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mother. marathoner. blogger. reader.

Friday, May 29, 2015

on Dean Potter and living life

For my 11th birthday, I convinced my parents to split the cost of a cable Olympic package with me.

For two weeks, I practically lived in my living room, watching 3 channels of 24 hr coverage of the 1992 Barcelona games.

I have always been drawn to sports and athletes that push beyond the acceptable and normal boundaries.

There is nothing more awe inspiring that watching someone accomplish something that they have sacrificed and worked SO hard to achieve. Show me someone competing against all odds, crossing a finish line, or just plain doing something physically extraordinary and I will show you ALL the tears.

The first time I ever saw someone rock climb was while watching ESPN's X Games. I can't even tell you who it was or when it was - all I remember is watching this young girl work her way up a wall with such finesse and confidence that I think I stopped breathing for a moment. There were no rock climbing gyms or walls to scale where I lived so I had no idea that people actually did this, that they climbed walls, rocks, mountains FOR FUN.

Nothing made this more clear then an amazing documentary I recently watched called Valley Uprising. It describes the history of climbing in Yosemite Valley - past and present - complete with colorful characters, rivalries, and breath taking views. One character, in particular, struck me - his name was Dean Potter. He was the latest in a long line of climbing revolutionaries. Constantly pushing and pulling at what it meant to live free. He pioneered speed climbing, racing up the face of mountains, smashing all sorts of records. He began slack lining high atop the Yosemite Valley. Everything he did, he went all in.

slack lining

free climbing

At the end of Valley Uprising, the camera cuts in close to Dean free solo climbing a rock. It pulls in closer to his fingers as they reach and grope for a hold. You watch as his finger tips grab the rock for a second and then... he falls. The camera pulls out and you watch as he plummets down to the Earth below... and then he pulls his parachute. Inevitably, you sigh a breath of relief because you know that he survives... this time.

On May 16, 2015, Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were killed during a wingsuit BASE-jump in Yosemite National Park. After 20 years, the sport, the life, that Dean Potter so lovingly cultivated is what killed him. Immediately, the news spread and the critics' voices rose to the top. I, personally, refused to read the negative comments on social media about how Dean was stupid and reckless. He lived his life they way he wanted to, on his own terms - isn't that what we all want?

I have had many well meaning people tell me that I shouldn't run so much. Or run races so close together. Or push myself. Or sacrifice to achieve a goal. I know that their intentions are good. The unknown is scary. If you've never run a marathon, it probably seems like a daunting endeavor. Running 4 in a year just seems downright insane. Running, for me, is my personal mountain. Marathon running is my version of rock climbing. Every time I finish a race, reach the summit, I want more. More chances to try, more chances to achieve.

"No matter the risks we take, we always consider the end to be too soon, even though in life more then anything else quality should be more important than quantity." -Alex Honnold

There are often times that I sit back and reflect on the choices I have made in my life. Sometimes, I wish I would have tried harder or pushed myself more but I have NEVER regretted my decision to become a marathon runner. Just this morning, my daughter asked when I'm going to stop running. Before I could answer, my husband said "Never. Mommy is never going to stop." Not stopping means doing some crazy things, like running 2 fulls in a month, or 2 ultras in the same calendar year. This is me living my life.

Dean's death is sad, but his life speaks volumes about the person he was, and the effect he had on those around him and on the sport he loved. To be that lucky.

"His death has reminded me to reflect carefully on my own decisions about risk. There's a constant tension in climbing, and really all exploration, between pushing yourself into the unknown but trying not to push too far. The best any of us can do is tread that line carefully. Dean was making his choices clear-eyed. He knew the risks in his life, and he was still willing to pursue his dreams. How many of the rest of us live with that kind of intention?" -Alex Honnold


previous post: #100milesinamonthstreak

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I'm a streaker.

Not a creepy, run through a stadium in the middle of a game, streaker. 

Rather, I'm a logging 100+ miles a month streaker. 

So far, I have 4 months under my belt - January, February, March, and April. (I'm pretty sure I have November and December too but since Runner's World shut down its classic log and took with it ALL my data I can't be sure).

May was supposed to be a recovery month. After 3 marathons, a half, and countless miles spent on my feet, I needed a break. I told myself I was ok with giving up my streak. Convinced myself that it was necessary. I loaded up Hal Higdon's Post Marathon Training Program and followed it to the letter.

Yesterday, I randomly decided to update my new training log, Final Surge, and discovered I have run 73.22 miles this month. Of course, I quickly did the math and realized I only need 27 miles to reach 100.

27 miles. 

in 5 days.

Totally doable right?

See, I'm not good with recovery. I need to run. I actually have a physical/physiological reaction when I don't. Sunday is my rest day and I wake up EVERY week feeling like I was hit by a truck. I'm tight, achy, sore and cranky - oh so very, very cranky. If it wasn't for the edifying nature of Church, I would really be an unbearable monster. 

I really should have taken the ENTIRE month of May OFF. Entirely off. As in NO running. I keep reading all these articles about how elite runners take time off and yadda yadda yadda. But I can't do it and instead I'm trying to figure out how to cram 27 miles in before the month ends.     

As of right now, I have 21 miles left.

Happy Streaking!    

Feel free to join me on my journey via Twitter at @ljzp or #100milesinamonthstreak!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Product Review: NoxGear Tracer 360 Visibility Vest

This morning, I ran into a dead armadillo on the side of the road.

It took me a good three minutes to stop feeling gross.

I was so busy writing this blog post in my head that I completely forgot it was there.

The things I do for you people.

O.K. enough about roadkill ... I'm here to talk about this...

noxgear's Tracer 360 Visibility Vest

This is the coolest thing I have seen in a very long time.

I'm terrible about visibility. All my winter running clothes are black. From head to toe. Truthfully, it's surprising that I haven't been plowed into by now.

I know this is going to sound crazy but stay with me here: I don't like to draw attention to myself while running. Which is insane because when you run in the dark you SHOULD want people to notice you, so that you know, don't get hit by a car.

I've tried those little blinking lights you attach to your clothing but I was always worried they were going to fall off. I thought about trying a regular reflective vest but seeing them on other runners made me think they're not very comfortable and fit poorly.

Basically, I wanted something that would make me visible in the dark, that was comfortable to wear and fit well.

Enter the Tracer 360.

It combines 360 degree visibility with comfort and functionality. This baby is light, coming in at a paltry 6.5 oz. You hardly even know you're wearing it. The adjustable reflective belt sits right underneath your chest and does not shift or move while running. The flexible fiber optic cables are also adjustable and barely noticeable when not illuminated. The battery pack is padded and shaped perfectly to sit between your shoulders blades. The whole thing is ridiculously comfortable to wear.

The vest and its always cool to the touch cables boast a full color spectrum. You can have solid color or blinking or blinking mutli color. The options are kind of endless. I stuck with boring solid red this morning, primarily because blinking lights freak me out and with the previously mentioned issue with being noticed, I figured red would make me visible but not put me in the "is that an alien?" category.

Seriously, if you run in the dark you NEED this vest. There's no discussion, no questioning - just go and buy it. NOW.

and guess what? The wonderful people at noxgear are offering you, my loyal readers, a discount!

visit www.noxgear.com and use the code RSWK20 (expires 9/30/15) to receive 20% off the Tracer 360 and Tracer 360+!

You have no excuses! Go get illuminated!

previous post: I ran a marathon and then spent a lot of money

Birthday/anniversary/Father's Day/graduation coming up? Read my other reviews here!
Montrail Trail Shoes
UltrAspire Hydration Vest
Altra Zero Drop Shoes
Huma Chia Energy Gel
Simple Hydration bottle
OVERDRIVE Compression Sock + Ice Kit
Jawbone UP (edited to include UP 24)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I ran a marathon and then spent a lot of money

Over the years, I have discovered that the days following a marathon can be dangerous. You feel invincible. Triumphant. You look around and try to figure out how to act like a normal human being but you can't because you just ran FREAKING 26.2 miles! 

You do crazy things. Wear your medal to bed. Wear flip flops to your daughter's soccer game because your feet still hurt but you're really just looking for a way to tell someone why your feet hurt in the first place. Sign up for another race before you can even walk down the stairs like a normal person. Or if you already have too many races to run, you go shopping! Smart phones are really wonderful little things. Not only do they keep you connected to the world but they allow you to buy running gear from the comfort of your car during an 11 hour drive home. It would probably be a lot cheaper if I just stopped running.  

In a haze of post marathon madness, I bought this..

and these...

and then these...

In my defense, the vest was an early birthday present from my Dad (Thanks Dad!), the socks are an early Father's Day gift for my husband, and the sandals are my Mother's Day gift. I CAN NOT wait for UPS to show its face!

I am ridiculously excited to review these goodies for you! It's going to be a fun couple of weeks around here and then training for Outrageous October* begins! 

*Outrageous October is going to be my attempt at running 2 marathons 2 weeks apart.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Race Report: Pittsburgh Marathon

goodness. I don't even know where to start.

8 marathons.

I just completed my 8th marathon.

On Sunday morning, I lined up with approximately 30,000 fellow runners to run through the streets of Pittsburgh.

I was so nervous. Nervous about getting to the race on time, nervous about the weather, nervous about hitting the wall and crapping out.

No one talks to me at start lines and I'm starting to think that its because I look like I might possibly cry at any moment. or throw up. No one wants to deal with a potential headcase before they embark on running 26.2 miles.

As it turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about. Yes, it was hilly, but not as bad as my last race, the Chick-fila-A 1/2. Yes, it was hot but the race handled it wonderfully by handing out ice cold towels throughout the later half of the race. Those towels saved me. Being able to wipe my face, neck and arms was not only physically cooling but also boosted me mentally. The course and crowd support was awesome; every mile had people cheering their hearts out.

Often, I find that when a marathon and a half are being run on the same course, the first 13 miles are gorgeous and the last 13 miles are run on shoulders of highways and through sketchy, lonely neighborhoods. This was NOT the case with Pittsburgh. The course was well thought out and considerate of marathoners who need an extra boost of love and support during those last long miles.

If you need a spring marathon, definitely consider Pittsburgh - even if you are a Browns fan.

previous post: it takes a village