Thursday, January 23, 2014

Energy Bits Review

A week or two ago I got a little present in the mail. A little can of Energy Bits to try. I had responded to a twitter call out for anybody who would like to try Energy Bits. I raised my virtual hand and said, "me... me... me."

I love trying new things and sharing with you what I learn.
The packaging is super cute.
What are Energy Bits?
Honestly the best way to learn about Energy Bits is to read about them on their very own website but I'll give you the basic info here to get you started. They are Spirulina Tablets.

What is Spirulina?
For entertainment go ahead and google Spirulina. There is a wealth of information online (and also most likely mis-information too). Spirulina is sometimes called a superfood but there is so much crazy hype about it that it does set off my snake oil sensors. In the end, I am thinking it's probably a good addition to any diet if you can tolerate it.

This is actually not my first go around with Spirulina. I had purchased a bottle of Spirulina powder months ago but was not really able to stomach it.
My first try at Spirulina.

To be specific - spirulina is a cyanobacterium that can be consumed by humans and other animals.

It is an amazing plant - one of the few that include a complete protein. Usually it's considered a supplement and like many supplements some of the concerns are related to how it might be harvested and processed.

Even fans of Spirulina will concede that the toughest thing about it is that it's not terribly appetizing. As a powder it turns anything you put it in green and it has a distinct "green" flavor.

I had my kids sniff the energy bits - they agreed it's stinky. They didn't want to eat them :-) But in my experience when swallowed with a sip of water there is no smell or taste.

My personal experience
I got my sample just before a 19 mile run. I didn't try it on that run because I don't like to try new things on long runs. Instead, I tried it on my recovery run on Monday morning. The instructions are to take 30 tablets 10-15 minutes before the exercise.

Confession: I'm not actually good at taking pills. I try not to take medicine or supplements so I don't get a lot of practice.  So, I didn't get all 30 tablets down before the first run. I made it through 20. I stopped because my stomach was pretty full of water. I had about a glass and a half with one sip per tablet.  I went for my run. I was pretty burpy and a little queasy. I didn't run out of energy during the run but it wasn't a long run.

When I got back from this run I asked my contact at Energy Bits how their endurance athletes used bits on longer training and racing activities. I couldn't imagine carrying and swallowing 30 tablets every hour. He told me that for over an hour they do recommend another source of fuel. This might be because each tablet is only about 1 calorie so 30 tablets - 30 calories.  He did refer me to Pinterest to see other athletes who use bits - they say Powered by Bits  - but I don't use Pinterest so I didn't check that out.
that's 30 tablets. They are approximately the size of a round ibuprofen or aspirin. Not too big.

I tried it again for my tempo run a few days later. I did actually get all 30 tablets down this time by taking them 2 at a time. My stomach was again uncomfortably full of water when I started and I had spirulina flavored burps again. About 15 minutes into the run I was a little queasy. It didn't make me stop but I didn't love the feeling. I would normally take a gu during my tempo runs and I'd love to say that the bits fueled me completely during the run but quite honestly 4 miles into a 6 mile run I was out of gas. To avoid confusion I hadn't taken any Gu with me so I just rested a bit and came home slow.

One of the things I wondered was could I even be digesting these bits in enough time to help me fuel for the run. But I dropped it into a little bit of water and in just three minutes it began to break apart so I do think it digests fast enough to work quickly during exercise. I just think my body doesn't take to it very well.
This is after just 3 minutes sitting in water. My super non-scientific experiment on whether it might digest.

I tried it one last time with a smaller dosage. Again I got the burbs and an upset stomach. Sadly as much as I would like to say that these worked for me they didn't.  But that doesn't mean that they won't work for you. Sports nutrition is a distinctly personal thing. If you're curious about Energy Bits as I was you should give them a try. There are several folks who swear by these Energy Bits. Just because it didn't work for me just means it didn't work for me.

About the company
Normally, this wouldn't really be a part of a product review but with Spirulina if you read online about it some of the concerns are related to how it's produced. While I don't know these guys at Energy Bits personally I want to say that they are professional, responsive and generally seem like good people. I personally have no concerns about the quality of the product. 

Want some bits of your own?
ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, and Jonathan (their Brand Manager) has shared with me that he'd be happy to connect anyone with a current ambassador to share a discount on a bag of bits - you can email him at jlevitt@energybits.com




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

9-weeks to the Rome Marathon and a trip to Legoland Florida

So, the Rome marathon is right around the corner.

Training is going fine. We're having our "winter" this week in Miami. It's been cool and windy and a little rainy as the cold fronts move through. So I lost one workout last week to rain and poor planning but otherwise training is progressing nicely.

Saturday brought a 16 mile run which was pretty good. It was nice and cool out so that was a welcome change. I wore pants! Pants! We saw a beautiful sunrise over the key and that's awesome.
This is a memorial for Meg. #megsmiles She was a runner who was hit by a drunk driver this past week while out on her run. She was a mom. Many people even me dedicated their weekend runs to her. Possibly my impromptu trip idea came from thinking about making a special memory for my kids. Who knows. I did not tell my kids about Meg - they don't need to worry about stuff like that yet.

After my run I came home and we surprised the kids with an impromptu trip to Legoland. My kids have been working really hard on some individual things and with this long weekend I had this idea to surprise them. It was really fun. We brought them to the table and told them we wanted to reward them with a trip to Legoland. We asked them when we should go and they said how about tomorrow but they were kidding. Then we said how about right now, go get in the car. They didn't believe us at first but then they were very excited. It was a fun surprise and even now that it's over they both said the surprise was the best part of the weekend.

During the drive my husband - let's call him Mario for this story - decided to go above the speed limit. His name is not Mario. He did get pulled over by the State Trooper. He did get a ticket and we did get a flat tire at the same time.
It is hard for people who don't know us to understand how hysterical this whole traffic ticket, flat tire story is. It was a classic family moment. State trooper to the left, tow truck to the right.

My husband is able to change a tire but the truck is huge, the tires are huge and sadly the jack provided just doesn't quite cut the mustard. At it's full extension there wasn't clearance to put the spare tire on. Enter AAA to the rescue. I had called them at the start. And at each moment of challenge my husband had me call to check on them. They arrived about an hour after I called. I promise you it took them 3 minutes to finish the job.
Legoland opens at 10. We're up at 6:30 so there was plenty of time between breakfast at iHop and opening time to get the tire replaced which made me feel better about the drive home.

This is my 3rd flat tire in about 18 months. Borrring.

Back on the road we made it to our hotel. My husband likes to be adventurous and choose charming local hotels. This hardly ever works out in a good way. We stayed at the Lake Roy Beach Inn. This hotel could best be described as ... old. It did have a beautiful lake that it overlooked and if the weather is warmer that would have been great fun.
Nice pool, nice lake. Sadly I couldn't sleep outside on a lounge chair because it was 38 degrees at night. I swear my pillow was made from sawdust. Let's just not talk about the shower.

Legoland itself is a fun time. It's not nearly as popular as the other parks and so the lines were basically nonexistent which is great. My least favorite thing about Disney and Universal is the 30-45 minute lines. Seriously, in my opinion almost nothing is worth waiting that long.

Legoland is geared to a younger crowd. 5-12 years old. At first my kids said some attractions were too babyish. But after a bit they got over it. There are no huge roller coasters but the coasters are still fun.

My son was really into trading his little mini figurines with the staff members. The staff members were all super nice and helpful. He really wanted to find a mini-Emmet which is the main character from the upcoming movie. Two separate staffers felt through about 100 little bags of $3 mini figurines to find him one to buy. It was sweet.

My second least favorite thing about Disney/Universal is that each and every ride ends in a gift shop which forces a parent to say "no" about 1000 extra times per visit. Thankfully Legoland has not gone this way. Also the gift shop sells lego sets. They are super expensive but at least we left with 2 toys rather than a shirt or another stuffed animal.

This is driving school. My son loved it. They are little electric carts that look like they are made of legos. They put the kids through driving school first and then they drive around on a cityscape with real stop lights and stop signs and stuff. It's very cute because the kids take the driving rules very seriously and they sit calmly at the stoplights. Driving in the lanes was clearly a little beyond their grasp. The older kids were pretending to talk and text while driving. Funny stuff. The carts go about 1 mile per hour my daughter was bored silly.
I thought the food options were better than other theme parks. Nothing fancy and still mightily overpriced but I felt the options were okay. We didn't plan enough ahead but they are very open to guests bringing in their own sandwiches and stuff. There were lots of families having picnic lunches.

Mini land where they have built several attractions at 1/20th scale out of legos (like the NY skyline and Vegas strip and Golden Gate bridge) is a lot of fun to walk through. Also the huge lego sculptures around the park are lots of fun.
This is a full-size Ford Explorer built of legos. It was right outside driving school and I thought it was very impressive.

Legoland was built where the old Cypress Gardens attraction was. It was actually a theme park before Disney and has a botanical garden. As our last 2 activities we watched a lego themed waterski show which was great and walked through the botanical gardens. It was a good trip. Then we headed home.

My cypress gardens image was photobombed by someone else's kid. Harumph! :-)
Things to know if you go to Legoland. Bring a few mini figurines to trade with staffers. We didn't know about this so I bought the kids mini figurines to trade on the first day. Staffers will always trade with the kids - it's fun. Also about 1/2 the park is water rides which were closed (of course) when we visited. If we went again we'd go when the water park was open. On weekdays they have classes on lego mindstorm robotics. This is a very cool thing and you have to plan ahead to do it. My daughter was actually super sad that we didn't do this- but we just didn't know how it worked in advance. You spend 45 minutes with a teacher programming a lego mindstorm robot. It's in the build and test area.

The annual pass seems like a good investment but because my kids are actually mostly interested in big coasters we didn't spring for it. 

Lastly - stay in the Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn. About a 5 minute drive from the entrance to the park. There is a hotel literally at the entrance but it looks as dated as where we stayed and honestly it's just not worth it.

While visiting central Florida - I did not workout. I did indeed overeat. Now it's time to get back on track.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

10 weeks to Rome

Yup Marathon Monday post on Wednesday ... oops. Fell behind. Actually at the moment I'm stewing at home waiting for a repair man. I hate that.

10 weeks to go.

That's close.

Am I ready?

Well not quite. Well mostly but I do need to get cracking and figure out what I'm going to wear.

I live and train in Miami. It's hot here. I train with a fuel belt. It's a great thing except it's murder on technical fabric tees. I get tons of little "runs" in the front. It's annoying. Plus it means my cute tops don't last a whole heck of a long time. So this week I'll be shopping. Weather in Rome should be about 50 degrees Farenheit. So I'm thinking tank, shorts and arm warmers.

My long run this week was 19 miles. That's a doozy. Luckily for me it went better than the last 20 mile run - which did not go well.. Of course my training buddies did pull ahead for the final 4 miles. But I felt good till the end that's the important thing!

ice for ice bath. good for recovery ... not all that fun though.

In other new this week I have a new watch ... Did I share that the old one broke. Yup ... Just the band. I could have gotten a replacement band but since my watch is old and the battery didn't make it through the race in France I went ahead and upgraded to the garmin 910xt. I'm happy with the new watch. Seems to work very well.

Sunday came with the weekly long bike ride. 4 hours (like 16mph ... easy ride - Loved it). We went super slow. My training pal Carolyn is training for Ironman Texas. This was her long ride and she's not super fast. That's the only reason I agreed to 4-hours the day after a 19 mile run (which otherwise would be stupid) but it was fine.

Along the way we saw these manatee mom's and their calves. It was super cute. Again Super cute!

Final Monday Wednesday news: this week I'm trying something new.

The nice people at Energy Bits have sent me a sample to try so I can tell you all about them.

The sample arrived last week so this week I'm trying them. This is going to really be a lot of fun. I like trying new things. I'm fascinated by sports nutrition. Energy Bits are completely different from anything I've tried before so I am excited to try them and share my experience if you happen to be curious ... Which of course you are. So check back on for info on that later.

Questions for today: post your answers in the comments if you want.
What do you choose to wear for a marathon? I have usually worn shirt with my name on it so people can cheer. I'm not sure I'll do that in Italy. Also I prefer a singlet and shorts. That's just my thing.

What nutrition do you use on long runs and rides? Nutrition is a super personalized thing I think. I use plain flavor no caffeine gu and water on my long runs but I'm trying these energy bits this week and I use Infinit on long bike rides.


 

Friday, January 10, 2014

goals schmoals

So for resolutions first the three easy resolution-y goals.

I resolve to not play candy crush.   I'm reclaiming all those idle minutes back into my brain. There's nothing wrong with playing candy crush but I began to feel like it was a colossal waste of my time.

I resolve to not buy a lot of kindle books. I am a really fast reader and so I go through books licked-y split. It's not a backdoor brag - don't be impressed. It is part of the reason I'm a fierce trivia player. The Kindle is awesome for me but I ran up quite a bill this year buying book after book after book. I would share what I spent but it would be embarrassing. Instead I will visit my local library :-) I'm there every week pretty much anyway for Jack's soccer practice. Also I have Amazon Prime so once a month I can rent a book on the kindle. I can also apparently check out ebooks at the library but I haven't figured it out yet.

I will work on decluttering around me. A few years ago we moved into a much bigger house and we've been slowly accumulating stuff. Now there's a lot of extra stuff 75% of which is in the kids rooms and all the zillion drawers around the house my husband shoves "stuff" into. Yes "stuff" is almost definitely a synonym for "trash."

I don't know if this is a full-year project or just a beginning of the year project but I am going to concentrate on getting this stuff out of the house. Specifically I'm taking one thing a day out of my son's room ... he'll never notice, honestly.

So, those are the easy ones. They don't require much planning or anything just kind of getting stuff done. The more complicated ones and the fitness ones are still bouncing around in my head and on my doodle pad. It's nothing earth shattering but they are still in the works.




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

8 things about new years resolutions

I like to hit reset at the start of the year with some "resolutions." Which I will happily share with the world but at the moment they are still in the planning stage so instead on this 8th day of January I'll share 8 (possibly ridiculous) things I think I know about new years resolutions.


1. Resolutions should be your own. Last year I was super inspired by my little brother who had one resolution for each month of the year (the year before) and he did each and every one. So I tried the same thing. Made my list and everything and made it 2 whole months.  I actually did one of the other months because it was June Ironman France (check!). But overall: fail. It's okay I learned that it doesn't work for me this way. Moving on.

One thing that I'm not resolving to do but that does fascinate me is Run this Year. Check it out if you're curious.

2. Resolutions are mostly different from goals and to do lists. This is actually just a wording/goal setting pet peeve of mine. I think that resolutions means resolving to change a behavior you currently have. For example I resolve to go to the gym more or I resolve to quit smoking. (not my goals I don't smoke and I hate the gym).

Setting goals means you have something you aspire to do: for example I want to win my age group in a sprint triathlon (not actually my goal but that would be fun).

To do lists are things that need to get done for example floss every day. Floss every day is something for a to do list.  I guess flossing is also kind of a resolution if you know that you never floss because you should floss so that your teeth don't fall out any sooner than they need to and also to avoid the lecture from the dental hygienist.

Anyway this is just semantics and on top of that just my opinion and on top of that even I admit it doesn't matter.

3. Planning is the important part. Maybe planning isn't the only important part but it's a big part. Just saying you're going to do something doesn't always/usually/ever work. Even if you write it down it might not work. But if you take the time to figure out the steps from how to get from where you are to where you want to be then usually you can get it done. Of course, I think planning is also the time consuming hard part.

If you take 10 seconds and google goal planning template you'll find a wealth of info there to get you started. 

4. When setting resolutions/goals it's smart to be specific. The more time you spend thinking about what you really want to achieve and why the happier you'll be with the result.

Many people end the year feeling gluttonous and out of shape. And they then resolve to go to the gym every day or perhaps just more. But they don't stick to it because it's not really a well defined goal.

If instead you take the time to figure out what your actual motivation and your desired result are then you might be better off at the end. For example a more defined goal might be: I want to take care of myself throughout the year and feel healthy and strong at the company holiday party at the end of the year (not my goal I felt pretty fabulous at my husband's holiday party).

A mommy version of the gym goal is if you say you'll never yell at your kids. Okay ... impossible. If the kid runs toward traffic yelling might be a pretty good idea. Also kids are infuriating sometimes. Maybe it's just my kids.

5. Be thoughtful when you plan goals.  So if you're taking time to set resolutions or goals take time to think it through make sure that your goal is what you really want.

I once attended a seminar about goal setting. The speaker was a believer in the principal of attraction. Her story was that she or somebody had asked for a big family get together during the year. She got her wish/request because somebody in the family died and everyone got together for a funeral.

The skeptic in me says the two things aren't necessarily related.

Nonetheless, perhaps it's prudent to think a little farther and make your request for a happy or joyful big family get together.


6. I find it helpful to keep my goal in front of me. When I'm working on something specific like run the NYmarathon in 4hours and 30 minutes or finish Ironman France. I keep that goal front and center. I actually keep it posted in my closet because I'm in there every day. I write it down and tape it up and look at it every day.

I can't find a picture of what my closet looked like right before Ironman France but it was covered with index cards where I had written quotations and pictures of the course. I felt so strongly about it that I peeled it all down and brought it with me to France for comfort. 

7. It's okay to change the goal. Sometimes we start down a path and realize that where we were headed is the wrong direction. Or we realize that what we had planned isn't realistic. For most people exercising every day isn't realistic. Or perhaps halfway through Ironman training you realize it's ripping your family apart. A few years ago I had to look at a business I'd built and realize that it was time to shut it down.

It's okay to change your mind. It really is. Reassess. Don't be too hard on yourself and move on.

That last part can be hard.

8. Nobody's perfect ... keep on moving forward. That one really needs no explanation we all skip days, eat too much, get sick ... whatever. Just get right back on track as soon as you can.

hmmm 7 and 8 might be kind of the same. Oh well.

So, do "you" set goals at the first of the year? Wanna share? 

Like I said I'm still thinking about mine but when I get it ironed out (see the iron pun there?) I'll share. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Enough already with the holidays back to marathon training

11 weeks until Rome ... I think. The blogging gig has been a little on the back burner during a little thing called school vacation. The little people are always around and they come first because they insist on that.
yup champagne new years eve.


2013 in review
First a moment to review. I'm not the best log keeper but according to Training Peaks I logged:
  • 1407 miles and 141 hours on the bike. The miles don't include trainer time ... I'm not sure what to do about that. So the miles are actual miles and I think the hours include trainer hours.
  • 688 miles running or 143 hours. 
  • Swimming 144,866 yards. 
  • Brick of 57 miles (I have no idea what this is or why it's there)
  • and of course one race of 140.6 miles 
It's not the most mileage anybody could log but I'm pretty happy with it.

at the end of our new years day run on the beach. It's a fun tradition and it requires not being real hung over.
What will 2014 bring?
Fun stuff that's all just lots of fun stuff. I do actually like to set goals and resolutions but mine aren't ready yet. So just hold your horses. The race schedule is pretty much set I think.

I dragged the whole family to the new years day run. The kids were tired and cranky and my husband was hung over and miserable. This might have been a one-time gig for them.
Over the holiday I have eaten too much, and drank too much grown up grape juice. So January starts with a big giant dietary reset. Clean eating.

One resolution is being more organized with shopping. Behold the magic master shopping list. Here's hoping I'm not at the store every day.
I did stick to my workouts during the kids break which was good because otherwise I'd be another 10 pounds of me to love.  Except swimming for some reason I cannot make it to the pool when the kids aren't in school. To be honest I only figured out the vacation swim schedule with 2 days left to go in the holiday. I'm slow like that.

But today I'm back into the pool in a few hours. It was supposed to be tomorrow but tomorrow we're scheduled to be having one of our day's of winter. So it will be cold (cool) so instead I'll swim today and run tomorrow.