Posted: April 21, 2014 - 4:05pm

Drills for those muscles you just never use.

So the debate rages on, (well that could be a bit of an exaggeration)… using the word “rages” might be a bit much. But let’s discuss cross training for runners. My old wrestling coach used to tell me, if you want to be at good at wrestling, then just wrestle. So I believed him, and it worked. And the same could apply to every sport, including running. But from what I have seen in the 23 plus years I have been doing this, is that the really successful athletes/runners tend to mix it up a bit. That doesn’t mean that they swim, bike, and run like I do now, because of a personal goal I have set for myself. Believe me, in my old age, hopping out of bed and just throwing my shorts on and going out for a 10 mile run just isn’t a reality anymore. A variety of swimming, and biking, have helped my running immensely. But for the hardcore runner, who has goals and PR’s in mind, some kind of cross training would and could be beneficial in the long run, (ha! nice pun). It’s as simple as including drills in your everyday running workouts. Running is so repetitive that it focuses on some muscles and ignores others. As runners, we can quickly become unbalanced if we ignore the total body and its need to be pliable and coordinated. So pushups, pull ups, some light weightlifting, and most important- drills, before you run as a warm-up and a way to make your total body respond in a way it may not be used to. You can look them up or come to our bootcamp classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings to learn all the best drills. Side steps, cross over’s, butt kicks, high knees, skips, and backwards running with some strides, will help strengthen and re-coordinate your body. Ever wonder why sometimes you get these aggravating injuries that seem to linger and never go away, or come screaming at you, until you say 'no more' and take some time off? One of those answers may be body strengthening and coordination. So get your running groups and running buddies together, and do a very light 10 minute jog to a parking lot or road that cars very rarely use, take 20 minutes and do those drills, wake the entire body up before you run, and before you know it, your running muscles are thanking you for allowing muscles you just never use to play along. All the great runners and athletes start with drills before the start of their workouts or competition, and you’re just as great, so make it happen.

Robert Espinoza
"Keep Your Chin Up for Strength, and Down For Prayer"
Fleet Feet Sports Savannah

Posted: April 7, 2014 - 1:53pm

Thoughts from a Heart

It’s Komen week and I was wondering what I was going to write about. There is so much to think about, the good and the bad, and then I walked into Ledesma Sports Medicine last week and it very simply came clear to me. I visit the clinic every once in a while to see my training partner, and I happened to ask about where Joel Bond, a physical therapist intern there at LSM was. His wife Ann who also works there told me that he was out of town because his sister-in-law passed away. Then, of course as nosy as I am I said, “I’m sorry, what happened”? “Breast Cancer” was her response. Yup, I remember the feeling, the numbness, the thought that a family had to go through that. “How old was she?”, I asked. One more pit in the stomach, “She was 39”, and she had a child, and a husband. Her name is Elisa Bond, and don’t know anything else about her but those few facts. I don’t need to know any more, I know the feeling that family is feeling. Elisa Bond and countless other women and some men are, and were, tested every day, and every moment of their lives. In my mind, I try not to look at it as a loss, but as a win. It just makes me feel better, in the reality that the fight continues. Doctors, nurses, and family members fought to keep her alive, so maybe, just maybe they made some small gain or discovery on how we defeat this dreadful disease. So I won’t dedicate to this Toro talk to anyone, thanks to Elisa Bond for giving me another reason to write and to fight. And to all of our friends and loved ones who are fighting and have given for the fight, I Miss You Mom.
I lost my mom in 2004 to Breast Cancer, its 2014. The response to this letter was so overwhelming I wanted to put it out one more time. I’m not going to change any dates on the original letter. I’m hoping the battle is won soon, and there is no more Race for the Cure, and I don’t have to send this out in 2024.

“Everything is going to be OK.” This is what my mom used to tell me all the time, no matter what I did, what I was thinking, or what I was feeling. Right or wrong, good or bad; she never ever got mad at me, she would just hug me, put her hand on my head when I was a little boy, or put her hand on my shoulder as man and say, “everything is going to be ok”. The grace and beauty she showed was one of the most amazing things I experienced in my lifetime. She was inspiring even through her own hardships in life and I hope I at least just got a little of that from her, because I have never met anyone like her.

Olga Espinoza was a beautiful woman with a singing voice that matched her beauty. She was graceful, kind, loving, could cook like no other, and she traveled the world with my dad, a Marine Corps officer. I am not sure I have ever met anyone who didn’t just fall for her kindness and capacity of understanding of cultures, people, and the everyday problems that the world presents to us all. She had to drop out of school in 11th grade to get a job because of a family emergency. As the oldest child she understood her role when the family needed her. It was interesting to hear people talk about her, because if you didn’t know she dropped out of school, you would think she had a PHD. She read all the time, and was for the most part self-educated and loved to learn and understand all she could about life.

Olga Espinoza was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 1994. I remember getting the news and driving from Dallas to Austin, Texas and seeing the look on her face and my father’s face when I got there. We talked for hours about what was going to happen. I remember her hugging me and saying, “everything is going to be ok," in mom fashion of course. She was way more calm then I was. As she fought cancer with all she had, I can remember how calm she was, and how much grace she had throughout. I am sure behind closed doors she had her moments, but she never showed me or our family. During her fight and treatments she was as graceful as any person I had ever seen. I can still see her walking by herself out in the garden that she had on the 5 acres she and my father had in Floresville, Texas. She used to say,” I love to go out there alone and just think”. I joined her a few times on those walks for some incredible talks but I knew she usually liked to be alone at that time.

I went with her a few times to some of her treatments and again I was amazed at how much impact she had on other people. She would comfort all the women around her, young and old. I would sit and watch her talk in Spanish to the Latin women, hold the hands of older women, and she would also console the young women. I remember being at one treatment and my mom was talking to a 27 year old woman being treated. I remember seeing a little boy curled up in this women’s lap, and I just thought to myself, “man I wish I could get into my mom’s lap right then, there is nothing better than when a mom holds you”. And what did I hear her say a lot to these women? “Everything is going to be OK,” a simple statement, but she made it mean something.

On November 24th 2004 Olga Espinoza lost her fight with breast cancer very early in the morning after repeatedly telling me, “everything is going to be ok” and “life goes on”. After saying goodbye to her that morning, I stepped outside and saw some kids playing, someone out for a run, a girl on horseback, and heard the birds singing. My mom was right, AGAIN!
I do recall talking to my mom during her fight and I remember telling her, “I hope somehow I die before you do, because I don’t think I can take the pain of losing you”. She told me of course how ridiculous this was and that is not the way life should go. I’m not sure if she made this up at that moment or read this somewhere but she looked at me and said “Mijo listen to me, the joy of knowing should far outweigh the feeling of longing”. I knew what she meant and I knew that she was right, AGAIN! But I was right also, it has been the most painful thing I have ever experienced and I am sure I will never hurt like that again. I never knew you could miss someone so much; am I a momma’s boy? Yes, but it goes much deeper than that. I didn’t just lose my mom; my sister lost a mom and friend, my dad lost a wife, my aunt and uncles lost a sister, a bunch of people lost a friend and role model, and the world lost one of the most incredible hearts ever. Does it get any easier? Not for me it doesn’t. Does time heal? No, it doesn’t for me. Is she in a better place? Of course she is, but I would prefer to have her here with me. I think of her every day, I may do something that I am proud of and I still after all these years reach for my phone and I am quickly reminded by my heart that she is not here. During my solo runs I often think about her and what I miss most about her, and there are also times I feel the need to talk to her about something that is on my mind that only she could understand because I was her son. (FYI, tears are more salty when you run).

Since being involved with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure both here and in Austin, Texas, I have seen some incredible people and talked to many of them, including survivors, patients, those that are there to remember, honor, help, assist, or just be a part so they can know they helped in some small way. There is no easy way for me to get through this event. There are so many people involved, and all they do to make the race happen floors me sometimes and makes me so proud to play a small part. I know my mom Olga Espinoza would be proud and I wish I could have her there or at least tell her about it.

So this Saturday April 17th, the 2nd Annual Susan G. Komen Savannah Race for the Cure will take place rain or shine. I will be honored as always to help put it together; I will step up on the stage at the starting line that morning and look out upon all of the thousands of people there, look up, point to the sky and say, you're right AGAIN MOM! "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK.”

Thoughts from a Heart

Robert Espinoza
"Keep Your Chin Up for Strength, and Down For Prayer"
Fleet Feet Sports Savannah

Posted: March 31, 2014 - 10:38am

Dull or Boring? 

I have to apologize to all of you for last week’s Toro Talk written by none other than our very own Chris Ramsey. I asked Chris to write up an article on running etiquette knowing of course it wouldn’t get published no matter how many English degrees he has. The discrepancy and confusion in this article had nothing to do with the running etiquette information Chris put out there, I taught him everything he knows. The problem was his depiction of me; I am in fact not DULL. C’mon, how could I be dull? I built this store from nothing, and have come up with so many crazy ideas pertaining to running. We have since affected our town from a running standpoint. Some of the ideas I have come up with have worked out and in some cases, they have reaped more than I wanted them to. Even if they were really bad ideas and didn’t work, they still were the right thing to do. C’mon… dull!!!! Now boring, yes - I am boring: I don’t drink, I don’t like to go out, I eat the same things all the time, I watch the same movies all the time, I don’t own a tie, I don’t like to get dressed up (unless I am performing a wedding ceremony), I don’t hunt, I don’t fish, and will own my truck until the wheels come off. So Mr. Ramsey, I have to correct the records because of your mistake, I am NOT DULL, not one bit. I am boring, a whole lot, and I love every moment of it. So the record stands corrected. And as far as Chris needing to look for another job, I have decided to keep him around. Why? Well what else is he going to do? And as far as his qualifications go of being proficient in Microsoft Word, well 5th graders are now proficient in Microsoft Word, so that’s no big feat. And who doesn’t like to run? No big deal either, his qualifications are limited. Besides, who would get my Zalads, and bring me Wheat Thins? I have to keep him around.

The RED SHOES RUN and TEDDY BEAR WALK EVERYBODY!!!!! The Ronald Mcdonald House of the Coastal Empire will host it this Saturday. The kid’s race kicks off at 8:30am, and the 5K race starts at 8:45am. I have toured the RMHC a couple of times, and although it looks like a small hotel with rooms and a kitchen and play area, you can’t help but walk in and know in your heart what kind of work is going on in that house: love, caring and compassion for the families of sick children. Please join us this Saturday for the Red Shoes Run and Teddy Bear Walk. Enjoy live music by Ricky Standard, a cookout provided by Sam’s Club Pooler, games, activities and more. And let me just say if you can’t make it, because your training doesn’t call for it, or if you have other plans, please do this: put some money in your running shorts and while you are out running on Saturday, stop by the RMHC and give them a few dollars. Sweaty or not, they will take it, or stop by the RMHC on Friday for packet pickup and make a donation. Thanks everyone see you Saturday.

Robert Espinoza
"Keep Your Chin Up for Strength, and Down For Prayer"
Fleet Feet Sports Savannah

Posted: March 28, 2014 - 11:42am

The Creeps
C.R.E.W. + Peeps = Creeps

By Judy Naylor-Johnson

The Creeps are a group of 7 C.R.E.W. members.  We got our name when David Buchanan, husband of Creep member Robin Buchanan, got “C.R.E.W.” and “peeps” jumbled up and called his wife’s running buddies “Creeps.”  The name was funny and it stuck.  The group of 7 runners of varying ages, professions and running experience, have known each other in varying degrees for different time spans (2 members are even related distantly by marriage.)  Our greatest common denominator is that we are all of a similar running pace.  The group formed while training for the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon- because nothing offers an opportunity to bond like a 22 week marathon training program during the hottest most humid weather Savannah has to offer.  Training for a marathon means a lot of hours on the pavement and there were weeks we probably spent more quality time with our running Creeps than our families or friends.

Fortunately, we found ourselves in great company and what blossomed out of that experience is rather unique.  With 7 running buddies it means there is almost always someone available for a run or a work-out when the schedule gets hectic or we are trying to squeeze in a long run on a different day than usual.  Beyond logistics and pace, we all share a lot of laughs.  We offer each other motivation, encouragement, inspiration and accountability.  Our primary vehicle of communication is an ongoing stream of group text messaging.  In continual contact we have declared ourselves more extreme than any teenagers at texting.  Sometimes we are working out the logistics of a run.  Sometimes we are offering encouragement to one another or offering congratulations on an accomplishment. Sometimes it is flat-out joking around.

Our group formed during marathon training but it became more deeply solidified during a trip to Pensacola Beach, FL for the Pensacola Beach Run, a half-marathon, in January.  Not just any half-marathon. An epic half-marathon. We had no idea how epic it would become until we were already running it.  First off, if this race were in the Savannah area certainly it would have been cancelled.  The weather forecast looked dismal (rain, wind, temps in the low 60’s), but we had traveled all that distance and we wanted to run and earn our race medals.  Wrapped in trash bags or wearing rain jackets we took off at the start of the race into the rain. Not more than a mile into it, there was a big clap of thunder and a flash of lightning.  The other runners seemed unfazed so we kept running as well, thinking the weather would improve. It did, and then the sky opened up again with heavy rain.  This recurred multiple times.  A half-marathon is a long race with a lot of opportunity for the seashore weather to change.  When we reached the turn-around at the halfway point the wind that had been at our backs was now blowing hard into our faces.  It is documented that there were wind gusts up to 39 mph that morning (Gail force.)  We kept running as best we could, separated, each running our own race at our own pace.  Then the driving stinging rain began.  It felt like sleet or hail stinging our skin.  The only thing left to do was to try and keep running to make it back to the start, but the start was miles away.  Since we had traveled to this race we didn’t know the locals.  There were NO spectators. Only one lone woman on her balcony cheered for the runners.  We didn’t know the people putting on the race.  Surely they would come and get the runners? We had no idea, so there was nothing to do but keep running.  Thankfully we all finished that epic race safely. Two Creeps even set new personal records!  Drenched to the bone and nearly hypothermic, our race bibs were tattered and looked sandblasted.  We made it to the post-race party for pizza and we now have one heck of a shared experience.

It takes a village to raise a child or to get through a 22 week marathon training program.  As training progressed, and as we continue to train together, we each fill a role to help one another not just complete the training but to be at our best:

Bling Creep
Robin Buchanan is motivated to run any race that awards a medal and has collected a few age group awards along the way as well.  She is pure determination personified- once she starts a race she gives it 110% and never looks back.  The rest of us pretty much chase after her.  We do not begrudge her for her fast pace because she is very supportive and encouraging of her fellow Creeps.  She helps keep us motivated.  She suggests convincing your friends to sign up for a race with you and train together.  She practices what she preaches as she is most likely to talk a fellow Creep into running an ultra-marathon. 

Sleepy Creep
Ann Hagan earned her Creep name because of her profession (nurse anesthetist) NOT because of her personality or running style.  A more seasoned athlete she is full of practical advice and served as a mentor during marathon training.  She has all kinds of nutritional info to share also.  Always branching out and challenging herself she provides inspiration to us all by example.  She is currently training for a triathlon.  Most likely to complete an Ironman.

Hardcore Creep
Cat Hudson is going to run no matter what- rain, no problem, cold, doesn’t faze her, wind, no big deal.  You can count on Cat to be the first one to show up for a run, the earlier in the morning the better, in any conditions. Cat just completed her second full marathon on the BIG hills of Atlanta.  Most likely to always be up for a run over the bridge and to find the most refreshing post-race beverages. 

Nerdy Creep
Chris Letsinger is the guy with all the stats on pace, mileage and elevation.  He always knows the route, what intervals we are going to run, and how to amend the route for any reason.  He is also a leader in keeping us laughing, entertained and motivated on a run.  Chris is most likely to initiate an out of town trip to a race, or convince you to run hills you really hadn’t planned on running or didn’t think you could.  He offers this advice to those aspiring to get in shape, “Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do, but most importantly, don’t limit yourself.”

Weather Creep
Angela Long is the Creep who stays up to date on the weather conditions and as a more seasoned runner, always has a suggestion as to what to wear to be weather appropriate - long or short sleeves? How many layers?  She always has a practical solution for any of our running questions and offers ideas for race strategies. She says the biggest challenge of a running program is getting out of bed to go run.  She currently runs 3 days a week, with no back to back running days.  Most likely to be able to offer race directors feedback on how to tweak a race, course or expo for the better.

Baby Creep
Also known as Master Creep (he recently completed a graduate degree) is the youngest Creep, Mark Mizelle keeps us laughing with jokes, funny stories or movie quotes (along with Nerdy Creep) on a long or short run.  When he isn’t making us laugh he is inspiring us by earning a PR race after race.  He says he doesn’t get anxiety about races due to his Creeps.   He suggests starting an exercise routine with one close friend and open your heart to meeting new people who are on the same journey regardless of their abilities.  A young man with strong faith Mark is most likely to keep everything positive, even on the most grueling hot, sweaty long run or windy, rainy scary race.

Mama Creep
I, Judy Naylor-Johnson, am the self-appointed mama of the group.  I keep us on the safest side of the street (AGAINST traffic) or sometimes remind us to get OUT of the road.  I am known to remind everyone to wear their reflectors or headlights and watch out for dips or tripping hazards.  I am always reminding folks to hydrate, stretch or ice an injury.  Running low on fuel for a long run?  I always carry an extra Gu for a friend.  I am most likely to know where the bathrooms are on a route- just in case!  I think the most important step to starting an exercise regime is committing to and carving the time out of your schedule to take care of you!  The No Boundaries program helped me start running 3 years ago.

Six out of 7 Creeps set out to complete the 2013 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, it was a first for 5 of those folks. One Creep ran a marathon the week before the Rock 'n' Roll.  It was our pace and training program that brought us together initially but Baby Creep summed it up well by saying, “we break bread together, travel together and enjoy each other’s company outside of running.  Running brings us together, but our kindness and passion keep us together.”

Posted: March 24, 2014 - 4:44pm

Running Etiquette

I don’t write these much, both because A.) Robert’s pretty darn good at it and B.) I don’t want to upstage him, but I did want to make a couple of quick points about running etiquette.  A quick disclaimer: I know the words “running” and “etiquette” don’t usually go together—how can anything that pretty much requires you to sweat profusely and spit and/or wipe your nose on your sleeve or glove have anything resembling etiquette (it’s not like we’re out there running the streets of Savannah wearing top hats and monocles)?—but in this particular case, there are some essential “rules of the road” that will help to keep us all safe and ready to run another day.  And don’t worry all you Robert fan-clubers out there; I’ll try to keep my info dry and boring, so that it makes his next post radiate like a shining beacon (he’s published, you know; you should ask him about it sometime):
1.) Generally speaking, a faster runner should always pass on the left.  This goes for speed work on the track, general maintenance miles on the road, or even tempo runs on the bridge.  It is the responsibility of the faster runner to announce his/her presence as they approach a slower runner, just as it is the responsibility of the slower runner to make room for the passing runner by moving over to their right as he/she approaches from behind.  This is especially important on a track, where real estate in the inner lanes is at a premium; to insure neither runner gets injured with a last-minute, fast-twitch lunge out of the way, anyone doing recovery or cooldown laps should move out of lanes 1 and 2 to allow for faster runners to run unimpeded.

2.) If you're running in the dark, haze, or it's even remotely possible that a driver's visibility may be limited due to weather (i.e. if you're reading this, it probably pertains to you), please make sure you are wearing reflective or light-emitting gear.  This is not my attempt to sell you a reflective vest or headlamp (although we do have them here at Fleet Feet, reasonably priced and ready to go home with you! he writes jokingly...although we really do), rather to make you aware that many of you reading this lead by example, so please make sure you are EASILY seen during every run...especially when the visibility of crazy drivers may be diminished by a lack of light, weather, or even something like talking on a cell phone or taking a sip of morning coffee.  It's better to be safe than sorry, because metal always wins over bone.

Ok, that was it.  Nice and dull.  But just like the dullest shoes out there, vibrancy isn’t what makes them effective—it’s how we use those shoes (or in this case, information)—that truly makes them shine.  As we always tell our customers, we don’t pick a shoe by it’s color, just as the best information isn’t always the flashiest.  Just ask Robert—he’s about as dull as a spoon…and we, and he, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Second disclaimer: By the time you read this, I may be looking for another job—I am very friendly, am proficient in Microsoft Word, and like to run.

Chris Ramsey 
Shoe Buyer
Fleet Feet Sports Savannah