Monthly Archives: December 2016

Inside Tracker-Taking Charge of My Health

Excited to have a needle stuck in my vein and blood drawn?!  Of course, my mom and husband would have thought I was crazy to want to have my blood drawn.  I absolutely hated anything to do with needles growing up.  I guess that is why always avoided any procedures at the doctors office involving needles,  if it wasn’t absolutely necessary!

Well, with age comes wisdom and insight.  You grow up a bit and realize that some things are necessary in life to continue to do the things you love to do.  One of those things in life is running.  Running is something I want to be able to continue doing late into my life. as long as possible.  Running has taught me to be more attune with my body’s needs mentally and physically.  My desire to perform, as an athlete,  at my healthiest, strongest and most capable level is what lead me to seek more information and insight into my health.

Back in June of 2016, I decided to try out InsideTracker for the first time. I was so excited when ,Jonathan Levitt  a team member at Inside Tracker,  reached out to me!   With a discount, I was given the opportunity to have the Ultimate Blood Analysis Test, plus Inner Age  performed.  Inside Tracker is a company that will work with you to  “optimize your body’s performance through Sophisticated, science-based blood analytics.”  It did require that I get several vials of blood drawn!  Yikes!  I was nervous about the blood draw! The nurse technicians at Quest Diagnostic Lab in Annapolis, MD were awesome!  I never felt a thing!  Having my blood drawn and this test performed was one of the greatest things I have done for my health!  The results were available within a week!  You can read about my first round of results Here and Here

Changes in Training and Nutrition lead me to one of my most tough, but rewarding training seasons!  

Through the summer and fall, I made changes to my nutrition and training needs.  One of the great benefits of using Inside Tracker, is the instant results, feedback and recommendations that are specific to your blood work analysis! I felt stronger, healthier and mentally fit!  I knew that I was taking charge of my health and in the process optimizing my training and overall health!

Improvement from June to November!  As I finished up with a long training cycle, including four half marathons between July and mid November, I knew that I wanted to retest with Inside tracker to see which Bio Markers had improved and which ones still needed work. Six months after my first test, I retested again-using the Ultimate Blood Analysis Plan  I love the Inside Tracker website because you get reports, graphs and detailed analysis of your blood work!   

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Improvements were made and in big part, by following the nutrition recommendations and guidelines that are provided with the blood work results!  

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On the Inside Tracker website, you can customize and tailor your goals for nutrition and training.  I love that I can create goals and be alerted on a weekly, monthly basis.

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Choose Your Goals! 

Focusing on just a few key goals has helped me improve my health and performance.  The guess work that comes with trying to figure out what and how much of a supplement or food my body needs was no longer and issue!  With Inside Tracker, I am able zero in on exactly what my body needs!  My biggest goal is boosting my energy  by improving my glucose and ferritin levels. 

Choosing foods that help me reach my nutrition goals, as outlined in my Inside Tracker Results, will lead to a stronger, healthier body that can reach its full potential as a runner and bring better overall health!

Breakfast- each morning I start with a hearty bowl of steelcut oats, arugula and organic eggs-my favorite company and brand Pete and Gerry’s Eggs as well as the Carol’s Eggs Brand from New Hampshire!  My friend Sandra’s family owned company!

Supper- Two years ago, I began ordering Omega3 filled fish and seafood, online, from sizzlefish a company that offers superior quality fish delivered right to your door on dry ice!  This is a must try company!  I love having my freezer stocked with fish!  At supper, I also include Kamut-ancient grain to increase my iron levels.

Supplements- Since reviewing my blood work analysis results, I was able to pinpoint which supplements I truly need to add to my nutrition routine.  I will focus on taking a vitamin D supplement, along with berberine and plant sterols to improve my ferritin, iron and vitamin D levels. I customize and order vitamins from Vita Five

Updated Blood Work Results- Having these updated blood work results will allow me to focus on what my body needs in regards to training and nutrition.  I feel in control and proactive with my health, not only as a runner, but just a woman in her early forties just trying to maximize her overall health and wellness.  The results from Inside Tracker give me valuable information to use a part of my conversation about my health with my physician.  As I gear up for a new training cycle for early spring half marathons, I feel excited that I have taken charge of my health!  Digging deeper into my health through blood work analysis is so beneficial! 

What are you doing to optimize your health and performance?  Have you tried Blood Work Analysis testing with Inside Tracker? 

Five Favorite Stability Ball Workouts

As much as I love to just run, I know my aging body needs a balance of running and core strength work.  Right now, I am enjoying some easy miles a few times a week and adding in more core and strength workouts before I start rebuilding my base mileage for early spring 10ks and half marathons. Honestly, it is a mental challenge at times to commit to consistent, daily and weekly workouts that strengthen my core, improve my balance and my flexibility.  However, I know how important all those pieces are to my continued running success.

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Stability Ball-Perfect for Balance and Strength

Lately, the stability ball has kept me focused, engaged and motivated to incorporate core strength workouts into my weekly running schedule.  I have a few “Go-to” Stability Ball Exercises that I rounded up from this SITE

  1. Wall Squat-Great for strengthening back and quads- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  2. Bridge-Focus on the Hips- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  3. Pike-Love this SITE for proper form and technique
  4. Ball Leg Lifts- Great video HERE
  5. Reverse Lunge- Check out this VIDEO  for proper form and technique

Finally, this is a good set of exercises with the Stability Ball that I have kept me engaged and motivated to be more consistent with core and strength training!

How do you fit in core strength to your weekly running routine?  What is your “must have” piece of equipment for core and strength training?  

-MaineGirl2Runs-

Annapolis Running Classic Recap

3rd Times A Charm.  Start of the Annapolis Classic Running Half Marathon.  Navy Marine Corps Stadium in the beautiful downtown Annapolis, Maryland. 

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Navy Marine Corp Stadium

 

Familiarity.  I feel that there are advantages to running the same race course multiple times.  Aside from slight changes that the race director might make to the course each year, the course is pretty much the same.  You become familiar with the roads, the ups and downs of the course; you’re able to anticipate and strategize when to push the pace and when to hold back.  Each mile of the race, every hill is memorized and you develop this confidence for knowing the course and what to expect.  Each year, I keep coming back to this race, filled with a determination to  conquer hills, that in the past held me back.

The Numbers.  Third Times a Charm.  Half Marathon Number 10.  In 2012, I ran this race for the first time.  It was a freezing morning in Annapolis.  I was feeling excited though, because this was my 2nd half marathon that I had ever run in my entire life!  Back in August of that same year, I had run my very first half marathon in Virginia Beach. {Time of 2:10:05}   It was so hot and humid.  I knew right away that running half marathons in hot, humid weather was not for me!

So, in 2012, on  a freezing cold morning in Annapolis, I ran my second half marathon in a time of 1:57:45.  I loved the scenic race course and chilly December 1st weather!!  The race course started and finished at the Annapolis Naval Academy Stadium.  The first five to six miles of the race take runners out and around towards historic downtown Annapolis.  The second half of the race is over the Naval Academy bridge and out  towards some side roads, before heading back across the Naval Academy Bridge.  A few turn arounds and hills through these side streets.  It may seem weird, but I love the challenge and the up and down flow of hills.  I absolutely fell in love with this race and the post-race festivities which include live band, fresh raw oysters and hot tomato soup, along with yummy crisp beer!

2015 Annapolis Half Marathon Certification Map - resized

Photo Credit: HalfMarathons.net

In 2015, I returned to this same race! This has become my late season, last HURRAH, half marathon!   The date had been moved from the first weekend of December, to the weekend in November just before Thanksgiving.  Race morning was clear and crisp, but not as freezing cold as that morning in December.  That year, I ran part of the 13.1 miles with Colleen  The first few miles flew by, but once again I knew the hills looming from mile 6 to 13.1!  Once again, I had goals for starting strong, holding a steady pace, tackling the hills and finishing fast.  I always feel confident and in control until I hit the BRIDGE, then I seem to hit a wall.  I have to shuffle jog, walk/jog up and over that Darn Bridge!  I regain my breathing and pace as the course continues out towards several more hilly roads, before heading back over the bridge to the slightly uphill finish at the Naval Academy Stadium.  This is where the advantages of a familiar course come in handy, but also where it can be your mental enemy.  You know what lies ahead and that there are hills to tackle that will leave your lungs burning and your quads stinging. Once again, the hills on the back end of this course and heading towards the finish were tough and I struggled through some miles.  I finished with a time of 1:56:48.  

**On an interesting note, I ran this same course back in June of 2015-Zooma Run Half Marathon, in a time of 2:10 and change.  I definitely run better on this course in cooler, to colder weather.  

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Me and LiveFreeRun! Gorgeous autumn colors! 2015

So. . . 3rd times a charm, right?!  Looking back on this past running season, I knew I had approached my training a bit differently, than in previous seasons.  Weekly long runs were always 10+ miles, I was tackling hilly routes and had several half marathons already completed in this particular training cycle.  Leading up to the Annapolis Classic Half marathon, I had run a half in July, early September and one in the beginning of October.  I had trained hard each week in between these races, focusing on tempo runs and powering through the hills.  I felt really ready, after the hilly half marathon in early October in Vermont.  I was excited to see what would happen at the Annapolis Classic Half on November 19th, 2016. 

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Another year of running with this awesome friend! November 2016

Annapolis Classic Half Marathon-2016 Time Goal- To be honest, I really wanted to just run my best half of the training season.  “My best” being that I knew I could tackle hills and maintain a better overall pace than in previous years.  I didn’t want to get too caught up with a specific number, but at the same time, I had a range in mind.  I knew I definitely wanted a course PR.  I knew this course pretty well by now and was confident that I could conquer some previous hills that I had left me exhausted in the past.

It was a cool, clear morning.  I have learned not to “over dress” and so I was a bit chilly at the start, but knew I would warm up quickly.  Once again, my wonderful friend and running buddy, Colleen  and her husband Jim were here to run as well.  Well, Jim was running the 10k and Colleen had just run a full marathon about three weeks prior, so she was happy to run/pace me for a bit.  We met up at the start area and mingled for a bit with other runners.  Pictures were take in front of the Navy Jet Plane with all the 2016 Annapolis Classic Ambassadors   I had the opportunity to be an ambassador this year!!

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2016 Annapolis Classic Ambassadors

Fueling and Hydrating-a big difference this year!  One big important change in this training and racing cycle was hydration and fueling.  I had realized through previous races and conversations with other running friends, that I wasn’t fueling enough before and during my half marathons.  This was definitely one of the reasons, I always felt like I just “sputtered out” at mile 10 each race.  Back in early October, in Vermont I was talking with Sandra Organic Runner Mom about my issues and she encouraged me to focus on better fueling during the race.

Before and during the race fuel- Skratch Lab Fruit Drops for carbs.  I also ate a bowl of oatmeal with a bagel and banana prior to the race.  On the race course. I ate the fruit drops at miles 6 and 10.  On course, I drank water and Nuun hydration.  I walked/jogged through two water/Nuun stops along the course.

Running the Miles-  Go time and the start of the race.  Colleen and I started off together after the runners were given the go!  We cruised along through the first 5-6 miles together.  I appreciated having Colleen by my side, she always encourages me to keep my pace quick and steady.  We also caught up with Courtney (EatPrayRunDC) who was running the 10k and hoping for a strong tempo run!  She ended up nailing it and “running away” with a huge 10k PR!!

Miles 1-6-Strong, quick and steady

  • 8:27
  • 8:09
  • 8:15
  • 8:21
  • 8:20
  • 8:19

Then the Bridge, I dug down deep and reminded myself of how badly I wanted to “beat” the bridge this time.  I focused on one step at a time, kept telling myself-“you can do this, your strong, and it will only hurt till you get to the top”  At this point in the race, Colleen was ahead of me now, she was running strong and quick.  I could see her ahead of me, but the distance between us was growing.  I was once again, feeling a bit defeated, but tried to shoo away those negative feelings.  As I climbed the bridge and finally got to the top, I felt different from the previous two times I had run this race.  Yes, my mile pace had slipped, but I recovered faster and got back into a quicker pace again.  I kept pushing on, determined to maintain speed through the next several miles and few remaining hills.

Miles 7-10

  • 9:31
  • 8:57
  • 9:37
  • 8:38

There were more hills, a walk through the next water stop and a few moments of doubt and wondering “why I do this”  Then, I regained my focus, determination and sheer will to succeed.  To prove to myself that -“I am strong and capable”.  Looking back now on my mile splits, I can see where I still have more work to do, but I see hard work and mental toughness winning.

One More Time-Up and Over that Bridge-  It these moments in a race that shape our souls, remind us of why we race-because we want to constantly improve and challenge ourselves to reach our full potential.  I saw that bridge looming once again in the distance, I knew that I had to gather up all my strength and determination to  climb the hill one more time and  finish the race.  I kept thinking, “Don’t let yourself down”.

“Remove the Fear of Failure and the Impossible Becomes Possible”

Miles 10-13.1

  • 9:07
  • 8:58
  • 8:11
  • (.17) 7:40

Heart beating heavy, lungs burning and “willing” my legs to quicken the pace.  I wanted to finish fast and strong.  Power through to the end.  The finish line was within sight and  I could hear Colleen and Jim screaming for me.  I could see the time on the finish line clock.  And I could hear the words of my high school track and cross country coach, “Run Tuff”.

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The Finish Line- Those final steps, a struggle,a hard and fast effort; crossing that finish line brings a rush of adrenaline and pride.  It shows us that we can be more than we imagined we could be. 

3rd Times a Charm- Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon- finish time 1:54:07

A two minute + Course PR

Final Thoughts- I am excited and proud of myself for tackling this course for the 3rd time.  But more importantly, looking back over this entire training cycle, I see so many strengths, lessons learned and so much accomplished. This training cycle brought so much emotional and physical growth, not just in running, but in life.  I am super happy with this course PR.  It’s my second fastest half marathon time ever.  With that being said, I now want to set new goals for this distance in the spring.  I know there is more work to do and I am ready for the challenge.

Have you ever run the same race more than two times?