Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gobie Water Bottle

I would like to preface this post with an important disclaimer - I did not pay for this bottle, I actually won it at a Girls on the Run Coaches Appreciation Event.  But I wanted to share about it because I love it!

Here's the bottle.  Very simple looking.  One downside - it only holds 22 ounces of water, which means you have to refill it on a frequent basis.  The neat thing about this bottle is that it has a filter!  When I won the bottle, it actually came with three replacement filters.  The company recommends that you swap out the filter every 3 months or every 100 gallons.  Since I'm not OCD about water drinking, and have no idea how much water I really drink everyday, I think I'll stick to the every three month replacement schedule.  

Here's why I love it: I work at Camp Pendleton and the water there is iffy at best.  They keep coming out with studies about the water on base and warning us not to drink it...but they don't provide anyone with filtered water, so we have to pay for it.  This means that now I can feel safe about drinking water right out of the faucet!  The water tastes great from the Gobie bottle!  

If anyone is looking to buy a new bottle, I'd definitely recommend this one!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

So Many Medals...What to do?

If you are anything like us, you love to participate in race events!  You get that shiny medal when you cross the finish line and then come home and toss it in the drawer.  If you are really fancy (like Jen) and you have an awesome husband (like Jen), maybe you have a really cool plaque with hooks to display all of your hardware!  However, if you're like me...they just end up in the drawer.

Some of the medals are really neat though, and I want to be able to display them in a neat way.  I LOVE arts and crafts, so I hit up the wonderful worldwide web to find some ideas and I stumbled across an idea to make magnets!  It was a really neat (and super easy) way to display race medals in a USEFUL way!  Here's how I did it:

Step 1: Find some magnetic sheets that preferably has one side with adhesive.  I found these at Joann Fabrics.

Step 2: Remove the ribbon used to hang it around your neck - you won't need this.

Step 3: Peel off the adhesive protector sheet.

Step 4: Place medal carefully onto the magnetic sheet - if the medal is really heavy, I recommend using extra glue to reinforce the adhesive.

Step 5: Trim off excess magnetic sheet around the medal.  If the medal is a standard circle or square, this can be done with scissors.  If not, then you might need a crafting blade and a firm surface to cut on.

Step 6: Proudly display your medals on the fridge!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

San Diego 50 Mile Trail Run

So, we've been taking a long break from the blogging world, but what better way to come back than to do a race recap of the San Diego 50-Miler!  Warning...there will be a ton of pictures!

About a month ago, I got an e-mail from Paul Jesse, the race director for Off Road Pursuits, telling me about the upcoming San Diego 50-mile trail run.  I sent a quick e-mail to my tri coach, Mike Plumb (from TriPower) and asked whether he thought it was a good idea to sign up.  I've run a few ultras in the past and I knew what to expect and he told me to go for it!  I went ahead and registered for the 19 January run.

Unfortunately I did not get in nearly the amount of training that I needed to, but I thought, "What the heck, I can do this!"  At 0315 on Saturday, I woke up, packed up my stuff and my friend Scott and I hit the road down to San Diego, about a 40-minute drive away.  It was cold and dark and I had opted for the early start.  The race actually started at 0630, but the race director was awesome and offered a 0530 start for anyone that was interested!  It was a great idea for anyone who might risk not making the 14-hour cutoff time (which happened to be me!).

The race crew did a phenomenal job of marking the course and stocking the aid stations every five miles.  I only got lost once!  Luckily that only added an extra half mile to the run!  The volunteers were FANTASTIC and their motivation and high spirits (as well as delicious treats) made the run possible.  But without a doubt, there's absolutely no way I would have finished without my friend Scott, who was there to meet me at every aid station and give me the motivation I needed to make it through to the end!

Early in the race at mile 10 I had to dump out the sand in my shoes...next time I'm getting some of those things that cover your shoes and keep the junk out!
Heading up to the 15-mile aid station (off to the far right is another runner, Paul.  We kept each other company periodically throughout the race.
The weather warmed up and it was time to strip off some extra layers!
Heading up to the 20-mile aid station and feeling great!
Miles 20-30 were by far the toughest terrain I had to cover.  It was nice to get back to the 30 mile aid station and head out to an "easier" part of the course!  Or so I thought...
This is me coming up to the 35-mile aid station...feeling mighty broken and downtrodden.  This is when my severe lack of training really hit me!  
A quick refuel and I was feeling much better!
Between miles 35 and 40 I had an opportunity to chat with another runner, John, which helped make the time go by a lot faster!
This would be the last aid station I'd get to see Scott before heading out, so I spent a lot of time getting a pep talk and eating!!!
The snacks were fantastic!  This aid station even had "sushi" made of rice crispy treats, fruit roll-ups, and gummies!
A mouthful of food!!!
The pep talk really motivated me and got a smile on my face - only 10 miles to go!
My "victory" pose!
Heading out on the last 10 mile stretch.  I knew it was going to get dark, so I picked up my long-sleeved shirt and my headlamp.
So happy to be closing in on the end of the race!!!
And it's all over!!!  I made it in the cutoff time (just barely), finishing in 13 hours and 39 minutes!  

Overall, the race was fantastic, from the crew to the race course to the volunteers to the near-perfect weather, I had a wonderful time.  The majority of the credit goes to Scott though, having someone there  at every aid station to motivate me made a huge difference.  There are very few people in this world that will spend an entire day supporting an ultra, and I'm so grateful that he was there to help me out.  Unfortunately, I was too tired at the end to get a picture with him!  

So, 48 hours post race, I'm feeling pretty good overall.  I did have to head to the ER last night because my right foot is really bothering me.  It started at mile 35 and it was a gradual onset, not because I lost my footing, so I was worried it might be something serious.  No obvious fracture on the x-rays, but they put me on some crutches for a few days and I'm just icing it up and resting.  

On another positive note, I only fell ONCE during the entire race.  For anyone that's followed us for very long, you know that I can be fairly clumsy.  I tripped and ate dirt right before the 10-mile aid station, but that was my one and only face plant!  Go me!  

Off Road Pursuits puts on some fantastic events and Paul Jesse is an awesome race director.  I will most definitely head back out on one of their races before I have to leave San Diego!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Elfin Forest

Not sure if I've written about Elfin Forest on this blog before or not, but it's truly a hidden treasure here in SoCal!  A few weeks ago, I ventured out on a beautiful Saturday morning to hike up the "Way Up Trail."  The weather was absolutely perfect and the views were fantastic.  

I love hiking because you get such a great workout, but you don't realize how tired you are because the scenery is so beautiful.  There were lots of folks out enjoying the perfect weather!  Not a ton to write about, but lots of pictures to show!

Where's your favorite hiking spot?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Spartan Beast NorCal

Last weekend I ventured up to Sacramento to run the Spartan Beast NorCal.  It was definitely a spur of the moment race.  One of the guys I work with had signed up and wanted someone to run it with him.  I checked out the race website and decided it would definitely be something up my alley!  13.something miles and a ton of mud later, I'm glad I decided to sign up.

The volunteers were amazing!  It was cold and rainy on Saturday, but they all showed up ready to help ensure the race ran smoothly.  We arrived early for our 0830 start time and stood around shivering waiting to start.  Originally, both of us had planned to run with Camelbak packs because we thought we might need our own water and food.  After some thought, we both opted out of that and decided to just hope that the water stations would do the trick!  I'm so glad that we did because navigating the barbed wire obstacles would have been awful with a pack on!

The course was laid out on pasture lands at the Van Vleck ranch.  Lots of hills and mud!  There were balancing obstacles, rope climbs, monkey bars, cargo nets, barbed wire obstacles, and some other crazy stuff!  We had to tie a rubber band around our ankles and hop up and down a hill.  We had to drag a cinder block hooked to a chain up and down a hill.  And all of it was a ton of fun!

For anyone looking for something a little different from the standard half marathon or trail race, Spartan Races are for you!  They do a fantastic job running these events.  Aside from how cold it was, I thought the race was awesome.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Joys of Coaching

Ok, so let me start off with the fact that I'm not talking about joys I get out of coaching...I'm not the least bit qualified to coach anyone when it comes to triathlons!!!  However, what I am talking about is how ecstatic I am about having signed up with Mike Plumb from TriPower.  I was a bit hesitant at first to spend any money on a coach, because in theory I should be able to use all of the available resources on the internet to find great training schedules.  However, that rapidly became overwhelming.  

I went ahead and decided to try it out for a few months and see how it went.  It's only been about a month, but I can already tell that I love it!  Mike e-mails me my workout schedules on Sunday.  It includes everything I'm supposed to do each day of the week, to include the swim workouts.  I've never actually done a real swim workout.  I just go to the pool, hop in, and do laps until I'm tired.  Now I have guidelines for how to push myself in the water.

Additionally, I have unlimited e-mail contact with him and can ask him as many questions as I want.  He has us log into Beginner Triathlete to log our training on a daily basis.  This helps him tailor our weekly schedules.

So, I'm not sure I can effectively say what kind of difference this will have in my race performance, but I do know that I'm super excited to be training with a purpose.  To have someone with years and years of knowledge help me prepare to move up in race distance and to improve myself!  

Friday, November 2, 2012

MCM Recap

Last year, one of my fellow Stroller Warriors decided to run the Marine Corps Marathon just a few weeks before the event. (One of our other members was planning to do it, but sadly sustained an injury leaving a free bib.) We all logged on to watch her 10k updates as they posted, constantly streaming comments on our SW Facebook page, I started to get the itch. Yes, I have done two previous marathons, but that was before I ever liked running.

So with high hopes and a stomach full of nerves, I sat down at my computer moments before the event registration opened and managed to secure one of the slots that sold out in 2 hours and 41 minutes! That brought on the mad search for the "right" training plan. I ended up with a mix of a couple plans that my dear husband helped me figure out.

I briefly wrote recaps of my training weeks, but then we packed away our computer and embarked on our third move as a married couple, my 15th since 1998! We lived with my in-laws for nearly 6 weeks and then finally moved into our rented house in Mt Vernon. Those first 6 weeks were a blessing for my training. I ran stroller-free most days and had the company of my husband who had also decided to run. Unfortunately, those weeks were plagued with PF, a sore right hamstring, and several runs that left me thinking, "What on earth have I signed up for?!"

I had not printed out my training plan and couldn't access the computer until post-marathon, so my training was scattered at best. My focus was getting the house unpacked and livable for the Weasel, and while I did manage to get a few longer runs in, I wasn't feeling super confident. I originally started out with a goal of sub-4. I quickly changed that to just finishing the race.

On Saturday morning, Grandpa came and picked up Weasel (she was spending the night with them so we wouldn't have to get a sitter on Sunday) and left us to relax. Sunday morning arrived and we woke at 4:40. That gave us enough time to eat breakfast and for Jason to down some coffee. We hopped on the Metro and rode to King Street where we met a friend. Neither of us carried anything we couldn't run with because we wanted to avoid the chaos of the bag drop at the end. (Hence the lack of photos in this post!)

After catching up with LOTS of my Stroller Warrior buddies, we made our way to the 4 hour corral and got ready for the canon to sound. We crossed the start line just 3 minutes after the bang and quickly found our stride. It was Jason, me and our friend, Pat. The first few miles were crowded with spectators cheering loudly.

Mile 1 - 9:24
Mile 2 - 9:25
Mile 3 - 9:00
Mile 4 - 8:50
Mile 5 - 9:15

There were a few hills that were challenging but not terrible and we made our way into Georgetown which offered a huge downhill! The main road was packed and there were so many people cheering! At that point, Jason said, "Hey Jen, do we know anyone up here in Georgetown?" As he said it, we saw our friend, Sean Cox (in uniform as he was working the race) and that was quite a pick me up!

Mile 6 - 8:37
Mile 7 - 9:04
Mile 8 - 8:54
Mile 9 - 8:58
Mile 10 - 8:33
Mile 11 - 9:11

We cruised just ahead of the 4 mile pacer and I was running quietly, but still feeling ok. Jason was great as he occasionally asked how I was doing and if I needed anything. Then we came to Hains Point (the dreaded part of the MCM course regardless of what year you're running). It's mostly free of spectators and often produces winds due to the fact that it's surrounded by the waters of the Potomac. The first 1/2 mile of it was lined with large pictures and names of soldiers, sailors, and Marines who have been killed since OIF and OEF started. That gave me the motivation to keep running. But I was starting to hurt.

Mile 12 - 9:01
Mile 13 - 9:05
Mile 14 - 9:49
Mile 15 - 9:52

Around mile 14, I could feel my pinkie toenail on my right foot throbbing. I had issues with the nail earlier in my training and figured it was probably working its way off my toe! I just kept running. As we left Hains Point, I started taking brief walking breaks. I stretched a couple times too. Jason would run ahead and get cups of water and Gatorade for both of us, bringing mine to me so I didn't have to alter my path. BEST HUSBAND EVER! He was looking good and could have finished well before me, but said, "We started this thing together and we will finish TOGETHER!"

Mile 16 - 10:16
Mile 17 - 10:38
Mile 18 - 10:56
Mile 19 - 10:29
Mile 20 - 11:34

As we turned into Arlington, we ran by places we used to walk to from our first apartment as a married couple. It was full of cheering people and even though I still stopped to walk a few times, I was feeling better.

Mile 21 - 10:18
Mile 22 - 11:46
Mile 23 - 11:24
Mile 24 - 11:14
Mile 25 - 11:56

You can see just how much our pace had slowed by this point. My legs felt like lead and even though I knew I was running, it felt like I was being sucked backward. I should mention that the weather was phenomenal! Those winds and rain predicted for the day had held off and it was truly spectacular running weather. We ran that last mile and then made the left turn to run up the final hill to the Iwo Jima Memorial (Marine Corps War Memorial). It felt amazing. We were 25 minutes off my original goal, but I couldn't have cared less.

Mile 26 - 11:44

We ran around people who were walking that final hill, linked hands and crossed the finish line at 4:24. Most people would look at these splits and say we went out too fast. I disagree. The first half of the race was awesome. If I had run any slower, the pain in my legs and my little toe would have just come along at an earlier mile marker. I was happy with our race.

We made it home about 2 hours after finishing the race and I finally took off my shoe. My pinkie toenail hadn't come off, but the enter toe was one big blister! I wish I had pictures to share with you from this race, but I'll always have the memories of a successful challenge completed with my best friend at my side.

As for my future in running? Who knows! I will not be signing up for any more full marathons, but I definitely see a few half marathons in my future. I'll probably stick to 5ks and 10ks for a while though:)