How my Crappy Attitude about Running Changed

Around 6AM, I wake to the sounds of my son getting up for school and to the sound of rain.

YESSS, no running today!
Darn, I need to run!
Yay, I can sleep in!
Damnit! How am I supposed to train for a marathon with this crappy weather? 
This means I don’t have to do 17 miles today… right?!
But then when will I do the long run? NYC is not going to change the date of their marathon because I didn’t get my training done.
Live in the moment, this moment is it raining, so therefore I can’t run today… and don’t give me that bullshit about how cool it is to run in the rain, I’m not in the mood today.

My son heads out as my coffee brews. I check the weather. The first site tells me that by 9AM when I plan to meet my two running buddies the rain should have stopped. I check a few other sites, they all say the same thing. Damn!

I scroll through the late night happenings on Facebook and read a few blogs. I check the weather again. It hasn’t changed.

I don’t feel like it, but I make oatmeal, adding almond butter, chia seeds and cinnamon because that trio seems to give me energy and it looks like I’ll need it today.

I sleepily stare out the window and see that the rain has slowed to a drizzle, but technically it’s still raining. I check my phone to see if my running pals texted to cancel. They have not. What is their problem, why don’t they cancel?

As I begin a blog post, I want a second cup of coffee, but since I might be running soon, I stop at one. I check the weather again. Darn, why doesn’t it change to lightening and thunder!?

Whose idea was it to do the NYC marathon? What was I thinking when I said yes??

I make my sports drink and fill my water bottles. I check my phone again. Darn, no one canceled! I stick my head out the door and there’s no rain.

Okay, guess this run is happening today.
I post this on Facebook as I get ready to head out the door.

I like all the benefits of running and somedays I even like the act of running… today is not one of those days. I’m headed out the door for a looong run (17 miles) and I have no desire to run today :(
Ugh, one step at a time, I think I can, I think I can…

I don’t need my wipers as I drive to our meeting spot, but it is an overcast, humid kind of day. I arrive a few minutes early and my running buddies aren’t there. YES!! This means they are canceling. No run today because I can’t go alone, especially after that dead body was found on this trail recently. 

Damn, my friends soon arrive. I greet them with mixed emotions. Both seem to be in the same mood I am. There’s not a lot of chatter, other than complaints about the weather, about running and about the tough decision of whether to wear a hat (for rain) or a sweatband. We tie our shoes, put on our fuel belts and start our warmup walk.

After warming up, we say, “you ready?” at least three times before we actually start running.

I feel the urge to run faster than normal, probably because I want this run to be over and because I feel surprisingly well. I push the pace during the first mile or so, until one of them asks me what my hurry is. I slow up, so we hang together and chat for a few miles.

We run close together and keep our pepper spray ready as we past the spot that was in the news recently. (I’m not stupid, I’m careful and cautious, but I also don’t like to allow the bad things of life to control my world) 

After a few miles, we stop at a convenience store near the trail. Leaving there we put on our headphones and our chatter dies down. The sky darkens for a short time and it rains briefly before the clouds clear somewhat and the sun peeps out.

I feel strong and the minutes pass quickly. We planned to do our normal 3/1 throughout the run, but I found the walking breaks are coming too often. I’m amazed how good I feel, especially considering my crappy attitude earlier. To stay with the others, I loop back a few times.

My lungs, my legs… everything feels good and I’m so thankful to be running!

After 18 miles!

Eighteen (that’s 18!) miles later, we finish. And we’re all smiling. The smiles might be because we had a good run, or because finishing never felt so good. But we’re all glad we did it.

I came home and posted this on Facebook…

Did I tell you that I love running!

Because that is what a good run will do for you!
Posted in Because I Can

Fitbloggin—Where Everyone Does What They Can

Because I Can is the title of this blog, my memoir and my Facebook page because it became my life mantra during my difficult journey of recovering from injuries and from depression.

Post-accident I struggled with a new body, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anger, depression, etc. After grieving my losses, I let go of who I was before, stopped comparing what I could or couldn’t do with both the former me and with others. Instead I began…

doing what I can, with what I have, where I am…
because I can.  

Doing that has taken me farther than I ever thought it would. Both with running and with speaking. Recently I attended the Fitbloggin conference as one of the speakers.

Speaking at Fitbloggin – photo by CarriedPhotograpy.com

The attendees are folks who are interested in health and wellness and most share their journey through blogging. The sessions ranged from detailed instructions on blogging to inspiring stories to classes on good nutrition to fitness classes, everything from cross-fit to yoga.

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Through-out the weekend, I was blown away at all the inspiring examples of people doing what they can, with what they have… because they can. This ranged from people creating different lifestyles for various reasons… to lose hundreds of pounds, to control diabetes or to figure out what they were running from after they did 9 marathons in 14 months.

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Susan rocking her performance    –     photo by CarriedPhotograpy.com

When faced with the news that she was pre-diabetic, Susan made changes in her life to be as healthy as possible and now she shares her story through a one-person performance… because she can.

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Dawn’s journey over the past five years.

One of my roommates was Dawn and she’s been on a journey of living well by making different choices concerning her health. And she has made great strides by doing what she can!

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Robby’s 5k sign   –     photo by Roni Noone

Fitbloggin had a 5k sponsored by Reebook and they had us each make a sign… Robby’s sign speaks volumes about doing what she can with the body she has. She’s dealing with back injuries right now, so she can’t run, but she’s still loving her body by not pushing it too far and by doing what she can!

I’ll be writing more about what I learned and about the people I met. If interested in reading posts by other attendees… here’s a page with links to all the Fibloggin recaps. And if you’d like to attend Fitbloggin, the next one will be Portland, OR in June, 2013.

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So are you doing what you can to live well… even if you have challenges, tough obstacles or unwanted issues in your life?

 

Posted in Because I Can

Chris Kaag—Doing what he can, Because He Can!

Bev and I with Chris after working out

As with each of  Your Inspiring Stories I share, I’m excited to bring you this one. If we’re friends on Facebook, you might have seen me comment that I’d tried working out at gyms in the past, but never liked it, but now I’m going to a gym about once a week and I like it!

Chris Kaag, the person whose story I’m sharing today, is the man behind that craziness. Chris contacted me after hearing that I did a marathon on the 8th anniversary of my accident, because my philosophy of doing what I can, because I can is similar to his life philosophy.

Never forget to appreciate what you CAN do and GET UP AND MOVE!
- Chris Kaag
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Janet: Tell us when and how your world changed.

Chris: At the age of 21 while in the Marine Corps, I was admitted to the hospital as doctors tried to determine why I was experiencing tingling and numbness in my feet. After 9 weeks, I was diagnosed with a degenerative nerve condition that became the turning point of my life.

Can’t ski like he did before, but he can still ski!

 

At first I had to use a cane to steady myself, then 2 canes and within 5 years, I began using a wheelchair the majority of the time.

I was faced with a decision to dig deep and push on or give up and let my condition take over my life.

The 3 months I had spent in boot camp in the summer of 1994 gave me the knowledge and strength I needed to dig deep and push on, even when faced with obstacles.

I now live by three simple words that I learned as an 18 year old Marine recruit:

IMPROVISE, ADAPT, AND OVERCOME.

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How does this affect your daily life now?

In one way my life is like everyone else’s, but in another way every aspect of my life is affected. We live in a ranch house with some modifications. I can stand on my legs to transfer, but I use the wheelchair to be mobile.

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What do you miss about your life before this condition affected you?

I miss being able to workout like I did before, but I’m happy about many of the other things that have happened since. I’ve met many amazing people and done some incredible things.

Mountain biking

What obstacles have you overcome that you or others didn’t know if you could?

In 2004, I started Corps Fitness, a boot camp gym where we combine a tough workout with trainers who encourage and motivate you to help you reach your fitness goals.

We have many people working out here who need no modifications or adaptive equipment, but just need a kick in the butt to stay motivated. We also have others working out here who need adaptive equipment or exercises and who work just as hard (or even harder) to be as fit as they can be.

Check out the Corps Fitness blog or the Corp Fitness Facebook page for some great pictures.

Group workout at Corp Fitness

What dreams and goals have you reached since being affected physically?

Starting the IM ABLE Foundation in 2007…

The mission of the IM ABLE Foundation is to remove obstacles that prevent people affected by disabilities from being physically active by providing grants, resources, fitness opportunities and motivation. We change attitudes about the potential of disabled individuals by redefining what is possible.

 

IM ABLE provides resources for both adults and kids, but it was started because of kids. When I was a kid, I was fully mobile and active. While in the hospital, I saw kids affected by disabilities from birth and I wanted to give them a chance to be as active as they can be.

My note: Visit IM ABLE on their blog or on Facebook to see all the people they have helped. They also puts on a triathlon and duathlon for athletes of all abilities. 

And if you or someone you know has obstacles that prevent you/them from being as active as you/they would like to be… look into applying for a grant from IM ABLE.

An IM ABLE bike ride for folks of all abilities

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What dreams and goals do you have for yourself in the future?

My wife Gretchen and I are expecting our first child in April!

Gretchen and Chris

And I’d like to travel more, one place on my list is the Finger Lakes area.

Plus I want to continue to empower and motivate others.

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What does a well-lived day look like to you… or in other words, if you knew you were dying tomorrow, what would you do today?

Hang out with Gretchen and do something active, like mountain bike, ski or kayak.

Kayaking with his dog, Riley

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Now you know why this guy motivates me and why I said YES when he asked me to represent IM ABLE at the NYC marathon in November.

As you make choices about how to live your life, think about Chris’s explanation of the three words he lives by…

Improvise; find a way to do things differently.
Adapt; implement this change into your daily life.
Overcome; get on with your life with no excuses. 

You know the drill, leave encouraging notes or questions in the comments for Chris or about Corps Fitness and IM ABLE.

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More of Your Inspiring Stories
Troy Roland—Hockey and Running, Because He Can!
Running at Age 72 and Age 84—Because They Can!
Living Each Day Well–Because She Can

Running Truly is for all Ages
Michele Lynn—Believed She Can… and She Did!
Roni Noone does Fitbloggin’—Because She Can!
Beverly Shantz—Living and Laughing… Because She Can!
Consistency Helps Dawn do Anything—Because She Can! 
 
Posted in Personal,
Body

Running Well with a Timer—Transitions and Speed Work

Four years ago I returned to running with my beatup body. At first I tried to run continually, but the stress on my mangled legs and hips was too much. I’d had enough pain and I had no desire to have more.

I wondered if I was pushing myself too much. But I believe our bodies are meant to move and we should be able to do it injury free. And reading books like The Ultramarathon Man and Born to Run inspired me. So I figured with time and patience I might be able to not only run, but to run well, meaning without injuries and enjoying it.

Jeff Gallowy’s rocking timer!

So, as I’ve written, I became a proud member of the run/walk/run crowd  and that transformed my running. Taking regular walking break prevented injuries and allowed my legs (and lungs) to slowly get stronger. So I’ve become a big fan of walking breaks and I’ve sent many of you to JeffGalloway.com for timers. (I’m thinking Jeff owes me a dinner soon)

While taking walking breaks can make running enjoyable and can prevent many injuries,  there is one thing to think about… the transitions. Going from walking to running tends to be smooth, because we naturally lean forward slightly and slowly begin running.

But it’s easy to go from running to walking too quickly, which can put extra stress on our hips, knees and/or ankles. 

At first I ran so slow, that the transitions from running to walking weren’t a problem. But as my legs got stronger, I started running slightly faster (still slow by many standards, but for me, it’s flying). Plus then I started using the timer and hearing it beep for a walking break was such a beautiful sound, that I’d stop running… instantly. Talk about high stress on my joints!

On the other hand, sometimes hearing the timer beep at the end of a walking break sounds anything but beautiful and there might be some bleeping complaining.

After having some minor aches and pains in my knees and ankles, I wondered if my transitions were to blame. So instead of viewing the beep as my invitation to abruptly stop running, I view it as a signal to get ready to walk. Now I continue to run a few more steps, allowing myself to naturally slow down to a walk.

And what a difference that has made. Yes, it shortens my walking time by a few seconds, but that’s okay, painfree knees and ankles are worth it.

I’ve also recently started using my timer to get some speed work in as I train for my upcoming races, the Runner’s World Half and the NYC marathon. For a long time, I couldn’t do any speed work, because as soon as I would sprint, my legs/feet hurt too much. While speed work is not a must, it can make you stronger and help you in a race.

So as my legs have gotten stronger I’ve started doing a little, but running in circles at a track bores me, so I’m been doing a number of 5ks and using them as my speed workouts.

I keep my timer set at 3/1, but when it beeps for a walking break, I slowly increase my running until I’m sprinting. I count to 15 or 20 (depends how ambitious I feel) and then slow down to a walk. Yes it cuts into my walking time, but I don’t need that long walking breaks during a 5k. Plus it gives me a speed workout. The only thing I have to be careful of is that I keep my transitions smooth by naturally slowing up to a walk after the sprints.

So step by step, experiment by experiment, I continue to learn how to take care of this body of mine. And the cool thing is, it continues to get stronger and the pain from my damaged nerves continues to decrease. Running well rocks!

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Do you take walking breaks and if so, have you thought about how you do the transitions?
And what tips have you learned that helps you run well in other ways? 
Posted in Your Story

Roni Noone Does Fitbloggin’—Because She Can!

Last year, I attended a conference in Baltimore called Fitbloggin’. It’s a conference for bloggers about fitness, wellness, good food and a healthy lifestyle. I loved the conference, the people I met, the workshops, the fitness classes and the food.

One cool thing was that the fitness classes were intermixed with the other sessions, so at the end of the day, there was none of the normal I-sat-at-a-conference-all-day-and-I’m-groggy-feeling. Instead every few hours, you were up and moving. So along with learning, I tried out some new workouts.

So this week as one of your inspiring stories, I want to share the story of the woman behind the conference, Roni Noone. She helps others learn how to live well because she first made a choice to do so herself.

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 Janet: Tell us a little about yourself.

Roni: I’m Mom to 2 boys, wife to The Husband, and a professional blogger. 7 years ago I lost 70lbs and have been maintaining a healthy lifestyle ever since!

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When did you decide to make some changes to your life and why?

Roni’s delicious chili! (click for recipe)

After the birth of my son Ryan I knew it was time to change. I was a yo-yo dieter for over 15 years. Constantly thriving for skinny and getting fatter in the process.

After being pregnant and having a new life to take care of, my goals shifted slightly. I was now more interested in being healthy, and being a good example for my son. “Getting skinny” wasn’t my main focus. I started making small changes and they starting building up!

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It’s hard to make changes, how did you do it? And how do you keep on, keeping on?

Motivation is a funny thing and goal achieving is contagios! Once I’d reach a small goal, like food journaling for the day, the next seemed more attainable. The more goals I achieved the more confident I became!

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After the Philly Color Run

 

What goals have you reached that you didn’t know if you could?

I didn’t think I could reach any of them when I started.  First, losing 70lbs, starting to run, running my first 5k, 10k, 10 miles, 1/2 marathon and full marathon.

I even ran a Tough Mudder this year! I didn’t think any of those things were possible for me, a chubby, unathletic girl with a bad body image.

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What goals do you have for yourself in the future?

Well, I continue to run events but my goal now is to simply keep on, keeping on!  I have 2 boys to raise. I want to show them not only how to live a healthy, balanced life, but how women are strong, independent and more than just a body.

What does a well-lived day look like to you… or in other words, if you knew you were dying tomorrow, what would you do today?

Great question! I’d want to be with my boys, on a beach, enjoying the waves after an awesome morning run and before bed, a date night with my husband.  :)

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Roni (Veronica Noone)

Roni Noone

Roni is a mom, wife, web publisher and overall geek. She started a blog when she got pregnant with her first son to keep family and friends updated.

Plus it gave her a way to do two of her favorite things, be creative and communicate (or as she says, I like to make stuff and I like to talk, A LOT).

And then one thing led to another, she started another blog where she shared her journey about healthy living. And then she wanted to post recipes for the healthy food she was eating, so she started a food blog.

And she thought it would be cool to have a lot of bloggers connect and learn about both blogging and health/wellness from each other so she started a conference.

As you can see, Roni has a few irons in the fire, so check this landing page which has links to her various endeavors, or connect with her on Twitter @RoniNoone and on Facebook at Roni.

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Roni’s story shows how when someone makes positive changes in their own life, their passion overflows and they want to share it. Roni lives that out so well. First her choices only affected her, but now they affect many through her blogs and Fitbloggin’!

It’s similar to the two marathons I’m doing this year. The first one was about me. To reclaim a day I disliked. To see what I could do. And doing the NYC Marathon on Nov 4 is  about others. To help those who face tough obstacles. To do what I can so others can do what they can.

I look forward to seeing Roni doing what she does so well at Fitbloggin’ 12, September 20 to 23. And this year, I’m one of the speakers for a session called Ignite Fitness. (Woohoo!)

If interested in seeing what happens when someone’s passion for living well overflows, you could join the party. Registration is open until September 18th. Check it out here.

Leave your questions, thoughts, healthy recipes, etc. for Roni in the comments.

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*More of Your Inspiring Stories
Chris Kaag—Doing What He Can, Because He Can!
Troy Roland—Hockey and Running, Because He Can!
Running at Age 72 and Age 84—Because They Can!
Living Each Day Well–Because She Can

Running Truly is for all Ages
Michele Lynn—Believed She Can… and She Did!
Beverly Shantz—Living and Laughing… Because She Can!
Consistency Helps Dawn do Anything—Because She Can! 
 

‘Fun’ for Labor Day—Trails, Hills, Rocks, Mud and Bees

Long runs are on my schedule now since I’m training for the RWHalf (7 wks) and the NYC marathon (9 wks). This week a 14-mile run was on the docket, so my PIR (partner-in-running) Bev and I decided to mix it up by doing it at a Labor Day weekend trail run called Labor Pain.

Labor Pain* is a 12 hour endurance run done on a 5-mile loop. During the 12 hours, each individual or team runs the loop as many (or as few) times as they wish and the person who has run the most miles at the end of the day wins.

Bev and I decided to do it as a team, which meant one of us would be on the course at a time, while the other one rested. We planned to do 3 loops each, giving us each 15 miles.

The start of the Labor Pain Endurance Run

So at 7:30am, while Bev was still sleeping, I was with the crowd of 200+ people ready to hit the trail. Of the 5-mile loop, only about 5% is on blacktop, the rest is what I would call a moderate trail. I’m bad with remembering exact details, but roughly 00% was flat and obstacle-free, with the other 75% being hills (what goes up must come down) and having roots and rocks to avoid.

A few of the other obstacles were grassy slopes, a short, but steep hill that you almost had to crawl up on your hands and knees, a guard rail to crawl over, along with a steep bank covered in rocks that you had to crawl up near the end of the course.

At the end of my first 5-mile loop

My first loop was tough! I had a hard time getting started. The first half of the course was mostly gradual upgrades or uphill and my body was not warmed up yet, so it was stiff. And apparently my half a cup of coffee wasn’t enough, because I didn’t quite avoid all the roots. I went down on my hands and left knee twice. Thankfully it only resulted in surface cuts and slight bruises.

Temps were around 70 at the start, but with high humidity, it soon felt much warmer, so it was refreshing when it started raining slightly during the last 15 minutes of that loop. I relaxed and finally began enjoying the run a little.

But then during the last 5 minutes of that loop as I was crawling up the bank of rocks, a hateful tracker-jacker straight from Hungry Games stung me on the back of my head. Smack-dab in the middle of my head! I’ve had numerous bee stings over the years, but never on the back of my head. The pain was sharp for at least 30 minutes before it decreased to an annoying itch the rest of the day.

I had hoped to do each loop in about an hour, but with the rough terrain in some places, it took about an hour and 15 minutes. I was so glad to limp back into the pavilion and see Bev. I wondered if she’d be mad it I said I was going home.

I didn’t say anything because I figured she’d want to try at least one loop. She started off on her first loop in the light rain, but soon the skies opened up and it poured! Bev doesn’t mind running in light rain, but I wondered how she was handling this downpour. I felt really bad for her as I settled into my lawn chair, dry and comfortable under the pavilion with snacks and the latest copy of Runner’s World, so thankful I wasn’t out there. Yes, I’m that kind of friend.

The rain slowed down, but it was still raining lightly as Bev finished. I should have gotten a picture of her coming in, because though she was totally soaked, she had a giant smile and was saying, “I love this!” (now you know why I like this gal)

By then I was rested enough and had lectured myself enough to be willing to try a second loop. I started off in a slight rain, but felt more energetic, plus I knew what to expect, and I had a new mantra running through my head “lift your feet, lift your feet!”

Thanks to the heavy rain, now there was another obstacle on some sections of the trail, mud! I tried to avoid most of it, but that was impossible. Instead I focused on allowing my ankles and knees to be more flexible to absorb the different terrain better and I was soon enjoying myself.

On trail runs like this, I don’t use my run/walk/run timer, instead I base my walking breaks on the hills and terrain. So I’d run until I came to a hill or a  section with a lot of rocks or mud and then I’d walk until I came to better terrain.

After my second loop, with Bev ready to start her second loop

By the time I finished (8 minutes faster than the first loop) the rain had ended and I began thinking of the possibility of doing 4 loops instead of 3. Bev had changed into dry clothes and she was all smiles when I mentioned an additional loop as she headed out for her 2nd one.

Instead of burying myself in a magazine, I mingled with the other runners and spectators, trading trail stories (misery loves company) and getting motivation. By the time, Bev came back, I was ready to tackle another loop.

Finishing my third loop

My 3rd loop went well, but I could tell my hips and thighs were getting tired and my feet were getting sore from the rocky sections. Though the endless loops some of the others were running was tempting me, I was concerned that if I try running a 4th loop, I would get careless and trip again. And the last thing I wanted was to injury myself, so during the transition between our 3rd loops, we decided we would do another loop, but we would walk it together.

(being on the course at the same time meant our team would only get credit for one of us, but with the two top teams doing a record-smashing 90 miles, it didn’t make a difference if we got credit for a total of 35 or 40 miles, we weren’t breaking any records or winning any awards either way)

Bev finishing her third loop

Woohoo! After 15 miles, she’s not even slowing down on the uphill to the finish, beating the runner behind her! (he might be on his zillionth lap of the day, but who’s counting?) After Bev rested for 10 or 15 minutes and refueled from the wonderful array of food they had there, we both headed out for the final lap.

Though we had to move over from time to time to allow runners to past, it felt good to walk. We still had to watch our step some places, but other times we could look around and actually see the scenery. We were tired and sore when we finished, so walking was the right choice.

Though 20 miles stretched out over 9 hours with breaks after every 5 miles isn’t near as taxing as doing it all at once, it’s given us both confidence in our ability to be ready for a half and a full marathon in about two months.

Giving the timekeeper our final tally for the day.

If I’ve learned this once,
I’ve learned it a thousand times and now I’ve learned it again!
When things don’t go as planned, do not throw in the towel after one try!

Try, try again!

While I’m not about ignoring pain, sometimes we have to push through discomfort and/or lack of motivation. If I would have quit after one loop, I would not have experienced 2 good loops, nor would I have done 5 more miles than I originally planned. Plus, I would have missed a great opportunity to strengthen both my body and my confidence for my running schedule over the next few months.

Check back Wednesday for some inspiring stories of the amazing runners (from ages 21 to 62 to 80 years young!) who broke personal and course records at this run.

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Have you ever done a trail run? Do you like or dislike it?
Have you learned to try, try again? How?

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*Labor Pain is the brainchild of Pretzel City Sports, which is a company that provides Sports Events with a Twist. It is owned and operated by Ron and Helene Horn, who are wonderfully crazy people who create some amazing runs.