After sweating through record temps in the Boston Marathon, I felt an immediate bond with Amy Bailey, 36, when I read her blog post about running the Cellcom Green Bay Half-Marathon last month. It was one of her slowest halfsies, and race officials shut down the entire course (26.2 and 13.1) shortly after she crossed the finish line. Finding out this mother of one from Green Bay, Wisconsin, suffered from plantar fasciitis for more than a year sealed the deal on our connection. Find out more about this former smoker-turned-runner.
Best recent run: Lately it seems my best runs--those that I actually feel good the whole time and not just the tingly endorphins around Mile 3--come just before the important ones. My last training run before the May 20 Cellcom Green Bay Half-Marathonwas 10 miles of downright awesomeness. Perfect weather conditions--warm sunshine without stifling heat, cool breezes without knock-you-over wind gusts, and zero humidity--are my running BFFs. I’m usually a 9:30-9:40 per mile pace, but I had an average 9:13 pace that day, which is scorching for me. Those types of feel-good-all-the-way-through runs may not come along that often, but when they do--whooooo weeeee!
Kicked cigs: I was a smoker for a little more than 10 years, beginning near the end of high school and continuing through the early part of my 30s. I played volleyball and softball in high school and I have worked out regularly for much of my adult life, but I always had that smoking thing hanging over me. In 2005, I started talking about running a 5K, but didn’t actually sign up for a race until 2007 when we lived in Pennsylvania. In training for my first race ever, the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-mile Run, I figured out pretty quickly that the smoking and running weren’t going to work together. So in April 2007, I dropped the cigarettes and stuck with the running.
MF’er PF: Oh, a little plantar banter. I could seriously tell you anything about foot pain. Since October 2011, I’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I’ve gone to physical therapy, had two very painful cortisone shots, and I purchased The Sock, which I wear to bed every night (sexy and I know it). Like many runners, I found it really hard not to run so the only real “break” I took was a month earlier this year. While I stayed off the treadmill, I made an extra-special effort to get my cardio on in other ways, usually on my NordicTrack. After all that time and effort, I think calf raises were among the things that helped me the most. After learning that plantar fasciitis can be the result of weak calf muscles, I made sure those exercises became a core part of my weekly workouts.
Hot-hot-HOT! The Green Bay Marathon on May 20 was hot with a capital “Oh My God!” Temperatures neared 80 as the race started at 7 a.m. and closed in on 90-something two hours later. That’s hot anywhere, but that’s really hot for this race--and the people, like me, who train for it every year. We train in cold winter months and slightly warmer spring months. I’ve run the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon each year since 2009. It’s an expertly run event, but officials cancelled the race this year after two and a half hours because of the heat and the fact that the medical tent was jam-packed with struggling runners. It made for a heartbreaking situation for those nearing the end who slogged through some horrible conditions only to find that the timing mats had been pulled. I racked up my slowest pace for the course with 2:25:34, nearly a half hour slower than my PR set there in 2010. On top of the heat and the tiredness that comes with it, my trusty over-the-head Sony headphones picked Mile 2 to stop working. I need music to run, especially in a half marathon. Especially in a freaking hot half marathon. I somehow had to entertain myself and dig from the deepest depths of my soul to finish that race. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.
Mixing it up: After years of gym memberships, I began investing in equipment for a home gym in the months before my son was born in March 2008. I started with a treadmill and built from there: I now have a Nordic Track, rower, stationary bike, and a few other items. This setup totally works for me; I have zero excuses about getting to workout. I'm an a.m. workout person, waking up before my son and husband get up and before work as a newspaper editor to run, cross-train, bike, anything. I usually always start with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up on the bike just to help wake myself up and get focused on the next 45 minutes or so.
Me and my treadmill: I’m not a fan in running in Arctic conditions, which, in Green Bay, is not out of the realm of possibility in the winter months. So that means the treadmill. I have to admit: I don’t mind treadmill running and I regularly use those little speed and incline buttons to change things up. After a mile at a 9:20'ish pace, I usually increase the speed for each mile after that. And, after a few miles, I will drop down the incline. So, ideally, at each mile I’m doing something a little bit different. And since that elusive sub-2 hour half marathon is such a powerful motivator for me, I usually steer toward picking up the pace throughout my runs.