Saturday, July 30, 2011

Camp Harborview - Harborthon 5K race recap

The 3rd annual Harborview 5K, supporting Camp Harborview on Boston's Long Island, was this past Thursday. I love this race. I was lucky enough to have friends tell me about it the first year and have returned for the next two. I can't recommend it enough. Now, before everyone looks at the price and freaks out ($45 is normally a lot for a 5K), this is what you get:

  • a race t-shirt, with sizes for men and women! Who doesn't love race t-shirts?!
  • a ferry ride to and from the race from either Long Wharf in Boston or Marina Bay in Quincy.
  • entry to the hilliest, most surprisingly challenging 5K I've done in this area. In about a month I will start saying, "it's hilly, but it's not that bad..." I'm lying, but only because my brain knows I need to believe this so I will sign up the next year. I'll sign up the next year because it's SO MUCH fun!
  • post race food. Runners love free food! The first two years it was catered by Pit Stop BBQ, which was fantastic. This year it was by b.good. I was not sure what to expect, but they had burgers, chicken and veggie burgers with pasta and potato salad and grilled corn on the side. I really like their food. Everything is always really fresh and healthy. Even their burgers are lean.
  • even more than free food, runners love FREE BEER! Harpoon was the sponsor the first two years and Sam Adams was this year. They gave everyone 4 free beer tickets, which is very generous! 1 or 2 tickets is pretty standard. Also (ssssssh!), maybe...I heard...if you ask really nicely if you can have more beer after you have run out of tickets they will say, "what kind would you like?"
  • entertainment! The first two years there was a DJ and that was fun, BUT this year they somehow got Rubix Kube, an awesome 80s cover band to play. Saying they are a band is a bit of an understatement. It's a show with crazy 80s outfits, dancing and awesome personalities.

Did I mention the amazing view and sunset thrown in for free? Beyond all of that, the money went to help fund camp stays for city kids. I can't say the food, beer or entertainment will be the same next year, but I can say they have listened to runners and made improvements every year. Last year they ran out of beer at 8:30 and there was a stampede for the ferries at 9pm. This year they joked about it at the start line and promised it wouldn't happen again. Ha!

Before I get into how I prep for and approach a race, just remember that everyone is different. You need to find what works for you. There is one exception. Don't do anything different on race day! NOTHING! I'm serious. Practice eating your pre-race meal and/or snack ahead of time. That includes what you eat and when you eat it. Don't wear new clothes. Don't even wear clothes you have worked out in, but haven't actually run in. Warm up the same and stretch the same.

To be totally honest, I signed up for this race in May and then forgot about it. I was already seeing my trainer twice a week and running anyway. We were doing sprints and incline workouts so I knew I'd be prepared, even without a specific plan. I was also a little distracted by the excitement of my brother's wedding coming up and for the half marathon. This really isn't the best plan and I was really lucky that what I was already doing worked out well.

The day before the race I make sure I'm not doing too much and I'm careful about what I eat. My stomach is pretty sensitive, especially when I get nervous, so I try and stick with fairly bland food. I had chicken, potatoes and broccoli for dinner. If it's a morning race, I don't have any alcohol since I get dehydrated easily. I've learned that if I am even a teeny bit dehydrated, I get tremendously bad stomach cramps. It's not even a side stitch. It feels more like a hot poker to the gut. Since this was a 6:45pm start, I had one glass of wine with dinner and made sure I drank a lot of water that night.

If I run the day before, I take it easy. The "hay is in the barn" as many runners say. This is not the day for a hard workout. I like to get out there and run just to keep things loose and to be able to stretch my legs when they're really warm at the end (I also stretch after I warm up but before the bulk of my real runs). It also helps me mentally. I'm not really sure why, but I start to get anxious the day before. It's kind of silly since I know I can finish the race and I'm also not in a position to win anything.

The day of the race, I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread about 3 hours (no less than 2 1/2) before the race and drink a lot of water up until the last hour. I can't handle food much closer and I also have to eat low fiber food. No wheat bread on race day! I may have a small snack about an hour before, but I didn't need it this time. I actually like energy gels for this snack. There is no need for a gel during a short race like a 5K, but they work well for me before hand. It's a simple carb that's easy to digest and easy to burn (make sure you have some water with them!). Like I said before, you have to find what works for you. I'll do pretty much anything to avoid a stomach ache.

We were scheduled for the first ferry, which was at 5:30. We live fairly close, but we still left an hour to get out of the house, get to the subway, take the train and then walk down to the wharf. Keep in mind that I am really getting nervous now and will make The Husband double check everything and then juuuuust as we are almost out the door, I will decide I have to pee just one more time. We got there almost a 1/2 hour early, but we could take our time and not stress about missing the boat. Read: I wouldn't take out my anxiety on The Husband by snapping at him. They actually let us board and leave early, so we got to the camp by 5:45 and had an hour to warm up, stretch, check our bag and use the restrooms. One note on restrooms: if you are wondering if you should go again, just go. What's the worst that can happen? You don't need to go? Someone might notice you were just hanging out in there for a minute? On the flip side you can end up running with a full bladder. Or WORSE. The lines were so long before my first half marathon in 2009 that I used the porta-potty and then immediately got back in line to wait again. At the very least it kept me busy so I didn't flip out. Was that too much bathroom talk for you? No? Good. We get a little obsessed with bodily functions in the hour or so before the gun goes off, so you should get used to it!

I found my place at the start line. I felt like I did every other time. Nervous and praying for a breakthrough. The best way to describe this feeling is that it's like diving into the water from a height juuuust a little too high for your comfort level. You know it's safe, you know you can do it and you KNOW it will be fun, but you're a little frozen. Then, you start to lean forward. You try not to think, but you know the only way to do it is to just jump without thinking about it. That second between the lean and the jump is what it feels like. That's the only way I can describe it. It's anticipation and excitement and fear all at the same time. It's the feeling that something absolutely amazing can happen, but the fear that you will waste it. The only hint I had that I would have a breakthrough was something my trainer said before the crazy speed interval workout I did last week when I set the mph lower than we both knew I could handle. "What are you saving it for?"

I was hoping to run under an 11 minute mile (normally it would be sub 10 but this course is a beast), but I know from experience that if I start that far back, I tend to to not push it like I should. I started between the 9 and 10 minute milers knowing that it wouldn't be too fast for me to keep up long enough for it to thin out and for me to evaluate my pace. In the last week or so I had learned that I can really run much faster for much longer, and can deal with more discomfort, than I really had even considered. When I say discomfort I mean the lungs burning, tired legs kind. Please don't run through an injury! I had some muscular aches from an earlier workout that week and knew I'd be fine, but if it was joint or bone pain, or more severe, I'd reconsider. I also forgot my watch, which is funny, because friends have been telling me to stop using it for a while. I haven't been able to push myself while wearing a watch because even if I feel fine running faster, my brain screams YOU DON'T RUN THIS FAST!!! YOU MUST WALK NOW!!!

I'm glad I knew the course and could make a plan. The first mile has 3 steep hills, the third of which is quite long. I knew if I could make it over that last hill without a stomach cramp I could speed up later. I also knew that my #1 biggest enemy is my own negative mental chatter. I've tried replacing it with positive affirmations, power words, ANYTHING and failed. This time I tried just counting my footsteps until I was out of the danger zone. It was perfect. I think it worked for me because it took a decent amount of concentration to run and count that fast. Also, counting is continuous, so there was no chance for the mean monologue to start up again. I came up over the third hill and felt just barely on the safe side of no stomach cramps. Just a little further was mile 1 and the water table. The mile clock said 12 minutes, which I knew was good because it took about a minute for me to get to the line. That put me at about 11 minutes and I knew I had a lot left in me. I also had to re-tie my sneakers. I'm seriously a little crazy about this. They were too loose and I was losing support, but it doesn't take much to make them too tight either. I had relaced 3 or 4 time before the start and had a feeling I wouldn't be happy. I ended up with them a little tighter than I'd like, but it was less annoying than the sliding feeling of before. Off I went! Mile two is out and back. You run a slight downhill and then a gradual uphill for half a mile, and then turn around and run back down and back up. Part of the way back up is mile 2. I felt okay but really tired. I walked for about 10 seconds at the water stop to drink and get my head together and then started running again. I haven't managed to be able to run and drink without getting stomach cramps. If it's cold out, I may even just skip water in the 5K altogether. At this point I was really happy there was only about a mile left! I was now 21 minutes and change in, so I covered mile 2 in about 10:30. Mile 3 was tough. I forgot that the uphill extended further than I remembered and I was dragging. I just started counting again and moving my legs as fast as I could. I wasn't worried about cramps at this point because I knew I had less than 10 minutes to deal with it. Of course I got one immediately! I ran as fast as I could for the last 10th of a mile and saw the clock somewhere around 34 when I finished. My trainer and I both wanted a sub 34 and I was pretty sure when I got my official time from the timing tag it would be. I was already so happy because I accomplished a couple of things. I did not allow negative chatter. I chose to push myself and be uncomfortable to reach a goal. I guessed I beat my best on that course by about 5 minutes and was only short of my PR by about a minute. That PR was on an absolutely flat dirt road and it was cold out (I'm much better in the cold). I ended the race feeling like I couldn't have done more. THAT has NEVER happened!

My official time was 33:38 and a 10:50 pace.

My previous best time on that course was 38:39. I improved by 5:01!

My actual 5K PR is 32:30 under perfect race conditions. The extra minute it took me is fine with me! From the conversations I overheard that night, it seemed in line with how many other people did.

The biggest thing I win is the experience. My trainer has set an attainable, but rather challenging time goal for my half marathon. I now have a much better idea of my ability and the effects of my workouts. Does that mean I always want to workout? No. I almost named this blog Couch Barnacle. Am I taking my sweet time writing this entry because I have a tempo run next on my to do list? Probably...

Check out the link to the race above and the camp. There were many campers at the race that night and you could hear them screaming before the boat even docked. They do this every year. They line up along the dock and high-five and thank every runner that gets off the boat. That's 1200 thank yous and these kids MEAN them! They line up along the course to cheer us on and by cheer, I mean sing, dance, scream, chase you, yell encouragement...they're awesome and so appreciative of us being there. I also appreciate the sponsors and how generous they are. I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two doses of salt water...

3 mile run @ 10 min/mile pace. Then...boat time. Tomorrow is the Camp Harborview 5K!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I forgot a very important step in the melt-proof sweaty runner makeup guide:

Eyeshadow primer! Sheesh...not a hint of a crease from 3pm to midnight and this is the thanks it gets?

Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer. I love it. I put it on after doing the foundation, blush, etc. I'll go ahead and add it to the original post.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Well I warned you...

Oh hey...I thought maybe I'd update at some point this weekend, but since the wedding on Friday, I've pretty much been face-down on the couch in a bagel-coma. But I'm BACK! To give you a recap:

  • workouts
  • the wedding
  • my ammo

The workouts were, to be frank, busted. It was EFFING HOT. I am normally a trooper, but really, it was tough. I ran a little before the wedding. During the wedding I wore my beloved Jimmy Choos (scored on super-sale) and while they were really comfortable from about 4pm to 10pm, I woke up in serious pain on Saturday. I have an old ankle injury that haunts me and I think the angle of the heels were cruel to my legs. I'll get to the injury in my next "about me" post. Anyway, it felt like a burning line up the side of my leg from my ankle bone to my knee. I know this means "cut it the F out for a couple of days, and you'll be fine." My trainer will not be amused when she asks me about my workouts tomorrow. Also will not be amused when I haven't dropped into the next weight "decade" (as in if I weighed 130, which I DON'T, she wants to me to 129...not so much). In the "about me" post, I will get into how I started, what I ran into, and useful advice I can give. Please keep in mind that I am in no way a professional and that you need to consider your own health/fitness and even have your MD check you out before starting a running program. Maybe that sounds excessive, but it's better safe than sorry. Also, if anyone has any questions for me, let me know! Either comment here or if I know you via facebook or email. Like I said, I am not an expert, but I really wish I had someone like me to talk to when I started.

The wedding. It was awesome!

I love my brother and his wife is really pretty awesome. The joke is that I don't really like anyone (not true! I'm just a little suspicious of people, that's all...) so when I said I liked her, I also said MARRY HER! Well, I doubt it was because of me, but he did! Um...also, did anyone notice it was 104 in Plymouth during the big day?! YOWSA. For real...even on the bluff where the wedding was, it was 95 or so. That being said, it was beautiful, the ceremony was great and everyone had a good time. Here are some pictures. No pics of people because I'm not sure how anyone feels about being all-up-in-the-internet.

And ammo. You might wonder how the sweatiest-person-ever survived a 100-or-so degree wedding and looked presentable. Remember, I'm family, so I knew I'd be doing pictures too and I didn't want my brother and future sister-in-law remembering me as "raccoon face."

At the house, it was almost 100. The bedrooms had great AC but the bathroom, the only room with decent lighting? Not so much. I showered and then had my hair done at Verona Salon in Plymouth by Glen, who is not only amazing, but one of the most genuinely nice people I have met! I wish I had more occasions to have updos done. I hear he is great for color and cuts too. I would absolutely see him if I hadn't moved to Boston. After the salon we went back to the house and I concentrated on sitting up straight so I didn't mess up my hair like I did for my own wedding! (Sorry Glen! It was only a flower I messed up, and we fixed it, but it was pretty traumatic.) At that point it was about 2pm and I had 90 minutes until we had to leave. I was teetering between doing the makeup early in case I messed it up and not doing it early so it didn't slide right off my face. I finally started around 3. I have to say, not a thing moved after I applied it. I was amazed. Sweat was beading on my face when I was still at the house, but I just gently blotted with tissue or oil absorbing papers. Here's the routine:

  • I washed with Cetaphil. I am a ProActive convert (after resisting for a long time, claiming it would "kill" my skin. It did not.) but I was afraid my skin would rebel against a tougher clean in the heat.
  • Then I applied the liquid primer that comes with the Bare Escentuals Get Started Kit
  • I then used Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer in Original to make sure NOTHING moved and to smooth everything out.
  • I used the darker of the two powder foundations in the Bare Escentuals kit. I get pretty tan in the summer and really pale in the winter. I bought the kit with fair/fairly light (the darker one) and it works well. It's the lightest of all the kits, but you can use a little more of the "warmth" color that comes with it. I find that the darker kit looked orange on me.
  • After that I use one of the Bare Escentuals/Bare Minerals blushes and then added the warmth on top. Word of warning, you barely need any of the warmth powder to do the job. Usually there is some stuck to the lid when I open it, just a little dusting, and that's all I need. Unlike the foundations where I have to shake some onto the lid, this doesn't need it. I finished with the mineral veil. Both the warmth and veil were in the kit, while the blush was separate. I love this stuff since my testy skin doesn't flip out.
  • EDIT: Almost forgot this one in the original post...Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer. I love it. Don't be afraid to use a decent amount, but make sure it's blended really well. I didn't do a great job the first time and it left a line.
  • After that I used the most amazing eye shadow ever. I had been using a cheaper silver toned eye palette to do a smokey eye, but it made me crazy. The smudging and the non-blending and the smudging and the crap in my eyes and DID I MENTION THE SMUDGING EVERYWHERE? And it wasn't CHEAP, it was just cheapER. I had a make-up meltdown every time we went out and was usually still dabbing my runny eyes in the cab on the way to where ever. That was until one day in Sephora (okay, last Monday...) my brain whispered, "Diorrrrrr......gooooo." Listen. I know it is a $59 compact, but I did my makeup in five, FIVE, minutes on Thursday to test it out in the heat and it was perfect. Butterflies in my stomach perfect. Would now be a good time to mention I'm pretty terrible at applying make-up? It doesn't matter because this compact is a game changer.
  • I curled my eyelashes and used the Fresh Supernova Mascara. It is not waterproof, because my eyes can't deal with it. However, it didn't smudge or run despite the surface of the sun temps that day. It's super gentle, but works better than anything I've tried, gentle or not.
  • I used my very favorite lip gloss, by Fresh, that Sephora no longer carries. I'm going to use their link anyway, since the site for Fresh can be a little testy. You may be able to order it from Sephora (it's not in stores) or from Fresh. I love the Pin Up color. I can't find anything else that has a color that works as well on me.

That's it! All I needed was my spanx (ha!), my magic dress and I was ready to go! You still awake? Ok, good. Remember. Find me with any questions you have. There are no silly or stupid ones!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well there was this one workout...

I didn't really plan on talking about today's workout with my personal trainer. I see her twice a week at my gym. One workout is usually mostly weights with some cardio to keep my heart rate up and the other is usually a little more cardio heavy and boot camp style sets. Also, probably a million lunges. Maybe a million trillion. If it's a special day I even get to hold one of those unstable weighted rods over my head and do walking lunges. Yay!

Anyway, I knew I was in for it when we went to the stairs. The stairs mean a most certain close to death experience (trainer says I exaggerate). Upstairs where I meet up with her is happy weight lifting land. The worst that can happen is that my cardio torture of choice involves the step-mill in 3 minute increments. DOWNstairs is where all the cardio equipment is. It usually means I do a lot of work on the treadmill including my favorite "run as fast as you can at a 15% incline." Do people actually RUN on that setting? My run speed at that incline is too slow for me to run on a flat surface. Last week I realized that when she heads for the stairs, I actually start leaning to the right as if my leaning will have some sort of magical gravitational pull and stop the madness (this never works).

As we walk down she stairs, she starts talking about the training plan I sent her that I was planning on using for the half marathon. She's going to revise it to be more tailored to me and the course. She also started talking about speed/interval training and the fact that I get really anxious about it and tend to get so far into my head I don't/can't/won't push myself. That was when I realized what we were doing today:

INTERVAL TRAINING. 50 minutes. No breaks. No walking. No crying. Throwing up is optional and tolerated. I was already starting to sweat.

In the end it was a fantastic workout and a big part of it was pushing past an emotional point I hadn't even touched before. The workout was:

400 (meters, or a 1/4 mile), 400, 800, 800, 400, 400, 800, 800, 400, 400. I did not get to stop until I was completely through with the set. My rest was, for the first 4 repeats, a slow jog that was half the time of the preceding interval. The rest of the intervals I had the same time the interval took and walked it at a 15% incline. I insisted this wasn't a rest, but I was vetoed. My first 400 (1/4 mile) took 2 minutes so I had a 1 min jog as a rest.  The second 400 was much harder, the 800 felt impossible and the second 800 literally almost had me in tears. I had no idea why. It just felt so overwhelming. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I hadn't worked so hard on my own ever and I was finding I really could. Your mentality is sometimes 90% of the game. In some cases it's ALL of it. I started my intervals at 7.5mph and dropped to about 6.8 by the end of the second 800. I ended up around 6.3mph by the end of the last 800, but finished my last two 400s at 7mph and 7.5mph. This is fast for me! My best official 5K pace is a 10:30 mile and I guess thats somewhere around 5.8mph? Beyond the physical workouts, I'm really working on not being such a whiner and having a more positive can-do attitude starting out. Also, my trainer is awesome. Not just in workouts, but the fact that she really gets me mentally and knows how to make things happen.

I left happy but feeling like complete rubber. I was also battling the voice of, "yeah that's great but you were such a baby about it. Why can't you just suck it up? Be a big girl. Stop worrying." I need to send that voice an eviction notice!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In other news...

I am on vacation until August! My brother is getting married on Friday (YAY)! Posting may will be more sporadic and not include a lot about structured workouts for the next week or so. However, it MAY include a recount of an epic, post-cocktails struggle with spanx. In which I probably won't win...

Salt water

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea."   ~ Isak Dinesen

This quote was one of the first things I thought of when The Husband referred to me as a salty runner the other day. Running really can cure some problems. Sometimes you never know what things really look like until you take yourself far enough away from it. Then, some days I feel like everything will be better if I can float in the ocean for a bit. Okay, I feel like that every day.

Monday, July 18, 2011

And so it begins...

After spending months agonizing over a name and delaying the start of this blog, I finally figured it out. Salty runner. While you could assume it has to do with the fact that I sweat more than any boy I know (over-share already! BONUS!), it's not exactly. I'm a "mad-face" runner. I look like I have sidewalk rage.  Any time someone spots me doing my scowl-trot I later hear, "hey, I saw you out running!" and I say, "why didn't you say 'Hi' to me?!" I always get some version of "you didn't see me and you looked REALLY mad. Like, punch-me-in-the-face really mad...were you going to beat someone up?"

I'm not mad, people. This is just what my face looks like

After there were 3 attempted kidnappings near where I run in the middle of the day last summer, the husband reassured me, "no one is going to try to kidnap you while you are running. You look way too salty to mess with." Salty as in personality. As in cranky. As in part of the reason I love to live here is just to complain about the weather. (Today is too hot)

The idea for this blog mainly started with me wanting to write a running blog. Honestly, it will probably end up being about my daily life, of which running is a big part of. I'm starting today since it is day one of training for the B.A.A. Half Marathon. I started off with a bang by forgetting to eat breakfast, getting my butt kicked by my trainer and almost barfing in the gym's shower. Pretty par-for-course.