Sole Runners Summer Season Kick-off Dinner

The Green Girl attended the Sole Runners Summer Season Kick-off last night at Buono's in Downtown Long Beach. It also happened to be Coach Steve's birthday.

For those of you who have been asking about my running group, the Sole Runners, it's a 21-week training program. The cost is $150 and it includes several hour long group ChiRunning lessons, a Sole Runners technical training shirt, a copy of Danny Dreyer's ChiRunning book, and weekly training articles. The $150 does not include any race registration fees.

We also occasionally get free stuff and discounts from our sponsors. For example, Zico often supplies us with tasty coconut water for our post-run refreshment.

Coach Steve also coordinates educational events for the runners. In addition to the ChiRunning workshops, we've had the opportunity to attend sessions on injury prevention, nutrition, and even stretching. Earlier this year, Phiten came out and did a taping clinic to demonstrate their titanium products before one of our runs.

This will be my fifth training season with the Sole Runners. I was introduced to this group when I did a 2 hour private ChiRunning workshop with Coach Steve. I liked his coaching style so much that I immediately joined.

I love the positive energy and support I get from the Sole Runners. Our group includes runners of all abilities so you can always find someone to run with if you should so desire.
And as a true back-of-the-packer, I really like that our group runs for time - not distance. Instead of everyone running the same number of miles, we all run out for a given period of time and then we all turn around and head back. It may seem insignificant but this means I can finish at the same time as everyone else. This makes a big difference when it comes to really important things like making breakfast plans with other runners because I know they won't have to sit around waiting for me to shuffle back.

We received a goodie bag that included some items from our sponsors. Did the Green Girl mention how much she loves goodie bags?

I was excited to see a little bottle of Kool 'N Fit and a strip of Phiten Titanium Discs.


The Green Girl's Quest For Safe Sun Protection

Ever since the Green Girl discovered all the sun protection products she owned contained toxic ingredients, she has been on a quest for a safe but effective sunblock.

To summarize my last post, an ideal sunblock would be free of synthetic chemicals, parabens, PABA and nano particles. It would also not contain oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is an organic compound that is commonly used in sunscreens. This ingredient absorbs UVA rays but also has been shown to penetrate into the skin where it acts as a photosensitizer. In other words, oxybenzone increases the photosensitivity of an organism and actually makes your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. This makes this substance a likely photocarcinogen.

I've been using Burt's Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen with hemp seed oil SPF 30 which is rated a 3 out of 10 (the lower the number, the lower the hazard) on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) hazard scale. Burt's Bees sunscreen is reasonably priced at about $11.99 for 3.5 oz.

This weekend, I stopped by an Origins store. After scrutinizing the label and not seeing any immediate red flags, I decided to give theirSunshine State SPF 20 a try. It was $23.50 for 5 oz.

Unfortunately, this product has not yet been reviewed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) so I couldn't get a rating on it. Instead, I checked the ratings on each ingredient:

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (6.9%)
Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Mentha Piperita Leaf Water (Peppermint), Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water (Chamomile), C12 15 Alkyl Benzoate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Butylene Glycol, Dicaprylyl Maleate, Cetyl/PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Magnesium Stearate, Isostearyl Palmitate, Aluminum Stearate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil (Field Mint (Essential oil)), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange Peel) Oil (Sweet Orange (Essential oil)), Mentha Viridis Leaf Oil (Spearmint (Essential oil)), Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil (Rosemary (Essential oil)), Limonene, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Bisabolol, Pantethine, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyglyceryl 6 Polyricinoleate, Polyglyceryl 4 Isostearate, Hexyl Laurate, Sodium Chloride, Synthetic Wax, Alumina, PVP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Zinc Oxide (CI 77947)

The ingredients that were identified as potentially hazardous were:I'm not entirely sure how it compares to Burt's Bees rating of 3 because Origin's highest hazard rating is a 6 but Burt's Bee's fragrance is rated an 8.

I am anxiously awaiting EWG's 2010 update. As much time as us runners spend in the sun, we need to make sure we're not only protecting ourselves but also minimizing our exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.


Rad Runner Girl's Bradford Tonic Giveaway

The Green Girl is excited to announce her good running friend, Rad Runner Girl, is giving away 4 Bradford Tonic drinks to one lucky winner.

To get the details of this awesome giveaway and enter to win, visit Rad Runner Girl's Bradford Tonic giveaway post.

Bradford Tonic is a Florida-based beverage company that specializes in Caribbean-inspired raw beverages that contain healthful ingredients without pasteurization.

Good luck, runners!


26 Weeks To 26.2 Miles

The Green Girl's Athens Marathon training starts this weekend. There will be exactly 26 weeks until the marathon.

I would misrepresent myself if I didn't admit I am feeling some apprehension. I am fearful the posterior tibial tendonitis will worsen. I am going to continue to tape my foot religiously. And I must be diligent about doing the exercises from the physical therapist on a daily basis.

Secondarily, I am concerned about my high acidity. I've made a habit of drinking green tea with raw honey on a daily basis. I make a conscious effort to avoid refined sugars and increase my consumption of nutritionally dense foods. I've even been staying away from spicy foods.

For me, high acidity manifests itself in my body in the form of severe chronic sinus infections.

This evening, on my way home from work, I stopped by my local health food store to get some pH level test strips. I got a package of TriMedica AlkaMAX pH Papers for $14.99. The roll contains 16' and is supposed to be good for 192 1" indicators.

Based on my research, twice a week is a sufficient number of times to test your pH levels. My plan is to track my results on Saturdays after my long runs and Wednesdays.

Urine is supposed to give a more accurate reading then saliva but for my initial test, I decided to do both.

I started off with testing my urine. The pH strip turned a really pretty green - indicating a reading between 6.0 and 6.5. Unfortunately for the Green Girl, green ≠ good in the pH measurement world. The strip with my saliva turned 5.0 yellow.

In addition to putting in the hours to train for this marathon, I am going to need to be highly vigilant about taking care of my Green Girl body so I can be as healthy and strong as possible.


The Green Girl's Recreation Park Run and Spelling Bee

The Green Girl went for a short run around Recreation Park today to help her relax before the Adult Spelling Bee this afternoon. I had considered doing some last minute dictionary cramming but opted to head outside instead.

Recreation Park includes a golf course, tennis courts, and a lawn bowling green. It also features Blair Field, home to the Long Beach State Dirtbags and Long Beach Armada professional baseball team.

Recreation Park's lawn bowling green is where I was first exposed to the sport of lawn bowling. I was walking by one day and I couldn't help but stop and watch. Some of the lawn bowlers spotted me and invited me onto the bowling lawn.

They explained the object of the game is to roll the ball (the bowl) toward the smaller stationary ball (the jack) and try to get your bowl closer to the jack then your opponent's. This is sometimes achieved by knocking an opponent's bowl or the jack.

After my run, I showered and headed over to Bay Shore Church for the Spelling Bee. The Adult Spelling Bee was founded by Justin Rudd and allows anyone over the age of 16 to participate in a spelling bee.

I registered on a whim. I had no prior spelling bee experience but I was a really strong speller back when I was in school so I figured I'd give it a shot.

There were a total of 33 contestants. The award for the winner was $500 and then an additional $500 was given to a charity of their choice. I chose Operation Jump Start as my charity.

Unfortunately, I was eliminated in the Second Round when I misheard the word and thought I was supposed to spell 'DEPRESSED' when the word was actually 'DEPRESS'.

As expected, the words in the final rounds were challenging.

The winner, Anne Wright, correctly spelled 'GLENGARRY' at the end of the 15th round. I was pleased to hear her charity was the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.


The Green Girl's Morning Run and Ragnar Spectating

The Green Girl met up with the Sole Runners for our last Saturday morning run at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Our summer season will be starting next weekend and we'll be training out of Long Beach.

As I was heading southbound on Pacific Coast Highway, I saw some of the Ragnar Relay runners. The Ragnar Relay is a 200 mile relay from Ventura to Dana Point.

There were orange cones to warn drivers of the runners in the sections where there was no sidewalk. I also saw a handful of signs that warned 'RUNNERS ON ROAD'.

On our run, we chatted about the Ragnar Relay. A few of our teammates had registered and we were wondered how they were doing.

The sky was overcast and the air was muggy but the beauty of the wetlands still shined through. Surprisingly, there were more bird watchers with their giant hunting camouflage telescopes out than usual.

I feel like the trail running has made me a stronger runner. I'm a clumsy Green Girl but since I started trail running, I trip and stumble a lot less. I believe the uneven ground has also helped strengthen my ankles.

Even though I took it easy today, it was a satisfying last mid-season run.

After working up an appetite on our run, we stopped to get some breakfast. It was cool because we got to see the Ragnar runners as we walked up Pacific Coast Highway. We also opted to sit outside and eat so we could watch the relay go by.

We all got a good chuckle as the different team vans drove by with the clever names plastered all over the body of the vehicle. We saw a fake torso with a lacy black bra and a team called 'I think I've made a huge mistake'. Heh.

One of the highlights was when we spotted a fellow Sole Runner running by.


The Green Girl's Earth Day Run

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day today, the Green Girl scheduled her run so she could watch the sunset at 19:28 Pacific Time from Hilltop Park at Signal Hill.

Hilltop Park is a good place to view the sunset because the location offers a panoramic view of the Los Angeles basin.

If you face south, you can see downtown Long Beach with Catalina Island in the background. Looking west, you will see the South Bay area and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. And if you look north towards downtown Los Angeles, you will see the outline of the San Gabriel mountains in the distance.

The walkway leading to the park is etched with a poem. These words are a glimpse into the history of this hill.

Here on this hill
what perspective to see
our world
with clarity
Each point of view
We come
to this place
when life gets too fast
to reflect on time
make a sunset last
what has come to pass
Signal fire
Water tower
Oil gusher of black gold
Layers of the past
shadowed images
The surface hints
of what you can't
touch to know
Earth upon water
a secret
well hidden
I sat down and watched as the clouds morphed around the setting sun and cast shadows across the sky. My heart danced as the warm colors settled down into the horizon.

I honored Earth on my run tonight by respecting her beauty.


The Green Girl's Marina Run and Hormone Talk

The Green Girl went on a short run at the Alamitos Bay Marina last night. I wasn't sure if it was going to rain but by the time I got outside, the sky had cleared up.

I enjoyed running along the wharfs and looking at all the boats but some of the wood planks had come loose with age so I had to watch my footing.

I chose the Marina for my run because I had RSVP'd for a Whole Foods Health Lovers Meet-up on 'Hormone Balancing for Life: Hormonal Health From 20 to 60 & Beyond' at the nearby Whole Foods.

The lecture was given by Dr. Shiva Lalezar. Dr. Lalezar is a proponent of treating hormone deficiencies with natural hormone replacements such as bio-identical plant derived estrogen and progesterone (derived from yams) in a cream or sublingual format that is structurally identical to what endocrine glands produce. She also stressed the importance of taking both estrogen and progesterone because your body needs both hormones.

Dr. Lalezar started off by explaining that hormones are our body's fuel. She said there are 4 main glands that produce and secrete these hormones: thyroid, pancreas, ovaries in women and testicles in men, and the adrenal gland. She said as we age, our hormone levels change and this affects not only our physiology but also our psychology.

She said estrogen and progesterone are 2 hormones that work together in the human body but as we age, the levels of these hormones fluctuate. She said when women reach the time of pre-menopause, their levels of progesterone and estrogen begin to reduce. She explained the dominance of estrogen and possible deficiency of progesterone is very common these days and this imbalance contributes to many serious health problems and diseases.

She said there are 3 types of naturally occurring estrogens that are commonly used in hormone replacement therapy: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Estrone is converted from estradiol in the liver.

For estrogen replacement, she recommended 20% estradiol (E2) and 80 % estriol (E3). She felt estrone was the cause of most of the risks associated with estrogen use.

She also discussed how the drug Premarin consists of 'equine estrogen' that is derived from the urine of pregnant horses. She said the human body does not have any of the co-factors necessary to metabolize these horse estrogens, and she feels these foreign horse estrogens are the real cause of all the side effects and dangers of prescription estrogen.

Dr. Lalezar said natural progesterone protects you but she believes synthetic progesterone can cause damage when used with estrogen for hormone therapy.

Synthetic progesterone is commonly prescribed as Provera containing medroxyprogesteron. According to Dr. Lalecar, medroxyprogesterone is not truly a progesterone at all, but rather a progestin. The chemical structure of medroxyprogesterone closely resembles the chemical structure of progesterone as it is produced naturally in the human body. But, even a slight difference in the molecular configuration of a compound can produce a totally different response from its natural counterpart.

I had to leave early because I had plans so I'm not sure what else she covered but I had hoped for more information about how to avoid or minimize exposure to hormone disrupting chemcials. I've been hearing a lot about endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) lately and how they can cause adverse effects by interfering in some way with the body's hormones or chemical messengers.


Sunday Morning Long Beach SparkTeam Walk

The Green Girl has a routine on Sundays.

To begin, I always wear on my trademark orange SparkPeople shirt so I can be easily recognized by potential new Long Beach SparkTeam members.

One of the highlights of my Sunday mornings is catching NPR's Weekend Edition Puzzle Challenge on my way to the weekly Long Beach SparkTeam walk at the El Dorado Nature Center. I am looking forward to the day when I am picked to do the puzzle on the air with Liane Hansen and Will Shortz.

It was a magnificent morning for a walk. The ground was covered with dry brown leaves but the tree branches were bursting with rich green hues.

After the walk, I like to visit the Long Beach Southeast Farmers Market to purchase my fresh produce for the week.

I love the variety of local fresh fruits and vegetables the farmer's market affords the community. The Long Beach Southeast Farmers Market also offers fresh fish and meats like Lindner grass-fed bison.

Today, I purchased some cilantro and Swiss chard. I got a trio of sweet blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, along with a big bag of juicy oranges. I also stopped and picked up some raw honey sticks after Isabelle mentioned them yesterday. I'm curious to see if they could be an option for Athens.

It seems like every time I visit this Farmer's Market, I run into some friends and today was no exception. I saw a couple of girls from my running group and another one of my friends.

After the Farmer's Market, I usually swing by the Long Beach State Associated Students Recycling Center to drop off the recyclables.


The Green Girl's Beautiful Morning Run

The Green Girl went for another Saturday morning run with the Sole Runners at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

Our running group will only be on hiatus for one more week before our summer training session will start the first weekend in May.

I missed my run last week because I was feeling under the weather so I was really looking forward to getting back out there today.

It was a beautiful morning and I couldn't ask for a more idyllic location for a trail run.

The estuary features many different types of plants and wildlife. We ran through bright yellow Beach Primroses and saw brilliant purple Sea Rockets. We passed a hillside covered in cactuses.

There was a little bunny hiding in the sand among some foliage.

I was chatting with one of the runners, Isabelle, and she mentioned we will be exactly 26 weeks away from the Athens Marathon when our official summer training season begins. 26 weeks for 26 miles.

I am cautiously optimistic about Athens. I am hopeful that with strengthening exercises, proper training, and adequate rest, my right arch will hold up and I will be able to cross the finish line.

As soon as the training season kicks off, I am going to start experimenting with my nutrition. I'm not fond of chews, gels, or other nutritional supplements but I recognize the convenience factor. I want to be to easily transport everything I will be drinking and eating during the marathon.

I also want to start looking for a new personal trainer. My former trainer moved out of state and I haven't found a replacement yet.

On my run, a giant bird landed in a tree above me. As it took flight, I quickly snapped a shot.


New Balance 1123 Motion Control Running Shoe Review

Now that the Green Girl has been running in her New Balance 1123's for a few months, she decided it was time to review them.

I have small, wide feet with very low arches and my feet roll inward more than they should. In addition to overpronation, I have also had plantar fasciitis since I was young. My plantar fasciitis manifests itself in a deep, dull pain in my arches. After a bad right ankle sprain early last year, I now also struggle with posterior tibial tendonitis.

To give a little background on the Green Girl's running shoe history, I started out with the New Balance 85x series of stability shoes with Green SuperFeet. I loved the extra wide toe box in the New Balance shoes because my feet swell a lot when I run long distances - especially in the heat.

The 85x series worked realy well for me until I injured my right foot and ended up with custom orthotics. The combination of the 85x stability control and my new orthotics overcorrected and I ended up oversupinating.

To make a long story short, after a lot of trial and error (and thanks to New Balance's generous return policy), I discovered New Balance 1123 motion control shoes.

I had my podiatrist check out all the different New Balance shoes and he felt the 1123's would probably be good shoes for me. He also mentioned shoes with a straight last would be a better fit for me because my feet are so straight.

My review is not going to cover the aesthetics of this shoe. The Green Girl learned at a very young age that when you have very small but wide feet, your shoe options are extremely limited so I made my shoe buying decisions based on utility, not fashion. If a shoe fits me, I wear it.

My first impression of the 1123's was that they were really stable shoes. The broad sole felt good under my feet. They feel very firm - not cushiony like the 85x models. The heel counter on the 1123's is really high. So high that the achilles notch really irritates my ankles when I walk. I almost returned them until I discovered the height doesn't bother me when I'm running. And really, running is all the Green Girl cares about.

My biggest complaint is the poorly designed tongue that constantly slips down into the shoe. It has a notch for looping the laces but the tongue is so flimsy that it doesn't make any difference. This really annoyed me at first but because the tongue is so soft, you can't really feel it so unless I look down at my feet while I'm running, i can't even tell the tongue has slipped almost completely into the shoe.

The 1123's are the heaviest running shoes I've ever worn but truth be told, they don't weigh as much as you'd expect them to. I mean, they have the thickest midsoles I've ever seen in my entire life.

Despite the 1123's shortcomings, the stability this shoe grants me is enough to keep me running in them. Making sure I have adequate support and stay injury-free are my priorities.

In conclusion, if I could redesign the shoe, I'd lower the heel counter and fix the tongue. I'm anxious to see what changes New Balances makes when they release the next model in this line.


The Saga of The Running Sunglasses

The Green Girl's family has always jokingly referred to her as 'Charlie Brown' because unfortunate things often happen to her. I often experience events that 'would never happen to anyone else' but I don't dwell on these things and I maintain my happy Green Girl positive outlook.

Having personal stories that are often hard to believe comes with the Charlie Brown territory. Like ending up with an empty goodie bag. Like having your high school art teacher accidentally put your batik in the black dye first.

Recently, I decided to make a significant investment in a pair of prescription sunglasses specifically designed for sports activities. After extensive research, I narrowed my options down to Oakley or Rudy Project.

According to Oakley, the nearest authorized dealer was Jimmy's Optical so I headed over there. I discovered prescription frames are no more expensive than regular frames. The hefty price tag is due to cost of the lenses. Oakley is known for their High Definition Optics®. I assumed this would mean Oakley lenses would cost more than other brands but this was not the case. Shatterproof lenses are not cheap. Regardless of whether I chose the Oakley's or the Rudy Project's, I would be paying roughly 3 times the cost of the frame for the lenses.

I also learned 'European Fit' and 'Asian Fit' are standard industry terms. According to Oakley, if sunglasses tend to sit too low on your face or slide down your nose, touch at your temples or cheeks, or feel narrow at the sides of your head' you just might require Asian fit. In case you were wondering, yes, the Asian Green Girl required Asian Fit.

I ultimately decided on the Oakley Half Jacket Asian Fit in Dark Grey with polarized XLJ lenses (see 'Before' in image below).

My sunglasses and I were able to spend a good 2 months together. They made me very happy until one day I noticed the sunglass tint appeared to be peeling off the bottom of the lens.

I immediately took them back to Jimmy's Optical where Jimmy's wife examined the lenses. She commented that she had never seen tint fading after only 2 months. Finally, she said there were only 2 explanations for this: they were defective or I just happened to be so acidic that my sweat was actually eating away at the tint. It was clear that it was a rhetorical statement.

That's when I broke the news to her that I was recently diagnosed with high acidity. She was clearly amazed by the power of my acidity.

Before I go any further, I must applaud the exemplary customer service at Jimmy's Optical. Jimmy's wife contacted Oakley and explained the situation to them. When Oakley responded by saying they could replace the lenses but they felt this would just keep happening, she convinced them to allow me to swap out the frames for a more suitable style.

I visited Jimmy's Optical this week. My Half Jacket's are going to be replaced with a pair of Flak Jacket's (see 'After' in image above). The Half Jacket frame slant downwards slightly in the middle whereas the Flak Jacket is straighter so there is more distance between the top of the frame and my cheeks. Instead of the angular XLJ lenses, I will also be getting the hopefully high acidity-friendly shorter regular lenses.


The Green Girl Experiences Full Body Vibration Therapy

The Green Girl tries to coordinate at least one free or low cost activity each month for the Long Beach SparkTeam.

For the month of March, one of the SparkTeam members arranged for us to attend a mat pilates class with Clint Bigham, the owner of 2020 Fitness.

After a challenging mat pilates session, he encouraged us to try out some of his equipment.

There was an InBody body composition analyzer, TurboSonic vibration therapy devices and Vibraflex machines. 2020 Fitness also has an infrared sauna. This was the first time I was exposed to whole body vibrational technology.

To start off, I tried out the Nuga Best Therapeutic Thermal Massager. I took off my shoes and lay down on the bed. Rollers went up and down the length of the bed along my spine for an intense massage. I could feel some of the tension in my lower back being released. My feet rested on the tourmanium ceramic plate on the end of the bed.

The Thermal Massage Bed is supposed to also promote Chi 氣 flow through the body. This automatic acupressure thermal massage system is essentially a bed with projectors made of Jade that roll up and down and massage your body. The Jade stones contain minerals, calcium and magnesium. According to the manufacturer, when the deep infrared heat rays pass and penetrate through the Jade stones special crystalline layers, the stones emit a specific wavelength and frequency that correspond with certain elements in our body.

Nuga Best also says when the tourmanium ceramic is heated, it emits deep infrared rays and negative ions. They claim this helps treat illness and pain while strengthening the body's immune system.

After getting a really good massage, I decided to go try out one of the whole body vibration machines. This particular vibration machine essentially looked like a giant scale. I stepped on it and pressed the button to turn it on. Immediately, the machine started violently shaking my entire body. Even my teeth were chattering.

A few of the 2020 Fitness regulars commented that they swear by these full body vibration machines to help them recover quickly after their workouts.

I wasn't too crazy about the vibration sensation so I turned off the machine and stepped off.

I love being exposed to things that are new and different so I'm really glad the Long Beach SparkTeam had the opportunity to experience the different types of equipment at 2020 Fitness.


The Green Girl's Birthday Run

The Green Girl loves living in Long Beach because she has so many options when she goes out for a run. I can head down to the beach or run around downtown. I can run through the neighborhoods.

For my birthday run, I decided to run through some of the neighborhoods. When I got to the intersection of 8th and Termino Ave., I noticed what looked like the entrance to a trail.

I jogged over and saw some couples walking on the trail with their dogs so I figured it was probably safe for me to explore. At the beginning of the trail, there was a log.

I jogged along the dirt path. I couldn't believe I had stumbled upon this little hidden gem.

I reached the end within minutes because the trail is really short but there are enough trees and foliage to completely shelter you from the surroundings.

This little Long Beach trail was my birthday surprise!
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