injured runner

The neighbors may not have thought so, but the portable karaoke machine was brilliant.

The dancing? Spectacular.

Brandess showcasing her dance moves.

And that’s what set the tone for today’s volunteering at the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Boy, we were exhausted. This gig sure tired us out.

Despite the hard work, we were all smiles today.

This chica, hard at work.

Both Brandess and I were waylaid by injuries and couldn’t pace the race as we’d planned. So we signed up as course marshals and were blessed with a blue, cloudless sky and relatively warm temperatures when we set up at 7:30 a.m. after dropping our other friends, Mira and Shannon, near the starting line. Our friend Janet spent the night in Grand Rapids, but we caught up with her later.

While I had volunteered at one previous race where I smeared Vaseline on a random guy’s nipple, this was my first as a marshal. Thankfully, I was with a pro, so we were all ready for the day.

Our well-appointed spot at near miles 3 and 10

Here are some tips, should you find yourself being volunteered volunteering at a race:

  • Check the forecast. We knew we’d have cold temperatures, so we dressed in layers (guess which one of us looked like the Michelin Man) and stripped as the morning got warmer. Remember a poncho, sunscreen and bug spray, if the day calls for any of it.
  • Get there early. We had all been to Grand Rapids many times before, but a couple of wrong turns had us arriving just in time to our location. Had we cut it too close, we would have had trouble even getting to the spot because so many streets are closed off for the race.
  • Park as close as you can. We were just a few feet from my car, so we could have easy access to the aforementioned gear, plus we didn’t have to walk through half of Grand Rapids with a bunch of stuff.
  • Bring stuff. As in camp chairs, blankets, snacks and drinks. I even brought a small, collapsible camp table. This was especially convenient because we got to park so close.
  • Have clarity. Even if you have a map or have done the race in previous years, talk to the race organizers about your role, including where runners will come from and about what time, and where you should direct them.
  • Be loud. While we did help many runners stay on the course, we also got to cheer them on. Plain old poster board signs wouldn’t do. Instead, Brandess lugged a cowbell and karaoke system, which was conveniently paired with her cell phone’s Bluetooth connection.
  • Bring a camera. Your friends and their friends will love seeing the photos you shot in between the dancing, yelling and high-fiving.
  • Remember why you’re really there. Most runners were all smiles when we saw them on their way out, a little bit after mile three. On the way back at mile 10? A few were struggling, shuffling or just plain done. We saved a lot of our energy (who are we kidding — we’re both Energizer bunnies!) for those runners. We got a few to smile, a handful to pretend we were the Soul Train Line, and even got some fluids into the race’s last runner.

That’s Janet, giving a thumbs up while pacing the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon.

Some of our awesome runner friends!


While I thought I would be bummed to miss racing Gazelle Girl, spending time with my friends and being surrounded by so many awesome runners made the day special. I still want to run the race again next year, but this volunteering thing? Yeah, I’ve got it down now.

What about you: Did you race this weekend? Have any tips to share for a race volunteer? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Bestest of the week

by lachicaruns on

Fast food swaps

I need to memorize this list from Women’s Running magazine so I can make better choices on the road. I’m not loading up on Whoppers, large fries and a chocolate shake (OK, now I’m hungry), but my decisions could use a little help.

Runners are just the best

And we’re pretty good workers, too. Now to find a way to add these accolades from Amanda Brooks to our resumes…

Advising new converts, I mean, runners

There are few things runners enjoy more than talking about running except for talking about running with a new runner.

Here are some tips from Runner’s World magazine on what to share so you don’t overwhelm him or her as you help them join the cult, I mean, start on their running journey.

Shin, ouch, splints

For many years, I tried to pick up running only to be sidelined immediately by shin splints. Just typing out the words makes me wince.

Sure wish I would have had some running friends back then to give me tips on how to avoid and treat shin splints like those in this Women’s Running piece. Who knows, maybe I would have stuck with it for more than a day or two.

How about you; did you find any great articles this week?



Bestest finds of the week

by lachicaruns on

There’s the bestest and then there’s better. Balance, that is.

And this Runner’s World piece shows you three quick exercises that take just four minutes. All you need is a band, which I happen to have, to improve your balance, which I happen to lack.

I should do something about that.

Shin splints (she types and shudders)

When I first started running, I got shin splints really bad. I was so new, I didn’t even know what it was or what to do about it.

That’s where Women’s Running comes in. This piece by Dr. Jeffrey Sankoff does a great job explaining what they are and what to do about them. In my case, some rest and proper shoes made a huge difference and I’ve not had that problem since.

We don’t need to stinkin’ reasons to eat cherries

Those of us who live in the Michigan tundra and who look forward to summer all winter long are rewarded with the best cherries you’ve ever tasted. They’re, in a word, perfect.

But those of you who aren’t so fortunate to have had that experience and may benefit from some convincing may want to read this Women’s Running piece touting the virtues of the humble — yet yummy — cherry.

But I needed a reason to order one more thing from Skirt Sports

OK, not really. But I have been eyeballing this visor, which my friend Brandess has encouraged me to try.

Then I came across this Competitor magazine piece that rates visors a bit higher than hats for running in the heat.

Now I have some scientific (sorta, OK one coach’s opinion) proof that I need to order the visor.

Note: I was not compensated for mentioning Skirt Sports in this post, but I am a Skirt Sports ambassador captain. If you want to get 20 percent off your next regular-price purchase (a visor, perhaps), use code SSLCR20.

Did you find any great stuff this week? What was your favorite running-related story or blog post (including your own)?




Although I often stretch after returning home from a run, I rarely take the time to do so beforehand, or properly. I came across this piece in Running Times this week while reading another piece on how to avoid running mistakes.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth getting a reminder, especially for those of us who are injury prone.

Could this BE any funnier?

Best show ever? Someone’s obviously never watched MASH, but this piece showing Friends gifs still made me chuckle.

Safety first

I’m a ninja, so I feel confident and comfortable running by myself, but there were some reports of problem dogs in our neighborhood, so I started carrying pepper spray.

It really concerns me that a woman can’t feel safe running by herself anywhere, but having grown up in a big city, I’m also realistic and practical.

This Women’s Running piece by Natalie Diblasio makes some great points and provides information on two new-to-me types of items to help runners feel — and become — safer.

Advice I could have used, so I’m making sure you have it

I started marathon training way too early for a September race in part so I could run a virtual half marathon with my friend Brandess. But then I didn’t know how to adjust my training, so I repeated about three weeks with no particular plan before getting back on the wagon.

Here’s some advice from a Runner’s World expert on how to adapt your training if you have some additional time before your race.

And we have no winner

I offered up a free Skirt Sports visor for commenting on my previous Bestest Finds of the Week post but, alas, got no bites. I’ll give it another try sometime soon.

In the meantime, feel free to leave me a comment below on why you haven’t commented before. (See what I did there?)

Did you find any good running-related pieces this week? What’s your favorite TV show? 

Are we really odd?

by lachicaruns on

Left my favorite doc’s office today with renewed hope and a straight back. Dr. Awesome has finally gotten me to where I can go days with almost no piriformis muscle pain.

I’m back to running with some increase in mileage each week. In fact, just this week I added a fourth short run to the rotation, with my long run still slotted for the weekend.

I had a big smile on my face as I checked out of the office. The genuinely lovely front-desk scheduler noticed and commented on my mood and apparent improvement.

Why, yes, I said. I’m feeling much better and am happiest that I  am back to running thanks to Dr. Awesome, aka Dr. Miracleworker.

“Oh, you’re a runner,” she said, with the same intonation saved for people known to kick puppies. “You’re all going to keep us in business forever,” she added cheerfully.

Wait, what?!

Granted, a lot of the runners I know have back problems, knee pain, foot pain or other ailments. But so do most of my friends and family who — wait for it — don’t run. Or who just don’t exercise at all.

So why is it that we’re labeled as crazy for doing exercise that has such a positive impact on our overall health?

Yes, Runner’s World Magazine has a plethora of injury-related articles in each issue. And no conversation between more than one runner will end without a discussion of everyone’s ailments and treatments.

But is running really that injury-inducing? Or are we getting a bad rap?

I remember tae kwon do taking out many a classmate at my local dojang. People broke bones, twisted ankles and went home with bruises. Our favorite saying was “well, it ain’t bowling!” I don’t remember anyone judging me for doing a sport where there was a serious risk of injury. Instead, I was mostly spoken to in tones reserved for people who jump over tall buildings.

So why the runner hate? It’s certainly something I’ll be looking into in the coming days. You know, in between my runs.

hey girl

Have you experienced some head shaking from non-runners? Why do you think that is? What’s a proper response?