Thursday, April 21, 2011

I REALLY want to do this race!!

In my 12 years of triathlon I never knew such a race existed, and I am so intrigued by it.  1.5 miles of swimming, 25 miles on the bike, 13 miles of running (trail running!) broken up into 10 segments.  You have to carry your swimming stuff while you run, and your running shoes with you in your suit or a dry bag around your waist while you swim, love it!

The race is in Michigan, and just so happens my twin sister lives in Michigan and I've only been out to see her once, and haven't taken my kids at all.  I am very much tempted to go out and see her and sneak this race in as well.  Check it out!

They also give away two slots to this SOS race in New York.  I think it's a championship race of this kind of race.  Some serious climbing on the bike and run and sounds like just crystal clear mountain lakes.  Here are a couple former participants race reports from SOS, here, here Watch out husband, I may have found a new fetish to add to the plate  :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Salt Lake Marathon

Ouch.  That's how it went.  Ok, that's not entirely true, here's the run down in short.  Rode a completely stuffed trax train up to the start.  It was bad, must've taken 30 minutes, and it was SO hot in there I thought I was going to puke, we were completely shoulder to shoulder in there and this obnoxious kid decided to push in on a later stop and I had to listen to him yak for the next 20 minutes, uhg.  Anyway, made it up with only about 15 minutes before the start and ran right to a bathroom with a huge line, knew I didn't want to start without one last pit stop and I knew the bathrooms would be busy in the first few miles, and I knew I don't like to stop and didn't have much time to spare.  Fortunately I got in and out while putting on my sock's and watch and took my layers off and had about 3 minutes to hurry and get everything else in/out of my morning bag I needed, run to the bag drop, and stand in line.
Gun went off, took about 3 minutes walking to cross the start line then another 2 to start running, was kind of frustrating.  It was cool to be around 5,000+ other people, but made it really hard for the first 2-3 miles to navigate around them.  I felt good the first half, and the miles seemed to go by quickly.

Hit 13.1 at 1:45 and while I was hoping it'd be closer to 1:40, oh well, I was still feeling good.  Running along a few miles later top of my foot was bugging me again where I tied my key into my laces, so as much as I detest stopping, I stopped at the side of the road, fumbled with the laces, got the key out, fumbled to retie them (it was weird how my hand function was a bit impaired) and took off again.  I had been watching this one lady in front of me for the last 4 miles and had hoped to keep her in my sights as she looked strong.  She obviously got a little on me with that stop, but I could still see her.  Ended up making up time on her and beating her by 20 seconds at the end I think.  It was kind of a motivator like, "hey if she looks strong, maybe that means I do too".  I know, I know, but I don't think of myself in an elitist way.  So wandering along about mile 16 and the left quad/hip flexor start tightening up or filling with lactic acid, not sure which, and I thought 'uh oh' but kept on.  The other leg joined in by mile 18, and my pace slowed to 8:30-9:00 at times despite my efforts to keep it faster.  I wasn't really fatigued per say, my lungs got a little tight which was wierd, and thankfully my nutrition was fine, but those legs, when they tighten up there's not much to do but keep on running and make it to the finish.  I got a little ancy about the miles going slowly in the 20's, but by the time we turned onto State and hit 24.2, that was nice, knowing I had "a mile and", I think like that a lot.  Worked the uphill to my best, and the downhill to my best, and kept my eyes peeled for the final turns and finish  :)
Myself, Steve who ran a 3:15, and Neil who ran his first marathon
The finish line was ok, a lot of people, but no one was really cheering when I went through  :(  I saw 2 spectators that I knew while I was running.  It was fun to see others out cheering for their families, but it was kind of hard not having anyone there for me too.  Oh well.  I focused on the race.  I did get to see 2 coworkers Steve and Neil (who I shared some First Endurance Liquid Shot with when I passed the poor guy at mile 20 who hadn't had any calories besides powerade at aid stations), and I also got to meet up with good friend and 84 time marathoner Jonathan.  We ironically ran races 2 seconds apart in total time, but never saw each other on the course, darn!  It was nice to have a good hug at the end.  Thanks Jonathan!

So I came away in 3:36.08, a 1 minute PR.  And I wasn't super excited about the time or the race the first couple days, and I think that's because it really hurt a lot.  Ironman hurt a lot too, but not like this, IMSG zapped all the energy out of me by the end, but didn't leave me in pain at the end like a marathon does.  I knew I was going into this marathon under trained and that it would hurt, but I was hoping I was in good enough shape, those tight legs wouldn't come into play till the last 6, not the last 10.  It wasn't an easy race for me, it was tough.  But I should, and am getting toward a more positive feeling toward the race just thinking that hey, it's another marathon under my belt (#4), and a PR despite under training, and despite the legs slowing down earlier than they did the last time I ran a marathon.  At least I still ran through that which was mentally and physically challenging and managed to pull off a PR when I thought I'd be on track for a 3:40 something finish.  1:45 first half feeling reasonably well, 1:51 second half feeling a lot of leg pain.  Not too bad I guess   :)  Thanks to all the friends who were kind enough to say something since the race.  I don't want to come off all negative, and your words have helped me to remember the good in the race.  I have been awfully sore since the second I finished, taking a good 20 minutes walking barefoot to the car when it should have taken me 10 or less, having to have my kids help me up out of a chair or off the floor or out of bed, not being able to carry my kids up the stairs because I need all the upper body strength to pull myself up and down the railing, but as a good friend reminded me, I guess I just left it all out on the course, and that's a good thing, something I'll take.

Some more thoughts about the race:  The course is very urban which is cool because you have a ton of residents out watching in their yard, but the scenery was lacking at times too.  It's not my favorite full marathon course, but I wouldn't mind trying the half, think it looks faster and just better overall.  But along the way I was mistaken for my twin sister twice from people who knew her in high school, passed a guy with a full KISS face paint, passed another gentleman with a soft serve ice cream machine in his front yard (yeah, sorry buddy, I'm not taking ice cream at mile 7, it was a nice gesture though), and passed another guy dressed in green tights and a green tank top with a huge yellow flower pedal thing around his neck.  That's one thing I don't quite get, why so many costumes lately, so many tutus in regular races?  I get it in a Halloween or costume race, but think it's kind of strange otherwise, but to each is own.  Oh yeah, also saw 5 or 6 guys with tight jeans and short sweaters out hitting cowbells along the course, you know like Will Farrel's "more cowbell" skit on SNL?  Humorous and nice of them to come out and support.

So here's what worked about the race:
Nutrition - used First Endurance Liquid Shot (mixed half the new berry flavor with half the vanilla flavor, liked it a lot) and took a serving every 4.5ish miles starting at mile 5.  Also carried a flask of Coke with me and sipped on it between 17 and 23 miles.  Next time I will make sure it's more flat and will carry it in a belt or something.  I don't mind holding flasks, but that one got me a little bit sticky as it would fizz.
Shoes - wore my Altra Intuitions for their first marathon.  Really liked having my toes spread out, think it kept my feet out of pain, and so far no black toe nails.  Loved how well it held my heel into place, and love how long I was able to keep good form (most of the marathon).  That zero drop is good stuff, I tell ya.
Blister help - so I got a blasted blister on my heel from some shoes 2 days before the race, nice timing I know.  Was worried about it as my Altra's rubbed it and the last thing I wanted was to suffer through that all morning.  Used these Nexcare Comfort Fabric Brights Assorted Bandages and they were great!  Stretchy so held on well, a nice pad, and breathable.  It didn't move at all under my CEP's.  Great help.
Socks - CEP's.  Love em, don't run long without em.  These are totally something you can experiment with on race day and they won't hurt you.  I just really like the help and support I feel like they give during the race, and have made my calves the least sore part of my lower body since the race.
Jersey - Ran in a new top from Freemotion, a partner company with Altra.  Just enough support for me, loved the movement that came from the thin straps, no chafing at all, and a long top, never worried it was creeping up to show my mama tummy.  Nice and thin too, just really well built.  Also had a cute new sweat/head band I wore.  I kind of look like a cancer patient in it but it's all good.

Here's what didn't work out so great:

Shorts - So while I know and tell people you never try anything new on race day, I was an idiot and tried new shorts on race day.  They were Zoot Compression Tri shorts I just got.  I had hoped they would help the leg pain I'm used to getting that last hour.  Wore them on a 3 mile run the week of the race to try them and loved the support they gave my legs (and did on the marathon too, very nice), but come race day they chafed me something fierce, and not where I was expecting.  I have run in tri shorts during races and some training for 12 years, I have never had this problem running, but basically they didn't sit right on my lady parts and rubbed me RAW.  Like light bleeding raw.  Hurt during the race, tried pulling them down a little, didn't help.  They had a plush fleece pad, part of the reason I thought they'd be great, but something wasn't right I guess.  Came home from the race, used the bathroom, and lets just say yelled out pretty loud, it is pretty bad.  Trying to wear as many loose pants/skirts as I can to let air heal things up.  The negative things said, I did like how high they were on my belly and back, felt like good core support and held in what pudge (yes there's some) I have.  They weren't too hot on my legs, but I don't know that I could handle them in hot conditions unless I get them wet at aid stations.  I'll not retire the shorts all together due to the chafing, but I'll cycle in them fine and run in them WITH something underneath them.  I obviously got pretty pained during the race but I don't know whether to say that means they didn't do their job or not, it's still a long way to run on the road and if there are any shorts out there that take all that pain away, someone better tell me!  Although I suspect they don't exist  :)
Music - So I did end up taking and using music.  Put it in at mile 10 I think, earlier than I thought, but I was getting bored.  Just no one to talk to and not a super amazing scenery course.  I liked the music, but by the time my legs started hurting, it was hard to not be able to run fast to the good songs like I do in faster training. It kept my mind a bit busy and I still tried to focus on spectators, but I think it would be more fun with legs or a race that would allow me to run faster.
The pics - Silly I know, but I looked pretty pooped in some of the pictures and made some pretty lame faces in others .  Also couldn't get a stinkin photographer to take a pic of my shoes, I asked like 3 times (most of the weird faces are them catching me asking) and they all just laughed at me.  I would have bought a good close up, oh well.

So that's that.  I got to do marathon #4, it was a great day with great overcast cool weather, my body stayed healthy in the regards to stomach issues and the head pain I get sometimes, no dizziness, no seeing stars (I prayed the night before and morning of that my body would be well during the race, and that's what I was looking for, no scary head stuff).  I've had great help from my mom brothers and my mother in law and friends watching the kids for me so I can go to work and get this second workout of the week in.  Going to take a few weeks off running now and get back on my bike and back in the pool.  It's been way too long for both.  We'll see what I can finally figure out in the way of future races too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I need your help

So my husband left on Saturday for a shoe store visiting/selling road trip eventually stopping in Boston for the Boston Marathon Expo with Altra and won't be back till next week.  Now I've kept my sanity fairly well so far, gotten a bit of housework done, fed the kids at least twice a day, you know, relative success ;), and made it to work on time thanks to Grandma's and neighbors.  But I haven't gotten much training in.  So what does one do when their other half isn't here to allow workouts?  You taper!  :)

Yep, signed up for the Salt Lake City Marathon that's in 2 days  :)  I've been picking my long runs up since I recovered from our December loss (that was for sanity sake), and wanted something resembling epic since Ironman isn't in the books for this year.  Anyway, here's where your help comes in.  I don't race with music, never have.  Don't want to get sucked into it and away from the atmosphere and it's illegal in triathlon, so why get hooked on it and then have withdrawals during races?  But do I love to workout with music?  YES!  Well, road races such as a marathon don't ban music, and a marathon is a long way to run.  And while I'm probably somewhat sufficiently trained (undertrained, but that's always better than over), me thinks it's still gonna hurt pretty good those last 6-10 miles and as I'm sure you've figured out, I'm a competitive person and still want to do well; I am not going out just to loaf 26.2 miles (that just doesn't sound fun...but apparently pain does :)  So I wouldn't put the earbuds in till at least the half way point and it would be a fun distraction from the pain and probably help my pace, but am I then going to always need music to beat that time if it's a PR?  Do the survey on my sidebar and tell me what you think.  Thanks!!

Oh and stay tuned for a good multi winner giveaway of one of my favorite most heavily used products coming on Friday if I can get around to it  :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Let me present...

possibly the world's greatest running shoe (trainer at least right now) and company.  I've mentioned it before, but our family is intimately connected (LOL, the guys I work with are going to laugh at that after last night's staff meeting) with Altra Running, a revolutionary new running shoe company making natural footwear everyone can wear.  Altra is also a company that cares about you and your enjoyment of running and I think the story behind Altra Running is pretty neat.

They will come out with 3 models this year.  The Adam/Eve which is a truly barefoot shoe with only a few millimeters under your foot will come out around June.  The ultimate in flexibility, and low to the ground, but NO separate toes which means less rubbing and the ability to wear whatever sock you want, as well as letting the toes spread out naturally, not defined by the pockets they're in.  A great strengthening and form technique tool!
Then there will be the Lone Peak coming out later this summer.  It is a trail shoe for those people who run real trails, real gnarly stuff.  A rock plate sandwiched in just the right place in the shoe offering you cushioning from sharp rocks below the plate and above it next to your foot.  Even a trail rudder on the back giving a graceful nod back to the first trail running shoes.
But today I want to talk about the road shoe, the Instinct and Intuition, which just came out last week and is selling fast and is in stores around the country as well as online through Altra or your favorite tri shop Powertri

I've run in this shoe since last year and I have to say my boys at Altra really know what they're doing and really care about what they're doing and what they make.  Let's go through what makes Altra's shoes different, shall we?  First of all they are Zero Drop.  This is a term that Altra coined meaning there is zero differential between how far off the ground your heel and toe are when in the shoe.  Most running shoes are built on a 2:1 ratio, meaning about 24mm under your heel, 12mm under the ball of your foot.  Thankfully some shoes companies have started lowering that drop getting as low as 4-6mm, but Altra went all the way to true zero.
Why do I need Zero Drop you ask?  To run with better form in order to avoid injury, to run faster, and to run easier.  Research is finally catching up to show everyone that landing midfoot under your body with a bent knee allows healthy shock absorption.  It also then prepares your body to spring off those bent legs and power forward where as landing on your heel puts the brakes on and makes you pull with the hips and IT Band and roll over that leg in front of you.  Heel striking also sends all the impact into your joints (also NOT a good thing, this is why running can be hard on knees).  If I were to tell you to jump as high as you can and land on your heels would you?  I wouldn't, it'd hurt!  Point taken?  Off your heels people!
But it's not necessarily people's fault for running heel-toe.  Sure some people encourage it (not sure why), but for the most part, your typical running shoes don't really give you a lot of choice.  A big heel is physically the first thing that can hit the ground in typical running shoes unless you run on your toes (talk about blowing your calves up quick, DON'T run on your toes) because there is a ramp angle to the shoes.  It's virtually impossible to land flat footed because there is no flat mid section of your foot while in the shoes.  With Altra shoes though, they got the heel out of the way so you can land midfoot and save yourself a lot of pain and energy.

Next is the gender specific foot shaped last.  A last is basically the mold they use to make the sole of the shoe.  Go look in your closet at your running shoes.  Are most of them pointed or tapered in at the toes?  Yep, that's how running shoes have been made up until now.  Now look down at your toes.  Anyone's toes pointed in the middle?  Ok maybe some interesting folks out there, but in general, no, our feet are rounded at the toes.  So logically, Altra rounded the toe box allowing your toes to splay (spread) out absorbing more shock, stabilizing your foot from rolling in excessively, and giving you more to push off of going forward.  Have you ever thought about that, what an important role our big toe plays?  Some pronation is normal, truly excessive pronation can need help, but not how we typically think.  It's not this grey EVA foam that we stick inside shoes that should stop pronation, it's our big toe that should be assisting.  By allowing the big toe to spread out in a shoe, we stabilize and stop that excessive rolling in.  I was just educated in that lesson on pronation a couple weeks ago by my dear cofounder husband, and I think it's pretty cool!  And speaking of pronation, another thing Altra did was to not have a deep arch cut out.  By allowing more shoe under our arches, it also helps support the foot (not command the foot like stability shoes do) and assist the big toe in stabilizing any rolling in at the landing.  Ladies, you've noticed how it's easier to stumble and roll and ankle in in high heels versus flats right?  Right.  And finally, the gender specific part.  Most shoe companies "pink it and shrink it", don't you love that phrase? I do.  They make a men's last narrower and shorter, and add some feminine colors.  Problem with that is anatomically, women's feet are a different shape than men's feet.  Women have more of a triangle shaped foot, men, more of a rectangular shaped foot.  Women have a narrower heel, smaller instep, higher arch, different metatarsal placement, and shorter toes.  So Altra took this too into account and makes all their women's shoes, every single model, off a completely different last than that men's.

A couple other things to mention are the heel claw, the way the heel of the shoe is built it really holds you in so that while you do have a big toe box, you absolutely don't slide forward in it.  It's really noticeable, I like it a lot.  And then there's the asymmetrical lacing.  The laces are not on the center of your foot but offset a little to to the inside and at an angle so to take off pressure of the top of your foot.  It will be more pronounced in the future, but even now it's helping me alleviate that pain my Kinvara's gave me last week.  Finally, most EVA (white foam) that is used in shoes and inserts eventually breaks down 70-90%.  That's why we get new shoes, the foam flattens and doesn't give any more.  Altra uses this amazing stuff called A-bound in the insoles as well as the foam at the top of the shoe, right next to your foot, and get this, it compresses a remarkable 7-9% !  That means that even when the bottom and midsoles have broken down over time and it's time for a new pair, you'll still have some cushion and give directly under your foot.  Sweet!

So I've told you all about most of the technology behind the shoes, now lets meet the Altra Intuition.  This is the female road shoe, a trainer if you will, but of course you could race in it if you wanted.  It's 8.1oz making it lighter than many trainers out there.  10mm off the ground at the heel and at the toe means you've got the feeling of a barefoot shoe to help your form thanks to the Zero Drop, but you've got the cushioning of a trainer.  That is what makes the Intinct and Intuition unlike ANY other shoe out there.  Zero Drop AND cushioning!  It really is the shoe for any runner I think and virtually any conditions.  I've taken this on the road, on grass, on the trails, and it's done fine on the them all.  I've run a road marathon in them, won a trail half marathon in them, and I race triathlons barefoot in them (took me about a month of normal wear with socks to break in the heel for barefoot use, not it's just dandy, if the heel rubs you at all wear a band aid on your Achilles for a few weeks)

Now before we go any farther, you must know that there is a transition period to Altra footwear, and they have it spelled out very simply and specifically on their site for runners new to a lower drop, and runner's who have experience with a lower drop shoe. Unless you've been running in true Zero Drop shoes (which have only just come out in the last 6 months, and most of them still have a 1-2 mm drop if you include the insole) you'll need to take 1-4 weeks to transition into being able to wear your Altra's full time. See with traditional running shoes your Achilles doesn't have to stretch and your calf doesn't get to explode and be used as much. But with Altra shoes, your Achilles has the chance to get lower and then help spring you back up and forward and your calves play a bigger role too. So for those first few weeks you'll likely notice some soreness there and need to pay attention to that. You can increase your frequency and distance in them as that goes away. The transition period is just the time needed to strengthen those Achilles and calves to be able to support your new and improved running form. It will be worth it though, I assure you! Please please remember the transition period. Too many people threw on Vibram 5 finger shoes and got really really sore or even hurt because they were cool and the hype and so runners of any and all ability threw them on and ran like they've always run without any guidance how to make that drastic switch. The Altra road and trail shoes won't be as drastic a transition as the Adam and Eve will be, but still deserve your attention.

Alright, here are some pics:

The pretty swirly heel

The sole.  Love the metatarsal placement and design and if you look close you'll see tiny flowers in the background

The way I traditionally laced my shoes, I don't think the extra non-laced space is necessary in the Altra's though with their foot shaped forefoot.  I'll be re-lacing mine into the standard way they come.  It is helpful for a person with one foot wider or longer than another though.

All Altra's come with two sets of insoles, one very flat and flexible to strengthen your arches (blue), and one to support your arches for people who are used to and want more support (pink).  I'm also so excited about the printing in the box.  My hubby designed it and I had no idea till the first shipment came in last week, great job babe!  Every box also comes with a 8 page guide to the shoes, how to wear them, transition, LTR, the Altra story, etc

Another view of the insoles.  A unique option in running shoes, 2 sets of insoles that come with the shoes.
Learn to Run, Love to Run, Live to Run!
ETA:  You can read a report of the Salt Lake City Marathon where I wore the Intuition's here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great tri and running clinic Saturday!

Hey check out this clinic you Utah locals, some really great people feeding you I'm sure some really great info.  They are dividing it into running people and tri people as well as beginner, intermediate, advanced, so you have lots of choices.  Lecture and hands on training on everything sport including training, yoga, nutrition, weight training, race tactics, attire, it'll be good!  $35 gives you 7 hours of info AND lunch.  Check it out!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Strange sightings

So I think I'm training for a marathon.  That's right, think.  I'm back to my active self, but still don't have a race season nailed down and haven't been terribly motivated to do so.  Don't know if that's because we've been really busy lately with kids and life and Altra, or because maybe we'll have another kid and I'm not letting myself get too used to the idea of racing.  Who knows.

 Anyway, because I think I'm training for a marathon I've been running a lot lately.  My bike was out for an entire 5 weeks and I rode the other bike on the trainer maybe 5 times, and it showed at Icebreaker this year.  Boo!!  That's what I get for not cycling I guess.  It was hard to not feel fast, to feel like I didn't have any power, to feel like I didn't uphold people's thoughts that were so confident in me and sweet, saying things before the race to the effect of I was going to win.  But anyway, I've been enjoying running, so that's what I've been doing.  Started building my long runs up from about 8 miles back in January and have run a 14, 16, 18, and today 20 since then.

I won't lie, the 20 hurt.  I felt ok the first 8 or so on a new canal road route I found - I love canal roads by the way, dirt which is better for the joints, quiet, no cars, very nice.  Then while thinking about how great this new canal road was I found and how I'd gone a whole 8 miles without a gate or fence or anything, this comes along:
That's right, bulls
 Kind of funny eh?  Must have been low on calories or hot or something (it was SO warm today (I ran Thursday), I was literally too warm the entire run in my shorts and tank top) because I just kind of stopped and stared at the sign and pondered what to do for like 2 minutes.  Decided not to chance it as I could see a gate on the other side and I was definitely going to have to climb over it, so went onto the street and ran a chunk of road till I could turn around. 
I ran with a tailwind to start which I never like doing, but I figured "I'm running, not on a bike, how bad could it be?"  Answer:  not horrible, but not so much fun.  My legs did fine, I've been battling some piriformus irritation and some weird stiff sore knees, but they didn't bug me during the run, the lactic acid didn't really build up (till I was done and walking home anyway, then Jer told me I looked like an old woman, it was true, and my muscles have been so sore and tender/DOMS since), but ironically the top of my foot hurt the whole time, like my shoe was laced too tight or had a rock in it or something, but no, nothing wrong.  I've been running in my Kinvara's for a while, waiting for my new pair of Intuitions to come in this week (I've had a pair to wear over the last year, but I've had to share them a bit), and I'm definitely tired of the Kinvara's and welcoming back the Zero Drop Intuitions.  Can't wait!  They really are an amazing shoe.

So carrying on, I finally refilled my bottles at 16 miles and that cold water tasted SO good!  On my way home I happened on some interesting graffiti.  A bit strange for sure
Believe in Life.  Why thank you gangsters for the uplifting message at mile 18  :)
Anyway, sorry, this is turning into way too long of a post to say "I ran 20 miles, it was hard, it was hot, it was windy, it was hard to keep going sometimes, my foot hurt, I ran into a bull warning sign as well as some positive graffiti and am now sore as they come"  Yes, that was much simpler  :)