Friday, February 8, 2013

Winners of Vi Endurance and a winter trail run

First:  the winners of the Vi Endurance gels:  RunKatie, Susette, and Jeff Gallup!  E-mail me your addresses and I'll get the info to Vi Endurance!  Congrats!  You will love them.  

I got to go to Salt Lake and run with my brother last Saturday.  We ran 12.5 miles with about 8 miles of trail.  The thing I love about my trails (little traffic) means that they're unrunable during the winter.  However, in Salt Lake, the trails get used a lot and are packed down well so it makes running the trails great.  It was a good test for my ankle which did well.  We did have a time where we lost track of the trail for a bit and tracked through some knee deep snow but otherwise it was great!  And even trudging through the snow was fun.  I had so much fun with my brother and it felt good to have a great run!

His wife made us banana nut pancakes afterwards with strawberries and eggs.  That may have been one of my highlights of the day!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vi Endurance Gel Giveaway

Let's talk about gels, shall we?

I am really picky about how I fuel while running.  I've just had too many bad experiences with nausea, throwing up, and worse.  My stomach doesn't do well with most gels.  I've tried almost every kind out there and found one brand that I can stomach.  Well... now I can say there are two kinds.  

I was lucky enough to be able to try Vi Endurance gels the past couple of months.  And while I've tried them on a few long runs, I've also tested them on an empty stomach before an intense spin class, and on a couple of 3-4 hour hikes, and a couple of snow shoeing treks.  

My biggest complaint with previous gels has been 3 fold.  First: the taste.  Some taste like frosting.  Some flavors just taste fake.  You know the ones.  Mostly vanilla.  Second: the texture.  Some are super runny, which I favor over the super thick ones: again akin to frosting.  Or worse, gritty.  And third: the digestibility.  I vividly remember after my first marathon being completely sick to my stomach and spending the rest of the day in the bathroom.  Yes, the feeling of accomplishment was all worth it.  But I knew I didn't want to feel that way again.  I experimented with several gels quickly figuring out that I have a sensitive stomach and just can't do most gels.  I even ran a marathon with no gels.  Yeah, it's no wonder my first marathon was my fastest to date.  So if a gel is good on my stomach, I will gladly sacrifice taste and texture.  Fortunately, with Vi Endurance gels I don't have to compromise on any of the afore mentioned criteria.

Vi Endurance gels are made by endurance athletes.  Their "lab coats are tech shirts and running shorts."  Each of these three friends are ultra runners.  They have tested them in harsh conditions.  And every ingredient serves a purpose.
My favorite of all the features of these gels is the taste.  They are just good. The chocolate flavor is my favorite.  It tastes like an expensive dark chocolate.  Not like overly sweetened frosting.  It tastes gourmet.  Every flavor does.  The vanilla tastes like real.  Like vanilla bean.  Think ice cream flavors.  It's the difference between plain grocery store brand vanilla ice cream and vanilla bean ice cream.  And the peach cobbler.  Oh man.  I live in Peach City USA. We have a celebration each fall around peaches.  And peach cobbler is a favorite dessert of mine.  This gel is extraordinarily close to the real thing.  Flavor is a big deal to me.
The viscosity is perfect.  Not too runny so that it runs down your hand as you open it.  And not too thick so that you're gagging it down.  It's just right.  Yes, I sound like Goldilocks, I know.  But it's true.  It's just right and it's because of the ingredients.  They use coconut oil.  And it's not just for the viscosity, but it is a fat that is used by the body as a carbohydrate.  It goes straight to the liver and doesn't require energy to be absorbed.  It also helps with the brain fog issue late in the game where simple math and general thinking becomes difficult.
And lastly:  the digestibility.  This is the main reason I was willing to try these gels.  Every single ingredient is made to be easily digested.  These people know firsthand why that is so important.  Go here to read more about the science behind this.  One thing I want to note is that each gel has caffeine.  I am generally against using a caffeinated gel each time I fuel, but they state that the amount of caffeine in each gel is used purely as a digestive aid.  If you want the caffeine high you need to get it from some other source.  I also like how they point out that caffeine can cause frequent urination, diarrhea, and loss of essential electrolytes.  These guys really know their stuff.

These gels make my tummy happy.
I've shared my gels with my brother and a few friends.  Everyone has said the same thing.  They love them.  

Now on to the best part.  Vi Endurance is going to give you the chance to win a case of these gels for yourself.  That's 24 gels.  And 3 of you get to win one.

Leave a comment here and then visit their Facebook page and like it.  Then come back and leave another comment for doing that.  Post the contest on your blog or Facebook page and leave another comment.  3 possible entries!

Good luck!  And for everyone else, I'll have a coupon code for 20% off next week.  Contest goes through Wednesday.  Spread the word!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saying good bye

 There are moments when your life changes without notice and you are forever changed.  There are times when your life is going to change, you have the foresight, and you can plan for these changes.  Such has it been with the events in my life as of late.  My life has been forever changed.  I knew it was going to happen and as such took time to prepare for it.  But as I found last Wednesday, you can never fully prepare yourself for major changes in life.  

We got family pictures taken.  I was pleased with how they turned out and can't believe how grown up our family looks.

My son, Justin and I took several hikes together.  I will treasure those times for the rest of my life.  We talked and hiked and struggled and saw sights.  Golden times really.

He shared with me places that are special to him.

This old sheepherder's cabin at the top of a mountain. We saw a moose on that trip and several bald eagles.

 His dad and I took several hikes in the mountain behind our house at least once a week.

He took me to a couple of mines.  One hike in particular was extremely steep.  It was the hardest hike I have ever been on in my life.  It started to snow right as we got down.  We were lucky to go on that day because the snow hasn't stopped since then and we wouldn't have had another day to go.

These are the remains of the old hotel that used to be up by the mine at the turn of the 1900's.

I really dislike small dark places and so it was a miracle that I went in as far as we did.  I humored him though and we were in there for about 10 minutes.

And then last Wednesday we took him to the Missionary Training Center.  It was a very emotional day.  The car ride there was very quiet.  I kept thinking back to the day I brought him home from the hospital.  I thought about the days of him learning to talk and walk and him going to school.  He has grown into such a fine young man.  And so it is with very mixed emotions that I am proud of the man he has grown into.  I have wanted this for him his whole life.  It's what we do as parents. We raise them to be independent and successful.  And yet the sadness that I experienced as he walked away was so consuming.  I was not prepared for it.  

Running has provided me with a way to run off some of the anxiety.  Running alone has been good for me to think clearly and running with my closest friends has allowed me time to sort out my emotions and be able to express them.  How grateful I am for running and the sense of relief that it has brought to me.

Later this week:  a giveaway that you won't want to miss!

Monday, December 10, 2012

What I've learned while being injured

Tis better to have run and gotten injured than to have never run at all.

When people ask about my most recent accidental injury, my ankle sprain, and I tell them that I did it on a trail, most people say that's why they are afraid to run trails.  There have been a few days during this period of not running that I have cursed that leaf covered, rock and root ridden trail.  But mostly, I've been o.k.  When I think back on this year and the places I've been, the views I've seen, and the people I've been with, I can't help but just be grateful to have been there and experienced it all.  I've been to the tops of mountains, gained perspective, and strengthened relationships through it all.  I wouldn't trade that for the 4 weeks that I couldn't run.  It's been an amazing year.

During those 4 weeks I snowshoed with my husband going further up the canyon than we did last year.  It was absolutely gorgeous and just what I needed that day.

I've hiked with my son to places he's talked about for years.  I'm soaking up every last minute that I can with him.  He's going to be leaving for Santiago Chile in 40 days for 2 years.  He's decided to serve a mission for our church and I couldn't be happier about his decision except that I'm going to miss him so much.  These hikes together are precious time and I wouldn't trade that for all the running weeks in the year.

I've focussed on my yoga a bit more and am loving it the more I do it.  I joined an Instagram challenge to do a pose a day and photograph it.  It's really helped me see what my body is doing and ways I can improve. It's also been fun to be creative and get my kids involved.  My name on Instagram is Runnerjen1 if you want to follow me.

I don't like being injured.  No one does.  But I didn't go crazy this time.  I knew I could find things that would keep me active and my mind busy until I could run again.  And I am back to running.  My ankle isn't 100% yet but it is still improving each day, even on the days I run.  I'm working on strengthening it still and getting full mobility back.  I also got into the second round of the Ogden Marathon in May and have that to look forward to again.

Being injured also gives time for reflection.  I know some people look for excuses not to run.  I know that some think I'm crazy for loving to run.  This injury gave me cause to pause and reflect on really why I run.  Cycling is not the same.  Swimming is not the same.  I decided that while it's so many reasons: my sanity, the physical challenge, ability to eat junk... I think one of the biggest reasons why I run is to be out in nature.  The trails are where my heart longs to be.  It's where I belong.  I love the perspective change from the top of the mountain.  I love the silence.  I love the constantly changing scenery.  I love being in trees.  I love rocks.  I love rivers.  And if I have to risk a scraped knee, a banged up toe or another sprained ankle to be there, I will willing go.

What about you?

What is your number one reason to run?

Oh, and I've run out of photo storage on blogger.  Time to make some decisions.  Advice?

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Case Against Ice-Why Inflammation Can Be Good

Let me begin by stating the fact that I am not a physician or have any sort of medical training whatsoever.  This post is purely my opinion based on careful thought and observation.  

Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way we can get down to my latest crazy talk.  I'm sure this won't surprise anyone who knows me.  I ran barefoot to relearn how to run naturally.  I don't believe in arch supports or cushioning to the chagrin of my multiple doctors.  I quit using anti-inflammitories last year for my arthritis because of this article.  I have chickens roaming my backyard.  Half of my backyard is a vegetable garden.  I have 2 beehives.  I had a Ron Paul sign in my front yard for most of the year.  So I'm not exactly what you would call normal.  But I don't think I'm really crazy either.  Maybe I just think about things too much.  

Shortly after I rolled my ankle and the swelling was spreading from the outside of my ankle to the inside of my ankle and the top of my foot, I was sitting on the couch with an ice pack.  And I got to thinking.  Why does the body inflame the part that's been injured?  I knew it had something to do with increased blood flow and fluid, but why exactly does it do that?  And more importantly, why do we try to stop it?  We are repeated told to RICE (rest, ice, compress, and elevate) and to take copious amounts of vitamin I (ibuprofen).What are we trying to fight here?  So I did what any person would do and googled it.  (Dr. Google and I are pretty tight.)  I found pretty much the same answer every place I looked.  Here's an example:

A localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues, which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissue. adj., adj inflam´matory.  

The classic signs of inflammation are heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function. These are manifestations of the physiologic changes that occur during the inflammatory process. The three major components of this process are (1) changes in the caliber of blood vessels and the rate of blood flow through them (hemodynamic changes); (2) increased capillary permeability; and (3) leukocytic exudation.

Hemodynamic changes begin soon after injury and progress at varying rates, according to the extent of injury. They start with dilation of the arterioles and the opening of new capillaries and venular beds in the area. This causes an accelerated flow of blood, accounting for the signs of heat and redness. Next follows increased permeability of the microcirculation, which permits leakage of protein-rich fluid out of small blood vessels and into the extravascular fluid compartment, accounting for the inflammatory edema.

Leukocytic exudation occurs in the following sequence. First, the leukocytes move to the endothelial lining of the small blood vessels (margination) and line the endothelium in a tightly packed formation (pavementing). Eventually, these leukocytes move through the endothelial spaces and escape into the extravascular space (emigration). Once they are outside the blood vessels they are free to move and, by chemotaxis, are drawn to the site of injury. Accumulations ofneutrophils and macrophages at the area of inflammation act to neutralize foreign particles by phagocytosis.

A less complicated explanation is this:

Inflammation is the body's attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens - and begin the healing process. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, the signs and symptoms of inflammation, specifically acute inflammation, show that the body is trying to heal itself. 

So after reading those explanations of inflammation, I wondered why we try so hard to fight this response from our bodies to try and heal itself.  Maybe inflammation is good.  Yes, it causes pain and we don't like pain.  But what if pain is good?  Like the kind of pain that protects you from injuring it further, from overextending it.  We try to fight pain, but maybe we shouldn't as much.  

After the explanations was this list of treatments:
  • Ice is the best treatment.

    • Applying ice to the injury will help decrease pain.

    • Ice counteracts the increased blood flow to the injured area.

    • It reduces swelling, redness, and warmth.

    • Applied soon after the injury, ice prevents much of the inflammation from developing.

I don't want to confuse acute inflammation with chronic inflammation that destroys healthy cells such as in Crohn's disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or ulcers.  I understand that kind of inflammation is not good.  But after an injury or any kind of trauma to the body, it seems that inflammation is just trying to help our bodies recover faster.  Why are we trying to fight the bodies response to bring blood in, and take the bad stuff out?  Is the main reason to fight pain?

Check out this study by neuroscientists at the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The title:  Inflammation helps to heal wounds- Surprise Discovery.

And check out this blog post by MobilityWOD about why he is convinced icing is bad and will become a thing of the past.

After thinking and doing some research, I quit icing.  In fact I only iced twice.  My swelling is almost gone.  And boy did it swell and bruise.  The bruising is almost gone as well.  I'm not limping anymore, although I think I'm still a ways from being able to run again.  Going down stairs and sitting cross legged is still painful.  I did go to the doc and have an x-ray taken to see if I had broken anything.  I didn't.  And I disobeyed my doctor when he told me to ice it and take Celebrex.  Whether not icing has actually helped or hinded my healing is yet to be seen.  But I like the idea of bucking the system especially when it makes sense to me.  

What do you think?
Wouldn't you love an excuse to quit taking those ice baths?
Do you have a good answer to my questions?  
Do I just not understand this stuff correctly?

Monday, November 5, 2012

I hate unhappy endings

Alternate titles:  Life sucks, Not again, Clumsy Idiot, Hidden Dangers Under Leaves, Trail Running is Dangerous...

I'm the kind of girl that likes a happy ending.  Especially in movies.  If you can't get a happy ending in a movie, there is no point in watching it.  There are enough unhappy endings in real life that I won't pay  money to see that in a movie!

I had a glorious running week.  I was pretty sore from the half last Saturday so Monday I just hiked 4 miles with a friend and really enjoyed myself.  Tuesday I ran some of fastest 6 miles ever and loved every minute of it.  

Wednesday I ran again and had a fall snow globe moment.  Really, it was magical.  The sun was just coming up over the mountain, the tall line of poplar trees lining the streets were lit up from the sun making their yellow leaves absolutely shine.  

Then a stiff breeze came along and the loose leaves from the trees started raining down on me.  I stopped in my tracks, looked up, and took the moment in and drank it deep.  The wind swirled the leaves on the ground all around me and it was really one of those magical moments that never would have happened if I wouldn't have stepped out the door that day.  

I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day. Funny how something so small made me so happy.  Thursday I went to spin class and Friday I rested anticipating a long run with my brother the next day.

Saturday started early in Mantua with an Eagle Scout and his crew building new trail on the mountain bike/hiking trail that our city is building.  

He had quite a group there and they made such good progress.  We're in the trees now and it's beautiful. 

The view isn't bad either!

I ran home, ate a snack, and my brother arrived.  We headed to the canyon that I love and couldn't wait to share with him.

We decided to take the White Rock loop which is about 10 miles.  Only we ran it backwards from the only other time I've ran it, so I was questioning myself the whole way until I finally figured it out.  We climbed to the top of the big rock at the half way  mark and enjoyed the view.  

I really love running with my brother.  He really tolerates a lot from me.  He doesn't complain when I have to walk or when I stop every couple of feet to pick up or look at a cool rock.  (I found one that looked like gold that I brought home to Logan! It was very cool!)  After about 8 miles and on our way back, we were booking down the trail pretty quick.  The thing about trail running on leaves is that you can't really tell what's underneath.  I roll my ankles often and it never hurts.  I kind of pride myself in having strong ankles especially after last year.  But as I rounded a corner a little too fast, I twisted and rolled my ankle and it stopped me in my tracks.  After a few minutes I walked it off and it seemed o.k.  And I started running again but slower.  Pretty soon we were back to normal when I hit something else and that same ankle just collapsed.  I went down.  It was some pretty brutal pain, enough to make me cry a bit although the cramp in my abs as I went down was almost worse.  I had my brother help me get up so that I could stretch out the ab cramp and then get my bearings.  It really hurt.  I couldn't put full pressure on it.  But I didn't hear it pop either.  We made our way down slowly the rest of the mile or so that we had left.  I was bummed but not devastated. 

I've done most of the traditional stuff like elevating it, resting it as much as possible, wearing my compression socks, soaking it in an Epsom salt solution, and even taking a Celebrex.  I did ice it the first day for about 20 minutes but have decided that I'm not doing that anymore.  I've come to the conclusion that inflammation can be good.  It might hurt, but isn't it the body's defense system kicking in to help it heal?  I've also been ultra sounding it twice a day.  I got that little handy dandy machine this last winter to help heal my stress fracture.  I really think it works.  My cankle is pretty nasty.  It is bluish in areas and the swelling has just sort of moved around to the inside of my ankle as well as the outside and onto the top of my foot.  It still hurts and I probably will go get it checked out, but I'm hoping that it won't be long until it's back to normal.  But since I've never done this before I'm not sure how long it will take to heal?  Anyone out there with similar experiences?  

One of these things is not like the other.  Sunday.

Monday morning
Until then, I got my bike back downstairs and as soon as I can wear that shoe for more than 10 minutes I'll be back on it for as long as I can stand it.  I also can concentrate more on lifting my upper body as well.  I guess being injured earlier this year has taught me that it's not the end of the world and I can find things that I can do in the meantime.   

I do have to say that things are just not lining up for me the way I thought they would.  I had this plan to do the Grand Slam this year and really get good at the marathon.  I got on the website and it's already sold out.  I entered the Ogden Marathon lottery and didn't get in.  Although I know there's still hope, it just seems like my plans are not working out.  I just started a new training schedule last week.  Is there a pause button?  Time to come up with a new plan and hope for a happy ending.  

Oh, and if you come up with a clever alternate title for my post, please share.  I could use a good laugh about now!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Syracuse Harvest Half 2012

 Heather and I decided sometime during the week that we would run a half marathon that is not too far away from home.  I haven't run long for over 6 weeks and I was starting to really crave it.  It was going to be a fun run with dressing up and slow times and a good chance to catch up.  Basically a long run like old times.  With costumes.  Good times.

I brought back my spider costume from last year hoping again that the extra legs would help me run faster.  Didn't work again! I don't know why.  My husband actually couldn't believe that I was going to wear that thing for 13 miles.  It didn't end up being that bad.

It was a really cold morning.  Like in the 20's.  We sat in her car until right before the start.  But as soon as the sun came out, it warmed right up and I even got a little too warm with nothing I could shed.  It was a pretty flat course with some little inclines and declines.  Overall though there was elevation gain in this course.  It is not a PR course for sure.  It really did feel like old times and running out west.  It was beautiful and much needed.

We took our time taking self portraits, then having some nice guy stop and take our picture, running across the bridge one at a time, and a very long potty break.

Overall, I shouldn't be surprised that our time was 2:26.  But I was a little disappointed.  We did pass 13 people in the last mile and no one passed us, so that was good.  But I didn't feel like I was taking it THAT easy!

They served root beer in a finishers mug and had lots of good after race snacks.  And the shirt was nice.  Overall, it was a good long run with my best friend and a great day.
Now if my calves were not sore it would be perfect.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Winner of Roo Sport Giveaway!

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Timestamp: 2012-10-29 14:11:16 UTC

Congratulation to Penny at Pink Hat Runner!  You are the winner of the Roo Sport!  Get me your info by e-mail and I'll get them to send it right out to you!  I know you're going to love it.
If you didn't win but still want to get one, go here to purchase.  It really is a great product!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Change in the Seasons of Weather and Life

If you haven't already entered the Roo Sport giveaway...check it out here!

I always like a cold snap and even a little snow in October.  It is a gentle reminder that the sunny, bright  days of fall are not going to last forever and winter is coming.  And I've been looking forward to getting out on the trail when it snows to see what it looked like.  So this week before it snowed at the house (which it has now) it snowed in the mountains and it got pretty low so I decided to go check it out.

Even though the leaves are fading, the colors are still gorgeous.

On the plus side the lower part of the creek now had water running in it again.  I love the peaceful sound of running water, especially when it runs over rocks and logs and such.

We've been blessed with an extended fall it seems this year and I'm trying to soak it all in.

The leaves cushioned the trail's hard bits and though they're not crunchy because they were so wet, they were a joy to run on top of. 

It was about 1,000 ft. up to get to the snow.  I figured it would be before the 2 mile mark which was where I was planning on turning around.

Signs of snow started to appear along the sides of the trail.

These next two photos are my favorite and had me thinking for the rest of the day.  They show beautifully the transition of fall to winter.  A changing of the guard.  At first I just thought about how much I love living in a place where there are four distinct seasons.  Just when I get tired of the extreme heat of summer, fall comes to bring relief.  When I'm tired of the snow, the buds on the trees signify that a bright change is on it's way.  And I like this little warning of snow that change is again in the air.

I ran for a while in the snow, smiling and enjoying the peaceful quiet that seems to come with the snow.  It's as if it insulates the world for a time.  There were still birds chirping and small animals hurrying to get out of my way, but it was silent, alone and peaceful.  At the turnaround spot I stopped for a couple of minutes and closed my eyes and just listened.  It was almost magical.

This was another favorite spot where the tiniest breeze caused the snow in the trees to lose a bit of their dusting and it swirled through the air all around me.  Like I said, magical.

The sun peeking through the clouds was definitely another highlight.
On the way back down I couldn't help but think about seasons in our lives.  I'm in a really great season of life right now.  But like that part in the trail, I can catch a glimpse of another season just ahead.  My kids are still all at home.  They're all pretty independent.  They all sleep through the night.  They're all potty trained.  They're all in school.  Soon another season will come that will include letting go.  Not as much control, grandkids (although I know that one's a ways off ;) )  and expanding our family with in-laws.  While I'm sure that season will be great too, I'm just really trying to enjoy the awesome season that I am in right now.  Running really teaches me unexpected lessons and makes me think about things in a different light.  And it never ceases to amaze me either.  If someone would have told me even 10 years ago that I would be seeking out snow to run in, I would have called them crazy.  But here I am and loving every second of it.

Any lessons you want to share with me you've learned or thought about while running?