Turn Up the Lights

Ladies and Gentlemen, LETS GET READY TO RUMBLEEEEEEEE!!!!! Two ten-year old boys fly off the couch,  jumping up and down, flicking the lights on and off, screaming at the top of their lungs in unison with the announcer. This was the scene of my best friend and me at age 10. We would do this for hours, playing back Michael Buffer’s voice on our hip technology, the Yak Bak. If you don’t remember the Yak Bak, you probably didn’t grow up in the 90s (see below). This wonderful, highly advanced piece of technology could save 5 seconds of recorded audio.  We of course chose to use those 5 seconds for our favorite sports introduction.

The Legendary Yak Bak. - from OnceUponAWin

As long as I can recall, I have been a huge sports fan. However, my favorite part of any sporting event is surprisingly enough not the actual event. I think that my favorite part of any event is actually the pre-game. I love the anticipation, the excitement, and the fanfare. Whether it is the tunnel entrance, Lebron’s chalk toss, or simply having one’s name announced, I love it. At the New York City Marathon, being told “the world awaits you, the city awaits you” followed by Sinatra’s “New York New York” was magical to begin the race.

Unfortunately, not all road races or triathlons have quite the fanfare or excitement as the NYC marathon does. So, I create my own. I am a big sucker for music and making soundtracks for my life (further confirming my cheeseball-ness). I think it’s a great way to get amped up for a big race as runners deserve this just as much as any other sport. Here is a set of four songs that I play for my pre-race stretching and warmup routine to get me pscyhed up:

All of the Lights – Kanye West. This song is my favorite 1-2 weeks out from the race. This is when I truly begin my full mental prep for the race. I love the idea of the town I’m coming to prepping for the race and getting excited for the big event. I’m extremely excited to see what St. George has to offer as it is an amazingly beautiful place and their tourism board has been more than welcoming via Twitter and email!

Ironman St. George awaits on May 5th. - Photo from www.ironman.com

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble – Jock Jams. I love this song to get hyped up before the race! It’s a fantastic song to really start to get into the zone and get the adrenaline pumping. However, I don’t recommend it as the last song you listen to otherwise you might go out too fast.

The Blood of Cu Chulainn – Boondock Saints Theme. I’m of Scotch-Irish background and absolutely love this song and movie. It gets me ready to go and plays through my head many times during a race. I’m a big fan of instrumental music as I find I can more easily zone out to it as compared to music with lyrics. I’m also a big sucker for clapping, whistling, snare drums, and violins in instrumental pieces.

The Start – The Spirit of the Marathon. If one could compose a piece that captures exactly how one feels before the start of a race, this song would be it. I can almost feel the butterflies the music portrays, yet also get the “going to battle” feel of this song. This is the last song played on my iPod before heading towards the start.

Well there it is, my pre-game soundtrack. I hope to have one more post pre-race but for now, 5 days to go ’til Ironman. Turn up your lights St. George, we’re coming.

Beautiful St. George - from SeanWhiteley

Always in Stride,


Quote – “What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate.” – John Bingham

Songs – All of the Lights – Kanye West

Jock Jams – Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

The Blood of Cu Chulainn – Boondock Saints Movie

The Start – Spirit of the Marathon

Video – NYC Marathon Start 2011

Well-Done Wednesday (4/25/2012)

It’s Hump Day! Here are some great pieces of motivation to put a smile on your face and get you through the hump day of the work week:)

1.The  Monkey on My Wrist – “Life has plenty of people to tell you, you are not measuring up, plenty of tasks you don’t do well and plenty of  things you have to do that you don’t like.  Your hobby shouldn’t be any of those things.” – from Peanut Butter and Pancakes. I LOVE this post about running watch-less (a.k.a. naked) and also the Blog Title contains two of my favorite things: Pancakes and Peanut Butter. Impossible not to love this post.

2. Good Playlist to Mix Up Your Week – from Savor Life’s Flavors. I personally am a big fan of Play Your Part (1) by Girl Talk

3. Run. Inspire. – A Simple, Elegant Philosophy – “Run. Inspire. It’s nice to know that both can be as difficult or as simple as we choose to make it. Run for the joy of motion. Or dance, or walk, or whatever. Inspire by keeping a good heart, having confidence in yourself and maintaining a real interest in others.” – from mewruns

4. Running for a Reason – from Miles to Run


I hope you enjoyed this week’s Well-Done Wednesday links! Check back next Wednesday for a new 5!

Always in Stride,


Blood in the Water, the Killer Within

Before getting into this post, I want to preface with my view of competition.  I absolutely love each and every runner and triathlete that I have met in my life. They are a wonderful collection of motivating and encouraging people. I cannot get enough of them and absorb as many of them as possible into my life. It is a major reason why I started this blog, to become more connected to the running and triathlon communities. I wish them all nothing but the best in every race and will always make sure to encourage and motivate them before, during, and after the race. I also am of the belief that running is a race against the clock and with oneself. However, I do also believe that competition with others within a race can serve as a means to reach time goals and personal records. With this being said, we move on to the post.

When I began running back in seventh grade, I was an extremely weak mind. I recall searching for reasons to not run a race, to slow down, to cut a workout short, and to give in to the voice in my head that said “can’t”. I was always the “hunted” during races and almost never the “hunter”. I was inside my own head and this would knock me out of races before they even began.

Then during my sophomore year of college at Penn State, I experienced a drastic change on a crisp morning in Bloomington, Indiana during Club Cross Country Nationals. I was in the final 1.5 miles when I realized that I felt “good”. I took off. I began targeting various runners ahead of me and would track them down, each time identifying a new target to pass before the finish. Over the past few years, I have worked to further develop this mentality and have made it into a hunter/killer mentality. I have learned to identify motions and body language that indicate a fellow competitor is getting ready to throw in the towel. I employ techniques such as speeding up on corners, passing on hills, and many other techniques to track down the competition.

This past weekend, I was chatting with my coach about race strategy for Ironman St. George. Luckily for me, the race plays to my greatest strength, running. In Ironman, the swim and the bike are more about conserving energy so that you have enough left for the run. When the run begins, every ounce of energy left is laid on the line. Once the run portion of the race begins, one song will play in my head on repeat for those 26.2 miles: Clubbed to Death from The Matrix. While the song has quite the awful name, I promise it is a fantastic instrumental song to run to. Around the 3:58 mark in the song, it launches into a beat that takes over my body when I hear it. For me, it is the blood in the water. My eyes glaze over and look through everything in front of me as I stare off into the distance. My body loosens and my legs quicken and I track down every athlete in front of me. Once I have entered this realm, there is no coming back. I zone out and let my body take over the race. All feelings of pain and thoughts of doubt disappear and everything going on around me is reduced to white noise. It is the killer within that leads me to my goals and this race…to Kona.

Ten-Mile Stare.

Always in Stride,


Quote – To move into the lead means making an act requiring fierceness and confidence. But fear must play some part…no relaxation is possible, and all discretion is thrown into the wind. -Roger Bannister

Song – Clubbed to Death – The Matrix Soundtrack

Video – Heather Dorniden “The Race” Amazing Comeback

Well-Done Wednesday (4/18/2012)

Hello Everyone! I apologize for missing last week’s Well-Done Wednesday! It was an insane week with so much going on and the final prep for Ironman St. George. Fear not, we are back this week! Check these out!

1. Amazing Ironman Video that I almost used for this past week’s post – The story of Brian Boyle and his journey back from a car accident that nearly took his life along with his will to live. Will have you misty eyed for sure.

2. Great story about this past Monday’s Boston Marathon – From Ben Kaplan at National Post

3. The Sum of My Parts – Great post from Daniel Colameco contemplating what really makes up the self.

4. Reasoning on the Decision to take on the Ironman – A look into the drive and decision to take on the Ironman along with everything that goes along with it. –  from ironmaninthesnow.

5. Running Errands and I’m Crazy – Fun post on when life needs meet running needs:) from Run, Sweat, and Sparkle.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Well-Done Wednesday pieces! Check back next Wednesday for a new 5!

Share with a comment what you have found this week!

Always in Stride,


Dear Mom

Well, here I am, less than three weeks away from Ironman St. George. As odd as it may sound, training has blown by. It honestly does seem like just yesterday that I got the crazy idea in my head and began a loosely structured training plan. When I told others that I was doing the race, I was met with a range of reactions and comments. The one that sticks out most to me is that of my mother. She finds it difficult to understand why her baby boy would want to do such a tortuous, crazy activity, an activity that has the potential to injure or harm its participants in many ways. The marathon stressed her enough; I can only imagine what the Ironman is doing to her psyche. This post is my letter of explanation to her as to why I must do this race.

Dear Mom,

As long as you have known me, I have always been one to go against the grain. Whether it is against the rules you and Dad had set, or just the popularly held belief, I have fought it. It is the nature of who I am. My greatest fear is to live a life that is simply “normal”. I want to live a life in which people are fascinated by my accomplishments and experiences. In order to do so, I have slowly been progressing along a road that takes me to events that only a small population of the world has been capable of doing. The ultimate goal is to find something where I am the only human capable of a certain feat. For now, the Ironman suffices. Only .003% of the world’s population races the Ironman each year.

I think on a certain level we would all like to be a superhero of sorts in our own lives. When you think of all the classic superhero stories, the hero must enter the depths of absolute darkness and find a way to overcome it. Ironman provides the perfect set for this scene. Each and every athlete that attempts the Ironman will go through pain. Doubt will creep into the mind and make the athlete ponder why they are even out there. Each and every muscle within the body will scream out in agony at some point during the race. Pain is just a means of seeing how strong one is mentally. Once you challenge yourself to finish an Ironman, there is nothing you cannot do. You learn how to become your own superhero.


Mom, the video in this post captures exactly why I will be racing the Ironman: “In a perfect world, we would all have a goal or a dream and a way to play it out. We would all have a moment when we emerge from the darkness with the joy of the world on our face. When we see the light knowing that it’s up to you and only you. When in the night of the unknown, there is a way.” I absolutely need to have an experience like this. Listening to the video gives me chills every time I play it as these words are spoken.

I will go to St. George as a continuation of my search for whatever it is I’m looking for. I’m not really sure of what it is, but it is in this race. I’ll find it in the red rock formations, the crystal clear water of Sand Hollow Lake, and in my own sweat and tears as I conquer the 140.6 miles. You can be sure that as I am approaching those last 40 meters, the joy of the world will most certainly be on my face as the announcer screams “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”. It will be a mix of tears and smiles as I complete the greatest journey of my life thus far. Though you may not quite understand, you have told me many times before that “a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child”. Based on that, there is not much more a mother can ask for than to see the joy of the world on her child’s face.



Always In Stride,


P.S. I apologize for missing last week and having to rush out my recent posts without the highest quality. Things are hectic right now but will hopefully be slowing a tad after the race!

Quote – “If it’s really going to matter, it may be something that no one understands except you.” – Ironman Video

Song – Mother We Just Can’t Get Enough – The New Radicals

Video – Ironman Light of the World Video

Well-Done Wednesday (4/4/2012)

Happy Wednesday!!! I hope you all are having a fantastic week and plenty of great runs! Check these links out for some extra motivation and smiles:)

1. A Great Run Project by a Fellow Iowan:) – “Last but not least, we promise that when your head hits the pillow on the evening of your run, you’ll be pleased about your day.” – agoodrun Check this out and think about joining up! Great movement:) I’ll be doing a post for this project on my town of Manhattan Beach, California in December!

2. Memoirs From a Puppy – A fun post about a day of running through the eyes of a puppy. Great pictures, sure to put a smile on your face! from DownShannonLane

3. Taking the Scenic Routes – “There are two ways to catch the fever with running and both of them involve getting outdoors.” From Ben Kaplan at National Post

4. Some Hit the Wall, Others Crush It – Nice couple of motivational running pictures from Brooklyn at A New Dawn.

5. I Can Do This – “I can overcome three knee surgeries and still run a marathon every year” – Great short Nike ad

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Well-Done Wednesday links! Check back next Wednesday for a new 5!

Share with a comment what you have found this week and what you think of these!

Always in Stride,


I Am Addicted


“I am addicted. I’ve collected footsteps before dawn, seen places I never knew existed, run to the moon and back, been a rabbit for the neighborhood dogs, obeyed the voice in my head, let music carry me when I couldn’t, raced against yesterday, let the world be my witness, measured myself in meters, kilometers and finally character. I’ve plugged into a higher purpose, left this world and come back changed. I am addicted.” – Nike

It’s difficult to attempt to put into words the level of addiction that I have reached with running and endurance sport training. I liken the end of my workout to the end of a much anticipated amusement park ride when I was a kid. I just cannot get enough and it always leaves me wanting more. My coach knows this all too well. He makes sure to check up on me during scheduled rest days as he knows I’m the type of athlete to ignore rest as are most runners and triathletes.

The highlight of my day is always my workout(s). It is a fix that I must have to function. Those who know me well, know to watch out when I haven’t been able to get my workout in. It is as essential to me as showering, eating, and sleeping. I often get questions from friends such as “Don’t you get bored?”, “Do you ever get sick of running?”, and “Don’t you want to quit?”. The simple answer to all of these questions: No. Running and triathlon dictate everything in my life right now and nothing takes precedence. Going out, dates, work, phone calls, meals, TV, etc. all are just background noise compared to running.

I know this post is scattered as it is hard to put in to words exactly what my running addiction means to me. I think the quote from our video puts it best when it states I’ve “measured myself in meters, kilometers and finally character. I’ve plugged into a higher purpose, left this world and come back changed.” Running has made my character what it is. I interpret every event of my life through my running as I am constantly drawing parallels between the two. I can’t even begin to imagine the person I would be if I hadn’t found running. I’d love to hear what your running addiction means to you and how you put it in to words. Feel free to share in the comments!

Always in Stride,


P.S. In case it’s bugging you, the voice in the video is Edward Norton.

Quote – “It hurts up to a point and then it doesn’t get any worse.” – Ann Trason

Song – Now We Are Free – Gladiator

Video – Nike I Am Addicted Ad