Wednesday, December 7, 2011

VIRR Turkey Trot Race Report - 16 miler

Sometimes it's best if you don't know the race course in advance...

For most races, I haunt the website, review the race course and decide on a plan of action well before race day.  I like to run portions (if not all) of the course prior to race day so that I have a strategy and can be mentally prepared for the tough spots.  I like to look at the previous year's race results, check times for my AG, and think about where I might end up in the standings.  I'm sure a lot of athletes do this.  At least the Type-A athletes do, even if they know they aren't going to place in the top (that would be me, chaser of the FOPs (Front-of-Pack'rs).

This race was going to be a little different.  It was my first time entering.  It was a fun run.  It was FREE.  It fit fabulously into my training schedule and took the place of my long run for the week.  IT WAS FREE!

The course map was not posted until a couple of days before the race.  I've run races with VIRR from Rice Park (the start), so I assumed it would probably be an out-and-back to Grandma's, with two loops to get to the 16 miles (they also had an 8.4 and a 2.6 mile run that day).  When I finally glanced at the posted course map, I did not zoom in, and I assumed it would be down Kula Highway, then back up Lower Kula Road.  OK...different, but extremely do-able.  Then I got the surprise.

A group of us were standing around at check-in and I overheard someone say, "It's the same course as last year."  So I told him this was my first time and asked "what, really, is the course?"  Turns out the "down Kula Highway" part was right, but then we turned right at the high school and ran UP AND AROUND Kekaulike Hwy.  Oh, s%@t!  This is an approximate 2,000 ft elevation gain.  It is an uphill run from about Mile 7 to about Mile 13.  (FYI - I chickened out and didn't sign up for a 10K in May of this year because it was primarily THIS section of the course - billed as a "one hill" race.  Ha Ha!  The entire race is that one hill.)

But the race was FREE.  And my training was going well.  And I completely rescheduled my training plan for the long run on Thanksgiving.  And I was there.  What the hell?  It would be fun, right?

Standard pre-race smoothie at 4:30 a.m.  Race started at 7:00. FYI - I've pretty much decided that the 2-hour window is too short.  It leaves me feeling a bit sloshy.  Next time I will get up earlier and drink the smoothie prepared the night before, then go back to bed for a little more snooze.  It works!

Warm Up/Race Prep
Ha ha!  It was 53 freaking degrees at the race start!  That is downright COLD for us Maui folks.  I kept my sweatshirt on, did a little light jogging to stay warm.

After hearing about the real race course, I added 10 minutes to my "guessed" time.  Those who come closest to their guess can win a prize (no watches, garmins allowed).  I originally planned to go for 3:00, but added 10 minutes for the serious climbing.  (I was going to wear my Garmin as this was supposed to be a training run for me and I wanted to watch pace, heart rate, etc., but one of the long-time runners cajoled me into leaving it in the truck.)

We also found out at check-in that there were no "official" aid stations on the course, but that someone was going to leave water at about Mile 6 and Mile 12.  Although I had my Nathan carrier with my bottle of Heed and two Hammer gels, I decided to grab an extra water bottle from my truck just in case there was no water.

Off came the sweatshirt, but I wore my new YMX Yellowman long-sleeve dragon shirt underneath (more about that in a later post).

There were 24 of us in the 16-mile group.  The ultra-runners (one only clad in black running shorts and shoes) took off and never looked back.  I ended up with a group of about 4-5 runners at the tail end of the pack, but I was OK with that.  This was supposed to be a long training run, not a race, and I was perfectly content to let everyone else take off.  I figured this would be a good way to practice pacing and see if the rumors were true: that I would eventually pass some of the runners who took off too fast and paid for it at the end.

The first 6 miles were mostly on a gradual downgrade, a pleasant way to warm up.  Several of us chatted as we ran along.  I felt good and even though I felt I could pick up the pace, I tried to stay slow.  This is where I sort of missed my Garmin, but I realized it was probably very good for me to run by feel for a change.  Mentally I felt good because I wasn't DFL in the pack, which is a driver for me, for better or for worse.

We made the turn at the high school and started the climb.  There was no water at the first "drop" but I was OK - I popped my first gel as planned and finished the bottle I was carrying.  We began the ascent, and this is where some runners started dropping off in pace.  I was still feeling good and elated that I felt so the tougher sections I reminded myself that it was OK to walk portions.  My pace slowed and I walked what I thought was quite a bit, but I still felt good and strong and ran as often as I could.  I enjoyed the beauty of the day, the fact that I was out running sixteen miles (which still amazes me - it was the longest distance I have ever run in my life!), and kept a positive mindset.  I even stopped to take a couple of pics:

A friend of mine says I look like I was hitchhiking in this photo!
I thought I knew the stretch of highway fairly well as I've driven it many times, and I got excited when I saw the houses just before Kula Lodge because I thought I was near the top.  I wasn't and it was still quite a ways to the Haleakala Crater turn-off where the second water drop was.  When I got there I was glad so see there were still plenty of bottles because I'd burned up my HEED on the climb.  I took a quick break, took my second gel and topped off my water bottle so I wouldn't have to carry another, and took off.

After this stop my legs protested a bit.  There was still a bit of climbing left to do and I got back to it.  This is when I noticed that I was getting a blister under the base of my big toe (at the top of the ball of my foot).  I stopped to adjust my sock, which was bunching a little in that area, and took off.  Side Note:  I noticed that I am getting more blisters as my runs get longer. I thought my feet would toughen and callus up, but they aren't.  For this race I wrapped my 4th toes with bandaids to avoid the nasty blisters I got in the Harbor-to-Harbor, and really rubbed my feet up with Body Glide.  I wore socks with my Mizunos.  Mostly a winning combination.  I still have several long runs to test shoe/sock/no-sock combinations before race day.

I caught a few more runners in this last climbing section, then the glorious downhill began!!

About Mile 12-13 my quads started getting cranky with me, but I told myself the same thing I told myself at Mile 10 in the 1/2 marathon: as long as the pain doesn't get any worse, I am fine.  I can run with this.  I can deal with this.  I still felt strong, and if I hadn't had the blister really yelling at me at this point, I could have even picked up the pace a little bit.

Soon I saw the intersection at the highway and made my turn for the home stretch.  As I came up the last little hill before the finish, I saw my family on the sidelines cheering me on.  It was awesome!  I left them all, still sleeping, that morning (I had told them the night before that I would finish at around 10:00 IF they wanted to meet me at the finish line).  It was great!

I finished in 2:59:58!  If I wouldn't have added that last 10 minutes, I would have only been 2 seconds off my time and would have probably won a prize.  I can't believe how consistent my pace is, even without the Garmin to check.  And that was despite that crazy incline!

My uncle said he couldn't believe I wasn't even breathing hard at the end and I looked as if I barely broke a sweat. 

I am very pleased with this race and the results. It did wonders for my self confidence - I know I can tackle just about anything with good, consistent training.

Can't wait to see what happens next year!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marathon Monday - Week 9 of 18

"I'm at the half-way mark!" I realized, as I typed the title for today's post.  So far, so good.

I missed posting last Monday because I was on vacation, here, at home.  My mom came to visit from California and we had a great time together.  I stuck with my run training (minus one 3-miler), but swimming, biking and blogging all kind of fell by the wayside.  It was a good mental break for me. Today, though, it's back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I ran a fun race on Saturday - the 20th anniversary of the Maui Harbor-to-Harbor race.  It clocked in at a little over 10 miles (10.55 according to my Garmin) and I was thrilled with my average pace of 9:28!  Running more is paying off!  I felt good the entire race and incorporated some new mental tricks to keep me going in the later miles: keeping focused, staying positive and checking in on my body and how it was performing.  Run tall.  Hold your core. Smile. There was no swearing involved, unlike Xterra.

With a little more than a mile to go, a younger woman passed me.  Usually this is not a big deal, because people pass me a lot, but for some reason I could not let this one go.   I remembered something I read recently, that if someone passes you near the end of the race, do not let them get too far ahead.  Her pace wasn't much faster than mine at the time, so I hung on around 25 yards back.  We got inside that last mile and I knew if I didn't pick up the pace she would think she had it in the bag.  I remembered how Mirinda Carfrae tried to chase down Chrissie Wellington in Kona.  We hit a slight downhill and I lengthened my stride a bit, gradually catching up, then I dug down deep and pushed enough to get past her.  I figured she would push it and pass me again, but I stayed strong and finished just ahead of her.  She came up to me at the water station after the race and congratulated me on the finish, which was really nice of her to do.  I thanked her and told her I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to catch her and told her she set a good pace.

I went into the race with the intention of racing strong and trying to sustain a 9:30 pace.  It was a hard effort, but it also reassured me that I can run faster than I think!

The race was an exchange for my long run for that weekend, scheduled for 10 miles.  I know I'm supposed to get my long runs in slower, and I won't be doing any more "racing" throughout my marathon training, but this was a really good check-in for me and a great confidence booster.

I promise to take it slow at the Turkey Trot next week!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Xterra Kapalua 10K Race Report

Run - 10k
Total Time = 1h 17m 13s
Overall Rank = 260/338
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 8/19

Shoes: Asics Gel-Trabuco

The 9:00 a.m. start left plenty of time for breakfast so I had a smoothie: fresh coconut milk, pineapple, OJ, banana, ice and egg white protein. Filled coffee and left the house – it was a little over an hour drive to the race site and I still needed to pick up my packet. 

Got to the race shortly after 7:00 a.m.  It was nice to get there early – I got a great parking spot and had plenty of time to check in and relax before the start. 

The check-in area was quite a walk uphill to the center of the hotel.  I had pre-registered via fax, but they didn’t have any record for me.  Thankfully, I brought my form and fax confirmation.  The Xterra staff made it smooth and hassle-free, which was nice.  I got my bag and number (lucky #300 ) and walked back to my truck.  Turned out I got the wrong size shirt, so I walked back up to registration and they exchanged it for me.  I should have checked before I left, but I just considered it a pretty good warm up.  By the time I got back to my truck the second time, I had worked up a pretty good sweat.  It was going to be a HOT ONE!

Nutrition:  Prepped HEED in water bottle and sipped up until 30 minutes prior to race, then apple cinnamon* Hammer gel 15 minutes prior with water.  *I really like this flavor in the morning!

Everyone gathered at the start.  One of the first things I noticed was that the race was seriously UPHILL BOTH WAYS (meaning at the start AND at the finish).  I was chatting with some other racers then BOOM – off went the start cannon.  Talk about a hit to the adrenalin!

The runners streamed out along the golf course and across a wide maintenance road for the first part of the course.  I was near the middle of the pack and the pace was good – I only had to maneuver around a few runners to get into gear.  We hit the tunnel under the highway (funny course sighting – right about this time I looked down and saw someone had dropped the remainder of what appeared to be a joint just outside the tunnel) then the real trail started and that’s when the trouble began.
I thought that starting mid-pack was a good idea pace-wise, however, when we hit the start of the trail everyone slowed to a walk.  It was a single-track section and there was quite a traffic jam.  I lost a lot of time and momentum here and it was a little frustrating.  Next time I will know – get up front, start fast, hit the single-track, then slow the pace once the trail widens and people can pass.
We finally hit some wider trails and it was a go, then HELL hit us square in the face!  Yes, I already knew:

·         Xterra trail runs were notorious for being XXX strenuous!
·         That the old Kapalua Village course was practically a vertical climb, even on the cart paths!

I knew both of these things when I signed up, but you tell yourself, “Hey, it can’t be that bad.  After all, it’s only a 10K!”  Right.  On several of the climbs I was reduced to absolutely trudging my way up the trail, grasping onto every tree branch I could reach as I went to haul my ass up.  Thankfully, I was in good company with many other runners who had also underestimated the effort required of this course.  I found myself swearing under my breath on several occasions. 

I stayed hydrated through the aid stations because it was freakin’ HOT out there and knew how important it was to stay cool.  Props to the Xterra volunteers – there was a good amount of aid stations on the course and even one guy handing out GU at the last one (SMART!).  I took one, but did not eat it – instead saved it to try later – nothing new on race day.  It was bad enough that I grabbed a cup of Gatorade on the course – I thought it would be OK (I train with HEED and haven’t had any high fructose corn syrup since March), but it tweaked my stomach a little bit.  I thought about bringing my own hydration belt, which I do for longer races, but decided water on the course would be fine.  Next year I will bring it anyway – it would have been nice to have HEED on me for whenever I wanted it.

So, it was climb, climb, climb, climb, climb, then the wonderful and really fun downhill started.  They threw in a lot of obstacles with ducks and jumps here and there, which was a lot of fun for me.  I passed a LOT of people on the downhill, then the course ran along a narrow single track and you could see the beach and the hotel so we knew we were close.  We dropped down into a dry riverbed with lots of potentially ankle-breaking stones, but I stuck to the piles of pine needles and picked my way down to the beach.  The beach run was the first of two heart breakers…it was blazing hot, full sun, and so hard to slog through that sand!  I was really feeling my energy starting to sap, so I half walked, half jogged down the compressed part of the sand as much as I could, then hit Heartbreak Hill.

The last 200 yards or so of the race were up a steep hill on the grass between the hotel and the beach.  As much as I wanted to run to the finish, I just couldn’t do it.  Half way up the hill I almost threw up (and I almost NEVER throw up – it’s a thing) and I willed myself to keep it down because I was in the wide open with the course barrier on one side (behind which were a bunch of spectators) and a huge hedge on the other, so there was no where to go and no way to be discreet.

At the top of the hill the course turns and hits the finish line – so I at least ran that!

I would liken this to what some women say about childbirth - when they are in the middle of it, they are asking themselves "what the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this?!" But after it's all done you say to yourself, "Hey, that wasn't too bad. When can we do it again?!"

I had only been running/training on flat courses, so I was not in good shape for a difficult trail run. More trail running, more hill training, and starting up front would have probably resulted in a better time/performance.  We’ll have to see next year!

Xterra does a great job running races - this was a great day for those with families, too, because they had 10K, 5K and Keiki (child) races. Lots of volunteers. I will do it again!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Marathon Monday - Week 7 of 18

With some creative scheduling, I eked out my mileage for last week by the seat of my pants.

I ran the Xterra 10K last weekend (race report coming!) and, without doing any specific hill training or trail running in the weeks prior, my legs paid for it last week.  Sunday they weren't too bad, but DOMS always hits me worse on Day 2 post-race, so Monday I was in some serious hurt.  I was supposed to get 10 miles that weekend for my long run but I figured the exertion required of the off-road race would equal a 10-mile LSD, so I called it even.  And post-race I felt that it took WAY more out of me than the 1/2 marathon a month earlier (my race pics show it, too, but that's another story).

Last weeks mileage:

  • Monday - Swam 1500yds - thought it would help.  It did, sorta.
  • Tuesday  30 minutes easy spin on trainer
  • Wednesday - Rest
  • Thursday - Rest
  • Friday - 3 miles
  • Saturday - 5 miles
  • Sunday - 3 miles
  • Monday - 7 miles
Running just wasn't quite happening on Wednesday.  As scheduled I should run Wed., Thur., Fri., rest on Sat., then long run on Sunday.  I'm OK with moving stuff around, A LITTLE BIT.  I figure Hal Higdon is the expert and I should try to stick with the basic plan as much as possible.  But life does require a little more flexibility sometimes.

I've bumped my morning alarm from 4:45 to 4:30 to try and get on a little earlier schedule so I can fit in the longer runs on Thursdays.  So far, so good.

I have a 12-mile run this Sunday ON THE ROAD for once, and with a new running partner.  I'm a little anxious about it, but looking forward to spending time outside and with someone to chat with on these long days.  We are both training for the same marathon, so our training schedules and mileage are pretty close.  She's a faster runner than me, but her long runs are at 10mm so I can hang with that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Great Coconut Milk Experiment

Coconut.  One of the (many) beautiful things about eating Paleo!  The only difficulty is finding unadulterated coconut products, especially coconut milk.  So, I decided to make my own.

With Bruce's help, we husked two of the three coconuts given to me by my friend and co-worker, Gina.  It has been difficult to find mature coconuts because everyone wants the water these days.  After several false starts, her and her husband provided us with THESE beauties.

We have worked out a trade deal - they give us coconuts, we give them avocados.  I like it!  The picture above shows one coconut with the husk still on, and two without.  Once you husk them you need to use them - they can leak or rot quickly.

These we just perfect - plenty of milky white flesh.

It's not easy getting the meat out of the shell.  If this was a Top Chef quickfire, I would have lost.  I've got to research to find an easier way to do this.

Here is the meat - don't worry about the dark peel - it doesn't impact the taste of the milk.

Put it all in the VitaMix and blend with enough hot water to make a slurry.

The slurry going into the nut milk bag.

Squeeze out all of the milk - use a nut milk bag instead of cheesecloth.  They work great!

The finished product!  It is delicious to drink just by itself over ice, blended into a smoothie, or used for many Paleo recipes that call for coconut milk.

I'm spoiled now, and only want fresh.  The trick will be to maintain a 1-2 per week supply of mature coconuts.  You'd think they'd be all over the place on an island, but apparently they are one of Maui's best kept secrets.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marathon Monday - Week 6 of 18

I had this crazy idea that I would post every day in the month of October.  For the first part of the month, I didn't feel like I had that much to say.  Now all the post ideas are piling up and I think this will be a banner posting week!

I've decided to dedicate Monday to marathon training updates.  I'm in week 6 (of 18) of Hal Higdon's novice training plan and so far, so good. 

I was supposed to have a 10-mile long run yesterday, but I raced in the Xterra Kapalua 10K trail run on Saturday.  Suffice it to say that I believe it was equal to the effort required of a 10-mile run, and then some!  (I have a full race report to post later this week.)  It actually felt harder than the 1/2 marathon I ran last month.

Sore quads today, which was helped by a little dip in the pool this morning...only 1500yds.  Today is a cross training day, so it was good timing.

Tuesday's are usually rest days for me, but I've unearthed the trainer in the garage so I can get back on the bike.  I think I'll go for an easy spin tomorrow morning to warm things back up.  There is a century ride mid-November (with a 25-mile option - perfect!), and a 36-miler in December.  I think a little time on the bike will be good, as long as it doesn't interfere too much with the longer mileage I'll be hitting those months.  

We'll see how it goes!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Smoothie Friday: Kiwi Green

It's Smoothie Friday!

Each Friday (for as long as I can keep it going), I'm going to post a recipe for a new Paleo smoothie creation.

Today is "Kiwi Green."


1C water
1/4 of an avocado
1 small banana
1 orange, peeled
1 kiwi, peeled
2T flaxseed meal
1 scoop egg white protein powder
1C raw spinach
1C ice

Blend on high for 1 minute in your blender.

A couple of notes:

  • If you do an sort of cooking, are following a Paleo nutrition plan, like to make smoothies, soups or blended cocktails, do yourself a favor and go buy a Vitamix!  I can't tell you how many cheap blenders I've burned up over the years, and you probably have done the same.  Add them up and you could have bought a Vitamix!  They are a little pricey, but worth every penny AND MORE.  I wish I had discovered them years ago.  Use a Vitamix and say goodbye to chunky, unpleasant smoothies.
  • Do you peel your kiwi when you eat it?  I have a friend who eats hers skin and all.  I can't seem to wrap my head around that, but if there's a benefit, I'll do it.  After all, I will throw flaxseed, nuts and other fibrous stuff in a smoothie, but kiwi skin?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Island Life

This, my friends, is a cane spider.  That is MY finger.

I can't tell you how much courage it took me to take this picture, even with the giant spider on the other side of the glass.  Large, speedy arachnids give me the creeps!  (Don't get me started on centipedes...)

They are quick and hard to kill.  They like to play dead.  Then, when you least expect it, they race off.  Eeek!

Triathlon on a "Shoestring"

Triathlon is an expensive sport..and I love a good bargain!

I was excited to see these Zoot Advantage 3.0 go on sale on the Zoot website.  I needed a new pair of trainers and I LOVE my Ultra TT's, so decided to try their stability shoe since I'm putting in a lot of miles training for the Maui Oceanfront Marathon.

When Bruce asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said, "Well, there's these shoes..."  He said to go ahead and order them.  So I was bummed when the Zoot site was out of my size (I know my foot looks svelte in this photo, but I wear a hard-to-find size 11).

Google to the rescue!  I found another site - Discount Tri Supply.  I was a little apprehensive about choosing a random retailer from Google, and I'd never heard about them before, but they did a great job!  They processed my order quickly, and shipped to me, in Hawaii, for FREE!  Plus, if it's your first order from them, find the link on the home page for a special "first time customer" code for 20% off!  I WILL order from them again.

Bargain aside, they feel wonderful.  Tomorrow is a rest day, so I won't have a chance to try them out until Wednesday, but I'm looking forward to running in these.

And you know the shoes make you run faster!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paleo Osso Buco

Yesterday was a huge cooking day in my kitchen.  I got my copy of Paleo Comfort Foods earlier in the week, but I needed a day to myself to fully appreciate it!

There were so many dishes I wanted to make, but I had to limit myself and not get too carried away.  I still made several dishes, though.

The first was the Osso Buco with beautiful beef shanks from Whole Foods.  I was thrilled to find the grass-fed, LOCAL beef from Maui Cattle Company at only $3.99/lb!   I love WF's meat counter.

The meat seared beautifully in my favorite Le Creuset pot.  Then, in went the medley of vegetables - mostly from a couple of different farmers markets.  (Can you tell I like orange kitchen items?).

I finished up the sauce and popped it in the oven to simmer for a couple of hours.  The meat came out tender and the sauce was outstanding.  A very successful first attempt at this dish!

We had the carrot timbales and mashed cauliflower to go along with this colorful and super tasty dish.  Both recipes are from the book as well.  I was going to saute some chard for some extra green, but was too tired from all the other prep, so it didn't get done.

The carrot timbales were a hit - smooth, light and fluffy.  I made the recipe as printed, then read the variations AFTER it was cooked.  Although they were delicious I, personally, would like a little extra kick from ginger or curry next time.

The long cooking time makes this dish more appropriate for the weekend, but you could probably easily throw everything into a crockpot (after searing the meat and cooking the veg) and let it simmer all day for the same results.

Bon Appetit!

P.S. I'm going to write a review for the cookbook, but want to try a few more recipes first.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Plans and Paleo Comfort Foods!

It's October 1st, and I made a promise to myself to blog every day this month.

One of the things I'm MOST excited about is a new cookbook, "Paleo Comfort Foods," by Julie and Charles Mayfield.  It's FABULOUS!

But I'm too tired to provide details right now - it's late at night and my kitchen is a disaster.  More on what was cooked during my all day "Cooking Fandango" tomorrow!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maui 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Last Sunday I ran my first half-marathon in 10 years!  I was pleased with my (somewhat limited) training going in, having only missed one easy 3 mile day and one long run during the 12 weeks leading up to the race.  And really, I didn't totally miss the long run...I was supposed to run 12 miles that Sunday and ended up racing a 10K instead.  I just didn't have it in me that day to run back to the start (it was a point-to-point race) for the full 12.  I'm OK with that.

Everything felt good going into race weekend.  I felt physically ready, the feet were cooperating, and I was calm.  After all, it was only a half-marathon, not a triathlon for Pete's sake!

It was the usual stuff - line everything up and check everything off my list.  For just a running race I sure had a lot of crap to deal with:
  • Charge the Garmin and make sure I had the HR strap
  • Put the race number on the race belt, attach timing chip to shoe
  • Pack "after-race" bag with bathing suit, towel and slippers (BTW, I ended up forgetting the towel and slippers anyway)
  • Get coffee pot ready
  • Prep smoothie without protein powder (to be mixed in in the morning, since I wouldn't run the Vita-Mix at 3:00 a.m.!)
  • Prep cooler bag with post-race recovery brew and snacks
  • Fill bottles (2) with water
  • Find my Nathan belt and store gels (2) in zip compartment
  • Get race clothing together
  • Make final race shoe decision (Zoot Ultras or Mizuno trainers - still worried about the feet even though they felt fine - went with Zoots)
I told my husband that I couldn't remember going to all this trouble 10 years ago for my last 13.1.  It was get dressed, pin on the number and live off the course.  When did I become so high maintenance?!?

A very early wake-up - 3:00 a.m. - since the race start was 5:30 a.m. and it was about an hour drive.  I had 30 minutes to do my business, eat and get out the door.

Everything worked out fine, despite the precious few extra minutes I took standing in the closet, on the verge of a meltdown, wanting to completely change everything I was going to wear at the last minute.  What's up with that?!?  I just kept repeating "nothing new on race day" over and over and I ended up OK.

I mixed up my pre-race smoothie and poured a cup a coffee and was out the door by 3:30, and the ride over to the race was uneventful.  I picked up my co-worker, Malia, on the way and we got to the race start by 4:30, which was good because we got to park right there and didn't have to take a shuttle.  Plenty of time to shed extra clothes (it was 80 degrees by race start!!), wash down gel #1 hit the Porta-Johns and GO!  And I just have to say, there is something delicious about an apple cinnamon Hammer Gel at 5:00 a.m.!

This was my first "big" race - meaning, more than 100 people.  In fact, there were just over A THOUSAND runners!  It was fun at the starting line, but crowded in the chute.  Unfortunately, there was no line up by pace time, so the beginning of the race was a free-for-all.  Malia and I tried to get closer to the front, but it was shoulder-to-shoulder so we had to start about 3/4 of the way back.  Note to self - next year, get to the starting line EARLIER and get closer to the front.

At the gun, we were off!  It was super cool because the race starts pretty much in the dark along the resort road.  Both Malia and I noticed and commented afterwards that it was so quiet.  All you could hear were feet hitting the ground and breathing.  Virtually no one was talking.  It was pretty neat.

It took some time weaving through the slower runners and walkers to get up to cruising speed.  Everyone thinned out by the first mile marker.  It was good because I really wanted to practice pacing with this race and it kept me pretty slow.  I planned to run 10 min miles for the first half, then sub-10 the second.  Just a glance at my Garmin from time to time kept me in range and I felt GOOD!

This is a VERY FUN race.  There are a lot of aid stations and many have music or entertainment.  Each one was staffed with LOTS of volunteers and plenty of supplies.  I also enjoyed running down Front Street in Lahaina - it's funky and scenic and FLAT!

Just before the turnaround (it's an out-and-back course) I ate Gel #2 - Espresso Hammer Gel this time, for a little caffeine kick.  The timing was perfect because I hit the aid station and water right then and everything went down smoothly.  The only thing I forgot was to hit my lap button for the split!

I'm proud to say I ran the entire course with the exception of about 2 aid stations where I walked to get a drink of water.  My plan was to get back onto Front Street before the sun came up over the West Maui Mountains (and the heat turned up!) and I almost made it - just passing Puamana.

My legs started to get a little sore (and my hip flared up a little) toward mile 10, but didn't get any worse, so I pushed on and finished strong!  Very happy with my 2:12 time.

During the last mile or two I had the realization that yes, with training, I completely capable of doing a full marathon.  So that's what's on tap for January 2012!

I really enjoyed the race.  I could have pushed harder, but this was really a test of how well my feet were going to hold up, and to get the voodoo thoughts out of my head (the last 1/2 I ran ended in tendonitis and the end of running for a LONG TIME).


Monday, September 12, 2011

Paleo "Spaghetti"

Earlier this year I read about Psuedo Paleo "Spaghetti" on Nell Stephenson's blog.  As a lover of zucchini and an owner of a mandolin, this has been a favorite go-to side dish for several months, simply prepared as in her post.

I told some visiting family that we were having "zucchini spaghetti" for dinner last night with our grilled beef filet and purple sweet potatoes and left it at that.  I had fully intended on making the plain version, but decided something a little more special was in order for company so I made this:

Here's the recipe:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tsp red chili flakes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium zucchini, julienned in long strips (I used one green and one yellow)
Freshly ground black pepper

Warm olive oil in large skillet.  Saute onion and bell pepper until soft.  Add garlic and chili flakes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add cherry tomatoes and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until tomatoes are soft.  Add zucchini and cook until "al dente" - don't cook too long or it will get soggy.  Serve hot.  Finish with fresh cracked pepper.  Makes approximately 6 servings.

FYI, the measurements are approximate - you can add more or less to taste.

It came out so pretty, here's the serving pic:

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Missing Pictures and Random Thoughts

While running the Sugarcane 10K last Saturday, I wished my iPhone had been more convenient to grab for a couple of pictures.
  1. The incredible views - Haleakala to my left, the West Maui Mountains to my right, sugarcane tall and blowing in the light breeze.  This is my favorite time of the year - September and October - when our temps are cooler and the skies are absolutely clear and beautiful.
  2. The cherry tomato plant growing on one of the bridges - anchored in a crack between the wall and the pavement, HUGE, with about 10 ripe cherry tomatoes waiting to be picked.  Too bad I wasn't hungry.  And really, I can't say I've ever thought "Ooh, I could sure go for a cherry tomato right now," while on a run.
  3. Me, in my new purple Athleta running skirt.  I never thought it would be so much fun to get dressed up for a race.  It was kind of like the first day of school when all my clothes were new.  Silly, I know, but it still felt good!
I wore my new Nathan Elite 1 water carrier again for this race.  Seems silly for a 10K, but I really like having my HEED handy whenever I want it, and it's good practice for the upcoming 1/2 marathon.  Unfortunately, the pocket is not large enough for my iPhone, so I wrapped it in a bandana and stuck it in the gel flask holder.  That worked well for transport purposes, but not for access purposes - hence my inability to take photos during the race.  I may have to come up with something else.

I could have stopped, but I was trying too hard to maintain my pace.  Plus I didn't want to look silly.  It was a race after all!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Training, Sugarcane 10K, Etc.

The Maui 1/2 Marathon is in two weeks.  My longest long run to date is 10 miles.  I know I can do the distance and I'm not worried, but I'm not as happy with my progress as I thought I would be at this point.

This year marks the 10 anniversary of the last 1/2 marathon I did.  I have not run more than a 10K since then (and there were many years in between of NO exercise at all).  Since I plan to enter the Honu 1/2 Ironman next June, I thought it would be a good time to concentrate on running.

I was a runner before I was a triathlete.  While training for triathlons the last two years, I focused more on cycling and swimming, especially swimming, and really took running for granted.  If I was going to miss a training session, running would be the first to go.   I knew running would always be there, patiently waiting in the background like an understudy waits in the wings.  

Now that I've been focused more on running, I realize what a mistake that was and plan to keep an eye on my run training through the fall and definitely when I start to train for Honu.  I need to run a LOT MORE and want to really be comfortable running 15-20 mile distances.  Perhaps even a January marathon.  We'll see.

I ran the inaugural Sugarcane 10K yesterday.  Early start (7:00 a.m.), along the Mokulele bike path, a slight uphill at the start, then a gradual downhill most of the way to the finish.  There were about 50 runners and, surprisingly, no one under the age of 20!  I hoped to run sub-10-minute miles, and the Garmin reported an average pace of about 9:30, so I was pleased.  

From about mile 2-4, another woman was running at my right shoulder and just behind me, pacing me.  It was good in some ways...I pushed closer to nine minute miles during that time because the competitor in me did not want her to pass (and by her labored breath I could tell she was working hard), but I slowed down after a bit because I realized I was not running my own race, and I really needed to stick closer to 9:45-10:00 in accordance with my training schedule.  It made me realize that a sub-9-minute pace is possible for me, but at some point in the future.  I just can't sustain that over longer distances right now, but I have hope!

I also realized that, despite the push, I do not like people pacing or drafting me in a race.  It's distracting and takes my concentration away from MY race.  My husband says it's because I have personal space issues, which is true.  If you stay 6+ feet away from me, I'm fine, but get inside that 3' bubble and it makes me nuts (but that's a whole other story).

The feet are cooperating and I feel good.  Still have a little twinge in my right hip, but yoga is helping, and I plan to go to the chiropractor on Wednesday to see if that will help a little bit more.

Hope you had a race or fun event this Labor Day weekend!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Beat the Heat 10K Race Report

Scenic Upcountry Maui
Last Saturday was one of my favorite races, the "Beat the Heat" 10K.  The route takes you from Rice Park to Grandma's Coffee and back through one of Maui's most scenic areas.

The race gets it's name from it's start time at 4:30 p.m. and the location, which is at approx. 3,000 ft elevation, along a shady, hilly, meandering road. Temp at race time was about 75 degrees (and a chilly 67 when I left at 6:30!

I had anticipated running a sub-1 hour 10K this year, but several things conspired against me:
  1. I woke up that morning with a sore right hip.  Felt like IT band issues, but my knee was not bothering me.  It was reminiscent of the time 10 years ago when I suffered from tendonitis in my hip while long-distance running.
  2. As much as I love this race, I completely forget about the altitude, which makes a bit of a difference for me.
  3. I also forget about the awkward running angle on this course - the road camber is very pronounced, so my right hip was not happy and neither was my left foot.
I decided before I even got there that if my foot or hip began to seriously hurt I would bag the race and walk back to the start.  Thankfully, both cooperated.

This time I thought I'd get creative and set my Garmin to beep if I was running slower than 10 min miles (my goal).  I did pretty well going out, with a couple of slow-downs on the climbs, but really started to drag on the return (so much for a negative split!).  Since I found myself shouting, "All right already!" to my Garmin as it beeped for what seemed like the millionth time on the return, I pressed stop, took a break and turned off the notification for the remaining 2+ miles of the run.  I think I will set it to beep if I run too fast next time, since the report I downloaded said my fastest pace was 7:30 (somewhere near the start!)...too much excitement and way too fast.  No wonder I burned out at the end.  I definitely need to work on pacing, especially if I have a 1/2 ironman in mind for next year.

A couple of "wear testing" side notes:
  • This was the first race that I "dressed up" for.  I tested my new Athleta runzip skort, which I love.  Very cool and comfortable - nothing like feeling pretty for a race (a first time for me, since I usually wear what's comfortable).  I often tell myself that "exercise is not a fashion show," so this was fun!
  • I wore my new Nathan Elite 1+ water carrier. I LOVE IT!  The only drawback is that the zipper pouch is not large enough to carry my iPhone (or any phone, really).  But I can sew and I'm going to make a waterproof pocket that I can add on - more on that later.
  • I also wore my CEP compression calf sleeves.  They were perfect - comfortable and supportive, like I've come to expect.  I really want to try out their cushioned socks one of these days.
Although I wasn't completely pleased about my time, I was happy with the race overall.  Really looking forward to the next few road races!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Paleo Pumpkin Smoothie

One of my favorite smoothies, either for breakfast or recovery, is a pumpkin smoothie.

I don't throw spinach in this one because I think it would turn an ungodly color that I might not be able to get around, but that's OK.

What I did throw into it this weekend was freshly grated ginger!  And I have a secret: if you freeze your ginger, it grates beautifully!  I had a whole "hand" of ginger in the freezer, and it was difficult to cut when frozen, so you might want to cut it into 1-2" manageable chunks before you throw it in there.  I had Bruce cut off a chunk for me, which I peeled with the vegetable peeler, then grated over the blender.  If you've ever grated fresh ginger before, you know it kind of gets stringy and mushes up.  The frozen ginger grates just like sawdust - dry and clean.

Here's my recipe:
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4-1 cup pumpkin (I like Libby's organic 100% pure pumpkin - it's inexpensive - stock up at holiday time! - and I can have it around the house year around)
  • 1 scoop egg white protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Ice
You want this smoothie to be COLD, so I usually use frozen banana chunks.  I also like it on the spicy side, so you can adjust the ginger/cinnamon amounts to your liking.

And now that I think about it, I may just add spinach to my next one just to see what happens!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

8 Mile Day and CEP Compression Review

I finished my first eight miler today - the first one over six miles in a very long time.  Like years and years ago long.  It's a wonderful feeling!

I've been looking forward (and simultaneously dreading) today's run all week long.  Excited because of the increasing distance, yet wary because it was the 1/2 marathon distance that did me in years ago.  Too much training + short amount of time = overtraining injury.  Tendonitis in my hip that derailed me from running and subsequently contributed to me falling off the fitness wagon.  But that was then.

The odds didn't look good for today, though.  I went to jump on my treadmill and the "dashboard" wouldn't light up.  It's been having some technical issues for the past few months now, and I am probably wearing it out, but I'd like to keep it going at least through the end of the year.

I wasn't about to change my plans to a road run, however, because it was already mid-morning and it was starting to get hot and humid outside.  So while Bruce tinkered around with the treadmill I stood by and watched, all the while trying to talk myself into a road run.  But eight miles?  On the road?  I don't have any running hydration right now (I'm thinking about the Nathan Elite 1 or 1+ but haven't pulled the trigger). Local runs are too hilly for an 8LSD run (long slow distance). I don't have a route calculated.  My Garmin isn't charged up.  It's too hot.  It's too late.

Yes, I had a serious lack of HTFU.

Then, the dashboard lit up!

The first few miles were tough.  I was trying to talk myself out of my initial funk all the while thinking, "OMG 8 miles is far."  Then the miles started ticking off.  I felt good.  I managed to get some fluids in me despite the fact that I didn't have a lid for my water bottle (I just sent it in for warranty replacement and my other two that had lids were in the dishwasher that was also miraculously working, so I didn't want to open it but that's another story).  By mile 6 I got a second wind and finished strong.  Yes, I averaged about 5.5 MPH, which IS slow.  But I went the distance and my feet didn't act up.  Neither did my right calf which has been giving me some trouble.  I did have some issues with my right hip and IT band, but nothing that a date with the foam roller won't fix.  I am happy!

Which brings me to these:

CEP compression calf sleeves.  I originally bought them to help with circulation/recovery when my foot was broken, but the socks worked better, so these have been lounging in the closet.  I've been reading more about compression, though, and decided to break them out for today's first long run.

Pros:  they are comfortable and my lower legs feel strong and stable.  I would agree that they were instrumental in my calf not acting up today.  I think they have just the right amount of compression.  They wash well (I hang them to dry) and don't seem to be losing any of their compression ability or degrading in any way.  That's after about 8-10 washes, so we'll have to see how they hold up over time.

Cons:  they are hot to wear in Hawaii.  I felt kind of like I was running with pants on.  I've read that you can wet them down and they will help you stay cool - but I can't really do that on a treadmill, so I will try that on my next outdoor run and see if that helps.

I need to order myself another pair and I want to try out there padded compression socks too.

Please note that CEP did not supply me with any merchandise in exchange for this review.  I am just a satisfied consumer!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Really Quite Thankful...BUT

...the pool was WAY too hot this morning.

I swim with my masters group from 5:45 - 7:00 a.m. between 2-3 times a week.  It is a great group of people (barring certain incidents, LOL) and so convenient to my house that many times I run to-and-from to get a couple of extra miles in during the week.  It's usually not crowded (1-2 people per lane), although I think it's starting to lose it's "best kept secret" status.  Temps range from 76-80 most days.  And there's definitely something to be said for an outdoor pool that you can swim in year-round (although 54 degrees is my air temperature cut-off and we do get there during the winter at 1500ft elevation).  Starting your swim in the pre-dawn dark and continuing as the sun comes up is a rewarding experience!

Yes, I am spoiled.  That said, however, an 85 degree water temp is far too hot for any kind of meaningful workout.  I felt like I was swimming in a bowl of hot soup.  It was not refreshing and not comfortable.  I think 78 is my preferred temp and 7 degrees makes a huge difference.

As I sat on the edge of the pool mid-session to cool off, I felt a little guilty complaining.  After all, I am very thankful that I have a beautiful place to swim just a mile away from home.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Abundance Ups and Downs

I love bananas.  They are a staple of my diet - thrown into a smoothie, roasted on the grill, or eaten fresh, right out of the peel.  Cody, our Lab, loves them too.  A downside is that they are expensive to buy (about $2.00-$2.29/lb for local bananas).

The upside is that we have a grove of banana trees in our front yard that produce an abundance of fruit nearly year around!  This was a bunch on one of our trees, ready to eat.

The downside is that production is inconsistent, so its generally feast or famine around here.  At feast time, though, I eat whatever I can when they are fresh, then cut up and freeze the rest.

In my pre-Paleo days, I would frequently use them for banana bread.  Now, though, they are ready and waiting in the freezer for smoothies whenever I want.

Locals refer to these bananas as "apple bananas."  No, they don't taste like apples - they are smaller, firmer and not quite as sweet as a regular, imported banana.  They are wonderful and I have been forever ruined for grocery store bananas.  I'd rather go without when I'm out of these.