August 27, 2015

How to deal with jet lag

Traveling between multiple zones is fun and exciting but it also can be very taxing on your body.  For some people the east to west coast time zone change is more difficult than going from west to east. As I have recently gone through 7 hours of time change east to west, this is clearly my area to struggle to get my body clock back on track.

Coping tips:

* Try not to sleep on the airplane if you are taking a daytime flight.  While an eight hour flight or longer is generally pretty boring, you will be able to get back to your normal sleep patterns easier if you stay awake. I watched 4 movies on our flight back from London to Charlotte.  Obviously this is a bit mind numbing, but it is better than laying awake for hours in your bed at home wishing you could go to sleep.

*  Avoid caffeine:  Most of us love our coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages such as sodas, but if you must have them, try the decaffeinated version.  Any extra caffeine will disrupt your body rhythm even further

* Shut down computers and I-Pads:  While I normally try to log off and relax at least an hour before bedtime, I have been known to check my email messages minutes before going to bed.  When you have a jet lagged body, it is really important to shut everything down and relax as much as possible before trying to go to sleep.

*  Sleep Aids:  There are many theories about whether this is a good idea or not.  Personally I like to take a Benedryl before a long overnight flight, but plenty of people I know take Ambien.  Ask your doctor what they recommend before you decide to take any type of sleep aid medication.

*  Stay up until your normal bedtime: Last night both Tom and I were asleep in front of the television before 9:00 pm.  This was not planned nor did it help us sleep through the night. The sooner you get back to your normal bedtime, the faster your body will go back to it's normal patterns. Sometimes this is easier said than done!

* Give yourself a few days of rest before attempting hard workouts.  I made the mistake of trying to run 6 miles yesterday after a round of golf.  And I tried to run in the middle of the day when it was hot and humid.  It did not go well and I quit after 4 miles.

a hot mess but smiling anyway

*  Now is the time to get back on track with healthy eating if you had some cheat meals while on vacation.  We are eating simple meals at the moment and very little processed foods to try to give our bodies a chance to recover from some delicious vacation eating and drinking! Healthy eating and drinking also helps with better sleep.

What tips do you have for recovering after a multiple time zone change?

August 7, 2015

How to get it done: training while on vacation

It's no secret that we love to travel.  Today, we will be leaving for a 16 day trip and my training plan was one of the first things that I wanted organized.  When packing starts, the exercise clothing is also a priority to make sure everything is available for running and cross training. There are certain things I do to insure enough luggage space for the trip back home, so older running shoes and clothing can be discarded as needed.  My older Brooks Ravenna shoes are worn for walking the dog once I have 300 miles on them, but this time I am bringing them with me. New socks and newer insoles will provide the extra support for an older pair of running shoes and they will be left behind when we leave our river cruise.

First time using my Brooks shoe bag-perfect for accessories

As for getting the actual work done, here are some ways to make training happen while on vacation.

* Plan your itinerary:  You can carve out time for your workouts whether they are daily, every other day or just once a week by studying your trip itinerary ahead of time. Our second day in Vienna,  I will be running in Stadtpark which is across the street from our hotel.  Was it a coincidence that we are near a park?

* Enjoy the locals:  When we traveled to England a couple years ago, I found a local 5k during the time we would be in the city.  It happened to be in one of the beautiful city parks and meeting runners from another country was really fun.

Superhero 5k in Regent's Park, London

* Make sure your travelling companions are on board  When travelling with just Tom, I tend to get my exercise/workouts done before he even wakes up.  If this is not possible, I always ask what his preference is and try to be considerate of what he wants to do on any given day.

*  Research the internet:  If you are visiting big cities, there is a chance that a running club might be meeting for a group run when you are there.  Alternatively, there are lots of road races so be sure to check these possibilities before you leave home.  I actually planned to meet a group last February in Miami for a run, but the timing did not work out. Also, the concierge or front desk clerk at most hotels can provide a map and perhaps even help you with a running route.

* Stay safe:  Just like at home, the same safety rules apply.  Be sure to run in well lit places, know your route and tell someone where you are going.  And please wear an ID band or carry ID in your pocket along with some money and your hotel details.  If you get lost, you will have money to make your way back to the hotel.

Do you make advance preparations for running and exercise when you travel?  Anyone racing this weekend?

August 3, 2015

Gearing up for MCM

I really struggled to get on board with marathon training. When I threw my name in the Marine Corps Marathon lottery, I wasn’t engaged nor did I have any expectation that I might plan a wedding 4 months later. And then Adam dropped to one knee on March 28th and everything changed. I found myself highly frustrated and filled with angst about the fall race. More than once I thought about deferring. But one thing always kept me coming back…the fact that I had already started fundraising and had committed to run for Team Fisher House.

I can’t tell you how many tearful discussions I had with Adam about whether or not I would race. At one point, he volunteered to take my bib since Fisher House is an organization that he supports as well. He was supportive but also provided a bit of tough love. One night when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by training for another marathon when my heart and brain were screaming “Don’t do it!”, he pulled out his yearbook (he attended a service academy). He spent a minute flipping the pages and then stopped on some photos. Our conversation went something like this…

“You see that guy? He had a wedding planned. And this guy? He was engaged.”

I whispered, “are they dead?”

He didn’t answer my question but continued, “And this girl? They found out she was pregnant when they did an autopsy.”

I sat there quiet. I simply didn’t have any words that would do the conversation justice.  These men and women died so young and quickly, according to Adam. There was no opportunity for medical intervention back in the states at a medical treatment facility. Their families didn’t have a chance to fly in to hold their hand while they sat in a hospital room. In these cases, there simply was no need for Fisher House. But for so many service members, it provides an incredible service for their families during a time of medical need. And once again, I was reminded why I was running. Not for me, but for uniformed service members and their families who need Fisher House.

I also finally came to grips with the fact that Marine Corps Marathon will not be a PR attempt for me. Sure, I’ll work hard so that I’m well prepared for the race.  This is the shortest marathon training cycle I’ll undertake and also the most aggressively that I will ramp up my mileage.  I need to focus on staying healthy, rather than speed both for my sanity and to avoid injury.  I also decided that I would transition back to run-walk, which provided an enormous mental relief. All of a sudden, the long runs were palatable and I’ve had one or two that felt incredible.

Last weekend, I committed to build a training plan that would get me enough miles but not burn me out. I included hill and speed work on alternating weeks with a few tempo and progression runs thrown in. I’ve done two consecutive weeks of hill work on the treadmill and it feels great. It’s hard but I know my legs need that workout to be prepared for the hills of Rosslyn, Rock Creek parkway, and Crystal City.
If you're interested in contributing to my fundraising effort, check out my fundraising page here:

July 31, 2015

Jeff Galloway's Tips for Running in the Heat

As Galloway bloggers, we have been provided tips by Jeff Galloway to share with our readers.  There is no compensation for this post.

Our weather has been very hot this summer here in North Carolina and perhaps the most difficult summer since we moved here almost 6 years ago.  Dealing with the heat and humidity is one thing for daily living, but totally another when you get out and try to exercise.  I have certain things I do to make my summer runs easier like starting really early in the morning, wearing very light breathable clothing and always having water.  My best summer runs happen when I have a sherpa along who will carry my water. Yesterday Tom offered to join me on his bike and I always respond with an enthusiastic yes, because it keeps me from having to carry my handheld water bottle and dog spray.

Today's tips from Jeff are all about summer running.  They could not have come at a better time since this is another week of terribly hot and humid weather. I love the last tip about running in the deep end of the pool.  Last week I tried pool walking and even that can give you a pretty good workout.

Dealing With the Heat

Training through the summer can not only be grueling, but down right dangerous.  Here are some tips to train safely and as comfortable as possible in the hot summer months.

Slow down by 30 sec/mile (20 sec/km) for every 5F temperature increase above 55-60F ( every 2.5C above 14C)
When the temperature is over 70F (21C) you may take a 5 minute “cold shower break” every 25-30 minutes to keep cool.
Try to complete your run before the sun rises above the horizon.
More frequent walk breaks during hot weather can lower body temperature increase.  If you used to run 3 minutes between walk breaks, run only 90 seconds (walk 30 seconds) at 70F (21C) and at 80F (26C) drop to 60 sec run/30 sec walk or 30/30
When you start to heat up more than normal, take a longer walk in a mall or indoor AC building
Pick shady courses on hot days.
Don’t wear a hat!  Pour water over your head
Have an indoor alternative—treadmill, etc
Run in the deep end of the pool, using a flotation belt

My favorite thing to do post run is jump in here for a nice cool down. I've even gotten in wearing my running outfit minus the shoes!

Do you do anything special dealing with the heat and humidity?

July 30, 2015

Open water swimming and avoiding sharks

This summer has been tough with my calf injury keeping me from running my normal three days of week.  Not wanting to lose endurance during this time period, cross training was must.  So my coach added swimming workouts and not just 1000 yards of free swim.  Each workout for swimming has involved speed, arms or leg work and they have been tough.  But the hardest workout to date happened last Friday when we took to the great big ocean, actually an inlet area, for an open water swim.

After completing said swim, there were a bunch of things that I thought of that could be helpful if you are going to be tackling an open water swim.  These are just my thoughts based on my one and only open water swim (other than as a kid at summer camp swimming in Sebago Lake in Maine).

1.  Avoid the sharks  Certain times of day are feeding times for the shark family.  Dawn and dusk swimming is not recommended unless you want to be the appetizer or main course for the sharks. Leaving all shiny jewelry and accessories at home is also a good idea.  Sharks like sparkle!

2.  Be sure to have a buddy My coach had arranged this swim and there were two of us doing our first ocean swim.  Sami paired us up and she was an extra swimmer keeping us all within a safe area.  It was great having an extra pair of eyes to keep the group together.

3.  Wear a bright colored swim cap  Going along with the safety theme, it is important to be able to be seen by other swimmers and also boaters.  If you are wearing a dark colored cap, chances are they will not see you until it is too late.  I chose this beauty and yes, it would be hard to miss sighting me in the water.

4. Swim close to shore  If possible, find a place to swim where you have access to either docks or the beach.  Having a place to recover if you get too tired is imperative when you first start swimming in open water,  It will be an easier transition from pool to lake or ocean swimming if you have a place nearby for a rest.  We stopped several times during our swim to wait for others and those docks kept us from having to tread water and use up precious energy.

5.  Wear fins or a flotation device  Just because you are a strong and capable swimmer does not mean you cannot wear something to give you a little boost in the water.  Sami knew I was absolutely petrified of a potential shark problem and she gave me her wet suit shorts to wear.  This was not an option.  She just threw them down from her porch and said, "Pam, put these on.".  And I did and it made the swim super easy.

6. Have a recovery beverage handy  While it does not seem like you are sweating, swimming is a hard aerobic exercise and replenishing your fuel supply is important after a workout.  Having something handy when you get out of the water is nice, especially if you have taken in ocean or lake water.  The taste is not the best!

 7.  Have fun  Once I got in the water and started to relax I greatly enjoyed our morning swim.  When the group goes again, I will be there!

July 28, 2015

Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach ....40 days

Disclosure:  As Rock 'n Bloggers, we have been provided with a free entry into the Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach races.  There is no other compensation received and we are not required to write about our experiences.  All opinions stated here are our own.

Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach was one of our first local races together after we started our running adventure.  Both of us have participated in the race twice, including last year when I ran the half marathon relay and Christine ran the half solo.  This year, there is no relay so we will both be running the half together.  If you have not done this race add it to your list, or better yet, sign up now so you can enjoy a great beach weekend and race.  Always done on Labor Day weekend, this is the weekend that the locals "take back the beach" and the party atmosphere makes it a perfect time for a race. Use our discount code at the bottom of this post if you want to save $15 off the registration price. Also, there is still space to sign up for the VIP experience and you can read about that here.

With our friend Megan after Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach 2014

A couple things to note about the race weekend.  While it is a September race, don't let that fool you into thinking that race morning might be cool.  This race is notoriously hot, so here are some tips to help you be prepared and enjoy your race.

This is the 15th anniversary of the race in Virginia Beach and the medals are outstanding.  While we are not doing the Remix Challenge, those that are will get some seriously nice bling.

I do love the half marathon medal and look forward to earning that on September 6th! The race shirts this year are also very pretty and since blue is my favorite color I can't wait to get my hands on this one.  Best of all, Rock 'n Roll has women's and men's cut shirts so they are a great fit.

Last of all Sheryl Crow is the headliner act for the concert Sunday night at the oceanfront.  While we have missed these concerts the last few years, hopefully we can stay up late enough to enjoy this one.

July 24, 2015

Why I did not sign up for Princess 2016

For the past 5 years, the Princess Half Marathon has been a race that we have looked forward to and run with friends, family, and all of the other women who show up for this race weekend in Orlando. It was our first half marathon and while it was also to be our last, you all know what happened....we became running converts!

The Princess race weekend is special to us for so many reasons, but first and foremost, spending time with Christine and my sister are at the top of the list.  We always have lots of giggles and laughs, but also enjoy the competition that the race brings us, whether it's running a new distance, shooting for a new PR, or pacing a family member.

But something changed between 2014 and now.  After qualifying for the Boston Marathon, it became a goal of mine to run all the major marathons before I turn 65.  This year, Boston and NYC are my races and in February 2016, I will be toeing the line at the Tokyo Marathon.  I am so excited to have this on my race calendar and it will be even better since Tom will be accompanying me for the race.

 There are lots of things to plan in regards to this trip, but suffice it to say that it is very exciting to know that I will get my third major marathon accomplished next year.

Princess race weekend is not forgotten and I know we (my sister, Christine and I) will be back to run it in the future.