Thursday, January 31, 2013

See Ya Next Year, January!

The first month of 2013 went by pretty quickly!

Today I was at the gym for my scheduled easy treadmill 3 miler and strength training.

My run went about as easy as can be (despite feeling some weird foot thing - almost like it's bruised in a certain spot? It didn't interfere with my running, but it was odd).  The most notable thing about my treadmill activity was the guy next to me who stopped run/walking or whatever he was doing to crawl, yes, on all fours on the treadmill.  Is there a reason for this?  Is there a new fitness trend I'm missing out on?  Admittedly, when he first did it, I think I jumped 3 feet in the air on my treadmill because it freaked me out.  But he kept doing it!  It was like run/walk/run/crawl or something like that.  I don't want to be making fun of anyone if that's a legit exercise "thing", but it just strikes me as really bizarre...

Anyway, easy 3 done.

Mile 1 - 10:01
Mile 2 - 9:33
Mile 3 - 9:06

Overall: 3.23 miles in 31:01.  Average pace: 9:35.  Yay.  Yeah, that's one of those boring "yay"s.

My strength workout went great!  In fact, I tacked a couple of extra things on it.  I decided that since I felt really great (and had two awesome runs afterward) when I used the abductor on a run day, I'd keep it up.  I also wanted to continue doing those crunches on the bench even though the ab crunch machine is back.  I seem to notice that they work two different parts of the abs, and I like getting all the ab work I can!

My workout:
Shoulder Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs
Triceps Press - 1 set of 15 @ 45 lbs, 1 set of 15 @ 50 lbs
Back extension - 2 sets of 15 @ 90 lbs
Hip Abduction - 2 sets of 15 @ 100 lbs
Abdominal Crunch - 2 sets of 20 @ 55 lbs
Chest Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 30 lbs
Seated Row - 2 sets of 15 @ 30 lbs
Pull down - 2 sets of 12 @ 40 lbs
Bench crunches - 2 sets of 20

And I got my #plankaday done for 3:41.1.  BOOM!

Since this is the last day of the month, I want to do an end of the month review!
This month I ran 86.29 miles!  Average pace: 9:23.  Hopefully I'll hit the 100 mile per month mark in the next month or two.  This is the most I have ran EVER.  So happy!

Also - on the 1st of January, my plank was 2:01.5.  You see today's was 3:41.1.  A 1:40 increase!  I don't know if I can do that again for February, but I'll try!

As far as weights go, I was able to increase my triceps press from 45 to 50 lbs, my back extension from 80 to 90, and the pull down from 35-40.  Getting stronger all the time!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I almost puked!

I was lucky when I went out for my speedwork day.  It wasn't raining (yet) and it was 66 degrees.  Woohoo for wearing shorts outside in January!  I wore my blue Nike shorts, my bright yellow-green t-shirt, and my Adrenalines.  I used my Ironman armband with my iPhone again.  Nike+ watch on the wrist beeping at me for my intervals.

For the life of me, I can't remember what I ate before I went out.  I think half of a Luna bar.  Oh well.

I decided to hit the pretty even and flat part of the trail.  I know some people are keen on doing intervals on tracks, but honestly there are none convenient to me, and I just can't be driving all over town looking for that "perfect" place.  The trail works just fine for me.  Race courses aren't all on perfect tracks, either... well, unless it's like track and field or the Olympics, and I'm not going anywhere near those types of things.

At any rate, I started off with a nice and easy warmup and then began my 7 sets of 400m with 200m recoveries.  During the first one I scoffed.  Too easy.  The second one?  Just as easy.  My cockiness crept up.  The third one I felt like I was working but it was fine.  The fourth one was the first that I felt like I had to work a lot.  The fifth?  I wanted to be done.  2 more?  Crap.  On the sixth one I was dry heaving and considered stopping to puke in a trash can near PNC Park.  But instead I got pissed off, told myself that I only had one more to go after this and that if I'd just suck it up and move I'd be done already.  So, that's what I did.  No surprise that those last couple of repeats were my fastest.  By far.  Sometimes I just need to kick my own ass for being a crybaby.  I cooled down by running "easy" back home.  It started raining about 2 blocks from my house.  Talk about perfect timing.  I honestly felt good.  I even bounced up my front stairs. Of course after I stretched and got out of the clothes that were sticking to me I started to feel like I had jelly legs, but hey.  It's all part of the plan, right?

I know splits don't matter when it comes to speedwork intervals, so I'm not even going to post them.  But I will let you know (not that you care, but that's ok, I care) that overall I ran 4.37 miles in 38:03 with an average overall pace of 8:42.  That's with my warmup, cooldown and all the recoveries included.  Yeah, I think I did pretty well.

My #plankaday was 3:34.5.  Woohoo!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Feelin' Like Spring!

It is hovering around 60 degrees here in the Pittsburgh area.  It was 55ish when I went on my run today.  Quite a difference a few days makes, eh?  Instead of my bulky cold weather gear, I headed out in shorts, a Dri-fit t-shirt, and a super thin reflective pullover.  I used my YurBuds Ironman armband for my iPhone, which I used to run Endomondo and my running playlist.  I used my Nike+ watch as well, but I like hearing the peptalks I might get from my friends when I use Endomondo.

A few hours before I headed out for this gorgeous run, I had a standard bowl of CoCo Wheats.  Again, don't hate.

I started off the run just like over the weekend - nice and slow, admiring the birds that were out (lots of cardinals) and laughing that all that snow was about 99% gone.  I wish I could have gotten a pic, but since my phone was in my armband, I can't easily pull it out for pics while I run. 

Then... as I've done a million times before... After my legs had warmed up, I went into super speed mode and took my next mile WAY faster than I should have.  Well crap.  It wasn't as bad as it could've been (still within my "easy" pace range), but you better believe I pulled it back in for the next mile.

I think my legs were just loving the freedom of having 100 less pounds of gear weighing them down because they just wanted to fly.  My pace was all over the place - up then down when I'd catch myself pushing too hard.  Of course on my last mile, I just let it all out as usual.

The run wasn't bad.  I was within average pace, my legs felt great, and I had a lot of fun.  I just wasn't able to have that nice gradual progression that I had over the weekend.  Oh well!

I had half a banana and around 1/3 of a bottle of blue G2 in the van on the way home.  I finished my stretching (I always do standing stretches at the park after my run, but I do all the sitting and laying down stretches at home.  You know, mud is fun sometimes, but there is a limit.) and foam rolled a bit.  No tightness, no soreness, no anything out of the ordinary to note.  Hooray!

Mile 1 - 10:04
Mile 2 - 9:35
Mile 3 - 9:51
Mile 4 - 9:14

Overall: 4.04 miles in 39:05.  Average pace: 9:40.  Like I said,  all over the place but not entirely garbage.

Tomorrow is a speedwork day and it looks to be even warmer than today.  The only thing is, they're calling for strong thunderstorms during the mid-morning.  The kids are back to school tomorrow, so I'm hoping to be able to get out and back home safely before the storm hits!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Training Schedule Week of 1/28/2013-2/3/2013

Moving into February already!  This is Week 5 of 13 of my FIRST Half Marathon Training Plan!

Monday:  I couldn't get to the gym today again due to childcare issues because the kids were off school today.  No biggie.  According to Hal, this is "Stretch and Strength" day, so I did a workout called "Go Slow, Get Strong".  It was an awesome 20 minute session using light handweights (5 lbs for me) and doing squats, lunges, rows, chest presses, shoulder presses, triceps dips, biceps curls, and even planks.  It was great and I highly recommend it.  If you have Comcast cable, you can find it On Demand under Fitness Workouts.  I also did my #plankaday for 3:33.4!  After my strength workout, I did the 30 minute Yoga for Runners routine.  I find it really challenging, and while it feels good I realize that I may not be as flexible as I once thought I was.
Tuesday:  4 miles EASY
Wednesday:  7x400s with 200 recoveries.  Will include a w/u and c/d.
Thursday:  3 miles EASY plus strength
Friday:  REST
Saturday:  3 miles at goal PACE (9:00-9:10)
Sunday:  8 miles LONG

The mileage is gradually getting up there!  I'm excited.  The weather is supposed to be rainy but warm (for January) over the next couple of days.  I'll be outside enjoying the 50s!  Rain doesn't keep me inside unless it's freezing rain.  I'll just throw on a cap and go.

This week I'm going to try to have a repeat of the week before.  Keep it slow when I don't need to be fast, keep it easy and smart!

Run Happy everyone!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Long Run and Week 4 of HM Training Complete!

My long run went surprisingly well.  I was kind of nervous going into it because a) I haven't ran 7.5 miles in probably around a month and a half since switching my plan up and b) I had such a great "easy" 3 miler on Saturday that I couldn't have 2 great days in a row, right?  Well, I'm happy to report that my long run was just as amazing (if not more so, due to the sheer feat of running that far in the first time in a while) as the run on Saturday. 

For breakfast, I ate a bowl of old fashioned oats with about a tablespoon of sunflower seed butter and a drizzle of honey.  Yum.

There was very little slush to contend with since we didn't get any additional accumulation.  The temperature was around 22 when I went out.

The gear: Nike Hyperwarm Thermal pants (I love love LOVE the fact they make these in an XS.  Other companies need to get their act together and give a little more love to us petite girls.  I can't tell you how bad it sucks to be RACING and have your size Small pants/capris slip down on you because they are too big.  FAIL!).
C9 by Target UA Coldgear knockoff fleece lined compression fitted long sleeved shirt
SmartWool socks <-- These are a godsend.  Seriously.  Buy them.  Buy them lots.
Pink Zip Jacket (Xersion brand from JCPenney)
Thick white headband
Manzella gloves
Brooks Adrenaline 13 GTS shoes
Nike+ GPS Sportwatch
iPod Shuffle
iPhone, running Endomondo for my friends over there and for backup.  I'm a Capricorn.  I've always got a plan ABCDE
Amphipod Handheld insulated hydration bottle filled with water and 1 squirt of Great Value Brand Cherry Sport drink mix (knock off of Mio Fit)
Clif Shot Blox in Black Cherry Flavor - stored in the pouch of my Amphipod

After reading my gear list, it just occured to me that maybe I should do some reviews or something on the gear I use.  Maybe I'll take Fridays to do that since I have no workouts to report that day.  This isn't sponsored or anything, just my thoughts on the gear I've grabbed as a newbie runner and what I think works and why and what doesn't.  I'm painfully honest.  That's a good thing?!  If I can help just one person make a decision on something that's worth it. 

Ok, so I headed to North Park once again.  The kids have been thrilled to be able to sled ride again, so they came along to use the hill.

I spent some time reviewing my past long runs, and I noticed that the runs that I have the biggest smiles next to and the ones where I'm raving about how well they went I had started very slow and kept slow for at least the first half before throwing it into gear and burning through the end.  So, I wanted to try to stick with that.

The first miles (probably up through mile 4) of this run felt so effortless.  I was having a good time, enjoying the scenery, greeting people, and had a big smile on my face.  The hill just before the 5 mile point is always a bit of a challenge, but I love it and think it helps to do it rather than cutting through the easy way past the tennis courts like so many do.  TAKE ON THE HILL, PEOPLE!  KILL IT!

The hill crests and starts to head downhill right at the top of the sledding hill the kids were on.  Victoria saw me and waved, I was smiling and waving as well.  I still felt really good.  I yelled to her that I still have around 2.5 miles to go, but I'd be back.  I took 2 Shot Blox around the 5 mile point.

The big downhill is trickier for me than climbing the preceeding hill.  I let gravity do its thing and pull me down, and by the bottom I'm running at rocket speeds (for me, anyway).  It's not uncommon for me to hit 7 m/m at the bottom.  The problem is that at the bottom is only a small level part before you have to climb a slight bit again.  When I'm running that fast, I have trouble slowing back down to my pace and end up taking the next hill a bit too fast and feeling very worn out during and after even if I've felt great before.  This happened a little during this run, but thankfully not too bad.  I forced myself to slow the pace down as well as I could and went from there.

I went out a mile and a quarter and then turned around and made my way back to my family.  When I stopped my watch and started walking I still felt good.  I felt like I put out an effort, don't get me wrong, but I didn't feel like I was doing a death march back to the van.  I had some light soreness in my knee, but I did about 15 minutes of stretches and iced it when I got home.  It feels ok now!

Post run I ate a chocolate dipped coconut Luna Bar, finished my sport drink, and started on my water with EmergenC.

Mile 1 - 10:08 <- I was really aiming for 10:15, but I figured as long as I kept my splits close I'd be ok.
Mile 2 - 9:59
Mile 3 - 9:52
Mile 4 - 9:56
Mile 5 - 9:40 (downhill!)
Mile 6 - 9:50
Mile 7 - 9:40
Last .57 - 9:17

Overall: 7.57 miles in 1:14:24.  Average pace: 9:50.  Yay!

My #PlankADay was 3:31.9.

This week went great!  Aside from having to do my weekday runs on the treadmill due to the Arctic temps, I came back and had a great weekend in the park!  I did a fantastic job keeping my easy runs easy and then rocking out my Tempo run.  On my long run, I accomplished my goal of running smart by keeping my splits close, especially in the beginning.  I got in my strength work at home and at the gym, and my planks have been consistently over 3 minutes, with a few being 3:30+!

This week I ran 21.58 miles in 3:27:38.  Average Pace: 9:37.

I'd say week 4 of Half Marathon Training is successfully in the books!

I Broke Free!!

Free from the treadmill, that is.

Yesterday - even post 5 inches of snowfall - I went to North Park to run.  Like I predicted, the main roads were (mostly) clear and North Park is known for being cleared up in a hurry.  Aside from the usual spot that's pretty slushy/crappy, it was awesome.  The views were just beautiful.  Between the view and the fact that I had Mercy Me playing on my Shuffle, I was just feeling so, so blessed.  The weather and conditions were just perfect to take things really easy and just enjoy the world surrounding me.  That's exactly what I did.  This was a scheduled easy 3 miler, and was it ever.

One of my gorgeous viewpoints during this run.  Does it get any better?

Mile 1 - 9:55
Mile 2 - 10:13 <-- where the worst of the slushy sloppy stuff was so I was trudging more than running.
Mile 3 - 9:12 <-- after having to slog the previous mile, I felt like seeing if I could do a stride at goal HM pace, even though this was supposed to be just an easy run.  Honestly, up until this mile, I hardly felt like I was running at all... soo easy.  I ran about 800m at goal pace (9:00-9:10) and then backed off a slight bit.

Overall:  3.04 miles in 29:41.  Average pace: 9:45.  This definitely ranks as one of my favorite runs ever.

I noticed a couple people via blogs and DailyMile also keeping track of what gear they wore and what food they ate pre/post run.  You can bill me as a big copycat, but I think that's a spectacular idea and I'm going to give it a go.

About 2 hours before this run I ate 1/2 serving of Coco Wheats (go ahead and laugh.  I love hot cereal and I love chocolate.  Sometimes this stuff is like sex in a bowl, got it?) with 1/4 cup of Blue Diamond Coconut Almond Unsweetened milk.  I also had a big cup of coffee with creamer.

Post run, I drank my standard bottle of water with Emergen-C MSM in it and had a half of a banana on the drive home.  After my hot shower, I ate an egg white omelette with salsa and cheese with a sliced kiwi.

My gear on this run included tights with shorts over them to keep my butt warm, blue performance tank, Frigid Five shirt, hot pink zip jacket, zebra stripe headband, Manzella gloves, Avia socks, Nike Air Max shoes, Nike+ GPS Sportband, iPod shuffle, and iPhone.  Worked out perfectly!

Yesterday's plank was 3:30.1.  I also planked on my rest day for 3:32.7.  Lovin' the planks!

I'm headed out for my long run here in a little while.  I'm going to North Park again for a planned 7.5 miles. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

As the Storm Looms

So, our local weatherpeople have been going back and forth about some massive storm we may or may not get tomorrow.  It's gone from cataclysm to "maybe a dusting" to the current forecast of between 2-6 inches.  What do I think will happen?  Hell if I know... I'm not a forecaster or a psychic.  If I had to make an "educated" guess - and by educated I mean I've lived here in Western PA for over 10 years - I'd say we'll get an inch or three.  We'll have some snow covered side roads, but the main interstates and the parkway will be cleared. Tomorrow evening might suck, but by Saturday afternoon things (hopefully) will be almost back to normal.

What am I really trying to say here?  Come Hell or high water I will get at least one run done outside this weekend.  Even if I have to slog around at some ridiculously slow pace... I am sick Sick SICK of the treadmill.  I thank its creator and I appreciate having it as an option when I need it (you know, when the windchill is -20 and it's just stupid to be out).  However, one cannot argue that it is one of the most boring experiences ever.  And the longer you go or the easier your run is supposed to be, the more boring it is.  Speedwork isn't so bad because you're playing around with the tempo going up and down.  But even trying to imagine you're going up and down hills on a treadmill just doesn't cut it.  Not when I'm standing there staring at the same parking lot with Kmart across the way.  I get excited when someone runs the stop sign and there's almost a fender bender.  Sad, sad state of affairs.  I want my trail back.  I want North Park and my love/hate with that place.  Just no more gym, please? 

Ok, whiny rant over.

Today's run, despite it being boring, went great.  Again, I was a good girl and didn't go all out.  I just logged three very easy (and did I say boring?) miles.

Mile 1 - 9:53
Mile 2 - 9:32
Mile 3 - 9:19

Overall: 3.22 miles in 30:59.  Average pace: 9:37.  Negative splits and felt great.  Yeah.

I also had a great strength workout.  Much more exciting than my run!

Shoulder Press 2 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs
Triceps Press 2 sets of 15 @ 45 lbs
Back extension 1 set of 15 @ 85 lbs, 1 set of 15 @ 90 lbs  RAWR!
Abdominal Crunch 2 sets of 20 @ 55 lbs - the machine is back!  Yippee!!
Chest Press 2 sets of 12 @ 30 lbs
Seated Row 2 sets of 15 @ 30 lbs - felt really weak on this today, don't know why.
Pull down 2 sets of 12 @ 40 lbs

I also did 1 set of 15 @ 100 lbs on the hip abductor machine.  The gym was freaking empty today and it's rare that you don't have to wait for that machine, so I just hopped on it.  I don't typically do leg work after a run, but honestly I don't feel I had any ill effects from it.  Maybe I should do some?  Gradually work it in?  Forget it?  Help?

My #plankaday today is a new PR! 3:36.5!  For some reason, I'm having an easier and easier time planking.  Am I seriously that much stronger?  I think I want to work my way up to 5 minutes on the standard forearm plank and then move on to doing one of those per day and then start on one of another type (pushup, side, etc).  I figure, evenutally I'll have a whole plank workout of its own to do.  How cool is that?

Tomorrow is a rest day, which means I'm helping myself to an extra glass of wine tonight (chardonnay, leftover from cooking my dinner this evening).  Speaking of nutrition, I did a pretty good job today.

Breakfast: Half of a Clif Builder Bar (I always eat these when I'm doing weights.  It's probably all in my head, but I think it helps.. lol) - Chocolate Mint flavor.
Post Workout snack:  Banana
Lunch:  Low salt ham and swiss with honey mustard on Ezekiel bread (my fave bread EVER), and around 1 cup of fresh cored pineapple.
Afternoon snack:  Handful of Trader Joe's Trek Mix Granola cereal
Dinner was this lovely plate:
Yum Yum Yum!
It was chicken breast simmered in broth and chardonnay, seasoned with salt, pepper, and thyme along with boiled red potatoes and onions that were simmering with said chicken.  Also, I sauteed up some spinach with a little butter and garlic and roasted some butternut squash.  Delicious!
I'll probably have a snack before bed because I'm one of those oddballs that cannot sleep on an empty stomach and no dinner ever (unless eaten before bed) can hold me over from dinner to bedtime.  Trust me, I've tried.  I always end up tossing and turning and not sleeping because I'm miserable.  It's just the way I work.  I try to keep the snack as healthy as possible, but it doesn't always happen that way.  In fact, I can tell you that tonight I'll probably have a piece of cake because my 7 year old little girl helped my husband bake earlier.  Fun Fact:  my husband is a diabetic, so 9 times out of 10 our desserts are low sugar.  The cake they baked earlier is sugar free.  :)  I know some people out there have a problem with artificial sweeteners, and that's cool.  I don't ingest it ALL the time, often times I can go a whole day without any at all.  But they do exist more in our home than others because of my husband's diabetes.  Thank goodness there are options now for these folks!
Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

That Being Said

Here's my hump day training report!

Tuesday, with the windchill being near -20F, I went to the gym for my easy run.  There's really not much to talk about a short treadmill run.  You don't go anywhere, you don't really see or hear anything (aside from the annoying twits on the ellipticals behind you that think everyone wants to hear their conversation), and you're just doing the hamster on a wheel thing.  I played with the incline a little bit, went up and down to simulate some little hills.  Other than that, it went just fine.

Mile 1 - 9:54
Mile 2 - 9:43
Mile 3 - 9:31

Overall: 3.73 miles in 36:13.  Average Pace: 9:42.  Perfect.

Tuesday's #plankaday was 3:11.2.

I have to admit something here.  I ate like CRAP yesterday.  It was Nick's birthday, so I had pizza, cake, ice cream, cookies, etc.  Clean eating just wasn't a thing.  I did eat a salad from Trader Joe's for lunch, so at least I had something half decent in me... So, with that being said, I did not have high hopes for today's tempo run.

My plan was to go 10 minutes easy as a warmup, do 15 minutes at around 10K pace and then do 10 minutes easy and cooldown.  Again, the temps were arctic, so I went to the gym as planned.

The run actually went fanfreakingtastic!  I swear, I give a lot of credit to the Adrenalines.  Not one single twinge out of my knee... Love!  I felt like I could go a lot harder and farther, but I was a good girl and stuck to the plan.

Mile 1 - 9:59
Mile 2 - 8:25
Mile 3 - 8:29
Mile 4 - 9:15

Overall: 4.01 miles in 36:21.  Average Pace: 9:03.  So proud of myself for this!

Today's #plankaday came in at 3:16.3.

I've been doing better about my eating today.  I had a half of a Clif Bar before my run and a banana afterward.  For lunch I had leftover roasted chicken with butternut squash, carrots, and turnips.  Yum.  Oh, and a big cup of coffee too.  Post run coffee is an institution that shall not be infringed upon.

I just heard there may be a DM get together at the Pittsburgh Marathon!  That would be so awesome and I'm looking forward to it!

Oh So Serious.

Do you have a tendency to take running too seriously?  I do at times.  I read something via #RunChat yesterday, I believe, about "Hare Envy".  Boy, I can relate to that.  If I'm understanding this correctly, hare envy happens when someone seems to be so easily whipping out the speedy miles while you seem to be left in the dust.  You wish you could zip by, but you're working hard to maintain the pace you're at now.  This happens a lot to me when I'm running my long runs at North Park. 

Social media (Twitter, Facebook, DailyMile, etc) tends to bring this to the forefront.  Someone will happily report that they just ran a "simple" "easy" "slow" run of like 10 miles at an 7-8 minute mile pace.  Admittedly, while I'm happy for their accomplishment, there's times (particularly after a tough run of my own) where I'll scoff "that's slow? what do these people think about my slow 9-10 m/m paces?".  I don't want to diminish their hard work, but at the same time it is easy to get sucked into the "what's wrong with me" frame of mind. 

I know it is difficult, but I personally try to keep these thought patterns to a minimum.  I have to remind myself that I am doing this for fun and fitness.  I'm not, and will never be, an elite athlete.  I'm well past my prime of Olympic Trial possibilities.  Running, when I'm not pressuring myself about my times or my paces or any of the other technical aspects thereof, is incredibly enlightening, relaxing, and just an amazing personal feat.  Do I want to win Age group awards?  Sure!  Would I like to Boston Qualify?  Yes, of course!  Would I like to run a sub-20 5K or a 1:40 HM?  Heck yeah, that'd be awesome!  But these things will likely not happen and that's ok.  I want to be one of these older folks I see still cranking out the miles, no matter how slow, around the park with a huge grin on their faces saying hi to everyone who passes.  I want to keep my body in great shape so that I have a long happy life to enjoy with my family.  These are the things that mean more to me than trying to run 100 miles a week and putting tons of pressure on myself to perform when I just want to have fun and stay fit.  Honestly, I'm too old to do things that don't provide enjoyment.  That's what work is for... and I certainly am not getting paid to run!  I'm aware that everyone has different goals, and good for them!  I'll just keep reminding myself of why I am doing this and encourage everyone else to do the same.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Training Schedule Week of 1/21/2013-1/27/2013

Week 4 of Half Marathon Training!

Monday:  Childcare was an issue due to the kiddos being off school for MLK day, so I opted for videos today.  I did a 30 minute interval workout with weights including squats, burpees, mountain climbers, etc.  I also did 20 minutes of Yoga for Runners.  I got my #plankaday in for 3:31.5!
Tuesday:  3.5 miles EASY
Wednesday:  35 minute TEMPO
Thursday:  3 miles EASY plus upper body weights
Friday:  REST
Saturday:  3 miles EASY
Sunday:  7.5 miles LONG

We're expecting a little bit of snow, which is no big deal.  The big deal in my area over the next few days is concerning the temperature.  We're under a windchill advisory through Wednesday where we are expecting windchills between -10 and -20 degrees along with gusts of up to 30 mph.  Now, I consider myself to have a nice pair of balls, but times like this I'm glad that my brain is still bigger than those.  I'm fairly certain that tomorrow's run and Wednesday's run will be on the treadmill.  There's being a hardcore runner and then there's just being stupid for the sake of bragging about it.  I'll suck up the gym, thanks.  It will warm up enough that I will thankfully be able to get my weekend runs in outside again.  You gotta do what you gotta do!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week 3 of HM Training Done!

Sometimes it amazes me how fast time flies.  Of course, I'm saying this today but by tomorrow afternoon I'll probably be ripping my hair out because the kids have off school due to MLK day and will be going stir crazy.  Anyway, the past 2 days have zipped by!

Yesterday morning I went out and did the stadium loop.  There's not much time to get the whole way to the trail and get much done when I'm only scheduled for 3 miles, but that's ok.  This was a HM goal pace run so I was aiming to keep between a 9:00-9:10 average.

First off, it was HOT.  When I checked the weather, it said that it was 42 degrees but "felt like" 30-something.  The wind was also supposedly gusty.  So, I put on pants, a long sleeved tech tee, and my fleece pullover.  The sun was shining, so obviously I wore my Oakleys and I also wore my UA cap because I didn't think I'd have a problem with my head/ears freezing.  Well, by the time I hit the park (a few blocks from my house) I was sweating.  Not great for not even starting my run yet.  The sun was just beating down, and the wind wasn't as gusty as the report claimed.  But, I sucked it up and went for it.  I was panting like a dog.  I would have been fine with no pullover and capris.  Oh well, lesson learned.

In true "me" fashion, I went out too fast.  I knew I'd have to reel it in for the last bit, so negative splits just weren't happening.  Oh well.  This wasn't about splits, just about learning to feel "that pace".  I'll get it... that's what this training is all about, right?  If I were a master of this stuff I wouldn't be sitting here yammering on and on about my stumbles, that's for sure.  At any rate,  the run went ok.  My average pace did end up where it was supposed to be, I just need to be better about my starts and finding that sweet spot sooner and more consistently.

Mile 1 - 8:55
Mile 2 - 8:55
Mile 3 - 9:17

Overall: 3.03 miles in 27:26.  Average pace: 9:03.  Success among failure.  Such is life.

Oh, I didn't mention this before, but I wore my Adrenalines for this run.  Aside from my feet still feeling odd during the run, I was totally pain free afterward.  Even for as fast as I ran I did not have a slight niggle in the knee or anywhere else.  I think these shoes are officially a win and I'm probably going to wear them for most of next week.

Today was LSR day.  I did wear my Nikes, but next week I plan on the Adrenalines for the long run.  The weather was definitely back to bitter cold today and the wind was gusting 30+ mph.  Perfect for me!

I went to North Park with the family to do the good old lake loop. I planned to do the 5 miles around and then head out another .75 miles and turn around and head back to the fam.  Starting slow was my mantra for the day.  Keep it easy, I kept saying to myself.

Really, this run went well, even with fighting the wind in places.  Miles 1 and 2 were slow and gentle, and miles 3 and 4 were a bit quicker, probably a little too much quicker, but not bad.  Mile 5 was really fast, but I truly didn't have total control of it.  I hit a big downhill with the wind at my back.  I dialed back the pace a bit for mile 6+.  My knee was slightly achy during the last 1/3 of the run.  Not painful at all, just letting me know it existed.  I stretched, iced, and rolled, and its fine now.

One thing this run did for me was proved why I am glad I picked this particular training plan.  While I wasn't sore or anything going into today's LSR, I could tell that I did put forth an effort yesterday.  So essentially I'm learning to run on tired legs.  This (I think) will prove helpful in those final miles of my race.  Of course, we will see.

Mile 1 - 10:15
Mile 2 - 10:09
Mile 3 - 9:46
Mile 4 - 9:42
Mile 5 - 9:28
Mile 6 - 9:36
Last .56 miles - 8:57 <-- because, you know...

Overall: 6.56 miles in 1:04:02.  Average pace: 9:45.  Pretty good...  I'd like to have seen Mile 3 around 9:55-10:00, but hey, can't be a perfectionist here.

Week 3 done!  I think I did better with keeping the runs easy when they were supposed to be.  I was also thrilled that I was able to get to the gym for cross training on Monday and I got all of my strength work in then and on Thursday.

Overall I ran: 20.13 miles in 3:09:31.  Average pace: 9:25.  I also hit a new #plankaday PR this week: 3:31.9!!  I have done five 3+ minute planks!  Woohoo!

I really want to be able to get my speedwork sessions outside one of these weeks.  This week and the one 2 weeks prior I've had to do on the treadmill, which I find cumbersome.  I'm at Mother Nature's mercy on this, but I sure wish she'd cut me a break with the ice and all.

Next week I want to continue the trend of "keepin' it easy", and I'd like to add "keep it smart".  By that I mean, watch the splits a bit closer and try to avoid the huge gaps I have between them.  Easy and smart.

Friday, January 18, 2013

More Frigid Five Pics

Elite Runners and Walkers posted their own race pics and I just thought I'd share a couple!

I'm the girl with the bright pink sleeves behind the lady with the yellow Great Race shirt. So super serious at the start!
I didn't let The Hill get the best of me!
I see you there Ms. Camera lady. You've taken enough crappy pics of me, you're getting a smile outta me at the finish!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Keepin' It Easy

Theme of the week!

It's gone pretty well this week, if you ask me.  I've had some obstacles to overcome, but that's life and you have to choose to adapt.

Wednesday was my scheduled speedwork day.  Unfortunately, we had a bit of freezing rain and it laid a fine layer of slippery stuff on the ground for that morning.  I know some might chance it, but I don't personally feel safe attempting any speed training on ice, so I was forced to head to the gym for the treadmill.

The run went ok.  I used my Nike+ Sportwatch to keep track of the intervals, but I couldn't hear the beeping like I wanted to (the gym was crowded and noisy) so I found myself inconsistent with the stops and starts more than once.  I still don't feel that the run was a fail - I felt great the entire time and enjoyed pushing myself hard when I needed to.  I also wore my Adrenalines for the first time ever for a speedwork run, and I'm glad I did.  They needed it and feel much more broken in now.

Overall: 3.77 miles in 33:05.  Average pace: 8:46.  That included a w/u and a c/d.

Today I was back at the gym for my planned 3 mile easy trot and upper body strength work.  I'm a little tired because Garrett (3 years old) was up with a cough and the sniffles last night so I didn't sleep very well.  As usual, it's tough pacing on a treadmill, so I ended up a little faster than planned, but not by much.  I felt a little twinge out of my knee, but not bad and it feels ok now.

Mile 1 - 9:46
Mile 2 - 9:14
Mile 3 - 9:06

Overall: 3.22 miles in 30:26.  Average pace: 9:26.  Yeah, a little fast here.

My strength training went as well as I could hope for today.

Shoulder Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs
Triceps press - 2 sets of 15 @ 45 lbs
Back Extension - 2 sets of 15 @ 85 lbs
Chest Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 30 lbs
Seated Row - 2 sets of 15 @ 30 lbs
Pull down - 2 sets of 12 @ 40 lbs

I also did 2 sets of 20 ab crunches on the bench again as I'm convinced that my ghetto gym has stopped caring to fix the weight machine.  grr.

Oh!  Another thing I'd like to update is that I've been doing 3+ minute planks!!  Today's #plankaday came in at 3:05.2!  Rawr!!

Tomorrow is a welcome rest day.  Then I'll be running both weekend days as planned!  The weather looks like it'll be cold and windy but fine for running!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Training Schedule Week of 1/14/2013-1/20/2013

Yeah, this is a little late, but hopefully I'll be all caught up again after this post.

Monday:  GYM - I did 30 mins on the recumbent bike for a total of 7.56 miles.  I also did my total body weight circuit.
Tuesday:  3.5 miles EASY
Wednesday:  6x400s with 200 recoveries.  Will also include a w/u and c/d.
Thursday:  3 miles EASY TM run and upper body weights
Friday:  REST!
Saturday: 3 miles PACE (9:10)
Sunday:  6.5 miles LONG - yeah!  starting to crank it up again!

My goal for this week is to keep the easy runs easy. 

I got to run today on my trail!!  There were a few puddles and a couple of patches of ice, but no big deal.  The biggest problem with the trail was you could tell that bicyclists were using it more than runners when it was mush because it is all grooved.  That made it hard to keep good footing and cadence.  I did turn my ankle pretty hard in one deep groove, but it seemed to snap right back ok and it didn't bother me the rest of the run.  Even now it's not bad.  If I'm being totally honest, I think the wobble messed my hip up more than anything... Oh well.  Stretching, icing and foam rolling to the rescue as usual.  :)

I did try to keep the run easy.  I was successful during the first mile, and then after that, as usual, I kept wanting to go all speed demon.  My ankle twisting happened almost at the halfway point, and obviously that didn't help my pacing issues.  But, overall, I didn't think I did too badly.  It wasn't the easiest or most enjoyable run, but it wasn't the worst by far.  Plus, I have to remember I just ran a really freakin HARD race just 2 days ago.  I can cut myself some slack here.  Right?

Mile 1 - 10:19
Mile 2 - 9:32  <--- remember what I said before about that second mile?  I wish I could control this better...
Mile 3 - 9:37 - I refused to let myself get into the "must have negative splits" mindset when I was already running too fast.
Last .5 mile - 9:29

Overall: 3.53 miles in 34:32.  Average Pace: 9:46.  So, yeah, right within range, but it was a struggle.

Speaking of ranges, I wanted to post my updated training paces after this latest race time:

Long Run: 9:32-10:49
Easy Run:  9:30-10:26
Tempo:  8:35-8:49
5K Pace:  8:20
10K Pace:  8:39
Pace I'm aiming to run 13.1:  9:00-9:10

Really there's just a few seconds difference in times here, but I find the reminder of looking at numbers helpful.  Especially when I've been having trouble pacing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Frigid Five Miler 2013

I signed up for this race a while ago.  I saw a video of a past year's run many months ago and was so amused and determined to do it.  It was so cold that people had icicles hanging off their hair, guys beards were frozen, and everyone was bundled up like you never ever see runners bundle up.  Word has it the race was 9 degrees (-11 windchill) that year.  I thought to myself "yes, I AM that kind of crazy" and knew I'd be running this race.  They mention in the race info that it has a "dramatic, uphill finish".  I took note of that, but little did I know...

There was no official expo for the race, since it's a small local event put on by the awesome folks over at Elite Runners and Walkers.  Packet pickup was at the store in the days preceeding the race and they held a race weekend sale.  I picked up a pair of Smartwool socks.  If you've been reading this blog, you know that I'm lacking in the decent running sock department.  In my goodie bag was some sport detergent, a shoe wallet, Biofreeze, the standard advertisements for products and other races, as well as this awesome tech race shirt:
Long sleeved black and awesome.  On the back it has Elite Runners' logo.
I had bib # 317 and I couldn't wait to start.  Nick kept asking me if I was getting nervous for the race, but I wasn't.  I had no fear of it or "the hill" that everyone kept going on about.  I planned not really to race this, but to run this since it was part of my training plan.  Of course, when I say that I'm not racing, it means that I will.  I had a personal goal of finishing in less than 45 minutes. 
The morning of the race, I got up around 6-ish and eased myself into the day.  I had my (so far) standard pre-race meal of toast with peanut butter.  I also drank a bunch of water and took my supplements.  I had all of my clothing and gear laid out the night before so I wasn't scrambling to find things.  This time I would not be wearing my GREY SHIRT, but instead would be sporting a bright yellow-green tech T-shirt with black capris with a similar green on the backs of the calves.  Yes, I just said a t-shirt and capris for a "frigid" January race.  It was 60 degrees.  OH, the irony.  I was a little bummed about that because I wanted the challenge of freezing my ass off, but oh well.  I could survive a fall-like day.  It was cloudy with a chance of rain, but luckily the rain held off.  I did end up wearing my hot pink Asics arm sleeves while waiting for the race to start.  When the wind whipped it brought a little chill, and since I was just coming off of being sick, I played it safe.  Once I warmed up, though, I ripped those things down in a hurry.  They are very versatile and I highly recommend them.
We got up to the Lodge around 7:40.  The race didn't start until 9:00, but they said there was only room for a few vehicles up at the lodge lot and the rest would have to park in another lot in North Park and walk in.  Since we had the kids in tow, I didn't want them to have to walk up to the Lodge, so I wanted to get one of those spots.  Luckily, we arrived in time to snag one of the last 3-4 available.  This also gave me a warm vehicle to sit in until I wanted out to warmup, etc.  I had time for a potty break and to go grab my timing chip to put on my shoe.  This is the only thing that I honestly have to complain about regarding the race - there were 3 porta potties.  I'm not complaining about the number here, waiting in line is no big deal, especially when you plan ahead.  What I have issue with is the fact that all three were either a) out of paper b) out of sanitizer, or c) had a broken lock by 8:30 am.  Not good.  Oh well, at least most runners are cool folks who look out for each other in situations like this by looking out for the unlocked door or giving a heads up about about the paperless pot.
Around 8:50, I hopped out of the van and warmed up with a brisk walk/jog over to the starting area.  I tried to situate myself around 1/3 of the way back of the crowd.  There were around 600 people there and I didn't want to get caught up in too much traffic like I did at the Great Race.  I listened to Kevin from Elite Runners talk about how it was warmer than ever and this was the biggest crowd ever for the event.  He also gave one last warning to check your shoes to make sure your timing chip was on.  I got my watch synced up and waited for the gun.  It went off, and we did the typical shuffle to the starting line.  And we're off!
Well, as I said I threw the whole "I'm not going to race" out the window.  I was aware of 2 things.  First, there was some massive hill that I would have to climb as the finale of the race.  Second, while I wanted to have some energy left to climb said hill, I knew that in this particular race, I needed to make up some time in the preceeding 4 miles if I wanted to have any chance at making my time goal at all.  According to McMillan, I should run this in 43:15 at an 8:39 average pace.  I didn't know about that...  I knew I wanted to start the first mile off kinda slow and then build from there based on how I felt.
The first mile was pretty steady.  I had to pass quite a few people, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the Great Race.  It was a lightly rolling elevation, probably a slight uphill, but nothing spectacular.  My mile 1 split was: 9:02.  Right around where I wanted to be. 
Right after about the 1.5 mile point, it was a long downhill.  Hooray!  From about here to around the 3 mile marker, the run felt so easy.  I kept passing people like it was my job.  People that had started a lot stronger than me were obviously wearing out already and I was still feeling strong and great overall.  I did not feel a single twinge out of my knee.  The rest was obviously just what I needed.  My mile 2 split was: 8:02, and Mile 3 came in at: 7:57.
Mile 4 started with a hill.  Compared to "the hill" this one was not.  But on a normal day, this is a standard Western PA rolling hill.  I started to feel a little bit tired, but I dug in and it was no big deal.  There was also some traffic to dodge.  The police was holding the vehicles off, but there was also pedestrian and animal (dogs) traffic to contend with.  This was a bit annoying and defintely slowed me down a bit.  I didn't feel a need to stop at any water stations, and I kept reeling people in and going past as I could.  Everyone around was starting to talk and get nervous about "the hill" coming up.  They were making me nervous and I tried to just shake them off.  Mile 4 split: 8:47.
The Hill.  A while back I read someone elses recap of this race when they referred to this as "that shit's just mean".  Agreed.  The last 3/4 mile is a steady uphill, winding climb.  I thought it would be more gradual.  No.  From the moment you turn up the road you wonder whether you're running or freaking rock climbing.  According to my GPS, the hill starts at a 996 elevation, and you end up at 1276.  So, you climb around 300 ft in 3/4 mile.  Every quarter mile is another 100 ft straight up.  I started this race all like "I'm not afraid of the hill" and only a few strides into the hill it reached out and hit me with a sledgehammer.  The hill beat me up.  Bad.  I didn't have problems breathing the entire race.  I was huffing and puffing on this hill like nothing else.  The trudge HURT.  After not feeling anything out of my knee or anywhere else this entire race, I felt a burn along the side of my leg.  With every step up I got more and more winded and dizzy.  I honestly thought I was going to vomit.  And then I did what I haven't done in MONTHS.  I took a walk break!  Only a couple of steps, and not even .05 mile, and I started shuffling ahead again.  Then I broke down into a walk again.  My eyes filled with tears.  I only took maybe 5 steps when I thought "This hurts like hell, but it hurts worse to walk and at least if I run, even if its slow, I'll get to the end faster".  As usual, it hurt much less to run than walk.  I'm honestly embarrassed and disappointed in myself for having to walk, even if it was less than ten steps overall.  Anyway, I was - even with the walk - still passing people up this hill!  This hill was slaughtering people right and left in some sick mass execution.  I rounded the final bend and I could hear the cowbells near the finish line. Some guy zoomed past me.  A big shirtless crazy fun guy came jogging DOWN the hill high fiving everyone saying things like "THIS IS IT!  THE HARDEST PART IS OVER!  GOGOGO!  YOU CAN DO IT!".  I don't know who he was and he probably will never remember me, but he helped me find a final gear that I didn't know I had.  I saw the bright yellow banners of the finish line ahead.  Then I saw the clock.  It said 43:09.  WTF?  This can't be possible?!!, I thought.  I gave it everything I had at the end and passed that line at 43:15 on the clock.  Mile 5 split was: 10:17.  Told you the hill ate me for breakfast.

 This is my "Holy crap it's finally over" face.  Notice terribad form.  Thank you Hill.
I gulped down 2 cups of water and met my family.  There was a pancake breakfast being served in the lodge.  I got a pancake and a banana and 2 cups of gatorade.  I was still dizzy and nauseous and I couldn't handle the pancake so I gave it to one of my kids.  The banana and gatorade sufficed.  I kept walking because I didn't want to stiffen up.  I did some light stretches, but most of all I KEPT MOVING.  I think this is what helped most of all, because my knee didn't bother me much at all!  I felt tired and sore, yes, but in pain?  Not at all.
Me and my boy Vinny post-race.  I'm still red faced.  I've never claimed to be a "pretty" runner.
After the race was over and they printed out the final results I was thrilled to see that my actual chip time was 42:55!  Average pace: 8:35!  Amazing!  That was good for 14/64 in my age group and 212/550 overall.  Not too shabby for just coming off being sick, being a big newb in general, and tackling that killer of a hill.  So much for "just running and going slow".  haha.  I'm so proud.  And I plan to get my revenge on that nasty hill next year.


A Bit Behind

I'm a little bit behind in posting due to the absolutely FUN day I had yesterday and then the crash that ensued that night leaving me comatose in bed rather than sitting in front of this screen, so I'm going to try to catch up.

I'll have an official Frigid Five Miler race recap in another post.  This is just my week in review from last week - Week 2 of my HM training program!

Overall last week I ran (and this is a little off due to the last run being a race that calculated a bit differently from my own GPS): 14.63 miles in 2:13:51.  Average pace: 9:09.

What I did right last week:  I stuck to my plan while giving my body the rest it needed due to being sick and nursing a bothersome knee.  Instead of pushing myself to hit the gym on Monday, I popped my meds and rested.  On Friday and Saturday when I kept feeling guilty and thinking "maybe I should hit the gym or do a video at least", I didn't.  I rested, and honestly I really believe I benefitted more from 2 consecutive rest days than an extra day of training.

What I did wrong last week:  I'm really creeping up on that "going too hard, too fast" point again during every run of the week.  Even after plugging my latest race time into McMillan, I'm still pushing the limits of my "easy" pace.  While taking 2 days off to nurse my knee was a blessing this week, I don't always have that luxury and I need to be able to get myself through the week comfortably.  Why I always feel the need to push it to see what I can do is beyond me.  So, this week I will go back to working on being slow on the easy and long runs again.  Let the tempo and speed and pace days have their glory.  I was looking back on old running logs and when I felt my best after even my longest runs (8 miles), I was focusing on going super slow at the beginning and gradually increasing the pace as I went along.  Another area I'm messing up is going "easy" during the first mile and then somehow giving myself permission once I've done that to take around a minute off my pace for the very next mile.  Small increments, Nichole, small...  Needless to say, I'm still quite a newb and I have a lot to work on.  But, I've got the time and the determination!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

City of Pittsburgh Great Race 2012 5K

This race happened several months back, but I at least wanted to give a short recap of it so I can add it to the list.

This race was on September 30, 2012.

First off, the expo, held during the 2 days preceeding the race was cool.  I went on the first day, and it seemed a slight bit disorganized, but it wasn't bad.  It seemed like some of the vendors were still in a frantic setup process and there were a couple of empty tables where it looked like something should have been, but wasn't.  Oh well, it didn't really bother me.  There were a TON of people, but at least packet pickup was a smooth process.  In my swag bag there was a long sleeved tech race t-shit, a hat, a nutrition bar, ear buds, biofreeze, a keychain, and other miscellaneous samples along with the requisite flyers/advertisements.  My bib number was 13585.

There was a pasta party being held at the Spaghetti Warehouse, but I didn't sign up for it after reading many horror stories of indulging too much at those events prior to a race.  We had a simple pasta dish of our own at home and I felt a lot more comfortable and controlled there than I would have out and about with people celebrating all night.  I think that was a good decision that I will continue in the future.

Race morning was an early morning.  I got up and ate a slice of toast with peanut butter.  I wore black capris and my ubiquitous grey shirt.  My family dropped me off about a block and a half from the starting line with around an hour to spare before the gun went off.  There were tons of people there already and by the time pre-race announcements happened people were like sardines in the starting area.  Speaking of the pre-race announcements, I hope they learn a lesson in doing soundchecks for next year because my side of the road didn't hear anything.  The speakers conveniently didn't work.  There were people of all ages, sizes, etc waiting.  Very diverse.  I struck up a conversation with an older lady and her husband who said that they'd done the race before.  He was armed with his Garmin and she her iPod.  We also chatted with a lady with seemed to be about my age and obviously at least a casual runner.  She also lamented on the amount of people and said that the race has become very crowded in recent years and she doubted she'd do it another year if they kept letting more people in.  She prepared me for having to dodge walkers for the beginning of the race.  I didn't truly know what she was talking about until the race started.  I nervously putzed with my watch to make sure it would sync up and I did some half assed stretches.

Thankfully I was able to hear the National Anthem and the gun go off.  As a tradition, the Great Race starts the runners off playing the song "Shout", which was cool, because it was pretty much a dance/shuffle to the starting line to take off anyway.  I tried to start off around 1/3 of the way back the pack because I thought I was going to be one of the slow ones.  This I will NOT do again.  My starting line companion was correct - for pretty much the first half mile or so, it was swerving and bumper cars with people who were walking or shuffling along.  And, as I've discussed with others who ran the race, walkers are cool and deserve to be there, BUT when they are walking 5-6+ people wide and taking up the WHOLE ROAD it's just rude.  At least have the decency to stay to the right and leave room for people to run past.  Anyway.  After the race got out of Oakland, there was lots of room to maneuver.  I kept looking at my watch and thinking my pace was WAY fast (my goal time was less than 30 mins), but I felt good.  I held myself back a bit so I was sure I didn't burn out at the end.  Running into downtown was epic cool and I really appreciated the bands, bagpipe players, etc that were out there to support the runners.  There were a couple of fluid stations, but I didn't stop at any because I didn't feel the need.  Once we were in the heart of downtown and I saw we only had a short way to go and I picked up the pace.  I was still passing people up to and including the entire way through the finishing chute.  I sailed across the finish line with a chip time of 26:05.  Average pace: 8:24.  Way faster than I had planned on, and honestly I feel like I could have went faster!  This time was good enough for 19th in my age group.  Cool!

After the race I grabbed some water and gatorade (didn't drink the whole cup of gatorade because I'm used to the low calorie kind and this was the full test stuff) as well as a Smiley cookie!  I hooked up with my husband and kiddos and we watched the rest of the race.  It started raining a bit, so we walked to a local convenience store for coffee and hot cocoa for the kids and then took the T home.

Overall, this was a great first race experience.  I agree with those who say that the Great Race is quite crowded and cumbersome in places and would be much more palatable with a phased start.  I did hear that this year they are capping the 5K and 10K differently, so hopefully they are planning better.  I am planning on doing the 10K next time!

For your viewing pleasure, here's the link to a video of my finish.  You can see me around the 26:35 clock point.  Right side of the screen behind a tall guy in a bright blue shirt.  Rocking my ubiquitous grey.

Great Race 2012 5K Finish Line 25:01-35:00

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Heart Antibiotics

Today I'm saying a huge thank you to the inventors of Zythromax.  This is the best I've felt in several days, if not honestly the entirety of 2013 thus far.  My eye no longer looks gross, I have energy to spend, and I don't feel like everything in life is a huge freaking chore.  I even went grocery shopping today.  Rawr!

Like the slacker I am, I never updated on yesterday's tempo run, so here goes:

It went surprisingly well!  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to really accomplish a quick run due to being sick and all, but I did it.  It honestly felt good to run.  I went to North Park and started on the flattest part.  There truly is no "flat" part of North Park. It's all rolling hills of varying degree, but there is one side that is notably not as extreme as the other.  My plan was to do 10 minutes at an easy pace, 10 up tempo to around 10K pace, then 10 minutes easy again.  During the 10K pace part, I tried to run it by feel and every time I would glance at my watch it would say I was around 8:15 min/mile pace.  I'd try to slow it down a bit, but it just keep speeding up.  The thing is, it felt so easy.  I didn't really feel like I was pushing myself very much at all.  I could have kept running for quite a long time at that pace, so I just let things happen.

Interval times:
1st 10 - 9:53
2nd 10 - 8:12 (see? and this did not feel too hard at ALL)
3rd 10 - 9:32

Mile 1 - 9:54
Mile 2 - 8:13
Mile 3 - 9:15

Overall: 3.28 miles in 30:07.  Average pace: 9:09.  Not bad for being sick I think!

Today's run went just fantastic.  I was at the gym because today is a weights day.  Again, the run felt super easy.  The pace didn't feel fast at all.  At the end I was cranking up the treadmill just to feel like I was getting a good sweat going.  Maybe I'm just hitting another "easy is getting faster" point?  Gosh, I hope so!  But if this is just a fluke, that's ok too. 

Mile 1 - 9:53
Mile 2 - 9:13
Mile 3 - 8:49

Overall: 3.22 miles in 30:10.  Average pace:  9:22.  A little quick, but I feel great, knee is not bothering me AT ALL and I've still got energy to get me through the day. 

I did my standard weight routine as well, and being all in happy antibiotic beast mode, I was able to crank up some pounds on a couple machines.

Shoulder Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs
Triceps Press - 2 sets of 15 @ 45 lbs
Back Extension - 1 set of 15 @ 80 lbs, 1 set of 15 @ 85 lbs!
Chest Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 30 lbs <-- this was my weakest exercise, but I'm always weak here.
Seated Row - 2 sets of 15 @ 30 lbs
Pull down - 1 set of 12 @ 35 lbs, 1 set of 12 @ 40 lbs!

I did 2 sets of 20 regular ab crunches due to the machine still being a work in progress.  I also did my #plankaday (2:26.5).

This was my last run before my race on Sunday.  At this point I am planning on taking the next two days off, aside from planking, stretching, and maybe some light strength training (like the Strength Running IT Band routine).  I want to have fresh legs for the race and give my knee a break just in case it's still finicky.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Runner Girls!

I did run this morning and I'll update on that later, but I have an important announcement to post!

I've been named the very first Runner Girl of the Week by the lovely ladies on the Runner Girls Podcast!  I'm very flattered and honored!

If you don't listen to this show, you should!  You need to!  It's an informative, supportive, and fun show brought to us by Sue, Meagan and Katie who started the show while training for their very first half marathons.  Now, they are training for other races, including a half marathon that they will be running together!  I love following along with their journeys.  These are regular girls with regular lives, fitting in their runs while juggling families, work, school, and trying to avoid injury and illness.  No elitism or judgements on this show, which is a refreshing break from some other shows or online groups you may have encountered.  I also enjoy the "Runner Girl Recommends" portion - lots of great ideas/tips/products there!  If you haven't listened to the show before, I encourage you to give the Runner Girls a try.  I'll bet you won't be disappointed!

Runner Girls Podcast  <--- go here.  Like them on Facebook, download the podcast, follow on DailyMile, say hi - just do it!

Thanks again Sue, Meagan and Katie!  Keep on running!  <3

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Training Schedule Week of 1/7/2013 - 1/13/2013

A little late posting this, being that it is TUESDAY and all, but hopefully you'll understand once I explain...

Half Marathon Training Week 2
Monday - was planned to be a GYM day, but instead it was a REST day (plus my #plankaday)
Tuesday - 3 miles EASY - and since I didn't hit the gym Monday, I added upper body weights
Wednesday - 30 minute TEMPO
Thursday - 3 miles EASY plus upper body weights
Friday - REST or, if I'm feeling strong, a light GYM session
Saturday - REST

To explain myself a bit for my lateness in this post and my messing around with my schedule:
I haven't been feeling so hot, pretty much for the past week.  It was nothing really bad, but I just felt "off", if that makes sense.  Well, after my run on Sunday and into Monday morning, I just felt worse and worse - fever that came and went, aches (other than the knee), dizziness, general lethargy, cough (including the bringing up of that gorgeous bright green crap from the lungs), and even freakin' pinkeye!  Thankfully my doctor's office had an open slot -- it helps that I live just a couple blocks away and can walk there faster than you can drive and park.  The general consensus is that I have some type of infection and/or virus.  So, they gave me some eye drops and zythromax.  Other than my #plankaday and a little bit of stretching, I spent Monday resting and just taking it easy.

I woke up today feeling a bit better.  At least well enough to attempt a little 3 mile "easy" run.  I decided to go to the gym because I didn't want my cough aggravated by the cold air and because I wanted to get my strength training in.  Nick also needed to hit the gym, so it just worked out best for all.

Believe it or not, my run went incredibly easy!  My body seemed to forget that I was sick.  Other than a slight twinge of the knee that only lasted a few seconds around the 2 mile point, I wouldn't have really known that I was under the weather.  The most trying part of my run was listening to the annoying girls on the ellipticals behind me.  I guess they thought the whole gym wanted to hear their chatter because every time I thought I had my iPod turned up over them they got even louder.  Ugh.

Mile 1 - 9:44
Mile 2 - 9:27
Mile 3 - 9:02

Overall: 3.23 miles in 30:35.  Average pace: 9:28.  Negative splits!  A little quick for an "easy" run, but I swear it didn't feel that way. 

Now, my weight training is where I found myself struggling... I felt weak on nearly every machine except the Back Extension.  It felt like those machines had at least 10 more pounds on them than what I put on.  I pushed through and got done, but it was uncomfortable.

Shoulder Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs
Triceps press - 2 sets of 15 @ 45 lbs
Back Extension - 2 sets of 15 @ 80 lbs
Chest Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 30 lbs
Seated Row - 2 sets of 15 @ 30 lbs
Pull Down - 2 sets of 12 @ 35 lbs

I didn't get to use the Abdominal Crunch machine because it was broken.  Yay ghetto gym.  They did look like they were at least attempting to fix it, though, so hopefully I'll get to use it on Thursday.  If not, I'll just do some regular crunches in addition to my planking at home.

Tomorrow I'm hitting North Park for my tempo run.  I checked out my trail and it's just not an option.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The 5 miler before the 5 Miler

I wish I could say a bunch of positive things about today's run, but I can't.  When I woke up this morning, my knee was a bit sore.  It seemed to loosen up as I got up and about, so I really didn't think much of it.  I did have a fast run yesterday, after all...

I started my loop around North Park and just didn't feel right from the start.  I tried to keep things slow and easy, but I just couldn't settle into any kind of pace or rhythm.  I was either going way too fast or way too slow.  Sometime after mile 2 - probably near the halfway point my knee started bothering me.  Then it started bothering me really bad.  I even contemplated walking at one point.  Then it just started to come and go, so I kept plugging forward.  I gave up all hope of negative splits or the perfect pace and just focused on getting through as easily as possible and not aggravating my knee.  I even stopped looking at my watch.  It was honestly the least enjoyable run I've had in a long time.  I thanked God for the deer I got to glance at along the way, especially during that killer of a hill at the end.  When I got back to the Boathouse (my starting point), I was so happy to turn my watch off and walk to the van.  Walking hurt, but I knew I had to do it and after reaching the van I stretched while shivering in the cold.  After I got home, I stretched some more and iced.  My knee is "ok", but definitely not 100%.  Would I attempt a run tomorrow?  Yes.  It's not that bad - I think.  But, thankfully, tomorrow is a "Stretch and Strengthen" day according to Higdon, so I will be doing just that.  I'll probably do Yoga for Runners and a good upper body routine somewhere.  We'll see.  The knee could benefit from the day of rest.  Hopefully next Sunday's Frigid Five Miler goes much better than this run did!

Mile 1 - 10:05
Mile 2 - 10:04
Mile 3 - 9:40
Mile 4 - 9:39
Mile 5 - 9:18

Overall: 5.07 miles in 49:24.  Average pace: 9:44.  So, right where I should be AND negative splits.  If someone were to just look at those stats, they'd think I had a fantastic run.  But it sucked... really.

This has been an up and down kinda week, but I feel awesome that I've just completed Week 1 of half marathon training!  As long as I can keep my knee under control, I can see great things to come!

Overall this week I ran 18.29 miles in 2:50:37.  Average pace: 9:20.  The biggest mistake I think I made this week was doing my Saturday run WAY too fast.  I think, if anything, it should be my slowest run of the week (unless its written as a specific PACE run) to prepare me for the mileage the next day.  I will work on this in the future.  Not next week, because of the race, but definitely the week after.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's never boring!

Title says it all really...

The evening of my birthday I had an important call to make.  I'd received a postcard several weeks back stating that I was selected for jury duty and I had to call after 4pm on January 2nd to see if I had to report.  Well, as my luck would have it - yes I did.  So, I spent a long, grueling day at the Allegheny County Courthouse serving my time.  Thankfully, I did not get selected as a juror in a case, so my time is served for at least a couple of years.  Definitely not a fun time, though.

After that long day I was pretty irritated and really needed to get my run in.  I went home, grabbed some food (I was starving!) and headed to the gym.  I also had something else on my agenda:  testing out my Nike+ running app after some more research and contact with customer service on a fix.  Let me just say this:  Nike customer service is EXCELLENT.  They are nice people, understanding and quick.  They even offered to go into my account and fix my errored runs so that I didn't lose out on my achievements and NikeFuel.  COOL!

My run went great.  I got a good treadmill and my app worked flawlessly!  There's nothing really spectacular to report about my run, so I apologize for that.  Or not, because at least I have nothing bad to say.

Mile 1 - 10:06
Mile 2 - 9:37
Mile 3 - 9:03

Overall: 3.03 miles in 29:11.  Average pace: 9:36.  Right on target AND negative splits - woohoo!

I also got my upper body and core strength workout in.  It felt great to get back to the weights!

Shoulder Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 55 lbs
Triceps Press - 2 sets of 15 @ 45 lbs
Back Extension - 2 sets of 15 @ 80 lbs
Abdominal Crunch - 2 sets of 20 @ 55 lbs
Chest Press - 2 sets of 12 @ 30 lbs
Seated Row - 2 sets of 15 @ 30 lbs
Pull Down - 2 sets of 12 @ 35 lbs

Can't wait to keep making this a habit again.  I always feel so much better after a good strength workout.

Friday was my rest day - although I DID plank!

Today was scheduled to be an "easy" run.  We headed up to North Park once again with the kids so they could sled.

I wasn't in the best of moods when I started my run, and usually when that happens I tend to run a bit too fast and/or too hard.  This is a tough thing for me to control.  I won't say that this was a particularly hard run, because it wasn't.  A few times I did have to pull myself back from going all out, especially way early on.  I was also using my Adrenalines for only the 2nd time.  I just had some pacing issues and just couldn't keep the whole "slow and easy" feel going.  This ended up being more of a pace run.  And really, that's ok.  Immediately after the run I had a slight ache of the knee, but I iced and stretched like crazy and it's gone now.  I will be more careful for tomorrow's "long" run.

Mile 1 - 8:57
Mile 2 - 9:19
Mile 3 - 8:51

Overall: 3.11 miles in 28:04.  Average pace: 9:01.  Like I said, more of a pace run.  Oh well.

Can't believe the first week of training will be over after tomorrow's 5 miler!  And speaking of 5 miler, a week from tomorrow is the Frigid 5 Miler race!  Funny thing, in the 10 day forecast it looks like it will be around 40 degrees and raining.  haha!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Birthday Girl Update

It's my birthday!!!  Another year older, probably not any wiser, but definitely more determined and excited for the journey ahead.  I'm kinda thinking of Hawaiian pizza for dinner - it's got fruit on it at least!

The first week of half marathon training is flying by!  Half way done already!

Tuesday we headed up to North Park again because the kids got new sleds and wanted to test them out on the hills there.  Perfect timing for my run.  Also perfect for testing out some new shoes!  Just before Christmas I got a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13.  I've been putting off breaking them in because of the weather and because of the fact that I wanted to get a Nathan Sensor Pocket so I still had the capabilities of the Nike+ app and the shoe pod connection for my Nike+ Sportwatch.  I was able to find one at Fleet Feet (awesome folks there).

Since I was sporting new kicks, I wanted to make sure I started off really slow, especially since the path wasn't in the best of condition.  You could tell it was a holiday and no one plowed, cindered, or salted.  Lots of ice chunks and slushy patches.  But it was doable!

By the time that first mile ticked off, I was just on a roll.  The shoes felt GREAT.  Adrenaline is the perfect name for them because they made me feel like I could go faster.  They have great arch support and the perfect amount of cushion without feeling like you're running on a mattress.  I really appreciate the larger toe box than my Nikes.  Maybe now my toes won't constantly be messed up.. lol.  What shocked me the most was the amount of traction these babies had.  They gripped so well and I didn't have any problems with slipping.  I even blew past people going UPHILL in about a half inch of snow!  I usually never pass people at North Park, especially uphill.  I'm always left in the dust.  I can't say enough great things about these shoes.  The only bad thing I can say is that the front/toe area is really mesh-y (sorry, can't think of how to describe it) and when running in slush and snow makes for some wet and COLD feet.  I obviously need better socks too.  Right now I'm rocking generic ones from Kmart.  I do have some Avia ones that I picked up cheap at Gabes too but I think I need to broaden my horizons.  Anyway, this run went fantastic.  I was so shocked.  I ran at an easy pace.  Funny how when its really cold out "easy" tends to be on the faster side, but hey, I'm not complaining.

Mile 1 - 10:07
Mile 2 - 9:22
Mile 3 - 9:06

Overall: 3.05 miles in 29:08.  Average pace: 9:32.  Negative splits and all... can't ask for a better run!

That brings us to today.  My birthday.  And what would my birthday be without a little drama, right?  I woke up, noted that it was 10 degrees.  This would be the coldest day I'd ever ran, but I wasn't worried.  Threw on an extra layer on top and an extra pair of gloves and I was ok.  Then I got down to the trail.  The one I haven't ran on in a while.  I didn't want to go the whole way to North Park because it is hilly and this was a speedwork day.  The Riverfront trail is very flat.  I couldn't see it clearly from the road, but the path leading in looked ok.  So, I sync up my watch and phone and start heading in.  There were a few strips of ice that I just kinda hopped over...and then... SOLID SHEET OF ICE AHEAD. Well crap.  I had to stop right there.  There was no way I was going a step farther for fear of ice skating right into the river.  So, I went home, changed into gym clothes and headed to the treadmill.  Can't win 'em all, even on your birthday...

The drama didn't stop there!  We got to the gym and the great thing was that there were still treadmills open among the resolutioner crowds.  I was honestly scared of having to wait.  Then I noticed that my ghetto gym had taken out all the little auto-control things on the front handrail of the treadmills!  No more buttons that automatically "quickstart", "walk", "jog", or "run".  No more arrows right at thumb level by the HRM (which also never work).  They literally put plastic caps over them.  FAIL!  So now I have to use the up and down arrows on the main board of the mill.  Fine... I just wanted to get this done.  My run today was scheduled to be 5x400s with recoveries.  Nothing spectacular.  I pushed "Begin Run" on my Nike+ app and set off.  I did a warmup mile - app announced the lap pace as 9:46, nice time for a warmup.  Then I set out on my intervals.  I did somewhere around 200m recoveries.  It's kinda tricky to be exact about it on a treadmill... at least for me.  I watch the mileage rack up on the treadmill.  Not a peep in my headphones.... Yeah, you guessed it.  My app crashed again.  So, I just finished my intervals out on the treadmill, guestimating as I went, and did a cooldown.  When I was done I looked at my phone (which I had in my armband) and yep, the distance stopped tracking just before 2 miles but the time was still ticking away.  I put in a support request through Nike+ and hopefully someone will get back to me on it.  I'm only having a problem on the treadmill, no where else.  I just don't want to keep losing mileage through the website because I like keeping track of my training, trends, etc.  I think next time I use the treadmill (tomorrow due to it being a strength training day) I will try using my sportwatch and just shutting the gps off, unless I can get a response from Nike on a fix.

So, I wish I had exact stats for my speedwork run, but I don't.  I know the exact time: 34:50.  I'll guess I ran 4 miles.  Average pace: 8:43.  That sounds right.  Like I said, can't win 'em all, even on your birthday.

I think I've earned some cake tonight!  If I get a carrot cake, can I count that as a vegetable serving?