Sunday, February 28, 2010

Race Report: Gasparilla Marathon

My Marathon Maiden Voyage
We're marathoners! See more photos on Flickr.

Words cannot possibly describe how elated I am at having finished my first full marathon and that I met all my goals! Per my Garmin watch, I ran 26.3 miles in 5:22:08 @ 12:13 min/mile. How happy am I that I finished in under 5:30 even by the clock!? VERY! =D

Official stats:
  • chip: 05:22:33
  • clock: 05:27:55
  • overall: 1761 / 2087
  • gender: 672 / 855
  • age group: 114 / 142
Pacing Strategy 
I executed my pace strategy perfectly, running mostly negative splits, and it really paid off:
  • 13 min/mile average through mile 5
  • 12:30 min/mile average by mile 15
  • 12:15 min/mile average by mile 20
  • hang on for dear life and try to maintain that pace through the finish
I also switched up my run/walk intervals through out the race. I started with 1:1, then switched to 2:1 around mile 14, then 3:1 around mile 20 or 21. I felt good earlier on and was tempted to switch intervals sooner, but I knew I needed to save my energy for the end and it worked.

I fueled like clockwork, eating a regular gu every 3-4 miles and nothing but gu roctanes after the halfway point. I also drank water at ever other water stop or as needed. They advertised water stops every mile, but I think it was more like every 2 miles or so. Definitely not as good as BCM, but enough to make it work.

Running Solo through mile 24
I ran this race all by myself, which turned out better than I expected. When I first started, I worried how difficult it would be since I had never ran more than 10 miles alone. I was going to bring my ipod shuffle, but decided against it at the last minute because I wanted to take it all in. I passed some ladies from my Galloway on the course and chatted with other runners around me from time to time, so I was never truly alone, but was never with anyone for more than a few minutes. It was nice being able to run my own race at whatever pace and interval I wanted to, and not get swept away to start too fast or slow down.

Running with Dad
The best part of the race was when my dad joined me at mile 24 to run the last 2.2 miles with me--after he finished the half marathon in 02:19:51 2.5 hours earlier. I knew he'd be there, and it's what kept me going through the last few miles. Around mile 18, I started counting the miles until I'd see him. I was hurting by the time I saw him, but I was not about to quit. I was holding onto my 12:15 pace and I even shaved a second or two while running with him. We passed a water stop and he asked if I wanted water; I just groaned and said I just wanted to finish and kept going. LOL

Finishing it!
Just before mile 26, where Jason was meeting me, I had a walk break and I decided to walk until the mile marker then sprint to the finish. The mile marker never came, but I started jogging anyway because it hurt more to walk. I finally saw Jason as Dad ran ahead of me to get a pic as I crossed the finish line. Jason tried to run it in with me but his legs wouldn't cooperate -- he had finished the marathon an hour earlier in 4:14:23 and was hurting. It didn't matter. Seeing him was all I needed to give it all I had and cross the mat before the clock hit 5:28. I was elated that I had met my goal even by the clock, and I once again cried tears of joy.

What's Next?
I had a great time and I'm already addicted and looking for my next race. Tonight after we get back from our celebratory dinner at Texas de Brazil, I will apply for the NYC Marathon lottery and register for the Breast Cancer full marathon in 2011. But I'm itching to do something sooner, so I'll be looking for a 1/2 or full marathon in the coming months and also plan to do train for a 50K!

A HUGE thanks to everyone who has been following my progress and offering me encouragement the past few months. It's been a huge help and I am forever grateful.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gasparilla Marathon Pre Race Thoughts

Race weekend is finally here, and I'll be running my first marathon in less than 24 hours! We're packing everything but the kitchen sink and heading to Tampa shortly to go to the Expo, pick up our packets, and have our last supper :)

My goals for this race are very similar to the goals for my first half marathon:
  1. Start
  2. Finish
  3. Finish with a smile on my face :) 
  4. Pace myself properly so I have enough left to finish strong and run across the finish line.
    • start at no faster than 13 min/mil pace using 1:1 intervals
    • maintain this easy pace and intervals for the first 5-7 miles
    • pick up the pace a bit as I near the halfway point
    • see how I feel after the 1st half, and increase my speed towards a 12:30 average 
    • if feeling good, switch to 2:1 or bigger intervals as I near the finish and possibly run the last 1/2 - 1 mile straight
    • be flexible and listen to my body
  5. Fuel properly so I don't hit the wall: 
    • regular gu or shot blocks before the start
    • gu or shot blocks every 3-4 miles
    • gu roctanes starting at mile 12 or 16
    • water every 1-2 water stops
  6. I'm trying not to set a time goal, but I know I can finish in under 6 hours. 
    • My main goal is to finish with a time closer to 5:30 than 5:45. 
    • The Galloway prediction formula says I should be able to finish in 5:15, but I want to enjoy this so I'm not going to try that. 
    • If I pull of 5:15, great! But I'll be thrilled with anything near 5:30.
  7. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Marathon Packing Checklist

Since this is an away race and I won't be sleeping at home the night before the marathon, I'll need to pack everything I could possibly need for the race, and then some. With the flaky weather we've been having lately, I plan to pack for every eventuality.

Here's the list so far. Comment and let me know if I am forgetting anything!

Running Clothes
  • sports bra
  • race ready shorts w/pockets
  • running shoes
  • running socks
  • running tops: short sleeve, long sleeve, tank
  • running tights/pants
Running Accessories
  • arm warmers
  • black hat
  • bondi bands: skull and bones + spares
  • gloves
  • hair tie
  • pirate eye patch
  • race belt
  • wrist sweat band 
  • pearl izumi jacket
  • garmin + strap + charger
  • iphone + charger
  • ipod shuffle + charger
  • headphones
  • camera + charger + extra battery
  • laptop + charger
  • gu
  • gu roctane
  • shot blocks
  • mini luna bars
  • bananas
  • bagels
  • chocolate covered pretzels
  • oyster crackers
Other Clothes
  • 2 shirts
  • sleep pants
  • warm up suit
  • extra sports bra
  • underwear
  • pants / shorts
  • crocs
  • jacket
Injury Prevention / Treatment
  • biofreeze packets
  • body glide
  • moleskin
  • sunscreen 
  • ear plugs
  • water bottle
  • laundry bag
  • garbage bags
  • chapstick
  • money
  • ID

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Last Pre-Marathon Run and Corporate 5k Update

It is Thursday, which means corporate 5k training after work. The group is on week 2 of C25K, which means a total of 9-10 minutes of running that we do on a 2.5 mile loop and walk the rest. Since I pushed it a bit at the race on Sunday, I just did that on Tuesday with them. However, today I wanted to do one last run before Sunday's marathon, so I ran the 2.5 miles on my own at 5 p.m. before I went out with the group at 5:30 p.m. The run felt good, but I'm tired of the weather being hot one day and cold the next. It's so unpredictable that I pack a huge bag of clothes for every weather just in case.

Corporate 5k training and recruitment is going great! We have a consistent group of 9-10 show up each week to run/walk, and everyone seems to be having a great time.  I'm documenting everything with lots of photos and videos to edit into a video after the race. Many have posted little profiles on our team blog with their background and goals. I hope to also record little video testimonials in the coming weeks.

As of this afternoon, we have 19 officially registered for the race and a few more are joining tomorrow; it's pay day! :) That's already more than double the size of our team of 9 last year, and it's not even March yet! It's great seeing our little team grow every day and motivating others in our department to "learn to live well" :) I'm excited to see our team continue to grow and getting everyone across that finish line on April 15th!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What Taper Madness?

I don't seem to be experiencing the typical taper madness. I can't wait for Sunday to get here already, but I'm not really freaking out over it. In fact, I'm concern that I may be too overconfident about completing this marathon and taking advantage of taper too much (maybe this in itself is a symptom). Am I not respecting the distance enough?

A few things I think have helped me avoid taper madness:

  • I've read all about it and know what to expect and that I'm ready for this. 
  • I've kept myself too busy blogging and taking photos daily to have any time to obsess over my running. 
  • Putting together a team for the Corporate 5K at work and training my coworkers to run their first 5K is a nice distraction. 
  • I scheduled other low key races in the weeks leading up to the marathon to keep me distracted by obsessing about those instead =P
  • I've been really busy at work, making the days pass quickly.
Most of all, I think I just welcome the rest and know that I've done all I can so it's ok to take it easy. I am sure I'll be singing a different tune and freaking out plenty on Saturday night, but that day will be packed with plenty of distractions, so I should be ok.

Is it Sunday yet? :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

bondi bands

I'm going to take a mental break today and post some of my favorite bondi bands. I am obsessed with their wicking headbands, and I'm in the process of buying 5 more. I already own 3: "will run for chocolate", "tri like a girl", and the skull and bones pictured here. The one I'm wearing in this picture is my newest addition that I'll wear at the Gasparilla Marathon since it's a pirate themed race :)

Below are some pics of the ones I'm considering adding to my collection, but I just can't decide. So help me out; browse through the bondi band site and post your favorites in the comments.

day 25/30 - Arg!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seeking Race Recommendations

I think the reason I'm finding blogging daily for 30 days overwhelming is because I put too much thought into these posts. Even when I think I'm going to post something short and sweet, it turns into several paragraphs that I've spent hours editing to near perfection (I say near because I always miss some type or another).

So today I'm putting the burden on you :)

I am hooked on distance running and know Sunday's marathon won't be my last. I want to become a Marathon Maniac someday, but will probably try to become a Half Fanatic first since running 2 half marathons in 16 days or 3 in 90 days is totally within my current skill level. Anyway, I've already made this post longer than I intended, so now it's your turn.

Comment with your recommendation for a half or full marathon that's not to be missed and tell me why I should add it to my race schedule.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Race Report: Breast Cancer Marathon Relay

Post-Race Lunch

Our team, Smells Like Run Spirit, finished the Breast Cancer Marathon Relay in 4:30:21, coming in 87 out of 247 (looking at the results again, this is inaccurate because there are teams listed multiple times since people clearly failed to remove their chips after their leg. Removing the duplicates, 71/190 seems more accurate). That's the fastest marathon finish time I'll probably ever be associated with, by about an hour, LOL! This was so much fun, and I was so impressed with the race that I plan to do the full marathon on my own next year.

My goal was to run the 5 miles in 55 minutes, or at least PR (< 57:24), and I nailed both! I'm surprise that I ran this well without walk breaks, but the weather was perfect and the energy of the crowd contagious; I'm sure the GU Roctane I took at the start of the leg also helped. I only stopped 2 or 3 times for a few seconds to wash down the gu and eat some grapes during the first 2 miles.

My plan was to run each mile and walk through the water stops, but I felt so good that I didn't need any water during the last 3 miles. I paced myself really well and ended up with perfect negative splits (11:36 - 11:27 - 11:16 - 10:49 - 9:51).  I gave it everything I had during that last mile, and I was so happy when I crossed that mat in 55 minutes that I cried. I haven't done that in a race since my first half marathon.

I knew I could do it, but I wasn't expecting it since I didn't intend to push myself nor was I doing my intervals. I think that's why I cried tears of joy when I finished. I always get emotional when I give it my all and it pays off :)  The entire run simply felt amazing, even if a little uncomfortable at the end but it was worth it.

I pulled myself together and caught the shuttle to the finish line. After a few snacks, I reunited with Jason and his dad to wait for my dad to finish the last leg. I walked to meet him and we ran the last 1/3 of a mile together.  Jason and his dad joined us for the last 1/10 and the 4 of us crossed the finish line together. Mom did the first leg but went back to the hotel to rest because she was sick, so she wasn't there at the end. I'm sad she didn't get to share that moment with us and is not in the official finish line photo, but I'm glad she was still able to run her leg. She's now ready to tackle a 10K! :)

Team Relay Leg Splits

finish timenet timepace
Mom (miles 1-5)1:10:051:10:050:14:01
Jason (miles 5-10)1:50:160:40:110:08:02
Me (miles 10-15)2:45:150:54:590:10:59
Bob (miles 15-20)3:24:470:39:320:07:54
Dad (miles 20-26.2)4:30:211:05:340:10:34

Saturday, February 20, 2010

BCM Pre-Race Thoughts

We just finished a yummy pre-race dinner at Mellow Mushroom. I'm now at the Radisson in Jacksonville, seating on my sleep number bed, and enjoying complimentary internet. Tomorrow morning I'll run 5 miles of the Breast Cancer Marathon as part of the relay team "Smells Like Run Spirit" with my family. 

I've done a triathlon relay before, but this will be a little different because I won't see my relay team until the exchange and the finish. I'll have my phone and camera to help pass the time. I set it up so family members hand off to each other in this order: Bob (Jason's Dad), Jason, Me, Mom, and Dad. After we finish our leg, we'll take a bus to the finish line and wait for dad 100 yards from the finish to cross the finish line together. 

Since I have a marathon next weekend, and this is meant to be a fun run, I'll be taking it easy. My only goal is to finish in under an hour, though I'd love to run it in 55 minutes or PR (> 57:24), but I'm not going to push it. If you want to follow along with me, I'll be updating along the way and sending live results from the race to twitter and facebook or you can setup your own race alerts

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts on Daily Blogging

I'm 21 days into this experiment of blogging every day for 30 days, and it's starting to become a chore. I'm not giving up, nor do I regret undertaking it, but I'll be glad when I can have my evenings back. Other than finding something interesting and new to blog about everyday, the biggest downside is that I can't relax when I get home and watch tv because I have to blog first. Writing a post takes longer than I anticipated, even if I already know what topic I want to discuss, because I make endless edits before publishing it.

I do like how it has forced me to reflect on topics I've been putting off or that I may have never considered writing about without this challenge. It's certainly kept me distracted from taper madness and made the last 21 days fly. Even though I have very little time to unwind and watch tv after work, I think that's also a plus. It's been nice to unwind reflecting on the day, writing about it, and looking at the photos I took that day. It only seems like I've had less time at home before bed, but I've just been more productive with my time.

I'm looking forward to documenting the next 9 days leading up to my first marathon. There will be plenty to talk about, including volunteering at a 5K and attending the BCM Expo tomorrow, pre-race dinner Saturday night,  Breast Cancer Marathon Relay with the family on Sunday followed by a post-race lunch, 2 corporate 5k training runs, Gasparilla Expo, pre-race dinner, and finally the marathon!

I'll certainly undertake the challenge again, but perhaps during a less busy time -- like when I'm not also taking daily photos. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Corporate 5K Training Day 2

Today was day 2 of corporate 5k training, and we're still having fun :) We had 9 people again, but Corey, Jen, and Baiyun joined us instead of Bob, Daniel and his dad. The boys did their own thing, and I led the girls. We covered 1.86 miles in 31 minutes. I think we ran an extra minute and walked a bit further. Next week we are going to tackle the entire 2.3 mile loop.

I'm going to switch to galloway run/walk/run intervals instead of c25k because it will be more flexible to accommodate our diverse group. My plan is to start each session with a 5 minute warm up walk, then run 1 minute and walk 2 minutes until we get close to the end (talking extra walk breaks along the way as needed by the group), and finish the loop with a cool down walk. We'll build onto the distance over the next few weeks, and maybe switch intervals to 1:1 as everyone's endurance increases and they become more comfortable with running.

I'm excited to see our team grow each week, both in numbers of participants and in their abilities. We now have 13 registered, plus my parents makes 15. Below is the group that showed up to train today.

day 20/30 - Corporate 5K Training Day 2

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Me a Priority

It dawned on me today that one of the reasons for my success with weight loss and fitness is that I made myself a priority. More specifically, I made achieving my life changing goals a priority. This meant becoming a morning person, not going out to dinner with friends when it didn't fit my eating schedule, or forgoing Friday night festivities because I had to get up early the next day for a morning training run.

I've spent most of my life taking care of the needs of others, and it was finally time to take care of myself. I may have gone to an extreme with this at first, and now I'm learning to find a better balance, but I think it was necessary to bring about the change I needed. Now it is a part of my life and I can better juggle the needs of others with my own.

As the title of my blog implies, this was a lifestyle change which required adjustments to all parts of my life. Even though I've lost the extra weight and I'm in the best shape of my life, my journey is not over. I am always in search of the next challenge, and I will have to make constant adjustments to find balance in my life and be the best person I can be.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Corporate 5K Training Kickoff

Today was our first group training session for the Corporate 5K, and I'm really pleased with the turn out. We had a total of 9 people show up (including me and Jason), and I know a few others could not make it but will join us in the future. Recruitment is also going very well, and we already have 11 officially registered, plus my parents makes 13. That's 4 more than last year, so I'm confident we'll reach our goal of 20-25.

Everyone met at Partnership II in Research Park after work. Jason and Bob ran a 2.3 mile loop around Research Park while I led a group of beginners using the Couch to 5K program. After a 5 minute warm up walk, we alternated running for 1 minute and walking for 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes. My group covered 1.5 miles in 26 minutes, including the warm up and cool down walk. I think everyone had a good time, and I hope to see them back on Thursday.

The photo below is the whole group after we finished. Notice that they are still smiling! Yay! :)

the whole group

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why I Didn't Stop

Sean asks: "Blog about why you didn't stop. Most people, when making a decision to get in shape and start exersising, fail after a few weeks. Why didn't you stop? What drove you to be successful when so many people give up?"

This is an excellent question, and I am not sure I really know the answer, but I'll use this post to reflect on the past 2 years and hopefully we'll have an answer at the end :) Actually, I do know the answer, but I don't think it's what anyone wants to hear because it's not an easy fix. It all boils down to intrinsic motivation. Find what makes you tick and harness it. So here's a recap of how I found mine.

It all started in late January/early February of 2008 when I had finally had enough of being fat and chose to do something about it. How fitting that I should post this pretty much 2 years later. For those keeping track, that basically means that I went from 0 to marathon in 2 years! Wow!

I believe the key for me was that I started with small steps. I didn't jump into this full force trying to run a mile or anything. In fact, running didn't come into the picture until much later. I started simply with workout DVDs, doing 10 minutes of kickboxing 3 times a week. Eventually, I moved up to 30 minutes 3 times a week. Then I registered for a 2 mile race to keep me motivated, which I planned to walk, so I started walking before or after work, and sometimes to work, on a regular basis.

Completing that race and sprinting across the finish line was the turning point for me. It was at that moment that I understood why my dad raced for all those years. It was thrilling to have strangers cheering you on as you gave it your all to make it across the mat. I resolved right then and there that I would become a runner like my dad. The following week I began the Couch to 5K Program.

It has not been an easy journey, but I used what I knew drives me to get through it and keep me going.
  1. Set small attainable goals -- instead of setting a big goal that would take months or years to achieve, I set something challenging yet doable in a short period of time. I love making lists and crossing items off, so seeing constant success gave me the confidence to set my sights higher. This worked both for losing weight and eventually training for the marathon.
  2. Registered for races -- I registered for, and completed, races before I even finished C25K. I hate wasting money, so you better believe that if I registered and paid money for it, I'd be there. I didn't need to run the entire thing, but it was great seeing my times improve from one race to the other and being able to run more at each one. It also helped having a goal to shoot for so I would keep up with my training.
  3. Blog -- I believe this blog has been a huge helped in keeping me going. Knowing that there are people out there rooting for me is a huge motivator.
  4. Inspiring others -- After I finished C25K and lost a ton of weight, people started asking me how I did it. I told them my story and many took up running too using C25K. Having others look up to me for inspiration is also a source of motivation because I feel like if I quit I let them down too. 
  5. Group training -- I joined various running groups, training programs, and meetups. I met a lot of amazing people that inspired me. It also helped diversify my training so I never got bored. Organizing group training sessions also helped keep me accountable because if others were depending on me to show up I had to be there :) 
Running opened the door to a whole near world for me where I could achieve anything if I set my mind to it. Without that first minute of running during week 1 of C25K, I would have never found the confidence I needed to train for a half marathon, triathlon, and now the marathon. I'm already looking ahead to the next challenge, because I know the marathon is not the end of the road for me. There will be many more marathons and even bigger challenges ahead. I'm excited for the possibilities!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Needed Rest Day or Lazyness?

People often ask how I make myself get up early to exercise every morning. I'll admit that it did not always come so easy. I only run 3 times a week, but I do some form of exercise nearly every morning -- weights, core, yoga, kickboxing, fitdeck. I try to have at least one rest day a week, but even then I'll usually do some light yoga because it helps me relax and my body is just used to doing something every morning. However, somedays my body needs the extra sleep rather than yoga and I listen to it. So the question is, how do I know when I'm being lazy vs when my body needs a break?

If I don't feel like working out in the morning, I asked myself why. If I am feeling really tired or worn out, then my body is telling me it needs extra rest and I listen. If I am wide awake and not sore, then I know I'm just being lazy. In the past, these would be interchangeable. I would rationalize it away by saying I would do it later in the day or the next day. Often these skipped workouts would not be reschedule. However, now I have more motivation because I have a marathon in the horizon and don't want to skip workouts. When I know I am being lazy, I remind myself about the consequences of postponing the workout:
  • if I don't run in the morning, I have to run at lunch or after work
  • running at lunch is impractical because it takes too long to change into running clothes, run a decent distance, take a shower, get back into work clothes AND eat lunch
  • running after work hardly works because I'm tired from the day and ready to go home. My body is used to waking up with physical activity and eating after work, so no matter what I feel like I'm starving.
  • skipping the workout entirely always makes me regret it because I always know when I was being lazy and it throws off my training schedule
This morning was one of those days when I had to decided if I needed a rest day or if I was being lazy. I planned to meet friends for a long(ish) run (8 miles) at 7 am in Winter Park, about 10 minutes away. This meant I had to get up at 6 am, which is normal so it was certainly not lack of sleep. I was nursing a headache yesterday, and I woke up in the middle of a night congested. I managed to go back to sleep, but when I got up to get ready for the run the headache hadn't gone away and I was achy all over. I almost made myself go for the run, but something told me this was more than lack of motivation so I went back to sleep for a few hours even though I really wanted to run. I still feel crappy, so I know it was the right choice, but I hate it when I don't get to exercise. It's amazing how I've changed :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Running Meme

I saw this running meme ages ago but never posted, so I thought I'd resurrect it now. You are supposed to tag other bloggers to do it too, but I will skip that part. Feel free to post it in your own blog and leave me a comment telling me you did it too and I'll check it out.

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

None existent. I was in my 3rd year of college and the extend of my physical activity was swing dancing. I was an avid dancer at the time, so it was a pretty good workout, but not long after I fell off the dancing scene and barely do it any more. I want to try getting back into it at least occasionally but more than once a year =P

2. What is your best/worst running experience?

Best - It's hard to choose just one, because I really love running and have mostly positive experiences, but I'll choose a few of my favorites:
  1. finishing my first half marathon - even though I had already run the distance in training, it was still special and a very emotional time for me because I exceeded my expectations of what I'd be able to do on race day.
  2. my last marathon training run - I felt really strong the entire run and was able to pick up the speed at the end. Running the last mile of that training run faster than the other 23 really gave me the boost I needed to tackle my upcoming marathon.
  3. most galloway group runs - I love long runs and my group makes the time fly. They are the only ones that truly understand me and share my running philosophy and where I feel like I belong.
  4. 1st one hour run - it was just awesome an awesome accomplishment that was easier than I thought it would be.
Not all runs have been blissful, but I think I'll leave those in the past and focus on the positive :)

3. Why do you run?

I run because it makes me feel good.
I run because it gives me a sense of accomplishments.
I run because it opened the door to a whole new world.
I run because it shrinks the world -- distances seem closer when you know you can cover it on foot and bonds are formed almost instantly with strangers that are also runners.
I run because I can.

4. What is the best or worst piece of running advice that you've been given about running

The best advice is to start slow and build up gradually. I think this is true in training and as a race pace strategy. The worse advice would be the opposite of that =P

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I'm an open book, so I'm really not sure what to write here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What I Do When I'm Not Training

Chelsi commented in the post "Who's out there? (Comments Requested)" and said that she'd like to read more about my non-training adventures. The truth is that training, work, and sleep takes up most of my time -- especially when training for a marathon or triathlon -- but I really want to make time for other things.

About 6 months ago, I realized that I needed a better balance and a hobby that did not require physical activity, so I took improv classes again. It was just what I needed and I had a blast at the SAK Graduation Show. I hope to take classes next time they offer masters classes and will be sure to post about them here.

Other things that I enjoy doing when I am not training, which I need to remember to do more often, include: reading, bike hashing, run hashing, geocaching, camping, and photography. I also used to be an avid swing dancer, going 3-5 times a week, when I was in my 20s. That is how Jason and I first got to know each other because we were dance partners. We go occasionally, but I really want to start doing it more regularly. It's a great workout and so much fun. We're planning to go the UCF Valentine's Dance tonight! I'm excited! :)

In my 101 Things in 1001 Days list I outlined several adventures that I'd like to try that have nothing to do with training or running. Here's the list:
  • dine in the dark (it's an actual restaurant where you dine in complete darkness)
  • do a corn maze
  • get SCUBA diving license
  • go cross-country skiing
  • go fishing
  • go hang gliding
  • go on a real primitive camping trip (where we have to hike or canoe to the site with our gear)
  • go on a yoga retreat (with Chaz from YOGAmazing)
  • go sailing
  • go shark cage diving
  • ride in a hot air balloon
  • try a float tank
  • go on a road trip with no pre-planned destination
  • visit 5 new states
  • visit a new continent
I'll keep you posted if I do any of those and will be sure to write all about it here. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How I Run When It is Cold

ready for a morning run in the cold
6:24 am - Bundled up and ready to run!

morning run at Lake Eola
6:32 am - Running at Lake Eola in the twilight

morning run at Lake Eola
6:45 am - Halfway through the run at dawn

morning run at Lake Eola
6:59 am - Home stretch at sunrise
It was COLD (less than 40ยบ) and windy this morning, but I sucked it up and ran anyway. I considered going back to bed or doing yoga instead, then running at lunch or after work, but I knew that was even less likely to happen. The truth is, once you have the right gear, running in the cold is easy.

I'm so glad I got out and ran, because it was a gorgeous morning. I loved running at twilight and seeing the sky change colors. I had my point and shoot camera with me, and I kept stopping after each loop to take a photo because the sky looked amazing (see photos and timeline on the right).

I wore a TON of layers (you can see some in the first photo):
  • C9 cold run tights 
  • C9 fitted bootcut pants
  • Nike Pro Fitted short sleeve shirt
  • Pearl Izumi seamless arm warmers
  • C9 full zipper jacket with hood
  • Pearl Izumi wind breaker
  • Nike Lightweight Running Gloves
  • Brooks Vapor Dry 2 Headband
  • Brooks Vapor Dry 2 skull cap
  • C9 baseball cap
I wore the hood from the jacket over the baseball cap singed tightly under my chin so it would stay in place and keep my neck warm. I know that's a ridiculous amount of layers, but it was so cold/windy that I didn't shed any of it -- except unzipping the windbreaker a few inches and removed the hood.
    I really enjoyed this run, and it was over before I knew it. I ran 3 miles in just 33 minutes, for an 11:07 min/mi pace. That's faster than I planned, but I didn't feel like I was pushing myself. I probably ran faster to get it done quickly and get back to my warm apartment. :)

    I'm constantly amazed at how much running has changed my life for the better, and the amazing world it has opened up for me that I never even knew existed.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Organizing the CDL Corporate 5K Team

    CDWS/CDL Team For the 2nd year in a row, Jason and I are organizing a team at work to participate in Track Shack's Corporate 5K. We had a team of 7 (plus my parents and cheerleader Sammy) participate last year, including three completing their very first 5K. Our goal this year is to recruit 20.

    We had a great kick-off meeting on Monday, and as of today already have 5 people registered for the race. We're turning it into a wellness challenge, to promote our theme, "Learning to Live Well," and involve everyone who wants to participate any way they can -- walk, run, or cheer us on while following their own wellness journey.

    New for this year, we're designing team shirts and organizing group training sessions for runners and walkers. I'll be leading a group of beginners through the Couch to 5K program. I'm always excited to introduce new people into the wonderful world of running, so I'm really looking forward to this. Our apartment will be race day headquarters for our team, and we'll have a little post-race party there to share stories, photos, and food. We've setup a blog, twitter account, and facebook page to keep everyone updated and motivated.

    If you are organizing your own team at work, what are some of the things you are doing to help recruit runners/walkers and keep them motivated?

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Fitness Assessment Results

    The UCF Faculty and Staff Research and Wellness Center administers fitness assessments for free that measure the following areas: Blood Pressure, Resting Heart Rate, Body Composition, Cardiovascular Fitness, Flexibility, Muscular Endurance, and Muscular Strength. Each test is given a score and rated on a scale from Needs Work, Fair, Fit, or Excellent.

    I had my first assessment done on October 13, 2009 and my second one today. The first was after triathlon season ended, and about a month after I began marathon training. During triathlon season, I had a hard time balancing the amount of food I ate with the increased level of activity, and I gained about 15 lbs. After Thanksgiving, I got serious about losing the extra weight.  Now that marathon training is over, I wanted to see how much I've improved in the last four months.  I'm very pleased with the results. Below is a summary of the results compared to those from 4 months ago in October.

    Body Fat = 17.8% (Excellent)
    This test involves pinching skinfolds in 3 different areas, then the computer does the calculations to give you the body fat percentage. I've lost over 15 lbs since Thanksgiving, but I was curious to see how my body composition changed. The numbers on the scale only tell part of the story. In October, my body fat content was 26.5% placing me in the "Fair" category. I've lost almost 9% body fat, now placing me in the "Excellent" category, so that's a huge improvement. The report I received says that on average, female athletes have a body fat score of 12-22%. Below are the measurements used to determine this.

    October Today Difference %
    Weight 138 124 -14 -10.1%
    Tricep Skinfold 17.5 12.5 -5 -28.6%
    Suprailium Skinfold (mid section) 27.5 13 -14.5 -52.7%
    Thigh Skinfold 26 19.5 -6.5 -25%

    Resting Heart Rate = 54 bpm (Excellent)
    It was 60 bpm in October, which was also Excellent. I need to do this in the morning when I wake up to get a more accurate reading, but I keep forgetting. I'm going to try to incorporate that into my morning routine.

    Aerobic Fitness = 52.1 ml/kg/min (Excellent)
    This test involves stepping up and down on a step at a given cadence for 3-5 minutes while wearing a heart rate monitor. Every minute your heart rate is recorded until it levels out. My score was 37.3 in October, placing me in the "Fit" category. I was at first surprised to see such a big improvement in this area, but then I remembered that I have 5 months of marathon training behind me now. The scale in this category goes up to 55, so I'm truly at the peak of my aerobic fitness.

    Sit Reach = 19 cm (Needs Improvement)
    This test measures flexibility and as you can see, I am pretty inflexible. This is at the very low end of the "Needs Improvement" scale and only 2 cms better than last time. It surprises me a little that I am not more flexible since I do so much yoga, but this specifically measures hamstrings and lower back flexibility, and I've never been able to touch my toes. I'm going to work on this more and hope to show a significant improvement next time.

    Crunches = 29 (Fit)
    This test measures the strength of my stomach muscles and how long they can move before getting tired. I basically had to do as many crunches in a row as I could while maintaining a specific cadence. I have been working on strengthening my core, so I was pleased to see that I did 9 more than last time, moving me from the "Fair" category to "Fit." However, I still have lots of room for improvement. The scale goes up to 55.

    Push-Ups = 32 (Excellent)
    This test measures the strength and endurances of my upper body muscles. Like the previous test, I had to do as many push ups (on my knees) as I could while maintaining the same cadence throughout that I set when I started. I knew I would see an improvement in this category because I completed the 100 push up challenge since the last time. Last time I did 21, which barely put me in the "Excellent" category. This time I exceeded the scale, which only goes up to 31! That's awesome! I've definitely seen better definition in my upper body and I feel stronger than ever.

    Total Fitness Score = 77 (Fit)
    My total fitness score in October was 62, out of 100, placing me in the "Fit" category. I improved by 15 points since then, but I still have room for improvement -- 80+ is Excellent, so I'm not too far off.

    I'm glad I redid this test at this point in my training and weight loss journey. As nice as it is to see the numbers on the scale go down, it's even better to see how my hard work has improved my body and physical abilities. I'm going to continue working on my weak areas and do this again in another 4 months, when I hope to see an Excellent rating across the board.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Who's out there? (Comments Requested)

    I get comments to my blog from time to time, and see that I have 16 followers. There are probably others lurking and reading via rss feed, LJ, twitter or facebook.

    I'd like to get to know you guys a little better, so if you don't mind please comment with the answers to the following questions:
    1. How/where did you find my blog?
    2. Why do you read my blog?
    3. What content have you found most / least valuable?
    4. What topic(s) would you like me to blog more / less about?
    5. How do you read my blog (rss, twitter, facebook, LJ, other)?

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Track Shack Victory Breakfast

    Galloway Training Medal This morning at the Central Florida Zoo was the Track Shack Victory Breakfast that celebrates the end of the training season for the MarathonFest and Galloway Training programs. I did not attend last year, so it was neat to see everyone today in their normal clothes -- well almost, the breakfast had a western theme -- and see all the people that make this great program possible. We all wore the medals we've earned throughout the season, including the spiffy Galloway training finisher's medal you see pictured here, so that alone was reason enough to attend because when else are you going to wear all those medals? =P

    The breakfast buffet consisted of scrambled eggs (we hope), toast, bagels, croissants, fruits, yogurt, waffles, and granola bars. After everyone got their food, the entertainment began. A group of four sang parodies of famous songs with words adopted for the occasion. It was a hoot! They even had "commercial" breaks with made up jingles for things like body glide. After the entertainment, they recognized all the pace group leaders, support volunteers, boston qualifiers, and Goofy runners. Then they gave out a ton of awards including athlete of the year, outstanding rookie and alumni, and other fun things like best injury and the dumbass award. The event ended with a slide show and the Mij award for the the runner with most passion and dedication to each program. The photo below is my pace group, the Road Runners, with all of our bling and western getup.

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Race Report: UCF Adventure Race 2010

    Duck Duck Goose is ready to go!
    "Duck Duck Goose" before the race

    Adventure Racing 101
    Adventure Racing 101

    high ropes course
    high ropes course

    Kitzzy about to zip line at end of ropes course
    zip line at end of ropes course

    getting our barings
    getting our barings

    check point
    check point

    carrying the canoe
    carrying the canoe

    our egg survived the race!
    our egg survived the race!

    Duck Duck Goose is done!
    Duck Duck Goose is done!
    This was certainly an adventure! =) It forced me to go outside my comfort zone a bit, but I got through it in one piece. I'm very proud that we finished the entire course with all check points before the cut-off. There was a 4 hour time limit, after which you'd start losing check points. After 4 1/2 hours, you were disqualified. We finished in under 4 hours, and were not last! Yay! :)  (I'll update when official results are posted later next week.)

    Pre Race
    We had nice weather, cool and no rain, but the wind was fierce. This made everything far more difficult. Many teams were running late, so we got a late start, but that was fine because the sun was out by then. They had a little Adventure Racing 101 session to teach newbies (us) the basics. There are 2 rules in adventure racing: (1) race your own race, aka don't follow other teams who are probably going the wrong way; (2) if you don't have it, you don't need it -- we were required to have a helmet while on the bike, and a life vest while on the canoe. The rest of the gear (map, compas, water) was helpful, but you could still race without them.

    Race Details
    The race had 4 legs that each of the 40 teams completed in different order to spread out the field: trekking, cycling, challenge course, canoeing. Each leg began at the Reflection Pond, where you got instructions and the team passport for that leg. Following the instructions given, we made our way through the course to various checkpoints where we punched our passport. After we finished each leg, we returned to the Reflection Pond for the next passport. The first leg was assigned at random, then you got to choose the order in which to do the rest. We also had to carry a raw egg (some teams had to carry a water balloon) through the entire race with us, and got 2 minutes deducted off our final time if it was still intact when we finished.

    Leg 1 - Trekking
    We rode our bikes to the Observatory, dropped them off, and followed some trails to find 5 check points. As soon as we got there, we had to go off-road a bit to the check point station and show them our egg before beginning the trek. I fell off my bike and got all muddy right away, but was able to go on. Doug was not so lucky---a stick got tangled in his bike and broke his derailleur hanger, so he walked the bike back to the car and met us at Leg 2.

    This leg was a bit frustrating for me because I can't run as fast as Jason for as long, so I was always trailing behind and he found most of the check points on his own. But I didn't give up and tried to run as much as I could.

    Leg 2 - Challenge Ropes Course
    After biking back to the Reflection Pond and getting our 2nd passport, we made our way to the ropes course and met up with Doug. This leg consisted of 5 check points, a "gear challenge," and the high ropes course.  We had to complete the "gear challenge" before gaining access to the ropes course.

    The gear challenge consisted of our entire team making it across the "water" (marked area on the ground) by only stepping on 5 discs and carrying the egg, which could not come in direct contact with any of us so we had to hold it between 2 pieces of foam. The 5 discs had to always be in contact with one of us, or we'd lose it. We got into the groove quickly and made it through in no time.

    We then had to put on a helmet and figure out, without any help from the staff, how to get the harness on and tie the ropes with hooks to it (I don't know all the technical terms). Once we did that, they checked it was done properly and let us onto the ropes course. The first part of the course was a huge cargo net. I started off well, but the higher I went the more anxious I got.

    Once I made it to the top of the net, I fell apart. My brain could not comprehend how I could possibly not fall while standing on tiny cables. I froze and had to pull myself together before going on. With the help of my team mates, and hanging onto the ropes for dear life, I made it through the first section.

    I was still a bit apprehensive as we moved along to the other 3 sections. However, since I had conquered the first one without dying, I felt more comfortable and confident I could do this. I got through the others 3 sections a bit quicker, mainly because I wanted to get it over with, but not without ample screaming =P Oh yeah, did I mention the ridiculous cross winds that made this even more terrifying? 

    The last section was a zip line to lower us to the ground. That was fun and not as scary as it looked. (See video.) We forgot we were in a race for a moment, but quickly got back into it and found the 5 check points with little trouble.

    Leg 3 - Biking
    Jason and I rode back the Reflection pond and completed this leg without Doug, who walked backed to Lake Claire to wait for us to return to complete the last leg with us. This leg was not very challenging, except that biking into the wind sucked. It seemed that no matter which direction were rode, we had a headwind. After we found the 4 check points, I rode back to Lake Claire to wait with Doug while Jason rode back to the Reflection Pond to retrieve our last passport.

    Leg 4 - Canoeing
    When Jason got back, we grabbed life vests and 2 paddles, then walked over a bit to pick up the canoe, and the boys carried it to the dock. There was a check point along the trail way, then we had to canoe around Lake Claire for the other 4 check points. The wind was insane, making it very difficult to paddle. The boys paddled, and I manned the map/passport and prayed we wouldn't tip over. After getting all the punches, we had to return the canoe and tie it back up before getting the final punch. Jason returned to the Reflection Pond to drop off our last passport, then return to "cross the finish line" at 12:34 p.m.

    After we checked in and showed that our egg was intact, they recorded our finish time, we filled out some feedback forms, got a raffle ticket and a t-shirt, then ate some yummy Qdoba (chicken, beans, salad and chips). We hung around after lunch for the awards and raffle, then headed home.

    I had a lot of fun and would consider doing this race again next year, but maybe I'll put together an all girl team. I felt a little bad because I know I was holding Jason back during the race, and he had to work a lot harder than us, but we made it through without killing each other; I call that progress :) So what's next? Stay tuned to find out =P

    View more race photos and videos on Flickr.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Adventure Racing

    day 07/30 - handyman
    I've run 5Ks, 10Ks, a 15K, half marathons, and I will run my first marathon in 3 weeks. Last year, I put my cross training and bike communing to good use and ventured beyond running to complete a duathlon (run-bike-run). I went outside my comfort zone, conquering my fear of swimming in a lake, and completed a few sprint triathlons. Tomorrow, I go one step further.

    I will be participating with Team "Duck Duck Goose" in the UCF Adventure Race. The OA Annual Super Adventure Race is a sprint adventure race, taking teams about 3 hours to complete, that is fun for all types of racers whether they are seasoned or just a beginner. We don't know exactly what it will involve, but the site says to be prepared for lots of challenges, teamwork, climbing, paddling, navigation and a seriously great time.

    I'll get to use my mountain bike, which has been seriously neglected since I bought it. Since there will be running involved too, we (by we, I mean Jason) had to change the clipless pedals so I can ride with regular shoes (see photo mosaic). Since we don't know exactly what to expect, I have no goals for this race other than to do my best and have FUN! This should be a blast and just the distraction we need to fend off taper madness :) I'm excited for the new adventure, and I will post all about it tomorrow night along what crazy adventure I'm considering next ;)

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Ladies Night at Track Shack

    Ladies Night at Track Shack is a fundraiser for the Florida Hospital Track Shack Cancer Screening Program, which provides mammograms to under-served women in our community. It is the auxiliary event of the Lady Track Shack 5k presented by Florida Hospital. I really wanted to run the 5K this year, but since I'm doing the UCF Adventure race instead, I attended Ladies Night to support this great cause.

    The entrance fee was $10, which got you free wine and beer (I really need to acquire a taste for these), lite snacks (fruit, cheese and crackers), 20% off all purchases, and all the goodies you see in the picture below. I think my favorite is the "Tri with Sway" headband! I love wearing headbands when I work out to keep the sweat and hair off my face, and I'm well on my way to a great collection. It's not quite as big as my tote bag collection, but it's growing :)

    The event was really very well organized, as usually, because Track Shack never fails to impress. I had a lot of fun catching up with the gals from my Galloway group, and seeing what they look like in the light wearing normal clothes. See more photos of the event on Flickr.

    day 6/30 - Loot from Ladies Night at Track Shack

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Strength Training - Body Pump Class

    I do plenty of cardio -- walking, running, cycling, swimming (soon), and kickboxing -- which has helped improved my fitness, build endurance, and shed several pounds. Even though I am at a healthy weight, I still have a bit of belly fat I'd like to do without, and I'd like my body to be more toned in general. So it's time that I seriously consider a strength training routine because feeding muscle helps burn more fat and will make me stronger. I've dabbled in it a bit with body weight exercises -- push ups, squats, lunges, core exercises, and even yoga -- because I hate lifting weights. These have helped and my upper body is definitely stronger, but it's not enough. I do not do it consistently, and don't know enough to do it on my own.

    I joined the YMCA at downtown Orlando a few weeks ago, and got set up in their machines circuit, but I am still at a loss as to the right amount of weight, reps, and sets. I talked to Tim, one of their exercise class instructors and directors, and he recommended Body Pump 3x a week for best results. This morning was my first class, and it went well. It was challenging, but not as hard as I build up to be in my head.

    Since this was my first time, I took it easy on the weights while I got used to the exercises. I can probably handle more weight next time now that I know what to expect. I did most of the squats and lunges at the end with just body weight. I mainly want to strengthen my upper body and not tire my legs too much. I may focus on lower body more after the marathon, but for now body weight squats and lunges will suffice.

    I'll definitely be back next week. I don't want to add too much too fast, especially now that I am in marathon taper mode, so I'm going to try this once a week for now and see how it goes. I'll build up to 2-3 times a week after the marathon if I can find a way to fit into my triathlon training schedule.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Progress Update on 101 Things in 1001 Days

    It's been almost 2 months (51 days) since I started 101 Things in 1001 Days List, and I've already made quite a bit of progress. My goal is to complete at least 30 items on the list in 2010. Some tasks I enjoy doing, but never seem to find the time, so I made them recur every month or every year for the duration for the project. Below is my progress so far.

    1. get down to and maintain my weight under 125 lbs - I've maintained it, and exceeded it, for 3 weeks so far.
    2. write a letter to myself to open in 1001
    3. run for 1 hour straight (with no walk breaks)
    In Progress
    1. run a marathon - training done; race on 2/28
    2. build a 12 month emergency fund (take home pay) [7.3/12] 
    3. read 101 books (including 10 classics I've never read) [3/100] - Books Read
    4. learn to change the oil in my car - learned, but didn't finish
    5. do 100 full push-ups in a row [20/100]
    6. do 200 crunches in a row [50/200]
    7. do 25 pull ups [2/25]
      Monthly Tasks
      1. take a photo for FGR/TRP once a month [2/32] - Jan 2010, Feb 2010
      Yearly Tasks
      1. blog daily for 30 days each year [0/3] - February 2010 in progress
      2. document a day in my life in pictures each year [1/3] - New Year's Eve
      3. take a picture a day for 30 days in a row each year [0/3] - February 2010 in progress
      4. volunteer at one race each year [1/3] - Disney Marathon - Jan 10, 201

      Monday, February 1, 2010

      January 2010 Recap

      The end of January marks the end of marathon training and the begin of a 4 week taper. I've had a great running season, and I am more than ready to tackle this marathon, then switch my focus to triathlons for a bit. Thankfully, I have 2 races before the marathon to keep me busy and motivated.

      I joined the YMCA this month to have someplace to swim, attend exercise classes like kickboxing, and begin incorporating strength training regularly into my workout routine. So far I am loving it -- been to a few classes and done a few machines -- but have yet to make it to the pool.

      My running goal for January was to run 100 miles, but a few runs got cut short and that didn't happen. I almost went running yesterday to meet that goal, but realized how foolish it was to risk injury to meet an arbitrary goal -- not to mention that it's 109 when I add in the walking miles. Even at 97 miles, that's 10 more than last month and that's accomplishment enough for me. I also wanted to exercise an average of 1 hour a day (towards my goal of exercising 365 hours in 2010) and I exceeded that. Below are all the details.

      January Stats
      • walking = 12 miles; 3h 23m (I've been walking to the Y, which 1.2 roundtrip)
      • running = 97 miles; 20h 36m (about 1/2 of all exercise hours was running)
      • cycling = 14 miles; 2 hrs (includes trainer and spin class)
      • swimming = 0
      • other = 15hr 27m (includes yoga, core, strength, kickbox, etc)
      • total = 123 miles; 41h 25m (avg 1.3 hrs / day)
      Goals for February
      PS - The photo of the day will be posted later to the 30 Days - February 2010 Flickr Set. I won't always post them to the blog too, so check there if you wan't to keep up with them daily.
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