Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week in Review (September 9 - September 15)

Tuesday - Did intervals during lunch. After work, I went with L and my dad to get new iPhones. We all have the 4S and decided to save a ton of money and just upgrade to the 5S. Which honestly, is pretty sweet compared to what I had. Got in another few miles after that.
Wednesday - Fun night at run club! Newton was the sponsor and I tried the new "Aha" - which I didn't especially love. A bit more narrow in the toe box, so not for me.
Thursday - Like last year on September 11, I ran 9.11 miles. Always lacking in time, I had to split my run into two segments, during lunch and after work.
Friday - Shockingly, pizza and beer.
Saturday - Up early to do a trail run on North Table. It was CHILLY, and I actually wore long sleeves for this run! It was in the upper 30's when I left the house and only mid 40's when I finished. 
After breakfast and a quick shower, we headed up to Mount Falcon for a hike with A's Girl Scout troop.

Sunday - Nothing.
Monday - 4.1 mile progressive run on the treadmill during lunch. CHAOS after work.

If Target can put out the Halloween candy, I can start wearing Halloween apparel
Weekly Miles Run - 30.11 (very high considering I had no races)
Minutes of Cross Training - 60
Minutes of Strength - None

Weekly Loss - 2.2 (117.6) 
  • When I for REAL use the FitBit how it is intended (logging EVERY calorie) and not going under, I can apparently lose a bit of weight. (FYI, I am certainly still eating, calories for each day: T-1615, W-1390, T-1697, F-1851, S-2577, S-1627, M-1741).
  • Like I learned the last time I wanted to lose a few pounds, nothing has to be CUT OUT... just don't be unreasonable (which sometimes is hard, I am for REAL a bottomless pit).
Everything Else
  • We are having a lot of fun with Batman Sour. He seems to be mellowing out (sort of).
  • Wish me luck - I have that interview... tomorrow!
  • I have been selected to be an Orange Mud ambassador! You have seen my posts about my sweet jet pack, and now the benefit is that I can offer a discount to you! Order yours here and code BECKASPEEPS will save you 10%!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

FitBit Flex (Product Review)

*Disclaimer* - I purchased this item and have received no compensation for this review.

For the technical specs - visit to the FitBit website.

I'm going to do this a bit different than my normal product reviews with a basic list of pros and cons. I have been using the FitBit for 5 or 6 weeks now, I really wanted to get a sense of what it does and doesn't do before I wrote this.

Good

  • It is EASY to use. I have the FitBit flex, which basically looks like those rubber bracelets everyone wears. So fashionable. I am currently wearing a black band, but I have a few replacement bands in various colors on order.

  • The actual tracking device is teeny tiny. It easily slides into the super sweet "bracelet"

  • The FitBit Flex is WATERPROOF. I have never taken it off for showering or when I went to the hot springs in Glenwood. Not super sure on use while swimming as I don't do that :D
  • I like that I don't really have to DO anything for it work. There is an iPhone app and you can either set it to sync manually or all day long. I have mine set to sync all day, which drains the battery a bit more, but updates many times a day. Below are views from the website on the computer and the app.

Computer

  • The FitBit works Garmin Connect. That means that it I am not "duplicating" anything with the use of this app. In the event I actually do some running outside - where the "Track exercise" tab is a time/calorie burn will appear. The FitBit steps will be offset by the calories burned by running (If I burned 3000 for the day from steps, it would subtract the Garmin calories from that number to not duplicate calorie burn).
  • The FitBit also syncs directly with My Fitness Pal (food tracking app). I only enter the food I eat into My Fitness Pal and then FitBit tells me my calories consumed and the amount of calories I have left, based on the goals that I program in. Initially, to lose the 10 pounds I've gained in the last 6 months, I put in the most difficult - 1000 calorie deficit. I have since adjusted to 500 calorie deficit and it doesn't make me feel like crying.
  • The FitBit also tracks sleep patterns, which I actually find pretty interesting. Apparently I actually fall asleep pretty quickly, and other than a small amount of tossing and turning, I sleep pretty well. (So why am I so tired getting an average of 7.5-8 hours a night)?
  • I really like the "friend" aspect of FitBit. You friend people either via email or Facebook and  you can compete for number of steps. (All other information is usually private, i.e. - weight and weight loss goals). I currently am in "competition" with Dave Mari and L. L is a machine and I likely will never beat her. I couldn't even catch her the week I ran a marathon and she only ran a half. It is a big motivator to keep moving.
  • The battery charges pretty fast. I have never let it go below "medium" charge, but like most electronics, the charger plugs into a USB and I have it in my car and every other day I am able to fully charge on my morning commute.
  • You can change all of your goals as often as you want. (Number of steps, miles, etc.)
  • You can use the FitBit for alarms, although I have not used that function.
Not So Great
  • The battery life kinda sucks. It is supposed to last 5 days, although I don't think mine has ever gotten close to that. Part of that is probably because I have mine set on all day sync.
  • IT IS ADDICTING. For real, I am obsessed with this stupid thing.
  • Price - a bit steep at $99... You can probably get one used, as I bet most people that invest in one give up after a while.
  • Be aware that this is NOT 100% accurate. I should not even have to say that, but lets be real. There is no GPS in this device and I have yet to have the mileage come within 5-10% of what I am running. I feel that might be a good thing, as it is underestimating my movement.
  • Steps - I find that they are probably under, if anything. Especially on the treadmill. Again, same, better to underestimate I think.
  • As far as calories "remaining" - the number does not match what My Fitness Pal says. Not sure which is more "accurate" - just know they aren't the same.
Overall Thoughts
  • Just like any other product, the FitBit can be a useful tool for either weight loss or just getting your butt off the couch. BUT YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO USE IT....
  • Related: Although I personally have not lost any weight while using it, L has lost 6 pounds (as of last weekend) since we got these the first week in August. In all fairness, I am not really using as a weight loss tool, and on days I overindulge, I do not log all my calories.
  • I really do like the FitBit... if it can help keep me in check, I will keep using it.
With that said - if you want to friend me, find me on Facebook :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week in Review (September 2 - September 8)

Tuesday - Nothing. Recovering from the marathon.
Wednesday- BodyPump.
Thursday - Easy intervals on the treadmill during lunch, 7 miles after work.
Friday - Pizza and beer. Made exponentially better by meeting up with Jessa for a drink before heading home.


Saturday - Black Squirrel half marathon.

After lunch, A and I headed to my friends house in the mountains to celebrate her son's 17th birthday. A great evening of way too much food. (There were SIX cheesecakes there and I sampled FOUR of them...)
Sunday - Nothing in the morning other than doing some grocery shopping. Spent the afternoon with Jessa planning our NYC trip and watching the Cowboys get massacred. Jessa taught A how to crochet (not a skill I care to have).



Monday - Intervals on the treadmill during lunch and after work - CHAOS.

Weekly Miles Run - 27.51
Minutes of Cross Training - 60
Minutes of Strength - 60

Weekly Loss - 1.8 (119.8)

  • I don't even know how this is possible. I ate EVERYTHING this week.
  • Related - coming soon, maybe the end of this week, I will post my review of the FitBit Flex that I have been using for the last five weeks or so.
Everything Else
  • I am bummed that I have to wait another few weeks for the new iPhone. I  have had mine for a few years and recently mine decided it no longer wants to play audio. At all. It's so awful not having  my handy Netflix when I'm on the treadmill. #FirstWorldProblems
  • I recently applied for a job that would be PERFECT for me. Within a few hours of sending my resume, I got a reply asking when I was available for an interview. That was last Thursday. I sent a follow-up email at 8 this morning (Tuesday), and have heard nothing. WOMP, WOMP, WOMP.
  • Related: My firm hired YET ANOTHER Partner, and guess what, I work for him too... My head might explode.
  • Cold weather is coming to Colorado. Our high on Friday is supposed to be mid 50's. THE HIGH. What. I'm not ready.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Black Squirrel Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, September 6
Ft. Collins, CO
Half Marathon #116
Colorado Half #52
Weather - Cool and foggy

The Black Squirrel half marathon was on my list right after it was announced. Unfortunately, last year we were already signed up for something so we missed the inaugural. This is ranked as a pretty tough trail race. I knew it was going to be a relatively long day going into it, but I love trails.

I assumed the race was about an hour away, but after mapping it, turns out it was 90 minutes away. With a 7 am start, we were VERY lucky that my dad was willing to come over to watch the kids at 4:50 in the morning. The drive up was uneventful until we got up near the Horsetooth Reservoir, where we had two different herds of deer crossing and/or standing in the road. Oh, deer!
We were technically carpooling so we should have been permitted to park in the special lot right at the start, but we were routed along with everyone else to park on the road.

We arrived at about 6:30, and used the bathroom before walking over to pick up our packets. Saw a pretty nice sunrise while we were standing in line.


Foggy morning out on the Horsetooth Reservoir
After getting our bibs, we had to run back to the car, grab the rest of our gear and then head back over to the start. By the time we got back we had just a minute to use the bathroom again, and then we lined up and were off.

At the start - you can see how bright our socks were (L is in the neon pink socks)
I lined up pretty close to the back, which turned out well since I had the fire calves right from the beginning. The first mile or so was just on the road and pretty flat. Gave us all a chance to find our pace prior to getting on the single track. I had to walk a lot in the beginning because my calves felt like they were going to explode. By the time we started the climb there were only 3-4 people behind me. I didn't mind. I know I struggle on the climbs, so my goal was to take some pictures, take it easy and pass people one by one.

Running into the fog
Hundreds of tiny runners up on the switchbacks
View looking back down towards the start

I didn't start passing people until maybe 3 or so miles in. I managed to pass a few ladies on the last set of switchbacks on the way up. An older lady out walking her dogs was right on my heels for about a half mile. HOW AM I SO OUT OF SHAPE??

Dying on the uphills
Fog FOREVER - I bet the view was amazing....

We finally get to the aid station - I think about 4.5-5 miles in. Most of the hard part is out of the way. We have moved from single track to a road. It is not technical, and I finally get to run a bit. I start chatting with two ladies and we power hiked up the last of the big climbs, I think just before mile 6. As is my style, I bombed the downhill. I passed probably 15-20 people on the descent. It was still really foggy so I had taken off my sunglasses so I could see where I was going.

The road after the first aid station
My view from the top - last picture until I got down with the descent
 Get to the next aid station around mile 8 or 9 and we ended up on some flatter single track. The ups/downs have trashed my legs a bit. I have passed a lot of people and I don't want them passing me again. I have to do some walking to loosen up my legs. The last aid station was around mile 11 and I didn't stop at that one either. The last few miles felt somewhat downhill and I was able to pass a few more people heading back into the finish area. The last .25 or so was a slight hill back up the road. So tired. So done.



I had been hoping to finish under 3 hours, but missed it by a few minutes. This course was really no joke.



Official Time - 3:01:59
Overall Place - 243/279
Garmin Time - 3:01:50 (no timing chips)
Garmin Distance - 13.26 miles
Garmin Pace - 13:43
Elevation Gain - 2,129'
Mile 1- 12:02
Mile 2 - 16:40
Mile 3 - 14:41
Mile 4 - 20:26
Mile 5 - 16:41
Mile 6 - 16:00
Mile 7 - 12:05
Mile 8 - 11:02
Mile 9 - 12:05
Mile 10 - 12:00
Mile 11 - 13:27
Mile 12 - 10:24
Mile 13 - 11:30
Mile 13.26ish - 13:43

I immediately grabbed my finisher pint glass (no medal) and got into (what I thought was) the beer line. Turns out it was the food line (I realized over a half hour later). I had a great veggie burger, and then had to get in a different line for beer. 45 minutes later I had my pint of Buffalo Gold. Not sure it was worth the wait, but I had already invested some time.

Thoughts:

  • Honestly, as a back of the pack runner, I loved this race. The course was very well-marked and in my pace group it was not crowded. For L, she said the first 6 miles were terrible. She said it was very crowded, hard to pas, and people were pretty much on top of each other.
  • The course was a bit more technical than I expected, it was pretty rocky. After all the rain that we have had, it was a little slick and muddy in some spots, but it was overall a very good trail.
  • All the aid stations were apparently well stocked, but didn't have cups (that I saw) - so I was glad I had my Orange Mud vest on me. They supposedly had Tailwind and some snacks, although I actually didn't stop at any of them. 
  • Cool to get a pint glass at the end.
  • If I were fast enough, the age group awards were super cute. A wooden plaque with a stuffed black squirrel on them. Cute and creative!
  • Shirts were black, with the weird bunny in sunglasses logo on the front. Men's and women's cuts, so mine actually fit (I know, I am so terrible about pictures of the shirts).
  • I would probably run this one again.
  • Just as an aside - none of these pictures have been altered in any way. The iPhone really does take some fantastic shots.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week in Review (August 26 - September 1)

Tuesday - 6ish mile treadmill run, which I said was "great" according to my Daily Mile.
Wednesday - Midday celebratory pre-wedding lunch with Lisa.
There was also pad thai
Left work early to take Batman Sour to the vet for his last set of shots. Then A and I went to run club, running a mostly easy few miles. Then we did the bucket challenge. Brrr.


Poor quality, took a still from a video
Thursday - Rode a few miles on the bike during lunch. 6.55 mile run on the treadmill after work.
Friday - Pizza. And beer.
Saturday - Bergen Peak half marathon.
Mani/pedi with A and a rehearsal dinner for my friend's upcoming wedding. After the dinner, we made a stop at the Cheesecake Factory since it was only a few blocks away. No pictures of ME, but I dressed up and everything.


Sunday - Breakfast with A at IHOP, can't remember the middle of the day, and Lisa's wedding!




Monday - American Discovery Trail Marathon and celebrating my Dad's 70th birthday with lasagna and a giant chocolate cake.


Weekly Miles Run - 54.24 (wowza)
Minutes of Cross Training - Less than 20. Some time on the bike. That's it.
Minutes of Strength/Stretching - None :(

Weekly Gain - 1.0 (121.6)
  • EatAllTheFood!!!
  • Cheesecake factory, wedding cake/food, lots of beer, pizza two days. Yum. And a pumpkin pie donut - yes, it is just as amazing as it sounds.
Everything Else
  • I've official upgraded to the 50 mile in the Bear Chase. Should be fun. Maybe. Sounds far.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

American Discovery Trail Marathon (Race Recap)

Monday, September 1
Colorado Springs, CO
Marathon #25
Weather - about as perfect as you can get


I knew I was going to struggle with getting in long runs as training for both NYC and Big Cedar 100. L suggested I run the marathon for this course while she ran the half. So, not really thinking, I registered for the American Discovery Trail marathon, to be held on Labor Day. The price tag was very reasonable, only $81 ($20 more than the half marathon) after fees.

One of my good friends got married this weekend. Sunday night, to be exact. I knew we were going to be eating, drinking and participating in merriment until very late. In fact, we stayed until the very end, which (luckily?) was only about 11:15. Jessa agreed to watch A and I headed home to get some sleep. NOT VERY MUCH SLEEP... I crawled into bed just before midnight, with my alarm going off at 3:38. And that was only going to give me about 20 minutes to get ready and out of the house.

I had packed all my stuff the night before, so really all I had to do was get dressed and make coffee. We got out the door just before 4 am. The drive to Colorado Springs is about an hour and fifteen minutes, and of course, at that hour, there was no traffic. Thanks to L for driving. We arrived at the America the Beautiful park about 15 minutes before the last shuttle bus left for the marathon. I used the bathroom and got on the bus. My first concern was the bone on the top inner part of my right foot was HURTING - I thought it might be the tongue of my shoe just hitting it weird, but no - it felt bruised or something. I wonder if this was from the 5" heels I spent Saturday and Sunday night in. Or maybe it was all the dancing at the wedding... Anyway, in an effort to prevent the inevitable hangover, I (shamefully?) had a beer on the bus on the way to the start. Shhhh. The start was all the way back up north off the Monument Hill exit - at Palmer Lake.

We arrived at the start area with only about 18 minutes until the marathon start. I picked up my bib and got in the bathroom line. I walked up to the start right as we were starting.

Walk to the start line at Palmer Lake
What. Was. I. Thinking?


I haven't run a marathon since New Years, and the only real distance I have done was the Fat Ass I ran in MARCH and Chase the Moon. I was just hoping that my foot was going to hold up. I did NOT want to be out there forever.

I had worn arm sleeves, as it was pretty chilly at the start - I'm guessing upper 40's. For some reason I had thought the course was going to be on pavement, but it was actually on hard-packed dirt. That was much better. I started near the back and ran on feel. I looked at my watch only when the mile markers clicked. The first mile clicked at a comfortable 10:30ish pace, and then as the miles went on, my pace got faster. I was already hot by the first aid station at mile 2 and the arm sleeves came off. The course is a net 1200' loss, although it felt mostly flat to me. There were only a few uphills, so the running felt easier. The cooler temps also helped.






Everything felt fine for the first 7 or 8 miles. I took my first non-aid station walk break around mile 8. The aid station around mile 9.5. I was starting to get a headache. I hadn't been able to eat breakfast, and I was feeling "off." I noticed two cans of Bud Light on the table - I said "you have beer???" The volunteer said, "yeah, do you want one?" YES. YES I DO. I took a big swig right at the table and then ran with it until I finished it, about 15 minutes later. FYI, beer is foamy and hard to run with. I felt MUCH better after beer #2.


Then, of course, I started to feel like I had to use the bathroom, and decided I would stop at the first one I saw. My legs felt ok, but my stomach really didn't. I finally found a port-o-potty around mile 16. For the first time in a race, two of my GU packets fell on the floor of the bathroom. EW. Luckily, the aid station had extras, and I grabbed one.

I don't know if it was the extended stop, but I lost whatever energy I had after that aid station. I certainly started walking more and babysitting my watch. Somewhere around maybe mile 18 or 19, the course briefly went on sidewalk, which actually seemed to make my feet happy. The course had really thinned out a lot, and I was either alone or I started passing people, and took note of how they looked more miserable than I did.




I really didn't start to feel terrible until maybe mile 22 or 23. I didn't even really feel AWFUL, I was just tired and getting hot and really wanting to be done. I sent L a message when I got to mile 23 so she could get an idea of when I would be finishing. The last mile felt like it lasted FOREVER. There was an old man I was trying desperately to chase. Finally, I saw a crowd at a bridge and I knew we were almost there, so I kicked it in. BAD IDEA. The final .2 went on forever and ever. But at least I beat the old guy.


Bib #357
Official Time - 4:38:26
Official 7.8 miles - 1:18:34
Official 17.1 miles - 2:58:42
Official 22 miles - 3:51:22
Overall Place - 214/346
Gender Place - 71/147 (top half!)
Division Place - 17/31
Garmin Time - 4:38:28
Garmin Distance - 26.33
Garmin Pace - 10:35
Mile 1-5 - 10:36, 10:01, 10:04, 9:53, 10:09
Mile 6-10 - 9:53, 10:06, 10:03, 10:56, 10:36
Mile 11-15 - 10:38, 10:04, 9:56, 10:57, 10:41
Mile 16-20 - 12:10 (bathroom), 10:36, 10:33, 10:33, 10:12
Mile 21-26.2 - 10:57, 10:50, 10:50, 11:25, 11:23, 11:09, 9:56




SOMEHOW, with no speed work (although, just ask L, the net downhill course makes it "easy") - I managed to pull off my fastest marathon time in 2.5 years, and I think the fastest I have ever run a marathon at altitude. I don't care if the course was "easy" or not. I worked hard and I'm pretty damn pleased with how this went. L found me at the finish, and my dad was there with Hannah. I was in no mood to eat, but I was happy they had soda at the finish. I briefly looked for beer but didn't see any. Grabbed my goodie bag with the awesome neon yellow shirt, and we headed back home.


Thoughts:
  • Thankfully, whatever weird thing I had going on with my foot was not an issue. It still feels off today, but it apparently did not bother me that much when I was running.
  • I really enjoyed this course. The dirt was very runnable - and the views were spectacular. We really had some great weather. There was a lot of sunshine, but a slight breeze kept the temperatures down.
  • Well stocked aid stations - all had Gatorade and water, and about half of them also had Hammer gels in various flavors. And of course, the one had beer. I was worried 14 aid stations for the marathon would not be enough, but they were spaced well, I did not carry my own fluids, and I never felt like I wasn't going to make it.
  • Course was very well marked - there was really no chance of getting lost on this one...
  • Even though most of the trail is sort of out in the middle of nowhere, it wasn't closed to the public, so there were a decent number of cyclists and other people out there. At every opportunity, there were spectators. Decent crowd support.
  • LOVE the race shirt. Women's cut Brooks tee in a super fun neon yellow. The men's shirt was royal blue.
  • Fantastic views and vendors/food at the finish. There were sodas, watermelon, pizza, Chick-Fil-A and tons of other things that I didn't even wander around to look at.
  • Would I run this one again? ABSOLUTELY.