Thursday, May 31, 2012

Leg Workout Routine

Written by Malissa

One of our goals is to tone up all of our "jiggly" areas on our body. We have been running for over a year now and have noticed that as much as we love running, it doesn't fix everything. My problem area has always been my legs. Running has helped a bunch but I've noticed that no matter how much running I do, there are parts of my legs that are still jiggly.

Carrie Underwood's leg workout routine has been floating around on pintrest for awhile so I thought I would give it a try. Oh my goodness, this workout is killer! I've done it three times this week and I can barely walk and forget about sitting down. Even though I'm in so much pain this week, when I run I don't feel any pain. I think that's proof that this workout is just what I needed!

These videos walk you through each step:

What are your favorite leg workouts?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chocolate Granola Bars

Written by Malissa

I have a huge sweet tooth, so it's only fitting that my first recipe is a sweet one. The kids and I love these granola bars. Owen doesn't like peanut butter, so his loss is our gain! They are so much better and healthier than the boxed granola bars.


Chocolate Granola Bars

Here's what you need:
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup local honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup oats (not quick oats)
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Mini work best, but it doesn’t really matter.)

What to do:
1. Melt the butter, peanut butter and honey in a pot over medium to low heat, stirring constantly.  Turn off the burner when melted.
2. Pour in the cup of oats, chocolate chips,and the wheat germ. Stir til combined.
3. Pour into foil-lined 8 X 8 pan and stick in the fridge.
4. Once cooled, flip out the bars onto cutting board and cut to the size you like.
5. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Written by Malissa

I've been asked by a few of my friends to add a section for new runners; sharing tips we've learned over the past year of running.

Tip #1 ~Shoes & Socks
Shoes can make or break your running experience. It's really important to get the right fit or you will end up injuring yourself.

We laugh when we think of our first pair of running shoes. We just bought the cheapest running shoes we could find. After about a month of running I started experiencing pain in my hips and my feet were always falling asleep. A friend of ours suggested we go to our local running store and be fitted for new shoes. Not only was I wearing the wrong type of running shoes, I was wearing a whole size too small.

 At a specialty running store the employees are trained to find the right pair of shoes for you. They watch you run to determine if you overpronate, underpronate, or are a neutral runner.

Once they determine your running style they will have you try on a few different shoes to see what feels best while running. Because your feet swell when you exercise, it's important to wear a half to a full size bigger than you normally wear. If you have raptor toes like Owen (second toe is bigger than your first), make sure you measure from your second toe.

Once you get your new pair of shoes, you will want to slowly work them into your running schedule. Start out by walking in them around the house, so your feet can get use to them. Then run a half mile, adding a little more each day. There may be a little discomfort at first but should go away within a couple of weeks.

Socks are important too! You want to wear a moisture wicking, dri-fit sock. If you are prone to blisters you will want to wear a thinner sock.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Training for Grandma's Marathon (BQ?)

Written by Owen:

I'm currently training for Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 16th.  Tomorrow is my last 20 miler followed by three weeks of tapering.  I've hit the roads harder than ever since the Big Sur Marathon back in April.  The reason for that is that I want to take a crack at qualifying for Boston.

My PR is 3:21:58 at the Myrtle Beach Marathon back in February.  My qualifying standard for Boston is 3:10.  To some that may not sound like a big difference, but it is HUGE.  I pushed myself really hard at Myrtle Beach, which is a pancake flat marathon.  I had trained pretty hard, and still hit the wall hard at mile 24, slowing by almost a minute per mile on the last two miles.  My average pace was 7:42.  In order to qualify for Boston at Grandma's, I'll have to run an average pace of 7:15 on a not as flat course.

Myrtle Beach Course Profile

Grandma's Course Profile
I feel really good, and my training has gone wonderfully since Big Sur.  My running log as I write this says I've ran 71 miles in the last 7 days; 218 in the last 30; and 2,001 in the last 365!  Today's 10 mile training run was at an average pace of 7:40 on severe hills.

All of that sounds like I can do it, it feels like I can do it, but the thought of running 26.2 miles at 7:15 is scary.  My fear is that I'll try... and bonk at mile 16 and have 10 miles of misery.  I really enjoy enjoying marathons.  I don't want misery.

As a backup plan, I made a custom pace tattoo on Taz Running that has both paces (beat my PR, and qualify for Boston). The column that looks like 14/41 means 7:14/7:41, the pace for that mile (to save room).

That way if I get out there and just don't think I can do it, I can always just try to PR.
My custom pace tattoo
Here are a couple of videos by C Tolle Run about Grandma's Marathon.

I am super excited for Grandma's, only three weeks to go!  Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Right Moves for Youth Twilight 5k

May 11, 2012 7:00 PM
Charlotte, NC

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Michael 21:12 6:49 M1-14 6/75 103/626 118/1197 1033

Written by Owen:

This was the second race of the Run For Your Life's Grand Prix Series. We missed the first one while we were in California for the Big Sur Marathon.  It is a series of 5k's, which finish with a 10k and then a 15k.  They assign points based on how you do each race, and at the end of the year award some pretty cool prizes.  We decided to let Michael run each race to see how he does.  They let you throw out your two lowest scores for the year, which is a good thing because we will also be missing the race on July 4th so we can run Peachtree again.

The race was in uptown Charlotte, and I hate parking there, so we drove to a park and ride, then rode the train into Uptown.

Michael on the train

Putting the timing chip on his shoe

Michael waits at the starting line

Michael's near the front, but you can't see him
 The start and finish is at the same place so we found a good spot where we could see Michael start and finish.  After we watched the start, I ran to the half-way point and got to shoot some good video of Michael during the run (see below.)  Then I ran back to the start/finish and saw everyone finish.  I felt like I had run a 5k.

Michael just before the finish line.  Neither foot is even close to the ground.
Here's the video I shot on my phone:

Michael wore my watch, here's his data:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012 Big Sur International Marathon (by Malissa)

This post written by Malissa, click here for Owen's Big Sur post.

Why run a marathon?
I've been asked this a lot over the past ten months. Most of the time it's by non runners or concerned family members. To answer this question I have to give a little background info. I started running a little over a year ago but my journey really started two years ago when I said enough is enough. I was in and out of doctors' offices. I never really got any answers from the doctors but was often told you might have MS, rheumatoid arthritis, underactive thyroid, and a few others. I was gaining quite the collection of medicine and it seemed like there was no end in sight. I was now a hundred pounds over weight and didn't even recongnize myself. Frustrated, I began searching for ways to get healthy and hoping to gain some self worth along the way.  I read the book, Body for Life for Women and decided to get rid of all the processed food in the house and start eating fresh. After losing forty pounds I felt so much bettter and was ready to get active.

I've always had a love hate relationship with running. I love the idea of running and the cute running outfit but as soon as I start running, I hate it. I've always had a deep desire to run but just didn't think it was in the cards for me. A friend of mine told me about the Couch to 5k program. I was determined to become a runner so I gave it a shot. It was tough and I cried a lot but thanks to Owen and a few of my friends I completed my first 5k and was hooked. It was shortly after that I decided I wanted to run a marathon for my 30th birthday. I wanted to prove to myself that no matter how tough things got I would finish plus I thought it would be a great finale for my "getting healthy" journey. During my training, I was often told; you're crazy, you don't have a marathon body, and reminded that it was ok to back out. These comments fueled me, made me even more determined to finish. I'm known for starting things but never following through and I was determined to prove to myself (and maybe those around me) that I could finish. I may not be built for speed but I did believe that as long as I put in the training, I could do this.

Since this was my first marathon and a difficult course I decided to take it slow and joined the 5:30 pace team but after talking with them at the expo I changed my mind. They planned to run an even 12:30 pace the whole race and  I didn't train to run the same pace downhill as up.

The start
Right off the bus: left and right, both sides lined with porta johns and people. They had coffee and food too. I wanted a cup of coffee so bad but decided against it. I didn't want to have a repeat of Myrtle Beach and be in bathroom lines all race.
This picture was taken not too long after we got off the bus (we were on the first bus). I wish I would have taken one after all the buses arrived, there wasn't much room to walk.

It was about this time that I began to think, "what have I gotten myself into?".

Owen and I stood in line one more time to use the bathroom.  We were still standing in line when they called my wave to go line up. The nerves began to really set in then. After using the bathroom I said goodbye to Owen and headed up the hill to get my place.

So here's where my nerves turn into sheer panic. I have a Garmin 405 watch and it turns itself off when it's not being used, so it's pointless to turn it on until right before the race starts. When I went to turn it on there was no beeping sounds and it would not turn on. I began to freak out! I probably pushed the buttons a hundred times and I may or may not have been the crazy girl banging her watch on the side of the road. I called Owen to see if he might know of any tricks to turn it on, secretly hoping he would offer to give me his watch...but his phone didn't have a signal and he never got my call. 

It's hard to see in this picture but I'm at the back of the line, looking down on thousands of runners. Owen has a great picture of the start line in his post.

In the next few minutes before the race I scrambled to come up with a plan.  I thought about changing my mind and running with the 5:30 pace group like I had originally planned but I was worried if I started out too slow in the beginning and something happened that caused me to slow down even more I would not make the six hour deadline. Thankfully I had my pace tattoo on and knew that I would be able to get an idea of how I was doing at each mile marker. By this time it was time for my wave to start. I said a quick prayer and turned my race over to God, hit my watch on the ground one more time, and started running.

Miles 1-9
The first three miles we ran through the beautiful redwoods in Big Sur. I was still a little shaken up about my watch so I didn't think to get any pictures. I had my first bathroom break right before mile three and thankfully it was pretty quick. When I got back on the road I picked a lady and told myself, "just stay with her".  The next few miles seemed to fly by.  I was shocked everytime I saw another mile marker.

Around mile five to seven the wind was crazy. I was running right into it and I felt like I was going nowhere. I passed another water station but they were out of cups. I remember thinking, "if this is how the rest of the race is going to be, I'm in trouble". Thankfully the wind died down for a few miles and the rest of the water stations had cups.

Mile 10-17
It was about this time that I would see Huricane Point in the distance. There was a quick downhill and then two straight miles uphill.
Huricane Point in the distance.
The drummers were awesome!

Bottom of the hill that just kept going.

My plan for this hill was to take it real slow. I trained on a hill that was about the same grade but it was only a quarter mile long so I wasn't real sure how this hill would effect me. I tried to slow it down but without a watch and the fact that the wind picked up again, it was so hard to tell how fast I was going. I had almost conquered the hill when I got a sharp pain in my left knee and my leg gave way. I couldn'd believe this was happening when I still had another thirteen miles to run. I fought back the tears and tried to start running again. My leg gave way again but I noticed when I walked I was fine. I hated the thought of walking because I knew I didn't have much leeway and I thought for sure I would be picked up by the pokey wagon. Thankfully my knee was fine on the downhills and straightaways, just a little discomfort.

Next up was the Bixby Bridge and on the other side of the bridge was a man playing a grande piano. It was so refreshing to here him play.

This would be my last picture. I just didn't have enough energy to take my camera out anymore.

Miles 18-22
These were the hardest miles for me. My left knee and right foot were killing me and mentally I had had enough! In my head, I was cursing Owen and myself for picking such a tough course for my first marathon.  I no longer cared about how beautiful the ocean was. My main focus for the next few miles was putting one foot in front of the other. I wanted to give up so bad. It didn't help that at every water stop they were talking about pulling marathoners aside and opening the roads again. Did I really run all this way to be told I coudn't finish? At one point I was in so much pain and kept seeing ambulances driving past me that I wanted to flag them down and have them take me back to the finish line. The only things that stopped me were; I was worried I would have to pay an ambulance fee, I did not want to dissapoint my friends and family that had driven so many miles to see me cross the finish line, and I wanted Owen to be proud of me.

Miles 23-26.2
It was such a great feeling when I made it to mile 23. I no longer was afraid of the pokey wagon and all I had left was a 5k! I can run a 5k in my sleep, right?! Sadly they were all out of fresh strawberries at mile 24. I was looking forward to them but had a feeling they would be all gone by the time that I made it there. I was determined to run the rest of the way but I had competely forgot about the last hill. By this time it hurt so bad to go from a walk to a run but I knew I wanted to finish running.

I was overjoyed when I saw the mile 26 sign. It said hallelujah and that is exactly the words that came to mind at that point. Hallelujah, praise God, I did it! Shortly after the sign I saw my mom's husband, Angel, with his camcorder and that brought a smile to my face and then I heard the noise I had been longing to hear since mile 18, my family cheering my name. Even though it took me 5:44:07 to finish, they were cheering at the top of their lungs like I was in first place.  I had the biggest smile when I crossed the finish line.

Owen gave me the biggest hug and told me how proud he was. It meant so much coming from him because he knows exactly what I had just endured.
I didn't have any sisters growing up. Sarah and Evelyn are two of my best friends and I happily call them my sisters. I'm so thankful I was able to share this experience with my beautiful mom too.

Sarah and me after the race.

Stan, Evelyn, Me, and Owen
So what's next?
Everyone has been asking me this question. Now that you have completed a marathon what's next? Well I have a few different goals I would like to complete in the next couple of years. I have two 5k's coming up, the first one I'm running for fun with Kyle and then the next one I would like to have a sub 30:00 time. So I have some crazy speed work in my future. I have a couple of half marathons planned for early fall that I'm hoping to have a nice PR. I have to admit that I'm looking forward to another full marathon. I've told myself that once I get my half marathon time in the 1:40-1:50 range I will run another Marathon. And you better believe it will be a flat course!

2012 Big Sur International Marathon (by Owen)

This post written by Owen, click here for Malissa's Big Sur post.

April 29, 2012 6:45 AM
Carmel, CA

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 3:42:25 8:29 M35-39 54/270 279/1786 363/3364 752
Malissa 5:44:07 13:07 F30-34 266/282 1450/1578 3162/3364 753

Where to begin? On races like this, I wish I had an author follow me around and take notes for me so he could beautifully sum up how amazing everything was.  Since I don't have that, I'll just do the best I can.

The trip out there:
Tuesday, April 24th finally arrived.  This was the day we were travelling to California for the race we had been looking forward to more than any other: BIG SUR!  We are doing a lot of travelling for all these races, so when I plan our itinerary, I always do it the cheapest way.  For this race that meant driving 3 hours to Raleigh, NC where we can fly Southwest.  Then flying to San Francisco, then driving 3.5 hours to Fresno where we'd be staying until the day before the marathon.  It saved us a lot of money, but what a long day!

Oh, how I've missed the Rocky Mountains

The kids were really good, better than I could have expected.  Another cost saving decision was to get the smallest rental car.  Our luggage fit fine in the trunk (thanks to Malissa's wonderful packing job), but three tired kids in the back seat was not fun.

Three kids + one small car's backseat = Alicia upset

When we lived in California, we loved eating at In-N-Out.  Since moving to North Carolina we've loved Five Guys even more.  California people will swear that In-N-Out is better, so we thought it would be a good test to have some In-N-Out now that we're used to Five Guys and compare.  In-N-Out is delicious, but they don't even belong in the same class (or sentence) as Five Guys.  Five Guys is heads and shoulders above, much better. Case closed.

While in Fresno we stayed with Malissa's grandparents Tuesday-Saturday.  We had such a great visit with them.  I loved every minute of it.

Kyle sharing the chair with his Great Grandpa Whaley

Alicia and Great Grandma Whaley
 I didn't take vacation from work, but Microsoft is flexible about where I do my work.  Most of the week I worked from Starbucks, but here I am working at Malissa's friend Jessica's house

The day before:
Saturday morning Malissa and I woke up very early and did our 2 mile run at a park near Grandma Whaley's house.  Then the five of us said our goodbye's to Grandma and Grandpa Whaley and  piled in the car for the 3 hour drive to Monterey.

We drove straight to the expo, picked up our packets and a few supplies.  I forgot to take any pictures, but it was a very small convention center so the expo was in multiple rooms and VERY crowded.

Then we met up with family and drove to the beach.

Michael found supper (How many carbs are in seaweed?)

Malissa with her aunt, mom, and cousin on the beach.

Then it was time to get ready for dinner.  We had a large group of friends and family that had traveled to support us, so I made reservations at the only Italian place I could find that could seat 18 people the night before a major marathon.  It was only a few miles away and was a very small, but nice Italian restaurant.  Everyone had a great time visiting.  The food was delicious but the serving sizes were smaller than most would have liked and the prices were really, really high.  Again, I did not take any pictures (failure!).

Malissa and I said our goodbye's to everyone for the night at the restaurant, even our kids.  They were going to stay with Malissa's mom and her new husband at their hotel room for the night and meet us at the finish line.  Malissa's family and friends really came through for us and made everything so enjoyable.

Malissa and I went back to the hotel room, got some stuff ready and set our alarms for a mind numbing 2:15 am!  We went to bed around 8pm and both slept pretty well until the alarm sounded.


We got out of bed, got ready and were out of the hotel by 3:15 AM.  Our bus pass was for the 3:30 AM pick up time at a parking garage very close to our hotel.  They have to leave that early because the road to the start is the same road we run on and has no side roads to get to or from the start on.  I can't imagine the planning it takes to bus that many people to a single location on roads like that.

The bus ride was pretty uneventful.  It was pitch dark and we were way in the back of the bus so we couldn't tell where we were.  Every once in a while we got a glimpse of the drop-off cliff to our right and appreciated the bus driver going so slow.  It took a little over an hour to drive the distance I had to run back in less than 4 hours (my goal for the race).

We got to the start very early, as we were on the very first bus.  The good news to that was we got a curb to sit on while we waited.  As we were waiting it was amazing watching the thousands of runners come off the buses after us. 

It was a little colder than we both expected, so I was glad I had purchased throw-away gloves at the expo.

We waited as long as we thought we could to still have time to go the the porta-potty before they called us to the start line.  The line for the bathrooms was VERY long, as I'm sure everyone else had the same idea.  We were almost to the front of the line when they called for Malissa's wave to line up at the start.  We used the bathroom and then kissed goodbye.  She gave me her jacket, gloves, etc. and headed to the start.  I got in the line to give them my sweat bag.  I was pretty worried about it reaching me at the finish, as it had the keys to our rental car in it, but that wasn't a problem.  The line for the sweat bag drop off took almost as long as the bathroom line did, and I finally got to the start line about 5 minutes before it started.  Just enough time to snap these two pictures and we were off.

I knew the hills were brutal and the scenery amazing at this marathon so when I decided on a pace, my main goal was to try and enjoy miles 22-26.  I had never done that before.  I knew I was a better runner than when I PR'd at Myrtle Beach with a time of 3:21:58.  I figured on a flat course I could run 3:15, so I added 30 minutes to that so I could try and enjoy every mile.  I used Taz Running's pace chart to come up with these paces per mile that I had a temporary tattoo of on my arm.

Miles 1-7:
The first couple of miles I was supposed to run in the 8:20's because they were downhill.  I had told myself "no matter what, slow down to the 8:20's the first couple of miles".  I tried, but just couldn't slow down that much, I felt like I was walking when I rattled off paces of 8:10, 8:14, and 7:58 the first three miles.

These miles were beautiful forest miles.  I was enjoying them very much, but couldn't wait to see the ocean.  I can't remember exactly when the unbelievable wind started blowing directly into our faces, but I think it was around mile 7.  I've never drafted before in a race, but you bet your butt I did in this race.  I didn't feel much like a gentleman, because the closest person that was big enough to draft off of was a very tall woman I stayed right behind during these initial windy miles.  Just when I thought I better offer to get in front of her and help her, the wind died down.

Leave it to me, the only picture I took was of cows.  I got a kick out of how they were really watching us.

Miles 8-14:
Still felt really good, no major issues.  The only complaint I had about the organization of the race was the 21 milers.  A separate race to ours, but along the same course (starting 45 minutes before us at the 5 mile mark).  Most of them are walkers which meant we had to weave in and out of them the entire race. I HATED that. They had course marshals all over the place that were yelling for walkers to stay to the left, but that didn't phase some of them.  I have an idea: eliminate that race! Or at least hold it on another weekend.

The infamous Hurricane Point was at mile 12.  There is a two mile section before that which is a solid 5% grade uphill the entire two miles.  I trained my butt off for this portion doing brutal hill repeats, and boy did it pay off.  I was never miserable and was literally disappointed when that challenge was over. I had splits of 9:13 and 8:59 for these two miles, just a little faster than my pace chart had for me.

Hurricane Point lived up to it's name, however.  The wind after that was just insane. No amount of training can make running into a 25 mph wind fun (my guess, I don't know how fast it really was).  I was prepared for the hills, the wind was the biggest issue.

Bixby bridge is at mile 13 and just after it there is a guy playing a piano that you can hear for miles (when the wind dies down).  I really enjoyed this section.

Miles 15-21:

I knew that sections later in the race would have banking in the road, which really makes my ankles unhappy, but I underestimated how bad it was, and not just at the end, throughout the entire race there were sections like the picture below.  I would search high and low on the road, hoping to find a flat section, but no luck, even the shoulder was banked.  My ankles were never in pain, but definitely uncomfortable.

I still had plenty of energy and was enjoying the race very much. I was trying to just take it easy, I really wanted a strong finish.

Miles 22-26.2:
Around mile 22 is when I first started to get concerned that I wouldn't get my strong finish.  I could tell my gas tank was nearing empty.  I decided to really take each aid station slow and consume as much Gu, Gatorade, and water as I could while walking through the station.  This really helped.

Before the start I had called my mom and told her to keep close to her phone that I might call her during the race.  I tried several times, but my phone didn't have a signal.  At mile 23 I called her and got through this time.  I put the phone on speaker phone and just held it in front of me and was able to hear her and talk to her fine.  That was the major boost I needed to get to the finish line strong.

I did it, miles 23 thru 26 felt great and I actually enjoyed them.  At the finish I found my amazing cheering squad in the stands, and have never had a bigger smile on my face.  I wish everyone could experience that feeling.  It's what keeps me doing these things.

My daughter, Alicia (8), is in charge of choreographing my finish line move.  This is what she came up with.

My picture immediately after my finish.

After the race, I called my mom again and talked to her while I made my way through the food tent and got some water.  I found my family and hung out, waiting for Malissa to finish.

The time spent here was the most nerve-wracking time of my entire life.  Malissa had trained hard and I had no doubt that she could do it.  I was just worried because they kept announcing how they had to be strict with the 6 hour cutoff time.  Her goal pace was 5:30.  Did those winds slow her down?  I couldn't swallow the possibility of her working that hard only to be escorted away miles before the finish.

Having just finished, you still have the feeling knowing what she is going through.  I could hardly take it.  I broke down in tears many times.

She had sent me a Glympse invite, telling me her exact location.  I spent that two hours, getting her location on my phone, then going to Google Maps and calculating how many miles that was from my location, then doing the math to see how much time she had left, and what pace that would be.  I know better than anyone that just because you've maintained a pace for 23 miles doesn't mean you can maintain it the last 3.

My phone stopped working for some reason when she was around mile 25.  Immediately after that I saw an ambulance speed in that direction.  I could hardly take it.  This entire time her dad and I were texting back and forth. He was watching her Glympse invitation as well and was obviously as concerned as I was.

When we saw that purple shirt coming past the mile 26 sign, we erupted into the loudest cheering squad you will ever hear.

I got in trouble for hopping the fence to get back in the finisher's area, but we wanted this picture.

The buses back to the parking garage
After the race, we went to Bubba Gump's and had some delicious seafood. Then we went to bed early for another long day of travel back home.

Trip home:
We had the same plans, but in reverse to go home. Drove to San Francisco, flew to Raleigh, then drove home.  Our plane landed after midnight NC time and the kids had school the next day.  We had every intention on making them go, but after that long of a day, we figured "What's one more day of missed school?"  They couldn't have agreed more.

Kids sleeping on drive to Charlotte
My kids are amazing.  This trip had some fun for them: the beach, parks, etc, but mostly it wasn't your typical kids type vacation.  They were awesome, big time troopers, I'm so proud of them.