Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ups and Downs

Summer Vacation.

Most (I think) people see this as a relaxing time to laze around with little to do.  Not me!  Summer is my time to get things done and not have a whole lot of time for staying in and sitting in front of this screen.  So, as usual, I will apologize for not posting in, what - 2 weeks or so?  But I've had my reasons.

We've been spending a lot of time at Sandcastle.  It has proven to be mostly a good thing.

Our "new" van, the one that we just replaced the one that got totaled with, is on the fritz.  It seems the fuel system just said screw you all.  And, just our luck, that's not a cheap fix.  Great.  We were planning on road trips to both DC and the beach, but that has been put on the back burner now until we're certain the van won't blow up on the beltway...

We've had conferences with Vincent's school regarding a new program they want to start next year.  They're starting a Leadership Academy with a positive behavior plan and wanted our input.  I think it is mostly a good idea, but we'll see how it goes once all the wrinkles are ironed out and it gets implemented.

Garrett has been coughing a lot lately.  We took him to get checked out and so far they're thinking he may have allergies and this is a response to whatever he's allergic to.  So, it looks like we're headed for allergy testing.

During the summer is also when I like to get everyone's doctors appointments, dentists appointments, etc out of the way.  I'm not a fan of pulling kids out of school unless absolutely necessary.  (Yes, I'm also a supporter of year round education)

I've got family drama out the wazoo and don't want to get into too much detail here, but let's just say its there.

Confession:  during all this summer chaos, I haven't been 100% clean on my eating, either.  I say this as I have a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (ala Pioneer Woman) in my fridge next to the chicken salad.  I can feel the difference between eating well and not.  I've been tired, easily fatigued and bitchy.  I must get better about this.

Running.  Fitness.  Oy.

I've been running - right around 30ish miles per week.  These miles have mostly been great, aside from the damned humidity and heat.  I'm not a real big fan of running in the blazing sun or when the air is so thick I can eat it.  I've been getting up at sunrise on running days and getting out before it heats up too much.  Unfortunately sometimes it's already 75+ degrees and sunny at 6 AM.  Gross.  On these particular days I'm usually substantially slower and my heart rate monitor harps at me to stay in range.  I mostly obey it.  I'm starting to be able to pick up the pace a little bit and stay within my range, so I'm taking that as a good sign.  I've had a few runs more recently where I've even had negative splits.  No, I'm not officially "heart rate training" by the book - I'm really just utilizing my HRM to keep me from killing myself in this summer heat.  I'm a terrible pacer... this is a known issue.  Left on my own, I'd race through anything.

Not last Sunday, but the Sunday before that (wow, it has been a while, huh?  lol)  I ran another half marathon!  It wasn't a race, but I had 12 miles on my schedule and just had the urge to go that extra distance - just to prove to myself that I could.  This was one of the greatest long runs ever.  I ran downtown and around the Point, up the river and then back over to the North Shore onto the trail.  When I got to the trail, I found myself caught up in the Father's Day 10K that was going on!  haha!  I had a little trouble staying slow and easy in the midst of all that race energy around me, but I did my best.  Then it started pouring rain.  This was around the 10 mile point for me and I contemplated throwing in the towel and heading home.  Well, I caught myself and said "wtf is another 5K after all this?" and on I went.  I finished by 3rd half marathon ever. It was my slowest by a long shot (2:12), but it was a long run and not a race.  I was still pretty proud of myself.  I felt pretty good too.  Went home, stretched, got some food, put on my compression socks and generally felt normal.  Funny how after you've run a distance a few times it doesn't affect you as much.

I've been hitting the gym once a week and getting my weights in.  I've added some more to my routine - both in weight and activity.  I always dread the gym but feel great after I've lifted a while.

Well, that was the good.  Now let me be upfront about the bad.  The main reason(s) I have time to sit here and blog today is 1) Tori and Garrett are with Nick at the dentist while Vince is home sick (102 fever!  Poor kid) and 2) I'm injured.

Yep, I said it.  I'm hurt.  I don't know exactly what's wrong.  I have some ideas/suspicions.  Literally 2 weeks ago today on a run I had a twinge pop up in my inner left lower leg a bit above the ankle.  It came and went, wasn't too bad and I didn't notice it when the run was over.  I attributed it to breaking in new shoes.  I also read that while doing heart rate training, since you're running slowly you're using different muscle groups and running differently so some soreness does happen.  During the runs since then, this twinge has been there or it hasn't.  I've had (most) runs where I haven't felt anything at all.  That half marathon?  Didn't feel a thing.  Other times it would pop up during my warmup or midway through.  It could come and go.  But, I didn't feel any problems when I was done with my run or any other time.  And I do have to say that it wasn't (and still isn't) true pain.  It's more like a pulling, maybe sometimes pinching sensation.  I can run with it and through it, but it doesn't seem smart.  Anyway, on my 2 most recent runs - Sundays long (8 miles) run and yesterday's 5 miler - the pain has been more noticeable and now I'm feeling it not only after the run, but randomly through the rest of the day.  I just felt it when I walked up the stairs to the bathroom, for example.  So, I'm taking the day off of running today (was planning on 6 miles).  I did a little 15 minute circuit workout - crunches, planking etc, and maybe I'll get a walk in and some yoga later.  I'm going to try to do my easy run tomorrow, but if I have any pain I WILL cut it short.  If I can't get tomorrow's run done comfortably, I'm going to take the rest of the week off from running and try again Monday.  If Monday's run sucks.... well, I'll just have to come up with another plan.

I'm ticked off, yeah, but I'd rather play it safe and rest now than wait until I'm in so much pain I'm dying and then can't run my fall races (my biggest focus is on the Great Race 10K).  I do find it slightly amusing that I started doing the heart rate monitoring with the intention of keeping things easy and "injury free" and then end up hurting.  The funnier thing?  This injury/twinge/whatever actually feels better when I run faster.  Odd.  Looking through my exercise log, I do see some (maybe a lot) of mistakes I've made.  I ran a half in March.  Didn't take any time off - just jumped into training for the next in May.  Ran a half in May - again, no time off - just kept running at the same general mileage I had been.  I probably should have taken at least a cutback "recovery week" after the Pittsburgh Half.  But I felt really great, so I didn't give it a thought.  I specifically said I wasn't going to do speedwork until I'd built my mileage up again.  I did speedwork - once a week.  And I did all this on new shoes, new trail surface, new schedule, new time of day, and with a new weight routine.  Um, too much "new"?  And not to mention eating like shit?  I feel really dumb for not realizing this sooner.  I was just so gung ho and feeling good until just now.

But, that's life.  You play the cards you're dealt and come up with new strategies.  Something I never wanted was for running to become my only "thing".  I've always been about overall health and fitness since my journey of losing 100+ pounds (and I'm still ON that journey, and will be for life - health & fitness never ends until you do).  If I have to take a few weeks off of running I won't pull my hair out and cry until it floods the rivers.  I have many other ways to keep my fitness going and the weight off.  I will get back to running full time even if I have to reevaluate my training plans and goals.  However, I will be diligent in all aspects of my wellbeing - this includes my nutrition and spirituality.

That's my book for the day.  I hope it won't be another 2 weeks before I write again, but I can't make promises.  Hope you're having a great Summer so far!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another Happy Monday!

I'm in a "think positive" mood today (for the most part - we'll see when Nick gets home.. haha).  I'm getting things done.  So far today I have hit the kitchen, the living room and done an abs workout.  I'm going to do some cooking as well and get some meals out of the way for the next couple of days.

But first - how about I do a little weekly update for the first time in a while?  :)

 It was a busy week, which it always is the last couple of weeks of school.  All the assemblies and awards ceremonies and this and that.  It's an exciting but draining time.

I've pretty much updated through Wednesday in previous posts, so I won't rehash.  Thursday I headed to the gym for my strength training and treadmill run.  I know I just said I wasn't going to get into speedwork for a while but DJ Bill Bara from RunningMixes.com came out with a new interval training mix and I was dying to try it.  Especially since it utilized one of my favorite songs right now - Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.  The workout included a warmup, 8 sets of 2 mins @ 5K pace with 3 mins recovery, and a cooldown.  It was really great!  I felt fantastic and ended up getting over 6 miles in on the mill instead of my planned 5.

After my interval workout, I did 48 minutes of weight lifting followed by a good stretch.  Luckily, they remodeled my gym so it's not as bad now.  It's still not great, but it does what I need it to do without having to pay LA Fitness's ridiculous prices.

Other than planking on Friday, I didn't do a formal exercise.  The kids had their end of the year concert in the afternoon and we went to that and then took them out of school afterward.

Speaking of planking, I have sad news.  Somehow, due to Twitter error or whatever, my official #PlankADay streak is over.  :(  I don't know what happened, but I do know that I planked every single day and posted my times.  So, boo on that.  Am I still going to plank every day?  Yes.  But I won't be annoying everyone with the daily tweets I guess.  I do have to say it's a mixed blessing.  It's kind of nice not to have yet another thing to worry about... lol.

Saturday I got up at the crack of dawn again and got a little over 5 miles in.  It was a little cooler so I was able to pick up the pace a little bit and still keep my heart rate low, which was nice.  On my way back home I tripped over an uneven manhole.  I didn't fall, thank goodness.  I was able to steady myself and keep running.  And to the dude that took the opportunity to chuckle at me and not even ask if I was ok - screw you and your beer belly.

After my run, we walked down to the Arts Festival for a bit.  The kids made some boats out of garbage thanks to the Children's Museum and some other stuff at random booths.  Of course the coolest thing was watching the fountain again.  It's hard to believe it's been off since 2009!  Pictures of the city look complete again.  I know that sounds funny, but it looked so odd without it.

When we were done at the Arts Festival, we headed out to the Montour trail for a little walk.  We had to burn the calories from the fried Oreos, funnel cake, and caramel apples.  We usually don't eat things like that, but sharing a couple of things once in a while is good.  We had a good little stroll.
Both boys wanted to pic daisies.  How could I say no?

Sunday I had my "long" run.  I planned on 8 miles but ended up going a little longer, of course.  It was only 61 degrees outside but 96% humidity sucks.  Not only does it totally trash my hair (lol) it makes it just harder to do much of anything.  I kept control of my pace and heart rate for the most part... I did have a couple spikes here and there but nothing that lasted too long.  Around the 7 mile point I had that damned hip/butt/thigh tightening or locking or whatever the hell it is happen.  It only lasted about a half a mile, but it was annoying all the same.  Otherwise, it was a fine run and I felt really great afterward!

Sunday afternoon we went to South Park to let the kids play around a bit.  We were going to hit the Strip District for the Saint Anthony Festival but it was just crazy when we got there and decided that it wasn't worth the trouble we were having.

So, that was more or less my week.  I got just under 30 miles in and had a lot of fun with the kids.  I feel fantastic, like I've said before, so I'm loving it all.

This week I have a lot to do so I'll be pretty busy.  The kids are on vacation officially the afternoon of the 13th!  I also have to do some meal planning, shopping, food prep, scheduling, projects, and oh, yes, I'll be running.  More than likely at the crack of dawn just like I have all this week.  It works out for the best - it's cooler, I get done before everyone is truly up and at em for the day so it's not in the way of anything, and it (usually) puts me in a good mood.

Summer is truly on the way!  Happy Monday!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy National Running Day!

So... did you log some miles yet today?  No?  Then go do it!  yes?  Then I give you a virtual high five!

I got up and out for a planned easy 5 this morning.  It was a beautiful morning.  Perfect running temps - 50ish when I got out.  Only problem?  I ate soft serve with the kids last night.  It's hit or miss, but my tummy can be pretty sensitive to soft serve.  This was unfortunately one of those times.  I had some discomfort when I left the house, but I didn't let that stop me.  I was ok until probably the halfway point of the run and then it just got bad.  I spent the last half of the run with a higher than I'd like heart rate trying to find a perfect balance between keeping the run slow and easy and just wanting to hurry the hell home before I crapped my pants.  Running too slow hurt, sprinting to get back to the house hurt... it just sucked.  I literally burst in the door exclaiming "holy shit I made it!"... haha.  Oh well.  I got a bit over 5 miles in on a pretty day.  I saw a family of geese, a family of ducks, some bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, and several species of birds on the trail this morning under beautiful sunny skies.  It wasn't all bad.  At least I didn't poop my pants.

Speaking of easy miles, in a previous post I mentioned trading in my Polar FT7 for the Wearlink+ transmitter that goes with my Nike watch.  Well I got it and it is awesome.  No fiddling around with it to force it to work, it syncs up instantly (I wish I could get the GPS to be this fast!), it is comfortable, doesn't slip, and works consistently.  I only had 1 time where I lost transmission and that was during a trail run I did on Sunday with my kids and after I hugged Garrett my transmitter moved out of place.  Once I centered it again, it was back and running for the rest of the time.  I love it.  It is insanely helpful as well.  Especially on the hotter days when I really shouldn't be trying to kill myself.  I know me, and I will plow through anything fast just to do it.  But it is probably not the best idea.  Having the HRM tells me "hey, you're pushing it a bit hard" or "you can pick it up a bit" or "what the hell is wrong with you trying to sprint up this hill", etc.  Now that I've worked out my training zones/paces I can easily separate my "easy" runs from my other runs.  The best thing so far?  That "beat up" feeling that I'd been having after some of my runs is gone.  The random aches and pains and the constant knee and hip thing are gone.  Now, granted, a lot of that had to do with shoe wear as well, but I have to consider the fact that I'd just been running too damn hard.  Yeah, it's an ego killer when my HRM seems to have my "easy" pace as between 9:20-9:40 or even slower if its really hot.  Before I'd be running 8:50-9:15 and calling that easy, but paying some form of price for it (fatigue, soreness, whatever).  It's nice not to feel like I need ice packs and ace bandages after running sometimes.  I can even do a run/walk later in the day with Victoria and not have any problems with it.

The only downside I've found so far is that keeping my heart rate low and running slow can be boring and frustrating.  Somewhere around 9:40 I start feeling like I'm not even running, but slogging.  Once that 10:00 pops up (and it has) I feel like I'm just kind of walking/shuffling.  What's frustrating about it is the fact that I feel really good and want to push harder, not slow down!  So it's more of a mental game than anything.  Also, it gets kind of boring, because to keep my heart rate at a certain point, I have to pretty much run at a consistent pace.  Any time I try to stride out from that my hr spikes.  I'm pretty much used to progressive running - starting slow and picking up the pace as I go.  But I can deal with staying steady (especially in the heat) to feel this good.  Now, I do allow myself that last half a mile or even mile to "run to the finish".  Another thing I notice is that I have a hell of a lot more energy for this by staying slower through the rest of the run!  haha.  I'm also doing naked runs at least once per week so as to not be too obsessive over numbers, because I have a huge tendency to do so.  And I will pick up the formal speed training as I get closer to race dates.

Until next time... have a great run and enjoy this gorgeous weather!
Great pic I took while Tori and I were out running the other day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Peek A Boo!

Yes, it's been quite a while since I've posted.  I don't know why, but I think it's mainly because I've felt like I've been in a holding pattern of sorts with nothing to really post about.  I've been running, and it's been (mostly) good.  I've had some crap runs here and there, but who doesn't.

I noticed that I was starting to have little twinges and niggles here and there on a more frequent basis.  Nothing serious, and they didn't stick around, but I realized this was the same thing that happened the last time I needed to buy new shoes.  My Adrenalines do have around 400 miles on them.  So, I headed to my favorite store - Elite Runners and Walkers.  I took my current shoes with me and was told that I was wearing them out perfectly and that I should stick with the same thing.  So, I got another pair, only in a cool new color.  Bright freaking green on them!  Woohoo!  And I'll tell you, I can definitely tell that my "old" shoes are worn after having these babies on.

Purr.

Now we're just about into summertime.  The kids only have a few days of school left and we're trying to pin down a schedule of events, so to speak, to get us through.  I don't know about anyone else's kids, but when mine just sit around the house all day, nothing good comes of it.  By that I mean, someone's getting beat up, something is getting broken, I'm constantly cleaning something up, acting as a short order cook, or playing referee over who's turn is it to pick the TV show or the Wii game or whatever.  My kids are only good for very short periods being cooped up in the house.  And no, for those who are wondering, I can't just "send them outside to play", because living here we have no yard (only a concrete "patio" if you can call it that) and out front we have a busier than you'd think street.

Speaking of "living here" after weighing all the options and where we are/were vs where we wanna be we decided to renew our lease here another year.  It's not ideal by any means, but truth is that sometimes Nick and I like to romanticize the "country life" when in reality we really do enjoy being in an active atmosphere and all its resources.  Not to mention being away from our families.  We really lie somewhere in between and until we find that, I think we'll be staying where we're at.  We're close to pretty much everything... walking distance to the kids schools, a library, grocery store, dollar store, hospital, the Aviary, PNC park, Heinz Field, downtown... you get the point.  Very convenient.

So back to the summer plans thing.  The big news?  I bought season passes to Sandcastle.  We've already been there twice.  LOL.  We were looking at getting passes for the city pools or county pools and possibly Kennywood, but then we saw the killer deal Sandcastle was offering.  With a Sandcastle season pass you get discounts off Kennywood.  A night riders pass is only like 10 bucks!  We like to do the night rider thing anyway, because its cooler at night, the lines aren't as bad, it saves from the kids getting too tired and cranky (but tires them out enough to want to go to bed easily when we get home), and lets face it - amusement parks always look cooler at night.  So, by getting Sandcastle passes we have pool passes to the max (slides, Lazy River, kids stuff?  Hell yes!) that we can use every day and we can get to Kennywood several times over the summer on the cheap.  For us, this just seemed to be the best deal.

Oh, and I just want to throw out a friendly PSA:  When wandering around a waterpark in the blazing sun, particularly if you're a runner, please for the love of God do not neglect to reapply sunblock to your FEET.  Otherwise, you end up like this:

And that was a day and a half later.  I'll just leave it at the miles I ran the following day were not the most comfortable... Oops.  Lesson definitely learned!

Other than Sandcastle and Kennywood, we're hoping for a successful campout, a trip (or two) to the Cleveland Zoo (we like it better than ours), a visit to the Buffalo farm (yum), and visits to the library, Pirates games, local parks, etc.  Just gotta stay busy.

I do have some more to update on (you can see my Race Schedule for a sneak peek at part of it), but it will have to be later.  Just got a text from the husband that he's on his way home so it's time to gussy up and make it look like I've done more today than drop more money on running stuffs.  Hey, I did wake up at 6 something to go run 5+ miles... that should count for something... haha.  Happy Running and active living everyone!