Friday, October 31, 2014

Caloric Expenditure Test Results

I have recently been having a difficult time making food decisions that are healthy.  I keep telling myself that I burned those calories off at the gym or on a run, but I have still been fueling my tank with crappy foods.  So I felt crappy.....almost every day for the week after Rock 'n' Roll.  That was when I received the Fleet Feet St. Louis enewsletter mentioning the caloric expenditure test and its' benefits.  I had thought about it before, but the timing was never right because I was never drawn to it as much as I was this time.

I pasted the test description from the website below so that you can read what convinced me that I needed to get it done:

Forget one-size-fits-all calorie counting. Through our Caloric Expenditure (CE) assessment, we can accurately determine your resting metabolic rate, which in turn enables us to calculate how many calories your body burns during daily activities such as sitting, eating, driving, walking, and running. Using your CE data, we can then define your personal “calorie zones,” showing how many calories you should consume daily to achieve weight loss, maintain your current weight, or adequately fuel for specific activities.

Cost of Test: $75. Cost includes CE test, printed results, goal consultation, and a sample meal plan based on your results.
Visit Duration: 45 minutes 
Test Protocol: The CE test is quick, easy, and accurate. You will sit in a relaxed position and breathe into a mask for approximately twenty minutes.  

Pre-Test Instructions:
  • It is essential that you do not eat during the 4 hours prior to your appointment time. Eating within 4 hours of your test will mandate rescheduling.
  • It is also necessary that you avoid all caffeine and caffeinated products for the 6 hours prior to your appointment.
  • Note: You are allowed to drink water or juice during your fasting period
  • No strenuous exercise 24 — 48 hours prior to test.
  • Please allow at least 12 hours minimum of passive rest before test.

So I scheduled my test for 6:45 a.m. Tuesday morning so that I could follow the fasting and exercise requirements.  The Fleet Feet staffer who administered the test was beyond knowledgeable since he was one of the coaches for the full/half marathon training programs.  He explained everything in plain English then he handed me the nose plug and the plastic tube I would be inhaling and exhaling through for about 20 minutes.  The process was awkward at first, but then I could feel my pulse and breathing adjust and slow down the longer I sat.  Before I knew it, the machine beeped and I was done.  The print out I received is below (with the height/weight info covered up of course).

He explained to me that the "How much you eat" column is really for medically-supervised weight loss.  Since this is basically the same test you would take with a dietician in a clinical setting, that information is still printed on the results.  The information I was supposed to focus on was the "What you burn" column.  So the Resting Metabolic Rate/Resting Energy Expenditure is 1,685 calories per day. That is me breathing and blinking all day so even on a day when I don't get out of bed because I am sick, I burn 1,685 calories.  The Lifestyle and Activity calories are from me getting up and walking around in the morning, showering, getting dressed, walking to my car and around the office all day, taking the stairs, etc.  The Exercise calories are the estimated calorie burn for a 30 minute walk.  I think the treadmill shows a higher number, but this is closer to my actual caloric burn. 

As he explained this to me he asked me what the My Fitness Pal site showed as my caloric goal.  I told him that I had put in my height and weight information and what I wanted to lose per week and it set my caloric goal just above 1,500 calories per day.  So if you think about it, if I just eat the 1,500 calories per day I am still burning off everything because I burn 1,685 calories just blinking and breathing.  Now let me be perfectly honest; I have not even been logging into My Fitness Pal because it will tell me the truth about my caloric intake when I enter the real crappy food that I have been eating lately.  So I have been avoiding the truth.  But even if I was right on target and consuming only the 1,500 calories it was telling me to, I still would not be consuming enough according to the Fleet Feet staffer because I am not even taking in enough calories to fuel a full 24 hours of blinking and breathing.  His argument is that when I am eating healthy and clean, I should actually be consuming more than what My Fitness Pal is telling me especially as I am training.  Your car can't run properly when the tank is empty, right?  Or when you put diesel in a vehicle that only takes unleaded, you will be stranded on the side of the road before you know it! 

I can't even tell you how clear the Fleet Feet staffer made the test results for me.  Somewhere along the lines, he also convinced me that I needed to join the winter/spring half marathon training program so that I could get my training back on track.  He was a great teacher and salesman!  Then a few days after the test, he sent me several sample meal plans that were within my NEW caloric goal.  Although I have been eating cleaner this week compared to last week, I still have not really implemented any of the changes that came to light as a result of this test.  Honestly, I haven't had much time to go grocery shopping or plan my meals.  So I am going to start easing into this next week and I will keep you posted on how it all goes.  But if you ever have the opportunity to get a caloric expenditure test done, so far I would recommend considering it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MO' Cowbell seeking more MO' Bassadors soon.....

Stay tuned for more details but St. Charles County's own MO' Cowbell races will be seeking additional MO' Bassadors in the next couple weeks.  We just discussed this tonight in our race recap meeting, so be sure to stay tuned for details.

I know what you are thinking..."I don't live in St. Louis, so I can't be a MO' Bassador even though it would be a dream come true."  Well guess what, I was thinking of you in the meeting so I mentioned how most races with ambassador programs require that you live in immediate area of the race.  I think runners from outside the St. Louis area could still make good MO' Bassadors as long as they also promote the MO' Cowbell races in their area and plan to attend either or both of our races next year to either volunteer or run (a relay May 9th and the MO' Cowbell half and full marathons and 5K the first weekend in October).

If you are interested, check out my blog posts to learn more about my experience so far and then I will post application details as soon as they send me additional information.
MO' Cowbell races as a spectator
Becoming a MO' Bassador

I am so excited for you that I may not be able to sleep tonight!  Sweet cowbell dreams.........

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

St. Louis Rock 'n' Roll Remix Challenge

I am way behind with my blog, but here we go.........

Even though this was my 4th time running the St. Louis Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, this was my first time running the half marathon as part of the Remix Challenge.  When I finished the half marathon in 2013, I had NO intention of running the race again in 2014.  But mid-year they offered such a great discount, that I couldn't say no.  A few months later, I upgraded to the marathon thinking I would be ready by October.  But sometime around the Disneyland races I decided that my schedule was just too packed to fit in the necessary training, so I downgraded back to the half marathon and lost $20 in upgrade fees in the process.  Somewhere in that time frame Rock 'n' Roll decided to offer an extra medal if you signed up for a 5K on Saturday in addition to your Sunday race.  Sold!

The expo started Friday, which was a very busy work day, but the Saturday 5K offered race day packet pick-up for the 5K only.  Yeah!  The 5K didn't start until 8:00 a.m. and packet pick-up started at 6:30 a.m.  Somehow I completely overestimated how long it would take me to get downtown, so I ended up parking in the Union Station parking lot at 6:00 a.m. with time to kill.  Once 6:30 a.m. hit, I retrieved my packet which included the race bib, timing band, Remix Challenge wristband, and the tech t-shirt below.

Start time came quickly and before I knew it, we were running.  I was conservative with the 5K knowing I was running the half marathon the next day, but plenty of runners finished after me, so I was happy.

5K Start Line
At the finish line I grabbed my medal, a bagel, a bottled water, and then I headed straight for the car.  Although this 5K was one of the larger 5K's I have run, there wasn't any traffic congestion created by the runners and spectators, so I was back home taking a nap before I knew it.  Saturday afternoon I went back into the city to walk through the expo and to pick up my half marathon packet.  Maybe you already saw this on Facebook, but I fell in love with this shirt in the "official" race merchandise area.  The love was immediate, so I had to make it mine.

If I am remembering correctly, the first St. Louis Rock 'n' Roll race in 2011 had white tech shirts.  I can't find the 2011 shirt (probably because it was a white tech shirt), but I still have 2012 and 2013 so I placed them next to the 2014 race shirt below.  I like the way they played on local St. Louis baseball culture for the 2014 shirt.
Front of 2012, 2013, and 2014 race shirts
Back of 2012, 2013, and 2014 race shirts
Sunday's race started at 7:00 a.m. and I had to find a different lot to park in due to the half/full marathon course and road closures, so I went to bed early knowing it would be an even earlier morning the next day.  For the half marathon, I ended up parking near Busch Stadium (a.k.a. Baseball Heaven) because I knew we would be running through this part of town between miles 1 and 2 so the streets would be open again by the time I was finished.  There were plenty of open space in this parking garage as well as the Ballpark Village surface lot so if the course stays pretty much the same next year, I would recommend parking near Busch to avoid post-race congestion.

I decided that I was going to listen to music during this race so I only took one photo the entire race.
Waiting for the start
Race day #2 was gorgeous and the temperature was ideal.  We ran through neighborhoods like the Grove, Washington Avenue, Lafayette Park, Grand Center, around the SLU campus, Compton Heights, and Shaw.  In the end, I was an unbelievable 16 minutes slower this year than last.  Ugh!!!!  I think I know what caused this, and I am addressing it now.  More about that in a later post.

At the finish line (once I finally made it) I received my half marathon medal.  After proceeding through the food and beverage area I exited to obtain my Remix Challenge medal.  There was no line at all for this other medal, none.  Just one very happy, and excited volunteer.  She cut off my Remix Challenge armband and gave me the extra medal, complete with a big smile and a sweet "congratulations!"

5K medal, Half Marathon medal, front of the Remix Challenge medal
Back of the Half Marathon (yes that is a bottle opener) and Remix Challenge medals
So even though I originally had no intention of running this race, then decided to run the half marathon, then upgraded to the full marathon, then downgraded back to the half marathon, then added the 5K to complete the Remix Challenge, yet finished 16 minute slower this year, I had a fun two days of running.

I would say the pros were the race shirts that really played up the St. Louis culture, the medals (the half marathon medal was actually pretty heavy), and the ease of getting in and out of downtown both race mornings.  

Cons:  The race bag this year was a generic Rock 'n' Roll race series bag, while last year's was St. Louis specific.  I still have my bag from last year as well as the city-specific bag I received at Rock 'n' Roll USA.  I am not sure if they are doing this in all cities to save money or if it was just St. Louis, but I know that they have had to cancel races in other cities, so maybe it was a cut they made to save money.  
2013 bag - St. Louis-specific
Another con, the overabundance of emails I received leading up to race day.  Even when I ran four races in four days at Disney World, I didn't receive a email for each race.  I maybe received two or three emails with links to the forms I needed to sign and the race information packet.  Yet for this race weekend that only included two races, I received:
  • 5K email
  • half marathon email
  • updated course entertainment email
  • email about "official" merchandise
  • email about how to pick up my Remix Challenge medal
  • "final information for your race weekend" email
  • a runner tracking email
  • AND "claim your finisher's beer with photo ID" email.  
I am now receiving emails about ordering photos and signing up for 2015.  Ahhh!  Even though all of this information was included in the runner packet that you could access through a link in one of the first emails, I still received emails giving me the same information again.  I have run races where I don't hear anything after I receive my registration receipt, but this was the only time I have felt like a race over-communicated their information and I don't remember this happening last year.

I had a blast last weekend and I would consider running the Rock 'n' Roll race again next year IF a bucket list race wasn't occurring on the exact same weekend. So if I end up running Rock 'n' Roll again in 2015, you will know that my plans for the bucket list race didn't come together.  

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

MO' Cowbell a spectator

Back in September I posted that I was selected as one of the MO' Bassadors for the MO' Cowbell race in St. Charles, MO.  A few weeks later I ran my 35th half marathon, and the plan was for the MO' Cowbell race to be my 36th half marathon.  But a week and a half prior to race day my uncle (step-dad's brother) was moved into hospice care.  He started declining rapidly and he passed away a few days prior to the race.  One of my duties as a MO' Bassador was to work a shift at the expo on Friday or Saturday, but the funeral was scheduled for Friday night back home.  As soon as the funeral was scheduled, I emailed the race directors to let them know that I would miss the expo and would likely miss the race.  Even if I was back in time for the race, I just didn't feel right about running the race after not working the expo.  I shouldn't have been surprised because the race directors have been nothing but amazing the entire time, but their response to my email about the funeral was nothing but kind and understanding.  They told me that I could still use my comp entry and run the half marathon, but I offered to cheer along the course instead if I was back in time.

The rest of that week was a blur.  I went home for the funeral on Friday but decided I wanted to get back Saturday night.  My mom and step-dad had both signed up for the 5k again and they had planned to spend the weekend in St. Charles with me.  But when they realized that they wouldn't be able to make it, they had one simple request which was to pick up their packets.

As I was coming back into town Saturday night, I decided to pick up poster board and markers to create a few signs.  I already had the half/full marathon course printed and a spot picked out.  I also had a few cowbells that would come in handy.  Race day morning I went to Frontier Park to pick up all of our packets an hour or so before the race.  My intent afterward was to get to this dog park where I would be able to see runners pass multiple times but due to road closures, I wasn't able to get to the park.  I settled for an area where I could park and be right at Mile 12 but walk to Mile 1.  I was the first one to this spot and I quickly became knowledgeable about the other road closures as people started asking me for directions.  Luckily I came prepared with a map in hand!  Eventually others realized it was a prime location and a crowd had formed by the time the mass of runners started coming through that stretch.  After the long week I had, shaking cowbells (yes I shook two at once) and holding a sign to cheer on the runners just made me happy and cheered me up.  I think I just needed to be on the other side for a race to give myself a break and refocus.  I got a lot of smiles and thank you's as the runners passed by.  I can't explain why, but it just ended up being a good way to end one week and start another.  This experience also made me so proud to be associated with race that has such amazing and understanding directors, staff, volunteers, and MO' Bassadors.  I am really glad that I had this opportunity and I look forward to promoting MO' Cowbell's 2015 races!

The sign I had at Mile 1
The sign I had at Mile 12 (right before the downhill).  My favorite sign because this is what I tell myself!
Runners at Mile 1
LOVED their sign!
Random sign at Mile 12
Mile 12 with most of the crowd behind me
A nice downhill before the Half and Full course split