Archive | September, 2013

And So It Begins

29 Sep

The fall racing season is officially upon us. Over the next couple of months, the Runnababez will be tearing up the roads all over the midwest. This weekend Jackie and Amanda kicked it off in fine fashion. Walking away with a pair of victories, they set the tone for a fantastic fall.

Running in the Flat as a Pancake (formerly Race to Cure Lymphoma) 10k, Jackie not only took home the win for the women, but also the overall 10k title. With a stellar 37:44 only a couple of months after welcoming the newest member to the Hall family into the world, Jackie let everyone know she’s back and ready to roll.

Sunday saw the dawning of a beautiful morning for a race. Toeing the line at the BAJA Half Marathon in Festus, Amanda threw down a huge PR. Climbing the hills of Jefferson County, Amanda not only was the first female across the line, she set a new course record in 1:26:13.

Congratulations ladies on a FUN. FAST. FABULOUS. start to the fall schedule.

Amanda and Andrew at BAJA Half

Birthday Girl Busts Out A New PR

25 Sep

Saturday’s Miles For Meso fiesta wasn’t the only race you could find a Runnababe lighting up the roads this past weekend. Birthday Girl Carine celebrated another turn of the sun with a shiny new 5k PR. Running in the the Lululemon Athletica Lemon Drop 5K, Carine clipped off a superb 20:13 to finish 6th in a wonderful womens field. Not a bad gift to give yourself, eh? Happy Birthday Carine and congrats on the new PR!

Runnababez take Miles for Meso 5k by Storm!

22 Sep

The Runnababez were well represented this weekend in the Miles for Meso 5k in Alton, IL a popular, competive, HILLY 5k.  The day started out with the open community race, with Jackie Pirtle-Hall finishing 1st overall in her first race, post-pregnancy.  She loved getting back in the racing action, and had a great time racing and with her team mates.  Lauren Hubbard finished 3rd woman overall in the open race.

1 hr later, the Elite 5k got underway, and featured 3 Runnababez!  Marion Kandie finished 4th overall, followed by Cheryl Held 5th, then Lisa Cary 6th.  The elite race had some serious competition with an international field featuring Russian, Moroccan, & Ethiopian competitors.

As always, the Runnababez ran well, and had a great time as well!

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Running Beyond Pregnancy: Postpartum Transition

19 Sep


Running Beyond Pregnancy: Postpartum Transition

As the Runnababez finished up another great Sunday run full of goofy laughter and ridiculous stories, the conversation ensued on giving birth, on motherhood, and on balancing running. And while these conversations have occurred often lately – mostly ending in: alright that’s enough birth/mommy talk for today, I realized I have some experience and knowledge to share with my teammates and other runners who may be contemplating pregnancy yet unsure how it can impact their running. In fact, there have only been a few studies done in the recent years on how pregnancy affects a runner positively and negatively. This research has helped me along my own pregnancy journey while logging 35-40 miles a week up to the day my second daughter, Gwyneth Kate, was born at a healthy 6 lbs.11oz/19 inches – the same exact size as my first born! I’m consistent right?  So now I want to further explore and share postpartum physical and mental challenges and perks the female runner may encounter.

Challenge #1: Pelvis Tilting Forward

Running Clinic Director and professor of orthodics and rehabilitation, Bryan Heiderscheit, set out to explore the running mechanics of pregnant and postpartum runners. The Scientists found that as pregnancy progressed in an active runner, the pelvis started and continued to tilt forward, effecting how the runner landed. Furthermore, six months postpartum, a majority of this forward tilt remained. In addition the runner now displayed a more side-to-side pelvic motion. For instance, the clinic had a mother of two come into the clinic due to hip and back pain 14 months postpartum.  The researchers determined that her pelvis tilted abnormally far forward during running and moved too much side to side, and her right leg struck the ground harder than the left, absorbing 30 percent more force with each stride (Reynolds).

Dr. Heiderscheit responded, Pregnancy and labor stretch the muscles and connective tissues in the abdomen which allows the slightly unmoored pelvis to tilt and sway… I think it’s time we acknowledge that having a baby is going to change how you run.  He emphasized that there is no evidence that mothers are slower or more injury prone postpartum but that things are just going to feel different. (Reynolds).

Solutions: Only doing crunches will not suffice!

  • Target the small, deeper abdominal muscles. Dr. Heiderscheit recommends pulling the belly up and in multiple times and also imagining that you’re cutting off the flow of urine.
  • Engage in traditional strength work: squats, planks, and deep core activation to help stabilize the pelvic area.
  • Try shortening your stride a bit to reduce the pounding experienced on a run.

Perk # 1: Strength and Speed Improvement

Many women actually claim they are stronger and speedier postpartum. Kara Goucher ran a personal best in the marathon (2:24:52) at the 2011 Boston marathon just seven months postpartum. Paula Radcliffe won the 2007 New York City Marathon nine months postpartum. And if you’re thinking like me: well running is their job; so they were probably training extensively through pregnancy, think again! Deena Kastor, who couldn’t even jog through most of her pregnancy, still managed to place sixth at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials- just eleven months postpartum.  In addition, Clara Peterson, who ran 40 miles a week throughout her second pregnancy, came back strong six months postpartum to place sixteenth at the 2012 marathon trials, with what she refers to as the “crazy mom strength people talk about.” According to O’Mara’s article, Can Women Come Back Faster After Pregnancy, Dr. Karen Nordahl (obgyn and author of Fit To Deliver) said women who exercise through pregnancy experience strength increases as a result of working out with additional weightI actually think they do come out stronger, not necessarily fitter. 

Challenge # 2: Mental Focus and Enduring Suffering

During pregnancy, running by feel and staying in touch with your body is essential.  However, as you return to training, including challenging workouts, you may need to re-train your mind to endure the suffering that accompanies fitness gains.  In other words, you are not going to get back to your pre-pregnancy fitness without some lung searing, tough workouts.  This is the complete opposite type of running that you have done during the last year of your pregnancy. Re-teaching your brain to focus and re-learn that your body can endure can be difficult.  For Instance, I had to take well over a year off of any hard running (pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and postpartum) and let my body dictate my slower, relaxed runs.  I am now eight weeks postpartum and have completed a few challenging workouts already; the first few intervals of these “pushed” efforts proved very hard to concentrate and handle, but once I got going, proving to myself I could maintain, the workout got done just as I had planned.  I have a feeling it will be tough like this for some time until I have had some more intense sessions for my mind to draw from.  However, when I think about what I went through to give birth drug-free, I feel like I can endure anything…just as long as my legs can keep up with my mind! Kara Goucher has said, …what was even harder (than losing the weight) was getting back to the competitive mindset.  I ran when I was pregnant, but the number one rule is to never push yourself.  I had to relearn how to push through the pain (Sugar).

Solution: Begin with shorter interval workouts and tempos. With every challenging workout or race you complete, you are sharpening your mental focus and strength.  Be patient with yourself. Time will get you back to your pre-pregnancy volume and intensity. Do not try and match your pre-pregnancy running log; you will only feel defeated and possibly injured. Be smart and patient while not being afraid to suffer a bit.

Perk # 2:  Increases in blood flow, oxygen, human growth hormone, and VO2 max

Pregnancy increases blood flow, oxygen, and human growth hormone.  In fact, there was speculation of pregnancy doping in the past.  The rumor was women were getting pregnant then having abortions just to reap the benefits of these increases (sick!).  According to one study expressed in O’Mara’s article, fifteen pregnant and non-pregnant athletes -at similar levels of exercise- were followed for over fifteen months. The results showed an increase of VO2 max in the pregnant athletes.  Dr. Nordahl states, you’re actually able to maintain physiological effects for up to a year (postpartum).  Clara Peterson adds, I’m doing stuff I never thought I could do, while Alex Allred (Olympic bobsledder) states that multiple studies have shown that moderate exercise throughout pregnancy can result in a happier, healthier pregnancy and mom (O’Mara).

Challenge # 3: Finding Balance

Even Kara Goucher, whose job is running, experienced a meltdown two months postpartum.  She was sleep-deprived and stressed trying to get back into shape running on her treadmill at home.  She told her husband she couldn’t physically keep this up anymore. Goucher realized being a mom and a runner was not going to be easy.  In fact, she said, it took a full year before I felt like myself again.  She quickly rebounded and remembered her passion and love for running.  She said, when I got pregnant, I knew and accepted that running would never be my top priority again.  While I hoped that I would often be able to put as much into it as I always had, I was prepared to make sacrifices as a runner for the sake of being a good mother.  After a tough first several weeks (postpartum), I got some momentum going and was maintaining a good balance.  Colt was doing well and I was getting the hand of being a mother, so I was able to make a full commitment to my running without making any sacrifices as a mother (Goucher).

Breastfeeding may also be a factor in your balancing act.  Kristin Alexander of Chicago who returned to running three weeks postpartum suggests: you have to time it so you feed the baby and get out right away before your milk before your milk comes in again…before this I was engorged and knew the baby was hungry and had to run home with huge breasts!

Solution:  Create a schedule and get the entire family on board.  Whether you wake up early or stop by the trail before heading home after work, make your run an appointment and keep it.  However, do not obsess if you have to miss a run- always be reasonable and flexible.  Understand that family is your first priority. Also, consider a baby sitter. This was part of Goucher’s solution after her early struggles. I can say it is worth the money: healthy mom equals happy mom. Other options are running strollers or treadmill running.  I have pictures of both my kids sleeping in their boppie chairs while I ran on the treadmill postpartum; I think the rhythmic sound of the belt lulled them to sleep!


Perk # 3: Experiencing the Joys

Running increases energy and can provide you quiet time from the demands of motherhood.  For most runs, I arrange a babysitter or go out after my husband returns from work.  I slowly started back to my running routine just two weeks postpartum to help me get through those days after sleepless nights with baby.  Getting outside in the fresh air renewed me and boosted my mood instead of shuffling around the house constantly complaining about how exhausted I was (I sometimes still did that too though!).

Two weeks postpartum, a joyful Deena Kastor shared, the forty-five minutes I walked was more than I slept last night, and it is amazing how that walk recharged me. Kastor shared her experience on her first day back to running after a pregnancy that left her sedentary because her body would have none of it (running). She later exclaimed, I ran! It felt so uplifting to open up my stride and move forward again. Invigorating! For three miles … I felt light and liberated during the run as I reflected on how lucky I am to have a beautiful and healthy three-week-old daughter.  Welcome back!

Kara Goucher states, being a mom has helped me really let go of things, and chill out a bit…I still want all the things I wanted before. I just found something that I care about more.  She has not lost her passion for running just because she has a child.  In fact, she wants another one…when she can fit it into her career!

Jackie’s Tips for Successful Postpartum Running

  • Do not start running without your doctor’s release
  • If you are one of those who will start back before your 6-week appointment, make sure bleeding has ceased.
  • Work on core and overall strength training
  • Do kegel exercises several times a day for about five minutes at a time to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (so you don’t pee your pants!)
  • Run with friends and even grab a coffee after
  • Ditch the watch for a while and just run
  • When you’re ready, begin to practice suffering by inserting a little intensity
  • Wear a really good bra to support those babies!
  • Hire a babysitter once or twice a week while you run: you deserve it!
  • Run in the morning before the family wakes up
  • Purchase a treadmill and a yard gate to surround it for child safety (I would never be able to run as much as I do without my treadmill – it’s well worth the expense and so convenient).
  • Purchase a jogging stroller and take baby with you (wait until baby is 4-6 months old and can control his or her neck muscles).

I hope, if anything my Runnababez friends will look back on this article  when it is their turn to experience this blessing life offers.  Of course, I know they will tell me its not happening anytime soon, someday it will, and I want them to have all the information they need to understand that  their running is not over just because they want to start a family.  In fact, it is only just beginning. All my personal bests, marathon course records, and Olympic trials experience came after I became a mom.

Happy Running mommies and mommies-to-be…Jackie Pirtle-Hall


o       Running and Pregnancy by Chris Lundgren

o       How Pregnancy Changes a Runner’s Body by Gretchen Reynolds

o       Kara Goucher: Losing the Baby Weight Was a Marathon in Itself by Jenny Sugar of Popsugar Fitness

o       Can Women Come Back Faster After Pregnancy? By Kelly O’Mara

o       Goucher Balances Motherhood, training as she Preps for London by Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated

o       Goucher Carrying On Post-Pregnancy by Shira Springer of Globe Staff

o       Kastor, After Pregnancy, Sees Trials as New Start by Jere Longman of The New York Times

o       Kara Goucher’s blog at competitor

o       Deena Kastor’s blog at competitor

Amanda Albrecht places 3rd at Forest Park XC Festival

15 Sep

Amanda ran the Forest Park XC Festival 4k yesterday.  She ran to a 3rd place finish, with a time of 14:54 chopping 40 seconds off her previous 4k XC PR from February of this year!  She figured she would get a good workout in before coaching her Festus high-school runners in their races later in the day.

Amanda is going to be rolling in her upcoming fall races!

Fun. Fast. & Fabulous! = Amanda

Runnababez Sweep United Way 10k!

8 Sep

The Runnababez went 1-2-3 in the United Way 10k in Fenton, yesterday.  Lisa brought home the win in the 10k.  Carine & Lauren worked together pushing each other out of their comfort zones (racing 5k’s), to solid 10k performances!  Fellow Runnababe Monica, Lisa’s sister finished her 1st 10k ever, by winning her age-group!

Way to go Runnababez!

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Be a Mentor – By Coach Cary & Rinky-Dink Syndrome- By Amy Marxkors

4 Sep

Great advice from Coach Cary, help a fellow friend runner out with pointers along your running journey.  Runnababez also believe in helping mentor runners.   Runnbabez have a more exact term they call it , oh ya she is my, “Runnababy,” aka I am taking this runner under my wing to help teach them ways to get to the next level, whether it be college running, post collegiate running, national level running, social running, or marathoning.  It’s always great to have a friend to help you learn ways to get to your next goal & eaze your nerves, whatever it may be!  Because running is always great with company : )

Fellow Runnababe Amy Marxkors also wrote a great article this week for Fleet Feet , that is about believing in yourself before workouts, see below.

Fun. Fast. Fabulous



Think back to when you first started running.  What motivated you stick with it?  How did you learn about the the sport’s culture, idiosyncrasies, and terminology?  (Fartlek.  Snot rockets.  Nipple lube.  Seriously?)  Yes, runners are a fun, friendly and outgoing – but from the outside looking in we are an odd lot.  How did you make it into the inner circle?  For many, the answer is that there was someone there to help guide us on our journey.
None of us were the first person to run, nor will we be the last.  We stand on the the shoulders of those that came before.  One of the things I enjoy most about veteran runners is how giving they are of themselves and their time to help new runners.  Mentoring a new runner seems ingrained in a runner’s DNA.  We all love to give advice and support and tell our outlandish stories about how good new runners have it when compared to us old-timers.  (GU?  We sucked on jawbreakers.  GPS?  We spent hours in our cars measuring our go-to courses.)  But because we are all givers, it’s very easy for the new runner to be overwhelmed with information coming from all sides.  That’s why many of us find a mentor; a single voice that has been there and done that and will use that experience to help you reach your goals.
Mentors not only help others.  Mentoring requires that the mentor gain a better understanding of running and goal setting and training.  Mentors are forced to be stronger than ever in order to support both themselves and their “cadet(s).”  Mentors must be problem solvers and see things through another’s point of view.  It is through these processes that mentors learn more about the,selves and grow as both runners and people.
FLEET FEET’s various training programs utilize the mentorship model to help its team members reach their goals.  Whether they are helping someone finish their first 5k or run a fast marathon, our mentors are second to none.  As an example, consider that one of our mentors and his cadet were recently profiled in Competitor Magazine as part of Saucony’s 26 Strong program.
Sean Walsh and Adam Sholes of the FLEET FEET Marathon Training Program were chosen from many, many applicants to be a part of the 26 Strong program.  Both underwent VO2 Max testing at the FLEET FEET Training Center.  Since late June Sean, a veteran FLEET FEET coach, has been using the heart rate zone information that resulted from the testing to prepare Adam for the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Marathon.  Their marathon training took a small detour when Sean, who ran in this year’s Boston Marathon, paced Adam to a 5k PR at  FLEET FEET’s Unstoppable 5k, which raised funds for the Boston bombing victims.  Sean and Adam are excellent examples of how running is not a zero sum game.  We can all help each other win.
FLEET FEET’s excellent coaches that help their groups each and every season reach their goals.  To read more about Sean and Adam, check out their article here.  And to find out more about how to join a FLEET FEET Training Team, click here.
Good Luck and Happy Racing!
Coach Cary


Posted September 3, 2013 by Amy L. Marxkors | 

I suffer from Rinky-Dink Syndrome. I know because my rinky-dink symptoms often result in rinky-dink results.

I first realized I had Rinky-Dink Syndrome during a scheduled twelve-mile tempo run with eight miles at 15K race pace. It wasn’t an unreasonable workout. In fact, it was very doable. Still, I was intimidated. My weekly mileage had maxed out, and over the past six weeks, I had maintained my highest weekly average… ever. My legs were tired. My body was tired. I seriously doubted my ability to do what the schedule demanded. Plus, it was hot.

My legs feel dead. What if I’m not as fit as I thought? This is going to hurt. I’m going to be devastated if this goes poorly…

I called Mr. Speedy Pants for some advice, informing him of my presumed fate.

“I’m tired. I’m just not feeling it. I just don’t think I can do it,” I lamented.

“Don’t think, kid,” he responded to my concerns. “Just run. Trust your body. Trust your ability. You’re always over-thinking these things. You take yourself out of the game before you even give yourself a chance.”

“I know, but I think maybe I bit off more than I can chew this time around…”

“So what? Maybe you did. Maybe you didn’t. You don’t know. You won’t know until you try, and you’re not going to be able to try to your full potential if you go into it defeated.”

By the time the tempo run arrived two hours later, I was convinced it was a hopeless case. Resignedly, I strapped on my Garmin and walked up to the paved running path stretching alongside a lone country highway. Two miles of warm-up. Eight miles at pace. Two miles of cool down. I looked up at the sun, which was blazing across the pavement, causing low clouds of steam to rise from the blacktop. It was late morning, and it was hot. The dog days of August hot.

“This is going to be awful,” I murmured. And with that, I began.

I ran at a slow, easy pace, trying to loosen up my muscles and willing my blood to flow through my body with some kind of purpose.

I’m exhausted, I thought. One mile at warm-up pace, and I’m exhausted. This can’t be good.

I entered the second mile, hopeful of a miraculous burst of energy. It didn’t happen. I still wasn’t ready for 15K race pace. I decided to delay the tempo by running a third warm-up mile and giving my body a few more minutes to perk up. It didn’t work.

Okay. Time to go. Ugh. I feel awful.

I felt like I was sprinting. In reality, I was too slow. I urged my legs to move faster and checked my time constantly, but the pace felt impossible. My legs were dead. My body hurt. And twice I nearly ran off the road while looking at my watch.

Half-mile down.

Oh, my gosh… What is wrong with me?

Finally, my watch beeped the completion of mile one at tempo pace. It was the longest mile I have ever run. There was no way I was going to be able to keep pace for another seven miles. I was already defeated.

Exactly two minutes into the second tempo mile, I slowed to a walk, hands on my hips, gasping for air.

“It’s not gonna happen,” I announced to the squirrel that scurried across the path in front of me.

And then, exhausted from the single mile of hard work, irritated by the sun and a burgeoning sense of failure, I sat down, right there on the asphalt path. It was over. I wasn’t going to tempo anything that day.

I watched as the squirrel ran back across the path, a small twig clasped in its mouth. He looked at me quizzically. I returned his gaze with a gloomy stare. It was the first time I had ever completely abandoned a pace run.

It was horrible.

Thirty minutes later, I pulled into my driveway, grabbing my cell phone as I threw my car into park. I was dejected and demoralized, convinced I had overstepped my ability as a runner and was now suffering the consequences.

“I sat down,” I complained to Mr. Speedy Pants over the phone. “Sat. Down. There was no way in the world I could have hit my time. I think I need to pick a different training program—I’m in over my head.”

Unlike me, Mr. Speedy Pants remained calm, unfazed by my jeremiad.

“Okay, well, relax, kid. Don’t throw in the towel just yet. What have your times been on your other runs?”

I relayed a series of numbers, numbers that had been my life for the past two months.

“Give it two more weeks. See how your body feels. If you have two weeks of bad runs, well, we can always change things up. But,” he said, “you’re running high mileage. You’re going to feel tired. You’re supposed to be tired. We just need to get that goofy head of yours in shape.”

I knew Mr. Speedy Pants was right. I was intimidated by hard running. Track workouts, pace runs, and races intimidated me because they required running hard. And running hard doesn’t come naturally to me. Running hard is, well, hard.

Sure, I want to be one of those runners who ooze elegance and efficiency with every stride. But I am not. If Nike ever made a “Run Ugly” campaign, I would be the poster child. My body was not built to run fast. I may be a strong runner, I may be a dedicated runner, and I may run for all I’m worth, but I am not elegant or efficient. I am rinky-dink.

The thing is, if you think like a rinky-dink runner, you’re gonna run like a rinky-dink runner.

There I was, doing everything I could to build up my body for race day. I ran long runs and track workouts. I stayed hydrated and fueled. I went to bed early and woke up even earlier. I stretched and iced and stretched some more.

And yet, for all of my efforts, I was neglecting my mental fitness. Worse than that, I was tearing it down. I thought I was being a realist. I thought I was simply acknowledging my “place” in the running world. I didn’t fear defeat in tough runs. I expected it. Doubt masqueraded as humility, and I bought it.

And in the process, I sabotaged my own training.

As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” It’s a simple as that. The phenomenon of “self-fulfilling prophecy” and the “placebo effect” has been proven in every area of life. Our assumptions and anticipations regarding an event affect the results of the event itself. Training is no different: Our expectations going into races and workouts can and will influence their outcome.

Running is no place for self-deprecating modesty. We can be honest about our ability. We can acknowledge those who are faster than we are and realize our limitations. But everyone has limitations. So what? We still have to be confident. We still have to be gutsy. Otherwise, we’re simply sealing our own fates, and who in her right mind would concede defeat before the race even begins?

Don’t let Rinky-Dink Syndrome ruin all the hard miles you’ve logged. All the physical training in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t have the mental fortitude to back it up. You have to be confident to run well. Because no one ever worried himself to a PR.

Trust me. I’ve tried.

Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious RunnerHer second book, Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Storywill be released in 2014.