Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome Runner's Lounge - Yoga for Runners

I'm today's host for Take it and Run Thursday over at the Runner's Lounge blog, and want to extend a huge welcome to everyone at the Lounge reading this. Before we get today's topic, here's a little about me.

About Me
I started running a year and a half ago after I finished a 2 mile race that I mostly walked. I sprinted to the finish, and crossing that finish line changed me. I decided then that I wanted to be able to run more than just a final sprint, so I started C25K. Since then, I've lost almost 30 lbs and finished over two dozen races: countless 5Ks, 2 10Ks, 2 half marathons, a duathlon, and a few triathlons. (You can read all about these experiences in my race reports.) I am now training for my first full marathon at the end of February 2010. I've been lucky to have a boyfriend and parents that not only support me, but run along with me :) We'll be doing a marathon relay in February.

For more details of my running journey, read My Evolution as a Runner. And check out the slideshow of my running milestones below, from my first race, to running with my parents, to my first half marathon, to my first duathlon and triathlon. You can also view the photos on flickr with commentary.

Today's Topic: Yoga and Running

I find yoga to be an excellent companion to my running to avoid injury, improve flexibility, and help relieve sore muscles after a hard workout or race. Tell us about your experience with yoga as it relates to running. If you have not tried it, why not? If you have, did it help? How often do you feature yoga in your weekly workout regime? What are your favorite yoga poses and routines? Pass on your recommendations for your favorite yoga DVDs, instructors, podcasts, online resources, etc.

I've written about this topic before, but I am curious about other's take on it. I try to do yoga whenever I can, at least once a week, on my rest day, but I often follow most hard workouts with a short yoga session, or whenever something aches I try to target it with yoga. I find it helps me recover faster.

I've been mostly doing Chaz's podcast from and I love them. They are easy to follow, only 20-25 minutes, and targeted for specific needs -- such as yoga for runners, for knees, etc. You can download the last 20-25 for free from iTunes, or purchase older episodes from the archives for $1.99. I highly recommend them.

Rodney Yee
In addition to these, I still also use Rodney Yee's Yoga Conditioning for Athletes. This DVD includes a 1 hour practice geared towards athletes with pose modifications for all levels. It also has several sport specific mini workouts (cycling, running, golf, swimming, and tennis), about 5-7 mins each, that can be used as a pre/post run stretch. I also own several of his other DVDs, and I've yet to find any I did not like.

Below is a list of some of my favorite yoga poses for runners (I'm sure I am forgetting many). Most of these are featured in the YOGAmazing for runners podcast. For details on these and other poses, check out This site is a great source for yoga poses, sequences, and specific yoga needs. Be sure to check out their Yoga for Runners section.
  • child's pose - this is a great pose of surrender and a nice back stretch. Chaz starts most podcasts with this to focus on breathing
  • downward dog - a great full body pose, and it feels great to stretch the legs and back
  • pidgeon - great pose for runners, and especially the hips
  • thread the needle - great twisting pose
  • runner's lunge - the name says it all :) There is a variation that is also a great hip opener
  • butterfly - another hip opener
  • cat-cow - great to stretch out the back
What's yours favorite pose?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Race Report: OUC Downtown Orlando Triathlon Relay (1:47:43)

On yet another whim, I signed up for a triathlon relay this past weekend with my girls and had SO much fun! It was just what I needed to get out of the funk after the Trek didn't go as planned. This is the relay we were going to do initially, but we thought it'd be too soon after the trek. We were wrong! I'm now also addicted to triathlon relays :) Here we are, "MK^2 Impulse," before the start of the race. Can you guess who did which leg? ;)

Team MK^2 Impulse - Guess who did which leg? ;)

Also at the race:

 Kyle (owner of Kyly'e Bike Shop) and Kristi
It was his first tri and her 2nd

Kyle and Kristi Markel

Jason and David aka "Spontaneous Combustion"
doing a 2-man relay, who placed 2nd in their division!

Team Spontaneous Combustion

and Giles, who helped me get the confidence in my swimming to give this crazy sport a try.

Giles @ swim start


The race start was at Lake Underhill Park, 3.2 miles from our apartment. Since I'm training for a marathon at the end of February, and the training plan called for 10 miles that day, we ran to the race start at an easy pace to get some extra miles. Combined with the race distance and a 1 mile walk home, I got in a total of 8 miles.

We got body marked and I found the girls. The relay wave was last, starting at 8 am, so we had a lot of time to kill. When we registered on Thursday, we all put shirt sizes that were too big because we kept thinking how small the shirts we got at the Trek were. But we forgot that the Trek was a women's race with women specific shirts, and these tech shirts were probably unisex. We were bummed that they were so big, but we brought them with us in hopes of exchanging them for smaller ones if they had any leftover. They DID! And that made my day because I love this race's logo and wanted to be able to wear the shirt. I was more excited about this race than the Trek :) (Maybe because I didn't have to swim =P)

The Race is On!

We headed to the start and watched the other waves take off, then finally Kelly and Jason were on their way. Since I did the run, I was able to take pictures of everyone during the swim and see them finish. Between legs, the other relay members were herded to a tent to wait for our turn. This amused me, but it gave us a great vantage point to watch the other triathletes and cheer them on. Jason and I were both doing the run leg, so it was cool we got to hang out in the tent for a bit while David came back from the bike.

Our cyclists in the relay cage Runners waiting for cyclists at relay cage

My Turn to Shine! 
Run = 3.86 mi in 41:29 @ 10:44 pace

The run felt amazing! My left calf and hamstring were a little tight while I waited for MaryLynn to finish the bike leg, but I took off like a bat out of hell after we did the hand off. The first 2 minutes was at a 8:46 min/mile pace. I clearly started too fast, and I ended up with positive splits, but I pushed myself hard and far exceeding my expectations (I figured I'd average at best 11:30 min/mile).

I ran using 2:1 intervals, but pushed hard during the running segments, running most of them at a 9-10 min/mile pace. During the 2nd half, the intervals turned into run 2 minutes hard, walk 30 seconds, jog 30 seconds, then push hard for 2 minutes, then repeat. It certainly helped that it was overcast the entire time, even if it was still pretty humid. I also hydrated well and ate a gel during the run. I think that helped keep me going.

As I ran past the 3 mile mark near the Howard MS track at Summerlin, I saw the girls walking to the finish line and cheering me on. That brought a smile to my face and gave me the extra motivation I needed to push hard to the finish. They ran with me for a few seconds, and then I took off. As I rounded the last corner before the one to the finish line, I started to pick up the pace a bit more as I saw Jason cheering me on and running with me on the side walk. Alicia and Giles were at the last corner, and I dug deep, even deeper than at the Trek, and finished with an amazing sprint.

They held the tape for me to "break" as I finished. That was a really nice touch. I felt really strong and very pleased with my performance.  My official time was 40:47 @ 10:28 min / mile -- not sure how that makes sense, but I'll take it. Maybe the course was long. I started my watch after the hand off while still in transition. This is close to the pace of my 5K PR, so that's impressive. I finished 414 / 507 overall and 13 / 15 in our division.

Official Team Results
  • rank = 460 / 507 overall; 12 / 15 in division
  • time: 1:47:43
  • swim rank = 482 / 507 overall ;14 / 15 in division
  • swim time = 16:13
  • t1 = 1:11
  • bike rank = 485 / 507 overall ;11 / 15 in division
  • bike time = 48:36 @ 14.4 mph
  • t2 = 0:58
  • run rank = 414 / 507 overall; 13 / 15 in division
  • run time = 40:47 @ 10:28 min/mil
Final Thoughts

I'm really impressed with this race and plan to do it again next year, either by myself or as a relay. Relays are awesome because you get to compete while still cheering on all your friends, and you can push yourself a little bit harder when you focus on one sport and because you don't want to let your team down. It's truly the best of both worlds. The impulsiveness of signing up for this at the last minute also added to the excitement and took the pressure off. We just wanted to have fun, and that we sure did! I can't wait for the next one in October -- unless we find another sooner ;) Great job team MK^2!

PS - While waiting for Kelly to finish the swim, MaryLynn said someone recognized me and told her she followed my blog. That's so neat! If it was you, comment and let me know. I'd love to know which one of my readers was also at this Tri!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Race Report: Trek Women's Spring Tri (2:13:40)

I finished my first full sprint triathlon on Sunday, 9.6.09 in 2:13:40, and I'm a little underwhelmed, but I had a blast with all the girls before, during, and after. I finished 796 / 936 overall and 84 / 96 in my age group. Here's the recap.

Saturday: Kids Run, Expo, and Pre-Race Dinner

We drove to Disney's Ft. Wilderness early Saturday morning to see Isa run her first race: 100 yard dash. She was adorable! We killed some time after the kid's race at the playground, then went to the expo to get our race packets, race shirt, and shop! Sports Beans was one of the sponsors, so I got many samples of my favorite running nutrition in their new resealable package. I bought a new tri top and got the girls matching bondi bands that say "tri like a girl" for us to wear at our triathlon relay.

Terrific Trio @ Trek Expo

After the expo, we checked into our cabin, I racked my bike, then went to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch with Lisa and Joe. We chilled in our cabin for a bit after lunch until dinner time. I also had to do a bit of laundry because I put some hershey kisses in my goodie bag that melted while we were at lunch covering the entire contents in gooey chocolate, including my race shirt and new tri top. Chris and David finally got back to the cabin from working the expo all day, then we headed to Giordanno's for the pre-race dinner. We had a blast catching up with friends and eating yummy food, and of course posting for quirky photos =P

Pre-race dinner at Giordano's Pre-race dinner at Giordano's

Race Morning

Jason and I caught the shuttle to transition area and found MaryLynn on the bus. We got to the transition area just as Kelly was getting there, and got to work. After we setup our areas, we finished body marking each other and headed to the beach.

We quickly found Jason and Joe, and eventually saw the rest of the girls. I was not nervous about this race all week, or even this weekend, until we got to the beach and I saw the buoys. It looked SO LONG! We took some pre-race shots at the dock, where our camera men were stationed, then headed to the beach.  While waiting at the beach, my mom and grandma found me and we took some more pics. It was great to see them there and helped calmed my nerves a bit, but not much. I was still freaking out about how far the swim looked.

Swim = 1/2 mile (880 yds) in 35:00 - 877 / 936

I didn't drown! :)The swim took a little longer than I predicted, but I made it in one piece! I was freaking out while waiting for our wave to start, but once I got in the water I was fine and just kept swimming. I stopped a lot to tread water and see where I was going, switching to breast stroke and side stroke from time to time, but I never stopped completely to hold onto a swim noodle or kayak. It was a little humbling to see everyone I knew in the next wave past me, and before long I was swimming in a sea of blue and purple caps (my wave was orange), but I didn't care. Now I have an official time of 35:36 to beat next time :)

T1 - 00:04:16

We had a long run to the transition area after the swim, and I probably spent too much time putting on socks, shoes, and gloves. I was also a bit flustered and tired from the swim.

Bike = 12.13 mi in 52:00 @ 14.1 mph - 773 / 936

Bike finish I'm really disappointed in my bike performance. This is my slowest pace in a race. I seem to get slower on the bike with every race I do. I intended to push hard on the bike to make up for the swim, but no matter what I could no go any faster and the hills didn't help. I'd like to blame this on the crowded field, or that I was too tired from the swim and maybe I kicked too much, but the truth is that I did not train properly on the bike the last few months. I commuted to work on my explorer bike, but didn't push myself and rarely did any speed work. I'm going to train specifically for the distance next time and do some drills to improve my speed/power. I'll probably also start wearing the camelbak for longer races as I think I'm wasting too much time reaching down for the water bottle. I think I use it as an excuse to take a break and it makes me lose momentum and takes a little time to get back up to speed. My official bike time  was 53:15, but  that includes 1/4 mile or more run to mount line.

T2 - 00:02:27

Not much to say here. I ran my bike to the back of the transition area, raked it, took off helmet, switched shoes, then grabbed hat and racing belt as I ran out of the transition area. I almost forgot to switch my watch from the bike to my wrist.

Run =  3.15 mi in  38 @ 12:03 min/mile - 620 / 936

Cheryl bringing me home witha strong finish. Thanks Cheryl! The run went much better than I expected. I fumbled with my watch and never set up the intervals, but that worked out in my favor. I started running using 3:1 for maybe the first mile, but I felt good and reduced the walk breaks to every half mile or less -- usually just at the water stops. After the last water stop, I pushed it to catch up to Kelly and I seemed to find my stride so ran it all the way to the finish line trying to get to a sub-12 min/mile avg pace. Cheryl was there at the 3 mile mark and ran with me to end pushing me to dig deep for a strong finish. Thanks Cheryl!!

My Negative Splits pace:

mile 1 - 12:56
mile 2 - 12:23
mile 3 - 11:21
finish (.15) - 8:42!! 

Final Thoughts

So it wasn't the race I was hoping for, and I was a little down about it on Monday, but I need to remind myself that a few months ago I thought a triathlon wasn't even an option for me. I could barely swim and the thought of even getting in a lake terrified me. Being able to complete this was a huge accomplishment, and it certainly will not be the last one. I'm completely addicted! The best part is that I got to share it with a great group of women, and I've met new friends along the way. Here is just a few of them. Thanks ladies and Jason for all your support, and for believing in me. I could not have done it with each and every one of you.

Strong Women!

View more race photos

Magic Mile in 9:15

I ran a 1 mile timed trial at the track last Tuesday in 9 minutes and 15 seconds! That's insane and over 1 minute faster than last year. This means that a sub-30 5K is closer than I thought, and I'm going to do my best to make that happen by the end of the year. I'm adding speed work to my running this year, so I hope to run my next half marathon a little faster. I'd by so happy with a sub-2:30 half marathon.

Below are my target race paces according to Jeff Galloway's predictor calculator based on my 1 mile time:
  • 5K = 9:48 min/mile (30:23)
  • 10K = 10:38 min/mile (1:05:57)
  • Half Marathon = 11:06 min/mile (2:25:25)
  • Marathon = 12:02 min/mile (5:15:03)

August in Review

August July June May
run distance 31.64 miles 33.65 miles 21.16 miles 43.64 miles
longest run 6 miles 6 miles 3.75 miles 5.5 miles
avg run pace 12:49 min/mile 12:54 min/mile 12:05 min/mile 11:56 min/mile
bike distance 250.41 miles 190 miles 228.17 miles 161.86 miles
longest ride 30 miles 45.45 miles 50 miles 21.2 miles
avg bike speed 12.7 mph 12.1 mph 12.2 mph 13.6 mph
swim sessions 14 13 5 0
swim distance  6.63 miles 5.14 miles 1.7 miles 0

Accomplishments in August
Goals for September
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