Thursday, January 31, 2008

Metabolic Woes

So yesterday, I had my VO2 Max tested using a New Leaf metabolic test kit, which is a metabolic measure of "the maximum capacity to transport and utilize oxygen during incremental exercise" (Wikipedia).

This test was one of the prizes I had to choose from that I received for high gym attendance during the holiday season. The test involved wearing this green mask that basically made me look like a fly (see pic on the right, although I was on a treadmill and my mask is green and mine to keep). The mask blocks off oxygen/carbon dioxide from coming from/out of anywhere but a tube that is connected to a reading device. I also had to wear a chest strap heart monitor covered in gel.

The test began with walking 3 mph, increasing to 6 mph, incline then going from 0.0-6.0 grade. Since I was still a bit run down from a cold, I was having a tough time toward the end of the test, but I made it through.

The result? VO2 Max is 49 (38 is average for my age and gender). So I am above average (the top of the chart was 60). Somehow I was a bit unsettled that I didn't do better, but hey, what can I expect? I'm a geek, which is why I chose this prize over a massage.

So I learned that I burn fat best at certain heart rates. Burning fat means that I can rely on that as an energy source when my sugar stores are gone. Definitely worth exploring over these last few weeks of training for the marathon. I preordered the Garmin Forerunner 405, but I don't think that will come in time, or if it does, I don't think I will have time to use it effectively.

In the future, I can test again for $20. I think it is a worthwhile thing to do. Just like I am in class, I will not settle for just "above average," though I do know that there is a genetic limit to this as well.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

I had a chance to see this with my friend, sister, and company. The movie follows the stories of a few La Salle Chicago Marathon 2005 runners, ranging from Kenyan to Deena Kastor to an old man. Also featured were famous running people such as Hal Higdon and Paula Radcliffe.

There was a lot of subtle running humor in this movie. For instance, the old man said that the only time he has a runner's high is when he stops (I concur!). I was amazed by this couple that eventually both ran Boston together. I hate to be vague, but my other sister has not seen this movie and should catch the February 21, 7:30 pm encore. Yes, this movie was originally one night, one time only.

Watching the more emotional parts of the movie brings me back to my first marathon last year, my third race ever, and how I nearly lost it at mile 22-23... I don't mean physically either. I think I was too tired to hold back both frustration with my cramping legs, the kindness of a fellow runner who stopped to spray my legs and encouraged me to go on, and the disbelief that, yeah, it was almost over. Okay, enough sentimentality. I am ready to complete my training and have a good time on March 2!!



Monday, January 21, 2008

Carlsbad Half-Marathon

EVENT: Carlsbad Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, January 20, 2008
LOCATION: Carlsbad, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:30 am
FINISH TIME: 02:12:23

Part 1 of 3 of the Triple Crown!

The Carlsbad Half-Marathon is the first race of the Half-Marathon Triple Crown series and claims to be the fastest half in the West.

This race was slightly complicated because it is about 100 miles from where I live, but thanks to my friend who took me down to the expo and my sister who lives about halfway there, we managed to get to the start line about two minutes before start. The start line was at a Westfield mall.

I know I started off a little too fast, though the field was very narrow and crowded throughout most of the race. I was doing a lot of rude weaving because people were just being rude. I can't stand when people shove their way to the front of the start line when they just intend on running a few steps and then stopping. And walkers belong at the END of the pack. Why can't people line themselves up appropriately? End of rant.

This race advocated not throwing cups on the floor. I can proudly say that I did not, even though at one point I ran a mile with a cup of Ultima electrolyte drink and spilled most of its contents on myself. I thought it was pretty funny to see people throwing the cups down anyway, though people were sweeping them up as quickly as they were dropped.

The first three or so miles were in the residential/light business areas, then leading up to the oceanfront. I would have liked to be closer to the water. It was probably about 50 degrees at that point, but I always thrive on breezes. At this point, I realized that I shouldn't have worn my new pair of shoes that were about 40 miles broken in. Both of my ankles were already sore.

Starting at the fifth mile, there were steady inclines pretty much at every other mile, which made me wonder why they claimed to be a flat race. Bull! I slowed down dramatically because my calves were tightening.

At the halfway point, we turned around. My 6.6 mile split time (yeah, very weird measurement) was around 1:06, which is six minutes slower than usual. I was dreading the rest of the race and started walking. I probably walked a total of a mile throughout the last half of the race. My legs were both hurting in various places, and both arches in my soles were pretty much charlie-horsed. I'm sure the photographers got a lot of pictures of a pained me.

The last part of the race was through a downtown sort of area, mostly downhill. I sprinted the last mile because it was shady and breezy. I was actually a bit surprised that the clock was not at 2:20 or 2:30 or something... because I was expecting a personal worst time. I came in at around 2:17 gun, 2:12 chip time. I struggled to lift my leg to remove my chip. And then I started cramping everywhere as I tried to make my way back to the lot.

I waited about half an hour for people, but my sister and I needed to head back home ASAP to celebrate my mom's birthday. She ended up getting a 1:53, which I one day hope to get. I have one more half-marathon before the Los Angeles Marathon in March, so hopefully I get a better time there. I can't say I'm horribly disappointed... I did what I could do given my dumb decisions. Sometimes I wish I did not hit 2:05 while ill during the very scary Rose Bowl Half, because that sent the message to me that I could easily do better in a flat race. I don't know what is keeping me from doing so, but for now, all I can do is continue to train as faithfully as possible.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I was going to wait until after running a 20-miler to review this, but I could not wait. Drinking a bottle of Accelerade (lemon/lime flavor) during an 18-miler yesterday didn't make an obvious difference during the run or even that period right after, but this morning, I woke up with pretty much no soreness, climbed stairs at the courthouse, walked around downtown for an hour, and then headed to the gym for some elliptical.

I was trying to rationalize this. I did a few things differently for this run that may have contributed to the seemingly quick recovery, such as:

  • Took 2 salt tablets during the beginning of the run - per my sister's recommendationl; I think that was to help with cramping during the run and does nothing afterward.

  • Drank a bottle of Accelerade

  • Ate 2 Clif Shot Bloks - for sustained energy and hunger deterrence during the run, as I usually don't eat during them

  • Drank 2 "recovery" (L-glutamine) pills afterward - per my sister's recommendation; this may have helped too

Regardless, I am pretty convinced that Accelerade definitely helped, and it also doesn't leave as poor of a taste in your mouth as Gatorade. Since I only have one monstrous run left before marathoning, I don't need to buy anymore of this because I have exactly one bottle left for it. If you recall, I bought two bottles a long time ago (buy one get one free promotion) and have barely gotten to using them. They taste a little "foamier" and juice-like than Gatorade. You will definitely have to get used to it, but when you are running and thirsty, you probably won't care.

I may check for more coupons and swing by Ralph's to get some more so I can experiment a little more with these.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Premier Nutrition Protein Shake (Chocolate)

This is another entry that emerges from my drive to get more protein to heal my sore muscles, especially (in today's case) the quads, a.ka., my running guns...

With 30 g protein for only 160 calories (11 oz/serving), I expected another gag-fest as I poked a straw into this high-protein shake. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I did not really gag... this actually tasted like a really thick version of chocolate milk. There were no grainy bits or anything like that. I'm sure it would be a little better if it was thinned out with a little soy milk, or maybe even water. I'm impressed! Note, though, that there are 5g of carbohydrates in this, which really made all the difference in the world, I think.

As with all milk or soy drinks, make sure, as I did, to refrigerate these things before drinking!! I have to worry about the milk content messing with my lactose intolerance, but if it doesn't do much of that sort of damage, I wouldn't mind drinking it again if it wasn't ~$30 for 18 of these guys. Well, I guess that isn't such a bad deal. It has taken me months to finally drink this one that I had laying around (given to me by my sister), so 18 could last a long time.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Avia OC Half-Marathon 2008

EVENT: Avia OC Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, January 6, 2008
LOCATION: Newport Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:30 am
FINISH TIME: 02:08:14

I've been behind on posting complete race reviews, but at least I get them up.

Prelude: I stayed over in Irvine the night before the race, but in the process, I somehow left my shoes at home... NOT a good sign. Luckily, my friend picked them up for me, so I was good to go.

Overall, the course was a gradual uphill most of the way, narrow at many parts, and particularly crowded. The views were not spectacular; the highlight was a creek around miles 9-10. The rest were roads, residential areas, and even through some semi-private living areas. Very strange.

Although it had been raining the night before (and poured post-race), I overheated starting at mile 2-3, and I was only in a T-shirt and shorts. I knew something wasn't right when I saw my sister pass me at mile 3 (she usually does at 6). I was just feeling low on energy and decided not to push overly hard due to another half a week after next. After tha halfway point, I slowed down because my legs were feeling heavy, as is now usual as of late, and just had a goal of not walking (except at water stations). I didn't really have a time goal this time, since I wasn't really "feeling it," though I actually did try to pick up the pace after what I perceived was mile 10 (the sign was nowhere to be found, though I heard it blew over?).

I sprinted the last 0.1 mile faster than probably ever before and came in at around 2:11 gun time. Not the best, but not the worst, either. So far, this is my second-best time.

The water supply was ample, thought the Hydralyte/Gookinaid was not. I made particularly sure to walk through those because I needed some electrolytes, as my right hamstring was beginning to twitch/cramp. My left hip was also starting to hurt. If I learned anything from this race, it was that I need to eat more bananas. Speaking of bananas, I had half after the race even though they were STINGY with the food... I mean, I wanted an extra cereal bar, and they gave me the evil eye.

Next stop is Carlsbad... what a crazy way to begin the year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Nike Air Structure Triax 10+ -- mileage as of 4/27/10 = 920/500

Thanks to some very suggestive hints, I got a pair of these shoes in a size 8.5 for Christmas (credit goes to my sister... big thanks!!)! That was good timing, since my current Mizunos are at over 450 and probably not going to last much longer, though it will remain my primary for a litte while longer.

I knew I wanted these a few months ago when a Nike salesman convined me that Nike now makes a larger variety of running shoes that accomodate more people. I tried a pair on and thought they were very comfortable.

Today's test run, 4 miles, went well. I was happy that I was more cushioned than usual (my previous shoes are not very cushioning but are a little lighter). Also, there is nothing like the springiness of a new pair of shoes.

The second thing I noticed was that I felt air coming through the left sides of the shoes while I was chugging along. That was actually quite nice, but I hope that doesn't mean that dirt or water could get in (they always do, though).

I know that these retail for about $80, but Sport Chalet had a great after-Thanksgiving sale that pretty much halved the price. I think it's pretty cool to be running in Nikes, since I have somehow become a Nike you-know-what.

Oh yes, and in the left shoe, you can remove the insole to insert the chip for the Nike+ Sport Kit. I noticed that using the chip inside the shoe rather than on the laces looks better and is more accurate in terms of pacing.

Can I rant a little bit about the Nike+ Sport Kit? Here it comes, anyway: The sensor was low on batteries AGAIN, but luckily Apple replaced it (they better not charge). Since my sister got a Garmin watch for Christmas, I had thought about upgrading to one, but I remembered the original premise behind getting this kit... the fact that I already run with an iPod and thus should keep the stuff I'm carrying to a minimum. Not to mention that I do most of my runs indoors, which would render a GPS device useless because I use the Nike+ as sort of a running log that I take with me on all my runs. I don't think I'm serious enough to get a Garmin right now, but I'm sure that day will come sooner or later.

I got other cool running things for Christmas, which I will review intermittently. Lately, my energy has been sapped for some reason... and I'm actually on break, too. I tried sleeping more and eating more, but that hasn't done the trick (and has probably induced some guilt).