Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm a Spinning Machine + Trying New Shoes

My last run was at the Fit Foodie 5k on Saturday because I am trying to be a really good girl and rest this hamstring. I've been a spinning machine and I'm sure by the end of the week I will be so over riding an indoor bike that goes nowhere.  I love spinning, don't get me wrong, but 5 days a week is a bit much for me. It is all in the name of being able to run again.

My new home away from home

Tonight I am headed over to my favorite local running shop (after spin class, of course) and I am going to have a gait analysis done.  I'm kind of itching to try a new shoe.  The Brooks Ghosts have been my tried and true shoe since the beginning of time and every time I switch, I regret it but I just feel like there must be a shoe out there that won't result in bloody feet after every race.  Right!? 

The Currex insoles have been a lifesaver in every way and I've had ZERO plantar fascia issues since using them. My hope is that as long as I put those suckers in a new shoe, I will be golden as far as injury goes.  Fingers crossed.

My foot profile is as follows:

  • I have a super high arch
  • I am an underpronator (meaning my feel roll outward when running)
  • I land on my forefoot 
  • I am prone to Plantar Fasciitis
So I am looking for the perfect shoe to work with all of those things.  Wish me luck!

milestone - my fave running shop

And on a side note, can you believe Thanksgiving is NEXT week already? Since I don't have family here, I will be serving some seniors a turkey dinner and will possibly meet up with some friends. I try to keep busy on these days so I don't miss the fam too much. :) 

What is your all-time favorite shoe?

T-Day plans?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fit Foodie Weekend Extravaganza!

This weekend was all my favorite things packed into just a few days -- running, yoga, food and there were cocktails but I missed those. 

I don’t usually run 5ks because quite honestly, I think they’re really hard!  Those 3.1 miles feel like an eternity because you have to push hard the entire time.  There is no getting comfortable like in a marathon.  The race was down at the Hilton Bayfront which is less than one block from my gym and less than a mile from my friend Teresa’s condo where I was staying this weekend so it couldn't have been more convenient.  The course was pretty like most San Diego courses and very familiar as I usually do my long runs on that very path. 

Nicole from Fitness Fatale was the winner of one of my race entries so we finally got to meet after a long time of blog following.  I didn’t start at the front of the pack because I was a little late getting to the starting area so I wasn’t able to run with her, but I saw her come flying by after one of the turn around points and she looked great!  She ended up getting a PR!  It was so fun to finally chat with her in person since I have been following her CIM training religiously and just know she is going to do amazing.  It is exciting to watch people work hard for a goal and then kick ass on race day – which I am already foreshadowing.
Fitness Fatale meets SoCal Runner Gal - finally!

I didn’t even wear my timing chip because I knew I wasn’t racing the 5k so I don’t have a clue what my finish time was but I am pretty sure it was a high 21, likely 21:59.  :)  After finishing, I also got to meet Ashleigh, London and Andy – all top notch San Diego bloggers.  Sure enough, they’re all fabulous in person too.  

I mean, honestly, I can't even believe I posted this photo because I have never seen a worse photo of myself -- but everyone else looks beautiful and by posting it I probably earned some major selfless karma points.

The finisher’s village was just insane, in the best way.  They provided the best swag I’ve ever seen at a race. Great food, massages, full size bottles of Suja juice and Sambazon and almond milk lattes.  It was just ridiculous.  There were cooking demos with celebrity chefs – when I was there it was a guy from Bravo’s ‘Below the Deck.’  The entire race was very well organized and the freebies were unbeatable.

cooking demo at the finisher's village

Sunday was yoga and brunch which I was most looking forward to.  Kristin McGee taught the class and she is just lovely in every way.  I met some really nice women beforehand and sat with some cool chicks who work for the LaceUp Running Series at brunch.  I find it very easy to get along with women who are into fitness and food. There is never a shortage of conversation.  Again, the freebies were ridiculous and I stocked up on some seriously great stuff.  Brunch was light and healthy and the location was gorgeous with views of the water. 

kristin mcgee

I had so much fun this past weekend and I would do it again in a heartbeat! Thank you, Fit Foodie, for letting me be an ambassador for this fabulously fun and fit weekend.  

How was your weekend?

Does this sound like a weekend you'd be into?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How I Deal With Stress... Starting TODAY!

This week sucks.  Can I say that without you thinking I'm the most negative person ever?  I swear I am not -- this week has just been a rough one. There are some major life changes looming in the very near future and a whole lot of uncertainty. I don't deal well with stress which is why today at our staff meeting I decided to go to town on a huge piece of chocolate cake. I am so thankful to my boss who said "Kate. Throw it away. It's not even that good" because he knew I was just going to be angry with myself and feel sick if I ate it all.  I always appreciate honesty AND he saved me like 200 extra calories.

The stress is also causing me to break out like WHOA which has now led me to explore alternative diets to deal with skin issues.  My friend Rebecca sent me a copy of the e-book Skintervention so I am diving into that at the moment.  I must say, the Paleo way of eating stresses me out because it feels so different from how I eat now. Since it's something very new I feel like it would require a lot of thought and I would need a coach to help me learn the way.  I actually know one and her name is January but every time I think about doing her sugar detox, something always comes up and stops me from committing.  But if you're interested in that sort of thing, she's amazing and has quite literally changed many lives.  Check her out!  {Sorry for going on a little tangent there!}

Usually when I am stressed I take it out on the pavement.  I run my heart out and basically sweat the stress away.  But I am still in recovery mode from my marathon 10 days ago and trying not to exacerbate this lingering hamstring issue.

So, how am I dealing with big life changes and uncertainty??

Excellent question! 

The answer is: I'm not.  I'm losing my mind.  So I will lay out some alternatives to dealing with stress that don't involve long distance running. I vow to start doing at least one of these a day until my life returns to normal.  It might be awhile, folks...

  1. Journal.  I know from experience that this one works! Writing it all out is a huge release and by the time you're done scribbling, you're usually calmer and more rational about the situation.
  2. Practice Yoga.  Yoga is known for its ability to calm the mind and ease tension.  Leave it all on the mat.
  3. Talk to friends.  Last night I forced myself out of hibernation mode to hang out with one of my best friends over a glass of wine. We chatted, laughed and by the time I left I felt like maybe (just maybe) the world wasn't ending. That's what friends are for - truly.
  4. Get lost in a book.  If the stress is too overwhelming it can be impossible to focus and read, but I've found that if I shut out all distractions I can lose myself in a book and forget about my problems for the time being rather than obsess over them.
  5. Take the dog for a walk.  My dog is ecstatic when we go on walks and that happiness is contagious. How can you not be happy when your pup is thrilled to be out on a walk with you? If you don't have a dog, it's okay. Walking alone is nice too. :)
So there you have it -- Some stress relief tips and tricks that I know work well yet I don't use nearly enough.  Today, I choose to journal.  I am headed off to spin class and I will journal with a cup of tea tonight.  :) 

How do you deal with stress? 

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 Tips for Running Your Best Marathon

I have now run 5 marathons - which is nothing compared to many other marathon runners - but for me and my body, it's a whole lot.  Marathon #1 was a BQ and my PR until New York just a week ago.  That isn't typical. Usually you get faster, not slower, especially at my age.  I decided to go back to basics for this last race and I did everything exactly as I had for my first marathon. I went on to run a 3:29 and qualified for Boston again!  It is so very clear to me now what works and what doesn't.

We are all very different so I am not suggesting one size fits all.  Some people can handle way more mileage, more speedwork, less rest, fewer carbs, etc. but I know what works for me and what provides me with the right amount of endurance, energy and strength to be able to run consistently over 26.2 miles and finish strong.  

1.) Replace one run each week with cross-training.  If you're prone to injury (like me), swap out one run with some other type of low impact cardiovascular activity.  I prefer spinning but the elliptical and swimming are also great options. This allows you to build endurance while minimizing the risk of injury.

2.) Run slow to run fast. This one sounds counter intuitive but I promise it works. I watch fellow runners do all their training runs way faster than me and come race day, they run 30+ minutes slower than me. I am a firm believer in running easy most days of the week. With the exception of speed work and tempo runs, runs should be comfortable and about a full minute per mile slower than race pace. 

3.) Don't fear sugar.  Sugar gets a really bad rap and rightfully so, but when it comes to marathon training and racing it is actually very beneficial. Use it to your advantage. "Dozens and dozens of studies have demonstrated that supplementing your body’s supply of glucose/glycogen with glucose, fructose, and other simple sugars that are easily converted to glucose during exercise enhances performance in workouts and races lasting longer than an hour" according to Competitor. I prefer gels and sports drinks on long runs and throughout a marathon.  I can usually only stomach about 2 gels in an entire marathon but I take them in slowly and I also supplement with sports drinks at every other aid station. Cutting out sugar in your everyday life is a great choice but embracing it on long runs and race day can make a huge difference in performance.

4.) Taper.  Like a lot.  As crazy runners we find it incredibly difficult to cut down on mileage but I am here to tell you it is critical. I typically taper for 3 weeks before a marathon but this last time around I was forced to taper a full 4 weeks and guess what-- I still ran faster than my goal pace!  When people say "the hay is in the barn" it is absolutely true.  Your training is done and any running done in those last few weeks will not make you faster or increase your endurance. Rest! 

5.) Ditch the tunes and tune into your body.  I've run my fastest marathons without music. Coincidence? Definitely not.  While I train with music 100% of the time, I find that on race day it is a distraction.  Ditching the music allows you to completely tune into your body.  This will help you avoid going out too fast which is one of the biggest mistakes marathon runners make.  You will be able to run by feel and focus on your breathing instead of allowing your pace to be determined by the tempo of a song.  Music hinders you from focusing on your breath and exertion and it can also make it harder to have those important mental conversations with yourself. 

Do you agree or disagree with these?

What would you add to the list?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Name is Kate + I'm a Runaholic.

I think I am suffering from the post-marathon blues and to be completely honest, I’ve been downright sad this week. I find it hard to transition from my routine of running and training with such focus to …just life.  I love working towards a goal. I love challenging myself.  I love the feelings of euphoria that are the hard-earned product of a great sweat session.  At the same time, I love the easy, carefree runs that require no agenda.  I just love to run. Period.

This morning I came to the conclusion that I may truly be addicted to running. The word “addiction” comes with such great stigma that I’m sure most runners would hesitate to say they are addicted.  It's likely that most runners aren’t actually addicted but I’m sure there are many out there like me.  The ones who become down when they can't run and who experience the blues when running is taken away from them and those who physically crave it.

I serendipitously came across this beautifully written article “Running: Just another addiction?” that confirmed I am not alone. I found myself silently saying “Yes!  Yes! Yes!”  as I read her words.  Here are a couple excerpts that resonated with me:

"It is in the search to live meaningfully, to experience life at its fullest, that running has become my sweetest addiction and one that I hope to never quit."

Running has dragged me out of the darkest, lowest, unhappiest places and has taken me somewhere beautiful.  Running has exposed parts of me that I didn't know existed.   Parts of me I can be proud of.  Running has taught me to respect my body and honor it.  Yes, I put it through a lot with marathoning but it only makes me stronger and happier.  I used to beat my body up in other ways that weren't healthy or kind.  I, like the author, hope to never quit. 

"It is a very different addiction than one that leads to a path of self-destruction. As long as you maintain a strong balance and always refer to your heart for guidance, this addiction is a good thing. This addiction leads to happiness and freedom. My running addiction is an expression of my love of life."

Running has also made me love and appreciate life far more than I ever did before.  I have a very addictive personality and it can quickly become self-destructive. I have to be mindful.  Addiction runs in my blood and I come from a long line of addicts so it’s not surprising that I took to running so quickly and fell in love with marathons. But like she says, running is not self-destructive (for most).  It is the opposite. Running has essentially constructed me into the person I am today, and holy cow, I couldn't be more grateful. It has saved me.

I think I am genuinely experiencing some withdrawal symptoms from not running at all this week and I am itching to get back out there.  Luckily, over the years I’ve grown wiser and I know that my body needs to recover. It isn't an option – it’s mandatory.  If I want to keep doing the very thing that breathes life into me, I need to rest.  This is also the way I maintain a healthy addiction to running.

My mom commented on this saying If you're going to be addicted to something it may as well be something that's good for you!" and I couldn't agree more.

today, we walked.

I’m sure there are a lot of varied opinions on this subject.  Weigh in!

What are your thoughts?  

Are you a running addict? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

NYC Marathon Race Recap | Best. Race. Ever.

Wow, where do I begin? I can't believe it's all over and here I am back in San Diego.  Before I say anything about the race I need to give a HUGE thank you to the peeps at Airbnb who sponsored me and chose me for their team!  I know how hard it is to get into the NYC Marathon and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance.  Everyone who works there is just ridiculously amazing.  I think it's a pre-requisite to be super cool to get hired at Airbnb.  THANK YOU times a million for the most amazing race experience of my life.

Now we can cut to the chase in case you didn't see my Instagram post:


Warning: This is going to be a LONG post and I will still manage to forget some very important details. I'm all over the place right now but wanted to write while it's still fresh.  I won't be offended if you just checked in to see my finish time. :)  Happy Monday!

If you want to read about how everything went in NYC before the race, I wrote about it here. Basically everything went very smoothly leading up to the marathon unlike Boston which was a total mess.

I popped out of bed at 4:30 AM (1:30 AM my time - yikes!) on race morning and was greeted with an e-mail from the New York Road Runners association regarding the wind. I thought I must have jynxed myself after all the raving I did about how perfect everything was. They were calling for 50mph winds and were making some changes to race day logistics.  That can never be good.

I got ready super fast because I was paranoid about being late to the hotel where my VIP bus was picking me up (thanks again, Airbnb!)  I had time to grab a soy latte and eat my breakfast in the warmth of the Sheraton before buses departed.  It was lovely.  When I finally got on my warm charter bus, there were only 4 other women on it.  Just the 5 of us had a private ride all the way to the start. It was kind of ridiculous but also relaxing so no complaints here.
big, empty (warm) bus
Since the bus was so comfy and cozy, it was a very rude awakening having to get off and wait hours in the freezing cold for the start.  This was definitely not my favorite.  I HATE the cold (hence why I moved to southern California) and it was pretty brutal with the wind and all.

the other runners in my village just waiting and freezing. 

You know it's brutally cold and windy outside when going into a port-a-potty is actually a relief! I usually get in and get the hell out, but this time around I took my time because it was so much warmer in there. Disgusting, I know!

I met some really nice people in my village and chatted to pass the time.  When it came time to get corralled I didn't realize I was hanging with the wrong group until some guy started talking about his goal of 3:42.  I kindly said "nice talking to you guys!" and dashed for my correct corral.  And thank goodness I did...

I huddled myself into a ball until we got going and one by one started to discard clothing.  I ended up running the entire race in my long-sleeved NY race tech tee. I've never done that before but so glad I did. The wind was painful and I'm glad I had some skin covered.

The race starts out on a massive bridge from Staten Island and it seems to go on FOREVER.  The wind was seriously so insane it was blowing us all over the place. No one said a word, we all just ducked our heads and powered forward.  Once we were off the bridge (over a mile later) some guy said "well, that's one way to start a marathon." 

INSANE, right!?

From there you run through Brooklyn which was just a blast! This was definitely one of my favorite parts.  The people in Brooklyn were awesome and I ran right past the apartment I stayed in over the weekend which was cool.  When you don't have music on, you are able to fully take in all of your surroundings and not miss a thing.  In a race as epic as New York there is so much to absorb and I am so glad I made the decision to turn off my phone, tuck it away and leave the headphones at home.

As you probably know, the marathon takes you through all 5 burroughs of NYC and what cooler way to see a city than to run through it?  It was just surreal. The crowds were unbelievable and I smiled for probably 18 straight miles and then the game face came out and of course that's also when the photographers came out.  When you're trying to PR, you don't give a flying F about how you look so needless to say, I looked TERRIBLE in photos, but honestly who cares? It's definitely not a beauty contest.

I felt great and kept looking at my watch to see 7:50-7:55 minute miles and the occasional 8:05 to balance it out.  My Garmin was right on the money and would beep right as I passed the mile markers.  That is until people started slowing down and I had to start weaving.  This added on some distance for me.  The Queensboro Bridge was an intensely long hill and it was super crowded.  There was a blind runner with an escort running alongside me and it was so inspiring I actually got a little choked up.  
the Garmin I used

I try to maintain the same level of exertion on uphills as on flats so I slow down and then fly down the declines to make up lost time.  It works for me. But on the Queensboro Bridge I didn't have the luxury of flying down because it was too crowded and that was a bit frustrating.  We ran through Harlem where people were having a ton of fun spectating. This was another one of my favorite parts because although the crowds were smaller, the energy was great and the music was blasting.  I wanted to dance.

The miles flew by and before I knew it I was at mile 18.  I told myself if I still felt good at mile 20 that I was going to PR and I could NOT let myself slow down at that point. I'd worked too hard and this was an experience of a lifetime.  I also knew that people back home were tracking me and I could feel their support. I could picture my mom and aunt getting the text alerts and being so excited and nervous.  

Mile 20 hit and there was no wall. No bonking. I felt decent.  At this point we all know the game turns mental.  Our bodies are spent and it takes a ton of mental strength to make it to the finish.  I repeated (probably 110 times) "mind over matter" and "just keep moving."  I knew I wanted that PR. I knew my body was trained for it and I knew at this point my body was only going to do what my mind believed it could. 

Here's my thinking for miles 20-26 (otherwise known as the second half):
Of course you desperately want to stop after 20 miles. Of course it's going to hurt. Of course all of the little aches and pains you felt before the race are going to intensify and feel overpowering and YES, that would be a great excuse to stop.  But don't.  Just don't.  This is the part that makes all the difference. These miles right here are the make-it-or-break-it miles.  You can crumble (which sounds so appealing) or you can suck it up, endure the pain, and push with everything you have until you are depleted but victorious.  

It all sounds very dramatic, but if you've ever run a marathon, you know that it is. The end of a marathon is intense and emotional and so freaking hard! I think it's pretty safe to say most of us just want to stop and cry.  Right?!

But we don't! That's what makes us marathoners.  I can't even tell you what happened at the end. I had a non-stop talk with myself and just powered through. That is the only way I can explain it.  When I ran through the finish (with the ugliest, most intense face) I looked down at my watch and saw 3:29 and I was ecstatic!  Not only did I qualify for Boston, but I ran a sub 3:30 in crazy conditions, on a tough course nonetheless. I was definitely proud. It made me wonder what would have happened on a flat course with better conditions.  New goals are in the works already...

I have never finished a marathon without bloody feet. I guess it's tradition at this point.
I could feel this start bleeding at about mile 3. That was lovely. ;) 

The moment I turned on my phone it started ringing and it was Brittany who was equally as ecstatic.  It was nice to hear her voice and share in the excitement with someone.

While my official finish time says I ran an average of 8:00 min miles on the dot,we all know you run more than 26.2 miles in a marathon (especially with all the weaving) so according to my Garmin I ran a 7:56 average, and let's be honest, that sounds way cooler. ;)

Post-marathon was intense and awful and I almost missed my flight, but let's save that for another post.

I came home to this sign from Brittany which made my night...and then we both passed out on the couch.

this is what a girl looks like who just ran a marathon and then hopped on a plane for 6 hours. So hot.

I have figured out exactly what works for me and I plan to write an entire post about that because after 5 marathons it is so incredibly clear.

So that's my race recap, guys!  If you read the entire thing, you deserve a prize! Seriously, how boring (if you're not me.)

Thank you Airbnb and everyone who followed this journey!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NYC (so far) in bullet points + pictures

Normally the night before a race I am busy doing last minute stuff and I hardly ever get to bed early. This time around, everything has gone seamlessly and here I am at 8:30 pm, already back at my place, sitting on my bed, packed up and ready to go.  It's fantastic!

But all this idle time is also allowing for some pre-race jitters to kick in.  I'm not used to being nervous before marathons. These feelings are kind of foreign.  I didn't even have an appetite today (hello! that never happens!) and I attribute it to nerves. Don't worry, I still managed to eat more than the average bear. ;)

I am really freaking out about this race.

I have trained for months and months and my heart is in it all the way.  I just want it to be a success.  I know my finish time does not define whether or not this race is a success but, well, it kind of feels that way.  I really want to PR tomorrow with every ounce of my being.  I have no idea what my body is actually prepared for tomorrow. Usually runners know what they're capable of based on their training but I feel kind of clueless.  This training cycle has been a roller coaster so it could go either way.

Anyway, let's stop talking about all of that because it's making me even more nervous...

Instead, let's talk about how smooth this trip has gone so far!  Compared to Boston 2013, this is a dream already.  I'll break it down into bullet points.

In Boston...

  • I had the most horrible meal the night before the race.
  • I spent the whole day before the marathon on my feet.  Like literally an entire day at the expo.
  • I ended up lost with a dead phone in the freezing cold without a proper coat and no cabs anywhere to be seen.
  • I got back to my place way too late and subsequently got to bed way too late.
  • I went to the race with a HUGE hole in the ass of my capris and had to walk around the runner's village for over an hour asking if anyone had an extra pair of bottoms I could wear. That was awesome.
  • The race itself was brutal.
  • And then there was the tragedy of the bombs.
It truly couldn't have been any worse.

In New York City so far...
  • I arrived to my apartment in Brooklyn (through Airbnb) and the host left me homemade pumpkin cupcakes. I was starving and they were to die for!  
  • I've used the subway to get everywhere and it has been a breeze.  There's a subway stop on the same block as my apartment.  I think I will end up spending $20 on subway fare for 3 days. Score!
  • I traveled solo but met up with a friend who lives in NYC for a delicious dinner Friday night. 
  • I had an awesome bagel sandwich and a tasty cup of coffee for brunch and was able to explore the adorable, hipster neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn (where I'm staying).  It is the perfect neighborhood for me and I couldn't be happier with my location.
  •  I randomly stumbled into a building to get out of the rain and realized it was full of local artists selling their stuff.  I bought a sweet piece of graffiti art done on a bike map of NYC that supported a local band and will also look awesome in my house. Score!
  • I got to the expo in the very last hour and they just started marking down all Asics apparel by 50%!! I got 4 NYC branded Asics pieces for about $44.
  • I went to dinner by myself with a new book I found today in a random bookstore and had the most amazing cheese-less pizza.  The crust was just insane and it was the perfect meal.  My bill was only $8 and the pizza was massive.  I was speechless.
  • I found a local market that was even better than Whole Foods where I bought 2 small bagels for the morning, ground my own almond butter and bought some low sugar mango slices to eat before the race and my bill came to: $3.  I kid you not! My cashier must've been high but I totally scored. 
morning cup of joe in hipsterville
on my friend chrissy's rooftop

williamsburg - brooklyn

this isn't the actual piece I bought, but similar.  super cool! 

all the shit i bought at the expo. and now you have my digits. :)

where i had a pizza date with myself.  

my dreamy pizza. 

If tomorrow goes as well as today and yesterday went, I should be golden.

Here goes nothing...

Any tips for tomorrow?

Ever been to NYC?