Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Arizona Half Marathon Race Report

As I stare out my window today, I really wish I would have missed my flight home from Arizona.  It is a slushy mess outside because of all of the sleet and snow.  I guess it is February in Minnesota and we have been spoiled with a warm winter.  I am glad to be home but I really could use a dose of the Arizona sun right now. So now I guess I will just share my memories.

Arizona Half Marathon Race Report
This was the inaugural event and truthfully I was a bit nervous.  I have done inaugural events in the past and there are always issues that seem to come up that seasoned races have worked out (running out of water, etc).  This was really well organized, even with an extreme venue change.  It was originally supposed to be held in Scottsdale and then it moved to Goodyear...I am not familiar with the geography of the Phoenix area, but I can describe it as really really far away from each other.  The replacement venue was beautiful and we had the Estrella Mountains as our backdrop on the out and back course.

As a Minnesota girl, I thought the weather was AMAZING.  Sunny and warm....but not hot.  There was also a nice breeze on the way back.  At the start I stuck out like a sore thumb with the locals because I was running around in short sleeves while everyone shivered in their warm ups.  I think the start was right around 50 degree (if I had to guess).

There was something about this race that was so different than every other race I have ever done.....I didn't get my pre-race nerves.  I am not sure why because I was about to tackle 13.1 miles and I could hardly run a mile without wincing.  My original goal was to run 2 miles and then do a walk/run combo and pray that I finish before the 4 hour time limit.  I revised that goal when I hit the 2 mile mark and I still felt great; I pushed it to 3 miles.....3 miles turned into 4 and 4 turned into a little over 5 miles.  Five miles without a walk break and I covered that distance at a pretty decent clip (for me, that is).  I was ecstatic....I have not run consecutive miles like that for almost 2 years despite me doing other races.  I may have blubbered a little bit like a contestant on the Biggest Loser when I achieved this.

After about 5.4 miles I decided to conserve energy and do a walk run combo for the rest of the way.  I truthfully didn't care if I walked the rest because I had completed the requirement of my marathon training long run (5 miles).  I would run to a song on my iPod then the next one I would walk.  When I was revising my goals throughout the race, I changed my 4 hour goal to 3 hours.  Then at mile 10, I decided that I wanted to try to get under 2 hour and 50 minutes.  Low and behold....I did it!  My official time was 2:50:00.  I am still in a little bit of shock that I did it.
I even got a finish line photo.  Even though there appears to be nobody around me...I did not finish last!


Me and my finishers medal


Post race celebration

A surprise from Kelli's family
The rest of the trip was fun. I got to spend some quality time with my friend and her family.  We spent a lot of time playing Wii Just Dance.  Uff dah that is a workout!!!  Her son thought it would be fun to do a tournament.  He even made a double elimination bracket for the event.  I was determined to win.  I didn't care that he was only 7 years old, I was going to kick his ass and then gloat about winning for the rest of the day.  Well, I am sad to say he killed me in the championship dance off.  For the record, that Party Rock Anthem is one hell of dance and someone practiced quite a bit.  hmmph!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Flight Randomness

  1. I am blogging on a plane and I am surfing the interwebs....IN THE AIR.
  2. I maybe a little behind the times, but this rocks my world. No more reading actual books....I am catching up on my Facebooking!
  3. Seriously, contact with others not on this plane is the best thing ever! I hardly notice the asshat kicking my chair.
  4. Oh yeah....I am an a plane heading to Phoenix to see my friend Kelli.
  5. We had this crazy idea to run a half marathon to kick off our training for Grandma's Marathon.
  6. I can hardly run a couple of miles right now.
  7. I should be okay.....there is a 4 hour limit for the half.
  8. I should be okay if I don't die after mile 3.
  9. Chubby Hubby is alone with the kids and the schedule is jam packed with activities. Something tells me he might be crabby when I return.
  10. The dude doing the Donald Duck impression really needs to put a cork in it or I really need a cocktail.
  11. I skipped my run today but got the rest of the workouts in this week including an hour of hot yoga. Yay me.
  12. That doesn't mean that I my running didn't suck. Oh well...at least I enjoyed it.
  13. Ugh...I am still fighting this never ending cold. Just when I feel better, i start getting the scratchy throat again.
  14. Chubby Hubby just sent me a video of my child on stage at his school program I had to miss.
  15. As I looked a little closer, I notice he was wearing sweatpants and a shirt with lunch on it. Gahhhhhh....thank God I am 30,000 feet in the air. Hopefully it will be obvious that dad dressed the kids.
  16. I am going to let it go and not worry about it......even though the kid looked like he crawled out of a gutter. Doesn't matter, right?
  17. I will stop arguing over Twitter now.
  18. Turbulence....yikes.
  19. Okay....maybe Donald Duck guy needs to turn on the charm again to stop the baby from crying.
  20. Ohhhh headphones and Netflix.....how I love thee. Off to watch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

I will start this Weekend Wrap-up with a PSA:
Always read food labels especially when you have life threatenting food allergies

Common sense?  Yeah, probably for most people.   I sure missed the boat on this one.  I have come to enjoy the convenience of making shakes for breakfast and after workouts.  It only took me about 10 shakes to realize that there is probably something in them that is causing my eyes to swell and my throat to get itchy.  I kept blaming it on the stuff was adding to the shakes or I blamed it on environmental factors....like the chewy little piss monster (the dog).  Seriously, with the bag half gone, I finally get the brains to look at the nutritional information only to discover that it may contain trace elements of shellfish and tree nuts (bad allergens for me and a whole bunch of other things I shouldn't have).   I pitched the rest of the shake mix and took a handful of Benedryl.  I will be smarter with reading labels (duh!).

Damn.  I really liked those shakes.

Workout Wrap-Up
Week one of marathon training kind of sucked.  I had a sick kid at home pulling her best Linda Blair impression and I was not feeling the greatest myself.  My 5 day headache finally broke last night.   
My week went like this:
Monday:  NOTHING
Tuesday:  NOTHING
Wednesday:  NOTHING
Thursday:  NOTHING
Friday:  Worked out at the Gym Elliptical and Treadmill
Saturday:  3.7 Mile Run
Sunday:  3 Mile Brisk Walk

Friday night's gym experience left me a bit frustrated.  It was insanely busy and full of students.  I grumbled to my friend that there must not be any good parties on campus because all of the students were working out on a Friday night.   I tried getting on a treadmill and there were people on all of them.....even when they didn't sign up for them.  Since I was at the top of my mood swing, I didn't kick them off even though they were clearly breaking the first commandment of the gym "Though shall sign up for the treadmill in 30 minute increments". 
I finally found one that was open and I started running.  I wanted to kick it up a notch and see how long I could run at a 9.5 minute mile (keep in mind I am a 12 to 13 minute miler right now).  Wellllll.....the treadmill got stuck.  Yes stuck and my legs could barely keep up after a few minutes.  The guy next to me was stifling a giggle.  I hit the panic button to quit the the workout and then I fired it back up.  Well the stupid thing did it again (see first paragraph....I don't always learn after the first time).  I looked like Road Runner trying to keep up with my legs.  Hit panic again and this time I ditched the machine (After obey Gym Commandment #2 "Though shall wipe down the exercise equipment").  I completed a little over a mile.  After that, I fought my way to an elliptical machine and completed the rest of my workout that way....I did almost 3 miles on that.
 
Diva Cheering on the Gophers!

The other two workouts were okay for how I was feeling.  It is not a great start to the plan but at least the plan is starting slow and builds for the next 4 weeks. 

The Rest of the Weekend:
  • 2 University of Minnesota Gopher Hockey Games. (We took Diva to her first one)
  • 6 Hockey games between the three kids
  • 1 Birthday party for my Godson (I even got to go nuts at Pump it Up....those slides ROCK!) 
The weekend has caught up with me and it is a double caffeine day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Carly's Consumer Critique-Two Awesome Products

Yaktraks Pro
Photo Credit:  Yaktrax.com
I was really excited to try Yaktrax Pro because without fail, I have a good fall every Winter.  Fortunately for me, the lack of snow has made running a lot easier.  Unfortunately, it makes making a review for Yaktraxs hard when there is no snow.    On New Year's Day, we got an ice, slush, snow mix and made a good testing ground for the Yatrax.  I have delayed this review only because I was POSITIVE that we would have some more snow.  Well....It is the middle of February and we still have nothing (you won't hear me complain!!).

Here is my experience the one time I got to use them...they were incredibly easy to put on my shoes (even though I realized I put them on backwards the first time).  Once they were on, they stayed on and they didn't move.  They also didn't add any friction any part of the shoe.  In fact, the only time I noticed that I was wearing them is when I walked on my floors in the house....they made a tap shoe like noise.  Otherwise I didn't notice that they were on and I certainly could not feel them when I ran.

I had a great testing surface as it was frozen slush, snow, and ice.  I ran through these elements with ease....at least the snow and slush.  It was just enough grip to have your foot land securely but not so much that you had to work harder to free your foot from the snow.  Ice is its own demon, the Yaktrax definitely helped but you still need to be careful.  There were a couple of spots where it was black ice on a downward slope and there was nothing to grip...I don't think anything helps in this situation.  The other thing I noticed was that the coils didn't collect snow and slush.  I wasn't sure if I would have to kick snow that got stuck in them during the run.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Maybe it was a fluke, but I haven't a chance to test this again.

Pros:

  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Great grip
  • Comfortable and didn't notice them when running
  • Very lightweight

Cons:

  • *chirping crickets*
  • None that I experienced


The verdict:

These are a must in this climate!  I feel the price tag is very reasonable at $29.99....especially since I feel this is a winter essential.  You can purchase Yaktrax online or at select retailers (I found some at REI and my local running shops).


Review #2
Zip Fizz
I received the gift from Zipfizz to try around the holidays.  I do send my apologies to the company for the delayed review....I was a little skeptical about trying it because I am not huge into energy drinks and since I am not doing any hard core training right now, I didn't see the benefit.  The kind people of Zipfizz  sent me a gift of 6 tubes in a variety of flavors (orange soda was my favorite) and a really awesome water bottle to try and challenged me to see how I feel at the end of the week.

I saw their challenge and mixed up a tube of Zipfizz every afternoon around 2:30PM.  This is usually the time I hit the wall.  I mixed one tube into cold 16oz of water and drank it.  I could absolutely feel the effects and not in a bad way.  I didn't feel jittery or nervous.  My heart did not race and I didn't sweat. I felt like it gave me a little push when I needed it but didn't go overboard.  Also, I didn't crash like I do when I have sugar.  As promised, I did feel like I had more energy.  The week I tested it was also when everyone I knew had a wicked cold.  Maybe it was my imagination, but I felt like Zipfizz helped me ward it off.

If you click the photo below, you can see how Zipfizz compares to other energy drinks.
Photo Credit:  Zipfizz



I liked it because:
  • It had a great taste.  It was sweet but it didn't hurt my teeth. 
  • Low calorie and no sugar
  • Great alternative to water.  It was almost like having pop (or soda as some of your folks say). 
  • Convenient packaging and quick to mix....although the plastic tubes seemed a bit wasteful, I liked that I could throw one in my purse to dump into water.  It was ready in seconds.  
  • I really did feel like it helped with my afternoon slump
  • Easy to find.  I was able to find this product at Target, Costco, and REI (among many other major retailers).
What I was not a fan of:

  • The cost.  I found this at Target for $9.99 for 6 tubes.  Though I liked the product, it is not in my family's budget for regular use.  I did find some online and at Costco in bulk for a slightly reduced rate, but it is still above what I am willing to spend.  With that said, it is very comparable if not a little cheaper than other energy drinks and products.  I will purchase this again and use it throughout my training but not as much or as often I would like.
Keep up with the latest on Yaktrax and Zipfizz on their  Facebook pages.

Thank you so much to Yaktrax and Zipfizz for the opportunity to test these wonderful products.
Disclaimer:  Both of the products reviewed today were given to me to test at no cost.  The opinion is my own.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

18 Weeks!

As I type this, I am mildly hyperventilating as in 18 Weeks, I will be toeing the line of Grandma's Marathon.  June seems like a long long way away....but when you break it down into weeks, it will be here before I know it.  Now I just need to figure out how to train for this bad boy.

As it stands, I am planning on doing the Novice Plan that was posted on the Grandma's Marathon website.  I think I would tweak it a little bit to include weekly yoga and cross training.  I have included a screen shot of what the plan looks like.  I think it is doable.

Another option I have available to me is a class that is offered through the Minnesota Distance Running Association.  The class is set up to meet a couple times a week to prepare for this marathon.  I am toying with the idea of joining the group so I have a bigger support system and long run buddies.  With the pros comes a few cons....I don't want to pay extra for running and I am not sure I could swing the schedule while juggling the kids activities in with marathon training.   There is an informational meeting on Thursday and I am planning on going.  It can't hurt to get more information, right?


Before I forget......Happy Valentine's Day!  This made up stupid Hallmark holiday is not my favorite.  Today it was extra special....I had a big meeting at work in which I was on the committee and I got a phone call from school to pick up a puking child.  To steal a line from Jess, we had three barfisodes in the car on the way home.  Yay.  At least it was pink.  Hope you all get to spend some puke free time with your loved ones.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Certifiable

In two weeks I will be heading out to Arizona to see my friend, Kelli.  I originally planned the trip to get a few days of warmer weather.  The visit took on on a mission and morphed into the possibility of running a 5K or 10K.   With the help of a little bit of wine, our mission turned into an adventure and we are now running a half marathon during my vacation.   It makes perfect sense for a person who has been running a whole week and can now run 2.2528 miles in a row without stopping to conquer the 13.1.  Not to mention, it is an awesome way to kick off marathon training for Grandma's Marathon in June.
 
Shall I recap that last paragraph in case you missed the insanity?
Vacation....what a nice break in winter and a few days of RnR.
Race....hahaha, I am barely running.
5K or 10K....please, I  can't even run 3 miles yet
Wine....Uh Oh.  Someone must put a lock on my liquor cabinet as this always gets me into trouble
Half Marathon.....WTF, WTF, WTF!!!!!!!!
MARATHON.....uhhhhh, well,  uhhhhh  peer pressure. Extreme peer pressure!
 

Yes, I do realize how ridiculous that sounds.  Yes, I do realize what I am in for.  What can I say....I am nuts.

I was going to keep the marathon a secret but I don't do well holding anything back.  After the Twin Cities Marathon failure in October I told myself no more.  I was done.  Then the next day....yes, the very next day I was taunted and badgered by Bobbi and Kelli.  I thought long and hard about it (5 minutes) and signed up.  I knew that if I saw those two broads cross the finish line, I would be very sad sitting on the side lines.  I caved to peer pressure.  Here I go again on the insane train to marathonville....this time I will finish.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

I finally feel like I am breaking out of my two year slump.  It was a great weekend and I am finally seeing some measurable progress.  I ran both days this weekend without taking a walk break.  This is a huge step forward.  I cannot remember the last time I was able to say this.  I have been working on mastering my neighborhood loop which is approximately 2.2528 miles.  Once that gets a bit easier, I will bump it up.  

Mother nature is helping me break this slump.....it was pushing 50 degrees here on Saturday. Normally we are buried under snow and it is barely above zero degrees.  You will not find me complaining one bit!!!  Since we are getting a reprieve from our normal winter hell, I had better not waste one single day.

With the running, I was able to sneak in a hot yoga class this weekend as well. Since I am not a football fan, I decided to skip the Super Bowl (I did catch the Half Time Show and LOVED IT).   It had been a couple of weeks since I have done the practice and I was a little worried that I would be rusty.  My balance was completely out of whack but felt great during class.  I know tomorrow might be interesting getting out of bed.  Usually the day after yoga, I feel like I got hit by a bus because my muscles are so sore.  It is a good pain.  

The rest of the weekend was of course hockey related.  The kids had practices on Saturday and games on Sunday.  My oldest had the opportunity to skate with the University of Minnesota Gopher hockey team.  Since we are big Gopher Hockey fans, he was completely and totally star struck.  It was a really fun event and these guys put the biggest smile on the kids' faces.  
A big giant gopher might be a weird and somewhat creepy mascot, but he is so cute!
How can you not love him?

Autographs!

My son and his friend grinning ear to ear while posing with Goalie, Kent Patterson

The team skated with the kids and signed autographs.  I am sure being college students this was probably the last thing these guys wanted to do on a weekend day.  I joked with my friend that the guys were probably super hungover from a Friday night bender and they were taking bets on which teammate would puke first.  If that was the case, they hid it well!  They certainly made my son's day because he got to hang out with "famous" people.