My favorite running and workout gear

I am asked from time to time about the gear I frequently use/wear when running, walking, biking, etc. So I decided to pull it all together in a handy dandy list for you. I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed below. I paid for each of these items and am sharing my favorites with you, without expectation of compensation.

Techie

Garmin 305 Forerunner ($144.99 on Amazon).

One of my best investments. Easy to use. Great for biking, running, walking, etc. Keeps track of mileage, time, calories, heartrate and other factors I didn’t think I wanted to know about. There’s also a great Garmin plugin for Dailymile, so it makes uploading my workouts super easy. There’s so much more to this gear than I’ve even discovered, too! PS. I love setting up interval workouts on this thing. AMAZING.

iPod shuffle (w/lego case) ($69.99 for iPod, $13.99 for set of 4 cases)

I’ve tried using my Droid or older (larger) iPod while working out and it just gets bulky, especially in an arm band. But the itty bitty iPod shuffle is a perfect size. I clip it on my sports bra and don’t even realize its there. Fabulous.

Storage

Spibelt ($19.95 and free shipping with code ship09)

This little “small personal item” belt holds my cell phone, key, cash, ID, chews and is not bulky at all. It’s stretchy and comes in fun colors… AND there’s even SPIBelts with hooks for your race bib! It fits nicely in the small of my back and doesn’t bounce around. Usually, I forget it’s even there!

Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld 22-Ounce Bottle Carrier with Pocket ($16.99)

Not only does this waterbottle look cool, it’s also super handy. There is a huge pocket, perfect for my inhaler, chapstick and some chews… and I never feel like it is weighing me down when I’m being active. It fits comfortably in my hand. I haven’t tried a hydration belt yet because I don’t think I would like the bouncing water at my hips (they are big enough already, thank you very much).  The bottle is sturdy and very durable. I’ve taken a few falls with it and it only has a few scratches to show for it.

Safety

Nathan reflective SLAP bands ($9.99 for two at Sports Authority)

I finally got some reflective gear last night. First is this AWESOME SLAP BRACELET. Children of the 80’s, rejoice with me – OMG SLAP BRACELET!

Nathan Cyclist Ankle Bands ($6.99 for two at Sports Authority)

These are technically for cyclists, but I really wanted to have reflective gear on my ankles and wrists… so the cyclist velcro bands are PERFECT. Did a test run last night and both the ankle bands and the slap bracelet worked great!

BodyGlide ($5.99)

BodyGlide is a godsend. It keeps your business from chaffing and is easily applied with a deodorant-like applicator. Worth every penny. I use it even when I am not working out. As a woman, I’ve found it to be invaluable when wearing skirts/dresses! No more inner thigh chaffing!

Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
– John Bingham

It started out like any normal Sunday. Well, any normal Sunday where you get up at 4 a.m. to get ready and catch a bus at 5 a.m. to your first half marathon. You know, the usual. My first half marathon experience was nothing short of amazing. God spoke to me through Freddy Mercury, I never stopped to use the bathroom, I ran about 3 miles, I kept smiling and joking throughout and got to see almost every single teammate along the way. I am so grateful for this experience.

Me and Coach Anne – the cool kids in the back of the bus.

Team Challenge Wisconsin met for one last team cheer before the walkers nervously boarded our fancy bus to Napa. I was a ball of nerves. Yes, I’m smiling in the photos above, but my stomach was in knots. What had I done? Did I really sign up for this? What the hell was I thinking? Who in their right mind – at 249 lbs – would do a half marathon? I mean, really…

Well, I guess I’m that crazy fool.

Shortly after we boarded the bus, Dave, one of my teammates, said to me, “You look nervous.” Duh. Of course I was nervous. I had been dealing with an upset stomach all week leading up to this moment. Continue reading “Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon”

I’m on the injured reserve


This is what happens when your Garmin is upset you can’t run for 2 weeks.

One week ago, I did a half marathon. All week long, I’ve been a lazy bum. I need to kick my butt in gear but I’ve been in so much pain with my left foot.

Went to the doc Friday afternoon and she said that since my foot felt better before the race, it probably wasn’t a stress fracture. Dr. H. thinks it’s one of the following – bad sprain, torn tendon or tendonitis. Lovely, eh? If it still hurts in 2 weeks, she’s sending me to an orthopedic specialist who’ll likely do a bone scan or ct scan. yay.

So, I can’t run or walk (everyday kind of walking is ok. Walking to work out is not) for 2 weeks. No elliptical either (not that I mind). Basically, anything that means I’m putting all my weight on my feet is out.

This basically leaves me with biking and swimming. I love biking and I love swimming. I just don’t have access to a pool. Sure, there’s a lake but with all the rain we’ve had lately, I’m pretty sure that’s the last place I want to be right now. If anyone has a pool I could swim laps in for free, lemme know. Or, if you know of a place I could use for a nominal fee, I’m all ears. I need to do cardio and I don’t want to only bike. Besides, the trail I usually use is all effed up because of the rain. (UPDATE: My friend Jane may have solved the pool access dilemma. Stay tuned).

Yes, I’m making excuses, but I’m just trying to air out my options. I’ll probably hit up yoga this week, even though that requires weight on my feet. I don’t know what else to do! At least with yoga, it’s not constant moving and pounding on my feet.

Also: I got a good foot/ankle brace now. Icing a few times a day and sucking down the ibuprofen.

I owned 10 miles

(This was written Sunday afternoon… which should explain all the references to “today”).

I can’t even describe the sense of accomplishment I feel right now. I did 10 miles today. Without stopping. (well, I made a couple of water stops but that is expected – no stops to stretch or rest though!)

My body hurts so much its almost laughable. Seriously. It hurts so bad I can’t help but chuckle. Why do I do this to myself? My feet, my ankles, my calves, my knees (oh lordy my knees), my hips, my core, my neck… everything. hurts.

I would SOOOOOOOOOO go sit in an ice bath if there was enough ice in this house. Unfortunately those two trays won’t be doing much for me.

Today’s run/walk started out horribly. I totally psyched myself out this morning while I was eating oatmeal. I almost threw up I was so nervous. I’ve never done a double-digit workout (well except for biking)… and I know how much I’ve hurt from the shorter distances (6,8)… so I knew today was going to be horrible. Then I realized I didn’t charge my Garmin so it was going to die mid-run. Then I couldn’t find my inhaler. Then I couldn’t find the sunscreen. Life was anti-amy this morning. I got pissed at my Garmin for not being charged and tried to get it off and in the process completely ripped the watch band. So that meant absolutely NO Garmin today. I ended up using an app on my phone I used in the pre-garmin days which kept a decent record (timing at least) and only looked at it twice the whole route today… but of course that’s cuz I got some encouraging text messages and tweets from my family and friends. You guys rock.

I got to practice late, waited for Coach Anne to tell us the route for the day and then I took off without the rest of the team while they were talking. I just wanted to get today over with, and chatting wasn’t going to help anything.

I walked the first half mile or so then ran down the hill for just over half a mile… walked for a bit, then ran another half mile or so… then Stephanie caught up with me. She’s a runner on the team but didn’t have childcare this morning so she was going to walk while pulling her kids in a stroller. We walked together at a good pace for a couple of miles and then the rest of the team caught up with us as we headed out this little point off veterans park. Then we headed back towards the Art Museum where we lost Marge and Dave.

Stephanie, Anne, Kevin and I went through Lake Shore State Park to the red lighthouse and when we turned around we saw Marge. Anne broke away and continued with Marge, Kevin stopped for a bathroom break and Stephanie got held back for a bit with the kids… I knew if I stopped I wouldn’t keep going so I just went. I ran back through the park (half mile or so) and into Discovery World, down the hall to the bubbler to refill my water. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy but I didn’t want to fall behind the group.

I saw Stephanie and Kevin up ahead by the Art Museum and ran until I caught up to them and walked along Lincoln Memorial Drive with them.

At the entrance to Veterans Park, we found Anne, Dave and Marge and kept with them to the bubbler by the tennis courts and then north along Lincoln Memorial. At some point (I think near the Northpoint custard stand), Kevin and I lost the rest of the group and kept going towards Lake Park Bistro. I had already decided that I would do 10 miles and forego the final mile in lieu of the stairs. OH MY GAWD. Climbing up the stairs at Lake Park Bistro AFTER having done 10 miles was brutal. Absolutely brutal. It hurt so bad to lift my legs up the stairs. Kevin and I got halfway and cheered on the rest of the team who was heading up the hill.

I got to Becky and the picnic table and collapsed… stretched… drank water… tried to wrap my head around what I just did. I got into my car and almost sat there crying but I didn’t want anyone to see so I headed home.

Today was magical. Today was horrible. Today was awesome.

I can hardly walk now. But it was worth it.

I owned those 10 miles.

I’m going to own 13.1 in 4 weeks. Scratch that. I’m going to make 13.1 miles my bitch.

The one where I accidentally run .85 mi without stopping

It started off like any other hot, muggy, late-night run. I walked a .25mi warmup (about 4-5min) and waited for my Garmin to beep at me that it was time to start running. it just wasn’t turning over.

You see, I had set up this great program for myself tonight – a bunch of intervals to work on speedwork on my favorite route from my house to downtown Milwaukee. I created the workout in my Garmin training center program and uploaded it to my Garmin. What I didn’t realize until, oh 15-20 min into the run was that my Garmin never connected to the satellites, so my plan to run a quarter mile, then walk for a min and so on was never going to happen.

Hence the title, the one where I accidentally run .85mi without stopping. You should also know I did this in 9 or 10 minutes. I don’t know what happened. I really don’t.

I started the running portion near Humboldt and Ogden… and it wasn’t until I was at Prospect and Wisconsin (and running out of air – literally) that I realized that the satellite thingamabob wasn’t working. There was nooooooo way I hadn’t gone less than a quarter mile. I’ve done this route before. I just got in the zone and bam. Perhaps it was the sheriff’s deputy who waved at me as I ran past Juneau Park. Perhaps it was the desire to get this run over with ASAP because it’s so freaking humid out. Perhaps it was none of the above. Perhaps, just perhaps, I’m awesome. Your guess is as good as mine.

Regardless, I ran my longest distance ever without stopping to catch my breath or to walk. A non-stop mile is not far away. Hell, running an entire 5k without stopping isn’t far away. Speaking of which, I have one in 2 weeks. 😉

Now I’m off to shower and cuddle with this gal.

Another 8 miles down

Sunday’s 8 miles was felt so much better than last week. That’s partly because of the heat, but also because I rock. (Let’s be honest here). I was more into this mentally than I was last week. I had myself freaked out. This week, I kept a fairly consistent pace and was able to do a little running at the beginning, the middle and the end. In fact, I was so determined to do a sub 2:20 today that I ran the last quarter mile. 😉

Around mile 1.5, Marge caught up to me so we stuck together for the remainder of the training run/walk. I think it helped us both keep moving knowing that we couldn’t slow down too much because of the other. We did a couple li’l running intervals by the Art Museum. After the turnaround, we were both very pumped to realize we were leading the pack of walkers! So we were determined to keep that going and kept the pace going for the last 4 miles.

I realized that around mile 4-5, I’m definitely hurting, but once I push through that… by mile 6 or so it sort of goes numb and it isn’t until I stop moving that my legs hurt again. I’m sure that as I do more and more of these long distances, that my body will adjust and I will hit that pain max at a later mile. It is really funny though that by mile 6 it didn’t matter anymore. It was totally mental by that point.

Somehow I ended up with 8.1 so whatever, I’ll take it. Oh, and I crushed last week’s time for the 8 miles by more than 5 min!!! Sha-weeeet!

SPLITS: 16:33, 16:55, 17:35, 17:47, 17:37, 18:26, 18:06, 16:56

PS Can anyone tell me what the difference between Ave Pace and Ave Moving Pace on the Garmin means?

First attempt at speed work

Following Coach Anne’s suggestion, I tried some speed work last night. I figured out how to do time intervals on my Garmin which was so helpful. All that shows up in the display is time left for that interval and which numbered interval you’re on. You don’t see pace or distance, so you’re more focused on running for that time than you are on constantly checking your pace (guilty!!!).

I decided I would do 10 reps of 3min run/1min walk. Considering that last week was the first time I’ve ever ran for 3 min straight, this was a little ambitious for me. I should have aimed for 7 or 8 reps, because by the time I got to that point, I was spent and a mile from home. This is obvious when you look at my interval splits:

0.22, 0.23, 0.23, 0.20, 0.22, 0.15, 0.19, 0.15, 0.16, 0.16

That’s the distance (miles) I did in each of the 3min intervals. I averaged .05 in the minute “rests” between each interval.

I am so proud of what I did tonight. I’ve never ran this much, period. I picked up my pace. Here’s my pace for those same interval splits:
13:25, 13:15, 13:04, 14:44, 13:34, 20:03, 16:09, 20:07, 18:46, 19:04

Do you SEEEEEE my pace for the first 5 intervals?! SQUEEEEE.

I can do this.

I should add that there were a couple of points during this workout where I thought I was going to puke. I ended up walking the last 3 intervals because I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to push any further and risk doing something stupid.

Setting up intervals for speed work on Garmin 305 Forerunner

Hit the mode button.

Then, Training>Workouts>Interval

You can select to do your interval reps based on:
Distance, Distance Rest
Distance, Time Rest
Time, Time Rest
Time, Distance Rest

You can also include how many reps you want to do AND if you want to include a warmup/cooldown.

I set mine up for 3min then 1min rest for 10 reps with warmup/cooldown. Basically, when you have this set up and hit start to begin your workout, you’re in “warmup” mode until you hit the LAP button. Similarly, when you finish your last rep, you will go into “cooldown.”

I ran a mile today

So today I fell asleep when I got home from work, waking up around 3:45. I had acupuncture at 4:45 so I knew I was screwed as far as getting in 3 miles today.

So, I decided to make the time I had count. I changed into my workout gear and headed off to Bay View and parked across the street from my acupuncturist.

I started the garmin and off I went. I walked for about a quarter mile, and then started doing some running. I felt good, so I kept going, only stopping to walk for 30 second intervals. As I was nearing the 1 mile mark, my lungs were burning, but I was DETERMINED to finish that mile in less than 15 minutes.

I was talking to myself (yes, out loud) but I doubt anyone noticed. It was raining and no one was outside. I kept saying, “Do it… keep going… Amy just do this… one more block… to the next driveway… you can do it.”

And I did. Official split: 14:50. HOLLER!

My knees held up beautifully!!! Now, I just have to get my lungs in gear.

Baby steps.

Baby’s first GARMIN

I’m a huge nerd. I love techie gadgets and toys. So when my FitMilwaukee and DailyMile friends talked about their Garmins, I knew I had to get one. I finally had the money to purchase this baby yesterday and I had it overnighted from Amazon. HOLLERRRRRRRRRRRR.