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.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Paleo Green Machine

I just finished a short run (3 miles EZ the training plan said) and decided to have one of my favorite smoothies for lunch/recovery, which I have dubbed the "Paleo Green Machine."

I recently discovered that you can add 1-2 cups of spinach to ANY smoothie without changing the flavor.  This is a great way to get an added serving of vegetables in your daily diet and reap all the benefits spinach has to offer!  I think the color is quite pretty, but if you don't put it in an opaque cup and use a straw.

1 cup water
1/2 c pineapple chunks with juice (you can and should use fresh whenever possible, but I like Dole Tropical Gold pineapple because there is nothing in the can but pineapple and pineapple juice - no added sugar or preservatives)
1 banana
1 whole, peeled orange
1 to 2 cups fresh spinach (a nice handful)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 scoop egg white protein powder
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

Process in your blender until smooth.

I changed to a Paleo nutrition plan in March and haven't looked back.  There are tons of websites, blogs, etc., out there devoted to the Paleo lifestyle and I encourage you to check it out.  If you are looking to get away from processed, packaged, factory-farmed food and want to feel better and look great, there are several links on my sidebar with more information.

I am brand new to this and still learning myself.  Some days I feel like I'm a member of a cult!  But I eat so well, it agrees with me and really supports my training efforts.  I'm getting more into the cooking aspects of Paleo and will be posting more recipes in the future.

In the meantime, drink your spinach!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Weekend Epiphany!

I'm a little late to the party...I decided to start training for the Maui 1/2 Marathon on the flight home from Wyoming.  Silly Runner's World magazine, with the 1/2 mary training plan!  As I got on the treadmill on Saturday for "3 miles, EZ" I did a little math and realized that it had been 4 weeks without any appreciable running.  Vacations will do that to you.

Despite the lack of miles, my two runs over the weekend were OK and I feel pretty good today even though my hamstrings are a little tight.  But that's not the best part!

I had Epiphany Part I at about mile 3.5 of Sunday's 5 mile run.  It was at that moment that I realized that I was not wearing "approved" running shorts.  It was hot, and in the interest of staying cool I threw on a shorter pair of shorts.  (**WARNING** : this next part may be just a little TMI!)  Shorts that expose my each other...and cause them declare warfare on each other until they are both red and angry from chafing.  UGH.

Epiphany Part II?  There was no chafing!  It was wonderful!  This is a milestone to be marked because I never thought I would get there again.  Anyone who has had to analyze every piece of their running wardrobe to ensure this uncomfortable phenomenon does not occur can appreciate this.  Now I can wear whatever I want and be comfortable, at least for certain shorter distances.

A milestone to be sure.