My Newest Bedmate and Snacking on Algae

Let me tell you about my new favorite in bedroom accessories.  Now now now… get your mind out of the gutter!

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Meet the Balance pillow from Bedgear!  Bedgear recognizes the importance of sleep in an athlete’s recovery. Sleep is quite possibly my favorite part of recovery, though eating would be a close second and occasional front-runner. 🙂  Justin and I are thrilled to be a part of Bedgear’s ambassador program and, as a huge proponent of proper rest, I feel that I can truly get behind this company’s products and goals! 😀 YAY SLEEP!

So, what makes Bedgear’s gear so special?  The pillows don’t just “happen” to be incredibly comfortable; a pillow was selected for me by Bedgear based on information about my sleep patterns and the position in which I most frequently sleep (for me, that is ALLLLLLLL over the place, but Justin is a very obvious side-sleeper).  The comfort matters, too.  I have been using a sleep app on my phone to track the duration of my sleep, as well as noise and movement patterns during sleep.  There has been a noticeable difference since I began using the Balance pillow.

 

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This is a night of sleep pre-Bedgear.  Don’t judge me for the late wake up time!

 

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Here is a night with my Bedgear Balance pillow.  This is reflective of a pattern I have seen in my sleep app log.

Justin is also a fan of his Bedgear pillow.  He has the Aspire pillow, which meets his needs as a side-sleeper.  And speaking of Justin, he completed the Armed Forces World Championship Marathon today in Suriname in very HOT and HUMID conditions with a finish time of 2:37:59.  He placed 19th overall and was the first finisher on the U.S. Team.  The mens team took 7th out of 11 teams and the women’s team took 3rd out of 5 teams so I say “Well done, United States Armed Forces!”  Justin forgot his Aspire pillow at home when he flew out so I’m sure he is looking forward to returning to his bed and his lovely head-cushion.

And just so you understand how much I enjoy sleep, please take a gander at my favorite race finisher’s item, ever…

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Beach to Battleship 70.3 pajama pants!! WHAT!!

On to another of my favorite subjects, nutrition!  I was recently able to sample an entirely plant-based energy supplements called EnergyBits.  The company markets the EnergyBits as having a variety of uses outside of athletics but, of course, my focus was on what this protein-packed supplement might do for me as an athlete.  EnergyBits are algae in pill form, basically. 🙂  It is recommended that you not chew them and that a great number of them be taken at one time.  They are low calorie but contain a ton of protein, as well as a variety of antioxidants.

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My EnergyBits arrived in a tiny little tin.  I refrigerated them to keep them extra fresh.  While refrigeration is not required, it is recommended if you aren’t going to be consuming the product within a few short days.

I used my EnergyBits before a swim workout one day when I was feeling particularly unmotivated and run down.  I didn’t want to consume caffeine because I had a track workout later that day and I have to be careful with my stomach.  The Bits caused me no stomach upset during the swim nor later in the day during my speed work on the track.  I do THINK that I had more energy in the pool than I did prior to taking the EnergyBits but the researcher in me does not believe that this is sufficient evidence to be able to say that I did, indeed, experience an increase in energy. 🙂    I used the rest of my EnergyBits sample up this week before my track workout.  For me, this was the TRUE test.  I have a very sensitive stomach on speed work days.  I can’t even eat my regular quinoa for lunch because it is too high fiber and I eat very few vegetables prior to dinner unless they are well-cooked and not super high fiber.  Thankfully that’s only one evening a week! 🙂  And… there was no stomach upset with the EnergyBits!  Again, I THINK they perked me up some but it’s just really hard to say for certain.  What I CAN say for certain is that they are 1) low calorie, 2) high protein, 3) easy on even the most sensitive stomach, 4) 100% plant-based (They have just one ingredient – 100% organically grown spirulina algae).  Now, I’m not a vegetarian but I can see this being a valuable supplement for individuals who, like me, struggle to consume adequate amount of protein or who live a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.  Definitely worth checking out and I am going to do a give-away.  If you’re interested in sampling some EnergyBits, please comment on this blog post (on wordpress.com, not via Facebook or Twitter) WHY you want to try these little green goodies… and make it humorous because the post that I find most amusing will win! 🙂  You have until 5 p.m. EST on November 27, 2013!  Also, 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.

Alright, time to wrap this up because I have a very important date with my Bedgear Balance pillow this evening!

Humpty Dumpty

Meet Bill.

 

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(Bill is the awesome one with the “woooo” pose.)

 

Bill is an IronMan.  He is also a friend and one of my favorite training partners (though not for running… he’s too fast and almost killed me once when I tried to run with him).  Bill is one of my absolute favorite cycling buddies.  He can push me, he is incredibly encouraging and he is very safe.  He also has friends who make great cycling buddies and great breakfasts!

Last Saturday, Bill was riding with a medium-sized group of cyclists here in Norfolk, VA, when he was hit by a truck that failed to stop at an intersection.  He is alive and all of his major bits and pieces are intact, thank God, but he is definitely a bit broken at the moment.  While Bill was in no way at fault for his accident, there were some lessons learned and from the incident.  I wanted to write this blog in order to share those lessons with you, to ask for all of your prayers for thorough healing, and to publicly say that I’m very pleased that he is still alive.

Bill specifically requested that I mention the importance of Road ID or some similar identification marker.  While he was riding with his cell phone and his ID card, those were in his back jersey pocket and were not accessible when he was laying on his back in the middle of the road.  Having emergency contacts and basic identifying information, as well as information about any existing medical conditions, can be priceless in such situations.  Bill urges you all to purchase and wear some type of identification that can be easily accessed in the case of emergencies.

Of note, also, is the importance of wearing a helmet.  I did not get a picture of Bill’s helmet but I did hold it in my hands and I must say that it was startling to see the blood stain.  Without the helmet, that blood stain would have been much larger and it is unlikely that Bill would have lived.  Wear a helmet.  Not wearing a helmet means risking your own life.  If that’s not enough of a deterrent, you’re also risking the happiness and financial well-being of your family and significant other.  Should you sustain a serious head injury but survive, you are likely to suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).  While there are some individuals with TBIs who make full recoveries and some who recover the majority of their previous functioning with some cognitive deficiencies, there are many who do not.  There are many who become drooling vegetables or poorly behaved adult children.  By not protecting your cranium, you are potentially placing your mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister, etc at risk because somebody is going to have to spend the rest of their (or your) life caring for you if you suffer a traumatic brain injury that renders you unable to work, interact within social norms, and otherwise function like a healthy adult.  Wear your effing helmet.

I also learned, today, that Bill’s initial injuries were much more severe than he was originally aware.  He would have likely lost his leg had it not been for the emergency first aid performed by one of the cyclists with whom he was riding.  Bill strongly recommends that athletes acquire basic knowledge in first aid. Personally, I know that I’ve passed people on race courses that I wished I could have helped.  I recently did acquire a first aid/CPR certification as a Girls on the Run assistant coach but before that.  I wish I had possessed the knowledge sooner.

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Bill is an amazing guy with a fantastic attitude.  I was blessed to be there the first time he sat up in a wheelchair following the accident. That might not sound like much but it was really quite an accomplishment.  He has a long way to go and has undergone multiple surgeries this week, referring to himself as “Humpty Dumpty.”  Fortunately, the well-trained hospital staff have had better luck than “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men,” which makes sense because horses don’t even have opposable thumbs.  Anywho, I love the smile on his face here and I have definitely had Bill on my mind this week when I didn’t feel like heading out into the cold for a run.  I have to appreciate what I have.  Even Bill is appreciating how lucky he is.

 

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Mental Muscle Needs Recovery, Too!

Hello, friends!

When I wrote my race recap last week, I was just commencing my end of season break! 😀  There’s always a lull after a big race so that I have time to rest and recover but this was more than a lull.  For the first time since beginning my coach/athlete relationship with Dai, I didn’t have a training plan for the week.  I worked out three times, but only because I felt like it at the time… no sense of obligation.  More importantly than giving my body a rest (because I already do that at regular intervals), I gave my brain a break as well!

We were taught in our social psychology class that will power/self-control is very much like a muscle.  In order for it to get stronger, it must be exercised but just like other muscles, it also needs to rest periodically in order to benefit from the strain of exercise.  One of the areas in which I most frequently exercise self-control is my nutrition.  Since I was letting the ole self-control muscle take a rest, I spent the week on a binge of sorts.  I wasn’t exactly seeking out opportunities to eat poorly but I wasn’t forcing myself to say “no” when something presented itself.  This week, I consumed six beers, two glasses of wine, two biscuits, four pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread pudding, buttered mashed potatoes, two cream-filled donuts, two chocolate chip cookies, about a pound of no-bake cookies, brownies, cinnamon bunt cake, chocolate bunt cake, and… finally, some Cold Stone Creamery goodness. 😀

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I realize this doesn’t look that pretty but this pumpkin bread pudding as probably the tastiest of all my splurges this week.

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Mmmmmmm…. recovery Halloween donut… on “buy a donut day” no less!

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And the grand finale!

While I enjoyed my fat-fest this week, the relaxed self-control was just about eating.  I let myself watch some stupid television.  If my alarm went off and I was still tired and didn’t have somewhere to be, I reset my alarm and went back to sleep!  It was a refreshing break but, after a week of eating junk and lazing around, I’m ready to get back into step with my healthy lifestyle.  I’ll still be enjoying treats, just in much more moderation.  I met with Jim White of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios today to discuss my nutrition for the winter season.  We’ll be upping the protein a bit and maying back off the carbs some since I’ll be doing less volume and more intensity for much of the time.  Dai and I met yesterday and firmed up goals for the next year.  I’ll be focusing on the goal of qualifying for the U.S. Age Group team, which means I will need to finish in the top 18 in my Age Group at Nationals.  It won’t be easy and I may not get there, but I’m going to give it go and enjoy the journey! 🙂