Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our only disabilty is our own self doubt- Succeeding with Dyslexia

Royal Hartwig- my sweet boy

My son is a huge inspiration to me. He has this wonderful quality of believing he can achieve anything and having unwavering patience in doing the work to reach his goals. At the age of 15 Royal is an apprentice company Ballet dancer and a high honor roll student. His dance schedule is over 55 hours a week of training year around.  Royal also has a learning disability, he has dyslexia. I asked him if he minds me telling people this and he says he does not. He is proud of who he is and all he has done to be that person.  It is not a handicap. I feel it has helped teach him the importance of being prepared and taught him how to work hard.  As a parent at times it hurt watching him struggle to do things that were easy for most. I'm in awe though that he never gave up, got frustrated, or even thought for a one second he could not do anything he set his mind to doing. This quality is in Royal's inner being, it is not something I taught him. I take no credit for it. Royal has been my teacher.

"Researchers think that learning disabilities are caused by differences in how a person's brain works and how it processes information. Children with learning disabilities are not "dumb" or "lazy." In fact, they usually have average or above average intelligence. Their brains just process information differently." *

When my son was born I fell completely in love with this beautiful boy. I wondered to myself how I could ever resist kissing his cheeks every second of the day. I wanted his life to be comfortable and for him to grow up to be whatever he dreamed of. My husband and I enjoyed watching him reach all his normal childhood milestones. Everything was right on track until it came to speech. It was difficult to admit to myself he was behind. I wasn't ready to except a learning disability. I was afraid for what this would do to his life. 

When he entered preschool his speech was hard to understand.  We had him tested and he was behind his age milestones so he started working with a speech therapist. He finished preschool and was not fluent in the alphabet and wrote most of his letters and words backwards. The school suggested we consider waiting one more year for him to start kindergarten.  We decided to send him to kindergarten because he wanted to go and his personality was hard working. We understood he was a behind but we wanted to believe he would quickly catch up .

Once in school Royal had a positive attitude but he struggled. It took him an extremely long time to do task that other kids whizzed through.  Nearly every night his short homework assignments that should have taken 20 minutes to finish would take him the entire evening. He was not goofing off, this was the speed he had to work at to finish. It was scary as a parent to watch. I worked  hard not to show him my frustration. He would just sit there quietly thinking and working until he finished his work every night.

Reading with him was very difficult. His school homework required him to read 10-30  minutes a night.  I watched him struggle, his face showed physical pain while he read. I can't imagine what it must be like to be taught to read one way, then when he looks at the letters his brain is seeing them differently. I was so worried he would never learn to read well enough to function in school. I felt scared and helpless. Somehow Royal never got frustrated. He just simply finished each task that was given to him until he learned it. Then he would move on to the next. He never compared himself to his peers. He was confident he was doing his best and happy with where he was at.

In second grade Royal became a ballet dancer.  Here he was a child that was not reading at or even near grade level  and now he was a boy ballet dancer. I was concerned he would get teased in school. Royal handled this with his typical laid back self confidence. He owned his love of dance and was proud of his practices and performances. In school he wrote about his dance in his writing assignments. I treasure those stories. I remember one wonderful story he told about how his stomach felt before his big performance and how once he was on stage he was comfortable and enjoyed entertaining the audience.

As far as other kids making fun of him at school he did not have problems. His inner peace and confidence were what people saw.  I don't think any of the kids realized he struggled to read and do his work.  He carried himself with self confidence and kids tended to be drawn to him.  He was proud of Ballet so kids did not question it as something to be made fun of. One time in middle school a boy quickly teased him about being a ballet dancer, Royal calmly responded, "I went to a pool party with 25 girls this weekend and I was the only boy, what did you do?" Well, that was the end of that.

Royal Hartwig as the miniature prince in the Nutcracker
We are fortunate to live in Crystal Lake. It's a great school district. The teachers recognized his learning disability early on and set him up with an IEP. This involves us having yearly meetings at the school making plans for Royals education. I sit in a room with a group of teachers and counselors and we go over Royals strengths and concerns. They make goals for him and each year he has been able to reach these goals.  I have never made it through one of these meetings without crying. At the grade school meetings I was crying because I was so scared Royal would not learn to read. Now at the meetings I cry because I am so thankful for all the work the school and teachers have put in to his education. I can never express how grateful I am to them.

Royal is in high school now. He takes all regular classes and is even getting moved to honors classes next semester. He is a "A" or A+" student. I have no worries about his education any more. Now I look forward to him coming home to tell me a typical story about how the teacher announces in class, "Only one person in the class got every question right on the test" and the whole class immediately yells, "I bet it was Royal!". Occasionally he gets teased by his friends when they see his report card, they say "Nerd". He laughs. His teachers all describe him as a leader.

 I am so inspired and proud of my son. He has been blessed to be able to study dance at Judith Svalandar School of Ballet. The kids studying dance work very hard and truly love every moment of it. It has taught Royal how to organize his limited time in the day. He has a passion for classical ballet and if you check his Ipod most of the time he listens to classical music.  Royal is a strong yet quiet young man that moves through life patiently achieving all his small goals no matter how hard they are. These small goals have all added up to some huge achievements. When I start to have self doubt in my abilities I think of my son and all that he has overcome. He has taught me how consistent hard work and patience can get you anything you want. 
Royal Hartwig as the Prince in the Nutcracker 2011
photo credit- Dan Swinson


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cadence is Important-Natural Running Class

Interesting fact- Did you know that it takes 3 weeks for a muscle to learn something and become stronger? This is why the Natural Running Class is 3 weeks long. Class meets twice a week. During these two classes our instructor is pointing out what we need to work on. Then on our daily training runs we continue the good practice. In three weeks we should all be on our way to an efficient natural stride!

Practice makes perfect- Class time to practice time, things to think about before you run
This is the list I was given from Running Depot
  • Head level and looking forward
  • Upper body erect
  • Slight forward lean
  • Arms relaxed at 90 degrees
  • Hips level
  • Ankles and knees slightly flexed (Athletic stance)
  • Land lightly under the center of your body
  • keep all movements symmetrical
I run with these thoughts fresh in my head and visualize myself and make corrections as needed. It's not easy. I have a bad habit of holding my arms to high and crossing them back and forth in front of my body. I have to correct this every couple of minutes. In fact my muscles in my arms seamed like they were getting sore from trying to run this way. I am dedicated to working on this during all my runs though and I look forward to seeing the results.

Class Time
I love the Natural running classes at Running Depot! In the last few classes we have learned strength work and drills specific for running. All good stuff that will make us fast! Plus at each class we have a short run with Cari (about a mile).

She follows our run correcting us on form while she has a metromone beeping. Just in case you don't know what a metromone is (I didn't). It beeps at 89-92 counts per minute. You listen to it and you make sure you are taking a step on every beat. Cadence is why it beeps 89-92 counts per minute...I'll explain

Cadence is very important. We should have the same amount of steps per minute if we are doing a 7 minute mile or a 13 minute mile. This gives us the most efficient stride. The reason for that is with a quick foot turn over you will have less vertical bounce. The perfect cadence is 88-92 steps per minute. To help understand why a quicker foot turn over is most efficient;

Imagine you are jumping rope, or actually try doing this.... Jump up and down slowly (notice how much your head bops up and down) Now jump rope at a quicker pace. You should notice your head does not bop as much. Plus your landing lighter and the impact is much less on your feet. The same is true when running. With a slow turn over of your feet your head bops up and down. You are pausing on each step and that causes a stronger push off to move. This ends up being upward, not forward. We want to keep all our motion forward with the least amount of energy being used. Almost like we are falling forward on a flat surface.

Over the course of a marathon a non efficient runner can have 3.8 miles of climbing with all that wasted vertical motion. Wowzie...that's a lot of unneeded work. With an efficient stride you will still have some climbing, 1.3 miles in the course of a marathon. This means an efficient stride gives us a savings of 2.5 miles of climbing. I'll take that!!! ... I'll need that energy the last 10k of my marathon!

During our run last night we practiced running different paces while maintaining the 88-92 cadence. Cari reminded us how important it was to keep landing lightly under the center of our body. It was very interesting how you can move at a slow or fast pace while still moving your feet at the same cadence. I was comfortable with it and could feel the benefits. For me,  I imagine staying light on my feet, and moving the one foot forward as soon as I sit down the other one. This method kept my cadence correct. Then you simply adjust the pace by opening up your stride. This needs to be done with the effort from your back foot/leg. Be careful you keep landing lightly under the center of your body. If you open your stride and land in front of your body that is called overstriding and causes all kinds of wasted energy and injuries.

I learned a lot and have a lot of new things to think about during my training. My husband came along during my run the other day and took pictures. That was helpful. I could see in the pictures little mistakes in form I was making that I wasn't aware of. Practice will make perfect!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Natural Running class- Efficient running = POWER strides!

Good pacing makes sure I'll be passing all race!

I am back in school! Learning how to run more efficient. The class I'm taking is at Running Depot in Crystal Lake. The first class was an assessment of my gate, flexibility and functional strength.

My Teachers-

Cari Setzler, DVM
USATF level II Endurance Coach
RRCA Certified Coach
Running Depot/owner manager

Todd Wallace, DPT and OCS

The session started with me running on a treadmill at an easy pace. Cari video taped me from the side and the back while I ran for about 8 minutes. Then Cari, Todd and me looked at the tape. Cari pointed out what was good and bad. Overall I'm pretty efficient, I guess averaging 70+ miles a week will do that to you. I'm running at approximately 85% efficiency. I don't have wasted up and down motion. I run with a natural lean forward. Which means my center of gravity is correct. I look like the picture of the guy running on the right. I really think this is from wearing Inov-8 shoes. *The design of the shoe teaches us to land correctly.

The things that I need to work on is
Upper body- my core is strong but I'm not using it correctly. I sway to much and I hold my arms up a little to high. Need to relax and drop them down a touch.

Feet- I push off with my pinky toe on my right foot instead of my third toe. Consistently doing drills specific to this will teach me to correct this without me even having to think about it while running.

Lifting my legs-For a trail runner I surprisingly don't pick my feet up very high. That's why both my knees are scared up. Ha! This will be corrected by drills they are going to teach us this Sunday. I'll video tape that drill and post it this weekend.

Pausing- I can work on not letting my foot plant quite as long, quicker turn over.

Next Todd and an assistant did a strength and flexibility test on me. This was done by me doing things like touching my toes. Lying on a table while Todd had me do different stretches with my legs. I was very flexible. My abductor could use some work loosening up. And my right hamstring. Working on keeping my muscles loose will help with me getting quicker turn over on my stride.

 Then for the strength test I did sit ups, side planks, leg lifts with resistance, calf raises, etc... I was very happy to find out I'm strong as an Ox (That was Todd's words) I scored a 5 out of 5. Five being the best you could score. I shouldn't be that surprised because I have been doing strength training for a couple of years. This year I really pushed that part of my training up. I've been working with Bill Jenson 3 times a week. The work outs are really tough. He says I'm his only female client that will still do pull ups for him. Those are insane! I can't believe I'm even able to do them.

So basically I learned from Cari and Todd that you can be as strong as an Ox but if the machine is not mechanically moving correctly you are not going to be able to utilize that strength. They are going to make these changes to my gait by drills, flexibility and strength training. Learning to use my strength correctly. I do all this and my stride is going to naturally get more efficient.
I named this pic "me passing skinny chick" Ha!
It does show in the picture how I hold my arms up a little to high and sway my upper body. I think if you look closely you can even see I'm pushing off from my pinky toe. This picture looks like a heal strike but I believe I have improved on that.

Getting tired but still have more SC to pass Hehe!
This is getting near the finish. I'm tired and you can see my  form could improve.
I'm stronger now than I was here but I'm sure I'll see improvement here. It looks like my foot is
permanently planted in the ground. I need some quicker turnover.

* I wear a 3 arrow shoe, which is a slightly cushioned minimal Inov-8 shoe, after seeing my tape I believe I can start moving down to the 2 arrow shoe (That will mean less cushion and more power with my push). I'll post a later blog about that.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Turkey burgers- Good nutrients for running well

 When I'm training hard my body craves protein and I am more satisfied when I get this from meat. With high mileage comes a high appetite and after a long run I tend to crave a fattening burger. Since I know this I try and make sure I am prepared with a healthy satisfying alternative. I make these turkey burgers up in a big batch and freeze up in individual servings. That way when I get home from a hard training session I can cook up a meal quickly that feeds my muscles with lean protein and is loaded with healthy nutrients.

"I am so addicted to these burgers I have a hard time not eating them for every meal!"

This recipe has chicken livers in it. Don't be afraid to try them even if you don't like chicken liver. My husband absolutely hates liver and LOVES these burgers. It adds a ton of rich meaty flavor to the turkey. If your really spooked by the liver, try using only a couple. I think you will be surprised by the delicious flavor it adds. Chicken liver has tons of nutrients beneficial to runners-Iron, B12, Vitamin A, Folate, Riboflavin, Selenium just to name a few. Check out this website for a list of benefits of these nutrients.

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3-4 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 handfuls of shredded Swiss cheese ( I like Jarlsberg)
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower seeds (I use salted but you can use what you like)
  • Sea salt to taste- I use approx 2 tsp
  • 6 chicken livers chopped up tiny in tiny pieces with veins removed
  • 2 pounds of ground turkey

Mix all ingredients together. Make 8-12 patties. I flatten them out to the size of bread I'm eating them on. The extra patties I put between parchment paper, then put in a freezer bag and freeze.  Grill in pan with a tiny bit of hot olive oil, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once you set them in the hot oil don't move until you flip, that way you get a nice crust on the outside of patty. Remove from pan to build your sandwich.

I build my sandwich using whole grain soft bread, spread with Hellman's mayonnaise, and topped with chopped Romaine lettuce and sliced onion. Be creative and come up with your own favorite toppings. I would love to hear how you build your turkey burger!

Road Trip to South Dakota pictures- Lean Horse 100

Arriving in South Dakota!

Checking out the Badlands

This is at Horsethief Lake campground.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

You can, if you BELIEVE you can- Marathon/Ultrarunning

These pictures were taken today on my favorite road route
The route is around Crystal lake. This story is my thoughts I had
during today's run.
Random conversation that makes me smile- I was chatting with my daughter sharing my wish that I could run Mogollon Monster 100. My husband and I had hiked these trails on a road trip a few years ago and it is beautiful. The course has big climbs and its at a high altitude. Very different conditions than I have ever done.  I told Tasha I wish I could run it but I don't know if I can. It may be to hard for me. She just looked at me in disbelief and sternly said, "well if you keep talking like that you won't be able to". My 12 year old daughter was right. My Dad lives near Mogollon Monster and he said he would crew for me. I'll keep this on my bucket list. If I do what is needed in training I can finish this race one day.

I love running in the fall months. After the hot summer training the cool weather makes the runs feel fast and easy. October always make me think back to when my "running life" began, 5 years ago training and running the Chicago Marathon. I would have never guessed that this simple decision would be so life changing. I had grown up my entire life believing I could not run. I had tried a few times but had failed miserably.

I love running now and I especially love all the people I have met because of it. It has been beneficial to my entire family. My husband took up the sport and enjoys going to races with me. My daughter (age 12) has grown an interest to trail running. This has allowed her to have something in her life that helps define her and make her in to a confident young lady.

I didn't begin my "running life" as a natural, in fact I did not like training at all. It was going to take me believing in myself before it was going to work. I slugged through all my runs, lonely, because my lack of confidence kept me from training with anyone.  I started by running 1 mile...then 2 miles...I very clearly remember the first time I made it to 3 miles. I thought I would die. I wanted to quit so bad but I forced myself to keep moving forward. It was not fast. In fact I remember being a little worried a walker would pass me and that would be really embarrassing. I finished that 3 mile run but I still did not believe in myself. My non belief was really making training tough.

View from the road during my lake run

Today I ran around Crystal Lake (it's an actual Lake). A 4.3 mile run. Back in 2007 it took me a long time to gather up the courage up to attempt running around Crystal Lake. I don't know what I thought would happen if I tried and didn't make it. I would have to walk...uh... so what? But for some reason I didn't try for a long time.  When I finally did, it made me feel pretty good. I thought to myself, "Wow...I ran around an entire Lake".  This was a tiny victory for me, it would take a little more convincing for me to BELIEVE I was a runner. I used the Hal Higdon Marathon training program. I finished all my runs but still went into race day unsure of myself. It takes a long time to get rid of a life long belief that you are incapable of something.

Chicago marathon day came, I don't think I have ever been that nervous in my life. Would I be able to make it to the finish line? What would happen if I didn't? How hard was this going to be? I started the race with the 30,000+  runners and before I knew it I was having fun! Training worked. It was easy. This was the first run I truly enjoyed. The crowds were amazing, I soaked in the Chicago sights, I felt healthy! I was so happy, I was a runner! I finished my marathon and for the first time I believed that I was a runner.

Now I can dream big- When I run around Crystal lake it is now a short run to me. I only get nervous now when I'm doing speed work. But I love that kind of nervous. During my run today I was planning my upcoming races in my head. The cool weather and beautiful sights made it easy to visualize a successful race. I'm training for Rock n Roll Arizona marathon, January 20th and have a goal of qualifying for Boston Marathon. I believe I can. I also thought about my BIG race for 2013. A 100 mile race. I have been working for a few years trying to figure out how to run a 100 mile race well. I've had quite a few finishes but I haven't had my dream race yet.Where everything goes perfect. I believe I can. It's so crazy, 5 years I am...dreaming of running my perfect 100 mile race and really believing it is going to happen for me.

When I start my run at Lippold this is the view I see from
the parking lot. I love how it changes through the seasons.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Earth Day 50k- April 22nd

Me giving Trey Robinson his first overall male trophy (He also won a free pair of Inov-8 shoes)

Race director (Me) giving Shelley Cook her first overall female trophy and a certificate for a free pair of Inov-8 shoes from Running Depot in Crystal Lake IL.

Husband and wife Relay team "K2" winner of 3rd Overall -Brian and Andrea Korte

"K2" relay team with their kids, and me

The smiling Arthur Sundry

Daniel and Beiyi, finishing Earth Day 50k after running and finishing the Double Chubb 50k the day before. Nice job on back to back 50ks!!!

The bright and sunny Carrie Tomlinson on relay team "Over the Hills and through the Woods"

Blair Piotrowski 1st time ultra finisher. Blair made 50k stickers for all the first timers!!!

Chris Boyack, from Colorado. He won a Inov-8 back pack for traveling the farthest to the race.

These guys are showing us how to run hills

Daniel Wilson from Colorado

Luis Miral

Mark Francis leading the pack, Mark ran 38 mile the day before. I'm looking forward to seeing him run Kettle 100!

Damian Nathaniel 3rd overall in 4:15:13 with John Kiser 2nd overall

Earth Day 50k finish line

Jeffery Lung and Damian Nathaniel

The hardworking timing crew, Andrea and Nick Pate 

Start/Finish line aid station

Alfredo Pedro

Beiyi Zheng from Colorado (She is Coyote Springs 100k female champion)

Chuck Schultz blazing the downhill

Cory Feign- recent finisher of Umstead 100 miler

Damian Nathaniel (2011 winner of Mohican 100) and Kamil Suran (2011 winner of Virginia Triple Iron Triathlon, and course record holder)

Jen Birkner and Edna Esposito

Jeremy Eldridge

John Kiser smiling all day long to finish 2nd overall Male in 4:13:45. He passed two people in the last couple miles of the race. Awesome performance!!!!

Karyn Weber- 2nd overall Female

Melissa Mims- 1st time ultra finisher

Mike Gasche plays the star spangle banner as everyone gathers to the starting line

Mike Johnson helping on the trails. Last July, just for the heck of it, Mike, Mark Francis and Steve Conn ran 100 miles on these same trails in under 30 hours.

Smiling faces at packet pick up

Ric and Mark Perry

Ric Nienstedt

Runnerman Dan!!!

The beautiful "Ultra Virgins"

The Epic Eric Harold 1st place AG with a smoking fast time of 5:21:26

1st overall Male and Female Trey Robinson and Shelley Cook. Shelley is training for Western States 100. Trey is her crew captain. This is a picture of her whole WS team, Matt Condron and David Zeisler.

Team "Gone fishing" 50k relay

Gregory Smith 4th AG 40-49

Jen Birkner 1st place AG 40-49

The "Machine" brings it home!!!

I'm giving Jeffery Lung his 1st place AG award and 4th overall with a time of 4:17:25