Sunflower Butter Oatmeal Power Balls & ViSalus GIVEAWAY!!!

This post is sponsored by ViSalus

While I thought training for a 50 miler would make me hungry, training for a triathlon, even an itty bitty sprint one is making me HUNGRY! I guess my energy burning for running has become quite efficient.  I’ve gotten used to running twice a day, often straight after work before dinner.

Swimming on the other hand… well first let me explain where I stand.  I have swum probably less than 10 times in my life and most of that was doggy paddling.  My speed at swimming is equivalent of a stroll in the park speed at a 5k.  I’m slow, very slow.  At this very slow speed, I swim for about 20-30 minutes after work in the evenings. (I can’t swim in the morning, the showering process is too overwhelming for me).  As slow as I am, for me its a HUGE effort and makes me starving before and after.

However, you can’t swim on a full stomach.  Once you eat, you need to wait and wait.  Some people have to do similar for running, but I’ve become a pro at running 10 miles straight after wolfing down several tacos.  Iron stomach I thought.  However, sadly these “skills” are not transferring over to swimming.  So instead I had to come up with a snack, that was filling but not FILLING in the stomach so I could swim at my slower than grandma speed, and then stuff my face with dinner.

These sunflower butter oatmeal energy balls are perfect! They’re tasty, filling, and give me the energy I need to get through the evening workout but still leave room for dinner afterwards.

Sunflower Butter Oatmeal Power Balls

1/2 Cup Vi-Shape Sweet Cream Nutritional Shake Mix
2/3 Cup Old Fashion Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup sunflower butter
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
Cinnamon to taste & make pretty
1/4 Cup water

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. I usually mix the dry ingredients first, then wet ones and afterwards combine
2. Batter into 1″ balls and place on wax paper so that they don’t touch.
3. Refrigerate uncovered for about 30 minutes or so until harden
4. Eat and enjoy but refrigerate those you don’t eat, because they’re not pretty after sitting on the counter for 2 days 😉

If sunflower butter or peanut butter isn’t your thing, you should try Running Hutch‘s coconut oatmeal bites instead!


Because you guys are so awesome, ViSalus has offered to let one of my readers experience ViSalus for themselves with a balance kit which contains the shake mix and a few more goodies.

The Vi-Shape Shake Mix is gluten-free, lactose free, low fat and low in sodium. You can learn more on their fact sheet.  Check them out on the web, facebook and their blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you ever cook/bake with protein powder?

Staying in (running) shape during a heat wave – My attempts

As the 5th day of 90 degrees and humidity blesses the streets of Boston, many of us sit here and wonder what to do with ourselves as we stare at our charged up Garmins and a clean pair of shoes.

Even the trails offer no real shelter from this heat.  The shade can only do so much.  Here’s some things I’ve come up with to keep myself from going crazy, busy while keep some form of running shape.

Last year I wrote why and how to run in 95 degrees,  But I’m a little older, a little wiser, and while my tips from last year are still good, I have a few more things to add for how and why I’m staying in running shape this summer.  90 degrees, 100 degrees, you don’t scare me!

1. Cross-train – Now I’ll be first to admit, I hate crossing training.  I love running, it’s all I want to do, most of the time.  However, summer presents a great opportunity to brush up (or learn) on swimming and biking! Two things that are highly unpleasant to do in the dead of a blizzard in sub zero temperatures.

Jamis Joplin

Aside from all the usual great benefits of just biking and swimming to begin with.  These are both great cardio workouts!  A 3 hour bike ride is 3 hours of your heart working out.  It might not be as great as running, but it’s the closest thing I found that’s still outside.

And swimming! I still suck at it, but there’s something quite blissful about being in a pool of water, after being outside in the heat.  Even if the said pool is of questionable hygiene at your local Y.

P.S. Please wear a helmet when you bike (for your safety) and a swim cap (for my safety) in public pools because seeing hairballs the size of rodents isn’t pleasant.

2. Run early or late – As much as I hate waking up early, I find that here, the mornings are more pleasant than the evenings when it can take until complete darkness for the temperature to cool off.

3. Join a gym – I’m blessed with treadmills at work but I also have a Y membership that I use for swimming and running on weekends when I just don’t want to be in the sun. I actually freeze my membership in the winter (when it’s packed with all the New Year resolution people) and unfreeze in April.  There’s plenty of gyms out there that only cost $10 – $20 and they may not have towel service or classes, but usually they have a semi working treadmill and an AC and quite frankly that’s good enough for me.

4. Treadmill for shorter distance – Tied to joining a gym and/or buying a treadmill for indoor running.  While, I rather kill myself with a butter knife than do a 20 miler on a treadmill again, they do have some benefits.  They’re perfect for harnessing some speed workouts for a new 5K or 10K PR without ever having to drag your sweat dripped bum to the track.

5. Acclimate into the heat – Run slower, fewer miles at first.  You can’t go from running 3 hour 22 milers in 50 degrees to 3 hour 22 milers in 90 degrees.  You need to start slow and sadly with each summer, you need to do it again.  Start with 5 milers and work your way up.  You get used to it.  I can’t promise it will ever feel pleasant (unless you’re one of those freak of natures who loves 100 degree runs) but it does get easier.

Fall PR Earned in Summer

Summer heat… I’ll run through it, but that’s won’t keep me from complaining about it!

Favorite way or tip for staying in running shape over the hot summer days?

Weekly Recap – Triathlon Training Week 1

So on Monday I decided to just jump straight into triathlon training.  After all I have two major obstacles:  I don’t know how to swim and I have a fear of riding my bike fast or on streets with cars. Yea two perfect skill sets to start with a month before a triathlon.

My new chalkboard that I made!  I like to get ambitious with my workout plans and if I go through on half of them, I call it a happy successful day!  Things most likely to not make the cut? Anything that has an AM in the front.  ZzzZzz.

Monday – 10 Mile bike, 3.5 Mile Run, 650 yds swim
I reintroduced myself to the Y.  I biked 10 miles on a stationary bike (which I learned on Sunday is nothing like a bike) and then ran 3.5 miles.  Everything felt easy, too easy.

In the evening I came back and decided to attempt to swim.  It was ugly.  Very ugly, I swam or kicked at a rate of 25 yds at a time, for 13 round trip laps or 650 yards in about 30 minutes.  Yea, I might drown.

Tuesday – 11.26 Miles Run
Running day!  6.5 miles on incline 3 on the TM and an easy 5.26 miles in the woods with my TARC friends.  Love the evening easy runs!

Wednesday – Bike 25 min, run 3.2 miles, swim 800 yds
I don’t know how far I biked, but it couldn’t have been far.  One of those stationary Livestrong bikes with no meter (how annoying!), a brick run afterwards.  Yea, I learned why it’s called a brick run, my legs did not want to go.  Swam in the evening and did 16 laps this time in 30 minutes for 800 yds.  Yes, I’m the world’s slowest swimmer.

Thursday – 7 miles
Busy day, frustrating day and took some anger out on the treadmill.

Friday – 1,000 yds swim
35 minutes of swimming.  It was so hot outside that I actually enjoyed the swimming and decided to skip out on the running.

Saturday – 20.2 miles
Long runs! O how I love my long run days.  There’s really nothing better than being on the road (or maybe a trail) with a pair of shoes and your breathing.

I got to preview the Mizuno Wave Sayonara and of course the first thing I did after taking them out of the box was run 20 miles.  The shoes felt like they weight less than half my Waverider 15s and I got a little carried away for how hot it was, but I’ll get more into the details in a new post later this week for shoe reviews.

10 Miles – 8:05 pace ~ 8 Miles – 9:00 pace ~ 2 Miles 8:00 pace (TM)

The first 10 miles went great, I felt fast as a cat or a ninja but it was also 80+ degrees and I was running without water and dehydrated myself enough to pay the price for the next 4 miles as I ran home. I could have stopped at a convenience store to buy water, but I’m a masochist and like to push myself to suffer.  Had several glasses of water but the damage was done.  I had really no motivation to run fast, so I took it easy with 4 more miles outside, until I decided to go into my woman cave in the basement.  I was determined to finish with at least 20 miles.  Once I was in my basement, even without an AC it was cool enough that I was able to pick up the pace for my last 2 miles!

Sunday – 7.8 mile bike, 1,000 yds swim, 5 mile run
A workout for each meal!  Biked 7.8 miles on about 40 minutes outside while battling my fear of cars.  Also learned that biking on a stationary bike at the gym is not the same. My quads were so sore by the end of the day that all I could do was roll around the floor whining.  Swam for 35 minutes at the Y before lunch.  I wasn’t getting faster but I did attempt to do 100 yds at a time without touching a wall! A few successes!  And after dinner Tony and I ran, or something like that in 90 degree heat.  I will run through the heat, but it won’t stop me from complaining about it, each and every time!

Total Running Miles – 50!

Total Feelings – Jack is in empathy with me!

We have a whole week of weather going from 88-93 and humidity.  Can’t wait!

After DNF, what’s next?

I’ve been a little quiet this week… it’s hard to write about writing, when a race you wrote about training for half the year ended in well… this.  I’m hitting all the stages of grief now.

Denial… maybe it was all a dream

Anger… blaming my light, mother nature, other runners but most of all myself

angry bunnySource

Bargaining Maybe if I run 50 miles on my own it will count

Depression… After Friday night, I didn’t even want to look at my trail running shoes.  I didn’t even want to think about running.  I wanted to wallow and wallow in my self-pity. Tony was great though, he hosed off the 20 pounds of mud off my shoes and compression socks and it wasn’t until Tuesday that I finally ran them through the wash.

I punished myself on Saturday by making myself scrub the kitchen floor in hopes of making it clean like an OCD maniac (I don’t clean very often, or ever because I’m terrible at it).  Then halfway I got tired and lazy and the scrubbing got downgraded to mopping & moping while no one was there to look.

I really wanted to wallow in my self-pity, but NOBODY would let me!  Everyone has been so kind (or controlling) and every time I try to mumble something degrading, I’m shut down!  Sometimes a gal wants to whine and mope you know 😉  However, I am too lucky with all the amazing support of friends and family I’m surrounded by.

T-dawg even dragged me to a celebration dinner we planned earlier even though I didn’t really do anything worth celebrating besides not breaking a leg (literally).

DNF Dinner

We went to Turner Seafood in Melrose with some friends.  I ordered a margarita that has an oyster inside.  It was amazing! It was like a bloody Mary made love with a dirty martini and popped out an oyster baby inside.  I ordered the tuna burger and Tony ordered the fried seafood platter.  Definitely will be coming back here again.  At least I will for my new favorite drink.


I’ve accepted it.  I finally washed my legs from the mud.  dirty feet

Just kidding, this is what my feet looked like AFTER a hose down Friday night  I wasn’t allowed anywhere until I washed the mud off.  Although days later, many foot soaks later and a pool swim later, I am still finding mud permanently engraved into my toes and feet. Sorry sexy red sandals, I’ll have to wait before I wear you again.  Hello Toms.

I’ve accepted, Friday night was not my night for a 50 miler.  I’m okay.  It sucks, I spent a lot of time training and looking forward to it but that’s okay.  I spent a lot of time TALKING, WRITING about it, but that’s okay.  I plan on having many years of running ahead of me and there will be a 50 miler in my future.  Maybe not this year, but there’s always next Spring.

What’s next?

In less than a month I’m running my first TRIATHLON!  July 14th, Appleman Triathlon in Littleton, MA.  It’s sprint distance which doesn’t have a real standard.  This triathlon will be HALF A MILE swim, 10 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run.

Where’s my swimming.  So far I can swim 50 yards in the pool with only one mouth full of water before I grab the wall.  I only have to do 16 times that distance in open water in less than 4 weeks.

So needless to say, my focus for the next 3-4 weeks will be learning how to swim.  I’m trying hit the pool one way or another every other day before my arms fall off.

I’m signed up for another 50 miler.  TARC Summer Classic.  There is still a chance I’ll drop down to 50K.  I’m not planning on keeping up high mileage training like I was the TARC 50 miler last week.  With summer heat and activities, I think I’ll go about 50-60 miles of running and just see how I feel come August 17th.

Before that, I’ll be running a trail marathon, Bear Brook Trail Marathon July 27th.

That’s about it for the summer.  I’ve accepted what happened and I’m moving on and enjoying all the perks and wonders I have around me.

Now if it would only stop raining and being cold in Boston.

TARC 50 Miler DNF

DID NOT FINISH, I guess is always better than a did not start.

Sadly the 2013 training season peak race will end with a DNF.  I don’t have a lot of regrets for my training going into the race.  I don’t know if much could have prepared for the two weeks of pouring rain that the course took.  My mind just could not handle the mud, swamps and darkness that the 50 miles held.  Emotionally, I hold on to some regret, but logically, I know I walked off the field with no injuries, no physical strains and am back on the road and trails the next day.

To summarize.

164 Registered for the 50 miler

66 Finished the 50 miler

41 Finished the 50 miler in under 12 hours

About 40 or so of the registered runners didn’t even start

190 Registered for the 100 miler

65 Finished the 100 miler

So my DNF was in very good company.  A lot of amazing, strong runners, that I admire and look up to ended up DNFing the course.  I have to keep reminding myself that because otherwise the guilt and wounded pride starts breaking me down.

The TARC 50/100 miler was not designed to be a challenging course.  I believe that it was designed to be very friendly towards those going for their first 50 miler or 100 miler.  And Bob Crowley & Josh Katzman along with the countless volunteer helper did any amazing job.

I took Friday off and spent half the day napping and sleeping and grazing.  I met Tony around 5 and we drove to Weston to get there at 6.  After getting my number, time chip and debating back and forth whether to use my Camelpak or my handheld, the prerace meeting started.  I don’t know how, but maybe the excitement, the great company and everything else made the hour fly by because before I knew it, it was 7 PM, the race was starting and I forgot to grab my gaiters!

Photo by Michel Caren of the start
Photo by Michel Caren of the start

There are three aid stations that you pass by multiple times.

4.5 Miles – First loop went great.  I had an 11 minute going pace which was my target for the first 25 miles.  There were a few puddles of mud, a few streams to cross but for the most part it was very runnable.  I felt great.  As I passed by the station that Tony was volunteering at, I kissed him and ran off still in high spirits.

The next 5 miles got worse.  The puddles got bigger and deeper.  There was a flowing river with rocks we forded through.  And it started to get dark.

Next 5.3 miles were in darkness and got muddier and worse, but by mile 15, I still felt okay.  However, I could see my pace quickly dropping as the swamp and pools of water got deeper and longer.

Somewhere around mile 19, I questioned whether I could make the 12 hour cut-off.

By mile 22, I knew I would not make it.  At mile 23, I was still planning on running the 4.5 mile loop to get to 30 miles or so for the night.  Even though I wasn’t going to make the 12 hour cut-off and such, I still wanted to end the night on an ultra.

Mile 24, 25 were mud, water, slippery socks, mud that tried to pull your shoes off and was barely runnable to me.  It was in those two miles, that solidified my decision.  I was walking off the course as soon as I get to 25 mile to complete my one loop.  I had this awful feeling that if I kept going, I would have injured myself.  Mentally, the mud had broken me.

No me but someone took this of how deep the water was
No me but someone took this of how deep the water was

Tarc 50 MudThis is a photo of the course during the day after more water had dried up.  I was running this in the dark, dead of night.

I reached the 25 mile aid station around 6 hour mark.  I learned later that I was the 73rd runner in the 50 miler to reach it.  I wasn’t the last one, or the only one not making the cut, I was middle of the pack.  I knew there was no way I would finish 25 more miles in 6 hours.  I learned way later that they extended the time cut-off from 12 to 15 hours.  I’ve spent way too much time wondering if I should have went on if I knew I had more hours.  The 6 hours that I ran on did not seem tedious and long, they actually flew by but maybe that;s my selective memory.  Maybe I would have kept going if I knew I had 9 hours and not 6 hours to finish the second 25 miles of the course but to be honest I was not having fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my fellow trail runners, the volunteers and aid stations were amazing.  I really REALLY wanted to keep running just so I could stop by and hang out at the aid stations.  Everyone was so amazing.

However, I was not prepared for the 25 muddy miles in the dark

1. I learned that my flashlight was not as bright as it seemed before
2. I learned that my headlamp is brighter about 10 miles later after using a useless flashlight but I could not figure out a way to hold it.  Having it on my head did not work.
3. I only had one pair out of the three pairs of shoes that I brought that would work in the mud.  After 25 miles, I needed either a hose or a new pair of shoes to get rid of the 10 pounds of mud I was carrying.
4. Running on mud and water makes you legs shaky. My hips hurt and I felt that if I kept going, I would either fall or twist my ankle in the mud.  I got really scared for my safety.
5. I was having a lot of difficulties on the two-way parts of the trail that were single track. It felt like everyone’s headlamp’s were brighter than mine and aiming straight for my eyes.
6. Running through the night wasn’t too bad. On the part of the trail that was runnable, I learned to trust my footing and my lighting. I actually did not get sleepy at all, and when I got home, I could barely fall asleep for an hour or so at 3AM

I have regrets for not going past my limits and succumbing to the weakness of my mind but I’m also grateful that I left the course with no injuries beyond my pride and was able to run the next day.

I thought about signing up for another 50 miler this summer but honestly, I don’t want to run double 20 milers on the weekends while the weather is hitting 90s.  I loved it in the winter, but summers are for biking, swimming and lazy days on a meadow.  Besides I have my first triathlon in a month and I start my training today! However, I will be back, probably not the fall since I work 6 days a week, but next Spring you’ll see me.  Maybe for TARC 2014 and maybe for much more!  Tony even said he won’t be too mean to me if I train for a 100 miler!

Final Week of Training – TARC 50 Miler!

So did you end up cashing in (more like cashing out ha!) on some of the Running Day deals?  T & I are in for RnR New Orleans (Feb) and Georgia Marathon (March) for 2014!  Two new cities, two new states, two new marathons, lots more fun.  Anyways, I added that and a few other goodies to my schedule (NYC!).

So last week was my last week of actual “training.”  I’m currently in taper week and with lack of running, I have to warn, I haven’t been the most pleasant.  Does anyone ever feel like a royal b— when you don’t get a workout in?  I guess drug addicts would say the same thing on their withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve been too cautious of cross-training because I don’t want to make my other muscles sore. However, I plan on picking up with swimming and biking after the 50 miler since I have a sprint triathlon a month away!  (Oops forgot to add that to the calender).

Anyways, last week.  Last week felt great and I have to confess, the biggest struggle was keeping my mileage down.  The problem is that when you start running high mileage weeks, after a while they become easier, and you feel great so you want to keep going, more running, faster, longer, stronger.  Problem is, this “great” feeling is a GREAT way to get a one way ticket to Injury City.  You start to skip your easy runs, you start to skip your rest days and before you know it, instead of feeling great, you feel pain.  So instead, I have to remind myself to take a step back.  To slow down and focus on my goal for June 14th.  Taper isn’t just a one week process, for it to be effective it should be done gradually and that’s what I tried to do while fighting my addictive nature to run more.

Monday – 2 Miles
I felt guilty about taking a rest day since I didn’t feel like the Spartan race counted as running miles on Sunday.  However, every muscle besides my legs hurt. The humidity and my smarter half of the brain feeling guilty about not taking a rest day made me cut the run  at 7:short.

Tuesday – 21 Miles
Double duty run.  8 miles in the morning and 13.1 in the evening!  8 miles on incline 2, 7:50 pace felt great.  A little less great in the evening run, with barely 8:30 pace.

Wednesday – 8.35 miles
Kept it slow with a 9 minute pace to try to recover from Tuesday

Thursday – Rest Day
Was too busy to run so rested it up instead

Friday – 5 miles
8 minute pace, but forced myself to keep it short

Saturday -14.1 Miles
Debated on how far too run. I didn’t want to take my run too long and not feel my best less than a week later.  I decided 14 miles was a fair compromise.

5 miles.  Struggled once again to not run too much.  Felt weird but fun to take an easy weekend!

Total Miles 55.5

Total Feelings – Antsy! I want to get my 50 miler done!  Nerve-wrecked!

Tuxedo, NY Reebok Spartan Race Sprint Recap

A week has passed and I can finally move my arms and cough without groaning in pain… Don’t ask why I’m always coughing, it’s just natural to me like breathing.

To say that the Spartan Race was a challenge might be a slight understatement as I don’t think I’ve ever pushed myself more or been more sore in my life.  I’ve taken boot camp classes and I’ve done the Spartan race over 3 years ago in MA but this was beyond my expectations.

It was longer


and more fun...

Than I could have predicted

Let’s start from the beginning… through my relationship with Fitfluential I was given an opportunity to run the Spartan Race in Tuxedo, NY.  They provided me with two race entries and some really awesome gear for me and Tony to train in.

A little history, in 2010, Tony and I ran the Spartan race in Amesbury, MA.  It was awful in every possible aspect where the theme of the day could be summed up in one word. WAITING.  Waiting to park, waiting for a shuttle, waiting on lines to get a number, waiting in a line for every obstacle, waiting for HOURs for shuttle back to our car.  After that, I’ve feared obstacle courses ever since.  However, now that Reebok works with the Spartan race, well they could convince me to jump off a bridge.

I expected the course to be more smooth since everyone that’s done the Spartan race after 2010 has had nothing but good things to report. However, I really did not expect the obstacles to get that much harder or be that much fun.  In 2010, it was basically a walk in the woods.  In 2013, I earned every mile I ran up and down.

The course we ran was in Tuxedo, NY on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at the 12:15 heat.  I woke up early and was planning on running 15 miles in the morning.  But it was already 80 degrees and I decided to spend some extra time with my parents instead.  Probably one of the smartest decisions I made in a while.

Spartan Before

Me showing off my iPhone holding arm muscles and Tony’s sweet Reebok outfit.

Tuxedo was about 45 minutes from my parents’ summer bungalow and since it was pre-season we got there without any traffic.  Parking was EASY! They had volunteers guiding you in one of the most organized lot of 10,000 cars I’ve ever seen.  GREAT JOB! We then walked about 5 minutes to the registration tents which Tony was able to get his bib in a minute or two.  I had some complications because I didn’t bring my ID and hand to prove my identity, but the Spartan Race staff/volunteers were very nice and got me all sorted out.

I believe that every 15 minutes or so 200 runners start on their Spartan Adventure.  When we got to the starting line, the 12:30 group just started a minute a go.  Tony and I debated about waiting for the 12:45 heat and decided last second to just hang around the back of the 12:30 group.  I wasn’t planning on winning any titles but worried a little about lines for obstacles.

The obstacles – There are about 25 or so and this is a listing from my memory, I may have missed one or two, so let me know if I forgot any.  I also don’t know official names for anything so bear with my descriptions.  Many of them repeated through the course too ,making this one of the hardest sprints that Spartan race puts on.

1. Rolling Mud bath trenches – You run through muddy trenches as hoses of water pour down on you.  Refreshing since it was 90 degrees, dangerous because I ended up with some of the worst blisters I ever gotten from a race.

2. Hurdles – You jump over things, easy enough!  Even my midget legs were able to make it.

3. Over-Under-Through: a series of obstacles in which runners must first climb over a wall, then under a wall, then through a tire or square hole placed in a wall. The first series of wall climbing obstacles, and this was one of the lower walls.

4. . Over-Under-Through – Similar to before.  I feel like the walls got bigger but that was probably my imagination.

5. Monkey Bars – These are steel and within a second, my greasy sweat drenched hand slid right off.  I learned a tip after the fact about rubbing your hands in dirty for some traction  To the Burpee line I went with a little less pride.

6. Another wall to climb – Tony helped but I was a pro by that part

7. Rope Climb – Basic rope climb, only if you fail, you fall into a mud pit.  I knew there was no way I could climb up.  I saved myself a mud trip and did my 30 burpees.  I have no shame.  I spent a lot of time practicing my burpees so might as well put my training to use.

8. Spear throw – You throw a spear and hit a target.  One chance only.  Tony got it, I failed and was watched until every one of the 30 burpees were done.  They didn’t have to be pretty, but they had to be done.  Thank you volunteers for keeping me honest because at this point I was getting tired of burpees.

9. 6ft Walls – More series of climbing up and down a wall.  This one is much higher with one step.

10. Dragging a Cinder Block – Regarding of gender everyone drags a cinder block on a rope up and down a hill.  Personally I thought the jacked up dude that weights 200 pounds should be carrying a slightly larger brick than the 100 pound girl but o well.  With a lot of huffing and puffing and a very long wait from Tony, I got it done.  I brushed my shoulders off and then dragged it back down, but luckily gravity came to my aid.

11. 7ft Wall – This was getting scarier.  Tall people you have no idea how hard it is to jump from something two feet taller than you.

12. Dragging sandbag – I don’t know the weights but men and women had separate sandbags so I was grateful for some help.  It was heavy.  I slumped up the hell hill.  You then walk down and for the most part, I kept on carrying but there was one steep step down part that I just dropped down the sandbag.  I picked it up afterwards and carried it down. They said I had to get it up and down the hill, they didn’t indicate how that had to occur.

Spartan Race Sandbag

13. 8 ft Walls – The tallest wall of them all.  This one had two steps to climb – up but on the other side you had to jump down.  I don’t know the height but there was no way to hell I was going to jump.  I started to freak out and climb back down the front saying no way in hell (I value my neck) but a volunteer offered to stand on the other side of the wall to catch me if I fall.  With an offer like that I couldn’t really pansy out anymore.

14. Tire Hop – This was easy, you hop/run through about 100 meters of tires.

15. Pull weight up and down – There was a different weight for men and women.  Sadly that did not help.  I sat down, and tried to put all my weight into pulling this stupid sack down.  I almost pooped myself (true story) before I gave up and did my burpees.  My hands were shaking.

16. Vertical Cargo Climb – This was at some point mid race.  I don’t know how high it was, maybe 30 feet and each rope step was about 5 feet apart.  I was watching some girls climb as I was trying to convince myself to start this obstacle.  In 2010 this ladder rope climb thing was 10 feet at most.  I was terrified because with so many climbers at once, the ropes were very shaky.  This was also in the middle of the race on top of a hill, so my muscles were shaky.  Right as I convinced myself to start, a girl fell on her head all the way from the top.  I started crying and freaking out, Tony was at the top at this point and screamed at me to skip and walk around the rope climb.  At that point, I started shaking and crying and was barely able to get myself to move on forward.  I skipped this obstacle and I did not do any burpees and made a silent pray that the girl will be okay.

17. Tire Drag – Dragging a heavy tire up a hill on a rope.  This looked hard but I sat down and watched others struggle.  I instinctively put my feet against the pole holding the rope and used my leg strength to pull up the tire!  I felt like a smart cookie at that moment.

18. Log Hop – You basically cross 100 meters with each step on a tiny log of various heights.  Not to mention each log step is relatively far apart so aside from balance you need length.  Tony and I are both short and both failed pretty fast.  Burpees Burpees fun fun.

19. Spider Wall/Vertical Rock climbing – You rock climb across a wall and ring the bell.  This was pretty difficult if you’re 5 feet that as each step was very far apart and I had to spread my legs slightly more wider than I was comfortable with.  A girl volunteer (I think?) gave me some support towards the end because I was about to fall to help me ring the bell.

20. Barbed Wire Curl – Self explanatory, but this was probably one of the longest crawls I’ve seen.  It seriously just went on and on.  I kept thinking I was almost done just to realized I was barely halfway.  Not only that, but it was on bumpy ground of rocks, broken glass (umm why?). and mud.  If I ever do another Spartan again I am bringing either elbow/knee pads and wearing more clothes.  As soon as I started crawling my skin started to burn from the rough pebbles and I couldn’t put any pressure anywhere without pain.  And to prove I wasn’t lying, I had some rashes all over my arms and legs afterwards.  Maybe I’m allergic to mud?  I did learn that on the more flatter parts it’s easier to just roll (kinda like a pig in poop) than crawl.  And confession – it was one of the most liberating feelings in the whole race.  I’m disappointed there’s no photos of that.

Spartan Race Barb Wire

21. Slippery Wall – a wall built at an incline (roughly 45 degrees) that is covered in soap or grease. Runners may try to sprint up the wall or use a rope for assistance.  I looked at that and I got scared of how I would come down from the wall once I climbed it since it was a 15 foot or so jump.  I decided I don’t want to roll an ankle today and skipped.  Another confession, I only did 10 or so burpees instead of 30 before moving on. More confessions, those were some ugly 10 burpees.

22. Fire Pit – The classic jumping over fire obstacle.  Although not very difficult, I could feel the flame’s smoke for several minutes afterwards in my eyes.

There’s also a video of me and Tony jumping over it.  The conversation goes like this.

Tony – Want to finish this obstacle and race together?
Liana – Sure!
Tony – Nah, everyone man for himself ::runs of::

Spartan Race Fire 2

23. Gladiator Arena – These dudes try to knock you over just as you’re about to cross the finish line.  There’s two of them and pretty much no way to cross them without getting beat, so just take your hit and run on!

Spartan Race Gladiator I’m not really sure why Tony is giggling but he is.

I think there was one or two more obstacles but I really can’t recall them. I either skipped them or blocked out the memory.  In addition to 25 obstacles the course ran on 4 miles up and down a ski slope.  Very hilly, I saw a few people slide and fall when they ran downhill.  Lots of rocks to climb on the uphill.  These 4 miles were not designed for road runners and that was part of the fun!

Overall, reflecting back on my training I was nowhere near prepared for this race.  Although practicing burpees really did make the penalties less painful. The race really requires a lot less running and a lot more upper body strength than most participants expect.  It also helps to be tall.  Tall and strong.  I guess Spartan warriors are not known to be 100 pound stubs of bones and flab.  ;).  I hope to do another one at some point, maybe event next year.  I will wear capris and maybe elbow pads because even though it was hot, I think the extra skin protection would have really helped.  I saw many smarter runners in elbow/knee pads and weight lifting gloves!.  I will try to lift more or at least something slightly heavier than my Iphone.

The one thing that I think I did a great job on was knowing which obstacles I needed to do and which were better to pass for my own safety.  Yes, its a little disappointing to be doing burpees while others around you barely struggle with the challenges, but it’s a lot worse to be injured.  The great part is that within those painful steep 4 miles, there’s over 20 obstacles, and something for everyone to accomplish and find their inner Spartan Strong.  

The volunteers, the staff and my fellow Spartans put on an amazing event.  If I ever needed help climbing over a wall or rock climbing, there was either a fellow runner or a volunteer there to help me and of course Tony.  This aspect of teamwork was not something I thought I would find at a big scale event like the Spartan Race.  Human nature really did impress me that day as I wouldn’t have been able to reach my potential without some help.

A few side notes, parking ($10) and bag check ($5) is not included with your race registration.  However, with race registration you get these awesome photos and a beer ticket.  Long Trail ale was yummy.

Thank you Reebok, Spartan Race & Fitfluential for this opportunity.  Tony and I had a blast!

Have you ever done the Spartan Race?

What do you think is the toughest obstacle?

Meet the TARC 50 Milers!

Community.. Love… Running… Three words that can pretty much sum up TARC.  What is TARC? Trail Animal Running Club, but more than just a running club, it’s a culture and a way of living.  There is no cost to join and no obligation other than a love of running and respect for the trails and each other.  I’m still fairly new, fairly slow, fairly inexperienced.  However, I have always been treated as well as any ultra veteran winner.

The closest I’ve gotten to an ultra thus far has been my 6 hour race with 28 miles.  However, that will all change on Friday when I toe the line for my first 50 miler.

I’m not going to lie.  Training for me hasn’t been easy.  I’m still learning to balance sleep, running, and friends and family.  I haven’t been the greatest at it but I’m learning.  But enough about personal struggles.  What I really wanted to know is who are my fellow 50 milers, how did they train and what’s their plan? I got the idea after listening to DFL Ultra-running podcast (check it out, it’s like running with friends!) tribute to the TARC 100 that’s the highlight of the race I’m running.  They interviewed 10 individuals who are running either the 50 or 100 miler with similiar questions.

However, that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to know more 50 milers, who they are and how they trained.  So instead I came up with 6 questions and asked my fellow 50 milers to answer in any detail they had time and desire for.  What came out was a spectrum of answers and further shows the diversity of ultrarunners and the reason why I love being part of the TARC community.

The Questions

1. Name/Age/Gender if you wish to share –
2. Is this your first 50 miler? What’s your running history?
3. What distance have your long runs or races been leading up to TARC 50?
4. What was your weekly mileage at the peak of your training?
5. What pace/fuel strategy do you plan to follow?
6. What gear are you planning on using during the 50? (Could be as general or specific as you want to type)

I’ll start with myself:

1. Liana/26/Female
2. First 50 miler, started running marathons over a year ago.  Have done 7 marathons and one 6 hour race.
3. I did a 6 hour race in March for 28 miles. Otherwise I’ve done a few marathons in April & May but most of my training runs have been 20 miles or so. I’ve been doing double long runs usually a 20 miler and a second double digit the next day. A few times I did a marathon and a 20 miler but that was only once or twice.
4. Usually 60s, made it up to 80 or high 70s a few times.
5. Might target 11-12 minute pace for the first 25 miles, and then try to survive the second 25 miles. Going to try to eat something every 5-6 miles at the aid stations.
6. Innov-8 trail shoes, 2xu compression socks, Fenix flash light & a headlamp, camelpak maybe for the second loop (still debating if I need it for the 1st 25 miles).  Bug spray and my handheld bottle if I don’t use the camelpak.

Interview 1

1. Justin Shireman/34/Male
2. First 50 miler/7 marathons…started running again three years ago after a long hiatus.
3. A couple marathons
4. 50-60
5. Whatever gets me to the finish line within 12 hours
6. Headlamp and possibly flashlight.

Interview 2

1. Gary David, 43, Male
2. First 50. First marathon was in 1996. Run about 13 marathons or so, two Ironmans, two 50ks, plus many many shorter distances (half-IM, half marathons).
3. longest was 29 miles. Generally training 13 hours a week including bike and run
4. Between 40-50 run miles. Also was biking.
5. Conversational comfortable pace. Drinking around a 16 oz bottle about every hour (depends on conditions), 200-300 cals an hour
6. headlamp, handheld light, ultimate direction SJ pack, nathan handhelds, Brooks Cascadias, Garmin Forerunner 305, clothes.

Interview 3

1. Linnea Anderson, 27, female
2. This is my third 50-miler. I ran my first at Stone Cat last year and my second at Rocky Raccoon in February. I started running (for more than just extra conditioning for other sports) in 2007 with half marathons, then ran my first full marathon in 2010. I started trail running and training for ultras last spring and have done several 50Ks in addition to the 50-milers.
3. I was injured on and off from November to April, so a lot of my training consisted of just trying to get the mileage back up. I had an excellent base from last summer/fall, so I haven’t found it to be too difficult to get back into it. As preparation, I’ve done two 50Ks (TARC Spring Classic and Pineland Farms) and several 3-5 hour trail runs.
4. My peak mileage was around 50 miles with several strength workouts as well. I’ve tried to keep the mileage very reasonable to limit the chance of re-injuring myself.
5. I’ll take walk breaks, but I don’t follow a strict run-walk plan; I just walk hills or when I feel I need a break. When things get tough and running gets very mentally challenging, I find it helpful to give myself a limit – i.e. “I can walk to that tree” or “When my watch hits :45, I’ll run again.” For fuel, my mainstay is Clip2 from Succeed! mixed with coconut water. I call it my “miracle drink” because of how it brought me back from a rough place at Stone Cat. I’ve also been training with Tailwind and the Succeed! Amino mixes as well. I’ll probably start with Tailwind, then transition to a mixture of Clip2 and Amino with coconut water. For food, I just eat whatever looks good at the aid station – which, at TARC races, is usually almost everything!
6. I’m using my Black Diamond Storm headlamp and one Knuckle Light for the dark hours, which is most of the race. I’ll carry one handheld and some drink packets since the aid stations are so close together, and just refill with coconut water when I go through the start/finish each time. I’ll wear my new favorite shoe, the New Balance Leadville (NB1210).

Interview 4

1. Tracy Gariepy, F, 35
2. This is my first 50! I was registered for the 50 at Stonecat last year, but about a month before the race found myself with a stress fracture of the 2nd metatarsal and in a boot/crutches. No Stonecat for me  I’m an avid half- and full-marathoner, especially Disney races. I annually do the Goofy Challenge at Disney World, which is a half marathon and full marathon all in the same weekend. Last year I did my first two 50k trail races (Pineland and TARC Summer Classic), which would have been perfect training for Stonecat, had I been able to make it.
3. My longest run for this 50 miler is only 20 miles, with a few 18’s. I had a bad run at the TARC spring classic where I intended to do 50k, and dropped after 30k
4. My weekly mileage has been about 50 miles.
5. For any training associated with trail/ultra training, I always just run at a comfortable pace, whatever that may be that day. For road races I work a lot more on speed and pacing. At this TARC 50, I’ll be running with a friend who is generally slower than me. I’m hoping that by running slow with her will make up for the fact that I’m not fully trained for this distance. I don’t have a specific fueling strategy. I eat when I’m hungry, drink when I’m thirsty.
6. I hate carrying gear when I run. It kills me to do it, but I’m going to have to suck it up and wrap a headlamp around my fist (found a cheap one at REI), and maybe also carry a flashlight. I’ll wear a waistpack with two small water bottles, but mostly rely on aid stations for refueling.

Interview 5

1. Thomas Dorr 38 year old male.
2.this is my first 50. I started running again about three years ago leading to my first marathon last year . This year I have done two marathons leading up to this
3. Two spring marathons and several 20 to 25 mile runs
4. 60-70 miles
5.slow and steady, I think the hard part will be slowing my pace from my shorter races

Interview 6

1.) Lauren Farkash /44/ Female
2.) second 50 miler – have also run several 50k, paced husband and friend in several 100 milers, have run 27 marathons, trying to complete one in each state, running since I was a kid
3.) long runs have been up to 3 hours, with a couple of recent marathons
4.) 75 miles per week at peak
5.) no strategy, running with a friend who is training for VT 100
6.) Basic gear: shoes, handheld hydration, headlight, spi belt for gels and s caps

Interview 7

1. Beth Campbell/44/female
2. This is my second 50 miler. My firsts was in January at the Avalon 50 Miler on Catalina Island in CA. Afterwards i was hooked! I’ve been running as a sport since high school xcountry and have been running marathons since taking on a bet from my brother in 2000.
3. For training I’ve been running more for time on my feet rather than distance. it usually works out. i’ve also been trying to do back to back long run days; usually Saturday and Sunday. My Longest was an awesomely difficult 5 1/2 hour nighttime trail run (7pm -12:30 am) with some of my crazy running peeps. We wanted to try to acclimate to starting at 7pm like we will be doing for the race. Not an easy transition for this 4:30 am runner.
5. My weekly mileage never got over 50 miles a week. I work full time and have 9 year old twin boys … 50 is all I can manage without losing my mind or dropping from exhaustion.
6. Depending on the temps I was planning on carrying a camelback so that I can be self reliant. Headlamp is the only other must. Trying to travel as light as possible!

Interview 8

1- Andrew B / 30 / Male
2- This will be my second 50 mile race start. I started the Wapack 50 in 2012 but only did the first 43 miles. Longest run for me ever was 60 miles at the 2012 TARC Ghost Train. I ran in high school XC but quit after graduation. Took up running again about 2 years ago. Ran about 1200 miles last year.
3- Longest was the TARC 50k in late April … closer to 32 miles. Other than that I did a few 10 mile runs in May and another 9 last weekend when it was like 90 deg out. We’ll see if my laid back low-mile approach was a good or bad idea next week!
4- Best week was about 40 miles. Monthly: April 130 / May 150
5-Pace is keep it slow! I always go out too fast, I have recently been practicing what a 12 min pace feels like – I will start off at this pace. Since my GPS will not last for the race, I’ll use a regular watch and a pace card with each station at my calculated time for a 12 min pace. Fuel – eat at every station and pack some cliff bars to eat in between stations.
6- Pack is a runner’s belt w/ 20 oz water bottle and storage for several bars. I will just wear my headlamp. Only other thing I need are shoes: new balance mt101s. These shoes are literally falling apart but I can’t find anything new to replace them with the same profile so I am praying they can last one more week.

Interview 9

1. Anthony Tieuli / 40 / Male
2. No, this will be my 2nd 50 Miler. Ran the StoneCat 50 last year. I’ve been running regularly since 2010 when I was running mostly to train for sprint triathlons. Picked up the distance bug late in 2010 and ran my first Boston in 2011. Ran my first ultra (Pineland 50k) in 2012 and have run a bunch of marathons, 3 or 4 more 50k’s, and a 50 Miler in the last year or so.
3. Mostly 50k races and marathons as long training runs. the last few weeks have been more shorter (10-15 mile) back to back days.
4. 50-60 miles.
5. I don’t have a pace strategy, I just go by perceived effort. I don’t let my heart rate or breathing get out of control. For fuel, mostly gels and water and maybe some perpetuem. I tend to not like the junk food at aid stations, but I do like to eat fruit. Of course all bets are off after mile 35. I’ll eat whatever my body tells me to.
6. Inov8 Trailroc 255’s, Injini 2.0 Socks, Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp, Ultimate Direction handheld water bottle and/or Nathan Vaporwrap hydration pack, Hammer Gels and Hammer Perpetuem.
Check out Anthony’s blog InsideMyTrailHead for some awesome race recaps!

Interview 10

1. Dave Will 42 m
2. Yes. 42 marathons, one sub-3, an ironman, and a few 12 hr adventure runs. Been running for 25 yrs.
3. Mid-twenties on trails.
4. 70’s
5. 11-12 min pace steady, regular fuel.
6. Camelback, GU brew, PB&J, chex mix, turkey jerky, endurolytes, headlamp, nipple band aids!

Interview 11

Dari Whitehouse 50 Female

First 50M – to celebrate turning 50 on 5/27/13. I’ve been running since 2008.

1 – 50K, 5 marathons, 3 1/2 marathons, blah blah blah

My long runs in prep for TARC included the Boston Marathon in April (crossing 57 seconds before the first blast), and a nighttime 40 miler on Martha’s Vineyard in May, along with misc. 20 milers.

My mileage was lower than I would have liked due to my experience at Boston. On average, about 50 miles per week, I guess. I’ve had a pretty hard time reclaiming my passion for running since 4/15. My son, his gf & my best friend were at the finish line and it’s been a tough period for us all.

Gu every 4 miles or so, salt caps, gatorade & water, pretzels, PB&J sandwiches, pieces of protein bars & honey stinger waffles. I’m hoping for a 12min pace but really I have so little trail experience, I’d be thrilled just to finish without a DFL or DNF due to time cut off.

I’ll use a hydration pack. I dehydrate pretty easily due to past chemo treatments. Knuckle lights & a headlamp (maybe), trail shoes plus two back ups due to mud & anticipated rain this week.

Dari is also a 4x cancer survivor and now a Boston survivor.  NPR did a small piece about her and her son.  “Just some insights into who I am and why I’ve looked forward to this run so much. I’m hoping for a cathartic and dare I say, freeing run in the woods with amazing friends on Friday. As a 4x cancer survivor and now a Boston survivor, I’m grateful everyday I get another chance to get it right.”  Check it out, it’s fairly short (only 9 minutes long) PRX interview.  

Interview 12

1. Emer O’Donoghue 50 F.
2.Yes. Running since 1995. This is my first 50 miler. I ran a 50k last year to celebrate my 50th birthday. Pinelands. I have run 6 marathons. I am a mountain runner and have done the series since 2001. Missed 2007 and 2012. Back again this year.
3.20 mile is my longest run. I have done the first four mountains of the USAFT-NE Mountain series. Sleepy Hollow, Wachusetts, Bretton Woods Fell race and Ascutney last Sunday.
4.53 miles.
5. Go out easy and hold on!
6.Shirt and shorts, something I usually run it.


Someone also posted this chart of the runners.  Trail running doesn’t discriminate!

If you want to track any of us because you are really curious to see where we are at 3AM on Friday night when you are warm in your bed look here.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed that and if you’re planning on running the TARC 50 or 100 Miler, share your answers!

Weekend or maybe Weeks through my phone

I want to post about the horrific and wonderful experience that was the Spartan Race but I’m anxiously awaiting the photos to become available since I took none.  I have a great post coming up tomorrow regarding 50 miler and some interviews I did with my new TARC friends.  Instead here’s some photos from the weekend or week, or maybe month ;).

A walk through Boston Public gardens on beautiful days.

Oysters and Shrimp with some adult beverages at the ICA’s first Friday event.  Arts + liquor = good times.

Thai food in my old local spot in Brookline – Dok Bua

We took Jack to get his annual shots.  He was not thrilled.

However, he was the best behaved animal at the vet.

So we let him lay in the back seat without the cat carrier.

And if you’re wondering what crazy things cool kids like Tony & I do on a Saturday night?

We food shop.  Not shown are Tony’s frozen food and bags upon bags of chips he eats a week.

Dragon boat racing on the Charles

Sushi Take Out

Sushi from the new Japanese grocery store that opened up in Medford!


How was your weekend?

Celebrating National Running Day & Marathon Coupon Codes

What’s my favorite holiday?  I would like to say 4th for July since I don’t have to work, it’s usually warm and most of the time I get a 4 day weekend!  Plus there are fireworks and lots of food.  No my favorite day comes a month earlier on National Running Day!

How to celebrate National Running Day?

1. Go Running! Go in the morning, go during lunch or after work! Or at all three times if you’re like me.  Go for a mile or 5 or 10!

2. Sign up for a Race This is the one day a year where the two largest marathon/half marathon companies offer the biggest discount on race fees.

This US Road Sports flier summarizes their sales.  I’ve only done the SLC marathon and you can read my recap.  It was a well put together course and a medium size race.  I’m thinking of signing up for Georgia for 2014.

US Running Discount

Competitor group which does the Rock n Roll races has it’s own discount as well.  $20 off any race.  They have a full summary up on their site.  I’m heavily leaning towards New Orleans in February since I’ve been wanting to visit for a while.  Be warned though, Rock n Roll races are huge events.  Although the full marathon may only have 4,000 runners the half marathon may have over 30,000.  You will feel slightly like a flock of sheep for the first 13 miles.  Despite the size, the races I’ve run such as the RnR USA DC marathon, one of my favorites, are very well-organized.

Or better yet sign up for a small local trail race.  The TARC fall classic races are usually about $25 with fees or $35 for the Bear Brook Trail Marathon.  

3. Treat Yourself Some Running Gear – Been eyeing a pair of compression socks, or arm sleeves or a running skirt.  Check the site, they might be running a sale or two today to celebrate running.

How are you celebrating National Running Day?

Know of any good running sales or codes today?