Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Garmin Forerunner 220 review

Not a picture from today. 

I've had the Garmin Forerunner 220 for a while now. I miss my Bia telling me I was a badass for running, but for the most part I love the forerunner. I had a Garmin 305 for a couple of years and the 220 is SO much nicer. Besides it being purple, which is my favorite color these days, it works so much better. My big problem with the 305 was finding the satellite. I would stand at the end of my driveway with my hand held high just in case the extra few inches would make it easier for the satellite to connect (it didn't). I wasted so many minutes (just run you say, who needs a watch you say. I do. I need one). There's none of that satellite malarkey with this version. I think it can remember satellite positions for up to a week if you use it with your iPhone. I do have it linked to my iPhone and I always have my iPhone with me so it finds the satellite easy peasy.

I also love the vibration at each lap. Because I walk 1 minute at the beginning of each mile for my long runs it is super helpful to have that extra reminder that I've finished a lap. I have my laps set to a mile, but when I do an interval run it will vibrate at whatever distance I've chosen. You can program multi step runs (Pyramid Intervals) using Garmin Connect or you can do a generic run/walk interval workout (1/4 mile repeats, etc). 

Because I run with my phone, as soon as I hit save on the watch my run is uploaded to Garmin Connect (which then feeds into MapMyRun). I can see my mile splits, elevation, & cadence (!) through the Garmin Connect app (or website). For a data geek like me, it's super. There's a bit of a translation problem between Garmin & MapMyRun. The mile splits are never the same when they are imported into MMR & sometimes the average pace is just totally wrong. I usually just edit MMR. I don't really care about MMR except that all of my friends are on it. I've stopped using the Everymove app so I don't even really need MMR. Anyway, I digress. I don't really do too much with Garmin Connect but I love having the cadence info! 

I've also been able to wear the watch while using the treadmill. The accuracy has been hit or miss. I still have my footpod I bought to go with the 305 so if I really care I can sync it with the 220. I don't really care that much except I would love to see the cadence info while on the treadmill. I think that I take way more steps on the treadmill and that's one of the reasons why it's so much harder for me. Just a theory.

Another feature dependent on having your iPhone with you is Live Tracking. At the last half marathon I was able to send an email invitation to Vader and he could watch my little blue dot progress on the map. There's an option to also send an invite to Facebook and Twitter, but I'm not sure what that does. I chose Facebook thinking that a link would go out on my timeline, but that did not happen. I don't know if it spammed all my Facebook contacts instead but I haven't heard anything. 

It may not be "beloved" yet, but I do not regret spending the money and buying a new watch at all. I really do like it, love it even, and I think I chose the right one. There was a rebate going on (expires May 31st) so I should be getting $25 back in a couple of months which is even better.

For an actual detailed analysis and review of the watch, check out DC Rainmaker's post.

I bought this with my own money and reviewed it so I can pretend to have things to do.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Believe, part deux

I didn't get a chance last week to write up my race goals for the Steel Rail Half Marathon. It was a really busy week-- I was a surprise guest reader in Chewie's class and the Princess turned 8. The Strong Running Mamas celebrated our 5 years together with a night out not wearing running clothes. So, just trust me when I tell you what my goals were (although I think I may have talked about them once or twice before): 

All I wanted to do for this half was get back down to my original half marathon time of 2:15. That's it. I'll admit that I after my 5K PR, I did plug my times into the McMillian calculator to see what a 27:22 5K would mean for a half marathon (2:07) but I decided to just stick with my original 2:15 goal. I was slightly concerned that I hadn't done as many double digit long runs as I should have because I had those 2 5Ks. So much of my mental focus in my training has been on the 5K and not on this race, but I was fairly confident I would be able to do 2:15 again. I also really wanted to run negative splits which is always a goal of mine. 

My day started at 6 am which is wicked early for me. I wasn't able to eat much because of nerves and the time but I had my normal cup of tea. I also brought a hot cup of Runner's Tea for the car. In addition to the 40 ounces of water I had in my hydration vest, I had an extra bottle of cold Runner's Tea. I was pretty set with the liquids. We carpooled to the race and got there around 8:30. 

There were so many friends running this race. Lots of Strong Running Mamas:
Strong Running Mamas before the race
Lots of local running friends. And our very own Boston-finisher-should-be-elite runner: 
Me and Jim before the race
There were roughly 600 runners but it really didn't look like it. I tried to line up in the middle of the pack so I wouldn't go out too fast. I didn't realize there was a starting line so I started my watch when the "gun" went off which was 16 seconds away from the start. I realized it though so I decided to just use the mile markers on the road as a guide for my walking. At each mile sign I walked for one minute and drank the Runner's Tea and then my water. Anyway, as usual I started out way too fast which isn't the right way to go when you really want to negative split. My goal was a 10:18 pace and my plan was to run 10:20 for the first half and then speed up. My first mile was 8:49. Oops. I tried to rein myself in for the next few miles:

Mile 2 9:30
Mile 3 9:59
Mile 4 10:15

Around Mile 4 I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom. I knew there was a port-o-pottie somewhere around mile 6-7. I willed myself to just make it to the potty and then I would speed up. 

Mile 5: 10:21
Mile 6: 10:22
Mile 7: 10:03

I can't remember exactly where the potty was but it was a beautiful thing to see. I didn't care if I would lose a minute. I knew if I didn't go I would spend the rest of the race slowing down. My watch automatically paused which was both good and bad. I now know I only "lost" 1 minute 7 seconds thanks to the data on garmin connect. But I didn't know how much I had lost while I was running so I figured I should try to run a little faster. 

Once I had that out of the way I focused on running slightly faster and starting to pass some people. I was constantly taking stock-- my legs were good, my breathing was good, I was well hydrated, not too hot, not too cold. 

Mile 8: 10:08
Mile 9: 9:52
Mile 10: 10:14
Mile 11: 10:16

I started to falter just a bit at 10 and 11, but I knew I still had some time to play with because I was still above my 10:18 average pace goal. I walked for the last time when I saw the mile 11 sign. From then on I put it into high gear and tried to run as fast as I could and pass as many people as I could. At mile 12 I found Bridget and ran with her for a short time and then I just let it go. 

Mile 12: 10:01
Mile 13: 8:58
.17: 8:42

The last mile I ran with a huge smile plastered to my face. I knew I was not going to run 2:15. I was going to finish faster. The last 10th of a mile I saw Super Runner Jim (1st in his Age Group, 8th finisher overall) cheering me and it carried me through. 

My official time was 2:11:07 (that includes the potty break. The time on my watch because of the auto-pause was 2:10:16) with a 10:00 avg pace. 4 minutes faster than my half marathon PR, 12 minutes faster than my time in my last half just 7 months ago. I was not at all anticipating a PR. I was aiming for 2:15 and I was going to be happy with 2:15. But when I hit the half mark and did the math I knew I could do it. I just had to keep up the pace or preferably run faster and I chose at that moment to just BELIEVE I could do it. And at each mile I kept believing until I crossed the finish. 

Overall: 324/608
Females: 166/384
Age Group: 51/117

Despite starting out too fast, I think I still managed to run the second half faster (the first 7 miles: 69.19, last 6: 59:29). I know I definitely felt stronger and in control. My legs felt fine (although my toes did hurt a bit again), my breathing was fine, everything was FINE. I think that training in the heat definitely helped me because I was not at all bothered by it like everybody else was. I actually kind of liked it... I think the Runner's Tea helped me. I think adding biking to my plan, even though I haven't done any this month, helped a lot. Walking every mile REALLY helped. All the speedwork I did to PR for the 5K probably helped in this race as well. But more than anything else it was BELIEVING I could do it. I knew I was running smart and I didn't allow ANY doubt. 

So that's 2 PRs in 2 weeks. I can't even tell you how much I love that this is happening this year. In just a couple of weeks it will be 5 years since the very first race I ran and here I am running my strongest year. Just a couple of months before I turn 40 too... which is good because those ladies are FAST. 

I am super stoked and elated and really looking forward to NOT running this week. If I can get all the stuff done I need to do (clean the pool, finish the garden, plan a birthday party or two, scrub some toilets, write a MILLION book reviews), I'll start running again next week. If not, my first run back may be at the Freihofer's! 

Me, Bridget and Elisa after the race

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Runner's Tea

Back in January I started seeing some tweets (there's that Twitter again) about something called Runner's Tea. I was immediately intrigued. I've read before that coffee can be great before a run (provided you're not dumping a bucket or sugar and milk in it which is what I would have to do to drink it) but I don't drink coffee. I've been a tea drinker for a couple of decades now. Ok, maybe a few decades. Anyway, when I saw that someone had come up with a tea specially formulated to help with running, I HAD to try it.

When I say I'm a tea drinker, I mean, I put a tea bag in my mug with a dollop (not a bucket) of sugar & milk. Less and less sugar actually. I'll drink any kind of tea when I'm out, but I usually drink Lipton at home. So I'm not quite the tea connossueuir... The Runner's Tea does not come in tea bags. It's a powder with herbs and spices. It's packed quite full of useful things like lemongrass and cinnamon and cayenne! You can find a list of ingredients and their health benefits on their website. This is not your regular run of the mill tea.

I bought a little ball infuser to use with the tea and it worked horribly. Well, it worked just fine but for me it was horrible. I have super texture issues-- I'm the girl who buys No Pulp orange juice and gags if there's a little bit in there. The infuser let lots of the smaller herbs through and I just couldn't deal. The website has instructions for using the tea both hot and cold and I remembered my iced tea maker that I hadn't used in a while... So I made a pitcher of the tea with that and it was awesome. No little bits floating in my tea and enough tea to last me a few runs! I've used it on a couple of long runs (cold) and I also used it for the pyramid intervals I did a couple of weeks ago. Hot is supposed to be better for speed so I put the iced tea in a mug and heated it up in the microwave. I put it in a travel tea bottle I have & actually drank it before & during my intervals. It worked great. It was a really good treadmill run. Hopefully the microwave is not mutating the organic goodness of the tea because I've done this for both speedwork and my race and it was awesome. I drink it hot while doing treadmill intervals (I know, but it works!) and then I drank it hot in the car on the way to the race. Which turned out pretty well. 

I can't say for sure if the tea is having an actual effect on my running, but it seems to be working out. I've had decent long runs after drinking it, I've had quality speedwork while drinking it, and I had an awesome PR-breaking race after drinking it. I don't want to discredit all the hard work I put into my running this training cycle and say it was the tea. But I think it definitely helped to give me an extra kick. I don't use Gatorade or energy drinks and I haven't had to use Nuun at all. I have the citrus mint flavor now and might try the berry one. There's also a new recovery blend I'd like to look into. I've had NO issues with my stomach while drinking it and it didn't conflict with the Honey Stinger chews I used on a long run. I'll definitely be buying more of this tea. 

I was able to purchase this tea at a discounted price thanks to an ambassador on Twitter. But I did purchase it on my own and I'm reviewing it so I have something to blog about not because they asked me to (they didn't). If you'd like to try some of your own, check out their website: http://runnerstea.myshopify.com

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

April stats

I'm still riding pretty high from Saturday's race. I had to tell Lauren Fleshman how I did because we're besties now and she replied and retweeted me. Such a perfect day. The best part though was having my family there and my kids seeing me get the medal.

April was a pretty good month. I was able to do some stroller runs, some decent long runs, good speedwork & I ran a race. I upped my running mileage and for the first time in months I ran more than I biked! I seem to have forgotten to do any strength training. Oh well.

Total Mileage: 129.4 miles
Running: 72.4
Biking: 57
Crosstraining: Oops
Races: 1

Monday, May 4, 2015

Strong Running Mama

I started running 5 years ago. I really didn't know anything about running. I had no idea that when you first start out you make tremendous gains in a short amount of time without even really trying. I PR'd every race that I did--by minutes--and I thought that was the way it was. I had no idea that 5 years later I would have to work so hard and fight for SECONDS. But that's the way it is, you reach a point when you are no longer a new runner and you have to work harder and change things up if you want to progress. I've learned a lot in the last couple of years. I've read as many articles about running and speedwork as the miles I've run. 

I've worked hard this training cycle--I've added cycling with the exercise bike, I've been pretty diligent about my speedwork, and I've tried to run smart. But the biggest thing holding me back wasn't my legs or my breathing or even those kidney stones and the fear of peeing blood, the biggest thing holding me back was my mind. You know that saying that runners like to share about not competing with each other, but rather with the voice inside their own heads saying they can't do it? The voice inside my head is pretty loud. "Why are you even doing this? You've been a couch potato bookworm your entire life. You don't belong here. You can't do this, why even try? Who do you think you are?" I've had a few good runs in the last couple of weeks to help mute that voice, but it was still there. 

And it was there when I lined up to run my A-goal race on Saturday. It was there when the horn went off. And then... then, I shut that voice up. 

Sara (1st woman overall), Kathleen (4th overall & 1st in Age Group), & me
Before the race

I wanted negative splits for this race but it didn't quite work out that way. I had planned on 8:55, 8:50 and 8:48. I started out way too fast, as usual, but even more so because it really is a small race. I looked at my watch and saw I was doing 7:30 and decided I needed to rein myself a bit. I wanted to finish fast, not last. So I forced myself to slow down and hit the first mile at 8:33

Starting a wee bit too fast. 

A bit faster than my intended 8:55. The second mile I ran into a herd of fundraising walkers (from a benefit walk being held at the same time on the same course) and that slowed me down. There was a lot of weaving around dogs on leashes and bikes and kids and it was not exactly fun. I finished the second mile in 8:57. I knew that all I had to do was keep running, not slow down, and I could get to my goal. I just couldn't give up. That voice in my head tried so hard to knock me down, but I tried harder. I sped up. My legs were fine, my breathing was fine, I was strong. I knew I could do it. I just had to hold on. I finished the last mile in 8:45. While not true negative splits, at least it was faster than the second. I saw the finish line and the time on the clock and I gave it everything I had. I did the last .15 (according my to watch) in 7:28

I finished the race in 27:22, beating my A-goal, 13 seconds faster than my almost 4 year old PR, and 44 seconds faster than when I did this race last year. I came in first in my age group (7 of us), 2 minutes ahead of the second woman in our AG, 7th out of 52 women, 27 out of 97 total. 

I needed this race. I'm thrilled with the results, I'm thrilled with my effort. I didn't give up. Didn't give in.  I fought for those seconds. I worked for them. And when that little voice asks "Who do you think you are?" again, I have the answer:

Strong Running Mama