EYE OF THE TIGER

The time has come (read this with the Rocky theme song NOT the Jaws soundtrack in your mind)… we have finally made it to the week of the race! It is almost time to celebrate with friends and family as you gracefully sprint (or walk or pant or crawl) across that final timing mat. Until that beautiful moment, remember to take care of yourself, stay healthy, don’t overdo it, and most importantly… have fun! We are so impressed by the amount of effort all of our athletes put into preparing for our race and are excited for you to embrace that feeling of accomplishment as you champion your goal and cross that finish line. Whatever reason is behind participating in our run—you are training, you are looking to lose weight, you’re aiming to complete your first 5K, 10K, or triathlon… heck, maybe you are one of those amazing creatures that just enjoys running and competing—we are so happy you have chosen our race to be a part of whatever journey you are on!

For those of you who have been following our blog since it first began, you’ll know that we selected Oakley as our Face of the Race. The original idea had been to touch base with Oakley throughout her training to gain perspective on someone’s individual journey to train for our race. Luckily for us, and probably for you too (no one needs to read all of MY ramblings on a weekly basis), Oakley happens to enjoying writing and blogging. And so a beautiful bi-weekly entry was born. For the final week of the race, we wanted to try and give our amazing Face of the Race a chance to relax and focus on her training. With that in mind, we did a more straightforward interview so she wouldn’t have to pour quite as much energy into this post. Take a read as Oakley reflects upon her journey as our Face of the Race…

Race on the Base:  Has being the Face of the Race impacted your training?

Oakley: Yes, in a way. Now the pressure is really on to not finish last!

ROTB: Have you stuck to your original training goals?

Oakley: I have done really well for the most part. I’ve hit a lot of stumbling blocks this last month or so. The cold and dry conditions sent me into the gym instead of running outdoor. And that spoiled my training a little bit. And as I finally got back on track again, I had some other health issues that interfere with my schedule.  I still have not been able to hit the entire 5K in one shot yet so I am certainly not on my target.

ROTB:  What was the distance you could run when you first started?

Oakley: A block, if I was lucky.

ROTB:  How have you improved over time?

Oakley: I can run a stretch of almost a mile now.

ROTB:  What is the hardest part of training for a run such as this?

Oakley: Breaking through my endurance limit.  I haven’t been able to push past the 15-minute mark yet. I have to switch to walking at that one mile mark. 

ROTB:  What is the easiest part?

Oakley: Just getting out the door. That’s the easiest part of all because I really do want to run.

ROTB: What is your training plan as we head into the last week before the race?

Oakley: First, I would like to get healthy again, and I’m working on that.  I would like to be able to get one more 5K in before trying to run 20-25 minutes in one stretch.

ROTB: Do you have a race day routine in mind for your first race?

Oakley: Other than figuring out how to get my wig and wings on? Not really.  I’m really excited that my friend and half-marathoner Amy is coming down from LA to do the 10K to support me at my first race! Amy was the one who inspired me to get running in the first place.  I have a few more friends who are running. A couple of them are running with their 2-month old baby! 

ROTB:  Do you have any running habits or superstitions?

Oakley: Unless the fate of USC football depends upon it, I do not have any superstitions. Kidding. My running habit is that I like to run on a mostly empty stomach, so I prefer running in the morning.  I would roll out of bed, take a big tablespoon full of raw honey, drink half a glass of water, warm-up and stretches, and then out the door. 

ROTB: Do you have any post-race plans?

Oakley: I hope to stick around and cheer on my friend Ana Cholo who is doing her first triathlon! (Fight on, girlfriend!)

ROTB: Do you think that you will continue to run after you have achieved your goal?

Oakley: Absolutely. I may not get past 5K (seriously, I really don’t have the attention span for it), but I will definitely keep running.

ROTB: Will your performance at Race on the Base impact your future running plans?

Oakley: I hope that it will motivate me to run more race. As of right now, I’ve already signed up for the Long Beach Marathon 5K!

ROTB: What is your main goal for race day?

Oakley: Don’t finish last. That’s it. That’s all!

 

Don’t forget to sign up for our race so you can join Oakley and our other amazing participants as they compete this Saturday! Register at www.raceonthebase.com. Your race entry includes a long sleeve black shirt, a medal, a cinch bag (not pictured, but it is a backpack with our logo), AND a free lunch from Johnny Reb’s BBQ. If you’re not in the mood to run, sign up for the great shirt! If you couldn’t care less about the shirt, run to get the cool dog tag medal or the convenient little bag! Still not convinced? Everyone has to eat! That settles it folks… there’s no good reason to NOT come! So we’ll see you there!

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Face of the Race 7.0: Running Home, Literally

Running Home, Literally

Great news! Your mostly-unemployed Face of the Race has gotten a part-time temp job right here in beautiful Los Alamitos.  My morning shift ends at 11:30 a.m. and the office is a little shy of 2 miles away.   The moment I was told I got the gig, the first thing I thought was, “Gosh. Getting up to run at 5 a.m. is going to suck!”

(By the way…WHAT?! Who am I? Before I started running, my first thought would’ve been, “When is the latest I can get up?” and not how EARLY I have to get up. Not just that, to get up to RUN!)

I’m decidedly a morning runner.  For one, my sinuses and lungs love the moisture in the morning. Another reason is that I don’t get side stitches if I run on an empty stomach.  A big spoonful of honey and a gulp of water and I’m out the door.  If I had anything more than an apple or a banana within 4 hours before running, I am guaranteed a painful long walk soon after Mile 1.

Having said all that, I am still not dedicated enough to wake up at 5 a.m. for a run and get ready for work.  I’m just not.

But maybe I could run TO work and get ready there.

People commute on bicycles too, so I’m sure there are folks who run to the office. And sure enough, I found a few articles about run commuters and even a blog. (Super helpful http://theruncommuter.com/).  These commuters run anywhere from 5-12 miles to work. Some run one way either to or from work, some do both.  Some run daily, and some don’t.  That’s a lot of running people are doing out there!  And here I am, planning for days for a 2-mile commute. But I digress.

The top challenge of bike and run commute is the hygiene.  Some folks run to a gym close to work to shower. Most just go with doing a bird bath.  There are several tips and tricks to get yourself presentable after a sweaty workout without a shower.  I had done my share of “dry cleaning” when I used to hike up a steep incline to work years ago.  But still, personally, I don’t like the slightly icky feeling afterward.  And the thought of having a pile of sweaty clothes stewing in my bag all day just grosses me out more.  So, running to the office will not work for me.

Besides, at the pace I’m running, I might not get into the office at noon!

That leaves me with running home which is actually perfect.  Since I don’t have to be home at a certain time, I can actually add another mile to make the run a full 3.1 mile/5K.  More importantly, if I had a light breakfast before I leave the house for work, by the time I set out for home, I should not have the side stitches.  And because I don’t run every day, I can leave my dry work clothes at the office to take home the next day.  No running with cargo for me!

So, last night, I laid everything out. I would wear a t-shirt with my work slacks, my running shoes, topped off with a warm jacket and MP3 player. To get ready for work, I packed my work top, face powder, a hairbrush, a washcloth, and body spray. I doubt I’ll get too sweaty by the time I get there, but you never know. For my run, I packed my clothes, Road ID bracelet, watch, ponytail holder, hat, sun block, and water belt with my phone, ID, a few bucks, and my house key in it.

The run home didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. The sun was a bit too much and my shoulders started to turn a little crispy, so I headed straight home instead of staying on my training course.  I’m still quite proud that at least I got my run in. 

The best reward of today’s run commute experiment, however, happened right before I left the office.

I was making my way out the door in full running gear.  That, of course, drew a bit of attention.

“I see somebody’s ready for a work out,” someone chirped.

“Yep. I’m running home,” I said.

“You’re going home to work out?”  She’s probably thinking, then why didn’t she go home THEN change?

“No, no. I *am* running home. Literally!  I live only 2 miles from here.”

Oh, the look on their faces when they realized what I was actually going to do was just priceless.

Face of the Race 4.0: Bored on the Run

A friend of mine posted on Facebook a few days ago, asking if I would be interested in running a 10K with her in August 2013.  I haven’t even run my first 5K yet and this half-marathoner is asking me to run the 10K.  I “LOL”-ed. 

It’s not the physical challenge I am afraid of. I just don’t have the attention span to run that long. I mean a 5K (a little over 3 miles) is already a mental struggle for me. There’s no way I could sustain running for more than an hour!

The distance hasn’t been that much of an issue now. I no longer feel like a 5K is a long way.  You have now read about my physical struggle with getting off the couch to run (Link to last week’s post: https://raceonthebase.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/face-of-the-race-3-0-getting-over-the-pain/).  Just the other day, I ran from Farquhar down Los Alamitos Boulevard to the Shoppes at Rossmoor in one shot before taking a walking break. That’s one whole mile without stopping!

However, now that I’m getting more comfortable physically, I find myself struggling to keep my focus on the run.

Most people say that their minds clear while they run. While I do have bursts of clarity, most of the time I find myself thinking, “Oh my gosh! How long have I been running? I’m not even there yet? Jeebus…I’m so bored right now.”

There are all kinds of resources on the internet to help a newly minted runner with his/her mental development such as focusing on your breathing, talking to yourself, visualizing yourself crossing the finish line, and using dissociation like listening to music, daydreaming, or chatting with a friend.

I’m pretty much employing all of them in a different order on my meager 5K run just to keep me from throwing in the towel after the first mile.

1. Heel-Toe Rock Concert

I like to sing. So instead of having my playlist set to just upbeat, workout music, I put in several sing-along anthems.  I usually sing the song in my head or mouth the words while I run. But there are some occasions that I sing it out loud.  Residents of Rossmoor might have heard a broken and pitchy renditions of Grease’s “Summer Nights”, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”, or even Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” passing by some mornings. It’s not an injured cat whizzing by your window.  That would be me: run-singing.

Also, while it might look like I’m having a seizure when I run, I’m probably hand-dancing or air-drumming to Sergio Mendes or The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”.  I’m okay. Really.

2. Visualizing Running Scenes

There are songs that get you to rock out and then there are songs that give me motivating visualization. Some do it through the lyrics. Like Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer” – “Oh, we’re half way there. Whoa-oh, living on a prayer!”  Or Foster the People’s “Houdini” – “Focus on your ability, then they can’t get what they want to steal.”

And others just trigger imagery that motivates. Like a mental image of Captain Jack Sparrow in his adventures when I hear the Pirates of the Caribbean’s “He’s a Pirate”. (Yes. I really do have a classical piece in my playlist.)  Or the piece de resistance, Fifty Cent working out and running on a treadmill in “In Da Club” video. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qm8PH4xAss ) The song also says, “Go, shorty! It’s your birthday!” And since I’m 5-foot-nothing, that’s my own personal cheerleading from Fifty Cent right there, yo.

3. Self Pep Talk

I watched the movie “Touching the Void” several years ago.  It’s based on a true story where the main character falls off a cliff while ice climbing and breaks his right leg. Not only did he survive the fall, but he also crawled and hopped his way out for three days to the base camp 5 miles away with all of his injuries, little water, and no food.  In the “making of” documentary, Joe Simpson, the person on which the character was based said that to get himself off the mountain, he would aim for a spot a few feet away to crawl to. Once he got there, he would aim for the next few feet and repeat the process.  Just a few feet more. Just a few feet more…

Once the music has lost my attention, my muscles start to ache, and/or my breath becomes ragged, I thought of Joe Simpson, and I would pick a spot a few yards away to focus on.  Just get to that tree. Just get to that house. Just get to the corner. Just a few yards more…

4. Story Time

I did a writing exercise in college where we had to go people watch and come up with a few sentences of story about those strangers.  So, when boredom creeps in, I’d try to think up some stories about what I see on the run to keep my brain occupied. 

If Batman was to live in that big house, where would his Bat Cave entrance be?  Can that runner’s dogs run with him on a marathon?  Are those mushrooms around that tree edible?  What if the “soccer mom” in that Escalade who almost ran me over at the stop sign was really a CIA agent hunting terrorists?  

I’m just hoping that all of these crazy stories will keep me on the road.  With the weather turning a little bit colder and rainier these days, I came close to paying up at the gym to use their treadmill just to keep my training schedule. But the thought of the massive boredom that comes with running on a treadmill is worse than facing Mother Nature.

And now that the holidays are upon us, running through the neighborhood and imagining what the holiday decorations would look like at night is definitely a great distraction.

Time to load up some rocking holiday music and hit the road!  Happy Holidays, everybody!

Face of the Race, Oakley.

Face of the Race 3.0: Getting Over the Pain

This entry was written by our Face of the Race contest winner, Oakley. Join us as she continues her journey!

I’m a wuss. Ask anyone. 

Unless it’s the good-hurt that comes with a deep tissue massage and a deep yoga stretch, I don’t like pain. I do not subscribe to the “Pain is weakness leaving the body” philosophy. Pain is, well, pain. It hurts. And I don’t like it.

Almost all of my failed attempts at running in the past were because of my pain aversion. I quit because I didn’t like the way my lungs burn after I sprinted down the block.  I quit because of the muscle soreness I would experience the following day.  I quit because I went out once on a cool day without a hat once and the pain in the tips of my ears drove me to tears at the end of the block.

But then over a casual conversation, somebody mentioned that if running really is that painful, nobody would be doing it. And therefore whatever training program or tips I was using (which was none) must be wrong.

“You’re doing it wrong” is not just a meme. It’s a fact. All of my attempts at running, I had been doing everything all wrong!  I never consulted anybody or read anything about running. I just got up and started!  I mean, it’s running. Not brain surgery. There shouldn’t be any methods to this, right? You just…run? 

But then I didn’t know how to break my sprinter habit and slow down so I don’t end up being out of breath. I didn’t know how to gently acclimate my body to the new high impact fitness routine, or how to properly dress for a cool weather workout.  All of this preparation would have kept the training pain at the minimum.

So when I decided to give running another try this past September, I did research first.  I found one of those couch to 5K training schedules which starts very slowly with alternating jogging a minute with walking for a minute and half for 20 minutes a day, a few days a week.  My body did protest then too, but it was something I expected. It also wasn’t a lot to quit over.  As I continued with the program, I was adjusting well and enjoying every little victory.

I came close to quitting once again by the time I got to the 3-minute run interval.  I started to have issues with my knee.  I knew for sure it was the shoes but also found through my research that some newbies have knee issues because our quad muscles are still weak. We should add some strengthening workout until  our knees stabilize.  A new pair of shoes, several ice packs to the knee,  and a few weeks of running only once a week later, the knee pain was gone.  And I was once again back on track.

Instead of making pain the excuse to quit, I was working to get rid of the pain so I can continue running.

Wait. The wuss is actually trying to move forward? Who am I, really?!

As of earlier this week, the treadmill informed me that I ran 20 minutes straight at about an 18 minute-mile pace, then walked for about 5 minutes, and ran again for 10 minutes at 17 minute-mile pace.  I’m proud to say that running for 20 minutes straight was the longest stretch of running I have gotten so far. 

Pain is still not my friend, but I’ve learned to work with it. Maybe it really is weakness leaving my body after all.