Wednesday, June 21, 2017

10 Tips for Running in the Heat Without Dying

You might think that it's a little late in the year to be talking about running in the heat, but I live in Washington state and it's not summer here yet...not until July 5th.

It's weird but totally true.

Saturday it started out nice, but ended up being 59 degrees and raining.

Sigh...The price of being able to run outside year round can be high.

That being said, it does make Washingtonians sensitive to actual summer heat, which means that 80 degrees makes us feel like we're roasting alive...and don't even MENTION 90 degrees!

I run in it all, and make sure not to complain about it TOO much because of all the complaining I do about feeling like I'm freezing 9 months out of the year.

There are definitely some tips and tricks you can do to make running in the heat (whatever that means to you) a bit easier.

1. START and STAY hydrated.
     I can't stress this enough. If you're dehydrated you run the risk of getting kidney stones (done it-don't recommend it) as well as increases your likelihood of over heating and getting heat stroke. being properly hydrated also aids in providing your body with fluid for sweating which is how you cool yourself down. The power of evaporation...use it. Love it.

I completely fried my phone, but the water was worth it!

Pro tip: Fill your water bottle and inch or two with water and then freeze it. When you fill it up it will be nice and cold! If you use a backpack hydration system tip the bladder on it's side when you freeze the water so you don't block your hose intake valve with ice;)

2. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium and bicarbonate . They are our friends. They keep us alive and from feeling like we're going to pass out, or puke. They provide the juice that our muscles need to do their job and contract while we run. (But not TOO much! Because Charlie Horses hurt like the dickens). I like to use electrolyte capsules while I run. They work like a charm and also seem to help the absorption of fluid so I don't get "sloshy stomach".

3. Run in the morning, or in the evening. Basically any time that it NOT the hottest time of the day. Plus, if' you're running in the morning or evening you can utilize shade, which you won't get running at high noon.

4 Slow down. It takes energy to cool your body down. Energy you USED to be using just for running and keeping yourself warm. The warmer it is, the more energy is diverted from running. Studies have shown that for every 5 degrees over 60 degrees (the magic perfect running temperature we all crave and love) you can slow down as much as 20 to 30 seconds per mile. You don't suck, it's Science.

5. Be Smart. Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion. They include, but are not limited to:
  • Dark-colored urine or cessation of urinating
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  •  Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Chills
  • Pale skin
Don’t try and run through these symptoms. Sit down in some shade, and if you're light headed lift your feet above your head. You don’t have an Olympic gold medal on the line here. We do this for fun, remember?

6. Get wet! Some might not be comfortable with this, but I totally run through peoples sprinklers if I see them. (Obviously I am respectful of their property when I do this.) It feels amazing! If I have a hat on, I get that wet as well. I'm not above sitting in an irrigation ditch if it gets hot enough...

7. Give yourself time. It takes approx. 2 weeks to acclimate to new surroundings. Altitude? 2 weeks. Cold? 2 weeks. Heat? 2 weeks. Even the Army won't give PT tests for two weeks if you're transferred to a hot area. And the Army doesn't care about your whining. So cut yourself some slack - just not TOO much;)

8. Dress for success! Tech fabric is your friend. It wicks your sweat away and helps keep you cool(er). It also helps you avoid chafing. Nobody wants chafing. Just say NO to cotton!

A little present from the Boston Marathon this year.
I've had chafing on around my belly button, on the backs of my arm pits and the WORST was
at the Owl Roost Rumble Trail Half Marathon in NC. I could barely walk afterwards.

9. Treat yourself! I find that having a cold treat waiting for me at the end of a hot run makes a world of difference in my moral. Watermelon is my "go to" treat, but frankly just having some ice cold water at the end can turn things around!

10. Run with a friend! Misery loves company? Every run is easier when you've got a running buddy next to you. How many times have you dreaded a run but gone anyway because you were meeting a friend and then it turned out just fine?

Don't forget to wear sunscreen!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wasatch Back Ragnar 2017 - Team "A Few Ups and and Some Downs"


I mean come on...if you had the chance to run through this, wouldn't you?!

Back in 2013 I heard about a Pacific North West Ragnar team (The Kittin Mittins) that was looking for a runner at the last minute and jumped at the chance!
The Kittin Mittins 2013!

I had a fantastic time, even though I didn't know any of the runners (I brought a book in case they were weird- they weren't) and that was how I met Lisa.
Fast forward 4 years and this will be my 3rd long distance relay with Lisa .
I ran the Hood to Coast Relay (The Dirty Dozen) with Lisa in 2014.

When she contacted me about running the Wasatch Back Ragnar I jumped at the chance.


A Few Ups and Some Downs 2017!

The race starts in Logan UT at the Utah State University track. We were Van #1 so we started the whole thing off!

Me, Israel, Matt, John,Pamala, Melissa

(for those unfamiliar, there are two vans of 6 runners and we leap frog so that each runner, runs a total of 3 times over 36 hours. Or just depends on how fast you run.)

Our line up was John, Me, Israel, Matt, Melissa and then Pamala hands off to the first runner of Van #2

My first leg was 10 miles.

In the back of my mind I knew the altitude would be a factor, but it always amazes me how MUCH of a difference altitude makes! I was breathing hard, my heart rate was up and my legs felt so tired...I looked down at my watch and saw that I was half a mile into the run. Time to buckle in for the ride:)

My race nickname was "Peanut" as in Circus Peanut due to the color of my tank.

Here is an example of what my selfies look like...but look at those mountains!

The car thermometer said it was 65 degrees, but we all agreed there was no way that was accurate. It felt HOT out there! When you run through the desert there aren't many trees for shade.

BUT when you run through the desert that people have settle in, you have irrigation ditches.

It felt amazing and I regret nothing!

Yes. I did. I dunked myself in an irrigation ditch. It was a clean one though. They had lined it with river rocks and it was too inviting to pass up. Plus, I was starting to overheat and I was only 4.5 miles into my first leg. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Oh, and I made a wrong turn, but a really nice van from another team stopped and shouted me down so I could get back on course.

Leg #2

I started my leg at 9pmish. I was all dolled up in my reflective gear that hasn't seen the light of day for a couple of months. I had a few technical difficulties with my back lamp, so when John came running in and handed me the sweaty slap bracelet "baton" I was just standing there while my team mates tried to attach something working to my back. We forgot to tell John that though, so he couldn't figure out why I wasn't running:)

2 fast flat miles!

2 puny miles! Fast and flat....almost not worth putting my shoes on for;)

Those are always really fun for the runner who just finished and the people in the van as they try and race their runner to the next exchange. I wanted to be a team player so I gave them some extra time by missing my turn again. I got a block past my turn when a nice man doing some yard work pointed my mistake out. Seriously. It takes a village to raise me.

Everybody in Van #1!

It seriously looked like The Sound of Music

After grabbing dinner at the only eatery still open within 30 minutes of us, we crashed at a local school for some much needed sleep. John and Israel decided to sleep in the van, Matt had a pup tent to himself and Melissa, Pamala and I located the best spot in the building...The wrestling mat room. It's worth the time to find. Trust me. The extra cushioning on the floor makes so much difference. I also think that the mats mute some of the noise of people moving around that can really make it difficult to sleep during these stops. I brought ear plugs. They were amazing.

The next morning we had some difficultly getting to where we needed to be for the next exchange because the school where we slept wasn't where the exchange was. The exchange was in the middle of nowhere and the GPS coordinates they gave were about a half a mile off.

Matt, John and I

Lisa was waiting to hand the baton off, for about 5 minutes. Making someone tired and hungry wait for you at 4:30 in the morning is a good way to annoy them. She was a good sport about it though. It helped that she knew she was going to be able to get a shower and a nap in the near future. She and Matt live near the next big exchange, so it was even going to be in her own bed.

It was about 5:30am when it was time for my final leg of 4.9 miles

It was also 35 degrees. It's a strange feeling to be sweating AND have cold hands.
It was really pretty though. The route followed an old railroad track that has been converted into an unpaved greenway trail. I got to watch the sunrise over the mountains while I ran and you really can't beat that, can you?  


Sunrise on the mountains!

What the back of the medals look like.
When you put them all together they have a phrase printed on the back.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Oregon Spring Half Marathon 2017

This year the Oregon Spring Half Marathon was held over Memorial Day weekend and I can't think of a better way to honor and remember the service men that have died for our freedom that to participate in the activity that is the ultimate expression of freedom.

Dennis, Yoshi, Randy and I all headed down to St. Paul, Oregon on Friday.
Pre Race photo op!

We grabbed some dinner at Red Robin after deciding that getting sushi the night before would be a bad idea. You know what a GOOD idea is? Macaroni and Cheese!

Or not...

I got sick and spent the night puking into the toilet. It was awesome...for everyone. I'm sure it was great for everyone else to have the bathroom hogged and to try to fall asleep to the sound of puking.

But I woke up at 6am and ate a careful breakfast of some oatmeal and we all headed to the starting line to pick up our bibs. The race starts at the Heritage Rose Garden in St. Paul OR.

The race started bright and early at 7:30am which at first seemed like an oddly early start time, but due to the upper 80 weather prediction was awesome.
The race does this weird thing where they start the 10k, and half marathon at the same time. Last year they started the 5k at the same time as well, but this year they gave them a head start.:)

Since I wasn't feeling great I decided to take it easy and just run at a pace that felt good. I decided that about a 2 hour half marathon pace would be a good start. I really wasn't sure what was going to happen.
 Randy had signed up for the 10k and since the races started together we were able to run together until the 10k turn around. We fell into our old habits and ended up egging each other on pace inching faster and faster like we did when we trained together.

I miss that:)

This is what finish line photos look like now that we all have Garmin (or other brands) watches. Lovely photos of the top of our heads while we time stopping our watch at the exact moment we cross the timing mats. I got a little antsy with the 2 hour pacing group (who finished right on the money!) and sped up the last 4 miles to finish in 1:56:

While I LOVE getting race photos for free, this race seems to just have some random dude standing on a ladder with a point and shoot camera that had trouble trying to meter the light on such a sunny day.

Yoshi ran her very first half marathon!! She did such a great job on a hot day. She and Dennis have been training together and she was running so well that she picked up the pace at mile 4 and finished ahead of him! Randy and I went out on the course about a quarter mile to run her in.
She was so focused and really utilized all her mental training to get her

In case you didn't know it was hot, here is a photo of Dennis when he crossed the finish line. He's wearing one of the ice towels they gave out on course. Those towels were AWESOME. I kept mine as well. Wiping my arms and face during the race really helped me not feel crusty and sunburnt. Plus the water acted like sweat and let the power of evaporation work in my favor but not leave a salty residue.

The course is exactly like they describe it on the Uberthon website. It's flat and fast and the only hill is the one at mile 5 and only last for about 200  meters. Plus, you get to run down it on the return.

The volunteers were great and even though many were high school students, they didn't do that weird silent staring thing that sometimes happens. They cheered and were encouraging!
I did pass a lady at mile 7 that was over heating and we weren't going to see a water stop for a  while so I poured some of the water from my hydropack onto her to help cool her off.
Yet another reason to carry your own water;)

After the race all the runners get Qdoba! It sound awful before you run, and honestly right after you finish it doesn't sound that great, but after is awesome:)

The medals were pretty impressive as well. The way I put it, is "if you tripped and fell in a puddle while wearing it, you would drown." It's impressive.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy - Review

The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy

I originally bought this book thinking it was going to cover more of the ecological impact of producing cotton t-shirts.

(I'm starting to see a theme in my book selections. I should probably read the blurb on the back more carefully.)

Instead it covered the history of cotton production and the politics and policies that move the cotton around the world until we get the finished product...the cotton t-shirt.

There are a lot of moving parts and parties involved in how we get something as simple as a t-shirt onto the store shelves. I really had no idea.

I had no idea that most of the risks of growing cotton is largely shouldered by the government. There is such a small window of opportunity to pick the cotton that scheduling labor is really difficult. You definitely don't want to pay people that aren't working...that's why slavery and cotton were so intertwined. The price of cotton has been subsidized by the government in order to take price pressure off the farmers. Import Quotas were imposed to minimize the international competition.

For every move made to protect the current interests, there was a counter move to respond to the market. Technology responded to the barriers put in place by politicians. Which is kind of cool, but sad that the people scrambling to save their livelihood had to watch that livelihood change into something they didn't recognize.

Reading about the quotas and the motivations behind how the numbers are set was sad in a way to read how much the world has changed and how hard it has been for people to adapt to the changes. Through the years governmental policy has been changed in an effort to protect the current interests and how those changes ended up failing to protect what they were designed to protect.

It was also kind of scary to read how people manipulate the system to make money. I don't see a way for someone to tell where their clothes are actually made. Or where the supplies came from. They come from everywhere. The cotton probably comes from Texas...then it's shipped somewhere else to make the thread...then THAT is shipped to somewhere else to weave the fabric...which is shipped somewhere ELSE for cutting.

THEN the fabric is shipped for cutting...and probably shipped elsewhere for assembly. The place those pieces are assembled is where the label says it's made. Where it's made, is who has it come out of their finished garment quota. (oh, yeah, there are quotas for all the other stages).

OR not. For every market there is a Black Market. They just buy labels from places with available quotas.

There is a chapter titled "Race to the Bottom".

We all know about sweat shops, and this chapter goes over how the changing labor regulations (when they're followed) is one of the main pressures on who is the king pin in the industry at the time.

Basically the US was the main cotton supplier, but then we started caring about people dying in manufacturing moved to Japan...but then they started caring, so it's moved to China. It's probably going to move soon, because the sweat shops are getting a lot of attention, which will pressure labor regulations for improvements which will increase costs.

Success (in the apparel industry) really is a race to the bottom in how horrible we can treat people.

Which makes me sad. I try to be aware of my actions, and choose the ecological option,, the economical option and source what I buy from "green" and "humane" companies. But to be honest, it just feels like there isn't a way to do that. There are just ways to be tricked into THINKING you're doing that.

But I guess that's why life can't be lived in absolutes. They don't exist on a practical level.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Combacks & Adventures - Book Review

Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks & Adventures
(I wasn't compensated for this review)

At first I wasn't too impressed, not necessarily due to any fault of the book,  but because I had already read The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter's Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete and the second short story was an excerpt from that book. (It's really good! You can look forward to a review since I apparently didn't do one at the time.)

Now that I'm thinking about it, I remember that I bought both books at the same time, so re-reading the short version of it right after finishing the unabridged version was a let down.

It languished on the shelf for about a year before I pulled it out again to give it another try.

I'll be honest, I didn't really get into the first section "Inspirations". Maybe I'm just too jaded to really appreciate that type of story.

I decided to push through and keep reading despite my unofficial rule of giving a book two chapters to capture my attention before moving on. That might seem harsh, but it's the writer job to make the story interesting, and I've got to get SOMETHING out of it, or why am I even reading?!

I LOVE the second section "Legends". Joan Benoit Samuelson, Dick Beardsley & Alberto Salazar and their Duel in the Sun, Zola Budd, Ryan Hall, Deana Kastor, Ryan Shay's last run and Steve Prefontaine.

Deana Kastor, me, Ryan Hall @ Boston 2017
I love reading about elite runners. I think so often we (the average runner) think that these people just roll out of bed and run like they do without any struggle or work. I like reading and learning about the work they do, both mentally and physically. It makes my running dreams seem more possible.

They might be genetically gifted but they work just as hard (harder?) for their goals as I do for mine. The numbers are just a bit different:)

It was also great timing that I was reading this book just as Boston: An American Running Story came back to theaters. So many of the runners featured in the book were also featured and interviewed for the movie.

Reading about "True Originals" and all the quirky runners like Billy Rogers AKA "Boston Billy" and Reza Baluchi (whose latest hijinks was basically to try to use a plastic ball and run across open ocean. which makes me like him less, because he doesn't seem to put much thought into the realities of his efforts and just counts on someone else to bail him out if they go wrong.) was fun and interesting. Reading about Janet Furman Bowman and how transitioning from male to female affected her running was really interesting and touching. It takes a lot of courage to make such a public change. If there is a running book then there is going to be mention of John J. Kelley somewhere in it:)

"Runners High" was a collection of short stories on how becoming a "runner" changes a persons life. There is so much personal identity that comes with running. You learn things about yourself that seems to need the catalyst of getting up early, running and being uncomfortable to really sort out. Relationships can be healed through running either together or separately. When someone is a "runner" you see them differently...and I'm not talking about speed here. I'm just talking about knowing someone puts one foot in front of the other and keeps moving. It changes things.

"Adventures & Investigations" had more stories of the inner thoughts of runners. The fears of not being "good enough" and the triumph of doing it anyway.

How running can be used for good like Terry Fox did during his Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer when no one talked about cancer and being sick was something people were ashamed of. He ran 3,339 miles across Canada on a crappy prosthetic leg (because back then there were no sports prosthetics). A  marathon a day for 143 days until the cancer killed him. 

I tell you, running in the rain seems a lot less horrible when you think about that.

reading first hand accounts about how running helps the stress management and mental recovery for soldiers really helps build appreciation for our sport and all the support that comes from strangers we'll never see again. A solo sport that actually brings complete strangers together and helps people feel not so alone. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chocolate vs. Speed

It's no secret that I love my chocolate...and my baked goods.

BUT, now that I've reached the advanced age of 38 it turns out that I can't just stuff my face with whatever I want without also enjoying some of the consequences.

I also read that for every pound loss/gained is the difference of 3 seconds per mile. That doesn't sound worth cutting down my Nutella consumption until you do the math for a marathon.

I'm not fat, but I'm not at my prime "racing weight" either. I could train like crazy and really dig into my speed workouts OR...I could just not eat so much candy. I got my body fat percentage measured and it's reasonable for me to lose approx. 10lbs of fat.

Science is awesome but it still comes down to the human body.

But I can totally see why there are so many eating disorders in running.

Not only are you chasing the dream of being as fast as you can, you're also trying to find that optimal balance between strength and weight.

In MY personal battle of chocolate vs. health I've been trying to focus on eating more nutritionally dense foods by eating more veggies and all that.

I just have one word.


My muffins didn't look anything like this photo. They're a kind of brown/orange (which due to the carrots and sweet potatoes makes sense.) I even doubled the amount of coco powder and used Dark Chocolate Almond Milk rather than the vanilla the recipe called for, because while they aren't GROSS, they just didn't taste very chocolaty.

They are just as dense as the photo looks but without the gooeyness. The don't look anything like brownies and they don't taste like them either.

I won't make them again, because they are definitely NOT worth the carbs (30 grams) that they have in them between actual sugar, and the carrots and sweet potatoes.

But I'd eat them if I really wanted something with chocolate in it, and was desperate. 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Anatomy for Runners- Book review

I really loved this book.

It's FULL of information. In fact there was so much really great, applicable information I had to slow down and limit my reading to 10 pages a night, just so I could be sure to retain the information.

It is written in a more technical way than "Ready to Run", so I had to adjust from being used to reading conversationally to technical writing.

This book was awesome and just looking through it to write this review makes me want to read it again.

It covered so much information on the mechanics of running, running form, the different stressors that running puts on the body, the authors dislike of standard running shoes:) as well as diagnosis tests for body mechanics and a whole regimen of exercises that you can do to correct form and strengthen weaknesses.

Chapter 3 Microanatomy- What Are You Made Of? was really interesting and useful how they broke down bone structure and how running puts stress on the human form. They also discuss stress fractures and some trouble shooting ideas if they start turning chronic. This caught my eye because I had a stress fracture two years ago and DON'T want to go through that again. I also have a friend that has been plagued with them despite doing all the things she's supposed to, to mitigate the issues.

Oh, and the author hates traditional running shoes...BUT has the good sense to just leave it with "if it works for you, don't change it." Which I appreciate.

I loved chapter 6: Dynamic Neuromuscular Strength - Make a Smarter, Stronger Spring. We all want to run faster and smarter and the information in here really explains how to maximize what you're working with.

Chapter 8 covers Essentials of Running Gait - The Human Slingshot and it's mostly stuff that has already been covered in other resources but it's backed up with a lot of data and resource references...which I love.
Chapter 9 "Assessment and Development of the Athlete Within-Redefining the Body You've Come to Know and Love" went over assessments that runners should do to locate and identify tight areas, and weak areas that need to be worked on.

Before I started reading I had a good idea of my weak areas but I got a few surprises during the assessment regarding just how tight my hips (not the surprise) and my quads are (surprise!).

Luckily the next chapter covers corrective exercises and stretches so I can work on fixing myself up and get the most out of my running and training.