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Badass Runner Profile: Sherri Morgan

11356249_10206908538739012_803843116_nName: Sherri Morgan

Home State: Minnesota

Websitehttp://Absolutefitness4life.blogspot.com

BAR: When  did you start running?  Why?

SM: I started running in 2012. I have always disliked running but starting doing interval training to lose weight. I took a health class spring semester of 2012 and had to do a family health history. I found heart disease running rampant in my family. I also have watched my Grandma, and now my Mom, spend the later part of their life sitting in a chair because of the choices they have made. I knew I didn’t want that for myself, I needed to make a change so I could have a good quality of life when I was their age.

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I kept getting faster and faster, being able to run longer and longer. I decided to sign up for a 5K to check it out. I ended up first in my division and have been hooked ever since!

BAR: Why do you run now? What motivates you?

SM: I run now because it really has become a part of who I am. I love the feeling of freedom. I love the feeling of accomplishment. I love pushing myself beyond where I ever thought I could be with running. Motivation comes from seeing what is actually possible, seeing if I can get a new PR and knowing how strong my body is because of running/training.

Longest race: Half Marathon

Hardest course: I don’t really have a hardest course. All my half marathons have had rolling hills, some higher than others. My trail races have had plenty of steep hills. Nothing stands out as the hardest. I did have one trail race that had a “hill” that had a name. It was long and it was steep and I am doing it again on June 13th!

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Hardest race for you: The hardest race for me was my 6th half marathon. I had read a lot on the ketogenic and how ultra-runners were switching to this nutrition plan. Many said it gave them almost endless amounts of energy because your body uses more fats then carbs for energy. The body needs time to adapt and while adapting your energy levels can really drop for 4-6 weeks until full adaption. I started it just 2 weeks before the half marathon and it was my slowest half ever! It didn’t help that the humidity was really high that day. There was a discomfort in my chest for 9 of the 13 miles and I had to walk too much. My finishing time was 2:43:16 when I had been hoping I would finally get my sub two hour half marathon. It was very disappointing.

Favorite race (location / dates in case people would like to try it): I’m going to tell you about my top three:

The Hot Chocolate Race that is run in multiple locations around the country is one I have done the last two years. I have run the 15K both times. They are really organized and they give out great gear. Last year they gave us a great ¼ zip hoodie and this year a full zip hoodie. Also, this year they started giving medals to the 15K finishers and it is pretty awesome! Last year the course was pretty hilly and this year they modified it slightly so it wasn’t as much.

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My second race is a multisport one. The Esprit de She Duathlon. (They also do 5Ks and triathlons) These are female only events and we are catered too! It was also very well organized and have great gear. I received an awesome cycling tank and they had Mimosa’s for us at the finish! It didn’t even matter that it started raining two minutes before the start, there were 28 mph winds (which had us riding at a slant against the crosswinds) and my ankles were raw and bleeding the whole last running leg!

Last year I did the Looney Challenge at the Twin Cities Marathon weekend. TC Marathon is a great event where people come from all over the world to compete in. The make a whole weekend out of it with a 10K, 5K and family events on Saturday and a 10 miler and marathon on Sunday. It’s the first weekend in October so the run showcases the beautiful fall colors here in Minnesota. The runs on Sunday start in downtown Minneapolis and finish in downtown St. Paul. A couple years ago they started the Looney Challenge where you run the 10K, followed by the 5K on Saturday and then either the 10 miler or the marathon on Sunday. I did the 10 miler. 2 days, 3 races, 4 medals! I am doing it again this year!

Favorite course: My favorite course is the one for the Lost Dutchman in Apache Junction AZ. So many races are run in the downtown areas but that is definitely not the case with the Lost Dutchman. It is run in the desert near Superstition Mountain. It made me wonder why they would have them in the city when they could give us scenery like this! My Mom lived in Apache Junction so I have been there many times and I have always loved Superstition! I did the 10K and we started in Prospector Park and ran an out & back. The half marathon does as well. You run towards Superstition for most of the out. It is a beautiful scenery! The marathon is a point-to-point and starts in Gold Canyon, 6 miles down a gravel road. They have pre-dawn campfires at the start of the marathon, and you get to see a beautiful desert sun rise as you are running! They also have some nice finishing touches at the finish with a little mining camp, old bearded prospector and live mule.

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BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

SM: My favorite distance is probably the 10 miler. It’s just a nice distance for me. I don’t know that I have a least favorite.

PR   5k / 10k / half 

 5K = 26:45

10K = 57:21

10 Miler = 01:36:04

Half = 02:06:29

BAR: You are always out running trails, or new places.  And in crazy cold weather.  What are some tips you could offer on finding cool new places to run, and on making sure you don’t die a frozen popsicle along the way?  What is it about the trails you enjoy?

SM: I am someone who likes variety and I love challenging myself! I want to explore new places, not only for the new scenery but also because you don’t know what you will find. Sometimes that can be a real challenge. I like to all types of races too. 5Ks to half marathons, obstacle and mud runs, doubles & triples in one weekend, chair climbs, mutli-sport and destination races.

Trail running poses a new challenge with rocks, roots, trees, hills, etc. You have to constantly be aware of that is ahead of you, jumping over things, dodging left and right, etc. I don’t even listen to music while trail running so I am fully aware of my surroundings. Running on pavement is more of a time where I can zone out and just get into my music.

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I am fortunate to live in a place that really values parks and trails. When I am out driving around I take notice of any trails I see that I didn’t know were there. I also use MapMyRun to look for new trails. I’m am also a member of the UMTR (Upper Midwest Trail Runners) and on their website they have a nice list of dirt/gravel trails. I enjoy both paved and dirt/gravel trails.

As far as the cold–layers! And I guess it depends on what “cold” means. I have run a race when it felt like -17 degrees. That was brutal. I’ve run them at 25 degrees which is ok but I prefer a little warmer. I have run plenty at 45 degrees and find these very enjoyable once we get moving. Waiting for the race is the worst part. You have to just keep moving to stay as warm as possible. You will see many people wearing garbage bags to keep in the body heat and hope the black bag draws in more heat if the sun is shining. But as far as the running, layers are important. If below 32 you definitely want to keep as much skin covered as possible. Wear things that are wind proof if you have them, smart wool socks, etc. I have lined shirts that have a built in face mask I can pull up to my eyes and then I can just drop it back down if I don’t need it. When it’s really cold your eyes water like crazy, some people wear goggles but I have not tried that yet. If it’s not a race and I’m running outside in the cold I try to find a trail that is lined with trees, it’s usually less windy. They wind is worse than the cold! I, myself, would much rather run in 45 degree temps then 85 degrees with the humidity we have here in MN.

BAR: You are always color-coordinating your running gear… this seems to be something you really enjoy.  Any particular brands of outfits, gear, accessories that you prefer?  Any fashion tips?

SM: Well, I really like to look put together! It is something I enjoy and I have received many comments at races about my outfits and especially my socks. I almost always wear my pigtails when I race too! I don’t do any particular brand but it’s a must to start with the shoes.

Obviously, during a race your most important accessories are your shoes. They need to be the right shoe for the distance you are doing, so that is where I always start. Once I know the color of the shoes I am wearing (I have 8 pair to choose from lol) I work my way up, either picking the socks next or the top. I really like to wear the knee high, fun, bright socks. I find socks at a variety of places and when I see knee highs with colors I don’t have I will pick them up, just in case. One thing you really want to make sure is that the knee highs are not cotton, unless you like blisters. Claire’s has come cute ones right now, look like they are lace up and do have a decorative tie at the top. I do have some calf compression sleeves as well that can take the place of the socks. Once the top and socks are picked out I pick out a head band if I am wearing one, which I do like to wear to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I do like Bondi Band head bands, that’s where I got most of mine.

Biggest tip I have is just to make sure what you wear not only looks fashionable and put together but is also comfortable and right for running. You may look good running but if it’s chaffing you anywhere you will have days of recovery waiting for it to heal! Not worth it no matter how cute you are. J

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BAR: Do you belong to any running groups, other than Team Badass?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about them?  What other runners, professionals, friends, etc. inspire you and why?

SM: I am a member of Upper Midwest Trail Runners but I just signed up so haven’t had a chance to get involved with them yet.

I am also a member of Twin Cities Running Club. They have group runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, you can attend any or all. Saturday is the long run, Tuesday is a leisurely run with a get-together afterword and Thursday’s are for speedwork and take place at a track. When I first signed up, last summer, I attended a Saturday long run. I had my headphones all ready to go and realized no one else had them. I put them away and we all started running together… and talking. I quickly realized that the reason I have always run alone is because I like it that way. I wanted to join a group to get to know other runners mostly. So I would have someone to do races with, etc. I did not enjoy running as a group, just the hanging out afterwards. I think this summer I may attend the speedwork nights though.

BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner, this year and beyond?

SM: Since January of 2014 I have had a goal to run at least 100 miles every month. May brings me to 17 months in a row. Maybe I can make 100 months of 100 miles or more, good long term goal. This year’s goals are to complete 4 half marathons, at last 30 races (including at least one each calendar month) and I want that elusive sub 2 hour half. I also want to do a destination half and am looking at Utah. There is one called Morgan Valley! A half marathon medal and bib with my name on it would be awesome. Jamila (one of our badass runners) really has be thinking about this 24 hour race. I think that may happen in 2016. I really want one epic race for 2016 and I think epic would be an understatement for the Nanny Goat 24 hour race.

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes?  Why?

SM: My favorite brands of shoes are Mizuno and Asics. I have always had good luck with them. I recently bought a pair of Adidas Supernova Glide Boost because I read that the soles do not freeze when running in the cold. Since I hate when my shoes get hard running those winter races I decided I should try them. I used them for my OZ Run half marathon on May 23rd and they felt great. If they truly stay soft in the cold they will be my new winter outdoor runners!

BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential?  Do you recommend one over another?  Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

SM: When running outside in the heat, some kind of hydration system is essential. I recently purchased a hydration belt by Fitletic and I really like it. I have used other things in the past because I didn’t think I would like something around my waist. I have tried hand held bottles, which I find a nuisance. I have tried a camelback, which I really like but only need something like that for really long runs because it holds A LOT. They hydration belt holds two 8 oz bottles and is good for runs up to about 10 miles. Even if I was going longer and there was a store along the way I could just bring some cash to get something to refill the bottles. I think it is important to try on a hydration belt and jump around to see if it bounces or is going to rub you the wrong way. They one I got is really soft and has nothing stiff on it to chaff.

I always run with my RoadID as well. The year I started running I spent 3 months in SoCal, by myself and was thinking if I got injured somehow, and unable to speak for myself, no one would know who I was. I ran a race with the RoadID coupon on the bottom of the bib and checked them out. I have been wearing one ever since.

One dilemma I always had while running is what to do with my phone. Women’s running gear rarely has a useful pocket. There are options but I don’t find them all that convenient. I found a great product that solves this problem. It’s a pocket called Underfuse and simply irons on your running shorts, pants or capri’s and can hold your phone, ID, cash, etc. I have bought 4 so far and will be ordering more, I want them on all my running bottoms!

I like to run with the least amount of stuff as possible. I do not like anything in my hand even if it’s “attached” to my hand like some of the water bottle holders. I do like to wear the little wrist pockets if I need to carry my key or the pockets for your phone that slide up to your upper arm too, but when you are running in heat and humidity those things just make the run that much harder.

BAR: What apps / GPS equipment do you use.  Are there others you’d like to try?

SM: I recently bought the new Garmin Vivoactive GPS watch. I really like it. The only thing I didn’t know and wish it had was a setting for multi-sport. I have the Garmin Forerunner 305 that I can and do use for my duathlons but it would be nice to be able to use the Vivoactive. Hopefully someone is working on an app for that.

I was using MapMyRun app on my phone but it stopped working properly in my neighborhood. It told me I was running zero miles per hour when I was clearly running.

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

SM: I would say to just go your own pace. You do not need to keep up with or compare yourself to anyone else. One big thing that I had to learn was to pace myself. I would always start out a run to fast and then have to walk too soon. Once I learned to pace myself to my own abilities I could go farther.

I was running a race with a friend (it was his first) and we decided we were each going to run our own race. After the first two minutes I realized he was right behind me. I asked him if he wanted to slow down (I would too) so he could run farther. He said, “what’s wrong with this pace?” As I shrugged my shoulders, I said “ok.” At about ¾ of a mile he stopped and said, “my hearts on fire!!” I wanted to show him, rather than tell him, people learn better that way. I ran/walked most to the rest of the race with him and taught him how to run it most effectively. The next time he ran he paced himself and was so happy and proud he was able to run 2 miles straight.

Also, just keep it fun and enjoyable! Set your own goals and don’t let others talk you out of what you know you want to do. Last year I signed up for a full marathon and began training. I was really only doing it because other runners would say things like, “you have to, it’s the only thing you haven’t done.” (Which obviously wasn’t true because there are 25K, 50K+ trail runs, 12 hour, 24 hour, 100 mile runs.) I had no desire to run 26.2 miles straight. I just wanted to get it out of the way. By week 4 I started to feel like running was a chore and I could not think of anything else until I got my training run in for the day. I started to dislike running and the pressure it was putting me under. In week 6 I decided that if I completed a full marathon, but I lost my love for running in the process it would be a great tragedy! I email the race people and had them change my registration to a half marathon. I felt a weight lifted and I immediately started loving running again. I would much rather concentrate my efforts on getting faster at races up to half marathons and get better at trail running then conquer the full marathon. Do what’s right for you and let other runners do what’s right for them.

This is your journey and your race. Cheer others on and hopefully there are others around to cheer for you. And always, no matter what, keep smiling!

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