Why so few?

AAUW, formerly known as the American Association of University Women, recently released a report titled: Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

AAUW was selected by the National Science Foundation to conduct the study outlined in the report, digging deep into the reasons and implications of the lack of women in the STEM fields. The report describes several ways in which schools (from grade school through university), communities, families, and the workplace can create a better environment to disrupt negative stereotypes associated with women in science and math.

One really cool thing (among a lot of other really cool things) was the entire chapter dedicated to spatial skills. The spatial-skills training research of Sheryl Sorby, a professor at Michigan Tech, was featured in the report. Sorby, who literally wrote the book on learning spatial visualization, identified methods for improving retention, particularly of female students, who learn these skills.  Many engineering students see spatial visualization as the walk-in-the-door, take-the-test-determinant of whether or not they’ll be a good engineer. They do not necessarily realize that spatial visualization is not innate, it is learned. Sorby says:

Most engineering faculty have highly developed 3-D spatial skills and may not understand that others can struggle with a topic they find so easy. Furthermore, they may not believe that spatial skills can be improved through practice, falsely believing that this particular skill is one that a person is either “born with” or not. They don’t understand that they probably developed these skills over many years.

The report goes on to describe a plethora of other important points related to female success and retention in STEM fields. It offers a thorough list of recommendations at the end of each chapter and at the end of the report as well.

Some cool highlights of the report:

  • Although women are the majority of college students, they are far less likely than their male peers to plan to major in a STEM field (page 5 of report)
  • Women’s representation among tenured faculty is lower than one would expect based on the supply of female science and engineering doctoral degree recipients in recent decades (Kulis et al, 2002, from page 17 of report)
  • Expose girls to successful female role models in math and science (recommendation, from page 42 of report)
  • Encourage students to have a more flexible or growth mindset about intelligence (figure below, from recommendation, from page 42 of report)
  • Teachers and professors can reduce reliance on stereotypes by making performance standards and expectations clear (recommendation, from page 50 of report)
  • Make a female-friendly department by sponsoring a women-in-science group (recommendation, from page 65 of report)
  • Conduct departmental reviews to assess the climate for female faculty (recommendation, from page 72 of report)
  • Spread the word about girls’ and womens’ achievements in math and science (recommendation, from page 90 of report)

    A growth mindset promotes persistence in STEM (from page 34 of report)

I encourage everyone to head over to AAUW’s website and download a copy of it.

Remember: Running Shoe Turnover

Did you know:

  • You should swap out shoes at least every 500miles? Sometimes, depending on the shoes, it’s more frequent than that. Lighter weight shoes typically don’t last as long.
    • For example, I tally mileage on my Saucony Hurricanes. When I hit 350miles, I order a new pair (because I’ll probably get to 500 in the next week or two)
    • My Fastwitch 3s are my designated intensity-workout-only shoe. I try to minimize the mileage on these babies, and swap them out after ~4wks of training and 2-3 races. That’s about 150miles.
    • I try to race on fresher shoes that have been slightly broken in. 2-5 runs usually gets them there (just when the laces fit nice)
  • Not every shoe is right for you?
    • Some people need support. Some people don’t. To run in the wrong shoe can lead to injury. Visit your local running store and find out what shoe is best for you.
  • It’s important to let your shoes ‘refresh’ after a run?
    • The soles of your running shoes are likely made out of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) which provides cushioning. It’s an elastomeric polymer, and it is typically happy to return to its original shape after being loaded. However, over time, EVA “packs out” because the little microscopic EVA foam gets compressed together to a point where it isn’t so happy to return to its original shape. If you let your shoes recover after a run, you give them more time to return to their original shape for your next run. It’s still not a good idea to try and get more than 500miles out of them, but the shoes hopefully won’t feel so dead when you’re out on your second run for the day if you’re in a different, “refreshed” pair. If you plan on doing 2-a-days, grab a second pair of shoes to rotate between.
  • you should store your shoes in a cool, dry, dark place?
    • UV can break down the EVA and suck the life out of your shoes. Keep them out of the sun (put them in a box or in a shaded area) and keep them cool (try not to keep them right by the heat vent for a long period of time) and you have a better chance of feeling good in the shoes through 3-400 miles.

I just ordered a new pair of racers for the Salt Lake City Marathon next month, the Saucony ProGrid Guides. They are a little lighter than the Hurricanes, but have more support than my lightweight trainers, the Fastwitch 3s. I am hesitant to use the FT3s for the full distance, open marathon. Last fall at the Columbus Marathon, I wore the Brooks ST3s and – although I went mega-fast – I fell apart biomechanically in the last five miles. I figure I need some more support, at least for now, to get me through the longer distance race.

I also ordered a replacement pair of the Saucony Hurricanes. I recently bought some of the ProGrid Omni 8s, and they just don’t do it for me. I feel sluggish and heavy… but that could be because I have been using them mostly for Ingot repeats. I think they allow my feet to pronate too much without being lightweight like my trainers. Nothing like trying them all, eh?

Looking forward before digging deep.

Today, the wind was blustery and the snowflakes flew. I knew it. I knew it was going to happen. Did I not call it? Sometimes I hate being right. I told my advisor today I am a pessimist, but only in times when I don’t feel like getting my hopes up (or crushed, in this case).

All I wanted to do was ride my bike on a beautiful Friday afternoon for a few hours, but in hindsight, I was glad the weather was sour. I had a lot of work to do on campus, so sneaking away for the afternoon would have been bad in the end. Anyway, as I wait patiently for Spring numero dos to arrive, I’d like to share with you some things I look forward to…

Salt Lake City Marathon – My first marathon at elevation, Baberaham will be running his first open running race ever (seriously), and I am hoping to help him get to a 3:40. Plus, I will get to visit with my old roomie, Marc, and see the sights of Salt Lake. Yaay, mountains!

American Triple T – Three days, 4 races, and an iron-distance worth of racing. I am stoked. This will be the first tri of the season for me, and it is a weekend full of ’em.

Minnesota Mountain Bike Series The title sponsor for the 2010 season is Peace Coffee, and some of the races I’m thinking about throwing on my schedule include the Bluff Rider’s Charge and the Wheelhouse Classic. The nice thing about living in da yoop is that traveling to races in Wisconsin and Minnesota is not too terribly difficult, and I can usually find a good crew to head that way too. Everyone ’round here likes to race.

Rev3 races – Since I am now registered for all three Rev3 events (oooh yeah!), I have to make some decisions. Should I do the premiere race at Knoxville (and my first ever Olympic distance)? I’m currently signed up for the half, because I love the half distance…  Will I be totally tanked after Triple T for the half in Quassy? Personally, I think training in the Keweenaw and racing Triple T will put me in prime position to rock-it at Quassy, but I suppose we’ll see on race day. And of course, there’s the Cedar Point Full, close to home and swimming in Lake Erie with the fishes. 🙂

WORS Mountain Bike Races – Some of my bike buds (including the owners of The Bike Shop) frequent the WORS races, again because they are so dang close. I plan on doing at least one, maybe two of these. WORS is America’s largest mountain bike race series, some serious racers come out to compete. Whether I am racing or spectating, it will be a great time.

Kuparisaari Tri – This will be the first triathlon I’ve ever directed. With the help of Bob, the co-director (former R.D. for the Copperman), we hope to bring the Midwestern Racers one of the most scenic and well organized half iron distance triathlons they’ve seen.

I gots it.

On Saturday, I hammered out a helloriffic 22miler with Marg to Calumet. Nothing beats 800ft of climbing between miles and 16 and 18. Pretty sure that made the last three miles feel like a breeze. I gots it.

On Sunday, I went out again for another 11 with some MegaTough ladies. Funny how an hour and half can go by so fast. I gots it.

I’m planning on joining the big boys on some group rides this spring. Tucking in with some speedsters can only make me stronger, right? These dudes are legit. I will get dropped off the back. But I gots it.

I also signed up for the Rev3 Quassy Half. Now I’m in it for all three Rev3 events. I am actually considering shortening the Knoxville plan and doing my first Olympic tri there so I can squeeze into all the ‘premiere’ events. So much for thinking about volunteering as a bike leader on the run course… I gots it.

Tune in tomorrow to Rev3Tri on BlogTalkRadio. Matty Reed will be interviewed by Simply Stu and Heather. Matty’s registered for all three Rev3s. He won Quassy last year. Dude is legit. He gots it.

How to brew the perfect cup of coffee

I suppose it’s fitting that I am a grad student and I like coffee. Ok, that might be an understatement. I need it. To function.

When I was living in Bozeman, I would hit up the Daily Coffee Bar nearly once a day for a scone and a cup of brew (or a pumpkin spice latte, if the season was right). Since I am very passionate about buying and supporting local businesses, the Daily was right up my alley, because they got their beans from Yellowstone Coffee (distributed right out of Bozeman!). When I moved back to Michigan, I shopped at my local co-op, where I stumbled upon two regional coffee roasters- Twin Lakes Roastery and Peace Coffee. Now, I put my nose in the air to any coffee that doesn’t come freshly ground. Not shade grown? Not gonna drink it. If I am desperate, I may resort to a cup of Starbucks from the MUB, but that’s only if I forget to bring my french press to campus (the beans aren’t a problem- I usually keep a stash in my desk).

So, now- I might actually classify myself as a coffee snob. And I am perfectly ok with that.

Hello. My name is Megan, and I’m a coffeeholic.

So it’s no surprise that I would often be rolling my eyes when my former office-mate would re-brew already brewed grounds in our office’s pot. It took all I had to hold back my gag reflex. I never offered to share my coffee with him. I thought it to be of the more deserving of tastebuds (see, I’m a snob).

It could be that he had never experienced good coffee, and he was just fiending for some caffeine to keep his brain functioning. Or, it could be that he really didn’t have tastebuds. Whatever the case may be, I thought I’d share with my bloggy buddies some little tricks and tidbits about how to really savor your next cup of joe.

Step 1: Pick the right bean.

Finding the right coffee beans can be overwhelming. At first, it seems as if each brand has about a bajillion different types of roasts, beans, and origin. And in some instances, this may be true. Luckily, most companies provide a short description with their packaging to help along the way. Here’s a rundown of typical coffee roasts which dictates the flavor of the bean!

Roast types

Italian Roast – Not very acidic, almost bittersweet, Italian roasts go past the second crack of the bean in the roasting process. It’s one of the darkest roasts. Spanish roasted beans are practically black.

French Roast (and espresso) – Second darkest bean that comes really dark brown. French is one of the most popular roasts. The beans are shiny, the flavor is upfront, bold (and non-specific), but not lingering. The flavor is a little “burnt”- crisp, and sometimes smoky. These include Turkish roasts and traditional “dark” roasts. Americans use this type of bean for espresso. These beans are roasted past the first crack, and sometimes just past the second crack.

City Roast – a medium roasted bean, the flavors are bright, full, and acidic. Beans are stopped roasting after the first crack.

Full City Roast – darker than the City Roast, lower acidity too. Italians use this type of bean for espresso, but its not to be confused with the dark Italian roast. It’s really only a medium level roast. Beans are between the first and second crack.

Cinnamon Roast – very light roast, where the beans are not heated up barely enough to crack. These are typically sour-tasting coffee beans

Region types – Coffee beans are grown on coffee trees (tropical evergreen shrubs) between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Temperature (soil temperature around 28C) and humidity (+90%) are key components to growing this finicky crop. Different regions yield different flavored beans. There are so many, I’m not going to list them all here. But I will tell you my favorites!

Ethiopian – (Yirgacheffee or Longberry) citrus and chocolate flavors, often roasted light or medium to preserve the lighter flavors. Ethiopian Sidamo is one of my favorite kinds of coffee, because its strong and full of flavor with a strong aftertaste.

Sumatran – Very smooth yet full flavor, low acidity with medium-dark roast. Sumatran has a lighter aftertaste that doesn’t linger, if the beans are roasted right.

Money-saving tip – Head to your local co-op and try the daily-brew they have available, or buy a small amount of whole beans from the bulk section. You can get enough to make one or two pots of coffee, and if you end up not liking the bean or roast, you aren’t out too much money (and aren’t wasting those beans).

Step 2: Freshly grind your beans! I never buy already-ground beans anymore. Maxwell House and Folgers are a no-no. I have a nice coffee grinder from Mr Coffee, and I grind beans fresh every morning (or the night before if the coffee pot is set on auto-start). Other options include a burr mill or crushing the beans using a mortar and pestle. Depending on what style of coffee you’re going for, there are many different ways to grind.

General rule of thumb: 1-2 tbsp coffee grounds for every 6-8oz water. I eye-ball measure it, and with our coffee pot (10cup) I’ve figured out that just below the grinder’s rim is enough beans.

Don’t refrigerate your beans, either! Store them in a dark place (like in a cabinet or opaque container).

Want a less bitter brew? Don’t grind up your beans too fine. Having bigger grounds (less surface area) reduces the strength of the coffee (and the amount of caffeine that is extracted), and reduces the bitterness. You can also limit this bitterness by choosing lighter colored beans (really dark beans are likely to be more bitter).

Step 3: Go pure! Always use a clean coffee pot and cold, clean water. If your water has a chlorine taste, get a water filter pitcher (like a Brita) and use water from that to brew your coffee. If you are noticing your coffee quality is going down, clean the coffee maker with vinegar (grounds and minerals from the water can get into the coffee maker and clog things up!). Don’t use distilled or softened water.

Step 4: Brew!  Drip coffee makers are easy to use- just put the coffee in the filter, pour the water in the “tank”, close the lid, and press a button. There are other ways to do it, though.

Steep– French press isn’t that much more complicated than conventional coffee makers, but the flavors are slightly different even with the same bean. These are the plunger-style coffee pots. They are little more messy compared to conventional drip coffee makers, and grounds are more frequently found in the bottom of the cup. Using a coarse grind prevents the grounds getting through the plunger. I have a handy coffee mug that has a built-in French press. Probably one of the coolest kitchen tools I have.

Pressure – Espresso is a different style of brewing coffee, not necessarily a different type of bean. To make proper espresso, one must have a high-pressure stream of hot water that is forced through tightly-packed (and finely ground) coffee beans.

Turkish brew – A stove-top method for making coffee, this yields a strong and foamy cup of joe. Finely ground beans and water are boiled and then immediately removed from heat in a special pot called an ibrik.

When I am at the office and don’t have access to an automatic coffee maker, I sometimes stash coffee filters in my desk drawer. I set the coffee filter in my big coffee cup and wrap the edges around the rim of the cup, and put a few tablespoons of grounds in the filter. Then, I fill up the cup by pouring hot (almost boiling) water over the grounds until the grounds make a sort of “soup” with the water. I let it sit for a few minutes, and then remove the filter. If the filter is big enough, it takes up about half the real estate of my mug’s volume, which makes my coffee a bit stronger (because the beans have more contact with the water).

Step 5: Enjoy your cuppa joe! Whether its on a Sunday morning after a long run or before work during the week, take the time to enjoy your cup of coffee. Avoid just drinking it just to get your caffeine “fix”! There’s always five minutes to sip on a delicious cup of fresh brewed coffee and put your mind at ease before starting the day.


Peace Coffee- Map My Beans

The Coffee Wiki

How to Brew Coffee- National Coffee Association

The World of Coffee – Florida Brasil

Yellowstone Coffee

Come see how good I look

City Light crew sock. One of four pairs of socks I own that I am not allowed to use for running (under my own discretion).

Zoolander is probably one of my favorite movies. Ok, it’s a little dumb. And it might be one of two movies that I find Ben Stiller entertaining and annoying at the same time. But dumb is good. It’s a movie where I don’t have to think, I can just laugh and cling on to the catchy phrases for weeks to come.

So, “what’s the dealio, yo?” Well, yesterday, when I got a boatload of new-clothes goodies in the mail, I decided to play “Come see how good I look!”. I will admit that spending several hundred dollars on new clothes is probably not in the best interest of a grad student. But, when you live several hundred miles away from a mall and the only shopping you do is for groceries and the occasional bike part, a splurge every once in a while probably balances out (I can honestly say that I haven’t been in the door of a Macy’s in over four years). After my ride yesterday afternoon, and a quick shower, I tried on everything outta the box (as any girl should when delivery of new clothes occurs). Since I was in such desperate need of some nice, casual clothes, I didn’t feel so bad about making room in my drawer by pulling out ratty old race shirts. I have  committed to donating approximately three thousand pounds of race shirts, sweaters and jeans from high school, and shirts that I have and have never worn (except to try on) to Goodwill when Baberaham and I move out of our apartment. So, as soon as the 2010 Spring/Summer line came out at Icebreaker, I was all over it. Good news, the clothes (all eight items) came in a box the size of a shoebox. Way to be environmentally conscious, IB!

It’s that damn Icebreaker, and it’s so hot right now! Icebreaker.

Amazon Scoop, Butterfly Line (Superfine 150 Print)

Along with throwing another GT item in my training-clothes drawer (I got the GT Dash long sleeve, in thistle; absolutely gorgeous color), I also decided I needed some jazzy short sleeve casual shirts.  I really like the feel of the Superfine 150 tops, and I am now actually afraid that I won’t be able to wear a “normal” cotton shirt again. The tops fit through the waist, and are even a little on the long side. The Amazon Scoop neck is a little wider (more like a boatneck) than deep (no cleavage here!). It might fit differently for more (ahem) well-endowed-in-the-chest women.

Tech Tee Lite, Sunrise (Superfine 150 Print)

The Tech Tee Lite is more like an athletic fit, and it has a really rad pattern across the back. I really like the tight-fitting of the sleeves. I don’t have to worry about raising my arm and my armpits showing (I loathe cap-sleeves), nor do I have to worry about readjusting the shirt because the sleeves are too tight. I wouldn’t put myself in the scrawny-arm category, so I am quite satisfied with the fit of these sleeves.

Next thing, after trying it all on, was to go to Icebreaker.com to see where my new wears came from. Such a sweet feature! Practically all the Icebreaker gear come with a tag on the inside with a “BAACode”- where you can plug in the code online and see where the wool that made your apparel came from.

My Amazon scoop top came from one of three sheep stations on the South Island.

Abbie is an ambiturner.

She looked left!

Abbie approved, and she couldn’t help but snuggle up next to me in my new shirt (and show me her Zoolander skills). For those of you who have never met Abs, you should know that she is not the most social of butterflies and usually avoids sitting near me at any cost (but for some reason she really enjoys the company of Baberaham who takes pleasure in making her life miserable). Nonetheless, having her approach me in my new soft shirt must have been a seal of approval.

Lastly, I got my first long-sleeve dress shirt, merino wool Meridian in Fiesta. The color is quite pink, and it matches the colors online. In fact, all the tops are practically the same shade as that online. No disappointing “Well I thought it was more pink than that!”- Not that I really want more pink (I’m not so much a pink-girl). But I really like the color. It’s earthy and the top fits nearly perfect. Again, its long through the waist. The sleeves are long and the edges and seams are very delicate. The top is a little see-through, so I will definitely have to throw a camisole under it.

The longsleeve Meridian in Fiesta makes for a nice, professional v-neck top.

I'm really worried that merino wool undies will spoil me ...

I also got my first pair of merino wool undies, the Nature bikini. It came in a box with a really awesome photo of New Zealand. Man, I miss that place.

Here’s to having a little piece of New Zealand with me every day. On my feet, my bum, or my torso. Woohoo! Seriously, there has to be more to life than looking really, really, ridiculously good looking.

Spring #1 has arrived

I must be cautious in my choice of words. You see, in the UP, spring doesn’t come just once a year. Oh, no. Typically, spring comes, and we get all excited because we can bike outside, run on roads without Yaktraks, and even (dare I say it?) sunbathe on our back porches.

And then we get a mid-April blizzard that layers a few feet of snow on the ground.

But never you mind. Spring is one of my four favorite times of year! Ok, maybe five.

Today I celebrated Spring #1 with a two-hour ride on 203. Nothing puts a winter’s worth of training on an indoor trainer into perspective than actually climbing 700ft elevation gain in about six miles. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself.

I haven’t had the opportunity to take my Jamis Xenith Race road bike out on the roads yet, and the trainer just doesn’t do it the justice it deserves. The bike is fast. Responsive. It transfers power so efficiently. I felt like I was floating over bumps in the road. And it is even a little twitchy (ok, its a lot twitchy, but that’s good, it’s a race bike!). I even careened down the hill going practically an order of magnitude faster, and I actually felt in control (sort of).

I wore my Icebreaker GT 260 Rapid Leggings (merino wool), and a moderately-thick pair of Icebreaker Hike Mid-Crew socks (merino wool). My feet didn’t get cold, even without shoe covers, and my legs felt great with a single layer of clothing (and my knees were happy).  The leggings are not cumbersome at all, and they are actually more like running tights than pants. Even still, I felt warm and toasty even on the descents. Three long sleeve tops, including my Icebreaker GT long-sleeve Chase Zip, a Mountain Hardwear Transition (windbreaker-type shirt), and my Honey Stinger jersey kept my temperature cool, even in the wind (and boy, was it windy).

I also got to test out my new shades on the bike (note the Trakkers green). They are actually called “team green” and they are custom made sunglasses (the HalfJackets by Oakley). I like ’em. They stay put on my face, keep me from squinting outta control, and I barely feel them.

Luckily, my buddy Erik has been out on the roads and he knew how clear 203 would be. It was perfect. There was very little gravel, and the traffic was minimal. It was fun riding past snowbanks, although it may have been better earlier this week when the snowbanks were a few feet taller. I guess that is what 50F weather will do.

Before the ride, Erik and I met up at the pool for a little swim swam swum. I wasn’t too motivated, so I did a few 100s and dinked around with my video camera. Note to self: don’t forget your swim cap in your locker next time. I could have easily got out of the pool to grab it, but its always that much colder walking into the locker room, and I would have probably not returned.

Speaking of swimming- My personal version of Swim Week is coming up in T-minus ten days. Hold on to your goggle straps as I attempt something I am not really looking forward to trying.

Along with biking and running, Erik and I (along with Marg) have been hammering out hill repeats once a week up Ingot in Hancock. Our stretch is nearly a mile exactly, and it is quite a humbling feat. Nothing screams “Do more hills” than actually running up more hills. And to think, I used to be fast up them. I need to focus on attacking the hills, cuz that’s the way I was raised.

So I leave you with a tired sack of sitbones, and the knowledge that my bike is back on its rack (my trainer, of course). The forecast for the rest of the week here in Houghton calls for 40F and rain, rain, rain. Goodbye snow. For now.

Check out The Frayed Laces Grad-Student-Athlete-Chica Roundtable

The blogosphere is quite entertaining sometimes. It really surprises me how small a world it really is, and it’s really encouraging to find “others like me” in a world that I once thought was so big.

I started this thing as a means to connect with my family in a well-rounded package. I could post photos and words and “my day today was (blank)”- and it satisfied my mom, my dad, my grandparents, etc. Eventually, the internet worked its magic and some folks I didn’t know in person started following my blog. I started to find people that liked to run, liked to bike, liked to learn, liked to teach. I found grad students, engineers, professionals, athletes, and the like. I even found my teammates before they were my teammates (Jamie and Sonja in particular)

In the mix, and I’m not exactly sure how, I found Frayed Laces. She is a grad student (like me), a runner (like me), and a fairly-newbie triathlete (ok, I think you get the point). No, we’re not the same person. She’s definitely not on a gluten free diet, and she lives in Hawaii. And she studies different stuff (but she does junky on the Matlab every once in a while).

Recently, she put the word out on the interwebs about a grad student/gal discussion she wanted to host. She sent me an email and I was quick to respond. The topic– Balancing Graduate School and Training: A Female Perspective.

Who could pass that up? Check out our dialogue on her blog at Frayed Laces. Here’s hoping I didn’t say anything incriminating, because I know my advisor reads this (ohh, interwebs).

Don’t forget: It’s what you do after the run that counts (too)

When I ran in college, I was a (shockingly) a little less regimented with my recovery than I am now. Maybe it was because I was young and spry. Maybe it had more to do with my love of dancing and party-natured roommates (and my love of college-type beverages). Or, perhaps, it had more to do with the fact that I raced 5Ks, not marathons. Whatever the case may be, I have changed my post-workout and post-race mentality quite a bit since I was 20. I guess when your body starts to protest, you kinda have to listen.

This week was the biggest mileage week I’ve had for running since … I’m not sure when. Might have been last summer, when I was training for Ironman Wisconsin, or it might have even happened before that. I honestly can’t recall (mostly because I trained by hours for IMWI). Anyway, I threw in close to 70miles this week (68, actually), without any two-a-days for running and with two days sans-run (because I didn’t run every day this week, that may have actually helped my recovery).

I am feeling pretty darn good. Today’s 21mile run pushed 30sec/mile negative splits even before the halfway point. The route we picked included a 550ft climb in two of the first three miles (up Quincy hill). The drastic up-and-down’s of the Keweenaw will keep a runner honest, and even though I caught my Garmin reading 7:15s in some instances for longer stretches, our fastest mile was just around 8minutes.

Quincy Hill is a "hufta" at the beginning of a long run.

Midway through the week, after taking a rest day form the Hills from Hell (which we have done two weeks in a row, now… I’ll be sure to tell ya’ll about those at a later date), I was having a weird tightness in my adductor. So I spent some quality time with my massage baller this week, as well as pampering my legs with some Chomper Body’s muscle butter. It’s got a similar feel of like IcyHot, only not nearly as stinky and not as intense. Perhaps the key to good muscle butters is their ability to promote circulation, and getting the blood in there to get the lactic acid out. Chomper’s are also all-natural, which gives their products an extra bonus in my book. The muscle butter feels like cool breaths of someone blowing ice on your legs. A little goes a long way (I usually dip my fingertip in the jar and it’s enough to cover both my inner thighs). I’ve also tried the Warming Up Cream by Sportique, which is quite nice, although I do not recommend it to be used after shaving!

As far as real good recovery goes, nothing beats the real thing: 1hour sessions with my trigger point massage therapist, Mel. Probably because she doesn’t relent even when I am “eeeking” and “ouching”, and even crying. But when I can’t get in to see her, and for general maintenance, I’ve picked up a good habit in using Trigger Point Therapy’s products.

What exactly do I do with the massage baller? Well, usually I use it on my shoulder when it gets sore from swimming to relieve some of the tightness near my supraspinatus (the muscle on the top part of my shoulder blade, for you non-anatomy driven folk). I became a believe in their product after it allowed me to regain full range of motion at the IMWI expo (two days before the race, I could barely raise my arm above my head). But as of late, though, I’ve been using it to relieve some pains-in-the-rear. I sit on the ball, close to where the tightness is (and with clean clothes on, of course), and rotate my leg in small circles with my knee either bent or straight, depending on how much pain I can handle. I “search” for the hot-spot, the location that is really tight on my glutes that needs some relieving. Sometimes, I will just lift myself up with my hands and roll the ball on the lateral side of my butt muscles. Hurts so good. I don’t show it as well, but the goal of this is to tilt my hips toward the ball to target my piriformis.

The Grid is also pretty neat for treating tightness of the IT band

I use the footballer to alleviate any tightness in my calves. Funny thing about biomechanics: pains in the feet and calves can be translated upward, into the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It’s best to nip any tightness before it gets out of control. My favorite trick is to put the footballer slightly superior to my ankle. Then, I rest my non-massage-foot on the top of my massage-foot’s shin, and press juuuust a little. I rotate my massage-foot in circles, sometimes lifting my butt and moving myself a little forward to move the footballer up my calf. This has helped keep me from getting super sore later in the day after an intense run (I use TPTherapy either right after a run or after I have a snack and shower). I sometimes give it a go right before bed, too.

Practically everyone talks about what they eat while they are training, and what they put in their bodies before a big workout or race. Race day breakfast? Meal the night before? We know that we need to have these things dialed because otherwise our race/big-workout-day GI system will be all out of whack. But nutrition is really important and often overlooked part of proper recovery after training. Getting in easily-absorbed nutrients to replenish the system and help your body recover from the stresses you just put it through is key if you want to get stronger. I make sure to get in two-scoops of Ultragen after each big/hard run (today’s 21 miler was one of those). I also try to get some food in my system within the first hour, too. Today, I enjoyed a peanut butter and chocolate scone from the SillyYak Bakery (out of Madison, Wisconsin). Baberaham’s mom sent us a box heaping full of delicious- and gluten free!- treats to stock our freezer with. What better timing?! I am really excited. We got a pumpkin pecan coffee cake, and Baberaham doesn’t like coffee cake… so I am one lucky girl (here’s hoping I don’t try to eat the entire thing before the weekend’s over). Additionally, for the rest of the day, and tomorrow (a recovery, easy-training day) I will make a strong effort to stay hydrated, replenish lost electrolytes, and not eat crappy foods. Oddly enough, minus the coffee cake, I don’t really crave ‘crappy’ foods (french fries, candy bars, etc) after a hard workout or race. Usually, I would just kill for a Keweenaw Co-Op salad with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese…

It’s important to keep moving after a hard workout or race, too. Just because you crossed the finish line doesn’t mean your done. Walk around a bit, flush out the legs. If you are going to sit, prop up your feet (and take a nap!). Although not proven in clinical studies, runners can experience deep-vein thrombosis, which is why it’s not a great idea to do a race and hop right into the car for a long drive (or get on a plane right away). Compression socks help circulation, and might give your legs a happy-feeling after a hard workout anyway. I am not too geeked on spending $60 on a pair of socks, though, so I go with the ol’ geriatric-style socks from Walmart (yes, they are beige, but who really cares? $20 beats $60 any day).

Speaking of which, time to go walk around downtown on this absolutely sunny, beautiful day. Happy training!