Thursday, December 31, 2015

Running The Numbers - 2015

I am obsessed with both math and running.  I keep tons of data on my training and racing.  Here are a lot more numerical details than you probably want about my running in 2015. :-)

Miles Run: 1,154.00
Increase Over Previous Annual Mileage High: 1,111.26 mi., 3.8% increase
Runs: 165
Finishing the Mini on May 2
Hours Run: 184.38
Average Run Distance: 6.99 mi.
Average Run Pace: 9:35.09
Average Run Duration: 1:07:02.1
Average Temperature During Runs: 57.08°F
Miles Walked: 418.75 (Thanks, MaeBe.)
Walks: 178
Average Walk Distance: 2.35
Gym Hours: 39, 9 at Anytime and 30 at Novus
Miles On Elliptical: 47.21
Miles On Bike: 67.1
Miles On Scooter: 15.3
Most Consecutive Laps Run On Track: 80 laps of 0.25 mi.
Races Run: 12
The View Trail Half on July 11
PRs Set: 2 (Half MarathonMarathon)
Falls: 0
Injuries: 0
Toenails Lost: 4.5
Surgeries: 0
Pairs of Shoes Retired: 3
Pairs of Shoes Purchased: 5
States Where I Ran: 3, Indiana,Wisconsin, and Kentucky
Longest Run: 26.28 mi., November 7
Shortest Run: 1.00 mi., several runs to and from Novus
Week With Most Running: September 6-12, 43.72 mi.
Month With Most Running: August, 154.89 mi.
After IMM on Nov. 7
Month With Least Running: January, 0.00 mi.
Favorite Run (Tie): May 2, 13.24 mi.; June 7, 7.55 mi.; July 11, 12.68 mi.; August 22, 20.11 mi.; September 18, 18.11 mi.; October 10, 13.19 mi.; October 17, 20.04 mi.; November 7, 26.28 mi.; December 26, 8.14 mi. (It's hard to pick favorites!)
Least Favorite Run: July 18, 5.61 mi. (It was the worst run OF MY LIFE, and I'll tell you all about it if you want to sit and listen for several minutes.)
Percentage of Goals Reached: 100% (5/5, see below)
Weight Range in Pounds: 6.6
Total Lifetime Mileage: 5,218.00
Percent of Lifetime Mileage Run in 2015: 22.12%

Mileage By The Month
January: 0.00
February: 34.57
March: 100.16
Fun with Photoshop
(and "Barkley") on Dec. 30
April: 111.86
May: 94.14
June: 102.89
July: 136.18
August: 154.89
September: 140.04
October: 137.15
November: 43.79
December: 98.33

Jo's 2015 Fitness Goals: 
1. Remain injury-free
Succeeded! :D
2. Enjoy lots of running with lots of friends
3. Work on the committee to stage the BMS 5K
Succeeded, and beat the boss.  Again.
4. Encourage another person or people to become more focused on fitness
5. Build more muscle
Succeeded. Thanks, Novus!

Thanks to everyone for the support! On to 2016!

Monday, November 9, 2015

She's Real Fine, My 409

Prior to the 2015 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I made it very clear that I was finally poised to break four hours in the marathon.  I had put in the focused but fun training.  I was armed with a solid plan.  I wasn't, however, naive.  I had a set of tiered goals.  Sub-4 was the A-Goal, PRing (breaking 4:12:53) was the B-Goal, and finishing and living to run another day was the C-Goal.

Let's just say... thank goodness for B-Goals.  Without it, I probably would've walked from about mile marker 20.

Everyone knows I loathe the disclaimer... the reason(s) people give for the sub-par job they're about to do. Know that there are a few times in this race report that  I will appear to "disclaim."  I'm not.  I'm merely giving you the facts of the story. I truly have no excuses AT ALL.  I did face some challenges, but I thought that they wouldn't (and still think they didn't), affect the attainment of my A Goal. It just wasn't my day to break 4.

Friday afternoon, Mom and I drove to Indy.  We checked-in to our fabulous room at the Westin, then hit the expo.  I got my bib (seeded in Corral B... what?), and put a hurt on all the vendors.  We visited the Colts store at Circle Center, and then met Wendy, Tim, Sara Jane, the Kleiheges, and a couple of the Kleiheges' friends at Spaghetti Factory for dinner.  Afterward, Mom and I played cards for an hour or so.

I didn't sleep well because I couldn't stop coughing.  All week long, I had been nursing an elevated temp (99°ish), stuffy nose, blistery tonsils, and general malaise.  I was really worried about how it would affect my race, but I rose Saturday morning feeling the best I'd felt all week.

The First 15 Miles
Seeing Wendy on mile 7
My plan for the race was to run the first 18 miles or so in the 9:00-9:10 range, then accelerate if I felt I could.  Wendy said, "Nothing that begins with an 8 until 18!" My watch clicked my first mile at 8:55, but I think that was wrong.  The first four miles or so are filled with tunnels and overpasses.  I hit posted mile marker 1 at 9:05.  I beeped 9-flat right at posted Mile Marker 2.  You can see the rest of the splits here. With the exception of mile 13, I was only a little fast.

I will admit that the 9:00ish pace felt a little harder than it should've.  Not hard, mind you, just not as easy as usual.  I've been having some post-tib trouble in both legs (low on the left, in the middle on the right), so I surmised dealing with that pain might've been the culprit.  However, I only felt my post-tibs on miles 3-6.

Would it have been smarter to run those miles all 5-10 seconds slower? Probably. Did being a wee bit fast cause what happened later? I think not, but who knows?

The Last 11.2 Miles
Something happened at mile marker 15.  All of the sudden, I felt weak.  I had an extra GU just in case, so I took it.  Then I took an orange slice from a spectator.  I think those calories helped, but only marginally.  You can see the heart rate spike in my data right at 15mi.  I held my pace for 15 and 16 and then allowed myself to slow a bit on mile 17's Butler "hills."  On mile 18, I had serious concerns about staying conscious.  Dad always tells me to listen to my body, so I did.  I took a walk break.
Mile 19

You might think I felt completely defeated at this point.  I didn't.  I just felt like I was regrouping, the way Wendy told me to do if necessary, and getting back on track.  It worked.  I started running again, but immediately started getting woozy.  I walked for one minute then got back to it.

I was good to go for a mile or so, then right before mile marker 20, I had to walk again.  This break was longer, and I called Ed and my Dad, mostly just to hear their voices.  Wendy met me around 21.5mi on her bike, and I walked/ran from there, and felt A LOT less lonely.  It was mostly running, but I did take frequent little walk breaks.  You can see it all in the data.

I was mindful of my B-goal (under 4:12:53) the whole time, so I kept an eye on my watch to make sure I was keeping an average pace that would get me to the finish in time.  When I was making the last turn, Wendy reminded me to savor the finish.  I crossed the line in 4:09:50.

What Happened?
Why did I get so weak and woozy a mere 15 miles into the race? Was it because of my ankles? No, they didn't hurt once in the last 70% of the race.  Was it because I have Crohn's disease? No, I had zero tummy issues, and that had been a big concern of mine in the weeks leading up to the race. Is it because I was sick the week of the race? I doubt it. It might've made me somewhat fatigued, but I think I could break four hours being a little tired. Was it because I was undertrained? Uh, no way.  Was it because I can't handle pain? No, have we met? Was it because I was a bit fast the first half? I also doubt that.  We're talking about seconds.

My best guess is that I peaked too soon in my training.  I was running my very best about three or four weeks prior to the race.  Maybe my body was more fatigued than I thought.  I don't know.

Not Mad About It!
PR Finish!
You might think I am disappointed that I didn't meet my big sub-4 goal, but I'm not.  You guys: I RAN MY FASTEST MARATHON EVER. That 4:09 is super sweet to me! I had fun doing it! I LOVED my training! It's a win! I was on cloud (four-oh) nine ALL DAY. I still am!

I mean, of course I'm taking lessons from not meeting my A-goal.  I want to work with Wendy to tweak a training schedule.  I want to practice more pacing.  I want to learn more about better fueling. I want to get stronger at Novus.

Because you had better believe I'm going for the sub-4 goal again.

The Best Part
Absolutely the best part of the race was seeing friends and family.  I saw people I knew all over the place!  Here are a few examples.

More cowbell, Mom!
Joe Ingalls: I saw Ed's and my friend Joe around mile 5.  I can't describe what it's like to see a face you know when all you've been seeing is strangers.  I yelled, "Joe!" and he yelled, "Jo!" and it was funny and surprising and uplifting and awesome.  I saw him again near mile 25, and he actually came onto the course to run with me a little bit. Great feeling.

Wendy: You guys know what Wendy means to me.  I saw her just before mile marker 7, and it made my whole being feel electric.  Later, when she knew I was struggling, she biked the course backwards to find me.  She found me at about 21.5mi and biked just off the course beside me until I made the final turn.  THAT is friendship.

Tim Galloway: I saw Tim on the circle near mile 3, but the moment I remember best is right at the second to last turn.  I felt like my body was going to explode in pain, like I could move forward no more, and Tim started SCREAMING for me. That made others around him scream for me. Which made me start running and pumping my arm.  Which made other people start screaming. It was quite the scene.  That moment alone probably got me under 4:10.

Mom, Ed, and Schanzel: I saw them right before I crossed the start line and right before I crossed the finish line.  There is no descriptive word that can explain what it's like to see your family when you are about to shut the door on extreme physical effort. It is the purest feeling of love and happiness that I can imagine. They are there.  They are there for you.

Thanks to all of you for supporting me in my running efforts. My goals are always more meaningful to me because of all of you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 IMM Training Punctuation

My Indianapolis Monumental Marathon training is done. Period. Over. Much like last year, I hit every mark. Every run that was scheduled, I ran, to the required distance and at the required pace (if a pace goal existed). My little "training wheel" pull-tab chart has only the race tab left, much different from its initial appearance.

The fact that the wheel now looks like an exclamation point is not an accident. I planned it that way. IMM is going to be the big exclamation point on what's been an ambitious and storied training cycle.

Another reason for the exclamation point is that I have full confidence that I can reach my "A Goal," which is to run the marathon in under four hours. (You can see a summary of my A, B, and C goals here.) My training, both the running component planned by Wendy with Limestone Distance Running, and the strength component planned by Novus Strength Training, have prepared me for the task at hand. I have never felt more prepared for anything in my life.

That is not to say that there's not a "however" to that bold confidence. I am having the nervous jitters as you might imagine. Thoughts like, "What if I fail?" creep into my mind at times. When that happens, I try to change the negative thought into positive visualization of the attainment of my goal... or I text Wendy and have her tell me that everything is fine. :-) As I've previously stated, even if I don't reach my goal, I will have achieved the aim of having a great time during training.

The only question marks that exist are the variables I can't control: the weather and my health. I am reasonably sure that the weather will be in my favor, because the only conditions that spell disaster for me are heat and humidity—uncommon problems in November. (Forecast is for a start in the low 40°s. Thank goodness for the impending cold front!) Also, I could awaken Saturday with a cold or tummy trouble or general malaise or anything that would cause it to not be "my day."

I've done my part. All I can do now is hope for the best and execute my race plan.

My time is NOW. LET'S DO THIS!

***Wendy will likely keep folks updated on my progress via facebook. Also, you can click here to sign up to follow me via text as I pass timing mats during the race. Start gun is at 8:00 A.M. on Saturday!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hello, 1995 Jo.

In June 2014, my parents and I were basement-cleaning, and we found an envelope that said:
October 1995
Psychology - Per. 4 - 1st Sem.
"What I Hope To Remember..."
<smiley face>
For 2015!
I excitedly posted it on Facebook and said I couldn't wait until October 2015 to see the contents, the results of an assignment from Mr. Dennis Whitaker's Psychology class my Junior year at BNL.

Well, here it is.  I opened the envelope on Sunday.  Inside were two letters: one from 16-year-old me to 36-year-old me and one from my 46-year-old Mom.  I'm posting about it today because Mom and I wrote our letters on October 6, 1995—exactly 20 years ago today.

The Contents of the Letter to Myself, Unedited.

JoAnna Kai Hackney
Period 4

What I Hope I Remember About Being A Teenager When I Am An Adult.

     I hope to remember that it is fun, but it also has down times.  Because I never have really fit in with people my age, I have 2 friends much younger, and the rest much older.  I have a good time with them, but lots of times I feel like everyone has their own friends their age & they have their family, and I feel left out.  I want to remember how much I love my family and friends.  I want to remember how I don’t have to be like everyone else my age.  I don’t conform the “right” way and do my own thing without being a rebel.  School is stressful, but my education is a priviledge.  I often get stressed with everyone saying their work is my priority.  I do what I love and I try to follow my dreams.  I want to remember all of my plays, especially “Annie,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “Nunsense.” (up to this point) I want to remember how I lost one of my best friends by talking behind his back. I want to remember my trips to Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island, and the thrill of getting my license.  I hope to remember my 16th Birthday with the surprise party and how hard Mom and Dad worked on it.  I want to remember how much I love Mom and Dad even though we sometimes fight.  I want to remember how much I love God and try to be a good Christian.  I want to remember how hard I work at everything I do.  I want to remember specific seasons and how songs, smells, pictures, & hair styles remind me of those times.
Bitsy, Dandee, & Kacey
     There’s much more I want to remember, too, that hasn’t even happened yet, like graduation, Junior Miss, College, Senior Pictures, etc… I just really want my kid(s) to know that they just need to be themselves (if not illegal), even if that’s not what “everyone else” is like.  Work hard, too, & trust in God. He will help you do your very best.  
     Oh! I forgot!  I also want to remember my dogs, Bitsy, Kacey, & Dandee!  They are all sweet and Dandee is one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

2015 Jo's Response

Hello, 1995 Jo.  

Senior Pics by Hudson's
What a gift your letter is to me.  You succeeded in reminding me about what it's like to be a teenager, but the cool thing is that I am in touch with "teenagerdom" daily because—get this—I'm teaching math. At BJH! (It's called BMS now.) School being stressful and feeling left out are obstacles with which I help young people every day.

You are going to find your place in this world.  You will have friends of all ages, from all walks of life, and with many different strengths and challenges.  You will reconcile with the friend you mentioned but will lose touch over the years. You are going to LOVE your job.  You will have some health problems, but you'll learn to live with them.  The health problems will help make you whom you are.  You are going to pick up some new hobbies, including distance running.  Yes, I'm serious.  You're going to love it.

Jr. Miss
Your family, as you mentioned, is still the most important thing.  Mom and Dad still show you they love you every second of every day, but you also will have a husband who will give you two stepsons.  You will have some new puppy friends, too.  By the way, Dandee will be VERY important as you navigate those health problems I mentioned.  She is, indeed, one of the best friends you will ever have.

Privilege doesn't have a "d" in it. 

Your statement that, "I want to remember specific seasons and how songs, smells, pictures, & hair styles remind me of those times," is one that struck me.  I still do that.

Finally, all the events you listed as things you are anticipating are indeed awesome, but there is A LOT more to experience.  Don't limit your view to just a few years down the road.  Every experience you have is one from which you can learn.  Don't miss those opportunities. 

2015 Jo

Mom's Letter to Me

In a serious moment, if you knew your daughter would listen to you, what would you like to tell them?

     I want her to know that everything she does has a consequence, good or bad, even though it may not be an immediate consequence.
     You must be a friend in order to have a friend.
     You must love in order to be loved.
     Happiness will never be found in material things.  We can accumulate lots of “stuff” & not be happy… we feel we need more “stuff.”
     People & passions will let you down, but God won’t ever let you down!
     A successful person is one who is content with himself & his life, & doesn’t worry about the world’s definition of success.
     I want her to be independent… to be able to take care of her own needs without depending on anyone else (But that doesn’t mean I want her to go through life without someone to help shoulder the load & share happy times.)
     I want her to turn to God 1st for everything… to ask His help decision-making… to comply with His will in all things.

2015 Jo's Response

BNL Graduation - May 30, 1997
Really, could there be more perfect advice?  Thanks, Mom.  I really did listen to you back then, but it obviously rings truer now.  The one that rings truest is, "A successful person is one who is content with himself & his life, & doesn’t worry about the world’s definition of success." What a great outlook and goal.


I'm wondering how many of Mr. Whitaker's students have kept, found, and read their letters over the years.  I hope that many others have been able to enjoy the experience.  It was fun to hear from 16-year-old me to see how much I've changed, and to hear from 46-year-old Mom to see how much she has stayed the same, in the sense of being a rock.  Thanks for sharing the experience with me!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Goals and THE Goal - IMM 2015

For many runners, the goal for the first race of a long distance is simply to finish.  The first time I ran a half marathon (Indy Mini, 2007), I just wanted to cross the line in one piece.  I did, in 2:18.  In subsequent years, my goals were related to time, most often trying to best previous efforts.  2:15, 2:11, 2:08.

It became my heart’s desire to break 2:00 in the half marathon.  After multiple setbacks (hip tendinitis, heart rate issues, a femoral fracture), I finally ran a 1:54 at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon in 2012.  I lowered that time to 1:53 in the Indy Mini in 2014.

Similarly, the goal of my first marathon was merely to finish, which I did by run/walking in 5:53 at the Kona Marathon in Hawaii in 2009.  Even though my next marathon did not go according to plan, I bested the Kona time with a 5:26 at IMM 2013, even after sitting in an ambulance for 45min.  Last year, I ran a terrific race at IMM and finished in 4:12.

So... what’s the goal this year?

Ninth Hour?
All of that said, when I started my IMM training on June 30, I didn’t really have a goal in mind.  After being injured late in 2014 and having health problems throughout the first half of 2015, I didn’t really know how capable my body would be.  You might remember me saying in my “What Should My Fall Race Be?” blog that I wanted to RUN (not race) a full.

However, with the exception of losing my training partner to injury, this training cycle has gone spectacularly.  I am about 70% done with training which makes my goal decision a sort of “ninth hour” announcement. (Instead of eleventh hour, see? Hilarious.) So, without further “a due” (inside joke), after careful analysis of the data from my runs and workouts, supportive friend/coach Wendy and I both agree on my 2015 IMM Goal…


I actually have three goals, all in place to accommodate unpredictable possibilities.

“A” Goal
My A Goal is to break 4:00.  The A Goal is place for perfect circumstances: great health, great weather, lots of time to rest the week of the marathon, nothing hurting, etc.  Truly, I feel this goal is achievable even if everything isn’t exactly perfect.  Marathon pace for sub-4:00 (9:09min/mi) is very comfortable for me right now.  I’ve done an 18-miler in training that averaged to marathon pace, and I felt like I could’ve done more afterward.  That run and a few others I’ll mention below give me confidence that I can break 4:00.

It’s hard for me to imagine that it used to be my deepest yearning to break 2:00 in a half.  I never would’ve imagined, even a few years ago, that breaking 4:00 in a full was a realistic goal for me.

“B” Goal
My B Goal is to PR—to break 4:12:53.  My training went very well last year, but mainly consisted of lots of long slow(ish) miles due to my injury propensity.  I had one “workout” in the 2014 training cycle: a 20-mile progression run.  This training cycle, I’ve done progression runs, a chunk run, and have more progression run/marathon pace runs planned.  All data is indicating that I will be even better prepared for IMM 2015 than I was for IMM 2014.

“C” Goal
My C Goal is to finish with a smile no matter my time.  In case everything goes south, I want the permission to slow down, enjoy myself, and live to chase time goals another day.

Really? That’s Cheesy.
Before a training run on 8/17
I know it.  But it’s true.  Because here’s the deal: those first two goals are exciting and real and scary and challenging and motivating, but the real truth is that I could finish that race in 8 hours (the cutoff, I think), and be happy because I’ve had SUCH FUN training.  The marathon itself is going to represent less than 5% of the training mileage. If it doesn’t go well, I can say I had fun trying, and I’ll try again next year.

I’ve already met THE goal.  I’ve had fun.

I know those of you who know me don’t believe a word of that paragraph up there, but I think I’ve undergone a bit of a metamorphosis with regards to time goals.  After dealing with challenges last winter/spring and also watching Wendy go through challenges this summer/fall, I truly am just glad to be a part of running, fast or slow, long or short.  I really think I could cross the line, neither meeting my A nor B goals, and say, “I’ll get ‘em next time.”

I guess that’s one of the cool things about running.  It changes you for the better.

In the meantime, I’ll catch you all at the Bedford Half Marathon on 10/10.  I’m running it as a training run: marathon-ish pace (9:00s) for the first half, and progression in the second half.  Join me if that sounds fun!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Do I Love Marathon Training… or Wendy?

In June, Wendy, in her position as my running coach through Limestone Distance Running, told me I could no longer delay the inevitable.  I couldn’t endlessly list pros and cons.  I had to make a decision.

I had to decide to pursue the marathon or the half marathon as my fall goal.

On the surface, it seems pretty cut and dried: 13.1 or 26.2?  However, it isn’t that simple.  The training, planning, and pacing for the two distances are all very different, and different runners have different preferences.

Ultimately, after consulting with friends and family, I decided to run the marathon in spite of the fact that half marathon is my favorite distance to race; because even though I love to race a half, I love to train for a full, especially in the fall.

To me, training is full of equal parts anticipation and execution.  I love making the pull-tab chart of the training schedule, then watching as the tabs disappear.  I love planning routes, fueling, hydration, pacing, and even attire for a long run, then accomplishing the run according to plan.  I love seeing the little parts come together into a bigger picture as I feel my body getting stronger for the task ahead.  I even love the big weather swing fall marathoners experience as we go from hot, sticky slogs to crisp, cool, breezy runs.

That said, everything came to a screeching halt for me on Aug. 24.  That afternoon, Wendy was diagnosed with a torn tendon (not a stress fracture, thankyouverymuch), and had emergency-ish surgery a few days later.  Obviously, I did everything I could to support her (minus cooking , I'd never do that to her), because I know horribly well the rock bottom feelings that accompany an injury and how one experiences it in the very center of her being.

Even though I knew I had lost her as my training partner for this training cycle, I didn't fully realize what that meant until I ran my first long run alone.  Fourteen miles, not a terribly long long run, had never felt... long-er.  No talking partner.  No laughing partner.  No "oh man, it's so humid" partner. No matching partner.

It was just sad.

And that was when it occurred to me.  It's not just the marathon training I love.

I love Wendy.

All the planning? All the executing? All the rehashing run details? All the memory making?  We do it all together.

Milwaukee Trail - 9/12/15
I mean, I love to run.  Don't get me wrong.  This training cycle is going very well, and I'm extremely encouraged. (More on that another time.)  However, the real thrill—the thing that makes me fly out of bed at 4:30 A.M. instead of simply rising—is that I'm experiencing it with a friend.

I miss that.

We still talk about my training.  We still text all. the. time.  I meet her at the five mile mark of my maintenance runs so I can run beside her while she scoots on what is now our injury scooter.  But there is a lot of lonely in my training now.  That pretty pic I took on last week's long run?  I took it because I was near tears that Wendy wasn't there with me to see it.  Stuff like that happens all time. I wonder what Wendy would say or how she would react to things I experience on runs.

So... I'm pressing forward.  And I'm loving it.  But I sure am missing my best friend.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Victory & A Dilemma

Seymour Half and Monumental Mile
With the exception of the pre-Mini blog, I haven't had much to say about my running since my fractured fibula healed.  That lack of writing wasn't an oversight.

I didn't want to write because I was frustrated with my running.

Every. single. run. this spring felt like a gigantic effort.  My pace was noticeably slower than it was before the injury, and my heart rate was noticeably higher.  I ran a few races as workouts, and though I had a good time, my efforts and my performances did not seem to match well. 

(Oh, check out my running web site if you're interested in any stats'n'such from those races.  Also, I made a cool slideshow of the Mini, and an even cooler slideshow of Wendy's 100.)

I have comeback from injury plenty of times, and even though it takes some time to build back endurance and speed, I had never experienced anything as arduous as this particular process. It seemed that I had plateaued, and I was about to blame it on age (because 35.5 is sooooo different from 35.7), when a different idea came to me.

Dr. Cobb
The very same week I broke my leg (third week of November 2014), I started a new medication.  I noticed no side effects.  I completed one training run after taking the med before I was sidelined.  It was a hard workout, but I assumed the difficulty I felt was because I was running on a broken leg.

My epiphany about two weeks ago was to quit the med.  I did, and everything—like that—is back to normal.  LIKE THAT.

OK, so I didn't consult my doctor first. I promise I monitored everything I needed to monitor. I eventually discussed it with her... nine days later. :-)

So now that I know I am truly "back," so to speak, I have a dilemma.  My Limestone Distance Running coach (Wendy) says I need to decide by June 30 what I want my fall goal to be: race the Monumental Half Marathon, or run the Monumental Marathon.  The races are held concurrently on November 7, so it likely won't be hot.  I was hoping I could get some of my friends' input before I make my decision.

Here are a few advantages for each race.

Half Advantages
-The half is my favorite distance to race, and I stand a decent chance of doing well.
-Wendy will be able to run the whole race with me.

Marathon Advantages
-Training for a marathon is more fun than training for a half.
-I'll be able to enjoy race day more since I won't be running as hard as I would in a half.

I think both the marathon and the half present the same injury risk for me because marathon training involves more volume while half training involves more speedwork.  Both of those elements have been impetuses for injury for me.  (Edit: Actually, speedwork is probably more dangerous.)  Keep in mind that my fractured fibula last fall happened because I didn't take off enough time after the marathon, not because of the marathon itself.

My orthopedist says my bones and joints are ready to run 26.2 or race 13.1.  My Novus trainers say I'm in shape for either goal. Wendy agrees. Ed thinks I should do the half because he thinks the marathon is a bigger injury risk. I haven't talked to my Mom and Dad about it, but I know they prefer it when I run a half.  In spite of that, I am leaning toward marathon, just because I like the training, but before I do, I want to elicit advice from my friends...

What do you think? What would you do?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Redemption Run — #WhyIMini

the action of regaining or gaining possession of something
Every year since 2007, I have had a lofty goal for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. In 2007, I wanted to finish my first half marathon. The goal for each subsequent year has been to PR. Sometimes I did it (2009, 2010, 2014). Sometimes I didn't (2011, 2013). Sometimes I didn't even make it to the starting line due to fractures (2008, 2012). But 2015 is all kinds of different, because this year, I'm not running to PR.

I'm running to run.

2015 Goal
Every calendar year, I set running goals, which usually include a set of time goals for different distances. This year, in place of race goals, I set one aim:
Run a lot of miles with a lot of friends without getting injured.
I don't care how fast I go. I just want to run healthily. Coming off another Crohn's-caused fracture (my fourth), has helped me to see that there are more important things than race goals, and one of those things is the act of running, and especially the act of running with friends.

This year, I run the Mini to enjoy the experience. To run with friends. To soak in the atmosphere. To laugh. To make memories. To show that I can.

To regain control of my running life.

And I am not the only one.

In 2014, Wendy had two surgeries: one in January to remove a fibroma from her foot, and one in November to release an entrapped nerve. Just yesterday, Wendy had her first epileptic seizure in years. In less than six weeks, Wendy will run a 100-mile race in Wisconsin.

Saturday, Wendy runs to show that NOTHING will stop her.

Chelsey is 15 and has juvenile arthritis. Doctor's visits and an aching body are commonplace in her life. Training for a half marathon in winter's fierce cold is very difficult for her joints. This Mini will be Chelsey's last for a few years so that she may focus on high school cross country and track.

Saturday, Chelsey runs to show that NOTHING will stop her.

Amelia, 12-years-old and daughter of Wendy, is the healthiest of the four of us. However, Amelia is running for a cause. She is raising money for Fat Heads Rescue, a dog rescue in Southern Indiana. She has a heart for animals and their welfare, and she uses her running to raise both funds and awareness.

Saturday, Amelia runs to show that NOTHING will stop her—from any goal.

We all view Saturday as Amelia's run—Amelia's run for the Fat Heads dogs—and our purpose is to surround her and support her in her efforts. However, this run holds special meaning for each one of us as we regain possession of something we love—the run. Perhaps the most special part of it is that we will do it together.

THAT is #WhyWeMini.

To track us or other friends in the race, download the Indy Mini app, or follow this link.
To make a donation to Amelia's fundraiser for Fat Heads, follow this link.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


My Bedford Middle School seventh grade students and I are hosting a hashtag so that everyone may enjoy the upcoming Pi Moment.  Pi Moment is on:

Saturday, March 14, 2015, at 9:26:53 A.M. in your time zone.

Why? Pi, the Greek letter that represents a circle's circumference divided by its diameter, is approximately equal to 3.141592653..., and that moment is 3.14.15 9:26:53.

Here's how you can participate. Take a photo on Saturday at 9:26 A.M. (Wait 53 sec. if you want to be super accurate.) It can be a selfie, a photo of your surroundings, or whatever depicts life for you at that moment.  Then, post it to your favorite social media outlet(s) with the hastag #PiMoment and tag me.

Facebook: JoAnna Kai Cobb
Twitter: @JoCobb
Instagram: @RunnerJoCobb

It might help to set an alarm on your phone to help you remember.

The goal is to commemorate a moment that happens only once every century: #PiMoment. Celebrate with us, and share with your friends!


PS - We'll let you use 9:26:53 P.M. if you're lazy and sleep past the first one! :-)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

When A Broken Leg Is Not "The Thing"

When I blogged with the news about my broken leg five weeks ago, I anticipated that it would be the initial blog in Comeback Series with titles like, "Training On Crutches," and "Scoot-Scootin' Back Into Fitness," and "Five Days Until I Get This Boot Off My Leg." (It really is five days until I get this boot off my leg.) I thought it would be a fun way to document my progress and keep me sane. However, aside from the initial entry and occasional social media updates, I never wrote about my journey (Ed is rolling his eyes right now), with this fracture again, and the reason is simple.

My broken leg became secondary. It was no longer The Thing.

The Weird Numbness
Even before I learned about my fracture, I had started having unusual symptoms that didn't match the things I typically experience with Crohn's or general runner's aches. Remember my blog about the marathon, how cold it was, and the numb foot and leg I experienced for a half mile? That was the first sign, though I didn't know it at the time.

In the days post-marathon, as I was unknowingly working a nice little fracture into my left fibula, I noticed that my heels were going numb every evening. I attributed it to lingering plantar fasciitis and didn't think much about it except to talk about how weird it was to touch my heels and not feel a thing.

My blood pressure started rising. So did my already-high heart rate.

After I got the boot on my leg, I remember loosening it because I had lost feeling in my entire left foot, and that must be due to a too-tight walking cast, right?

The numbness was accompanied by deathly cold skin. I burned my foot on our heater one evening trying to warm it. I couldn't feel that it was too hot.

The Weird Colors
Shortly after my fracture was diagnosed, my toes started going numb every evening,  One night, I took off my boot to look at them, and what I saw was frightening. My toes were all bright blue. I sent Wendy a picture. She came over and took my pedal pulse, which was diminished. That's when we involved our orthopedist.

The numbness started happening three to four times a day. My feet, or parts of them, turned white as they went numb, changed to blue after several minutes, then turned bright, fiery red as the blood rushed back. That part is extremely painful, a judgment that comes from a girl who has undergone kidney stones multiple times. I'll spare you a picture of the blue toes, but here is a link to the white stage for those of you interested in such things. (As always, I make the yuck-pic optional. You're welcome.)

The Weird Diagnosis
Raynaud's Phenomenon. Check out the Wiki, if you'd like. It's not just, "Hey, my feet are cold!" It's, "Hey, I need to get my blood flowing again or I may lose this toe." It's brought to life by cold conditions and emotional stress. It's not all that uncommon. However, mine is in my feet instead of the hands, and it suddenly started attacking my life out of nowhere.

Raynaud's can be primary—not occurring in association with another disease—or secondary. When it's secondary, something else causes it. I'm in the middle of a series of tests to determine why this is happening so suddenly and so forcefully.

The Weird Blog
So why am I posting this weird blog about it now? Because today, I got some really good news. Originally, all the signs were pointing toward my Raynaud's being secondary to a very serious condition with a very serious prognosis. Today, I learned that it's unlikely that I have that condition. After two-and-a-half weeks of my family and I being burdened with the what-ifs of a potential diagnosis, my heart feels so light with relief that I wanted to shout my joy from the rooftops... and this is the 21st century way to do that.

Also, Ed has saved the day—no, the year—with the purchase of hunter's toe warmers. I wear 115°F on each foot except when I sleep. It has reduced the attacks by 90%, at least. Tomorrow, I begin taking a new medicine that will help, as well. I'm allowed to be outdoors, but I have to take extra precautions to stay as warm as possible.

Obviously, there's still more to learn, but according to my new rheumatologist, we can learn those things while I teach and run and quilt and sing and laugh and love and LIVE.

Love my family... my friends.

I could not have borne the last month without my dear family and friends! Love you all.