Archive for March, 2008

Take it and Run Thursday: Gear, Gadgets and Equipment

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Ode to my Garmin Forerunner 205

How do I love the Garmie? Let me count the ways.
I love Garmie to the end of my street and back
My soles carry me left and right
For the finish line of every race.
I love thy beeps that encourage my pace.
I love thy beeps that tell me to take it easy.
I love thy maps that show me where I’ve been.
With my last miles — I love thee virtual trainer.
(Parody of Sonnet XLIII by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Unfortunately I have missed the past couple of Take It and Run Thursdays, so I thought I would start this one off with style.  The topic for this week Gear, Gadgets and Equipment.  Since I just returned from dropping my Garmie off at the FedEx place so he could make his return trip to GARMIN International I thought I would write about him.  Oh how I miss them. 

So I am not the best poet, but I do truly love my Garmin.  Despite being constantly strapped to my arm and dictating my pre-running routine it really brings a new freedom to my running.   My routine goes as follows:

  1. After an 8 minute warm-up on the treadmill.
  2. Adorn any extra layers needed to gaurd against the elements.
  3. Step onto the back porch and turn on my Garmin. 
  4. Stretch while Garmin finds his friends the GPS satellites and I encourage the dog to “do her business”.
  5. Venture back through the house to the front door while verifying that I have the correct distance alert set.
  6. Exit the front door locking it behind me.
  7. Descend the first step.
  8. Descend the second step.
  9. Hit the START button.
  10. GO!

These 10 simple steps are where Garmies control ends.  After that I tell him where were going.  I will be honest that often my running route goes the same way, but it doesn’t have to.  If I am running down the street and find that there is a tractor trailer in the way then there is no problem.  I simply turn around and make up the distance by looping one of the courts more than once.  There is no guess work here, not driving the car around the neighborhood to make sure I covered the correct distance.  No boring tracks or trails with miles markers needed.  I go where I want to go when I want to.

One of my favorite features of my Garmin is  When returning from my run I simply snap my Garmin into its little craddle and send its data up to the motion based website.  It then gives me a map of my run.  Information on my splits.  Temperature readings from while I was out.  I also go to use the Player and watch a little red dot run the route root I ran.  How fun is that???  For a sample here is the Superbowl 5K I ran a few weeks ago.

Unfotunately my Garmin had an accident.  Luckily Garmin has a great warranty program, so my Garmie is snugly wrapped in bubble paper making his way back to the company to have his arm reattached.  In the meantime I am using his older cousin Garmin 201 that I had retired and given to my mother to use for her walks.  Hopefully he will be back to me soon and I garuntee you I will be watching his tracking number like my life depended on it.

Photographic Evidence!

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Yeah, I may have forgot to mention that I forgot my camera for the B&A Half on Sunday.  Luckily Brightroom was there and they caught photographic evidence that Jeff and I did run part of the race together.  Check it out.  Oh, and this one too. This is also evidence that I look like a theif when I am running in my cold gear.  😉  There are more picture of mere here.  Remind me next time not to exhale when the camera is near. 

Actually, It Can Be Easy Being Green

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Recently I have a renewed desire to live as green as I can.  I want to leave an impact on this planet when I go but I don’t want it to be in landfills if you know what I mean.  I am not asking anyone to go Freegan here, but there are small changes we call can make to lessen our impact on our mother earth.  Here are just a few of the ones that I have adopted:

  1. When you are drying your hands in a public place use 1 less paper towel.  There are signs in the bathrooms as LAX that give you a statistic as to how many trees can be saved if you only use one less paper towel.  Of course I can’t remember that number but I will have to try to remember to write it down in September.  When drying your hands at home use reusable towels instead of paper.
  2. Don’t buy bottled water, instead use reusable bottles.  Try sticking to those with the numbers 2, 4 and 5 inside the recycling symbol on the bottom of the bottle for your own safety.  If you do end up having to use a bottled water reuse the bottle for the day and then recycle it.  This is what I do when I am at races and have no choice but to use a bottled water.
  3. Switch your home cleaning products to those that are not petroleum based.  I recently switched over my dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent to products that are earth friendly.  I am happy to report that they actually do a better job than the stuff I used before.  I am not the best at pre-rinsing dishes before tossing them in the dishwasher and almost always have one bowl with something that I had eaten crusted onto it.  That problem has been significantly reduced since switching to this new detergent.
  4. Sign up for a junk mail reduction service.  Of course everyone notices my add for Green Dimes off to the side here.  It really has helped me reduce my every day junk mail.  So not only do you lessen your impact from the amount of junk mail you toss (or recycle, see item #7) but you also lessen the stress on yourself by how much junk mail you see day-in and day-out.
  5. Slow down!  When the light turns green and you stomp on the gas you use more gas in the long run.  If you slow down your acceleration and obey the speed limit you actually use less gas.  This is better for our planet and easier on your pocket book.
  6. Take your own bag to the grocery store.  I purchased some unbleached cotton bags off of Amazon and I take them to the grocery store with me when I go.  Not only do you limit the number of petroleum based plastic bags that end up in the trash (or recycling bin, again see item #7) but most grocery stores will give you a kick back for saving them money.  You don’t even have to go online to purchase these bags because most grocery stores now sell them right there in the store.
  7. Recycle, recycle, recycle.  Can’t say it enough.  Find out what recycling programs your community supports and participate.  Don’t have one or have items that you can’t recycle locally?  Look into programs like Terracycle.  This is something so easy to do and it has a lasting impact.
  8. Buy recycled products.  Look for items that declare themselves as being made from recycled materials.  It helps promote #7 and limits the new resources used in making the items you use every day. 
  9. Turn off the lights.  I have made it a habit to turn off lights as I go.  I had a bad rep for leaving them on while I ran from room to room, but now I don’t care what I am doing as I leave one room and enter another I flip the switches as I go.
  10. Use compact fluorescent bulbs.  I have been converting my light bulbs over one-by-one as my old bulbs have died.  They use less energy and last for years!  My first one burnt out a month ago and I bought it my first year of college.  We are talking 1996 here people!
  11. Unplug appliances that are just sitting.  Even your toaster oven will soak some juice if you leave it plugged in.  If you aren’t using something unplug it.  This is hard to remember, but I am getting better and better at it every day.  (Did I unplug after toasting my bagel this morning?)
  12. Limit your showers and turn off the water as you brush your teeth.  My mission for this week has been to try to limit my showers to 10 minutes.  I always turn off the water as I brush my teeth so that water doesn’t just run down the drain.
  13. Donate your old clothes and shoes.  I already take my old clothes to goodwill, but in addition I am going to start taking my running shoes to the local running store.  There is a bin out front where they take old shoes and either send them to Africa for budding runners or send them to the local homeless shelter.  I have about 8 pair that I need to get out of my closet.

I am sure there are things I missed, but these are just a few things to get some ideas going in your own heads.  If I had the money there are two big things I would love to do: 1. Get a tankless water heater and 2. Install solar panels on my roof.

On to workout stuff!  Last week I road 14 miles on my recumbent bike one day out of desperation caused by bad weather.  I felt so much faster during my run the next day I couldn’t believe it.  I think it really ecourages me to pick up my turnover when I run.  This morning I again jumped on my bike for 7.50 miles after I finished some strength training.  We will see how it impacts my run tomorrow morning.  If it works out well I think I will make the bike a regular part of my routine as so many of my running friends already do.

New Red Shoes

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Saturday I dragged my buns over to Holabird Sports to get myself some new running shoes.  I knew mine were on their last legs since they had dragged me through my full marathon training as well as the marathon.  I estimated over 270 miles were put on those shoes and that is more than enough to wear them down.

I noticed on the Holabird site that my favorite shoe appeared to be red now and I was slightly disappointed.  Last seasons colors had my shoes a nice purple and navy.  They were right up my alley.  I wasn’t looking forward to the red.

Luckily when the shoes came out from the stockroom I was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t really red.  They were more of a maroon with orange accents.  They actually were pretty cool looking.  I bought 2 pairs as well as my first running skirt.  🙂

This morning I took one of the pairs out for an easy 5K.  My legs were a good bit tight during the first mile and a half, but my ankle wasn’t bothering me as much as I thought it would.  That makes me think that my ankle pain wasn’t really helped on Sunday by the lack of support left in my shoes. 

I need to go out to the local running store in two weeks to pick up a race packet and I plan to take a bag of old running shoes with me to donate to charity.  They have bins out front of the store for you to drop your old running shoes in.  They will be going to a good cause.  It is nice to know that after they have helped me they will go on to help someone else too. 

B&A Half Marathon – A finish I can live with…

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Looking  back at the race this morning I feel like I should be more disappointed.  I didn’t reach my goal, but I am happy with how I ran the race.  I can’t look back and think, “Maybe I should have done this instead.”  Let’s start from the beginning.

The race start was a 45 minute run from my house so poor Dad picked me up at 5:30 AM on a Sunday.  I am so lucky to have such a loving and supportive father.  I can’t thank him enough for how much he does for me and my running. 

We arrived at the expo a little earlier than we were shooting for, but it worked out great.  I picked up my race packet and spent some time relaxing in the high school cafeteria while Dad grabbed a coffee.  The race premium for this event was more than worth it.  It is a very nice hunter green fleece vest with the race logo embroidered on the pocket.  I was really surprisesd at the quality of the vest and know I will wear it with pride. 

It wasn’t too long before I saw a familiar face walking down the picnic tables.  My buddy Jeff, a.k.a. Formerly Fat Running Guy, was also running this race and I was looking forward to actually getting to talk to him in person rather than just waving to him as he ran by like at Baltimore.  We sat and chatted for a moment then decided to break and hit our designated bathrooms.  Shorlty thereafter we congregated back in the school lobby.

With a quick watch check we realized it was alread time to get lined up at the start.  We headed out and lined up with the group.  This year’s event had a new route which caused some confusion.  We all got lined up and it was announced that we were facing the wrong direction.  We all start walking around the timing mats to the other side and the woman announces that no she was right the first time so we all start heading back.  She stops us again and has us turn around before she decided once again she was right the first time.  This was a bit annoying, but made for a good laugh for most of us trying to figure out where the race started.

Once in place things started without a hitch.  I was running as closed to Jeff’s pace as I could get, which was pushing me a little, but not uncomfortably.  We chatted it up discussing our own previous experiences and our friends in the Tumbleweed Running Club.  About half way through the second mile we finally found ourselves on the actual B&A Trail.  The first water stop was at 2.8 miles which was sooner than I had expected.  We walked through the stop taking in our water and gatorade.  I had told Jeff from the start to leave me when he felt he needed to.  He needed to shortly after 3 miles.  😀  He really helped me get my pace up and get myself off to a GREAT start.  He stayed within my sight until about 4.5 miles and then I lost him into a small crowd of people.

The race is advertised as flat, but I wouldn’t have described it as such.  There were no huge hills for the frist 6 or so miles, but there was a constant grade to the course whether up, down, to the left or to the right.  I didn’t realize what a difference this was making for me until after I hit the real hill.  All I saw was that I was running a great race and made it to mile 6 in 1:08 minutes.  If I kept this up I thought there was a chance I would surpass my goal and maybe even squeeze out a PR.  At about mile 6.5 we started the downhill descent.  It was at mile 6.64 mies that I saw Jeff coming back at me.  We both threw our arms in the air and cheered as we ran towards each other and then slapped 5 as we passed.  The descent took me down to about mile 7 where we hit the turn around.  As I started to come back up the hill I knew it was better to walk the steeper sections in order to protect my bum ankle. 

I finally made it back to the water stop at the top of the hill and grabbed some more water as I come across the crest of the hill.  I started walking with my water and started to feel a little weakness in my ankle, but nothing to be overly concerned with.  I started back up my run heading back in the other direction.  At about mile 8.5 I took another quick walk break as my weakness in my ankle started to almost hurt.  I walked to mile 9 and things started to feel better.  I jogged a few hunder feet and walked again to mile 10.  I was still only at 2:08 at mile 10.  If I kept going I could still reach my goal of finishing in under 2:45, but was it going to be worth it.  Was it going to be worth it if I ended up injuring my ankle.

I decided to walk as much of the last 5K as I could.  I probably ran a total of 3/4 of a mile of it.  When I came up on the merge back into the full marathon group I decided to start running till I got to the finish.  I made the turn into the school parking lot and there were Dad and Jeff cheering me on.  I crossed the finish line to everyone yelling “Go 5-5-9!”  They cut off my chip and I recieved me medal.

The medal also has the train on it with the date.  It looks like it is one of the stock medals you can order off the internet with a decal on it, but it is larger and better quality than I was expecting. 

One of the concerns Jeff and I both had about this race is that the trail is only about 8-10 feet wide.  We were wondering how the 1000+ runners would fit onto the course.  Turns  out that was nothign to worry about.  The packs thinned out enough on the residential streets that by the time we hit the trail everyone was scattered out.  As I started to walk there was long strips where I was all by myself. 

I would definitely go back to do this race again now that I know what the grade to the course is like.  Also I have to say the steaming hot slice of pizza that Jeff grabbed for me while iI was in the ladies room really hit the spot after the cold race.  They chocolate chip cookies weren’t too bad either.  😉