Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oakland Half Marathon Race Recap

Since last week's race was supposed to be my goal half marathon this spring, I planned to go to the Oakland Half Marathon with a laid-back attitude. I won an entry into this race from PavementRunner's giveaway a couple months ago. I was really looking forward to racing in a new location. When I signed up, Ryan decided to race this one as well! As an added bonus, we have friends who live one mile from the race start, so we had a great place to stay, an easy race morning commute, and fans to cheer us on!

The half marathon started at 9:15am -- a later start, but it allowed for closer finish times with the marathon (which started at 7:30am). Since the marathon and 5k were already started, the race start area was pretty quiet. The only minor issue we had before the race start was in the bag check -- the signs weren't quite right, so it was a little hard to tell which line to get in. But it worked out ok.

The race started right on time. At the gun, they blew a a huge burst of confetti to run through -- it was so fun! The course had a TON of turns, especially in the first 3 miles. This made it hard to run the tangents well since there were so many runners at this point too!

Once I got going, I realized my legs were feeling pretty good, and not too sluggish from the Shamrockin' Half, so I decided to run a similar pace and see how it went. This race was amazing because there were SO MANY people out cheering at every point along this course!! I think it ranks as one of the most spectated races I have been a part of! I think I had a huge smile on my face for almost all of this race. Check out some of my race photos.

By the last 3 miles, I was definitely getting tired... but the last 3 miles of a half I always feel so close to the finish that it somehow pulls me along. Our friends were out cheering at mile 10, so it was fun to see them! Then, there was a DJ playing some great music with about 0.75 miles left to go that really fired me up to push hard to the finish. The last 0.2 miles are up a small hill (that after running so long makes it feel difficult!), but you could see the finish line right there at the top!

Based on my Garmin, I ran 13.35 miles, with an average pace of 8:20/mi! My official time was 1:50:52 -- 11 seconds faster than last week! Ryan also had a great race, and had a big PR -- his official finish time was 1:37:17!

Needless to say, we were excited to celebrate with a post-race beer! This race gave two drinks after the race, but we shared with our friends so they could celebrate with us.

Overall, I thought this was a very well run race. The bands and music along the course were great. The crowd support was amazing. Definitely one to consider doing again in the future. Thanks PavementRunner for the opportunity!

Monday, March 25, 2013

On Diabetes

I've never talked about this before on the blog, but I wanted to mention that Ryan has Type I diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce or does not properly use insulin. Because of this, food cannot be processed correctly to form the energy you need to function. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. The role of insulin is to allow glucose (or sugar) from the food we eat, which has entered our bloodstream to enter our cells for use. When a person doesn't have enough insulin (or it doesn't work right), their blood sugar is abnormally high. Sustained periods of high blood sugar can be detrimental to your health, leading to serious health complications.

Type I and Type II diabetes cause high blood sugar in for different reasons, both connected to how the body utilizes insulin. In Type I diabetes, beta-cells found in the pancreas are destroyed, causing the pancreas to not produce enough (or any) insulin. Patients with type I diabetes require daily injections of insulin to maintain a regular blood glucose level. Type I diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all diabetes cases, and is sometimes linked to genetics. Although this type can develop in people of any age, it is often diagnosed in children.

In Type II diabetes, for some reason the insulin produced by the pancreas does not function properly. Often patients with type II diabetes are overweight, or physically inactive, and often older. However, today with the rise of childhood obesity, many children are also being diagnosed with this form. Type II diabetes can sometimes be controlled by an increase in physical activity, diet control, and/or daily oral medications. In some cases, insulin injections may also be required if diet or other medications don't work. This type of diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes cases, and what most people think of when you hear about the disease.

Ryan was diagnosed with type I diabetes in December 2008 at the age of 23. He does not have any family history of the disease so it was a big shock! Ryan treats the disease with two types of daily insulin: one that brings his baseline levels to normal, and one to offset any carbohydrates eaten during meals. It is important for him to check his blood glucose levels a several times a day to make sure they are not too high or too low.

Our focus on exercise and healthy diet helps to keep his levels a little more stable, but sometimes it can also make it more difficult. During vigorous activity, his blood glucose level can drop quickly. Low blood glucose can also be dangerous. Because of this, it is especially important for him to carry carbohydrates to eat while training/exercising to keep his blood sugar at a normal level.

I hope to write a bit more here about how we deal with diabetes during our training and our daily lives. 

Some resources:
American Dibetes Association -
Mayo Clinic (on diabetes) -

Do you know anyone with diabetes?
Anyone have questions about diabetes or living with this disease?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lucky Shamrock'n

The Shamrock'n Half Marathon was scheduled as my goal race for this spring season. After getting a few second PR on somewhat minimal training at the Davis Stampede in early February, I knew I had a lot more in me! So, I started trying to be more consistent with my weekly runs, and also added in speedwork.

This year the Shamrock'n Half increased its number of participants to 7,500. It seems to be one of the most popular races around here, so we were sure to sign up early! But with so many people racing, today we wanted to be sure that we made it to the race early to not feel rushed before the start. Race start time was 7:45, and we arrived at 6:20 -- probably a little earlier than necessary, but not much after we arrived the traffic really started backing up! I was glad we got there early -- I'd rather be early and relaxed than sit in traffic and get worried about missing my start.

There were 4 waves to the start (every 15 minutes), but I was in the first wave, so I didn't have to wait around. The race organizers did a good job of making sure people stayed in the correct wave. The race seemed to start right on time and without any issues!

Rockin' some neon green with my ProCompression socks and NWM t-shirt!

The course for Shamrock'n is really nice -- curves through downtown Sacramento a bit, then followed along a bike path for a few miles before heading back into downtown and finishing in the local baseball stadium (just like yesterday's Biggest Loser Walk). Overall it is flat with a couple super tiny "hills" on bridges to go over the river. They also have bands every few miles to keep you entertained.

I have to admit, even though this was my 10th half marathon, I was nervous before the start. Does that ever go away? I mean, I don't mind it but its just a little funny to me. I guess when you put in so much time/effort into training for something it makes sense. I usually relax once I'm a mile or so into the race....this one was no different.

Honestly, this race really flew by for me. The first couple miles of the race were pretty crowded, but I tried not to do too much weaving. My first mile was a 8:28, which I thought was too fast, but that race adrenaline always gets me a little. I was able to slow it down a tiny bit the next two miles to 8:41, which was about where I actually wanted to start. After that I just stopped thinking so much about pace and just let myself get comfortable and ride it out for a while, which turned out to be back to about 8:24-8:28. My plan was to keep up this pace until mile 10 and then turn it up for the last 5k.

I was able to do exactly that! Mile 12 I started getting tired so my pace slowed a tiny bit, but for the last 1.1, I was able to pick it back up again to finish off strong!

My final time was 1:51:03 -- a PR by 5 minutes!!! I'm SO excited! Even two days later, I'm still on cloud nine.

 Of course I had to get a post- race Killian's Irish Red on St. Patrick's Day!

Afterward we hung around to cheer on some other friend to the finish, have a post-race beer, and recap the events. Actually Ryan and I and two of our friends all PR'ed! It was a very exciting day! Now I'm so excited to keep working on speed and seeing what I can do!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Haircut and a 5k

It was a pretty low key week this week. I continued my P90x routine (only a few more weeks to go!), but skipped out on the legs workout yesterday because of my goal half marathon tomorrow.

Instead of the workout, I got my hair cut! I seriously hadn't gotten my hair cut in close to 10 months! I know, I know -- I'm lazy about the hair cuts. Now I feel fresh and ready for spring! I always think it feels so funny to wash my hair after cutting so much off. Also, the stylist curled it, which I hardly ever do! It was fun to have a new style all afternoon! Today, its back to being straight. 

before                                                                       after

This morning, Ryan and I walked the Biggest Loser Inaugural 5K Run/Walk in Sacramento in support of getting people moving, and as a work even for Ryan's young professionals group. We debated for a while when we were signing up whether to run or walk it. We ended up deciding to walk since we want to make sure we are not tired out for our race tomorrow too, and a few others from his work were also planning to walk it. Ryan and I walked the race together, which was awesome! It was so great to talk and catch up since he was traveling for work all week. Our final finishing time was about 42:25 (13:41/mi pace).

Overall, I think the Biggest Loser 5K was a great environment for first time runners and walkers. There was one water station, and a couple groups of people at "cheer stations". We finished the race by entering through the back of the local baseball stadium, and going around the warning track. The volunteers were very good, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Overall the environment seemed really welcoming to just getting people up and moving, and enjoying the day! There were even awards for the top 3 places in each age group for both runners and walkers separately. And everyone got a participation medal! We got an extra little shamrock keychain for doing both today's event, and participating in tomorrow's half. Ryan won 1st for men's walkers in his age group!

Tomorrow morning is the Shamrock'n Half Marathon! Can't wait to tell you all about it!

Do you watch The Biggest Loser TV show? We have watched the last few seasons, and have really gotten into it. It is great to see people taking control of their lives and gaining self confidence.

Have you ever walked a race instead of running? This was my first time walking a race!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Run Along the Ocean

This past weekend Ryan and I went to Santa Cruz for a little getaway with some friends. We rented a big house so we could all stay there. It was so fun to have all of us eat dinner together and play some games. The weather this weekend was perfect!

Saturday morning we went for a run along the ocean. It was absolutely gorgeous. See for yourself!

Amazing, right?!? There was a really nice paved path. SO many people were out walking, running and biking. Hard not to be outside with such beautiful weather.

I ended up running almost7 miles -- a pretty good distance for my taper week long run. My next half marathon is coming up this weekend!

Other than the run, we spent the day lounging on the beach (even though it felt a bit too cold out to go in the water), ate some tasty clam chowder at the end of the pier, and said hello to the sea lions.

Do you like to run when you are on vacations? I love it. It is such a fun way to explore a new place!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

P90x: month 2

Whoa -- I seriously don't know where the last week has gone! I was crazy busy last week with recruitment for a new class of graduate students for my department. It was really fun, but also exhausting and took a lot of pre-planning. Luckily it coincided with the recovery week for my P90x schedule, so I didn't have to worry too much about missing workouts.

Here's how P90x month 2 went...

week 1: It was really tough switching workouts! I guess I really did get used to the first month of exercises. But, I totally crushed pull-ups this week... especially on legs & back day. I did 8 pullups in a row!

week 2: This week I was moving up in weight during exercises. My triceps were sore from Monday's workout. Otherwise, settling in to this round of workouts. Note: back & biceps day is HARD. Somehow I always think this workout won't be as tiring, but it comes back and says "Don't you dare underestimate me!"

week 3: I couldn't believe it was already the last week of this cycle! crazy. This month really seemed to go by fast. I've officially decided this month's workouts are always harder than I think they are going to be. Again, my triceps were pretty sore from Monday on Wednesday's workout.

recovery week: I had a lot of things going on this week, but I fit in an extra day of yoga and some running to make up for not doing as many lifting days. By the end of last week I was starting to feel kind of burnt out, so I was so glad to have a recovery week to help me reset a little.

This week I'm on to the last round of exercises. I have seen a lot of changes so far in my strength, and I think it will only get better these final 4 weeks. I'm already excited to compare my initial and final photos! I hope my hard work shows.

Anyone else seeing some good improvements from cross training?

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