Monday, May 31, 2010

MBE: Lessons Learned

Monday Brain Exchange (MBE) is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at Finishing Is Winning. This week's topic is Lessons Learned.

Question: It goes without saying that anytime you challenge yourself, you learn something. What are some of the things you have learned on your own personal journey through fitness, whether it be from triathlon, running or just simply training?

I've had a long day, and I'm too sore to blog because I ran 7.5 miles without any walking this morning, then spent the day at Typhoon Lagoon where we had to climb more stairs than I should have, so I'm going to keep this short and in top 10 bullet form. I'm sure this list is not exhaustive, and in random order.
  1. Nobody knows my body as well as I do, and what works for them may not work for me, so take their advice with a grain of salt.
  2. I like running alone more than I think I do.
  3. Don't start a race too fast or a possible PR will quickly turned into a PW.
  4. There are no easy fixes; to see results you have to put in the work and it takes time. Lasting results take longer, but they are much more rewarding.
  5. My body is capable of way more than I know, but I have to push my limits my own way and in my own time (because my brain is not always on the same page as my body).
  6. I've run through heat, humidity, rain, and freezing temps. If I miss a run, I obviously didn't want it bad enough =P
  7. Through trial and error, I've learned to tell when I'm being lazy vs when my body needs a rest day.
  8. Setting goals (e.g. registering for a race) helps keep me motivated to not skip workouts.
  9. Running is addictive :)
  10. Always run your own race -- see #1

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Race Report: Firefighter Challenge and Stair Climb

ready to rock this challenge! Well, I survived the Firefighter Challenge, and it was indeed a challenge. It took me 11 minutes to get through it, which was slower than I expected, but I also didn't plan on doing it in firefighter gear, so that slowed me down a lot. I wore a firefighter suit (pants and jacket) for the whole thing (plus an oxygen tank during most of the stair climb), and those suits are super warm; I was sweating the instant I put it on. Here's a summary of what we had to do:
  1. sprint across the parking lot
  2. pull a weighted fire sled walking backwards
  3. ceiling breach and pull (pull a stick attached to the sled up and down 10 times)
  4. pull a charged fire house across the parking lot
  5. turn on the fire house and "put out the fire" (aka knock over a cone)
  6. run around the parking lot to the maze (what!? why?)
  7. crawl through a maze with reduce profile and save the baby
  8. climb 19 flights of stairs, which I did wearing an oxygen tank for the first 12 flights 
"I saved the baby" Running in the suit was a challenge in itself. I was out of breath by the time I finished putting out the fire and began the run around the parking lot to the maze. Whose idea was it to add that to the challenge? My guess is that it helped spread out the field.

By the time I got to the maze, I was glad to take a break and crawl on my hands and knees. I thought having a baby doll in there for us to save was a nice touch, but I was basically dragging it around the maze so I am sure it wouldn't have made it out alive anyway. When I exited the maze, with the baby, I was already exhausted but kept running towards the stair well.

let's climb some stairs ... ONE slow step at a time =P For a split second, I considered not wearing the oxygen tank for the stair climb (it was optional, just like the suit), but when the guy asked me I just said sure. I regretted that decision the moment he put it on, but I was determined to get the full experience. The tank was so heavy that I could barely manage to walk up the steps, let alone try to run. I was so hot with all that gear on, that I was overheating and I just wanted to stop but kept at it. I was breathing heavily and barely moving, but somehow was making progress. I wanted so badly to take off the tank, but I didn't even have the strength to do that.

When I got to the 12th floor, one of the volunteers was walking up with me and carried the oxygen tank to the top for me. That made a HUGE difference. My legs no longer felt like led, but I was so beat that I still couldn't run. I was so glad when it was over and they stripped off the firefighter suit. The guy who walked up the last few flights with me was concerned for my health and kept trying to get me to go see the EMTs, but I knew I just needed some air and water. That did the trick.

The official results show that it took me 3:52 to complete the outside obstacle course and 7:08 to climb 19 flights of stairs. I finished 17 out of 21 in my age group, 38 out of 43 women, and 111 out of 121 overall. I'm just glad I wasn't last, but these results are a bit skewed because not everyone did the challenge with gear on so those that wore regular clothes or didn't wear the oxygen tank up the stairs could move much faster. I considered doing the challenge again without gear to see how much faster I could finish, but I was exhausted and hungry. We headed to IHOP for a well earned breakfast instead.

View more photos on Flickr.

Monday, May 24, 2010

MBE: Summer Racing and Week 20 Recap

Week 20 Recap

Not much to report this week, so I'm combining my weekly recap with my MBE post. I've been on vacation for the past 2 weeks, and that seems to have extended to exercise too as the only thing I did last week was run a half marathon yesterday. I guess we could say I really mastered tapering =P I did walk about 2 miles yesterday to the farmer's market and Publix, but I couldn't be bothered to do much else. I'm hoping to get back to my workout routine this week, and maybe get in the pool at least once before my first triathlon on less than 3 weeks. Yikes!

MBE: Summer Racing

Monday Brain Exchange (MBE) is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at  Finishing Is Winning. This week's topic is  Summer Racing.

Question: What are your summer race plans? Are you trying anything new this year? What race are you looking most forward to?

May is my month to try new things, and so far it's gone great. I played paintball, did Muddy Buddy with Jason, and ran my first out-of-state race, the Bay to Breakers 12K, in costume. I'm going rock climbing on Wednesday, which I've done once or twice before but it was many years ago, and then on Saturday I'll be tackling the Firefighter Challenge.

I'll spend the rest of the summer ramping up millage for my next marathon in November and doing a few sprint triathlons for fun and cross training. My heart is still not into swimming or biking, but I'm hoping that I'll catch the triathlon bug after the first one in June. It won't be pretty, but I'll finish. If it all goes well, maybe I'll train for an olympic triathlon in September, but that will be a last minute decision.

This will be the first time I train for a fall marathon, so it will be interesting to see how I do with the long runs in the heat -- in previous years I didn't start running long until Sept/Oct -- but we usually start as early as 3 a.m. so it should be ok. I'll probably also do a few shorter races if I can fit them into my training schedule, and try to run that sub-30 5K. You can see my planned racing schedule so far at the top of the sidebar on the right.

How about you? What's in store for you this summer?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Race Report: LBLO + Virtual Rock Your Socks Half Marathon

wanna race?
This morning was the Left Behind Left Over Half Marathon (LBLOHM), which I'm also using as my run for the Rock Your Socks Virtual Half Marathon. The LBLOHM is an unofficial race put on by Track Shack's Marathonfest/Galloway training groups to commemorate the end of our winter session, and to give those of us not traveling out of state for a spring half or full marathon a goal race. Everyone brings snacks for a post-race potluck, and Track Shack provides leftover bibs, medals, shirts, and other goodies.

I woke up around 3:45 am before the alarm went off, and got dressed in shorts, my galloway singlet, and my newest bondi band purchase (pictured to the left). Isn't it the cutest? This will now be my official race day headband :) I also wore a wrist sweat band to wipe off excess sweat off my face because I knew it would be a very hot and humid race when it barely felt cool when I stepped outside to check out the weather at 4 am.

This was indeed the warmest half marathon I've ever run (previous ones were in December and February), so I'm thrilled that I managed to push myself hard and finish 13.23 miles in 2:35:38 @ 11:45 pace, which is a new PR by 3+ minutes. I hit the 13.1 mark in 2:33:41. I was really hoping to finish under 2:30, but sub-2:35 is a much more realistic goal -- especially considering the weather -- and I gave it my all until the very end. Even after learning we had run a little extra, I pushed to the finish line anyway. I started slow, using 2:1 intervals and was almost last, then picked up the pace halfway passing a ton of people, but I still couldn't speed up as much as I wanted. I won't bore you with all 13 mile splits, and although they were not perfect splits, I did negative split the two halves (as well as the each quarter and third) -- my average pace for the 1st half was 11:54 and 11:36 for the 2nd half.

After the race, there were plenty of snacks available, but I knew I couldn't stomach any of the sweets.I settled for a banana and ice pops instead, then ate a friend egg and bagel when I got home. I also went home with some nice track shack tech shirts. This was a great way to end the winter season and get me excited for marathon training starting in two weeks. Next week I'll be tackling the Firefighter Challenge, then June 5th is the Galloway group kick off and magic mile time trail. I hope I can push myself and run the mile in under 9 minutes. We'll see.

Monday, May 17, 2010

MBE: Summer Running Tips

Monday Brain Exchange (MBE) is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at  Finishing Is Winning. This week's topic is  Summer Running Tips

Question: The heat is on its way (and for some has already made its arrival) and the summer is getting close. What are some of your tried and true summer running tips for staying safe and cool in the heat?

Like Jill, I too prefer running in the summer than the winter because it is not very motivating getting up early and spending longer bundling up in layers than it takes to complete a short run in freezing temps. Running in the heat has it's own challenges, so here is how I dealing with them.

  • run in the morning before it gets too hot, or run indoors. I cannot stand the treadmill, so getting up early is my only option. I actually prefer to exercise in the mornings, so this works out well. Besides, I'm not going to be racing indoors or at night, so I need to acclimate to the heat.
  • hydrate! During the winter, I can easily run 4-5 miles with no water. In the summer, I need water after 2-3 miles. Even though I hate carrying anything while I run, I use a handheld water bottle for short runs and a hydration belt for longer runs.
  • wear appropriate gear aka wicking fabrics. I never run in cotton; it doesn't breath well and takes forever to dry, so it will weigh you down and make you feel hotter. You don't need to spend a lot of money on tech shirts; C9 by Champion has a nice selection available at Target for as little as $10. You can also find other brands heavily discounted at places like Ross or outlet stores. I also wear bondi bands to keep the sweat out of my eyes, and usually a hat and sunglasses to keep shield me from the sun.
  • wear sunscreen. I'm really bad about remembering this one, mainly because my darker complexion means I don't get sunburnt easily. However, that doesn't preclude me from getting sun skin damage so I need to be more diligent. Not all sunscreens are created equal, so take a look this guide to help you find one that works for you.

Week 19 Recap

I've been on vacation in San Francisco most of this week, so there has been no swimming or biking for me. However, I've done plenty of running and walking, and the hills more than make up for it :) We've also been cooking most of our meals, and still sticking to a vegetarian diet, so hopefully I haven't put on too much weight. I've been eating a lot of sweets though, so who knows, but I'm having a blast and can make up for it next week. Below is a summary of some of the things we've done so far.

SF Activity Summary

  • Ran down Marina Blvd with Golden Gate bridge in the background (we're planning to run ON the bridge on Tuesday)
  • Ghirardelli Square (where I acquired a bag of 80 chocolate pieces that's slowly dwindling)
  • Night Waterfront Segway Tour
  • Tour of Industrial Light and Magic, including behind the scenes reel
  • Bay to Breakers Expo (which was rather disappointing, but made good use of the stick booth)
  • Saw new Robin Hood movie for free
  • Visited Rodeo Beach/Cove and Sausalito
  • Ran Bay to Breakers 12k

Workout Summary
See details on Dailymile
  • Monday - ran 3 miles in 35 minutes
  • Tuesday - packing for SF trip
  • Wednesday - walked 6.6 miles around SF
  • Thursday - ran 3.1 miles in 33 minutes (new non-stop 5K PR)
  • Friday - around the world abs - 20 reps each
  • Saturday - REST
  • Sunday - Bay to Breakers - ran 7.57 miles in 1:29; walked 5 miles
Week Totals (rounded)
  • run/walk - 26 miles = walk 12 miles (3x) + ran 14 miles (3x)
  • bike - 0
  • swim - 0
  • strength/core - 12m (1x)
  • yoga - 0
  • exercise hours - 6.5 hrs (7 sessions)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Race Report: Bay to Breakers 2010

at the start line (with flying tortilla behind us)
See more photos on Flickr
I ran the Bay to Breakers 12K this morning, and it was awesome! We're definitely coming back next year and dressing up, but I will not wear a wig -- though it did help keep me warm in the breezy morning.

We awoke before 5 am to get into our costumes, hopped on a bus by 6 am, and were lined up at Corral C by 7 am. We lined up at the front of the corral and enjoyed admiring all the costumes while we waited for the 8 am race start. It wasn't long before the famous tortilla toss began (you can see a blurry tortilla above our heads in the pic to the right). While we waited, a lot of people asked us to pose for photos, and Jason even got interviewed on camera about his awesome costume! How cool is that?

My main goal above all else was to have fun and take in the full experience. I initially planned to run using 2:1 or 3:1 intervals and take photos during the walk breaks, but I abandoned that idea and let the excitement carry me. I figured I'd walk every mile or so, or at the water stops, or whenever I saw a cool costume I wanted to photograph. While I know I can run this distance faster, I'm pleased with a sub-12 min/mile pace since I ran most of the 7.5 miles without walk breaks, except for the big hill and 2 water stops. I chose to walk up that entire hill, and take photos, so I wouldn't deplete my energy for the rest of the race and still enjoy myself. After a quick pause at the water stop at mile 5, I picked up the pace for the last 2.5 miles and made up all the time I lost walking up the hill.

The costumes were abundant and really creative, both from the runners and spectators. Running in costume is so much fun, and I am starting to embrace the running skirt. It is no more or less comfortable than shorts (since I had some underneath) but it sure is more fun! :) The course itself is gorgeous and pretty fast -- except for the one big hill, the course was fairly flat and the 2nd half was downhill. I wish I had taken more photos, but I think I captured the essence. You can see all the photos in my B2B Flickr Set. We intended to hang around after the race to see some of the costumes and take more photos, but we were were freezing. So after a quick photo we found Chris and walked back to the apartment for a hot shower, change of clothes, and a warm meal.

Below are my stats:
  • Garmin - 7.57 miles in 1:29:15 @ 11:46 min/mile pace
  • Chip Time - 1:29:13
  • Overall - 10999th of 24304 (top 45%)
  • Female - 4232nd of 12477 (top 35%)
  • F30-39 - 1375th of 3512 (top 39%)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Five: Bay to Breakers

I picked up my race packet today and was underwhelmed by the expo, but I'm still excited about the race. I plan to have a blast running with friends and taking lots of photo breaks :) So here's my short and sweet post for today, my top 5 reasons to run Bay to Breakers (subject to change on Sunday after I actually run the race =P):
  1. It's a great excuse to visit San Francisco -- as if I really need one ;)
  2. Running in a costume is fun
  3. It's exciting being part of such a huge race (60K+ runners/walkers)
  4. New distance = automatic PR
  5. Hills build character

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Three Things Thursday: SF Hills, SF Run, Segway Tour

#1 I walked 6.6 miles in the San Francisco hills yesterday, and I'm a bit surprised that my calves and hamstrings are so sore. It was an incredible workout, and the last mile was carrying groceries uphill then 4 flights of stairs up to the apartment. Running Bay to Breakers on Sunday out to be interesting.

#2 I went for my first SF run this morning, and it was awesome. We ran along Marina Blvd. to an amazing view. I ran 5K in 33 minutes! That's my fastest time for a non-stop 5K and only 50 seconds slower than my 5K PR. With a little speed work, I know a 30 minute 5K is possible before the end of the year. Splits: 10:58 - 11:03 - 10:12 - 7:58 (46s)

#3 We ended the day with the Night Waterfront Segway Tour, which was awesome! After a quick training session, our small group of 4 plus the tour guide took to the streets of SF. I was surprised to learned we were riding on the streets and that it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk. This worried me a little at first, but quickly got over it when I realized it's no different than riding a bike on the street. I was a bit apprehensive of riding up hills, but it wasn't too bad. Riding downhill was a bit scarier, but you quickly get over that too. Our first stop on the tour was the pier where we could ride around on our own and enjoy the amazing view  at dusk of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the boats on the harbor, and Ghirardelli Square. Then we rode around the city while our tour guide shared fun facts. It was quite chilly, so I'm glad I bundled up. My feet were freezing and I still felt cold despite wearing a ton of layers. After the tour, we rode the bus home with a big bag of Ghirardelli chocolate squares. Yum!

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    One Green Thing: Air Travel

    We flew to San Francisco today, and I have to admit that the thought of green travel didn't even cross my mind when we planned this trip. It seemed like the perfect topic for today's blog post, so I sat in the airport in Dallas during my lay over researching it. I know it's a little late now, but maybe I can apply some of what I learn to the return trip, or be pleasantly surprised at what we may have already done without trying.

    As a general rule, flying is not very green because of the huge amount of carbon emissions planes produce. However, there are a few things we can do to reduce the impact on the environment. I'm going to use this article from Planet Green, 5 Ways to Green Your Flight, as a guide for the rest of this post.

    Book a Direct Flight

    You don't have to tell me twice! I would obviously opt for a direct flight when available for a reasonable price, but now I have another reason to make this a priority next time. I had no idea that about 50% of the carbon emissions released by airplanes come from the takeoff and the landing. So having a lay over on your flight increases the impact significantly, not to mention the extra fuel burnt while idling on the runway. Our flight had one stop in Dallas, Texas. I didn't book the flights, so I am not sure if a non-stop flight was an option. We often can't control this, but I'm going to look into all the extra costs (both financially and environmentally) of both options the next time I book a flight.

    Choose a Green Airline

    We flew on American Airlines, who has apparently just introduced 76 new greener jets to their fleet that get about 28% better gas millage than their older jets. I don't think that we flew in one of these planes, but it's good to know they are taking a step in the right direction. We also had e-tickets, although we still got a printed boarding pass upon check-in. It would be nice if it was completely paperless -- letting me check-in online and pull up the boarding pass on my iPhone to get scanned at the gate.

    Buy Carbon Offsets

    I didn't even know this was an option, but I'm looking into it and will certainly be buying my share to offset this flight as well as the impact of our car. The idea is that you calculate the carbon emissions produce during your flight and pay that money to fund a project that reduces greenhouse gases. I'm still doing a lot of research on this, and will likely write a future post about it, but I was astonished to learned that 1 flight can produce more emissions than a car does for an entire year. Of course, driving to San Francisco would not have been feasible or practical, but we can still do our part to offset our impact.

    Don't Use the Airplane Bathroom

    I had no idea this had such an impact, consuming about six miles worth of fuel. I never look forward to using these anyway, and when you have to go you have to go, but I'll be more mindful of going before I board from now on.

    Pack Less

    We packed one big bag for the both of us that weighed 53 lbs, and we each have a carry-on backpack. Despite our best efforts, I think we could have packed less. I have to admit, I think I packed more workout clothes/gear than every day clothes because weather is unpredictable. I initially packed even more than I brought, but I managed to downsize some at the last minute. I never thought traveling as a runner would prove to be more complicated, but I'll learn efficiencies and streamline it as I travel now.

    Additional Tips (of things we tried): 

    • go paperless as much as possible: e-ticket, phone receipt, etc.
    • bring an empty water bottle in the carry-on, and fill it at a water fountain after going through security instead of buying overpriced drinks on the plane and contributing to the use and waste of plastic cups
    • pack snacks to eat on the plane and at destination instead of buying overpriced and unhealthy food at the airport/plane
    • go grocery shopping at destination and cook instead of eating out -- this may not always be possible if there is no access to a kitchen, but even keeping healthy snacks around can help.
    • walk, rent a bicycle, or take the bus for transportation instead of driving
    • plan ahead to reduce spending on one-use items


    Monday, May 10, 2010

    MBE: Music

    Monday Brain Exchange (MBE) is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at  Finishing Is Winning. This week's topic is Music.

    Question: Do you listen to music when you work out? When you race? What are you top ten favorite songs to get pumped up to?

    I started running using the Couch to 5K Program, so I used my ipod shuffle loaded with podcasts to help me track the intervals. Once the intervals were over, I used my own music to keep me occupied. One day  after finishing the program, I was running on a very hot day and could hear/feel my earbuds moving around in my ear. It irritated me so much that I yanked them out and ran without music, and it didn't suck.

    At first I worried about how I would be able to get through my first 4 mile run without music, but I did fine. I found the lack of music helped me focus on my breathing and stride better, and enjoy my surroundings, so I've been running without music ever since. Every now and then, I'll run with my ipod for a little variety, or if I am running on the treadmill, but both are very rare. I think music alters my stride/pace because it sets the tempo, which is ever changing, and I can't ever find the perfect playlist.

    I never race with music anymore -- I did for my first few 5Ks when I was still using the podcasts -- but most races discourage it. With the addition of triathlons to my race schedule where the use of headphones is cause for disqualification (and the logistics of using an mp3 player are not worth the trouble), it's not even something I consider anymore. I brought my ipod to use during my first marathon, since I'd be running by myself, but I opted to run without it (left it in my hotel room) and I'm glad I did. I never needed it and I think I enjoyed the experience more because I didn't tune out my surroundings.

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Week 18 Recap

    I'll keep this short and sweet, just like my workouts this week. I thought I had done a little more, but I guess not. That's ok. I did have a race this weekend, and May is my adventure month, so I'll enjoy the calm before the storm. This coming week will probably also be slow since I'll be in San Fran for most of it. I'll try to get some workouts in, and will be running Bay to Breakers, but I'm also going to enjoy myself.

    Workout Summary
    See details on Dailymile
    • Monday - ran 3 miles in 37 minutes; 20 min "next level" circuit @ ymca
    • Tuesday - REST
    • Wednesday - 21 min yoga; 10 min swim; 20 min "next level" circuit @ ymca
    • Thursday - track workout: 6 x 800 - ran 5.25 miles in 1 hr
    • Friday - 19 min yoga; 13 min core
    • Saturday - Muddy Buddy
    • Sunday - 21 min yoga; 20 min core/strength
    Week Totals (rounded)
    • run/walk - 12 miles (3x)
    • bike - 8 miles (2x)
    • swim - 10 min (1x)
    • strength/core - 1hr 13m (3x)
    • yoga - 1 hr (3x)
    • exercise hours - 5.5 hrs (14 sessions)

        Saturday, May 8, 2010

        Race Report: Muddy Buddy Orlando 2010

        Muddy Buddy Orlando

        I did Muddy Buddy with Jason this morning, and it was a lot of fun. Our team name was Alice in Muddyland, so I dressed up as Alice (or my take on what she'd look like as a runner), and Jason dressed up as the rabbit. Doesn't he look amazing? We were impressed at how many awesome costumes there were. I think being hosted at Disney brings out the creativity in people. We even found Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum while we waited for the costume contest to start. Unfortunately, in the midst of excitement and nervousness, I neglected to take more photos so I'll post more when the official ones are available.

        After the costume contest, we quickly ran to the car to shed some of the accessories (wig, ears, nose, jacket), listened to the pre-race meeting, then lined up to wait for wave #7 to start, which took at least 30 minutes. Since I have very little experience riding off-road, I started the race running so I would run 3 legs and only bike 2. I did not wear my Garmin, so I have no idea how fast I was running but I was working hard. My goal was to run the whole time, and I did that. Since Jason is faster than me, he got a little break at the obstacle courses while he waited for me to arrive with the bike, but I had no such luck. I was moving the entire time. Every time I got to an obstacle, I was glad to get a breather and riding the bike was a nice change of pace. For a moment, I wished I was riding more than running, but when I ran I was glad I was not riding through some of that terrain.

        The Course:
        • Leg 1: Ran 1.4 miles, climbed a small rock wall, then climbed down a cargo net on the other side. The grips were pretty small, but the wall wasn't too big and I used the beam on the edge to help me up.
        • Leg 2: Biked 1.23 miles, spotted Jason and handed him the bike, then ran to the obstacle. I climbed a 25 ft inflatable wall with a cargo net, then slid down the inflatable slide on the other side. Grabbed a sip of water and started running again.
        • Leg 3: Ran 1.12 miles, then walked over a short balance beam. This was not as hard as I thought. Maybe I was not running fast enough because my legs did not feel as wobbly as I expected. This leg of the course had a mini mud pit and I was really glad I was running instead of biking and did not have to carry my bike over that.
        • Leg 4: Bike 1.42 miles, handed Jason the bike and asked were the obstacle was. It was a lame crawl under a net a short distance. I wish they had substituted this with running over some tires instead, but I guess it was a nice breather before the final push to the end.
        • Leg 5: Ran to the buddy meet up area, including some stairs towards the end where I found Jason. We crawled across the mud pit together, then ran hand in hand to the finish line. This last leg was a bit tough, mainly because I was so tired, but we were running on the side of the road at an incline. My foot felt really funny running lopsided like that.
        We're still waiting for official results, but I wore a cheap watch to get an idea of our overall time, which was around 1:05. I'm pleased with my performance and this was a fun race, but I am not sure it's worth the price to do it again. One thing is for certain, I am in far better shape because while it was challenging I did not feel impossible. It was also the kick in the ass I needed to finally sign up for some triathlons. While I may not do my best at these events, I enjoy the variety and would miss it if I didn't try. So this afternoon I registered for the Central Florida Triathlon Series 3 Race Package. I'll be doing a sprint tri each month in June, July and August. I also registered for the Firefighter Challenge to round out my month of crazy adventures :)

        Official Stats:
        • time: 1:07:05
        • coed 56-65: 92 / 149
        • overall: 1007 / 1495 finishers

        Thursday, May 6, 2010

        Three Things Thursday

        #1 - I had another great track workout this morning. I struggled a little because of the humidity, but I'm still pleased with my performance. Read the details at Dailymile. My body is not used to being up at 4:30 am and working that hard before the song comes up. I'm exhausted, but I know I'll get used to it. This is why I've started now instead of when I have to in June, to give my body and sleeping cycle a little time to acclimate.

        #2 - I think I've almost come to terms with the fact that I am not a triathlete: I'm a runner who (occasionally) does triathlons. This is a good thing. I know that seems like a small distention and just semantics, but thinking of it this way helps me focus on running and be ok with not doing any triathlons this season. Swimming has been very frustrating lately, and seems like a chore; biking is better, but it just doesn't bring me as much joy as running. I honestly just want to run all the time. When I'm not running, I rather be working on strength/core or yoga. I'll make running the priority; anything else I'll fit in as time permits for a variety of cross training options. This takes the pressure off and may help me enjoy swimming again. However, I'm already plotting a possible duathlon in June :)

        #3 - In less than a week (next Wednesday), I'll be in San Francisco! We are going there to visit friends, take in the sights, and run Bay to Breakers. We also plan to take a Segway tour and visit the various attractions included with the CityPASS. I can't wait!

        Wednesday, May 5, 2010

        One Green Thing: Bags

        Using reusable bags, instead of paper or plastic, is the easiest green thing for me to do, the first change I remember making, and the one I do most consistently. I have at least a dozen reusable bags, and I am not exaggerating. I haven't counted, so it is quite possible that I have a lot more than that.

        I started my collection with the Organic EcoSystem For One from ECOBAGS and slowly expanded from there. I bought a few at Publix, extra produce bags and a wrap-n-mat from reusablebags, and I get a free tote bag every time I make a big purchase at Running Warehouse. I also have a few tote and drawstring bag I've gotten at races. I use my bags for everything, from any kind of shopping, to carrying my lunch to work, to carrying my clothes/gear to the gym. I even have a pannier tote bag for my bike. I plan to use smaller reusable bags (that I'll either purchase or sew myself) in lieu of wrapping paper or gift bags this year.

        With a few exceptions, for which I am currently researching alternatives (e.g. ziplock bags), I use very few plastic bags. Since I have so many tote bags, it's easy to leave a big supply in the car so I don't forget for the next trip to Publix, Target, or the Farmer's Market. On the occasion when I do forget, I'll simply carry the item home without a bag, ask for paper bags (which I use to carry the excess cardboard recycling), or use the plastic bags for trash in our small garbage cans at home. If you still have an excess of plastic bags, here are 99 Reuses for Plastic Bags.

        Below is a list of my favorite products and sites to buy them. How about you, what are your favorite products to reduce the amount of plastic you use on a daily basis?

        • produce bags - great alternative to those thin plastic bags at the produce section; I also use them to carry all kinds of other small stuff, such as my workout accessories.
        • wrap-n-mat - clever alternative to snack plastic bags, and it doubles as a placemat. 
        • pannier tote bag - the perfect way to carry stuff when I bike to work, or for a trip to the farmer's market. It's easy to install and it fits a LOT.
        • - this site has a huge selection of bags for shopping, carrying your lunch, packing a sandwich or a snack, and water bottles
        • - an alternate site to
        • Or you can make your own: 13 Ways to Make Cool Reusable Shopping Bags for Free
        Further Reading

        Tuesday, May 4, 2010

        Two for Tuesday: Candlelight & Vegetarian Update

        I'm going to stick with Three Things Thursdays (instead of Tuesdays) and add Two for Tuesday because I like the alliteration :) Today's quickie post will be a brief update on our efforts to live by candlelight and eat only vegetarian meals.

        I'm so glad the month of no artificial lights is over. I know I could have turned on the lights during April if I really needed to, but I like achieving goals I set, so I stuck with it for 30 days. I enjoy living by candlelight, but it's no fun doing certain things in the dark (e.g. shaving, some cooking, picking out clothes, or finding a small misplaced item). We're still making the most of daylight and candlelight as much as possible, but I won't hesitate to turn on a light when I really need it. While I can still shave, cook, and find misplaced items with candle light, it is inefficient because it takes longer to feel my way around or light more candles than to flick on the light for a few seconds. One thing is for certain, our eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness; we recoil like vampires when we turn on the lights. We've notice how bright and harsh artificial light is, so we'll continue using candles and only use artificial light sporadically. 

        Vegetarian Diet
        We are still going strong at 34 days with no end in sight. We haven't really missed meat, except for the occasional social gathering, so we don't see ourselves adding it back into our diets anytime soon. I do not know if it's all mental, or the amount and variety of exercise I've been doing lately, but I feel better and seem to have more energy. It could be that this diet allows me to exercise more and that is where I am getting the extra energy and good feelings.

        The month of Jason cooking is also over, so I have to step back into the kitchen. I am actually excited about cooking again. I think all I needed was a little reprieve to re-energize, plus cooking vegetarian meals is not the same old same old. To avoid getting burnt out again, we're going to take turns planning meals every week and both help with the prep when cooking meals -- since a big portion of cooking vegetarian meals is chopping tons of veggies :)

        Not only do I feel good physically, but I feel good knowing I am doing my part for the environment and fair treatment of animals. The food is also tastier and more diverse. This article, Meat Versus Miles: Why Less Meat is Better Than Going Local, showed up in my RSS reader this morning, and it is very timely. We are doing both, but sometimes we have no choice but to buy our stuff at Publix due to timing, supply, etc, so it's good to know that giving up meat is having that much more impact on the environment.

        Monday, May 3, 2010

        Shaking Things Up in May

        May is my month to let loose and try some new adventures before I begin marathon training in June. An exciting opportunity awaits me every weekend in May, starting with playing paintball yesterday.

        Many years ago, I sort of played paintball with my boyfriend at the time. However, I was terrified and mostly hid behind a bush the entire time hoping no one would shoot me. This time I was determined to get out there and get the full experience.

        I am a different person today, not (as) afraid to take risks or get a little dirty, so I was pretty excited to give this a shot (no pun intended). I was a bit anxious at first, but winning our first game without getting shot gave me the confidence I needed to let loose. I got shot plenty after that, and have 3 huge bruises to prove it, but it was so much fun that I am already plotting to go back.

        Here's what awaits me the rest of the month:

        5/8 - Muddy Buddy
        I've never really been too keen on getting muddy, but I want to share in the fun with Jason and do something a bit out of my comfort zone. I'll have to push myself a bit to keep up with him, or at least not hold him back too much, but we're just going to go have fun. Jason did this last year with Caleb, dressed as Mario and Luigi, and they won the costume contest. We've worked hard on our Alice in Muddyland costumes this year, so I'm excited to unveil them.

        5/16 - Bay to Breakers
        This will be my first out-of-state race, and I'm really excited. I love San Francisco, and this is an awesome fun race. I'll be running it, in costume, but I have no time goal in mind. Being my first 12k it is already a PR, but the main goal is to go have a blast while getting some exercise and taking in the "sights." I'll be running with my camera :)

        5/22 - Left Behind Left Over Half Marathon
        This is an unofficial fun run race that our training program puts on to end the off-season training session with leftover race shirts and bibs. The idea is that many travel out of state for a spring race, so this is for those who are left behind :) After the race, we have a potluck breakfast. I missed this last year, but I hope to attend this year while Jason is in Georgia competing in the Warrior Dash with his dad.

        5/29 - Firefighter Challenge 
        I'm still deciding if I want to do this. Jason did it last year, while I took photos, and he said it was really hard. He is not doing it this year, but I wanted to try it. I planned to train for it by running stairs or using the stair master at the gym, but I haven't. He didn't really train for it last year, and he wished he had. This will probably be a last minute decision depending on how the rest of the month goes. The truth is that I'm likely be burnt out by then and need a rest week before doing the magic mile the following weekend.

        Other things I'd like to do this month, but that I have not yet scheduled, include rock climbing, ultimate freesbie, kickball, and racquetball. If you are interested in any of those, let me know and let's plan something!

        MBE: Motivation

        Monday Brain Exchange (MBE) is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at  Finishing Is Winning. This week's topic is Motivation.

        Question: What/Who motivates you? What do you tell yourself when you are struggling? How do you keep going when it is too cold, too windy, too hot, too humid, too early, too late, etc…?

        This is a very timely question because I almost didn’t get out of bed for this morning's run. I was achy and tired, but I had a feeling it wasn't a cry for help from my body but a case of laziness. I knew I would regret it if I didn't run (because I would either have to skip it or run in 90º temps after work), so I dragged myself out of bed, got out there in the 75º temps with 90% and humidity, and pushed myself to ran 3 miles -- even though I had convinced myself that I could quit after 2.5 miles.

        I've blogged about some of this before in Why I Didn't Stop, but that was more about how I build my exercise habit.  This post is more about what keeps me going from day to day.

        The main thing that keeps me motivated is having a training schedule with a target race that I can't fake my way through. Right now I am just maintaining my base, but I know that come June I'll begin marathon training. Since my target race is at the end of November, I have to be able to run 12 miles pretty soon after the start of the season, so I can't slack off too much during the "off season."

        The other thing that keeps me going is motivating others. Several people I know, and others I do not, have begun running or made a change to a healthier lifestyle because what I've been able to accomplish has inspired them. I know I have people out there rooting for me, and I do not want to let them down or stop inspiring others to be the best version of themselves they can be. It truly brings me joy to help develop a new runner, if they end up being faster than me LOL I am seriously considering becoming a certified running coach or personal training so I can keep paying it forward. For sure I will be a Galloway pace leader next year.

        When it is too cold, too windy, too hot, too humid, too early, too late, etc ... I just remind myself of how awesome it feels to cross that finish line. If I don't do the work now, it will hurt much more then if I finish at all. And failure is just not an option for me! Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of mornings when I wake up and I skip a workout, but those have become rare and are usually due to much needed rest. I wrote all about that on a recent post, Needed Rest Day or Lazyness?, so I won't repeat myself here.

        While writing this post, I found a Memo from My Future Self that I forgot that I wrote back in October 2008, before I even completed my first half marathon, as a way to motivate myself to keep up with my running. Even then I knew I would someday complete a marathon, and reading it again today I was amazed at how accurate it was. In hopes that it will motivate others to keep going or write their own, I'm reposting it below:
        Dear Kitzzy,
        This is Kitzzy from the not-so-distant future--I can't tell you the exact date because then I may alter the space-time continuum, and no one wants that :) Of course, just writing this later may cause that, but that is a risk I am willing to take to share this amazing moment with you.
        Today, I ran my first marathon!
        It was amazing, and it was awful, but then it was really amazing. Of course, I could not have done it without all the hard work you are doing right now. I know it sometimes feels like you can't do this anymore or you think to yourself that you must be crazy for thinking you can ever run a marathon (and you are), but I just wanted to tell you to keep at it because all this hard work you are doing now is totally worth it and will really pay off soon. I won't lie to you, it was not easy. It was grueling, yes, but I just knew I had to keep going because I didn't want to let you down.
        I remember when you started this journey to a better you with just 10 minutes of cardio kickboxing 3 times a week in February 2008 weighing over 150 lbs. You quickly graduated to 30 minutes and before long it was the end of March and you were walking that 2 mile race--with some tiny jogging thrown in--that ignited something in you to want to become a runner. You always said "I'm not a runner" or "I can't run." Boy were you wrong ;) You know how you felt when you crossed the finish line at that 2 mile race? That is nothing compared to what you will feel when you cross the finish line at your first marathon. I don't want to say too much and spoil it, but you will love it.
        So whenever you feel discouraged and like you are making a big mistake, read this letter and know you CAN and WILL do this! Anything is possible given enough determination, and you have that in spades! I am so proud of your efforts so far and look forward to you reaching the next milestones in your journey.

        Sunday, May 2, 2010

        Week 17 Recap

        This was another great week! I was very busy, and exercised twice as much as last week, but I didn't feel worn out. I did quite a bit of strength and core work, and felt really strong. I also played paintball for the first time today, and it was awesome! I have all kinds of lovely bruises to show for it =P

        This week I'll try to take it a bit easier since Jason and I are participating in Muddy Buddy on Saturday. We've put a lot of work into our costumes, including our bike, so I'm getting really excited. It's killing me that I can't post pics yet, but we want it to be a surprise on race day. For now, I'll tell you that our team name is Alice in Muddyland. So use your imagination and check back on Saturday to see what we came up with and how we did.

        Workout Summary
        See details on Dailymile
        • Monday - ran 4 miles in 48 minutes; 1hr @ gym of abs + "next level" circuit
        • Tuesday - biked to work - 29 miles roundtrip / 2.5 hrs
        • Wednesday - swam 700 yds in 20 minutes; ran 1.72 miles in 20 minutes
        • Thursday - track workout: ran 5.25 miles in 1 hr
        • Friday - REST
        • Saturday - ran 12.5 miles in 2:39; biked 7.15 in 37 minutes (errands)
        • Sunday - 30 day shred (27 minutes); 19 min yoga for runners; 2 hrs of paintball
        Week Totals (rounded)
        • run/walk - 23 miles (4x)
        • bike - 36 miles (3x)
        • swim - 1 hr (2x)
        • strength/core - 2 hrs (2x)
        • yoga - 20 minutes (1x)
        • cross training - 2 hrs (paintball)
        • exercise hours - 13 hrs (14 sessions)
        Goals for Upcoming Week
        • 100% vegetarian meals
        • 90% homemade meals
        • Muddy Buddy - Watch out for Team Alice in Muddyland :)

            Saturday, May 1, 2010

            April 2010 Recap

            This was a pretty good month, even though I didn't do as much as in March. However, easing up on the training for a bit is not a bad thing before I begin ramping up for marathon training again in June. So while I may not have worked out as much this month, I feel they were quality workouts and that is always better than quantity. Read workout details on Dailymile. I am feeling really strong and healthy. May is going to be super busy because we are racing or traveling (or both) almost every weekend, but it should be really exciting with some unconventional races in the books to mix thing sup before marathon training starts and I have to get serious again :)

            April Stats
            • run / walk = 64 (58 + 6) miles; longest run = 9 miles
            • bike = 113 miles; longest ride = 14.5 miles
            • swim = 3 miles / 5 hrs
            • total = 180 miles / 33 hrs (avg 1.1 hrs/day)
            2010 Goals Progress
            To be on track, percentages should be around 30-35%
            • run/walk = 333 / 700 miles (avg 83/mo; 20/wk; 48%)
            • cycling =  276 / 1750 miles (avg 69/mo; 16/wk; 16%)
            • swimming = 8 / 60 miles (13%)
            • tri 2010 challenge =  617 / 2010 (31%)
            • total exercise hours =  143 / 365 hours (avg 1.2 / day; 39%)
            • 101 things = 9 / 30 done (30%);  12 in progress
            April Accomplishments
            • Corporate 5k - Great fun with family and friends
            • Run for the Trees 5K - New PR of 32:10!
            • First track session of the year - it went great, and I had so much fun!
            • Learned to swim breast stroke and bilateral breathing - still needs work, but it's progress!
            • Ate 100% vegetarian meals for 30 days - we're still going strong and loving it! 
            • Lived by candlelight for 30 days - I'm kinda over it by now, but will keep it up somewhat (details later) and may try to see if we can make it through May before we have to turn on the a/c again 
            • Ate 85% homemade meals - I would love this to be 100%, but that's unlikely in May because of all the racing and traveling; we may try it in June
            • Wrote 26 blog posts (avg 6.5 / wk) - I added some weekly features, and this is helping me blog more regularly. I'm having a lot of fun and added a few new bloggers to my reading list.
              Goals for May

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