Thursday, February 25, 2016

Friday Five: February Runfessions

Double Whammy Friday! It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for Runfessions blog link up, over at Marcia's Healthy Slice. This is a chance for all us fitness enthusiasts to admit our fitness indiscretions, if you will. Because we're all human and stuff and it feels good to let it all go instead of mentally beating ourselves up.

And, since I'm releasing five runfessions, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Check them out when you're done here! 

Ok, for the month of February...this is what I runfess:

1. My good friend, Lynne, was here in the beginning of the month and it was a great visit. Well, it was supposed to be a great visit. Lynne is a CPA and comes out here to visit right before the really crazy part of tax season begins. But her visit coincided with the 80th week of sickness in my house. My girls have been sick on and off since before Christmas and I thought they were in the clear before Lynne got here. But they weren't. And they were home from school most of the week Lynne was here and even she was under the weather a bit during her stay. I felt so bad. But her last day here the hubs took the day off and we were able to spend the day relaxing at the spa and then gorging ourselves at delicious sushi for dinner. Her last night was great, so at least I redeemed myself. But in the process of having such an awful week and then wanting to spend as much time together (and away from the sick house), I skipped my long runs that weekend. I got some mileage in for my run streak, but I didn't do the mileage I was supposed to do. Oh well. 

2. Speaking of the run streak, I don't really love it. Well, I do and I don't. I think it's been helpful in recovering from some of my races (I've been streaking for 2 months, so that included streaking around my 50-miler in January and the LA Marathon a couple of weeks ago). But I also forget about it and remember late at night and need to hop on the treadmill for a mile or two before bed. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but at 9:00pm, I want to go to sleep. Not run on the treadmill. So we'll see how much longer I will do this run streak. I like the concept of it but it's pretty hard at times to keep up with! 

3. I am a clumsy person. That's really nothing new. But I took the clumsy to an all-new place when I tripped over a laundry basket left at the bottom of the stairs. It was dark and I was getting ready for a pre-dawn run, so I didn't have any lights on. I went to use the bathroom, which is on the other side of the stair case. When I came out of the bathroom and rounded the corner of the stair case, I apparently forgot the basket was there and ran into it. I had to stifle my screams but I definitely cried. That thing hurt!! 

4. I signed up for the Old West Trails 50K race the day after my girls' birthday. Technically, I scheduled my girls' birthday party on Sunday so I could run the race on Saturday. You may remember the guilt I had over this in last month's Runfessions. I still feel really badly about it. But I won't be leaving them on their actual birthday and I'll be going up to the race the day after and back that night. I'll be with them for the entire next day, which includes their party. I don't know why I feel badly about this. But I do. Mommy guilt. The struggle is real. 

I did win a pair of gaiters from the race director of Old West, so that's the good part! Dirty Girl Gaiters offered some free pairs to race registrants and Vanessa and I both won! I couldn't decide between two pairs, so I got one for free and bought the other. Score! 

5. I am tired this month. My schedule has been pretty crazy with a lot of early morning clients and my own running. I wake up before 5:00am 5 days a week and before 6:00 on one of the other days. That leaves just one day a week where I can sleep as long as I want, but that usually means 6:00 or 6:30am. UGH. And since I have pretty bad bouts of insomnia, that doesn't always happen even if I do get the chance. So I'm runfessing that I sometimes wish my clients would cancel an early morning session. Does that make me a bad coach/trainer? I LOVE my clients but sometimes I wish I could sleep a little bit more often. That is all. Maybe that's also why I skipped my long run earlier this month. I just wanted some sleep. Is that so bad? 

Thanks for the opportunity to cleanse my sole! What do you runfess? 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Will Run for Bling!

Races have become so much more than just the race itself. People are signing up for the goodies they get like awesome race shirts, race bags, post-race food and beer and, of course, the medal. That medal is the carrot that we all run after, motivating us to finish the race. We wear our race medals proudly, we hang them up, we decorate our Christmas trees with them and so much more. Some medals are better than others and that's what we're talking about today!

Before I continue, I'm participating in the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

I'll admit, while I like the race medals, they're not usually the thing that draws me to do a race. But I kind of like the fact that medals are getting bigger and more exciting. As I was going through my medals for this post, I noticed how puny and pathetic the older medals are. For instance, here are two of my Marine Corps Marathon medals. The Marine Corps Marathon was my first marathon in 2004. I ran it again after my first baby in 2006 and then I ran it again in 2014 to celebrate my 10th year of running marathons. In the pic below, the one on the left is from 2004 and the one on the right is from 2014. They're totally different medals and the newer one is quite the improvement!!

My Marine Corps medals are definitely favorites simply for sentimental reasons. My two 50-miler medals are also sentimental favorites. I'm just really proud of myself for finishing the two hardest races I've done.

Bonus glass for the 50-miler finishers!

I love the Surf City Marathon medal because it's different. It's a wooden surf board! Quintessentially California :)

I love my Revel race medals because they're enormous and very cool looking with the ram horn design. I don't know exactly what the ram horns represent, so if you know, let me know :)

And I love my non-medals too! I have two belt buckles from the Griffith Park Marathon and I love them! Granted, I don't wear belts but if I ever do, you can be sure I'll wear my buckles proudly :)

My other non-medal is the coaster from the Malibu Canyon 50K. It's ceramic and it sits on my counter, so it's my only race "medal" that I see every day. It's a constant reminder of a race I really loved!

I am looking forward to earning the 2016 San Diego Half Marathon medal. I have run this race every year since its first year, which makes me a 5-year legacy runner. The 5-year legacy runners get a jacket this year, which I'm super excited about. And the 5-year medal is super cool with a jewel marking each year of the race and a pretty outline of the Gaslamp district of downtown San Diego, where the race finishes. It looks really cool and I'm looking forward to getting it in a few weeks!

What are some of your favorite race medals? Are there any that you haven't earned yet but are hoping to? Let me know!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Five Things I Love to Eat on the Run!

Part of my ultra training is making sure I'm eating right while on the run. I have been plagued with stomach issues ever since I had my first child. For some reason, when I run long, my stomach decides it's time to go into overdrive. Sometimes when I push the pace, it also goes a little insane. I used to be able to eat pretty much anything before the run, eat any gel and have caffeine throughout the entire run. But when I was training for my first marathon after my son was born, that all changed. And basically ever since then, I've been experimenting with 100s of different items on the run. And now I think I may be onto something. It only took 10 years.

Before I continue, I'm participating in the Friday Five blog link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. When you're done here, be sure to check them out!

I have found that my body tolerates real food more than anything else. When running for hours, all that processed sugar really takes a toll on me and my system likes real food more than anything else. Real food is also higher in water than the processed stuff, so you don't have to drink a ton of fluids in order to start the digestion process. I feel less bloated and just better, overall. Plus, the real food doesn't overload my system with tons of sugar, which is much better for my sensitive stomach.

1. Rice Bars

I've had the most luck with making rice bars from scratch and having them about every hour or so on the the run. I started making these just within the last 5 or 6 months training for the San Diego 50 Mile back in January. My partner in crime, Vanessa, and I each make a batch of different bars and then share them along the way. She makes a savory version (with bacon!) and I make a sweet version. The ones in the pic are raspberry and mint. I get my inspiration from the Skratch Labs Feed Zone Portables cookbook. I've also done strawberry and chocolate, pineapple and coconut and peanut butter and jelly.

2. Fresh Fruit

The first time I had fresh fruit on the run was during the Griffith Park Marathon in 2013. Most trail races, as I was discovering at that point, have a plethora of goodies at their aid stations. Think toddler's birthday party: candy, soda, fruit, etc. I distinctly remember eating a strawberry at the aid station at the halfway point and I was hooked. I don't bring it with me all the time, but it's such a refreshing treat when I do. I also love orange slices, bananas, watermelon and blueberries.

3. Pretzels

I started running with pretzels well over a year ago. They are easily portable and can be found anywhere. So if I'm traveling for a race, pretzels will be on the menu. I prefer the smaller, thin pretzels as they are easier to chew while running. Between the carbs and salt, they are a great pick-me-up on the run.

4. Clif Bar Organic Energy Food

When traveling for a race, or just short on time to make my food in advance, these babies come in handy. The Clif Bar Organic Energy Food packs are just fruit and vegetable purees, and sit well with my stomach. My favorite flavors are the Banana Beet and Ginger and the Banana Mango with Coconut. I've tried the Sweet Potato and I'm not a big fan. They have a couple of new flavors that I'm looking forward to trying!

5. Skratch Labs Fruit Drops

If I'm running a race that's shorter than a marathon, eating chews or gels works for me. Because I'm not running too terribly long, my system won't get overloaded by the simple sugar and erupt in unpleasantness. I find that I tolerate the Fruit Drops from Skratch Labs the best. My favorite flavor is the Raspberry.

Some honorable mentions during a race: Twizzlers, Peanut M&Ms and Coke. I typically only have these during ultras where I know I won't be pushing the pace. But during shorter, faster runs, I stay far away from that stuff!

What do you like while on the run?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LA Marathon Race Recap

I need to begin with a warning - this post is going to be long. The LA Marathon weekend was absolutely awesome. With the Olympic Trials on Saturday and the race on Sunday, I had the BEST time and there's a lot to talk about!! My race was more a tour than a race. We stopped so many times to take pics (and use the bathroom, which added so much time) that I can't really call it a race. It was so wonderful and there is a lot to share! So you've been warned :)

Before I continue, I'm participating in the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

Back to the recap. As mentioned last week, all weekend festivities were with Smitha. We saw tons of friends up there and met many new ones, but the time with her was just amazing. Can't say enough about my BRF.

We headed up to LA on Friday night after dinner. Thankfully, traffic was actually pretty light and we made it up in about 2 hours, which is good. We stayed with Beth and her wonderful family, friends of Smitha's since middle school (or earlier? I can't remember) and it was so wonderful. They really opened their home to us and it was great getting to know them. The only bad thing about Friday night was Smitha realizing she forgot her hydration vest at home. Thankfully we had some friends driving up on Saturday and she was able to coordinate its arrival. Phew! Crisis diverted!

Saturday started with a ride over to the expo, which was at the LA Convention Center. We did a little sightseeing as the convention center is right next to the Staples Center. I have never been there before, so of course we needed some photos. By the way our cute tanks are from Qtee, which makes great apparel that you can customize! Loved our heart tanks!

In front of Magic Johnson's statue by the Staples Center
Calling the shots! 
Onto the expo. I get a little anxious with race expos. I have a love-hate relationship with them. I love them and feel physically anxious about them until I'm there and have my stuff in my hands. And I've seen everything. But I also hate them because I don't like crowds. So I get anxious about the crowds. It's all so very overwhelming. But we got our goods and made our way through the expo relatively quickly. There was the usual fare, but I did manage to pick up a new hat, pose for pics with Meb and run into a friend from Maryland! That was a nice surprise.

Let's go to the Expo! 
Just a little excited to get our race numbers!
Hanging with Meb. That's a poster cut out.
It looks real, right? I fooled my parents. 
Buying my awesome hat from Bic Bands

We finished up at the expo just in time for the Olympic Trials to start. The course was a looped course with the convention center right at the start/finish. We planted ourselves on the course and watched the entire thing. It was amazing!! I am now more excited than ever to see the Olympics. We have such a strong team. And I'm just so amazed at how awesome Meb is. He's going to be 41 and just qualified for his 4th Olympic team. He's just a rock star.

Front row seats for the Trials! 
Men at about mile 4 or so. 

Women at mile 4 or so. 

After the Trials, we had our We Run Social meet up, which was great. Seeing so many friends and meeting many new ones is the reason why I love doing these races. The whole point of We Run Social is to bring people together from all over the place, to support and encourage one another and just have fun. It's great to be a part of this group!

The We Run Social crew

Saturday night finished with a low-key dinner with Beth. Turkey burgers and a beer for me. I figured that I'd hydrated like a mad woman all day, one little beer wouldn't hurt :)

Ok, Sunday morning. Race Day. We were up at 2:30am, headed to the finish at Santa Monica to take a shuttle to the start at Dodger Stadium. We were there by 5:00am, I think. The race didn't start until 7:00am, so it was a long wait. But it gave us plenty of time to meet everyone we needed to meet, eat our breakfast, use the bathroom 90 times and get ready. At least we could wait inside the stadium. I was still freezing but at least we weren't outside. With all the worry about the heat, I didn't think about how cool it would be when we started. Oh well. I survived. We headed to the race start at 6:45 and made our way into the corrals. We crossed the start around 7:15, I think. Not too bad.

All the championships rings are spread around the stadium

Waiting and waiting...
Dodger Stadium!
For some reason I really like photobombing Smitha
Walking up to the start line!

Crossing the line with Launa, Smitha, Jenn and me!
There were 28,000 people running!

We started at Dodger Stadium, as mentioned already. From there we headed into Chinatown, which was very cool. I loved running under the gates and then seeing the dragons cheering us on.

Under the gates of Chinatown

Dancing with the dragons!

After Chinatown, we went through several other neighborhoods, including Echo Park, Silverlake and Los Feliz. They were all super cute with lots of awesome looking shops and restaurants. We did have to use the bathroom but didn't want to wait in the huge lines at the port-o-potties. We went into a 99 cent store to use their bathroom, which was in the back of the store. More like a loading dock than anything. It was an adventure in itself.

Going potty on a loading dock!

After this we headed into Hollywood. As you can imagine, I was in my celebrity-loving glory. So much to see, the miles were just flying by. We were on Hollywood Blvd. and followed the Hollywood Walk of Fame a bit and ran by Grauman's Chinese Theater. We had to stop to take some photos, of course.

You can see the Hollywood sign in the back on the left,
Griffith Park Observatory on the right.
Grauman's Chinese Theater

Hollywood Walk of Fame 

From there, we turned and headed back to Sunset. My nephew lives right off Sunset so I texted him as we were approaching and he basically bolted out of the house and ran to the course. He got there just as we did and it was great to see him.  It gave me such a boost!

My nephew, Brett, his dog Bixby and me!

We continued along Sunset into West Hollywood. This is also a celebrity-lovers heaven with all the bars, restaurants and sights to see. Chateau Marmont, Laugh Factory, The Whiskey, Viper Room, Troubadour and more. Oh and Bob Harper. From Biggest Loser. Yeah, that's right. He was a spectator on the course and I spotted him, screamed and ran over to say hello. He was nice enough to take a photo with us and even told us how awesome we were for running. As you can imagine, I was beside myself after that. I was running on air.

Bob Harper!

But then I quickly came back to the ground as the heat cranked up. We made our way through Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, which was quite delightful to see. Then onto Century City and Westwood where it was the hottest section of the course. Very little shade and nothing exciting to see. Though there was a local running group on the course with ice cold Dr. Pepper and Coke for the runners. The only time I drink soda is during an ultra, so this was like a gift from above. They must have been ultrarunners :)

Mile 17 or 18 with my BRF!

After the Dr. Pepper, we went into Brentwood, which was gorgeous with its tree-lined streets and ridiculously large houses. The shade was wonderful after the heat from Century City. And from here the course started its decent toward the ocean and the finish!!

Man that finish line was fabulous!! We got our 4000lb medal and made our way out. I also earned a second medal for doing Ragnar Relay, which was a gorgeous golden medal in the shape of California.

Sweet Finish!
The Finishers!

Double medals!

Stadium to the Sea!

Phew! What a weekend. The race was so great. Tons of spectators, a relatively flat course (full of sights to see) and the course support made this race one of my favorites. I will gladly do it again. Though they changed the race back to March for next year, so I'll have to see if it will work. But I will definitely do my best to be there again!!