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What Running to Tahiti Taught Me About Money

I’m not bad with money, per se. Not horrible. I pay my bills on time, always, and keep a very organized record of my accounts. My problem is that I have bills in the first place. My problem is that I enjoy spending money and usually on things. I love things. Aren’t things awesome? I love shoe things and clothes things and book things. Yay things! Then I run to Tahiti, and I realize that things are not actually purchased with money. They are purchased with units of my life. Yikes. My life is made up of a lot of running shoes.

Money is just an invention, right? It’s a placeholder, but for what? For time. So when I spend $80 on a pair of discount Asics that I don’t reeeeally need I’m not giving away $80. I’m giving away approximately 4 hours of my life. You may be willing to trade cold heartless cash for cool stuff, but are you willing to trade your time?

Five days a week I trade in my time, eight hours a day, for money. Why? The marketing machine that is commercial capitalism wants you to believe that you trade your time in for money so that you can go out and buy things. Things will give you meaning (false). Things will fulfill you (false.) Things will make you happy (ok SOMEtimes). Then the rush of those things wears off and you have to go out and buy more things to feel that false sense of fulfillment. You have to work harder to get more money to buy more things, but you’re working so hard to buy those things you barely have time to enjoy them so their meaning diminishes even more but the quest for happiness does not and so you do it. You work harder, you take on another job, you trade in more of your lifetime, (Think about that word. Life. Time.) to acquire more things that continue to fail to give your life meaning. You’ve given away the precious time of your life for the acquisition of ultimately meaningless things.

Is that what I want my life to be? Running shoes and book bags? (Dammit if I don’t LOVE a good book bag). Not if I don’t have time to go running or to read the books I’ve put in my bag. I’m incredibly grateful to live in a country and a time that afford me the ability to work for a decent income; one that gives me a roof over my head, a steady stream of food on the table, a car to get around, cat food for the furry babies, and a little extra for a new hat. Good lord I’m practically royalty. Grateful grateful, I’m very grateful. I have just what I need to be comfortable, and then some. The trick is to not spend the “then some” but earmark it for an investment in a meaningful life.

This all seems rather logical but we’re brainwashed in the western world from such an early age to value things. Toys, video games, treats, presents. These are the epicenters of many an American child’s world. I don’t necessarily believe in complete deprivation of material goods to combat this. I truly loved my Teddy Ruxpin doll and Little Mermaid sleeping bag. At some point it’s an important lesson to learn however that these things did not make me who I am. What made me who I am are the friendships I cultivated at the slumber parties where I used my Little Mermaid sleeping bag, and the imagination sparked in my mind by talking to a teddy bear who could talk back. Friendship, imagination, kindness, play. These are the elements of my childhood that made me who I am, despite the fact that Disney and Toys R Us would have me believe it was the things themselves.

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And so no, I do not completely discredit the value of things. I am more likely to write a better story in a beautiful journal with a fancy pen than I am on a boring black and white composition notebook. I will walk with more confidence in an outfit that makes me feel beautiful than an ill-fitting dress I’ve had for 10 years. Just remember it’s the story that matters. It’s the confidence. The things are just tools.

A light bulb goes off as soon as we start planning our trip to Tahiti. This four-year endeavor has been its own form of internal currency trade, but I never realize the weight of that until I begin to think about giving the currency away. Each dollar we put into savings represents a hard-earned mile. So a couple of months ago as I research the cost of a diving expedition in Bora Bora, I feel this overwhelming resistance to lay down the $200 to pay for it because it’s not two hundred dollars I’m giving away. It’s two hundred miles! It takes us a lot of time, sweat, and energy to run two hundred miles and come time to give it away I have to make absolutely certain that it’s worth it. And that’s when it hits me. ALL of my money should be this precious. Why is it so easy to justify a quick afternoon blowing $50 on Zappos when it is so difficult to put down $200 for a once-in-a-lifetime experience we’ve been saving for years to have? Damn, my perspective is OFF. In that moment my paradigm did that shifting thing it sometimes does, and I no longer saw the numbers in my bank account as just numbers. I saw them as units of time; of my life. Very precious.

So what IS the point of money? Can’t we just get rid of it and all live in a utopia where money is obsolete and we help each other do what needs to get done? Then we don’t have to worry about all of this trading of time and money thing and we’ll just get straight to the happiness and meaning part. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not the way our world is set up and frankly I’m not interested in changing the structure of society. What I am interested in is a meaningful life. Stripping away things for only a moment brings quickly into focus what gives my life meaning: My family. My friends. Art. Connection. Travel. Animals. Books. Sunsets. Spirituality. Great stories. Adventures. My husband. My cats. Service. So what do I need money for? I need it for the security it affords me to spend time with my family. To see the rainforest before I die. To be with my community. To make art. To insure that the last 20 years of my life won’t be spent stressed out and panicked about debt but relaxed, and enjoying the people I love and cherish. Just the right amount of money can give me the security to infuse my life with an abundance of meaning. Too much (or too little) can make me mistake the money for meaning itself.

So thank you, whatever inspiration visited my brain and gave me the idea of Running to Tahiti. Not only has it been an incredibly fulfilling journey unto itself, it’s given me perhaps the most important life lesson I’ve encountered. Money can buy you happiness… if you spend it on a hard-earned plane ticket to Tahiti where you’re sure to have a truly meaningful adventure.

But only if you don’t blow it on running shoes first.

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10 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

I didn’t realize this until my husband pointed it out to me a couple of weeks ago, but the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon marked my 10th half marathon completed. I can’t believe it! I ran my first 13.1 miles at the 2010 Disneyland Half. How fitting that my 10th be at the same event. Full circle. Warm and fuzzies. MILEstone.

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In honor of my 10th half marathon-iversary, I thought I’d pay homage to the distance. It’s a great race. I started to think about why I love it so much and as I brainstormed it occurred to me to loop other folks in on the discussion. I’m a member of a fantastic Disney nerd running group on Facebook called Team #runDisney. It’s an amazingly supportive and enthusiastic group of runners. From novices to elites, everyone in this group comes together to share the love of our sport. So who better to answer the question, why do you run the half marathon, than my brothers and sisters in arms (or legs) over at Team #runDisney. The following is a mash-up of their answers as well as my own. I give you:

10 reasons to run a Half Marathon.

  1. Accountability
    • It’s all well and good to say you’re going to run 20 miles a week (or whatever), but let’s be serious, you won’t. You’ll get home from work and you’ll feel all tired and sludgy and give in to the couch calling out to you. Couch says “Hey you, yeah you whose derriere I love so much when it snuggles up on me with a glass of wine and a bag of hot Cheetos. Come put your feet up and watch the new episode of Scandal. It’s far too late and that wine is far too delicious. No need to run today.” That’s what the couch says. You can’t listen. You need something to pull you away. Sign up for a half marathon. Paying that kind of money to run a race will keep you motivated to keep going, keep training. Seeing that countdown widget on your phone everyday will remind you of what you promised yourself. Accountability. Plus, I just used wine and hot Cheetos in the same sentence. God help me.
  2. All about the bling
    • Yes I realize it’s just a cheap piece of metal made for 10 cents somewhere over seas probably by an exploited labor force. But man, I can’t help it, I love my medals. How many instances in life do you get a well-deserved medal placed around your neck for something you accomplished. There’s a reason there’s an established saying “they should give me a medal ” when you bust your butt for something. In this case, they will!
  3. Set an example
    • Whether it’s your kids, students, nieces, spouse, or co-workers, you have the incredible opportunity to set an example for someone around you. At a time when the dangers of obesity are finally starting to sink in, we’re all having healthier discussions about body image, and nutrition often takes center stage in the national debate, thank God that it seems like the world may be getting healthier. Maybe? Hopefully? The truth is we don’t know if all these studies and articles and dialogues are actually doing anything. What I do know is that I’ve had at least three people tell Brad or I directly that our running habit inspired them to get active again. That’s amazing. If something I’ve done changes one person’s life for the better, worth it. Actions speak so much louder than words (coming from the girl who writes a BLOG! *facepalm*).
  4. Raise Money/Awareness
    1. Runners raise a shit-ton of money. Millions of dollars every year. In doing so they take the opportunity to educate their friends and families about causes that matter to them. They provide living proof that positive change begins with doing something for yourself but it can’t END there. Change must be paid forward. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is Sean Astin’s #run3rd campaign. It sums up the philosophy perfectly. Run 1st for myself. Run 2nd for my family. Run 3rd for YOU. Of course “You” being an embodiment of whatever dedication compels you forward; be it a cause, a loved one, a memory, a statement. Give it away, be a part of something bigger. Make effort meaningful. Running does these things. Cool, huh?
  5. FOOD
    • With a capital F! Ok people, I’m not saying you should gorge yourself or anything. That would totally undermine the point I made above about setting a healthy example. But I’m not gonna lie, food tastes waaaay better after you just ran 13.1 miles and know that every single calorie has already been burned off. Most of the time of course you should be healthy and mindful of what you put in your body. Well, actually, all the time. Yes we should be mindful of that all the time. You should see how mindfully I down a chocolate milkshake and stack of buttermilk pancakes with a side of hash browns after I run a half marathon. In all honestly, I’m telling you, when you run consistently you just don’t have to stress about food as much. I never used to be able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight just thinking about a few extra calories. Since I’ve been running really consistently I don’t think about it, and I don’t gain. Admittedly, I haven’t lost weight either, but I’m ok with that. The relief of going to the grocery store and just buying what my cravings tell me to buy is so freeing. (News flash, when you get out of diet mode and listen to real cravings, you’ll probably crave healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and protein. True story). But let me repeat my main point, eating WHATEVER you want after you just ran a half marathon is a gift from above.
  6. Fits into your busy schedule
    • Brad and I just started training this week for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I have to admit, looking at the training calendar I can tell that from here until January running is going to dominate our weekends. Once we get over 14 mile runs, you’re talking about carving out at least 3 hours of straight running every Saturday. That’s *just* the running. That doesn’t include warm-up time, cool-down time, and recovery time. Running over 14 miles is going to knock us out the rest of the day, and we’ll be doing it about 10 weekends in a row. Bye bye social life! Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited for the challenge and am committed to making a social sacrifice to get ready for Disney World come January, but let me tell you the great thing about a half marathon. It’s challenging, quite challenging, requires a good amount of training and consistency, but is not SO challenging that it dominates your life. You can train for a half marathon without neglecting your family, and while maintaining a social life. And at the end of it all you’ll still feel so accomplished after running that race! It’s the perfect distance for we amateur athletes who still want lives.
  7.  Runcations
    • Running a half marathon can provide great incentive to travel. It might be hard to convince your spouse to fly across the country for a 5k or even a 10k. The half marathon is that magic distance. Your family will be so impressed by your effort and dedication to the challenge, they will readily jump on board to fly to Boston so you can run the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon. Tempt them with a Duck Tour and lobster rolls and you’ll start to see that half marathons can be the markers on your traveler’s map. And you won’t be SO beaten up after 13.1 miles that you won’t have any steam left to enjoy your surroundings. A marathon could put you out of commission. A half marathon will leave you feeling celebratory and revitalized with some extra calories to spare (see point #5). Half Marathons have taken Brad and I to Monterey, Big Sur, San Diego, and of course Disneyland!
  8.  Camaraderie
    • I’ve always gravitated more toward solitary sports than teams. Does that make me a creeper who doesn’t like people? I don’t think so. It’s just that team sports give me so much anxiety. Too much pressure!. However tennis, swimming, cycling, running. I can get behind all of these. The funny thing is I feel more supported by my fellow runners of the world than I ever did on a team played in school. Perhaps because we don’t compete against each other, we compete against ourselves (talking about non-elites of course). I run to beat my own time, not someone else’s. I don’t disappoint anyone if I can’t finish a race. No runner (me) has panic attacks about letting the team down. This leaves 100% room for positive camaraderie with my fellow runners and no where is that more apparent than at a half marathon. Thousands of eager athletes willing each other to succeed. I want them all to succeed so bad! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried hearing the stories of what my running friends have overcome in their journeys. We share tips with each other, we swap horror stories, we salute new PRs and we comfort epic disappointments. Seems like almost every major thread I read on Facebook is chalk full of dissent, argument, and trolls, except for my running groups. They are a virtual haven. In my running groups I can’t say I’ve ever come across a single troll. I may extol the virtues of the solitary athlete, but I’m not-so-secretly dependent on my “team.”
  9. Running is cheaper than therapy
    • There are many ways to maintain positive mental health; and running does it for me. The half marathons that I run every year keep an attainable but challenging carrot dangling out in front of me. I have something to look forward to which is always good for joy-making, and running after that carrot gets all kinds of fancy endorphins pumping through my blood and brain. Training will give you built-in “me time.” It will clear your head. It will help you manage stress. Half marathon training is honestly the best prescription for mental stability I’ve ever undertaken. Half marathon = happiness.
  10. Dreamcatching
    • Admit it, someone at some point in your life has made you feel incapable and bad. Whether that person was a bully, a pesky relative, or yourself. Someone made you think you couldn’t do things like run 13.1 miles. Oh the satisfaction of proving someone wrong. Run a half marathon because someone at some point told you that you couldn’t. Run a half marathon because you need tangible proof that any dream is catchable.

 

To finish, I want to share some quotes from the Team #runDisney thread that inspired me to write this, and continues to inspire me keep on runnin’. (Please apply (sic) to all typos, these comments came from the grammar vacuum known as Facebook). I hope you can feel the inspiration oozing from your computer screen, onto your desk, and down into your feet! These people have overcome and accomplished some amazing things. If they can do it, so can YOU!

I love running with people who are running their first half marathons and getting to share the experience of something I really love. It’s amazing to see all the emotions they go through and to be that voice of confidence and encouragement.

I run because I was told I couldn’t. And 8 years later, when I ended up in a wheelchair, I switched to a racing chair because running had become part of who I am. And it’s taught me way too many things to list…

Running ten miles on a Saturday morning means nachos for lunch don’t count!!

I had a stroke about 6 years ago and I run because I can and I know it’s a luxury!

Easier than a marathon and more challenging than a 10K. Just the right distance and I always feel accomplished at the end.

Because people look at me and say, you don’t look like a runner……

I run all distances for fun… 5Ks and 10Ks I want to go fast. Fulls require focus… With the Half, I can be a bit more casual and enjoy the race from start to finish.

Sometimes I don’t have a lot of control of many things in my life -but I always have control of me. It empowers me to stay strong through uncertain times.

I signed up for my first time last year because I can’t seem to accomplish my personal goal at work and needed to know that nothing could hold me back from what I wanted to do if there was no one in my way….

To raise money for a local charity and in honor of a friend who used to run marathons but died of brain cancer two years ago.

I took 20 years off of Running. Last year my son started Kindergarten. I wanted to set an example of exercise. I started with the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas last November. When November rolls around the weekend of the Disney Avenger Race I will have run 9 half marathons in a year’s time. If someone told me last August that I would have run 9 Half Marathons I would have said they were crazy. Yet 5 down, 1 this weekend, then 3 to go!!!

Most of my life I have been a big guy, a couple years ago lost over 100 pounds. I remember how excited I was when I ran my first mile without stopping for the first time in my life. This will be my 2nd half marathon. I don’t run because I can, I run because all my life I couldn’t.

I started running three and a half years ago after my son passed away following a car accident. That’s why I run to honor (him). He was a country runner and rugby player in high school and we had planned to someday do a half marathon together. I’ve done many half marathons and I have three or four more planned in the next 6 months. I run to feel close to and honor him. That’s why I run.

I find a different kind of fulfillment when I run halfs. It’s changed me inside letting me know I am strong and (can) accomplish anything!

I had a rough childhood, survived a relationship that could have ended my life, and emotional struggles from it all.  My boys don’t know all this from my past, but I want them to know that strength comes in many forms. Maybe getting that medal is physical validation of what I conquered internally. I also love that I can have them see me run and we can have a family vacation together at our favorite place on the planet. Double bonus!

I started running a few years ago. Did the Disney World 5K at Animal Kingdom and it was amazing!! I cried at the end!! Jumped straight to Half Marathon and was hooked… still cry at the finish!! LOL

For the amazing feeling you get when you finish the race. That natural high lasts for days and carries over into your normal everyday life!

Why you ask… “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… We must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Shoes

The internet is fraught with loss and grief over the past few days. I thought about writing my own post in memoriam of both the indelible Robin Williams and the legendary Lauren Bacall. But it’s all been said, and better than I could ever say. I’ll just say two things. To Robin Williams, your empathy as a performer drew me in so close. Watching you perform I witnessed what it costs an actor to truly live and breathe your character, the heart pain, well it was in your eyes. I’m sorry the heart pain was in your life as well. And to Lauren Bacall, Betty, you were so divine. When I fell in love with my man it was not too long before I picked up your autobiography. I wanted to hear all about your romance and love for Bogie. Perhaps I wanted a little inside peek at the most notorious December-May romance of all, finding myself in a similar situation without the notorious part. I wanted to read about a love like that, one that sort of looked like mine. A love that was not fraught with scandal or intrigue, but seemingly made up of true-ness, a love that defied time, defied age. Your story did not disappoint. From By Myself:

“No one had ever felt like that about me. It was all so dramatic, too. Always in the wee small hours when it seemed to Bogie and me that the world was ours—that we were the world. At those times, we were.”

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I hope you are together again. Bogie and Bacall.

So what to do, what to say, now that world is just a bit darker. Remember, say a prayer, and keep living. That’s all you can do.

I wanted to lighten things up today. I wanted to depart from the philosophizing, the mourning, the analyzing. I wanted to get back to running a bit. So today I’m here to talk to you about shoes. Yes, shoes.

My name is Rebecca Light, and I have a running shoe addiction.

Hi Rebecca Light. (I just love to write that out).

I keep my addiction pretty well in check, but I think about running shoes waaaay too often. It comes in waves. I’ll buy a new pair, get my fix, as it were, and I’ll be good for a few months. Then suddenly the bug will bite me all over again and I’ll see this new pair, or new model, and it will just get into my head and won’t leave.

It’s a problem.

Like I said though, I keep it pretty well in check. There are problems to acquiring running shoes, however, that really just make the addiction worse. The biggest problem being that you simply don’t know if shoes are going to work for you until you run several miles in them, and of course everyone knows that once you’ve run several miles in new shoes you can no longer return them (save a few exceptions which I’ll get to later), so every new purchase is fraught with risk and requires a great deal of research ahead of time to mitigate said risk. In short, shopping for running shoes is a big ol’ time suck.

But I love it so muuuuuuch. I thought I’d walk you through my madness a little; give you a little inside glimpse at the shoes that are running through my mind.

Let me start by saying something pretty controversial. Part of me truly believes that we have all been duped by the most ingenious marketing strategy of all time. The running shoe industry has it made. Runners are into shoes. Makes sense. It’s arguably the most important accessory a runner could purchase. I however, have been running for over 15 years and only recently taken any interest whatsoever in running shoe technology. The only criteria I would previously follow in my purchase of running shoes was did I like the color, and were they on sale? I have also never endured a use injury. I’ve fallen on my face and twisted my ankle, but only my clumsiness and lack of spacial awareness can be blamed for that. I’ve never had plantar fasciitis, no knee trouble, shin splints, or back pain. Now, I realize that perhaps the resilience of my youthful limbs has been a credit to my dodging of injury, and not my discount neon green New Balance’s from Nordstrom Rack, but who knows? Maybe we’ve all been hoodwinked by the likes of Nike and Saucony. I do know that since I started to invest more heavily in researching shoes and their respective technologies and bells/whistles, I have had some subtle pain in my arches, crinks in my lower back, and numbness in my forefeet. What gives? Perhaps it’s my 30 year old muscles and bones catching up with me, but sometimes I wonder if it’s these fandangled shoes.

There are many factors that may also contribute to my new aches and pains other than my shoes, so I don’t want to smear any names here. A little over a year ago I read Born to Run and it kind of blew my mind. It all just made so much sense. I started to change my running gait to consciously strike more on my midfoot than my heel. You may be wondering, hey Becky, if you’d never been injured and you’d been running for years why would you change anything that you’re doing? If it ain’t broke… Well, maybe you’re right. I guess after reading Born to Run and doing some more research about the concept of where you strike on your foot (I know, more research, ugh) I honestly started to believe that a midfoot strike would be a more sustainable gait. Like Haruki Murakami said “I hope that running and I can grow old together.” I didn’t want to run recklessly, getting by on the agility of my youth. I wanted to develop a stride that would last my entire life.

There’s just one problem, 99% of running shoes are not developed for a midfoot strike, they’re developed for a heel strike. I totally made up that 99% by the way. I have no idea what the actual statistic is and I’m sure it’s different now that the industry has caught on to the newer midfoot theories but you get my point. Most running shoes have that big cushy chunky heel; so purchasing discount shoes from Ross in pretty bright purple worked for me most of the time because they had that big squishy heel and I was a heel striker and so it all pretty much worked out. Now, however, I’m not striking on my heel and those shoes from TJ Maxx just don’t do the trick anymore. Have you ever tried hitting a midfoot strike in a running shoe with a big heel? It’s hard. It does not feel natural and it does not feel nice. And so, at my own doing, whether I liked it or not, I catapulted myself into the world of running shoe science by simply changing my stride; and consequently pretty much shut myself out of the easy discount shoe market. Goodbye Marshall’s. How I loved scouring you for deals.

If I was going to continue to run in this new way I really did need shoes that would accommodate. Now, if you’ve read Born to Run, you may say at this moment that the best shoe to accommodate the kind of stride is your own little footsie wootsie. To run as God intended! Barefoot through the fields! I did what all early Born to Run fans did, I went out and bought some Vibrams. I had run barefoot off and on for years once a week or so out on the beach, so it didn’t take me too long to transition into the barefoot shoes. I like them. People like to make fun of them and I really truly don’t understand that. It seems so arbitrary. Like making fun of people for wearing gloves. Is it so offensive to see articulated toes? People gotta have a reason to complain I guess.

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There’s one main reason I quickly realized however that I couldn’t run in the Vibrams full time. I’m just not there yet. I believe it truly does require being in tip top shop with an ideal bmi and proportionately built up leg and back muscles to support your frame and feet. In short, I’m just not in good enough shape right now. I’m a little overweight, and I’ve been real lazy when it comes to strength training. I’m not quite committed enough to barefoot running to do those things. And then of course there’s the secondary (and let’s be honest perhaps more important reason). Fashion. Hello. I am not prepared to say goodbye to shoes. Real shoes. Vibrams may be smart but they are not what I’d describe as cute. I know there are many runners out there who may look down on me for saying so but aesthetics are very important to me and I want to run in cute shoes. If, for example, a dude at a running store tells me THESE, these Asics are the absolute best shoes for your exact feet, but they are gray and look like they were cut out of a 1995 Jazzercise catalogue, I will not buy them. I will buy the second best pair of shoes for my feet that are a pretty shade of orange I’ve been looking for. Call me shallow. When I look good, I feel good, and when I feel good, I run good. When I run good (well), I’m happy. It all fits together. So yeah, Vibrams? Not that cute. Since I bought my pair (pictured above) I think the company caught on to the value of a good looking shoe and they’ve released some pretty new ones in pinks, yellows, and blues. I like. But I already have my pair and they aren’t worn through so I can’t justify more.

So now I find myself stuck with my sort of rather ugly Vibrams and old teal New Balances from Nordstrom Rack that have too many miles on them and too chunky of a heel. What’s a girl to do?

Buy more shoes.

I research, I surf, I scour the internet for “barefoot style” shoes or shoes with a low heel drop. The Nike Free series gets my fancy. They’re alright. And they’re cute. Maybe.

1396350097-3-nike-free-4.0-v3-women-A10I keep my options open. I keep searching. Asics is a brand I’d been interested in for awhile but most of their shoes are so chunky. However their Lyte series got my attention. Super cute, and lightweight.

asics-womens-gel-lyte-33-3-trainer-multi-p57113-7195_zoom

 

Reviews aren’t stellar on this puppy though so I keep looking. I ask around on my Facebook running group. I hear Newtons recommended. I’d never even heard of Newtons. I look them up. Behold!

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They are sooooo cute. I am in love. They are superhero shoes. AND they have a low heel-toe drop. AND they are designed with a midfoot strike in mind. AND they are suuuuper expensive.

😦

This is where Facebook is awesome. Someone in my running group works for Zappos and hooks me up with a sweet promo code. Combined with the fact that these are already on sale on the site, I got them for about 40% off. That sealed the deal.

So I’ve been running in these for about 6 months. Dammit if the bug kept on biting though. As much as I love these, I’m not sure they are enough shoe for the first ever marathon I’m about to run. After all of the research and sole searching (see what I did there?) I’ve done, I’ve determined that the best fit for me currently is one with a low heel-toe drop, a considerable amount of cushion, and LOTS of room in the toe box (I like my little piggies to spread out). With that in mind, I kept searching for the equivalent of Newtons but with more squishiness. That led me to Hoka One Ones.

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I mentioned these before. Got them at the super secret speakeasy lightly-loved shoe department at Road Runners in San Diego. They so pretty. They look like mermaid shoes. I buy them. But sadly, they’re not for me. They are in fact a bit too narrow for my wide berth feet. Also, I really jumped to the other end of the spectrum with these as far as cushioning goes. The amount of cushion on Hokas is record breaking. As squishy as it feels, it’s just a bit too much shoe for me. I will definitely use these often though, whenever I know I’ll walk a lot. These will likely be my new go-to Disneyland day shoes.

Another brand caught my attention ever since Meb won Boston. I’m as surprised as you are are, but Skechers caught my eye. The last time I liked Skechers as a brand, Clinton was in office and I had Backstreet Boys posters on my wall. Let’s be honest, they haven’t been cool since 1995. Maybe with the younger set, but we children of the 80s and 90s moved on. In the past few year they’ve actually kind of repulsed me as a company. Shape-Ups were such blatant hucksterism, they made me angry. How dare you promise women that they will tone up their tushes just by wearing your shoes to work. And Bob’s are such a blatant ripoff of Tom’s that I’m actually embarrassed for them. Really? Bob’s?

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Maybe they deserve a bit of credit for the brazenness of their ability to ripoff another company. Can’t say they’re not bold. Needless to say though, the ethics of this company remained questionable in my eyes. But then they took a chance on Meb. Meb, too old for any other major sponsors to pick him up. Meb, everyone else thought he was probably done. Skechers, undeniably an underdog in the running shoe market, took a chance. I respect that. And damn, it paid off.

boston-marathon

 

Not to mention that Skechers had also hired one of the designers of the Nike Free project to come in and work on their GoRun series. They were interested in minimalist running. I started to get the impression that Skechers was really taking this whole running shoe thing seriously. Top that with a Best Debut Shoe award in Runner’s World, an incredibly affordable price tag and super cute design (I know! Skechers! Cute! I can’t believe it either), they really got my attention. So I bought them of course.

2766750-p-4x

Took them out for 4 miles last night and I have some things to say. They are super lightweight. I love that! After veering minimalist I can’t stand too much shoe. They have a decent amount of cushion in all the right places. A low heel-toe drop and plenty of cushion in the midfoot (something I actually miss in my Newtons). Unfortunately I think I got the wrong size. They were a bit snug in the toe-box so in my quest for the perfect Rebecca shoe, that’s where these may just come up short. I exchanged them for a larger size so we’ll see if that helps. If not, I may just add them to the pile of walking shoes I’m acquiring (with all these shoes I should become a walker instead of a runner).

So what to do? Marathon training is fast approaching and I feel like I haven’t found that Goldilocks shoe. Not too tight, not too bulky, not too flat, not too squishy. It’s tough, but there is one more brand I’m going to investigate before I declare my Newtons the victors. Altra. I don’t know y’all, I think these may be winners. I have a funny feeling about these. And by funny I mean good.

Altra

 

They also really help make my decision for me as to what costume I’d wear for the Walt Disney World Marathon. Can you guess?

So what are Altras? Altras are unique in that they boast a ZERO heel-toe drop differential. That means there is absolutely no incline from the forefoot all the way back. I love that. It’s like, you know, a foot. What a concept! However, they do provide a decent amount of cushioning without entering Hoka honka territory. Also among their technical specs is a “foot shaped design.” I swear, that sounds so ridiculous to me. Shouldn’t all running shoes be “foot shaped?” Have we interfered so much with the natural design of the human foot that we now have to point it out when we create a shoe in harmony with our own shape? It’s hilarious, and sort of sad. But I’m glad Altra does it. That means there should be lots of room in the toe box for those little piglets (that’s a hint for the answer to my question above) to splay out as I run. I get these on Saturday. Can’t wait to try them out and to report back to the 2 people who are still reading this.

In the quest for the Golden Goose of shoes I also picked up some Mizuno Wave Sayonaras. Mizunos have a huge following. Runners who wear them love them. I hate them. Well, hate is a strong word. I really really really dislike them for running. For style and for, you guessed it, walking, they are great. So I’ll still wear them a lot. But they are so stiff and although they are light in weight they feel heavy on my feet. Brad actually noticed how clompy I sounded on our first run where I was wearing these. I felt like an elephant. It was so bizarre. I attribute their clompiness, a technical term, to how stiff they are, how snug in the upper, and how little forefoot cushioning they offer. I think Mizunos are better designed for a super speedy heel striker, not a slow, slightly overweight, midfoot runner. They’re super cute though.

womens-mizuno-wave-sayonara-cabbage-orchid-bouquet-aurora-363307_366_45

 

Don’t they look tropical? They remind me of Tahiti. I wanted them to be the shoes that got me to Tahiti :(. Alas, add to the walking pile.

That’s my shoe obsession in a nutshell! Sooooo interesting right? I know. You’re welcome.

Happy running!

 

Lactic Acid, the Hero We Need

This past week I made some bold moves on the internet. I started threads on Facebook about the perhaps most contentious discussions of the moment: vaccinations, breastfeeding, and Woody Allen. I figured I’d bring the controversy to my blog. There are many topics to choose from: stretching vs. not stretching before a run, Gu vs. gummy bears, how much water is too much water, and of course everyone’s favorite controversy, barefoot running. I’d like to touch on all of these subjects eventually; stir up the runner’s pot a bit. Today however I embark upon a quest to understand the misunderstood. To set the record straight. To defend the maligned, the convicted, the discredited. Today I write in defense of lactic acid.

This subject may not be as interesting to anyone you as it is to me. Sooo, sorry about that. I merely want to share my revelation. I will say that my allusions on social media to writing this article have been met with keen interest from fellow runners so hopefully my painstaking research will shed some light on a mysterious topic. Much more mysterious than I even could have imagined.

Living in an age where we’re making eyeglasses with computer screens in them and talking about using nano robots for microsurgery, I just assumed that we had a pretty decent handle on the basic chemical functions of the body. I was wrong. Of course we know a great deal, but so much is still a mystery. We can land a robot on Mars, but we can’t quite get to the bottom of lactic acid’s processes in our body. And I’m not just talking about me and my effort to understand. I’m talking about the established medical community. I’ve spent the past week reading warring medical journals online. The tete a tetes between disagreeing doctors is nothing short of hilarious.

After diligently researching the subject by reading countless medical journals, I feel confident that I understand what’s going on with my body when I run.

You read that right. I read medical journals. This right-brained theatre major who took anatomy senior year of high school because chemistry was just too hard for her, read articles in the American Journal of Physiology titled things like “Biochemistry of exercise-induced metabolic acidosis.” I felt like I was reading another language, but it was an incredible exercise for the brain. My brain felt like my legs do after a half marathon!

I’ll link to all of my references at the bottom of this article if you’d like to partake.

On to lactic acid. First, let me take a step back for a moment. I had a rough run at last month’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon. Despite feeling fairly trained and ready to race, about 5 minutes after crossing the finish line I felt that I’d been hit by a truck. I learned that much of this was probably due to sleep deprivation, but others advised me that I was also displaying symptoms of lactic acid build-up. I’d heard that before. We’re runners. We’ve all heard that and thrown it around ourselves. “Oh, that’s lactic acid.” Eeevil lactic acid. I hadn’t given it much of a second thought before, but I felt so frustrated by the outcome of the Tinker Bell race that I began to question. Why? Why, when I need my body to do everything it can to throw me a bone in a strenuous situation, why would it create a substance that would make me feel like I was dying? I thought I’d do a little research and find a simple answer. I was wrong.

Lactic acid has become a catch-all to describe an incredibly, INCREDIBLY, complicated set of chemical processes in the body. The truth that I think I’ve begun to uncover is that lactic acid is not guilty of all that we attribute to it.

First of all, here are some myths that need busting:

  • Lactic Acid is responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
  • Lactic Acid causes cramping
  • Lactic Acid can be expelled from the body through sports massage
  • Lactic Acid causes long-term muscle fatigue
  • Lactic Acid is a waste product
  • Lactic Acid is your worst enemy

These are all untrue. In fact lactic acid is created to help you. I’ll explain more on these misconceptions in a minute but first, a science lesson. To truly harness the power of lactic acid in your training you must understand how it works in the body.

*Disclaimer* What I’m about to describe is an incredibly complicated chemical process and I’m basically boiling it down to a very simple few steps. So all you O-chem students out there don’t write me letters about how I didn’t accurately represent the Krebs Cycle. I know I know already. Just trying to keep it simple.

I drew. I channeled my inner Allie Brosh and I drew some accompanying diagrams to aid this science lesson. They are crude and awful, but hopefully helpful. Like I said, right-brained visual thinker over here.

We begin our story. It’s a tale of an unsung hero, saving our muscles from collapse when the world around us begs our demise. This world we’ve entered is a world of exercise.

When we exercise, our bodies need energy. Well, our bodies ALWAYS need energy just to live but specifically we need a lot when we exercise. That energy comes in the form of ATP, which shall henceforth be represented by this magical ATP butterfly.

ATP Butterfly.png

We create ATP in our bodies either Aerobically or Anaerobically. When we’re just walking around and sitting and sleeping and eating and living our normal lives, we create ATP Aerobically which means, you guessed it, with oxygen.

During Aerobic creation of ATP, our bodies break down GLUCOSE through a process called GLYCOLYSIS. Through that breakdown of GLUCOSE we meet our next player in this story, PYRUVATE. PYRUVATE is the gatekeeper to our metabolic process, doling out the goods to make ATP. He shall henceforth be represented by this purple helper monster.

Pyruvate Monster

Pyruvate then enters a process called the Krebs Cycle which is way too complicated and chemistry-y for me to go into. Basically what you end up with is ATP. Yay!

Running Girl

Which requires:

Energy

Since it’s an easy run, the kind where I can carry out a conversation the entire time, my body is going to produce ATP mostly through Aerobic Metabolism:

Aerobic ATP production

ATP Gives Energy

And then the ATP gets used up and recycled to begin the process all over again. It’s very efficient and miraculous. Good job body!

But we’re athletes. They aren’t all easy runs. So what happens when we want to push it to the max?

Running Fast

Oxygen gets harder and harder to come by (you know that feeling of asphyxiation when you sprint?), and yet our bodies don’t give up. We kick in to Anaerobic Metabolism.

In that scenario, our body still needs ATP. We begin the process of GLYCOLYSIS to create PYRUVATE. Because we’re kicking it into high gear and using all of our oxygen, we can’t keep up with the demand for ATP via the Krebs Cycle. So instead PYRUVATE creates… LACTIC ACID! Hurray! You’ve been waiting for her to make her entrance.

Good ‘ol lactic acid then gets turned into LACTATE. Now here is where our real star is born. All this talk of lactic acid is misleading, the real actor in this whole scenario is LACTATE. Henceforth LACTATE shall be known as this pink superhero monster:

Lactate Superhero

I heard someone needed a boost!

LACTATE is able to fill in the gap where OXYGEN left us hanging and continues the process to provide our bodies with much needed ATP for exertion. Thank you LACTATE.

Like any good superhero, he has his nemesis. Enter: HYDROGEN ION. HYDROGEN IONS are also known as CATIONS, which lets be honest is an incredibly cool name for a super villain. Enter CATION!

Hydrogren Monster

I will crush you with my free floating molecules.

So here’s his story. The breakdown of Lactic Acid to LACTATE yields a build up of HYDROGEN IONS in the body. In the aerobic process these HYDROGEN IONS get balanced out and the body maintains a neutral pH; but some things get a little hanky in the anaerobic process. LACTATE, as useful as he may be to our ability to sprint and push ourselves, is left wanting when it comes to fighting HYDROGEN ION aka CATION. And so with all of these free HYDROGEN molecules floating around in the body, our muscles are left with an unbalanced pH, i.e. an acidic environment.

Anaerobic Metabolism

This acidic environment is sometimes referred to as Lactic Acidosis or Muscular Acidosis. THIS is what is happening when we feel like crap during or right after a hard run and we curse the name LACTIC ACID. What we really should be shouting is “Curse you CATION!!!”

LACTATE just can't fight off HYDROGEN ION

LACTATE just can’t fight off his nemesis CATION

So yeah, despite LACTATE’s best efforts to help us and give us energy to keep running, wicked CATION has turned our muscles into his own personal acidic wasteland. A wasteland known as Muscular Acidosis. The symptoms of Muscular Acidosis are:

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Hyperventilation
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Severe Anemia
  • Hypotension
  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)

All LACTATE was trying to do was get us our ATP when we ran out of OXYGEN, and sneaky HYDROGEN ION busts in there and causes all the problems and then blames it on LACTATE. The injustice.

In a very elementary nutshell, that is why our bodies produce LACTATE (or Lactic Acid if we want to go back to using the more umbrella term) when we run. The moral of the story is that, although the by-product can be incredibly uncomfortable, LACTATE is there to help us perform under strenuous circumstances. LACTATE helps push our bodies beyond the confines of pedestrian oxygen and tests our mettle. He may not be the hero we always want, but he certainly is the hero we need.

He cannot work alone however. In order for LACTATE to work efficiently, we need to work together. This is where smart training comes into play.

LACTATE is an elusive superhero. He leaves us almost as quickly as he arrives, and luckily takes his nemesis HYDROGEN ION with him. Within approximately one hour after a strenuous workout all of the LACTATE in your body will have been metabolized either by the heart, the liver, or even through your sweat. However that can be an uncomfortable hour if you’re in a state of Acidosis. So what we need to do is to make sure that our bodies don’t produce LACTATE faster than we can clear it. It’s like a game of Dr. Mario. You always want to make sure you’re clearing out those pills faster than Dr. Mario is throwing them at you. If you get behind, suddenly there’s a major build-up and you die. It’s just like that, except for hopefully not the dying part.

dr-mario-classic-nes-series-20040810082856155_640w

Now I will list the main steps we must take to make sure we’re using LACTATE to benefit us.

  1. Physical Fitness
    • There is no doubt that the better shape you’re in, the better off you’ll be, so take your training very seriously. The better the shape you’re in the less LACTATE your body will need to produce in order produce ATP, and thus the less likelihood of a build-up situation where you can’t clear it as fast as you’re making it. Being in tip top shape is like playing a Beginner Level of Dr. Mario. Easy peasy and fun. To GET in this kind of shape you’ll need:
  2. OBLA Training
    • You have to GET in really good shape. You have to GET really good at Dr. Mario. So what you need to do is train at a high level. When we’re talking about Lactic Acid tolerance, we’re talking about OBLA training. This stands for Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation. In OBLA Training you will run as fast as you possibly can while still maintaining an Aerobic environment. You’ll be at that threshold before your body crosses over into Anaerobic mode. What this does is keeps your body at that level where lactic acid production is *just* below lactic acid clearance. So you can push yourself athletically without evil CATION taking his grip. This is key because the more you exercise at the OBLA level, you’ll slowly start to increase where that threshold is and you’ll be using lactate as efficiently as possible without entering that Lactic Acidosis territory where your muscles stop working and you feel like you want to vomit. OBLA Training is like playing Dr. Mario at EXTREME DIFFICULTY and being REALLY good at it. Those pills are coming down fast but you’re *juuuust* able to stay ahead of the game and clear them out. Sorry if these metaphors are getting old but the Dr. Mario thing really works for me.
  3. Cool Down
    • To me this may be the most valuable of all, and often the most difficult to accomplish in a race environment. If you’re in a situation where your body is producing a lot of Lactic Acid, the more you keep moving and breathing the quicker that Lactic Acid is going to clear from your system and the better you’ll feel. So if you’ve got yourself in a pickle where you have too much LACTATE and his nemesis HYDROGEN ION, give yourself another half mile or so to cool down with an easy jog. As I said, this can be hard during a race because once you cross that finish line you find yourself in a sea of people and photos and medals and spectators and BLAH. Cooling down is basically not an option. What I now know happened to me at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon is I pushed it reeeeally hard the last two miles because I’m dumb and stubborn. I was already at my max and then I pushed it beyond and produced what I’m sure was a shit-ton of Lactic Acid during those last two miles. I then crossed the finish line and BAM! It was like hitting a brick wall at full speed while driving a truck full of flammable liquid. Kaboom. CATION took hold.
    • In training this isn’t a problem. Run your scheduled distance at your planned level of exertion, then jog for another half mile or so to cool down. Do some gentle stretching, some walking, and some deep breathing. In a race this is harder to do, but I have a solution. Let’s use the half marathon as an example. What I recommend is, if you want to push yourself, make sure you do it by mile 11. At that point you really should use mile 12 and 13 to run your comfortable half marathon pace, and use the last half mile to really cool down, whether that’s a gentle jog or even walking, depending on your level of fitness. I know that sounds so unappealing when all you want to do is BURST through that Finish Line, but let me tell you from experience. When you’ve got Lactic Acid build up in your body, that line is an illusion. What it really is, is a brick wall. Don’t be fooled.

Let me get back to a few of those myths I listed at the beginning of the article. Most of them should have been dispelled throughout, but just to make sure we clear LACTATE’s good name:

  • Lactic Acid is responsible for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
    • FALSE – as I mentioned earlier, Lactic Acid is completely cleared from the body within 60 minutes of finishing exercise, so there’s no way it’s responsible for the soreness you feel 24 and even 48 hours after your run. Lactic Acid has an alibi! She was busy being metabolized into glucose by the liver!
  • Lactic Acid causes cramping
    • FALSE – mysteriously enough, there is no scientific consensus as to what causes cramping. Most scientists agree however that it has to do with lack of oxygen to muscle tissue. Since Lactic Acid is created to fill in the gap where oxygen is left out, essentially trying to help by continuing to create ATP, it doesn’t contribute to cramping. Essentially they are separate issues in the body.
  • Lactic Acid can be expelled from the body through sports massage
    • FALSE – studies have shown that athletes who underwent a sports massage after a hard workout displayed the same levels of LACTATE remaining in the body as athletes who did nothing after their workout. Still, if I were the latter athletes in that study, I would’ve certainly felt like I got the short end of the stick. There’s no doubt that massages are awesome! Just not gonna help you clear lactic acid.
  • Lactic Acid causes long-term muscle fatigue
    • FALSE – see first myth. There’s nothing long-term about Lactic Acid.
  • Lactic Acid is a waste product
    • FALSE – for shame! Everything that LACTATE does to keep our engines burning and we dare to call him a waste? Sorry LACTATE.
  • Lactic Acid is your worst enemy
    • FALSE – hopefully everything I’ve said in this article has shown you that this really is not true. Though that HYDROGEN ION aka CATION sure can be a stinker.

Lactate SuperheroHydrogren Monster

In summary, Lactic Acid is your friend. Lactic Acid is the mother of LACTATE and LACTATE is your hero when you want to excel your physical fitness to the next level. LACTATE continues production of ATP, is an excellent source of liver glycogen, and like all good heroes, he knows when to leave. He arrives when PYRUVATE raises the signal, does his job, and is gone within the hour. Unfortunately we can’t have a superhero without a supervillain, and CATION fills that role nicely. He tags along with the production of Lactic Acid and makes LACTATE look bad. His free floating Hydrogen Ions turn our comfortable muscles into an acidic wasteland known as Lactic or Muscular Acidosis. But his grip is weak. As LACTATE makes his exit, CATION is dragged out with him, leaving our muscles where they belong, in a pH balanced environment. He may not always get the credit he deserves, but for all of you ambitious athletes out there, LACTATE is a special little chemical hero.

References

your half-marathon must haves, a checklist

The date is fast-approaching! There are about 15,000 runners out there who in just 12 days will be gearing up to run a half marathon!  I’m no pro, and I don’t have a degree in physical therapy or any professional experience with athletics, so I rarely feel like I can give proper advice about things like injuries or technique. I’m just a girl who’s been running for 15 years, some years more robustly than others, and the only advice I have to offer is what has worked for me. It may work for some, won’t work for others. Every runner is different! Today I offer such advice as you prep and pack for your trip to Disneyland! I’d like to share with you some of my must-have items for Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. This checklist should apply to any half-marathon really. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick out the Disney specific items 🙂 (e.g. you probably don’t need to bring your Mickey Mouse Ears to the ING NYC Marathon).

Let’s start from head to toe:

1.  Hats! I never know when sunglasses are going to give me a headache, so it’s best to have a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. My runDisney hats are my favorite of course:

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

You’ll want a hat that’s lightweight and has some mesh along the sides that breathe.  Case in point, don’t just go running a half marathon in a regular old baseball hat. After a while you’ll start to feel like you’ve got a winter cap on your head! Visors are a great option because they don’t trap the heat (heat escapes from the top of your head so hats can be tricky on a really hot day). Visors aren’t so much my style but I could learn to embrace them. Maybe they’ll have some at the Health & Fitness Expo!

2. Sweaty Bands. I loooove sweaty bands! I first discovered them at the Dland Half Health & Fitness Expo a couple of years ago and they’re kind of like magic. If you don’t need or want to wear a hat or visor but still want to keep your hair out of your face, you must invest in some Sweaty Bands. They are basically just headbands but the underside is made of this magic velvety material and they DO. NOT. SLIP. I wore one last year when I ran as Alice in Wonderland and the thing didn’t budge once. Nor did it squeeze my head or bother me in any way. Love these things!

proud with our medals

black sparkly Sweaty Band

sweaty-bands3. Hair Ties. This one is for the long-haired ladies and gents. The first year I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon I completely forgot to bring hair ties! You probably wouldn’t make the same glaring oversight but I wanted to mention it juuuuust in case. I was scrambling at 10 pm the night before the race trying to find some hair elastics!

4. Sunglasses. This one is particularly important for the Disneyland Half Marathon. The way the course is laid out, you exit the parks and run east into Anaheim RIGHT as the sun is coming up. The timing is worse depending on what corral you’re in and what time you actually start the race, but for MOST runners you’re going to get stuck right in the eye line of a rising sun. The first year I ran I had to borrow Brad’s sunglasses for this portion. My eyes are super sensitive and his aren’t so much, so he took pity on me. One year we ran the race it was really overcast for most of the morning (as it often is in SoCal) and it wasn’t as much of a problem, but you just never know so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You want to be sure and get athletic sunglasses specifically, and test them out on a run beforehand. A lot of glasses will bounce on your face or fog up when you run and trust me, both are very annoying. Find a pair that work with your stride. Sunglasses.

check

check

5. Sunscreen. Speaking of protection from those UV rays, don’t forget to lay on some sunscreen. You’ll be outside running for 3+ hours. Skin cancer is bad! Brad and I really like the Neutrogena sunscreen shown below. There is nothing worse than sweating sunscreen into your eyes during a run (ouch that burns!) and this one doesn’t seem to do that. It works for us. Also, here’s a pro-tip for you: don’t be fooled by a high SPF number. Anything over 30, i.e. SPF 50, 75, 85, is negligible and is just a marketing ploy put in place by manufacturers to get you to buy their product and charge you more. True story. You’re good with SPF 30. Also make sure to get a broad spectrum sunscreen which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. That is much more important than a high SPF.

neutrogena-ultimate-sport-lotion-sunscreen-broad-spectrum-spf-30

6. Chapstick. I hate running with chapped lips! It makes me feel like I’m running through a desert and desperate for water. I’m usually fine if I put some on before the run. I don’t need to bring it in my fuel belt; but if you’re particularly prone to chapped lips, go ahead and bring a stick on the run.

7. Vaseline. Chafing is no joke people. This is an important one you don’t want to forget! Weak spots for ladies tend to be under the ta-tas right where your sports bra sits. Men, it’s more so on the nips. I personally also get chafing spots on my tricep area, which I’m sure means I need to work a little harder to get rid of those chicken cutlets I’ve got dangling (we can’t all be Michelle Obama!). A lot of people buy fancy athletic anti-chafing stuff like Body Glide, but I’ve never tried it. I’ve heard mixed reviews so I’ve never sprung the extra dough for it. There are a lot of options out there. This article from an ultra-runner gives a great breakdown of different products you can try. You have to see what works for you. Me, I use Vaseline. Works like a charm. I don’t love the idea of smothering petroleum all over my breast area but it’s better than chafing. A lot of people don’t like to use Vaseline because they say it stains their clothes. I guess it depends where you need to apply it. So far I haven’t noticed any staining on my sports bras or running shirts, so I’m going to stick with Vaseline. It’s cheap and easy to find.

8. Clothes! An obvious and very important item. You may be so excited to prep and pack your awesome running costume that you completely forget to pack the athletic clothing that goes with it. Also make sure you bring running clothes that you know don’t bother you. For example I have a couple of sports bras that are way more comfortable than others so I’m going to be sure that they are laundered and ready to be packed. Plan ahead. You’re going to want your most comfortable sports bras, undies, socks, etc. I also like to bring a spare of most things. You just never know! Don’t forget to also pack a swimsuit so you can luxuriate by the pool after your race!

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

The good news is that if you forget anything, there is a Target right down the street from Disneyland so you can pick up pretty much any clothing item you may need.

9. Fuel Belt. Everyone requires different amounts of water at different times on a long race, but I’m just going to tell you from my personal experience, I really don’t think you need to bring water on your fuel belt. RunDisney races are so well fueled. I’ve never ever been thirsty. Every time I feel like I really want a drink of water, there’s a water station right around the corner. Also, through the parks you will run past several water fountains. Water on my belt weighs me down and slows me down. I only wear it when I absolutely have to, like times that I know there won’t be a lot of water along my route. All that being said, I do still wear a belt, just minus the water, and I’d recommend you wear one too. It’s a must for holding various things you probably will need like an iPod, phone, earbuds, ID, gels, etc. The hard part is trying to find one that will match your running costume 😉

10. Phone/Camera. You will most likely want to snap at least a few pics along the course. Especially if it’s your first runDisney race! The parks look so lovely with all of the runners racing through, and they have so much entertainment along the course. Even the city of Anaheim provides a lot of great entertainment throughout the city. I just bring my phone which doubles as my music and camera. It’d be a bit much to have an iPod and a camera, though there are those who do it. Snapping pics with your phone will drain the battery faster, so there’s that.

11. Earbuds. You’ll be so sad to reach for your iPod to start your kick-ass running playlist only to discover you forgot your headphones. Wah wah waahhh. My absolute favorite brand is Yurbuds. I have been on a quest for YEARS to find earbuds that don’t fall out when I run. Never really found a winning pair, until now. I’ve been wearing my pink Yurbuds for a year and they have never ever fallen out while running. Not even once. They are awesome.

Yurbuds-Ironman-Series-Pink-HSDyurbuds1

12. Compression socks/sleeves. I really love to wear compression socks on a long run. I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel like I recover much quicker when I run long with compression socks. Pro Compression socks are nice. They’ll also have a good selection at the Health & Fitness Expo if you want to wait and buy some when you get there.

pro-compression-purplehigh-compression-socks-from-pro-compression

13. Shoes! It would be pretty silly to forget your running shoes on your trip to a race, but I’m sure it’s happened! And you know what, it’s totally something I would do. I haven’t yet, but there’s a first time for everything. So I’m saying it here, don’t forget your shoes! And make sure you bring a pair that you’ve already broken in. You may be tempted to buy a brand new glistening pair of sneaks to commemorate your half marathon, but you do NOT want to run 13.1 miles in new shoes. Blisters! You’ve got to give yourself a few weeks to break in those puppies. Make sure to pack your race shoes, as well as whatever shoes you’re going to wear AFTER the race and in the parks. Your feet might be pretty swollen from running 13.1 miles so you might want to bring some comfortable walking sandals to wear on the following days. Give those ol’ dogs a chance to get back to their normal size 🙂

14. Running Fuel. You’ll get a Clif Shot, which is basically Gu, at mile 9, but if you’re like me and the mere sound of the word Gu makes your stomach turn, you’ll need to bring your own fuel. At Jeff Galloway’s suggestion, I use gummy bears! They work like a charm. Recently I tried a Honey Stinger Waffle on a 12 mile run and it was actually quite delicious and didn’t upset my stomach, so I recommend those as well. You can also try Clif Shot Blocks. They are nowhere near as gross as Gu, but they still provide replenishing electrolytes. Sometimes I’ll have one or two of these on a long run and they don’t bother my tummy too much.

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15. First Aid. Hopefully you won’t really need any first aid from running your half marathon but you might get a blister or two and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be sore. Really smart to bring the essentials: band-aids, ibuprofen (or whatever pain reliever you prefer), antibacterial wipes. If you want to get more advanced, throw in an ACE bandage, some neosporin, an ice pack, or even some biofreeze. If you’re struggling with a running injury, I HIGHLY recommend you get some KT Tape for the run. It’s kind of like magic. They’ll have a booth at the Health & Fitness Expo and you can have one of their reps apply it for you. In short, it’s a very flexible synthetic tape that works optimally with your body movement. As you move, the tape lifts your skin away from your muscle allowing for more flexibility and circulation to the injured area, while also providing support without constricting movement. It kind of helps your body heal itself.  You remember Kerri Walsh in the Summer Olympics:

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15. Park stuff. Are you going into the parks after your race?? I hope so! The best part is parading around in your awesome runDisney bling and/or race shirt so all of the cast members and guests can say congratulations to you! Also, Disneyland, duh. You didn’t travel all this way to run past Radiator Springs Racers but not RIDE it! So make sure to pack your park stuff. Comfy walking clothes, shoes, hats, and a backpack or fanny pack or comfortable bag you don’t mind lugging around all day. And of course, don’t forget your Mickey Mouse ears!

In review, here is your list:

  • Hat/Visor
  • Sweaty Bands or other headband to keep hair out of your face
  • Hair elastics (for the long-haired runners)
  • Running Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Vaseline or other anti-chafing gel
  • Running clothes: your most comfy
  • Swimsuit
  • Running belt
  • Phone and/or Camera and/or iPod
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Compression socks
  • Broken in running shoes
  • Extra socks, undies, sports bras
  • Walking sandals
  • Running fuel: Gu, sport beans, gummy bears, Clif Shot Bloks, etc.
  • First Aid: band-aids, pain relievers, antibacterial wipes
  • Park gear: backpack, Mickey Ears, comfy walking clothes, etc.

There you have it. Your basic checklist of things to pack for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Did I forget anything? Add on to the list by commenting below. Help other runners prepare for this awesome weekend!