Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, You Were Great!

This has been a wild year.  I went from just toying with the idea of running a half marathon to running 4.  FOUR!  Three "official" and one virtual/justbecause one.  I accomplished everything and more that I'd planned to during this year.  It was not entirely easy or smooth sailing the entire trip, but I did it.  Even though I'm still waiting out what I hope to be the final stages of this injury, I can still look back and amaze myself with all that I've done.  I think if I had to pick one thing, I'm most proud of the fact that even when times got tough, I never gave in to "I can't do this".  Heck, that's part of the reason WHY I'm injured at the moment - I just don't have the "I quit because this is too hard" thing in me!  LOL

I ran 1076 miles in total! Wow!  For someone that couldn't even run 1 mile at the beginning of 2012, this is huge!

In addition to running, I also reignited a fondness for strength training as well as intense cardio (T25 was great).  I planked for over 100 days straight and got to being able to plank over 5 minutes at a time!  Once I'm back to normal (whatever that means!) I really want to do the new P90X3!!  It's killing me that I wasn't able to just order it and start right away.  I mean, I could have half assed it, but that's not me.  I don't half ass anything.

A few months back - I became a certified personal trainer!  I didn't make a big deal or whoopiedo announcement everywhere about it, but I did take the online course through NASM and I passed my test no sweat!  Really... it was pretty easy for the most part, but I think that's because I have a medical background and have had Anatomy & Physiology shoved down my throat so much.  I honestly felt bad for the people in my class that had to learn all the bones and muscles and planes and positions from scratch.  Oof.  But anyway, I'm hoping to really use the info for myself and maybe get into teaching some classes/sessions somewhere once I'm back on my feet if I so desire.  It has already impacted my personal workouts and how I envision my recovery going from here.  Until then, I'm loving being the "health and fitness expert" of the family.  ha!

Here's my 2013 fitness journey in a nutshell:

I started off the year being named the very first Runner Girl of the Week by the Runner Girls Podcast!

A week later, I ran my first (and only, thus far) five mile race: Frigid Five Miler that didn't end up being so frigid at a nice 60 degrees.

I began a love/hate relationship with 400m repeats.

I learned the importance (and decadence) of GOOD running socks - hello Swiftwick and Smartwool!

I ran my first 10K for a great cause... one I would definitely consider running the marathon for. RSG1 Foundation

I had an IBS flareup that thankfully didn't last long, but did hinder my crosstraining a bit.

It became apparent that varying my routes was necessary to keep from being bored out of my head, especially on the longer runs.

I did double digit long runs for the very first time starting in February and by the end of the year I was doing them consistently!

MyFitnessPal became a godsend to me as I came to the realization that 1) I wasn't eating nearly enough for my increased activity level and 2) I wasn't eating the right macro-nutrient ratio to support my goals.

I started and finished a health and fitness challenge though RunToTheFinish which helped me stay on the right track with eating better.  I'm still embracing the concept of "getting all my freggies in" on most days.

After spending countless runs (and dollars!) on experimenting with various running supplements/gels, I came to the realization that what works for me is a combination of GU Espresso Love, GU Roctane Chocolate Raspberry, and Hammer Gel Apple Cinnamon.  Oh, and lemon lime Gatorade mixed with equal parts water.  Not G2, no Powerade Zero, but straight regular Lemon Lime Gatorade.  I have no idea why this is what works for me, but it does.  So I'm not messing with it.

I ran FOUR Half Marathons Between the end of March and end of October.  The slowest was 2:12 (ran at long run pace, in the pouring rain, while another race was going on that I didn't know about) and the fastest was 1:39 (on a morning when I was sick and had other issues happening).  I'm still just "wow" that I even finished one.

My kids both caught the running bug and did a few races themselves!  We also ran the Liberty Mile together and that was just a wonderful experience to do something WITH them instead of worrying about my pace and time.  They're already talking about the Kids' Marathon in May, which just might be the only part of the Pittsburgh Marathon I get to be a part of this year, but if that's the case I'll be just dandy with it.

I dabbled in heart rate training after the Pittsburgh Half, but wasn't a big fan.  Staying slow and easy when it is hot as hell outside and your heart rate is already getting pissy over the humidity and heat sucks.  It was hard for me to accept "having" to run at a 10-11 minute mile when I'd gotten used to running 8-9.  I'd also developed a bit of a leg niggle around this time and after resting it a bit I really just wanted to run again, so I scrapped the HRM.  Maybe I'll give it another try in 2014.  I don't know.

In July I started Focus T25 and it changed my body and got me into the best shape I've probably ever been in!  I dropped a running day to make the workout schedule work for me, and boy did it.  I'm still wondering if I'm not just someone who does better with 4 days of running and a lot of cross/strength training.

I absolutely annihilated my 5K PR at the Steelers 5K.  It was a hot race but it was awesome.  This was another event the kids were part of too!

Believe it or not, I've gotten some great recipes, workout, and general tips from Pinterest.  Yes, it can be a time sink of gluttonous proportions, but if you use it well (haha) you can actually get something from it.

I returned to the Great Race with a goal of running a sub-45 minute 10K -- my main goal for the fall racing season and what all of my training was based around.  I did it! 43:53!

I learned my lesson in bad decisions when I chose to run the EQT 10 Miler anyway after barely being able to get through any runs during the week prior.  I finished the race in a painful manner and was diagnosed in the days after with a stress fracture of the pelvis and stress reaction of the femur.  I have not ran a single stride since.  Word to the wise?  No medal is worth that.  Like I said - lesson learned.

My final weeks of 2013 have been mostly spent resting and working up to doing simple core and bodyweight workouts.  Just a couple of weeks ago I started a new weightlifting plan without legs and just this week I added a light leg day to the rotation.  I'm already feeling stronger, but very unstable.

BUT - I think I rocked 2013, all said!  In 2014 I'll come back from this injury and rock some more!  My goal is a fall marathon.  Until then, it is strength and balance training.  I'm not saying that I want to be Dana Lynn Bailey or anything, but damn... just a touch of those arms and abs would be nice!  I'm hoping for a return to cardio by the end of January.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Stay safe and happy!

Medals EARNED in 2013!

Friday, December 20, 2013

I can't run, but I'm still winning!

I'm not even kidding when I say this has been the most productive holiday season ever.  EV-ER.

Usually we're the last minute types.  We're lucky to have the tree up the week before Christmas.  Other decorations may or may not happen.  We wait until 2 or 3 days before Christmas to throw the cards in a mailbox and hope they get there on time.  Cookies for Santa may be partially store bought.  We're still picking gifts on Christmas Eve and we wrap until the wee hours of the morning knowing that we will not sleep more than an hour (if that) before the kids are jumping on us wanting to rip everything open.  You get the point.  We're those "way too busy and can't slow down and actually enjoy the time" people.  Which is sad.

This year, however, I have pent up energy to get rid of and a lot of spare time on my hands.

Our tree has been up for quite some time:

That Cars poster is essential.  See this kid?  You don't want to break his heart.  Oh, and he's been wearing that hat constantly! lol

We also have a second tree in our office/gym/misc room as well as Christmas lights in the window!  The nativity is on the mantle!  We have other things on the walls!

There's a wreath on the door:

Cards have already been mailed and even include pics of the kids!  I've also been playing the role of Betty Crocker and have been making everything from gingerbread to stuffed chicken breast.  So, this year Santa will have plenty of homemade goodies to much on.  Well, there will still be some Candy Cane Joe Joe's, but come on.  How can there NOT be?  I've reclaimed my love for being in the kitchen but loathing of the one I currently have (I need Pioneer Woman's! Size matters here!).

Our shopping is done (thanks mainly to Amazon and my husband's willingness to take my detailed lists to these crazy local stores) and everything except one package I'm waiting for delivery of is wrapped.  Yes, totally wrapped, tagged, bowed, organized, etc.  There will be no all nighter happening on Christmas Eve this year!

We even accomplished standing in line for over three hours to see Santa.  I admit to being totally worn out after this, having had to crutch it through the busy mall and then stand there.  In fact, I'm taking a rest day today because I am feeling a little weaker than I'd like... that was the most I've been vertical and on my feet at one clip in almost 2 months!

My brood.  Getting too big! <3

Speaking of rest days and whatnot, I've started a new weight training plan, and to be honest, it's great to have a schedule to check off again.  I'm definitely feeling it.  I love being sore in all the right places and the right ways!

All I have left to really do is just enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and deliciousness of these coming days!  So, even though I have no training reports or running tales to tell, I'm still feeling accomplished.  Sometimes when I'm feeling great (or really down) I like to wear a race medal around the house to remind myself of what I've done and what I CAN do.  Today?  I'm wearing the 10 miler medal.  It may have been the race that broke me, but I've been blessed with a wonderful start to a great holiday season.  Maybe next year I won't have to have an injury to accomplish the same.  :)

If I don't get to post beforehand, I hope you have a Merry Christmas.  Be safe, be joyous, be you!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One month and Nine Days

That's how long its been since I've ran.

Oh, hi!  My name is Nichole and I used to run a lot.  Well, a lot for me - not a lot compared to those 50-100 mpw types, which I will most likely never be.

Why have I not been running?  And why have I not been posting?

I'm going to try to lay that all out here without heading into a novel (did you laugh?  I did!).  But, in the spirit of the shortest answer possible, here's why:  Stress fracture of the inferior pubic ramus and stress reaction of the femoral shaft.

Yeah, when I do myself in, I do a damn good job of it.  So how did this happen?  Well, you tell me!  I have my theories, my doctor seems to agree, but at the end of the day, who really knows the exact time or reason.

Here's what I do know:

After Buffalo Creek I felt great.  Best I've ever felt after any race and I stated that many times in many places to many people.  My runs in the week after that race were so stinking easy it blew my mind.  I even felt good enough that I threw in some strides during one of my easy runs, which I have never EVER done that soon after a half.  I even referred to my long run that Saturday as being "the easiest 10 miles I've ever ran".  That night is where it all started falling apart.

While I was getting ready to go out that evening with my family (we were headed to Living Treasures for their Halloween event as well as Trunk or Treat) I noticed that I was sore going down the stairs.  This isn't too atypical post long run, though so I didn't think much of it.  Standing in line at Trunk or Treat I started to get really stiff... almost like I had to keep moving like I do after races.  By the time we were done walking through Living Treasures I'd developed a limp and felt like I was really having to work to keep the left leg from locking up.  That hip/butt lock/cramp that I tend to get on long runs was kind of there too.

I was happy to have the next day off of running, and of course I was sure I'd be ok to get out as normal on Monday.  I was ok, but after the first half of the run I had this weird pinching twinge happening in the crease of my leg right near where the, well, lady parts are.  It just felt like a bunch of tissue was being crunched.  I wasn't in extreme pain, and I made it through the run, but I knew this wasn't normal, especially after a day off, so I figured I'd take another rest day.

I headed back out on Wednesday, and felt like someone was kicking me in the crotch and ass with a steel toed boot almost the entire 30 minutes I ran.  Why did I keep running after the first block?  Stupidity, I guess.  But I felt so smart when I made the announcement to my husband that I was going to take the rest of the week off and then just run an easy run on Sunday for the Pittsburgh 10 Miler.  I did toy with the idea of just taking a DNS, but I'm stubborn and cheap and didn't want to lose out on the fees I paid.  Again, stupidity.

I lined up for the 10 miler around the 8:30 pace group.  I felt pretty good and figured this would be a easy spot to just trot along and have fun.  I ended up feeling really good and had lost my group by the 5K point.  Stupid...stupid... I continued to feel really great until right after 6 miles.  Then I was being kicked in the crotch again.  By 9 miles I was in agony and it was sheer willpower and the need to be done that pulled me across the finish (in 1:19:46 - I'd signed up for the race hoping for 1:15).  Standing in line for Finisher pics was the worst thing ever.  My leg just locked up and I literally had to hobble up to get my pic taken.  I grabbed a bottle of water and a bagel and sat down on the corner.  DUMB IDEA.  I could barely get back up.  I couldn't even walk over to Market Square for the finish party event thing.  Nick had to darn near carry me to a place where I could wait for him to bring the van around and get me.

By that evening I couldn't walk anymore and I was utilizing an army crawl technique to get through the house.  It was time to head to the hospital to see if there was something horrific happening.  Well, you know ER docs don't know much about sports medicine (even though the resident claimed to have run a marathon before - "but it was very hard on the body"), and after some x-rays and a CT scan (I knew the CT scan was a stupid idea, but I went along with it - I hope he earned some extra credit or something), he said I just pulled a muscle in my groin and gave me some pain meds.  Then he shared his one speck of brilliance - stress fractures don't show up in scans for a long time (no kidding, buddy).  So I should go see my orthopedic doc and get further assessed if the pain is still there in the coming days.

Well I knew this was more than a pulled muscle so I was on the phone with sports med the next morning.  I got in for an appointment a few agonizing days later and again, x-rays didn't show anything in the office.  But now I was dealing with someone who knows bones (lol) so he sent me for an MRI, which did in fact reveal my stress fracture and reaction.  The reaction was actually a bit of a shock because our initial impression was that it would be my femoral head that was the problem, but nope - right in the middle of the shaft!  I'm a weirdo.

I was put on crutches and told no weight bearing activities, rest, don't stretch, and don't do anything that hurts, tugs, twinges, etc.  Which pretty much means most of my time has been spent on the couch... pinning random crap on Pinterest, scrolling through Facebook, looking forward to the new World of Warcraft expansion and trying not to obsess over this injury.  I've spent a lot of time cuddling kitties.

Calloway and Mimi always make Mama better!  They're my two oldest "kids"!

I just had a followup appointment yesterday where now, you can see the fracture site on the x-ray because it is highlighted in lovely new bone growth!
Oh, snap! Groan.

I'm a little disappointed because I was hoping to be off the crutches and off to PT and getting back on a routine after this appointment, but my doctor says the fracture is at a tender point right now.  Yes, he could send me off, but it would make him feel better and be better for me in the long run (pun kinda intended) if I were to wait a couple more weeks until this has filled in more solidly.  So, for the remainder of 2013 I'm still "resting".  I do some ab work and upper body strength with dumbbells just to do something and not go out of my mind.  I'm getting tired of what seems like endless crunches and pushups, but it's what I can do and I'm happy to just be able to do something pain free (those first few days were BAD post race when I could hardly get out of bed).  I'm allowed to transition to a crutch free life after January 1st.  My birthday is the 2nd, so I guess that'll be a good gift.  My next appointment with my ortho is January 8th and from there I'm in the PTs hands.  My hope now is that shortly thereafter I'll be able to at least go on a power walk... maybe even a walk/run.  I miss being outside and active.

So, what happened?  Well, more than likely I had something brewing after Buffalo Creek - even though I felt great.  And... being the idiot that I am, forgot that "uh, you just ran a half marathon.  let's not forget you've been sick too" and instead of doing what a normal person would do and take some recovery time (go slow, don't do speed work, maybe lay off the mileage a little) I just went all out like it was any other day.  Then, once the inevitable happened, I ignored by body's cues and literal kicks in the ass with the twinges and pains and still ran a race I shouldn't have - and not only that I went way faster than I should have given the circumstances.  Pride and Ego are terrible things.  Looking back through my last few weeks and months of running (which I've had plenty of time to do), I also realize now some mistakes I've been making like running my easy runs way too fast.  Doing too much speedwork than what I needed and at the time, could tolerate.  Running long runs way too fast too often.  Ignoring random aches and niggles even when they seem minor and not taking a day off when I probably needed to.  Races too close together.  I could go on and on, but there's no point really.  I'm injured.  I need to heal.  Then I need to move on to other things.

Here's the interesting thing.  According to my doctor, I have very tight, short hamstrings which seem to have at least had a hefty contribution to the pubic ramus fracture.  I know I've whined about the butt/hip cramp I get pretty often during longer runs.... well DING!  Hamstring problems.  One of my "prescriptions", so to speak, for PT is to lengthen out the hammies to prevent this from happening.  Who knows... I could have been a ticking time bomb with this all this time.

I'm trying not to beat myself up over my mistakes or things I've just neglected to realize but I do still sometimes.  This pretty much seals the deal that I will NOT be running the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I'll drop down to the half or even the 5K and not worry about having to PR in either.  I'd rather spend my early year getting stronger and rebuilding base.  Heck, at this rate I just want to be able to simply WALK again!!  I don't want to reinjure myself by being stupid again.  There are many fall marathons that are talked highly about and I can look forward to that.

2014 will be my year to focus on getting stronger and going longer.  In time.  I gotta build some more bone first!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This Week's Plan

In a normal person's world, this would be a recovery week post half marathon.  I am not a normal person.  This is not a normal week.  I think you could have figured that out, though, if you've been reading my page vomit for very long.

Like the true nutter I am, I'm running another race on November 3rd.  Granted, it's only ten miles (I still laugh that I think of 10 miles as "only" now), and it isn't a goal race.  AND it's one of those automatic PRs because I've never done a 10 mile race before.  That still doesn't mean I don't have my eye on a time, though.  ;)

I'm still planning on taking it easy this week, given the fact that I did just run a half marathon.  I'm not going to be doing a whole lot of extras outside of running, and I'm going to let my body dictate my pace on my runs this week.  If I gotta slog at bit, I'm going to.

I said this on DailyMile and I may as well say it here - this is the best I've felt post any race I've ever done.  Sunday we took the kids to the pumpkin patch and walked all over Hozac Farms.  I was a little stiff and tired, but nothing bad.  That night we walked from our house down to the Point to say goodbye to the Duckie and then walked back home.  All said I probably walked between 4-5 miles that day.  By the end of the night I was feeling it a bit, but no major issues.


Monday I did 20 minutes of upper body focused yoga.  I figured that was good enough.

Today I ran a little over 4 miles.  The run started off well, but some time in mile 2 my legs cramped up almost in protest, but I was able to run through it.  The stiffness subsided for the most part, but the rest of the run my legs (and hips) felt heavy and tired.  I came home and stretched.

This afternoon I had to go take a BCLS refresher at AGH and I walked over there and back.  The walk felt good!

Here's the plan (which is not set in stone because I'm going by feel on this) for the rest of the week:

Wednesday:  6 mile easy run.
Thursday:  4 mile easy run, strength training at the gym
Friday:  REST
Saturday:  10 mile long run
Sunday: REST/Yoga

Oh, and btw, I miss the Duck already.  :(

Farewell friend!  Hope to see you again someday!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon 2013 Recap

Where to begin with this...

Well obviously I had a really freaking busy week - AGAIN - resulting in a total lack of posting or much internet time at all.  And that's cool with me.

In the days before this race I was waging war inside this brain of mine over what I should set out to do.  Should I really push myself and lay it all out there?  Just go for a PR?  Should I just run a leisurely run and enjoy the sights?  A little of everything?  Admittedly, I was getting a little nervous on how I'd do because my last couple of tempo/speedwork runs were kind of "meh" and I wasn't totally confident that I'd be able to hold a 7:30-7:40 pace for 13.1 miles, as the plan had been.  By the end of the week I'd decided that I was going to start out slow, but within PR range (under 8:19 pace) and just see where the day took me.  I felt pretty good about that decision.  I didn't have to worry about killing myself over a pace I wasn't certain I could sustain and I'd still come out "winning".  But my inner goal maker did still have those 3 goals in the back of my head - A: 1:40, B: 1:45, C: PR.

Then Friday night hit.  Of course Sarah Heinz House decided this was the perfect night for the Family Fall Festival, so we had a later than I would have preferred bedtime.  Oh also, my husband and all 3 kids have been passing around some plague of snots and coughs that *knock on wood* I've been able to stay clear from.  BUT, this makes my husband a noisy sleeper and he snorted, snotted, coughed and flopped around the bed all night long.  Calloway was also having an overly lovey and needy night and was unhappy being anywhere but in my face or trying to lay across my ankles.  I couldn't breathe with him in my face and it hurt to have him on my ankles, so I kept kicking him out of bed.  He responded to this by licking himself very loudly.  This happened on and off all night long.  My Neighbors.  Oh my skinny jeans wearing, jagoff, 20 something, shouldbelivinginafrathouse neighbors.  They thought this was the perfect evening/night/early morning to throw a big drunken party, be loud and obnoxious and keep me up all night long.  When my alarm went off at 5:45 AM I rolled out of bed not having slept even an hour.  Honestly.  Not one stinking hour.  I was exhausted and felt like shit.

So, I stumbled up to the bathroom and just as luck would have it I earned a visit from a raging Aunt Flo as well as wicked diarrhea.  These events have coincided since my last c-section where I was sewn back together in abnormal fashion due to extreme adhesions and unexplained bleeding.  Pretty simply put, a lot of my innards are "stuck together" so they work in crazy ways now.  I spent most of the time I wanted to spend getting ready for the race sitting on the toilet.  Fun!  All I could think was "well, I'll be lucky to even PR now"!

I ate my CoCo Wheats cocktail from times of old (haha).  I know I haven't been doing this lately, but I've had it before the previous HMs and I couldn't bring myself to do something different.  I did have a couple swigs of coffee as well, but here's a little tip:  Do not even bother trying the "Vanilla Heat" coffee creamer, even if you typically like the spicy pepper and vanilla deal.  It takes like you put freaking cough syrup in your coffee.  Nasty.  I didn't finish my cup because I thought I was gonna hurl.

Thank goodness I'm anal retentive and had a list made the night before and most everything already laid out because I was really pressed for time and starting to stress.  I wanted to make it up to Lernerville early because I'd heard horror stories of lines waiting for busses if you got there late.

I made sure to keep sipping on water and Gatorade on the trip up, but my tummy was still in knots and all twisted up.  I didn't feel really well.  Thankfully when we pulled into the speedway, there were lots of busses, and I was able to get my things together, give everyone hugs and kisses and hop right on a bus.  The bus ride was short, taking us up to the Winfield Fire Dept where the starting line was.

The race organizers really knew how to take care of the runners.  They opened up the fire dept so we had a nice big heated building to stay in until the race started at 9.  There could have been more porta potties available, but a few of us discovered a hidden gem inside the actual building that no one knew about (well, until word got out - but at that point I'd already been able to go and was ok).  There was also water available.  I chatted with a few people and when it was around 10 minutes to gun time I headed outside.

I also give the organizers credit for the corral set up.  They had signs for lineup, and this is shocking, but people were actually honest about where they should be because this was the absolute smoothest start I've ever been a part of.  I had to do very little weaving in and out.  Yeah!  I pretty much set myself up right beside the 1:45 or slower sign.

As the race started, we almost immediately went down a big hill.  It was like being on one of those roller coasters where you come out of the gate and just drop down the hill with little warning.  It was very hard to slow down - everyone was flying.  I overheard two guys just ahead of me talking about how their goal was a 1:45 finish and I figured I'd make sure I was in their vicinity to keep myself honest about my pace if they were running steady.  Due to all that downhill, Mile 1 was ridiculously fast.  I had to slow down for Mile 2, but so did just about everyone else, so I didn't feel too bad.  Because it was the hill and not because I was pushing myself, I really didn't feel like I'd expended very much energy.

The 1:45 guys were keeping a pretty steady 7:45-7:50ish pace and I was happy with that so I stuck with it.  My tummy was feeling a bit better and maybe I was finally waking up or catching a second wind or whatever but I didn't feel nearly as exhausted.  I did eventually officially "group up" with the guys a bit and start chatting.  We talked about how gorgeous the trail was, how the downhill grade felt great, snakes (I'd seen a copperhead on this trail just the day before), other half marathons, full marathons, and other things you just get to talking about while running.  The miles passed by quickly and easily.  I felt like I was just trotting along at an easy comfortable pace.  Definitely not slogging, but most certainly not "racing".  A few parts of the trail were slippery and uneven and I almost lost my footing twice, but I was able to steady myself and keep going.

I took a Chocolate Raspberry Roctane at Mile 5 as always, even though I'm not feeling the need to anymore at this point (maybe I could stretch it out to 6 sometime?).    I also did what worked before at the Pittsburgh Half - I alternated water and Gatorade at every fluid station.  I had considered taking my Amphipod handheld due to not knowing or being clear on where the fluid stations were and what they were serving, but at the last minute I decided not to because I didn't have it in me to carry it.  (Lazy!)  I'm glad I didn't have it because the fluid stations were just fine.  Something I did a little different though was made sure I slowed down enough or even walked a couple steps to make sure I actually got to gulp the fluid down instead of just splash it on myself and hope a trickle got in my mouth.  This seemed to work well.

Around mile 8.5 the trail goes across a road.  Here, my family was waiting for me with big neon signs that said things like "Go Mom GO" and had smiley faces on them.  I was able to say hello and give my youngest a high five.

My husband loves the look on my face here.  He snapped this pic as I just realized the kids signs and I was just beaming.

Seeing my family really pumped me up.  I already felt very good (the stomach issues of earlier were gone and I didn't feel like the walking dead), but after seeing them I felt amazing.  It was like the kick in the pants I needed to go from "eh, I'm just going to shuffle along" to "Ok, let's really think about this".  I started to want to push ahead of my new running friends (they were starting to struggle a bit, as the last mile had been a bit slower than we'd been doing) and see how I'd do.  By mile 9 I'd left them behind after a fluid stop.  I took my Espresso Love GU at mile 10 and started to push to the pace where if I'd actually been racing the entire time I would have started with.  I was just trucking along, very strong and passing everyone who was burnt out by starting out faster.  Soon I found myself at the trails end and at the last water stop before heading into town.  I grabbed a quick drink and then headed out onto the road, anticipating this "steep soul crushing hill" I've heard so much about.

WHAT HILL?  Ok, it was a little bit of an incline, but nothing like I've experienced in other races and certainly nothing to write home about.  Or maybe I was just that strong at the end of the race?  At any rate, I believe the words that came flying out of my mouth at the top were "you call that a ***** hill?".  ha!

The downhill that continued into and through Freeport was awesome.  I just kept picking up speed and passing a whole lotta guys.  I didn't see many women once I was out of the trail itself, which was odd.  One dude, when I came up beside him said "Hey girl - look at you showing all us guys up".  To which I replied "aw, come on, I'm just havin' a little fun".  Another older gentleman started chanting "get it girl, get it get it get it" after I passed him.  That was a little weird.  lol  

When we made the turn onto Riverside Drive I put down the hammer.  I could see the gazebo and finish line up ahead and I couldn't believe it.  The race seemed to have flown by, and while I was (finally) at the point where I felt like I was working, I still felt ridiculously strong.  Nothing hurt, nothing was overly exhausted, and I was in good spirits.  Then the "Hey girl" guy went speeding past me.  I sped up again and we had a nice little race to the finish.  He just got me by barely a second!

I crossed the finish line smiling and feeling good in 1:39:55.  Yeah, 5 seconds faster than my A goal.  After getting no sleep, getting the period from hell and terrible diarrhea, having very little coffee, and running over half the race at a comfortable pace and not pushing myself until the last 5K.

I was ok after the finish until about 15 minutes went by and then I started freezing.  Nick texted me that they were stopped on the bridge in traffic and missed my finish but would be there soon.  I told him to please bring my hoodie from the van because I was freezing and was starting not to feel my fingers.  I was so happy when he brought it to me - my lips were purple by the time he got to me!

This was a very well put together race that I am honestly already looking forward to for next year.  The trail was gorgeous, it flowed nicely, the organizers and volunteers were all super sweet, and the crowd that it drew was great too.  There were a lot of first time half marathoners and it was such a positive experience for everyone involved.  The finish line area had a great assortment of food - hot apple cider, chocolate milk, fruit bars, cookies, pizza, fruit, etc.  This was actually the first race where my stomach was too touchy afterward to eat a whole lot.  I had a half cup of chocolate milk and some apple cider.  Then I ate a little fruit bar and half a banana because I felt like I needed something, but that just did not sit well.  I seriously felt like hurling.  I'm guessing it was a variety of factors, including all the intestinal drama I had going on first thing in the morning.  I didn't even eat a lot the rest of the day, really.  Usually I'm ravenous and wanting to eat the world.  I made sure I drank a bunch though so I didn't get dehydrated.

This is me a little further down before I saw my family.  I was high fiving all the little kids.  If a kid has their hand out for a high five, I don't care if I'm trying to PR or whatever I WILL high five that kid.  It's like if a toddler hands you a ringing play phone you answer that thing and have a full conversation.  You just do it.

My fourth time running the 13.1+ distance, and I am so blessed!  Yes, that's my post race hoodie I'm rocking there... ;-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 10/14/2013-10/20/2013

I apologize for the back to back posts... I originally had this just tagged on to the end of the last one, but I really prefer them separate, just for reference sake.  And it's my blog, I'll do what I want.  ;-)

Monday:  I did Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown Level 2.  I like level 2 better than level 1 on this one.  It seems to have more core work and I love core work!  At first I had it in my mind that I was going to do T25 Upper Focus but then I reminded myself that I have a race on Saturday and I'm supposed to be cutting back and I know for a fact that I will not "cut back" during a T25 workout.
Tuesday:  4 mile easy run.  That'll probably be it.
Wednesday:  30 minute tempo run.  Again, that just might do it for the day.
Thursday:  2 mile easy run.  Now here I'm tempted to throw in some more Yoga or at least T25 Stretch.  We'll see.
Friday:  I SWEAR I'M GOING TO REST!!!!!!!!  haha
Saturday:  Buffalo Creek Half Marathon
Sunday:  10 mile easy run.  Just kidding.... I'll probably rest here or just do some kind of light active recovery.  Active recovery includes laying on the couch watching football, eating chips and salsa and drinking beer, right?

Last Week's Wrap Up

Oh my.  I know I'm late, but here's my post on how the last week went.

As you can probably guess due to my lack of posts, I've been busy.  Crazy schedule.  Tons of stuff happening out of the realm of my fitness world.  Granted, it wasn't all duties and "work".  We spent some good times together as a family.  It's getting close to Halloween - our favorite holiday!  Lots of time has been spent planning and shopping for costumes and decorations and goodies.  I will fully admit as well that when I have had downtime I haven't really wanted to blog.  I've been catching up on all my recorded shows on DVR (getting real tired of Cristina on Grey's), reading, baking, cooking, and playing WoW.

On Saturday, we went out to Living Treasures in Donegal.  We always get a yearly membership because between this one and the one up near Moraine it makes for a nice day trip, plus the October at the Zoo event is awesome.  The kids tend to enjoy it more than other zoos because you can get really close and pet and feed the animals.

The kids love the kangaroos.  They are SO soft and gentle! 
Bison.  I love Bison.  Tastiest burgers and meatloaf ever. 

This cute little guy was literally sitting there begging food, which the kids gave him handful after handful of. 

Turtles just rock. 

Tori made a new friend. 

As did Vincent.

And Garrett.

It was a fun day. :)

So how did my workouts go?
Tuesday: 5 mile easy run that was really just that.  I followed it up with Jillian's 30 Day Shred.  Just level 1, but it felt good as a little "extra".
Wednesday:  I hated every moment of this run.  10 sets of 400s.  I was pretty sure that I failed most of the 400s and got pretty pissed off and almost quit.  Then I turned around and finished after figuring that if I wasn't hitting my pace that at least I was doing some good strides.  I just kept getting more and more mad and was so irate after the intervals that I needed an extra while to cool down (mentally) and ended up running over 7 miles that morning.  Once I got my watch synced to my computer and saw my splits I was shocked to find out that I in fact did meet my paces afterall (a couple just barely) and was all pissy for nothing.  Oh well.  More miles for me!  Since I did run over 7 miles, though I didn't do any other workouts that day.  I figured the run was enough.  ha.
Thursday:  Thankfully after Wednesday's frustration, I had a fantastic easy 3.2 mile run.  I followed it up with Alpha Cardio and then went to the gym.  Since at this point it's less than 10 days out from a half race, I cut back on my weights.  I kept the load the same, but instead I only did 2 sets of every exercise instead of 3.  It worked out well.
Friday:  Glorious rest.
Saturday:  The plan called for 3 miles between 7:30-7:40.  It was hard to keep a steady pace due to the crazy amount of traffic (both pedestrian and motor vehicle), but I did it. 
Sunday:  Last long run before the half!  Admittedly, the first miles were horrible!  My legs just did not want to move.  Seriously, during mile 1 I was begging to just get to a normal pace!  I think I finally felt good around 3.5 miles in.  Then it was like butter.  I don't know what caused the rough start, but I've been around enough to know that it happens and to just not quit.  I ended up feeling good enough toward the end of the run that I picked up the pace quite a bit to judge how much I had left in me just as kind of a tester for the race.  I felt really good, wasn't hurting, wasn't overly tired.  It was nice.  I ended up doing my tradition of going over 12 miles - I did 12.21 this time - just to have in my head "you have less than a mile to go".  Silly, I know.  But I am full of silly.  The good thing is I think I've nailed down my fueling strategy for Buffalo Creek (will be the same as Pittsburgh... not sure why I ever expect things to change if they work).  I did T25 Stretch when I got home.

So this was another over 30 mile week (right around 31), and while I did cut back on some stuff, I still think I did a lot.  I'm feeling really good, and aside from some things I need to get ironed out before race day (where Nick and the kids are going to be, what I should wear in case of rain, should I carry my handheld, etc), I'm pretty confident about the half.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 10/7-10/13/2013

Not this Saturday but next is another half marathon!  Which means... this is the last big week of training before just taking it easy for a few days before the race.  I'm feeling really great and I'm not really nervous or overly concerned about the race at all.  Hopefully this stays true because I'm enjoying being calm about it.

This morning I did Rip'T Circuit.  Admittedly, I kind of half assed it... especially on the one armed burpees and the tuck jumps.  This was really reflected in my calorie burn, but that's ok.  I did give my all on the weights and abs portions.  One of the things that I think is keeping me calm about my next race(s) is that I'm focusing on being kind to myself and taking it easy.  If I don't feel like jumping around doing plank jumps into one armed burpees, I won't!  I'll compensate with rocking the v-holds and the arnold presses, though.

After Rip'T, I threw in Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown and did workout 1.  Now, of course Jillian yoga isn't "real" yoga... Not in that breathy, zen, meditative way.  It's more of a flowing sports stretch mixed with lower body and core exercise.  Which is cool with me and just what I needed today.  :)

Here's the plan for the rest of the week:

Tuesday:  5 mile easy run, maybe 30 Day Shred since I'm feelin' Jillian again
Wednesday:  10x400s.  This is it.  Last chance workout.  lol.  Maybe more yoga after this?
Thursday:  3 mile easy run, Alpha Cardio, Gym Weights
Friday:  REST.
Saturday:  3 miles @ HM Pace
Sunday:  12 mile long run, T25 Stretch

Another goal for the week - more/better sleep.  Well, that's of course if these critters would let me have some space in my own bed:

Calloway and Sweetie.  :)  Calloway is bummed I'm not in bed too, I think.  Although his fascination (10 years now) while I'm trying to sleep is to lay on my head.  Or my neck.  Or at least knead my head and neck.  And purr really really loud.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Week I Could Have Turned Orange.

I'm in full on pumpkin mania.  Pumpkin pie spice?  Goes in everything.  Coffee?  Yes (full fat half & half plus a few dashes of this stuff is better than Starbucks)!  Cottage cheese?  yes!  Greek Yogurt?  Yes!  oatmeal?  definitely!  Ice cream?  Why not?  Pumpkin seeds must go in every salad.  And delicious pumpkin puree - you can put it in much more than a pie.  lol.  I confess that I ate pumpkin oatmeal TWICE yesterday.  Once in the morning as refrigerator oats (Another pinterest recipe.  They were great - but needed some Truvia for me) and then again before bed as my "pre-long run" fuel.  I am now buying multiple cans of pumpkin puree (not the craptastic pie filling) every single time I'm at the store because I'm using that much.  I fully plan on baking pumpkin muffins later.... Why?  because I can!

Oh... and let's not forget:
All the absolutely divine pumpkin beers out there right now.  This one here is one of the best.

Hey, at least I'm getting my vitamin A, right (well, maybe not so much in the beer...)?  

So, other than attempt to turn myself orange this week, here's how my workouts went:

Monday:  in addition to the Upper Focus I already reported in on, I was able to do T25 Stretch after the kids were in bed.  It felt great on my tight legs!

Tuesday:  5 easy miles.  My legs (quads in particular) were very heavy feeling.  It wasn't too bad, and it honestly felt better the more I ran.  The big thing to report about this run was that it is officially really freaking dark when I head out on my early morning runs.  I've started clipping on blinky lights and at least being more aware of wearing bright colored clothing and watching where I run (the really dark park that is covered in acorns in places right now?  Not the best idea... those little bastards cause ouchies).  I don't want to stop running this early until I absolutely have to, so I'm learning to adapt.

I foam rolled more on Tuesday to work some kinks out and instead of doing another big workout, I popped in an old school 10 Minute Solution.  I did the Abs portion and the stretch.  The stretch of course felt great, but the Abs... meh.  After doing T25 this was way too easy.  I don't think I'll be doing it again, so unless Nick decides he wants it for him, this DVD is getting donated.

Wednesday:  I dreaded having to do this run.  45 minute tempo.  My legs still weren't feeling 100% and I told myself (as I always do) that if I head into it and feel too bad to just do an easy run and not worry about the tempo.  I'm not going to lie - I talked myself out of quitting several times during the run.  It wasn't easy AT ALL, but I fought through it, nailed my pace, and then enjoyed a slog back home past PNC park where everyone around was super happy.  ;)  This was one of those runs that proved that sometimes the mental accomplishment is greater than the physical.  This run also proved something else - sometimes I think my legs just need a good hard run after a race to snap back to normal.  After this run I felt perfectly fine.  Still do.  :)

I did Core Cardio after getting the kids out the door for school.  Since I'd just done a hard run and really didn't want to chance anything stupid, I modified the burpees.  There, I said it.  Call me lazy or whatever.

Thursday:  The plan called for a short and easy 3 miler.  I went 3.2 and felt great!  Then I came home and did Lower Focus, which went just fine.  Afterwards I hit the gym for some upper body love and felt really strong!  In fact, I incresased my load on a couple of exercises!  Yes!  Progress is great!

Friday:  REST (also could be termed "recover from hangover".  Oops.)

Saturday:  I was scheduled for a 5 mile run at between 7:30-7:40 pace.  It started off just fine and dandy, but somewhere around halfway I just faded.  It could have been the fact that my rest day wasn't total rest or the fact that it was 70 degrees and humid (93%) or the fact that after a spot on mile 1 I had to take mile 2 like a speed demon and then had to back off... I don't know the why.  What I do know is that I struggled to keep a steady pace and this run was just really hard.  I ended up at 7:30 average, but it wasn't a good run.

Sunday:  So after yesterday I was really craving a slow, relaxing "just run for the love of running" kind of run.  I didn't want to focus on pace, didn't want to obsess over splits or gawk at my watch every tenth of a mile... I just wanted to admire the sunrise, the fall colors starting to pop out everywhere, and just go easy.  And that's exactly what I did.  Surprisingly enough, by doing this I did nearly achieve negative splits and ended up going faster than I was planning.  Even though it didn't feel like it.  I even avoided the half mile to mile long ass cramp I tend to get right around miles 6-7.  It came on for a moment and then I said to myself "oh no, you're not doing this to me today!", fixed my form, focused on my surroundings and it was gone.  Or maybe I'm crazy.  lol  I ran a little over 11 miles and felt really good.  Total comeback from yesterday's stinky pace run.  I was a little sad that they had the area around the duckie gated off so I couldn't run by, but that's ok.  We'll meet again.

Overall this week I ran 30.46 miles.  Wahoo!  I did a few extras throughout the week and I rocked it at the gym.  So far I'm feeling confident heading into the last "long" week of training before my next half marathon at Buffalo Creek.

I'm going to go look for some more pumpkin stuff now.  ha!  But first lemme just say:  LETS GO BUCS!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

When I Can't Decide What to Read...

I just flip back and forth between the top subjects on my mind.

Cooking/Food, WoW, and Running (note my very beaten and well loved copy of Daniels'.  ha!)

If I didn't know any better I'd swear sometimes I have ADD.  But after going chapter for chapter pretty much I felt somehow drawn to dressing up as a Night Elf, cooking ham & cheese, and then running - wishing I could morph into cat form and Dash.

I am aware that I'm strange.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's October! Happy Happy!

I just want to jump in a pile of leaves and throw them all around like confetti.  I love October.

I could do a big dramatic September recap, but I really don't feel like it or see the need.  Bottom line:  it was a good month.  I finished up T25, had great results, and am able to cherry pick it now for the good stuff.  I ran a "Great Race" (hehe, pun intended), and met every goal I worked for.  I came in just under 100 miles for the month - 98.5!  Crap!  Makes me wish I would have went out for a 2 mile shakeout the day before the race or yesterday as recovery.  But oh well... it all averages out in the end.

Now the focus is on endurance as opposed to speed - a half marathon and a 10 mile race all in less than 5 weeks.  I can do it!  I will do it!

Speaking of I will do it and the whole "focus on endurance" thing---

I'm officially going to run my first marathon.  26.2.  The big event.  I actually signed up the other day due to a promotion, but today is the official signup day for the general public so I was waiting to say something until then.  May 4th, 2014.  30 weeks and 5 days from today.

This could quite possibly be the most ridiculous and stupid thing I've ever done.  Or it could be really awesome.  Or all of the above.

I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 9/30-10/6/2013

Heading into October already!  Yikes!  And hooray!  It's my favorite month of the year including my favorite holiday!  :)

Here's my plan for the week:

Monday:  Upper Focus and Stretch.  I did UF early this morning.  It felt pretty good.  I'm feeling ok post-10K.  My quads are a little stiff, but other than that... same old me!  I want to get Stretch in by the end of the night.  I have a volunteer meeting to get to tonight, but hopefully I'll have time before bed to Focus on it.  ;)
Tuesday:  5 mile easy run.
Wednesday:  45 minute tempo run, Core Cardio
Thursday:  3 mile easy run, Lower Focus, Upper body weights at the gym
Friday:  REST
Saturday:  5 miles @ HM pace
Sunday:  11 mile long run.

It's time to get focused on the fact that I have two more races to run this year - both within the next 5 weeks.  I know I've said this before, but the Great Race was really my big "goal" race.  I'm not entirely worried about this next half marathon or the 10 miler.  I know I can complete them.  The 10 miler will be one of those instant PRs no matter what because I've never done one before.  The half I'm still in "meh, ok" mode on.  I just want to enjoy some fall decor ala mother nature.  :)

So, my plan is to do the last couple of weeks of the half plan I've already done before.  After that race I'll probably just run some easy miles until the 10 miler since there's only 2 weeks in between.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

City of Pittsburgh Great Race 10K 2013

Night before:  It was Garrett's birthday so I had a piece of cake and some pumpkin ice cream (his pick, I promise!) early in the evening.  Before bed, I had a small bowl of oats and chia seeds with PB2.  Yes, I left room in "the budget" as far as my nutrient and calorie balance went.  I tried to get fluids in me to flush out all the freaking salt was in the pizza we had earlier.  Sheesh, I always forget how much salt is in pizza until after I eat a slice...

I got to bed at a decent time - around 11, and to my surprise I actually got a really great night's sleep.  Usually I toss and turn and barely get a wink of sleep before a race.  I slept straight through until my alarm went off at 7!  I didn't know whether to take that as a good thing or a bad thing, but I got up and started to get moving.  Even though it was a tad on the chilly side, I opted for a tank top and shorts because I knew that it would warm up a bit and given my previous experiences I'd be hot as hell half a mile in.  Before we left the house I ate a piece of toast with peanut butter.  Since it was a while before the race started (and I heard that this race is always late to start), I took along a banana to eat in the van before the family dropped me off near the starting line (I only ended up eating half - nerves were starting to kick in).

As we expected, the roads around the start line were restricted so I got out of the van a few blocks up and walked.  The crowd was sparse at first, but then I hit a wall of people.  We were all lead like cattle to slaughter nearly single file up the sidewalk past the start line.  A nice sized crowd was already gathered, and I groaned a little to myself that there were not corrals based on expected time.  This always poses a problem for me, so once I got inside the starting area I gradually snaked my way closer and closer to the start line.  I got about as far as I could, but was still a little further back than I would have hoped.  And there was still an hour to gun time!

Remember how I said I chose to wear a tank top?  Yeah, well, just like last year, I froze my ass off until the start.  I had goosebumps all over and some dude that was standing beside me said "you look really cold".  Gee, dude, you think?  I just replied "yeah, but once I'm a quarter mile down the road I'll be just fine".  I did contemplate wearing my armsleeves but really, it was 53 degrees and that's not really cold at all once you get going.  I could be patient and have less clothes to worry about messing with.  Many people were walking around dressed like we were in the midst of an arctic freeze.  I don't know how people run like that!

The gun finally went off after much hoopla and announcements and chitter chatter.  I was getting impatient and one thing I became very aware of was that my mouth was really really dry.  All I could think was that I really needed a drink and if I'm already dehydrated now, how am I getting through this race?

The start was like every other start - crowded - but I do have to say that because of my diligence in slinking through the starting area it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.  There is a bit of a hill that everyone was chirping about during the first mile.  Honestly, it wasn't that bad... I mean, in my experience hills at the beginning of a race (like McKinney hill during JASR) are much easier to deal with than hills toward the end of the race (Frigid Five Miler and Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I'm talking about you).  That said, my mile 1 ticked off a few seconds slower than what I'd like: 7:36.  I knew I had to pick it back up to where I wanted.  Unfortunately, I made a headcase of myself about it and took mile 2 WAY too fast.  Granted, there was a big downhill carrying me part of the way, but I should have been smarter about it.

Mile 2: 6:46.  Crap.  I knew I had to back off a bit or I was never going to make it.  Oh, and for the record?  I was right that shortly into the race I'd not only be comfortable in my clothes but getting hot, even.  I'd dressed perfectly for the occasion.

Somewhere around this time was a fluid station and while I never drink this early into a race or any run for that matter, I gratefully took a cup and took a big gulp of water.  I was really thirsty.  Maybe something I need to do in the future when I get to races really early is take some water with me...

I allowed myself to bring down my pace a bit and I started to feel better.  The field had thinned out a bit, although the gnarly Pittsburgh roads do make for interesting running as usual - always have to dodge those potholes, manholes, sewer grates, etc so you don't wipe out.

When we ran past the Cathedral, all the big doors were opened and I felt myself purposefully running slower by it.  I haven't been to Mass at the Cathedral in a very long time (too long) and I miss it.  I used to find total peace and solace within moments of walking through those doors and I think I need to find it again.

Mile 3 clicked off at 7:04.  Still a little faster than my planned pace (7:20), but it felt good.  The funny (or not so funny) thing about this race is I bounced back and forth between feeling really great and like I was running a comfortable pace to really terrible.  I couldn't put my finger on exactly why, other than maybe dehydration and eating badly the day before.  I'd just feel like crap for a while and just when I felt like I was going to crash, I'd feel good again.  Wth?

Oh, and the Pitt Band was out playing (well, part of it, I guess... there were just a handful out and I know the band is bigger than that).  They were great.  I love Pitt!  Go Pitt!  Most of my high school pals went off to be PSU groupies, but I'm proud to have gone the other way!  Woot!

I got a little emotional when we went past the 5K start point at the intersection of Atwood.  That was where my first big girl race started and here I am, running through it and going twice as far just a year later!  Pride! :)

Coming down out of Oakland felt just fine, and the little downhill to hook up with Blvd of the Allies is always fun.  Mile 4:  6:52.

And of course, just when you think you're almost in the home stretch there's that long, gradual but noticeable hill going up to mile 5.  I remembered this from last year and tried to mentally prepare myself for it.  I knew I was going to slow down a little bit... First, for sanity and safety and second, to save my legs for the final mile and change.  Lots and LOTS of people were fading out here.  Lots of grunting and groaning and heavy breathing and moaning.  People were taking walk breaks.  My mind went back to the Pittsburgh Half and how I owned that last minute hill.... I was going to do it again here.  Hills don't own me!  Mile 5 clicked off at: 7:13.  Still under pace!  yeah!

So, it's pretty much all downhill from here, but there's still almost a mile and a quarter left, so kicking now is too early.  I told myself since last night: Wait until Wood St.  I was going to stick with my plan.  I honestly didn't know how much gas I had left in the tank because I was still doing the "feel good then feel like crap" back and forth thing.  Once I turned onto Wood I started picking it up a little.  When we made the next turn I got caught up behind a couple of buddies running together and got a little irritated I had to go wide to get around them.  Then the park entrance came into sight and I put everything I had left out there.

I heard Victoria scream "GO MOM!!" and that was just what I needed to put a smile on my face and push it to the end.  When the time on the clock came into view my smile turned into an elated grin and I chuckled out loud.  It said 44:xx and all I knew was that I'd not only PR'ed and met my goal, but I did it big.

Mile 6:  6:44
Last .2 (.25 on my watch, to be exact):  6:32

At least my last mile and a quarter were faster than my oopsie at mile 2.  I made a freaking beeline for the water tent.  I really think I was dehydrated as all hell.  I met up with the family and I scanned my bib with my phone to get my results: 43:53.  I ran a 10K in less than 44 minutes.  I know that's still like turtle pace to some, but I'm just swelling up with pride and happiness over how far I've come in a year.  From last year's 5K that I was scared shitless to do.  From being in some kind of nagging ache after every hard run to being like "ok, what can I do tomorrow".  From being like "man I could never run that fast" to hearing that my husband brags about me to other dudes.  I've come a long way, I think.  I've tried my best.

We walked over to the fountain after loading up on Smiley cookies and I caught this great rainbow:

Making a great day even better!

Then, of course we had to walk over and see the duck again.
Is he looking at me funny?  What's this duck really about?

It was a fantastic day!

What a Week!

Just a quick review... My emotions are racing and I'm just happy and spent and honestly... I really want a beer and some time to process. haha To spoil it:

That really happened this morning.  Really.  I think I'll pinch myself again just to make sure.

Tuesday:  Now this was a little bit of a chilly run!  It was between 39-41 degrees during this morning trot.  Made for a quick and easy 3 miles, though (despite terrible traffic - I got caught up at most every intersection)!  Then I came home and did Rip'T Circuit.  It was a good workout.

Wednesday:  Last speedwork day before the big race.  It was shorter, though - 5 sets of 400s.  I totally rocked these out.  Could have done without almost sliding in gravel, but hey... take the good with the bad, right?  After I cooled out a bit and got the kids off to school I did Dynamic Core.  It was ok.  I'm not sure I'll do it again for a while though.... Other than the pyramid stuff at the end, I don't mind it, but I'm tired of it if that makes sense.

Thursday:  Another easy 3-ish miles.  I followed this up with my old friend Speed 1.0.  The burpees in this workout are much more manageable because they are slower paced (and they're followed by kicks so I can pretend to kick the monitor in the face if I'm mad... lol).  After Speed, I went to the gym and only worked on the upper body and core.  I wanted to save my legs from here out.

Friday:  REST DAY!  But, if you read my previous post you know I walked all over the Expo, walked the Strip District, and then walked all over for the Duckie.  So let's call it "active rest".  lol

Saturday:  Real rest day.  It was Garrett's 4th birthday so we had cake and ice cream and pizza, and I think I may have overdid it a bit.  I just focused on chugging water all night to flush my system because I didn't want to be bogged down.  Other than the party, we went to the playground with the kids (at G man's request), played around until the sun went down, and I just chilled.  Well, tried to at least.

Sunday:  Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh 10K.  I will recap this later, but it was a good race, tough in some spots, but I achieved my goal (sub-50), hit my PR (sub 51:44), and even surpassed my "If I really had it my way" goal in the back of my head (sub-45).  

This week I only ran 17.78 miles, but they were all for a purpose and they were mostly great miles.  I did some more T25 workouts and hit the gym for upper body work.  I had a really good race, too, which was the point in all of this work.  I'm a happy lady right now!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rest Days and the Duckie

Well, yesterday was a rest day, although I did spend most of it walking around.  I went to the expo to pick up my packet for tomorrow's 10K.  This year, since the Great Race hooked up with the Pittsburgh Marathon people, they promised a "bigger and better" expo at the Convention Center.  It was definitely bigger... not sure about better, though.  Like the marathon expo, it was a lot of non-running stuff and really, too spread out for what there was.  But, it wasn't all bad.  I mean, when I walk out of somewhere spending hundreds of dollars, something's gotta be good, right?  lol  Gosh, I'm so bad.

Before I left the expo, I got suckered into signing up for 2 races, the local running club (who I've honestly been milling over joining for ages because, well.. they're literally right down the road from here and I run past their headquarters on just about every run.  Oh and also - when I'm doing weekend runs, so are they and I get caught up in the "traffic" so much I may as well be an official part of it... lol), and I bought some stuff on sale at Elite Runners.  I love Elite.  We all know this.

Just a couple of the things I acquired yesterday.  Swiftwick socks are my new fave, btw and I'm gradually working on just using those and Smartwool.

After the expo, Nick and I went to lunch at Kelly-O's and then wandered up and down the Strip a bit.  It was a nice afternoon and somehow I managed not spending a single dime.  I think my purse was crying after all I bought at the expo.  ha.

Later yesterday evening, we took the kids to see the Rubber Duckie.  Yes, there is a huge (40 ft) Rubber Duck floating in the river now.  It's going to be here for a few weeks but it just arrived last night and there was a bridge party for it.  We walked down and the bridge was SO crowded.  You couldn't even move there were so many people and I was getting nervous because I was being shoved, my feet stepped on, my heels clipped, etc.  All I could think was "omg I'm gonna be so mad if I can't run right because of this crap!".  After we finally got off the bridge and over to the other side of the river the crowd thinned and we just hung out for a while, taking pictures of the duck and walking.  We made the wise decision to take the T back over to the other side instead of dealing with the bridge crowd again.  It was a fun time, though.

 From the North Shore.
Goofy Tori.  She thought it was great. 

Rubber Duckie, you're the one! lol

Today is Garrett's 4th birthday!  We don't have big plans for the day really.  Aside from our little family cake and ice cream party, he just wants to go to the playground this afternoon and then have pizza for dinner.  Sounds good to me!  I can't believe my baby is 4.  Wow.  Time goes by in a flash.  Makes you appreciate the fact that you need to enjoy life while you can.  I know I'm guilty of stressing over all the details and making mountains out of molehills and just... totally missing the point some days.  Something I'd like to personally work on is getting over that and trying to just take more things in stride.

Speaking of taking things in stride - yes, tomorrow is the Great Race.  While I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous, I really feel good and I think unless something terrible happens I'm going to do well.  Will I PR and hit my sub-50 minute goal?  Probably.  My training went awesome, I never missed a run and I nailed all my quality runs. What if I don't?  Life goes on.  I'll live to run another day.

Hope everyone out there is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Focus T25 Beta Phase Review

Finally, huh?  I can't believe it has taken me almost 2 weeks to post this, but better late than never!

Focus T25 Beta Phase Workout Reviews

Core Cardio:  From the first seconds of this video, you know you’re not in Alpha phase anymore.  There are some familiar exercises from Alpha, but you do them much more quickly or with an added “twist” of some sort.  This particular video was interesting because you’re going all cardio heart rate crazy, but keeping everything focused on the core.  It’s a good workout and fun too.   I averaged around a 225 calorie burn during this.

Speed 2.0:  Well, if you thought Speed 1.0 was fun and you don’t mind NOT having those nice little stability “breaks” from Alpha phase then you will LOVE Speed 2.0.  I certainly did.  In fact, I can tell you without any hesitation that this is my favorite T25 workout of the entire series.  You move fast – really fast, but the way this workout is laid out, the time just flies by.  You do one set of exercises and then go and repeat them 2 more times for less overall time each set, but with as much intensity as you can muster.  Then you learn another “routine” and do the same thing.  And the moves are fun, the crew looks like they’re having fun, and sweat is just flying.  Oh, and there’s no burpees… So if you’re a burpee hater like I am (I would rather do pushups all day long than do 10 burpees), this workout is for you.  Oh, and the calorie burn is awesome – 250 is what I average on this one!  Woohoo!

Rip’T Circuit:  I started off Beta Phase not really knowing what to take of this.  I went into it expecting Total Body Circuit 2.0, but it wasn't like that at all, thankfully.  Once I got over my shock and awe, I actually came to like the workout.  Yes, it has things in it that bother me – mainly inconsistency and imbalance.  In this workout you go from weight training to ab work on the mat to cardio and on and on.  Often, the cueing will be off or the moves have to be switched so quickly that you cut an exercise off to get to the next OR (and my biggest complaint) if you’re doing sets of reps on both sides, the sides become uneven.  I don’t care to do 8 reps on one side and 11 on another.  So, I’ve had to “learn” the video and adapt it for myself so I get an even workout.  Other than that, it really does give you a great set of exercises and you feel pretty darn good when finished.  It’s not a big calorie burner, though..  I averaged 145 calories burned during this workout.

Dynamic Core:  I’ll come out and say it – this video is just freaking weird.  Is it bad?  No, not really.  But it’s kind of like Core Cardio meets Ab Intervals meets Rip’t Circuit.  I can see where a lot of the moves could be core focused, but not with 100% intensity.  I’m sorry, but when you have me hopping on one foot while kicking out my opposite foot with my leg at a 90 degree angle that’s fantastic stabilization work, but I don’t think it is going to get me a 6 pack any time soon.  Unlike some other people I've talked to, I do happen to like the planking up and overs.  Then again, I like most anything plank related.  Pretty much for me, the floor work was really good, the opening cardio bit was strange, and I really could have done without the pyramid routine at the end, but I suffered through it every time and by the end of beta I was owning that shit, so I guess there was some benefit to it.  Lol  I burn around 130 calories doing this workout.

Upper Focus:  This is another one of my favorite T25 workouts.  For the most part.  My only problem is the end of the video where it seems like they just ran out of ideas so it’s just like “let’s do some hip ups and v ups”.  Really?  In an upper body workout when you already have 1 (2, in my opinion) workouts that already hyper focus on the abs?  This just comes up as bizarre but I always get it done.  Unlike in the other ab videos my core isn't too tired to hold my legs up high in the V holds at the end.  Ha!  You can probably guess it, but this workout utilizes a lot of dumbbell weight training as well as pushups, punches, etc.  I used 8 lb dumbbells for this and it seemed to work out fine.  The exercises were effective and were put together in a nice flow.  I always feel good when I finish this one.  Again, my biggest complaint is similar to Rip’T Circuit – uneven reps.  I must have equality!!  Average calorie burn: 125.

Core Speed:  This was the “exclusive” DVD that you only get with the base kit if you order from a Beachbody coach or pay extra for it.  It was supposed to be used in place of Speed 2.0 at any point in the Beta phase.  My plan, and what I did end up doing was using Speed 2.0 for the first half of the cycle and then Core Speed for the last half since I assumed it would be a step harder.  I was right.  Core Speed is set up just the same as 2.0 with the routines that repeat a couple times before moving on.  It is still really fast -  lightning fast compared to any of the other T25 workouts, IMO – and it is fun.  I would almost say that it could be more fun than Speed 2.0 if it weren't for all the damn burpees.  Burpee to a criss cross, one armed burpees… omg.  I got through them because the workout is that fast and otherwise fun, but I cursed these parts out like you wouldn't believe.  Some people like burpees and are great at them and I think that’s awesome.  I loathe them mainly because they are hard as hell on my knees and my feet (and my back if I really hit one wrong).  And I’m sorry, but I don’t like having my subsequent run(s) go to crap because of a freakin’ burpee.  Yes, it is probably due to improper form and application, but when I have no one here watching what I’m doing, it’s kinda hard to fix it when the workout is just flying so fast.  This video is what prompted me to snoop and look ahead at videos on YouTube and make a final decision to NOT buy Gamma phase because Speed 3.0 is burpee central.  Boo to burpees.  I’ll go do 50 pushups now, thanks.  Anyway, other than the burpees, this workout rocks.  And by rocks I mean scorches calories: 250 on average for me.  But, looking at a 250 calorie burn, I’d rather do Speed 2.0 which is more fun and has no nasty burpees.  *shrug*

Overall, I have to say that Beta phase is more interesting than Alpha (due to the inclusion of weight training) and therefore, at least for me, has more fun factor.  It’s not just “another day of cardio” every day.  Fun is important for me in an exercise program, and for the most part, Beta is where the T25 fun was at.  Yes, there were some things that frustrated the heck out of me (bad cueing, unequal time on opposing sides, BURPEES, that snarky looking dark haired chick in most of the videos, the porn star moaning the entire crew does during that plank walk in and out thing that isn't even HARD!?!), but Beta was effective and fun.

I’m glad I did the entire program.  My abs do look a heck of a lot better and I do feel stronger. I also lost quite a chunk of body fat.   I’d do another round again.  If I ever stop hating burpees I’d do Gamma too.  But I don’t see that happening.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I've Been Missing Out!

I've seen them, you've seen them.  You've had to be living under a rock not to.  All those cutesy pins, posts, blogs, and pictures of refrigerator oatmeal.

Yes, they all looked so quaint, and yes, all the different combos have tempted my taste buds.  But... I could never get past that fact that at the end of the day it's just freaking oatmeal!  And I'm an oatmeal lover (eat it a couple times a week at least).  Something I've always appreciated about oatmeal was that it's so simple - scoop the amount you want into a bowl - for me that's between 1/3-1/2 cup - add twice that amount in water and nuke it.  My super microwave can cook perfect old fashioned generic oats in 1:30.  After that, I can put whatever I want in it.  My 2 favorite combinations are: PB2, banana, and chia seeds with almond milk OR 1 little single serve container of unsweetened applesauce and a heap of cinnamon. Sometimes I'll add some Truvia or honey.  Sometimes not.

Simple.  Filling.  Yummy.  I just couldn't see making my oatmeal that far ahead of time and *gasp* eating it cold.  Isn't that right reserved for No Bake Cookies?  Ok, so maybe it's been a twinge of laziness thrown in there too.

But oh, these constant nudges and temptations of the refrigerator oats!  Well, I've been looking for some new breakfasts to try so I dug through my seemingly endless amount of saved recipes until I came across this post from The Yummy Life.  Now, my kids have been fanatics over mandarin oranges since they were all just able to start chewing solid food.  We're rarely without them in the house because they're still a hit.  So, the first recipe for Mandarin Orange Refrigerator Oatmeal immediately intrigued me.  I had practically all the ingredients on hand.  And let's be honest - I was looking for a good reason to just have to buy orange marmalade.

Since I finally had a jar of marmalade in my grasp last night I got to work on these mystical oats.  I made some for myself and for my husband.  I even whipped out the "proper" Mason jar container (albeit a smidge too big).  lol

They were quick and easy to mix up and I got them into the fridge.  They looked weird to me, but I'd been assured that everything would come together overnight.  I did give the spoon a lick after I was done stirring the oranges in and the flavor was very good.  I knew my husband was skeptical too, but he said that he would happily try his in the morning.

When I returned from my morning run, my husband greeted me with "breakfast was awesome!" and I noticed his empty container in the sink.  I was excited to try mine (I only eat half a banana before a run), but I wanted to wait until I was done with the second part of my workout.

Like I said, they looked kinda weird (even that edited top pic doesn't help), but I was in for a treat!

Well... I have to admit that I've waited way too long to try these.  Oh my word I have been missing out.  One of the things I'd been afraid of about this genre of oats is them being all mush and pasty and goo by the time you got around to eating them.  Nope!  My oatmeal still had a great texture and the chia seeds were perfectly chewy too.  The flavor of this particular recipe worked so well, too.  I'd never put oranges in my oatmeal before and it seemed like the whole jar was just infused with bright orange flavor.  It was really refreshing.  And you know what?  It was great cold!  I loved how I just needed to grab it out of the fridge, take off the lid and grab a spoon.  That's fast eats right there!  Overall, it was filling and delicious and fresh.  I'm already eyeballing the next recipe down that list.  Chocolate and cherries?  Yes, please.

The only thing I could really see as a downside is if I wasn't in the mood for a cold breakfast.  Some days I love that hot warm belly feeling I get from a bowl full of steaming hot oats.  This just wouldn't work for that craving, but there are definitely a lot of times in the summer where I want oats, but I'm not in the mood for hot food, so something like this would fit the bill.

Here's the link to the recipe for the flavor I tried: Mandarin Orange Refrigerator Oats

The way I made them was withOUT the honey and using a packet of Truvia instead.  Honestly, it probably didn't even need that.  The marmalade was plenty sweet enough.

In other eating news - here's what I ate while waiting for the kids at swimming tryouts last night:

Roasted chicken breast with butternut squash dusted with a bit of cinnamon.  I threw it into a plastic container on the way out the door because I knew I was going to be starving while waiting.  Hey, you do what you gotta do to avoid a vending machine or convenience store if and when you can!