Thursday, May 24, 2012

Can we still be friends?

When I first started this blog, I thought long and hard about what to title this new venture (can't you tell?).  I was really torn between "Go 'Ama, Run!" and "Run 'Ama, Run!"  Obviously, I went with the former, though I'm not really sure why.

Rewind a couple years:

As soon-to-be new parents two years ago, we sometimes scoured the internet for the world's cutest baby clothes.  DJ Research, in all his search-guru wisdom (read: hours upon hours on imgur), found this super cute baby graphic:

Dinosaur-in-trainig.  RAR.
 (via Rainbow Swirlz)


Back to the Present:

Incidentally, this is also the response Nugget gives when you ask him, "What sound does a tiger make?"  At first he was very timid with his response.  "RAR?" he would ask, with his wide eyes.  His response is now punctuated with an exclamation point (or seven) but I still love the way he doesn't ROAR, he RAR!!!!s.

Why I didn't put this together in the first place, I'll never know.  But "Run 'Ama, Run!" has the acronym RAR!, and RAR! has a special place in my heart.  Its the sound of dinosaurs-in-training and tigers-in-training, and of this mother-runner-in-training.  

All this to tell you, I've moved.  I can now be found at "Run 'Ama, Run!"  Any subsequent posts to "Go 'Ama, Run!" will direct you to my new address.  I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.  I don't have many readers yet, and I hate to lose the few that I have.  I hope that we can still be friends.

So please join me at and RAR! with me! (Comments are open!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon Race Recap

Rockstar weekend is over (which means I'm back to doing the dishes, grrr...), but I'm still happy about my performance at the Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon this past Sunday in Fredericksburg, VA.  I managed a 1:59:02 finish, which is a 12:58 faster PR than my previous HM finish at the Hershey Half last year (2:12:00).  I think I can run faster, though, and I look forward to training harder and trying for another HM PR in the fall.

As evidenced by previous race recaps, its really easy to blog about every. single. detail. of your race, even though it may be oh-so-tedious for your readers to read (or not read, which is probably the case).  Its also really easy to not want to blog about every. single. detail. of your race, because it is oh-so-tedious to type (or not type, as I was sorely tempted to skip this post).  For the sake of brevity, I'm going to adopt a race recap template (which I stole from Banana BuzzBomb, who stole it from RocTheRun) to highlight certain aspects of the race, so that we can all get on with our lives a good night's sleep.  (Not that detailed race reports aren't awesome.  To be honest, if I had the time and energy, I would probably write a novella about each race.  But me wants to sleep!)


This course was all road.  I thought it would be a mostly flat course, with a whopper of a hill at mile 10.  Turns out, its a fairly hilly course, with a whopper junior of a hill at mile 10.

The Weather:

The day started a bit chilly but comfortable with bright blue skies.  It obviously got hotter as the day went on, but I didn't think it was ever too hot.

Low Points:

I started WAY TOO FAST.  I passed the 5K point in 25:58, an 8:21m/m.  Thats awesome, but way too fast for me.  I knew I needed to dial it back, particularly with all the upcoming hills.  Also, I ran the early downhills strong, but a little too strong.  I was pretty winded between miles 4-6.  By the 15K point, I was running 8:50m/m, which is more my speed.  And then I hit Hospital Hill.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I did walk a portion of it because I knew there was another hill in mile 11.  I also walked a portion of that hill until I realized this was the last hill and I might as well give it all I got at this point!

High Points:

The spectators.  Fredericksburg really knows how to motivate its runners!  People were lined along almost all 13.1 miles, clapping, cheering, waving, handing out tequila jello shots (at mile 4.  I kid you not).  There were church choirs, school bands, real bands, and even a few quartets, plus a few groups dressed in Civil War-era garb.  But I think my favorite spectators were the kids, who eagerly held out their hands to high-five us as we ran by.  I'm a big advocate of thanking those who came out to cheer us, so I waved and clapped and high-fived back.  So fun!

But I think my greatest motivator (besides DJ Research and Nugget, of course) was the announcer at the finish line.  As I'm nearing the end, I hear the announcer yell over the (ridiculously loud) PA system: "RUNNERS!  IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, YOU HAVE THREE MINUTES TO MAKE IT UNDER 2:00 HOURS!  THREE MINUTES!!  YOU CAN DO IT!"  I had no idea I was so close.  Due to my fuzzy math skills, I thought I had an extra mile to go.  When I realized I was going to make it under 2 hours, tears sprang into my eyes and I started kicking hard.  I wanted to make sure I ABSOLUTELY finished under 2:00.  With 0:58 seconds to spare, I crossed the finish line.  I was so happy, I peed my pants.

PR happy!

The Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon was fun and festive!  I recommend it as a first time half-marathon (just train for hills) because all the support really pumps you up.  Thank you to all the marines who helped as course marshals and who cheered us on.  And thank you to all the men and women in all branches of the armed forces for your service to our country!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rockstar Weekend

It was another big, fun weekend for our family unit.  We drove down to Fredericksburg, VA, where I ran the Marine Corps Half-Marathon, and where we all achieved rockstar-status.

  • I got my sub-2 hour half-marathon, by 0:58 seconds.  My goal was sub-2:05, but when I realized I was on-course for a sub-2 hour time, I pushed.  I am super happy with my time, and am allowing myself rockstar-status for the rest of the day.  Which basically means I'm not doing the dishes.
  • Nugget was a rockstar the whole trip.  He ate well, drank well and slept well, although apparently he did need a little pick-me up this morning.  He also showed me proper stretching technique.

Pouding a cup'o'joe (don't worry, its empty).

'Ama, let me show you proper stretching technique.

  • DJ Research was a rockstar trip coordinator, coach, cheerleader and hubby (he's doing laundry as I type!).  As we drove the course the day before the race, he not only advised how to run each uphill and downhill, but also reminded me to run on the flattest portion of the roads (something I would not have thought about).  We also talked about how I would fuel during the race, which was key.  He met me at three different points during the race, and made sure I stretched and hydrated enough post-race.  He was probably the biggest rockstar of the weekend.

It was a great weekend, but I'm exhausted now and want to curl up on the couch with the DJ, have a beer, and watch Unbreakable for the 8th time.  Race recap coming soon.  I just wanted to say: I did it!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon: Post-Race/Enjoying the Weekend

Day one can be found here.
The race as a spectator can be found here.

We enjoyed the post-race festivities for a while as DJ Research stretched/recovered and Nugget ate rocks.

Rocks are high in protein, he told me.
Um, no, I told him.
This is the first time we have ever stuck around for post-race festivities.  Usually the celebration area is too crowded, and we'd rather stretch and reflect on the race without getting run over.  But with this race being on the smaller side, we could have our little corner and still enjoy the festivities.

After we had our fill, we headed into town to find some grub.  Li'l Nugget, who had been such a trooper all morning, fell asleep just as we were pulling into the restaurant parking lot.  So out we pulled and back on the road we went, driving around until Nugget woke up (because a day without naptime is not a fun day for anyone).  We decided to check out nearby Sheperdstown, which is also home to Two Rivers Treads, the exclusively minimalist running shoe store.

Admittedly, a chance to visit to Two Rivers Treads was a big impetus to sign up for this race.  The DJ was really on the fence about it, but I kept whispering in his ear, "C'mon!  It looks beautiful!  Its a trail race!  We can visit Two Rivers Treads!"  I'm not sure if it was the latter that sold him, but it was high on the list for me!

But before we got to this mecca, we stopped at a little cafe for lunch.  We asked for garden seating, and I was a little surprised when the hostess led us to a table for two, when we were clearly a party of and a half.  We quickly realized, though, that a high chair would not work on the rocky garden floor, so Nugget just sat in our laps, and at the end of the meal he commenced his weekend activity guess it...rock-throwing.

The meal was good but not remarkable.  What was remarkable was DJ Research's beer, an amber ale from a local brewery called Mountain State Brewery.  We tried to buy a six-pack from a local wine/beer store, but discovered that the beer is only sold in kegs.  Not that we couldn't drink a whole keg, but the image of driving home with a 1.5-year-old strapped in the backseat and a beer keg strapped to the roof of the car seemed like we were asking for our own reality show.

After lunch we finally made it to Two Rivers Treads. I was hoping to not only find a pair of minimalist shoes, but also learn more about how a shoe should fit.  At my local running store a few weeks ago, I was told that shoes should fit like a glove.  And thats what I've heard all my life.  But at Two Rivers Treads I was told differently.

My shoe size is normally 9.5, so I tried on a pair of the Innov-8 230s in that size.  Too small.  My toes were practically touching the front of the shoe.  So I tried on a size 10.  I thought they fit well; my toes weren't scrunched against the top or sides of the shoe.  But the sales rep said they were still too small--particularly too narrow--and encouraged me to try a 10.5.  He said that when you walk/run, your foot expands as you make contact with the ground, so you want a shoe that will give your foot this freedom.  Also, as I run in minimalist shoes, my foot will flatten, causing my toes to splay out naturally, AND my foot will thicken because my muscles will be getting stronger.  I want a running shoe that will accommodate these changes.  

Thickened feet. (via NRC)
 Here's a great article on proper shoe fit.

So I tried the Innov-8 230s in a 10.5.  The felt wide in the toe-box, but not uncomfortably so.  I ran a bit on the store's treadmill and my feet felt great.  The added width did not effect my gait at all.  I also tried on a Merrell shoe (can't remember which, but it didn't fit and they didn't have the next size up) and the Saucony Kinvara 2 & 3.  I love the look of the Sauconys, but the sales rep admitted that they are only minimalist shoes in the sense that they have a 4mm drop (the differential between the heel and the toe is only 4 mm).  Otherwise they have a lot of cushioning, so you can't really feel the ground.  They are a good transition shoe, and I might purchase them for long runs and use my Innov-8s for short runs as I get stronger as a runner (the Innov-8 230s have a 6mm drop, but very little cushioning, so you can really feel the ground.  In fact, I find heel striking in them while walking gets uncomfortable after a while).

Saucony Kinvaras (source)
You need shades to wear these!

I bought the Innov-8s as my Mother's Day gift for myself. I haven't run in them yet, though, so I'll let you know how that goes.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Harper's Ferry. It's a cute town. I look forward to returning.

All in all a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half Marathon Race Recap: A Spectator's Perspective

Day one of our weekend can be found here.

When Nugget and I joined DJ Research at the start area, the first thing I noticed were the other runners.  "Wow, these people are fit!" I told the DJ.  He admitted he has been checking out their legs to see who might be strong on the hills (it was a very hilly course) and noticed that just about everyone had nice legs.  What a weird thing to be scouting.  He's so weird. :)

As we were having this conversation, guess who pulled into the parking lot?  Dr. Mark Cucuzella!  Dr. Mark is a guru on barefoot/minimalist running, and the guru behind the super informative website Natural Running Center.  Check out his video on barefoot running and running form:

We've listened to Dr. Mark on Trail Runner Nation podcast, and the guy is just a wealth of knowledge.  He also owns a running shoe store called Two River Treads that is an exclusively minimalist running store (we stopped by later that day, but more on that later).  So this was a total celebrity sighting for us!

Dr. Mark was not only the race director for this race (Two River Treads was a sponsor), he was also running the race.  Er...correction...he was also leading the runners during the race.  He was at the front of the pack with two other runners the whole race.  And when I say front of the pack, I mean waaaaaaaay ahead of everybody else.  I got a pic of him heading out to the start line:

I only follow celebrities with good running form.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, this race was very low key.  There was a little confusion as to when the race was starting and where the start line was, but soon a guy with a fog horn led everyone down the street to a long piece of duct tape across the road--aka the start line--and it was all sorted out.  The fog horn blew and they were off!

Not a very good pic, but there they go!
DJ Research started at the back of the pack (BOP).

This race was pretty awesome for spectators.  The first three miles are an out and back through what we later discovered were Civil War battlefields.  Then the runners head into the town of Harperʻs Ferry before turning around in the middle of town and heading back to the finish line (also at River Riders).  So there were more opportunities to see your favorite runner than most races, a perk I definitely appreciated.

Nugget and I hung out at the start line waiting for the runners to pass through on their way into town.  There was a lot of rock throwing (which is not really throwing but more rock-leaving-hand-falling-straight-down-to-ground.  He is not yet two, after all).  And lots of banging on stone walls.  And some running down short hills (future mountain runner maybe?  Oh wait, that would be running uphill).  And then the runners came back through.  Nugget enjoyed clapping for the runners, mostly because he really loves to clap.

Cheering the runners! Clapping is fun!

When DJ Research came through he was now in the middle of the pack (MOP) and would stay towards the front of MOP for the rest of the race.  He was smiling and looking great!  We cheered him on as he tackled his first big hill of the race.

First of many crazy hills.

We then headed into town to catch the DJ at the turnaround.  At the suggestion of one of the volunteers (everyone was so nice!), we parked at the 7-11 in front of which the turnaround was positioned.  The leaders arrived just as I was getting Nugget into his stroller.  We made ourselves comfortable and cheered for the runners as they made their way to the midpoint. 

Cheering and catching up on some reading.

One of the things that I loved about this race was that the roads were not closed.  About 3 miles of the race was in town, so runners were racing alongside--or more usually in front of--vehicles for a little less than a quarter of the race.  Volunteers were positioned around the course to direct traffic and ensure no one--runners or drivers--got injured.  There were also a lot of turn-offs were drivers could take another route.  Really gave the race a small town feel: it was just another day in Harper's Ferry.  I thought that was really awesome.

Cars and runners co-existing in
 harmony on the road.

Nugget's energy was beginning to wane, so we headed back to River Riders and hung out in the car for a while, listening to music and enjoying some snacks.  After about 20 minutes, Nugget was ready to romp around again, so we walked to the finish area, thinking that we had about 10-15 more minutes before DJ Research came running in.  As we're walking up the hill, I notice someone who looks and runs almost exactly like my husband.  Wait, a minute!  IT IS MY HUSBAND!  DJ Research came blazing into the finish line, finishing 15th in his age group and 33rd overall.  Holy smokes!  When did he get so fast?!

I've asked the DJ to write a guest post about his race, so that race recap will be right around the corner.  Right, Hun?

We enjoyed the post-race festivities, including pizza, oranges and live music.  And unlimited rock throwing (that might not have been an official post-race activity, but Nugget was sure into it).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon Weekend, Day One

Our little family unit spent this past weekend in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia where DJ Research ran the Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon.  So much to cover that I'm going to make this a three-post series.  Yup, this is a fancy-schmancy blog!

Even though I didn't run this weekend, I thought the race was awesome, awesome, awesome.  In fact, the whole weekend was awesome, awesome, awesome.  DJ Research and I both agreed that the weekend felt like a much-needed vacation.

We departed for Harper's Ferry right after work on Friday, and got caught in the usual Friday rush-hour traffic.  It wasn't too bad--we've definitely been stuck in worse--but it did add about 45 minutes to our drive.  I thought Nugget was just a little whiny; DJ Research thought Nugget was VERY whiny, probably because the DJ is not versed in toddler car-ride etiquette due to the fact that his commute is toddler-free.  Regardless, we arrived in Harper's Ferry in just under two hours, and made our way to River Riders for packet pick-up.

As we would discover, the race was really low key (frankly, this is one of the reasons why I loved the race).  The packet consisted of race bib and a white technical Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon shirt.  We've run races before where we've received a bag full of goodies and even a race hoodie, so by comparison the HFHM packet is a little lite.  But this race isn't about the swag, its about the race.  And I thought it was pretty awesome that the race shirt was a tech shirt.

At this point it was pushing 7:00pm, and we were all pretty hungry.  Nugget was sick of his car seat.  So we opted to have dinner at a nearby mexican restaurant.  Turns out Nugget isn't a big fan of mexican food (I hope he changes his mind because its one of my favorite cuisines!).  He is, however, a huge fan of sugar packets, dumping salt on the table, and dunking his hand in tall cups of ice water.  Luckily, I had packed pasta his lunchbox, so he ate that for dinner while DJ Research had a fajita and I had my chicken chimichanga.  Heaven.

One of the perks of not racing:
you can eat whatever you want!

We then checked in to our swanky motel.  I thought I was smart in booking a room with two double beds so that we could use one bed to stage our stuff/DJ Research's race gear and one bed to sleep in (obviously).  Nugget would be in his pack'n'play right alongside our bed.  At least that was the plan.  DJ Research and I unpacked and started getting ready for bed while Nugget did laps around the room, pushing the luggage rack and wearing my visor.  It was pushing 9:30 at this point, waaaaay past his bedtime.  You would think the kid would be tired.  Nope.

Nugget on lap 5(?) around the motel room.

Finally, lights out and Nugget is asleep by 10:30pm.

At 1:30am, he woke up screaming.

Although we were able to calm him down enough to stop screaming, he was very nervous and uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment of the motel room.  He kept pointing at the door and saying, "I'm done! I'm done!" indicating that he wanted to go home.  I tried to console him myself so that DJ Research could get some sleep for his race, but it became clear that Nugget wanted the both of us, thrusting himself into the arms of the other at his whim.  Eventually the offer of cuddling on our bed with some of his favorite books enticed him to relax and allowed us to finally sit down (Nugget insisted that we pace the room while holding him).  Around 3:30 Nugget finally drifted off to sleep...smack in the middle of our double bed.  For the next two-and-a-half hours, DJ Research and I teetered on the edge of our respective sides of the bed...and on the brink of dreamland.  

Despite the rough night, the DJ said he felt surprisingly energetic the next morning.  I felt pretty good myself.  Nugget awoke just as I was about to pick him up, so we whisked him into the car and headed back to River Riders, where the race would start and finish.  Once there, Nugget and I enjoyed breakfast in the car, and I performed the first of many backseat diaper changes.  We then joined DJ Research near the starting line, where he was warming up for his race.

Next post: Race Recap, a Spectator's Perspective

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Good Mother's Day

[Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon recap coming soon.  Quick summary: It was bleeping awesome.]

Mother's Day is quickly turning out to be my favorite holiday of the year (thanks Hallmark!)  This is only my second Mother's Day as a mom, but both years have rocked hard, and I'm liking the way this holiday is trending.

The day started with an early morning run in the historic town of Harper's Ferry.

Goooooood Morning, Harper's Ferry!

I ran on some trail for the first time in about a month, and it felt oh so good.  Loved the sound of gravel under my feet, and brief chats with local wildlife

Gooooood Morning, Ms. Deer!

And the scenery around Harper's Ferry is just so beautiful, especially early in the morning.

Gooooooood Morning, Morning!

Don't worry, I am not usually this chipper in the morning.  In fact, I'm not usually chipper at all.  But today I just felt like being EXTRA cheesy.

When I returned from my run, DJ Research and Nugget were already up and ready for breakfast, so we headed down to partake in the complimentary continental breakfast at our hotel.  I thought it was awesome, but I admit that I do have a weakness for free food.  DJ Research was not impressed.  Apparently breakfast gave Nugget a kanak-attack (food coma) because he passed out almost immediately on the car ride home.

Eating breakfast is exhausting.

My in-laws had been in town for a few days, so they stopped by before heading home this evening.  We had a nice picnic at the nearby park and then went for a walk around the lake.  Nugget surprisingly walked almost the entire way, frequently stopping to pick up rocks and sticks and throw them into the nearby brush, which is seriously the most exciting thing in the world to do.

Starting our hike

Thanks to our very active day, Nugget passed out in his crib (he was very happy to be sleeping in his own bed again) by 6:30, and I am now chillin' with the DJ and enjoying some brewskis.

I'm enjoying the Avalanche Amber.
Hoppy beers are not for me.

But before he fell asleep, I asked Nugget for a good night kiss.  He looked at me, then wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me the biggest hug I have ever received from him.  I could feel the strength of his entire little body in that hug.  BEST MOTHER'S DAY GIFT EVER.

Oh, and this gift was also pretty awesome.  Introducing my new running shoes, the Innov-8 F-Lite 230s:

I think they're rather ugly, but they fit well and will be a great to run in as I transition to natural running.  It will be back to basics after my half-marathon this Sunday.  Yup, this summer is all about form.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommas out there.  I hope you had a fantastic day!  You deserve it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Busy Weekend

I really should be in bed now, or at the very least packing, because tomorrow we leave for Harper's Ferry West Virginia, where DJ Research will be running a half-marathon.  He is super excited, and I'm super excited for him; this will be his first "trail" race.  Granted, I'm sure the trail-purists out there will scoff at this route, but considering all of our races up to this point have been purely road, and the Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon incorporates some trail, I'm going to consider this a trail run for him (although I think he would disagree.  Too bad.  This is my blog. :)

Nugget is super excited too, although he doesn't know it yet.

I've never been to Harper's Ferry, but I have been to West Virginia.  The drive was beautiful but very hilly.  I hope our little putt-putt can make it again.

Running to Recovery 2

DJ Research is pacing behind me, reminding me that I need to go to sleep because we have a big weekend ahead, so I'm going to make this post short and sweet.

I ran 10 miles tonight to assess how my foot would perform on the run, and how it would recover.  I am happy to report that I felt GREAT.  My pace was slower than I had hoped, but baby steps.  I'm just happy that I didn't keel over at mile 5.  Upon returning home, I immediately had my chocolate milk, stretched (I know there are opposing views on this issue, but I gotta say, post-run stretching works for me), jumped on the foam roller (ok, not literally), and then iced and elevated.  Right now my foot feels great.  We'll see what happens in the morning.

I will be doing short runs for the next week--nothing over 5 miles--and also some spinning, in preparation for my half marathon on the 20th.  YES!  I'm so happy I will be able to run this race!! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Running to Recovery 1

My foot felt great on Friday, so I decided to go for a little run on Saturday.  The goal was 3 miles, even if my foot hurt (due to tendonitis) because I wanted to see how I recovered after that distance.

I started slow.  And I mean S-L-O-W.  It had been so long since I last run, I actually couldn't remember how to run.  My footstrike was sloppy, and I found myself limping although my foot didn't hurt that much.  But I kept at it, and ran 3.3 miles.  I don't think I ever found my stride during this run.

As soon as I got home, I threw back a glass of chocolate milk, and started stretching.  It was evident from the very beginning that my right leg, particularly my right calf, was super-duper tight.  As was my right hamstring.  Well, whaddya know?  Its my right foot that giving me problems!  Perhaps my injury and tension are related?  Hmm....

After stretching, I spent some time with the foam roller, rolling out those terrible knots in my right calf.  Oh my gosh, SO PAINFUL.  I am whimpering like a little kid the whole time (surprisingly, Nugget did not notice the pain I was in and proceeded to sit on my lap while I was on the foam roller.  His extra weight actually helped, I think).  Once I located the knots, I switched to a tennis ball to really target those areas.  At this point, there were literally tears in my eyes.

I then iced and elevated my ankle, and then put on my compression socks.  Result? No pain AND no tightness.  My foot felt great!

So today I decided to go for a slightly longer run.  The goal was 5 miles.  I once again started slow and was happy to discover that my first few steps were pain free!  I still couldn't remember how to run, so it took a while to find my stride, and at that point I could feel my ankle again.  I was feeling really good (though still running really slow), and pushed to three miles before turning around.  My total mileage for this run was 6.68.  By the end, I felt my gait was back to normal, though I could still feel a little tug in my ankle.

Once home, I followed the same routine: chocolate milk, stretching, foam roller/massage, ice and elevate, though the last two steps were rushed since we were headed out the door for last minute errands.  To compensate, I took two Motrin.  My foot feels great, though it does seem like it wants to tighten up.  I'm going to try another massage session before bed tonight and see how it feels in the morning.

These runs were very encouraging.  I'm going to do one more long run of 8-10 miles this week, and see how my foot feels and recovers.  If all goes well, I will definitely run the Marine Corps Half-Marathon on the 20th.  Fingers crossed!

And because I realize all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl, I leave you with a video of a trend I'm pretty sure I started years ago.  I'm so glad its finally catching on.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Embrace the Spin

While I'm in recovery, I'm spinning until I feel confident enough to run again (which hopefully will be soon).  I'm not a fan of the bike, but like I've said, its such a great workout, I have to keep at it.

The persistence is paying off.  I am actually starting to like spinning.  And I think that its only going to get better now that I have my...dun-dun-dun...Special Spinning Playlist!

I used to run with music, but have since stopped due to safety concerns.  Sometimes I miss my music.  I think thats one reason I'm appreciating my spin sessions more; I can workout with music again.  To those runners who listen to music responsibly while running, more power to you.  To those runners who blast your music while running in the middle of the road, get out of the road or I'm going to run you over.  With my car.

Here's my Special Spinning Playlist:

I like this musical progression because it inspires a gradual physical progression of riding up steeper and steeper hills. Or at least thats how I ride to it.  By the time I get to We Are Young, I am riding at the most difficult resistance at a very slow pace.  For some reason I have yet to understand, I LOVE that feeling.  I feel like I am pouring heart, soul and guts into the ride at that point.  It takes all my self-control not to roar like a wild animal.  I feel so raw.  And so amazing.

At what point in your workout do you feel the most amazing?  Does music help get you there?

New Breakfast Fave

Eating healthy is an important part of running.  Ok, its an important part of being alive.  Yet I find it so difficult to do.  I'm not a big junk food addict, nor am I big snacker, but I am a total carb glutton.  And I don't really eat my veggies.  Plus in a pinch, I would probably opt for a snickers bar over a handful of almonds.

Baby steps.  I'm changing things where I can, when I can.  I find a new healthy food I  like and I try to incorporate it into my diet consistently before looking for the next healthy snack.  If I try to change too much too quickly, I get frustrated and eat a whole bag of chocolate.

For the past week I've been trying a new yogurt, one that I made up and mix up myself.  Its not difficult nor is it particularly inventive, just something that my body was craving.  So far, I like it.

The recipe is this:
  • a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt (I like Chobani)
  • a handful of frozen blueberries (also make an awesome snack by themselves)
  • a couple squirts of honey
  • a pinch of ground flaxseed
  • an itty-bitty drop of minced ginger
My measurements are scientific, I know.

Heat the frozen blueberries in the microwave for about two minutes (you want them kinda mushy, or at least I do).  Add honey to taste, and the tiniest little bit of ginger (seriously.  A little bit is too much.  You just want a tiny bit, unless you are a ginger junkie).  Combine the flaxseed and the yogurt.  Add the blueberry-honey-ginger mix.  Enjoy!

For us this is cheaper than buying blueberry yogurt because we use almost all these ingredients for other dishes as well (flaxseed pancakes, yum!).  

What homemade snacks do you enjoy?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Podiatrist vs. Podiatrist

Two weeks ago I promised you a podiatrist story, and I know you have been holding your breath, waiting for it.  Well, wait no more, because not only am I about to deliver my long-promised podiatrist story, but I am also going to tell you a second story about my recent appointment with a new podiatrist!  (I bet you feel like youʻve won the lottery!)

To recap: I hurt my foot on my long run a few Sundays ago, and was hobbling around all week before I finally decided to see a podiatrist that Friday.  In the meantime, I had been icing my foot and keeping it elevated.  On the Wednesday of that week I stumbled upon this video that dealt with a different yet similar foot injury.  Feeling sort of desperate for improvement, I tried massaging my calf in the same way, and what do you know?  My foot felt significantly better!  I was still hobbling, but my range of motion improved dramatically.  Off to the podiatrist I went.

The podiatrist did not look like this, though isnʻt he cute?
Netsuke Podiatrist via

First off, I have to say, she was very nice.  She made me feel comfortable and at ease as soon as she walked into the room.  I told her what was wrong, and that my foot felt a bajillion times better because of the massage, though it was still a little tight.  After inspecting my foot, she said she thinks I may have stressed my peroneal tendons, and based on my research, I had to agree (because, obviously, Dr. Google is my PCP).  Her prescription? Orthotics.

I guess I was kind of expecting her to prescribe orthotics, but I was surprised at how quickly she decided that was the solution.  This was my first foot injury in my adult life.  I donʻt have problems walking, and until this point, I havenʻt had problems running.  Why on earth would I need orthotics?  I did tell her about my minimalist shoes (to which she responded, "Why are you running in those? Because of the trend?"), but rather than suggest a more supportive shoe, she suggested orthotics.  Hm.  I guess thats how podiatrists make money.

Peroneal Tendons.  Foot anatomy is fascinating!
Who knew?  via

I politely declined any offer to fit me for custom orthotics, and left the office.  I was feeling good anyway, and needed to focus on my upcoming race, which I ran well for myself.  My foot did well during the race, but not so well after.  It tightened up again almost immediately, and I was hobbling all week.  Icing, elevating and massage only helped so much.  I was hobbling pretty bad.  It didnʻt hurt as much as it was really, really tight.

I decided to see another podiatrist, one who is affiliated with a local running club.  I told him the whole story, and mentioned the orthotic prescription of the other podiatrist, to which he said, "Stand up.  Ok, sit down."  (Apparently he was checking to see if I had a stable stance.  Since I do, he didnʻt recommend orthotics).  When I told him about my minimalist shoes, he asked, "What are they?" and nodded that he knew which ones I was talking about.  His diagnosis? Peroneal tendonitis.  His prescription?  3 options: 1) rest, 2) physical therapy, 3) take it slow.  When I asked if I could still run my half-marathon in three weeks, he said cross-train and listen to my body.  Run if I feel good.  Donʻt over-train.

He recognized that I ran too hard, too soon in my minimalist shoes, and recommended I take more time to ease into them (like 2 years, as opposed to the 2 months I had been running in them).  He himself runs in minimalist shoes, usually for his shorter, easy runs.  He also recommended I not run in minimalist shoes until my injury is completely healed.

Happy Little Piggies! via

Hallelujah!  I am so happy to find a podiatrist I can work with! (though hopefully I never have to visit him again).  

I am opting for Option #3, and taking it slow.  Today was my first day back in the gym, and though the workout was a little boring, it was still great to be exercising again!  

As for my half-marathon, Iʻm going to do easy runs and lots of cycling, and re-assess myself a few days before the race.  If my foot is still acting up, no race for me.  Iʻll be bummed, but thereʻs so much I want to do over the next few months, its not worth jeopardizing my summer just for this race.

Stay tuned!

Whats the longest its taken you to recover from an injury?  How did you stay active while injured?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pictures in the Meanwhile

Sorry for the silence. I've been in a sorry state around here. My foot has kept me hobbling since Sunday, I tweaked my back on Tuesday, and have been sick since Thursday! Yup, total whammy week for me.

But on I'm the up and will be posting soon. Lots to catch up on!

In the meanwhile, here are pictures of Nugget and his milkshake (technically it was for the three of us, but someone didn't get that memo).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reality Check: Lessons Learned from My GW Parkway Classic Race

I ran a good race (for me) this weekend, but there is always something to learn.  Here are my takeaways from the 2012 GW Parkway Classic 10-miler:

Refuel before you need to refuel:  My original plan was to take a Clif Shot Gel at the 5-mile mark.  But when I passed the 5-mile post, I was feeling really good so I changed my mind and decided to take the gel at the 7-mile mark for added boost at the end of the race.  Bad idea.  By mile 5.5, I was spiraling downward fast.  I took my gel and had some Gatorade, and ran miles 6 & 7 faster.  (I am wondering though, can I train myself to go without fuel for longer periods of time?  Or is that unadvisable?  Hmmm...)

My fuel of choice this race via  ClifBar

Know your limits:  I told myself that I would push really hard through miles 8 & 9, but I didn't have enough in me to sustain a push that long.  Not to mention I completely forgot about running mile 10.  Instead, I should have stayed on pace through miles 8 & 9, and pushed hard at mile 10.  I possibly could have ran every mile sub-9:00, and finished with a better time.  It would also help if I learned how to do math.

via SparkPeople

Smile!: I'm making this a running goal, both in races and during my regular runs.  I try to smile as much as possible when I run (yes, to the point of looking like a crazed maniac) because it reminds me that I really do enjoy being out there torturing my body pushing my limits, and I feel that reminding myself of that makes me a better runner.  And its not just me.  Ultrarunner Krissy Moehler believes that too.


What lessons have you learned from a race?

How do you develop your race strategies?  Through experience?  With a coach?  By the seat of your pants?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

GW Parkway Classic Recap

I ran the 28th George Washington Parkway Classic 10-miler this morning.  It is put on by Pacers, a running store local to the DC area.  The race was executed flawlessly.  But before we get to the race, lets talk about getting our little family unit to the race.


The race was held in Alexandria, VA, about an hour from our house.  It is a point-to-point course, meaning the start and finish lines are (in this case) 10 miles apart.  Buses were provided so runners could park at the finish line and get shuttled to the start.  Not to mention, the start line was at Mt. Vernon and there was no parking available nearby.  The race details encouraged runners to get to the buses by 6:30, with the strict warning that the last bus would leave promptly at 7:00 (the race started at 8:00am).  

With this in mind, I told the hubs that I wanted to leave our house by 5:00, so that in the event we hit traffic into Alexandria, the likelihood of me getting to the buses by 6:30 was still high.  Which meant I needed to wake up by 4:15.  I guess I was really nervous about this race, because I woke up at 3:45.

I ate a leisurely breakfast of a banana, two pieces of raisin-walnut toast with almond butter and a cup of coffee.  To get me pumped, I read Born to Run (absolutely loving this book, but I'll talk about it once I'm finished). The hubs was downstairs by 4:30.  I got dressed, gathered last minute items, and loaded everything into the car while the Hubs grabbed Nugget.

Ready to race!

 The kid was amazing.  He didn't cry or fuss, and he seemed eager to be going on an adventure so early in the morning.  His two demands: juice and music.  Once he had both, he was golden.  Sadly, he didn't fall asleep AT ALL on the hour drive to Alexandria, which caught up to him (and us) a little later in the day.  But he was still a trooper.

We encountered ZERO traffic on the way into Alexandria.  Such is the curse of over-planning.

I kissed my cheering section good luck, boarded a bus to the start and off I went!  I guess the Hubs found a great parking spot near the finish, so they just hung out in the car for an hour (which is probably Nugget's favorite thing to do anyway).  

My cheering section staying dry until race time.

Complimentary coffee, bananas, bagels and water were available the start, as well as Vita Coco Coconut Water.  I had a sample of Pure and found the taste slightly odd (you'd think it would be in my blood to love this stuff, right?  Considering I am half-hawaiian.  Too long I've been here in haole land) yet very refreshing.   Definitely put an extra spring in my step.  Will be checking that product out for future runs.  

Complimentary coffee shots!

A half-hour before the run I also had two Clif Shot Bloks.  Today I had one orange flavor and one mountain berry flavor.  I enjoy the mountain berry, I LOVE the orange flavor.  These things really work for me, plus the orange flavor totally reminds me of the Tomoe Ame candy that I devoured as a kid, minus the dissolving rice paper.  Always puts a smile on my face. :)

The weather was cold, drizzly, and windy.  Free heat sheets were on hand and, omg, those things work.  The hour-and-a-half wait was bearable due to these awesome amenities.  Pacers knows know to put on a race!

Due to my foot, I was changing my race goal from sub-9:15 minute/mile to sub-10:00 minute/mile because I didn't want to push too hard.  I positioned myself at the start line accordingly.

Hindsight being 20/20, I could have started in an earlier corral.  Que Sera.  Was still a good race.

The Race

The first mile was pretty much downhill.  Not a steep downhill, but enough to make it difficult to find my rhythm from the git-go.  People were passing me left and right, and I had to fight with myself to reign it in; if I pushed too hard at the beginning, I would burn out and/or injure myself.  By 0.8 miles or so, I hit my stride and gained some ground.  I ran mile 1 in 9:56 and was pleased that I was 4 seconds faster than target.  I was feeling good so I challenged myself to run mile 2 in 9:00, and was able to run it in 8:45!  Thats a total "Hell Yeah!" moment for me.  I was pushing hard, but not too hard; I felt I could sustain this pace for the rest of the race, so thats what I set out to do.  I wasn't entirely successful, but I'm happy that I was able to maintain a sub-9:00 pace for most of the race:

Mile 1:  9:56
Mile 2:  8:45
Mile 3:  8:58
Mile 4:  8:55
Mile 5:  8:51
Mile 6:  8:48
Mile 7:  8:51

I told myself I would take a Cliff Shot Gel at 5 miles, but I was feeling pretty good so I revised my plan and opted to take it at mile 7 for a boost through miles 8 &9.  Bad idea.  By mile 5.5, I could feel my energy levels plummeting quickly.  I have heard/read that you should refuel before you actually need to refuel, but seeing as how I'm new to this running scene, I wasn't sure at what point that was for me.  Turns out, 5 miles is about right.  As soon as I felt my body drop, I whipped out my gel.  Gave me a good kick plus we hit an aid station with Gatorade, so I think that also helped (as you can see above, my pace improved through miles 5 & 6).  

Embarrassing admission: I can't do math on a sunny day in June, and I sure as hell can't do math halfway into a 10-mile race.  I was planning on gunning it at mile 8, thinking I only had two more miles to run.  I COMPLETELY FORGOT that you actually need to run the 10th mile.  So I was mentally preparing myself for a race that was a mile shorter than the race I was actually running.  Pure genius.

Mile 7 was a bit tough.  I wanted to kick but told myself to reel it in because it was too early.  I was trying to stay focused and prepare myself for the kick through miles 8 & 9 (because I forgot about mile 10), when I saw a mile post up ahead that says...11?  No that can't be right.  I'm not wearing my glasses, so things in the distance look blurry.  Does it say...1?  That also can't be right.  It must say 7.  WHAT?!?!  I thought we already passed the 7 mile post.  I thought I was already running mile 7!!  Oh no!  I'm screwed!  I'm mentally one mile ahead of my body!  "I can't do this!," I thought.  "I should just die.  Or throw myself into the Potomac.  Or maybe less dramatically, just curl up in a ball on the side of the road.  Or just shut-up and keep running."  My mind was all over the place at this point.  Luckily, there was a chipper couple next to me who noticed that it was a 1 mile post...for the 5K earlier that morning.  So turns out my body and mind were still together, on pace.

But only just.  My kick at mile 8 quickly fell apart when I saw the hill that I was fast approaching.  The course was relatively flat with just a few rolling hills, so this was the first significant incline we had seen all race.  Damn you race directors!  But it really it was my fault for not having paid more attention to the race details.  At any rate, my body could not sustain my increased pace up that hill, so I had to dial it back considerably.  We also hit another shorter but steeper hill in mile 9 and while I ran that one strong, my body was pretty fatigued.  

Mile 8:  9:05
Mile 9:  9:02

And then I had to run the mile I completely forgot.  The final mile was a flat straightaway, and I wanted to finish strong.  I picked up my pace considerably, but couldn't sustain it the whole way through (note to self: practice mile sprints!) and ended up slowing about a quarter-mile out.  Still, despite the fact that I couldn't run at that increased pace for the whole mile, it was my fastest mile of the race, and I think I finished strong:

Mile 10:  8:40

I saw DJ Research and Nugget as I was closing in on the finish, which made me so happy.

I used the RunKeeper app on my iphone while running, and I think the stats from the app are different from what the Pacers timing device logged.  According to their device, I finished in 1:31:31 with an average pace of 9:10 minute/mile.  I'll take it.

Rank: 2206 overall / 362 in Age Group (F, 30-39) 
[out of 4822 entrants overall / 1058 entrants in my age group]


We didn't stick around for the post-race activities due to the weather and the fact that Nugget was getting cranky because he was so tired.  He put up a half-hearted fight when the hubs strapped him in and promptly fell asleep as soon as we turned the car on.  Woke up immediately upon getting home, so not much of a nap either today.  He's still bursting with energy though.

If I may say so, I'm very proud that I was able to not only beat my amended goal for this race, but beat my original goal of sub-9:15m/m by 5 seconds, despite not being 100% today.  I think running a 10-miler sub-9:00m/m is not beyond my reach, and I look forward to training and pushing myself to meet that.

Still want to share my podiatrist appointment with you, but will have to post on that later.  Blogging in exhausting!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Game on!

Sorry I've been silent this week. It's been busy, plus I've been sulking since I haven't been able to run until today. It went well and I will still be running the GW Parkway Classic 10-miler tomorrow. Though the goal has now changed to "finishing without getting injured," so I will be running much slower than desired. Still, I will be so happy to be out there.

I saw a podiatrist this week and thought the appointment interesting for a slew of reasons. More on that later this week.

Right now I've got to turn in since I have to be up at 4:15. This race is kinda a logistical nightmare for us (more on this later too). I should have read the race details before signing up. That's what I get for being too eager. It will still be an adventure.

The weather is supposed to be in the low 50s, windy and rainy. I'm ready, even if I'm really not.

Race outfit.  

Water resistant jacket options: $30 or $0.25

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Still Recovering

Yesterday I decided to take the day off.  Totally, completely, no workout.  Instead, I gave myself a heart attack:

Chili Mac'n'Cheese.  So bad for you.  So yum.

I ate that entire portion, and was so disgusted with myself at the end.  But it was oh so good.  I can't figure out how to rotate the image, so you'll have to rotate your computer screen.  Or your head.  That might be easier. 

I'm still hobbling around today, almost 4 days after my long run.  I'm concerned, so I've made an appointment with a podiatrist.  Hopefully this podiatrist will be better than the podiatrist that my husband went to see, who responded with incredulity to my husband's report of his recent run, "What?!  You ran seven miles?! With your feet?!??"  Ok, maybe he didn't say that last bit, but thats how my husband tells the story, and its so funny.  The podiatrist I am going to see has ran a marathon and handful of local races, plus she hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro with a broken foot.  I'm taking that to mean she's not afraid to push her boundaries, and not that she didn't know her foot was broken (despite all my husband's joking).

Hopefully this doc can tell me whats wrong.  I know what I did wrong--went too hard too soon--but I want to know what I injured, how long it will take to heal, and less importantly, if I can run my 10-mile race on Sunday.  Ok, maybe that last bit is the real reason I made an appointment...because I've already paid the fee and picked up the shirt!!!!  I don't want to DNS (do not start), but I'm bracing myself for the news that I will have to rest, rest, rest.  

And I find it so ironic that all of the podcasts I listened to today and all the blog posts I read have the same theme: Don't think you are superhuman.  Listen to your body and know when to pull back and know when to rest.  Ok, running gods!  I get it!  Please let me run again!!  

Le sigh.  Seriously though.  I do get it.  I hope I haven't done any major damage, but I am definitely taking it slower from here on out.  I recognize that I am not superhuman, even though I have the cape that suggests otherwise.