Oh the treadmill, or dreadmill. I have a love hate relationship with the treadmill, but I find it to be a necessary tool in helping me as a runner. I began running mostly on the treadmill as mentioned in previous posts. I started with alternating between running and walking until I was solely running. I trained for my first marathon in 2007 almost entirely on the treadmill. You got it, 15, 17, 19, and multiple 20 milers...on a treadmill. Shoot me. There is absolutely nothing fun about going those distances on a treadmill. However, I have found that the treadmill is a great way for me to get my speedwork in and to shake things up a bit. One of my favorite workouts right now is running at different speeds and inclines, while I read on my iPad (try it, it's not as hard as it may seem to be, I do my best reading while running) or catching up on the news or a favorite housewife.
Here are a few of the songs I have added to my iPod this month!
1. Phantogram- Black Out Days: Obsessed. Can't get enough. Sarah Barthel's voice, plus, her style... can't get enough!
2. Phantogram- Fall in Love: I told you I can't get enough. Do your self a favor and download the entire Voices album.
3. Fitz and the Tantrums- Out of My League: This song just makes me happy and is fun to run to!
4. Little Comets- Bridge Burn: This song is a nice, much needed change to my playlist. Another happy song.
5. Missy Elliot- WTF: The queen of music to me. Truly, no female artist is as creative and talented as she is. She is one of the few hip-hop artists I like. Never a dull moment with her. She is the Dr. Seuss of music. Try NOT to run too fast to this song.
Ten years ago this year, I ventured off to a small town in Vermont called Post Mills. I spent three months there as a camp counselor at Lochearn Camp for Girls, where I met some really wonderful people. One of the bubbly and always-smiling (a smile you won't forget) girls I remember from camp was a 15 year old camper named Hillary. I didn't get to spend much time with Hillary as she was one of the teen campers, and I was the counselor for the seven year olds, but I definitely remember her positive energy. We've been "Facebook friends" for the past ten years and over the past few years, seeing her posts on Facebook have made me smile. Hillary is a first grade teacher, and not just any kind of teacher. It's evident that she is what every teacher should strive to be. Without spending time with her, I can see and read that her biggest hope for her Mississippi students is that they live in a world of equality and compassion. With a heart as big as she has, you know she can move mountains. Hillary has also become a regular runner, with really impressive running times. She will be running her first marathon in June, and I have no doubts that one day she will be running the Boston Marathon, probably for a good cause while she is at it!
There are so many reasons why I think you should give running a try. Here are a few: no monthly fees, you can do it anywhere, you can start at any level, it makes you feel good, it's alone time, it's friend time, no one is in your face yelling at you, an extra bowl of ice cream, to breath fresh air, to improve your cardiovascular fitness, build stronger bones...I can keep going.
And then there's those reasons why you might say you can't run: you can barely walk to the mailbox (ha-ha, a joke we've all heard), you don't have time with work, you don't have time with kids, you get shin-splints, you don't like working out alone, you don't know where to run, you can't breathe when you run, you don't want to ruin your blow out, or you just don't like running...well I can't help you with that one, instead, go ahead and click here: SoulCycle or Equinox.
Here is a list of 10 reasons why I think you should run.
I was not a runner at any point in my life before 2004. I was a really bad gymnast for about seven years (never made it to a single competition) and was an average high school and competitive cheerleader. But as many of you may remember, once high school ends, so does your athletic life. When I graduated high school there were no fancy gyms or cult cycling classes to join and feel part of. In college I found myself inactive and getting out of shape and realized I needed to do something about this.
I had tried running and became winded within minutes. I didn't understand how to maintain a steady and comfortable pace. At that point I had zero desire to run a marathon (although in a 2003 diary entry a life goal was to "complete a marathon") and can even remember reading a Runner's World magazine article in which a distance runner discussed running a 22 mile long run and thinking to myself "That's ridiculous, nobody can just get up and run that far."
Exactly one year ago today, November 9, 2014 I was at the start line of the Athens Marathon. I was so fortunate to have been selected as one of two people to represent the Chevron Houston Marathon as part of a program called the Athens Exchange in which the Houston Marathon sends two of their sub four hour finishers to run the Athens Marathon. In return, the Athens Marathon sends two of their runners to run the Houston Marathon for an experience to run our race. Dr. Peter Haney and I were randomly selected for an all expense paid trip of a lifetime. As someone who loves the sport of the marathon as I do, it was an honor to run the same path that Pheidippides (fee-dee-pee-dees, as the Greeks pronounce it) ran over 2,500 years ago to announce the defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Marathon (the fact that I am Persian-American made it even more amazing).
You've made the decision, you want to run a marathon. Congratulations! You're excited and nervous all at the same time. Now, how do you determine which marathon you should run? Do you run your local marathon or should you venture out across the country or even somewhere on the other side of the globe? There are a lot of different factors that come into play when you choose a marathon.
January 19, 2014 I ran a 3:39:15 marathon at the Chevron Houston Marathon. It was my third time to collect a 3:39:something time. This run was my seventh consecutive Houston Marathon and my 15th marathon overall. The day was great. My family, friends, and even a few students were out cheering me on at the usual spots. The weather conditions were ideal and I was as usual, very enthusiastic throughout my run. Fast forward to a great finish and a really tasty meal afterwards. Sometime after the run I received a call from an unknown number, I didn't answer. I figured if it was important, they would leave a message. Again they called and again did not leave a message. I decided that this must be someone who really needs to get ahold of me so I will just send a text. "Hi, who is this?" I asked. "Steven Karpas, Houston Marathon...Managing Director. Call me."
Steven Karpas didn't need to tell me who he was. I already knew. I've run the Houston Marathon enough times to be familiar with him as well as having seen him at the Chicago Marathon Expo in the past. Immediately I started to worry. Did I accidentally miss one of the timing mat's? Did I do something to be disqualified? Why would he be calling me? Nervously, I called. The conversation started with him asking about the day and how I felt about the race as well as how I was feeling. I thought it was kind of strange that we were having this casual small talk conversation. At one point I mentioned that I was feeling really good aside "from the blister I have on my foot." He then responded "Well I have some good news that will make that pain go away." He went on to let me know that along with another person, I had been selected, to run the Athens Marathon as part of the Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange Program. Each year the Chevron Houston Marathon selects one female and one male participant who have completed the marathon in under four hours to send to Athens on an all expense paid trip to run the Athens Marathon. Runners run from the town of Marathon, Greece to the finish line in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. It is said that Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to announce that the outnumbered Greek Army had defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. You can imagine how stunned, shocked, and speechless I was upon being told of this opportunity by Mr. Karpas. Even writing about it right now, I still can't believe this experience is mine. I was at the time 31 and had never used my passport. I had never been outside the US. Not only was I going to fly abroad, but I was going to do the thing I love more than anything. Run a marathon, the original marathon course. Running marathons has been life changing for me. I've met new friends, gained confidence, and learned things about myself that I may not have otherwise. It also has opened the doors to the United States and now the world for me. If I had not run the Chevron Houston Marathon that day, I would not have had the experiences and met the amazing people I did while in Greece. I am forever grateful to the Houston Marathon. If you are looking for a change in your life, go for a run. You never know where it can take you.
One of my running goals is to run the Chevron Houston Marathon every year, as long as I can. This is my hometown race, and near and dear to my heart as the Aramco Houston Half Marathon was my first road race. In this race I can count on my family, friends, and even students to be spread out around the city yelling "Go Shirin!" or "Let's go Ms. Farahani!" The city truly wakes up each January race day to support the thousands of runners who trained in the brutal Houston summer heat. The Houston Marathon course is an easy, flat, and fun course. Drive through Houston and you will see the beauty we locals see, but run through these beautiful areas, and it's another story. You not only see beautiful neighborhoods such as downtown, River Oaks, West University, or Tanglewood, but you also meet the kind hearted citizens of those neighborhoods and the rest of the city. I know that when I run along University Dr. I can always count on getting an orange slice and a Kleenex from the little children who wait for all the runners. I know as I approach 610, and am feeling exhausted, my spirit will be lifted by the group of belly dancers waiting. When I am nearing the end of the race along Allen Pkwy. and feeling as though my legs are made of Jell-O, the Lululemon girls are there to give me a boost of adrenaline. What I love about the Houston Marathon is that it is a day when my city, the city I was born and raised in comes together for a few hours and strangers become my biggest supporters. I've run the Houston Marathon 8 times and can't wait until I complete my 10th consecutive race and apply to become a pace leader. If you are looking for run your first marathon or to live a dream of qualifying for theBoston Marathon, register for the Chevron Houston Marathon.
I've had some great experiences in my life and among those experiences has been traveling solo. Of course I enjoy traveling with friends and family, but there is something really special about getting on a plane alone and exploring a new place without anyone there to keep you company. I understand this isn't something everyone is comfortable doing. I told a girlfriend one time about how I had spent the summer on several trips alone, and she was blown away. She couldn't imagine going anywhere without a familiar face to talk to. Sometimes it's important to be comfortable, being a bit uncomfortable!