Running Tools: hair management

Just a short plug today for  Bondi Bands.    I've tried hats, Goody elastic bands, bandanas, barettes, stretchy narrow headbands.  None of them work very well.  Bondi Bands are stretchy, wide, made from moisture-wicking fabric, and guaranteed to keep your hair out of your face.  They also come in a variety of colors and logos.  

I picked up some tiaras, a garnet and gold Florida State one, and a lime green Tinkerbell inspired one.

I used a promo code to get mine:  "FIVE"  which was five for $25

Also try buy 3 Get 1 Free, promo code: "ONE"

Channeling my inner 'chasqui'

Everyone has heard of the once mighty Incan empire.  What you may not be familiar with, is the chasquis.  Chasqui, in quechua, means “he who receives and gives”, which can be a loose definition of a modern relay runner.  These were the elite athletes of their day.  Chosen from the fastest young men, a chasqui was trained for endurance.  They scrambled up steep mountain trails with the agility of Spiderman and covered mile after mile in a Flash Gordon-like blur.  Dotted throughout the enormous landscape of the Incan Empire were tambos.  These were posted along a vast system of roads, trails, embankments, and rope bridges, known as Capac Nam, covering over 16,000 miles, spread throughout the Inca territory.  Tambos could be anywhere from two to seven miles apart.  Their function was as a rest station; here the chasqui could hand off the message or goods to the next runner, and get food and water for his return trip.  These speedy relay runners became the backbone of the Incan Empire’s communications in their role as royal couriers.

Inca Empire Territory

Speedy is, of course, a relative term, but this is impressive even by today’s standards.  A team of runners could cover up to 250 miles per day, in what is inarguably one of the harshest climates and highest altitudes in the world.  The main purpose was to send official government messages, tax and census data, and political and military updates throughout the territory.  A non-written language required the runners to memorize the message by repeating it over and over, or to carry quipas, an accounting system of colored ropes with knots.  But it served another purpose as well, for the royal family.  Sapa Inca (the divine ruler) wakes up one day and decides he wants fish.  In less than 24 hours, his dinner could travel from the Pacific coast to the Inca capital of Cuzco, over 200 miles inland, still fresh.  Guess it’s good to be the king. 

Oh, and these runners did this without benefit of GPS, energy gels, Powerade, performance fleece, or supportive shoes.  What makes this even more amazing is that the Incas were a short, stocky race of people. The men averaged 5’2”, the women 4’9”.  Think of elite runners today and long-limbed Kenyans come to mind, not the modern-day descendants of the Incan people – Quechua and Aymara Indians, still small and still stocky.

So where did that ability and athleticism come from?  The chasquis were handpicked at a young age from their villages through a series of fiercely competitive trials.  But, the Incas were not known for being a graceful, muscular, or gazelle-like race.  They don’t look to be built for speed.  Living in high altitudes, however, and over several generations, a unique phenomenon occurred.  The Incas developed superhuman lung capacity. One-third greater lung capacity than the average person (5.5 liters), actually. Additionally, they had slower heart rates.  And their bodies carried an extra 2 liters more blood than the average human, with twice the amount of hemoglobin.  To put it into perspective: Lance Armstrong has a lung capacity of 7 liters (less than your average Incan), coupled with his heart three times the size of an average human, with a resting heart rate of 31-34 bpm (comparable to the average Incan).  Lance is a freak of nature –yet uniquely made for endurance, by design.  As were the Incas.

There were approximately one thousand chasquis throughout the empire at a given time.  The chasqui was male, aged 18-25, in his peak physical years.  He was an employee of the state, and was housed and fed from taxes collected by the empire.  He did not have to farm to support his family.  He needed to be on call at all times, so being a chasqui was a full time vocation, and carried a not insignficant status in rural and remote areas.   The uniform consisted of a wool or cotton tunic, sandals, a saddlebag, and a pututu (conch shell) used as a horn to alert the upcoming tambo of arrival and signal the next chasqui to be ready.  The runners also wore a white headdress (that denoted geographic area and rank), and may have served an additional purpose for visibility on the trail.
The Incan empire lasted from 1438 to1525.  The influence of this civilization lasted long beyond that.  As far as speed and efficiency, the chasqui system far outstripped the renowned Roman Empire messengers.  European colonists were extremely impressed.  As recently as 1800, Spanish settlers were still utilizing the best native runners as a courier system, as it was much quicker than horse travel through the mountains.

My parents are from Bolivia, my father is from a lowland area, but my mother is from La Paz, deep in the Andes.  Growing up, I spent many a summer and winter break in this cold mountainous region, learning about our family history and feeling connected, yet torn between two national identities.  Of course, as one grows up - you realize identity and culture don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  I was born and raised in the US, but my ancestry is rooted in the Andes.  The maternal side of the family – many of which still reside in La Paz, are lean, active, and keep on walking everywhere, right up into their eighties.  My mother, herself now nearing seventy, may have a number of health issues – but endurance isn’t one of them.  She is as tireless as a ten year old boy with a pocket full of Pixy-Stix and a brand new bike.  So, there is a chance, however small, that I might have a chasqui ancestor.  I’ll think of him this weekend, during my long run.   -DB

Team Names for your Disney Half or Full Marathon

So our team name for the 2013 Disney Princess HM is "Disney Bride and Groom".
I didn't fully understand the benefits of running in a two person team, but seemed like a good option when that question came up during registration.  DG and I are a team in real life - every day.  So even though we won't be running side-by-side on race day, we are training together, we are preparing for this together and supporting each other through it.  

Maybe someday I will be fast enough that we can keep a comparable pace.  But we are running this race for different reasons.  This is the first HM for us both. For myself - the goal is to finish - preferably in an upright position, on my own steam.  DG wants to finish as well - in the best time he possibly can.  That means he does not intend to stop for character photos.  Me, well, as slow as I am - I may not have the luxury of stopping to use a restroom much less stand in line for a photo. I'll be using every ounce of effort to stay just ahead of the dreaded sweeper bus.  

But different goals aside, we are a team. And like so many others before us, will be our partner's biggest cheerleader come race day.

Just for fun, I looked up past team results and took a peek at all the names.  I almost chose "Happily Ever After" and I see that was a popular option for some husband/wife teams.  Some of the names are hilarious and others are really sweet.  My favorite however, is the very last team on the list, in order of finish times:  a 53 and 54 year old husband/wife team called the "Bionic Duo".  They crossed the finish line together at 3:53:46.  I wanna be one half of a bionic duo when I am 54! Don't you?


Update: I see this page is getting more views than any of my other posts, so I feel I should refresh this a bit with some tips and information.

The 411:  When you register for certain runDisney events: currently the full Marathon, Half marathons, and some of the Challenges, you are given an option to run as part of a Team.

I've found out there are a few tangible benefits to running as a Team:
  • When you check in at the Expo, you will receive two bibs.  The first bib has your name, your runner number, corral letter, and your time tracking chip (on the back). The second bib has your runner number and your team name.  Whether you wear your Team bib or not, it makes a great race souvenir.
  • There are designated award categories for races with Teams:  e.g. for Princess: Sister/Sister, Mother/Daughter, Co-ed Open, Female Open, etc.  So you will have an overall ranking, and also a team ranking for your race(s).
  • You will have a buddy to pump you up through the training months and on race day.  Whether you run side by side the whole race, or start in separate corrals and meet up at the finish line, you are no longer just running for yourself.  Your team mate is counting on you to finish!
  • Currently, there are no extra fees for Team registration.  That may change in the future, but that is the case right now. (ETA: This has already changed - at least for Princess Half)  Check the registration fees carefully for the event you (and your teammate) plan to run.

So with these great incentives to be in a Team, why NOT?

For name ideas, go crazy and be creative!  
  • Think of your favorite movies or characters or a pun.  
  • If you get stuck, check out previous race results to see what others have come up.  
  • Remember, it is a Disney event, so keep it PG-rated.  
  • For costumes, dress in a similar theme or in identical outfits.

Finally, the most important thing to remember:
On race day, you may wear both bibs or just one. If you wear just one bib, make certain to wear the one with your name and corral (also containing your tracking chip). Event staff and volunteers will be checking bibs at corral entrances.  You don't want to wear the team bib only, and not have proof of your corral placement or your race times.  If you wear the wrong bib, you might be placed into the last corral.  If you want to wear both bibs - and some do, wear the team bib on your back.

Run Happily!

40 is the new 30? Um… Not really. Getting Old Sucks.

DG began running before our wedding, so a little over 10 months ago.  He has dropped over 55 pounds and looks terrific.  He also gets very antsy and easily annoyed if he doesn’t get his workout in.  So I may not have a cuddly couch potato to snuggle with, and watch movies, while nibbling on a mountain of nachos anymore.  But I have a hot guy, that looks ten years younger and will not only be able to care for me in my old age (instead of the other way around) but will outlive me.  I’m good with that. 
DG is also 10 years younger than me.  This was a milestone year for us both:  30 for him, 40 for me.  And boy have I seen my body go downhill in 2012. Let’s start from the top down.
My once super-thick and indestructible hair is drier and delicate… 27years of abuse.  Perms and Sun-In spray in the 80s, alternately bleaching or dying jet-black in the 90s, highlights/lowlights in the 00s, and going blonde in the 10s.  Yep, it all finally caught up with me.  I officially have fragile hair. 
My skin is drier and beginning to lose elasticity. Outdoors, am wearing visors and sunglasses religiously, and feel pangs of guilt when I forget sunscreen.
At the end of a long day at work, I find myself moving reading material or my fine-gauge knitting to a comfortable distance. ME!  The girl who has had enviable hawk-like vision all her life…  I’m actually afraid to get an eye exam, lest I am told to start using reading glasses.    
My dentist tells me that my teeth LOOK nice and bright and white, but I brush too zealously and am destroying my gums.  Now I need to worry about enamel and gum issues. 
My body – don’t get me started.  Bigger than I have ever been and I feel tired all the time. 
Knee pain.   So, about ten years ago, I joined a new gym.  My first day there, I saw a cute boy and hopped on the step machine.  Too optimistically.  I didn’t fiddle with the settings, but started showing off and I felt a not-so-funny twinge. Now it comes back from time to time – to remind me to set the machine to MY ability and not be a show-off.  Knee soreness is mostly under control and doesn’t bother me while running.  But I do have to baby it during my non-running days, occupied by another new love:  Zumba. But that deserves its own blog post another time.
Heel pain.  Plantar Fasciitis. I hate you.  It appeared five years.  I went to a podiatrist, he made some rigid orthotic inserts – that I never wore because they don’t fit in any cute shoes.  But he gave me a great piece of advice – ditch the crocs, flipflops, and stop going barefoot.  And I did.  And the pain went away – for several years.  But it came back.  And how can I run with PF?  Let’s just say it hurts.  But it is getting better. 

How?  I swallowed a very bitter pill and gave up my sexy strappy heels.  It is CLARK’s or Aerosoles for the office. Birki’s when I am not at work. And no going barefoot.  Birks are my house slippers, my weekend shoes, my sandals, my beach flipflops, etc.  I always have a pair with me. Luckily, I found cute Disney Birki’s to make the ugliness of a big clunky shapeless shoe bearable.  These are the three pairs I currently own, and am working on getting a few more.

See!  Adorable, right?  I would be miserable in boring solid-color Birks.  But these make it bearable.
So there I am. Top to Toe.  Falling apart like my beloved Jeep.  She is eight years old, needs new tires, and occasional pep talks.  But she runs.  Not as smooth as she was in 2004. But then again – Jeeps have never been smooth.  They ride a bit rough and tumble.  Same as me.
But instead of feeling like I have one foot in the grave, I’m going to run.  I’m going to become stronger and leaner.  I’m going to look good to my suddenly-studly DG. (Well, he was always studly to me, but now everyone else seems to be noticing.)

Eye on the prize.

I will be honest.  I signed up for the Princess Half Marathon because of the bags.
 Yep.  Gorgeous, ain’t it?
And only available in limited quantities at the expo.
I started running again about a month ago, after about a three year hiatus… and a substantial weight gain during that time.  But I set this HM goal to get my hands on this adorable and high coveted bag.  Sure I get to wear a tutu and get hugs from Mickey at the finish line. But it is really all about the BAG!