Sunday, November 27, 2016

Turkey Trot STL - St. Charles course

On Thanksgiving Day 2015, I ran the Hungry Turkey 5k race held in downtown St. Louis prior to the Thanksgiving Day parade. Because there are so many Turkey Trots in the St. Louis metro area, I decided to try a different location in 2016, so I signed up for the Turkey Trot STL - St. Charles course.  The St. Charles race started and ended at the Family Arena and although the course was not scenic compared to the Hungry Turkey race, I wanted to try a race in my old neighborhood.  

Race Highlights:
  • Great pre-race communication with weather prediction, parking information, directions, and race day instructions
  • Packet pick-up available on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Fleet Feet store or on race day
  • Multiple swag options including the option to receive a $10 gift card instead of swag (which I chose since I need new Adrenalines!)
  • No official corrals or wave start, but there was an attempt made to line people up by pace
  • Plenty of porta potties
  • Personalized post-race email with your finish time
  • Many runners dress up for this race
  • All ages and paces seemed to be represented
  • 3,000 finishers in the St. Charles race alone
  • Post race snacks were distributed through two tents with multiple lines each for chocolate milk, bananas, granola bars, and pastries

Waiting to start!

The only down sides to this race were:
  • Congestion for most of the course due to the width of the course and by people not lining up by their correct pace. I ended up running on the other side of the posts because I could not pass otherwise.
  • Getting into the parking lot was easy, leaving was not.  There are so many parking lots around downtown St. Louis that leaving the Hungry Turkey race in 2015 was a breeze, even with the traffic for the parade that followed the race.  But at this Turkey Trot in St. Charles, it took me almost as long to exit the parking lot as it did to run the race (and you know that I am not fast).  Now patience is a virtue, so be sure to pack your patience if you run this race and remember to be kind. 😊
I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  Until next time...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#WellnessWednesday - Heart Rate Based Training Clinic at Big River Running

Last Thursday evening, I took a class called Treading at NutriFormance gym.  Pasted below is the class description:

An instructor will cue you through changing intensity levels by manipulating speeds and simulating a variety of terrain. Take your treadmill workout to the next level. Heart rate monitors are recommended.

My trusty Polar heart rate monitor shows that during the 45 minute class, I burned 800 calories (including pre-workout warm-up and post-workout cool down)!  My average heart rate was 155 and my maximum heart rate hit 185 beats per minute.  The Treading class was tough and left me sweaty and breathless.  Even though the other participants around me were running at faster paces, I never felt left out or like I was behind in any way.  In addition to being a great class, it was also a perfect way to kill time before the Heart Rate Based Training Clinic at Big River Running - West County, which was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. 

At some point, my name and phone number were added to the marketing list for Orangetheory Fitness because I get a call from one of their St. Louis area locations about once each month.  Every time they call, I am offered a free class if I wanted to come in and check it out.  Why don't I take advantage of this offer?  From what I have read, my Polar heart rate monitor would not be compatible with their system, so I would have to purchase their heart rate monitor.  No thanks!  I am still intrigued by Orangetheory's workouts and heart rate zone training, so this workshop was a perfect way to get more information without being pressured to purchase a membership.

The presenters for this workshop included a personal trainer/coach and a manager from one of the St. Louis area Orangetheory Fitness studios.  The personal trainer/coach started by telling us about the many benefits of high intensity interval training, especially for runners (see below).  My notes just quote the trainer when he said that running longer doesn't make you faster; running faster will make you a faster runner.  

The trainer then explained the different training zones used at Orangetheory Fitness and how to calculate the lower and upper limits for your zones:

I used the first and simplest formula from the options above and then I noted my lower and upper limits for each zone on our handouts.

In order to take advantage of the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) effect that Orangetheory bases their workouts on, you must stay in Zone 4 or the Orange Zone for 12-20 minutes during your workout.  By meeting that goal, you have a greater EPOC effect which means that you end up burning more calories in the 24-hours following your workout than if you had stayed in Zone 1, 2, or 3 the entire time.  I personally love seeing the number of calories that I burned during my workout, so knowing that I could be burning even more post-workout was exciting news!

Since I had just completed the Treading class, I had a great example to compare to the Heart Rate Zones from Orangetheory.  My Polar heart rate monitor has three intensity zones rather than Heart Rate Zones, but they are adjustable and similar to the five Heart Rate Zones above.  

  • Intensity Zone 1 = 93 - 101 beats per minute
  • Intensity Zone 2 = 102 - 138 beats per minute
  • Intensity Zone 3 = 139 - 175 beats per minute

During the Treading class for example, I stayed in intensity zone 3 for 46 minutes, intensity zone 2 for 6 minutes, and intensity zone 1 for 6 minutes.  So although my Polar intensity zones don't compare apples-to-apples with the Heart Rate Zones, I am going to assume that at least 12 of those 46 minutes were spent in Zone 4/Orange Zone, meaning that I was able to take advantage of the EPOC effect.

Going forward, I may adjust the intensity zones on my Polar heart rate monitor to more closely match the Heart Rate Zones so that I can make sure I stay in Zone 4/Orange Zone for at least 12 minutes.  Now that I know about the EPOC effect, I want to achieve it as often as possible!

This workshop was definitely worth my time, especially since I have my own heart rate monitor.  Without a heart rate monitor, I think I would have been a bit lost without that basis for comparison.  I LOVE my Polar heart rate monitor and it syncs with a most of the cardio machines at the various gyms I visit, but there are other brands out there.  Orangetheory Fitness has gyms located throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Check out their list of studios here.  I believe all locations will give you the first class free, so check them out if you have the chance.  

Weekly Goals:
  1. Plan meals for the week days - 50% Met - Still struggling but I did at least opt for the lower fat/healthier options when purchasing items for our Thanksgiving meal.
  2. Practice Yoga at least once per week - 0% Met - I downloaded the Down Dog app but haven't had time to use it yet. I know.  It should be so easy, yet I make it seem so impossible.
  3. Run at least twice per week - GOAL MET  - I took the Treading class and a treadmill class at Shred415 this week.  
  4. Foam roll at least once per week - GOAL MET - I foam rolled once last week and again this morning.
  5. Attend a boot camp at least once per week - GOAL MET - YES!!!!  I am double counting the Shred415 class here because we were on the treadmill half the class and then at weight stations the other half,  I took a boot camp at a gym near my house this morning too.

Have a great Thanksgiving and good luck to everyone running Turkey Trots tomorrow!!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

#WellnessWednesday - FREE class at Sweat Gym

If you didn't know this about me already, I LOVE Groupon because saving money is an absolute thrill for me.  Every few days I scroll through the deals and if they meet my criteria of either being a good deal or something/someplace I have wanted to try but didn't want to pay full price for, I will make a purchase.

Several of my Facebook friends have checked in or mentioned a gym in Clayton, MO called Sweat.  It is a boxing gym that also offers personal training, corrective exercise, massage therapy, and nutrition counseling.  When I saw the Groupon offering four weeks of unlimited boxing classes for $39 instead of the normal $80, I clicked "purchase" right away.

The next day I emailed Sweat to see how I could get started with the Groupon and they informed me that my first class was FREE and did not count against my Groupon.  In fact, EVERYONE gets their first class free.

I decided that I wanted to go ahead and use my free class this past Saturday at 9 a.m. for the Punchers Class.  I selected this class in particular because it is supposed to teach you:

I have taken boxing boot camps before but I still could not tell you the difference between a jab, cross, hook, etc. and I wanted to learn the difference so that I will eventually look like I know what I am doing during class.  I showed up 15 minutes early as recommended, and the trainer told me that it would be a full class.  Just before 9:00 a.m. we all walked into a rectangular-shaped classroom with punching bags hanging from the ceiling.  When the trainer said that it would be a full class, I thought he meant that every bag in the room would be in use by one participant.  What he actually meant was that we would have to double up, if not triple up per bag.

Once everyone found a spot, we started throwing punches.  The trainer would tell us which punches to throw in the combinations, but I still felt like I was winging it.  As I looked around the class, some people knew what they were doing and were very serious about it while others were in the same boat as me.  Regardless of whether my "jab" was actually a jab instead of a hook, I burned over 700 calories during class and I was exhausted!

My Groupon expires at the end of December, so I am going to wait to activate my four weeks of unlimited classes until after my trip to DC.  I will keep you posted on how that goes!

What is provided at Sweat:  
  • Showers are available but bring own towels
  • Workout towels are available at the desk
  • A few pairs of boxing gloves area available at the desk
What to bring to Sweat:
  • Water, but you could purchase a bottle of water if you forget your own.
  • Boxing gloves if you have your own (I personally do not like sharing those)
  • A great attitude!  You may have to share your bag with someone else and you will all be working out in a small room together.  You will see all levels of boxing skills in class, so don't be intimidated.
  • Be ready to WORK!  Sweat's boxing classes = a high calorie burn.

Weekly Goals:
  1. Plan meals for the week days - 50% Met - I am slowly getting better at this.  When I don't have a plan or a quick/delicious option ready to go, I am easily persuaded to select a not-so-healthy option.  This week was still around 50% successful.
  2. Practice Yoga at least once per week - 0% Met - I just didn't find the time this past week to fit it in.  I really need to just download an app or have a dvd on stand-by so I don't have ANY excuses anymore! 
  3. Run at least twice per week - GOAL MET  - I took a treadmill boot camp class and ran a 5k this weekend.
  4. Foam roll at least once per week - GOAL MET - I foam rolled last night after a cycling class and this morning after a boot camp.
  5. Attend a boot camp at least once per week - GOAL MET - YES!!!!  Last Friday I took a treadmill boot camp class, Saturday morning was my free class at Sweat, and this morning I attended another boot camp.  
I feel like this past week has been very successful and I feel more motivated to work out because I love seeing how many calories I burned during class.  Now I just need to keep the ball rolling and plan more of my meals and find a no-excuses way to fit yoga into my week.

Have a great week and weekend!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Litchfield, IL Route 66 5k

I set a new 5k PR for the year this morning!

All year I have been finishing 5k's in 42-ish minutes.  The MO' Cowbell 5K was my fastest this year at 39:01.  Last weekend's Veterans Day 5k time was 40:24 and the Cahokia Mounds trail run was over 43 minutes due to the difference in terrain.  Last night and this morning, I thought about walking the 5k because I was sore from the boot camp classes I took Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  They had a high calorie burn but they left me sore and wondering if that soreness would negatively affect my 5k time.  But as it turned out, the soreness didn't affect my time today and I finished in 37:39!

I had signed up for the half marathon originally, but I was not properly trained so I switched to the 5k.  The last time I ran the half marathon here was in 2014 and I LOVED it!  This year, both my mom and my step-dad met me for the race.  Litchfield is about an hour from St. Louis and an hour from my hometown in Illinois, so it is a nice place to meet up with my family for a race.

We ate dinner at the historic Ariston Cafe again and stayed at the Quality Inn again just like we did in 2014.  I highly recommend staying at the Quality Inn because you only have a 5 minute walk to the start/finish line.  This is the only race I have run where I was able to get up 45 minutes prior to the race start because I didn't have to worry about driving and parking.  You really can't beat that!

This is a smaller race, but I love the hometown feel.  Packet pick-up was at the Holiday Inn and it only took a few minutes per person to get our packets.  This year is the 66th anniversary of the Skyview Drive In theater in Litchfield, so we received an iron-on patch at packet pick-up with our long-sleeved shirt.  This year, the 5k racers also received medals and they had a drive in movie theater theme that is really unique.  The course took you by Ariston Cafe and on Route 66.  It was an out-and-back course, which made it great for the spectators too.

Race day packet pick-up was available and was located right in between the start and the finish line.  There were four porta potties at the start/finish area which seemed to be enough for the runners and spectators.  The day started with a 1-mile dash, followed by the half marathon start, and finally the 5k start.

Give this race a try in 2017 if you haven't had the opportunity to experience it yet.  Check the Racemaker Productions website for all of their upcoming races and be sure to like their page on Facebook for updates and discount codes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

#WellnessWednesday - Week 1

My first week of setting goals and actually working towards something was mostly successful and I learned a lot about myself and ended up trying new things.  The one goal I need to work on is my meal planning because when I end up working later than anticipated or anything else unplanned pops up, it throws me off.  I have a feeling this will be the goal that will elude me the most.

When I hurt my back last Spring, I started doing Yoga at home with videos we could stream through our Roku box.  I thought that I wanted to start practicing Yoga at my gym since it was a free class, but I found it difficult to relax and unwind because people around me were coughing, I was too worried about how I looked in poses because everyone else seemed to move much more gracefully, and I could hear other members boxing in the adjacent room.  It's all in my own head but I think I will stick to the at-home videos for now so that I feel more comfortable and don't have to wait around for a scheduled class.

Goal three was to run more and I actually ran more this week than I had in a LONG time!  I found a great running group through that meets Thursday evenings.  The paces range, which is what I was hoping for since I am currently slow.  The assistant organizer actually ran with me most of the way, and it made me run faster that I would have made myself run which was the goal of joining a running group.  I can't make it every Thursday, but I am planning on going again this week.  This weekend was also rare in that I had two races planned, so I ended up running three 5k's this week.  I need to stay motivated on weekends and weekdays that I don't have a running group or a race, so that is something that I need to dig a bit deeper into.

Although Goal four was met, it was only because I JUST remembered that I needed to complete it.  It needs to become habitual, but I may try to attend another foam rolling class to remind myself why it is so important.

Goal five was to attend at least one boot camp, which I met before the weekend.  The plan was actually to have gone to several this week but that didn't happen.  Again, I need to set a plan and stick to it as if I were going to be charged a cancellation fee if I don't go.

So for next week, my goals are the same but I am going to tweak how I approach them.  I think they were all attainable, so I am not going to decrease or increase anything for now.

Weekly Goals:
  1. Plan meals for the week days - I was only 50% successful at this, so hopefully week 2 will be better.
  2. Practice Yoga at least once per week - GOAL MET - I took a 90 minute Yoga class Saturday but found out that practicing at home works better for me, so that is what I will do for week 2.
  3. Run at least twice per week - GOAL MET -  I actually ran three 5k's this week between a new group run and two races.
  4. Foam roll at least once per week - GOAL MET - I only just completed this goal this morning, so I will still try to be better for Week 2.
  5. Attend a boot camp at least once per week - GOAL MET 
I have another 5k scheduled for this weekend, so you will likely see a race recap before the next #WellnessWednesday.  Have a great week and weekend!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

City of the Sun 5k Trail Run

Today I ran another 5k, the City of Sun 5k Trail Run at Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site.  I had multiple alarms set due to the time change this morning, but I ended up over-estimating the time it would take me to get to Cahokia Mounds and it only took me 30 minutes!  When I was pulling into the visitor's center, the adjacent field had a family of deer quietly grazing in it.  It was so quiet and peaceful at that time of morning.

The race didn't start until 9 a.m. but packet pick-up and race day registration began at 8 a.m.  There was plenty of parking adjacent to the visitor's center and start line and plenty of real restrooms within the visitor's center.  Packet pick-up was quick and easy and although there were no race shirts, our goodie bags were filled with numerous coupons, a sample of biofreeze, a temporary tattoo, a Cahokia Mounds Museum Society labeled armband for your smart phone, AND a coupon for 1 Free iPod tour that is good until 12/31/2017!

The race started promptly at 9 a.m. after a few announcements about the course.  I knew this was a trail run when I signed up, but it didn't really dawn on me that I might be running through mud, which is exactly what they told us to expect in the pre-race announcements.  Luckily I had packed extra clothes, shoes, and socks just in case.

The first part of the course was on a sidewalk, then we transferred to a rock trail, and then eventually to a grass and dirt trail.  We were spread out enough so that the width of the trail was never an issue.  We didn't start encountering standing water until half way though the race, but there were several areas with large puddles.  At first I tried walking in the prairie grass around the puddles but eventually my shoes became soaked so I just went straight through them.  I rarely run on nature trails like this so my ankles started feeling sore towards the end of the course.  Around mile 2.5 or so we transitioned back to rock and then to concrete.  After running on much softer, natural surfaces for most of the course, the concrete sidewalk actually felt horrible under my feet as we approached the finish line.  As we neared mile 3, you could hear the cheering from the runners who had already finished.  The finish line was different from any other race I have run because women finished on one side and men on the other.  Then they tore a piece off of your bib that you had written your name and age on so that they could register your results since there was no timing strip on the bibs themselves.

Post race food included water, Gatorade, fruit, and Gus' Pretzels.  Awards seemed to follow shortly after I finished and my super fast friend ended up getting 1st place in our age group!  I should have taken a picture, but her award medal was really nice.

We had both driven over from St. Louis County and since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to walk around and learn more about this historic site after we changed into our clean shoes and clothes.  We walk by many of the smaller mounds and climbed to the top on Monk's Mound, which offers a great view of the St. Louis skyline.

We opted not to use our Free iPod tour coupon so that we could come back another day and spend more time going through the visitor's center, but we ended up walking the trails until around Noon. We will definitely be back to learn more about this Illinois State Park and World Heritage Site.

I really enjoyed this race and it was a nice change of scenery and terrain (despite the mud).  The 2017 date is November 5 in case you would like to check it out next year!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Veterans Day 5k Recap

This morning I went to downtown St. Louis to run the Veterans Day 5k.  Normally I pay to park at Union Station for all of my races downtown, but the race director suggested exiting at 14th Street and utilizing street parking.  I ended up finding free parking behind St. Louis City Hall, which was right by the start/finish.

I arrived a lot earlier than I needed to and I had already picked up my packet, so I sought out a coffee shop to kill time.  Google maps led me to Mississippi Mud Coffee Roasters.  Not only did they have coffee on a chilly morning, but the space also doubled as an art gallery, AND they had a real restroom so I could avoid the porta potty lines.  If you get a chance, I recommend giving this place a try.

As I crossed Kaufman Park heading back to the start/finish I came across plenty of porta potties, National Guard vehicles and staff, race day packet pick-up and registration, several food trucks, the post race snack tents, as well as several vendors.  The area was not crowded at all and it was a breeze getting to the start line.  After the National Anthem and some announcements, we were off and running.

Race Highlights:
  • Long sleeve tech shirts
  • Great pre-race communication
  • Plenty of volunteer support
  • The course had some hills, but they weren't the steepest hills downtown
  • Friday night packet pick-up or race day packet pick-up
  • Plenty of parking available near start/finish
  • Post race food included water, chocolate milk, bananas, granola bars
  • Food trucks selling food
  • Kids Dash and 1 mile run options
  • Veterans Day Ceremony and Parade followed shortly after the races

Overall this was a great race and I would do it again.  Be sure to thank our veterans for their service and have a great Veterans Day!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#WellnessWednesday - Making a Plan

Since I had enough runners use my MO' Bassador code for registration in any of the MO' Cowbell races, I earned a free race entry for the 2016 races and I could have used that entry for a marathon, half marathon, or 5k entry.  At the beginning of 2016, I had planned on registering for the half marathon, but my training has been non-existent as I have been trying to fully bounce back from my spring back injury that occurred after a year of dealing with plantar fasciitis.  I had actually signed up for several half marathons this fall, but eventually I decided to just "call a spade a spade" and admit that I needed to downgrade to the 5k at all those races.  Luckily I had registered so early for all those races that I beat the price increases and didn't end up losing much money, if any at all.

I knew I needed a plan going forward if I was ever going to get back to the fitness level I was at in 2014 and the years prior.  I felt like I have just been winging it ever since then.

One of the very first running blogs I came across when I started blogging was Road Runner Girl.  Her blog is not only an easy read, but I really like the way that she lists her goals for each week in her Weekly Chase posts on Mondays.  She gives us a recap of whether or not she met her goals from last week and then she lists her goals for the current week.  Some goals will stay the same week-to-week, but others change depending on what she is training for and what is going on in her life.  At first, I thought that was a bold move to put your goals out there for everyone to see, but then I realized that it was a great way to hold yourself accountable.

There it is, the definition of accountability in plain English.
  • Have I been holding myself accountable for my training?  NO
  • Have I been making excuses to skip workouts and runs?  YES
  • Have my excuses been very clever at times?  SURE
  • When I eat unhealthy food or eat too much food do I avoid documenting it in My Fitness Pal because I don't want to see how those poor choices actually affect me?  DEFINITELY
Wow!  I think Road Runner Girl was on to something.  Somehow writing down the truth is therapeutic because I can't hide it from myself anymore.  

So here are my goals for this week.  I am sure I will tweak them along the way, but this is where I am going to start:
  1. Plan meals for the week days (no more winging it)
  2. Practice Yoga at least once per week (my legs have been so tight which is still affecting my lower back)
  3. Run at least twice per week (need to run consistently again and stay motivated)
  4. Foam roll at least once per week (I have take the class through Fleet Feet twice now)
  5. Attend a boot camp at least once per week 
So now we start Week 1 on a #WellnessWednesday.  I will check back in next Wednesday to let you know how I did.