Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Thoughts

Marathon Mondays – Week 15 of Chicago Marathon Training

There’s only 2 weeks left until I run my second full marathon and at this point in training, I just want to get it done and over with. LOL. I’m super impatient. Can you tell? Here’s how training went for this week.

Scheduled Mileage – Actual Mileage

Monday (5 miles) 5.1 miles

I started my new job on Monday and was very fortunate to finish early and get in the easy miles with my run group at Movin’ Shoes.

Tuesday (4 x 1.5 miles with 1 mile WU and CD)8.9 miles with intervals of some sort

Since I’m shorter on time with my new job, I decided to try and use my lunch hour as my run/lunch (runch) hour. I haphazardly created a route on Strava around my workplace that would give me 4.5 miles and ran out the door when lunch time came. What I didn’t realize was that the route I created was fairly hilly. Because 4.5 miles would have taken me a little less than 45 minutes and I only had 15 minutes to change, eat, and stop sweating before my meeting with my manager, I booked it up the hills. Never will I do that again. LOL. I checked out the gym and ran another 4.4 miles after work.

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Wednesday (Rest)Rest

Thursday (10 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD)5 mile tempo with 1.5 mile WU and CD 

Remember about a month ago, I had difficultly breathing on my runs. Yeah, it’s happening again. I’ve been plagued by what I think is severe allergies to something in the air. I thought the allergies would be better indoors and on a treadmill, but it wasn’t. I had to keep stopping because my throat was clogging up and I couldn’t breathe well. I had to keep blowing my nose and spitting out stuff. To say it sucked is an understatement.

Friday (5 miles)5 miles

TGIF! Ran an easy 5 miles on the treadmill after work. Allergies were still in effect unfortunately.

Saturday (8 miles)  – 11.7 mile long run 

Since Thursday,’s fiasco of a run, I had been trying to keep my allergies at bay by taking medication for it. By Saturday, they were a little more manageable and I was able to knock out 11ish miles.

Sunday (10 mile long run)5.1 miles 

I was debating with myself the entire week whether I could do another 50 mile week, but by Wednesday, I settled for 44 or 45 miles. My shins and knees were acting up on Sunday so I decided to opt for 44 miles.

Total mileage (50 miles)44 miles

Thoughts of the week: I don’t like missing mileage, but with my current situation, I think that I did the right thing by opting for lower mileage. I think I forgot to mention it last week, but my knee freaked out after a run and I couldn’t extend my leg without my knee feeling like it was going to pop. I had to extend my leg extremely slowly and even then, my knee felt locked. My knee was better this week, but I could feel that it’s still not 100% so I don’t want to risk putting more stress on it. The rest of training will most likely consist of easy runs with mileage in the high 30s or low 40s. Hopefully, that will be enough recovery and I’ll be able to finish strong in the marathon.

Question for you: Do you have any advice for tapering? Or even for the week before the marathon? I’m all ears!

 

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Posted in BibRave Reviews, Running, Thoughts

Luvo meals and their 3-2-None approach 

Disclaimer: I received a set of Luvo meals to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews! All opinions are my own. 

I don’t always have a lot of time to prepare my meals during marathon training season. I dedicate over 6+ hours a week to running and after running and work, I’m often just too tired to prep meals. So when BibRave asked me if I wanted to try out Luvo meals again, I of course said yes.

You can read about my previous experience with Luvo meals here. To make this review more different than the last, I made more of an effort to try out their other meals and I succeeded. Here is my review of them below:

First off, Luvo’s main goal is create wholesome, delicious meals using their 3-2-None approach. They have crafted the right balance of three types of ingredients: protein, whole grains, and veggies (3). They don’t have too much of sodium or added sugar (2) and no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners (none).

Second, Luvo has meals in three different formats – burritos, pouches, and bowls. All meals can be easily microwaved and only the pouches require a plate for the meal to be put on. I was able to try out both pouches and bowls and have listed them below from least favorite to absolute favorite.

My Top 5 Luvo Meals 

5. Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (with brown rice noodles in a creamy with panko style topping) – This vegetarian dish let me down a bit. I had heard so many good things about this one that I actually drove way out of the way to find this meal. When I eat mac and cheese, I expect cheesy goodness. I didn’t really get that in this meal. Maybe it was too healthy for me. LOL.IMG_2583

4. Orange Mango Chicken (with brown jasmine rice, white chicken, kale, and broccoli) – Since the orange mango chicken was my favorite the last time around, I had to try it again this time. The meal didn’t disappoint, but it has since been replaced with a new favorite.

3. Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes (with collard greens, butternut squash, and cranberries) – I actually tried a slightly different version of this 6 months ago. The brussel sprouts were replaced with collard greens and I actually love this version way more. Again, the meatloaf wasn’t dried out after heating and I would never have been able to tell that the gravy was previously frozen. Delicious.

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Nom nom nom
2. Chicken and Corn Chowder (with white chicken, kale, sweet potato and white beans in a savory Dijon-herb base) – This dish came was also VERY CLOSE to being my favorite. I am a big fan of chowder and the Dijon sauce went very well with the corn.

1. Thai-style Green Curry Chicken aka my FAVORITE (with white chicken, brown rice noodles, carrots, red bell peppers, and yellow squash) – I was super surprised by this meal. I will note that this dish is not at all reminiscent of anything I tried in Thailand, but the curry sauce was still rather tasty. I admit that I actually licked the bowl. LOL. Don’t judge me. 😛 The chicken wasn’t dry and was still really moist after microwaving too. Yay!

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Tastes way better than it looks
Final thoughts: I really enjoy the healthy meals that they have and I will continue to try out more as they come out when I’m in need of a quick healthy alternative. My only concern with these meals is that for someone training for a marathon, one of these meals will not be enough. I ate two meals in one sitting after a 10 mile run. LOL.

If you questions, feel free to ask me about them. In addition, we’ll be having a #bibchat on Twitter Tuesday, September 26th at 6 pm PST where you can ask Luvo and other runners what they thought about the meals.

Question for you: Have you tried these meals? What’s your favorite healthy frozen meals? 

 

Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Thoughts

Marathon Mondays – Week 14 of Chicago Marathon training

OMG. 3 weeks left and counting. I’m doomed! LOL. Jk. Only sort of doomed. 🙂

Scheduled mileageActual mileage

Monday (7 miles)7 miles

Since I was still in Texas and it was still hot as hell, the next few days of running were strictly on the treadmill. It was unfortunate, but it wasn’t unbearable. I ran an easy 7 miles and called it a day.

Tuesday (3 x 2 miles with 800 m recovery and 1 mile WU and CD)4 x 1 mile with 800 m recovery after 3 x 1 mile and 1 mile WU and CD

Intervals should be easy on a treadmill, right? You can adjust the speed to what you need it to be. Too bad my body wasn’t having it. I couldn’t hold the speed for 2 miles at a time and had to do 1 mile intervals instead. Boo.

Wednesday (Rest)9 miles with increasing pace

I was traveling to Boston on Thursday so I moved my tempo run to Wednesday. Unfortunately, my muscles were still really tight so I just decided to start out really easy and increase the speed slowly as each mile passed. I never got to my tempo pace, but I wanted to listen to my body. With only 3 weeks left, I can’t afford an injury right now. I also got booted out of the gym early because my boyfriend wasn’t with me. All residents must accompany guests to the gym. Boooooo.

Thursday (10 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD)Rest

Again, HALLELUJAH! Honestly, I love rest days SOOOOO much especially when you spend half the day traveling.

Friday (6 miles)16 miles

Since I was in a completely new city (Boston) and my friend wasn’t available until noon, I decided to do a little sightseeing by way of running and boy did I sight see. In 16 miles, I was able to explore numerous neighborhoods and even got to run along the historical freedom trail.

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Sight seeing at its finest
This was probably the best decision of my Boston trip. 🙂 Although, the 16 miles were not all in one go. Ideally, it should have been one consistent run, but since I wanted to sight see, I made stops along the way. Hopefully that didn’t hurt my training too much. Bleh. I’d run and if I saw something interesting, I’d pop in to see what was there. I also went to convenience stores and bought water. LOL. Can’t have heat stroke in a new city. That’d be bad. 🙂

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Statue of Paul Revere along the freedom trail
Saturday (6 miles)6.2 miles

Someone on Friday mentioned that if my 16 mile route didn’t include running by the Boston marathon finish line, that I did it wrong. LOL. Sooooo I went back out and ran a route that specifically ran by it. It was awesome. 🙂

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The closest I’ll ever get to the finish line unless a miracle happens and I can run like lightning
Sunday (16 miles)4.2 miles

On Saturday, I flew back and what was supposed to be a 5.5 hour flight ended up being 10 hours. Since I was tired as hell, I just ran a easy 4 miler and called it a week.

Total mileage (57 miles)51.6 miles

Thoughts of the week: This was peak week for Hanson’s Marathon method. Thank goodness. I didn’t think I’d make it to this point. LOL. Although I missed the target mileage, I’m still pretty proud of myself traveling and still being able to continue my training plan with a few modifications. It’s also the most mileage I’ve ever run in a week so yay! On another note, remember when I resolved to run 1000 miles this year? Mission accomplished! Yup. I achieved it this week. I’m stoked. 🙂

Question for you: The next few weeks are critical for me. Hanson’s marathon method doesn’t actually really taper until the absolute last week and that worries me because I’ve been so fatigued lately. With my current mileage, how much should I decrease by? Hanson’s has me running 50 and 49 miles for the next two weeks, which is still really high considering I wasn’t able to hit 57 this week. I was thinking about shooting for 45 and 44 instead. What do you all think? What kind of taper works for you? 

 

Posted in BibRave Reviews, Running, Thoughts

Hello 5kcrate! What presents have you brought me?

 Disclaimer: I received a 5kcrate subscription box to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews! All opinions are my own. 

I have always been intrigued by subscription boxes. I’ve tried Trytheworld for food and StitchFix for clothes and this month, I got to try 5kcrate for running related items.

5kcrate is a subscription box that ships quarterly (Winter – January, Spring – April, Summer – July, and Fall – October) and is tailored towards whether you’re a woman or a man. The box consists of 5 to 7 items that range from running apparel to accessories and these items come from both more well known brands and upcoming emerging brands. Each box costs $59.99 (includes shipping), but its contents are guaranteed to cost over $100 in retail value.

Without further ado, the contents of my box:

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All of the 5kcrate contents for Fall

Mission Athlete Cooling Towel (Retail value: $19.99) – This towel is meant to provide a cooling effect for up to 2 hours. After you wet, wring, and snap it, the towel activates and cools down to 30 degrees below the average body temperature. I have not used this one yet, but anything to cool me down after a run sounds awesome.

Mission Athlete VaporActive Alpha Running shirt (Retail value: $35.95) – The shirt attracts and evaporates sweat much quicker than other shirts so if you sweat a lot, this shirt is perfect for you.

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Sweating in my Mission Athlete Vaporactive running shirt

SpiGen Wireless Headphones (Retail value – $49.99) – Headphones that are wireless and allow you to listen to music while running and make calls. I didn’t particularly have very good luck keeping them in my ears while on my runs, but if I was walking, these headphones were easy to use.

LA fresh travel lite Sunscreen wipes (For a pack of 50 wipes, retail value – $24.99; I received 3 wipes) – It’s sunscreen in the form of wipes, which makes it really easy for travel and application. Seriously. I hate having to squeeze sunscreen into those 3 oz bottles for traveling. These wipes were super easy to apply onto my face and skin and I was done in a minute.

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Using LAfresh’s sunscreen wipe

Zensah no show compression socks (Retail value – $19.99) – Compression socks are a must in the world of running and I just loved the feel of these socks.

Epic Wipes (Retail value – $2.50; I received 2) – These wipes are aptly named. They’re 16x larger than your average wet wipe and so after a crazy trek up a mountain or running say a Ragnar, these would be perfect to use. I’m already planning on buying more of these for my first Ragnar relay in April. Check out my instagram for a video of me using one. Seriously. They’re huge.

Verdict? With any subscription box, you take a risk because you just don’t know what will be included in your box. You will most likely not love everything, but there might also be things you’ll never want to part with. For instance, I wasn’t a HUGE fan of using the Spigen headphones for running, but everything else proved to be quite useful to me.

I’m amazed at how many things are items are designed for runners and by trying out this subscription box, I was able to try out some of these things. Note that 5kcrate doesn’t include nutritional items, which I think differentiates itself from the other running subscription boxes. Finding some fuel that agrees with everyone would be quite tough. It instead prides itself on providing running items that can be used again and again and aside from the wipes, that’s very true. Unless you’re very particular about the items you use on your runs, I think this box would be great to try out. In conclusion, this box gets two thumbs up! 🙂

For more reviews on the 5kcrate box, check out my fellow BRPs reviews’

Jenna – Sara – Angie – TedrickVanessa – Paula – Heather

Question for you: Have you tried a subscription box before? Did you like its contents or was it not for you?

Posted in Marathon Mondays, Running, Training

Marathon Mondays – Week 13 of Chicago Marathon Training

Less than a month until I run the Chicago Marathon. Holy crap. Here’s my recap of how my marathon training went this past week.

(Scheduled Mileage) Actual Mileage

Monday (6 miles)7 miles

Since Mondays are easy miles, I try running more miles than scheduled because I know I’ll be exhausted by Sunday.

Tuesday (2 x 3 miles with 1.25 mile recovery jog and a 1 mile WU and CD)8 easy miles

This was my worst run of the week. I had to run a few errands in the morning so by the time I was ready to run, it was noon in peak heat. I decided to run by the bay because it’d be a little bit cooler. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. With the heat and lack of shade for 4 miles, I got destroyed during the run. My calf muscles were extremely tight and it took 4 miles for them to loosen up. Each mile in, I had to stop and stretch. I was so mentally and physically drained that I ended up doing an easy 8 miles instead of trying to push myself for intervals. I also miscalculated and didn’t realize I was supposed to do a little over 9 miles. Oops.

Wednesday (Rest)9 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD

I was traveling on Thursday so I decided to try for an 9 mile tempo run on Wednesday and rest on Thursday. It was still really warm and I ended up waiting until Wednesday evening to run. It was an okay run and I hit my tempo pace more or less. I did make a few stops along the way because it got dark and I got lost. LOL.

Thursday (9 mile tempo run with 1 mile WU and CD)Rest

Traveled to Texas for vacation so it was a rest day for me.

Friday (6 miles)8 miles (4.5 outdoors and 3.5 indoors)

If you didn’t know, Texas is very warm right now. I woke up a little late and was only able to run 4.5 miles outdoors before it got too warm. It was also my first time really exploring Bastrop and honestly I thought I’d get eaten by wildlife. The city is very much considered the countryside and my paranoia was getting the best of me. LOL. I finished the rest of the miles on the treadmill later that day.

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Running around Bastrop, Texas

Saturday (10 miles)10 miles (5.5 outdoors and 4.5 indoors) and an hour of rockclimbing

Again, I split the run into two parts – 1/2 outdoors and 1/2 indoors due to heat. I don’t really enjoy running on the treadmill, but this was the only option since I couldn’t get up early enough (I’m not a morning person) and didn’t want to get heatstroke in the sun. I also ended up bouldering for about an hour.

Sunday (8 miles)6 miles and dance classes

The plan was to go to the Greenbelt in Austin to run, but by the time I woke up, the temperature was already mid 70s. It would have taken another 40 minutes to get into Austin and by that time it would have been 80 and I don’t do well in 80 degree weather. Instead, I went into Austin and took some free dance classes (Intro to Hip Hop and Intro to Ballet for Adults) to mix things up a bit. I ended up getting the miles in on the treadmill later that night while catching up on the BibRave Podcast.

Total mileage (49 miles)49.1 miles 

Thoughts of the Week: With less than 4 weeks to go, I’m getting really nervous about the marathon. Because I’ve been struggling with pacing and hitting my target mileage each week (thank goodness I hit it this week), I think I’ll try for a sub 4:15 marathon time instead. A sub 4 might have been too ambitious, but I don’t regret trying for it at all. 27 days to go. YIKES!

Question for you: I will be moving onto Boston for a few days, but I’ve been having a hard time finding safe routes to run while traveling. How do you find routes to run? Any suggestions for routes to run in either Austin or Boston? Thanks in advance!

Posted in BibRave Reviews, Running

Be Brilliant (Reflective) – Product Review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Brilliant Reflective strips to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews! All opinions are my own. 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on another set of Brilliant Reflective strips. Thank goodness too. It’s been so hot lately that I’ve been trying to run at night when it’s much cooler. I tested these strips back in April, but there are a few other things I’d like to emphasize in this review.

Multi-purpose – I have found multiple uses for these strips. In addition to putting them on my running clothes and FlipBelt, I’ve also found that they work very well on backpacks. 🙂 I have a backpack that I typically travel with and after traversing new cities at night, I realized that I’d be a lot safer if drivers could see me when the neighborhoods are not as well lit. I put these stick-on strips on both the straps of my backpack and on the front so cars could see me from both sides. (You can never be too careful.)

This would be also be a great application for families with children. Reflective strips on the little ones’ clothes as well as their backpacks could make them more visible on their walk home from school. You can also put them on helmets and bikes if you’re a cyclist or on your dog’s collar when walking your dog. 🙂

 

 

Visibility – I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how visible these strips are. I was filming videos (seen on my Instagram) of me and my backpack and even without a super bright flashlight shining on them, the strips still reflected back.

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Durability – The stick-on strips stay on clothes for a few washes. The iron-on strips stay on a lot longer. In April, I tried their iron-on ones and they’re still on my clothes. Note that I did have one incident where the stick-on strip fell off about an hour into my run. I think it was because I had touched the adhesive too many times with my hands before applying it to the shirt and so the bond with the fabric wasn’t very strong.

Cost effective – These strips are now $14.95 for a pack (with free shipping) and they come in a variety of colors (black, purple, blue, and red). They’re a much cheaper alternative to reflective wear, which can cost a lot more. You can also buy a multi-pack, which includes one of each color if you want to color coordinate with your gear, for $49.95 (with free shipping). If you choose to buy their multi-packs, you can use the code “BRPmulti” to get 20% off.

Final verdict – These strips really do allow me to be visible to oncoming traffic and I will definitely be using more of them on my clothes especially for the Ragnar Relay that I’ll be doing next April. Eek!

Note: If you’re part of a running group, club, or even a non-profit that may want to educate its members on staying safe in dark and low-light conditions when they’re outside, Brilliant Reflective is having a 500k giveaway where they’re giving sample packs for free (you only have to pay for shipping) for your members to try out. More details can be found here.

If you have any questions for me, please feel free to ask me and I’ll also link other BibRave Pros’ reviews of the product below (when they’re posted). We’ll also be having #Bibchat on Tuesday, Sept 12th at 6 pm PST on Twitter where we’ll discuss running related things and Brilliant Reflective will be giving away a set of reflective strips. Just follow @BibRave on Twitter and tune in at that time. 🙂

BibRave Pro reviews: Paula – Gina – Samantha

Question for you: Have you ever had an incident where someone didn’t see you walking/running/cycling at night? 

Posted in Daily happenings, Running, Thoughts

August – A Whirlwind of a Month

Most months go by really quickly, but August was just not one of those months. I have a lot of new developments for you though so without further ado, my August:

Graduate School – August was my last month of graduate school because I GRADUATED! That’s right! I defended and got my PhD. Yes, that’s right! You can call me Dr. Mai now. LOL. Leading up to my defense, I was a wreck. All of my social activities were halted (with the exception of running). For most of August, you could find me in front of a desk writing, reading a paper, or thinking about writing my paper. Writing my dissertation was one of the most stressful times of my life and there were moments where I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That I’d just drop out and that’d be the end of my graduate career. But I persevered with the help of friends, family, and a LOT of running. The day of my defense will probably go down as one of the highlights of my life.

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At the beginning of my defense
My presentation wasn’t flawless. I stumbled and faltered on some words and I even had this moment where I couldn’t remember the word “convincing.” I remembered it two minutes later and the audience lightheartedly laughed. When I finished my presentation and asked for questions, I swear my face had this huge smile on it. It was an amazing moment and I still can’t believe that I’m done. I poured my heart and soul into graduate school. There were a lot of late nights of self-doubt and crying, but I pushed on and I did it. I’m a doctor now. 🙂

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My colleagues that helped me survive graduate school
Career – I am happy to report that I have a job lined up for me. While writing my dissertation, I was able to apply for a few jobs and fortunately, one of the companies wanted to interview me. My on-site interview was the day after my defense and after quickly celebrating with my friends and colleagues, I went home and prepared for the interview. LOL. My stress meter was through the roof that day. LOL. Fortunately, it all worked out and I will start in a few weeks. Yay! Wish me luck!

Travel – I haven’t been traveling lately, but this month, I did go to Vancouver for my first ever half marathon in another country. 🙂 The race itself was extremely fun and I just had a great time exploring the city. I still need to write a post on that trip so stay tuned!

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In Vancouver
Running – I had a lot of firsts in the world of running this month. For the first time ever, I logged over 200 miles in a month and to be honest, I’m still kind of in shock. I used to see people with monthly mileages of 150+ and I just never thought I’d be one of them. 🙂 I ran my first half marathon in another country (SeaWheeze Half Marathon) and followed it up with another half marathon the following weekend (America’s Finest City Half Marathon). 🙂 Yes, I’m crazy, but I think it’s good preparation for the Dopey Challenge in January, where I’ll be running a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon in 4 consecutive days. Yikes!

And that’s it for August! Bring it on September. ^_^

Question for you: How was your August? 🙂