Skip to content


Vainglorious-Filled with or given to vainglory. Vainglory-Excessive elation or pride over one’s own achievements, abilities, etc.; boastful vanity.

When it comes to running, I am terribly vanglorious.

I am a running snob.

I ran the Crim 10 mile in Flint today for about the third time, but you’d never know it.  Why?  Because I ran as someone else.


Well, hello there Ms. Bernardin.

Why did I run as Tina Bernardin?  Because I am vainglorious!

I hadn’t originally planned to run the Crim this year, and so I wasn’t training for it.  Who am I kidding?  I haven’t been training for anything since I ran the Bayshore 1/2 Marathon in May.  I have just been trying to run for fun—no specific pace times, no speed work outs—just running because I want to and not because I have to.  As luck would have it, I ended up with the opportunity to run with Christy Perros.

On a side, but somewhat related, note, Christy and I are both in physical therapy at the moment.  The injury for which I am being treated is “sitting hunched over at a computer for 8 hours a day for the past 20 years.” Christy, on the other hand, actually has a running-related injury.  As such, Christy wasn’t planning to set any land-speed records today.  Based on some of her very recent runs, she knew it would be slower than usual and suspected there might be some significant walking involved.

Personally, I was thrilled at the idea of NOT running a fast race—not having to push myself and be exhausted and hot and grumpy the whole time. HOWEVER, what with the internet these days and everything being recorded digitally until the end of time, and me being terribly vainglorious, I also didn’t want a documented “slower” race time than I “could” snag if I pushed myself.  Alas, Tina Benardin was born.

And quite frankly, the way the morning/pre race was shaping up, I wasn’t even sure if I would get to register:

  • 6:00 a.m.-Christy picks me up.
  • 7:15 a.m.-We arrive at the parking lot for the shuttle to the race after getting “lost” the exact same way for the second year in a row.
  • 7:15:02 a.m.-I have to pee like something else.
  • 7:16 a.m.-My options for peeing include a gas station across the street (which I am encouraged to avoid due to a hold up, murder, and fire up the street at another gas station three years ago) and an area of trees along the back of the property line and people’s homes.
  • 7:16:02 a.m.-Decision is made to NOT pee.
  • 7:16 a.m.-Get in line to catch the shuttle for the 8:00 a.m. race start.
  • 7:43 a.m.-Get on the bus.
  • 7:50 a.m.-Get dropped off in a remote area of downtown over 1/2 mile from race.*
  • *Just a mental note-I’ve had to pee badly for 35 minutes.
  • 7:58 a.m.-Miraculously, we find a bank of porta potties, with no lines, about 3 blocks from expo, which is where I need to go to register and where Christy needs to go to pick up her race number because she already has registered.
  • 7:59 a.m.-The singing of the national anthem begins.
  • 8:00 a.m.-The first wave goes off.
  • 8:03 a.m.-We enter the expo and I’m actually able to register AFTER the race has started.
  • 8:06 a.m.-We are out of the expo and heading up Saginaw Street PAST the starting line to try and get in a corral.
  • 8:07 a.m.-We cross the start line.

The corral we ended up starting in was “E.” Christy had been assigned to corral “C” for runners who would finish in the vicinity of 1 hour and 34 minutes.  Corral “E,” I suspect, had a guesstimated finish time of upwards of 2 hours.

We started off slow and caught up to the 11:00/mile pace group.  What?!?  Caught UP to that pace group? “Wow!  These are not MY runners,” I thought both vaingloriously and judgementally to myself.  But, you know…I took a look around at the group and had to smile.  These runners, likely many of whom were first-time racers or first-time Crim runners, struck me as the type of runners whose “heart” was in the race the way mine was 20 years ago—they looked happy and were chatting with their friends.  They didn’t looked stressed at mile .25 because they couldn’t get around people who were going too slow in front of them.

It’s not that I am a super fast runner, but the people I’m usually surrounded by are more experienced with a lot more miles under their soles.  A more outward desire to excel, push hard, and get an excellent race time or a PR (what with the internet these days and everything being recorded digitally until the end of time).  “I’m such a damn running snob,” I said to Christy.

And let me just say that while I was not pushing myself by any means, this 10-mile run was not by any means a walk in the park.  It was tough.  It’s always tough when you run 10 miles—no matter what your pace is.

Around mile 8.5, we passed a tall women in light blue who was encouraging her friend Jen to push on. “Come on Jen.  You can do this.” Jen had stopped to walk and looked really tired.  Been there.  Done that.

“Come on Jen,” I said.  “You can do this. Almost there.  You’ve trained hard for this.”

I started to clap and Christy did too.  I started to clap louder and pointed to her and said to the crowd, “First time Crim runner here.  Jen is running the Crim.”  And people cheered and clapped and I clapped louder and turned to Christy and said, “That’s what it’s all about.”

And that REALLY is what it’s all about.  It’s not about the race times—because race times, like beauty and glory fade away.  But memories, memories of people loving and supporting you while you struggle to finish and memories of some of the best friends you’ve ever made and ever will make while running—that’s what it’s all about.

I know Jen stopped at least one more time because I heard her friend encourage her run again.  Those last few miles are tough.

Christy says it helps her when she is struggling in a race to dedicate miles to people—people who have their own struggles, but running a race isn’t one of them, or people who have loved and honored us and it is our turn to love and honor them.  And it is in that vein that I dedicate my running of the Crim to Jen.  Because this first-time Crime runner helped me take the glory out of being vain, and remember why it is that I actually LOVE to run.

Carry on, friends. Carry on.

P.S. In honor of Jen and for the purposes of full disclosure, here are my DOCUMENTED Crim race times:

  • Kristi Gilbert      1999     age 31     1:31:34     9:09 pace
  • Kristi Gilbert      2012     age 44     1:36:35     9:39 pace
  • Tina Bernardin  2013     age 45     1:41:36     10:09 pace
Done and with smiles on our faces-which is how it really should be after a run that you finish healthy and had fun doing!

Done! Draped with finisher medals and with smiles on our faces, which is how it really should be!

I decided that cold popsicles after a hot run is really a genius idea-and Crim is one of the few races that does it!

Popsicles after a hot run is really a genius idea-and Crim is one of the few races that does it!

I thought this would actually be a bib worth keeping. A nice reminder of why I really run.

I thought this would actually be a bib worth keeping. A nice reminder of why I really run. Thanks, Jen!



#funrun? #whome?

Happy Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5K Race Day!  What a FUN day to run!

If these two girls aren't going to have fun during this run, I don't know who IS going to have fun!

If these two girls aren’t going to have fun during this run, I don’t know who IS going to have fun!

Here stood Christy and I at about 9:20 a.m. today-just before taking off for Ann Arbor’s annual Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5K run (sponsored jointly by my favorite running store-Running Fit- and my favorite Irish pub in town-Conor O’Neils).

This, we agreed, was going to be a FUN run for both of us!

Yesterday, we ran a 10 mile training run.  And while it was exhilarating because we both beat our goal pace of 9:20 handily; it was exhausting!

It was an out and back and an up and down-5 miles out and up, 5 miles back and down.

I run a portion of this route about twice a week, so I knew exactly where each mile was and what the terrain was like.  I tried to plan accordingly, and for the most part I did.  But at mile 9 I hit the wall and the last mile was b.r.u.t.a.l.

At mile 10, I stopped immediately and bent over with my hands on knees for support and looked at my watch;my heart and the rest of my body was filled with happiness on two accounts: 1) Finished! 2) NAILED IT!

Despite a couple of pace times that were slower than the overall pace time goal; I am psyched about these pace times!

Despite a couple of pace times that were slower than the overall pace time goal; I am psyched about this training run!

As Christy headed to her car and I stumbled up my porch steps I said, “Tomorrrow’s 5K Shamrock run is going to be a fun run for me.  After these 10 miles, I mean, I’m not even going to wear a timing device.”

That is hilarious.  No timing device? ROTFLMAO!!

I really did want it to be a fun run (Note to reader: Fun run to Kristi means “doesn’t care about time.” I know.  The very notion is a contradiction of who I am as a person), because it is a fun run.  It is a great community event that gets a ton of support, you get to dress up in fun outfits, and beer is the hydrating beverage of choice at the end of the run.  Besides, my calves and hammies were sooooooooooooo tight I figured there was no way I was going to pull off any kind of a sweet time-so it might as well be FUN!

Fast forward to this morning and me getting dressed:  The GPS is sitting right there and even though I’m not going to worry about my pace I will want to know my overall time.  Plus…it’s green.  Works with the costume.

We leisurely head up to Main Street with my friend Sharon Stachecki (Who is an awesome runner and took 3rd in her age group today!!!!) and the line is long and so we just kind of amble towards the back and head in where there’s space because “It’s just a fun right.  Right?” Insert laughter.

Mile 1: 9:22.

Oh hell no!  That was 8 seconds slower than yesterday’s 10 mile pace.

What are you going to do though, right? It’s fun. Right? Besides, the next 1/2 mile is basically all up hill (and I’m good with hills so now that I’ve passed a lot of people I’ll pick up some time).

Mile 2: 8:55.

Better!  Especially since a good chunk of that was up hill.

Mile 3: 8:03.

Now we’re cooking with Crisco!

.1 of a mile left.  So I started kicking, especially because there was one last hill to conquer!!!

I reach the top and this mom comes closer to the course and says to her daughter, “Come on honey!  It’s right up there.  You can do it!  You look great!”

I’m not proud of this, but because this girl was several age groups below me, I really didn’t want to lose to her.  So I turned it on and started to sprint.  And so did she.  And in the split second I realized I couldn’t keep up, I realized she wanted to beat me more than I wanted to beat her. So I said,”Way to go, girl.  You look great! Finish strong.”

Congratulations to 13-year-old Holly Warolin of Jackson, Michigan!!!  With a chip time of 27:04, she beat me by 8 seconds and took 8th out of 47th in her age group.

Afterwards Sharon said to me, “I saw how you let that young girl pass you at the end.”  I said, “It wasn’t really my choosing.” And Sharon said, “But I heard you cheer her on.”

Cheer her on?  Of course I did.  It was a FUN run!

Carry on friends, carry on!

Me and Team Absolute Title (Erin, Christy and Chris). Today is the one-year anniversary of Erin running her first race!

Me and Team Absolute Title (Erin, Christy and Chris). Today is the one-year anniversary of Erin running her first race! Congrats Erin! 

When in Rome? Hell yes when in Rome.  Or better yet...when in an Irish Pub consume at least 2 pints of beer along with some button mushrooms and potato skins! The addition here is Stephan-a former Absoluter!

When in Rome? Hell yes when in Rome. Or better yet…when in an Irish Pub consume at least 2 pints of beer along with some button mushrooms and potato skins! The addition here is Stephan-a former Absoluter! A FUN group to hang with after a FUN run!


#agony #ecstasy

After two pretty bad longs runs where I trudged and dredged through snow and slush and watched the outline of Christy get smaller and smaller on the horizon as the gap between us continued to widen, I finally felt really good about yesterday’s run.

The day before, on Friday, we ran 5 miles at what was supposed to be a 9:05/mile pace.  And while I miraculously made the goal, I didn’t feel good about it.  Because I physically felt terrible during the run.

So I wasn’t sure exactly how Saturday was going to go—a 9 mile run at a 9:20/mile pace

I know overall that I need to get more serious about hydration, eating better, and sleeping during this training cycle. I also know that I need to get more serious about getting serious.

My routine on Friday night/Saturday morning was pretty much the same: pasta meal of sorts, TRY to get to bed early, wake up 90 minutes before I head out the door, pick out my clothes, feed the cats, feed the dog, let the dog out, and eat breakfast.   I did two things differently this Saturday, however:  completed a series of neck and back stretches and packed some different fuel.

Since October’s marathon I’ve been using left over, year-old GU and I just didn’t have the stomach to put any of that in my body so I improvised and grabbed a packet of Skinny Cow chocolates and Snyder pretzels (this is only an idea I thought of because Christy has eaten similar foods on a run before).

A little bit 'o sugar, a little bit 'o salt.  Yummy!

A little bit ‘o sugar, a little bit ‘o salt. Yummy!

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer.  I not only met my goal, I exceeded it—9 miles at a 9:14/mile pace.  And at the risk of being a little too self congratulatory, I’d like to point out that parts of this route are VERY HILLY!  But I digress…

How did I do it?  The stretching?  The different fuel at mile 5.75?  Making my mind up? I have no bloody idea.

Some runs are terrible when they “should” be great; some runs are great when they “should” be terrible. Some runs are terrible the day after a great run.  Some runs are great the day after a terrible run.

There are some variables, for me, that seem to logically account for why runs are great and why runs are terrible. There are some variables, for me, that seem to NOT logically account for why runs are great and why runs are terrible.

And that, for me, is both the agony and ecstasy of running.  I don’t know about you, but I could use a lot more ecstasy and a lot less agony.

Carry on friends, carry on.


Yep! Awesome pretty much sums up….Christy’s run today!  Without a doubt!  Way to go, girl!

Picture 7

See how surprised and excited she is? OK, that picture wasn’t taken today and as such I am using it totally out of context; however, I think the look on her face captures how pleased she was with her 8:49/mile pace today!

My run today?  Well, it was not as awesome!

We’ve been doing a lot of treadmill running because of the weather-windy, cold, snowy, wet, etc.  (Sidebar, I really, hate Michigan winters).  And as boring as treadmill running is, it is easier.  Once you get over the boredom part, if not from the running in place then from watching Detroit Channel 7 Action News Barbie traffic reporter and Ken anchor tell the same story over and over and over again, you realize that the treadmill at least propels you forward.  On the road, it’s up to your own body.

So not unlike the last 2-3 outdoor runs I’ve had with Christy, I watched her from the back as the distance between us grows increasingly. The first time it happened, I had a good pep talk with myself and rationalized that I wasn’t going to get all bent out of shape because of one bad run.  The second time it happened, I ran through the list of things in my head that I knew I had to do differently:

  • Hydrate more
  • Eat better
  • Sleep, sleep, and more sleep

Today, after we stopped for me to catch my breath (at Christy’s suggestion) at mile 2, the gap started widening again.  And she’s off…And she looks great!  Great compact pace and speed, upright body position, no hesitation whatsoever.  I felt I hit rock bottom.  And NOT because she was running better than I was, but because it was a 5 mile run, which I have run a gillion times before and not struggled nearly as much!  Once again, I need to:

  • Hydrate more
  • Eat better
  • Sleep, sleep, and get more sleep

After it was all said and done, I had somehow miraculously beat my overall goal time of 9:05

I find these times to be somewhat miraculous.

Huh?!? How did this happen?

So what’s all the fuss, right?  Am I just being dramatic?  Wanting people to feel sorry for me? Just looking for attention?  (Duh! Of course I’m looking for attention, I’m a blogger! About running no less). It was a good run, right?  No, it wasn’t really a good run.  It was a fast run, but not a good run.

A good run is a run during which I feel good.  And I didn’t feel good for much of today’s run at all.  I’ve run just as fast, or faster, at those same distances, or farther, and felt much better.

So here’s the thing…I’m sort of afraid.  Afraid after my marathon PR last October that I’m getting lazy.  That I’m taking running for granted.  That deep down inside I don’t think 13.1 miles is going to be a big deal.

So today, as a post Valentine’s gift to myself, I’ve got to get serious about the training. I’ve got to:

  • Hydrate more
  • Eat better
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, oh yeah, and get some more sleep
  • Commit, commit, commit, oh yeah, and commit myself some more

#sub2@bayshore, #notjustChristy’sgoal

Carry on friends, carry on.

P.S. Happy Belated Valentine’s Day

And that's the thing.  I really do heart to run.  It makes be a better person in a lot of ways, so even on running days that aren't my best (either emotionally or physically), I'm always grateful I did it.

And that’s the thing. I really do heart to run. It makes be a better person in a lot of ways, so even on running days that aren’t my best (either emotionally or physically), I’m always grateful I did it.

#crankypants, #emotionalrollercoaster

I’m cranky.

Worse yet, I’m still cranky.

My dog started barking at 4:15 a.m. TODAY, so I got up (because Lord knows my husband wasn’t going to budge and I had to get up in 45 minutes anyway) to walk her.

I was cranky on and off all day yesterday.

It started out just fine.


Ridiculously low temperatures

ridiculously low temperatures,

I still planned to do my speed workout. Alas, the only way it was going to happen was

on a treadmill at the YMCA.

on a treadmill at the YMCA.

I used to hate the thought of this, but as you can tell from my expression

at the end of the workout, it really wasn't bad at all.

at the end of the workout, it really wasn’t bad at all.

I hadn’t done speed work since October, and easing into it with 12x400s was a good way to go.

During my second 400 I said to Christy, “That last one didn’t seem too bad.”

During the fourth 400 I said to Christy,  “I am now feeling the cumulative effects of the 400s.”

I wrapped up and headed to work, which was mostly fine but a few people/issues were just getting under my skin and I couldn’t shake it, and so my attitude all day seemed to be, “Screw them.  I am sick of their behavior. No more Mr. Nice Guy on my part.”

I wrapped up the day and got ready to head out the door for yoga.

Yoga, you ask? But you already did a track workout in the a.m.

Yes, yoga.  On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I do two workouts a day-one in the a.m. and one in the p.m.

But right before I left work, this popped up in my email from the Chicago Marathon:

GULP!  I'm not sure I'm ready to do this.

GULP! I’m not sure I’m ready to do this.

What’s the big deal? I’ve run 6 marathons before, I’m pretty sure I can handle it.  But….I just snagged my PR in Detroit and committing to another marathon means potentially NOT getting a PR or loosing my other PR.  I think I want to hold onto the success of that Detroit run a little longer.  And causing me greater consternation is that I have to decide by February 19, 2013.  More stress.

So here I am at yoga. I didn't know it at the time, but the look on my face was a foreshadowing of the class.

So here I am at yoga. I didn’t know it at the time, but the look on my face was a foreshadowing of my class experience.

We had a sub last night, and I just wasn’t gellin’ with her.  And my arms were killing me. And I was sweaty. And my clothes didn’t fit right. And I’m so sick and tired of my back and neck being sore.

And all her crazy talk about washing away the day and listening to my breath and following it and respecting it and my body and not judging because it isn’t a competition.  What? I run marathons! I am competitive.  I do judge people.

If she had said one more time, “Let’s all meet in downward dog,” I thought I would scream.  I never, ever want to meet anyone in downward dog.  I want to meet people downtown for a drink. Who wants to meet in downward dog? My shirt rises up and I know people can see my flesh pouring over the side of my shorts which don’t come up high enough on my waist.  Not to mention the fact that the cellulite dimpling in my upper thighs were just…

And then….I was able to do a pose I had never done before, and one I didn’t think I could ever do.

And then, even though she started shavasana too late and made it too short, at the end she said, “I respect and honor the light inside of you,” and I got a little bit of emotional boost from that.

And then, I walked out to put my boots on and found this

a wonderful note from my wonderful husband, who was at home making my dinner while I worked out.

wonderful note from my wonderful husband, who was at home making my wonderful dinner while I worked out.

I guess despite the ups and downs of yesterdays, at least there were ups.

And even though I slept horribly last night and was awoken to the sounds of a barking dog at 4:15, I’ve actually manged to get in a blog post before heading off to the YMCA this morning to swim, and then to work, and then back again to the YMCA tonight for strength training for runners and pilates.

I hope your day is filled with more ups than downs.

Carry on friends, carry on.

Bayshore 1/2 Marathon #allaboutChristy

Damn, I feel like the blood doping I engaged in this morning didn’t help my energy and endurance levels during spinning class as much as I would have hoped……

Well, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m training for the Bayshore 1/2 Marathon to be held in Traverse City, Michigan, on Saturday, May 25.

I’ve run this race twice: once by myself and once with my husband.

This time around, of course, I’m running it with Christy P.

And I am thrilled!

Last year seemed to be a lot about me and my running goals. This go around….#it’sallaboutChristy!

Christy has a goal time of sub 2:00:00.

What’s my goal? To help Christy snag that goal!!!

I work hard at my running, and I love the results; but I think I prefer the role of coach/supporter/motivator to that of runner. I think I’m better at it.

People have told me that my running and blogging has helped inspire them, and  I LOVE THAT!  But NOT for the ego-induced reason you might think. I just love the idea that everything I’m doing to reach my goals, is helping others to reach theirs.

There isn’t much training/coaching involved with Christy.  She knows what she wants to do and she does it.  But sometimes watching someone else deal with all the emotional drama and baggage that comes along with a rigorous training schedule and helping them work through it is where the real coaching comes in.

During the Detroit Free Press Marathon this past fall, Christy helped me snag a PR! She ran the first 13.1 miles with me and kept me on pace-she didn’t let me run slower, she didn’t let me run faster.  We had a game plan of what the pace was supposed to be and we stuck to it.  That, in and of itself, was the most important support and training I received from anyone during the months of February through October last year.  The training, while we did it together, I could have done on my own (I probably wouldn’t have, but I could have). But the pacing she helped me with, that was invaluable!

And all I want to do is return the favor in 126 days!  And I will work my butt off to make sure that happens!!

Day 1 of 126. With temps hovering at 9 degrees, you have to even bundle up for the car ride home.

Day 1 of 126. With temps hovering at 9 degrees, you have to even bundle up for the car ride home from the YMCA.

So, speaking of the Detroit Free Press Marathon…

At the starting line.  Getting ready to hopefully redeem myself. Wearing the AA Marathon Shirt in the hopes of dumping its bad karma.

At the starting line. Getting ready to hopefully redeem myself. Wearing the AA Marathon shirt in the hopes of dumping its bad karma.

Last photo of the two of us before parting ways. was a beautiful fall day!  Temps in the 40s. Perfect running weather!

Last photo of the two of us before parting ways. was a beautiful fall day! Temps in the 40s. Perfect running weather!

Flash forward to mile 19 or so.  Just about to hop onto Belle Isle, or as I like to call it, "my wall." Nice facial expression.  You'll see the same thing about mile 26.1.

Flash forward to mile 19 or so. Just about to hop onto Belle Isle, or as I like to call it, “my wall.” Nice facial expression. You’ll see the same thing about mile 26.1.

They say in life that everything is relative and perception is reality.  Well, this incline was relatively horrible as my reality was I was climbing Mt. Everst.

They say in life that everything is relative and perception is reality. Well, this incline was relatively horrible as my reality was I was climbing Mt. Everest.

There's that look of triumph, eh? Same expression as at mile 19+, although I think I am leaning considerably more to the left at this moment.  Next stop-finish line.  Next stop after that-medical tent.

There’s that look of triumph, eh? Same expression as at mile 19+, although I think I am leaning considerably more to the left at this moment. Next stop-finish line. Next stop after that-medical tent.

PR Snagged!  4:17:15! An improvement of over 10 minutes from my last marathon time.

PR Snagged! 4:17:15! An improvement of over 10 minutes from my best marathon time.

The past 328 days of my life have been a helluva a “marathon training, injury surviving, ego-soothing, friendship growing, deep down digging, emotionally recovering, constantly questioning” kind of experience. But I’m ready to close the book on that chapter of my life.  It’s time to move on. It’s not about me. #it’sallaboutChristy (Which on one level she will probably love and appreciate and on another level she will probably hate. Oh well, I’ll navigate that too.)

And in closing……I thought I’d take a moment to say that while running can teach us incredibly important life lessons about ourselves, there are a lot more important things in life than running.

Martin Luther King, Jr. American Hero

Martin Luther King, Jr.
American Hero

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“A right delayed is a right denied.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Carry on, friends. Carry on.




Here we go again, sort of.

Hello!  Hello!  Hello!

It’s time to start blogging again!  Woo hoo!  Aren’t you, like, totally thrilled?!?!?

Aren’t you all thinking, “What happened?  One minute Kristi was really jazzed about training for and running the 2012 inaugural Ann Arbor Marathon; the next minute she tanked it and couldn’t bring herself to blog about it for a week. Then the minute after that she was jazzed about training for (albeit, perhaps, somewhat reluctantly) the 2012 Detroit Free Press Marathon, for which she wrote about 9 blogs; and then the minute after that the minutes turned into hours, days, weeks, and months because she totally dropped off of the blogging scene.”

So….what happened in Detroit?  Why is she starting to blog again?

Tune in tomorrow, friends.

Until then, carry on friends, carry on.

Picture 3


Detroit Marathon 2012-#runninglifelessons

I played team sports all through junior high and high school; and even though I was above average,  I was never a stand out.

I worked hard, but the hind sight of an adult tells me I could have worked harder.  And if  I had known while I was in high school that once I was out of high school my chances for serious athletic competition would drop precipitously, I would have worked harder.

And that’s why at the age of 23 I started running.

I was a good runner in high school. Whether I was sprinting up and down the field hockey field as a left wing or the strength of my legs was powering my body around the bases to compensate for my lack of bat skills-I was fast.

But I’m a competitive person, so I couldn’t just run to run.  I needed a reason to run.

And that’s why I started racing.

I don’t know how many races I’ve run over the past 21 years, but I know I’ve run 55 races over the past 14 years.  I’ve worked hard as a runner-whether it’s sprint training to run a 5K or a 10K or endurance training to run a marathon-I’ve put in my fair share of time and miles.

And while I consider myself a strategic runner , I’m also an emotional runner.  Which is to say, that I have a lot of emotions wrapped up in how I perceive my success as a runner.  And after what I perceived as a less than successful June 17, 2012, marathon performance here in Ann Arbor, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking very emotionally about who I am as a runner.

So after two months of post-marathon musings, two weeks of Olympic competition, and two days of participating in the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail 200-mile Relay  I have come to realize one of life’s greatest lessons:  There is great strength to be gained when life doesn’t happen as you hope or plan.

  • Who would have imagined that the stress and disappointment of the Ann Arbor Marathon would eventually provide me with a calming clarity about who I am as a runner?
  • Who would have imagined that watching Olympic athletes deliver eloquent responses to questions about disappointing performances, for which they trained at least four years and would have to wait another four years to try it again, would help provide me with a perspective about who I am as a runner?
  • Who would have imagined that running 17.7 miles over the course of 2 days and 3 legs on 1.5 hours of sleep at an average pace of 8:36 per mile with a group of 11 other runners (9 of whom I had only met on the first day of the race) would help provide me with a sense of confidence about who I am as a runner?

I would not have imagined.

But I do now.

Carry on, friends. Carry on.

Detroit Marathon 2012 #happenings

I’ve had a few things on my mind this weekend:

  • Heart Happenings
  • Hog Happenings
  • Heather Happenings

Heart Happenings

Heart Happenings

As I mentioned in my blog post on Friday, I struggled on my past two long runs (prior to today).  On  my  “supposed to be 14 miles but actually ended up being 12 miles” run a few weeks ago, I was tired and it was a struggle.  I wasn’t running particularly fast, but I was running a bit faster than my prescribed 10:44 pace + the extra 60 seconds calculated due to the heat.  My legs weren’t tired, but I struggled to talk.  I struggled to take deep breaths. My heart seemed to beat fast.

On last week’s 16 mile run with Christy P, the scenario was the same-it was warm, and there were some hills, and I was just tired.  From the get go, it seemed like we were running faster than we were based on how my chest/heart was feeling.

As I also mentioned in my blog post on Friday, I was getting ready to head out for a “fun run” after work.  Yeah, not so much.  SAME problem….but this time, I ran only 5 miles and I really struggled.  I was breathing heavy and heart was pounding  just to maintain a 10:00 pace.  Again, struggling with deep breaths and feeling physically like I was running a lot faster than a 10:00 pace. When I got home, and a for at least an hour, this “pain/feeling” in my chest continued.  It’s smack tab right in the middle of my chest.

I have to be honest, I’m freaking out a bit.

Heading to Grand Rapids yesterday to do a 15-mile run today with my team mates from the Fred Meijer White Pine 200-mile relay I was worried that 1) I would have trouble keeping up the pace and 2) I would experience the same chest discomfort.  The good news, I kept the pace with the team just fine and I didn’t have the heart problem….until I got home.  It’s been going on for a few hours.  But, I’m nervous about it so I’m wondering if that is affecting it more.

And I’m not a doctor, so I’m not really sure what’s going on, but I just know that it’s something different. My back, which isn’t in very good shape, is sore in the exact same location as the chest.  Also, I take a supplement to help with my heart burn, which I haven’t had since the middle of last week, and I’m wondering if that has something to do with the prolonged feeling after the run.

I have to call my doctor tomorrow to set up an appointment for a prescription refill, and I will talk to him about it at that time.

I will keep on training and monitoring. I will let you know.

However, in the meantime, if anyone has any ideas as to what might be happening or suggestions as to how to fix it….I’d be very interested in hearing them!

Hog Happenings

Hog Happenings

I am using the term “hog” loosely.  I am using it as a slang term for a locomotive.  Why?  1) To keep the “H” alliteration alive and 2) Because  I am participating in the Fred Meijer White Pine 200-mile relay.  The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail lies on the path graded for the  Grand Rapids and Indiana Rail Road and after a donation from Fred Meijer (name sound familiar??) in the 1990s, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began converting the land into a linear state park trail.  So….everything about the event is train themed, i.e., locomotive, and the name of our team-Full Steam ‘a Fred!  And, “hog” really is a slang term used in the rail industry to refer to a locomotive.

I only learned about the relay last year when my friend, Heather Edwards, ran it.  After I saw how much fun she had, I asked if I could be a part of the team this year.  Thankfully, she said yes.

I was in Grand Rapids this weekend with Heather to participate in a team run and meet my Full Steam ‘a Fred team mates. Elizabeth Carter and Pablo Mahave-Viglia showed up for the 10-mile run in downtown Grand Rapids at 6:00 a.m.  I had met Elizabeth before and was glad to spend more time with her.  I hadn’t met Pablo and was glad to meet, for the first time, a professional Chilean cello player who is also, not surprisingly, a HUGE soccer fan.

Team Fredders! From left to right-me, Pablo, Heather, and Elizabeth.

The other great part of the weekend, is that I got my assignment for the relay!

It’s a 200-mile relay.  There are 12 of us.  There are 36 legs.  You do the math-we each run 3 legs. Heather, who is our team captain/conductor, expects we’ll start on Friday, August 10 at around 9 a.m. and finish on Saturday, August 11 by 5:00 p.m.  Yes!  The team runs through the night.  We have two different vans/cars with 6 in each car.  When the folks in my vehicle aren’t running, we’ll be hanging out at a house in Big Rapids (I think), that is owned by one of my team mates.  Sounds like each shift in the van lasts about 5 hours.  Yes, I’ll spend about 15 hours of my life that weekend in a van with 5 other runners.

I am running 17.7 miles over the course of the three legs highlighted. My running times are approximate and there’s always the need to be flexible, so there might be some changes, but right now this is what I’m planning for.

For more info on the relay, check out Heather’s entry as a guest blogger right here on this very blog on May 24. She wasn’t the conductor last year, Elizabeth Carter was, but she, like all of the participants, can claim being members of the inaugural running of the relay!  Sadly, the event was called due to weather last year.  Here’s hoping for a cool, dry run this year.

Heather Happenings

Heather Happenings

And speaking of Heather….

Heather is one of the greatest persons I know.

I met Heather in about 2002 when I was serving on a historic district study committee in Ann Arbor.  She was the City’s Historic District Commission Coordinator at the time and I was a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University getting a master’s in historic preservation.  Personally, I fell for Heather hard and fast….her love of historic preservation, history, literature, and impromptu opraesque singing that basically turns your life into a show tune!  How could I not?

Heather had been a runner in high school and I guess she gives me credit for getting her running again.  And I am really, super proud of that!  Kind of like Christy P was so excited about pacing Erin Snyder and Chris Lawrence to their 5K PRs yesterday (read about it here), I feel like I’ve done great things for the world by getting Heather back into some running shoes!  The confidence she feels as a runner, the people who she’s met and become friends with, and the contribution she has made to the Full Steam ‘a Fred team!

We’ve been a part of each other’s lives during some key running moments: Heather’s first 5K in a long time, Heather’s first 1/2 marathon, Heather’s first 25K race; my first annual (sort of) Tryptophan 5k and 10K on Thanksgiving, my 20th anniversary of running, my hope for a 4:15 marathon goal and  accompanying blogging.

The world is a better place because of Heather Edwards.  If you don’t have one in your life, it’s worth it to take the time to find one.

I love you H-Love.  Love, K-Zilla

That’s all that’s happening here.

Carry on, friends.  Carry on.

2004-A beautiful day in Glen Haven.

2005-Heather’s baby shower at my folk’s house in Elk Rapids.

2009-Hammin’ it up at the Michigan Historic Preservation Network annual conference.

2009-Heather just after her inaugural running of the Grand Rapids Riverbank Run.

2011-Dinner out with our spouses and Lynne and Dan Mixer after having run the Grand Rapids River Bank Run.

2011-Getting ready to run the 2011 Traverse City Cherry Festival 15K. It was my 20th anniversary of running my first race, so of course…I had a party. Heather ran the race with me, stayed for the party, and gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received-home made and full of so much love and support. WOW!

2012-Heather’s birthday night out-dinner in Detroit and a taping of “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” at Detroit’s Fox Theater.

2012-Today! After a 10-mile training run. First time since February that we’ve run together, and we didn’t really run “together” on that one. But today I was able to keep up with her!

2012-Today! All cleaned up and I’m just about to get on the road to Ann Arbor. Heather is the kind of person who makes you want to be a better person-to be the type of friend to her that she is to you.


Well, good Sunday morning to you!  It’s been a long time.  I would apologize for being absent from this blogspace for so long if that felt appropriate.  However, it just doesn’t feel like I need to do that right now.  I’ve been busy with life and honestly haven’t felt super inspired to put word to screen and I feel ok about that.  I’ve been very busy at work, getting our oldest ready to leave for college in 5 weeks and kind of just doing the rest of my life.

Don’t you worry your pretty little head, though, I’m still running!  In fact, yesterday was a great running day for me.  It’s a good thing because I’ve kind of been in a funk with my training.  Of course, you know me, I’m still doing just about everything my training plan calls for but it’s felt like I’m clocking into a job.  My workouts have felt required and uninspired.  Part of that is because the weather has been hellacious.  If you live pretty much anywhere on this planet you know what I mean.  Hot and humid at 5:00 a.m. makes for thick and laborious training runs.  When things get tough physically, it’s hard to keep yourself positive mentally.  Luckily, for those of us that choose this crazy path in life (ha! pun intended) there are runs like yesterday.

Yesterday, my friend Cheryl, hosted the Alex Ahrens Memorial 5K.  I needed to participate in the race.  And by needed I mean wanted to so badly that there just wasn’t any other option.  I also needed to run 17 miles this weekend based on this cobbled up long run plan that KG and I created after the Ann Arbor Marathon.  KG planned to be out-of-town to train for her 200 Mile Relay so I was left to tackle this one alone.

I decided that the best way to get my 17 miler in would be to run 14 miles to the start of the 5k and then run the 5k.  14 + 3 = 17 right?!?  Right!

I mapped a route out that would cover 14 miles prior to the start of the 5k.  The start was at 9:00 a.m. so I decided I should start my 14 at 6:00 a.m.  Fortunately, my very supportive husband Tom, was up at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday and happily drove me to my first start line at Pleasant Lake and Zeeb Rds.

A little background info:  Alex Ahrens lost his 3 year battle with a brain tumor 5 months ago.  His mother, Cheryl, is my friend.  Cheryl has put a tremendous amount of effort into several events this summer that are raising funds for the Alex Ahrens Memorial Pre-School Playground.  The 5K yesterday was one of those events.  I have not been in town for the other events so this was a command performance for me.

As I began my 14 mile run to the 5K I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I was. While Cheryl has endured heart-break and tragedy over the past 3.5 years I have not.  I will never know what it feels like to lose a child so young.  I will never know what it takes to go on with your life.  I will never know why life is so unfair to some people.  I am a very lucky Mom.  I have kids that are 17 and 18.  They are healthy and happy and still very much a part of my life.

I ran along beautiful country roads.  I experienced the sights, sounds, and SMELLS of farm life in Washtenaw County.  It really was a gorgeous route.

However, it’s not one I will likely run again anytime soon.  I hadn’t expected the no-shoulder roads that went on for miles and miles.  These roads are traveled by lots of very big, very fast, very oblivious-to-the-possible-runner-on-the-road, trucks.  Not only is there no shoulder but the roads are surrounded by fairly deep ditches.  In 14 miles I never saw another runner.  Yes, the Einstein in me came out and I realized there was probably good reason for that.  It’s just not very safe.  I decided the best strategy as a truck came flying by (which was often – even at 6 and 7 a.m.) was to get as far away from the road as possible without falling into the ditch, come to a complete stop, wait for the truck to pass and then carry on.  A new meaning for the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

It sounds worse than it was.  The weather was great – low humidity and cool temps.  The scenery was breath-taking.  And best of all, my two kids were safe and sound and happy and healthy sleeping in their beds as I made my way to the Alex Ahrens Memorial 5K.

Absolute Title 5k participants

I arrived at the start of the race just a few minutes after I expected to (due to the start/stop technique I decided to employ so as not to tangle with the trucks) and was greeted by Cheryl cheering and taking a photo of me.  I was feeling pretty darn good.  My friend Chris who was also running the race had a bag of dry clothes for me to change into.  I made my way over to her car and out of my sopping wet gear, chugged some water and lined up at the start.  I really didn’t have a plan for this race.  My goal pace for the long run in total was 10:44.  I knew that I hit that for the first 14 so I was going to let myself do whatever felt right once the gun went off.  I started off running with Chris and another friend Erin.  Both of them are training for the Detroit Half Marathon and have become very dedicated runners!  Erin had been at Beer Fest the night before and wasn’t feeling 100 %.  After the 1 mile marker, we were all still together.  They were pushing it and seemed happy to keep up the pace. Well, maybe happy is an overstatement but they weren’t complaining.  As we hit the 1.5 mile mark, I decided it was time to figure out a game plan.  I asked each of them what their respective 5k PRs were.  They reported, I calculated and suddenly I had a plan.  They were going to PR and I was going to help them do it.  I told them my idea and they didn’t balk.  We were going to slow it down just a tad for the next 1/2 mile. Once we hit 2 miles we would pick it up little by little by little until we were sprinting across the finish line with their brand new, shiny PRs in tow.  Boom!  Success!  I think Erin hated me just a little bit.  The last 200 yards were not fun for her (remember, she had been at Beer Fest the night before?!?) but she sucked it up (and by that I mean didn’t vomit) and she delivered.  Chris started off in a little bit more hydrated than Erin and therefore didn’t hate me as much at the end.  She took off and left us with about 75 yards to go and that allowed her to snag her PR.

Chris on the left. Erin on the right

Honestly, I think it was more fun for me.  Pacing someone to a PR is almost better than getting a PR yourself.  Thank you Chris and Erin for indulging me!

The PR women and their pacer