Monday, December 31, 2012

Radio Silence

I haven't blogged in a couple weeks, and that's because I've been making some changes in my life.

I moved to a new place a little over a week ago, in a new part of town. Jacksonville is a huge city, so what would probably be an entirely different town in another place is here just another neighborhood, large and sprawling though it may be.

I'm excited about my new space, my new place. It's a lovely area to run in, and I look forward to finding new running routes, new times of day and new folks to run with.

Exciting news that I received a couple of weeks ago is that I have been accepted as a member of the Oiselle Ambassador Team! I'm a huge, huge fan of the brand, both for their amazing products and their overall philosophies. I am very excited to represent, and help spread the word about Oiselle here in Florida. 

So I'm excited for 2013. New places, new faces, new races. I think a lot of good things are on the way.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Who else is happy it's Friday?

It's been a long week. I work for an ad agency, and when you're running up to a deadline on a big project for a big client, that means a lot of crazy hours, late nights, revisions, more revisions and a general sense of being brain dead.

Needless to say, all of this has equated to a fair amount of sleep where I can get it, time spent staring vacantly at a book or the television, and eating. But not a whole lot of running/biking/yoga-ing or anything else.

I went out Monday, and got in an easy 3 miles. I focused on my stride, and keeping a quick cadence. I've been doing a lot of research on the types of injuries I get, and how I can prevent them. A lot of it seems to come down to my stride. I noticed that my right hip tends to drop, and I know that I'm a stomper. So Monday (and really most runs moving forward) are all about form.

I got in 4 miles before work today on the 'mill in our neighborhood gym. It felt really easy...until I realized I was also going really slow. But I listened to NPR for a bit, then watched Headline News. Pretty chill, which was kind of a nice way to start the day.

So this is all a long way of saying I'm pretty pooped. I look forward to getting some miles in this weekend. And also getting some rest to reset my brain.

I hope everyone else is having a great week. TGIF!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Suggestions for the runner/triathlete in your life

The first Christmas tree strapped to the roof of a station wagon has been spotted. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone in a frenzy of spending. The local strip malls have strung up their lights and pinned their giant Santas to their streetlights. That's right - it's time to start Christmas shopping.

As runners and triathletes, we're often obsessed with gear, and that can often make it easy to buy for the endurance junkies in your life. So here are some suggestions. I could offer more, but these are a few of my favorite things...

If you're feeling really generous.

The Garmin 910XT
I've lusted after this since it was released. The giantness of my 305 used to not bother me, but lately it seems extra loose on my wrist, bulkier than it used to be. It seems to take forever to find satellites, so I spend a lot of time standing awkwardly on the sidewalk outside of my neighborhood, on the sidewalk outside of my office and pretty much anywhere I ever run ("hey guys, just another second. It looks like it's finally got it this time."). I know the 910 isn't exponentially smaller, but it would track my swimming too! And so many other things. And I do love data. ($399 and up)

The real stuff

Oiselle Roga Shorts

I have never run in shorts so comfortable. True to their name, I wear them running AND to yoga, and they are extremely comfortable in both pursuits. The fit is also really flattering. ($40)

Oiselle Trials Hoody

See a theme here? I love this hoody. I may never take it off. It goes on instantly when I get home, and I wear it after workouts and even on errands. I think E is starting to forget what I look like without it. That's all a long way of saying this hoodie is SUPER cozy. ($75)

Road ID

If the runner or triathlete in your life is lacking one of these, then this could be the best thing you buy them. Seriously. I wear mine on every workout and hassle E to do the same. We both have the Wrist ID Sport. I have pretty small wrists, and I like this one, though I know a lot women prefer the Wrist ID Slim. ($19.99 and up)

Stocking Stuffers

I discovered Nuun while training for my first 70.3 this summer. Since then, these fizzy little tablets have boosted me through long bike rides, tough runs and sweaty yoga sessions. So far, I'm a sucker for Lemon Tea and Citrus Fruit. ($6.50/tube, $24.00/4 pack)

Manduka Hand Towel
I actually won mine from Manduka a couple years ago in a Twitter contest. It's not likely a size I would have thought to buy (I have the full size mat towel) but it has become one of the handiest sports-related things I own. It goes with me to yoga, but it also hangs out on my aero bars when I'm on the trainer and dries me off before getting back into the car or changing post-ride or run. It's so ridiculously absorbent. ($16)

CamelBak Podium Chill Bottles
If you live anywhere warm, you will come to love and cherish these bottles. They do a pretty great job (even when you live in Florida) of keeping your beverages cool. And there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that tastes better than cool water in the middle of a hot run.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Here is what happens when you eat a lot of junk food

This is how I felt after Thanksgiving, and several rounds of assorted "oh, I never eat this way so what the hell" meals.

Burgers, fries, pizza...I went the distance. And then a day or so later, I tried to run. And wanted to die.

I only made it 3 miles. I bitched, I moaned, I whined. I shuffled along begrudgingly. I hated life. It was 65 degrees and I thought I was going to melt.

And this, as always, is when I remember that what I eat profoundly affects how I run.

So here's my advice, kids: junk food in moderation. Don't tell yourself it's a "good idea to get it all out of the way at once" or "I've already come this far. What else have I been wanting to eat lately?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Last week, I decided that it was time to finally look into this whole rolling thing. 

I've toyed with the idea when I've trained for my last couple marathons, but have never been sure whether to go with the Stick or with a foam roller or what. I've also heard a lot of alternative solutions, like rolling pins, softballs, tennis balls or frozen water bottles.

So I decided to go the best sources I know for good info on what really works: DailyMile and Twitter.

And I got a lot of awesome responses, though I have to say opinions were pretty split between a foam roller and the Stick. 

Ultimately I decided to go with something a few folks recommended that might help me decide: the rolling pin method.

So I rolled for the first time on Saturday evening, and didn't notice a huge difference. I did notice that it felt like it took a lot of upper body strength (which isn't exactly, ahem, my strong suit).  I mostly rolled my calves, which is where I tend to experience a lot of tightness and fatigue.

Then last night, I did some speed work. I did a little over three miles, with six sets of strides. I went home, stretched, iced my shin and ate some dinner. Then it was time to roll.

I rolled my hamstrings and my quads, and it felt AMAZING. And I rolled them foam roller style, using my body weight, and it felt so, so good. I spent a little bit of time on my calves, but was icing them on and off throughout the evening (well, icing my shins). Using it like a foam roller, I found it to be a little too low. This whole experiment did help me decide that I'll be purchasing a foam roller sometime soon!

My weapon of choice

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: ISM Podium Saddle

Back Story:

When I got my new tri bike, I was ecstatic. Setting into the aero position felt like second nature, and the ride was so much smoother than anything I'd ever experienced. I knew this was key to training for my first 70.3.

After a few rides though, something became abundantly clear: my saddle hurt. More accurately, I was experiencing saddle sores and a general all-encompassing saddle pain.

I tried to wait it out. I thought I just needed to get my seat back, like you do when you haven't ridden in a while. But it didn't get better, and my rides were getting longer, and I was missing miles because I couldn't stand to be in the seat. It was time for something different.

I decided to check out the demo program, as I could get a better range of saddle options there than I could from my LBS.  

I had eyeballed ISM saddles before, but just wasn't sure about them. So I first tried the Fizik Vitesse saddle. It felt better than my current saddle, and in desperation I went ahead and purchased it, as I was becoming increasingly worried about my inability to do long rides and the time in the saddle I was missing.

After a couple more rides, I realized though that this wasn't going to fly either. It was time to try the ISM. I went on their website, and used their saddle selector. After a little more research, I decided I would first try the Breakaway. Right away, I knew the general nose-less design of the ISM was right for me, I just wasn't sure if the Breakaway was ultimately the right saddle. It felt a little wide to me. On one of my longer rides during the demo, I experienced a little chafing. I returned that saddle and did a little more research, but couldn't decide. I was split between the Breakaway, the Podium, and the Prologue. And what about the Racing?

So I emailed ISM. I had read a couple different reviews where people said the folks at ISM were super helpful and quick to respond, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Sure enough, Dave at ISM got back to me within on a couple hours, on a Sunday no less! I told him my height, weight, mileage and a little about my issues. He referred me to a woman on staff who is also a triathlete. This was such a huge help. I talked through all my issues, and she recommended the Podium saddle. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to just go for it. No demo, no nothing. 

And I love it. It's a little firmer than the Breakaway, which did cause me some initial soreness, but nothing that kept me from riding. To date, I've put about 200 miles on the saddle, and I'm increasingly happy as it breaks in. 

It's also a hair narrower, which seems to be a little better for my petite frame. I can't stress enough what a convert I've become. I won't ever be able to go back to a "regular" saddle after this.

I've had to tweak the height and positioning a little bit, and the fit video and diagram on ISM's website was helpful in figuring out how things should be positioned. 

Overall, I would highly recommend this saddle if you are someone who finds a lot (or even a little) discomfort in a traditional saddle set up. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Marathon training on the fly

A few months ago, still training for my 70.3, I started thinking about another marathon to run, as I've mentioned a few times, and pretty much decided to try and do the Jax Bank Marathon, which was exactly 7 weeks from my half iron, an amount of time that I read was just about perfect to go from 70.3 to marathon, particularly if you felt you were recovering well from the 70.3.

So I downloaded a training plan, and am more or less following that. It's the Chicago Marathon Set a New PR training plan. I took a week off after my 70.3, so essentially I'm down to 6 weeks to train. Since I'm on the downward end of the training, the plan doesn't require more than a 15 mile run, so I'm debating if I need to do at least an 18 or 20-miler.

It sounds strange, but I'm just sort of doing this marathon because I want to do a marathon. I started the year with the Disney Marathon, and I like the idea of ending with one. I also like the idea of training for this marathon on my own terms, and trusting in what I've learned as a runner and as an athlete.

I always feel beholden to training plans, to doing everything exactly right and beating myself up over missed runs and missed opportunities, and feel that regular life goes on hold. I feel like I need to prove something to myself, and give myself more confidence as an athlete by just going to do this.

Maybe it's strange, but I'm sort of excited about it.