Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Sisterhood of One Travelling Sister

My sister will be studying in England for the year, which is quite far away from her island home of Hawaii.  She stayed with us for a few days, which was awesome beyond awesome.  I don't see her often, so this chance to hang out and be all goofy-sistery together was so incredible beyond words.  She left this afternoon and I already miss her, but Iʻm so excited for her upcoming adventures.  Speaking of adventures, we had a bit of our own while she was here.

Let's start from the beginning: I knew my mileage would be low this week since we'd be busy doing touristy stuff, so I wanted to get a good run in before she arrived.  I did a quick 7-mile run on Tuesday, running around Lake A. and on a paved trail that has gotten a bit of a makeover:

Running on lunch break
Lake A.

Running on lunch break
The trail now has blue lines!

It was a beeeyoooootiful day -- sunny with just a touch of chill -- but I think my body was still tired from FitBloggin' because my legs felt dead the whole way.  I managed to finish in just over an hour at 8:40 m/m.  I was a little bummed with that time, but oh well.  It was still a good run.

My sister arrived later that day, and Nugget was not the best welcoming party.  In fact, he screamed when he first saw her and cried every time she looked at him.  Over the week, he slowly warmed up to her, and when she boarded the plane today, he was sincerely sad to see her go.    

Item one on our list: shopping!  We wanted to get her a pair of knee-high boots, which are so awesome to wear but completely impractical in Hawaii.  We found her a pair, as well as a few cute outfits.  The Ann Taylor outlet was having an awesome sale!

Item two: workout together.  My sister is a fitness fiend, so I was a bit nervous about this.  I like to run, that's about it.  Occasionally I will do standard push-ups or lunges or a simple plank, but dive bomber burpees?  WTH is that?  My sister had to explain and demonstrate each move to me, and of course, she made them look so easy.  She came up with 16 body weight exercises for us to do, for 30 seconds each, with 10 second rest in between.  We did each set twice.  I. was. dying.  

Three Pulsating Squats with Tuck Jump
(aka Levitating Bartender)

Crab Walk with Dancing Crab
(aka Inflexible Much?)
Push-up with Knee to Opposite Elbow

Push-up with Knee to Opposite Elbow

Working out in DC
My sister and her list of torture
(Don't let her cute smile fool you, she's intense!)

And because my sister is the nicest person in the world, she agreed to go on a run with me after our workout.  One of the great things about living in DC is being able to run on the National Mall and visit the monuments, so we stopped by a few sites that my sister had not seen.

Running to FDR Memorial
FDR Memorial

Running to Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial

Running to the National Sculpture Garden
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

I was wearing my Reebok Poly Play Dry Tank that I got at FitBloggin.  Can you believe this is the first Reebok item that I have ever owned?  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it.  So comfy and so incredibly light, it kept me feeling dry and fresh the whole afternoon.  Definitely will be getting more of these.

We ran about 3 miles before we realized that weʻd parked in 2 hour parking over 2 hours ago.  We were about 2 miles from our car, so we booked it back was still there, no ticket.  Whew!  We scarfed down a few bananas, and mixed up a Fit Frappe Protein Drink (yes, sample compliments of FitBloggin.  You need to sign up for 2013!)

Remembering to be a good blogger and
 take pictures of EVERYTHING.


The package said 20g of protein, less than 1g of sugar, and 130 calories.  I said, "Deeeeeelicious!" in my best British accent.  My sister agreed.  "Refreshing!  Hits the spot!" she said in her best British accent, which is far superior to mine.  We tried the Vanilla Latte flavor.  Highly recommend.

Then we got stuck in traffic for 2 hours because this is DC, one of the top 10 worst traffic cities in the country (Honolulu holds the honor of being the worst).  In our classic sisterly fashion, we turned our car into a karaoke lounge, minus the alcohol but complete with loud music and really horrendous singing (from yours truly, of course).  I got chills when itunes played Honolulu/Waikiki Medley by Makaha Sons and we both sang along like it was the most natural thing in the world to be singing about old Hawaiʻi while sitting in traffic on the congested DC beltway.  This was one of my grandmotherʻs favorite songs, and it made me miss her so much.

We picked up Nugget from daycare and arrived home to DJ Researchʻs spread of fried tofu and grilled vegetables.  Super yums. 

He also produced a bottle of Schramsberg that he had procured from the neighborhood wine store.  Good bubbly=happy ʻAma.

The next day we hit up the National Zoo for Nuggetʻs sake, but frankly, he didnʻt really seem interested.  He wasnʻt very impressed by the exotic tigers or the elephants, but he did enjoy petting the donkey.  Oh, and he was very impressed by the little girl who could scream as loud as he could.

I kept thanking this donkey for being
so patient with my son,
and for not biting our fingers off.

Little people make LOUD screamers

After such an exciting week, we spent the morning lounging around while my sister repacked all her stuff.  We left for the airport early, expecting a long line, but there was no line at all, and once my sister checked in we realized we had almost 2 hours to kill.  So we bonded like any 21-century family would.  Which is to say, we played on our iphones.

Nugget taking a picture of me while I take a picture of them.

Dad, look at this ridiculous picture I took of Mom!

OMG, I have to post this to Facebook.

It was an awesome week.  Not only was it great to have her around, but it meant a lot to be a part of each otherʻs active lifestyle.  I remember when she really committed herself to fitness and Iʻm so proud of how far she has come.  Iʻm so excited for my sister, and so happy that she was able to visit before heading to England.  Love you sis!!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fitness+Blogging = Fitbloggin' 2012!

This weekend I attended FitBloggin' 2012 in Baltimore, MD.  If you are a fitness or healthy living blogger, I HIGHLY recommend you attend this conference next year.

What is FitBloggin'?  

FitBloggin' is a conference that brings together fitness and healthy living bloggers to talk about passion for fitness, food, living a healthy lifestyle, and to learn more about building your blog, using social media to expand your reach, and optimizing your content.

Why did I go?

Friends tried to persuade me to go to BlogHer this year, but it seemed like a lot of money for my itty-bitty blog.  Plus, I wanted something more running fitness focused.  So I was THRILLED to discover FitBloggin' was in my neck of the woods this year.  I figured I would go, mingle just a bit, learn just a little bit, and get just a little bit of free stuff.  Wow, was I wrong.  I learned A TON, met LOTS of really great people, and... well, holy swagballs:

FitBloggin 2012 Swag
Just some of the awesome swag.

What did I learn? 

First of all, I NEED A CAMERA.  (Also, if anyone is keeping track, an iPad would be awesome.)  My silly iphone just isn't cutting it.  So, unfortunately, pictures on this post will be few.

More substantially:

I learned that video and vlogs are a powerful tool in reaching a broader audience.  Did you know that?  I had NO IDEA.  Sarah Dussault of talked about how to "Harness the Power of YouTube."  I'm not sure if I'm ready to step in front of the camera just yet, but the possibility has definitely piqued my interest.  If only my fashion consultant and make-up artist didn't live thousands of miles away.

I also learned that even though I'm on Twitter, I really have no idea what I'm doing there.  Emily Sanford, owner of Authentically Social, talked about Using Social Media to Drive Blog Traffic, which I found fascinating.  There are lots of sites out there that can help you determine how far your reach extends, and will even tell you whats the best time of day to tweet so you'll reach more of your followers!  Knowing your numbers is key, apparently.  And pretty darn interesting, if you ask me.

Emily Sanford FitBloggin 2012
(From FitBloggin Live Blog)

I also really enjoyed the panel on Building Your Brand with Amy Nowacoski of Fat Girls CAN Run.  Who is 'Ama?  Why should I follow 'Ama?  Where is 'Ama going? (not to bed like I should be, I can tell you that!)  I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and its been rather overwhelming.  This session really gave my thoughts some direction, and you'll be seeing some changes in the next few months!

I also learned about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which I had heard of, but never really knew what it was about, or what to do with it.  Brandi Koskie of spoke on Driving Traffic Through SEO, which I found to be so helpful: tag your pictures, title your blog pages (different from blog posts), use trending keywords when possible.  Apparently there is a certain way to talk to Google (and other web engines), and I am not yet fluent in that language.

Driving Traffic through SEO Fitbloggin 2012
Learning about SEO (from FitBloggin Live Blog)

Lastly, but definitely not least, I learned how to connect with brands and maybe make a little dough from my blog.  Kelly Olexa of FitFluential talked about Monetizing through the Pitch. I've never had dreams of making any significant money off my blog, but a few bucks here and there would be nice. Especially considering the time it takes to maintain this puppy.  So this was an insightful session for me.

And there were SO MANY other discussions and panels to attend.  I wasn't able to make all of them, but I still feel I got my money's worth and so much more.

PLUS...I met so many amazing bloggers:

Run, Write, Conquer who is now less of a runner and more of a cross-fitter AND she is transitioning into competing!  We had a great conversation about Cross-Fit and she's moved me just a little bit closer to checking it out.

Ericka of The Sweet Life is training for her 7th marathon (I'll wait while you process that.  Yes, 7!!).  She'll be running the Marine Corps again this year.  DJ Research is also running MCM, so I'll be there to cheer her on!

Meg of RunFitKin is training for her 2nd marathon (CIM).  She also recently ran Hood-to-Coast, which I'd love to do some day.

Laura of Mommy Run Fast completed her first marathon last year AND her first triathalon this past year.  She is also mom to a beautiful daughter.

Tim of Midpack Runner will be running the Amica Marathon in Newport, Rhode Island and has a super informative blog on all things running.  Check it out!

Hit the Road Jane will be running 3 more half marathons this year--that's one per month--and she'll finish 2012 with 10 half-marathons under her belt!  She'll be tackling her first full marathon in February 2013.

Jaime, founder of Fit Approach, is an ultrarunner and recently ran Pine to Palm.  I. am. so. jealous.

And  my blogger-celebrity sighting of the conference: Miss Zippy.  I've been following her blog for a while, and learn so much from her.  I actually mustered up the nerve to ask for her autograph introduce myself, and it was super cool to meet her in person.

FitBloggin 2013 will be in Portland, Oregon next year.  I REALLY want to go (family vacation, maybe?), but its too soon to make a final decision.  If you're on the fence about attending, I HIGHLY recommend you do, especially if you live on the west coast.  Its truly a great experience!

Back on the Home Front

DJ Research and Nugget had a blast themselves while I was partying it up in Baltimore.  The DJ kept sending me pictures of their adventures.  Nugget apparently  took care of the grocery shopping and paid some bills over the phone:

He also indulged in his obsession for water fountains:

I was so thankful for these pictures.  As much as I enjoyed FitBloggin, I sure did miss my boys.

What is the most helpful blogging tip anyone has given you?  Have you ever attended a blogging conference?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When a Run Rewards You

Today was just one of those days.  I DID NOT feel like running.  For one, I haven't been sleeping well the past few nights, so when my alarm went off at 4:45 this morning, jolting me out of dreamland for an early run, I instead bludgeoned the alarm clock to smithereens, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Basically. (src)

Then there was the weather.  Thunderstorms, flash floods and even a tornado warning!?!  Gee whiz, DC.  Everything had calmed by the time we got home from work, but I was still not feeling up for a run.  Instead I wanted to snuggle with my little Nugget and eat a tub of ice cream.

I can't believe he's 2!!

I mentioned my lack of motivation to DJ Research, saying I probably wasn't going to go for a run, to which  he responded with the most inspirational pep-talk I have ever heard: "Ok."  But he said it in such a disappointed voice that I knew I needed to get my butt out there.  I can always count on DJ Research to make me feel bad for skipping a run.

So I got dressed and headed out for a 3 mile run, half of what I was "scheduled" to do on my training plan.  About 2.5 miles in, I realized that I felt good.  No, I felt great.  Really great.  I should just keep going.

And keep going I did.  I ran the scheduled 6 miles I was supposed to at a 8:41 m/m, which I will take considering it was dark out and I was running with a head lamp (and thus had to slow down a little so Miss Graceful wouldn't trip).  Its the second fastest 6 miles I've run this year.  

I love when a run rewards you.  If you give just a little when you feel like you don't have much, sometimes you get so much more in return.  In running and in life.

What's been your most rewarding run recently?  What's been most rewarding in your life lately?


Monday, September 17, 2012

Gangnam Style!

Have you guys seen this?

I'll admit I am mildly obsessed with this song and video.  Its just so darn addicting.  DJ Research and I were attempting the dance the other day, and Nugget suddenly burst into tears and started screaming, "No! No! No!"  I think the night of his first junior high dance flashed before his eyes, and he had visions of us busting moves GANGNAM STYLE!! on the dance floor.  Because you know its going to happen.  As one of our friends said, "I can't wait till my kid is old enough for me to embarrass him."

But thats not all!  Theres also this SNL parody.  "Did he just scream at her butt?!  Yeah, man!  We're going to live FOREVER!!"  So funny.

Nugget will not be outdone, however.  His current favorite video is this little gem, but only the first 1:13.  He goes nuts over the intro, and wants to watch it over and over and over and over.

Bi bim bap anyone?


Sunday, September 16, 2012


Today is Nugget's birthday.  Today he turns 2.  Today I went for my 20-mile run because yesterday (Saturday, the day I usually do my long runs) DJ Research ran his first ultramarathon (more on that later, perhaps?  Still trying to convince him to do a guest post).

Because it was Nugget's birthday, I wanted to be back to my birthday boy as soon as possible, meaning I wanted this 20-miler to happen fast.  Or as fast as my aging body could manage.  I was out of the house before 6:00am, running with a headlamp because it was still dark out (turns out I didn't really need it, but this paranoid runner likes to be overprepared).  I did about 6 miles before swinging by my house again and ditching the headlamp and reflective vest since the sun was now up.  I ran another 6 miles before stopping in Starbucks to use their restroom (yay! no port-a-potty stops on this run!).  I then headed out for my last 8 miles.

It was at this point that my legs and feet were really starting to hurt.  My left calf felt like it was on the verge of a nasty cramp, my right hip was starting to protest this run, and my feet felt like I was running on hot coals.  I can't tell you how many times I told myself, Slow down.  Turn around.  Go home and be with your son.

But I kept going.  I kept going because I've come this far, and I've trained so hard, and I'm almost there (race is less than 2 months!), and I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other just a little bit longer.

That was where my head was at as I ran 13 miles, 14 miles, 15 miles, 16 miles...but then I needed something more.  The pain wasn't getting worse, but it was persisting, and it wasn't letting me find my zone.  I needed to find a different headspace.  So I told myself, "Run in your mind.  There is no pain in your mind.  Run in your mind."  I tried to mentally separate my body from the pain, and just thought of myself as a machine.  It was tough and a very challenging mental exercise that kept my mind busy.  Sometimes I was focused enough that it worked, but other times I lost focus and felt my pace and form slipping.

In the end, though, I did manage to run 20 miles at a 9:10m/m pace, which is one second-per-mile off my target race pace (I'm aiming for a 4-hour marathon).  Hopefully I can make it count on race day.

I do want to clarify that at no point during this run did I feel like I was injured or welcoming an injury.  The pain I felt was more the standard aches and pains of running a long distance.  I knew it was a pain I could push through.  Had I felt I was flirting with injury, I would have stopped and just walked home.  Been there before and don't really want to go there again.

Whats your headspace on your long runs?  What keeps you motivated to keep going?


Saturday, September 15, 2012

10 questions

The ladies over at Another Mother Runner recently posted 10 questions about running, and they asked all their blogging-BAMR friends to do the same.  I consider myself a BAMR (Bad Ass Mother Runner - I need to get a shirt!!) here goes...

1.  Best run ever:  My 4th of July run this year.  We were vacationing on Cape Cod (the first time I'd ever been there), Nugget and the DJ were both down for a nap, and I had license to run free.  I ran 10 miles on a local bike trail and felt like I was flying the whole way.  I'm pretty sure I had a silly grin on my face the whole time.  It was awesome.

2. Three words that describe my running:  Has. To. Happen.

3. My go-to running outfit:  My Nike Dry Max Shirt.  Black Target running skirt.  Light blue Pro Compression socks.  Waistpack (its still 1980, right?)  And Garmin watch (of course).

I didn't say my outfit would match.

4. Quirky habit while running: Inserting myself into the conversations of random runners I happen upon during my runs.  This is not a habit I am proud of.  But I get lonely out there, and well, since the endorphins are pumping, I just want to talk.  If you happen to be one of the random runners I start chatting to, I apologize in advance.  I'm just trying to be friendly (in my awkward sort of way).

5. Morning, midday, evening:  During the week, midday.  On weekends, in the morning.  I'd love to run in the mornings on weekdays too, but that requires starting out when its still dark, and I HATE running alone in the dark.  On the weekends, I wait until the sun is starting to peek its light above the horizon before heading out, but that start time is too late for me on the weekdays.

6. I won't run outside when: Its really icy or theres a thunderstorm/snowstorm.

7. Worst injury-and how I got over it:  Peroneal tendonitis.  Lots of foam rolling on my calf, ice on my foot, and elevating my leg.  I also wore compression socks all. the. time.  I did a lot of cross-training while injured (mostly on the bike).

8. I felt most like a BAMR when: I ran 20 miles in just under a 10:00 m/m pace (9:56 to be exact).  This was the first time I had run 20 miles, and since I tend to hover in the low 10-minute pace on my long runs, I was surprised that I had run my longest distance to date at a faster pace than usual.

9. Next race is: Richmond Marathon!

10. Potential running goal for 2013:  Run a 50K.  And depending on how well my marathon goes, try to qualify for Boston.

Whether you are a BAMR or not, I'd love to hear your answers to the above questions!!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

VHTRC Women's Half-Marathon Race Review

Yee-haw!  This weekend I ran my first trail race, the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club Women's Half-Marathon.  It was a very hilly course, the hilliest course I have run, in either racing and training.  It was difficult.  It was challenging.  It was the best race I have run to date.  Highlights:

Total time - 2:21:55
Placed 47th out of 205 finishers
Placed 5th out of 22 in my age group

Number of times I fell: 1
Number of times I almost fell: 1 (huge improvement from my last trail run)
Number of cheeseburger hats worn: 1
Number of hills I walked:  Don't remember; Too many to count

The course:  Mostly single-track trails, and quite hilly with a number of steep hills that required walking/hiking.

The race:  Fantastic.  The course was well marked, and the volunteers were so enthusiastic, they really kept you motivated (and none of them said, "You're almost there!"  Hate that).   Plus, though this was a low-key race, they had smoothies on hand at the finish!  That was a perfect way to cool down.

Also, this race has a couple of traditions, one being that the male volunteers "serenade" the female runners right before the race starts.  We were told that they would sound really bad, and they didn't disappoint: they were horribly off-key (but sounded much better than I ever would).  Another tradition is to hand out random objects to runners during the race, and if the runner carries it to the finish line, they get a prize. Lucky me, I got the cheeseburger hat!

Trail serenade before the race (photo by Bob Fabia)

Cheeseburger Head! (photo by Bob Fabia)

What I learned:  Running trails is very different from running on the road, for obvious reasons: you have to always watch your footing, you have to run slower, its easier to get lost, etc.  This I knew before starting the race.  What didn't occur to me is that racing on trails is also very different from racing on the road, meaning you have to think about your race differently.  For one, trail races usually do not have mile markers, so you can't really get into a zone and slowly tick the miles off one by one.  Instead, during trail races you run from aid station to aid station, so your race goes by in chunks of miles rather than mile-by-mile.  Also, its common courtesy to give the runner in front of you a decent amount of room; in other words, don't go breathing down their backs.  I was definitely guilty of this, and will be conscious of it on my next trail race.  Which leads to another difference between road and trail racing: it can be difficult to pass people during a trail race, particularly if you are running on single-track trails.  There were definitely situations in which I wanted to pass the runner in front of me, but wasn't entirely sure how to get by them without exerting so much energy I'd have to drop my pace to recover from passing them (which seems to defeat the point of passing in the first place).

Hmmmm...seems I still have much to learn about this trail running thing.  Though I do have to credit PEK, my Peformance Enhancing Kokopelli (courtesy of Trail Runner Nation) for helping me run this race strong.

Thanks PEK!

All in all, I loved this race.  Even when I was walking, even when I was climbing hills, even when my face was in the dirt, I loved every minute of it.  Everyone there--from spectators to volunteers to runners--seemed so happy to be out there.  This is a race I definitely want to do again.

Have you run a trail race? Did you enjoy it? What lessons did you learn?


Friday, September 7, 2012

Tomorrow's Trails

Tomorrow I run my first trail race.  I am beyond excited, but also beyond nervous.  Its a half-marathon, and apparently a hilly one at that.  When I asked a seasoned trail runner who has run this race before, "Is this race difficult?"  Her answer, "Yes."  And that was that.


Here's the elevation chart (which I totally forgot to look at until now):

This will be my hilliest race to date.  And considering I fall every. single. time. I run on trails, I'm expecting to spend a good amount of time with my face in the dirt.  My goal is to just finish this race in one piece.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


Every time I read the word Spiralina, I can't help but think of the cheer, "We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit, how bout you?"  Talk about random.

"Spira...what?" you may ask, as well you may.

I learned about Spiralina as a fuel source for endurance runners during one of the awesome #runchat sessions on Twitter.  Spiralina algae is touted as superfood that can increase your performance due to the fact that its packed with protein, B-12, beta-carotine, iron, and a bunch of other essential nutrients.  Samples of Energybits, which is made of 100% Spiralina algae, were being offered to bloggers interested in trying Spiralina, so I volunteered to give it a go.

The day I received my Energybits package was the day I read this little nugget in Scott Jurek's Eat & Run:

Spiralina is a green algae said to have been carried into battle by Aztec warriors.  Used for centuries as a weight-loss aid and immune-booster, it has lately been studied and shown promising results as a performance enhancer for long-distance runners.

Sah-weet!  Whats good enough for Scott Jurek is good enough for me! (yeah, 'cause Scott Jurek--Mr. Vegan Ultramarathon god--and I have so much in common).

I decided to try Energybits before my 18-mile run a few weeks ago.  I was running on tired legs, having already run 24 miles that week, so I figured this would be a good week to try some spiralina.  The instructions say to take 30 Energybits before exercise, and I decided to swallow the little pills whole after making the mistake of actually chewing one.  It was disgusting.  That said, Energybits are 100% algae so I would have been more alarmed if it tasted like, say, a creamsicle.  The bits are super tiny so downing them like I was a pill-popping celebrity was no problem.

I have to say, I felt great the whole run.  Like, surprisingly good.  I've blogged that any run longer than 13.1 miles intimidates me, so I've been struggling with the longer distances.  These 18 miles, though, felt like a piece of cake.

That said, I'm not so naive as to attribute this great run to 30 little algae tablets I took before I even left my house.  There were a number of factors that contributed to my having had such a great run, the most likely being psychological.  I was really pumped after our 12-mile anniversary run, and was really looking forward to another long run.  I was also PB'ing in the "highest weekly mileage" category, and PBs are always exciting.  I was feeling good from the start, and was lucky to sustain that runner's high throughout my run.

Wanting to try a spiralina boost again, I opted to take more Energybits before another run the next week.  This was an 8-mile run in the middle of the day in the hot sun and muggy humidity.  Again, I felt strong the whole run.  Again, I think Engerybits helped, but I hesitate to attribute this good run to Energybits alone.  I was also super pumped for this run, mostly because I was upset at myself for missing a run the night before.  I wanted a good run because I felt I had something to prove to myself (or to punish myself, whatever).

I realize this isn't much of a review.  If you are asking your computer screen, "C'mon, 'Ama.  Have an opinion about Energybits.  Did they help you on your run or not?" I don't blame you.  To be honest, the answer is, I don't know.  As with so many fueling options, you have to try them in training for a sustained period of time, and the sample size I received, as generous as it was, was not enough to make a concrete determination on the effects of spiralina as a fuel source for me.

I will say this though, I am interested in experimenting more with spiralina.  And if you are too, I recommend checking out Energybits.  Because the quality of spiralina is not currently monitored by the FDA, it is  important to get it from reputable companies, otherwsie you run the risk of purchasing algae high in mercury.  Energybits is a quality product and 100% organic!

Have you tried fueling with Spiralina algae?