Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Completed My 3rd Half Marathon!!

As you may have read I've been training for my 3rd half marathon.  My goal this time was not only to finish but to finish faster and stronger.  My past two half's weren't the best, and based on my training runs I knew I could have done better both times so it only left me disappointed to cross the finish line with a slow time.  Especially my 2nd one because I trained really hard to get faster only to end up with a random foot injury.

Most importantly I was running this race for a cause.  If you look over on the side bar you'll see my fundraising banner for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I met my fundraising goal plus a little extra which is AWESOME!! This was definitely not something I could have done on my own.  I have to give huge thanks to my many friends and family that donated to my page or came out to one of my fund raisers, and to the team... the Team in Training program truly is a team effort, it takes a team to spread the word on why we run, train together, push each other through the runs and share tips on how to fund raise.  It was a great experience for me and I'm so glad that I was part of the LLS Team!

So back to the race...I know it's been a while since I blogged so I have a few things to catch up on.

Training runs.  Finding time for my training runs was a lot harder than I thought it would be this go round.  I normally run on Saturday mornings, but this spring I had to take a molecular and cellular biology course on that really threw a monkey wrench in the operations.  This class was TOUGH, it took up my entire Saturday and then some, I had to start using my vacation time to study for exams since I no longer had the weekends to study, they were spend sitting in a lecture for 3.5 hours and then a lab for another 3.5 hours.  It was like a second job.  I will never take a Saturday class again if there is any way I can avoid it.

So I was left to fit my training runs in at random times. I also had to switch up my runs to more flat runs because I was told that this course was mostly flat, so I thought training on flat runs I could definitely boost my speed.  Fortunately my spring break fell around the time I had to start doing my really long runs so I was able to fit my first ten mile run in and not after an exhausting day of class (If you're wondering why I wouldn't run on Sunday... I had soccer games... soccer es muy importante you don't mess with game day!).

Anyway, even though I had perfect timing (scheduling wise) for my long runs, after my first ten mile run I was not feeling so great.  In fact I had to stop a few times and try to and stretch out my hip... I had been having random pain in my right hip, but I thought it was a fluke.  After a few more training runs with the hip pain I decided it wasn't a fluke and went straight to the Doc. She told me I was developing piriformis syndrome--sounds scarier than it actually is but it wasn't something that would just go away with out treating.   So after a steriod injection, trigger point release (which is very VERY painful) and a running evaluation by a physical therapist, it turns out that I am simply mechanically deformed :).

My right tibia developed with a slight curve to it so that causes me to over pronate on my right foot to correct the problem, which in turn caused my right knee to turn in towards my left knee while I ran and voila piriformis problem. So to fix the issue all I needed were inserts for my shoes...

This brand to be exact: Superfeet!  Superfeet are super awesome and they completely fixed the piriformis issue...but the only problem was that the rest of me needed to readjust to changing my running gait.  When you get inserts or custom orthotics youi're supposed to drop your running mileage and build yourself back up.  Especially with custom orthotics you have to restart at zero.  My physical therapist told me to go with the super feet because I wouldn't have to start completely over.  But it was still a set back with less than a month to race day (and I still hadn't done a 12 mile run because of the hip pain) I needed to start my mileage back at 4 miles.

So I did 4 mile, 6 mile, and 8 mile runs leading up to the race and just had to hope for the best on race day.  So now it was time to travel with the Team for the big event!

Off to Sunny San Diego!!

Except it wasn't... wha whah!

Apparently early June is San Diego is what they call the June Gloom, so the weather was mostly over cast and slightly chilly...but hey no humidity, that still beats the east coast ANY day by my book.

But the sun did come out eventually and I spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the San Diego Zoo... I highly recommend the visit... go on be a kid again it's great! :)

I saw almost the entire zoo (it's huge it can take you a full day to go through the whole thing), and I saw a ton of animals, here's just a few...

Lazy pandas that sat and ate...and ate.... and ate...

a wise orangutan using a tool to retrieve food from an opening in the rock

a wild looking Jaguar right up against the edge of it's enclosure as I walked by

 (this was one of the younger ones)

nursing Jaguar cub!
and a wild gorilla escaped!!
This is from the Team in Training inspiration dinner.  It really got us pumped for race day.  I felt like it was the closest I would ever get to an Olympics opening ceremony, but that didn't matter this was my Olympics :)

As we entered the San Diego convention center tons of volunteers cheered the runners on from teams all around the country as we went into the hall for dinner.  It was such an exciting moment!!

At the inspiration dinner they had us write down our dream finish time (if all conditions were perfect and you ran your best) and our realistic finish time. I put down 2h15m on both times.  I was determined to make the time that eluded me during my second half.

So all we had to do was eat up then search for a convenience store to get Gatorade and oatmeal for breakfast and get to bed for a good nights sleep for race day... which started with us waking up at 3am to get on buses by 4am to get to the start line.  When you hear the expression Ass Crack of Dawn...this is the ass crack of dawn.  The only benefit is that I was there way early to drop my gear check bag off, snack, and use the port-a-pots as they were just opened (read: clean and unused) and there was no line.

So all we had to do was wait for our start.  I was in Corral 21 so there were 20 waves of people ahead of me waiting to start the race.  Finally we were off, I clicked my start button on my watch timer and set off running at a good pace.  I had gatorade in my camel back, and a gu pack in my butt pocket. 

By the 5k mark, I was on pace for 10 minute miles, 10k mark, still on pace.  We couldn't have asked for better June Gloom running conditions, over cast, mid 60's and not an ounce of humidity.  I took a gu pack around mile 8 (Let me tell you I have never used Gu before on a race day... they make a BIG difference, I am converted!), then again around mile 11.  I had 2.1 miles left to go at that point.  When I passed the 12 mile sign I looked at my watch time and I was at 2:04:.. and some odd seconds.  HOLY CRAP! My mind was racing, I could do this, I could pack this race in in another 10 and meet my goal time!!  There was no way I was going to slow down for that last mile.  I set off running as fast as I could while still trying to pace myself because after all, I still had a full mile to go to the finish line.
When I saw it on the horizon it still looked so far away, but finally it was there, right ahead of me... I took off sprinting (or at least in my mind I looked epic, I probably looked like a loping horse)
So there I am, eyes on the prize, that 2:15 finish time that I wanted so badly last fall was in my sights.  When I finally crossed the line I hit the stop button on my watch and there it was...2:15:30!!!!! Proof that I had met my goal.  I couldn't believe it, I had done it.  I had packed it in in 10.5 minute miles.  I couldn't stop smiling.  I even shelled out the $20 to have my official finish time (02:15:23) engraved on my medal.

Here's my full results:

Age: 30 (oh yea that happened this there's that) | Gender: F
  • Overall: 7286 out of 17603
  • Division: 764 out of 2157
  • Gender: 3551 out of 11221
  • 5 Km 30:56
  • 10 Km 1:03:57
  • 10 Mi 1:43:52
  • Pace 10:20
  • Chip Time 02:15:23
  • Clock Time 02:44:19
 Money Raised for the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society: $3,157.00

Goals can be accomplished but they won't get accomplished sitting around doing nothing.  Get out there and put in the work, and never ever stop believing in yourself!

p.s. I also got an A in my bio class (only 4 of us accomplished that out of the entire class *brushes shoulder off*)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Shoe Review

Trying to find the right running shoe is just like goldy locks and the three bears.... you have to find one that's juuuust right.  I was WELL over due for a new pair of shoes.  My current pair was so worn out I could take the toe and bend it back to the laces... (Note: that is NOT good...and probably the cause of some recent hip pain--only time and a Dr.'s visit will tell)  So last week I was on a mission to find a new pair of running shoes.

well...kinda like that, but for shoes.

Here's my rules for buying running shoes.

1. Go to a running specialty store.  Usually everyone who works there are serious runners.  They love this sport and they know their gear.  Running specialty stores usually will watch you walk (to see if your pronate etc) and run in a your shoes to determine the level of support you may need.  The store I go to even had a camera set up to watch your feet on a tread mill, which you can watch on a tv in front of you while you're running or they can then play back in slow motion to really show you your stride.

2. Go later in the day so your feet have had time to expand. 

3.  Listen to the sales clerk when he tells you to go up a half or possibly whole size.  Your feet may expand even more during a run, you want the room. 

4. Don't shop for name brand, color or style.  Go for fit and feel.  But...but... I only every wear (insert brand here).  Get over being stuck on a big name brand.  You and your new shoes are going to travel a lot of miles together they need to support your feet properly, not look pretty or be the hottest shoe on the market.

For the past few years I've been happily running in brooks, glycerin's to be exact.  But I always make a point to try on a few different brands to see if maybe this time something else will work for me.

First up was the asics GEL-Nimbus 13

I don't know what it is about asics.  Some runners swear by them, but for me they just don't work.  I feel like they have too much cushion and my feet sink right into them instead of being supported.   Once again I had to give asics a pass.

Next up, Mizuno Wave Rider 15

These shoes had nice support.  But the sale clerk warned me that Mizuno's were cut narrow, so they hugged the center of my foot, more like squeezed the center of my foot...uncomfortably.   If you have a narrow foot or you like the feeling of your foot being hugged then these are the shoes for you.  They didn't work for me though because of that, I could see them becoming painful to run in.

On to... Newtons Lady Issac

Newtons have a whole different philosophy on running shoes than your average brand.  Their idea is at the core of the minimalist running movement.  Newtons place more support on the forefoot of the shoot, where one should naturally strike the ground first if you were running barefoot.  Most of us, and yes myself included heel strike, meaning the heal hits the ground first then follows through to the toe.
This video can show you the difference between a heel strike and a fore strike:

Newton's shoes are designed to get you running lighter on your feet by providing that extra cushion on the fore strike area which will promote using a fore strike and not a heel strike. Current research is still being done on this and whether or not it's really beneficial to the joints, but the general thought is that a fore strike creates less impact on knees and hips.   Newtons were also given a big write up in last months issue of runner's world magazine.  I highly recommend reading if your interested in this style of running.  I am really intrigued by the idea but I'm also mid-way through half marathon training again.  I just don't know if it's a good time for me to attempt to completely over haul how I run when I'm trying to increase my mileage weekly.   Usually if you go from a regular running shoe to "minimal" shoes you have to start your mileage back at walking around the block essentially and build yourself up.  It's the wrong time for me to go in that direction so I'm putting these on the back burner for now, but I have a feeling I might be investigating them again further soon.

So what did I end up with?

If it ain't baroque don't fix it! (Or so they say.)  This model of brooks have gotten me through two half marathons and countless other lower milage races.   I've trained a couch to 5k group in them, ran 10k's, 5 milers and my weekly 6-7 mile runs.  They work for me.  The cushion is just firm enough, very roomy in the toes.  I ran an 8 mile hill run this weekend, my hip bothered me after but it was gone in a day and I was able to get out and run around the soccer field the following evening.  I am still going to an orthopedic doctor just to make sure there isn't something serious underlying, but after one long training run in these my recovery time for my legs was just a day.

So yes, I highly recommend brooks, but ONLY if they're the shoe for you.  Who knows asics, mizuno or the newtons could be the right fit.  We all have different feet.

Also... some other running gear I can't live with out:
  • CEP Compression sleeves.  I swear by these, any calf cramps that start to pop up during my runs, these puppies keep them at bay. 
  • Feetures running socks.  Arch hugging LOVE is what I call them.  I'm all for a good arch hugging sock
And that's about it... I could go on about shirts, shorts and hydration system, but the most important tools for a runner are good fitting shoes and a good pair of wicking socks (stay away from cotton, cotton = damp from sweat = blisters! Trust me on this)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Soccer Sundays...Strike Back!!

Yeaaaaaah baby yea!! Soccer season is back!  And it couldn't have come soon enough.  I'm so bored/stressed/consumed with studying that being able to get away from the books just to run around on a turf field for an hour is like a vacation for me!

I actually had to scale back on soccer this spring (believe me I'm not happy about this), I couldn't play with my women's league because their games were scheduled during the hours I'm sitting in bio lab, so I'm only playing with my co-ed league this season.

We had our first game this past Sunday, and for some reason winter decided to pay us a visit.  I know it's only early march and it should still be cold out, but it was a low of 26 that night and right now, 3 days later, it's 70 degrees out *scratches head*.  We've had a really mild winter here and the weather keeps flip flopping lately.  So I had all my cold weather gear on, hat, gloves, smart wool socks, running tights and a few layers of long sleeves. (I found these super awesome light Marmot shirts at REI on clearance, they're wicking and great for a base layer, so worth the $12 I paid for them :)).

We ended up tying 1-1, the other team scored a nice shot that hit the side post and bounced in in the last minute of the game.  I'll give them credit where credit is due, it was a close match.  We played really well I think considering it was our first game and most of us hadn't played together before.  More importantly I had an awesome time, made some good passes and didn't make a fool of myself.  I left the field kind of with an "I really needed that" feeling.  I really missed playing.  Taking all winter off was not fun.

Of course several days later I'm still feeling the effects of the game...not in a good way though lol.  My hamstrings were killing me for two days after the game.  I had an epsom salt soak Tuesday after bootcamp, but I think acupuncture really help clear that up.  Of course now my right hip is not feeling so hot, it started bothering me during today's leg work out.  I made sure to do an extra long stretch.  I go through this every start of the season after taking some time off.  No matter how much I condition and sprint, it's so not the same as actually being out on the field during a game!

So the moral of this post is stretch stretch stretch! Soak and rest...and also make sure you keep doing things you love as your work outs, it makes it so much more fun. :)

Ok, so theres been a lot of soccer news goin' on so here's my mini soccer news section: 

The Lionel Messi Show stomped all over Bayer Leverkusen.  Messi scored 5 Goals during a Champions league match, the first player to ever score that many goals in a champions league game! No one is better than him right now, no one is even close!

US Women's National team place 3rd in the Algrave Cup against Sweden.  Alex Morgan scores a hat trick.  This girl is on FIRE as well.

Ok, to me this is the most important news of all...

Arne Freidrich signs to Chicago Fire!!! No I'm not a Chicago Fire fan...but this latest signing is testing my allegiances. Who is Arne Freidrich you ask?  If you follow the German National Team you know... if you've followed any of my past soccer posts you might know as well.  He's a defender, which I dig because that's my position usually, but I've had this liiiiittle crush on him for oh... since the 2006 world cup, and he's now playing on American soil!!  Guess who's going to the next DC United v. Chicago Fire match... this chick. (See MLS...take a lesson from kickette, this is how you sell tickets!)

 Seriously... look at the man...

how can you not?!...just.  
No words right now.

Crushes aside this is good news for MLS.  The league needs more signings like this.  We need to attract more talent over here to make the games more exciting.  He was a big name on the German National Team (82 caps and a goal scored during the world cup--if you're thinking so what one goal?  Just remember he's a defender, we defenders rarely get the opportunity to score.) he played in 2 euro cups and 2 world cups, it's an impressive international career.  My only wish is that he signed with DC.  I'm sad that I never hear of DC getting any big international signings.  Is the club broke?  Their stadium situation is a mess, there's even been rumors of moving the team (which I'm ok with because the rumor was a move up to Baltimore and that's my home town)....but what's going on DC?

And now for some funny shit... Shit Soccer Girls Say from @soccergrlprobs

Yeah, I would so be the chick crying over a broken head band I can NOT work out with out my headbands! and the "T-shirt tiiime" was definitely me too, until I decided to clean out the drawers and donate to good will, now I only have a few colors that I really like (Black x2, red, purple, white, grey, navy...oh I guess I really didn't clean them out)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Chemist Walks into a Bar...

I crack myself up!

Number of days that I've been sugar free: 50

Mini update: So far so good as far as sticking to my resolution.  I haven't had a drop of wine...not a drop.  I haven't had a single cookie, chocolate, slice of cake...nothing sweet.    I was planning on making it to the end of February but since there's this thing that we Catholics call "Lent" happening right now, maybe I'll use that as an excuse and participate for once to keep this going. (My grandmother would be proud at least).

If you're wondering if I miss any of the foods I've given up my answer is NOPE!  First of all, the great thing about going cold turkey on the sweets is the less you eat them the less you crave them.  So no, I don't miss them.  I'll designate my birthday as a day of celebration and have sweets and alcohol then.  It's a ways off though.   But more importantly, I don't have time to suffer a hang over considering I have class all day Saturday, and Sunday's are dedicated long run days (for now because guess what starts next weekend.... SOCCER!!! Oh soccer, I've missed you so much. I knew I couldn't stay away all winter.  I started going to a weekly conditioning/skills camp to get ready for the season.  Always need to work on my touch with the ball and I definitely need to improve my sprints.)

Anyway, having no time seems to be a running theme with me lately, hence the lack of updates.  But all the free time I did have between semesters I now spend studying Molecular and Cellular Biology, which is another pre-requisite for the Dietetics degree I am working towards.

I've learned some neat stuff in class so far.  For example... you know when you feel that lactic acid burn when you work out but it goes away pretty quickly.  Well that's your bodies bicarbonate buffer system restoring your blood to it's normal pH levels (7.35-7.45--slightly acidic but that's the normal range).  Pretty neat how the body works to return to it's normal functioning levels very quickly isn't it?  That is called homeostasis.  All living organisms practice homeostasis.

Also, I've learned about the molecular structure of Carbohydrates, Lipids, Proteins and Nucleic Acid.  Proteins are really complicated and there's a lot more I will learn about them in the future.  Carbohydrates, naturally I was interested in learning about since they get a lot of bad rep.  They're a good source of quick energy which we already knew, but what are they made of?  These unanswered questions I've had are why I want to be a dietitian, I really want to know how all this works, how it breaks down in the body.

So back to Carbs, essentially they're made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms (ratio 1:2:1). Carbo-Hydrate... Carbon and water, get it?  Deoxyribose a  component of DNA is actually a carbohydrate!  Who knew.  Anyway,  carbohydrates or saccharides are found as either monosaccharides, disaccharides, or polysaccharides.  A common example of a disaccharide is table sugar.  Sugar is made up of one monomer of glucose and a monomer of fructose (which is the sugar found in fruit).  Polysaccharides (ie your starches, rice wheat, root vegetables etc) are just made up of many glucose monomers so when you break them down it's simply breaking down into those smaller glucose monomers and as I stated above glucose is a sugar, which is why we need to portion our carbs (fruit and dairy included-lactose is a natural sugar found in milk) no matter how healthy we think it is!

Lipids (fats, waxes, steroids) are even better than carbohydrates for long term energy storage.  So get the idea that fat is evil out of your head.  Not all fats are created equal.  Lipids are essential to life.  They are the barriers of cells, they insulate and cushion organs, they provide energy, testosterone and estrogen are lipids!  Cholesterol is a lipid and actually occurs naturally in the body (I will learn more about the healthy levels the HDL and the bad levels the LDL at some point).  Saturated and unsaturated fat are pretty neat chains called triglycerides.  Triglycerides are made up of a glycerol group and three fatty acid tails. (again Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen are the key atoms).  What makes a fat saturated or unsaturated is the bonding between the carbon atoms.  If there is a double bond in the chain then it creates a kink in the tail.  Saturated fatty acids do not have this kink which allows for more hydrogen bonds (side note: If you've ever looked at a nutrition label and seen the term "hydrogenated oil" or "hydrogenated fat"  this literally means they are treated with hydrogen, complete hydrogenation turns an unsaturated fat into a saturated fat which can turn a vegetable oil in to a solid or semi-solid (think of margarine) but the biggest reason this is done is because it is less expensive to use a vegetable oil in commercial cooking than a animal fats. Partial Hydrogenation (trans fats) are known to cause coronary heart disease-- So the lesson here is read your food labels and avoid these types of fats!!)  Back to saturated fatty acids:  This (lack of double bond) also means they are more linear and easier to stack up.  This is why they are solid in room temperature.  The kink in unsaturated fatty acids will not allow them to settle so commonly they are found as oils.

I got to make a saturated fatty acid chain during lab... 
it's kinda like playing with legos :)

So there you have it... my basic knowledge of biology and chemistry... just remember this:  I am a former fine art photography major.  I went to art school, if you've seen art school confidential then that was my experience in college.  So slowly but surely I am grasping this subject material.  This, this is a difficult subject for me, and why I have no life right now, but it will be worth it.  If I've learned anything these past few years it's that I am certainly not a slacker and if I work hard and apply myself I will achieve success.  Last semester I tackled college algebra after 11 years away from the subject, I got an A and a perfect score on my final  (yes I'm bragging because, I really EARNED that). And I will continue to work hard to earn that next A.   Plus I'm really looking forward to sharing more of my nutritional knowledge with you in the future :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Will be THE Year!!

Holy crap! It's 2012! How did that happen so quickly??  I hope this is going to be a big year for me.  I made it through my first class last semester so I feel confident going forward.  (coming up next semester is biology) Anyway,  I actually really like math now! It's a lot of fun.  I got an A in the class and a perfect 150 out of 150 on my final exam haha. (Yes, I studied a LOT).  Functions, log function, ln functions, the quadratic formula, i, e, radical equations, and graph transformations were my BEST friends.  The funny thing about me is I couldn't do basic math with out a calculator (don't ask me to add with out one because I will use my fingers!), but when I look at an equation (and if you study them enough) you start to see patterns of how to "attack" and solve.  You learn the rules, where to move the numbers to make everything work...and it all just sort of clicks into place.  At least it did for me.  I miss math, I kinda want to have a puzzler book of math problems, like some people have sudoku books, I want a book of algebra problems.  Call me crazy but I really liked that class. 

The biggest lesson I've learned though is that attitude makes a BIG difference.  Ten years ago you couldn't pay me to take a college level math class.  Now I want a puzzler book of problems to do in my spare time!   And this relates to all aspects of life, a positive attitude will take you losing weight or crossing the finish line of a race...or getting an A in a subject you hadn't studied in over ten years.  Being negative never got me anywhere in the past.  So my motto for 2012 is keep my chin up, and keep a smile on my face and good things will come!

So with all that being said I will do one of my "Current Status" posts since I haven't done one of those in a while.

Current Mood: Optimistic

Current Weight:  Not really worried about it.  I'm on a mini vacation visiting my friend Ashley, the shoewhore.  When I get back THEN it will be time to buckle down.  In the mean time I'm still exercising and eating healthy most of the time.  Spent 2 hours at the gym yesterday, plan on going climbing today, and trying out boxing for the first time.

Currently Thinking about:The fact that I'm turning 30 this year, and the fact that this year will be THE year I finally get myself on a maintenance diet.  Once I get home it's really time to push myself, I am giving up sugar for two months (that includes all sweets, refined carbs, dairy and yes long delicious wine.)  I am also thinking of really challenging myself in the exercise department as well by trying two a days for a week off and on.  ALSO a little spark has entered my head...I was thinking about maybe trying to run my first full marathon.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around how to go about the whole training thing.  I've successfully completed two half-marathons, although not at fast as I would have liked maybe I should shoot for a full?  I'll have to ask my knees first and get back to you on that one haha.

Currently NOT Thinking about:The fact that I'm turning 30 this year.  I used to have such a negative attitude toward turning 30 because when I was in my mid-20s I had always hoped that by the time I turn 30 I'd have a real career not just a "job", I'd have my own house and I'd be in a good relationship.  And although I have neither of those... yet being the key word, I am still remaining positive because going into my 30th year I am healthier, happier and I am more motivated and determined to make things happen than I was when I was younger.  The rest will come with time and effort.

Currently looking online at:  Yup the soccer addiction is still alive and well.  This year is the euro cup!  My German boys will be on television again... winning I hope ;).  I wonder if Spain still has what it takes to stay the top team?!  Will the germans (2nd euro 2008, 3rd worldcup 2010, and 2006)  rise to the top again!?? Or will there be a new star on the euro stage??  I am eagerly waiting for this to start.  I need a fix of good international soccer!

 They beat the Dutch (who were #2 in the 2010 world cup) just recently...
really looking forward to this tournament.

Currently looking forward to: Besides above...Losing the last of the fat on my body and going on a maintenance diet.  It will happen this year.  I'm going to make it happen!

Currently listening to: M83's latest album.  Haven't listened to these guys in ages.  Midnight City is a pretty good track.

Currently Realized: Holy Crap it's 2012!!! And it's going to be my year!

So that's what's going on with me... please share any goals you want to reach in 2012 below!!