Blyss Champion ~ Meet Heidi


I met Heidi in 2017 at the Queen Bee in Cincinnati. She was getting ready to run her first half marathon and bought the Blyss Skirt in Night Sky at the expo to wear for her race.  Since that time she's run many more races in her many Blyss Running pieces. I'm so grateful to have gotten to know her!
Meet our Blyss Champion for August, Heidi...
{ at this year's Flying Pig in her Blyss II Skirt }
When and why did you start running? What’s your story?
I had never been into sports (usually one of the last one picked for teams in school), working out or anything until I started running in summer of 2011.  My Uncle Dan had been diagnosed with brain cancer at that time and wasn’t expected to live much longer (he passed in November 2011).  I had seen on Facebook an advertisement for the Born to Run 5K benefitting the Marilyn Tudor Project, which was raising money for care and support for people with brain cancer and their families.  Coincidentally, my friend Angie had lost her mother (whose name also happened to be Marilyn Tudor) to breast cancer years before and so we thought it was a race that we needed to run together.  So even though that was my first “run”, with pavement temperature at 100 degrees and spending more time buying the perfect running shorts to match my tech shirt, it was much more walking than running.  I’m not sure we even hit jogging.
{ Heidi's first race }
Since then I have had 2 surgeries, one hospitalization, one battle with walking pneumonia, one career change and four grandbabies, but no matter how many times I’ve gotten off track, I’ve picked myself up and started again.
Favorite distance? And /or favorite race you have run?
It would be impossible to pick out my favorite race, but I can at least narrow it down to a couple.  My most memorable race was the 2017 Queen Bee Half Marathon in Cincinnati, OH.  At the age of 47, having never run more than a 5K except for one 10-mile run two weeks beforehand, and having no one to run with, I finished my first half in 3:19:53.  I can recite this number quicker than I can recall my home phone number and maybe quicker than my credit card number, although that might be a tie.  Blame it on Blyss, Kohl’s, and Amazon :)
{ at the 2017 Queen Bee in her Blyss Skirt }
I also try to run the DAV 5K for disabled veterans every year.  Last year I ran it with my bear made from my Uncle Dan’s army shirt he wore in Vietnam.  It also has patches on it from my grandpa’s WW2 uniform, my Uncle Jim’s patches from Vietnam, and my son’s patches from his four years in the Marine Corps.  The bear was a hit.  Random note – it was very cold that day, and a pair of Blyss fleece running pants would have been very nice to have.  (Echoing the sentiment of a previous athlete of the month).  :)
If you could go on a run anywhere, where would it be? Your ideal run?
I haven’t been trail running yet, so I would like to do that.  I ran the beach for this first time this year and loved it.   So amazing to see the sun right at that exact moment it breaks the horizon and lights up the sky.   Anywhere outdoors is where I like to run.  I loathe the “dread”mill with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns, but in the wintertime in Ohio, sometimes that’s all I’ve got.  It gets awkward when I’m at the gym jamming to tunes on the dreadmill and start singing out loud and don’t realize it.  Usually after a few seconds someone is giving me stink eye and I stop singing. I can’t carry a tune, even in a bucket with someone else carrying the bucket.
Favorite pre or post run food?
My favorite pre or post run food, hmmmmmmm, I’ll have to think about that.  I don’t know if it’s considered a “food”, but after a long run, I generally go for a cold beer.  I figure I’ve already burned the calories for it, so why not. I’ve read that’s actually a great post-run beverage, but even if it wasn’t, I’d still go for one.  Pre run I usually eat a banana dog – banana and peanut butter on a hot dog bun.  I can grab it quick and get on my way.
 Do you cross train?
I didn’t cross-train for the Queen Bee, but I did for the Flying Pig half – wow, what a difference.  Before the Bee I thought  if I’m training for a running race, I should run.  After all, if I’m wanting to learn how to cook, I don’t sign up for a sewing class.  But I definitely see the importance of cross-training now.  For the Pig I did Nautilus, TRX and yoga, as well as a six-week yoga for runners class.  It must have worked because I finished the Pig 17 minutes quicker than the Bee with almost no recovery time or issues and it was a much harder race. 
Do you use a GPS or track your mileage and if so, which one?
I track my workouts and food on my FitBit and My Fitness Pal.  I also have a shoe tracker that I log miles into so I know when it’s getting close in time to need new shoes.  I have arthritis in my toes and have battled plantar fasciitis occasionally, so I am very picky as far as how long I wear my shoes. (I also track my contacts so I don’t wear them beyond the 30 days.)  There is an app for everything.
What have I learned/gained from running? 
Wow, that’s definitely a toughie.  I have learned how to stop comparing myself to others.  13.1 miles is 13.1 miles regardless of how fast you run it.  I’ve learned I’m a heck of a lot stronger than I thought I was.  People seem to be really impressed by runners.  Whenever I have my Queen Bee or Flying Pig finisher shirt on, people always stop me and say how impressed they are, but not once has a stranger commented on my shirt and asked me where I placed.  And the people who stand along the race route handing out water and cheering you on are amazing – they have kept me going more than once when I didn’t think I could do it.  Runner’s “high” is a real thing.  Not too long ago my husband found my last nerve and was getting on it, so I put on my running shoes and said, I’m going to go run until I’m done being mad at you.  He asked how long it would take.  I said hopefully 30 minutes, but could be up to an hour, maybe a half day.  Lucky for him (and me) it only took about 40 minutes.   And runners are so amazing and, frankly, a touch crazy, but that’s what makes them the best friends to have. 
Your next running goal?  
I’ve put running a full marathon by the time I’m 50 on my bucket list.  I’ve got a little less than two years now to get it done.  I’m tossing around the idea of the Cleveland marathon or Columbus – they’re much faster and flatter than the Flying Pig.  There’s also one in Charleston, South Carolina that sounds like fun, too.  My dream marathon (if I can find a way) is to run the Marine Corps marathon – running by the monuments, the Potomac River and Arlington Cemetery just sounds beautiful.   I’d also like to do a triathlon, but I haven’t figured out how you change from one event to the other.  Will Blyss be making a triathlon outfit?  Asking for a friend. :) 
God bless and hope to see you on the road!
May your wind be always rhythmic.
May your heart be always strong.
May your road be always beautiful.
May it never seem too long.
May your legs be always faithful.
May your feet be never sore.
May your mind be always peaceful.
May you run for evermore.
                                                    ~ Daniel Mark Extrom
Find Your Blyss,
Alyson

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