Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's in your schwag bag? Edition 1.

The free stuff is a nice bonus to any race. Here's the Brazen Racing, Coyote Hills schwag bag. We would now like to thank our sponsors:12:00, then clockwise:

1.)Race medal - Everyone gets one just for finishing the race. Finishing makes you a winner. (Overall and age group winners often win money, shoes, or another prize.)
2.) Pretzel thins - Yum, carbohydrates.
3.) Corn snack - Some other promotional carb snack that may be worth trying. Or it might taste like cardboard.
4.) Peanut butter - Yum, protein.
5.) Body lube - Don't laugh. You will need it, especially if it's hot. Otherwise your body parts will rub together and you will chaff or even bleed. Don't let this happen to you.
6.) Race number - A nice memento.
7.) Shaving oil - They promote non-chaffing, also no nicks or cuts.
8.) Anti-fungal cream - Itchy foot happens.
9.) Lotion - My boyfriend calls Utterly smooth, "Boob creme." It it works for cows utters, it must work for humans too.
10.) Vaska laundry detergent - Promoting green laundry. Not green like the color. Green, laundry.

Oh, and of course the race t-shirt. They usually give a free cotton shirt. Sometimes, for a price, you can upgrade to a technical t-shirt that will keep you cooler and wick sweat away from your body. For an extra $6 it's much more comfortable than exercising in cotton.

Thanks for LK for the post idea!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I Love Trail Running

Some of my trail running buddies and I at Summit Rock, December 2011. Our next outing is the Coyote Hills Run this Saturday.

I love trail running because the races start at 9:00am, not 7:00am.

The End.


Ok, seriously that is the only reason I love trail running but, I have many reasons to like it too:

1.) Running where God intended is a very holistic experience. There are plants, animals, bugs, snakes, and dirt!

2.) Mini Vacay! I live in the city (ok, the burbs, but whatever), so any opportunity to go out in the country, forest, desert is literally a breath of fresh air. I always find myself thinking - "Wow! I can't believe I'm only 30 minutes from home!"

3.) It's an awesome opportunity to break in those new running shoes and get them a little dusty. Don't be blinded by your new super-white running gear. Get it dirty!

4.) While we are on the subject of gear - trail runners wear the most awesome outfits, especially in the winter time. Short shorts with a bright stocking cap, because keeping your head warm is more important that keeping your legs warm. I also love gloves! Because keeping your hands warm is more important than keeping your arms warm. Makes perfect sense.

5.) Falling (can be) fun! I fell twice on the downhill of my last trail race in December, and honestly I took it as a badge of honor. My nose dive really freaked out a few runners still making their way up the hill. Luckily I landed and was able to get right back up with no broken bones. Be careful though; bones can easily be broken, and ankles sprained. Which leads me to . . .

6.) Running fast is not necessary, and even a little stupid. The point is to maintain on the hills, not to get up them as fast as possible. Hiking is even an acceptable form of 'running.' Take your time, or you will break yourself, especially around switchbacks. "If you can't see the top. Walk." (Born to Run)

7.) Trail running is the perfect opportunity to listen to your heart. Understanding your heart rate and having the ability to maintain a high rate is really difficult. Your heart may be going crazy, but your legs are moving at a snails pace. That is normal! Totally different kind of threshold that anything I'm used to in a road race.

8.) Trail running is great because you are completely out of control. Other than setting a treadmill to 1.0, I dread anything called a "hill workout." Nothing bugs like a running articles that suggest you "Find a hill that's at a blah blah% grade..." I have no idea what a grade is, really. I despise measuring, but if the only place to go is up, I'm game.

Did I mention races start later in the morning? They don't have to shut down city streets, so they don't have to start the race at the crack of dawn. Girl really likes her sleep!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Exercise Myth: The Workout Buddy

The Kaiser Permanente Thrive! campaign, like many other health and wellness magazines, encourages the buddy system as motivation to exercise. Is depending on another busy, over-scheduled, lazy, or even downright flaky friend of yours really going to get you to the gym? So far, I'm probably 0 for 23 on any kind of long-term buddy system and have been both the culprit and the victim of workout buddy demise. I can't tell you how many times someone said, "Oh you run? We should go running sometime. . ." never to hear from them again.

We've all been in situations where our workout buddy doesn't show up, and it's usually our first reaction to want to leave, right? Having a workout buddy would be awesome, but it seems impractical to put your goals in the hands of one other person, who is probably just as busy (no-show) as you are.

Here are some buddy personalities:

Beware of this buddy, who may pull you away from your workout goals by saying things like, "I'm ready to go, are you?" You will not be ready to go, but you won't want your friend to wait around for you . . . so you will get out of the zone, stop what you are doing, and possibly go out for ice cream or a drink because, "You deserve it!"

This person will lead you to believe that they want to work out with you, but they just don't have any time. Alternate situation: This person has a child, and their schedule is not their own. After a few failed connections, you will give up on each other.

Beware of the no-show buddy. Unfortunately this person didn't have any true intentions of working out with you anyway, or they are too ashamed to admit that they are scared to try. They will try to act like the Over-Scheduled Buddy, but they are not really that busy.

Characteristics of this buddy include: being a social butterfly, bringing a mobile phone to work out, or talking to you loudly while you're trying to kick it up on the treadmill. They will get you into interesting conversation, or at least get you to slow down your pace so you can respond to that thing like their girlfriend said that was like totally like crazy n' stuff.

This buddy will say things like, "Just 20 more push-ups, a mile, and then I'm ready to go!" This buddy may discourage you, unless you allow each other to meet up then do your own activities. If you want someone to 'make' you work out, hire a trainer.

This buddy is good looking and you want to impress them. There is no way you are going to sweat in their presence. I went to the gym on a date once. Awkward.

I've been taking yoga classes once a week for the past month. My friend, Monica, signed up for a great Groupon deal to take classes at a highly regarded yoga studio in Los Gatos, and she passed the deal on to a few friends. For the past month, Monica and I have been yoga buddies. Kind of. We've actually only made it to one class together, although we've both been taking classes on our own. Except for the first week, our schedules just don't seem to link up. Last week, I was caught in the first California winter rain of 2012 during the commute home. I gave Monica a heads up call/text but assumed she was already in the studio without her phone. She did the class without me. Last night my yoga buddy had a change of plans, and decided to miss yoga and go out to dinner with a friend who was visiting from out of town. I went to the class without her.

In order to make the buddy system work, you have to be a joiner (or a follower . . . whatever works!). Don't have a workout buddy (singular). You need buddies (plural). My tactic is to be the over-scheduled buddy, and find groups of others who are just as over-scheduled as I am. This way, you always have someone you can meet up with. Monica got me involved with the studio (Thanks, buddy!), but now my buddies are 50 other bendy strangers.

What it boils down to is - YOU. It's great to get started with a group, but if you can't/won't go out into the exercise kingdom alone, your journey will probably not last very long. I apologize in advance for referencing the Biggest Loser (horrible show, but highly addictive). The contestants who get to stay on the ranch the longest are those who are ultimately working the hardest on their own. When voting people out, there is always one person who cries, "I can't do this alone at home! I need to be here." That crybaby never wins. If you can't motivate yourself, or if you are dependent upon Bob to motivate you on the ranch, you will eventually get kicked off the ranch.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Be Smooth: AZ Run Results

If you are looking for an excuse to run in costume, the Rock N' Roll series accepts you.

These Rock N' Roll series runs are extremely popular. The Expo was at the Phoenix Convention Center, where the packet pickup lines had runners numbered 1 through 40,000 (I believe). 40,000 runners in one race! Wow! There were over 26 corrals, 7 UPS trucks for the marathon gear drop, and a whopping 32 UPS trucks for the half marathon gear drop. That's a lot of gear!

If you've never run a marathon or half before, and are intimidated because you think people will win and you will lose (which is silly anyway) - consider one of these. They are really fun - many people with many different goals and fitness levels.

Back to the point.

My PR goal was reached this weekend at the Arizona Rock N' Roll half marathon, although about 10 minutes faster than expected. 01:57:35

I most likely reported my best half marathon time when I registered, so I was placed in corral 3. I definitely should have been in corral 6, but I'm not going to complain about being closer to the start line. During the first 3 miles, I kept my gait slow and steady and let probably 2,000 people pass me. People-watching from the front is one thing, but from the back is also quite interesting - mostly I'm obsessed with others running form. Some people tread lightly, others stomp, some knees knock together, some feet shoot out like ducks. All of these people, out early in the morning, trying to accomplish something wonderful. The greatest thing about runners is we come in all shapes and sizes. Just because someone doesn't look like an athlete or they decided to wear their pajamas to the race, doesn't mean they can't pass you.

I stopped about 4 of the 6 aid stations, and when I say stop. Yes, I took a breather behind the line of water volunteers and tables. Just for a second. Then, I'd look out for other runners, and jot off.Big feat for the race. I stopped at the facilities at mile 7. I didn't really have to go, but I never had the courage to do it before. So, I did. Probably another 200 people passed me. I didn't care.

Mile 7 is when I tend to feel really awesome! So, I picked up the pace and saw some of the people who passed me while I was indisposed. That's when I knew I just wanted to be done. Mile 8 through 10 were fantastic. At mile 10 I passed a woman running with her coach. Her coach was motivating her to keep to her pace and end goal of 1 hour 55 minutes. I yelled a bit of encouragement to her as I passed. It occurred to me then that I could probably run my slowest ever and still finish in under 2 hours. So, I gently pushed the last 2 miles.

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast," is a phrase I learned from a friend of mine who spent time in the Air Force. Although it refers mostly to shooting, racing is also all about smooth. Another friend of mine turned me on to Go online and watch Mr. Smooth on your computer screen - watching him is quite calming. The point is, the more comfortable you are, the faster your body will allow you to move. The second you try and rush, the more at risk you are to make mistakes (slowing down, giving up, or causing injury). On the other hand, if you go too slow, you are dead in the water. In the military, you would literally be dead.

The race this weekend taught me a lot about my personal threshold. I was astounded what I could do when I really put more effort into enjoying myself rather than pushing myself. Instead of giving myself permission to slow down, I really just gave myself permission to be smooth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Different Kind of PR

PR = Personal Record

When human beings give up the desire to set personal records is when our race will fail. This good-enough, halfway-there, whatever attitude can make ne'er-do-wells out of us if the attitude persists too long. Those who strive to achieve more at work are always conflicted by that minimal ner-do-well that gets by on doing as little as possible. It is a constant struggle to improve ourselves when we are surrounded by others who continue to do exactly the same damn thing they've been doing for years. "Why am I working so damned hard?"

However, being good-enough also can give us an occasional reprieve from the struggle to be perfect. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to take it easy. Of course this should be a calculated decision. Please if you are a tax accountant, don't get lazy during tax season! (Thanks!)

This Sunday, I'm running the Arizona Rock N' Roll half marathon. At the beginning of November, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a January half, so I could stay in shape through December. This wasn't the greatest idea; I'm not doing too badly, but I am really in no condition to push myself in a half marathon. I had to give myself permission to get lazy this winter.

Not to worry though: I am using this opportunity to set a new PR for myself this weekend! This will personally be my most fun, most mentally challenging, and slowest run ever. Instead of beating my PR fastest, I will force myself to slow down and achieve my PR slowest. This will be difficult because I tend to get competitive with myself (and maybe that girl with a similar build running in front of me... *catch her, catch her*). But for this race the challenge will be, not to run faster, but to force myself to run slower and longer. In fact, I am hoping to complete the Arizona R&R in at least 2 hours and 10 minutes, if not more. I will walk if I want to. I will stop at every aid station. I will succeed and be proud!

Plenty more PRs to come this year!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

When life hands you Luon, make Lululemon Koolaid.

My bathroom, aka Lululemon drying rack.

The first time I saw Lululemon, the trendy yoga/running clothing brand made with Luon (their patented moisture-wicking material), I thought it was silly. Working out is no time to be setting fashion trends. Who likes to perk up their breasts and booty during a workout? And who pays $100 for a pair of pants that you sweat in? These people are clearly posers who aren't interested in actual exercise. These are people on the crazy train who join gyms to meet men, or believe that those shoes with the rounded soles actually make your butt look better by simply wearing them to the grocery store.

Then I drank the Lululemon Koolaid. I went into the store, picked up a pair of basic black running shorts, the sales girl wrote my name on the dressing room door, I decided that I've never worn shorts so short that make my legs look amazing, paid my $85, and went home excited to try them out. When I told my then-roommate what I'd done, she asked, "$85?! Are those shorts also going to make you a sammich?!" To which, we began to call the shorts the "sammich-making shorts." Three years later, the shorts are slightly stretched and faded, but I still get a little angry when they end up in the dryer. Point is, the $85 has served me well.

Now my collection of Lululemon clothing has expanded, although I still wear whatever I want. (I'm not a total brand whore.) Besides, LLL is great for yoga and running, but they don't make tri gear or biking gear so I go with other brands for that. I go to a rather "trendy" gym, but I never thought I was one of those "trendy" people at the gym. LLL just helped me fit in slightly better at the gym, but there was no way I was going to wear it from head to toe with a matching bag, matching yoga mat, matching jacket (you get the point). Plus, I was actually sweating in the clothes, and taking full advantage of the comfortable materials. I'm not a poser at all. . . right?

*glug, glug, glug, ahhhhh*

This past week, I went to a yoga studio for the first time. (Thank you, Groupon!) I've never been to a real yoga studio; I've only taken yoga classes at the gym. Heaven forbid - I'd never seen so much Lulu Lemon in my entire life. It actually made me a little ashamed to fit in with the yogi/dancer/pretty girl/Los Gatos Housewives culture. It was shocking to me - I consider myself a jock, and less of a "cute" girl. My opinions of what a cute yogi girl definitely changed about 30 minutes into a 90-minute, heated, power yoga session. Some of these ladies and men were actually in full yoga positions, which I had never seen before. So, they were also putting their Luon to good use. Maybe I judged to harshly, and there is something to wearing something a little more trendy/sexy to the gym. Dancers are real athletes, and they wear really sexy clothing.

My endorsement of Lulu Lemon is thus, only a suggestion for a good clothing brand to try. I like it. It's not the greatest thing ever, and it probably doesn't work for everyone. I tried one of their shirts with a side slit, and when I saw that the material was squeezing out a muffin-side, I realized that not everything there looks great on me either. But, I have found some good essential pieces.

LLL has been boycotted by some, because they clearly cater to particular sizes. My friend Kim said, "I boycott Lulu because their sizes don't support big boobies. I actually emailed them last week about it and they sent me some dumb email basically will get email back saying due to the large volume of emails... mine would be junked."

You ladies with the big boobs certainly have license to be irritated, and should continue to complain - I agree they should expand their sizing chart. There is no reason why you can't enjoy the styles as much as I have. This goes for short people as well. Let's just say their "cropped" pants are long pants on me. Apparently they have alterations!! (I haven't done this - yet. Don't judge!) So, yes, their clothes are made for 6', 115-150 pound Canadians (It's a Canadian company).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here's to you, Bucket Listers!

"I want to run a marathon before I'm 30."

"I want to lose 15 pounds before my wedding."

The One-Time Marathoner

You want to try out some rigorous form of exercise before life catches up with you and you are either too busy, or your body is "too old". Or maybe you lost a loved one and want to raise money in their honor. Fine. I'm sure there are plenty of people who do an extreme event once, hate it, and hang up the running shoes. (My wetsuit was given to me by a woman who did the ocean swim once, and swears she is finished with the kelp crawl.) But, do you really want to be in the best shape of your life and say, "Oh that was fun being fit and feeling pretty fantastic, but I'd like to go back to eating potato chips now..."?

If you didn't like the event, didn't you at least like the way it made you feel? The rush, the sense of accomplishment, the camaraderie with friends? It makes me sad to think that for many, it stops there. They cross it off of their bucket list and never try to get back to feeling good again. Sure, we all have our ups and downs with fitness and laziness - but why go back the lazy way for good? By the way, they say runners who maintain some distance during their 30's through 50's have a health peak way above others in their age group, especially at the age of 60! (Has anyone else read the book Born to Run?)

Finally, charities will continue to need contributions, so you can keep giving back to the memory of your beloved sister, aunt, father-in-law, or friend year after year. Sure, you can write a check. I ran the San Jose Rock N' Roll half marathon two years ago. Many people run it because it's a relatively easy/flat course for first-timers or those who want a personal record. I remember watching people cross the finish line with pictures of their loved ones, just absolutely in tears. You know what struck me the most - they were tears of joy, not of loss. They finished a 13 mile race, and they felt JOY. Not pain.

The Soon-To-Be Bride
Here's where people really start to hate me.

The Man: "She looked the most beautiful on our wedding day,"

What I'm thinking: "That's because she killed herself with diet and exercise for 6 months, but stopped as soon as the wedding was over. Good thing she has a stunning personality. Your wedding photos look great, by the way."

Ladies, ladies. I know there is a societal pressure to look flawless on your big day, but doesn't your fiance/husband, friends, and family already love who you are already? Your fiance/husband, friends, and family obviously love who you are already. There are plenty of designers who can make a dress look flattering on you. And photographers can Photoshop you to flawless perfection. If you are going to exercise and/or lose weight before the wedding, and it made you feel beautiful - why not keep it up?

Oh, I know why. It's the same reason I've not yet committed to a real diet. Exercise makes me feel great, but giving up cheese and fat makes me sad. The problem with giving things up is - you can't just give them up for awhile... You have to give them up... (cue the scary music).... FOREVER.

I feel sorry for the men who married that sexy minx in a white dress and perfectly coiffed hair, and will never get to see her looking (or feeling) so fabulous again.

So, here's to all of you bucket listers! Why the time constraint? Distance training and dieting is a huge commitment for only a one-day event.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why Blog Now?

When a new millionaire comes to Patty Stanger looking love, the Millionaire Matchmaker often asks them, "Why love now? Out of all of the times in your life, why choose today?"

Here's my answer to the million dollar question, "Why blog now?"

I recently changed careers from arts administration to executive assisting for a venture capital firm. I love the new position, but I need something to keep my creative juices flowing. When I was interviewing for new jobs, I was convinced that all experiences are valid experiences, and more than not, everything tends to relate to everything. I've found this with personal health/exercise as well - exercise relates to art, business, academia, love, pop culture, upcoming Presidential elections, etc. I'd like a forum to talk about these relationships. I also just bought myself a new Macbook Air for Christmas.

Answers to other questions you may ask yourself about my blog:

1) Why should I read you? Well, obviously you don't have to read this. But, I do know a thing or two about physical fitness: I was a high school sprinter, turned lazy, turned distance runner in my mid-20's. I've completed 6 half marathons, quite a few other running races, bought a bike when I was 30, and taught myself how to swim at 32. I like yoga, suspension training, spinning, and am hooked on a feeling if you get my drift.

2) Are you a certified trainer? No. I'm not. I'm thinking about it.

3) But everyone has a blog now. Blogs are so 10 years ago. Why don't you just post on Facebook? I agree the idea of starting a blog now is maybe a little outdated. I'm not expecting a book deal or trying to be Carrie Bradshaw. I just want to write! If I posted everything I was doing on Facebook in detail, it would be too long, and it would take up your news feed. Then you'd coin me "one of those people." Now I'm one of those other people.

4) What happened to your old blog? (For the 5 of you who knew I had one.) The old blog is still there with stories about serial (aka "cereal") dating, and writing my master's thesis. This blog will focus on fitness, exercise, fun physical events first, then relate to other happenings.

5) Are you going to Tweet? No.

6) Is this your page layout? It's pretty pathetic. I know, I'm working on it.

7) What is the background picture? It's a picture of my first half marathon - Marathon to Marathon - near Marathon, Iowa in June of 2007. A friend asked me if I wanted to run a marathon before I was 30, and I said, "No, but I'll do two halves!" I went to Iowa to run the first, and she came to California to run the second that fall. Who says Iowa isn't a pretty state?

8) Are you interested in co-authors? YES! If you are currently blogging about your fitness goals, please let me know. Let's collaborate. Also, if you are doing an event to raise money for charity, let me know and I'll add your donation page to my blog. That would be awesome.

So, check your tire pressure, affix your swim goggles, and lace up those running shoes. Away we go!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This is Not a New Year's Resolution

The winter writing muse is fluttering about with her bike grease-smudged wings, wearing a swim cap and goggles, and pink running shoes. She yells at me like a drill sergeant on my shoulder to remind me that the winter holidays are now over, and my life routine will resume as normal. For the next month, I will drag my lazy bones to the gym/track/pool/road to get that five to seven winter pounds off of my gut before I really kick it into gear for the year.

Make no mistake; writing this post is a resolution, yes. (I'd like to write more.) But this is not a New Year's Resolution. NYR's don't work, and I would rather not put it into that category. Resolution making comes when you need it most, even sometimes out of desperation. 2011 was a rather tumultuous time in my life (as it was for many others), and especially around June, I found myself supremely unhappy and hopeless. The only thing I could do to control my emotions was to control my endorphins. My friends, including an awesome group of staff members at my work encouraged me to take fitness to the next level and complete a triathlon. I am forever changed - geez, I don't know where I would be if I hadn't made that mid-summer resolution. That one event changed my outlook on life a lot, and probably helped me reinvent myself in other ways as well.

Instead of making fruitless resolutions, I am already committed to a very sporty 2012! My commitment includes two half marathons, two triathlons, and a swim relay across Lake Tahoe (wetsuits not permitted!!). My writing goals are to chronicle both accomplishments and disappointments, bust really ridiculous exercise myths, laugh at people who wear running skirts, and start meaningful conversations.