Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge (HBBC)

So from 12/8 to 1/4, Run to Finish is hosting this Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge (aka, HBBC) in efforts to get her readers moving during the holiday season where treats are everywhere. She is offering prizes, but I will try not to pre-occupy myself with them.

It is too late to sign up (sorry, I've been behind in my blog and barely got into this thing on time), but I have decided to track my points on here.

Rules:

- 1 Point per mile (run or walk or snowshoe)
- 1 Point per 15 minutes of weight lifting or pilates
- 1 Point per 15 minutes of another form of cardio (i.e. kick boxing, elliptical)
- 1 Point per 30 minutes of stretching or yoga or abs

I have not changed my activity level for this challenge... I just happen to be this active. =D This is actually very low activity level for me, but things have just sort have been going downhill since I started having this large commute and my gym closing really early in the day. However, they are going back to their regular hours today, so there is hope for me after all!

12/8 - Walked 4 miles (2 before work, 2 during lunch in Culver City, CA) (4 pts)
12/9 - Ran 5 miles, 30 min elliptical, benched/chest 30 min, 30 min stretching/abs (10 pts)
12/10 - Walked 4 miles (4 pts)
12/11 - went to and from track - 1 mi total, ran another mile sprints. 30 min upper body weights, butt, abs, and stretching, 15 min elliptical (4 pts)
12/12 - 30 min bench/chest, ran 4 miles, 15 min elliptical, 30 min stretching/abs, (8 pts)

Week 1 total: 30 pts

12/15 - Walked 2 miles (2 pts)
12/16 - Walked 5 miles, ran 3 miles (8 pts)
12/17 - Ran 6 miles, 15 min elliptical, 15 min benching (8 pts)
12/18 - 30 min Dance Dance Revolution (2 pts)
12/19 - Ran 4 miles, benched 30 min (6 pts)

Week 2 total: 26 pts
Cumulative: 56 pts

12/22 - Walked 2 miles, ran 4 miles (6 pts)
12/23 - Ran 7 miles, benched 30 min, 15 min weights and jump-roping (10 pts)
12/24 - Walked 2 miles (2 pts)
12/26 - Ran 2 miles, 30 min elliptical, 30 min weights/bench (6 pts)
12/27 - Ran 4.5 miles, biked 3 miles (6.5 pts)
12/28 - Walked 1 mile (1 pt)

Week 3 total: 31.5 pts
Cumulative: 87.5 pts

12/29 - Ran 6 miles, 7.5 min elliptical, 30 min weights/bench (8.5 pts)
12/30 - Ran 4 miles, 60 min elliptical, 15 min strength (9 pts)
12/31 - Ran 3 miles, 30 min elliptical, 15 min weights/strength (6 pts)
1/2 - Ran/walked 2 miles, 15 min elliptical, 30 min weights/strength (5 pts)
1/3 - Ran/walked 3 miles, 45 min bike (6 pts)

Week 4 total: 31.5
Cumulative (final): 122

(Would have been able to add another 3 pts to this, but 5:45 AM on 1/5 doesn't quite count, I guess.)

Overall, this was a lousy turnout compared to the level of activity that I am used to. But in a way, this is pretty cool because if each point can be equated to approximately 100 calories burned, then 122 points is 12,200 calories. Perhaps that set off some holiday eating, although I swear I was eating more pre-holidays due to stress and unhappiness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

That Other Blog I Have...

Anyone who has nosed around my profile knows that I used to keep a blog called Vegetarian Slop (Vegeslop for short). Back in college, I had been cooking some really elaborate things like veggie burgers, hash browns, soups, and the like, until I found that my efforts were left unshared. Motivation plummeted, and thus, the food became slop... basically whatever would cook quickly and nutritionally.

Since then, I've embarked on many culinary expeditions, and I regret not taking more pictures of them. In the non-vegan category, I've made cookies (oatmeal), egg tarts, tiramisu, coconut bars, cheesecakes (blueberry and pumpkin), yogurt creations, homemade wheat pasta, pumpkin pie, macaroons, wraps, brownies, and numerous sweet breads and muffins (cherry, pumpkin, bran, apple, pecan).

And then in the vegan category, I've made focaccia and had a hand in vegan pizza, vegan pot pie, oatmeals, etc.

I think I will be revisiting this blog from time to time to update it, and using my cell phone more to take pictures of the stuff that I make. I am also fortunate enough to have someone who makes vegan/vegetarian food for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PowerBar Gel Blasts and Smoothie Bars

Back in August when I walking around the vendor stalls at the Nike Human Race at the Colisium, Powerbar was there handing out these Gel Blasts and Fruit Smoothie Bars. I one I picked up was Natural Lemon flavored but it also comes in Natural Cola. The Smoothie Bars come in Berry Blast (the sample I got), Creamy Citrus and Tangy Tropical.



I took the Gel Blasts out to a long run one weekend to "road test" them. Wow, after running many miles these were so good! They taste like sweet and salty gummy bears and when you bit the center, a refreshing lemon goo comes out. It says that 6 of these is equal to 1 gel. Let me tell you that I would rather eat these than gels. I even started eating these just for fun as they were yummy even when not training. Not really a good idea as 9 pieces (1 pack) packs 190 calories.


The Berry Blast Smooth Bar was ok. Same consistency and texture as regular Powerbars but more of the fruit rollup sort of flavor. Kinda leaves a cherry cough drop aftertaste...weird. It's still sticky and really chewy like regular Powerbars which is why I don't really like them. Overall, I would eat them again if they were in front of me but I would go to seek them out. These have 210 calories, 3.5 g of fat and 6g of protein.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kardea Nutrition Bars

The nice folks at Kardea Nutrition sent me a sample of four of their nutrition bars. I am quite the fan of eating "food in bar form," especially vegan ones such as these.

These bars are smaller than more energy bars but are dense. The consistency is very much like Power Bars (something I haven't reviewed yet because I have not had enough of them). The bars are held together by what I'm assuming is agave nectar. There are no weird chocolate bits that will melt everywhere, which is a plus.

Each bar has about 140-150 calories and around 7 grams of protein, which is pretty good. They seem like they would make nice, healthy snacks. And since they are vegan, I'm sure eating these would help with digestion, since I remember clearly having good digestion and high energy when I was eating vegan for a month.

Here are the four flavors I tried:

- Cranberry Almond: I'm not a big fan of almond-flavored things (though I do like almonds), so this kind of tasted cherry-like to me (not a big fan of that taste). This was the first bar I tried, so I was a little surprised by the consistency.

- Banana Nut: This was pretty good. Not too strong on the banana or nut flavors.

- Chai Spice: I had weird memories of Spiru-tein when I tasted this bar. I think the vegetable protein taste was apparent in this one.

- Lemon Ginger: I don't really enjoy lemon-flavored sweets, but I really did like this flavor. Both the lemon and ginger flavors were subtle. Eating this bar reminded me of a hybrid of a lemon-poppyseed dessert and a gingersnap.

Overall, I think these are definitely worth a shot, especially for those vegans or lactose intolerant out there or those who can't stand the taste of whey protein bars. As I said before, they would make great healthy snacks. I don't have a cholesterol issue, but these can help with that as well. I hope to see them around in stores...

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Link: http://www.kardeanutrition.com/

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spiru-tein

I'm always trying to get my protein needs fulfilled. Bars are nice, but they melt and are boring after a while. Drinking protein is actually easier and probably more economical in the long-run. I tried straight-out soy protein, but due to the taste, I decided maybe I should try some soy/whey or pure whey formulas. However, my lactose intolerance has increased over the years, making this a poor option, which is too bad, since those are among the most inexpensive. (And luckily, I was able to pawn them off.)

Spiru-tein is a mix of soy/rice/pea protein that I found out about as I was on one of my signing-up-for-free-sample blitzes. I ended up with a free shaker cup and a sample of Cookies and Creme Spiru-tein... plus a coupon for future purchases of it. Given the fact that I don't drink milk, I go against the instructions and mix it with water instead. Yeah, that probably worsens the taste of everything, but what else could I do? It still comes out thick, maybe not as thick as it would have with milk, though.

Each serving, which is quite filling, contains between 100-130 calories and 14 g protein, depending on the flavor. Here are my reviews of sample-sized ones I have tried:

- Cappuicino: This tastes like weak coffee, though a bit disturbing since I've never had thick coffee before. Not too bad.

- Chai Latte: The taste is decent and likens itself to weak chai tea. The only disturbing thing is that it comes out light green.

- Cookies and Creme: This one tastes the best of the ones I've tried so far. The chocolate "bits" in there are not sweet, only reminiscent of chocolate, but overall, still pretty good.

- Cookie Dough: This one turned out so nasty that I gave up after a quarter of it. It did not taste like cookie dough at all... and I love the stuff.

- Strawberry Banana: I knew this might taste a bit medicinal, and I was right. Definitely more tolerable than the Cookie Dough, but I felt as though I was chugging down candy that I didn't like.

- Vanilla: [ update after I try this ]

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Link: http://www.spirutein.com/


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nike+ Human Race

EVENT: Nike+ Human Race 10K
DATE: Sunday, August 31, 2008
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA (and all around the world)
RACE BEGAN: 8:31:08 pm
FINISH TIME: 00:57:38

This race course took place at Exposition Park near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, down and out of Figueroa and some smaller streets, passed USC, and made its way back to the start.



I was/am starkly disappointed by my race time. Charging down a hot, stuffy, dark, narrow path on an August evening with 12,000 runners, weird smells from restaurants and other runners, and a revisiting lunch was not the best.

However, knowing that Kanye West and Common were at the end definitely kept me from puking or quitting. They really did deliver an awesome post-race concert performing all of their hits with "flashing lights" abound!

Upon crossing the finish line, everyone was awarded a "baton" with a wristband thing.


There is not much else I can say about this race, particularly because I am unhappy with my lackluster race performances lately. This was my last chance to redeem myself before I get deep into marathon training, which I seriously barely even have time to do with all the stuff I have on my plate (or else I would have considered doing other races, but 11 in a year is plenty, I think).

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Larabars!

Tea Time and I reviewed Larabars a while back here. It seems that there are some new flavors that we missed. These "Jocalat" varieties are still vegan and raw (crushed dates and such) yet tasty. I've tried these at expos, and Tea Time brought a box home as well.

Here is my review of each:

- Chocolate: Very mild chocolate flavor. Not bad.

- Chocolate Mint: I am not a big fan of this flavor combination, but it was acceptable because of the subtlety.

- Chocolate Orange: Again, not too bad because the chocolate is not overpowering. However, I don't like orange-flavored things, so this would rank low for me.

- Chocolate Coffee: Quite good... maybe because I am a mocha fan. The coffee taste definitely adds to this.

- Chocolate Cherry (not pictured): Slightly tart with the chocolate flavor to off-balance it.

- Peanut Butter Cookie (not pictured): This isn't a "Jocalat" bar (though PB & chocolate?? mmm!), but this is my new favorite Larabar. It really does taste like a peanut butter cookie... so soft, not too nutty, and less sinful.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

America's Finest City Half-Marathon 2008








EVENT: America's Finest City Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, August 17, 2008
LOCATION: San Diego, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:00 am
FINISH TIME: 02:11:47

Part 3 of 3 of the Triple Crown!

It had been nearly three months since running a race, and given the leg pain from May that has not yet gone away, I had been fearing this race for months. I kept up about 75% of the training, but in the last few weeks before this race, I took a lot of time "off" in hopes that some rest would help. I'm still not sure if it did.

If I have one thing to say about the coordination of this race, I'd say Neil Finn did an excellent job with logistics, besides the fact that the Expo was near the airport, and everyone picking up their packet had to endure that ridiculous airport traffic.

This race commenced at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego. I was staying at the end of the race, so a bus took us to the start. With such an early start time, I was hoping it would not warm up very quickly, but alas, it did. That's humid August weather for ya'.

The first few miles had a weird stench in the air. I ran the first two miles pretty conservatively at around 9 min/mi, given that I am one of those people who dashes the first few miles in every race. Around the third mile or so, after a few uphills, was a steep downhill mile that I ran in 7:40. I caught up to my sister and was running behind her for a while. I figured I would keep her in sight as long as I could so I would not let my tightening shins slow me down too much had I "run by feel." Just as a slight uphill began sometime around the fourth mile, seemingly all the muscles in both my legs seized up, leaving me unable to "clear" the uphill, leading me to eat the dirt... or asphalt. It was a brief and extremely embarrassing moment that I quickly rose from and dashed off. A woman and some guys dashed ahead to ask if I was okay, that I should stop at the next aid station. I told them I was okay, and they clapped a bit for me and started making comments about "speed bumps" and "battle scars."

Knowing I still had nine miles to go, I let up on my pace so my legs would not give me anymore trouble. I saw I had run four miles in less than 32 minutes and was a bit frustrated that I was going. Then the heat came in during the next two miles, and I did not get a chance to get water or wash off my wounds until the sixth mile before the 10K point. I finished the 10K below 58 minutes, which is actually about average for me. The second part of the race was flat and boring, going through the Terminal lanes of the San Diego Airport. I found it very hard to keep going at a decent pace because at this point, I felt overheated, and there was no water to be found for a few miles. I basically ran the remaining part of the race at a very slow pace, stopping at every water station.

Mile 11.5 to pretty much the end was uphill, some parts worse than others. For some reason, I found the uphills in the beginning to be worse, perhaps because I was hitting them at a faster pace. My watch said 13.1 miles, but I could not see the finish line until about a quarter of a mile later. I managed to sprint the last 200 meters or so, my goal at that point to come in below 2:12, which was my time for Carlsbad when I also ran on a bad leg.

The medal was nice (photo credit to Tea Time), and I was finally awarded the Triple Crown medal!!

I always feel disappointed in myself after races, but I really should not complain. I ran a 2:10 in La Jolla, and a 2:12 in Carlsbad, so this one kind of fell in between those two. And since I was conservative in running this race, I don't think I caused anymore injury to my shin and will thus be able to continue my training relatively uninterrupted. Hopefully my condition will improve as I start to increase my mileage for marathon training.

I sometimes wonder if my times have more to do with weather than injury. When I PRed the last time I raced, my leg was only slightly better, but I ran like 15 minutes faster because of cooler weather.

This was my tenth half-marathon (131 miles) since I started racing in 2006... and tenth race in 2008 alone. Given that experience, I should not have had such a hard time.

Finally, I would like to say that the weekend was fun staying/eating out in San Diego with my sisters and friends. Also, props to my sister for running a 1:56, and to the boyfriend for running a 1:44.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Other Uses for Aquaphor

Besides using Aquaphor for chafing, I've found three other things this stuff can be used for, which is a good thing, since I have a few sample sized ones and a large bottle at home.

1) Removes eye makeup - If you're wearing something else that is hard to rub off before running (primer makes it darn difficult/impossible), a little bit of Aquaphor makes it come right off.

2) Moisturizes lips - When I forget my chapstick and don't want to be running with dry lips, this scentless stuff does the trick.

3) Helps dry knees - Often, my knee gets incredibly dry at this one small spot. If I have the Aquaphor out for one of the other uses, I usually remember to use it for this purpose.

There you have it! So next time you get a little sample of this stuff in your running goodie bags, know that it will come to good use!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dedication

Adding to this slew of posts I'm finally getting to putting up today, I would like to make this commentary about recent events besides being too busy at work, doing new things like a normal person, and running on my injured legs.

On the morning of July 10, 2008, my high school track coach passed on as he was on his way to teach summer school. Just a mile or so away from the school, the car he was in jumped the median and hit another car head on. Knowing how careful and reliable this man was, most everyone believes he had some sort of medical issue at the time of the accident.

That night, an impromptu candlelight vigil was held at the high school. Two of my sisters and I all went separately, along with about 350 other people. I'm sure many, many more people who wanted to attend were unable to make it. Alumni who graduated from the 80's were there, along with fellow coaches, faculty, and students/athletes he inspired.

He was my English teacher (and my Government teacher a couple of years later). He taught me most of the vocabulary I know, but just as importantly, he made me believe that I had athletic ability. I went from nothing to going to scoring points at track meets to league finals when I was a freshman. The Varsity letter sitting in my drawer at home is directly attributable to him.

When I was the first nerd to walk into his classroom, he greeted me cheerfully. I remember that the day after my 15th birthday when our team won the meet with a 4x400 relay I was in, he declared that I had a magical birthday. When I was having trouble with mythology, he stayed afterschool to tell me exactly what I could do to fix that. When I complained about the pain or fatigue of hard workouts, he made some sort of sassy joke. Years later, when I needed someone to interview for my grad school class project (this was a few months ago), he kindly volunteered. Not only did he answer my questions, he also took the time to catch up with me, hear about my life, tell me about his family and the shows he liked to watch. I even realized that he still had a poem that I had written for him still on his wall. Little did I know, that would be the last time I would hear his jolly voice.

In summary of my ramblings, that man is partly the reason I am still running today. I would have liked to post links or pictures of him, but I will just keep it at this. He was an amazing man, and if I can become even half as incredible as he was, I would have lived a good life and touched many people as he had.

Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane 10 -- mileage as of 4/29/10 = 940/500; 9/18/10 = 503.5/500 (pair 2)

About 7 months after getting new running shoes, my hurting legs were a (possible) indicator that it's time for new shoes. Some say that you can get about 500 miles out of running shoes, but I think I get about 400 (good ones) on average.

This newer Saucony shoe is a stability shoe that is significantly lighter than the previous models. I feel fortunate to have had a choice of colors - silver/burgandy (pictured, as it's the one I chose) and silver/blue (to differentiate from my other shoes).

In case you're curious, I got it at Running Expo, which offers free shipping. I probably saved myself about $10 getting it online.

As for what I should do with my half-worn running shoes, I have decided to bring one to work as my "I forgot my shoes pair," and I will probably have to start doing other things to conserve space around my cramped quarters.

These shoes are definitely light and cushiony. Saucony improved upon the previous Hurriance models by cutting away some of the bottom material to make it lighter. I only wonder if the cushioning will disappear quickly given the weight. Also, I had some weird rubbing on the back of my ankle, but I'm sure that will callus up and improve soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Month Post-Donation

Exactly one month ago, I went to a local hospital to give blood for the fourth time. I give blood once a year, though this round was a bit delayed due to the racing schedule. I had just run a half the week before and had actually just returned from Las Vegas the day before. Thus, the "lucky" recipients of my donation not only received really huge, oxygen-carrying discs (RBC's) but probably also remnants of my high crepe consumption in Sin City.

Anyway, the day after I gave blood, I did my usual hour and a half of circuit-type training, which didn't feel too much worse than usual. I was also running a handful of 6-milers later in the week. Although I definitely stepped up the eating a little bit (too much, perhaps), I did not notice any side-effects of the missing blood. If my running or other workouts have stepped down at all (currently at about 20 mpw), it is because of my nagging shin pain that has not gone away since May. I know running these Monday 10-milers on it (and the other shin that is starting to feel bad) hasn't been helping, either, especially since I've been running 6-milers on Sundays also.

What was the point of this post? Oh yes... I wanted to share something I found regarding running and blood-giving. According to this, I should be benefitting from this in the long run (no pun intended). If nothing else, I'm still a proud blood donor and intend on continuing to do so (probably at the hospital again... they were so much nicer than the Red Cross).


Donating Blood and Running

1. Blood volumes. You typically donate a pint of blood (450 g) and it takes your body 2 to 3 days to recover the volume. It takes about 2 months to recover the lost red blood cells.

2. Drop in performance. When you have less blood, your body can carry less oxygen. Expect to lose about 10% of your typical performance ability. This will be most noticeable to long distance jogglers. Note some experts say it can take up to 3 months to regain total aerobic capacity. Yikes!

3. Recovering from donation. To get back in top-notch joggling form, be sure to drink extra fluids immediately after the donation and the next day. Also, make sure you are eating things with protein and iron in them to help replenish. The experts say think of a blood donation as a day of rest.

4. It’s not all bad. While you may have an initial reduction in performance, there is at least one theory that says donating may have the benefit of actually increasing the amount of red blood cell count when your body recovers. This would happen because your body might overshooting the target level. Just a theory though.

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Source: http://justyouraveragejoggler.com/should-a-runner-or-joggler-donate-blood/

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shin Splint?

Although I ran on the track team for two years in high school and another two years as of late, I had never had a shin splint, which supposedly plagues some new runners. I didn't even know what one was. The simple answer: a bunch of things, but in my case most likely an irritated sheath of muscle/tendon around my lower leg bone.

More than a month ago, my left shin became sore when I ran, and the more I ran on it, the more the tightening and pain spread to the back of my lower leg (calf). I ran two races on this leg, because the sensation only made an apperance every other time I ran. And pretty much every other training run would have to be slowed or stopped because I did not want to completely blow out my leg.

Lately, I have been foregoing weekend runs and replacing some running with the elliptical machine and circuits, so I think by now I'm nearly fully recovered. I just find it very weird that this came about for no apparent reason.

By the way, I do acknowledge that things have been a little quiet in this blog lately. With the summer weather comes fewer races. I am still running regularly (just did 8 miles yesterday and 6 a few days before that), though I've also been "livin' it up," enjoying my summer vacation for the most part.

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Link: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/front/lowerleg/shinsplints.htm

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Laguna Hills Half-Marathon

EVENT: Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half-Marathon
DATE: Monday, May 26, 2008
LOCATION: Laguna Hills, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:00 am
FINISH TIME: 01:57:05

This race is formerly known as the Saddleback Memorial Day Half-Marathon. Saddleback/Laguna Hills was my very first race, and I basically finished 19 minutes faster this time.

So anyway, it had actually been drizzling during the hour before the race. Luckily, my sister, who was a spectator this time, let us sit in her car until we decided to hit the port-a-potties. The long lines caused us to reach the starting corral about a minute before we took off. The rain stopped.

The first mile was a little jammed as we ran through the Laguna Hills Mall parking lot. Since this race isn't all that big, the field cleared a bit starting at the second mile. I hammered the first two miles in 15 minutes. The hills in the first few miles were mellow. We reached some reserves, where the majority of the miles were, which started off downhill and then started going up and down for the rest of the race. At around mile 7, "someone" spotted me about to hit the turnaround point as well, and he cheered for me. I realized soon that I was only about 1/4 mile behind him.

The rest of the race's hills were more intense (basically having to run up all the downhills from the beginning), though in comparison to recent races were not much. Around mile 9, I was feeling exhausted and let up on my pace a little bit and even started walking for brief times to keep my energy and sore shin/calf in check. I had taken off my visor several times because I was starting to become uncomfortably warm and was trying different breathing techniques to get more oxygen to my stiff legs. Finally, I saw the finish line and tried my best to sprint to it, but I think at best I just ran to it quickly.

This was a PR for me (if you read one of my previous race entries, you will see that I had predicted this). I actually was not planning on doing so well and had long decided that I would just do this race to have a good time. This is actually my last race for a few months, which is good, because my three-week shin soreness is probably an indication of fatigue. I've done 5 races in the two months following a marathon... not good.

There was no medal awarded at this race, which is unfortunate, though they had a finisher's glass and good food such as Souplantation muffins and pizza from the California Pizza Kitchen. I was feeling too sick to eat too much but managed to get down half a banana and some muffin tops.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Champion Shape Scoop Bra


It is sort of embarrassing to be writing this sort of entry, but it is long due, so here goes:

This was randomly bought at a Sports Authority in Vista, CA. If you're a chick, you'll know that having a slightly padded sports bra is important if you're going to be wearing any technical clothing to run, at least in public.

Overall, these were a good investment. They were about $18, though they normally run for closer to $40. One thing that could be improved upon is the fact that it looks like something a granny would wear. They had black ones, but I am not that girth-y or well-endowed, so I had to settle for this one. Fortunately, the white one I got is still clean-looking, strangely enough. It doesn't soak up too much sweat.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Santa Barbara Wine Country Half-Marathon (Relay) 2008

EVENT: Santa Barbara Wine Country Half-Marathon
DATE: Saturday, May 10, 2008
LOCATION: Santa Ynez, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:00 am (delayed start at 7:15am)
FINISH TIME: 1:51:28 (51:58, 59:29)

Instead of miserably studying during the weekend before finals, my sister and I headed to Solvang, CA (half an hour from Downtown Santa Barbara) to run this half-marathon relay. I really needed a break, and this quaint little town definitely took me away from it all. We had a fun day walking around, eating, and looking at merchandise that changed colors in the sun. And, of course, I nearly got a heart attack when we could not find our names at the registration table. Apparently, relay teams were listed elsewhere. Whew!

First Portion Review (Nobel4Lit - 5.8 mi):

I woke up at around 5 AM to get ready and head to the bus, which would take the first-leg runners to the start. I wound up waiting/standing in the cold or in a saloon for more than an hour. I checked in one of the hotel towels that was keeping me somewhat warm... that I never got back. And with no national anthem, announcement, or anything, the race started 15 minutes late.

The first mile, without even knowing it, I ran in about 7:40, which pretty much smashes the timed mile I did on my own about a year ago. Then the rolling hills started. I tried not to let the sight of them demoralize me too much. Honestly, I think my fear of hills is purely psychological. The view was nice... open, country-ish roads, cool air around me... At the 5k point, I looked at my watch and saw that I had also beaten my 5k PR by about one minute. I was pretty up in the pack, which was a new experience for me.

Another half mile later, my left shin/calf, which had been tightening the whole time, started to become downright painful. I kept going but soon got to a point that if I did not stop, I would probably cause "permanent" injury. So I walked for a minute or two and then decided that I should not be walking when someone else is waiting for me. I picked up some speed and eventually felt somewhat better during the last two miles and made up for some of the lost time.

At the 5.8 mile mark, I saw my sister waiting for me in the transition area. There was also a crowd there, who looked excited to see the "hand off." I was happy to be done -- it reminded me too much of a 10k, and I really don't like that distance at all. I hopped over to get some water and my medal. I was the first person on the bus to the finish line, where I was hoping to see my sister finish, which I did.

Second Portion Review (Tea Time - 7.3 mi):

I left the hotel at around 6:45am, walked over to the line to catch the bus to the transition area in Los Olivos. However, while in line, I remembered that I did not have my Garmin or Ipod on me. So I had to get out of line and run back to the hotel. Then I left the hotel for the second time at around 7am. The bus ended up taking everyone to the start line in Santa Ynez and from there we had to hop another bus to the transition. The bus lines at Solvang Park at around 6:45am were really long. I think 2 bus loads of people were late to the start. Probably due to poor time management on the organizers' part. On the way to the transition area, I saw Julie running.

Really weird to get that perspective of a race. I've always ran with her so it was weird to see these people running and me going ahead of them on a bus. When I got off the bus in Los Olivos, I quickly jumped into a porta potty and waited nervously for Julie to arrive. There was barely anyone there at the point. Just mostly volunteers and a couple of spectators. When the front runners started to appear, I knew that it wouldn't be long. Then I saw Julie running towards me and as soon as she saw me, she picked up her pace. We did not exchange any words during the "hand-off".

After Julie slapped me some skin at around mile 5.8, I took off running. I had been waiting there for about 20 minutes and was starting to get nervous on top of being cold. I was actually going to tell Julie that I saw her running while I was on the bus on the way to the transition area but there was just no time. Perhaps in my mind, I had pictured a more "slow-mo" hand off where to got to chat and catch up. Yeah, that didn't really happen in real life though.

About 1.5 miles into the second part of the relay, I got this feeling of deja vu because the first hill reminded me of La Jolla. I know, so weird, but since I was still fresh, I pushed up the hill and on all hills to follow. I was determined to run the second leg in under an hour so I had to haul it. I was running like the wind amongst horses and cows (real animals not talking about the other runners) and lots of beautiful scenary. I think there were a couple of water stations but I only stopped twice for water. The hills were rolling and challenging and I could not ask for better weather. It was overcast and cool. I think it was this reason that I was able to come in under an hour. I completed the second portion at a 7:30 pace.

When I finally reached Solvang, all I wanted to do was finish so that I could stop running. When I finally made it across the finish line, all I wanted to do was breathe, ok it was more like sucking in air. I skipped the food area as I didn't think I could have eaten anything so we grabbed our complimentary SD Half wine glasses and walked back to the hotel. Our hotel was literally steps away from the finish line. How awesome is that? One of the best runs ever. Long enough to be challenging but short enough to run really fast.

Monday, April 28, 2008

La Jolla Half-Marathon

EVENT: La Jolla Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, April 27, 2008
LOCATION: Del Mar & La Jolla, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:30 am
FINISH TIME: 02:10:46

Part 2 of 3 of the Triple Crown.

The idea of running the hilly La Jolla Half-Marathon had been looming for months, and when the morning finally rolled around, it decided to warm up to an unusual 85 degrees.

Tea Time: Yeah it was one of those mornings that required no warmup wear. I wore one anyways and had to take it off shortly after I got to the startline.

The day before, I had taken the Amtrak to my sister's (Tea Time) place in Orange County and drove the rest of the way to Del Mar in San Diego. We stayed at a really nice place that was just across the street from the start. As we stood in the starting corral, I was just hoping to come in under 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was taking into account the heat, hills, and the fact that I had to run without my beloved iPod because they were supposedly "prohibited."

Tea Time: This was Julie's first time taking a Amtrak train. She thought it was going to be worse than what it was. I think she actually enjoyed the ride. We headed to the Corner Bakery for breakfast after I picked her up and from there we headed down to Del Mar. Lucky for us the 5 was free flowing that day. Yeah, it sucked that they printed that MP3 and Ipods were prohibited but half the people at the startline had them on. I'm pissed about that because I could've really used some music during some of those difficult miles.

There were two starts for the race, one at 7:30 for those running 8-min/mi or faster, and another at 7:40 for everyone else. Knowing that people never follow the rules, I broke it and started in the first wave. And good thing, too, because I later heard that for some of the runners toward the back, they had run out of water at some of the water stations. The water stations themselves were lacking to begin with (at every 2.5 miles or so)!!

Tea Time: There is also something very unnerving about being served electrolyte beverages that had been mixed in a large trash can. I was so thirsty and hot that I drank it anyways. The things I do out on the race course. :s

The first few miles went well. I was running comfortably at around a 9-min/mi pace. As I reached the fourth mile, I had to walk because of a hill, and I pretty much walked all of miles 5-7 as we headed into Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Tea Time: Oh man, you could feel the heat as you ran. Even from the start. I guess we were lucky it was dry heat and not humidity. I knew it was going to be a tough run. The course was really beautiful and it would probably be more pleasant had it been cooler. The miles through Torrey Pines was very challenging. I tried to run but walked about a mile. I honestly didn't hate it. It was such a good feeling to get to the top. Some of the down hill part was too fast but who am I to complain about that.

Miles 8-9 were really rough on me because not only was I out of gas, but dehydration was rearing its ugly head. I was breathing very quickly to flush out some of the heat, but nothing worked. I looked for shade, tried to fan myself, and thought about taking my shirt off, but honestly, the heat was unbearable. I tossed water cups on myself... my shoes got wet and then instantly dried up again.

Tea Time: Hmm, I have no recollection of these miles. The heat was starting to get to me at this point as well. I was dumping half the water on my head and drinking the other half. People had their hoses on and was spraying it at people and I tried to run under all of them. It was THAT hot, because I normally don't like to get water on me when I run.

Mile 10-11 or so was downhill with a nice ocean view. I ran this mile in 8 minutes. The rest I basically ran/walked, because the hills kept coming in a psychologically-damaging way. The very end was a sharp downhill, and I was practically dancing as I crossed the finish line. I grabbed my medal and basically left the place as soon as possible. That was probably the toughest race I've ever done, not counting the marathons.

Tea Time: These miles came slow. I thought I was going to die. Way too hot for a day in Spring. Overall, a challenging course but nice scenary. Don't know if I will get to do this again since there are so many races out there to try. But I thought it was nice and the ribbon was blue and the medal was round!! It takes so little to please me. :)

Overall, I am not too disappointed with the outcome. And I think I need to give kudos to myself for doing it without my crack... er, I mean, music. Pace was 9:59/mi, some miles run in 8 min/mi, some at more like 12 due to the 4-5 miles of walking I did. One of these days, I am going to get a huge PR somewhere... stay tuned for that.

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Here are some "borrowed" photos! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Adidas Clima-Lite Shirt and Shorts

This past Christmas, I received a V-neck T-shirt and a pair of black shorts with blue stripes on it. I think people were trying to tell me something (i.e., "Stop running in men's boxers!!").

Both of these products are from Adidas, made with Clima-Lite material that wicks moisture from the skin. I have worn the shirt once so far and realized I need to wear a better sports bra underneath (I took care of that later) due to a problem I won't mention but I'm sure most would know about.

The pictures are not exactly what I have... the blue is slightly less "bright" than that, and my shorts have 3 blue stripes on the side, not black like in this one.

I really love the shorts. They are some of my shorter ones, but they make me look athletic, which is always a joy. =) They are very secure and are comfortable. And the different length may help with my shorts tan, although exposing that extra inch or so of my gigantic thigh takes some guts. Of course, I'm sure most people wear much shorter things, but you should really see what I typically like to run in -- race T-shirts and shorts that approach my knees. Yeah, I'm super cool...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dave Heeley's Third of Seven Magnificent Marathons

On Tuesday, April 8, 2008, I had the privilege of running with a blind runner, Dave Heeley.

Heeley is a 50-year-old from England. He embarked on a mission to complete seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. This record-setting attempt is also an awareness cause for the Braille Institute. The first two legs he ran were in Antartica and Brazil, and the third in America. And just by luck, he chose California... Southern California... Pasadena!

So I put on my running shoes to join his entourage, which consisted of people running a lap or more from the Pasadena Marathon founders group and kids (contrary to the media releases of this event, I did not see college students). We were blessed with overcast weather and slight breezes at some parts of the route. The event seemed pretty low-key overall. One loop around the Rose Bowl is about 3 miles, so he pretty much did that loop about 8 times. It was a mostly flat loop with some minor inclines that I recall from walks/races I've done in the past. There were water stations at each mile, which also had whole Powerbars (some of their reps were relaying the run as well).

I caught the group, which was about 12 in size, at around mile 7 and stayed until mile 16. I wasn't planning on doing so much, but I felt good. We were going at approximately 10:20 pace, very steadily. I could tell he was feeling the energy from hearing the footsteps and breathing around him. I had never run with people before, so what an experience.

I'm sure you're wondering how Dave finds his way around (see picture). His sighted guide, Mac, was linked to Dave at the wrist. He definitely deserves props as well. Dave, Mac, and the rest of the entourage were very down-to-Earth, British accents and all.

Dave finished in about 4 hours and 35 minutes. The measurement was done informally on a Garmin watch. His next run is in Sydney, Australia and ends in the London Marathon on the 13th. VERY magnificent, I would say.

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Link:
http://www.expressandstar.com/2008/04/09/blind-daves-tears-at-end-of-latest-run/

Friday, April 18, 2008

Z Glove

Not long ago I was walking around the expo the day before the Surf City Marathon and came
upon a booth that was selling these "Z Glove", I know, so catchy right? Anyways, I talked to the
people manning the booth and tried it on and took some pamphlets but did not buy them.

When I got home, and especially the next morning in the torrid rain that has now made the Surf
City Marathon that day be renamed to Soak City. I really wish I would've had these puppies that morning. It was so cold! Anyways, some months later while I was walking around the LA
Marathon
expo, I saw the booth again and this time around I purchased a pair. I dunno, maybe
it was impulse, maybe it was nerves about the marathon, who knows. Also, who knows why I
purchased it in hot pink, but I did. And I have since wore this pair of Z Glove(s) a couple of
times. They are really nice. As the guy at the booth corrected me, they are not arm warmers.

They are compression wear. Something to do with bloodflow to the arm and other such
interesting things. Here is their website, I'm sure they will explain it much better than me.
http://www.thezglove.com/home.php They also come in lots of different colors. I mean, not a
ton, but enough to match all your outfits. Here is a photo of me and my hot pink Z Gloves doing
some serious lifting, NOT!


I think the great thing about these gloves is that they stay up and do not move unless you move
them. And each glove has a thumb hole, so you can wear it hooked onto your thumbs for arm
and hand coverage or tucked under for just arm coverage. I will most likely buy another pair if I
see them at another expo. This time, maybe in black or white. My favorite colors..hehe.

Bullfrog Marathon Mist

Another Christmas gift I received was this SPF 36 spray sunscreen from Bullfrog. This was my first spray sunscreen, so it took a while to get used to the "cold" feeling that occurs from the spraying, especially on a cold morning. But I think it has helped me protect myself better because I'm more willing to put it on before long runs and races because my hands stay relatively clean and greaseless.

It is definitely a good idea to make sure that the spraying covers everything since you're not rubbing everywhere yourself. The California sun can be relentless, so if you miss a spot, you're a goner. Fortunately, the sunscreen leaves a clear layer that disappears after a while but is good for checking the coverage. I don't use this on my face, but I've used it on my scalp, which has prevented sunburn up there.

The smell is pretty fresh, a little better than most sunscreens, though I really don't like the smell of sunscreens in general.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Larabars - Expanded Review

Nobel4Lit: On 2/5/08, Tea Time posted the following entry. Because I am growing to like these bars even more, I made some updates in green and will continue to add to this as I eat more of them. I am very surprised that I am diggin' these bars, because typically I don't like soft food.

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I know these bars have been around for awhile but I just recently noticed them showing up at every pre-run expo. Larabar has been out representin' at almost every run expo I've been at. They are always really generous with their samples. I mean to a point. They allow you to pick two samples each time you come around, so depending on how many times you want to walk back and forth to the booths..haha, just kidding.

So I think there are 12 Larabar flavors
  • Pistachio: Tea Time's favorite
  • Key Lime Pie: not as bad as I imagined; the one I had was chock full of almonds!
  • Apple Pie: pretty good; tastes like a worse-for-you apple pie
  • Cherry Pie: no medicinal cherry taste that is usual of cherry-flavored things =)
  • Ginger Snap: my new favorite; subtle gingerbread cookie flavor
  • Lemon Bar: I don't like lemon-flavored things, but this was actually quite good
  • Banana Cookie: not too sweet; the nuts make it like banana nut bread
  • Cashew Cookie: nutty, and textured a little rough so you know it's ground-up nuts
  • Pecan Pie: obviously not exactly like a pecan pie, but tastes indulgent and nutty
  • Cinnamon Roll: a tad sweeter than the others but still very delicious
  • Cocoa Mole: I was disgusted when it suddenly became spicy
  • Chocolate Coconut: not bad; could stand to be a little more chocolately
I think they recently added a coffee flavor one but I am not sure. What's special with these bars is that they are unprocessed and raw; for those who like raw, hehe. Their claim to fame is that they are energy bars at its purest form. It is basically made of dried fruit and nuts "mooshed" together. They have no added sugar and other stuff some people may find undesirable, but you can read all about that at their website.

I am writing this review because at first I was kinda grossed out by these. The sample packages I got were really cute and they looked ok but at first bite, it just tasted strange to me. I guess I am one of those people who are afraid of the taste of "pure"...haha. Anyways, as I said before I've been seeing them at lots of run expos and everytime I walk by their booth, I can't help but take some samples. Lo and behold, I actually fell in love with one of the flavors. I love the Pistachio one. It is one of my favorite things to eat. It's moist, nutty and not too sweet. Can't believe that I actually like this stuff now. Go figure!


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Link: http://www.larabar.com/



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Amphipod Endurance Pack

Guest Review: Amphipod Endurance Pack





It's guest review time! I purchased this "fanny" pack thing back in February before the LA Marathon because the bouncing of the CD Logic case I was using to carry stuff for longer races was starting to bother me. I actually found out of this pack from reading an article from latimes.com about marathon preparation. I went to the website http://www.amphipod.com/ and asked the customer service person where I could get one asap since my marathon was less than 2 weeks away. The customer service person was so nice. She could not find a store near me that had one in stock so she offered to waive the shipping cost to me and I accepted. I was really excited when I got it in the mail. I couldn't wait to try it out.

This pack is really cool and for $27 it should be. I still experienced some minor bouncing but the other features kinda made up for it. First, the pack is breathable, which means that it allows air to circulate between your back and the pack. Which is nice when you sweat alot. Second, there are so many compartments to put your things and yet it remains really slim and everything stays in place when strapped on. Third, I personally think it looks nice and I am all about running fashion...hahaha. I guess in the end this pack was worth the price to me and I use it all the time on long runs. If I had to do it all over again, I would buy it again. Go to their site and check out all the cool running accessories they offer. Customer service is great too!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

UCLA Run/Walk 5k

EVENT: UCLA Run/Walk 5k
DATE: Sunday, April 13, 2008
LOCATION: Westwood, CA
RACE BEGAN: 8:30 am
FINISH TIME: 26:36

This was my first 5k. I stayed over in Westwood to take a whack at this distance for the first time.

The race began at 8:30 am with a loud firetruck siren. I sped off with my Facebook friend, from nearly the front of the line and got burned by so many college students. As soon as I took a breath, I realized how hot the air was, being amidst a heat wave in Southern California. And my throat was burning from the sudden illness I had picked up toward the end of the week due to my stress. Not good.

The course was not too interesting... curved around from Wilson Plaza to the Court of Sciences and back. On the way toward the halfway point, I saw my friend and waved. My other friend said hello to me, but he said I was concentrating too hard and didn't notice him.

I walked at every hill... a total of about 4 times, around 1/4-1/3 of a mile. I felt so guilty!!! I did not walk at all in the 10k and in some of my half-marathons, but for this 5k, I thought I was going to pass out a number of times and had to stop. My legs were not spent at all, but everything from the head up felt so bad!! Okay, enough of my guilt.

When I came in, I was surprised that the clock was in the 26-minute range. I ripped off the bottom of my bib for the timing but took so long to get it to the collector (but I think they accounted for it?). There was a lot of food post-race, but I instead sat around with my Facebook friend to chat for a while.

I proceeded to a Teo Chow recess event in which I won a watermelon eating contest. It was actually counted by teams, but I was by far the first one to declare I had finished my allotted portion. I think I do better in eating contests than 5k's, but I may give this distance another whack sometime soon.

I don't know if they took any pictures, but if they did, I will post my dying-ness.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

...And Many Drops to Drink

According to the article below, I might be drinking too much water. I think I get at least 10 glasses, if not more, per day!

The article basically attests that there is insufficient evidence for these commonly believed benefits of "8 glasses a day":
  • Weight loss/appetite suppression: I believe this because hunger is hunger...
  • Flushing of toxins/clear skin: I also agree, though my skin woes are beyond a water issue
  • Decreasing headaches: I had frequent headaches in high school that went away after drinking more water, and I hardly get any nowadays
So take this article with a grain of salt, or a bottle of water. Of course, I agree that as a runner, one could easily overhydrate, but I sweat so much (ask anyone) that it would be pretty tough.

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Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23921635/

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spirit Run 10K

EVENT: Spirit Run 10K
DATE: Sunday, March 30, 2008
LOCATION: Newport Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:00 am
FINISH TIME: 54:33

After 7 half-marathons and 2 fulls, this was my first 10k. My sister looked at me as if I was dorky when I raised my hand when they asked who was running their first one.

I remember taking off very quickly because my third Nike+ Sport Kit chip died on me, and I had nothing to track my pace. At one point, I was able to see the front of the pack, but that did not last long. I slowed down after the first mile and probably some of the other subsequent ones.

It drizzled the whole time as we were running the two large loops around a business area of Newport Beach. At around mile 3, I even saw a sizable rainbow. Because we went around more than once, there were four chances for photographers to capture a pained me. My left calf was extremely tight and never really loosened up. Both quads gradually became stiff, especially on those weeny inclines that seemed like mountains.

By the time I hit mile 4, I thought I was actually at 6. This was one of the longest 6.2 miles of my life (except for marathons)!!! At around mile 5, my sister passed me, and around 5.5, I slowed (not walked) for some water. When I saw the 6 marker, I tried to sprint, which I did for a while but could not sustain. I came in a 54:33, which was a little surprising since I was expecting a 56-something. I'm surprised at how they were able to come up with a time in spite of a lack of chip timing (they used the bib's bar code). How do they do that??

The post-race area was a walk away but nice. I ate a piece of banana, a cube of cheese, a swig of orange juice, and Choklat Crunch samples.

Later on, I found out I had placed second in my division (F 19-24). Apparently college-aged chicks don't run or something. I should have attended the awards ceremony, but I had no idea. But I believe I get a keychain, which, if strung on a thick ribbon, is a "medal." So maybe I didn't run a race without a medal after all.

I'll update later with the race pictures (hopefully) and my fake medal if I get it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

SAI D-Chip Timing


This year's LA Marathon featured a new chip timing system. This one is a computerized strip attached to your bib, and you peel it off to thread it onto your shoelaces. It ends up looking like a "D" shape, hence the name. Genius me didn't stick it on correctly the first time, but the adhesive was good enough to hold on for the race even after I unpeeled it for adjustment (backed up by a piece of tape, which I don't think was necessary).

I like this system because results were SO instant, since they didn't have to collect the chips at the end. Results were instantaneously available, so they were able to text-message your splits to whomever subscribed. Best of all, no lifting my dead legs after the race for chip removal (and I'm sure the volunteers were happy about that). It made the finish line much less crowded, so firefighters were able to high-five us instead!

These are definitely more secure than the chips. I have to use two of those ties to get those chips to stop feeling so wobbly. Once, I even had to use safety pins to reinforce it. I don't know if this D-chip thing will be catching on, but they certainly get my vote.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Evidence of Declaration



The above is a screenshot from my old online journal. It's funny how far I've come.

March 20, 2008 (next Thursday) is my two-year "anniversary" of formal distance training. I'm hoping my total (estimated) mileage will hit 1500 by then, which would average to 750 a year. That's not high, but at the same time, I took quite a few lengthy breaks/slow periods during these past few years.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pieces of the 'Pod

On the evening before LA Marathon, my sister asked me for possible songs to download. So I went onto my iPod Nano 2G and went to the section that contains the song titles. Upon scrolling a bit, I noticed a pattern, or should I say, progression... (click the picture for a closer look)

BBR - Bench, Bike and Run

EVENT: BBR - Bench, Bike, Run
DATE: Friday, March 7, 2008
LOCATION: Irvine, CA
START TIME: 12:30 pm
FINISH TIME: ?

I think Nobel4Lit covers almost all the races that we do together so this will be my first race post since she is not doing this race. Mainly because this is a work place event and we work at different places. Well, this event is not really an official race but something that people at my company put together each year for fun. It is not company sponsor, just a friendly little race among coworkers. This is the third year this event has been going on at my work. Normally held during the month of March.

The rules are that all male competitors can bench their body weight, 30 secs head start time for each rep. completed for the bike and run portion. No limit on how many reps you can bench for the men. For the first time, this event has a female category. In the past, all females had an automatic head start. I can't remember how much. This year all female competitors must bench to gain head start time. Ten reps of 50 lbs for 5 minutes, 75 lbs for 7.5 minutes and 100 lbs for 10 minutes, and so on. Incomplete sets of 10 result in no time earned. I've been practicing but can only do about 50 lbs at the moment. Seeing that the race is tomorrow, I don't think that I will increase so I will just have to make it up on the run portion. Bike portion is 10 miles and run is 3 miles. I will post some photos of the event next week if they come out good. :D

Power Crunch Choklat Crunch Bar

At every race expo, these Power Crunch guys come out with their wafer-like energy bars cut up in small pieces for sampling. They even give you two full-sized bars to take home.

I am not a big fan of these bars, but Tea Time is, and maybe she can write a review of them.

However, these folks also have a "choklat" bar that is pretty darn good. They were giving them out after the LA Marathon, and although I would have eaten anything at the finish line, this even tasted good the next day.

It's like eating a huge, thick Crunch Bar, except it has 10 grams of whey protein per serving. I believe the bar has 2 servings, making it about a 440 calorie bar. It even rips off in pieces the way other chocolate bars do.

Choklat Crunch comes in Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate flavors.

L-Glutamine

I have noticed that ever since I took the plunge and became a "runner," I've been popping so many more pills than before.

One of these pills is L-glutamine, which is a naturally-occuring amino acid in the body that is sapped after something grueling like extended periods of heavy weight-lifting or... running.

Tea Time convinced us to take two of these after some of the longer long runs during my marathon training. The first time was after an 18-miler. The next day, I walked around Downtown LA during lunchtime without the normal amount of stiffness and soreness. I was convinced.

So my pill-popping routine after the marathon was 2 after the race, 2 before bed, 2 the next morning, and 2 the next evening. By the day after "the day after," my body had almost forgotten that it had just endured a marathon! I am so impressed by the recovery so far.

Even the huge chafing that I got has basically scabbed and fallen off by now, though I don't think the pills are to credit for that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Clif Shot Bloks

What I Say Now:

Okay, so I have relied on these as a substitute for gel for this past training season (on runs more than 15 miles). I simply get very hungry and need some sustenance after running for more than two hours, and hydration can only get you so far.

I have grown to love the Strawberry and CranRazz flavors of these bloks. They also come in Margarita, Orange, and a few others that I haven't tried. Like gels, you definitely need water to wash them down, though.


What I Said Then (10/16/06):

I had a sample of this lying around for probably longer than acceptable and ate it about an hour before a long run. I don't know if it did anything, but I think I received a nice spurt of early energy. They have a strange texture sort of like a huge gummy bear but are otherwise good eaten over an extended period of time with lots of water. I personally would not eat them while running, at least not before lots of practice.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hitting the Wall

Hitting the wall. We've all been there. In the simplest terms it is about "running out of energy". In complicated terms, there are lots of mental and physical aspects to it. I was talking to Nobel4Lit the other day on our car ride home after running the LA Marathon and the topic of hitting the wall came up. I guess this topic is very popular post-marathon running. Nobel4Lit commented that despite doing everything she knew to prevent hitting this imaginery wall, somehow she ended up doing just that. I was lucky this year that this did not hit me as hard. So I decided to look more into this.
Have you ever found yourself feeling like this at the start of a marathon and then suddenly you find yourself feeling like this , and then slowly but surely you .

So what can be done to lessen the chance of hitting the wall? There are so many articles out there saying so many different things about wall-hitting prevention. But there are a couple of main ideas that stand out. These are just things that I've pulled out of these articles that I've never tried but will in my next training and race. I am no expert but just want to share what I've read.

1) If you consume an energy drink with protein during endurance events, you will lessen your chance of hitting the wall. I guess it doesn't have to be an energy drink but protein in general. I think liquid is probably the easiest to digest while running.

2) If you start out too fast in the beginning than what you are capable of, you will surely end up hitting the wall. I think the key is to pace yourself. And run at a steady pace the whole way through. I think this is where a Garmin would come in handy.

3) Then there are those who believe that if you are going to run 26.2 miles that you should train up to 26.2 miles. There are lots of training programs out there that only train to mile 20. Leaving the last 6.2 to chance and blind faith. I actually agree with this one. If your body has never been through running 26.2 miles and you only train up to mile 20, the last 6.2 will kick your butt.

4) I've also read that it is important to take advantage of all the liquid and aid stations along the route. Even if you don't feel like it, try to drink something at every stop. I drank alot this year and discovered that it really did make a difference.

5) Lastly, I am a big supporter of electrolyte capsules (see my review here). Because as much as I like to think that I consume enough Gatorade or water, I really don't. These capsules have saved me a couple of times from painful muscle spasms.

If anyone has any suggestions or knowledge of this and would like to share some preventive tips, please do.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Los Angeles Marathon XXIII (2008)

EVENT: Los Angeles Marathon XXIII

DATE: Sunday, March 2, 2008
LOCATION: Hollywood / Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 8:15 am
FINISH TIME: 04:50:24

Let me start off by saying that although I've done this race before, I was still very excited about it. I don't think there is anything else quite like training for and running a marathon.

Three of my sisters and I did this race this year, the older three having done it at least once before and the younger one's first time. After we returned from the Expo on Saturday, we decided to buy these $1 bunny ears and wear them to the race. (4 for us and 1 for my 10-year-old sister who we decided is too young to do this yet... hi, Kwi!!).

Getting to the race took a while because we needed to cross the street to get to the subway, and the bike tour was cutting through our path. We had to dash across when we finally saw a gap in the riders. Whew! We got to the start at about 7:45 am. I spotted a fellow volunteer from our group who was running for a stroke group. And because the news cameramen were interested in us four girls in bunny ears, we got on TV! (SEE PICTURE: Yes, the MarathonFoto shots are SMALL, so it was either the huge PROOF watermark or a picture you could barely see. This was taken at the LA Coliseum at around Mile 15).

At around 8:25, we were off. I noticed that the initial crowding was much improved from last year, or maybe I have gotten more proficient at dodging people. Those first few miles felt good. I took it easy on the downhills just as Hal Higdon advises, and finished my first 10k in 58:20, which is very much like that of a half-marathon. I think I probably went out too fast, but I really didn't feel like I was trying very hard at that point.

Early on in the race, I also ran into someone I met on Facebook who was doing his first marathon. I think it was at mile 5 or so as we were turning a corner. I saw a guy who looked like the said person's pictures and saw that his name matched, so I said hello. We ran together for brief time before I had to stop at a water station. I should mention at this point that I definitely don't mind if readers of this blog (hi, Mike!) say hello to me if you happen to run into me during a race.

I slowed down after the halfway point to eat some Shot Bloks, drink some salt tablets, and down some extra water. The heat had climbed into what felt like mid-70's, and my face was already beet-red. I got a lot of extra cheers, photographers, and attention because of my ears, which was both good and bad. At around mile 7-8, I saw a guy in pink ears who gave me a "come hither" look, which would have been funny if I was still feeling good.

Miles 9-13 were grueling because of the heat. I thought of Mammoth and snow, but that didn't help. At mile 12, I met with the Rebuilding Together president, who took some embarrassing pictures of me. It was definitely encouraging and a nice break because I was tired of running.

My half split was about 2:19 (at which point I thought, "@#$&, only halfway?!"), which is not great, but I have run a half in that time before. I lowered one bunny ear to signify my fatigue (the other one went down at Mile 25). The second half of the race was tough as predicted. I ran very slowly and tried to keep my composure for the many cameramen at Exposition Park. By mile 18, I was just hoping for all of this to end as I made my way to the Salonpas pain spray lady at mile 19. I couldn't feel the stuff doing anything for my leg, by the way.

And at 22, over the long bridge coming into Downtown LA, my right calf cramped. I had been running through miles 20-22 when that happened, so to try to keep going, I shifted emphasis onto my left leg, at which point my left quadricep cramped also. I walked/ran the remainder of the race, wondering why I did this to myself (electing to run this race)... again. I was disappointed that this happened again in spite of all the additional training I did this year and the fact that I've done this before. Those moments were those "this is the hardest thing I've ever done" and "when will this end?!" ones. At 23-24, I called my friend so she could distract me and told her that I was going to have to go for the last 2 miles because I would only be making struggling noises. Yep, the infamous "wall." I was dying.

In spite of the finish being so close, I couldn't run. Someone would cheer, and I'd run until they focused on someone else... then walk again. But I somehow managed to run the last .2 at some sort of pace, although my legs were about to buckle. My finish time was 4:59 clock, 4:50:24 chip.

When I finished, I made 2 bananas, half of a chocolate protein thing, and 1 apple slice packet disappear so fast that I worried I'd get sick to my stomach. I was so hungry but also relieved that it was over. I had to walk a lot before my legs stopped feeling as if they were about to charlie horse everywhere the minute I stopped. Oh, and the chafing... I got two HUGE scuffs that stung like Hades in the shower.

This year's race was especially fun because so many people I knew were doing it also. I know I can improve on my race time, though I don't want to think about that right now. I thought this was going to be my last LA Marathon (because I wanted to try other races), but there's something so charming about it... and it's close to home. The course support was excellent (e.g., "Finish strong, Bunny!"). I don't know if many other races can claim such a crowd.

However, I must mention that the LA Marathon did not deliver on three things: Mariachi Mile, inspirational banners at "the wall" point, and Emerald Nuts snacks in the last 5 miles. I wasn't THAT slow, so it's not like all that stuff was there and then disappeared. What gives?

Kudos to all the finishers I know: Tea Time, Rattles, Boopid, Kathy, Kelly, Emily, Efren, Peter, Joseph, Mike (x2!), Burgess, and Jonathan. Also, thanks to everyone who sponsored Rebuilding Together (raised over $440 for them... wahey!). And on that note, thanks to Tim for cheering for us at Mile 12! Lastly, thanks to everyone who thought of me!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Terra-Cycle: Gimme Your Energy Bar Wrappers!


For every energy bar wrapper I collect, 2 cents goes to my charity of choice. I chose Rebuilding Together, of course.

Please visit this site for more information. You can also sign up for other collection drives.

So don't look at me weird if you think I am trash-picking...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Carbo Load Pasta Recipe


This is also one of those overdue post that I was meaning to write but decided to run instead or watch TV, I forget..haha. I was watching the food network one day a few years back and despite the fact that I almost never cook, this receipe was so easy and tasty looking that I decided to give it a go. I've since made this pasta many times over and have even made it for pre-race day dinners. It is really lite and fresh and I almost end up eating more than I need. :) Serve this up with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese, some warm bread with some butter smother on it and you are good to go on the big day. The link below is the original recipe and I mostly make it that way. Sometimes I even throw in a can or two of chopped clams. I'm sure everyone has their own pre-race pasta dish, but if you don't, here is a good one. You can essentially look at the ingredients list to judge if you will like the flavor. Looks something like this (I found this picture on the web of someone who actually made this dish, although the one I make looks just like that).

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Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_30656,00.html

Endurolytes

So I've been meaning to write this review for quite some time but just never got around to it for some reason or another. So this is overdue. This was one of those products I discovered by word of mouth. A friend of mine was telling a friend of his, who is an endurance biker that I ran alot and the biker guys recommended this stuff to me. What can I say about this stuff except that it has saved my cramping calves on more than one occasion. This stuff is basically electrolyte in pill form, but it is so much more. This stuff is great for long runs and race day, especially if it is hot (ie LA Marathon 2007). You can use the link below to get to the Hammer Nutrition site who manufactures this stuff. They mostly market to endurance biker but I figure what's good for the biker is also good for the runner. :) I mean just ask Lance! Hammer also makes this great energy gel that I also love and will review at a later time. I've shared these pills with my sisters on some of our long runs together and they are giving it the thumbs up. Honestly this stuff will help you out if nothing else at those dreaded last 6 miles on that big day. But if you plan to use this stuff on the big day, you should probably buy some and test it out on practice runs to make sure your stomach will not object to it. I have a very sensitive stomach and this stuff does not bother me but everyone is different.

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Link: http://www.e-caps.com/za/ECP?PAGE=PRODUCT&CAT=ELECT&PROD.ID=4037&OMI=10104,10082,10047&AMI=10104