Product Review – Bob’s Red Mill Protein

This summer, I’m ramping up my strength training. This is the summer that I will get stronger, and build a more muscular body. To do that, I’ve been focusing on my nutrition, and on my protein intake. I’ve found that I consistently struggle to get the grams of protein recommended for effective muscle building through diet alone. Enter protein powder. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my protein powder. I have at least four different flavors in my cabinet at any given time and am always trying new recipes to use my favorite supplements. I drink a protein shake daily to help keep my nutrition balanced. By using protein powders in cooking, and drinking a shake daily, I can make sure I’m balancing my macros even when my schedule gets hectic.

When the nice people at Bob’s Red Mill offered my the opportunity to participate in their #SummerStrong challenge, and to try their protein powder options, I jumped at the opportunity. I already use and love lots of Bob’s Red Mill products, including their flours, cereals, and bread mixes. I’ve loved every product I’ve tried, so I was sure their nutritional boosters would be great.

I got an amazing protein pack in the mail!

Bob's pack

I had a great new recipe for healthy muffins, so I decided I would start my #SummerStrong challenge with summery, fruity muffins. They turned out great!

Muffins

Here’s the recipe (thanks to my fitness coach Bryan for the base recipe!):

Raspberry Banana Oat Muffins

2 cups old fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

2 mashed bananas

2 eggs

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup raspberries

1 scoop Bob’s Red Mill unflavored protein powder

Preheat oven to 425. Mix ingredients together and scoop into muffin tin (fill to the top). Cook at 425 for 5 minutes, then decrease the temperature and cook at 375 for another 12 minutes. Enjoy!

Overall, I was pleased with the protein power. It mixed right in, and I was able to increase the protein in the muffins without adding unwanted ingredients.

Want to know more about the protein powder I used? Here are some details:

Get your protein, fiber and probiotics on the go with Bob’s Red Mill Protein & Fiber Nutritional Booster! This unique blend is made from pea protein powder, chicory root fiber, psyllium husk powder, chia seeds and beneficial probiotics. It is unflavored, unsweetened, gluten free, vegan, a good source of omega-3, excellent source of iron, and high in protein and fiber.

For a quick and easy protein shake, add 1/3 cup Protein & Fiber Powder to 8 oz juice or milk, blend, and enjoy.

To make a smoothie, blend 1/3 cup Protein & Fiber Powder with 1 cup fruit, 1 cup water or milk and a handful of ice.

Recipes for these delicious drinks are included on the product package: Sunshine Daydream Smoothie, Green Machine Smoothie, PB&J Smoothie, Berry Peachy Smoothie, and Doctor’s Orders Shake.

  • 20g plant-based protein per serving
  • 12g fiber per serving (9 g soluble fiber)
  • Beneficial Bacillus coagulans probiotics
  • Good source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • 35% RDA iron per serving
  • Gluten free
  • Vegan
  • No soy ingredients
  • No dairy ingredients
  • Unsweetened
  • Unflavored

Race Review: Peaks Island 5 Miler

Last weekend, a running friend and I went on a great running getaway! We built a little escape around the Peaks Island 5 Mile Race, a race held on a tiny island in Maine. We planned to drive up to Maine, stay near Freeport, then run the race and enjoy some time on the island. Our planning hit a little block, though, when it came to the race. There was precious little information available about the race and the logistics of the race. Luckily, we are an easygoing pair, so we were able to adapt. This review is going to be some review, and some information sharing. I hope that sharing my experience will help others who might encounter similar confusion.

First, you’ll need to take a ferry over from Portland for the race. There is parking right at the Casco Bay Lines terminal, but it’s significantly more expensive than local parking lots. Find a parking lot that offers all day parking for a flat rate. We did, and walked two short blocks to the terminal.

Cacso Bay Lines

Runners do need to pay for passage on the ferry, less than $10 each (and getting off the island is free). You’ll get tickets at the terminal, then wait in a little lobby for the ferry. We took the 8:30am ferry, a special ferry for the race. It would have been fine to take a later ferry, but we wanted some time to look around. The race starts at 10:30, so a 9:15 ferry would be fine. The ferry ride was lovely, breezy and full of gorgeous views. It lasted about 20 minutes.

Casco Ferry

We got to the race location, a local Lions Club. The Lions Club has a large, grassy area, and a small building with bathrooms and a stage. Packed pick up was efficient, with three staff to assist about 10 runners. We easily got our numbers and then explored. There is no gear check, but people bring their stuff and leave it on the Lions Club property. We saw people with coolers, blankets, and many belongings. No one seemed to mind leaving their things, so we did, too. The picnic table spots went early, but many people sat on the grass or brought their own chairs. It’s worth note that the website says no dogs are allowed, but we saw many people with dogs and dogs are welcomed on the ferry.

Peaks Island Lions Club

A short kids’ race immediately preceded the 5 mile race, so we watched the kid and warmed up. We took in the gorgeous bay views and generally had a great time before our 5 mile race started.

Casco Bay View

The Peaks Island 5 Mile Race course runs around the island itself. It includes lovely sea views, a section through a woodsy area, and several miles through neighborhoods on the island. The course map wasn’t available before the race, save for this little picture at the Lions Club, so the whole race was an adventure. I didn’t know what to expect, but was treated to classic Maine.

Peaks Island Road Race Course Map

Peaks Island Road Race Course Map

The organizers, the Maine Track Club, say that the race is flat, but it’s really more New England flat with just a bit of variation.

Peaks Island 5 Mile Race Elevation

Peaks Island 5 Mile Race Elevation

Overall, the course was nicely laid out, well marked, and mostly free of traffic despite the roads being open. The finish line was no-fuss, with just a small table and timing mats. Immediately after the race, finishers were treated to a cook out (extra charge, purchased ahead of time). Runners made advance purchase of tickets to the cook out and were able to enjoy lobster, chicken, or vegetarian meal options. We got the chicken, which was par-boiled, then soaked in BBQ sauce and grilled.

IMG_0024 IMG_0025 IMG_0026

Awards were given out to top finishers. It was a speedy race, with lots of fast times. Following the race, my friend and I toured the island and enjoyed the small stretch of sandy beach for beach glass hunting.

Peaks Island

Overall, we had a lovely time at the Peaks Island 5 Mile Race. The communication before the event was lacking and the website was nonexistent, but the race itself was well done, well organized, and a great family event. I would recommend this race as a fun destination race for a weekend getaway. We will be back!

To Be a Running Coach

I’ve been a RRCA certified running coach for several years. I truly enjoy coaching and helping runners achieve their goals. If you’ve been thinking about hiring a running coach, do it! Coaches can help athletes of all levels achieve goals, stay accountable to a training program, and inspire you to believe in yourself. Still need convincing? Check out my post on reasons to hire a running coach.

This weekend, as part of another role in my life, I sat in on a running coaching class. Doing so as a certified, and experienced coach, has been an interesting experience. I have a few observations.

 

First, there are many types of coaches. I think many people assume that a running coach is a running coach. One of the keys to a positive coaching experience is having a strong goodness of fit between you and your coach. This refers not just to personality, but to training philosophy and beliefs about running. Most of the coaches-in-training talked about their running philosophy – everything from how much cross training to include to how long the optimal long run before a marathon should be. There was some overlap, of course, but many divergent ideas were presented about every idea. Some coaches-in-training planned to forbid cross training other than pool running. Others wanted trainees to run 18/20/22/24 as a marathon build up. Neither of these sounded like great ideas to me, but they seemed to find it workable. Some individuals had strong reactions to ideas presented and were willing to fight over the supremacy of their ideas. Others were open to learning and were flexible in their ideas. If you’re looking for a coach, find one who believes what you believe, or whose ideas sound feasible and reasonable to you. Don’t be afraid to interview coaches to find one whose ideas are compatible with yours? Not sure what the best training strategy is ok? That’s ok! Find a coach who seems interested in you, and who seems open to your ideas. They’ll lead you when it comes to running strategy, but be sure that you and your coach are compatible. Strong goodness of fit will lead to happier training and better results for you from a coach who understands YOU.

Hearing the coaches-in-training talk about developing training plans based on their strongly held beliefs about what works *for them* was a surprise. I’ve always been a bit of a science nerd. I read a great deal of literature about the science of running and have let the science dictate my own training. I usually try training plans myself before asking a client to run that plan. I study the literature and read the books – I believe the science and value the science over my own experience.

Finally, it’s clear to me that people love running. The coaches-in-training were passionate, engaged, and vocal about their belief systems. It was wonderful to be in the company of people who love running as much as I do.

Summer running

On The Run: Des Moines

I’m on the run again, this time to Des Moines for the RRCA National Convention. I got in late last night, but was sure to get up early for a run along the Des Moines River with some running friends. I love running around a new city. There is simply no better way to see a new place than on foot. My group met early and ran toward the Des Moines River, where there is a lovely trail system. The paved trail goes along the river a ways, past a ballpark, over a very cool pedestrian bridge, and to a Japanese garden.

Spring in Des Moines

The flowers were in bloom and the weather was perfect for running. It was gorgeous! Later, we will take in some of the Drake Relays and I will run in the Hy-Vee Races. I can’t wait for a weekend totally dedicated to running!

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.

Here, There, and Everywhere

Sitting in front of my computer, thinking about what I should write for this post (maybe one of the 10 ideas I have written down…), I started to look through my recent pictures. What I realized is that I’ve been running here, there, and everywhere.

I recently wrote about my trips to pace races, but that isn’t the only travel I’ve been doing lately. A few weeks ago, I headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for work. The highlight of Milwaukee is the food. I absolutely love German food, and I made sure to get a lot.

Bratwurst

Running in Milwaukee is great. The streets have wide sidewalks with well-timed walk lights. The drivers are Midwest nice and allowed me to run across the street pretty much whenever I wanted. The best part about running in Milwaukee is the great scenery at the Lakeshore State Park. Lakeshore State Park is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and features miles of paved trails and amazing city and water views. I made sure to get there for my morning run and had a great time running along the waterfront for miles and miles. I saw fish jumping, bait fish schools moving, and lots of fishermen. It was the perfect lakefront run.

Just last weekend I was in Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. I had never run the Marine Corps Marathon before and was thrilled to finally get my chance. I ran as part of Team BEEF, a team of runners who use lean beef as part of their fueling strategy for a protein-rich training diet.

Team BEEF

I had been looking forward to Marine Corps for some time, and flew in early Saturday morning for the Sunday race. Saturday was a day for packet pick up and touring. My crew got to packet pick up bright and early and were greeted by a really, really long line outside of the Armory. After waiting about 45 minutes, we made our way into the pickup area, which was well organized and easy to navigate. I got my bib, did some shopping, and met up with friends. After the packet pick up, my crew and I headed out for sightseeing. I couldn’t be in DC and not enjoy the sights.

DC

After a delicious dinner, it was early to bed for this marathon girl. I got up Sunday morning ready to run. I donned my Team BEEF gear and made my way to the race start. There was more waiting in line for a bus, and then even more waiting in line for security checks to get into the runners’ area. I hadn’t really anticipated the amount of waiting in line, or walking. The race start is more than a mile from the bus drop off and most of that time was spent barely moving in a crowd. By the time we got to the line to get into the secure area, the lines were crazy. We stood in one spot for over 30 minutes. Suddenly, an hour into our wait, the line started moving. They had abandoned the checks to get everyone to the start (still a half mile away) and we all rushed in, dropped bags, and hustled to the start minutes before the race start.

The start of the race is really special, with paratroopers and flyovers from military members. It was really exciting.

Fly over

The race started on time and within minutes I was on the course. The course was more crowded than I expected, but everyone was running about my pace and seemed to be having a good time. It was organized chaos. There were plenty of spectators with great signs, loud cheers, and lots of high fives. I ran with a friend and we chatted easily for most of the race. I loved seeing all the spectators and the huge crowd support in every part of the course. The course itself is beautiful, winding through some of DC’s most important landmarks and best neighborhoods.

Around mile 20, I started to have some cramping in my left hamstring. The whole thing was tight and randomly hit me with charlie-horse type pain. I slowed to a walk, stretched, and hobbled along through the final miles of the course. Even thought I had a tough race, I loved the Marine Corps Marathon. The course is beautiful, the crowd support is amazing, and the scenery can’t be beat.

MCM finish

Big City, Big Running

This weekend I headed to New York City for some training (professional type training not running type training). Despite a rigorous schedule that had me indoors 9am to 10pm, I managed to get in a few workouts and a lot of city walking.

First, walking around the city is a workout in itself. Getting from one end of the city to the other takes a long time and inevitably involves lots of walking. And stairs. Stairs into the subway. Stairs from train to train. Stairs out of the subway. Then walking blocks and blocks. The city has everything you could ever want. Provided you want to walk there. Being in the city also skews one’s impression about how far is a long walk. At home, I wouldn’t walk two miles to get to a better sandwich shop if there were a sandwich shop right in front of me. Not in New York City. 20 blocks? We can walk that. 20 blocks to get to the diner we like better. Sure. I definitely got in my walking.

I also got in a great deal of NYC-style “trail running”. Part of what makes trail running great for injury prevention is the side to side motion and the unpredictable nature of the terrain. Walking in New York is great for this. Uneven sidewalks. Trash. Puddles. Scaffolding. Tourists (now, I know, technically, I’m a tourist, but I think there’s a difference between being not from the city and being a tourist). I walked around the city efficiently and definitely got a good workout for all those stabilizing muscles.

My first morning in the city, I went for a proper run. Despite high humidity, the threat of rain, and some serious pollution problems, I got out for a great run. I zipped down a few streets and hopped on the Greenway bike path near Lincoln Tunnel. The bike path is paved, smooth, and popular. Loads of runners and cyclists were zipping down the path. There were helpful crosswalk signs at many intersections and a few areas where plants had been planted. Of course, there was the usual New York assortment of trash, mysterious puddles, and homeless men. Nothing out of the ordinary. Overall, the path was a quite nice place to run. It was certainly much smoother and nicer than running on streets so I got in my miles much more efficiently.

Central Park Reservoir

Right before I left the city, I got in a great run in Central Park. I love Central Park and running through the park on a perfect day was wonderful! All in all, it was a great weekend in a fun city.

Troy Conquers 26.2: BaNa Review

Dr. Rachel’s Note: My awesome brother, Troy, is training for this first marathon. You can read about how it started here. As part of his training, he’s trying new fueling methods and learning more about nutrition, hydration, and running. Recently, we were approached by BaNa rehydration with an opportunity to try their new product. Being the helpful sister I am, I offered the opportunity to Troy. Here’s his take:

BANa  – Review

This is not a new slang term for the delicious, ubiquitous post race treat of a partially green Banana (gre-nana?) but a sports drink I was voluntold into trying.  Sample bottles and pamphlet arrived at my door in the most unassuming of brown boxes.  BANa – ‘an IV in a bottle’ – so claims the pamphlet.  The drink is advertised for runners, outdoor workers, and those suffering from hangovers.  With a composition falling between Pediasure and a saline IV bag, the drink promises to replenish and refresh.  I am an engineer by trade and quickly devised an experimental plan to test this new concoction out.

BaNa

Test 1 – First Impressions

Rather than test BANa out on a long run and risk GI issues, I tried it at home and not even after a particularly grueling day.  The first sip caught me off-guard.  I had been expecting a tart and artificial berry flavor but instead was greeted by a mild berry taste.  The berry flavor worked but along with it came a strange sweet and salty mixture best described as very light syrup.  I struggled a bit and felt like I needed a water rinse when I finished the bottle.  I felt hydrated and continued to feel that way for a much longer time than I thought normal.  With no GI distress, the first bottle seemed to be ok … just a little syrupy. So, after this initial test, I had reservations about being able drink this without a water rinse (could be problematic during a workout) but was pleasantly surprised by the tasty berry flavor.

Test 2 – The Short Run

Basics out of the way, it was time to test BANa out during a workout.  My Tuesday training involves running 3 miles and doing 4 rounds of calisthenics for about an hour long workout and I thought this would be a great first test.  I wanted to try BANa in what I knew would be a tougher situation where I would really need to rehydrate.  I can’t explain what changed and I am not sure how or why it did, but my opinion of BANa drastically improved during that workout.  It was fantastic.  That sweet/salty syrup taste was gone completely and instead it was replaced by that pleasant berry flavor combined with fast hydration.  The consistency was not an issue at all.  Maybe it was my body craving the simple carbs and salt, but the BANa completely hit the spot.  One 12 oz bottle got me through the entire workout and I still felt hydrated when it was over.

Test 3 – The Long Run

I headed out for a 6 mile training run with a bottle of BANa and expectations of good things again.  As with the short run, BANa hit the spot.  The flavor, the mouth-feel, the hydration – all were perfect during the run.  Small sips were all that I needed to feel hydrated and keep me going through my workout.  I finished my run feeling hydrated and with BANa to spare.  Most importantly, no GI disturbance.  Additionally, when finished I wasn’t gulping down water which helped to avoid that “sloshing” feeling that everyone is so familiar with.

BaNa review

Overall

I am mixed here.  I don’t think BANa is something I would grab as a run recovery or hangover recovery when lazing about the house. The taste and texture just didn’t come across right to me when I am not in the middle of intense physical activity.  However, on a run or a workout, this stuff just hit the spot and was great.  I can’t explain it, but it was like a whole different experience while on a workout.  It was refreshing, mild on the stomach, and quenched my thirst completely.  Maybe next time I race, I will take a BANa water with me to keep from eating that gre-nana on the other side of the finish line.

Find them on social media at @BaNaRehydrates

Note: Free products were provided to make this review possible. No other compensation was provided and the opinions are our own.

Race Review: Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon

This spring I had the great opportunity to go to the RRCA national convention. In addition to the useful seminars and fun social runs, there was a silent auction benefitting the RRCA programs. I enjoy silent auctions, so I was happy to participate. A new girlfriend and I teamed up to bid on and monitor a few key items. There were a couple marathon entries I had my eye on and was actively bidding on and so did my friend. Right next to one of my friend’s bidding projects was an entry to the Shipyard Old Port half marathon. No one had bid on it. A half marathon in coastal Maine in the end of July didn’t seem to prompt much in terms of vigorous bidding. The race wasn’t too far from me, and I didn’t have anything on the calendar. I bid on the race. Why not, I thought. Thirty minutes later when the bidding ended, I had won two entries into the Shipyard Old Port half marathon.

A few months later, the Shipyard Old Port half rolled around. The friend who had wanted to join me couldn’t make it, so my husband agreed to ride up to Maine with me for a little road trip. We left at a ridiculously early time to head up to the race. The drive was easy and went by quickly. We got to the port area and were able to easily find a parking spot thanks to the parking maps that were emailed in advance of the race. The maps were clearly marked and made it super easy to navigate to a free parking lot and from the lot to the race staging area.

Race morning packet pick up was smooth and easy. I walked right up -no waiting – and got my gear. I love the race shirt. It’s a pale blue with a lovely multicolor logo design. It even fit! I knew it was one that I would wear often. Thanks to my winning entry in the auction, I got a commemorative hat and a mug. Both had the fun logo and were nicely done. I use my mug often and wore my hat this morning on my run. The hat is a nice sweat wicking hat in a comfortable fabric. The gear was nice looking and useful.

About 45 minutes before race start, I headed for the corals and the porta potties. The lines for the bathroom were epic. I cannot recall a time when I saw longer lines for the bathroom. Worse, the lines snaked out into the driving lane of one of the biggest free parking areas. Cars were dodging runners, runners were in the traffic lane. Volunteers had lost control. There were simply too few porta potties for the number of people. Probably about half as many as were required. The lines were just ridiculous. I waited 42 minutes. Then I race around the bend, down a long hallway, and into the corral. Thank goodness I wasn’t really racing – I barely made it to the corral by the time the race was to start.

Shipyard start

The start got off without a hitch, with runners racing down a huge cement dock and onto the Main Street. Inexplicably, the course went down the middle of the street, kith backed up traffic on either side. The Main Street looked nice (or at least what I could see over the tops of the cars). Very shortly, the course headed into some lovely neighborhoods. The homes were tidy and the gardens attractive. The course was fairly free of traffic and I enjoyed running in the shady neighborhood streets. It was awfully crowded, so I wound my way past other runners and through the masses.

After the first few miles in the neighborhoods, we went back down the Main Street and along the water. As we passed the fish packaging plant for the second time (horrifying and what I once thought was the worst possible smell ever), things started to unravel. I had skipped a too-crowded first water stop and the second water stop didn’t have any water poured, so I passed that, too. By the time I got to the fish plant water stop for the second time, they had no water prepared. Instead, they had a pile of cups and a hose. Runners were told to grab a cup and a volunteer aimed a hose at us. I got soaked and got about three sips of water in my cup. Undeterred, I headed along down the Main Street and up a giant hill. The top of the hill treated runners to an amazing view of the water.

The water and park views were lovely and featured Classic Maine views of boats and rocks and quiet harbors. Following the hill summit, runners headed into a park. In the park, the water stops began to be a disaster. The first water stop in the park was out of water. The second water stop had volunteers bailing water (without gloves) from big coolers. The first cup I took off the table had a dead spider in it. Literally a dead daddy long legs. I dumped it and the second cup had grass in it. Unwilling to waste more time, I picked the grass out and drank the water that was visibly dirty.

Runners then went further into the park, around a tidal marsh. The marsh was not the best. It wasn’t scenic since it was low tide and the crushed shell/sand path was extremely dusty and very hot. Dust billowed up and swirled around. The sun shone down and made the sand so hot I could feel it through my shoes. The next water stop I came to had volunteers bailing water without gloves. Again, the water was dirty. The next water stop was out of water. The next was passing out dirty water. Having no gloves on and giving out water that was *visibly dirty* was totally unacceptable.

I trudged around the marsh on the path for what seemed like ages. Finally, mercifully, it ended and we exited on to a paved bike path. For a few moments, I was so happy. We had left the marsh! Sadly, eye headed past a water treatment plant. Water treatment plants aren’t so bad. Except for when they’re churning the beds. This day, the huge water treatment plant was churning. The smell was indescribable. Truly horrific. I plugged my nose and hustled by. I passed four people vomiting. Everyone was gagging. I’ve never smelled anything so horrible in all my days. Mercifully, I passed the treatment plant and was treated to the best thing ever – a water stop. With clean, cool water. It even had music and misters. It was like an oasis. A spot of beauty. I wanted to just stop there and stay in the cool oasis, drinking my water.

I overcame the urge to stop in the oasis and continued on along the bike path. It was a nice path, smooth and level. Finally, I rounded the bend into the finish area. There were cheering spectators, race announcers, and finishers coming in. I crossed the finish line and was delighted to have finished. It was hot, I was dirty, and I couldn’t wait to find some food and water. The only problem was that I couldn’t find water. A volunteer handed me a tiny six ounce cup. I asked for another and was told that I couldn’t have one because the finish line was running out of water. The finish line had long ago run out of water bottles and was short on water. I knew I had water in the car, so I pressed on. The finish line area was total chaos. There was no organized finish chute and runners lined up in individual lines at various tables for food. I selected a table randomly – I couldn’t see what it was because the line was so long. It was a line for chocolate. I don’t eat chocolate. Next line was for pizza. I lined up, waited several minutes, and was handed one slice of pizza. I had noticed while waiting that every male runner was handed two slices of pizza. Every female I saw was handed one slice of pizza. I got my one slice and was nearly trampled by people in line. I didn’t have the patience to wait in more totally chaotic lines, so I gave up.

Shipyard chaos

My husband and I hopped into the car and went to the first gas statio no we saw for some water. Finally. The ocean views at a nearby scenic spot didn’t hurt.

Shipyard after race

All in all, I was very disappointed by the Shipyard Old Port half marathon. The gear was great. The course was interesting. But to me, there is no excuse for the lack of organization at the water stops and finish line. It is completely unacceptable to have volunteers bailing with bare hands. It is completely unacceptable to have visibly dirty water handed to runners. It is unacceptable to run out of water at the finish line. In talking to other runners, I learned that this is a persistent problem with this race. Other runners were pretty vocal on Facebook about a problem with a miscue on the course or the disgusting smell at the water treatment plant. Still others complained about the finish area chaos. I will forgive a lot of things as a runner, but not a dead spider in my water. Pass on this race.

A Storm’s Brewing

Asthma sucks. If you’ve been reading you’ll know that I have asthma. Getting my lungs to cooperate with me is an ongoing battle that results in some pretty bad runs. But, there are good days and ok days and lots of other days in between the bad ones.

Sometimes, usually in the summer, I can just feel the asthma attack coming. I wake in the morning with a little hitch in my breathing. “Tight” is what my doctor calls it. Things just aren’t working right and I know that sooner or later it’s going to result in an episode of some pretty bad breathing. It happened this week on race day. I regularly run in a local cross country race. It’s a great race with lots of friends and a fun course. Unfortunately, it’s also plagued by some pretty wicked weather. On this particular race day I woke up breathing slowly. My lungs just weren’t as motivated for the day as I was. I took my usual morning meds and things didn’t improve. All day, I knew an asthma attack was coming. Maybe not a proper, full-on attack, but I could feel something building.

I had a decision to make. In the past, I’ve had good luck triggering a mild first attack to get it out of my system and then running later. Usually, I can get a little wheezy, recover, and then run well. I’ve never had a two-attack day. It’s a strategy I used a lot to perform well in races when I was younger. I didn’t really care about the outcome of this race. I wasn’t planning to race race – just have a good time with friends. And there I was, ready to trigger an attack to run well in a casual, local race. The whole thing suddenly seemed silly. If I didn’t care about my time and was only running for fun, why would I need to run well – and why would I trigger an asthma attack to do it? I decided to take my chances in the race.

While I was running, feeling worse and worse, I had the sudden realization that I do the little trigger an attack routine mostly so other people don’t see it and worry. Sometimes I really care how I do and I want to run well. Mostly, I want to avoid the concern/pity I get when I am clearly struggling to breathe. Any time I have an episode of bad breathing, people engage in the concern/pity questions – even people who’ve seen me had multiple attacks and who know I have asthma. Did you bring your inhaler? (No – I never do. Ever. Never have.) Are you going to be ok? (Yes. Always am.) Did I remember to pre-treat? (Of course) And, the worst one – Bad day for you, huh? Sigh. I get it. Asthma is distressing. But it is what it is. Sure, sometimes I imagine what it might be like to just run, with no 30-minute nebulizer routine, but that isn’t going to happen. Mostly, I just want people to accept my poor breathing with minimum distress – the same as we all accept that one really sweaty guy in every group run. It’s just his way. I have a little trouble breathing sometimes. That’s my way. It always passes. I appreciate the concern, but I’m really ok. Really.