(Half) Marathon Reflection…Tuesday

I know there are days of silence going on right now.  I’m not really sure when the official one is (I’ve seen several), but I know I couldn’t bring myself to post for the last several days.  I am heartbroken over the events of last week.  I came home for lunch on Friday and I sat in front of CNN and cried, and I still can’t make it through a news story without getting a terrible feeling deep in my gut.  I don’t think anyone, myself included, will recover from this emotionally for a very long time.  My thoughts and prayers are, and have been, with the people of Newtown.

The family of one of the little girls just moved to Connecticut from an Albuquerque suburb recently and they were members at the gym that Aaron manages.  Emilie Parker used to go to the gym day care pretty often and a few of Aaron’s employees knew her pretty well.  According to the news, her favorite book was Charlotte’s Web, and she used to greet her kindergarten teacher here in New Mexico last year with a “salutations, teacher” every morning.

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This weekend I was looking at my calender, and I realized that, even though I’m doing two separate training cycles, I am 4 months out from Boston meaning I am officially in the marathon training time frame.  So soon?  Truthfully, right now the thought of 17 mile runs is slightly overwhelming. I was so excited to start training for my first marathon back in June, and even though I’ve forgotten the pain of the actual race (MARATHONS ARE FUN!), I remember vividly the lost weekends, miserable 800’s, and chaffing/bleeding/blistering.  Even now that I’m getting back into the 10-12 mile runs, I’m starting to get a slight feeling of dread as I lace up my shoes.

And this weekend’s 10 miler wasn’t my most inspired long run.  Turns out, if you spend the winter running on a nice flat treadmill in a climate controlled guest bedroom and then attempt to run up a mountain, your body rebels in grand fashion. On Saturday, we kept hoping that if we waiting a bit longer to head out, the temperature would rise.  It kind of did (36 degrees is warmer than 27 degrees)…  As much as I run, I haven’t invested in any long running pants, so I wore shorts and compression socks. Meanwhile I saw people walking dogs who looked prepared for a walk in Antarctica. I was ok, but I think that my legs took an extra long time to warm up, and they had that weird tingling and redness that comes from sweating and simultaneously freezing.

The uphill miles were SLOW and I didn’t quite get the exhilarating feeling of flying during the downhill miles either.  Our past few (flat coursed) long runs have been fast, and I’ve been able to get 7 miles in during the first hour.  On Saturday I barely got 6 in during the first hour.  Luckily, it wasn’t completely miserable, but it did serve as a good wake up call that I haven’t been keeping to my weekly goals and and apparently I’ve forgotten about those lessons learned the hard way during marathon training.

So, as a reminder to myself of what I said I would do at the beginning of the cycle, here’s what needs work for the next 5 weeks leading up to Operation Fast Half.

1) Train in harder conditions than you want to:  Neither RnRAZ or Boston are flat.  So why am I training on a flat surface? Hitting pace goals is nice, but that won’t help power me through Heartbreak Hill.

2) Weight lifting/muscle burning exercises: my muscles are tiring faster than they should.  And my shoulders keep tensing.  During marathon training I discovered that rows helped prevent shoulder tightness.  Yet I haven’t been doing them.

3) Yoga, stretching, and general injury prevention: My calves are tight every day.  Running on tight muscles without taking care of them is a sure way to get injured.  I also have been neglecting the foam roller.  I will say though, I don’t see myself icing any time soon.  Ice is cold.

4) Cross-training: This isn’t nearly as essential during half training because the mileage really isn’t enough to completely burn me out or really injure me from over-training, but I still want to be doing more spinning and swimming for overall fitness. I haven’t in a couple of weeks.

5) Core exercises: I haven’t been doing my daily core exercises.  Instead of feeling like a cohesive unit barreling through space while running, I feel like I’m flopping around like an octopus.  My body parts aren’t working together.  And my lower back has been aching more recently.

I’m less than 5 weeks out from what is supposed to be a strong fast half that will help me transition into “Don’t Be the Slowest Person at Boston” marathon training, and I need to start taking this seriously.

I think I started falling into the mindset that, hey, it’s the holidays, I can be lazy.  But I can’t.  (Sidenote: this new enthusiasm may be slightly prompted by the creation of my 10 year high school reunion facebook group.  I’ve never been very keen on actually going to my high school reunion, but I suddenly feel pressure to have some noteworthy accomplishments.  Like, maybe I haven’t climbed the corporate ladder or moved out of state after talking loudly about how much I hated New Mexico for the first 18 years of my life and the last 5 years after college, but I can run a fast marathon, gosh darn it!).

And really, I should be taking advantage of the fact that my long runs are only 10 miles and weekly mileage is between 20-35 miles because too soon I’ll be back to thinking 10 miles is any easy day (just kidding…I’ve NEVER thought that!).

On the Christmas front, I am now way behind on my gingerbread house.  I need it to be done by Saturday, but I have so much left to do.  I  may have to pull some all nighters here this week….

Hope everything on your Christmas to-do list is getting done! Only one more week to fit in as much Christmas as you can!

Winter is Different Than Summer

First, check out Hyedi’s blog for a running headband giveaway and Sarah’s blog for a basket full of Hawaiian goodness giveaway.  Although, if you don’t, then my odds of winning go up….

Obviously I have been through winters before.  And obviously I have seen a time change or 60 in my lifetime.  Yet I am sitting here shocked at how much different this time of year is than summer.

I even trained for this same half at this same time last year, but here I am like, “Oh! It’s Dark!” and “Oh! It’s Cold!”

So we’ve had to get creative with our workouts.

The track that we use isn’t lit.  It also is not made of that fancy newfangled track spongy stuff…it’s dirt.  And the last turn is washed out because it is in the middle of a gulch.  It doesn’t rain here just about ever, but erosion has occurred   So running on this track in the dark or without complete sunlight makes the sprinting aspect of the sprinting workout pretty impossible.

So, aside from dragging ourselves out of a warm bed (is this even a realistic option?) before work, we are doomed to the treadmill.

Fact: one of the busiest weekends at the gym is the week before Thanksgiving.

For some reason, I always feel really self conscious when sprinting on the gym treadmill.  It makes this really obnoxiously loud BOOM BOOM BOOM noise, generating annoyed stares from the people there to walk in peace.

On Tuesday we braved the BUSY gym and did a 5 minute warm-up, then sprinted for 1 minute/walked for 1 minute for a total of 20 minutes before our cool down.  I was hitting between 6/6:10 minute mile pace during the sprints.  I would like to be at about a 5:30 sprint pace by the end of this training cycle.

I do think that sprinting on the treadmill is easier than being in the real world, BUT the treadmill doesn’t let you slow down, and keeping up with the pace is essential if you don’t want to be launched back into the wall/the nice walker behind you.

We followed the sprint workout with plyometrics.  This isn’t something I’ve done too much of in the past, but according to coach Aaron, plyometrics increase your eccentric load (I THINK) giving you more of that explosive energy needed for speed.  Wikipedia says, “plyometric exercises use explosive, fast-acting movements to develop muscular power and to improve overall speed.”  Meanwhile, all the cross fit people are sitting there saying DUH.

We looked kinda like these people.

Basically, we ventured deep into the weight lifting area, and jumped onto a box and jumped off it.  All the meatheaded weight lifters were giving us weird looks (Why these people jump?  Jumping no give big muscle….I always give meatheaded weight lifters cave men accents).

In addition to more gym speed training, we’re having to cram in 3 weeks of “Amy doesn’t want to DNF in the indoor tri” training.

For the next few weeks, Wednesdays will be our Spin It To Win It day which is a fancy way of saying that I’m trying to  master the art of spin biking.  Yesterday was spin class #2 for the year and today I’m feeling the saddle soreness.  At least I think that’s what it’s called.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Spinning really works out muscles that I must not use very often because I was having a hard time sprinting up the imaginary muddy hills that the instructor kept leading us through.

There is work to be done here.

There is also work to be done on indoor tri logistics.  Aaron doesn’t seem to think that the transition area will include locker room access meaning no changing that requires privacy.  As a girl of ….um…a certain size I can’t really run without a sports bra.  An option I suppose is to wear a sports bra over a swim suit and remove as necessary (and deal with the fact that this will look completely ridiculous).  I’ve been trying to research swimsuits, but I haven’t found any yet with the support I need.  I haven’t looked into full tri suits (I kind of don’t want to buy something that I may only use once), but apparently they take the whole issue into consideration.

So, that’s where we’re at.  Today is more speed work, tomorrow is yoga, and this weekend is our long run and intense swimming crash course.

THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT on my indoor tri.  I feel silly for being so nervous about it especially since it really isn’t half as scary as an outdoor sprint.  We’ll see how it goes.

Happy Thursday! (Also, I wrote this REALLY fast today, so I didn’t edit.  I don’t even want to know how many mistakes you can find).

 

Oh…I Didn’t Think You Were Serious About that Green Shake Thing…

You THOUGHT I was kidding when I mentioned green shakes yesterday.

(I’m not going to lie…I was kind of hoping I was too, but nope).

Aaron has been reading ultra marathoner Scott Jurek”s book Eat and Run and has decided that we are going to start trying some of his crazy so-healthy-it’s-scary recipes.

He looks like he knows what he’s talking about…right?

So, he made a list on a billion little post it notes (we have far more appropriate list  making paper, but whatever) and we headed on what turned out to be a health food expedition to Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Smiths (our Kroger store).  This shopping trip took us a really long time because we had no idea where to find most of these things like miso (tip, not in the Asian food aisle).

I like chocolate chips! 

We also ran into my uncle at Whole Foods who I thought lived in Boulder, Co (?).  He and his wife (who are experimenting with true barefoot running) have been vegan for about 15 years.  He knew all about Scott Jurek’s book and I think he seemed pleased that we were picking up an entire bag of quinoa (I left out the cheesy enchiladas I ate for lunch yesterday).  And apparently he’s working here (living in my neighborhood) and flies home to Boulder ever weekend.  So that was an unexpected run-in.

Anyway, Scott Jurek uses a lot of weird stuff in his food.  What the heck is a aduki bean? And spirulina powder? I can’t say that it smells very good, although Giuseppe seems to dig it. A quick google search tells me it is green algae.  YUM.

We got a whole wheat grass garden! It comes like a chunk of sod. 

So, why am I subjecting myself to this?

Apparently it aids in weight loss, is an excellent source of protein (good for building muscles), boosts the immune system, and is an excellent source of nutrition for endurance runners.

I guess we’ll see.

If you too would like to have your algae boost in the morning, here is the recipe straight from Jurek:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh mango or pineapple chunks
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons spirulina powder
  • 1 teaspoon miso

Aaron also added in wheat grass.

In honor of Halloween, I have deemed this Green Monster Juice!

Bottom’s up! (For the record, it actually tastes pretty good).

Marathon Reflection Monday

Well, I have officially run my longest run ever!  Even though I will be saying this almost every week from now until mid-August, jumping over the half marathon distance hurdle made the whole full marathon thing seem a lot more real.

Saturday, I did a little happy dance as I hit 13.2, and I finished my 14 mile long run strong with my fastest split at the end! I was truly amazed at how fast the time went by, and how little it sucked.  Dare I say that I actually enjoyed it (helped that it was overcast and about 20 degrees cooler than last weekend).

I also ran all of my mile splits within my goal pace (I know, I know, stop with the long run pace splits already!), so I am really starting to trust the process.

I know everyone has been telling me from the beginning that things will start falling into place,  but I’m not even having to lie through my teeth this week and say that I understand, because I am actually starting to get it. 

I stumbled upon some articles about why we do long runs and what is happening in your body when you head out for longer distances.  You build new mitochondria and increase capillary density (both very good for marathon runners).  Your body is literally transforming into an endurance athlete during long runs  (Sorry, I know I’m late to the marathon research party).  I’m not running fast 5-K’s, and that is ok.  That isn’t the ultimate goal right now.  The ultimate goal is to dominate my marathon in 13 weeks, and I can suddenly feel that my body is up for the challenge.

It was a bit hard to swallow when I hit 2 miles and thought, hey only 12 more miles (12 is a lot of miles), and even harder when I realized that in a real marathon, I will be at mile 14 when I say that I only have 12 more miles (oh my goodness, that is crazy), but I was surprisingly completely ok when I hit mile 4 and said that I only had 10 more miles.  In what kind of alternate universe is my brain totally cool with “only 10 more miles?”

I DID get my first running induced blister on Saturday though.  I’m hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come.  I hate closed toed shoes, and I would be annoyed if I lost a toenail.  Is toenail loss inevitable, or is there a way to prevent this from happening?  These are the marathon questions I am most concerned about this week after learning all about mitochondria and capillaries.

{I think the little affirmation is nice and relevant, but why do they all have to have Miss Abs on them? You know she hasn’t eaten carbs in weeks and didn’t drink water for a day before the photo shoot.  It’s not like she looks like that because she did 10 burpees a day}

What Went Well:

1) Mental attitude: I’m starting to regain some of the confidence I’ve lost over the last month.  I had really starting questioning my goals and my abilities, and was starting to lose sight of a victorious finish.  This doesn’t make for a fun training process.  Having hope is an amazing feeling!

2) Cross training: I did elliptical, and made it a point to do weight lifting.  Also, doing that 30 day ab challenge (sort of…).

3) Still keeping up with all of my workouts!  Aaron got himself up to 3 miles on Sunday, so I’m hoping to have my running buddy back by Saturday’s (shorter) long run. But in the meantime, I’ve realized just how dependent I’ve been on Aaron to get me out the door and running these past 4 years.  Running by myself was kind of uncomfortable at first (Albuquerque isn’t exactly known for a low crime-rate), but turns out I can train for a marathon all by myself.  Obviously I want Aaron back in the game because I know he is disheartened, but I’m also actually pretty proud of myself for continuing to do this on my own.

4) Preventing injuries: We went to the magic Jedi chiropractor on Friday, and by realigning my hips, my leg/IT band/knee/calf felt much better.  For the first time in about a month, I can walk down stairs without feeling a little bit of tension.  I should have gone much sooner! Also, we doubled our ice pack supply, so I can now literally be icing every part of my legs post run.

What Needs Improvement:

1) Form: After analyzing some photos of me running the 5-K, I realized that I am twisting my upper body way too much (this uses up valuable energy while producing nothing in return).  I need to be more conscious of this. Doing the twist is fun, but not during a race!  Tracie wrote a fantastic post about this just days before I had to own up to my twistedness.

{Whoa, there shoulders.  Calm yourselves down!}

2) Getting back to eating better and drinking less: I took my chill pill attitude a little too seriously last week, and really just didn’t create any boundaries when it came to eating and drinking.  I should not be gaining weight when I’m running 30 miles a week, but I guess that’s what happens when you go through a 6 pack over the course of 4th of July.

3) SLEEP!!! Oh my goodness, go to bed already!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and productive week.  As much as I complained about having a day off in the middle of last week, I’m sad that it’ll be another 2 months before a mandated vacation.

Marathon Reflection Monday

One week down!

My plan is to designate Mondays as my weekly marathon report card in order to force myself into some self-reflection.   I hate self-reflection, by the way.

I will be recapping what I’ve done well and what I need to improve on, in what will hopefully become a log of what I’m doing to get myself to a 3:30 finish time.

Before my week 1 recap, I do want to start off with a quick clarification about my intentions in attempting a BQ time. I am not trying to qualify for Boston because I think it will be easy or because I think I’m some sort of amazing athlete who can conquer what many people spend years trying to do in my first try.  I am not an amazing athlete (shocking, I know), and I know the odds are not in my favor.

I want to do this because I want to be the best I can be.  I want to reach for the stars,  I don’t mind working hard to get there (let’s see how many cliches I can cram into one paragraph!). And I get to train at altitude, so if everything works out the way it should, running in the flat midwest should feel much easier.

I also know that if I go into this with an ambitious goal (and broadcast it for everyone on the internet to see), I will push myself waaaay harder than I would otherwise.  I know my performance will be better, 3:30 finish time or not.

{I would be so much less inspired without Pinterest}

So, how did this week go?

I am out of shape.  Our last run over 4 miles was over a month ago for Run for the Zoo.  The base is there, but it hasn’t been maintained.  It will probably take a couple of weeks just to get us back into half marathon shape.  We are a little behind were we wanted to be, but hopefully we will be able to make it up in coming weeks.

THINGS THAT WENT WELL:

Speed workouts: I feel like I pushed myself to about 85% of my max.

Passing on the french fries at lunch: I ate a side salad instead! It’s the little victories that help us get through the day!

Cutting down on booze during the week:  Unfortunately this did not carry onto Friday evening, the day before our long run.  Consider the lesson learned.

Recovery:  I’ve been keeping  a good pace for recovery runs, and rolling out every night.  We’ve also been doing good with recovery shakes and protein intake right after finishing workouts.

THINGS I NEED TO WORK ON:

Quitting Fried food: I only made two bad meal choices all week, but my goodness did I pay for them. If your stomach rebels when you eat it, it obviously isn’t meant to be eaten!

Getting back into shape:  This Saturday we had our first long run. It was only 7.5 miles, but it felt much harder.  I took the whole idea of easing myself back into things with a comfortable pace a little too seriously.  My pace was ridiculous.  I know the first couple of weeks will be getting back into the swing of things, but WOW, do I have a long way to go.

Hydration:  I live in a desert.  I feel like no matter how much water I drink, I can’t get properly hydrated.

Attitude: I hated every second of that long run on Saturday.  I need to work on motivating myself through the pain instead of giving into it.

So, for the next week my goals are:

1) Drink more water.

2) Have a 100% success rate with healthy meals (we’re also going to go more gluten free, so that should help limit our bad food options more).

3) Push myself harder during the long runs and let happy cheerleader Amy go crazy when it starts hurting. Would it be weird if I carried pom poms?

Thanks again for the continued support and motivation! This is going to be quite the interesting road to marathonhood, and this week reminded me that I have a long way to go.  But I’m still up for the challenge!

HAPPY MONDAY!

Sometimes We Conquer Mountains

First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of the words of encouragement yesterday! Have I mentioned recently how much I love you all? Because I really do. And thank you for not telling me that I’m crazy, even if you’re thinking it (trust me, I’m thinking it too).  You guys are amazing!

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So, as part of the whole, We’re Running a Marathon thing, we decided to do a kick-off by climbing a mountain (if you are singing Miley Cyrus right now, then my job here is done).  Also, while my knee wasn’t loving the idea of running this weekend, walking was fine, so naturally walking 8 miles with a 3,775 elevation gain seemed like a good idea!

Albuquerque has a  mountain chain called the Sandias that make up the eastern border of the city.  The La Luz trail will take you from the bottom to the top at a 12% grade incline.  I’ve climbed the trail before, and Aaron has done it many times, but we thought the whole idea of conquering a mountain seemed like a great way to jump into the 18 week marathon battle.  How awesomely symbolic are we?

We got our start at 7 a.m. at the same time as a friendly group of Canadians.  Every person on the trail at that point was running up.  I wanted to start running with them (I was totally worried about being judged as a non-runner…THE HORROR) but my knee and my fear of aggravating it further told me to keep walking.  I was impressed that so many people were starting their Sunday with a nice trail run.

La Luz starts out as a desert climate.  My incentive to walk faster was knowing that the higher we got, the less likely we were to encounter rattlesnakes!  I HATE rattlesnakes!

 {looking up to our destination}

At about mile 5, the dirt trail converts to a boulder field.  You are essentially hiking over a rock slide that happened possibly 1000 years ago! The whole thing feels a little unstable, like, yes, those rocks have been there for hundreds of years, but it isn’t like they are attached to anything.

The trail ends as a forest with wildflowers, large pine trees, and ferns replacing cacti and yucca and a magnificent view of the city and beyond.

While I wouldn’t classify this trail as a very hard climb, it is a wonderful reminder that 1) we are small compared to the vastness of the world and 2) we are not invincible.  One rock slide or one trip over the edge, and you’re done for.  Yet overcoming that fear and living life “on the edge” will be well worth the effort (symbolism AND metaphors? I’m on a roll!).

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t offer a prayer of thanks for my legs and their ability to walk, run, and to climb.  Our bodies are such powerful tools, and I am blessed to have complete freedom to use mine without limitations.  I am thankful for every step I took up that mountain.

Almost 4 hours and nearly 8 miles later, we reached the top, triumphant, and actually not all that worn out. We celebrated with our pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beers that Aaron carried up the mountain for us! There is a restaurant at the top, but it was a Sunday, and you can’t purchase alcohol before noon in New Mexico on Sundays.  So we provided our own mountaintop party.

Instead of climbing back down 8 miles, we took the Tram (Formally the world’s longest) down the mountain in a trip that took less than 20 minutes to cover what took us almost 4 hours.  (It is of note to mention that if you opt to do this, you have to pre-park a car at the base of the tram, then drive a second one to the base of the trail.  They are about 2 miles apart).

We conquered the mountain like we hope to conquer marathon training!  And, as an added bonus, after the hike, my knee actually felt better!

Short, Unrelated Thoughts, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Weekly Race Shout-Outs.

Erika is crossing the crazy looking Coronado Bridge in her Bay Bridge race.  Don’t look down!

It seems like after a couple of race crazy weeks, things have slowed down, unless I’m just completely overlooking people?  Good luck if you’re running!

It also seems like blogging activity has gone down, not just for me, but for everyone.  I know I’m having a hard time focusing long enough to sit down and bust one out.  The problem with having a running blog? When you aren’t doing anything exciting run-wise, what on earth do you have to talk about?  I’ve already determined through the Have Fun Everyday Challenge that I’m the most boring person alive.  I did accidentally make my coffee too strong this morning, but that hardly seems blog worthy, though it may explain the erratic nature of the following paragraphs?

Danielle even tried to help by providing a prompt to talk about my 7 favorite things of the moment (which I WILL finish, I promise, Danielle!), but my current lack of motivation to write something interesting is only rivaled by my lack of motivation to do dishes.  I’d rather clean toilets than wash dishes.  YUCK.

Also, notice how I write a blog post about not having anything to blog about.  CLEVER!

I also realized this afternoon that my head was in some weirdo bubble on Tuesday when writing my Run for the Zoo race recap.  I was thinking my half marathon time on Sunday was a full 20 seconds faster than my miserable race two weeks ago.  Turns out it was only SIX SECONDS faster.  Even bigger bummer. But, I am going to stop whining about it because 1) I think I’m getting annoying and 2) it’s not like I trained for it.  I need to get over my belief that I can have the same result whether I train or not, because it just doesn’t work that way!

I have run exactly 1 mile since Sunday plus some sprints yesterday (my little tiny Giuseppe pretty much left me in the dust).  I’m trying to fully enjoy 3 weeks of not having to run before the craziness starts in a few weeks.  I am however being subjected to evil Aaron boot camp torture again.  We just acquired some new weights.  No, I can’t pick up the big ones in case you’re wondering.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that the ability to run 13.1 miles is not a  guarantee that you can do 15 jack-knifes in a row.  Those suckers are rough.

In other news, Sunday is Mother’s Day (hoping that this isn’t a surprise to anyone).

Both Aaron and I are blessed to have wonderful, loving, strong mothers who have dedicated their lives to making us successful people.

{My grandma, my mom, and me at my college graduation 5 years ago.  One of my most favorite pictures ever}

We’re also lucky to have both moms in town, so Sunday will be a full day of mom-spoiling.

Friend Amity is celebrating her first Mother’s Day with her two-week old little girl, and friend Katie is crazy close to delivering her little girl.  Happy First Mother’s Day, Ladies!

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the other hot mamas out there including some of my favorite blog friends: Erika, Adri, Laura, and Martha.  I hope you are all sufficiently spoiled this weekend! Also, Martha recently wrote a wonderful Mother’s Day article featured in Genius Moms!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

The Little Massage RangeRoller That Could

FIRST: I want to wish lots of luck to Erika from You Just Did What?! who is running the SoCal Ragnar Relay this weekend.  She’ll be running from Hunington Beach to Coronado Beach (as part of a relay team) over the course of 24 hours.  I’m sending happy thoughts for her not to fall asleep in the middle of the road!

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You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I won the #runchat giveaway, and my prize was a Medi-Dyne RangeRoller (at first, I thought I won a Range Rover and I was REALLY excited!).

After some pleasant email exchanges with Lara from Medi-Dyne, my RangeRoller came in the mail a few days ago.  As I suspected, the RangeRoller is a deep tissue massage stick

Before I get into a review, I want to emphasize how incredibly important products like these are for runners, cyclists, endurance athletes, cross-fitters, etc.

In addition to causing discomfort, tight muscles can create a whole array of other problems.  For example, Plantar Fasciitis (my biggest running injury fear aside from collapsing inches away from the finish line)  is sometimes caused by having tight calf muscles that pull on the bones in your foot.  The PlanFas will keep you away from running for a year, which is really not cool.

So, in order to stay healthy, muscles need to be loose and flexible.  Aside from professional massage therapists, using tools like foam rollers and massage sticks is a great way to make sure that you stay injury (and discomfort) free!

Personally, I’m not a fan of foam rollers.  They are big and cumbersome, they don’t really give me the pressure I want, and they aren’t very flexible.

The Lavenders use both the extra long version of The Stick, and The Stick fascia ball.

{The Sticks}

 

The Medi-Dyne RangeRoller is a similar item.  It’s a massage stick designed to loosen muscles and prevent injuries.   As far as I can tell, if you use either, you will get the same benefits, however the RangeRoller has some neat features.

(For this giveaway, I chose the Original 19 inch RangeRoller).

Things I love about the RangeRoller:

1) You can choose the color combination of your “bead things” (do they have a real name?). This is kind of a selling point for me. I was beyond excited when Lara asked me what color combination I wanted! I chose periwinkle, but there are multiple options.

2)  The multi-dimensional “bead things”.  The 3-D beads dig deeper in the muscle making me wither in pain (from what I understand, this means the roller is working). It looks as if this is the signature feature of Medi-Dyne.  It really does feel like it is hitting spots that I haven’t been able to reach before. 

3) The comfort grip handles.  They are perfect for my tiny hands, and the grip is easy to grasp and comfortable to hold.

4) Price. My RangeRoller retails at a very reasonable $24.99.  (The Stick is more expensive, FYI).

5) The 19 inch Original stick (the one I got) is perfect for travel.  They also have a Pro (firmer for deeper massage), and an XL model giving you lots of options.  I will say that I’d be a little scared to try the Pro model since the Original gets pretty deep.

Things I like about Medi-Dyne

1) Their customer service and social media presence.  Obviously I didn’t have the typical customer experience (I don’t think Lara will email everyone back and forth about color combinations), but I feel like the company is very accessible if I ever had any problems or questions.  They encourage customer feedback and interaction.

6) The range of products.  Seriously, wherever you hurt they have something for you.

7) Their website: it is super easy to navigate and ridiculously informative. You can check it out at www.medi-dyne.com.

Constructive Criticism

I always, no matter what try to provide feedback (comes from those days in school where you had to do three compliments and a constructive critisism for peer evaulations).  And really, I’m good at finding things to improve on, even in the most seemingly perfect situations.  Just ask my husband.

I don’t have anything bad to say about the RangeRoller or my experience with Medi-Dyne. The only thing I can think of is that the craftsmanship isn’t quite as good as The Stick, but it works just as well, so this doesn’t bother me at all. 

Truthfully, I think the RangeRoller is a great product.  It does what it needs to do.  I think what differentiates it in my mind is the attention to detail.  Does the periwinkle/white color combination make my muscles more flexible? No.  But it adds a nice touch, and it makes me feel like my needs for a bright colorful things are taken seriously by the company.

I absolutely recommend the RangeRoller, and encourage getting yourself a massage stick if you do any type of exercise and don’t want to get injured.  In the three days I’ve been using it, my legs have felt great, and I feel ready to tackle my half marathon this weekend.  You don’t get to Boston by not taking care of yourself!

{Our massage Stick Roller Family}

(Obvious statement: While my RangeRoller was awarded to me free of charge with the understanding that I would provide my feedback, I was not compensated for, or even asked to do my blog review.  There is currently not a nice Medi-Dyne staff person holding a water gun to my head, making me write favorable things about them.  My views are my own, and I can’t be bought!…usually…).

Also, Lara asked if I could send some pictures of the RangeRoller in action.  I have a feeling this isn’t what they meant… Nice ankle sock tan!

The Carb Cycle Weight Loss Secret That Isn’t So Secret

(My Wordpress “Reader” isn’t working.  I usually opt out of email notifications because of the Reader, but I am probably missing people’s posts left and right, so I apologize.  I promise I’m not ignoring people on purpose!  Does anyone know how I fix this? It was literally working until Sunday…UPDATE: I downloaded Google Chrome.  Problem fixed!). 

So, I know everyone is over it already, how crazy was Boston?

I was at work during the race, so I couldn’t watch it (thank goodness for twitter peeps giving me the play by play), but I was tracking a few people as they ran along. Knowing how fast these superstars run normally, it was quite obvious that everyone was running “smart.”  I’m guessing most Boston Marathoners never thought they’d run a marathon that slow.  I kept watching in relief as another split was updated, because that meant that people hadn’t passed out along the course.   A couple of runners gave me a scare between the 35k and 40k mark, but everyone I was tracking finished!

Only 427 people deferred to next year.  After all of the training and traveling, it would take a lot for me to give up the opportunity.

All of the excitement also kind of made me sad that my marathon falls just weeks after the 2013 qualifying deadline, so the most I can hope for is a chance to participate in the 2014 race, two years from now.  Looks like I’m not having babies anytime soon!

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Right now I’m on my “taper” for my half marathon.  Because I’m not working out too much this week (and seriously, pollen, you are kicking my butt big time), I’m doing a carb cycle.

And I don’t mean cycling through different donut choices throughout the day.  Mmmmm….donuts!

I was first introduced to the concept about a year and a half ago through a weight loss/fitness challenge that we participated in through the gym Aaron works for.

(FOR THE LOVE OF GUMDROPS please realize that I am not even close to a registered dietician.  Aaron, though very well-educated in nutrition, is also not a registered dietician.  Though we’ve researched this, and I’ve done it myself, we are not qualified to give out nutritional advice.  I know you all obviously understand this, and really, I don’t think most little bloggers get sued by people over diet posts, but who knows? Please don’t sue me!).

I think everyone pretty much knows by now that carbs transform into fat on your body when you don’t exert enough energy.  Unfortunately just about everything tasty in life is a carb (very cruel world we live in).  But, it makes sense that if you want to lose fat fast, you reduce your carb intake.

For just about any normal person, giving up carbs altogether is next to impossible because they are so good and they give you energy, hence the whole “carb load” that I love so much.

So, in comes the carb cycle.

Benefits:

1) You can lose weight fast.  I usually lose about 7 pounds in a 2 week period.

2) Because you are still eating protein, the pounds you are losing are fat opposed to muscle (your body breaks down muscle faster than fat for energy, so a lot of times rapid weight loss only means rapid muscle loss.  And losing muscle is bad, unless you like heart attacks and osteoporosis).

3) As long as you don’t go crazy right after, you can keep off the pounds for a while.  I do this maybe 2 times a year and eat pretty liberally the rest of the time.  As long as I keep my workouts consistent and don’t eat fast food every day, I can maintain it until major holidays come along.

4) You aren’t completely depriving yourself.  Every 4 days you get to eat like a normal person!

Drawbacks:

1) This isn’t a permanent solution.  Your body will drop pounds fast, but then it realizes what you are doing, and the weight loss gets less and less drastic. A healthy diet and exercise program is the only way to get longterm results.

2) By the 3rd day, you will be grumpy, tired, and hungry.  The very thought of a slice of pizza can cause you to go over the edge.  And that annoying coworker will literally drive you to the point of considering throwing them out the window, and then stealing their bagel.

3) As most of you are runners, this isn’t something that combines well with training.  Early on in taper weeks, sure.  The rest of the time, running and carb cycling makes you want to die.

So, the way I do it is on a 3 day cycle.  I typically eat 5 “meals” per day: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.  The first three days of the cycle are “Low Carb” days.  For the first 2 meals, I eat 20 grams of carbs.  Then, that’s it.  No carbs until the next morning.

The 4th day, the “High  Carb” day, you can eat carbs with every meal (but still, not too many…30-40 grams per meal).  This “high carb” day helps prevent the binge that comes with deprivation.  It helps renew your energy, and it gives you an end point to the three days of suffering.

Then, on day 5, you go back to Low Carb. I’m only doing one round this week so I can start carb loading tomorrow for the race, but I’ve done it for up to 2 weeks.

I try to make sure I have plenty of protein and fiber in my diet during carb cycle days.

Sample Day of Meals:

Breakfast: Plain oatmeal w/ protein powder mixed in

Snack: Yogurt (Greek yogurt has more protein in it)

Lunch: Meat (chicken breast or sliced turkey), mozzarella cheese, carrots, handful of nuts

Snack: String cheese

Dinner: Either grilled chicken breast or grilled fish, asparagus, salad w/ vinaigrette dressing

For me, after the first 3 days I drop about 3 pounds.   I try not to weigh myself because the fluctuation is pretty drastic.  I get addicted to dropping 1.5 pounds a day and disappointed when I only lose .2 pounds, and then I get tempted to cut food intake even more, which is dangerous.  I prefer to actually go by how I look and how I feel.  Right now I’m 2 days in, and I can feel the belly bloat going down. I also am starting to see a faint hint of my Jamaica abs peaking through!

Super blogger celebrity Monica  from Run Eat Repeat did a post recently about carb cycling (like me, she has thyroid issues and her body can’t regulate her metabolism on its own without synthetic hormones.  Her diagnosis is much more recent than mine, so she still is trying to get that all under control.  From experience, I know that physically not having control over your weight is frustrating).  Her post has a lot of links to other great resources on carb cycling.

In my opinion, this is a much healthier and more reasonable way to lose some unwanted fat rather quickly.  You are still getting the nutrients your body needs, you aren’t reducing calories, you aren’t working out for unhealthy amounts of time, but you are limiting those foods (like soda, white bread, pasta, potatoes) that aren’t good for you and that make you gain weight.

Hopefully this is helpful!  Have you ever tried limited carbs?  Has it worked for you? Have you ever wanted to punch someone as a result, or is that just me?

I Want My Old Metabolism Back

Sometimes having a personal trainer as a husband is cool.  I get neat equipment samples for our house and no end to fitness tips and new exercises to try.

But…sometimes, having a personal trainer as a husband is not as cool.

Like when I write a blog post about how I want to lose 7 pounds in one month.

Then I get text messages like the following:

“I saw your blog. Do I need to boot camp train you into shape?

-Also, no more cookies.

-Or cupcakes.”

Typically, Aaron leaves his gym persona at the gym.  We do run, and he’s helped a lot with that, but any other strength or core training is usually on my own.  And that’s a good thing (and also probably why I don’t look like Gisele).  Among our old workout group friends, he is known as Dr. Evil.  I’d rather not encounter Dr. Evil in my living room, stealing my cookies out of my hands while making me do push-ups.

But, his excitement for torture was pretty apparent this time around.

Boot camp officially started on Tuesday (it was supposed to start on Monday, but, oops).  I have lost half a pound already….which means I have 6.5 more pounds to go in the next 25 days.  Doable? Maybe.  I was hoping to lose 1-2 pounds per week, and I’m already behind.  This really makes me miss Amy’s 18 year old metabolism.

Team Beach Body

We’ve been sticking with our regular running workouts.  But, now that I run so much, my body is becoming pretty efficient at it, and I’m not getting the same calorie burn that I used to.  In addition to eating protein and veggies for dinner as opposed to less healthy options, we’re also having to incorporate a lot of exercises that we haven’t been doing, and switching them up everyday to get the body shock factor.

One of the first things we did was Aaron’s Deck of Cards workout, a.k.a. how to hate squats in 40 minutes or less.

Each suit represents a different exercise (squat jumps, push-ups, lunges, sprinter sit-ups).  The number on the card represents the number that you do.  Face cards equal cardio type exercises like mountain climbers, groiners (yup, real exercise), squat jumps, and burpees (20 each).  Aces equal 1 minute planks.

This keeps your heart rate up while getting in some tried and true muscle building exercises.  Plus, you never know which card is getting picked, so it makes it more…well, fun isn’t the word.  Interesting?

The whole deck takes about 40 minutes.  It was the most unfun 40 minutes I’ve had in a while.  20 burpees after 20 squat jumps followed by 10 lunges hurts even more the next day.

{EVIL cards}

At times like these I feel like just not eating for 5 days would be easier.

ON THAT NOTE:

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend! I hope the Easter bunny brings lots of chocolate!