Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot

Hello lovely people! Monday being a holiday totally messed me up and I keep thinking I'm a day behind (not that I am complaining...the weekend is that much closer!).

This past week was weird exercise-wise. Last Monday, I went to a trainer through a Groupon deal I got and she kicked my behind. I actually think she wasn't concerned enough about my form and for the next few days, I had insanely tight quads and IT bands. This was problematic and made running very painful. I had to listen to my body (#1 rule I try to abide by) by slowing down the runs I did and taking more rest days.
When I finally felt ready to tackle my 22 miler this weekend, it was during a heat advisory in Philly. I went out early for me (10:30 am), but in retrospect, it wasn't early enough. At first, the heat didn't seem that bad as there was a slight breeze and I was running along a mostly shaded path. As the long run progressed, the shade disappeared and so did my ability to run decently. My pace slowed down a lot and I struggled to breathe at times. I was only able to finish 20 miles, which says a lot; I never cut runs short, so if I do, it's for a really good reason.

With the heat wave we're going through and summer approaching, I figured I'd give some tips on exercising outside in the heat. 
  1. Hydrate, hydrate hydrate: Make sure to be extra hydrated and that doesn't mean just drinking right before your workout. Make sure you are hydrated the day before and that you hydrate seriously after your workout.
  2. Consider time of day and location for your workout: Think about getting up a bit earlier than normal to avoid the heat. Sometimes it is cooler at night, but when I got home today, it was still 90 degrees. Also, think about working out in locations that have a good amount of shade and if possible, water fountains so that you can stay hydrated. 
  3. Dress for the weather: This sounds stupid, but make sure you dress appropriately. I try to avoid black when I can in the heat (even black hats!) and I try to wear clothes that properly absorb my sweat. There are some runners who run in long-sleeved compression shirts and they say this helps to spread out their sweat, which leads to quicker evaporation. I haven't experimented with this, but it's something to consider. 
  4. Lower your expectations: It takes people 2-6 weeks, on average, to acclimate to the heat. Some people adjust more quickly and it's easier to do so if you aren't spending the rest of your day constantly in air conditioning (like I do...whoops). Know that while your body acclimates, a normally easy exercise for you will be much more taxing. Relax and don't beat yourself up about it. 
Hope everyone stays safe in the heat! Can't believe it's already the unofficial start of summer!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mind the Ducks 2012 Race Report

Another year, another Mind the Ducks race completed. I can't believe it! This year was definitely an interesting year and while I didn't make my mileage goals, I learned a lot and am so happy to have been at this year's race. Like always, this report is long, so you have been warned!

Before the race even started, I knew it would be different for a handful of reasons. Most importantly, my mom/sherpa for races couldn't make it. She's not missed a single marathon or ultramarathon before this one and couldn't get out of a work conflict. Instead, the BF came as my support. It was tough to be there without her as she's truly my #1 supporter with my crazy running, but I was so lucky to have the BF come instead and boy, I couldn't have done it without him. 

The BF and I got to Rochester on Friday, explored the town, picked up last minute items I needed, and went back to the hotel to relax. We found a local bar/Italian restaurant to eat dinner and get my carbs in. I came back, laid all of my clothes out, organized everything in our bags for the race day, and then walked the BF through where and what everything was (he didn't know electrolyte pills existed, which he thought was pretty cool). While my mom and I have a settled upon system, I was worried how the BF would work out ours.
Start of the race (Photo by Tom Perry)
After decent, but not great sleep (per usual for the night before a race), we packed up and drove the quick 10 minute drive to the race. Getting there was still nerve-wracking because I was still mentally in denial that I was truly about to run/walk for 12 hours. I picked up my bib, said hey to some of the racers I knew from previous years, found a spot for the BF to sit that had some shade, but was also really close to the path, and just nervously walked around.

Soon enough, the race was underway! The first hour felt like it took forever because I was able to keep track mentally of the laps. I kept looking at my pace and I was going faster than I wanted to, but I felt like I was moving so slowly. Once the first hour was over, I lost count of my laps, which was great for me mentally as I slowly got into a rhythm and didn't think so much about how many laps I was doing in an hour.
(Photo by Tom Perry)
The temperatures got to abnormal highs for Rochester that time of year and the heat hit very early. Around hour 3.5-4, the heat really hit and nearly everyone was affected by it. I had downplayed the heat in my head before the race, but I really wasn't prepared for it. I found myself really slowing down, which wasn't something I did the last two years at this race. I started to freak out a bit mentally, especially because of how exhausted I felt, but I just kept on pushing forward.

**Warning: discussion of bodily fluids coming up!** Around 6 hours in, I realized I hadn't been drinking enough. I went to use the restroom and my urine wasn't just yellow, it was dark yellow. Bad bad! I knew I couldn't keep running like I was or something bad would happen. I talked with Shelley, the RD, to confirm that I was dehydrated. She told me I needed to sit down and drink a lot of water. I told her if I sat down, I'd never get up and got her okay to walk around if I agreed to religiously drink water.

(Photo by Tom Perry)
The next 45 minutes were painful. The BF was amazing and walked them with me, pushing me to drink and eat (I hadn't been eating enough, either) the whole time. I needed to be pushed to do that, so he was amazing to do that. At this point, I hit a serious mental low. I was in 3rd or 4th place for the females, but kept seeing all of these women pass me with each lap I walked. I was so physically drained and I knew there was still about 5 hours left in the race. I so badly wanted the race to just be over. The BF wouldn't have any of my negativity and kept pushing me to think positively.

After those 45 minutes of walking, eating, and drinking, I had enough of it and couldn't handle the lack of running while everyone else was (even if the heat had slowed down most everyone else, too). I slowly got back into the running/walking cycle I had created and actually felt pretty good. The walking time allowed me to save some energy and although I was running so much slower than I'd like, I knew that was all I could do and was at peace with it.

With 10 hours left, I realized at the pace I was going, I was going to come very close to not getting in 60 miles. That was just unacceptable to me since my first year I ran ~59 miles and last year, I ran 68.8; I had to do at least 60! I told myself I had to pick up the pace and deal with the pain later. I picked it up and was going around marathon pace. I also was the 3rd placed female (1st was Deb Patterson, who ran an unbelievably smart race, and 2nd was Kelly Nash, who was there last year and is a talented and tough racer). I realized that not too many laps separated all three of us (Deb was 4 ahead of me, meaning 2 miles, and Kelly was 2 laps). My increased pace could possibly change up the places and my hyper-competitive nature fueled the pace for my legs.
(Photo by Tom Perry)
Running that fast at the end of the race really does feel amazing. Everyone at the race was supportive and nice, saying things like, "Someone got their second wind," "Way to kick it, girl!," and "Looking strong!"Just after the 11th hour started, I was able to pass Kelly and sneak into 2nd place. I felt determined and with Deb only 1.5 laps ahead of me, I felt like the fox on the hunt. Sadly, this fox lost all of her steam with 30 minutes left. The BF ran a lap or two with me trying to coax me to keep up my pace so I could catch Deb, but I just couldn't do it. I wish so badly that I had it left in me to do so, but I had left it all out there and fell short by just 30 minutes. I trudged through the last 30 minutes just to get them done. In the end, I finished with 61.7 miles, just .5 miles away from 1st place.
Can't say I look great towards the end of races (Photo by Tom Perry)
When I finished the race, I knew I hadn't met any of my original goals, but the heat was nothing I had even considered when creating my goals. I felt happy that I had not quit like I wanted to, came back from dehydration, ran a decent amount of miles, and for the third year running, was the 2nd placed female at this race. Days after, though, I got the post-race blues and started questioning my race. Could I have pushed harder that last 30 minutes to catch Deb? Could I have raced a little smarter to take into account the heat? I had run 7 more miles last year, so I just honestly felt a bit down on myself. Now, 8 days later, I'm feeling more at peace with the race, but with more fire in my soul to come back next year and prove I can do even better.

This race, though, will be one I always come back to. The course is beautiful, the volunteers are amazing, and the RD, Shelley, puts on such a well-run and fun race. The racers who come are always sweet, competitive, and supportive. I got to meet some amazing people and even witness a US record be set (way to go, Mary!). While I missed so many friends from previous years like Jesse (virtual hippie training friend extraordinaire), Vanessa, and Ryan, I met great new friends like Patrick and can't wait to meet new ones next year.


Total Miles: 61.7
Place: 2nd Female, 6th Overall
Toenails lost: 0!!!!! That's a first!!!

Here's the race video from Shelley, if you are interested:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fun weekends lead to race weeks

Hello lovely people! Did everyone have good weekends? I surely hope so! I had a fun weekend that included a birthday celebration for a friend, then driving back home to MD to visit family that was in town. My great uncle Bert was in town from Miami and he's such a hoot, I couldn't pass up visiting him. Look at how awesome he is! He's 87, too. What a badass.
He had no idea who Snoop Dogg was, but he still used the glass. Yes, that is a cup my mother owns...
I also baked! I clearly enjoy baking and when the BF, brother, and I got to MD Saturday afternoon, we had about 5 hours to kill before the fam was coming over. A normal person who has had plans and traveled every weekend for the past 6 weeks would have relaxed, but I just had to bake! I wanted to make something with lemon and when the BF suggested a lemon meringue pie, I quickly found a recipe online and made it (I didn't save the recipe or I'd link to it because it was divine!).
Not going to lie, this is probably one of the prettiest pies I've made.
With the fun weekend almost over, I've got a crazy and nerve-wracking week ahead! Although I've got some amazing things this week (seeing Allen Stone tomorrow night and going to a Phillies game Wednesday), I've got my 12 hour race in t-minus 6 days. Where has the time gone?! I am more at peace with where I am training-wise with this race and I am getting more excited about it, but I am starting to get a more semi-permanent case of butterflies in my stomach.

One thing I'm shortly going to do is create my running playlist. I will be listening to some podcasts during the race ("RadioLab" and "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" are favorites of mine), but I still need at least 10 hours of music to listen to. I've got some favorites that are always on my running playlist, but I've got to add some new songs to round out the list. If you've got any favorite songs to work out to, or just songs you love in general, I'd love to know!

Okay, happy Sunday, everyone! Have a great week and don't forget to let me know any sweet songs to put on my playlist.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cashew Butter Cups Recipe

My week has been busy and although I had an awesome week last week, including the Philly Food Swap and some good tapering miles, I am too worn down to blog about it. As promised, here's the recipe for my Cashew Butter Cups. Let me know if anyone makes these!

Cashew Butter Cups 
(makes approximately 30 mini chocolate cups)

  • 1 lb of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 T of coconut oil
  • 1 recipe of cinnamon maple cashew butter
  • Sea salt (optional)

  1. Pour chocolate chips and coconut oil into microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds until smooth.
  2. Line a mini-muffin tin with mini-cupcake liners.
  3. Pour approximately 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner.
  4. Next, spoon ¾-1 teaspoon of cashew butter into muffin tin on top of the chocolate.
  5. Top cashew butter with 1 teaspoon of chocolate.
  6. If wanted, lightly sprinkle each chocolate cups with sea salt. I highly suggest it!
  7. Place cups in freezer or refrigerator until firm.
  8. Enjoy!
Cinnamon Maple Cashew Butter

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 5 T real maple syrup
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • 1 T coconut butter (optional)* 

  1. Set oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss cashews in maple syrup, then pour mixture onto baking sheet.
  3. Bake in oven for 13-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to ensure nuts are not burning.
  4. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour baked cashews into food processor and process until butter forms.
  6. Add cinnamon and salt and process to evenly disperse spices.
  7. Enjoy! 

*Note: My food processor is small, therefore struggles to make nut butters. I had to add around 1 T of coconut oil in order for the cashew butter to form and it still was not a smooth one. I personally like a chunky nut butter, but if you have a nicer food processor or do not like the flavor of coconut, you can omit the coconut oil. 

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!!