What Motivates You?

Through my newly formed identity as Coach Julia Webb (not assistant coach- Coach coach!), I am fortunate to lead a group of 16 runners at Nike to a half marathon in less than 6 weeks. For part of that class, I am picking a different topic to focus on each week and the one I’ve been putting a lot of thought into recently is MOTIVATION. From that, I wanted to share my thoughts with the world since I always wanted to be a motivational speaker! So here’s what I have to say…

To be a successful runner you need consistency which is only brought about by a strong dose of motivation. There is so much that can be said or taught on “how to run”, but the only way you are really going to improve is by running more (which in itself can teach you how to become a better runner without having a coach). To run more naturally, you need to love doing it and to get to that point you need to be motivated to get out there.

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Motivation to run the fastest downhill mile – Your weight in Gatorade! Brought to you by running friends with no other life :)

So what’s your reason to run? Why do you want to get faster or run more?

For some people its easy to see why they do it. They are talented. My husband Alan is a great example. The first season he started competing in 9th grade he was able to go from a swimmer who ran in gym class to a state champ in the 3200m within the matter of months. From that feedback of working hard and training, he saw that if he kept it up he could be really good in the form of a scholarship to run in college and beyond to Olympic dreams. Motivation for that is usually pretty easy. Not to mention it’s really fun to outright win races and get attention.

Most people don’t get that lucky break. We start running & discover our starting point is lets say 8:45 for an “all out” effort in gym class in 9th grade. (for me it was 6:40 and I felt like a superstar beating all the girls in my grade except 1 who was actually on the cross country team). Most of us will find that we are unlikely to ever have a chance at the Olympics or a scholarship, but that shouldn’t end the reasons to keep running in the top list of your priorities.

Besides striving for the Olympics,  why are people motivated to participate in this “method of punishment” used in other sports? The list goes on and on – losing/maintaining weight, health benefits, stress relief, socialization, staying in shape, being healthy, getting the runner’s high/boosting your mood, accomplishing a difficult task, enjoyment of being outside, adventure, clearing your mind, the feeling you get during one of your “good” runs and more. I would challenge a person who “hates running” to sign up for a 5K, give themselves a good solid 3 months to train by building slowly for guaranteed success, and then ask them if they would ever want to do another. I’d say chances are they could get hooked.

Me? A Runner?

I never intended to be a runner. I was in denial that there was any real benefit other than proving you have a slight bit of insanity for revolving your life around running. Because if you really want to be successful, that’s what you end up doing. Once you set a running goal, you unknowingly develop your entire week around planning your runs. Eating, working, traveling, other time spent on your feet, sleeping, weekend socializing (including adult beverages) – all go into the equation of how your running will end up during that week. You have to make the needed sacrifices to make room for your body to be ready and willing for the task of running to stay healthy and injury free. Yet in turn, all this sacrifice should improve the other parts of your life, because it forces you to have balance and treat yourself with respect (because you will make physical demands on it to perform any given day).

How I got hooked

Besides knowing I had some talent, the day I really became a “runner” was my first day at cross country in September 2000. I had always loved the conditioning part of other sports, but wasn’t sure I could make that sort of thing my “sport”. Once basketball was a clear “no” for my future, I thought why not accept the challenge of joining cross country. That first practice – a 5 mile run (further than I had ever gone before) with a group at a conversational pace was so freeing and fun. I couldn’t believe how fast the 45 minutes flew by as I was talking to the other girls, all while getting a nice workout in! No pressure to know the ins and outs of any specific play, no coach barking orders at me. Just outside running! The hard workouts were even better. The rate of improvement your first year when you start to actually train is beyond thrilling. Watching your mile time drop 20 seconds each time out there with no big pressure is awesome. From that point I was ready to find a college team to compete for (and now I am 31 and still compete in college races like I’m 18!)

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Running allows me to make horrible nutrition decision such as Gourmet Corn Dogs without jeopardizing my physique ;) 


For me, a day without running just feels like a wasted day.
Unless there’s a purpose to the rest day (like a big race coming up or a much deserved recovery day), I don’t feel right. I am full on addicted. I love to race because I love the challenge. A well executed race where you really put yourself out there can expose so much about yourself, which you can take the feedback and apply it back to becoming a better person in the other aspects of life.  

Once you got the motivation to get out and run consistently, you also have to understand that great performances don’t just happen by osmosis or training alone. They happen when motivation meets the opportunity when our body is ready and willing to take on the challenge. You have to recognize that to have a break through performance, you can’t expect it to be comfortable from start to finish. The more you end up pushing yourself, the more rewarding the results can be.

How Can I Stay Motivated???

√ Set Some Goals

Whether it is setting a PR, finishing a half marathon under 2 hours, losing 15 pounds or trying to match your best 5K time from high school, goals are crucial for giving you a reason to be out there. Make short term (achievable in the near future ) and long term (lifetime) goals. Get them written down (somewhere visible) and make sure you are checking back on them often!

√  Pick a Race

Even if you could care less about competing or running fast, I still believe every runner should pick a race (or 10) each year. Take time to look at your calendar for the next 6 months. Check out the local racing scene or even more fun find a race when you are traveling. If you are brand new, I don’t recommend anything past 5 or 10K in distance. Beware of the marathon sign up when someone persuades you (and there’s no way you’ll be ready). It takes a LOT of work to get your weekly long runs in, and there’s no need to rush the process. At most a half marathon your first year is plenty!

√ Come Up with a Realistic Plan

Working around your schedule, either by your own knowledge or a coach’s help, start looking at how much running you can actually do each week. Mark your runs in your calendar as if they are obligations! Don’t question it or make excuses – just get out and do it! For me, I can no longer get in the 80 mile weeks I was consistent about right out of college. With a kid, a husband who is like another kid**, part time jobs, and a recent history of pushing myself too hard with a beat up immune system, I can only handle about 50 each week.

My husband-kid Alan

My husband-kid Alan

**yes Alan is my other kid. A big kid who can do taxes, pay the bills, with enhanced skills in creating an insane amount of dirty laundry and the need to go to the grocery store for some essential at an average duration of every 36 hours. Ideally I would like to help him eliminate the added stresses of everyday life so he can rest as much as possible between training sessions to improve.  When I forget that and expect him to be super dad, we all suffer (note his final performance at Millrose when I was in transition becoming a working mom!)

√ Get a training log

A log (online or written) keeps you accountable and can be fun to look back at how far you will come. You don’t have to go crazy with a ton of details but I do because its like my journal too. Start recording your workouts – add up your miles and seeing your hard work on paper. That also means get a watch so you can record how much you’re running (no need for GPS, just something so you have a ball park idea!)

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Here’s an old gem with this detailed page in my training log – proof of my first solo date with my husband (“Din & Hung w AW” -April 27, 2007). It helped both of us run pretty well the next day!! (10:27 in the steeple, 3:51 opener in the mile)

√ Find some running friends and/or a good playlist

If you don’t have any (my mom is one of those people), there’s no excuse – especially if you live in a big city like Portland. Here everyone seems to run. There are endless training groups, running stores with group runs, and now the popular thing called the internet. You can find meet-up groups and more.. there is mega power with finding running pals via social media. If you live in Small Town, USA where you are the only person running, then call upon the almighty iPod. There’s nothing wussy about running to music on your everyday runs. It can definitely be uplifting and much more fun. I would recommend probably keeping your iPod off during your races, so you can soak up the race experience and not drown it out. If you want to go old school and look for non-electronic or non-human options when you can’t stand the thoughts in your head, there is praying the Rosary mid run (which I used to do) or counting dogs (or people who are wearing sunglasses) – which I used to do as well.

√  Reward your hard work!

Make it a fun game by giving yourself rewards when you meet your goals (it doesn’t always have to be food, but food is an easy choice when you run so much and need more calories!)  Set up small rewards along the way to keep yourself from feeling like its all about hard work and no end point to race day. So tonight tell your husband you are getting a mani/pedi with a friend (and he’s staying home with the kid) after you cross off that next goal in this weekend’s long run.  (Hear that Alan?)

What happens when I don’t feel like doing it??

A man without excuses, ready to get it done. Jonathan Marcus (t-shirt gift by the Webbs)

A man without excuses, ready to get it done. Jonathan Marcus (t-shirt gift by the Webbs; only worn once)

We all have our days. Remind yourself of how you’ll feel if you don’t get out- like a big fat pile of blah. The mental guilt should be worse than the physical discomfort of getting out and running! If you have a big number (such as a 10 mile run) which seems impossible with your current energy level, just tell yourself you’ll go a mile and each mile reassess that you can go another. You can also tell yourself you will run “Kenyan” .. my slang term for “super chill pace” – which is how they start on their easy days.

Another way to outsmart your lack of motivation would be running somewhere as an errand – and don’t think of it as a run, but more you have to get to the ATM 3 miles away, get the cash and return. Out and backs are always more effective than short loops so you don’t get tempted to stop mid run. If you meet up with a group only running 5 and you are planning 8, do the 3 miles before they get there. You don’t want to look like a weirdo who can’t socialize post run because you are more hardcore than them ;)

Other random tips for motivational success

Post pictures of yourself on the fridge or on your Facebook profile- that in which you were in your best physical condition or during a great race you ran. You can even pin up photos around your house** of people you aspire to be like. This could be professional runners, super fit celebrities or if you’re really weird like me – you can post pics on your mirror of people you want to beat in your next race. I will admit I did this in college (yep Shauneen Garrahan, you were on my mirror).

**I don’t expect you to do that if you are past the stage of living in a college dorm but give props to those who find the space in their adult houses

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“Inspirational photo” of my legs in PR shape last year.. that or “yikes”

Motivational quotes are awesome! Put them on the background of your phone/computer. Thank you Lauren Fleshman for the quote from your birth story- it constantly reminded me to get my mind right when the going got tough in workouts or races.

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Amazing screenshot I had on my iPhone lock screen before I set multiple PRs last summer. Reminder – birth pain is much worse than race pain!! Thank you Lauren!

Get a blog and put the word “Run” in it. You will look pretty stupid if you end up gaining 50 pounds and completely quit running later that year. Even if you don’t get hundreds of followers, hold yourself accountable by pretending everyone is eagerly awaiting your next blog by posting consistently about your training and racing.

Do some mental imagery in your next training run or at the end of the day when you’re laying in bed or in the middle of an ice bath**. Here’s an activity I do that pumps me up – I run some laps on the track imagining I’m mid-race. As I’m running (not race pace) – I have the voice of an announcer with a British accent giving the play by play of my race as I am hitting specific splits with “6 laps to go” and so forth.. He’s going on about me moving past certain competitors and how I’m having the run of my life. During this imaginary PR race, I usually end up running well under 7 minute pace after a good mile without any perceived effort just being pumped up (which then means forcing myself to slow down because it’s one of those days I’m suppose to be recovering). It’s super fun! I also heard that the mind achieves what it believes, so maybe if I do this often enough, I will somehow transform this in my next race even when I have not put in the workouts to translate. This is especially beneficial to do with a stroller so I can actually do the announcer talk out loud and people will think I’m just having a strange conversation with my toddler. :)

some fast dudes doing group mental imagery in their "ice bath"

Fast fellows (pictured Lopez Lomong, Brent Vaughn & a hairy white guy) possibly doing group mental imagery in their outdoor ice bath

**I also don’t expect everyone to be partaking in regular ice baths but these are an awesome time to imagine yourself running and staying tough (while experiencing real life discomfort)!

Now Go Forth & Run!

Those are just a few ideas – find your personal way to get motivated and stay that way! It could be watching Rocky or eating a sleeve of Oreos the night before a long run, ensuring you that run enough to burn it all off (not recommended unless you are at your current goal race weight). The sky is the limit to creativity on keeping your mojo high!

The last piece of advice I have and most important is don’t ever forget your PMA (imagine me saying that in the most dorky voice ever). Positive Mental Attitude (again in slow drawn out dork voice) is the key to success in life and running. We all have our bad days, but do your best to smile through them and know a good day is right around the corner!

PMA

Inspiration from Irving Street Kitchen in downtown Portland

 

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Summing It All Up

Webb-4673 As promised via Facebook announcement on our flight returning from New York (as more of a favor to Julia), Alan himself is the guest blogger to give a little recap of Millrose Games last weekend. A busy week as he was off to Arizona for training a few days later, Alan shared some words reflecting on his final race as an elite miler. Summing up a whole career in one blog post isn’t going to happen, but right now the next logical step planned is writing a book to reflect back on his career. A disclaimer that this blog is by no means professional writing, just some words from the heart. 

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Alan (AW):

This past weekend I was given the gift of being able to toe the line with giants of the mile at the Millrose Games. I received a lot of attention for performances clearly unrelated to my 4:06, penultimate finish. A hair less than 11 ticks away from my indoor pr of 3:55, moments of my career flashed before my eyes as I raced along the track.

Although unspectacular, it was not unceremonious and intensely emotional. Now that I am moving onto other things (three to be exact), I would like make my first blog reflecting on how I really began my career and finally give some of the attention I received to the other guys in the race, specifically the winner Will Leer.

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February 15, 2014
Millrose Wanamaker Mile Results

1. Will Leer Nike 3:52.47 (all time SB, PB)
2. Lawi Lalang   University of AZ   3:52.88 (SB, PB, Collegiate Record)
3. Nick Willis    Adidas       3:53.02 (indoor SB)
4. Nate Brannen  Saucony   3:54.32 (SB, PB)
5. Chris O’Hare   Scotland   3:54.66 (SB)
6. Craig Miller   New Balance 3:55.09 (SB)
7. Leo Manzano  USA   3:56.73 (SB)
8. Jesse Garn  Binghamton University  4:01.10
9. Kirubel Erassa   Oklahoma State   4:02.54
10. Johnny Gregorek  Columbia University 4:04.7
11. Alan Webb  BAC   4:06.11
12. Miles Batty   Asics   4:10.12

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Julia (JW): A little background history to how Alan ended up here – a grown man with no college degree (he will get it one of these days!), 12 years of professional running to claim as a “career” and now at the age of 31 (not 61) using the word “retirement”.

AW: The summer after my fifth birthday I was disappointed when my mom informed me that they had changed the age to start summer league swim team from 5 to 6 so I had to wait another year before I could start racing. I had been taking swim lessons since I had memories so I don’t remember learning to swim; only learning to swim faster. The next summer I was allowed to compete and one of the things my summer league team (the Ridge Heights Sharks) did was every Monday was give out a Krispy Kreme donut to every one who had a season best time the previous Saturday. After the first week everyone got one because you got a season best just by not drowning. But it got tougher and tougher after each week. We were like little puppies being taught how to sit with doggie treats. If you work hard and improve here is treat.

Mmmmmm.. Donuts

Mmmmmm.. Donuts

We even had a cloth banner that we brought to meets that said “We swim (little swimmer drawing) for donuts(donut figure)”. You could say that’s how I trained and competed for the rest of my life even in my running career. My dad would bring a bag of Mint Milanos to my early XC races and I could have them after the race. Yes, all of them. When I was at Michigan for college, coach Ron Warhurst would bring the team donuts from the Washtenaw Dairy after long runs on Sunday.

JW: I’m sure he likely ran his last miles a little faster than everyone so he’d be back early to get the first picks.. actually that wasn’t true, like me he was typically the first one to get there, last one to leave.

As a 5 and 6 year old swimming, this was an important life lesson because it taught me to recognize how difficult it becomes for you to continue to improve because by the end of the summer it got harder and harder to earn donuts. That challenge also made them taste that much better. This was the process of how I became addicted to the improvement and willing to work really hard to get those tasty treats.

So, to acknowledge the amazing performances of this past weekend’s race, I’d like to honor everyone who kicked ass with donuts. I did not quite earn mine as I had ran 4:02 a month ago.

JW: Interjection – I would like to admit I can account for at least 2 seconds of the blame as I was constantly requesting Alan for help with Joanie as I recently took on 2 new part time jobs, resumed training and realized I couldn’t be super mom .. and Alan didn’t really protest when he really should have been recovering. When you’re training for triathlon AND the mile- you don’t have much energy. It’s why they don’t have triathletes put on spikes at the final transition and step on the track to try to go sub 4.) Hey that brings up a good point. Maybe some time he could do this if he ever got the itch to run track again. It doesn’t have to be a formal race, he’s better for time trialing anyway. 

If you ever meet the fathers of young kids who are successful professional athletes, they either A) have a supermom for a wife (Kalin Ritzenhein comes to mind) or B) they have a great nanny or C) they are Bernard Lagat. I witnessed him with his kids for a week, and never was it a problem to be up at 6 ready to go along. Poor Joanie has to entertain herself each morning for a good 30 minutes before either of us can move to get her out of her crib.

Joanie Webb enjoying her first Armory meet

AW: Post race, I didn’t get a victory lap for winning, but did get a final lap around to soak up my last professional track experience.

JW: As a witness to this it made me tear up that as a way to honor the entirety of his career, not only did Joanie and myself get world class treatment pre and post race (trackside at the Armory and access to the media room), but the after party celebration sealed the deal. 

Joanie, passed out from exhaustion of the track meet, was wheeled to the entrance of Coogans (the place to be post-Armory races). Packed to the gills, there was no way it seemed to keep her asleep in her 2×6 foot monster stroller. The next thing I know, owner Peter Walsh (who I’d heard about from Alan years ago) is rushing me in, clearing the way and parking her next to one of his buddies eating solo at the only half open table. This friend was then designated as babysitter as Peter sang to Alan with the crowd joining in, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” as we headed to the next room to celebrate (Joanie-free) with a round of beers. No donut, but a melted sundae was Alan’s post-dinner treat as it became impossible to sit and enjoy with all the love and attention from the fans and NYRR crew.

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Alan and Peter Walsh, the legendary man behind Coogans; under the photo taken the night they first met.

AW: So who did get donuts? I owe gift certificates to Voodoo in Portland, Oregon for the following to redeem (please give us a 2 day heads up as we may need to plan this around my sleeping, training and toddler entertaining):

Nate Brennan (my college roommate, former Michigan standout)- he’s also an old dude at 31 with a 2 year old and is still on fire – setting the Canadian record for the indoor mile. 🍩

Nick Willis (another former Michigan standout) – 2008 Olympic silver medalist and one of the greatest kiwi milers of all time- coming off a 3:55 outdoors and New Balance win the previous week; not the win but in the money with 3rd. The guy also has a 6 month old, but a note that it is likely Sierra is of supermom status. 🍩

Leo Manzano- 2012 Olympic silver medalist bringing his A game for a season best, showing that he can bounce back fast after a 4:04 season opener the week prior. He also has a toddler! 🍩

Lawi Lalang – setting the collegiate record and almost taking the win with an indoor PR 🍩

Ron Warhurst- not that he needs anymore donuts, he deserves one, as 2 of his current athletes (Leer and Willis) beat 2 of his former (Brennan and myself). Ronnie- Just make sure you head out for a jog later that week. 🍩

And finally the man of the hour….

Will Leer - 🍩 🍩 🍩

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Will Leer celebrating his Wanamaker Mile victory

He kicked like we have seen him before, but this time had enough room to catch everyone to win the prestigious Wanamaker mile. (Unlike when he passed me the final strides of the 2008 1500m trials when he pushed me back to 5th. Good job dude. 4th place worst place.) His win on Saturday was not a fluke either. 3:52 is far from a “right place at the right time perfect kickers race time.” It’s a lifetime PR indoors and out, which is top 5 all-time indoors for US runners. A culmination of a lifetime of work. No kids to distract him yet.

Not to say that Leer will not go on to make World and Olympic team because he can and will, but no matter what happens the rest of his career, we witnessed a man achieve something he had never achieved before. He prevailed on one of the biggest stages against the best competition in a lifetime best time. The ultimate 1-2 combination punch. That is really something special and I was part of it.

So Will for your efforts and achievements, I can also throw in a bag of Mint Milanos along with the donut next time you happen to be in town … World Indoors are coming to Portland 2016.

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Bacon Maple Bar at Voodoo Donuts, downtown Portland

By Alan (with commentary from Julia)

Race photos by David Bracetty.

https://www.facebook.com/davidbracettyphoto

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Milrose Wanamaker Mile – What to Know

In just a few short days, it’s hard for me to believe Alan will be boarding a plane to compete at what could be his last elite level race in the mile. New York Road Runner was gracious to invite Alan to celebrate the end to his track career in a grand fashion by bringing him back to the Armory. The men’s Wanamaker Mile is the highlight event,  featuring a star studded field as always.

Centro and Webb racing at Pre 2013  (photo Flotrack)

Centro and Webb lining up at Pre 2013 (photo Flotrack)

The Milrose Games have been going on since 1908, and continue to be one of the highlight events of competition during the indoor season. Their website boasts – more than 200 athletes share the distinction of being both Milrose and Olympic Champions. The mile itself has been a feature event since 1926. This website gives a depth in the history of its champions.  Bernard Lagat has this thing wrapped up as Wanamaker All Time Champ with 8 wins since 2001. Alan competed in 2005 (3rd – 4:00.91), 2007 (4th – 4:04.86).

Until 2 years ago, the meet was held at Madison Square Gardens which had a much smaller track at 11 laps per mile (160 yards). The venue itself was enormous to make the track and field crowd seem sparse. As of 2012, the event was switched to the Armory to give athletes a better shot at faster times with a 200m track and a tighter crowd atmosphere to boost the runners mojo. This will be Alan’s first Milrose at the Armory.

At the New Balance Games in 2001, in the Armory, Alan ran his first sub 4:00 mile to break the boy’s high school record in 3:59.86. He become the ONLY high schooler to run under 4 indoors. A guy who was there in the crowd and happened to get the race on tape recently sent me a link to the video he shot. Since he had no clue who Alan was or the significance of the barrier he was about to break, he didn’t really focus the camera on the latter half of his race. Despite that, you can feel the energy and excitement of Ian Brooks announcing as the crowd was going crazy while Alan made history. Even the winner was distracted looking back to see if he did it.

You can see that video here-

RARE Footage! Alan Webb runs 3:59.86 @ Armory

2007 New Balance Games The Armory, NYC, NY     January 20th, 200

Alan winning the mile at New Balance Games 2007 (Photo courtesy of letsrun.com)

Next Saturday Alan’s race is scheduled to go at 4:48 pm eastern.

In the men’s mile field (what we know so far):

Matt Centrowitz (2 time World Championships silver medalist at 1500; in Alan’s opinion best miler the US has ever had for championships)

Nick Willis (3 time Olympian and Silver Medalist in Bejing). Representing New Zealand, he’s been rock solid since his days at Michigan under legendary coach Ron Warhurst. He’s already run 3:55.98 outdoors in his home country earlier this year and days ago solidified the win against a tough field at the New Balance Games in 3:57.41.

Lawi Lalang (4 + x NCAA champion in cross country and track); he ran the UW track record of 7:44.2 in the 3K solo from the gun last week. No Olympic credentials behind his name because he’s Kenyan, but he’s good. His brother, Boaz Lalang went against Alan to win Drake 2011 after Alan beat him in the road mile earlier that week).

Chris O’Hare (2012 NCAA Indoor Mile champion) – Also was in that Drake mile a few years ago (He beat Alan by .003 seconds!) in a great finish. More recently he broke the collegiate mile record last year here in 3:52.98!

Will Leer (one of the best 1500 US guy not to make an Olympic/ World team but has come very close). Will is a former D3 guy who has stepped up and made lots of noise at the professional level with 3:55.66 PR in the mile. Also a decent fisher man who is highly competitive at Bananagrams. It would be a toss up of who could claim the championship title in a field of Will, Nick Willis or myself. (Sorry Alan, you wouldn’t even make it out of the Bananagram prelims).

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With the Willis crew (before kids) in 2011. Friends only outside the track; Nick Willis is a fierce competitor at the mile distance!

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Alan getting all the brain power he needs from milk and a sandwich to improve his Banangrams abilities.

Back to the topic of the race:

The Wanamaker Mile men’s record is 3:51.21, set by Lopez Lomong of the USA last year. It’s going to be fast. These guys aren’t just going for sub 4, although that is what Alan is really hoping for to close off his career. Last week he was feeling the strain of being sick and forced it early in the mile (finishing with a 4:03.52; winner 3:57.71) while his debut this season was a better (on 1/18) in 4:02.81 with a strong close.

I made Alan do his homework this past week as we watched some recent race videos and older ones. (Note this was a FIRST. I had never had success with offering to do this with him in the past! I hope this is a good thing).

He knows he might just have to bring every ounce of energy just to hang off the back with these guys. Either way, I reminded him of the pain of a 5000 (from this summer) and he agrees that the mile is much easier to swallow. If you’re running a good 5K you are usually feeling terrible for at least 2K of the race. The mile hurts pretty bad but you only have to suck it up with a few laps to go. He’s ready for this, excited for the challenge and realistic about his abilities.

If you are interested in catching the action here are your options:

Watch in personTickets are still for sale!  Joanie and I are excited to attend our first track race ever in NYC.

On TV – NBCSN will be showing 18 events (including the Wanamaker Mile LIVE) from 3-5pm ET.

On the webUSATF.TV is also showing a 2 hour free live web broadcast from 5-7pm.

Check updates for commentary, news, interviews and recaps on these links -

Flotrack – Milrose Games 2014

LetsRun.Com (Milrose page)

Also check out these articles from this past weekend’s Oregonian paper -

Webb Moves Forward, At Peace with Decision to Leave Track This summer when Alan began the transition to triathlon,  he finally started shedding the weight of expectations – those of others, and more significantly, his own….

Is it REALLY Over? Coach Marcus gives his thoughts on the subject of Alan’s retirement.

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Mary Cain’s future competition at the end of her career as this one’s gets started?? Coach Jon Marcus has already started working with her as of 13 months ;) 

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The Wife’s Perspective on a Career Change

As of 2014 our family will be officially going through some big changes as Alan makes the transition from runner to triathlete. News broke earlier this week on Alan’s “retirement”. It’s a different retirement than most professional runners go through since he’s actually going to be training more and likely will be continuing to run in races regularly.

Not by choice he is no longer with Nike and realistically will no longer be looking to make any World Championships or Olympics on the track. Since 2007, it has been a bumpy road with so many twists, turns and setbacks that has left Alan unable to recover to his full strength he once had. Witnessing someone continue to exert the same drive and discipline in his training day in, and day out without success has been tough. One disappointment after another and failure to fulfill his potential with his talent has not been for lack of effort. It is unsustainable to continue fighting especially from a psychological standpoint. At this point it makes no sense to keep driving the nail into the ground to leave him bitter. Its been a great run and Alan is very grateful for the success he has had.

alanCvilleSince summer, my coach Jon Marcus, has taken over the role as coach for Alan as well. Jon knew what Alan did when he was training under Alberto, he knew what he did with Vigilante and he knows what Alan did with Jerry. Not only that, but being a best friend to Alan, he knows the guy. And he was the first and only person to shoot down the idea of triathlon when Alan mentioned it this summer. Jon knows the lack of consistency to stick with one training plan has been a big reason for the lack of results and the last thing he wanted to see was Alan jumping ship again first sign of failure.

What makes some guys the best is they find what works for them and stick to that plan. Bernard Lagat may be 39 years old, but he has got the “what works for Bernard Lagat plan down”. Even with Scott Raczko, Alan had his best years, but there was still a lack of consistency in their training plans which resulted in rollercoaster results. Jon was not initially supportive in this change to triathlon because he has seen the amount of changes Alan has gone through the past 5 years. He did not want this to be another cop out of trying something (Jerry) for less than a year; giving up because it failed to work right away. With another year past followed by a 13:37 5000m on the track, 7th place at the Turkey Trot in sub 14 and a dismal 32nd place at Clubs after chasing after the win; it’s confirmation that its time to pursue his next dream.

With all these changes, we can’t go back. Were there mistakes made? Yes. Stupid decisions. Definitely. What’s done is done and the only thing we have is now and the future. Could Alan possibly keep plugging along getting the formula right to train and maybe run 3:53 in the mile or 13:15 for 5K? Possibly. Would anyone really care? Likely not since it would be a shadow of what he once did when he ran 3:46 and was part of America’s hope for distance running. Could he make another world team and be in contention for a medal? Doubtful. He’s not delusional and knows the level of competition has stepped up big time since he first turned professional in the early 2000s. Would Alan really have the mentality and belief in himself after all that has happened to make the sacrifices knowing the chances for a full comeback are so slim? Probably not. The heavy burden of constantly falling short of your goals takes a big toll and carries over. Winning is a habit and so consequently, losing becomes a habit. Once you lose your momentum, it is very hard to bring it back when your confidence is down.

So.. no more lamenting the past, the start of a new career is just around the corner. In March he will step on the line to compete in his first olympic distance triathlon. The US could use more talent. In the 2012 Olympics, with 3 open spots, only 2 men represented the US including 37 year old veteran Hunter Kemper in his 4th Olympic appearance. The US men have never won a medal after its first appearance in the Olympic games in Sydney (2000).

Currently one of the of the best female triathletes Gwen Jorgensen was once a standout runner which has brought her weapon of speed on the road to become a threat to the world scene. High school sub-4 minute miler Lukas Verzbicas, decided to make the switch to triathlon after only a season of collegiate running. He didn’t get to show his full potential yet after suffering in a bike accident which threatened his ability to even walk in 2011.

Lukas is healthy now, and it was funny that 2 of the 5 people to ever break 4 in high school are now on the same path. This past October, on a trip to watch a San Diego triathlon, Alan was in a pool workout with the kid he had once handed over the Gatorade recipient award to less than 5 years ago. Jesse Thomas, “Mr. Lauren Fleshman”, a former standout steepler at Stanford has made his second career triathlon but also had to overcome recent injury of a broken neck from a bike crash.

Sean Jefferson, another successful runner turned triathlete made history when he and his brother John became the first set of twins to ever break 4:00 in the mile in the same race. Soon all these boys will meet again.

There’s big competition but big hope. The 2012 Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee from Great Britain raced in the 10,000m at Stanford to run 28:32 this past spring. Not discounting the strength of these guys in the water and bike. It is just exciting to know Alan has a chance. The thought of racing this sport brings him excitement.

His abs may have been ripped from all that swimming...

His abs may have been ripped from all that swimming…

but it would take a few years before his legs caught up.

but it would take a few years before his legs caught up.

As a successful swimmer, he could have been pretty good if he would not have started running. He was definitely built for middle distance running over swimming, because my wingspan dominates his by maybe 3 inches and we are only an inch apart in height.  During his freshman year in high school and last competitive season in the pool (while also competing in cross country and track), he came fairly close to qualifying for U.S. Junior Nationals in multiple events. See times below.

Swim times from his last big competition – 1998 Potomac Valley Champs meet-  (qualifying times in red) *many are PRs

100 Breast – 1:00.79 (59.49)
200 Breast – 2:12.09   (2:09.79)
200 IM – 2:00.1 (1:56.29)
400 IM – 4:11.99 (4:08.09)
500 Free – 4:47.00  (4:39.59)
1650 Free – 16:44.4 (16:13.69)

All in 3 days, he had no problem doing 9 races (including prelims and finals).

Unfortunately for Alan, this won't be the kind of bike he'll be riding

Unfortunately for Alan, this won’t be the kind of bike he’ll be riding

Since the summer, Alan has began to make swimming a vital part of his weekly routine and has seen big jumps in improvement from these last 6 months. The bike – another question. In high school he worked in a bike shop and started riding occasionally. This past fall he finally replaced his 13 year old bike (Thanks to Athlete’s Lounge in Portland). The first few weeks, he got a flat tire almost every single ride. No joke, I got the phone call to pick him up just about every time he was out there. After hearing about all these triathletes getting in bike accidents, I’m excited that he minimized some of his chance with the decision to get rollers. This just means another quality memory for Joanie of Alan wearing his altitude mask while he sweats intensely for hours with the windows open throughout the winter.

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Before age 2, Joanie already has training with the mask down

Throughout his entire career the question has popped up  “What if Alan did triathlon”. I always wished there were 2 of him, because I know he can be awesome combining the 3 sports. Alan is only doing this because I fully support him. He knows the toll it takes on the family to train endless hours each day and felt guilt after things have not been going as well as he had planned. There’s no way I’d dissuade him to stop pursuing his Olympic dreams. I can’t wait to see what he can do.

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We Be Clubbin

Recently the USATF Club cross race has become what I believe the most competitive cross country event in the US (based on depth not top runners). True, the U.S. Nationals in February has still got more studs to make it tougher to win or be top 10. I’m talking from the standpoint if you happen to be a local standout and want a true test of fitness among your peers – look no further than the club xc race where you will get a good solid ass whopping if you aren’t bringing your absolute A game.

Although my 23:18 was possibly my slowest 6K in my life, I was more than satisfied with my 53rd place this year after all I had gone through to get there.  The winner from Colorado was Laura Thweatt in 5:50 pace; I proudly managed 6:15 pace 58 seconds back from my BAC teammate Carrie Dimoff who finished an amazing 10th. Kristen Rohde, who creamed me by 41 seconds last month in a 3K time trial (running 9:24) was only 17 seconds ahead in 38th. My highest finish in this race happened in 2007 when I was 16th – 49 seconds from winner Delilah DiCrescenzo in a moderately difficult course filled with slop and snow melt (AKA great fun for me and not for the majority of the runners).

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In the sea of runners with Anna Connor, Maggie Callahan, Joanna Murphy and Lauren Fleshman

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Magically racing while pregnant

What really motivated me to stay in contention for the top 50 this year was the number “79” – My place at Club nationals in 2011 while I was 13 weeks pregnant (21:53 at 5:52 pace; 2 minutes behind winner Brie Felnagle). No matter how unprepared I was from my lack of training in November and December, I couldn’t be worse than a pregnant Julia Webb.

I didn’t realize when I was watching the movie “What to Expect when Expecting”  in theater the spring before giving birth that for a while I was  that “magical pregnant unicorn”. To be in the top third (of nearly 300 highly competitive women) while continuing to provide life in that 22 minute window for a growing human as your body is swimming with hormones that make you cry over a Pampers commercial is no joke! Luckily I was only about 5 pounds over my normal weight and although unproven, likely could have still completed the NYC High Heel Dash in under 35 seconds for 150m (and I don’t even wear heels!) I actually could have done even better but I flew in the night before and didn’t give myself enough time to adjust from the long flight from VA to the state of WA. Only a week later I crushed it with a 2nd place finish at the Celtic Solstice in Baltimore on a hilly 5 mile course in 29:34 (5:54 pace).

To compare these tightly packed fields of cross country harriers who show up for the Club race in December, I am reflecting on my experience at US Nationals when I “competed” unpregnant and healthy in the race in 2009. I finished in 26th place -which was over 3 minutes behind winner Emily Brown (we once were in the same training group at WI Camp of Champs the summer of 2001; unfortunately she must have gotten more out of that camp experience since she was a professional runner for New Balance as I remained “professional wannabe”) A day with unseasonably warm weather, on a tough hilly course very similar to this year in Bend, I ran 30:12 for 8K- and somehow finished in the top 30! I went out way too hard on the first 2K loop and ended up a full minute slower each consecutive lap while stopping to walk at the top of the hill and take water. I guess you could say I was almost walking in this year’s race at the final steep uphill but so were most people* in the race.

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Winger post race

*this DOES NOT include my pal Jena Winger- she owned the hills!

For the race in Bend, I could not have been happier for myself to run on a course that took all the speed out of everyone’s legs. I live for the tough courses filled with technical turns, hills and slop. The only thing I feared is that this wouldn’t be good for Alan and I was right. He shies away from any trail runs unless they are wide and smooth enough to mimic track workouts. In Portland, the trail scene is endless, but he has only been on Wildwood to run maybe 1 time in the 3 years we’ve lived here. He frequently drives 45 minutes to Camas, WA for the 3 miles of groomed trail along Lacamas Lake.

The night before the race brought back a memory of our last run together in Wisconsin before we married in 2010. He had stopped in West Bend (my dad’s hometown) after flying into Milwaukee, a city I had worked in during a couple summers in college. Alan wanted to know if there were any great places to run (not on a road) and of course I knew the place I used to love to explore. I promised it was great for running; but this was my style of running. I figured one run through some windy woods would be a fun outing. We entered a rough section of the  “ice age trail” which consisted of rocky twisting terraine, the ground completely covered beyond visibility with leaves- typical for what happens during October.

A note that the only time I can keep up with Alan without going sub tempo effort is in trails and this time he halted to a shuffle about 9 minute pace, cursing me out for bringing him to such a crap place to run and making fun of my “skiing” form. He yelled, “Why do you think you run like an old man!? You have to keep your legs low to the ground and shuffle so you don’t trip. Now I look exactly like you!” Probably true, but he couldn’t even just let go for once and enjoy a nice little adventure run through the woods with his bride to be!? I laugh now at how furious he had become with steam literally coming out of his ears, until miles later we finally came to a clearing before exiting to the road. Alan took off running sub 5 pace to drop me and express his anger that I had considered that a place to run.

This brings up another point that I always wanted to compete in the USATF Mountain running championships, and just have to wait til the race coordinates with my schedule. Note to USATF, please find a suitable location in Oregon and host it here soon. Or look no further than River’s Edge Golf Course in Bend!

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No smiles at the finish but maintaining excellent bladder control

Bend is situated at an altitude of 3600 ft which meant an easy break for anyone with the words “Boulder” or “Flagstaff” in the same line of their name in the results page. This also meant a significant disadvantage to us sealevel dwellers who haven’t been sleeping in our altitude tents and other hematocritly challenged athletes like myself. I had never raced above 1000 ft but wasn’t too nervous since I had experienced a few workouts in Mammoth Lakes above 7000 ft and did not pass out.

I knew time was out the window and ran blindly, praying I wouldn’t completely run out of gas until it was time to turn for home on the final sprint to the finish. I timed it perfect. I got out hard as we went straight uphill through the lumpy grass for 500m before a sharp turn into a treacherous section of downhill where I witnessed runners falling and flying off the trail. I recalled the grimaces and misery of the men during the masters race as we were warming up and flashed a smile a couple times during the race just to remind myself how great this was to be out there. Unfortunately if you see a photo finish of me, I was unable to smile due to severe oxygen debt to my brain while I was still trying to control movement in my limbs.

For Alan he was out there for one reason and that was to win. As he took off hard leading the pack for the first 2 of 5 loops, I cringed as I was screaming at him to “let the other guys do the work”. When he started to fall back spectators thought I was nuts as I was yelling for him to man up along the lines of “There’s Max King!! Get him!!!”  It was no use, as I could see his frustration as he was breaking down the steep downhill section and signs of “giving up” were all over his face as the race progressed with the leaders out of sight.tracktown

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Ryan Bak (804) is thinking after hurdling a guy on the ground for the 2nd loop in a row, “Am I the only one left standing?!”

He quotes “That race was one of the poorest in my entire career. I don’t think I’ve ever finished that low in place” – with his 32nd place finish. Can anyone prove that? Not too surprised based on his training preferences that he couldn’t pull it off, as many people struggled. The Zap Fitness guys who competed in the Richmond 8K and San Jose Turkey Trot were right there with Alan in Bend. Also Alan would like to say to the course designer “Thanks Max King” (sarcasm) :) I personally would like to thank him for this true cross country experience, so “Thanks Max King” (no sarcasm).

The winner 29 year old Joseph Gray ran like a champ and used his technical trail experience and toughness as a former USA Mountain running champion. And doubters check this fact out – as white men can’t jump, old men on the brink of turning 30 can still run fast! Gray and 4th place dad Brent Vaughn are almost the same age as Alan!

Select Results for all your statistic nerds

USATF Club Nationals XC – 12/24/13 at River’s Edge Golf Course
Men’s 6 mile

1. Joseph “mountain running lover” Gray      Club Northwest     WA 31:05  (5:01 pace)
2. Sean Quigley                            Boulder Track Club                   CO 31:11  5:02
3. Maverick Darling                    Wisconsin Runner                    WI 31:18  5:03
4. Brent Vaughn                          Champions League                   CO 31:20  5:03
15. Max “damn him” King          Central Oregon                         OR 31:42 5:06
27. Kevin Schwab                         ZAP Fitness                               NC 32:08  5:11
 32. Alan “mountain running hater” Webb        Nike                  OR 32:14  5:12
34. Jesus Romo                       New Balance Silicon Valley         CA 32:15  5:12
36. Cole Atkins                             ZAP Fitness Reebok                  NC 32:20  5:13
39. Bobby April                            Playmakers Elite                        MI 32:22  5:13
40. Matt Cleaver                          unattached                                  GA 32:24  5:13
41 Cameron Bean                             ZAP Fitness Reebok             NC 32:28  5:14
44 Phillip Reid                              Asics Aggies                                CA  32:34  5:15
83 Devon Monson                        Adidias/RogueAC                     TX 33:17  5:22
168 German “hating mountains even more” Fernandez    Nike     OR  34:37  5:35

Here are other recent road race results for comparison– it looks like me and Mr. Schwab live for these kind of races unless he had a bathroom stop in the Richmond 8k? (No judgements; that happened to me in 2008 – 30:38 for 16th place)

Richmond 8K 11/15/13
4. Cameron Bean   23:03  (4:38 pace)
6. Bobby April    23:08   4:39
7. Alan Webb      23:10   4:39
8. Cole Atkins    23:17   4:41
21. Kevin Schwab  25:13   5:04

San Jose Turkey Trot 5K    11/28/13

5.  Cole Atkins            13:51 (4:28 pace)
7.  Alan Webb            13:56  4:29
11. Phillip Reid          14:13  4:35
13. Devon Monson  14:20  4:37
16. Jesus Romo        14:27  4:39
18. Matt Cleaver       14:29  4:40

USATF Club Nationals XC – Women’s 6K (3.75 miles)
1.  Laura Thweatt             Boulder Track Club              CO  21:43 (5:50 pace)
2.  Amy Van Alstine          Team Run Flagstaff              AZ  22:03   5:55
3.  Deborah Maier               Beasts TC                             WA  22:06   5:56
7.  Brie Felnagle                   Beasts TC                              WA  22:17   5:59
10. Carrie “runs 5 days a week” Dimoff     BAC             OR  22:20   6:00
11. Steph Dinius             New Balance Silicon Valley      CA  22:20   6:00
12. Rochelle Kanuho         Boulder Running Co             CO  22:25   6:01
17. Brittni Hutton              Boulder Running Co              CO  22:31   6:03
13. Jessica Tebo                 Beasts TC                                 WA  22:25   6:01
14. Kellyn Johnson          Team Run Flagstaff                 AZ  22:15   5:59
18.  Jamie Cheever             Beasts TC                               WA  22:33   6:03
26. Sarah Pease                 Adidas/RogueAC                    TX  22:47   6:07
38. Kristen “can’t catch her” Rohde    BAC                    OR  23:01   6:11
53. Julia “shuffler” Webb                      BAC                    OR  23:18   6:15
63  Sara Vaughn                  HTS Elite                              CO  23:32   6:19
64. Rebecca Friday            unattached                            OR  23:33   6:19
119. Anna “speed for days” Connor       BAC                  OR  24:32   6:30
—-

San Jose Turkey Trot 11/28 (just about half the field here decided to also run xc)
Check out my drastic improvement I made in racing within the 2 week period!

3. Brie Felnagle             15:44  (5:04 pace)
7. Deborah Maier         15:56  5:08
9. Jessica Tebo             15:57  5:08
10. Kellyn Johnson    16:00  5:09
11. Rochelle Kanuho   16:05  5:11
13. Brittni Hutton        16:14  5:14
17. Jamie Cheever       16:23  5:17
18. Sarah Pease           16:25  5:17
20. Kristen Rohde     16:31  5:19
22. Sara Vaughn         16:40  5:22
23. Kristen Findley    16:48  5:25
DNF. Julia “antibiotics” Webb (was on about 17:35 pace; only 5:40 per mile- through half way; it probably would have been 19:35 if I had continued on)

P.S. It’s 1:45 PM and I’m still in my PJs on a Saturday :) I could get used to this nontraining lifestyle.

RACE PHOTOS BY MICHAEL SCOTT and TRACKTOWN PHOTO

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A New Year is Here!!!

As the new year begins, I am embracing the new me. The out of shape, regular person me. I ended the year with a positive race experience (Club Nationals – 53rd place) followed by another crash in my overall health which has made even doing a simple 5 mile run an exhausting task. The possibility of a workout at this point is nonexistent which makes no sense to keep inching on. My body is screaming “take a break” after spending the months of August, September, October, November and now December in a weakened state constantly dealing with or overcoming illness. Definitely disappointing after the breakthroughs I experienced in spring and summer, but not unexpected because I have witnessed setbacks continually happening to anyone and everyone who runs long enough. It’s time for me to be a mature athlete by facing the problem and stop brushing it aside like it will just go away with a few nights sleep.

Snuggling with my Joanie Bear

Snuggling with my Joanie Bear

Getting sick isn’t new to me as I struggled to fully recover from mono in college for years (2002-04) and continued to train while I had Lymes Disease for a period of 3 months in 2009 and then dealt with multiple cases of severe poison ivy to the point I was sent to the hospital. Low ferritin levels have also been a limiting factor to my training and consequently I have never had much success dealing with altitude. Now more recently in 2013, I probably had over 10 colds and other more serious conditions from getting Strep B, which I’m still trying to understand. Waa waa, poor me. I know its nobody’s fault but my own through my carelessness by not responding to my body’s obvious warning signs.

It’s not that I was doing my highest mileage, not eating enough, or staying out too late.  In fact my mileage has been at a record low of 30-50 basically the entire year. Not having enough base by adding too much quality could be a reason.  The root of the problem started in August with the aggressive decision to run Hood To Coast. I had just come off of a much needed break and I was not up to par with 20 miles of hard running. I threw in some long runs which felt like death marches only days before the relay began in an attempt to get my body ready since my long runs had pretty much been nonexistent all year. (Great decision, genius!) Tired before the event started, I pushed extremely hard during the actual race and was unable to get the sleep I needed the following week. I had been warned when I kept hearing “you’ll feel bad for a week, don’t be dumb and start working out”. When 2 weeks passed and I still felt terrible I missed the whole point when I thought, “you’ve given yourself an extra week- time to start workouts”. I then ran workouts feeling terrible just to prove I was tough and could handle it- going to the well when I should have been just jogging at most. Eventually I dug myself a nice a deep hole and have yet to come out.

My New Year’s resolution is to just let myself completely rest. I’ll just have to accept starting over from scratch, without feeling sorry for myself as my calf muscle morphs to a blob of unrecognizable skin. Hopefully by February or March I can enjoy the process of coming back from being completely out of shape and mimic the start of 2013 when I ran 5:23 in the mile all out. I know if I can just feel good, I have the ability to come back. The motivation is never a problem. Maybe this next time, I will use my experience to keep myself from pulling another “me” from being stubborn, impatient and dilutional.

As a person of faith, I believe God is timing this setback in running perfectly as I have a few new things to focus on for 2014. One being, to stop making running my ultimate #1 and leave more time to grow spiritually. It’s also making me realize once again, that I do not have ultimate control. Since I didn’t set my priorities straight, God has been speaking to me through this lengthy illness. Basically every time I’ve been trying to run it has been a friendly reminder of “Julia, you need to take a step back and start over. Running isn’t what’s most important in life. You’re not being the best person you could be by living your life this way”.

If you are a coach or someone who isn’t into spiritual revelation I’m sure you would like me to hear something along the lines of “Told you so. Not surprised. You can’t just run hard and through osmosis get faster and one day wake up feeling great if you’ve completely destroyed yourself.” And yes, I hear that too.

I understand it’s not a bad thing when I have the gift to run at my fullest potential, but I just need to figure out how to make this happen without the other areas of my life suffering. At this point helping provide for my family would be a start as Alan is in school.

For the new year, I am happy to say that I have some new distractions in the form of a future career that should help me pass the time before I’m up to start training again. As of February I will be taking over as a Nike “running coach” with Sean Coster for a noon on Tuesday meet up group at the Michael Johnson track. Runners who are employed by Nike or have access to the campus are welcome to come by and get in shape! My second job is working along with my college roommate Bekah Holt Sands (based in San Diego) for the Rock N Roll Portland half marathon. My 3rd and toughest, yet most rewarding job  is being super mom to Joanie Webb. As this takes up a lot of time and energy, I never knew how much I’d enjoy spending my days with a 1.5 year old. It’s almost impossible to have a bad day when you see things through the eyes of a toddler. I think about the fact that I was her age at one time and running was just from here to there on the playground. I’ll have time to get back into it. For now I’m doing my best (and encourage anyone else experiencing a setback) to enjoy the simple things that I never had time to see or do when I was busy training.

Although I struggled this fall, I still managed to get some quality cross country in and for that I am very thankful. My next blog I want to share my experience competing with my husband at Club Nationals cross country race this past month in Bend, OR!

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Celebrate and Save $20!!!!!

Today only 12/12/13 get the best deal on the Rock N Roll half or full marathons- $20 off registration!
Portland’s race is May 18, 2014

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Wanted to get the word out for those interested!

http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/portland

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