Inclusive Running: a run club for all

The human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away.

Years ago I was in the middle of a long run when suddenly I was struck by a question; why are there no run clubs or programs for individuals with special needs?

As a mom to a child with significant needs, I’m always on the lookout for programs that will provide exercise, social engagement and opportunities for accomplishment for my child. And I worry about adulthood–what will he do for fun, to stay active, to socialize?

And that’s when it hit me. Maybe I should be the one to do this…to create an inclusive run club that teaches others about the life long joy found in running with friends.

But I told myself I’m too busy. Three kids with special needs, teaching classes, training for ultras, running a household….when would I do it? Instead, I spent time volunteering in the special needs community when I could. I told myself that was enough.

Then last summer, my son participated in an adaptive triathlon through Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. He loved it so much–the joy, the pride–it was overwhelming! The first thing he asked when it was over is if he could do it again next week. That’s when I knew I had to make my dream into a plan.

But life happens. Hospital stays, doctor appointments, therapies and never ending obstacles riddle your life when parenting 3 kiddos with special needs. But again I was struck with a thought; how could I not want to give back to this sport that has literally saved my life? How could I put this off one more moment? Here is my chance to GIVE and share my gifts with others, so that they can, in time, do the same.

So here I am, bringing my dream into fruition. I have launched an inclusive running club in Nashville for ALL ages and ALL abilities. I have big plans for this group and I’m excited to see where we go from here!

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Training during Chaos

I am 6 weeks out to my first 50 miler. To be honest, I’m not nearly as ready right now as I was hoping to be. Life has been nothing short of chaotic lately (mothering 3 special needs kiddos ain’t a stroll in the park, btw!)

Hospital, doctor, and therapy appointments that are never ending, extracurricular activities galore and well…just life stuff…has greatly interfered with my training. So I’m relying less and less on my training plan and leaning more on my own experience and trusting that I know my body best.

With that said, I’ve been building volume during the weekdays and extending my long runs and back to back long runs on the weekends. I’m feeling strong, my speed has increased and my endurance is building. I’m hoping I’ll be ready in June for my 50 miler. I don’t want to just survive it, I really want to rock it out!

So here are some of the things I’ve been up to these past couple of weeks. Cheers to some solid training in the weeks to come! I’m trying not to stress over things I cannot control… and reminding myself that I’m doing this because I just love it so darn much. Even if I end up DFL, it’ll be with a smile on my face!

Rock and Row Triathlon:

Lots of running by in the rain lately:

Got a solid long run in this past weekend, so I was pretty happy:

Bouldering league wrapped up, meaning more time for running now 😁

Making it Work

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity, which makes training for my 50 miler….interesting….to say the least.

We drove through the night Friday to reach Indianapolis for my son’s cheer competition. It was a US finals competition and his team ended up placing second!

We turned around and drove through the night Saturday to get back home. The next morning I decided to wake up and hit the trail for what was supposed to be a long run.

I woke up to a very confused mother nature, with temperatures below freezing and very strong, blustery winds. Usually that wouldn’t be a big deal, but I was worried about my eye healing. I pressed on for 10 miles before heading back home to check on my eye.

The intense, cold winds blowing in my face for that long – I just knew it was going to re-damage my corneal abrasions. Luckily, everything seems to be fine. Hitting the treadmill today after I do some housework and homeschooling with the littlest… Kicking it up a notch this week and ramping up mileage over the next few weeks. This week I have another night of bouldering league and then the Rock and Row triathlon this weekend with some friends.

Going to give it all I have and make my training work this week. After successfully completing 5 ultras, I have come to realize that sometimes training doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes, you just have to know your body and know what you’re capable of–and trust that you know what your body needs to get you across the finish line. I have not been able to stick to my training plan for this upcoming race, but I am doing everything I can to get myself across the finish line. It’s a little bit of a leap of faith, hard work, preparation… and giving yourself some grace. Dam Yeti 50 here I come!

A weird week….

The countdown is on until my 50 miler in June. Unfortunately, life keeps finding ways to derail my training plans!

This past weekend, my long run got cut short when a group of guys in a truck thought it would be fun to harass me. I got a few miles in, but far from what I had wanted or needed.

Luckily I also got some hiking miles in with family.

But then…..

I ended up scratching my right cornea–several deep abrasions over the center of my right eye. So I decided on indoor dreadmill running this week (11 miles so far) and strength training while it heals.

I also made some progress at my bouldering league.

But it turns out that my eye wasn’t healing properly….so rest and no activity for now! I’m hoping to try a long run on Sunday….I’ve got to get back on track. I’m already going stir crazy!!

So, who else has had a crazy week?!

Ragnar Relay {TN} Recap

Where: Chattanooga -> Nashville, Tennessee

When: March 23/24, 2018

Stats: ~200 miles, 12 runners, 2 vans, road running relay

Bottom Line: a fun way to share 34+ hours with friends–just wished it had been trail running instead of road running!

Alright, let’s get one thing straight…..this gal is a trail runner through and through. Heck, I don’t even own a pair of road running shoes. But when two of your favorite trail runners say “let’s do it,” I say….”why not?!” I guess I’m a try anything once kind of chick.

somewhere in TN, in the middle of the night, wondering why I’m so tired and questioning all of my life choices 😂

I grabbed a well worn pair of trail shoes, several skirts and then took my mama van on an adventure. We crammed six runners into each van and then proceeded to run 3-10 mile increments across the countryside of Tennessee.

5 am start, I was runner 1!

While the road running and all the action was a little….um…..overstimulating…..it was fun to do something out of my comfort zone. And when you’re with awesome friends–both brand new and old–it’s hard not to have a blast. My cheeks were sore from all the laughter!

While it’s definitely not the kind of race I normally do, I’m glad I got the chance to experience this with some awesome people. I mean….my van will never be the same. Straight up shenanigans, y’all!

I ran 3 legs with a grand total of 14.6 miles. Definitely not strenuous, but it ended up being great training for my upcoming 100 milers since I had to run one leg at 2 am, totally sleep deprived.

Allllll the coffee!!

So that’s it! Back to training. I will miss all the shenanigans, though….

The Weekly Recap

So, training is a little slow and my mileage remains low this week. Next weekend will bring TN Ragnar with friends, then I will ramp up mileage in preparation for my 50 miler in June. For now, I’m enjoying easy miles and recovery from my last two ultras in February.

Total mileage this past week: 18.7 miles

Total runs: 5

Total elevation gain: 1,667 ft.

Monday: nighttime trails with the Crazy Owls 🦉

Tuesday: rest day

Wednesday: treadmill run and cross training (adult bouldering league with friends)

Thursday: more treadmill miles and strength training

Friday: rest day and yoga

Saturday: solo trail run

Sunday: bleacher/track run while the kiddos played

So there it is! One more “easy week” coming up before I hit it hard. Cheers, y’all!

An Ode to an Endurance Runner’s Spouse

I have a secret…. without my husband and his constant support, I wouldn’t be able to successfully complete these fun and exhausting ultras I always talk about.

I mean, he puts up with a lot….

Let’s face it, I have three kiddos. One of them has significant special needs. And to top it all off, we have no family nearby. My husband is the one entertaining everyone during my Saturday long runs, rearranging his schedule to make my destination races and training runs work and wrangling everyone during the actual race itself. Sometimes he even jumps into action at aid stations while he is waiting for me. My hubby also often serves as my crew and cheerleading team. Oh–and he’s the one who has to listen to me moan and groan after a particularly tough race. That’s gotta be fun, right?!

my kiddos having fun during the Yamacraw 50K in KY

My hubby also has his own hobbies that sometimes get pushed to the back burner in order to fulfill family obligations.

And sometimes, he even humors me with a run.

Running ultras at this point in my life isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to manage, but he helps make it work. I guess when you’re a Mother Runner, it really does take a village. So thanks, my faithful and most favorite supporter, for all that you do!!