Heartbreaker Race Report by Lauren Thompson

Contributed by Lauren Thompson

On June 4, 2016, WOOT hosted the Heartbreaker race with the option to do a 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50K, up north near Okuma at Yui Yui kingdom. We were warned in the advertisement that it would be a suffer fest. I wasn’t sure what a suffer fest was, but I was drawn towards doing the 30k, getting a heart charm, and running the furthest I have ever ran.

On race day, the weather had just lightened up from three days of hard rain; it was humid but cooler than usual. Registration began at 5:15am; check in was well organized, and WOOT gear was there to purchase. Caroline, Jesse, Anna and others did a wonderful job making people feel welcomed; answering questions and making the event fun. The race brief was at 5:55 and the race began at 6:15.

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The start and finish loop began in front of Family Mart and then there was “The Hill.” Sweet Mother of Science the Hill was steep. It had inclines that were at 12 and 14 percent, 3 miles high and gorgeously green. It took a lot longer than expected to get up the hill, giving plenty of time to soak up the foliage and admire the sweat dripping off my hat. Most of the course I was alone, and surprisingly I enjoyed it. The race was a loop, making it possible to see all the other racers go by.  Racers are the most encouraging people, even when suffering; one of the wonderful reasons why I love the running cult.

This image from Tamara Webb shows the elevation - yikes!

This image from Tamara Webb shows the elevation – yikes!

Lauren running solo uphill

Lauren running solo uphill

Half way up the hill, there was a little fog and a nice breeze. At mile 2 and 4.2 was a popsicle stand. Anna and her girls were passing out the cold sweetness, taking pictures and cheering the runners on. It was a tough incline, but their positivity helped me keep going and feel safe, and the chill of the popsicle in my hand really helped my body cool down. At the very top of the hill was a guy with water and he passed out rubber bands to indicate each time we made it to the top. Never in my life have I worked so hard to earn a rubber band.

Running down the hill was more like flying. The closest race with an intense incline I’ve done was the Shouhashi Half Marathon, but that was not even close. There were a couple of times I had to stop; it was humbling, and I smiled at the challenge and just kept going. My abs and arms certainly were worked going down, and it was obvious that I had not done enough hill training but it felt great. As I was going down hill, I saw my running coach. She road her bike up the hill, cheered, and took pictures of me and the other racers. Very thankful for her support, especially as my family could not come; it calmed my nerves seeing her. As I mentioned before, the race is a loop, bringing me back to the start. Perfect for making a pit stop, filling the Camel Pack with water, ice, or getting more nutrition. Thank you Family Mart.

Towards the end of the race, I was sore, and stupid hot, but another WOOTer drove back in a truck to hand out cold fuel and motivation. It was the iced melon balls that are sold at Family Mart; they tasted amazeballs, perking me up for the rest of the race. After the amazeballs, the sense of gratefulness and accomplishment kicked in. I worked really hard and soon I would reach my goal of running a 30k.

At the finish line there were cheers, a finishing ribbon to run through, my running coach with the glass medal Tamara Webb had made to put on me, and the heartbreaker charm. I knew when I signed up for the Heartbreaker it was going to be an amazing race, and it was, it really was. Not sure what distance I’ll do next year, but I’ll certainly work my calves more to climb and fly down that incredible hill again!

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Massage Track Review

Jannine Myers

I was recently asked to review a product by MassageTrack.com; they sell a full-body self-massage kit that includes what physical therapists might refer to as “self-myofascial release tools.” My initial images of the product, without seeing any pictures or reading a full description, were of rolling pins or sticks – much like the foam rollers and running sticks already out there on the market. But the Massage Track kit is quite unlike anything I have seen, and after viewing a couple of videos and reading other reviews, I was keen to try it.

The package arrived with the following components:

– Neck Track, Body Track, 8 Balls, Netted bags for storage, and a Demonstration Video

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I’ll go ahead and say right off the bat that what I have to say about it is mostly positive, with the exception of one negative, but let me first list all of the pros:

  • The Massage Track is cost-efficient and will save you money in the long-run. It will set you back around $125, but when you consider how much it costs to visit your local massage therapist, you’ll clearly make your money back in no time. It’s nicer of course to have a massage therapist work out all the knots for you, but its also nice to know that in between appointments you can relieve any muscle pain yourself.
  • As a constant sufferer of tight and achy muscles, this product could potentially be the best thing that’s happened to me. I never liked the foam roller I used to own; I was never able to master control over it and figure out how to use it in a way that felt like I was getting results. But with the Massage Track, I can easily position any achy part of my body directly over the massage balls – held securely in place by the body track – and apply exactly the amount of pressure that’s needed; it allows for a preciseness that’s lacking in foam rollers and running sticks.
  • The kit comes with four sets of two balls each, and each set differs in weight allowing for a graduated progression of therapy. In other words, as a beginner, you start with the lightest balls and the least amount of pressure, and slowly work your way up to the heavier balls that provide a deeper and more intense treatment. A greater amount of relief is experienced, since you are required to hold and apply pressure for a certain length of time, as opposed to “rolling” over the area.
  • It’s portable!!! You can take it anywhere; it packs up easily into the netted bags and takes up little room.

With all that said, I have been using the Massage Track all week to reduce pain in my right upper back and shoulder area and also in my right hip and lower back area. I have been doing the recommended 12 second “beginner” holds, and will eventually extend the length of hold time to 60 seconds. For now, 12 seconds is about all I can tolerate, yet it’s all I need to get some temporary but immediate relief. I feel confident that if I can get myself into the habit of using the Massage Track daily, and if I can train myself to become proficient in using it, that it really will make a difference in my overall performance, recovery, and general well-being.

And that leads me to the one negative I mentioned earlier; the only fault I could find with the Massage Track (and it’s not really a product fault, but more of a human fault), is that it may not appeal to athletes like myself who dislike spending additional time on preventative training and therapies. I have a real aversion to stretching, foam rolling, yoga, dynamic warm-ups and cool-downs, and basically anything that forces me to slow down and restore my body; I can’t explain why except that I just don’t enjoy those things the way I enjoy actual training and working out.

However, I do believe that this product will absolutely benefit anyone who, as the website states, wishes to “get great relief from generic aches and pains, treat repetitive strain injury, and accelerate workout recovery.”

For more information on the Massage Track, and where to purchase from, visit their website here. And for a quick video demo, check out this one below that shows how to relieve pain in the upper and lower back:

 

 

 

Re-Creating Cafe Favorites

Jannine Myers

Something I love to do in my free time is to get in my kitchen and re-create some of my favorite cafe meals. It’s always nice going out to eat but it’s also nice to cook my own food and I can usually save a little money at the same time, since one cooking session will typically result in two or three meals.

My latest meal re-creation was taken from the menu at Green Leaf’s Yomitan Cafe; I love their Molokhia Noodle Salad (original Green Leaf version on the top and my re-created version below):

13149973_10156778911470562_1786881234_n   13336199_10156864711120562_1284422151_nThe ingredients were not exactly identical, but the taste was very similar and I’ve since made this cold noodle salad for myself several times. Here’s how I made it – so fast, simple, and delicious:

Ingredients

1 100g package Molokhia noodles (I bought mine from Green Leaf)

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Salad greens – your choice

Carrots and Japanese Daikon, shredded

Alfalfa sprouts

Mixed seeds and dried berries

Sesame Dressing Ingredients:

2 tbsps Vegan Mayonnaise (or your choice of mayonnaise)

1/2 tbsp Tamari Sauce

1/2 tbsps Sesame Oil

1/2 tbsp Rice Vinegar

1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

Dash of organic sugar (optional)

Water (if the consistency is too thick)

 

Directions:

Bring a medium size saucepan of water to the boil, then immerse the noodles and cook for just a few minutes. Drain the noodles and set aside.

Layer your bowl with the salad leaves, noodles, raw shredded vegetables, and top with the seeds and dried berries.

Make your dressing by simply whisking all the ingredients together; add desired amount to your salad. Enjoy :)

 

[Green Leaf also makes a delicious soy taco rice; I didn’t try to duplicate their recipe but I used their idea to make a similar meatless taco rice. Instead of using soy textured protein to make the “ground beef,” I used pulsed and blended cauliflower, walnuts, and hemp seeds. For the full recipe visit my trail running page here]

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Green Leaf soy taco rice on left and my meatless taco rice on the right

Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Jacket Review

Jannine Myers

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My latest piece of trail running apparel is the new Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Jacket, and I love it! Designed to withstand harsh wet and cold weather conditions, it’s perfect for any mountain ultra race or for day-to-day use during the winter and rainy months. Check out my review below:

For further information, go to Ultimate Directions website and search their Wearable Gear.

With regards to the military discount, here is the reply I received from one of the members of the Customer Support Team: “If any members of your group work in outdoor retail or an emergency/military/firefighter profession we do offer pro-deals. The application for those can be found at the bottom of our website.”

As mentioned in the video above, don’t delay in buying this jacket if you think it’s a piece of trail gear you’d like to own. Ultimate Direction currently has a low volume of inventory and I’m not sure if they will be replacing the jackets once they’re all sold.