Sunday, December 26, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 25

Training took a back seat this week. I know the race is just a couple weeks away. I did get a five mile run in, but then was hit with tragedy. My dog, Jake, passed away. He has been by my side for 14 years. I love and miss him so much. So instead of running, I am just taking some time to grieve, cry and adjust. I can't say I will be ready to run next week or at all for the next couple weeks. But honestly, the marathon just doesn't seem as important to me anymore.

Jake Polacek 

Rest in peace, sweet boy. I love and miss you immensely. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Motivation Arrives

The motivation and positivity just keep on coming. Yesterday, I received two more reminders about the upcoming 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon. First, this package arrived from Clif, one of the race sponsors.  It was a nice reminder that I need to get some gels/gummies for race day. 

Also, Disney emailed to give me my final race day instructions. Just seeing that phrase in the subject line spooked me. I can't believe the race is just three weeks away. The sad part is I really haven't had any motivation to run since completing my 20 miler. But I need to suck it up, put on my shoes and get out there. I can't lose momentum now, especially with all the motivation and well wishes coming my way lately.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 24

SUCCESS!!!! That is the word of the week. After two weeks of discomfort, pain and no running, I came back with three amazing training runs. More importantly, one of those runs was the big one - 20 miles. Yes, I completed my biggest training run to date. It was slow and took me almost 4 hours to complete, but I ran all 20 miles. No pain during and no soreness or stiffness the following day.

I am still in shock and awe of the accomplishment. This means training is essentially over. I still have to run a bit here and there, but nothing like I have been doing. Also, it reassured me that I can actually run this race. I needed that confidence boost. I was always doubtful about completing 26.2, but the injury made me doubt myself even more. Now, I know I will at least finish. I may not achieve my under 5 hour time goal. I may hit the wall and hate the last 6 miles. But again, I will run across that finish line.

Speaking of "the wall," I totally understand now why runners experience it. Once you get between miles 18-20 boredom sets in. The music on your iPod is no longer entertaining. The clarity in your head goes away and you start thinking "why am I doing this?" or "what else could I be doing right now?" The mental game then switches to coaxing yourself not to stop running. I just keep telling myself you'll get to the finish line quicker if you run instead of walk.

Thankfully after this week, I am kind of excited about the race. I am still a bit scared and nervous. I also can't believe it is just over three weeks away. But at least I can take comfort in the fact that I did everything I could to prepare, I will be there with my best friend and I have a lot of other friends and family who are supportive and know I can do this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Motivation Arrives

I think the tide may be starting to turn. I am beginning to get a little excited about the marathon again. Yesterday some motivation arrived in my inbox and mailbox.

First, I received an email asking me to print out my waiver. Sure, I have to basically sign my life away before running the race but it also included my bib number. Very exciting. I am #7742.

Then when I arrived home, I found this in my mailbox. It is my hotel reservations packet from Disney; complete with luggage tags for me and my running mate.

For some reason this has made it more real to me. Yes I have been training for 5 months and know I signed up for the race. But with my hip issues the last two weeks, I have found it difficult to be excited or positive about the whole thing. Now, I feel like this has invigorated me and given me some focus, which I needed. I want to get back to a steady running schedule and am pushing myself to kick butt on my 20 miler this week.

I am starting to believe, once again, that I can actually run this thing. Just four more weeks to 26.2.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 23

10 miles. It doesn't sound like that big of an accomplishment. But to me, this week, 10 miles was a huge step in the right direction. I have not truly trained in two two weeks thanks to a hip issue. But on Saturday, I took a chance, put on my running shoes and hit the road. I probably should have run more than 10 miles, but it was really all my hip could handle and I didn't want to push it.

Now that I have a pretty decent long run under my belt, I feel like I could start training again. I am no longer scared or worried about running or doubtful that I can complete the marathon. I just need to focus and get  back to the old routine. I am going to attempt my 20 miler this week. I have already put it off twice and with four weeks to go, I need to get it out of the way.

Also, I want to thank all my fellow marathon trainees and friends who have been so supportive over the past two weeks. I was really down and out and the encouraging words were extremely helpful.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 22

I would love to start this post by saying... I'm back. But honestly, I can't say anything close to that. After a week of rest, my big return to training was flop. Sure, you could say I am being too hard on myself, but really I'm not. I could barely make it 8 miles this week. That is sad for someone who completed 18 miles just three weeks ago.

At this point, I have to say my confidence is a bit shattered. I am sad, angry, scared and worried my left hip will not heal in time to run the marathon. At first, I thought my injury was just an IT band issue, similar to what I experienced at the beginning of training. Back then, I just got some new shoes, a massage, did some extra stretches and I was back to normal after a few days rest. This time, I did all that and even took a week off, but it didn't help. My first 5 miler of the week was great. The second run should have been 8 miles, but I cut it to 5 because my legs felt heavy and the humidity was making it difficult for me to breathe properly. I figured, if anything, I could just make it up later in the week. Of course, I did not. I skipped the run because my hip still didn't feel quite right. Then came the weekend long run, which was a disaster. Everything started out ok. My new shoes felt great, my mindset was positive and happy, my body felt good... until mile 5. My hip started feeling a bit sore. I kept plugging along thinking it was just a fluke and I was just over analyzing every weird feeling because I was worried. But I had a reason to be concerned. When I stopped for a water/walking break at mile 8, I was in pain. My hip hurt, even when I was walking. So I decided the best thing to do was to quit while I was ahead and head home.

This whole week has just taken the wind out of my sails. Any bit of hope and positivity I had has been replaced with fear, sadness and sheer disappointment. I have taken my training for the race so seriously. I have put in all the time and hours to make sure I completed all my training runs, didn't push myself too hard  and took care of my body. I honestly thought I was succeeding, but now this hip thing is keeping me from moving forward. Sure there are five weeks left until race day, but what if it doesn't heal soon? I still have a 20 miler to get in before the race. And what if I can't run the race because of the hip issue? I know there is no shame in walking. I planned to stop several times throughout the race for brief walks to give my legs/body a rest. There is no way I can run the 26.2 miles straight through. But I have trained way too hard to not be able to run and have to walk the entire thing.  That would just be a huge disappointment. I have always said "one and done" when it comes to this marathon. I do not want to run another one of these... EVER. So to not be able to run this race to my full ability would break my heart.

I know I am being hard on myself and there is still time. I am just finding it difficult to think positive and have hope about all of this. My friends and family have been very supportive, trying to cheer me up and keep me positive, and I thank them for that. Hopefully, they know something I don't.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 21

This week was all about being thankful. I am thankful that I have survived 4 months of running 4 days a week with relatively no injuries, without losing any toenails and still have the ability to run and enjoy it. So as a Thanksgiving treat to myself (and my inflamed IT band), I took the week off from running. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. I did not run for a full seven days. I figured my body could use the rest, especially if I want to make it through the marathon pain free.

As I mentioned in last week's post, I bought a new pair of shoes. This will be the pair I will be wearing on race day. Running is a cheap sport. You really only need to invest in some good shoes, but I find it sad that I now have a pair of each of the colors available for this year's model of my shoe. At least I am brand loyal and found a shoe that works well for me.
Now it is time to lace up the shoes and get back to running. I ran five miles this morning without any pain or complications with the IT band. So I think the resting help. Just six weeks of this left, then I can celebrate big at the finish line.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 20

Week 20 came with some ups and down. First, the bad. The IT band on my left leg flared up. Never had an issue with that side before, but I listened to my body and rested. I skipped two training runs this week - a five miler and 8 miler. I also got a massage to help work everything out. It seemed to help and I felt good going into my half marathon race on Sunday.

Now to the good. My long run for the week was 13 miles. So to make it easier to track and get me in race mode, I signed up for the Women's Half Marathon in St. Petersburg. I was surprised to learn based on my estimated finish time I would be in starting corral #2. Thankfully, two friends who are also running the 2011 Disney Marathon were in the corral with me.

Overall, it was a good race. I got to see parts of St. Petersburg that I have never seen before, like the Pier. I made it through the first 10 miles feeling great, but then my IT band became an issue and slowed me down a bit. I will say I finished this race 11 minutes faster than my first half marathon, setting a new PR of 2:12:24. The finisher medal was also kind of cool. So I really can't complain. 

Speaking of cool, while picking up my race packet, I was able to get an up close view of what I have been training for. Disney was on hand with the medal for the 2011 marathon. It is massive and heavy. I can't wait to have one draped around my neck. I will probably cry like a baby when they do it, but it will be such an awesome accomplishment and I will be relieved to finally be done with training. Just seven more weeks to go.

I do think I have clued in on the IT band issue though. After two months and a couple hundred miles or more, I think I have worn through another pair of shoes.

I was hoping to get a new pair of shoes at the race expo, but the vendors did not carry my brand. BOO! I did find a place online that had my shoes on sale with free two day shipping. So I will have some new kicks by Wednesday. However, I think it is best that I take a small break from running, do some yoga and stretching and give my IT bands a break. I want to feel good and be able to fully run the marathon in January.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 19

Week 19 has been a bit exhausting and painful. I think it is because I really haven't been taking care of myself as well as I should. Because the weather has been so cool, I haven't been stretching as much as a should before and after each run. I really haven't felt the need. Well that has resulted in a tight left hip flexor. I tried some intense yoga, but that really hasn't helped. I just need to do some more stretching and icing.

Another battle I am fighting is food. I really haven't been eating much lately, which is bad for someone running more than 30 miles a week. I find myself struggling to eat three meals a day. I am just not hungry. Then on top of that, I am never hungry after my training runs. It baffles me that I can run for three hours or more and not feel the need to eat the rest of the day. On a positive note, I am hydrated. I bought some replacement bottles to make up for the one that was run over by a car last week. So my hydration belt is now fully loaded again.

Other than the hip flexor and food issues, it has been a successful week. I completed all of my training runs, which included my farthest run to date - 18 miles. I can't say the 18 miler was pretty. My hip flexor started acting up around mile 10. So my walking breaks during those last 8 miles were a little longer than usually. I can't be disappointed though. I completed all the miles in a respectable time and am still walking. Those are all good things.

Next week, I get to take it easy a bit. My long run is only 13 miles. Of course, it is also a half marathon race. Knowing me, I will probably push myself so that I can beat my last half marathon time. Hopefully my hip flexor will calm down and I can run the race pain free.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 18

I have completed another week of training injury free. Hooray! I did, however, suffer a small casualty. One of the water bottles on my fuel belt popped off during one of my runs and was run over by a car. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it is really insignificant. I can buy a new replacement bottle.

This week's training seems to be more about the mind, than the body. The New York City marathon is this weekend and there have been several inspiration and scary stories in the news. The article that really caught my attention was one about heart damage and marathon runners. Research shows that marathon runners do temporary damage to their heart while running the race. Your body recovers in three months, but that is still scary. But I will say that if Al Roker and Jared the Subway guy can finish the NYC marathon, I can finish the Disney marathon.

November is going to be a rough month of training. I have my two longest runs this month and a half marathon race. When I make it through, the hardest part of training will be behind me and I will officially be ready for the race. Of course, I will still have a month of running left, but I will be tapering off from my mileage dramatically. So here's to hoping for a healthy and successful month of training.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 17

This was an interesting week of training. I started off with two runs on Monday. My first two-a-day. I don't know what got into me. It was hot and humid, but for some reason I ran four miles before work and felt compelled to run another four after. It was actually nice because it gave me an extra day off to sleep in. This week was also my first midweek 8 miler. There are a lot of these on the training schedule next month. I wasn't sure I would be able to run, rest and still get ready for work in time, but I managed to do so without any problems. That makes me feel better about the training runs ahead.

My long run this week was 16 miles. It is my longest run to date. This one didn't go as well as last week. My hips started hurting within the first six miles. I had to stop and stretch a few times, but I managed to power through and complete all the miles. I even went to the mall afterward to walk around a bit. I find walking after my longer runs help keep my legs from tightening up the next day. Still, it looks like I have a lot of yoga and time with the foam roller in my near future. I need to work out all the kinks so this doesn't become a reoccurring problem. Hopefully, I will be all stretched out and pain free before adding on more miles in two weeks.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 16

It is hard to believe I am four months into marathon training. Most training plans are actually that long. I just chose to extend mine out to six months. That's right, I am two months away from my marathon. It is kind of scary to think about.

This week, number 16, was nerve wracking, but good. It marked the first time I ran past the half marathon mark. My long run this week was 15 miles. And surprisingly, it went well. Real well. I finished without any real pain and was able to walk around and go shopping afterward. It was a nice change of pace from my previous long runs, which usually ended with IT band, knee or hip pain. I guess it just goes to show how important it is to take care of yourself and your body. The yoga, stretching, soaking and icing are working.

Next week brings another mileage increase, but I can honestly say I am ready for it. Bring on 16 miles. I just need to load some more tunes on the iPod before next weekend. My playlist is getting old and played out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 15

It's been another great week of training. The weather has been so beautiful, making the running much easier. I have also gotten much better at running with the proper form and taking care of my body during this crazy training process.

No real problems to report this week. My long run was a bit sluggish. My time and pace were great, but I just felt slower than usual. I think yoga is to blame. Wednesday was an intense instructional class focusing on opening up the hips. The class was great and I learned a lot, but holding lunge poses for long periods of time and opening up your hips can leave you sore. You see, you have to engage your glutes to make the poses work. And let me tell you, running with sore glutes is a pain in the rear.

Week 16 should be an interesting one. The farthest I have ever run is 13.1 miles. Now, I will have to complete a 15 miler. I am sure I can do it. It just seems scary saying and reading it. Time to rework the ipod playlist, so I can rock out while trekking along.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 14

Week 14 went great. There was a nice cool snap here and it made running comfortable again. I noticed I was running faster, more on my race pace, because of the cooler temperatures. Even my 13 mile time was better than the half marathon I ran earlier this year. About 5 minutes faster to be exact.

This week, I payed more attention to my running form. After my massage a couple weeks ago and talking to some friends who run a lot, I realized I am not running correctly. My shoulders are shrugged up and tense. I tend to lean forward a bit. That is why my legs and IT bands have been suffering. I am allowing my legs to all the work. Running is a full body sport. When your shoulders are back and your head is up, your arms give you momentum to help move you forward. It also helps you engage your core, which is a great workout. So this is my new goal: focus and improve my form. I also need to add some new tunes to my iPod too. Suggestions are always welcome.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 13

Who said 13 is an unlucky number? Week 13 was actually a good week. I feel like I have finally turned the corner. All four training runs, including a 12 miler, went great. I think mentally, and more importantly, physically I am back on track with my training.

I made a couple tweaks to my training schedule this week. I figure since I'm doing so well, I might at well adjust my schedule to fit my progress. It basically just shifts everything up two or three weeks. The good thing about that is that it leaves me flexibility to add an additional 20+ mile run in December. I have talked to a lot of people about this. Most people only run one 20 mile run before race day. It works for thousands of people. But then there are a few people I know, who like me, who feel they need an extra run that is 22-24 miles. It's a mental thing. Think about it, you hit 20 miles and still have 6.2 left. Sure, it doesn't sound like much after 20, but that is an additional hour of running. And if mentally you are already hitting a wall around miles 18-20, another hour can seem like an eternity.

Either way, I like my new outlook on this whole marathon thing. I am taking better care of my body; more time stretching, doing yoga, icing, etc. I am also not trying to run my race pace all the time and take brief walking breaks during my long runs. All around it is just making it a more enjoyable and healthy journey to 26.2.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 12

Week 12 is complete. And this week it was all about the shoes! After my recovery week of yoga classes and a deep tissue massage, my knee was still bugging me. That is when I decided to take a look at the bottom of my shoes. I was shocked. I have only been running in them for four months. Of course, I do have 300+ miles on them. Take a look. The pink shoe is my old one. The blue is my new pair.

Now, I will be honest. The shoes were not some miracle cure. I am still a little sore when I run. But the shoes do help keep everything in better alignment and support my legs. It is a big difference. I was able to complete my long run - 10 miles. There was a little pain, but nothing too unbearable. I will say the IT compression band and taking brief walking breaks every two miles has helped. I never thought I would be the kind of runner who could stop and start during a run. However, this practice has not only made my running times faster, it has also helped give me knee some much need rest mid run.

I am looking forward to getting back on track this week and start adding some more miles. If all goes well, I will be back where I was before my knee started bothering me three weeks ago. I just have to be much better about taking care of myself. That means more yoga, ice packs, foam roller and hot baths. I think I can handle that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 11

Another week down and I think I am getting out of the funk from last week. I am happy to report that my IT bands are finally cooperating. Doubling up on yoga classes this week worked wonders. I needed to get down and dirty and stretch everything out. Cutting down on miles and practicing water stops helped too.

Now to further help my physical and mental state, I am getting a deep tissue massage and taking the weekend off from running. I have only had one massage in my life. So I am really looking forward to this and hope it helps work out the tension and tightness of my leg muscles.

I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive of me the past few weeks. I had this "whoa is me" type attitude and thought there was no way I could continue with my training or run a marathon. I do still have some doubts, but the positive attitude is back and I know I can keep on running and closer to the goal of finishing 26.2. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Time For A Reset

The first 10 weeks of training were good. Ok, let's be honest. Nine of the weeks were great. The tenth was so so. That is why it is time for a reset. Thankfully, I started early with my training. Of course, that is good and bad. The good: I am still 17 weeks from race weekend. Plenty of time to train. The bad: my IT bands are causing some pain in my right knee. For those who have talked to me lately, you know this has taken the wind out of my sails. I was really concerned I would not be able to do this marathon and doubted myself tremendous. But now it is time to put on the big girl panties, shake it off and come up with a new plan of attack.

Step 1: New training schedule. That is right. I have thrown out my old training schedule and have adopted a plan similar to one of Hal Higdon's beginner marathon plans. Most marathon training plans are 18 weeks. And since I am already up to 12 mile long runs, missing week one of the new plan isn't really going to hurt me. This works out great because the first few weeks include runs that are much shorter than I have been running. This will give my IT band / knee time to heal. I also plan to take brief walking stops every few miles to simulate walking through water stops on race day. I am told this will be my saving grace on race day; giving me a short break to rest my knees and hydrate. But the best part of this plan is that it is almost identical to plan of my magical marathon mate. It will make it much easier to support one another and know where we are during training because we will be running the same mileage amounts and long runs each week.

Step 2: Fix the IT band issue. Of course, this is easier said than done. IT band irritation isn't really an injury. It is more of a stretching issue. Some may say it is the amount of miles I have been running that caused this. But I didn't start having problems with my IT bands until I skipped yoga three weeks in a row. I already know I am bad at stretching before and after running. I do it, but apparently not well. I guess yoga served as a weekly rehab session for my tight leg muscles. So this week, I am going to double up on yoga and also get a deep tissue massage to work out the leg muscle issues. Then it is back to weekly yoga sessions until race day. I also bought an IT band compression wrap. I will let you know if it helps. I tried it during my 4 mile run this morning and didn't really notice a different. My right knee still felt weird. Who knows? Maybe it is just a gimmick. Concentrate on the tight  IT band wrap on your thigh instead of the pain in your knee. I will give it a couple more runs.

I think this IT band / knee thing has served as a wake up call to me. While my running routine was set and I was just plugging along, I stopped taking care of myself. I need to drink more water. Stretch more. Get to yoga class. Eat better. I have never thought of myself as much of an athlete, but I guess now I am. At least until I cross the finishing line after 26.2 magical miles at Walt Disney World.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 9

Another week complete and this was a rough one! It started with the 8 mile knee fiasco in Tallahassee; followed by a pesky cold. I thought this was suppose to be any easy recovery week! Despite the mini-obstacles, I powered through and finished all 4 runs. I am still battling the sniffles, but my knee feels much better.

I have to say I was pretty scared Saturday when I couldn't bend my knee after my run. I thought this was an injury that would keep me from running for weeks. But there was no swelling and after a few hours I could bend it and walk. So this week, even though I still ran, I took much better care of my legs. First, I pulled out the foam roller every night this week, focusing on my IT bands. Damn, that thing is painful. Second, I returned to yoga. I was really shocked at how much flexibility you lose after skipping class for three weeks. Regardless of the tight muscles, it felt great to stretch everything out. Very therapeutic and calming.

So now it is on to week 10. I am definitely a little nervous about this. Not only is my knee still getting back to normal, I also kick things off with a 14 mile run. It will be the longest distance I have ever finished. I am pretty sure I can do it though. Let's face it. It's not even a full mile longer than a half marathon and I have run one of those. I think it will be more difficult when I hit the 16, 18, 20 and 22 mile runs. Of course, it's really all mental. As my magical marathon mate always tells me, positive thoughts!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Trouble in Tally

Recovery week started out rough. I thought running less miles this week would give my already sore knees and IT bands a break, but then I decided to run in Tallahassee. I have been told several times that people from all over the world travel to Tally to train for races. I can believe it. The area is beautiful and the weather is usually reasonable, excluding the summer months, of course.

But after running 8 miles in the Capital City, I feel like a wimp. At one point I was running up hill and felt like I was barely walking, let alone running. However, my trusty Garmin said I was at the same pace I usually run. Weird, right? I know running hills helps with training, especially when it comes to strength and speed. Let's just say, I am thankful Tampa is pretty flat. I could barely walk or bend my left knee after running in Tally. Of course, I sucked it up and slowly made my way to Doak Campbell Stadium to see the Seminoles kick some butt. Go Noles!

Hopefully, after two or three days of rest, my knees will be good for a few five milers. Now if I could just get rid of this pesky cold. :(

Friday, September 03, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 8

It is hard to believe that two months of training have already flown by. So far, so good. Although, I will say this week has been a bit tougher than the rest. I started with a 12 mile run, which surprisingly went pretty well. But my runs since then have been a little tough. The reason: IT band irritation. My lack of stretching and yoga the past couple weeks has finally caught up to me and my knees are paying the price. Thankfully, week 9 is a recovery week. Shorter running lengths and some intense stretching should help correct this issue.

I have a secret weapon to help with all the stretching. Well, it really isn't a secret. I have mentioned it on my blog before. The foam roller (a.k.a torture device) is a miracle worker. Think of it as a rolling pin for your muscles. A deep tissue massage using your own body weight and a foam cylinder.


The foam roller stretches muscles and tendons, breaks down any knots and increases blood flow and circulation. Sure, the pain you feel while doing it makes you want to tear up, but it is well worth it in the end. I spent a couple nights this week with my foam roller and I can feel the difference. I am not 100% just yet, but I am getting there. I am ready to tackle recovery week (8,5,6,5) and then begin adding on the miles again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 7

Cross another week off the training schedule. Week 7 is now complete. Overall it was a good week. It started with a 10 miler. And if you read my previous post, you know it went alright. I completed the distance in a decent time, but my hips started aching between miles 8 and 9 and were sore for the next 24 hours. It wasn't excruciating pain or anything like that. My muscles and joints were just a little tight. I guess I didn't stretch enough.

Mentally, I think I am ready for a half marathon. I'm running 12 miles next week, so I will put that theory to the test. However, I still can't imagine running a full 26.2 or even a 16, 18 or 20 mile training run, especially after being sore after 10. I guess I will have a better idea in 3 weeks. Training week 10 includes starts with a 14 miler. It will be the longest distance I have ever run and my first real step towards marathon distance. Hopefully I can survive. So, keep the positive thoughts and comments coming, I could really use them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Hips Don't Lie

Ouch. Shakira was right. The hips don't lie. I ran my first double digit training trek Sunday - 10 miles. Everything was great until around mile 8 or 9. My hips started feeling sore. I actually did some stretching before the run, so I was surprised by the pain. I also made sure to thoroughly stretch after the run and throughout the day. My hips were pretty stiff and sore last night. But thankfully 24 hours later, the pain has pretty much subsided.

However, this got me thinking about the cause of the problem. After some research, I have come to the conclusion my iliotibial bands have struck again. The IT band runs down the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee. Most runners, especially ones who don't properly stretch, experience pain in their knees because the band has become inflamed. But in some cases, it can also cause hip pain.

Thankfully this ailment is not something that needs any kind of medical treatment, at least for now. I just need to make sure to stretch, rest and use my foam roller more frequently. Of course, I hope this isn't a bad sign of things to come. If my hips can become that sore after 10 miles, how will I survive 20? Or 26.2? I know, I know... think positive.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 6

Another week of training down. Things are going well. I have put the 3 milers behind me. This week, my runs were all 4 miles or longer. And next week brings the double digit runs. I will say getting up early for training runs this week have been a bit spooky. Hitting the roads before 6am is starting to seem like a bad idea. Sure it is cooler, but it is also pitch black. I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder and worried someone is lurking behind a bush or something. The sad part is the longer the runs become, the earlier I will have to leave the house. I think it may be time to reconsider running in the evenings after work.

Another thing I think I may need to consider is getting a Road ID. The bracelet can be worn on your wrist or ankle. It can also be attached to your shoe. It has all your vital information and an emergency contact number. Um, that's another thing. I really need to find an emergency contact. Someone I know is going to be there and I can call should I get injured or something happens to me during my long runs. I had never really thought about it before now, but it may be important to have. Any volunteers?
I also need to start scouting new running routes, especially since I am just days away from my first double digit training run. I am one of those runners who prefer not to double back or take many twists and turns during runs. So I try to find straight, easy routes.

Here's to another injury free week of training. Positive thoughts! :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 5

Another week is down and I'd like to say the running is getting easier, but it's not. I think I am just having a bad week. The 8 mile run at the beginning of the week was great, minus the major headache afterward because I didn't eat or drink enough following the big run. It was the weekday runs that got to me this week. I was slow waking up and getting out the door and felt sluggish and tired during the runs. The sad part is the runs were short; two 3 milers and one 4 miler.

I guess what I am learning is that everything going on in your life, good or bad - happy or sad, comes through in your running whether you'd like it to or not. If you're having a bad week personally, your running is going to be a struggle. I need to get better at letting things go, especially when I am training.

Despite all those outside issues, I completed all 18 miles this week and am looking forward to what the next week holds. The week ahead is actually a bit of a recovery week. Instead of adding miles to my long run, I am shaving miles from the long run to add to my weekday runs. So I will have one 6 miler, two 5 milers and a 4 miler. Should be easy enough to complete. I just need to keep a positive mindset and power through.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 4

I did it! I made it through the first month of marathon training. Only five more to go! The first month has been a pretty good one. I ran a total of 52 miles, of course that amount will double and triple as the months move on. So far there have been no major injuries or problems other than the ridiculous heat and lack of stretching.

Speaking of the unfortunate weather, it is really taking a toll on my training. I feel like I am running so slow and am instantaneously sweating as soon as I take my first step. Sure, people say that when the weather cools down I will pick up the pace and be stronger, but right now it is leaving me with doubts. Will I be able to able to endure a 26.2 mile run? If I run this slow during the race, will my knees give out on me? One of my friends told me the training process and marathon itself will be an emotional and physical roller coaster. You will have ups and downs, but you just need to focus and power through. I guess that is my problem right now - focus. I am letting too many outside elements enter my mind and effect my running. I really need to learn how to shut off my brain and go on auto-pilot if I plan on finishing the race in January.

I want to thank everyone for all their encouraging words and support. I know the training process is taking up a huge portion of my time. So I appreciate those of you who are asking how things are going, those who volunteered to go on training runs with me and those who say they are coming over to Disney to watch me cross the finish line. All that positivity keeps me moving in the right direction.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 3

It was all about increases this week. First increase: I am now running four days a week.. This will be standing operating procedure until a week or two before the big race in January. Second increase: Mileage. Of course adding an extra day is going to up my mileage, but I am also upping the amount of miles on my weekend long run.

There were a few hiccups this week. I learned I really need to do more to stretch before and after training runs. My legs, especially my calves, are feeling the lack of care. And let me tell you, tight muscles are not good when you are running four days a week. I do yoga once a week, but I really should incorporate it into my weekly routine more often. I also realized that as much as I love BoingRobics, I may have to give it up soon. Jumping up and down for an hour is harsh on your knees and I can feel it when I run.

There were some positives this week too. Walt Disney World announced the 2011 Disney Marathon Medal. It's nice, not the one I voted for, but nice. I also had some friends tell me that they are thinking about coming over to Orlando on race day to support me on my journey. It would be awesome to have some familiar faces along the race route to help get me through, especially when I hit miles 18-22 which is when runners usually hit "the wall". Even if my friends don't make it out to the race, I am still appreciative that they are thinking about it. No matter what they decide, I know I am not alone in my marathon journey. I have some friends running the race, but more importantly, by best friend will be by my side running and feeling the same joy, pain, frustration and fatigue that comes with running a marathon.  Her fiancĂ© will also be there on the sidelines cheering us on.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Check Out My Bling: 2011 Disney Marathon Medal

Walt Disney World has announced the 2011 Disney Marathon Medal. More than 50,000 people voted on the bling, including myself. This is not the medal I chose, but does it really matter? I think finishing the race is more important. Although, wearing the medal the day after the race does entitle me to free theme park admission. So that is a big plus.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Avoiding Calf-tastrophe

Now that I am running four days a week, my leg muscles are tightening up. Honestly, it is probably because I don't stretch enough before and after my training runs. My weekly yoga class helps, but if I want to endue through this six month training period I need to get better at stretching.
In honor of my need to stretch, I came across this article on the Runner's World Magazine website. It is all about stretching your foot and calves, which have been my two problem areas lately.
The foot and ankle region is a common site for running pain - after all, it's the first point of impact. Elastic, flexible calf muscles can soften the shock down below, helping prevent injuries such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. These stretches should be used after every run: hold two seconds; repeat 10 times on each leg.
Soleus (inner calf): Sit with one leg straight and the other bent. Grasp the bottom of the foot on the bent leg. Keeping your heel on the ground, pull your foot toward your body as far as you can.
Gastrocnemius (outer calf): Sit with both legs straight. Loop a rope around the ball of one foot and grasp each end of the rope. Flex your foot back toward your ankle, toes toward your knee.

Achilles Tendon (attaches heel to calf): Sit with one leg straight and one bent. Bring your heel close to your buttocks. Keeping your heel on the ground, pull your foot toward your body.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 2

Week two of marathon training is finish. I suffered a minor setback: plantar fasciitis.That is just a fancy term for when the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot becomes inflamed. It is common among runners, but can also be caused by wearing shoes with no arch support for a prolonged period of time. So wearing flip flops the entire Disney weekend and standing in flip flops for 7 hours at the Tori Spelling book signing was not a good idea. Basically I had to rest for a few days and massage the arch of my foot with a tennis ball to loosen things up.

I am still trying to get used to running in the morning. Waking up isn't the issue. I am finding that my legs are heavier and I am moving slower. Maybe it is just the heat and humidity. I have bought a new supplement to try. It is an electrolyte replacement pill called Endurolytes by Hammer Nutrition. Think Powerade in pill form that is taken before you work out. The idea is to help keep your hydration and electrolyte levels high while working out to prevent cramping and fatigue. I haven't really used the pills much yet. So I will write a blog post once I have better idea of the effect it has on my training runs.

Well, it is on to week three. In addition to adding more miles, a fourth day of running will be thrown in the mix. I say bring it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bada Bing... Bada BOING

I am shaking things up during week 2 of marathon training. This week, I added a Boing workout to the schedule. That is in addition to my weekly yoga class and the 12 miles I have to split among 3 days of running this week (only one 5 miler left to go).

So what is Boing, you ask? Boing is like how it sounds. It is a 45 minute aerobics class in a room full of trampolines. Each person has his or her  own trampoline. You do a bunch of different moves while jumping and stationary to work all the muscle groups. It is definitely a cardio workout and then some. Instructors at the Boing Jump Center in Brandon say you can burn up to 1,000 calories in one class. 

I went to this class with three friends. And I think I speak for all of us when I say we had a great time. We laughed and felt like kids as we jumped and flexed our muscles. The class is designed to improve your flexibility, balance, strength, agility and endurance. Two days later, some of us have a few sore muscles. I know my triceps and obliques are a bit tight. But hey, at least I know those muscles got a good workout.

I highly recommend Boing aerobics to anyone looking for a fun, complete workout. You will definitely sweat a lot, tone some muscles and have fun while doing it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 1

The first week of marathon training is almost complete. For the most part it has been a success. The goal was getting use to running in the morning before work and increase the number of weekly runs to three. I have achieved both. I actually finished my three training runs ahead of schedule thanks to an impromptu weekend getaway. I am heading over to Walt Disney World, so I packed the running shoes just in case I want to test the roads at the scene of the 26.2 mile crime (ha ha).

Overall, running in the morning has been a nice change. It is much cooler, but extremely humid. I think I have sweat more running in the morning than I did running in the early evening heat. Also, I don't know if my body just knows I need to slow up my pace to prepare for the longer runs ahead or if my legs are too tired to function at 6 a.m., but I have slowed up tremendously. I am sure it feels like I am going much slower than I actually am. It is going to take some getting used to.

Another change this week: music. I added a few new songs to my training mix, but could use many more. So if you have any suggestions for fast paced, peppy music, please let me know.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marathon Training Starts With A Bang & A Splash In The Mud

Training for the 2011 Disney Marathon is officially underway. It started yesterday with one final 5K race. The Run Thru Hell in Al Lopez Park. It is really a fitting name for a race. I had not idea I would be running through trails with roots and branches protruding everywhere, mud slicked paths or ankle deep mud puddles. Needless to say, my shoes are destroyed. I also had to run this race solo because my running buddy was too sick to join me. Oh, and I forgot to the timer/tracker on my Garmin. Despite all that, I still had a respectable time. It wasn't my best 5K, but when you're running single file along a trail trying not to fall on your ass a 29:05 finish time is fine.

Now that marathon training is underway, I am a little nervous. I still have questions swirling in my head about how my body will react or will I be able to make it 26.2 miles. Of course, this summer I've been working more on my speed and faster pacing, now I have to slow all that down to go the distance. It's just weird to think that in 4 weeks, I will be back up to 10 mile runs and steadily increasing. Oh well, it's all about thinking and being positive about the experience. If I think I can, then I will! Six months and counting!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Rang In July 4th Running in the Dark

I celebrated Independence Day 2010 with a 10K race at midnight. Yes, you read that correctly. I ran at 12:00am. It was the Kiwanis Midnight Run in Dunedin. Despite the fact that it rained all day and there was cloud cover, the course was nice. You followed a candlelit path across a couple bridges into Honeymoon Island State Park and back.

I started this race strong. The pace for my first mile was 9:08. I stayed pretty true to that time the first four miles. Then my dinner came back to haunt me. Here's a tip for all you runners out there: Don't eat a large meal an hour and half before running. I really should have known better, but I was hungry. I am also not used to running races at midnight. Despite all that, I kept my pace under 10 minutes the entire race and finished with a 14 mph sprint to the finish line. My friend still says I conserve too much energy for the final 100 yards of races, but I really don't. I just like finishing strong, so I did deep and sprint at the end even if I am exhausted and my knees are hurting.

Overall, I finished this race a minute faster than the last 10K I ran in November. My new 10K PR is 58:55. But now is the time to kiss those nine minute miles goodbye. Marathon training begins on Sunday. So the new mantra is slow and steady to finish 26.2.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mark Your Calendars: Gasparilla Distance Classic Registration Opens July 1st

Remember the date: July 1st. That is when registration opens for the 2011 Gasparilla Distance Classic. Race weekend is February 26th & 27th.  Races include a 5K and 15K on Saturday and a Half Marathon (possibly an 8K too) on Sunday.

Race weekend falls on the same weekend as a friend's wedding, but I'm going to make it work. Nothing is going to keep me from their ceremony, not even my running addition. However, I will be running races both days. I'm thinking since I will already have a full marathon under my belt, it will be time to up the ante once again. Right now, I'm thinking the Beck's Light Challenge sounds not only possible, but fun.

The Beck's Light Challenge has runners participate in both the 5K and 15K on Saturday. Followed by running the Half Marathon on Sunday. So really it's the same distance as a full marathon, but spread out among two days. In addition to getting finisher shirts and medals for each race, I will also get an additional medal and shirt for my crazy adventure.

There is also a Michelob Light Challenge, which doesn't sound half as scary to me as it use to. That challenge had runners completing the 5K and 15K on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. Now that the GDCA has scraped the full marathon, the challenge is rumored to consist of a 5K, 8K, 15K and the Half Marathon. If that's the case, the challenge is only five miles more than the Beck's Light Challenge. I think I could handle that.

The Gasparilla Distance Classic races are always a good time. The courses are nice and the food afterwards is good. Also, be sure to check out the health expo when picking up your race packet. You can get some great deals on gear and shoes. Most of the time, stores will sell last season's running shoes for half off. I always try to pick up a pair of shoes while I'm there, even if I'm not ready to retire my current pair.

Time To Put On The Brakes

Well, it's about that time. Time to slow things up a bit. My marathon training gets underway in two weeks. The last few months I have been taking it easy. Running twice a week. Five miles or less. I thought I would hate being that "inactive," but really it's been great... with exception of the ridiculous heat.

The most noticeable improvement from these short distance runs is my pace. I have gotten much quicker. I am now consistently running miles on an 8:15-8:30 minute pace. However, now is the time to hit the brakes. There is no way I can keep that kind of pace for a 10 mile or longer training run, at least not yet. Don't get me wrong, I plan on improving my pace for long distances. I just know I can't run that quickly right out of the gate. I do, however, know my marathon pace next January should and will be faster than the 10:56 minute pace I had during my first half marathon in February.

Another change that needs to happen is my food intake. I recently read an article called "Are you over-training or under-eating?" In my case, the answer is under-eating. My last 5K training run had to be cut short because my body couldn't handle it. I stopped sweating at around 2 and a half mile, which is a sign of dehydration, and started feeling light headed. You really need to drink lots of water and eat several small meals a day to keep yourself fueled for training. I guess that means I need to get better at packing a lunch and snacks each day.  Foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates. I tend to eat very vegetarian in the summer months. It's just too hot for heavy foods.

I have to say, I am both excited and nervous about my upcoming training. It is definitely going to be an uphill battle that will take a toll on me physically, mentally and emotionally. I think I'm ready for it though. Positive thoughts = positive outcome. Bring it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hydration Tips For Runners From Runner's World Magazine

Here's a great article about running and hydration from the July 2010 issue of Runner's World Magazine:

Runners know it's important to stay hydrated to run their best, especially in the summer. "Being more than two percent dehydrated in warm environments causes a decline in performance," says Robert W. Kenefick, Ph.D., a physiologist with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. To keep fluids handy, you probably stash a water bottle in a gym bag or leave sports drink in your car. But to really improve performance, you need to be more than a casual sipper. A number of recent studies offer runners smarter ways to stay hydrated while also giving their running a boost. Here's how you can apply some of these strategies to your own hydration plan and run your best all summer long.

WHY In a study in the April 2010 Journal of Athletic Training, runners who started a 12-K race dehydrated on an 80?F day finished about two and a half minutes slower compared to when they ran it hydrated. Dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which lowers your body's ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, making it difficult for your body to meet aerobic demands.
DRINK UP Drink eight to 16 ounces one to two hours before a run. Sports drinks and water are good choices, says running coach Cassie Dimmick, R.D. Iced coffee and tea are fine, too. Didn't plan ahead? Fifteen to 30 minutes before going out, drink at least four to eight ounces of fluid.

WHY In a study published in 2008 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, cyclists who drank cold beverages before and during their workout exercised nearly 12 minutes longer than those who drank warm beverages. And in a study published this year, runners who had an ice slushy ran about 10 minutes longer than when they had a cold drink. In both cases, the drink that was colder lowered body temperature and perceived effort, allowing participants to exercise longer.
DRINK UP Before going for a hot run, have a slushy made with crushed ice and your favorite sports drink. To keep drinks chilled while you run, fill a bottle halfway, freeze it, and top it off with fluid before starting. Running a loop? Stash bottles in a cooler along your route, says Dimmick.

WHY According to a study in the July 2009 Journal of Sports Sciences, when cyclists recorded their plan for hydrating during workouts—including exact times and amounts—they drank more frequently and consumed more fluid midworkout than their nonplanning peers. "Planning helps people remember how much and when they need to drink," says lead author Martin Hagger, Ph.D., of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.
DRINK UP Note your thirst during your runs, and write down how offen and how much you drink. Review your notes to help you plan when to drink. Set your watch to beep every 15 minutes as a reminder to consider your thirst. "Drinking smaller amounts at regular intervals can help you absorb fluid more effectively," says Dimmick, "and avoid stomach sloshing."
WHY Don't feel like downing a gallon of Gatorade? You don't have to. According to a study in the April 2010 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, runners who rinsed their mouths with a carb solution right before and every 15 minutes during hour-long treadmill sessions ran faster and about 200 meters farther than those who rinsed with a placebo. "Carbs trigger reward centers in the brain," says Ian Rollo, Ph.D., one of the study's authors. The brain senses incoming energy "which may lower the perceived effort," he says.
DRINK UP For shorter runs when you want the benefits of a sports drink minus the extra calories, swishing just might do the trick. It's also good news for runners who get queasy from ingesting a lot of sugar at once. But for runs over an hour, find a drink you can stand to swallow (see "What'll You Have?" below).

What'll You Have?
Your midrun fluid needs depend on how long you're going

Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine. For a tough run over 30 minutes, consider a sports drink to give you a kick of energy at the end.

Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. A sports drink with carbs and electrolytes will replenish sodium. Prefer gels? Chase them with water to avoid sugar overload.

Drink three to six ounces of sports drink every 15 minutes, after which use thirst as your main guide (drinking more if you're thirsty and less if you're not).

Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes postrun. Usually eight to 24 ounces is fine, but it varies based on running conditions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Official... I'm in the Club!

Last night it happened. I became an official member of the Four Green Fields Running Club. For those of you who don't know, Four Green Fields is an Irish pub in Tampa. The owner invites runners to come by every Tuesday and participate in a 5K run down Bayshore Boulevard. The pub also supplies food and water after the run, although many choose to belly up to the bar and buy a pint of beer.

The club is quite amazing. On any given Tuesday there are more than 300 people running. I had no idea when I went for my first run there would be so many people. It says a lot considering, the club has only been around for a little over a year. It's also really cool to see everyone as you're running down Bayshore.

One of the highlights of the club is the official tech shirt. Sure, you can buy one for $20. But after 10 runs, you earn one for free. People actually wear them ever week and I look forward to sporting mine next Tuesday.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fun in the Sun with some Beer and a Run

I ran my first 5K race in about a year on Friday. My thoughts: It was hot as hell! The Oldsmar Taphouse 5K is a great event, but running at 7pm in June with 97 degree heat is kind of insane.

I was really looking forward to this race. A few of my friends ran it too. It was actually the first 5K experience for two of them, so props to them. For the rest of us, it was all about the Das Boot. The first 50 male and female runners to finish received a Das Boot to drink out of the rest of the night. Two of my female friends ran fast enough for a Das Boot. Sadly, I did not. I did however record my best 5K time. That's right, I set a PR during a race where the heat index was well above 100. CRAZY! My first mile was by far my best, eight minutes flat. After that, the sun, heat and dehydration took it's toll. My next two miles were in the nine minute range. My final time was just under 28 minutes. So while I didn't get the Das Boot, I was extremely happy with my finish. Oh, and I still got free beer all night. I just had to drink it from a plastic cup.

Just one more short race (Kiwanis Midnight Run 10K) until my marathon training begins. I have to say I'm starting to get a bit nervous. Can I run the entire 26.2 miles? Will my half marathon time in November be better than my time in February? And will that new time qualify me for a faster starting corral for the Disney Marathon? Only time will tell!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Beware of Heat

After two nights of training in ridiculous heat and humidity, I decided to do some research on running in hot temperatures. Most articles say heat is the biggest adversary for runners for two reasons, dehydration and overheating. Just look at this chart I found online.

The key to beating the heat while running is hydration. If you are thirsty, it’s too late. You’re probably already dehydrated. An average person should drink two quarts of water a day. Runners need anywhere from four to eight quarts a day, depending on the intensity of their training.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when running in the heat:
- Try to run early in the morning. The humidity will probably be higher, but it will not be as hot.
- Wear sunscreen. The sun takes a lot out of you, especially if you’re burnt.
- Wear a light colored, moisture wicking clothing.
-  Wear a visor or sunglasses to help keep the sun out of your face/eyes.
-  Drink four to eight ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your run. If you don’t like carrying a  water bottle, try a hydration belt.

Another good tip: Stretch thoroughly before and after each run, heat or not. This will reduce the risk of cramps or injuries. And this goes without saying, but I will anyway… drink plenty of water post run.

Good luck to those of you hitting the road in the heat. The next few months are going to be rough, but it’s worth it.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Hooray For Hydration

Running during the summer in Florida isn't the smartest thing you can do, but I'm not really a treadmill runner. I need to stay in shape since marathon training begins in one month. So, I have to suck it up, get out there with the heat and humidity and run, Kimmy, run!

One great purchase I made during my half marathon training was a hydration belt. At first I thought it was goofy and unnecessary, but after several long distance runs, I realized the belt is extremely helpful and needed. Most people go with the Fuel Belt or Nathan brand hydration belt, but I chose something a bit different. I went with the Amphipod RunLite 4.


The great thing about the Amphipod belt is its versatility. First, all the bottles and the velcro pouch are removable. So you can customize the belt as you'd like. For example, I only have two bottles on my belt right now because I'm not running long double digit distances. That will change in a few months. Also, the bottles can be attached up and down (as seen in the photo) or sideways along the belt. I prefer sideways so I don't get my shirt caught on the bottles or have them hit/dig into my back. Of course, I'm sure I'll have to put them all upright when I add the other two bottles.

Sure you feel like a dork when you first put it on. I know I did. It also takes a few runs to get use to wearing it. But I would rather look like a fool and be hydrated, then pass out on the side of the road... especially in this ridiculous summer heat!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Vote On My Marathon Bling

Disney announced some cool news today. Everyone who runs the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon will receive free admission to the theme parks the day after the race or what is being referred to as "Marathon Monday." Guess that gives me one more day to "pack it in" at the "house of the mouse." For those of you who don't know, the post-marathon plan is to hit Epcot so that I can eat my way around the world in desserts. Sure, people like to drink around the world. I'll probably do some of that, but after running 26.2 miles I'm going let my sweet tooth run wild. It will be well deserved and delicious.

Another interesting twist announced by Disney today. Organizers are letting runners (and everyone else) vote on the bling you'll get at the end of the race. Here are the choices:

You can vote on which marathon bling I will receive at Personally, I like medal 1, but choose what you like. Voting closes July 28 and the winning medal will be announced in August. Oh, and while you're there, sign up for the race. Why not? If I can run 26.2 miles, so can you!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Turning Up The Heat

This weekend I decided to kick my yoga practice into overdrive... turn up the heat, if you will. I went with some friends to my first Bikram yoga class. For those of you who don't know, Bikram yoga is a 90 minute class in a heated room. The room usually gets between 95-105 degrees. I know it sounds totally crazy and it is. But it is also a great workout, once you get past the constant sweating.

Yoga, in general, is great for your flexibility, strength and balance. It also helps clear your mind and calm your soul. So it amazed me to learn that just by adding some heat you can double the benefits. Hot yoga flushes all the toxins out of your system, makes yoga a cardiovascular workout, burns more calories and improves your immune system. The heat also makes your muscles stretch more easily, reducing the risk of injury.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first hot yoga experience. I think since I am use to the yoga poses, the only thing I had to contend with was the heat and sweat. The guy next to me had puddles of sweat all around him. It was quite disgusting.

I do have some advice for those of you thinking about giving Bikram yoga a try. First, don't run before going to class. I did a 5K training run a couple hours run before class. I felt fine in the beginning, but then came the warrior poses (lunges). After several of these strength building poses, my legs started to shake. It could just mean I'm a weakling, but I think the running had a bit to do with it. Second, try to arrive to class early. Unfortunately my friends and I were running a bit behind, so by the time we arrived the only spots left were right next to the heater. I ended up the closest to the dreaded heat machine. I could feel the heat blowing on me the entire class. And third, while you may think wearing yoga shorts and a sports bra is a good idea, it really isn't. The sports bra is ok, if you wore a shirt or a tank top it would be soaked with sweat. But the yoga shorts weren't the best idea. There are poses where you have to balance your foot on the inside of your leg, but of course, my foot just slipped right down my leg because off all the sweat. It's also more difficult to grab your legs when you need to. So capris would probably work best.

I definitely think I'll be giving Bikram yoga another try real soon. I was not sore the next day, probably because the heat takes some of the stress off your muscles. I also felt great and my complexion looked better from all the sweating. If you're interested, the place I went to was called Yoga Energy Studio in St. Petersburg. The teacher was great and there isn't a set price for class. You're just asked to donate what you can afford. There is also a studio called Yogani in Tampa that is suppose to be nice.

Namaste :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Living La Vita Coco

Move over Smart Water, I have a new "go-to" health drink - Vita Coco. This coconut water is amazing. It is loaded with electrolytes, like magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and calcium. It also has 15 times more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade, which is great for your legs.

There are several other non-sporting benefits to coconut water. It helps detox your body, improves your complexion, boosts your immune system and aids with digestion. It's also fat and cholesterol free with no added sugars. All pluses in my book.

I have to admit, I was a bit leery about trying Vita Coca. The company slogan is "just like sticking a straw in a coconut." Well, when I went to Jamaica last year, I tried coconut water directly from a freshly cut coconut. I was not impressed. Actually, my friends and I thought it tasted awful. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I popped open the tetra pack and gave Vita Coco a taste. Maybe it was because it was cold and pasteurized. I also like that it comes in a variety of flavors, including acai pomegranate, peach mango and pineapple.

Don't worry Smart Water. You're still one of my favorite beverages. I just have a new drink for replenishing my body after long training runs. One that's not too sweet or salty, like sports drinks.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Namaste Needed

Consider this my confession: My name is Hello Kimmy and it's been more than two weeks since my last yoga session. Who knew yoga would have such an affect on my running? Sure I know any form of stretching is great for runners, but that's not why I started yoga. I was actually a yogi before I became a serious runner. I like the relaxation and strength aspect of the practice. Now, after more than two weeks without yoga and running more than eight miles a week, I'm starting to notice the positive effect it has on my running. My itiotibial bands feel much better. There's no soreness after longer runs.  Also, my legs feel stronger, which is allowing me to run at a faster pace. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to my regular yoga class this week. Namaste is desperately needed. Until then, I have a double date with my foam roller and roller stick.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Miles For Moffitt = Best Race Ever

As I've mentioned before on this blog, my marathon training really doesn't begin until July. So until then, I've been running a couple days a week and entering short races like 5Ks and 10Ks. It's keeping me in shape, but it's also allowed me to speed up my pace a bit. My first short race was Sunday. The Miles For Moffitt 5 Mile Run. This was my best race to date. I finished with a time of 46:25. Since I've never run a 5 mile race before, it was a personal record (PR), but this race was also a personal best for me. My average pace per mile was 9:18. Of course, I know from my trusty Garmin Forerunner that my best mile was by far my last. I ran mile 5 in 8:28 (which included a 14mph sprint to the finish line). I also know I finished 26th among the 90 women in my age group and 341 out of the 944 men and women who ran the race.

I know this post sounds like I'm bragging and I am. This is a really big accomplishment for me, a person who usually just runs slow and steady to the finish line. I'm pushing myself a bit and it's paying off. It also gives me hope for next month's Oldsmar Tap House 5K. The first 50 men and 50 women to cross the finish line get a free Das Boot that can be filled with free beer the rest of the night. That's my goal. I'm running for a Das Boot, baby! And even if I don't get the Das Boot, I still get the free beer, so it's win-win. :)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Injury #1

Well... I guess I get to use the new ice packs I bought for training. My left knee is injury #1. I have no clue what I did to it. I ran a 5K training run Tuesday, no problem. Did yoga for an hour last night, no problem. Then a few hours later while walking up stairs, sharp pain in my left knee when I bent and put weight on my leg. It's still a little sore a day later. I really hope it's something minor and goes away by the weekend. I need to get in a 5 mile training run to prepare for my Miles For Moffitt race next weekend.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Good... The Bad... And The Garmin

I guess you can now call me a serious runner. Why? Because I now own a Garmin Forerunner 305. What's that? It's an amazing GPS training watch. Sure, it may be HUGE on my tiny little wrist, but this is going to help me tremendously with my training.

What's good about the Garmin? It tracks your time, distance, pace, heart rate, speed... all while recording exactly where you're running in the world.

What's bad about the Garmin? It tracks your time, distance, pace, heart rate, speed... all while recording exactly where you're running in the world. There's no way you can cheat yourself while training.

I took the watch out for a training run yesterday. Just a 5K down Bayshore Boulevard. I was amazed at how it was tracking my time, distance and pace. Hooray, no more going online, plotting runs and hoping I ran the full distance. I now know exactly how far I'm running. That's great. However, I found myself constantly looking at the watch to see my progress, probably because it's my new toy. But knowing how far you want to go and how far you've actually gone can be a downer. Of course, last night it was ridiculously hot and there really wasn't any shade, so that didn't help. I was ready for my 5K to end quickly.

Another cool thing about the Garmin is that you can upload your workout to your computer. It was cool to see how it worked. It pulled up a map and showed me the exact route I ran. There were several different charts, including one that tracked when my pace slowed and quickened along the route. There were also sections showing my speed, heart rate, calories burned, elevation and more. Here's a small glimpse of some of the information it provided.

I really have a lot more to learn about this device, but I have a feeling it's going to be a GREAT training partner. I was skeptical when I read a bunch of reviews where people said they can't imagine running without it and don't know why they didn't buy it sooner. Now, I see what they mean. My Garmin will now be going everywhere my running shoes and I go from now on.