Lessons of a PR

23 10 2013

I finally did it. After nine years of running, I finally broke a 30-minute official 5K (official results), and actually wound up winning my division (female 40-44 years old). I can check another item off my 40 Things list, and I’m getting closer to checking off item #14 on my life-long bucket list, running an 8-minute mile for an entire 5K.

So how did this happen? I would love to say it was the result of hard work, determination, and endurance. While those attributes played into this accomplishment, the other factors that helped were:
1. This was an inaugural 5K supporting our local YMCA. For you runners out there, you know what “inaugural” means: low turn-out. There were only 21 ladies in my age group, and 188 total participants. I finished 45th overall.
2. The course was ridiculously flat. Flat = good.

My official time was 29:12.6, but my running time was 28:22. I had a “wardrobe malfunction” at mile two which involved me trying to take my jacket off while running. I’ve done this numerous times so I know how to do it efficiently. However, I forgot that I put my GPS watch on TOP of my jacket. In trying to figure out why my sleeve wouldn’t come off, I got my jacket tangled up around me and had to stop. Completely stop. When you are trying to PR, stopping completely is not a good thing. That little snafu cost me about 50 seconds. But, really, who cares? (besides me) I still PRed and won! (PR stands for Personal Record, and in running it can be used as a noun or verb.)

On the podium (I promise you, there were more than two us in the division!)

On the podium (I promise you, there were more than two us in the division!)

Matthew on the podium

Matthew on the podium

My husband also ran and placed second in his division (male 40-44), missing first by about four seconds. His time was 23:18.9. He can run that fast without training. Ever.

Oh my word!  I cry from laughing every time I look at this photo.

Oh my word! I cry from laughing every time I look at this photo.

There are so many things wrong with this picture. It might have made it on to our Christmas cards this year if we were doing Christmas cards. (Why are we not doing Christmas cards?) My mom looks like she saw a ghost, and Jason is . . . missing. If you look carefully, you can barely see the top of his head where the “professional” photographers cut him off. I look sunburned despite the 50° temps. Thank goodness Matthew and Caleb look normal.

Caleb and Jason also did the kid’s one-mile race. Caleb walked, but Jason had it in his head he was going to WIN! He took off like lightning . . . at least as fast as his little legs could carry him. He wanted to hold Matthew’s hand the whole way, but once other kids began passing him, he stopped completely, threw his hands up in frustration, and sat down. In the middle of the path. I shouldn’t have laughed, but I did. He eventually got up and started walking, pouting the whole way. Only a balloon sword at the finish line could bring about a smile again.

Jason and Matthew on the kid's mile

Jason and Matthew on the kid’s mile

Jason and mommy pre-race

Jason and mommy pre-race

I love this photo, taken by a random staff member at the Y. I love that 1) Jason is so stinking cute, 2) I can still lift him for a snuggle hug, and 3) you can see my hair is long enough to put in a ponytail. I’ve waited 15 years for that!

Whenever I run alone, I always have an amazing time visiting my thoughts unencumbered—no kids asking questions, no phone ringing, no doorbell dinging. Just me and whatever is flittering around in my head. On race day, this is what was on my mind.

•I’m so thankful. Thankful I have two legs that work well together to be able to run. Thankful that my asthma has much improved and my cardiovascular system is in great shape after three decades of getting winded walking up a flight of stairs. Thankful that I have the leisure time to be able to run. Thankful that I have the finances to be able to participate in races/fundraisers like this. Most of the world does not have the money, time, or health that I enjoy.

•God’s creation is breathtaking. Leaves changing colors in autumn. Green grass against a blue sky. Sunlight filtering through a forest. When I’m running I get to escape the iPads and iPhones, the fluorescent lights and artificial heat, and I am transported to God’s creation in its purest form.

•I need to push myself A LOT harder when I train. I usually train 3-5 miles, 3-4x a week. My first mile is usually just over a 10-minute mile, mile 2 is a 10-minute mile, and for mile 3 I increase the speed 0.1 mph every tenth of a mile until I’ve only got a ¼ mile left. Then I up the speed to 7-8 miles per hour. I do like pushing myself hard at the end, but I definitely need to start at a faster pace. I just proved I could run a sub 9-minute mile for an entire 5K. I should not be such a wimp (most days).


Run Kelly Run (part 2)

10 01 2012

(A continuation from Run Kelly Run (part 1))

“So, why do you run?” 

I’ve been thinking about this question for several years now.  It was most recently posited to me by a friend after hearing me tell of how much I disliked running.  (Okay, I used the phrase “I hate running.”)

I have been a “serious” runner for about seven years now.  Though I’m not sure what exactly constitutes being a “serious” runner, that is how many friends and family describe me.  I run 2-3 times per week, 3-4 miles per time.  I’ve participated in three ½ marathons, two Ragnar Relays, and numerous 5/10/15 Ks over the past three years.  I currently have 13 races/triathlons on my calendar for 2012 and am looking for a few more.

Yet despite my discipline and sacrifice, I still don’t really enjoy running.  I never have, and I keep waiting for the day when I get really excited about going for a run.  Before most runs, it is a huge mental challenge to ready myself to run.  I often wait to the last minute to change into my running clothes.  Then I’ll stand on the treadmill staring at the Start button thinking, “Just push the button.  Push the —– button!  All you have to do is push the button.  Push the button, already!”  And on it goes in my mind till, minutes later, I muster a bit of resolve and push the button.

So, then, why do I continue to partake of this activity several times a week?

Simply stated, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

The health benefits, in particular, are numerous.

  1. My asthma is well-controlled.  The fact that I can even finish a ½ marathon with just a preventative puff of my inhaler before it starts is an amazing accomplishment in itself.  (I was the kid who couldn’t run one lap in PE without ending up in the nurse’s office.)  I remember having a series of pulmonary breathing tests done a few years ago by my allergist.  I had been running just a few years at that point.  My doctor was astonished by the increase in all the different results.  She commented that anyone looking at just those test numbers would have no idea I had asthma.
  2. My weight is a non-issue.  I don’t know too many women who can claim that they are just fine with their weight, but I really am.  I am not trying to lose weight.  I’m in maintenance mode.  In fact, if I were to lose only five more pounds, my BMI would drop to an unhealthy level.
  3. Endorphin boost!
  4. I sleep really, really well.  Even though I run at night most of the time, usually ending within an hour of bedtime, I have no problems falling asleep.
  5. My body is more tone and fit.  There is more muscle definition in my legs, arms, and abs.  I look better, and I feel better.  Or do I feel better because I look better?
  6. Running helps me clear my mind and focus in ways other activities can’t.  I often have some of my best prayer times while running, and I can often hear God’s voice much easier on my runs.
  7. Every year I get a comprehensive wellness exam consisting of a blood panel, EKG, ultrasound of my heart and other major organs, chest x-ray, and a few other tests.  My cholesterol is lower, and my risk of developing heart disease is lower than it was before I started running.  How many people do you know can claim to be in better physical health with each passing year as they age?

The ROI (Return on Investment, to borrow a finance term) is also great.  For the time it takes and the amount of energy exerted, I burn twice as many calories running for 30 minutes than biking and about four times as many calories as I would swimming.

I can’t leave out the practical nature of running either.  This is a sport I can literally do anywhere in the world, at any time of day, in almost any kind of weather without much hassle or cost.  I run at home.  I run on vacation.  I run in the rain.  I run when it’s 95° outside, and I run when it is 30° outside.  I run with friends.  I run alone.  I run on the treadmill at home.  I run in my neighborhood.  I run at the state park that is two miles from my house.  I run at dawn.  I run when the stars are out.

I don’t have to drive to a gym to run.  I don’t have to wait till the park opens or be done before the gym closes.  I am not limited to a certain time on a certain day.  I don’t have to rely on a partner or team.  I don’t have to tote around a huge gym bag full of clothing or a van-full of equipment.  I don’t have to memorize a play book or adhere to a set of game rules.  I am not judged, nor do I have to worry about a referee.

I just have to place one foot in front of the other.

Running has helped me to develop discipline in how I treat my body.  Running has helped me learn to sacrifice for the greater good.  Running has taught me to push the darn button to do something that I know will bless me in the end, despite how I feel at the start.

So no, I do not need to find another form of exercise as my friend suggested.  I will continue to run, and I will continue to be blessed by it.

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews 12:1 

Halloween 2011

2 11 2011
Halloween is taken very seriously in the Huddleston home.  (Read my post on Halloween 2010.)  Candy, parties, candy, races, candy, pumpkin carving contests, candy, costumes, and more candy are our focus.  Did I mention candy?

My Halloween season started on October 14 with a Halloween 5K downtown.  I ran in my “running refrigerator” costume.  I didn’t win first place, but I received a nice gift certificate consolation prize anyway.

running refrigerator

running refrigerator - iRun for the Party 5K Oct. 15

inside the running refrigerator

inside the running refrigerator - iRun for the Party 5K, Oct. 15


On October 29, I ran a 5 mile race with a group of friends.  Three of dressed up as the “Three Musketeers” candy bars.  My good friend and artist extraordinaire, Devon (Simply Artistic Design), created our costumes.  We didn’t win—we didn’t even make the second round of finalists.  We definitely felt jipped as much less creative, store bought costumes won.

Three Musketeers

Three Musketeers, Halloween Hunt 5 miler, Oc. 29

Due to the chilly weather on the night of October 29 at our annual home church fall party, not too many people bothered with pumpkin carving.  Matthew’s creation, “Jack-in-the-box” pumpkin and Caleb’s “Death Star blowing up Alderaan” won by default.  Our prize?  A bucketful of candy, most of which was chocolate.

Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin

Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin

We capped the festivities off with trunk-or-treating at FRA and later with trick-or-treating in our neighborhood with friends.

FRA's trunk-or-treat

FRA's trunk-or-treat with some of my favorite students

time out at trunk-or-treat

time out at trunk-or-treat (Jason had a melt-down when we told him he couldn't have only candy for dinner)


trick-or-treating with friends (Jason was Thomas the Train and Caleb was Boba Fett from Star Wars)

How did you celebrate Halloween?

Bucket List

13 01 2011

My bucket list is in no particular order, and it changes often.  Many items have to do with travel, a passion of mine, and some are slightly off-the-wall.

1.  Launch a grenade.
2.  Dance a Viennese waltz in Vienna  on New Year’s Eve at the largest Viennese Ball in the world.
3.  See Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theater in London.
4.  Visit Venice during Carnival.
5.  Ride on the back of a motorcycle at a sport bike track day.
6.  Sky dive someplace amazing like in New Zealand.
7.  Hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
8.  Ride the Orient Express in first class.
9.  Fly first-class on an international flight.
10.  Learn to play the piano without effort.
11.  Learn to dance as if I were in the finals of Dancing with the Stars.  (Derrick Hough
would be my partner.)
12.  Run a Victorian bed and breakfast on a lake.
13.  Teach at a missionary school in Indonesia.
14.  Run an 8-minute mile for a 5K.
15.  Retire to Costa Rica.
16.  Learn to cut an onion efficiently, like they do in infomercials for Ginsu knives.
17.  Bungee jump someplace amazing like in New Zealand.
18.  See a lion capture a zebra on a safari somewhere in Africa.
19.  Visit every “Wonder of the World” old and new.
20.  Learn to speak, read and write fluent German, Chinese, Polish, Swahili, Spanish, and French.
21.  Give 50% of my income to charitable organizations.
22.  Grow my hair back to the length it was on my wedding day.
23.  Earn my MBA.
24.  Earn my Ph.D.
25.  Fly in outer space.

Run Kelly Run (part 1)

22 09 2010
2010 Country Music 1/2 Marathon

Matthew and me after having completed our 2nd 1/2 marathon.

This is my story of how I went from being an asthmatic who couldn’t run one lap around a track without collapsing to completing ½ marathons.

I was diagnosed with asthma when I was three or four years old.  Until the last few years of my life, my asthma was pretty bad and hard to regulate.  Physical exertion such as climbing a set of stairs, laughing too hard, breathing in cold air or even eating ice cream could all trigger that familiar, unpleasant sensation of my airways swelling, my shoulders tightening, my neck straining, and my chin itching. 

(Side note:  My chin always itched.  Even to this day, my chin itches when I start wheezing.  I’ve never really researched why that is, but if anyone has an explanation, I’d love to hear it.)

I was a gymnast in high school.  (You can read about that experience on my post “My Score Was a 2.7.”)  I really did love the sport, but it was also one of the few sports where I didn’t have to worry about extreme cardiovascular exertion during practice or competition.  Even vault only required a sprint of 3-4 seconds.  My body could handle that.

Fast forward a couple of decades to after I had my first son, and I wanted to lose the last few pounds of baby weight.   At the time, the only way I’d ever really exercise was to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it, so I joined a gym.  I tried various aerobic classes, but they just didn’t work.  Then I focused my energy on the treadmill in the cardio cinema; not so much because I liked being on a treadmill, but I really enjoyed watching a movie while I worked out.  Over the next year, I slowly built up my endurance to being able to run for longer stretches of time without needing to walk, although I was very, very slow.

In 2006, I started running with a few friends, and we continued to work on how long we could run, not really worrying about our time.  We decided to sign up for a Fourth of July 5K together.  The race was miserably hot, even at 7:00 a.m., and my time was between 33-34 minutes.  Not bad for someone who—throughout her childhood and even into college—couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without wheezing.

I continued to run half-heartedly until I got pregnant with my second child in 2007.  I took a year off and didn’t run again until May of 2008.  That’s when it turned into something major.  I literally ran my butt off that summer trying to lose all my pregnancy weight before I had to go back to school in August.  I succeeded in that goal, and then a friend suggested I train for the Music City ½ Marathon in April 2009.  My small group of friends all signed up, and I joined them, unsure of what I was really getting myself into.

Training for a ½ marathon is a part-time job, but I endured.  I was amazed each week as my mileage increased.  Running three miles was standard, but then I hit the four-mile mark.  Then five miles.  Then I was running 10 miles at a stretch.  My asthma wasn’t bothering me anymore, either!

At the start line with my two friends, I got so emotional I actually started crying.  I was so overwhelmed thinking about where I had been just a few years earlier to what I was about to accomplish that day.  (Side note:  crying while running makes running really difficult.)  The three of us prayed together, and then we were off!  I developed some knee pain—which I never experienced before—and I had to walk the last three miles, but I did finish with a time of 2.51:14.  I had met my goals of simply finishing, on my feet, without puking or passing out.

2009 Country Music 1/2 and 1/1 Marathon start line  (30,000+ runners)

I'm in the last row on the left wearing a pink t-shirt.

2009 Country Music 1/2 and 1/1 Marathon start line  (30,000+ runners)

I'm still in the last row on the left wearing a pink t-shirt.

2009 Country Music 1/2 and 1/1 Marathon start line  (30,000+ runners)

I'm on the far bridge in the last row on the left wearing a pink t-shirt.

Matthew, Kelly, Phyllis, Echo

Finished! I'm in the front row second from left wearing a pink t-shirt and am surrounded by my running buddies: husband Matthew and dear friends Phyllis and Echo.

After that, I continued running regularly, doing an occasional 5K.  However, I started focusing on my time.  I had been running at an 11-minute mile, and I wanted to get that down.  Over the next year, I got my time down to a 9.5 minute mile, and I completed my second ½ marathon this April with a time of 2.27:55.  My goal next year is to finish under 2.11:00.

I am currently working toward a 9-minute mile for an extended run, and I’m competing in a relay race from Chattanooga to Nashville this November—the Ragnar Relay.  There are 10 members on our team, and we each run about three legs, running non-stop through the night.  I am super excited about this, but my training is about to change radically in October.  I’ll start running three times in a 24-hour period, building up my mileage each week.  The week before the race, I’ll be doing three five-mile runs:  one at about 9:00 p.m., one at 7:00 a.m., and another around 5:00 p.m.  I’m sure I’ll blog about that experience when it’s over.

The biggest blessing running has had on my life is that my asthma rarely bothers me.  As a young child, I was on 3-4 different medications that I had to take several times a day, and I still often wound up in the ER in the middle of the night on many occasions due to my asthma.  Even throughout college, I struggled with asthma and could not participate in activities that required a lot of physical exertion.  As a teen, I was also just plain lazy.  I once asked my parents if we could drive to our neighbor’s house for dinner.  Our back door and their front door were about 20 feet away from each other.  Today, I can run for a couple hours with nary a puff of my emergency inhaler, and I’m getting faster having shaved almost two minutes per mile off my pace in the last 18 months.  I like to joke that if I continue improving at that rate, I’ll be the fastest runner in the world in a few years.

Running has taught me that nothing is impossible.  For my first ½ marathon, I wore a t-shirt that had this saying on the back from Philippians 4:13.  “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Amen to that!

I’ve downplayed the role of my friends throughout this running adventure over the past four years.  I run mostly solo these days, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without their constant encouragement and prayers.  I also wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing support of my husband through all this training, considering the time it takes away from him and my children.

There’s a lot more to my story.  Someday soon, I’ll post about why, despite all the incredible ways I’ve been blessed through running, I still hate it.  Stay tuned. . .

Re-evaluating My New Year’s Resolutions

27 07 2010

Yesterday I was thinking about the New Year’s resolutions I made for 2010. 

  • Read through the Bible
  • Start a prayer journal with Caleb
  • Try one new recipe each month
  • Eat one non-potato vegetable each day
  • Turn off TV/no reading during dinner (most nights)
  • Run 1/2 marathon and a few other races
  • Increase giving 1/2%

My current status on these items:

  • Read through the Bible:  On track!  I began in Genesis 1:1 on January 1, and I’m currently on Jeremiah 32.  I did this in 2009 as well, and it was amazing!  I hope to continue this every year.
  • Start a prayer journal with Caleb:  Not so on track.  Looking back, our last entry was May 17, but the one before that was February 28.  The plan was to write our prayers down every night, and then pray through them on the way to school the next morning.  I’m not confident this will go anywhere this year, but it’s worth re-evaluating.
  • Try one new recipe each month:  On track!  Most dishes have been amazing and only one has been an epic failure.  It involved cooking chicken breasts in a crock pot with lemon slices on top of them for eight hours.  Eight hours is way too long to cook chicken with lemon.   
  • Eat one non-potato vegetable each day:  Mostly on track.  I still need more veggie variety in my diet.
  • Turn off TV/no reading during dinner (most nights):  Not so on track.  I really don’t care about the TV, but I do read a lot while eating.  I seriously need to break myself of this poor habit and refocus my energies on my family during that time.
  • Run 1/2 marathon and a few other races:  On track!  I’ve run a 10K, the Nashville Music City 1/2 marathon in April and am signed up to run a 12-member relay from Chattanooga to Nashville (189.1 miles) in November, and will probably run a 5K or two this fall.
  • Increase giving 1/2%:  On track!  Our goal this year is to give 15.5% from our gross income.  I actually think we may exceed our goal!  Financial discipline leads to financial freedom leads to an amazing place to live.
  • I would love to hear what your News Year’s resolutions or goals were and what your progress is.