Jul 29, 2011

Five Things "I am thankful for" Friday

As I was driving into work this morning I started thinking of a few things, in no particular order, that I am really excited about and thankful for so I am going to share them with you now.... so listen up!
1) I am thankful for and feel so very lucky to have a job!  So many people are out of work and losing their homes so whenever I feel ungrateful I have to remind myself of this! I love my job, my boss, my staff and all of the other people that I work with.  My boss is great because he gave me a chance to get into local government when nobody else would!  He doesn't micromanage, he allows me to  have a flexible work schedule and he leaves me alone and lets me get my job done.  I have great benefits and I love the city that I work for!  I could not ask for a better job, a better boss, or a better group of people to work with.  
2) I am also excited that my Dad is responding well to his chemotherapy.  He is getting better and his test results have been coming back really positive.  I have a new respect for my Dad because he fights so hard and wants no sympathy whatsoever!  He goes to work everyday and if you didn't know my Dad, you would never think that he is battling cancer.  I LOVE YOU DADDY!
3) I have working on my MPA (Master of Public Administration) for quite some time now.  I never really had a plan to earn a Master's degree but since my job offers tuition reimbursement I figured I should take full advantage of it. (One more reason why I love my job.)  A few things have occurred in my life that have stopped me from completing the program (running/training being one of them) and honestly, I just really didn't feel like doing a thesis, which is the last thing that I need to earn this darn degree! Let me just toot my own horn real quick here (toot toot) and tell everyone that my GPA is 3.85! I got a B in one really boring Administrative Law course that really screwed up my GPA. Oh well, life goes on and I guess I will never be a lawyer in my next life! Anyway, here is what I am excited about...I just found out that taking an exam will now be an option to earning my MPA!  So heck yeah I will be enrolling in that that class in the winter quarter and will have my degree in March 2012!  HOORAY!!...Finally!!
4) I am also happy to announce that I am back in the 100 Mile Club as of yesterday!  I have 100 miles on the books and I still have a 16-mile run scheduled for tomorrow so I will close out the month of July with 116 miles!  I haven't logged this many miles since January 2011, so I am pretty excited about it! While I am on the topic of running, I also want to toot my own horn one more time (toot toot) and tell everyone that I ran three consecutive days, which is really tough for me.  Here is what I did:

Tuesday: 6 Miles at 8:43
Wednesday: 6 Miles at 8:28
Thursday: 4 Miles at 8:32

Not only is it tough for me to do but my shins don't appreciate it!  My new compression sleeves have been helping me out so much and now I don't feel so bad about spending $80 on them!
5) This last thing I am thankful for sounds a little corny or kind of scripted but it's the truth, so I have to tell everyone about it anyway! I am thankful for being healthy and I am thankful for my family, which includes my two Pomeranians that I love to death! My family always has some kind of drama/chaos going on and somebody is always on the outs with someone, but at the end of the day I love them all and I am happy to be a part of this dysfunctional family.  Hey, no family is perfect and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So what are you thankful for today?  Think about it and share. I am sure you have lots of thankful for! 

Jul 26, 2011

110% Play Harder

So I finally received my new compression sleeves in the mail. Yippee!! I was so impressed by the fancy packaging and was excited to find out what these compression sleeves were all about!
Back View
Front View

So I opened them up and pulled everything out of the silver bag and started reading all about these compression sleeves.  It turns out that the nice insulated silver bag is to carry the ice inserts with you to keep them cold.  I was pretty wow'd by this and it is pretty hard to wow me!  

The ice inserts are shipped to you completely flat and require you to run them under warm water to allow them to expand. Once they expand about 1/2 inch, they are ready for the freezer.

So to make a long story short, I went for a 6 miles run in the compression sleeves this morning.  They have 50% more spandex than most compression sleeves so they did fit much tighter than my Zensah's do.  They were comfortable and felt like they kept everything together!  These sleeves are actually doubled layered so the ice inserts sit in between the two layers of spandex. After my run, I slipped the ice inserts right into the sleeves and let the cold take over. Ahhhh!! There is nothing like a bag of ice directly on your shins but these inserts are great.  The slots on the sleeves allow the ice to wrap around the bottom of your legs 360 degrees so you can ice your shins and your calves at the same time. The ice inserts can also be cut to the size that you need them as well. The best thing about these compression sleeves is the convenience.  I finally have a solution to icing at work! I am excited!!

I highly recommend these to anybody who has shin splints or any kind of pain in their legs that requires icing.  They are convenient to use at work or even at home if you don't have time to sit and ice! They cost about $75.00 but are well worth it if you have these nagging injuries like me!

Long Training Run Number 6: NOT!

Weekend Recap
This was a very interesting week as my far as running to say the least.  I didn't run for five consecutive days and no long Sunday run for me either. It was more like a long walk at the House of Mouse. My family and I took a trip to Disneyland on Friday and we walked for hours and hours.  We had a great time and we met Duffy, Russell and Doug and checked out all of the new rides at California Adventure. I also enjoyed the new Mickey's Soundsational Parade while I iced my shins!  
Duffy the Disney Bear
Up is one of our favorite movies!
 Yes, I iced my shins at Disneyland....
The plan was to run 15 miles on Sunday but of course it did not happen due to my shin splints.  I promised myself that as long as I felt pain, I would not run and I didn't.  I was starting to feel really irritated and grouchy by Friday due to lack of running so I am glad that the pain went away. I think that my family is glad that I am running again too :) I also made an executive decision to go back to my old Nike Vomero's and be done with it. No more switching shoes, especially in the middle of training! Duh!  I iced like crazy, took Advil and just waited for the pain to go away!  I was pain free on Friday and went for a quick run before visiting Mickey Mouse.
My oldies but goodies!
I basically crammed as much running as I possibly could into a three-day period.  I ran 3 miles on Friday, 8 miles on Saturday and 8 miles on Sunday.  I did not complete my scheduled mileage for the week but I feel lucky to be on the road again. Running three consecutive days for me is pretty difficult.  My pace is not as great and my shins don't appreciate it. I usually run every other day so completing 8 miles for two consecutive days is pretty good for me. I really felt challenged on Sunday to say the least! I was dripping with sweat after my run even after I opted to run on the shadiest side of the street. It was kind of gross but it made me feel like I worked hard!

Oh how I love the shade when I'm lazy!
I am still on track for achieving a 100-mile month so I am really excited about it! I am ending this week with 84 miles on the books.  I am 16 miles short of reaching my goal and I think it's going to happen this month.  Can't wait to see that 100-mile month happen!
 Oh and by the way....my new compression sleeves came yesterday so I am excited to give them a try and see how they work for me.

Jul 21, 2011

My Worst Nightmare....Shin Splints

I am kicking myself in the "you know what" today because my shin splints are back!  It was a stupid decision to try out my new shoes on a 10 mile run!  Only my left shin that had been bothering me, but now it's both!

This was me on Monday, icing my shins to death and hoping that this was all just a dream, or should I say my worst nightmare! (Please excuse the my dogs' pee-pee pad in the background, but I was too lazy to pick it up for the picture!)  I am so irritated with myself because my last post talked about the great week that I had coming up and how close I was was to achieving a hundred mile month. My running buddy, Shawna, was just getting through this and now it is my turn....again! Like I have said before, shin splints are contagious! People tell me all the time that I should do something else beside running, but I am not ready to retire yet. I have too many goals to achieve before I call it quits.

110% Play Harder
I get so frustrated with shin splints because I can't really ice them at work like I need to.  I ice them at night but I don't think that it is good enough.  I was going crazy thinking about the whole icing problem at work and I went on the hunt for a solution. I came across some compression sleeves from 110% Play Harder that have built-in slots for ice sheets.  The thermafreeze packs can be inserted during or after your workout and stay frozen for up to two hours.  They were not cheap ($75.00) but if they help, then they are worth every penny!  I should have them by the end of this week, and once I try them out I will have to let you all know if I recommend them or not.
My First Visit to Road Runner Sports

Shawna and I took a trip to Road Runner Sports during our lunch on Wednesday to see what kind of running shoes "Shoe Dog" would recommend for me. The Nike's that I have been wearing for the longest are classified by Road Runner Sports as "Neutral" shoes so maybe I shouldn't have switched to the ASICS Gel Kayano 17's which are "Stability +" shoes?? I know, I am a mess!

Woof! Meet "Shoe Dog."

Sorry! No photo of me running in my work pants!
I took the "Shoe Dog" test, which required me to run barefoot on a treadmill for 30 seconds while being videotaped from the waist down. The video is then played back in slow motion and analyzed to identify my running style.  My results indicated that a Stability shoe is the best fit for me, so I was happy to know that I did not make too bad of a choice with my new ASICS, which fall into the Stability category.

Shoe Dog's recommendation
Trevor, my kind salesman, made me some custom inserts based on my running style and my arch type.  I found out that I have medium arches, I put most of my weight on my heels and I land on my heels when I run! The inserts were not cheap, but they have a 100% money back guarantee for 30 days! I wasn't obligated to buy them, but I kind of felt bad for Trevor after all of the time that he spent working with me and my feet, so I bought them. Yes, my feet were clean but I did skip my much needed pedicure because of my missing toenail.  I hope he didn't notice it! Trevor also told us that he had a bout with shin splints in the past and he fixed them by using inserts.  Maybe this was just a sales pitch but it's worth a try for me.  He was also telling us about his marathon experiences and the Long Beach Marathon course. He claims that it is not a flat course...great!

I am going to do things right once my shins calm down.  I can't wait to try out the new inserts in my shoes!  Hopefully, "Shoe Dog" got it right and my shins agree with him too!

The One Hundred Push Up Challenge
So for now it looks like I have to spend more time cross training, which I think I kind of hate!  I will now be forced to go to spin class and continue with my stability ball workout at home.  I have to say that since I have started to cross train I have developed a little bit more strength in my arms that I never had before.  Three months ago I couldn't even do a single push up.  Now I can actually do 12 !  Don't laugh!  I am really proud of myself for accomplishing this!! My goal is to be able to do 100 consecutive push ups.  I came across this website onehundredpushups which provides a six week training program on completing 100 consecutive push ups!  First you have to take the initial test and then you follow a six week push up training program based on your fitness level. Now that I can do a few, I think I will try it out to keep myself distracted from my shin splints! How many consecutive push ups can you do? And I mean real push ups...not the "girl" push-ups!

Jul 18, 2011

Long Training Run Number Five: 10.07 Miles

Weather Report: Sunny and 60 degrees

Spirit of the Marathon

Before I even tell you how my run went today, I want to mention that I watched "Spirit of the Marathon" for the first time on Saturday night. I thought it was a pretty cool movie/documentary because you can really relate to it no matter how serious of a runner you are.  It's an interesting story of several runners at different levels of running and how they prepare for and run the Chicago Marathon.  I really liked it because I now realize that I am not the only crazy person in the running world!  These runners say and do the same kinds of things that I do!  If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch it on hulu.  I think you will enjoy it! Let me know what you think of it.

My Run

Today was a 10 mile day but I decided that I really needed to slow things down a bit because my left shin started acting up again!  My goal pace today was 9:00-9:05, which is my goal marathon pace. I really wanted to test myself to see how comfortable I felt with this pace since this is where I would like to be for the Long Beach Marathon in October.  I woke up at 5:30am and the weather was looking good.  The sun had not come out yet but I knew that it would be out soon enough.  I got myself together, fed my dogs, stretched a little bit and headed out the door at 6:15am.  The sun was already starting to rise but the 60 degree temperature balanced it out!

After losing another toenail last week, I decided that it was time to retire my Nike's since they had 386 miles on them.  This past Saturday, I went to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and purchased a pair of ASICS Gel Kayano 17's.  They were on sale for $103.00 and they normally go for $140.00. Great deal, right? Nordstrom has a great return policy so I figured that I could exchange them if they don't work out for me.  I bought them in a wide width to allow my toes that extra needed space!  I get so bummed out when I lose a toenail because it never seems to grow back right and it's just an ugly sight while it's growing back! I decided to try these out on my run today so I am hoping that I have found a new shoe that works for me.

Back to the run....I ran another one of my local routes today and I tried to change things around so that I don't get too bored.  I started out slow and my splits seemed to improve as I got further into my run.

Mile 1: 9:11
Mile 2: 8:50
Mile 3: 8:48
5K: 27:40

The roads were pretty empty again today and I didn't see a single runner or cyclist today.  I am not sure if I was out there too early or too late!  I usually see at least one, but not today!  I made a small detour today and took the freeway overpass to add some incline to my run.  I love looking down on the freeway when I run over it.  It's just kind of fun to me! I think I can technically consider this part of my route to be somewhat of a "hill" because I go up and then I come down.

Mile 4: 8:40
Mile 5: 8:40
Mile 6: 8:46
One Hour Mark: 6.80 Miles

On my way up.....

On my way back....
Mile 7: 8:45
Mile 8: 8:44
Mile 9: 8:32
Mile 10: 7:52 (My best mile.. I always try to finish it strong!)

My goal pace seemed pretty easy today but that's just ten miles and it's the other 16.2 miles that I have to keep working towards!  Next week is a 15 miler and I haven't ran that distance in quite some time, so I am a little nervous about it! 

Garmin Stats

Weekly Running Report

I was scheduled to get 24 miles in this week, but only managed to get 21 done.  My left shin was hurting a little on Friday and I made the decision to skip that run in fear of it getting worse.  I am getting closer to a 100 mile month with 65 miles done so far!  I can't wait for another 100 mile month ..it's  been a while!

Jul 17, 2011

My Top Ten Must-Have Running Items

Here is my list of my must-have running items.  I have only been running for a few years, so some of the items that are must-haves for me, may not be for you.  I guess I should say that I wish that some of my "must have items" were not necessary!

1. Comfortable Running Shoes

A good pair of comfortable running shoes is an absolute must have for all runners.  The best running shops can help you find the best pair of running shoes for you based on different factors such as how many miles you run a week and the type of surface that you run on. Most running stores will also allow you to "test run" the shoes to make sure that they work for you.  It is also a good idea to keep track of the miles that you put on your shoes and replace them every 300-400 to avoid injuries such as shin splints. I personally love the Nike Vomero because I can get them in wider widths to allow for the extra toe room needed to preserve the last few toenails that I have remaining!  It seems like the minute I find a pair of shoes that works out for me, the next model comes out, so it isn’t a bad idea to stock up on your favorite running shoes once you find them!  I am in the market for some new running shoes because I need a change and this left shin splint is killing me!!

2. Garmin GPS Watch

I own the Garmin Forerunner 305 and I absolutely love it and I cannot run without it!  It is the most accurate and useful tool that I have ever come across.  It is a bit bulky, but once you get used to it you won’t even realize that you are wearing it.  I love that I can transfer all of my data to my computer and keep track of my progress and see all of my splits. More sophisticated touch screen models have come out since I bought mine but I will stick with mine until it dies because we go way back!
 3. Vaseline/Body Glide/Trislide

On my shorter runs, I have not found that I need any type of anti-friction protection, but when it comes to running half marathons and beyond I don’t leave home without it.  Vaseline is probably the cheapest way to go and it has always done the job for me.  Body Glide is also effective and comes in a sun protection formula that will protect your body from the sun.  Trislide is an aerosol silicone spray, which aids in all sorts of things such as saddle sores, blisters, chafing, and easy exits from wet suits during triathlons.  Trislide is pretty pricey so I think I will stick to goopy hands full of Vaseline and contaminated gel sticks! 
Love that fancy Vaseline container!
4. Running Belt and Water

I must carry my water with me at all times.  I am big on keeping myself hydrated because I think it makes a difference in my performance.  I recently purchased the RunLite AirStretch belt with two 10.5-ounce water bottles.  I like it because my iPhone fits perfectly in the front pouch and the easy access divided pouch in the front allows me easy access to my ChapStick, which I cannot live without! Those who know me well are familiar with my addiction to ChapStick. Some people prefer the hand held hydration bottles but as long as you have water handy that’s what really matters, especially when the hot summer weather rolls around!
5. Compression Sleeves

Compression Sleeves are a must for me because I have problems with shin splints.  Compression sleeves saved my left shin and me!  I prefer the Zensah Compression Shin Sleeves because they fit me well and come in a variety of colors that allow you to match them with your running outfits. They cost about $20.00 each but are worth ever penny of it if you need that extra support or suffer from shin splints.
6. iPod (with good music) 
I can’t imagine going on a 15-20 mile run without my iPod/iPhone!  I keep my music current and always have upbeat and motivating music to listen to.  I have certain songs on my “Running Playlist” that motivate me to keep going when I feel like giving up and others that help me pick up the pace when I need to.  I am careful to keep the volume down when I am using earphones so that I do not completely block out the sounds around me.  I am paranoid of getting hit by a car or being snuck up on by a predator. I once read an article about a man who was struck by a plane while running on a beach.  Apparently he did not hear a plane about to crash due to the volume of his music and was struck and killed by the plane.  Very sad story, so I make sure that I am careful when using earphones.

7. Comfortable Running Clothing

My usual running attire consists of a pair of Nike Tempo Shorts and a Nike DriFit Sports Tank. I don’t have much to brag about up top, so the Sports Tanks provide me with all the protection that I need.  I recently purchased a pair of lululemon running shorts but I have not taken them on the road yet to break them in.  They are by far the most comfortable and best fitting shorts I have ever tried on.  Check out my blog post "Loco for Lulu" to see how I really feel about lululemon. Is it weird that I get so excited about running attire?

8. Goals, Support, and Motivation

Motivation increases my energy to run well and keeps me focused on the numerous Running Goals that I have set for myself. I find motivation through a lot of different sources such as other runners and my ultimate goal of running the Boston Marathon someday.  Having the support of those around you is also an important factor in goal achievement.  I know that when I am training for a race, I spend a lot of time running and my life is scheduled around my training plan. In other words, if I have a training run planned, I am not going anywhere until it's done!

9.  Sun Protection (Sunscreen, Hat, or Visor)

Runners spend a lot of time in the sun so it is important to protect ourselves from the sun, especially during the summer months. This can be done in a variety of ways from wearing thin, long sleeved clothing, hats, sun visors, and sunglasses.  Sunscreen is the best method along with any of the other methods mentioned.  If the sun is shining, I need my visor because it keeps the sun out of my eyes and makes my run a lot easier.  Coppertone Sport which is waterproof and sweat proof sunscreen with an SPF of 50 ,is a must for me. I usually apply it about 15-20 before I head out for a run so that my skin has time to absorb it. 
10. Training Plan 

Depending what I have on my Race Schedule, I usually have some type of training plan that I follow.  Developing a training plan allows me to obtain my goals and plan my weekly schedule around my running plans.  I also keep track of my running on http://www.dailymile.com/ so I know exactly where I stand at any given time.  I have also found that a training plan keeps me motivated, focused, and holds me accountable to get my runs in even when I get lazy.  

Retrieved from www.halhigdon.com
I can probably think of ten more things that I cannot live without, like GU and my foam roller, but I think I will stop here.  What is listed on your "Top Ten Must Have Running Items" ?

Jul 11, 2011

Long Training Run Number Four: 13.3 Miles

Weather Report: Sunny and 65 degrees

Thirteen Miles was on the agenda for today and I ran the same local route where I first experienced my problem with ITBS.  I remember running this route and then all of a sudden I had such a horrible pain on the side of my left knee and I just could not run!  I had to walk/hop/hobble a grueling three miles to get  home.  Since then, I never ran that route again because I did not want to be reminded of that horrible day that changed my ability to run for quite some time. I decided to start today's run much earlier because the warm weather has been killing me lately even though it has only been about 10 degrees warmer! I guess I am just used to running in temperatures of 60 degrees or cooler.  I woke up at 5:30am and was out the door by 5:55am, since I knew this was going to be at least a two hour run.  I had a few new running items to try out today so I was kind of excited to run.
My old running belt was a one size fits all and I don't think that I ever really got it to fit me quite right.  My new one fits so much better and it Velcro's in the back instead of the side. I also purchased a small container, that attaches to my running belt, to carry my GU in. My idea behind this container was to be able to cut the GU packets open ahead of time and not have to waste time struggling to get them open.
I also experimented with Trislide for the first time.  I usually use Body Glide or just plain vaseline on my feet and they have always done the trick for me.  Many people swear by Trislide so I bought a can to try ($17.00). I wasn't incredibly impressed with it but I didn't get any blisters! It is much more sanitary than Body Glide but I would rather save some money and spend it on a race!

I owned the road today!  There were hardly any cars on the street and I was loving it!  I decided that I would start out as strong as I could today and then just slow it down in the end and try to maintain a pace of at least 9:00.  By Mile 2.5 the sun was shining brightly but the temperature was still tolerable. I made sure that I drank plenty of water and I dropped an extra bottle of water off at Mile 5.  On this particular route, I pass the same spot twice so I dropped the water off at Mile 2.

Mile 1: 8:27
Mile 2: 8:05
Mile 3: 8:08
5K: 25:20

By the time I had reached Mile 5, I had almost finished one of my water bottles so I stopped to GU and refill my water bottle with the spare that I had dropped.  It was so convenient to have my GU all ready to use and have a place to put the empty packet. This idea worked out really well for me! To be honest with you, I usually throw the empty GU packet on the ground if there is no trash can in sight! 

Mile 4: 8:01
Mile 5: 8:18
Mile 6: 8:19
10K: 50:08

Miles 5 to 7 were uphill so the GU break came just in time!  I was about a half mile up the hill when I noticed that I was missing one of my water bottles, so I had to turn around and look for it.  This added about a 1/4 mile to my run but those bottles are not cheap so I had to go back and find it!
Found it!
I finally reached the top of the hill, which is Foothill Blvd, at Mile 7.5 and the rest of the route is pretty flat and manageable. I usually feel a sigh of relief when I reach this point, but I had amazing energy today and I wasn't even pushing myself that hard.  I'm not sure if it was the GU, the hydrating, or the spinach I had for dinner the night before???  Whatever it was, I need to repeat it because I don't normally feel this energized at 6am on a Sunday morning!

Mile 7: 8:06
Mile 8: 8:13
Mile 9: 8:12

Miles 10 to 12 were downhill so I caught a break in the end.  I took another GU shot at Mile 10 and headed on home! I was pretty happy with my progress today. I would really love to beat my time at the Disneyland Half Marathon in September and achieve my goal of running a half marathon in under 1:50!  I could have earned that PR today if I had been running a race, but you never know what kind of day you are going to have......

Mile 10: 8:06
Mile 11: 8:19
Mile 12: 8:05
Mile 13: 7:36
       Garmin Stats

I had another good week and managed to get all of my scheduled runs completed.  I have been slacking on going to spin class, but I try to make it up by doing my stability ball workout at home.
I am hoping to have my running partner back with me next week.  I think shin splints are contagious because she is now experiencing them right as mine are starting to get better. She has been taking good care of herself and bought new shoes so I know she will be making a come back real soon!
Obtained from www.cartoonstock.com