Saturday, May 31, 2014

Color Run Recap

I apologize for the delay in posting my Color Run recap from last weekend! The Color Run is also known as the happiest 5K on the planet, and justifiably so. I'm sure you've heard about it, but for those of you who may not have, the Color Run is an un-timed 5K in which participants run through various color stations along the 5K course and get doused in a rainbow of colors. The color that is tossed at you is not paint, but colored cornstarch. The Color Run in my area also benefits Teens Living with Cancer.

This past winter I asked a lot of friends and coworkers if they would be interested in running the Color run, and they all agreed it sounded like fun. So, last Saturday we all ran the Color run together! Before we could run, I had to prepare, and by prepare, I mean make tutus for my coworkers and myself!

(Cutting 11 yards of material required a glass of wine...)

(All the tulle finally cut)

(Starting to make progress on the tutus)

Cutting the tulle takes the longest when making tutus, but once that's done, looping the tulle onto the elastic goes fast. I found the instructions on pinterest through another running blog, and since then have made a lot of tutus for races!

(Who doesn't love a tutu?!)

Saturday morning finally rolled around and I was beyond excited to be running a race with so many friends and coworkers! I always get so excited when I can share my love for something with others around me. I rode to the Color run with 3 of my other friends - in the pre-race e-mail we received it said parking would be limited, so we thought it would be best to meet and carpool.

We all met before the race so we could try and stay together during the run. Of course we could not start the color run without taking some "before" pictures while we were all still clean in our white!

(Getting ready to run!)

(Melissa and me before her FIRST 5K!)

(Let's take a selfie!)

The race started, and we made our way into the starting chute. There were so many runners that they started the runners off in waves (which is typical to avoid congestion). Before I knew it we were off! Surprisingly the race went by SO quickly!! It honestly didn't feel like a 5K, but I think it was because we were all having so much fun running together that we were distracted from the actual running.

The course itself was nice, and it started and finished at the baseball stadium. The majority of the course was flat, and looped through some of the main streets in the city. The color stations seemed like they were spread out evenly along the course (as you can see by the course map below). You could tell when we were coming up on a color station as the air around the area was filled with that stations specific color. As I stated before, the color they toss at you is colored cornstarch, so what I told my friends that had not done the run before, it's best if you can hold your breath as you run through the stations. This way you're not inhaling a lot of the color.

The one negative thing I do have the point out, was that the map showed two water stations along the course, but I only remember running by one. Not that it was super hot out, it was actually quite cool when we started the race, but it warmed up quickly, so I would have appreciated another water station.

After crossing the finish line of the race, the volunteers hand everyone a color packet, and you're invited to the post race color party. Last year I learned my lesson not to get caught in the middle of that. So this year my friends and I enjoyed tossing our color packets on each other. We were also given bottles of water (thank god!), and I think there may have been Kind bars, but I didn't grab one. 

(Post race color party)

(Gotta love a good action shot!)

A few of us ended up getting separated during the run, but we were all able to meet back up after the run. We hung around the post race party for a while singing and dancing, and this also gave us plenty of time for photos!

(With some of my wonderful coworkers)

(Melissa, Samantha and me)

 (Melissa and me after her first 5K - SUCCESS!)

(We're a colorful bunch)

A small forewarning if you are considering doing the Color run: your hands will more than likely be covered in the color, and the colored cornstarch will also seep through your sneakers and socks onto your feet. 

(Exhibit A - gross!)

The clean up is a little tricky. I scrubbed and scrubbed in the shower, and I could not for the life of me get all the colored cornstarch off my hands and feet. Over the course of the weekend the color finally washed off, but it took a little time. You will also need to clean color out of your ears and nose (gross, I know). 

I know people have mixed feelings about novelty runs like the Color Run for various reasons. Some runners don't like them because some novelty races are not timed (the Color run is not timed), they are too crowded, they think they're silly, the list goes on. Honestly, I think novelty runs like the Color Run are great, and necessary. While we were running, I noticed a wide variety of people participating in the race. There were runners of every age, every fitness level, and every shape and size. It made me really happy to know that races like the Color run encourage people to come out and have fun all while doing something good for themselves. All in all, if you don't mind crowds or getting a little messy, I highly recommend the Color Run, it truly is the happiest 5K on the planet. This was my second year running it, and I've had a blast both times!

QOTD: What's your opinion on Novelty races like the Color Run? If you've run the Color run before, do you have any tips for running the race, or tricks for cleanup after the race?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend 2014

I can honestly say that this has been one of the best Memorial Day's I've had in a while. It was my first weekend spent at home in 7 weeks, the weather was perfect, and it was filled with friends and fun!

Friday I got home from work and had a package waiting for me! Unfortunately, it arrived like this...

(Seriously, is this how packages are "handled" these days?)

It was my Team runDisney shirts!! Fortunately, they arrived undamaged even though the package looked like it had traveled to hell and back.

(Yay for happy mail!)

I just love these shirts, I'll definitely have to order more in the future! Off topic, but I also need to order a Team RWB shirt and Sweaty Band when they're re-stocked.

Friday evening I went to see Godzilla, and it was amazing! I have never seen any of the Godzilla movies that have been out in the past, so I din't have anything to compare this one to. However, I'm not sure you could even compare this against the others, it was so good! I highly recommend seeing it if you haven't already.

Saturday morning was the Color Run, and I ran that with friends and co-workers (which I'll recap later this week). After the color run, my friend, Nita and I decided to grab a bite to eat. After last years color run we went to Moe's for burritos, but I think the race started earlier this year, as we were done before 9:30. So we decided on breakfast, and went to a Bruegger's. Thankfully, we were not the only two who had this idea after the Color Run. There were a handful of people in there splashed in a rainbow of colors from the run. During the time we were there, more color runners came and went. I opted for a plain bagel with plain cream cheese and a lemonade. Yummy!

I got home, and showered immediately to try and get all the color off. I could not for the life of me get all of it off my hands and feet (I'll post pictures of that in my Color Run recap). After my shower, it had warmed up and it was absolutely gorgeous out, so I went out on my deck to lounge with Coco and finish my lemonade.

(Notice how gross my toes still look from the color?!)

Coco had been grounded from her tennis ball for a few incidents that resulted in damaged furniture (and not just my own). I was feeling nice, and I decided that since we were outside I would give her a Tennis ball to play with, I figured there was nothing she could destroy outside. She was one happy poodle, fetch is her all time favorite game!

(Break time, it's hot out!)

Saturday afternoon I went to a friends house and we decided to drive out to the lake to have dinner and drinks. Not surprising, it was packed! There we no tables available, and they were all first come first serve, so we had to stalk out a table and wait. We were lucky enough to snag a table right on the water once a couple left, and our view for dinner was gorgeous!

(A girl could get used to this!)

Dinner was delicious, and we had a great time relaxing and catching up on life. We stayed there until dark, then decided to walk along the water to let our dinner settle.

Sunday I didn't have any big plans during the day, but a friend came over in the evening for dinner. We grilled steaks, and I also made pasta and cut up veggies for salad. Let me just say, I am not the world's greatest cook, but for my first time grilling steaks without my dads help, I did a pretty good job! After dinner we took Coco for a walk around the neighborhood I live in, and then watched a movie. A low key night, but it was just what I needed after being on the road the previous 7 weekends!

Yesterday I was supposed to go to a local park/beach, but those plans fell through. I can't complain though, I got a lot of work done around the house, and it felt great! It opened up the rest of the week to do things in the evening, which are actually filling up quickly!

QOTD: How did you celebrate this Memorial Day weekend? Did you kick off the weekend with a race or training run?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My VO2 Max Is Bigger Than Yours

Actually, that's probably a lie.

First off, let me apologize for my hiatus (again). The past seven weeks have been so busy, and I've been traveling almost every weekend (except for the one when I was down with a sinus infection).

Nearly a week ago I had my Metabolic stress test that I had mentioned my Cardiologist wanted me to have. In honor of this occasion, I felt it was necessary to pull out my old Penn State Kinesiology Club shirt...

I have to say, the test went relatively well! I arrived a little early, and it wasn't long before they came out to the waiting room to get me. I believe it was an exercise physiologist (maybe a nurse), however, I didn't ask for her title. She brought me back and explained what they were going to be doing with me, I was very familiar with the treadmill portion of the exam, they were going to have me do a Bruce protocol. The treadmill would start off slow (1.7 MPH), but I would be walking at a 10% grade. Every three minutes the treadmill would get a little steeper and a little faster. The goal was the run until I felt I physically could not go anymore.

Before the treadmill portion of the test I was required to do a handful of breathing exercises. I was handed a mouthpiece and instructed to put it in my mouth. She clipped my nose closed with a clothespin type device, and told me to breathe normally through my mouth, then she told me on one of my inspirations take a large breath in and blow it out forcefully and keep pushing the air out until a green bar came across the computer screen. This exercise I did three different times, and all three times I was within normal limits on the low side by one unit, so that was not so great.

The next was the ever so wonderful hyperventilation exercise. Ironically, when I was taking a break from the first breathing exercise I had told the woman in the room that I remembered doing some of these exercises at Penn State, and I especially remembered the hyperventilation exercise because of how light headed I felt afterward. She laughed and said, "Well, you'll have to do that one next!" I completed that exercise with no problem, but was definitely dizzy.

She had me sit for a brief moment after that exercise to recover, and wait for the cardiologist to come in. While I was sitting there she handed me a paper with a list of TV channels on it, and asked me what I wanted to watch. I looked up, and sure enough, above the treadmill was a flat screen television. Not really knowing what is on during daytime TV, I just requested ESPN. The cardiologist came in, introduced herself, and it was time to start the treadmill portion of my test.

During the exam I was also required to wear the mouth piece and the "nose clothespin" to monitor my oxygen in and out. To ensure the mouthpiece would stay in place, and so I didn't have to hold it, they attached it to this ridiculous headband, I must have looked like a bionic woman! In hindsight, I wish I had asked them to take a picture of me so I could post it. So, with the mouthpiece monitoring my oxygen along with my exercise was used to calculated my VO2 max. One thing I found difficult about this test was the fact that I was NOT allowed to hold on. For safety reasons, I figured it would be a requirement, but no. Not holding on adds difficulty because you have to balance yourself and keep yourself near the front of the treadmill against the hill. The signal for me to stop (since I was wearing the mouth piece and unable to talk) was to grab on to the handle on the treadmill, and they would stop the belt.

I was disappointed I only did a little over 9 and a half minutes. The one thing I did note was that my breathing was not labored, it was my legs that forced me to stop, they were ON FIRE! I never run hills when training (but I really should), and ultimately it killed me. They slowed the treadmill to a stop and then had me sit in a chair to recover. I was finally able the take the mouthpiece out, and nose clip off and and breathe normally. They both stated I did a great job, and that my heart is not the issue. In the end it actually came down to my lungs. After my open heart surgery, it sounds as though scar tissue has formed in the thorax, which does not allow for my lungs to expand and fill completely. Unfortunately, I don't think there is anything I can do to change this.

They handed me a packet with a bunch of values and graphs on it, (not that I have any idea what half of it means) and the top number was my VO2 max. It ended up being 40 mL/(kg·min), so I can deal with that. Now that I know the issue is not my heart, I can continue training and I'm sure my VO2 max will only improve.

This weekend, I'm running the color run with some friends and coworkers. I ran it last year with a few friends and we had an absolute blast! I'm definitely looking forward to it this year with more friends joining in! I told my friends I'd make us all tutus, so I need to get to work on those since I will be busy the next two evenings!

QOTD: Have you ever had a metabolic stress test? Ever ran a novelty race like the color run?

Friday, May 9, 2014

I'm A Much Happier Person When I Get What I Want

Aren't we all though? Now that I've started running again, I've been a MUCH happier person. It hasn't hurt that the weather has been gorgeous here the past few days. I just cannot begin to explain how much happier I am when I am able to run, now I just have to keep myself from going crazy.

Monday Linda and I decided to pick back up running after work. It was such a beautiful day, and I found myself taking my jacket off after a few minutes. We ran down by the park where the Lilac festival will be held, and we noticed that they were starting to get things around for that (which starts today). We also noticed, now that it's been a little warmer, the trees are starting to bud and the flowers are blooming. It's FINALLY spring! There were also so many people out, it was great!! We did our usual 2.5 miles, only we decided to switch our route up for a change of scenery.

Tuesday evening my friend, Nita asked me if I would be interested in joining her for a Team RWB meet up on Wednesday evening. How could I say no to that? She had mentioned it to me previously, however, with my hands I could not go, but was definitely interested. Usually I run with Linda on Wednesdays, but I asked her if she minded we switch our days so I could go do this, and she didn't mind at all. Wednesday after work I met Nita at her house and we drove to the meet up together. At first we didn't see anyone so we decided we'd just run on our own, and at least get our miles in. We started to jog across the parking lot and Nita spotted two girls wearing Team RWB shirts. We jogged over to them and introduced ourselves, and they were very welcoming!

The four of us jogged up to an island just below the reservoir where they typically run, and chatted along the way. They asked us how we had heard about team RWB, how we ended up in the area, etc. Once we made it to the island, they mentioned that everyone usually does their own thing as far as the evening run, but then everyone meets back up at the island around 6:45 to walk back down to the parking area together.

Nita and I took off up toward the reservoir and decided to do a 2 minute run to 1 minute walk interval, and would just do a continuous loop around the reservoir. We both agreed we weren't ready for the hilly loop around the reservoir! I estimated that one loop around the reservoir was roughly between 1/2 and 3/4 of a mile, just judging by what my Garmin had said before and after one loop. The view of the city from up by the reservoir is also amazing! Again, there were a lot of people out in the area. There were kickball and softball leagues, there were yoga classes, and tons of people running, biking or walking their dogs. Before we knew it, it was time to meet back up with the girls, and cool down during our walk back to where we had parked. On our way back down the girls had mentioned that there are times during the summer after they run that they order a pizza, or have a cookout at the park, so I'll definitely be looking forward to that. (Who doesn't want pizza after they run?! Seems counter intuitive, but who cares.)

Nita and me after our first Team RWB meet-up: all smiles!

Today Linda and I are going to go out and run after work since we didn't go on Wednesday. We decided we would just play it by ear each week and decide what days we want to run. A few of my co-workers went outside for lunch and said it was gorgeous! I checked the weather channel on my phone and they weren't lying!

I can't believe it's 86 here!

I had heard the weather was going to be in the 70's today for our run, and decided last night to pack a brand new pair of Under Armour running shorts that a bought Easter weekend to wear. I'm excited to try them out, especially in this weather (I need to enjoy it while it lasts)!! I also hope that Linda and I can run down by the festival that started today. My coworkers said it was crazy busy at lunch time. Today is also the first day that I remembered to bring to Loratadine to take before my run, so I will report back about that next week. The last 3 runs (Saturday, Monday & Wednesday) I completely forgot, and my hands swelled up. My hands swelled up pretty bad on Wednesday evening during our run, I'm really not sure what the difference was between the 3 runs that made them swell up so bad on Wednesday. Either way, we shall see if this works.

This weekend I'm off for a Bachelorette wine tour with my brothers fiance, should be fun! I hope everyone has a great weekend!

QOTD: Are you in a specific running group or club? Do they do fun socials other than running related events?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

There's A First Time For Everything...

...and with that, my mom is officially registered for her first half marathon!! Sunday evening my mom and I registered for the Jazz Half in New Orleans.

So how exactly did I come across this race? This past January I was reading in my Runner's World magazine about the year's best half marathons, and the Jazz Half was listed as one. Ironically, my mom had just been saying a few days earlier that she wanted to visit New Orleans, so this presented the perfect opportunity! I mentioned the race to her, and she seemed open to the idea. We waited a bit before registering to give her a little more time to decide, and also more recently because of my hands. After my doctors appointment we officially decided we were going to run it.

I'm really excited to be doing a half marathon with my mom, and in New Orleans no less! We've done a handful of 5K's together, and I always enjoy them. We usually separate during our 5K's, but we will most definitely be sticking together for this race. It's always nice to have someone to pass the miles with (believe me, I know), and this way we'll be able to encourage each other, and even stop for photo opportunities. The race is on Saturday, November 1st, so mom and I are planning on flying down after work on Thursday evening. This also means we will be in New Orleans for Halloween, how exciting!! We obviously still have a lot of planning to do (hotel accommodations, restaurants, and other sightseeing), and I'll keep updating as we go along. Now we just need to stick to a training schedule, which we still have time to figure that out as well.

Speaking of training, last week marked the beginning of my Dumbo Double Dare training. For those of you not familiar, this race is during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend held Labor Day weekend, and the Dumbo Double Dare consists of the Disneyland 10K and the Disneyland Half Marathon. I was the only one out of my group of friends crazy (or stupid) enough to do this one. However, my friend, Mel is running the 10K, and my friend, Nita is running the half. So I'll at least be waking up ungodly early and venturing to the start with a friend. Still, I'm so excited! This will be my first race on the west coast AND my first trip to Disneyland! OH, and did I mention the trip falls on my golden birthday? YEP! (I apparently have a lot to be excited about)

Images from runDisney

Back to Dumbo Training... I follow the Jeff Galloway training schedule that runDisney posts on their site. I was able to download it directly into my calendar on my iPhone, so it tells me how much I have to run and on what days. I'll admit I did not do either of my 30 minute runs during the week last week. The first run would have fallen on Monday or Tuesday, which at that time I still had not seen my cardiologist. The second run would have fallen on Wednesday or Thursday which I honestly have no good excuse for not running (shame on me). I did go for a 3 mile run with my mom on Saturday. The run with my mom was actually my first in 3 weeks, and we had a great time. There is a nice walking/running trail back home that we've used a few times, and I quite like it. I really wish there was one close to where I live now, but I'm slowly scoping out new running areas around here. I'm just glad to be back running!

QOTD: Have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, what's your favorite thing to do while there? If not, what's the one thing you would do if you could visit?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Slower Than a Turtle Stampeding Through Peanut Butter

Where do I begin.... It's been a week since my last post, so I apologize for that. I was sick with a sinus infection, and since I wasn't running, there wasn't much to report.

Yesterday was the day I've been waiting for for 3 weeks now, my appointment with my cardiologist. My main focus was the swelling in my hands, but also the fact that I didn't feel like I was improving, in fact my running times were getting slower. I met with him momentarily, then was sent for an echo, then we met after to discuss the results, etc. First, the most important news, he said I can continue running! Due to my underlying congenital heart disease, he said I will never be an elite runner. This I knew, but I always thought that I could at least improve to the point where I would be able to run a 10 minute mile. Honestly, that is something that may never happen, and it's a reality that I have to deal with. He said the fact that I'm doing all the running that I'm doing with my congenital condition is great, and is more than is expected for someone with my condition. Sadly, at least I have a reason for being slow and not improving (hence the title of this post).

As for my hand swelling, it is not attributed to my heart. My cardiologist explained that if it was just my right hand, that would make sense since I had the Blalock-Taussig shunt as a baby, and that would be something I would just have to deal with. Since it was both hands, that wasn't the case, and he even asked another cardiologist who is a runner for any ideas. He said maybe it was a histamine response during exercise causing my swelling, and suggested I try taking a Benadryl before I go out for my runs to see it that helps. I may be able to kill two birds with one stone here. When I go out for long runs, my sweat causes me to itch all over, so I'm hoping this helps both issues.

He stated my right sided chambers have increased in size, but not to the point where it's concerning. This could be due to my running (and training), and it could be due to the regurgitant flow, or both. We talked about pulmonic valve surgery, and as I expected, I am not a candidate for the Melody valve as I currently do not have a conduit. As of right now, my only option would be open heart surgery, which neither of us are quick to jump on. I certainly don't want to deal with the cracked ribs and recovery from that. He did mention that there are a few medical centers using a trans-catheter approach to replacing pulmonic valves with severe insufficiency, and that could be an option down the road. That is something I would certainly be interested in when available. For now, I have to go back in a few weeks for a Metabolic Stress Test to see how effectively my body is using oxygen, and we'll go from there.

Now for something a little more fun! It's finally May, and that means that the Stroll for Strong Kids 5K is at the end of the month. This years theme is Peace, Love and Healing.

Isn't Sandy cute!!

This is one of my favorite events, and I love fundraising for it. After everything the Golisano Children's Hospital has done for me, it's the least I can do to give back. If you have time, please check out my secure fundraising page, and consider donating to such a wonderful cause. No donation amount is too small, especially when it helps to fund the medical treatment and procedures that are necessary for these resilient children and babies.

QOTD: Is there an event that you look forward to every year? Do you have any weird histamine responses when you're running?