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Respecting the Boston Marathon

6 Jun

Unless you have lived under a rock for the last couple of months, you have heard of the tragic events that occurred on April 15, 2013…the day of the 117th Boston Marathon. Like many of you, I struggled to even find the words to express how I felt about what was unfolding that day. I still have difficulty even wrapping my brain around all of it. I mean, what kind of people would do this? To marathon runners? Why? How?

The Boston Marathon is the one race that, for me, if I were ever able to qualify for it, would basically be the equivalent of making it to the Olympics. Even if I qualified…and ran…and finished dead last…I would be “the world’s greatest” in my own mind. And then April 15th happened. And then the one event that has topped my race bucket list for the last 8 years….seemed scary…and tainted. All of a sudden, staying closer to home and continuing to run “small town” events (though lacking the prestige and fanfare) seemed so much more secure and reliable. I let thoughts that I never thought I would think (Does that make sense?) run through my mind…”I mean, is the Boston Marathon really THAT big of a deal? Do I really want to keep running large events where stuff like this can happen? Should this really be my end-all-be-all pursuit?” For a while, I just let those thoughts marinate.

After the bombings, every news channel and media outlet was clamoring to get the “goods” on the story. Although some efforts were being made to tell the stories of the victims, survivors, runners, first responders, and spectators, a shift was made more quickly into covering these guys (I did not even want to type their names). How did they do it? What was their plan? Were they terrorists? Where were they from? And on, and on, and on…

Upon receiving the June issue, many readers were surprised that it did not cover the Boston Marathon, and, in fact, it made no mention of the race whatsoever. As explained by this post by David Willey, Editor-in-Chief of Runner’s World, much of the editorial content for the June issue had been finalized and the issue was already in production. Runner’s World committed to dedicate their July issue to covering the Boston Marathon. Yesterday, the tablet edition of the July issue was released and I was so pleased with the way the event was covered.

Very few publications have reported the stories from what I would consider “my perspective”, that of a runner. Runner’s World is one of those publications that I feel has handled the media aftermath of the bombings in the very best way. Yes, they reported the details of that day, but they also told the stories of people who were stopped at Mile 25, people who had been out there cheering for a loved one, people who were trying to connect with their friends or family members. I don’t know, maybe I just see so much bad stuff on the news that I have become numb or detached from it, but the way Runner’s World covered the events of April 15th kept the “human element” at the forefront. These people are so relatable. These people they reported on could be my friends, my running buddies, people in my running club.


Runner’s World – July 2013 Cover Art. (Photo courtesty of Runner’s World)

I have been a subscriber to Runner’s World for the last six years and this is the first cover that I can recall without a runner on it. Usually the covers are graced with images of runners (celebrities or not) sporting perfect form, the hippest gear, and a smile on their faces. This cover couldn’t have been more different. The Boston Marathon medal is an icon, and displaying it in this way communicates respect, honor, reverence, and solidarity for this race and our community. Reading about and understanding the creative process that went into achieving this cover image was truly fascinating. I highly encourage to take the time to read about it here. The minimal nature of its design allows the image to fully impact the reader, and I like that.

For the April 1996 issue of Runner’s World, the 100th Boston Marathon medal was prominently highlighted on its cover. For this issue, showing the medal on its own seems like a most appropriate and respectful “hat tip” to a race that has meant so much to the sport of running and to the history of Runner’s World. Though the messages of both covers are different, you cannot deny the power in these images.

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After having some time to let the shock dissipate and reading this issue, I plan on letting the Boston Marathon continue to rest in the #1 spot on my Race Bucket List. Reading the articles of runners who will persevere and make our running community stronger than ever gives me hope. I admire the way so many runners, running clubs, running brands, etc. have banded together to show strength and unity. In the future, I’ll make more of an effort not to take racing for granted and maybe I will be a little more careful and aware at ALL events I run, whether local or national or whether I’m racing with hundreds of runners or with thousands.

(The July issue of Runner’s World was available on tablets yesterday and will hit newsstands on July 11. If you have a subscription, you should be receiving it this week.)

If you would like to support The One Fund in their fundraising efforts to provide financial aid and support to victims of the bombings, please click here.


If you would like to show your support for The One Fund in your local communities, please consider purchasing and wearing a silicone support band from Go Sport ID. 100% of all proceeds from the sale of this bracelet go directly to The One Fund and support their fundraising efforts.


How were YOU affected by the Boston Marathon bombings? Were you there? How did it make you feel?


Wait…(Most) Women Shouldn’t Run? Ugh.

27 Sep

Michael Boyle is a DOPE.

Recently, an asinine article about why women shouldn’t run has made its resurgence on the interwebs. I had read this composition a while back (maybe four years ago?) but had noticed that just as fast as it had been spread around the web, it was gone. It had crept into the bowels of the internet, right where it should have stayed. Lately though, I have noticed it making a comeback on several web sites and I just cannot keep from throwing my two cents in this time.

(For the complete text of the article, click here.

These are awesome women runners…


I will be honest. Taken point by point, Mr. Boyle actually makes a couple of decent arguments. As long as you only consider how women are physically constructed, no, we probably should not run. But you know what? All my life I have been warned of things I should not do, and for the ones I was passionate about and did anyway, I never regretted it. Not once.

For starters, I find his use of Diane Lee’s quote, “You can’t run to get fit, you need to be fit to run,” to be a misleading half-truth. Thee word “run” is relative to each person who participates in the sport. Personally, I disagree with the idea that you can’t run to get fit. No, I am not a fitness professional, but I can tell you that I have seen MANY of my friends get on the path to fitness by taking up running. And by “running,” I do not mean “hard core, sub-6:00, sprint until you vomit” running. At the time when each one started, their own version of running may not have been much more than a shuffle. But that shuffle got them burning calories and getting fitter. And the fitter they got, the faster their feet shuffled. Funny how that works, right?

…but so are these…


Yes, running is a hard sport. It is hard on the body. To be an elite runner, I think it is pretty safe to say that you need to be pretty darn fit. However, I do NOT think this means that your body needs to look like Mr. Universe or Ms. Fitness USA in order to compete in your local 5k. I feel like telling people that you NEED to be fit to run is intimidating to people who may be considering the sport. As long as your expectations are reasonable for YOU, I do not feel like you need to be “fit” before taking up running. Running should just be one more tool that you use in your path to fitness.

When it comes to the physique of women runners, I have to say, Mr. Boyle hits the nail on the head. Yes, women with narrower hips and smaller breasts make faster runners. But if you notice, that is not what he said. He said that it makes them better runners. Is speed the only litmus test for what is “good” and “not good” about running? Sadly, Mr. Boyle assumes that all women runners only run to be fast. Being fast is fun, but there are so many other reasons why women run.

Women run for the joy of running.
Women run to relieve stress.
Women run to reach personal goals.
Women run to make friends and build a community.
Women run to set good examples for their children.
Women run to raise awareness for causes that are important to them.
Women run because they want to.

“So what happens when a ‘normal’ woman begins to run? She becomes a statistic. She becomes a physical-therapy client as she tries to shovel you-know-what against the tide. Her wider hips cause her to develop foot problems or most likely knee problems. Her greater body weight causes greater ground reaction forces. Greater ground reaction forces stress muscle tissue and breast tissue. Get my drift yet? The end result is likely to be hurt and saggy instead of the cute and little.”

This last paragraph was really the “icing on the cake” for me. The first time I read it, I seethed. And then my ire turned to pity. I felt bad for this man. And then I selfishly thought, “Please tell me he is not married.” With these words, he is basically saying there are only two kinds of women in the world…those who are 5’ 3”, 110lb female elites and all the other women in the world must be obese and not have any clue what we are doing when we get out on the road. His line of thinking here is so faulty, I almost don’t know where to begin.

For starters, I am a normal woman. I was a normal woman at 5’ 5” and 135lb before my son was born, and I am still a normal woman at 5’ 5” 150lb since having my son. One of my normal woman running friends is 5’ 10” and 170lb. My sister-in-law is a normal woman at 5’ 4” and 115lb. My running buddy is a normal woman runner at 5’ 7” and 165lb. Obviously, there are many shades of “normal” out there. You know how many of these normal women runners I have known to ever visit a physical therapist? None. Not one.

…and so are these.


And because we have wider hips, we should stop running? That is just ridiculous. When a woman gets pregnant, her hips widen, preparing her body for birth. After birth, some women are fortunate enough to have their hips go right back to the size they were pre-pregnancy. Other women are left with wider hips. Let’s say a woman was an avid runner before pregnancy, and after the baby, she was left with wider hips. However, she wanted to keep running. According to Mr. Boyle, this woman would no longer be a “good runner” because now she’s bigger. And since she isn’t “good” anymore, she might as well stop, because surely this running mama won’t have a clue how to handle her new body when running. Ugh, do you see where I am going with this? Please tell me I am not the only one who let out a massive eyeroll here.

In addition, all of the points he makes about why women shouldn’t run can easily be applied to why men shouldn’t run. Stressed muscle tissue and saggy body parts only apply to women? Oh, please. Trust me, I have seen my fair share of man boobs at races and, if I think anything when I see them, I think, “Wow! Look at that guy go!” The last thing I think is, “Hmmm, I wonder if that guy realizes that physics is really not on his side.”

Mr. Boyle, let me fill you in on a little secret. Not every runs to win first place. Bigger people aren’t in denial. They know they are bigger…just like I know I am not a size 4. Odds are, if they sign up for a race, they are pretty sure they won’t come in first. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t run. In case you had not heard, running is also good for people mentally and emotionally. And, sometimes, the overwhelming positive mental and emotional effects they experience are a fair trade for the occasional calf cramp or muscle ache.

Maybe I will never be a “good female runner” according to Mr. Boyle’s standards. However, I do know that I can be a “good female runner” according to me, Katie Key. With that, I am going to step off my soap box. After all, I have some miles to knock out before the sun goes down.

P. S. – Someone should also let Mr. Boyle know that there have been great advancements made in women’s running apparel. Sports bras have come a long way and we don’t have to worry about sagging body parts quite as much as we did once upon a time. Besides, how would Mr. Boyle have first-hand experience that running causes boob saggage…he’s a dude.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns?

The Experience of a Lifetime

22 Aug

Note: For the next several days, I’ll be blogging from my iPad. Forgive me in advance for any weird formatting, wonky photos, etc. I’m doing the best I can. Promise!

ITS HERE. ITS REALLY HAPPENING. I AM NOT IN A DREAM. I AM REALLY GOING TO RUN HOOD TO COAST. Time to pull out the bucket list and scratch this one off!

As I am writing this, I am currently flying somewhere over the Midwest (I think) as I make my cross-country journey from South Carolina to Oregon for Hood to Coast! First of all, I have to say…and forgive me if this makes me sound a bit “country bumpkin come to town”-ish, but…IN-FLIGHT WI-FI ROCKS. And its free, which makes it rock even harder.

When I started packing yesterday, I felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I was trying to find all my gear, work some serious magic to get it all into my carry-on bag, manage not to forget anything…oh, AND make 1,000 race bibs for the Mutt Strut 5k this weekend. Throw in the mix a fussy, teething 9 month old, and you have a seriously sleepless night. I think my head finally managed to hit the pillow at 11:30PM. A few hours later, my adventure began…

3:00AM: Alarm goes off. *yawnGRUMBLEstretchYAWN* I peeled myself out of bed.

3:15AM: Dressed, and bare minimal make-up on. Yes, I put on some make-up that early. Don’t hate.

3:30AM: Finished up last minute packing, sat on my suitcase to get it to close. That’s how I roll.

4:05AM: Arrive at Corey’s house. Her super nice husband, Brad, played chauffeur and drove us to the airport. Her super cute Schnoodles even came too!

4:30AM: Get in line to go through security at GSP. We were there so early that security was not even open yet! Was it naive of me to think that airports sort of didn’t close?? After we got through security, there still wasn’t anyone even at our gate!!

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5:30AM: Corey and I take off! We head off to our first stop, CLT! I desperately tried to catch some winks on this flight, but it proved impossible as it was so short.

6:30AM: We land in CLT and we are on a mission to find food! Thank goodness for healthy (though mondo expensive) food options in the airport. Naked Strawberry Banana smoothie and a banana for the win!

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7:15AM: We board our flight to Seattle-Tacoma Airport! We were worried that our other traveling buddy, Jess, was not going to make it in time.

7:30AM: Jess walks on to the plane just in time! WHEW! A few minutes later, we are OFF! Hood to Coast, here we come!!

7:45AM: Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. More glorious sleep. ZZZzzz…

11:00AM: Awake and feeling like a million bucks. It is amazing how much better I feel with just a few hours of extra sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to need the biggest coffee I can find when we land, but at least I don’t feel like DEATH.

So, that brings me to now…and what’s coming up in the next few days! We have so many fun things plan that I can barely stand it!

When we land, all of the AfterNUUN Delight teammates that have arrived will all be going to a Seattle Mariners baseball game! I have never been to a professional baseball game, so this will be another first for me! After the game, we will just hang out and wait for more Nuun runners to arrive!

Tomorrow morning, we have the option of the following: open water swim, group shakeout run, tour of Oiselle headquarters, and chilling at Starbucks. I *had* planned on giving the open water swim a whirl and then checking out Oiselle headquarters, but I’ll have to see if I am feeling jetlagged or not. I certainly want to be on top of my game for Friday. After the swim/run/tour, we have a smoothie breakfast graciously provided by Jamba Juice! We will be on our own for lunch tomorrow, but in the afternoon, the cool kids at Nuun have created an Amazing Race: Seattle Style game for us all to play! Awards will be handed out in the early evening, followed by a group dinner at Nuun Headquarters! After that, we have to get creative and decorate our vans!

Friday and Saturday are running days and will be running, running, and then running some more! My team (#TeamNight <;– Twitter hashtag) is predicted to finish around 6PM on Saturday. After all the teams finish, we will make our way over to the Nike VIP tent for some post-race partying!

And then by Sunday morning, its all over (whomp, whomp)…but I don't want to think about that yet! My journey is just getting started!!

I have to give a serious shout out to Nuun. Without this team and their amazing and supportive staff, none of us would be able to have this experience. I know this will be a runcation that I will never forget!

And if you want to stalk…um, I mean follow…our journey, I will blogging here as often as I can, but you can also check out my Twitter (@katieRUNSthis) and follow me on Instagram (@katieRUNSthis)! To follow all the AfterNUUN Delight runners, check out the #nuunHTC hashtag on Twitter!

Man Runners vs Lady Runners

11 Apr


Post-Baby Core Recovery Plan

14 Oct

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Every runner knows that to be fast, having a strong core is absolutely essential. Even though it is still a little early and yesterday’s doctor appointment shows that Baby Key is not “in the process” yet, I still want to have a plan for starting the process of regaining my core strength immediately after he is born.

Thanks to a little protein hormone called relaxin, in addition to my growing belly, my hips and pelvis have also widened. I am not terribly happy about that, but luckily there are ways to help get my body back on the road to recovery as soon as possible after the baby arrives. However, you can also use relaxin to your advantage. In the 6-8 weeks post-partum, your body is still producing this hormone, and here are certain products that, if used in this time frame, can help you “put your body back together” in a safe way.

Note: I am aware that some readers may feel that my methods could possibly be considered extreme or unnecessary, but please remember that this is MY body and this is MY plan. What works for me may or may not work for you. The use of these products is not purely for vanity reasons in wanting to “look” like my pre-pregnancy self, but more about regaining muscle control and feeling strong again.

COMPRESSION

Belly Bandit
Immediately after the baby is born, I plan to start wearing the Belly Bandit Bamboo. I have done a lot of research about this product and from what I can tell, it seems to be the softest and most comfortable abdominal binder. In addition to helping shrink the belly, waist, and hips, the Belly Bandit also supports the upper body while breastfeeding and gently persuades the abdominal muscles to move back together. It also stabilizes the pelvic floor and supports the spine. I plan to wear this all of the time, unless I am exercising or doing an activity that would cause me to sweat.

ShrinxHips
In concept, this is a similar product to the abdominal binder, except that it is for the hips. Stabilizing and returning pelvic joints to their pre-pregnancy position will allow me to get back to running sooner. In using the hip stabilizers, the goal is to help turn my hip sockets completely back forward in to the correct position (the legs-turned-out pregnancy waddle is not a myth, my friends!) so that returning to running is as easy as possible. Since it is a softer material, I plan to wear this during the day.

Hip Slimmer
Break out the big guns! See those laces? This contraption ain’t no joke. Conceptually, this product is similar to the ShrinxHips except that it seems to provide a bit more binding action. The reviews I have read about this product completely prepare me for this to be uncomfortable. However, the reviews also so that it really works. It seems that it is easiest to put when there are two sets of hands available, so I plan to wear this one at night.

Compression Tank
I have not completely decided on a brand or style for a compression tank, so for this, my options are still open. When I am able to return to light/moderate exercise, I will remove the Belly Bandit and wear a compression tank. This will give me a bit more flexibility in my core and allow my muscles to regain strength while still being supported. I have seen a few different styles that I like and am even considering one that I recently saw at Wal-Mart.

MomBodFitness FITsplint
I wrote a review of this product a while back but it can be used during pregnancy, as well as after. I will use this most during exercise in those first post-partum weeks.

EXERCISE

As soon as I am given the green light to move past light/moderate exercise and onto true core strengthening, here are some of the exercises I plan to squeeze in my day…you know, with all that free time that I will have having just had a baby and all. (I get points for being ambitious, yes?)

Plank-A-Day/Plank-An-Hour
I have a true love/hate relationship with core exercises but I know I need to do them. The #PlankADay plan (and then progressing on to the #PlanAnHour) is manageable and planks can be done anywhere. I really have no excuse not to do this.

Back and Side Hyperextensions
There is nothing in the world that removes the dreaded muffin-top faster than hyperextensions. A while back I worked with a running coach and he had me do these to strengthen my lower abs and back and I was AMAZED at how much stronger my body looked and felt. I will absolutely be incorporating this into my post-partum core recovery plan.

P90X Ab Ripper
Luckily, we already own the P90X system, so this will be a matter of popping in the DVD and committing the 15 minutes to the program. Personally, I think Tony Horton is incredibly corny but there is no doubt in my mind that his programs, when followed properly, WORK. Having done the P90X program before, I know that it is hard and intense and I fully expect to not be able to do half of the exercises on my first several attempts. But, I plan to keep working at it.

Yoga
Since I am a total amateur yogi, I plan on hitting up the free classes on Saturday mornings offered by my local lululemon athletica showroom. I figure that some yoga is better than no yoga and since they rotate teachers from different studios, maybe I will find one that I like.

So, there is the plan. It seems extensive, but I really think I can manage it. I know I have lofty goals and that all of these good intentions may go right out the window when I realize that breastfeeding, washing onesies, and getting some shut-eye are more important, but at least I have a plan.

What did YOU (or your spouse, partner, etc.) do post-partum to help strengthen your/her core again? If you are currently expecting, what is YOUR plan?

An Open Letter to the IAAF

27 Sep

Let me preface this post with some background information. The racing world firestorm started last week with this article in Sports section of The New York Times. In short, a new ruling by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) states that it will “recognize women’s road-race records only if they are set in ‘women’s only’ events.” To further complicate the situation, the IAAF has then made the ruling retroactive, so that even previously set records no longer count as “records.” Outraging many racers and racing fans alike, commentaries were then posted by ESPN and by Runner’s World. What follows is my opinion.

To Whom It May Concern:

I realize that I am one voice among thousands that are speaking out regarding your recent ruling on women’s records being set at women’s-only events. To say that this ruling is unfair is a gross understatement. Other words that come to mind are unwarranted, unreasonable, and unjust.

This ruling is nothing short of unreasonable. The argument that women’s records should not be upheld because they use faster men to pace them is asinine. At the core, it is tantamount to saying that my personal PR should not “count” if I, say, paced with a female who happened to be African-American. Primarily, pacing is not considered illegal, cheating, or technically against the rules. If anything, some consider it to be a smart racing strategy. Runners race to push themselves. Otherwise, they would never sign up for a competitive event in the first place. Secondly, if a racer chooses to pace with another runner, what does it matter if that runner is of a different gender, ethnicity, etc. At the end of the day, are all racers not competing on the SAME course under the SAME conditions?

My next question to you is, why even make this ruling in the first place? I was not aware that there was so much controversy surrounding women’s records that such a ruling was even necessary. If no such controversy even existed, however, then this ruling seems completely arbitrary and serves no purpose other than to waste people’s time discussing the matter. More importantly, even bringing it up now puts a black smudge over incredible records and achievements by runners like Paula Radcliffe, Deena Kastor, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Katherine Switzer. At this point, even if you were to reverse your ruling, you have already managed to taint their records. That, to me, seems irresponsible.

For decades, female runners and racers have wanted nothing but to compete on an even playing field. From my perspective, it is not that we want special favors or advantages; we merely want to be considered equal. How is segregating the genders and relegating us to women’s-only events keeping the competition even? How does this raise morale for women in the sport of running? Similarly, do you plan on having men compete in men’s-only events? After all, there are some women who are faster than men and we wouldn’t want those men to have an unfair advantage by pacing with a female, would we? Over the last several decades, female runners have been discouraged from competing, told they were not capable of competing at the same level as men, and even had spectators attempt to pull them off race courses. At the end of the day, just let the female runners run, no special rules or consolations. Just let them do what they have trained and worked so hard to do. These women have sacrificed to be the elites of their sport and if everything they have given up pays off by way of outstanding race records, please recognize that and give them all the accolades you would if they were male. To take away their personal bests and records is demoralizing and insulting. It is just that simple.

I realize that you will receive an incredible amount of feedback regarding this ruling and that my letter will probably get lost in the shuffle. However, I do feel the need to make my voice heard. I look forward to watching how this issue progresses. I have a strong feeling this is not then end of this issue.

Regards,
Katie Key


Are you a male or female runner? How does this ruling make YOU feel? Do you think they will ever overturn it?

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