The Green Girl Has A New iRiver iFP-795T

After the untimely death of my beloved iRiver iFP-390T, my boyfriend generously donated his Creative Zen Plus to me. The Zen Plus has a corporate logo imprint because it was a gift from a friend who works at Microsoft.

The iFP-390T was my very first MP3 player so it held a special place in my heart. I got it back in May of 2003.

I was grateful my boyfriend gave me his Zen Plus but I felt bad he no longer had a player of his own so I called my Microsoft friend to see if he might have a spare MP3 player sitting around. (Okay, I admit it, I am a very cheap Green Girl.)

Much to my surprise, he had a spare Zen Plus but he also had an iRiver iFP-795T! I love that he had 2 brand new MP3 players that were manufactured back in 2005 still in their original packages sitting in his closet.

So my boyfriend now has 2 Zen Plus devices and I have another iRiver. Whoo hoo!

The iFP-795T is almost identical to the iFP-390T except it has double the storage capacity. Yes, the Green Girl can now have up to 110 songs in her running mix!


The Green Girl Goes For A Night Run

This evening, I went out for a night run. It's been awhile since I ran in the dark.

I've been feeling a little bit under the weather so I figured a good run would help. For some reason, when I feel like I'm coming down with a cold, a good workout often makes me feel better.

When I did the Cool Running Couch-To-5k Running Plan, I did almost all my running at night. I was working full-time and attending graduate school at night. I would often run after my evening classes.

Since I live in the city, most of my running routes are well lit but as an added security precaution, I had gotten a pair of reflective armbands with flashing lights.

I started running in the spring so I never experienced cooler weather running until last winter. As an early Christmas present, my cousin, Ann, got me an ASICS Storm Shelter Microstretch Jacket. I love this jacket. It keeps me warm when I'm cold and the fabric side panels allow the jacket to breathe so I don't get overly sweaty (I sweat a lot!). It also ties easily around my waist when I warm up.

A couple of months ago, I ran across a reflective vest on clearance at Kmart for $6.00. I'm one Green Girl who can't resist a great bargain.

This week, I was at Tuesday Morning when I ran across a pair of children's stretch gloves for $2.99. I had been thinking about getting a pair of inexpensive gloves for my Saturday morning runs after Coach Gary Smith suggested wearing gloves to help retain body heat. The gloves worked out perfectly. On my run tonight, I was able to navigate Mr. Green Garmin's bezel without taking them off. I like how the palm side is rubberized, too.


The Green Girl Hits The Slopes

Whoo hoo! The Snow Gods have finally smiled down upon Southern California. Mt. High received between 18 to 28 inches of snow. And you know what that means - glorious, glorious powder!

I did what any unemployed Green Girl would do and headed straight for the mountains early this morning.

I was pleasantly surprised by the drive out to Mt. High. I assumed I would get stuck in the morning commute since I couldn't use the carpool lane but I was able to zip along in the fast lane the entire way. As I was driving northbound on Interstate 15 towards Highway 138, I caught my first glimpse of the beautiful, snow covered mountains. The sky became darker as I got closer to Highway 2. It made me feel like winter had finally arrived.

Today was an absolutely perfect day for snowboarding. The weather was beautiful. It was even cold enough for the snow machines to blow fresh flakes onto the slopes.

The powder was amazing. I was in heaven as my board soared over the soft snow. When the powder is really good, I feel like I'm floating on fluffy clouds in the sky.

I overhead quite a few snowboarders talking about how they had called in sick to work today. It made me smile inside. There's something magical about snowboarding. I've been snowboarding for 4 years now. I'm not an expert by any means but I truly enjoy it. Snowboarding holds a special place in my heart because it was my love for snowboarding that sparked my interest in other forms of exercise.

I shared a lift ride with this one snowboarder who told me he works his butt off every summer to save up enough money to do nothing but snowboard through the winter. The fact that he is able to do what he truly loves really resonated with me.

I purchased a 4 hour lift ticket because I'm usually fatigued after a few hours but I didn't feel tired at all today. I couldn't help but think all the exercise I've been doing has actually increased my energy level.

I did a lot of thinking today. About my life. About what I truly want. About what makes me happy.

As I drove home, I observed the sun descending into the horizon and the sky erupting into brilliant shades of blue, pink and purple. Cliché as it may be, it was the perfect ending to my perfect snowboarding day.


The Green Girl's Very First Trail Run

Before our usual training run yesterday, Coach Gary Smith held an hour long Chirunning lesson. I've attended multiple Chirunning sessions but I enjoy participating in the classes because I always learn something new.

After the Chirunning lesson, we broke up into the full and half marathon groups to start the run. Since I was diagnosed with runner's knee, I haven't been keeping up with my Surf City USA Half Marathon training schedule. I've been being really careful with my knee and after going a full week without any significant pain, I decided I was ready to push myself. Instead of joining the half marathoners, I went with the full marathon group. I had attached my patellar strap to my hydration belt in case my knee started to hurt while I was out on the run.

We all set our watches to beep after 55 minutes to indicate the time to turn around and head back. We were given small, handwritten maps to help guide us on our run. I folded the map up, stuck it in my pocket, started Mr. Green Garmin and headed out. My plan was to really take it easy but try to run the entire time.

Coach Steve Mackel passed by and suggested I increase my lean. I was grateful for his advice and concentrated on doing that. I could feel myself getting faster.

Since I'm a really slow runner, I started out with the group but soon I was running all by myself. I pulled the map out of my pocket and tried to figure out where I was supposed to be going but I got really confused. The note in the middle of the map, 'If you get lost it's okay ☺,' made me laugh. I was definitely lost.

I kept running until I reached a dead end. About a block after my turnaround, I saw some runners returning from a side street so I headed over there as quickly as I could. As I neared the end of that street, I realized there was an unpaved path ahead. I took a deep breath, stepped onto the dirt, and continued running. The path headed towards the ocean and then curved to the right. At this point, a cliff overlooking the ocean bordered the left side of the path. The view was breathtaking but the ground was uneven so I slowed down to a jog and concentrated on my footing.

I wasn't able to run the entire time because some of the inclines were too steep for me and I was terrified of slipping on loose rocks.

On the way back, the sun was shining through the clouds in a way that appeared almost divine. It was absolutely beautiful.

Coach Gary ran by and asked me if I was going to take a picture and blog about it and I assured him I would.

According to Mr. Green Garmin, I did 6.92 miles in 01:47:12. At the steepest part of the hill, I was going down at about a speed of one mile per hour!


The Green Girl Learns About Sun Protection

When I run in the sun, I always cover myself from head to toe with sunscreen and throw on a baseball cap to keep the sun out of my eyes and the sweat off my face. I tried wearing sunglasses but it was really uncomfortable. I felt like there wasn't enough room for the hat to fit properly when I had sunglasses on. I figured as long as I pulled the cap down as low as possible, I was protecting my eyes and face from the sun's harmful rays.

A television news segment warning consumers of the dangers of ineffective and potentially toxic sunblocks and sunscreens prompted me to start looking into sun protection options. In my research, I discovered dermatologists recommend wearing both a hat and sunglasses.

After reading this, I started searching for some inexpensive sunglasses with UV protection that would fit comfortably with my running hat. I discovered many frames are much too large for my head. Finally, at Target, I managed to find a pair of Ironman Foster Grant TL2-HVC Triathlon sunglasses. They fit well and I love how the frame is made of a flexible and lightweight rubber material. I tried them on runs both with and without the hat and was pleased with the results.

When it comes to sun protection, you want a product with broad spectrum protection that offers protection from both Ultraviolet-A (UVA) and Ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and are known to cause long-term problems such as wrinkles and some cancers. UVB rays, which cause suntans and sunburns, are known to cause most skin cancers.

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of a product tells how long you may stay in the sun while wearing the sun protection product as opposed to not wearing any sun protection product. SPF essentially measures “time to burn.”

Here's how to interpret SPF:
  • Take the time you would normally burn in the sun without protection. 20 minutes would normally produce redness on a light skinned individual.
  • Multiply that number by the SPF factor of your product. Example: with an SPF 15 times 20 minutes of sunburn time = 15 x 20 = 300 tells how many minutes you may stay in the sun without burning. 300 minutes divided by a 1 hour of 60 minutes = 5 hours of sun protection without sunburn.

I discovered there is a difference between sunblock and sunscreen:
  • Sunblock - an opaque formulation which absorbs, reflects and scatters up to 99% of both UV and visible light
  • Sunscreen - synthetic chemicals that either absorb or deflect damaging ultraviolet rays (specific wavelengths - range of 200-400 nm)
From "Chemical Sunscreens - When Are We Safe?" by Virginia Culler, here are some common sunblock and sunscreen ingredients:

An ideal sunblock would be free of synthetic chemicals, parabens, PABA and nano particles. Synthetic chemicals are man made and do not occur naturally. Parabens are synthetic chemicals used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. PABA is an organic compound that was once widely used as a UV filter. It has been determined that PABA increases the formation of a particular DNA defect in human cells, thus increasing the risk of skin cancer. Nano particles are smaller than anything humans have ever put into commercial products before - a nanometer is a billionth of a meter. The process to break down a substance into a nano particle size significantly changes the characteristics. Sunscreens use nano particles to make them more transparent. Some manufacturers erroneously claim their "micronized" particles are not nanoparticles.

With my new found knowledge, I scrutinized the ingredients of all the sun protection products I own. I discovered I didn't own any sunblock and all my sunscreens contained oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is an organic compound that is commonly used in sunscreens (obviously my collection supports this fact). This ingredient absorbs UVA rays but also has been shown to penetrate into the skin where it acts as a photosensitizer. In othe words, oxybenzone increases photosensitivity of an organism and actually makes your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. This makes this substance a likely photocarcinogen.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested nearly 1,000 name-brand sunscreens to gauge their stated UVA protection, potential health hazards and stability in sunlight. They posted their results here.

It took me about a month to find a suitable sunblock replacement for all my ineffective sunscreens. Based on my research, I knew I wanted something that was free of parabens, PABA and nano particles, was at least SPF 30 and contained at least 7% titanium or zinc oxide.

I went to multiple Kmart and Target stores and every single product they sold contained oxybenzone. Countless drug stores had a few products that contained 3% titanium or zinc oxide but I couldn't find anything with at least 7%.

The only store that carried sunblocks that came close to meeting my requirements was Whole Foods. They carried a number of EWG's top 10 sunblocks. They also all had a price tag over $20. I have yet to find a sunblock that does not contain micronized titanium or zinc oxide. I understand the reason why they want smaller particles is so that the product doesn't leave a heavy white residue and can be more sheer but what about consumer safety?

I wish my sun protection post had a perfect fairy tale ending but for now, I'm not willing to pay that much for my sunblock. Instead, I settled for Trader Joe's $3.99 house brand sunscreen lotion SPF 30+ which contains 7.5% octinoxate, 5% octisalate, 2.5% oxybenzone and 10% micronized zinc oxide. Yes, micronized. This sunscreen was reviewed by the EWG. My logic is that the 10% zinc oxide will block the UV rays before they can get to the oxybenzone and start creating cancer. It's not too greasy and has virtually no scent. I'm going to email Trader Joe's and ask them to consider making an oxybenzone free product with a non-micronized oxide.

Oh, I'm also going to try to eat plenty of dark green, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables, to keep my skin healthy and less prone to skin damage.


Green Girl Running Update

I want to congratulate Kitzzy on her very first half marathon. I am so proud of you, girl! Whoo hoo!

My right knee is doing really well. I've been carefully keeping my feet really straight when I'm running and wearing a patellar strap on the weekend when I do my longer runs. And by longer, I mean slightly over a 5k. I guess I've been overcompensating for my bad knee and my left calf has been getting extremely tight. I don't want to push through the pain so I walk when it hurts.

Today, I was able to do about 50 minutes without any discomfort. When my left calf started hurting, I immediately stopped and walked the rest of the way back.

I'm really behind on my training schedule and I haven't done any interval or tempo training. The Surf City USA Half Marathon is on February 1, 2009. I have less than 2 months left to train but I don't want to push myself too hard and cause more injuries.

One thing Mr. Green Garmin has taught me is that I start out really, really slow. When I begin a run, I'm averaging a 15-16 minute mile. As I warm up, I increase my speed. When I'm in the "zone" I am usually just under a 12 minute mile. When I get tired, I tend to do a 13 - 14 minute mile. Before all I could do was divide time by distance so I never realized how much my speed varied.


Garmin Forerunner 405 with Heart Rate Monitor Review

Before I get into my review of the Garmin Forerunner 405, I must admit I had a hard time deciding between the older Forerunner 305 model and the newer 405.

I knew I wanted either the 305 or 405 because I wanted the heart rate monitor (HRM). Yes, I will openly admit that the fair superior color options of the 405 did make it more attractive in the cosmetic sense, but the Green Girl is also a fairly practical girl and I wanted a device that would be easy to use while running, accurate and reliable. I also want to mention if cost was a factor, I would have gone with the 305 without hesitation.

The most common complaint about the 405 was the fact that the bezel is rendered useless when it gets wet. There were quite a few negative reviews on Amazon mentioning this problem. The Marathon Mama actually contacted Garmin about this issue and posted an amusing blog entry about the ordeal. I had already purchased Drylyte Wristbands to wear underneath my future Forerunner because my skin not only sweats like crazy but is also extremely sensitive. Like I mentioned in my watch review, I can only wear fabric bands. Since I went for a really short run today and it wasn't raining, my Forerunner remained dry and functional. I'll update this review when it actually gets wet because I'm hesitant to dunk it in my sink just for testing purposes.

I had to plug my Forerunner in and let it charge for 3 hours before I could start playing with it. You charge the Forerunner using with this clip with 2 metal pins that make contact with 2 metal prongs in the back of the watch. The display lets you know if it's charging or not and when it's complete so there's no guesswork involved. Devices that communicate with me make me happy.

When you turn it on for the first time, it immediately goes through an initial setup. The nice thing about the startup "wizard" is that you get a quick tutorial on how to use the device. You also set preferences like time zone and whether or not there is a HRM present. The Forerunner detected the presence of the HRM right away and the ♥ appeared on the display. The instruction manual says you need to wet the HRM's contact points before it will work but I did not find that to be the case. I strapped it just below my sports bra line and worked just fine. It also acquired the satellite signals almost immediately.

I had expected the Forerunner to ship with a detailed manual but instead it comes with a fairly thin, CD-ROM sleeve-sized booklet.

It took me a couple of hours to really master the bezel. At first, I thought you had to touch and rotate from the 3 o'clock position back to 12 to move up one item and from 12 to 9 o'clock to move down but then I realized you could touch and rotate anywhere on the bezel. It's simply the notches clockwise or counterclockwise that drive the menu. I changed the "sensitivity" level to low because at the default medium setting, I kept accidentally doing things I didn't want to do.

The menus are really intuitive and it's easy to get the hang out of once you scroll through them a few times.

I also learned really quickly that it's a good idea to lock the bezel by clicking the 2 buttons on the right simultaneously so you don't accidentally tap it. I kept putting it down on the bed to read the manual and it was scrolling through menus and making changes all by itself.

The backlight is amazing. When lit, the display is crisp and easy to read. I'm looking forward to taking it out for a night or early morning run.

I downloaded and installed the Garmin Training Center and inserted the USB ANT stick into my computer. The ANT Agent immediately detected my Forerunner and displayed a unique number and asked me if I wanted to pair. I selected "Yes" and then my Forerunner displayed the same number and I clicked "Yes" to complete the process. Unfortunately, after that initial agreement, they stopped communicating with each other. I rebooted my computer several times and even reset the Forerunner to factory defaults and the same thing kept happening. The computer would detect the Forerunner as soon as I reset it but then it would time out. Finally, I uninstalled the software and it worked flawlessly.

One thing to note about the Forerunner 405 is that it does not have an off/on button (the 305 does). It simply goes into a power save mode and functions like a normal watch. To take it out of this mode, you can click the side button.

One feature I'm really excited about is "Auto Pause" because it pauses the clock when you stop moving. This is going to be great when I run in the city and have to wait for traffic lights. This morning, when I was out on my run, I stopped to take a picture and Auto Pause kicked in. When I put away my camera and continued my run, it started the clock again.

It was easy to use when I was out on my run. As I started jogging, I tapped the side button to take it out of sleep mode and then my finger on the 'Training' portion of the bezel and then hit the "Start/Stop" button to start the timer. I was pleased to see how effortless it was to get it going.

I had set the Forerunner to Auto Scroll so as I ran, it toggled between the main screen with my distance, speed and time and the heart rate screen. You can personalize the screens to display the data that is most important to you. There are 35 data fields to choose from and you can have a total of 9 fields displayed across the 3 screens.

When I got home, I powered on my laptop and the ANT+Sport technology transferred the data as soon as Windows booted up. I was really impressed by how easy it was.

As far as battery life, I played with it non-stop since I got it yesterday and it was down to 10% battery life when I got home this afternoon. When it's less of a novelty, I'll be interested to see how long it lasts.

If you are considering the 405 but not sure about the HRM, you can purchase the HRM strap at a later date and it will work with the basic model.

I'll do a review of the Virtual Training Partner when I figure out how to use it.

Update 12.14.08:
  • There was light rain pretty much the entire time I was out on my run yesterday (about 2 hours). I locked the bezel to avoid any problems and it seemed to work just fine. I did wipe the rain drops off it from time to time.
Update 01.11.08:
  • I like the Virtual Training Partner so far. The little digital figure actually encourages me to maintain my pace.


Marathoning For Mortals

I breezed through 'Marathoning for Mortals' over Thanksgiving weekend.

I had the pleasure of hearing John "the Penguin" Bingham speak at the Team In Training pre-race pasta party the night before my very first marathon - the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Bingham is a great motivational speaker who knows exactly what to say to assuage the fears of first time marathoners. He also offered practical advice in the form of amusing anecdotes.

Much like his speech, this book's target audience is first time full or half marathoners or anyone who is remotely interested in completing a race. The book really emphasizes the fact that anyone can complete a full or half marathon. I highly recommend this book if you fall into these categories.

If you've already completed a marathon, this is probably not the book for you. It does offer quite a bit of practical advice but I would recommend it as more of a motivational tool rather than an instructional manual.

I applaud Bingham for publicizing his 'anyone can do this if I can' approach to running. I love that the "You might be a penguin if..." section on his website is full of stuff only slow runners would understand.


The Green Girl Has A Green Garmin Forerunner 405!

I am one happy Green Girl! Whoo hoo!

My family got me a green Garmin Forerunner 405 with heart rate monitor (HRM). It arrived today from my favorite online store, ZombieRunner. Did I mention it's green?

I am absolutely giddy with excitement. I cannot wait to take it out for a run tomorrow morning.


Sole Runners Winter Training Starts Tomorrow

My running group, the Sole Runners, will start the Winter Full/Half Marathon Training Program tomorrow morning. I'm really looking forward to this. My Saturday mornings seemed so empty without the group runs.

Since my knee pain started, I've been faithfully applying heat and cold and resting it as much as possible. I also went ahead and purchased a patellar strap yesterday after my coach recommended I give it a try. He also suggested I look into Active Release Techniques (ART). ART is a method of soft tissue massage that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.

I am hopeful that I'll be able to complete an easy run tomorrow.


The Green Girl Retrieves Her Master Lock Combination

I'm one of those Green Girls who likes to keep things for as long as possible. If it still mostly works, I'm going to hold onto it.

I got my Keroppi-green Master Lock back when I was in high school. I would feel great pride when people would comment that they had never seen a lock in that color.

Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten the 3 magic numbers I need to open my beloved lock. I tried numerous Master Lock hacks but I couldn't even get through the first step. I kept coming up with more than 12 numbers.

Upon visiting the Master Lock web site, I discovered they offer a method for obtaining lost combinations. I was impressed they actually have a history of all the serial numbers and corresponding combinations.

Per their instructions, I printed out the "Lost Combination Form", scanned the back of my combination lock, and got the paperwork notarized yesterday.

I can't wait to get my combination so I can start locking my stuff up at the gym.


The Green Girl Has Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee)

My doctor has diagnosed me with patellofemoral pain syndrome which is more commonly known as "runner's knee." Now that almost a week has passed, my wandering knee pain has settled right above my knee.

Patellofemoral pain can be caused by a number of factors including overuse and overload of the patellofemoral joint, biomechanical problems and muscular dysfunction. Quadriceps strengthening is the most commonly prescribed treatment but I believe my quadriceps are pretty strong from doing hundreds of squats each week. In my case, I believe overpronation and tight calves and hamstrings are the culprits. My doctor also said my piriformis muscles are insanely tight.

He said if I wanted, I could use a patella strap just below my knee to help ease the pain when I'm running. I did a little online research and it appears the Pro-Tech Athletics brand Knee Pro-Tec Patellar Tendon Strap is the most popular.

I'm hesitant to go out and buy a patellar strap because this doctor is not a sports medicine specialist (I cannot afford to see an orthopedic surgeon right now because I don't have any health insurance). When I was seeing an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in sports medicine before, he said he preferred for his patients to correct their knee problems without the help of a brace whenever possible. He felt relying on the brace could do more damage than good if the person became too dependent on the brace.

For now, I'm going to do as much stretching and strength training as possible. I found a set of rehabiliation exercises and I ran across this blog describing some physical therapy procedures for runner's knee.

While not directly related to my current patellofemoral pain syndrome, I ran across the cutest stretches for runners web page ever. Look at how happy Mr. Stickman is!


The Green Girl and Her Knee

The pain in my right knee has settled to just above the kneecap. Per my doctor's instructions, I've been alternating between heat and cold.

The cold seems to make it hurt more while the heat actually gets rid of all the pain. My knee was killing me last night after I ended up standing on it for a couple of hours. I iced it when I got home and then used my heating pad with the cute camouflage cover Whimsie Dots custom made for me.

When I woke up this morning, I gingerly walked around the apartment and when I didn't feel any pain, I headed to my boot camp class a half hour early so I could get a good stretch in. After stretching, it didn't hurt but it did get really stiff.

I was able to make it through the entire class but I didn't push myself like I normally do. My goal was to finish the class without further aggravating my knee.

Tomorrow, I'm going to kickbox in the morning and then try out my very first spin class. Hopefully, I'll be able to do my interval run on Tuesday. At the very least, I hope I can get a good 3-5 mile run in.



After watching "Without Limits," I wanted to watch the "other" Steve Prefontaine movie so I rented Prefontaine.

Today seemed like the perfect day to watch the movie since I am staying off my knee until next Tuesday.

As an obsessive-compulsive Green Girl, I had a hard time with the discrepancies between the two movies.

In "Without Limits," Prefontaine had no father, only a mother. In "Prefontaine," he had both parents. His romantic life was completely different in the two movies.

"Prefontaine" went into a lot more detail when it came to the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Between the two, I preferred "Without Limits." I felt like the character portrayal was much closer to how Prefontaine has been described.


Green Girl Down

The Green Girl's first tempo run didn't go so well.

When I got to the track, the cross country team was practicing. I watched their bodies glide across the track as I stretched.

I assessed the situation and decided I should be okay as long as I stuck to the outer lane. My plan was to do a 15 minute easy warm-up followed by 15 minutes of hard running with a 15 minute cool down. I started jogging. My body felt tired again, just like it did last week. I backed off and slowed down even more. I had jogged about 3/4ths of the track when a sharp pain suddenly shot through my right leg. It was below the knee on the inner part of the leg. I immediately stopped jogging and walked slowly. I didn't feel any more pain but I didn't want to push it.

As soon as I got home, I iced it. My knee was a little sore on and off the rest of the day.

When I woke up this morning, it hurt too much for me to go to kickboxing. I attended my very first aqua aerobics class instead. I also swam a couple of laps in the pool afterwards. It was the first time I swam a full lap in about 20 years.

I don't have a job right now so I don't have any health insurance. I went to see my doctor today and he twisted and contorted my knee and he didn't feel I did any serious damage to it. He did transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and ultrasound. After that, I was able to walk out of the office pain free.

Hours later, my knee is hurting again. I'll continue to ice it. My plan is to take the rest of the week off from running. Hopefully, I'll be able to run again next week.


Wind Sprints Are Difficult

Every Sunday, I attend a boot camp class at the local Bally Total Fitness.

This class kicks my butt. The warm-up consists of running up and down sets of stairs. I'm completely out of breath and exhausted before the class even starts.

One of the activities the instructor has us do is wind sprints. We run as fast as we can back and forth between makeshift cones and we have to touch the ground at each end.

I was so tired today but I pushed myself so hard that I felt like I was going to throw up. I could hardly complete my last set. My exercise-induced asthma also flared up and I had a hard time catching my breath.

I'm looking forward to starting my speed training next week. Hopefully the interval and tempo runs will help me improve on my wind sprints.


The Green Girl Has New Shoes!

I went up to San Jose for Halloween weekend so I could take my niece Trick-or-Treating.

On Sunday, I went with my family to Santana Row for the weekly Farmers' Market. I spotted the New Balance store and went in to see if I could get a pair of replacement shoe laces for my 857's.

For some unknown reason, the 857's shipped with really short laces. The sales person knew exactly what I was talking about when I explained my need for longer laces and was kind enough to dig up a spare pair. The fact I didn't have to pay for a new pair of shoe laces made my day.

I was ready to leave with my free laces when the sales person asked me if I was interested in any shoes. I asked him if by any chance the 859's were on sale. Turns out they were 30% off and they had them in my size - 6.5 D width.

My very first pair of running shoes were the 857's. I was so disappointed when they were discontinued but I gave the 858's a try and they felt the same so I was happy. So far, I really like the 859's. The only difference I can feel is the increased support around the ankle. I appreciate the fact that it's more snug because my ankles would slip in both the 857's and the 858's. I used a special lacing technique to keep my feet from slipping in the back.

I know many runners spend their entire lives searching for the perfect shoe so I'm thankful I've found something that works for me. My feet are hard to fit because they are really wide but small. When it comes to running, I need a lot of support for overpronation and plantar fasciitis. I need a shoe that is stable and stiff. A shoe with a lot of cushion actually hurts my feet. Thanks to the New Balance line of stability shoes along with Green Superfeet insoles, I'm able to be a happy running Green Girl.


The Green Girl Runs For a Pumpkin

This morning, I ran in The Pumpkin 5k run/walk at Legg Lake at Whittier Narrows Park.

I'm really familiar with this park because when I first started doing the Cool Running Couch-to-5k Running Plan, I ran around this park multiple times each week with my friend from college. Unfortunately, knee problems prevented her from completing the program with me.

When I picked up my bib at the registration table, they handed me a plastic pumpkin as my goodie bag. I took the pumpkin back to my car and pinned my number on. It was a chilly morning so I threw on my running jacket for warmth until it got closer to the race starting time.

I stretched and walked around to warm up my muscles. 93.1 Jack FM had a booth set up and was playing upbeat music.

This was a small race - there were 72 runners and walkers participating in the 5k. We assembled around the Start Line sign. I headed to the back of the pack out of habit. The director came over with a megaphone and instructed us all to turn around - we were facing the wrong way. I looked in front of me and there was only one person. I couldn't believe I was going to start a race second in line!

A gun went off and we started running. Within seconds, almost everyone had sprinted past me. I wanted to really push myself today so I was running outside of my comfort zone from the start.

When I hit the first mile marker, I was at 10:47:25. I felt good but I was breathing really hard. I started getting tired about halfway through the second mile. I pushed myself as hard as I could and made it to mile two in 11:07:44. I kept telling myself I only had another mile to go but I was rapidly becoming more and more tired. It took me 13:22:59 to get to the third mile. I did the 0.1 miles in 02:05:00. My official time was 35:12. No PR for me today.

At the finish line, they had bananas and oranges. Oranges are my absolute favorite post-run food. I always crave something sweet when I'm done with a run.

After I ate a few orange wedges, I got in line to get my finisher's pumpkin.

There were two boys in the back of a pick-up truck handing the pumpkins out. I politely asked for a pumpkin and the one boy marked my bib with a red permanent marker while the other boy tried to reach into the big box for my pumpkin. The cardboard side folded in and he fell in. He pulled himself out and commented to no one in particular that he had fallen in. I continued to wait patiently. The boy stood there casually and looked around. I realized he had forgotten all about my pumpkin so I asked him again. He shook his head in disbelief and gave me a pumpkin.

After the 1k Kids Fun Run with Batman was over, they began giving out prizes for the best costumes. A bride and groom won for best (and only) couples costume. They had pretty cool prizes, too. They gave away running accessories from Nathan Sports.

The top finishers in each age division got ceramic Halloween candy holders and mugs. They were really cute.


Surf City USA Half Marathon

I just registered for the Surf City USA Half Marathon on February 1, 2009.

I'm already impressed with this race because they offered a size XXL in the women's technical long-sleeved shirts. The longboard medals are also pretty cool looking.

This half marathon is part of the "California Dreamin' Racing Series." The Long Beach Marathon/Half Marathon also qualifies for this series. The third race is the San Francisco Marathon/Half Marathon.

If you complete all three of the marathons/half marathons, you receive a California Dreamin' Racing Series medal in the shape of California and a California Dreamin' Racing Series Finisher's Jacket.

The Surf City Marathon starts at 06:50 but the Half Marathon is a "wave start." Your starting time depends on your projected finish time and begins at 07:45.

I completed the Long Beach Half Marathon in 03:05:50. I put 02:45:00 as my predicted time so I'll be in the last wave.



The Green Girl first heard about ChiRunning years before she started running.

A friend recommended the ChiRunning book so I purchased a copy. I had absolutely no interest in running but something about ChiRunning piqued my interest. I found the reading material to be dry and it was difficult for me to get through the book. I lost interest and stuck it on my bookshelf to collect dust.

Years later, as I was struggling through the Cool Running Couch-To-5k program, I decided to give that book another try. On a flight to Hawaii, I read the ChiRunning book from beginning to end. This time around, I was absolutely fascinated by the book and the technique.

The author, Danny Dreyer, bases the ChiRunning technique on five principles:
  1. Cotton and Steel Gather to your center
  2. Gradual Progress The step-by-step approach
  3. The Pyramid The small is supported by the large
  4. Balance in Motion Equal balance and complementary balance
  5. Nonidentification Getting yourself out of your way
1. Cotton and Steel is based on T'ai Chi - the principle that all movement in your body originates in your center. To achieve this state and in order for your center to work efficiently, the rest of your body needs to relax.

To do this, Dreyer suggests the following exercise:
  • Stand up straight with your best posture and one foot slightly behind the other, hip width apart.
  • Relax your shoulders and let your arms hang limp at your sides.
  • Now pretend your spine is a vertical axle by rotating it first in one direction and then the other. As your rotate your spine back and forth, your arms will move because your spine is moving; let them flail against your body in a gentle way. Focus on keeping your spine straight while rotating back and forth. stay with the image of your spine being an axle. Try to see how relaxed you can make your shoulders, arms, and wrists.
  • This is an example of your core doing the work while your arms are just along of the ride
He suggests doing this visualization anytime during the day so you can focus on your centerline and relax the rest of your body. This is how he wants you to feel when you are running.

2. Gradual Progress is pretty much what it sounds like - it focuses on the importance of taking your time and not rushing or pushing yourself too much.

3. The Pyramid emphasizes the importance of picking up your feet and using your psoas muscles and hip flexors instead of your calves. Dreyer says when you run it should be the same motion as when you march in place - raise your knees and put your feet completely flat back on the ground.

To do this, Dreyer suggests the following exercise:
  • Find some sand to run on.
  • Level a path in the sand.
  • Walk across the sand as if you are walking on thin ice by picking up your feet with each step and trying to leave perfectly flat, crisp footprints. make sure you really relax your ankles when you do this.
  • When you've perfected this, run across the sand at a very slow speed, taking small steps and picking up your feet as you go.
  • Look back at your tracks. If there a little crater at front of each footprint? If so, you are pushing off with your toes instead of picking up your feet.
The goal of this exercise is to get to the point where your running footprints are as "crisp" as your walking on thin ice prints. Dreyer suggests you imagine you are running across a pile of hot coals.

4. Balance in Motion is about making sure you are doing the right things such as drinking enough fluid, eating right, etc.

5. Nonidentification is really about being open to change.

Dreyer uses Tiger Woods as an example. Dreyer said that in 1997, Woods was winning all these matches but when he watched a video of himself, he realized his swing really needed some reworking. When he discussed this with his coach, his coach told him he could do it but not to expect to win any golf tournaments for awhile. His coach said his swing would get worse before it would get any better. According to Dreyer, Woods was willing to take that risk because he knew it was the only way he could realize long-term improvement. Woods spent 19 months working on his swing and everyone wondered what happened to him. Then one day in May 1999, Woods felt that something happen in his swing and it was exactly what he'd been looking for.

The ChiRunning book made sense to me but I'm a visual person so I got a copy of the ChiRunning DVD. That helped a little bit but I still struggled to incorporate the technique into my running.

In May of this year, I signed up for a two hour private ChiRunning workshop with a ChiRunning Certified Instructor, Steve Mackel. This was when ChiRunning finally clicked for me.

Steve spent the first 45 minutes getting me into the correct posture. He showed me what a difference the direction your body points in the way you moves forward. Then, he went over my feet. He said to make sure they are not too far apart - he used a 3 finger rule. He also told me not to grip the ground with my toes. I learned have a tendancy to do that. Next, he had me "lengthen" my body. I had a hard time with that because I kept wanting to throw my shoulders back. Steve had me imagine there was an imaginary string at the top of my head that was pulling me up but then I had to make sure I wasn't raising my chin up too high.

I had a really hard time learning to straighten my pelvic area. Steve told me to imagine i was a bowl and to stop spilling. I wasn't able to do that. Then, he said for women mentioning it's like a kegel exercise helps. Since I had no idea what a kegel was, that still didn't help me. Finally, he told me to imagine I was peeing but then I had to hold my pee. I finally managed to do it using that visual. Steve had me lean forward and re-adjust my pelvic area again and make sure I could swing my arms in front of my legs and see my shoelaces. In this position, I felt like I was crooked but he assured me all my joints were in line when I was in this stance.

I also had a hard time with the arms. I'm such a tense person that I tend to go from one extreme to another because I don't know how to relax. Steve said to imagine there are bolts holding my arms in a 90° angle and my hands should be balled up gently like I have a potato chip in the palm of my hand. I never managed to get my hands right.

As we ran together, he would make me count out loud with him in time to the metronome. He also told me to imagine there was a string pulling my heart - he kept emphasizing the importance of leading with the heart. I struggled a lot at first - I would lean and then stomp. Finally, I managed to stop stomping but I would lean, start falling, take a few light steps with the form and then lose it. Steve kept telling me to make my strides shorter - I had a tendancy to want to lengthen my stride right away.

When I finally felt like I was in the ChiRunning groove in "gear 1", he had me change to "gear 2" and then "gear 3". Gear 3 felt so effortless - i was amazed. I felt a little self-conscious because he wanted me to count out loud with him and I was worried I was going to get too out of breath, but it wasn't bad at all. I wasn't exerting as much energy as I normally would at that speed.

Hill work was next. For hills, instead of keeping my arms at the 90°, Steve had me do upper cuts with my arms at about a 45°. I also had to increase my lean against the incline. I was so focused on this that i didn't even realize we had reached the top of the first hill. For really steep hills, he showed me the technique where you run with your feet at an angle - alternating every four counts. Depending on the incline, he said you can vary the angle of your feet. If you think of it like a clock, you could do it at 1 and 11; if it's a less steep incline and all the way to 9 and 3 if it's really steep.

For our last run, he incorporated some uphill and downhill work along with some stairs. For the stairs, he had me use the alternating angles like we did on the steep hill. At the end, I felt so light. I was running really fast but feeling really relaxed.

I am so glad I took the ChiRunning lesson. While I still struggle to maintain my posture on long runs, I can honestly say ChiRunning has made a big difference in my running. When I am feeling tired in a race, I increase my lean and I'm able to gain some speed without exerting a lot more effort. The uppercuts also make a big difference when I'm battling hills.

I really liked Steve's coaching style so I joined his group, the Sole Runners, this past season to train for the Long Beach Half Marathon.


The Green Girl's New Reflective Vest

I stopped by Kmart today with my boyfriend. We were rummaging through the clearance section when I came across this Bally Total Fitness B Fit Gear Reflective Vest. It was marked down from $9.99 to $6.00.

I've been looking for new jacket for early morning/night runs because my current running jacket isn't reflective enough. I do have a set of reflective armbands with flashing lights that make me look like a Christmas tree but I've been considering getting one of those bright yellow jackets that make you look like a giant highlighter.

This vest will be perfect. It was inexpensive and I like how I can just throw it on top of whatever I'm wearing.


R.I.P. My Beloved iRiver iFP-390T

Good bye, beloved iRiver iFP-390T. I'm going to miss you.

I still remember the day I got you. I was so excited. I splurged and went with your generous 256 mb instead of the 128 model.

So what if I couldn't put more than 55 songs on you? That was enough to keep me entertained. I'm a simple girl.

When I decided to try to start running, 55 songs was more than enough to hold my Cool Running Couch-To-5k running mix. Remember the first time you ran out of songs and I was still running? I was so excited. As my mileage increased, it became natural for me to just put you on repeat so we could start all over again from the beginning.

We flew together to Asia three summers in a row. You were there for me on the airplane, on those long stretches on the train and even a few boat rides.

And you were there for me as I trained for my very first marathon.

I guess it's fitting that you were there to help me every step of the way for the Long Beach Half Marathon this weekend.

I'm going to miss you, iRiver iFP-390T!


The Green Girl's Half Marathon Training Schedule

Wk Date Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 11.10- 11.16 Kickbox 30 min tempo Kickbox 3 mi Rest 5 mi Boot camp
2 11.17- 11.23 Kickbox 4 x 400 Intervals Kickbox 3 mi Rest 6

2.5 mi Easy
3 11.24- 11.30 Kickbox 35 min tempo Kickbox 3 mi Rest 7 mi Boot camp
4 12.01- 12.07 Kickbox 5 x 400 Intervals Kickbox 4 mi race pace

7 mi Boot camp
5 12.08- 12.14 Kickbox 35 min tempo Kickbox 3 mi race pace

8 mi Boot camp
6 12.15- 12.21 Kickbox 6 x 400 Intervals Kickbox 4 mi race pace

2 miles Easy
Rest 10K race
7 12.22- 12.28 Kickbox 40 min tempo Kickbox 4 mi race pace Rest 9

3 mi Easy
8 12.29- 01.04 Kickbox 6 x 400 Intervals Kickbox 3 mi race pace

10 mi Boot camp
9 01.05- 01.11 Kickbox 45 min tempo Kickbox 4 mi race pace

11 mi Rest
10 01.12- 01.18 Kickbox 7 x 400 Intervals Kickbox 3 mi race pace

12 mi Boot camp
11 01.19- 01.25 Kickbox 45 min tempo Kickbox 3 mi race pace Rest 5

Boot camp
12 01.26- 02.01 Rest 4 mi Kickbox 2 mi Rest 20 minutes Surf City USA Half Marathon

Tempo Run: Start off with 15-20 minutes of easy running and then 15 to 20 minutes of comfortably hard running. Finish with 5-10 minutes of cooling down.

Intervals: After warming-up, run 400 meters (one lap around most tracks) hard, then recover by jogging or walking 400 meters. Repeat this with the 400 meter recovery in between each run.


The Green Girl's Review of the Timex Ironman 50-lap T5H411 Watch

I purchased the Timex Ironman 50-lap T5H411 specifically for my very first marathon training. I already had an Ironman 30-Lap Flix but that watch did not offer a multiple interval timer option.

I needed the multiple interval timer option so I could do run/walk intervals. Most watches will beep after x amount of time with an option to stop or repeat at the end of the countdown. I wanted a watch that would beep after my run segment to indicate it was time to walk and then beep again when it was time to run again.

For my marathon training, I wanted the following features in my new watch:
  • A good easy-to-read display so I could quickly glance at the numbers while running
  • Buttons that are easy to press without looking at the watch
  • A fabric band because I sweat a lot (even when I'm not exercising) and I get rashes or
  • If the band is not fabric then I need the ability to replace the band with a fabric one
  • Chronograph with lap/split memory recall
  • Dual/multiple interval timers
After doing a lot of research, I identified two Timex models that met the above criteria: I decided against the Women's Timex Triathlon Sleek 50-lap 5G291 because I dislike the color purple and I didn't like the style. I'm more of a tomboy. When I began my search, I assumed Timex's 'Two-Mode Timer' meant it had the dual timer option I was looking for. This was a source of confusion for me because my existing watch had a 'Two-Mode Timer' but I could not figure out how to make it do two different countdowns. I even called Timex technical support for clarification but they were not able to shed any light on the situation. I finally realized "Two-Mode" referred to the fact that you could toggle the timer between 'Stop' and 'Repeat' mode. What I needed was a "Dual-Interval Timer" or "9 interval timer." I have no idea why Timex offers 2 timers or 9 but nothing in between. You can tell if a Timex watch has multiple interval timers by pressing the "MODE" button in the lower left three times. The first time you press it, it will go into "Chronograph" mode and the second time you press it, it will go into regular 'Timer' mode. If you get an 'INTTMR' when you hit the 'MODE' button three times, then your watch has either 2 or 9 interval timers. When I first started hitting the longer distance runs, I wanted to do interval training that consisted of 10 minute runs followed by 1 minute walks. To do this, I set the first interval to 10 minutes and I set it to "Repeat" at the end. Then, I set the second interval to 1 minute and also set it to repeat. As my training progressed and the mileage increased, I shortened my run intervals from 10 to 7 and for the actual race, I did a 5:1 run/walk ratio. I am very pleased with this watch. It's durable and easy to use.

The band is made for a larger wrist so it took some adjusting to get it to fit just right but in time, the velcro became accustomed so my size. It never chafed or irritated my skin. The velcro is also high quality so it doesn't lose it's grip over time.

I didn't like the style at first but I must admit it grew on me. The buttons seemed awkward at first because I was so used to my old watch but I got used to them quickly and they are easy to press even when my hands are sweaty and sticky.

If I could improve one thing it would be lack of Flix. Flix is Timex's technology that allows you to 'flick' on the Indiglo to illuminate the watch's dial. My other watch has Flix and it's really handy when I'm out running at night - I just "flick" my wrist and I can see the time.


The Green Girl's Race Preparation List

My coaches, Steve Mackel and Gary Smith put together this 'Coach Steve & Gary's Race Day CheckList'.

The most important thing to remember is not to try anything new right before a race. This includes eating new foods; wearing new clothing, socks or shoes; taking new medications or vitamins; applying new creams or lotions; or doing anything else you've never done before. I believe this rule would be a lot easier to follow if the race expo was after the race. At the expo, they offer samples of all sorts of "super" bars, drinks, foods and other snacks.

No matter how many times seasoned marathoners warn other runners not to wear clothing or shoes they bought at the expo the day before, we all get tempted to sport new purchases on the big day. Do not, under any circumstances, make this mistake.

I highly recommend attaching the timing chip to your shoes and pinning the bib on your race shirt the night before. As easy as it may seem, this can sometimes be a little more complicated than expected.

I also make sure I have everything I need in one place before I go to bed. I don't want to be looking for things in the morning.

The Green Girl's Race Checklist:

Timing Chip
Spare Socks
Race Shirt
Race Pants/Shorts
Lip Balm
Hand Sanitizer
Road ID
Hydration Belt
Mobile Phone
Digital Camera
MP3 Player
Warm-up Clothes
Bus Pass

The Green Girl's "Night Before" Checklist:

Attach timing chip to shoes
Put socks near shoes
Pin bib to race shirt
Put out all clothing
Freeze hydration bottles
Prepare hydration belt

I like to take public transportation to races. This way I don't have to deal with traffic and I don't have to worry about parking my car.
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