it! Got a new half-marathon PR at the 2018 Phoenix Marathon on February 24, 2018. My goal was 2:20 and I crushed it with a 2:16:22 finish. I’d sworn off anything over 10K but am rethinking that now! phx_me-e1519771107152.jpg

I ran four half-marathons between fall of 2013, and then took some time off. I hurt my foot while training for the first two and felt like I kept getting sick while training for the other two. My best time for those was 2:24 (on what I believe was a short course of 12.9 miles). I swore off distance events for a while because I felt like I couldn’t manage to train with my schedule.

Last summer I started thinking I should sign up for another half. I wanted a goal so I’d have a reason to remain consistent and increase mileage. As the start date for training approached, I looked at various plans including Hal Higdon’s and one I’d previously gotten from a coach (but only had the last half of). Instead of winging it, I decided to hire a new coach (previous one isn’t coaching anymore). I got my 12 week plan, based on a long phone call with the coach, and started training.

Training went amazingly well. The schedule fit mine perfectly. I ran 3 days a week, went to spin class one day, and did at least 2 days of weight training plus targeted core work. I felt strong throughout, never exhausted. I did most of my runs with several women from my Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town group. We met Tuesdays after dropoff, REALLY early Thursday, and Saturday or Sunday mornings.

There were a couple of hitches. I got sick just after Christmas, the weekend my husband was out of town. Fortunately my kids had a playdate (with the children of one of my MRTT friends) so I got some rest. Another weekend my husband was out of town I actually managed to find a neighbor’s teen to come over and stay with the kids (at 6 AM on a Saturday!) so I could do 9 miles with my friends.

Phx_group

The week before the race I had some serious taper crazies. My plan didn’t have a full-on taper so I was still running, just fewer miles than before. I think I went through every possibility of what could go wrong. It was supposed to be cold and I couldn’t figure out what to wear, I got my period, I wasn’t sure how to handle the pacing. In the end, none of this was an issue.

I rode to the race with three friends. Had a little anxiety on the way because traffic was horrible! We got there just in time to catch the bus and hit the portapotties. I did a quick warmup and drills as I’d been doing on my training runs. Discovered my earphones (which I planned to use for the last 5K) were dead. As the national anthem was sung, I positioned myself in front of the 2:20 pacer as someone had suggested. I knew I needed a 10:40 average pace and didn’t want to start out too fast.

I ended up sticking with about a 10:30 for most of the race. It felt comfortable without being too hard. I enjoyed seeing all the families and signs along the way. I ran alone but never minded. I told myself I’d get tired eventually and needed to be prepared. I repeated the mantras I’d used during training—Head up, shoulders back! Run with your butt! Light and fast! We are strong! I didn’t carry water, just stopped at three of the water stations to pop a couple of Honey Stinger chews in my mouth and take a quick sip of water.

I never felt out of breath. At about 10 miles, my feet started to hurt and I got tired, but instead of slowing down, sped up a bit now and then. I told myself I’d walk through the water stop at the 11 mile mark and open it up from there. And that’s exactly what I did! When I saw that I was still well under 2:20, I sped up to try to get close to 2:15. Ended up at 2:16:22 and was SO happy!

I never could have done it without my coach and my MRTT ladies! And now I’m thinking next year, I need to get under a 2:15. It’s good to have goals!

Uncategorized

Meet your Flagstaff, AZ Chapter Leader!

Hey ladies!! I’m one of the chapter leaders for Flagstaff, AZ. If you’re not familiar with Flagstaff, it’s not your typical Arizona city. We’re at 7,000 ft above sea level, and we get quite a bit of snow. Every time I post a photo of snow, or mention freezing weather, my Facebook friends are so confused because they had no idea it snows in Arizona! We actually get more annual snowfall than Anchorage, Alaska!! Below is a photo of when 2 friends and I wanted to go for a snowy run/hike last winter. We didn’t make it far!!16177799_10211065653824653_1999422707796053909_o

So… on to ME! My name is Jennifer and I was born in Tucson and lived in Amado (right on the border of Nogales) for several years. Then we relocated to St. Simon’s Island, GA, then the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. I went to Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC (the oldest  women’s educational institution in the US), and then moved back to Atlanta. I worked at a medical technologist in the microbiology lab of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for 10 years before relocating to La Serena, Chile with my husband. We spent two wonderful years there before moving to Flagstaff in 2011. The day after a huge 3-day snowstorm. I was sure we had made a huge mistake (we left summer in Chile)! But, Flagstaff has actually been pretty amazing.

As far as running, I don’t really remember when I started running. I was young. My dad was a runner, so I remember riding my bike alongside him while he ran 8 or 10 miles. Whenever he registered for a road race, I went with him and ran the kids fun run. I ran cross country in high school and college. I was never a superstar runner, but I loved it. After college, I ran on my own, just as a way to keep my mind clear and keep the stress out of my life! In 2009, I decided to run all of the Rock’n’Roll marathons (luckily, there were only 10 races in the series at the time). It was a great way to travel, and I had a friend run a few of the races with me. I made new friends along the race course. Plus, I got a lot of extra race bling medals. Who doesn’t love medals?!?

DSC06259.JPG

In January of 2010, my husband and I moved to Chile. Running wasn’t a huge thing there, but the beachfront access gave me about 13 miles of gorgeous running scenery. I was often the only one running there in the morning! A running friend of mine in the US invited me to run the NYC marathon with her in November 2010. How could I say no? That was a fantastic run, even though I was dealing with some morning sickness from being pregnant with my first child. I was 11 weeks along on marathon morning. He was born in June of 2011, and we moved to Flagstaff in December of the same year. It took me until late spring to really get back into running – running in the snow is no joke!

 

 

Flagstaff has an amazing running community. Of course, there is Team Run Flagstaff with Tuesday night track practice, tons of fun, and lots of friendly faces. There’s also the Flagstaff Trail Divas, a group of amazing women. All ages, all abilities. They run on Thursday evenings when the weather cooperates… basically from April through October, or longer if the weather is nice like this year! Our little chapter of MRTT was started a few years ago. The founder recently moved to California, so I stepped up to help out.

If you ever find yourself in Flagstaff, we’d love to have you run with our little MRTT group!

 

Race Report, Uncategorized

My First 10K – Race Report from Katie K.

I’ll never forget the day I became a “distance runner”. It was the first Saturday morning track and field practice my freshman year of high school. I was a sprinter (or so I thought). Before the end of the practice, the coach approached me and told me I needed to talk to the distance coach. I’ve never felt so confused in my life. I ended up finding a happy medium as a mid-distance runner throughout high school, earning my letter at 2 different schools with the 800m dash.

Katie1Post-high school I ran on and off on my own. I never made it past 6 miles in training. I only remember racing two different 5ks in my past. But a half marathon has always been on my life’s bucket list. So, at age 34, I decided to take baby steps and sign up to run my first 10k.

I chose the Race for Maggie’s Place, as I’ve had friends run it in the past, and it benefits an organization I support.  I’ve never been able to do it because it usually fell on my birthday weekend. I ended up scheduling a trip to Colorado a few days before the race, returning less than 12 hours before the start of the race, which may not seem like the best idea, but which actually helped me relax, get some altitude, and eat (mostly) clean the whole time.

Katie2I felt ready on race day. I had been getting my distance runs in, with some amazing negative splits the weekend before. I get my interval training in along with my cross training with cross fit. I brought my new Nathan palm bottle, and packed all the fuel I needed for pre and post race. Once I arrived, I noticed my phone hadn’t been charging properly. Yes, I’m one of those people who rely on their phone for music and Map My Run in my ear to stay focused. I watched my battery fall rather quickly, for not being in use, before the race.  I put my phone on low battery mode, trying to preserve it the best I could. I used the bathroom, um, portapotties, twice, tried warming up my legs a bit, and got to the starting line about 20 minutes before the race started.

On your marks. Get set. Drama! The race started. I tried not going too fast, I allowed people to pass me without worrying about it, and then I had to pee (AGAIN). Mile one. Done. Then my phone blacked out. I started stressing out BIG time! How was I going to run another 5 miles with no music, no split times, and needing to go to the bathroom? The thoughts swirling around in my head were unreal. How can I finish? Where is a bathroom? If I can’t handle a 10k, how am I to handle a 15k and half marathon? The ONE good thing that came out of nothing in my headphones was over hearing the conversation of a small group of runners in front of me- one of whom also needed to pee. I was relieved to not be alone and felt slightly less abnormal. There were construction port a potties way off course, but I passed on those. Fortunately around mile 2, there were brick bathrooms. While in there, I started pushing my phone home button a billion times, and by the time I started running again, it all started back up again! Yay music! Unfortunately, Map My Run was no longer current, but I at least had my music.

Katie3I got into a groove, and was able to relax. I found people to try and stay or go back and forth with, wondered why non-racers would be so bold as to ride their bicycles going with, or against, the flow of a race on our path, and finally made it to about mile 4 before I started to tank.  It was hot. Yes, it was “cooler” than it had been, but the race started at the time I’m used to finishing my training. I was grateful for my running hat I had recently won from a challenge through my MRTT running group. I accepted water on the go from a couple spots, as the water in my palm bottle was no longer refreshing. I kept my head held high, enjoyed the random breeze over the bridge, and made my only goal to keep running and not stop. I usually have a negative last split while training. This time was not the same. I had absolutely nothing left, which is the one reason I can look back and despite the drama in the beginning, have no regrets. 1:15:45.