Monday, August 30, 2010

I am now officially entering the taper

Dun dun duuuuuun...

Although, I’m really not writing this post all about “the taper” for which there is so so much that could be said. (Perhaps we’ll save that for another time?)

Nope. This post is really just ramblings on my last BIG long run before the marathon. Because 20 miles will teach you a thing or two about a thing or two (similar to the kids fun run, although not nearly as insightful).

For starters, one thing I learned fairly early on, in fact, even before I started running, is that it’s not necessarily the best idea to take a full day course on CPR and first aid the day before your long run. Why you might ask? Chest compressions.

And I know what you’re thinking. What on earth do chest compressions have to do with running? Well, nothing really which is why I figured 20 miles the day post CPR training would be, well, 20 miles. Tough? Yes, but not much different from the last time I ran 20 miles (except hopefully a tad faster, since the humidity was not going to be 100% Praise the Lord!).

But what I failed to realize is that in order to do chest compressions you need to flex a little gluteus maximus. Apparently, the right glut, to be more specific (b/c I know you were hoping I would be), is powerfully engaged when attempting to save the life of half a mannequin (at least on me anyway). And after a full day of repeated use, I was sore as all get out the next morning.

On that first mile, I could just hear the inevitable conversation that would ensue later in the day. Random observationalist who happens to know how far I ran: “Wow. 20 miles. You must be sore. In fact, are you limping?” Me: “Yeah. I am. But it wasn’t the run.” Observationalist: “No? You sure about that?” Me: “Yep. Positive. It was the chest compressions.” Observationalist. “Oh right. Because that makes perfect sense.”

But rather quickly thoughts of my conversation with said random observationalist dissipated, as I approached a somewhat eerie scene. It was after all, 5:30 in the morning and still pitch black, but the park I run was hosting an antique car show and the portion of the trail that was usually the darkest which I was fast approaching was lit up with giant spotlights and full of various antique cars, tents, and RVs. But there was no movement, and really no sound except for the hum of the lights. Kinda creepy.

Now, besides the creepiness, my first thought was to be thankful that the usual hideout of some of mother nature’s most vicious wildlife (skunks, raccoons, turkey duck) was completely illuminated. Nobody was going to sneak up on me today. No sir.

But as I ran by my thoughts quickly turned to something to the effect of: “what a bunch a weirdos. What’s with these people who drive way out in their really old souped up cars or even better yet, haul their named car in an aptly marked trailer to some random park, to camp out for the weekend, rev their engine and gawk at somebody else’s car? I don’t get. What a waste of time! What kind of person does that anyway?” I couldn’t help but wonder.

All of which was immediately followed by an audible laugh as I realized, if one of those antique car aficionados  happened to peek out their RV window at that moment they’d probably be thinking something along the same lines about me. “Seriously? Who gets up so early on a weekend to run in the pitch black darkness with only the little light of some older dude in very extremely reflective clothing on a bike to light her way? Who does that? Weirdo.” And they wouldn’t even know I was running 20 miles with a lame CPR butt then going home to write about it. (Ok…yeah, maybe I am the weird one).

In my world, what I do makes sense. And I’d suspect, the same’s true for them. I don’t have to get it and they don’t have to get me.  I say, do what you love and don’t worry about what other people think because after all, we’re all probably a little weird in our own little way anyway.

As for the rest of the run, it was fairly uneventful. Just the way I like it. The weather was about perfect. Everything went off without a hitch. Really, it was one of those runs where you go THIS is why I run.

Except for the last mile that is. Turkey duck made his re-appearance. ( I know. I know. It’s been so long since we last saw him, I was starting to think he’d moved on to greener pastures. I was almost, dare I say it? Missing him.)

Apparently, turkey duck has joined forces with a gaggle of geese. And it looks as if he’s had to give up his role as head honcho to some other rather vocal goose to do so. My dad plowed through the group on his bike first and about 200 yds back I could hear the master of the river very clearly honk out something like “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!” (read that in your Brooklyn accent. I’m fairly certain these geese aren’t from around here.)

As I crested the bridge and they came into view, there was Big Daddy Goose right smack in the middle of the trail. Now, my dad had been something of a sneak attack as he whizzed by on his bike. Me, let me tell you, that fella had plenty of time to size me up and hiss (what the crack? Geese hiss? I had no idea).

I really had no other options. There was no place to go. I mean this bad mother goose was no more than five feet from the foot of the bridge. So you either turn around and go back up the bridge and then a big hill to get to the road to cross the river, adding another 1/2 mile or so onto your 20 mile run (uh…no) OR you face the fairly angry goose head on.

My dad had stopped, I suppose to come to my defense should a goose attack ensue or maybe just to see what I was going to do. I considered chucking my fuel belt bottles at him to see if he’d move. But you know how I am with those fuel belt bottles. Then I thought about squirting him with my last remaining bit of water, but since this wasn’t a cat, and that foul mouthed fowl is kind of a fan of water, I figured this would be an epic fail on my part.

So without breaking stride (ok maybe a little) I squeaked my body through that little five foot opening and ran way off the trail to the right to make a semi circle around him. And that was when I spotted turkey duck tucked away on the opposite side of the trail with a few other adult geese and some babies just watching the action. He was probably the one that told Big Daddy Goose he wouldn’t have to move. “Just stick your neck out dude and look tough. She’s a sissy.” (thug voice remember).

I must give credit where credit is due though. I mean, Big Daddy truly stood there looking like a bad you know what. I seriously think he would have kicked my sorry sore CPR butt up one side and down another if I had gotten an inch closer. I’m not sure with what exactly since he has no arms and fairly small webbed feet. But I probably would have had a good beaking or maybe he would have strangled me with his super long goose neck. I don’t know. I’m just glad I didn’t find out.

So that was my 20. In and done. It’s on to the taper for me. The Air Force Marathon is so close now I can smell it or I would be able to smell it, if I could breath out of my nose that is. I’m gonna go ahead and call this allergies. Nothing to see here. Let’s move on. Because I absolutely REFUSE to be sick (but feel free to send me all your healthy vibes just in case).

'Til next time...

P.S. Yep, I know. I was supposed to post a giveaway tonight. There were issues. Really, I’m a horrible blogger. I don’t know why any of you stick around to read this. There are far better bloggers out there than I, BUT if you stick around just a little while longer, I will post that giveaway and review for you early next week. Just got to get a few ducks in a row. Of the non turkey variety.

P.P.S. And on another exciting news front…we are SO getting Christa’s cookie recipe! Say it with me now WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!! And it turns out Christa is quite the whiz in the kitchen with all sorts of tips, tricks, and recipes when she’s not busy training for the Chicago marathon that is. So besides a giveaway next week, you’ll also be getting a yummy recipe post. In the meantime, if you’ve got any healthy, tasty and/or quick recipes that you’d like to share with your fellow running moms email them to me at runfastmommy@gmail.com because I’m kind of sort of thinking of finding a place on here to compile them(why not? I obviously have all sorts of time on my hands). And yes, there will be a link to your blog/website in it for you if you so choose.

P.P.P.S Observationalist is not actually a word. Either that or I’ve so grossly misspelled it that Windows Live Writer can’t even come up with a suggestion for me. But I’ve spelled it the same every time, so at least I’m consistent. And beaking…also not a word fyi. Oh and look, fyi isn’t a word either. I’m just full of made up pretend words now aren’t I?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Big Gu Giveaway Winner and…

Unfortunately there can be just one and if that just one does not happen to be you, don’t count yourself out just yet. Head on over to Caratunk Girl’s Blog b/c she’s running pretty much the exact same contest and there’s still a few hours left for you to enter. Unless of course you happen to be:

 

KIMBERLY

Who is the winner of THIS Gu Giveaway. I’ll be contacting you shortly with all the details and don’t worry, I promise not to send it carrier pigeon ;-)

Thanks everybody for entering. You’re random facts were thoroughly entertaining. And don’t worry there’s more goods to be given away shortly. How’s Monday sound for another contest? Stay tuned…

'Til next time...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Food will not be ruling this house

Thank-you very much.

We’ve been on a downhill slip ‘n slide this summer into the deep dark hole of sweets, treats and fast food. And folks, it ain’t good. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that our rotating lunch schedule pretty much consists of frozen pizza, mac & cheese and grilled cheese and it’s nearly always followed by my 4 year old requesting dessert of some kind. And if that’s not bad enough, stick us in a car anytime within about 1/2 an hour of a meal and we’re probably not passing by the multitude of fast food joints to go home for a salad. I mean, really, when you pull into the drive through at Taco Bell and you hear your not quite 2 year old in the back going “yummmmmmmm,” it’s kind of funny. But when she does it at pretty much every single fast food restaurant? Yeah…then you’ve got a serious problem on your hands (not that I’m talking about my 2 year old or anything).

And it’s not just the kids and finding something that they actually WILL eat, it’s us grownups too. I’m so busy taking care of everybody else’s needs that by the time I get around to eating I’m STARVING and will pretty much just grab whatever’s there (which is usually full of sugar or comes out of a bag and/or box) and that generally does not end well. And my poor husband! Let’s just say he’s simply defenseless against all the goodies I keep on hand to try and bribe my children to eat.

So before this family is too far gone, I decided to take control. I’m the the grocery shopper/meal preparer around this house, though I will gladly acquiesce both of these titles to someone else (anyone else…takers?). So if there are going to be healthy eating habits around these parts, it’s going to start with me. Period.

Ironically, for the little extra encouragement I needed to get started, I had planned on purchasing some new cookware, (hey, you do what you gotta do right? Who wants to make healthy tasty dishes in ratty old pots and pans anyway?) something perhaps along the lines of Le Creuset. And wouldn’t you know it, it was right about then that Jamie from CSN Stores contacted me to see if I’d do a review for them. I could pick anything I wanted to review. There’s over 200 stores on this virtual mall carrying all sorts of different products, everything from toys to ceiling fans, including…COOKWARE!! I’m chomping at the bit. (So yeah, you can be looking forward to a review in the near future and what’s that? **SNIFF SNIFF** I think I smell another giveaway. Stay tuned…)

But drastic times call for drastic measures and can not wait for new cookware. So, I got started. I planned out our meals, I cleaned out the fridge and pantry, pitching every single garbage food item I could find (and the fossilized pickles) and re-stocked with healthier goods. I moved the snacks up to a higher shelf so little hands can’t get at them unaided, but kept the fruit & veggies easily accessible. And I went puree crazy with the hopes that I’d be able to slip a few fruits and veggies into the dishes I prepare for my kiddos (and husband) unnoticed a la Jessica Seinfeld and her Deceptively Delicious cookbook.

It’s been about two weeks now and except for a late night tango with a can of mild cheddar cheese dip my husband bought for me after a particularly rough day (it was a weak moment) and an end of summer field day/party at my mom’s full of eats that aren’t quite on our menu anymore, I’m happy to say we’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve discovered my 4 year old LOVES celery and my anti-veggie 2 year old will happily devour them if they are disguised as something else, like say cheese sticks for example (it had cauliflower in it if you must know, but don’t tell).

Now the trick I believe will be sticking with it and the key to that might just be in the meal planning. If I just take 15-20 minutes to plan out our meals for the week and write up my grocery list accordingly, I’m good. The danger sets in when I grocery shop on a whim with no plan. I might as well go in hungry to because I’m probably stocking my cart with things that may look tasty, but I probably don’t actually need and would be woefully disappointed if I ate (at least after I ate it anyway).

So I’m totally open to suggestions you guys. Old habits die hard and this isn’t the first time I’ve hit the reset button. So how do you stay on track and keep your family’s diet in check? And what sort of things do you keep on hand so that when the “I’m huuuuuuuuuuungryyyyyyyy” whine creeps in the middle of your making dinner, you’re prepared? And feel free to send a few words of encouragement my way too, because honestly, this may be far harder than the marathon for me. Seriously.

'Til next time...

P.S. Are you in the Gu Giveaway yet? Really, it’s so easy to enter it’s ridiculous. Look I’ll even give you the link right here so you don’t have to find it. That is how extraordinarily terrific I am. In fact, I would just go ahead and enter you myself, but that really wouldn’t be fair to the people who have already entered. Maybe next time ;-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Running Shoe Talk: The natural progression of when to buy

shoeos I’ve got new shoes on the brain. Mostly because I just had my first run in my new pair last night. That’s them there in the picture. Aren’t they cute? Although they’d be much cuter if they had pink embellishments, but sadly, my shoe has been discontinued, yet again, so I was forced to get whatever color they had and they had blue (better than the Divas anyway).

But I may be forced to change my entire running ensemble now. I mean, who can run in blue shoes and a pink top? I won’t be able to concentrate. Every time I pass by someone, I know they’ll be staring at me thinking, “What? Did she get ready in the dark or something?” (which I actually practically do so as not to wake the fam at 4:30 in the morning, but that’s an entirely different story). I’m definitely going to feel obligated to explain my mismatched running attire to each and every passerby which is probably going to slow my pace down considerably. And we can’t be having that now can we?

So as I’ve pondered all things running shoe and running shoe related lately, I’ve realized there’s sort of a natural progression as to how one determines the appropriate time to buy a new pair. Now, it’s quite possible that this natural progression is natural to me and me alone, but I suspect perhaps no. And since some of my favorite readers* out there happen to be newbie runners, I thought maybe you could pick up a thing or two from my previous shoe purchasing experiences. Probably not. But just in case maybe so, I thought I’d put together a little flow chart to show you the appropriate methods and progression of how you should determine it’s time to go get a new pair of kicks.

Since, however, I don’t know how to make a flowchart appear on Blogger and “appropriate” is by all means a relative term, I’ve instead just made a list of the various methods I’ve used over the years to decide when, oh yeah baby, it’s time, with the first technique being how I purchased new shoes in my early running days progressing to how I buy them today. (Disclaimer: I assume absolutely no responsibility for the condition of your shoes nor can I be held liable for your decision to purchase or to not purchase a new pair since I am by no means offering professional advice, rather just talking off the top of my head here).

Various Methods of How One May (Or May Not) Decide to Buy New Running Shoes

1. By look – You happen to notice something is wrong with your shoe which is frequently marked by uttering something to the effect of: “Ooooo there’s a hole in my toe.” Or, “looky here! My tread is falling off. That can’t be good.” (Please Note: This is extremely way beyond the time you should purchase new running shoes. Do not pass go. Proceed immediately to your running specialty shop.)

2. By Look Advanced – You flip over your running shoes and take a look at the bottom to see if anything that remotely resembles a tread remains. (FYI: Your soles wear out before your tread. You too are beyond the time when you should’ve gotten new shoes. “Get thee to thy nearest market of running beforest thou is plagued by injury.” – Shakespeare. What? You think I’m kidding? Go look it up. )

3. By Time – A sudden realization dawns on you that you can not remember when you last bought running shoes. This method is usually followed by the flip and almost always results in a visibly worn out tread and thus a pair of running shoes crying out for retirement or at least the running shoe equivalent of a desk job which would be a transfer to a new position as an everyday knock around shoe.

4. By miles – Now becoming the super savvy runner that you are, you know (probably by reading Runner’s World that you now subscribe to or some random running mom blogger who at times leads you to believe she might have some semblance of an idea of what she’s talking about until of course she winds up with a totally preventable injury like massive blisters from running without socks on a beach or the equivalent) that running shoes last between 300-500 miles. Your even tracking your mileage on a log or you’ve got training schedule you can refer back to so that you can see where you are at and stay ahead of the game.

5. By feel – Now you’ve run long enough that you know how you like your feet to feel in your shoes and if something’s a little off, some weird random body part, (on me usually my Achilles or one of my ankles) starts to bother you, or your shoes just feel totally flat and devoid of all cushioning, you take it as a flashing red warning sign. So you check your log and/or schedule to see where you’re at mileswise in your shoes and more times than not you’ll find you’re somewhere between that 300-500 mile mark. At this point, you’ve progressed and are now one with your shoes…or your feet…or maybe the ground. I don’t know. You’re one with something anyway and perceptive to your running needs. Basically you are the princess and the pea…except that you’re not sleeping, there’s really no food of any sort involved, and your royal inheritance is not at stake. But other than that, you are totally the princess and the pea. Ok, maybe that’s not a good analogy, but you get my point.

6. By Sale- Now you’ve arrived. You’ve worn enough running shoes that by now you’ve found a particular pair you like and are really not interested in a dance with a new pair. So, whenever you spot yours on sale somewhere, you buy them. Not only to get a good deal, but in the unfortunate event you find that your beloved pair has been discontinued, you’ll be properly stocked. Because hey, you’re going to need them eventually anyway right?

And there you have it. Totally natural progression. And yes, it is possible that I spend way too much time on a treadmill thinking about just this sort of thing…

'Til next time...

P.S. Still time to get into my Gu giveaway. Check it out here.

P.P.S. Are you on Facebook? Want to help out a fellow SOARM reader? Take two seconds and go vote for Amy Reinecke by “liking” her profile on Kansas City Fitness Magazine’s fan page. She’s trying to become 1 of 12 people who will take on a weight loss challenge. Let’s help her get in. Here’s the link. You’ll need to “like” Kansas City Fitness Magazine too before you can like her profile. (So ok, maybe that’s 4 seconds then.) Thanks everybody! Go get ‘em Amy!

*favorite readers – I do not actually have favorite readers. I love you all the same and each one of you are special to me in your own unique way. Now please go clean up your room ;-)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sylvania Tri in Pictures…sorta

I know. I know. The tri was how many weeks ago and I'm just getting these up here??

But in my defense I was waiting on an old friend to see if I’d get any pictures from her to post. But it seems the she’s disappeared just as quickly as she appeared (I have that effect on people).

So I don’t actually have any real live action shots for this race because my husband (the master photographer) didn’t come. It was just me and my mom, who were participating and my dad, who had a far more important job than photos, mainly being our pit crew. Well, ok, for that reason AND the fact that every time you hand him a camera and ask him to take pictures, you get about the same response as if you handed me a wrench and asked me to change the oil in your car. (Do you even need a wrench to change oil? I have no idea. Seriously.) It’s not that I couldn’t learn how to do it or follow directions if I was told. It’s just that I have absolutely no desire to learn and I know there’s someone else in the family (or someone I could pay) who’s far more talented and at least slightly more interested in doing it than I. It’s kind of like that with my dad and a camera. He COULD do it, but would just prefer to use his talents and abilities elsewhere.

But anywho…

This tri was not very spectator friendly. The swim was nothing but a sea (or quarry rather) of pink swim caps. Spectators had to stand outside of a fence waaaaaaaay up on a hill and chances were slim to none that you’d be able to identify the person you came to watch unless perhaps they threw caution to the wind, ripped off their cap and swam without one. Take that race officials and your silly silly rules!

The bike course was about the same (although, is a bike course ever really spectator friendly?). It was a big giant square in a rural area with really nowhere to setup a cheering section other than somebody’s front lawn. And as for the run, well, even though the run was in a park, that park was 1/2 mile away from the finish so it was highly likely that if you saw your runner at the park, you’d see them at the finish. And who wants to miss their runner at the finish?

Realizing all this the night before, I called my husband off. No sense waking the kiddos up super early not to see me even despite knowing this would be extremely disappointing to my 4 year old who had told me the day before that she, “couldn’t wait to watch me float on my back when I panicked during the swim like that nice lady (race director) said I should” at the rookie clinic. She’d just have to watch me float some other time.

So no husband meant no pictures. But being the extraordinarily perceptive blogger that I am, I knew you’d all want to see some. Had I been slightly more talented, I would have taken them on the fly, but considering I currently can not even take a drink from a water bottle while on the bike (or do anything that causes me to remove even one hand from the handle bars for that matter) without crashing, I was advised against this.

Therefore, I was left with just two options. Option #1: Get the pictures from that long lost friend of mine who’s dad and husband were snapping more than few, including some of me, myself, and I at my dad’s request. Or option #2: Try to recreate the event for you after the event had ended. Since option #1 has not panned out, I am left with only option #2 which I had the tremendous foresight to go ahead with purely as a precautionary measure in the event that option #1 did not end up being, well…an option. So here’s the Sylvania Women’s Only Tri in pictures…sorta:

First the swim, here’s the quarry:

swimcourse

We swam 1/4 mile around the perimeter in a counter clockwise circlish fashion way out past those blue buoys and that line that the casual observer might assume meant something like probably not a good place to swim. But apparently, not so since we swam right on by them.

It’s a quarry so pretty freaking deep. 20-25 feet at least at all points. The good news is that generally speaking you only have to swim on the surface, so it’s not really a problem. Plus you can’t see the bottom anyway which is both reassuring and very creepy all at the same time. You will also notice that it is completely calm. One major plus to quarry swimming. The only wake you're dealing with comes from other swimmers.

buoys

Now those are the actual buoys that marked the course. They were at one point in the water. I swear. If you’d like, I give you permission to take photo #1 and superimpose photo #2 to give yourself a better idea of what the course looked like.

And upon exiting the water, then we ran up this:runstairs That’s what I would’ve looked like running up the 35 steps to transition, if I swam with a hat and back pack on, my competition was invisible, kids were allowed to play in the middle of the swim and by running I actually meant standing still pretending to run.

Transition #1 (and 2 for that matter). Um….well…racks, bikes, people. You get the idea right? It was down already by the time I got back there to take a picture. So I got nothing.

Then there was bike (no picture), run (no picture) and FINISH!!

finish

Ok so I might not have done well in the photography department, but I did get at least one good one…

moms trophy

That’s Runnana (my mom) winning her first EVER trophy for 2nd place in her age group at the Duathlon. Have I mentioned yet, that she was never really athletic (besides a brief running affair when I was a little tyke) until she was in her 50’s? Yet now, she’s kicking some butt in her age group left and right (even though she can't resist talking to everyone while she runs). In fact, she also WON the Senior Olympics 5 mile bike in our county earlier this week AND came in 2nd in the 5K run. I have a feeling she’s just getting warmed up too. Not your average Grandma is she? Way to go Mom!

OH! And how could I forget? I also snapped this super creative post race breakfast photo for you (by accident)

food

You don’t even have to say it. I know. I’m a photographic genius. The abstract artistic expression in that photo is almost unreal. I’m thinking of having it framed actually. I believe Christie’s has already contacted my agent.

But enough silliness already. Want to see some actual photos of me participating? Here’s a link to the “real race photos” by the pros. You will notice that I maintain my streak of crookedness. I’m starting to think it’s my head and not the stuff I put on it. I suppose only time and more races will tell. And yes, I still refuse to buy actual tri clothes and thus I again biked in my bathing suit. Buying tri clothes (in my head anyway) means I am officially a triathlete and no longer just giving it a try. And I’m not ready to go there yet. Maybe one day. But not yet.

For now, the focus is the marathon and finally grabbing a hold of that solid performance that has of yet eluded me. Just 29 days folks…29 days…

'Til next time...

P.S. Need to re-stock on some Gu? Want to give it a try? Go enter my big Gu Giveaway. It’s right here. Never heard of it? You must be new here (hello. Thanks for stopping by.) Go click reviews at the top of the page and click any number of of the products that start with Gu. It is more than just that stuff in the bottom your toddler’s lost milk cup that’s been hiding under the couch for quite some time. Swear.

P.P.S. For those of you who want to know more of the specifics about the Sylvania Women's Only Triathlon. Here's my review on Racevine.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Run like you’re 4

DSCF6603 You can learn a lot from your kid’s fun run. More than you might expect.

The thing about kids is that everything just is what it is. They don’t care about times or finishing places, wicking fabrics or fancy watches that can tell you your pace, distance, heart rate and color of your underwear. They’re not concerned with race strategy, weather conditions, or the type of course they’re on. They just run for (dare I say it?) fun. And you can see it by the ear to ear grin on their precious little faces.

My daughter, after cheering me on at a number of races, had been BEGGING me to run one herself. Now she’d done a few tot trots in the past, and even the one mile fun run with the family on Thanksgiving in Detroit a couple of times, which is fast becoming somewhat of a family tradition. But this was different. This was the first time SHE asked to do a race as opposed to me entering her on my own, then convincing her there was fun to be had by running it. This was HER race.

So, I got her some real running shoes, pink and sparkly, (she needed a new pair of sneakers anyway, so why not make them conducive to running?) and a little running outfit. And last week, we even went and practiced at her request (as if the child needed to practice something she pretty much does all day everyday even when we don’t go outside and it’s only in circles around our living room). Saturday was the big race. The Wood Duck Dash 1/2 Mile Fun Run. Her 5 year old cousin would be running too.

And let me tell you, it’s amazing the things these kiddos picked up on from their running parents, without ever anybody really discussing it with them. Over at my nephew’s house, his biggest concerns on race day were that he didn’t have a fuel belt and his shoes would be to heavy or not right for running, so he brought a couple of pairs just in case. While at my house, my daughter opened the refrigerator looking for noodles for breakfast because “that’s what runners eat before they run.” (She doesn’t get up at 4:30AM to see what I actually eat before I run, so her best guess is what I eat the night before). I hadn’t prepped any noodles for breakfast, so I told her eggs had protein, berries antioxidants, and bananas potassium, all things runners needed to run fast. She didn’t know what any of those words were, but it sounded big, grown up and fancy enough to completely satisfy her. She happily ate every bite.

The race was scheduled to start at 9AM (which I knew because I checked AGAIN the night before on the registration form to be sure AND that is also exactly what it said on the big giant sign outside of the park. 9AM. Really. I have witnesses.) So we had planned on being there at 8:30 to get her bib, and let her warm up a little.

But apparently by 9AM start, they meant 8:40 AM because obviously when you set a start time for an event, as everyone knows, you actually mean for it begin 20 minutes earlier which is certainly not a problem at all for an event which involves getting kids ready and all that entails. No. Not all. (Is your computer screen dripping with sarcasm yet?)

So as we neared the park, I get a frantic phone call from my mom. “They are starting in 10 minutes!” A little back up at the park entrance, followed by weaving through the park to get to the right area, and I soon found myself booking to the starting line with my 4 year old right past the announcer who was now down to giving us a 3 minute warning. Honestly, if I had had a little more time and no bib to put on her, I probably would have given that dude an earful about NOT changing the time the day of with no warning on an event for little kids who had their hearts set on running it. But priority one was getting her in that race, no time for a side conversation.

As fast as I could, I pinned that sucker onto my daughter, as the director started lining up the kids to go. (Any idea how difficult it is to pin a bib on a 4 year old under pressure? I would have skipped the bib entirely, but that would NOT have flown with my daughter who knows better and whom I was trying desperately not to stick with a pin and thus scar from racing, bibs, or even just safety pins for the rest of her life.)

“EXCUSE ME SIR?!” she yelled to the man organizing the kids, “I JUST NEED TO GET ONE MORE PIN ON PLEASE.” So polite. We made due with the two pins I managed to get on and stepped up to the starting line still a little out of breath from the run to get there, but we had made it. Just in time.

It wasn’t a long race. In fact, the whole thing was done in less than 5 minutes (I seriously doubt it was actually a 1/2 mile for those of you impressed with my 4 year old’s sub 10 minute per mile pace.) But in those 5 minutes, this is what my daughter taught me or at the very least reminded me about running:

1. It’s fun to run fast. Really. When’s the last time you ran as fast as you could? Try it. It’s ok. Go ahead. If you’re nervous, find a place where no one can see you.

2. When you need a rest, take one. There’s no shame in walking if you need to so you can finish or run really really fast again.

3. Acknowledge your fans. I think my daughter yelled just as loudlyDSCF6617 when she saw her sister as her sister did for her. And why not? The people who come to cheer you on put their life on hold for a little bit to support you and some of them (my 2 year old being one) do not even quite understand why. Why not give them a little cheer, or at least a nod or a wave back to let them know you appreciate their support.

4. Sometimes taking a drink will make you run faster. There is no scientific reason why. It just will.

5. It’s ok if people run faster than you. There’s someone faster than them out there too.

6. It’s ok if your cousin beats you. At about the 1/2 way point, my nephew took the lead so I tried to encourage my daughter to run up and catch him. “It’s ok Mommy. I talked to him about this yesterday and I told him it’s ok if he beats me.” Running is an individual sport. Yes, there’s other people out there to race against. But really, the only person that matters is you. Can you do better than your previous best?

7. When you cross the finish line you win. My nephew, my daughter and some poor little boy who sobbed the entire way as his father dragged him along were the last three finishers in that order. Pretty far behind the rest of the kids too. “I won!” My nephew shouted excitedly when he crossed the finish with nobody in sight. A few seconds behind, my daughter shouted “I won too!” She’s right. Everybody who crosses the finish line wins. After all, it’s rarely ever the race that’s the big accomplishment, it’s everything you go through to get there that makes you a winner.

8. Post race snacks are almost as cool as the medal. Depending on the race and the snacks of course.

9. Celebrate your accomplishment. Ice cream and juice boxes for our winners.

10. Wear your medal proudly. You’ve earned it. And my girlie wore hers nearly all day.

But ultimately, what she reminded me of is that in the grand scheme of things, finishing times don’t matter. Sometimes, it’s more important to just put the watch away and be thankful I even CAN run. Savor every step. That’s what I watched my daughter do out there Saturday. Run for the sake of running. And in many ways, I sincerely hope she never ever loses that.

DSCF6616

'Til next time...

P.S. Don’t forget, there’s a whole lot of Gu to be won and if you’re reading this post, you are probably already in some way qualified to enter my contest (and if not, it’ll only take you all of two seconds to do so). Here’s the link. And if you want to double your chances at winning a Gu care package(or if you are in my family and thus not eligible to win my contest), click my giveaway button on the upper right of your screen. Because there’s another terrific blogger running a big Gu giveaway right now too!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Big Gu Giveaway

Oh yes. It’s that time. Just what you’ve all been waiting for. The reviews are done and now it’s time for one of you lucky lucks to get hooked up. Seriously hooked up.

I heard from Scott at Outside Pr yesterday and he said let’s give away “a mix of all the flavors and products you tried.” (AWWW YEAH!)

So let’s recap for those of you who might be newly joining us or perhaps can’t quite remember what exactly that mix would include. You can catch up on the reviews by clicking here. But in the meantime, here’s a list of what I tried:

Gu Energy Gels

  • Chocolate Outrage
  • Espresso Love
  • Strawberry Banana
  • Lemon Sublime
  • Vanilla Bean
  • Mint Chocolate
  • Jet Blackberry
  • Mandarin Orange **NEW FLAVOR**

Gu Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gels

  • Pineapple
  • Vanilla Orange
  • Blueberry Pomegranate

Gu Chomps

  • Cranberry Apple
  • Blueberry Pomegranate
  • Orange
  • Strawberry

Gu Electrolyte Brew

  • Lemon Lime
  • Blueberry Pomegranate

Gu Recovery Brew

  • Strawberry Watermelon
  • Orange Pineapple

Alright come on now. Who loves ya baby? Actually, it’s Outside PR and Gu. I have no real power over the distribution of free Gu Products. I’m just the middle man. So feel free to shower your thanks and praises upon them.

And yep. For those of you who read my Gu Energy Gel review and are wondering how I got my hot little hands on some Mint Chocolate and Jet Blackberry since they don’t carry those flavors at my local store and I didn’t initially receive them, you’ll be happy to know that Scott came to my short long run rescue and sent me some to try.

And can I just say: Oh. My. Word. Don’t be surprised if there’s a future post about me on a dark desperate night lying on the couch surrounded by empty Mint Chocolate Gu packets or a specially ordered box for specific use of frosting my birthday cake. Easily, this one has slipped up and knocked Vanilla Bean off the top slot and you know how I feel about Vanilla Bean (if not, click here at your own risk. But be forewarned, your opinion of me may never be the same).

And Jet Blackberry? Well, that one rocks too. Doesn’t quite surpass Vanilla Bean, but definitely takes the bronze. I’m thinking it’s not that my running store doesn’t carry those flavors after all. More like they can’t keep them on the shelves. So so yummy.

But let’s get on with the giveaway details, shall we? Please let me know via the comments how many times and in what ways you’ve entered. Only one comment is necessary. Some day I’ll use random.org like the rest of you, but for now, I like giving my 4 year old the thrill of picking the winner out of a big bowl of names. (Actually, I keep the bowl for about a week and randomly reward her for things by letting her pick “another winner.” She has no idea there’s only one. She is a little miffed though that she’s never picked her own name or anyone she knows for that matter. But I digress…)

Required to Enter:

1. Become a follower of this blog or let me know if you already are one and you’d like a chance at the Gu care package that Scott’s putting together.

Additional Entries (each worth one additional entry):

1. Leave me a totally random fact about you. (Just for fun. Let’s see what sort of crazies we’re dealing with here :-) And don’t just put, I have blue eyes. Tell us something a little more interesting. No offense to people with blue eyes btw.)

2. Like Outside PR on Facebook

3. Like Gu on Facebook

4. Like Secrets of A Running Mom on Facebook

5. Suggest Secrets of A Running Mom to your friends.

5. Update your FB Status about this contest. (NOTE: But you must say something more creative than Gu Giveaway and the link. I don’t care what, but make it interesting, include the link and leave what you wrote in the comment.)

6. Follow Outside PR on Twitter

7. Follow Gu on Twitter

8. Follow me on Twitter

9. Tweet about this contest (Ditto on #5.)

10. Blog about this contest (adding to your giveaway section counts)

11. Add me to your blog roll

12. Email your friends about the contest

13. Tell your friends in person about the contest

14. Go add something funny that you’ve said to your kids to my funny things parents say post here.

15. Come hang out with me on the Daily Mile.

**PHEW** Ok that’s really a lot of ways to enter. But you don’t have to do them all, I just wanted to give you some options. Serious options. Plus some of you might be on Twitter but not FB or vice versa. And for those of you who are going to do the work and do them all, well why not reward you with a few more entries then eh?

So that’s the deal. If you already have become a FB fan, Twitter Follower, etc, just let me know and that will count too. All entries must be received by 11:59PM on Thursday, August 26th and the winner (sorry only one) will be announced on Friday, August 27th. They’ll have 48 hours to respond and if they do not, we’ll pick another.

Good luck!

'Til next time...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grins & Giggles: Funny Things Parents Say

So we did the kiddos last time and all the funny things they say. But how about us? Ever catch yourself saying something to your little one that despite being highly appropriate is also pretty hilarious in and of itself? I know I certainly have a few. Here's a few more:

http://www.childrentoday.com/articles/fictionopinionessayshumor/parents-say-the-darndest-things-1633/

If you've got one, be sure to leave us a comment so we can all get a chuckle.


'Til next time...

P.S. I smell a Gu Giveaway. Come back tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review Crew: Gu Brew

Gu Brew comes in two delightful little varieties. Electrolyte: products_electrolyte And Recovery:

products_recoveryLet me not beat around the bush here guys. I’m totally sold on both of these products. And the funny thing is, I did not even know either of them existed until Scott, from Outside PR, sent some to me to try, despite the fact that my own sister had already recently purchased some for herself.

Let me talk Gu Electrolyte Brew first. Some of you will recall from my Roctane Review and Sweaty Sweaty Me story, that I’m a particularly heavy salty sweater which makes me prone to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia on my long runs. I’ve got to be very careful to drink enough fluids with enough sodium or my electrolytes quickly get out of wack which makes me nauseous (this, in my case, is the first sign of trouble), if not resolved, this will quickly turn into headaches, blurred vision, and at the worst it’s ever been, just this side of passing out.

A lot of reading, followed by a lot of trying various products, led me to Gatorade Endurance (now G2 Series Pro) which I’ve been using faithfully for about a year now. The higher sodium content (as opposed to the regular Gatorade or Powerade I was using before) made a huge huge difference in my running.

So when I received the Gu Brew, honestly, I was not excited to try it and almost pawned it off on somebody else. Why mess when you’ve got a good thing going right? But then, something caught my eye. On the Blueberry Pomegranate Flavor, it read “2X Sodium.” And all I could think was, “oh yeah, baby. Come to mamma.” So a little comparison between G2 and Gu Brew for ya (based on an 8oz serving of each, neither of which unfortunately comes packaged that way, so please don’t hold me accountable if my math is wrong. I am absolutely terrible at math even WITH a calculator. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I am, what I believe one might consider, entirely absent of my left brain. So you’d do well to add an ish to all these numbers. Oh and technically, G2’s serving size was like 8.4 oz, but you better believe I was not gonna try to turn Gu’s 24oz serving into 8.4oz. 8oz will just have to do):

G2 Pro SeriesGu Brew
Calories5053.3
Sodium200mg243mg
Potassium90mg19mg
Carbs14g13g
Sugars14g4g

Right off the bat, I liked the higher sodium content and that less of the carbs were coming from sugars. And when you read a little bit more about the Brew on Gu’s website, you’ll see they’re proud to keep it simple and keep out the additives which sounds pretty good to me too. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the how the lower potassium content would effect me and how this formula would sit on my oh so sensitive stomach.

I didn’t end up taking it out on a long run (actually I tried, but that run was a bust by no fault of Gu), but did I use it on a couple of shorter, but more intense 8ish mile runs. It worked great, no signs of nausea which would have meant that there was a little something lacking in the electrolyte department. And even better, I was thrilled to discover the flavor is very light. If you’re like me and you can’t stomach seriously intense flavors, especially sweet on long runs, this will work great for you. I definitely get sick of the strong taste of G2 by the end of a long run. I don’t think I’ll have that problem with this one which will thus make me more inclined to drink and that, my friends, is a good thing.

Now, I also tried the lemon lime flavor at the regular sodium content on a much much shorter run. If you’re not a heavy or particularly salty sweater or you’re running an hour or less, this will work great for you. The sodium content in an 8oz serving is 125 mg. And compared to the G2 lemon lime (or regular Gatorade or Powerade), the flavor is more like water with a hint of lemon and lime. Whereas, G2 is much much more intense.

RECOVERY BREW

For starters, I was thrilled to try this drink as I had been virtually floating around recovery drink land since they reformulated the Slimfast meal replacement drinks to be less recovery drink and more diet friendly (which I suppose was the original intent anyway eh?) and the whole consumer report on Myoplex containing arsenic and cadmium (FYI: Myoplex’s response to that is here. You can draw your own conclusion). I tried a bunch of drinks and had unhappily settled on Gatorade’s G3 Pro Series. Unhappily mostly because those suckers are nearly $5 a drink. Um…I run a lot.

Can I just say, I totally love love love this Gu Recovery Brew. All I know about this stuff is it tastes TERRIFIC, compared to the other recovery drinks on the market I’ve tried AND I was not sore the day after a hard speed workout or the day after a 15 mile long run (although in all fairness, I did take an ice bath after the 15 mile run). I don’t know how it works and quite frankly, I don’t care. I’m just totally thrilled that it does and I don’t have to force myself to gag it down. I love it. (Did I say that already?) I tried both orange pineapple and strawberry watermelon and let’s just say I’ve already ordered a canister of each (and a canister of blueberry pomegranate electrolyte brew too btw).

Now, the Spazz is not exactly in agreement with me on this one, so let me make sure to give you the other side of the coin too.

marie The Spazz says:

Flavor Strawberry Watermelon
”Recovery Brew is a powdered drink with sugar, protein, and electrolytes to help replenish what was lost after a long run. The directions say to mix with 16 oz of water. I am not a big fan of large sugary drinks after a run. One serving contains 17g of sugar and only 8g of protein. I prefer more protein (like 16g) and lower sugar (like 3g or 4g) in a post work out drink. No use adding a bunch of calories back into your system after you just tried to burn them off.”

*************************************************************************************

Now, I hear her argument and it’s a valid point. I’ve done a little more perusing and I can find some recovery drinks with less sugar and more protein. But I suppose I’m of the opposite school of thought, I’ve just worked my tail off and gosh darn it I deserve a recovery drink that doesn’t taste like chalk or garbage or chalky garbage for that matter

However, it should also be noted that the serving size for Gu’s recovery drink is about twice the size of some of the other ones on the market which might account for some of the difference in sugar. And I was shocked to see that the G3 Pro Series I’d been using has 46 g of sugar in a comparable serving. (So yeah, if you’re concerned about sugar, might want to forgo Gatorade’s recovery drink).

For more in depth information on Gu Recovery Brew and how it works, you can find the skinny here.

But that’s pretty much it for my Gu product reviews. If you missed any, you can click the Review button at the top of the page, I’m archiving them for future reference there.

I suppose all that’s left is for us to do now is a little Gu giveaway right? Hmmm…What will it be? What will it be? You’ll have to stick around a little bit longer to find out.

'Til next time...

P.S. My sister had a little bit of trouble getting her Gu Brew to mix up and I’ve read the same on a couple of other reviews. To avoid that problem, fill your water bottle only half way with room temperature water (not cold) and add the Brew. Shake it up until it dissolves, then finish adding the appropriate amount of water cold water. Shake again and VOILA! No chunks.

What smells worse than skunk funk?

Looney-Tunes-Valentine-Pepe And I know a thing or two about skunk funk being that I’ve run through it on occasion in the wee hours of the morning at the park. As a matter of fact, this past weekend on my long run, I woke up real quick when I spotted a teeny little black critter headed my way.

It was early on, mile 2, still dark and my pops, who was accompanying me on his bike, and I had just finished talking about my sister’s run in with a snarling pack of raccoons on her long run the day before, when lo and behold, I thought I saw something moving up ahead. I still had raccoons on the brain and since they’re not uncommon to see in my area while running, I figured it was one of the masked bandits (which would also have made me pick up the pace. They totally freak me out). But there is a major size difference between these two wild beasts of the night, not too mention raccoons have a rather distinct gait as opposed to the slow steady movements of a skunk (cause really? Why would he need to run? Who’s gonna mess with him?). And the closer I got to his general locale, I realized this was definitely no raccoon, but it just didn’t register right away as to what sort of little guy was moving in my direction. Cat maybe?

I kept running and an eye on the unidentified hopefully non-threatening animal trying to figure it out (remember, it was still really dark). Hmmm….what’s small, black and oh look…lifts it’s tail stick straight up into the air just like that? Cue the light bulb.

“That’s a skunk!” I yelled to my dad, pointing as I picked up the pace to an all out sprint before he let that God awful smell loose as I’m assuming he was about to do, hence the whole tail raising. I don’t actually know if that is some sort of skunk warning sign, since I am certainly no skunk expert, but I’m figuring a scent like that could only come from one possible location and he’d  probably need to get his tail out of the  way to make that happen. Maybe not though. Maybe skunks are plagued with a massive case of halitosis and I’ve got it all wrong.

Fortunately, he was not quick on the draw and my dad and I were spared 16 miles drenched in Ode de Pepé Le Pew (in other words I am both faster than a speeding mosquito AND an annoyed skunk. Take that nature!). Unfortunately, it seems the little guy radioed ahead to let one of his buddies know we were coming. About a mile and a half later, we had the distinct pleasure of running into that delightful smell me missed earlier. Yum. Although, I AM massively thankful to have not run into the perp head on for sure. He was nowhere in sight though his presence was duly noted.

So what could possibly be worse than skunk funk? Heed this warning. Please, I beg you. For your own sake and the sake of those around you.

Should you choose to run 18 miles in the sweltering heat, literally rendering the wicking properties of the hi tech fabric of your running clothes useless, then follow that with an ice bath in those same said sweat drenched clothes (why in your clothes? Because mentally, it is somehow less cold, but still just as effective) at your parents’ house before making the drive home for a shower, thus requiring you to transport your wrung out, although still wet clothes in a plastic bag, YOU MUST (read this carefully) YOU MUST TAKE THOSE CLOTHES OUT OF THE PLASTIC BAG AND WASH THEM THE MINUTE YOU GET HOME. 

Under no circumstances, regardless of how tired you may be from the run or distracted by your children who are so excited to see you that you’d think you just got back from a month long trip rather than a couple hour run (must of which they slept through btw), should you forget about your clothes. Because 2 day old sweaty wet clothes that have been tied up tight in a plastic bag so the stink doesn’t get out will aromatically multiply exponentially. It is FAR FAR worse than running through skunk funk. It’s almost that “Come here you’ve got to smell this” kind of stink. You know, because you need someone to verify the absolute wretchedness of the scent, as if it’s somehow less stinky if you smell it alone or single sniffer smelling just does not do the funk justice. It’s bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.

I’m hoping my washer is not powerless against it. Rinse and repeat…

'Til next time...

 

P.S. Another Gu review is just moments away! Which puts us that much closer to a Gu giveaway!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scape Sunscreen Winner + MORE Giveaways YAY!

And congratulations goes to…

MEDIEVALIST

Winner of the Scape Sunscreen contest. I’ll be contacting you shortly with the details. As for the rest of you, if you’re feeling a little left out of the giveaway love, not to fear. I’ve found a slew of others around bloggerville for you. Click here to check them out.

'Til next time...

Weirdest trip to GNC ever

I did it again. I let myself get down to the bare naked nothingness of endurance nutrition products. I’ve got exactly enough Gu Roctane to get through this weekend’s long run, but that’s about it. No electrolyte replacement drink for during the run. No recovery beverage for after (although that one I could get by without by just forcing myself to to eat something after my run. I just generally don’t feel like eating right away and would prefer to just drink my post run nutrients instead). But that I’ve wound up in this position again would be a shock to no one who’s had the opportunity to peek in my fridge pre-grocery shopping day which doesn’t happen until I’m down to something like fossilized pickles and a variety of condiments to choose from for meal preparation.

With no time to head out to a running store today, I went for the next best thing GNC. They don’t carry my first choice of electrolyte drink and their (or Gatorade’s rather) recovery drink is way overpriced in my humble opinion (if you’re going to charge me $5 for a recovery drink I better feel pretty much like I’ve just spent an entire weekend at a spa being pampered), but it would have to suffice. So with both kiddos in tow, a loud DING signaled our entrance into the treasury of general nutrition products.

And right off the bat, I should have known this was not going to be your average shopping experience (but is it ever really your average shopping experience when you’ve got two little ones with you?). There was no one in the store. No one. Not even an employee. Now, I would just generally assume the employee was in the back somewhere checking Facebook on their Iphone or something, but this…this was GNC. And anybody who’s ever set foot in a GNC (at least the ones by my house) for any reason at all knows, that upon entering, you are as a general rule of thumb approached and greeted by an employee who will offer to help and/or attempt to sell you something. And even if you assure them you know just exactly precisely what you are looking for, they will mercilessly follow you throughout the store until it’s time for you to checkout at which point they will make their best attempt to up sell or convince you of some additionally needed can’t live without product (try this chew. It’s amazing!).

Now, it’s their job. I get that. They are always friendly and it’s far better than being ignored, but I must admit, sometimes I get the impression that some of these poor GNC employees have been shipped straight in off a desert island where they’ve had no contact with other real actual live people. They’re just so excited to talk to you that they will without fail force an awkward conversation upon you whether you like it or not no matter how many subtle back off signs you try to send their way. (Really, I'm not anti-social, but when my kids are around, I am get in, get what I need and get before a meltdown occurs kind of gal. I'd much rather deal with meltdowns at home in private that publicly in a store).

So right off, not being approached, this was weird. I wandered around looking for Gatorade Endurance (or whatever they’re calling it now…G2 Pro Series I think), their souped up version of the regular Gatorade, and finally found it in the back of the store all the while my 4 year old is going “where is everybody mommy? I don’t think anybody works here.” I grabbed a box, mentally calculating how many runs it would be before I could get to the actual running store and passed out the appropriate number of recovery drinks for my children to carry since I couldn’t very well carry my toddler, a box of G2 AND 3 recovery drinks without dropping at least some of my precious cargo, more specifically my child, and headed to the counter. Still no employee.

We set everything down and I figured an employee would be out in a minute considering I do, in fact, have the loudest children on the face of the earth (I’ll put them up against anybody.) and they were beginning to get revved up. The toddler will only be held for so long and my 4 year old goes nowhere without whistling or singing or some combination of the two and she was bored.

A couple minutes passed and finally a guy comes out the back, drying off his hands (which yeah, sort of grosses me out, although I suppose I should be thankful he washed them right?) and just gives me this dumbfounded look. “Oh!” He says, “I didn’t know you were here. I didn’t hear you. Have you been here long? Usually there’s a bell.” There was a bell, but I really just wanted to get going since things had been fairly uneventful so far and that rarely lasts long, so I said “Oh. It’s ok. No big deal. I’m all ready to checkout.” He walks over to the counter still talking about how he was sorry and he can’t believe he didn’t hear us. It must have been because he was brushing his teeth.

Um…yeah. I guess brushing your teeth would make it kind of hard to hear a little bell. Now, is it just me or was this kind of a weird thing to be doing at 10:30 in the morning at your place of employment? And if not, because yeah, I can think of some reasons why one might be brushing their teeth at the very beginning of their work shift (he forgot to do it at home, was out of toothpaste at home and had to pick it up on the way, has massive gingivitis that requires him to brush his teeth more frequently than the average bear, ate a particularly stinky back room snack, GNC has very strict teeth and gum cleanliness policy, etc), but why for the love of all that’s holy would you tell someone this as if it’s a perfectly normal thing to do? Are you trying to start some teeth brushing revolution? Make frequent brushing the "in thing" to do? And furthermore, how long exactly does it take to brush one’s teeth?

But then it gets better, especially in light of the whole Power Bar debacle. Once we have satisfactorily addressed his teeth brushing and lack of hearing, he takes a look at the products on the counter (3 recovery drinks and a box of G2 Pro Series) and says this: “So who’s gonna be drinking all this?”

Really guys, I’m not easily offended, I swear. But is it so totally outrageous to think this little mamma would be using those products? Because when I responded, “me,” you should have seen the look of shock on his face. “So what do you do? Do you run or something?” He asked. Now really, I don’t believe he was purposefully trying to offend me or anything and I’m a polite person willing to give the benefit of the doubt, so I just smiled and said, “yep. I run.”

Sensing an opportunity or maybe thinking he’d do me a favor by saving me some money, he then made an effort to sell me on another recovery drink by Gatorade “the little ones” Had I seen those? I hadn’t. I wasn’t even aware Gatorade made a “little recovery drink.” “Oh yeah,” he told me and took me over to show me G1 Prime, you know, Gatorade’s PRE workout drink. So I asked the dude, “Is that a recovery drink?” His response: “Well no. But you can use it as one. I do and my kids love it.” (do I even need to add a comment here?)

After convincing him that I was all set, he headed back to the counter to ring me up and proceeded to ask the one question that I had seriously hoped he would not. “So how far is your run this weekend?” I know. I know. He was just making conversation and I would never have expected him to guess that I was training for a marathon, but experience has taught me that this can sometimes not be a fun question to answer. It’s not that I’m embarrassed about what I do or worried about what people think. You just can’t really answer the question “how far is your run?” with anything over 10 miles to someone who doesn’t themselves do that kind of running without an explanation. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but really, an explanation is nearly always required.

And really I have no idea why 10 miles is the arbitrary cut off because 10 miles is a pretty dang far run too. But 10 just seems to be more acceptable. If I tell somebody 10 they might say, “Wow”, but there’s no jaw dropping or “I’m sorry what"?” like if you say you’re running 15 or 20. And sometimes, I’m just not looking to take the time to give an explanation which almost always makes me feel obligated to also give a dissertation on why endurance running is so awesome and so very not crazy (like brushing your teeth at work sort of is ;-) See. It’s all relative).

But I’m also not a liar. So I answered him, “I don’t know. It’s either going to be 18 or 20 this weekend.” Insert jaw dropping here. “18 or 20?” as if suddenly he was entirely unsure of what sort of measuring system I was using to calculate my distance. “Miles.” I told him. Which then led to some head shaking and talk of another guy who works there that does that and my dissertation (but don’t worry. He just started biking and so he totally gets it.) And then, since he’s now determined I’m some sort of serious athlete (whatever that means), he pulls out some giant tub of expensive powder that is apparently “the best recovery drink on the market.” So much for using G1 as my recovery drink eh?

And here’s the best part. All the while this conversation is going on, my toddler is flirting with him. Grinning and making little eyes and my 4 year old is really really really quiet. (Alert. Alert. Danger) Eventually helpful Mr. Healthy Gums GNC man finally bags up my stuff and I take a look down to find said 4 year old removing her hand from her pocket. Now what could she possibly be putting in her pocket at the GNC store?

So I ask her. Only to find the little thief has found the “Take a penny. Leave a penny.” dish and decided to go ahead and take a few pennies. “It doesn’t bother him.” She assured me. “He didn’t even see.” After forcing her to return the pennies and a long conversation about stealing, we got into the car.

“Honey, you know, if a grown up were to do what you just did, the police would arrest them and put them into jail.” I continued once the girlies were both strapped in their respective seats. “Well, I’m not a grown up.” she reminded me. Excellent point. To which I replied, “well, sometimes they put kids in jail too.” (what’s up now my little 4 year old?) This brought silence as she pondered what I had just said.

I reached for my cell phone to call my mom and tell her about what had just happened. While I waited for her to answer, I started backing up to drive home. “Who are you calling Mommy?” my 4 year old asked. I didn’t immediately answer and this brought panic. “Mommy! Mommy! Who are you calling? Is it the police? Mommy, please don’t call the police. Please don’t call the police. Mommy! Mommy! Mommy, put the phone down please!”

My mom didn’t answer, so I put the phone down thinking I might as well take advantage of the opportunity that had presented itself. “Why don’t you want me to call the police?” I asked her. “Because I don’t want to go to jail.” she replied. “Oh. Are you going to steal anything again?” I asked. “No Mommy, I won’t.” Well ok then. Point made.

See. Missing employees, teeth brushing, and child theft or theft by child rather. Weirdest GNC trip ever. And it only took 15 minutes.


'Til next time...

P.S. Drawing a winner for the Scape review right after my run. Keep an eye out.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Attn Power Bar: You are on my list!

I am ticked. So be forewarned. This post is going to be a rant. Pure and simple.

While in the middle of making dinner tonight, somewhere between waiting for the rice to boil and prepping veggies, I found myself with a minute or two to spare and thought I’d take advantage of it. My new Runner’s World had come in the mail and I figured I at least had time flip to the back page and see who the featured celebrity you wouldn’t necessarily expect to run is (first thing I look at every month. I have no idea why this fascinates me so).

But I got distracted. Upon opening the little plastic wrap that housed my magazine, a booklet fell out. Sports Nutrition for Distance Runners. Hmmm…Interesting, especially considering I just did a post yesterday about Gu Roctane. I was intrigued.

Now right on the cover is the Power Bar logo and I’m not a rocket scientist but I’m fully aware that this means the little booklet was paid for and put together by Power Bar as ultimately a way to sell their products. I’ve got no problem with this. Just because they’re selling something doesn’t mean they are not also giving you good information. So I read/skimmed on and all was well until page 3 under the Fueling section where I read this:

“A single long-distance run can wipe out carbohydrate fuel reserves. In addition, back –to-back shorter workouts can also rapidly deplete muscle glycogen reserves if they aren’t promptly replenished after each workout. [Yep. Right. I’m with ya.] When these fuel stores run dry during exercise, you turn to liver glycogen reserves to maintain your blood glucose level. But once liver glycogen stores are tapped, your blood sugar level drops, fatigue sets in, and you hit the wall. [Mmhmm. Still following, but it’s about to get really interesting.]

Imagine running miles 1 through 18 of a marathon at your usual 6-minute-per-mile pace with a steady heart rate [LMAO. Um…ok that’s pretty fast, but I’m game. I do have a four year old after all and a little experience exercising my imagination.] –you’re feeling good. [probably not so much. Maybe I should pretend I’m someone else?] But unfortunately, you’re just about to burn through your muscle glycogen reserves. And as those fuel reserves hit empty, your pace steadily slows to the point where you end up finishing your last mile in a pedestrian 9 minutes!” [emphasis added, but not the exclamation point.]

Uh…EXCUSE ME! Oh no you didn’t just say that. You are really going to describe a 9 minute mile, and one at the end of a 26.2 mile run no less, as “pedestrian!”? Are you kidding me?

**Deep Breath** Ok. I get the point you were making Power Bar. You were only trying to illustrate tanking at a marathon. And someone who drops there pace from 6 minutes per mile to 9 minutes per mile has definitely tanked. I got it. And if one were to look pedestrian up, I suppose technically the word applies if you take it on it’s first definition: “going or performed on foot'” since running is in fact done on foot.

But let’s be honest here, we know what you were getting at. What you were unintentionally (I hope) saying is that a 9 minute mile pace is undesirable, slow, or pedestrian as in it’s second definition “of, relating to, or designed for walking.” (And as a total and utter sidenote, wouldn’t it be funny if the entire pedestrian world DID travel at a 9 minute per mile pace. Think about that for a second. A pregnant mother with two kiddos in tow, an elderly gentleman with his walker, a couple of teenager girls window shopping. All of them moving at a 9 minute per mile pace. Life on fast forward. But shockingly, I digress…)

Perhaps you would do well to note Power Bar, that the average marathon finishing time last year for men was 4:32:17, or a 10:24 min/mile pace, and for women 4:52:31, an 11:10 min/mile pace, (statistics via marathonguide.com) Let’s see now, your athlete who “hit the wall” at mile 18 would cross the finish at…oh…at about 3:01:48 if we just calculate those last 8.2 miles all at that “pedestrian” 9 min/mile pace although you did suggest a gradual slow down which would more likely have your athlete breaking the 3 hour mark. Had he/she been able to maintain their “usual 6-minute-per-mile” “steady heart rate” pace, which is what you were suggesting would happen if they used your product, they would have finished in 2:37:12. I’m sorry, who exactly did you write your nutrition guide for?

Let’s see here. I do believe the women’s world record is held by Paula Radcliffe at 2:15:25. So I’m gonna go right ahead and call your athlete elite and gamble that someone who is capable of running 2:37:12 probably already has their nutrition plan figured out and wouldn’t need your handy little guide. Just a guess though. I could be wrong.

No Power Bar, you wrote that little guide for the very athletes that you chose to insult. The ones who you hoped would go out and buy your product. You know, the pedestrians who BECAUSE they are out there working it out for a much longer time than the super fasties would potentially buy A LOT MORE OF YOUR STUFF (I’m sorry. I don’t mean to yell. It’s just so very frustrating).

And what’s far worse to me about all this is that Power Bar KNOWS these pedestrian paced runners are the ones who make them profitable. If you flip to the last page of the nutrition guide, you’ll see a picture of a finish line and clock that reads “4:42:45” as they sum up the benefits of their products. One would think they meant 4:42:45 then as a good thing right? I mean why would you sum up your product benefits and illustrate it with a crappy finish time? But then again, one would also think you would not rip on the running pace of your potential customers. So who knows?

Somebody dropped the ball here. Actually, a few somebodies dropped the ball. No way did that guide go to print without at least two or three sets of eyeballs taking a look (and I am really hoping one of those sets of eyeballs did not come from Runner’s World otherwise they’re gonna make my list too). Those somebodies were either completely clueless about distance running OR worse, they’re running snobs and you know how I feel about them.

Now, I almost just let this go. Poor poor choice of words and an extremely stupid example to use considering who they were marketing to. I haven’t been thrilled with Power Bar products in the past, and their nutrition guide was probably not going to convince me to run out and go buy some now (although I did read some good stuff about their new Energy Bites and I was thinking of giving them a go. Probably gonna pass on that now.) But the more I thought about this, the angrier I got.

And then…I thought of you all and the emails, facebook messages, and comments I get from those of you who are brand spanking new runners, excited and nervous all at once about the running journey you’ve stepped out and begun and…the mamma in me came out. Just in the off chance that one of you all might happen across this nutrition guide, I couldn’t just look the other way without comment.

So listen up my mid to back of the packers and newbie running friends! I am talking specifically to you now. And I want you to know, YOU ROCK! I know you make sacrifices every time you lace up those shoes and there quite frequently are other things you’d rather be doing. I know sometimes it hurts. I know sometimes you feel like you want to quit. I know it’s hard and that life gets in the way from time to time. And I know there are those of you who take the big leap to run a race despite worrying you’ll come in last. BUT YOU RUN ANYWAY! And that, my friends, tells me something about your character. It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and discipline to run no matter what your minute per mile pace is and you are a terrific example of healthy living for your children, family and friends who are all (I guarantee it) watching.

So keep it up! And don’t worry about the running snobs and the Power Bars of the world. They’d all do well to note that without the pack running behind them, they’d have no one to fund their races or buy their stuff. Fast is all relative anyway. And ultimately, it really doesn’t matter when you finish, just that you do.

Ok, I’ve got waaaaay more to say on this, but that’s long enough. Rant ended. Ten pedestrian miles for me tomorrow…

'Til next time...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review Crew: Gu Roctane

_0030_products_roctane_flavors Ok now it’s time. Time for the sweaty sweaty me story. It’s an emotional tale of one young girl’s journey of growth, courage and perseverance as she discovers who she truly is…a powerfully efficient cooling machine.

It all started back in high school. I was about to enter my freshman year and desperately wanted to be on the basketball team which meant only one thing: open gyms in the summer. All the prospective basketball players met at the high school gym for pickup games the coaches would come watch, I’m sure mentally picking their teams before tryouts officially began. Who was on the team and who was not would be fought out on the floor (uh…actually I think they let everybody make the team. I can’t remember for sure, but for sake of the story let’s go with cuts. Lots and lots of young women got cut).

The gym was hot and humid and I gave it all I had hoping I could make up for whatever I lacked in coordination (dribbling and shooting were not my friends) through speed on defense, a serious work ethic, and a whole lot of heart. After the very first open gym, I flopped into the passenger seat of my mom’s car feeling good, accomplished if you will. I had left my best effort on the floor. My mom took one look at me, glanced around at the other girls leaving the gym and asked one question that would drastically change everything.

“Kelly,” she said, then paused briefly. “Did you pour water over yourself or something?” It was at that very moment that I realized I wasn’t like the other girls with their tiny ring around the collar sweat and mildly perspiring hairlines. I was literally dripping. My hair was sopping and there was almost not a dry spot to be found on my shirt. From that day forward, I tried to be pro-active disguising my excessive sweat. The minute I sensed the sweat was getting heavy, I would dump water over myself under the facade of cooling off, although the simple truth is I was embarrassed.

These days, I really don’t care much what people think about the ridiculous amount I sweat. I mean, for crying out loud, I’ve birthed two babies and you can’t put yourself in a much more out there, open, honest, humbling position than that.

I still sweat heavily. In fact, even just thinking hot thoughts (don’t be dirty, I mean as in actual weather temperatures or the result of physical exertion…wait…HEY! I said don’t get dirty) can start me sweating. And on top of this delightful little trait of mine, you should further know that my sweat is particularly salty. I am coated with a fine dusting of tiny white granules when I finish (want some fries with that?).

So who cares right? And what exactly does this have to do with Gu Roctane? Oh my, ladies and gentleman…so so very much. And if you too happen to be a heavy or particularly salty sweater and you’ve had some trouble on long runs, you’re definitely going to want to sit up and take notice.

There’s a little known condition, at least for the average Joe runner, (or Kelly)called hyponatremia, sometimes referred to as water intoxication. Basically, when you sweat you lose sodium (electrolytes), which is important to the body in the proper balance. If you sweat a lot over the course of an endurance event, due extreme weather conditions, because you are a heavy sweater or whatever and you do not replace the sodium you have sweat out, the result is this potentially life threatening condition called hyponatremia. Part of what is so life threatening about this condition is that the symptoms closely mimic dehydration for which the treatment is generally more water. Problem being more water for someone who is hyponatremic only dilutes the electrolytes they have left, worsening the condition which can lead to seizures, coma or even death (though rare).

And how, you might ask, do I know about this? Let’s just say, I’m pretty sure I’ve been hyponatremic on far too many occasions. In fact, at this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve nailed down exactly what I need to do to prevent hyponatremia and in the event that symptoms do start to rear their ugly head, I’ve learned how to respond (here’s where I tell you I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, and everybody’s body is different, do not just take the advice of this little random blogger but check with your doctor if you think you may have an electrolyte problem on runs…or any other health problem for that matter).

For sweaty sweaty me, preventing hyponatremia means using a higher than your average sodium content drink and gel on my runs. When I go out for the long haul, Gatorade and Power Gel doesn’t cut it. Now enter Gu Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel (and an electrolyte replacement drink to be named later ;-)). Same little easy to open package of yummy gooey goodness BUT with a higher sodium content than regular Gu. (Plus a whole bunch of other added stuff, that I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I don’t totally understand. Something about aiding in recovery, reducing fatigue, and some blah blah scientific sounding talk of amino acids that immediately sends me reading in skim mode, in a Charlie Brown school teacher voice no less. But for those of you who are more detail oriented or scientifically inclined, you can read about it here. Go ahead. You can go read it. I promise not to hold it against you and I won’t continue until you get back. Promise.)

(Ok. Now that you’re back…) So, I love this stuff. Gu Roctane coupled with that high sodium electrolyte drink have taken me from having not only major trouble on any runs over 15 miles, but even trouble for HOURS afterwards to virtually zip zilch nada problems on my long runs. And rather than walking around like night of the living dead for the rest of the day following my big runs, I’m pretty much back to myself (although I’ll admit, my pillow calls a little early on those days, but that could also be from a 4:30AM alarm clock). I pretty much don’t long run without it anymore.

About my only beef with Gu Roctane is that there is no vanilla bean flavor (please Gu people I beg you. Is vanilla bean Roctane too much to ask?). Don’t get me wrong. The Roctane flavors are tasty, they’re just not vanilla bean. **SIGH** My dear sweet vanilla bean. Out of the Roctane flavors, I’m a toss up between blueberry pomegranate and vanilla orange. Both are good. Pineapple…well…let me just say, if you REALLY like pineapple, you are going to LOVE this flavor. Too sweet for my liking.

Now, I know you’d love to hear what The Crew has to say about Roctane, but…um…I’ve sort of been stealing the Roctane back from them to use on my own runs. (Hey, they snooze, they lose!). Sorry about that guys. I tried hard to resist. Sadly, I could not. But I did get you The Spazz’s review. I don’t see her as often as the rest of The Crew, so her Roctane was safe from my evil clutches…muwhahaha.

marie The Spazz Says:

Flavor: Vanilla Orange/ Roctane
Roctane contains many of the other ingredients found in other gels however they add an amino acid blend to help with muscle fatigue. Proteins are thought to help combat acid accumulation in the muscles to help you run longer. I took this before a 10 mile run last Saturday, and I must say I felt pretty good. I have never tried Roctane before but the science behind it makes sense. I think I will have to add a box of this to my stash.

Thank-you very much to Outside Pr and Gu for the samples of Roctane to review and in the future, should you come up with a new flavor of Roctane (vanilla bean, vanilla bean, vanilla bean) and you need someone to give it a go. You know who to call…

'Til next time...

P.S. Some of you may or may not have noticed that I did a comparison between Gu and E-Gel about a year or so ago. I am still a fan of E-Gel also, but I do believe a re-match is in order since Roctane is a much more comparable product. So Gu Roctane v. E-Gel will be coming soon!

P.P.S. Tomorrow’s the last day to get in on the Scape Sunscreen giveaway. If you haven’t already, be sure to enter so you don’t miss out!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sylvania Women’s Tri: Who stole my stuff?

quarry2

The Sylvania Women’s Tri did not start off on a good note. I lost my race belt…with my bib # already on it. A few frantic moments would pass  before I finally discovered it had slipped next to the bench where I had my pile of “to go gear” and then we were on our way.

Not exactly sure where we were on our way to exactly considering we missed our exit and then went the wrong way, ending up somewhere in Toledo. But eventually we did end up at Centennial Terrace and Quarry (A.K.A. Curly to my 4 year old) the location of the tri, with only 15 minutes left before the transition area closed and the swim staging began.

Despite our tardiness, I was determined not to panic and to maintain composure. I set up my transition area fairly quickly, noting a small tree at the end of my row that I could use as a landmark to quickly identify the location of my bike following the swim and also noticed I was pretty much the only person who put my helmet on the seat of my bike. This made me a little bit nervous as if maybe everybody knew something I didn’t about sudden earthquakes that would shake the bike racks and make your helmet fall off or something, but it worked for me at the first tri and I had no time DANGIT (not panicking, not panicking)…to figure something else out.

Next I ran to pick up my chip, take a quick potty break, then back through the transition area just to get a visual on my bike one last time before running down to the swim staging area throwing my pink swim cap as I ran. I was seriously in danger of missing the start and still needed to figure out where to seed myself (or is it seat myself? I just realized I don’t actually know the correct term. Kind of like the way I was never really sure if it was a lap top or a lab top computer, but as long as I didn’t have to write it, no one was the wiser).

Weaving my way through the crowd of about 300 women, I found a sign that said 9-12 minutes and slipped in there. We had a time trial start which meant we would enter the water one at a time, fastest swimmers first. Now my first tri swim was 400 meters and I just barely squeaked in under 13 minutes, but I had panicked some and spent a bit of time on my back to regain composure (you know, rather than my other option…drowning), plus this swim would be a little shorter- 400 yards. So I was hoping to do better this time…much much better.

But as I stood there listening to one of the participants sing the national anthem, the nerves totally set in. I’d never swam in a quarry before and I didn’t have a chance to test the waters during the warm-up b/c I was late. It was 22-24 feet deep from the moment I got in, which really doesn’t matter since you swim on the surface of the water not the bottom but somehow so DOES seem to matter to your head. And what if I had over estimated my ability and wound up plowed over again?

Despite knowing that the minute I finally got going I’d be fine, I can’t even begin to tell you the anxiety that I felt the closer and closer I got to the water as my turn to enter approach. If someone would have ran up and yanked me out of line for pretty much any reason at all, I think I would have been fine with that. Somehow it made me feel better though that the first woman to finish her swim did so before I was even in the water, and she exited to throngs of cheers which almost brought me to tears. If she can do it, I can do it, I thought (although not be any means nearly as fast as she did which was somewhere in the 6 minute range).

Before I knew it, I was in the water and swimming. To my surprise, even with the time trial start and the lack of crowd in the water at the beginning, I still panicked a bit and toyed with the idea of flipping over on my back to calm down. I have no idea what’s up with that. Maybe I just need a little more experience or maybe it’s just something that I’ll have to swim through at the beginning of every tri, but the good news is: I did not succumb to temptation. I did not flip over onto my back at all during the swim and that, my friends was goal number 1.

SWIM TIME- 10:16  (which includes a run up a flight of 37 stairs)

Then it was onto transition #1, where I totally lost my bike. Totally. And the funniest part of this was, I totally thought I knew right where it was. I saw my red helmet and didn’t see any other helmets around just the way it was when I left transition before the race, one of the last people to do so. But when I got there, my sunglasses were not on my helmet and when I looked down all my stuff was gone. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I thought “Someone stole my stuff?” Then I figured, no somebody must have just moved it to fit in their bike. So I looked all around that area and couldn’t find it until I finally glanced to the end of the row and saw my little tree landmark was not there. I was completely in the wrong row, a good two rows off.

T1- 1:43 (ouch)

Now the only weird thing  about the bike was right at the beginning, the guy that was screaming “Mount here! Mount here!” I realized after the fact that he was only trying to let us all know where the mount line was, but he completely threw me off my game. I was all ready to do this running mount my dad had taught me (I have bruises to prove it. Oh how I wish I had that on film, we could all get a good chuckle out of my lack of coordination and my being swallowed whole by a bicycle), but there wasn’t much room between the “bike out” and a turn onto a street. So when he was yelling, “mount here! Mount here!” I literally thought the dude wanted us on our bikes right there before we turned. I figured I had passed the (bright orange) mount line already and just missed it, so I stopped and started to get on my bike all the while looking around for the line which I discovered was still a few feet in front of me. So I inched forward, hoping since my butt had not actually hit the seat yet, I wouldn’t be disqualified. Since nobody yanked me off course, I guess that means I was ok.

This rest of the bike course was pretty uneventful. A totally flat fast course, except for one 3-4 mile stretch on the second half that was ridiculously bumpy and not the kind of bumps you can steer around either. Unintentionally, I found myself slowing down due to having no control over my quads which would tense up in anticipation of every bump to protect my poor pitiful behind which was taking a brutal beating (and is still store today btw). Besides rounding the corners, this was the only time I dipped down into the 17 mph range and I was right back up in the 18-19 mph range as soon as I got off of that God forsaken road.

My goal for the bike was to average a faster pace than last tri (17.0 mph) , ideally at least 18 mph. I knew the run would be touch and go, because of my woe is me feet troubles, so I really gave it all I had on the bike, hoping I’d make up for whatever I couldn’t do on the run. And the good news:

Bike (11 miles) – 35:48 (18.4 mph)

And then it was onto transition for the run. All I can say about T2 is I must have been dawdling. All I had to do was rack the bike, step into a skirt and grab my hat, but for some reason I did this very very sloooooow;y. Actually, I think I just stood there and put my hat on. I must have been tired.

T2 – 1:06

As for the run, I was slightly disappointed. Mostly because I just don’t have the run post bike figured out yet. Last time, I tanked at the end and could hardly drag myself across the finish. So this time, I figured I’d take it easy at the start wait ‘til I had my legs back and then push it. The only problem this time is I had way too much left at the end. There’s got to be a middle ground here. I just can’t seem to find it.

Run 3.1 Miles- 27:28 (8:52 min/mile)

Finishing Time- 1:16:19 (14th of 42 in my age group & 63rd of 305 total)

So that’s it for me for tri's this year. In fact, that’s it for racing for now. Time to focus on the big goal: The Air Force Marathon…dun dun duuuuuuun. It’s right around the corner…

 

'Til next time...

 

P.S.  I’ve got pictures and a little more to this story (ie, cheater cheater pumpkin eaters, a long lost friend, and my mom’s first trophy), but since this is super long already, I’ll fill you in on the rest tomorrow (or Thursday, I’m kind of waiting on some more pictures).