Pardon the Dust

You may have noticed some changes around here. DrRachelRuns is moving! I will let you know when the move is complete, but, until then, please be patient while we rearrange.

Connecticut Race Report, August

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great race, a few triathlons, and one cycling event in Connecticut in early August.

Running Events:

50th Annual John and Jessie Kelley 11.6 Mile Road Race, New London, CT, Saturday, August 4, 2012, 9am –  Beginning at Ocean Beach Park in New London, this race is a unique distance, and a perfect opportunity for a PR. The race is free to enter – it’s even free to park at Ocean Beach if you register in advance. Mail your completed registration form along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address provided on the registration form. Your bib, which provides free parking and access to Ocean Beach, will be sent to you a week before the race. If you miss the mail in registration, race day registration is available but you may have to pay for parking.

Living Well 5k, Glastonbury, CT, Saturday, August 4, 2012, 8am – The Living Well in Glastonbury 5K is a summer road race that is hosted by the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce. It begins at Smith Middle School and winds through the flat and fast streets of the Addison Road neighborhood. Registration is $25 through August 2, $30 day of the race.

Bolton Cross Country Classic 5k

Bolton XC Classic 5k, Bolton, CT, Saturday, August 11, 2012, 9am – This fun annual race is a great family event. The race is run on the Bolton Cross Country trail behind Bolton High School. The cross country track is mostly wide, smooth grass, but trails are possible. Proceeds to benefit the Bolton H.S. Cross Country program. Age group winners receive custom, hand-painted rocks as trophies. Registration is $15 through August 6, $20 on race day. Registration for students is $10.

Rhythm Race
Rhythm Race , East Hartford, CT, Saturday, August 18, 2012, 7pm – Walk or run this flat, fast 5k course while enjoying great live music. Stick around for a post-race party with DJ’s, a laser light show, and tailgating. The whole event takes place at Rentschler Field. Registration is $25.

And…the very last Bolton Summer XC Series event is August 8, 2012, at 6:30pm at the Bolton Rose Farm.

Triathlons:

Sandy Beach Triathlon, Morris, CT, Friday, August 2, 2012, 5pm – Flat, fast, and scenic course around Bantam Lake. The event features a 1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 3 mile run. There is a special division (and lower price) for first timers and a special youth race.

Lake Terramuggus Tri Series, Marlborough, CT, Thursdays at 6:15pm (also on Facebook, here)

Winding Trails Tri Series Race 10Winding Trails Triathlon Series #10, Tuesday August 14, 2012, 6:15 pm – This weekly triathlon features a 1/4mi swim, 8k trail ride, and 5k trail run, making it a unique triathlon. Please be aware that you must ride a hybrid or off road bike on the bike portion of the race – it really is a trail race.
Bike Event:
Steeple Chase Bike Tour
SteepleChase Bike Tour, Willimantic, CT, Saturday August 18, 2012 beginning at 7:00 am – With ride routes of 10, 20, 35, 50, 62.5, and 100 miles through scenic Northeaster Connecticut, this is a popular race for cyclists of all levels. Each ride features many rest stops with free food, beverages and snacks pre and post ride for all participants. Free Steeple Chase T-shirts are provided to all individual riders.

Running Fast

I know what you’re thinking – why am I writing about running fast when I’ve already confessed to my mid/back of the pack status? I’m not writing about that kind of fast. I’m writing about the other kind of fast – the food kind. In July, Runners World featured an article on fasted running – something that I had been doing thanks to a sensitive running stomach, but didn’t know was cool. Apparently I might be not only avoiding GI disaster, but might actually be doing something right by running some runs in a fasted state.

I decided to read up on the matter. The consensus suggests that running in a fasted state – as in first thing in the morning, prior to eating, not fasting as in not eating for a day or more before running – might be worthwhile. Here’s why: Fasting increases the concentration of free fatty acids in the blood, which have a glycogen-sparing effect during exercise. This suggests that performance could be improved during fasting because the existing glycogen could be using sparingly (c.f. Dohm et al., 1986), saving precious glycogen for later on. When in a reduced glycogen state, the body is better able to utilize fat for fuel. And, fasting before running might not cause lasting harm. Research suggests that during recovery, and after eating, the insulin secreted by the body facilitates glycogen resynthesis (c.f. De Bock et al., 2005 doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2005.083170) and glycogen synthase (Tuominem et al., 1996), building glycogen stores up to their pre-exercise levels and maintaining physical performance. So that bagel I eat post-run is heading straight to glycogen storage land, not to my thighs.

Interesting stuff. It seems like there is at least some evidence that short bouts of fasting before running could help the body learn to use fuel more effectively. And it doesn’t hurt that fasted running avoids GI troubles. That’s always a plus.

Want to read more? Check out one of the following resources. There’s a great collection of research on the subject by Running on the White Line. Fasted running is a hot topic on the Runners World discussion forums (go the their main site, click on “communities”).

So, what do you think, runners? Fasting – does it work for you?

Gear Review: Janji Shorts

Anyone who knows me will know that I love anything with a bird printed on it. That’s what immediately drew me to the Janji Run for Another Women’s Run for Haiti Shorts – the cute bird print. After reading a bit more about the company online, I was sold and headed over to my local Fleet Feet Sports to get a pair. I got the Janji Run for Haiti Shorts and tested them on two recent runs.

I love these shorts! First, the whole idea of Janji running apparel is great. A portion of the proceeds of sales of all Janji apparel is donated to charity to provide critical services to people in need. The Janji Haiti shorts benefit Meds and Food for Kids’ Medika Mamba, a peanut butter medicine that provides nutrition and needed medicine to starving children. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and 25% or more of the Haitian children are malnourished, so the support of charities like Meds and Food for Kids is essential. I was pleased to know that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my shorts was doing good out there in the world.

In addition to making me feel like a good global citizen, the Janji shorts fit and feel great. They are 100% polyester, with a very lightweight feel. The Haiti shorts are Haitian flag’s blue color, and the bird print on the left leg is a Hispaniolan Trogan. The shorts have a thick drawstring, an inner key pocket, and 100% polyester inner briefs. The shorts sport a 3.5 inch inseam, a bit shorter than my usual shorts, but not scary short.

I wore these shorts on two runs. The first was a 5 mile training run and the second a 2.5 mile cross country race. Both runs were in hot, humid conditions. The lightweight feel of the shorts was perfect for the soggy weather. The shorts felt light and breezy, but not thin. Even the inner brief felt lightweight and soft. The material was quick to dry and stayed comfortable even when soaked with sweat. The waistband felt secure and the drawstring enabled me to get a good fit around my waist. The shorts stayed in place through both runs and were very comfortable to wear. After the runs, the shorts washed well, dried in a flash, and looked wrinkle-free.

The fit of the shorts is akin to the Nike Tempo shorts with the 3.5 inch inseam. They are a bit on the smallish side in the legs, true to size in the waist, and a bit bubbly in the hips. I like this fit. It works for me. I got a small and I usually wear a small (I’m a 4-6 in normal clothes). They fit well, even around my muscular thighs.

Overall, I love my new Janji shorts. They fit well, they’re lightweight, and they offer runners an opportunity to give back (even if it’s just a small amount). For sumer running, the Janji Run for Haiti shorts are a great choice.

It’s worth note that Janji also makes a Run for Kenya red short for women, a men’s version of the Haiti and Kenya shorts, and a few cute shirts.

Grade: A

Suggested Retail Price: $38 on the Janji website (check it out!)

Giveaway: Rhythm Race!

Who doesn’t love a giveaway?! You know I love anything fun, fresh, and running-related, so I’m thrilled to be able to offer a super cool giveaway for one entry to a great event. Entry details are below. To which great event can you win a paid entry, you might ask? The Rhythm Race!

New England’s hottest new running series is a run, walk, and concert. No headphones needed for this race as Connecticut’s best bands play great live, local music while you make your way around Rentschler Field.

The Rhythm Race is a concert and 5k on August 18, 2012 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT put on by Big Boy Racing. Music begins at 6pm and the race officially gets underway at 7pm. The best local bands will be playing during the race so you can walk or run the course while listening to great live, local music. The course will be flat, fast, and well-marked. The post race party will feature a DJ, laser light show, and tailgating. The event website has a complete list of bands. Registration is normally $25. If you’re on Living Social today, there’s one day remaining to get a great entry deal – $12! This will be a great race to run with a big group of friends so sign up today!

Giveaway instructions:

Two lucky winners will be randomly selected on July 26, 2012 to win free entry into this race. The winners will each receive one free entry for themselves, or, transferrable to the person of your choice (just in case you hop on that Living Social deal!).

To enter, do one of the following (you just have to do one):

1. Send me a message on Facebook that says “I want to win the Rhythm Race entry!”. I can’t ask you to like my Facebook page (silly Facebook), but if you happen to like it while you’re there, that would be cool.  🙂

2. Visit The Race Robot website, search for a local race, and leave me a comment on this post telling me which other race you’d like to run.

3. Follow me on Twitter and tweet me with “I want to win the Rhythm Race entry!”.

I will randomly select two lucky winners after 6pm on Thursday, July 26, 2012 and notify the winners via email. Yay!

Why Hire a Running Coach?

As a coach, I might be biased, but I think that everyone, even casual athletes, can benefit from running coaching. Most runners who hire coaches don’t hire them because of a lack of knowledge about running. In fact, most runners can learn much of what they need to know by exploring some of the many books, magazines, or websites devoted to running science. So, why hire a coach? Runners, walkers, and endurance athletes can benefit from a partnership with a coach for many reasons – here are some of the most common reasons for hiring a running coach.

  1. Accountability – One of the most common reasons for hiring a coach is to have someone to whom the runner/walker is accountable. Just knowing that someone was monitoring my workouts, and would know if I shaved a mile off the end of a run, was highly motivating for me. I never thought of myself as a running slacker, but knowing that someone else would see every detail of each workout made me pay closer attention to my running, and I ran harder when I might have been tempted to cheat. Accountability is also important for new runners/walkers and individuals who want to lose weight through fitness. Working with a coach to plan workouts adds a higher level of commitment to, and investment in, each workout.
  2. Fresh ideas – The best coach-athlete partnerships should be creative and dynamic. A good coach will help you build your training and will offer fresh, new ideas to invigorate a training plan that might have become stale.
  3. Confidence – Working with a coach can help even the casual athlete to build confidence. Achieving mini-goals, like target paces or distances in workouts, feels great and can help your training by building a sense of success. Good coaches can also help you avoid some of the stupid training mistakes we all make, like pushing too hard, or adding distance too quickly, by serving as another set of eyes on your training.
  4. Intensity – I love running, and if you do, too, you might have the same tendency as me – running the same pace, the same routes, and with the same running friends over and over. It’s comforting and easy to do the same workouts. Working with a coach is a great way to build intensity into workouts, pushing you out of your comfortable pace, route, or workout.

Any of the listed reasons, and an infinite number of personal reasons, can lead to the beginning of a great coach-athlete partnership. Most coaches offer a variety of services, and many coaches will offer personalized service recommendations. Coaches generally work with the athlete to develop goals for set time periods, including long and short term goals. Then, the coach and athlete work together to determine what services would be appropriate for achieving those goals. That might include training plan development, in which the coach makes a personalized training plan for the athlete, traditional coaching, in which the coach monitors the athlete’s progress, making frequent updates to the training plan, or something else. Some coaches work best with a particular type of athlete (i.e. those whose goal is an age group win at a major race, marathoners, or fitness walkers), others offer more generalized services.

Once you’ve decided to hire a coach, you need to find one.  First, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to work with an in-person coach, or a distance coach. Many coaches offer distance coaching services, including some famous ones like Greg McMillan and Hal Higdon. A great place to start is the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA.org). They have a coach finder application (you can search by state and see coaches in your area). They also have useful articles about coaching and hiring a coach. A good coach will be willing to talk with you about her services before you commit. Talk with the coach about the services she offers, and your goals. Inquire about the coach’s preferred training group (i.e. does she work with walkers? Does she do plans with run/walk intervals? Does she work with marathoners? etc.) and the ways in which she works with athletes. Learn about her style and how your work together might be. If you have questions about the coaching process, ask!

For more information about my coaching services, check out my coaching page.

I urge you to consider hiring a coach – it might be just the thing to shake a summer slump or prepare for amazing fall races.

Friday Favorite: Socks, Part 2

A few weeks ago I raved about Lululemon’s running socks in Part 1 of this two part series. I must admit that they are not my only sock love. I love (and feel the need to share this love with you) my Experia CoolMax Thin Cushion Mico Mini Crew socks by Thorlos.  Despite the obvious drawback of having a crazy long name, these Experia socks are amazing.

First, and most importantly, these socks hold tight and don’t shift around while running or cycling. The foot-hugging shape makes the socks stay put – even on long runs in the rain. There is a subtle drawing in around the arch and top of the foot that really holds the sock in place. Next, the Experia socks have a unique padding distribution. According to the manufacturer, the thin cushion padding is sculpted to and contoured to match the natural foot strike pattern. This means that the padding is soft and squishy only on the ball of the foot and bottom of the heel. I love thin socks, and the cushion in the Experia socks adds comfort without bulk. The padding is just right for me – it doesn’t add bulk to the sock, but adds noticeable cushioning. Finally, there is a reinforced area at the heel. As someone prone to blisters, I really appreciate the slightly reinforced point at the top of the heel. It adds a little bit of padding and protection just where I need it. I think it protects my heel from blisters and holds the top of the sock in place. Though my preferred Experia is the Micro Mini Crew and one would think that means a no-show sock, the rise on the sock is a bit higher. It touches my ankle bone, giving me ample protection from rocks and debris on trail runs. I have the Experia is lots of colors (check them out – they have great colors!) and I love every pair.

It’s in the Bag

As a detail-oriented runner, I can be counted on to have pretty much any running supply in my running bag. Need a bandaid? I have four sizes. Hungry? I have a veritable smorgasbord tucked into the pockets of my running bag. I often get questions about my running bag essentials – what do I pack and why? Here it is…the lowdown on what’s in the bag.

Rachel’s packed running bag.

Starting from the top, folded pink item, and clockwise:

  1. Pink Saucony Run Lux I shorts – I always have a spare pair of shorts with me. You never know when you might have an incident or might find the shorts you’re wearing unsatisfactory. In the winter I carry a spare pair of tights.
  2. Old race shirt – I keep a spare shirt in my bag for much the same reason as I keep spare shorts. You just never know. I also like to be able to switch shirts after a long, sweaty run. Having a clean shirt, even if it doesn’t match my outfit, makes me feel a bit more presentable at the bagel shop or grocery store post-run.
  3. Nike Element Half Zip – The weather, and air conditioning, in Connecticut can be unpredictable. Sometimes the bagel shop, my favorite post-long run location, is polar ice cap cold. Sweat + high A/C = freezing runner. I’m prepared with a long sleeve shirt. I love the Nike Element Half Zip so much that I reviewed it in a gear review. Check it out.
  4. Super special little flower bag, described in detail below.
  5. PowerBar Energy Bites in the oatmeal cookie flavor – I am hungry pretty much all the time and anyone who has raced with me will testify that if I don’t get food about 3 minutes after crossing the finish line of a long race I get super cranky. It’s best to have food on hand at all times. I love these little bites. They are tasty, they aren’t harmed by high heat or freezing cold, and they stay fresh for a long time. I don’t like chocolate (I know, I know) or peanut butter, so it’s hard for me to find something I like. When I do, I get a lot of it. I can be found with my PowerBar bites in my running bag. There are also some Sport Beans in there somewhere – at least two flavors.
  6. Band-Aid brand blister band aids – Best thing ever! I love these band aids. They are specially made for blisters with a cushy pad and super sticky adhesive. The bandage stays on for days of normal use, or about 10 miles in really sweaty conditions. They really seem to heal blisters faster. I love them. I keep the finger/toe variety, the regular variety, a safety pin, alcohol wipes, and a nail trimmer on hand at all times. You never know when a blister might turn ugly, or when a rock might jump in front of a toenail. I like to be prepared with my foot care staples.

In the pockets:

  1. Car key
  2. Burt’s Bees lip balm – I like the mango variety.
  3. Trusty levalbuterol inhaler
  4. Reflective items, Saucony flashing lights, reflective ankle strap, and Cyclops headlamp – You never know when it might be unexpectedly dark. It’s better to have reflective gear on hand than to need it and not have it. It’s worth note that I really love my Cyclops headlamp. The light is bright, the sharp is comfortable, and the lamp is adjustable in terms of direction, so runners can adjust the light to just the right location.

Note: The bag is the Lululemon Flow and Go Tote.

Little flower bag:

In my little flower bag, I keep most of my cosmetic items. It holds the following:

  1. Neutrogena Deep Clean Sport individual face wipes – Great for cleaning up after sweaty runs. They also work great for removing mud from the legs after trail runs.
  2. BodyGlide – Just say no to chafing!
  3. No Ad sport sunscreen SPF 30 – No Ad is my favorite sunscreen brand. It’s cheap, it lasts a long time, it smells nice, and it doesn’t make me itch like many other sunscreens.
  4. Tiny bag with bobby pins, pony tail holders, and the like
  5. Mini spray on Neosporin – You never know when you’ll need it. I routinely scratch up my legs with sticks and rocks on trail runs. For particularly nasty ones, a spritz of this makes me feel better.
  6. Immodium caplets – Self explanatory. I also have cold medicine and ibuprofen.
  7. More band aids

These are the items I consider essential enough to carry with me to every run. They’re my favorites, and the products I trust in my times of need. Consider your curiosity satisfied.

Running the Pere Marquette Trail

This week I’ve been in Michigan helping my post-surgery sister in law and caring for my baby nephew. Luckily, one of my running friends lives in the area and was willing to meet up with me for a long run mid-week on the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail. I definitely needed the accountability to get out there and get the run in. I honestly have no idea how running mamas get anything done!

The Pere Marquette Trail (Pere means “father” and the trail is named after Jacques Marquette, a French missionary) and occupies the abandoned bed of the CSX railroad in Midland and Isabella Counties. It runs from downtown Midland to the outskirts of Clare, a distance of approximately 30 miles. The Pere Marquette Trail is a barrier-free, 12-feet wide, asphalt trail and is popular among walkers, runners, bikers, and rollerbladers.  There are mile markers every half mile for much of the trail.

The Pere Marquette Trail officially begins at the Tridge in downtown Midland. The City of Midland owns a three mile portion of the trail located within the city limits and maintained by the City. The portion owned by Midland begins at the famous Tridge, runs past a little splash park, and along Main Street. At the Tridge start there is a drinking fountain (including dog drinking fountain!), bathroom facility, and plenty of parking.

The City-owned part of the Pere Marquette Trail goes past several City of Midland parks, including a skate park, baseball diamonds, open fields, and even the Dahlia Hill, a huge planting of dahlias.

The Pere Marquette Rail-Trail is lovely. I really enjoyed the smooth, asphalt surface. It was even, graded, and comfortable for running. There were barely even any cracks. The path was truly smooth – smooth enough that my friend and I saw an elderly couple with walkers using the trail. It was wide enough for multiple people to pass comfortably, including families on bikes, runners, and walkers. The trail, like much of this part of Michigan, is totally flat. Most of the Midland part of the trail is shaded and bordered by wild flowers, shrubs, and trees. The trail even runs past the river in some places, creating a nice breeze off the water.

My running friend and I had a really nice run together and I enjoyed the trail. It was hot, hot, hot, but we trotted along for several miles. It was a good run, with even better company. Now I’ve caught the cold that the baby had, so I haven’t been back to the Pere Marquette Trail, but I hope to visit it again sometime.

If you’re in the mid-Michigan area, check out the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail.

Connecticut Race Report, July

In this Connecticut Race Report (also featured on Pace Per Mile), I’m highlighting some great races and a few triathlons in Connecticut in July.

Running Events:

Rentschler Airfield 5k, Manchester, CT, Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 6pm – Beginning and ending at the Rentschler Field airways (park in the Cabela’s parking lot), this FLAT and fast 5k winds through the historic runways. The event benefits the Brian A. Aselton Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to children of police officers and local criminal justice students. Age group awards will be presented and post race food and drinks will be provided by  Cabela’s and The Olde Burnside Brewing Company. Registration is $30 for adults with discounts for college students, teens, and children. Race day registration is available. FYI – this is a Hartford Marathon Foundation race.

Citizens Bank 5K Summer Fun Run

Citizens Bank 5k Summer Fun Run, Middletown, CT, Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 5pm – This is a family-oriented festival that includes a 5k road race. The festival features live music, Oddfellows street performers, ARTFARM’s Circus for a Fragile Planet, moonwalk, giant slide and extended hours at Kidcity Children’s Museum. Throughout the event, live music and dancing entertainment will be provided.

Scottish Rite Freemasons 5K
Scottish Rite Freemasons 5k, Newington, CT, Saturday July 28, 2012 at 9:00 am – This 5k features a certified, scenic course, which, according to the organizers is relatively flat with some slight to moderate hills (which sounds like rolling to me). Trophies will be given out to the 1st and 2nd place runners in each division plus overall male and female trophies. T-shirts are provided to the first 200 registrants. Professional timing will be provided by Platsys. Registration is $15 in advance and $20 the day of the race.
Soapstone Assault
Soapstone Assault (5.5 miles), Ellington, CT, Sunday July 29, 2012 at 9:00 am – This trail races takes place in the Shenipsit State Forest and is one of the annual races put on by the Shenipsit Striders running club. The race gets its name because it “assaults” Soapstone Mountain six times on six different trails with the final ascent going up “Killer Hill” to the top of the fire tower on the summit. If you love trail running (note: this is a true trail race and there will be rocks, sticks, roots, and the like on the trail) and are up for a challenge, this is a great race. It’s a no-frills trail race, but post race snacks are provided.

Bolton Summer Cross Country Series #3

Remember, Wednesdays through August 18, the Bolton XC Series family race event is happening at the Bolton Heritage Farm (Rose Farm). Complete information is here, and an interview with the race director is here.

Triathlons:

There are also a few great local triathlons coming up. If you’re a triathlete, or want to try one, consider one of these:

Lake Terramuggus Tri Series, Marlborough, CT, Thursdays at 6:15pm (also on Facebook, here)

Amica 19.7 Triathlon Ocean Beach, New London, CT, Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 7am

Ellington Sprint Triathlon, Ellington, CT, Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 8am

Other Events:

Looking for races in a different area, or more options in Connecticut? Try The Race Robot, a race listing site for runners by runners.