Monday, April 14, 2014

Ignite Naturals Review

If you have followed my journey in any way up to this point, you will know that my debut marathon did not go as expected. I did not hit "the wall", I did not have runner trots, and I did not remember that magical moment of crossing the finish line.

Instead, the last hour was the absolute worst hour of my life, and why was this? Mostly because I did not fuel correctly....ironic as that is what I preach to my athletes about on a daily basis. Karma at its finest? I am sure you are all sick of hearing about my disaster (but you can click here if you aren't), so I will only tell you that my experience has made me VERY determined to get this figured out before Chicago in October.

I have been trying out different products, and Ignite Naturals were kind enough to send me some product to try. I have been using them in workouts and long runs for a few months now, but wanted enough time to truly assess if they would work for me.

When you sweat a lot, especially on those sweltering summer days, one of the most important things you need to do after a run is rehydrate. This is where the Ignite InRefresh comes in. They are great to replenish electrolyte stores to make sure your body gets back to its normal state as quickly as possible. I tried each of their three flavors; blueberry, dragonfruit and tangerine passion fruit. Each were flavorful enough to want to drink, without feeling like you are drinking syrup, as I feel is the case with some of the other traditional sports drinks out there.

I would definitely recommend these for after a run to restore electrolytes, and the only negative I have is that I am looking for a product I can use that provides carbohydrates as well, which InRefresh only contains 0.5g

Kind of ironic I took this picture on a cold day....but you still sweat under all those layers!
If you are looking for a high carbohydrate drink like I am, Ignite Naturals offers Ignite Daily as a natural energy shake containing 16g carbohydrates and 8g of protein, as well as a whole host of vitamins and minerals to replenish. I liked that this was a large tub with a scoop, meaning I could play around with different scoops to find an optimum concentration. I tried the wildberry flavor, and it was easy to drink, nor did it upset my stomach after workouts.

There were a few negatives to this product, if you did not consume right away, it began to separate and settle at the bottom of the bottle. I also was not too keen on the fruit bits in the drink, at first I kept thinking it was undissolved powder chunks, but I realized it was real fruit pieces (the kind you get in a blueberry smoothie). This is just something that I enjoy in a drink.

Refueling after a long run
Finally, I tried out the Ignite Reload Energy Gels. These were the products I was most interested in, as I would hope to be able to consume them during my marathon. I am staying away from caffeine after last time, and these contain 27g of carbohydrates without any caffeine.

Before I stuffed it in my sportsbra to save for a later date :)
I tested the mango peach flavor, which I really enjoyed, and I was surprised it went down so easily. Some of the other gels I have tried are very thick, and you almost have to chew them. The Reload gels went down almost like a liquid, and I loved that they have the litter tag on them!

The only negative I have about these is that my stomach was upset a few of the times I used them. I am going to test them out more over the next few months, as I suffer with an upset stomach often during hard days, so I cannot be sure these were the cause.

All of the Ignite products are NON-GMO, hormone free, and gluten free. Their products contain no artificial sugar, sweeteners or preservatives, and use natural ingredients such as fig paste and brown rice to ensure it is easily digestible.

Overall, I am not 100% sure I have found my solution to my marathon fueling needs. I will need a few more months of testing to know, but Ignite is definitely winning so far, and if I continue to enjoy their products, then I hope I will be able to use them on that important day in October :)

I did receive product from Ignite for free, but my opinions are my own, and I have been honest.
What is your favorite fuel for longer races? Do you prefer using natural products?

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Training Update 4/6-4/12 - Generation Run 5K

This may be a relatively short update as I really need to go lie down. I am leaving for Bucknell University in a few hours to take six of my wonderful athletes to race this evening. We will likely not get back here till around 1am....and I got up at 5am after one of the worst nights sleep I have had in a very long time.....Tina is tired :(

As wonderful as Cherry Blossom was, and as much as I did not push as hard as I wanted to, I have felt awful this week. All week I have felt as though something is "not right". I feel off. I cannot put my finger on it, but for those of you who know me, if I tell you that I have not been hungry at all, even for sweets, you will know that this is not normal!

On Tuesday after forcing myself to eat dinner (Note to my athletes if you are reading; even thought I feel like crap, I am still making myself get correct nutrition to recover). I had to leave my night class halfway through with a horrible headache and nausea. I was literally to the point where I was considering how I would make it out the room without anyone noticing I was throwing up in my hand. Thankfully, that did not happen. I went right to bed, at 8pm and tossed and turned through the night, unable to lie on my stomach or my side.

Since then, I have felt better overall, but just don't feel quite right, and the hunger thing is concerning me. I am ALWAYS hungry; even when I am puking, I am still looking forward to my next meal; after workouts, I am always able to eat within a few minutes; and I LOVE my starchy carbs, but this week as soon as I eat them I feel as though I just left Olive offense to Olive Garden, I love it, but it is impossible to leave without feeling BLEUGH from overeating.

Running has gone decently well, tired a lot, but that is probably from the reduction of carbohydrates. Although I have made sure I maintained caloric intake, it has been from lots of fruit, nuts, and smoothies rather than my usual cereal, bread, oatmeal ect.

Eagles Stadium at Sunrise
I did one workout this week on Thursday as I wanted to give more time to feel back to normal. It was a long fartlek down on Kelly Drive. Unfortunately, I did the one thing my coach told me not to do, and went a little too hard on the first longer set, but I was running at a pace that should have felt easy so I figured it was okay. It ended up being a struggle, and I probably ran a little too hard.

This morning I ran in the Generation Run 5k down at the naval yard. This is a wonderful event, very well organized, and I enjoyed it so much last year that I made sure it was in the schedule for this year.

I had hoped I would run around 16:40, but the warm up gave the warning signs that it may be best to back off that estimation a little.

I ran hard, but did not go for it like I usually would and finished in 17:20. I also cut my workout short after the race, by not doing my final mile repeat. I have the gut feeling that I am toeing a line that I do not want to cross, and it is better to be smart.

$100 for each 1k raced this morning :)

My goodies from the morning :)

I am going to take a little rest, and take the next few days very easy. This is an important time to listen to my body, and I know I did the right thing this morning.

Hopefully you were able to enjoy the beautiful, sunny days more than I did this week!

Have you ever experienced anything like this suddenly? Any ideas what could be wrong?

I would really appreciate any help. My only theory is that my hormones are a little messed up as I am no longer taking my birth control pills to give me Estrogen. Maybe my body is trying to cycle.....another one of the downsides of being an elite, your body is totally confused as to what is going on!

In case you missed it, please check out my guest post on Jill's Blog about being an elite athlete

Have a wonderful weekend!

If you want to learn more about racing as an elite, check out my guest post on Jill Conyers blog "Being An Elite Athlete Is Not All Glamour" :)

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Recap: The Race

I am sure you were too excited to sleep last night in anticipation of reading the second half of my recap, but as I care about you, I am going to put you out of your misery :p If you missed part one, you can learn all about how elite athletes are treated the day before, and morning of a race by clicking HERE.

So where were we?

There is me, to the right, in pink and purple jersey (below the right clock)
I was on the start line, eyes ahead, hand on my watch (even though we were told if we crossed the line reaching for watches, prize money would be cut 50%.....joking....I think?), and butterflies bouncing off the walls of my stomach, it was suddenly time to go!

The group of Kenyans and Ethopians took off at a pace I am not even sure I could run for one mile, followed by a group of speedy Americans, and a few other groups. I wanted to be conservative for my first race back, so I let them all go, and somehow found myself in no-mans land within 800m.

Like I said, I wanted to be conservative, and I was not going to let the others dictate my pace, but I went through the mile in 5:44, surpassing even my own estimations of conservative......I expected to be around 5:35. I set my eyes on the group ahead of me, and picked up the pace a little, mostly thinking about how numb my hands were.It was a beautiful morning, but still pretty chilly.

As I caught the next group, they were all breathing hard....already, and I did not want to disrupt my rhythm, so I just kept on going, taking a few with me for a while, but they too dropped off. I went through the second mile in 5:37 and decided that was good enough. I did not look at my Garmin the rest of the way for fear of panicking if I was either fast or slow, and besides, I had promised my coach I would run by feel. Turns out he was right, I ended up running 5:40 for a few miles, before settling in to 5:30 pace for the next 5.

Thanks for the photos Clay :)
I continued to pick groups off, setting my sight, reeling them in, and passing. Not one person passed me after the first 400m, and I continued to move through the field.
I was aware that I really was not pushing as hard as I usually do, nor did I go to the hurt locker I usually can. That is partly due to the marathon wound still being a little fresh, and partly because I eventually ran out of people to chase. I only really started to struggle the last 1.5 miles, which is way too late.

I finished in 18th place, with a time of 56:37, which is 5:39 pace....although my Garmin says I ran 10.16 miles (5:35 pace). I beat a lot of really high caliber, professional athletes, and I was really proud of that, but the next female in front of me was a minute ahead. I am not really sure what else I could have done without going out too fast, and I was not ready to do that. HERE is a link to watch the video of my finish (around 4:30), you can see I was almost a minute behind the next runner.....leaving me in no mans land for the last part of the race.

This was a great race to build my confidence, and although it angers me that I still had quite a bit left that I didn't use, but I did not taper at all for this race, nor was I really going to gain anything from running well at it....who knows what a good 10 mile time is anyway!?

I am confident that I am moving in the right direction, and I think running a similar pace for my half marathon next month is definitely realistic if I keep being smart.

Okay, so what happened next? After the race, you talk to a lot of the athletes, I cooled down with a large group, and we talked about our version of the race. There was then an hour and a half before the awards ceremony (to allow for protests), where we could refuel, and catch up with other runners and important people in the running world.

So incredibly proud of her for her 6th place finish. Racing with one of your best friends is so special.
I watched some of my new friends go up for awards, and cheered extra loud when Frances was called up as 3rd American (and 6th overall!!!). We then got back on the bus, where one of the most famous runners I know sat next to me and talked to me about my race plans, and future. He gave some great advice, and I now have some new options to consider :)

We quickly showered, and then headed down to a fantastic brunch full of all kinds of glorious food.

Well earned I would say :)
We socialized a little more, and I caught up with an old friend....who I have not seen in 7 years, before we said our goodbyes, and headed back to Philly!

Last time we hung out was in California at SOKA, 8 years ago! Small world!
A wonderful weekend, and what an experience :) Hopefully this will not be my last. I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity, and want to thank Saucony for allowing me to represent them as a Saucony Hurricane! #FindYourStrong

Have you ever finished a race feeling as though you did not push yourself hard enough? 
What is your favorite post race meal?

If you want to learn more about racing as an elite, check out my guest post on Jill Conyers blog "Being An Elite Athlete Is Not All Glamour" :)

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