On the Friday before the official kick off of the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill races, I had the chance to sit in on two inspirational and informational sessions with two incredible athletes.
First, the group of Runner’s World bloggers had a chance to meet Sarah Reinersten, a Paralympian and the first woman to finish the Ironman World Championship on a prosthetic leg.
Sarah’s optimistic attitude was so refreshing and I enjoyed learning more about her running career, her experiences with the U.S. Disabled Track Team and her love of triathlons. The part of Sarah’s talk that I found most interesting was when she addressed overcoming the insecurity and fear that came along with having a prosthetic leg. She said she felt so embarrassed at the thought of removing her leg at a pool that she avoided swimming for a long time. She followed up this story by saying, “You cannot let fear or embarrassment stop you.”
This obviously applies to every aspect of our lives, but when I thought about fitness-related activities, I know I have personally let embarrassment affect me. I love running in races purely for the joy of the experience. I think the atmosphere of a race is electric, but sometimes I can feel a little insecure when I find myself at events with bloggers who are totally kick-butt runners.
I also really enjoy yoga but I am almost always one of the most inflexible (if not the most inflexible person) in a yoga class. I have to remind myself that most people around me don’t care or even notice me and my lack of flexibility. I highly doubt the woman on the yoga mat next to me is laughing in her head at my inability to touch the ground with straight legs. If I love it, I need to do it and enjoy it. Don’t let my concerns about what others may think of me stop me from immersing myself in something that brings me joy.
The second session of the day was en exciting one because it involved running superstar Shalane Flanagan.
Shalane ran a 2:22:02 marathon at the Boston Marathon this year, won a bronze medal in the 10,000 m at the Olympics in Beijing and currently holds the American record in the 3000 m (indoor), 5000 m (indoor), 10,000 m, and 15K road race. She’s ridiculously fast!
Shalane’s session took on more of a Q&A format and her down-to-earth answers had us laughing! Here are a few highlights:
- Shalane tries hard not to think about anything when she’s running and focuses on her breathing and surroundings
- Her two mantras during Boston this year were “Do it for those who can’t” and “Run without fear”
- Though she was upset about not winning Boston this year, after Rita (the winner of Boston) told Shalane that she paced her, Shalane said that somewhat helped soften the disappointment and helped her realize that her contribution to Boston was helping others rise to their best
- She views pressure as a privilege
- Shalane tries hard to smile through the pain and keep positive
- Her favorite post-race meal is a burger, fries and a beer
- She surrounds herself with great people who motivate and inspire her
- When she feels burn out creeping in, she tries to take a day off and get out (possibly to get her nails done) to help her focus on something other than running
- Her favorite non-running workout is swimming
- She typically works out from 8:30 to noon everyday (a run followed by strength training) and then goes for another run at the end of the day
After our time with Shalane and a fun fashion show with Running Skirts, it was time for lunch!
The lunch prepared for our gang followed recipes from the Runner’s World cookbook. The cookbook includes recipes created to maximize a runner’s performance with 150 easy and delicious recipes. If the dishes we previewed are any indication, the recipes in this cookbook are on point!
I filled my plate with a sandwich, watermelon and feta salad and a sweet potato and spinach salad.
I went back for more watermelon and sweet potato salad because they were so tasty!
While we ate, we had the opportunity to chat with Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World who ran a race on every continent! He is also the mastermind behind the Yasso 800s, a workout and method of predicting your marathon time based on how fast you can run 800 meters. His passion for running is so apparent when he speaks. He estimates he has probably completed close to 2,000 races!
With lunch and our morning sessions under our belts, it was time for our group to pick up our bibs and check out the race expo!
The race expo was not too big and included lots of great sponsors and booths.
I first stopped by a booth where I was able to get my feet analyzed. I learned that I have a high arch, but good foot flexibility. As it was explained to me, since the flexibility of my foot is decent, I don’t need to look for shoes for people with high arches. The recommendation I received was to look for a more neutral shoe and stay away from shoes with a ton of stability and support and those that are extremely minimal. Middle of the road running shoes are apparently best for me!
A few of my favorite vendors from the expo:
- The Stick: This thing is amazing. It feels incredible on my muscles and I cannot express in words the relief it gave me after Saturday’s hilly races. Phew!
- Sparkly Soul Headbands: This no-slip headband company made a “Heartbreaker” headband especially for this race. It’s adorable and stayed in place without any issues during my races.
- Health Warrior Chia Bars: I’ve blogged about these bars before and the new flavors are just as delicious as the old ones. (The mango is fantastic!)
During the expo and over the course of the race weekend, I also had the fantastic opportunity to meet many of YOU. This was easily a highlight of the weekend for me and I absolutely loved chatting with you guys. I cannot thank you enough for saying hi and reading this blog!
I hope you all rocked your races and had a blast!
Race recap to come!!!