Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bikes

In an effort to try my hand (or legs) in the world of biking, I shopped around a got a bike at the Temple City Bike Shop.

To comfortably afford one, I sold my mp3 mixer, which was lying around the house unused anyway.

I did not know the difference between the different types of bikes -- road, moutain, and hybrid, or how to properly use gears -- until I started looking around.

You see, I was using a mountain bike that my dad got at Wal-Mart. And though that was not an issue, the height makes me EXTREMELY uncomfortable both psychologically and physically.

Pictured: Diamondback Clarity 1 - 2009 -- I bought this bike on 12/21/08!

UPDATE (2/17/09):

I don't believe I've had a chance to review my bike. I was waiting on this so that I could get more experience on it, but I think I have developed a good enough relationship with it to start.

In short, I really don't regret purchasing this bike at all. Although I don't have much time to ride it because of poor biking conditions in my city and the time I need to dedicate to work(s), school, and running, I believe it and I will be together for a long time. One of the reasons I like this bike so much is that it feels stable, much more than any of the other bikes I tested during my search. Also, I like how the gears are adjustable via levers instead of twisting the handlebars. I like how everything comes off with a simple lever and how cool my bike looks when I'm riding it. It has elements of a road bike, with medium-width smooth tires, with the ability to ride bumpy terrian without too much scariness. One of my favorite things to do is ride around the parking lot at work where there are speed bumps, sidewalks, and uneven road to ride.


Pictured: Diamondback Insight 1 2009


"The Ukrainian" finally got his bike on 2/22/09 at the store, Reseda Bicycles. Like me, he made the realization that these Diamondbacks are easy-to-use and function well for their cost. In addition to maybe some casual races, he is planning on using his for errands (bank, post office, grocery store), which works better for him since the area he lives in has bike lanes abound. I should note that this bike is pretty much the men's version of my bike (see the "boyfriend and girlfriend
bikes" picture below) .















Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Worst of Times...

I have been thinking about money lately and the ways in which my spending has shifted over the past few months since the "economic disruption" occurred. Since taking my second job, I actually took a pay cut, so I have been trying really hard to hold back on my purchases.

It's a losing battle, really, but maybe the running expenditures have cut down a bit?

I haven't bought any sport drink, gel, or any supplement in a while. Perhaps because I'm so busy, I get fewer runs in, but at the same time, when I do run, I don't use as much. In training for my upcoming marathon, I think I will only need one more gel (for a grand total of 2, which is the same amount I will bring to the race).

I have signed up for fewer races this year, although two of them require lodging.

I also have not needed to get running shoes (yet) or new clothing, as I've been perfectly fine in race-provided garments. All of this will probably need to be replaced, and with my luck, all at once.

Anyone else have anything to chime in?

Obviously, the money I spend on my running hobby is totally worth it. Pride is forever, as they say.

Glucosamine

I have been taking glucosamine for nearly two years now. I originally started when I started upping my mileage on the street and started feeling twinges in my knees.

Whether this stuff actually cushions joints is up for debate. Regardless, it took a good few months before I "thought" it was working. Perhaps it's the good ol' placebo effect.

Since taking these, I've never had that "I'm going to break" feeling... in my knees, that is. In general, however, I feel broken because I'm tired and overworked (I had to call in "sick" to one of my jobs today because I was tired, fed up, wanted to go to the gym and shop, and had to work on my thesis and study for exams). But anyway, the knees are fine. I'm not sure if this is because I got stronger overall, but I'll take what I can get.

Currently, I am taking generic glucosamine, but I do switch off with Osteo Bi-Flex (Triple Strength with Joint Shield). It is not cheap (can be up to ~$30 an economy-sized/180 tablet bottle, but I have found them on sale for about $12). Their website offers coupons and a rewards program (I've been saving my "points").

The pills themselves are a little big and taste "muy malo" (i.e., bad), so chug 'em down quickly. I have mastered the art of swallowing the two daily pills and a multivitamin simultaneously.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

C9 Jacket and Nike Running Gloves



So I was at Target a couple of weeks ago and noticed a C9 water-proof jacket in neon purple. I liked it... :D but did not want to pay full price for it so I walked away. Luckily a few weeks later I came back to Target to find the jacket on sale and it was the last one in my size. I got it in the neon purple which is bright...haha. So I took it as a sign that I should buy the jacket. I took it out recently on a long run which I started very early in the morning. I have trouble running when my core is not warm. This jacket kept me really warm. I think it was too much later on during my long run but it was nice in the earlier part.

I also picked up a pair of Nike running gloves. The pair I have is made of fleece and is a little more heavy duty then the lite running gloves. It isn't for running where it is very cold but it does the job in 40-50 degrees weather. Probably too thick if it is any warmer than that. It takes me a long time to warm up when I start to run which is why I need this stuff and I don't like the cold. Normal people can probably use this stuff for very cold runs but I put these on at the slightest cold. Each glove also has these small pockets where the palm area is that can hold 1 key each.

I like these two items because they are well made. Since I sweat in them all the time, I wash them alot and they come out of the wash looking like new.

Who Let the Dogs Out?


I'm sure that poor Tea Time can attest to how inconvenient dogs can be to a good run. Don't get me wrong, I really adore and admire dogs, but since I'm cynical and believe that there are really bad people in the world, there must be some pretty mean dogs out there. Bad people => bad dogs (there are no such things as inherently bad dogs).

The other day, I was squeezing in a 17-miler at the park in the afternoon. I probably should have done this in the morning for a plethora of reasons, but I had woken up late feeling like crud. I guess "The Ukrainian" and I had too much fun on Valentine's Day window shopping, dancing, cooking, eating, and falling asleep in front of Charlie Brown cartoons.

Anyway, there are waaaaay more kids, bikes, and dogs out during the afternoon. Now, the park has explicit signs saying to keep all dogs on a leash, but just like weirdo people who have 14 children, people become selfish and do their biddings. So even though my run was already going badly due to crampy legs, I had to factor in time each time I had to slow/stop my running to not aggravate dogs running toward this running girl. At least none of them were exceptionally large or rabid-looking. They were small dogs that I could have kicked if I wished. I used to carry around pepper spray partially for this purpose, but I have since lost it (it was pretty beat up anyway, and people were giving me flack about carrying one without a license/training).

If you're a dog owner, please please please consider leashing your dog when you take them out, and keeping them securely behind a gate when they are in your yards. I already get peeved when dogs run up to the gate snarling/barking/baring their teeth, but all mini-heart attacks aside, I can deal with that better than the fear of being bitten by a dog that might be disease-ridden and irresponsible owners who won't own up to their bad ownership skills.

Monday, February 16, 2009

USATF Stretch Study

UPDATE: This study is still going on, so feel free to join...

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Original Post: 5/18/08

Should you stretch before you run? This USATF study aims to find the answer. And you can be a part of it!!!

As for me, I am still undecided as to whether I am willing to add another thing to my routine.

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Link: http://www.usatf.org/stretchstudy/

Win vs. Sport Wash

So nobel4lit reviewed Sport Wash detergent recently. A detergent to rid workout clothes of imbedded sweat and odor. I also use Sport Wash but yesterday I was at Sports Authority because they had a pretty good coupon in the Sunday paper and I needed some stuff.

I used Win today for the first time and the first thing I noticed about it was that it smells so much better during the wash cycle than the Sport Wash. I think it was a bit cheaper than the Sport Wash too. The Win detergent I got from Sport Chalet was $6.99. I know that Amazon and the Win website also sells this stuff but I hate ordering online and some people have also reported that the detergent can leak during shipment.

So my clothes came out of the dryer and they smelled so good. I like Win and will buy from now on.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Googly Valentine (updated)

So Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and I've never celebrated this holiday before beyond the mandated times in elementary school... until now. Yeah, I know, so pitiful, but better late than never, I guess.

Last night, I came home from job #2 and baked a giant heart-shaped macaroon and surrounded it with "normal" ones and snuck them into his cubicle with a note. Additionally, I trashed the place by sticking a bunch of cut-out hearts around the computer monitor(s), hard hat, and cubicle walls.

(See picture below. I did not get a good picture of the macaroon heart, as it was hidden under a paper one. Darn my poor photography skills! I posted a picture of an accidentally heart-shaped oatmeal cookie instead.)

Finally, I took some of his post-its to make weird remarks to things he already had on his desk.
I mostly did this to embarrass him, as he shares a mega-cubicle with three (male) co-workers that I've met before. One of them ended up calling me to poke fun. Plus, I was discouraged from having to do any "work" on Valentine's Day, as this is also *his* first one and wanted to make it his responsibility to make it fun. I'm sure no matter what we do, it will be fun, as I haven't been able to see much of him at all since I started school again three weeks ago.

How does this fit into a running blog? I'm not sure, but I since I met *him* in the gym, I think my running was what led to everything else.

Accel Gel


I originally switched to Accelerade as my sport drink of choice because it does not contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which as has been rampant in health news lately, is very bad for you.

However, I believe this stuff, Accel Gel, has some in there, as many gels do. In spite of this, I like this gel and have made it my go-to gel.

Each gel contains about 100 calories. Like the drink, it contains some protein, which supposedly sustains endurance. They come in many flavors, my favorite being vanilla. Some other examples of flavors include strawberry kiwi, mocha, citrus orange (eew!), and chocolate.

I took these on some 18- and 20-milers and found them very replenishing without that irritation that I normally get in my stomach from consuming gels during a run (where do you think this blog got its name from?). This is surprising, since the line of Accelerade products contain dairy, which does not settle well with me.

Anyway, you can be sure that I will be consuming some of these soon!

Jelly Belly Sport Beans

I don't know beans about running... (or cracking jokes, obviously).

I've been meaning to review these Jelly Belly Sport Beans for a while, but I kept forgetting. I actually don't use these very often, but they taste good as jelly beans.

These come in a few flavors -- fruit punch, lemon-lime, orange, and some blue one that I won't even go near because I don't eat artificially blue things. As for taste. they pretty much mirror the taste of regular jelly beans, except they seem less "sugary."

I like these because they are nice and portable. I took them on a 20-miler once, but they were not enough to sustain me. One small pouch, which has maybe 10-15 larger-than-normal jelly beans, has about 100 calories, which is less than a gel. Additionally, I'm sure that gel delivers better sugars than these beans do. I am categorizing this entry until the "gel" label, though, because I think in some cases, it can substitute gels.

These beans do not upset my stomach, though, and give people who like to chew something to do while they are running those long, long miles besides going out of their minds.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sport Wash

I've gone through two bottles of this Sport Wash, which is readily available at Sport Chalet.

As many runners might know, it is hard to keep the smell of accumulated sweat and sunscreen out of your clothes over time, especially in technical fabrics.

I usually run in regular cotton t-shirts, but to freshen them up, I was using a capful of this stuff in warm water to wash my sports bra, shorts, and shirt for a while. The detergent smells a little bit like weak (lemony) dishwashing liquid.

Overall, this worked pretty well, though not significantly better than detergent enough to shell out $10 for approximately a liter or so. I think they sell an economy-sized bottle as well, but every time I go get some, there is only one left, and it looks beat up/leaky.

Monday, February 9, 2009

7 on the 7th

EVENT: 7 on the 7th
DATE: Monday, February 9, 2009 (oops!)
LOCATION: a gym in Rosemead, CA
RACE BEGAN: 05:30 pm (approximately)
FINISH TIME: 01:05:00

Run to Finish once again challenged her readers to get up and move! This is not the first time I've done a virtual race (I should start blogging about the annual 26.2k race that I run with forum-ites, which I've done twice already), but this is my first attempt at reporting on one.

Anyway, this "event" was called 7 on the 7th, which basically mandated running 7 miles or more on February 7th. However, on the 7th, which was a Saturday, I was too tired from the week, it was raining, and I had a tea party to attend, so I would try my 7 on the 8th.

Come Sunday, I started off during the early 7 am hour to do my run, and about half a mile later, it started to rain. I thought I'd try to get through it, but it only got worse and stopped at 3. Normally, I would have no problem running through the rain, but since I live at home now, I didn't want my mom to... well, be a mom and say stuff like getting sick in the rain, or whatever other myths (add on the Asian ones as well).

On Monday, although rainy still, I had a stroke of good luck, as my evening class was canceled. I went to school anyway to attend a community meeting and work on my thesis data. During the community meeting, I ate three large potato wedges, which is SO not clean, but oh well. Then I headed over to run some errands and go to the gym.

I saw "The Ukrainian" running in the crowded gym. This was around 5:30 pm. He was just about finished up, so I took his treadmill, which was the only one with a fan (thank goodness, 'cuz I needed it!!). I got on there just hoping to get my 7 done, but it turned out to be a much longer run than that. And I only had some unsweetened blueberry green tea in my water bottle, too.

Splits:

  • 7 miles: 01:05:00 (actual); 01:10:00 (projected)
  • 10 miles: 01:33:00
  • 13.1 miles: 02:01:34
  • 15 miles: 02:18:10

Is anyone else disturbed that I ran my 13.1 miles faster than at my race last weekend? How did I let things get "too far" with this supposed 7-miler? The "brilliant" idea struck me as I was running, as I knew I should get a 15-, 17-, and 20-miler in before next month's marathon.

On a final note, I will say that I am sorry for my treadmill (yes, it's my favorite one now that my former favorite one become squeaky). "The Ukrainian" and I tortured the poor thing (a total of 25 miles with pretty much no break).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Body Glide



Last year while I was at a race expo (I forgot which one), I purchased a travel size Body Glide to try out. I've heard about it for a while now and decided that I should give it a try since I HATE chafing! Yeah, I finally came around to reviewing this product and I must say that I love it. You can probably get away with using a cheap jar or tube of petroleum jelly or the more expensive version called Aquaphor, but this stuff is less messy to use. You apply it like you would a deodorant stick so your hands stay clean and I like clean. You can find it at most race expo, chain sporting good stores like Sport Chalet and at all running shoes store.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Surf City USA Half-Marathon 2009

EVENT: Surf City USA Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, February 1, 2009
LOCATION: Huntington Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:45 am (wave start)
FINISH TIME: 02:03:21

As part of the California Dreamin' Race Series, which will require me to run this race, the San Francisco Half-Marathon, and Long Beach Half-Marathon within the next two years, I ran this half-marathon in Huntington Beach again.


Let me first off start by saying that in spite of everything I am about to mention, I kept thinking, "At least it isn't raining."

So after some delays and almost forgetting my Garmin, we headed over to the race at 5:30 AM and just like last year, did not get to the start line until 7:50, five minutes past the first-wave start. For a race that expanded, they sure did not accomodate them with extra parking spots. Fortunately, there were still many people who had not yet begun, so our late selves blended in just fine.

I started off the first mile with my sister and "The Ukrainian," finishing in about 9 minutes. Once the initial crowd thinned slightly (though the field was pretty darn crowded the entire time), I teetered between 9-ish minute miles and 8:30-ish minute miles. I finished the first three in the pretty much same time that I clocked in at UCLA's 5K last year. The next few miles were rough on my quads as we went uphill. These miles basically demolished any leg power I had for the remainder of the race.

After mile 5, I was getting soooo tired and heavy-legged. I guess that's what happens when you don't train enough. I was still hoping to come in under 2 hours, but with all the stops I made, I should be thankful that I didn't do much worse than I did.

The last mile was tough, as basically between miles 8-13, you are running a straight shot whence we came, which is traumatic psychologically. I barely had anything in me to sprint the last .1 mile, but I did, coming in at 2:03. This is a weird outcome for me, since typically I either run sub-2 or around 2:10.

After the race, I was drained for energy but not necessarily hungry. My crew and I lingered way too long trying to find each other, but oh well. I felt mostly fine, except I know I will be very sore in the upcoming days, as my legs are not used to running that kind of distance anymore...

This race has made me very nervous about my upcoming marathon, as I know I have lost a lot of endurance due to lack of time to train. The only reason I didn't do much worse today was because I have developed a lot of new leg speed due to me rushing through my training when I can get to it, as well as my bike-riding (both the one in the gym and my actual one).