Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Comrades Marathon Race Recap

The Comrades Marathon in South Africa is a bucket list race for anyone who does ultra marathons.  It’s one of the most iconic ultra marathons in the world.  It has been in existence for over 90 years and was started by a man who wanted to remember his comrades who perished in the war.  It is not only the oldest running ultra marathon in the world but it’s the largest with close to 20,000 runners.  Another unique thing about this race is the very challenging cutoff time of 12 hours to run 54.5 miles. 

Running the Comrades was going to be the toughest challenge of my life.  Training for this event was special to me not only because of the iconic race, I was also raising money for the dogs at the Nevada SPCA.  I called my cause Run For Fido and I was hoping to raise $3,000 for the Nevada SPCA.  I do a lot of my training for my events with the dogs at the Nevada SPCA and with my two dogs. 
We had a bit of a hiccup traveling to Johannesburg when our flight to Atlanta was delayed and we missed the direct flight to Johannesburg.  There wasn’t another flight for several days so we had to get rerouted through Amsterdam, Paris, to Johannesburg.  It was over 30 hours of traveling but at least we got to spend a few hours seeing the sights in Amsterdam.   We made it to Johannesburg and we spend a night there before traveling to Durban where the race would start.  Comrades is unique in that one year they run uphill from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and then the next year they run downhill from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.  We had a few days to relax in Durban before the race.   Several weeks leading up to the race I was having a lot of pain in my hip.  I had tried dry needling, massage, stretching and all did a very minimal amount of running.  I didn’t get much permanent relief so I was very concerned if I would be able to finish this race.  

The race started at 5:30am and the excitement at the race start was unbelievable.  I had to finish before the cutoff time and I had never had to worry about making a cutoff in my life.  In fact it’s not something I have never even looked at when entering or competing in a race.  At this race I had all the cutoff times written down and in my pocket.  It is very unsettling being so unsure of your ability to finish when competing in a race.  With my hip problem I had checked into what I would do if I had to bail on the race.  I mean I am in South Africa and I wasn’t too sure how I would get to the finish safe and sound if I couldn’t finish the race.

As we started the run I didn’t feel pain in my hip. Maybe it was all the excitement or the massage or the rest but it felt ok as we started to run.  There were so many people we were forced to start at a very slow pace, which was a good thing. I ran with my boyfriend for the first half of the race.  The weather was a little humid but very comfortable.  I knew going into this race we were going to have some really big hills but I had no idea just how big and how long until I got to each one.  The hills were like nothing I had ever seen let alone run before in my life.  The first major hill I was trying to run up until I realized I could actually go faster with a power walk.  In this race the people who have completed more than 10 Comrades have green numbered race bib.  Everyone has the number of Comrades races they have done on their race bib.  I realized all these runners who have ran more than 10 Comrades with green bibs were walking these monster hills.  I figured I should follow their lead, I mean lets face it they know what they’re doing if they ran this race more than 10 times!  Power walking the hills was going to be my strategy throughout the rest of the race. 

I was very lucky my hip didn’t give me any problems during this race but about the halfway point my knee started hurting pretty bad.  The awesome thing at this race is they have stations you can stop at for someone to rub your legs with arnica massage oil.  I figured my knee was hurting from my IT band or my calf so each time I saw a tent I had them rub my upper and lower leg quickly.  This helped tremendously each time and enabled me to continue to the next station.  Toward the end it was survival and just getting to the finish before the cutoff.  I knew it was going to be close and was well aware of the pace I needed to keep to get there in time.  On my race bib it had a zero since this was my first time racing.  People running by me must have seen me struggling and new I was going to be close to the cutoff.  As people passed me many of them encouraged me to get to the finish and that I could do it!  As I crossed the finish I broke down and cried my boyfriend was there waiting and the first thing I said to him was, “that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.  Competing in Ironman is hard but this was a whole different kind of hard!  The medal for this race is the smallest medal I have in my collection of medals but it certainly is the most memorable.  They have been giving out the same medal for the duration of this event.  Going into the race without confidence and then barely making the cutoff was emotional and a very rewarding experience.  The best part of the experience is all the money I raised for the dogs at the Nevada SPCA thanks to my amazing friends and family!  The dogs will have wonderful new courtyard with splash pads, agility equipment, and treadmills for exercise! The best news of all was that my favorite running buddy Sandra from the Nevada SPCA was adopted a few days before the run!  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Revel Race Report and Run For Fido

On the bus before the race
I found out Sunday a week before the Revel Marathon that we could sign up for the race since it had sold out.   We were on the wait list for the Revel Full Marathon in Las Vegas and I honestly had forgotten about putting my name on the list.  My boyfriend and I are doing the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa in June and we had to submit a qualifying marathon time before May 2nd.  When we found out Revel was sold out we signed up for a small marathon in Long Beach.  We really didn’t want to go out of town to race but we didn’t have any other options.  Sunday before the Revel race we got an email that we could sign up so rather than go to Long Beach we decided to sign up for the local race and stay in town.  Revel is a downhill run from the top of Mount Charleston down to North Las Vegas.  This run has a massive elevation drop of over 5,000 feet.  While we had not been doing training specific to this race we had been doing lots of up and downhill runs.  Each weekend in preparation for Comrades Uphill run we have been running Red Rock loop, which has both up and downhill sections that are pretty steep.  I was a little excited when I realized the Revel race was a Boston qualifying race.  I am a pretty good downhill runner and my qualifying time was only 3:55 so I was hopeful I could qualify.  I have qualified in the past but it was never a good time for me to do the race since it always conflicted with one of my Ironman races.  I figured I would have to do better than a 3:55 since Boston now has the three-tiered entry process and the faster your time is the more likely you are to get in.  My boyfriend and I set our race goal at 3:40 and this would also give us a good placement at the Comrades race in June. 

Race morning the temperature on the mountain was predicted to be in the 30’s.  We bundled up and got on the bus with the herd of people trying for a PR and/or BQ.  We got to the top with plenty of time before the race, we had about 30 minutes before the race started.  We got some coffee and then stood in line for the bathroom.  I told my boyfriend to get his stuff together while we waited in line because he hadn’t pinned his number, started his music, put his hat and put his watch on all the stuff you should do well before the start time.  He kept saying we have plenty of time.  When we got to the front of the bathroom line we had 8 minutes before the start and he still had to do all that stuff and we still had to drop off our morning cloths bags.  He was still pinning on his number and putting hat and glasses on as the gun went off.  We were 2.5 minutes behind the start group and needless to say I was a bit annoyed.  Thankfully your time starts when you cross the line but we still had hundreds of slow people ahead of us.  The first half of this race is the steepest so my pace was faster than normal.  I find running downhill too slow hurts worse than running at a faster pace.  The problem is that between mile 6-8 my quads started feeling the downhill running and I still had a long way to go.  It worried me and I wondered if I would be able to sustain my pace.  I knew the last 6 miles could be brutal since there was not really a downhill and I would be tired and very sore by that point.  By the halfway point I was on target for a 3:30 marathon but I knew the last 5-6 miles would be slower so I was still thinking it would be a 3:40.  The last 3 miles was brutal physically and mentally.  A small portion was into a major headwind up a slight incline.  I was barely going to make 3:40 and as I was approaching the finish line I had to practically sprint to make the 3:40 time.  I qualified for Boston with 15 minutes to spare!  

I haven’t done a lot of marathons in my life in fact I have done more Ironman races than marathon races.  If I remember right this might be my 7th marathon that I have done and I have done 12 Ironman races.  Today the day after the race I am more sore than after any Ironman races I have done.  People think a downhill run would be great but the reality is that it really beats up your body.  My quads, back, and shoulders are so sore from this race.  I don’t recall ever being this sore after a race and I have done 50 mile runs, Ironman races, 8k swims and paddled the Molekai channel in Hawaii.  This soreness tops any of those!  I only hope it doesn’t last too long because we have a race to train for that is in June! 

My dog didn't care that I ran 26.2 miles she
still wanted her walk!
My event in June is going to be EPIC.  The Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa is the oldest and largest ultra marathon in the world.  I am also raising money for a great organization that helps animals in need.  The Nevada SPCA helps so many homeless animals and they are a non-profit.  I volunteer there running and walking dogs.  The shelter is currently undergoing a major and much needed remodel.  The money I raise will be used to purchase treadmills, splash pads, agility equipment and training for the dogs.  Splash pads in the new courtyard will be a great addition for the dogs to keep cool in the summer and have fun.  The treadmills will be great for the summer, when it gets too hot in Las Vegas to walk all the dogs.  Agility is a great way for some dogs to learn and work their brain and body getting much needed physical and mental stimulation.  So far I have raised just over $2,000 and am hoping to raise $3,000. 
You can support me by going to my Razzo Run For Fido Page.

Thanks for all your help and support!

Run For Fido!

Coach Cyndee

Monday, April 3, 2017

Training Through Injuries

I recently fell when I was running and I broke a bone in my hand.  I was one week from an ultra marathon that I had been training for.  I had fully intended to still run the marathon until I went to see the orthopedic doctor on Tuesday.  My race was Saturday and I told the doctor I didn’t want a cast so that I could run the race.  I mean I still had healthy legs and feet…..right?  He quickly brought me to reality when he said that the bone I broke in my hand was the worst bone in the body to break.  Apparently it gets very little blood flow and healing is very slow and running 12 hours was a very bad idea.  He said in fact you shouldn’t be running at all for a while.  He said if the bone
The culprit who tripped me Cash!
separated more I was looking at surgery, which for this injury is not very successful.
  If he was trying to scare me he certainly did because my career as a massage therapist was more important to me than running.  So for this runner, triathlete I was devastated.  I was put in a cast and told not to run and I clearly couldn’t swim in fact teaching my spin class was even hard at first.  When this happened I was in amazing running shape and felt like I would have had a great race.  I didn’t want to lose my fitness so I decided to do the elliptical everyday.  I kept my arm in a sling so I wasn’t moving it at all.  I had another race planned in several months so I figured 3-4 weeks off of running and doing the elliptical would have to do.  I hated the elliptical but I did it everyday up to 90 minutes some days.  I also did strength training for my lower body only.  I was back to running in 3 weeks and when I started running I felt as if I never stopped.  I was back up to running 50 miles a week in just about 3 weeks. 
Many times when people get injured they get depressed and don’t do anything.  You have to be creative but in many cases there is something you can do.  If you injure your foot then you can probably do deep-water running to maintain your fitness.  I was also able to do the recumbent bike when I injured my hand.  Most importantly don’t get frustrated and be creative. 

Train Hard.  Have Fun.  Recover Well.
Coach Cyndee

Thursday, March 2, 2017

10 Foods To Avoid If You Want To Be Healthy

We all strive to do better when it comes to our food choices.  Something very easy for you to do is to make sure you NEVER buy these foods again and if you do have them at home you should throw them out! Whenever you eat always think about the nutritional value of the food.  Think about how it will benefit your body and these 10 foods will not benefit you in any way!
  1. Boxed cereal - even the so-called healthy cereal is usually crap so just avoid this isle in the grocery store.  Most times it contains added sugar and if you examine the label you will probably not understand half of the ingredients.  Most people eat cereal with milk which is another product I would avoid like the plague.  Milk contains so many gross thinks such as antibiotics, hormones, bacteria, and pus.  It is also very hard for many people to digest milk because of the lactose sugar.  Milk can also cause people prone to allergies and asthma to produce too much mucus.  Stick to oatmeal instead of cereal and instead of milk add unsweetened almond, rice or coconut milk if you need anything added to your oatmeal. 
  2. Crackers/Chips - these are just empty calories without nutritional value.  If you need something crunchy then make yourself kale chips, at least you will get some vitamins.  Crackers and chips contain hydrogenated oils which cause inflammation in the body.  
  3. Bacon - I know it's only 45 calories a strip, but it is really high in fat, sodium, and the preservative sodium nitrate.  It causes inflammation and doesn't contain much nutritional value. 
  4. Cheese - it's high in sodium and fat and very low in nutritional value other than calcium.  Cows are feed too many antibiotics which are passed on in the cheese.  
  5. Soda/gatorade/juice - all sugary drinks should be avoided.  Most people consume way too much sugar and these drinks contain very little nutritional value.  
  6. Frozen meals - even the so-called healthy frozen meals still have added preservatives and because you have to microwave it they lose a lot of the nutritional value they may have had.
  7. Lunch meat - Because of the processing they go through most lunch meats are packed with extra sodium as well as nitrates. There are plenty of reasons to take a pass on lunch meats, or at least to read the labels before you buy in order to make sure that you are getting meat that isn’t loaded with fillers and additives. 
  8.  White rice/white noodles/white bread - avoid all of these they don't contain much nutritional value and are highly processed.  
  9. Yogurt - while not all yogurt is unhealthy a lot of it has added sugar which causes a host of problems from diabetes to chronic inflammation.  Yogurt is also like milk and is very bad for allergy and asthma sufferers because it produces mucus.  
  10. Dried fruit - you may think this is healthy but its a very concentrated form of sugar and its very easy to sit and eat an entire bag of dried apricots or mangos which can contain more than 100 grams of sugar!  Many products even have added sugar which is completely over the top!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Run For Fido Important Update

As race day grew closer I was feeling confident in my effort to run 12-hours and 55-60 miles while raising almost $3,000 for the Nevada SPCA.  A week before the race, while on a training run, I fell and broke a bone in my hand/wrist.  I was upset but figured heck its my hand I can at least still run.  That was until I went to see the orthopedic doctor and he said I broke the worst possible bone in my body and the hardest bone to heal properly because of low blood flow to that area.  He was very adamant that I should not run the 12-hour run this weekend or run at all for about month to prevent further damage to the bone.  If I don’t listen to him I run the risk of needing surgery, which is a very difficult surgery to do and recover from.  Needless to say I am not running this weekend or at all for at least a month. 

Run For Fido is not dead since I have a 56-mile run I was planning to do in June.  I will continue my fundraising efforts through June and that race.  The good news is that I have more time to meet my financial goal of $3,000.  You can still follow my adventure on my Run For Fido Facebook page and lets face it this has really turned into quite an adventure!

Thank you for those who have donated and supported me, I will be running in no time at all.  The dogs, NSPCA, and I appreciate your support.  If you know me well you know my determination is relentless!

Thank You!
Coach Cyndee

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Simple Tips To Staying Safe When Running

For the most part running is a relatively safe sport, but there can be a few things to be aware of.  If your like me most of your running is done alone.  I am usually running with my dogs but not always another human.  Over the past 20 years of running I can honestly say I have only had a few scary things happen but it only takes one bad situation to put you in danger.  Most of my scary situations involved off leashed dogs rather than people.  In either case carrying a few essentials could save your life or the life of your pet if your dog is running with you.  A few years back I was out early with my dogs and several off leash dogs attacked my dogs.  My dog that wasn't friendly with other dogs (except my other dog, she loved him) fought back and didn't get hurt but my other dog Tigger wasn't a fighter and they attacked him.  I was helpless and couldn't get the dogs off him for what seemed like forever but I'm sure was only seconds.  If I  would have had my stun gun I think I could have kept them back because many dogs are terrified just from the sound of it.  Needless to say I carry one now along with mace.  
Here are some safety tips for you when you are running:

  • Carry mace or pepper spray.

  • Carry stun gun and/or whistle/noise maker.
  • Use a leash that goes around your waist so your hands are free if you run with your dogs.  Always keep your dog on leash, you never know if other dogs may not be friendly and don't want your dog running up to another dog or chasing after a rabbit or chipmunk.  
  • Carry your phone for emergencies.  I use a small hydration pack that my phone fits in.
  • Keep music turned down so you are more aware of your surroundings and if its dark don't use headphones.
  • Wear reflective gear if you're running in the dark and make sure your dog has it too.
  • If its dark outside try and stay on busier well lit streets.
  • If you encounter an off leash dog most times a loud foot stomp and NO will keep them away but always stop running if you see one because they may want to chase you.  
  • Change up your running routine by running at different times and taking different routes.
  • Always let someone know when you're headed out for a run.
  • Run with Fido, strangers don't know if your dog is friendly or not so you may be less of a target if you have a dog with you.  My dog doesn't like strangers and will bark if someone comes too close.  Most people stay far away from me if she's barking!                                              
Running is an easy way to stay in shape.  Just make sure you and your pet stay safe when doing it.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Easy Steps To Reduce Stress

Stress can wreak havoc on your body both mentally and physically.  Stress can lead to a host of medical problems that could potentially lead you to a doctor or hospital visit.  It can cause a host of problems that you don't want.

Stress can cause:
  • anxiety
  • rapid heart rate
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • headaches
  • muscle tension
  • ulcers
  • stomach distress
  • heart burn
  • over/under eating
  • poor nutritional choices
Take these simple steps to reduce the stress in your life:
  • Try sticking to a schedule and planning your day/week in advance.
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier than normal so you can have some quiet time and aren't rushing to get out the door.  Maybe use this time for meditation or whatever relaxes you.
  • Do something you have always wanted to do but just haven't taken action to do it. If you have been thinking about volunteer work then do it.  If you have wanted to take a class then do it.  Do something for yourself that you want to do.
  • Add de-stressing aromatherapy to your life.  Lavender, Chamomile, Frankincence, Rose, and Vanilla are all good to reduce stress. You can use them in a diffuser or apply them to the back of your neck or temples.  If you use them on the skin you can dilute them with a carrier oil such as almond or grapeseed oil.  
  • Reduce the time you spend with toxic people.  We all know them and have them in our life, they are people who are full of negativity.  Limit the time you spend with these people as much as possible.  At first it might be hard and you might feel guilty but in the end they will likely find someone else to complain to.  
  • Quit procrastinating, get organized, and just do it.  If you let things pile up then you will get stressed out.  An example is my laundry.  I have lots of laundry because I workout two times a day and I do massage so I always have to wash massage sheets.  I have to do at least two loads a day or it would pile up and that would stress me out.  
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help.  If you are very overwhelmed then turn to a loved one or friend and ask them to help you out with some things so you can get caught up.  Once you get caught up then pay attention to the previous tip and don't procrastinate just get things done.  
  • Try a yoga class they are relaxing, and good for you.
  • Take a bath with some of the essential oils mentioned above for reducing stress or better yet try some of my epsom salts with essential oils for reducing stress. 
  • Schedule a massage at least once a month. 
  • Try drinking herbal teas to relax.  You can find some that are specifically for relaxing and stress. Passionflower and Chamomile are two that are good for stress and anxiety.  
  • Get adequate sleep every night.  Don't try and catch up on the weekend because this doesn't work you will feel run down and more stressed.  Getting enough sleep will help you feel refreshed and think clearly to get things accomplished.  
Stress is very dangerous for your body and continued stress over years will lead to a lot of health problems.  Try accomplishing one of these tips each month and it won't seem so overwhelming.  Good Luck! 

Coach Cyndee