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Yep – happy spirit, running spirit!

When I first thought about doing running podcasts for RMR so we could connect and support an even broader audience of running women, the ideas for shows seemed endless. However, the choice about what and who to feature as the first show was easy. My dear friend and ultra runner, Carolyn. The topic; her journey to Western States 100 Endurance Race. In case you’re not familiar with the famous 100 mile run, here is their website’s intro:

The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn. Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.

Yeah. THAT race!

The journey and the post-race podcasts are amazing to listen to. Sure, there’s a lot of information about what to eat, how to train for hills, how to handle crazy weather,  about selecting a pacer and crew, but it also includes thoughts on how to get your brain around even wanting to run that far. The mental shift from running a 50 miler to doubling the distance is no small decision.  Carolyn, who blogs over at Happy Spirit Running Spirit was gracious enough to play along and let us pick her brain about training for a 100 mile race, physically and mentally. I would have to add spiritually too because I think it takes a special kind of spirit to commune that closely with yourself and nature at that level of pain, challenge and endurance.

Carolyn & Deb make an awesome team!

In our awesome final program,  Carolyn and her crew chief and pacer, Deb talk about the unique and  trusting relationship between runner and crew chief and how that strengthens their lives and friendship. Many thanks to both of you for the honor of sharing such a personal journey with us.

Each podcast is 15-30 minutes and can be found on the running podcast page on our website. You can also find them and subscribe to our women’s running podcasts through iTunes.

Carolyn , in red, with her amazing crew on the final stretch at Auburn High School track!

Podcast #1 How did you know you wanted to run 100 miles?

Carolyn Hennessey is an ultra runner. We’ll chat with her over the next 6 months as she trains for the famous Western States 100 Endurance Race. We’ll learn how she trains both mentally and physically for running 100 miles while also working full time, creating another business and being step mom to three boys.

Podcast #2 100 Miler Play-by-Play at Pine to Palm 100

In our second ultrarunning podcast with Carolyn Hennessey, we’ll talk about her current training progress as well as review one of her 100 milers. How does she conguer challenges with pain, fueling, night running, adapting to condition changes along with the highs that come from such an ultrarunning accomplishment.

Podcast #3 Training Update & Western States Race Prep

In our third ultrarunning podcast with Carolyn Hennessey, we’ll talk about how her training is going and some specific things she is doing to prepare for the 100 mile distance, the heat, water crossings and other environmental factors of the Western States 100 race.

Podcast #4 Post-race report!

Our rockstar at the finish line!

In our last podcast of this series, we’ll talk with both Carolyn Hennessey and her crew chief, Deb Landau, as they give us their versions of the Western States 100 Endurance Run race report that Carolyn has been training for. We’ve been following Carolyn on her journey to one of the most famouse 100 mile races and we’re excited to hear the play-by-play. Did her fueling system stand the test, how did her heat training prepare her, how did she deal with rough patches and how did Deb and the crew help support her and keep her going.

We’d love to hear your feedback on our series, ideas for another one or your thoughts on ultra running!

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Jill's energy is as contagious as her smile!

Our guest blog post comes from marathon running coach extraordinaire *Jill Mestler. I have had the pleasure of being in Jill’s marathon training group twice and, I have to say, she and Laura Coll of the Eugene Running Company REALLY put on a good training session…and a good show. If you know Jill, you know what I mean. She’s more than a coach, she’s an all out entertainer and serious running motivator. This gal is for real. Every Saturday morning she would not only get us feeling confident about the long miles ahead, but get us so jazzed about running, the miles flew by. Included in the training group are weekly emails from Jill announcing the upcoming workouts along with the most ass-kicking motivation ever. Here is her latest musings on why it’s a great day to be a runner and the transformative experience of training for and running a marathon. Thanks, Jill!

Here we are, a few steps into the marathon of training.  The months of training is, in many ways, analogous to running a race itself; long, difficult, ups and downs, fun, worth it!   With 14 weeks to go until race day, time is still on your side…. You may be new to the marathon or half marathon experience.  You may be well acquainted with your old friend, running.  You may be a seasoned runner who has simply running “not enough!” as one group member described.  Your individual situation, goals and backgrounds are different, yet you will hopefully find a shared kinship amongst other runners that gives you a boost as you arrive, in the dark, really early, with the morning agenda dominated by “RUN.”  Nothing like mileage for breakfast. (That is creative license – I strongly support consuming actual food for breakfast)

Perhaps you have wrestled with the common concerns:  “Can I do this?”  “Should I do this?”  or even “Do I even want to do this?”  “Am I injured? Will I get injured?” “What if I can’t fit in all the training?”  “How do I know what pace I can keep up?”  “Why is Jill so sure it is a great day to be a runner (and perhaps she should switch to decaf!)” Well, fair enough. Question away! Sometimes you just need to consider these things.  Just don’t dwell on all the doubt and question too long.  Be open to positive changes that result from training.  Fear not fellow runners, you have the power to transform your thoughts to “I can do this.”  “I will do this.” ” I DID it!!”

The process of “getting your groove on” for the whole marathon/half training will likely not be an instant process.  Still, I am convinced, there is a magical transformation of sorts that happens over the miles, minutes, days, weeks and months.  Physiologically, we can prove this.  Psychologically you get the joy of experiencing this.  Doubt/fear shall be no match as endorphins will prove to be the prevailing party in a head to heart match up.   I do not promise or predict a running epiphany with the clouds giving way to sunshine and the Chariots of Fire theme blasting for all to hear.  No Rocky theme music miraculously begins either.  No medal awarded, not even a significant PR will serve as the defining moment (Although any or all of that would be pretty cool. Please let me know if that happens because I’d have to interview you on that!)  The “magic” I reference begins sometimes more at whisper level rather than megaphone.  You gradually feel a little bit better as time and training marches on.  Your boiling questions are reduced to a simmer.  You get to experience the joy of getting “lost” in a run much as you can get “lost” in great conversation, a favorite song or an awesome book. Running becomes less work and more play. You KNOW it is a great day to be a runner, everyday. (To the newbies- you are a “runner” everyday, even when you don’t run that day.  Welcome to the wonderful world of being a “runner!”)

Yes, the training can be difficult and tough to fit into your busy life.  Not every run is great or even good by typical standards.  Sometimes you may not even realize how “great” your run actually was until it is over.  Like when you are back home and just a little more patient, easier to smile, content.  Then, you may just realize you snuck in a great run afterall.  Often, the “time” you used up running is returned to you in the form of increased productivity, energy or focus.  Something to consider when juggling your schedule to find the time to run.

Onward, runners, onward.  You can do this.  The people around you can be a huge source of positive support. Lean on them – and us, the group – BUT also know that YOU have the most influence by believing in yourself!   My running cap off to you for choosing this challenge, you are among the elite.

You can do this.

Read this again.  Consider.  Repeat as needed.

It’s a great day to be a runner!

* Jill Mestler  is a busy mother with three beautiful children and still has the time and energy to run a sub-three-hour marathon. As a star high school runner in Enumclaw, Washington, she was a state champion on the track and National Junior Olympic Champion in Cross Country. She enjoyed a successful collegiate career at the University of Oregon where she earned her bachelors degree in Exercise and Movement Science. She also holds a Masters Degree in Human Biology from Pacific University.

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