Introducing GOT (Girls On Trail) Run!

Anna Boom

WOOT started a new group, Girls on Trail Run! Very excited to start this adventure and it came from the idea of introducing our daughters to what we love to do every Saturday; get out, breathe fresh air, and enjoy our friends’ company while getting a few miles in.

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For our first GoT Run!, on February 15th, we met at our regular parking place, Yuimaru in Yomitan. We went over the course description, had a short game of tag, and headed out. We kept it relaxed and unstructured to see how the younger girls would do. One of the new runner issues we tried to address was pacing. But explaining that to a group of super excited young kids did not work as well as hoped. Instead of starting easy, the little ones started by racing each other to the head of the pack. After about a block, the girls started to fall back a little. We encouraged them to try and keep an even pace, to breathe and try talking to their friends. At the first mile, we started singing, Roar, to encourage the aerobic pace.

The trail we took was marked out earlier on our WOOT run, in half kilometer increments with the final marker at the two kilometer point. We stopped at that point and went through some dynamic stretches. We also did introductions again and headed back the way we ran out.

Here are the 4 runs we planned:
Run 1: Meet at Yuimaru at 8:45 am. Introductions, describing the run, breaking into smaller groups based on age/pace. Run 1.25 miles out on farm roads, run back to Yuimaru parking lot. Be done around 9:30 for stretching and parent pick up.
Run 2: Meet at Zakimi castle parking lot (front side) at 8:45. Talk, and run around castle, down trail, to wooden walkway, down to second trail by stream and back up.
Run 3: Meet at Paint ball entrance at 8:45. Talk about course, run Top o the world to big rock and back up, along the fence line trail back to the start.
Run 4: Final run is Spider up to the top and back down. Meet at Spider entrance (gate guard hut) at 8:45. Talk about the course, run up to LZ, stretch wait for others. Continue to the Japanese sign and turn around.
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In the end, we ran about 2.75 miles on trail, sang a song, tripped and fell a few times and recovered, picked lots of flowers, picked up a stick or two, and had fun together.
We had a great turnout for the first Girls on Trail Run! camp and even had some cross country runners come out to help lead (thanks Sam and Dominique!). It was great to have them mentor.
If you are looking to introduce your daughter to running trail, come out and join us for a Saturday morning of fun on trail with other moms and daughters. Women on Okinawa Trail and Girls on Trail Run, rule!!

“Are You Going To Be Strong Today?”

Post # 2: NPR Project: Running Toward Boylston – Jannine Myers

[Original post here]

I’ve been spoiled. For the past few years I’ve been able to run in the early hours of the morning, before the sun is up, when I most love to run.

I’m one of those runners who loves to be up at the crack of dawn, and who thinks that sleeping until 6 or 7 a.m. is “sleeping in.” I’m also one of those runners who quickly loses motivation to run as the day goes on, which is why my current circumstances are making it difficult for me to stay on track with my Boston training.

I have two daughters, an almost 20-year-old, and a 10-year-old. For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed having the freedom to get up and run as early as I want, knowing that my oldest daughter is home with her younger sister. In recent months, however, that privilege has been denied to me. My older daughter now works and often leaves the house early, or she’s away house-sitting and not home at all. My weekday runs must now wait until late morning, after I have dropped my younger daughter off at school (and, yes, 9 a.m. is “late morning” to me).

With just nine weeks to go until I join the more than 30,000 runners at the start of the Boston Marathon, I’m hoping that I will stay motivated enough to push myself out the door on weekday mornings. Weekends are generally not a problem, as long as my husband is home and not away on a military exercise, or teaching a first aid/CPR class. If he is, then things get a little tricky and a little creative thinking is required.

But, for the most part, I’ve got my A-type personality to rely on. And quotes, like this one by Canadian marathon runner, Peter Maher, push exactly the right buttons to spur me on:

  • “Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?’”
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Do these legs feel like running today? Not at all. But damn it, they will!

Come To Boston With Us

Jannine Myers

Meet NPR’s Justine Kenin, Eyder Peralta and Wright Bryan; with a vision in mind of sharing what it takes to not only train for a marathon, but train for one of the most prestigious marathons of all, they have created a project called Running Toward Boylston: 8 Runners Take On The 2014 Boston Marathon. As one of the eight runners profiled in this project, I invite you to join us on our journey, and experience Boston with us. The introduction below, by Justine, Eyder, and Wright, explains in more detail what the project will entail. I hope you’ll come to Boston with us! You can do so by following us here.

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On April 21, all eyes will be on Boston as runners stream down Boylston Street to the finish line of the greatest marathon of them all. On everyone’s mind will be the day one year earlier when bombs exploded in this very stretch, bringing one of America’s great cities to a standstill as it frantically searched for the people behind the attacks.

But what does it take to get there? What does it take to run 26.2 miles, to reach the Boston finish line? That’s what we’re going to find out over the next 11 weeks as we follow along with eight runners training for the 2014 Boston Marathon. They’ll each be posting here every week, sharing their stories, strategies and experiences. It’s a journey that you won’t want to miss.

At the end, the events of 2013 will be on everyone’s mind. But the reality of Boston, as it has always been, is that it’s a race against time and pain and an unforgiving course. It’s a story of triumph over adversity. And it will be no different in 2014 as the #NPR8 cross the finish line on Boylston Street, each achieving their own personal measure of success.

(Photo: NPR’s Justine Kenin, Eyder Peralta and Wright Bryan. Credit: Kainaz Amaria.)

Kunigami Trail Race Report

Last weekend four of our ladies represented WOOT in Okinawa’s very first “official” trail race. Held in the northern part of the island, where it’s much less populated and much of the forest area has been left alone, this race course proved to be very difficult and challenging. If you enjoy trail races, and are not afraid of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, then this might be a race you’ll want to do while you’re in Okinawa. Read more about this race, from Anna and Beth:

Anna Boom

On February 8th, Okinawa had its first official trail race. As soon as Takako posted it on the WOOT wall, I knew I would be running it, if at all possible.

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Four of us WOOT’rs: Beth, Mary, Takako and I went up on Friday night and stayed at Okuma resort. In the morning, we woke and lumbered around until 9 am when we met to head over to the parking area. To get to the race start, all racers have to take a bus, which stops running at 10:15. We jumped on the shuttle and made it to the start area at 10:30 ish. Then we waited…the 12 and 19km race start at noon so we had an hour and a half to wait, and so we did.

Instead of signing up for Okinawa City marathon, as I was poised to do, I switched my registration to the Kunigami trail race. There were various distances and even offered walks. I chose the longest distance race, 24km. This was later remeasured and dropped to 19km.

None of us knew what to expect on the course and were a little nervous, which prevented us from really eating much. By noon, we were more than ready to go. One of the lovely parts of the race, was the number of runners. In our distance, there were about 200 runners. Compare this with any race like Naha marathon at 26000+ runners. There were no lines at the port-a-potties! It was glorious!!
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During the race brief, there was no description of the course, but they did cover manners on trail, aid stations and medical help was available.

We blindly headed off and followed the lead runners down a paved route that turned into a stair climb after the 1st kilometer. The stairs went on and on, up and up. It was very aerobic and burned the quads early on. Soon we hit the trail head, which was a rocky, slippery, beautiful single track trail. The difficult part of trail running, like driving on a two lane highway, is getting caught behind a slower group. You have to find the right moment to try and cut around them, or accept the pace they set.

The trail was very muddy on the first loop and it was deep lose-your-shoe mud. By the second loop, it was even deeper. Fun and challenging. There were points of the trail were you had to stop running and use a rope to climb up and/or down. Going down hill was like an awesome mud slide.

The support out on the course was minimal, and there are no spectators, unless they hiked their way up there. There were a few photographers out there; one who caught me around 14 km point, during a slick stream crossing and I looked at him and said, “Really?! Why couldn’t you get me at the one kilometer point?”. By this time, I was about 2:30 hours in, no lunch, one small water bottle with sports drink and half a Luna bar. I was hurting and pretty sure the photographer had to delete those shots.

Beth had a better experience; as she was coming down the shoot of the finish, a photographer sprinted by her, holding his camera behind him, capturing her finish. Now those are going to be some good shots.

The total ascent Beth’s Garmin clocked was 2743 ft, and hundreds of stairs. With the deep mud, serious climbs and constant up and down, this is most a trail run that you need to prepare for. Be ready to be out running and climbing for around 3+ hours. Yes, 19km in around 3 hours and we didn’t stop moving forward during that time. And the course closes at four hours.

At the finish, we each had a bowl of inoshishi, wild boar, soup. It was hot, salty and delicious. Perfect Okinawa style finish to a great day.

In the end, we all finished strong, tired, and worn out from the long day.

Beth’s Account

The morning dawned chilly, gray and windy with bouts of light drizzle but nothing could dampen our spirits on race day! The six hours between waking up and the start of the race seemed to drag on for about 24 hours. It has been a few years since I have run a trail race, so I was excited and nervous and excited and curious and…oh yeah, excited!

After a mass warm up/stretch and a countdown, we were off for the inaugural Kunigami Trail Race leaving behind the pre-race jitters and the goosebumps of the chilly morning. A bit of pavement wide enough to allow some passing and repositioning eased the start. And then came the steps of varying heights and lengths. These trail stairs seemed to be more of the up variety than the down, but maybe it was all in my head. The bad news was that because it was so close to the start, the pack hadn’t thinned out and it was slow going with traffic jams galore. The goods new was that it kept me from going out too fast.

Eventually, the trail transformed into a playground of mud, rocks, trees, and stream crossings. There were steep muddy bits to claw up with the aid of a rope and downhills to bound down. In my head, I was as graceful as antelope, but in reality was probably clomping and flailing like a wild turkey. And random intervals, there were short lengths of pavement, which served as a nice reprieve from the grueling ups and downs of the trail.

There were volunteers spread throughout the course keeping runners from taking wrong turns and deftly directing runners when the trail split for the different distances. Only once was I worried that I had been turned in the wrong direction but was, in fact, still on the correct course.

And then it happened a few kilometers from the end, when my legs were tired and heavy, the steps appeared ahead. The same sets of trail stairs from the beginning of the race! As Anna so adequately put it, “REALLY?!!!” In the opposite direction, it once again it seemed like most of the steps went up instead of down. But that isn’t possible; is it?! Finally, the finish line appeared beckoning me towards smiling faces, congratulations and amazingly delicious salty, warm soup.

All in all, it was a tough but awesome course that I would sign up to race again in a heartbeat.

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Hammer Product Review – Half Marathon Report

Jannine Myers

Last weekend I ran the Nago Half Marathon and despite pre-race nervousness and a prior week of disappointing training runs, I managed to maintain a relatively comfortable pace and finish with a 2nd place age-group win.

One of the most difficult challenges for me over the years, with regards to endurance races, has had to do with race nutrition and finding out what works for me and what doesn’t. With an exceptionally sensitive stomach, it’s been through lots of trial and error (and some rather unfortunate experiences), that I have learned what my body can tolerate while running. Several months ago, I started experimenting with HammerNutrition products and I am beginning to see significant improvements in both my overall performance and also in how my body (specifically, my stomach) feels during the more intense and longer runs.

Here is how I fueled for the Nago Half Marathon last weekend:

1.Approximately ten to twenty minutes before the race: one Hammer vanilla gel, diluted in water.

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A couple of points to note here: a) I typically don’t fare well when I consume any type of gel, but I’ve discovered that my stomach can easily digest gels if I mix them first in a small flask of water and take small sips at a time; b) Dr. Bill Misner, an authority on sports nutrition, suggests that pre-race meals be consumed at least 3 hours prior to an endurance event, in order to effectively raise blood glucose levels and improve performance. However, a small and easily-digested snack (100-200 calories), consumed about 5 to 10 minutes before the start time shouldn’t hurt. “By the time these calories are digested and blood sugar levels are elevated, you’ll be well into your workout or race, and glycogen depletion will not be negatively affected.” – for a more complete explanation, click here.

2. During the race I ran with a 20 oz. Amphipod hand-held bottle, filled with water, Hammer Sustained Energy (measured out according to my weight), and a Hammer Endurolytes Fizz tablet (both of these products were “unflavored”).

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Let me first say that Hammer Sustained Energy was created for the purpose of providing energy for events lasting longer than two hours (Hammer gels and Hammer Heed will do the job for events in the 60 to 90 minute category). I had to go with Sustained Energy however, after I realized that I had depleted my supply of Heed. The good news is that it seemed to provide me with just the right amount of energy and it did not cause any intestinal distress at all. The Endurolytes Fizz was added to ensure that my electrolyte needs were met.

3. For recovery, I took a mini shaker and a single serve packet of Hammer Recoverite (Citrus is my favorite flavor).

P1040907For optimal recovery after a race, it’s ideal to nourish depleted glycogen stores and promote muscle rebuilding by eating a quality meal soon after racing, preferably within the first 15 minutes and at least within the first hour. Since I hardly ever have much of an appetite after a hard race, I like that I can get the proper ratio of carbohydrates to protein in a quick and easy shake.

I also ate a Hammer Vegan Recovery bar about an hour and a half later; by this time I was starting to feel slightly hungry, but not enough to want an actual meal. Hammer Recovery bars provide plenty of protein as well as “healthy” fats, and they taste great!

All of these products contributed to a satisfactory race experience, and it seems that at least one other person thought so too. As I was pushing hard to reach the finish line, I was motivated by an American runner who yelled out as I passed him, “Get it Hammer!”

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Footnote: While it’s true that my sponsorship agreement with Hammer Nutrition requires that I endorse and promote their products, I would like to add that I truly would not do so if I did not believe in them. Those who know me well can attest to my struggles with running-related intestinal distress, and my vigilant pursuit of a diet and/or products that might help to eliminate all or some of the symptoms. I can honestly say, that my testings so far of Hammer Nutrition products, have resulted in significant improvements all around – easy on the stomach and great results in terms of performance output!

No-Cook “Dessert” Muesli

I love muesli, and I love breakfast! But I usually eat breakfast after I run, so I’m pretty hungry by then and in need of something a little more substantial than muesli. Muesli is also fairly high in calories and fat so conservative servings are probably ideal – not what I am looking for right after a training run.

Since I don’t like to exclude muesli from my diet altogether, I sometimes make it as a dessert substitute and eat it after dinner with plain Greek yogurt (or a small serving on it’s own). It’s the perfect “sweet” ending for me when I am looking for a not-so-guilty treat.

This muesli was created with ingredients I had on hand, including these incredibly sweet raisins-on-the-vine:

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Ingredients

1/3 cup chia seeds; 1/3 cup ground flaxseeds; 1/3 cup sunflower seeds; 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips; 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut; 3/4 cup cashews; 1/2 cup raisins; 1 cup dates; 1 tbsp melted coconut oil

Directions:

Very simple – throw everything into a food processor and roughly grind. Transfer to a pan and press the mixture evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then transfer again to a cereal container. Let it crumble into pieces as you transfer it from the pan.

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Naturally sweet – so good!