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March Madness

March ends in a few days, people. How is that possible? A quarter of 2013 is almost completed and it feels like I'm just waking up from New Years Eve with a hangover and confetti in my hair.

Sadly this is reality. Life slips by whether you realize it or not.

My goal for 2013 was to get as close to 50 miles per month and to run a half marathon. So far I've not yet hit my mileage goal, falling short both in February and January.

Well, March was no different except that I failed more than the previous months. While I was raking in 35-40 miles in January and February, in March I barely made the 30's.

While it's disappointing to see, I have to give myself a break and look at all I did accomplishment this month for our Big Day in June. We found the dresses for the bridesmaids, we picked the tuxes for the guys, met with the florist, had a hair consultation with my bridal stylist, and nailed down our menu with the caterer.

I also ran two races, the Run or Dye in LA and my favorite trail race Into The Wild OC.

Not to mention a flu bug that took down my little man and his yearly checkup that happened this month, too.

March was a busy month and that translated into less miles run. I am disappointed but I have to shake it off and vow to make more time to run.

April won't be any less busy but I have to do what I can to make time to run available. No more Tuesday/Thursday night appointments. No races scheduled on Saturdays. Instead I'm going to make time to meet with the group and run. Just three days a week, that's all I'm asking of myself.

And with those in mind, I should make my goal this month. I only see one Tuesday with plans so far and I hope to keep it that way!

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Into The Wild 10k

It was another early morning. Another early morning for another Into The Wild Trail race, my favorite from last year. My alarm was set for 5:45am but my body woke at 5:30. I didn't get right up instead I laid there for a moment, resting and checking down a mental list of sore spots on my body.

Knees? Check! Ankles? Check! Lower back? So far, not too painful. Thighs? Really tight!

I had worked through a serious training session on Wednesday night that left me hobbling around. On Thursday I followed it with a decently challenging 5.25 mile run with the group. So come Saturday morning I was still feeling all my aches and pains. And those pains kept me up throughout the night with concerns that I wouldn't be able to run without pain.

Still I rose and began my morning routine. I got into my gear including some suppppppa tight compression pants. I can't say these things are what's making my running longer distances easier but it is nice to have on. It gives that comforting feeling that I'm being held together pretty well.

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Tight pants are tight!

So I snapped a picture of myself, yes my obligatory pre-race selfie, then headed down for breakfast. I wasn't really feeling hungry. I had some pre-race nerves building up and my stomach was doing flip-flops all over. But I knew I needed fuel so I made a jelly sandwich on some wheat toast and a cup of coffee.

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Ummm, TOAST!

Knowing these Into The Wild races can be a challenge, I decided to try out some energy supplements while I ran this race. I've never used an energy packet during a race though I've tried some of the jellies during my weekday runs. While I picked up my packet at the REI store in Tustin, I did buy a few on the way out.

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I gave myself a few choices in both flavor and type of supplement from jellies to shots to waffles. I figured the little extra boost wouldn't hurt especially on these longer trail runs where we're conquering hills and making our way through rocks and things.

 

Then it was time to hit the road. I packed up my coffee and kissed The Guy goodbye. I love driving out to these early morning races because it's quiet and peaceful on the road. Not a lot of people are up and traveling so early.

I got there in plenty of time and made my way to group #3 where all the racers were gathering. It was kinda chilly out and there was a slight fog rolling in and touching the peaks of the hills around us.

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The runners there early to pick up their packets and to check in were all bouncing around trying to stay warm. It was very cold and damp. Even though I picked up my packet the day before I still showed up early to check in. They like to have a headcount of those out on the trail in case someone doesn't make it back. A precaution I appreciate.

 

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I, too, bounced around to keep warm. I started out on the grass but soon felt the dew seeping into my shoes. The trail was going to be dirty enough and I didn't need to add moisture to the dust to create mud so I made my way to the path to do my little stretches and jog some. Because I showed up so early, I was pretty well warmed up by the race's start.

 

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After the 21k racers took off at 8am on the dot, I pulled out my energy chews and took my first one. These were some GU Chomps in cranberry apple flavor. They are massive and took some major chewing to get them small enough to swallow. But the flavor is not bad and they didn't make my shaky, a side effect I worried about.

Thirty minutes after the the 21k racers start, our race began. Right on schedule! By then my first chew had 30 minutes to digest and I was feeling ready to run.

Just like last year we followed a path for about half a mile then we turned off onto a dirt/pebble path that took us away from the park. I knew this route from last year so I felt confident in running steadily. I made it to the first water station around 3 miles to grab a sip of Gatorade and take another chew.

I hit my 5k distance at 34:19, a broken record!!! I totally blew away my 5k times and I was super proud. So proud I spoke out loud to myself in congratulations, garnering a few odd looks from some other racers around me. But I didn't care! I was under 35 minutes for my 5k and that was a goal I had been striving for.

At the first water station, instead of running left we turned right. This was unexpected but I was happily surprised by the change and new route. Instead of a left hand turn, the route took us on some single file fire lines and through some tall grass, over some small hills and dips and lots of rocks. I LOVED IT! It was exciting and fueled me to run faster.

My overall pace for the first 5 miles was below 12 mins/mile. Another big breakthrough for me. I was happy to hear the little application's voice tell me I was running under a 10 minute mile pace at times and noting that my slowest pace was 11:35 at others. But the longer I ran the slower my pace became. It didn't matter too much because by 5.5 miles I hadn't walked a step! I ran 5.5 miles completely without walking. When I hit the 5 mile water station I grabbed another sip of Gatorade and made my way into the toughest section.

We ended up traveling up and up to an elevation of about 683 ft at the peak and then back down to 609 ft where we started. The climb was fine until I pushed my tight legs and my burning calves to run a hill that turned left only to find that hill became steeper.

That was when I knew I was tired and out of steam. So I walked my way up and then let gravity help me down. I walked a little more on a flat portion until I could see the path that lead me to the finish. At that point I was pumped and ready to finish. My 10k time was 1:11:52 and my overall race time was 1:21:41. We got an extra 0.7 miles added on and you won't find me complaining. I'd much rather have too many miles than too few for a race I've paid to participate in.

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Not only did we get a great tech shirt with our packet pick up but our medal is also a bottle opener! I thought that was a pretty cool little touch. One of these days I'll make plans to stick around after the race so I can participate in the snacks and raffle with the rest of the racers. Mike and Alison do such a great job.

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I followed my race with a nice shower and a big breakfast of scrambled egg whites with crumbled sausages, a dark chocolate protein drink and some sweet raspberry pastries on the side. Noms!

Our weekend was quite full after that. We had some soccer and egg painting and out-of-town company to hang out with not to mention a reunion ceremony at Camp Pendleton for the remaining marines who stormed Iwo Jima. It was a beautiful ceremony and one that was very emotional.

By the end of the weekend, I was completely worn out. It was a good, full weekend and I was super pleased with my race and all the other engagements we enjoyed with our friends and family.

Running the Into The Wild OC races has become some of my favorite race events. The people are all very relaxed and fun to be around from the racers to the volunteers to Mike and Alison, the coordinators. Even when we finished the 10k and people were looking at their distance and seeing it was longer than the usual 6.2 miles, no one complained. Instead we all laughed and thanked them for the extra mileage.

These events are always well organized with a calmed and friendly vibe. I love them and will continue to race with them as long as I can! I highly recommend, if you are so included to try trail racing, to run one Into The Wild Trail race. It may not be your thing but it's a great place to start if you are interested in giving it a try.

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Some Healthy Noms I Made

I haven't shared much lately of the things I make at home because I've been working on perfecting what we make regularly. So nothing new recently. Till last night when I just had a moment of clarity and realized I needed to get serious and start eating healthy again.

Not that I wasn't before, I was still eating healthy. Just eating more than a portion and sneaking in those pesky "secret calories" again. Although my workout routine is still intact I know I was totally sabotaging any good from my running or gym sessions with my overeating.

So I trekked over the Pinterest and pulled up some healthy menu items to try. I found a nice pin of good food for your core on Women's Health Magazine. They listed 8 recipes full of super, powerhouse foods. I picked an oatmeal breakfast recipe to try this morning.

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I subbed out the milk and instead used almond milk. An I only added strawberries and left off the yogurt. Kinda glad I did because the meal ended up being a pretty big portion, one I couldn't finish. Anything else added to this would have just gone to waste. I'll have to adjust the quantities to make it perfect. Otherwise it was tasty and very filling.

 

I didn't even finish the whole thing and I felt full. I would totally make this again. Just with a few adjustments.

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Last night for dinner I had thawed some of our favorite chicken meatballs I get at Costco. They are very tasty and come a number of different flavors. Last night we made the pineapple and teriyaki flavored ones. Then my little man requested some pasta to go with them so I made up some rice noodles and sauce. He loved it and devoured his dinner.

I did try something new and it worked out really well. We love bell peppers so I sauteed some in coconut oil. First time using it because I tend to shy away from anything coconut. But The Guy loved it and I enjoyed it myself. 

Today my lunch will be left over meatballs and peppers. Yum!

I've got my water going and I'm eating fruit in between meals so I'm trying, honestly trying to stay on course. Hoping this works!

L.A. Run Or Dye 2013

Before I get into the details of our race this weekend, I'll first admit my mistakes. I'm pretty good at admitting when I've done something wrong. And there was A LOT I did wrong in regards to the Run Or Dye held at the LA Coliseum this weekend.

First, and it's a doozey, we didn't pick up our packets pre-race. After a year of running races of all different sizes and shapes, this is a gimme: If they offer pre-race packet pick-up, you do it! Send someone, take the time off to get there. Whatever it is you have to do, DO IT! Pre-race pick-up makes life simpler. So I admit that I should have picked up our packets the night before.

In our defense, we had a feverish child most of the week and the location/time of the pick-up wasn't conducive to our schedules and commutes. Even so, a cousin went to pick hers up and offered to grab ours, we just didn't get our IDs copied in time and that, again, is our fault.

My second mistakes is an innocent one of just not knowing how it would affect us but including my son in our race wasn't such a great idea. We planned to walk/run this 5k so that he could participate and get all colorful like us. In the end, his stubborn side won over and he completely gave up and had to be carried piggy back style over the finish line. With our own mistakes aside, it must be mentioned that this was a fun run. No chip, no timer, no official start/finish clock either. Just a go, get dirty and finish with a dance party type of race. So we really weren't all that stressed about being ready with our numbers and whatnot before hand.

So now for the gory details.

We woke up bright and early to clear blue skies, a sight that warmed our hearts.We had feared that it would continue raining as it had the day before and running through colored cornstarch AND rain did NOT sound appealing. It may be warming up to Springtime but the rains are still pretty cold.

On went our white tee-shirts and colorful running wear. It was a fun run and a colorful one at that so I dressed appropriately. Out the door we went a little after 7am for our 9am start time.

I am not a fan of driving into big cities. And we weren't exactly in a major part of LA but the streets surrounding the LA Coliseum were city enough for me. I was happy to have The Guy driving us and handling our transport out there. Once there, we got lucky and had an easy time with parking.

It wasn't until we made it to the race site that we realized we were in trouble. It was 7:45am and the race wouldn't start for another hour or so but the line for packet pick up was extremely long. We decided to do a little walk about to see what the deal was and that's when we saw that packet pick up was a single booth.

People, it's a sold out race and a popular one! Why the single booth?! I've done much smaller and more organized races that had a row of tables for packet pick-up!

Once we realized that the line we saw snaking around the arena was what we needed, we made our way to the end and waited for the rest of our team to join us. Now they were all smart and got their packets the day before. As they arrived and saw where we were in relation to the booth for our numbers and also peeked at the growing number of people behind me, we all started to realize there was no way we'd get to the front of the line in time for the race.

As it was, in 30 minutes, we hadn't moved. So we cut out of the line, got into the Dye Zone and colored ourselves in an attempt to blend in.

Soon we heard the loud speaker sound and a voice tell the racers to make their way to the starting shoot across the way. We all looked and were perplexed. Did they really want this massive crowd of dusty people to cross over the line of people waiting for their numbers? And sure enough, that's what they asked us to do.

Chaos ensued. A throng of people made their way to the start line, cutting into the snaking line of people still waiting for their numbers. As we apologetically cut through the mass, we heard similar voices of concern and dismay. Some people were really irritated. One person said they had been in line for 2 hours waiting just to get their number. Others were lightheartedly joking about the lack of organization and just ready to get their run on.

We made our way to the starting shoot and then waited. And waited. And waited. No announcements were made and we were left to wait with no news as to what was causing the delay. We figured they were holding back for those still in line. But the line wasn't moving and we were left stranded in a coral of colorful, antsy people. Lots of grumbling could be heard.

 

Waiting and waiting[/caption] And hour later than the scheduled start time and the line began to move. Little by little they let us through in waves. 15 minutes after the initial surge forward, we were at the start line ready to get pelted with an orange cloud of color.

As for the course, that was kinda cool. Running through Exposition Park was all kinds of awesome as we took in the sights. We got hit 4 times with color: orange, yellow, blue and green.

While I appreciated the volunteers that were head-to-toe covered in the color they were throwing, I was disappointed that some of the young men (teenagers really) decided to take advantage of the moment and tag women in the breasts, the butt and the groin area with the color. I watched it happen to one in our group and then heard others say the same. I don't know if the organizers know this was happening but we didn't see anyone we could talk to about it. I hate to think these young men were taking advantage of the situation to act upon the distasteful choice of assaulting women.

It was childish and in bad taste, dudes. Knock it off!

As we ran along it felt like there was a large break between color stations and I thought it was odd. In my mind the logical progression would have been a color station every kilometer making 5 stations, 5 colors. In the end it was only four and that was because our course was not quite 5k. We ran only a total of 2.5 miles, short 0.6 miles.

Ugh...

So here is my gripe about that. We were paying runners. We may have run without our numbers and that's our own fault, but paying for a 5k and not getting a 5k kinda sucks. I've paid the same amount for other races and received a full 3.1 miles, a medal AND a timer chip. This race was overpriced for the lack of organization that we ran into. I mean, come on.

The packet pick-up was our own issue that we acknowledged but to cut the race short and still expect the same price as a full 5k? Not cool, people. Not cool.

And as we crossed the finish line, water was nowhere to be found. There was a dance party and LOTS of upset people walking around but no water. I saw some water bottles but no station or obvious place to get something to drink after finishing. So we headed to the tee-shirt booth that was now a disheveled mess run by a few frazzled teenaged girls to at least take home our race tee-shirts.

I mean we paid for them and we needed something clean to wear home.

Oh and the cherry on top was that if you actually ran and got sweaty, the color stuff stained your skin. Yes...we looked like we got into a gang fight with a box of crayons after some heavy scrubbing. And Dr. Bronner's Castile soap seemed to be the only stuff that actually took off the color.

Half way through my son decided to give up. Not stop running. No, give up all together and just sit down. Ugh...that was our second mistake. We knew we were going to walk most of this 5k but we didn't expect him to just plunk down on a park bench and totally give up. And he stubbornly sat there not moving, complaining about mystery aches and pains. In the end The Guy carried him the last 1/2 mile.

Overall this was a tough race to deal with. The good stuff was good: The location, the colors. But the bad was pretty bad: lack of organization, shortened course. In the end I considered this race a bust. The good didn't outweigh the bad and the bad didn't eclipse the good. So it was just a moot point.

But getting dirty and running through the clouds of color was a lot of fun. If I did this again I wouldn't take my son and I'd get that damn packet picked up the day before.

OOOH! And one last piece of advice for anyone running a color event: Don't make plans after the run! Due to the nature of the colorful shit they tag you with, it will stain a bit if you sweat. Plus depending on the organization of the event, it could take longer than you expected. So just go, have fun, and come home to rest. We had plans at 2pm that afternoon and while we had enough time to run, come home, change and go, we would have been better off just coming home to get cleaned up and then doing nothing the rest of the day. Instead that appointment was weighing on us and caused more stress than necessary.

Again, that part was my fault. I thought we'd have more time.

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