Running · Sports

Boston

I’m still reeling from the bombing at Boston. Qualifying for the Boston marathon has been at the back of my mind since I started taking running seriously, and I was super excited to check the results, particularly of a few bloggers I follow. So I was horrified and devastated to hear what happened at an event that I hold so dear to me.

Running is a community, and that increases the horror I feel. Whether I knew any runners at Boston or not, my heart breaks for all of them. For everyone who worked so hard to have their dream tarnished. For everyone who is hurt, and everyone who lost their life. My heart breaks.

The only thing I can think to do is keep running. Keep moving forward. There are a lot of Facebook events towards Boston relief and recognition. Personally, I’ll be running 2.62 miles in honor of the tragedy and wearing blue and yellow at my 10k race Saturday.

I hope some of you will join me.

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Running · Sports

The mental game

In my former life as a competitive swimmer, my mental game would determine the outcome of any race for me. If there was pressure on, I would inevitably do one of two things: kick butt and take names or choke like I needed a Heimlich. There was never any in-between—the race either went really well or really poorly.

When I wasn’t expected to PR, especially during mid-season when we were (over)trained and (over)tired, I could just go out and swim. There weren’t any expectations for me to perform. I was just supposed to get race experience. But in a pressure-filled meet, I was all or nothing.

The mental game would make or break me.

Now that I don’t have parents and a coach pushing me to practice and practice hard every day, my mental toughness comes into play not just on race day, but on any given training day. Can I make myself do the workout or am I going to give up? Can I not only make myself work out, but do everything in my power to get the most out of that particular workout? Am I giving my training my full focus and attention?

Honestly, for the last few months, I haven’t been. And the half marathon was a reality check. Do I want to be an exerciser or an athlete? Either choice is okay. But I’ve been an athlete my whole life.

I still want to be an athlete.

Scratch that. I still am an athlete.

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Why yes, I did finally get a decent picture of me racing. Thanks for noticing.

On my Monday lunch break, I ran some hill repeats one street over from my building. 8 x .125 (an eighth) miles sucked. The hill was steep, my butt and my calves burned, and the people having happy lunches at the restaurant I ran past eight times probably thought I was crazy.

But that’s okay. I kept telling myself “these hills might suck—but you know what won’t suck? Passing a bunch of people on Heart Attack Hill in the Peachtree.”

I didn’t use my pacer app. I set a timer for 25 minutes and told myself to get up that hill eight times. I got up it eight times in 21:15. So I know I was holding a decent pace since I was half walking/half jogging down the hill.

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I won the mental game on Monday. One battle down in the war my brain tries to start every workout.

Game. On.

How do you overcome the mental game while you’re training?

I honestly use that Winnie the Pooh quote all the time. And I focus on form when I’m tired. And how much it’s going to rock when I see the results of my hard work. And how grateful I am that I can actually do these things…the list goes on and on.

What motivates you to push through the hard workouts?

My goals. But even more than that, I use a sheer determination to finish what I started. I used to give up so easily and I want that girl to go away. So I finish each workout to the best of my ability to squash naysayer Caroline into the ground.

Healthy living · Sports

My favorite things: let’s fuel

Time for another edition of my favorite things! Should I start singing “The Sound of Music”? JK, you reeeeaaalllyy don’t want to hear me sing. Trust me.

SOUND OF MUSIC

As I’ve gotten back into working out, I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with how to fuel for my workouts. Especially long workouts. I’m still working out some kinks, but I’ve found some items that do a great job for me time after time.

Nuun

nuun multi

I’m a newcomer to the Nuun craze. I first heard about it from SkinnyRunner, but I kind of dismissed it as a blogger fad. Then, I was at an event where they were giving out samples. Color me hooked! I love, love, love fizzy drinks, so the slight tingle that Nuun has is awesome. It definitely helps my mouth feel less gross after a run. You all know that feeling, where your mouth is nasty and feels all thick because of your sexy mid-run mouth breathing. No? It’s just me?

I also love that the 12 tablets lasts me about 2 weeks. If I ration one per workout (I wish I could drink it all day long), I get a really good value out of it. Way cheaper than buying a sports drink. And they have tons of fun flavors. My current fave is the citrus berry, but I’ve got a tube of tri berry at home now that I’m also diggin’. Plus, Nuun has only 6 calories a tablet and is chock-full of electrolytes. I definitely give it my vote.

GU

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I’ve tried a ton of different energy gels throughout the years. With swimming and rowing, they were super popular, but in the past 6 years, gels have really changed. For the better. Like, way better. After trying a bunch of different brands during long runs, I found that GU works the best for me. I have a weird texture thing with foods, and GU by far goes down the smoothest. And they have a bajillion different flavors. I always make sure to chase mine with water so that it digests better, which is true for any gel. Oh, and the flavors actually taste good! And what girl doesn’t want chocolate while she runs?

Larabars

Larabar Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar Close

I’m also a recent Larabar convert. My manager at work gave me a pecan pie one probably six months ago and I wasn’t a huge fan, so I mistakenly wrote off these little bites of awesome. At the half marathon expo, Larabar was giving out free samples, and I’m not one to turn down free stuff. So I snagged some. And voila! A Larabar lover was born. Peanut butter chocolate chip has been my jam recently. They’re a little calorically heavy, but that’s okay with me, because they make a great snack. I also love that they’re vegan and gluten free. I follow neither diet, but I do really appreciate products that are accessible to all diets. I tend to eat a Larabar about an hour before a run, because they sit in my stomach really, really well. I have kind of a picky workout tummy, so finding these has been awesome. I never feel weighed down, and they seem to last well into my run (and then it’s GU time!).

See? More ways you can be just like me. Since that’s clearly your life goal. But seriously, if you have a picky stomach during workouts like I do, take the time to experiment with different ways to fuel. My fueling regimen for a run over 75 minutes looks something like this:

1 hour before: Larabar and 8 oz of Nuun

15-30 minutes before: bathroom

60 minutes in: GU and water

15 minutes after: 8-16 oz of Nuun and lots of H2O + something with protein (bagel and cream cheese or Muscle Milk Lite are popular choices with me)

I’m still fine-tuning it, so keep a lookout for more fueling fails and successes.

How do you fuel before, during and after your workouts?

What are some of your favorite fueling products?

Running · Sports

Half marathon update

I totally haven’t trained. I’ve barely laced up my shoes in the past few months. But, I committed to do it. So on Sunday, I will be running trying to finish the Publix half marathon.

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Yeah, they are already plugging for next year

Now, I have fit in a couple of long runs, and somehow, my 5k time has drastically improved without constant training, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend this training method to anyone. Stick with what the pros tell you! Don’t listen to this lazy girl with her blog—just pray that I don’t die.

My friend Tony, who’s a total fastypants, has agreed to haul my slow and untrained self to the expo with him. Meanwhile, he’s probably thinking “please don’t let anyone see me associating with this super slow, barely going to finish girl.” This will be coupled with me following him around the expo like a lost puppy, gasping “whasthat?” and “who is that person? why are people trying to get his/her autograph?” Cue Tony facepalming himself.

tony run

He’s in the direct center looking like a boss.

See? Totally looks like a pro. Oh wait, that’s because he’s about that good.

I’m excited about the expo, since all the races I’ve run in the past have been small, local races. This is my first BIG race. So I’m stoked to see what an expo is like. I’m hoping for lots of eye candy, running crushes, and coupons. Also, I’m pretty sure that after this expo, I’ll have my Christmas lists for the next three years planned out.

But, race day does mean that I get to pick a fun outfit to wear! It’s supposed to be absolutely gorgeous outside (sunny, high of 72 degrees), so short sleeves will be in order.

race day outfits

The Adidas tights are a non-negotiable. They are my absolute fave running bottoms. But the top? I’ve run in all three of these and like them all. Help, blog world, help!

If my running won’t be pretty to watch, at least my outfit can be, right?

Update: NONE of those options won. The nice folks at Janji running sent me a sweet green tech top. Since it’s St. Patty’s, I gotta wear green, right?

Which outfit should I wear? Do you have any race day staples in your wardrobe?

Definitely the Adidas tights and comfy socks. Everything else can change depending on weather, my mood, and the event.

Have you ever gone into an athletic event drastically underprepared? Has “just finishing” ever been your goal?

Get fit · Running · Sports

The death and rebirth of the half marathon dream

One of my first posts on here was about my Journey to 13.1. I was planning to run the Thanksgiving Day half here in the ATL. Guess what? It didn’t happen.

There are a number of reasons why. But mostly, I psyched myself out. I let the long runs get in my head, and I quit. On Thanksgiving, as ate lunch with my momma, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in myself. I was so much closer this time than I’d ever been before.

What happened? Why did I lose that mental game so badly?

My first instinct was to say “because I’m lame and I suck at life.” My second instinct is to say “because I didn’t plan accordingly.” It’s true, I didn’t plan out my weeks well. Because I work such long days, instead of getting up early to get in a quick three or four miler, I slept as late as possible so that I had to stack all three of my runs on consecutive days. Burnout much?

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As much as I wish, burnout does not look like that. However, that totally cute top is available on etsy.

This is what my burnout looks like:

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Except, you know, I’m not a dude.

Burnout is a very real phenomenon that happens in sports and exercise from overtraining. No, three workouts a week is not overtraining. I’m actually hoping to get in 5 workouts a week from now on. What is burnout is sticking three of the same workouts at high mileage together over a 3 day window to fit into a weekly goal.

My half marathon dream has been reborn. A group of my coworkers have all decided to run the Publix half in March, and have invited me to join. Um, yes please! One of the vet assistants is taking point on it, so she’s trying to coordinate a way for us to do a short lunchtime group run once or twice a week, and we’re planning on group dinners and a few races from now to March.

Some of us are way advanced runners (marathoner, former Marine) and some of us have never run a road race at all. But the point is I have some accountability and support. And maybe that will give me the mental edge I need.

I will finish a half marathon in March. It’s going to happen.

The dream is alive.

its-alive

Get fit · Running · Sports

Sweat It Out review

Welcome to a new series on the blog: product reviews! Apparently I’m super cool, and companies totally want me to try their stuff. Okay, honestly, I reached out to the extremely kind folks at Sweat It Out, and they decided to let me wear their stuff and let y’all know whether or not it’s worth it.

Sweat It Out is a fairly small company, specialized in compression and sweat-wicking athletic clothes. They offer tons of compression items, but they sent me a set of runner’s basics:

Here I am wearing the shorts, sports bra, and socks.

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Overall, I was really impressed with the products. They were comfortable and worked really well on my runs.

Let’s start with the shorts. You can’t see it from the picture, but they are very high rise, in order to support the lower back. I’ve have back pain since my rowing days, and sometimes running aggravates the old injury. I’m not gonna lie: I was a little worried when I saw the shorts were unisex that they weren’t going to fit my hips and my waist, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I also really liked the length—no chance of chafing! Also, the higher rise gave me abdominal support in addition to back support. I like that it sucked in my gut a little and made my posture a little better when I ran. Also, those babies didn’t move during a seven mile run.

That’s the pros. The biggest con I found with these shorts was that there’s a tag in the back that can take a little getting used to. It didn’t rub or itch, but I did have to wear them for a little bit pre-run before I forgot it was there. Also, even though the unisex short work really well, I do hope that Sweat It Out will eventually come out with a women’s line.

Overall, the shorts are definitely becoming a running staple.

Second, let’s talk sports bra.

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I wear a D or DD cup, so sports bras can be the bane of my existence. This was probably the item I was most excited to try. While it didn’t completely cut out the booby-bounce, it did do a pretty good job containing the ladies. I also wore it out on that seven mile run, and it certainly did an above average job of keeping everything in in its place. My complaint here is that the front isn’t double-lined, so you have to wear the bra under a shirt—I’d love the option to wear it alone. Despite these slight problems, I was pretty happy with the product as a whole, even if my search for a bounceless bra continues. I would say this bra would be excellent for ladies C cup or lower and well above average for D and DD cups.

This post is getting awfully long, so I’ll wrap up the rest of the review tomorrow.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Sweat It Out in any way other than the receipt of these products. I am under no obligation to provide a good review.

Get fit · Running · Sports

7 miles in heaven

There’s something about running further or faster than I’ve run before that I just can’t describe. It’s the same feeling I got when I set a PR at a swim meet, or when I was in a shell full of 8 girls working together in perfect harmony, flying over the water. It brings one word to mind: ineffable.

in·ef·fa·ble; adjective

  1. incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible: ineffable joy.
  2. not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable: the ineffable name of the deity.

I certainly can’t express the feeling I have when I push myself to the limits and succeed.

However, let’s get past the flowery descriptions of the rush I felt, and get down to the physical business.

photo (1)

The kind folks at Sweat It Out were nice enough to send me some items to try out and review for y’all. Here, I’m wearing their quarter socks, compression shorts for low back pain, and sports bra. I’ll post a full review of the items later. For now, I have to say I wasn’t sure about the length of the shorts at first, but from this picture, I think I like the way they look.

As I got started, I headed down towards a park that my 5k races usually loops through. The original plan was to run the 5k course twice, then run home. However, in usual Caroline fashion, I changed my mind after the first time through the park. I was on a long run, and I was going to explore, dangit!

That ended up being the best decision I could have made. Running a new path was so much fun, and really took my mind off the miles that my legs were pounding out. Instead of focusing on how many miles I’d run, and how many miles I had left, I focused on the scenery around me.

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I stopped at a CVS 5 miles in, and chugged a Powerade. Rookie mistake. I got some mild cramps from drinking too fast. Nothing that significantly altered my run, but slightly uncomfortable nonetheless.

Throughout the last 2 miles, I realized that I felt good. This is new for me. Running is uncomfortable. I’m not fast. I have to work really, really hard to run for more than 30 minutes. But today…today was different. I felt strong and fast through those last miles. I felt like I could have run further.

That’s what’s ineffable. I can’t put into words my feelings about what my body is doing for me after I’ve punished it for so long. The fact that I have even made it this far into half marathon training is an amazing feat. And I’m proud of myself. And proud of my body. I couldn’t have felt that way about myself a year ago.

That’s why these were 7 miles of heaven.