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

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
START TIME: 12:30 pm

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.


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!!