Friday, April 26, 2013

Ragnar Relay SoCal - So little sleep, so much fun

Tean #82...born to run ULTRA wild (best team ever)
It's hard to explain what makes a 200-mile relay in SoCal so much fun. You are...
- locked in a minivan for 30+ hours with a bunch of sweaty runners
- driving from exchange to exchange and getting barely any legitimate rest (especially on an ultra team)
- running in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, potentially for a couple of hours
- or...running in crazy heat in the middle of the day with no shade or breeze
- living on energy bars and energy drinks with hardly any "real food"

But at the same time...
- you gain a true appreciation for running water, especially when there is soap available, too
- rest rooms in a Rite Aid appear oh-so-luxurious
- that pizza at the finish may be substandard but man, nothing has ever tasted so good
- you learn a LOT about yourself and others running on no sleep (I learned that my teammates are all different shades of truly amazing people. no joke.)

The SoCal course is not as scenic as it could be, until you reach the coastal part north of San Diego (finish), but it's definitely not boring. The atmosphere is amazing, perhaps because everyone is out there to have fun and accomplish something together, as a team. 

The ladies
The mileage for each runner seems to change a little each year. The advantage of a regular, 2-van team is clear - the ability to get a few hours of sleep and either start late in the morning (van 2) on Friday or finish early on Saturday (van 1) and have the opportunity to meet the other van relatively clean and refreshed at the finish line. As an ultra team you get to run more miles and miss out on sleep. so clearly, why would you ever not choose an ultra team?!

This year, I had the joy of running that last leg to the finish line. This was the most fun, ever. In spite of a few glitches, of some minor confusion over where the finish line actually was, the abundance of traffic lights that forced me to stop, oh and difficulty locating my team so we could cross the finish line together.

Last leg - I am pretty sure I was having fun
Getting home, I was completely exhausted and proceeded to sleep for 13 hours, no problem. Even though I did not run all my 30something miles (thanks Janelle, I love you!!!), I was afraid I had made my knee injury worse (which I previously swore to give time to recover). Thankfully, that did not seem to I will pretend I never ran on it and keep resting. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Now...when can I sign up for my next Ragnar?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Basic Salad How-To Guide

For once, I am not going to talk about running but my other quasi-obession: food. Well, being a nutrition student much of my time tends to revolve around thinking, talking or learning about food so that's no surprise. I am no culinary genius and I don't like recipes. They are very restrictive and I am always missing at least one crucial ingredient. Nevertheless, I felt the need to share the method behind my random salad creations, such as the one I made for dinner tonight. I wanted something quick, easy, fresh and nutrient-dense. So I power-walked a few loops around the produce section and this is what happened:

How-to guide to random but delicious salad making:

Choose your base -> I chose mixed greens but there is also spinach, kale, chopped romaine etc
Choose your veg (3) -> I chose cucumber, tomato, red pepper (but was tempted to add radishes)
Add some fruit (why not?) -> I love apples, pears or berries in a salad
Choose your protein -> If you're vegetarian go with crumbled tempeh, tofu cubes, beans or else try lean meats like turkey or chicken pieces
Choose your dressing -> Avocado and lemon juice mash into am amazing "dressing" and bring out flavors
Add some nuts -> I picked walnuts but almonds and cashews also make great additions

Optional: add some quinoa or brown rice. And/or some fresh basil. Mmm.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oh, injuries

I know that as a long distance runner of sorts, staying injury free my whole 'career' (meaning adult life) is as probable as snowfall in Southern California. Mind you, it happens to a select few...but just as I didn't bust out a Boston Qualifier on my first marathon, it it not the sort of miracle that happens to me. And I'm okay with that.

As you probably predicted, I'm off my feet again. I've even started taking the elevator instead of taking stairs on the way down (upstairs is OK). Yeah, *gasp* moment.
Frankly, this time of not running / running with pain would have been much shorter, had I respected a developing injury early on, took my own advice and taken a proper time for recovery at that time. That includes NOT running marathons like I did last weekend (yet I do not regret running SLO).

Now that I've dragged it on, doctors are telling me all sorts of things I do not want to hear. Not unusual. The good news is, I am resting, working up crazy nutritional therapies AND my knee feels pretty good right now.
Unlike all prior times, I am not rushing to lace up my shoes, but making sure stuff (my knee) heals - properly.
I want to be that awesome 90 year-old lady running marathons or even ultras. 
I think I can rock gray hair with colorful compression gear.

Ok, so here is what I am doing to heal my knee and stay sane...

1. NOT going into panic mode.

2. Treating this as a bump in the road and will make me stronger in the long run (pun intended).

3. Staying active in other ways - swimming and biking are currently out of the picture.
What works: hot yoga, working on core strength, non-weight bearing leg strengthening and free weights...oh and bring on the hula hoop!!!

4. Eating well. Good quality protein sources, lots of fruits and veggies and limiting empty calories. More antioxidants = less inflammation, in a nutshell.

5. Supplementing. I'm my own guinea pig at the moment but it seems to be working.

My *top secret* regimen includes: Calcium + Vitamin D (bone healing) ; Omega-3s (anti-inflammatory); Wobenzym N (anti-inflammatory); Arnica 200c (homeopathic wonder) and Traumeel gel (topically). If this all works (and it seems to be working), there will be a more extensive post on each of these and how to take them.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

San Luis Obispo Marathon Recap

After over a month of no real running and definitely no marathon training, I was betting on some miracle to get me through this 26.2 mile adventure. I made the decision not to quit, so I toed the start line eagerly to see whether my left knee would let me run...or whether I would be forced to walk the whole thing. So here is how it went a nutshell:

Mile 1 - wow, I think I remember how to run but it's definitely not pain free.
Mile 2 - Uh oh...
Mile 3 - Why am I so tired?! Still yawning.
Mile 4 - Finally, the sun's up....yet I feel the opposite of awesome.
Mile 5 - Ok, I think I'm warming up slowly...
Mile 7 - It hurts more to walk then to run. So I'll run. Hobble-wobble.
Mile 9 - Ouch.
Mile 11 - OUCH. No more running. Completely disillusioned and ready to cry.
Mile 12 - Begging medical tent for painkillers...mission unsuccessful.
Mile 13 to the end - Found and ran with an angel, called Gisela. We run-walked (9min run, 1min walk) the rest of the race. Beast mode. I am not sure what I would have done without this amazing lady.

I was prepared for everything, but I must admit...walking a 7+ hour marathon was not my ideal scenario. Thankfully, I managed a 5:27. Slowest marathon but who really cares?! Humbled and happy.

Ok, race details...

START - low-key, very easily accessible. Great to stay on Monterey St, since you can simply walk to the start line at the high school. Otherwise it's a shuttle situation, and those left at an ungodly (4am) hour from the parking areas.

Dean Karnazes set us off with a motivational little speech: "raise your hand if this is your first marathon. [lots of hands going up]. Are you ready to DIE?!"
COURSE - This is NOT a flat course. The elevation profile is misleading. About 80% of the course is rolling hills. Absolutely gorgeous scenery and no crazy climbs, but the hills do add up. The last 5 miles is pretty much flat/downhill though, which is nice. I repeat...the scenery is absolutely stunning. And for a small race, crowd support is great. The course is well marked and intersections manned by volunteers, who are great cheerleaders too, for the most part. Aid stations are frequent with lots of gel stations (CLIF) and I liked the electrolyte drink on the course, too.

FINISH - Parking was (I am told) refreshingly easy at the finish line and it was pretty uncrowded. The jamba juice tent was full of deliciousness and if it wasn't for the wind, I would have hung around longer.

SWAG!  The long sleeve tech shirt is great. Soft and comfy!