Friday, September 01, 2017

Creating The Perfect Running Playlist

I'm gearing up to run my marathon in two weeks and I realized during my last Long Run that I am so TIRED of my playlist!

I didn't fact-check this. You're welcome.
I don't run with music very often, so I really shouldn't be tired of the songs but I there you go.

I'm not a huge fan of running with music just because it can pose some really big safety issues when you can't hear what's going on around you.

I only wore one headphone so I could still hear what was happening around me.
...Or when you inadvertently run my dad off the road while he pushes my niece in a stroller because you can't hear him call out that he was passing.

She so cute! How could you run  her off the road?
I would much rather have a good long run chat with my running buddy than have music blaring in my brain.

These poor souls discovered what my father and sister already knew...I like to talk while I run. (Dad once commented that he could tell when I was struggling or running out of steam because I would finally shut up.)

I mentioned a race where no one was talking to my friend Larissa and she was flabbergasted. "I'm running too hard to talk during a race." I told her "I guess I'm not, because I like to talk while I run". We might have discovered why my race times don't match my projected times...

I created my first pace specific play list in 2014 for my potential Boston Qualifying marathon Light at the End of the Tunnel. (I also had my mother who is a certified Hypnotherapist lead me through a meditation session the night before the race. I also had some amazing friends pace me. Yes, I pulled out all the stops!)
It worked! 3:37:48 for a Boston Qualifying time!

I use the website to input my target per mile pace and it pulls up an extensive list of music that has the right beats per minute to match my per mile pace goal. Then I create the list in Spotify with the songs I think I'll like and listen to it multiple times at home to see if I hate any of the songs. My playlist is very...eclectic.

There are songs in it that when people hear them, I feel the need to explain and make excuses about why I'm listening to them:)

"Mamba #5" anyone?

Logic doesn't make many appearances in marathon running.

It took some tweaking but in the end I have a playlist of songs I like that will help keep me on pace!

If you want to check it out click here! "3:20" (Because I'm super creative with my usernames.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Beast of Big Creek 7 miler 2017

One of my favorite races in the area is The Beast of Big Creek.

I like it for several reasons...

First, it's in the gorgeous Olympic Forest which always increases my enthusiasm. (I forgot my phone in the car, so I "borrowed" these gorgeous shots from my friend Alice because she plans ahead better than I do.)

Second, it's super cheap. It was only cost $20 to register.
$25 if you wanted to do the 21k to the summit.

Third, they have tasty snack at the finish line. Trail runners and Ultra runners really know the importance of proper fueling:)

I haven't run this race since 2015, but I was excited to run it this year. The Forest Services had finished Big Creek Campground and the race had slightly changed the course. (This turned out to mean that the "short" race was longer.)

2015 was 6.6 miles                        2017 was 7.25 miles
The elevation stayed the same though at a nice "flat" 1100 feet of climbing.

I haven't had the guts to run the Summit course yet. They have a 4 hour cut off and I've never DNF'd before. I really like to keep that streak alive.  I also knew that I hadn't trained for a race that ran up 5,000 ft elevation straight up a mountain. But NEXT year, will be my year. I know it!

This year we had smoky, crappy weather all week in addition to near 100 degree weather, so I wasn't sure what kind of race I would have.
This is the IMPROVED air quality!

I was also trying to decide if I had a cold, or if the stifling congestion and overall crappy energy levels I'd had for most of the week was just a by product of the air quality.

I drove up with my friends Jason, Alice, Rudy and Alisha and even though we had all run the race before we had trouble finding the starting line. The race had sent out directions but because we had all run it before we didn't really read them...Luckily we got there early so we had time to wander around lost. We did bump into a runner who was a little more strapped for time and I was relieved to see in the results that he found the start in time to do the summit. I know it was really close for him!

The race does an EXCELLENT job marking the course. Lots of yellow ribbon blocking off the trails we weren't supposed to turn on, and tons of pick ribbon marking the trail as we ran.

I didn't get lost once, which for me is an achievement. I've gotten lost on routes I've run for years.

I'll be honest. I struggled in the race. The congestion was hard to run through. Obviously I can breath through my mouth, but since I don't normally run and breath exclusively through my mouth I was a bit short of breath through the first 3.75 miles which were all uphill.

I wasn't sure where I was in the results until I could count the runners coming back down. That was when I realized I had dropped to 4th place overall woman.

If I had been feeling better I might have been able to catch up to 3rd and make it a "real" race;)

But I wasn't and I knew I wasn't. I felt kind of woozy on the way up. Enough that instead of grabbing my back of fruit snack and eating it on the way down like I normally would, I sat and ate them while I chatted a bit with the runners that came in right behind me. (That cleared up once I drank some Gatorade at the finish line, which makes me think that it was my electrolytes.)

This is a photo from 2015. I didn't take any this year.

Funny story about my ego: While I was waiting in line for the bathroom I noticed a runner who was holding a steal water bottle. The kind you carry around during the day, not the kind you usually see at a race. I figured she was planning on hiking the race and that I wouldn't see her again until I was on the way back down.

Plot twist! She was right on my tail for at least two miles before the turn around.

I always laugh at myself when I make judgments on someone's ability based on something as arbitrary as their gear. It turns out that water bottles don't run...people do! To make the story better, it turned out that she had signed up that morning because she didn't want to sit in the car and wait for her fiancĂ© to run the summit distance. :) She nabbed 5th place in Overall Women!

I was relieved to get to turn around and start running back down the mountain. But MAN those switchbacks were rough! It's been really dry lately and it was hard to navigate the sharp turns without feeling like you were going to go flying off the trail.

Those don't last too long though, and then I got to open up and run!

Because I took that rest at the turn around there was a gap between me and the runners in front. I also managed to build a good cushion between me and the runners behind me, which is a nice feeling.

I Quit Last Night

Last night I quit my run.

I'm not saying I cut it short. Or that I adjusted it due to the weather or how I was feeling.

I'm saying I quit.

I started it.

I tried to run the workout...

But it wasn't working. My brain wasn't working.

I don't think I've ever quit a run before.

I've never had that feeling of being completely DONE mentally before really even getting started.

I could blame the hot weather, or the smoky air, the fact that my quads are still hurting from the race on Saturday...or even the fact that I officially have a head cold. I've struggled through workouts in worse weather, with muscles that are in worse shape. I've even made the horrible decision to run while I'm sick. Sure my numbers suck when I do that, but I still get the run in.

I just couldn't do it yesterday.

I ran my warm up (because you know the first mile is always a I ran 2.5)

I ran the first Interval and couldn't get my brain in the game.

I started the second Interval and got about a quarter of the way through it when I realized...

"I'm done."

And I was.

I quit. I was done.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

I canceled my run...ugh!

Today I canceled the community run I lead each Wednesday. I think it's the first time in the seven years since I started that I've canceled.

I've run in snow, rain, wind, hail...but... 

The air quality is total crap outside.

There is a really large forest fire raging in British Columbia, Canada about 5 hours north of here, which is what is causing all the haze and poor air quality.

Normally I don't pay much attention to the air quality rankings. They always seem to be set at "Orange" and I'm lucky enough to not suffer from asthma.

But the air quality is total crap outside. I woke up today with a sore throat and thought I was getting sick (I'm not ruling that out, since I've been sneezing throughout the day as well. I can always tell I'm getting sick by how much I start sneezing.)

Then I went home for lunch and saw how hazy the air was, and got a headache just from that short bit of being outside. I couldn't imagine taking people out on a run in this.
They say there is a 5 mile visibility, but the Puget Sound is about a mile
from my office and you can't even see it.

Plus, the heat index is on the high side for us delicate PNW flowers ;)

It's like 90 degrees outside right now. It might as well be on fire.

Apparently thick forest fire haze is the same thing as "partly cloudy".

It's easier for me to make good decisions when it means I'm making them for other people. I'm totally OK canceling the run so that my friends run in safe conditions, but it's SO MUCH harder to skip the run if it's just for me.

Right now I'm blocking out that little voice that tries to convince runners to run even if they're injured..."just run'll be fine..."

It won't be fine. My throat hurts already and all I've done is sit at a desk inside an office all day!

But I still feel like I should do something. So I'm making this blog post to distract myself.

It's not really working.

Racing Weight: Quick Start Book Review


                                                         Racing Weight: Quick Start Guide        

I want to be the strongest, best runner than I can be and that means, that in addition to a strong training program, I need to look at my nutrition.

I heard really good things about "Racing Weight" and had read it several years ago...unfortunately I didn't really remember very much about the details so I decided to order the "Racing Weight-Quick Start Guide" to help me get started on fueling my workouts better.

I have to say that weight management and the idea of getting into "racing weight" can be kind of a tricky topic since it's so easy for runners to fixate on our weight as a way to get faster or as something holding us back from reaching our goals.

Let's be honest...we're all a little bit of a micro manager when it comes to looking at our PR's and training logs. We hardly need another thing to obsess over.

But Matt Fitzgerald does an excellent job on addressing the need to fuel workouts properly as well as the advantages of racing at our personal "ideal racing weight". I think he handled a sensitive subject in a professional, understanding and responsible manner.

The Quick Start Guide is a great way for a semi experienced athlete (he covers cyclists, triathletes and runners) to get onto a weight management program while not compromising their training.

The very first chapter covers figuring out your personal "racing weight" is and covers the fact that thinner isn't always better. It's possible to be too thin, and compromise your athletic performance. Your ideal racing weight can mean gaining weight so that your body has what it needs to work hard.

The book has calculations to figure out the following:

Body Fat Mass (That's figuring out how much total fat you have on your body, including Essential Fat- the stuff that keeps you alive. You'll need to know your body fat % for this.)

I'm 135lbs and my body fat is .24%

135*0.24 =32.4 pounds of fat

Lean Body Mass (That's what your muscles, bones, ligaments and bits and pieces weigh. It's your fat weighs minus your total weight.)

32.4-135 = 102.6lbs

Calculate your Goal Weight ( It takes your current Lean Weight and divides it by your Goal Lean Weight.)

Subtract your goal body fat percentage from 100.

100- .21% = 79 (then make it a percentage) = 79%

Divide your Lean Body Mass by your goal percentage 102.6/0.79 = 129.8lbs

I really like being able to set reasonable goals that have the basis in actual numbers. I like pace charts, I like prediction tables and I like making sure my goals are reasonable and reachable.

The book has a complicated food rating system that probably helps you not fixate calorie counting and instead on nutrition density. It reminded me a bit of Weight Watchers because it assigns food points based on the nutrition content.

It offers two program lengths as well as goes over the need to adjust the intensity of your training while trying to loose weight. Because you really can't lose weight AND build muscle/strength. It also offers training programs to follow while on the nutrition plan, which I think is really nice, because I'm pretty set in my training and I know I would struggle finding a good balance of what training I should do if I can't follow my normal cycle.

He offers a Low Volume and a High Volume training plan for cycling, triathletes and runners.

He really focuses on improving nutrition and being strong rather than numbers on a scale and I really like that.

Things like:
1. Improve your diet quality
2. Balance your energy sources
3. Time nutrients
4. Manage your appetite
5. Train for your racing weight

He covers how to calculate you Macros (Fat, Protein, Carb) based on your training load, which I found really helpful because all endurance athletes fear "the wall/bonking" while in a race.
We love our carbs and would rather eat more than we need than not have enough in our system. (spoiler alert! Carb loading is a myth.)

He also offers meal ideas as well as timing suggestions. 

I can get behind reasonable goals like this.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ragnar Northwestern Passage 2017 - #GRRLS Grab Back

Last year I ran with the "#Golden GRRLS" Ragnar team and had such an amazing time that I jumped at the chance to join them again THIS year!

I had an amazing time again, which isn't surprising with such an amazing team of women. Our goal was to finish in under 24 hours, which is an unofficial feather in the cap of competitive teams.  You KNOW you're good if you can do that:)

Our team name was "#GRRLS Grab Back" but by the end of the race I think we should have been named "A Series of Unfortunate Events".

Team #GRRLS Grab Back at the finish line!

It started before we even started...

Our AMAZING team captain Jules, keeps everything straight for us and was double checking everything before race day. She called up Budget on Wednesday to confirm our vans were in order, which was when she discovered they only had one van reserved for us...huh? NO.

The thing is, is EVERY SINGLE 16 passenger van, large SUV and Mini Van was booked within a 4 hour radius because it's Ragnar weekend. So even though the call was recorded and she could prove that she asked for TWO vans and they were super sorry about messing the reservation up, physically there wasn't a vehicle for us to use.

As a team we scrambled to try and find a replacement but it was Carrie that came to the rescue with her big SUV with external storage. She's awesome!

I managed to hit horrendous traffic on my drive up to Seattle to meet my teammates. It was so bad I seriously thought I was going to make us miss our exchange with Van #1 in Bellingham. I really thought I was going to have to meet my team out on the course. So stressful. Last year we missed first place by 20 minutes and I did NOT want to be the one who made us lose this year! It was supposed to take me an hour to get there, and instead it took me TWO AND A HALF. Although I learned later it could have been MUCH worse. Apparently I5 was closed down in Lacey about 30 minutes after I passed through and traffic was backed up for MILES.

I was assigned as runner #10 in Van #2. In a Ragnar there are up to 12 runners (Ultra teams can have up to 6 runners) divided between two vehicles. Runner #1 starts the race and then hands off to runner #2 and so on.
Van #1 runners lounging at the startline

Runners are ready to go!

Our team was assigned a start time of 1:00pm on Friday in Blaine, WA (We can see Canada from the start line!) and Eliza tore through leg #1!

Did I mention how amazingly talented the ladies on this team are?

Everything was going according to our carefully crafted Excel Spreadsheet plans when Van#1 missed an exchange with Runner #3 (Karen) who ended up waiting about 10 minutes for Runner #4  (Jules). The course is on some back roads and Google Maps is spotty, so it's easy to get turned around. THEN Jules took a wrong turn due to some confusing signage. She ended up running almost an entire extra mile!
But she still rocked her pace like a boss;)

The thing I love about this team the most is that even though we had a clearly stated goal and everyone REALLY wants to win and do our best, everyone managed to keep a positive attitude and not drag the energy down and turn the experience into 24 hours of stressed out misery and blame throwing.

I've seen plenty of teams disintegrate under a lot less pressure.

#GRRLS Grab Back Van #1 and Van #2 at the big exchange in Bellingham!

The hand off between Runner #6 (Laura) and Runner #7 (Carrie) went smoothly and I even had time to find two geocaches! Van #1 went off to find some food and Van #2 was officially up and running!

Carrie ran like a boss and finished strong!

Runner #8 (Kristina) BLASTED through her leg, finishing to the song "Winning" which seemed appropriate:) (Did I mention she ran a sub 5 minute mile two days earlier?!)

Runner #9 (Angela) Ran an amazing leg picking up some of the time lost earlier which helped missing the exchange.

We didn't have GPS signal so I was using the written directions and the course signage to navigate to the exchange. We made a right turn, which was where I thought we were going the wrong way, so we turned around and followed a sign telling us to go straight...We saw an exchange up ahead and I even asked the volunteer what exchange we were at...but I still felt like something was wrong...but we shook it off as a layover of worry from the earlier snafu's.

The largest rice crispy treat I've ever seen. I HAD to have it!

Kristina decided to run out and meet Angela and run in with her, when we got a text from Angela. "I'm here. Where ARE you?!"

Have you ever seen 4 women in running gear standing in a field scatter in panic?

I have.

We jumped in the van and drove (quickly, but safely) down the road where we picked up a confused Kristina and tore over to the correct exchange. The exchange that was just down the road from where I had us turn around...

On the upside I got a nice preview of my leg. On the downside Angela ran her legs off for no reason other than personal achievement.
Leg #1

I managed to give the sweaty slap bracelet to Runner #11 (Jeanine) and she managed to hand off to Runner #12 (Rachel) who managed to hand off to Eliza in Van #1 with NO PROBLEMS AT ALL!!

And she looked awesome sporting the ONE80 headlamp. Like an angel that runs like the devil:)

Then we almost went to the wrong exchange 45 minutes away.

"Luckily" Rachel was trying to navigate and wasn't feeling super logical after her run and asked someone else to double check where we were going.

It turns out we only needed to go to a school about 15 minutes away. We didn't even have to turn around or anything.

Some of the scenery they got to run through.

We had enough time to grab the spaghetti dinner they were selling in the cafeteria and a 45 minute nap in the gym. I stared at the ceiling for 45 minutes because I couldn't sleep and forgot my ear plugs in my stressed out dash to the van in Seattle.


Yay! We managed to grab the slap bracelet without any issues! Carrie ran an amazing 10.5 miles, where I ran into Mark from my 2013 Ragnar Team in Nashville TN! Kristina ran her 5.5 miles like a comet and we missed the exchange again...and Angela scorched her 2 miles:)

My Garmin decided to suck power and die just as I started my two mile leg, but whatever. I can run two miles without my precious Garmin...Plus, I had the charger in the car, so it was a fixable problem. Mark was running this leg too! We said "hi" again as we ran by each other. (This was the only leg that Angela and I handed off without incident).

Leg #2

I handed off to Jeanine for her 9.8 mile night time leg, which was also the Deception Pass leg. She got a special medal for running it and everything:) We missed her exchange too. I mean we were THERE this time, but we weren't ready at all. Rachel was still getting her gear on when Kristina ran up and yelled "SHE'S HERE!!!" (We had stopped on course to cheer her and offer aide support but missed her, which lead to miscalculating  her arrival.)

Deception Pass

Sunrise at Deception Point

Rachel is a quick change artist and was on the road in no time.

She ran a strong nine miles, even though she started having some woozy issues at about the 4 mile mark. We made sure to give her course support with water and food, but she didn't want to switch out. So we made sure to shadow her. She's not a complainer, so we knew if she was saying anything about it, it must be pretty bad.

Successful final handoff to Van#1!

Then lots of electrolytes for Rachel...and a little sitting. It was all good.

At this point I drove us to the next big exchange (we didn't even get lost) and then I TOOK A SHOWER.  On the scale of great showers it was pretty low on the comfort scale. But on the "I'm  finally clean" scale it was off the charts! Then I bought a really gross/weird cafeteria breakfast because I was super hungry and my standards were really low at that point. But I gave Kristina the coffee it came with so we're besties now.

Then Jeanine, Rachel and I layed out in the sun like homeless people. It was amazing.

Then we started our final legs!

Carrie ran an amazing 6 miles and Kristina rocked her final 7.7 miles. Did I mention she has amazing form? She does. I'm jealous. We're all jealous. Maybe Angela isn't...Her form is pretty awesome as well. She rocked her final 7 miles as well. We missed the exchange. Sigh...

We were doing great and we stopped and cheered for her and asked if she needed water (It was HOT!) a couple of times while she was running. We passed the "One Mile To Go" sign...and then we kept driving...and driving...Finally I was like "This is the longest mile I have ever experienced. Something isn't right here..." and Kristina was like "Yeah...this CAN'T be right. That was the second "One Mile to Go" sign. We need to turn around."

And then we were ALL like "AAAAAHHHHHH!!! CRAPPPPPP! Flip a U-turn RIGHT NOW!"

So we did.

And Rachel managed to get some spotty GPS service and get us to the correct exchange (that was NOT marked with signage) where the volunteers were yelling at us and making us even more confused and finally I just jumped out of the van and ran and found Angela who was less than pleased, but still nice to us. Probably because we had water.

While we were driving the wrong way, we drove up this atrocious hill and I was SO GLAD it wasn't part of my leg.

Plot twist!!

It WAS part of my leg!


And it was hot...

But my team was awesome and they stopped and gave me salt because I really needed it. and sweaty.

(Side note: I think the girl I played leap frog with for most of the run peed her pants. I didn't ask though, so I can't be sure. I am SO GLAD I have never had to make that choice OR had that choice made for me. I mention this, because I had to pee the entire run. I had planned on hitting the port-a-pottie before I started but we all know how that turned out.)

I managed to finish, not pee on myself AND hand off the slap bracelet successfully...So I'm totally a winner!

We even managed to locate ALL the remaining exchanges. Which was convenient because the last one was the finish line:)

#GRRLS Grab Back finished in 24 hours and 22 minutes! Even with losing about 45 minutes in missed exchanges!

First in the Women's Open Division!

Friday, July 07, 2017

Predictable Irationality - Book Review

I asked for this book as a birthday present, in the hopes that it would help me figure out why I keep making irrational decisions in my life. I had just ended a 14 year relationship (9 of it married) and felt like I kept running myself into the same stupid wall over and over again. Surprised each time that it was there. I want(ed) to know why I was making those decisions and how to stop the cycle.

It isn't really that kind of book.

Don't get me wrong, it's fascinating! The author has numerous studies to measure how people will react under different situations. He looks at what kinds of circumstances will allow people to rationalize cheating, stealing or how much they are willing to pay for a particular item.

How supply and demand isn't as clear cut as we like to think. We really just have to BELIEVE a thing is rare and we are willing pay as if the item is valuable. Diamonds aren't actually all that rare and we didn't even use them in engagement rings until the 40's. That was when an amazing marketing program convinced us that it was the only way to tell the world a couple really loved each other. The same with pearls. We were told, in just the right way that we should want them, so we do.

The cost of FREE...How if  we get something thrown in for free, we'll change our purchasing decisions in order to get that extra bit free, even if it's something we don't really want.

How we over value what we own. How OUR houses are better than our neighbors. How our junk is beautiful and we just know someone will want it like we did.

Things like whether or not your group orders food out loud will affect what each member orders AND how satisfied each person will be with their selection.

How we're all cheaters, but only to a certain extent...and how that extent changes radically if there is a direct link to cash. We're more honest when there is cash involved, but less honest if there is even one additional step between the cheating and the cash.

The ability to undermine ourselves with our unwillingness to close doors and lose options, even when we KNOW that those options aren't good for us and that by using a little focus we would maximize our gains and get ahead. But we don't, because we want options. 

It doesn't speak well for us as humans. Reading about how irrational and how predictable humans are, and how easily our decisions are affected is unsettling. We (I) like to think I make my own decisions and that I'm "different" and not easily swayed...but in all of the experiments that the authored featured I could see myself and how I would react...and I'm not special.

While it wasn't the book I thought it was, and I did really enjoy it. I think the fact that I keep reading the titles of books and just deciding what they're about regardless of what I read in the back "blerb" really tells me more about why I keep making the same mistakes in my life more than any single "self help" book could. The reality of that really doesn't match my self-identity at all.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When you know all the answers and still mess up...

Sometimes I just want to kick myself.

I had 17 miles to run this weekend and it was supposed to get up into the 90's but at 6am I was trying to bargain with myself that I would get up early tomorrow...but even laying in bed wishing for more sleep I knew I wouldn't get up early tomorrow. There is a reason all the fitness experts tell us to stick to a schedule.  

But it's not a secret that I hate mornings.
I can't believe this photo finally came in handy!
Or that I put it on the internet...

I once convinced my mother and sister Abby I had died in my sleep because I didn't want to wake up and get out of bed.

Seriously. I was so committed to convincing them I was asleep and they should leave me alone, that they decided the only reasonable answer was that I was dead.

True Story.
(One of the three seperate times Abby thought I was dead.)

Anyway, I decided that I wanted to sleep in rather than get up and beat the heat. I didn't get on the road until 8:30am. I knew better...but I did it anyway.
I KNOW how to run in the heat. I've already learned these lessons the hard way...but apparently  I needed to be reminded the hard way.

I didn't COMPLETELY forget my lessons.

I wore  my hat. I managed to remember sunblock. I dressed for the heat. I had my hydropack. I had fuel to eat and I even managed to charge my Garmin.

That's about as far as the successes went.
I made friends with this little snake!...That's a lie.
It hated me and was trying to get away from me while I took it's photo.

I was hot before I even ran 3 miles. I also managed to turn off my Garmin at some point and not realize it...4 separate times. I was familiar with my route though, so other than completely messing with my distance, and pace average it was fine...ish.

Let's just say it was a rough run.

My Chia bar was tasty though, so there's that.
It's Vegan! But not gross.

After sucking through 13 miles, I met up with my Saturday Group and plugged out another 5 miles...which didn't suck.
Running with friends ALWAYS makes things better.

I also made a little detour at the very end and picked up some popsicles for us. Popsicles AWALYS make things better:)