Monthly Archives: November 2014

The B-A-L-A-N-C-E Beam

I remember the pink leotard that I wore with the diagonal turquoise stripes. It was very 80s. It had short, puffy sleeves, high cut legs and a scoop neck. I was 11. I was a tall, chubby girl and I took gymnastics. My fav apparatus? The balance beam.

To mount the beam, I would jump up so that my arms were straight and my hips were touching the side of the beam. I kicked one leg over and sat on the beam with my knees bent and my toes pointed on the beam, then, grabbed the beam in front of my toes to stand up. The key? Balance. To help maintain balance you focused your eyes on the end of the beam. I would add too that you had to have control of your center of gravity. The good news for me was that I had spotters and the skills I was learning kept me relatively safe.

There are many tools in the fitness world today that are used to challenge balance: bosu ball, exercise ball, balance board and even a rolled up towel. You can purposely put your body OUT of balance so that you can improve your balance. Most of the time, it is my emotional balance that is challenged.

I’m getting ready to start training for Zion 100K (62 miles). There will be doubt, darkness, adventure, hunger, thirst, fun, tears, smiles. . . gotta have balance, gotta be centered. I have a plan. I have a routine. I will practice it over and over. I know what I need to do to get there. I know what I need to do to execute. There will also be stress.  I am prepping to train my body to run long, longer, longest.  I need to center myself and prepare to practice balance.

I have decided that life is a constant bombardment of stressors that I am challenged to keep in balance. They definitely ‘ebb and flow’. I do have control over how much ‘ebb and flow’. I just finished reading a book about running by Dr. Phil Maffetone, called The Maffetone Method The Holistic, Low-Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.  In chapter 2, Exercise and Stress, he suggests making a stress list, listing your physical, chemical and emotional stress on one sheet of paper.  Once your list is made, break that down into two columns, A (stress you can control) & B (stress you cannot control). I love this definition of stress from an article by “Psychology Today” online.

Stress is simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In other words, it’s an omnipresent part of life.

Stress disturbs our balance. I am not sure why, at 43, I am discovering the importance of less stress and more balance, but I am. I think what I ask myself to do as a runner is tough. It can offset the balance of my household, the balance of my health, the balance of my mind. I’m going to make a list. I am going to circle the biggest 3 on my “A” list (per Dr. Maffetone). I think that might be where I land for now. Maffetone suggests work on improving those or eliminating them altogether. I think I will do well to list them and circle the big 3.

So, B-A-L-A-N-C-E. . .  keeping in mind that my point of reference for balance may be completely different than the next person.




Ragnar Relay 2014

In case you are not familiar with the Ragnar Relay, you can run with a minimum of 6 persons and 1 van and a maximum of 12 persons and 2 vans. You can also choose anything in-between. If you choose 12 people, each person will run 3 “legs” of the journey from point to point. Tennessee starts in Chattanooga on a Friday morning and finishes in Nashville on Saturday afternoon. It is approximately 200 miles. The minimum distance run is 10.4 miles for 3 “legs”. The maximum distance is 21.5 miles for 3 “legs”.

This year’s Ragnar TN was not your average journey. I coined the phrase, “Glam-Nar” because our van traveled in comfortable luxury via the use of my friend’s conversion van. 🙂  We also had stellar accommodations in Tullahoma and Nolensville. I also had my Uggs in tow and a different outfit for each leg. HA!

So. . . we arrived at our start in Jasper, TN SUPER early. Good grief, I think we were there 2 hours early. The truth is that this is my 4th year running Ragnar and EVERY year I get confused by the time. Chattanooga time is Eastern. Nashville is Central. We were super early, due to my fear of being late.

This year,  I was enthusiastically runner # 8!! What does that mean? It means that I was not runner #7!! (Runner #7 runs up Mont Eagle Mountain–3 miles uphill to be exact.) I have chosen that ‘leg’ for the past 3 years. This year, the torch was passed to Ryan, and the little that he knew about it, the better.

Our team had 2 vans and 12 runners. Van 1 had some veteran IB PRO FUN-ers. (Our team name was IB PRO FUN.) These 3 returning ladies are the nicest people with great attitudes and fit bodies to run. They welcomed a friend of mine from Lookout Mountain and her husband, both impressive athletes that did not stop smiling. Rounding out Van 1 was the husband of one of my dearest friends.  They tackled their ‘legs’ and posted some great running times. Glad to have their consistency and energy. 🙂

Van 2? Hmm. . . what can I say? Some returning vets to my team and two guys who had some speed in their legs. If there was a version of “grumpy cat” in our van it was probably my sweet husband. He’s just kinda grumpy sometimes. 🙂 He also wears mostly black when he runs. Sloan was a returning vet! He is always in the driver’s seat. He is funny. He is nice. He is also a Marine, because once a Marine, always a Marine. (I used to introduce him and say he was a Marine. He quickly corrected my faux pas.) Brian was our runner #9 this year. He was the runner with the most miles. I am not sure that he has ever run that distance before. He totally rocked it. (I also had an opportunity to set him up with a great girl!! Ya never know when that might happen.) Ryan was our runner to run up Mont Eagle. He was a very worthy comrade. He did not skip a beat with that challenge. Mike was our runner #10. He was also our fastest runner!! Man, that guy could run. The best part was the pace challenges between Ryan and Mike. They each tried to run a faster pace or close to the same pace as one another. (Ryan had to back off a bit. I think Mike is technically his boss. Gotta let the boss win.-HA!) I did try to encourage this as it kept our van running strong.

Personally, this was my fastest Ragnar. This was also our team’s fastest year. We finished 50th out of 220. SO proud of all 12 runners. My first leg was 5.9 miles. I started around 3:00 pm on Friday. My second leg was 6.1 miles. I started around 1:45 am, early Saturday morning. My final leg was 5.1 miles, and I started around 11:30 am on Saturday morning. My favorite leg was the  1:45 am run. It was pitch black, on country roads, wild dogs, stars, my headlamp. It was an adrenaline rush to run at that time in that place. My most difficult run was my last. It was hot. My legs were exhausted from running the day before. I persevered.

What was our van missing? CHOCOLATE. Man! We needed chocolate of some sort. We had no M & M’s, no cookies, no peanut butter cups, no chocolate bars, nothing. I sent out a desperate plea to my friend, Kristin, to “please bring chocolate.” She came through in a delicious way.

My last bit of commentary is that I would run with a van of slow, fun people or fast, serious people, but NEVER a van of slow, serious people. It is such a fun experience. I hope that this little mention of Ragnar Relay Tennessee will get you interested in running next October!