Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

I have to give Skinny Runner credit for recommending both of these. Thanks, Skinny Runner!

Thumbs Up

Zensah compression leg sleeves - I've been thinking about getting compression socks for a while. My shins tend to give me problems, so I figured compression socks or sleeves would help. The sleeves are like getting hugs from angels. They were so comfortable from the second I put them on that I almost wore them to Costco. Almost. I got the XS/S size. Perfect fit. My sports store had red and pink in stock in my size. I went with pink.

Kirkland Signature/Costco yoga tank - Attention Costco members. YOU MUST BUY THIS TANK. NOW. It is identical to Lululemon's cool racerback. Both shirts quickly wick sweat but don't feel wet. Both tanks stayed put on runs. The fabric gets softer after washing. I am convinced they are the exact same tank. Same feel. Same neckline. Same contrast stitching on the inside. Same smell. Same flat seams. Same fiber content. Same functionality. Except you can buy 3 Kirkland tanks for the price of 1 Lululemon tank.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Lululemon and Costco are in the same shopping center. As usual, I went to Lululemon right before I went to Costco. I came very very close to buying another cool racerback at Lululemon, but my wallet is glad I held out for Costco. A wicked good deal at $12.99. I got two.

Which one is the Kirkland Signature tank and which one is the Lululemon tank? The answer is at the bottom.


Also, I though this was a good place to stick in a dud product review.

Thumbs Down

Fuelbelt Wedge bottles - single Fuelbelt bottle designed to clip onto your waistband. Good idea in theory but poorly executed. I originally bought 2 to bring to Mardi Gras Marathon and attach to my Spibelt. At 2 am race day, I decided to scrap the clip-on bottles and go with my Fuelbelt. It was a smart decision. The clip-on bottles would have been a disaster. The cap leaks, I think because of the metal clip part. The clip is hard to work. The bottle is supposed to tuck inside your waistband with the clip on the outside. Maybe I just haven't gotten the hang of them, but I am not a fan.

The pinkish orange tank is the Kirkland Signature tank, in case you're curious.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Running Playlist All-Time Favorites

I've been running less with my iPod. In fact, it's been over 2 weeks with no music. It's been pleasant, actually. I am more social and more in tune with my thoughts and my body. Buuuuuut I'm not going to completely give it up. Pod Buddy is still coming along with me on treadmill runs, pace runs (maybe), long runs, and races.

I use a generic Running List most of the time. There is a lot of U2, Switchfoot, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Michael Jackson, Hanson The Bravery, Arcade Fire, New Wave 80s tunes, and girly pop songs. I made slightly different lists for each of my marathons. Sometimes the songs were location-specific. King of New Orleans worked for, well, New Orleans. There are some songs that I otherwise like but just do not want to hear during a marathon. Such as Misery by Maroon 5. Or Hard by Rihanna. Or Walk by Foo Fighters. No. I want positive messages and pump-me-up beats.

In no particular order, these are an eclectic bunch of songs that make it onto every running playlist. Some are new. Some are old. Some are random.

Billy Idol - Rebel Yell
U2 - Elevation, Beautiful Day, Pride, Magnificent, Get on Your Boots
Foo Fighters - Breakout, Monkey Wrench, Lonely as You
Cake - The Distance
Pearl Jam - The Fixer
Rihanna - Don't Stop the Music, Only Girl
Arcade Fire - Ready to Start, Power Out
Switchfoot - Meant to Live, We Are One Tonight, The Sound
Daft Punk - One More Time
Journey - Don't Stop Believin'
The Bravery - Fearless
Cascada - Evacuate the Dancefloor
Katy Perry - Firework
Usher - More
The Clash - Rock the Casbah
The Fray - Syndicate
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Paris
Hanson - If Only, Waiting for This
Ke$ha - Tik Tok, We R Who We R
Keane - Crystal Ball
Kings of Leon - Radioactive
Michael Jackson - Thriller, Beat It
Natasha Bedingfield - All I Need
R.E.M. - It's the End of the World as We Know It
Sugarhill Gang - Apache
Third Eye Blind - Can You Take Me

Marathon Training Week 3

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 6 mile long run. Stepback week #1. I like working hard, but I also secretly like stepback weeks. Just like I enjoy taper.

Sunday - Easy 40 minutes on the bike at the gym, plus a couple of planks. Those suckers are hard.
Monday - 3.5 mile run, plus abs, lower back, lunges with the exercise ball, and calf raises. Perfect running temps. I had to swap out a tank top for a T-shirt at the last minute.
Tuesday - 5.2 mile run. Planned a slightly different route than usual so that I could run along a river. I love that I have many options for running near water.
Wednesday - 3.6 mile run planned to finish at the gym, plus upper body exercises and squats (w/ an exercise ball and 2 12kg kettlebells), then a run-walk home. Humid. Intentionally nice and slow. Planks in the evening.
Thursday - Rest day. I did not feel so tired this week. Maybe it was the reduced mileage. Or lack of major league playoff games this week.
Friday - 5 mile run at marathon pace, plus pushups. Ended up going 20 seconds per mile faster than marathon pace. Oops. Better now than later. I kept trying to slow down but just went with it. That put me in the 5 mile race PR ballpark. Considering my 5 mile race PR was set on a flat course 2.5 years ago and my Friday run was not flat, I'll call it a win. This run was challenging, but nowhere near as challenging as essentially the same run on a treadmill.
Saturday - 6.2 mile long run. That is not a long run. But if that's what Hal Higdon told me to do, that's what I did. Cool and comfortable. Clip-on Fuelbelt bottles? Thumbs down. I still can't figure out how to work the clip, and I end up holding the bottle the whole time. The cap leaks. Good idea but poorly executed.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 22, Actual - 23.5

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


In honor of the first day of summer, these are my top 3 tastes of summer.

Black Bean and Corn salad - The lime basil vinaigrette makes this one. Although I've never tried it, the dressing by itself would be great on just about anything. Very flexible. I use mangoes or no mangoes. Fresh or frozen depending on what I have on hand. Fresh grilled or canned corn. Frozen edamame or not. Chick peas or kidney beans. Tastes better the next day. Likes to hang out in the fridge for up to a week.

Indian-Spiced Chicken Pita Pockets - I don't serve them in pita pockets because the pitas work just as well as vehicles for picking up all that delicious cucumber yogurt salad. I double the cucumber yogurt salad part and serve a salad on the side.

Caprese salad - Slice tomato and mozzarella. Add fresh basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Summer on a plate.

Happy Solstice!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Running in the Heat

Oh, look, more random tips that I've learned along the way.

1. Stay hydrated. Invest in a belt with bottles, stash a bottle along your route so you can pick it up on your way back, find public water fountains, or carry some cash so you can hop into a convenience store. Don't do what I did in my first 10 mile race. It was July. It was hot. I ran the whole thing without drinking any water during the race. I was fine during the race but was very very very dehydrated afterwards. Stupid and extremely unpleasant. Don't do it, people. You have been warned.
2. Start early. 5 or 6 am is not unreasonable. It will be cooler. The sun won't be as strong either.
3. Don't forget about humidity. It makes sweating less effective. Sweat doesn't evaporate as well and therefore doesn't cool you down.
4. Slow down. Very few records are broken in the heat.
5. Walk breaks are not evil. No, really. See point above about slowing down. Combine a walk break with a pitstop.
6. Accept that you will have some bad runs, especially as you learn how to handle the heat. It's part of the game. Runs don't always have to be fast or pretty. You don't always have to enjoy it. You just need to do it.
7. Be wary of chafing. The more you sweat, the more likely you will chafe. Body Glide is your friend.
8. Wear sunscreen. Lobsters only look good on your plate, not on your skin.
9. Hat vs. no hat. Eh, the jury is out on this one. Mostly, I think it's a personal preference. I don't notice a big difference between hat or no hat. The shade on my face is nice, though. Choose a light-colored wicking hat if you go this route.
10. Wear sunglasses. Save the energy you'd use squinting to power your legs. This one is a personal preference too. Some people like hats. Some people like sunglasses. Some people like both.

Also, I don't have a specific tip about fuel/replacing electrolytes and sodium (because preferences and needs vary so much from person to person). But make sure you think about it and find what works for you.

Happy running!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Favorite (Only in Rhode Island) Things

Del's Lemonade - Frozen lemony summer goodness with real lemon pieces. Available at stores, trucks, and carts around the state. Tastes best without a straw.
coffee milk - Pour a couple spoonfuls of Autocrat coffee syrup into milk and you have Rhode Island's official state drink. Or use it in place of chocolate syrup on ice cream.
Mr. Potato Head - Hasbro, the company that makes Mr. Potato Head, is based in Rhode Island
Waterfire - The rivers in Providence light up with bonfires several times throughout the summer and fall.
Newport Mansions - The Breakers is the granddaddy of the Newport mansions and would be my choice if you could only see one. My favorite is Rosecliff because I like the rose garden.
Cliffwalk - A 3.5 mile public path running along the water behind most of the Newport mansions.
Slater Mill - Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. DH is a lifelong Rhode Islander and had only recently gone to Slater Mill for the first time. We had a fantastic tour guide.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Marathon Training Week 2

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile run, and 9 mile long run. Still pretty much a regular running week.

The heel/foot/ankle pain is still there, but it's getting better and I think I discovered the root of the worst of it. My shoe rubs against the inside of my ankle the wrong way. So I have been liberally Body Gliding that part of my ankle. Poof. Much better.

I'm also trying to run less with Pod Buddy (iPod) and just go out with Rhody G (Garmin). What? You don't come up with nicknames for your electronics? It's more friendly without headphones. I say hello and talk to people more. I see the same people on one of my usual routes just about every day.

I found a mistake in Hal Higdon's intermediate 1 plan for this week. The schedule on the website says 3 miles for Friday (well, Saturday in the plan, because I shifted the entire plan by one day). The detailed weekly plan says 5 miles. It should be 5 miles. 3 miles just didn't make sense.

Sunday - yoga class, plus lunges with the exercise ball
Monday - 3.7 mile run, plus core work
Tuesday - 5 mile run
Wednesday - 3.8 mile run, most of it with my mother-in-law. Calibrated her Nike+ off of Rhody G. Planned my run so that I ended at the gym, did some upper body exercises and then ran-walked home. Did one-leg squats, calf raises, and a couple of planks in the evening.
Thursday - rest day
Friday - 5 mile run, plus pushups. Planned to run around campus after work because I haven't done that in a long time. But then realized I had plans in the evening and had to run in the morning instead. It worked out for the best. The weather forecast predicted showers and thunderstorms all day, but it was dry in the morning. As an added bonus, I ran into 2 of my running buddies. Just when I needed it.
Saturday - 9.1 mile run. It was sucky. Combo of not fueling and hydrating properly the day before, starting too late, heat/humidity, not hydrating/getting enough electrolytes during the run, and stomach issues. Made it a little more than 6 miles before taking a walk break. Whatever. I kept telling myself that it didn't need to be fast or pretty. It just needed to be done. Eeked out a reasonable pace. Had a difficult recovery. My stomach was very unsettled. Felt better once I got enough food and water/coconut water in my stomach.

So far so good, but I still have 16 weeks to go. I need to get more sleep. You hear that, self? Go to bed earlier. Also, I need to pay attention to what I eat. You hear that, stomach? Please stop rumbling. It's too early in this training cycle to be constantly hungry.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 25, Actual - 26.6

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Running in the Rain

The weather was rainy and unseasonably cool last week. I'll take unseasonably cool. I'll even take the rain. The weather is back to normal now. I think. That's New England for you.

Once you commit to a training plan, you just do it. Good weather or bad weather doesn't matter. You're out there. Well, except for ice and thunderstorms. That's where I draw the line. You learn how to prepare.

Here are some tips on how to run in the rain:

1. No cotton. Especially socks. Water + cotton socks = recipe for blisters.
2. No loose clothing. Running skirts do not function well in the rain. Nor do very long or baggy shirts. They get weighed down when they get wet.
3. Technical/wicking fabric is your friend. It dries quickly.
4. Wear a hat or visor. The brim will keep the water out of your face.
5. Be careful with your electronics. Garmins are usually water-resistant, but phones and iPods are not. Leave them home or protect them with a sandwich or zip-lock bag. Yes, the scroll wheel on an iPod works through a plastic bag.
6. You still need to stay hydrated. Don't forget to drink.
7. It takes some trial and error to figure out how to dress appropriately. Summertime rain = pleasant. Rain + wind/cold = uncomfortable.
8. Running in the rain is really not that bad once you get past "I'm wet and my socks are squishy." Try it and you'll see.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fun with Rhody G

I have really been enjoying my Garmin Forerunner. Especially the maps. This is a partial map of my run on Saturday. One of my favorite runs crosses two bridges.

Look! The red line is where I ran. I don't need a bridge. I can run over water!


What you can't see from the road map is that I was on a pedestrian bridge next to a highway. The bridge is not a road, so it doesn't show up on the map. Silly Garmin. Darn. I thought I had super human powers.

Here's the map again with a road/aerial hybrid view. The pedestrian bridge shows up now, although it looks like I still didn't run on it.


Maybe I do have super human powers ;-)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Marathon Training Week 1

I took 16 days off running after marathon #2. Then had 3 weeks to get my base miles back into the 20ish mile range.

Training for the Chicago Marathon started this week. I picked Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 plan. I've used HH's novice 1 plan twice (well, one and a half times because I had 10 weeks between marathon #1 and #2 and picked up halfway through the plan for marathon #2). It worked out well for my first 2 marathons. My goal was to finish in under 4 hours. I did that twice. Now my goal is to qualify for Boston. I picked the intermediate plan because it has more miles and it also has longish/hard run the day before a long run. That gives you practice at running on tired legs.

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 8 mile long run. That sound more like a regular old running week than a marathon training week. But I will take it while I can. Just consider it an extended marathon recovery.

Sunday - ran a wee bit to calibrate my Nike+ sensor, yoga class at the gym
Monday - early morning 3.7 mile run, plus calf raises. First run after recalibrating my Nike+. It was almost spot on compared to a map. Then came home to a Garmin!!
Tuesday - 5.5 mile run with both Nike+ and Garmin. I'm liking this Garmin business.
Wednesday - 3.7 mile run, plus upper body exercises and a walk home from the gym. Really really liking this Garmin business now that I have it set up for mile splits. Did some core work and lunges in the evening while I caught up with my DVR.
Thursday - rest day
Friday - 5 mile pace run plus some pushups. Chose the treadmill over going outside because it has been a long time since I've tried to run at a particular pace. Set the treadmill to 7.5 mph (8:00 pace) and let the belt pace me. All I had to do was keep up. Not impossible but I'm not going to lie. It was challenging.
Saturday - 8.2 miles completed before 8am. I had decided the day before to run with just the Garmin and no iPod, which turned out to be a smart move because it was rainy. It didn't rain the whole time, but there were some heavy showers. It was a really nice run. Not having music let me tune into my thoughts. It's been a long time since that has happened on a run.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 24, Actual - 26.1

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My new toy

I've used Nike+ for nearly 3 and a half years to track my runs. It was the best Christmas present of 2007. I was sold after using it twice. It was reasonably accurate out of the box. It gave me extra motivation and accountability. I ran with my iPod anyway. It had a slick website with a mini me. The more I ran, the more active the mini me was. I can go back and look at all of my runs since January 2008.

As much as I have gotten tremendous value out of Nike+, I just got a Garmin 305. Reasonably accurate wasn't cutting it anymore. I calibrated my Nike+ sensor recently, which improved the accuracy a lot. There was a very small margin of error (2%) between Nike+ and Garmin distances when I took both devices out on the same run. But I think I have outgrown Nike+. The Garmin is better for where I want to go with my training/running. Accuracy aside, the Garmin provides so much more data. Such as mile splits, elevation, maps, and more info on pace. The display is bigger and can be customized to show the data I want. My not-so-secret inner data diva is pleased.

Oh, I will not completely abandon Nike+. I alternate between the treadmill and outside, so I will still use it on the treadmill. Although Garmin's website is more useful, Nike+'s website is more fun. There is a way to add Garmin runs to the Nike+ website (not automatic but fairly easy to export the Garmin run, convert it with a website, and upload it to Nike+), plus my running history is on Nike+. And so I will continue to track my runs on Nike+.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood - Part II

I had a big rant about how Nike+ is no longer meeting my needs for accuracy. All I had to do to improve accuracy was recalibrate it. The last time I calibrated it was 10/9/09. Oops.

To calibrate it, you need to run a known distance. This is where a track come in handy. Off I went the other day to the track outside of McCoy Stadium, the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, aka the Paw Sox. Not the greatest track, but it met my needs. Since there were no markings, I used a water bottle to mark my finish line. Running by the stadium was fun. I will be back.

Don't know of any tracks in your area? Here's a tip. Google Maps is your friend. The nice thing about tracks is that they are big ovals on aerial maps. This is also useful if you need a track while you are traveling. I had a couple of nice runs in San Juan, Puerto Rico because I found a rubbery track in a community park. A word to the wise, though. Some tracks are fenced off and not accessible (like the middle school track in the area where I used to live), and some are closed because of varying states of disrepair (like my first attempt at finding a track in my neighborhood).

Did I mention how fun the Paw Sox are? Nice stadium that holds about 10,000 people. Grassy spectator area near the outfield. Easier and less expensive to get to than Boston. More family-friendly. $20 will get you a good ticket to the game and lunch/dinner. It's fairly common for members of the Boston Red Sox to play for Pawtucket when they are rehabbing from injuries. Jason Varitek, the catcher for the Boston Red Sox, made an appearance at the last Paw Sox game I went to.

McCoy Stadium from the track

Paw Sox Mascot

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

You never know what you will run into. Literally run into. Today, I ran into one thing I knew about and one thing I didn't know about.

1. Girls on the Run is coming to Rhode Island. They had their first fun run on the path where I usually run. I am going to have to look into it.



2. The farmers market is back! It runs year-round in two locations. Nov-May is in an old mill. June-Oct is in a park walking distance from my house. So this weekend was the first market back in the park. I am drooling thinking about squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and corn later in the summer.


My run went sooooo much better than last weekend. It was much cooler and not humid. I didn't have to stop, except briefly to let bikers cross a pedestrian bridge. Then I cooled down, showered, and walked to the farmers market. Brought my big canvas tote bag and a homemade iced coffee. Didn't need much. Bought some rainbow chard. Stopped for a mango lassi at an Indian restaurant for my walk home.

Farmers market in progress

The fountain in the park was rededicated and turned on today for the first time in 29 years. I caught the rededication ceremony.

Angel Taveras, mayor of Providence

Hello, fountain

Girls Fight Back E-Party

Girls Fight Back is turning 10 years old. Never heard of Girls Fight Back? It is an organization that gives workshops and motivational talks about self-defense. Erin Weed, the founder of Girls Fight Back, came to my college campus in the spring of 2003. She was amazing and empowering. There are people who let tragedy define them and then there are people who let tragedy refine them. She is one of those people who took a tragedy and turned it into something good.

In related news, there was a rape on the bike path where I used to run. Recently. While there are some very isolated stretches of that bike path (there is a good mile through woods and swamp), this incident occurred in one of the most populated sections. The details haven't been fully released. It wasn't clear if it was random or not random, what time of day it happened, or exactly where it was. I haven't heard any more about it in a few days. In any case, it is a reminder to be cautious and be smart. Not to change what you do but to be aware of your surroundings.

Maybe one day we won't need Girls Fight Back. But until then, keep pressing on.

Happy 10th Birthday, Girls Fight Back!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

National Running Day - Rock N Roll onward

The Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon hosted a fun run near my house in honor of National Running Day. Perfect. I am running RnR Providence. The weather was threatening. There was a severe thunderstorm watch and tornado warning. My plan was to show up and go to the gym (also near my house) if it got cancelled.

Rock N Roll tent

At the beginning, the weather looked OK. It wasn't too rainy for the first half. And then the clouds opened. I got soaked. It's been a long time since I've ran in the rain. I actually like the rain. As long as you know about it, aren't wearing loose clothing, have a hat or visor, and protect your electronics, you'll be fine.

I got a Rock N Roll Providence T-shirt and $10 gift certificate to PF Changs. Thanks, Rock N Roll!