Running Through Winter

So it’s been a while… Two months to be exact, and I’m not quite sure where to start, so I will start back where we left off with December 2013 and do a little catching up on how I have been running through winter (often times feeling my head has been chopped off).

December 2013

December was on of the craziest and busiest months of my life. It was three weeks of finals for my first semester of law school. It was also the month where my co authors and I presented a white paper at a round table in the middle of finals (that I finished my portion of at 2am the morning of a final – that one hurt). It was also winter vacation back I the frozen tundra and the time I PRed without really being prepared in the half marathon.

So law school exams. They were intense, stressful, and three weeks long. Yes I had about five to seven days between my exams, but when they are law school exams, you need like two weeks between each exam and even that may not be enough. I was mostly happy with my performances on my exams and grades but know there is room for improvement this semester so I am definitely putting the plow in the ground and hitting the books hard.

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Then there was that paper we presented. I had given presentations on research proposals before but had never had a written paper, that professors, scholars and experts in the field had read, thought was interesting and gave feedback on. It was intense but so exciting! And although my co authors and I have a lot of work ahead of us, I know we will have a great paper when we are finished.

I was lucky enough to go home for about ten days after finals. I hadn’t really been in the frozen tundra (MN) since last Xmas, and it was great to have the whole family together. I got to spend time with my parents, siblings and niece all while freezing my buns off. What more could I have asked for?! Oh right, to have had Xmas at my sister’s in Florida where it was 70 not -10. But all in all we had a great time… In our #xmasjammies (oh yes that happened).

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Then there was the winter running. Lots of it happened. And while most of it (admittedly) happened on a TM I did manage a few good runs outside.

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First I ran Run With Santa 5k, and while there were no PRs (it was cold, snowy and slippery) I had a ton of fun with a bunch of my coworkers at the running store. And then I ran a half marathon very last minute. So last minute the name is escaping me, but it was an out and back on a muddy and icy trail…but I still got a PR! 1:44:06! It was by no means my best race (I fell completely apart in the last two miles, but I know that my goals for 2014 are in reach!

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So lots of running happened and life was looking pretty good. And then came January 2014…

January 2014

And life got even better. Didn’t think it was possible, but it did.

I gained a super cute study buddy (no, he is not mine, but sometimes I pretend) and my grades came back mostly positive. So here’s to a good outlooks for semester 2!

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And while I have had a minor foot injury that has set me back in terms of marathoning this spring, I am taking it in stride, and instead focusing on Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and hopefully a spring half marathon back in sunny Santa Cruz after finals are over in May! You know what I’m talking about… The fabulous Capitola Half Marathon!

Also, today I discovered I was one of four featured bloggers on Active Life DC for a panel on how to get out of a fitness rut. Check it out for some great Dc blogs and tips on how myself and the other bloggers keep exercising interesting and fun…and how awkward I can be. It’s so incredibly awkward it’s awesome.

So that’s a little update on my life. I have been very busy but am planning a few posts to come in the next few weeks, and I promise it won’t be another two months.

How has 2014 been treating you so far? Set any fitness or running goals?
Mine is to be as uninsured as possible, hopefully be healthy enough to complete a marathon and to get back into triathlons! Already looking at a few in late August/early September!

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Fueling with Island Boost

Its not secret on the blog — or to anyone in my life really — that I have had an insane amount of stomach issues while running.  Back in July it killed my dreams of a 42-43 minute race at Wharf to Wharf (which I just realized I never recapped…), and in February it dashed by dreams of a close-to or attempt at a sub 1:40 half marathon at the San Diego Women’s Half Marathon.  And those are just two of the most recent downfalls of my stomach woes.

Since then, and I’ve made it my mission to discover different fuel options that will work for me in my long distance PR quests in 2014.  As I’ve embarked on this mission, there has been one name recommended to me over and over as I’ve explained to runners from all walks of life the massive amounts of stomach unhappiness that I get on raceday — and during long, hard runs in general: Island Boost.  So, for a while, I’ve been dying to try out Island Boost but just because everything has caused me problems, I’ve been hesitant to try out something new.

IMG_1495After receiving an email about Island Boost attempting to get a new flavor (Chocolate!) FDA approved, I knew I needed to try it, especially with the hopes of chocolate coming out in the future, so I reached out to them to see about getting a sample of the chocolate. Unfortunately, the chocolate samples were all out, but they did graciously give me a few samples to try out.

It’s different from your average gu or gel because it’s not a gu or gel.  Its more the consistency of Gatorade, but its got more calories than Gatorade in a small little thick liquid.

I was pretty excited to try it, and I’m not going to lie — my first taste was a shocker.  I mean, its like really, really over powered Kool-Aid on the first sip (note: this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink sugary drinks or juice because I don’t like them, and who thinks the Gatorade generally made at water stations is faaaaaaar too potent).  However, by the end of the first pouch, I got over the intensity and the flavor was actually pretty darn good (Passion Fruit Flavor).

IMG_1496I was given three flavors to try, and of the three, Passion Fruit was by far my favorite, but the Orange wasn’t far behind.  I just couldn’t get behind Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor, but then again I’m a fresh wild blueberry girl from Minnesota, and anything made with blueberry flavoring, just doesn’t cut it for me.

The real test, though, was how the Island Boost functioned for me on my runs.  Although I was only able to take them on one run (I’ve only run one run long enough to require fueling in the past few months), I was stomach problem free.  I can’t say it was my hardest run or my longest or that I had anxiety associated with race day, but it settled nicely in my stomach.  Maybe its because I can read and pronounce pretty much everything on the back of the nutrition label?  Or because it has coconut water in it (cue automatic swoon)?! Those both definitely made me happy — oh and its gluten free and dairy free!

IMG_1501So would I buy them for training?  Definitely — I’m actually putting in an order this weekend.  I’m still playing with a few other options for long runs and hard runs, but I am definitely keeping Island Boost in the mix — and if they can come up with the funds to get the chocolate through FDA testing and production, you bet your buns I will be all over that like a runner in a self serve fro-yo joint.

If you’d like to try out Island Boost, or just help them get chocolate into production, there are 10 days left in their fundraiser — if you give money, you get fun things back – for example $25 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost to try; $40 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost + a runner’s hat/visor.  When I get paid on Friday I am definitely jumping on that — every little bit helps, and it gives a great company run by wonderful people with a good product the chance to make it against the big guns.  Check it out here.

IMG_1502(I’m excited for all the temporary tats they sent me! — the inner child in me rejoiced!!)

Have you tried Island Boost?  What’s your fuel of choice?

***While Island Boost gave me the samples to try, they did not compensate me in any way or ask me to write a review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

MCM 10K [Review & Recap]

Its no secret that this past weekend I participated in the Marine Corps Marathon 10k (I was supposed to run the marathon, but…I covered that here).

I wasn’t necessarily set to break world records (let’s be honest, I never will be), but I was ready to chase down my PR — and get under 45:00.  That was the baseline goal, the one that was definitely achievable but that apparently wasn’t in the cards on October 27, 2013 — but it wasn’t because of what I did, that’s for sure.  So, where do you start when reviewing and recapping?  Well, first I want to say that the MCM10k, was overall, a fantastic race and I am definitely considering signing up for it again next year.  The course and support were great and straightforward, and I really enjoyed the run.

And now onto the recap: let’s start with the Saturday night pre-race fuel.

Saturday Night.

I met Brennan and Megan at Fireworks for some pre-race carbo-loading since Brennan was running the full marathon, Megan was working an aid station all freaking day (props girl!) and I was pretending I needed to eat the world for the 10k.  As such, enter 3 girls, 3 pizzas, and it was all but gone at the end of the night.

Megan, Brennan and I each with our respective pizzas.

Sunday Morning.

6:00am wakeup — eat breakfast (banana + almond butter), drink water, bathroom business, get dressed (in far too many layers to race) and get out the door by 6:30 to take the metro to the 10k start near the Smithsonian (about a 20 minute metro ride).

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Brrrrrrr.

[All is still going well.]

7:00am Arrive at the Smithsonian Metro stop and exit the metro and get ready to go drop my bag check (I was cheering marathoners after and knew I would need a ton of clothes) and then see the lines for the porta potties, realize that I need to get in line now to ensure I could use it before the race.

7:30am Still in line for the porta potty.  Have barely moved in half an hour.

7:40am parachuters with American flags drop from the sky and they sing the national anthem.

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Parachuters in the sunrise with American flag.

7:45am Get anxious and beg the people behind me to save my spot while I drop my bag at bag drop because I now desperately need to use the bathroom.

7:50am Back in line, they call people over the startline to start the race in 5 minutes. [still in porta potty line but half the people leave to head over to the start line — thank goodness!]

7:55am They announce a 5 minute delay [still in porta potty line].

8:00am The race actually starts and some 7300 people start the race [still in porta potty line].

8:12am Finally get to go go to the bathroom [Yes, 12 minutes after the race started.]

8:14am Start the race 14+ minutes after the race officially started, behind some 7500 people and realize there is no way I can get a PR with all the weaving and pace changing I’m going to have to do and resign myself to the fact that I will just run a strong race

–But before we go on, let me just let you know how bad the situation really was, so you get an idea of what I went through race morning.

(1) 50 porta potties for 7500+ runners = porta potty fail.
(2) I showed up 55 minutes before the official start of the race and didn’t use the bathroom until 17 minutes AFTER it was supposed to start — that means I was in line for 72 minutes — more than 1 1/2 times longer than it takes me to run a 10k (so it wasn’t like I was showing up 20 minutes before and had a problem)

And this is what it looked like in front of all of the porta-potties.

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Yes, those are the porta-poties, very small and very far away…and I am in a “line” [This was at 7:25am], 25 minutes after standing in line…

It’s really my only complaint about MCM 10k.  This was not okay.  It would have been one thing if I had shown up 10 minutes before the race started and started late, but I was there with plenty of time.  Runners use bathrooms far more frequently than the average person — especially before a race or run.  And this is MCM’s 38th year, they should know this.  Just sayin’.  So one last call out to MCM10k:

Add more porta-potties next year and you won’t have this problem. 

Moving on…

So the rest of the race went as follows: run fast and weave in and out and then suddenly have to slow down to weave around people who decide to walk at the moment I try to weave around them.  Repeat for the rest of race.  Or, in other words, you end up with paces that look like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 1.33.57 PMThere is basically no consistency and I was constantly pulling up and surging and it ended up destroying my legs by the time I got to the final .2 hill, but that’s okay.

9:01 cross the finishline an hour and 1 minutes-ish after the race started with a time of 47:45 (after running 6.3-6.4 with all the weaving).  Nothing to call home and complain about, but definitely not the race I had planned.

I am a little bitter about the porta-potty situation (if you couldn’t tell) in large part because this was the first race in a long time where I didn’t have stomach issues on the course, and believe I could’ve done much better in terms of time if I hadn’t started behind the entire field.  That being said, the rest of the race was great.  The crowd support was awesome, the marines on the course were fantastic, the aid stations were well manned and well executed even for the 10k, and the finishline area was great (albeit a little long to get out of) full of lots of tents, food options, marines saluting you when they gave you your medal, and so on.  Great overall execution of the race with the exception of the 10k bathroom issue.

But, regardless, I’m keeping a positive attitude, and know that there’s another 10k I’m signed up for next weekend, Run for the Parks 10k, and I’m looking to that as my redemption race — should be a much smaller field, and am hoping we don’t have the same crappy issues.

After the 10k, I went out and cheered on marathoners and new friends and had a great time, before retiring back home to reenter the only world I currently know — that of law school.

Have you ever had a race with a porta-potty issue?  How did you deal with it and/or rectify the need to go to bathroom situation?  I honestly wanted to go to the bathroom in the wilderness and would’ve if the situation allowed for, however we were on the Mall, there was no wilderness, the closest open Starbucks was 1+ miles away, and frankly I needed toilet paper.

I heard there were people peeing against the monuments, and while I understand that people needed to go to the bathroom, it saddens me that that is what it came too — and couldn’t people have at least found a bush instead of a monument?  I’m hoping that next year MCM10k learns from this year and fixes the situation.