Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Shoe Porn

So...I have a confession to make...I think I'm in love. 

I was a lucky winner of a drawing in March where I received a free pair of Brooks shoes.  I was ecstatic, I never win anything and I got a pair of shoes from a company that only makes shoes for runners.  Double score!

So why did it take so long to get them?  Well that's a long story, I lost the postcard for the shoes, then found it, then yadda yadda yadda.  Nevertheless, I found the card and sent it in. 

I knew exactly what I wanted.  I had scouted the store shelves, checked their inventory online and finally made my choice.  So you could imagine the excitement I had when I saw the box at home from their shipping center.  I literally jumped up and down!

Now I had to savor the moment...this was a process and I was not going to rush it.

Almost there...time for the big reveal!

Ah yes...JACKPOT!

My brand new Brooks Adernaline GTS 12's!  Aren't they pretty!!!  LOVE the color combo!  Gotta sport my purple!


I was so excited I had to put them on immediately!  Yup, felt just like they did at the store.  Brooks makes their shoes that are PERFECT for my feet.  My ankles taper in the the back and the backs of their shoes cradle my ankle area so nicely.  The ball of my foot is also much wider than the rest of my foot, so I benefit greatly from the wide toebox they provide.  I am a mild pronator on my left foot (my right is completely neutral) so these shoes provide the perfect amount of support for me and my high arches!

I took these babies out for the last Torchlight Training Run and got them nice and dusty, dirty!  My assessment of them after my first full run: still in love. 

The store advised that I order a half size larger than my normal shoe size.  I was skeptical at first, but once I tried on my true size and the half size above (having run around in both), I realized they were right, the half size up is more comfortable.  Now my ankles/achilles usually feel fatigued after a long run, however with the way the shoe is shaped it gives me the perfect support I need in that area.  No fatigue during my training run or during the actual 8K race.  With other running shoes I've had, I've always felt like my foot was encapsuled in plastic and fabric, fit tightly around my feet.  However with the Brooks Adrenaline's, I hardly felt the shoes there!  They were so light and breathable, my feet never felt weighed down or bulky.  It was such a bizarre feeling, but very cool!

I <3 these shoes!  I've been a fan of Brooks for a while but never could afford their shoes, nor understand why they were so expensive.  Yet over the time I've been researching, buying and running in clearance cheapie shoes and now finally have and run in a pair of my own Brooks, I get it.  I understand the difference and I can feel the difference in my own bodies performance.

Lightbulb moment! 

All the time and effort Brooks put into their technology isn't just for good looks, it's for performance and about you getting your best perfromance.  It's amazing what a pair of shoes can do and how they can change your run.  I'm a believer, a fan and now a groupie.  I have plenty of goals to beat, and I'll crush them all with Brooks on my feet!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Momentum Monday: Finding your feet

Saturday evening was the Seafair Torchlight Run that I've been talking about here and going to training runs for the past three weeks for.  I learned two things about myself with this race; 1) I don't like afternoon/evening races (I'll discuss this more during my race recap), and 2) outside support is highly underrated. 

We know that no one can help us run a race, no one can make our legs go faster when all they want to do is stop, and no one can push us more than we push ourselves.  Yet there is something to be said about people cheering you on and supporting you, even if there is nothing they can do to help you physically.

This was the first race I had been to that I had no one there to support me or be with me as I prepped for the race or welcome me back as the race ended.  My hubby was working and couldn't make the race, and my family has never really been that supportive.  However when I told my mom that I would be going to the race by myself, she went into "mom-mode" and was really worried about me being alone and for my safety.  I assured her that I would be fine and that I could take care of myself.  She called me about an hour before the race apologizing that they (mom and dad) weren't there, she wanted to be there so that I wasn't alone, but their plans had gotten in the way.  She had me call her before the race started and after I finished, then again when I got home so she knew I was safe.  Yes, she is protective and she can drive me crazy, but I love my mother.

It also got me to thinking, I wanted her to be there because she wanted to be there to root me on and support me in my endeavor, not just to keep me company and make sure I was safe.  I want my family to share in my experiences, the hardship that comes with races sometimes and have someone to look for at the finish line.  I wanted her support and presence.

So yesterday when I went over to my parents house for family dinner night (every Sunday), everyone asked about the race and how I think I did, etc.  My mom later pulled me aside and gave me a great big hug and apologized again for not being there with me.  Then she said something I wasn't prepared for.  She said "I'm proud of you for what you are doing and running these races, I want you to know that." 

I seriously shed a tear.  Whew...I'm getting misty eyed again.

She has never acknowledged this endeavor, let alone tell me that she was proud of me for doing it.  That validation of support means so much and in no way deters from my love of the unwaivering support I have gotten from my hubby, it just adds a little more push on my tush to do better and reach farther than I thought was possible.

Which leads me to the Momentum Mantra for today and this week:

My race showed me I have major gaps in my training (again, more on that in the recap).  I did about the same from my previous 8K, meaning I didn't do worse but I also didn't improve.  That being said, the fact that I've been running more and getting back into a training groove has been rejuvenating for me.  I'm no where near where I want to be (or should had I kept training consistently) and I need to keep going, keep pushing and know I have a goal in mind. 

Today is an opportunity to improve on yesterday.  Make it count!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Torchlight Training Run #3

Yesterday was the third and final training run before Torchlight Run on Saturday July 28th.  It was quite a hot day as well, 89 degrees at Greenlake with very little breeze.  Needless to say, I was sweaty!

Got to Road Runner Sports and everything was set up like usual.

Except this was a bit different, the Seafair setup was inside the store, you know why?  This is where the post run freebies and beer will be handed out.  Score.

Another event that occurred at the run was the appearance of Miss Seafair.
She was on hand to do a "knighting" ceremony to a member of the athletic community that has made a large impact.  This year was Donald Watts.

I used to watch him play for the Huskies when I was in college band.  He was an awesome player to watch!

After the ceremony, we set out to run the lake.  It was still really hot and made the run that much tougher.  I hit the ground and gave it everything I had and only had to walk a little bit at the end.  My stomach was upset coming in and I was afraid of what might happen, so I walked.  It all subsided and I was able to run back in.
Me and my post run coconut water...tasted SO good.  Now...where's my beer?

Everyone was directed inside for the raffle and beer "garden".

I didn't win anything. I never win anything anyway. Hey at least I got my beer!

A look at the "booty" I got from the last training run.  Not too bad and now I've got some fuel for tomorrows run!  Another great surprise is that I met a blogger that I follow Marathonlar. She was so surprised that someone recognized her in real life from reading her blog.  It was a really cool experience and she's a really sweet person.  Check out her blog!

I picked up my packet for the run tomorrow and I'm super stoked.  I'm hoping to have lots of pictures from the race to share with you.

Also, I was just made aware that my "follow" request area on the blog wasn't working. I've since fixed it, so please feel free to subscribe!  

Have a great Friday all, I'm off to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremonies!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Racing Series: Question #1

Over the course of my time blogging I will inevitably have questions that pertain to a subject, or have a multi-part post about products or races.  So I thought it was a good idea to start a "series" so that it can continue on without lots of background to catch up.  Sound good?  Well onward then!

My first question has to deal with late day racing.  Saturday is the Seafair Torchilight 8K race that I will be participating in and the start time is at 1830hrs (that is 6:30pm for all the non-military timers).  I'm used to being up at the crack of dawn and fueling up on my normal pre-race breakfast of wheat toast with almond butter, fig spread and sliced banana on top.  So good and great fuel for my body!

My concern is with eating the right things during the day to fuel me properly and not upset my stomach.  I have never done a late afternoon/evening race where there are many hours in the day between when I wake up and the start of the race.  Giving many oppotunities to eat something that may not agree with me and sideline me with stomach issues!  I've been told the following things to do:

- Eat normally up until 4 hours prior then have your normal pre-race meal just before the race.

- Have a big meal about 3 hours before the race and you should be good to go.

- Stay away from fiber during the day, then have some just before the race.

- Eat items with plenty of sodium to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

See the different opinions I've been given and why I'm so confused?  I know that most things with this sport is about trial and error and about finding what is best for you, as it can vary person to person.  However with this being my first late day race, I really don't want to put this up to chance as much as possible!

So my question to all of you is, how/what do you eat during the day leading up to an evening race to avoid having stomach issues?  I'm not prone to them (knocking on wood), but I don't want to start! 

Regardless, I am excited for the race on Saturday.  It's going to be hot and a bit grueling (a steep hill at the end of the run, seriously! Seriously? Seattle you make your races tough!), but I hear it's such a great experience and I'm excited to be a part of it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Momentum Monday: Self-doubt

It's another Monday and start of the work week.  I hope everyone had a great weekend, I know I had a most enjoyable one!

I've been blogging lately about training for the Torchlight 8K race that I will be running on Saturday.  I went to the hosted runs the past couple of Thursday's (thanks Brooks and Road Runner Sports!) and intend on going this Thursday as well.  I have been running outside of those runs, but not as many as I would like to get in.  I've also been extremely excited for this race, even getting some pirate garb to run in just to participate in the theme of Seafair.

Yet...I'm so unsure of my ability to run this race, that it is starting to psyche me out.  I saw a quote the other day posted by the lovely Mom Running on Empty, "There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results." (- Kenneth Blanchard)

This hit me because I feel like maybe I don't have the committment to running that I thought I did.  My family seems to think that my running and racing is a fluke.  They don't see me training or much of the health benefits of running a lot (weight loss), simply because I don't run a lot.  I'm struggling with running numerous times a week.  I'll get really good about it and run 4-5 times in a week, then drop down to 1-2 times a week, all the while touting that I'm a runner.  So I guess I could see their apprehension with my admittance in being a runner, I am having an issue convincing myself at times.

So I figured the only way I can convince myself is to work hard and pursue my goals...and to hell with what every one else thinks.  I know I'm a runner and I run because I want to: be fit, be healthy, push myself, shake off the stress, enjoy the scenery, enjoy life!

So todays Momentum Monday is focused on doing and not listening to the nay-sayers around you and even the ones in your head.

Question:  How do you deal with doubt from your loved ones?  How do you keep if from turning into self-doubt?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday Fun

Ugh...I'm a day behind in my posts!  I'll catch up, I promise.  Until then, I'll tell you about my Friday!

You know it is summer around Seattle when the food festival known as the Bite of Seattle is going on.  Well it opened on Friday at 11am.  Guess who works 4 blocks from Seattle Center where it's held?  Me!  Guess who has their lunch time at 11:30?  Me!  Guess who went to the Bite of Seattle for lunch?  You guessed it, ME!

I have missed the Bite for the past two years and it's always fun to go and check out the new booths and see if there is anything different to try that year.  It was POURING rain in the morning and I seriously doubted that it would stop in time for me to go at lunch, but about an hour before I could leave it stopped raining.  BONUS!

I love going when it first opens, because the crowds are REALLY light and you can get your food pretty quick.  I love trying new places, but it never fails that I end up getting my old stand-by, a corn dog.  Maybe I can break with tradition this year! In the back of the pic on the left you'll see a green food truck. Had a roasted duck taco from there, UNBELIEVABLE! Wish I had gotten a picture of it, it was AMAZING!  But I digress.
If any of you had ran the RnR marathon series last month, you'd recognize this area as the family meet-up spot.  No letters out...just tasty food booths!
The stage was all set and music was playing by the time I got there.  It was nice to have live tunes going while munching on tasty bites!

Beer garden.  Yes it was open.  Yes there were people in it drinking already.  Yes "happy hour" was from 11-2 with discounted beer prices.  Keeping it classy, Seattle.

So every year Tom Douglas, a famous chef around these parts, puts together a plate that incorporates foods from his 7 restaurants that you can get at one place.  With all the proceeds going to Food Lifeline.  Now that is some class right there, good job!

Oh yeah...and I failed at breaking my tradition.  To my defense, this was a spicy italian sausage corn dog that was about as long as my forearm!  It was SO GOOD!!  I also had a lamb slider that I didn't take a picture of, it wasn't worthy of one either, it was quite disappointing.

There were tons of booths with organic and natural foods.  I came back to my office with my arms full of this stuff!

 Pretty good of booty for only being at the Bite for about 40 minutes!  They were handing out these large bags of Smartfood popcorn (I'm not a fan of popcorn, but knew my co-workers would devour it!), Cascade Farms handed out three small boxes of their granola to everyone that visited their booth, you got one of each Lara bar samples (LOVE Larabars!!!) and a packet of natural sweetners.

 I've always wanted to try stevia, so this is a pretty easy way for me to try it without making a large purchasing commitment.  It also came with flavored blue agave samples, I had no idea they had flavored ones!  I'm excited to try the maple one on pancakes!!!  YUMM-O!

All in all it was a good visit to the Bite and I got out before it started getting really crowded.  Only thing I can't stand about the event is that there is not ONE booth that actually sold "a bite".  Meaning a small sample of their product that you can buy for a dollar or two.  Instead you have to buy a whole plate or multiples of an item (ie eggrolls, meat skewers).  What if you don't want a whole meal and would rather booth hope and sample as much as you can?  Nope, not gonna happen.  I think the vendors are missing out on a golden opportunity to sell small amounts of food at a higher price percentage than plates of their product at a medium price percentage.  Did that make sense?

Regardless, I enjoyed my brief time there and went back to work completely satisfied.  I spent my evening at a friends house eating awesome Chinese food, drinking mojitos and catching up on life with some of my favorite people.  Not to mention spending time with their adorable kiddos!!

Hope your weekend is going well, I know mine is going too fast!  Slow down please!  Have a good night!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Torchlight Training Run #2

It's that day of the week again!  Another Torchlight Training Run hosted by Brooks and Road Runner Sports.
Different group of people out from Brooks today than last week.  Had a good time chatting up with them and they gave great feedback on the runs they host.  Moral of the story: Wear Brooks stuff and you will get more raffle tickets!  You can thank me later for that.

Reps from Seafair were there to sign people up for the run.  Can't believe it is next weekend already!!  Who else is running it?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Everyone at Road Runner Sports was really nice and knowledgeable.  Also, another FYI, Road Runner has their GU gels for $.99 right now.  Good deal, I had to stock up a bit!

The rep at Nuun was back again.  Really nice guy and had us trying flavors I hadn't had yet.  Gotta say, I'm still a fan of the Tropical Punch, though I'm really wanting to try the tea flavor!!

This week my approach was a bit different in the run.  First off, I wanted to run the outside loop of Greenlake. I just found out that the inner loop is only 2.8 miles and the outer loop is the 5K! (smacking forehead)  I also decided that I would leave a little bit before the rest of the group did.  Let's be honest, they are all trailblazers and I just can't keep up with them.  Sorry, I'm just not at an 8 minute miler...yet.  :)
So I was trucking along, finding it hard to get into a rhythm, my head was in this run...and I didn't need it to be.  After my first mile I had to walk a bit, nasty side stitch!  It subsided and I started back up again, only for the stitch to come back. Damn it! I was doing so well!  Then after it went away again I started back up.  Then something great happened.  I found the rhythm.  You know where your legs just know what to do and your breath is easy and that mile just disappears under your feet.  That's where I was, and it was FANTASTIC!  Then the trail changed on me and I had no idea where it went (first time running this trail) and I had to stop to figure out my direction.  Effectively ending my rhythm.  I tried so hard during that last mile to find it again, but the body doesn't want you to over think it, it will find the rhythm for you.  Unfortunately, it never came back.

I returned to the meeting point and had this silly realization...I was among the first back.  Not because I had left with everyone else and smashed that 5K, oh no!  It was because I left earlier and actually ran more than walked this time.  It felt SO. GOOD.  To the point that I got goosebumps when I got back (you might not be able to see them in the pic, but they're there, trust me).  I felt vindicated from the last run and it was the best feeling!

A little bit of hydration and stretching before the raffle.  Didn't win anything, but then again I was actually there to hear whether or not my number was actually called!

Overall, the night was another success by Brooks and Road Runner Sports.  Lots of people running the lake and having a good time together.  It was also a success for me too, I improved my run from last week and finally ran that outer loop.  I still can't believe I didn't know the difference!  Sheesh!  It's only more motivation for me to keep going so that next week I can OWN that loop!

Question of the Day: Who is running the Seafair Torchlight Run on Saturday July 28th?  The 5K or the 8K?  Have your pirate garb yet? :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Solo Runner

I kinda feel like I'm grasping at straws here.  I'm struggling with my loneliness as a runner.

Running is the one sport where other people do not need to be involved in order for you to "play" and your gains and losses are based on your performance alone.  It is nice that you don't need any extra equipment in order for you to run (a good pair of shoes is never overrated) and you can run pretty much anywhere.  There is also something to be said when you just need to blow off some steam and the last thing you want to do is talk to someone else, it's perfectly ok for you to run as fast or as slow as you like while blaring Metallica through your ear buds.

In the same instance, if you don't have like-minded individuals whom you can count on for support or can call up/tweet/text to go running with, this journey can be quite lonely. in my honest opinion.  My friend Danielle that started her running journey shortly after I had, did hers with the assistance of group classes.  Her main class which lasted for 4 months, created some strong bonds between the runners and they regularly still get together to run or hang out, even though the class has been over for some weeks.

I would hear her fun stories about the group or be turned down for a run because she was hanging out with her "running ladies".  Over time I became envious of this relationship and support group she had with all these people.  All very different personalities, ages, experiences unified together with one common goal of running.  They did it together, challenged each other and laughed the whole way.

I want that same camaraderie.  That support.  Someone(s) I can call on for an in-promptu run some Wednesday night.  But I get the feeling that the only way I can get that is by paying for group classes, then I just feel like I'm trying to buy friends, how sad is that?

I've also been told that now that I'm in the blogging world to try and get to know fellow local bloggers and make some new friends that way.  Easier said than done!  How do you make friends with bloggers without sounding like a creepy, stalker fan?  Kinda scary, huh?  So my options seem to be "paying" for running friends or being thought of as a creepy, blog stalker?  Awesome...I'm feeling SO much better about this.  Yeah, those options kinda blow.

So what should I do?  What would you do?  How do I remedy this problem? 

I guess the issue that has prompted this and is staring me right in the face is that I have the Torchlight 8K Race on July 28th...and no one to be there with me.  No fellow running buddy, no family there to support me (races are not my families thing and my hubby will be working that night).  So I'm faced with this predicament that I will be at this race, pre- during and post-, all by myself.  Looking and feeling like a loner.  Le sigh.

Sorry that this post is a bit "debby downer", but this is something I've been battling for months and it now has finally come to a head.  We all naturally want a feeling of acceptance or camaraderie in something we feel so passionate about.  Like-minded individuals striving for goals and pushing each other to do better, be better.  It's just a matter of finding that open door to walk through and join the party.

Question for comment:  Have you felt this way? How did you find running buddies?  Suggestions for this lonely runner?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Momentum Monday: Conquering Fears

Today's momentum mantra really hit home for me this weekend.  

I re-visited an hiking trail that on the first (and only) time I hiked it, was a miserable experience.   It was the first hike my hubby had taken me on and I was SERIOUSLY out of shape.  This hike is 2 miles long, but you ascend 1100 feet in elevation, so it's no joke of a hike.  I huffed and puffed and had to make numerous stopping brakes because my legs were killing me, I couldn't catch my breath and I didn't think I was going to make it.  It took us over an hour to get up the trail, I was pretty much mortified and we haven't been back to the trail in over three years!

This weekend my hubby wanted to go hiking, it's his passion and he LOVES getting out on the trails.  I'm not as big of a fan as he is, but you can't beat the views!  So we headed out to North Bend and hiked Rattlesnake Ledge.

That is the ledge we were going to end up at!  

The trail starts you off at this lake side, now when I was here last that entire lake was dried up and we were able to climb all over the tree stumps that were all over the place, that are now hidden by the water.

The trail is beautiful, there is no denying that.  Wonderfully tall trees providing a nice canopy of shade to hike under, making the warm weather quite delightful to be in.  The trail was just as I remembered it.  Switchbacks and steep climbs dotted throughout, with the especially steep parts towards the top. 

Yeah, it's beautiful, but I was cursing half the way up the mountain.  It was hard, even after all the work I've been doing on my exercise, it is still a tough hike.  But you know what?  I didn't stop, I kept going.  Hubby and I had one major stop where we sat down for a couple of minutes, but other than that, we trekked the whole way up.  I was so delighted to see this sign, I knew we had finally reached the top!

And all our hard work was definitely rewarded, take a look at this view!

Wonderfully clear and stunning views all around!  We sat for a while and talked, just soaking up the sun and the view.

I was so proud of myself (hubby was too, high fives for all!) for having made the trek up this trail that had defeated me so terribly the last time we met.  I was proud of my progress and it just made me more excited about getting out to other trails this summer and kicking up another notch!

We were enjoying our time up there, with a whole bunch of others that had made the trek up the trail as well, but we knew we had to get back down before the trail got really busy.  So we made our way back down and as we were getting closer to the base I picked up the pace a bit and started jogging the rest of the way down.  Hubby followed suit and we ended up running back to the lake.  I felt so good about this hike and the fact I still had energy left over to run for a bit and not be wiped out for the rest of the day.  All of the work has not been in vain and I couldn't be happier. 


Sunday Things

So...my Sunday was pretty epic.  I won't say much, I'll just let my pictures do most of the talking.  So my hubby and I woke up and decided that making breakfast was just not in the cards.  So we decided to go have dim sum.

Then we went and did our shopping for the week at Costco.

 Today was an extra special day though.  The hubby and I were invited to a backyard performance from noneother than the lovely Shannon Curtis.  My best friend Katie (pictured below) put on this wonderful gathering with the wonderfully talented Shannon.
I had heard some of Shannon's work online, but it does not hold a candle to what we heard in person, not to mention she is a wonderful human being to boot.  I may or may not have a musical crush on this woman. :)

Her music made me want to sing again.  Side note: I used to be VERY involved in choral music and singing in general when I was in high school.  But when I went to college it all changed and I didn't focus at all in my vocal abilities.  This concert made me want to get back in touch with my vocal side and sing with all my heart and soul.  If you haven't heard Shannon Curtis before, go to iTunes and listen to her music.  She is an angel with lyrics that will tug at your heart strings.  Two words: anti-gravity.  It's not available yet, but when it is you will never listen to that song without shedding a tear.

The rest of the night was spent relaxing and trading stories with Shannon and her hubby, Jamie.  Here is a pic of me and the hubby...isn't he so cute!

 Then a great picture of me, my friend Katie who hosted the concert and Shannon herself.  LOVE these ladies!!!
Well that's it for me tonight.  Have a good one and I'll see you in the morning!