Part One: Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival Kick Off
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!!!
Laura @ Raise Your Garden says
Such an inspirational post!
And can I just admit, I ate 3 whole watermelons myself this week. Oink Oink. They are the best treat for me after working out.
Loving Sarah’s optimism, I need to stop feeling so self-conscious when I run or work-out and just go for it. I always feel like in a class, everyone’s staring at how ridiculous I look…but really….they’re just focusing on their own workout!
Fun!! It sounds like quite an experience. I’ve been wanting to try sparkly soul headbands. It’s adorable that they made a race-specific one.
Michele @paleorunningmomma says
What an incredible experience! Looking forward to the recap 🙂
Rachel @ Blonde with a Chanse says
What an amazing experience for you! I bet it was an awesome afternoon. I’m going to check out more about “The Stick” because I have never heard of it before. And your food looks sooo tasty! It’s pretty early where I am at and your plate of food is making me hungry ha!
Megan @ The Skinny-Life says
What an amazing experience. I love your pink dress!
Thank you! It’s from TJMaxx! 🙂
Wow, what an awesome opportunity! I can’t wait to hear about the race.
Looks like a blast! So cool to meet so many inspirational people who have had such a huge impact on the sport! Looking forward to the race recap!
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats says
What a cool expo! And I’m similar – I love to run for fun but I’m definitely not there to be speedy!
Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli says
Shalane Flanagan is such an inspiration!
Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie says
What an amazing trip! All that food looks amazing.
And yes to what Sarah said about overcoming embarrassment. As my Zumba teacher says, if you’re not feeling silly you’re not putting it all out there!
I love that! 🙂
It looks like you had such a great time. I love and completely agree when you say… “Don’t let my concerns about what others may think of me stop me from immersing myself in something that brings me joy.” – I am working big time on this too 🙂
Natalie @ Twenty-Something Talk says
What an awesome weekend! SO jealous! It is nice to have something like this weekend to refresh your passion for running!
Audrey @ In Shape Cupcake says
Ah you got to meet Shalane! Jealous! Looked like a fun expo!
Emily @ Fit as a Mother... says
Looks like a great time! So jealous!
I’m incredibly inflexible too….actually meeting a trainer this week to start working on it from a weight lifting angle though…should probably take up yoga too! 🙂 LOVE the purple dress!
Chelsea @ A Fit LittleOne says
How fun!! I don’t know why, but Q&A’s with people, I love reading and hearing those haha. And dang!! Her workout schedule sounds intense, there is no way I could do that, well maybe if it was my career I could 🙂
I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t touch their toes! I barely get past my knees! Super inflexible!
Sounds like you had an amazing time and spoke to some incredibly inspirational people. 😀
Bre & Ree @bumpandrunchat says
It sounds like it was such a motivational start to a race weekend. I would have loved to sit in the talk with Shalane, how amazing to have met her! I can’t wait to hear about the race!
It was awesome meeting you this weekend!! It is easy to see immediately why you are so successful with this blog. You are so approachable and easy to talk to. I’ve been a huge fan of the blog for years and was thrilled when you announced your trip to Boston. Thanks for taking the time away from your day to chat with us, you made our weekend too!
I am so, so glad you said hi!! I absolutely loved meeting you and hope we somehow bump into each other again. 🙂
Ashley Pitt @ A Lady Goes West says
Wow! That is awesome that you got to hear from such inspirational athletes. Sweet potato salad sounds yummy.
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions says
I love what you have to say about not letting embarrassment stop you from doing what brings you joy. I take weekly dance classes and spent a lot of last month doing yoga. Sometimes when I do that stuff, I get all caught up in how awkward I look, how “not cool” I am (I take hip hop classes, so coolness is definitely an element 😉 ), and how everyone must think I look like an idiot. Then I realize that I’m not looking at ANYONE in the mirror but myself, which means chances are everyone else in the room is only looking at themselves as well. I’m not “in it to win it,” as it were, at yoga or at dance — it’s all just for fun! Letting my fear of other people judging me get in the way of having a good time does me no favors.
Lauren @ Will Run for Boston says
I got the chance to say hi to Bart Yasso after the 10K this weekend and all I could say was “so nice to meet you, I did your workout on Tuesday!” and he just smiled and said “Thank you” hahah so embarrassing/funny!
I gotta admit, you make running look good. Like, when I saw you on the 10k course, you looked like a million bucks. You are just as outgoing and friendly in “real life” as you appear to be on your blog and it was great to meet you this weekend!! Congrats on killing the Five-and-Dime. Come back to Boston soon!
Oh my gosh you flatter me! I’m pretty sure I looked like I was dying on those hills! 🙂 I’m so, so happy I had a chance to meet you, Jenn! Thank you for saying hi and reading my blog!
Jenn@ Mark My Miles! says
So jealous that you met my favorite runner : )
So happy you enjoyed an amazing weekend!!!!
Leslie @ Life Begins @ 30? says
What a fun weekend! It looks like you got to meet tons of inspirational people!
I feel the same about my lack of flexibility in an entire yoga class… Embarrassing. Just have to remember that none of these people are even noticing!
That sounds like such a cool event! I love Shalene and try to follow her. I would love to do that event sometime!
Amy @ fitnessmeetsfrosting says
Ahhhh so cool that you got to meet Shalane! And love love love that you/Sarah talk about being insecure and how you can’t let that stop you! I’m always scared to try a new class at the gym for that reason- which is silly!
Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime says
I can’t get over training from 8:30-noon then running again! The dedication … dang!
Thank you for sharing the inspirational tips from Shalane and Sarah. I’ve been struggling with the “woe is me I’m out of shape” grumps lately and it’s keeping me from jumping back into it. I just gotta get over the fear and look forward, not back!
It sounds like a wonderful time!!
Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork says
Looks like such a great time! I was enjoying the weather from not too far away and was sad I couldn’t make it there (obligations!). I also love the Stick and often prefer it to the foam roller. We originally bought it for our trip to Europe as I was dealing with an injury at the time and knew I’d need some rehab after walking all day. I wasn’t about to use valuable space on a foam roller, so I bought this instead and was so happy with it! It’s great on the IT band, glute, and forearms (I’m at a computer all day).
Polly @ Tasty Food Project says
Sarah is such an inspirational person! That’s amazing that she kept pushing herself to overcome her insecurities. Fitness-wise, I usually get really nervous whenever I try a new group fitness class. I do hot yoga and I’m not very flexible either but I love it! I just purchased some barre classes on Groupon and I’m excited to try it for the first time but also very nervous. I know I’ll be ok if I just push myself through it. Thanks for sharing this post!
Christina @ justmarried12.blogspot.com says
What a great reminder of how many things people are strong enough to overcome in life! Inspired 🙂
Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health says
I feel ya on the inflexible problem. I’m always hesitant to do yoga because of that reason but you’re right, it’s not about how you look in front of other people. Plus it’s so good for your body and your mind. I need to make it happen more often!
Sarah @ Sweet Miles says
So jealous you got to meet Shalane! How was all of this organized for the bloggers? This looks like so much fun!!
8:30 – noon and THEN a run at the end of the day too? Sounds like a full time job! I’m tired and want a Twinkie just thinking about that.
Sarah @ Sarah Sincerely says
What a fun and educational day! I cannot believe Shalane works out/runs that much! I’d be so interested to know how she fuels and re-fuels for all of that. I love her positivity.
Ok, so now I want someone to analyze my foot…
Unrelated to the post haha but I love that pink dress! It is so cute!
Ha! Thank you!!
Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties says
omg- cannot believe how long Shalane exercises for!! I guess that’s how you get so speedy- but DANG! That is a lot of running 🙂
Abby @ BackAtSquareZero says
I was IG stalking these pictures all weekend. Looked like the most fun.
Such an awesome day! I also loved all of the weekend’s events and meeting Shalane on Saturday after the five and dime 🙂
You have some of the best outfits! LOL Totally unrelated to this post…