Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Brain Exchange - Staying Fit and Healthy During the Holidays

This Weeks Question from Jill at Finishing is Winning: How do you manage diet and exercise during the holidays?

What a timely question since we are heading into week 1 between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  One of the easiest things that I do to stay fit year-round is to maintain my group workouts with the Rush Running Team.  Monday nights are our speed workouts and Wednesday nights are fun runs.  At a minimum, I know that I can count on getting these two runs in each week.  The speed workout ensures that I have a quality workout too and that I don't get too complacent in my running.  I also set monthly workout goals that I try to achieve.  This keeps me accountable to my fitness and gives me something to strive for.  I'm still working on setting my December goals but for November I had goals for the number of running miles, minutes on the bike trainer, and times I go swimming.  I don't always make it to my goals but it keeps me motivated.  For example, I made it to last Monday with out getting on my bike trainer at all in November so I learned that I can actually push myself to get 180 minutes in during one week!

Nutrition is probably the one thing that I am weakest at during the holidays.  I have a major sweet tooth and love all the holiday cookies and candies.  Luckily I don't have an office with lots of cooks so there aren't treats around all that much.  One of my co-workers does keep a candy dish fully stocked and I tend to visit her for snacks.  I have found that if I have a bigger breakfast then I don't have as many morning snacks. 

This year I signed up for Amanda's Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge for a little extra motivation.  It will be fun to track my workouts and accumulate points over the next few weeks!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trotting!

Happy Thanksgiving!
It is 34 degrees and rainy here today but that didn't stop us from getting out there for the Pinnacle Turkey Trot this morning.  The run follows the cart path of the golf course and would normally be a 5 mile run.  Unfortunately, we had some strong storms last night and there is one bridge that tends to get washed out during high water.  Normally this wouldn't be a problem because you are in a golf cart! Today they had to use a detour which cut off 1/2 mile of the course so the run was 4.5 miles of soggy fun!

Bad lighting but you can get an idea of the elements!
Scott, me, and Kristen post race.
I ran with my sister and brother-in-law and we had a great time.  The cold, drizzle kept us motivated up the final hills to finish the race.  I certainly feel like we all earned some extra pie for dinner!
Me and my sister!
I'm so thankful for my awesome family and all my friends that I get to share life with!!!  Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Route 66 Half Marathon Race Recap

This was my 4th year to run the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa and it was the 3rd course change in that time! The course begins with rolling hills for the first 7 miles and then flattens out considerably.  This year had very unusual weather with the temps at starting time already in the mid-60's with high humidity.  The skies were overcast and the wind was intense around 20mph!

This year I trained with the intent to break my PR that I set last year at this race.  My goals were:
A) To Finish
B) Finish within 1 min above/below my PR of 2:14
C) Finish in 2:12 range
D) Finish under 2:10

Well, Sunday was not my day and I only accomplished my A goal! I got a stitch early in the race and struggled to get rid of it.  The combination of the heat and humidity was rough on me and I couldn't get comfortable and get into my pace.  I also mentally combusted...I let the pressure of PR'ing get to me and just gave up when I realized how hard it would be to make up the time I lost so early in the race.  I didn't follow my nutrition plan so that probably contributed to my downer attitude throughout the race too.  I did a lot of things wrong in this race but I hung in there and pushed myself through it and finished. 

Below is my race history for the Tulsa Route 66 Half Marathon.  As you can see my time was right in the middle and not my best or worst so I'm okay with that.  I trained to run a better race than this so after a little rest I'm going to get back into those long runs and possibly find a half in December to run. 
2010 - 2:23:16
2009 - 2:14:11
2008 - 2:23:12
2007 - 2:28:08

Tulsa puts on a great but challenging race.  The support throughout the course is amazing from neighbors getting together on the front lawn to cheer to all the aid stations and volunteers.  There are a couple of sections of the race that are a little slim on spectators but overall it is a spectator friendly course. 

The hills in the beginning can be challenging and they got to me this year.  The course is completely closed to traffic and with nearly 9000 runners you are never on your own.  There were several port-a-potties out on the course and in the race village there were separate port-a-potties for men and women (however the runners didn't actually get the concept so both became unisex lines.) Post race food is well managed and includes hot food like pizza and Qdoba rice bowls.  This is a Michelob Ultra race so racers can get free beer after as well. 

The pre-race Expo has room for improvement...small booths and it was pretty crowded and hot when I went.  They have been adding vendors and participants in the 4 years I've been doing the race but they haven't increased the size of the expo so it is a little small for the size of the race. Overall it is a great event...even though I got my butt kicked on Route 66 this year! Don't worry I'll be back next year...this is one of my standing events and I can't break the streak after 4 years of participation!

In sad news, a participant in the half marathon passed away at mile 10 of the race.  Not much has been released other than the participant was only 27 years old.  This is the 2nd death for the Route 66 event and the race handled things very well.  A friend of mine passed the situation and while it was very scary she said that they were doing everything possible to treat him.  In the 2008 race, my running partner and I passed a participant receiving CPR who did not survive.  After the 2008 race, the race directors made significant course changes by reversing the course so that the hills were at the beginning of the race instead of the end.  They also increased the presence of the medical tents and incorporated medical release forms onto the race bib.  My thoughts are with the family and friends of the runner who died and I hope that they are able to find solace in this time of grief.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Holiday Card Season

Every year, just after Thanksgiving, the holiday cards start arriving in the mail.  It is fun to see every one's personality shine through in the card that they select and in the family letters that they include.  I tend to use different cards for different groups of people.  I have cards to use with work colleagues, friends, and family.  I like to use photo collage cards with my closest friends and family and pre-printed cards for the rest of my card list.  I prefer to use collage options because it is fun to share the fun that I have had throughout the past year with everyone.  I'm not always the best at getting my cards prepared early and instead try to tackle it in small doses...a few cards per day until I finish the list! 

One of my all time favorite cards was a picture of a friend's daughter in front of a Nativity scene.  The letter included with the photo card told the story of how the baby Jesus had been stolen from the nativity scene the week before they took the photo.  In true Southern humor, my friend remarked something to the tune of "What do you do when baby Jesus disappears? Go to Walmart to buy a new one!" It was a classic holiday letter that stays with you!

Shutterfly has lots of photo card options for Christmas. I like the option below because you can use multiple photos and the design is cute, simple, and modern. Like I mentioned, I love the collage option but Shutterfly has lots of options for photo cards from just 1 photo to multiples like this one.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts (that I beg my sisters for each year) is a custom photo calendar of our family.  My sisters fill the calendar with pictures of their kids and all of our family and it is something that I treasure.  Shutterfly has great calendar options and it makes a great gift for those close to you too especially if you use the option to preprint birthdays and other milestones in the calendar.

 Another cute idea that I discovered on Shutterfly are the custom holiday gift tags.  How fun would this be to use for gifts that you share with neighbors, coworkers, and friends. They have lots of fun designs that you can use to coordinate with your wrapping paper. 

Don't forget to start sorting through your photos so that you can make an annual photo book.  I like to make a book each year summarizing all of my race accomplishments from the previous year.  I'll be working on one over the next few weeks to give to our running team coach.  It is hard work to get everyone on the team to turn in pictures but the finished scrapbook is a treasured gift and only scrapes the surface at thanking our coach for everything that he gives to our team! Just an idea for you!!!

For you bloggers out there, consider visiting Shutterfly for more information on how Bloggers can get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. Learn more:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Brain Exchange - Unconventional Races

This Weeks Question Sponsored by Jill at Finishing is Winning:

Have you ever participated in any unconventional races? If so, tell us about them. If not, is it something you would consider and if so which one(s)?

Just this weekend I participated in McNellie's Pub Run which included a Guinness Challenge.  This was a slightly unconventional race in that is was very social and most participants were not super concerned with their time performance! It was a really fun race and was more like a roaming street party.

A while back when I lived in the DC area, I had the chance to participate in some other unconventional races.  One of the most interesting was called a Prediction Run.  The run varied in distance each year between 3-5 miles and you were not allowed to wear a watch.  At race registration, you could review the map of the course and then you had to predict your finishing time.  The winner was the person who ran most close to their prediction time.  Kind of a neat thing and a way to even out the playing field for the non-fast runners!  They also offered a standard 5K race so you could choose which to race to run. 

That's it for the most unconventional races.  Of course, I've also raced non-traditional distances which is fun for the automatic PR factor!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

McNellie's Pub Run Race Recap

Saturday was the annual McNellie's Pub Run in Tulsa.  McNellie's is a great beer pub that hosts a 4 mile race and optional Guinness Challenge.  The Guinness Challenge includes three beer stops along the 4 mile race route and at each stop you drink approx. 8 oz. of Guinness.  Some friends and I headed over for the race but only two of our group were brave enough to take on the Guinness!

Not your typical race water stop!
The race takes place in downton Tulsa and is hosted by Fleet Feet and McNellie's.  The start line is in front of the Fleet Feet store on 2nd and the finish is one block over in front of McNellie's.  There were lots of runners wearing kilts and even a few in costumes.  Temps were mid-50's and sunny for the race start at 3PM.  The start was a little funny...there were no loud speakers or count down just all of a sudden a big boom!

AJ, JP, Britt, Me, Jonathan
For our group, AJ and Jonathan were racing while Britt and JP were doing the Guinness Challenge and I was just socializing with Britt and JP.  After the race start, Britt and I settled into a comfy pace and got to chatting and laughing about the crazy Reno 911 people running near us.  The first beer stop was around the 2 mile mark and there was a huge crowd standing around drinking beer. JP waited for us after drinking his beer and then decided to hang with us for the rest of the race.

Britt was brave enough to get a picture with the Reno 911 duo!
We left the beer stop and made our way towards the BOK Center.  JP, Britt, and I are all running the Route 66 Half Marathon next weekend so we discussed the fact that Brad Paisley is playing concert the night before our race.  Next up, we were running along and a woman randomly stumbled towards the ground.  Being that it was a drinking race, we were slightly concerned...until she simply reached for her toes and took a stretch break!

The second beer stop was after an overpass and just down from Cain's Ballroom.  As we were hanging out there talking and telling stories, AJ and Jonathan came back from finishing and met up with us.  We got started back on our pace and headed towards the finish line.  The final beer stop is just in front of the finish line so while JP and Britt drank their final beers, I ran across and finished.  That last beer seemed a little rough for Britt but she got it down and finished strong. 

Just after the finish line they had beer trucks and the atmosphere was like a street party.  We hung out drinking beer until we couldn't handle the cold anymore then we headed into McNellie's for some good pub food and more fun.  Overall, a fun afternoon road trip! The only complaint was that for those racing, the times were based on gun times and not chip time so while AJ's chip time was 1st in her age group she placed 2nd due to gun time.  Kind of odd but prizes were only for top 3 and not age groups.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not complaining...bout the weather!

But it is almost mid-November and the high today was around 70 degrees! It is still shorts and shirt weather for evening workouts, which is awesome! I actually was hot tonight during my run and wore a tech shirt that I got from a triathlon this season.  I hated the shirt...the fit of it was terrible and super unflattering.  So while I won't be complaining about the weather, I will be complaining about that shirt! I'll probably just throw it into the donation pile. 

Hope you are having great weather in your neck of the woods! I've got my next big race next weekend and I'm sad to report that I'm already watching the weather religiously to see what it will be on race day.  Why do we obsess over race day weather when we have no control over it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not Your Average Adventure Virtual Race

Pahla over at Adventures of an Average Athlete is hosting a virtual race in honor of her upcoming birthday.  Pahla is known in the bloggy world as P so I decided to host a Race to P as in a Race to Pee!!! Every week, without fail, I have to make a visit to the porta-potty at our local track before our speedwork session begins.  Tonight I went ahead and made it into a race!
The starting line was my car!

I dressed for the occasion in a pink shirt and pigtails.  P is like me and wears pigtails for races and things. It wasn't too tough for me to wear pink and pigtails since they are favorites of mine too.  I got lucky and got a parking space that wasn't too far from the porta-potty so tonight's race was going to be a short one!

Made it to the finish, but the porta potty was already occupied!
The course was flat and partially lit, the length was non-traditional and approximately 6 parking spaces in length and across the traffic lane.  I went ahead and ran the diagonal which probably shaved a couple seconds off my race time.  The finish line was well lit but wasn't the most fancy finish. 

Race results!
Overall, I enjoyed my race even if it was super short! I did make up for it with an additional 5.9 miles of speed work including warm up and cool down afterwards.  Tonight's workout was a fartlek ladder workout.  We started with 30 seconds of hard effort and built up the ladder by adding 30 seconds to the hard effort after a 30 second recovery.  It was a tough workout mainly because my legs were fatigued from my long run on Sunday...I know you were expecting them to be fatigued from my Race to P!

Happy Birthday Pahla! I hope you have a great day and thanks for sharing your journey with us!!!

Monday Brain Exchange - Race Plans

The Monday Brain Exchange is a fun blog event that Jill hosts over at Finishing is Winning.  Every week, Jill posts a new topic and then recaps all of the bloggers that play along.  If you want to play along, just include a link to Jill's blog in your post and join in!

This week's topic: Where was the best place you have ever raced and why? Where is your dream place to race?

Most of my racing has happened in either the Washington, DC area or Northwest Arkansas.  I started running when I lived in DC and did a lot of fun races in that area.  When I moved to NWA, I found fewer big races in the immediate area but did find a lot of races within 3-4 hours from here that were super fun and similar to what I was used to coming from a bigger city. 

I think my all-time favorite place that I have raced so far has to be Miami for the ING Miami Half Marathon in 2008.  This was a girl's weekend trip and there were 5-6 of us doing the half marathon.  The scenery was so pretty with the course taking us running by cruise ships, along South Beach, and through fun neighborhoods.  I really enjoyed the race and loved that we got to experience sun rise on the run!

Now onto the dream race locations...that's tough because most destination type events seem to be marathons and I'm not super interested in doing a full marathon.  I also love beaches but know that those aren't necessarily ideal running conditions for me (hot, humid weather isn't that great for me!) I was really interested in the Rev3 triathlon series in Costa Rica this February.  That sounded like a lot of fun but the idea of dealing with my bike for international travel seemed like too much to take on right now.  I think for me it is more about the race experience that makes it a dream it well organized, well supported, scenic, safe, etc.  My current travel dreams include the following places (so if I could include a race in that would only improve the travel dream!): Hawaii, Sweden, Costa Rica, Canada, and Italy. 

It is fun to start thinking about racing plans because my 2010 season is winding down and I really need to start working out what my goals and plans are for next year!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Procrastination Rewarded

This weekend my running partner Anne was out of town.  I had a 12 miler on the books for my long run and had every intention of getting up Saturday morning to run it.  I even set my alarm for 6:15 so I could make it to the 7:00AM group run.  I found out Friday that most people in the Saturday group run were only doing 5 miles which meant I was going to be out there much longer than anyone else, boo!

Saturday morning the alarm went off and there was some kind of odd pull that was keeping me stuck in bed.  It was so warm under all the covers and my iPhone was showing an outside temp of 27 degrees.  That just didn't sound appealing so I decided to stay in bed.  The hourly forecast showed that the temps would warm once the sun was up and I kept telling myself that I could always go run later.  Sadly, I just never got the motivation...I hardly ate anything so I kept thinking that I wasn't fueled properly to go out and run 12 miles.  My ear was really bothering me and hurt quite a bit so that had me concerned about running in the cold and possibly getting an ear infection.  You name it...I explored it as a reason for why I shouldn't run!

Saturday evening I met up with a friend and co-worker who I had told that I was going to run on Saturday.  She picked on me for skipping the run and I promised that I would run on Sunday! Lori is notorious for picking on me when I don't hold to my running schedule! This morning came and the temps were warmer than yesterday.  I had a little time challenge in getting up and moving so I didn't make it to the 6:30AM start for the group run.  I got started around 7:00AM and figured that I would just need to take a picture of my Garmin when I finished to have proof for Lori that I had run!

The weather when I started was around 44 degrees and the sun was quickly rising.  I had dressed in capris and a long sleeve shirt that has a fleecy inside texture.  The fleece felt great for the first few miles but I could tell that in the sunnier sections of my route it was going to be too warm for me.  I eventually ended up taking the long sleeve off and just wearing my short sleeve around mile 6.5. 

I had picked an out-an-back route that would give me some easy hills and access to bathrooms since my tummy was a little upset.  I settled into a pace after using the first couple miles for warm-up.  I was avoiding looking at my Garmin because I didn't want to worry about my pace.  Running alone can sometimes be a mental challenge for me in that I will psych myself out and lose confidence in myself.  I wanted to just focus on running and not worry about times or splits. 

I took Pineapple Roctane Gu around mile 4 and 7.5...during my second stop for Gu I looked down the street and noticed Lori running along.  She passed me and just kept chugging along.  I yelled after her and discovered that our routes were going to converge for the next 2 miles so I followed along behind her.  I yelled up to her that this was saving me the trouble of having to email her a photo as proof that I had run! She chuckled on that one!

I finished up the run with 11.8 miles in 2 hours even.  The last little bit was pretty tough...later when I reviewed my splits I saw that I had been picking up the pace over the final 4 miles which is why it felt so much harder.  I really missed having my running partner there to keep me company but I was able to remind myself that I can rise up to the challenge when I believe in myself and turn off my brain and just run.  I really do need the reminder to just "Shut Up and Run" sometimes! The weather was so much nicer today and it truly felt like I was rewarded with an awesome run for my procrastination of the day before!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Brain Exchange is back!

Every week Jill at Finishing is Winning posts a question for the bloggy world to reply to.  Feel free to jump in, just include a link to Jill's blog.  The following week, her blog will list all those who chose to participate!

What do you miss most when you are in the heat of training or gearing up for a race? Do you skip late nights out? Do you give up goodies and alcohol? What is the first thing you crave when training is over?

What a good question since I'm just 3 weeks away from the Route 66 Half Marathon! I don't know that I miss out on much when I'm gearing up for a race.  This race season I've been working on losing some weight and that included a 6 week trial run of going gluten free before one of my big triathlons earlier this summer.  Giving up gluten was something that I did to reduce inflammation and try to improve my recovery with back-to-back hard workouts.  I missed some of my favorite foods during that time but overall did okay with the program. 

I don't tend to cut out foods when I'm gearing up for races.  This was an exception that I did as an experiment which I will probably try again next triathlon season.  I'm not a huge drinker any more but I don't necessarily avoid alcohol during training.  I try to not drink on the nights before long runs or races though.  I just don't sleep as well.  I also try to be choosy about my food choices before races and long runs too.

I tend to believe that we should be able to enjoy everything in moderation.  I'm still working on my finding moderation when it comes to sweets, but that is why running is a good thing for me! I hope you don't give up too much during your training.