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Race Tomorrow, Running Mind Tonight

The big variables are already set in stone: how will I fuel up in the days leading up to race day? How much muscle-building, body-rejuvenating sleep will I allow myself? How serious did I take my training?

Those factors get checked off before my toes get anywhere near the starting line. All these little things I’m worrying about now will only rob me of rest, so I’m just going to write ’em out.

How hard will I be able to push myself tomorrow? I’ve just finished reading the most inspiring running book probably ever written, Born to Run by Chris McDougall. If the finale 50-mile race pitting the Tarahumara against the world’s best ultra runners, run in the Copper Canyon in 100° desert weather, doesn’t inspire me to give a measly 10k in beautiful Missouri fall weather my best, I don’t know what will.

How should I fuel? If I eat one Gu Chomp per mile in the St. Louis Half Mary, that’s more than two packets I’ll have to carry. Maybe I should try one every 1.5 miles? But is a perfect pre-race race day the best time to try out a new fueling strategy? Probably not, but then again, maybe so?

Should I go for the shirt-jacket combo, or just the long-sleeved shirt by itself? Hat or visor? The hat will keep my head warmer than the visor, but if I go shirt-jacket, maybe the visor will be okay?

Should I try for a negative split or a steady pace? There’s a small incline–enough to be a thorn in my side–just before the finish line. Do I meet it with speed or take it steady?

And then, the big question. Rob thinks I could do a sub-hour 10k tomorrow if I push myself. I’d emreally/em love to do that, but is it smart to push now, so close to the big race? My real goal is 11-minute miles, and I definitely think that’s possible, because training has gone really well…

And now I really have to go to sleep. Thanks for listening. And, Sarah? Sorry I told you to close emThe Help/em do you could get some sleep and then stayed up myself… Can I repay you in Gu? /p

Why You Should Have a Running Partner AND Why You Should Run Alone

A lot of people, usually non-runners, are so amazed that I can run! I sometimes try to convince them that they can too–I have two secrets that I bestow on those awestrucks–but they hardly ever believe me. It’s like they think runners are a special breed of human. But really! You need an incremental training plan and a running partner. Shoes optional.

I’m not going to go into the simple training strategy that got me from barely being able to run for two minutes to running 26.2 miles straight. I want to talk about the little bit of magic that is the running partner. I’ve mentioned it before, but as I was running on my own while my running partner was sick a few weeks ago, I had a revelation.

Some days I really need Sarah, but some days, I really need to run on my own.

I’d say more often, it’s the former, but the latter affords the opportunity to see where you’re truly at. My Number 1 Main Hurdle to running or working out regularly is ME. I am really great at talking myself out of a run. I mean it. I’m a pro. But knowing that Sarah is waiting for me at the park, that she got up this morning to run. With me. It really holds me accountable. Maybe not everyone needs that, but if you are having trouble sticking to your routine, then maybe you need someone to count on you too.

Once you’ve established your routine and you won’t skip out on run just because your running partner won’t be there, go for a run on your own.

When you’re on your own, you get to put yourself to the test. Your mental strength is an important part of running. When you run alone, you get to see how strong you are becoming. Sometimes, I hear Sarah pushing me on. Sometimes, I push myself. But either way, I find out what works when I want to quit. I can’t run every race or every run even with Sarah, so it’s important to know that I can do it.

So go ahead, get started. Find someone who shares your goals or at least your pace. Set up an incremental training plan. Run with your partner for a while, then run alone a couple times a month to see how strong you’ve become.

Running: When It Just Clicks

At some point in every runner’s career, it will just click. I don’t mean that you’ll “get” running or suddenly like it when it was only part of your exercise regimen before.

At some point, the world around you just shifts, and running is different. That happened to me this morning. Sometimes, it’s called “being in the groove.” The pace I was running at was perfect. My breathing synced with my pace. My gait smoothed out and it didn’t feel like my feet were pounding the ground anymore. My eyes focused a hundred yards ahead and that’s when I noticed the shift. It felt great.

The last time that happened was in Germany, folks. Today, it lasted about half a mile and slowly faded out.

For the rest of the run, I pondered: how can I make that happen during every run?

A Running Equation

running on a treadmill <<< running outside alone < running with your awesome running partner

I count my blessings every day that grad school brought me together with my best friend and running partner, Sarah. When you find a good one, it’s magic.

It’s Like Wanting to Stop During a Run

I was sick last week, had some sort of sore throat bug. That means I drank a lot of hot tea—I believe (not really, but sorta) that drinking hot tea will kill all the bacteria in my throat. It’s a mature belief, folks. When I was in college, I believed that vodka would take care of any upper respiratory problems. Anyway, that also means that I allowed myself two half days for recovery. And believe me, we were a miserable crowd! Rob was sick too and had Thursday off, so we laid around, miserable together, moaning, tossing the Kleenex box back and forth, and terrorizing the cats by throwing Kleenex at them. I even took a nap.

Add to that my new policy of not working on the weekends. I used to spend too much time working on school, but I’ve started setting boundaries for myself so that I can stay sane and sociable. That means working during pre-determined hours only, and never all weekend. I usually check in on things Sunday afternoon or evening, but I don’t after Friday at 5.

So now it’s Monday and I’m supposed to be working, but that enforced laziness of the sick days plus the vacuum of student emails and issues from the weekend make really not feel like working. All I want to do is play Angry Birds.

But it’s like wanting to stop in the middle of a run.

I feel tired, my legs/ankles/shoulders/feet hurt, I can’t breathe. Whatever the excuse, I want to quit. Sometimes I say so to Sarah and she’ll keep me going, but I try to make myself go on.

“One more step, one more step. Keep going until that tree. Okay, that wasn’t too bad. You can make it until the clearing.”

So today, it has been, “Come on, Linden, grade just three blogs, you can do it. Okay, that wasn’t so bad, do three more. Way to go, keep pushing. :)”

This is why I have that tattoo on my wrist, to remind me that I can do whatever I have to do. Step by tiny step is how it gets done, whether it’s 26.2 miles or grading 50 essays, blogs, and discussion board posts.

How do YOU keep working (or start working) when you don’t feel like it?

Keeping the Gators Fed: Why I Crave Horror Movies (and Running)

Last week, my Composition I students had to write a blog post responding to Stephen King’s short piece called “Why We Crave Horror Movies.” The prompt asked them to persuade their audience that their method of “keeping the insanity at bay” is acceptable. Here’s my own response.

King hit it right on the nose: We are all crazy. How we deal with it, though, is individual. I love horror movies—so King pegged me exactly—and I love running.

Watching horror movies fills me with terror, fear. And I love it. I live a very privileged life. My belly is always full, I sleep in a warm bed in a nice house next to a loving husband. I have never been abused or neglected. My close friends are hilarious. The only emotion that I don’t experience regularly is fear, so I get that from horror movies. I give myself over to them, allow myself to believe the most ridiculous plot lines, in order to feel scared. They make me bite my fingernails, wring my hands, huddle under the throw blanket. And I love every minute of it.

Running, on the other hand, is how I deal with all other sources of mental illness. Stress. Depression. Temptation. Anxiety. Insomnia. Running (or getting your heart rate up in whatever way possible) floods your body with happy chemicals. That is one major reason that it helps keep the insanity at bay. But it also puts you face-to-face with life. There’s no faking it in running. You are either pushing yourself or you are working out at a lower intensity. Or you’re walking. It’s you and the trail. There are no illusions about the task at hand; you can see the miles ahead of you, can feel the miles you’ve already put behind you. When there’s no where to hide and nothing to hide behind, you gain a new clarity on life. That, and exhausting myself on a regular basis, helps me pass out when my head hits the pillow. (And getting enough sleep helps us all keep our insanity under control!)

We all have our own tried-and-true methods of safely indulging the insanity. Stephen King and Hal Higdon help me stay out of the straight jacket—who does it for you?

Guest Post: Where to Run in Springfield on Ozarks Bazaar

Head on over to Ozarks Bazaar, where you’ll find my “Where to Run in Springfield” guest post. You’ll get to hear about my favorite place to run in Springfield and why I like it so much. Bonus: you’ll get to check out an up-and-coming local Springfield/Ozarks blog. If you’re interested in writing for it, just let Sabre know (click here).

How to Eliminate Persistent Odor from Your Running Clothes

This is my first video blog. After Frayed Laces and Sarah started doing them, I wanted to as well. But I don’t really like my recorded voice and there’s a reason I write and not video blog normally. Despite all that, I have wanted to do a video blog and this topic seemed like a perfect in to my video blogging. I upload all my videos to Vimeo*, which you can find at the Easy URL http://LindenAMueller.com/videos.

Video Blog: ProWash Review from Linden A. Mueller on Vimeo.

I am not pretty when I run. Almost instantly, my face turns bright red. In grad school, thanks to Phil and his dead-pan humor, it earned me the nickname “Cap’n” (from “Capillary Face”) . Then there’s the sweat. I am a salty sweater, and you can see it also in my face. After a run, my face has white powder on it, below my eyes and all over my cheeks. And all that sweat stinks!

Then there’s the problem that I am *ahem* well-endowed in the chest area. That is one factor that kept me from running for most of my life because when a girl like me runs, they bounce. Now, I know the guys like that, but let me tell you: it is not comfortable. So when I heard about “Oprah’s bra,” the Enell bra, I had to try it out. It is specially designed for big-breasted women doing high-impact sports. I bought one, and it was good. But it holds the stank more than any of my other technical clothing, and that is not good!

Then, last fall, I got an offer to try some ProWash, a laundry detergent designed especially for athletes and their technical, man-made fiber clothing that holds in the smell of all those miles, pounds, or reps. They mailed me samples (all the way to Germany!) in exchange for trying it and writing a blog post about it. It took me longer than I–and I’m sure they–wanted, but it was a long, cold winter and we didn’t have a gym membership, so we didn’t really run again until April.

When I finally got to try the ProWash on my Enell bra and all of our running clothes, I was pretty happy. See, before a wash, this bra STINKS! After, it smells better but still… sour. Not moldy sour, but just not like freshly-washed clothing should smell. After a ProWash cycle, the bra smells clean. A bit soapy, but clean. If it can make my Enell bra smell fresh, I know it will work wonders on any persistently stinky athletic clothing!

ProWash comes in a stand-up pouch instead of a bottle, and while the pouch–like many environmentally friendly initiatives I’ve encountered–isn’t as easy to use as a bottle, I love seeing companies move in this direction; they do it because it reduces waste and a couple other factors which you can read more about on their website. We’ll be bringing back lots of canvas bags that we’ll take to Wal-mart with us for shopping, we’re considering getting a moped as one of our vehicles, and I want to try making our own recycled kitty litter, but big companies have to make changes for any significant impact on the environment. I think perhaps the addition of some sort of handle or well-placed hole will make handling the ProWash pouch easier and will make this green-hearted runner a little happier with the product.

So, are you an athlete with stinky technical clothing who wants to try some ProWash for free too? Well, you’re in luck! Since we are moving back to America soon, there is no way that we will be able to use up the rest of the ProWash pouch we’ve opened, and there is still another unopened pouch. To earn a chance to win that extra pouch I have, you need to do two simple things.

  1. Tell your running friends about this post so they can have a chance to win some free ProWash too! Post a link to this blog post anywhere on the Internet: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, your own blog, etc.
  2. Leave a comment with a link to your post. Be sure to enter a valid email address in the email field when you leave your comment. That is the address I’ll use to contact the winner!

Do all that by Friday Monday at midnight (CST), and you’re name will be in the drawing to win a free pouch of ProWash! (One entry per person, please!)

I hope you enjoyed my fist video blog! Let me know if you have any questions about ProWash in the comments!

Extra Note: You should be able to find ProWash in Wal-mart, but since I’m not in America at the moment, I can’t confirm that myself.

*I have always had trouble uploading to YouTube, and Vimeo is easy to use and actually looks good too.

10 km Champions Run: Post-Race Quick Blog [PICTURES]

I’m pooped! But I have enough left in me for a post filled mostly with photos. :) But before we get to the pictures, let me report on our times.

Rob: 48:46 (171st place in his class)
Linden: 1:06:24 (251st place in my class)

We’re both happy with our results. Not too bad for as little training as we did, but I guarantee you that I am going to be really sore tomorrow. I can already feel it…

So now, to the pictures!

Rob at Beginning

Here's Rob at the beginning (look in the middle of the frame)

Rob at finish

And Rob right before the finish. In this picture, he is actually under the Brandenburger Tor!

Linden at finish

Here I am, right before the finish!

Us at Hauptbahnhof

Happy to be finished and changed (at Berlin Hauptbahnhof)


Linden and the new U55 (Berlin)

Next, we rode the brand new (itty bitty) U55

Linden, mascot, and Bolt arms

Before we headed to our post-race Hooters (maybe you should make it your own, LifeStudent! It was DELISH! 10 wings, 5 hot, 5 3 Mile Island!), I had to take a picture with the Leichtathletik WM/World Championships in Athletics mascot. Oh, you know I had to do Bolt arms with him!

10 km Champions Run: Pre-Race Report

The 10 km Champions Run, associated with the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, is tomorrow at 3:45—that’s 8:45 CST,  Springfield/Neosho people!—but I am sad to report that we did not train like we wanted to.

We set out to do speed training and regular runs. But we only did a couple speed sessions back in May, and our training was hardly what you’d call regular. Nevertheless, we decided to run thus race. It will, at the very least, be a nice jog through a beautiful and historic city center.

I have to revise my original goals. Having run the first 10k of the marathon in 1:05:37, I wanted to run this 10k in 1 hour flat. While I think it is possible that I could run that tomorrow, I wasn’t to be a little more realistic.

Based on what I’ve been running lately, I would like to run it in 1:06 or less. My upper limit, the highest time I’ll be proud of is 1:15. That is the time I ran my first 10k in, back in June 2006. They close the course after 90 minutes, but I don’t see me taking that long unless I—knock on wood—injure myself.

Rob had always been faster than me, and his original goal was between 40 and 50 minutes, but closer to 40 am besten. His revised goal is 40 to 50 minutes, but close to 50.

Our post-race plans are amusing: we’re going to ride the brand new U55 line with the in-laws, then take them to the brand new Hooters under the Tiergarten S-Bahn station. We love Hooters’ buffalo wings, and we tested the German ones out a couple weeks ago to make sure they live up to the American wings. They do.

I’ll tweet our results tomorrow night when I get home and write a longer race report on Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime, read up on the men’s and women’s marathons that are taking place tomorrow morning (men’s) and Sunday morning (women’s). They will run their marathon on the 10k loop that we are running tomorrow.