Fan Girl Moment: Check out these earphones!

Over the weekend, I lucked out and found Yurbuds earphones on sale for nearly 75% off retail price. I had tried on these earphones, which tout being made for women and using FlexLock technology that makes their falling out during exercise nearly impossible, at a race expo last year. I’d loved how they felt, but the price tag was too steep for me. (I’m hard on headphones, and I can’t see paying more than about $20 for them.)

I couldn’t help but jump on the chance to buy these. I can’t pass up a good sale anyway. And you know what? They live up to the hype.

I wore the headphones on a run Saturday, and not once did I have to adjust them in my ears, catch them as I ran or force them deeper into my ear canal to hear the range of my music. I ran, then climbed poles and ladders, did box jumps on stone benches and such at a local playground to maintain my sense of balance. I ran suicides on the basketball course, then I ran back home. Not once did the headphones fall out or stop producing great sound.

And get this — I put in my fastest mile-split time in months. I’m not saying these headphones make me faster. But I can’t help but notice that focusing on my run without the distraction of adjusting my equipment all the time made a measurable difference in my performance.

I’m not one to recommend brand-name products all that often. But in this case, I’m offering an unsolicited, fan-girl, “go buy these things” endorsement for Yurbuds headphones. I am a convert, and I suggest you try them, too.


But it’s a DRY cold!

When I first moved to Bakersfield, the temperatures were near 100 for the first few weeks. And I was never all that hot, really. Why? Because the adage is true — the heat out here is a dry heat. A far cry from the August in DC 90-degree temperatures and air so humid I could drink it that I’d left behind, the weather here was comfortable, even at high temperatures.

Here’s the kicker. That also means the cold is a dry cold. There is no moisture to help hold in heat, no need to monitor the dewpoint. So, for example, when I went for a run yesterday at dusk (4:45 p.m. — goodness), my long shorts and sleeveless t-shirt quickly went from being perfectly comfortable to way too little clothing to help me regulate my body temperature. I had to turn for home after just 2 miles because the temperature plummeted with the setting sun.

Now, my East coast sensibilities argue that 70 to 55 is hardly “plummeting” — dropping, yes. I know I’m supposed to dress for 20 degrees warmer than the real temperature when I run, because my body will heat up that much, so dressing for 75-degree weather seemed reasonable. All that logic and reason amounted to last night, though, was an icicle nose and what I can only guess was very mild hypothermia — I had to stand in a warm/hot shower for 20 minutes just to stop shivering.

I learned yesterday that I must adapt to what passes for winter here, because it really is chilly. I will have to try wearing layers or maybe changing what time of day I run. I even lit a fire in my fireplace tonight (it’s 50 degrees, and my East coast sensibilities are ok with that).

Amazingly, this time last year I was spending a fair amount of time in western Massachusetts, where the average daytime temperatures hit 30 on lucky days. I was able to walk around comfortably there in jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, a knit scarf and gloves.

Must’ve been a wet cold?

Come back with your shield. Or on it.

This weekend, I was a spectator at a race for the first time. And it was no ordinary race — it was a Spartan Race, and a Beast at that.

If you’ve never heard of a Spartan Race, first I have to ask how that’s possible. But basically, a Spartan Race is a dirty, muddy, wet, nasty obstacle course. Runners get no course map ahead of time, no heads up about the types of obstacles they’ll face. Heck, they don’t even know how long their particular course is going to be — they just know whether they signed up for 3+ miles (a Spartan Sprint), 8+ miles (a Super Spartan) or 13+ miles (a Spartan Beast). They added an Ultra Beast this year, which is a marathon with obstacles and is so tough you have to apply to enter. It all started with the Spartan Death Race, which was/is just… wow.

Runners can participate on their own or in teams. People in teams don’t have to stick together the entire race. But from what I can see, the attitude is simple: No dude or chick left behind.

As a spectator, I was happy to carry a change of clothes around, follow my Spartan For a Day around taking pictures and put in about 10 miles of walking on my own. The Sacramento Spartan Race group made a spectators course, which was awesome even though it was poorly marked and left us non-Spartans For a Day wandering around lost a lot. (Thus the 10 miles of walking.) We didn’t get muddy, but we got dusty and sunburned. And we made quick friends, wandering together on this farm in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, the idea of being a Spartan for a Day is a heady one. When I saw my Spartan climb over the wall to the starting line (yep, you have to climb a wall to be able to START this race), I couldn’t help but think of the famous quotes from 300, and in that moment I think I even said, “Spartan, come back with your shield. Or on it.” The emcee at the starting line quoted (and misquoted) 300 as well, and there were plenty of runners in costume — I saw Leonidas and Gorgo leave the starting gate with my Spartan.

I had a lot of time to think during the 5 hours from that starting line until my Spartan crossed the finish. First, I thought about the oddity of this event. This is a race based on a movie that was based on a comic book that was based on a movie that was based on a historical event. (Go ahead, think that one through.)

Then, I thought about what was making these people put themselves through this. And as I watched them trudge through mud, climb ropes and hills and all sorts of things, I realized — I wanted to join them.

Maybe it was the men and women in far worse shape than me, trudging their way under barbed wire through mud and over slippery walls. Maybe it was knowing I am capable now of the running part of the beast, which means I could keep up my running and train for something new. Maybe it was the primal nature of the thing — these people were risking real barbed wire, real mud, real water that was, in some cases, 6 feet deep and full of mud, even real fire.

Whatever it was, I knew I wanted it. Well, I wanted SOME of it. I didn’t want the beast, not yet. But I realized that I want to train for a sprint. I want to find out what it’s like to be a Spartan For a Day, not just a Spartan Spectator.

You can do anything for 3 minutes, and other stories I tell myself

I’ve finally gotten back into a bit of a running routine. I’m following Jeff Galloway’s training schedule for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in January 2014, but thanks to the upheaval I’ve been through these last few months I’m a little behind on training. I also modify Galloway’s training method to get through my long runs on Sundays, not Saturdays. I’m one of those people who needs to train her body what to expect. In this case, thinking “oh, it’s just another long run” on race day helps.

And there’s story #1 I tell myself.

Mantras get me through my runs

I’m a huge fan of mantras when I run, even though I don’t think “hey, it’s mantra time” or anything. I’m pretty sure someone who happens by on my running path would think I’m mentally challenged if not for the running, the gear and the sweat. (Heck, maybe even with the running, gear and sweat.) Because I talk to myself. A lot.

My favorite mantra is “You can do anything for 3 minutes.” When I first started running, it was 2 minutes, so my self-confidence is growing. I tell myself “you can do anything for 3 minutes” when I am loathing a part of my run, or I’m doing interval training and think I can’t lift my feet one more time. I’ve used it while hiking, shoveling snow, even cleaning dog poo from the floor. And I believe that story — I calm down and often forget to check the watch to see whether the 3 minutes have passed.

I noticed today that this mantra settles more than my mind. I haven’t been doing very well on nutrition, particularly following a gluten-free diet. So, telling my intestines they had to endure running for just three minutes before a break seemed to help them feel better, too.

Another one I repeat often is “get there.” Now “there” could mean a ton of things. The end of the street, the end of an interval, even the next tree or light post if I’m having an especially rough day. Often “give it to me” and “it’s mine” accompany this one, which in combination make me sound like a toddler in the throes of a tantrum. But they work.

And maybe that’s the key to mantras. They can be primal and simplistic, or supportive and rational. They just have to work.

Got a mantra that works for you? I’d love to hear it!


Hitting the pavement

Since dad’s passing, I haven’t run much. I’ve forced myself to take my dance-fitness classes twice a week, so I have done something. I just haven’t been training for the two half-marathons I’m signed up to run in a few months. (I’m doing the Disney Coast to Coast challenge — more on that another day.)

So, this weekend, I decided to get my behind outside in this unusually mild DC weather and run. I went out yesterday for a simple interval run/walk to get my groove back.

Funny thing about grieving. After you’ve felt numb for weeks, your body craves feeling — any feeling. And that craving led me to abandon my intervals and just RUN. Hard.

That was a terrible idea.

After a fast-for-me sub-9:00 pace for the first mile, I felt truly ill. I thought I was going to vomit and ruin my favorite running shorts, all at once. I turned for home and stopped by a creek to breathe the cleaner air and spit. A lot. I made it home intact and stain free, although I don’t know how I managed to run the last .5 mile or so. I guess being numb has advantages.

Today, I went out again for a simple 2-mile run. After the first mile, my body started to alert me to its discomfort again, but this time I didn’t push it. I didn’t walk either — I just eased back to a slower, 11:00 pace and breathed through it. 

I wish I could say I had some epiphany about the relationship between the pain in my soul and the pain in my body, but I didn’t. I’m settling for feeling something (other than nausea) for now.