Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday was Thursday at the Track: Half Marathon Recovery Work Out

I felt really strong during my track work out this week. It was probably due to the cooler weather we've been having here in Jersey.

This past Thursday,  I started out with a 2.25mile warm-up at a good 8min/mile pace and went into four sets of 100meter strides, which I completed in about 19 & 20 seconds.

Woohoo!
Next, Coach planned a Half Marathon Recovery Work Out:
Eight sets of 400meters with a minute rest between sets. 
Goal Time: 1min45secs.

I felt so good, I couldn't do them any slower than 1min35secs each. Coach threatened, after the first few, that he would reduce my recovery time if I didn't slow up. I figured, if I didn't slow up, and he reduced my recovery time, I would probably get tired and slow-up. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Anyway, I made it through my Half Marathon Recovery Work Out wondering, 'if I could only keep this time up for 20minutes, I would beat my PR for the 5K and reach my ever-loving goal to run a 5K in less than 21minutes' ...I think I'll have to keep dreaming.

I finished my track work out with a mile(+) cool down, stretches and a little massage with the foam roller.
I love my foam roller!
After Thursday's workout, I'm excited to plan my next half. 
If only it weren't for my crazy school schedule! Ugh! I've been trying to rearrange my school schedule, to fit in my two internships, kids, the house, training, half marathons and, oh yeah, life, but I've had no luck.
At least my Jack is getting ready for me
to continue my RD studies this Fall:
You can teach an old dog new tricks, I swear!
TRAIN SMART TODAY!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Patrick Henry Half Marathon

I was in Big Bass Country: Ashland, Virginia to run my 11th state half marathon:
The Patrick Henry Half Marathon
Big Bass Country!
We drove down late, Friday night. I had about 3hours of sleep. Woke up at 5:42AM, made myself the hotel room coffee ... YUK! I hate, hate hate powdered milk!
This is as close to camping as it gets for me!
I got dressed, grabbed the raisin bagel and Kleen Kanteen full of 1/2 Gatorade - 1/2water, I brought from home and was off with my Side Kick! We left Mini-man sleeping in the hotel room. I have to admit, I was envious of the great snore he had going on! But the race started at 7AM, and there was no time to waste. In fact, it was still dark when we got to the race tents to pick-up my bib.
Race Started in front of entrance to Randolph Macon College
The race meandered through the pretty downtown streets of Ashland, Virginia. it was rainy and a bit windy, but I'd take that over a hazy, hot and humid, any day. The race took us west of town and on country roads, lined with corn stalks. I kept praying all the beautiful fields of corn were not Monsanto Genetically Modified Corn stalks. As the runners pushed on, we ran through lazy cows grazing on beautiful farmland. For me, this is a treat 'cause, by me, streets look more like this, by me:
Dinner in Hoboken, NJ Friday night
Yeah, the only cow, okay beef, I mean - you know what I mean - is seen here is in the kitchen, restaurant or local grocer's ...

The biggest challenge in the race was at the end of mile 11. The elevation rose about 120feet. I felt pretty strong, but my tummy did not. It brought my running to a halt. I got a little sick, had a moment, took a deep breath and pushed on. If I didn't meet up with my Crohn's  issues, I bet I could have broken 1:40! Instead, I finished 1:40:59 and took 2nd in my age group, missing out on 1st by seconds!

Overall, I'm very proud of this Patrick Henry half marathon results. I ran a pretty steady pace. I held back a little in the beginning - I was definitely afraid to re-injure my perpetually recovering hammy and piriformis muscles. Also, my tummy was a tad off at the start of the race, and I didn't want it to totally turn on me - as it did in the end ...no pun intended!
Virginia = State #11!
Looking to running another at the end of September around my Medical Nutrition quizzes and exams!
TRAIN SMART TODAY!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Food Facts Friday: The Power of Beetroot Juice

Coming home from vacation, I had plenty of time to skim through some reading material. It was a good distraction from the 2-hour delay in flights due to area thunder and lightening storms. So taking advantage of this delay and staying positive, I started to read my Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN)  2012 Summer Issue. SCAN is a dietetic practice group within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Don't you just love government acronyms?

I love reading the SCAN articles, they are quite informative. This issue was no different. In this issue, I stumbled on a little blurb about beetroot juice and it's ability to improve performance. My eyes bugged out!
Improve Performance?
Read on, girl, read on!
Apparently, beetroot juice is a potent source of nitrate, which "has the ability to improve endurance exercise efficiency."

I knew nitric oxide (NO) could help regulate blood flow, muscle contraction and mitochondrial biogenesis, but I didn't know we could get this help from something as simple as beetroot juice!
Mitochondria: Energy Powerhouse of the Cell
When we eat something that contains nitrate, like beetroot juice, the nitrate is converted to nitric oxide. In this study reported by SCAN, cyclists consumed beetroot juice for six days and participated in time trials following a 60minute sub-maximal ride. When compared to the control/placebo group, the beetroot juice drinkers had higher NO blood levels and were 1.2% faster!
Not 100%faster, but hey, I'll take it!

Other studies showed how drinking 500ml (1 cup = 236.6ml) of beetroot juice for three consecutive days helped reduce the"oxygen cost" to cyclists by as much as 20%.

Beets also contain betaine, a compound that can help enhance liver and joint function and bolster muscle strength and power.
I have seen Beet It and Biona, two Organic beetroot juice brands, in Whole Foods.
Seen Beet It in the refrigerated section
I have never tried beetroot juice, but I love beets in my salad. This is one of my favorite recipes, from Allrecipes.com:
Green Salad with Beets
If your not crazy about goat cheese (like my Side-kick), you can use Feta cheese, instead. Also, I use about 1/4cup (not 1/2cup) of the olive oil.

Well, I'm glad I had some beets in my salad this past week, but I don't think it was enough to help improve my NO blood levels for my 13.1 race, tomorrow. Think I'll go run to the store and buy some beetroot juice for my trip down to Virginia. Wish me luck &
TRAIN SMART TODAY!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Wonderful Sunrise Runs

My morning sunrise runs continued to be spectacular throughout my vacation week in the Southwest.

The run along Lake Powell was not as challenging as my run along the Grand Canyon rim. The lower elevation really helped. And even though Coach gave me "homework", I've been taking advantage of the beautiful scenery and tacking on an extra 1/2 mile or so.
Sunrise on Lake Powell
The scariest or "really cool surprise" on my Lake Powell morning run was the coyote that ran in front of me. At least he/she stopped for a picture. My hands were shaking, so it's not that clear!
Coyote at Lake Powell
My next morning's run was along the Bryce Canyon rim. This run was like the run along the Grand Canyon rim: VERY challenging. The sun seemed to take its time coming up over the hoodoos, so a good portion of my run was with very little light. That and the 8,000' elevation made this run seem like work every step - but fun work, you know?
Bryce Canyon Rim: running with the hoodoos
At least running has kept me in shape and I was able to keep up with the kids on a mule ride later that day down Bryce Canyon! I'm not brave when it comes to heights, so this was, for me, a facing your fears moment, even though our guide, Hank, toed me and my mule! But, hey, not bad for a chick who grew up 12miles west of Manhattan!
Half-Crazed trusting my guide, Hank ...
'cause the turn to go down is that edge you see past this mule's nose!
Girlfriend and Mini-man riding down Bryce Canyon, Utah
Thanks Hank( and kids), for bearing with me and my fear of heights!
That little 8year old girl, in the background, was my inspiration to keep going forward!
If she only knew how inspiring she was, to me!

I'm better off sticking to running - at least I know I can get both feet on the ground when I stop! So, the next morning, that's what I did ...in Zion. Another section of paradise!

With the Virgin River right next to me, I passed Mule Deer, frogs, Stellar's Jays and tarantula's (oh, yeah)! Like the other runs, it was also amazingly spectacular.
Morning run in Zion
I feel so fortunate to have visited some of our great National Parks. Discovering their morning personalities with a run was truly a blessing. I have such a greater appreciation for our National Parks. Each time I ran, I kept thinking:
Ask not what our earth can do for you, 
but what you can do for our earth...

Running through our National Parks was amazing and such a great way to
TRAIN SMART TODAY!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Vacation runs in the Southwest!

So far I have had two amazing runs while on vacation in the Southwest! Both have been in the wee hours of the morning, to see the beautiful sunrise. The first, Scottsdale, Arizona Pinnacle Peak Trail. The elevation was not as challenging as the climb. It gave me a new appreciation for the how & why behind the creation of Vibram toe shoes!
With views like that, I couldn't resist, even though my quads are still a bit tight.
The next run was also spectacular. I ran along the edge of the South rim of the Grand Canyon. 
It was breathtaking:

Next stop, Lake Powell.
TRAIN SMART TODAY!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Is Hemp the New Chia?

Did you know that there are about 2000 cannabis plant varieties?
Most of these are used for fiber, seeds, and oil, even though when people hear the word "Hemp", they immediately think of one thing: the mind-altering drug, marijuana. 
The many sides of Hemp!
Lately, all I hear about is: Hemp, the Super Food. It's everywhere I go, I see Hemp promoted as ingredients in bread, cereals, energy bars, and even protein powders. I am constantly seeing Hemp oil, nuts, seeds and powders in recipes for salads, shakes and juices.
One thing I do know is: 
Hemp certainly has staying power. Heck it's been around since 8000BC. 
But a Super Food?
When I hear Superfood, all I think is: Can it help me run faster? Longer? Can it fight inflammation, heal all my aches and pains and help me run without pain? Ech, can it help fight this whole getting old thing?
Desperate to solve the last statement, of course I did some research ...
The edible portion of Hemp, the shelled seed, is an excellent source of protein (6 grams per Tablespoon). In terms of protein, it is comparable to soy and better than some other nuts, seeds and dairy. This is a great to know for vegans, people who are lactose intolerant or can't digest milk fat (like me).
Chocolate milk always looks so yummy. Wish my tummy could tolerate it, :(
The cool part about Hemp protein is that it contains 9 essential amino acids (Essential = body can't make, we must eat them) in sufficient quantity and ratio to meet the body's needs. This is quite unusual for a plant protein. One not so great thing about plant proteins, aside from the fact that they are always incomplete and never deemed "sufficient", is that they are not as bioavailable - our bodies can't absorb plant protein as efficiently as it can animal proteins. Here, Hemp strikes a pose because Hemp protein has been shown to be very absorbable - even be more absorbable than soy protein and doesn't promote gas or bloating like soy can.
A Hemp Plus!
Hemp is also rich in chlorophyll. Since chlorophyll has an alkalizing effect on the body it builds a strong immune system. The benefits to maintaining a balanced pH include the fact that muscle tissue is easily gained and fat is easily shed. This is perfect for endurance athletes, who need to maintain muscle mass and a low BMI to be competitive. I've noticed a lot of people drink Hemp milk for this very reason.
Here are two lean, tough muscle endurance machines!
We are proud of you, Kara and Shalane!
Hemp seeds are also full of the essential Omega fatty acids (re: essential = body cannot make on own). Hemp contains  56% Omega-6, 19% Omega-3 and 7% Omega-9. This is the only food (known to date) that has this optimum ratio of omega oils matching, in the exact ratio, what the human body needs. Omega-3 fatty acids have long been praised for their help in reducing risks of heart attacks, stroke and for fighting inflammation. That, of course, is music to my ears!

Another plus is that Hemp seeds are also rich in GLA (Gamma Linoleic Acid), another essential fatty acid which is derived from Omega-6. GLA has been shown to be advantageous for rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and even ADHD!
I'm thinking Suuperfood Category, for sure!
Go Hemp, Go Hemp, Go Hemp!
Other nutritional benefits of Hemp include it's high dietary fiber content (35%) and it's nutrient richness of the B, D and E vitamins, as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium carotene.
Did I get your interest? 
Maybe you want to plant some in your garden? 
It's (so I've been told) a fast growing plant, which requires little to no pesticides or fungicides and because it naturally repels pests, it can be a great companion plant next to your rhubarb, tomatoes and cucumbers! Just don't get caught - 'cause it's still illegal to grow in the US. Yeah, the US has had a history of being very uptight when it comes to Hemp, except of  course when it was the norm to grow it back in the days of President Washington and Jefferson. Even now, the seeds you buy, by law, must contain 0.3% or less of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marajuana).

It's funny how over the last few years, I've heard of so many Super Foods: Acai berries, Goji Berries, Flax seeds, Chia seeds and now Hemp. Like all foods, moderation and variety are key. It looks as if Hemp is a great source of digestible protein, fiber, fatty acids and vitamins, and it looks as if it has a rightful place among the other Super Foods in your cabinet or frig. So go ahead, make a salad dressing with some Hemp oil or toss some Hemp seeds into your salad, oatmeal, yogurt or some Hemp powder in your post workout drink and
TRAIN SMART TODAY!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday at the track: Imagination!

I was late to the track, today. I was skype-ing with my daughter's friend and his parents. 
They live in Spain and Girlfriend is going to visit them in a few weeks.
Mini-man, Girlfriend and Her friend from Spain
So, because I was late, I only ran a mile warm-up. 
Next up, Strides: Four 100meter strides. I imagined I was Carmelita Jeter for 19sec, 19sec, 19 sec and another 19sec - I know, I know, not quite 10.78seconds on the 100meter - I'm a little slower - I'll blame it on the fact that I've been glued to the Olympics and staying up way past my bedtime for the last couple weeks! That's a good reason, right?
We love you Carmelita!
Congratulations! You are awesome!
Coach was back today and he shared his adorable pictures of his beautiful Grand baby. He is on Cloud 9! It's such a site to see. I'm so happy for him!
Coach went a little easy on me, today. 
I ran 250meters at 6:20-6:30pace, jogged about 150meters and repeated 8 more times. I concentrated on my form. Kicked quick and with force, and I tried to widen my strides - I imagined I was Sanya Richards Ross ...
Go Sanya! You are amazing! Congratulations!
Wow, look at that stride!
Afterward, I ran a 2mile cool down and stretched, stretched, stretched. Of course, I'm not as limber as Aly Reisman or Kyla Ross, but when I am stretching, I AM:
Kyla Ross, how do you do that?
Congratulations, Aly Reisman slayed it on the floor last night!
Absolutely beautiful!
Imagination is a weird thing. I wonder who motivates these elite athletes - if they ever imagine they are like someone, or like something, while they are training. I wonder what they are thinking when they are competing?
Does someone or something motivate you?
What/who helps you to
TRAIN SMART TODAY?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Air Food!

When I was studying for my Masters, I had to endure a second term of organic chemistry.
Oh! Chem.
There were moments in that term, I will remember forever - like getting bronchitis 4 times, from being so stressed, having a 104 fever and a really bad ear infection, which led to a burst eardrum, while dressing the kids in their snowsuits so they could play in the snow and I could shovel out the car & shovel the sidewalk (why we have side walks in North Jersey, I'll never quite understand) and studying at 5AM, each day, before the kids woke for school. I wish I knew about the Traditional Medicinals Immune Support Tea, back then! Now, I know, that tea and a Cold Ease when I feel the slightest bit of a cold, and it's like:
What cold, Where?
There were also memorable moments in the O-Chemistry class, when the professor would culminate a lesson and bring real life scenarios into play. This was the best part of the class. One day, he told us a story about volatile organic allelochemicals. He said that trees and plants talk to each other and communicate via these chemicals. 
How cool is that?
Hey, are you listening over there?
Fast Forward: Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing
A growing Japanese Trend (since 1986) Forest Therapy/Forest Bathing:
Shinrin-Yoku
Otherwise known as: Taking a walk in a forested or wooded area.

Benefit #1
Reduced cortisol levels, slower heart rates and lower blood pressure levels, and a feeling of being relaxed. 
Cortisol is your stress hormone, you produce lots of cortisol when when your stressed. It's simple, forests have a cool & calming effect on people. Live in a city? That's okay, research shows a reduction in cortisol levels just by looking at a forest scene.
Make it a screen saver - only 20minutes a day and benefits abound!
Benefit #2
This is so cool: 
Inhaling essential wood oils (aka: volatile organic allelochemicals
helps strengthen your immune system! 
When you walk through a forest/wooded area, you breathe in natural oils (phytoncide) that are produced by certain plants. When you inhale these natural oils, you enhance your Natural Killer (NK) cells and Anti-cancer proteins! Your NK cells are super important because they provide a rapid response to infected or stressed cells and quickly respond to tumor formations.

These natural wood oils are like plant phytochemicals, which is how plants protect themselves. Under duress, plants will increase these natural substances, which triggers other plants to increase their natural chemical defenses, too. This is how trees and plants "talk" to each other - and help each other to prepare and fight diseases, insects and even drought. Who needs GMO's?

Future studies are designed to see if Forest Therapy can lower blood sugar levels, which would be great for diabetics. These benefits would have to show impact on blood sugar above and beyond exercise alone.

In Japan, Forest Therapy is being prescribed by doctors to patients showing signs of stress. 
There are even Certified Forests and Afforested Designate Forest Therapy bases!

Feeling stressed?
Maybe you need some Air Food?
Go for a walk in the woods.
Better yet, 
Go for a trail run!
TRAIN SMART TODAY!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday at the track: Once Upon A Tear

The cold laser is really helping.
Thanks, Dr Jayne!
Last week, I was so inflamed that I had pain from my hip to my plantar fascia. It was awful. Since last Wednesday, I had two more cold laser therapy treatments. Drugs mask the pain, but the cold laser stops the pain & promotes healing. It's really great!
I also went back to my orthopedic doctor. 
I was describing all my aches & pains, when he stopped me mid-sentence, "When did you say you tore your hamstring?"
Me: Back in 2004, why?
Doc: When did you say you felt this recent problem start up?
Me: In the beginning of May. I was at the track & I guess I was getting tired. I was doing twelve 200meter strides. I was on #11 & it felt like my left leg jammed into the track.
Doc: I think you re-tore your hamstring, not like you did back in 2004, but just a little. You know tears can always present problems. Then he dropped the bomb:
Once a tear, always a tear.
Yeay! 
Just what I wanted to hear!
OUCH!
So, I'm going back to PT, but this time for some strength and stretching exercises to work this very sore Hammy/Glute unit.
In the meanwhile, I'm trying to keep up with my training and today wasn't half bad.  
I ran a 2mile warm up, then broke into four 100meter strides. Last week, I was so uncoordinated, it was taking me up to 23seconds for a 100meter strides. Today, I actually did them in 19seconds!
Thursday at the track!
Next, I ran two 400meter sets at 6:40min/mile pace with a slow 200meter jog. Then, I ran one 800meter set at a 7min/mile pace, followed by a slow 400meter jog. Then, I repeated all of the sets.
Afterward, I ran my mile cool down and I had a little pain. 
Ssssh, don't tell Coach (he's still visiting his family & getting Grandpa time with his new baby granddaughter), but I had to stop and walk a little on this cool down run. I was really proud of my body holding out today, but my legs felt very heavy and tired. Throughout the cool down, even though the workout was tough and my legs felt heavy, I kept wondering why Coach didn't assign me one more set?
I guess he's still taking it easy on me.
Good thing - I'm was a little sore in that cool down.
Well, I'm writing this while watching my son & his buddy strength train for wrestling and they're almost done, and that means blog time is over!
Obligatory blog pose:
The guys & their post workout recovery protein shake!
TRAIN SMART TODAY!