Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Run to Remember 5K Race Recap

At the half marathon in April my boyfriend became so inspired to run a race, we had to stop at the mall to get him running gear on the way home. Since then, he has been training for his first 5K which was this past Saturday....

So on a cold and rainy morning in late May, we set out along with his younger brother and my running buddy to participate in the Run to Remember. This was the boys’ first race, my friend Kimmy’s first race since her marathon last year, and my first 5K in a year. What a bummer that it had to be a cold and wet day!

After packet pick-up we camped out in the car until the start time neared, shed our layers, then reluctantly walked up to the start. This was a small race in its first year and it had attracted less than 100 people. The start was congested and confusing, and we ran as couples for the first ¼ mile or so. It really did not feel like a race at first, as the boys stayed with us, and it just felt like a silly jaunt in the rain.

However, as soon as there was space, the boys took off and maintained a steady ¼ to ½ mile ahead for the rest of the time. Kimmy and I quickly passed quite a few people before setting into a comfortable pace around 8:15. It was fun to be running together again, and the rain spurred us on toward the finish as quickly as possible.

As this was an amateur race, there was no signage other than mile markers, so we were clueless on our timing. About halfway through, Kimmy had to take a break to work through some cramps and urged me to go on. Because I fare best in the cold & wet, I picked up the pace in an attempt to make up for “lost time” as I saw it.

As I turned the corner and faced a gradual hill, it hit me how silly it was for me to be running alone…especially at this point in time. This was our first race running together in awhile, I had no clue about my speed, and I wanted to finish with my friend. I spotted her just a little ways back so started running in slow-mo to entertain myself until she caught up.

Once together again, we settled into our earlier pace and headed toward the finish. At this point I had finally lost sight of the boys and knew there was no hope to catch up (darn!). The course was a little confusing and as we turned the corner a little short of .1 miles left, the clock read 25:50. I yelled to Kimmy “26:00!!” and we started sprinting.

I LOVE running races with my running partner, we always have the energy to sprint the finish and race the clock. The funny thing is… makes for a good show for the spectators because they always think we are racing each other.

We came in at 26:02, not bad for the first 5K of the year. My goal was to beat our Hot Chocolate Run time from December 2011 (the last 5K we ran together) which was 26:28. My secret goal is to get a 25:00 5K, which stands mine & Kimmy's PR….from May 2010! Yikes!

The boys had a good time as well and Tim is ridiculously excited to run again. He left his brother behind after the uphill and finished around 23:00. The both of them are around 6 feet tall, so it’s a given that they will finish faster than us, despite their lack of training. Stupid men.

Next event: Westfield Wave Triathlon – my first Sprint!

Friday, May 24, 2013

3 Season Gear

All week long I have been thinking about this post, making a mental list of all of my gear, and wow….I have accumulated quite a bit over the years! Also, due to the fact that I live in New England, I need significantly more gear than if I lived somewhere with a climate like San Diego’s. With that thought in mind, I’m only going to write about the gear that’s relevant right now. I will do another post once the temps start going down again.

Shoes: The only thing you really need when you first start running. I don’t even remember what I wore when I did the couch to 5K in 2009, but they definitely weren’t anything fancy. Shoes are important once you start logging more miles, and everybody is different. I highly suggest going to a running store to get the proper fit. I ran my first two half marathons in the same shoes …they lasted me a good two years before I started getting pain in them. I cannot go wrong with the Brooks Adrenaline and will probably buy another pair after the marathon. Yes, they are the traditional cushy sneakers with a drop, but….they work well for me. And I land mid/fore-foot with every step. Can’t complain.

Bike: Oh, the road bike. I have done a couple triathlons using my Mom’s 10+ year old Mongoose mountain bike. Sure, I still got first place, but I had to work extra hard to maintain speed on the bike. I vowed to purchase a real bike this year with my taxes, and this I did. I went to a local bike shop, used my Mom’s connection and bargaining skills, and was able to get a GT Series 4 for $540 that was originally marked at $900. I cannot express how much I appreciate having this bike as my own. It’s comfortable, fast, and light-weight. Hills are no longer such a bother which means I can ride to/from work with ease. Plus, the low weight means I can get the bike into the elevator at work without a problem!

Swimsuit: I bought a TYR brand reversible swimsuit off of Sierra Trading Post when my 7 year-old girls-sized Speedo finally wore out on me. I took someone’s excellent tip at using this website and was able to get a swimsuit for $30 that usually goes for $70. This suit is great, it’s thick, and it fits perfectly. I invested in this because I swim at least once a week and will continue to do so for awhile.

Bike Shorts: I just bought my bike shorts online and I love them! I have never ridden a road bike before now and boy, are they different from what I am used to. Even the bikes used in spin class are nothing compared to my road bike! These shorts are a great length, the gel padding is thin but gets the job done. I borrowed a pair of my Mom’s shorts to see if I could benefit from buying a pair. I can say that I really appreciate how much less bulky these are and am pleasantly surprised. They are even comfortable to run in during my brick workouts! I did some research on brands, pricing, etc. and found the Canari Gel Pro Short on Campmor, bought them for $40 and they are originally $70!

Bike Shoes: I probably should mention that I do not always get a long with bikes. In my short life I have broken an arm, sprained two wrists, gotten a severe cut, bruised my collarbone, and separated my first rib all by falling off of a bike. For some reason I continue to ride without fear, BUT, I do not think I can ever wear the clip-in shoes that the pros (or my Mom!) use due to all my injuries. I took advice from my step-dad and wear sneakers that have little padding so that I do not lose energy in that absorption. Enter…my indoor soccer shoes! These babies are a boy’s size 6 and were only $20 at Sports Authority. They have served me well in three winters of soccer plus many spin classes and now bike rides. Easy solution to a potentially expensive problem.

Fuel Belt: I recently purchased this, and as of now it is untested. However, I bought the fuel belt NOW so that I could use it for the triathlon. I figure it will be a lot easy to put my bib number on here after the swim rather than pulling on a shirt over my bathing suit. Also, this is obviously something that will be needed as I train for a marathon in the dead of summer. After much research I decided to purchase the iFitness Neoprene Hydration Belt for $40 off a website called Holabird Sports. I wanted to buy from the iFitness site, but they didn’t have anything in my size! The belt includes two 8 oz. bottles, a place to store two snacks (I don’t use gels), and a zippered waterproof front pouch for phone, keys, cards, etc. Also, the toggles to hold the bib number as I mentioned. I have tried it on and it seems comfy, the reviews are all positive and it is supposed to stay in place well. My only problem? I like to put my arms down by my side when running distance, but will have to hold them up higher to keep them away from the bottles. Small price to pay for keeping hydrated though!

Running Spandex: The last part of gear I want to mention, that is also untested, is the long running spandex I bought from Aero Tech Designs. I bought the Classic Fitness Compression Shorts in order to avoid chafing and possibly assist with muscle fatigue when running long distance. I recently discovered with my half marathon training that running in my stretchy cotton capris is infinitely more comfortable than traditional running shorts for anything over 8 miles, but not really advised for mid-summer running. Enter….the long spandex. They fit nicely, I will see how they treat me this summer. They were only $20 so I figure it’s worth a shot.

Everything else that one needs for running, I buy used, second-hand, almost always from Savers. I do not see any point in spending ridiculous amounts of money on brand new matching outfits by Adidas/Nike/Under Armour, etc. and spending at least $70. My running wardrobe has held up quite nicely and is obviously multi-purpose. I am not one to care about matching and looking great while running so this is not right for everyone. But when you’re on a budget, there’s no reason to worry.

Additionally, the socks and sports bras I wear are at least three years old and holding up nicely. Again, no reason to buy the name brand or spend extravagant amounts of money on these items, they are standard necessities but will not make or break a workout.

I was able to accumulate all of these items because I did not purchase them all at once. I budgeted, saved, and researched before completing any sale and made sure that I truly was in need of these items. Working out is my hobby, my greatest by far, and this is where I choose to spend my money. Obviously, my choices would be a lot different if I prioritized vacations, coffee/alcohol, meals out, etc. Training and participating in these athletic events are what help me get through the day-to-day crap of living as a poor volunteer/student in America and I always look forward to the next workout.

I am able to pay for the events I participate in because I research, write out my goals, and figure out what makes sense with my budget and time. I am lucky enough that my friends and family support my decision to regularly participate in such events. For my birthday, my boyfriend paid the registration fee for my April half marathon. And the marathon was paid for using any money I received from family for my birthday.

I am lucky to be able to enjoy myself and be comfortable when I work out, I remind myself every day. But it’s not always luck….sometimes it’s just about being smart and making good decisions. After all, I started running for the simplicity of it, all you need is your legs and a pair of shoes to get started. And some people will argue that you can get by on less!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good Eats & Mother's Day

With the start of a new recruitment cycle at work, the end of my writing class, and the recent holiday, I have been a little busy over here. Nevertheless, I have continued to cook and exercise like crazy!

 Before I go into my photo blast, I just want to share that my triathlon training is going as planned and I am right on track. My hope is that sticking to this schedule will help me eliminate the exhaustion that comes with three consecutive sports. Also, I always get scared about my heart and adrenaline in tri' the brick training is good for teaching myself how to control my breathing.

On to the food!

healthy un-fried fried rice w/ extra veggies || quesadillas, kale chips, & carrot soup with a kick
fruit salad, egg & feta, sprouted english muffin with spinach pesto || protein oats, fruit salad
annie's mac & cheese with roasted brussels || tropical boozy baked oatmeal
back on track green monster with a cat on the side

Okay, so I guess I haven't been as uninspired as I thought. I also made sweet potato brownies for Relay for Life and peanut butter cups for Mother's Day! Woo!

And Mother's Day - how did I celebrate that? I asked my Mom to join me on a bike ride to a local vineyard for some exercise, sun, and wine! 

We rode a total of ~28 miles and for 2 hours through several towns, rolling hills, and beautiful scenery. We were also able to create a different route home so it was nice to ride a loop rather than out and back. 

 On Sunday the vineyard had free tastings for Moms, and I think we were able to taste every single wine they have available. This vineyard has my favorite local wine, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be my new favorite place to visit. The owners are friendly, the view is beautiful, and it's a wonderfully small and intimate place.

The shoulder of the roads, for the most part, was wide enough that we could ride alongside one another and talk quite a bit, which was nice. My Mom is currently away in Malawi for a couple weeks so I'm glad we were able to find the time to spend together.

And don't tell her this, but this was my #2 favorite part of the day......

Up next: Gear for triathlon & marathon training. After accumulating items over the past year, I am now completely prepared for any race I may encounter, and I've done it on a VISTA stipend!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On to the next adventure...

Now that my first major event of the year has passed, I am onto the next one. On Sunday, June 9 I will be participating in the Westfield Wave Sprint Triathlon! I completed the Super Sprint (300 yd swim, 6.3 mile bike, 1 mile run) in 2010 and 2012 and won my age group both times.

Last year was so fun that I vowed to do it the right way in 2013 - and kick it up a notch! I purchased a real road bike with my tax returns and am now in the midst of Sprint Triathlon training. It is so fun, I would participate in triathlons regularly if they didn't cost so much money. My goal is to do two this year and this is the easier of the two, with: .3 mile swim, 13 mile bike, and 3 mile run. This is what the plan looks like (yes I'm a lazy butt, but it works):

This week is oddly easy, while last week was a tough start. I really like that triathlon training forces me to cross-train and spend a considerable amount of time doing so. Obviously, I am flexible with my training as you can seen on this chart. Yesterday my best friend took me to Bikram Yoga for my birthday, and boy what a treat! Anyways, since I haven't taken a day off in a week, I decided to do so today. I will most likely never swim only 600 yards because that seems like a waste of getting into the pool, but I am combining it with body sculpt at the gym, so maybe I will be tired?

Obviously my schedule this week requires me to rein in the eating a little bit, which is hard to do after half marathon prep and a heavy-ish training week. My body doesn't always get the memo that it is time to switch gears, and something like this happens....

...on a Monday night. Before hot yoga. Luckily my stomach is pretty strong and wasn't bothered. And hey, I dressed it up with healthy toppings. The recipe for this "mug" cake is all too easy but oh so good. With this drop in activity, I have a lot to do to prepare for my final paper and enrollment in September at Mount Holyoke. This means that I have not cooked (nor cleaned) much lately and I have been pretty lazy. Tonight's dinner is evidence enough, healthy un-fried fried rice as inspired by the blog Daily Garnish.  

It is not the prettiest thing to look at but man is it tasty. This version includes edamame, corn (from last summer) and broccoli. I am hoping to find more inspiration on Thursday when I go to my first Spring Farmer's Market! Crossing my fingers that asparagus will be ready....

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fueling for a big race

As promised, here are my thoughts on fueling for a big event. I have had several questions about how I can do this is as a vegetarian, and I hope to shed a little light on the matter.

I did my research and found this site to be the most helpful...or so I thought. Turns out the number one rule according to everyone is - don't try anything new leading up to a race!

All of our bodies work differently and I believe I followed advice that was a little too generic. For instance, I am 4'11" and do not need to carbo load as much as most people. I definitely ate too much in the days leading up to the race, and trust, I paid for it afterward. I do not eat a diet high in carbs but really made an effort to get in an extra 400 calories everyday. This did a number on me and I spent a lot of time sleeping in the days leading up to the race.

Another common recommendation is to avoid having too much fiber. However, fiber does not bother my stomach...I actually had broccoli with breakfast, lunch, and dinner before my race. No problems. I believe this is due to my vegetarian diet and the fact that I do not have a sensitivity to high fiber foods. I would definitely not recommend eating plenty of fiber if you have a stomach, but you already knew that!

Two problem areas I encountered while away: alcohol and ice cream. Abiding by the "do what you usually do" rule, I had beer before my race. One beer a day, because I was on vacation why not?! And they were goooood. I also believe I drink enough water so I can afford the hit to my hydration. Who knows, I have a beer the night before a long run here and there, so it was no different.

In the same breath, I broke that eating ice cream. My lactose-intolerant tummy did not like that much. But my brain said, "it's Ben & Jerry's, you're on vacation, how can you say no to this?!" Oops. It was tasty though, and I know better next time!

I did not think much about photos while away, so this is a boring mostly-text post. I will practice toting my brand new camera around a little more often! The list of pre-race fuel....

Breakfast: oatmeal with apricots, raisins, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds
Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs with broccoli, 2 slices of bread, green smoothie
Lunch: HUGE bowl of pasta with pesto, artichoke hearts, broccoli, and red peppers
Dinner: baked potato with "cheese" sauce and broccoli
Race fuel: apricots, walnuts, dates / alternate water & Gatorade at stops
Recovery: chocolate soy milk, chia fresca, Kind bar, 1/2 orange

And in case you haven't heard enough about food....

1) quinoa, kale & citrus salad (sub sweet potatoes & walnuts)
2) quinoa pancakes (sub banana for butter & syrup, chia for egg)
3) pasta & lentils with roasted garlic sauce
4) pasta & bean soup with kale (Tim says the best I have ever made)
5) my own raw kale salad with apples, cheddar, sunflower seeds, and garlic

Next latest training plan!