*Fuel Friday ~ pre-race fueling*

With another marathon coming up (in TWO days!), nutrition has been on my mind a lot! As an endurance athlete, my goal, always, is to fuel my body with the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods that I can.  I could train until the cows come home, but if I’m not properly fueling and refueling my body, I’m never going to improve or make any gains.

Primarily, I eat a plant-based, vegetarian, whole-food diet. I do eat some seafood, but otherwise, I am meat/poultry, gluten, and dairy free. This just happens to be what works for ME… meaning it might not be right for you!

I’ve never been afraid to experiment with my diet and I’ve tried various styles over the years… vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, raw, modified paleo, Mediterranean, ayurveda, the wine diet (joking… wait, is there one??)… trying to find the optimal way of eating that makes me feel my best and perform by best. Currently, my diet most closely resembles the anti-inflammatory diet as recommended by Dr. Weil. You can read about it here.

Trying new things, whether it be foods, food groups, or systems of eating can produce some interesting results if you are willing to experiment and really pay attention. I learned long ago that I thrive when I eat multiple meals and snacks throughout the day. Honestly, I eat about 7-8 times a day! I’m much happier without gluten. My body craves vegetables, but not much fruit. Quality fats are essential. Dark chocolate and wine are non-negotiable because I’m miserable if I try to restrict them. I might add that deprivation is never a solution unless you are severely allergic. You’ll just end up cranky!!!

So back to my point. As far as racing nutrition goes, there is a ton of sound information out there but I thought I would mix it up a little today and share some of the things that work for me.

The goal is to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak, with whatever food choices you make in the days leading up to a race. Many experts in sports nutrition recommend that you stay away from heavy, rich, fried, and fatty foods and limit processed foods, whole grains, and fiber as the event nears. It is also suggested that you avoid trying any new foods in the days leading up to an event. That experimentation that I encouraged earlier, yeah, not a good idea two days before a race!

Carb-loading is a popular term and a common practice among athletes. Basically, carbohydrates provide the perfect source of energy in the form of glycogen that is stored within the muscles. It is a more efficient fuel to burn, as opposed to fat. Carb-loading before a race or event, and consuming carbs during, means that your body won’t have to resort to fat stores to provide fuel. It is a much less efficient fuel source because the body has to work harder to convert it. Ultimately, it could mean a decrease in performance which no one wants when they are racing! This all works only if you decrease the amount of running you do leading up to race day during your taper so that you build up your stores.

I have seen several plans that include increasing simple sugar sources, which of course, makes total sense. I prefer, however, to only ingest them during long training runs or a race. After using Clif Shot energy gels for a while, I found that I just couldn’t stomach them any more. I switched to Clif Shot Blocks and my tummy is much happier!

My strategy is simple. I eat cookies. With oats in them. And bananas. And chocolate.

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Cookie loading. Er, I mean carb-loading.

Seriously though, it should be simple. For a Sunday race, I begin to add more carbohydrates to every meal beginning on Thursday. I’m not adding more meals or bigger portions though. (Or trying not to!) The idea is that the carb sources replace the other components of a typical meal.

I’m not sure what percentage of carbs I’m eating overall but 85-95% is the recommended amount. I know that “white” carbs are easier to digest and have less fiber but I’m not a big fan of them (with a few exceptions) so I stick to my regular sources: oats, brown rice, brown rice pasta, quinoa, and sweet potatoes are my main ones. Bananas are another go-to. I gradually reduce my protein intake, but not eliminate it completely. For me, eggs are a great source of protein that are easily digestible.

The evening before a race I eat the same thing every time: a good amount of brown rice pasta with some garbanzo beans and homemade marinara sauce. Sometimes, if on hand, I’ll have some gluten-free bread, and maybe a very small, simple green salad. Typically, I also have a little wine. A glass or two. I know my body and I know what I can handle so I’ve never had any trouble with a consuming a couple of glasses. It often helps calm my pre-race nerves too. That said, I’m actually foregoing wine this time around. I did have 4 oz. last night but that was it until after I race Sunday. No real reason other than just to see what happens. (For the record, if I totally blow it Sunday, I’m blaming the lack of wine!!)

I would add that I try to eat as early as I can allowing for a few hours to digest before getting to bed. I hate eating late anyway since I tend to go to bed early.

Race day morning is a little trickier. It depends on the start time and if I can eat at home or if I have to eat on the road. I try to eat a good meal a couple of hours before the start time, usually protein pancakes or overnight oats, and then eat a banana about 30 minutes before go time. At the Vernonia Marathon in April, the start time was really late – after 9 am – and I had breakfast at home really early, before 5:30. Even though I had a snack beforehand, I remember standing at the starting line hungry. For a girl who HATES to be hungry, it was not a welcome feeling and I will absolutely make sure that doesn’t happen again this weekend!

Speaking of, all of this talk about food has made me HUNGRY! ; )

I’m not an expert and I can only share with you what I’ve learned from my experiences. There are so many great resources out there if you are seeking advice on pre-race fueling or sports nutrition in general but I’ll leave you with a few articles that have been helpful to me!

Fill ‘Er Up – Runner’s World

What Do I Eat Before My Race? – Runner’s World

Carbo-loading: Tips for endurance athletes – Active.com

The Truth about Carbo-Loading – Run your BQ

Carb-loading do’s and dont’s – Canadian Running

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*Good, better, best…*

…the Vancouver USA Marathon edition.

Good, better, best has become sort of a marathon tradition here on Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking. The intention is to set three goals of varying difficulty (or personal importance) rather than just one or two huge goals that could potentially leave me feeling a bit crushed if not attained. The original idea came from an article I read in Runner’s World and has proven to be a great tool for me when it comes to goal setting.

As I reflect on the past year, I’ve set, and crushed, some really radical goals! This time a year ago I was still training for my first marathon. In fact, my first-ever 20 mile run was on June 15, 2013. I never, in a million-bazillion years, would have imagined that exactly one year later, on June 15, 2014, I’d be running my fifth marathon!!!!

I’ve learned so much this past year. The marathon is brutal! Training is a LOT of work! But I’ve also discovered that there is a tenacious fire in me to push myself beyond the barriers and limitations I’ve imposed on myself. Once the spark is ignited… boy, step back!

GOOD: Step up to the starting line confident in my training and capability.

I think that I’ve trained harder for this marathon than any of the previous four. Really. I credit two things:

  1. A training partner that makes me want to step up my game.
  2. Knowing that there is no pressure to run a Boston qualifying time but wanting to better my time anyway.

My running BFP is aiming for a sub 3-hour marathon at Vancouver USA Marathon. He’s been putting in HUGE mileage and we even teamed up to incorporate some speed sessions into our training. It has been such a privilege to work with him, learn from him, and watch him pour himself into his own goal(s). His drive is infectious and has inspired me to step up too. I’ve trained hard and I know I’m ready for another go at 26.2. (Thanks, Bob!)

The funny thing is, having a Boston qualifying race under my belt has given me a pretty big boost in confidence in my ability. However, it doesn’t make me want to work less hard, or slack off. It is actually driving me to work harder because now I really know that I am capable. Believing in my training and my capability is pretty powerful stuff!!

BETTER: Set a new Personal Record.

My PR at Vernonia (3:35:01) was bigger than I imagined possible! I’m hoping to shave a few seconds off each mile to finish in under 3:35:00 because, well, that would just be awesome!

BEST: Take a selfie with Bart Yasso.

Umm, no, I’m not kidding.

One of the things I’ve been most excited about is the opportunity to meet him during the race expo activities. And not to brag or anything, but based on this Tweet he sent me earlier today, it sounds like he’s looking forward to meeting me too!!

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This Tweet sorta made my day!!!!!

There you have it. It is going to be such a rad weekend and race! I’ll be working at the VUM Active Expo on Saturday morning so if you are headed there to pick up your race packet, track me down and say hi!

*A PR for Mother’s Day*

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day!!

My weekend was wonderful and I hope yours was too! I am so blessed to have two amazing ladies in my life that we got to celebrate yesterday. And, my family made me feel so loved. I’m one lucky girl!!

On Saturday, I ran my second half marathon of the year, the Hippie Chick Half and Quarter Marathon in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The Hippie Chick is such a fun event and embodies the sweet bond of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and girlfriends. The race route takes you through rural farm country and past fields of flowering crimson clover. Despite the threat of rain, it held off and temperature was just about perfect.

I had the pleasure of sharing the morning with my friend, Kelcie. It was her second half marathon and she set a new PR by more than 16 minutes! I’m so grateful that I got to be there to witness her huge accomplishment! Way to go, Kelcie!!

So proud of this girl!

So proud of this girl!

My goals for the race included finishing with a sub 1:40 time, setting a new PR, finishing in the top 10 in my age division, and the top 25 overall.

NAILED IT!!!!

I’m really proud of my race. Everything came together the way you hope it does on race day. When we were heading to the starting line, Kelcie and I were talking about lining up according to pace. The “fastest” pace group was 7:55, right up in front. I commented to her that I didn’t feel like I deserved to be up in the front even though I was shooting for a 7:33-7:36 average pace. I don’t know why I said that. Or why I even felt that way. I’ll chalk it up to pre-race nerves I guess.

As usual, I started off way too fast. Which turned out to be a good thing because there were several miles that I could not seem to keep my pace under 7:40! The first few miles flew by. The course is pretty much all flat with just a couple very slight hills. There is also a section of the race that is a short out-and-back. As I was heading to the turnaround point, the leaders started passing by just after mile 8 (for them). I began to count them so I could get a sense of where I was in the pack. By my calculation, when I made the turn I was 24th, which I held for the last five miles. No one else passed me, nor did I pass anyone else the remainder of the race!

The last couple of miles are a little tricky because the quarter marathon merges with the half marathon. When the half marathon runners make it to that section, the quarter marathon participants are walking the event. Sometimes walking in groups that stretched across the entire road. I think it could easily be managed a little better by instructing walkers to stay to one side allowing runners to pass easier. I love seeing everyone out regardless of if they are running or walking but it just makes for some interesting maneuvering on the course.

Just like the Vernonia Marathon in April, I wasn’t paying attention to my overall time on the course. Rather, I had my pace displayed on my Garmin so I could try to keep around my target. It wasn’t until I made the last turn coming into the finish that I saw the race clock which displayed 1:39:xx. I was thrilled when I realized that I was finishing with the sub 1:40 I had hoped for. Not by much, but I’ll take it!!

After I finished I milled around and met up with a few people that I’ve been connected to online, but had not yet met in person. It was so fun to meet these ladies!!

I stuck around and watched the first few minutes of the awards ceremony but was starting to get cold so left before it was over. I was feeling a little bummed at that point too because I discovered that the race results weren’t accurate. From what I gathered by talking to a few people, some of the participants that had registered for the half decided to do the quarter instead. However, not all of them officially got transferred over to the quarter marathon which threw all of the results out of sync. While I’m happy with my PR and finishing 10th in my age group, the results placed me at 37th. I still believe I was pretty close to that top 25 but I suppose that’s just the way it goes and I need to get over it!

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Festivities at the finish line!

Overall, it truly is a great event and I had a great time! A huge thanks to Nuun Hydration and the Better Series for giving me the opportunity to do it! Initially, the Hippie Chick wasn’t on my racing calendar this spring so I’m grateful I got invited to do it and am already looking forward to next year!

Official results:     1:39:36 /  7:36 pace / 10th place age division / 37th place overall

*The magical day I BQ’d*

There is a good possibility that I haven’t stopped smiling once since Sunday. When I awoke to the sound of my alarm on Monday morning, my aching body reminded of what happened the previous day. Once out of bed, I was greeted with an email from the previous evening that contained a link to the Vernonia Marathon race results. When I opened the page, displaying the top 5 male and female finishers of the event, I about dropped my cup of coffee when I saw my very own name in the fifth spot.

I was the fifth overall female finisher.

How? What? Huh? (…scratching head…)

Honestly, I am still feeling a little overwhelmed by everything that happened on Sunday. After more than a year of dreaming about what that moment would feel like when I finally qualified… there are few words… but I can say with certainty that it feels absolutely amazing!

The Vernonia Marathon is a sweet little marathon that I would, without hesitation, run again and again. The route is spectacular! Most of it meanders among trees and creeks on a paved trail and is predominately downhill or flat.

The race begins in Vernonia, Oregon and finishes in neighboring Banks, Oregon. I have very few negative things to say about this event in general but I’m not crazy about the late start time for the race. It begins at 9:30 AM. I recognize that this is due to the fact that participants are bused from the finish (where packet pick-up is located) to the start.

I traveled with my friend, Bob. We arrived at the start around 7:30, even after catching the shuttle, which means we had more than two hours to kill before the race started! A good opportunity for pictures I guess! ; )

Brrr! A very cold wait!

Brrr! A very cold wait!

On the bright side, the start is located at a retreat center with an indoor area for runners to relax in before the race began. Eventually, we walked to the start and waited a little more.

Ready to get the show on the road!

Ready to get the show on the road!

I have no idea what time we actually started but I was glad to be underway! The first mile is downhill and despite my best attempt to stick to my goal to start slooooooooowwwww, I still started too fast. Shocker, huh? A lovely gal running the half marathon started to pace me just after the first mile. I enjoyed chatting with her but her goal time was way faster than I needed/wanted to run and even though I knew better I continued at a sub-8:00 pace until she decide to speed up around mile 6.

On the bus ride to the start, I considered whether or not I wanted to set the virtual pacer on my Garmin. I opted against it but immediately after starting, I switched the display to keep tabs on my pace instead of time/distance. (I didn’t check my time until I was about 24.6 miles in!)

While my pace was on track the first 13 miles, I felt myself feeling envious of the half marathon runners that were completing their race. I was only half done. Accomplishment aside, running a marathon is HARD!

My splits for the first 13 miles were:

7:55/7:46/7:43/7:46/7:54/7:53/8:02/8:09/8:05/8:15/8:15/8:29/8:25

Miles 9-13 are a gradual uphill. I slowed a little between miles 12-14. There is a pretty wicked hill just past the halfway point where I slowed considerably but once I reached the top, miles 15-21 were actually pretty awesome. It is mostly downhill with a very subtle decline most of the way. Not to mention, absolutely beautiful!  After the half marathon finish, the number of participants dropped significantly. There were periods of time where I didn’t see any runners ahead of me. But there were plenty of bicyclists and equestrians out on the trail to keep things interesting.

Around mile 22, the trail becomes flat and the last four miles run nearly parallel to a highway. This is where things start to get grim. After miles and miles of shade covered trail, we were now running in almost direct sun. I passed several runners who were starting to have issues. One of my other few complaints about the event is that given the late start, and the heat of the day (low to mid-70’s), I think another aid station, or two, would have been a really good idea.

I slowed quite a bit. I had to dig deep. Really deep. I knew that I had banked some extra time early on but I really didn’t know what my time was and I wanted to wait until as long as possible to check. When I finally did, around 24.6 miles in, I was at 3 hours, 20 minutes, and some odd seconds. Whoa! Even if I ran nearly a 10 minute mile, I could still finish in just under 3:40:00!

It was about that point that I realized that I was going to do it. I was going to qualify for Boston. By how much I wasn’t sure. I still had nearly a mile and a half to go. It wasn’t pretty but I as I cruised toward the finish, with the final .20 miles on a track, I gave it everything I had left.

The finish is near!

The finish is near!

Had I known how close I was to finishing in under 3:35:00… I’m proud of what I did and pleased with my 3:35:01 finish… but so close!!! ; )

DONE!

DONE!

My splits for miles 14-26.2 were:

9:00/8:11/8:16/8:11/8:17/8:13/8:02/8:07/8:27/8:21/8:36/8:38/8:24/1:45

I came across the finish all smiles! That feeling… so hard to describe but man, does it feel good! My family was there to share it with me and I was so grateful. My friend Bob had finished before me and was waiting to watch me cross the finish line too. This marathon was his 48th! Incredible, right?! (In fact, he gets credit for three of the photos above.)

Bob and I still smiling!

Bob and I still smiling!

After cooling down we headed inside for the awards ceremony, which was supposed to include complimentary soup. By the time we got there though, they had already run out. ; ( That’s okay, I picked up this blue ribbon for finishing 1st place in my age group!

1st place in my age group!

1st place in my age group!

The rest of the afternoon was filled with celebratory Thai food, champagne, and so many messages from friends and family congratulating me on my fantastic race and BQ! I savored every second of it too! It was an absolutely magical day!!

Officially, I finished in 3:35:01 setting a new 6:32 PR and averaged an 8:13 pace. I was the fifth place overall female and first place female for my age group. And of course, I QUALIFIED FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON! ; )

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again! A super HUGE thank you to everyone for the support, encouragement, good luck wishes, post race congratulatory messages, and anything/everything else I overlooked! It means so much and I’m glad you’ve been along for the journey to this milestone with me! THANK YOU!!

*Weekly mileage*

Mileage for the week of April 7th through April 13th:

Total weekly mileage: 45.5

Total April mileage (to-date): 85.75

Total year-to-date mileage: 666

Run review:

4/7       No run/rest day

4/8        31:46 min./4 mi./5:57 pace

(Plus 1 mi. with RGR)

4/9        59:06 min./7 mi./8:27 pace

4/10        4.25 miles (broken up into 4 mini runs of varying paces)

4/11        No run/rest day

4/12        26:16 min./3 mi./8:45 pace

4/13        3:35:01 min./26.2 mi./8:13 pace *Vernonia Marathon

As I reflect on the past week and how it culminated yesterday at the Vernonia Marathon, I fear any second now I’ll wake up from this amazing dream! Fortunately, I don’t think I’d “dream” about being this dang sore so I think I’m safe! ; )

There will be a full recap of my experience within the next couple of days. I’m still riding the high and don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since I crossed the finish line!

Have a great Monday, everyone!!

*Good, better, best…*

…the Vernonia Marathon edition.

Just before I ran my second marathon, the Portland Marathon back in October of last year, I had read an article about setting more than one goal for races. (I wrote about it here.) This concept has served me well so I think it is only appropriate, being that I’m now just three days out from marathon #4, that I create clear intentions for what I hope to accomplish this weekend.

GOOD: Connect with fellow runners.

One of my greatest missions in recent months, training aside, has been growing my circle of running friends. I was craving connection with like-minded people and have been seeking opportunities to meet runners to pull into my orbit. And not just within my community but also branching out to include surrounding areas and even fellow bloggers/runners all over the world!

My efforts have been paying off and I find myself developing relationships with new running friends. Some in real life and some of whom I’ve only interacted with online. On Sunday, many of these new friends will be running the same race as I am and I want to really savor every second of in-person interaction with them.

BETTER: Know that I’ve done everything in my power to set myself up for a good race.

I can’t accomplish what I desire if I don’t do the work to set myself up for success. I want to find myself at the starting line on Sunday reflecting on all of my efforts over the past four months and know that I gave 100%. More so, I want to feel confident in the fact that I tapered smart and have given my body the time it needs to rest, heal, and be ready for race day. I feel like I’m on target but with three days to go, I won’t be certain until I’m standing at the starting line.

BEST: Start slow and finish strong.

One of my greatest challenges is starting at a conservative pace and finishing with a negative split. I sort of suck at pacing! Actually, I really don’t even care if I have a negative split so long as I start at, or near, my goal race pace and just hold steady for the duration. In my short marathon racing history, my biggest downfall has been starting faster than I should/need to and then slowing the second half.

Notice that I don’t mention PR’s or BQ’s. Yeah, not this time. Of course setting a new personal record and qualifying for Boston are the ultimate goals but I realize that I won’t get there unless I put more emphasis on what it actually takes to make that happen. Making it fun by connecting with people, knowing that I’ve done all that I can to be ready to race, and finding strength to slow down so I finish mentally and physically strong will make this marathon the best yet!

*Tuesday brain dump*

I’ll just apologize now for the randomness that is this post. I’ve got so much swirling around in my head regarding upcoming races and running adventures, partnerships, projects, giveaways, future training… sometimes when my mind swirls with thoughts I recede into a prolonged state of disorientation…

…………………….. PLEASE STAND BY …………………….

Ok. Whew. I’m back. Let’s get to business!

I’m running marathon #4 in FIVE days! It has come to the point where I am counting down days on one hand. EEK! I plan to talk a little more about my race strategy in a later post, but I have a little running gossip to share!

If you read running blogs or follow runners on any number of social media outlets, you may have come across Skinny Runner at some point. After years of blogging about running, she shut down her website earlier this year but is still active on Twitter, Instagram, etc. In online running circles, she is somewhat of a mini celebrity. Anyway, as it turns out, she will be in Oregon this week visiting family and announced this past weekend that she will be running the same marathon as me this weekend, the Vernonia Marathon and Half in Vernonia, Oregon! How crazy is that??? If there was ever any motivation for me to pick up my game (other than attempting a BQ), this would most certainly be it!

This next bit of information is also close to home so skip over it if you don’t care about small town runner problems. Especially if you live in a community with ample paths, trails, and sidewalks to run on! ; ) For my local peeps, this is great news! Read on.

I had the pleasure of meeting with a project manager from my city yesterday to discuss a new Parks and Trails Master Plan that they are developing for my community. As one of the founders of our local running group, she was seeking input on routes we use, areas we avoid due to lack of safety, etc. There is some really great stuff in the works! I’m very hopeful that they will be able to implement the plan to add more paths and trails and connect what few trails we currently have to create a better system overall.

That said, if you are in the St. Helens, Oregon area, there will be a public presentation to learn more about the project with opportunities to comment and ask questions about the Parks and Trails Master Plan. That presentation will be held on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 from 6-7 PM at the City of St. Helens Council Chambers located at 265 Strand Street.

This afternoon I will begin my fourth season with our local Run Girl Run program. I’ve been volunteering with the program since its start and am looking forward to meeting our team of girls who will begin training for their first 5K today! All of the girls in the program are elementary aged students in the 3rd-5th grades. It has been one of the most rewarding programs I’ve ever worked with and I highly recommend mentoring young runners through a similar program if you ever have the opportunity! Their lives, as will yours, will be profoundly changed!!

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After Run Girl Run, I will be finalizing my travel plans for my trip in (just over) two (TWO!!) weeks to Utah to run Ragnar Trail Zion. I can’t believe how quickly time is moving. It will be here before I know it! I’m excited to get all of the logistic stuff nailed down so I can focus on my training strategy. Mainly, I’m trying to figure out how to jump from marathon and recovery, to trail training in a span of about 10 days. I’m going to have to get creative! But I’m super excited and not going to stress about it. The only thing stressing me out is finding trail shoes in time to break them in!

Oh, one final thing! The Vancouver USA Marathon is seeking volunteers! If you are not running VUM, please consider volunteering! Great events like VUM need great volunteers to help ensure that the event runs smoothly and participants needs are met. If you’d like more info, check out the volunteer page here, or sign-up to help here. Thanks!

Enough randomness for one day, yes? Hope you are having a great week!