Saturday, February 27, 2010

YakTrax - Review

I was contacted last month by YakTraxs to see if I would like to try out and review a couple of their items. Of course I totally jumped at the idea. I have heard of YakTraxs but never had the opportunity to give them a try so I was really curious on how they really worked and would hold up when running in a few inches of snow. I was sent the YakTrak Pro for running and the YakTraxWalker for walking. Please note that my review is totally my opinion, although I was sent these items to review the review is mine good or bad.

I am sure you are all wondering what the difference is between the Walker and the Pro besides the price. The only real difference I noticed is that the Pro has a strap that goes around your shoe to hold it in place. I must say people if you are going to use these to run in, you NEED this strap. The difference in price is $10.00 and I would totally recommend you spend the extra if you plan to run at all using the YakTrax otherwise there is a very good chance they will come off.

I have been doing a few runs here and there with these YakTraxs since I got them. I wanted to make sure I tried them on several different surfaces and conditions so that I could really try them out. I must say that I was totally and completely impressed the first time I tried them out and took off on ICE, yes that is right people straight ice and I did not slip or slide at all. However this was on a paved trail and in some parts of the trail the Ice and snow had melted and it was just straight pavement, the YakTraxs did not do so well on that. When I had to run on the pavement it made a crunchy sound very similar to the sound when running on ice. And the YakTraxs started to slip off. Although you may think this is really bad, I do not believe these were made to be used on straight pavement, they performed very well on the snow and ice which is what they were made for.

On another trial run the YakTraxs went on with me was right after a good snow and there was about 4 inches on the ground. I decided this was a great chance to test them out in a LOT of snow. The YakTraxs did great, I however suck at running in snow my legs were burning something fierce. With an all snow run the YakTraxs did not slip or slide at all, the strap around my foot held them in place and they griped perfect so that I could even try out a little sprint (I say little because it is very hard to sprint in that much snow). I have also been using the Walkers when I go get my mail, you may think this silly but I live out in the country and we have a gravel driveway that is very long and gets very icy. I normally slip and slide all the way to the mailbox and back but with these on I did not slip or slide once.

My overall opinion of the YakTrax is that they are AWESOME! My first snow run, I was slipping and sliding all over and had to be very cautious of every step. With the YakTraxs on I can just enjoy the run and not worry about falling and busting my face or butt. If you ever have to run in the snow or ice I would highly recommend getting a pair, they really do work. They are also very easy to get on and off so if you are out and decide you don’t need them anymore you can just slip them off and carry them, they are surprisingly very compact. You can see from the picture that they are small and fold up so they would be very easy to carry or put in a pack. The one on the left is the Pro with the strap they one on the right is the Walker.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Make the best of it

So this week was a good and bad running week. I ended up missing one of my short runs early in the week and made up for it my doing a longer run mid week which was nice since the sun came out and the day turned out to be a perfect winter running day. Then as the week progressed it became abundantly clear that my long run was not going to go as planned.

My husband was away this weekend on reserve duty so that means I was a single parent for the weekend. My plan was to go visit my mother for the weekend, (I usually do this whenever my husband is on reserves) and my mom could watch my daughter while I ran my 10 miles. As the weekend approached I realized this was not going to happen since the weather was going to be too bad to make the drive.

So I came up with Plan B. Do my long run on Friday while my daughter was still at school. I was really ahead on my work for the week so I had the time to take off for a couple hours to get my run in. This sounded great to me, till Friday got here and it was about 33 degrees and a rainy, sleeting, snowing mess. URGH! I could not find the motivation to go out and run in that. I don’t mind running in the rain, I actually like it a lot, but that is when it is warm out, I just cannot imagine running in the rain when it is cold out, I just kept thinking that I would never warm up and be running while wet and cold. So this idea was a bust.

Now we come to Plan C, the dreadmill. Just the idea of running 10 miles on the treadmill was enough to make me feel depressed. Don’t get me wrong I love my treadmill, it has helped me so much this winter but 10 miles…. Come on that is just torture. All day Friday I just kept thinking how I would have to do this run on the mill, and was just sad and depressed the entire day. I did go to the video store and rent a movie hoping that it would help make the torture not so bad, but I just could not get the motivation up to be excited about my upcoming run. As a matter of fact I spent several hours trying to think of ways to get out of this run, I know bad Tracey. As the night was coming to an end I finally decided what a total baby I was being. I mean come on I had to do this run, I really need it for my training so I could either make the best of it or just be miserable right? I decided to just try and make the best of it and get it done.

I wake up on Saturday morning and get everything ready to run and then as soon as my daughter gets up I bring her down and put her in front of the TV (I know bad mom I totally used the TV as a baby sitter here, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do) got her breakfast and juice then went down to start my run. About every 15 to 30 min my daughter came down to let me know she needed more juice, more food, a clean diaper, a new TV show, or just to see what mommy was doing. This made the run take much more time than needed since I had to keep running up stairs to take care of her and get her what she needed, and the treadmill kept resetting so I am pretty sure I ran more than 10 miles anyway. But to tell you all the truth, it was not that bad. The movie helped a lot, time flew by and I still felt great and strong the entire run.

My lesson and the lesson I want to pass on to all of you is to make the best of the situation. This could very well went the other way and been a horrible long miserable run, but my decision to just make the best of it because I had to do it either way really made the difference. I went in to the run in a good mood and had fun with it even though the situation was not ideal and my run went great. Remember it is up to you to be happy or sad, if you can’t change something then make the best of it and it may just turn out better than you thought.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Runner

So I headed out on Saturday morning for my first long run in several weeks. The plan was to run 8 miles. I must admit I was excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because I love long runs there is just something about a nice easy long run that I crave, nervous because I have not run 8 miles in about a month. I decided not to set the alarm to just sleep till I woke up and then head out for my run. I also decided to hit my favorite trail (Mill Creek 16 miles of paved trail), mostly because it would be an out and back so I HAD to do 8 miles no matter how I felt.

The morning started out pretty good, my daughter woke up at 5:30am but I was able to get her back to sleep, so I did not have to actually wake up till around 7am (now that is sleeping in people). I had all my fuel packed up and ready to go so I got dressed ate some toast with peanut butter and then started my drive to the trail. I know with only 8 miles you don’t really need to fuel much, but I was nervous and with only three weeks till the ½ I wanted to make sure I had all my fuel down for the race. I opted to take a GU about 10 min before I got to the park for an extra boost before the run.

When I got to the trail head there were a few cars so I knew I would see some other runners/bikers whom I always love, makes me feel like I am not running alone when there are others on the trail. I did some quick stretches and put on my fuel belt and iPod hit start on the Garmin and off I went.

That first mile was not too bad; mile two I could feel the shins but again not too bad. Mile three was the usual pain but I know that after three it is all over so I get through mile three pretty fast. My fuel plan was to have a GU every 30 min so I ate my Espresso GU at this time, man that caffeine did me good. By mile 4 I was on fire, singing and dancing and very glad there was no one around me at the time. I was feeling great. At 4.5 miles I saw a family of deer, I stopped for just a second to snap a pick with my phone and send it to facebook, then kept going. About 6 miles in I had had another GU and was jumping up and down with every stride. The Black Eyed Peas started to play with the song “I got a feeling” and every time the verse came on about jumping off the couch I literally jumped in the air and sang out loud. So now I am feeling like this run is super easy and just loving life.

I thought about doing 10 miles since I was feeling so good, but opted to just stick with the 8. I don’t want to push it too much and not have my shins heal or have them get worse (see people I am learning my lesson this time) I think a lot of the fun and energy on this run was probably from all the GU I was taking (caffeine and sugar YUMMY), but it was one of the best runs I have had so that is fine with me. This weekend is my 10 mile run and since I have to do it at my mom’s it may be all in the snow, I am actually looking forward to it. And I can’t wait for the Disney Princess ½ marathon to get here, I know I am ready for it…Woo Hoo Florida here I come!

Friday, February 12, 2010

My 3 week ½ marathon training plan

Some of you may be thinking, three weeks you are nuts! Well you may be right, but I think I can do this. I signed up for the Disney Princes ½ marathon back in 2009 with a group of other Running Moms. I decided that I would go all out in my training starting January 1st 2010, and all out I did. Not only did I start my ½ training I started P90X again. I think the combination of the two was the cause of my ever present shin splints. So now I am 3 weeks till my first ever half marathon (the last one I hurt my knee a few weeks prior and could not run, see the trend) and have not had a long run in three weeks and did not run at all last week, because I have been trying to get my shins to heal. Life throws things at you and you gotta roll with it or give up and I am not the type to give up so with three weeks to go I will get ready for this half marathon.

So my friend Bethany helped me come up with this plan while we were at Rocky last weekend. And so far so good, I find that my shins get worse if I run consecutive days so I am only able to run 3 days a week. Here is the my new 3 week half marathon training plan.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – P90X weight training and ab ripper hell (okay it is called ab ripper X but if you have ever done it you know it is HELL)

Tuesdays and Thursdays run 3-4 easy miles (speed work, and hill repeats also aggravate the shins so that is out)

Saturdays – Long run start with 8miles, then 10miles, then 8miles the weekend before the half.

So far this week I have done the plan and even though I can feel my shins in the first mile of each run, I have felt strong and like I could keep going. I am now using my compression shocks after each run and doing a ¼ mile warm up then stretches before each run. This whole plan depends greatly on my long runs, if I am unable to do the 8miles tomorrow things will need to change.

My back up plan known as Plan B (I learned at Rocky that you always need a Plan B) is to do a run 4 walk 1 for the half if I have problems with the long runs or if my shins really flare up before the race.

Now here is my caveat. Please do not try this at home, to properly train for a half marathon you should give yourself WAY more than three weeks. I will not take any responsibility if you try and do the stupid things I do with my poor body that I beat to hell every chance I get.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rocky Raccoon - The crew report

My Rocky experience is a little different than most, I crewed for a woman I have never met before with a group of women I had never met. Well we all kinda met online but never in person, you see we all belong to a group of running moms online and have become great friends. The 4 crew members all came in from different states just to support Tara in her first 100 mile race.  I was so amazed by how many people run these things, I mean it takes a certain kind of person to want to run 100 miles right? Well there were over 300 people signed up to do just that, and another 300 and something signed up for the 50 miler…. WOW I felt like something was wrong with me because I really had no desire to ever do either. After it is all over I still do not want to do 100 but the 50 will be a goal after the next baby.

The race start was not too exciting for us crew members. There were so many runners that we could not even get to the start line to see it. So our real look at the race would be 4 hours later when Tara finished her first loop. It was so exciting and nerve racking trying to get all the gear and supplies ready before she came through. We all wanted to do a good job and make this easier for her so having everything ready and getting her in and out as quick as we could was our goal. I think the first few times she came through we accomplished that. As the run progressed, we found out that the Ensure we were giving her was not sitting well with her so we stopped giving it to her; we found out later that it was her only protein source so we should have had a plan B. Next time we will.

Cathy’s (another member of the Rocky Crew) husband Jack was signed up to run the 50 miler and at the last minute he decided to go for the 100. After we took care of Tara we decided to wait and help Jack out if he wanted. He was going to crew for himself. It turned out that he was running about 10 min behind Tara so it worked out great. When Jack came through we were able to get him seated and changed. We also got some water and Heed (electrolytes) in him before we sent him on his way.

That first 20 mile lap they both looked great. All smiles, big dreams, and big goals. The second 20, Tara was still looking and feeling good, the woman was on fire. We had her in and out in maybe 5min or less (we had this down now) and then she was on her way again. When Jack came through he did not look so hot. His legs were hurting pretty bad, and he did not expect to be running as much on the next loop (he was now at 40 miles). We decided to drive up and meet them both at the next aid station and barely saw Tara as she shot through and was on her way. I had a bad feeling when Jack came walking up, he really was not looking very good, you could tell he was feeling it already, this was not a good sign with 60 miles left to go.

Once night time fell and Tara took off with Marny for the next 20 (miles 60 – 80) we quickly learned that things were not going as quick as they were. Marny brought her phone with her and called to ask us to meet them at the Park aid station with Tara’s jacket,k she also let us know they slowed way down (The first two loops took 4 hours, this one took 6) It got colder than we first thought, and at this point Tara was doing quite a bit more walking and we dressed her more for running and she got pretty cold. We ended up missing them at the aid station and did not get Tara warmer clothes till she was done with that 20 mile loop. Shortly after they took off to start this loop we were still at the start waiting for Jack to come through, when Jack found us. He let us know that he DNF (did not finish) at mile 55 and caught a ride back. I was glad to see that he was not torn up about it at the time, but I think that was more the sheer pleasure he must have been feeling about not having to run again. Later he did seem a little upset about it, but I think he did great. You see Jack did not train for this, and well frankly he made it farther than he had ever run before and farther than what he originally signed up for. Jack did great and I hope he knows and feels it.

When Tara came through this time I was up to run 3 miles with her. When we took off from the start she was doing good, we started off at a walk then planed to run a bit later. She was still shooting for the sub 24 hours. When we tried to run about 30 seconds later she said no running. She decided at this point that the goal would have to be to finish. Her legs were shot after 80 miles. So we changed to the plan to finish instead of the sub 24 which would mean she had to run. I really started to worry when our pace kept slowing down and she started not understanding what I would say at times. My fears got worse when she asked to hold my shoulder for support. I knew at this point she was not doing very well. She told me she was tired and needed a nap, but I was so worried if she slept that she would not want to get up so I told her she needed to consider that. I finally decided she had to nap or there was no chance of finishing when she fell asleep walking. Her feet stopped and she started to lean on me. I pulled her forward and told her that she had to keep moving and that she could nap soon, we were almost to the next aid station. All we had to do was get to the next station and she could sleep. When we finally came around that corner and I saw the lights for the station, I cannot even tell you how thrilled I was. That was the longest 3 miles I have ever done, Tara you scared the crap out of me!

The next few hours proved to be the longest of the whole race. We checked Tara in at the aid station then pulled her off the course so she could sleep in the car. Marny and Bethany had to help her down some stairs and she kept falling asleep on the way to the car. Once we got Tara in the car she was so cold she started shaking, so we rushed her to the med tent. She told them that she was going to finish and they just said to get her warm, so we covered her with everything we had gave her some hot water and then let her sleep. We figured out that if she was back out by 4am that she could finish by cut off if she walked the rest. So that was our final plan to walk her to the finish. Bethany took the longest hardest section (total of 12 miles and 6 miles with no aid station) and the rest of us waited and worried the whole time they were gone. When we finally got to see them again Tara was smiling and moving along slowly. She only had 4.4 miles to go and more than enough time to do it in. Cathy went with her on this last four and we met them about a 1/4 mile from the finish to cheer her on. When she crossed that finish it made the whole thing worth it. There are plenty of things we would do differently as a crew that might have made it go better, but for first timers I think we did okay.

Rocky Raccoon was an experience I am sure to not forget any time soon. It had its ups and downs, the good and the bad, the victory and the defeat, but the number one thing it had was HEART. Waiting for Tara at that last aid station we got to see several other runners come through, and they all looked beat up but every single one of them pushed through the pain to that finish. I think every mile of the 100 was an adventure, but the last 20 was all heart.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The New Runner

Can you runners out there remember when you first started to run? When you first made that decision that you were going to run a race or wanted to get healthier or even just too loose a few pounds. Can you picture that very first run?

I just started running two years ago. At that time I decided to run a 5k with some people from work, you can read that story here. I can still remember that first run, when I walked out my front door and took off for the first time on my journey to becoming a runner. About 3 minutes later that dream was starting to fade in the cloud of my total and utter exhaustion. I could no longer breath, my legs felt like they were going to fall off, and my heart rate was through the roof. I thought to myself, you idiot what were you thinking, you are NOT a runner, you CAN NOT run. But me being me, and of course the load of crap I just got done spewing to everyone at work about how I was going to kick their butts, kept me going. After a few weeks I finally was able to run for a mile, granted I still felt like I was going to die but I did it. Then a few weeks later I made it to two, and go figure that first mile was not so hard, it was still hard I just no longer felt like I was going to fall down and die right on the spot. Now today I can go out and run several miles nonstop and actually feel like I want to keep going. I no longer feel like I am going to die, I no longer tell myself that I am NOT a runner, I am very proud to say that in fact I am a runner.

My sister is on this journey now. She has wanted to pick up running for a couple years now and has given up then tried again a few times. You see my sister is a smoker (no bashing people, I smoked for 15 years and it is HARD to quit, I should know), so as much as I felt like I was going to die she is feeling it worse. I can remember when she first started with the C25K program. She got through that first week of run for 60 seconds walk for 90 seconds. Then week two came along and she had to run for 90 seconds and well she could not do it. She gave it a go for a little then quite figuring that running was just not for her. A few months went by then she tried again, not so much with the C25k this time as she just would go out and run till she could not anymore then walk the rest of the way. I always remember our conversations when she would call me and tell me how far she ran, she would always be so excited when she would get a little farther than the time before.

For her birthday last year we got her a Garmin 305. This is one of the best gadgets for runners; it tells you the pace you are running, the time you have been running, and the distance you have run. Oh it does a lot more too but that is a post all on its own. So when my mom and I got her this we thought it would help to encourage her to run more. Well we were right; she started running a lot more. And she started getting more excited about it. My sister has now signed up to run the Disney Royal Family 5k with me; it is the day before the Disney Princess ½ Marathon on March 7th. Laura (my sister) decided she wanted to kick some 5k butt and has signed up with a running group called the Miami Runners Club. Last week at the group’s beginner’s class my sister who could not run for 90 seconds ran 3 miles without walking. I cannot even begin to tell you all how proud I am of her, my heart just swells with pride and love when I think about all she has accomplished. She has never given up, sure she may have taken a break from running but she always came back to it and now she can run 3 miles. I would say that she is a RUNNER now, not a jogger, not a wana be, but a runner a real runner.

Running is not an easy thing to do; many who try it give up because they think they cannot do it. Well people you can! Sure it takes time to build up the muscles in your legs and build up your lung capacity and let’s not forget your heart. But come on people anything that is worth it is hard. I know not everyone will go out there and be a runner, but trust me if you have ever thought about it, you can do it, it just takes time. And if you can’t quite make those 90 seconds just remember my sister who could not do that and now she is running three. Everyone you see out there running has gone through this; it is kind of a rite of passage you can say. We all have had to push through when we thought we could not do it, and that never stops the more we want to run the farther we want to go the faster we want to go we have to push though to get there. I will tell you though it is all worth it when you finally get to where you want to be and know that you worked so hard to get there, the pride you feel in yourself is greater than any of the pain you went through to get there.

Now get out there and run people!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kansas City Groundhog 5k

I finally got to run the Kansas City Groundhog 5k. I have wanted to run this race since I first moved here last year. Unfortunately it was not in the cards last year. We got all signed up and went race and after having to park like a mile or so away we missed the start of the 5k. Then we decided to run the 10k since we were there and it started 1 hour after the 5k so we did not miss that one. When the gun went off for the 10k we were lined up and ready to go when a woman pulled me out and said that I could NOT run with the stroller. I explained to her I asked several people before signing up and they said it was allowed, but she said it was not and would not let my husband and I run with it. Oh well what a total disappointment that was. This year we ran with our friend Scott and his wonderful wife Kari babysat for us (THANK YOU SO MUCH KARI!!!). Apparently this year strollers were allowed but I was not taking any chances on that, been there heard that one before right.

I consider this my Birthday run since I was born on Groundhogs day and this is a Groundhog run, so this had me super excited about this race. Then the fact that this race is underground in caves which are about 65 degrees… WOO HOO I got to wear some summer clothes and run in the heat (it was about 19 outside). Well the caves were not that cool, I was thinking caves like with bats and stuff super cool right. Well this was more like an underground parking garage, sure it was a cave but a cave that was made into a parking garage the cool factor was just not there. But it was still warm and I could wear my new super cool running skirt so that was a huge plus.

Okay on to the race. Neal (hubby), Scot, and I split up for the start because they are a lot faster than I am so they went to the front and I kept to the middle of the pack. I figured this was a pretty flat course so I could hopefully make my below 30 min goal (this is my goal for every 5k). While waiting for the gun to go off I met a really nice girl. She is a runner but has not been running much in this winter because it is just too freaking cold for normal people to go outside (I must not be normal). She told me she usually runs a 24-26 min race. I wished her good luck, knowing full well I would not see her again after the start she was just too fast for me. By this time we are all getting antsy and just want to run when the gun finally announces the start of the race so we are off….well not quite we stand there for a while then move a couple fee then walk some then finally we can run (gotta love big races it takes forever to get to the start line).

Off I go in to check out this cave (I mean parking lot). The first mile had a lot of turns and I felt really good. I had no idea what my pace was since my trusty Garmin would not work underground being that it needs satellite reception and all. I am just cursing along when I see this little kid running with his dad. This kid must be about 5yr old. He is all decked out in his running gear, UnderArmour shirt, shorts, running shoes, and of course the headband (I totally must be related to this kids mother in some way, check out the pic of Amanda in the logo with the headband). I quickly realize that this kid is a STAR, he is so going to dog me, I mean come one the kid is 5 and he is totally kicking my butt. I made an attempt to keep up for a while and even ran with his dad for a bit to let him know that I thought his son was Amazing and I looked forward to seeing him in the Olympics in a few years. This kid was just awesome, and I was left hoping that one day that could be me with my daughter as he left me in his 9min mile dust.

At this point I see the girl I met waiting at the start and I pass her, really I passed her. I am thinking wow; I am really kicking some 5k butt here and am totally going to PR. I figure I am about a mile and a half in by now when I see the 1 mile mark with the time saying 10:19. BAM, I am crushed. I totally thought I was doing better than that. I mean I kept up with the kid for a while, I passed the speedy girl and I am only running a 10:19. I was starting to feel winded and with the thought that there was NO WAY at this point that I could make my PR. I probably ran about another ½ mile then I did it people I walked. Only for about 30 or 40 seconds but it was walking. Then I picked it up again and decided since I could not PR I would just keep it nice and easy and try to enjoy it a bit. By this time I am getting pretty hot, I am so use to freezing when I run that I feel like I am burning up and all I can think about is that I am going to die in a month at the ½ marathon in Florida. Running in the heat is sooooo much harder than in the cold. And yes everyone I do realize that I kind of just admitted that there is something about this frozen tundra that I like…sigh I guess I am turning in to a winter girl after all.

So as the race progresses we get close to an entrance to the cave (I mean parking lot) and get a WONDERFULL blast of that 19 degree air and I am loving it. Man that was refreshing! I skipped all the water stops since I walked and did not want to make my time even slower. I ended up passing that speedy girl again; guess she was having a bad race because if I passed her she was not so speedy. I think at this point I was speeding up and slowing down quite a bit. I for sure was not steady at all with my pace. I thought for a couple min that the finish line was around one corner so I booked it only to find that I was wrong. So I just kept cursing along cheering on all the mothers pushing their little ones in the joggers (I know when I am running it always feels good to hear someone shout Way to go Mom! Or something so I always do it when I see someone pushing a jogger too). Then I see it the 3 mile mark, so off I go as fast as I can both feet getting airborne at the same time (really check out the pic. I am flying). I am a rock star, I am a runner, I am super fast, I hope I get a good race pic, try not to look like you’re dying so you can get a good race pic, and pass these people because they are in the way. All that was going through my mind as I races across the finish line in 32:30. Neal and Scott were waiting for me and told me what a great job I did then we headed off to get some much needed water.
Later I will find out that my chip time was 31.12 which put me at a 10:03 pace. This also means that when I came up to the 1mile mark and they showed my time it was probably closer to a 9min mile and I could have made my PR and goal if I kept going. I should have considered the time it took me to get to the start. Both Neal and Scott did totally awesome, Scott (on the right) ran a 22:33 and Neal (on the Left) did 25:19. I am so proud of them both. We had a great time and I am sure we will run this race again. I need to work on my pacing and not gun it out the start like I keep doing…bad Tracey.

This race is the biggest low mileage race in Kansas City. Because of the warm temps and it being in the middle of winter everyone runs this race, that is also why they have to split up the 5k and 10k to run at different times. There is not much to see on this race, definitely not as cool as I thought it would be. I will run it again every year for the simple fact that it is warm and it falls on or around my birthday. All in all it was a good race and I was happy we did it. I was and am so proud of my hubby, he really kicked it up and had a great time. For someone who hardly ever runs he sure is getting fast. Maybe he is hiding a secret running passion and gets up in the middle of the night to run on the tready, I don’t know but he sure is getting fast. I love you honey and I am soooo proud of you.