Wednesday, January 3, 2018

It's a New Year and BOCO Gear Ambassador

Where did 2017 go? It almost seems like I blinked and now it's 2018! Despite my set back with the knee injury, I truly had a great running year.

My Biggest Accomplishments of 2017:
1. Completing my second LA Marathon and getting a BIG PR
2. Completed my second SoCal Ragnar with running the longest legs and doubling a run at night
3. Ran 40 miles at Nanny Goat (12 Hour Race)
4. Taking more time to run on the trails
5. High mileage each month, for the first 6 months
6. Recovering and coming back to running post injury

Now looking on word to 2018! I'm currently training for a 50K trail race in March. I'm super excited for this race for two reasons: this will be my longest distance since Nanny Goat this past May and my BRF from back home is coming out to run it with me. We try to find a race to do together every year so that we see each other. I always look forward to our running adventures. As for the training part, I've been taking it slowly and really watching the knee. There have been days where I've felt great and then there are those days where I end up cutting back or completely cutting out the run. I'm not where I want to be yet but I'm getting there. I have a hard time finding a balance with running and strengthening. I would rather be using all my exercise time to run. I work best when I have a schedule so for this next week I want to sit down and make one. I need to probably do some rearranging of my training plan so that I can work the strength training in to it.

My Goals for 2018:
1. Find the balance between running and strength training
2. On Sunday nights, take 30-45 minutes and do some yoga to stretch out the body
3. Run 3 Trail Races that are 50K distance or higher
4. Return to Nanny Goat, sign up for the 24 Hour Race and complete a minimum of 75 miles
5. Find more trails to adventure on
6. Drink more water

I'm also starting the New Year as a BOCO Gear Ambassador! I just received my welcome email last night. I'm very honored and excited to be representing them this year. I have been wearing the BOCO Trucker style hats for a while but what really turned me on to this brand is their Run Visor. Orange Mud uses BOCO for some of their visors and it's all I generally run in. I like the fit and it keeps the sweat out of my eyes! It is lightweight, has velcro on the back for adjustments, the underside of the bill is black to reduce glare and it has held up great in the washing machine. I can't wait to meet my BOCO Team and add even more visors and hats to my collection. I know it doesn't get very cold here in SoCal but I'm thinking I might need to get some of their warmer head gear too, just in case.

I'm looking forward to this year and reaching all my goals. I might even find myself adding to the list along the way. Let the 2018 Adventures begin!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Injured Runner Making a Comeback

As a runner, what is the one thing you dread to hear? For me, it was “you’ve injured your knee and need to rest from running for the next three months”. It was like someone sucker punched me in the gut. I was fighting back tears in the Orthopedic office as the doctor brought in a surgeon that specialized in patella stabilization. Basically the MRI revealed that I had some cartilage damage under the patella and the doctor said that it was caused from my patella popping out of its groove. My mind was going blank and a wave of nausea came over me as they both talked about surgery. Thank goodness my background is in Physical Therapy so I already knew most of what they were talking about. My mind just could not focus in. Finally I heard the words “rehab” come out of the doctor’s mouth and I forced myself to listen. The doctor felt that if I could strengthen the muscles on my injured leg, both my hips and work on stretching then I might be able to avoid surgery and get back to my running. The doctor was giving me three months to do my own rehab and then I had to report back for a follow up where we would decide if I’ve done enough on my own or if surgery was the next step. I was also given a Donjoy patella stabilization brace to wear when working out and basically wear anytime that I was not elevating my leg on the couch with ice. 

Over the next three months I worked my butt off in the gym at our apartment complex. I was not allowed to do any cardio for the first few weeks because my knee was still swollen. I stuck with my resistance band workouts and stretching for the first bit. Once the swelling in the knee went away then I got to add in some light cardio but in the form of a rowing machine or stationary bike.  I ended up going with the row machine because I enjoyed the rhythm it provided, it reminded me of running. As the weeks went by I advanced from the lighter bands to the harder bands and then eventually the weighted machines. I could go longer on the row machine and felt rewarded for my efforts by the amount of sweating I was doing. 

At first, my mind would stay focused on my workouts. I was busy thinking about what exercise to do, keeping count of reps and sets and listening to how my body was feeling. Once I added in longer time on the row machine I found myself letting my mind wonder, which is one of the things I love about running. At some point though, it became unhealthy. I started to let being injured get me down. I would think about all that I accomplished this year leading up to my injury and wished that I was already that strong runner. I was happy for my running friends when they posted about their training runs and races but I was also jealous. I was scared that even though I was doing everything I could that it would not be enough in the end and that surgery would be the next step. As I put a smile on my face with everyone I was hoping that they couldn’t see the invisible rain cloud that was hanging over me. All the progress I was making was starting to suffer as I began to dread going to the gym. I had to refocus and fast. I ended up down loading a bunch of pod casts, including the Adventure Channel from Orange Mud, on my phone to listen to so that my mind wouldn’t wonder to those not so fun places. It totally did the trick and I was right back on track.

As my follow up appointment was about two weeks away, I felt that I was ready to test the water. I emailed my Orthopedic doctor and asked if I could experiment some with a few light runs before I came back to see him. Surprisingly he agreed! I was able to do a couple of half mile runs and then a couple of 1 mile runs but only if my knee didn’t swell and I had to be pain free. I also had to run at a slow pace on a solid surface. Done and done!

Even though my first run was only half a mile, I was geared up from head to toe. I sported my Tailwind Nutrition hat, Orange Mud Gear Vest with a soft flask of water in the front pocket, an Orange Mud tank, INKnBURN shorts, my trusty Donjoy brace and a pair of Hoka One One running shoes. I know it must sound silly to many people but I found it to be normal, which is something that I had been missing over these last few months. It is normal for me to wear a hat or visor, an Orange Mud hydration pack, a tank top that goes well with a pair of shorts or skort, to have Tailwind in my water and to wear my Hoka running shoes. I was finally getting back to being myself. What didn’t feel so great was the run. I started off with a 1 mile walk and then eased into the half mile run. I had no pain during my run but I sure did suck some wind. I kept looking at my running watch and couldn’t get over how long the short distance was taking to complete. It felt like forever. After I completed my run I made sure to cool off with a slow 1 mile walk back to the car. In many ways I was pumped about my progress and in other ways I was feeling defeated. 

Over those next two weeks I worked my way up to a 1 mile run. I listened to my body and knew when to take it slower. As I sat in the waiting room for my follow up, I found myself texting back and forth with my BRF from back home. I was looking for comfort and support because all I wanted to do was vomit. My body was shaking and my mind was racing. This was judgment day and I was scared to hear what the doctor had to say. I could tell that the doctor saw my worry as he entered in the room. Right away the doctor gave me hope as he told me how much stronger my leg looked. The doctor took some measurements, moved my leg around and had me do a series of movements. I was told to continue with my strengthening, wear my brace only when being active and that I could start increasing my miles. Of course the first thing out of my mouth was “do you think I can get myself ready for a 50K trail race in four months”. The doctor gave a little chuckle and told me yes but that I need to really ease back into the distances and to stay on even ground for the first little bit. Done and done!! I was left with a warning though, if my patella was to pop out of the groove again then I need to come back in for it to be looked at and will need to have a serious talk about surgery.
So here I am, one whole week into my 50K training. I’m feeling good and taking it slow. I’ve had a few 2 mile runs, some strength training days and completed my first long run. Even though my long run was only 5.25 miles (4 running miles and 1.25 walking miles) it is the longest distance since my 16 mile long run back in July and I’m pretty proud of it. I’m taking it one day at a time and making sure to listen to my body. I’ve got my eye on the Griffith Park 50K Trail race in 2018 and then a whole list of races to do after that.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pediactric Cancer Research Foundation Half Marathon

I'm very pleased at how well my body recovered from the LA Marathon, especially since I had the PCRF Half Marathon (March 26, 2017) to run just a week after it. I had very little soreness and no dehydration, unlike the last time I ran LA. I attribute this to my level of training and also using my Tailwind Nutrition in my water bottles. My goals for PCRF was to help raise money with my Team Renegade for cancer research, listen to my body and to run the race with friends.

This was my second year running the PCRF Half Marathon. I love what this race stands for and it meant a lot to me to be able to participate in it. On a personal note, a family member was hit with a rare childhood cancer out of the blue and she fought with everything thing she had to beat it. She is currently in remission but still has to have blood work done frequently and is closely monitored. Just like I did last year, I ran this race for her.

The race course took me by surprise last year! My town tends to be pretty flat for the most part but form this race I learned that there can be some pretty hilly sections. I had not expected some of the hills and slow building inclines. This year, with the help of marathon training, I came to this race better prepared. My running partner, who trained with me for LA, also got talked into running this half. Peer pressure from running friends is a very real thing :P We ran the race at a comfortable pace and made sure to keep ourselves hydrated. Of course we stopped along the way to take some pictures because that's just what we do.

The race starts (and finishes) at the local community college campus, runs down a local street and then connects over to the running/bike path. We then connected into a neighborhood that brought us to another running/bike path to take us over the interstate and towards Quail Hill, where I love to run the trails there. This race did not take us on the trails but up a rather big hill and headed towards another local college campus. After a few miles we turned to cut through another neighborhood and then jumped back onto the original running/bike path that we first started out on. This section tends to be a hard one, mentally, since you are running about half a mile past the finish area and then turning around to head back to cross the finish line. Each way we ran on the course there was always a group of volunteers cheering everyone on and making sure to hand out water and fuel.

Once you cross the finish line you are invited to stay and enjoy the activities and food trucks that they have set up. It's extremely kid friendly. The parking is easy to get in and out of with lots of spaces to pick from. They offer bib packet pick up the day before the race and before the race itself. The race distances consisted of a Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and kids run. I'm looking forward to running this race again next year.

I was rocking my Renegade Race Series visor, Orange Mud VP2, Tailwind Nutrition in both water bottles, INKnBURN Lucky tank and skirt, PROcompression socks and Topo shoes.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Redemption at LA Marathon

It was 2 years ago that I first ran the LA Marathon and it just so happen to be my first marathon ever. I did not stick with my running schedule and was not prepared both nutritionally and all the hills/inclines on the course. The weather was miserable with the temperature reaching around 99* and sunny skies. It was so hot that the race even started a whole hour early!! I needed a redemption this year at LAM and I GOT it!! My marathon time this year was 5:19 which was a PR of 1 hour and 14 minutes.
This time I made sure to not only focus on my training plan but also my nutrition. For the last 2 years I have only been using Tailwind in my water for all my runs. I seriously never run without it! Even if it's just a short run, I will put at least a scoop of Tailwind in my water. It has truly made a difference in how I feel both during and post runs. For LAM this year I used my back two bottles on my Orange Mud VP2 to hold 2 scoops of Tailwind in each. I had a soft flask with water in my front left pocket on my chest. I did not need to refill my Tailwind during the race but did refill my soft flask twice with water. I never had that bonking feeling and didn't have to stop to use the bathroom along the course. Unlike the first year I ran LAM, I spent a good chunk of time in the bathroom around mile 10 with stomach issues.

I absolutely love this race. It's a point to point race starting at Dodger Stadium and ending near the Santa Monica Pier. The crowd support is amazing! So many people are out cheering you on and providing yummy snacks along the way. Not to mention you get to see a bunch of touristy things all at one time and with no traffic!! This year the weather was near perfect! The downside to LAM this year was their expo. I just was not a fan. When you first walked in, there was the runner wall. Unfortunately they plastered Sketcher Performance sign in the middle of one section and my name was completely covered. They also had pictures of their ambassadors on the runner wall covering up other runner's names. Just not cool. The official marathon gear did not offer a great selection. The female shirts ran small, were SUPER low cut at the chest and most of the logos ran across the boob area. Lots of neon colored tops that were very form fitting and not a big variety to pick from. I LOVED the LAM expo in 2015 when Asics did it.

For race day I wore my favorite INKnBURN water shorts and paired it with the Ella tank. I had on my Orange Mud VP2 with the accessory bag on the back, my visor and buff. I did start the race in my OM arm sleeves but took them off at some point and stuffed them into the accessory bag. In the accessory bag I had my ID, cards, cash, female products, travel sun screen, chap stick, extra packet of Tailwind (just in case), and my arm sleeves. I also wore my blue PRO Compression socks, Goodr sunglasses and Hoka One One Clifton 2s. I wanted to run with my new Topo Athletic Ultrafly shoes but just had not ran enough in them to see how they would do for the longer distance. I wish I had worn them because my toes ended up rubbing with my Hokas during the race.

I do not intend to return back to LAM in the future. I got what I came for and feel the need to move on. I'm thinking about replacing the LAM with the Griffith Park Marathon or 50K next March. I love the trails and would still get some amazing views of LA and the Hollywood sign.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

It's Green Here In SoCal

We have had the most rain I have seen since moving here 3 years ago. Normally around this time it's just a little green but mostly brown, especially the trails. Just 4 months ago it was completely brown and you had a hard time finding the trails because it blended in with its surroundings so well. Now you can't find the trails because the grass and plants are so green and tall. It is so tall out here that some sections were just past my shoulders. It does remind me of living back in NC where everything is green during spring and summer. However, I enjoy the weather out here more :P

My running buddy and I hit the trails for a 12 mile run the day after my Griffith Park Trail Race. Surprisingly my legs were not sore or tired at the start of our long run. I was feeling really good and attribute it to most of my training for LAM. We even ran up a good chunk of some inclined switchbacks that normally challenge us. My legs held strong until we got to mile 11 and started our last climb up a hill. I could feel my legs getting tired and for the first time in a while my toes were bothering me. I had a few rub spots on my toes from the trail race the day before. I did finish my long run strong and with no pains or soreness the rest of the day, minus my toes.

Once I got home I started looking for a new pair of trail shoes. I'm a Hoka OneOne girl. I've been running in them for almost 3 years now. Last year I tried Altra because I loved how wide the toe box is. I did a few short runs in them and they would leave my legs feeling aching, heavy and sometimes painful. I just could not get used to the zero drop. A really good friend of mine and an amazing Ultra runner told me about how in love she was with her Topo shoes. I did some research and decided to give them a try. I not only ordered a new pair of their trail shoes but also decided to give their road shoes a go. I'm hoping these Topo shoes will make my legs, feet and toes happy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Griffith Park Half Marathon Trail Race Recap

I did a Hollywood sign tour run with my running group last summer and loved it! One of the girls led the group up to the Wisdom Tree, behind the Hollywood sign and then down in front of it. I believe we did a little over 6ish miles that day. When someone in my run group mentioned a Griffith Park Trail Race, I knew I wanted to do it right away. I had heard great things about the race director Keira Henninger and how awesome her races are. I decided to sign up for the Half distance since LA is 2 weeks after this race. I later discovered that a lot of my fellow ambassadors from INKnBURN, Orange Mud and Tailwind would be there as well. Knowing these things just made me anticipate this race even more!

I was already impressed with the race even before it got started. Keira sent out an email letting us know that the runners for the Half distance would be receiving a mug, finishers medal and an additional race medal. We also were receiving a long sleeve tech shirt with girls getting pink and guys getting gray. There would be 2 aide stations that we would hit on our out and back course, along with food at the finish line. How can you not get excited over all this for just a Half. The other two distances offered was a Full and a 50K. For those finishers they received the same items except they got a Buckle and not a mug.

This was my first race that I have attended where there was an ultra distance. Already the runners and spectators were a little different. It felt more like a running community and not just a race that people showed up to do. The energy and excitement was higher and the runners were all very friendly. I got to meet up with people that I follow on FB and IG which was pretty cool. This was my farthest trail race distance to date and I was unfamiliar with the section of trails that we would be running. I also neglected to look at the course map. However, I wasn't nervous or worried about any of it. I was just happy to be there and to get out on to the course.

Keira kept to her time table and got everyone started on time for each distance. I was not out there racing for a time. I was using this race as a training run for LAM. My goals for this race was to 1. Have fun 2. Take lots of pictures 3. Run with some of my ambassador friends 4. Meet new runners and 5. Don't get hurt. I accomplished all of my goals. It was by far my slowest Half Marathon time but it was definitely the most enjoyable and fun race I have done to date.

Let me forewarn you though, there are MAJOR hills in this race. I did a lot of walking up the hills with my friends and then enjoyed running down them. Keira had the course marked to a T. Lots of signs and ribbons present so that you could not get lost. The amount of volunteers that were on the course and at the aide stations was amazing. Lets talk about these aide stations for a second. I am now completely spoiled and feel like I should have these aide stations at every race. I loved grabbing a piece of an orange, hand full of potato chips and a cup of soda. There was so much food and drink on the tables that it was even a little overwhelming. I was getting high fives and cheers from runners along the course as we passed each other. The volunteers were also very up lifting and helpful.

For the Half Marathon we started off in the Old Zoo and ran to Lower Beacon Trail. From there we went by the Bird Sanctuary and out to Dante's View. Dante's view was the turn around spot for us. We saw LA, the Hollywood sign and Charlie Brown's Christmas tree along the way. Not to mention all the gorgeous views all around us. The Marathon distance continued past Dante's View and up behind the Hollywood sign before turning around while the 50K ran a loop in front of the Hollywood sign and to the back of it meeting up with the Marathoners. As I mentioned early, lots of hills. The trails were pretty wide in most areas with a few sections.

I will definitely be back for this race next year and I hope to do the Marathon or even 50K distance.

Monday, March 6, 2017

I'm a Trailblazer!!

I received an email recently welcoming me to the Tailwind Nutrition ambassador program!!  I'm so very honored and excited to be able to represent this company and their product. I have exclusively been using their energy fuel now for 2 years. When their Trailblazer applications opened up in January, I knew I had to give it a shot. I'm so happy that I did.

For those that have never tried Tailwind before, it is a mix that you add to your water to give you energy, electrolytes and keep you hydrated during your activity. Tailwind is all you need so you can ditch those gels, bars, chews and pills. There is no film, no lingering after taste and no gooey mess to clean up. It comes in 7 flavors: Mandarin Orange, Naked, Lemon, Berry, Tropical Buzz, Raspberry Buzz and Green Tea Buzz. If a flavor has the word 'buzz' behind it then it just means it is caffeinated. Tailwind is easy on your body to absorb so you do not experience the gut bombs! For their full story and more detail about their product, visit their website here

I discovered Tailwind when I was getting ready for the LA Marathon back in 2015. I had been training with water and GUs but started to freak out over the heat wave that would be present on race day. Many suggested to add salt pills but that really made me nervous. A few INKnBURN ambassadors told me to try Tailwind so I ordered the stick pack bundle. Not knowing much about it, I made the mistake of using something new on race day and not doing too much homework on it. I just liked the idea of being able to put it in my water and drink it through out the race. One of the things that you should note about Tailwind is that you should NOT use it with other GUs and chews. Let me tell you first hand! I continued to use my GUs, on top of my Tailwind, during the race. By mile 10 I was in the bathroom for 20+ minutes.

Once I completed my first Marathon, I looked back on it to see where I could use improvements. The first thing I decided to do was to get ride of my GUs and only use the Tailwind. I will admit that it felt weird not eating anything during my runs and just relying on the Tailwind to do its job. I noticed a positive difference in myself and how my body felt during and post runs when I used my Tailwind. If I forgot it or didn't drink my recommended amount of it during my runs then I felt tired, sore and not myself. I have learned my lesson and I always keep an extra packet of lemon Tailwind on me, just in case. I even went to see a nutritionist to go over my nutrition for when I'm training for races. I brought in my Tailwind packets for her to review and she approved of it.

I would recommend getting the stick pack bundle so that you can sample all the flavors to see what you like best. Then you can order more in bulk. You can also mix up your flavors by buying 2-3 flavors. A very popular mixed flavor is Green Tea Buzz and Lemon!!