Face of the Race

Last year our Face of the Race represented a growing trend of people joining the “Couch to 5K” running program. This is where newbie runners decide to transition from chilling idly on the couch to racing toward the finish line. There are a variety of motivations behind this type of transition including health, happiness, hobbies, friends, or to satiate a competitive drive.

This year we have selected Brian, who has competed at Race on the Base for three years, placing 2nd in the 5k and winning our Reverse Triathlon the past two years. Brian’s running experience includes everything from 5Ks to ultramarathons. We are excited for the diversity of perspective his experience will bring to our blog this year. Be on the look-out for regular updates from him that dive into his experiences more, provide tips from the experience of an exercise physiologist (which, of course, he is too!), and the scoop on his journey to ROTB 2014.

The passion that Brian has for running and challenging his body is very evident in the entry notes he sent to us. Read below to find out more about him and be sure to check back regularly for more!

“Thank you so much for considering me to be a part of ROTB’s Face of the Race. I am honored and at the same time hoping that I am able to encourage, motivate, or inspire someone in their journey. And it’s interesting to me that you said journey within your email (referring to our email exchange regarding why he wants to be the Face of the Race and asking for details on his journey leading up to Race Day) because I have always expressed my excitement to training as a journey. I talk about the journey because that’s what it’s all about, and the race is the celebration to the journeys end.

So a little background about me… I am a passionate endurance athlete and I come from a running background. I have been racing since the little Olympics in elementary school. Ever since then I have trained myself to compete and although I love the competition I realize that it is not all about competing to win and beat others, but its more about taking in all those emotions experienced throughout, and the rollercoaster days of either suffering during a workout or being blown away by the beautiful environment of a long run.  The competition is just the end result of an amazing journey and everyone has a different story to tell. I have found that out myself through training for many different events.

I am blessed to have had a journey that has led me through short, fast races and also into extreme distances of ultramarathons. Within a year and a half I trained myself into the biggest challenge my body will possibly ever experience: western states 100 mile run. It was within that race that I found the true meaning and the importance of training. It was after that race where I didn’t know where to go in my journey as an endurance athlete. So I got onto a bike and changed it up. A month later at work a challenge was set out on the table. I was challenged to compete at ROTB in the reverse triathlon by my boss. I didn’t hesitate. I started training right after that moment around this same time two years ago. It was ROTB that has now encouraged me into different avenues of training and competing. Since then I have done cycling races, duathlons, and other triathlons. My goal now is to compete at Kona some day!  I thank the Race on the Base for being my first triathlon experience because it opened a door for my future training.”

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For your reference for any of you fine folks that, like me, were wondering “hmm, sounds great but what’s that” when you first read some of his entry:

An ultramarathon is defined as: “any sporting event involving running and walking longer than the traditional marathon” (ya know, for when 26.2 just isn’t enough!) “There are two different types of ultramarathon events: 1) cover a specified distance or 2) take place during a specified time. The most common distances are 50k and 100k.

For more information on ultramarathons, visit: http://www.ultramarathonrunning.com/

Check out http://www.wser.org/ for info on the Western States 100 mile run.

Finally, the “Kona” Brian refers to is the Ironman World Championship which takes place in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This beast of an event includes a 2.4 mile ocean swim, followed by 112 mile bike ride, and finished with a breezy 26.2 mile run (yes, that’s finishing with a marathon). Just reading about this event makes me feel intimidated, but visit www.ironman.com to read more about this and other ironman competitions.

The 12 days of Running Gifts

If you are the supporter of a runner or triathlete and your version of a marathon is the Black Friday style madness through the treachery of the local mall, here is a guideline to help streamline your efforts for the runners on your list (If you ARE a runner or triathlete= TREAT YO’SELF!)

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1. Gift certificate to a running or athletic store. Gift certificates may seem impersonal, but every runner requires a different type of shoe so cutting out the middle man to buy the shoe may be playing a bit of a wild card and risking an ill-fitted shoe they feel too guilty to return. Besides, your gift certificate may push them to finally hunt down the new pair of shoes they’ve probably needed longer than they care to admit (runner shoe attachment issues)

2. Pedicure. With all of the miles they put on their feet, offer them a way for them to relax and spoil their poor tootsies!

3. Running clothes. In the same way that you can put a lot of miles on your feet, if you’re working out a lot your clothes can start to look a little haggard. To keep the runner in your life looking ready to pose for any Facebook picture that proves that they are, in fact, a runner… think about compression gear, touch-screen friendly gloves, eyewear, or whatever else tickles your fancy! If you’re unsure of what to buy, go to a running store and ask for some advice and they will be able to point you towards the newest trends (Keep it local by checking out “Tri-Zone” in Los Alamitos or “Runner’s High” in Long Beach)

4. A way to show off. Plenty of people compete in running for the feeling of satisfaction it brings. There is also the segment of racers that compete largely for the SWAG, like the bag, shirt and the medal. For example, I’ve convinced plenty of people to compete in our race solely based on the look of our medal. So a great gift for these athletes is either a hanging rack or a case where they can display their collection of medals. Whatever the reason people compete, this is still a great gift to give any athlete as a way to help safe keep all of their running treasures.

5. Music for the ears. Songs can help keep runners with timing, energy, and motivation. You can go with the usual iPod or accessories such as the armband, or special running ear buds. Another accessory to seriously consider is the Nike + iPod sensor. You can slide this into your shoes (the Nike+ shoes are obviously recommended, but I imagine you could figure out a way to adapt) and they will sync up to your iPod touch or iPhone 3GS or later. Once you have it set up, it can play music while tracking calories burned, distance, time, etc. http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/run.html

6. GPS Watch. Help the runner in your life know where they’re going and where they’ve been. (http://www.tomtom.com/en_us/products/your-sports/running/tomtom-runner-gps-watch/dark-grey/?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=CO_search_Summer2013_SportsWatch) Most running watches out there (such as Garmin and tomtom) also give runners the ability to upload their workouts to their website or mobile device to help track training and progress.

7. Reusable Water bottle. If you want to give your runner a little something without diving into the big bucks of gear and the like, there are some great options to help keep your athlete hydrated. Be mindful of the style of the bottle in comparison to how they train (i.e. Biking vs running, hand held vs clip, insulated vs lightweight, etc).

8. Injury Prevention & Treatment. Injuries and discomfort caused by running can be easy sources for excuses to slip out of good exercise habits. To help your runner avoid this, think of purchasing something like body glide which reduces chafing, fancy colored sport tape to help with shin-splints, shoe inserts to reduce knee and foot issues, and synthetic socks to avoid blisters. (http://greatist.com/fitness/most-common-running-injuries-and-how-avoid-them)

9. Protein & Hydration (Stocking stuffer!) Protein bars, chews, and hydration packets can help boost your runner’s energy levels so they can finish a run or workout on a high note.

10. Wrist ID. Runners tend to travel light, often leaving with nothing but the clothes on their back and the shoes on their feet. In the event of an emergency or injury with the runner, a wrist ID can be a lifesaving accessory. These wristbands can be fashion statements, but more importantly contain relevant medical information, their name, and contact information. This can help so that necessary people are contacted and important medical information is passed on to emergency personnel.

11. Jewelry. You can use jewelry to track specific running achievements, such as charms that represent the first time they ran or finished a certain race. Otherwise, you can also go with a simple and cute necklace or bracelet with a runner silhouette or quote. It’s a sleek way for them to show their passion and can also be used as a perfect conversation starter.

12. Running Belt. These are a perfect and comfortable way to have storage on the go. These trendy waistbands can fit most modern phones, keys, money, and even a power bar or two. They are essentially a sleeker, fancier, and more attractive version of the good ole fashioned fanny pack. (check out The FlipBelt at http://flipbelt.com/)

12 days of running gifts

13. In honor of Friday the 13th, I’m going to sneak in a little extra gift tip. Entry fees. When I shop for friends or family close to me, I like to try and create memories rather than chancing a physical item they may or may not use or even already have. Memories are invaluable (I know… it’s not free…shhh). Pay for an entry into their favorite race or sign BOTH of you up to participate. Give the gift of corny by gifting memories this holiday season. Anyone purchasing Race on the Base entries this holiday season?

Thanks to RunEatRepeat for the inspiration! http://runeatrepeat.com/2013/11/14/top-10-gifts-for-runners-this-holiday-season/

Holidaze

Just like ABC Family, our countdown to the holidays has officially begun. Between shopping, decorating, crafting, EATING holiday treats, and more- it can be hard to make time for yourself, let alone a work-out. What’s more- since the invention of things like Pinterest you’re now expected to have perfectly designed homes and equally appealing and creative holiday treats and dinners. So how are you supposed to find the time to do anything for yourself?

If you can’t avoid the holiday treats- hopefully you can still commit to working out in some form (no, holding an excessive number of shopping bags through a crowded mall-though brave-does NOT count as a workout!). Let’s start thinking about ways we can still fit a workout into the schedule without scheduling your life down to the T and getting minimal sleep.

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1. No elevators/escalators: take the stairs! Small changes such as this can make a BIG difference. They add up.

2. Portion control: If you struggle to make time to work out, don’t stack the cards against yourself by stacking your plate to the sky! Try the treats, but don’t eat the whole tray.

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3. Take an inventory of your time: Have you ever heard the expression “you don’t HAVE time… you MAKE time”? When something is important to you, you’ll make it happen. Prioritize family and friends, but don’t forget about YOU in the meantime because YOU are the one that has to live with the results of your workout habits. If you stop to think about how you actually spend your time, you may come to find hidden clusters of time that is wasted or could be repurposed for something more productive. (Remember that Pinterest I mentioned earlier…) (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/make-time-to-work-out?page=1)

4. Time Your Screen Time: It is so easy to get sucked into the trap of DVR and Netflix, especially after a long day at work. But just stop and think about all those times you’ve been watching a mediocre show that you settled on after realizing you’ve already watched and re-watched every episode of your favorite shows. I dare to say you won’t miss those shows if instead of watching them… you took a little time to focus on you and your health. What’s more- if you just can’t resist the newest episode of your favorite show: make your time more valuable. Be an active viewer. Do something on the commercial breaks like sit-ups, jumping jacks, or yoga. (http://experiencelife.com/article/25-ways-to-make-time-for-fitness/)

5. No excuses: Play like a champion! Instead of making up excuses to say why you shouldn’t or can’t workout, think of reasons why you should and I can guarantee those pros will definitely outweigh the cons. Plus, think of all that time you waste even thinking up excuses that could be better spent. Everything tends to be so much easier said than done, but you have to start somewhere.

Veterans Rock: ROTB Community Charity Partner Feature

Race on the Base has the honor to be associated with some great charities for our upcoming 2014 event. Given the location of our event, we take pride in the fact that all of our community charity partners to date are associated with the military in some way. One of these organizations is called “Rock for Vets.” Their mission is captured perfectly in their name—they help veterans suffering from PTSD, Spinal Cord Injury, Brain Injury, Blind Rehab and more to… rock. Participants learn a musical instrument or participate in a band to help increase self confidence, self worth, and ease the transition back into civilian life.

Rock for Vets is one of many groups around the nation that uses the power of musical therapy to help veterans on the path to recovery once they have returned to American soil. The concept of musical therapy for veterans of war was conceived in the mid-1900s and has continued to expand. It is thought to be a “part of a groundbreaking, interdisciplinary approach to working with patients and their families… it can provide treatment and tools for veterans seeking development of healthy coping skills.” (http://www.harrisoncentermt.com/PTSD)

Part of how Rock for Vets achieves their mission is by taking the veterans and their bands out to perform live. This encourages socialization, helps veterans adjust to being in public, and gives them responsibility and purpose, among numerous other benefits. On Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 3pm to 5pm there will be a FREE concert in the park at Signal Hill Park (corner of Cherry Ave and Hill St, 90755). The concert has been created to honor veterans and their families from Signal Hill and the surrounding areas.

Attendees of the event will have the chance to meet Mr. Richard Lubner, a WWII US Marine Machine Gunner Corp Iwo Jima Veteran who personally witnessed the iconic raising of our US flag at Iwo Jima.iwo jima

There will also be some military vehicles present, a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and, of course, Rock for Vets will be there to perform. Also set to perform will be the Long Beach Community Band, which is made up of over 60 musicians and has been entertaining Long Beach residents since 1947.

You are encouraged to show your support and attend this FREE concert to salute our Nation’s heroes. Bring a lawn chair and a bite to eat so you can sit back and enjoy the live music.2013signalhillflyerjpg (2)

For more information on supporting Rock for Vets, a registered 501c3 charity, please visit www.rockforvets.net and make your donation online or please contact Frank McIlquham (a resident of Signal Hill), Director of The Rock Club—Rock for Vets at 866-597-1116 or email frank@therockclub.net.

For more general information on music therapy, visit: http://www.musictherapy.org/

Friday the 13th Fitness Facts

Through my research and preparation for this blog, I have come to find that there are themes and “holidays” assigned to just about every day of the year. September 13th has been dubbed “Positive Thinking Day.” Ironically, this September 13th also happens to fall on Friday the 13th. This is the infamous day that is supposed to be wrought with luck so bad you can make 12+ subpar scary movies about it.

In honor of the 13th, and just in case you happen to be superstitious, I am going to give you 13 positive thoughts and/or fun facts about running: (disclaimer: I tried to use as many unique sources as possible—though many of these facts appeared on multiple sites. The facts are only as good as the source and are subject to change. Feel free to let me know of any necessary updates or corrections!)

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  1. The oldest person to complete a marathon was born in 1911, making him 100 years old at the time. His name was Fauja Singh of India. This marathoner didn’t even start racing until he was 89 years of age. I’m going to throw out a horrible Justin Bieber reference and tell you to never say never. When you’ve hit a plateau or are struggling to stay motivated, put your mind at ease knowing that it IS possible and it’s never too late to start!http://anytimehealth.com/blog/394816-10-interesting-facts-you-probably-didn-t-know-about-runningrunfact2
  2. Athletes dressed in red are more likely to win events than athletes wearing any other color. http://www.agoga.com.au/running-facts/runfact3
  3. It takes 200 muscles to take a step.  Pretty mind-blowing when you think about it. Makes me in awe of the physical feats that our bodies can achieve. http://halfcrazymama.com/2013/02/07/fun-facts-about-running/runfact4
  4. An average man has enough energy in his fat stores to run non-stop for 3 days at 15 miles per hour. http://www.christyruns.com/2011/07/fun-facts-about-running.htmlrunfact5
  5. Human feet can produce a pint of sweat per day. I don’t really want to test this theory…http://fitnessemu.com/40-random-facts-you-did-not-know-about-running/runfact6
  6. “Runner’s High” is a real phenomenon. From the Oxford Journal: “Ten athletes were scanned at 2 separate occasions in random order, at rest and after 2 h of endurance running (21.5 ± 4.7 km). Binding kinetics of [18F]FDPN were quantified by basis pursuit denoising (DEPICT software). Statistical parametric mapping (SPM2) was used for voxelwise analyses to determine relative changes in ligand binding after running and correlations of opioid binding with euphoria ratings. Reductions in opioid receptor availability were identified preferentially in prefrontal and limbic/paralimbic brain structures. The level of euphoria was significantly increased after running and was inversely correlated with opioid binding in prefrontal/orbitofrontal cortices, the anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral insula, parainsular cortex, and temporoparietal regions. These findings support the “opioid theory” of the runner’s high and suggest region-specific effects in frontolimbic brain areas that are involved in the processing of affective states and mood.”runfact7
  7. *Warning: this is a more disturbing/interesting fact that is well-suited for the spooky theme of today* When we run, our hearts create enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet. Disturbing visuals ensue about how this might have been tested… Now that’s a scary movie in the making. http://blog.runningwarehouse.com/running-sport/trivia-time-25-fun-running-facts/runfact8
  8. Until 2011, German runner Horst Preisler held the world record for having run the most marathons, having run over 1,760 marathons. His club teammate Christian Hotta is the new leader with more than 1,820 marathons run. This is a sign of healthy, competitive rivalry at its best! CHALLENGE accepted! http://running.competitor.com/2013/07/news/did-you-know-running-facts-and-trivia_77648runfact9
  9. If you weighed 150 lbs., a 20-minute walk would burn about 85 calories, while a 20-minute run would burn about 225 calories. http://tribesports.com/infographics/running-the-facts-and-the-figuresrunfact10
  10. Just thinking about exercising causes your heart rate to increase in anticipation of an increased need for energy. Does this mean I can think my way to being healthier and faster? Hmm…runfact11
  11. Achieving a personal goal is the Number 1 reason why people enter into a race. What’s your reason? http://www.runningnetwork.com/RNW/index.php/mobile-news/41-news/5936-celebrate-national-running-day–infographic-from-brooks-runningrunfact12
  12. Every two hours we spend sitting reduces blood flow, raises blood sugar, and drops good cholesterol levels by 20%. Now that’s scary. http://dashburst.com/infographic/health-problems-from-sitting/runfact13
  13. Runners age more slowly. http://rebloggy.com/post/fitblr-running-fitness-runblr-running-facts/36354520043. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what it is.

Beat the Heat

All of the Midwest is probably rolling their eyes at our “cool” 90 degree heat as of late (A stiff 93* as I write this). Southern California is normally spoiled by ideal weather throughout the year. This recent heat wave, even though it is not as hot as it may be other places, can still be dangerous to local athletes. If you are not used to running in any kind of heat (and even if you are), it is important to be prepared in order to avoid injury or sickness.

In excessive heat it seems most feasible to beat the heat by avoiding it. But that may not work as far as your physical fitness and training regime go. It’s hot… you still need to run… so what do you do to conquer the heat before it conquers you?

There are some more obvious options like running later in the day, early in the morning, or in the (hopefully) air conditioned sticky oasis of your local gym. As any athlete knows though, the “ideal” is not always possible. Here are some key elements I’ve gathered to help with running in the heat:
1. Stay hydrated
2. Safely build up your tolerance to heat
2a. Train at consistent times, when possible
2b. Slowly introduce your body to the heat (ie. don’t go on a 20 mile sprint in the heat)
3. Protect yourself (and your skin): cover your skin with clothing AND sunblock
3a. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a loose fitting shirt, and a hat are perfect
elements to the ideal beat-the-heat running outfit
4. Pace yourself
5. Listen to your body
5a. Now is not the time to just “push through”
5b. Be in tune with your body to catch signs of heat exhaustion & dehydration

A heat wave doesn’t mean you can’t run… it just means you have to be smarter about your approach. Be prepared, stay cool, and conquer that heat!

Running in the heat 1 Running-in-the-Heat

Refer to these articles for more information!

http://beta.active.com/health/articles/how-to-adapt-to-the-heat-for-summer-runs

http://beta.active.com/articles/running/6-tips-to-run-through-the-heat-879686

http://beta.active.com/articles/health/20-tips-to-stay-cool-on-a-summer-run

http://www.runnersworld.com/the-starting-line/running-heat?page=single

Race on the Base 9.0: Raced on the Base

After all this time of having shared with you about my journey and struggle with running, I almost didn’t make it to the Race on Saturday.

Tuesday night before the Race, I was clutching the toilet bowl for dear life as the room seemed to be spinning around my head and the floor tilting underneath me.  Hello again, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). 

BPPV develops when a small piece of calcium breaks free and floats within the tube of the inner ear. This sends the brain confusing messages about your body’s position and therefore causes you to feel like the world is spinning.

I suffered BPPV just about this time last year as a result from a minor car accident.  (Long story. But if you’re interested: http://www.oakmonster.com/2012/02/10/my-week-in-vertigo/)  The difference between this bout and the last one is that I now know what it is and how to get out of it.  And got out of it I did, after 3 days of mostly sitting still.

By Friday, I was back to normal. Well, at least my head was. I went to bed at 9 p.m. in preparation for the super early wake up call.  At midnight, my stomach had a different idea.

When I went back to bed at 2 a.m., I really wasn’t sure I would be able to run the Race at all. All the resources I have looked up advised against running when the symptoms are below the neck. All I could do was pray.

My alarm went off a couple of hours later. My friend and running inspiration Amy was behind schedule, hailing in from Hollywood. One thing led to another and we were 45 minutes behind schedule.  Adding to the lateness, we decided to “save our legs” and drove instead of just walking a mile or so. And that was not a wise choice, being as late as we were.

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By the time I met up with my other friend and fellow 5K newbie Tamara at the starting line, we had just enough time to hug, take a picture, and we were off!

A friend teased that the running gods were out to test my resolve with all of these obstacles leading up to my very first 5K race. Where am I, in a Greek epic poem?  Sheesh. Then again, I was going to run as a Pegasus…

But despite the health issues and lateness, I did it. I ran my first long distance race of my life.

I did it in 41:35.3 minutes at a 13:25 minute-mile pace.  Some could walk faster than that. But to me, this is the fastest pace I’ve ever run.  In that, there was a 25-minute stretch of run which was the longest I have ever accomplished on the road.

I did it with my best friends by my side.  (Well, kind of.  Tamara was never too far behind and Amy was just a few miles ahead on the other track!)  I did it with the love of the most understanding and supportive husband in the world in my heart.

I mean, the man lets his wife out to run her first 5K dressed as a cartoon character from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic! That’s LOVE!

The wings on my back may have been made out of wire hanger and soft foam, but when I crossed the finish line, I really did feel like I could fly.

Thank you, Race on the Base, for providing me with a goal I can set out to accomplish.  If I hadn’t signed up to run, I might have abandoned running a long time ago and spiraled right back down the pit of self pity.

Oh, and by the way, I’m hooked.

I will be running the 5K at Run Seal Beach in April.  Then, Tamara and I, now race buddies, will be doing the 5K at both OC and Long Beach Marathon later in the year.  I’m hoping that I can get into a 12 minute-mile pace by the end of the year.

Who knows, you might see me running the 10K at 2014 Race on the Base.

Until then, happy running, everybody!

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