October 30, 2012

Taper crazies and Halloween madnesses

Ahhhhhhhh! That's what I feel like inside from tapering. Every time this happens before a big goal race, I go crazy. Then later I forget that I went crazy and think people are making up that stuff about going nutballs during their race taper. Well it's happening again. I'm crazed out about traveling, packing, eating, sleeping, and more eating.

Also I'm so paranoid about my body suddenly falling apart, like the wicked witch melts with a drop of water.

Yesterday, I was walking into a store with three little toddlers, all holding hands in a row. Guess what toddlers holding hands in a row do? Clue: it's not walk in a straight line. They twist and turn and dip and twist more. Their silly walks pulled me in a bunch of different directions at once, and I twisted my foot and caused a sharp pain that lasted the whole time I was in the store. So with every step in the store I'm freaking out and absolutely positive that I won't be able to race on Saturday. And now, here I sit, with a perfectly fine foot. The pain went away as quickly as it appeared, and I now realize that I am in full taper hypochondriac mode.

Does anyone else get this? Every flicker of pain, heart flutter, or tense muscle becomes an insurmountable problem (for at least ten minutes), even though you know you lived through that and much worse during training. Which training, by the way, was during the hottest, most humid months of the year. I think I can handle walking into the store during taper week. Or can I?

Also freaking me out is that the temps on weather.com keep creeping higher and higher for Saturday.

I love the 0% chance of rain part, but those temps are not ideal. In my dream world, we would finish before the temps hit 70. Definitely wearing a tank and shorts. I thought I would have to bust out my arm warmers to wear for part of the time, but I think that will be completely unnecessary. 

To get my mind off of taper madness, I decided to actually dress up for Halloween this year. Can you guess who I'm going to be? 

This is a wrinkled preview of the final version. In the final version, my hair is also slightly poofier. 

I originally wanted to copy That Pink Girl's awesome costume, but I couldn't find a good ole USA sweatshirt. Where's the patriotism in this country when you can't find multiple tattered USA sweatshirts at the thrift store?!

After my last post about kefir water and brewer's yeast, the most common response was, "What the brewer's yeast?" Which I will now start saying instead of "what the heck" or "what the h," my two favorite expletives. 

Here's a link to some info on brewer's yeast. But basically it's a flaky powder (made from a one-celled fungus), like the consistency of nutritional yeast, that has tons of B vitamins. It also has a load of minerals, most especially chromium. Nutritional yeast is low in chromium vs. brewer's yeast is high in chromium. 

Here's some more info from the University of Maryland Medical Center link above:
Brewer's yeast is often used as a source of B-complex vitamins, chromium, and selenium. The B-complex vitamins in brewer's yeast include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), and H or B7 (biotin). These vitamins help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which provide the body with energy. They also support the nervous system, help maintain the muscles used for digestion, and keep skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver healthy.
But it doesn't have B12, so it isn't a meat/dairy substitute if you are vegetarian. 

There were lots of sites that raved about it as a wonder supplement, but I tried to link you to one that wasn't selling brewer's yeast and gives a neutral overview. 

And like I said yesterday, I mix a scoop with orange juice and drink it and love it. I'm absolutely positive it is an acquired taste, but if you ever try it, you'll have to let me know how you liked (or hated) it. 

What are your Halloween plans? Dressing up? My husband and I have coordinated (non)costumes. This is our first year of 12 years of marriage to ever coordinate Halloween costumes. 

Did you guess what our costumes are going to be? 

What freaks you out the most during the week before a big race?

October 29, 2012

Can we move Halloween to next week?

For my friend running the New York Marathon, the alternate post title is "Can we move this hurricane to next week?"

Workout wrap-up

Monday: spin class in the morning, yoga class in the evening
Tuesday: 4 miles, 38:10. Still feeling tired from Saturday's race, so I decided to keep it easy.
Wednesday: 6 miles -- 2@6.3mph, 3@8.1mph, 1@6.3mph. This was my scheduled tempo run for the week.
Thursday: myofascial release appointment
Friday: 5.5 miles of hills, 46:54
Saturday: 10 miles, 1:27
Sunday: rest day

Somehow I managed to stick with my goal of not doing speed the week after a race. It makes sense when I say to myself that I shouldn't do it, but when it comes down to seeing it on the schedule and skipping it, it's harder to follow through. My training has been off the last few weeks since my injury, so my speed work has suffered the most. I originally hurt my foot during speed work, so I skipped it a couple of times to not risk reinjuring my foot. The I skipped it a couple of times because I raced and know that I typically get injured if I try to do speed work the week following a race. So I know that all of the reasons for skipping are founded in solid ideas that will get me to the start line with a healthy and working foot. But again, to see it on my schedule and intentionally skip it does not boost my confidence for my upcoming race.

Then on Saturday I ran slower than I was supposed to. Not sure why, I was just kind of following the pace of the group, hating the hills, and not really caring if I pushed it up to 8:12/mile, which is what I was supposed to be shooting for. Also, it probably didn't help that I did 5.5 miles of intense hills the day before this run. So, again, an overall not super confidence boosting training week.

So fast-forwarding to today, I had a successful (but short!) speed session this morning. My schedule called for a short set of six .25-mile sprints for this last week of the taper, and I completed it with my foot still functioning! So now I feel happy that I am back to being able to do the prescribed speed work, even if it's the last one of the schedule. I'll still take it as a good indicator.

Now I just need to get on a decent eating plan. It doesn't help when your friends are all Martha Stewart and bring you special Halloween deliveries.

Both in one night.

How can I combat Martha? This weekend I brought out the heavy artillery. First up, kefir water, which I am slowly trying to learn how to make with the help of my sister and sister-in-law.

Brewer's yeast? Yes, please. For some reason I like the taste of brewer's yeast mixed with orange juice. Probably because when I was little my mom used to pay me a dollar every time I drank a cup of it. My kids barely get a dollar from the tooth fairy, much less to drink something. Maybe I need to consider a change of strategy because I realize now that my mom's plan totally worked. 

This is a photo of the fine line between happy and insane. Brewer's yeast at 10 p.m. does that to a person. That kitchen light is awesome for taking self portraits. Noted. 

My other plan for this week is to forget that it's Halloween and hide all the candy until after this weekend. It's hard to forget Halloween when a wigged globe is announcing it to the world. For some reason, this globe has been the highlight of my Halloween and the best use of that wig ever. 

It's also hard to forget Halloween because of the masterfully carved pumpkins hanging out on our front porch. 

Still, I try.

Other things I want to do on this final week before the race.

  • Drink my new tart cherry juice concentrate, mixed with lots and lots of water. My latest combo is a tablespoon of concentrate in my biggest cup of water with a splash of white grape juice.
  • Eat zero chips. They just make me crave other please-don't-eat-me-before-a-race foods, like Martha's cupcakes above.
  • Freely take naps this week. If you follow that link, it will tell you why naps are amazing. No one had to scientifically research that or write it out for me to know it's true. Some things you just know.

When was the last time you took a nap? Usually I take a nap every Sunday, but I missed mine yesterday because I was too busy eating those cookies.

Have you ever tried brewer's yeast? 

What about kefir? 

October 27, 2012

Thanks, universe!

Today I'm feeling thankful. It all started with the cool weather for our morning run. For a minute it was almost too cold, but then I remembered every other long run of this training cycle and how miserably hot and humid they were. Nope, now that I think about it, not too cold. Today's weather was perfect for running!

Here's what else is making me feel thankful. Not in order of importance. Except the first one is definitely the most important.

Thankful that Facebook knows me so well that I found this gold nugget in my sidebar today.

Thankful that my daughter exists.

Thankful for Halloween decorations -- this scrub brush is one of my favorites. Yes, I consider themed cleaning products decorations. 

Thankful that I got some new kicks from Alabama Outdoors. Now I just need to finish up this road racing stuff so I can test them on the trails.

Thankful for cousins who live in the same town.

Thankful that my son just discovered a love for Choose Your Own Adventure books. 

Thankful that it only took me a week to finish my box of Joe Joe's, so now I can get back on the good eating wagon for my race this weekend. No, I didn't share.

What are you feeling thankful for today? 

What treat do you hide from your kids? Pretty much all of them. My poor kids.

What's your best Halloween decoration? The scrub brush is tied with the long purple wig we put on our globe.

October 26, 2012

Looking back and Autism Speaks

Excuse me while I live in the past for the next couple of days. I'm making photo books (have to redeem a Groupon ASAP) for the kids, so I'm scanning through the last year and a half of memories. 

Last summer I drove from Alabama to Utah to California with just me and the kiddos, plus or minus a few passengers (relatives not hitchhikers) along the way. 

I forget how gorgeous Utah is with the mountains and the red rock and the Great Salt Lake. The mountains are so giant and wondrous compared to Alabama mountains, and you can actually see them because they aren't camouflaged in trees. 

We stopped for a wedding and took picture taking very seriously. 

And I forced my kids to tour my college campus at somewhere close to 10 p.m. because that's when we were driving through. Not weird at all. You can imagine how enthralled they were. Empty, creepy buildings at night -- thanks, mom. Parenting at its finest, and kids at their bored-est. 

 We visited cousins who we rarely get to see.

Potential best friend cousins. If only we lived closer. 

We healed all of our ailments in the Great Salt Lake. My daughter had a horrible case of poison ivy that disappeared that day. Thank you, salt and minerals of the earth. 

Then we scooted to California to hang out with more family. 

Did I mention they have talents?

Below is my sister sharing one of her for real talents. She carries a wooden board with her wherever she goes in case she needs to bust out a flat foot.

My main talent is finding the most unfamous people on the Walk of Fame

And (fast forward to today) buying food in bulk. 

And talking friends into trying weird herby drinks (that make them want to vomit).

And taking blog self portraits while running. 

Those two ladies to my right are my ace gym running partners. They make marathon training at the gym much (!!!) less boring. The blonde in the blue shirt is Diane, and she's running the New York marathon for Autism Speaks

Her awesome son Jack has autism and is her inspiration for running this marathon. She is not only running a heck of a lot of miles but also raising money to help fund more autism research.

Here are some of the facts. Autism prevalence is 1 in 88 births, and it is the fastest-growing developmental disability with a 1,148% growth rate. That number is just crazy to me. Although it is more prevalent than other pediatric illnesses, it receives much less private funding. The following is from the Autism Speaks site:
Prevalence vs. Private Funding
  • Leukemia: Affects 1 in 1,200 / Funding: $277 million
  • Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 100,000 / Funding: $162 million
  • Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 300 / Funding: $394 million
  • Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $156 million
  • Autism: Affects 1 in 88 / Funding: $79 million
Diane is only $300 away from her goal of raising $5,000, and she has one week left to get there. Let's help her reach her goal and help fund research dedicated to the cause, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism. 

Do you know someone with autism? 

Have you ever run to raise money for a charitable organization?

October 24, 2012

Go Commando Half Marathon, October 20, 2012

Expo: We stopped by the expo on our way back to Alabama on Friday morning. It was held in what looked like a brand new building.

The building had this cool runner art out front. Very fitting for a race expo!

There were several rows of booths to browse, and many were giving out trinkets, including free bottles of 5-hour Energy at one of the booths.

The race committee was giving out free Go Commando posters. I love their new slogan. "Go Commando. Shoes required." It's pretty much the twins' motto, except for the shoes part. 

It took zero minutes to pick up my packet and race swag -- just walk up and grab it. All of the volunteers were very polite and efficient, and they even had me double check to make sure my shorts would fit OK. I loved that! How many times have you walked away from a booth to then realize that the swag doesn't fit? Mostly I never go back to ask to swap.

Carb loading: There was probably a negative need to carb load after my week of cupcakes for breakfast and one meal per hour in Chicago. But what good is a race if you can't carb load? None. So I did.

I thought I ordered the large sandwich. Yes, that is a standard-sized take-out box. 

But that sandwich was not the only inspirational thing at Schlotzsky's that day. 

If my dreams could be airbrushed on the back of a truck, they would look just like this. Sparkle letters and all. 

Travel and parking: After driving back from Chicago and spending five minutes hugging kids and repacking, I headed back up to Kentucky to spend the night before the race. Clarksville is an hour and a half away from my in-laws' farm, so I left at 5:30 a.m. to head to the start line.

Getting ready the night before the race.
There was no traffic at all, and once you got to Clarksville, parking was a breeze. I parked in some free street parking a block down from the parking lot they advised us to use. The recommended lot was getting pretty full, so that's why I made the switch to some other parking I had seen on my drive through town. There were plenty of free parking options. 

Pre-race vibe: My first order of business after parking was to bolt to the nearest bush or port-o-potty. At about 30 minutes until race start, the toilet lines were kind of long.

That just means time for more pictures. This one was not even posed. That's just my usual port-o-potty stance.

I waited about 15 minutes to use one of them, which fortunately left plenty of time to head to the start two steps away. The start line this year was on Riverside Dr., which is a wide road aptly named being right beside the beautiful river and all. People at the race were typical Tennessee friendly, and I made conversation with people in the potty line and at the start line.

Milling at the start line.

And I even met some blog readers!

Me, Veronica, Kathryn

If I remember correctly, this was Veronica's second half marathon and Kathryn's first race ever!

Steve, Yo Momma

And Steve dominated his first half marathon. He was going for sub 2, but instead got 1:48. I saw him again at the turn-around, and he was smiling and had enough energy for a high five. Always a good sign!

The race: This was another slow starter for me. I couldn't actually see the start line where I was standing, but I think it was too far up. I should have positioned myself better, so from the take-off, I had a lot of weaving to do. I may have almost run over a small child or two as I was trying to pass on the left. Sorry, little adorable Clarksville children.

I expected more hills in the start of this race than the finish, but they were pretty even throughout. Meaning, there were hills throughout the course.

There was one stretch of flat in the middle and at the end, which oddly felt harder than the hills. Maybe there was something about running flat after running hills that felt weird on the legs. It's also possible that it was the wind that made it feel hard. There weren't as many trees to block wind on the flat segments along the river. Not sure what it was, but it felt like the flats went on forever. At least with the hills, there was something to attack. This race almost made me a hill lover. Almost.

Also part of the course was an out and back. From mile 4 to the end, you run over the river and into the countryside (or over the river and through the woods, if you're into Christmas), and then you turn around and run back to the finish. I thought I wouldn't like that we doubled back, but I didn't mind it. The area that we doubled was beautiful, and it was nice to see some familiar faces (from when you met them five minutes earlier) on the home stretch to the finish line.

The police men and women who helped direct traffic were really amazing. They had our backs the entire time. Once I saw a car try to pull into the path of runners, and the police officer standing there was not happy about it at all and gave the driver the what for. Also the water stops were every couple of miles and felt perfectly spaced for the nice cool weather that day.

Oh, the weather. I could write a love song to the weather because it made my heart sing. It was chilly enough for a light jacket before the start but perfect in a tank and shorts once you started running. There was just that bit of wind to contend with, but no rain or blazing sun. Weather, I loved you, but not in a creepy Bella-Edward way.

Because this race is near Ft. Campbell, you see a lot of military people representing. This year, one of my favorites was Marc Dibernardo, a US Army staff sergeant, running in full gear. I can only imagine the thoughts that kept him moving forward under all that extra weight.

He was even nice enough to lean in for my picture. Not easy to multitask with running in full gear. 

And here he is at the finish. Could someone please get him two chocolate milks? He earned it. 

But he isn't just running to look tough, though he totally does. In an interview (full interview here), he said, "Folks always come up to me and ask me why I race the way I do. That simple question opens the door for me to talk about my causes. If I can make just a couple of folks at each race aware of how they can help or assist [veterans], then the sweat and effort is completely worth it." If you want to help, check out Team RWB.

Some other cool finishers were the gas mask wearers. One finished without taking it off.

Even though this next guy took his mask off at some point, I'm still impressed that he carried it and that pack the whole way. And for the record, I couldn't wear the mask for five seconds standing still, unless there was an actual emergency. Add claustrophobia to my list of disorders. 

Now this next one is my kind of finish. Run while carrying a toddler (or twin toddlers) -- that I can do and have practiced many times. This guy makes me think I should take my talent to the race course. 

They also announced at the finish line that 50 soldiers in Afghanistan were shadowing our race that day. 

This race is like a mini MCM for me, but without as many marines and with way more underwear jokes. But seriously, I love the military representation at this race, and every year, there is some point when I tear up during or after the race because of the military folks.  

My race: This race was a confidence builder for me. Because of my recent injury, I wanted to test my foot to make sure I could hit speeds that I needed to without falling apart. So even though I had at one point decided just to enjoy this race, I then changed my strategy to a racing one. It also helped that I had a lot of foot resting in Chicago the week prior to the race, which helped me justify taking it a little bit faster. 

My splits ended up looking kind of insane. 

Miles 1 and 5 were the only ones that looked like I wanted them to look. The rest were a little all over the place, but with hills, I let go of having even splits. Mile 4 had a lot of downhill, which I don't mind running faster. The total mileage being high tells me that I need to be careful of placement in Savannah. I really need to get in the right position from the start so that I don't have to do all of that weaving. I want to just be able to stay on pace from the beginning. Sometimes that's easier with corral starts, but not always. I just want to waste zero energy on that day. 

And my left foot felt a little sore after the race. It didn't help that I had to drive a stick shift all the way back to Alabama, but once I got out of the car and iced, my foot was back to normal again. 

The greatest part was that I was not extremely (muscle) sore after this race, so even though I felt like I worked hard, my soreness levels tells me that I could have pushed even harder. It's fine with me that I didn't take it to my edge, and I'm happy to know that I can still move fast (for me) and not fall apart.

Post race: After the finish I had a hard time finding all of the snacks. Eventually I asked someone carrying a banana, and they told me to keep walking to find the snacks. It was a bit of a haul down the river walk to the finish-line party, and by the time I found my way down, they were out of chocolate milk. I might have cried. But there were other delicious foods to make up for it. I love that they made us little plates of food, so that we didn't have to reach down into a vat of orange slices with our grubby snot wiping hands to pull some out. 

I also got to hang out for a minute with Brian (who won the Go Commando entry giveaway) and Annie. They finished the race together (like with matching strides) with a strong sub-2 finish. They didn't even look tired at the end!

My favorite part of the post-race party was definitely the free massages, which they called post-race stretches. Whatever you call it, I loved it. 

I was waiting around to see the results because they had cool jackets for people who won awards. But there was a glitch with the timing chips. With a 1:43:21 finish time, the preliminary results had me at first in my age group and 43rd overall. If I look on the site now, I'm still listed as first in my age group but 54th overall. So it looks like some people didn't register as they came over the finish line. Luckily my time registered from the start. 

On that day, the race director made the executive decision to wait and send out awards when they were finished verifying all of the finish times. I was a little bummed because I was cold and wanted a jacket, but I understand that they wanted to double-check everything, which they said they could do with all of the finish-line photos. 

So no awards ceremony by the river that day. But because I waited, I got to see our friend Steven who did the 5K that morning. 

To all the people I made stand next to me in photos, sorry about the extreme salty temples. Maybe next year I can take my bathroom sink shower before the afterparty. 

Yes, in that picture I am wearing my throw-away jacket that I found in the exact spot I left it at the start line -- an added benefit of a small race where you park close to the start/finish line. And an added benefit of an ugly jacket that no one wants to steal. 

Because all of my race self portraits are chin (or ears) up, here's the race-day ensemble for the two (would be three if my mom had the internets) of you who are interested in seeing that. 

Oiselle team tank, Oiselle Bum Wrap skirt,
Pro Compression orange socksPunkee Love adjustable sparkle headband

Race swag: This year, they gave out black shorts (called ranger panties), which I might actually wear. I made sure to get a bigger (i.e. longer) pair of shorts this year.

Dog tag-ish medals.

More swag. I love the "I Go Commando in Clarksville, TN" window cling. Probably going on the front window of my house. There was also a day pass to the Y, which I probably should have used for a shower.

But I need your help. See that circle with a dip in it in the middle. It is kind of sticky and rubbery. What the heck is it supposed to be? Seems like it must have a purpose, but it's too small for a coaster and too weirdly shaped to not be something specific. What do you think it is? It's advertising LegalShield if that helps (it helps me zero). 

My son voted the paper/foam airplane the best swag I've ever received.

Overall: I love the military aspect of this race! It's always inspiring to see the military people who come out and run fast while wearing full gear and gas masks. And they aren't just running to prove how awesome they are (which they are pretty dang awesome) but to honor other soldiers. I also love that the race has a gorgeous backdrop of the river and the mountains/hills. The new route this year was much better than last year as far as logistics of maneuvering people from the start and onto the course. I also appreciated running the streets of downtown (cool to see if you are from out of town) and the flat finish to the end. There were some hiccups with the timing, but I think the race director made the right call to wait and verify times before handing out awards to people. She promised to send them out this week, so I'll let you know when I receive mine. If you want a smaller race with lots of heart and a gorgeous setting, this one is for you. Also if you want to honor someone who serves/served our country with your run, this is a great place to feel right at home.

Disclaimer: Go Commando provided a free race entry for Yo Momma Runs. I received no other compensation, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.