Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walk the Walk

Does your neighborhood walk the walk, or just talk?

This site, WalkScore, determines how "walkable" (which extrapolates to "runnable") your neighborhood is by calculating the distance between a location (e.g., your home) and commonly used places such as the library and market. I'm not sure how accurate this thing is. I mean, yes, I can walk to the library and have two big-box retailers with groceries within 2 miles of my home, but it does not take safety or pleasantness into account -- like I expect technology to know that I hate walking under freeway passes due to loudness and dead/alive pigeons and eggs. Errrrr....

Anyway... give it a try! Here's my parents' home score. The image isn't working too well on my current PC, but maybe it will on yours?):

This home’s Walk Score:®

73 out of 100 — Very Walkable

View on WalkScore.com

Walk Score House Icon Walk Score

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 6/27 - 7/3

Things That Are Going Well:
- yoga and making slow gains in flexibility
- consistent running habits
- adapting to pace
- ability to finish a workout in an hour or less if necessary
- regular strength training and stretching

Things That Aren't Going Well:
- extreme sluggishness in the morning in spite of decent amount of sleep
- temptation to eat poorly, mostly resisted but sometimes not
- stomach issues while running!!
- lack of track workouts
- wondering how I'll ever run significant distances again

Goals for This Week:
- get out to the track one time? might defer this one more week as I get in better shape
- increase some of the strength training weight by a LITTLE because I don't want to bulk up at all
- avoid stomach issues

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This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest

Monday - 20 min standing poses yoga, 6.5 mi @6.5, 20 min stretch/abs
So today was my longest training run since maybe a month and a half ago. Although I haven't been running any faster than last week, this was a leap in distance. Overall, it felt okay except that it was HOT in the gym and nearly died from that. Also, the last 1.5 miles were kind of plagued by hamstring cramps, which I had to deter by changing my running form. We'll see how tomorrow goes... I have a tough (at least to my current standards) workout planned.

Tuesday - 6.5 mi @6.5, 20 min FitMoves circuits
Happy I survived such a tough workout. I didn't get to do my yoga today because I had totally forgotten that I had dinner scheduled with friends, leaving me to get home just in time for bed...

Wednesday - 5 mi @6.5, 20 min twists yoga
Definitely need to get in my yoga. I had limited time this morning, so I cut my workout quite short (compared to usual, I suppose).

Thursday - 6 mi @3.6-6.5, 5 min bike @3.0r, 10 min arms/abs, 20 min hip openers yoga
Yes, another one of those mornings in which running seemed impossible due to sluggishness. Definitely had a good second half of the run compared to the first half. I do believe that my legs are safely getting used to this pace.

Friday - 25 min upright bike @3.0r, 25 min elliptical w/bars @ 8.0r, [planned - 20 min abs/weights]

Saturday - 6 mi - outdoors (plus a lot of standing around/walking... does that count for anything?)

Weekly Mileage: 30

Random Photo Entry 16: Calling it Wrong

Now that I've been playing with my camera more often, I love posting all of these random photo entries! All of these photos are very recent (from this past weekend -- also see my entry about The Shojin).

And here they are:

Above: Earlier in the week, I made a tuna salad. But unlike tuna salad, there was no tuna -- I subbed in chickpeas, added a bit of soy sauce and nutritional yeast flakes, and here it was, tasty VERY similiar to the real thing! I ate these for dinner one night.


Above: On Friday, I found nobody else in the locker room, so I decided to take an embarrassing, if not unflattering, photo of myself and post it up for the world to see. Those shorts are from Forever 21's workout clothing line. Yes, that trendy clothing store also came out with workout clothes, although they are cotton so not really good for running. I will also note that the sticker on that mirror is just a part of my company's safety culture!

Above: I randomly got a pair of trendy shoes. Yes, these came from Payless Shoe Source, but they were super cheap and are actually good for a height boost unlike other current trendy sandals!

Above: On Saturday, "The Ukrainian" and I tried going to a pub to watch the USA vs. Ghana game (World Cup), but the place was jammed. We did, however, eat outside on the patio and got the jist of the un-victorious game via the crowd reactions and live TV on "The Ukrainian"'s Blackberry. We both had sheperd's pie, which was my first time eating one. Mine was veggie and probably full of texturized vegetable protein. It kind of reminded me of mashed potatoes on top of stew. The man's was full of ground beef.

I was disappointed that the US did not advance to the quarterfinals, nor did South Korea or England. Thus, this blog post is titled as such just because I'm having bad luck with my team choices. I'm still rooting for Japan, who plays on Tuesday.




Above: After the disappointing game, we shopped around for a few hours and stopped at Real Food Daily for some vegan key-lime cheesecake, a parfait, and teaccuino. None of these desserts really blew me away or anything... I'm not a fan of key lime anything!

Above: On Sunday, my sisters and I had a "no-tea" tea party. Here's the spread, with Tea Time hiding in the background somewhere. Sandwiches on nutty bread included: egg, lox, BLT, and kaya. Desserts included vegan cake from Native Foods, homemade (non-vegan) pound cake, vegan macaroons and crisps, and fruit. The dip at the top is my second attempt at the "non-tuna" tuna salad at the beginning of this entry, which is vegan except for some mayo. It actually tasted better this time, which is great since I had an audience this time. I added a little bit of mustard because I forgot to bring nutritional yeast flakes home to make it...

Above: At the "no tea" party drinking our substitute for tea -- juice! This one had spinach, cucumbers, celery, and apple. I wore a green hankie because I thought we were supposed to come wearing out favorite colors, but most did not follow the theme. Please excuse my tired looks... I was sleepy! Also, Sister S's shiba inu (whose blog name is "B") is tucked away in that background somewhere...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Shojin

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to The Shojin in Downtown, LA (Little Tokyo). It was "The Ukrainian"'s idea, which scored major man points for sure. Due to the amount of pictures, I made a collage (Tip: you may want to right-click the picture and Open In... New Window).

The Shojin is a vegan organic Japanese restaurant that throws around the words "raw" and "macrobiotics" everywhere. As you can see in the picture of the restaurant front, there was a lot of unique artwork around the restaurant. We were sitting inside right near that place that says "Organic."

The prices were moderate, though definitely NOT cheap.

Here's the fare we had:

- Cranberry Apple Detox drink: I've had a detox drink before, and this one definitely followed suit with the kick of cayenne pepper at the end.

- Avocado Salad: SO yummy! The dressing was so creamy and cheesy that I thought it was dairy. Edamame and pumpkin seeds added great texture.

- Miso: Standard... a little less salty than usual due to the low-sodium philosophy at Shojin. They use sea salt for flavoring. The miso also had tofu cubes sitting at the bottom. When they served this to us, they asked if we'd like a spoon. REALLY? I know I brought a foreign "Ukrainian" to the place, but still...

- Side salad: Came with our dinners. There was a nice miso dressing on top... very nice!

- Bigger "bento" box (bottom middle): Contained pickled veggies, pumpkin croquette, fake fish with tartar sauce, red bell pepper roll, zucchini-topped roll, veggie tempura (which was lightly battered), tofu skin with wild+sticky rice

- Smaller "bento" box (bottom left): Hamburg steak (yummy and beef-like but I didn't like the salty sauce), tofu skin with wild+sticky rice, tomato+"cheese" "ravioli" (not great), 4 pieces of spicy cucumber+avocado+wasabi sushi -- NOT a fan of wasabi!

We were so full that no dessert was necessary, but they had a few raw desserts like banana chocolate cake and carrot detox "cheese"cake. I would definitely come again once in a while. This place definitely put really good flavor into everything.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Live On


Please excuse my morbidity, but I came upon this website (MyWebWill.com) that manages your online accounts after death.

If it wasn't for the $10/year charge, I would already be writing some blog posts for this blog post-humously. You can also request things such as changing your Facebook profile picture or making status updates/tweets.

I've known a couple of people who have passed on and noticed that their walls start crowding with messages from friends and family, so maybe a post from the dead could prove consoling (or freaky)?

So what say you guys to this slightly morbid concept?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rodney Yee's AM Yoga for Your Week

Note: I have this categorized under "Running Gear" because I am using this as part of a rehabilitation of sorts (see the post here).

I bought this Rodney Yee AM Yoga DVD [Gaiam] from Target for about $15. There were other videos and even other yoga ones by the same instructor Why this particular one? Well, it has five 20-minute workouts on one disc, whereas the others are generally one workout only.


The premise of this DVD is that you can do a short yoga session to wake you up in the morning before work on each workday, but I have moslty been doing them at night.

The five workouts are called:
  • Standing Poses
  • Twists

  • Backbends

  • Forward Bends

  • Hip Openers
The first time I did this, I picked "Backbends" because it was the middle one, and it was Wednesday. Once things got underway, the cat became interested and plopped herself right next to my mat. The poses were not easy but doable, except this one where you have to lay on your belly and grab both ankles from behind with your legs raised. It will be interesting to see if I can actually do it one day! I found myself having to control my breathing even if I had no intention of doing so. I always found that whole controlled breathing thing as something too "fluffy" and not for me.

After the 20 minutes, I really did feel more relaxed. I watched the interview with Rodney afterward, and he seems like a nice, practical yoga guy. I became jazzed about this whole series and asked "The Ukrainian" if he wanted to do one with me the next day. He chose the "Standing Poses." I didn't like this one as much because it was very leg-centric. Not that I couldn't use the leg stretching, but some parts of it tired my legs out, and I really could have used a full-body stretch and some butt-time on the mat, as well.

I guess "The Ukrainian" wasn't turned off, because a couple of days later, after watching The Fugitive, we did the "Twists" one. This one was kind of reminiscent of twists you might do to stretch after running and wasn't too difficult. By then, I was having trouble concentrating everytime Rodney said "buttocks flesh" in his narration. Just "buttocks" would have sufficed, but he always adds the "flesh" part, which is weird. Also, you need a towel or some other thing to create a sling for your leg.

As for "Hip Openers," expect a lot of leaning forward while sitting and some twisting. Yes, this one was tough for me, but I think it would be tough for everyone unless they have super-flexible hips. At some points, he used a yoga block, which is a foamy block about 1.5x the size of a brick. I used a nearby object as a sub, but it wouldn't work for all the exercise. But I refuse to buy a block!

Finally, I got around to the "Forward Bends," which is pretty similar to "Hip Openers." Lots of sitting like a lotus trying to lean foward. This is not easy, let alone for an inflexible runner like me, but I wasn't too bad.

All in all, I'm very excited about continuing my yoga stint. I can already feel the chronic tightness in my legs fading, though that could just be recovery in general since my running has been very slow and short lately. I would like to see how this will help me later on when I start running longer and faster.

And yes, there is some relaxation factor in all of this. I really like how each workout ends with a prayer position and the word "namaste," which in Hindu basically means "I bow to you."

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On a related note, I found a site called Yoga Download, which has a routine for runners. I will review that later. Meanwhile, my sister K let me borrow some P90X stuff. I will probably try them at some point... slowly. I can't see myself committing to that kind of program right now. Actually, I'm saving it for post-babies when I will probably be at home a lot and need the transformation. Yes, I even dared to think that far ahead. But for now, I will pop one of those in once in a while... moreso if I'm going to be losing my gym membership. Did I mention this is a possibility? I hope to know my fate next week or so.

On another note, this time an unrelated one, I am so into the World Cup right now. This morning, me and a bunch of dudes (my boss included) sprang up from our chairs when the United States team made it into the Top 16 by scoring a goal against Algeria. I'm also rooting for Japan (fate to be decided by the week's end), South Korea (kinda, since they have already advanced), and England (who needs to start playing better since their performance in this series has been abnormally poor). Watch my loyalty change should all these teams get eliminated in the next round...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 6/20 - 6:26

This week, "The Ukrainian," who has now taken on the temporary role of coach, has given me permission to run up to 40 minutes and up to 6.5 mph. Thank goodness, as the slower speed was killing me because I am not good at being consistent in pace nor do I like going unnaturally slow. But I must say that it did make the transition back to running a little less painful than it could have been. My hamstring was mostly quiet last week.

Due to my desperations, I'm actually going to listen to him even though he has no real credentials whatsoever. But he has two things working for him: 1) his PRs (1:29 half, 3:20 full), and 2) the more important thing -- he knows me and my general capabilities. He probably knows what I can do more than I do, which is how I get myself into these sorts of messes in the first place.

Other note: My bunion (yes, I just admitted once again to the world that I have this issue) has been hurting more over the past year or so and sometimes is really a nag. I try not to let it affect my running, but sometimes it causes me to shift my form. Hoping it doesn't get worse... I'm only 25! I really am not built for this sport...

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This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest
Much-needed since I had worked out 6 days in a row!

Monday - 4 mi @6-6.5, 20 min s.bike @3.5, 25 min stretch/abs/weights, 20 min hip-opener yoga
Okay, this run was exceedingly hard because I was sooo tired this morning and ran during the 5 AM hour. Ailments included: side-stitch, slight hamstring twinges, and no bursting energy or breath. Yes, I've been getting some side-stitches, lately, which is horribly embarrassing because I feel like it's a newbie thing.

Tuesday - 4 mi @6.3-6.5, 20 min s.bike @3.5, 20 min stretch/abs/mat work, 20 min forward bends yoga
This run went a lot better... still pathetic, but better. I was feeling sluggish like yesterday, but then I tilted my head and suddenly felt a rush of blood or something just shake a bunch of cobwebs out of my body. It made something that seemed impossible now possible.

Wednesday - 4.3 mi @6.5, 15 min pilates (kinda)
Running late, so the workout was short. Best run I've had in a long time, as I was able to reach 4 miles well before my 40 minutes were up. It gives me some hope that I will one day be back to normal.

Thursday - 4 mi @3.6-6.5, 20 min elliptical w/arms @6r, 20 min stretch/weights, 20 min backbends yoga
Wasn't feeling it this morning and had to talk some walk breaks. I can tell that I'm recovering, but again, this is taking patience.

Friday - 50 min FitMoves class; 30 min s.bike @4.0r, stretching

Saturday - 4 mi @6.5 - outdoors

Weekly Mileage: 20.3

Sunday, June 20, 2010

(More Than) More Than Waffles

On Friday, "The Ukrainian" told me to come over to his area a little early the next morning because he said he was conjuring up some plans. So after the work and gym on Friday, I quickly did laundry and other stuff piling up in order to go to bed, run the next morning, eat breakfast with the parents, watch a World Cup game, take a shower, and make that 35-mile drive.

We went to More Than Waffles in Encino, CA. Here are some pics from my second breakfast:


Above: The front. There were tons of people waiting, but the wait was only 15-20 minutes. The best part about this place was its FAST and friendly service!


Above: Here's what I ordered -- a Mediterranean omelet: 3 eggs, feta and mozzarella with onion and tomato. I don't like bell peppers of any kind, so tomato in an omelet is the next best thing. For those of you who haven't read my blog in a while, I've been eating cheese again.


Above: "The Ukrainian"'s lox benedict. Yeah, I've never seen one before, either!


Above: I couldn't go to a place like this without getting a waffle! This came with the omelet. They said the waffle was 140 calories, but I was overstuffed after 70 of those calories... "The Ukrainian" had a bacon/cheddar waffle.

After eating more than I should have, we went to the Getty Center in Los Angeles.


Above: The tram line...


Above: Taking the 1 mile uphill walk to avoid tram line...


Above: Up and up...


Above: The view of the freeway.

We walked around the museum so much, that my legs were bone tired! Plus, we ended up walking back down to the parking (at least downhill this time). I guess it was worth it, as there was a Leonardo da Vinci (one of my favorite people ever) exhibit, and it was a nice day weather-wise. Plus, I got to walk my second breakfast off!

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On another note, today is Father's Day. There is something great to be said for all the dads in the world who stick around for their children, including my own Daddy... so Happy Father's Day to all you dads and would-be dads!

Random Photo Entry 15: Inspiring Weekend (Updated)

It has taken me a week to get this post up. The week has been busy because of work, but I won't complain since I got to stay in a SWEET waterfront hotel.




(my first attempt at a collage a la Picasa)

Anyway, I started this entry so I could talk about the weekend surrounding my first mud run and sixth marathon.

Friday:

My co-worker gave me a sample bag of military food. I have yet to try it, but it looks interesting and caloric!


As I anxiously await the end of the work day, I start playing with my camera and my white board at work again. The office was pretty darn near empty...


"The Ukrainian" ran out of glucosamine, but we made the harsh discovery that the prices in the San Fernando Valley are inflated compared to those in Los Angeles! After that discovery, I ended up having cereal and pita bread for dinner.

Saturday:

You can read the Mud Run entry for the details of the earlier hours. Here are some pictures from the afternoon...

Above: Holiday Inn, Downtown San Diego.


Above: I couldn't finish this meal, even with help!


Above: This is the "before" picture of the meal. The first bite of real food that day...


Above: A description of the meal. I opted for avocado, tomato, and onion.


Above: Downtown San Diego.


Above: Dinner at Souplantation with M and Tea Time (top plate). Mine is at the bottom. I could have eaten more, but I was tired...

Sunday/Monday:

This is everything that happened after the marathon...



Above: After waiting for a shuttle to take us back to the hotel for 1.5 hours and cleaning up, we immediately went for dinner with a friend. I ate 2 whole pizza slices without getting a major stomach issue. I've been incorporating cheese back into my diet since then, though still cautiously.


Above: After dinner, we went to a pub to watch the Laker Game, which didn't go so well. We shared these "chips" with vinegar. I had a ginger (non-alcoholic) beer with these... VERY yummy!


Above: Monday morning breakfast, compliments of the hotel. And a newspaper. This is the life! So happy not to be at work! Went back to the room and watched Ice Age.


Above: We were trying for a sushi lunch, but apparently, many sushi places are not open on Mondays. So we went to Dosa's Place in Tustin (Orange County) for some Indian food. Besides nearly dying after eating a fried jalapeno, it was pretty good...

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So why did I call this an "inspiring weekend"? I think it was because I realized that although I didn't shatter records, I did learn to appreciate my accomplishments. "The Ukrainian" and I finished in the top 15ish percent in the Mud Run, and the fact that I was able to finish both races without major injury (given that I came in with one) is not something everyone can do. Plus, I was able to go out for a whole night after all that (we got back at midnight!).

That ends this chapter of races for now. I'm excited to take a little break from my routine and get back into some sort of shape in time for my next marathon...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 6/13 - 6/19

Okay, so I stole this idea from my sister, Tea Time (and various other bloggers, of course). I only document my workouts for challenges, but in reality, I am on a mission and challenge.

Vision: To live a healthy life, which means looking and functioning like a healthy person.
Vague, I know, but this is what visions are for...

Mission: To get better at running without killing myself.
My progress over the years has been slow and somewhat regressive at times. I don't feel too bad, as I did PR within the past six months, so I know I'm on the right trajectory.

Goals:
- Short-term: PR at my next marathon (as of today, I have about 5 months)
- Mid-term: do my 10th marathon in 2011 (currently 6/10 and will be 7/10 year-end)
- Long-term: not sure yet, but I want to see real improvement over time

Intermediate Steps to Goals:
- Get used to running again injury-free (note: haven't been able to do this since February)
- Increase speed (slowly so that I don't incur anymore injuries)
- Maintain other fitness, especially core and flexibility
- Follow a marathon training program
(I chose Hal Higdon's Novice 2 since I know anything more will burn me out; Training Commences July 12!!)
- Keep focused, which blogging can help with...
- Eat right
- I have decided not to give blood this month as planned, which was tough; will re-evaluate later

I know that these are lofty goals, but I keep thinking that if others can do it, so can I! I know that I have the ability to do better... I just need to make sure that I stay healthy and get my training done. Life also gets in the way oftentimes, but I really just need to take everything in stride and stay focused on my goals. And I also know that I lack natural athletic ability, though I can work on that. If nothing else, I'll do as they say -- "fake it until you make it"!

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This Week's Workouts:

The workouts will be slow-going for a while as I continue to get used to running without pain again. "The Ukrainian" is keeping me accountable for not trying to make huge gains all at once.

In general, I don't plan on doing any real mileage this week and will run slowly as I try to incorporate ChiRunning into my form.

Sunday - rest

Monday - 15 min pilates, 3.1 mi @6.2 mph, 30 min stationary bike @3.5 resistance, 15 min stretching
This sounds easy, but my legs felt soooooo heavy! I want to do more this week in terms of running, but I know I gotta get back into it slowly.

Tuesday - 15 min pilates, 3.1 mi @6.2-6.3, 45 min/3x14 stations FitMoves circuits, 10 min s. bike @3.5 r
Some FitMoves moves included: chest flye, push-ups, incline pull, get up & slam, Romanian deadlift, split squat jump, v-ups, skaters w/cones, slams, mountain climbers, back extensions, wall balls, kettlebell deadlift, jump pull-up

Wednesday - 3.1 mi @6.2-6.3, 10 min s.b. @4 resistance, 20 min elliptical w/bars @6, The Stick on the legs, 20 min backbend yoga with Rodney Yee
So I finally bought a yoga DVD and found my first real yoga experience to be actually quite good. I could not do some of the moves as perfectly as I'd like (the perfectionist in me squirmed), and at some points, I was struggling, but after all was said and done, I feel that was a 20 minutes well-spent. Once I do all the five workouts on the DVD, I will write up a review.

Thursday - 3.1 mi @6.3, 15 min cycling @3, 10 min elliptical w/bars @6, 10x3 reps of standing crunch, pull-up, tricep dip @14 assistance, 20 min standing pose yoga

Friday - 3.1 mi @6.3, 16x3 FitMoves stations
FitMoves circuit included: ball slam, mountain climbers, incline pull, push-up w/knee tucks, squat jumps, ball leg curl, v-ups, jump pull-up, skaters w/cones, burpee, squat to overhead press, wall sit, kettlebell deadlift, medicine ball side lunge to overhead, weighted lunge, Bosu ball ab twist

Saturday - 3.1 mi outside, a lot of walking; 20 min twist yoga

Weekly Mileage: 18.6

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Phiten 30X Sports Necklace - Updated

Original Post, 6/16/09:

Not too long ago, Tea Time reviewed a sports bracelet that claims to improve balance and such. It is supposedly worn by many baseball players and some runners, including Kara Goucher, who I had just seen finish third in the Boston Marathon on some NBC rerun last week and is now my latest athlete idol (yes, I have athlete idols, mostly runners/sprinters).

I had also been at that same expo she bought it at and was very skeptical when they performed a balance test both before and after wearing the band. I decided to go do more research before trying it out. My findings were that very few people actually made negative comments (off of many different neutral sources); most were glaringly positive, and a few went something like, "Well, it can't hurt, and even if it's a placebo effect, it's an effect nonetheless."

Tea Time had come home wearing one of these Phiten necklaces this past weekend. Phiten is a company that makes bracelets/necklaces with a similar concept, and I didn't have to go to an expo. Instead, I ran (literally) over to Dick's Sporting Goods and invested in two of these. I use the word invested because I am not sure if it will work, and it cost a substantial amount of money. For the benefit of my blog readership, I will reveal that this model (which is supposedly 30-times stronger than the regular ones) was $34.99, the cheaper ones at around $24.99.

In case you're wondering, no, I am not wearing two of them, but "The Ukrainian" had also been at that expo and seemed open to trying it once his skeptical other got over her incredulity. He's already a good athlete, unlike me, but I have to be fair and spread the wealth, right? This is going to be a surprise for him later today, so hopefully he is not reading this now! At any rate, I owe him for this past weekend when he drove all the way over to pick me up with out-of-the-blue flowers only to go all the way back to his area to make vegan versions of the ghetto pizzas (that link is just an example -- I will post the actual picture later) that I reminisced over the other day.

So far, I've only worn it on the 8.25-mile run home on my Phiten-buying trip. Sadly, it had been a 3.75-mile way there... gotta adore my sense of direction. Oh well. Anyway, I did pretty well handling that type of distance without water or anything, two Phiten packages in my pocket, and a first-time-at-Olive-Garden-induced stomachache. I haven't run more than 7 miles in one go since early last month. I am going to try to keep this on as much as possible so that whatever aqua-titanium technology that is supposedly supposed to improve my performance and keep pains at bay has time to work. But so far, I must say that one of my hip bones is quite the sore one this morning.

I will be sure to update this post as I continue this experiment. I'd be particularly interested to see if it helps during my race next month, because I need all the help I can get.

Update 1: 6/24/09

I've been wearing this for a week now, and all I remember was that I got 3 pimples on my neck, 3 days of an unsettled stomach, and a left hip-bone pain that pretty much makes running impossible. I doubt it's because of the necklace... probably just a coincidence. First of all, better that the pimples are on my neck where I can block it with my hair than on my face, right? Second, I probably set my stomach off due to some Flamin Hot Cheetos that I had for the first time in a long, long while; they used to be my favorite go-to food when sick, but it almost always upsets my stomach. And the pain probably came from the 12-miler I did out of the blue and the more aggressive running I've been doing. Maybe it was due to my inconsistent glucosamine intake, or even non-existant L-glutamine-taking with poor nutrition to boot. Or, injury is just something that happens naturally every so often. So I can't really blame any external forces on my ailments.

When I was running, though, my pace has improved. I'm not sure if this is because I have been consistent in my workouts and rest, all the morning squats I've been doing, or because I feel free to run faster when I am not in that "I must run 10 miles today or I will fall behind in my training!" mentality. I am kind of just running to stay in some sort of shape, not worrying about upcoming races for now. Even if I don't give my body a break (unfortunately I don't think I can do this without becoming a jelly roll), I can at least give myself that much, much needed mental break from not being on a schedule. I have been trying to mind my vitamin regimen and calcium intake, reintroducing oatmeal w/soymilk into my rotation.

I will give the necklace thing a month, so three more weeks to go before I attempt to pawn this off somehow.

Update 2: 7/27/09

So I was able to run a half-marathon on my bum hip, perhaps thanks to this thing, but shouldn't it have helped me when I tried to train? Oh well, I guess I will not pawn this off for now. "The Ukrainian" has been wearing his and ran a 1:39 hilly half-marathon (beating his previous PR by two minutes or so). If nothing else, the matching necklace thing is cute, and when I see it on him, I cruelly (but in the most affectionate way) think, "dog collar."

Update 3: 12/10/09

As much as I wore my Phiten necklace during training (see here and here and even here for examples), I left it in my hotel room the morning of the marathon. I can't believe I did that, but I still managed to run, I guess?

And when I returned from Vegas, there was no sign of it in my bags. The last place I remember seeing it was the bathroom counter, but there was nothing in the bathroom when we left. So here's hoping that it turns up. It was not cheap, and it was actually an accessory and conversation-starter, if nothing else. =( Well, at least now I know that if I suddenly become injured or something, then I need to get another one.

"The Ukrainian" still has his, and he offered it to me. I replied, "No, that's your dog collar." In the most affectionate way, of course. He's been doing really well since wearing it, so I'm not about to take him up on his offer either way.

Update 4: 6/15/10

In spite of Tea Time making fun of my tacking onto old posts, here I go again!

Well, it seems that since I started wearing this thing, I have had many injuries, in spite of what I thought it would do. Thus, I have decided to stop wearing it for the time being.

I bought a new Phiten necklace in February to replace the one I had lost (read above). I wore it from February through May and finally decided to stop. Note that I had no necklace from December-February, and I managed to crank out a half-marathon PR during this timeframe.

"The Ukrainian" still wears his, mostly, though less frequently now. And seeing as how he just ran a 3:20 marathon PR, I'm not going to protest.

I should also mention that within these past months, I have also tried these stickers made by Phiten. Here are the ones shaped like dots, but they have larger patches as well. I got these as samples at an Expo I went to because they saw me wearing the necklace! I did tape them on my injuries... they stick pretty well (days). Not sure if they helped, but I still have some on hand in case I decide to use them for a "spot-treatment!"


Monday, June 14, 2010

Pilates and Other Desperate Measures

This afternoon, I will have my first run in a bit over a week, the longest break from running that I can recollect within the past four years. I want to come out of my bad past marathon experience into good shape for the next one. But first, I need to get over my nagging injuries.

I got these three pilates bands [Embark] (pictured) from Target. You see, I am thinking that Pilates will help me open up my breathing, regain my flexibility, and further my core strength. I already do a FitMoves circuit class 1-2 times a week to work on strength, but sometimes I wonder if it's more injurous than helpful. In fact, I had just made my return to the class after nearly two months due to worry that it would aggravate my hamstring tendons. My flexibility is now quite poor compared to what it used to be. Quite frankly, I have trouble fully extending one of my legs... and this is an attempt at getting some of it back.

These bands smell very much like balloons because they are made of latex. I would recommend a good hand (and maybe foot) washing after using these, but they do the job and are long enough for me. The three bands were $9.99 and comes with a small pamphlet inside the box showing some basic moves. Sadly, those are the moves I've mostly been doing so far. And by "so far," I mean the two times I've gotten to it since I got the bands this weekend. On the floor. With my cat brushing against me as I do them.

So these bands have so far been useful. I know they aren't top-of-the-line by a long shot, but neither is my need for them! The yellow is light resistance, the blue is heavy, and red is medium. I usually use the red one. I'll follow up with a post on the specific moves that I will be doing routinely as soon as I find the right ones. Obviously, not all the Pilates moves require bands, but they are certainly nice for adding resistance to moves without carrying around a huge weight/dumbbell.

My next step is yoga. I'm in the process of obtaining a Rodney Yee yoga video that will get onto my iPod (hopefully). "The Ukrainian" was talking to some other successful runners, and they cited yoga as something that is very helpful. I have NEVER been a yoga proponent simply because I don't like sitting still, so I am pursuing some envigorating kinds to also help with my flexibility.

Finally, over the weekend, Tea Time told me about ChiRunning, a concept she has recently been sort of using based on Tai Chi that some successful runners swear by. I read the book yesterday and will attempt to start practicing some of the concepts. Let it be known that I DO NOT agree with some of the stuff in that book, and therefore, I will not be attempting them. Again, this is going to become a separate post...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rock n Roll Marathon: San Diego

EVENT: Rock n Roll Marathon: San Diego
DATE: Sunday, June 6, 2010
LOCATION: San Diego, CA
RACE BEGAN: 6:15 am
FINISH TIME: 05:16:37

The two most pressing comments that I have to make about this race are that the crowd support (when present) was great. Secondly, it was interesting to see that this huge, huge race was nearly like a Team in Training national convention... never knew the establishment is so popular!

I woke up at around 4 AM for the race and made it to the start line with Tea Time and "The Ukrainian" with plenty of time to spare. I waited in Corral 9 with Tea Time and noticed how un-cold I was... not a good sign. As the race began, I ran with Tea Time for a little while and was glad that in spite of the 40,000 runners out there, it was not a total jam in the first few miles like it could get.

Miles 1-9
Surprisingly, my hamstring didn't bother me much. In fact, I was feeling better than I had in a long time while running, probably because I had slathered Ben Gay all over my legs prior to the race (sorry to those who had to smell that). The best part of this race was in this part, when we ran past the Padres stadium... I had no idea what was going on until the field was right smack to my left. I was in good spirits and thought that this race wouldn't be much of an issue. I took down a GU and didn't stop running at all, even as the climbs began...

Miles 10-12
We began to ascend onto the 163(?) freeway, which was concrete and a slow climb for miles. I slowed down, determined to make it up and not kill myself doing it.

Miles 13-20
My undoing really occurred in this area. The sun came out from the clouds, though luckily I had my shades with me. I didn't allow myself to put them on until I crossed the half-way point. By then 2 hours and 12 minutes had passed. Not good, but I've done worse.

As the freeway climb ended and I took my second GU, I felt these twinges in my legs, particularly the right one. Slowing down didn't help, and I even stopped to stretch it out. I even resorted to drinking the on-course sports drink Cytomax. But already before the first half, I had my first muscle "tug" in my calf, the kind that normally comes out around mile 20. So I spent all these miles running on-and-off, trying to keep myself from what happened later...

Mile 22
Maybe it was the rest or electrolytes, but I was starting to feel well enough again to run after mile 20. So I was running very slowly along this lonnnng concrete path near the ocean and nice breeze and thought that I could still come in under 5 hours.

Just as a few small climbs came about on this concrete path, without warning, I pulled my right calf muscle right in the middle of the field. I pulled myself over to the left side as quickly as possible and screamed (trust me, it would be instinctual in this situation). As I was massaging the displaced tight muscle back in its place, a gentleman asked me if I was okay. I was surprised that I only got one question after making this scene, but I'm sure it's a normal sight to see during marathons.

If you've never pulled a muscle before, it feels like hell rolled into one muscle of your body. The last time I pulled my calf that badly was a couple of years ago after a 20-miler and getting into my car ASAP to get home. BAD idea! I had to pull over (luckily had not left the parking lot).

Once I felt that the muscle was back in place, I trudged on. At first, I couldn't even walk, but I was soon able to keep some kind of brisk walking pace... and walk I did for the rest of the race. In fact, I would say I walked about half of the darn marathon. It was dragged on, miserable, annoying, and disappointing.

Miles 23-26.2
At this point, I just wanted to be done. I was trying to keep my walking pace at around 13:30/mi, which I was doing okay at until my legs were cramping again. I was thinking about coming in after 5 hours and how disappointing that is, but I also just wanted it to be over and not run again for a long time.

At the last .2 mi, when a huge, huge crowd was calling my name to keep going, a stupid girl from the left sidelines rushed in front of me to hug some girl running to my right. Some guy screamed at her, "Let them finish!" I was irritated, but not like I could run at that point anyway, lest risking another loud screaming session in front of all those people. So I tumbled toward the finish line slowly.

I found "The Ukrainian" shortly after I finished. The guy had finished in 3:20 and had been waiting for me for nearly 2 hours... It was a PR for him, and Tea Time also PR-ed. Glad SOME people did well that day. He knew it was going to take me this long -- I guess he knows me better than I know me. We waited for our hotel shuttle for 1.5 hours before he was fuming and we paid some shuttle guy to take us back to our hotel in Downtown San Diego.

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This race, which was my 6th marathon, was definitely not a proud moment in my running career. However, it has inspired me to recover fully from my slew of injuries and tackle the next one (more details on that later!) fresh. I've run 3 marathons in 6 months and have not had any good running where my legs didn't feel like lead for months.

I'll insert race pics (if any are show-able) with this one I have below....

Above: This pic is kinda disheveled, but it shows the medal, so there!

Camp Pendleton Mud Run

EVENT: Camp Pendleton Mud Run
DATE: Saturday, June 5, 2010
LOCATION: San Diego, CA
RACE BEGAN: 9:00 am
FINISH TIME: 01:17:47

Never mind that I had a marathon to run the very next day, but I have been wanting to do a mud run for a long time!

Actually, the registration for this race opened on New Years' Day, 2010. In fact, I had logged on within the hour of the new year to register us, and sure enough... it closed before noon! I was definitely right to be that proactive!

"The Ukrainian" and I woke up at 3 AM (yeah, gross!) to head down to Camp Pendleton. The drive was long, and on the way there, I heard the sad news of John Wooden's passing. Being a UCLA graduate, his words of wisdom were frequently used as inspiration in pretty much everything.

Anyway, after waiting in the cold for what seemed like hours, we were lining up at the start surrounded by teams in costume, older people, people with shoes duct-taped to themselves. There were about 5,500 people in this field. We weren't that far from the front.

What I loved most was the organization of this race. We started exactly at 9, plus they had some modern/fun music while we were waiting. The first mile was EXTREMELY jammed. We couldn't run at all. Here are all the hardships I remember from the rest of the race...

- Mile 1: Sprayed by fire hose.

- Miles 2/3: Run through a few shallow muddy pits. Wet shoes. Ugh.

- Miles 3-4: VERY hilly, dry, HOT, Marines screaming at us to keep moving.

- Mile 4: Wading through 4.5 ft (more like 5 ft) Lake O'Neill. Slipped on the way in, felt the cold water compressing my chest, and panicked. "The Ukrainian" carried me through this part, which was about the length of a football field?? Loved seeing the "exodus" of people through the huge lake, though!

- Mile 4.3?: More hills, muddy tunnel. I slipped and skinned my elbow. (And screamed.)

- Mile 4.6?: 5 ft wall #1; major phobia here, but glad there was a Marine with a knee-boost to help.

- Mile 5?: VERY steep, long hill about 200 meters long, with firehoses spraying water down them so that it was impossibly slippery! Had to REALLY tough this one out!

- Mile 5.5-ish: After more hill climbing, another 5 ft wall with mud pits on both sides. Wanted to take a shorter "Wimp Wall," but nobody else was. Got over this one much quicker.

- Mile 5.8?: Feeling like 1,000,000 pounds by now with a beach vacation living inside each of my shoes. Had to CRAWL through about 1/4 mile of mud pit. Skinned my knee doing this.

- To end: MAJOR downhills here... very dangerous considering I had a race the next day. Had to scuttle (is that a word?) down them.

When I finished, I felt so hard core! Time wasn't too terrible, either, since there was no chip timing or anything. I didn't get as muddy as I had anticipated. Not sure if I got all the details in order, but you get the jist. Definitely harder than I thought it would be.

Once we crossed the finish line, someone tapped me on the shoulder. He (Ben... hi!) recognized me from this blog, even in all that mud!

The clean-up involved open cold showers and a no-modesty changing tent. Ah, the joys of roughing it. I have gained a new respect for our men and women in service... not only because of family sacrifices, but now I got a taste of the physical element... yikes!

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Finally, here's some pics (when I have time, I will go back to try to find more)!


Above: Before. Yes, it's 3 AM, and we're sleepy!


Above: The finish. Pretty darn happy and about 50 lbs heavier!


Above: Bad pic of my minor scrape. Have a smaller but similar one on my elbow.


Above: The shirt. Feeling hard core (and nerdy) at the SD RNR expo.


Above: The shoes that fell victim to this race...