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Posts from the ‘lessons’ Category

The Winner’s Brain

After reading this awesome article from Amby Barefoot and George Hirsch, I came across a book that is now on my reading list. It’s called The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success.”  I haven’t bought the book yet because I’m still reading Wheat Belly, but I did download the sample. The main thing I got out of the sample was that the gray matter in our head can be exercised, controlled, and trained to help you do great things. It reemphasized to me the importance of the mind.

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Chip Timing

I have to admit, I’m a little upset.  This morning our running club met for Raleigh’s Finest 5K.  It was about 85 degrees at the start (sounds like Boston), but the course was pretty shaded so the heat wasn’t a big deal.  I finished the race in 20:40 and 5th female overall.  However, my chip fell off my shoe a little over halfway through.  I stopped to pick it up and carried it for the rest of the race.  But when you look at the results, my name isn’t even there. I guess carrying it across the mat doesn’t work. Sad face.  Now, I’m curious to learn more about chip timing as well as disposable bib chip timing…

Chip timing is great for larger events when not everyone can cross the start line at the same time.  It also helps to prevent human error from manual timing.  It works by wearing a chip tied across your shoe and when you run across mats placed along the course, it records your time.  It works the following way: there is a chip with a unique ID number and an energizing coil that is encased within a durable shell.  The chip’s transponder is activated when it comes close to the magnetic field created by the special mats.  Once within the magnetic field, the coil becomes energized, produces an electric current, and powers the transponder.  The transponder then sends a signal, reporting the ID number which is then captured by the receiving antennas in the mat, and then sent to a computer.  Now, you have your time.

The timing system that I’ve been seeing a lot more is the disposable bib chip timing.  I love this type of timing because I don’t have to tie anything on my shoe, I never notice I’m wearing it, and it’s one less thing to remember.  There are several different companies that make disposable chips, but they all work in basically the same way.  The chips have a built in transponder and microprocessor that includes a unique ID number.  Along the course, there are antennas that have special readers that read the disposable chips.  This information is then sent to a computer and now you have your start time, mile splits, and finish time.  Once you cross the finish line, you just keep going and can toss the bib, along with the chip, in the trash.  They only cost about 10 cents each.

I guess carrying the chip in my hand interfered with the magnetic field.  However, I’m hoping if I email the race directors with my Garmin info they will update the results.  I don’t want a prize.  I just want my name on that results page.  Lesson learned.

Here are some pics from the race:



I hope everyone has a great weekend and stays cool! We are breaking temperature records here in NC.


Happy Trails and Happy Running,



Intermittent Fasting

As I was leaving the gym today, my friend Tiffany asked me what I thought about running on an empty stomach in the morning.  If she had asked me this same question a year ago, I would have probably told her that it was a bad idea.  However, I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about intermittent fasting and the benefits of working out on an empty stomach.  I told her to go for it.  But her question did get me thinking more about this unconventional approach to eating.

Question: What is intermittent fasting? What are the benefits and it is good for runners?

Intermittent fasting is simply alternating periods of fasting with periods of non-fasting.  There are many different approaches to IF, including:

1) skipping a meal
2) Eating only within a certain time window (for example, eating for only 8 hours during the day and fast the other 16)
3) the 48 hour fast which alternates 24 hours of fasting with 24 hours of non-fasting
4) eat early in the morning and late in the evening but fast throughout the rest of the day
5) do not eat several hours before bed, fast throughout the night, and then workout before eating breakfast

All my life, I have always been told to eat first thing in the morning to kick start my metabolism.  And more importantly, to continue eating several meals throughout the day, as this will prevent a drop in blood sugar and keep me mentally focused for the day.  So why in the world would I want to try intermittent fasting?

As humans, are bodies are only able to store a limited amount of glycogen, about 500 grams.  On the other hand, it can store tens of thousands of calories of fat.  The reason so many people experiment with intermittent fasting is because, teaching your body to burn fat as opposed to glycogen will give it an almost unlimited supply of energy (great for endurance) and make your body a lot leaner.   I was recently listening to a podcast and the speaker compared the body using glycogen as fuel to a fuel truck running out of gas on the side of the road.  The truck’s gas tank can only hold a limited amount of fuel, and even though the truck is carrying a large supply of gas, it can not access it.  I really liked that analogy.

By experimenting with intermittent fasting, not only are you teaching your body to burn fat for fuel, but you are also learning a thing or two about self control.  As one study put it, it is essential to fitness and good health to experience intentional hunger, become accustomed to the feeling, and not freak out.  You gain more control of your own body.  Some of other benefits of intermittent fasting are reduced blood lipidsblood pressure markers of inflammation oxidative stress, and cancer.  There is also increased cell turnover and repair, fat burning, growth hormone release, and metabolic rate.  Intermittent fasting also helps to improve appetite control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neuronal plasticity.

It was difficult to find a lot scientific evidence on intermittent fasting and running, mainly because this topic is still so new.  I did find, however, one study that looked at the blood sugar levels in two different runners, one who fasted for 23 hours and the other who did not.  After the 23 hours, both runners completed a 90 minute run at 70-75% of VO2 max.  What the researchers found was that the two runners had the exact same blood sugar levels!  This completely blew my mind, because I would have never expected that.  The body really is amazing at maintaining homeostasis.

Ben Greenfield, who is top triathlete and nutrition expert, often discusses intermittent fasting for athletes on his podcasts.  He recommends not eating a few hours before bed and then working out first thing in the morning, before eating breakfast.  This is an easy way to incorporate a 12-14 hour fast into the day.  Ben Greenfield, along with everything else that I read today, put a strong emphasis on eating high quality, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods along with lots of good quality proteins.  If you are going to be doing this to your body, it’s super important to make sure it gets the right stuff when you are eating.

Currently, with my schedule I can not work out first thing in the morning.  However, summer break is quickly approaching and I look forward to experimenting with intermittent fasting during the summer.  In reading at a lot of the anecdotal evidence, IF seems to help people really lean out, lose weight, and have more energy.  And when I was looking for a picture to include with this post, Google Images just kept giving me pictures of really ripped people.  I think I might like this…



Source: HiveHealthMedia

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Boston – A recap

Before I get into my Boston Marathon recap, I would like to say just how thankful I am for my awesome friends and family and their support during these past few months.  Dan and I had an amazing support team yesterday.  Mario, Toni, Kayley, Aunt Carolyn, Lindsay, and John – you all were awesome and I feel fortunate to have had such an amazing group of supporters.  Lindsay, thank you for the signs and your great photography skills.   They were awesome and I have the signs saved for next year.   I am also thankful for all of the amazing people sending their positive thoughts from back home, including mom and dad who were always checking in on us.  Emily and Tyler, thank you for my delicious surprise.  It was thoroughly enjoyed, and you guys are the best!!  I am blessed to have such awesome and caring people in my life.

Now on to race day…

As many of you may have noticed (and some of you may have figured out why by now), I have been a little MIA after the race yesterday.  Well, there’s a good reason for that.  I now belong to a very special club and it’s called the DNF club, or in other words, the “Did Not Finish club”.  Yes, at mile 13.5, I gave into the heat and let the one thing I wanted so badly, slip away. And honestly, I haven’t really wanted to talk about it.  Now I’ve had a day to be sad, to reflect, and to analyze all of the things that led up to race day.  Where did I go wrong and why wasn’t my mental toughness strong enough?

In looking back at it, I think there are several things that I did (or did not do) that led to my defeat.  First, I didn’t train smart enough.  My long runs were too fast, I didn’t stretch or ice like I should have, and my speed workouts weren’t so good at including “rest” intervals.  I was running to train instead of running to race.  Second, my nutrition was whack.  Now don’t get me wrong, I always eat healthy however, my meals were not planned properly around my workouts. I didn’t plan ahead and I didn’t refuel properly after a hard workout.  And perhaps my biggest mistake –  I did not arrive to Hopkinton with a good plan on Monday morning.  I didn’t have a good nutrition strategy nor did I have a good race strategy for the grueling 85 degree weather.  When I woke up Monday morning, I ate a bagel (around 5:30am) and that was the last thing I ate before the race started (at 10:20am).  Poor planning on my part and when I entered the corral, I was hungry.  That was a mistake and it certainly didn’t help me throughout the race.  The heat was certainly a big problem for me as well.  We had received numerous emails from BAA stating that we should treat this race as an experience and not as a race.  Slow down, hydrate often, and be careful.  I did not race smart – pure and simple.  I thought that since NC had a pretty warm March, I was pretty acclimated to the heat and  should be just fine.  Wrong.

When the race started, I went out at goal pace and stayed there for about 4 miles.  I drank gatorade, poured water on my head, and ran through every sprinkler I saw.  Well then reality set in.  I think I managed to make it to the 10K mark without walking but after that, it was a downhill struggle.  A lot of things went through my head, but I don’t think they were the right things.  All I could focus on was the heat, the cramps in my stomach, and how thirsty I was. Maybe I should have been telling myself more positive things or focusing more on the amazing crowd support.  Around mile 10, my stomach couldn’t handle any more liquids and I felt like my breathing was shallow.  Not like I was breathing hard but like I couldn’t get a deep breath.  I ran some and walked some.  I tried slowing my pace but nothing seemed to help.  When I saw a medical tent, I went in and never came back out.

I was sad as I’m sure the 20+ other runners who were sitting there with me were (and the other 900+ who decided to step off the course).  I was defeated and I keep looking back on it thinking I didn’t try hard enough.  So many people were  able to keep going and cross that finish line, but I could not.  When we left the hotel today and went to the airport, my defeat really set in.  All of these people were proudly wearing their Boston shirts and medals and talking about how grueling the race was yesterday.  They talked about their struggles and they were congratulated on being able to battle it out to the finish.  I had no awesome story to tell so I kept to myself and to my book.

When I got home this afternoon, I needed some alone time so I went out for a run.  I left the iPod at home in hopes that I could come to terms with what happened yesterday.  I talked out loud to myself, sat in Pullen Park for a while, and made a pact with myself that I would let the past be the past.  And more importantly,  that I would take away from this experience many hard lessons learned and apply them diligently.

My husband has been amazing throughout this whole entire event.  In efforts to console me yesterday, he reminded me that Bill Rodgers did not finish his first Boston Marathon but came back to win it two years later.  He has over 20 first place wins and 9 DNFs (I guess that means Bill Rodgers and I are in the same club =P).  Mario has also encouraged me to sign up for another race and try again (which I have already done).  I now have six weeks to apply the lessons of the past few months and come out with a different result.

I must remember that sometimes it’s just not your day and yesterday was certainly not mine.  I accept that.  It’s the ability to apply the lessons learned during the hard times that make us better, stronger people.

Finally, I would like to give a huge congratulations to my cousin Dan who beat the heat and crossed the finish line in a very impressive time.  He was awesome and I’m so proud he stuck with it, even through the most difficult conditions.   That’s why I call him “Dan the Man.”

Thank you again to everyone for all of your support and kind words.  I wish I had a different story to tell, but maybe next year…. Besides, Mother Nature can’t be this mean two years in a row, right?

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Just a few Boston pics…

Meb Keflezighi

From the JFK museum