Monday, September 26, 2016

My Favorite Running E-Gear (That's a lot of USB Chargers)

When I was ready to buckle down and become serious about my relationship with running, I was overwhelmed with the amount of gear available to runners. Perusing around one of my favorite local running stores (probably to pick up a pair of "cute" shoes I wouldn't even test on a treadmill before purchasing), I asked a sales associate about ways to track my pace and distance. I was about to start training for a half-marathon with a time-goal and, at the time, I'd been using the Nike+ app which required me to run with my phone strapped around my bicep. Looking for easy, lightweight alternatives, the associate led me over to a case filled with GPS devices, and so began my love of accessorized running.

Here are a few of my favorite running companions that make those long, hard workouts just a little easier!

GoPro Hero Session

My coach is a big fan of pulling the team out of town for weekend long running. We usually head up the highway to one of many nearby lakes or continue further up into the mountains. As rainy months approach, the views are so beautiful and a welcome distraction from the incline training. While we usually have a teammate with a camera chasing us around, I would carry the thought of how fun it would be to capture some of these courses on a GoPro. Some of my favorite running Instagram-ers and teammates rave about theirs, so I made the jump and purchased one of my own. I'm still learning to perfect my angles and lighting, but having so much fun with it already.

Nathan Nebula Fire LED Headlamp

As the end of Daylight Savings Time nears, a couple of my weekly workouts will take place in the dark(er) hours of the evening. To keep me from eating dirt (and to be seen by others - I'm lookin' at you, bikers!), I purchased one of Nathan's LED headlamps.

I wear mine around my body, up by my ribs and just under the band of my sports bra. I can adjust the brightness of my lamp and choose a strobe option in heavy-traffic areas by simply pushing a button - meaning I don't have to stop my run to mess with it. Safety first, runners!

Garmin Forerunner 230

And the gadget that started it all... My first GPS watch purchase was a Garmin 220 that lasted me a few years before biting the dust. After it had reached the end of its shelf life, I upgraded to a 230. I don't use it for much more than tracking my pace, distance, and (occasionally) lap times, but I will say that I've become highly dependent on it. My coach sets his team with goal paces throughout the season, and playing with numbers keeps me occupied during those harder speed workouts. By using Garmin Connect, I can track speed trends and follow my teammates' progress. Totally worth the chunk of change!

I'm off to find a spare outlet and re-charge before tomorrow's early-morning tempo run! ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

About that Pee-Wee Football Life

Wyatt is playing Pee-Wee (the 9- and 10-year-old age group in his league) Football this fall, a huge athletic learning curve from what we've experienced in the past with soccer and baseball. I anticipated that, as he got older, the intensity of sports would increase, but jumping to a contact sport has far exceeded that anticipation. It's been fun to watch him learn so much more about the sport and grow closer with his team and coaches. The league prides itself on molding well-rounded athletes, not just great football players. Players are required to submit tri-weekly academic progress reports and are held to a high standard of treating their coaches, one another, and their opponents with the utmost respect. 

As crazy as a full football schedule has made things around here, Wyatt and I have been able to really connect over the hard work it takes to achieve sports-related goals. During my marathon training in the spring season, he struggled with why I spent so much time and energy on "exercising," and I carried quite a bit of mama-guilt over it. Now our commute to and from practices and games are centered around conversations about the importance of eating well (and a lot!), drinking enough water, stretching, pushing through physical discomfort, overcoming mental and emotional walls and barriers, and the pay-off for working hard every day. (There's also a lot of Q&A coming from the backseat that sounds like ... Who was a better quarterback? Joe Montana or Steve Young?)

I'm so proud of my hard-working football player. He's made great strides as an athlete and continues to perform well academically while balancing the physical demands and hours spent out on the field. Hard as it is to watch my firstborn begin to acquire the traits and characteristics of a young man, I find great comfort in the realization that somewhere-somehow-someway I've been doing something right with raising this well-rounded boy. 


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back in Action

Hi, strangers! It feels good to be back!

The last time we saw each other I was just days away from my first full marathon. I am happy to report that the Mountains2Beach Marathon went well and I finished in 4:19:24 with no injuries and feeling amazing, a sign of a great training season! I felt so great that, just two weeks after the marathon, I completed a 30-mile run for one of my teammates' 30th birthday. (That one had me off my feet and aching for a few days!)

Mountains2Beach Marathon Finish Line

Post-marathon, my mind and body were ready for some extended rest. While I was riding the high of pride and accomplishment, my kids missed their mama, my floors missed the vacuum cleaner, and my eyes missed being gently awakened by the sun and not an alarm clock at 3:45 AM. I was nearing burn out and knew my life needed some normalcy before entering another training cycle.

Which brings us to present day, or entering training week five of sixteen for the California International Marathon (since I'm back to scheduling my life with the reference point of a training season). CIM has been called the Fastest Course in the West and I'd like to test this slogan by setting a finish goal close to 4:00. Balancing training is much more challenging this time around with a few added extra-curricular activities and responsibilities for my little family, but I am happy to be carrying the confidence of an already-completed marathon in my pocket. My training approach is to make my workouts "count" and find time to cross-train wherever possible, even if it's on the field sidelines while Wyatt and his team practice.

Stay tuned for more training updates, we're just getting warmed up!