Thursday, June 30, 2011

Three Things Thursday

I never do those TTT posts, so I thought I'd give it a try today.

1. My Vibrams and I are having a love affair. I first thought they we're dumb. Then I thought maybe they were worth a try. Then I thought I'd wear them for short training runs. Then I thought maybe 5ks. Now I'm seriously considering them for my next half marathon. These babies are wonderful. Shin splints and knee pain that I thought was just a part of running are now totally gone and my calves are getting much more toned. It was meant to be. I'm thinking maybe a fall wedding?
Love at First Sight
2. Swim lessons totally count as a workout in my book. I normally teach private lessons, but this year I've been teaching group lessons at the pool I work at every day. I teach mostly pre-k kids in the group classes and they are more like play time to get comfortable with the water than the actual lessons I'm used to. Lessons generally involve the kids trying to run away while I chase them, be carried up the flight of stairs to our slide repeatedly, playing "bouncy" which is code for doing squats with a fifty pound child, and lots of swimming for me.  I love the kids in my class, but between that and a full day of sun and 100+ temps I'm pretty wiped out, hence my lack of runs lately. Here's one of my cuties after class, showing me he's "a lifeguard too!". 

Cutest lifeguard ever

3. My FIVE YEAR anniversary is coming up with my bf! He's such an amazing guy and I'm one lucky girl to have him in my life. I have no clue what what we are doing yet. All I know is I'm probably wearing these:

Thanks again Vibrams for making my fav heels look even better!
Question of the Day: What non-running/obvious activity do you consider a good workout?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Virtual 5k Race Recaps

This weekend, I was signed up for two virtual 5k races:

I've been trying to cram in as many 5ks as I can this summer because it is soooooooo hot and I work all day in the sun, which makes it really hard to convince myself to go out and run.  At least with races, I won't back out. Anyways, I went searching for a 5k for this weekend a while ago and came across the Boring Runner's 5k. I've never seen his blog before, and the race looked like a lot of fun, so I signed up immediately. Then, Kayla from Running through Life posted about her virtual 5k that same weekend. After my last virtual race that I hosted, Kayla emailed me about wanting to do one of her own, and I had been really excited for hers to come up. So that's how I ended up signed up for two races at the same time, and I decided to run one 5k and count it for both because it's too darn hot here. 

Both of the races had a heat-related theme and my run didn't fail at living up to those names. Here's the forecast for next week, which is supposed to be cooler than it has been, but you get the idea. 
You're kidding right weatherman?
After quite a bit of dragging my feet, I got ready and took my bib pics.
Me in my beat the heat bib

The super cute beat the heat bib

sweat your thorns off bib pic

My "sweaty" pic haha

The sweat your thorns off bib
I had a lot of fun running these races. I ran my 5k around my neighborhood and had a lot of firsts.
  • First 5k without walking - I've never run a whole 5k before (without walking breaks), and for some reason I could last night. It felt amazing! 
  • First 5k in Vibrams - I tried running the 5k in my toe shoes last night and it felt pretty good.  No aches or pains and I ran farther than usual. I will say they take more work than other shoes since they use other muscles, but I've heard this goes away before too long. I'm really falling in love with these shoes. When I bought them I thought I would only use them for very short training runs, and now I'm debating wearing them in my half marathons. After wearing these, regular running shoes feel so heavy and uncomfortable. 
  • First near-death running experience - I run at night in my neighborhood sometimes to avoid heat because my neighborhood is gated and there are virtually no cars around here at night... Until last night. A car came flying around the corner and almost hit me so I jumped off the road to get out of the way. BAD idea. I landed in a pile of pebbles and junk from some construction going on and got a rock in my shoe and the blisters to prove it. Oh well!
  • First time using Runkeeper - I used the Runkeeper app on my iPhone last night (mostly because my Garmin wasn't charged). I liked the app a lot. It allows you to listen to your music and interrupts at predetermined intervals (I chose every 5 minutes) to provide you with your choice of data (I chose distance and average pace). I think my Garmin is probably much more accurate and it's a little easier to use because it's on your wrist and sweat doesn't affect your ability to touch buttons (like it does a touch screen) but it was also nice to have information automatically relayed to me and not have to look so much. 
Thanks guys for hosting these great races. It was a blast and I can't wait to hear how everyone else did!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Razzy Roo Headbands

Okay so apparently I rock at winning headband giveaways. I won 2 recently and today I received one of my winning headbands in the mail. This one is called a Razzy Roo headband. I won this one by entering Alicia's wonderful Autism Awareness 5k. She gave away tons of cool prizes and I was lucky enough to win one. I've been in dire need of headbands because my hair tends to do whatever is most inconvenient on race days and I lost my only legit running one during my Memorial race (thanks a lot hoodie!). Anyways, back to the headband.

My headband with a thank you card from Alicia
I didn't pick the color/style so I didn't know what to expect when it came in the mail. I was impressed with how well it was put together and the bright colors were cute. I'm always a little nervous about thicker headbands because I swear I turn into an alien with giant ears and a little kid sized forehead the minute a hat or thick headband comes near me. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to show you an awkward Bondi Band or hat shot, but for now just trust me. This one is about an inch thick, which is nice because it's thick enough to really grip your hair and get it under control, without creating alien head. I put the headband on and was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

My best "say what?!" face - fail
I'd definitely recommend these headbands because they really work without being too tight or uncomfortable. Thanks again to Alicia for the great 5k and the prize!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Zensah Compression Sleeves Review

I've told you before how much I love Zensah and their great compression socks for recovery, but I wanted to do a quick review of their compressions leg sleeves.

A pic of the sleeves from their website
I've run basically every race in these, including all three of my half marathons. I. LOVE. THEM. I get terrible shin splints (thank you heel striking and flat feet) and these babies make me go from hobbling in pain to running without a worry. I own two pairs! Honestly compression is one amazing thing and Zensah really knows how to do it right. So what's different about these and the compression socks?
  • They have no foot covering - obviously, but you may not realize how beneficial that can be. First it's much cooler than wearing socks, so you're feet dont get so hot. Second, if you need a specific sock thickness or type, you can still get your compressions. AND I'm learning they are the only compression option for fans of Vibrams. Also if you're the type that likes to let your feet "breathe" after a race, like me, they work with flip flops.
  • The compression is a little lighter - The compression in the socks is really tight. Thats nice when I'm recovering, but when I'm running I'd rather not feel so constricted. The sleeves have just the right compression for movement and exercise. It feels more like a hug than a squeeze . 
  • They are slightly shorter - The socks are a little too long for me and end inside my knee. The sleeves are a little shorter, so that I can bend my legs easier and they don't rub while running. 
When do I wear which product? I tend to wear my sleeves to races and after when I'm walking around. For example at Disney World, I ran my half marathon in one pair, then changed into clean clothes and clean sleeves and wore them all day with comfy sandals at the park. (For a total of 26 miles in compression sleeve bliss according to my Garmin). I wear the socks when I've had a little down time after the race, like the night after or the day after. At Disney I wore them once we got home from the parks and on the plane ride home the next day. 

Do they really make a difference? HECK YES! Ok I know I've never run a half without them, but I did forget them once for a 14 mile training run and I was kicking myself. Recovery is so much faster, I'm faster (I realize I'm still in the turtle category at my fastest but hey!), I hurt less during the running, and life is simply easier with the compression. Literally I started running four months before my first half at disney and ended up leaving having logged at least 40 miles in that weekend (13.1 of them running) and never really felt sore and I feel like I totally owe that to my sleeves/socks. So thanks Zensah for making such amazing product!
Rocking red sleeves at the castle

PS: Zensah in no way influenced this post. I purchased my sleeves and socks with my own money and chose to share my opinions on my own. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there, and thanks to my Dad for being one of the best! He's a big goofball that always keeps me smiling and he's always there for me.
At Graduation

Playing at Disney

And goofing off at my virtual 5k! lol

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blaze through the Adventure District 5k

A few weeks ago, I started looking for some fun summer races to get me through the lull between distance running season. A race that immediately caught my eye was the Blaze through the Adventure District 5k. The race benefits the Limbs for Life Foundation here in Oklahoma. The Limbs for Life Foundation is an non profit organization "dedicated to providing fully functional prosthetic care for individuals who cannot otherwise afford it and raising awareness of the challenges facing amputees". I thought this was a really great cause, but I have to be honest. I rarely think much about the charity aspect of the runs when making my choices of races to run. The course is what really got me interested, but later I was reminded again of one of the most important reasons why I should run. I signed up for the race and a few days later received a personalized letter in the mail thanking me for my donation (in the form of a registration fee) and telling me a little about how they use the money to improve the lives of amputees. 

My letter
I thought this was a great idea and it really made me remember that running provides a great opportunity to not only do great things for yourself, but also for others. I've done several races now, and this was the first one I've run where I really felt the personal touch of charity involvement in the race despite the fact that all of my major races have benefited a non-profit organization. 

This morning I arrived at the race early to pick up my bib and shirt and stretch. 
my bib

pre-race shot


As I mentioned earlier, I was originally excited about this race because of the course. The 5k course made a loop around the Oklahoma City Zoo, then exited the zoo and crossed the street to enter Remington Park. At Remington Park, we ran a loop around the horse track and finished our race at the end of the loop. The zoo is one of my favorite places and is a special place for me and my guy Cameron, because some of our best dates were there. We actually got a brick together a few years ago, and before the race I went to check it out again. 
our brick!
Then it was time for the race to start. It was HOT! I felt like I was melting just waiting for the gun to go off. My mom was just watching this race and offered to take pictures (because she had surgery Wednesday and wasn't cleared to run yet). I quickly told my mom that I wouldn't be making it in at my usual time because of the heat and then I was off.

Is this real life???
The course was fun and there was always something to look at. We passed vultures (kind of intimidating when you look like you're dying and they look hungry), hyenas, deer, wild dogs, and cheetahs among others. A lot of the animals weren't out due to the heat, and I was pretty focused on keeping moving, but I'm sure we passed more than that. The hyenas were my favorite because they were just watching trying to figure out what we were up to. After passing through the zoo I crossed over into the horse track. On the way I passed my mom and waved hello. 
Am I there yet?
After passing Mom, I met another runner my age and she and I got talking. She's doing the Princess Half Marathon next year and it was fun to chat (and push each other) the rest of the way. (Thanks for the encouragement Witney!). Running on the track was fun, but much longer than I thought. I have seen races like the Kentucky Derby on TV, but never went to an actual race before. I was very surprised at how huge the track is! Soon I was pushing through the finish line. I grabbed a Powerade and met up with Mom. My time was really slow, but the heat was intense and I decided to take it easy because I have to work tomorrow and didn't want a second go around with sun poisoning and dehydration.
jumping for joy that I could finally go find some shade
All the runners were given free admission to the zoo after the race, so Mom and I went for a couple of hours to take pictures and enjoy the day. 

The good
  • The cause and personal touch - limbs for life was really involved and I truly felt like I was helping make a difference. There were also a bunch of amputees running, including one really cute 9 year old. It was really inspirational. 
  • The course - loved running through the zoo and on the track
The bad
  • The weather- this really wasn't their fault, but more water stations and an earlier start time probably could've helped a little. 
Overall I really loved this race and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun race, but not necessarily a PR. I feel very inspired to run after today and I will definitely be repeating this race in the future. Thanks Limbs for Life and DG Productions for making this such a wonderful race!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sun Poisoning Blues

Sorry I disappeared for a few days there. I got sun poisoning and was really sick for a few days. (Who knew that the sun could make you that miserable??). Anyways, I didn't think you all wanted to hear about my adventures with that, so I decided to spare you the gory details and wait until I had more fun stuff to share.  Here's whats been going on:
  • I started my 40 day plan. It felt great to exercise everyday, but I vastly underestimated how hard it would be to get in runs on the days I worked doubles or long hours at work. There is no way I could run after spending 10 hours in the sun and dieting. So, now that I'm starting up my plan again, I'm going to focus on getting in any form of exercise everyday and not just leave swimming for injuries. I just think it would be healthier, working out in the sun like that.
  • I ran a virtual 5k! I ran the Virtual Race for Autism 5k from AliciaRuns. It was a really cute race. She made bibs that you could personalize and asked everyone to donate $5 to her Train4Autism fund. She's got an amazing set of giveaways and there are quite a few I'd be very happy to win :) I finished in 36 minutes and I'm pretty happy with it, considering it was my first run after the sun ruined me. 
Me in my race bib - I really can't figure out how not to make an awkward face in these

My cute, personalized bib

My shoes in action
  • I tried out my new Vibram Bikilas. Okay this ones only halfway. I've been wearing them to walk in, but haven't taken them for a run yet (not running will make that kinda difficult).So far I'm absolutely in love with them. I'm wearing them basically 24/7 and it feels like barefoot walking, but better. I all ready notice an improvement in the way I walk and run (even without the shoes on!) so I'm hooked. My running shoes feel so bulky and uncomfortable now after wearing my "toe shoes" all day. I think the best part of the shoes though, has to be the reaction I get from all the kids at my pool. Here's the kind of stuff I hear all day long:
    • "What's wrong with your feet/shoes?"
    • "Mommy can I get some?!"
    • "WOAH!"
    • "How do you put those on?!"
    • "Do they make those in kid sizes?"
    • "WEIRD!"
  • I signed up for another Disney race! I've talked with my family a lot and decided I'll be doing the Walt Disney World 2012 Half Marathon. I can't even begin to describe how amazing my first runDisney experience was at the Princess Half Marathon in February (2011). If you're considering running your first half marathon (or marathon or even 5k), DEFINITELY choose a Disney one. And better yet, make it the 2012 WDW one so we can all meet up! I'd love to meet up with bloggers and readers out there, and even commiserate about training online. I know it seems like an unreachable goal (if it's your first time), but you really can do it; and at Disney, you won't only do it, you'll have a little magic on the way! Why is it so great for beginners?
    • Distractions along the way to keep you from getting bored/giving up - hello Captain Jack Sparrow!
    • Newbie Friendly- no one cares if you're slow. I swear. 
    • Awesome Bling- if you are going that far for the first time, you REALLY want some nice bling to show off all day and Disney medals rock
    • Support - The support is off the wall at the race. Soooo many people and cast members cheering you on. 
    • Disney Magic - who doesn't love being a kid again? Not only are you running through Tomorrowland and down Main Street and through Cinderella Castle, but later or earlier that weekend you can play all day. We went with our medals to Epcot and got all kinds of special attention and magic thrown our way. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy National Running Day!

I have a lot of news to share today, but first let me start by saying thank you to everyone who participated in my virtual 5k. You guys are great!

Kayla, Cindi, Drew, My Mom, and I all ran the race and Karen even ran without hearing about the race! Congrats everyone!

Kayla in her bib!

And the winner of the giveaway is Kayla! So just send me an email with your address and I'll make sure you get your iTunes Card for some new running tunes!

In case you haven't all ready heard, today is National Running Day and I decided to celebrate, by taking the plunge into the barefoot running world and buying Vibram's Bikilas. I'm super excited. I plan to use them mostly for walking and maybe some short training runs, because I think it will help me to have better form while running, but for now I'm taking it easy and just wearing them around work and the house. I really like them so far but they definitely take some getting used to. I'll have a review up soon for you guys.

In addition to my exciting new kicks, I'm starting a 40 day challenge. Recently, one of the bloggers that I follow started a 40 day running challenge and asked others to join her.  The basic idea is that for 40 days you run. She chose to run at least 3 miles a day. Since I'm a lower mileage runner I'm choosing a one mile minimum per day. She also decided that if she gets injured or is too sore, she has to bike instead for the same length of time. Because I've got access to a pool, I'm going to make my injury replacement be swimming. I thought the idea was great because I've been slacking on running lately and thought that this would ensure I got out there and did some work! I'd love it if you joined in too, just feel free to comment away and let me know how your progress is going. I've never really run on consecutive days so I'm nervous but excited for the challenge.

Thanks again for entering my 5k, and soon I'll have a review of my new Vibrams and more news to share with you. I can tell this is going to be a great summer! Hope you have an awesome Runnning Day! Get out there and have some fun!