Monday, July 30, 2012

An exploration of CrossFit

I know you have all heard of CrossFit, who hasn't. It seems like it's all the rage these days. Several months ago I happened upon a Groupon for my local CrossFit, knowing that strength training is one of the areas that I tend to slack off in, I thought I would give it a shot. Plus, how could I resist $49 for 20 classes.

Along came 1/2 Marathon training and it didn't seem like a great idea to explore CrossFit while training for a 1/2 and next came my first duathlon, well you get the point. There was also the tiny mention from my PT that I should be really careful with CrossFit as she see's a lot of people who come in with injuries from it. With the expiration date looming on my Groupon I realized that it was now or never.

I attended my first LCF 1 (Lamorinda CrossFit Fundamentals) yesterday. This eased my mine of any injuries as there are two mandatory classes that break down each workout they do with proper form and technique. I tried not to roll my eyes too many times as the instructor commented on Marathon Runners not being "fit" but he also commented on Body Builders not being "fit". He went on to discuss that CrossFitters are fit because of the many disciplines they focus on. He then launched into the Paleo Diet where once again I tried not to roll my eyes. I know enough about Paleo to know that it's not an option for me. I have had much success with making slight changes such as eating whole grains and incorporating more fruits and vegetables. I also found that eating from the the Food Zone Cookbook was ideal for training and everyday eating. While Paleo may work others, I'm not interested in it and I would prefer to not have it shoved down my throat.

I'll be honest, I felt more comfortable when we moved into the workouts and stopped talking. We walked through a squat and I am, proud to say I was told I had the best squat! I owe this of course to my PT who has made me do squats with the TRX. I no longer hate squats which is a good thing since he made me do 40 of them later. We continued to move through several things to assure we had proper form including dead weight lifting (really, who wants to do that shit?) I was feeling pretty comfortable with every thing and was relieved that I may not "die" after all. Oh, but wait, we still have the days workout to do.

The newbie workout consisted of a 400 m run, 40 squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups and 10 pull-ups, timed. Okay, we headed out on the run which was all downhill and of course all uphill on the return. No worries, I nailed it and came in right behind the only male in the group. A little out of breath I launched into my 40 squats. Strangely, the squats were not as bad as I thought they would be (again, must thank my PT) I was the first one done and moved into the sit-ups. which again were strangely easier than I would have thought. I finished my sit-ups and got up to start push-ups and that's when I hit the wall, hard. I got 5 push-ups in (at least I can say I was doing real push-ups and not modified ones) and collapsed. Pulled myself back up and somehow eeked out another 15. I could tell that my heart rate was too high, like really too high. I stood up and was dizzy. I walked over to the block for pull-ups. We had been given modified pull-ups since myself and the other woman can't do a pull-up. All we had to do was jump up to pull myself over the bar 10 times. This was an easy enough task except for the fact that I was crazy light headed. I took some time to recover and got them done. Then I proceeded to sit down while I tried not to puke/pass out. After a few minutes the instructor commented that the color was returning to my face, AWESOME! While, not what I hoped for I did get a good workout in. I'm certain that I was over confident and that had I actually slowed down my pace I probably could have gotten through everything without the horrid feeling at the end. There have been times where I have pushed my self hard at the end of the race and had that "going to puke" moment but never to this level where it lasted as long as it did. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing.

I did eventually recover and while I'm sore today, I can walk and get around my day with out too much discomfort. Of course I'll go back, I have a Groupon after all for 20 sessions. Would I go back if I didn't? Not sure yet. I'm not convinced that CrossFit is right for me but I'll give it a chance to prove me wrong.

I need to schedule an LCF 2 session, which is going to be difficult to do based on when it's offered and my schedule. I will get it done though and continue to blog about my journey into the world of CrossFit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh the horror!

You know what I'm talking about, when you learn your favorite running shoe has a redesign and and a new number after it. I often wonder why shoe makers do this to us, after all, we searched high and low and finally found a great shoe to run in. Then you go and change it on us? Mild panic set in when when Saucony announced a newer lighter version of the Hurricane, so many people are jumping on the minimal bandwagon that I'm seeing a lot of companies making an effort to make their shoes lighter. Really, I'm okay. I have earned a PR in every distance this year in my Hurricane 13's, I don't think a lighter shoe is going to make me run faster (I'm not a pro!).

I held out hope and with 80 miles left on my 13's I ordered the 14's and gave them a try. Right out of the box they seemed wrong. I was sure they had sent me wide shoes. They looked huge in comparison to my 13's. There are also new laces, they are stretchy, not sure how I feel about this. I slipped my arch supports in them and laced them up. They didn't feel as snug around the top of my foot and sides but I headed to the gym to try them out on the treadmill. I felt some shin pain immediately, I tried to chalk that up to the run I missed over the weekend and that my legs were just unhappy with the investments in swimming and biking and lack of running. I had a 30 minute run and my arch didn't feel too happy but I managed to get through it. My thought was, these aren't great but I should give them another try before I give up hope. Then it came, the arch pain. For two whole days, arch pain in just everyday activities. This is when I gave up on them. I'm a firm believer that running shoes do not need to be broken in. If they are causing you pain, it won't get better and we all know I don't need another injury this year.

While I mourned the loss of my beloved hurricane's I now had the task of finding a new shoe. Some of my non-running friends surely don't understand this anguish. Running shoes are complicated. I over-pronate and I need arch support. I wear inserts for the arch support so I just really need to find a shoe with good stability. I also am a freak of nature and have an extra bone in each ankle. It's the navicular bone and while it sounds freaky that I have two it's not really a big deal. There is a possibility with that combined with my collapsing arches that this may have lead to my posterior tibial tendinitis earlier this year. Other than that the most annoying side affect of these is finding shoes that don't rub the extra bone and cause blistering. My other issue is that I border on a narrow foot. I wear a normal width shoe but I really need a shoe design that borders narrow.

I did a bunch of online research yesterday and narrowed it down to three shoes I wanted to try.

Asics GT 2170
Mizuno Wave Inspire 8
Brooks Ravenna 3

I gathered my boxes of shoes and threw in the Saucony Guide's as a last ditch hope at remaining true to Sacuony, because they have served me well for so many years.

Ready to tackle the mountain of shoes! 
The Mizuno's were cute and I could tell that they were already narrower than the new Hurricane's. 1 point for the Mizuno's. I did my best to try and run in the store (yes I was the freak running around in the shoe department today). The only problem was they felt a little stiff and they were just barely rubbing that navicular bone.

I pulled the Saucony Guide's out and in all honestly they felt just like the Hurricane's in reference to being too wide and not enough support in the sides or upper portion of the shoe.

Next up were the Brooks Ravenna 3. I must admit, these were cute.

I love Turquoise! 

These hadn't been my top choice coming in, but these felt good on. I didn't even feel like I needed my arch support, but I tried slipping one in and it was hard to notice the difference between the two. They felt like they were made for my feet. There was a Cinderella and the glass slipper moment. I was hesitant though because a friend who also wears Hurricane's had mentioned that another friend had experienced some issues with Brooks shoes.

Last I pulled out the Asics. They felt okay, but I just didn't feel a connection with them. (Yes, this is like wedding dress shopping). I felt like they would work but they just did not feel as good as the Brooks had.

Just to be sure I decided to try the Brooks and the Mizuno at the same time.

Yes, I ran threw the store like this

No comparison the Brooks Ravenna was just pure heaven. Much to my surprise they are also light. I've been shying away from a lighter shoe because I wasn't sure it would give me what I needed, but it sure felt good.

After coming home I read up on some more reviews and it seems this shoe used to be a neutral running shoe and now fills the gap for somewhere between neutral and over-pronating. Most people seem really happy but do say that it wears out quickly. My Hurricane's would wear out around 200 miles so I'm not too worried about that. Plus, I'll happily replace a pair of shoes more often if they keep me pain and injury free and running happy.

Obviously, I haven't run with them yet, in fact I don't even have them yet! Thankfully the Hurricane's were purchased from a retailer that allows an exchange even if you have worn them, so I'll need to wait for my exchange to be processed but I'm anxious to really try these out and let you know how they work out. I'm very hopeful that they will be a great option for me.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ignite Naturals Energy Gel

A little while ago I heard about Ignite Naturals and that they were giving away sample gels to try their products so I ordered some. I've always been happy with Gu gel's but I figured I would give something a try that was all natural and I was curious about the main ingredient of fig paste and what it has to offer nutritionally.

Since my training has shifted from long runs to multi-sport and short distances I figured I would try it out on the bike. I picked a day when I was riding the trainer for about an hour and figured it would be easy enough to consume a gel while on the trainer versus out on the road. My first thought was it didn't taste awesome, but it didn't seem too terrible. Then came the aftertaste. It's hard to explain but it left a displeasing taste in my mouth. I kept trying to take it in and found that it tasted overly sweet, like they were trying o cover up the taste with natural sugars. Ultimately I wasn't able to consume the entire gel so I wasn't really able to gauge the level of energy or success of the product when it comes to sports related nutrition.

I think they are on the right track with what they are trying to accomplish but I think they need to do some reevaluating of the flavors.

For now I'll stick with Gu but I'm always open to trying something new especially any natural products that make their way to the marketplace.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Moraga 4th of July Run

I LOVE the Moraga 4th of July Run. We have participated for several years now and it's always so much fun. This year we were tasked with a tough decision as both kids were invited to be in the Orinda parade; Kylie with her school and Sydney with her swim team. We left the decision up to Sydney and she decided to ride in the parade since she had never been in one before. This left me slightly sad as I really wanted to run and needed to run. We worked out the numbers and figured out if I ran the 2 mile course I would have enough time to run, finish and meet the family at the BART station for staging of the parade.

On Wednesday morning, I snuck out of the house before anyone was awake and headed to Moraga. I watched the kids races and began to stretch. Right before the line-up I spotted my friend Stephanie who had come out to cheer me on. It wasn't until she pointed out that there were no chips, that I realized we wouldn't be chip timed this year. Last year was the first time we were chip timed for this race and the website said it would be chipped time, but no chips. Oh well, I had my Garmin and just really wanted a course PR.

I lined up close to the front because I was going to start my watch at the horn not when I crossed the start. Then we were off and holy smokes these people were running fast! Right, it's hosted by the HS Track team. I kept trying to slow down, looked at my watch and saw I running an 8 minute mile, I kept trying to slow down, still running an 8 minute mile. Let lots of people pass me and finally settled into a somewhere in the 9's minute mile. I ran without music because I didn't want to bring anything and I was after all only running 2 miles! I felt good was enjoying myself and was hoping to hold the pace after I hit the 1 mile mark. My pace was slower than the first mile but that's because I started off too fast so I tried not to worry about it since I knew I was on track for a course PR. My best time was 20:01 in 2009, of course it wasn't chip timed that year and I'm pretty sure I ran it slower than that based on my watch time, but that was the time I wanted to beat. As we rounded onto School Street I was hurting but was picking up my pace and passed 4 or 5 guys on my way to the finish. I had my sites on a woman who had passed me early on and I wasn't sure if I had enough time to catch her. I was prepping to start my sprint and then I looked ahead and mentally said "What the hell???" There was a line, right at the finish line, they were yelling 2 milers, stay to your right, stay in line! I had to run to the left just to cross the chalk line and then get back in line. As I got back in line I looked at the race clock which said 19:10, oh yeah, stop my watch which said 19:39 by the time I stopped it. Meanwhile, I'm about to puke because I had to stop abruptly and wasn't allowed to walk or cool off but just stand in a line that was not moving! Meanwhile, Stephanie's waiting at the end of the dysfunction laughing at the chaos. They finally write my number down and I think that's it, I can go. Oh no, stay in line we are collecting your tear off portion of your bib. Really? I doubt this how they run their track and field events.

While I had a great run and a great time. I am a little bummed that I have no idea what my actual race time was. Official results were posted on Saturday and while I'm not listed in overall results, they show my age group results as being 19:54. I know that's not accurate and I know there is no way to get an accurate time without a chip. Normally I would have no problem relying on my Garmin time, but I know I stopped that late in all of the confusion at the finish line.

My best guess is that my race time was somewhere between 19:10 and 19:39. Anyone of the three times is a course PR, 19:10 would be a 2 mile PR overall. I'm trying not to worry too much since it was after all a "Fun Run". But I do like having accurate numbers to run against next time. Oh well.

I made it just in time to walk with the girl's in the parade and they had a blast. Kylie rode her tricycle the entire way (about a mile) and Sydney rode her scooter the entire way as well. That combined with staying up late for fireworks and our kids were DONE!

Hope everyone had an awesome 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Halfway through the year

How is it that it is July already? I've been in a rut lately, my guess is because I accomplished so much the first part of the year and that just coasting along this summer is difficult for me. It's hard to be a faux single parent. That's what it feels like most days since my husband commutes to Sacramento everyday and on his days off there are an endless list of projects that he feels the need to work on. Let's just say that there hasn't been a day for just me in weeks, possibly even a month or more. While my girls are awesome the 4 year old is seriously testing her Mother's patience and she is winning the battle. 

I thought it might be fun and maybe make me feel better to take a peak at how exactly the year has shaped up thus far. 

10,166 yards 

350.17 miles

223.35 miles

28.74 miles 

It's interesting to see those numbers since I don't really look at accumulative miles. I'm sure it will be really cool to see those numbers at the end of the year. 

I continue to just try and get all of my workouts in. I can't say I'm enjoying it all that much, but I know it's because I'm struggling with just getting them in and I hate working out at night. I'm hopeful that once the kids are back in school and I have some of my "time" back I'll start to enjoy them again.