Tag Archives: run smiley

Encouraging Girls On The Run

Last weekend was a hilarious gathering of most of the women in my mom’s family for our annual Sisters’ Bash. Mom died 11 years ago from pancreatic cancer, so, my sister and I rely on maintaining this tradition with our family so we can stay close to her. Even if it does mean that I end up being the automatic reference for butt or ass in charades. It was an honor I earned rapping a rendition of Da Note Ta Folla So with my pants hanging low.

Before leaving for Kentucky, my sister recruited me to help entertain my neice over the weekend. It’s a girls’ weekend but Miss A was going to be the only one under 30 attending. Remembering that Miss A signed up to participate in a Girls On The Run event, I figured it was a good time to get some training for it. It seemed like a good idea until my sister emailed back saying Miss A lost interest in training because she’d rather play than run.

Sounds like a job for Run Smiley, doesn’t it?

12 hours after the gluttony of the Sisters’ Bash began, I informed Miss A that it is time to go running and running with me is F-U-N. As it turns out, another cousin’s 10 year old daughter was in attendance at the Bash too. I felt a little pressured when the 10 year old, my sister, and my cousins all asked to come along after I expressed the fun-ness of running. Gulp. This year’s Bash hostess lives out in the boonies of Kentucky. There is no playground, no parking lot barriers, no manicured business landscapes, no skate parks, no… I was going to have to figure out how to Run Smiley without all my usual bag of tricks. I was surrounded by private property and a road.

Alright, I’m being overly dramatic. It is one of those things we do so well at the Bash. It seriously wasn’t that hard to Run Smiley and if had been then I’d be a little disappointed in my abilities.

Two steps out of the frighteningly steep driveway, I tapped Miss A on the shoulder and yelled, “You’re it.” Then took off running. Playing tag is a seriously effective way of completing your speed intervals. You are going to run way faster than you would any other time when you have someone chasing you.

I’m pretty sure I heard Miss A tell my sister that it was fun to run with me.


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For The Health Or Fun Of It.

Last Sunday was the Run For The Health of It race in Kalamazoo. I wanted to run it but I couldn’t because of conflicts with the kids.

So, I ran at home. I ran as far as I could. Well, almost, I ran as far as I could till I decided that I could run farther but shouldn’t. I haven’t run vary many miles in 2012 because of the stress reaction. I certainly didn’t think I should go run the half marathon as much as I wanted to do it.


I ran five miles… barefoot. (Disclaimer- I put on my shoes for a half mile in the middle then decided my shoes were too heavy) Not one of those miles was a junk mile. (even the mile with shoes was good)

Do you know how I felt about that run?

I felt smiley! I pledge not to run any junk miles in 2012.

Happy running, folks!

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Filed under Barefoot, injury, minimalist shoes, running

Recovery Run

I spent all night trying to remind myself that this was just an opportunity to test my feet. I have placed in one of the top three spots in this race since I began running the Papercon Runability 5K four years ago. (let me clarify that there is usually only about 10 women running this race so you usually end up in first or last without much difference in effort) But, knowing that the New Orleans title would go to another runner was a hard pill to swallow. I had to be smart, right?

I size up the competition at every race. It’s silly, of course, because I am far from the stereo-typical runner’s physique so I know you can’t judge a runner by the technical shirt she’s wearing. I do it anyway. I justify my actions by thinking they are doing the same thing to me and dismissing me because I look the way I do. I’m 40 lbs over weight. I wear black cotton Bermuda-yoga shorts, and an XL T-shirt with Kalamazoo printed across the front. I run barefoot but they don’t know that yet because I am wearing my Merrells until I know what the course is like.

The starting point at 6 am

While I am lined up at the starting line, I make a truthful, smart-aleck comment that since this course is flat and fast I’ll be blazing a 30 minute time. Inside, I’m lecturing myself that I can not try to race today. A 30 minute time is probably a bit much to be asking for. I need to keep an easy pace. After all, I can’t remember the last time I ran 3 consecutive miles. Actually, I can’t even remember when I ran more than 1 mile. I know it’s been at least 4 weeks. I could be in some real hurting if I am not careful.

I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that after the gun went off I spent the first mile trying to pace with The Stomper and kept Turquiose Shirt in my sites as my third mile passing target. I said it’d be hard for me to not try to defend the title. At that point, the three of us were running at about 3,4,5 places. See, as hard as I was at trying not to make this competitive, I knew what place I was in the whole race. If I could just hang on to them, I could pull ahead at the end to place.

I started losing my competitive edge at the end of mile 1 when I closed my eyes and realized not a thing on my body hurt. My foot, fine. Hips, fine. Achilles tendon (thanks, new dress shoes), fine. I was out running without any problems. A smile lit my face and the Turquoise Shirt started to pull away. I was happy and didn’t really care. You’d expect that I would have pushed myself to go faster when I acknowledged that I was pain-free. Secretly, I’d been afraid I wasn’t even able to run anymore.

With one mile to go, I had fallen back to about 9th place. I couldn’t see the Turquiose Shirt nor The Stomper any longer. I let new targets pass me and drop me. Since I knew that I wasn’t going to win or even place, it was time to pull over and pull off the Merrells. I didn’t expect to finish the rest of it barefoot but I did. My first official barefoot race. Only one of the officials noticed my barefoot state and commented on it. Not that it really mattered. I was there running. Running barefoot. I hadn’t even been curious if an ambulance would be at the finish line.

Can you believe it? 29:40 thanks to the lady who tried to pass me at the last half mile. 10th place but not last.

Right now, I’m icing my feet (as a precaution) in the hotel bathtub. I’m contemplating the race and rejoicing that I’ve recovered my ability to run.



Filed under Barefoot, injury, minimalist shoes, running

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

We’ve been under siege from blustery winds for the last several days. Fortunately, we didn’t fall under tornado like other unfortunate towns. I am thankful for that.

Saturday, I planned to take the Cub Scouts (and willing family members) for a 7 mile bike hike along the Wauponsee Glacial Trail where we would end at the Kankakee River to be picked up by non-riding family members. I once ran a half marathon on this trail. I was very excited about taking the scouts on the trail, but I fretted over the weather for 10 days. When 1 PM rolled around, the winds picked up and the gusts started to blow the boys around. The problem was that these blustery winds were coming from the exact direction we were headed into.

Scratch that plan. The scouts wouldn’t have made it a half mile against that wind let alone 7 miles. We shortened the trip to 5 miles, put the wind at our backs, and headed north on the trail instead. Those kids pedal led their little hearts out. What a great time but all were happy to see the finish line.


Ironically, a month ago, a scout leader planned to fly kites on our regular meeting night this week. Now, we were worried the winds would carry the boys off with the kites. All day the winds were 24 mph with gusts as high as 36 mph. The wind advisory was scheduled to end a half hour before the meeting.

More ironically, as soon as the advisory was over, the wind was so dead it could barely be considered a breeze. We had to run the whole length of the field to get the kites to fly at all.

“Hey, are you supposed to be running in that boot?” I was asked.
“No, but the doc didn’t say anything about flying kites,” I called back.

We sprinted up and down that field for an hour having a complete blast. Two hours earlier, I had to scream at the soccer team just to get them to jog. Now, I was looking at a field full of boys begging for me to untangle their lines so they could run some more. The kites soaring higher and, really, not high at all.


Need a little variety in your runs? Need to do speed intervals. Try flying kites on a zero breeze day. Put play into your run because it’s a super smiley way to run.

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Filed under cycling, injury, running

Snow Shoes

I’m standing in the kitchen, still in my pajamas, staring at the clock while mentally scheduling my day. I am trying to find time to fit in a run…

…4:30 pm get home from CPR class
12:45 pm leave for CPR class
12:20 pm take nap
12:00 pm eat lunch
11:30 am shower
Hmmmm. Currently, 9:45 am… If the hubs gets back from the store in time… Wait, I should be in my running clothes ALREADY! …

…I’ve established that I will have time for a run but I don’t want any ol’ run. I haven’t run outside in weeks and for the first time all winter we actually have snow on the ground. Running around Circle Drive seems as much fun as the treadmill. I want a Run Smiley run….

…The park is pristine white everywhere I look except at the river where it is shades of steely grey. I am mentally crossing my fingers that my New Balance Minimus Life shoes are up for the job. I intend to run full blast across the center of the park through the snow instead of along the park roads. My Minimus Life shoes have little to no ventiliation which means they will keep out snow better than my well ventilated Merrell Pace Gloves. I am finding out they also have little to no traction in the snow causing me to slide around on the uneven ground behind the fishing pond. I am going to take it in stride and focus a little more on keeping my balance. Otherwise, my foot strikes feel like I was made to run in the snow…

…I’m not even halfway through the park and I’m miserable. I’m running faster than I should because a snowshoer came up behind me when I started and I didn’t want her to laugh at me trying to run in shoes in the snow. The cold air is burning my throat. I’m laboring to take a breath. At least two toes on each foot are numb. I think, “OMG, I have got to stop”. I have to admit that I am bummed that my run smiley run is turning out to be craptastic….

…Since the run stinks, I might as well pull out the camera took take a few shots. I hope that I can get a good picture that I can lie write about…



…I don’t know how it happened but somewhere between the last picture, the river, and the baseball field, I changed. Now, I am feeling spectacular. My feet feel like they’re nestled up next to a cozy fire. I’m running with the wind so my lungs and throat are no longer being brutialized. My joints are moving like high precision ball bearings. THIS IS A RUN SMILEY. I feel so good that I am not going back to the car just yet. I am going to run to the playground and have a little fun…


…Alright, the playground is fun but I’m a little nervous about slipping on the snow covered wood. And, let’s face it, I’m really here at the park to run. The snowshoer left me a great trail to follow so I am going to go where she went. Interestingly, it looks like she went into a part of the park I’ve never gone into. It’s like I’m Christopher Columbus. I’m pretty stoked to be going into unchartered territory…


…I’m glad I didn’t give up on my run today. I’ve never outright run through the snow like that. I’m having fun, feeling challenged, and knocking off new experiences at every turn. But, since I just landed on my tush, I’m coming back with snowshoes next time…


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Treadmill Smiley

It’s the first (now second) day of winter. As a runner in the northern hemisphere, I am happy for the first day of winter because it means it might actually snow soon. Plus, it means early morning daylight is on the horizon. Until either one if these magical events happen, I will carry on, plodding my way through winter on a treadmill.

Almost every runner hates their treadmill. I think hate is a strong word but wouldn’t bestow a BFF title on my treadmill either. I don’t hate the treadmill because I have learned there are ways to make a treadmill run smiley.

Treadmill Method #421
(I like choosing random three digit numbers to number my methods because it insinuates that I have more than a thousand different ideas, and I just pulled a random idea out of a hat for today’s post.) First off, when I want to run four or five miles, I am not obliged to run them consecutively. Second, being able to listen to music while running on the treadmill eases the agony of running into the oblivion. Although I list music as a runner-up, listening to music is really treadmill method #1. However, method #421 is a modification of method #1 so music gets secondary billing under this particular method.

How Method #421 Was Developed
The hotel had a “cardio” room instead of a fitness room. I asked where the fitness room was and was corrected with “cardio” room making me wonder who sued them over that terminology. Tomato tomahto as long as the room included a treadmill.

The hotel employee led me to the ‘restricted’ area of the hotel. The sign on the door stated “Employees Only”. My first glance was of a dimly lit room. It was narrower than a regular guest room but wider than a standard closet. There were no windows, clocks, or pictures. A treadmill, a stationary bicycle, a stair master, and an armchair were lined up one in front of the other. I suppose armchair quarterbacks come here for their super bowl preparations? The “cardio” room was a pinch creepy but functional.

As a rule, I spend the warm-up period gleaning a method to keep the treadmill from extracting my spirit. Acknowledging my dour surroundings, I opted for a less routine method, #287, referred to as non consecutive miles. It’s perfect for when I need mental breaks through that hour’s length of time. I would fill the gaps with push-ups.

Love Shack by B-52s was pounding in my earbuds at the leading break. I was into the tune enough that instead of pressing my nose into a sketchy carpet, I descended from the treadmill and started grooving. Sure, there wasn’t much room and my only partner was a armchair waiting for someone to turn on a TV, but the music was in my soul. If there were any security monitoring cameras in the”cardio” room, they would have witness Elaine inspired dance moves.

The following break time came before a good dance song had started playing. Hence, I continued running for another 1/4 mile as I skipped through songs until I located the right beat. Once more, I dismounted the treadmill and grooved like a funky cat.

I spent an hour in a run/dance combo. I fulfilled four miles with an impression of having executed only one mile. I ran and grinned. I had fun and was joyful that I’d found the dingy “cardio” room.

Official Method Descripition
Method #421 – Dance Interludes

Purpose: To Treadmill Smiley

Scope: To complete an enjoyable treadmill run while maintaining an elevated cardio rate for the duration of the time allotted.

Safety: Safe treadmill procedures are to be followed at all times using this method. This includes wearing the appropriate clothing. Shoes may not be necessary when running on a treadmill.

Terminology: Stint is the length of time spent running. Interlude is the time between stints when you dance.

1. Separate the target run length into short mentally manageable stints.

2. Run the stints at a speed to elevate your heart rate but reserves booty shaking energy.

4. Select a booty shaking or foot stomping song from your ipod in the interlude.

5. Select random play on your ipod.

6. Continue the interlude for as long as random play selects booty shaking or foot stomping songs.

7. Repeat steps 2 – 6 until run length or time allotted is culminated.

Have a Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Go Run Smiley!

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Filed under Barefoot, Lessons learned, music, running

Chronicling A Run

The other morning while cleaning the counters of the kitchen after a robust breakfast, I surmised that I needed to go running so that I would have something to write about. Honestly, I hardly lack for topics to write about. This was a case of needing to run so I could write about running. What I mean is, I find that I truly enjoy chronicling a barefoot run. I savor the emotions, perceptions, reactions, and impressions of a barefoot run and delight in identifying them in print.

Take this morning’s run on the treadmill, for instance: I could go straight to the point by telling you that I ran 3.25 miles barefoot. Or, I can magnify the story by disclosing to you that I toiled during the first quarter of a mile. I wanted to relent to the inner slug. Every nerve and muscle thwarted the command to put one barefoot in front of the other on that circulating belt. I was even trying to dupe myself into walking.

Or, I could declare that in the second quarter of a mile, the world got brighter. (After all, it was just pass 6 am) It felt like I had cleared the cobwebs from every nook and cranny of my lungs. The arduous run had emerged as a mere jaunt across a textured belt. Not only did I relish in putting one barefoot in front of the other, I dared to run faster.

I might relate to you that I found provocation in the poor reflection in the cheap glass of the window across from me. Multiple reflections overlapped to cast a woman with a narrow hip line running on a treadmill. Seeing that reflection made me feel as though I was looking into the future. My future. That I could believe in narrow reflections, if I just kept running toward them.

It’s plausible that I would confess that a barefoot run is important but making sure I can run barefoot tomorrow is even more important. My bursitis hip kept silent for 2.5 miles. Running comfortably when your hips ache most of the day is a miraculous thing. Even if that miracle comes to an end before the run does. Slowly, slightly, the ache intruded on my run. I played it safe by walking for the sake of tomorrow’s barefoot run.

Next, I’d brag about the soaked hair, crotch stain, and heavy dose of endorphins. How I floated into the house dealing with cantankerous kids with a brilliance that would dim the leading ostentatious Christmas light display.

Finally, I should end by saying that the treadmill isn’t my favorite run but a girl has to look for the silver lining under her bare feet. After all, I’ve been running barefoot for two years as of November. It was the treadmill that gave me the courage to convert.


Filed under Barefoot, running