Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude: Camp Brooks Day 1

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Three days spent at 5,300+ feet ironically had me breathing easier and feeling lighter than ever before. In early January, I learned I would be participating in an once and a lifetime experience by attending Altitude Camp with the Brooks Beasts Track Club. The Beasts are an elite group of pro athletes ranging in speed and distances, but united by a philosophy to #RunHappy.

Each Spring, the Beasts head to altitude for training. The philosophy basically being that if you can run at altitude, you can run anywhere. Scientifically, there is significantly less oxygen the higher you climb. To compensate for the lack of oxygen, the body in turn produces more red blood cells. These cells aid in oxygen delivery to the muscles. To make things even more interesting, the Beasts live above the line of where they train. The process allows their body to sleep/recovery in a more extreme climate than work takes place. They spend several weeks nestled in about 6,700 feet up in the Sandia Mountains. Training just below that on the track and trails in Albuquerque.

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Entrance To The Beasts Home In Albuquerque

All of this sounds like a near death mission for any average runner. For recreational runners attempting to pace chase in altitude, you need to either spend 10-14 days of adjustment period acclimating or….do like we did. Get in and get out! The first 48 hours at altitude for me showed nearly unrecognizable differences. Not knowing how I would respond, I made a promise to myself to ease into each workout and running experience. I had been invited there for my ability to love and share running with the world, not my ability to round the track.

Day 1| 80 degrees, no clouds, picturesque landscape and we were headed to a track upwards of 5,100 feet. After a chance meeting of the Men’s Beasts team in the elevator, I was amped to get my Virginia feet on that New Mexico track!

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Izaic Yorks | Shaq Walker | Garrett Heath | Coach Danny Mackey | Drew Windle

As Coach Mackey took time to explain the workout, I had no idea what to expect. “EFFORT BASED” were words he used to describe the intervals. SCORE!!! As I would come to find out more as the weekend went on, Mackey who is in his mid thirties, is a believer of effort based training. He also subscribes to the school of less can be more, meaning that grinding high mileage and high intensity into the ground doesn’t necessarily yield better results. He believes athletes should spend time off the track in play and with family as well. This was refreshing as I come from a coach who shares this same philosophy. We know that when life is good, running will follow.

Soon after wrapping my head around the workout, equals part relief and excitement started to set in, especially when he shortened the set from 5 to 3 due to altitude! Having full faith in my training for short, speed all winter I knew I was in good shape with this one.

We were divided into smaller groups led by members of the Beasts TC. Each interval began with our group. We lined up and would start together after a countdown. I eased in, taking each interval one at a time.  As we rounded the curves, our Beasts coaches were there cheering and giving clock updates. “2:58|2:59| 3:00- Rest!” I made it 600 meters give|take for each 3:00 minute interval I ran. The team support and encouragement made me feel like I was at home running with my team.

80 Degree Track Day10 minute warm up22 Point Drill Workshop with BeastsWorkout - 3x- 3 min at 5k effort, 2 min rest, 200 m at 5k effort

I proudly held a 7:35 pace average for the set. More impressive was my ability to consciously set my intention to relax, stay steady, and run happy! Being physically prepared for the workout was one thing, but choosing to enjoy it and leave the pressure in the stands is what lead to my success that day. My attitude truly had determined my altitude!  I felt completely at home on that track and felt an unmistakeable fire arise for more workouts like this coming Spring 2017!

Mentionable and Functional Gear

SHOES | Special Edition Brooks Launch 4, size 7.5

BRA | Vixen C 

SHORTS | Women’s Chaser 5″

 

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What It Means To Be A Successful Runner: 5 Noticeable Characteristics

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Having over 20 years combined:  runner|coach trainer, I’ve picked up a few characteristics as to what makes one successful in the sport. These habits keep athletes healthy, happy, and successful enough to enjoy longevity in their craft.

1. They know when to rest. Regular rest days are built into their program. As much as they love pavement pounding, they acknowledge and appreciate the need to not do it. Some days they strength train, cross train, practice yoga, or binge Netflix with their feet up. All necessary elements of a successful running program.

2. The don’t diet. Their nutrition is based on realistic lifestyle philosophies.  Carbs are essential in supporting a runner’s habits. Nothing is off limits, but they may limit what and when they enjoy certain foods including sugar and alcohol.

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3. Their tribe is large and in charge. They have a network of other athletes they work out with regularly. They pick fun workouts and races to participate in. They even enjoy non running activities and down time together.

4. They have a desire to goal dig, both on and off the track. They don’t mind being uncomfortable. Being a runner requires discipline, dedication, and commitment. They learn from their mistakes and keep going. These traits carry over into their personal and professional lives, yielding success all around.

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5. No matter if they are an elite, a novice, or even an injured runner, they celebrate each other. They cheer for each other. Runners often attend races they aren’t even running, just to watch or cheer for others. They appreciate the grit and training that is individually intense and honor it in each other.

For daily inspiration, follow TF on FB here.

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Believe Your Deserve Great Things

Believe You Deserve Great Things

To say I was stunned when I received the following email is an understatement.

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To say I was in shock when I received this one would be accurate.

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I sat at a dinner with my running friends that night when the later message came through. I sat frozen and silent. Initially I kept it to myself until the next day when I shared it with my coaches. They were ecstatic and somehow not surprised. I kept shaking my head wondering how I got here. I am certainly not the fastest athlete out there. Was this sent to me by mistake? Should I feel excited about this? Confused? Concerned….would I be able to keep up with the other runners on this trip? After a few peps talks…given to myself and given by members of my tribe I realized….the previous five years of blogging and a lifetime of loving running is how I got here.

A blogger’s life can be unpredictable. The wild west when it comes to financial security. How does one make money on a blog? How do you build an audience? All things I have learned the answers to and am happy to share. More on that here. Being recognized as an authority on social media is extremely important to me professionally and it is something I am extremely proud of personally. To be awarded such an amazing opportunity to share both my passion for pavement pounding and posts is something I never even knew existed.

Looking forward to camp I couldn’t help but think…you mean there are other people like me? 

This trip is coming at a good time. I have completely changed my life over the past 3 months, 6 months, year. A darker time. A time of heart break on every level. I had become tired, broken, and broke down. I had surrendered anything I at one time held as important, especially when it came to fitness. In January, I had the opportunity and support to redefine some aspects of what I wanted and where I wanted to spend time. I moved to a new condo on the other side of town. In that space I created an inviting work environment. In turn I have taken steps to become more financially secure. I have learned to embrace, appreciate, and understand all sides of my fitness game: slow, fast, injured, non-existent. Somehow I have clarity in my own mess. A new structure, a more mature purpose, and for the first time in a while… a plan that I find achievable both professionally, personally, and physically.

Just like when you are training for a race, you do things similarly in business to become successful. Purposefully and intentionally you follow a plan.  Some of those training runs suck! You make mistakes. It gets cold, dark, and at times you feel alone. Only few understand your pain. But you press on.  You train honestly and with integrity. You poor your blood, sweat, and tears into it wholeheartedly.  You are determined to win! This isn’t about crossing the line first. It is about showing up to the line on a spot that you earned. You step into the coral and as I step onto the plane, an entire training cycle flashes before our eyes. We are ready for this. We have prepped for this. We have earned this. We must show gratitude and enjoy every step, smile throughout the journey, and believe we deserve this!

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Shamrock Taught Me To Run Happy

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one… Throughout my childhood years I have watched my dad run races and tell stories of training with his college track buddies. He sounded so happy when he would talk about it. I wanted to run happy too. It was 1994, I was a freshman in high school. Spring track season was starting and I couldn’t wait to experience a race of my very own. Dad and I decided to run the Shamrock Sportsfest 8k that year. This was before I knew anything about splits or shoes. But we loved running and it sounded like a fun way to spend a Saturday morning at the beach for a girl from Chesapeake. Dad never left my side and we bounced our way over the 8k course. Afterwards Dad urged me to park my little booty on the curb near the Pavilion. He told me to wait and watch. I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for…but then…all of the sudden, these fast little guys started rounding their way into the finish. They were the elite runners. The Kenyans! I was amazed. I can remember like it was yesterday. They would finish and walk off as if nothing had happened, causally enjoying a banana and the comfort of a race blanket. That was the moment I feel in love.

Fast forward to 2013….Still running Shamrock at a time in my life I was trying to find my way. I prayed for something big. I didn’t know what I was praying for but I kept praying. Then, I stumbled across a Facebook post. The company producing The Shamrock Race, J&A Racing was looking for ambassadors. I had to apply. Not knowing anyone or anything other than it was my favorite race of the year, I submitted my application. Little did I know how big my prayer would be answered and how much that opportunity would change my life. From ambassador, to coach, to pacer, to elite volunteer…I have had the privilege to participate in every aspect of this magical race.

 Two decades of Shamrock completions later and I stand at the finish line just days before the big race, completing my last J&A Training Team run of this season. Next Sunday as they Shamrock on, I will not be there. The feelings are bittersweet. My heart is full and yet it breaks.

Late last fall I began that familiar prayer. Again not sure exactly what I was praying for, but prayed. Early 2017 the prayer was answered in an email. I was being invited to participate in a Brooks Running Ambassador Camp in Albuquerque. I was stunned. As I read on, the dates of the camp were reveled. March 17-19. In my heart I knew it was were I needed to be. I know what this opportunity would help me gain and what I would be giving up. This isn’t about not being grateful or appreciative, it is about recognizing the growth of something within my spirt. You see, Shamrock isn’t just about crossing the tape for me. It is a part of my soul. It is the race that has broken my heart the most and yet built me up higher than I could have ever imagined. It is something I have shared with my dad and now the past few years with my teammates. This race has given me a tribe, a place, a space. This year, it will give me a push. Out of the nest and onto a plane.

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Our training team mantra this season has been to Break The Rock.  A couple of weeks ago, we were asked to write on individual rocks anonymously and leave them in a pile. 200 unique phrases like I run for bacon, Sports Bra Squad or My health were written on these rocks. Today as we celebrated our last run, we were invited to take one of those rocks blindly from the pile. I randomly reached in and the mantra from an unknown presented itself, I stood motionless. It was no coincidence. The message was clear.

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#RunHappy is the official # for Brooks Running

Excited and nervous about this new adventure,  a few weeks ago I turned to the J from J&A for some guidance. Jerry Frostick told me that I didn’t need to train for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I had been training for this opportunity my entire lifetime! Years of pavement pounding along the coast have brought me more happiness than I can measure. My memories will be my rock and away I will go with them to Albuquerque to spread my Shamrock wings: and run happy I will!

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Make Bold Moves In Prayer And On The Pavement

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Running and prayer both take sacred space within my week. Both lead to time spent with God. But when it comes to being BOLD in both,  it often creates a challenge for me.

Running has never been about being at the front of the pack or winning the race for me. But it has always been about being bold in the pursuit of my goals. Being brave enough to push the pace, or chase the clock. Even being bold when it comes to decisions of knowing when not to run or not to race take big intent and cause internal struggle. My relationship with prayer is much the same way. I have a good little life. I have so many blessings. But I struggle with the idea of wanting and asking for more. Is it appropriate? Is it greedy? Is it acceptable? Turns out the answer for both scenarios is similar!

When I run in nature I feel close to God: by the sea, on the trails, and yesterday at the boardwalk.  Saturday I ran with a friend I grew up with. We met at church sometime before middle school.  That’s why I believe we are still friends. God started our friendship and is at the center of our relationship still. Over 25 years and Braden and I have seen it all. God has been along every step of the way just as he is during many of my runs. He guides, he pushes, he even reroutes me over obstacles to a more protected or appropriate path.

This week kicked off the season of Lent. Mid week I attended my favorite church service of the year, Ash Wednesday. Maybe it’s because it falls around my birthday or maybe it’s because the service is about cleansing. I think it’s because in that service, I get a customized prayer sent up to the heavens. The prayer is always big. But I never remember it being as bold as this year. As the oil was placed on my head and the prayer was said aloud, I was floored at how bold and brazen my pastor was. He asked for BIG things in a BIG way. He spoke to God about me and my prayers in a tone that rocked my world. I was inspired.  I was reminded to get back to daily prayers. I was also encouraged to pray my own bold, intentional prayers. I was being rerouting.

I shared the story with my Braden over Starbucks, a new Saturday morning post run ritual.  Soon after wrapping my story, another dear runner friend Carla came in for her post run treat as well. Without prompting, she boldly shared her own story of God and how he had showed himself boldly on her run. She shared with grace and I knew it was no coincidence. God was big and we had our eyes and hearts open enough to witness his light. We all laughed as I compared the moment to being hit upside the head w a 2×4! HELLO…wake up!

Both of these women live boldly and make me feel more confident in my own bold moves as well. Being bold doesn’t mean we are not afraid, it means having faith in the process, in ourselves, and in God to trust the outcome. I took some time Sunday afternoon to journal a mini pray board. This will serve as a daily reminder to send those prayers up!

The mission for the week is to go BOLD. Show intent!  Do it on a run, do it when you pray. Expect the best and trust all of it!

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