Inspiring Running Friends – Jodi South

Please welcome fellow Michigan runner, Jodi South

1. Favorite shoes (please include a picture):

I don’t really have a favorite shoe. I have found New Balance and Nike work well for me. I don’t spend a fortune on running shoes but I do replace them about every 4 months. I still have the silver pair of Nikes I wore in my first Boston marathon in 2010.

2. Favorite race/distance/Bucket-list race:

My favorite race distance is a 25K. More than a 1/2 marathon but not as brutal as a full. My 3 Bostons are the highlight of racing for me. My favorite race was the T-Rex 10 Mile Trail race I ran the last 4th of July and plan to do again. The trail was rigorous and entailed going over, under, across, through rocks, trees, creeks, steep hills you name it. It was very fun and adventurous. Bucket List: Great Turtle 1/2 Marathon on Mackinaw Island, Yellow Stone 1/2 Marathon, Ragnar Relay to name a few.

3. Trails, streets, or treadmill:

I do the majority of my running on the street. A true street runner. But I also love trails and feel trail racing calling out to me….I see more trail races in my future. It’s extremely rare for me to utilize the treadmill for a run.

4. Why did you start running?

I’ve been running for over 20 years. Running is just natural for me. I’ve always been into health and fitness and nothing gives me the workout that running does. Some people have coffee…I run. I feel most alive and free when I run. Running helps me work through stress, keep things in perspective, it’s my time to think, pray or just enjoy music and nature. When I don’t run my day feels “off”. I was born to run.

5. What keeps you motivated?

Keeping motivated is never a problem, I wake up…I run. Different races motivate different types of training and long runs. People tell me my running inspires them so that too provides motivation, it’s a cycle…I motivate you, you motivate me. I consider all who support me to be part of my team as their support pushes me even beyond what I push myself. It’s important to me to help others be fit, I believe in them and I want to help them to believe in themselves. I like the feeling of being healthy and fit and keeping the level of fitness I’ve achieved also motivates me. I hope to help people find a healthy balance for themselves as I truly believe fitness brings and maintains quality to life. #Be fit. #Be healthy. Be happy.

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Inspiring Runner Friends – Noel Shafer

Today, I get to share a bit about another runner friend who inspires me. Noel’s got a great running streak going as you’ll see below. How many days do you think he can go?

1. Favorite shoes Brooks Ghost

Brooks Ghosts

2. Favorite race/distance/Bucket-list race:

Don’t really have a favorite distance.. 5k to Marathon and have done a 50k.. I like always doing a different distance to not get in a rut

3. Trails, streets, or treadmill:

Streak runner (876 days) all outdoor miles.. mainly streets, but have done some trail races

4. Why did you start running?

1 started back running when I started coaching cross country. I ran about 200-300 miles during the season with my kids (five years). Then wanted to really get into shape. Started running throughout the year in Jan of 2013. Lost 50 pounds and got into the best shape of my life. Started to get faster and then started to love racing and challenging myself.

5. What keeps you motivated?

Running has made me big goal setter. Once I got into shape, I was getting faster. Started to run a lot of races, and challenged myself to see exactly how good I can become. When I started at 45 years old, I thought that I was too old to run real fast. I didn’t take long to keep crushing my goals and I would have to create bigger goals to go after. Now at 48, I just love running and training to be the best that I can be.

I love training, but racing so much more. Every weekend is race weekend for me. After getting in 50 and 55 races the last two year, and may get 80 this year. I love rewarding myself for a hard week’s training with a race (or more) on the weekend!!

Flashbacks

Last weekend I did a half marathon on the course where I did my first marathon in thirteen years. While I was prepared for the distance, I wasn’t prepared for the memories that would find me along the course.
The course followed the bike path around the lake. One lap for 13 miles, two laps for 26. When I did the marathon (my first in 13 years), I expected there would be less people on that second lap and that I would probably be running by myself for most of it. I could handle that. I did most of my training runs alone. It wouldn’t be much different. Right?
Wrong.
The first lap went well. There were lots of runners. The course was beautiful. The weather was perfect. There were spectators everywhere. My husband was biking around to take pictures and fill my water bottle, catching me every mile or so. It was great!
At mile 13, the majority of my running companions siphoned off the course to the finish line and I had to keep going.
In two miles, my kids would be cheering, so I had some motivation to keep going. I was also working on my caffeinated energy gels. Got to keep fueled up and the caffeine gives you an extra boost, right?
Wrong. Well, maybe for you.
I’m not a coffee drinker. In fact, I turn into a carsick hummingbird after a dose of caffeine. Unfortunately, I hadn’t made this connection with my energy gels. I figured my woozy stomach was from lack of fuel and water. (Let’s just say it took months to make this connection rather than days.) So I swallowed more gels. Those last miles were more unpleasant than they should have been. My husband missed me at one of his stops and didn’t catch up until I was 6 miles past him.
As I ran this past weekend, flashes of this race triggered in my head. Seeing the crowds cheering as we came around a corner and tackled a hill. Walking by a house. Walking by another house. Nobody cheering at that corner. The hill where I leap-frogged with another runner who had also adopted a run/walk strategy.  Walked by that house too. This stretch by the park, yes, this is where the swearing started.
As I came through the final mile, I remembered watching the half-marathoners veer to the right and the finish as I turned left and headed for the second lap. Their cheering sections were meeting them to celebrate.  This course ended at a different place. Again I had to keep going. I had lost sight of the runners in front of me and was once again running on my own.
But not really running on my own, I was running with the memories. As I came through that final stretch of the marathon course, some fellow runners who had completed their half were cheering me to the finish. I took that support with me through the last mile of this year’s half.

What Keeps Me Going

I’ve had some amazing races and some downright awful races.
Last year I did a marathon that fell decidedly in the latter category. Nothing about it went right. My food intolerances flared. I slept the night before. The inflammation, weakness, and nausea kicked in at mile two. How do you keep going when you know it just isn’t going to be your day?
I prayed, crying out to God for strength. I wasn’t going to get through this on my own.
I set milestones for the race and gave myself encouragement. At eight miles, there wouldn’t be as many hills for a while. At the halfway point, the wind would be at my back.
My husband and kids would appear on the course every mile or so to cheer. That would carry me for a few hundred meters.
At mile 12, I saw someone wearing a sweatshirt from my alma mater. Go Knights!
Earlier in the year, a devastating storm had crashed through the area, taking down trees all along the path. I tried to focus with wonder on the power that could do that. Anything to keep my mind off the pain that burned with every step.
I decided to take walking breaks at mile 14, but my family was there. I couldn’t walk in front of my kids.
At mile 19 that didn’t matter anymore. My husband gave me a hug and I started crying. I wasn’t sure I could go on. The last six miles were full of hills. He dropped the kids off at the bottom of every hill and they pushed me to the top.
Through each stride, I had to find strength somewhere. Each little thing got me a few yards farther down the course.
Sometimes we have big goals, but it’s the little motivations that make them happen.
How do you keep going on tough days?

Where I’m going

My last post was about last year and how the path to my goals didn’t work out the way I planned. Of the three big goals I set for the year, I achieved one and only by the skin of my teeth.

Of course lessons were learned and hopefully I can apply them to this year’s goals and training.

One of the lessons I struggled with was reevaluating goals as time passed. I set a yearly mileage goal of 2,015 miles, which averaged to around 7  miles a day if I took a rest day once a week. However, halfway through the year, I was behind the pace and desperately needed the rest time. I was afraid to take it because it would put me farther behind. (I’m a get it done early type of person, so you can imagine how frantic I was.)

It took another three months until I was willing to let go of that goal. I decided to get as close as I could, but if I could only go a mile on a day, I would be content, knowing that I was trying my best and doing as much as I could.

Maybe that’s when the clarity came… once I gave up the tight focus on how many miles I was going to run, I could see everything more clearly.

I discovered the problem wasn’t fatigue and overtraining, but food intolerance.

For 2016, I decided that a yearly mileage goal was too much. It didn’t allow me to make good decisions about rest when I needed it. It added stress when running is supposed to be my stress reliever. I’m not saying that once November and December roll around, I won’t try for a round number, but that isn’t my focus in February.

So far I have three races planned:
  • A trail half marathon In April with my running group.
  • A marathon at the end of May on a flat and fast course, hoping for a Boston qualifying time.
  • The last race is another trail half marathon with my running group in August. I’ve heard horror stories about the hills on this course. I fully expect to fall on my face at some point.
The difference this year is that I look forward to these races with excitement and fun instead of pressure and exhaustion.
What do you look forward to this running year?

Where I’ve Been

In order to tell you where I’m going, you need to know where I’ve been.

2015 was a rough year for me running-wise. I began January with lofty goals and excitement and food intolerance.

One of those goals was to sort out the food intolerance. Well, after much searching, I discovered a huge list of foods that made morning runs unpleasant, biggest among them: wheat and dairy. Once I had narrowed down my diet, I thought my biggest challenge was over and I could focus on training and the marathons I wanted to do.

Unfortunately something in my diet was still causing problems and not just digestive ones. My legs hurt. My knees hurt. My hips hurt. If I had been blindfolded for a mile, I would have sworn we had gone ten… barefoot… on gravel… uphill. So I stretched; I foam-rolled; I rested; I tried yoga; I took epsom salt baths; but nothing changed.

IMG_0940
My birthday present. It seemed fitting.

Challenges that were tough, but possible at the beginning of the year seemed like defeating Chuck Norris on steroids in October. My goal of running 2,015 in 2015 wasn’t going to happen. Three miles had my muscles screaming, how would I complete the 500 miles I had to go?

Then I gave up my protein shake and I felt better within three days. Something in the shake was adding to the inflammation and food intolerance. Suddenly, I could run again. Running felt amazing, like I was flying, like it was supposed to. There was joy in the movement again. I looked forward to tying my shoes and wrestling with my sports bra, so I could head out the door or turn on the treadmill. With glee, I calculated how many miles I needed each day to make the 2,015. As the end of the year approached, there was even the opportunity for rest days.

So of all the goals I set for 2015, I only achieved one.

2016 will be different.