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Long Beach 1/2 Marathon Race Report – Part Deux

13 Oct

In which our heroine almost melts but eeks out a PR

Welcome back! When last we saw our heroine, she was waking up after only about 4 hours of sleep. Yikes!

Long Beach Outfit

Yes, it's blurry. Yes, it was 4:15 am. Deal.

I had laid out all of my gear the night before. When I thought  I was running the full marathon, I was worried I’d still be running when the Giants’ game started. I’m one of those crazy superstitious people who thinks that they can affect the outcome of a professional sporting event by wearing or failing to wear certain clothes. So I knew I had to wear a Giants shirt and I finally found a Giants’ shirt that wasn’t cotton (kids large) – scoured every Target in the tri-state area for that baby. Once I realized how warm it was going to be, I threw a tank top on underneath. I figured if I got too hot, I could always take one shirt off. I also opted for a Giants visor. In general I don’t wear hats when I run. I’ve got a lot of hair and it gets really hot under there. For some random reason I grabbed the visor at the last minute and I’m really glad I did [see what I did there with the foreshadowing?].

oh, hey.

I grabbed 2 mini Lara bars and a Starbucks instant iced coffee and I was off. Yep. Breakfast of champions people. At least I remembered breakfast this time [I’m looking at you, PCRF 1/2 of death]. Getting to the race was relatively smooth. Unlike a lot of other runners I didn’t get stuck on the 710 largely because I got lost and didn’t take the 710. Deplorable sense of direction to the rescue! I did circle my pre-paid parking lot for about 20 minutes before realizing it was where I needed to be. Because I’m great.

I was debating back and forth between taking a Gu every 4 miles and every 5. I grabbed 3 before I left the house, figuring I could make the decision based on how I was feeling. I also decided to carry along my handheld filled with Strawberry Lemonade nuun. I don’t know if it was the smartest idea. Yes, I got more electrolytes, but I also ended up cruising through some of the water stops when I should have stopped. It was more of a security blanket than anything else – I had run all of my long runs with it and couldn’t quite imagine not having it.

As I was leaving the parking garage to head over to the start, I saw on Twitter that one of my Ragnar teammates Elisabeth had locked all of her gear in her car. Oh no! I told her I had some extra Gus she was welcome to – decision made, I was doing every 5 miles instead of every 4. I tried to catch up with her before the start but got caught in the obscenely long porta-potty lines. Luckily I was able to catch up with Lis and Heather (another one of the Ragnar ladies) around mile 4 and was able to give Lis my extra Gu.

So how was the actual race?

Meh. I felt really good at the beginning. Much, much too good. The energy of running in such a large crowd was great but it made me start way too fast. I knew I was going to positive split, I knew there’s no such thing as banking time but I just couldn’t help myself. I wasn’t drinking enough water but by the time I realized it, I was already well into mile 8. It was also stupidly hot and sunny on the course. I’m convinced if I hadn’t worn my visor, I would have absolutely melted. Most of the middle of the course is out along the beach path which is beautiful but provides no shade at all. Once again, the New York football Giants save the day. All hail the New York Giants! [and if you know that movie reference, please move to LA and be my best friend.]

you can't tell from this photo, but when I run I ACTUALLY look like Phoebe from Friends.

Around mile 11.5 I got a really bad knot in my right hamstring that just wouldn’t go away. I also realized that I had somehow added almost .5 miles to the course according to my Garmin. Because I’m great. My Garmin beeped 13 mile and I couldn’t even see the finish line – that was a mental killer. I did way more walkin in these last 2 miles than I’d like to admit. Add that to the list of things to work on for next time.

ugh, another 1/2 mile? really?

I eeked out a PR but considering how poorly my first 2 1/2 marathons went, that’s not saying much. Overall, I was pleased with the beginning of the run, disappointed with the end and frustrated with the heat. Still, I would definitely run Long Beach again [hopefully in cooler temperatures]. Everything from the expo to the post race space blankets (which I totally stole to use at NY) went so, so smoothly. The organizers did a tremendous job. For a race that big it was outstanding – definitely better than R’n’R LA last year!

yeah, i'm slow, it's cool.

Stay tuned for our next installment: Mistakes I made in Long Beach that I absolutely cannot make in NY.

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Long Beach Half Marathon Race Recap Part Une

12 Oct

In which our heroine eats and drinks her weight in carbs and has a mild panic attack.

I spent most of Saturday doing a whole lot of nothing. I was pretty solidly exhausted and a little bit jetlagged, so I let myself sleep in and just lounged around for most of the morning. In fact, I spent so long doing absolutely nothing that by 2pm I realized if I didn’t get my butt in gear, I wouldn’t have time to hit the expo and make my delicious carb-loving dinner with these lovely ladies.

The expo was perfectly lovely although I managed to get a bit lost on my way there (ironically enough in the very same piers that would slow Sarah & Emily the next morning). I found parking right next to the convention center which was pretty perfect. I picked up my bib and after asking around for a bit managed to downgrade from the full to the half. It was a little disappointing but I reminded myself that I was/am unbelievably lucky to be running New York in a few weeks.

From there, I headed down to Seal Beach to meet Emily, Sarah and Julie for a delicious dinner. Things that I like about these ladies:

  • They enjoy liquid carbs. I was worried that they would get all judge-y if I ordered a pre-race beer but when I got there, Em and Sarah already had ice cold brews in front of them. Excellent.
  • They didn’t judge when I ordered extra cheese on my 4 cheese pizza. A love of cheese is an essential part of all of my intimate relationships

I paused for about .5 seconds so Emily could take this picture

  • They bring their own dessert. No, seriously. Julie brought a huge bag of Halloween candy to dinner. Because she’s great.

Because he could tell we were those girls, our waiter brought us delicious, delicious chocolate wine as an aperitif (yeah, that’s a fancy word for more alcohol). I’ve actually had chocolate wine before but the other ladies hadn’t. It basically tastes like Yoohoo, but better.

This was the 437th picture we made the waiter take

After a solid 5 hour dinner I headed home to lay out my clothes and get to bed. I chugged some water and plugged in my Garmin and my iPod. As I started laying everything out, I noticed that the charging light on my IPod wasn’t on. Hoping it was just incompetence, I fiddled with it for a while but the pretty little light still wouldn’t cooperate. I tried turning it on and got nothing. Now I had a decision – go buy a new iPod or try to just use my phone. I decided not to chance it and ran over to Target. Crisis averted.

Hello, little friend

 I spent way too much time loading up my music. I had hoped to be in bed by 10 but I didn’t put the finishing touches on my master playlist (that was about 6x too long) until about 12:15am. Hoping I hadn’t completely screwed myself, I headed to bed. Seriously, it felt like I blinked and my alarm was going off. Race day was here!

Next up: Part Deux – In which our heroine has a solid race and does not die but almost melts …

Pictures shamelessly stolen from Emily

Product Review: Nuun Electrolyte Tablets

27 Sep

Now that I’ve been running longer and longer distances, I’ve found that just drinking water on my long runs isn’t quite cutting it. Here’s my problem – I really like water and I really dislike sugary drinks. I don’t drink a ton of soda or juice. And I REALLY don’t like Gatorade. By itself it’s tolerable, but when I’m running, it just makes me want to throw up. I’ve never really used it during training at all. I accidentally tried it during the PCRF 1/2 Marathon with disastrous results.

But I felt like I needed something extra during this season’s training. I was running more in the heat and it felt like I was drinking obscene amounts of water that didn’t seem to help at all. So I figured I’d give Gatorade another try. Maybe if I cut with a lot of water, I’d like it more. Nope. I went all the way down to 1/4 Gatorade and 3/4 water and I felt like I was gagging every time I drank it. It left a syrupy taste in my mouth that I just couldn’t get rid of. But I did notice that having SOMETHING did seem to help my runs a little (although it’s definitely possible it was all in my head). Enter nuun.

Hello, Lover

I had heard about nuun all over the internets [I follow a bunch of the ladies on their Hood to Coast team among other things]. I loved the idea that nuun doesn’t contain sugar. I also loved that I could carry them in the little pouch of my water bottle – that meant that I could drink regular water, a nuun-filled bottle, and then more regular water. Excellent.

Still, though, I am very poor. Being very poor, I refuse to buy anything that is not on sale. While shopping at REI with a friend the other day, I came across a sale on nuun. How awesome! I grabbed 2 packages – Strawberry Lemonade and Tangerine Ginger. I tried the Strawberry Lemonade flavor after my 5k on Sunday (I really wanted to try it out and I was too excited to wait until an actual run). It had a very, very light taste to it. I was worried that because it had no sugar, the nuun would have that diet soda flavor to it. Luckily, it didn’t at all. It tasted really light. I was a happy, happy girl.

The real test came when I tried it out on my last long run. It was great! I know I don’t drink enough water when I run (largely because I’m afraid if I stop running to refill my water bottle, I’ll just stop). During my last few long runs, I’ve noticed that my fingers have gotten pretty swollen. I was hoping that by adding electrolytes, I could avoid that. Well, mission accomplished! I started with a bottle of nuun, switched to regular water and then finished up with a bottle of nuun. 15 miles later, no swelling. Success!

Overall, the nuun was fabulous! I’m seriously thinking about carrying it with me on race day. How do you hydrate on long runs?

And don’t forget to vote for our Ragnar team name!

Going Long

15 Aug

NOTE: I am working on an “I’m back, here’s what I’ve been up to!” post but I really wanted to put my thoughts about my run this weekend on “paper” before I forgot the details. So let’s pretend that that one comes after this one. Awesome? Awesome.

Marathon training has been … interesting. I feel like it is both Week 47 and Week 2 all at the same time. When I was studying, I was getting the runs in but I wasn’t really focused on them. I finished and that was it. All things considered, I only missed 2 long runs (the weekend before the bar & the weekend after). Certainly not ideal, but much better than I thought I would do.

I had done a couple of 10 milers and they had all felt pretty good. After the Half That Shall Not Be Named, I started to get a little concerned about hip pain. Running on concrete causes some pretty not awesome pain in my hips, particularly the right one. Most of my training runs have been/will be done on concrete. This is because of a combination of weird issues I have with certain trails around LA, a general lack of access to running paths and my laziness – I like to be able to run right from my apartment. A friend of mine has issues with her knees and she switched to a run/walk plan which she said really helped her. She suggested it might help with my hips.

Now. I have mixed feelings about this. I would love to one day run an entire marathon without walking. In fact, that was my original thought with Long Beach – that my goal would be to just run the whole thing, no matter how long it took. But my hips were hurting so much after my “long” runs, that I decided to try the run/walk plan. I run a mile, then walk for 45 sec. to 1 min. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s been pretty phenomenal. I’ve been finishing my runs with almost no pain in my hips and I don’t feel like I’m going to die at the end of every long run. I’ve only been using this plan for my long runs – anything less than 5 miles, I run the whole thing. Anything less than 10, I take my walk breaks every 2 miles. So far I’ve been really satisfied with it.

Yesterday, I had a very scary 15 miles on my schedule. I knew this would be the farthest (furthest? farthest? this is why I wasn’t an english major) I’d ever run. That right there made me exceptionally nervous. I’ve also been running a lot faster than I used to and, in the back of my head, I though about the idea of checking my half marathon time. I’ve never run a “good” half. My first I was super injured and my second Shall Not Be Named. But I’ve been running really well lately, and I was curious to see just where I was. So I had all of these issues running in the back of my head.

Spoiler Alert

There’s also a ton of planning that goes into running 15 miles. Did you know that? I didn’t. At least not at first. But as I was eating my carb-y delicious mashed potatoes on Friday night, it occurred to me that I might have some problems. I couldn’t find my “long run socks” (because yes, I have “long run socks”). On last week’s 10 miler, I noticed the beginning of some chafing at my sports bra line that I wanted to stop before it started this time. And, most importantly, I was worried about hydration. I have an awesome hand held that I’ve been using that’s been getting my through my 10 milers, but only just. I’m completely out of water by the end and I didn’t want to have to run my last 5 miles without water. Because I just run on city streets, there aren’t any water fountains.

Then, genius struck (I’m not just pretty, I’m humble too). I plotted out a route that hit my gym at mile 9.5. That way, I could refill my water bottle and regroup if I had to. See, genius! Sure, there were some super monster hills that I would have to tackle in the last 3 miles, but if I absolutely had to, I’d just walk up them.I headed to bed feeling really nervous about the whole thing.

When I woke up, I had 1/2 a bagel thin with peanut butter and 1/2 a cup of coffee. I grabbed my Garmin, Vaseline-d my sports bra line (TMI? maybe.), popped in my mp3 player and headed out. It was overcast and cool, always a good sign. My first 3 miles were part of my standard weekday route, so they were nice and comfortable. I hit the first hill between miles 3 and 4 and powered up it like a champ (see, humble). I stopped at mile 4 and had my first Gu – strawberry banana. In general, I really don’t care for strawberry banana as a “flavor” but my mom sent it to me in a care package and I wasn’t about to turn down free anything. It wasn’t awful and I couldn’t taste the banana at all (which is generally what I don’t care for).

I ended up having to go under 2 freeway underpasses. The first one was fine, the second was a little unnerving. I generally don’t have a fear of “bad neighborhoods” – growing up in one will do that to you. Still, there’s something about overpasses that make me a little nervous. These were definitely my fastest miles. I also encountered a ton of yard sales that basically took up the entire sidewalk, forcing me to run in the street. I was running on Venice Blvd, a pretty busy street, so this made me really uncomfortable. A couple of years ago I was hit by a car and ever since then I’ve been a little skittish. Note to self: start earlier or pick another route.

I took my second Gu a little late – the start of mile 9 because I had completely forgotten about it. I stopped the gym at mile 9.5ish and refilled my water bottle, then headed on my way home. Several interesting things happened in the last 5 miles. I had planned on taking another Gu at mile 12 but my stomach wasn’t loving me. I decided I’d rather just power through rather than try to force anything down. At the same time, my mp3 player died. I think it got wet from all of my exceptionally attractive sweat. Regardless, it appears to be officially deceased. Sadface. I definitely didn’t like the idea of running the last 3 miles without my mp3 player, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I also remembered to look down at my Garmin as I hit 13.1 and saw that I was just over 2:24. I was completely flabbergasted. That’s an almost 30 minute PR. I knew I was in much better shape, but that was an amazing feeling. Seeing that number gave me the burst I needed to power up my last hill and finish as strong as possible. Sure my last 5 were way slower than the first 10. Sure, I lost the chafing battle (no low cut shirts for me for a while). Sure I dealt with weird stomach issues for the rest of the day (I wasn’t hungry at all. weird). Didn’t matter. I was so proud of myself for what I had accomplished that it was all worth it. This feeling is why I run.

And that, dear friends, is the saga of my longest run ever. How was your weekend run?

Just Call Me Cinderella

30 Jun
Only one week left in the challenge and I am loving it! I think I may end up extending it at least through the bar. Who knows, maybe I’ll become one of those streak runner!

After my run on Monday my right knee started bothering me. It didn’t hurt exactly but it definitely felt weird and it was eerily similar to the feeling I had right before my IT Band flared up last fall [why yes, I do have a way with descriptions. Ask me about “that sick feeling in the back of my throat” some time]. There were a lot of things that contributed to that injury, including upping my mileage way too quickly but one factor was definitely my shoes. I’d been wearing them for about 2 years because I kept telling myself that I wasn’t active enough to actually wear through a pair of sneakers. Well, turns out, I was. When I actually looked at my shoes, I realized that not only were the soles almost completely worn through but there was a hole in the toe of one shoe! How I didn’t notice that one is beyond me. After some trials and tribulations, I discovered that the Saucony Progrid Guide 3 were the shoe for me.

My first loves

Then, a couple of months ago, I had a Groupon to the running store my sister goes to in NJ (the name of which completely escapes me). I was looking for a lighter shoe – not necessarily “minimalist,” but something that could potentially lead there in the future. The guy who worked there suggested these Mizunos.

Flashy!

I really liked them not only because they were bright yellow but also because the felt incredibly light on my feet. I tended to use them for my shorter runs. However, they were the shoes I wore for The Half Which Shall Not Be Named and now they have a really attractive blood stain which for the life of me I can’t wash out.

A couple of weeks ago I spotted the Sauconys on sale on Gilt Groupe and snatched them up, figuring as I got into Long Beach training I’d need to retire my old pair. Well, that day came Monday. When my knee started acting up, I took a look at my shoes and realized the sole of the right shoe was worn down way more than the left one. Crossing my fingers and hoping my running shoe hoarding would pay off, I threw on the new pair and headed out.

I kind of want to make out with these shoes.

Running in new shoes was like running on clouds. I was shocked at how much cushion they had (and how good that cushion felt!). No knee pain during the run and no knee pain after the run. Glorious! My love of buying shoes on sale totally paid off! I definitely felt like a very sweaty, tired, slightly smelly Cinderella. Now if only magic shoes would cure my I-can’t-focus-on-studying issues …

I’m a big sentimental mush, so there’s a solid chance I’m going to keep the old pair as my “These Shoes Got Me Through A Very Painful 1/2 Marathon” shoes but I think their running days are over. Once upon a time I used to be a big flashy heels girl but since I rarely put on real clothes these days, sneakers are definitely my footwear of choice.

What shoes are you loving lately?

Flying Electronics?

28 May
Day 2

Ran 4 miles – 45 min., little bit of hamstring/hip tightness

Now that I’ve decided to run for 40 days in a row [well, 38 now!], I’m hyper aware of the little things that bother me during my runs [like my socks]. Today, my socks were fine, but my entertainment was a bit of an issue. My super awesome fabulous sister got me an iPad for graduation and I’m a little bit obsessed with it. I love watching tv shows while I work out because it makes the time fly, but with my little iPod touch, it’s hard on the treadmill. I end up squishing way too close to the display and my stride gets all funky, and it’s no bueno. But the iPad is amazing [for other reasons too, but clearly for the keeping me distracted]!

Here’s my issue. I’m petrified that I’m going to fling it off the treadmill. I’ve lost many an mp3 player that way. In fact, I usually buy really cheap non-iPod video players for exactly this reason [the touch was ANOTHER present from my super amazing sister]. I don’t know if it’s my height or if I move my arms funny or what, but invariably at least once a run, my hands get caught in the headphone cord. Most of the time, I can catch it before it comes tumbling to the ground, but certainly not always. Anyone have any suggestions on how to keep my cord out of the way and my iPad in working condition?

Also, I had to go to bar class this morning. On a Saturday. During Memorial Day weekend. I should be on a beach somewhere fist pumping and drinking margaritas. Not cool. I came home from the gym and realized I had absolutely nothing to eat. My lunch literally consisted of 2 pickle spears, hummus and bagel chips and a Baby Bell cheese. I don’t even have time to be a real person & go grocery shopping … how I’m going to get my run on for the next 38 days is beyond me.

Double also, I ran in shorts today! This was the longest I’ve ever run in shorts [chub rub and I have a sordid history]. I was 100% concerned about how I was going to handle marathon training in SoCal in capris, so yay! Thanks, breakup diet!

Day 1!

27 May
Ran 3.05 miles in 34:45

1 day down, 39 to go! I can already tell what my main issue with the challenge is going to be – socks. Even though I’m super prone to blisters, I’m cheap and I’m poor so I only have a couple of pairs of awesome running, seamless socks. I usually save them for my longer runs and wear whatever cheap socks I can find at Le Targe for my shorter midweek runs. But if I’m going to be running every day, I’m going to need better socks. At around mile 2 I stopped to stretch my hamstring that felt a little tight [and figure out how to get to the next episode of the West Wing on my iPad] and somehow in the process I managed to work the seam of my sock right onto the little nub of a toe where my dearly departed toenail used to live. I kept trying to wiggle it better, I stopped and took off my shoe and tried to fix it. Nothing. Ouch.

And I know what you’re thinking – why not just wash your socks more often. Because I’m lazy, that’s why.

Anyone know where I can get some cheap but awesome socks? What are your favorite?