My Top 5 Running Moments

I stole this idea from Angela, who got it from Amanda.

When I first saw Angela’s top five post and decided to steal copy borrow it, I thought it would be pretty easy. I mean, there are definitely “great” runs in every runner’s history, whether is a first time event, a PR, or just an exceptional experience. Then I realized that, after running for over 25 years, I have a heck of a lot more than five great runs. The challenge was how to whittle them down.

My Top 5 Running Moments

After much deep thought (and many mind changes), here are the runs that I decided were my top 5 running moments.

Ragnarian

Capering for 20 miles

This run, which already stands out simply because it was awesome, is on my mind lately because of the challenges I’ve been having with my long runs and asthma. It was Saturday, September 12, 1998, I was training for the Honolulu Marathon, and running 20 miles. I didn’t set out to run fast, but as I ran along, I just felt better and better, which resulted in running faster and faster. Alan and I finished that run in 2:40, an eight minute per mile pace, and I distinctly remember saying to Alan at about mile 15, “I feel like I’m capering!”

Now, I didn’t just remember the date. I pulled out my old date books, where I religiously tracked my mileage and other workouts. As I thumbed through those old records, my main thought was, “man, we were animals!” With long runs up to 27 miles before a marathon, weekly mileage up to 60-70 miles, and lots of racing, we were running strong. The same week that I ran that 2:40 on Saturday? I had also run 21.5 the Monday before! Those were the days, my friends. (No recommendations here, it just was what it was.)

Finishing with my son

When my son moved back to California about 10 years ago, he was recovering from a marriage to an abusive woman, and quite depressed. He was smoking, overweight, and unhappy. Fortunately, he moved in with new roommates from work. They just happened to be runners. My son started running, lost weight, gained confidence and eventually started competing in races. I talked him into running the La Jolla Half Marathon with me, but we never found each other at the start line. I caught up with him at mile 10, where he was walking and having terrible blister problems. He started running again and we stayed together until the finish. One of my proudest “Mom Moments.”

La JollaThere’s more to the story!

My First Marathon

Even though I had thought about running a marathon, it wasn’t until I met Alan in 1996 that it became a reality. At the time, he was a big fund raiser for the Leukemia Society, so much so that he was able to get an extra ticket and entry for the 1996 Honolulu Marathon for me. It was an amazing experience, from the hotel on the beach, the early morning walk to the start line, the 5 am start and the fireworks, all the way to the finish at Kapiolani Park. In spite of being so sore I could hardly walk the next day, the Honolulu Marathon was the start of my long love of the marathon distance. We went back another five times (and we’re registered to run the 2015 race!).

Honolulu-Marathon

There’s more to the story!

We’ll always have Paris

I’ve been fortunate enough to run the Paris Marathon twice. What can you say? It’s a 26.2 mile tour around the center of the city. Manifique! Alan and I celebrated both times by running together and carrying disposable cameras with us (It was 1998 and 2001, no mobile phones to record the experience for posterity).

ParisMarathon

There’s more to the story!

And the PR race

I ran my personal best race in 1999 at the St. George Marathon, a race that has a net elevation loss, so many runners, including Olympic trial hopefuls come there to give themselves an extra chance. Before the race, runners are bussed up to the start line, which is at about 5,200 feet. The race then runs down to the town of St. George, Utah, which is at about 2,500 feet. It’s not all downhill though. There are a lot of rolling hills, especially in the first half, and the main downhill comes the last six miles as you are running back into town. In spite of some nutrition mistakes, and two bathroom stops, I had a great race. Okay, I’ll tell you. I was 41 years old and I finished the race in 3:16:24. And because it was an Olympic trial year, that time only got me 17th in my division!

St.-George

Surprise! Here’s Number 6!

After finishing this post, I was happy with my choices. Then I realized that I skipped what was probably my favorite run of all time: Ragnar So Cal! While I never planned to run a Ragnar Relay, when Melissa asked me to fill in for her last year I said that I’d do it, even though I was only vaguely aware of what a Ragnar was (does it stand for something?). It’s hard to put into one short paragraph what an awesome experience this was. A great team, first of all. Each and everyone of those women were amazing. Even though I’d only met two of them before the event, I walked away with 11 new friends.

Finish1

There’s more to the story!

What is your favorite run? What made it so special?

Friday Favorites

Did you see my guest post on Amanda’s blog? It’s all about how you can keep running until you’re 90. Check it out!

Popping in today to share some Friday Favorites! The folks at Asics have an amazing sweepstakes that you won’t want to miss, plus a little fitness motivation and something for your sweet tooth. Finally, an invitation (and discount code) to Blogfest. Check them out!

Asics Gear for the Year Sweepstakes

Asics has an amazing sweepstakes going on right now. You can win 10 months worth of Asics gear! How’s that for a prize? That’s $300 per month for 10 months = $3,000! Wow! Enter here. You can enter once a day until April 30!

Asics

What would you buy with with $3,000 to spend? First, I would stock up on Asics shoes, including these babies, the Gel-Electro 33. I love them for racing and speedwork.

Asics 9Click here to read my review of the Asics Gel Electro 33

Asics Gel SanaClick here to read my review of the Asics Gel-Fit Sana

 

Motivation from Skulpt

skulpt 2

I mentioned the Skulpt Aim a few weeks ago. It is a simple fitness tracker that can measure body composition with just a touch, and continue to track it using the free Skulpt app. It uses electrical impedance myography, which uses a weak electrical current to measure body fat and to give you a Muscle Quality (MQ) score based on those measurements. The app is a great motivational tool that will help to record improvements.

I wasn’t really happy with my original measurements, and that was enough to send me back to weight training. I’ve been doing some yoga and Pilates, but my main focus has been on training for the SLO Marathon.  I’m still not as consistent as I’d like, but once marathon training is done I will be ready to hit the gym on a regular basis. I want to see that body fat percentage go down!

NuNaturals

Nustevia

I told you before that I was lucky. Well, one of the things I have won (twice) is a sample package from NuNaturals. Thanks Jody! I say samples, but these are full size products of some of their best stevia products. I admit that I have a sweet tooth, and I need a little sweetener in my coffee. I love both the simple syrup and the cocoa syrup! And I’ve finally weaned Alan off sucralose, and he uses the NuStevia powder. They also have many great products for baking, which I don’t really do, but kind of wish that I did, because I’d love to use some of the great flavors of NuStevia like Cherry Vanilla, Orange, Lemon, and many others.

Blogfest

20140814 IDEA Anaheim Copyright 2014 Len  Spoden Photography.

If you are a blogger, and have any kind of interest in health and fitness, then Blogfest should be the one blogging conference that you attend. Not only do you get two days of great blogging information, workouts, and networking, you will also be able to attend the last two days of the IDEA World Fitness Convention! Gabby Reece will be the Keynote Speaker for Blogfest, and you’ll have a chance to see Beto Perez and Jillian Michaels (and many more fitness pros and celebrities) at IDEA World. You can read more about it here, but what are you waiting for? Register and save $100 with the code BLOG100. And we’ll see you in Los Angeles July 16-19!

So, did you enter the giveaway yet? Will I see you at Blogfest?

A Few WTF Moments and My Training Recap

I’m not sure if WTF moments is the right term, but a few things this week have given me pause.

First though, if you’re a local or visitor to the Palm Springs area, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $150 gift certificate and a bottle of wine at Mitch’s on El Paseo! It’s really a great prize. Enter here.

Mitch'sInstagram

WTF Moments

Here’s the weirdest: I got a notification a few days ago that the woman who is responsible for me losing my job wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn. Talk about a WTF moment. Seriously, this woman, who was not my boss, and theoretically had no rights as far as hiring and firing, wants to connect. I really want to ask her, “what the hell are you thinking?” So far I’ve just ignored the request.

Alan, my husband and Cat Rescuer (as well as Dog and Calf), feeds the feral cats in the neighborhood, as you may know. Recently he has been working with a charitable organization to get all of the cats spayed or neutered and so far has done about 25 cats. There are always a few that seem to be uncatchable though, and one of those just had kittens the other night. She was very young and didn’t know how to care for them, so after dropping them in the street, she basically abandoned them. Alan tried to feed them, but they were just too young. Sadly, all three died.

Okay, hold on for the WTF moment. The cat gave birth on April 1. The third cat died by early on April 3. On Sunday, April 5, she gave birth to two more kittens. At last look, she was tending to them as a new mother should.

kitten

Another kitten from a few years ago (he survived).

It’s only three weeks until the SLO Marathon and I’m beginning to feel like my training is one big WTF moment. Or at least a what the hell am I doing moment. Details of my long run in my training recap below, but I felt the run was so hard, so painful (figuratively, not literally), and just so long, that I’m doubting my commitment to the race. I’ll probably follow my own advice and suck it up, but right now, well, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

Training Recap

My training plan took another hit this week when we lost a front desk receptionist as work. She just didn’t show up one day. My approach to work is that you do what you need to do to get the job done, so I offered to help out as necessary to get through the end of the season. I won’t lose any personal training time, but I’ll work some extra front desk time as needed. That turns out to mean that I’ll be opening two days a week, throwing my training schedule off yet again. I’m not thrilled about working at 5:30 twice a week, but what can you do? It cuts out my Monday workout, which I’m going to try to squeeze in on Tuesday.

I’m so glad we’re three weeks and counting down until the race.

On Wednesday I headed out alone to do a hill workout. My new training partner, my neighbor Christina, wasn’t feeling well, so I was on my own. It was still dark when I left the house, but I ran a loop around the neighborhood to give it time to get light enough to get out to the trails where I do my hill workout. Because of that I only had time for 10 repeats, but if you add on the 1.5 mile run up to the hill that works pretty nicely. I also used the 1.5 mile downhill home to practice a little downhill running. So I was pretty happy with the total workout.

Hills

On Saturday I was scheduled to run 22 miles. I wasn’t looking forward to it. The weather is heating up in the desert, and I knew I’d be running at least half of the run on my own. Christina’s a great running partner, but she’s a new runner, and has no need to run that far.

We planned for 5:30, but it was closer to 6:00 when we headed out. It was chilly, which was good. We took a loop of our neighborhood, then headed east toward the nice horse paths that are so great to run on. Our first stop was at about mile seven to use the bathroom and fill up our bottles. Then I headed part way back with Christina, with the thought that when I turned back around for my solo run, I’d have less mileage left to complete. Good idea, but it still left over 11 miles on my own.

Long Run

Clockwise from top left: My favorite watering station (they have an ice machine!), fueling with a Sun Warrior smoothie after the run, waiting for Alan to pick me up, just noticing how filthy my feet get after such a long run, and a look down one of the trails.

 

Running that far alone is really a mental game. Your body is tired and achy, and really just wants to stop and walk. It’s the mind that has to overcome that and keep on pushing through. Yes, I gave in and walked a few times, especially in the last few miles when I was exhausted, it was getting warm, and my exercise induced asthma started to give me problems. But I always managed to get going again, even if it was slow. I though about calling Alan, especially after I passed 20 miles. What’s another mile or two? But I didn’t. I stuck with it and completed my 22 miles. I am happy for that, but I’m still going through the mental conflicts I mentioned above.

Sunday was recovery/doggy run day. Just a few miles with lots of pee stops (for the dogs, not me I’m still dehydrated). My feet are a little sore. To be expected, but I’m spending some time with ice and my roller ball.

Other Stuff

We had a kids’ camp at work this week, and we provide pizza for their lunch. The manager buys enough for all the staff too, but of course, I have my special needs. I was inspired to head to Whole Foods to pick up a slice of vegan pizza. They outdid themselves! This one is huge, has BBQ Beyond Meat chicken, plus a ton of veggies and Daiya cheese. I needed to use two hands to pick it up. Nice job, Whole Foods!

PizzaHow was your week? Any races, training, or other special moments to share? Any WTF moments?

Pin It Party V7

pin-it-party

It’s that time again! Another Pin It Party is coming at you! Lindsay, over at the Lean Green Bean, I, and a lot of other bloggers will be sharing some of our favorite pinnable posts from the last few months! Make sure to check out Lindsay’s post, where you will also find a list of all the participating bloggers, and start reading (and pinning) away! While you’re at it, why don’t you follow me on Pinterest! Party on!

Train Smarter: 5 Ways to PR Running 3 Days a Week

Race PRHave limited time? Don’t we all? Here are some tips to get that PR running three days a week.

12 Running Myths You May Still Believe

Running MythsDo you still think running is bad for your knees? It’s time to banish this and other running myths.

Vegan “Tuna” Salad with Jackfruit, Avocado and Quinoa

Jackfruit Tuna 4Have you tried Jackfruit? It is sometimes called the Vegetable Meat, and is a delicious, non-processed, meat alternative. Here is an easy Tuna-less salad to try.

Indian Lentil Cakes with Cucumber Mint Raita

Lentil Cakes7These Lentil cakes are delicious and easy to make. And the riata is out of this world!

The Top 5 Marathon Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Marathon MistakesWhether you’re training for your first or your 50th, here are some potential mistakes to avoid in your next marathon.

If you missed the previous Pin It Parties, and want to check out the favorite posts that I shared, here they are:

Pin It Party 1
Pin It Party 2
Pin It Party 3
Pin It Party 4
Pin It Party 5
Pin It Party 6

I hope you found something worth pinning (and reading) today! There is still time to join the party! Here is the link to Lindsay’s original post with directions and the Pin Party graphic. Then you can join the party and share your own link here. Or you can share one of your favorite posts in the comments.

Recap: The Week in Training and Life

Countdown to the SLO Marathon

(Still haven’t signed up? Click here and use the code WOODAMB at checkout to save $10)

SLO Marathon

The countdown to the SLO Marathon has begun! In less than four weeks I will be in San Luis Obispo at the start line of my 37th marathon. Will I be ready? Yes! Will I be able to rock the race as I’d planned? Um, maybe.

If you’ve followed my training recaps you know that life has interfered a lot in my training plan. While my long runs have been pretty much on target, my mid-week training has not been what it should. I’ve been getting in some of the planned speed work, but my efforts to get my total weekly mileage up where I’d like it have not been very successful. Last week I managed for the first time to get over 30 miles. This week, a long run cut-back week, I just barely managed 28 miles.

So to look at the big picture, and to stop whining about things I can’t change, I will have an okay race. Not great, but, barring any severe exercise induced asthma issues, I’ll be fine. And I still have two weeks before I start my taper, so I have hopes for these next two peak training weeks.

This week I got all my planned training runs done {high five!}. On Monday I was out the door at 5:15 in the morning. After a one mile warmup I did four half mile intervals on the road followed by two quarter mile repeats. I was running out of time, so I couldn’t get the three miles total in intervals that I wanted, but I’m happy with that.

morning run 2It was barely getting light when I finished my interval workout on Monday. Can you see the old man in the mountain in the picture below?

Morning run 3On Wednesday I ran a total of six miles, with three miles at half marathon pace. I ran with my neighbor Christina, and we got going at 5:15. I’m not crazy about running alone so early, so I was happy to have a running partner.

As I mentioned it was a cut-back week for my long run this week. I had 15 on the schedule with four miles at marathon pace in the middle of the run. Christina ran with me for most of it, and we did manage to run miles 5-9 at my goal marathon pace, which is about 10 minutes per mile. At that pace it’s not like I was sprinting, but I still found it challenging (which I have to admit concerns me at this late point in training). Anyway, I got it done. After I split off from Christina I had about four more mile to run, but I was really dragging, so I ended up finishing with 14 miles for the day.

ChristinaAlan’s hamstring is bothering him, so we didn’t do our normal dog run on Sunday. Instead I ran four slow recovery miles on my own, choosing perhaps the most challenging route, which is a big loop around our neighborhood that finishes all uphill for the second half. Oh well, I got it done, and took a few photo breaks so I survived.

Recovery 3Pretty, huh? You wouldn’t guess that the day was going to heat up to about 100 degrees (on March 29!!!!).

The Life Recap

I’m not really sure why I’m including a life recap this week since it was generally pretty boring. Alan was away for a few days visiting our twin grandsons in Huntington Beach and cheering them on at the Jogathon at their school. Cash managed 31 laps in 30 minutes! I think this put him in second place overall.

CashAlan also went to their baseball game where both boys had some great plays. They all also played baseball with grandpa, rode bikes together, and of course, went to the beach (it was in the mid-80s!).

DaneMeanwhile, I stayed home to work. I also have been having afternoon headaches this week, which sucks. Unusual for me, they come on in the early afternoon, send me to bed for a couple hours, then seem to go away by early evening. I think it is because I recently got back on my hormones (Obamacare finally kicked in!), and my body is adapting. I’ll have it checked if I’m still having problems next week, but the last couple days seems a little bit better.

I did drag myself out on Thursday to see Cinderella with Christina. More on that tomorrow, but I will say that I loved it. I was fighting the stupid headache through the whole movie though, so I may just have to see it again when I feel better.

Pizza!

The food was pretty boring while Alan was gone. Between having only myself to cook for and not feeling good I kept it simple. Leftovers for the win! Also my favorite comfort food when I don’t feel good: a baked potato with salt and (vegan) butter. Not sure why this makes me feel better, but it’s been my go-to since I was very young.

Alan got home on Saturday and I was feeling pretty good so I made a pesto pizza. It was really, really, really good.

Pizza 2And worth a second look.

PizzaI have a 22 mile run on the schedule for next Saturday. I’ve been fighting a lot of doubts throughout this training cycle, so I admit that I’m fearing this distance. I’ll have to get a really early start too because I don’t think the weather is going to cool off very much.

Coming up on the blog this week I’ll have a comparative review of Cinderella 1965 vs. 2015, a great giveaway for desert locals, and the return of the Pin It Party with Lindsay and many other bloggers.

And finally, here’s something to make you smile:


How was your training week? Any events, races, or other fun times? Want to join the Pin It Party (it’s on Thursday if you’d like to participate)?

Lucky Me! And SLO Marathon Training Update (one month out!)

Winner Winner, (vegan) Chicken Dinner

Have I mentioned how lucky I’ve been lately? Oh yeah, I may have mentioned it. Since December I’ve been entering and winning a lot of giveaways. And I’ve won some really cool things. Like my Blendtec Designer 725 (from Fitfluential). I also won a $100 Lululemon gift card from Fitfluential. I won a pair of Injinji socks and Croc shoes from Katie (in two separate giveaways!), a pretty headband from Sparkly Soul, and an Unplugged t-shirt from Jenn. Not to mention that I found $20 on the street a few weeks ago!

Well, the luck continues. Last week I received a package from NuNaturals that I one from Jody (the second time I won that from her! They’re keeping me stocked up.), and I received this from Influenster (not a giveaway, but I guess I won it from among the participants in a marketing program):

Influenster2

This was a complete and very fun surprise.

NuStevia

Five Weeks Until the SLO Marathon!

Yikes! That happened fast. The SLO Marathon is just a little over a month away! I feel like I’ll be ready, even though my training has not been quite as intense as I’d planned. My weekday training suffered because I frequently have to work at 7:00, so I’m just not getting the mid-week mileage that I’d hoped for. Especially now that Daylight Savings Time has started. I’m not comfortable running in the dark (here’s why), so I usually have to cut my runs short.

I have managed to get in my long runs according to schedule, so that’s good. And I usually manage at least one speed or hill workout during the week, even if it is a bit shorter than I’d like. That being said, I finally got my total mileage up over 30 miles for the first time this training cycle. Woohoo!

Running for the week:

Tuesday: 2.5 miles easy. I had to be at work early, but Alan ran with me so I could get out early.
Wednesday: 6.5 miles with two miles at tempo/LT pace (which was around 9:15 per mile). I ran with Christina, my neighbor, so we got out early enough that we could get our run in and I could be at work by 8:00.
Saturday: 20 miles. Yes, I got it done!
Sunday: 4 miles. Recovery run. It also put me over 30 for the week (33 to be exact).

So, for the long run, I started off running with Christina. Alan’s hamstring was bothering him, so he took the day off. We took off from a park about a mile from our house. Because we were getting a late start (again!), I took off forgetting my water bottle and didn’t remember until about a half mile into the run. I’d left it on the curb at the park, wasn’t sure if Alan would see it, so Christina and I turned around to retrieve it. Before we got there though, Alan pulled up, with my bottle, so we turned back around. I also stumbled and almost fell on a sidewalk crack, but fortunately I caught my balance before I went all the way down.

Christina planned to run 10, so I ran with her to her turnaround point, then ran back about two miles. I felt that this would cut down on how far out I would have to run by myself. We live in a wonderful area that has little traffic and horse trails, but the downside is that it can get a little desolate if you run out about 10 miles or so. This way I stayed closer to home, I passed my favorite fire station (and water stop) three times, and it just generally felt safer.

WRW6

All went well on the run, though 20 miles is a freaking long way. And hard! Speaking of hard, I was almost done, only about a tenth of a mile from finishing, when I stumbled over that same crack in the sidewalk! This time I went down, flat on my face. Still, my first emotion was embarrassment, so obviously I wasn’t too badly hurt. I did manage to bang up my knee, hand, and even hit my face, but fortunately that was a light hit. The fall (or my emotion about the fall) also brought up my exercise induced asthma, but a couple quick puffs on my inhaler suppressed that. And yes, I did run that last bit (.08 mile to be exact, anal about mileage as I am).

WRW8

On Sunday Alan was announcing the Running Wild for Hope 5k in Palm Springs. I had no intention of actually racing, but I do like to go along to see running friends that I haven’t seen for a while, even if it means waking up at 3:30 on a Sunday morning (I repeat, sometimes running is hard). I ran a slow, four mile recovery run while the race was going on, including a mile with my former LA Marathon bestie, while she warmed up for the race.

Race Pictures 001

Linda and I managed to finish the 2000 LA Marathon in 3:33 in spite of pouring rain and 40 degree temps. We wore our trash bags for the whole race!

WWRI took a quick nap (Alan gets to the race early!), then, after a mile with Linda, ran another three on my own. Slowly. My PRO Compression sleeves are my friends. I usually wear them for about two days after a tough run or race.

WRW3

WRW2You can see the wound (which sounds too dramatic, but “owie” doesn’t look right) on my knee (the bandage didn’t last long there). It felt okay though.

As I mentioned, there are only five weeks left until the SLO Marathon on April 26. That means three weeks of training really, then a two week taper. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can still save $10 with my code: WOODAMB.  It will be beautiful in San Luis Obispo, something I’m looking forward to since it’s already getting hot in the desert.

Skulpt Aim

As I mentioned last week, I’ve had an opportunity to try out the Skult Aim. I wasn’t very happy about my initial readings, so that has encouraged be to get back to a little weight training. I’ve been practicing yoga a couple times a week, Pilates maybe once, so I hope to add some traditional strength training twice a week or so. Gotta bring those numbers down!

skulpt 2Yes, I’m showing my best reading in the picture above. That is my quadriceps measurement. My biceps, triceps and abs need a little work. So I did get in two upper body strength workouts last week. It’s actually pretty easy, since I work in a gym, and there is always a little time to get in a quick workout. I’ll be tracking my results over the next few weeks and we’ll see how those reading change.

So, that’s my week. How is your training going? Any events, races, or competitions?