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Sunday, February 5, 2012

"A year from now..."

"A year from now, you will wish you had started today"
-Karen Lamb

Well, Karen. I do. 

Following my fairly disappointing debut in the marathon, I decided to do what I can to try and lessen the rumbling beast.

Now, WHAT you may ask is the rumbling beast

My stomach.

Not this kind of cute and cuddly beast.

Definitely not this kind of bad-ass beast.

But, the kind of beast that would cause THIS reaction! 
(I imagine this scuba lego man pooping his pants because he is so scared)

And so, 1 month and 18 days ago I decided to see what this "fad" was all about and went gluten free.

I use "fad" loosely because I am well aware that some people are severely negatively affected by gluten thus for them, this change is much needed. 

However, I would venture to say that the majority of gluten-free-ers (I made that word up just now) are gluten-free for a number of different reasons.

My reason? 

Try ANYTHING to get my stomach to calm down and let me poop normally. If you didn't guess or know, my disappointing marathon debut had much to do with stomach issues and poop stops. 

Tired of being this guy!! 
The blue water splash (when I make it that far) is getting old.

To date, the changes that I have noticed as a result of my new eating habits:

  • Less chronic congestion
  • Less bloating
  • More consistent energy
  • I actually make it to the bathroom more often on runs!
  • I have to use the "bathroom" less often during runs!
  • Weight loss (not necessarily a good thing in my case)
  • More balanced food choices
To use an extremely overused cliche...so far, so good!

The re-spawning of my creativity is a bonus result from this new way of eating as it forces me to be more thoughtful with my nutrient intake. 

In fact, I wish I had started this a year ago...



Monday, October 3, 2011

Race Travel: On a Budget.

First off, what was I thinking driving to San Jose instead of flying? 10 hours in the car vs. a couple of hours on a plane?

Let me tell you, money. It takes a lot of money to travel to races. Yes, sometimes this cost is offset with prize money or travel money provided by the race, etc. but often, it is just straight out of your pocket-so, if you are like me, you try to "budget travel" as much as possible.
Local race + prize money = ideal

This got me to thinking about all the tricks I have learned in my racing-away "career" both pertaining to budget, travel efficiency, and health.

Here is a sampling/list for you and if you have a tip or two-SHARE it!

1) Hit the grocery store BEFORE you hit the road or the air.
- Stock up on snack items so that you don't end up at the point where you are so hungry that anything will do at any price!
- The savings are worth the hassle it can sometimes be to pack your snacks around, plus you won't have to pack them back if you eat them.

2) Priceline it. 
- If the race has no travel budget or I just ask too late, I have had great success with Priceline. Most of the time I spend no more than $55-65 for a 3 or 4-star hotel using their "Name Your Own Price" tool.

*if I it works out to stay with a friend or family, great! Personally, I need the chill time and comfort of a hotel to feel totally prepared and relaxed.

3) If driving, plan out your stops.
- Have you ever stopped for gas, then driven somewhere to grab a sandwich, then hit the road and realize you need to pee!? I have.
- Plan to fill up the gas tank, empty YOUR tank, and grab some food all in one stop if you can. Nowadays, you can usually find a gas station with a Subway attached or near, or if you are lucky a nice deli or coffee shop next door.
- And don't forget to stretch! Your legs, your back, your hips. Work it out! Driving it tough on the body.
My stop at Donner Lake this weekend on the way to San Jose

4) If driving, think position.
- Driving is tough on your body. Especially the hips, lower back, and neck.
- Counteract these negative affects by driving in a neutral position. No leg up on the dashboard, or tucked up underneath you. Roll up a pillow or blanket to tuck behind your lower back and one more to sit on. Or use tennis balls in various positions on your back.
- Utilize your cruise control and keep knees and legs in an even position.
- Most of all: STOP and stretch at regular intervals. I like every two hours-a quick jog around the car or rest area and a few stretches usually do the trick.

5) Hydrate properly.
- I don't know why but this is tough for me when traveling. Either I don't remember in the hassle of traveling or I don't want to have to stop and pee. Don't be an idiot-you are not doing yourself any favors by forgoing proper hydration for a minute or two here and there.
My favorite Nuun flavors


6) Plan your mealtime. 
- If you plan ahead, you can save money. Sites like travelocity.com and urbanspoon.com are great sources to find good local food and will also let you know how much you should plan on spending.
- Look for hotels with continental breakfasts, some of them can be pretty good.

7) Travel with a buddy.
- $60 divided by 2 = $30, need I say more?
- Aside from saving money, it can be fun to travel with a a friend who is also doing the race. Just make sure it isn't someone who will drive you nuts.



8) Take your PT along.
- Okay, don't literally bring them along unless they are willing of course. :)
- Pack your foam roller, your Stick, tennis balls, thera-band, and so on to ward off the stiffness that often accompanies traveling.


9) Wear compression socks.
- It works. Wear compression socks on long car trips and most importantly on flights and your legs will feel ten times better than without them.
- If you don't believe compression works, put it to the test.
I wear compression to race and travel + for the flare. :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Race Week: prep time.

I realized this week how much work goes into staying healthy sometimes. Last week, I started having issues with my SI joint. Friday afternoon, in a slight panic, I called up a chiropractic friend of mine (Dr. Noah Edvalson @ http://www.boisespinecenter.com/) and asked him to see me. He agreed and although I was racing on Saturday, the numbness I was experiencing in my leg was enough for me to break my "no manipulation pre-race day" rule. The mild adjustments did the trick and the shift was enough to relieve some the numbness temporarily.

It was back in full force by Sunday evening as well as knee pain and hamstring spasms so I scheduled an appointment with my miracle worker (Mike Devitt @ http://www.focus-pt.com/) and went in to see him on Tuesday morning. Sure enough, my SI joint was all screwed up and my pelvis was shifted almost 3/4"- as Mike put it, "what makes you a good athlete is how unrestricted the movement in your body is, but that is also your worst enemy". He was able to shift things back into place and I left feeling totally fresh and mobile. Next, I went in to see my massage therapist, Laura, who works wonders with estem on my lower T-spine and worked out the rest of my unhappy muscles.

That evening, when I was doing my neuro-muscular session, I felt like I was gliding and it occurred to me how amazing the body is at compensating. Sometimes you just KNOW something is off, even when you cannot pinpoint what it is because your body is a compensating machine!

It has been a light week but not an off week. Pat (my coach) put it well when he was "reminding" me to lift light this week, "This week is about getting all your normal motions and routines in but going light with the weight and reps to keep your body fresh." My main focus this week has been hydrating, eating well and enough, ice bathing, stretching, and chilling out.

Knowing that I have done everything in my control to set myself up for a good race allows me to let go of all the things I CANNOT control. This gives me an opportunity to use my energy positively instead of the opposite. I can't wait to get on that line on Sunday and for me, the process of getting there makes it worth it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The weekend, a condensed version.

A few Idaho gals
On Saturday morning I woke up ready to roll. After choking down a peanut butter and honey sandwich at 6 am, I went through my pre-race routine. This included, cuddling with my dog for 15 minutes, taking a "poor man's" ice bath for 20 minutes, rolling on tennis balls for 10 minutes and then taking a time-to-wake-up shower. I left the house with a cup of coffee in hand, ready.

True to past experience, the warm up was anything but comfortable as I chatted with myself out loud to let some of my nerves out and talk myself to calm. Sometimes reminding yourself out loud why you run and that, yes, you enjoy it (most of the time) helps to keep things in perspective. Or just makes you look a little crazy and that is fine too.

The Women's Fitness Celebration is the single largest race in Boise. Capitol Boulevard that morning was alive with estrogen and let-it-all-out dance moves. I smiled as I did my drills and strides, the energy was incredible. When the gun went off, my nerves went with it. That is the feeling I live for-the complete control and confidence that comes when you race off the line, perfectly prepared and engaged in YOUR race.

The past week of training had been intense, more mileage and intensity than I had ever done so I knew that I was relying on fitness and strength to get me through the race-not freshness. But I had both and it translated to a race that I was happy with. Not only with the result but most of all with the process of achieving the result. As with every race I have ever run, I over-evaluate the process and find things I could have and should have done differently but isn't that why we keep coming back for more? I believe that the day I stop doing that is the day I stop competing.

my ice bath creek-about 40 degrees
After finishing the race, cooling down and getting in a session of DST (dynamic strength training) I took off to the mountains for my ice bath. Okay, I did not go solely for that purpose but it was a good excuse to get away. Sunday morning's long run at 6700 feet was a perfect recovery and start to the morning-the view wasn't bad either. Another reminder why I love and will always be a runner.


Sawtooth moutains, long run view