Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Race Report: Greasy-Gooney 10k

Looking back, the last race I have done this year was the Eastern Divide 50k in June! Yea, life's been a little hectic these past few months. Now that we're settling down in our new home, I am looking forward to adding races back into the schedule, including the Richmond Marathon in less than 2 weeks!

This past weekend Jordan and I decided to race an impromptu 10k near Front Royal, VA. The Greasy-Gooney 10k is unique in that it's 3 miles uphill, followed by 3 miles of downhill. Both fun and torturous in one great experience! We did this race last year and I remember hating the first 3 miles, but loving every second of the downhill that followed. This year was no different.

Greasy-Gooney 10k Elevation Profile
Race morning I remember being particularly grumpy. I was tight, stiff and hurting still from my 21 mile long run just 6 days earlier, and we had woken up at 5 am to make the 2 hour trip from Lexington, VA.  While Jordan was telling me that I should "try to win" for the females, I was approaching this race as a means of a good tempo workout and nothing more. After changing out of our pajamas (yes, we wore our pj's to the race site), we went for a longer warm-up of about 3 miles.

At the race start, we chatted with some of our Winchester friends that we had not seen in a while, many of which will also be running in Richmond! It helped to put me at ease. Finally, the gun went off and I took off towards the front. To my surprise, I felt particularly good on the first mile! It seemed to fly by, but after clocking a 7:04, I backed off knowing that the next two miles ahead were much more difficult. Mile two was a 7:45 and I could feel my muscles fatiguing. My three, the steepest mile of the course, was a struggle to keep moving. Last year I clocked a 9:45 during the third mile, this year I was three seconds slower in 9:48. A sure sign that I need to add more hill workouts into my training plan. Overall I made it to the top in 25:44, one minute faster than last year.

Now the fun part...downhill! I love downhills. In a few weeks I will be crewing Jordan for the Hellgate 100k and the last 3 miles of the course to the finish is all downhill. We fly through this portion and I love it! Anyways, I took off chasing the runners ahead of me. Mile 4 flew by (655), but miles 5 (6:39) and 6 (7:02) seemed to drag as my body grew more fatigued from the overall pace. By the 5.5 mile mark, I was more than ready to be done! I hung on for all it was worth and ended up clocking a 20:59 for my 2nd 5k! Yea!  20:59 is the fastest 5k of the year for me, so I was more than happy with my race after seeing that! My overall time of 46:44 was a full minute faster than my 2011 performance... Seeing that I have not been doing any speed related workouts, I'll take it!!

For awards, Jordan took 1st overall male and I took first place female 25-29. A good day for the Chang household!!

Revisiting the same races each year can be a great way to measure progress. While the 2012 racing season is quickly drawing to a close, I am looking forward to 2013 with hopes that I will continue to improve and become a stronger, faster runner.

The beautiful country scenary of Browntown makes this race a delight.
Photo courtesy of Karsten Brown

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cryotherapy... Not Just for Elites!

This past Sunday was my final long run in training for the Richmond Marathon. Woohoo! It's taper time!

When I came home, after eating and stretching, I filled up the tub with cold water and added 20lbs worth of ice for my routine ice bath. I know it does not sound very fun at all, and I'm going to come go ahead and admit it, but I HATE cold water with a passion. Especially in the winter months, it takes some lengthy pep talks on my part to get myself into a tub of ice water (just ask my husband). Even so, I've been doing this weekly basis because it has been a huge help in keeping me injury free over the past year. With marathon #4 for 2012 coming up in 3 weeks, that's a big deal for me!

Second to nutrition and rest, ice baths (aka cryotherapy) are an effective way to recover from the damaging effects of a run. Why is it effective? This is because the cold water in an ice bath constricts blood vessels and reduces metabolic activity to reduce the swelling and tissue breakdown common with hard or lengthy bouts of exercise. Upon exiting the ice bath, blood flow to the legs is increased in a manner that helps to flush out toxins produced during the run and jump start the healing process.

The result? Less soreness, reduced recovery time and reduced risk of injury!

Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

  • An ice bath doesn't need to be below 40 degrees. Usually 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient.
  • Aim to spent 8-15 minutes max in the water.
  • Wear a sweatshirt and drink something warm to prevent your upper body from getting too cold. Have something to keep your mind occupied rather than staring at the clock!
  • Use some sort of stick to circulate the water while you are sitting there. This keeps it refreshingly chill.
  • Buying weekly bags of ice can get expensive, so I recommend freezing a bunch of old water bottles to achieve your desired temperature. Also, a cold stream, lake or nearby river can be equally effective!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Do You Journal?

A few days ago I was running some errands and found myself wandering through Barnes and Noble. It's rare that I get out to go shopping so it was a nice treat to just spend some time browsing! I found myself in the journal/notebook section and stumbled across this beauty. Being a bike enthusiast, it was love at first sight! I took it home without hesitation and knew exactly what I would use it for: to start up a new food journal.

I will be the first to admit that my eating routine has been less than stellar lately. Since my spring marathon, we have moved (count it) 4 times! Amongst that I have been traveling most weekends for work and as a result, have developed the habit of eating out of convenience, not really monitoring portion sizes and eating when stressed/bored.

Food journaling is associated with a number of positive benefits. Even if you are not strictly tracking calories, it can help to:

Keep you accountable
The most important action one can take when trying to lose weight is to keep a food diary. 
According to The National Weight Control Registry, keeping a food journal is the one of the main strategies used by the majority of successful dieters. Other research studies have shown that the best predictor of weight loss throughout the first year was the number of food records kept per week. 

Recognize eating patterns
It's one of the best ways to increase awareness of and correct emotional eating habits.

Track your progress, and make adjustments over time
Trying to lose weight but the scales not budging? Refer to your food journal to identify underlying nutritional pitfalls. Whether you're eating too large of portion sizes or grazing more than you intend, a food journal is an effective way to correct negative habits.

Share information
Sharing a food journal with a dietitian or other qualified healthcare provider is a great way to receive the most effective counseling for future improvements!

Happy Journaling!

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