Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Timed Mile

I've been trying to do some speed-work as a means to ease myself back into long-distance running, so I've been trying to go the track twice a month.  The sessions have been pretty short so far, because I'm new to this and frankly don't want to give myself a reason to skip sessions.  For now, they are all in fun, to establish a baseline that I can frequently "race against."

It has been quite a number of years since I timed my mile -- almost six!  If I ever want to run faster in half-marathons and marathons, working on the 1-mile segments seems like a good approach.

This has been a really tough week.  Most days, I was out from dawn to dusk, and one night, I worked overtime for so long that my feet were purple from the high-heels that I had to wear (it was a high-profile event, so flats wouldn't cut the dress code, sadly).  So I didn't really want to wake up too early, though it was kind of a must since the temperatures have spiked.

"The Ukrainian" didn't bring his watch (because he was too lazy to wear one), so he ended up being my "rabbit."  We did a warm-up and then these three intervals, with walk/job breaks in between.

1 mile: 7:43.2
800 m: 3:21.2
400 m: 1:27.9

My previous mile time was 7:59, so I'm happy about the 16-second improvement!  In fact, I'm considering this an informal PR! ;) I definitely felt out-of-shape doing this timed mile, so I tried to start off slowly and pick up speed with each lap.  I felt tired after the first quarter-mile, and I started feeling my lower back feeling weak and had this feeling that my uterus was going to fall out toward the end.  I know I've mentioned having this feeling before (here and here), so I'm not really sure what it is... it only seems to happen when I'm running much faster than is typical.

While I am okay with my mile time, I think I want to get it closer to 7:05 or so.  So I'll be doing this again!

The 800 m is basically an auto-PR (yay!!), since I have never timed one before.  I know.... amazing.  This felt much better than running a mile, and I actually ran the second lap about 3 seconds or so faster than the first!  Like the mile, I have a goal time that seems rather unattainable, around 3:11.  That pains me just to type it.

The last 400 meters felt easier after those other distances, and I'm happy to have come in faster than my fastest lap two weeks ago.  I'm still happy sticking around 1:35 or so, for now.

Considering the heat, this went pretty well.  It's fun to run knowing that you're going to be done shortly -- sometimes, very shortly.

More to come!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TevaSphere Speed Shoes (and Discount Code)

A while back, I was contacted by TevaSphere to review their Speed shoes, which are intended for running in more rugged terrain like obstacle courses and trails.

My first impression of these shoes is that they are light, yet still stabilizing.  It's definitely a change from all the bulky running shoes that I'm usually wearing, regardless of terrain.  Also, gotta love the bright colors!

From their website:
  • Our TevaSphere outsole uses a spherical heel with two support pods to give you lightweight minimalism without sacrificing stability.
  • A nylon shank keeps the foot stable and in control.
  • Our Spider365 rubber is made to grip like crazy in wet environments.

The shoes were sent to me along with a bunch of other goodies, which definitely prompted me to go on a hike!  Although I've done a couple of trail half-marathons and a mud run, I'm usually more of a road-running person, so getting me out there is an accomplishment.

Here is the camera they sent me to film my adventure, the GoPro Hero 3.  It is mountable and comes in a waterproof case.

So we hit up the local trail in a group about 12 in size.  The shoes held up really well!  The trail that we took was moderately challenging, with plenty of ascents, descents, and stream traversing.  The TevaSphere shoes were a bit grippy, which made me feel really stable even though I am not experienced in hiking.  I felt light on my feet, unlike when I'm in my clunky running shoes that can easily roll my ankle in conditions like these.  There were points in which I was jogging slightly, and it felt really good!

Also, at one point, I did get the shoes wet, but they dried completely, very quickly!

Here's some footage from our day.  I am holding the camera until I passed it onto "The Ukrainian" to cross the log.

Our reward:

Going on this little hike actually inspired me to go on more hikes (and trail runs!) in the future, wearing these shoes, of course!  Also, if I ever do an obstacle race again, I think I would definitely wear these since they are so good at staying light and relatively free of water.


- 15% off until July 31st


(To use on multiple items, you can place separate orders)

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of this product but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive opinion.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Track Repeats, Repeated

I have a 5K in a couple of weeks, and just as I realized a few months ago before said 5K was postponed, I'm nowhere close to the level of speediness that I would like.  Why do I always come to this realization so close to race day?

I have only done three 5Ks, because I find them highly unpleasant.  This is probably why I never joined Cross Country in high school -- well, that and feeling like death if I ran anything over 400 meters.  The 5K distance is short enough to make me feel like running as fast as I can, but long enough so that I can't really sustain that kind of effort for very long.  Then, it ends up hurting, in a way different than long distances, but hurting nonetheless.

At this point, ANY kind of speedwork would help my confidence, so I headed out to the track for the first time since January to do the same workout, 6 x 400 meter repeats with a walk/jog lap in between.

My goal this time was to hit 1:35 - 1:42.  I have a very specific rationale for this time range, but I'll share that in a later post.

Laps (Jan /vs/ Jun)
1 - 1:48 / 1:26
2 - 1:45 / 1:39
3 - 1:46 / 1:39
4 - 1:39 / 1:39
5 - 1:35 / 1:36
6 - 1:38 / 1:36

Needless to say, I'm pretty pleased that I clearly did better than last time, in spite of running less and carrying around a bit more weight (working on that *grumble*) than that time.  It's also pretty clear that I went out way too fast on the first lap -- my lungs were pooped, and I wondered how I'd get through the last five.  By the last one, I felt like I was giving it what I had, only to have the same result as the lap before, when I felt I was slacking a little.   I should add that "The Ukrainian" came along with me this time.  At first I had to convince him to program his Garmin properly and not just "wing it," and by the end, I think he may have started to realize how much one can learn from doing drills like this.  He's never really done anything like this and probably isn't used to full exertion over a short distance, so I generally ran faster than him -- unheard of.  Having him there MAY have led me to push a bit more...  

It's quite possible that the key to long distance goals is meeting short distance goals, so as much as I can, I am going to do more of these types of workouts.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spirit of the Marathon II, Review

In 2008, I saw Spirit of the Marathon and was SO pumped!  At the time, I had only run one marathon and was training for my second.

My relationship with running these days is mixed.  I have been in what I hope is just a "down" period, in which I've been running one or two times a week, tops, 3-5 miles.  When I do run, I still enjoy it, but long runs are fairly out of my interest at the moment, as if my body is following a "when the going gets tough, forget it" mantra.  Hmmm.

However, I keep hoping my "high" will come, maybe once I get used to being out of the home 13 hours a day commuting to work+working (though at least includes exactly 1 hr and 20 minutes to work out + shower + prep). 

I was able to view the sequel yesterday, courtesy of Fathom Events (thank you!!).  Even though getting to this movie on time required me to shorten my total workout + shower + prep time to about 1 hour flat, I ran just over 4 miles on the treadmill so that I wouldn't be attending a movie about running without having done said activity.


The movie started right on time (no previews, etc.), which was great, because I barely got there on time anyway.  The opening scene involved stunning shots of Rome right before their 2012 marathon was beginning -- the view of the Coliseum, seeing runners in the corrals, all the anxious running shoes shuffling on the ground... yeah, it apparently gave "The Ukrainian" a chill, reminding him of the "nervous excitement" he gets right before the start of a race.

Without giving too much away, this sequel covers the stories of some interesting people:

- an Italian pizzeria owner who is a seasoned marathon runner

- a 72-year-old marathoner, cousin of the pizzeria owner

- a first-time marathoner, mom, and co-owner of an Italian running store

- Julie Weiss, who ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks: I actually met her at an LA Marathon training run a few months ago... she's just as energetic in real life!

- a retired cross-country coach

- an elite female runner from Rwanda

- an elite Ukrainian(!) runner/Olympic hopeful

Like in the first movie, there are guest appearances by greats like Hal Higdon, Paula Radcliffe, Jeff Galloway, Bill Rodgers, etc.  There was some talk about the increase in women in marathoning, including how they broke into the sport, etc.  Those who saw the first movie will probably feel some deja vu, but luckily, it's brief.

The Rome Marathon seems really awesome (though really warm!!)!

You will definitely feel inspired to run after watching this movie, seeing people at different skill levels with different life circumstances come together for a really awesome athletic event.  There were different touching moments and a broader world-view that I feel makes this sequel surpass the original.

Trailing the movie was a 10-minute short called This Water is Beautiful, in which Josh Cox shared why he runs for team World Vision.  This definitely was a way to feed off of the inspiration of the main film and get people to run for a cause!

As for the effect the film had on me, well, I have already been working on getting back out there again, ever since National Running Day last week.  Plus, since I'm at a new job, everyone knows me as the marathoner -- so, as much as I can, I have to keep trying, right?!

For more information on the film, please visit:

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided passes to view Spirit of the Marathon II but was not otherwise compensated to write a positive review.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Adidas Crazyquick Running Shoe

Due to flat feet and other issues, I need to wear stability (or motion control, ideally) shoes when I run, and while I have found one that is relatively light, it does have some clunkiness when I'm using them during shorter runs or other workouts.

Perhaps that's because I need a different shoe for short runs and other exercises, so I was glad to try the Adidas Crazyquick Running Shoe, which became available on June 1.

From their PR:

"Crazyquick features a never before possible, skin-like fit with a stretchy Techfit upper that provides the most natural run.  The Techfit stretches in areas where your foot needs extra flexibility and the Aquatech print provides support exactly where it’s needed. The outsole is split down the middle allowing for quicker horizontal movements."

First of all, love the color of the shoe (it comes in a few colors, too)!  I don't get to wear colorful shoes very often, and it really just puts an extra pep in my step just to see how awesome these look.

More importantly, how do they feel?  In a word (and a qualifier), quite comfortable.  I was concerned that these don't come in wide-widths, but it is flexible enough to accommodate the (weird) shape of my foot without being squishy.  I also didn't feel any huge chunk of shoe under my "lack-of-arch," which often bothers me during anything I do that's not running.

As expected, the shoes are light and make me feel fast.  I often feel so clunky in athletic shoes, most likely because my feet themselves are a bit clunky.  However, these give me flexibility in my step and don't make me feel like I have bricks tied to my feet.

While I can't really see myself wearing these on long runs, they are definitely better for quick movements, like when I do Insanity, or when I'm going for a brief run.  They also aren't bad for wearing when I go out!  Hah, maybe I'm becoming one of *those* people who uses exercise outfits as street outfits, lol.

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a pair of these shoes to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular type of opinion.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

National Running Day - Giveaway

UPDATE, 6/10/13 --

Giveaway is over, and the winner is #2, Stu!  I'll message you with the code.

Keepin' it real here: There didn't seem to be a lot of entries for this one, though I did check other blogs with similar giveaways with that similar issue.  Believe it or not, I actually pass up on a lot of giveaway and review opportunities... mostly because I'm busy but also because I try to only host giveaways that interest my target audience, so... noted for the future!


Happy National Running Day! 

Looking back, I've actually hosted a giveaway on this runners' "holiday" before.  I've even done something new and different on this day before.

So today, I decided to do both of these things again.  It has been quite a while since I've actually run during a morning workout.  Something about the one-hour commute to the gym/work really sucks something out of you, ya' know?  But on this June day with the gloomy clouds in the sky, forgiving me for not putting on sunscreen yet, I took my pepper spray and went for a run... in Downtown, LA.

This run was nothing ambitious -- hills, stairs, and traffic lights probably didn't allow me to fit in much during my 45-minute jaunt, but it just felt good to be running recreationally and seeing some of my favorite Downtown sights -- my relative's restaurant, all the big offices, bars, fancy restaurants, etc.  I ran by businesspeople, commuters, homeless people, tourists, police officers, but sadly, not really many other runners. Hmmmm.

I was SO good that I followed up the run with a hit of protein powder (after showering and getting suited up for work, of course).

Now, the part that you've been waiting for... the giveaway.  I have a free entry code (one time for any open heat in the continental U.S.) for the Spartan Race, which "is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life."  Definitely something new and different, for those of you who haven't tried these races.

The Spartan Race hosts different types of events across the country:

To enter, just leave a comment below! Leave a second comment if you share this giveaway on your blog or other social media (with a link to the share). Max two entries per person, please!

I will draw a winner at random on Monday, June 10th at 12 PM PST!

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary race code but was not otherwise compensated to provide any particular type of opinion on the Spartan Race.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Larabar ALT Bars

On my never-ending quest to try energy/meal replacement bars, I was excited when the folks at Larabar sent me their new ALT line of bars.

These ALT bars contain 10 grams of protein in about 240 calories, much of which is pea protein.  This is good for people who are avoiding getting vegan protein through soy products.

The four flavors I tried were Cinnamon Apple, Lemon Pound Cake, Peanut Butter Cookie, and Pumpkin Pie.  All of them were delicious (particularly the peanut butter one)!

Here is a texture shot.  As you can see, it resembles regular Larabars (reviewed here).  It still contains dates and nuts.  The difference comes when you take a bite -- it's actually slightly crunchy, probably from the peas.  Don't worry, you can't taste peas at all (and even if I could, I love peas, so hmmm).  I feel like the addition of peas actually cut down on the overall sticky-sweet taste that regular Larabars can have.

Also, I actually prefer this texture more than the regular Larabars.  Plus, they are more filling, due to the protein.

Definitely give these a try!!

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of these products to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.