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Follow This Mother!

Jill Conyers, her ultrarunning husband, her x-c son, and cheerleader daughter

As with so many blogs, I found Jill Conyers' by following one blog link to another (the mommy-runner blogosphere is like an amazing castle with countless rooms!) A 43-year-old mom of two, Jill is training for her first marathon--the Akron Marathon in about two weeks. (Hello, taper!) I love how this Cincinnati resident incorporates her other passion--photography--into her blog.

Best recent run: My first thought the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon where I set a new PR [personal record]. It could not have been a more perfect race. But after my long run this morning, I decided it tied with that race. I wasn’t particularly fast on my 15-miler but it was just one of those perfect runs. All the details added up: cool temperatures; blue skies; being in the mood to run by myself; new running paths or sidewalks almost the entire distance; very few traffic lights; and a bathroom at the starting point. And I wasn’t in a hurry to get home so I sat at a picnic table by the lake and enjoyed a cold bottle of water. I even got my camera out of the car and snapped a few photos. How could that not be considered a best run?

Eating redux: During runs greater than 15 miles (and 30+ total miles for the week) I started hitting the wall--big time--for the first time ever.  After five days of keeping a detailed food journal, I realized I was trying to run significantly more mileage with very little increase in calorie intake. So I made a few changes. I not only increased calories, I also factored in the calorie deficit created by running the longer distances. I now eat 1,700 calories as the base and adjust calorie intake for calories burned. Then I looked at the “what” and “when” of carb loading before a long run. Instead of carb loading the night before (as I have always done before half marathons), I slightly increase carb intake three days prior to runs longer than 13 miles. Finally I looked at the “when” and “what” I ate during any run 10+ miles. I needed to stay ahead of hitting the wall instead of trying to go over it after I hit. With a little bit of research, I learned I needed to eat earlier in the run and I needed to eat more often. After a few trials, I now eat about 120 calories every four miles during any run 10 miles or longer. I literally cannot stomach energy gels. I’ve found PowerBar Performance Energy bars pre-cut into thirds work well—I carry them in a small baggie in my Spibelt.  A bonus of all the time and effort spent on figuring out my diet? Making these few changes significantly reduced my recovery time!

The running men in my life: My family has been a big part of my running from day 1. My husband, Chad, inspired me to start running, and my kids are one of the reason I continue. I want them to not only hear what I say about fitness and nutrition, I want them to see it in action. My son runs cross country and running has become a strong connection for the two of us which, is not always easy to accomplish with an adolescent boy. It’s the conversations. It’s the ride home after practice when it’s just the two of us. It’s the days when he gets in the car and says, “I had a great run today” or “my goal for next week is to beat my speed work time.” It’s the evening with me running and him riding his bike. My daughter’s passion is competitive cheerleading, but she often runs shorter races associated with my races. She is my encouragement when I feel like I could have done better. She is often the first to remind me of what I did accomplish when I seem to be focused on how slow my pace was. My husband? I don’t even know where to begin. I do know that without him I could not accomplish all that I do. He is my never-ending source of inspiration, motivation, patience, and understanding. He runs long runs with me when I know he would rather be on a trail run. He gets up early to run with me even when he would rather sleep in. He refocuses me when I’m too hard on myself. He balances my tendency to do things in extremes. He has been at the start and finish line for every race I’ve ever run. Chad recently started ultrarunning. I’m not even sure if he knows it but he inspires me to go a little further. My goal for 2012 is to run an ultramarathon.

Vroom, vroom: If I were a car, I’d be a: BMW. Probably a black, white, or silver convertible. Classic, sporty, efficient, and fast with a simple style. LOL: not that I’m fast, but these are the attributes I would want to have as a car (and as a runner).

26.2 musings: Training for a marathon has been a roller coaster of emotions and one of the most rewarding experiences ever. [EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Jill’s second attempt at training for a first marathon: The first time, she fractured her pelvis about four weeks before the marathon and was unable to run for six months.] Training for a first marathon is a different mindset. After focusing on pace and PRs, it was difficult to go back to focusing on the distance. The time commitment is the hardest part. I will never forget the first time I ran 20 miles. I took full advantage of bragging rights! And I have never been so grateful for public bathrooms. A few weeks ago, because of the heat, I was sure I would never train for another fall marathon. Since then I’ve decided I want to run Chicago in 2011.

Take a picture, it lasts longer: Like running, photography is a passion. I’m never without a camera, and I like to talk about photography almost as much as the photography itself. I love to capture the big events like birthdays, holidays, vacations, and such, but my favorite is to capture the details that are often missed. The details of the day-to-day life of my family. The details that at the time you’re sure you will never forget but often do. I want to remember I still get tears in my eyes when I cross the finish line of a race. I want to remember how if I seem a little nervous before a race, Chad helps by attaching my chip for me. I want to remember how my son loves to pass other runners right before the finish line.  I want to remember it all, and I couldn’t do that without photography.

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It's the little things in life: Jill's husband, Chad, affixing her timing chip

11 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. I love this post so much! What a absolute treat it has been for me to have met Jill through online blogging. We share so many similar interests and I’m so excited for her to run her first marathon.

    We, as women, and as mothers, AND as runners share a really unique bond that really no one else ‘gets’. We understand that running in the morning is not always necessarily what we WANT to do, but it is WHAT we do to be better mothers, women and of course runners.

    Thanks for a great post about a terrific woman!

  2. LOVE this mother!! I loved loved loved LOVED Jills thought of “I needed to stay ahead of hitting the wall instead of trying to go over it after I hit”. My first half I didn’t train with any water or fuel/food during my long runs, insane I know. The second half I did, and what a difference, I mean, if it wasn’t torrential downpours for the ENTIRE race, I know in my heart of hearts that I would of PR’d – not that it matters, well maybe a little! I can’t wait for my third 1/2 of the year, because I’ve been smarter, so much so about my fuel and food, the days surrounding the race, wtih that being said, I never thought of that above, always thought of just busting through the wall and not preparing for it, love it! Thank you! Thank you! and Thank you for profiling this lovely lady!

  3. I’m so excited about being the Follow This Mother this week I’m not sure what to say. Thank you RLAM and to your readers!

    Amanda tweaking your diet will make all the difference in your run and recovery. I was so frustrated with feeling as you put it like crap after long runs. Since making the changes to my diet I have not had a single feel like crap long run.

  4. I love what you said about your husband and how he supports you and your running. If I was a plagerizing person, I would be copying what you said word for word because that is the description of my husband supporting my running as well. I loved reading that!

  5. These posts always inspire me, but this one gave me an Oprah worthy A-ha moment, for which I am very thankful! I’ve been training for a marathon, and I’ve not changed my eating habits at all to accommodate the extra 10-15 miles a week. In fact, two weeks ago, I realized around mile 10 that I had eaten virtually NOTHING the day before, and my long run was being fueled by a pre-run banana (of which I only ate half because my 2 year old gobbled the rest of it up) and about 150 calories of Stingers. The day before, I had served myself a plate at each meal, but the day was so crazy that I never got around to eating anything. I am usually not that bad, and I almost always remember to eat the day before the run, but (and this is so embarrassing) now it’s just clicked that I probably will continue to feel like crap on those long runs if I’m routinely missing meals throughout the whole week (which happens all the time) even if I eat appropriately the day before. I am an otherwise intelligent person, but I never tied those two together until just now. Duh!

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