It’s Been A While…

…I know. But I’m back, sort of. Physics final in less than two weeks. Things are getting REAL. In exactly two weeks…ch-ch-ch-changes!

Cryptic, I know.

What have you all been up to? Slogging it out in the heat at the Nashville Marathon/Half-Marathon? Setting PRs at Big Sur and Eugene? Catch me up! And get ready for more from Run Stronger Every Day.

Now go out and run.

Rules of the Road

To all the new runners out there in the world, welcome! Welcome to a unique community where “fartlek” isn’t a dirty word and the sweatier you are, the better.

The reality of running.
(Image courtesy of Adidas)

As much as we buck the norm where bathroom habits are concerned, we do have some manners that most seasoned runners adhere to. They are the following Rules of the Road:

#1. Spit directly downward towards your shoes. Not to the side. Not way out in front. Down beneath your own feet. That way if you have lousy aim, you aren’t punishing your neighbor.

Farmer blows are ok, just don't do it on your neighbor. (Image courtesy of Adidas)

#2. Wear clean clothes. Brush your teeth. Wear deodorant. No one wants to smell you while they’re gasping for air. Showering is optional, good hygiene and clean shorts are not.
#3. Pass on the outside. Cruise on the inside.
#4. Make way for the babies on board. The pregnant mamas and strolling-pushing parents have a lot more to maneuver than you do. Get out of their way.

Preggers lady gets the right of way every time.

#5. When you cross the finish line, keep walking. The runner behind you wants to get across it, too.
#6. Don’t pace off of another runner without their permission. It’s rude and mean to let them hold the pass while you tag along for the ride directly on their heels.
#7. Don’t brag. It’s unbecoming and no one will want to be your friend.
#8. Refrain from singing along to your iPod. Save it for the karaoke bars.
#9. People running UP the hill have the right of way over people running DOWN the hill. It just makes good sense, no?
#10. Run happy. Check your bad day/attitude at the door and try to enjoy the run. Don’t be a Debbie Downer at run club.

What else? There are so many runners out there doing intensely annoying/dangerous/rude things–tell me what you’ve seen and give me your list of Rules of the Road!

Now go out and run.

What It Means To Run Stronger Every Day

At the end of a marathon, I am not running fast. To be honest, the only marathon I think I finished “fast” (8:20s) was my worst marathon ever in Jersey where I walked/jogged from POJ to POJ from  miles 13-20 because of my UC flare-up. I had lots of rest and pounded out those last six miles like they were nothing.

Mile 25. Pretty sure I was the only person smiling as I ran past this photographer.

Running fast is not necessarily running strong. I have fast runs that are the easiest runs of my life where I am cruising along and could go on forever. That’s not what it feels like to run strong. So what does it mean to Run Stronger Every Day?

To me, it means that I run when I don’t feel like it. I run when it’s snowing outside (remember that day, Fat Bottom Slim?!) or 85°F with 97% humidity in August. I run when my legs feel like lead. I run when all I really want to be doing is eating homemade cookie dough. I run up the hard hills. I run harder when I think I’ve reached my limit. I run on the treadmill when my stomach won’t let me be more than 15 feet from the bathroom. I finish my runs when I really want to sit down on the curb and cry.

I run.

I Run Stronger Every Day.

No matter what, I run. I train. I lace up my shoes and give it my all for that day. I don’t compare my times with my times from 5 years ago. I don’t always wear my GPS watch to obsess about my splits. I run how I feel.

Dear Garmin,
I love you but you are a sometimes running friend. No hard feelings?
Love, Abby

Running Stronger Every Day means that I take stock of how I feel that day, what my body will tolerate that day, what my limits are that day, how hard I can push that day, and I run.

If it’s 2 miles before I go and lift, it’s 2 miles. If it’s 10 miles on the treadmill while I watch Bones, it’s 10 miles. If it’s 7 miles in Central Park, it’s 7 miles. If it’s nothing because my body just won’t allow it that day, then it’s a rest and recover day. But whatever it is, I make it my job to Run Stronger Every Day and live my life so that I CAN Run Stronger Every Day.

In a few short weeks, I will be starting from a different place and really learning what it is to Run Stronger Every Day. I will be challenged like I’ve never been challenged before. I will have to listen, take it slowly, start from scratch and re-learn what my body can do. I will be the comeback story of my lifetime. And everything I do will be in an effort to Run Stronger Every Day.

Yes! I Run Strong! And am a very sweaty beast. But I Run Strong!

How do you Run Stronger Every Day? What does it mean to YOU? I want to know.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: All-Stars

Happy Tuesday, friends! Monday is long gone and we are well into what is proving to be a pretty tough week here in the Land of Abby. Buuuuuuut, I think everything will work out and, you know, life goes on.

And on, and on, and on, and on. And today is Tuesday, so it’s high time I remind myself that being here is always better than not being here. You know who reminds me of that? All-Stars.

Every sport has an All-Star/All-American/All-State/All-Conference team who are the best of the best that year. They are the ones the rest of the team look up to and aspire to be. They are the the All-Stars and, sometimes, Olympians.

My favorite All-Star Olympic Basketball Team...those were the days.

Dara Torres is an All-Star. A super-hot, 40-something year-old ALL STAR and mom! (Image courtesy of TIME Magazine)

These athletes sacrifice a lot for their sport. It takes time, money, dedication and sacrifice to reach the heights attained by professional athletes. Yes, the rewards can be phenomenal, but never forget that they had to give up their lives to get where they are. For most of us, this is unattainable. Olympic speed and strength is out of our reach for whatever reason and these people, All-Stars all around, remain enigmas of the professional sports world.

And then there are the everyday athletes. My friends. My colleagues. The runners who buzz by me like I’m standing still in Central Park. They are All-Stars in their own right and whose ranks I aspire to.

Dorothy Beal is a mom of three who won the B & A Marathon in 3:11 and just yesterday ran her 20th marathon in the sweltering temperatures in Boston. I am more inspired by her All-Star performance yesterday than by any of her super-speedy times (she’s crazy fast!) because she fought hard to finish. Just finish. We all have horrible races but Dorothy is brave enough to share her story with the world, good or bad. Oh, and she’s famous, if you didn’t know.

Jessica Hofheimer is a fellow lululemon Ambassador and a 3:34 marathoner who sometimes runs 20 miles on a treadmill. You gotta do what you gotta do and Jessica does it with a smile and plenty of words of inspiration for others. She is an All-Star who has fought hard to be the amazing athlete she is today and I am in awe of her dedication.

Michele Gonzalez is a 2nd Lieutenant with the US Army, a 3:21 marathoner and has deployed to Iraq three times. What I love the most about Michele is that she is super-candid about running through her first pregnancy (And second! Congrats, Michele!) and what it takes to be healthy about it. In a world where it’s becoming commonplace for pregnant mothers to push themselves harder, Michele is a voice of experience and reason. I plan on copying her All-Star ways when I get pregnant.

These women are amazing to me. They are the All-Stars I look to for inspiration. If they can do it, so can I. They make me realize that I haven’t even come close to reaching my potential as a female athlete and coach. With a little more hard work, focus and creativity, I will reach their ranks one day. And that’s what All-Stars do for us. They inspire us to aspire to more.

They make it better to be here than not. Thank you, All-Stars.

Now go out and run.

Personal Responsibility (I’m Not Gonna Lie)

I’m not gonna lie, Friday was one of the toughest days I’ve had in a long time. Not only was it such a long day that my husband couldn’t even drag my tired butt out to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner, but I seemed to come up against resistance on every front. What should have been a really momentous day (DPT school orientation!) turned out to be a challenge to see how tough I really am.

Turns out, I’m pretty tough.

Well, with the help of three very special people, I’m tough as they come 🙂

So, no Fitness News last week. Trust me, there will be plenty to round up this week, what with runners plowing through Hopkinton as I write this blog (go runners!). Also not going to lie, Boston is NOT on my bucket list of races to run. In fact, I’m really not a fan. I like having the goal to qualify for Boston, but when I do qualify, I don’t know if I’ll even bother running.

Boston is a prestigious race because they only allow qualifying times, no raffle. This year, the qualifying times were made even harder so as to keep out the casual runners. They have all sorts of reasons for this, but the main one is to keep it small and prestigious.

When I trekked to Boston a few years ago for Patriot’s Day to watch the famous Boston Marathon I’m not gonna lie, I was shocked at the talk that I heard in the crowd. “They didn’t qualify. Look, they’re running for a charity. Losers.” Yeah, only losers and slow runners are on charity teams. Right.

Image courtesy of ownitemc.com

Lance Armstrong is such a loser with his 2:50:58 time finishing 488th place and running for his charity, Livestrong.

It’s a snobby race. Remember, this is also the race where the director tried to forcibly remove the first woman runner from the race while she was running. Awesome legacy, Boston.

Image courtesy of ESPN.com

I may run it, I may not. But if I do, you can count two things: I am there because I qualified AND I am running for one of my favorite charities. BOOM. Take that, snobby Boston Marathon people.

When I ran my first marathon back in 2003 in New York City, the temperatures reached well into the 80s, almost the 90s. It was hot, humid and horrible. Remember, Obi-wans? Ugh. I’m not gonna lie, it was terrible. I was unprepared for the heat but I proudly crossed the finish line and will always remember how hard I fought to get to Tavern On the Green.

Hot, sweaty, bloated BUT I finished. NYC, baby.

Today’s Boston Marathon is supposed to be a hot one. It’s 78° right now, at 11am, and will get into the high 80s by the time people barrel down Boylston Street towards the finish line. This year is the first year that the Boston Athletic Association has allowed deferrals due to the weather.

Really? You can defer because the conditions aren’t ideal?

Wow. This is a dangerous precedent to set. I thought marathon running was only for the toughest of the tough. I have run many a long run (20+ miles) here in NYC when it’s been hot as hell, humid like you wouldn’t believe, raining like it’s the end of days and so cold that I couldn’t feel my toes after mile 3. I made it safely through every one of those runs. It’s called personal responsibility.

I slowed down. I hydrated properly. I took in fuel when I needed it. I walked. I held myself personally responsible for every step I took. I also knew when to call it quits and head home because my body just wasn’t having it that day.

I don’t think it’s a race director’s job, nor is it his/her responsibility to make sure every single runner is fit to run. I understand that the sport is getting popular and stupid people think they can just lace up their shoes and be fine, but that is their decision. They are adults. The problem is, these people drop like flies and the media makes it into a gigantic circus around how many people were taken to the hospital. The fact of the matter is, the number of people who die during marathons, while tragic, compared to the number of people running marathon is unbelievably low. And mostly are due to heart attacks, not heat stroke.

I will probably get a lot of flak for sharing this opinion with the Internet world. Really, though, isn’t it up to the runner to decide whether or not they can run that day? And isn’t it unfair to next year’s runners who have qualifying times to be cut out because of the weather this year? Boston wants to be all prestigious, but it seems to me that they are just trying to protect their name and their reputation with this decision.

Thoughts? Comments? I really want to hear them. Tell me what you think!

Now go out and run!

Full disclosure: I am NOT qualified for Boston next year.