Happy holiday run streak!

I was really bummed to miss the Galloping Gobbler yesterday, which is traditionally how I like to start my holiday run streak. It’s Fort Wayne’s version of a huge Thanksgiving Day parade, with 4,000+ runners, many of whom come in costume.

holidayrunstreakI hadn’t signed up, having spent my race budget allowance trying out last weekend’s Turkey Trot trail run, but I was hoping to photograph the race for the newspaper and run at least part of the course going from vantage point to vantage point. But the assignment was quashed by budgetary issues, and so Colleen and I went out before dawn yesterday for our own private Thanksgiving morning run closer to home.

It only takes a mile a day to complete the Holiday Run Streak, which makes it a great project for a beginning runner. Technically you’re supposed to do it every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas or New Year’s. But you could still start up today even if you missed yesterday.

And you can be creative with your run. Our oldest daughter texted that she got in her mile shortly before midnight by running in place while working third shift. In past years, I’ve sometimes started a 2-mile run a little before midnight and wound up getting two days’ credit on a single run.

Yesterday I jogged a mile with Colleen to get the streak started, then did some intervals on the treadmill while I was cooking. When I had pumpkin bread in the oven that looked like it needed to bake another 10 minutes or so, I’d go do 10 minutes on the treadmill at a 1 minute hard, 2 minutes easy pace.

I’m really looking forward to this, because I feel like my running has lacked focus lately. The holiday run streak isn’t really about training so much as fun. I always try to sneak in some “adventure” or offbeat runs to mix things up. There’s a little bit of that counting down to Christmas feel. And it’s a great way to make sure you’re getting in at least a little bit of a calorie burn each day.


A scene from a past Galloping Gobbler, when it was much colder than it was yesterday. Alas, we did not get out our turkey hats this year.

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Am I allergic to cold weather racing?

I’m sure I’m not the only runner on the planet this happens to, but sometimes it feels that way: Why is it that my sinuses get so destroyed after cold weather races?

I was psyched to try a new trail run on Saturday, the Fox Island Turkey Trot 5K. (Well, new to me. The race itself has been around for at least 20 years.) I’d done a sprint triathlon at the nature preserve a couple of times, but never run the trails there before.


Getting ready to enter the trail. That’s me on the far left.

I went out easy, thinking I’d just enjoy experiencing a new trail. About half a mile in I started picking up the pace, passing people at a pretty steady clip, and by the time we got to the lake I was pretty much into the spirit of the race, picking out people to follow and pick off. There were a few hills in the middle mile, but the course didn’t require any tricky footwork. We mostly ran over either grass or dirt, with very few roots or rocks to contend with.


I finally tried out my new trail shoes at this race. They felt awesome!

My time was about what I expected, given the slow start: 31:56, a 10:18 pace. My sister and I often run at that pace on our “home” trail (though we went slower on Sunday in the snow).

And yet the rest of the day after Saturday’s race I was pretty much debilitated by flooded sinuses. Am I allergic to cold weather 5Ks?

Three Thanksgivings in a row I spent welded to a Kleenex box before I realized the common link might’ve been going all-out in that morning’s Galloping Gobbler. The next year I took it easy jogging and walking with our youngest and didn’t have any problems.

Longer cold-weather races like the HUFF 50K don’t seem to bother me, probably because the slower pace doesn’t send cold air rushing through my nasal passages.

I suppose what happened on the Turkey Trot was that my average pace was deceptive. I did go pretty hard in some parts of the race, caught up in the fun of the chase, but my overall time didn’t reflect that because I started out at little more than a jog.

After several hours of misery it occurred to me to try the Flonase our son had used during a recent sinus infection. That seemed to help. So maybe next time I’ll make sure to squirt some of that OTC steroid spray in my nose right after I cross the finish line.


Luckily I felt much better on Sunday’s run in the snow. It was crazy how the snow was weighting down tree limbs hanging over the path!


Traci and her daughter Madison at one of the downed trees across the trail on Sunday.

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#90Seconds: Super-Yogi Colleen Saidman Yee bares her soul and says YOU ARE ENOUGH

yogaforlifeLoved this interview with “the badass first lady of yoga,” who just happens to be the big sister of my husband’s high school buddy Nick.  Can’t wait to read her book, especially now that I’m finally hitting a yoga class regularly for the first time in my life and getting a tiny glimpse of what a difference it can make in your mind as well as your body. (The best part: My daughters have been going with me.) Thanks, Elizabeth, for cluing us into what looks like an amazing read.

Source: #90Seconds: Super-Yogi Colleen Saidman Yee bares her soul and says YOU ARE ENOUGH

Huh. This is my first attempt at “reblogging” someone else’s post, and it didn’t work out quite as I thought. Oh well, guess the link will take you there…

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Seeing a trail run through a newcomer’s eyes

Madison, Traci and I after Saturday's 5.75-mile trail run.

Madison, Traci and I after Saturday’s 5.75-mile trail run.

I’ve been suffering this year from periodic bouts of running angst — which I’m not going to bore you with here, other than to say it probably stems from not having a clear goal right now.

Yes, I’ve won a couple of (very small) age-group races. But I haven’t raced much, in part because I haven’t really had anybody to race with lately. My kids just aren’t as into running as they used to be, and my primary running partner, my sister, doesn’t like racing all that much.

So imagine how cool it was to show up for Saturday’s trail run and see that my 17-year-old niece, Madison, was joining us.

She’s been a swimmer, volleyball player and tennis player, but hasn’t run much in the past. A couple of years ago when she ran with us she struggled a bit on a 3-miler, so we weren’t sure how she’d do on the full loop of Trail 5, which is just under 6 miles. But she kept up, and every time we asked if she wanted to take a short cut back, she said no. She didn’t appear to be struggling. Unlike her mom, who begins to sweat if you even mention the word, she was as dry as an antiperspirant commercial.

By the time we got to the bison habitat about 2/3 of the way through, it became clear Madison intended to finish the loop with us.

Something else became clear as well: At some point this run had become less about pandering to a kid, both in terms of the pace and conversation, and more like simply having another runner along.

“It feels like we’re running in a pack,” my sister said. “This is fun.”

And it was. As much as I’ve appreciated running with my sister the last six years, it felt good to have company along.

It also gave us a new appreciation for the beauty of the trail, seeing it through a newbie’s eyes. Madison said it reminded her of the Smoky Mountains, only without the hills, and I knew what she meant. On some level it was reminiscent of  our family hikes in Tennessee.

Though Ouabache doesn’t have any spectacular water falls or breathtaking mountain views – it’s pretty low in prestige when stacked up against even the other Indiana state parks – anytime you can run several miles through woods on a crisp autumn day, you tap into that natural beauty that people drive for hours to experience on a vacation.

Add the runner’s high to that nature fix, and you’ve got pure bliss.

It doesn’t last the whole run, just a few seconds at a time. But it was cool to remember how special trial running can be — and to help someone else experience it for the first time.

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What happened to Colleen’s blog posts?

Our youngest was 10 when she began writing a weekly post for this blog, ostensibly about being a chubby kid who loves sports and fitness but sometimes on other topics as well.

Colleen as a fourth-grader when she began writing her blog posts.

Colleen as a fourth-grader when she began writing her blog posts.

Neither of us ever dreamed she’d keep it up for 2 ½ years, but that’s how it worked out. Now that she’s a busy 13-year-old seventh-grader, it seems like it’s getting harder for her to make time to write blog posts. She may contribute a post here and there, but for now she’s taking a break.

In the meantime, here are some of her favorite posts to look back on:

“Size doesn’t matter” — June 28, 2013

“Iron Kid triathlon” — July 23, 2013

“My teacher the triathlete” — Sept. 27, 2013

As a sixth-grade cross country runner.

As a sixth-grade cross country runner.

“Crusader of the week!” — Oct. 3, 2014

“My first bike race!” — Sept. 18, 2015

“Tri the Creek” — Sept. 25, 2015

“My first day as a teenager” — Oct. 9, 2015

Making headlines as a determined kid triathlete.

Making headlines as a determined kid triathlete.

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Our family’s unofficial ‘diet guru’

In the unlikely event we manage to get everybody together in time to shoot a photo for my parent’s Christmas card this year — and in the astronomically less likely event someone managed to slide a giant scale under the assembled group of 23 — it would be interesting to see the difference in total weight since last year.

Even with a few still-growing kids in the mix, that number on the scale would be down for the year, primarily thanks to the efforts of a couple key family members, led by my sister-in-law Darcy.

I don’t know how much weight she’s lost, but it’s been inspiring to see the change. And the person who helped inspire her, as well as my mom, was the subject of this week’s “Adventures in Food and Fitness” column.

Vickie Betz is their weight-loss coach on the Take Shape for Life program. When I went to interview her about Type 2 diabetes for Diabetes Health magazine, I was expecting some kind of covert sales pitch for the Medifast meal products that program uses. Instead, I discovered she’s a low-key, likable person who underwent program training at the request of the doctor she works for — and only then as a plan of “last resort” for patients who struggled with the simpler low-fat, low-carb diet her clinic prefers patients use. (And that’s what Vickie herself uses now in her third year of maintaining a 45-pound weight loss.)

Turns out that I found talking to Vickie pretty inspiring myself. Though I’m too cheap to ever consider a diet that encourages you to buy stuff, I do like the idea of eating a small portion of something healthy every 2-3 hours rather than three larger meals. It seems like it’s easier to scale back if you know it’s never all that long til you can eat again.

Vickie Betz, the subject of this week's newspaper column, has helped motivate some people in my family to shed weight.

Vickie Betz, the subject of this week’s newspaper column, has helped motivate some people in my family to shed weight.

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The W.O.O.F. 5.3 mile trail race

This bend in the trail is always pure mud. Normally we slow down here to look for the skinny tree on the edge that marks the best crossing point. But this time I’m being chased. And so I zip to our secret crossing point at full speed, grabbing the tree for just an instant to help propel me around the turn and onto dry ground ahead.

It felt, for just an instant, like a scene from some action movie where circumstances change your familiar surroundings into a high-stakes chase.

“You can’t do this in a road race,” I thought gleefully during one of my favorite highlight-reel moments of the W.O.O.F. 5.3-mile trail race at Ouabache State Park.

It’s a good thing I bought only my overactive imagination to Saturday’s race rather than the age-grouper zeal I started out the year with, or I would’ve been sorely disappointed.

Though I had no idea which runners were in my age group, turns out I placed 20 seconds behind the first-place finisher and 10 seconds behind the second-place finisher to wind up dead last, third out of three, at 56.54.8, a 10:44 pace.

On the up side: My time was better than the second-place finisher in the 40-49 age group, and just a minute behind that division’s winner.

But this time it was all for fun, and this race – which I’ve never been able to fit into my schedule before even though it’s practically in my own back yard, state park-wise —  really was a hoot.

Here’s another thing you can’t do at a road race, primarily because they tend to draw such bigger crowds: Wind up sitting with some of the folks who turn out to have been your competitors at the postrace cookout, quaffing bison burgers and beer.

Wish I'd gotten a picture from the race, but I guess nobody else did, either: This one I got off the web site just to help set the scene is from way back in 2011. Oh well, I guess that's part of what contributes to the ultra casual feel of the event.

Wish I’d gotten a picture from the race, but I guess nobody else did, either: This one I got off the web site just to help set the scene is from way back in 2011. Oh well, I guess that’s part of what contributes to the ultra casual feel of the event. Next time around, though, I’ll make sure I’m in better shape so I can tackle the 16-mile race instead of just the 5.3 miler.

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