A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Friday Five: New Orleans

Lacey, Meranda and Rachel have rebooted the Friday Five link up, which seems like the perfect place to share a few random updates from my trip to New Orleans. Thanks for hosting ladies! Please be sure to check out the rest of the link up through their sites at Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness.

Friday Five 2.0

1. It’s humid! We got an email warning us about the heat for the race this weekend. I’m a little worried about “higher temperatures than expected” by New Orleans standards! I expect tomorrow’s 13 miles will be slow. That’s okay – it’ll be a lovely tour of the city. 🙂

AM runLovely view of the river on a morning run!

2. Getting miles in, but not running as much as I planned: I’ve gotten 18,000+ steps a day since I’ve gotten here just from walking back and forth between my hotel and the convention center and through the giant convention center. Between early meetings and late evenings, while I ran some miles both Wednesday and Thursday, I didn’t hit my targets of 7 and 4 miles. However, I’m definitely making up those miles in long walks through the city. My legs are sore!

3. Drinking too much coffee and not enough water: Not to mention some other things I’ve been drinking . . .
Need more water!I’m making an effort to drink more water today to be better ready for tomorrow’s hot and muggy half marathon.

4. I’m having lots of quality time with great friends, which is definitely good for my soul. There’s a dear friend and mentor here at this meeting as well who I haven’t seen in years. She’s shaped so much of my professional life and my family life, so I’m LOVING the extra time with her and other old friends.

5. I’m also having lots of good food. I’m trying to make an effort to make healthy choices when I can, but also taking advantage of some of the fantastic foods here. That means healthy breakfasts, healthy lunches and saying no to the temptation to get a muffin with my coffee at Starbucks. I keep my indulgences to wine for networking (introverts need some lubricant, but I’m sticking to wine not mixed drinks) and fabulous dinners!

I have a couple of colleagues who have never been to the city before and we have a few hours tomorrow afternoon to be tourists. We’ve done some dinners in the quarter and they’ve done some wandering and people watching there. Other than seeing the French Quarter, what would be the one thing you’d do in New Orleans if you had a few hours on Saturday afternoon? Sunday morning, I’ll take them to Cafe Du Monde, so I’ve got that covered. What’s your one thing here?



Can you get that first time feeling back again?

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is race do-overs. Thanks as always to Patty, Marcia and Erika for hosting!

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I spent a lot of time thinking about this as I was flying today (safely arrived in New Orleans!). I’m not a big believer in regrets, so I don’t really dwell on “bad” races. They’re all things I can learn from and I try to look at them as such. However, if I had to redo one race in my life, it would be the Princess Half Marathon.

My arms are up in almost all of the photos for some reason :)

My arms are up in almost all of the photos for some reason 🙂

I re-read my race recap and had to laugh, because I don’t remember those tough first couple of miles at all. I’d even forgotten that I ran that thing with a broken toe! What do I remember? I remember my face hurting from smiling so much. I remember being happy to be in my happy place, with a ton of other people having a great time and accomplishing something I’d never imagined. I remember being tired at the end and seeing the beginning of the finishing chute and realizing I was DOING this.

There’s something magical about the first time. There are jitters, of course. The jitters are actually the only thing I remember about my first 5K. My first half marathon, though, for that I remember the joy.

I have a friend running her first half marathon in a couple of weeks and she’s deep in the jitters phase right now. I really hope she gets to the joy part. For my first marathon in January, I’m going to reach for the joy. We don’t get many firsts in life (especially at 38 years old!) so I want to soak up every moment!

If you could re-live a race, which one would it be?


Weekly Wrap Up: Recovered & Ready to GO!

This week’s wrap up is going to be less about running (because there wasn’t any, on my part at least) and more about plans for the rest of marathon training, now that my double half marathons are behind me. Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our weekly wrap-up link up!

weekly wrap up

I was really pleasantly surprised by how good my legs felt after last weekend’s back to back half marathons. I had occasional trouble with a little plantar fasciitis but otherwise felt good and by the end of the week, I was itching to run again. I stuck to the plan and did lots of walking and yoga, but gave myself a full week off from running. Now I’m ready to pick back up with training for the marathon, riding the high of the success of last weekend’s races. I’m also feeling really good about my training miles up to this point, as they not only got me through last weekend’s two races, but they also prepped me enough that I wasn’t miserable after those 26 miles. I think I’m in good shape to pick it up from here. It’s a little mind blowing to think that I’m about to enter the uncharted territory of long runs over 13 miles!

This week, I’m traveling to New Orleans and I’m determined to keep my focus on my training rather than getting too distracted about the fun stuff in the city. I’ve made big strides in improving my diet over the last few weeks and if I’m going to be running 30 mile weeks, I need to keep that up. Shrimp po boys and beignets, as much as I love them, won’t really do that. I’m going to be running four times this week: 3 miles Tuesday, 7 miles Wednesday and 4 miles Thursday for weekday runs. I was scheduled for 10 miles Saturday, but am going to stretch that out a bit and run the Jazz Half Marathon just so I can avoid trying to find somewhere open and safe to run long in the city. I’ve got my strength workouts and yoga on the calendar for week as well.

While I didn’t do any running this week, Oliver did get another race in – complete with medal!
Race hero He did a costumed kid dash and for the first time, ran all alone. He instructed me that my job was to cheer for him (with his name – he was specific about that) and take a picture of him with cape flying out behind him. Done and done 🙂

This week, I’m so grateful to have gotten an entire day with O. Sunday, he and I went to breakfast at our favorite place before heading out for his race.
Breakfast date Playing hang man, which I have to draw out a bit because I know pretty exactly how many words he knows how to spell, so it’s easy to guess which word he’s going for. 🙂

We also went to the Children’s Museum, made cookies and decorated a Halloween gingerbread house. Over and over through the day, he would stop and look at me and say “I’m having a great day Mama” which made my heart happy. We’d decided to spend all day together, just the two of us, since I was going to be gone so long this week.

My good deed this week was dropping $20 out of my pocket at some point along the way Tuesday. That made someone’s day I’m sure. My NSV was getting back to normal eating on Monday as soon as I got up, rather than lingering in that “I ran twenty six miles this weekend – I can eat anything” mentality. I’m taking that as a good sign that I can behave in New Orleans (relatively anyway).

If you were going to allow for just one indulgence in New Orleans, what would it be? I’m thinking it has to be Cafe DuMonde for me. It’s such the quintessential New Orleans experience for me, yet has zero redeeming value so there’s no way to justify it other than making it an allowed treat.



Des Moines Half Marathon 2016

I ran the Des Moines Half Marathon for the third time this weekend, this time with the added twist of the I-35 challenge thrown in the mix. After finishing the Kansas City Half Marathon on Saturday, I cleaned up and we grabbed lunch before heading out for the 3 hour drive to Des Moines. It’s not the most exciting drive – I took a nap, drank lots and tried to stretch out my legs. After doing packet pick up in Des Moines (quick and easy!), we checked into our hotel and settled in for a evening of rest, rolling and some yoga stretches.
Lovely color

I like this year’s shirt color – my favorite so far! Very fall appropriate.

One of the nice things about the Des Moines race is that it starts at 8 am, so you don’t have to wake up super early. I had time to go down to the lobby and grab breakfast. One of the invited Kenyan runners rode down with me and I told Darrell I was a little tempted to follow her and pick all of the same foods for breakfast. 🙂 I have a feeling there’s a little more than breakfast choice that influences her race success compared with mine.

I confess, I assumed that I didn’t need to look at the course maps or anything because it had been the same course for the previous two years. It wasn’t until I headed out of the hotel and realized that everyone was walking in a different direction than I was that I realized maybe something had changed. It turns out, lots of things had changed. The start and finish weren’t on the bridge like it has been in years past, thanks to some construction. Another difference this year was the assignment of runners to corrals based on the projected finish time. It didn’t look like they were rigidly enforcing the corrals, but I didn’t challenge it. I actually lined up in the back in the “un-corralled” group because I was planning on taking my time. They got all of the corrals off in quick succession and I do feel like there was less jockeying for position since I was more closely grouped with people of the same pace.

The start was a little confusing, in that we first moved across the 5K starting line and everyone turned on their Garmins to start racing. We turned a corner – and there was another starting line? Again, read the race day packet. A map of the starting line was probably there and fewer of us would have been confused. Turns out, there was a 5K start line and a half marathon/marathon start line.

Similar to the last two years, we spent the first two miles in town (although a different path through town) before the half marathon split off from the marathoners. As always, that split was well signaled with lots of volunteers pointing you in the right direction.

In years past, we spent several miles running through parks before heading back downtown for the last couple of miles. This year, we only did a loop of Gray Lake before heading back to town, which meant lots of town time. I do enjoy the park and lake time because they’re flat and gorgeous in October.


DSM lake

DSM park timeI also find the asphalt a little easier on my feet as opposed to the concrete of city streets. The only glitch in the race for me, which was overall extremely well supported like always, was the fact that we didn’t get any kind of aid station until well after mile 2. It was insanely humid all morning, so I was grateful for having my own water bottle. Not only did we go quite a while before getting an aid station, but that poor aid station was having a really bad day. It was a huge mess. They only had water – no Gatorade refilled – and not much water at that. Fortunately, that was the only glitch with aid stations and support. After that, it felt like there was an aid station every mile and a half or so. All of them had lots of enthusiastic volunteers, plenty of fluids and fuel at several stations (gels at two stops, bananas/oranges/candy at others).

After we left the park, we had a trek through some boring city scenes (sorry Des Moines!) as well as some nice, friendly neighborhoods, with trees and spectators out in their yards.

Neighborhood stretch

It was also in this stretch that I came across a bacon aid station. Yep, they were handing out bacon at mile 9. I passed.

Bacon aid station

Not only did the course change take out some lovely park time, but it added a heinous and huge hill at the Capitol building.

Judicial building


The capitol and judicial buildings were lovely, but I’m not sure it was worth that massive hill at mile 10. There were also a couple of out and back loops in the last four miles, which is never a fun to pick up miles. All in all, I was exhausted and it was the least fun part of the race. Yuck.

As I was coming through mile 12, I was weirdly emotional about this whole thing. I was almost done with my second half marathon in two days. It’s been less than 3 years since my first half marathon and about 4 years since I decided to start losing weight and taking control of my health. It amazing to me how much my life has changed and it was because I decided to do it. There’s more to it than the decision of course – I’m blessed with a supportive family and the financial resources for healthy food – but it started with me. It started with the decision.

Thankfully, as I was about to break into tears, Darrell texted met to tell me he was at mile 13 with Oliver and Oliver wanted to run in with me. For so many reasons, that 0.1 miles was the best of my life. Oliver is such a huge motivation to keep running, to keep making healthy choices and so finishing that huge challenge hand in hand with him was beyond words. Still get goose bumpy thinking of it. 🙂 I was honestly a little worried I’d be disappointed to run this course slower, because I PR’d here last year, but it was an accomplishment just to finish this! My time never really crossed my mind.

After the end of the race, we grabbed medals and pics and a piece of pizza. I love that Oliver told me that his heart was beating fast. No kidding, kiddo.

I hope the course goes back to its prior route after the construction downtown, but regardless, I love the support of this course. The spectators and volunteers are fantastic and always enthusiastic. I’ll definitely be back to run this race again!

Do you have a race you come back to over and over?




Kansas City Half Marathon 2016

Since I just checked off a big running goal for the year by completing the I-35 challenge, I thought I’d talk today about the first race of the challenge (Kansas City half marathon) for this week’s Tuesdays on the Run. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting. Be sure to check out the link up for everyone else’s progress on their running goals!

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On Saturday, I ran the Kansas City half marathon. Packet pick up was at the Sheraton downtown, which is also where I was staying since it was within walking distance of the start and finish. Very convenient to do everything in one place! At pick up, I got my hoodie for the KC half marathon (cute design, weird polyester fabric that feels more like casual wear than tech wear), my bib and a backpack for the I-35 challenge. There was some confusion as to what we were getting for I-35 challenge, as some volunteers and the Des Moines website mentioned a tee shirt, but it was just the backpack. It’s a nice enough little bag, although it seems too flimsy to be of much use. (The I-35 challenge did email out a letter apologizing for the confusion re: the bag vs shirt.)
KC Swag

I was able to walk out from my hotel to the starting area, which was a little park space full of tents and music and loads of people. They had projected pace signs so you knew where to line up and everything went really smoothly with the start. There were even a couple of little fireworks at the beginning!

I knew the Kansas City course was reputed to be hilly and boy was it ever! I felt like I was going either uphill or downhill for at least 75% of the race, with very little flat ground.
KC: Hills!

However, I felt like this course did a great job touring us through Kansas City so that we really got a feel for the town. We went through some lovely parks and some funky downtown neighborhoods.
KC: WWI memorial

KC: Parks and fountains

I loved running past the art museum. The outdoor sculpture garden looked amazing and it is definitely on my must-see list next time we’re in town!
KC: Nelson Museum of Art

We ran through the Country Club Plaza area, which is a swanky little shopping district, and I envied everyone on the sidewalk cafes with their coffees.

Thankfully, the weather wasn’t too bad. For the first hour, the humidity was pretty miserable but after that, a breeze started and the heat wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.

KC: Great views of the city

I kept my pace slow (14 minute miles were my target) and walked the hills. I reminded myself over and over “doing this again tomorrow!” so I didn’t get frustrated with my pace and overdo it. Because this course is for both the half marathon and the marathon, it’s very back of the pack friendly for people who are running or walking slower half marathons. There were plenty of aid stations and they were well stocked every time I came by.
KC: Good thing to see in the last mile!

I particularly appreciated passing this church in the last mile of the race. That message seemed appropriate – I was ready to be DONE.

Darrell and Oliver were waiting at the finish, which is always nice and there was no clogging of runners in the finishing chute. Everyone quickly moved through, got their water and their banana and passed into the finishing “festival.” There were tons of people and booths in the finishing area and even some things for kids to play with, like those blow up hamster balls. There were also apparently sandwiches and beer for the runners, but I could never see where those were among all of the people. I really wish that had been better labeled or that those were near the exit chute so it was easier to find. I missed out on both a free sandwich and a free beer. Boo.

KC done!

The hills would make this course a a challenge all on its own, without the I-35 challenge component added, but I really loved how they gave you a bit of a tour of the city. I can’t promise I won’t be tackling this race again, but I’ll be training specifically for those killer hills.

Have you ever done a running tour of a city? I’ve heard of them, but never tried it. This race definitely felt like one of those!





Weekly Wrap-Up: Challenge Conquered!

I survived the I-35 challenge! Two half marathons, two days – something I’d never have imagined doing a few years ago. Hard to believe that three years ago, I was nervously in the midst of training for my first half marathon and this weekend, I was nuts enough to run two back to back. I won’t lie – I was a little emotional about the whole thing by the end of day two, realizing what my body can do when my brain gets out of the way.

I feel like a (sore) rockstar for having finished both of these and this weekend did huge things for my mental strength and my confidence as I’m looking at a marathon.

I’ll have lots of details about each race separately later this week, but for the challenge as a whole, a few thoughts:

  • There weren’t any specific procedures you needed for the I-35 challenge. The bibs had a little I-35 Challenge logo on them. You didn’t have to check in or anything after the first race. When I finished the second, I just had to look for the guy with the I-35 challenge medals at the finish line and grab my medal. I asked a volunteer – it’s totally honor system based as to if you ran or finished the first race in Kansas City, although as she said “We can usually tell you guys when you come through. You look . . . rough.” She was very apologetic about that last bit. 🙂
  • My mantra for the first race was “Doing this again tomorrow” to help remember to run that one smart. The second? “One more step, one more mile, keep moving” to run it strong. That second race was all about my brain.
  • The second race really didn’t feel too much worse than the first, which surprised me. My feet and hip hurt earlier, but otherwise I was okay. My pace for Des Moines was about a minute off Kansas City per mile, which is just what I expected.
  • I focused on fueling, rehydrating and stretching between the races. I brought my Stick with me and did some yoga stretches Saturday night and Sunday morning. I think these things were huge helps in keeping me moving on Sunday.
  • This was great mental practice for a marathon (I think – I hope) because that second race was all about my brain. It was a constant stream of self-talk to keep myself going. I can only imagine that is going to be the same when I’m on the back half of my marathon, just like it was when I was running my second half marathon in one weekend. 🙂

Really, in light of the massive miles of the weekend, the rest of the week seems pretty insignificant in terms of workouts but that’s the way a race week should be I suppose. I did a quick little run and some nice walks during the week on the way up to the race.

This week will be all about resting and recovering. Next week, I start focusing on marathon training. I’ll be picking up from the “half marathon” weekend in the Hal Higdon Novice 1 plan (week 8), which means I’ll be running four times (3/7/4/10 miles) during the week. Darrell and I talked a lot about what I need to do for marathon training from here on out, including being more diligent with strength training and weekday runs, as well as some yoga/foam rolling. While this weekend’s races did a lot to reinforce my sense of mental strength, they also reminded me that 26.2 miles is a lot of beating on my legs. I need to get them ready for it.

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link up! Be sure to go check out Holly’s race report from her Chicago marathon PR. Congrats Holly!

weekly wrap up







I-35 Challenge Goals

This weekend, I’m going to run two half marathons as part of the I-35 challenge. I confess, now that it is here I’m struggling a bit to wrap my mind around the enormity of what I’ll be doing. This is the most I’ve ever attempted running in one weekend. I keep reminding myself that I’m trained for this and that I can handle it, if I’m smart.

My goals for the weekend are simple: finish both races upright and with a smile, even if it is a fake one. 🙂

In Kansas City, I’m going to have a couple of challenges.

Weather: We got a warning yesterday that conditions are going to be “unseasonably warm.” It’ll be around 60 at the start, but rise to 80 throughout the day. Hopefully, I’ll be finished before it gets too hot but I’m working on hydrating well now, brought clothes that will be good for warmer weather and brought my handheld water bottle so I have extra water on the course.
Race day approaches

Hills: Kansas City’s course is reportedly very hilly, which makes it pretty but also makes it a course that can be tough on the legs. Since I have to run again in Des Moines (which is flat, thankfully), I’ll be walking the hills for the most part.

Keeping it slow: Because of the weather, the hills and the fact that I’ll be turning around to run again on Sunday, I can’t let the excitement of a new race and new course get to me. I’ve got to keep it slow and steady. I’ll walk the hills and otherwise stick to a slower run:walk ratio of 1:1. If it gets hot, I’ll definitely back off of that plan. Walk fast, run slow!

Between races, I’ll refuel, rehydrate and wear my compression socks for the ride between Kansas City and Des Moines. Three hours in the car will help me to stay off of my feet at least.

In Des Moines, I have some advantages that make me glad it is the second course.

– It’s essentially flat, with the exception of a couple of small inclines that I’m sure I’ll curse mightily when I reach them.

– It’s a course I’m very familiar with, having run it twice before, so I know exactly what to expect. This is also a disadvantage, in that I’ve had my two best half marathons on this course. I’ve got to be careful not to push or I’ll never finish. I have to respect the rocks that my legs are likely going to be.

Keep it slow: I’ll try 1:1 ratios here too, since it is flat, but if that’s too much, I’ll just run/walk it by feel.

I have no time goal at all other than finishing these races. I expect these to be my two slowest half marathons by far and that’s totally okay. The goal here is crossing two finish lines and being able to walk away from it all.

Wish me luck! Any advice from those with experience in back to back races?


Tuesdays on the Run: Tapering Quirks

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is tapering: what are your particular tapering quirks or cravings. Thanks as always to Patty, Marcia and Erika for hosting our link up!

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I don’t know that I have any particular tapering quirks anymore (other than OVER tapering and avoiding running all together during “taper” time) but that’s definitely been a work in progress. My big taper anxieties have always been wondering if I was undertrained or ready for the race and dealing with lots of phantoms aches and pains that show up during taper time. During my first taper (and in every one thereafter) I had this weird new knee pain that had me panicking about injury, but it ended up being nothing by the time race day came around. Now I’m used to that and when my knee started hurting walking into work today, I greeted it as a familiar taper quirk and didn’t worry any more about it.

Now, I deal with taper time worries by reminding myself of a few things:

  • I’ve worked hard and put in lots of miles. I look back at my weekly wrap ups and notes in my training log (when I remember to make them!) to remind myself of all of the miles I’ve put in. As I get closer and closer to race day this week, I keep reminding myself about those back to back 11 mile workouts a couple of weeks ago. If I could do those, I can definitely do back to back half marathons if I’m smart about it.
  • The cake is already in the oven. I’ve done the training. Extra long or hard workouts at this point won’t add anything to my fitness but will increase my risk of injury. Be smart and don’t push it.
  • Ignore the phantom aches and pains. If it gets better when you stop thinking about it, it might just be your mind playing with you. Of course, if there’s pain that is getting worse or hindering your ability to walk/run, get that checked out but for me, these pains usually goes away when I stop worrying about it. Reminding myself that I’ve been through this before is a key survival strategy.
  • Do you things you CAN do to support your race. It feels like you’re doing a whole lot of nothing during taper time. Focusing on the things you can actually be working on helps tremendously. Hydrate, rest, stretch/foam roll and eat healthy foods to fuel your race.
I filled my 32 oz water bottle as soon as I got to work and promise to refill it at least twice more today!

I filled my 32 oz water bottle as soon as I got to work and promise to refill it at least twice more today!

I expect that my marathon taper will bring a whole new level of crazy and anxiety. I’ll have to come back and re-read this to remind myself of what I should do!

How do you handle taper time?






Weekly Wrap-Up: A little bit too much of a relaxed taper week

I have a bad habit of over tapering. I tend to go from the peak of training to barely getting any runs at all before race day. In my defense, this week it was more of a lupus issue than anything else. Two runs (Tuesday and Sunday) got scrapped because I was nauseous and dizzy. Bummer. I need to be careful about avoiding my triggers as much as possible going forward so I can do my marathon training and contribute to society and to my family (MOST important).

Speaking of my family, check out this handsome little face:
Amazing boyOur photographer has a totally understandable fascination with those eyelashes. 🙂

While I did miss out on my runs Tuesday and Sunday, I did get in the scheduled four miles Thursday and 6 miles Saturday and felt great doing them. I walked at least a few miles on Tuesday and Sunday once the nausea and dizziness passed, but didn’t try to push it and run because I didn’t want to risk stumbling and injuring myself this close to the race weekend.

That’s right – this time next week I’ll have (theoretically!) survived back to back half marathons in a single weekend! Any time someone asks what our plans are this weekend I feel more than a little sheepish and nuts when I answer. Why did I decide this was a good idea, exactly?

My NSV this week is not letting my fatigue and my anxiety over the missed runs (as well as everything else that happened in the news this weekend?!) tip me into binge territory on Sunday, which was definitely a temptation. I even threw away half of a cookie Saturday night at the haunted safari because I thought it wasn’t good enough to finish! I settled for a single roasted marshmallow instead.
HalloweenI highly recommend the haunted safari if you’re in Omaha around Halloween. Great decorations in the woods plus a little hike to meet some wolves and some black bears (Licorice and Cinnabuns – adorable!).

This week I’ve got to give a huge shout out of thanks to Tiina for sending these lovely running skirts and tops my way as she was downsizing her collection:
Big thanks!

I love the colors!

My good deed this week was volunteering to be a study patient for lupus at the medical center. They took at least 6 vials of blood! Very Halloween appropriate, visiting those vampires. 🙂 It’s cool knowing my cells will be used to study what neutrophils do in lupus and to test some drugs. It was awkward at one point because I know the person running the study professionally. She was appropriately sad to know that I had lupus. I thought she’d leave after I signed the consents. Nope. After having me sign the papers, she walked over to watch while they drew blood and then hung there near me while they finished up and handed me the cup to pee in. Yep, she hung out in the hall for that too. Awkward. I just kept thinking “I’m going to have to make professional small talk with you next week at a conference and you’re out in the hall waiting for me to pee in a cup.” To make matters even worse, I couldn’t go. Not a bit. Ugh. I had to come out and explain to the nurse that I’d have to come back for that part later. Awkward enough to explain normally without someone I knew just enough professionally that we would encounter each other again soon as peers, but not well enough that we could laugh about my failure to perform with the pee cup. Like I said, Awkward, but still a good deed and I’m happy to contribute to science.

 My plan this week is to hydrate, be proactive about foam rolling and stretching every day and to run on Monday (done!) and Wednesday before resting Thursday and Friday. Naturally, this week will also include compulsively checking the weather for the weekend in Kansas City and Des Moines. Fingers crossed that it looks promising!

Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our link up and congrats to Holly for a huge new marathon PR in Chicago this weekend!

weekly wrap up

Anyone else race this weekend? Hope it was great!




Tips for volunteering at a race

Over the weekend, I volunteered for a race for the first time and it was an exhausting, but definitely rewarding experience. I thought I’d share a bit about my experience to help encourage (and prepare!) any one else considering volunteering. This article from Runner’s World has more tips as well.

1.If the race director advises you to drive out to the site the day before so you know where to go, believe them! My first assignment was with the 10K and the race director sent us a map, with the warning that it was in a remote location. He wasn’t kidding! I got lost trying to get there and when I arrived, was worried I was in the wrong spot because it was so remote and dark! I was relieved when I finally came across the aid station on the path.

My first water stop

2. If you sign up, SHOW UP! We had a team of five people assigned to staff two stations about a tenth of a mile apart from each other. As I heard the national anthem, I was the only one at my station. I frantically set up one station and as soon as another person arrived, ran to get the other one ready as the first runners came through. Frustrating to say the least! Ultimately, only 3 of us were there so we split with one person at one stop and two at the other. It’s handy to have two when you have both Gatorade and water. I had one hand with water and one with Gatorade, which meant I had to remember to give the right one and runners had to actually tell me which one they wanted. Much easier when you have two people!

3. Dress comfortably and bring sunscreen (and bug spray!). I got eaten alive by mosquitoes, but at least I was dressed comfortably and had my sunscreen. This is a super active experience and I was grateful for my running shoes!

4. Bring snacks and water. It was a long day and I felt bad drinking anything set out for the runners, so I brought my own. They did bring us snacks to the marathon station eventually, but I was grateful to have my own when I’d been on my feet for hours.

5. Look for instructions: This can be either in your email (so remember your phone!) or on the table. I found it really helpful, especially since I was the first one there, to have a list to know what I was supposed to do to set up and dismantle the station.
Thank goodness for instructions

6. Think of encouraging cheers: I found myself saying the same things over and over. Be careful about saying “You’re almost done!” depending on where you are on the course. For the 10K, I was at mile 4, so I was honest and said “Two miles to go!” rather than “Almost done.” For the marathon, we were at mile 25 so we did lots of encouraging that they were almost done and only the bridge left to tackle.
Sadistic bridgeFor me, it was particularly important to cheer for those towards the back of the pack. I reminded every one of them that they’d covered more miles than any of us that morning and were rock stars!

7. You might want to think about your chalk work ahead of time:
Sidewalk cheersMine was pretty lame because I didn’t think about it until I could see runners in the distance. My attempted star/firework/(I have no idea what that was supposed to be) was particularly lame. At least I was an enthusiastic cheerleader (and the cutest volunteer according to one lovely runner).

8. Hold the cup flat in your hand so the runner can grab it and call out what you have. It took me a bit to get the hang of this. I made a huge mess trying to give a drink to the winner of the 10K.

It was a long day (and I’m still hoarse!) but really rewarding to be part of the experience to support so many runners. There were first time marathoners and people gunning for PRs and lots of people just out for a good time. I’ll definitely look for more volunteer opportunities (and be better prepared with signs and chalk phrases and cheering paraphenalia!).

Have you ever volunteered for a race? Would you recommend the experience?