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The Summer of Fun Run Comes to a Close

“The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank.”

George A. Sheehan

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It is hard to believe that it has been six years since I have graduated college and even harder to believe that it has taken me just as long to figure out what it means to be a post-collegiate runner. Running is my exercise of choice and so much more. As I struggled to keep a consistent training schedule and set realistic goals, I was liking it less and less. I didn’t look forward to racing because I was just going to be let down.

This summer, I decided I was just going to race, not worry about times and just enjoy being out there with a group of people striving. It helped to have great running friends who recruited to these numerous races. Quite frankly, I ran so many fun ones that if I was thinking with a time goal, I might not have ever run. The list includes: a glow in the dark 10k, the PAW-louse 5k ( I borrowed a dog), a duathlon (pro tip: don’t use a bike you have never ridden) and a few low-key races that made me just feel better about myself including a mile time trial and a 10k.

But by far the craziest race I did this summer was this past weekend’s Ragnar Trail Tetons race. 15 miles, 3 legs and lots of elevation gain was in store for each participant. My team was awesome, mostly strangers that all knew the team captain but not really anyone else. Our team captain kicked major booty organizing and being the supreme queen of all e-mails. I barely had to lift a finger to be involved. Travel started Wednesday night when four of us left Moscow to get to Tetons and likely the most dramatic event was a bear ran away from us while we were driving. We camped and finished up the rest of the travel on Thursday. I could spend many sentences on the beauty and the varied terrain the trip took us through but I’m not a poet. We arrived Thursday night, signed in and got prepared for our 8:40 a.m. start.

Our team due to injury and other circumstances was widdled down to five runners, we knew we would not get an official time but we believe it worked out better in the end for us. We were able to finish a bit earlier and there wasn’t so much waiting. My first leg took me 5 miles across a ridge with two climbs and since I did it in daylight, the views really struck me. I kept it below 12-minute pace and was able not to get too light headed with the elevation. I spent the rest of the morning watching our legs come and go and getting all the recon I could. I was able to roll really well on my 3-mile leg, keeping it around 10-minute pace,  with the slowest mile being the first (the climb was killer). I was off to sleep and wait for the crazy 7-mile leg. The 7-mile leg was to the top of the ski lift with around 2,000 ft of elevation gain and the downhill on the “sticks and stones” trail was very technical plus well, there could be bears.

After dinner and a nap, I dressed in my multiple layers (temperatures had dropped into the upper 30s) and put on my pack with my bear bell to wait to start my leg. With sequins, glowsticks and sparkly tights, I started my last leg at 9:30. It was dark and if our first runner hadn’t given me a small flashlight to use on top of having my headlamp, I would not have been in a good spot. I started the power hike to the top, I maintained sub 20-minute miles as I followed the headlamps to the top of the 3.5-mile climb and was thankful to reach the top. As I made my way down, I could hear a flurry of f-bombs from numerous places and just tried to watch my feet. I was able to run with a few other runners but by the time I reached my last mile, I was alone and the thoughts of bears filled my head. I started to sing songs from Alexander Hamilton to just fill the air. Luckily, my bear spray was never used. I finished the run in about 16:11 pace. My team finished at about 4 a.m. The exhaustion, happiness and pride that overcame us was hard to express being wrapped in blankets but we had a great time. Will we do it again? Likely, but we might have to forget a bit first.

During this summer, I hit a milestone in age- I turned 29. I have decided to make one last go at my 5k PR. This week, I’m sitting down to write out a plan but be sure to follow me here and on Twitter (@carabyrd) to see how it goes.


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What is in your post run survival kit?

After 15 years of running, I have learned quite few facts about my running habits. The first, I’m not a morning runner unless I’m doing two a days or the heat is unbearable.  Secondly, I will succumb to work fatigue. The solution was right in front of me, run at lunch.

But I had one big concern: without a shower at work, I don’t want to smell.

After searching Amazon and the web, I came up with my post run survival kit that will keep me fresh and clean.

So what is in this magical kit? Let me tell you:

  • Action Wipes:  These are almost as good as a shower. One wipe can clean all 5’1 of me. They are so good, I sometimes forget I haven’t taken a shower.
  • Not your Mother’s dry shampoo:  A good dry shampoo can go a long way in restyling your hair and drying up any sweat.
  • Deodorant: I have so many tiny deodorants from multiple race packets.
  • Back-up make-up: You know you have, the eyeliner that isn’t your favorite color or the blush that just has bit more left. Throw it in a bag in case you need touch-up. Or go bare face, you are who you are with or without mascara.
  • Hair supplies: I bring bobbie pins, hair ties and sometimes a headband. A messy bun can look chic and a power pony can always work.

This kit has saved me in other situations too including sudden downpours. I have also found that after a lunch time run, I’m more productive and a bit more focused.

So tell me, what else would you put in your post run survival kit?


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Race Report: Palouse 100k Relay + Glow Run


I always was the first kid to jump a fence, do a rope course or generally enter the unknown. This character trait led me to volunteering to do perhaps the hardest run of my life. I volunteered to run leg six of the Palouse 100k relay.  Let me just give you a visual.

That is an elevation gain of around 1700 ft.

But before I get much further, let me give you a quick synopsis of the Palouse 100k Relay. The Relay is 10 legs starting and ending in Pullman, WA. For the past two years, I have been part of the Beer Chasers 1 team and our primary goals are to have fun, drink and beat team two. Last year, we ended up being second overall in the mixed category (at least four women). We start at 7:30 a.m. and typically get done around eight hours and some change later. This year, we had a few new legs but we were just as ready to have fun and run. My running partner, Alexiss, and I had scouted our legs (six and seven) the week before. I averaged around 11 minute miles.  I knew it was going to be rough but not quite as rough as it turned out to be.

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We had distanced ourselves from the rest of the teams that had started at 7: 30 a.m. (there was a second heat that was for the faster teams, we had been originally placed in this heat but had begged to be move to be in the same heat as beer chasers 2). My teammates were killing it, looking strong and surviving the warm day. By the time my leg started, it was us and one other team. For the first two miles,  I felt great maintaining a sub ten pace but quickly I began to unravel and became a game of run until you see the next truck.  By the time I hit the fourth mile of my six miles I would run that day, the other team was long gone. My mind was just focused on finishing and not frying. My average mile pace had dropped between 12 and 13 minute miles.

This isn’t some great story about how I dropped some fast miles and came back to catch the other team. Instead, I toughed it out, put one foot in front of the other and finished. It wasn’t easy and I’m not exactly happy with but I did it. I quickly negotiated to run another leg next year. I handed off the rubber chicken and Alexiss kicked some major butt and made up ground. We slowly ate into the time of the first place team but sadly finished seven minutes behind. Two teams from the second heat also finished in front (one less than a minute) but it was all good in the end. We won most spirited and had plenty of laughs along the way. It was a great way to kick off the summer racing season.

WP_20160430_20_37_00_ProIn fact, this past weekend I ran a 52:24 for a 10k and felt great.  It was fundraiser and not officially timed but we got free beer and a glow in the dark shirt. I ran pretty consistently and felt like I could have pushed a little harder at the end. My fastest mile was 8:03 and slowest was 8:53 but that mile had a pretty good hill in the middle.  Next up in a duathlon in June (two mile run- 10 mile ride- two mile run) which will be a first for me.

-Cara Hawkins -Jedlicka


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You Are What You Eat

By all means, I am no expert when it comes to food and diet, but I do love to eat. My friends are constantly making fun of me because I am always hungry. Whenever we go somewhere I have to make sure we plan when, where, and what we are eating next. Sometimes I even get ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry) and then they know they need to feed me soon.

Diet plays a huge factor in how you perform as an athlete. It’s what fuels you and gives your body the energy to work as hard as you are pushing it. Lately I have been really focused on how food makes my body feel. Just recently I came to the conclusion that I was eating too much yogurt, or good bacteria. At night I just didn’t feel good, so I researched it, and it looks like the symptoms I had pointed to just that. Having too much bacteria in my system didn’t allow my body to absorb the nutrients it needed. After just two days of not eating yogurt I felt so much better. From now on I will be eating it in moderation. I have always been one to eat healthy. I stopped eating fast food and drinking pop years ago. I knew that there was very little nutritional value in those things that came fast and cheap. I’ve worked hard to eat right and train my body. Now it’s just more of a habit or routine then a chore. There are times where I feel like I need to treat myself though. My biggest weakness is the sweets. If there is a cookie, you can bet I will eat it.

When you read articles about your diet ‘they’ (the actual experts) always say things like:

1. Eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks.

2. Eat a big breakfast and then your meals get smaller throughout the day.

3. Eat protein after a workout.

4. Don’t eat before bed.

5. Etc, etc.

These guidelines or tips can seem overwhelming and sometimes hard to follow. At the end of the day, I know I just need to listen to what my body wants and how I feel. My performance will always reflect the hard work I’ve put into training but also the fuel I give my body.

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Gym Life

untitledI have to admit, I am really enjoying going to the gym. It took me awhile to get into a rhythm while there but now I really look forward to the burn I feel after. I am still looking for new workouts and new ways to change it up but the pattern stays the same. I do whatever focus I want then after I run. For example, I’ll do a lot of core workouts then run for a few miles. Leg day and run 1 mile, arms and run. Hence the pattern.

At first I wanted to do nothing but core workouts because I love it so much. Then I wanted to do core even on other days too. Now I realize I just can’t do that to myself and I need to give my body that rest. When I first started to switch it up I really felt a difference the next day. I was really surprised at how sore my muscles were from using them a different way. It made me really excited to know that it would improve my running. Just the other day while working my arms I received the best compliment. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked what workout I had just done and what body part it worked. I was so flattered that someone was asking me for workout tips. I must be doing something right. I know I’m no expert but it was still nice to be noticed.

On a side note, possibly relating to pushing myself into a rhythm. I ran a 5K a few weeks ago and it was absolutely freezing. It was a night race that involved glow sticks and a very windy course. When I got there I thought to myself ‘What the heck was I thinking?’ But once I started running I was surprised at how my body was adjusting to the temperature and the wind. My time was a little slower but nothing that wouldn’t be normal in those conditions. I was actually very happy with my results considering the conditions. I cant wait until the weather warms up and I can really see how the hard work in the gym will pay off on the outdoor trail.

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Baby, its cold outside

Happy 2015! If you are like me, you are likely still asleep (you have to love a good scheduling tool). Typically, blog posts around this time do one of two things; talk about goals or reflect about the previous year but I’m not going to either of those. I have already written a blog about goals and this past year was a bit of a mix bagged.
Instead, let us talk a little bit of subject that has been hitting me hard this week that is running in the cold. By hitting hard, I mean the high was 14 degrees yesterday. I know many of you would scoff and consider this warm but I was born and raised below the Mason Dixon line. Let me put it this way, I own only four pairs of tights. I had no idea fleece lined tights existed until this year.

ColdoutsideWith that being said, cold weather has a negative effect on my running. Mainly, I don’t hydrate enough and I don’t want to run in the cold. I’ve been able to tackle the hydration issue pretty easily but drinking lots of tea. There is nothing quite like a warm cup of tea after a cold run or even during the day. I have also discovered the NUUN makes a pretty warm drink. I stick to the caffeine free teas. I have found that I drink more tea than I did water.

The issue of going out to run in the cold hasn’t exactly been resolved. For Christmas, I asked for lots of layers and warm athletic gear which helps. I also purchased a cheap (like $3.00) drawstring toboggan that allows me to wear it around my nose (see pic). I also received a white reflective vest and a head lamp that helps me navigate night run (will also make Beer Chasers Wednesday night group run heck of a lot nicer). If I’m really not motivated, I stick a few dollars in my pocket to purchase a hot drink on the way home. I will admit I do wimp out sometimes and use the indoor track at the gym. Miles are miles.

What do you do to help your running in the cold months?
I hope everyone is having a great new year! I’m looking forward to getting married and running my first half with a new last name in May.

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When you aren’t the only runner in the family anymore

10659286_10202905677592246_4323240366889049457_nI am the oldest of three girls and we have always been competitive. My sisters are more gifted in the hand-eye coordination area and I was the only long distance runner in the family ( my youngest sister was a sprinter in high school in the soccer off-season).

That changed recently, my middle sister has joined me in those ranks. I started getting pictures of her Garmin and every present has become a request for running clothes. She has slowly built her mileage and plans how to run everyday. She is getting her master’s degree and works in a lab the majority of the day. Running has become the way she gets outdoors. The greenway is right behind her apartment and she tries to go farther on it. It makes me happy that she enjoys it so much. I am so over joyed to be able to share it with her

. “Bring your running clothes and shoes” was the text I received the morning the SO and I left for Thanksgiving with my family. I laughed a little bit for we had already been on the road for two hours (we had to drive to Seattle to fly to Nashville) but assured her they were packed. Thanksgiving this year was her birthday, and before the relatives diverged on the house we went on the run. We ran through the neighborhoods and noticed the changes, we talked about life and explored my old running haunt of the VA. Before I knew it, she was kicking my butt. While I have been trying to get into a routine,  she has been building fitness and speed.

We have decided to run a half marathon in May and it will be fun to share her first half marathon experience. I’ll be training so she doesn’t have to wait too long at the finish line for me.   -Cara

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Gravity has taken better women than me

This is not a blog about falling or inertia. No, this is about cross-training. So to understand me a bit better let me get one fact out of the way, I have no hand/foot eye coordination. I was fast but never great at ball sports so when it comes to cross training I tend to like to stick to cardio classes. Spin class is my go to cross training activity in the winter and cycling when the weather is nicer. The second fact you should know is that I have little to none upper body strength. I despised weight room days in college and was by far the worst part of track.

But when I looked through the classes that University of Idaho offers, I was drawn to the class “gravity” mostly due to the name. I secretly hoped that it would be Cirque du Soleil like. The description of the class is “Dynamic workout on the GTS, designed to provide group strength training that be individualized to each participants fitness levels-without sacrificing technique, variety, challenge & importantly ‘fun'”. This to me sounded like a class that I could do and not be over my head.

WP_20141118_18_23_05_ProI will admit I was little nervous going to class especially when I saw the instructor who looked like he could lift two me over his head and the machine looked a bit like a torture device. As I settled in on the sliding board on the machine, I just prayed I could keep up. I had not nothing to be too nervous about, the class focused on glutes (which I have covered) and abs (also, I’m still pretty strong there). Luckily, the machine made it easy for you to use your own body weight which helped quite a bit. We did end up doing pull-ups and I’m super sore from it today. The instructor was much scarier looking than his personality. He was great with showing me how to adjust the machine. And I was only a little disappointed that it wasn’t like Cirque de Soleil.

I’m going to keep exploring classes in order to become stronger (though I am running tonight). What are some classes that help you with your running?


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Fall Goal Setting

I ran my first and only marathon in Chicago on Oct. 10 2014 (10/10/10). I was 23. I told myself, I would run one again at 25 but life got busy. I graduated with my M.A. in advertising that year, moved to Colorado Springs and started a new job. I was just trying to get a handle on life.

Four years later, here I am again thinking and plotting about running a marathon. I’ve moved to Washington, took a new job and getting married next year. I am contemplating another go at the marathon. The goal is to do another and PR by the time I’m 30.

It is really weird to see the number 30 and I know I am referring to myself. So much can happen between now and 30 and I’m nervous I will get side tracked. I know that even my upcoming nuptials will be a large roadblock. So I know I need to be deliberate in setting my goals.
Goal Setting
I’m not a motivational speaker or accredited in any way with setting goals. But, I have a nice way of thinking of them:
• Define
• Plan
• Do

So I have defined my goal pretty well-marathon before 30 under 3:59. The next steps are harder. I have read up on training cycles and consulted my online coaches (I do use an online training program). I am going to focus on short races building up to a half marathon next August or September. I am going to add in core work and cross training. Finally, I need to follow-up and stick to the plan. I know the next few months are going to be hard with the holidays, wedding and just adapting to a new place. I am going to continue to make sure to interact with my online group of runners and luckily, I’m joining up with a running group or two here. It is time to set myself up for success.

How do you set yourself up for success?


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Thoughts about the Long Run

I remember when I use to dread the long run, I was a middle distance runner so what was the use. In high school, my teammate (also now maid of honor) and I started to log longer and longer runs in the summer usually laughing and joking the whole time. I fell head over heals for the long run (or head over hills considering the type of terrain I like). The awesome part about the long run, it makes the shorter ones seem easier.

I like to do my long runs a little different than most people, I take whatever is the slowest pace that I want to go and calculate the total time then I go get lost on trails. By lost, I mean I go out for say 40 minutes and then turn around to find my way back. So on good days, I might cover more mileage than what I record and on bad days, I still get the mileage I need in. The best days, I get to have quite the adventure.


I’ll share a couple adventures I’ve had on the long run (or as Shalane Flanagan calls it “the church of the long run) . It was the day after Halloween, I had been out the night before at the parties but not super late and I had made sure to drink 2 bottles of Gatorade (FYI NUUN works better). The next day, I woke up surprisingly early and feeling OK. I tiptoed through our house, my other roommates still asleep, and slipped out to Panther creek. Panther creek was the perfect place to train for cross country and beautiful in the fall.  I don’t know what moved me to do it, but I decided to explore a new trail. Two miles into the run, it started to climb. I crunched the leaves with every step and slowly my mind started to realize what I had gotten myself into. After deciding not to turn around,  I reached the top of the summit and I was able to see the whole park. My muscles ached and I felt dehydrated but the view was worth it. I began my descent and well got a bit lost. I ended up doing 13 miles. Suddenly, the 5k cross country races did not feel as bad.

The next long run that stands out in my mind is one of the first I did in Austin on town lake loop (or Lady Bird lake for non locals). I was training for the Chicago marathon, I needed to get 20 miles in. Luckily, town lake is 10 miles long, so 2 loops and I should be done. I had also not ran the complete loop before but rather would go out for a certain time and turn around. I was adjusting to running life in Austin by getting up early to beat heat and crowds. I also had my first official date that day with a guy I had met and it was brunch date. While doing my 20 mile run, I had met a friend for a few of the interloping miles and got completely turned around and lost (notice a theme) by the time I left her. While looking at a map, I heard my name being called. Lucky for me, it was my future date who then directed me back towards my apartment. We had a great date and now we are getting married in 100 some odd days.

A month or so left in Colorado Springs and I will be enjoying every long run! What are some of your favorite long run memories?