Monday, April 28, 2008

Ya Gotta Believe...

Life is funny...It was a busy but great weekend. I was speaking down in Nashville at the Country Music Marathon. I drove down from Chicago and saw a sneak peak at spring heading our way (Chicago). Everything was blooming and green and it really gave me hope. Good thing because it is suppose to snow today in the windy city (argghhh!).

Anyway, here's the funny part. And by funny, I don't mean "ha-ha", I mean "aha". We were setting up our booth at the Expo and it was in a tight corner where we most likely wouldn't have seen very many folks. We asked Sandy, our friend and Expo Director if we could move to the booth behind and she said sure! We did, and in doing so, we were right across from a charity booth called Team McGraw. A nice guy named "Jeff" came over to introduce himself and asked me if I had lost my dad to a brain tumor. It took me back a little at first but I quickly realized why he was asking. He had read my blog about my father passing and his struggle with Glioblastoma (brain tumor) and wanted to tell me about the Tug McGraw Foundation. Remember Tug the famous baseball player?

"Ya Gotta Believe"-- The Tug McGraw Foundation was established by Tug McGraw in 2003 to raise funds to enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families by stimulating and facilitating research that addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual impact of the disease. The amazing part of all of this is Tug McGraw was diagnosed with brain cancer (same as my father), and on his journey developed this foundation. Tug wanted to create programs for brain tumor survivors and their families, friends and caregivers that would help them to face the often daunting challenge of this terrible cancer. He wanted to find partners fighting the same fight…with the same goals…and the same inspiration. He wanted to share his story, explain what brain cancer was all about, and inspire others to act. Truly Amazing...

The most difficult part of my father's final chapter for all of us was not feeling as if we were able to help him. We struggled with finding proper care, knowing which direction to turn and ultimately communicating with him.

I am in awe of what Tug was able to accomplish in his final months. They tell me he was given a few weeks to live and he turned that into a 10-month plan to make a difference. I've been looking for a charity to work with in honor of my father and it found me. Smack-dab in the middle of a race expo. If I hadn't been a runner I wouldn't have been there. If we hadn't moved our expo booth, we wouldn't have seen Jeff, Jennifer and Team McGraw. Life is funny...If you're listening, life presents itself to you.

Team McGraw is forming teams for the Chicago and New York City Marathons this season. To apply for the team or donate to the Foundation, visit their website HERE.

A special thanks to Jeff McMahon and Jennifer Brusstar for walking over to our booth. Jeff is the Keyboardist for Tim McGraw and a marathon runner. I'm not sure how he does it, but he trains for marathons is a very active spokesperson for the foundation AND is on tour! If he can do it... Jennifer is the CEO/President of the Foundation and was Tug's caretaker.

Happy Trails,


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Podrunner: Intervals

I've always been a huge fan of music. I can't make music and I can barely sing it, but I love listening to it. Especially when I run.

That's why I am thrilled to announce I am working with DJ Steveboy and DJ Beatsmith and their Podrunner:Intervals music mixes for runners. But before I go any farther, I need to take a few steps back in time...well, more than just a few!

A long, long time ago in a far away place, I used to teach step aerobics when I started my fitness career in corporate fitness. The key to teaching step well is to step to the beat, up, up, down, down. So I was always on the look out for great music mixes that flowed seemlessly from one tune to another at fixed beats per minutes. That way, I could optimally torture the folks in my class to the beat. It made the time roll by and the inches burn off. Loved moving to music then and still do now. Are you still with me?

Take that love of moving to the beat and think running. My friend Kathy turned me on to Podrunner and I have been running to DJ Steveboy's FREE fixed tempo music mixes ever since. In fact, I use the mixes to coach runners on form and efficiency. It is the most popular music podcast and a perfect musical resource for runners and cyclists. I am a firm believer that music improves performance. Every race I've run with my iPod has been my fastest. But that debate is for a very different blog.

Fast-forward to a few months ago. DJ Steveboy and DJ Beatsmith create another "most popular" podcast called Podrunner: Intervals or P:I for short. P:Intervals is a varied beats per minute workout mix of music geared to runners, run-walkers and walkers! They started with a "First Day to 5K" mix that took you from the couch to running 30 minutes or a 5K. I emailed him to tell him it was a brilliant idea - and here we are now co-creating training mixes for all levels of runners and walkers. Life is good. I get to coach in a new format (auditory) and work with two very talented and creative DJs. What is better than that?

So, I encourage you to try out the new Podrunner: Intervals mix we launched this week. It is called "Gateway to 8K" and is geared to helping you go from 30 minutes or a 5K to 50 minutes or a 8K. The mixes include a 5 minute walking warm-up - then intervals of 7 minutes of upbeat music for running followed by 1 minute of slower paced music to power walk - then a cool down. There are tones to indicate when the warm up begins, when you should run and walk and then cool down so you don't even need to look down at your watch...just listen. Plus there is a training tip from me at the end of every mix.

If you're running has been on break this season (you're not alone), start with the "First Day to 5K" series and build back up the fun the beat of some motivational music! You can find that series of mixes in the archives on the P:I homepage.

You can also download the free podcasts on iTunes. Just visit the iTunes Store, go to podcasts and do a search on Podrunner or Podrunner:Intervals!

It's Free, it's fun, and it will keep you moving and grooving...

Happy Feet, I mean Trails,


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Seasonal Bite Me Zone

Well, it sure it great to see the sun these days. It seems like all we're talking about in the midwest is the tough winter we've had. It wasn't just the snowiest, but just so darn gloomy! I slipped into the Seasonal Bite Me Zone in late March and just now coming out of it. The Bite Me Zone is that place you can reach in a race when your blood sugar drops too low and you want to bite your best friend's head off...We've all been there both in and out of a race and I'm just climbing out of mine.

Here is Chicago, you know its spring when the boats hit the lakefront. April 1st was a cold day, but the first day the avid boaters could unveil their treasures and hit the lake! For a runner, you know it is spring when your pale, dry legs finally see the sun on a run. I'm happy to report I've run twice now in shorts and every week it gets just a little warmer. The great thing about living in a four-season climate is you always appreciate the next season.

John and I are off to Columbus for our race, the Capital City Half Marathon and Commit To Be Fit 5K. We'll celebrate with 5,000 of our favorite runners in the area and reach record numbers.

until next week....happy trails


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Last Marathon

Wow, its great to be back. Well, actually we've been back for a few weeks now but traveling all over the place. The trip was fantastic and although I've been four times now, I still struggle with how to explain it all.

To me, the adventure is a huge part of it but it comes down to the people on the trip. Runners from all over the world on a ship for 10 days together, exploring a part of the world most will never see. The race is a tiny part of the experience and the runners and their stories become the spirit of each trip.

This year, we had a mountain runner from Poland slash the world record and run the course in 3:09, 30+ minutes faster than anyone has every covered the distance. On the women's side, two twins from Holland took first and second (we're not sure to this day which one won:). A fun race and another fascinating journey. By the way, that is me on the ATV on the top of the glacier climb leading the second place runner. John is on the other ATV on his way down. Very fun...

P.S. I didn't conquer my seasickness this time. Turns out we were on a much, much (much) smaller ship that was actually once used as an inter-island ferry to cross the Drake Passage. Although the seas were calm, I was rather sick. Hey, I'm a Cubs fan though so I have the words "there's always next year" embedded in my head!

Thanks for your patience and supportive emails!

Happy Trails,