Friday, December 30, 2016

My Ultra Training Essentials

As week nine of my ultra training nears its finish, I am about a third of the way through my training.  During this time, I’ve discovered a few things that I can’t live without in this new adventure.  Some of these things are things that I’ve used all along, just now with a better appreciation for them.  Some are things I never tried before and am wondering why I waited so long.  I know as I progress in my training, some things will be added to my list of essentials and everyone’s training essentials are different, but right now these are a few of mine.

A Plan
I’ve never trained with a plan and I learned the hard way that having a plan is better.  I ran my first marathon in February and although I did a couple long runs, I didn’t give it the dedication it deserved.  When I decided I wanted to run a 50K, I decided to get a running coach and am working with Jenn from Sole Health and Wellness.  Part of the coaching experience is having a plan—I have a calendar that tells me what mileage to run each day and what type of runs they should be.  It was hard to adjust from being a no-plan runner to running with one, but now I love it!  Yes, there are times that I deviate from my plan—I may run a little more or a little less on some days than scheduled, but by the end of my week, my weekly mileage is pretty consistent to what's been planned.  

I used to be one of those runners who didn’t drink until they felt thirsty.  If you’ve ever done this, you know that by the time you feel thirsty it’s usually “too late.”  I’ve been working on hydrating before, during and after my runs to maintain a good level of hydration—over hydrating can be just as bad as under hydrating and I don’t want to do either.  The two things that have definitely helped with my hydration are my Orange Mud HydraQuiver and Nuun hydration.  My Orange Mud vest has two bottles which allows me to fill one with water and one with Nuun—my general rule is to take sips every mile or so.   Even as the weather has turned colder and it sometimes doesn’t feel like I need to hydrate as much, I still stick to this rule.  (I love my Orange Mud so much, I added a one barrel vest to my running wardrobe to use on my shorter runs when I don't need both bottles worth of hydration)

Compression Socks
If you follow me on social media, you know that I love my ProCompression socks.  As I am running more mileage, I am definitely noticing a difference.  I am not only training for my first 50K, but I am also on a Run Streak so I am running everyday.  My ProCompression socks are helping my legs feel less tired and definitely help the recovery process.  I wear them during my runs and after for recovery. And now that it’s boot season, I’m wearing them more with everyday wear too!  

The Right Shoes
As much as I love to feel the dirt beneath my feet, I knew that I needed the right pair of shoes between me and the dirt.  After doing some research (i.e. Asking my friends) I went to a local running store to try on some trail shoes—after trying on several pairs, I decided on the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 and it has been love from the first mile.  So far in my training, about half of it has been out on the trails and the shoes have been amazing.  There wasn’t a “breaking in” period—they were just the right shoe for me.  

The Elements
When you’re training for an event, the weather doesn’t turn to “perfect” for every run just because you want it to.  My little disclaimer is that I live in Southern California so the elements I need to be ready for are no where similar to what other runners run in.  (A big “You’re Awesome”  to everyone who runs in extreme weather!). But we have had a few weather changes lately and it’s definitely impacted what I wear when I’m running.  I’ve had to run in the rain a few times and am grateful for the rain jacket I randomly purchased a couple years ago.  It’s also been a lot colder lately and that’s been the biggest adjustments for this tank & skirt runner.  So I’ve added gloves, a Buff and arm warmers to my running wardrobe.  I’ve also added more trucker hats and sunglasses to my collection so that I can protect myself during my runs. My 50K is in April and in Southern California, you don’t know what you’re going to get in April weather-wise—I’m hoping to be prepared for anything.

My Friends
I love to run and though the journey is my own, it is definitely fun with other people along the way.  Honestly, not everyone in my life understands why I would want to run a 50K, but they support me anyway.  Whether it’s from going on runs with me or little messages of encouragement and support, I am blessed to have the people in my life that I do. 

What are some of the things you can’t live without when you’re training for a race?

Until next time, happy running.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Ultra Training: Week Nine

Another week!  I hope you had a wonderful  holiday and am looking forward to the new year.  I’m excited for week ten of my ultra training—registration for the race I will be running opens up on January 1st!  I feel like once I officially register, all this training stuff will get real.  

Here’s how week nine went:

On Sunday, I ran my final half marathon of the year.  You can read about it here.  Spoiler alert—I got a 5 minute PR!

Mondays are an easy run day for me—I have long runs over the weekend, so I use Monday as a recovery run.  My plan was to run early but I slept through my alarms.  I headed to the lake in the afternoon, got in three miles and did some stretching.  

On Tuesday morning, I had an appointment and an errand that took me north of San Diego, which meant I would be near the coast.  I love running in the Del Mar area so took advantage of it and got my six miles in.  The views are gorgeous and it’s one of my favorite places to run.

Another gloomy day lurked on San Diego and I headed out before the rain.  It was a “rest day” so I got in a couple easy miles and some more stretching.

Another rainy day in San Diego—where is it coming from?!  I put on my rain gear and headed out.  This time I got lucky—it stopped raining when I got to my running spot and didn’t rain long enough for me to get my run in.  

Another fun week at the #RUN619.  It was red & green themed and everyone came out in festive spirit!  It was a fun four miles with a great group of people. (And the biggest turnout yet!) If you’re ever in San Diego and need to run on a Friday, join us!  Every Friday at 6:19am.  

Saturdays are my long run day and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it.  It was supposed to rain and I was tired.  I had some errands to run in the morning, so I headed out to the lake early afternoon to get the miles in.  Round trip, the lake is a little over six miles so I knew I’d need to run out and back then out and back again to get my mileage in for the day.  About two miles in, I started to feel some cramping in my right leg—it had happened during Friday’s run too so I thought I could run it out.  I continued another quarter of a mile and the cramp was now becoming painful beyond just a little discomfort.  I stopped and did some stretches hoping it would help and it didn’t.  I made the decision to turn around and ended up with just under five miles for the day.  It wasn’t the long run I was supposed to have and honestly, I may have taken the easy way out because I wasn’t in the mood to run.  But I also didn’t want to risk an injury which could interrupt my training plan and run streak.  

Total Weekly Mileage: 39.09

Until next time, happy running!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

San Diego Holiday Half Recap

After I ran the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon last year, I thought it was a “one and done” race for me.  But two weeks before the race, I gave into my FOMO and registered.  It was the race I PRd at last year and thought maybe I could make that happen again for me.  

Though being called the Holiday Half, the race has been after Christmas the past few years.  This year it was moved up and happened before Christmas—I was excited about this because it was once more chance to wear my ProCompression Ugly Sweater socks.  I picked up my bib on Saturday, then went home and got  everything together.  I was meeting Smitha and Jen in the morning to carpool and didn’t want to be late.  

I woke up Sunday morning ready to run.  Last year I had parked at the start line and took the shuttle back at the end. This year, we were parking at the finish line and taking the shuttle to the start line-- such a better plan!  Once we arrived, we met up with others for pictures and catching up.  Last year it was freezing before the start—I don’t know if I was just better prepared this year or if it wasn't as cold, but it definitely felt better this year.  My plan was to start with Jenny who had a goal—I would try to keep up with her as long as I could and then run it from there.  I kept up with Jenny for about half a mile and then we did our own thing, but it was helpful.  I ran the race trying to catch up with her and find her pink hat—I never did but it gave me something to push towards.  

The course itself is boring in my opinion.  Much of the course is along a bike path that parallels the freeway—other than an occasional car honking their support, traffic is never fun to run by.  There are portions of it that are pretty and it’s fun to run by the horse ranch, but hold your breath because the smell isn’t pleasant.  There were plenty of aid stations on the course, but a few weren’t ready for the runners- we had to wait for them to pour water into the cups. Despite the lack of organization at some of the stations, I will say that every volunteer was super friendly and supportive—I loved this!  It was also fun to see all the people dressed up this year compared to last year’s race—I think because it fell before Christmas, people were more in the spirit.

As we ran on, I was trying not to look at my time because I am a mental runner and didn’t want to break my pace.  When I finally did, I realized I was on target to PR.  This was the motivation I needed and I pushed forward.  I finished with a five minute PR and a twelve minute course PR.  So as much as I don’t love this race, I love this race! 

I can’t say whether I’d do this race again or not.  There is definitely some opportunity in the race organization’s communication and use of social media—I certainly hope they improve on both of these things. I love that I get to see a lot of my friends at this race, so if any things brings me back, it will be that.

Have you ever run a race that you didn’t love? 

Until next time, happy running.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ultra Training: Week Eight

Week eight of my Ultra Training felt a lot better than week seven.  Two months in and I’m looking forward to increasing my distance-- I am starting to notice a difference in my runs and although I was apprehensive about having a schedule at the beginning of my training, I love it now!

I still wasn’t feeling 100% better from being sick on Saturday and contemplating increasing my mileage since I missed my long run on Saturday.  I decided to stick to my scheduled four miles and made my way down to the harbor to run.  It’s a beautiful place to run and there’s also an ornament shop down there which would be perfect to pick up my ornament for the #WeRunSocial ornament exchange.  So the fours miles were quite productive—I ran the miles, picked up an ornament and even stopped for a donut.  The only thing missing was Jenny and Smitha since I usually run down at the harbor with them!

I started Monday with a 5am run.  Yes, it’s early but it’s also great to start your day with the run.  I was finished with my weekly miles before 6am! And I ran with an awesome group of women—I love the people I’ve met through running.

Tuesday found me out on the trails and it was a beautiful morning.  I always feel better after I get some dirt beneath my feet.  

Wednesday’s are my “rest” day and have a short run scheduled.  I love the break that running an easy 1-2 miles gives me.  It was a beautiful day at the lake and it was the perfect opportunity to try out some new sunglasses I picked up at a local running store.  (I’ll be doing a review of those soon!) 

Thursday was another day for the trails and it was another awesome run.  Although we ran into a pack of coyotes, changing our planned run course but sometimes the unplanned runs are the best ones.  It was another great since miles on the trails and we explored some “new to us” paths.

It doesn’t rain often in San Diego yet when it does, it pours! (Which is all relative because I’ve been in other places where our pour is just a drizzle) I had three miles scheduled and the forecast was showing that it was going to stop raining around 1pm.  When it didn’t look like that was going to happen, I decided to put on all my rain gear and head out for my run.  I love rainy day runs and although I was soaked by the end of it, it was a great run.  

What a difference a day makes in the weather for San Diego!  I headed out for five miles on Saturday and it was a beautiful day.  I was in a tank and enjoying the sunshine.  I took the miles easy because I had a half marathon the next day, but it felt great. 

Total Weekly Miles: 28.7

It finally feels like things are starting to click in my training.  My runs are consistently feeling good.  I hope you had a great running week!

Until next time, happy running.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Ultra Training: Week Seven

As I sat down to recap week seven of my ultra training, I realized I missed my week six recap.  ‘Tis the season to be busy, so I’ll sum it up briefly for you.

Ultra Training: Week 6
I ran in three states—California, Nevada and Arizona.  Nevada and Arizona were both during the Run Laughlin half marathon—you can read my recap of that race here.  Other than the half marathon, the week was pretty uneventful.  I ran my miles—they didn’t feel great but they didn’t feel bad either.  I suppose some weeks are going to be like that.

Week Six Total Miles: 35

Now on to week 7….

I was still in Nevada for my race weekend and I had a four mile run scheduled.  I knew if I waited to run until after my drive home, I wouldn’t want to do it.  So I woke up early on Sunday and headed to a nature trail recommended to me near my hotel.  It was so quiet out—I only passed one other person.  The nature trail was beautiful and it was fun to get one last Nevada run in before driving home.  (My drive seemed to take forever so I was definitely glad I ran before I left)

A short run at one of my local “go to” places.  I was short on time but needed to get the miles in.  It was one of those “make time, not excuses” type of days and I found the time to get my run in.  As busy and hectic as my day was, I always feel better after a run.

I hit up the trails on Tuesday.  The trails are definitely becoming my happy place.  I took a wrong turn at one point and ended up a little lost, or as I like to say, I had an adventure.  

I woke up Wednesday feeling a little out of sorts—I’ve been having sinus issues that can’t decide if they’re allergies or a cold.  To be honest, I didn’t want to run.  I felt lazy.  But eventually I told that little voice coming up with excuses to “shut up” and went for a run.  It was short.  Just a little over a mile, but Wednesdays are my “rest day” so it was more than enough.

I headed to the lake for Thursday’s miles.  We’re starting to experience winter weather here, yet every time I think it’s cold enough to wear long sleeves, I get warm during my run.  I’m still trying to find a balance, but it was a beautiful day for a run.  

Friday morning runs are one of my favorites with the #RUN619 and Movin Shoes. An easy run through Mission Hills with a great group of people.

Saturdays are supposed to be my long run days.  I made plans with a group of runners to get my long run in.  When I woke up, my body did not agree.  The lingering sinus issues I’d been dealing with all week became too much and I was exhausted.  I texted my friend and went back to sleep—when my body craves sleep that much, it means I need to rest.  I went out later in the day and ran a little over two miles.  It definitely wasn't the run I had scheduled or the run I wanted, but it was miles.  

Total Weekly Miles: 23

Week 7 is one of my lowest weekly miles since I started my run streak at the end of May and I’ll be honest—I was disappointed.  I was frustrated with myself and wondered if I could have pushed myself harder at any point during the week.  After being disappointed and frustrated, I took a step back and realized that I ultimately need to listen to my body.  My body told me this week I needed rest and that’s what I did.  Listening to my body now will be more beneficial than pushing myself which can lead to injuries.  Some weeks you need to run smart, not far.  

Until next time, happy running.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Run Laughlin Race Recap

In March, during a weekly #RunChat I won a race entry and weekend hotel stay for the Run Laughlin Half Marathon. (If you’ve never joined a #RunChat, get more information here—it’s always a fun time!) The race is relatively new—this was only the second year, but I was excited.  The race run in two states & in two time zones—the nerd in me was excited to add this to my race experiences.. The race wasn't until December, but suddenly it was nine months later and I was ready to go.  

The race was on a Saturday so I was driving out to Laughlin on Friday. After meeting up with the #RUN619 and Movin’ Shoes for my morning run, I was on my way.  The drive is 5-6 hours and I frankly wasn’t looking forward to it.  I had been monitoring the weather for about a week and it had been showing high winds for the drive—they weren’t lying!  The drive ended up being pretty uneventful and I arrived in Laughlin with plenty of time to hit up the expo and explore a bit.

#RUN619 before driving to Laughlin
After checking into my hotel, I headed over to the Colorado Belle for the expo.  In my opinion, this could be more accurately be called a bib pick-up.  Although there were a few tables set up, there wasn’t much about it that was expo like.  After getting my bib, I picked up my goodie bag and shirt.  I talked to a volunteer, asked a couple questions and took a picture with the race backdrop.  Although small, every volunteer I encountered was super friendly!! And how fun is getting a deck of cards in your race swag? Definitely the most random race swag ever but that makes it fun!  

And now for the sappy part—growing up, my mom would frequently travel to Laughlin with my aunt and uncle.  They called her “Wild Woman Slots” for her love of the slot machines and they always came back with a fun story to share.  I’ve missed her everyday since she passed away in 2014 and was definitely feeling sentimental when I was heading to Laughlin.  When I picked up my bib, I had a moment.  My mom’s birthday was St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) and my bib number was 317.  She was definitely there with me.  Okay—now back to the race recap.

I woke up race morning and after getting ready, headed over to the Laughlin outlet center to take the shuttle to the start line at Laughlin High School.  I knew it was going to be cold and was prepared with arm sleeves, gloves, a jacket and a Mylar blanket.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the wind, but I’ll go into more later.  

My flat runner with all of my favorite things!
When we were dropped off at the high school, we were treated to coffee and banana bread—I don’t normally drink coffee before a race, but I did have a small cup to warm me up.  They did have space heaters set up, but unfortunately the winds kept blowing them out, so they opened an area of the high school for us so we could wait in the warm hallways.  We were waiting for almost two hours before the race started so it was definitely nice.  After watching the start of the sunrise, I headed over to the start area.  They had a gear check truck set up and approximately five minutes before the start, I checked my jacket and kept my fingers crossed that my arm sleeves and gloves would be enough to keep me warm.  

After a few race announcements and the national anthem, we were off.  The first miles or so ran us through the high school and then we were off to the roads.  The scenery was gorgeous! The sun was still rising and it was breathtaking—I was in serious awe. The first 3.5 miles or so were a steady incline and though I typically don’t like hills, there views made it worth it.  After the steady incline, we turned onto another road and it was downhill as we headed towards Davis Dam.  Another fun adventure to add to my race experiences- running over a dam.  The views continued to be beautiful and I love a good downhill run.  As we ran over Davis Dam, we were running from Nevada into Arizona.  Arizona included a short out and back part and then we headed back into Nevada.  

There were six water stations on the course which had both water and Powerade.  Each station was hosted by a group and they were all competing for a prize.  In our post-race survey, we voted for our favorite one.  Each one was awesome so it was a difficult choice, but what a fun idea.  I’m sure the “competition” gave them some extra energy to share with us.

After making our way across the dam twice, we headed back down towards a nature walk to finish the run into Laughlin.  The nature walk went along the river and was so pretty!  At the end of the nature walk, we headed onto the main strip of Laughlin and it was a blast!  The crowd support wasn’t just the spectators but also the cars that were driving down the strip. It was nice to have that extra support as you were pushing to the finish.  After making my way down the strip, I crossed the finish line and was done! (My Garmin only showed 12.69 miles—I’m not sure where the extra miles went)  After getting my medal, I headed over to the after party were they had plenty of treats for us.  The food options included water, a bagel, bananas, oranges and granola bars.  They also had a beer tent featuring beers from Pints Brewery—if you’re ever in Laughlin, you definitely want to go there.  If you’re a beer drinker, you won't be disappointed.    

I had a dam good time at this race (see what I did there) and would definitely do this race again.  I did learn that beginning in February, American Airlines will be flying into the area so that solves my dilemma of the drive there (I’d much rather fly than drive) and I think that will make this race more inviting to other people that live in neighboring states.  Between the casinos and shows, there is plenty to do in Laughlin.  There are also river activities and other outdoor adventures you can have.  

I would be remiss in my recap if I didn’t discuss the one non-controllable thing about this race—the wind.  I will admit that I am a fair weather runner—I live in Southern California and we don't experience weather in the same ways that other places do.  So I was not prepared for the wind- 25-30mph winds the entire race.  At one point, my weather app was showing 31mph winds and I believe it!  As we were running into the wind, there were points when it didn’t feel like I was moving at all.  I thought I would be relieved when we turned and we had the wind at our side.  It wasn’t much better as it pushed me to the sides—I definitely was not running in a straight line.  There were portions of the race that the wind was at our backs and I took advantage of those times, letting the wind push me forward.  Although the course is PR worthy, I knew early on in the race that it would not be happening for me.  Due to the wind, this  was the most physically challenging half I have ever run.  I decided to enjoy the scenery around me and take it all in.  I walked some, took pictures, talked to other runners and simply enjoyed the experience.  And what an experience it was!


What’s been your most challenging race experience? Would you run that race again?

Until next time, happy running.

Although I won the race entry, all opinions are my own and I was in no way compensated for my recap.  I loved every everything about this race and it’s definitely a strong contender for my 2017 race schedule.  

Ultra Runner Crate

A few weeks ago, I went on Instagram to see if anyone I knew has tried the Ultra Runner Crate subscription box.  I was intrigued at the idea...