I Asked A Psychic to Predict My Half Marathon Outcome

The lines don't lie! My hand clearly shows a successful half marathon in my future.
The lines don’t lie! My hand clearly shows a successful half marathon in my future.

A certified trainer who makes his clients squat until it burns, Jerry Hoskey is pretty down to earth—for a psychic. “I’m just a regular guy with a passion for helping people,” he says. “It’s in my blood to serve others and to guide them to be better versions of themselves. I can give readings to my clients if that’s what they want, or we can just hit the gym floor and torch the calories.”

If Jerry doesn’t sound anything like those kooky Caribbean women on late-night infomercials to you, you’re getting the picture. A blond-haired, blue-eyed all-American guy, Jerry discovered his ability to predict future events with ridiculous accuracy when he was in college. But before he could use his talent, Jerry had to get over himself. “I had to get past the idea that I didn’t look or act like the typical palm or tarot card reader,” he says. “I prayed to God and said, ‘Let me be of service, show me what to do, and allow me to be as compassionate and truthful as possible.’”

Today, celebrities and news media seek him out for predictions and advice, but Jerry still enjoys his one-on-one work as a health and fitness pro. I was so intrigued by his job title when I came across him on a social media site that I reached out to ask how it works. “It’s hard for me to explain it—I just really connect with people,” says Jerry. “I can see the good in them, and I can see what life has in store.”

It’s not always good news. “Sometimes I see negative obstacles or bad events coming up, and I ask God to help me figure out how to tell the person,” Jerry says. “It’s not necessarily a burden. Bad news can also bring about positive changes.”

Curiosity got the better of me when we spoke on the phone about his unique gift. Good or bad, I wanted to know about my upcoming race, The Jungle Run Half-Marathon in Los Gatos. Jerry took a few deep breaths before giving me his thoughts. “I could be wrong,” he said. “But you’re going to have a good race. Still, you should be careful with your ankles—all of your joints really, but your ankles in particular. Maybe you should protect them that day—compression socks could be good, and you should be taking omega-3-6-9 supplements. Are you eating enough protein? It seems like you’re not.”

Future telling aside, Jerry’s fitness background and training make him an excellent mind-body-spirit coach. I’m following his sound advice, stocking up on supplements, and noshing on more protein until July 14. Our chat has turned me inward too, toward my spirit. It has reminded me to worry less and lean on God more. Who doesn’t need that kind of psychic encouragement now and then?

Have you ever wished you could know your race results ahead of time? Would you workout with a psychic fitness trainer?

New Shoes, New Races, New PRs!

Sweaty shopping: My bank account took a hit during this spree—proof even healthy addictions can be expensive! But happiness returns make new running shoes a worthwhile investment.
Sweaty shopping: My bank account took a hit during this spree—proof even healthy addictions can be expensive!

You know that flat feeling your legs get when you’re running in dead sneakers? I had that feeling on Monday, so at the end of a 3-mile lollipop route instead of heading home, I hung a left and ran directly into Running Revolution. (This small shop just off the main drag of Downtown Campbell is definitely worth a stop if you’re in the market for new shoes.)

In seconds, I went from “flat” to “fantastic.” After trying several brands and styles, I walked out with a brand new pair of Brooks Glycerin 10. I practically hugged the box all the way home! (Running with a shoe box is awkward, so I was forced to walk.)

Happiness (and PR!) returns make these new Brooks Glycerin 10 Women's Running Shoes a worthwhile investment.
Happiness (and PR!) returns make these new Brooks Glycerin 10 Women’s Running Shoes a worthwhile investment.

I was on such a shopping high that I went on a registration binge, too. I have now signed up for three upcoming races, and I couldn’t be more psyched for each of them. They’re all first-time courses for me, which means PRs are guaranteed. (Score!)

I’m saving the dates for:

Pretty Muddy 5K in Sacramento, Saturday Jun 29, 2013 This will be my first obstacle-laden mud run, and I’m really excited to participate. I’ve been going to boot camp fitness classes lately, so the competitive part of my brain is throbbing with the possibility of completely killing this course. (Hey, Rope Ladder, my arms will be ready for you!)

Sharks Fitness Faceoff 10K in San Jose, Sunday June 30, 2013 The Sharks are huge in San Jose—sunny Californian’s are some of the toughest hockey fans, believe it or not. And I’m expecting a big turnout for this charity event. I’ll be tackling the 10K (there’s a 5K and a health walk, too) and plan to attack it like, well, like a Shark—fast and ferocious!

The Jungle Run Half-Marathon in Los Gatos, Sunday July 14, 2013 To be honest, I’m a little anxious about signing up for my first half-marathon in the great state of California. My last attempt at a 13.1-miler back in October resulted in a DNF, but my butt is feeling better and I think putting this race on the calendar will be good for my head—I’m a goal setter, after all. (And, again, it’s a guaranteed PR!)

Which of these races are on your calendar? Are you looking forward to an upcoming PR, too?

Goodbye, New York City!

Running with my Achilles buddy Jim. He made running feel important.
Crossing the finish line of the 2007 NYC Half Marathon with my Achilles buddy Jim. My heart (and hair!) has grown a lot since then.

My gluteus medius injury is almost healed and I should be out there in Central Park getting my road legs back. But I’ve been avoiding it. Not because it’s cold, or because I’m scared it will hurt, but because I’m afraid I’ll cry. I’m not running because I know when I head to Central Park for a run, it will be my last.

Michael K. Farrell and I decided it’s time for a life shake up, so we’re moving across the country to San Jose, CA. It’s exciting! I’ll have a new city to explore and there will be new roads (and trails!) for my sneakers to fall in love with. I’m eager for the adventure, but moving is bittersweet.

I’ve spent more than a decade here in the Big Apple. This is where I became a “real” runner. I completed my first half marathon here with my visually-impaired buddy Jim. Guiding him around Central Park, through the streets of Times Square, and down the West Side Highway in the New York City Half Marathon gave my running meaning, and a sense of purpose. (The New York chapter of Achilles International has been my family ever since.)

I did my first 26.2 here, too. There’s nothing like running through Brooklyn, Queens, up the streets of 1st Avenue to the Bronx, and then back into Manhattan to Central Park—it’s magical.

Kim NYC Marathon Finish
All smiles at the finish of the 2009 ING New York City Marathon.

Yes, I’ll come back to visit—and I might even do a familiar 6-miler, but it won’t be the same. The city will feel different, foreign, and I will suddenly be one of those wide-eyed tourists that all New Yorkers love to hate. It makes me a little sad. But with sadness, there always comes a glimmer of hope.

Farewell, New York. I’m off to make a brand new start of it somewhere else.

The Diagnosis: Strained Gluteus Medius (a.k.a. A Pain In The Butt)

8 miles at warp speed on the Alter G—engage!

The fix: Cancelling my marathon plans and diving head first into rehab. (Cue: Amy Whinehouse, “They tried to make me go to rehab.”)

I mentioned last week that my marathon training wasn’t going well. I’d been plagued with pain, and I was debating whether to push through and run the marathon anyway. To help me make the best possible choice for my body and future running, I made an appointment with physical therapist extraordinaire Michael Conlon at Finish Line PT. I picked him for three reasons: 1. He and Michael K. Farrell are buddies. 2. He takes my insurance. 3. He has the most adorable golden retriever, Miles, who sometimes hangs out in the office. (I’m a sucker for a cute pup!)

After a thorough evaluation that involved me standing on one leg and leaning awkwardly in several precarious directions, doing moves reminiscent of a hula dancer, and getting a torturous psoas massage, Michael diagnosed the problem: left gluteus medius strain. (I would like to formally apologize to my hip. I’ve been complaining about the poor thing for weeks, when it was a broke-down butt muscle causing the problem the entire time.)

I didn’t decide to cancel my marathon plans right away. Nope, instead I attempted to run a half marathon four days after being diagnosed. I dropped out when the pain set in at mile three—my first, and hopefully last, DNF…did not finish. I cried the whole walk home and I didn’t even feel better when a plate of banana and Nutella crepes showed up in front of me.

My legs are in outer space and my head is in Shasta County, California—I’m watching game wardens bust poachers on NatGeo’s Wild Justice.

I’ll be spending time with Michael at Finish Line PT for the next 4 to 6 weeks. I’m pretty bummed about not running the NYC marathon in November, but the gadgets in this high-tech treatment center should keep me distracted. And I still get to run—at 75 percent body weight on an Alter G treadmill! It’s not Central Park, but at least I don’t have to completely cut running out of my life.

Have you ever run on an Alter G treadmill? What’s your “pain in the butt” running story?

2012 Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon Recap: I Won! (Basically…)

You better believe I hung this baby on the wall!

When Michael K. Farrell sprained his ankle and asked me to do the third leg of his upcoming half-Ironman distance triathlon, I immediately said yes. I hadn’t trained to race 13.1 miles, but all I needed to do was finish. “Make it a long training run,” he said. I was nervous about running well, but my anxiety melted away when we arrived in Tupper Lake, NY. The sleepy little Adirondack town is like Xanax for even the most worry-riddled racer. That’s not to say the competition wasn’t intense—the relay team lineup for the 2012 Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon on 30 June was fierce.

Windy conditions made for a choppy swim, and Michael K. Farrell swallowed a good amount of Tupper Lake. But he managed to regain his focus during the first transition. Waving away the bottle of Gatorade I held out, he jumped on his bike and was off. I saw him again two and half hours later for a brief 40 seconds, during which I ripped the Velcro strap with the timing chip off of his ankle, wrapped it around my own, and took off for the run.

Michael K. Farrell was second off the bike (he hammered the 56-mile out-and-back course!), which meant there was only one relay team ahead of us on the run. I didn’t think I’d be able to overtake that guy, but I was hoping to hold on to second place.

The first four miles were hot, lonely, and uphill. A woman on the sidelines shouted, “You’re the first girl!” as I rounded a corner, and I since I didn’t have the time or the energy to explain that I was a relay team so technically I wasn’t first, I simply shook my head. Michael K. Farrell jumped onto the course out of nowhere to lift my spirits. He reminded me to use the aid stations (“Dump all the water you can on yourself and take in some calories!”), and hobbled along by my side until the halfway point. (He said his ankle felt fine, but his gait was totally off.) By then I was feeling a lot better and I settled into a steady 9-minute pace. I was passed by a relay runner, pushing us into third place in my mind—still podium worthy, so I wasn’t all that upset.

I picked up speed in the last three miles, but still managed to get passed by a third relay runner just after the 12-mile marker. I was deflated. I felt like I had let Michael K. Farrell down (they don’t usually hand out hardware to fourth place finishers), yet I continued to push the pace.

I was psyched when I spotted Michael K. Farrell cheering on the sidelines up ahead–the end was near! He sprinted the last half mile with me and we crossed the finish line together. My watch stopped on 1:58:30*, and I had that satisfied, I-just-ran-a-half-marathon feeling.

Michael K. Farrell and I proudly accepted the award for 1st Place Co-Ed Relay. (I wanted to tell everyone it was the Cutest Couple award, but Michael K. Farrell wouldn’t let me—he thinks I need to be more modest.)

And then we learned we won! Turns out the three relay teams that finished ahead of us were made up of all men. We were the first co-ed team to cross the line! Thrilled and slightly dumbfounded (who knew there’d be awards for every category!?), I high-fived Michael K. Farrell and we shuffled off in search of dry clothes and sunscreen (I have a thing about reapplying every couple of hours).

Participating was a lot of fun, and showing the world that Michael K. Farrell and I make an award-winning team was exhilarating, but I still don’t have plans to take up swimming or cycling (outside of a spin studio). I’m more than happy to leave those legs to Michael K. Farrell, the best teammate a girl could have!

*The official results clocked my run at 1:59:30. I guess my watch decided to snooze for a minute.

Have you ever completed a triathlon? Do you swim or bike on your cross-training days?

Bear Mountain Half Marathon Recap: The Camera Loves Me!

Politely jockeying for position at the start of the race.

Have you ever been in one of those races where everything just goes right? The conditions are perfect. You’re solidly trained. The weather couldn’t be better. The course is a dream. Well, The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon in Bear Mountain, NY wasn’t one of those races. But the photos of me participating in it would certainly lead one to believe otherwise. (What can I say? The camera loves me!) Still, I have to admit those smiles were 100% genuine. I loved this event!

The morning started out in a bit of a panic. Our GPS device sent us to the wrong address and we ended up on the wrong side of Bear Mountain. (All together now: “The bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see!”) Luckily, we planned to be at the start 45 minutes early, so we had time to correct the mistake. It took 22 minutes to drive west, find the right exit, and get to the parking lot—and I was an anxious mess.

The laid-back start line was nerve-soothing. Unlike road races where directors line you up in corrals based on your pace, this was a free for all. Runners casually milled about in a grassy area in front of an inflatable archway that demarcated the start/finish. Instead of feeling like we were about to embark on the toughest trail half marathon in the region, the atmosphere was as calm as a backyard barbecue. Thank goodness—after the hectic drive, I couldn’t have handled a stressful line up.

Early miles were no indication of the intensity to come. I got into a decent mid-pack position within the first two miles, knowing that the trail would turn to single track soon and I wouldn’t be able to easily make passes after that. From there, the course wound around through the woods, progressively getting steeper, the ground changing from dry to muddy, and the terrain becoming increasingly treacherous. I was prepared for roots, rocks, and the occasional branch across the trail, but there were sections of this course that we were simply unable to “run.”

Lively conversation made the death-march climbs bearable. There’s an unwritten code among trail runners that if you can’t see the top of a hill, you stop running and walk up it instead. My signature is all over that imaginary document! Hiking up the inclines that make the Bear Mountain course a five-out-of-five for overall difficulty and a five-out-of-five for technical terrain, would have been daunting had I been alone. But chatting with the girls just behind me made the climbs fly by. (Have you ever seen people hiking with a pair of caged pet birds? One of these girls had! Hilarious!)

Minutes after taking a tumble—you can just make out the bruise beginning to form on my lower left quad.

Wiping out hurt, but I kept going. With a little less than three miles to the finish, the trail opened up and I found some speed. It felt good to pump my legs harder. But at that point I was mentally fatigued, and I wasn’t concentrating enough on where I was planting my feet.  I hit a rock in the center of the path and went flying, crashing hard onto my left side. Momentum and a slight decline caused me to roll forward, so I ultimately finished the fall on my back with my head pointing down the trail. I got back onto my feet a little dazed, and started moving forward immediately. A man in front slowed to make sure I was okay—I was, mostly. A guy behind clapped and shouted, “You’re doing great! Your pace has been even this entire time and you’re almost to the finish.” I shouted my thanks to both of them and went back to a slow jog.

Working the camera and crossing the finish line mats—all in a day’s work.

My heart soared when I heard the cheers at the finish line. “Finish strong with a smile,” is a mantra that I use during the last mile of every race. And it was especially helpful for this one. Half a mile from the finish my body was starting to realize that it was in pain—from the fall and from the intense workout that I’d just put it through. I came out of the woods onto a parking lot that stretched towards the grassy field where the journey began, and I started to sprint. I was done, and I was happy.

And I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Have you ever fallen during a run? What helped you get back up?


Penny For My Thoughts (That’ll be $456,982, please.)

Almost smiling! Brightroom captured me thinking happy thoughts at the finish.

Sometimes I have moments of incredible clarity when I pound the pavement and I’m able come up with answers for everything—including the solution to world hunger (Hint: It involves entomophagy). On other runs, I don’t think about anything at all and I get into a peaceful zone that feels like a full-body smile. Sadly, I didn’t achieve either of those mental states in Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon this past weekend.

Everything that popped into my head last Saturday felt negative. And that bad energy caused me to concentrate on all the wrong things—namely, an achiness in my hips. I had to think past the race just to get to the finish line. Around the 7-mile marker, I reminded myself that as soon as I got through this half marathon, I could focus on my next endurance challenge, hiking in the Himalaya.

I was in a just-get-through-this state of mind, and I’m a little bummed about that now. I don’t know why I didn’t pay more attention to the positive aspects of that race: the camaraderie of fellow runners out to have a good time, the cheerful volunteers who shared their morning, the shout outs from friends on the course.

This isn’t the first time my head has sabotaged what should have been a really fun experience. I was clouded by negative thoughts during the Boston Marathon back in April, too. And I’m wondering if my mental funk is a sign of something bigger. Or, more likely, maybe I’m over-thinking everything.

What’s on your mind when you’re running? What helps you stay positive during a race?

My Hips Are Working Harder Than My Backside

Grete’s Great Gallop, Here I Come!

My left hip flexor is angry today and I’m not sure if it’s from the Cat Hill repeats I did last night or walking around my neighborhood in hiking boots (those suckers are heavy!). Either way, I know from experience that this is a sign of a weak butt and lazy hamstring muscles.

I’ll admit it—I’ve been slacking off on the strength work. I used to squeeze in a few moves post-run, but there’s been a severe lack of lunges and squats in my life lately. When your glutes and hamstrings fail to engage while you’re running, your quads end up doing all the work and in turn start to rely on your hip flexors for help, causing them to strain. The last time I let strength work slide, my hip flexor became inflamed and impinged, and I was sidelined for over a month.

Hopefully, I can get through tomorrow’s half marathon without my hip flexor throwing any tantrums. Post race I’m getting off my butt and getting it (and my hamstrings) back in shape with a squat-heavy regimen and some moves from FitSugar.

How strong is your butt? Do you incorporate strength moves into your weekly workout routine? 

Big News: I Canceled My Entry In The New York City Marathon

Bigger news: I applied for a visa to Nepal. Even bigger news: I’m going to Mt. Everest.

I’m not going all the way to the top—my nose is too cute to risk losing to frostbite, but I will be embarking on a 37-day trek to Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit in one month (from yesterday). I have a lot to do between now and then: Organize my gear, break in some hiking boots (I’ve already gotten some funny looks while walking the dog in them), buy a headlamp, figure out if I need a new waterproof jacket, read a guide book or two… I’m excited! And I’m looking forward to sharing my adventure here with you, blogging as often as I can from the trails.

In the meantime, Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon is this weekend. Even though I’m no longer using this race as a marathon tune-up, I’m planning to run strong. I fell off the workout wagon last week because of a chest cold, but I’m feeling better now and I think I can still aim to do well—and hopefully PR—this Saturday.

Are you running a fall marathon? Have you ever been to the Himalaya?

(Fun fact: There is no such thing as Himalayas. The correct term is Himalaya, which means “the abode of snow.”)

What’s The Plan, Stan?

I’m training for Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon on 1 October and I’d like to do well. Of course, well is relative. My last half marathon was in January—it was 14 degrees outside and I finished in a respectable 1:57:02. This time, I’d like to push myself harder and cross the finish line in 1:49:00.

I’ve learned that when you set a goal (in running and in life) it helps to have a solid plan to get there. Figuring out that plan can be a challenge. Do you ask Google for one? Get it from a magazine? Hire a coach? I’ve tried all of those routes and they’ve all gotten the job done… when I’ve stuck with them.  That’s the key: A training program can’t tie your shoes for you—it only works if you’re dedicated to seeing it through.

Today my plan had me knock out three easy miles. But for some reason getting started was tough. I didn’t feel like getting out of my pajamas. I didn’t feel like going to the park. And I questioned whether a slow, low mileage run was really worth my time. (Clearly I woke up on the wrong side of the bed!) So I thought about my goal and I visualized what it would be like to look up at the finish line clock and see those numbers. Suddenly, snoozing for an extra 30 minutes just didn’t seem worth it.

What keeps you dedicated to your plan? What motivates you to run?