Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Race Day! | Kathy Kliebert

I was taught several years ago to do a race report after finishing a big race so you can remember the things that worked and those that didn’t during a race. It’s a great tool to memorialize things you learned in the training and race process.  Here is my race report from my first - and last - marathon:

I mentioned in my earlier blog that I am rather obsessive about my training.  Unfortunately, that obsession comes with some negative effects.

The obsession over training slowly begins to monopolize my life. All my activities start to revolve around how I am going to get a long run in when work or family interferes. It usually means I sacrifice sleep or leisure activity to get the training done and then I get frustrated that I ever committed to doing this in the first place. 

Although, obsessive training comes with some great benefits. Because I work so hard to follow such a strict plan, I usually have a really good race on race day.  I followed the last several weeks of my training and nutrition plan religiously. Even though my hip hurt so badly that I could barely walk a few days before the race, I was ready on race day. 

I had a nutrition and hydration plan, a plan for clothing in different weather scenarios, a plan for where I would start, a plan for dropping off my jacket and gloves, a backup battery for my iPhone to assure I had music the whole way, a plan for exactly how I would run the race (short walk breaks every four miles), and a mental plan to just go with it if any of the plans failed.  

As a runner, you usually hear that all the planning doesn’t work out come race day, but all of my planning actually worked! My husband and I positioned ourselves around the 4:40 pacer although we knew that was faster than our pace but wanted to be ahead of some of the slower runners to avoid tripping at the start.  My husband and I started together and I felt really good and began running faster than I had on any of the training runs. I kept hearing him say, “You’re going too fast!”

Whenever I run, I never look at my watch except when it vibrates to tell me a mile has gone by. My husband checks his constantly to run a certain pace.  I run like I feel like running, really having no idea what my pace it is.  I once ran a 5K and thought I was averaging 9:40 a mile but really averaged 8:40. I just couldn’t tell the difference between the 8 and 9 on my watch. If I feel good, I run faster and if not, I slow down.  On race day I was feeling good.  I ended up running faster and left my husband at about 1.5 miles. 

At 3 miles I dropped off my jacket and gloves and then at four miles took my first water and gu walk break. I was really feeling good and almost didn’t stop for the short walk, but then I got nervous that everything would fall apart if I didn’t follow my plan. 

I was still feeling great all the way up to mile 11. I was high fiving everyone, dancing a little on my run and then I saw that the half-marathoners would turn off to head to the finish line and the marathoners would go on to finish 15 more miles.
As soon as the half-marathoners turned off, both race participants and spectators thinned out considerably. I started thinking about how 15 miles was a really, really, really long way to go. 

I kept following my plan and really didn’t slow down very much until about mile 19 – I was averaging right below an 11 minute mile and realized that I could probably make it in under five hours even if my pace slowed a bit.  My prediction was 5:15, thinking I could definitely do 5:30, but my ultimate goal was 5 hours. 

After I got to mile 20 I knew I could do it and started taking each mile one at time – taking a short walk break if I needed it but constantly calculating what I needed to do to make it under 5 hours.  The people along the course were great, constantly encouraging me. Once I hit the top of the overpass, I knew I could run the rest of the way and would make my goal. 

I finished in 4:53. Two of my grandkids were there to see me finish, which was great, but even more exciting was that my brother and 86 year old mom surprised me and were waiting at the finish line.  My mom hugged me right afterwards and with tears running down her cheeks (and mine) and said, “I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished” – what a great finish to this journey.

SO what did I learn? Here are the most important tidbits that I picked up along the way:

The sacrifice was worth it.

A marathon is a very large jump from a half-marathon.

You have to have family and friends to support you.

Marathons are for young people. If you want to do one, do it when you are young. They are very tough on old knees and hips!

I can keep my mind still for longer than I thought I could.

The Boston Qualifying time for my age group next year, when I will be 60, is 4:25.

Some people can run amazingly fast.

There are some wonderful stories of courage and determination from people with disabilities and those runners that support them.

Follow a training plan!

I’m confident that my next chapter in fitness will be more about helping others achieve their goals rather than achieving mine.

No matter what your age – it is always great to hear your mom tell you that she is proud of you!

I am a marathon runner.

Kathy Kliebert
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary

Kathy is an avid triathlete, taking on the challenge of her first full marathon with the 2015 Louisiana Marathon. When she isn't running a state department or keeping up with her triathlon training, she loves spending time with her grand kids. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyRunsLaDHH

Friday, January 9, 2015

The End is Near | Kathy Kliebert

Since my last blog, I have logged in a lot more miles. Along the way, I’ve learned some important things about marathon running and a lot about myself.

I still have not figured out how to overcome the boredom on the long runs, but I did manage to get myself into a much better place mentally in order to accomplish them.  Everyone tells me now, “the hay’s in the barn” and that I need to just rest, relax and get ready to enjoy the day.

I pretty much kept up with all of my training runs, only skipping one or two shorter ones on recovery weeks when I felt my legs, knees and hips just couldn’t handle them.  The training plan seems to be working, although, I won’t know for sure until the actual race day. My last 20 mile run was less painful and 14 minutes faster than my earlier 20 mile run.  I am still not sure how I am going to manage an additional 6.2 miles but everyone says that the adrenalin from race day and all of the people along the course will make it doable. 

So, what have I learned?  I am still not a long-term marathon runner, but I now think I can be a marathon runner for one day.  I have learned to allow my mind to be still for short periods, which is major for me. I have learned that you can certainly do more than your think your body can handle.  Every long run I have questioned how I can possibly increase the mileage when I can barely made it as it is, but sure enough, I am able to finish longer runs.  I have learned the importance of nutrition on the run. Hopefully, I have a good nutrition plan in place for the race.  I have learned it really helps to have others run with you – I could not have done this without my husband accompanying on almost all of the long runs.

I have immense respect for marathon runners – it takes a tremendous amount of determination to get out there in the heat, the cold, the rain and the wind to complete the training plan.  Training puts is a lot of wear and tear on the body.  Someone asked me if I thought my legs were getting stronger. Honestly, it is so hard to tell. I feel like I have been tearing and repairing my muscles for so long that I don’t know what rested legs can do.  Kudos to those that do this on an ongoing basis.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who joined Team DHH – at last count we were 169 members strong. 

That is 169 people that committed to making lifestyle changes to help improve their health outcomes and to support their friends and co-workers in making changes.  Whether you are running your first or fifteenth 5K, 10K, half or whole marathon, be proud of the work you’ve put in and the changes you have made.  Even if you didn’t complete the training plan, at least you started and set a goal which is more than most people do.  Celebrate the things you have been able to accomplish. Use this experience to guide you in setting additional goals and in making those changes in your life that will lead to a healthier and happier you!

I would like to invite everyone to join us for a Louisiana Marathon Pep Rally that we will hold at the Baton Rouge DHH offices at 628 N. Fourth Street at noon on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 to celebrate our success and to cheer those on that will be running one of the races over the weekend.  Team DHH and Team DOA members are also invited to attend a Marathon Pre-Party at the Capitol Welcome Center 702 N. River Road Baton Rouge at 5 p.m. also on Thursday January 15th. There will be great food and motivational speakers to get the teams ready for the weekend. Please try and join us for these activities!

Kathy Kliebert
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary

Kathy is an avid triathlete, taking on the challenge of her first full marathon with the 2015 Louisiana Marathon. When she isn't running a state department or keeping up with her triathlon training, she loves spending time with her grand kids. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyRunsLaDHH

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not A Marathon Runner | Kathy Kliebert

I am NOT a marathon runner. 
To be honest, I thought I might be.  I had never run more than a half-marathon and never ran more than 10 miles in training for those, but since I did seem to get faster the longer miles I ran I just thought that maybe, just maybe, I could be a marathon runner.

I am halfway through my marathon training and can unequivocally state that is not the case. 

Last weekend, I ran 15 miles. That’s the most miles I have ever run at one time. During that run, I decided not only is marathon running not what I was made for, I actually despise it. The frustration grows deeper with every mile. I run on for hours, getting more and more bored with running.

I strongly believe in exercise, but I haven’t figured out any good reason to run more than one hour in a row.  I don’t think I am getting any additional physical or mental benefits from increasing my running regime from one hour to three or more. So, I am finding it incredibly difficult to continue to do something I think is this excruciatingly boring.
I am somewhat attention deficit and when I am running I can’t seem to focus on the run for very long – instead I focus on the weird feeling in one knee, the blister forming on my toe, the tightness in my hip and the weird sounds coming from my stomach.  I am sure at any given moment my knee will give out, my legs will cramp and I will vomit.  Also, I am quite sure that I am doing some massive damage to all parts of my body.  In reality, my body is holding up quite well. Most of my discomfort is very temporary and I never seem to have any physical reason to stop a run and my recovery is not bad.

All the same, I  could spend all day talking myself out of doing a marathon. In an attempt to find some motivation and purpose to what I now believe is a rather tedious activity, I asked other marathon runners their thoughts.  They said they run for the peace and quiet. I can get that in a library. They said they run for the mental fortitude. I can get that doing crossroads or playing words with friends. They said that eventually my legs will get stronger. While some of the after run soreness had diminished, my legs still feel pretty weak during the runs. They said they run for the sense of accomplishment. I can get that from a medal finishing a 5K or 10K or many other activities that don’t involve pain.

So, how do I get through these next two months mentally?  I have thought about this extensively over the last two weeks.  One thing is for sure – I won’t quit because I do want to meet the end goal of completing my first (and probably last) marathon.  Many of us that work in government recognize that sometimes we have to do some things that appear illogical to accomplish the end goal.  So, I will follow my training program as much as possible. I do think it was designed for a younger person so I have added a couple of extra rest days when needed.   I’m now listening to a book on the iPhone and am scheduling some runs in different places to help with the boredom.

Whatever distance you are training for, trust your coach or your training program and don’t give up on that end goal.  Try a new approach if the old one isn’t working – just keep moving toward the finish.   I’ve learned that in the end it will be worth it. You will have figured a little bit more about yourself and what you value in the process.  The journey to the goal is just as important at the end game. Here goes trying to remember that as I go out for my 17 mile run this weekend.

Kathy Kliebert
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary

Kathy is an avid triathlete, taking on the challenge of her first full marathon with the 2015 Louisiana Marathon. When she isn't running a state department or keeping up with her triathlon training, she loves spending time with her grand kids. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyRunsLaDHH

Real Runners | Chelsea Bennett

Somewhere around the third week of training, I started running on the levy on Sunday nights. It’s a peaceful kind of run, quiet and breezy with the fall weather just rolling it. The wind is always so intense that close to the river. For me, it’s almost like a propeller pushing me along.

I have a distinct memory from early October of what was probably the first “good run” of my life. Maybe it was watching the sunset on the bank of the river turn into downtown lights reflecting on the water or the crazy winds rolling in, but I finally started to understand why people run. I had a rhythm and didn’t need to stop. I discovered a breathing pattern and everything synced 

For the first time, I felt unbelievably powerful - and I loved it.

I’ve got about nine weeks of training under my belt, which is crazy to even think about, and I’m still not sure if I count as a real runner yet. My training consists of running 45 seconds and walking 15 seconds, endlessly and excruciatingly, four days a week. Accurate or not, I don’t think I’ll actually call myself a runner until I’m running a full 5k without stopping

Even though I won’t actually call myself a runner, I feel like I’ve pretty much earned the right to. Sometime around week 7, I was having a lot of problems with shin splints. I was stretching, icing, buying new shoes and googling solutions endlessly. Nothing worked. On a regular after work run, I decided I was probably doing more damage than good and quit with a quarter of the route left to go. I’m proud to say that that is the only time in this journey that I’ve quit. I followed up that quitting with five days off, along with some serious ice time and came back even stronger. I still constantly have to tell myself things like: “You are hurting, you aren’t going to die.” or “Your legs aren’t giving out, you are quitting.”, but at least now I know those things are true.

If I’m not a real runner, at least I might look like one now. Somewhere in all of this I also went from running in old college t-shirts to actually wearing real running gear. I don’t know if any of this actually counts towards me being a real runner, but I ended up with a light up slap bracelet for running in the dark, a sweet sweat band visor, shoes bought more for effect than cuteness and more dri-fit clothing than you can shake a stick at. I think the shoes were a real turning point. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if they came in hot pink, I just needed them to help my legs feel better.

I think I’ve finally got some real runner inspiration, too. During our Team DHH and Team DOA Louisiana Marathon BBQ, I had the privilege of hearing Jenni Peters speak. Jenni Peters started the Baton Rouge running shop and institution Varsity Sports, which is home to some of the most intense, nationally competitive running groups in the area. In my mind, Varsity was started by someone who loved running from day one, which was probably the day they left the womb. As it turns out, Jenni was almost exactly my age when she ran her first 5k. She had never run a day in her life and really only went to hang out with her friends. Now, she’s transformed into a respected running guru, competing in Olympic trials and owning three running stores in Louisiana. Hearing her story had an unbelievable effect on me. All of a sudden, running wasn’t something reserved for the always-athletic. It could be mine too. I wasn’t late to the game, I was right on time - and if she could do it, so could I.

About a week after hearing Jenni’s story, I decided I’ll be running the Louisiana Marathon Half in January 2016. How’s that for a plot twist?

There are ten weeks left until race day with the real runners. All of a sudden I don’t care only about making it through the race, I want a great time too. That’s got to be the best thing about this journey – the mental transformation. Nine weeks ago, I couldn’t run down the block. Now, I feel like the real runners and I aren’t that different at all. With ten weeks to go, all of those real runners better keep up, because I’m not sure anyone wants it as bad as I do now.

Chelsea Bennett
DHH Public Relations Specialist 

Chelsea is a 22 year-old, taking on the challenge of the 2015 Louisiana Marathon Advocate 5k. A lover of all things southern, she is an LSU grad, completely infatuated with the sweet Louisiana life and everything quintessentially “Baton Rouge.” Find her by the pralines or follow Chelsea on Twitter @GeauxChels

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Starting the Road to 5k | Chelsea Bennett

Yesterday, I went for a run.

I'm calling it my first official training run, but it's actually the second.

The real first one was such a joke that it can hardly be counted. You see, I have an an
adorable dog named Katie. She's a one-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi with very, very short stumpy legs. Last weekend, it was decided that my fiancee and I would take Katie on our first run. Honestly, she's pretty lazy and needs the exercise. So, we laced up and hit the levy. About ten minutes in Katie couldn't do it. She gave up, laid on the ground and completely refused to move. We had to take turns carrying her home.

So much for starting off with a big success.

Yesterday, we decided to start over. It was about seven and starting to get dark outside, which to me is always a bit depressing. I love daylight savings time and dread the dark winter evenings. All the same, we decided we would run the levy in the dark. In retrospect, this may not have been the best plan and we should probably invest in glow sticks, reflectors or something if this is going to be a normal occurrence. After we made it up the giant hill that brings you on to the levy running/bike path, I started to feel bugs running into my face. Being so close to the river right at dusk, I'm guessing this is a normal thing, but nothing prepares you for feeling like a bug is going to fly into your mouth at any second. We cranked up couch to 5k and started going. Moments after, here come some kids on skateboards almost running us over - which confirms that the glow sticks are probably a good plan. So, I've got the bugs and then the fear of skateboarders working against me, however, somehow I got past it. 

I couldn't help but be completely in love with how pretty the river was at that time of day. The horizon was seven different of colors of pink and orange all melting into the river. Last night, the cold front blew in hard, but I think the wind was blowing the hardest on the river. It was like a giant fan blowing at the perfect temperature. You could barely hear it was blowing so hard. As it got darker, we got closer to downtown. The city lights reflecting on the water were beautiful. For a minute, in between the wind, the sunset and the lights, I understood why people run. Somewhere in the one minute running bits of the training, I felt like I could run forever.

But then I came to my senses and started to feel like death was upon me.

I have no idea how to breathe when I'm running. Trust me, I've heard all there is to hear about it. I know it's a pattern. I know it's in with the nose out with the mouth. Even equipped with all of this knowledge, I feel like I'm constantly gasping for air with my chest aching in the process. If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was some weird asthma thing. I'll be real with you though, it's probably that I have no clue what I'm doing.

All the same, I considered my run mostly enjoyable - which is a huge milestone for me. Also, I'm giving myself points for actually getting off the couch to go run. I'll take any reason to celebrate that I can get.

So, one run down, seventeen more weeks to go.
General feeling: I've got this (maybe.)

Chelsea Bennett
DHH Public Relations Specialist 

Chelsea is a 22 year-old, taking on the challenge of the 2015 Louisiana Marathon Advocate 5k. A lover of all things southern, she is an LSU grad, completely infatuated with the sweet Louisiana life and everything quintessentially “Baton Rouge.” Find her by the pralines or follow Chelsea on Twitter @GeauxChels

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taking on the Marathon | Kathy Kliebert

When people hear about my training as a triathlete, I think they always assume that exercise is second nature to me. When, in all reality, exercise has never been easy for me. When my alarm goes off at 3:45 a.m. calling me to the gym, I have the same reaction that most people would have. I want to stay in bed and not go to the gym; I want to go back to sleep.

This is the first time I've attempted a full marathon. It's a long time coming -- I've been avoiding this particular challenge for a while. I love triathlons because there are multiple events for me to focus on, but marathons are entirely different. Running is actually my least favorite part of the triathlon.  When it comes to long distance running, the real challenge for me isn't the running itself, it is fighting the boredom that comes along with running for four hours or more.

Training for a marathon is a lengthy process that is hard for everyone. There are good days and there are bad days. Some days, you’re going to wake up to run three miles and only run one – because that’s what runners do. Other days, you’ll run your entire goal and feel great. 

Personally, I'm particular about how I go about training for a run. I have to pick routes that don't make me pass up my starting line again. It adds to the boredom if I’m just watching the same things go by again and again. There a lot of great tips out there for training for a run. Here’s a link to my favorite golden rules of running. Following these rules, like the ten percent rule that you shouldn't increase your training mileage by more than ten percent a week, really helps my training.

If there is anything that I really want people to understand about running and exercise in general, it is that this is not easy for anyone -- no matter what your fitness level is. A lot of people don't start off running, many begin with just walking. Even walking makes a difference in getting to your goals, every bit that you do counts. The biggest thing about running, or getting in shape, is having patience with yourself. The older you are the more patient you have to be with the process.

I am so excited to see DHH taking on this challenge. It is great to see so many people coming out of their comfort zones to try something new and great for their health. The best part about all of us taking this on is the overwhelming support that comes from such a fantastic team working together.  On the good days and the bad days, at least we are all in this together. 

Kathy Kliebert
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary

Kathy is an avid triathlete, taking on the challenge of her first full marathon with the 2015 Louisiana Marathon. When she isn't running a state department or keeping up with her triathlon training, she loves spending time with her grand kids. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyRunsLaDHH

Going From My Couch to A 5k | Chelsea Bennett

My favorite salad has fried shrimp on it. I own a FitBit to track my lack of fitness. I drank some water yesterday. I like to take the stairs, but really only on the way down. I only have one pair of tennis shoes that I bought based only on their color. Also, one time I ran pretty far from a wasp.

Somehow, all of this has made me qualified to write for this blog associated with running.

I realize that some people may be offended when their boss recommends that they would be good fit for writing a blog from the perspective of someone who despises exercise entirely, but not I. You see, I have no shame about my hate for exercise. It is just a part of who I am at this point.

However, I have come to realize that it's probably time for me to get over that. The truth is that avoiding the freshman fifteen is nothing compared to avoiding the cubicle fifteen. Also, I will not be twenty-two forever and I should probably learn how to exercise now while it is relatively easy and while I am low on excuses.

The sad thing is that I know all of the reasons why I should be running. When I was at LSU I walked over a mile to class every day. Now, I walk 1,000 steps to the parking garage. I spend the majority of my day sitting in front of a computer all day and while my job is relatively enjoyable, being still all day can really get you down. I am all for the fact that people who exercise feel better about life in general because of endorphins and all. Also, I think that having goals to accomplish for myself on my own time will really help with my mission for a solid work-life balance.

Now, I am not going to pretend that this is going to be some easy peasy challenge. As far as athletic abilities of young people go, I am a pretty sad case. For me, running around the block one time feels the same as a marathon. I don't think I've ever actually ran a full mile in my life. A 5k is basically a Chelsea Bennett marathon. I wish I could find a way to really explain to you guys how hard this is going to be for me. I sincerely dislike being uncomfortable and last time a checked, there was nothing comfortable about running. However, there are perks. For example, if I run I can eat cheese fries without guilt – and let me tell you, I am all about maximizing eating cheese fries without guilt.

The goal is for me to run a 5k. I make no promises for extraordinary times or if I'll even be able to run the whole thing. I mean, I sincerely hope I'll be able to - but at this point running just one mile without feeling like death is upon me*, let alone three, would be an absolute triumph. Mainly, to be honest, the goal is for me to train for a 5k. I want to make it possible for me to run twice a week without wanting to die every time.

So, no excuses! If the girl on the ninth floor who can barely make it down the block without wanting to pass out can do this, so can you. I'm terrified, like really terrified, but we can do it together! Here we go!

*You may think this part is dramatic, but it is honestly how running makes me feel. Don't judge.

Chelsea Bennett
DHH Public Relations Specialist 

Chelsea is a 22 year-old, taking on the challenge of the 2015 Louisiana Marathon Advocate 5k. A lover of all things southern, she is an LSU grad, completely infatuated with the sweet Louisiana life and everything quintessentially “Baton Rouge.” Find her by the pralines or follow Chelsea on Twitter @GeauxChels