Thursday, January 31, 2013

Runner's Tag Questions

A blog I read recently had responses to these running questions, and I thought (since I'm short on substance right now) it would be fun to answer them and share.  He made a video and stuff, but I rarely watch videos by bloggers, let alone have the time and know-how to make one myself.  But I can answer questions, particulary questions about running! 

Here are my written answers for Runner's Tag.

1. How long have you been running?

I've been running for about a decade now.  I ran as punishment when ordered by our tennis coach in high school, then a few times for stress relief in law school, and then mostly for fitness beginning in 2003.  In 2003, my running was solo, sporadic and on a treadmill, and I ran a single 8 mile race slowly that year.  I started running distance (and running very regularly) in 2004, and I've stopped only once -- about 6 months off in late 2005 and early 2006 due to an injury.  I have a very funny story about my mother-in-law and that injury, and I will have to share it sometime. 

2. Why did you start running?

In May 2004, a friend convinced me it would be fun to train for a marathon together. She'd gotten me to sign up for all kinds of things that we'd abandoned in the past (rowing, which we did about twice, and Spanish for Lawyers, which I never even attended (but bought the book and paid to take!), I think a dance class, etc.), and I thought the marathon would be like that. But by the fall, suddenly we were up to 20 miles and I knew it was really going to happen.  We ran together for many years after that first season, though she stopped a couple times to make people, and is now recovering from knee surgery. 

3. What is the furthest distance you have ever ran?
I would say the New York Marathon.  I've done about 16 marathons, and technically, they're all 26.2 miles, but the year I ran NY, there was some pre-race confusion about where we went for bag check, so a friend and I ran about a mile to get to bag check and then ran back to the starting line, and by then the race was already underway, so we both kept right on going.  My chip measured the 26.2, but I know I ran at least a mile before the chip began recording.  Notably, I also did three walks of 27 miles each while training for the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon in 2012, but NY was about 27.2, so it wins as my longest run ever.

4. What is your best running memory?
The day I qualified for Boston.  I can't say as a beginning runner that I always wanted to qualify for Boston.  In fact, my times initially were so slow, that I set goals like breaking 5 hours, then breaking 4:22 (a sub-10 minute mile, seemed elusive at the time), and then breaking 4 hours.  But at some point along the way, I started reading running magazines and socializing more with runners, including many faster than me, and the Boston seed was planted.  It seemed like a remote possibility, but it was a goal, and I worked for it.  I worked hard for it.  I finally got my first BQ in 2010 at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  Full post here

5. What shoes do you run in?

I started off in Sauconys, then made the switch to Brooks Glycerin, which I wore loyally for many, many, many years.  Within the last 18 months or so, I've also been wearing the Adidas Supernova Glide and the Mizuno Wave Rider, but the Glycerins also remain in the rotation.  Last week I bought the newest pair of the Supernova -- light blue in color. 

6. What are your favorite and least favorite distances to run or race?

Tough to say.  I guess the marathon is my favorite.  There's so much work that goes into it and things have to line up well for it to be a good race day.  I love that challenge.  And I love the calorie burn that comes with training for a marathon.  I also like the 5k a lot because even though it hurts like hell, it's just over so quickly.  My least favorite is probably the 10k.  For some reason I have never paced myself well at a 10k, and my 10k PR predicts me with a marathon time much slower than I actually run. 

7. Do you have a running partner?
Yes.  I have a group of running buddies that I run with faithfully about three days a week, four if we're feeling crazy.  As I've said before, it's a group of awesome friends and we've been through a lot together over the years -- marriages, divorces, job changes, deaths in family, babies, moves, etc.  I'm insanely lucky to have a reliable and stable and fun group of friends that keeps me accountable and makes me push myself hard. 

8. What is your favorite place to run?

Favorite around here is probably the Katy Trail, since I live near it and don't have to drive.  It's a 3.5 mile pedestrian/bike path through uptown.  I also love running at our local lake, but it's a few miles away, so I drive there.  The lake is a lovely 9.3 mile loop.  Favorite places ever to run are in a park near Lamezia Terme, Italy, about 10 minutes in the car away from my husband's family's house, near the lakes in Minneapolis around which the marathon goes in the fall, in Central Park in NY, and up in the north woods of Wisconsin.  Dallas doesn't hold a candle to any of those.  I love running whether there's pretty natural scenery, but it's a fine line since I really don't like running hills (though I know they're good for me). 

9. What is your favorite running accessory?

I would say my Garmin and its heart rate monitor.  In the days before Garmin, I used to love keeping track of my stats so much, but it was such a pain to do by hand.  I love that it all uploads automatically and I can get annual totals or any other kind of extraction that I want.  I like knowing my instant pace, my total time, my average pace, my total distance, etc.  I try not to obsess over instant pace, but few things beat the feeling of thinking you're really struggling and then looking down at your watch to see that you are in fact running a killer pace! 

10. Do you like outdoor or indoor running?

Outdoors all the way!  I try to avoid treadmill running whenever possible, at most a handful of times per year.  I much prefer running with friends, so obviously that's outside.  But even for a solo run, it's so much more interesting to be outside, and I feel like it's better training for my body.  Really bad weather will occasionally force me to the treadmill, particularly when we're in the North Woods for Christmas, but if we have bad weather in Dallas, I usually suck it up and run outside, or give myself a pass and take a rest day.  I did one treadmill run already in 2013, just because I was without a car, dropped off at my office, didn't know the neighborhood well, and I was solo in the dark at 6:30 a.m., but I hated most minutes of those 7 miles. 

11. What is your favorite time of the day to run?

I'm not sure it's really my favorite, but all my training runs start at 6:00 a.m. or earlier, so I'm used to early morning running.  It's kind of a necessity if you live in Dallas and want to keep running in the summer, when it's oppressively hot sometimes in the afternoon and evening.  I did evening runs for about a year when I was just starting out, but too many of those runs got canceled for other commitments (work, no one to go with, just ate/too hungry, sleep, social priorities, etc.).  I learned that I was most likely to follow through with the run if I did it early in the morning, then I hooked up with my running buddies, and now I rarely run at any other time of the day, though I do a social run in the evening about once a month. 
12. What races have you ran?

I've run the following races: 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, 1500 meters, 1 mile, 2 miles, 5k, 4 miles, 8k, 5 miles, 10k, 8 miles, 15k, 10 miles, half marathon, 20 miles, and the marathon.  I've also competed in the long jump (and I sucked).  So I've pretty much covered all the major distances!  In order of frequency, the order is 5k (30x!!!), half-marathon (over 20x), marathon (16x), 15k (16x), 5 miles (11x), 8 miles (10x). 

13. What music do you listen to when running?

None -- the music I hear is conversation with friends.  I used to occasionally wear an ipod on the running-biking trail by my house, but a runner was killed there in 2010 following a collision with a bicycle, and I've never used the tunes since.  Her death taught me and many others a valuable lesson about awareness, which is reduced with headphones.  Full post about that tragic event here

14. What is the hottest or coldest weather you have ever ran in?

The hottest race would be the Chicago Marathon 2007, which was in the mid-90s and resulted in a fatality and the marathon being canceled before most participants had finished.  The coldest was a 15k race several years ago with my local bestie -- it had been sleeting and snowing the night before, and I remember that we discussed whether or not our eyelashes were freezing during the race. 

15. What are some other exercises you love?

I do a fitness boot camp with my husband three days per week that we both enjoy.  I also love Bikram yoga (the 90 minute, 105-degree kind!), but that's not really exercise, it's more stretching.  Beyond that, nothing else that I really love.  I'll lift weights and occasionally try other things, but running really is my staple exercise. 

16. Are you currently training for something?

Kind of.  I'm spending this season working on speed and then in late May, I will begin marathon training again, aiming for a PR on Sept. 29 in Berlin.  I have a few rough goals for the spring in terms of 5k time, but I'm not entirely confident the goals are attainable.  We'll see! 

17. What are your current or future goals?

I would like to run a specific time in Berlin (the time would be a PR by 11 minutes and change).  If I accomplish that time in Berlin or elsewhere, I do not plan to set any other marathon time goals.  I have a 5k goal as well, and I'll work on it this spring, but if I don't get that, I'll likely keep working over the coming years and see if I can do it. 

18. Advice for new runners
Commit to a race, then find a training group and run with them faithfully.  A group that runs together about 3-4 times per week is going to get you in shape to run the race and is likely going to result in a whole new circle of friendships.  I can't emphasize enough how wonderful a group is.  Many runners successfully train on their own for a race, but then sometimes don't stick with it.  An ongoing group training setting can help keep you going.   

19. Why did you start making running videos?
Not applicable.

20. Who will you tag?
Not applicable.

There you have it! 


  1. #2 - LOL at your friend stopped to make people.
    #4 - There's a little seed in the way back of my mind that whispers Boston. I love that your road to BQ involved growth, progress and hard work. The fact that you didn't start out running a sub-4 hour marathon gives me hope that maybe it's not such a far fetched idea for a late blooming runner like myself.
    #7 - I have only run with a friend once and it was horrible. She talked and talked and talked. However, lately I've been thinking about joining a running club in the area. I love running alone. It's always been my "me" time, but it might be beneficial to have the support of a group. There is always more to learn.
    #8 - Scenic runs are the best. I try to select races in new places with beautiful or interesting scenery. All of your favorite places sound beautiful.

    Great post. I really enjoy reading about other running journeys. Every runner has a story to tell.

    1. As to #7, running with friends may not be for everyone. I laughed when you said she talked and talked and talked. That would have been perfect for me on days when I'm feeling quiet and just like to listen (or I'm out of breath and feel like listening is my only option!). The thing I like about running with friends (besides the social bonds, which I value greatly) is the accountability -- it prevents me from flaking out on training runs, and that's good for me. Left to my own devices, I could easily skip too many runs. You're lucky to have the discipline to train solo.