Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Teacher Appreciation Week Attacks

Recently, very recently, I began eating better. My diet used to consist of twinkies, Oreos & assorted fast foods. I really can't call it unhealthy eating because I didn't know any better, and most importantly (to me at the time) I felt fine. At least I thought so.

Plus, eating better means no junk food in the apartment ready to be devoured. If it was readily available, I'm sure I'd resort to my old junk food habit. It's kinda disgusting when I think about it now.

Fast forward about 2.5 months, and now I know what eating & feeling better is like. Since substituting more of a plant-based diet for the twinkies, cookies & assorted processed fast food, I've noticed a change in my running. I'm sure it's had a better impact in other areas but especially my running.

I've also noticed that I really don't crave junk food very much anymore. Who woulda thunk it. Well, I have woken up in the middle of the night looking for junk food and've discovered none. The biggest surprise has been that I go back to bed and not to the nearest convenience store. I used to call it midnight snacking.

Last week was teacher appreciation week, and our school had sweets everyday & every period. What did I do? I indulged. Big time. I had cake, cookies, more cake. This was the case for 5 straight days from 8:30a-4pm. So, yes, I fell off the wagon.

Just yesterday, I made a connection: all of last week I was sluggish & had several terrible lack-of-energy workouts. I thought I was just having an "off" day, but I think the junk food did me in.

I learned my lesson.

Lack-of-energy workouts suck.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pandora's Box Of Rox - Race Report

Leading up to Pandora's Marathon, we'd decided to camp out. Having always stayed somewhere the night before a tejas trails event, this'd be new, and I was looking forward to it.

We got there around 11pm and suddenly realized how cold it was. Fortunately, we set up our tent in record time. We stayed up for a bit trying to stay warm. It was so cold that I decided to park my car inches from the tent - in the hopes that the heat from the engine would provide some heat. That didn't work out too well. Apologies for Tim Smith & co. for being kinda loud and waking them up.

I woke up freezing at 5am. I decided to thaw out in the car since I was already sore from sleeping on the floor (next time, I'm getting a pad of some sort). Btw, my car's thermometer said it was 37 degrees. 37 degrees!!!

I quickly changed and ended up napping on/off until I heard Joe P's distant voice saying "3 minutes...3 minutes...". We ran to the start line, I lined up towards the front. Not too close to the front, but pretty close. I always start questioning myself when lining up for races...do I belong close to the front? should I line up towards the middle? the back? Argh!!! I don't have to tell you I tend to overthink things.

I'd decided earlier in the week to run w/o a handheld since the weather was going to be pretty mild. This was the only thing that made me nervous. I felt pretty comfortable about my fitness level, the rocky terrain, etc. This race was supposed to be a gauge for how much I'd improved or not since I'd decided very recently to get a little more serious about my running.

Loop 1: I started pretty quick - on purpose. I was going to go out at a somewhat (for me) aggressive pace. Other than my fingers freezing, I felt well. Having run this course once before (at night), I'd forgotten how rocky & treacherous this course was. I rolled my ankle several times and my achille's heel was burning from miles 3-7ish. I forced myself to drink a cup of gatorade and water and have a 1/4 of orange at each aid station. Overall, this loop was pretty swift. Despite rolling my ankle several times and having a serious upset stomach, I finished it in 2:02ish.

Observations from Loop 1 - I didn't regret starting w/o any hydration. My ankles were on fire from a couple really nasty twists...and I regret having tried something new to eat the night before.

Loop 2: As I came in from loop 1, I ran directly to the restroom. 3 minutes later, I started loop 2. My plan was to not waste any time in between loops and at the aid stations. So far so good. At around mile 16, I rolled my ankle again. This time, I had to walk. I walked for what seemed like a couple miles. It was pretty painful, and I considered calling it a day. After taking a couple aspirin, the pain went away, and I was able to continue running. I caught up to my friends (Carlos, Alex & Billy) several miles later and began running w/ them. I think I was beginning to fatigue because I kept tripping so many times. They were all close calls, but I managed to not fall. I, finally, reached the last aid station and knew there was only about 1.7 miles left. I tried to finish strong, but it was starting to warm up a bit, and I could feel it affecting me. Luckliy, it was over pretty soon afterwards.

I ended up finishing in 4:35.

Observations from Loop 2 - My ankles took a beating from all the rollings/twists. I only regretted not using some sort of hydration the last couple miles. Perhaps I'm justifying it to myself, but I know I would've used a handheld or my hydration vest if it was a little longer distance...I think.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my running. For the longest time, my average ROAD marathon finish time was 4:30ish. The fact that I ran a 4:35 considering the terrain, has me feeling pretty good going into my next race (whichever that will be).

I'm also considering the unthinkable - switching to INOV8 shoes. I thought I'd never quit my Hokas, but several people think that they may be responsible for the increased ankle twists. Although, I feel I've become faster (thanks to my Hokas), I'm open minded and am willing to be unfaithful to them.

- Picures courtesy of Jackie Dove -

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why Trail Running Rules...

I recently had quite a bit of time of my hands and started thinking about how more peeps should be trail running. I get it...I get it...you may like running road, but it doesn't mean I can't try to convince you otherwise.

So I started percolating about some of the reasons I've heard runners say why they can't (or won't) run trails...

Myth #1: I'm gonna twist an ankle.

The reality is that you could twist an ankle no matter where you run - the sidewalk, the track, the street, etc. As a matter of fact, you could, really, twist your ankle walking to your kitchen. I know. I've been trail running for about 3 years and have only twisted/rolled my ankle once or twice.

Myth #2: I'll need trail shoes.

I've only purchased trail shoes once. I think I've run about 10 trail ultras ranging in distance from 30k to 100 miles, and each 1 was run in regular road shoes. In my opinion, you can run just about any trail run/race in road shoes. Spare yourself the expense, I say, and just run.

Myth #3: I'll need special/more trail clothing.

You'll actually need less clothes.

Myth #4: I have bad knees.

I think (depending on the trail, of course), that a runner would benefit from the softer surface of trails. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that dirt is softer than pavement/road...wait...

So there you go...like you needed a reason to run trail.