In spite of the unsurprising continued and worsening national crises, the world of Fun Size Athlete kept moving forward in January. I feel quite fortunate on many fronts. I joined the Ox100 fitness challenge at the CrossFit gym I belong to, hoping to continue giving myself goals and motivation. The challenge was adjusted this year to be a bit more flexible but the first 30 days was still limited to “detoxing” with Whole 30 or Paleo diet. While Whole 30 has worked well for me in the past (when I have actually needed a good food detox), it kind of backfired for me this year and I found myself feeling pretty terrible for the first few weeks of the month. I had already started focusing a lot on nutrition last year and following macros. Also, Adam and I have shifted to a mostly plant-based diet at this point, so suddenly going back to a very heavy meat-based diet had me feeling slow, bloated, hungry, unsatisfied (insert additional negatives here). I learned that everything has it’s time and place, and I needed to just stick to (and improve) what had already been working for me. By the end of the month I switched back to 90% plant-based, counting macros, etc. and felt better within a week. For the next 2 phased of the challenge I will try to maintain 100% plant-based and hit my macro requirements as much as possible (with special focus on hitting the protein goals). I’m glad I learned to listen to my body.
In spite of not always feeling great, I hit over 100 Peloton runs, and completed 90% of the prescribed workouts (including speedwork!) in the Atlanta Track Club half marathon training plan. I complete most of the workouts on the Peloton Tread+ inside and the benefits have quickly translated to improvements in my outside runs and races. In fact, I PRd the 5k and half marathon distances this month without even planning on it! Every time I head outside for a run I notice changes to my steady state/”easy” run pace, to the point where I’m not even sure what my “easy” pace should even be at this point. Always a work in progress, and I’m here for it.
Many of us may be fatigued by the thought of ANOTHER virtual race, but the Hot Chocolate 15k race series kept things sweet and safe. Running isn’t cancelled for sure. After taking last year off from the Hot Chocolate Race in Atlanta, the virtual race this year had me excited for my 4th running for chocolate. It was an amazing present to myself to be able to run the race on my birthday, from my front door, while still sleeping in!
I signed up for the race about 6 weeks ago and immediately started receiving helpful emails with training schedule and tips for race day. Even though the race would be virtual, it was nice to feel like I was actually training for something. Even better, I live close to the real course and was able to create a modified course from my house that included a warmup mile and most of the actual course, while cutting out the parts I don’t like anyway. Win!
About a week before the race date I received my swag bag package with all the famous Hot Chocolate series goodies: chocolate (of course), hot chocolate packets, medal (with a secret chocolate compartment, and the cozy hoodie. Every year I think Hot Chocolate series does a great job improving on the swag based off of participant feedback. The hoodie this year fits and looks great (my husband very much approved). It also has a detachable hood which I think is an amazing improvement as I don’t like to run with a hood flopping around. I think in the future, I’d love to see them offer a vest option and maybe some gloves.
Overall, I really enjoyed being able to run a “race” without having to travel from my house. I also very much enjoyed sleeping in, as well as being able to choose the best day to run based off of weather (a true bonus for those of us who know that the ATL race has some notorious weather patterns lol). Having taken last year (2020) off from the race, being able to do the virtual race this year really got me excited for prospect of racing Hot Chocolate 15k in person next year, and maybe traveling to a new city for it instead. Aren’t we all ready to travel?!
When that slightly off, possibly body shaming but not really body shaming, Peloton commercial came out around Christmas 2019 many of us stuck up our noses at the bougie-ness of it all. However, when COVID closed down our favorite gyms (which we pay for but rarely attend) in March 2020, I think all those same judge-y folks (myself included) were wishing we had at least bought some Peloton stock when it went public in December.
For myself, owning the bike itself was never really a need or interest. My husband and I almost exclusively ride outside all year round, and if I’m really desperate I’ll throw my bike on a trainer. Plus, spin class was never really my think once I started to ride “real” bikes outside. I did appreciate from early on how the Peloton bike was a game changer for giving folks, especially women, the confidence to change their fitness, and the content seemed fun. While I did not want a stationary bike I was pretty jealous of my friends who were enjoying some cool themed rides. This recent YouTube parody video from The Holderness Family really sums up the Peloton fervor accurately:
In the first few months of COVID I downloaded the Peloton app (3 free months) and really enjoyed the content. I used it for some outdoor runs, stretching, yoga, and core work. As someone who works in tech as a data scientist, I think the app and the content are incredible, diverse, fun, and highly effective. In my opinion, Peloton is a CONTENT company more than a fitness equipment company. After many months of running on a $400 Amazon treadmill and jealously watching more and more friends get their Peloton Bike delivery, I was determined to join the Peloton cult…I mean community with more than just the app membership.
While many women may buy themselves a nice pair of designer shoes when they get a new, fancy job I went out and ordered myself a fancy treadmill….the Peloton Tread+. I’ve had the Tread for over 2 months now and here’s my top 10 reasons why I LOVE it:
New content every day. When I wake up for early morning run every day, there’s always a new selection of content to choose from to get me through whatever workout on my schedule for that day. I can choose by length of time, focus (endurance, speed, hills, etc.), music, instructor, etc. It never feels repetitive…unlike running the same 5 or 10k loop around my neighborhood everyday. In a COVID world where every day feels like Groundhog Day, fresh content to start each morning is key.
Effective and efficient speed work. Depending on my prescribed training workout I either follow the Peloton instructor queues or just use them as motivation while I follow specific workout queues on my Garmin watch (i.e. hitting interval or fartlek sets). Either way, setting a speed on a treadmill and then committing to it is a really great way to work on cadence/turnover, form, and maintaining a steady pace. I’ve noticed my cadence and pace on outdoor runs in particular have greatly benefited from all the time on the Tread.
Less decision paralysis. Getting up at 5am when it’s cold and dark and trying to figure out where to run is really daunting. Add in the challenge of figuring out what to wear and the likelihood of just staying in a warm bed increases. Now, I get up, throw on shorts and a singlet, and head down to the garage to run “nowhere”. #NoExcuses
Say ‘no’ to cold, dark mornings. So much less gear and clothes required == much easier convincing myself to get out of bed.
Safety. Continuing the theme from #3 and #4, as much as I love my neighborhood, no matter where you live I think most folks, women in particular, are not super excited about running by themselves in the dark at O’dark thirty. One thing that I think cannot be understated about Peloton is its effect on empowering women to feel safe running and cycling. That said, I’m acutely aware that the bike and tread are expensive, luxury items to which many people do not have access. Considering what we’ve seen in the last year, I think Peloton can be an even more powerful tool in the homes of more women of color. In their recent “Peloton Pledge” the company stated a goal of “increasing accessibility to our products and content in underserved communities,” although it’s unclear how they plan to achieve that, I’m interested to see what happens moving forward.
I could probably write a much longer list but I’ll continue my Peloton Tread+ sing-a-longs/sufferfests for a few more months before coming back with a part 2 of this list/review. If you have any questions about the Peloton Tread or Peloton in general, please chime in. If you end up joining the Peloton community with either the Bike or the Tread (or both!) you can enter my referral code: BZCYNU during purchase, and get $100 towards bike accessories.
Have you experienced the “5 stages of Peloton”? Chime in with your favorite Peloton classes, stories, instructors, etc.? Plus, find me and follow me: FunSize_Athlete. Happy Running/Pedaling!
I’ll avoid using one of the overused adjectives used to describe 2020, but yeah…it’s been a bit of a year to say the least. Considering everything going on in the world, the end of 2020 has me feeling extremely grateful. In many ways, some of the negatives one can attach to 2020 actually benefited my personal life, health, and professional life. My husband and I cook together 3-4 times per week. The forced work from home, lack of social distractions, and end of in-person school requirements freed up my time from a terrible 35 mile one-way commute to school just in time for me to hunker down at home and focus on finishing a dissertation. Starting in March, the only things for me to do with my life were work/PhD dissertation and workout. This led to me finishing my PhD in July and getting in the best shape of my life, resulting in getting a new and awesome job as a Data Scientist at a startup company and crushing a 100 mile race in 22 hours and 48 minutes (goal was sub-24 hrs). I am forever grateful and humbled by my circumstances and the people in my life, and in awe of the parents, teachers, healthcare workers, food service workers, etc. who are the true rockstars of 2020 and beyond. I strive for better knowing that the challenges in my life are mostly by choice, while many others do not have that privilege. #NoExcuses
Here’s a wrap-up of December, the best of 2020, and looking forward to 2021:
Running miles : 168.6; year-to-date : 1,754
Cycling miles: 172.2; year-to-date : 3,451
Crossfit workouts: 21; year-to-date: 205
Peloton Tread+: While some women buy themselves a pair of Jimmy Choos when they get a new, fancy job, I bought myself a treadmill. Of course, go big or go home, so I bought the Peloton Tread+ with the slat tread design. It’s amazing to run on, provides great motivation to get in my early morning workouts, and eliminates many choices I really do not feel like making at 5:30 am each day, i.e. what to wear, where to run in the dark by myself, etc. It’s an amazing piece of equipment. I was definitely a bit judgy of the Peloton crazy but I totally get it; yes, I’ve even had a cry session one morning while running Bec’s 60 minutes NYC Marathon simulation run. I’m not the only one! P.S. If you get a Peloton bike or tread, use me as a referral and we’ll both get Peloton store credits. 😀
Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run: My December daily running average was 5.4 miles, keeping me over my goal of running an average of 4.3 miles per day (Tony’s daily average during his run-streak). I’m really glad I had the motivation to keep up the miles during the holidays. It also gave me the confidence to commit to the 2021 goal of “running the year”, i.e. 2,021 miles in 2021, an average of 5.5 miles per day.
Best of 2020:
Cookie baking class with awesome friends at Haute Cookie for my birthday
Volunteering at the women’s personal hydration station on Peachtree Street for the US Olympic Marathon Trials.
Defending my dissertation and earning a PhD in Data Science
Getting a new, custom gravel bike and then riding said bike on rail trails all over Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and New Hampshire
Joining OxFit Crossfit gym and learning that my body is capable of even more than I had imagined
Crushing my sub-24 hour goal at the Yeti 100 in 22 hours and 44 minutes
Starting a new job and new career!
Ahead in 2021:
If/when in person-IRL-chip timed races happen I’d like to keep the PR train moving. I’ve already accomplished more than I expected by Jan 2 with 5k, 10k, and half marathon PRs this morning at the Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run this morning. I went with the goal of running as a fun run/training run for 10 laps/13.1 miles around the track club offices and ended up running my first sub-2 hour half marathon, with most at conversation pace. Whoopsies. Between strength training, Peloton workouts, and continued changes to my body composition, I often have no idea the true state of my current fitness until things like this happen. Just means I need more aggressive goals for 2021 I guess lol.
Publix Half Marathon Covid-friendly edition, Feb 28, at the Atlanta Motorspeedway. Another half marathon PR perhaps?
Bike Ride Across GA (BRAG), June 5-12. The 2020 event from Chattanooga to Columbus, GA was canceled obviously, so hoping for take 2 this year, same route.
Grandma’s Marathon – June 19. I’m registered to run this iconic race in Duluth, MN (new state!) as a BibRave Pro. They’ve limited the half and full marathon fields to 50% capacity so I’m hoping the event is able to take place, although I’ll feel much better about it if I’m able to get a COVID vaccine before traveling there.
KSU Graduation? – May 10. I technically earned my degree last July but never had the full graduation/PhD hooding ceremony experience. As of now, they’re saying that graduates from spring, summer, and winter 2020 will be able to take part in official graduation ceremonies this Spring. I want to wear my fancy pants regalia, dammit!
San Juan Hut System Bikepacking trip? – August. There’s tentative plans to do this 6 day bike traverse from Durango, CO to Moab, UT with a small group of friends. It’s definitely a bucketlist trip, but feels relatively COVID friendly, so hoping this one can happen as well.
NYC Marathon? – Nov 7. I was supposed to run the 50th edition in 2020 but, as with everything else, that didn’t happen. In fact, I’ve now been part of not one, but TWO, canceled NYC Marathons. SMH. Those of us who were supposed to run last year will be randomly placed into one of the events between 2021 and 2023.
It definitely feels like a privilege to be able to plan ANYTHING at this point. However, my attitude is that it’s likely 50/50 any plans actually happen so might as well keep moving forward, plan for the worst, hope for the best, and embrace anything in between. How are you tackling 2021??
Peace, love, and many happy miles. ~Jessica “Fun Size”
Disclaimer: I received the Buff® DryFlx+ headband and necker warmer to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro ambassador, and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Every fall when BibRave starts to offer winter gear review opportunities, I’m always hesitant to apply because it usually still feels like summer in ATL. Without fail, every year I’m glad when I decide to give winter gear a shot because it always seems that ATL summer turns to winter in the blink of an eye. This year has been no exception; as soon as I received the new BUFF DryFlx+ Collection headband and neckwarmer, enough winter had arrived in ATL to make me cranky. Thanks to being a BibRave Pro, I now have some gear to make me a little less grumpy about running and cycling outside this time of year.
One of my biggest issues each winter is that, no matter how cold, I still sweat like crazy resulting in the worst possible scenario: cold + wet. Finding gear that keeps me warm AND dry is the key to continue outdoor training and not getting sick (or just seriously uncomfortable). The Buff DryFlx+ Collection aims to cover the warm + dry winter activity requirements. BUFF describes the DryFlx+ neckwarmer, for example, as:
BUFF DryFlx®+ Neckwarmer is engineered and knitted in one-piece. Designed with technical smart zones that increase breathability and targeted warmth, while enhancing active fit and comfort with an articulated mask design – so you can focus on what matters.
Both the neckwarmer and headband are soft and cozy, without being heavy. It’s a really nice balance between keeping you warm without overheating. I’ve been on a few long runs or rides where the temperature differential between the start and end of the activity was nearly 20 degrees. Whether on the run or bike, both products kept me warm without getting soaked with sweat, and I never felt overheated as temperatures rose.
An added benefit of the neckwarmer was its use as a makeshift mask in a pinch, i.e. running on a crowded trail or needing to go inside a building to refuel. Note however, the neckwarmer has vents in the front for airflow during activity, so it’s primary purpose should definitely not be as a mask, and if you have to use it this way, turn it around so the vented side is not in front of your face. It’s definitely better than nothing for this purpose though. Side note: BUFF makes a line of face masks with filters. 🙂
Thanks to BUFF DryFlx+ Collection I can be a little less cranky about winter.
Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say about the BUFF DryFlx+ Collection:
Inspired by my fellow BibRave Ambassador, ‘She Runs By the Seashore‘ Vanessa, I plan to start a monthly blog roundup as a way to keep motivated and document progress, setbacks, and everything in between when it comes to fitness. In spite of (or maybe thanks to) COVID, this year has seen my highest run mileage yet, and most success on my fitness journey. With little travel, pressure of social gatherings, and work from home, I’ve been able to focus on fitness and school/work with much better results than any previous year. Everyone is different, but for me as much as this year has been challenging, the “great pause” if you will has allowed me to focus on things that really matter: health and quality relationships. So, without further ado, here’s my November stats roundup:
Running miles : 159; year-to-date : 1,587
Cycling miles: 271; year-to-date : 3,278
Crossfit workouts: 19; year-to-date: 180
Atlanta 10 Miler: Ran the modified, COVID-safe Atlanta 10 Miler on November 1 at Road Atlanta racetrack. The race was deemed the “Extreme Hill Edition” due to the insane, sweeping turns and hills on the track. The normal Atlanta 10 Miler course is already considered a difficult course so, hearing that this would be even more of a doozy, I wore a Halloween costume (Rey from Star Wars) with the aim to “just have fun”. Famous last words: I PRd the 10 miler big time with a finish of 1:31:59.
Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run:Tony Banovich, a good friend of Team BibRave, race director of the Missoula Marathon and Run Wild Missoula, and a seemingly awesome guy (I never had the pleasure to meet him), passed away suddenly in October due to complicationns from a heart condition. As a way to honor his memory and support the Run Wild Missoula mission, “an industry coalition led by BibRave, Event Southwest, and the Louisville Running Company created The Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run presented by AfterShokz, with all proceeds benefitting the Montana nonprofit.” The virtual event challenges participants to run or walk 4.35 miles, the average daily distance of Tony’s 1,731 day run streak. Since I already run that distance regularly, I decided to use Tony’s memory to add a bit more of a personal challenge: run an average of 4.35 daily miles through the end of the year. I’m not doing this as a run streak, although I do run 5-6 days per week. My overall daily average through the end of the year will be at least 4.35 miles per day. My November daily average was 5.3 miles. P.S. you can still register to run through December 11 and have until December 31 to complete the run. 😀
Professional Changes: Perhaps the biggest change this month which, although not directly fitness related can have an impact on how I structure my fitness routine, is the fact that I started a new job in a completely new career! After completing my PhD in Analytics and Data Science in July, I set the goal to pivot from federal service/public health into a private sector technology job by the end of the year. I made that goal happen and started at a small, startup Data Science consulting firm, A42 Labs, on November 16. Consulting can be a very busy, challenging career, but I was really motivated to get a position that I knew would be a challenge and allow me to learn a lot! I also knew that taking on a challenging new role could risk disrupting my fitness and nutrition routine. I made the personal goal to prioritize my health during this change and be diligent about scheduling my days around workouts. I wake up every weekday morning to run, and then have breakfast and coffee before 8am. Running before works gives me a great boost of energy and focus for the rest of the day. I then bookend the day at OxFit, usually at 5:30. It’s a great way to get my mind away from work and programming code before dinner and bed. So far the schedule is working really well, and has also been super helpful for keeping motivated and efficient while still working from home. Schedules and checklists are your friends folks!
That’s a wrap for November. I plan to keep the same work/workout schedule in December and hit at least 150 miles running for the month as well. There’s nothing else special planned since we’re staying home for the holidays.
Disclaimer: I received the Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery in chocolate and strawberry to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro ambassador, and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Since getting serious about my strength and nutrition journey this year, I’ve realized that 1) I don’t consume nearly as many calories as I assumed, and 2) I definitely do not consume enough protein. As I’ve increased the quantity and intensity of both strength and cardio sessions since the beginning of the year, the necessity to track my macros intake and make sure I’m covering my nutritional needs has been key to maintaining energy, improving performance, and finally seeing changes in body composition. Since I have a very busy lifestyle I manage personal, work, and physical activities by planning ahead as much as possible. Many of you may know, once life gets very busy, nutrition is often the first thing to fall off the wagon. For that reason, having easy and quick access to quality nutritional choices is extremely important. In order to hit all my performance and protein intake goals, I’ve found it necessary to include protein supplements in snacks and meals whenever possible. That means high protein overnight oat bowls for breakfast, protein smoothies for lunch, protein cold brew coffee mix as a late morning/early afternoon pick-me-up, and high protein snacks within 30 minutes of strength sessions or hour plus long cardio sessions.
Science in Sport (SiS) REGO Rapid Recovery is a great post-workout recovery mix that includes the right blend of carbohydrates (23g), protein (20g), and electrolytes. According to Dr. Stacy Sims, PhD in her amazing book “Roar”, while men need to consume about 20g of protein in the 30 minute post-workout recovery window, women need 30-40 g. That’s A LOT of protein. I’ve been running about 60-90 minutes every morning, and crossfit every evening. After my morning run, I quickly grab SiS Rego (it comes in tubs or single serve, easy travel packets) and mix it in a shaker bottle with some ice and 500ml of water. It mixes up smooth (no weird chalky flavor) and is like starting my day with a tasty milk shake (it comes in strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla). I drink that before and after my shower and while getting ready for work. Then I start my day at my desk with high protein overnight oats for breakfast. This whole post-morning workout routine gets me about 40g of protein within 30-45 minutes. Evening workouts are similar in that I drink SiS REGO immediately after the workout and then have dinner within an hour.
Maintaining this regimented workout and nutrition practice has me feeling full and energetic all day, and I wake up the next day without feeling depleted or starving. In fact, most of my morning workouts are completed in a fasted state and I never have that yucky empty stomach feeling. According to Science in Sport website, REGO Recovery also includes 2g of amino acid Leucine, which aids in muscle tissue recovery and repair. REGO Recovery is a soy-based protein, gluten free, wheat free, and nut free. This has been one of my favorite, effective post-workout recovery mixes. Head over to the Science in Sport website and check it out for yourself!
Here’s what other BibRave Pros have to say about REGO Recovery:
The running industry recently lost a friend and supporter, Tony Banovich. Tony was the Race Director for the Missoula Marathon and Executive Director of the nonprofit Run Wild Missoula. I never had the opportunity to meet Tony, but he was a big supporter of BibRave, and a 2-time guest on the BibRave Podcast. Hearing him on the podcast made it clear his passion for running, the running community in general, and his community of Missoula, Montana. I’ve never been to Montana but knew, without a doubt, that I would run the Missoula Marathon one day simply from hearing his enthusiasm for the town and the race. Please listen to Tony’s BibRave Podcast episodes here and here to experience his story, passion, and humor. Run Wild Missoula sums it up by describing Tony as “kind, generous, and encouraging of all, welcoming countless members of new runners over the years.” There needs to be more Tony’s in the world.
To honor Tony’s legacy and support his beloved Run Wild Missoula, BibRave, Event Southwest, and Louisville Running Company have created The Tony Banovich Roads, Tracks, and Trails Memorial Run. Participants have from 11/12 to 12/31 to run 4.35 miles, the average daily distance of Tony’s 1,731 day run streak. All proceeds from the event will be donated To Run Wild Missoula, the organization near and dear to Tony’s heart. As we reach the end of this ridiculous year, I think there’s no better way to stay motivated and healthy than honoring someone who encouraged others to stay motivated and healthy.
While you can run/walk/hike 4.35 miles anytime between now and 12/31, I’ve decided to add a personal challenge by averaging Tony’s daily mileage for the event period, 217.5 miles in 50 days. Registration is $35 and includes a commemorative pin, donated by Ashworth Awards, embossed with Banovich’s signature email send-off – “See you on the roads, tracks, and trails.” Run for yourself, run for others, run for Tony.
“Disclaimer: I received an entry into Grandma’s Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
As more and more road races were cancelled this year due to COVID-19, I’m sure many of us started to wonder when (or if) we’d be able to run races IRL again. I was really lucky my “A” race this year was a trail ultramarathon that, due to it’s size and the spread out nature of running 100 miles, was able to take place, albeit under modified conditions. However, some of my favorite road races such as AJC Peachtree Road Race, NYC Marathon, and other major events were all cancelled and/or forced to move to virtual events this year. Many folks have opted to not even risk signing up for future events until the post-COVID world becomes more clear (will it ever?). As races try to plan for the future, I’ve decided that registering for events is a good way to support race organizations, help them continue to plan contingencies, and keep myself motivated through winter. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce that I plan to check off another state next year and run the 45th Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota!
Here’s 5 reasons why you should join me at Grandma’s next June:
1. Grandma’s Marathon has a perfect 5-star rating on BibRave.com and has consistently made it to the top of the BibRave 100! “When the entire town looks forward to Marathon weekend, you know it’s going to be a party! “
2. Race management has a robust COVID19 contingency plan including limiting the field to half capacity, offering a virtual option, and 40% off registration discount for up to 3 Grandma’s race weekends between 2022 and 2026. Contingency details can be found here.
3. It’s a point-to-point race run entirely along Lake Superior. Rumor has it, the lake makes a great post-race ice bath. 😛
4. Average temperatures in Duluth in June are high of 66 and low of 49. Enough said.
5. Forget the pre-race shuttle: Grandma’s has a pre-race TRAIN RIDE! WOO WOO!
This will be my first time to Minnesota and I’m really excited for this famously hospitable race. Convinced to join me yet? The half marathon is already sold out (although they may open more slots next year once COVID situation is more known), but you can register for the marathon and/or 5k for 10% off with code BIBRAVE1021 at this link.
It’s been one week since I embarked on the Yeti 100 with the stretch goal (it seemed that way at the time) of earning the coveted sub-24 hour buckle. They say there’s no such thing as a perfect 100 miler, but locking down as many controllable factors as I could, tackling the race as something that should mentally be easier than completing a PhD, and surrounding myself with amazing support led to results beyond what I had even imagined. I believe there’s some key takeaways to training and racing (during COVID), and crushing my goal in 22 hours and 44 minutes.
1. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky
I finished my first Yeti 100 (and first and only other 100) in 2017 in just under 29 hours (30 hour cutoff). I truly believe ANYONE who wants to can finish a 100 if you have mediocre fitness and mental grit. Honestly, finishing a 100 is NOT easy but as long as you keep moving forward you can finish even if you hike the whole time. I never questioned whether I could finish in 2017, but I felt generally pretty crappy the whole time and did question whether I would ever have the fitness to be more competitive and actually manage a sub-24 hour finish. It seemed pretty unattainable at the time but I’ve made it my business to try hard things, so why not? The bug got in my ear and I volunteered at the 2019 race so I would have a guaranteed spot in 2020 to go for it; you never know what you’re capable of until you try something that previously seemed impossible.
2. “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” ~Walt Disney
Once I set the sub-24 hour goal, I knew things would have to be different in 2020 in order to make it happen. The 2 aspects of training I never quite mastered previously were nutrition and strength training. I suspected if I could implement a strong plan including both of these missing elements that it would help get me closer to my fitness goals, including the sub-24 hour finish. I avoided crossfit for so many years but joined OxFit near my home in Grant Park at the beginning of January and immediately jumped into their fitness challenge to jump start the journey. My thought process/experiment was if I could hit the strength training hard and then start increasing my running mileage, including double crossfit/run days, it would train my body to run long on tired muscles. The benefits were several-fold: ability to run faster even on tired legs, improved recovery times, and decreased muscle imbalance. The workouts moved to Zoom for several months during early-COVID and it became a great way to stay strong and motivated. 7 months later, I’m in the best shape of my life, and lost nearly 25 lbs and over 10% body fat. Carrying less weight over long distances definitely adds up.
3. “Oh would some power the giftie gie us, To see ourselves as others see us.” ~Robert Burns
Due to COVID, the Yeti 100 course was changed to make it more accessible to those self-supporting since some crew may not have been able to travel. It also allowed for more frequent aid stops using less physical aid stations, i.e. less volunteers, logistics, etc. However, even though self-supporting at Yeti is more than doable, even during a “normal” race year, there’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with amazing people. A couple months before the race I reached out on FB to see who would be interested in crewing/pacing and ended up with a badass lady gang crew consisting of 3 Atlanta Track Club friends and 1 new friend local to the race course in Damascus who connected with me through mutual friends. Just knowing I had friendly faces to see every 16ish miles, who were able to hook me up with snacks, drinks, motivation, etc. was enough to keep me moving consistently through most of the race. I must have been really excited to see them because I ended up at least an hour ahead of my proposed pace for most of the race lol. Definitely find yourself a crew, both for life and races, who are positive, motivated, and flexible.
4. “It’s when the discomfort strikes that we realize a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all.” ~Chrissie Wellington
At a certain point in life, in a marathon, in a ultramarathon…whatever…you’re going to feel like shit. This is when the heart and mind start brawling worse than the Real Housewives of Atlanta. In Jesse Itzler’s book, “Living with a SEAL”, we learn about the Navy SEAL 40% rule: When your mind is trying to convince you that your body is down for the count and you’ve lost the fight, you’re actually only 40% done. 40% is A LOT. You can become President with less support than 40% so you can certainly keep moving forward with that.
5. “Every storm runs out of rain.” ~Maya Angelou
For what is now known as the “Weti Yeti” this is an absolute LIE. But what kid doesn’t love to run in the rain…right??
6. “The best way out is always through.” ~Robert Frost
Remember that rain mentioned above? Or what about COVID? Guess what? It’s not going away and it’s out of your control. Worry about what you can control, like your training and nutrition…and wearing a mask. Shut up and run.
7. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you cant walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was moving consistently on 4:2 intervals like, as my friend says, “a steady Yeti” for 82 miles. Then, I was tired of moving, tired of being nauseous, and just plain tired, so I hiked my damn heart out for 18 miles until that shit was done. I never sat down and I never stopped for more than 5 minutes to use the bathroom and/or force myself to eat potatoes or soup at an aid station. Remember how I said at the beginning that anyone can finish this shit if you KEEP MOVING FORWARD? Yeah, keep doing that. The finish line never gets closer if you stop to worry about shit that’s out of your control.
In case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about…