Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Juicing Experience

When my 26th birthday was approaching a few weeks ago, John asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I'd been pining for a juicer and once I agreed to find room for it in our apartment (1 bedroom apartments aren't always the best for storing loads of kitchen appliances), he ordered me one and within 48 hours, it had arrived!
My first homemade juice! Beet, apple, and kale
I have read quite a bit about juicing vs. smoothies and while I love making smoothies for breakfast (easy way to get loads of veggies and fruits), I love a cold, refreshing juice when I can. Juicing allows you to get tons of nutrients and vitamins in an easy and concentrated way, but with that, you are losing out on the produce's fiber. So far, I've been making both smoothies and juices in order get the health benefits of both.
Swamp juice aka kale, carrots, and blood oranges
When people hear about juicing, they think about juice cleanses. I, personally, enjoy chewing my food far too much to ever do a real juice cleanse. I tried a one day cleanse when a friend who worked at a juice company sent me coupons, but by mid-day, I was missing chewing and downright hungry. While food should be about nutrients and vitamins, it also for me is about experience. I love cooking or baking, sitting down to a meal, relaxing, and chewing. Instead of cleansing, I've been enjoying a fresh, cold juice first thing in the morning, normally after a work out. I've even gotten the boyfriend to enjoy the veggie-packed juices! We have used it to make mixers for alcoholic drinks, but if you're going to have a mixer, why not make it fresh?

The foam on top of this grapefruit, orange, romaine, and
mint juice was so pretty! 
 Overall, this has been an awesome birthday present and I love using it.

Have you tried juicing? Thoughts about it? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

ICY-8 Race Report

For not racing for 6 months of 2013, I really am making up for it with all of the racing I've been doing since October. I actually won entry into this race forever ago through a charity raffle, so it's been on my race calendar for nearly a year! I had a friend run it before and he said good things, so I was really excited for some time on the trails!

After training Friday night from Philly to my mom's house in MD, eating a late dinner, and crashing, I woke up at 4:30 AM, got ready, and hopped in the car with my saint of a mother, who was going to drive me the 2 hours there and back, as well as be my cheering section. When we arrived at Lake Anna in Spotsylvania, VA, I rushed to use the bathroom, get my bib, and head to the race meeting. I loved how the RD, Alex, ran the meeting as he asked any other RDs to share their races (and I got to talk about the Rocky 50k. Eek!). He also had ultra newbies stand in a group so they could get the awesome spotlight and asked us ultra vets to provide any advice and encouragement. Soon enough, the race began!
Right before the start. Note the hat! :D
The race was an 8 hour race and runners had the option to either run an 8 mile loop or a 4.7 mile loop. I signed up for the Groundhog Day division, which meant I agreed to run only one loop in one direction (I chose the 4.7 mile loop) the entire race. Call me crazy, but I knew I'd prefer a shorter loop to a longer one, so why not just sign up for the special division? I was not alone, either!

My original goal was to run 9 laps, but after I started the first lap, I realized I had underestimated the course and slightly overestimated my trail running abilities (which are quite low haha). The course was open to horseback riders, and for the first few laps, you could tell that they had been on the course as the mud at parts was choppy and rock solid. It was definitely an easy course to roll an ankle in spots if you weren't paying attention!
Me finishing my 3rd lap
I had a weird emotional cycle during this race as every other loop, I would go from happy, confident, and excited to lonely, tired, and frustrated. My first lap felt tough as I was just doing the lap for the first time, but right when my second lap started, I was super pumped and loving the course! The third lap, I was back to being down in the dumps, especially since I realized I would probably only get in 8 laps as opposed to my original goal of 9. My fourth lap was a good one as I knew I was going to be halfway done by the time I finished it.
My favorite part of the course. It was so pretty!
I bargained with myself to not listen to my iPhone (music or podcasts) until I was done 4 loops and I'm glad that I did. I was able to socialize with the runners early on and when we all spread out quickly on my earlier loops, I was able to focus on the trails and work on some mental toughness. The last 4 laps, I slowed down considerably due to the course warming up and getting super muddy, but I enjoyed the trails and the NPR podcasts that I listened to.
5 laps in. Mom: How are you feeling? Me: Tired.
This shit's long.
The last two laps were nerve-wracking because I wasn't sure if I'd finish my 8th lap in time, so I spent less than 30 seconds at the start/finish area after my 7th lap before heading back on the course (I even missed my mom, but I had to get out there) and I pushed so hard the last lap. Thankfully, I finished with about 7.5 minutes to go and I was really happy with how I did with the 8 laps. According to the official results, I finished 37.6 miles in 7 hours and 53 minutes, but my GPS clocked me at 39.31 miles. I'm going to believe my watch. :D
Finally done!
In the end, I didn't hit my first goal, but I quickly realized how unrealistic it was. I also ran nearly all of the course, only waking the first .25 miles of the last 4 laps as it was uphill and only in super slick muddy areas. I would say that I walked only about 1.25 miles of the course and for being a road runner, I'm super proud of that.  I also finished 3rd female in the Groundhog Day division, but am slightly bummed because if I hadn't signed up for it and still run my same distance, I would have been 2nd overall female. It's really not a big deal (or so I tell my ego), but it would have been fun to have placed that way.

Overall, I had a great time, I got to spend a lot of time working on my trail running, and I had my awesome mom to support me. It was a great day for sure!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Maybe I don't hate yoga...

I've had a fledgeling relationship with yoga for the last handful of months. I know how good it is for me and my health, but during classes, I've not enjoyed it at all. I enjoy the feeling of being done a class far more than actually being in one. I've stopped going to classes because honestly, I hated paying for something that I didn't enjoy. Like many people who force themselves to eat healthy foods when they don't want to, I felt that way about yoga. Until this week...

This week, a friend and co-worker asked me if I wanted to join her for a Bikram yoga class near our office after work. I agreed to go without really thinking that I would probably hate it (like the person who orders a salad because they know it's good, only to remember they hate salads). As I ran there (in snow boots, no less) to make it to the class on time, I wondered, "Why am I doing this? I don't like yoga."
The 26 poses done in every Birkam yoga class
I hurriedly signed in, set up my mat next to my friend, and let the 105 degree heat and upped humidity hit me. I was about to sweat and not enjoy myself for 90 minutes. But as the class progressed, I found myself, dare I say, enjoying the class. Yes, the heat and humidity was hard, but I adjust somehow and just focused on my poses and doing my best.

In the end, I actually really enjoyed it. The heat allowed me to get deeper into poses. I also enjoyed the lack of Sun Salutations, which I usually detest in other styles. I ended up taking my shirt off, doing most of the practice in a sports bra and shorts. Did I feel comfortable? Far from it! I'm really self-conscious of my midsection, but with so many other people in minimal clothing and the heat getting oppressive, I just stopped caring. There was something so freeing about not caring (okay, not caring AS much), so I think that added to the class enjoyment. The teacher was also friendly, funny, and helpful, which is a key!

I ended up getting the intro pass, so I spent $30 for 30 days of unlimited classes. Can't beat it! I hope that I can continue to go as I know it'll be a great counter to my ultra marathon training now.