December 1, 2014

rest, recovery and recoverybits

Disclaimer: I received a sample of RECOVERYbits for the purpose of this review. Opinions are all my own.

I train a lot. There isn’t really an off season … maybe just a little downtime before the next challenge begins. I have to be careful I don’t push myself too hard.

You’ve all heard the saying, “you never regret a workout.” Sometimes it might be appended with, “only the workouts you don’t do.”

That isn’t true for me, though. I don’t regret skipping workouts. I can’t even count how many times I went back to sleep after my 5 a.m. alarm went off. As much as I enjoy my 6 a.m Bikram yoga classes, and as much as they help me stretch and stay loose, sometimes I just need more sleep. I can get an extra two hours if I skip the class. I feel like I’ve become a pretty good judge of when I need a little more rest, and when I should push through the desire to stay in my nice warm bed. I make sure to take at least one or two rest days per week, and I’ll often skip boot camp classes when my body is feeling a little beat up.

When I was contacted by a representative at ENERGYbits to see if I wanted to try RECOVERYbits, it was good timing. Allergies were making my throat itchy, people are starting to get winter illnesses, and my training was at its peak. RECOVERYbits are 100% non GMO, organically grown chlorella and a natural way to boost your immunity. 

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Now, I only got a couple days worth to test with, not long enough to see any immune-boosting powers. But I’m a health-food person. I like consuming products that are good for me, and I definitely believe the claims. It will take a little getting used to, swallowing so many tablets (they’re food, not pills!). Chewing them is OK too, but it’s a strong taste that might take some time to get used to.

One serving.

One serving.

I sampled ENERGYbits a year or so ago. I like both of these products — they are natural ways to get really good nutrients. It’s pricey, and I haven’t taken the leap yet to make them a part of my everyday routine. But definitely something I’m considering as I continue to push my body and improve my health.

Want to try RECOVERYbits? Enter below to win a sample! (U.S. only, sorry!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And today only … shop ENERGYbits’ “Cyber Monday” promotion. For the next 24 hours you can order as many bags from www.energybits.com as you like and you will be charged just $5.00 shipping. So, stock up on your Christmas gifts now because it doesn’t matter if you order 1 bag or 100 bags, you will only be charged a flat rate of $5.00 for shipping! (USA orders only)

October 31, 2014

running in costume

I LOVE to dress up for Halloween. These days, it’s usually for a fun run rather than a party or event. But I like to be creative … often times that hinders the actual ability to run.

I’ve written about my love of costumes before, but it’s been awhile. I’ve missed sharing quite a few here, so let me go back a few years:

2011 -- this was intended to be a potted plant, but everyone called me a Christmas tree. This may come back in the future, fully decorated ...

2011 — this was intended to be a potted plant, but everyone called me a Christmas tree. This may come back in the future, fully decorated …

2012 -- I re-purposed Mr. Potato Head into a baked potato. I thought it was brilliant, but not everybody figured it out!

2012 — I re-purposed my previous Mr. Potato Head costume into a baked potato. I thought it was brilliant, but not everybody figured it out!

2013 - XRay, complete with glow-in-the-dark skeleton. Um, that didn't glow all that well. But good enough to place in a costume contest!

2013 – XRay, complete with glow-in-the-dark skeleton. Um, that didn’t glow all that well. But good enough to place in a costume contest!

The tree was worst for mobility, but I tried to top it this year:

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Though, I actually made it farther in the fun run this year than I did the tree year … if you call a 50+-minute 5K (that I cut short) “running,” LOL!

This year’s costume cost $2  — for blue paint from the “oops” shelf at Home Depot. Everything else was created out of things I already had at home. Just a little time, but I obviously have a lot of fun with this.

Do you love dressing up as much as I do? What’s your favorite costume?

July 30, 2014

app review: everymove

For the past month or so, I’ve been using the EveryMove app to track my workouts. I  heard about the program through SweatPink, and was excited to test it out.

EveryMove gives you points for your workouts, which you apply towards rewards. There’s a huge database of activities to choose from. Everything I do I’ve found easily (running, biking, swimming, yoga, boot camp classes), but you can find just about anything in there. Roller Derby?  Shuffleboard? Mopping? They’ve got you covered!

Most of the rewards are discounts, but you can also earn donations for a charity. It seems the choices rotate — the first three rewards I worked for were $1 donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Lately I’ve been working towards donations to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I’ve earned $4 for them so far, and I’m getting close to another dollar!

You can manually enter workouts, but EveryMove can also link it to dozens of apps/sites. Running, of course, is my favorite way to #sweatpink … and I import all my runs into Strava, I was able to link Strava to EveryMove and it’s fantastic — all my workouts are automatically imported!

I still have to manually add other workouts, but it’s quick and easy to do from my phone. Earning points gives me incentive to keep my EveryMove account up-to-date. In addition to the rewards, there are badges. I’m not sure what they all mean, but so far I’ve earned Bodhisattva for logging 10 yoga activities within 30 days, Road Warrior for running 26.2 miles in a week, and Orange Crush for earning seven orange hearts in a row. (You get an orange heart every day you log an activity. This means I did not take any rest days in seven days … but don’t worry, I”m not overtraining. My ‘rest’ days often still include yoga!)

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It looks like I’ve been extra lazy this week … but I ran a marathon on Sunday! One of the extra rest days before was for travel … and after I was just tired :)

 

The orange heart can also be flaming of you unlock a very active bonus. With many long workouts and/or multiple workouts a day, I earn these quite frequently! Consistently working out also increases your Level. You ‘Level Up’ by earning a certain number of points in a timeframe. I seem to be quickly climbing!

There is a social aspect to the app, too. You can add your friends — Facebook, Contacts, RunKeeper or Fitbit. I haven’t worked with this feature at all yet. I’m still pretty happy using it solo for now.

EveryMove is available for iPhone and Android, or you can use the website at http://everymove.org. The iPhone app was recently updated, but I’m still waiting for the new Android version. It’s still fully functional, but I think there are some design changes coming.

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A website screenshot from today. (Already out-of-date as I just added a boot camp class!)

 

Disclaimer: I reviewed this app as part of a SweatPink campaign … but EveryMove is a free app. I was not compensated in any way. Opinions are my own.

July 1, 2014

race report: raleigh 70.3

My first 70.3 triathlon!

I did my first sprint triathlon in 2008, and continued with a once-a-year shorter distance until jumping to the Olympic distance in 2012. I’d been thinking about moving up again, but needed a little push to pull the trigger.

That’s where the Annapolis Triathlon Club comes in. I had joined the club and made some friends, and when a few of them decided to race Raleigh, it didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to sign up. I was ready for it, I just needed to know I wouldn’t be racing alone!

We ended up with a large group down in Raleigh, with 17 of us participating in the June 1, 2014 race.  I drove down the Friday before the race with two friends who would be my roommates for the weekend. We stayed just outside of town at the Residence Inn, which was more like a townhouse than a hotel room, complete with a loft, murphy bed and two bathrooms. And plenty of room for three bikes and all our gear.

We watched the Iron Kids race on Saturday morning before hitting the expo. Not too big, but I got some excellent souvenirs — a bike jersey, a visor and a T-shirt with all the racers’ names on the back.

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After the expo, we headed over to the lake for a quick swim. There wasn’t access at the race site, but there were public areas open so we could get a feel for the water. It was nice! Next we went over to the transition area where we’d rack our bikes, but went out for a short ride first. I was a little nervous about riding before race day, but took it super easy. One of our tri club members wasn’t so lucky — his chain broke during his shakeout ride, and he crashed. Probably a bit bumped, bruised and sore from that anyway, but a gash on his leg was too deep to risk lake swimming. He was unable to race, but was a trooper and provided excellent support, cheering and taking photos of us on the course.

We didn’t have time to head back to our hotel to shower before dinner (oops!), so we had to settle for a quick change in the car. Good thing it was a casual place. We were able to get two huge tables at an Italian restaurant in a back room … that we were sharing with two birthday parties! I got pasta primavera with grilled salmon — a perfect pre-race meal. Salmon has been kinda lucky for me, resulting in lots of good races and PRs!

When we got back to the hotel, we had a bit of packing to do — T1 and T2 were in different places (we biked from Jordan Lake back to downtown Raleigh). We would set up our run gear before boarding buses in the morning, plus had a bag we could gear check pre-race in the morning, and another to pack up our swim stuff before hitting the bike. We’d claim all our bags when we picked up our bikes post-race.

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It took a bit more thinking to make sure everything was in the right place than when you just have one transition area! We were all a bit nervous and got to bed later than we should have, but who sleeps well the night before a big race, anyway?

I got a little sleep, at least, but it was a very early morning. We prepared our breakfast (peanut butter sandwich, which I would eat on the bus ride), grabbed our gear, and headed downtown in the dark. Parking was easy and close by, and we quickly got our run gear set up and hopped on a bus.

It wasn’t until the bus ride to the start that we learned the race would be wetsuit legal — just barely at 75.4. That was definitely the news I wanted to hear!

I had a lot of time to kill before my swim wave would start (women 35-39 went off at 8:10, wave 19 out of 21), but it want quickly. I got my tires pumped, waited in a ridiculously long porta-potty line, and then hung out with my fellow tri-club members until one by one they started their races.

And then we were off. The lake is beautiful, and I was calm right from the start. I remember thinking how this would be the most relaxing part of my day, and tried to really enjoy it. It got a little crowded at times, but nothing too crazy. I’m a non-aggressive swimmer and I’d rather just move out of the way. I finally found some open space after the final turn … when I realized I drifted a bit far from the buoys. Oops! I pulled myself back on course and swam to shore.

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Swim time: 45:11

I had my first experience with wetsuit strippers once out of the water. I had unzipped myself on the way there. Two people would pull the suit down, sit you on the ground, pull it off, and help you back up. Awesome!

The transition lot was pretty big, but my bike was in an outside row so it was easy to find. I packed up my swim gear, and quickly got ready to ride.  I stopped briefly for some volunteers to spray my shoulders and arms with sunscreen — another new amenity!

And then I was on the road. I started slow, well, because I’m a slow cyclist! I’m also pretty conservative on the bike. I was especially cautious around other cyclists because I don’t want to end up accidentally drafting! It would be really silly to get a drafting penalty when only riding 14mph …

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The ride was great, though, and I was well prepared. I had simulated the course on a CompuTrainer, and done some hilly outdoor rides. I was ready for the elevation.

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It was still pretty exhausting, and I found myself itching to be finished around mile 43 … only to get a second wind around mile 50. I actually passed a lot of people going uphill!

It felt great to return to downtown Raleigh and get off the bike!

raleighbike

Bike time: 3:57:51. I thought it was going to take four hours, so this was a win!

I racked my bike, got my run gear on, and hit the porta-potty before hitting the road. I knew I’d finish at this point … I felt pretty good!

Not as good as a guy who flew past me in the first quarter mile, shouting, “I finally got to my sport!” I yelled back, “Me too, but I’m not going any faster than this!”

I didn’t know how fast “this” was … so I glanced down at my watch, only to see it in mph. Oops, forgot to change sports! I changed it then, which restarted my run.  I’d be a little bit behind every mile marker, and I had no idea how much time had passed already. My run finish time would be a surprise!

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The course was a double out-and-back. The ‘out’ portion was mostly uphill and in the sun, while the ‘back’ portion had a little shade and some downhill. My first ‘out’ went pretty well, I had a decent pace. I slowed a little on the way back, starting to feel the hills, and by the time I got to the second ‘out,’ the heat and the hills had taken a toll. I was walking through every water stop, taking sports drinks and dumping water over my head.

Around mile eight I started losing speed. And so did that excited runner, I recognized him walking up a hill. I asked, “are you the runner that was so excited to run?,” and he sighed, “yeah.”

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I fought to keep shuffling up that hill. Even though miles 10-12 were in the easier part of the course, I slowed quite a bit, probably extending my walk breaks. But after mile 12, I picked it up a bit. Rally to the finish!

I ended up with a 2:12:49 half marathon time — and I was thrilled! While I can run faster in a standalone race, 2:13 is kind of a benchmark for me. From my second half marathon in 2005 until the summer of 2009, my PR was stuck at 2:13:11 … and I’m still happy enough finishing races in that timeframe.

Going into the race, I had given myself a 7:30 goal. A bit conservative, but realistic. That’s a long time to race, and I didn’t know how my body was going to react. I thought that 7:30 could possibly be a best-case scenario …

RaleighFinish

It was a good day!

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May 22, 2014

#fuelyourbetter with Vega Sport

I try to be a healthy eater most of the time. Lots of fruit, and veggies. More homemade meals and snacks. Less sugar and processed food. I’m not super hard on myself, especially as triathlon training is in full swing. I’ve got my first half Ironman coming up in a couple weeks — I’ve earned a few treats along the way!

But I’m still failing with clean eating when fueling during workouts. I’m still a Gu eater! When I’m doing two, three and even four-hour workouts, I’ve got to make sure I’m fueling properly!

I’ve been planning on finishing up my Gu stash and focusing my efforts on finding something healthier. It’s taking awhile … I buy in bulk! But I’ll be there soon. When I heard about Vega Sport‘s #fuelyourbetter campaign, I jumped at the chance to try Vega Sport Gel. It seems like the perfect Gu replacement.

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I broke all racing rules and tried my first Vega Sport Gel during a race — a sprint triathlon. I wasn’t too worried about having any problems. It was a short, flat course, and I was treating it as training rather than a race. I ate my gel as I headed out on the bike course.

First impression — the texture is a little gritty when compared to traditional Gu, but the taste is pretty OK. It doesn’t particularly taste like raspberry like it’s supposed to, but it’s fine. I happened to have a very good race, too!

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I’ve also started eating Vega Sport Gel as “breakfast” before pre-work bike trainer workouts. I don’t always eat before these shorter rides, but some days I wake up hungry. It’s just enough to cut the edge.

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The more Vega Sport Gels I eat, the less I notice the texture difference that surprised me the first time. I’m glad I could get used to it, the ingredients are a lot more in line with what I want to be eating:

#VegaSportGel

Overall, I liked the product. It might be on my shopping list once the Gu runs out!

Disclaimer: I received  Vega Sport Gel for free through my involvement with the Sweat Pink Ambassador Program.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.

April 12, 2014

unlike cats, runners don’t always land on their feet

It was a gorgeous morning today. Sunny and warm, and I was on a nice easy run. But then, at around the 2.9-mile mark of a 3.1 mile run, splat! I was on the ground.

Much of downtown Annapolis has charming brick sidewalks … that over time have warped due to tree roots and wear. I assumed I just tripped over an uneven spot, but people behind me saw I actually stepped into a hole where a brick was missing. Whoops! Didn’t even see it.

I took a few stumbling steps trying to catch myself, but it didn’t work. Fortunately, it was clean fall — I landed on my forearms pretty evenly. Knees didn’t hit, hands were fine … just a little road rash.

Ouch!

Ouch!

In my 10+ years of running, I’m actually surprised I’ve only hit the ground a handful of times. (Knock on wood!). Once I fell on my butt when I made a poor turnaround-point  decision and changed directions on a metal plate, on a misty day. Only a bruised ego that day.

Another time, the sidewalk tripped me towards the end of an otherwise glorious 10-mile run. It was the last long run before a marathon, and we were heading out of town for a cousin’s wedding the next day.  I cut up my knee pretty badly — it left a scar. Those oversized bandaids go well with cocktail dresses :)

The worst, of course, was when I fell on my face in the middle of a trail half marathon. I ended up needing six stitches in my chin. But I finished the race!

At least there’s no shame in running clumsiness. Just about every runner I know has met the ground a time or 10 :)

March 27, 2014

review: redstar

I’ve received Redstar coupons in race goodie bags before — $500 gift certificates to their site, which sells sunglasses and watches. There has to be a catch, right?

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Well, of course there is. You are responsible for shipping and handling, so it’s not actually free. I was tempted to try it out in the past — I figured they were at least worth the shipping cost, which seems to be $14.95 per item.

Since I had heard of the brand and considered purchasing, I was excited to be contacted by the Media Talent Agency for a review. I was able to select a pair of sunglasses to test out, and I chose a pair I could use running, model RS93. The website listed limited information, but showed the glasses with orange lenses, with a gray circle that said “included polarized gray lens.” I took that to mean they came with extra lenses … and I was right. I love that. It was a little disappointing that only the gray lenses are polarized … but I’m still glad I have the two sets.

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Glasses with polarized gray lenses

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Out for a run with the red/orange lenses on an overcast day

The frames are a little big on me, but that’s to be expected. I’m pretty small, and the sunglasses are unisex. But they are lightweight and comfortable, and they sat nicely on top of my head when I started running before the sun came up.

The quality is good. I can’t say if they’re worth the full $150 since I’m far to cheap to pay that much for something I’m likely to lose, break or drop during a run … but they’re nicer than my $20-30 pairs. I may pick up another!

Want to try them out for yourself? You can get a $500 gift card with code MTA14.

Shop now!

 

Disclaimer: I received a pair of sunglasses for free in exchange for my review. If you make a purchase using my link, I will receive a commission. Opinions are my own.

 

March 20, 2014

mostly i … yoga?

I was first introduced to yoga in 2007, when my office started bringing in an instructor twice a week. Free classes during my lunch break? Yes!

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We started shortly after my first marathon, and I remember thinking what a great complement yoga was to running. At the time, I wasn’t doing any other cross-training.

I never went to any other classes until two summers ago, when I bought a Groupon for Bikram. I worried that I would have trouble in the heat, but I was curious. And the price was right — unlimited classes for one month for only $25.

I don’t remember how many classes I made it to that month … but I really enjoyed it. Just not enough to cough up the full price after that first month. But that fall, I picked up another Groupon, two months for $49. It stuck the second time. I first purchased one month, but then signed on for a whole year. You save a lot if you commit upfront! I just renewed again for a third year.

The only time that really works with my schedule is the 6 a.m. class. It’s often hard to get motivated to get out of bed in the morning  and out the door by 5:45 a.m., but it always feels so good to start the day in class. For most of my two years in class, I’ve typically gone Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

Triathlon training has put a wrinkle into my yoga schedule, though. Swimming is Tuesday/Thursday nights, and I usually don’t get home until 10 p.m. Even if I manage to get to bed promptly, I just can’t make it to class the next day. I’ve tried setting my early alarm a few times — only to reset it for a more reasonable wake-up time.

So I’ve switched my yoga schedule to Tuesday/Thursday. I wish I could make it to more classes (maybe sometimes I’ll fit a Monday in), but I’m OK with this format until swimming ends at the end of May.

It does make for very busy Thursdays, though! Our office yoga has since dwindled down to just once a week (we do have bootcamp three times a week, plus a crossfit-style instructor), and of course that’s on Thursday. I don’t want to miss his class … but I don’t want to skip Bikram.  Just once a week isn’t enough!

So that’s two and a half hours of yoga … plus swimming at night, and I often try to squeeze in a run before I hit the pool.

Exhausting!

But I love it.

 

February 19, 2014

review: sunshine burgers

In the past couple years, I’ve been working on cleaning up my diet. It’ll never be perfect (that’s hard … and no fun!), but day to day, I do what I can to make sure I’m fueling my body with healthy foods.

I’ve greatly limited the amount of processed foods I’m eating, and make sure the ones I still do contain ingredients I recognize and trust.  I’ve really missed the convenience of veggie burgers. Once a staple in my diet, most have been nixed due to their science-experiment ingredient lists.

I was happy and excited when I got the opportunity to review Sunshine Burgers — organic, vegan and gluten-free burgers that come in a variety of flavors.

They are perfect when I’m in the need of a quick mini dinner after en evening workout, or when I don’t have time to cook a complicated meal.

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I was sent samples of six (!) varieties of Sunshine Burgers to try. The first one I dug into was Garden Herb. I tried it plain — just cooked in the toaster oven. It came out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and I loved the taste. I actually didn’t come up with anything creative to do with this flavor, but the next time I wanted one, I added some stone ground mustard. Delicious! And the ingredient list? Nothing to complain about here: organic cooked brown rice, organic ground raw sunflower seeds, organic carrots, organic spices, sea salt.

I took a suggestion off the box and made “meatballs” out of the Shiitake Mushroom flavor. No, they didn’t taste like meatballs … but they held up nicely and were delicious served with zucchini “pasta” on a particularly healthy-eating day. I just heated up a burger part way, rolled into balls, and cooked for a few minutes in the toaster oven to firm them up.

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I liked this idea so much that I did it again with the Hemp & Sage Breakfast flavor.

I also went the breakfast route with the Hemp & Sage burger. I crumbled it into pieces and put into a scramble with kale and eggs. It may not look all that appetizing in this photo (sorry!), but it was wonderful!

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I added a Loco Chipotle burger to some leftover chili, a natural match. Once again, not the most appetizing photo … but it was really good!

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My chili is pretty simple. I roasted two poblano peppers and a small onion. Then I combined the peppers and onion in a pot with two cans of beans (I used pinto and white beans this time around), a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. Add chili powder, cayenne, salt, cumin and garlic powder to taste.  I stirred in some cooked quinoa when it was ready to serve. That Loco Chipotle burger was a nice addition when I didn’t quite have enough left for lunch!

Similar to the Loco Chipotle is the Black Bean Southwest burger. I enjoyed that one by itself, too, but that could work in tacos and burritos. I also got to try the Falafel burger. Tasty, but it needed a little something. I’m thinking a tahini sauce would do the trick!

My local Whole Foods carries Sunshine Burgers, as do some of the Safeway stores in the area. If you want to find them in your area, they have a handy store locator.

 

Disclaimer: I received Sunshine Burgers for free through my involvement with the Sweat Pink Ambassador Program.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.

February 13, 2014

changing gears

I only ran 32 miles in January. Less than my 39 from last November, when I was injured.

I’m feeling fine now, though. But my schedule has changed. I’m not “mostly running” at the moment.

I started swimming with a masters swim group twice a week in the beginning of the year. It’s a tough time — 8-9:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Nights that I usually run.

I was pretty casual about my running in January. As I got used to this new swim schedule, I’d often skip weekday runs, or do just a short run once a week before a swim class. Running on the weekends has been short, usually just six miles or maybe eight, and at least once I bailed on my weekend running completely due to bad weather.

But I was OK with being a winter wimp a few times. Being a lazy runner. Because I’m getting ready for something bigger.

The first month and a half of this year have been a bit of a reset for me.

And this week starts a 16-week journey as I train for my first half Ironman.

(eep!)

Yup, back in August I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Raleigh … and now it’s time to make it happen!

I put my plan into a spreadsheet this weekend, knowing it was go time. It’s a bit scary looking at everything I’ve got lined up for myself. I based it off of this plan, rearranging things to make the swim days line up where I need them, and expecting I’ll flip many of the scheduled Saturday/Sunday workouts, since my run group usually meets Saturday.

I know I won’t follow it exactly, but it’s a start.

I do know I won’t be overbooking my race schedule before race day (June 1) . I’ll have a few, but so far it doesn’t look like I’ll be too far off my training schedule. I hope to add a few organized bike rides to help with those long-mileage training rides, and I’m doing at least one short triathlon in May.

Scary and exciting!

So what are your big plans for 2014?

If all goes according to plan … this won’t be my only big event :)

 

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