Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One Green Thing: Bike to Work Day

Lately, with the exception of the February when I blogged every day, my blog has turned into one race report after another. As a way to blog more regularly, I'm going to begin posting some weekly features on my blog. The first you saw on Monday, and I will try to participate in Jillian's Brain Exchange every week as long as I have something to contribute to the weekly topic.

Jason gave me the idea for the 2nd weekly feature: One Green Thing. Every week, I will feature one thing that I am doing to help the environment. It may be something new I tried that week, or something I've been doing for a while that I want to bring to your attention with tips and resources on how you can do it too if you choose. I'll post every Wednesday until I run out of things. You may think this has nothing to do with running or biking or swimming, but this blog is about my lifestyle change, not just fitness :) And you will find that the two do intersect plenty.

bike clinic host So today's topic is Bike to Work Day, which took place last Friday on March 26. I should have posted about it then, but I'm a slacker =P May is national bike month, but because it's hot in Florida in May, we celebrate it in March and the last Friday is Bike to Work Day. Jason and I have been biking to work semi-regularly (read "when the weather is nice and are not training for a marathon =P) for 2 years now. We organize Bike to Work at the office each year with free bagels for all cyclists to raise awareness and get others to try it too. This year we went a step further and hosted a bike clinic the previous week to further raise awareness about cycling safety and how to change a flat tire.

Bike to Work Day Crew There were 4 of us who rode to work together on Friday. The forecast called for rain earlier in the week, but the rain cleared out just in time to yield a beautiful morning for riding, and we spotted 3 bunnies along our route.

The ride home was a bit more eventful. We had 20+ mph headwinds the entire way, so we took it slow and enjoyed the alligator sightseeing safari. We spotted four gators on the Econ Trail, including this huge one. You can see more photos from bike to work day and the bike clinic on Flickr.

self portrait Bike commuting, wether to work or to the market, is a great way to go green because it is a win-win for all: you get some exercise while enjoying some fresh air and saving money on gas, and you help ease congestion and reduce pollution by having one less car on the road. I also find that I am much more productive at work in the mornings when I bike commute. It's probably all those endorphins from the exercise.

When we lived closer to UCF, we biked to work 3-4 times a week. Now our ride is 14.5 miles each way, so we only ride 1-2 days a week. I would love to ride more often, but time is the biggest limiting factor since it takes twice as long to ride our bikes than to drive there. This would not be such a problem since I get up by 6 am to exercise most days anyway (I can actually sleep in a tad on days when we bike to work), but if I spend all my time biking to and from work, when will I run and swim? We're going to try biking every day one week and see how it goes, but I don't think I'll have the time or energy to sustain that in the long run unless I gave up running -- yeah, that's NOT happening =P

So what are you waiting for? Give bike commuting a try! If you already do, tell us about your experience in the comments, including tips, tricks, and tools you use to make your commute easier, safer and more enjoyable.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Brain Exchange: All About Blogs!

Jillian, from Finishing is Winning, is starting a weekly Q&A called Monday Brain Exchange for bloggers to play along in an attempt to fill the void left by the Runner's Lounge TiaRT. Today is the kick-off with this great question:

What/Who influenced you to start a blog? Where did you get your blog title? How long have you been blogging?

Before and After I am not really sure who influenced me to start this blog, other than probably all the other great running/fitness/weight loss blogs out there. I've had a blog on livejournal for a long time, but that was more for silly stuff. When I finally realized I was overweight and was ready to do something about it, I started this public blog to document my journey. That was over 2 years ago, on February 10, 2008.

My blog was originally named "Road to Fitness" because I wanted to focus on improving my fitness instead of just losing weight (shedding the pounds was a nice side effect, but also a big driving force). I eventually changed the name to "Lifestyle Change" because I wanted the blog to be about more than just fitness, and because I wanted to change my entire lifestyle not just be on a fad diet until the weight came off.

I still struggle with maintaining my weight at whatever magic number I deem appropriate in my head, but there is no doubt I've changed my lifestyle. I eat far better than I used to, even if I can't kick my chocolate and ice cream habit; I eat out way less and cook at home more; and exercise is no longer a means to an end; it is now a way of life and I can't imagine my life without it.

So that's the story of my blog's birth :) I can't believe I'm still blogging 2 years later, and I am forever grateful to everyone out there who reads and comments on my entries -- whether here or on facebook or on twitter -- and continues to encourage me in my never ending quest for the next challenge.

I want to continue blogging regularly, not just race reports, so I may start doing more weekly theme posts like this but perhaps I should start others of my own. Any ideas?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

0 to Marathon in 2 years!

Looking back through my logs and reflecting on my journey so far (oh no, it's far from over!), I realized that I basically went from 0 to marathon in just under 2 years. This blows my mind. I never thought I could do this.

I started my journey to a better me in February 2008. I walked my first 2 mile race at the end of March, and started running with the Couch to 5k program during the first week in April. I've had some ups and downs, but I've not stop running yet and hope I never do : ) In the past 2 years, I've run over 30 races including countless 5Ks, 2 5 milers, 3 10Ks, 1 15k, 3 half marathons, and 1 full marathon.

I've tracked every race and milestone run in a handy spreadsheet, along with my pace, and it's amazing to see how far I've come. Take a look at the link below, and if you ever get frustrated see that it didn't happen over night but that a little patience and perseverance eventually pays off :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Race Report: Winter Park Road Race Distance Dare (8.2)

This morning I ran the Winter Park Road Race Distance Dare: 2 miles +10K. It was a fantastic race! The weather was perfect, I had my friends and family there, I ran perfect negative splits at both races, and I got 2 PRs! :)

Before the start of the 2 miler with Mom, Dad, Jen and Kerlene
The race took place on Park Ave, less than 5 miles away, so we rode our bikes there. We got to try out Google maps biking directions, and they worked great. It took us along a nice route of side streets and managed to avoid Mills and Orange Ave entirely. The ride there was a little cold, but it was a great warm up for the race. The ride home was a bit more challenging because my legs were tired and sore from the race, and we had a headwind the entire time.

2 Miler
I first completed this race, my first race ever, 2 years ago. It was the reason I began running in April of 2008, so I've been looking forward to running it again ever since, but missed it last year because I was cheering on Jason at his first triathlon. 2 years ago, I walked most of the 2 miles with a few minutes of jogging sprinkled in and a sprint at the end. Today, I ran the entire 2 miles without walking, and pushed it pretty hard. I almost managed to run it in 20 minutes, but 2.04 miles in 20:47 @ 10:11 min/mile pace (per the Garmin) is pretty damn close! My clock time 2 years ago was 28:54; today's clock time was 20:59. That's almost 8 minutes faster! :)

More Stats:
  • garmin mile splits = 2.04 miles in 20:47 @ 10:11 min/mile pace (no walking)
    • mile 1 = 10:20
    • mile 2 = 10:08
  • clock = 20:59 (we had a chip, but there was no mat at the start)
  • age group = 16 / 58
  • gender = 111 / 381
  • overall = 217 / 584
I had a few minutes to spare after I finished the 2 miler, so I found Jason, gave him my arm warmers and buff, got a drink of water, then walked a bit towards the start line. Since I'm supposed to be recovering from the marathon I ran 2 week ago, I did not plan to race this too hard; instead I just wanted to use it as a training run to add millage. However, I really wanted to PR and run it in under 1:10 if the opportunity presented itself.

I told myself that I would not push it too much to make that happen, specially since I had pushed hard during the 2 miler, but I figured that I'm in such great shape from marathon training that I might be able to pull it off without exerting myself too much. To ensure I didn't totally screw myself if I tried to PR, I ran the entire race with 2:1 intervals. This helped me run much faster over all, but still allow for plenty of recovery and prevent injury. The weather was perfect, and I felt great, so I gave it my best shot and it worked! I felt strong the entire race, and I was still able to sprint to the finish in under 1:10!

The Garmin says I ran 6.3 miles in 1:08:36 @ 10:53 min/mile pace! It amazes me that I ran 6.2 miles at a slightly faster pace with walk breaks than I ran the 5 miles without walking at the BCM relay. This is a HUGE 10K PR. My previous official 10K PR was at Disney's Race for the Taste 10K in October 2008, where I finished with a chip time of 1:15:52 (6.34 in 1:15:16 per the Garmin). However, I did run the first 10K of the OUC Half on Dec 2009 in 1:10:31, so I'm happy that I even beat that time and that I finished in under 1:10 even by the clock! :)

More Stats:
  • garmin spits = 6.3 miles in 1:08:36 @ 10:53 min/mile pace (2:1 intervals)
    • mile 1 = 11:25
    • mile 2 = 11:13
    • mile 3 = 11:00
    • mile 4 = 10:53
    • mile 5 = 10:47
    • mile 6 = 10:39
    • finish (.3) = 8:37 (2:32)
  • chip = 1:08:35
  • clock = 1:09:50
  • overall = 1344 / 1779
  • gender = 649 / 981
  • age group = 91 / 133
Distance Dare Stats: 
  • garmin = 8.34 miles in 1:29:24 @ 10:43 min/mile pace
  • chip/clock = 1:29:33 (2 miler clock time + 10K net time)
  • gender = 38 / 54
I ate a banana before leaving the apartment, a pineapple gu roctane (no caffeine) before the 2 mile race, and a vanilla orange gu roctane (2x caffeine) about 1.5 miles into the 10K. This most have given me the energy I needed to push through the end.

After the race, I met up with Jason, Jen, Kerlene, and Shannon (whom I have not seen since High School) and we walked over to the Farmer's Market after getting a smoothie sample and eating a banana. We were going to get some omelets, but we all decided to head home instead. After we got home, I had a homemade egg beaters omelet with toast and a homemade smoothie. I was pretty tired and sore, so I took a 2 hour nap, then went for a swim. Now I'm plotting to go get some frozen yogurt, then relax the rest of the evening. I'm going to sleep great tonight! :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Marathon Aftermath and Virtual Race Report

It's been a week since my first marathon, and I'm still glowing a little :) I am no longer sore, and I'm ready to get back to training for my next adventure. I've applied for the NYC Marathon lottery, and am seriously considering the Flying Pig Marathon in May. You'd think after conquering something like this, I'd be ready for a break from running or at least the early morning Saturday runs, but I truly can't imagine not having running in my life. I'm so grateful for that.

Here's an overview of my post-marathon week:

Sunday - after I crossed the finish line, I kept walking to the food line and beer garden (for Sean, but they ran out just as I got to the front of the line) then to the parking garage to drive to the hotel. After showering, we went to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch. We drove home, posted our race reports and photos, then went to Texas de Brazil for a celebratory feast, then to bed early.

Monday - took the day off from work and had a day full of relaxation that began with a couple's massage at Massage Engy, followed by comfort food at Jason's Deli, then a short nap, then a short walk around Lake Eola. I was pretty sore and that walk was slow and painful.

Tuesday - It finally caught up to me and I got sick, so I stayed home in bed all day. I slept most of the day and was better by dinner, so went for another short walk with Jason after dinner. I was not as sore as Monday, so this walk was a lot more enjoyable and a bit faster.

Wednesday - I started the day with an hour of yoga. I felt much better all day and barely sore, so attempted my first run in the afternoon. I kept it short, slow and with plenty of walking: 2 miles at 1:1 in 29 minutes.

Thursday - Soreness is a thing of the past, but I can't seem to wake up at my usual 6 am. I hate sleeping late because then I wake up with a headache, but I figured I'd indulge my body this week. After work, ran with our corporate 5k team. 1.6 miles in 21 minutes @ 13:07 pace -- 2 rounds of 90s run/90s walk/3m run/3m walk + an extra 3 minute run at the end. Legs felt great!

Friday - Was going to do yoga before work, but slept in again. I figured that was best since I planned to get up early on Saturday for a "long" run.

Saturday - Met my Galloway group for 6 miles at 6 am -- my first long run since the marathon. Ran a total of 6.66 miles easy using 1:1. The run felt great and legs held up fine. I really think walking every day for the first few days, and the massage really helped speed up my recovery. I followed the run with "The Eleven" - 55 push ups and crunches (11 push ups + 1 situp, then 10 push ups + 2 situps, etc). I also rode 18.5 miles that afternoon, and walked a few miles that night to get some yogurt.

Virtual Race Report
Sunday's run was also my attempt at Razz's Virtual Race "Global Warming, My Ass!* 6.66 Mile Run." I ran 6.66 miles in 1:28 and felt good. Since this was 1 week post-marathon, I didn't have any goals for this race except to get it done. It was a pretty chilly morning, so it was an appropriate day to run this race. I started at 6 am and went out for 6 miles at 1:1 with my Galloway group. The first 6 miles of the course was an out and back from Glenridge Middle School to Brandiwines in downtown Winter Park, then I finished the .66 miles with few laps on the track. I took it nice and easy, but I tried to push it a little at the end. A 13:14 min/mile pace is not award winning, but maybe I can place in the bottom 3. I was just glad to be recovered enough to be able to cover this distance at any pace. Next week I tackle the Winter Park Road Race distance dare: 2 miles followed by a 10K. Hopefully I can do a little better then.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This marathon made possible by ...

... bondi band, pearl izumi, and moleskin

In addition to executing a great pacing strategy, I was well prepared to ensure minimal damage to my body from the elements (aka cold and later heat) and the impact from running. This post is an homage to the products that helped me get through my first marathon (relatively) unscathed.

Pearl Izumi Seamless Arm Warmers

I've sang the praises of my arm warmers before, and I'll sing them again. I bought these before my 1st half marathon, and it's one of the best purchases I've ever made. They are great for running and cycling, but I've used them more when running (that may be because I run more than I bike =P). They do an amazing job at keeping me warm and dry when I run in the cold, and they are an easy way to regulate my temperature because I can pull them up and down while running. When it gets too hot, I just roll them down to my wrists and I can use them to wipe the sweat off my face.

Pearl Izumi Jacket (with removable sleeves)

This is the best purchase I've made since buying the arm warmers. This jacket is lightweight, but does a good job as an outer layer when it's cold or wet. The best part is that it has removable sleeves so you can turn the jacket into a vest when it gets too hot, or just unzip them partially for added ventilation. It also has 3 pockets, one of which is at the small of your back and because you can tighten it at the waist it doesn't really bounce around when you have stuff in your pockets.

I was worried about wearing a jacket during the marathon because I knew I'd eventually warm up and I don't enjoy running with it around my waist. I took a gamble because I wanted to also make use of the extra pockets and they were my saving grace. I used the big back pocket to stash my gloves and eventually the sleeves and buff when it got too warm. It didn't weigh me down, held all my gear, and kept me at just the right temperature.

bondi band buff

mile something or other lol
see more photos of the buff in action
This was an incredible find at the expo on Saturday and it's already at the top of my list of favorite gear. I dare say it's the best purchase I've made since buying the Pearl Izumi jacket and arm warmers.

As I was making my usual visit and rummaging through headbands at the bondi band booth at the expo, I stumbled upon this buff (pictured on right). At first I thought it was a piece of cloth that had not been cut into headbands yet and somehow got mixed in with the stuff for sale. I quickly discovered it was one of 3 buffs they had left for sale. (It must be a new product because it is not even on their website yet). I chose the black one because it's made of the same great wicking material as the other bondi bands I own and it goes with everything :)

This is a very versatile product that you can configure as a hat, headband, scarf, face mask, and anything else you can think of. I wore it during the marathon around my neck and over my head and face at the start of the race. As I warmed up, I'd move it down to my neck as a scarf, and as it got colder I'd move it up to serve as another layer over my ears and head. The best part was when my nose got cold and started to run, I simply put the buff over my nose. It quickly warmed it up and stopped the running. I cannot express how grateful I am that I found this and wore it on race day. It will also come in very handy when we start biking to work on cold mornings.


This stuff is amazing! I taped some to the parts of my feet I know are prone to blistering or getting tender on long runs, then I lathered the rest of the foot with body glide. I ran a marathon and do not have a single blister! Not even the beginnings of one -- though one of my toe nails looks a little bruised.

It goes without saying that body glide and my race ready shorts are a must have for every race regardless of temperature and duration. The products I discussed here are specially useful during the Florida winter when it can be in the low 40s at the beginning of a race and 70s at the end.

*Disclaimer: I did not get paid to endorse any of these products. I just do because they rock. But I would not refuse free stuff to try *hint* *hint*

Monday, March 1, 2010

February 2010 Recap

February was a great month with lots of accomplishments and first: first adventure race, first marathon relay, and first marathon! :) March will be a step back as I recover from the marathon and ease into the next phase of training. I'm still deciding if I want to train for an olymic triathlon at the end of the season or just stick with sprints and focus on my running.

February Stats
  • walking = 11 miles
  • running = 63 miles
  • cycling = 14 miles
  • total = 88 miles; 27h 54m (avg 1 hrs / day)
Click each link for race reports or relevant posts.
Goals for March
  • recover! :)
  • begin swimming again
  • 3/13 - Winter Park Road Race - I want to do at least the 2 miler, since it was my first race ever 2 years ago. I'd love to do the 10k since I've missed it the past 2 years, but may be too soon after the marathon for that. I'll see how I feel on Saturday and decide then.
  • 3/21 - Valencia 5K (maybe)
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