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Archive for March, 2011

The Details:

Date                    3/26/11

Distance            5K

Official time     34:54

Passed                6

Passed by          3

Temperature   26* F

 

Early in the week before my very first 5K ever, I took a look at the forecast.  While the prior week it had been a sunny and comfortable 50* on Saturday, the Saturday of the race was predicted to be 30*.  The closer it got to the race day, the lower that temperature dropped.  Now, I am not a person particularly inclined to go running outdoors (though that is changing!), but I am definitely not a person inclined to go running outdoors in temperature below freezing.  Thus, my workout wardrobe was lacking any appropriate clothing.  I had no tights, no jacket, no hats or gloves, and no long-sleeved warm top to wear.  Thus, the first thing I did last week before the race was go shopping at – where else? – The Running Room.  Here’s what I bought:

Yes, this is a men’s top, and yes, I do realize how ridiculous this guy looks in this picture.  I couldn’t find one online without a goofy looking dude wearing it.  Sorry.  😦

I also borrowed light-weight gloves and an UnderArmor ear warmer from my mom.

Normally, I would suggest wearing any new items at least a few times before a race to make sure they fit properly and don’t cause you any unnecessary chafing or discomfort.  But this time I didn’t follow my own advice and wore everything for the first time on race day.  Fortunately, I didn’t have any troubles.  I did liberally lubricate any chafe-prone areas with BodyGlide first though, just to make sure.

The day started off sunny but very brisk and cold.  On my way to the site, the car thermometer read 27*.  There was a nice 6 mph wind from the east as well, so I was definitely glad I bought all the new gear.  I arrived at Soldiers Field around 8:15 am where there were probably 3 dozen people mingling, warming up, or just standing around.  I received my race number and dutifully pinned it to the front of my shirt, then observed my competition.

I use “competition” very lightly here.  I could definitely tell who was a serious runner and who wasn’t.  While there were plenty of people just standing around in sweats and two-year-old running shoes, there were probably half a dozen people in technical running gear and the latest shoes who were stretching, warming up, and talking about the races they had done or were going to be doing (yes, I was eavesdropping).

I decided I had better warm up, as I hadn’t done enough of that prior to my triathlon last fall.  I took the opportunity to spend the next 30 minutes running around the nearby track and stretching my poor calves.

Ten minutes prior to the start of the run, a volunteer led us across the bridge to the start of the race.  She indicated that the fastest runners should line-up near the front, the walkers in the back, and everyone else in between.  I choose a spot directly in front of the walkers, assuming that I would be one of the slowest people there.  As we were waiting for the race to start, a 40ish woman next to me commented to the women around us that she would just stay near the back because she always ended up running alone anyways.  Everyone laughed, but I secretly thought, “I think you’ll have some company this race!” and counted myself lucky to possibly have a running partner during the race.

When the gun went off and the race started, I was shocked at how quickly the runners in the front of the pack took off.  It didn’t take very long before they were all long gone, and myself and the woman who had made the comment were all alone on the trail.  I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for a race like this.  Were you supposed to talk?  Were you supposed to leave everyone alone?  How much talking was appropriate?  How long should I run beside her before it was rude to have not said anything?  Should I comment on her nice running hat?

Eventually I decided on continuing the joke she had made earlier.

“I’ll just run back here with you,” I laughed.

She smiled and nodded.  I noticed she had a Garmin on her wrist and I wanted to know how long I should expect to be running next to her.

“What’s your pace?” I asked her.

“Usually 11 to 12 minute miles…. 13, 14, 15….,” she trailed off and laughed.  “How about you?”

“About the same; 11 to 12 minute miles.”

She told me she was running the 10K.  She said it was the first race for her this season.  I told her it was mine too and that this was actually my first 5K ever.  She congratulated me.  We talked for a little bit about other races we had done and then we fell into a nice side-by-side pace.  We passed a few people who had taken off ahead of us and had slowed to a walk.  As we came up to the 1 mile mark she explained that she took walking breaks and wished me luck.

I was on my own.

Luckily, I was feeling good at this point.  The pace was comfortable and I wanted to keep it that way.  I could tell I was running faster than I normally did on a training run, so I knew that if I just kept a good even pace I could easily finish in under 36 minutes, which was my goal.  I was getting warm so I tied my new jacket around my waist.  There were a few volunteers along the race path and they all cheered me on as I passed them.  Shortly after I passed the 1 mile mark I overtook a runner who looked to be about my age.  I felt very proud of myself considering I hadn’t passed a single person during my triathlon!  I passed another runner who had slowed to a crawl.  Two people passed!  Prior to the 2 mile mark I came up on another young woman who was going not too much slower than myself.  I decided I wanted to pass her and used that as a goal to keep going strong.  Soon I passed her.  Another woman was ahead of me quite a ways down the path.  She didn’t seem like she was going much faster than me and I knew that she had started ahead of me in the pack back at the race start.  I set passing her as a goal.  However, without a Garmin I didn’t know how far I had left in the race or what my current pace was.  I didn’t want to push myself too soon and not have enough energy left over to finish the race strong.  I imagined myself passing her only to have to slow down a half mile before the finish and get passed by her at the end.  So I picked up my pace a bit, but didn’t race to pass her.

Turns out that maybe I should have increased my pace a little more than I did.  When we approached the 3 mile mark I was still maybe 70 yards behind her.  I sprinted to the finish but I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to pass her at that point.  When I crossed the finish line I congratulated her on her finish and told her that I had been trying to catch up to her for the past 3/4 mile but that she was too fast.  I figured I would want someone to tell me that I was fast if I were her.  I then checked on my official time, which was 34:54.  Even with the fact that my time wasn’t completely accurate (I had started near the back of the pack, and I was told 34:26 as I approached the finish line – and there is no way it took me 30 seconds to run 30 feet), my race pace was much closer to 11 minute miles than 12 minute miles, which was a huge accomplishment for me.

I stuck around for a half an hour longer to cheer on the rest of the runners.  A few minutes after I passed the finish the line, the first 10K runner finished.  I waited to see my 10K friend pass the half-way point, but I never saw her.  I hoped she ended up finishing, but I was getting cold and wanted to head home.

After I got home I still felt good, so amazingly, I went out for another run.  This time I put 2 miles on the legs, for a total of 5 miles that morning.  As I headed out the door I told my hubby that I was going for a “quick 2 mile run.”  A few yards down the road I laughed at my turn of phrase.  Was I really now one of those people who went for a “quick” 2 mile run instead of one of those people for whom a 2 mile run was more like a marathon?

I guess so.

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Today I’m going to talk about the plight of most girls searching for a way to comfortably exercise: where to find a supportive sports bra.

This is a problem that is particularly troublesome for any of the well-endowed ladies out there.  But I’ve been told by women with less up top that they have difficulty finding a good bra too.  So while this post will speak directly towards the large bosomed, I’m sure any of you will find good advice here.

The importance of a good, supportive, and comfortable sports bra cannot be overemphasized.  Any woman who needs to wear a bra on a regular basis can tell you this.  If you’re uncomfortable not wearing a bra walking around the house or to work, you will definitely be uncomfortable with a bad bra at the gym. I’ve talked to women in the past who have given up running or walking because their breasts hurt when they did their activity.  It’s sad that this is probably the most important piece of workout gear, an item that can make or break a workout, and yet it’s almost impossible to find the right bra.  I mostly blame this on the manufacturers, who apparently can’t figure out that some women need more than marginal support and wear larger than A cups.  But you’re not completely alone in your fight.  You can find good sports bras out there, if you know where to look and if you’re willing to do the work to find the right one.

Boobs don’t just bounce up and down, they also bounce side to side, in a figure-eight pattern as you run, so it’s important to look for something that stops the bounce in any direction.  It’s also very important to make sure you have the right fit.  80% of American women are wearing the wrong size bra, so I would suggest getting a professional fitting as soon as possible.  You’ll be able to find the right fit for your every day bra, but you will also be able to find the right sports bra, especially if you need to order it off the internet, like many women do.

Let’s start with the bra that I wear, the Enell.  The Enell bra is probably the ugliest you will find.  It looks like a straight jacket.  The fabric is not all that flattering.  The seams across the nipple area generally show through most workout shirts.

However, and this is a big “however”, none of those things matter when you consider the fact that this is absolutely the most supportive bra you will find.  Generally, I would suggest this bra to bigger gals, though I think women with smaller breasts might appreciate the support and coverage as well.  This bra comes in five colors and ten sizes.  The largest size is designed to fit someone with a 50DDD chest – so this bra should fit almost everyone who is looking for support.  While the seams in the nipple area aren’t all that flattering showing through a shirt, Enell tells us:

The arch seam of the ENELL SPORTS Bra is designed to create a unique encapsulation and compression fit for well-endowed women.  This patented form fitting feature helps to minimize the “uni-boob” look.  We have conducted research and trials using a seamless molded cup, and this greatly compromised the performance of the support.  ENELL stands behind the Science of Superior Support & Comfort in our SPORTS Bra.  Therefore, at this time, we are not willing to eliminate the arch seam.  However… our research team is always looking into alternative seam applications.

All of this is undoubtedly true.  The bra does not have that traditional “uni-boob” look and it does hold everything in place.  I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Next, I want to tell you about another bra that I will wear for low-impact activities and the company that makes it.  Moving Comfort makes bras for every activity level.  They also sell tops, bottoms, and underwear.  I actually own a Moving Comfort compression short which I really do like.  The bra I want to tell you about is the Maia, found here for $46.  The Maia is extremely comfortable, with wide, adjustable straps, a 3-hook closure in the back, an underwire, and molded cups.  The Maia for me is best for low-impact activities like biking and yoga, though for women with less to support, I think it would be great for high-impact activities like running as well.  The only downside of this bra is that the front does come up rather high, much like the Enell above, which can make wearing certain v-neck tops a bit difficult.  However, several times I’ve worn this bra with the top of the bra showing like a camisole over button-down shirts.  The great thing about this bra is that it is comfortable enough to just wear around the house, but supportive enough to wear out-and-about.

These are the two bras that I own and can vouch for, however, I’d like to point you to one more resource for bras, Title Nine.  Title Nine is a great women’s only fitness clothing company that sells bras, tops and bottoms, as well as shoes, accessories (like yoga mats), and even everyday dresses, skirts, and skorts for the active girl.  Title Nine’s bra selection is extensive.  But luckily they have a great selection tool.  They also test out everything they own and each bra is usually accompanied with several reviews.  Title Nine organizes their bras into “barbell” categories.  A 4-barbell bra is for high-impact activities and for larger chests.  You can also shop by cup size as well as by activity.  I ordered my Moving Comfort Maia bra from Title Nine, and they also carry an Enell look-a-like bra called The Last Resort.

Another option for women who wear a D-cup and smaller is to go to a local running or fitness specialty store.  For example, The Running Room carries many great brands including Moving Comfort, Nike, and Champion.  However, if you’re well-endowed like me, you will probably not have much luck finding something to fit you in a local store.  You will most likely have to find something on the internet.

Before I conclude, I just want to re-emphasize the importance of find a good sports bra before commencing any kind of exercise regimen.   A ill-fitting or unsupportive sports bra could be the difference between sticking with your fitness routine and quitting after a few trips to the gym.  I should know: prior to buying my Enell bra, I made do with two ill-fitting cotton bras that really didn’t help much.  Every time I thought about going to the gym, I thought about those ugly bras, uncomfortable bras, and then, more often than not, thought better of making the trip.  Now, if you’ve had a chance to check out these bras, you have already probably noticed that a good bra is expensive.  Let me tell you though – it is worth it!  Not only will you find yourself at the gym more often, you’re also going to prevent saggy breasts.  If you don’t wear a good supportive bra, the connective tissue at the bottom of the breast can actually tear from too much bounce, causing your breast to sag – and I’m pretty sure none of you want that!  Make the investment in a good bra, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.

Between these four sources (Enell, Moving Comfort, Title Nine, and a local running store) you are sure to find a bra that works for you.  If you can’t find anything there, send me an email or write a quick comment and I will try to point you towards some other resources (I’ve done the research so there’s no reason you should have to do it too).  If you have any suggestions for other bras I should try, please let me know in comments.

Bounce-free workouts are possible, ladies!

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Winner!

And the winner of the free BondiBand is…

Adalia!

Adalia, please contact me at wisiti at rocketmail dot com with your address so I can send you your free BondiBand.

Thanks for everyone (well, the two of you! lol) who submitted entries to my first giveaway!

I’m working on a few more posts coming up that I think you’ll all enjoy including my first interview with a cycling expert!

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UPDATE: The deadline has been extended!

Of what will hopefully be many more to come.

If you’re not sure what a giveaway is or how it works, let me point you to a blog I read on a regular basis, where he is giving away a CycleOps Trainer!

My giveaway isn’t nearly as exciting (or expensive), but who doesn’t like free stuff?

So here’s the deal: The good folks at BondiBand have offered to give a free headband to one of my readers.

Here’s how you enter: Go to the BondiBand site and look through the headbands.  Leave a comment on this post telling me which one you like and why.  For additional entries, subscribe to my blog, and follow me on Twitter.

If you do subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter, make sure you mention that in your comment.  But, you must comment on this post in order to receive an entry.  I’ll keep the contest open until Sunday, March 20th Wednesday, March 23rd, at midnight.  On Monday Thursday I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner.  I’ll post the winner here on Monday Thursday, so make sure you check back.  If you don’t check back and I don’t have your contact information, I won’t know where to send the BondiBand!

A quick recap:

  • Go to the BondiBand page and look for a headband that you like.
  • Follow me on Twitter to earn an additional entry
  • Subscribe to my blog (see the link in the sidebar to the right) to earn an additional entry
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me which headband you like and why; then tell me how many entries you earned and how.
  • Check back here on Thursday, March 24th to see if you’ve won
  • It’s that easy!!!

And, for those of you who don’t win or don’t want to wait, here are two coupon codes for great deals on a BondiBand!

Buy three get one free: use coupon code ONE

Buy five for $25: use coupon code FIVE

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My Runner’s World magazine came last night.  I devoured every page looking for inspiration and suggestions.  But one article in particular caught my attention: Against the Wall.

You’re in the middle of a run when things start to fall apart. Your legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, if you run long enough, you’re bound to experience this some day.

This is the way writer Nancy Averett describes what runner’s euphemistically call ‘the wall.’  The article goes on to offer fixes for various physical and mental blocks runners can find themselves facing.

I had my own wall to conquer.  Whenever I went out to do a “long” run (and by long, please remember that this is by my standards!), I crashed around mile 4.  I had yet to go beyond 4 miles.  It was almost as if at mile 4 my body said, “Okay, that’s good enough.  Now let’s get some ice cream!”  But I knew that if I was going to improve, both in distance and speed, I was going to have to push past that 4 mile wall.

The Falls Duathlon is coming up the end of April, where I’m expected to run 2 miles, followed by a break where my team-mate bikes 14 miles, and then run 3 miles.  If you’re following along and you’re good at math, you’ll notice that adds up to 5 miles.  Everything I’ve read so far has suggested training for a distance longer than the one you’ll run on race day so that you’re able to push yourself and maybe even PR.  So if I’m going to run 5 miles on April 30th, I’m going to have to train for at least 6 miles, if not more.  Again, if you’re good at math, you’ve probably noted by now that this is at least 2 miles further than I’ve ever been able to run before.

That wall needs to come down.

Today I decided I would push through my 4 mile wall and try for 5 miles.  My plan was pretty simple: I’d run 2 miles, then stop to stretch and do some core work, and then run for another 3 miles, mimicking the Fall Duathlon race day.

I quickly did my 2 miles, filled up my water bottle, stretched, and did some crunches.  When I returned to the treadmill I thought about going home.  “2 miles is pretty good,” I thought. “No one will know…”  And yet, someone would know.  I had posted on Facebook that I was going to try to run 5 miles today.  I had also texted my hubby to let him know of the plan.  Keeping people informed of my progress, though they could probably care less, has the added benefit of keeping me accountable.  So I dragged my carcass onto the machine.  The first mile was rough.  When I hit mile 3 I thought about going home again.  “3 miles is better than 2,” I thought.  But I had said I was going to shoot for 5 and there was really no excuse to quit now.  I had no hamstring or calf pain; my feet felt much better after that quick little break; and my breathing was still sound and even.  So I kept going.  I got to 4.  “Just another half mile,” I thought.  When I got to 4.5 I still felt good.  “I think I can really do this.”  When I got to mile 5 I still felt good.  My pace was even and steady, my breathing was still good, nothing was hurting too badly, and I thought, “If I can do 5, maybe I can do more.”  So I kept going.  I made it to 5.7 before I developed a pretty bad stitch in my side and had to slow to a walk.

5.7 miles!  That’s farther than I’ve ever run in my entire life!

I stared down that wall and I conquered it. I tore it down, brick by brick.  And now I have the desire to go even further, confident that I can face down any other wall I find and push through it.

The only problem is – now my long runs might actually have to be long!

 

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I can’t believe it’s almost been an entire year since I started running, biking, and swimming.  I guess I must be having fun, because it doesn’t seem like it’s been all that long!

Of course, that means I’ve spent an entire year in much of the same workout gear and it’s really time to start replacing some of it.  I mentioned last fall that I got a road bike.  I haven’t had a chance to take it out on the road yet, but in time I’ll write a post about what’s sure to be a fall-inducing first ride (I bought cleats and SPD pedals so that will be my first time incorporating all these new things out on the road).

Since I’ve lost weight since I first started this insane quest, many of the things I bought last May are getting a little sloppy.  Now that my tax refund has come, I think it’s about time to purchase some of the things I’ve been putting off.

  • First on my list is a supportive sports bra.  I’ve been wearing the Enell Sports Bra which has worked great, but is too big now.  So I’ll be buying a new, smaller Enell today.  I’ll also be on the lookout for other brands with supportive sports bras for the well-endowed, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.
  • Next on my list is a new pair of bike shorts.  I bought the Performance Century Gel II short online, which was not ideal when I bought it; the legs were a loose and I probably bought a size too large.  My dad, an avid cyclist, told me at the time that I hadn’t really picked the best quality short.  But I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep up with my training, so I didn’t want to spend too much money.  Now the short is starting to show it’s wear.  While the gel chamois is still in good condition, the nylon/spandex fabric that the rest of the short is made of is starting to wear a little thin.  This time I might invest in something a little nicer, and perhaps pick up more than one pair.  Dad, any suggestions?
  • I’ve had very little luck finding the right swimwear for my training.  I’ve been using the Speedo Ultraback Moderate cut suit (little hint: I buy all of my swim gear from Swimoutlet.com.  I’ve found they have the best selection for the best price).  But this suit is still a little too large and doesn’t offer the support I’d really like for my bust.  I originally picked a moderate cut with a lot of coverage in the seat, but now I think I’d prefer something with a slightly higher cut.  I’ll need to do some more research before I find the right suit, but if you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to comment.
  • Finally, I really, really, really need some new tops and bottoms for running and cycling.  I already mentioned the bike shorts above, but I’ve never had any luck with cycling jerseys.  They just aren’t made for larger (read: large busted) women.  However, I refuse to believe that no one out there makes a jersey that will work for me.  So I’ll be spending some time researching that as well.  Additionally, my selection of running bottoms is seriously lacking.  As I mentioned before, now that I work at The Running Room, I have a little leeway in terms of the cost of some of the great products that are out there.  However, we haven’t received much of our spring/summer wear yet, and I have no desire to run in long, heavy pants.  What I have in my closet now is pretty sad.  I have one pair of cotton Champion shorts from Target, which don’t wick and don’t stay put.  I have one pair of Champion capri leggings from Target which are at least 5 years old; the prominent feature of these puppies is the rip in the seam on the back pocket.  I have one nice pair of running spandex shorts with a liner, but these are too big in the thighs, and too low on the waist.  Oh, and there are, of course, the two or three pairs of leggings or pants from God know’s where that are more than 5 years old and have stretched so much that it’s a miracle they haven’t come apart at the seams yet.  So, suffice it to say, I need new bottoms.  I’m not lacking so much in the top department, but I tend to wear the same four tops over and over. My favorite is probably the New Balance Tempo Tank, which once again is too large now.  But I think I’ll definitely be ordering more for this coming season.

I’ll be ordering a few things shortly and as soon as they arrive I’ll start posting reviews.  In the meantime, what kind of products will you be ordering for this season?  Any suggestions or idea for products you’d like to see me try?

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I promised a review on the Bondi Bands I ordered and now that I’ve had a chance to use them several times, and in several different situations, I can give all my loyal readers my take.

Quick summary: Totally awesome.  Why haven’t I bought these before?  Where have they been all my life?

A few days ago I was at the gym and saw a woman with this beautiful paisley headband/bandanna on.  I frequently have problems with sweat rolling into my eyes and I hadn’t yet found a sweatband that didn’t make me look like a total dork.  My solution in the past had usually been just making liberal use of that scratchy towel they provide you at the gym.  It worked and I had no reason to think that there would be another solution until I saw this headband.

When I got in my car I immediately pulled out my Blackberry and did a google search.  I found the Bondi Band website immediately.  I scrolled through some of the options on my tiny screen and came to the conclusion that I absolutely had to have one of these things.

As soon as I got in the door at home I pulled up the website and started surfing.  Bondi Band offers multiple products:

  • Wicking sweat towels
  • Light sweat wicking headbands
  • Heavy sweat wicking headbands
  • Wicking hats
  • Wicking ponytail hats
  • Swim caps
  • And more!

The Light sweat wicking headbands are made of lycra and come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns.  I ordered the Pleasant Perfume version.

I also ordered three different Heavy sweat wicking headbands.  These are made from a CoolMax material and are specifically meant for working out.  I ordered the Sun Symbol pattern in white for myself, the Coach band for my husband who coaches track at a local high school, and one for my 17-year-old runner cousin that says “Some girls chase boys – I pass ’em.”

The items arrived quickly, within three days of ordering them.  I first used the lycra version as a headband after a late night out when I felt absolutely no desire to get up early and shower before heading out.  As described on the website, the headband stayed put throughout the day.  Because it is a wide headband, you can fold over the top or bottom to wear it wider or smaller.  I received several compliments on my headband and have worn it several nights since then.  It is perfect for just pulling my hair back after a long day at work.

Next I tried out my “heavy sweat wicking” headband with the sun decal.  I wore it for a 3.5 mile run at the gym, both on the track and on the treadmill.  The headband stayed put throughout my workout.  It didn’t ride up in the back or in the front, which is the trouble I’ve often run into with other headbands.  Additionally, I didn’t need to use my scratchy white towel at all during the workout.

Next came the real test: today I wore it during a spin workout.  For some reason I sweat a lot more when I bike, so I wasn’t sure how well the headband would fair.  Again, it stayed put throughout the workout.  I did have to use my towel during the workout, but mostly just for the beads of sweat that were forming just above my eyebrows.  Otherwise, none of the sweat that normally trickles down my forehead and into my eyes made it past the BondiBand.

Since the BondiBands are only $8 a piece, I anticipate ordering a lot more in the future.  I particularly think they’ll come in useful when it starts getting warmer and I spent a lot of time outdoors running and biking.  I’ll probably invest in one of their triathlon themed headbands for the tris I have planned for this summer. Or maybe this one:

I think this phrase might be apt as I’m slogging my way through a race this summer!

So now I have to ask: anyone else have suggestions for running/biking/swimming accessories that I just have to try?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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