Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Playing Dress-Up

The following NH Runner column appeared in the New Hampshire Sunday News on Feb. 12, 2012. Photo above courtesy of Jim Stankiewicz.

My usual pre-race shopping list is expanding a bit. No longer will it only consist of the right kind of running shoes, wicking shirts and socks, comfy shorts and stay-put headbands.

Yes, I’m not afraid to admit that last week I bought an item for my next race at a most unusual place: a craft store.

It was what I consider an impulse buy. But I could not resist its sparkles and vibrant color shouting at me from the check-out aisle. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so I won’t go into much more detail, but I will say that I intend to run my first dress-up race next month when I participate in the Shamrock Shuffle before the St. Patrick’s Parade in Manchester on March 25.

I’ve never been one to run in costume. Even when I went to Disney to run my first half-marathon, I was one of the traditional runners alongside the princesses, Mickey Mouses and all of the other (often elaborate) costumes running through the happiest place on earth.

But playing dress-up appeals to many runners, apparently. At last year’s Boston Marathon, I was passed by a hamburger at Mile 21. (I have convinced myself that the guy wearing the hamburger costume did not run the entire 21 miles before he passed me.)

Let’s face it, most of us aren’t going to win the race. So we might as well have fun with it. In a very informal poll, local runners shares some of their favorite dress-up races:

CHaD Hero Half Marathon
Thousands or runners and supporters of the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth take over Lebanon’s downtown in an all out hero inspired marathon benefitting the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. In fact, the race holds the Guinness World Record for having the most super heroes on one place. This year’s event is taking place on Oct. 21, a welcome change to the August date they had the past couple of years. For more information or to sign your team up, visit

Scheduled near Halloween, dressing up for this race just makes sense. Matt Bryant and his friends (eight of them, I assume) dressed up as Santa and his reindeer for the 3.1 mile run. Christine Telge of Manchester ran this race dressed in full camouflage and boots – and upped the ante by pushing a double-stroller draped with a camo tarp carrying two little army men (her sons). Timm Hartmann of Manchester and his wife dressed up as Batman and Bat Girl, complete with all black-Vibram TrekSports on his feet. I couldn’t find any updated information for 2012 on this race, but it sure stuck in the minds of many of my running friends so hopefully the race organizers are taking notes. Proceeds from the race benefit technology at Ross A. Lurgio Middle School in Bedford. More information at

As if running 200 or so miles as a relay team isn’t challenging enough, some runners decide to take it one step further. Case in point: the Runn’n Commando team. Hooksett’s Muriel Saliba tells me that team members – yes, the guys, too – run in camouflage running skirts and other accessories.

I have a college friend who runs her annual Turkey Trot in a full (and very bulky!) cartoon turkey costume. As if that’s not enough, her brother, dressed as a Pilgrim, chases her along the race route with a fake hatchet. And, who can forget the one thousand runners in full Santa Claus costumes – beards, included – running down Elm Street in December?

It seems like this costume fad isn’t going away, so I might as well join in the fun. Please don’t set the bar too high for my Shamrock Shuffle outfit. Perhaps by the time the CHaD Hero Half Marathon comes around, I’ll be ready for a full Wonder Woman costume. Maybe.

Teresa Robinson is Community Relations Manager for the New Hampshire Union Leader. Her column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Her email address is trobinson@unionleader.com.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

One Month Down, 11 To Go

There's an online trend going around this year (it might have been around longer, I dunno) encouraging people to check in on their resolutions every Monday to help keep them accountable. Personally, every Monday is a bit too frequent for me (plus, who has time for that?), but I do like the idea of consistently checking in on the goals we set for ourselves.

So I've decided that at the end of each month - or close to it - I'd check in to see how I'm doing.

Last month, I set a variety of goals for 2012. I called for a "do-over" after falling short of my 2011 goal to run/ride 3,000 miles (1,000 miles of running and 2,000 miles of cycling).

My January stats ended up being coincidentally event, tallying in at 66 miles on the bike (trainer) and 65.92 miles of running. Certainly not an all-time high for either categories, but given that I'm coming off a few slump months, a good (and smart) start.

More than the numbers, I like that I've reincorporated running and riding into my regular routine. It helps that Jeff also set a lofty goal of riding the Vermont 100/200 in June, so there's been an overall focus on training and building fitness in our house. Not a bad thing, at all.

In a later post, I talked about all of the other things I want to focus on this year - from volunteering to finances to a healthy lifestyle. I also wanted to value relationships in my life and continue to work toward a healthy life/work balance.

One month in to 2012, I think I'm on the right track.

On the finance end, I've been keeping a closer eye on my budget (or rather, how I spend my money) and made an extra month's payment on my credit card (so what if it was just a screw up with my automated payments set by my credit card company - I still declined the refund and told them to apply it to the balance). I also upped my monthly automated payment by $100 and put an extra $10 per week into an auto savings account I've had going for a couple of years now. It's not much, but it's the little steps that will add up.

Aside from my mileage goals, which will obviously help my healthy living goal, I've just passed the five-month mark of vegetarianism (technically, pescetarianism - since I eat fish). I haven't missed anything, and the more I read and learn about the benefits of cutting out meat, the better I feel about it. It's nice to know that the transition hasn't been at all difficult and has really just become a way of life for us.

I've also added some variety into my fitness routine, getting back to a couple of sessions of strength training (so far) and experimenting with yoga for runners.

Another thing I wanted for 2012 was to give back and volunteer. I'm excited about the possibility of working with Girls On The Run as a volunteer coach. I sought out recommendations for volunteer opportunities and was blown away by all of the suggestions - very worthwhile, fun, appropriate-for-me suggestions, I might add.

After a bit of research and talking to people involved in Girls On The Run organization, I think it's a good fit for me. I love the idea of teaching young girls the tools to be confident, healthy and smart in their decisions. I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say about my Girls On The Run experience as it gets going. I'll get a "team" of 15 girls in grades 3-5. (Yikes?!) By mid-June, they'll run a 5K after a 10-week program where they learn about making good decisions, building self-esteem, knowing healthy relationships and lifestyle. Very exciting stuff!

My other goals for 2012 are a little more gray than black and white - things like relationships and balance. I'll try to think of more concrete steps to "success" (however that is defined) to share along the way, but I feel very solid in those areas, too.

Yes, friends, this year is off to a good start. And I'm looking forward to everything 2012 has in store for me.