Sunday, September 29, 2013

Marathon Training Week#10

Oh holy heck. We've hit double digits.

After Friday's miserable run/death march, I took the whole weekend off.  My legs were really sore from it and my mind needed a break. I needed a few days to rest, both physically and mentally before this week's 20 miler and the craziness I have for the next three weekends.

Monday: 4 miles easy on the 'mill.  I actually kept it easy for once.

Tuesday: Cross training on the bike, followed by squats, lunges, and strength training.

Wednesday: Day off.

Thursday: Quick 5k. Was in a bit of a rush because my carpool (i.e. the Jayhawk) wanted to head home (our gym is at work).  I used it as an opportunity to push the pace a little more than I have lately.  Legs felt well rested and my foot didn't give me any trouble.

Friday: Rest. Made homemade ravioli. It was yummy.

Saturday: Woke up feeling a little off and as I got ready to run, I realized my garmin was dead.  Took it as a sign and postponed my long run to Sunday.
Welcome to Emory.
Sunday: 19.5 miles. I mentally broke the run up into  four 5 milers to help make it a little easier.  I fueled every 5 miles (3 Island Boost!) and it worked well. The weather was so nice and peaceful (since it was early Sunday morning), I ran the whole thing sans music.  Good mental training and a lot of alone time.  The hardest part was around mile 15 when I was actually only 2 miles from home by the most direct route, but I powered through and got it done. I ran through a lot of fun sides of the city including Emory University, Freedom Parkway, The Carter Center and the Presidential Library, as well as a lot of fun neighborhoods.
The Emory gates early in the morning.
How was your week?  Do you like exploring different areas of your city/town on your runs?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marathon Training Week #9

Thanks for everyone's nice comments on my half marathon recap! It was a really fun day.

Monday: 4 easy miles.  I wasn't sure how my legs would feel after Saturday's race, but overall they are doing well.

Tuesday: Took the day off.  Was feeling a bit overtired and my allergies were definitely feeling whatever fall is bringing. Turns out it's various weeds.

Wednesday: 6 mile run home from work!  I always enjoy a good run commute.

Thursday: Off, Mixing up the schedule this week.
Did you participate?
Friday: National Run @ Work day!  I often run at work (I use the work gym), but today I had a few comp hours to burn, so I left a little early to get in a long run around work.  There are some beautiful neighborhoods with large lovely houses and tree lined streets near my work.  They are some of my favorite streets to run in the city.
 At least my route was pretty even if my running wasn't.
I was hoping to get in my 16 mile long run, but it was a little warmer than expected and my body just wasn't having it after a long day at work.  I got in 14 and the proceeded to lay on the living room floor like I was dying.  I'm not dramatic at all.

Saturday: Off day after Friday's long run. I was sore and just in need of a break. The U-10 soccer girls kicked some major butt at their morning game and then it was off to JapanFest to watch some sumo wrestling.  Over all not a bad day.

Low point of the week: Feeling like I was crawling through my 14 miler on Friday.  When I got home, I was exhausted and sore like I had just run 20.  Not the confidence booster I was looking for.

Highpoint of the week: I fueled TWICE during the 14 miler.  I can only imagine what I disaster I would have been if I wasn't able to do that.

How did you week shape up?  How do you rebound mentally after a tough run?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fuelin' Up Friday: Island Boost

In one of my recent wanderings around the REI fuel section, I came across Island Boost.  I had never heard of it before, but both the flavors and the liquidy consistency were very interesting to me.  On top of that, it's made with coconut water, fruit juice, and nothing artificial, so I bought all 3 flavors.
When I got home, I visited the Island Boost website to learn a little more about the philosophy and science behind the product.  Here is what I learned:
This felt like my personal bio, minus all the savvy, entrepreneurial stuff. Source.

Island Boost contains only simple sugars (monosaccharides) which require little processing (i.e. digestion) by the body before it is able to use them.  Other fueling options use more complex sugars (polysaccharides) which require the body to digest them before they can be used, slowing down the absorption time.  The digestion process can be the source of GI problems for athletes.  Basically, blood pulled away from the digestive track during exercise limits digestion of fuel for many athletes.  In short, fuel that requires digestion can lead to GI issues like nausea, diarrhea, and my favorite, vomiting. For those of you who don't know me personally, I am a huge science nerd.  I was super pumped to find not only a clear and concise explanation of sugar types (including chemical formulas) and biochemical processing, but a company that was willing to discuss them.

Taste: It is sweet.  In fact it kind of caught me off guard at first it is so sweet.  I wasn't expecting it.  I like sweet things, so this isn't a big problem for me.  Just be ready when you try it.  It's sweet like a melted Popsicle kind of sweet.  I have tried the passion fruit, Blueberry-pomegranate, and strawberry-orange flavors.  I liked all of them, but I probably liked the passion fruit one a little more than the others, but that's very little.

Consistency: Very liquidy making it very easy to take down.  I'm not good at chewing while on the run and the longer my fuel sits in my mouth, the less I want to swallow it. The more liquid-like, the better in my opinion! Can be taken with no water, which is great if you are like me and don't want to have to wait for a water stop to fuel up.

During Run: Easy. Not something you hear me say about fueling very often.  As someone who has barfed in multiple states while running (there is a stat to make my mother proud), I was very relieved to find my stomach had no reaction. I have tried Island Boost on three separate runs now (one long run, in my recent Heroes Half Marathon, and a tempo run this week), and all three times I had no trouble opening or consuming it. I just took it in stride and kept on moving.  Giving my fueling history, I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing did and I mean that in a good way.  No nausea, no tummy ache, and most happily, no barfing. I will say that the packets felt kind of big, so heads up, you may need to squirt-swallow-squirt-swallow to get it all down.

Post Run: No ill after affects.  I was able to eat and hydrate without any nausea.

Cost: $2.50 each.  Find it at REI or online

Summary:  Those of you who are regular readers know that fueling is by far my Achilles heel.  I've tried many different products, some of which I have really liked, but don't work for me while running.  I am excited to say that I think I may have found one that does and it is a huge relief.  Every time I have used Island Boost on the run, it has been effortless.  It feels good to be fueled!

Have you tried Island Boost? Do you find that the composition of your fuel challenge your digestive track?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Heroes Half Marathon Race Recap

There were a lot of firsts for me in this race and this recap will be a little different from the others.  It also isn't short.

Heroes Half Marathon September 14, 2013
Field: Small, 100-200 maybe
Spectators: Minimal. Basically just at the start/finish area but they were very enthusiastic and cheered for every single person.  Great fans.
Start: 4H Center in Hampton, GA. 
Course: Double loop course with the first 1.5 miles of the loop on gravel roads (3 miles total)
Schwag: All you can eat pancake breakfast at the finish! Need there be more?
Other: The race is only in it's second year and they are really working hard to make a great event and raise lots of money for the Georgia Wounded Heroes Foundation.  I love what they are trying to do, what they are raising money for, and how passionate everyone involved was about the whole event. A somewhat local, benefiting a great cause, and wouldn't break the bank ($40).  Sign me up!

I signed up for this race because I was looking for a fall half to stick in my marathon training that wouldn't cost me a lot.  It wasn't until the pre-race email the day before the race that I realized that the whole race wasn't on paved roads.  I don't think I really thought about running on gravel, because I was heavily distracted by the announcement of Free Post-race Pancake Breakfast in the same email. Given how I had felt all week, and the fact that I would be running 3 miles on gravel, I didn't have a lot of expectations for the race. My goals were to run solidly, without getting injured, and just check-in to see how my fitness was doing.
A special dog tag as a finisher's medal and race sticker.
The race was small in a fun way where everyone was chatting with each other at the start.  There were many current and former military members including a team that ran the entire race in gas masks with a large US flag and another team that ran in full camo with boots and full packs.  After some pre-race announcements, the national anthem played with an Army Helicopter flyover. The national anthem is always very powerful when you are standing among a group of people that are willing to give their lives to hear it played.  It was a really nice moment.
The Huey Helicopter from the pre-race fly over.
The gravel road started almost immediately after the start which was a little difficult because the crowd hadn't fully broken up yet.  I tried to find a good pace while also minding my footing carefully.  The last thing I wanted was to come out of it with a twisted ankle! Around mile 3, I ran up next to a gentleman who quickly stated "You know, there is only one woman in ahead of you."  WHAT?  Was he serious?  Then he quickly added "Hope that doesn't mess with your head!"  Thanks buddy, no pressure. A half a mile later we came on the first water stop manned by several little girls and their moms, and as soon as they started yelling "Here comes the second one. Girl power!"  I knew he had been serious. Nothing like the power of 5 and 6 year old girls jumping up and down with pom-poms to make you want to run harder!

Now this was a totally new experience for me.  A HUGE first.  I've never even thought about placing in a race, let alone how to actually go about 'racing'.  I just go out there and run until I hit the finish line.  All of a sudden, I had something more to run for and some little girls to make happy!  So I kept pushing along at a comfortable pace, always aware that if anything felt off, I was going to slow down as to not get hurt for the marathon.
Trifecta of fueling awesomeness.
Second lap went similar to the first.  Tried not to fall on the gravel, which was a little harder now that I was tired.  I powered through the water stops with the little girls still waving and cheering loudly! I did manage to take some fuel during this race. Yes, you read that right. I actually fueled. Yet another big first for me! I've been trying out Island Boost (full review coming on Friday) and I took an entire package without even blinking an eye.  It's kind of nice when fueling isn't a stressor during a race!

I finished with a new PR and 3rd place woman overall!  I was passed by the second place girl around 11.5 miles and she looked very strong.  There were only 3 water stops on the course (thank heavens it wasn't hot) and I think I dehydrated slightly. My finish placement was really kind of exciting and a little bit shocking.  I have never placed in a race before and I set a PR by several minutes!  I definitely think training is paying off and all my work searching for fueling options is making a big difference!
Sporting my race shirt, awards, and most importantly, earplugs.
The pancake breakfast was great and a really nice touch. Since the race started/finished at the 4H campgrounds, we had full access to the dining hall (and the real toilets) there were plenty of tables and chairs to sit down and enjoy the endless pancakes, OJ, and bananas for breakfast.  I actually had a post-race appetite (another first, probably because I was able to fuel well) and scarfed down a short stack (sorry, ate them before I could take photos).
Post Helicopter ride complete with my Huey hair. The doors stayed open the entire flight!
After they announced the winning times and handed out the overall awards, they mentioned the best part: The top three men and women won a Helicopter ride! Not even kidding. We drove over to the airstrip which was right around the corner, and signed our lives away.  Two retired Vietnam veterans served as our pilots and they were more than excited to show us their flying skills!  I didn't get to take any pictures on the ride (sorry!) because they warned us the wind from the open doors would be so strong it would take phones, hat, sunglasses, etc.
Yes, I held on to the pole next to me, but I did NOT lose my pancakes!
The ride was really cool.  I had never been on a helicopter before and was lucky enough to sit in the gunner seat (the one that faces out the open door). We flew over the Atlanta Motor Speedway where several cars were practicing, did a few dips and turns (which is a little scary when there is no door between you and a few thousand foot drop).  We also dropped down low and buzzed by family and friends watching from the airstrip (I waved to other people's friends as the Jayhawk hadn't come with me).  We were lucky enough to have a very clear day, so clear that we could see the Atlanta skyline and Stone Mountain which were both over 30 miles away.  It was truly an amazing experience and one of the more awesome prizes they could have given us.

Have you ever had an unusual race experience? What is the coolest race prize you have heard of?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Marathon Training Week #8: It's Halftime!

I am halfway through my 16 week training program. To celebrate, I ran a half.

Monday: 4 miles on the 'mill.  It felt really hard.  Like strugglebus the entire way.  At first I thought I wasn't fully recovered from Friturday's long run, but then I start to feel a little funny during the third mile.  By the fourth, I thought I was blatantly nauseated, but I finished and went to stretch thinking it was exertion based.  Stretching didn't make me felt any better, so I left the gym. Just wasn't my day.

Tuesday: Cross training and weights. Still felt sluggish, but got in time on the bike with my usual strength routine.

Wednesday: Slept very poorly and by the time the alarm went off, I felt like some form of death. My allergies have been giving me a lot of trouble especially at night, and I basically didn't sleep all night and was very congested. Stayed home in bed all day.  No workout.

Thursday: My body felt sore from being sick the day before, but I wanted to go for an easy run so I could stretch out really well. 3.5 miles on the treadmill.

Friday: Rest day. I don't know about you, but it was definitely a Friday the 13th kind of day. Given the week I had already had, I decided not to push my luck and opted for no workout.

Saturday: Heros Half Marathon to benefit the Georgia Wounded Heros. I'll post a full recap, but as a teaser, it involves gas masks, a motor speedway, and a helicopter ride.  Not my regular race recap!

Since I am halfway through training, it's a good time for a check in.

Injury report: My PF is doing much better.  I definitely still have soreness when I don't stretch well, but over all it's improving. I might try a little speed work this week to see how it holds up.  Also, I have one super ugly toe.  It's the usual one that gets icky. I guess it is just not a team player.

Training update: I sticking to the plan pretty darn well. I think I only have missed 2 or 3 workouts and then a handfull that I have modified in someway.  I have not done any speed work because of the foot, but I'm going to try to add it back in.

Brain training: Good.  I am feeling confident and happy with my mileage. I try to keep a fairly relaxed mindset about the whole thing and that has really helped. I've had a few moments of seeing my hard work pay off and feeling stronger, and that really helps drive training.

Fueling: Made some head way.  Still don't have a go to item for super long days, but I have got the hydration thing down. Yeah heat training!

Other: I am at the point in the training cycle where not all my pants are fitting so well because my quads have gotten a little stronger. A few might have to be retired until after the marathon. Small price to pay.

How was your week?  Any big races coming up?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fuelin' Up Friday: Pocket Fuel

The quest for fueling options continues!

For last weekend's 15 miler, I tried out something new (shocking) in the fueling department. After hearing lots of great things about PocketFuel online, I figured it was definitely worth a try.  I tried the Chocolate Haze one, but it comes in several other flavors that sound pretty tempting.
Taste: Pretty darn awesome! I really mean that.  It tastes exactly like that hazelnut chocolate spread that we all know and love so much. No problems what so ever with the taste.

Consistency: Nut butter. Many of the reviews I had read recommended adequately massaging the package because it is all natural and can separate. I ran with the envelope in my bra to help pre-warm it and then stopped to take it. I thought massaged it well to mix. Well, um, I guess I didn't mix it well enough. The top half was the consistency of chocolate syrup while the bottom half was thick like natural peanut butter. This lead to me spilling some all over my arm/leg in my excited attempts to eat it. Learning process.

During Run: I actually stopped to take it.  Because of the massaging and need for squeezing to get it all out, I was worried I would run into something if I attempted to do this while running. This could make it a big challenge during a race.  I also took the product with a lot of water.  It is thicker, and I wanted to make sure it was all washed down well.

Post run: No lasting effects or tummy issues.

Cost: 1.8oz pouch for $2.75.  Can also be purchase in bulk sizes.

Summary: I really like PocketFuel.  I had no trouble with the taste even during a hot 15 miler and it gave me no stomach issues (win!).  It contains all real ingredients which is rare to find in many fueling sources. The company is very personable and even took the time to tweet me where the nearest locations were to find PocketFuel! My only issue with it was that because of the massaging and need for water when you take it, it might be difficult to take on the run especially if you are worried about time. I think PocketFuel is perfect for cycling, hiking or other activities where you might be stopping to enjoy the view anyway.  I plan on using it for those kind of things!

Have you tried PocketFuel?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Marathon Training Week #7

I tried a few different things this week from a Monday race to a broken up longrun.  The good news is that I survived everything.

Monday: Big Peach Sizzler 10k Race.
Soggy Sneakers and smiles.
Tuesday: Cross training and weights. 25 minutes on the bike followed by squats, leg press, hips, and arms.

Wednesday: Off. Long work day. Life wins.

Thursday: 4 miler on the treadmill.  Wanted to take it easy after monday's race.  Felt fine during run, but was a bit tired later. Made for good sleeping.

The season opener for the U10 girls was on Saturday morning, so in order to get in my entire long run and get to soccer on time, I broke it up into two days.
Friday: 8.33 miles. Start of long run.  I ran around work for a few miles and then home.  I love the neighborhoods near my work because they have large lovely homes with tree lined streets.  Great for running. Got home showered and refueled with lots of gummy worms.
Pretty places make running easier.
Saturday: 10.25 miles. About 12 hours later, I was up and at 'em again.  I ran my usual area around my house.  It was cooler than it has been which was a very nice surprise.  I felt sluggish for the first few miles, but was able to get into a good rhythm after that. I like the split long run. I was able to run stronger during both run than if I had run 18.5 all at once, but still had the experience of running on tired legs.
A tough 5-4 loss for the little ladies. Yes, the sky was really that blue.
Sunday: I was bit tired and hungry.  I made pumpkin biscotti.  It was a good day.

Next Week: Cutback week with a race to spice it up.

7 weeks down, 9 to go! In the single digits finally.

How was your training week?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Big Peach Sizzler 10k Race Recap

Big Peach Sizzler 10k, September 2, 2013 (Labor Day every year)
Field: ~1500
Spectators: Few, but it poured the entire race. Not a bad crowd at the finish.
Start: In Chamblee a block from the MARTA station.  Plenty of parking/ways to get to the start.
Course: Point to point with shuttles back to the start
Schwag: Dri-fit shirt, Lots of coupons and tons of vendors at the finish even in the rain!

I have  known about this race for years and that it is a fast course, but it had never really crossed my radar because I don't run many 10ks.  This year while we were at the Peachtree Road Race Expo, the Jayhawk decided to sign up and after watching him fill out the form, I decided to join him.  Originally, I had been looking at some other longer races to do Labor Day weekend, but I figured, what the heck.  It's only $22.

Race day arrived without much planning or specific training by me. I ended up with a very busy running weekend (15 miles on Saturday, 6 hours of Volunteering at an Ultra on Sunday, and then the race on Monday), so by race day I was hoping I still had the energy to run. On the drive over, we noticed a few sprinkles, but didn't think too much of it because the sun was rising and it rains all the time this summer.
Rocking my new Nike skirt at the start. All smiles and still dry.
By the time we parked the sprinkles were done so we commenced the usual pre-race fun of port-a-john lines, shoe tying, and scoping out the other runners who were warming up.  I am an avid non-warmer-upper.  I don't like to waste precious calories.  Instead I usually stand around pre-race yawning and and looking grumpy.  The Jayhawk on the other hand was striding it out so he could warm up his bum hammy and get a good stretch before the race (this was his longest run since the horrific accident).  We made the mistake of shuffling over to the start and NOT jockeying for good position, so I ended up crawling over people for the first few miles.  Completely my own fault.
Lots of people wearing the race shirt to the race.
Lesson#1 of the day: Line up in the right spot. You know better.
Once the crowds cleared though, it was smooth sailing.  Somewhere during mile 2 the rain started to sprinkle, then really rain, then kind of side smack me in the face.  Of course the one day all summer I think it's a good idea to run without my visor, it rains like the Dickens.  The one HUGE benefit was that it was a cool rain, making the race temps actually quite lovely.  Sizzle we didn't!
Notice the ominous clouds in the background and my lack of visor.
Lesson#2 of the day: Stop making changes on race day. You know better.
Once I hit my stride around mile two, I kept the pace at a comfortable push not knowing how my legs would feel coming off a tough 15 miler two days earlier.  My legs ended up feeling pretty strong so I decided to keep the tempo up unless anything started to hurt.  The course was gently rolling (which is actually rather flat by ATL standards) and it really suited my running style.  I like to push going up hill and then translate that to a little extra speed on the way down. I did take fuel at mile 4 thinking I was near a water stop when I was still really a mile away. Oops. I ran solid for most of the race.  At mile 5, my soggy sneakers began to bother me, but it was almost the end, so I kept on.
All smiles and soggy sneakers at the finish.
I finished in 51:27 which I was happy with and thought was a minute or so off my PR.  I don't race 10ks much, so I honestly had to look it up when I got home because the Jayhawk was curious.  Turns out I was 9 seconds away from my PR.  9 seconds.  I easily could have made that up.
It's even brighter in person.  I swear.
Lesson #3 of the day: Know your PRs. It makes it easier to break them.  Now you know better.

Even though I made a bunch of rookie mistakes, I still really liked this race.  I can see why it is so popular and that it's a good course for PRs (assuming you know what your current PR is).  I'll be back.

What lessons have you learned from racing?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Recap

Miles: 109.1 Pretty excited about that. :)

Races: None. Between vacation and school starting, I couldn't find one that the fit in to my training and life.  But I did participate in two virtual races. Making up for it next month.

Current Gear Want: Fuel that works for me.  Got some great options on the list to try. Stay tuned.

Current Gear Love:  My new sneakers. So happy I finally bought new ones!

Things I am excited for next month: This next month is a beast trainingwise.  I have two 20 milers on the schedule as well as some serious bike training to do to get ready for my OCT ride. It's time to get serious.

September items to check out:
Team Winter is putting on a month long challenge for September to raise money for prostate cancer research.  For those of you who have not heard of Winter Vinecki, she is a 15 year old young lady who lost her dad to prostate cancer and is now working on running a marathon on every continent to raise money to fight the disease. Learn more about her quest here.

Alex's Lemonade Stand is having a Million Mile Run, which sounds like a super far way to run but good news you don't have to do all million miles.  It is in support of Childhood Cancer Research and in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Anything exciting ahead for you this month?  Any fun races planned?

Marathon Training Week #6

Monday: 4 miles on the mill.  I had aimed for 'easy' after Saturday's first big long run (mentally I don't find them long until I break 2 hours on the run), but my legs felt good.  Not even heavy.  So I still tried to keep it under wraps a bit, but it was the fastest 4 miler I have had in the past few weeks. No lingering effects of Saturday's run (foot or muscle). Woowoo.

Tuesday: 25 minutes on the bike followed by some lifting (hips, squats, arms). Felt sluggish.

Wednesday: 6 mile run commute home. It was a sweatfest.  But it's always important to remember, it's not sweat, it's liquid awesome.
It's been a long, hot summer.
Thursday: 3.5 easy on the treadmill.  Realized I hadn't done an easy run all week and my body was needing one.

Friday: A well needed Rest Day. Stopped by REI to pick up some new fueling options that I had been scoping out.  More to come on that.

Saturday: 15 miles. It was hot and humid early.  Took everything to stay with it.  Not to mention there was a lot of foot traffic on my route because of all the festivals in town.
15 is good enough for me.
Mini goal for next week: Take it one day at a time.  I have a big running weekend this weekend (more to come on that) and it continues through next week with a busy work week.  Cut back week the following week will be well earned!

How was your week?
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