Girl on the Run: May 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time To Regroup and Move Forward

Well last week marked the official end of "half marathon" season for me. I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and although the race wasn't what quite what I had hoped for...I pulled through and managed. Thank you all so much for your kind words and really does mean a lot to me.

As much as I would love a "redo", it's time to move up and onward - I have a marathon to train for! If I counted correctly, the 18-week training window starts right after July 4th. Which is nice, because it gives me some time to take it a bit easy this week - I can't believe how much a "bad" race can take it out of you! I'm still pretty tired, my legs feel a bit heavy, and my right knee was a bit swollen last night, and is a bit stiff today.  I don't think it's anything that a few days of  good icing and foam rolling won't take care of...but if it continues to bother me, I'll head straight to the PT office. Much better to nip an injury in the bud before it becomes a major problem.

Since I went to the Hartford Marathon Foundation's open house a few weeks ago - I've been thinking about joining up with their marathon training group. I emailed the coordinator to see if she would send me over a copy of their long run schedule - and the beginner plan calls for two 16 mile runs, two 18s, one 17, and two 20s. And since their marathon is on October 16th, that still gives me time to do one more cycle on my own. The only downside is that the group meets at 6:30 am - eek! that is early. But I think the early alarms will be worth it to beat the heat and have some training buddies.

Do you have a race this fall you are targeting? What's your plan of attack for the summer?

PS - Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the giveaway I had alluded to earlier in the week - it's coming, I promise! Make sure you are "following" me so you can be included. Stayed tuned!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

You Know What They Say About the Best Laid Plans...My Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap

I've been running strong for months.  I've been averaging 25-30 miles/week, been pretty diligent about my speedwork, and ran multiple 10 and 12 milers for my long run.  I ran a few short races, and maintained sub 9-minute miles at both.  I was ready for this one.

Number and shirt

 Unfortunately,  my body had other ideas.

When I went to bed on Friday night, I have to admit my stomach wasn't feeling the greatest.  I kind of just shook it off, and figured I would feel better after a good night's sleep.  I wasn't going to let some minor blips affect me.

My alarm went off far-too-early on Saturday, but I was pretty awake, anyways. My stomach seemed to have settled, and I ate my usual pre-race plain bagel and banana breakfast. I got dressed and headed out the door to make my way to Prospect Park.

My last minute weather check made me a bit nervous. It was only 55 degrees now, but the humidity was over 90 percent.  The temperatures would steadily rise throughout the morning, and it was going to 66 degrees and sunny at the finish. I had heard through the grapevine that the last 7 miles had no shade - so the sunny skies, combined with the high humidity, did not seem like the greatest conditions for me.  I do my best races in the cold. But what could you do?

At 6:15 am, I met my friends Abbey and Dahlia at baggage claim, as we had planned. We dumped our bags and headed to the corrals.

I was a bit uneasy, especially about the weather, but I still wanted to do the best that I could.  When it was our time to cross the start, I stuck with Abbey and Dahlia.  I figured I would try to keep a 9 min/mile for the first mile, see how it felt, and I would re-evaluate as I went along. And for the few first miles, that felt great.

We hit the big hill in Prospect Park around mile 2.5, and I knew I had to adjust my pace a bit for the uphill - so I let my friends go. Once they got a bit ahead of me I knew I would lose them forever in the  crowds - but that's ok, because at the end of the day, you have to run your own race.

Mile 3 rolled around, then 4. I was starting to get warm from the humidity, but was still averaging about 9:15. I figured it was fine to stick to that pace - I had heard Ocean Parkway was pretty flat and even a bit downhill, so I thought I might be able pick the pace up a bit there if I was feeling good, but if not, I would still hit a PR even if I didn't make my "A" goal of breaking 2 hours.

At some point in our second loop of the park, I felt the salt start to build on me - so I thought it might be a good idea to take a swig of Gatorade or two.  I have run plenty of half marathons in the past, and plenty of them had sport drink on the course - the majority of them offered the lemon-lime Gatorade Endurance formula.  Even though it really hasn't been hot enough to take in sport drink in training, it wasn't like the Gatorade was new to me.

Well somewhere around mile 5, my stomach started cramping up.  Was it directly related to the Gatorade? I have no idea. But it hurt.  I allowed my pace to drop to around 9:30-9:45 or so, hoping it would help.  It hurt, but it wasn't so painful that I couldn't run through it either.

Mile 6 came by, and it was time for my sport food.  My stomach was NOT feeling good...but I was able to choke down 2 shot blocks.  I had hoped the food might help settle it....but it didn't really do much good. I willed myself to keep going - just one more mile, and then we would leave the park, and it would be downhill from there.

Sure enough, I started to see signs to keep to the right to exit the park - and then the mile marker came around. As I rounded the corner to leave the park, I heard a beep. I looked to my wrist, and it was my Garmin going to sleep. I tried to get it back to training mode, but it wouldn't budge. Great, just what I needed.

As I approach the water station, my stomach was just in so much pain, I make a conscience decision that I've never done in a race before - to walk through the water station.  I think the walk break helped because I was able to get more water down then if I was running - but it didn't do anything for my stomach pains.  And willing myself to start running again was harder than ever...but I knew if I walked the whole way, I would be out there for even longer.  So I started running.

I made it to mile 8...and again, walked through the water station, and started running again.  Then a few minutes into the mile....I got sick.

For the first time in my racing "career", I highly considered a DNF.  Then, I thought about what it that would mean. I wouldn't be able to get guaranteed entry into next year's NYC half.  My friends waiting for me at the finish would have no idea where I was. My emergency contact, my mom, might get a phone call from a medical tent - and that alone could give her a nervous breakdown.  So, I dug deep, and kept on plowing through.

At this point since I was (once again) watchless, I had no idea about pace. Nor, did I really care.  At this point I thought I would have a 2:30+ race....but I just needed to get to that finish line.

I felt the sun beating down on me (the predictions of this stretch of the race being a bake-fest were certainly true!) but at this point I was so focused on my stomach, the weather conditions were the least of my concerns.

I managed to get through the next few miles with my walk breaks through the water stations. Usually when I see the mile 10 sign in a half marathon I get amped and I'm able to pick the pace up....but this time I thought "omg I have to do this for another three miles?!"

Miraculously, my stomach finally began to settle around mile 11.5.  I even considered skipping the mile 12 water station, but at this point, my time was so off I figured it didn't matter anyways, and I didn't want to tempt fate.

I knew the finish was on the Coney Island boardwalk - so when I started seeing ocean, I don't think I ever have felt more relieved.  I turned on the boardwalk, and felt the energy of the crowd. I saw the carnival rides come into focus....and then in the distance, I saw the finish line. I was going to make it through.

I crossed the finish line, and caught a glimpse at the clock - 2:14, meaning I had finished in 2:10.  With all my walk breaks, I thought how was that possible?! I guess when I was running, I was running stronger than I realized.

I made my way through the finisher chute, and back to baggage.  I found Abbey and Dahlia (who both had great races for the record!) along with a few others, and I was so happy to just sit and relax for a bit...and breath a sigh of relief that this race was over.
Abbey, Dahlia, and me post-race - thanks, Dahlia for remembering to take some time to snap some post-race photos!
But despite my finish time,  I'm still pretty proud of this race.  My body was screaming "no! no! no!", but I refused to give up.  And when I was running, I was obviously running strong - I obviously don't have my exact mile splits, but my results say I averaged 9:57 min/mile - so I don't think I was crawling along as slowly as I felt I was.  And sure, I didn't get my sub-2 hour race, but I think this race proved to me that I am stronger than I realize...which is the boost I had wanted to go into marathon training...just in a different way I had planned for.  And, on top of it all,  - I'm officially 1/4 of my way into the NYC Half Marathon, and 1/3 into the NYC Marathon for next year.

My official results
PS - I don't want to give too much away quite yet, but I'm gearing up for my first official giveaway next week - so don't forget to hit "follow" so you can partake in the fun! After all, who doesn't love free goodies, right?!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Race Day Prep School - My Packing List

After months of planning, I can't believe the Brooklyn Half is only two days away! This isn't my first half marathon of the year (I ran the Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon in Feb, and the National Half Marathon in March), but it's special to me because I've trained pretty hard for it, and it's the last half marathon I'll actually race before going into marathon training. I'm trying to stay relaxed because at this point I've done all the work I can do...and the weather is so questionable at this point (very good chance of it being humid and rain is still very much a possibility) but I would really love to break that 2 hour barrier.

Since I'm staying overnight thanks to a very early start time, it's time to start thinking about packing. Normally I'm world's most last minute packer...but when it comes to race day, I try to be extra diligent. After all, the last thing you want to deal with at 5 am on race day is a missing left sneaker or pair of shorts! Here are my race day must-haves...

1. Outfit. Depending on the weather, I might bring a few options. But since the low is already in the 60s for Brooklyn...there's no need for anything besides a tank and shorts. On training runs I'm not so particular about wearing an "outfit", but on race day I like to try and stay a bit coordinated (of course without sacrificing comfort!). After all, you never know if your pictures might actually come out!
Asics Emma Singlet in Aloe/White; Asics AYAMi Print Short in Urban/RoseViolet Print, Moving Comfort Vixen Bra in Margarita

2. Shoes.  One last run with my current pair of Asics 2160s before I retire them for a fresh pair
Asics GT-2160  in in Carbon/White/Plum

3. Socks. Why a whole item devoted to socks? Well first, if you forget them, that could really, really suck. And if you don't have the right pair, your feet could end up pretty uncomfortable. I like these Thorlos because they are very thin along the sides so it doesn't affect the shoe fit, but they are padded in the heels and toes for some extra comfort.
Thorlos Experia Socks in Pink
4. Race Belt.  I know races will give you some safety pins to pin your number wherever you like, but I'm a big fan of a number belt.  If you find one with that doesn't bounce (the iFitness belt works great for me) I find them way more comfortable than the safety pins. It also gives you an easy place to stash your phone if you choose to carry it, clip your iPod on if you choose to race with it (the arm bands personally drive me nuts...too hot and restricting!), and easy access to your food. Since I like to carry my iPhone, I keep it stashed away in the big pouch, and added on a little pouch to keep my food in.

iFitness Ultimate Race Belt; FuelBelt Small Neoprene Pouch
5. GPS Watch.  I love, love my quells my anxiety when I start to get nervous about where I am and helps keep me on track with pace. I just hope it doesn't freak out on me like on Tuesday's Wall Street Run.
Garmin Forerunner 405 in Black
6. Sunglasses. My eyes are pretty sensitive to sun (probably because I wear sunglasses year round) so racing with a pair is a must. At first I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of wearing sporty-ones when I have so many pretty ones - but I must say, they are much lighter, and comfortable.  These are neat because they come with three interchangable lens - smoke for bright days, red for overcast days, and clear to keep your eyes dry on rainy days
Tifosi Slip Sunglasses in Neon Pink   
7. Headgear. Normally I would prefer to race without a hat or visor (I don't love the feeling of wearing one) but if there's threat of rain, it's definitely a necessity to keep your eyes dry and vison clear.I know it's cheesy to wear race gear to another race..but I like the reminder that I'm marathon-strong.

Asics 2010 (New York City) Marathon Visor
8. Music. We can debate running with music or not until the cows come home...but my iPod helps keep me going. I keep the music low enough so I'm not oblivious to my surroundings...and if the race has enough going on to keep me entertained, I have no qualms about shutting it off.  Headphones have always been an issue for me, but I swear by these Nike ones...they adjust every which way, so they actually stay on.
Apple iPod Nano Fifth Generation in Fuschia; Nike Vapor Headphones in Black
9. Race Day Fuel.  Sure it's not like I'm going to the middle of nowhere..but why risk a store not having what you want? Better to just carry it with you. I've been into Cliff Shot Blocks lately because they are easy to chew, don't freak me out like the gels, and are mostly organic. 
Cliff Shot Bloks in Mountain Berry
 And last but not least.....

10. Bodyglide.  The name says it all.

Anything else I'm missing? What do you all like to pack? See you all in Brooklyn!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wall Street Run Recap: Organized Chaos at it's Finest!

Yesterday evening was NYRR's Wall Street Run - a 3 mile/run walk through the streets of downtown NYC. I figured it would be an easy way to pop into the city after work, pick up a qualifer, and enjoy racing in the evening and out of the park for a chance.

Well as yesterday's post described, the forecast was for another wet race. But in a dramatic twist of events, the rain actually completely stopped around the afternoon - and it actually stayed that way for the evening. I personally find this proof that the weather gods are runners.

I caught an express train to the grand central a bit before 5 pm, so I was in Grand Central by 5:45 or so. I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get to the race site, and considering I have a generally awful sense of direction, and I really never hang out in the financial district, I wanted to give myself plenty of time.

My plan was to head to my friend Abbey's apartment, since she said she lived right by the start line, and she was kind enough to grab my bib/shirt for me again. And when she said she lived right by the start...she sure wasn't kidding! Her apartment was literally right across the street from the front of the start. Her doorman held my bag for me, I ran up to use a real bathroom, had a quiet place to put on my bib and about VIP treatment!  Our friend Nicole met us at the apartment as well, so as soon as we were situated, we headed out the race.

My shirt and number

Well usually NYRR has corrals for every race regardless of the distance...but this race was the exception. I knew when I signed up for this race it was the considered our version of "running with the bulls" but I still wasn't quite prepared for this madness. We had heard that despite the two separate starts, the walkers often mix in with the we crept up front to get a good starting slot. I would normally feel guilty being so close to the front (I mean let's be honest...I'm not running 6 minute miles anytime in the foreseeable future) but when I looked around at the crowd, there seemed to be such a mix up there, I didn't feel so bad.

When the gun went off for the start - it was go time, and I mean go! I'm usually in the middle of the pack for NYRR races, so that gives me time to start walking briskly, then a slow jog, until I actually cross the start line. Not this time around! I literally went from a standstill to a run along with the rest of the crowd.

My initial plan for this race was to run it at 9 min/mile pace, to kinda see how that felt in a race setting, and to see if that was a realistic pace for me to hold for 13.1 miles on Saturday. Unfortunately, my bestest trainer partner - my trusty Garmin, decided this race would be the perfect time to spaz out on me. It was basically useless - telling me 3 minutes in I had already run a mile. And on top of that, it kept blinking at me "lost satellite reception" and "foot pod detected" and those messages would cover up the stopwatch it was utterly useless. I was on my own.

The first mile went by pretty quick - I was pretty surprised by the inclines in the road (I had thought it would be as flat as a pancake.) I had no idea where I was or where I was going, but it was obviously easy to follow the crowd. I got pushed onto the sidewalks a bit, but I had kinda expected that. I passed by the first mile marker, and the clock said it was about 8:40 minutes or so into the race.

Mile 2 was just as crazy - twists and turns everywhere. There was a water stop and although I didn't want to take the time to grab it, I was starting to feel the humidity, so I decided to go for it. Almost ran into a few people who thought it would be a great idea to stop short in front of the water station, but I managed to grab a cup. I was really starting to wonder where I was...and then the second mile marker came up. I think I saw the clock say around 17 minutes, but I certainly wouldn't bet on it. 

Mile 3 was just a giant other way to describe it. Some people were really starting to bonk here, and slow to a walk...which made navigating the narrow streets even more difficult. At one point we had to run over a curb, and I was just relieved that I didn't trip and fall.  The final stretch was along a narrow promenade that was lined with trees, so it was hard to see up ahead.  Spectators were letting us know the finish line was almost there - but since I had no idea where I was, and had no watch to help pace me...I started to get anxious and my mind starting to play tricks on me, I think I started to slow. But of out nowhere the finish line popped up, and sure enough, I crossed. I had missed the clock, but managed to hit the stop on my Garmin - for a finish time of 26:11. The official results said 26:10, so at least the Garmin got one thing right - the watch said I had just ran 8.33 miles in 26:10 mins @ a 3:09 mile/pace. HA!

My real results!

 After walking through the finish line area (So excited to see there was bottled water with caps- perfect for the train!) a bit, I found Abbey stretching - she had finished about two minutes before me. We found Nicole pretty soon after, and then headed back. I grabbed my stuff from Abbey's doorman, and said my goodbyes quickly - I was pretty tired after working all day, and just kinda wanted to catch a train and get home.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my pace considering all the obstacles I have. I did go end up faster than I had planned for...which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Next up is the Brooklyn Half Marathon on Sat! I really would love to be able to hang onto a 9 min/mile pace for this one, break 2 hours, and feel like I have a solid half marathon behind me right before going into marathon training...but we will see. I had hoped this 3-miler would give me a boost of confidence, but now I'm more nervous than ever!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away - Tips for Surviving Rain on Race Day

So tonight I'm gearing up for the Aha Wall Street Run and Heart Walk. I figured it was an easy way to pop into the city after work, run an easy 3 miles, and knock off another qualifier for the 2012 marathon. But...mother nature wants to throw in her own challenge!

What a miserable day for  race

This means that I will most likely be 2/2 for rainy weather on race day this year for my NYRR races! I learned a few things during my rainy 4-miler last month, and hopefully they will help me this time around as well...
  1.  If there's enough rain, NOTHING is really water proof...but still wearing a water proof/water resistant jacket helps at least for the first mile or 2. 
  2. Keep yourself as dry as possible before you start. I wore a plastic poncho over my running clothes, plastic bags over my shoes, and had an umbrella to hang onto in the corrals. I tossed everything before I started, and at least I was semi-dry. 
  3. Have warm stuff waiting. I warmed up pretty fast when I started running...but as soon as I finished, my body temperature came down fast! I was very happy to have a set of dry clothes to get into 
  4. Leave the electronics at home.  Unless you feel like risking your phone or iPod - why risk it?  The exception being water resistant watches - they (should) be ok.  If you absolutely must have your phone on you, keep it in a plastic baggie. in a case. in another pouch. Better safe than sorry!
  5. Keep your eyes dry. If you can't see, how can you run? Wearing a visor/hat will help keep the rain away - and if you have big glasses/sunglasses that cover your eyes completly and won't affect your vision, even better.
  6. Bodyglide is your friend. Even if you don't usually blister, you'll be surprised how the rain can make even the most technical fabrics rub and irritate you. And don't forget about covering your feet - they are the most susceptible to blisters in the rain!
  7. Mind over body. If you go into a race thinking this sucks, it will suck. If you can find the fun in it (hey, remember playing in the rain as a kid?) then it might not be so bad after all.
Anyone else have any last minute ideas that I'm missing? Good luck to all those running tonight and let's keep those fingers crossed for a drizzle/mist and not a tropical downpour!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quick Weekend Recap: Running, Biking, and a Wedding!

Having my parents far away definatley has its negatives, but one perk is that I get to go visit them in Miami! Tough life, I know. I knew the last thing I would want to do is wake up at an awful hour on vacation to run 12 miles in high heat/humidity - so I woke up verrryyy early on Thursday to get it done before work and flying. It was an exhuasting day, but well worth it!

Friday I woke up and went to the gym with my mom (she worked with her trainer, I got my miles in in the ac gym on the dreadmill.) We ran some errands, grabbed some lunch, hung out..and got ready for the big day on Saturday which was...(drum roll please) my second ride ever on my road bike!

My bike was my wonderful birthday present from my parents. We decided to buy it down in Miami and have it shipped here to me in CT after this trip. Since I was down there in March for my birthday, my dad was able to give me a very long lesson (honestly, getting on a road bike IS so much harder than it looks. I miss my childhood bike with a kickstand!). After literally 3 hours of practicing getting on/off and starting/stopping, he deemed me safe enough to go out with my mom and her friends the next morning. I made it through her usual route - about 26 miles. I barely noticed the athletic challenge because I was so worried I would fall off the bike! I was pretty uneasy about the bike, and I started to seriously have my doubts about finishing a sprint tri, much less an Olympic one next summer.

Our first mother/daughter ride. The coordinating jerseys were not planned, promise!

This ride was totally different. Was I perfect? Of course not. But I was able to relax my "deathgrip" on the handlebars, and have a little confidence that my balance would not wobble over and I wouldn't be run over by the "death machines" on the road. (noticing a death theme here?) By the end of the ride, I was excited about having a new sport to learn, and who knows? Maybe a sprint tri might be able to happen at the end of the summer, after all.

After the ride we showered, ate, and packed up to head to the keys. One of my dad's therapists from his PT practiced was getting married! Her and her finance came with us on our trip to New Orleans last February and ran the half marathon with us, since she was speaking at a conference with my dad a few days before the race.  She and I bonded quickly over  late-night drinks and dancing on Bourbon street - and then a bit-too-early wake up call for a run the next morning - and have been friends since. We're actually planning on running the marathon together, but we had much more important things to celebrate on Saturday!

The wedding was absolutely stunning - no other way to describe it. The ceremony was right on the water, in the sand (kiddies were spotted building sand castles before/after!) I swear, it was right out of a romance novel.

The gorgeous   

Afterward, we headed next door to the tiki bar for an outdoor party.  There was lots of food, drinks and fun to be had for all. Of course my mother's favorite topic (when is it YOUR turn) came up - and I had to smile and laugh my way through the questions. Of course the boquet toss didn't help matters either...

Catching the bouquet!
Ok, so maybe it was a tiny big rigged. But hey, the bride gets to choose what she wants on her day! I leave it as we shall see what the summer brings. But have no fear dear readers, no matter what happens, I am still planning on all my athletic events for 2012.

My parents and I stayed over in a nearby hotel, since the wedding was almost 2 hours from our house in Miami. We woke up and had a lovely Mother Day's breakfast on the beach, and headed home to relax some more and cook mom a BBQ.  Before I knew it, it was Monday afternoon and time for me to head back to CT.  I'm always sad to say goodbye, but lots to look forward to on the horizon - getting set up for my bike to get to me, getting to use my pool, and of course getting ready for the Brooklyn half marathon next week!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Start Spreading the News...

Last news I received a very exciting email from the New York Road Runners - I'm IN for the New York City Marathon 2011!

I remember how I felt last year when I found out I had my entry. I was caught completely off-guard, and wasn't quite ready to run a marathon. I had run a half marathon in the beginning of March, and trained mostly on the treadmill...and if I'm completely honest with myself, I was probably averaging 15 miles/week running 3-4 times a week.  After the race, I ended up taking a brief hiatus from running. I remember my first race back was the Healthy Kidney 10K, which is coming up in two weeks (but between the Wall Street Run and the Brooklyn Half, I won't be running this year). A few weeks later the opportunity to run the marathon literally landed in my lap.  Sure, I wasn't quite ready to run a full marathon...but it was always a dream of mine to run the New York Marathon, there was no way I could turn down the opportunity.  I kicked it into running gear, and tried to play catch up before I started training. Halfway through training, I ended up with an overuse injury.  If I'm honest with myself - I think my long runs consisted of 1 16 miler, 1 18 miler and 1 20 miler. I ran a half marathon as a time-predictor in October, but it ended up exacerbating the injury. My knee came back to haunt me during the race at mile 8, and it never really let up for the rest of the race.   I also hit the wall pretty hard - part of which can be attributed to poor nutrition during the race, I believe. I ended up finishing in 5:04. I was very proud that I finished the race at all...but, at the same time, I knew I could do better next time.

Well, this year there's no more nervous excitement...I'm just AMPED and ready to go! I've been averaging 25 miles/week for the past month, and at least 20 miles for two months before that. I have about 2 months to slowly and comfortably bring that to 30 miles/week before I start training.  I set a new half marathon PR earlier this year, and I know I'm mentally tough enough to race in the bitter cold and in the pouring rain. I know I need to choose a training plan that calls for 3 20-milers, and a handful of 18s and 16s.  I know what to expected on the course - slow, steady inclines, turns that make it difficult to run the tangents, and very crowded aid stations.  So bring it NYCM...I'm coming for you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's Getting Hot In Here - Tips for Warm Weather Running

Spring has definitely arrived - sunny  skies, fresh flowers, and, the beginning of hot running. I first noticed it this past weekend when I had originally planned to do an easy 8 miler. I'm definitely in the I-love-my-sleep camp, so I did my usual routine -  I slept in a bit, had a light breakfast, lounged around a bit while it digested...and headed out around noonish .

Well, that was a BIG mistake. By the time I got out it was in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky. Great weather for sipping margaritas on the patio, but not-so-great for running. Of course I had no sport drink on me and I was keeping my usual training pace. That worked out for me for about 2 miles, until the heat really started to get to me and I felt a bit nauseous and light-headed. I thought about pushing through it (after all, race day heat is always a possibility) - but then opted to cut it at 4 miles and make it my short run for the weekend, and then reschedule my long run for the next day, when I could wake up earlier and get out before the sun really set in.

So, in honor of my mistake (which really, I should know better now) here are some tried-and-true tips for running in the heat. Sure it's nothing groundbreaking, but it's always good to get a reminder in as the weather starts to change...
  • Adjust your pace. Generally speaking, your body is most comfortable running in 50-55 degrees. After that, your body will have to work harder to keep your core temperature cooler. I think this is especially true if you are used to running in 50s-low 60 degrees, and all of the sudden it's 70+ degrees out. The general rule of thumb is slow anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the heat/humidity - but as any runner knows, there's no one steadfast rule that works for everyone. Listen to your body, know your limits, and don't try to be a hero.
  • Invest in a heart-rate monitor. Believe me, I hate numbers, and wearing a strap underneath my bra is not my favorite thing. But there's a reason why they are such a valuable training tool - numbers don't lie. Sure you might feel like you are crawling, especially if you are going slower than you're used, to but if your heart rate is sky high, that's your first warning to slow it down. Don't let dizziness and nausea come next.
  • Ditch the cotton. I know the price tags of some tech gear can be scary ($13 for one pair of socks?!) but it's worth it. The good stuff will wick the moisture off your skin, keeping you cool and dry (well, relatively speaking) while the cotton will absorb the moisture and weight you down. And if the cotton is on your feet, you're likely looking at your blister culprit.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I know this is not the first time you've heard this before - but seriously, your body needs its water. Keep drinking throughout the day, so you're not dehydrated before your run even begins. And make sure you have access to water on your run. Whether you carry a handheld, wear a hydration belt, or stashed some bottles along your route the old-fashioned way - just make sure you're drinking.  I personally prefer to wear a belt, and if I'm planning a particularly long run on a hot day, I plan for a loop course and keep a cooler full of cold bottles in my car that I can swap out halfway through.
  • But don't forget your electrolytes/salt. I know we tend to think of sodium as a food addictive we would like to avoid, but it's really a nutrient, and your body needs it! When I know  I'm going to be running a ton, especially in the warmer temperatures, I make sure to included some salted foods in my daily diet (popcorn, crackers, nuts - even baked chips). I also will alternate between water and a sport drink on any run longer than a hour, on top of any gels/blocks/chews I might also need. 
  • On race day - don't depend on anyone else. This is true no matter what, but I find it especially crucial when you are racing in less than ideals temps. Just because a race says they will have water at every mile, doesn't mean that always happens (Chicago 2007 anyone?) If I know I'm going to be a race, especially a distance race, in awful conditions, I will make sure to carry my own water. Sure it might slow me a bit, but I know in those temps, I won't PR better safe than sorry, right?
  • Avoid the middle of the day. Generally speaking - the coolest part of the day is the early morning, and the second coolest is at the end. The middle of the day is the warmest and the sun is strongest. Plan your run accordingly
  • Give yourself time. It's all relative, but your body does tend to acclimate a bit to the heat after about two weeks. At the very least, high temperatures won't be a total shock to your system.
  • Don't compare yourself to others. Some runners handle the heat better, some handle freezing temperatures better. What is warm to me now - 75 degrees - sounds like winter to my parents in Miami. But when it's 45 degrees out, I'm in one layer, and they are bundled up like they are going on an expedition to Antarctica. Adjust your run to you, and you only.
  • When all else fails, there's always the treadmill. Hey, it's better than nothing, right?
Anything I missed? How do you survive the rising the temperatures?

Monday, May 2, 2011

7 Things About Me

So my friend Lisa over at Early Morning Run passed on the "Stylish Blogger" award to me about 2 weeks ago...and I've been kind of slacking on actually coming up with seven random facts about myself. 

1. I love food...but I'm a really picky eater
How is that possible you ask? See, I love cooking new concoctions and trying out some of the city's most celebrated long as it's something I like!  I don't eat a ton of red meat (no particular reason, just never grew up on it) and I don't really eat seafood (although I am working on learning to like milder white fish). But I have come a long way from when I was younger in terms of exploring my palette

2. I'm deathly afraid of snakes
If i went to a psychologist, I would probably be diagnosed with a real phobia.  I'm not sure how or why or when it all started...but even if I see a snake flash across the TV screen I will let out a blood-curdling scream.

3. I'm a kid at heart
I devour Harry Potter books in one sitting, I spent my 25th birthday running the Disney Princess Half Marathon, and have a weakness for sugar-filled candy (especially if it's pink). 

Slightly delirious after being up since 4 am...but birthday/post-race dinner...complete with a Snow White cake

4. I grew up in Miami...but don't speak a word of Spanish
I didn't actually grow in the city, way more in the suburbs, but still - I've taken classes from 3rd-12th grade, and still don't understand a word. Thank you, Miami-Dade Public Schools.  I do appreciate a good arepa or gauva pastelito - does that count for anything? 

 5. I have the worst luck with electronics
I'm actually somewhat knowledgeable about computers - but for some reason, they always seem to crash around me. Laptops, cell phones,  DVRS - even the locker system at Island of Adventures crashed on me when I tried to grab my stuff once (they run on Windows, and you can use alt-control-delete,  in case you were wondering) Let's hope my Garmin watch is not next (especially during a big race!!)
Yes, it is possible to crash these things

 6. Numbers stress me out
Whether I'm trying to figure out what the sale price of a dress is or trying to predict what my finish time should be in a race - forget it.  I literally get anxious and super I survived pre-cal classes back in the day, I have no idea.

7. I tend to count my chickens before they hatch.
I'm a type A planner - I can't help it, sometimes!
My iPhone is my friend!