Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rock Stars of the Running World

Saturday was an epic run day for me. It started out with a fabulous long run of 20.11 miles. The skies were clear, it wasn't too hot, I nailed my marathon goal pace miles (7 miles at 9:03 for miles 13-19), and my legs felt fantastic. When I was done, I took my mountain bike out for an easy spin to keep my legs from getting stiff. Then I showered, changed, ate, and headed out to the Crossfit Games in Carson, CA.

I saw thru Twitter that Jeremy from Altra and Patton from the Natural Running Store were going to be at the Crossfit Games and since I'm a big fan of their companies and their commitment to running, I couldn't pass up the chance to meet them.

I bought my Altra Intuitions in May and the first time I put them on, it felt completely right. It felt like my body instantly knew it was in the right shoes. My feet loved the wide toe box which gave my foot plenty of room and everything else fit perfectly: the heel didn't slip when I ran and the fit across the top of my foot was great. Running in them was fun and kind of freeing.

One of the things that I noticed about Altra is that they don't just want you to buy their shoes. They want you to be the best runner you can be: running injury free and with good form. Their website has a lot of information on making the transition and form and if you haven't checked it out, you should:

And then there's Patton! I bought my Intuitions from the Natural Running Store and I have to say it was definitely one of the most fun purchases I ever made! First, he contacted me after I placed my order to make sure I'd chosen the correct size. I have never had that happen before. I'd always figured on having to return things if they didn't fit but after talking with Patton, I was sure I'd picked the right size and I was right. Then, not only did I get the Intuitions super, super fast but in the box was a personal note from Patton and an energy bar. It was like Christmas for a runner. And then I got a follow up video message from Patton thanking me for my purchase. I have all my stuff delivered to work since the office where I live is closed before I get home and my co-workers were completely floored by the Natural Running Store's level of customer service. It is so rare to find a company that is so caring and makes you feel special! My second purchase was the same and I plan on feeding my shoe fetish with shoes from the Natural Running Store in future. I encourage you to check them out too: They also have videos and a blog with lots of info to help you with form and running.

The other thing I love about both companies is that they are also very encouraging to runners (and crossfitters) on Twitter and Facebook. I think both companies are a fun presence and they add a lot to the running community. Although sometimes I wish Patton wouldn't post so many cool shoe photos. It makes it really hard to resist them!

I'm excited about where running shoes are going. I love that there are so many options out there for runners now, that they are getting lighter & more foot friendly, and that we can make informed choices about what we choose to wear. Both Altra and the Natural Running Store are leaders in that area. If you aren't already, you should follow and/or like them:

On Twitter
On Facebook

Natural Running Store
On Twitter
On Facebook

Jeremy & Patton: I had fun meeting you both! Thank you for the shirt and I hope you enjoyed your visit to California. My only regret is that I forgot to get your autographs. ;)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It’s Not The Clothes That Make A Runner

No, it's not the clothes that make a runner. Really, who cares what anybody else is wearing? It's not like there's a uniform. Used to be you’d say all you need is a pair of running shoes but that's not even true anymore. I loved the latest issue of Runners World and their Fastinista article and I found it intriguing that so many women were in an uproar over it. As if what you wear determines whether or not you are a serious runner. Guess what? I'm serious about running. I mean, hello? I hired a running coach!

And I wear skirts! There I said it. And you know what? I'm proud to say it.

Sure all I need is a running bra (things aren't as perky as they used to be and need support), a shirt or tank, shorts (probably compression because again, things aren't as perky as they used to be), socks, and shoes. And I would be happy with that. But some people have ton of shoes (Choose or running) and some people have a ton of purses or whatever it is they collect. I happen to collect running attire.

Here's how I look at it: picking what I'm going to wear to run helps me get in the right mind set for my run.

On Tuesday, I got to do 8x1’ intervals @ 7:45 pace. I was going to wear a plain black skirt and at the last minute decided to wear my pink, plaid skirt. Why? Because I wanted to be strong on the run and the plaid reminds me of Highland Warriors. I felt like I was dressing for battle and it put me in the mind set to run hard and I did those intervals @ a 7:30 pace!

Yesterday's run was supposed to be easy so I put on a blue skirt that I like a lot. It's a little more snug than my others and it tends to ride up if I push too hard or if my stride lengthens but it's fine if I go easy. So I put that skirt on and it reminded me not to go hard.

On Saturday, I will wear my Athleta skirt for my 19 miler. It has 5 pockets! 2 in the front, 3 in the back (one zippered). It's my long run skirt and I when I put that on, I know I'm going to be running for a while. I can store food, my id, money, S-Caps, keys and still have room for things I start with but don't need as it gets lighter/warmer (gloves, running light, etc.). It makes me feel prepared and ready for anything out there. It's my adventure skirt. Kind of like Indy's Fedora. When he puts that his hat on, you know fun is about to happen. Same with my skirt!

Color works the same way for me. When I ran those back-to-back half marathons in April, I consciously chose to wear black & white the first day (the planned buy-the-book easy long run) and orange on Sunday (the day I raced and won!) because orange is a fast color (red is too!) and I wanted to give my body/mind the okay sign to run fast. For me, green is a lucky color and that's what I plan to wear a green top and socks for the Santa Rosa Marathon when I go for my 4 hour goal.

Most of the time though, I choose wild colors when I want to be seen. Whether it's by cars (I have an outfit that's green & pink that I call my watermelon outfit…no car is going to miss seeing me in that!) or spectators. I learned during the Lost Dutchman Marathon that your outfit can get you a lot of attention and a lot of support that you might not have had otherwise. When you are at mile 24 or 25 and starting to drag, that extra cheering goes a long way!

One of my coworkers told me today that they recognize me on my morning runs in the dark by my outfits. So be it! I’d rather be me and have my own style then look like one of the crowd. I don't wear cycling club kits because I don’t want to look like everyone else, so why do it on the run?

So yeah, I wear skirts! I wear pink! I wear whatever I think will help me get the most out of the run I have planned for the day. It doesn't mean I'm taking my runs any less seriously than someone in a shirt and shorts. It just means I want to have fun. Isn't that why we run in the first place?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Duck in a Shooting Gallery

"You're going to rock this marathon :) I hope you're shooting for sub-4!"
That’s a note I got in an email from my coach, Jason, after I gave him the scoop on my 5K. I have to say that it made me smile. If you saw this post back in May, you’d know that my A+ goal, my dream goal, was 4hrs for the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon. My more realistic goal for it was 4:10 and that's what I was shooting for. Of course, the marathon didn't happen so it’s a moo point (Sorry, threw in a little Joey/Friends reference there).

When I plugged in the 5K time to the McMillan calculator, it came up with 4:02 and change. And I know I didn't run that 5K all out so I feel like I'm on target to hit that 4 hr goal. Not easily, of course. But I feel like I'm capable of it now and I plan on only getting stronger and faster in the next few weeks. I know Jason has some very, very interesting workouts planned for me. I hope I don't regret telling him I live in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains!

The Santa Rosa Marathon is just a little over 6 weeks away and I am already getting excited about it. I'm just heading in to my favorite part of marathon training: the long runs. Anything 17 and over makes me a happy runner girl. 15/16 are good runs, pleasant runs but longer ones make me feel like Wonder Woman. :)

I am going to say right now that my A goal for the Santa Rosa Marathon is 4 hrs. That’s what I’m doing my training runs based on (as far as pace/time per the McMillan calc for around a 3:55/4 hr finish).

My A+ goal? I'm going to leave that up in the air for now and throw that out there as I get closer. Right now, my A+ goal is like a duck in a shooting gallery and it's just waiting for me to shoot it down. And that, my friends, is a total kick. Seeing that A+ goal time lowering is a wonderful validation of the work you've been doing. That ability to see your progress is one of the things I love most about running.

One more quote…
"It is the illusion that we can go no faster that holds us back." ~Kenny Moore, American athlete and journalist

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom 5000 Recap

I had never done a 4th of July run before and when I found out I was going to be in town and I had no plans for the morning, I decided to sign up for the Freedom 5000 in Claremont, CA. I asked Jason what he thought about me racing it and we decided it was too soon after the Seattle Rock & Roll (and my 15 miler on Saturday) to race it all out. We decided I would treat it like a tempo run (8:15-8:30 miles). That was the plan anyway. My last 5K was in April 2009 and I finished it in 51:31. So, I was pretty sure I would get a PR during this. Barring a major mishap, of course.

I picked up my bib at Memorial Park on Saturday and I saw that people had already staked out their spots for the parade. I figured that parking would be a hard to come by in the morning so I decided to ride my bike over. Not only would it be better parking wise, but it would help me warm up for the race. And maybe tire me out a little so I wouldn't be tempted to race all out.

I woke up at 5 and ate my favorite breakfast (orange juice, a banana, and yogurt & grapenuts) then got ready for my race. I left my apartment at 6:30. It was only 9 miles over to the park but I wanted to get there early to watch the 1K fun run and then do a good warm up. I got there in plenty of time and locked up my bike & helmet and headed over to the start.

The kids were a riot. So much energy and enthusiasm. The cutest was this little guy who stopped in the middle of the street to inspect a man whole cover w/ his father lamenting about how he’d lost focus. Not often a kid gets to play in the street and he took full advantage of it. Good for him. :) After the kids headed out, I did a standard warm up and then ran a mile to get the legs ready to roll. Then it was 8 (and warm!) and time run!

This wasn't a chipped race so when the gun went off, I was a little confused about where the start line was. After a few seconds I hit start on my Garmin and moved out with the crowd of 1,352 (1,088 runners and 264 walkers). It was a mess at the start but eventually, I got into some open room and settled in. They were calling out our splits at each mile and at mile 1 my split was at 8:30 which was about where I should be. The next mile had a lot of downhill and I was feeling great. As I went by, they called out my split – 15:58. Oops, too fast! I remember thinking “I’m going to be in trouble with Jason!”. But the last mile had a little uphill so I figured I would naturally slow down a little. Everything still felt good. I was a little hot but I knew it would be over soon so just kept going. Then we rounded the corner for the last .1 and I saw a woman in front of me. I thought to myself “She looks like she’s in my age group, reel her in.” So I picked it up and did just that. Crossed the line in 24:59. Done! And a PR. A little faster than expected but a good, solid effort and my tempo run for the week!

Later when I checked the results, I saw that the woman I’d passed WAS in my age group. Ha! That finishing kick was well worth it! So here are the stats: 4/51 for my age group, 48/552 for women, and 223/1088 overall. Not a bad way to spend the 4th of July. I think I’m going to have to do this more often.

I finally rode home about 10 am and it was dang hot by then. Still, rather ride than drive. And anyway, it made eating 4th of July food much less of a guilty pleasure. :)

Hope you all had a fantastic 4th of July!