How’s the training going? (Or, checking in with Team Red Cross)

On June 20, Team Red Cross will take to the pavement during Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. We asked two team members, Susan Waananen, a disaster response volunteer, and Eric Adams, a disaster program specialist, to check-in with each other about training and tips for the event. See below their insights!  

Red Cross volunteer Susan Waananen
Red Cross volunteer Susan Waananen

Eric: How’s the training going?

Susan: Nothing hurts…that’s about all I require of my training these days! I ran a half marathon last month and it was pretty slow, but I’m not worried about finishing.

E: Any post run rituals or diet to help from hurting the next morning after a run?

S: Well, I often shower afterwards, haha. If it’s been a longer run, I’ll force myself to run cold water on my legs for the first couple of minutes. As for food, I love Lara bars right after a run. I also find it helpful to drink a cup of coffee an hour before a long run and I usually crave a burger that night. Or whenever I wake up from my nap..:) How about you? Do you eat pasta the night before a race?

E: I do eat spaghetti before a marathon or a longer run. I still subscribe to the ritual. Post-race, I try to have a banana or two. I need to force myself to have more protein post-race as well. I think that’s why I’ve been sore longer than I’d like after a marathon. The coffee does really help. I’ve found myself up at 2 a.m. on days when I drink coffee but forget that I need to run. Do you use energy gels or anything during the race? I was just talking with a volunteer who’s done post-race massages in the past and she was commenting on how amazing and disturbing it was that people had so much salt on their skin after the race from the dried sweat!

S: I use gels if I’m running for more than 90 minutes. My favorite GU flavors are the Espresso Love and Salted Caramel. Speaking of salt, I am usually coated after a longer race. I always go for the potato chips and Pearson’s salted nut rolls when they’re offered at the food tent. How about you? I’ve also had good luck with Sport Beans if my stomach can’t handle a GU, especially after Mile 20. Have you tried those? Or the gel blocks? I find those a little too big. I’m running 12 miles tomorrow. Do you have a long run scheduled? I know 13 is easy for you! June seemed so far in the future, but now it’s almost time to start the taper.

Red Cross disaster relief worker Eric Adams
Red Cross disaster relief worker Eric Adams

E: Salted caramel is my favorite as well, but there’s another one that just came out that they’re describing like Nutella and it’s pretty good. It’s pretty weird to be able to run your hand over your forehead and see the salt on your hand. Would that qualify as organic or all natural salt? Brand it as “Runner’s Best.” I recently had someone recommend the gel blocks to me. They said the margarita was the their favorite. If I’m going to have a buzz from dehydration, I might as well have the associated taste. I haven’t been able to run my usual 12 miles for 2 weeks due to a busy schedule, but I’ve been doing a little trail running by my house, biking, kayaking, and last week I was climbing up and down a roof like a monkey, so I’m claiming those as cross training. Time just seems to be running out fast.

S: Your cross-training sounds a lot more exciting…and risky…than mine! Does gardening count? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I can’t run every day anymore or I risk injury. I’ve also learned the hard way that you can also get hurt doing yoga if you approach it too competitively! Do you listen to music while you run? My new favorite run song is Around the Bend by Asteroids Galaxy. I’ve also made it through a number of books during long runs. I find the music more helpful for faster workouts or races. How many marathons will this be for you? Do you have a goal in mind?

E: Competitive yoga…I honestly don’t know what to think about that. I listen to a few different Pandora stations depending on my mood…Rolling Stones, Audioslave, Puscifer, Jimi Hendrix, and a few others. I’ve tried listening to MPR while running, but it just becomes too distracting because I actually want to think instead of zoning out. High pace without lyrics is typically the best for me. This will be my fourth marathon, my third Grandma’s. I think I will be aiming for my four hour mark. But depending on the weather, my first goal is always to finish. How about you? How many marathons and any specific goals?

S: I’ve run four full marathons; Grandma’s was my most recent in 2011. I’ve run lots of halfs, but just once before at Grandma’s and it was my very first one. Finishing is always the primary goal. I’d like to finish under two hours if possible. I’ve had a foot injury for the last couple of years and so honestly, I am just thankful to be running without any pain this summer. Did you see that your friends and family can register to track your progress? I think that could be motivating too! The countdown is on! Have you started checking the weather forecast? Looks good so far!

E: As long as it’s not hot, I’ll be happy. The last two years it’s been damp and overcasts which has kept the temp down. I went for my run yesterday and discovered that my “cross training” wasn’t keeping me in as good of shape as I had hoped. I was able to run until the 10.5 mile mark before my knees started to quiver, so I’m going to have to use these last two weeks well. Doesn’t help that I don’t have any water breaks along my route. Under two hours would still put you in the record book for this race. I know about the tracking site. In the past, I posted it on my Facebook page before the race and have had family and friends follow me, sending comments and texts as I reach different milestones along the race. It really does help. The last two races I’ve also worn my Captain America Under Armour, which has added to the cheer factor from the people watching the race. Any traditions or superstitions before the race? You’re running the full marathon, right?

S: I’m running the full half-marathon…:) It’s that 0.1 at the end that is the hardest…unless you’re Captain America and you can just fly over the finish line! I don’t have lucky socks or special safety pins, but I’ve worn the same hat for every race so I’d be sad if that disappeared. I try to get plenty of sleep the week leading up to a long race because I am usually too excited to sleep well the night before. Plus a 6:15 a.m. start is pretty early! I always make sure my shoes are double-knotted and I wear a watch that tells me my average pace so I don’t go out too fast…or finish too slow!  One of my favorite things before the race is walking around the expo after picking up my bib, looking at all the fun stuff and listening to the guest speakers. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of Team Red Cross that afternoon, too!

We’re wishing the entire Team Red Cross a great event during Grandma’s Marathon. Most team members are raising funds to support Red Cross programs and services. Join Team Red Cross here. Check out Susan’s fundraising page here. Check out Eric’s fundraising page here

Author: American Red Cross

The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The Minnesota Region serves 5.2 million people across Minnesota and part of western Wisconsin.

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