Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fits Do Race Reviews: Guest Post- The London Marathon

Last September, Dustin and I ran the Berlin Marathon (if you missed it, you can read all about it HERE!) It was our first international marathon. As fun as it was, we definitely can't plan every marathon around such a big trip. In other words, we won't be running international marathons every time. (What? You're saying Cincinnati won't be as interesting as Berlin? Ha!)

Fortunately for you guys, I have a friend who ran the London Marathon this year, and she offered to share her recap with us, so we can live vicariously through her! 

Amber actually shared a guest post recap of the Sioux Falls marathon in fall 2012. You can read that recap HERE. Read both recaps for two very different types of marathons!

So, here you go readers- all you ever wanted to know about the London Marathon, courtesy of my friend Amber! 

"London Calling"

Sometimes you have to go big or go home.  Or in my case, you have to go big or you won’t leave home!  After having twin girls last June and knowing the "joys" of training through a Minnesota winter, I wanted my first post-babies marathon to be a BIG one that I would be motivated to train for no matter what the weather had in store.  Given the winter we had this year, I picked the right race – the London Marathon.  Or, as it is more accurately referred to for sponsorship purposes, the Virgin Money London Marathon.  It is part of the World Marathon Majors.  In addition, it holds the Guinness world record as the largest annual fund raising event in the world with many runners running for charities. As one of the pre-race commentators accurately stated . . . “Get ready, this is going to be one of your life’s grand adventures.”  It truly was.

This year was the 34th annual running of the marathon.  The course itself is a flat course set around the River Thames.  Because of the massive number of participants (there were close to 36,000 finishers), the race begins at three separate points: the Red Start at Greenwich Park; the Green Start in St. John’s Park; and the Blue Start on Shooter’s Hill Road.  The three courses then converge at the 3-mile point. 

How do you get into the London Marathon?
As a non-UK resident, you cannot enter the ballot (lottery) and you cannot qualify with a “good for age entry” (qualifying time).  Instead you must go through a tour company.  I went through Marathon Tours and was not disappointed.  Be prepared to register and commit early though – London is touted as the “world’s most popular marathon” and this is probably the case.  The ballot already filled up in a record 9 hours and 50 minutes for next year’s race.  Going through Marathon Tours, I had to sign up in June 2013 for an April 2014 race.  As a long-time runner and first-time mom, it was both daunting and inspiring to have had the race on the calendar for so long.

The Expo:
The expo was great.  It is a bit out of town at the Custom House (a large convention center), but very easy to get to via the tube and train.  Adidas had a heavy presence.  There were loads and loads of vendors.  One nice offering was that you could pay a nominal amount to have your name printed on your racing shirt.  With the thousands of spectators, I was really glad I did this.  The volunteers at the expo were very helpful, welcoming, and enthusiastic.  They were genuinely interested in chatting with runners about where they came from, what other marathons they had run, and they were very happy you were there to run London.  

Finish Line:
We received an excellent tip from the volunteer who handed me my race bag – meet at the Admiralty Arch.  St. James Park (where the finish is) gets absolutely packed with people trying to meet up after the race, and the Admiralty Arch, at the end of The Mall where the marathon ends, offers a key feature to a tired runner – a patch of lovely green grass to lie down on.  This is where my husband and I agreed to meet and it worked out very well.

How did you deal with jet lag?
London is obviously across the pond so jet lag was a worry that I had.  We arrived on Friday at noon and the race is on Sunday, so I really had two nights to “catch up” on sleep.  Honestly, I’m not sure what impact this had on my race, perhaps fatigue did set in early.  I was able to get some sleep on the flight over.  On the two nights in London before the race (Friday and Saturday), I woke up at 2 a.m. and had difficulty going back to sleep.  I think this was partially due to jet lag and partially due to normal pre-race anxiety and excitement.  I’d recommend getting plenty of sleep in the days and weeks preceding your trip so that the final few nights are not crucial.  I can say that I was so excited on race morning that I did not feel tired.

The Night Before...
Many hotels had “Marathon Menus” on Saturday for the evening before the race.  Hotel offerings through Marathon Tours did, and I considered it a fabulous feature – not to have to worry about a benign pre-race meal. 

Race Day!
The race starts at 10 a.m. which allows sufficient time to get up, have a bite to eat, and prepare for the day.  All of the hotels with Marathon Tours had breakfast available beginning at 5:30 a.m.  The offerings included plenty of “runner friendly” foods.  Marathon Tours also organized coaches to take runners to the start beginning at 8 a.m.  Again, very nice not to have to worry about getting to the start.  I was part of the Blue Start and the area surrounding this start was extremely well organized and there were plenty of port-a-loos.  An absolute bonus to UK port-a-loos – they flush! Much more sanitary and less smelly than the ones around the Minneapolis lakes.  There was a massive television screen so that you could watch the elite and wheelchair starts.  A jovial and comedic commentator kept runners informed of the time, what you should be doing, and when to head to the corrals.  Each start is also organized into corrals based on your predicted finish time with this information marked on your bib.  Volunteers politely checked to make sure you went into the correct corral and the start did not feel overly crowded. 

The Course
The course is nothing short of spectacular.  At around the 10K point, runners pass the Cutty Sark and the crowds are absolutely deafening.  The half-way point is crossing the Tower Bridge.  Again, with deafening crowd support and crossing such an iconic landmark, this part of the race is is nothing short of amazing and truly memorable.  The course then heads east along The Highway through Wapping, towards Limehouse, and into Mudchute in the Isle of Dogs, and then into Canary Wharf.  The final leg of the race passes by The Tower of London, along the Embankment (with views of the London Eye), passing Big Ben, Parliament, and finally Buckingham Palace and finishing on The Mall.  The final section of the route formed part of the 2012 Olympic Marathon Course.  It is definitely one for the record books and one of life’s grand adventures.

It is a fairly flat course and even with the crowds it’s possible to run for time.  You start with runners predicted to finish around the same time and the course is never so crowded that you can’t move up if you’d like.  It is most crowded right around mile 3 when the three starts converge.  I got great advice from a Scotsman at the start who advised that I stay to far right in order to avoid being jostled around when the various starts came together.  I was glad I followed this advice.

The crowd support in London could not be better.  Most of the course is lined 8-10 people deep with spectators on either side.  The crowd was made up of people of all ages and walks of life.  They happily shouted support for runners, offered up high fives, and a hearty amount of enthusiasm.  For spectators traveling with a runner, this is a difficult race.  Because of the volume of runners, it is difficult if not impossible to “cross the course” and get around London to see your runner if you want to meet up at race end.  Likewise, spectators are often standing several people deep on either side of the course, so even with a well-formed plan spectator and runner might not connect.  Knowing this, my husband planned that he would catch some of the race in a pub (lots of festive pub spectating is to be had in London) and then meet me at our preordained spot at the end.  This worked out really well.

At the Admiralty Arch Post Race

I highly recommend this as a destination race.  For anyone who has been to London, running through it and seeing it again is a wonderful and truly exciting experience.  If you haven’t been to London, what better reason to go?  This race and the city itself are festive, energetic, and inspiring.

 Congrats to Amber, who ran an AMAZING time, after having twin baby girls less than a year ago! So impressive. 

And thanks for sharing your recap with us!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fitting Remarks: #BostonStrong

I don't know about you, but I wasn't really that productive at work yesterday. I was pretty distracted tracking all my friends at the Boston Marathon, and staying on top of all the results!

All of the Calhoun Beach Running Club runners who were there did so well! I'm so inspired and impressed. And it was so cool that Meb won, especially since there hasn't been an American winner since 1983!
I was feeling pretty pumped about all things "run" yesterday, so it was perfect that my friend Jen had organized a casual group run for our running friends. Most of the girls wore their Boston attire, but since I haven't yet qualified, I just went with my Calhoun Beach Running Club singlet instead. 
 We met around 6 pm for an easy run around two lakes. One of the girls brought her two adorable twins in the B.O.B. for their first run with the girls! So cute.

It was really nice to spend Marathon Monday with some of my favorite members of the running community. I am so thankful that I joined the Calhoun Beach Running Club over three years ago. The friends I have met there are some of the best I could ask for.  But I'm also thankful to be part of the larger running Minneapolis and beyond. Its such a supportive, strong, courageous, resilient group, and I'm honored to be called a runner and a member of the "team".

Love to all my fellow runners today!

#runlove for sure!

Did you do anything special to celebrate Marathon Monday?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekly Recap: Easter and More...

Happy Easter! Did you do anything fun to celebrate? Search for eggs, or give/receive a basket?

Neither Dustin's nor my family is nearby, so we were on our own for the holiday. I did make Smitten Kitchen’s Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms…yum! We paired it with a big fruit salad mixed with peach pie filling…so good!

In fitness this past week, my mileage decreased by about 25% from last week, which is standard for the first week of the taper. I did squeeze in a few Pilates classes, but I focused on rest and running.

During the taper, the mileage will decrease dramatically, but the intensity should not. We still did some speed work during the taper, but just not for as long.

Monday: 8 miles with 3 miles at tempo pace. I mentioned this run in Monday’s post. It was a really good tempo workout for me- a bit of a confidence booster. It was tough, but I kept a challenging (for me) pace in the middle of the 8 miler.

Tuesday: Easy 7 mile run – my legs were sore from the previous day’s workout, so I took it nice and easy.

Wednesday: Pilates Pro class at Pilates Pro Works. I mentioned in this post that my 8 pack of classes at PPW was about to expire, so I have been going here quite a bit more than I normally would to use them up. Its a good class though, as my core was pretty sore afterwards (which is a great feeling) as well as my glutes and upper body. I am not sure if I will buy more classes at this studio or not- they are pricey, but I do really enjoy the Pilates classes and the location is super convenient to my office…However, I really want to consolidate my fitness classes, as clearly, I can’t keep track of the classes I have all over the city. I hate to see any of them go to waste! I love having a wide variety of options, but sometimes it gets to be too much to stay on top off. I think I will focus on The Barre studio this summer, with kettlebells and yoga as well, but not so many barre and Pilates studios at the same time.

*My friend Kelly told me that legally, studios can’t let your classes expire…if that’s true, then why do so many studios still have expiration dates on class packages? Any legal experts out there know the answer?

Thursday: 8 miles with 2 sets of 1600-800-800, with about 2 minutes easy jog in between. This workout felt harder, even though my paces weren’t any faster than the tempo pace on Monday! My legs probably were just tired. 

It seems like I have one really good workout in the beginning of the week, and then the second workout isn’t as strong….but maybe that's normal?

FridayPilates Pro class at Pilates Pro Works  I have usually been using Friday as a complete rest but I needed to squeeze in another class here, before its too close to the marathon.

Saturday: 15 mile long run. We’re tapering now.  This long run in the taper always gets me because it seems like it should feel really short since we did 22 last week! But 15 is still a long run. Next week will feel a lot shorter with only 10 miles on the schedule.

Sunday: easy 4 mile run with Matilda early in the morning, and a lovely hour long walk with Dustin and Matilda in the afternoon. We had such awesome Easter weather today in Minneapolis, so we really wanted to take advantage, so Matilda also benefits, with lots of exercise for her today!

What’s happening in Fitness Fashion?
Not exactly Fitness Fashion, but I purchased another pair of Brooks Ravennas, and I was happy to see that my favorite color scheme is still available! I feel like I might need to stock up on these, just in case they discontinue this color- it’s definitely my favorite so far. 

My previous pair had over 400 miles on them (I track this information closely!). They probably would still be okay for a few more weeks of running, but I didn't want to run Flying Pig on worn down shoes. So, I plan to wear the new pair for the Flying Pig Marathon in 14 days. Of course, I will run in them many times before the race…Even though I’ve been running in Brooks Ravennas for awhile now, I don’t want to make that rookie mistake of wearing new shoes on marathon day!

What’s happening in Fashion?
Remember that awesome necklace I purchased from Oia Jules on Etsy

It is definitely one of my favorites, but unfortunately, it broke on me! I was so sad.  So, I sent Oia Jules a message, and they offered to fix it for me, and pay for shipping! It only took about a week for me to get it back in tip-top shape. Yay!

What happened for YOU last week in Fitness, Fashion, and Fitness Fashion?? Try any new classes? Find any cute new fashion?

Please share!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fitting Remarks: How To Get Ready Quickly After a Morning Workout!

Sorry to any male readers out there- this post is written primarily for the ladies!

A reader asked me for tips for getting ready before work as quickly as possible after you work out. 

I feel like I am always crunched for time in the AM, so I have tried to decrease my “primping” time for the morning. It seems as though the less time I have, the quicker I can manage to get ready!
These tips can also work if you’re meeting up with friends after a workout, and you don’t have a lot of time to transition.

Can you go without a shower?
I personally am a sweaty runner, so for me, a shower is a must. But you can take a super fast shower like in 2-3 minutes (a “military shower”, as my friend Monica calls it!)   

"No-Shower Wipes:" I know plenty of AM fitness fanatics skip a shower completely, and opt for shower wipes like these…Honestly, I just can’t pull that off...but if you’re not a heavy sweater like me, you might be able to use them in lieu of a shower.
Is that sweat, or did I wet my pants?
No time for shaving your legs in the AM- save that for another time!

Prep The Night Before:

-Prep your gym bag the night before, and be sure to double-check that you didn't forget anything!

-If you're going for a morning run, lay out your running clothes the night before. 

-Pick out your work outfit as well- no need to waste time picking out something to wear with such limited time in the morning! 

-Be conscious about what you choose to wear- pick clothes that allow for a quick change. Forget about tights or leggings, as they take too much time to get on.

-And now that summer is almost here, DRESSES all the way. Fast and simple.

-Skip washing your hair-- wash it the night before. Dry shampoo to the rescue!

-Most of the time, I say forget the blow-dryer.  My biggest time saver is a ponytail/headband. I know this isn’t the most glamorous look, but BIC bands and Sweaty Bands have saved me in many time crunches. 
My signature "get ready quick" look- BIC band and side braid.
When I don’t have time, I usually go with a side braid/BIC band or a sock bun. For information on the sock bun, check out this post! This obviously only works if you have longer hair. Although a huge benefit of short hairstyle is that it is quicker to style and dry!
-Purchase duplicates of all your makeup. 

This is a good tip if you travel a lot too. If you have duplicates of everything you don’t have to pack and unpack your gym bag every day. You’ll always have those goods in your bag, ready to go. This includes all your hair accoutrement as well- flat iron, blow-dryer, etc.

-Liquid! Forget all the brushes and applicators. Try to simplify by using a BB cream, a no-fuss foundation, and liquid blush.

-Save the fancy for later. Every lady wants to look her best at the office, but there’s no need for the smoky eye or extended lashes during a regular work day. Less is more and looks more professional.

The Two-Part Process: 
Sometimes, I do the bare minimum (mascara, some powder) and then zip to work. Then, once I’ve made my appearance, said hello to everyone,  and logged into my computer, I take 15 minutes to go to the bathroom (on a different floor than my office) and fix myself up a bit more….my coworkers are none the wiser! (unless they read the blog...I think two of them might read occasionally, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't care). Seriously,  doing the two-part process saves me a lot of time, without letting me be "late" for work.

Eyelash Tint
This is more of an investment, but if you have blond hair like me, an eyelash tint can go a long way to make it look like you’re wearing mascara and save you time. A tint is also a great idea when you’re heading to a beach vacation. I have had one done at Extrados Salon in Linden Hills. The procedure costs about $35, and it lasts up to six weeks. Check out some before/after pictures HERE. This saves a lot of time, and I think it’s worth the relatively low cost.

Those are the tips that I have, but please share if you have any others! 

What are your secrets for getting ready in a jiffy?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fit Fanatic: #TBT- Fitness From a Young Age!

It is time for a little #TBT, i.e. Throwback Thursday!

Let me tell you, I have been a fitness fanatic for a very long time....

Did anyone else work out to the "Get in Shape Girl" cassette tape?

Well, I did!

 I would fill the hand weights with water, and do my bicep curls in my little leotard. I think there was lots of stretching, legs lifts, and jumping rope.

Teach 'em at a young age, right?

Anyone else remember the Get in Shape girl cassette tapes? Or any other favorite fitness fads from the 80s?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fitness Fashion: Sweaty Bands!

I have posted on the blog multiple times about my love of BIC bands which are fitness headbands with velvet on the underside which keeps them in place. They are really awesome headbands, and I had a really great experience working with the owner on our custom Calhoun Beach Running Club bands a few years ago. Aren't they lovely? There's still 2 left if you want one!

In addition to BIC bands though, I also recommend Sweaty Bands, which is a company that makes a very similar product.  I have ordered several bands from this company for myself and for friends over the past few years online, and I also often pick one or two up at race expos.  
One thing I really like about Sweaty Bands is that they really offer quite a fun variety of styles for all different types of occasions. Recently, I ordered a few for a bachelorette gift for a fellow runner. I selected a few different patterns- peacock, polka dot, and the reflective neon striped one.
But I also added a "bridal" one to this order for the bachelorette! Its pretty subtle, but it has a few "bridal" type quotes on it, and is a pretty "bridal" blue color.

 I also picked up a few Sweaty Bands for my fellow Flying Pig runner (Kelly, not Dustin, ha!) They actually had customized bands for a few different marathons. They had Chicago, Boston, and other "big" marathons, but I was surprised to see Flying Pig bands, so I snatched them up!

And, I may have stocked up on a few "Baby on Board" Sweaty Bands, just in case one of my friends has a bun in the oven in the never know!

Go check out all the different Sweaty Bands  online, and I bet you'll find one you like - for a friend or for you!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fitting Remarks: Marathon Training Workouts

I have my fair share of experience with marathon training, but I am by no means an expert. I don’t have any certifications or qualifications, other than my own experience to pull from. Despite my lack of real credentials, I figured it was okay for me to share what I know about marathon workouts based on experience. Maybe some of it will be new to you, and hopefully helpful in some way!

Common Marathon Training Workouts

Tempo Workouts: A tempo pace is one that is comfortably hard. You can still talk to your running partner in short sentences, but you won’t be carrying on an in-depth long run conversation. Your tempo pace should be somewhere near your 10k race pace, a pace you could maintain for an hour before being completely spent. We usually start out the training season with tempo intervals of 6 min to 8 minutes. Eventually, we'll do longer tempo runs of 15, 20, and 25 minutes. The tempo interval pace is perhaps 10 seconds faster than the true tempo pace.

Kelly and I did a tempo workout today: 2 mile warmup, then 3 miles at tempo pace, and about 3 miles of cool down for 8 miles total. Great workout! (Yes, I wore my lucky LolĂ« hat again)

Long Run Pace: You should be running your long runs EASY. In fact, you should be running about 1 minute to a 1 minute 30 seconds slower than your goal marathon pace, even if it feels slow.

Goal Marathon Pace: This is pretty straight-forward. If I want to run a 3:45 marathon, my marathon goal pace is 8:35. We often incorporate marathon goal pace into longer weekday runs to get a feel for the pace.

5-4-3-2-1 Workout:  This is a common workout that we do with my running club that I also often do on the treadmill.  After a short warmup, do 5 minutes at your 5 mile race pace, then half that time to recover (2:30). Then do 4 minutes at your 4 mile race pace, with 2 minutes recovery; 3 minutes at 3 mile race pace, 1:30 recovery, 2 minutes at 2 mile race pace, 1 minute recovery, and then 1 minute at your 1 mile race pace, which should be pretty darn fast! Then cooldown.

Broken Miles: We did this workout as one of our “track” workouts the other day. After a few miles to warmup, you do two sets of 800’s (1/2 mile) with just a short 30 second break between each, and then a longer 2 minute break between each set. Do 4-5 of these. And don't forget a few miles to cool down!

Track Intervals:  Easiest when you have a track but we do them on the trails on occasion, we'll do something like: 800m-1200m-1600m-1600m-1200m-800m.  On the track jog a 400m between the intervals or the usual 2min if on the trails.  Ideally on something like this the goal is do the second set faster than the first so no starting out too fast.

Hill Workouts: Any repeats that you do on a hill will work for this….Try to kill the hill on the up, and then recover on the down. Or, maybe change it up by trying to keep a consistent tempo pace on the "up" as you have on the "down." My run club usually runs a 1/2 mile hill on Kenwood Parkway. I bet no matter where you live, you can find some sort of, just run it and repeat!

These are just a few of the different workouts that we do at my running club. I’m sure there are all kinds of variations on these out there, as well as many others. 

You should also make sure you’re never doing two workouts in a row- always run easy or not at all after a workout day. At the peak of our training, we never do more than 2 speed workouts a week, with all the othe miles at an easy pace. 

Cross Training Another reader asked me what I do for cross training. I always share my fitness in my weekly recaps, so you can read all about it there. But generally, my goal is to have at least one complete rest day, a barre class or Pilates class, yoga, and ideally, one more strength day (either a second barre class or kettlebells or something like that). There's just not enough time in the day for me to always fit it all in, but that's my weekly goal

I hope this helps you out if you're looking for some new workouts!

What are your go-to running workouts? How often do you cross train?