Saturday, March 23, 2013

Yoga DVD set Giveaway!!

Hooray- giveaway time!!  I'm giving away a Gaiam Beginner's Yoga 4 DVD workout set using Rafflecopter.  If you're interested, see below and enter.  Giveaway ends on Tuesday at midnight.  Good luck!!!
Open to US residents, only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The DVD set is brand new, but is out of it's plastic wrapping. I purchased it in January to use with my 8th grade yoga class, but the girls decided that they didn't want to use a DVD (they wanted ME to lead the class), so it has sat unused.  It's brand new- just needs someone to watch it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Very interesting...

I watch the Biggest Loser.  Not every show every week, but I catch about a handful throughout the season and I always watch the finale. I get teary-eyed and find myself relishing in the accomplishments of the contestants, and I love to see how much they have changed throughout the season.
My hubs came home the other night and said he read in the paper how pretty much all the contestants gain back most (and in a few cases- all) the weight they lost on the show.  That got me wondering and I had to go do some investigating. 
Here's what I came up with:
Biggest Loser Contestants: Where are they now?

It seems like many of them didn't do too bad maintaining their weight loss.  Most of them have gained back some weight, but I think that's totally normal.  You have to think many of them were severely restrictive leading up to their finales since money was on the line. I mean, who hasn't lost weight and gained some of it back?  I have!!

While I enjoy watching the show, I don't think it sets a realistic framework for people who are obese and trying to lose weight. Duh! People surely find it discouraging to try their best to find out they "only" lost 2 lbs a week (which is HUGE and probably more than is normal), but want to lose in the double digits like the contestants.  I think most of us realize that, but I'm certain there are those who don't. 

Many of the contestants suffer from slower metabolisms as a result of the rapid and massive weight loss and have to work extra hard to keep themselves in check.  I read one study that said that by the end of the season, many of their metabolisms have slowed down up to 500 calories a day.  I think that's to be expected.  It kinda comes with the territory of losing so much weight so quickly.  I feel bad for the contestants who have gained almost all the weight back. 
As someone who lost 35 lbs in 3 months, and then gained back 45 over the course of 2 years, I know the devastating effect it can have on your self-esteem.  You go from feeling so sexy and proud to feeling like a failure.  Sometimes I wish I hadn't lost the weight at all.  I'll never have that body back, and I'm beginning to be OK with that.  I'm learning to love my body at this weight.  I eat when I'm hungry.  I stop when I'm full.  I enjoy sweets occasionally.  I am physically active 6 days a week.  I eat clean most of the time.  If this is the body I am "stuck" with, then it's the body that I'm meant to have.  No more starving, no more deprivation, no more self-loathing (and NO more scales)!

Life has suddenly become too short for me to care about being skinny anymore.  My goal is to be fit and strong.  And happy in my own skin.  Kudos to you, BL contestants for continuing to fight the good fight.  It will be a life-long battle, but you just have to take it one day at a time.

Oh, and shameless plug- I did my Jelly Bean Virtual 10K race today.  I had a hard time moving.  Felt like I was slogging through mud carrying a 100 lb sack of potatoes on my ass.  Meh- they can't call be winners. I'm just glad I didn't stop and throw a temper tantrum on the side of the road.  My new road Hokas were WONDERFUL.  Gosh, I love those shoes.  They make me *want* to run roads (something I haven't wanted to do in a loooong time).


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Jelly Bean is here!!!

I recently discovered a new kind of race.  Something I'd never heard of until I signed up for the 13 in 2013 Challenge:  virtual races.  Who knew something so crazy even existed??  A virtual race is a race you can run anytime, anywhere you want and with whomever you choose.  You can do it outside or on the treadmill (and some people even do it on the elliptical if they're unable to run).  You can run, walk, or do both. You can do it solo or grab a group of friends and make it a social gathering.  Many charge a small fee for a medal and some swag, but there are some free ones out there, too.
I like that they give you an option for a race when there may not be any races close to you. I imagine virtual races would be fabulous if you lived in a small town or rural community where there isn't a lot of races put on locally. I belong to a few virtual run groups on FB.  I often see pictures of people who have chosen a virtual race for their first one because they're too intimidated to do an actual race with other people.  It's neat to see them gaining confidence and pushing themselves further than they ever thought possible.  To see a runner accomplish a huge goal like running a mile without stopping, or finishing their first 5K, 10K, or half marathon is so exciting!! It brightens my day to see people overcoming obstacles they never thought they could.

Enter the Jelly Bean Virtual Race.  I follow Run with Jess on FB and when I heard about this race series I had to join in the fun.  Anyone can sign up for free.  You heard me: FREE!  She sold medals for finishers until she ran out.  I didn't sign up for a medal; I just wanted in on the fun.  When the "race" is over, you submit your time results for each of the races you did (she offers a 5K, 10K, half marathon and 21K bike option), and you're entered into a drawing for some FAB prizes.  I'm going to run anyway, so I might as well join some fun and have a chance to win some neat swag.  Who doesn't love free stuff??

Today is the first day the race series is open (it's open from March 20-31st).  I ran my 5K today, and then hit the gym for some yoga.  It was the perfect start to the day, and I'm one jelly bean closer to completing all 4 events.  Woot!
Head on over to Run with Jess if you're interested in signing up and participating in the Jelly Bean Virtual Race series.


Monday, March 18, 2013

A little Irish in my half

Sunday I ran a road half here in town.  Roads aren't my favorite (have I mentioned that a million times before??).  I mean, sure, I like them because I can truly zone out and not think or pay attention and just go, but they are just not all that exciting.  Faster?  Certainly.  More challenging?  Definitely not.  I mean, sure, I get to see people racing and hear spectators cheering and although that's kinda fun, there just isn't the same camraderie as there is on the trails and not the same solitude.  But I digress...

My hubs and I arrived at the venue a little early and hung out in the car since it was really chilly out (low 40's with windchill in the 30's) and we are both cold weather wimps.  We sat in the car and decided that it would be OK if we just wanted to curl up and take a nap instead of go out and run.  No judgement, no teasing.  Just grab a blankie from the back and curl up for nap time.
To say we were a little apathetic about the race would be an understatement.  We love to run and race, but the gloomy weather just wasn't getting us all excited.  Eventually we got out of the car with 5 minutes to start time and got lined up in the crowd.

And BOOM! we were off.  I always, ALWAYS, get caught up in crowds and run too fast at the start of a race.  Usually I can get settled into a pace within the first couple miles, and today was no different.  My first mile was 10:20 and my second mile was 10:40.  That is MUCH too fast for me for a half.  I'm getting faster, but that's still out of my comfort zone for this distance.  A 5K, fine, but not a half.  Around mile 3 I finally started slowing to find my pace.  It turns out there were aid stations every mile (which was a nice surprise) so I would run to each station, then stop and walk through it and run to the next.  It worked out well that way for walking breaks.  I was just past the turaround when I saw this guy running:

I immediately was humbled.  He was running in full gear (150lbs worth), training for his first marathon in a couple months.  I complain about my feet hurting sometimes, but I can't imagine how much his hurt in those boots and with all that gear.  I hollered at him as I ran past.  Amazing!!  Truly inspiring!
My friend Christy was out there and so was her husband.  He was riding his bike and taking pictures one-handed.  All the pictures you see (with the exception of the two at the end) are his. 
The professional race pictures of me were horrible (terrible, awful, scary), but I loved his shots and was glad he was out there to capture some great pics.  At about mile 10 Christy came blazing past me on the dam in her Team Becky neon shirt.  Her pace was great and she was looking good.  I hung with her for a bit until I needed to hit the aid station.  She went on to have a PR by 15 minutes.

The last 3 miles were difficult.  More challenging than the last few miles of a race usually are.  I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other and maintain a decent pace.  My legs were heavy like iron stumps.  I guess I shouldn't have done yard work and built a patio the day before for 6 hours.  Probably *not* my best pre-race workout strategy.  I was feeling it in the hammys for sure.  I kept looking at my garmin and seeing 11:13 avg pace.  I knew if I could keep that up I would set a PR, so I put in my music and just put my head down and kept plugging away at the miles.  Again, this is what is nice about roads- you can put your head down, zone out, and get lost.
At the last aid station (a mile out), I passed a bunch of runners.  I don't know why, but that always makes me feel good.  Not that I'm competing against anyone but myself, but I feel like at least I'm making progress. This turtle gets passed PLENTY by others so I guess it feels nice to pass one or three people during a race.  Just before the finish there was a hill, and no matter how good Rihanna was singing "Umbrella" to keep me on pace, I just couldn't muster the strength to run up it.  I walked and then continued running to the finish once I got to the top.  It really wasn't a big hill, and if I took a picture of it, you would laugh at it's lack of hilliness, but it was a hill, dammit.  I know it was.
It felt like one anyway...
As I was approaching the finish line, I saw the clock and it said 2:29:15.  I was really wanting to break 2:30, so I put as much hustle into my legs as I could and crossed at 2:29:32.  I was pretty happy about that, and set a new PR. 
OK- truth be told, that is not my "true" PR.  My best half time was 8 years ago when I was 40 lbs lighter and it is a 2:12.  That was my old body that I starved myself to be in, and a body I will never reside in again.  And I'm OK with that, I truly am.  I don't count that because I will not be her again- I'm ME now.  This is the body I will live in.  That body was underfed and overtrained.
I was triumphantly tired
Found my hubby and we quickly got a picture together from my sweet friend Julie (who also set a PR) and then we jumped in the car and headed home to get in the hot tub.  
I had a great time at the race, and the hubs and I decided that maybe it was good that we didn't just fall asleep in the car after all. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

Well howdy ho- looks like I've been nominated for  Liebster Blog Award.  Don't know what that is?  Well, head on over here and check it out.  Basically it's a way of spotlighting small blogs to increase their readership and recognize the great writing going on out there on the interwebs. Thank goodness it's not the Lobster Blog Award, because I don't eat shellfish.
I'm honored that Becca of Diary of a Slow Runner nominated me.  Thanks, Becca!

Here are the questions that Diary of a Slow Runner wants me to answer, and here are my responses:

  1. Are you a morning person or a night person?  More of a mid-morning to mid-afternoon person.  Mornings aren't my cup of tea, but nights aren't either.  Life is best during the working hours of the day (which is why I'm hardly productive during the school year, but super productive in the summer).
  2. If you could make any type of burrito, what would you put on it?  rice, avocado, black beans, pico, tomatoes, refried beans, spinach, and vegan sour cream.  Mmmmm....burritos...
  3. If you could have any job what would it be? I already have an amazing job (I'm an elementary school librarian), but if I could choose another job I would open a children's yoga studio and teach yoga classes to only children.  I suppose their parents could come join them, but only if they promise to not have any inhibitions and have fun like the kids do.
  4. What is your dream vacation?   Backpacking on remote trails in the Grand Canyon.
  5. What is your biggest pet peeve? Texting while driving.  Put your damn phone away and pay attention so you don't run over me while I'm running or riding my bike!
  6. Dog person or cat person? Dogs for sure.  I'm deathly allergic to cats, but if I wasn't I might love them just as much.
  7. What is the one dessert that you will always indulge in if you have the opportunity to eat it?  Brownies!!
  8. What is your favorite book you've read recently?   The Summit Seeker by Vanessa Runs
  9. What was your favorite childhood toy? generic Barbie (I know, I know, she's so stereotypical and not a good role model- but she and I had so many fun adventures on my bike, climbing, playing outside, etc).
  10. Desktop computer or laptop?   desktop, but soon to be a tablet
  11. What is your favorite color? pink (even tho I'm not a girly-girl by any means)
11 Random facts about me:
  1. I became vegan 1.5 years ago and my running has never been better (not the actual running, but the recovery and the adaptations to distance).
  2. I started my blog because I could only find blogs about fast ultra and distance runners and knew there had to be more back-of-the-packers like me who could relate to "chasing cutoffs" at every race they go to.
  3. I love to run, but always have a VERY hard time getting dressed and out the door. 
  4. The worse the weather, the more I want to go run.  On a nice day I have a hard time finding motivation.
  5. I *LOVE* teaching children, but don't want any of my own.  I'd rather have dogs.
  6. I'm vegan, but don't love vegetables. I eat them. Lots of them.  But I don't love and crave them. I wish I did. 
  7. I'm a liberal Democrat, but live in one of the most conservative states in the Union.
  8. I didn't start running until I was 33 (7 years ago).  I'm not as fast now as I was when I first started, but have much more endurance than I did when I was faster and thinner. And I have MUCH more fun now than I did back then.
  9. Sometimes meat still smells REALLY good to me (but I will never eat it again). 
  10. I love turtles.  They are symbols of wisdom.  And they are slow.  I feel like I am (sometimes) wise and (most definitely) slow.  Hence: Run Turtle Run 
  11. I only buy clothes from the thrift store (except undies, bras, socks, and running bottoms).  Besides the things I listed, I haven't bought a "new" piece of clothing in years.
11 Questions for my nominees:
  1. Besides running, what is your favorite form of exercise?
  2. If you could visit any place in the world- where would you go?
  3. Why is your blog named what it is?
  4. What is your dream race? The race you would do in a heartbeat if given the chance?
  5. What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
  6. What is the coolest race you've ever done and why?
  7. What is your go-to meal (something you always seem to make)?
  8. Wine or beer?
  9. If you could tell your 14 year old self something, what would it be?
  10. What is your favorite thing about living where you do?
  11. What have you always wanted to try, but have been too afraid to?

Here are my nominees: I enjoy all these blogs.  Sometimes I comment, sometimes I just stalk them.  No matter, I really enjoy them all.  I think I'm supposed to nominate 11, but these are the only ones I follow regularly.

Nikki at Slow is the New Fast
Julie at Trailing Along
Jade at Clean Running Yogi
Eat Drink Run Woman at Eat Drink Run Woman
Angela at Run Nature
Jennifer at Music and Medicine
Angela at Run Angie Run
Stacey at Stacey Runs and Eats
Jenn at Jenniferuns is 51!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Post Oak Challenge Weekend 2013

This weekend I traveled to Tulsa to do the Post Oak Challenge.  It's a two day trail running extravaganza in the hills just northwest of Tulsa on the property of the Post Oak Lodge.  We went ahead and rented a room there and spent the weekend lounging and hanging out with trail runners from around the tri state area.  Staying on-site was also nice, because the start line was a 30 second walk from my room (which is always a nice thing come race morning).  Another bonus for staying at the lodge was dinner and breakfast was included for both days with our room, and if you count the free big post-race lunch, we didn't have to pay for any meals the whole weekend.  Not a bad deal for $300. 
Post Oak Lodge main building
The Lodge itself was very nice.  There was a main building that housed the dining hall and the check-in services and a bar.  Then there were many rooming lodges around the property.  The first lodge they put us in was odd.  It was a little house with 4 locking "bedrooms" with private baths and a central living area.  We went in and unpacked our things.  Then a little yip dog in another room started barking and wouldn't shut the hell up.  It just went on and on and on.  I went straight to the front desk and requested another room.  I love dogs.  I have two.  I do not appreciate having a tiny yip dog barking non-stop on what is supposed to be a relaxing weekend of racing.  Grrr...
Luckily they put us up in another (much bigger lodge) in a room that was much quieter (and it was a little cheaper, too).
our lodge building for the weekend
The pre-race pasta dinner was very elegant.  Not your typical cheap spaghetti dinner.  It was set up as a buffet, but there were waiters constantly walking around and taking plates or filling drinks.  The food was super delicious and there was plenty to eat.  They even had a vegetarian option, which I very much appreciated!!

Race Day #1:  25K
I had originally signed up for the 50K/marathon option back in November.  In early February I came to my senses and realized that was a bit ambitious for the training I had put in, so I dropped down to the 25K/half option. 
The morning air was pretty cool.  Temps were in the 30's and the wind was still.  It was a beautiful morning.  Sun shining, cloudless sky- the whole deal.  The 25K started at 8:30, so we gathered quickly and then took off. 
I somehow got put near the front of the group, which panicked me a little.  I knew we had some pavement and then some gravel road to run on before we got onto the singletrack, so I hoped it would thin out enough that I wouldn't still be near the front.
I was wrong.
My first half mile was sub 10 min/miles.  Yeah, I'm NOT that fast.  Not even on pavement.  Not even when I'm only running 1 mile, let alone 16.  I knew I had to slow it down significantly.  I let some people pass (OK, a LOT of people), but I was still caught up in too fast a group.  My first couple miles were in the 11's.  That's still too fast for me on trails for this distance.  I was running so fast I'm sure I looked like I was about to stroke out.
me looking like I'm about to stroke out from running too fast

About mile 3 it finally opened up a bit and I was able to settle into a more comfortable pace (13's).  The first 7 miles was fairly flat.  I mean, it was a lot of ups and downs, but nothing too big.  The second half of the race was when the hills really became an issue and I was struggling.  I'm sure a lot of it was going out WAY too fast those first 3 miles, but part of it was also that I haven't been running trails as much, and most definitely NOT hills.  Sigh... I'm never prepared enough it seems.
heading up Holmes Peak (the tallest point).  It's much steeper than it looks.  (photo courtesy of Julie)
view of downtown Tulsa from the top of the tallest hill on the course
my friend Julie who I got to run a few miles with- and then who I chased the rest of the race
About mile 9 my groin started cramping up.  I stopped and stretched it, but it was so cramped I couldn't stand up straight and had a hard time getting it to loosen up.  I would wind up stopping 2 more times, crying in pain at that doggone cramping groin.  It only seized up on the steep uphills, so whenever I had to walk uphill, I tried my best to keep my strides short and quick.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  I've never had my groin cramp before, and have no idea what caused it.  Odd. 
halfway through

The last half of the race was tough.  I just put the headphones in, put my head down and kept going.  Up a steep incline, down a steep incline, through the muddy fields, slipping in the muddy grass, dodging face-planting rocks, etc.  It was just a matter of slogging through.  I know I'm having a tough day when I contemplate cheating on a course.  I've only ever considered doing it 3 times in all of my past 8 years of racing.  This day was the 3rd time I considered it.  I would dream about how I could cut the course short and get it over with.  In all honesty, I would NEVER do it, and wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I did, but when I start thinking about it and playing it out mentally, I know I'm in a bad spot.  I would DNF before I cheated a course, but at the time it was just another mental game to get me through the miles. 
I didn't know the Flintstones lived out here
I finally got to the last 2K of the race:  The Hill from Hell.  And that, it was!  My groin seized up at the bottom and it took a good 5 min. before I could stand upright and keep moving.  At least a dozen people passed me here.  I just let them all go on, hoping I could continue.  With 2K left, there was no way in Hell (on the Hill from Hell) that I was going to give up now.  1K up the hill was the beer tent, and I happily sucked down 2 cups of brew in hopes it would help dull the pain a little (mentally and physically).  I finally reached the finish line in 4:20.  I was on pace to do about 20 minutes faster, but I kept having that crazy groin issue.  It really doesn't matter, tho.  I finished and for that I'm grateful.
I immediately got my medal and headed to the outdoor pool to get in and cool off my legs. I swear by ice baths, and that water was icy cold.  I know it saved my legs.

Race Day #2: Quarter Marathon
Sunday was supposed to be the half marathon.  After my ass-kicking on Saturday, I went to the registration table and dropped down to the quarter marathon instead.  I knew I didn't have it in me to do 13 miles on those same trails, yet I still wanted the doubler trophy and a finish.  I'm glad I did because I woke up on Sunday with a terribly sore back.  My legs felt great, but my back was in knots.  It made running a struggle, but it was doable for 6.6 miles. 
The course was different, which was a nice change.  A lot of it was run in reverse of what we did on Saturday. The 6.6 miles flew by pretty quickly and I didn't even have to play any mental games. I didn't bring my music on purpose, so I could focus on the beauty around me. There were still some KILLER hills, but since I knew it was such a short race, they didn't bother me as much.  The course on Sunday was a loop with about 3.5 miles of trails and 3 miles of road. It was a nice mix of surfaces (trails first, then road at the end when you're tired).  At the bottom of the final climb (the Hill from Hell- road version) there was an aid station.  They had a Mexican theme, and I noticed some cups of salsa sitting on the rock wall.  Truthfully I just wanted some chips and salsa so I asked them about it.  They started hollering about the "Salsa Challenge."  If I downed a cup of salsa, I would get a really awesome teeny sombrero and of course, some bragging rights.  How could I refuse THAT?  I downed the salsa to great cheers from the aid station volunteers, got my hat, and then promptly screamed and threw three cups of gatorade and 2 potatoes down my throat (that salsa was HOT). 
the last couple miles
finishing up the quarter marathon

About .2/mile up the final hill, there was the beer tent.  Again, I downed 2 cups of beer and proceeded to the finish line.  Race day #2 was much easier, and my pace was much better.   This was also the first time I've ever had beer during a run.  I kinda liked it. As long as it's near the end, I will most definitely do it again!!
at the finish line with my doubler trophy.  What a fun weekend!

Overall, this was a FANTASTIC race.  I would highly recommend it if you're in the Tulsa area.  The race was VERY well organized, INCREDIBLY well-marked, and a great variety of terrain that never bored you.  I will do it again next year.
And I'm damn sure going to train better.