Calico Racing’s 2013 Running from an Angel 50 Miler, Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K Race

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I ran my first 10K race!  Since my last running update when I ran Calico Racing’s Recycled 5K, I’ve been increasing my running distances to get ready for the half marathon in March.  On December 8, 2012 I ran my longest distance, 10 miles, in 1:59:27.  Having broken the double digit barrier I decided to scale back and run 5Ks for my two weekday runs and 10Ks for my long run on the weekend until the Running from an Angel 10K on January 12th.  The weather was gorgeous on my last weekday run before the race, 52 degrees instead of the 32 degree temperatures I’d been running in – I was excited for a repeat of the weather on Saturday but alas, it was a lot colder in town by then and especially by beautiful Lake Mead (pictured above).

The race start was a little later than I’m used to: 8:50 a.m. (I usually get up at around 5 a.m. to gear up for a run before the kids wake up).  I broke my own rule of not doing anything new on race day and ate a little breakfast at 7.  Sure enough, I wasn’t feeling great on the drive down to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area but by the race’s start I felt fine.  The race takes place in the fee-based part of the park (usually we’ve parked by the trail for the Six Tunnels hike and didn’t make it to the fee area) so we paid our $10 (my husband remembered cash, I would have forgotten) and drove to the parking area.  We debated walking from the free parking but I’m glad we didn’t try.  After packet pickup we were able to warm back up in the Subie, and pin our bib numbers on without fumbling with our gloves on.

We’d registered for the race way back in August 2012 so I’d requested a Medium shirt and my husband had requested a Large – both were too big for us!  I was able to swap for a Small but he didn’t mind hanging on to his Large though I have to mention he’s now lost almost 70 pounds in the last 8 months.  I am so amazed and proud of all of his hard work.  We’ve both been using MyFitnessPal.com and have had a lot of success with tracking our exercise and calories.  I reached my “30 before 30 goal” right before the new year so I’m down 30 pounds myself – it is so important to us that we’re healthy so we can be there for our kids.  I think they’re a big part of why we decided to get healthy.  I digress, but I know many people start running for the weight loss benefit but even with losing the weight I think what really makes me feel good about myself is putting my shoes on and running distances I never thought possible (for me).  I never even ran in high school P.E., I was always in the straggler group around the track still walking.

Well, not anymore!  One of the coolest things was that I wasn’t nervous before the race as everyone lined up.  I had worked a long day the day before so I didn’t have the energy to toss and turn that night and I ran into several friends that have been my running cheerleaders.  Jodymarie was doing the half marathon (it had been her first half marathon last year so she was running it again!) while my friends Angie (check out her awesome first half marathon recap here) and Kristi (who most recently ran the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon here in Vegas for the second year in a row) were doing the 10K.  It was a surprise to run into all of them, I even saw a few familiar faces from law school on the course as I ran, which all went to making me feel at home.  I have to also mention my friend Kacey, who ran the 2012 Running from an Angel race as her very first half marathon at 5 months postpartum – her recap is part of why I thought I could try running myself.

I was so excited to be chatting with my friends that I didn’t notice my husband line up near the starting mat.  Our plan was to use the delay start on our Run Keeper app so we could get our phones into our tune belts (amazon affiliate link) and gloves back on.  I started my app right before I crossed the mat so my tracker didn’t kick in until a minute later.  In a way, it was good because I would see a mile marker and then get the confirmation about a tenth of a mile later that I’d done that distance (the reverse is usually more discouraging).  My initial pace was fast, even uphill, so my first mile came in at about a 9:20 minute/mile pace.  Too fast, but race starts will do that to you.  By mile 2 my split was almost 11 minutes, my mile 3 and 4 it was almost 12 minutes per mile.  I was trying to attack the hills, not get injured, and have some energy left at the turnaround point.  With a 5K you know as soon as you start that you can push yourself and still finish but with a 10K I think there’s more planning involved, especially on a course that isn’t flat.  I saw my husband already heading back when I was about 26 minutes in and not near the turnaround point.  I had lost sight of him early on because of the hills.  The crazy thing is that I then did something I’ve never managed, even in training: getting faster at the end of a run (“negative splits”).  Mile 5 was at an 11:15 pace, Mile 6 at 10:59, and the .2 bit at the end was a downhill 8:58 minute pace.  I think that last bit had to do with seeing my husband at the finish line waving me on.  I love running races with him but also hope someday I can return the favor and cheer for him at a finish line.

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Official chip time: 1:08:00.8 for a pace of 10:58 minutes per mile.  Not only a record for me since it was my first 10K race, it beat my best training run by almost half a second and was at a faster pace than my 5K race in October.  I can’t believe it!  I knew my GPS tracker was off because of my glitches at the start so the official time was a real surprise to me.  So encouraging to do that well on race day and on a trickier terrain – you can see the elevation in green on the image above.  I also included a shot of the course so you can get an idea of the beautiful views we had with the lake right there.  I got the exciting news that my husband finished 12th overall which is fantastic – he really rocked the course and we’re both excited for the half marathon we’re doing the day before our 6th wedding anniversary in March!

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Here’s a picture of me (on the left) with Angie (middle) and Kristi (right) wearing our medals.  I got cheers from both of them when we would pass one another on the course!

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This is a shot of the finish line from where they had refreshments laid out.  Someone was making fresh pancakes for people which I thought was so indicative of the kind of outfit Calico Racing is – very personable!  I made a cup of tea (best idea ever for after a cold race, though by the end of the race I’d shed my gloves and panda hat) and grabbed a banana and applesauce for the car in case I needed them but I never like to eat after running so I ended up giving those to the kids.  E and R were most excited about the medals but the race banana comes in a close second (we even had bananas at home already!).

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The wing theme was pretty cool – I saw people wearing wings on the course and our race tees (long sleeve tech tees, very nice) have white wings printed on the blue shirt.  I will wear my shirt proudly.

I still have never experienced a “runner’s high” but I was left feeling like a real part of this community.  I spent my childhood moving from place to place.  I moved to Las Vegas in the summer of 2000 but going to an event and getting to connect with friends we’ve made here and to not feel like an outsider makes me feel like I really love this place.  I think the change happened a little after our brief foray to Winnemucca, Nevada for almost a year.  We never thought we would move back, but when we did we knew we had to make an effort to make this our home.

“Bloom where you’re planted,” as a friend once told me.  I think in the last three years especially we’ve done just that.  I can still voice things I’d like to see improved here, like education or access to justice, but Nevada is our home and it really feels like I’m home.  I know it is already a little after the new year but if you are feeling unstuck or out of place where you are, please consider taking up a hobby or connecting with people in your community.  Resolve to reach out in real life (the internet is a great facilitator but I quit Facebook a few months ago and am glad I am focusing more on making time to meet people for lunch or playdates instead of just sending greetings out into the ether) and the results may surprise you.

2012 was a rough year.  We had many scares and struggles but reaching out for happiness is never a mistake.  Every day is another chance to start something and before you know it you’ll be looking back and seeing that you made a positive change in your life.

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Favorite songs during the race:

Imagine Dragons – On Top of the World (amazon affiliate link)

Tidal Wave – Sub Focus (amazon affiliate link)

Taylor Swift – Red (amazon affiliate link)

Ed Sheeran – The A Team (amazon affiliate link)

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Also, I made a page to gather my running posts: Couch to 5K and Beyond

Local Advocacy Opportunity: Clark County School District Wellness Regulation 5157 (Proposed Changes)

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I wanted to share this even though it is aimed more to folks here in Clark County, Nevada than the general internet.  An e-mail from FAPE (our local Food Allergy Parent Education Group, click here for upcoming events on their website) alerted that some promising changes have been proposed (spearheaded by Food Services) to rules in the district that involve treats in classrooms and food rewards.  The proposed changes might not pass, however.  Here’s a run-down of some of the changes the district is looking at making (I’m most excited about the fifth one on my list):

  1. Adding a requirement that there be no trans fats in food and beverage choices offered to students.
  2. Specifying that foods offered by student stores, sports teams, the PTA, kiosks, and vending machines must be approved if they are offered an hour before school starts through half hour after the end of the school day.  The approved list is provided by the district’s Registered Dietician.  Also, outside vendors can’t sell things during the school day – student run events selling food items essentially would have to be run by students and any vending contracts would have to be approved by the district’s legal counsel.
  3. Furthermore specifying that: “All food sold or given away must be commercially prepared.  NO homemade food may be sold or given away to students from one-half hour before school starts until one-half hour after the end of the regular school day.”
  4. A provision exempting the following activities from the nutrition guidelines but not from the “no homemade food” requirement: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day activities as well as school wide recognition parties (limited to no more than four occurrences per school year).
  5. A mandate that: “Teachers should not use foods or beverages, especially those that do not meet specified nutrition standards, as rewards for academic performance or good behavior.”
  6. Though “FAAN” is now “FARE,” an explanation in the text of the Wellness Regulation that states: “The Food and Anaphylaxis Network supports the restrictions on homemade food due to the great threat of anaphylaxis when exposed to allergens.  The School Nurses have worked to promote this policy within our Clark County School District.”
  7. Fines will result from violation of the State of Nevada Wellness Policy and USDA Wellness Regulation (through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010) and will be the liability of the violating school.

I uploaded a highlighted version of the provisions provided by FAPE in case you’re like me and prefer to read rules in context but the list above is promising.  I’d love to see provisions moving classrooms away from food incentives not just for children with food allergies but for the health of all children.

A friend of mine has been wrangling with some backlash (at skittlegate.blogspot.com, you can also read about it here) from advocating against food rewards in classrooms (in an area in Virginia where the rules already provide that the incentives are discouraged) in case you want to get a preview of the arguments people are likely to make here in Clark County against such a provision.  If you’ll recall, Virginia is at the forefront of the stock epinephrine movement so if people are resisting changes over there I think it would be prudent for those of us in Southern Nevada to front load support of these wellness provisions.

Remember that the homemade food points cover food sold or given away at school but kids would still be able to bring their own food from home which I totally support.  (The school my daughter goes to right now for preschool doesn’t allow outside food even as snacks and that means she can’t go to class more than a few hours before I bring her home to eat so I wouldn’t be advocating anything like that for the district.)  This is really about giving clear guidance to schools.

So, here’s the call to action: contact the district deputy superintendent and associate superintendent to voice support for the changes if you would like to see them adopted in the Clark County School District.  The District has been really working hard to address food allergy concerns but the community has to support them.  I know we’re all busy but how about a post card (or two)?

Pat Skorkowsky
Deputy Superintendent
5100 W. Sahara Ave., 4th floor
Las Vegas, Nevada   89146
(799-5475)

Jeremy Hauser
Associate Superintendent
2298 Vegas Valley Dr.
Las Vegas, Nevada  89169
(799-1222)

If you do send a note over or make a call, please share what you did in the comments.  Thank you!

Food Find: Enjoy Life Chewy Bars

 

 

Note: On June 25, 2013 Enjoy Life Foods posted this update about the formulation and ingredients of their Chewy Bars.  This review is regarding an older version of the product.  As always, please review ingredients and processes for products that might be safe for your specific needs.  The reformulated bars, for example, now include honey as an ingredient and are no longer strictly vegan.  Our family does consume honey but yours might not.  If I do try the new version of the bars I’ll try to post an update.

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The lovely folks at Enjoy Life Foods sent me one of each variety of their Chewy Bars to review for the blog.  The stack looks impressive but we already buy them by the case  so you can guess that we love them before I get too far into this post.  The four varieties are Sunbutter Crunch, Cocoa Loco, Caramel Apple, and Very Berry.  I actually use the Cocoa Loco bars as part of my recovery from long runs, they aren’t energy bars or anything (I wish Enjoy Life would make an energy bar, actually) but often I just need to eat something fast and I’m not a breakfast person so they work for me.  They also remind me of brownies which is always a good thing.  Those of us that eat gluten and allergen free on a regular basis seem to prefer the chocolate variants of “safe” foods because the chocolate seems to cover up a bit of the rice flour aftertaste that you get otherwise.  That isn’t to say that we don’t enjoy all the flavors pictured below, but when I order them in bulk I choose the Sunbutter Crunch and Cocoa Loco bars over the Caramel Apple or Very Berry varieties.  All are top 8 free, though since the Sunbutter Crunch contains honey it is the only one not officially labeled “vegan” on the box.

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I will warn you that these are pretty pricey, but having convenient throw-in-the-diaper-bag snacks is something I used to take for granted before our food allergy diagnosis so you are paying for convenience on the one hand but on the other you’re also paying for ingredients that you know are costly to begin with.  What I mean to say is that I’m finding that the time, effort, and ingredient cost of making our own treats (and I’ve yet to be able to adapt my own chewy bar recipe, actually) is outweighed by the convenience of having some of these on hand for the kids.  What I need to do is stop eating them and then they’ll last a little longer!  I’m glad to know from a fellow food allergy parent on twitter, however, that I’m not the only parent eating these along with their kids:

I would never have purchased these without having tried a sample at our first FAAN walk, however, because of some scathing Amazon reviews.  There are positive ones in the mix, but I wanted to address some of the negative ones because when you’re going to indulge in a treat and pay about a dollar per one ounce bar, you want it to be worth it.  (Here’s an Amazon affiliate link to their Enjoy Life Chewy Bar listings, the Subscribe and Save deal is pretty good by the way but do check Vitacost – in fact as of writing this post they’re running a “BOGO” sale on my son’s favorite flavor: Sunbutter Crunch bars.)

Portion size – a number of reviews complain that the bars are too small and too small for the money.  I’ve weighed bars that appear to be slightly different in size and they’re always an ounce as indicated on the package though I’ve run twice (in the whole year we’ve been buying these) across bars that must have been cut too short by the machine and then include a little end piece of another bar (so still an ounce, just in two pieces).  Now that I’ve been counting calories for a while I think our idea of portion sizes has changed.  A “king sized” candy bar looks more like the norm but these really are more of a treat and especially with my 2 and 4-year-old eating them I wouldn’t want the portions to be too big though of course I’d love to spend less on buying them.

Taste – I’ve mentioned already that I really enjoy the flavor of the Cocoa Loco bars and the Sunbutter Crunch bars.  While I love the hint of caramel in the Caramel Apple bars, they’re a little too sweet for me and the Very Berry bars are just the last ones I pick out of the pantry but they’re also good, just not my favorite.  If you are just trying these out for the first time, go with the chocolate and see how you fare.  Allergy friendly foods take some getting used to but my husband likes the flavor and he can eat regular granola bars at work and when he’s biking a trail so that is telling.  Definitely don’t buy a case to start if you’re hesitant at all, my mother in law has been finding the old box design for $2 a box at clearance stores so that is worth a try if you don’t want to wait for a sale at Whole Foods or the like.  I genuinely like these but it is really a matter of personal taste.

If you have questions I’m happy to answer them.  I am a big fan of the company and I appreciate getting these four boxes for free but purchase these regularly anyway so I think I can give a fair opinion.

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Also: Happy 2013!  I have some more park write-ups as well as cookbook reviews, meal planning ideas, and some running updates in the works if I can find the time to share them.  I’m in the middle of a couple big projects but hope to check in at least once a month, if not more often.  It is hard to know who is out there reading so if you’ve got requests for topics please let me know in the comments.  May this year bring good things to you and yours!