10.13.2017

Factors that Impact Running Performance

As time goes by, my running pace has been slowing. I have battled a lot this past year. Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. I have gone to a healing retreat, therapy, on and off anti-depressants, and am tired. It has been a tough year for me physically and emotionally but not only for myself but for others. So many of those I love are facing their own challenges and as much as I tried not to focus on my running pace in the grand scheme of life, it kept coming back up in my mind, I am getting slower. Why?

I love science and try to look for good solid proof to support my ideas. I had many ideas of things that could be impacting my performance but what could I do, or should I do, to turn things around?

In a nutshell, I researched a multitude of my thoughts starting with alcohol. You can read more about alcohol and running HERE and yes, alcohol consumption can impact your running performance but the thing is, I didn't drink that much. And when I stopped, my running pace remained the same although I do sleep better and have less stuffiness without alcohol. Those are two good things. I won't go deep into the effects in alcohol on your body as I recently blogged about alcohol and running.

Sleep quality also impacts running performance as sleep is when your body heals and refreshes itself especially during the deep sleep and REM phases. And yes, with early wake-up times I was getting less hours of sleep but with no alcohol, etc. my sleep quality is improving. Less hours but better quality sleep. My FitBit helps me monitor this and even though some days I wonder if sleep is a factor, over the grand scheme of months of decreased performance, I can't blame sleep.

Heat also impacts running performance. The higher the temperature, the more you can expect your pace to decrease. I blamed this while I was in Texas this summer running but once back on Maui, to the temps I am used to, and still experiencing the same sluggish pace, heat obviously was not my issue.

Weight impacts running performance. Sorry it does but even though I have gained a few pounds over the past months, I am pretty much at the same weight I have been for years. I tend to fluctuate between 118-125 pounds so I don't think I can say, lose a few and get your pace back. Plus, I feel this is my healthy weight as I always gravitate back to it even when a few times it has dipped down to 110-115 and I am happy with my range as way back when I was in college, I was much heavier. I am in a good place and thankful but for those who want more weight details here is a chart on how weight loss can impact your pace.


Please note, as the race distance increases, your BMI (body mass index) comes into greater play but yet, this still did not seem to be the reason for my decline. 

What about nutrition? I eat well but am dairy free. Is there something there that could be coming into play? My routine physicals are coming back good and in range but one thing that was not checked in my past physical was my Vitamin D levels and this is something I have been low in during the past and something I do not supplement well on a regular basis. And believe it or not, Vitamin D at adequate levels can improve your running performance. It can be found naturally in tuna, eggs, and soy milk - three things I consume on a regular basis so I feel I may be okay but I did start trying to take my Vitamin D on a more regular basis.

After crossing thing after thing off my list I had to face the fact I was trying not to face. 

Perimenopause.

Perimenopause is something I have blogged about and pondered over four years ago. You can read that post HERE but with that in mind, it is something worth taking seriously so let's talk about it a bit more today.

Perimenopause can last up to 10 years and the average age of menopause for women in the US is 51. Ladies, that means you can be venturing into perimenopause at age 41! Ironically, that is about how old I was when I first blogged about it. The good news is running is good for you during this time of transition and it can help mitigate hot flashes. Yay! And I got to say, hot flashes are not an issue for me. But the decrease in estrogen does not only trigger hot flashes but also insomnia, weight gain, headaches, anxiety, and depression. You already know from sentence one of this post that some of those fit me perfectly...and FYI, I am battling a headache as I type this post. 

You are also more sensitive to heat, need to protect your bones with essential Calcium, watch your Vitamin D levels, and be aware that muscle mass can decrease. I am hoping my over one year commitment to added cross training and weight training is helping with keeping my muscle mass intake and just recently bit the bullet and bought a daily multi-vitamin formulated for women that has calcium, Vitamin D, iron, and other important nutrients in it to ensure I am getting what I need on a dairy free diet. I am also trying to ascertain if there are some dairy items my body can tolerate as I like natural best. 

I would like to say after all this research I found the golden ticket to get my pace back to what I loved but my golden ticket may not be what I or you want to hear. It may just be, ready or not, that I am getting older. Yes, my age. YIKES! My research ended on Runner's World Age Grade Calculator and yes, I input my race/running times and guess what --- according to the results, I am running the same adjusted pace compared to me in the past and in all reality, I am running a few seconds faster. 

This was a sobering revelation. I do believe in continual growth but also realize we all have our max performance limits and this may change over time. Trying to go beyond your max performance may just beat you up and rob you of your running joy. I want my running joy. I love my cross training joy. I have so many ways to grow and so much to give and I will remind myself over and over and over again, I am not defined by a number whether that number be my age, the number on a scale, or the number related to my pace, or the number of miles I have run. I am more than a number and so are you.

Daily Gratitude: No matter the pace, I am thankful for running today on day 2115 of my running streak. Now that is a number I can be proud of!

Daily Bible Verse: Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. ~ Proverbs 3:3-8


10.12.2017

Consecration to Mary

October 7 was a special day to me. Not only was it my birthday, my 45th to be exact, it is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary and the day I celebrated my consecration to Mary.

To many this may be confusing. Hey, it was confusing to me at first. Consecrate myself to Mary? What does that mean? Isn't Jesus my savior? Wouldn't this be wrong?

But after some initial spiritual guidance from a priest I trust (Mahalo Father Matthew Spencer), I decided this would not be pulling me away from Christ but possibly towards a better place in my faith journey. Under his guidance, I opted for the 33 Days to Morning Glory to guide my journey and happily it is available and affordable via Amazon.

Affiliate Link to get yours today

You can pick what consecration date speaks to your heart because Our Lady is honored many times throughout the year but since October 7 is my birthday, the rosary is something that has been pulling at my heart, Our Lady of the Rosary seemed to be the perfect fit for me.

I was eager to begin my faith journey but also weary. Will I be able to fit in what I am supposed to do every day on top of everything else I am aiming to do each day? Well, it was actually pretty easy and my daily reading followed my daily bible reading and I tried my best to ponder the messages and prayers throughout the day. Some days were better than other days but hey, I am a work in progress and this is something I intend to return to and renew each year. And like bible verses, I hope messages will pop out differently to me each year.

Things that stuck out to me this year is this is something not to be feared as amazing people such as Saint Mother Teresa and Saint Pope John Paul II followed this method of faith formation. I am not one to argue with a saint and by golly, Saint Mother Teresa pulls at my heartstrings in so many ways. The darkness she felt, the tenderness she gave, the complete devotion to doing Jesus' will, and the complete devotion to Mary and her tender heart.

The more I studied the more I realized, Jesus did give his mother to us to help us, to guide us, to take care of us. We all need all the help we can get! And ironically, just the other weekend my parish priest (not the same priest who gave me the initial direction) talked about Mary and how we all should behold her because without Mary there would be no Jesus and without Jesus, no salvation. Yikes!

But personally, one thing that always stood out to me about Mary was her complete and amazing faith during her life and struggles. I know it could not have been easy for her but yet she never caved. I need that strength! And she guided all to follow her son's will, Jesus' will, not hers.

If nothing else, just following her example can set us all on a better course in humanity and charity. To be kind, loving, patient, charitable no matter what.

I ended my journey with the following consecration day prayer:

I, ___________________________  , a repentant sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands, O, Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism. I renounce Satan and resolve to follow Jesus Christ even more closely than before.

Mary, I give you my heart. Please set it on fire with love for Jesus. Make it always attentive to his burning thirst for love and for souls. Keep my heart in your most pure Heart that I may love Jesus and the members of his Body with your own perfect love.

Mary, I entrust myself totally to you: my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions. Please make of me, of all that I am and have, whatever most pleases you. Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for bringing the greatest possible glory to God. If I fall, please lead me back to Jesus. Wash me in the blood and water that flow from his pierced side, and help me never to lose my trust in this fountain of love and mercy.

With you, O Immaculate Mother - you who always do the will of God - I unite myself to the perfect consecration of Jesus as he offers himself in the Spirit to the Father for the life of the world. 

Amen.

The book offers various forms of this prayer and you can pick the form that fits you best. The thing is, it isn't so rigid you need to do x, y, and z only but gives you great guidance and insight to be a better you and grow closer to Jesus and increase your faith. That is good, y'all, very, very good.

And my yearning quest to say a rosary daily --> it is finally happening with much more ease than ever before. I have found that "magic" moment/way that works best for me and I firmly attest that this journey, this consecration path, this devotion to keep Mary's loving heart in my own heart, to love better, to live better, to be better, is that "magic" key I needed.

Daily Bible Verse: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. ~ John 19:26-27

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful to Immaculate Heart Radio (now Relevant Radio) to being my guide and beacon to growing faith.

9.27.2017

Alcohol & Running

That glass of wine or cup of beer --- is it adding value to your life and more importantly, is it negatively impacting your life?

Alcohol can be a touchy subject and trust me, this gal delights in a glass of wine but my heart and soul keeps going back to these questions:
Is it good for me?
Is it harming me?

Even the Bible can disagree.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 
~ Ecclesiastes 9:7

Do not get drunk on wine, which lead to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 
~ Ephesians 5:18

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 
~ 1 Timothy 5:23

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astry by them is not wise. 
~ Proverbs 20:1

And this brings me to today’s daily reading from the New Testament.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 
~ Galatians 5:16-24

But being a woman of faith and science (yes, that is possible), I decided it was time to buckle up, sit down, and do some research biology-wise.

How alcohol is metabolized:
The liver is responsible for metabolizing 95% of the ingested alcohol. The rest is excreted via breath, urine, sweat, feces, milk, and saliva. All ethyl alcohol is first converted to acetaldehyde and then into acetate/acetic acid before it is broken down into water and carbon dioxide for simpler excretion. Acetaldehyde is a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen. Not something I really want in me, right?

Alcohol is broken down in the liver with the help of the enzymes ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) and ALDH (aldehyde dehydrogenase). Rates of metabolism by the liver can vary but in general, the liver process one ounce of liquor (or one standard drink) in one hour. In other words, one ounce of alcohol will produce a 0.015 blood-alcohol concentration and a person will this concentration will rid their body of essentially all alcohol in 10 hours. Again, not a situation I really want to be in.
Screen shot 2017-09-27 at 8.35.09 AM.png

I won’t go into details but the health consequences of alcohol include:
Alcohol metabolism and cancer
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Alcoholic Liver Disease
Alcoholic Pancreatitis

And more importantly, the runner in me has been asking, how does alcohol intake impact running performance?

Perhaps there is a bit of an ego or pride involved here (I know, not good Christian qualities) but the question has been in the back of my mind on whether or not that glass of wine could be negatively impacting my running performance. I do feel it is negatively impacting me through headaches and poorer sleep quality but could it be impacting my running and resting heart rate?

Alcohol is a powerful diuretic and dehydration and running do not mix. This could result in muscle cramps, muscle pulls, muscle strains, general fatigue, etc which are all related to being dehydrated. Alcohol adds non-nutritional calories to your diet and inhibits the metabolism of essential vitamins and minerals such as inhibiting the conversion of B vitamins to generate energy from carbs, protein, and fat. So far this does not sound good to the runner body.

Yes, there are some reported benefits of alcohol on heart health but too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease by raising your blood pressure and blood lipids. Alcohol can negatively impact recovery due to its dehydrating nature and may interfere with glycogen synthesis. Since alcohol is a blood vessel dilator, alcohol may impair healing from muscle soreness and more acute injuries.

And what about resting heart rate? Alcohol does indeed impact. At first sip your heart rate begins to increase and even though reports say it then does come back down, the fitbit community has repeatedly chimed in a 2-3 beat increase in RHR the day after drinking alcohol. And for those science minds, the increase is due to alcohol being a vasodilator and dilated blood vessels means more blood flow and that means more heart beats.

There is so much more to this story and it is hard to sum up all the impacts on alcohol in one article but in a nutshell, I think I have unveiled why the Bible seems to contradict itself.

Alcohol does have some good to it, but is also has some bad. I think it is a “drug” easily overlooked in the potential damage it can do. It has become the social norm to go out and grab a drink and I have seen many runners race to a bottle of beer after crossing the marathon line to celebrate their success. And yes, I always thought that was ridiculously crazy - the grabbing a beer, not running a marathon. That is wonderfully crazy!

I also feel I have unveiled enough reasons to support my underlying nagging feeling that alcohol just isn’t for me. Yes, I do like that glass of wine and I do love to sip on one when cooking but I also love my life and want to give 100% to all I do and maybe, just maybe, foregoing that glass of wine will help me grow into a better wife, mom, runner, follower of Christ.

9.21.2017

Product Review: The Little Catholic Box

Aloha y'all!

I am excited to share a gem that I found with you. My faith is important to me and hey, I love getting stuff in the mail and surprising others with stuff in the mail. While waiting for darling daughter at horse the other day I started browsing through faith-based, and more specifically, Catholic-based, subscription boxes. I was delighted to stumble upon The Little Catholic Box.

To be honest, a nice website page design and soothing colors help me stay on a page a wee bit longer and this page had colors that soothed my soul and the design was easy to browse even via an iPhone. I was also delighted that they offered a way to get just one box with NO auto-renewal to cancel later if you want to cancel. I love the idea of being able to just try a box and see if I like it without worrying about coming back later to cancel an ongoing subscription. So subscription box peeps, if you offer a box think seriously about a one box offer with no strings attached. People will like it as I can't believe I am the only one who digs this idea.

I was also intrigued to see that not only could I get their October or November box (September was already sold out) but that they had boxes geared towards kiddo's. I was immediately sucked into the idea to get one for darling daughter to celebrate her stepping up into ministry service as an altar server. This was not an easy road for her and she had doubts but she is a shining light for so many and it all started with her saying "Yes" to God.

I also splurged and got myself the October box, to be shipped later, to celebrate my consecration to Mary -- a process I am undergoing and will conclude on October 7th, my birthday AND the day to honor Our Lady of the Rosary. Win-Win!

Since my order had two boxes in one and there was no way to say, send this one here and that one there, I added an order note asking if they could ship darling's box in her name and provided a gift message. I work in order fulfillment and understood this means that note would need to be read by a human and take a little extra work to make it happen but I had faith. Or hope. I had hope.

It paid off well. Since her box was not tied to a month it shipped immediately and was here in a blink of an eye and that says A LOT since we are on Maui and everything takes a year and a day to get here. Okay, slight exaggeration but you get the point.

The box was beautiful! And yes, addressed to her name. Some kind soul took the time to use a white out pen to take off my auto-filled name on the address label and wrote in her name. How cool is that?

When darling opened the box she was impressed by the presentation and touched each part with care...starting with the personalized gift message that I included in the order for her. It was delightfully printed out in a beautiful text and size and taped right on top of the tissue paper that she delicately pulled back to reveal the contents.

I also want to say that they included a piece of paper attached to the box lid that detailed what was included in the box and where it came from or could be sourced if you want more. Darling referred back to this with each item to learn more about them.


The box contained perfect things to make any girl feel special. And yes, this box is geared for girls but this Momma loves it equally. They also have a box geared for boys. Just saying...

She received some lotion and lip balm that if I remember right was created by nuns! She also has some prayer stickers, a tiny saint zipper pull, a beautiful glicee that can be set on her desk or hang on the wall, a journal, a bookmark, and pens to journal with. She LOVED each item and I have to say again, I am impressed by the quality of the contents and the lovely presentation. What a perfect gift!

And I just want to say, I was not paid to write this post. I received nothing free. I am writing this because I really want to share the word about this awesome company that impressed me with their beautiful product and lovely customer service.

But if you want to support me and receive a great deal, you can receive 10% off of Bondi Band with my code, EGFITNESS. As a Bondi Band Ambassador I will receive a small commission through any purchase you make through my link or with my coupon code (not valid on any of their AMAZING sales that go beyond my 10% off). Feel free to spread the news and share my link/code. Thanks, y'all!

P.S. I just checked the links and saw that there Fall Collection and Halloween gear is up and ready to be purchased. Oh nelly!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my life, for my child, and for my faith.

Daily Bible Verse: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. 
~ Psalm 127:3-5