Monday, December 28, 2015

Honolulu Marathon 2015 Race Report

In many ways, the Philly full became my last long run for Honolulu. With the holiday projects time schedule condensed due to the trip, I knew it was going to be the case. So going into my last race of the year, I didn't have much expectations other than to finish. Plus, I was a bit burned out from everything, and I was just looking forward to getting away and visiting my friends who left the fast paced life of NYC for the slower island time. I realized that I had let my fitness slip, and in all honesty, it was okay because my main focus was to enjoy my first vacation in about 6 years. The Honolulu marathon just happened to be part of the itinerary.


The first two days were spent wandering the island and catching up with friends. When we landed, Shiho picked us up from the airport, and we were welcomed with fresh leis. We were ushered to her apartment where she and Ronnie had set up a delicious backyard BBQ. (The backyard was more like a Japanese garden complete with pond, temple-like structures and wandering wildlife!) The twelve hour flight made us hungry, so we really appreciated the home cooked dinner of burgers and Hawaiian punch. I was also very happy to see Daniel, whom I have not seen since forever. (By the end of the night, I was delirious because I was up for a total of 24+ hours with only a 2 hour nap during the second leg of the flight.) After dinner, we all took a joy ride to drop Daniel off at his military hotel.

With Daniel, Chris, Ronnie, Shiho and lil' Levie.
Daniel has actually run 5 marathons himself!

The next day, the only "must do" on my list was bib pick up. So Shiho, Ronnie, Chris and I went to the expo, but not before we were able to get a dozen fresh, hot malasadas for breakfast! The expo was super fun! Probably one of the most enjoyable ones because the exhibitors were really enthusiastic. (I swear it's like a Japanese thing, but it made sense because it was sponsored by JAL.) We all took photos with the mascots, and received free prints. There were place to write signs, and the three non-runners wrote funny messages to me and the booth vendors took photos.

Marathon Expo time!

We each received a print of this pic. Kinda cool to share in the excitement!

After all that, we headed to the mall where Chris and I were to do a little last minute search of clothing to wear for our scheduled photo shoot. (I booked a shoot for the day since we were also celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary.) Shiho drove us to our shoot, and waited for us, something which we were really thankful for, and then we met up with Daniel and caught the Friday night fireworks at the beach. Afterwards we had dinner, and called it a night.

Photo by Daniel.

The day before the marathon, we went on an early morning hike at the Makapu'u Summit. It was a very short two mile hike, and we caught a beautiful sunrise since it was out on the east side of the island. (Actually, all the sunrises and sunsets were indescribably beautiful.) The views were just incredible! After the hike, we headed back to the apartment and enjoyed a few laps in the pool. Shiho, knowing I was thinking of spam musubi, actually made us a spam musubi lunch poolside. (If you ever go to Oahu, there are several things that you must eat, and this is one of them! And of course, malasadas! And shaved ice... and loco moco... and kailua pig... omg just eat all the things! Seriously!)

Views on the Trail to Makapu'u Summit

During lunch, I finally connected with my airbnb host, who gave me the access code to the condo we would be staying in during the next few days. By that time, it was already late afternoon, so we decided on dinner. Daniel made a valiant effort to find us an Italian joint to help me with carbo loading, but alas, everyone had the same idea, (we're talking 3 hour wait!) so we ended up in Chinatown, which was a delicious, and more time-sensible alternative. Right before dinner, we drove up to the Punchbowl Cemetery, which had some more amazing views of the island.

After dinner, Shiho drove us to our condo, and we hugged and parted ways for the weekend. I immediately unpacked and spread out my gear, set up breakfast, and set my three alarms for a 3am wake up call. Bedtime was 10am, but with all the excitement I really didn't get a good night's sleep. (I mean, come on, I'm in Honolulu!)

The alarm came fast, I got up, downed a couple of King's Hawaiian rolls with some amazing coconut peanut butter that Shiho gave me. (So sad they confiscated my stash at the airport! Apparently peanut butter counts as cream!...) Downed a cup of coffee on the balcony where I could see tiny specks of runners heading towards the Zoo where the shuttles were. At 3:20, I grabbed a banana, and headed out the door. Once I walked out the elevator, I just headed east and followed the steady stream of runners. Found the shortest possible line and queued up for the ten minute bus ride to the start. I could have walked it, but the fact that I already hiked and swam the day before, adding an additional two miles may have been pushing it.

When I arrived to the start, I started looking for FB folks who said they were running. Some of the 50 staters members said they were going to meet up in a certain area, so I waited for them figuring I could introduce myself to folks I sorta talked to during the past several months. But long story short, the meet up was awkward as hell. The person that set up the meet up neglected to mention that the folks he was referring to were Marathon Maniacs even though he posted in the 50 states group, and since I wasn't a member, I just slowly moved along as they all gathered for a group pic. (I tried to strike up a convo with someone else since the main guy who set up the meet up pretty much just blew me off.) After shaking that weird encounter off, I found my way to the porta potties. When I got on line, I saw that they separated the men and women stalls. At first I thought that would suck, but there were 3x as many stalls for women than there were for men. I'm telling you it was a game changer!

Not even a five minute wait! Other marathons should take note!

Finally, it was go time. Someone sang the national anthem, then I guess it was the Japanese anthem. Did I mention there were a LOT of Japanese people who flew in to run this thing? And I'm talking ALL ages. Kids, seniors with walking canes and wheel chairs, you name it they were there! Then at 5am the horns blasted, and the fireworks started, and off we went! Let me tell you, running under fireworks gets your heart racing!

The first several miles were in town. It felt really warm and muggy, and I did my best to move along. Starting temps were at 72ยบ. It went through Ala Moana (shopping district), and the Downtown Honolulu area, and there was this stretch that had a lot of Christmas decorations. Then the route made a U turn and we headed back east, along the main stretch towards Waikiki. I was half hoping to see Chris there, but heck it was crazy early. I don't even think he tracked me this time around. Finally around mile 6 we were back at the zoo and headed towards Diamond Head where the first major uphill came near the volcano crater. For some reason, I started to develop a blister as well, and decided against checking it out until later on if it got too bad. Anyway, the steady rise was met with a lot of slow runners. With the course taking up only one side of the highway, there was really no point in trying to run since everyone around me just walked. I looked at the people next to me and I was literally walking as fast as they were trying to run uphill. So, I took in the pre-dawn beauty of the crater, the beautiful clear sky with twinkling planets afar, and the gorgeous coastline and rocky shore. (I'm telling you, I had several moments where I saw so much beauty I wanted to cry.) Earlier before the uphill, I stopped for vaseline when I started to feel the blister, but since I decided not to check it out, smeared it on my leg in hopes of using it later. Bad idea. The entire thing melted and left a greasy river of vaseline juice down my leg. Then I guess because of how slippery everything was, I ended up dropping my phone. Some runner dude came up beside me and asked me if I had dropped it. I didn't even notice! Totally owed him everything because my phone was like, my only connection to anything! (Thank you, fellow runner dude!)

Daybreak around miles 8ish and 10ish.

Around mile 10, the route opens up again to a lot of the suburban parts of the area. Lots of beautiful homes on steep mountains. I saw my first glimpse of the eastern sunrise, and even on the road, it was just breathtaking. Stopped several times to snap some sunrise photos. After another couple of miles, I realize that it was getting warm. Like, really warm. At this point, I knew it was just a matter of time before things get crazy. I hadn't run in this type of weather since August. I also didn't put on sunscreen, figuring I would be done before noon. That decision would come back to burn me. Literally.

Unintended mantra on the left that was repeated in my head:
East Halemaumau, where the f*cks the turnaround?

Inland waterway

Around mile 15 the sun was fairly high in the sky, and it started getting HOT. By the time I reached the inland waterway (where I stopped and waited for the photo station person for a beautiful inland waterway photo), I knew I was in trouble. I was getting that familiar feeling of not wanting anything in my stomach, and started getting a cup of gatorade to drink at every stop, as well as one cup of water to throw down my back and neck. I felt myself overheat, and I did what I could to stop it. The water sponges were not enough. I thought there would be more water sprinklers, but apparently there were only people who lived along the route who would turn on their hoses for relief. The stretch from mile 18-24 really provided almost no relief whatsoever as it was mainly highway. There were a few areas where people had open bags of ice. I grabbed a few and stuffed it down my shirt. (At this point there was no shame in my game.) I recall passing a lot of folks sitting on the side walking as close to the walls as possible to cover themselves from the sun. Some lady must have fainted and face planted, and may have knocked some of her teeth out. She was being helped by some volunteers off the course, but not before leaving a bloody, gutted mess to run around. There were a few people in tents lying down on stretchers downed by the heat. I felt my left shoulder and ear burning, but couldn't do much but just continue. And as much as I wanted to run this portion of the course, my self-preservation mode kicked in. I felt my head and neck overheat, so I just walked as fast as I could, and slowed at the aid stations to cool down. I knew it was tough when I saw people running 3-4 hour paces were stopping and walking.

Around mile 15-16ish? Garmin wasn't fully charged so it died early.

Literally a hot mess at around 18.

I fought thoughts of running straight into the ocean.

21-22? But seriously, the views!

Finally, the familiar surroundings of Diamond Head came back into view. I sped up as much as my blister would allow and painfully wound my way back down the side of the crater, and half walked half shuffled my way to the finish. There was a water cool down station set up after the finish, and I cooled down and got my medal. Then hobbled over to get my malasada and finisher's shirt. Once I found a cool spot under a tree, I took my socks off and found a gigantic bloody blister under my left arch. (Lovely, I know. But I was actually kinda proud it didn't burst!) Texted Chris and told him to bring some towels and come collect me. After we met up, we headed directly over to this little beach nearby called Kaimana Beach where I took a ten minute dip in the ocean to cool down. That was probably the best post race soak ever!

An actual race pic that I don't hate.

Will run for donuts! (Malasadas, in this case!)

Beats an ice bath any day!

All in all, it was a pretty but tough course. It was my third slowest marathon on record, the first time in years that I clocked over the six hour mark. But that doesn't even matter because it's not like I was here to prove anything. I reached my goal of completing my 8th full, 6th state, and did it while enjoying the view. I mean, what a way to see the island! Can't beat that!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

I went into this race undertrained, and completely relying on my base. And I knew in my mind that it was going to be tough. I expected it to be.

The training cycle I had for Chicago was in many ways, perfect. I had a complete handle on my nutrition, my cross training was on point, and I attacked almost all of my training runs with vigor. I lost those last 5lbs, and peaked just at the right time, proving to the skeptics that it was possible to drop an insane amount of time off my PR...

But that was one year ago, and a lot changed. Life changed, and there was no way around a lot of those personal curve balls that where thrown this way.

I am not going to say I am disappointed at my outcome for Philly, because there is no reason to be. I ended up running my second fastest time ever in a full. It was a tough course with a lot of turnaround, out and back points that are mentally challenging. And throw in the perfect storm of my cycle hitting, I managed to keep realistic expectations and not let my ego get in the way. 

Took a 2-hour bus into town and arrived at noon. The only thing on the agenda was bib pick up, hotel check in, and locate bagel/banana/PB for the morning. Everything was centrally located. Bus dropped me off across the street from the hotel. I was able to check in early and drop my stuff off. Met up with M and S, and had a fantastic lunch at Good Dog Bar, this really quaint and cozy pub place that was a five minute walk from the hotel. Afterwards, we headed to the convention center for packet pick up. (Expo was one block away from the hotel.) We went in, took a few pics, grabbed my bib and free tee and goodie bag, and left. This is the first time I didn't do a walk through of the expo, but the usual suspects were there selling the usual gear with the usual discounts. I'm sure I didn't miss anything.

After the expo, we headed back up to my room where we chilled for a bit before heading back out in search of bananas and PB. S lead the way to Reading Terminal, (which was on the same block as the hotel). Got a couple of bananas, a bagel, and declined waiting on line for Beiler's Donuts, (a decision that I would end up regretting because the place is closed on Sundays). Then headed out in search of PB packets, and walked a bit to see the Liberty bell before dinner. 

Dinner was at a BBQ joint called Smoking Bettys. I had a Turducken burger of all things, and half a glass of beer. After dinner,  we walked back to the hotel, exchanged hugs  and parted ways. Set my alarm clocks, laid out my gear and went to sleep.

It's almost a given that sleep is fleeting on race day. I had an anxiety dream of being in a cab and getting stuck in traffic on the way to the start and didn't make it by the 7an start. Woke up with one minute to spare before the two alarms went off. Turned on the light and made coffee. Got dressed, forced down the now hard bagel and a glob of PB and took a banana with me. Walked out the hotel, and just followed the steady stream of runners heading in one direction. (This is one thing I love about bigger races. Just follow the crowd!)

The first security check point was insanely long, but after the cops pointed out several check points a bit further, I was able to get through fairly quickly by walking a bit longer. What I didn't find very efficient was that they let in spectators in the start, so runners were on line alongside family members carrying all sorts of stuff like blankets, bikes, and chairs. Also, the signage wasn't very clear. In Chicago they had huge letter signs to let you know where the corrals were, and in NYC they had tons of volunteers and signage to point you in the direction of your wave/corral start. Philly's corral markers were these banners that flapped in the wind. It had arrows, so it was a bit confusing when the wind kicked up. Pre-race water was offered, but there were no signs pointing to where it was, so I felt like there was a lot of wandering right before lining up in the corrals. The race started late due to a vehicle accident along the course, but once it was cleared up, the race started without incident.

The first several miles were pretty nice albeit I was too cold for comfort. I enjoyed the crowds, and going through familiar parts of the city, but I was kicking myself for not bringing my windbreaker and gloves, because even though it was in the low 50s, the wind was a bit much. I probably spent the first half thinking of whether or not to pick up gloves that were ditched by other runners.

The first 6 miles were going well.  I gauged myself and felt good even though I knew I was going faster than I liked just to try and keep warm. But just after the 10k mark, the perfect storm hit to derail the run. The wind coming off the bridge, the first major hill near Drexel University, and my period hitting with full force, pretty much knocked whatever momentum I had been building. I can feel the energy drain out, and struggled from that point on. Popped a couple of Tylenol to keep the cramps at bay.

By mile 9 I knew I was in serious trouble. I had left the downtown area to wide open park space. The wind kept blowing, and I kept looking from side to side to see if anyone dropped a windbreaker type shell that I could pick up. I knew I was spending a lot of energy trying to stay warm, and I couldn't put down enough fuel to offset that energy drain. Mile 11 to 13 I diverted my attention to other runners on the road, knowing a good number of them were almost done. I knew the hardest part of the race would come once all the half-marathoners left the course, and I turned left to continue on.

The halfway point was a bit of a welcome with all the spectators back at the art museum. But heading into mile 15 was quiet, which I didn't mind. I did mind that headwind coming off the river, and continued once again to scan the sides for dropped gloves and a light shirt, but no such luck. Interestingly though, there were a lot of discarded fuel belts. But by this time, I was doing a lot of walking and shuffling, and I was feeling very lightheaded.

At mile 16.5ish, my friend H (whom I had the pleasure of running Chicago with) comes out of nowhere and got me out of the head fog I was experiencing. She pulled me back into the present by her surprise visit, and pointed to a couple of other NYers that ran Chicago. Familiar faces were much welcomed at that point. She ran a few steps with me and gave me half a banana and some words of encouragement. I asked her if that bridge up ahead was the turnaround point, knowing full well it wasn't, and she lied to me gently telling me yes, it was right up ahead. (I don't know who decided the layout of this particular part of the course, but it was the most hated portion with a bridge crossing, and then this weird L loop thing.) At mile 18, I knew I had hit the proverbial wall. And even with my mind screaming at me to just put down some calories, my body was revolting against it. I just kept drinking water and Gatorade. (Last time I drank this much Gatorade on a course was my first marathon!)

From the several 20 mile runs I did over the summer, I knew if I hit that point in 4 hours, I would be in good shape. I crossed the 20 mile mark a minute and change slower, and allowed myself to relax because I knew at that point, no matter what, I would reach my B goal. When I saw the Manayunk turn around, (the very last turn around point), I had a moment. My stores were depleted, and I was overcome with emotion, and fought back tears because I knew I was going to finish my 7th full no matter what.

Miles 20 to 25 was a slow, quiet and windy march back to the art museum. So unfair that the headwind wasn't a tailwind on the way back. There were a few pockets of spectators, and a few aid stations, but mostly it was a silent, existential journey to the finish. I enjoyed the simultaneous moments of solitude, coupled with the sounds of heavy treading and breathing of those around me. At some point I saw runners who had already completed their races, and realized that the medals around their necks made noises! The bell rang! That gave me a bit of mental energy, and I was able to smile my way to the finish. The very last person I interacted with was the photographer at mile 25. And I thought at first, wow that's messed up that they would put them there. But then I realized, it was mile 25! This is it! I tried to straighten up and shuffled my way and mugged for the camera, and thanked the photog as I passed. He said good job, and gave me a high five.

I tried to run as much as possible for the last mile. The park view became familiar again as the art museum came into view. I knew from my corral start where the 26 mile marker was, and booked it as much as I could to the finish. My garmin died with a mile to go, so I'm not really sure what that last split was, but I know from all my previous finishes that I tend to drop a fast last split from a last kick. (Of course, fast is a relative term at this point. Probably was doing 12min/mi for that last mile.)

As I crossed the finish line, I high fived the mayor, and let out a huge cry of relief. I don't ever want this feeling to go away, being able to set a goal and reach it. It was strangely satisfying knowing that I was able to tough it out under less than optimal conditions. I walked towards a volunteer who put a medal around my neck, then skipped all the post race refreshments save a couple cups of Gatorade. Then walked another mile or so back to the hotel where I had to pack and shower quickly to make the late check out.

H offered me a ride back to NYC, for which I was grateful. I stopped by the Reading Terminal before meeting up with her in hopes of a celebratory donut, which didn't happen. I was so hungry I just got on the first line I saw, and ordered what was there. (It happened to be a delicious Jambalaya bowl with spicy chicken and andouille sausage gumbo.) Met up with her and the NYC crew, and hung out a bit while they grabbed Jim's cheesesteaks. (They were nice enough to grab me one for the road as well...)

I think if my monthly visitor didn't show up, and I had a better second half of training, I would've been able to come close to my A Goal of PRing. But given all the challenges from late October on, I am quite content with the sub 5:30 outcome. All in all, it was a fantastic race weekend, and despite the training and race itself, everything was perfect. Philly definitely showed its brotherly love to this runner!

Official Time

Splits from the Garmin before it died

Mile 25

Mayoral High Five

All for this medal!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Best Electrolyte Product Ever!

Okay, I wanna share something awesome. If you want electrolytes without any fizz or flavor, you need to try this! As much as I like Nuun electrolyte tabs, sometimes I just don't want anything other than the taste of water because of the aftertaste. 

My 20 mile training run for Philadelphia and Honolulu marathons.

Today I did my 20 miler using these Elete electrolyte drops, and I did not have any muscle twitching or threats of cramping. (And this is like, after 4 weeks of minimal distance thanks to the husband's new work schedule, which pretty much canceled out whatever morning running time I had. But I digress...)

The Elete drops makes the water tastes a tiny bit salty, (kinda like filtered water that's been running over minerally rocks or something) but that's it. The eye drop sized bottle is small enough to fit in any Nathan handheld bottle pouch. And this small size is only ~$7 and makes twenty 16 oz servings. Plus they have bigger refill sizes so you can just refill the dropper bottle. (I just bought the tiny bottle to test out first.) I realized that yesterday was the first time I ran a 20 miler without feeling physically nauseated at 18 miles in! The plain saltiness is a nice counter too all the sweet gels and stuff.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Trail Race in NYC? Sure!

I told myself I was going to take July off after a relatively intense (for me) racing schedule for the first half of the year. Ten races down, 4 new PRs. I've improved a lot, and am proud of the hard work I put in. (I've made my way from 13mi/m to about a 9:30mi/m.) I know it's time to take a short break to regroup before I start ramping back up for Philly and Honolulu. But after finding an inaugural trail 5k in NYC, I signed up with my sis. It'll be the only one for July! No time expectations. I am running this one for fun!

Worked hard for this! My first official sub 30 5K!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap

I feel like I am at a point in my running life, that I am finally getting to be good. Yesterday's race proved that point where I am capable of bigger challenges than I can imagine. It may sound dramatic, but it isn't. And part of me just thinks that it's because I never really tried hard enough, that I coasted through my life being just "good enough," (just because someone validated that in me a long time ago, and it sort of became my identity).

Anyway, the Airbnb Brooklyn Half was probably my most anticipated half. I love it because it is local, and because it is familiar. And it was the only half that I ran pregnant (before I knew I was), and it is also where I PRed last year. Having come off of a banner year last year, and being fairly inconsistent in training this year since Fred Lebow in January, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have it in me to PR again, even though it was my ultimate goal. There is no other option than to give it my best no matter what.

And I believe I did.

Even though it was not run in an ideal pace or ideal weather, I pulled off a PR by close to 1:58. New PR now stands at 2:16:30.

I think if I controlled my excitement I would have probably faired better. But considering the (relatively) blazing fast pace I was going in the first half, (and knowing I would pay dearly during the second), I can't help but be proud of the mental toughness it took to accomplish this, and to be able to now dip below a 10:00mi/m regularly. I've only dreamed of this a few years ago.

The race started off with a bang. I took a Hammer gel right beforehand, and it added to the adrenaline I had in the tank. As much as I tried to pull back, I couldn't contain the energy, and ran a couple of sub 10 miles. Right after I passed the 5K mark, it started to drizzle, which was a bit of a welcome because it was getting pretty humid. Having sipped at the bottle throughout the entire way over, I made my first refill at the 3.5 mark, and proceeded the long ascending back portion of Prospect Park, which always taxed me mentally. I've only ran up the entire back portion without stopping, and that was with Kavin, whom I trained with during weekends. Right around that time I thought I saw him in front.

Also right around that time, the drizzle became steady rain, and it started to really come down. It messed with me, and I was pissed. I tried to put my headphones on, but the rain made it hard. So I said screw it and just ran pissed. Perhaps it was because I just wanted to get through that portion of the route, but I actually made it to the top of the hill near Eastern Parkway/Grand Army Plaza in good time. I realized that I was still going a bit fast, so I tried to follow someone who was running a steady 10:15, since that seemed to be what I was feeling at the time.

After looping around, I took my second gel thinking it was a good time even though my stomach didn't want it. (I realize I never really want the gels, but my legs appreciate it.) The sugar kicked in just in time for the down hill 7th and 8th miles, and against better judgment, I just flew. I knew I was going to get in trouble, but somehow I just wanted to push.

By mile 9, I knew I was in trouble. I had one more gel left, and I wanted to save it for after 10, and I also needed a water refill so I stopped. And that was when the wheels started falling off slowly. The familiar twinge of cramps started to show itself. Somewhere around 9-10 I saw a fellow runner down being tended to by paramedics. (Kavin said he saw them performing chest compressions, so I hope he is okay.) Distracted, I stepped on a pothole and almost twisted my ankle, but by then I knew it was going to be a long struggle to the finish.

I downed my last gel around Avenue S, right after the 10th mile and hoped that going a bit slower would keep the cramps at bay. I knew I had enough time in the bank, so to speak, so even if I had a couple of miles over 10:38 that I would probably still PR, though I was getting nervous it wouldn't be. I just kept willing myself forward until I saw the familiar overpasses.

But everything from mile 10 on was a struggle. My stomach didn't want that last gel. My left shin started twinging. My right toes started cramping. (I don't even know how toes can cramp up like that but they did.) I just kept moving forward.

Mile 12 was hard. Everything hit me at once, but knowing I was so close, I did my best to ignore the pain and nausea setting in. (I really could've used some chew to distract myself, but just started playing counting games to run/walk.) Tried not to panic when I saw I ran it at 11:02, and clicked the garmin to distance so I would stop paying attention to pace.

After the last overpass, (thank goodness we did a 10 miler a couple weeks ago so I remembered that there were three of them), I knew it was about a 1200 length before the last turn onto the boardwalk. I tried to keep as steady a pace as possible just to inch forward.

I heard someone behind me ask, "What does 800m mean?" Someone else answered back, "that means we have about half a mile left." I half turned and looked, and saw that it was the 2:15 pacer and her running group! At that point, I tried in vain to just keep up with them, but the sudden burst of speed made my right toes completely cramp up that I hobbled. I couldn't believe it! 2:15! I wanted to just glide with them, but it wasn't meant to be. The last 400m was probably the most I've ever struggled to the finish. My toes just curled and locked up, and each step forward caused pain to shoot down the back of my left leg. But somehow I just kept going until I reached the finish.

I could have cried, but quite honestly, I was just so relieved and exhausted. I really left everything out there on the course, and for that I am extremely proud.

I grabbed my hard earned medal, apple and a mylar sheet, and headed over to the MCU Stadium, which served as the family reunion area. Walked in and found a patch of astroturf in the outfield to stretch out on, and looked up my live results to confirm my new PR. At the stadium, I met up with Kavin, and while waiting for Chris and Anna, bumped into a friend, whom it was his first half. (Automatic PR!) Kavin and I discussed our performance, and were both really relieved that that was over. Finally, Chris and Anna made their way over, and we took pics inside the minor league stadium before heading to get some Nathan's hot dogs.

I'm proud of everyone that ran. Chris literally only ran 2 miles this entire year (even though we walked a good amount during the weekends), and was able to run/walk his way to the finish. Many would say that is insane, but somehow his confidence of being able to complete things, is something to be admired. Anna was sick the day before, and slept pretty much the entire day. She was dizzy and didn't eat, (only had 2 Ensures), and was still only 50/50 by 11pm, so for her to complete a half in sub optimal conditions was a monumental feat. It's safe to say that all of us earned our medals (and hot dogs)!

New Half PR ~ 2:16:30

Brian's first half. Automatic PR!

Nathan's. Best hot dogs, ever!

These are all special to me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

La Isla vs Moving Comfort: Bra Review and Comparison

As a well-endowed woman and runner, it is often hard to find bras that hold up well to running and working out. Once I find a brand that works, I tend to just stick to it until I can find something tried and true as an alternative.

Prior to finding a single bra that worked for speed work, long distances and working out, I had to double up on bras just to minimize the bouncing. And anyone who has ever done this can tell you how utterly annoying it is. Strapping on two bras, and then having to peel them both off after a sweaty run, is just frustrating and time-consuming.

In the case of being a 34DD bra size, the Moving Comfort Fiona style bra has been a savior. The wide shoulder straps with adjustable velcro, and comfortable wire-free band around the torso, is a saving grace. I love just about everything about Moving Comfort. Well, everything except the price. The Fiona bra from Moving Comfort retails around $46 per bra. On a few rare occasions I am able to find them on sale, but 34DD sizes run out quick! I snooze, I lose. And now that I am a SAHM with limited income, the means to continue running, and making sure I have appropriate gear is even more important.

So, when someone mentioned to me about a brand called La Isla being a carbon copy at a way lesser price, I had to give it a try. I purchased the La Isla Women's High Impact Wire Free sports bra for about $19, since it seems like the closest thing to the Fiona. When it arrived two days later (thanks to Amazon Prime), I put them side by side for a photo comparison:

Top is the brand new La Isla, and bottom is the well-worn Moving Comfort Fiona.

As you can see, it looks pretty darn similar. The only real difference (besides the fact that one is new and one is in dire need of retirement) is that the inside lining is white in the Moving Comfort brand, and completely monotone in the La Isla. Both have inch-long velcro tabs that are adjustable. Both offer three hooks and loops on the back. Both are lined with the same meshy moisture wicking material inside. The differences between the two are slight. The collar area in the front is slightly wider in the Moving Comfort, and the La Isla shoulder straps are about 1/4" wider. The Moving Comfort band around the torso seems to be a smidgen thicker. And the La Isla care tags inside is long (3") where as the Moving Comfort is sort of the normal 1" square tags that most clothing have. (I'd probably snip it off.) In terms of fit, they both fit the same, (taking into account that the La Isla bra feels the same as when the Moving Comfort was new). 

So fit is one thing. How well did it work for a run and a high intensity workout? Being that this arrived on a cross training day, I tested it out with this awesome HIIT workout, which put the bra to work immediately with dreaded burpees. And I did notice a little movement, but not enough to distract me from the workout.
Gave it a rinse, and let it air dry, and two days later took it out for an 8 mile run (in preparation for the Brooklyn Half coming up). And I gotta say I did not notice my boobs, which is awesome! The boobs were secure, and the run was fantastic. And at $19, I am completely satisfied with the La Isla bra, and totally psyched that I'm not shelling out more money than I have to. (By the way, if this review helped you, please feel free to use the above links to purchase the bras reviewed. Did I mention that I am a SAHM with very limited income?) 

I also purchased a racer back style bra from La Isla, and will test that out as well in a future run, but for now, I am pretty excited that this new one fits so I can rotate out the old Moving Comfort. I'm pretty sure this will be the bra for my PR chase in a few weeks!

*Update: The racer back style sucked. The girls don't sit right in the cups/shelf area, and there is just way too much bounce going on. Also, it looks like La Isla stopped making the exact version of the MC, but links are updated with what seems to be the most recent version. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

More Half Recap

Word of advice (to myself): Don't take a five hour energy shot right before a half.

I can hear the voices now, "nothing new on race day!" And yet, I decided to throw caution into the wind and just do something I thought would help enhance my race because I lacked proper rest the night before. Talk about stupid. You'd think that with all the time I've run before, that I would not make such a rookie mistake, but oh well. It happens.

The night before, I took Mac over to my mom's place, and stayed over. Chris had a softball game early in the morning at the same time as my race, so this arrangement for my mom to watch her, works out. My sis, Anna was running, and stayed over as well, so we were both able to head out to Central Park together. Having to sleep with a toddler on the same bed means no real rest. It's more like several cat naps between waking up. Mac wasn't totally comfortable. And as luck would have it, she was having teething issues so there were several incidents of ear piercing screams in the middle of the night. I must remember to pack children's Tylenol next time just in case.

Woke up as quietly as possible, (though about 20 minutes before we were about to leave, Mac wakes up in one of her moods, and freaked out my parents and sis, who have never seen such an episode. Calmed her down, gave her milk, and gently ushered her back to bed. (Told my mom this was pretty much normal on most days, and that she would wake up between 6:45-7:15, though she must have been tired because she woke up at 8:30!)  Anyway, had some oatmeal and left around 7am with Anna. We stopped at a drug store to pick up the 5 hour energy. I keep hearing good things about it, so I figured that it could either help or hurt spectacularly. Unfortunately for me, it was spectacularly bad. I took it right before entering the corral, and even before the national anthem was done, I knew it was a bad idea. I got lightheaded and my heart started racing.

The race started out decent enough, but I couldn't control my pace. It was just all over the place. I had a blistering 9:37 at the third mile leading up the the first pass at the dreaded Harlem Hill. Around mile 4, I began to feel the now familiar tightness in my left hamstring, and I plugged along until it felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. At that point, I pretty much knew I was in trouble, and had to decide quickly, do I finish slowly and conservatively or do I just DNF? As much as I wanted to DNF, I couldn't justify it. The race was $80, and I was already out there. Barring major injury, (which from assessing with adjustments on course), I was going to just finish no matter what. Putting all notions of PRing aside, I just cruised. The shot affected me so badly that I didn't even fuel as I normally would, which added to the misery. It got to the point where I started craving Gatorade, which I never want to drink unless I am desperate... and well, by that point (mile 8), I was pretty freakin desperate. Anyway, I completed the race, but it was ugly. My splits ranged from 9:37 (mile 3) to 13:00 (mile 11) with most in the 10s-11s. Despite the fact that it was one of my poorer performances, it was my third best time for a half (2:26:59), so I'll take it. One thing I won't ever take again is a 5 hour shot! I mean, no one needs 8000% of Vitamin B at once!