Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sarasota Half Marathon Race Recap

This was the race that I didn't think I'd get to do. Last year I had to defer due to family issues. Then last week, my PF flared badly. I received treatment for that, and following my doctor's advice, took the rest of the week off running. As an alternative, I went for a bike ride and crashed when I hit a muddy puddle. Sore and bruised, I wasn't sure if I would be able to run 13.1. But some relaxation and aqua therapy in Florida allowed me to heal and line up Sunday morning, ready to run.

Sarasota Half Marathon

This race was supposed to be a training run, but you know me. Even with the best intentions, my inner competitor comes out. I headed to Sarasota early Sunday morning to run this half with no goal in mind but to finish and go with what the day decided to bring. With all that had happened prior to the race, I was determined to run this thing. And if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I don't give up easily.

My parents got me to the Van Wezel center about 6:30, and with a start time of 6:45, I jumped out of the car and headed to the portapotties. I received a text from Mary Beth from Tutus and Tennies, who I had planned to meet at the race. I came out of the portapotties, and there she was! We exchanged a quick hug and dashed to the race corrals. I was in corral A--what the heck?--but I was glad to be up front. I put my music on, got the signal on my Garmin, the national anthem was sung, and we were off! No time for nerves.

Sarasota Half Marathon
MaryBeth and me!
We headed immediately south on Tamiami Trail towards the Ringling Bridge to Lido Key. I was excited to run this portion of the race but it was pitch black and you couldn't see anything on the water. What I didn't anticipate was the bridge incline! I've driven over it a few times, but it's a different story on foot. By the time I got to the top, I was winded. I breezed back down, and before I knew it, we were running around St Armands Circle and back up the bridge again. This was already mile 4, but I had to walk. The famed Florida humidity was already taking a toll on me. The sun was starting to rise along with the temperature.

When we got to the top of the bridge, I started running again and flew down, trying to make up for some lost time. For the rest of the race, I used my walk-run strategy that worked well for me at Chicago. Most miles, I walked 1/10th of a mile and ran the rest. I did ok with that. I didn't always have to walk, but I was glad to have that safety net. The other thing I was really glad to have was my handheld bottle with my Tailwind. I ended up drinking about 2 1/2 bottles for this race.

We ran through a really beautiful residential area of Sarasota along the bay. The homes were gorgeous, and there was a lot of natural shade from those mossy oak trees that lined the streets. I felt like it was a little easier to breathe and settled into a 9:30 pace. It was all I could do, considering the conditions. So humbling! I ended up running with the same group of people through the rest of the race. Have you ever had that happen to you? There was a girl wearing black capris and a long sleeved black top. I spent the majority of the race pondering her wardrobe choice. Just looking at it made me hot. She was moving along, though, so I guess it worked for her.

There were a couple of medical aid stations and I saw a guy with the crotch of his shorts completely shredded. He was applying vaseline to his nether regions. I can't even imagine what his shower felt like after the race.

We finally hit mile 12, and the song Fine Again by Seether came on my playlist. Don't ask me what came over me--maybe it was because I could see the finish line ahead, but I started to sing. Out loud. I'm sure everyone around me thought I was a lunatic. I picked up the pace. Singing.
"And I am aware now of how everything's gonna be fine one day, Too late, I am in hell now, I am prepared now, seems everyone's gonna be fine..."
Whatever it takes, right? My music pushes me through those tough runs.

Sarasota Half Marathon
My face says it all. This was a tough one for me.
I approached the finish line. I saw the clock and shook my head. While I was glad to be done, I was disappointed in my ability to overcome the conditions. Damn it!

Sarasota Half Marathon

Someday I'll be a hot weather runner...

Sarasota Half Marathon
Happy to be done!
Official Finish time 2:08:38
I reconnected with my parents, and we waited for Mary Beth to finish.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed the amazing post-finish line spread--this has to be the best post-race party I've seen in a long time. There were two long tables of food and drinks.

Would I do this race again? For sure. The course was beautiful, the race was well organized, and the medal was amazing. Did I mention the free race photos? If I was to make the Sarasota Half Marathon a goal race, I'd incorporate heat training into my training regimen.

But it was, after all, a training run...

How do you do running in extreme heat and humidity? Have you ever trained for a warm weather race? Spill your secrets!

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. This week's word is shenanigans. I don't know about you but any long distance race has some shenanigans, doesn't it?

I'm also linking up with the Wild Workout Wednesday ladies! Check out all their blogs: Angelena Marie, Annmarie, Nicole and Michelle host this fun linkup!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 6

I'm halfway through my training for the Big Sur Marathon! Unfortunately, this week was not quite as epic as the last two. Marred by injuries, I was forced to take a couple of days off to recover and rest. Since I spent the latter part of the week in Florida, it wasn't hard to convince myself to put my feet up!

Monday: yoga with Megan. She started off the class talking about digestion and had us do some deep abdominal breathing. Throughout the class, she incorporated twists. It was a challenging class but I really enjoyed it. I also finally mastered side crow! I actually found it easier to balance than with regular crow. Go figure.

Side Crow
Side crow
Tuesday: I had 6 miles on the plan. It was 62 degrees, and I couldn't wait to get outside. I felt great. Until mile 6, when my foot started hurting. Badly. I got home and iced it. By the time I got to work, I was in so much pain I could barely walk. I texted our sports medicine doctor (I work in pediatrics) and he got me in to see his "adult" colleague over lunch. She was happy with all the work I had been doing at home, and said she would be willing to try a steroid injection if I was.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 6
6 miles at sunrise
You all know how I feel about this. There is the risk of tendon rupture and fat pad necrosis with steroid injection into the plantar fascia. However, I was in so much pain that I made the decision to go ahead with the shot and take the rest of the week off of running. She was good with that, and prepped my foot for the injection. It hurt, but no worse than the pain I was in. Afterwards, she gave me a referral for PT to work on my kinetic chain, since I always seem to be injured on my left side. And she told me she would get me to the start line of Big Sur. She wasn't happy about my plans to run a half marathon on Sunday though.

Wednesday: In lieu of my scheduled hill training, I went for a bike ride. It was a little drizzly to start but still warm, in the 60s, and it felt good to be on the bike. About 4 miles into my ride, I passed a runner, went around a curve, slipped on the wet pavement and crashed to the ground. The runner came up to me and asked if I was ok. I was able to move everything, so no broken bones. I felt like crying but I let him help me up and I thanked him. I gathered myself and got back on my bike. I decided to finish my ride. Slowly and a little bit shakily. As it turns out, it wasn't the best day to be out on the path. There were workers cutting trees down, and they had their truck parked in the path. More mud for me to slog through. But once I passed them up, I was rewarded with singing birds and chirping frogs in the ponds. I do love spring! 17 miles/75 mins

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 6
After the crash. In shock, I think.
When I got home, I assessed my wounds, which were mostly road rash on the arm and leg where I fell. I was covered with mud, which must have been what made the path so slippery. I had some pain in my adductors and hips too, and as the day went on, the soreness took hold. I guess this was some kind of sign that I needed to take it easy the rest of the week. The good news? My foot didn't hurt much at all.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: I headed to Florida with a wish and a hope that I'd be able to line up at the start line of the Sarasota Half Marathon on Sunday. I rehabbed my sore body by doing yoga in the sun, splashing in the pool, and walking on the beach. Therapy. It was rough.

Tree pose 
King dancer
Crow pose
Camel pose
Sunday morning I woke up feeling good and ready to run. I'll post a full race recap on Wednesday, but since this was a training run (ha!) I wanted to include it in my summary. We started in the dark humid morning and I have to say how great it felt to be running. But I struggled with the heat and humidity and ended up really slowing down. My foot felt pretty good but I every time I started running again after a walk break, I felt a twinge in my right hip. When I finished, I was really uncomfortable. My foot started to throb and the hip pain became a little more intense. I'm pretty sure the hip pain is from the bike crash. I was pretty upset about it, but as the day went on, the pain subsided, and I felt a little more optimistic.

Sarasota Half Marathon
At the finish
I know when I get home on Tuesday I'll need to make another appointment with the sports medicine doctor as well as look into alternative training for Big Sur. One of my friends and fellow bloggers, Holly, trained for WDW doing pool running, and I think I'll need to explore that. I'm not happy about this at all. 

Stay tuned.

How was your week? Any mishaps? Have you ever trained for a marathon using alternatives to running?

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!

Friday, March 11, 2016

5 fun things.. Yoga and Running and Streaking, oh my!

This one's coming to you from sunny Florida. With all the focus on Big Sur, I haven't talked much about it, but yes, I am running a half marathon this weekend! Pretty sure this one will not be a PR, but I'm hoping to respect myself at the finish line. Since I'm not taking the race too seriously, I'm not taking this week's Friday Five too seriously either. Can you say vacation mode?

You know someone who's streaking, right? I mean run streaking. I mean running every day. I see these posts on Facebook, and I think, wow! I'm lucky if my feet will let me run 4 days per week. But every day? I'm such a wimp. I went to the USRSA Active Run Streak list to find the runner who has been streaking the longest. His name is Jim Sutherland, and he has been running every day since May 26, 1969. As of this post, that is 17, 090 days. IN A ROW. I perused the list to find the longest streaking woman, and her name is Lois Bastien. She's 79 and has been running 13, 110 days, since 1980.

Where were you in 1969? Were you running? I was...on the playground at school. Does that count?

And speaking of streaking... Did you know that last week, March 5 was World Naked Bike Day? At least in the southern hemisphere, it was. Don't worry, those of us in the northern hemisphere will get our chance on June 11. In the interest of research, I found out that the Chicago ride is the 5th annual Naked Bike Ride. Don't have a bike? You can skate. Don't want to be completely naked? You can body paint. There's a list of rules on the web page, and the location is not disclosed until a few days before the event. That's to keep the creepers away.

from the 2014 ride
I can't believe I've never heard of this event! You'd think it would be all over the news. After all, the purpose of the ride is to "deliver a cleaner, safer, body positive world". I'm not exactly sure how riding naked delivers this message. But you didn't think people just rode naked, for fun, did you? The seat on my bike is pretty uncomfortable. Sans pants? I don't even want to think about it.

Their motto is "less gas, more ass". Pretty sure they mean gas of the petroleum type, right?


The next time you stop to take a runfie or strike a yoga pose think about this: more people die from taking selfies than from getting attacked by sharks. According to this article on Mashable, people are taking higher risks to get their selfies, in order to capture a memorable photo.

I haven't done anything risky for a selfie, but I have my share of fails:

Trying valiantly to get that leg up into side plank!
Headstand fail
No fail but balancing on a wall in high lunge?  Ok, some risk here...

These T-rex Tuesday videos have been making my week. After seeing this ice skating video, I was hooked. This week they were roller derbying. Oh my! So much silliness, cuteness, and fun all wrapped up in one little clip. You can follow them on Facebook to see what T-rex is up to each week!


And finally, if you haven't made up your mind about which candidate measures up, and you're not impressed with the Donald's claims about the little Donald, maybe you want to pick a candidate who claims to have been a runner. Runner's World analyzed the candidates for us. Of course, some of the ones they listed have dropped out of the race. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders was a track and field runner in his youth, laying claim to a 4:37 mile. Bernie is promoting a healthy lifestyle as part of his campaign. According to this article, Bernie chops wood for exercise. On the red team, Marco Rubio claims an athletic past, running a 4.65 40 yard dash as a collegiate. Rubio was a college football player, and still works out regularly. While all the other candidates claim some form of exercise, none of them are runners. 

Of course, last summer, Donald Trump told a little boy he was Batman. So there's that.

In case you needed something else to help make your decision, Ted Cruz is offering yoga mats. With his name. Inspired by his advice at one of the debates to Trump to "just breathe". 'Merican made. Namaste off this one. 

It's the silly season...

What's tickling your funny bone these days? 

I'm linking this one up with the DC Trifecta for their Friday Five link up! Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia host this awesome linkup! Check it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Let's All Be Gracious

How do you respond to negative comments on social media? Or to negativity in general? Do you lash out? Or are you able to take yourself out of the situation? Today's Wednesday Word is gracious, and I've had plenty of opportunities to consider all of this lately.

Let's All Be Gracious

Watching news clips from the political debates (I can't watch the actual events--makes me crazy) has made me reflect on how, as a society, we've become less respectful to each other. Instead of ignoring jabs and barbs, and responding with grace and consideration, the candidates come back with insults. It's like watching the playground bully go after another kid--we're all bystanders. It's truly fascinating and I can't help but wonder, where has all the civility gone?

I flex my grace muscle every day, all day at work. I don't write about my work much at all on the blog. After all, this is a running blog. But it's been a tough couple of months, and yes, being gracious has been a challenge for me.

In general, most of my interactions are positive. But patients show up late, and I have to explain why I can't see them or why they have to wait while I see the ones who came on time.

There are the frustrated parents who argue with me about my medical management decisions because they are exhausted from caring for a sick child. I understand where they are coming from. I am empathetic. Sometimes that's all I have to offer, and I feel bad about that.

Then there are those parents who come in with their own diagnosis and expect me to give them what they think their child needs. Those are the tough ones. They can be demanding and even insulting.

Already feeling stressed, sometimes it takes every ounce of self-control I possess not to lash back at them.

Has social media made us less accommodating to opinions that differ from our own? Certainly, we all joke about Dr. Google, which has empowered people to self-diagnose. But I see it everywhere. Everyone has become an expert on everything and have become intolerant of anything that differs with their opinions. I've been fortunate that on my own social media sites, I've had very little issue with negative comments. But when I read comments on other sites, I cannot believe the things people post.

Since I follow so many fitness pages on social media, my Facebook feed is filled with positivity. I love this. I forget that I have my running bubble. Where positivity reigns. Unfortunately, this bubble really makes the negative posts really stand out.

I've also seen people use social media to lash out. I recently experienced that personally, and as a person who takes enormous pride in her work ethic, it rocked me to my core. Even though I was right, this person felt the need to express her dissatisfaction with me via social media. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it. There is that whole First Amendment thing.

Instead, I had to rise above the fray. As difficult as this experience was, I had to swallow my pride and continue with a smile on my face. I can't make everyone happy. Taking the high road was the right thing to do. Even though it was the hard thing to do.

Let's All Be Gracious

A couple of months later, I can look back on this very painful incident and know that I did the right thing.
"I give grace because I so desperately need it."- Lysa Terkeurst
Everyone has bad days. But before you post something negative think about the possible implications. Ask yourself: is this something I'd say to that person's face? Is this something I want other people to see? Do I want to be remembered for this?

And if the comment is directed at you, first ask yourself if there is any truth in the comment.

Don't get defensive. While lashing out via social media might immediately feel good, you'll regret it later.

A good rule to remember is: Say it, forget it, write it, regret it. Once it's out there, it's out there.

Take a deep breath. Put your head down and walk away.

Cooler heads prevail.

Instead of spreading the negativity, spread positivity.

Be gracious in all your interactions.

Grace and humility go hand in hand.

Maybe, just maybe it isn't about you.
"Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you." -Else De Wolfe
How do you react to inflammatory posts? Do you read them and move on? Or do you respond? Have you every been cyberbullied or attacked on social media? If so, what did you do?

I'm linking up with DebRuns! Check it out.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5

We continued on that weather roller coaster this week. This is my first time training for a spring marathon, and it has been interesting trying to plan my runs! Still, I've been staying on track!

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5

Monday: rest day

Tuesday: I had that pair of YakTrax to review, and so I headed out into the blustery snow/sleet/ice to get my 6 miles in. For sure, it was slow but it felt good to be outside. 6.13m/8:58m/m

Post run selfie

Wednesday: It was really cold when I got up (14F) and I decided to do my speedwork on the treadmill. My son missed the bus, and I grudgingly put on my running clothes to do my speedwork at the pond. Turns out he did me a favor. The path was pretty clear, and the sunshine was brilliant on the open water of the lake. I hit paces I've not seen since last summer. Stunned and happy, I couldn't decide on a yoga pose to finish. Miles 2 and 4 were into the wind. Splits: 7:44, 7:51, 7:38, 7:56, 7:42

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5
So cold you can see my breath!
I had to go into work early for a meeting, so I couldn't make my yoga class. I did the SeaWheeze 2014 yoga video at home. It felt great after that speedy running! But later in the day, my PF flared badly. I could barely walk. It didn't hurt after I ran, so I don't know if it was because I was sitting all afternoon and it tightened up? Or maybe it was the old pair of shoes I grabbed at the last minute for my run. I was too lazy to take the YakTrax off my yellow shoes or get out the new pair I had waiting for this week. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I had evening clinic, and between patients I kept icing my foot. I tried sleeping with my night split but my foot wasn't having it. It was very painful.

Thursday: When I woke up, my foot was still sore. I sat with it on the heating pad while I drank my coffee. I rode for an hour on the bike trainer. The YouTube video I rode along with this week was cycling intervals, and while I enjoyed it, 2 of the riders in the group were not wearing helmets. Come on, people! At least, this safety fail distracted me from the lingering PF pain.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5
Hey, inversions keep me off my feet, right?
At CrossFit, Becky and I shifted gears this week. The strength cycle was completed last week, and now we're doing more "CrossFit" types of workouts. Today I did intervals of sumo deadlifts alternating with kettlebell swings (I knew there would be kettlebells this week!), a glute strengthener with resistance band alternating with GHD extensions, and slam balls alternating with hanging knee ups. Becky had me finish with 3 mins all out on the rower. I came home, foam rolled, ate all the food, and put my feet up. No pictures today.

Friday: rest day

Saturday: I had a 6 mile run on the plan. It was also time for new shoes. After Wednesday's old shoe blunder, I wasn't taking any more chances with my foot. I pulled out the backup pair I had stashed in my closet and was stunned at the bright color (I didn't open them when they came). When I ordered them, the color was described as "coral" and didn't look quite so neon in the picture. Since it was such a gloomy, dreary, gray morning, the shoes put a smile on my face every time I looked down at my feet. This run was tough because my legs were still sore from Thursday's workout.  My PF was also sore. I really appreciated the cushioning of the new shoes. 6.01/8:39m/m

New neon orange shoes. A bright spot in the wet muddy snow.
Momentum foot notes that I won from Scoot-A-Doot!

Sunday: Every 3 weeks on my marathon training plan, Becky switches out the long run for a long bike ride. I haven't done any long rides yet, because riding outside in the cold is not at all an appealing option, nor is 2 hours on the trainer. But between my sore foot and the predicted temps in the 40s, I decided to go for it. I waited for it to warm up a bit, had my son take my bike out of the trainer, filled up the tires, and headed out. I was really excited to feel how easy the pedalling felt and my Wahoo Blue SC sensor was working perfectly. The air was chilly and the south wind was brisk, but I was dressed perfectly for the conditions. About 11 miles into the ride, I stopped to take a picture of the beautiful dried wheat field behind me. That's when I noticed that my phone was dead. It was a little unnerving, but not because I wouldn't be able to capture my ride. Although as they say, if you don't post it, it didn't happen, right? I didn't like the idea of not being able to get in touch with my family if something happened to me. We all know that I can't change a tire...

So in spite of my techno-failure, I kept on going. For the most part, the path was clear except for a few snowy patches, and there were very few people on the path. I passed a runner twice, and the second time, he was eating a snack, so I stopped to talk with him. He told me he's training for the Wisconsin marathon. We talked running and races. Aren't all runners just friends we haven't met yet? He wanted me to send him the name of my blog but since my phone was dead, I couldn't. Hopefully, you've found me, Mike!

After that, I headed home. Even though at that point I had the wind at my back, my hands and feet were numb, and I had had enough of the cool temps. When I got home, I took off my cleats and my feet were white. I couldn't feel them. A half hour and a warm shower later, I'm all toasty warm again. My phone is charged. That was the craziest. I have to figure out what went wrong. Even though I don't have a selfie to share, I've ridden this route enough to know how far I rode. 30+ miles/approx 2 hours.

The bike really is the best backup plan!

How was your week? Any training fails? Crazy weather?

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!

Friday, March 4, 2016

5 Fun Facts about Running that You May Not Have Known #YakTrax

Race preparation is in full swing, and I'm always looking for an edge in my performance. Of course, who isn't? It's always fun and interesting to see what everyone thinks will make them perform better on the road. Being a science geek, I'm all about the research behind the information, and I've had a little bit of fun reviewing the latest data. I thought I'd share some of my findings with you!

5 Fun Facts About Running that You May not Have Known

So did you know....

Strength Training can make you faster:

Of course, you knew this. My n=1 (me-so unscientific) could tell you this is true. But while anecdotes make for great stories, I like to rely on research when making training decisions. This review of multiple studies of strength training and running found overwhelmingly that strength training makes runners faster. In all the studies, the runners trained for 8-12 weeks, 2-3 days on average. The weight regimens varied but were mostly low volume, low repetitions. This comes as no surprise to me. But now we have proof that it's a thing.

5 Fun Facts about Running that you May Not Have Known

What are the best running shoes? Minimalist or maximalist? Motion control?

How about the shoes that feel the best? Seriously? A large retrospective study found that the best shoes for runners were not always the ones you would think. Pronators didn't need motion control shoes. Trying to "fix" a runner's gait with shoes often led to injuries. The researchers suggested that runners try on several different pairs of shoes, run in them in the store, and buy the ones that were the most comfortable. Do what feels good.

As far as type of shoes--minimalist vs maximalist, there is no definitive data to date. But I found this amazing review from Harvard University which analyzes all things foot strike.  Barefoot runners land on their forefoot, while "shod" runners (wearing shoes) mostly heel strike. And the answer to that ever present question: is heel striking bad? No! Good news for this heel striker. If you desire more information on this topic, chase the link. And the Gait Guys-yep, they have a blog--analyze the potential impact of Hoka, the most maximal shoes around. What do they say? It's all theoretical, but they are concerned that the Hokas make a runner land harder. Just because they can. Stay tuned.

Me, I'll just stick to my super cushy but not over the top Asics Gel Nimbus. Since I'm a born heel striker, they cushion my landing. They've brought me lots of good miles over the years. If it feels good, do it, right?

5 Fun Facts About Running That You May Not Have Known

Oh and by the way, in case you were wondering...what are the most popular shoes? Nike, followed by Brooks, Adidas, and Asics. Just do it.

The best fuel for the long run? It's still out for debate.

I was thrilled this week to find out that I was chosen to represent my favorite long distance fuel, Tailwind Nutrition. This fuel has been used with great success by ultramarathoners, and I figured if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me. Tailwind has been a recipe for success, at least for this runner. I have a ton of tummy issues and have struggled with fueling over the years. Tailwind is a liquid fuel, and it is the first fuel I've used that hasn't sent me running to the portapotty. The company motto is, after all, "no gut bombs".

The use of carbohydrates to fuel during an endurance event and their effectiveness has been well studied. So what's new in the world of endurance fuel?

Everyone's looking for an edge. Right now, they're looking at protein.

There's been plenty of evidence to support the use of protein for recovery. This large systematic review found overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that protein following an endurance workout benefits muscle anabolism, which may lead to improved recovery of muscle function and performance. But what about during an endurance event? Should we take protein along with our carbs? The results have been mixed, and since protein has to be digested, it's probably best for those of us with tummy issues to stick to our simple carbohydrates.

Remember, there is no magic fuel, no matter what you hear. There are a ton of options out there, and every manufacturer wants you to believe that their fuel will make you run faster, farther, and even avoid the wall. Find the fuel that works best for you. Make sure you road test your fuel choices on your long runs. Don't be "that" runner...

5 Fun Facts About Running That You May Not Have Known

Heat Training is a simple as taking a hot bath after a run.

Last year, as I was preparing for the Sarasota Half Marathon, I started doing "heat training". I knew from past experience that running a race in Florida in March was going to be a huge challenge coming from the polar vortex I had been running in all winter. So to simulate running in warm conditions, I ran on my treadmill wearing heavy sweats and a hat. No fan. Let me tell you how much it sucked. But as the weeks went on, I developed tolerance to those runs and got faster. I never was able to try out my training, as I had to defer that race to this year. But I did run a local half that ended up being a PR for me.

Turns out I was onto something.

Besides running in heavy clothing on the treadmill, what else is there for a runner to do to prep for a warm climate race? If only I had a sauna...but I don't. I do have a bathtub! And as it turns out, researchers have been looking at hot baths as a way to acclimate to the heat. This 6 day study looked at runners who took a 40 minute hot bath after a 40 minute run in temperate conditions. The runners ran 5% faster in hot conditions, but no faster in temperate conditions. Still, it would be worth a try! Who doesn't like a hot bath? I wonder if my husband would install a hot tub on our deck? For heat acclimation purposes..

This year I haven't been doing heat training to prepare for that Florida race (which is in about a week). I'm training for my full marathon and haven't been doing treadmill runs. Shame on me. But my focus has really been on my marathon. This Florida half is just a training run. At least that's what I keep telling myself. Pretty sure I'm going to be humbled by that Florida heat and humidity. Been there, done that.

Oh, and by the way, heat isn't the only devil. In my research for this post, I also learned that ice baths may interfere with training gains. Researchers examined strength and inflammatory markers in subjects who took ice baths after a strength workout. Interestingly, subjects did worse on performance after the ice bath; inflammatory markers (which are an indication of tissue damage and are elevated after a workout) were still elevated after the ice baths. The perfect excuse for me not to submerge myself in ice.

Running in the cold

The ideal temp for running is 52F. Right now, that sounds downright balmy to me. While we've not spent much time in the polar vortex this winter, it has been seasonally chilly. Why does running in the bitter cold feel as hard as running in 90F? Maybe I tend not to fuel properly in cold weather runs. The cold temps give the illusion that my effort isn't as hard--I'm not sweating as much. According to this article on Runners Academy, once the outside temperature drops below 32F, you start to see an impact on your pace. This is due to a variety of factors, and bottom line, runners need to pay as much attention to fueling and hydration as they do in the heat. Dressing warmly is a good idea too!

5 Fun Facts About Running That You May Not Have Known

While we are on the subject of cold weather running, I want to talk about running safely when the conditions are less than ideal. You all know I run outdoors no matter what the conditions. So when YakTrax contacted me to review their latest model, I was all over it. I've run with YakTrax for many years with great success. I couldn't wait to test the new model. But there was one issue. We've had little to no snow this winter. The last time I ran in my old pair of YakTrax was November, when we got that foot of snow. I was a little nervous about agreeing to trial these because I didn't know if the weather would cooperate!

Anyways, even though the groundhog said winter was over, we all know that Mother Nature is a fickle beast. She's teased us with some really warm days, but we've also gotten a bit of snow this past week. I was glad simply because I wanted to put my new Yak Trax to the test. These were an upgrade from my previous pairs (I've owned 2 pairs prior to this). Like the YakTrax I've used in the past, they slip over my shoes, and stay put with a velcro strap across my forefoot. This model has a strap that attaches to the toe piece, and that gave them a little extra security. I ran in about an inch or 2 of crusty snow and felt very confident that I wouldn't slip. My pace was a little slower than it would have been without the YakTrax, but that is to be expected since the YakTrax do make your shoes a little stiffer.

Running on snow with the YakTrax is much easier on your legs than running on the pavement. Obviously, they aren't intended for use on dry pavement but when I'm running in the neighborhood, it can't be avoided completely. In the past when I've run with my YakTrax, I've found that I'm more sore than when I run in just my shoes. The other comment I have is that the old YakTrax did not completely prevent you from slipping on ice. The old model just had coils and when I ran in those, I did have some wipe outs on black ice. This model has spikes on them, which is new. Hopefully, the spikes will give the runner a little more traction in icy conditions. I didn't have any slippage on my test run.

I highly recommend YakTrax if you like to run or walk outside and have to contend with snow. I love this product. But I hope this is the last time this season that I have to use them!

5 Fun Facts About Running That you May Not Have Known

YakTrax sent me a pair in exchange for my unbiased review.

What new things have you recently learned that has benefited your running? What's your favorite fuel? Is your pace affected by temperature extremes? Shoes--minimal, maximal, or moderate?

I'm linking up with the Friday Five aka the DC Trifecta: Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Running Serendipitously


It's a million dollar word. Luck. Unexpected pleasures. Good fortune. Dodging a bullet. Finding a silver lining. Dumb luck. A happy accident. Whatever serendipity means to you, these happenstances are the moments that you savor. There is nothing better than having something wonderful happen to you when you least expect it. What a happy word for this week's Wednesday Word prompt!

Serendipity is reading the signs.

A few years ago, my employer sponsored an Instagram contest to win a free entry into the Chicago Marathon. This was a race I ran 3 years before, crashed and burned, and vowed never to run again. I viewed the contest as a sign as a chance to redeem myself. If I won an entry, I promised myself I'd run the race I knew I had in me. I found out 14 weeks before the race that I was a winner. My coach didn't blink an eye, shifted gears with my training, and trained me for a huge PR.

Kind of a segue from the last post...
Sometimes the signs aren't as obvious as this one...but I took advantage of their offer and used their bathroom...
"I think we make our own decisions. I just think that fate sends us little signs, and it's how we read the signs that determines whether we're happy or not." -John Cusack in Serendipity
Serendipity is knowledge that you dodged a bullet.

Finding my coach? That happened because I listened to my gut and walked away from an unsettling interview with a running coach. The running coach came highly recommended to me, but as we talked it was clear that her philosophy of training did not coincide with mine. That instinct to keep looking sent me to my friends who own the local CrossFit box, who introduced me to the amazing Becky, who kept me running but worked on my foundation. And put some youth back into these aging legs. She also made my training a ton of fun and threw some confidence my way.

This is marathon training. Yep.
"Sometimes you gotta say 'what the f**k'. Make your move."- Tom Cruise in Risky Business
Serendipity could mean finding a silver lining in an unfortunate situation.

One year ago I was all set to head to Florida to run the Sarasota Half Marathon. My oldest son decided to get himself in some trouble, and I knew I couldn't leave. Sad but determined, I found a local half marathon scheduled on the same day as the Florida race and signed up. Not only did I have a fun day with my friend Sara, I crushed the race, setting a new PR for myself and finishing 2d place in my AG. I would never have run this race otherwise. Since the Sarasota RD let me defer my entry, I'm heading down to Florida next week to finally run this race that has been on my bucket list for several years.

Silver lining on a rainy day? Having the whole lake path to myself.
"You have to do everything you can. You have to work your hardest and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining."- Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
Serendipity is luck. Sometimes dumb luck. Maybe you just stumble into good fortune. Literally. 

I joke that I live life by the seat of my pants and follow my gut. I've never been much of a planner because it seems like when I do make plans, things don't generally turn out as I hoped. With the exception of marathons, I don't usually commit far in advance to races for fear of injury or life situations. That half marathon I ran last fall is a perfect example. I signed up the week of the race with no expectations. I just wanted to run. While I wouldn't recommend deciding on a long distance race at the last minute, I was banking on some residual fitness from my Chicago Marathon training. This was my second fastest half marathon ever. I felt so good, I was smiling almost the entire race.

At the finish line. Look at that smile!
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."-Woody Allen
Serendipity is a happy accident.

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don't understand those reasons. But things always seem to work out for the best. I was so disappointed that I couldn't connect with any of the myriad of friends I knew were running last fall's Chicago Marathon. The logistics at such a big race are crazy! So even though there were tons of people there, I didn't see anyone I knew. I finished up the race, sat down to drink my post-race beer and savor a great race. I received a text from my oldest son, who was there looking for me. Completely unexpected. How lucky is that?

"There are no mistakes, just happy accidents."- Bob Ross, artist
What does serendipity mean to you? Do you consider yourself a lucky person? Unlucky?

I'm linking up with DebRuns and her Wednesday Word blog prompt. This one was a bit of a challenge! I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else says. What a great word!