Friday, May 31, 2013

Music while running and tempering your breathing

During my last running club meeting, we talked a little about breathing and running cadence. I've always found that I breathe best when I inhale for 3 steps and out for 3 steps on a long run during allergy season. For some reason, the extra exhale step just seems to prevent cramping for me. 

When I'm on a treadmill, I'm pretty good about being able to moderate my breathing, but when I get on the road sometimes I get distracted by my surroundings and have problems getting it correct. This was particularly evident during my most recent half marathon when my pace group took off a lot faster than I was hoping. I don't generally listen to music when I race, but I just couldn't get in the groove after the first water stop. I popped in an earbud (just one) and started the Nike+ app on my phone. I had put my music on shuffle and was pleasantly surprised when the first song was in a waltz time. Since then, I have taken my music off of shuffle and have Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick as one of the earlier songs I play to get myself back on track if I'm having trouble focusing on my breathing.

Do you have a song that helps you concentrate on a certain aspect of running?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Running in Memory

Memorial Day: A day in the United States where we recognize those who gave their lives in service to our country. Although I do not personally know anyone who lost their life in combat, but my brother was in the Navy for a while and I know he lost comrades. I am very proud of his service to our country.

Runner's World is doing a challenge where you run at least a mile ever day between Memorial Day and Independence Day. I am sort of doing that challenge. I've decided that I will run or walk every day between those dates to honor and remember our military service personnel. Yesterday, we went on a hike with the boys and I ran one mile in the evening.

Will anyone join me in this challenge?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The mid-run bathroom break

Warning: My mother would find this post crude and inappropriate for discussion in a public forum

Admit it, please. Sometimes you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of your run. If it's a long run outside, you may run all over trying to find an open public bathroom or squat in the woods. I've definitely done the former and have considered the latter. Have you cut short a run just because you had to go? Did you go back out and resume said workout? Have you struggled to get back into compression wear or spandex because you are so sweaty?

I hopped off the treadmill mid-run today to take a potty break. I felt guilty doing it. I was only running a 3-mile tempo, but at 1.5 miles I just couldn't hold it anymore. I turned off the treadmill, ran to the bathroom, and came back and finished my workout. I know some people would just leave the thing on while they go, but my mind won't let me comp that 1/4 of a mile that I would miss.

Back in the fall, I spent 5 miles of a 7-mile run trying to find an open port-a-potty or calling friends who lived on my running route trying to find a place to go to the bathroom. I ended up getting all of the way back to my starting point and running into a community center to go.

I know you could just tell me "run faster and you'll be able to go sooner." That just makes the whole thing worse. I am not one of those people who feels comfortable squatting wherever to go. I actually stopped at a rest area on my way to my last half marathon so I could avoid a port-a-potty and warned my mother-in-law that I might drop by on my way home and use her toilet.

All of this potty talk has me worried about the potty situation for my upcoming marathon. I KNOW I cannot make it 5+ hours without going and am dreading it.

Any potty on the run advice from the peanut gallery?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ragnar and Marine Corps Marathon Training Starts Today!

So, I am now officially 20 weeks out from my second Ragnar and about 23 out from Marine Corps Marathon. Time to switch into training mode. This means, I need to figure out a plan that accomplishes both my need for extremely long runs and double/triple dipping for relaying. I hate *just* running. I know I need to cross-train so I can prevent burn out and make sure that I do not get injured.

I decided what I would do is follow a variation of the Ragnar intermediate plan, except instead of 6 days a week, I will schedule runs for 4 days a week. This does not take into account my running club at the gym. That will just have to be extra ;) My husband thinks I'm a little anal retentive about it and says "No one else follows a plan like that."

It's not THAT bad. Note: all measurements are in miles, not kilometers

I already did my 4 miles for today :)

How far out do you start a training plan? How good are you about following it?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Maryland Half Marathon 2013

Back on Valentine's Day, I decided to sign up for the Maryland Half Marathon in Fulton, Maryland (just west of Laurel). I wanted to raise money for the Greenebaum Cancer Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The added benefit of registering on that date, was I received a red Brooks running hat with the MD Half Marathon emblem on it.

I picked up my packet a week ago, the shirt was really cool for a race shirt. It is Under Armour tech material and in a light chartreuse color. My only complaint is that it's a little thin for someone busty like me.

I drove the course earlier in the week and realized it was full of rolling hills. My current PR for a half marathon is 2:19:10. I really wanted to beat that, but I knew it wasn't going to happen here. I figured I would give it a good try and started with the 2:10 pace group. They started out way too fast for me at 9:15 for a relatively steep uphill section. The pollen and pace got to me at about 2 miles, so I lost the pace group and just decided to go it on my own. This worked well for me because I started wheezing. When I finally caught my breath, I figured I would be okay. 

When I say the course was hilly, I mean it. Here is about the only flat section of the course.

I'm not complaining. Aside from the very beginning and very end of the course, we ran through some very beautiful terrain. We ran past farms. We ran past ponds. We ran through the woods. We ran through beautiful older communities. We ran through beautiful newer communities. There was a young boy dressed as a banana on the course and he made me giggle a bit.

The rain held off until somewhere between miles 9 and 10 for me. The little shower we got was more refreshing than annoying. I'm glad it wasn't a driving rain for the entire race. About 11 miles, my unsleeved calves could no longer handle the hills and started cramping like they did during the Annapolis Half. I had to switch to walk/run. That last cruel hill up to the finish line hurt.

I finished in 2:24:55. I can deal with that. It's not a new PR, but when I look at the results as a percentage of runners I beat, it is a significant improvement. Not to mention, the winner did it in 1:19, which is slow for a half marathon. I honestly think that it was hillier than my first leg of Ragnar DC last year. That being said, I plan on running it again next year. I raised $400 for the Greenebaum Cancer Center and would like to thank all of my donors. I ran the race in memory of a family friend who passed away from breast cancer a little over 3 years ago. Next time, I'm going to write her name on my arm. I saw lots of people who were doing that and I wish I had thought about it.

The medal was very cool. The V is for the 5th anniversary.

Oh, I also proved to myself that I could run a half in the morning and go to a wedding in the afternoon and not fall over asleep by 6pm. My calves and quads hurt for a couple of days after the race. Next time, calf sleeves are a must!

On to the next challenge: The Crofton Kiwanis 10K on June 8th.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Switch to Minimalist

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I wanted to make the switch to minimalist shoes. I couldn't decide between a couple of different brands. Well, I ended up going with the Merrell Barefoot Access Arc. I had tried them on at the Merrell outlet, but they didn't have the color I wanted in my size. I found them on Amazon for $10 cheaper than the outlet.

Here they are!

I've done a couple of runs in them so far. I started with 1 mile and have done up to 3 miles in a single run. I was a midfoot striker, so I thought the transition wouldn't be as noticeable. Boy was I wrong. My calves can definitely tell the difference. I have been wearing my compression socks after ever run because the zero drop from heel to toe is so different than I am used to wearing. Other than that, they are very comfortable. I looked at the strike pattern on my shoes and I seem to be running in them properly with no real demonstrated over- or underpronation. They are so comfortable and I haven't developed any blisters while wearing them, but I haven't put in any runs over 3 miles. I'm halfway tempted to wear them for the Maryland Half Marathon this weekend, but I won't give into the temptation because I'm running that for the Greenebaum Cancer Center and I am running in my Reebok Pink Ribbon shoes in memory of a family friend who passed away 3 years ago after a long battle with breast cancer.

Only time will tell if I really like the minimalist shoes, but so far so good.

Have you made the switch to a minimalist shoe?

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Garnier Olia Tour Experience

A couple of months ago I got an email from Garnier about their national tour to demonstrate their new Olia hair color. The website claims it's a different kind of hair color that is 60% natural flower oils. One of their last stops was about an hour away from where I live in Frederick, Maryland. I was looking for a new hair color. I'm kind of tired of the reddish shade I've been using, so I signed up for the free session.

They sent me a patch test a couple of weeks in advance. I received no less than 3 confirmation emails and 2 phone calls. When I arrived and checked in, they took a before picture of me. I hadn't colored my hair in a while and was overdue for a touch-up anyways. Then a consultant sat down and helped me pick a color from the strands they had on the table. The reds they had were just too red for me. I could never pull off those shades. I selected the "Darkest Violet" shade.

Next, they took me into the trailer where they were coloring, rinsing, and styling the participants. The stylist who eventually did my hair told me that they found stylists locally, but the colorists and shampoo people were under a contract with Garnier. The man who put the color on my hair. I wouldn't complain about getting my hair colored for free, but I didn't even see that the colorist left a ton of the emulsion on my face. They had a nice waiting area with iPads for us to use for the 30 minutes we had to wait. I watched other women getting their hair styled and was even more happy I didn't pick the "Darkest Auburn" shade. I didn't realize until last night what a terrible job the man who rinsed out my hair did. When I took a shower last night, I washed out almost as much hair color as I would when I first start rinsing my own hair. When I sat down in the stylist's chair, I commented "Wow! That's a lot of purple." She thought I was talking about my hair, but then realized I was talking about the huge blob of purple dye that neither my colorist or shampoo person had bothered to remove. She did her best to scrub it off, but couldn't get all of it. She did do a good job styling my hair and kept commenting on how cute my haircut was, even though I haven't had it trimmed since my childhood friend Tahlia who works at a Great Clips in Orlando cut my hair back in December. I planned to have her do it when we were down in April, but the whole "lost wallet" debacle prevented that :(

Anyways, here is a picture of my stylist and me. The color is much darker than I expected and I can't really tell that it's purple and not black. My 4.5-year-old says it looks blue. My hair is soft and shiny, which it hasn't been in a while. I would use the hair color again. It doesn't smell as badly as the ones I had been using.

I was not compensated by Garnier USA for this post other than free hair color and style, which was available to anyone who happened upon the website before all of the appointments filled.