Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Henna-henna-bo-benna...so, you're thinking about using henna for color? Or maybe you just want to add some strength to your hair? Well, you can get either of these things accomplished with a good, body art quality henna. I have several people ask me about henna in the last few weeks. I'll tell you about my experience, but keep in mind this is a YMMV situation for sure and try to provide some direction:

Before you go out and buy anything, you need to read Henna For Hair. She has really laid out pretty much all the information you need to know, and then some. She talks about the types of henna, using indigo on top of henna to make a darker color, mixing the henna colors, etc. Keep in mind that the color of your hair after you henna is dependent on what you start with. If you start out with light colored hair, your change is going to be much more noticeable. With mine, you can see it on my grays, but the overall color is more noticeable in the sun.

Henna deposits color on your strands. It is not going to lift color or lighten. I have seen people strip the color from their hair and then henna. To me, that defeats the purpose of trying to add color in a healthy manner...but to each his/her own.

It can be messy the first time. Henna for Hair has some links to YouTube videos on the application of henna. Check those out. I personally like to use Karishma henna:

I have also read about people with highly textured hair using Jamila henna successfully as well. It's going to be one of those things where you have to just try it and see. You can also order henna mixtures from the Henna for Hair website.

I mix my Karishma henna with green tea. I get a box of green tea bags from Trader Joes, boil a small pot of water and let 4 tea bags steep in that for a few minutes. You can just use water, but I like the acidity of green tea to help with color release. I also add a little lime juice - for the scent and the acidity. Again, not necessary - but just some ideas. If you are just using henna as a conditioning treatment, you won't need to worry about trying to get the color to release.

I shampoo and lightly condition my hair before applying henna. At first, I tried it with shampoo only and no conditioner. No bueno. Tangled, dry feeling mess aftewards. I learned that I needed to condition before applying the henna. Sometimes, I lightly apply coconut oil to my hair before applying the henna as well.

One package of Karishma is enough to cover my whole head, liberally. If you have really long hair you're going to need lots more. You really want to glop it on. I tend to do henna on weekends when I don't have much to do. The first time I only left it on for 4 hours because I was not sure what would happen. Now, I have taken to just leaving it on overnight. I wrap Saran Wrap around my head several times as the first layer of protection. I then put two plastic caps over that, and finally I sleep on a red towel - just in case. I haven't had any issues.

Always use gloves when you apply henna. Otherwise you will end up with orange hands and nails. I would use the gloves when you rinse it out as well. The gloves I use are light blue in color. When I finish applying my henna they look like this:

LOL! So yeah...gloves. At all times. I tend to part my hair in four sections and use butterfly clips to secure each section. I apply it one section at a time, starting from the back and moving up to the front.

After I rinse henna out, I personally do not shampoo my hair. I feel like the color needs a few days to oxidize. I will put some conditioner in my hair to detangle it, and then rinse. I don't deep condition right after henna, but some folks do. I feel like I would lose some of the color if I chose to open up my cuticle right after a treatment. You'll have to play around to see what works for you. I tend to DC a few days later.

Henna turns my gray hairs a light orangish-red color. If you want darker hair, you will need to follow your henna application with an indigo application. That's the only way to achieve a "black" color. Be leery of henna you see for sale in the hair dye section. Stick with body art quality and skip the commercial stuff.

Here are a few pics of my hair after henna:

Right after rinsing out the henna and doing a light conditioner. Those lighter red hairs are my grays. :)

Monday afternoon...as you can see my hair pretty much looks dark brown, almost black. But if I was in the sunlight it would look burgundy. My hair also tends to feel really soft a couple of days after I henna. It can get a little straighter (temporarily) so it doesn't hold the curls as well as it normally would.

If you have any questions that are not answered by the Henna for Hair website (which I highly doubt you will, lol), or any question about my experience in general, just let me know. Remember to read, read and read again until you are clear on the techniques and benefits, and then have fun!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CPCC Skyline 5K!

My first official roadrace of the year! Woo hooo! And I almost didn't make it. Why? Well on Wednesday, we decided to go preview the course. Myself, KD, and CrimsonPurl. I had just done hill work the day before. Our plan was to do 200s the day before, but Ridge Junior High locked the track on is, and since we were already there, we jogged through the neighborhood and found a hill. I felt great at the time we did the hills - I was able to keep up with Walt and Laura! But clearly, the next day, my body was thinking, "not so much."

So during our preview run, my calf seized up like an engine without oil. I mean, it was so tight and painful, it was making my SHIN hurt. And I never get shin splints. I had to stop running after 1.54 miles and KD and CP were nice enough to walk the rest of the way with me (thanks, guys!). The preview showed that the course was relatively flat, with a few inclines here and there, but the most major incline was right at the beginning.

LDR did NOT want me to run. He thought I was going to hurt my leg worse. We had a 20 minute negotiation, where in I promised to take epsom salts baths, slather myself down with Tiger Balm, wear my calf support for 2 days, and that I would not run if I felt pain on Saturday morning. LOL! Ultimately, I was fine.

I got up around 5:30am on Saturday morning. I took my time getting ready. I let the warm water in the shower run on my muscles, and did some stretching while I was in there. I had planned to grab a banana and some granola, but ultimately I just left the house. For shorter races, I'm ok with empty stomach cardio. I didn't feel hungry and I didn't want to force myself to eat. I knew they'd have bananas there, if I needed anything.

It was about 60 degrees when I left the house. That's comfy for me. It was drizzling, though. So much for the forecast that the rain would come in the afternoon! I arrived uptown and parked in the Target parking garage (hello? free parking? score!) and walked the two blocks to the race site. Hundreds of people were already milling around. I got my timing chip and found an area by the benches to camp out, stretch, and wait for everyone else.

Soon after, the girls from the Purple Butterfly Running Club began arriving. We took a few pictures together, and I think one of the official photographers took one of us as well. CrimsonPurl was feeling sick and unable to run with us, but she came out anyway to cheer us on! How sweet is that?

Running Diva Kristen was there. I think that's my new nickname for her. She usually runs races on Saturdays, so she hasn't been able to run with PRBC. This girl is BLAZING fast. Blazing! She coaches with Girls on the Run, is going to school, and still finds time to get it in. And the Diva showed up with eye make up on, no less! LOL! She and Ashley (from BGR) are officially my running idols. These ladies are FAST and I'd just like to be like them when I grow up.

We started lining up for the race and I felt my adrenaline start to kick in a bit. Diva got up to the front because she wanted to try and PR. The rest of us hung back in a group. However when the crowd started moving, I moved more toward the middle, and KD came with me.

Let's talk about KD for a moment. Diva #2. You know how some folks (like me) have to work hella hard to eek out our little races here and there, and then some folks just have 'it' naturally? KD has it naturally. She makes running look like it's effortless. You'll watch her and think she's not moving that fast, but sistah-gurl is BLAZING. Blazing! This is important in the next couple of paragraphs. :lol:

We got going and made it up the first hill. I tried to make a conscious effort to run faster up that hill than we had in our practice run. I just wanted it over with. 7th street was just one loooooooooong incline, and I couldn't wait until we got to the turn off to the neighborhood. By the time we got to the Run For Your Life 1 mile marker, their clock said 10:46, but we didn't start at the gun. Nike+ (which has really been working lately!) said about 10:00. I was hoping to take it out a little faster, but the combo of the crowd and the hill got me. I tried to pick it up for the 2nd mile.

By the time we got into the neighborhood and onto 5th street, KD was gone! I could barely see her in the crowd. It got to the point that my breathing was too hard and my heart rate was too high, and I realized I was going TOO fast. My calf started to tweak a bit so I walked for a minute. I hated that I had to walk, but it was better than an injury or falling out. I picked it back up right as we got to the incline by the hospital.

We had to run by a small park and then out a small side street to Morehead. There's a restaurant called Nothing but Noodles on Morehead. Initially CrimsonPurl was going to go by that corner to cheer us on, but when I got to that point I didn't see her. I started trying to push a little faster, because by this point I think we only had about .7 left in the race.

I spotted CrimsonPurl at the corner of Morehead and Charlottetown! What an energy booster. She was cheering and holding the group sign...and she took a picture of me. Hope it's not crazy - if it isn't, I'll come back and post a copy here. Ha! By this point it was literally down hill from here. Diva, who had finished probably 6 minutes prior, was walking back up the hill and I heard her cheering for me. I heard Ashley, too! She says I made a face at her - I have no recollection and wasn't trying to do it on purpose! LOL! I was just trying to kick it in and get to that finish line. At the last turn before the finish I heard KD hollering (she is the true cheerleader of the group) and I was able to sprint it in.

My original goal was to break 30 minutes. Didn't quite make it, but I beat my time from the last 5K I ran in the fall! 30:26, 9:48 pace. I'll take it! We have another 5K coming up on 5/22. It's the Girl Scouts' Thin Mint Sprint and it's going to be at Carowinds Amusement park. Should be interesting!

I'm glad I ran this 5K, and I was very happy to be out there as part of a group. These girls are just personable, funny, and great motivators. Go PBRC! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adventures in Fitness

I challenged myself to do 2 workouts a day last week. The morning workouts would be strength training with a little bit of elliptical, and then the afternoon would be running. I decided that Monday, Wednesday and Friday would be upper body strength training, and Tuesday and Thursday would be for legs. I haven't been getting much strength training in, so I was excited!

MONDAY: the alarm went off at 5:00am. I had packed up my bag the night before with the things I'd need to shower at work, along with what I was going to wear that day. Thankfully last week was "Jeans Week" at work - that made my choices pretty easy. I had more energy than I expected. When I got to the gym, a woman was in there walking on the treadmill already. I got there around 5:45, did a 10 minute warm up on the elliptical, and then hit the upper body work out. Bench press, back rows, shoulder press, bicep curls, tricep extensions...and some ab work for good measure. I was able to shower and get up to my desk by 7:55. Not bad! That afternoon, I decided against running with the RunStrong Meet Up. The course they run for the Monday night 4 miler is a bit much for my Achilles right now. I ran a 3-miler at the greenway and called an end to day 1.

TUESDAY: It was a little harder to get up this morning. I was feeling the effects of Monday's activities. I got to the gym at work a little before 6:00, and no one else was in there. I was by myself, and would be for the rest of the week. 10 minutes warm up on the elliptical, and then on to my leg workout. Dead lifts, calf raises, lunges, and squats. I cooled down for 10 minutes or so on the elliptical. That hot shower felt good. And best of all, I was using someone else's hot water. :lol:

That afternoon, I decided to join the RunStrong meet up for my first ever speed work out with them. I haven't done a speed workout since high school. And what I was doing in high school was geared towards a sprinter/jumper, not a distance runner. Needless to say, I was not prepared. :lol: There were 7 of us all together. The assistant organizer - Laura - and 3 other experienced runners, and then myself and two other girls who were less experienced (read: ran much slower). Warm up was a 1 mile jog. Followed by 1 mile of Indian sprints - we all jog in a line and then the person in back has to sprint to the front, and so on. The problem was, the two other girls I mentioned and myself just could not keep up with their pace. We fatigued quickly and could not finish the whole mile. After that we ran a pyramid - 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m - each run at maybe 80% of full speed, with a 100m walk in between...although I think we may have walked 200 in between the 400 and the 300. After that, a cool down with another mile of Indian sprints. I knew I ocould not do the whole mile, so I did what I could, and then myself and Kelly just dropped for a regular jog. Interesting!

WEDNESDAY: This was probably the hardest morning to get up. Literally. Tuesday's speed workout had my quads, calves and hamstrings screaming at me! But I made it up and made it to the gym right around 6:00. Same workout as Monday, and then that afternoon I just did not have it in me to hit the greenway. I pulled out my trusty rebounder, and that evening's workout was 35 minutes rebounding while I watched the Young and The Restless. Hey - better than nothing, right? :)

THURSDAY: Legs starting to feel a little better this day, but it was time for another leg workout in the gym. I did well and I'm happy to be getting in some strength training. That afternoon the RunStrong meet up was going to do a 3-4 mile run in Highland Creek, but it's very hilly and I didn't want to take the chance. I called my friend Keisha and we went for a nice 3 mile run at the greenway. Thank goodness for K, or I wouldn't have run at all!

FRIDAY: By the time Friday hit, I was starting to get used to my routine. By the end of the week one thing was certain - I need to do a better job of getting to bed on time during the week! I also need to make some dietary changes...I was running out of energy and I knew I needed to get some more protein and some more carbs. I will try to work that out this upcoming week. Friday was a gorgeous, sunny day but I left work late, so I didn't feel like getting the afternoon cardio. I decided I'd just get up and run with the Purple Butterfly running club on Saturday. I think I'm going to treat all Fridays like that - I'll still do the morning session, but I'll rest in the afternoon.

SATURDAY: Saturday morning was gorgeous! Quite a few ladies showed up for PBRC. I somehow got lumped into the "advanced" group (lol). Myself and 3 other ladies. Everyone else was doing interval running, but we were the group that could run the whole distance. Looking at Ashley, I could tell that she was truly a "runner." The other girls and I were running closer to 10 minute pace, but Ashley said she ran a 9 minute pace. The girls hadn't run the greenway before, so I explained to them how it was marked every 1/4 mile, and then we set off. I decided that I'd try my best to keep up with Ashley for as long as I could. We ran the first mile in 9:46 and we all stayed together. When we got to the 1.25 marker, the other two girls stopped to walk for a bit, but I pushed myself to keep going with Ashley. At 1.50, I checked Nike+ (which has been working GREAT as of late - go figure!) and we were at 14:35. We could have turned around, but we ran up to David Taylor Drive and then turned back - that adds an extra .25 to the run.

When we got back to the 1.25 marker I told Ashley that I'd have to slow down and she could go on. I don't know what it was - maybe she could sense that I needed an extra push...or maybe she knew I could do it even when I didn't think I could - but she didn't pull ahead. We stayed together, and the whole time I was talking to myself. This really is a mental sport. I'd say, "ok, when we get to the 2 mile mark I'm going to slow down and let her keep going." We'd get to 2 mile and then I'd say, "ok, at 2.5 I'll stop and walk." But I just kept pushing on. Once we had 1/2 mile to get to the finish, I just felt like there was no point in stopping - we were almost there! But I'm not gonna lie, my breathing was heavy and this was definitely pushing it for me. Surprisingly, when we got to the end, I still had enough energy to pick up the pace and push it in!

And guess what that time was? 3.25 miles in 30:55 - average pace, 9:30!!

I was on a runner's high for the rest of the day! I couldn't believe I had run that. The PRBC had been planning to run the CPCC Skyline 5K next week and I hadn't signed up. After that run, I knew I needed to. I should definitely be able to beat my time from the Runway 5K back in October - that's the last time I ran a 5K race.

This turned out to be a great week for me, as far as fitness. Yes, I'm sore. Yes, I was fatigued during some of those workouts and just wanted to quit. But I'm so glad that I didn't. I saw a lot of new faces on Saturday, and I found out at the end of my run that Ashley is one of two authors who run the fabulous blog, Black Girls Run! (hey girl!)

I think I'm going to continue with my double sessions until it's time for my trip to Vegas (5/13 - 5/18). I hope everyone is doing well with their own fitness goals, whatever they may be.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Sorry to go MIA, guys...life's been kinda "blah" lately. My energy level is down. The fact that it's snowing pollen is NOT helping much. I haven't been able to run much because on my last 4 miler Monday, my left leg tendonitis flared up so bad that it had me in tears. My left foot was going numb towards the end of the run...I had to stop and walk. I took a whole week off. Monday (4/5) I ran again, but only 3 miles, and on a course that was relatively flat. So far, so good. It's sooooo hot right now. I had gotten so used to running in the cold, it feels crazy to run in the heat. One thing for sure - I need a boat load of new workout gear, which is not going to be cheap.

My mom picked out the car she wants, but now the credit union and Honda are giving her the run around on the financing, now that she's retired. I wish I could be up there to see what's going on, because I'm only getting details from my brother. I'm not quite sure how her retirement income works. She was getting part of my dad's social security, but she said something about that stopping once she retired. I don't know. This is supposed to be a relaxing time, and I bet she's up there in a ball of knots. :/

I just ordered some tangerine butter and some green tea butter from Oils By Nature. I can't wait to try them out. Tangerine oil is supposed to be great for acne treatment, so we shall see. Once I can get the break outs to stop, I can get concentrated on the hyperpigmentation.

I've started using the oil cleansing method on my face. For someone with a very oily t-zone, this seems so counterintuitive. It's been 3 days, and so far so good. I must say my skin feels hella soft. I haven't really gotten any new break outs on my face (the break outs I referenced above were with regard to body break outs on my back, shoulders and chest). I'm using a mixture of castor oil (hexane free) and organic extra virgin olive oil. I started with a 50/50 mix, but I think I will go with more castor oil and less olive oil in future mixtures. After two weeks I think I should have a better handle on how my face is going to react, and I'll be sure to write a post about it.

That's all that's going on in my world. Hope everyone is having a great week! :)