Mar 31, 2015

Race Report: Zooma Texas Half Marathon

I can't think of a better way to celebrate my 30th birthday than by taking a road trip with my friend Kathryn for a racecation in Austin--especially when that race is the Zooma Half-Marathon!  Ever since I first came upon an advertisement for the Zooma women's race series in a running magazine back when I first started running, I've wanted to run a Zooma race.  This trip I got to accomplish that very thing.

We woke up bright and early race day morning to make it to the race shuttles with enough time to situate ourselves...and use the restroom...before the race start.  Since we got into Austin so late the night before, we decided to just hit the expo following the race.  After carefully selecting my race outfit at least a week in advance to ensure I'll be cute and coordinated, my prerace preparation ritual consists of  sunscreen and bug spray application, ample amounts of body glide, final playlist review, selection of Gu flavors, GPS watch set-up, and chugging a preworkout drink.  Kathryn was so patient with me as I completed my prep.  After quickly applying Chapstick, I was ready to run!
Eagerly anticipating the race on the shuttle.

Kathryn and I made our way to the starting line.  When we signed up for this race, I told her that I wanted to stay with her the entire race.  She had a foot injury and hadn't been able to really run that much the past month so she was worried about finishing.  I was determined to make sure she crossed the finish line.  This race was going to be more about friendship and sisterhood than about getting a new personal record (PR).  The energy was high in the corrals with all these wonderful women gathered together in eager anticipation of the athletic feat upon which we all were about to embark.  There is a special spirit about a group of women set upon improving themselves and testing their mental and physical fortitude.  It's a powerful bond of sisterhood.

At the starting line
Soon enough it was time to run!  Zooma Texas was hosted at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort just south of Austin.  The entire area was gorgeous with trees lining the course, grass and ponds and green vegetation all over the grounds, and plenty of rolling hills.  Granted, coming from a very flat area of the high pains, those hills proved challenging when it came to actually running over them.  Still, even as we pushed ourselves up those hills we appreciated the beauty we encountered as we ran.

The course was challenging.  I made it very clear to Kathryn that I was going to stick by her side the entire time, no matter what.  With the hills, we took frequent walk breaks.  Even though we weren't holding a fast pace by any means, we were still moving along.  The great thing about running with a friend is all the time you have for conversation.  Run-talk is the most honest conversation you'll get, and I always find myself becoming closer to the people I run with and finding that I love them more with every mile.  So we ran, we hiked, we chatted, we panted, and we kept going.

Jazz hands!

With about three miles left the course turned and took us back to the hotel area and onto the trails of the perfectly manicured golf course.  We encountered all sorts of motivational signs posted along our path.  I read them out-loud to the runners around us and that gave us all a good laugh.  We pushed on and on and on...why is it that the last 5K always is the hardest part of any race?  Finally, I saw that were only half a mile to the finish.  I pushed Kathryn to go faster knowing that she would be glad she finished strong.  A phrase came to my mind, one that a friend of mine used as motivation, "Imagine you are shooting stars out of your fists propelling you forward!"  Although a bit goofy, it worked and together Kathryn and I crossed the finish line at a sprint!  We earned that awesome medal!  And the Gatorade and water shortly thereafter.

We slowly limped to the post-race expo where there was live music, dancing, food, and most importantly--shopping!  The merchandise from the Zooma race was absolutely adorable!  Kathryn got a couple shirts and I finally found the perfect running hat.  I was pleased to find an Another Mother Runner booth!  I love the Run Like a Mother books, and since they have a new one out (Tales from Another Mother Runner), I decided to buy it.  To my surprise, Sarah Bowen Shea, the author, was there!  She signed my book and even let me get a picture with her!   Seriously awesome day!!!  We spent another half hour browsing the rest of the booths which offered all sorts of running apparel, jewelry, and samples.  There was even a place for post-race yoga and free massages!

The medal was fabulous, the expo full of all sorts of things I wanted to buy, the course gorgeous, and the overall race was well organized and well managed!  Zooma even offered live-race tracking.  At the start, mile five, mile ten, and the finish were video cameras and chip timers that post to social media your progress and a video of you running.  What a cool idea!  This is one of the best races I've run.  My only suggestion would be to have photographers on hand throughout the race.  The only place I saw a photographer was at the finish line, and I would've loved to have pictures throughout the race.  Unfortunately, neither Kathryn or myself are fans of the mid-run selfies.

Sporting our medals as we rest after our race

We had to leave pretty quickly after the expo so that we could make it to the San Antonio LDS temple before it closed (it was closing early for the Women's session of General Conference--which was incredibly inspirational I might add!), so we hopped onto the bus and headed back to the car for some deep post-run stretching.  Although we were exhausted and sore, it was a great race and a memorable weekend.
Serving in the temple was the best thing we did after the race.

Mar 19, 2015

Not another injury, the ITBS edition

Yesterday was to be my longest run yet--20 miles.  But, at about mile 12 I started experiencing sharp pain in my hip and on the outside of my knee, so I stopped and stretched.  The pain persisted whenever I tried to go back to running and I was forced to make the call to cut my run short and walk awkwardly back the 3.5 miles to my car. 

I was thinking I would just finish the last 4.5 miles later that day.  I figured after refueling and a couple hours of rest that I'd be fine.  And later that day I did finish that 4.5 miles, but by the end my knee pain was excruciating!  It felt like a knife was digging into my hip and that my kneecap was about to burst off.  It was poor judgement on my part to continue running in spite of the pain.

When I got home, I stretched thoroughly, took a hot Epson salt soak in the tub, and applied KT tape to my knee and hip.  I then proceeded to ice the areas for the duration of an entire movie.  Although there was no swelling, the pain persisted.  I was hobbling around the house trying to keep my knee as straight as I could since bending it made me want to cry.  After talking to my best friend, who also is an experienced personal trainer, I figured I did something nefarious to my IT band.  I consulted with Doctor Google and my pain and symptoms match IT band syndrome.  I was to rest completely from running and keep my physical activity to the cross training variety--mainly cycling, rowing, swimming, and pool running.

Of course, the thoughts that were running through my head sounded similar to, "Rest from running?!?!?!  But I have two big races coming up!  One race is next weekend with the other my first marathon, Big Sur, at the end of April.  I need to keep training so that I can finish that race before the course cut off!  What am I to do?"

Then I thought, maybe I need to slow down with my training.  I know I haven't been taking enough quality rest days and that I've been pushing myself pretty hard lately.  Maybe I'm supposed to take just a few days off for some quality rest and recovery.  I prayed about my recovery, mostly that if the Lord willed it, that I would be recovered to complete my half-marathon next weekend and then be recovered enough to run my marathon in April well.  While I was praying, I felt--and I still feel--the Spirit testify to me that this will be so.  What a comforting feeling, and what a wonderful gift to have!  I'm so thankful for the gospel in my life and for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This is such a small situation that I'm going through, but the Lord knows my that running is my passion and He is providing me a way to continue doing so. 

I know I'm still going to have to do those things that will help my IT band recover: rest, stretching, strength training, icing, and cross training (note: consult with a physician before you start any treatment methods).  Already after just a day of rest, I feel better.  The KT Tape is helping tremendously (here is the knee application, hip application for ITBS) as is the icing, but I'm still going to keep resting to ensure I won't aggravate any injuries.  I also know that as long as I'm doing all I can do to get better, the Lord will take care of the rest.  I look forward to my upcoming races, and as I run I will look to God with gratitude of the strength, endurance, and recuperation He has blessed me with.

IT Band Home Treatment Methods

IT Band Foam Rolling Technique

KT Tape IT Band Applications

ITBS Stretches

ITBS Strengthening Exercises

Mar 16, 2015

Signs of the Second Coming (FHE)

Family Home Evening this week was based on the Gospel Principles manual, chapter 43: Signs of the Second Coming.  Just to clarify, this lesson is exclusively about the signs and why it's important we recognize and look for them.  Next week's lesson is on preparing for and about the Second Coming

Song: We sang song #108: Seek the Lord Early, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

I'll seek the Lord early while in my youth,
And he will help me to know the truth.
I'll search the scriptures and find him there,
Then go to our Father in fervent prayer.
I'll seek the Lord early, and I'll obey
His living prophets in all they say.
I'll keep his commandments; his love will abound.
I will seek the Lord early, and he will be found.

Lesson: The Savior told Joseph Smith, “I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory … and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (D&C 29:11). Jesus has told us that certain signs and events will warn us when the time of His Second Coming is near.  Before the Savior comes, the people of the earth will experience great trials and calamities. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be prepared for these troubles. He also expects us to be spiritually ready when the Savior comes in His glory. Therefore, He has given us signs, which are events that will tell us when the Savior’s Second Coming is near. Throughout the ages God has revealed these signs to His prophets. He has said that all faithful followers of Christ will know what the signs are and will be watching for them (see D&C 45:39). If we are obedient and faithful, we will study the scriptures and know of the signs.

Many of the signs are terrifying and dreadful. The prophets have warned that the earth will experience great turmoil, wickedness, war, and suffering.  We can expect earthquakes, disease, famines, great storms, lightnings, and thunder (see Matthew 24:7; D&C 88:90). Hailstorms will destroy the crops of the earth (see D&C 29:16).  Jesus told His disciples that war would fill the earth: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6–7).

The Lord said, “Light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel” (D&C 45:28). Prophets of old foretold the Restoration of the gospel. The Apostle John saw that the gospel would be restored by an angel (see Revelation 14:6–7).  The Lord told the Nephites of another sign: the Book of Mormon would come to their descendants (see 3 Nephi 21). In Old Testament times the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel foresaw the coming of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29:4–18; Ezekiel 37:16–20).  Another sign of the last days is that the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14).  The prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Savior’s Second Coming, the prophet Elijah would be sent to the earth. Elijah would restore the sealing powers so families could be sealed together. He would also inspire people to be concerned about their ancestors and descendants. (See Malachi 4:5–6; D&C 2.)

The Lord said that when His coming was near, the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people. He said, “Before the great day of the Lord shall come, … the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose” (D&C 49:24). Great numbers of Lehi’s descendants are now receiving the blessings of the gospel.  Near the time of the coming of Jesus Christ, the faithful Saints will build a righteous city, a city of God, called the New Jerusalem. Jesus Christ Himself will rule there. (See 3 Nephi 21:23–25; Moses 7:62–64; Articles of Faith 1:10.) The Lord gives these signs to help us. We can put our lives in order and prepare ourselves and our families for those things yet to come.

Activity:  I felt a good object lesson/activity for this lesson would be to make an advent calendar where each section is a sign of the second coming and all lead to Christ returning.  I just made a very very simple one.  I found pictures that kind of go with each of the nine signs I used, then on those signs I listed some corresponding scriptures.  A couple of my brothers helped with this FHE and they would read the scriptures, then ask June what sign those verses described.  After the short discussion, June got to flip the sheet to show the sign until she got to Christ's Second Coming.

I'm sure that there are fancier advent calendars that can be used, but I didn't have the time to make one.  I think next time I do this lesson, I'll just use a candy advent, have the scriptures still, and tell June that even though some of these signs are scary, we still receive blessings as we keep the commandments, live the gospel, and look forward to the Second Coming of our Savior.

Race Report: LSRC St Patrick's Day 4-miler

Top o'the running to ya!  I just ran my first St. Patrick's Day race--on the Pi Day of the century (3.1415)!  That morning as I was looking for a green running outfit I realized that I don't have a green running outfit!  I had to settle for my blue shirt and some clip-in green hair extensions.  At least my Salomon running shoes have some green on them.  My dad and daughter came along to cheer me on.  It was so nice to see them as I approached the finish line of the race.

I ran much much faster than I thought I would, since the day prior I had run an extremely difficult 18-mile run.  I was cruising and pushing a pace I usually reserve for the last two miles of a medium-length run--and I held it the whole time.  In fact, with only one mile complete, I was already passing people left and right!  I felt great as I hit my kick and sprinted to the finish, with enough energy to flash a smile at June.  I came in 6th in my age group with a time of 37:36, a new 4-miler personal record! 

Many of the runners were decked out in nearly every shade of green.  Runners wore long shamrock socks, green lacy arm sleeves, and all sorts of leprechaun hats. I enjoyed seeing all the costumes and festivities.  Next time, I'll be sure to be prepared to actually don more green in my running outfit.

The course was well marked and easy to navigate.  It wound from the shopping center in which Beef O'Brady's is located through the residential neighborhoods right behind the mall.  The only issue with the course was the construction at the start/finish area.  It caused a bottleneck on a muddy and slick sidewalk which could have caused safety problems.  It's good that the race director had people monitoring the area for such safety issues, so they were aware of the concern.

Overall, this was another good race put on by the Lone Star Runners Club.  It was well organized and staffed with fun shirts and plentiful door prizes.  We enjoyed milkshakes after a nice cool down walk at Beef O'Brady's where June managed to score some of those green door prizes.  My favorite part was having my family there as spectators to cheer me on.  I

had quite a lucky and festive morning.

Mar 5, 2015

Agony: the Long Run on a Treadmill

I have a confession to make.  I absolutely, without a doubt, utterly loath the treadmill.  I ofttimes refer to it as a dreadmill.  I went an entire year without setting foot on that torture device, and then it snowed.  A lot.  Enough to coat the roads with a thick layer of extremely slippery injury-inducing ice.  I know my limits and they are: temps above 100 degrees, temps below 10 degrees, winds over 35 mph, natural disasters, and any ice at all.  I already tried a run on ice and it defeated me with a painful and embarrassing feet-over-head landing-on-butt slip.  My booty was bruised for a couple weeks, and my pride took a major hit.  So, no more ice-running for me.

Usually when I see snow/ice/freezing rain in the forecast, I just plan my training around it as it doesn't normally stick around for more than a couple days.  Not so with this past month.  The ice lingered and lingered and is still lingering!!!  It's like my own personal no-running-outside hell.  And, I had a critical, can't-skip-under-any-circumstance 14-mile long run scheduled.  What was I to do?  I'm training for a marathon and I already found that skipping a week of running is detrimental to my endurance fitness.  So, even though I really, REALLY didn't want to, and I mean AT ALL, I used my gym membership for more than the group fitness classes and weight room functions I acquired it for.  I ran my 14 miles...on the treadmill.
The roads looked like this-or worse-for weeks.
The worst part about treadmill running for me is the sheer boredom of it.  I didn't want to do an interval-type run as I was running such a long distance.  Instead, I needed just a nice and steady run at an easy pace.  To stave off the monotony, I came prepared with my tablet set up with a new Kindle book I bought just for this occasion and Friends on Netflix, and my phone ready to play the Audible novel I've been working on. That may seem like a lot of options, but when I'm on a treadmill my attention span lasts just a matter of minutes, so I need different options that I can switch between when the going gets tough.  For fueling, I brought a water bottle, another bottle full of Nunn, and two Gu's.

My treadmill set up: loaded tablet, loaded phone, hydration, and fuels.

Since the treadmills at Gold's Gym have 60-minute time limits, I decided to run my 14-miles in 5-mile increments.  I'd use the time between those increments to hydrate, fuel up on a Gu, and use the bathroom if needed.  I listened to five chapters of my audio novel on Audible, I watched three episodes of Friends on Netflix, and I read four chapters of my book on Kindle.  The last 15 minutes of my run, I just listened to music on Pandora.  I needed something that I could pace myself to just to keep me going.  I had to alternate between four forms of media to keep the inevitable boredom at bay for as long as possible, and it worked.  That strategy proved quite successful, although the last four miles were excruciatingly painful both in monotony and just plain physically.  I was able to maintain my pace for the first 10 miles, but on those last four, I had to take two-minute walk breaks every eight minutes.  Still, I did it!  I completed my long run on the treadmill!  This was a brand new record for me, a personal best if you will.  Although I really, really, REALLY hope that I never have to do another 10+ mile run on the treadmill.  Ever again.

Mar 1, 2015

The Gathering of the House of Israel (FHE)

Our Family Home Evening lesson from last Monday was over chapter 42 of the Gospel Principles manual: Gathering of the House of Israel.

Song:  We sang song #1128 from the Primary Children's Songbook, The Tenth Article of Faith.  It goes as follows:
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes;
that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent;
that Christ will reign personally upon the earth;
and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

Lesson:  The House of Israel are God's covenant people.  Jacob was a great prophet who lived hundreds of years before the time of Christ. Because Jacob was faithful, the Lord gave him the special name of Israel, which means “one who prevails with God” or “let God prevail” (Bible Dictionary, “Israel,” 708). Jacob had twelve sons. These sons and their families became known as the twelve tribes of Israel, or Israelites (see Genesis 49:28).  Jacob was a grandson of Abraham. The Lord made an everlasting covenant with Abraham that was renewed with Isaac and with Jacob and his children (see post about Abrahamic Covenant). God promised that the Israelites would be His covenant people as long as they would obey His commandments (see Deuteronomy 28:9–10). They would be a blessing to all the nations of the world by taking the gospel and the priesthood to them (see Abraham 2:9–11). Thus, they would keep their covenant with the Lord and He would keep His covenant with them.  Since the house of Israel became wicked, they were scattered, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy 28:64).

The tribes were scattered
 The Lord promised that His covenant people would someday be gathered: “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them” (Jeremiah 23:3).  God gathers His children through missionary work. As people come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ, receiving the ordinances of salvation and keeping the associated covenants, they become “the children of the covenant” (3 Nephi 20:26). He has important reasons for gathering His children. He gathers them so they can learn the teachings of the gospel and prepare themselves to meet the Savior when He comes again. He gathers them so they will build temples and perform sacred ordinances for ancestors who have died without having this opportunity. He gathers them so they can strengthen one another and be unified in the gospel, finding protection from unrighteous influences in the world. He also gathers them so they can prepare themselves to share the gospel with others.

After much diligence, June gathered all the tribes to the temple.

Activity: Since my family is of the tribe of Ephraim, part of our responsibility is to help in the gathering of the tribes of Israel.  I picked out 13 of June's dolls and had each of them represent a tribe.  I kept the three dolls representing the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Judah with her while my brothers "scattered" the remaining 10 dolls around the house.  I then had June place the three remaining dolls by a picture of the temple to symbolize the spiritual gathering of the tribes to the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Then, with the help of the "Spirit" played by each of my brothers, June searched the house for the remaining dolls.  When she found one, she would place it by the temple picture with the others.  When she was stuck, she would ask for help, just as we should ask for help in our missionary and genealogical endeavors.  She had such a great time looking for each of her dolls--so much so that she wanted to play "gather the tribes" multiple times.