Help Me Run for Kids (For 12 Hours)!

By April 21, 2015 Birmingham, Running, Trail Running, Ultra Training
Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

Well friends, I have decided to make my trail race comeback in the coolest way possible—next Saturday I’m doing the Run for Kids 12-hour Challenge and raising money for children with cancer to go to camp.

Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

Because all kids deserve to have shaving cream wars

Why is this race so special, you ask? David and Mary Jo Tosch of Southeastern Trail Series donate 100% of proceeds to Camp Smile-A-Mile—an organization that provides year-round camp services for kids with cancer, their families and siblings, and cancer survivors. Tosch started Run for Kids in 2011, basing it off the popular Ride of Love. Every year since then, Run for Kids has grown and donated more money—last year they raised over $8,000!

Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

And run!

Y’all. I never ask for donations. Ever. But I’m going to now. Please consider donating, whether it’s a flat amount or sponsoring me for something like $1 (or $100!)/mile I run. FYI—I’m shooting to run between 40 and 50 miles. That’s like a nice dinner out. You can afford that!

Not quite convinced yet? Here’s why you should loosen up your purse strings for the kiddos:

You worry about PRs, these kids worry about surviving until prom.

Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

Party animals

You worry about roots or potholes, these kids are happy to get out of bed and walk.

You worry about hydration vest tubes and bottles—oh wait, IV tubes are just a tad bit worse.

Rolled your ankle? These kids wish that’s all they had to worry about.

Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

Remember your summer camp lanyards?

Your aid stations = bacon and Tailwind. Their aid stations = chemo cocktails.

A few bucks will buy you a new Lulu outfit. A few bucks will buy them another day of enjoying life.

Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

Tosch. You’re killing me. #allthetears

You want to be first in your age group. They sure as hell don’t want to have cancer in their age group.

Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

I want to just scoop them up and hug them!

You want to hurry up and finish a run. They wish they could run all day.

Your win = buckle. Their win = life.

These kids need superheros in their life, and we trail runners can be their superheros.

 

If you want to help, you can sponsor me and let me know how much per mile you’d like to donate, or go here and select “Other Event” and type in Run for Kids. And tell me that you donated! I’ll bake cookies and give you hugs! And love you forever.

Run For Kids Challenge, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Southeastern Trail Series, trail running, ultra running, Oak Mountain State Park

Help me help them!

Things That Crack Me Up

By April 15, 2015 Ramblings
politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

As my dad says, I am one sick puppy. I have a sense of humor that will make you cringe and question why we ever became friends. It’s dark, folks. Dark.

But sometimes we need a good belly laugh. One that makes tears stream down your face, leaves you unable to breathe, and works your abs more than any core workout. A laugh without explanation or judgement.

If you need a hump day pick-me-up (especially those of you in the rainy ‘Ham), step on into the crazy world of Tanya humor. But beware.

Dead animals—I won’t explain it. No, I can’t explain it. Dead animals make me laugh. Particularly cats. Now I’m not talking about your precious Fluffy dying and me laughing in your face, I mean things like this new “Get Well Soon” roadkill trend. Or this little girl and the dead squirrel. And if you really want to turn me into a useless pile of giggles, ask me to tell you about Morris the cat.

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

Get it? GET IT? It CAN’T get well…

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

One day, I will be an awesomely mean parent…

Helen Keller—Sweet Helen was an inspiration to us all and had more talent than I have in my little finger. But nothing, nothing is better than a Helen Keller joke. Why did she burn her ear, why is she in the closet, where is her dollhouse? The more inappropriate, the harder I laugh and secure my spot in hell.

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

*cries*

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

Can’t…breathe…

Moon Moon—Have you met Moon Moon, basically the greatest meme ever to exist? It’s also the epitome of every husky to ever exist ever, as exemplified by my very own Sasha. As soon as I discovered Moon Moon, it was like a new world opened up. No, my dog isn’t deranged. She’s just…Moon Moon.

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

*Rolls*

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

My own Moon Moon

Blueberries—Every time. EVERY TIME. If you don’t laugh too, you’re dead inside.

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

“It’s yum-a!”

Eurotrip—This movie never fails to leave me rolling laughing. Best scene? Fred Armisen on the train. Or the dog running around with the human hand, because, dead things. Or the greatest song ever, “Scotty Doesn’t Know.” Hell, the entire movie rocks.

politically incorrect jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Moon Moon,

Error! Error! Error!

These are just the very tip of the Tanya’s humor iceberg. All others are not fit for public consumption. If you made it this far, congrats on still being my friend! Now I’d love to hear what weird, crazy things make you double over with a case of the giggles.

Why Runners Should Try Jiu Jitsu

By April 13, 2015 Birmingham, Cross Training, Running
Spartan Fitness Homewood, jiu jitsu, runners doing martial arts, BJJ, kickboxing, benefits of jii jitsu, martial arts gym in Birmingham

Say what? Jiu-who? I know, I was the same way a few months ago.

Back in the fall, I took to my blog to whine about my various injuries, disappearing fitness level, and overall frustration. Enter Kate, Birmingham Track Club Volunteer Chair and her boyfriend Mario Santana. They both read my blog, and Kate suggested that I try some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes with Mario to burn off some steam and get back into shape.

I had never considered martial arts as a form of cross training. I knew that it was a good workout, but I had never seen myself as a “karate kid” type. Me, the world’s most accident-prone girl flipping bodies and putting people into choke holds? Nope. Plus, I didn’t quite see how it’d help my fitness as a runner. Boy was I wrong.

Spartan Fitness Homewood, jiu jitsu, runners doing martial arts, BJJ, kickboxing, benefits of jii jitsu, martial arts gym in Birmingham

The warm up alone had me completely spent – so much for this being “easy”

Mario teaches and trains at Spartan Fitness in Homewood. He’s been training there for the past five years and teaching for over two, so he really knows his stuff. The gym offers BJJ, Muay Thai, boxing, and MMA for all levels. They also do personal sessions—I worked with Mario for an hour and a half before taking a beginner BJJ class so that I wouldn’t make a complete fool of myself.

And it.was.awesome. Mario literally kicked my ass, but then I got to choke him in return. Fair trade.

Flexibility—Have you ever watched a BJJ match? YouTube one and then come back. Good? Did you see, there is a ton of flexibility needed! Whether you’re stretching your hip flexors while your legs are wrapped around your opponent’s back, or you’re engaging your back muscles while doing scorpions, all of the moves will translate into more flexibility on your runs.

Core strength—Like in running, a strong core is key for BJJ. Many times you’re in a closed hold with your hips in a bridge.

Spartan Fitness Homewood, jiu jitsu, runners doing martial arts, BJJ, kickboxing, benefits of jii jitsu, martial arts gym in Birmingham

Hold a bridge forever while trying not to be submitted? Kick-ass ab workout!

Endurance—On easy runs, distance runners can go for miles without getting winded. But in BJJ, doing warm-ups across the mat or doing a 90-second match will leave you panting, since you’re engaging different muscle groups. Which will help on future runs!

Acceptance of failure—You will get submitted many times in class, and you will get frustrated. But you need to bounce back quickly, because there’s always another match. The classes teach you how to channel that frustration and learn from your mistakes. Kind of like a bad race, eh?

Mind/body awareness—Every movement in BJJ is deliberate and meant to both keep you safe and harm (in a real-life situation) the other person. Channeling that awareness can translate into running as well—we need to always be conscious to keep our shoulders relaxed and core engaged, all while not tripping over our feet.

Self defense—An attack can happen any time, anywhere. These classes are invaluable if the day ever comes when someone tries to take advantage of you.

Spartan Fitness Homewood, jiu jitsu, runners doing martial arts, BJJ, kickboxing, benefits of jii jitsu, martial arts gym in Birmingham

Like a bunch of those bugs that roll around, only these are lethal

Self esteem—Knowing you can tackle an opponent, whether in a match or a race, is priceless.

Humility—“There is always someone better than you, and you will always be better than someone else. Which means, we’re always in a permanent state of learning and teaching,” Mario explained to me. Now, doesn’t that sound a bit like running?

Patience—Just like you don’t run a marathon after a week of training, you don’t master BJJ in one class. Ranking up to a black belt can take a decade or more, but imagine how much you’ll learn and achieve in that time?

Fun—As Mario said, “BJJ is designed for smaller people to beat larger, faster opponents. Your technique and intelligence play a large roll during a sparring match…it’s like chess with bodies.” C’mon. How cool is that?

Spartan Fitness Homewood, jiu jitsu, runners doing martial arts, BJJ, kickboxing, benefits of jii jitsu, martial arts gym in Birmingham

Fun fact – you really do practice choking to almost the point of blacking out. So if you have some steam to let off…I kid.

It’s hard for runners to leave their comfort zones and try something new—especially something as different as BJJ. But the physical and mental benefits vastly outweigh the initial awkwardness. So go ahead and flood Mario’s inbox with class requests. He’ll make you a safer, stronger runner!

Spartan Fitness Homewood, jiu jitsu, runners doing martial arts, BJJ, kickboxing, benefits of jii jitsu, martial arts gym in Birmingham

Become a badass. Train with this dude.

Three Cheers for Thighs!

By April 10, 2015 Ramblings
Thighs

It’s been a minute since I have gone on a thigh gap diatribe (Rant One and Rant Two). And I started to feel the itch to spew some skinny leg-hate. But then I was like, “Hold up homegirl, why don’t you share some thigh love instead?” So here we go.

I feel like sooner rather than later, thigh gaps will phase out and full, muscular thighs will become a thing. Hell, Megan Trainor has it right! If we can be all about that bass, we can be all about the thighs too!

Now let me be perfectly clear – I am NOT bashing anyone who has naturally thin thighs. This is to counteract all those posts about how to achieve an unnatural thigh gap. To combat the crazies. Today, we celebrate legs of all sizes! 

Now who’s with me? Let’s love our thighs!

They hold up your body—These babies are like tree trunks. And tree trunks need to be solid like a rock to support the rest of the tree, right? Wait, I’m mixing up my analogies. And natural objects. You get my drift.

They help you power up those mountains—Trail running is not for the weak. You need some serious meat on those legs to get up and down those hills. Unless you’re an elite and built like a lithe cheetah. Which I am not.

thigh gap, celebrate big thighs,  trail running, ultra running

What’s that Southern saying? The larger the thigh, the closer to God?

They add shape—A woman’s body is meant to be curvy. You should have a thigh, a calf, and an ankle. Unless you have cankels, which is ok. Embrace it! Anyway, the thigh should be big!

They fill your shorts holes—We all agree that shorts have holes for your legs, yes? Good-sized thighs fill them! It’s like we learn in preschool – put the round leg into the round hole. Those shorts aren’t tight, you’re just doing it right!

They cheer for you—I’m totally stealing this from the meme, because it’s true. You have two loyal cheerleaders who follow your every move—be thankful for them! Chafing is just a small price to pay for that, quit yo’ whining.

thigh gap, celebrate big thighs,

Every day.

They make bathing suit shopping an exciting scavenger hunt—Grabbing two pieces of a bikini in the exact same size? Piece of cake! Finding a matching top and bottom in drastically different sizes may not be simple, but oh how rewarding it feels when you hit the jackpot!

They are strong—Thighs, no matter their size, are strong as fuck. They’re like the Planet Fitness commercial—they pick things up and put them down. All day. Every day. They carry you for miles. They help you explore the world.

They help you with food storage—What do women always say? “This (insert food here) will go straight to my hips and thighs!” Um, your point is? That just leaves more room in your stomach for more food. And that’s awesome.

thigh gap, celebrate big thighs,

This is where I keep my cake and pasta

They make you look like an Olympic athlete—Have you seen the quads of an Olympic cyclist? Holy hell. Basically, the bigger the thigh, the closer you are to a gold medal.

thigh gap, celebrate big thighs,

Holy quads, Batman!

They are fucking sexy—The hottest part of a woman’s body (besides her brain)? Thighs, hands-down.

So next time you look in a mirror and lament your thighs, try singing a different tune. Love them, thank them for all they do. And whatever you do, don’t be ashamed of them.

thigh gap, celebrate big thighs,

Love ya, thighs!

The View from the Back of the Pack – Mercedes Marathon Recap

By February 25, 2015 Birmingham, Race Reports, Running
Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

This will be a different type of race report than the one I had originally planned to write. This is more of a rant-y one, a call-to-action. You’ve been warned.

The hubs and I ran the Mercedes Marathon this past weekend. This was my fourth year running it, and it is such a good race. Home turf, well-organized, full of friends, impressive medal and after party.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

The only Mercedes emblem I want to own

Originally, I was going to pace the hubs to a PR. But he had been battling bilateral Achilles tendonitis for a few weeks, and his ankles were obviously hurting. So my plan shifted to keeping him relatively uninjured and upright as he crossed the finish line.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

What a miserable little monkey

Because of this, we ran/walked and finished in 5:32:47, making us back-of-the-pack runners. Now, I’m usually a midpack runner, so this race was a whole new experience for me and opened my eyes to some things that made my blood boil. As we were running the final miles of the race, a lot of organizations and spectators started to leave. Before all the runners had passed. The fuck?

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Is this a race? Where are the people?

The hubs was too mentally checked out at this point to really notice or care. But it fired me up for my good friend Rachel, who was a few minutes ahead of us and running her first marathon. She and all the runners around us were missing out on cheers and smiles of encouragement—all things runners need and appreciate while running 26.2 miles.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

This girl is a marathoner!

I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m not referring to the official water stops—they were still up and running and well-supported. You all rock! I’m talking about some of the cheer stations who were either packing up before our eyes or were long gone when we ran past on the second loop.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Signs Resolute Running put out for their runners

Do you know what message you give when you break down early? That slower runners don’t matter. That they don’t deserve the same enthusiasm and support and encouragement as faster runners. And that’s terrible. Back-of-the-pack runners are not any less of a competitor. They pay the same race fee, put in as much, if not more effort, and spend the longest amount of time on the course.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Thankful for volunteers and moon pies at Mile 24

Put yourself in that runner’s position—you’ve spent hours on your feet, you’re cold, tired, hungry, wet. Despite all this, you’re excited to be out running and determined to finish the race. But there’s no one there to share your excitement with. The street where the music once blared is empty, the cowbells and cheers and funny signs missing, the faster runners long gone to the comfort of their hot showers. What a buzzkill.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Fuck it – we cheered for ourselves

To add insult to injury, at one point late in the race an acquaintance ran past me and asked what I was doing “all the way back here,” because I am “usually so speedy.” Right in front of the hubs and Rachel, who at that point were exhausted and giving 110%. I regret not swinging at said runner. It infuriates me that we’ve developed into such an elitist society that being “slow” is a bad thing. And. And! Who has the right to define what “slow” even is? AGH!

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

This group is not “slow” – we’re awesome

This is a huge reason why I gravitate toward trail running—there is no “slow,” and pace doesn’t matter. We’re all there to support each other. Runner #1 will win and hang around to wait for the DFL (dead fucking last) runner. The BUTS proved this unwavering support with their rocking aid station at Mile 10/23—right when struggling runners need an uplifting. The group was doing just as much singing, dancing, bubble-blowing, high-fiveing, and loving five hours into the race as they had been at the start of the race. And everyone appreciated it.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Dancing with the BUTS

All cheer stations and spectators need to adopt this mentality. Right now. When you leave early, you are telling back-of-the-pack runners that they aren’t important. That their efforts aren’t worthy of celebration. That if they want support, they need to speed up. And that’s so wrong. If you’re going to go cheer at a race, do it right. Commit to the entire race. Don’t peace out when you decide the race is over.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Thanks We Run Huntsville for great photos – you guys are good volunteers

I’m sure these people didn’t do it to be malicious. And I appreciate all cheer stations and spectators, I really do. It’s equally exhausting to be standing in sometimes crappy weather for hours handing out water and high fives and cheering until throats are sore. They make races fun and worth running. They can turn an entire race around.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

This superstar stood in the rain all six hours with this kickass sign

But we can do better—we need to do better. Let’s show runner #5001 as much love as runner #101. Because in the end, we’re all running the same race.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Done and done!

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

My adaptation of a “Flat Tanya” pre-race photo – I missed the Runner’s Rapture…

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Rachel and I photobombing a live race interview

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Accent nails. Because I’m so fancy.

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

What our last 10 miles looked like

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Smile, dammit!

Mercedes Marathon, marathon, back-of-the-pack runner, race volunteers

Mile 26 – we made it!

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