Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NOVA Marathon Challenge

Update:

I just finished watching the program described below. I thought it was a very inspiring piece, though it made marathoning seem scarier than it usually is. My favorite part was one of the team member's (Steve) statement that he went for the challenge because it was so ridiculous that it's "intriguing."

The segment featured 12 people who rarely exercised and put them on a 9-month (yikes!) training program to run the Boston Marathon. Many of them had other issues besides being sedentary, such as stress fractures, previous heart attack, obesity (common), and even a guy with HIV. Obviously, they had their struggles. I thought it was cool how they talked about some of the physiological aspects of running, such as VO2-MAX, glycogen, and other muscle and bone issues. It didn't make it sound very alluring, to be honest.

Watching those novices cross the finish line reminded me how good it will feel in Los Angeles in March. I gotta start training my huge muscular butt harder (inside joke).

P.S. I made it home from my Advanced Stats midterm about halfway through the program, but thanks to the person who recorded the first half for me!

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Original Post:

Nova, a popular PBS show, is airing the results of a study of the physiological effects of going from inexperienced exerciser to marathoner on Tuesday, October 30th.

This is good timing, as the unofficial start date of my marathon training is October 29. I have class the night this is supposed to air, but hopefully I can catch it on another PBS station or have someone record this for me.

Being someone who swings between utter idleness and running for hours, I'd like to know what I'm doing to myself -- the good and bad.

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Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/marathon/about.html

Friday, October 26, 2007

Let the Training Begin

Monday marks the official first day of the 18-week marathon training program a-la Hal Higdon. I'm doing the Novice 2 program because I want to improve my time but don't have the number of days to train that are called for in the Intermediate. I am probably going to make some modifications to the program. For instance, once in a while, I like to do repeats, so they may take the place of some short/moderate runs. Also, the long runs are going to flip-flop around due to my horrendous schedule. I am starting the training off with an 8-miler on Monday either at 6 am or 5:30 pm depending on how things go, though I am opting for the earlier time in the event that I get worn out going hundreds of miles on an off-site.

I always like to have one week without a long run scheduled in the event that I get sick, too busy, etc. It's a safety cushion, of sorts. So I guess in a way, my training has already begun, though I'm still feeling a bit worn from the half that was almost two weeks ago (though it might be my schedule that is tiring me rather than the running itself... who knows).

Top 3 Hurdles:
    • sleep: You need more of it while training... crud.

    • hunger: I recall eating a LOT last year while training, and my erratic eating schedule as of late might not cut it. I should probably reintroduce oatmeal into my breakfasts/lunches, and along with my Jamba Juice addiction (w/Immunity boosts), I should survive.

    • schedule: I already mentioned this. Oh, and although this is unrelated, one of my toenails is already having major trouble. =/
Top 3 Life-Savers:
    • Jamba Juice: I mentioned this.

    • winter break: Yes, I get a month off of school during some of the toughest weeks (not the peak, though, unfortunately), which will help (although I have two vacations scheduled in there, possibly a third). I will make the most of it!

    • others: Swapping running experiences is always fun.

Good luck to everyone who will be (kinda) training along with me. The stripe-earning part of marathoning takes place BEFORE you get to the start line. It is not having the guts to run a marathon that is admirable; it's the dedication brought forth during the 18+ weeks prior that distinguishes "marathoners" from other runners and 99% of the rest of the world.


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Link: http://www.halhigdon.com/marathon/novice2.htm

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kool 'n Fit Sport Spray

I've had my legs sprayed with analgesics before, but by the time I resorted to them, my legs were too numb to feel anything. I have a soft spot for these because I associate them with the emotional highlight of my first marathon. However, I learned that you don't have to run 26 miles to benefit from such sprays.

The Kool-n-Fit spray feels tingly, and as its name implies, cool, when it hits your legs, much like a menthol cough drop. It has a slight citrus scent, which makes it slightly more tolerable to the olfactory nerves than other sprays. I headed over to a Kool-n-Fit booth after my recent half-marathon, which was lucky for me, since that's where I found my sisters, almost as if they had been counting on me to be in pain, ha ha.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Long Beach International City Bank Half-Marathon 2007

EVENT: Long Beach International City Bank Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, October 14, 2007
LOCATION: Long Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:30 am
FINISH TIME: 02:11:58




This race was particularly special for me for three reasons:

- It was my longest race since the marathon.
- It was the first race I've repeated so far.
- It was the first time I ran a race with people besides my sisters.

I was trying to PR in this half-marathon, though my secret goal was to hit 2:00. It might have been able to happen had the weather not been so hot (it was low/mid 70's pretty much in the beginning, which was a huge contrast to last year), my stomach didn't hurt, a chest muscle didn't cramp, and my hip didn't suddenly give up in the tenth mile. I had other forces working against me that morning, but I probably shouldn't elaborate.

Anyway, the first few miles went smoothly. I was forcing myself to slow down because I knew I would lose it if I didn't. I hit the 10k point pretty quickly (for me, at least). I think anything over that mileage is no-man's land for me. I dramatically slowed down after the 10k point because everything started to fall apart. I already knew I wasn't going to make my goal at the 10k point, so I just accepted it and was now just aiming to PR. I didn't miss the GU station at mile 10 like I did last year, but after a small mouthful of chocolate gel, I gave up and drank water and Powerade.

The last miles were brutal. I actually had to stop and walk a few times because of some of the things I listed above. Upon crossing the finish line, I took a finishing picture and proceeded to the food/fluid area, where I didn't get to "crust" any bagels because they were the onion kind (yuck).

Luckily, I PR-ed, though not by as much as I had wanted. I know I was capable of doing better (based on training and the last race I ran), but with races, you never know what can happen. You just have to enjoy the experience for what it is. And I, of course, definitely enjoyed it.



Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Inspirational DDR and Running Story

Readers,

Long before I picked up the running habit, I was a consistent Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) player. This game comes from Japan and popped up everywhere in US arcades, then made its way into PS2 consoles. You play by simply stepping on a dance mat's arrows that correspond to what appears on the screen, while short songs play (although this is probably an oversimplification). It is difficult because you need to have some sort of rhythm and stamina.

After I started running a lot, it became even more difficult because after a few songs, all the muscles in my legs started tightening up. Not giving up, I still played... just less often. Now that I am very busy and the weather is not amenable (yet), I haven't touched the mat in months.

But with the advent of a new game (DDR Supernova 2), I am preparing to lug out the metal dance mat we have and stop by a store to pick up the new game. I am determined to bring this fun hobby of mine back into my life, and the story below confirms that it may be to my benefit.

Yeah, I can relate ANYTHING to running.

- Julie

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DDR Marathon Training: Myth or Reality?

Hello. If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be able to run a 26.2 mile marathon I would have laughed. If someone told me that not only would I be able to run it, but my training would only be playing a video game, I would have want to know more.

Well my friends, it’s true. Here’s my story. In 2004, my friend convinced me to run the Chicago marathon. Now, I had never been a good runner. In fact, I hated it. But I thought if he could do it, I could do it.

I started training the standard Hal Higdon way, running small distances at first then incrementally running longer and longer distances. The problem was I wasn’t making much progress. I ran the distances but at a very slow rate. I felt tired and stopped often, even when running just a few miles. Plus, I really didn’t have any fun running. Although I was training regularly, I stopped training a few months before the marathon.

At the same time, I became aware of the game Dance Dance Revolution for the Playstation 2. I had played this game before, but only when the arcade was almost empty so I could play without looking too stupid. At that point, I was 27 and about 40 pounds overweight.

The last time I had played in the arcade, two friend and I were in an arcade in Reno when we saw a DDR machine. Thinking my ability was at least average, I suggested we play. They declined, but I played one game. My friends were actually a bit impressed with my mediocre skill. Once I got off the machine, some bored looking teenagers wearily walked up and, looking utterly bored, jumped on, fired up the heaviest level, and played DDR the way it was meant to be played.

Although I had given it my all, their performace had written an indelible mark on my psyche: I was old. My mind immediately came to the conclusion that I was too old to learn this new game, too out of shape, and I should give up and never come back. Which is exactly what I did.


This was until I found out about the DDR home version, about a year later. My good friend Birdy suggested we played. Although we both sucked initially, having competition at my skill level motivated me like nothing before. I quickly became addicted, and although I had totally stopped my marathon training (and at that point had no intention of running it), I played DDR about two hours per day.

Now, I was still overweight, but at this point DDR did what the running didn’t do: the pounds literally melted away. I went from about 175 pounds to 155 in a matter of weeks. I had to buy all new clothes, and for the first time in years I felt YOUNG again. Limitless energy, defined physique and all the rest.

Now, about a month before the marathon, my friend suggested we go running again. I hadn’t told him I had stopped training, but I thought why not? Although at the time I had stopped training, I couldn’t even do eight miles, after my DDR “training”, I was able to run 13 miles without a problem. In fact, at then end I felt I could keep going. My heart felt strong, and my legs had newfound muscles.

I started running again, but only on the weekends. On the weekdays, I kept doing DDR. My DDR skill level went up too: from beginner, to light, to regular, then finally to heavy mode.

When it came time to do a 20 mile run, I finished (yes, I was dog tired, but I did it). After that, I didn’t run again until the marathon; I kept doing the DDR.

Finally when the marathon came I was able to complete it in a little over 4.5 hours. Not an astounding time, but not bad for having trained perhaps 1/3 of what the normal training schedule is.

After it was over, I considered what had happened. I had used a video game to train for the Chicago marathon. Hmm… I wondered if I could train exclusively for a marathon using only DDR.

St. Louis Marathon

At that point I stopped running althogether for the winter. I even stopped playing DDR regularly for 3 months. Another friend of mine suggested we run the 2005 St. Louis marathon. It sounded good, but running in the winter was not my idea of a fun time. But in January, when he started training, I decided to implement my DDR training plan. I would only run once a week to ensure I was keeping up with my friend who was training the old-fashioned way. Well, I finished that marathon under 4 hours! Running once a week for a few months and playing DDR daily. My friend, incidently, finished 28 minutes afer I did.

Fast Foward One Year

Well, after all that I stopped everything. Running, DDR, exercise in general. I am unhappily back up to 175 (I believe my optimum weight is 155). Last weekend the 2006 Saint Louis Marathon came and went, and I didn’t run at all. Another thing last weekend: I played a game of DDR. To my utter shock, I could barely do 3 songs. This is compared to my prime (1.5 years ago) when I could do 30-40 in a row. It really hit me: I am totally, completely and absolutely out of shape.

Then I decided: It is time for another marathon…It is time for DDR!!!

So this web site will chronicle my training. I may run once a week, or maybe not. My goal is to finish the 2006 Chicago marathon in under 4 hours. And like before, I intend to use DDR as my primary trainer.

Feel free to comment. If anyone wants to train and chronicle their training on this web site too, feel free. If you have never played DDR I suggest you do so as soon as immediately. Through that game, all things are possible!

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Link: http://ddrmarathon.com/archives/3

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Guest Post: October, Flu Shot, Colds and the start of training for the LA Marathon

October is here and that means that the weather will be getting colder and perhaps wetter. It is also that time of year to get your flu shots. I just started to get them last year because I was afraid the flu would hit me hard and take me down and out of training. Some people say that getting the flu shot causes you to have the flu which in my experience is not true. I felt perfectly fine after I got the shot so this year I will be getting it again, that is unless they have a shortage again, in which case I will not get it so that those who need it more can. I personally think it is a good idea since to get sick right before the big race is just unfortunate.

Also, as the weather gets colder I start to be more mindful of germs and getting sick which is why Vitamin C and Airborne are my friends during this time. I take Airborne in the tablet form. I just drop a tablet into a bottle of water and shake it up and drink it. I can't say that it is delicious because it isn't. It isn't bad just not great. Kind of taste like mediciny lemon-lime soda. Yes, it has somewhat of a fizz to it. I can say that it is better than Thera-Flu tea. I cannot say enough about prevention during cold and flu season. If you go to a public gym often then you will know that lots of other people also use those machine and sometimes even when they are sick. Go figure! So never rub your eyes or put your hands in your mouth after you have touch anything at the gym. I've gotten sick lots of time from using the gym. If you run outside, you lessen the chance of contact with as much germs but keep warm if it is cold out there. Germs are also on door handles and high contact areas so please wash your hands after contact and use antibacterial hand gels. I normally have fears of germs but during cold season I am extra careful. Although if you have a very strong immune system then none of this matters. I have a friend who I will call Pigpen who tells me that he never gets sick even though he touches lots of yucky places and rarely washes his hands and then eats. If you are not like that than it is better to be safe than sorry.




Finally, if you are planning to run the LA Marathon in '08 or any race in the spring, then this is the month to start training for it. I say this only because this is the month I will start logging lots of miles again. Good luck to everyone to get those runs in, it is especially tough for me with the upcoming holidays and such but the So. Cal weather is great for running during the Autumn/Winter season. So go out there and run!

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Walk in the Park

On Sunday, September 30, the Pasadena Humane Society hosted a 1 mi/3 mi walk called the Wiggle Waggle Walk for Animals at the Rose Bowl. I think I saw hundreds of dogs there with their loving owners who wanted to help raise money for less fortunate dogs with no homes.

Two of my favorite pups, Bear the Shiba Inu and Teddy the Yorkshire Terrier, walked 3 miles in the hot morning sun. They had several water stations for the dogs, as well as one or two for the humans.

The reason I mentioned this is because when I got to the mile 2 marker, I really thought we had walked more. It was really some of the longest 3 miles of my life because I was not really allowed to run. I guess running and walking are two very different animals (pun intended).

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Link: http://phsspca.org/about/walk/2007/

Guest Review: Ipod Shuffle

I am back once again and this time to review the Ipod shuffle that I won as a door prize a few weeks ago. I am so lucky! I had the original shuffle and loved that it was so light and portable for those long runs but when I got this baby, wow, it is even better. Aside from the fact that it smaller and has a built in clip, it can hold up to 240 songs (1 GB). I love the clip part because I use to have to wear my old shuffle around my neck or hold it in my hand since I was too cheap to buy an arm band. I also really love all the colors it comes in. Mine is pink. I saw it in purple yesterday and am only slightly jealous. I really like mine. Great improvement over the old design.

One of "Those" Lists...

You Know You're a Marathoner If...
(excerpted from a website the ones that apply to me)

~ You roll your eyes when people talk about low carb diets.
~ "18 weeks" becomes your most important unit of time.
~ You'd rather run a marathon than go on a "real" holiday.
~ You no longer think people who run marathons are crazy.
~ After finishing a really tough 26.2-mile run, your first thought is: "Next race, I'm going to...."
~ You have a pile of shoes in your closet because you feel like you have to have new running shoes every 400 miles.
~ You spend too much time on the Internet reading about other peoples' workouts.
~ You think high 40s/low 50s and overcast sounds like perfect weather.
~ When someone mentions that they live in another city, you immediately think, "Oh, I hear that's a good running city" or "Good God! I couldn't live there! Their marathon is cruddy and there's nowhere to run!"
~ You get up earlier on weekends than you do during the work week.
~ You shower about 12 times a week.
~ Every time you see a runner when you're driving you feel like you too should be running, even if you ran 15 miles earlier in the day.
~ When you go away for a weekend (or week) your most consuming thoughts are how you are going to get your runs in.
~ When you're driving somewhere and you see a distance to next town sign and automatically calculate how long it would take to run there.
~ You wear more electronics on a run than are in the dash of your car.
~ A 5k is considered speedwork.
~ You daydream about Sunday morning's LR all week.
~ Missing a day of running depresses the &*#@ out of you, even if you're sick or injured.
~ You understand what is meant by BQ,CIM,MCM, etc.
~ You can drink from a cup while running and don't mind that half goes on your chest.
~ Complete strangers come up to you and say "I saw you running the other day..."
~ The phrase "you're crazy" or "how can you possibly run that far" doesn't even warrant a response any more.
~ You've run more miles than you've driven so far this year.
~ You think ultra runners are only slightly crazy.
~ Your friends realize they can't threaten you with "I'll kick you out of the car right here" because they know you can make it home, and you might actually enjoy the challenge.
~ It's okay to have a mistake and run an extra mile, but if you realize you shorted yourself .2 miles on any run, you freak out.
~ You work out the difference in distance between running in lane 1 and running in lane 4
~ You know who Pheidippides is.
~ You know the story of why the marathon is precisely 26 miles 385 yards (42,195 metres).
~ You feel a little insulted when you tell someone you've just run a marathon and they ask, "Did you finish?"

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Excerpts from: http://www.doitsports.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=0017BT