Sunday, October 31, 2010

Track Workout on Halloween!

You better believe I'm in costume! I madeit out of a couple of old uniforms, paint, and yellow fabric.  For the record, it's a bad idea to hand-paint something while you're wearing it!
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coffin Races!

Click on the collage to enlarge it.
I attended the 16th Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs today. Hands down, the coolest Halloween celebration that I have ever seen. The costumes were incredible--people went ALL out, very impressive.   To top it all off, it was a running event! Does it get any better?

Here's a brief history of the race, courtesy of 

 "The legend of Emma Crawford lives in this unique race up Manitou Avenue. Costumed impersonators of Emma Crawford, a 19th-century local who was buried on nearby Red Mountain, ride on coffin-like contraptions pulled by teams of four mourners. (Emma supposedly still haunts the mountain even though her coffin washed away years after her burial.) A parade and awards for the best Emma, the most creative coffin, and the best overall entourage complete the daylong event."

I want to run it next year.  Maybe a WCAP team?  Maybe Green Army Men with a Tank Coffin . . .  I think we'd take the trophy!
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Product Review: Zoot Active Compression RX Tights

Some of my teammates have been raving about compression tights recently.  My first reaction, as a self-proclaimed "minimalist runner" was to dismiss the tights as just another new gimmicky running product.  But then I gave it a bit more thought.  I know that the medical community has prescribed compression gear to people with poor circulation due to diabetes or another medical condition for years. Those not-so-sexy and not-so-sporty medical knee-highs work wonders to promote circulation and prevent swelling.  The technology made the leap into the sports world in the 70's and I know that cyclists and triathletes wear them to race and to recover.  So I decided to give them a try.

The tights are fairly pricey at around $125 a pop, so I did a bit of research to make sure I was sinking my money into a pair that would work for me.  There are many brands out there specializing in compression gear.  I narrowed it down two brands: SKINS and Zoot.  

These tights come with attached footies, which I liked.  They are a nice black with different color stitching down the legs, I tried on a pair with blue stitching.  The sizes were a bit difficult to figure out, the chart is very similar to a package of panty hose.  Unfortunately, the store that I tried them on at didn't have the XS size, so I tried on the S.  These were easy to get on and comfortable, but didn't achieve the compression goal because they were a bit large.  Also, they are labeled as unisex, but the seams were very similar to a male boxer-brief, not very flattering for females.  I decided to try out something else.  Which brought me to the Zoot tights.

These are a flat black tight with the Zoot logo on the calf.  The thing that first struck me about these tights is the different stitching all over the legs, which gives them an odd shape when they aren't being worn.  This is due to the various gradients of compression moving up the leg, which allow for better circulation up the leg in order to avoid pooling of old blood near the ankles. 

The sizes are muscle-size specific, which I also liked.  Rather than a general height/weight size chart, I had my calf, thigh, and waist measured to determine the proper size  (which certainly makes ordering tights online easier).  The gentleman at the store advised me that his general rule was to go one size lower than the size for which I measured.  I did and the tights were tight enough that I feel like they are working, but not uncomfortable.  

I was a bit concerned that these weren't labeled "Recovery" tights, but he assured me that the level of compression is the same in most compression tights, it's the seams that are different on "active" pairs in order to promote movement and decrease chafing.  

After trying on both pairs, I went with the Zoot tights.  

I purchased the tights about 3 weeks ago. Since then I have worn them post-workout, post ice-bath, overnight, on the plane (worn under a pair of jeans or lululemon pants), and just around the house.  

I noticed a difference when I put them on post-Army Ten Miler.  My legs were swollen and heavy after the race and ceremonies.  After a shower, I pulled on my Zoot tights and wore them for a few hours.  When I took them off, I  saw veins in my lower legs that I've never even seen before!

They are compression tights and therefore require a bit of work to put on, getting the bottom over my heel is the most difficult part.  I have found that it is much easier to put them on with a light pair of running socks. I also recommend putting them on DRY legs.  I attempted to put them on immediately post-workout (ie. sweaty legs) and had a pretty difficult time.

For travel, they are a must.  Rather than having swollen, tired logs for legs, I hopped off the plane on a spry pair, ready for a run and race in a few days. 

Do they work?  The technology makes sense and when combined with every thing else, they make a difference.  I think they give me about as much of an advantage as an ice bath, proper stretching, and massage do in the recovery realm.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Army Ten Miler!

It was a GREAT day at the Army Ten Miler!  The conditions were perfect: weather was perfect, the course was gorgeous,  proper training under my belt--I knew I was ready.  

I went out strong, but conservative, hitting 5:30 for the first mile and then easing in to a steady 5:40 pace after that.  I felt strong and in control.  I started to ease up on the way back up Independence Ave, but I fought back, motivated by 1LT Byler.  I was able to push to the end and kick hard to run a 57:20.  
The cheering squad!  With awesome hand-painted signs!

The podium!  

Our guys did a fantastic job this year. We FINALLY beat the Brazilians and WON the International Division!  I called it!!!

I am so proud of my Mom and Sister for kicking butt in the race today!  It was the first ATM for both of them and I think they will be making an annual show!  I am so proud!  I love you!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Army Ten Miler!

I am in Washington DC now and all set to race the Army Ten Miler tomorrow morning at 0800.  I am feeling good and I am ready to RUN!  This course is fantastic, winding around the highlights of our Nation's Capitol and finishing at the Pentagon.  It gets me pumped up every time! If you look closely at the above pic, I am just behind the Brazilian guy.

I am honored to run with an Army jersey because I know that I am racing for far more than just myself.  I represent the thousands of men and women who are serving overseas, including my husband.  As well as my brothers and sisters in arms who have come home wounded.  This year I am running for Marine 1LT James Byler, who was recently wounded in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  James is in Germany right now waiting for a flight back to the US where his parents and brother, Army CPT John Byler are anxiously awaiting his return.  James is a total stud and has an incredible attitude despite what he has just been through.  I have no doubt that he will tackle any obstacles he finds in recovery and will excel.  I know that my pain during the race will be nothing compared with what James has been through this past week.  He is my inspiration: when I think the race is getting tough, I will think of James and run harder.

I believe you can follow my race on 

My bib number is 12

Good luck to my WCAP teammates (pictured in the poster, top right)!  You guys are going to ROCK this!  The Brazilian team is going down!

A very special good luck to my Mom, Patti, and sister, Kristen, who are running the ATM for the very first time!!!  I am so proud of you both!

Fast field set for 26th running of Army Ten-Miler

Oct 22, 2010
Army Ten-Miler

Photo credit U.S. Army

The 26th Army Ten-Miler takes place Sunday, Oct. 24, in Washington, D.C. This Army tradition annually attracts runners from all over the world and of a variety of experience levels.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Army News Service, Oct. 22, 2010) - Sunday's 26th running of the Army Ten-Miler is expected to feature one of the fastest fields since 1998 when Maj. Dan Browne battled a slew of contenders to win the chase in 48 minutes, 52 seconds.

"Since 1990, that was probably the most exciting year where it wasn't completely a runaway race," said George Banker, operations manager of the Army Ten-Miler. "They were battling it out. Every time you saw Dan Browne on the course, there were at least three or four Reebok Enclave runners all around him.

"This year, I'm not about to put any money on the table because I don't want to lose."

The event record has since been lowered to 46:59 by Ethiopian Alene Reta, who ran away with the 2009 chase.

"My plan was to break the course record, and I did," said Reta, a 28-year-old who lives in Manhattan, N.Y. "After three miles, nobody was coming, and I went to my pace and kept it."

Reta finished 33 seconds faster than the mark established in 2004 by three-time race champion Browne, who finished third last year with a time of 47:49 while competing for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.

Brown will toe the line Sunday determined to reclaim his record.

Army Ten-Miler officials were still unsure Friday if Reta would be running in Sunday's race.

"Going after that record from last year - 46:59 - that very well could be in jeopardy," Banker said. "Alene may be returning. He's sort of still sitting on the fence. Even if he does show up, I think he will definitely have his work cut out for him."

There are, however, a host of others who should challenge Brown, including WCAP teammate Robert Chesert, 27, the Kenyan brother of American record-holder Bernard Lagat.

Pvt. Joseph Chirlee, 30, of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, should also figure into the mix. He won the 2009 Surf City USA Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, Calif., with a time of 1hour, 4 minutes, 31 seconds and finished 14th in the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon in 2:20:18.

Reginaldo Campos Jr., 23, who won the 2008 Army Ten-Miler in 48:59, and Jose Ferreira, 35, winner of the 2007 event in 49:21, are expected to return with a host of contenders from the Brazilian Army, which dominated the past three Army Ten-Milers.

Ethiopians Tasfaye Girma --runner-up in the 2009 Army Ten-Miler -- Birhanu Alemu-Feysa, Tesfaye Sendeku and Fikadu Lemma should also contend with the lead pack.

Other U.S. Army WCAP runners include Nate Pennington, who finished 12th in the 2004 Army Ten-Miler; John Mickowski, winner of the 2010 Armed Forces Cross Country Championship; marathoner Troy Harrison, Kenneth Foster and Darin Shearer.

Samia Akbar won the women's division of the 2009 Army Ten-Miler with a time of 55:25 - 55 seconds quicker than the previous event mark set in 1995 by Susan Molloy of Charlottesville, Va.

Ethiopians Meseret Kotu, Aziza Abate, Serkalem Abrha-Biset and Muliye Gurmu should be challenged by Elyse Braner of Washington and U.S. Army WCAP runners Kelly Calway and Capt. Emily Potter, the 2009 Army Female Athlete of the Year who won the 2010 Charlottesville 10-Miler. Potter finished fifth in both the 2008 and 2009 Army Ten-Milers.

"The women's side is sort of wide open," Banker said. "I don't see on the surface where there will be a complete runaway."

And you can never count out Alisa Harvey, 45, of Manassas, Va., a four-time winner of the Army Ten-Miler.

"You give her any daylight, and she'll take it," Banker said. "One thing about her, she doesn't respect any ages out there, especially in this race."

The oldest standing Army Ten-Miler event record is Sammy Ngatia's male masters mark of 48:50 set in 2000 when he outdueled WCAP's Teddy Mitchell to win the open division.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Great Article on Elite Athletes from NY Times


How to Push Past the Pain, as the Champions Do

My son, Stefan, was running in a half marathon in Philadelphia last month when he heard someone coming up behind him, breathing hard.
Ian Walton/Getty Images


Share your thoughts on this column at the Well blog.
To his surprise, it was an elite runner, Kim Smith, a blond waif from New Zealand. She has broken her country’s records in shorter distances and now she’s running half marathons. She ran the London marathon last spring and will run the New York marathon next month.
That day, Ms. Smith seemed to be struggling. Her breathing was labored and she had saliva all over her face. But somehow she kept up, finishing just behind Stefan and coming in fifth with a time of 1:08:39.
And that is one of the secrets of elite athletes, said Mary Wittenberg, president and chief executive of the New York Road Runners, the group that puts on the ING New York City Marathon. They can keep going at a level of effort that seems impossible to maintain.
“Mental tenacity — and the ability to manage and even thrive on and push through pain — is a key segregator between the mortals and immortals in running,” Ms. Wittenberg said.
You can see it in the saliva-coated faces of the top runners in the New York marathon, Ms. Wittenberg added.
“We have towels at marathon finish to wipe away the spit on the winners’ faces,” she said. “Our creative team sometimes has to airbrush it off race photos that we want to use for ad campaigns.”
Tom Fleming, who coaches Stefan and me, agrees. A two-time winner of the New York marathon and a distance runner who was ranked fourth in the world, he says there’s a reason he was so fast.
“I was given a body that could train every single day.” Tom said, “and a mind, a mentality, that believed that if I trained every day — and I could train every day — I’ll beat you.”
“The mentality was I will do whatever it takes to win,” he added. “I was totally willing to have the worst pain. I was totally willing to do whatever it takes to win the race.”
But the question is, how do they do it? Can you train yourself to run, cycle, swim or do another sport at the edge of your body’s limits, or is that something that a few are born with, part of what makes them elites?
Sports doctors who have looked into the question say that, at the very least, most people could do a lot better if they knew what it took to do their best.
“Absolutely,” said Dr. Jeroen Swart, a sports medicine physician, exercise physiologist and champion cross-country mountain biker who works at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.
“Some think elite athletes have an easy time of it,” Dr. Swart said in a telephone interview. Nothing could be further from the truth.
And as athletes improve — getting faster and beating their own records — “it never gets any easier,” Dr. Swart said. “You hurt just as much.”
But, he added, “Knowing how to accept that allows people to improve their performance.”
One trick is to try a course before racing it. In one study, Dr. Swart told trained cyclists to ride as hard as they could over a 40-kilometer course. The more familiar they got with the course, the faster they rode, even though — to their minds — it felt as if they were putting out maximal effort on every attempt.
Then Dr. Swart and his colleagues asked the cyclists to ride the course with all-out effort, but withheld information about how far they’d gone and how far they had to go. Subconsciously, the cyclists held back the most in this attempt, leaving some energy in reserve.
That is why elite runners will examine a course, running it before they race it. That is whyLance Armstrong trained for the grueling Tour de France stage on l’Alpe d’Huez by riding up the mountain over and over again.
“You are learning exactly how to pace yourself,” Dr. Swart said.
Another performance trick during competitions is association, the act of concentrating intensely on the very act of running or cycling, or whatever your sport is, said John S. Raglin, a sports psychologist at Indiana University.
In studies of college runners, he found that less accomplished athletes tended to dissociate, to think of something other than their running to distract themselves.
“Sometimes dissociation allows runners to speed up, because they are not attending to their pain and effort,” he said. “But what often happens is they hit a sort of physiological wall that forces them to slow down, so they end up racing inefficiently in a sort of oscillating pace.” But association, Dr. Raglin says, is difficult, which may be why most don’t do it.
Dr. Swart says he sees that in cycling, too.

“Our hypothesis is that elite athletes are able to motivate themselves continuously and are able to run the gantlet between pushing too hard — and failing to finish — and underperforming,” Dr. Swart said.
To find this motivation, the athletes must resist the feeling that they are too tired and have to slow down, he added. Instead, they have to concentrate on increasing the intensity of their effort. That, Dr. Swart said, takes “mental strength,” but “allows them to perform close to their maximal ability.”
Dr. Swart said he did this himself, but it took experience and practice to get it right. There were many races, he said, when “I pushed myself beyond my abilities and had to withdraw, as I was completely exhausted.”
Finally, with more experience, Dr. Swart became South Africa’s cross-country mountain biking champion in 2002.
Some people focus by going into a trancelike state, blocking out distractions. Others, like Dr. Swart, have a different method: He knows what he is capable of and which competitors he can beat, and keeps them in his sight, not allowing himself to fall back.
“I just hate to lose,” Dr. Swart said. “I would tell myself I was the best, and then have to prove it.”
Kim Smith has a similar strategy.
“I don’t want to let the other girls get too far ahead of me,” she said in a telephone interview. “I pretty much try and focus really hard on the person in front of me.”
And while she tied her success to having “some sort of talent toward running,” Ms. Smith added that there were “a lot of people out there who were probably just as talented. You have to be talented, and you have to have the ability to push yourself through pain.”
And, yes, she does get saliva all over her face.
“It’s not a pretty sport,” Ms. Smith said. “You are not looking good at the end.”
As for the race she ran with my son, she said: “I’m sorry if I spit all over Stefan.” (She didn’t, Stefan said.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fuel: Turkish Eggplant Stew

I have a confession to make: I am a soup-aholic.  When the air starts to get that chilly bite, I can't help but  crave a warm bowl of soup.   It's hard to find good vegetarian soups in restaurants and even in recipe books, but a few modifications and you can have a delightful dish without meat.  

After a brutal Broadmoor loop hill workout today, I needed a hearty soup packed with all of the power of a full meal.  This stew stood up to the challenge: packed with hearty vitamin-rich veggies, protein and fiber from the Garbanzo beans, carbs from the whole-wheat bread for dipping, and some necessary hydration from the veggie broth.  

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large eggplant or two medium ones, cut into 1" long strips (leave the skin on , it's yummy and has tons of vitamins)
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (you can sub a can of diced tomatoes)
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like a little spice)
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

  1. In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes
  2. Add eggplant and continue on medium heat for 15 minutes (you may have to add more olive oil)
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the cilantro
  4. Cover and cook on low for 40-45 minutes
  5. Sprinkle cilantro on top a minute or two before you turn it off (and of course on top as a garnish)

Serve with some hearty wheat bread and you've got a delicious meal :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

"You got the abs I ordered for Christmas!"

Although it's never a dull run at the Air Force Academy, with the gliders, planes, parachutists, and mountains, today was a particularly colorful day.

For starters there was a great selection of people on the path wearing completely inappropriate clothing.  One older gentleman was jogging in JEANS, not jorts (although I do think that would be pretty unsightly too), but full-on JEANS.  This is not a path that he would be taking to get somewhere and possibly running late.  No, this is purely a fitness trail.  What in the world would make him think that joggng in jeans was a good idea?  Maybe he was testing out a new anti-chafing product.  Another trail user that I encountered was wearing yellow dish washing gloves and a normal outfit!  WTF?!    What could she possibly need those for?  I pondered that for a good 3 miles and still had no idea.

Secondly, the fall foliage was fabulous against the perfect blue Colorado sky.  The aspen trees were the perfect goldenrod (to use my ample crayola crayon knowledge).  I am not sure why the leaves are changing, as it was a balmy 75 degrees out there, but I enjoyed the view.

Lastly, one pretty rad lady shouted to me as I ran by "You got the abs I ordered for Christmas!"  That cracked me up, I actually had to stop for a minute.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back in the Springs

I'm back in beautiful Colorado.  The first thing on my agenda was an early morning tempo with the All Army Ten Miler Team.  We did a 6 mile tempo this morning (2 mile warm-up and down).  I thought I might be tired from the race on Monday, but I felt great and ran just under 35:00 (5:33, 5:43, 5:53, 5:51, 5:52, 5:48).  It was great to be back here training with the team, even if there is less oxygen.


Saucony Elite Arm Warmers

It was a brisk 39 degrees on my car thermometer when I stepped out for a warm up, and, I'll admit it, I am a cold WIMP.  Rather than donning a long-sleeved shirt, I opted to try out my new saucony performance arm warmers.  They were perfect, not too hot or cold, and I wore them for the warm-up and the 6 mile tempo.  I went with an XS and they weren't too tight, but were snug enough to stay put the whole time.  I have them in the bright orange, vizi-pro color so I can be seen from like 50 miles away!  They also carry them in black.  I highly recommend these for fast workouts or races in chilly weather.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tufts 10k

The race was everything that I'd hoped!  I felt so ready to race and I was!  It was beautiful Boston day and I had a great group of supporters cheering me on.  My in-laws, cousins, and of course my daughter were all there supporting my during the race.  My aunt-in-law, Wendy, also ran the race and kicked butt!  

During my warm-up I ran into Kristina Vegh, who I ran with back at NC State.  I was so excited to see her!  I haven't seen Kris since graduation, so we had a ton to catch up on!  Unfortunately she had to leave 10 minutes after the race, to catch a flight back.  Kris is having an awesome season so far (7th at the 5k nationals), and I know she is going to keep it up!  Hopefully we'll run more races together in the future.

The high-level of competition was apparent at the start of the race, Molly Huddle (the 10k champ) was there along with a bunch of other world-class girls.   I haven't really seen that level of competition since college.  It was very exciting.  We had a pretty fast start, and I kept it under control, but felt great!  It was so nice to come down from altitude.  I could definitely feel the difference and I could actually breathe!  I was in the zone the whole time and it really went by quickly (when compared to a marathon).

I felt great at the finish and ran a 10k PR of 35:27!  I can't wait for the Army Ten Miler!

Here are the results:

Place Divpl Tot  Div   Guntime  Nettime Pace  Name                   Ag S Race# Hometown                           
   22    19/1575 F2029   35:28    35:27  5:43 Kelly Calway          26 F  4091ManitouSpringsCO

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pre-Workout Rituals

Pre-workout java is a MUST for me!  On normal days I'm lost without my coffee, but on workout days

Another pre-workout quirk is sock selection: socks are key to a successful track workout.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Great Day at the Track

My surprise workout: 2 x (3/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1/4 mile) on the track.  An easy pre-race workout before the race on Monday.  It was a gorgeous day at the Cheyenne Mountain High School track.  Here are a few shots from warm-up time in my fave lululemon gear.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ready to Race!

Since my arrival in Colorado, I've been going full-steam.  The first week I was here, I had two killer workouts at 6500 feet and I was totally wiped out.  I've had some seriously brutal workouts since then and I was giving it 100% every time, but I was really struggling to make my times and finish. 

 About 3 weeks ago I FINALLY had a break through!  I've been feeling strong and hitting some great times.  I am so ready to race and show what I can do!  

Next Race:

11 OCT Tufts 10k in Boston, MA