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I am a total gadget geek. My Runner Idol (otherwise known as my awesome friend & virtual trainer) makes fun of me.  He says I look like i'm going on an Arctic expedition instead of a run.

This is what I looked like at the start of the Disney Half Marathon this month:

Me before the Disney Half Marathon

When Runner Idol saw this photo, he quickly sent me a text, "You are wearing too many clothes, Girl!" Too late. By the time I got the message, I'd already taken off...not that I would have listened anyway. (Listening would have been helpful. I wasted at least five minutes stripping layers as I ran. It seems many of the runners took the same approach. Disney donated 26,000 lbs of discarded clothing to area charities.) 

In my defense, it was snowing at the start (yes, in Orlando!) and there was freezing rain as I ran my last four miles. Still, I don't like to be cold, and it has been said more than once that I over-prepare. 

Race gear I laid out the night before.

Most serious runners will tell you the majority of the things I pack are unnecessary. I'll admit, I'm a bit obsessive about my gear. This is what I ran with (Other than the cold weather items, I typically run with all of this!):

1. Shoes, socks, shorts/tights, shirt/tank...all obvious and necessary.

2. Four fleece layers to be thrown away at the start and as I warmed up.

3. A rain poncho...necessary this day because of the weather situation (freezing rain). People often use garbage bags for this purpose too.

4. Hat, headband, gloves ... necessary (for me) in these weather conditions.

5. Fuel Belt ... I always run with water. Many experienced runners will say you can do a short training run without water. And, most races have water stations every few miles. Maybe I just live in a dehydrated state, but I need to have my water. Actually, I carry a bottle of
 G2 and a bottle of water. In warm weather, I dump the water on my head when I get over-heated.
Here's what else I carry in my fuel belt. My Runner Idol, my brother and my training partners all laugh at me...but without exception, every item in my fuel belt gets used--by someone in my group--at every race.

  • GU...provides a little burst of energy in 100 calorie shots. I usually take this about 45 minutes into a long run. 
  • Car key, and money for emergencies
  • Gum ... to keep my mouth moist
  • Aquaphor...in case I experience chafing
  • Hand sanitizer ... for those icky porta potties (I always get the porta potty without  hand sanitizer)
  • Kleenex... for noses  or in case the porta potty is out o TP
  • Phone...for emergencies and taking pictures

6. iPod ... I HAVE to listen to my tunes when I run. A lot of races do not allow iPods, but when they do, I always listen to music. I have a lot of songs that remind me of the special people in my life, and I use those songs to get through the rough spots in my run. I usually run with only one ear bud in, so I can hear traffic, other runners and bikes on the trail.

7. My Garmin watch. When I first started running outside, I needed to know how far I was running. Three miles was still tough for me, and I had to play mind games with myself to get through a run. I had to know exactly how far I'd gone, so I could count down how much distance I had left. Now, I use my watch to keep track of my pace. I like to know how fast I'm going so I can set a new PR. I still play mind games--sometimes it's an elevation game (How fast can I run up the hill?), sometimes it's a speed game (How fast can I run? How fast can I run two miles? Three miles?)

Another geeky thing I do with my watch--the watch keeps track of all my stats and maps each run. I have "souvenir" maps from recent vacations. I have a map of my Disney run, a map from when I "walked on water" on Clearwater beach last summer, a map of when  jo_no_anne  and I ran on Rodeo Drive at the SCBWI conference last summer and a map of my very first half marathon.

It may look like I'm going on an expedition when I run. I'm trying to get better at running without so much "stuff." Most real runners like to run "light." All that stuff adds weight and bulk that slows you down. So, my advice to my newbie runner friends...I'm probably not a great example to follow when it comes to running gear!!!!

*In case I undersold myself...I'll add...I do run a lot of miles each week. I'm at 44.5 for the week. I'll finish the week at 55+, depending on how my legs feel tomorrow :-)

For more of my running tips, see parts  
one (getting started),  two (getting started),  three (listen to your body) and four (the power of friends) here.

Because I'm still getting lots of questions about how I became a runner and how I lost 45 lbs last year, I'm writing a blog series, Tips for the New(bie) Year Runner. See Parts one, two and three here.

As I've mentioned before, my friends were a critical part of my journey. Even after my big treadmill epiphany, my friends were a huge part of the process. I have a lot of friends who could run a 5K without ever training. I have several friends who run five or more miles a day; and a few who run at least 50+ miles a week. They love running, and they make it look easy. These friends, my runner idols, cheered for me every step of the way. Even when I reached milestones that they had passed long, long ago, they celebrated with me.

The great thing about my friends is that they recognized that running wasn't easy for me. They could have  laughed as I struggled to get up to three miles. They could have waited until I really accomplished something to support me. Instead, they  applauded each small victory.

I ran my first 5K with my friend Amy, an experienced half marathoner. Rather than running a longer race that day, she entered the 5K to support me. It was cold (hmmm...it seems a lot of the races I chose wind up that way, even when it's a warm weather destination...uh...can you say "snowing during my half marathon in Orlando!"??).

I had lost another 5 lbs that week, and didn't realize the effect it would have on my clothing. (I ran the whole 3.1 miles pulling my pants up.)
I made the rookie mistake of lifting weights the day before. (Oh, did my biceps ache!)

And, Amy kept us at a pace that was a little faster than I was used to (that's another thing--Amy is an excellent pacer--she always "pulls" me through a race).

I was whiney! (I wouldn't have wanted to run with me.) But, I did it! And my runner friends, my FB friends, my LJ friends and family went wild! I set what was a challenging goal for me at the time, and achieved it. And, even though a 5K was not a big deal for many of my friends, they realized it was a huge deal to me and celebrated my accomplishment.

I found out a few months later that I had inspired a few of my experienced runner friends. It turns out, it's hard to stay motivated to run six times a week over the course of several years. My hard core runner friends were attracted to my enthusiasm for their sport. They were inspired by how excited I got over each little victory. Enthusiasm really is contagious. They cheered for me, but they got something in return--they were energized as they remembered what it was like to be a new runner.

At they gym, people noticed all the weight I'd begun to lose. Several people who were just talking and reading their way through work outs, picked up the pace. A few became runners themselves.

Even now, we all continue to push each other. When I have a bad week, I see someone who is just starting to run, or who has recently committed to getting in shape, and it inspires me to work harder. I see my friend who is seven months pregnant, who walks on the treadmill beside me, wishing she could run, and I run a little faster because I know she would if she were able. (I can't wait until she has that baby so we can run together again. She's fast and competitive!) I talk to my crazy, hard core, runner idol, and hear he's running 2000 miles this year and I immediately get out the calculator and see if that's a reasonable goal for me (I chose 1750 instead).

My friends have been a huge source of support and inspiration for me. I hope that I am able to inspire, motivate ... and cheer for... someone who needs it, just as my friends have done for me.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about all my geeky runner gadgets...my running quirks, and why my runner idols say you should not follow in my footsteps!

**For my writer friends, doesn't this sound a lot like what a critique group does, or your online support friends? I think it's a great reminder of how a little pat on the back can help a friend get their BIC, submit, take that next step...and how supporting them gives you the energy and motivation to keep plugging away.

Because I've been getting a lot of questions from people who are new to fitness or running--who want to know how I lost 45 lbs last year--I have been posting running tips. See Part 1 and Part 2.

Yesterday I talked about the importance of listening to your body and the 10% rule. I didn't do that, and I paid for it.

By spring, three miles was a breeze for me. I did my first 5K in late March and began filling my calendar with upcoming races. I was training for my first 10K, the Hospital Hill Run, -- yep, it's all about conquering a few really tough hills. I spent much of May running big hills near my house. My hip was starting to bother me, but I kept at it. I had a race to run the first week of June!

Race day arrived, and of course, by then my hip really hurt. A few people suggested that it might be a good idea to take that race off. But...I'd been planning on it, training for weeks! No way was I bailing. At about mile three, I couldn't keep up with my friends. I dropped back and finished the run myself, turtle slow.

I didn't run again for about three weeks.  

I was in a lot of pain and knew I had to get to a doctor. I wanted to see a sports medicine doctor because I didn't want to listen to a family practice doc tell me to stop running, or to shoot me up with pain killers. If I wanted to see the sports med specialist, it would be a three month wait. That was not going to work for me.

I remembered there was a chiropractor who worked out at my gym. Surely, if she was athletic, she wouldn't tell me to stop running. I knew this was the perfect solution! 

Seeing the chiropractor was the best decision I made, something I wish I would have started as a very new runner. My hips were out of alignment. One leg was longer than the other (which would be the case, if your hips were not aligned), my knees were popped out of place. I was a mess. After two weeks' of adjustments, I was almost as good as new....and I was running again. Six weeks later, I felt better than I had in years!

The other thing I wish I had known as a new runner was how much better my legs would feel if I rolled them out with a foam roller several times a week. (GREAT for IT Band issues)

Because I had several runner friends when I started, they all insisted that I go to a running store (not a department store or sporting goods store, a running store) and get fitted for shoes. It took TWO HOURS to select my first pair of running shoes. And, I was surprised to learn that the shoes I'd been buying for several years were 1 1/2 sizes TOO SMALL! The professionals at the running store will look at how you walk or run and will help select the best shoe for your foot and your gait.

(And, a friend just told me about this place yesterday: Running Warehouse is closing out last year's models. I bought a $110 shoe for $59!)

The chiropractor fixed me up, but I had to cut back my mileage, which also meant building up...slowly...this time. While I was injured, I started swimming, which was the only activity I could find that got my heart beating as fast as it does when I run.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about how important my friends were in my running and weight loss journey.

See yesterday's post for Part One of this series--Tips for the New(bie) Year Runner

I am often asked what made me start running. One year ago, I absolutely hated running. I almost quit working with my trainer because I hated it so much (and she made us run, what seemed like a lot at the time).

The day I decided to be a runner still stands out in my mind. I was on the elliptical machine next to two of my friends who had run a few half marathons the year before. I was at my all-time highest weight, and they were looking really good. It wasn't fair that I put in the same amount of time at the gym every day, and they looked hot...and I did not.  The second that thought entered my mind, it hit me. They were drenched in sweat, working at high intensity. I was barely breaking a sweat...and my hair still looked good! If I wanted to lose the weight I'd been packing on, I needed to up the intensity of my work outs.

It was at that moment that I decided to become a runner.

Today's tips:

1. Increase the intensity of your workouts.
  Start slow, but know when to push yourself. If your goal is weight loss, you need to increase the intensity of your workouts at some point. If you are not drenched in sweat, it may be a sign that you need to work harder.

2. There is a simple formula to weight loss. Burn more calories than you consume! Running a mile ... or even ten... does not give you license to eat whatever you want. Feed your body, but don't eat your workout!

3. Listen to your body.
If you are new to running, or if you are new to exercise, start slow. Push yourself, but listen to your body. There's a difference between "OMG! This old skateboarding injury is going to kill me" and "This is uncomfortable because it's new." When I first started running, my entire body hurt. Even after I'd built up a little endurance, the first mile hurt every day for months. Since I don't have any old injuries or any physical issues that should limit my activity, I knew I needed to tough it out and until my body got used to running.

4. Don't overdo it. The "experts" say you should not increase your mileage more than 10% a week. I don't know at what point one should begin to apply this rule. I would think you'd be safe following the Couch to 5K program and then applying the 10% rule at once you reach three miles. (ME??? I didn't listen to this, and I got hurt within the first six months, and had to take two months off to recover. That story and tips related to injury prevention/rehab tomorrow!)

Tips for the New(bie) Year Runner

I attended a writing workshop over the weekend. It's always great to be in a room filled with writer friends, and Saturday was no exception!

Every time I get together with people I haven't seen in a while, I get a lot of comments about my appearance. As we've discussed (way too many times, I know!), I lost 45 pounds last year, mostly because I started running. There's a lot less of me these days!

After Saturday's event, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to know how to get started running. I am far from an expert. I started running about this time last year and went from non-runner to half marathoner in eight months. I am currently training for my first full marathon, which I hope to run in either April or May.

I thought I'd post a few tips each day, things I wish I would have known when I started out. I hope these tips are helpful to those of you wanting to start some new, healthy habits this year!

1. Think about safety! Get a ROAD ID tag! In the event something bad happens, you want to be sure to have some form of identification. I have a little tag that fits on my shoe laces. There's also this bracelet style:

2. It's okay to start small. Use a walk/run strategy. When I first started, I couldn't even run 1/10 of a mile. I would walk 1/2 way around the gym track, then run 1/2, alternating until I did a mile. Once that got easier, I would run one lap and walk one, or run one lap and walk 3/4.

3. Follow a plan. If you want a plan to follow, many people rave about the Couch to 5K program.  It's a plan geared to take you from couch potato to 30 minutes of running in just 9 weeks.

More tips tomorrow!

Friday Five

Well, I've been absent from LJ again. Sigh. Twitter and Facebook are just too darn easy and seem to fit better with the scattered way I lead my life in the summer. But, here's my Friday Five:
Can you see this? On the deserted portion of the beach, I ran across lots of bushes with large shells hung on the branches.

1. I went to Clearwater Beach, FL for a few days this week for work. I have had this awesome part time gig for the past eight years, and I traveled to our annual meeting to discuss how they can use me more now that my baby is going to kindergarten. The cool part is that whatever we come up with will still be flexible and I will get to choose the work I do--which will only be the things I think are fun. Such a great situation to be in.

2. I got to Clearwater early and had all afternoon to play on the beach. My first stop--a run on the beach. The hotel staff told me to turn right out the hotel doors so I could have more "privacy." I shrugged and followed their directions. Who needs privacy on a run, I wondered. I started down the beach, where people were practically piled on top of each other in the water and sand. About a quarter of a mile down the beach, I realized I was running alone. Just me and the birds. WOW! I ran 2 1/2 miles in one direction (tracked with the handy dandy Garmin watch I got for my b-day) and encountered 10 people at the most on the run. WOW! Who gets a whole beach to themselves in the middle of the day? THAT was SO amazing.

3. The next day, my knee hurt too much to do it again, but I walked the beach and took pictures. I think I could live on a lawn chair on that beach and be a very happy person. Who needs anything else???

4. I'm home again. Within an hour of getting home, I had to put my girls in time out. They behave quite differently for their dad than they do for me.

5. I am SO excited for my next big adventure--heading to LA for a week for the SCBWI national conference.


Thinking Fall? Think KS SCBWI Conference!

I know it's hard to think about conferences and fall when you're still in the middle of summer vacation. BUT, but...this one is going to be so much fun, you have to register, put it on the calendar and GET YOURSELF TO KANSAS!

Kansas SCBWI has planned a rip-roarin' conference for children's writers and illustrators. Yes, we got authors! Bruce Coville, Cheryl Harness, Jennifer Brown, Dian Curtis Regan, LD Harkrader. We got illustrator Tom Nelson, agent Ted Malawar of Firebrand Literary, editor Eve Adler of Henry Holt and Company. We got manuscript critques and portfolio reivews and sessions on characters, voice, humor, structure and more!

The theme is: The Wild Wild West: Wrangling Words and Works of Art. Come have fun with us, Kansas style!

Get the lowdown here. Hope to see you there!

My Really Fun Play List

Yesterday I took music suggestions from my friends on Facebook and Twitter. I needed to create a new play list to use when I run. I wanted some upbeat songs that would keep me moving because I think I've been running to the pace of the (slower) music I've been listening to.

Here's what we came up with. I love that I'll be able to think of all my friends on every mile of my run! The list has 60 songs...and I did keep some of the slower songs on there because...well...I like them! There are several on there from many of you!

PSA: National Running Day

It's National Running Day!

Just five months ago, I HATED running. Seriously hated it.  Yesterday, while browsing my LJ, I ran across two posts I made in January--before I started running. One mentions how much I hated running. The other mentions how I need to "lose this stubborn 30 lbs."

I've worked out for two hours per day (M-F) for years, but I've never been a runner. One day in January, I decided it was time to keep up with all my skinny, fit friends. I started running, a 1/10 of a mile at a time, alternating with walking until I could run a mile. One day...and it's never been this easy since...I discovered I'd run three effortless miles. That day, I decided I'd call myself a runner.

This weekend, I'm running my first 10K (I did a few 5Ks in the spring) and in January, I'll do the Disney Half Marathon. (If you've been hanging around my blog, you already know all this stuff. Sorry for the repeats!) Oh, and I lost that 30 pounds...32 to be exact!

My point: If I can do this, so can YOU! Running or run/walking is good for you. Start slowly. It's okay to walk.

If running is not your thing, how about joining us for the 100 Push Up Challenge? We're doing 100 consecutive push ups by mid July. All the cool kids are doing it!!!

Me with my trainer after the Trolley Run in KC, playing around and showing off our muscles :-)

Push Up Challenge

Hey, you! Yes, you...
the one writing all day with her butt glued to that chair!

I've set a goal of being able to do 100 consecutive push ups in six weeks. I ran across this program that is supposed to make it easy for anyone--even if they cannot do more than a few push ups now--to do 100 consecutive push ups in six weeks' time.

Would you like to join me? It takes just minutes a day, and you can have arms of envy. Swim suit and tank season is here! Have beautiful arms by the time you head to the LA Conference! You could even show me your push up progress in the lobby off the Hyatt!

If you can't do one push up with proper form, you can start with push ups on your knees! I want everyone on board with this.... because it's good for us!

So...who is in??

So far, I've recruited Write_HB, bookhouseboy, and Zabablue from Twitter.

Also, carriejones 

Take the initial push up test and post your starting number in the comments below. We'll start on June 8th and post our final results on July 18/19. What do you have to lose? You can only get stronger!

Tell your friends!

Carrie made a community for us so we can keep up with progress over there: http://community.livejournal.com/100pupchallenge/profile

(If you are new to my blog and want to know more about me, see the info tab or visit one of my other blogs: www.cookingupstories.com / www.kidlitcentralnews.com )