Friday, October 30, 2009

CLIF BAR Voluntary Recall

For those who enjoy CLIF BAR, LUNA, and MOJO bars:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hitting a Low

Mentally I'm not strong enough (yet) to handle several poor runs in a row.  Two weeks ago I had two out of two bad training runs leading up to my "okay" race that Saturday.  Last week I had one out of one bad training runs; I didn't run two because after the one bad run I didn't want to do another.  This week I have no motivation to run at all, even with my race on Saturday.  I'm in a funk and I don't know how to pull out.  I think I need professional help.

For a while, probably for four years now since my first triathlon season, I have been debating the coach/trainer question.  Do I get one?  Can I go at this training thing alone?  Is it worth it?  How do I find a good one?  Am I really worth it?  And for those past four years I have discovered that I do fine with a cycling program (2007 Seagull Century), with a basic running program (earlier this year), and I can put together an acceptable lifting program, but putting together a well-rounded training program isn't within my reach.  I have had okay results at my races, but I don't feel like I'm putting in the time for proper training plan development to do better than okay at this rate, and I'm not sure that I have any more time to put in.  Or want to put in any more time.  I have to be honest with myself; there are other things I enjoy besides planning my training, training, recovering from training, and thinking about my next training session or race.

Kip has been a birdy on my shoulder since we worked out together in the summer.  He has read my blog and has been encouraging me to come back and see him, and sent me a recent email that was singing my tune.  I think he's finally pushed me over the edge since I'm not thrilled with my mediocre results and could use some encouragement when things are going poorly, as well as some help with a training plan.  (Kip: White flag; you win!)  I'm excited at the prospect of having his experience and knowledge on my side.  Ultimately I have to be the one to do the training, but I know that and I'm pretty sure I'm ready.

The next several weeks are going to be interesting and I'm looking forward to the change.  Plus, it'll be nice to have a better experience than I had at LA Fitness with their PT.  I'll actually get something out it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blood Donations and Training

The rattling is finally done so it's time to post.  I eluded to questions about blood donations and training in a post earlier today.  From the googling I've done, the short answer is as a submaximal athlete it shouldn't affect me much past the day of the donation, but from personal experience I would beg to differ.

DeAnza College provides most of the information I found online that doesn't involve personal experience when talking about donations and athletes (I believe personal experience is a stronger supporter of anything provided the story teller is truthful and doesn't emit any important facts).  Part of the way down on the page is the heading "Can athletes donate blood?" that goes on to talk about athletes and cyclists.  As an endurance athlete no effect should be noticed past two days after the donation, and for a casual cyclist no effect should be noticed.  The problem is that they don't define what to be "casual" or "endurance".  There is a lot of room from couch potato to ultra marathoner and plenty of room for different responses.

From an ARC website, the details are available to do some of my own calculations on the subject.  The percentage of red blood cells in your system is a direct function of your hemocrit.  You have to have at least 38% to donate (women can be as low as 36% and not be anemic, something I have experienced before resulting in a one day donation deferral).  Plasma makes up 55% of the blood volume, leaving 7% for platelets.  The adult human body has approximately 5 L of blood which is between 7 and 8% of a person's body weight according to the howstuffworks? website.  Donating one unit of whole blood results in a 450 mL decrease in blood volume, or a 9% drop in overall volume.

Plasma cells are restored within two days following a donation, so at that point your blood volume is around 4% low.  Platelets are back within two weeks, so you're 3.4% low at that stage.  Red blood cells take between six and eight weeks to regenerate, so you won't have your volume back to 100% until at least six weeks following the donation.  Volume isn't as much of a concern here as the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body, although for people who have a normally low blood pressure or hypotension (90/60 or below), this loss of volume may have adverse effects on top of the missing red blood cells.

For a woman at 38% hemocrit at the time of donation, I would image that they would feel more of an effect than a man starting out at 47%.  The athlete portion of the DeAnza site doesn't specifically divide men and women, but the cycling section details only a study with men.  Given a woman's typically smaller size, lower hemocrit, and presumably lower blood volume, I'd like to see the numbers.

At 129 pounds, a blood pressure of 110/55, a resting heart rate of 76 bpm, and a hemocrit of 40% at the time of my donation last week, I felt the effects for approximately four days after the donation.  I don't believe my race performance was affected, but my training was definitely in trouble.  I don't believe I hydrated enough the remainder of the day following the donation (I stay well hydrated normally, but I didn't take in the extra volume I needed), which certainly could have added to the effects.  I'm going to keep a careful watch over my next several donations and see what the effects our.  If I properly rehydrate I may be able to stave off some of the effects, but I'll have to conduct that test in 6.5 weeks when I can donate again.  I'll try not to risk a race performance again, though.  I need to better plan my donations.

To read more personal experiences, check out For Beginners Only.  To see the entire breakdown of blood components with details, check out another ARC site.

Pink Ribbon 5k Recap

Race weather was 43ºF and rainy, not the ideal conditions for a race, but honestly how often do you have "ideal" conditions for a race?  And isn't ideal different for everyone?  I wasn't scared by the weather; I just needed to figure out what I was going to wear to keep myself as comfortable as possible.  I chowed down on some Kashi cereal and water about an hour pre-race.

Out of my closet came: knit hat, running t-shirt, cold weather cycling long-sleeved fleece jersey, cycling rain jacket, everyday-wear gloves, running shorts, fleece running pants, ankle wool socks.  The knit hat should have been a light ear cover and hat, the cycling jersey should have been a fleece-less version, the gloves should have been lighter, and having taller socks would have been nice, although not necessary.  (I hear a shopping trip coming up!)  So basically I was a overdressed, but I managed.

Instead of walking down to the race start (several blocks away), I decided to drive to help keep myself warm and dry longer.  Had I known that the festivities were going to start inside the Talley Rec Center, I may have walked down as originally planned.  We warmed up with a trainer from Gold's Gym, then headed out to the start line.  I lined up about mid-way back in the pack.

For the first mile I felt pretty good.  I found my stride and just worked on putting on foot in front of the other and watching out for puddles.  Shortly after the first mile I stepped in some deep water and had two soggy feet.  The wool socks quickly warmed back up and I didn't notice that my feet were wet for the remainder of the race.  At around the second mile I was too warm, so the gloves came off, the jersey zipper went down, and the rain jacket zipper came down as well.  I felt somewhat cooler, but not as cool as I wanted to be.  Being too warm was wearing me out quickly so I prepared myself just to hang on that last mile.

Knowing the course ahead of time, I knew we were getting close to the final turn (the cheering crowd gave it away too).  I made the turn and heard someone say to another runner "don't let 34:00 show up on the clock".  My heart sank.  My goal of a 10:00 pace was long gone.  While I wasn't surprised due to the conditions and my training that week, a little part of me had held onto that hope.  I put in a final kick and crossed the line at 33:47.  Taking off a couple of seconds for my distance from the start line, I probably came in at 33:42.

I was overheated, wet, and exhausted.  My calves were tight so I spent some time outside stretching them before heading inside for the closing festivities.  I grabbed a half of chocolate chip bagel and bottle of water and went off to stretch.  I resisted the urge to peel of any clothes besides my hat, and was thankful for that decision because a few minutes later I had cooled off and was fairly comfortable in my full gear.

I didn't have the greatest race, but I ran the whole time which is an accomplishment.  I learned a lot about dressing for a running race in inclement weather (helpful since winter is coming up).  I have two more 5k races remaining, and I'm hoping I'll be able to set a time goal and meet it for at least one of those races.  I know I have plenty more learning to do, but I could use a goal-accomplishing race at some point.

Next Race: Wicked Fast Urbana 5k on 10/31/09

Pre-Race Week Workouts

During race week, last week, my workouts gave me a lack of confidence and anxiety, neither of which I needed for a cold and rainy race.

I donated blood that Monday at 9a and I wasn't sure how that would effect me for the week (another post that's rattling around in my brain).  My Tuesday 30 minute morning run was rough.  I felt good for about half of it, but for the second half I felt run down, exhausted, and like my lungs were tied in knots.  I pushed through it, but my confidence for Saturday was certainly not high.

Thursday's morning run didn't nothing to aid my confidence either.  I think that run I suffered from 20% remains of the blood donation, and 80% from poor nutrition.  I woke up hungry and should have eaten something during my commute in, but didn't and I really paid for it.  At the 17 minute mark I had to quit (and that's the first time I didn't finish a workout).  I was starting to feel woozy and my legs were turning to jello, so in my best interest I stopped.  For the remainder of the morning my butt was dragging so I knew the lack of a morning snack was primarily the cause for my bad workout.

I tried to shake off two bad runs in a row, but it's hard to get over such a bad week with a race in sight.  I certainly learned a lot though: (1) no donations the week of a race, and if it's a big race, no donations within two weeks at least, and (2) if I'm hungry in the morning, although I usually don't eat before my morning workouts, eat!  And before the morning hunger happens again, decide what I'll eat so I'm prepared for when it happens again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week Ten - Twentyseven of Fourty

After my last post about run training, my running world stopped.  That Wednesday was the final day of testing and the last day of work hell that I would have to put myself through for a while.  I can admit that I cuddled up with a bottle of wine that night (I chose white to avoid a hangover) and that was the best time I had had in a while.  I thought about running during my down time, about hitting the road and doing my 13/2's then 14/1's, but I couldn't find the motivation.  I was digging out of a hole of chores, shopping, relaxing, and basic everyday stuff that I hadn't been able to get to in weeks.  Even if it had been swimming or cycling, I wouldn't have made the time either, so it was nothing against running specifically.  I took two weeks off of work (the last several days were spent curled up on the couch with a cold) and returned feeling rested, although still a little germy.  I considered running the first couple of days back, but my mornings were rough and by the afternoon I was wiped of what little energy I had.  I decided that Friday morning (after a good Thursday morning), was going to be my day to either do a 14/1 set, or just go for the gold and run through all 30 minutes.

I got on the treadmill and spent four minutes warming the body up with a brisk walk.  Then, I broke into a run and got things started.  Around minute twelve I decided that I was going to go all the way.  I needed the mental boost, and although I felt a little disorganized, I felt light and quick which are definitely feelings of a good run.  Minute sixteen came and went, and I was cruising pretty steadily until minute 26 or so.  The last throws of the cold were trying to keep me down, and although I was tired, I persevered and pushed through the aches and fatigue.  After all, the end of a race whether it is a 5k, 10k, or marathon, will leave you tired in the end so I need to get used to running tired.  I hit the "Stop" button at the 34 minute mark on the treadmill and a big smile came over my face.  30 minutes - done.  I may be short of a full 5k if I'm above 10 minute pace, but I'm close if not completely ready for my race on Saturday.  A couple more 30 minute runs before Saturday will make sure of that.


Kona, Chicago, and Motivation

This was a big weekend for long distance athletes.  Saturday was the Kona Ironman and Sunday was the Chicago Marathon.  I took some time out of my weekend to watch some of each, and I have to say that I'm better for it.

I didn't start watching Kona until the men pros were entering T2 and heading out for the run (I had thought the race was Sunday).  Watching the strength and endurance of the pros was fantastic.  Of particular note was Chrissy Wellington who had the biggest smile on her face for the end of the bike and the entire run; her face mimicked what I have looked like during some of my long rides when I'm all alone and dreaming of crazy things in my head (yes, sometimes I even laugh out loud).  She looked like she was out for a daily stroll down the block with her dog.  Considering that she had almost 100 miles and several hours of swimming and cycling on her body at that point, all I could do was smile back (to my computer) in awe.  I knew she was having an awesome race and would crush the course record.  With such a big smile on her face, she almost had to.

Chicago was just as awe-inspiring.  The men went out at better than world record pace and only 30 minutes into the race had dropped one of their pacers because the pace was so quick.  Tera Moody took charge of the women and led the first several miles because no one else stepped up.  She looked very smooth at 5:33 pace early on in the race.  She ended up as the 9th woman to cross the finish line at 02:32:59.

Up until now I haven't looked to the pros for inspiration and motivation.  I just assumed that their level of endurance and physical fitness was one that I would never be able to achieve as a "part-time" triathlete who's day job isn't being an athlete.  But there's more to it than just that.  They have learned valuable lessons along the way and carry with them a lot of experience and knowledge.  Yes, I may never run a 9 hour Ironman or a 2:30 marathon, but maybe I can strongly finish each no matter how much time it takes.  And maybe I can find tips and recommendations along the way from the pros (and anyone else for that matter) that help me achieve my own goals.  Instead of ignoring the pros, I should look to them for motivation and inspiration (at a minimum).  Read their blogs; check out their stories.  I have a lot of learning left to do.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Market Street Mile Recap

This past Saturday, Jeff and I ran the Market Street Mile through gorgeous downtown Frederick. As a first time participant of this event, I found the organization to be lacking and the amount of information provided pre-race to be poor. I did not know where and when packet pick-up was available on race day and I was not informed of the start and finish locations. All are pretty important items and I would have appreciated knowing these things before race day. Guessing that the race would end downtown and that packet pick-up would be available just before our races, we walked down Market Street until we found the start of the race - at the YMCA. The women's mile started at 10:00a, and the men's mile at 10:15a.

My goal was to not go out too fast. Knowing that it was a mile, I knew I could push harder than I have in my training runs, but I was aiming for negative splits so I needed to watch my start. My start was good as I let most of the field go out ahead of me and held my position up the gentle upward slope of the first few tenths of a mile. As we crested the hill I ran a check on my form and found that I felt strong and light.

A women near to my pace (and dressed in black) was hanging out in my near vision as the race continued on. I set a goal to pass her before the end of the race. I actually did much better than that and passed her within the next few tenths before the halfway mark. Halfway through I heard someone calling out times (a pleasant surprise) and I heard a 4:02 as I crossed his path. I picked up my turnover rate a bit and set my sights on the finish. I heard nearby footsteps and was "afraid" that I was being passed by the women in black, but it turned out to be someone else.

I heard the finish nearing as people cheered on the runners and caught a glimpse of the race clock: 7:50. What?!?, I thought to myself. I turned on the speed and was determined to stay under 8:00. I watched the clock seconds tick by and was in the finisher's corral at 7:57. I really didn't believe it; I don't think I have ever run a mile below 9:30. I grabbed some water and gatorade, met up with Maria-Giulia and Gianna who had come to watch, and turned around to wait for Jeff to come down the street.

My Results:
19/31 Women's Mile
86/148 Overall
6/7 AG (24-29)

Jeff Results:
30/47 Men's Mile
38/148 Overall
2/4 AG (24-29)

Jeff earned himself a trophy for his 2nd place AG finish.

Next Race: Pink Ribbon 5k on 10/17/09