Thursday, September 27, 2007

Real Men Wear Kilts


I thought I was being eccentric by wearing a skort to race, but check out (well, I take that term back... just look at) these alternative running bottoms.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lentil Cookies

I recently received a sub-batch of these (using cranberries and omitting coconut) from a friend, and I thought I'd share because they supposedly have 10 grams of protein per 2 cookies (they aren't big, so that's pretty darn good).

These are soft, a tad dense, but not too sweet. Very good post-run snack.

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From the Food Network Show: Good Eats

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 4 1/2 dozen

Ingredients:

9 1/2 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour, approximately 2 cups*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
8 ounces sugar, approximately
1 cup 6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, approximately 3/4 cup
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
3 1/2 ounces rolled oats, approximately 1 cup
4 ounces dried fruit, approximately 1 cup
2 1/4 ounces unsweetened dried shredded coconut, approximately 1 cup

*Cook's Note: If desired, a quarter of the whole-wheat flour can be substituted with lentil flour for a denser, stronger flavored cookie Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer with a whisk attachment, cream together the sugar and butter on medium speed. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated. Add the vanilla and lentil puree and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and blend on low speed until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the oats, dried fruit and coconut.

Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving about 1-inch of room in between. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 195 degrees F is reached on an instant-read thermometer.

Lentil Puree:

4 ounces lentils, approximately 2/3 cup, picked over and rinsed
2 cups water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool. The puree may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups lentil puree

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Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_35628,00.html

Peanut Butter!

Sadly, I can get through a jar of this in a week and a half. Peanut butter has such a bad reputation. People complain that it's fatty and addictive.

Yes, peanut butter has 16 grams of fat per 2 tablespoon serving, but it's monosaturated, aka "good" fat. Also in that same serving, you get 7-8 grams of muscle-building vegetarian protein and good satiety.

I wouldn't recommend eating this too close to a run, but it's a great post-run snack when combined with whole grain breads, fruit, or vegetables. Maybe even out of the jar.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

JanSport Fifth Avenue II Fanny Pack

Geez, the words "fanny pack" don't sound cool at all, and believe me, wearing one is certainly not cool, either.

However, I had to give myself a bigger butt than usual wearing this because a few weeks ago, someone took my water bottle while I was doing a long run. I had hidden it behind a tree, and when I came back for it around mile 6 (of 10), it was gone. Defeated, I had to cut my run short.

I picked this up at Sport Chalet. I am a fan of JanSport because I used to envy all the kids who had JanSport backpacks that seemed to last forever and ever without breaking (plus they looked cool), while my ghetto, un-cute, boyish, hand-me-down Chinatown backpacks would develop holes that would have to be sewn up over and over again. On that note, don't get me started on "Adidos" items...

Anyway, now that I am older, there was some glee associated with the purchase of a JanSport item. I was finally able to give this a spin this morning on an 11-mile run, and I think it served its purpose, keeping my cell phone, mace, iPod, and water bottle with me the whole time without a significant effect on running. I'd say the only noticeable things were a slight noise from the zippers, pre-chafing because I didn't bother to adjust it properly (it was 6 am...), and slight up-and-down movement that also might be related to improper adjustment.

It is VERY nice to be able to drink water when I want. I'm sure it will also come in handy on longer runs when gels and such are needed. Still, I must say that this morning's 60-degree weather shrank my need for water significantly. It was just a very nice run in very nice weather.

Another upside to having an expanded butt is that I look even more atrocious on the road, which might decrease my need for mace. (I'm not taking any chances, though.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Update on My Nike+ iPod Sport Kit

This was a strange (ongoing) sequence of events...

When I crossed the finish line at the Nike Run Hit Remix on Saturday, I stopped the clock on my Nike+ iPod thing. I briefly noticed a small red symbol in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, but I thought that it was just an indicator that I was on a 5-mile course.

A few days later, I was checking to see what the kit had recorded my race time to be, which was when I saw a "Sensor: Low Battery" message. I Google-d a bit and discovered that this message appears when about 2 weeks of battery life remain in the sensor (the red oval piece).

NOOOOOOOO, I thought. The battery is not replaceable, meaning I'd have to fork another $30 for a new kit. But wait... it's Apple... don't they have good customer service and a one-year warranty on all their products?

I had to fax in documentation of my purchase in order to change my warranty period, but all went well, and I'm receiving a replacement in the mail soon. Upon receipt, I have 10 days to send the "defective" product. (Praise: I can keep the kit until my replacement comes... very nice of them to not make me do without it while waiting.)

What qualifies it as "defective?" Well, the battery is supposed to last about 3 years, or 1,000 miles. Clearly, at a bit over 250 miles, I was supposed to get a lot more life out of that sensor. Hopefully all goes well, in which case, I owe Apple a huge thanks.

I posted this as sort of a warning to the owners or prospective owners of this kit. You may have to deal with such inconveniences, but I still think it's totally worth it. Even if I had to buy a new kit, I still like the audio feedback, which is something that Garmin would not be able to offer. Not that I have anything against Garmin, but to carry another piece of equipment when I run turns me off big time.

UPDATE: The new kit came the next day via DHL Express. I packed up my old one to return in the same box. The replacement kit works fine, and actually is pretty accurate without calibration. Of course, I will eventually need to do it, though. Yay Apple!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lance Armstrong Foundation

I am briefly posting this link as an attempt to get people to sponsor me for the half-marathon I'm doing next month.

I figure it's better to try than not. Every little effort counts.

I chose the Lance Armstrong Foundation because a close friend of mine lost a parent to cancer a few months ago. This charity helps those affected by cancer to life the best life possible through education and attitude alignment.

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Link: http://www.active.com/donate/laf07/nobel4lit

Nike Run Hit Remix (2007)

EVENT: Nike Run Hit Remix
DATE: Saturday, September 15, 2007
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 9:00 am
FINISH TIME: 45:55 (gun); 44:58 (unofficial Nike+ time)


NOTE: The "Start" mat failed to work, so the "gun" time above is my time assuming I was at the front of the line. Of course, there was a gap between the gun and when I actually crossed the start line, thus beginning my timing. Luckily, I used my Nike+ kit pretty adeptly during the event, so I actually have a more accurate (though still not the best) time to report.

HALF-SPLIT: 23:30, meaning second 2.5 miles done in 22.25

Oh well, I shouldn't be obsessing about such small things anyway.

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I have attended two of these Nike runs before, though only as a spectator. The former 10k distance of the race seemed daunting before I took up running as a hobby. So I would join my other non-running sisters for breakfast once the race started and finished before the race's end.

No more of that. The only breakfast I wanted was the runners' post-race breakfast. So I joined my sister's co-worker's team and continued training on the half-marathon program I was already on, although I did back off a bit during the week of this race in order to stay as fresh as possible.

The packet pick-up was at various locations at various times, but we chose to get ours a week prior to the race at a Sport Chalet. There, we obtained our PERFECT shirts and free samples of Jamba Juice. I was also convinced by a Nike+ shoe guy that I should see if Nike shoes will work for me, since I had always thought they were meant for more narrow feet.

Now onto the race:

After a long wait, the race began with Blu Cantrell singing the national anthem and "Hit 'Em Up Style." I started off just making sure I didn't get burned by too many people. Finished mile 1 in about 9 minutes. Same for mile 2. By then, I was starting to feel tired and overheated (it was probably approaching 76-80 degrees by then). Not accustomed to running sub 10-minute miles for that long, I thought about walking so many times. We turned around, so most of the remainder of the race brought on the same sights and bands. I passed Naughty by Nature, The Sugar Hill Gang, Dawn from En Vogue, and finally, at mile 4, Sir Mix-a-Lot. The Three Runner-teers: I am the one on the right.

At this point, I was getting a stomach ache, although I hadn't eaten that morning. I was hunched over and badly wanting to walk, but I pushed on and just slowed down on and off. Finally, I hit the coliseum, where the downhill slope sent me rolling toward the finish line. The clock said 45:55 when I crossed the line.

Regardless of what that equates to in official time, I am happy that I (at least) met my 45-minute goal. It seemed a bit lofty to me beforehand, since this was my first short race. Short races are scary because the strategy is quite different... it's not just running as slow as necessary to get to the finish. There was actually some pride involved here, since I think I expected to do well because of all the running I've been doing.

Post race, we were treated to Jamba Juice (Nike Protein Berry Workout), numerous pastries, pancakes, fruit, sandwiches, yogurt, oatmeal, and even ice cream bars and beer. I stuck to most of a banana, half a mini Clif bar, some yogurt, fruit, and pickings of the pastries. I was so sick from cramming the banana down so quickly that everything else did not settle well, or else I could have eaten a LOT more. I didn't even have any muffins, scones, or crusts of peanut butter sandwiches.

This race has inspired me to keep training for the half-marathon I have next month. I really want to PR, so that means I need to train harder and take better care of myself in the process. I also hope to obtain a good visor by then. Running without one today was not the best move.

Nike Dri-Fit Feather Light Visor

Swoosh!!

I first knew of the existence of this visor while picking up a race packet at Sport Chalet. However, they did not have a black one, and knowing how I like to wear green, the blue and pink ones abound were not going to cut it.

Upon trying it on, I noted how light it was compared to generic visors I've worn previously. Also, the moisture-wicking Dri-Fit material seemed alluring.

I called many places and drove around looking for this, until I finally came upon one at A Snail's Pace. I happily swooped one up for $18, which sounds steep for a hat, but hey, it's Nike.

I wore this on an outdoor run today. I was supposed to do 8 miles, but I stopped after 5.5 because I didn't want to be in the heat anymore. My hair did not poof up like a souffle like usual, and it was indeed light. Plus, I felt really cool with the swoosh on my forehead.

I washed this in warm water like the care instructions said, and it seems fine to use for another day. All in all, totally worth everything. I could have used this during the race to shade my face from the burning sun...

The Nike website has this hat, for those who want to shell out extra for shipping and don't want to go on a quest for it like I did.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nike Personal Best Knit Acceleration Short - Womens

I bought a pair of these Nike shorts over the weekend at a Sport Chalet while I was there picking up a race packet. This is about the most high tech and expensive pair of shorts I had ever bought. I have always just thrown on any old pair of shorts but I thought I would test these out and see if they are any better. I actually got this because I was looking for a pair of shorts with the hidden key pocket to hold your key(s)s while you ran. Up to now, I had been tying my car/house key to my shoelaces. Not the most comfortable feeling as I was always worried that I would lose the key during my run. I must say that these shorts look very cool. I got a black/dark grayish pair in an XS. I think Nike clothes run a bit bigger because I normally wear a small. It fits nice, not too loose and not too tight. I have copied and pasted some specs on these shorts below. Wore these for the first time today doing the Nike Run Hit Remix in LA and I really liked it. It kept my skin dry, didn't ride up, and no chafing of any kind. Really comfortable shorts. I have no regrets buying it. Plus, my key was safe and sound after the run.

Price: $38.00 (on sale at nike.com for $30 women sizees M-XL only)

Inner drawstring on the waistband for easy adjustment Mesh insets provide ventilation in heat zones Dri-FIT breathes and wicks sweat away from the skin Origami mesh pocket provides easy storage 3.5" inseam Fabric: Body: Dri-FIT 88% polyester/12% spandex plain jersey Mesh inset: Dri-FIT 80% polyester/20% spandex circular knit mesh Item: 5-207693


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Unique 9/11 Tribute

I found this in this morning's local newspaper (San Gabriel Valley Tribune).

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Marathon helps bond troops, Afghans
By Alison Hewitt Staff Writer

SAN DIMAS - When Army 1st Lt. Amanda Wilson crossed the finish line Tuesday to win a marathon in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, it was both an echo of and a long way from her cross-country racing days at South Hills High School.

The San Dimas resident organized the Sept. 11 memorial races on her Army base to honor fallen comrades, but also to build morale among her fellow soldiers and neighboring Afghans.

Ninety people joined the race run inside the base perimeter to keep safe from enemy attacks.

Twelve of the competitors were Afghans, including four interpreters, Wilson said.

"When I had my interpreter running side by side with me, it made me realize how far we have come," she wrote in an e-mail interview from Jalalabad at the end of the race.

The Afghans who ran congratulated the U.S. soldiers, she added.

"For the first time, we all felt like one team," Wilson said.

Contributions from donors in the San Gabriel Valley paid for racing numbers that competitors pinned to their shirts, as well as medals, T-shirts, tote bags, sports snacks and more.

Wilson's mother, Donna, took charge of fundraising, blasting past the $1,000 goal to bring in $2,600.

"Running is just such a big part of her life," Donna Wilson said. "Because it's always been such a passion for her, she tries to pass that on."

The day's events included team races and an individual marathon, which Amanda Wilson won in 108-degree heat.

"So 65 laps," she said. "And boy was it hot!"

For several years now, Wilson has run in a marathon every year, including one in Germany. She said she would like to organize another one next year - with one caveat.

"Hopefully, not in Afghanistan," she said. "I think Germany is a more suitable climate."

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Link: http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_6865730

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Propel Fitness Water Powder Packets

And now for something new. I recently asked Julie if I could review some products on her site and she agreed. So this is the first of the guest reviews.

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I got a sample of this powder in the Nike Run Remix race packet that I picked up over the weekend. It is the berry flavor one. It also comes in lime/lemon flavor. I read somewhere that Walmart is selling a box of 10 packets for $2.96. I have not personally seen them there myself for this price but I wasn't looking for them. I have heard that this item may be difficult to locate, so if you come upon this somewhere for a good price, please feel free to share. I like the idea of this product because they are portable. Propel fitness water is really refreshing, but I think it is only good for replenishments after short runs. I tested this out on a 5-miler yesterday and it was quite refreshing after my run. You just open the packet and pour into a 16.9 oz bottle of water and shake it up. It starts out kinda pink but eventually ends up clear if you shake enough. It is best cold, not so good when it has been sitting out for a while. I must say that it is very similar to the premade Propel water. All-in-all it was good, I may pick up a box if I happen to see them in a store but I will not be going out to look for them specifically.



Nike Protein Berry Workout

Jamba Juice, a place that causes pure addictions through their nutritional smoothies, has renamed their Berry Protein Pizzazz to the Nike Protein Berry Workout. Available in both whey and soy (my choice) varieties, you can drink this after a workout for muscle recovery! They come in at about 280, 420, and 530 calories for the small, medium, and large sizes, respectively.

I got to try a sample (or many samples, depending on who you ask) of this while picking up my race packet the other day. It has a predominant banana flavor as well as a good shot of strawberry. Since this is my favorite smoothie combination (Matcha Green Tea Mist/Blast is a very close second), I'm glad it now has the Nike name associated with it! (The picture below is not of the said smoothie, but you get the point.)

Straight for their site:


Power this smoothie down before or after your workout to help build muscles and promote cell growth. An Original sized smoothie is packed with 19 grams of protein, as well as healthy helpings of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins C & D. It's a classic, all pumped up. Made with soy protein, a vegan protein derived from soybeans.

Ingredients: Soymilk (Contains Soy) [Water, Brown Rice Sweetener (Filtered Water, Brown Rice), Soy Base (Filtered Water, Organic Soybeans), Natural Cane Juice Sweetener, Isolated Soy Protein, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Vanilla Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Vitamin D2, Carrageenan], Frozen Strawberries, Frozen Bananas [Frozen Bananas, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and/or Citric Acid], Ice, Soy Protein Boost (Contains Soy) (Soy Protein Isolate, Lecithin).


Try one for yourself!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Squats

If your thighs are burning, and you haven't been running, you must be doing a squat (come on, laugh at my attempt at a joke).

As part of my regimen, I attend a circuit-type class called FitMoves once a week in which we often have to do many (many) squats.

Upon telling this to my friend, she asked, "But don't squats make your legs big?"

"I don't know," I said, keeping a mental note to ask the people who are telling me to do them whether that is true. I still did them anyway, thinking that my thighs are so huge that they really can't get any bigger unless I suddenly ate a truckful of muffins or started on a steroid cocktail.

But before I had a chance to ask such an embarrassing question, I stumbled upon this really cool site. It is called Stumptuous and is basically a guide for women to weight train. Among its many useful pages is one regarding myths about squats and how to do them properly.

The take-home message I got from the squat page was this: I should keep doing them! Endurance athletes tend to have more trouble with squats, but they can also help with endurance. Plus, I will take the bonus of improving my balance.

The site had another page on how to work up to pull-ups. I have been working on this and am glad to know I'm doing it correctly. It won't be long now...

Link: http://stumptuous.com/cms/displayarticle.php?aid=52

It's Hip to Flex

Each month, I seem to develop a new pain related to running that keeps me from doing as well as I hope. Sometimes it's a busted toe, shin splint, sore quad, or weak ankles. This time, it's a pair of sore hip-flexors.

Why is this bad? My subjective experience is that a sore hip-flexor (I call it the area where your leg connects to the rest of your body) forces a short stride. No good. Time to stretch.

Pictured here are variations of a lunging stretch that is said to loosen up in that area. However, be careful not to overdo the stretch, as I'm sure this can cause injury.

I will be doing this myself over this week in preparation for my next race (which you will hear about early next week).

P.S. Might I add the rule about stretching: after cool-down only, not as a warm-up.



Links:

http://www.exrx.net/Stretches/HipFlexors/KneelingHipFlexor.html
http://www.pccoach.com/newsletters/May05/stretching.htm

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New iPod

(I WISH this was under the "Gear" category, but alas, I do not own one of these...)

So just when I thought I was set with my gear, a new iPod came out yesterday. I don't think it's very attractive, but look at how much more fancy the Nike+ thing works on it. However, $199 for 8 GB sounds VERY sweet ($149 for the 4 GB, which is what I paid for my refurbished 2nd Generation Nano). Wi-Fi capability is nice, also, though I don't think it will automatically sync your run data onto the Nike website. Now if it did....



No, I'm not going to jump on this bandwagon... yet. I would much rather upgrade the Nike+ itself to keep track of things such as intervals and heart rate.

Link: http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/run.html

Sunday, September 2, 2007

1000 Miles

This morning at around 6:45 AM, I ran my thousandth (estimated) mile since I decided to take on distance running about 1.5 years ago. I'm sure this milestone (heh, no pun intended) would have come sooner, but laziness... and life... happens.

Does anybody else have that Vanessa Carlton song ("A Thousand Miles") or Moby's "Thousand" stuck in their head?

Okay, enough of this strangeness. It's 9 AM, and I am obviously up too early.