Brother on the Run: Random Travel Running Moments

My amazing brother on the run has been traveling for work and has had a few hilarious runner experiences. In this post, he shares a few fun anecdotes. I know many of you can relate. Here’s Troy:

Running during a business trip can be a challenge or at least it can be for me.  Between the longer hours, tiny hotel gyms, and odd settings; getting a run in doesn’t always happen.  However, I tried during my last business trip to make the most of warmer weather and get a few runs in.  Oh Texas, always an adventure.

Pulled Over for Running

While staying near the Kemah (TX) Boardwalk, I tried to get 4-5 mile runs in every other day.  Unfortunately, this meant having a running day come during a monsoon – it was pouring rain and kept most people indoors.  I decided that I had a run to get and I was going to get it in.  Dr.Rachel has always pointed out that race day might not be perfect weather so training in sub-par weather can only help you prepare.

Fully dressed in running gear (half my stuff is fluorescent orange) including water bottle and Garmin I headed out for my 5 miles.  I was about half way through when a local cop pulled up to question me!

‘Was everything ok?’   ‘Did I need a ride somewhere?’ ‘Did I realize that it was raining?’

It was very nice of him to check on me (and I do appreciate it) but considering I have never been pulled while driving, being pulled over while running was a bit odd.  It took two days for my shoes to dry.

Most ‘Runner’ Thing Ever

After a hotel change, I was in a new city and still needing to log some miles.  I decided to do something new, something different for me.  I got dressed in all my running gear and headed to the local running store.  One question “where do you run?” was all I had for the clerks.  On The Run (Webster, TX) was great and showed me maps for both in city and trail runs in the nearby area.  I have never felt like more of a runner than going to a running store in a new city for course suggestions.

Bayou Trail Runs

The above conversation led me to the Armand Bayou trails in Pasadena, TX for a quick 5 mile run.  Not but 100 feet into my run a walker warned me about the trail ahead being ‘wet’.  It hadn’t rained for days so I thought nothing of it and continued on my way.  Mistake.  What was supposed to be a solid tempo run became some kind of crazy fartlek run where I sprinted for 100 yards and then walking through bogs and swamp pits in an attempt not to lose a shoe or fall in!  Trail runners probably laugh at this; this path is flat and covered with crushed gravel for the most part with only some slightly flood-ridden zones.  I just might not be much of a trail runner after all.

Treadmill or Beer?

I ended my trip back to the old standby: the hotel treadmill.  The particular chain of hotels I stayed at offer a cocktail reception once a week, a reception that just happened to fall right on my run night.  There is nothing like the joy of running 4 miles when, through the glass, I can see the other guests enjoying drinks and appetizers.  When I say 4 miles, I really mean 3.27 miles before I needed an ice cold beer also.  Running is hard, running when you could be drinking a beer by the pool is impossible.

Race Review: BARC St. Patrick’s Day Road Races

Race season has come to Michigan! Here’s a great race review from my brother on the run. Now that he’s conquered 26.2, he’s keeping his training going with several short races. Here’s his take on the BARC St. Patrick’s Day Road Races:

There are a number of early season races near to my home in MI that somehow are able to draw a crowd despite the chance for cold weather.  This year, I signed up for the Bay Area Runner’s Club St. Patrick’s day races held in Bay City, MI.  The race featured a 5K, 8K, and Irish Double – participants in the Irish Double ran the 8K and then 5K.  This was my first race following Disney. So, I did the logical thing and signed up to run the Irish Double.

March weather can be unpredictable in MI, with the 2014 race being about 14F (I am told).  Luck was on our side though and the day turned out to be relatively nice.  Credit must be given to the nearly 5000 people who showed up Sunday morning to run while their neighbors started grills and drank beer – yes, we saw multiple people with cases of Miller Light.  There is a parade that follows the races so most people are not there to watch the runners but to prepare for the parade.

The packet pick-up offered prizes to the first 750 in line and sure enough, the line was out the YMCA door and down the road when we showed up.  The volunteers and YMCA staff did a great job of leading people through the building to the packet location (and minor expo).  The only slight here is that some of the announcements were not loud enough or repeated frequently enough.  The expo featured only a couple of vendors, but had plenty of information and stands on upcoming races – we grabbed a pamphlet for everything.

Sunday morning weather was on the cold side, but we still headed out for the 9:00 AM race start time.  The course starts in Bay City, near the waterfront gathering on a street corner.  Parking was a free for all.  I had asked at the expo where to park and was more or less told that it was anywhere I could find a spot.  This is a pet peeve of mine – parking should be clearly marked and easy to access.  Had we only been running the 5K, I would have been worried about finding a parking place.  Going so early, we found something close to the race start/finish and piled out.  The race corrals were easy to find and plenty big to hold the 8K runners.

The race itself goes through the historic district of Bay City and features some impressive houses.  The course is flat, fast, and with very few turns – perfect for setting a PR.  Two highway lanes are provided so at no time did I ever feel crowded or have to dash through a crowd of people.  Water was provided and there were plenty of volunteers directing and cheering.  I think the course and set up was great and the volunteers seemed genuinely happy to be there.  My only complaint – there was road kill on the course.  Someone should have checked the path and taken care of this before we started the race (let alone clean up before the start of the 5K as there was plenty of time).  The finish area was great and staffed by more than enough people to direct, hand out food, and hand out medals.

The 5K followed a shorter version of the same path and was broken into a run and a walk division.  With my pregnant wife by my side, we started at the back of the runners and immediately before the walkers.  We both enjoyed the 5K course (save for road kill) and were pleased to see even more people showing up and cheering.  I was surprised when we reached the finish at the sheer number of people who had shown up – though the weather was about 15F warmer at that point.

Everyone who finished got a medal and those of us who did the Irish Double received two.  The medals are of high quality and look great.  The race t-shirts are made of impossibly soft cotton and while simple in design, were well thought out.  The swag for this race was great and with a relatively low entrance fee made for a great day.

Overall, I had a great time on this race and would probably run it again – staying afterwards for a beer with friends while watching the parade if situations allow (they did not this year).  It probably doesn’t hurt that I set a new 5K PR during the 8K run.  It was a great way to start the race season.

 

Product Review: Shower Pill

My favorite days are multiple workout days. I love a good two-a-day. Between my own workouts and my yoga teaching, I have lots of opportunities for multiple workout days. Multiple workout days lead to serious questions that can only be described as “fit girl problems”. Questions like: “Should I shower now, or 6 hours from now when I get home?” “How bad is it if I don’t wash my hair after this sweaty run, and just wait until tomorrow when I want to look pretty?” And, the real question – “Is it bad to just change clothes and not shower?”

I confess. I don’t shower after every  single workout. Sometimes there isn’t time. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it – like those days that I run in the morning and know I have a super sweaty hot yoga class a few hours later. I know this calls my personal hygiene into question. I do shower once a day at minimum. I swear I’m not dirty…I just like to maximize my shower power. I like to earn my shower. Sometimes this results in questionable shower-timing decisions. For a long time, I have used Wet Ones, or other hand wipes in between workouts for a quick clean up. They don’t really do the job. They manage to remove some of the sweat and grime from the gym of the road. I am cleaner, but never really feel clean.

Enter the ShowerPill. I had heard about ShowerPill for a while now from my friends in the fitness community. I don’t know why I never tried them, but I had wanted to. When the team at Fit Approach contacted me about a review opportunity, I jumped at the chance. I had been wanting to try ShowerPill, and now I had the perfect opportunity.

ShowerPill is an antibacterial wipe for the entire body. It is alcohol free, so it’s safe to use on sensitive skin (including the face), and has aloe and vitamin E. I got a 10-pack of ShowerPill to try.

ShowerPill package

 

I decided that the first ShowerPill use would be a double run day. I had a 14+ mile run in the morning, 2 hours off, then a 5 mile race scheduled in the afternoon. The afternoon race was an important one – I would be representing not only my running club, but the RRCA as a state rep. At a minimum, I couldn’t be smelly. This was an important test. I hopped into a changing room at the local running store (location of run #1) post-run.

ShowerPill test

The first thing that I noticed is that ShowerPill is soft and thick, like a real washcloth. It has a great, fresh scent. It *feels* like it will clean the whole body. It is damp, not wet, and the wipe left my skin feeling soft and clean. I actually felt clean. Really clean.

ShowerPill wipe

I was able to completely wipe my whole body with the ShowerPill wipe and feel completely clean. When I emerged from the changing room, one of my friends commented that I smelled nice. Nice! I was shocked. I was so impressed with the ShowerPill that I carried it around and made everyone feel it. Everyone was struck by how soft and thick the cloth was. It really was fabulous – life changing, even.

For my next ShowerPill test, I wanted to up the ante. I used a ShowerPill wipe after a sweaty workout at my weightlifting gym. The floor is black gym flooring and absolutely disgusting. Any time I touch the floor, I’m covered in black dirty. Combine that with sweat and the whole thing is a mess. The ShowerPill easily handled the dirt. I wiped off and found the cloth almost black. Disgusting, but I was dirt-free. I felt clean. It worked!

Overall, I adore the ShowerPill. Now that I have them, I can’t imagine my life without them. I’m heading for Florida today and I packed my ShowerPills! I can’t go without them. I love, love, love this product.

Note: I was provided complimentary product to conduct this test. I was compensated for this review (though I spent all the money on more ShowerPills!), but the review is honest and my thoughts are my own.

Product Review: MealEnders

If you’ve been reading for any amount of time, you know that I’m a total sugar addict. I’ve tried nearly everything to stop myself eating sugary junk. I know it’s bad for me. I know it’s addictive. But I love it. My biggest weakness is dessert. A meal just doesn’t seem finished until I have had something sweet. It’s a problem.

When I was approached by the team at FitApproach to try MealEnders, I jumped at the chance. MealEnders, are, basically, a lozenge that is scientifically formulated to reduce overeating. MealEnders is different that most stop-eating interventions. It’s a small lozenge, a low calorie, drug free, stimulate free, candy designed to help reduce overeating through sensory science. MealEnders  has two parts: a  sweet,  outer  layer  and  a  cooling inner  core.  The sweet outer layer has a pleasing flavor that tastes like dessert. The inner core is a tingly, cool flavor that clears the palate. It works kind of like brushing your teeth after a meal, but without all the effort. The lozenge takes a long time to dissolve, so your mouth is occupied for a while, allowing the brain time to process the fullness signals coming from the body.

MealEnders packages

When I got my MealEnders, I was skeptical. Let’s be honest, I have tried to kick sugary desserts for ages without success. I love my dessert. I tried the chocolate mint first. My thinking – it’s more “dessert-y” than some of the other flavors. Delicious! My first impression was pleasant. The taste really was sugary and tasty, like a light version of mint ice cream. It took a few minutes for the flavor to fade and the cooling sensation to begin. The cooling sensation worked well with the mint and was pleasing. I finished my lozenge in a few more minutes. And….I didn’t want dessert. I was totally satisfied. I had a great dinner and no dessert and that was enough. It was amazing!

I’ve used up my bag of chocolate mint and have tried the other flavors. I was so impressed with the MealEnders, I gave one bag to my mom to try. MealEnders really help me take control. I still have dessert, but I feel less overpowered by my sugary cravings. MealEnders have done as promised – allowed me to curb my appetite and take control of my cravings.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Would you like to try MealEnders yourself? Awesome! You can enter to win your very own sample pack below. The lucky winner will get one bag of each flavor. Open to residents of the US age 18 and over only, no purchase required. One winner will be selected via the Rafflecopter widget. Must have a non-PO Box mailing address to receive product. Winner will be notified and will have 48 hours to claim the prize. Failing to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize and the next winner will be selected. Winner will be provided the product directly from MealEnders.

Note: I was provided with free product to conduct this review, but was not otherwise compensated.

Thinking Spring

Spring is coming. I know it. As I look out at the piles of snow, and shiver in -10 degree temperatures, it doesn’t seem like spring will ever come. I dutifully count down the days until the first day of spring (less than four weeks!). I plan my spring training and register for spring races. If I keep thinking about spring, maybe it will come. Spring is coming.

Spring is a great time for running – for renewing running patterns and starting new running habits. My annual springtime tradition is a big running gear cleanse.

One of my favorite spring traditions is spring cleaning. I love clearing out old things, donating my unwanted items, and getting organized. My love of spring cleaning extends to my running gear as well. Each spring, I go through my running clothes, coats, shoes, and accessories to assess their usefulness and determine what needs to be retired or replaced. Use the spring to wash all running coats, jackets, outerwear, and accessories. Zip up zippers, place mittens and other small accessories in a garment bag, and wash everything on gentle with a sports-specific detergent. Hang coats, match mittens, and organize each item. Look carefully for signs of wear and take note of things that need to be retired or replaced. Spring is a great time for good deals on winter apparel and if you know what needs to be replaced, you can stock up at lower prices. Carefully go through anything that has stretchy fabric and look for signs of wear – tights that don’t quite hold their shape, or socks that slip. Retire those items that are showing signs of wear. Keep your new gear fresh by washing in cool water with a sports-specific detergent following my handy instructions.

Ladies, spring is an excellent time to sort through sports bras. Each spring, I go through sports bras carefully and replace any that are more than one year old. The life expectancy of a sports bra depends on a number of factors, including intensity of exercise, how you wash it, and how often its worn, but most sports bras last 75-100 wears, or about 6-12 months, depending on your usage. After that, the bra is likely not providing effective support, or could be providing uneven support. Replace older bras, and replace any that were purchased when you weighed more or less, or that were around before a change to your breast shape (like childbirth, nursing, or treatment for breast cancer). Indulge in a new bra and feel supported during each run.

Couch to 5k

It’s almost spring! At least, I hope it’s almost spring. Lots of my running coaching clients are training for a springtime race, including a few first time 5k runners. I love 5ks and think they’re a perfect first race. Think a 5k might be for you? Here’s a training plan to get started! Right click and save the picture for your very own printable copy! Or, contact me (follow the link above) and I will email you a pdf of your own.

DrRachelRuns Couch to 5k Plan

Troy Conquered 26.2!

My brother has been an amazing client, one of the best I’ve ever had as a running coach. Maybe I’m biased because he’s my brother, but he did an amazing job of training for, and finishing his first marathon. Following along as he chronicled it for this blog as been a joy. Here’s his summary of the whole thing:

 

5 hours 34 minutes 55 seconds.

My official marathon time (even though Dr.Rachel’s Garmin put us at 26.85 miles).

I didn’t care it was raining and getting cold. After standing and walking for 45 minutes, all I wanted was to sit down and eat. The discomfort was manageable, but my mental focus just kept drifting. Exhaustion had caught up and still, I was proud of my accomplishment.

It was amazing to cross the finish line and be handed a medal with Dr.Rachel standing beside me. I couldn’t have done this without her and the rest of my family. Dr.Rachel helped with the training, nutrition, and pacing to keep me going through the race. Wifey put up with me being gone every Saturday and Sunday for months and my neurotic behavior about my mileage every night. The rest of the family was there to support, cheer, and encourage us on. It was a great experience.

It has also been a great learning tool. Through the training, I have learned a lot as a runner and improved as a runner because of it. Dr.Rachel originally asked me to chronicle the training. Much of what has been written are the lessons I have learned along the way.

So to finish off, here is a synopsis of some of the things I learned:

  • Each new distance hurts (i.e. discomfort). Some old distances hurt every time. You just have to keep going.
  • Benjamin Franklin is quoted as “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Yes, there is an element of physical health but it turns out running a marathon is just being more determined and more persistent than the road.
  • Kits may not make the runner but they go a long way in making it comfortable to run. Invest in a set of high quality clothing for long runs (if nothing else).
  • Chaffing happens; nip guards exist for a reason. Vanity doesn’t exist at mile 26.
  • Food and water. Water and food. More food. Maybe a nap. Can you nap while eating?
  • Bring extra gear – long pants, shorts, long sleeves, t-shirts, arm warmers, blankets, ponchos, etc. Weather changes and better to be prepared than miserable.
  • Use training runs to make mistakes – try out different paces and fueling strategies until you find one that works.
  • A finisher medal may seem trite but damn does it feel good; good enough to make all the other discomfort silent. If just for a moment.
  • The best way to finish is to sign up for another race – I am already signed up for Detroit 2015.
  • Brain Worms will consume you.

Texts from Marathon Training

One of the best experiences of my running life has been completing the Dopey Challenge with my brother and a close friend. Running through the parks side by side with my brother is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Part of what’s made it so fun for me has been being with him on his journey as he trained for the marathon. It’s been funny, challenging, and a true joy. Since we live in different parts of the country, the training process has been chronicled in a series of text messages to each other. Here are some highlights – a representation of what training for a marathon is really like.

October - getting the running bug

I made a decision. 2015 I want to run the Detroit Marathon. Yup. Gonna happen.

I had popcorn. And someone brought in homemade chocolate chip cookies. Totes for realz. I want that cookie…

Oh. I has a sad. Ate back all the calories from running today. Food is too delicious.

Gah. Something in me is broken. Going to an Arkansas wedding this weekend. On the internet looking for running trails.

November - mileage gets higher…text revolve around food.

I hunger. I must feast. That is how I have felt all day.

I have snacks hidden and hoarded. I will not be denied.

I feel like a squirrel prepping for winter. Eating and hiding food to eat later all at the same time.

I spend too much time running of thinking of running right now. Literally I have spent lunch planning and writing in excel my fuel strategy.

December  – things start to get serious and race planning begins.

13 is no worry anymore. Which is nice. And 16 was easier today. That last mile is killer though.

Working recovery now.

My goal is to enjoy the 5, 10, and half. My biggest goal for the marathon is to ride the ride and cross the finish line.

40 and pouring rain. Not running today outside. Rest day! Christmas miracle!

Post-race.

357 days and 15 hours. January 6 2016. Who is in for runDisney?

Gear Review: Link Laces

Recently, I was approached by the people at Link Laces to review their product. Always willing to try new things, my mom and I reviewed the laces. I found them easy to use and install, but, being a regular shoelace person, didn’t have a strong opinion. So, I asked mom to review them. Mom regularly uses LockLaces and likes the elastic shoelaces. Here is what she had to say:

Link Laces are a elastic laces for shoes replacing standard laces.  The package comes with simple instructions to lace, cut, lock, and clip.    The laces were shorter than I was accustomed to, but I do not use the last hole on my shoes.  The tight spring loaded lock keeps the laces in place.

Link Laces

The shorter length meant a tighter fit when I slipped on my shoes, I tend to pull the tongue out a bit more than these would allow.  The clip cinched up nicely and I was ready for the first of several trial uses.  On the short walk, they were perfect, keeping the shoes firmly secure but not putting undo pressure on the top of my feet.  The next longer and admittedly warmer walk I had problems with the tight elastic laces. As my feet swelled, the laces remained firmly unstretchable.  I had to stop several times to adjust the tension for a more comfortable fit.  The main reason I want a product such as this is to keep from frequently stopping to readjust my laces as my feet change during my walks.   Finally I used the laces on shoes I planned to wear all day.  I encountered a similar problem, as my feet changed, the laces did not. It was not a comfortable fit.  I continued to try the Link Laces under various conditions and length of time worn, thinking it was just me or the shoes.

Link Laces in shoesI gave the Link Laces a fair chance to work, but for me, not so much.  The ease of slipping on shoes and cinching up got me out the door quick, but the trade off was stopping to adjust the laces on longer walks or warmer conditions.  It made my shoes just too tight for the long haul.  I will pass on adding these to my footwear.

Note: We were provided with complimentary product to complete this review, but were not compensated for the review.

Troy Conquered 26.2: Part 3

Dopey Challenge in 3 Parts – Part 3: Marathon

0300 comes very early. The family got up though to support the three of us who were running: me, Amy, and Dr.Rachel. Everyone was tired and tired of being in the cold but we had one more day left. It was great having that support especially as we headed off to the buses and the start line. 22.4 miles down and 26.2 are left. It is a crazy long distance, the marathon, and I have no idea why people (specifically me) ever signed up for something like this.

Troy's First Marathon

Dr.Rachel decided to let everyone know that not only was Troy there to run, but he was running his first marathon (awesome shirt sis). The shirt drew cheers and compliments along with the occasional “are you crazy?” from spectators and other runners. Turns out, running 22.4 miles leading up to your first marathon is not normal. Even one of Dr.Rachel’s running friends (also down from CT for the race) was caught off-guard. He had assumed that since I was running the Dopey Challenge, I had run marathons before. Nope, not the case.

As soon as the gun went off for our corral, we headed out. Cold and dark, we had done this three times already. Amy, Dr.Rachel, and I hit our pace and were on our way to hours of constant running fun. We cruised to the 5K marker with Amy and then convinced her to stick with us through the 10K. Congrats to Amy on a longest straight running record. The first 10K felt great, sun was coming up and the temperatures had improved. We stopped for a picture in front of the Castle and kept pushing.

Magic Kingdom is fun to run through and really a highlight of the Disney races. Once you get through it you turn back around and jump on the Speedway for a lap. While there were some cool cars, I could have done without the embankments and harder concrete. Then off we went to the lovely hidden back areas of Disney with the miles and miles of roads tourists never see. The waste water treatment plant was of particular fun though we were blessed with very little wind and cool temperatures making it bearable. This whole time Dr.Rachel is chatting away but I can’t recall a thing we talked about. It was mechanical; one foot in front of the other, just kept moving and gaining distance.

I was amazed at how good I was feeling when we entered Animal Kingdom. We had been keeping a great pace and perhaps too fast. Though Expedition Everest was opening it would have been 30+ minutes and I couldn’t stand the idea of sacrificing the time. We ran by it and headed past Animal Kingdom for the 13.1 miles marker and half way point. 35.5 miles in the Dopey Challenge and all systems were still going pretty well.

The next almost 10 miles are a blur. There was the ‘highway to hell’ and ESPN Wide World of Sports. We had hit about 20 miles and the discomfort (using proper Dr.Rachel terms) was really setting in. I had run 20 miles in training so I knew what to expect but the rest was all new territory. I started to take a few walk breaks and just remind myself that it was only 10K or 5K more. That back stretch at 19-22 miles is tough both physically and mentally. Then you hit Hollywood Studios, quickly followed by Epcot. That changes everything.

Hollywood Studios was fun because people were coming into the parks. The watched in both wonder and bemusement as the sea of sweaty people charged by. Many brought signs, more just brought loud voices to cheer on the runners. It was great. The Boardwalk was lined, absolutely lined, with people — all of them cheering. It was fantastic to see so many out and it really helps to propel you through the end of the run. Things are blurry. It had been a long day, a long week.

Epcot is hard to explain. Tired, hungry, in discomfort, just worn down from days of running you enter the Epcot grounds to thundering music. Dr.Rachel says it is the marathon score they use only for this event. It sounds like something from an adventure movie; epic and blaring. It is the perfect score for finishing the marathon. You hit Epcot, hear the music, see the crowds, and realize how close you are and it is hard to not get revitalized. It is like a switch goes off and all you want to do is start sprinting to the finish line (the one that is still over two miles away).

Immediately before the finish line, there is a choir singing. I don’t know who came up with this idea or which group sings but I don’t know the last time I was so relieved. After 5 hours and 30 minutes of running, the end was literally just around the corner. We turned the corner to see our family waiting in the stands shaking signs and cheering us on as we barreled through the finish line.

At 5 hours 34 minutes and 55 seconds I became a marathoner.

Disney Marathon 2015

Three weeks later and ‘the feels’ still get me to think about it.