Monday, September 30, 2013

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

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

Here's my plan for the week:

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

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

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

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

City of Pittsburgh Great Race 10K 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making a great day even better!

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

It was a fantastic day!

What a Week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rest Days and the Duckie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rubber Duckie, you're the one! lol

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

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

Hope everyone out there is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Focus T25 Beta Phase Review

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

Focus T25 Beta Phase Workout Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I've Been Missing Out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 23, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 9/23-9/29/2013

I got up bright and early this morning.  I just didn't have it in me to sleep any longer.  I wanted to get up and start my day since I knew it was going to be busy.  I'm honestly shocked I have a few minutes to sit here and type this out.  I've got a few minutes in between my duties this afternoon before I have to start transitioning into kid pickup, gymnastics and swimming, and typical nightly routines.

This week my main focus is to CHILL OUT.  It's not going to go perfectly smooth this week.  We've got gymnastics and swimming tryouts and team placements.  School stuff.  Garrett's birthday is on Saturday and I still need to finishing planning and prepping for that as well.  My nutrition is not going to be spot on because of all the come and go and the party, and I've come to terms with that.  I'm going to do the best I can when I can.  Freaking out over exact calories and macro-nutrients isn't going to help me in any way, and stressing myself out in all the details of life certainly isn't going to help me run my best race on Sunday.  I just need to chill.... just chill...

So here is my schedule for the week as far as my workouts go:

Monday:  Alpha Cardio.  I cranked this out at 7 this morning.  It went great!  This is one of the better workouts in T25.  Although it is a notably slower pace than any of the Beta workouts, you still get a great calorie burn, and it's one of the more "fun" ones.  185 calories burned.
Tuesday:  3 mile easy run, Rip'T Circuit
Wednesday:  5x400s.  Dynamic Core.  I'm not sure about Dynamic Core, but we'll see how I feel after the run.
Thursday:  3 mile easy run, Speed 1.0, Gym
Friday:  REST
Saturday:  REST  (I may go for a walk or do something light)
Sunday:  Great Race 10K

I'm also hoping to have my review of Beta up this week.  It's taking me a while to write, I know.  I'll get to it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Autumn!

It's the first day of Fall!  Hooray!  My favorite season of the year!  I kicked off my Autumn bliss with a fanfreakingtastic 10 miler.  I'll talk more about that later!

Well, this was the last "tough" week of training for my goal race (Great Race - my "anniversary race") happening one week from today!  It went pretty well for the most part.

Tuesday:  When my husband walked me out bright and early and said "brr" when he opened the door, I knew this run would rock.  I rocked the armsleeves again (I know some people hate them, but I love 'em - have worn them for almost every race I've ever done because I love the convenience) and felt perfect.  As usual, when the temp is chilly I tend to run a little faster than intended, even though it doesn't really feel fast.  If that makes sense... Anyway, it was a great 5 miles.  :)  Then after the kids got to school I did Upper Focus.  I just didn't have a whole lot of "umph" in me for this workout.  I probably should have dropped down to lighter weights part way through the video, but I didn't.  I was really out of gas by the end and didn't really feel good about it.  Upper Focus is a decent workout - not a great workout, mind you, but decent.

Wednesday:  50 minute tempo run.  I struggled a little bit at the beginning of this, but then luckily I found my mojo and the run went great from there.  I nailed my pace and was where I wanted to be.  The last couple minutes were a willpower fight as usual, but I didn't feel too bad.  6.63 miles total.

Ab Intervals was what I'd determined would be a good "extra" for the day.  Unfortunately, it just annoyed the hell out of me.  That kind of shocked me because I remembered liking it a lot - I even just sat here and re-read my review of Alpha phase and I raved about it then.  Maybe it was because I was spent after the tempo run... It just bothered me to be on the mat, then jump up and do cardio, then get back on the mat, then jump back up, etc.  When I was on the mat, I wanted to stay there.  lol  Oh well.

Thursday:  Super easy 3 miles.  I haven't "just" ran 3 miles in the morning in what seems like a while and I was looking forward to a short and sweet one.  It certainly was just that.

After 2 annoying days of T25 in a row, I was tempted to shirk off Lower Focus and just go to the gym.  But, the determined "don't be a quitter" part of me won and I did it.  Believe it or not, I really enjoyed it.  It was a great workout.

Now, what WAS annoying this Thursday was the gym.  I don't know if they just ran a special or what, but it was super crowded with lots of new looking people and just general folks that have come and gone there before.  I was really hoping to be able to get in, warm up, go through my routine, and get out.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that because due to the crowd I had to stand around and wait on several machines.  So irritating.  And something that really irritates me about this is people who simply sit on machines and talk to people, text or Facebook on their phone, or just chill for a while.  Seriously, people... do your sets and get OFF!!  Especially if the gym is this damn busy!!  Grr!!

Friday:  My first Friday rest day in months... I enjoyed every single moment.

Saturday:  Another short 3 miler.  It was good to be out on a Saturday morning again.  This run wasn't totally easy, though - I felt like I never really got to the "warmed up" point and I was just tight tight tight all over.  I blame a longer than normal bout of DOMS from the gym on Thursday as well as (and probably more so) the fact that I really overdid it Thursday night into Friday.  Bad girl, Nichole, bad!  Live and learn, right?

Sunday:  So, for my fantastic 10 miler I decided to head out through the Point and then over to the Jail trail.  I really like this route.  I'd gotten into a rut of just running North Side for the longest time, so it is nice to get out and "see the other side", so to speak.  I had some weird knee twinge pop up at 3.5 miles, but it went away as soon as it came on for a few strides, so I'm not too worried about it. It hasn't been an issue since.  I had a Mint Chocolate GU during this run (one of my favorites), but really didn't feel like I needed it as I usually do.  I don't want to chance not having it and then crashing, though... Not like it hurts anything.  And this particular flavor is delicious.  I got a whole bag full on clearance from REI.  I'm not sure why it was clearanced - the expiration date is well into the future.  If GU plans on discontinuing this flavor I'd be sad.  lol.  This run was just great from start to finish.  I ran a little faster than intended - again, I guess due to the chill in the air, and also because I really wasn't paying attention to my pace... I was running how it felt easy to me at any given point.  Easy today was just a little quicker.  :)  I ended up going 10.16 miles total.  Came home and did T25 Stretch which is probably the only T25 workout I've yet to be annoyed with other than Speed 2.0.

Like I said, it was a pretty great week overall.  I had that weird off run day on Saturday but it wasn't that bad and it was really my own fault for falling back into overindulgence.  I was annoyed at the gym, but I got it done.  I ran 28.26 miles total this week.  yeah!

As far as T25 goes, I am a bit tired of it.  I'm "scheduled", and I use that term loosely because I'm making my own plan at this point, to do Alpha Cardio for the first time in forever tomorrow.  I'll probably go ahead with that because I really don't remember it much.  If it's good - yippee.  If not - whatever.  This week is kind of a cutback week anyway - I have 2 short and easy runs and 1 last little speedwork day (though not nearly as long as previous interval days).  My goals this upcoming week include:  rest, relax, and stay in one uninjured piece so I can kick ass on Sunday.  Also, my youngest child's 4th birthday is on Saturday, so that'll be a great day on its own (and easy carb loading!  hahaha).

Yay Fall!  Yay Fall running!  Yay Pumpkin everything!  lol

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday "Rest"... oh how I've missed you!

I've really missed my Friday rest days.  Of course, as a wife and a mom and a generally busy person there's always something to be done but 1) I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn or earlier to get a workout in and 2) since it is a weekday and the kids are in school I have some extra time to myself here to get things organized and accomplished in a more relaxed fashion.

Confession:  For the first time in a long time (pre-T25, in fact), I overindulged last night.  I love Blue Moon... that's all I'm saying.  Back on the wagon today!

Right now I have a southwestern style chicken soup burbling in the Crockpot and the whole house smells awesome.  The kind of awesome where it is almost torturous to be in the house because I just want to keep going to the kitchen where said yummy food is.  lol

Speaking of good eats, I've been making some great salads lately beyond the typical leafy green kinds.

This is a quinoa and corn salad that I got from the book Power Foods that I recently borrowed from the library.  I highly recommend the book in general.  Some of the recipes were a bit too froufrou for me, but there were more than enough "my style" ones to keep me interested.  

This is the recipe Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad from skinnytaste.com.  I made this perfectly as written - didn't make a single addition or omission.  I served it over 1/2 cup brown rice for a complete meal.  It was divine.


Things have been going pretty well this week.  I'll of course, update you on my workouts at the end of the week.  I do have to say that I'm hitting my breaking point with Focus T25.  I'm just not enjoying the workouts anymore and they're getting old and stale.  I'm already looking for something else to do.  You might just see me whip out an old Tae Bo workout or even a Leslie Sansone next week.  ;)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 9/16-9/22/2013

Well here's to hoping that this is NOT my last post for the week.  Sheesh!  You'd think I was too busy to be sitting around talking about myself/my life/running/fitness/food or something...  :)

Now, as you know I'm done with Focus T25.  So, I'm back to being a bit more free when it comes to workouts other than running.  Today I was really in the mood to do Speed 2.0 again.  I didn't do the entirety of Beta Phase with it since switching off to Core Speed and I just remembered it being really fun.  So I pushed play and had a freaking blast this morning.  After doing it again I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is my all time favorite Focus T25 workout.  It's fun, well cued, has a nice flow, and there are no moves that I dread coming up the entire workout.  In fact, I could easy call this video "Nichole's favorite T25 moves wrapped up into one workout".  Up & Overs?  Aw, yeah.  Speed and Agility?  All time fave!  That X lunge stuff?  Gimme more!  NO BURPEES!  Love it... just love it.  I'd be happy just doing this dvd a few days per week. But I know variety is the spice of life (or so they say), so I'll switch it up.

I really don't have a set in stone plan for the week other than my runs, but here's kind of the idea I'm looking at right now:
Monday:  Speed 2.0  -- done!
Tuesday:  5 mile easy run, Upper Focus
Wednesday:  50 minute tempo run, Ab Intervals
Thursday:  3 mile easy run, Lower Focus, Gym Weights.  I may skip Lower Focus.  I don't know.
Friday:  REST!  Hallelujah!!
Saturday:  3 mile easy run
Sunday:  10 mile long run

After this week is a cutback week because the Great Race is that week!  And my baby turns 4, so I'll be adequately carb loading with cake!  Woohoo!  LOL  (not that you need to carb load for a 10K, but let me justify these calories how I need to, ok?  Ok then.)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another Week Done Way too Fast for Me!

Seriously.  What the heck is up with the time flying all of a sudden?  I'm thinking it is because it is Fall, school is back in session, our schedules have gotten nutso (and are getting worse!), and I keep finding new things to have to do and keep up with.

At any rate - here's how my workouts went this insane week!

Tuesday:  I was really unsure why I had 5.5 miles listed on the schedule.  Just seems like such an odd distance... maybe I wasn't thinking or maybe the cat jumped on me when I was typing it up... I don't know.  BUT, that's what it said, so that's what I did.  It was a yucky humid morning but the run went really well.  As well as it could for constantly having to pull my shorts up.  I didn't tighten up the drawstring before I left the house and they kept falling down.  Yes, I could have stopped and fixed the problem.  Unfortunately my anal retentive personality dictates that once I go, I go until I'm done.  I'd better have a darn good reason to stop and droopy drawers aren't good enough.

After the sweaty run, I did Core Cardio.  220 calories scorched.  After really focusing on the workout since it was the last time for it in the official T25 schedule I've been following, I've decided it's not one of my favorites.  It's ok, but not great.

Wednesday:  Another speedwork victory!  As usual, I was fretting for days about this - 10 rounds of 400m at or faster than 5K pace really isn't my idea of a great time.  Especially when the weather has been in the 70s even early in the morning, and just humid as hell.  I woke up even earlier than I normally do and got out before the sun was up.  Even then, it was bad.  However, I sucked it up, warmed up and pumped out those intervals.  The first couple, as usual were all "pssh, this is easy".  Then the next couple I had to start working for.  The last few are always tougher - I rely on a lot of willpower and self talk like "come on, you can do 3 more", "2 more - that's it!", and "this is the last one, put it all out there and then you can slog home if you want to!!".  Ha!  Go ahead and laugh at me, but talking to myself when running works.  I did a cooldown, was satisfied when I hit the 6 mile point, and called it.

I was thankful that the T25 schedule for the day "only" called for Rip'T Circuit.  Now, I have come to have a love/hate with this one.  It is a pretty decent set of exercises... just thrown together haphazardly, in my opinion.  I do plan on doing it again, and soon, too.  It burns a decent amount of calories for what it is, the time goes by quickly, and it's not too intense after a hard run.

Thursday:  Solid 4 miler (well just over 4).  Nothing much to really say about it, but it was a nice solid run.  Felt good after the previous day's work.

I always like it when the T25 workout on Thursdays is an ab workout.  I think this makes my day well rounded with a run, core work, and weight lifting at the gym.  Good times with Dynamic Core this week.

This time at the gym I went back to my "old" horizontal loading techniques, but did keep the addition of a warmup (5 minutes) on the bike to get my heart rate up to a low fat burning zone.  I kept my weight rotation and amount of weight lifted the same, but I burned ONE HUNDRED more calories than I usually do.  Hmm?  Interesting...

Friday:  The very LAST T25 doubles day!!  I've been looking forward to this because I'm really itching to get my old run schedule back and have my Fridays totally free.  Why?  Because I can sleep longer in the mornings after the kids go to school if I want/need to.  Sleep is essential, ok?  This final day of Focus T25 called for Rip'T Circuit and Core Speed.  I rocked both the workouts and felt great.  It was a good morning.

Saturday:  Rest day!  As always - kinda.  I don't want to get into it, but just drama drama drama.

Sunday:  Another awesome "long" run!  Yet again I was wishing I could go longer than scheduled, so I did just a little bit more.  I ran 9.13 miles total.  I had a bit of a low spot around 6.5 miles, but that quickly subsided and I picked it up and felt fantastic the rest of the run.  It was a gorgeous hazy early morning and defnitely Autumn chilly!  I actually dug my armwarmers out for the first time this season.  It was 47 degrees when I went out.  Perfect.  I always feel good when I shiver a bit on my warmup and then am totally comfortable for the run.  It's nice for a change not to come home bright red and soaked to the bone with sweat.

I did my post run Stretch as usual!

Aside from the hectic schedules and personal issues, this was a great week for me, fitness related.  I'm saying a bittersweet farewell to the T25 program with the intention of still doing a couple of workouts a week from both phases.  I'm really looking forward to running on both weekend days again as well as running more, period.  I'll also be glad to not do what seems like endless burpees and half tuck jumps.  This week I ran 24.79 miles, and they were really great miles!  I have one final week of "hard" training left for my goal 10K race.  It is coming up quickly and I'm starting to get nervous.  Not sure why.

I hope you all had a great week!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Final Focus T25 Results!

First of all, I'm sorry this has been a pretty weak week (har har) for posting out of me... This week has been crazy CRAZY freakin' crazy in just about every which way imaginable.  And when I did have a few minutes I always had something else to do than blog (or was just damned tired).

Anyway - I am officially finished with Focus T25 Alpha and Beta phase!  I hope to get Nick to get some pics of me in the same outfit as when I started, but for now here are my total results.

Weight:  -4.4 lbs
Chest:   -2"
Waist:   -1"
Arm:   +.5"
Thigh:   -.5"
Body Fat:   -2.7%

So, for not trying to lose weight, I sure did and I lost a nice chunk of body fat in these 10 weeks!  I also lost some inches, but mostly I feel stronger and my running has gotten a boost!  I truly believe I have gained greater power and agility due to the types of exercises (pylometric based) in the workouts.

I'd say this program is very effective.  If someone were in need of more weight and body composition change than I was at the start, I'm certain that they'd see results.  Especially if they followed the nutrition plan to the letter and/or utilized MyFitnessPal to calculate an appropriate deficit in calories.

I have some great things to say about this program and some not so great.  Many more great things, though, I'm happy to say.  I'll do a full review of Beta phase as well as the program in its entirety when I can.

Edited to add this pic:

Left:  Night before starting Focus T25.  Right:  Morning after finishing.  You can see that I lost fat in my midsection and have more ab definition that before (than I've ever had, actually!).  Also - check those arms!  This is a great strength builder as much as fat blaster!

I'm satisfied with my results!  Thank you Shaun T!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Workout Schedule for the week of 9/9-9/15/2013

This is the FINAL week of my T25 Challenge!  Woohoo!  It's been fun, it's been work, and there have been good days and bad days and workouts I've liked and workouts I've loathed.  I've lost and gained in the right places and I feel (mostly) great - aside from the carb craving thing.  I'm sitting here with a bowl of oatmeal right now so it's all good at the moment.

This morning kicked off with Rip'T Circuit.  It went great!  Yes, there's that whole uneven rep and rushing thing, but I brought my all to the table and burned some calories and had some fun.

Here's how the week looks right now:
Monday: Rip'T Circuit - FINISHED!
Tuesday:  5.5 mile easy run, Core Cardio
Wednesday:  10x400s, Rip'T Circuit
Thursday:  4 mile easy run, Dynamic Core, Gym time
Friday:  Rip'T Circuit, Core Speed
Saturday: REST - last STATurday!!  Final T25 results!
Sunday:  9 mile long run, Stretch

I hope everyone has a great week!  Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Another Weekly Review - It's Game Day!

I just got back from my "long" (I find it hard to consider 8 miles very long anymore) run through the North Shore and the Point.  You can tell it is game day here in Pittsburgh.  I was out and about around 7 am and people were already parking, grilling, drinking, yelling, acting crazy, driving bad, and walking 4-5 wide across bridges and trails that made me have to push my way through.  haha.

Speaking of the Steelers, I unfortunately don't have high hopes for this season.  I think as a team they need to rebuild a bit, take a step back, reevaluate strategies, gain new leadership in the form of younger and stronger players (I love Troy Polamalu as much as the next Pittsburgher, but fact of the matter is he is injured more than playing anymore and we need to get another person trained up to his caliber so we're not relying on him as much as we tend to), and move forward from there.  I'm really pulling for them to prove me wrong on this because I'd love another championship season, of course, but right now I'm just not optimistic.  I'll still have fun watching the games, though!

Enough about my football fascination.  Here's what I've done since Monday!

Tuesday:  It was a gorgeous morning in the low 60s with very little humidity.  My calves were still wicked tight!  This has to be the longest I've been sore post any race I've ever done!  I was able to run through it just fine and they did loosen up during the run, but its still just odd to me.  The best thing about this run was the obvious return of leaves crunching under my feet.  Not a ton, but they are there.  Fall is coming.  :)  After that great run, I did Dynamic Core.  I really put my all into it - especially that pyramid stuff at the end.  I owned that.

Wednesday:  45 minute tempo run.  Calves weren't an issue, thank goodness.  This run was not great.  I nailed my tempo, but I really had to fight both mentally and physically during several parts of the run.  Not kidding, this felt harder than the Steelers 5K.  I just wasn't feeling wonderful this morning.  The T25 workout of the day was Core Cardio.  I've determined that I cannot stand the dark haired "former ballet dancer with perfect form" chick.  I will not let her beat me during sprints, I will always lift heavier than her, and I will always be going harder than her.  She just always has some smarmy look on her face that drives me nuts.  So, it's on, lady.  Bring on the high knees and V-ups.  Oh, the workout went just fine on this particular morning.  I think I was just pissy post craptastic tempo run and when I saw her and that look of hers, I just wanted to kick the monitor.  lol

Thursday:  Nice and cool this morning.  Fall is most definitely making its imminent arrival known.  I was thankful to have a great easy run after Wednesday's tough workouts.  Only bad thing was the realization that my old original Adrenalines are pretty much dead and I really shouldn't wear them anymore.  500 miles will do that to a shoe.  These shoes will be kept and treasured though, don't you worry.  After the run I did Dynamic Core for the second time this week (hey, I didn't make the schedule).  It was ok.  I rocked that pyramid crap again and my abs were feeling it the rest of the day.

I tried a new approach at the gym after some reading that I've done.  I wanted to try warming up on the bike to get my heart rate up and then vertical load my weights routine.  I did get it accomplished for the most part - I had wait for a couple of machines which screwed up my heart rate in a couple places.  I'm not sure that I like it any better than what I normally do (horizontal load), but I definitely did burn more calories, and I felt like the time went by faster... even though I was there the same amount of time as usual - plus an additional 5 minutes if you count the quick warmup I did on the bike.  I also didn't feel the kind of fatigue during the last sets like I typically do.  I'll give it another go next week if I can and see what happens.

Friday:  Double T25 day!  Today's schedule called for Core Speed followed by Upper Focus.  I realized after the fact that this is actually the very last time Upper Focus is called for during Beta phase.  That sucks because it's a decent workout, but oh well.  Core Speed went really well.  Like I said before, I was going to go all out this time since I wasn't doing it the day before a race.  I burned 25% more calories this time!  The bad news?  During one of the squat thrust to burpee combo things, I really crunched what I'm guessing is a chunk of connective tissue and/or nerves in my right hip flexor area.  Oh my ouch.  I even screamed "OUCH!" when I did it.  I was able to continue with the workout ok.  Then later on, I hit the corner of my mat wrong while doing another burpee and took a huge chunk out of my pinky finger.  Right on the joint, of course, just so it hurts extra bad.  Only I do this kind of crap on seemingly simple stuff, I swear.  Anyway, I completed the workout, felt badass, and burned a load of calories in only 25 minutes.  What could be bad about that?

Upper Focus went ok too.  I just find it - like a few of the other T25 workouts - very hurried... Shaun is already on to the next thing, and by the time you pick your weights up you've missed a chunk of the reps on one side.  It's annoying.  I also don't fully understand doing ab work during an upper body workout that's already short on time.  Hip ups and V Holds just don't fit... I'm sorry, but they don't.  The focus should just be on chest, back, bis, tris, and shoulders!  Arms and chest, Shaun, arms and chest!

Saturday:  Rest.  Kinda.  I did walk around a bunch.  But I kept it low key.  We did eat out... but I did my best with some grilled chicken and shrimp and pineapple salsa with broccoli.  Although I do have a confession:  I had my first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season.  It was honestly... underwhelming, though, I am certain it will not be the last.  It still ticks me off they haven't found a way to make these things totally skinny yet.  So, tall, iced, nonfat, no whip it is.  170 calories that way.  Could be worse, I guess.

Sunday:  Now this... this was a fantastic run - dodging football fans and all.  This was one of those runs where you really want and really wish you could go longer because you feel that good.  I went just a little over my planned 8 miles, but I was a good girl and stopped and walked the rest of the way back home.  Sigh.

What my poor finger looks like 2 days after my epic burpee fail.  Also - my trusty Amphipod (we were talking about handheld bottles in a group I'm in on Facebook and I wanted to take a pic of it).  I'm still feeling good using my 1/2 and 1/2 concoction of water and Lemon Lime Gatorade.  How about that new bright green tank?  It's a Nike Dri-fit tank that I picked up for $1.97 at JCP.  I got a pink one too.  Can't pass up deals like that!


I'm still carb craving like mad.  There are days (well, mostly nights, actually) where I just want to put my face in a cake with a thick layer of icing.  Right now my "diet" is around 40/30/30 to 45/30/25.  It is honestly making me bitchy as hell.  Yes, I'm seeing benefits in the form of muscular strength and building and first thing in the morning I'm usually raring to go, but my energy level in the later parts of the day (say, after 2pm or so) is soooo low.  I used to be able to stay up for a few hours after the kids went to bed and get some things done or just play around on Facebook or Warcraft or Assassin's Creed but lately I'm ready for bed after they're all settled in.  In fact, there are many times where my middle kid is up later than me.  I don't even want to sit in front of my computer, I just want to put PJs on, get a cup of tea or something to munch on and watch some trashy TV until I fall asleep.  After I'm done with the T25 challenge I plan on sneaking in some more carbs here and there, especially as my training gets more intense for my upcoming races.  There's gotta be a happy medium somewhere, I just have to find it.  :)  Even my husband has made the statement "god, I can't wait until you get back on the carbs".  Oops. 

So, this week went pretty well despite a few hiccups.  I ran 24.17 miles... some of them hard, some of them super easy.  I tried out a new gym routine and am still deciding if I like it or not, so I'll try it again.  I went all out on my T25 - messed up my hip and my finger, and made the ultimate decision to not move forward and buy the Gamma DVDs.  I have some thoughts and plans brewing regarding what happens after these next couple of races, but first I have to get to the start and through the finish of those!  I'm looking very forward to the Great Race.  I don't know why, but I'm totally unphased by the half I'm signed up for and the 10 miler.   I just have a total "I don't give a crap" attitude about both of those right now.  We'll see how I feel a couple more weeks down the road.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

STATurday! Week 4 of Beta Phase!

This is the next to last week of my STATurday updates!  This concludes week 4 of Focus T25 Beta Phase which means that starting Monday will be my final days of this journey with Shaun T and the Shauntourage.  The time has just flown by, but I am thankful to have stuck with it and I've seen quite the benefit.  I'll be sure to do a full review of the program once it is officially done.

Since Beta Week 3:
Weight:  -.4 lbs
Chest:   no change
Waist:   no change
Arm:   no change
Thigh:   -.25"
Body Fat:   +.6%

Since the beginning of my Focus T25 Challenge:
Weight:   -7.5 lbs
Chest:   -2"
Waist:   -1"
Arm:   +.5"
Thigh:   -.75"
Body Fat:   -3.9%

I'm liking where I'm at right now.  I definitely feel stronger than ever.

I've made the final decision - after annoying Nick to no end with my yapping about pros and cons and training plans and life - to stick with my first instinct and NOT buy Gamma.  I have a few good reasons I believe.  Even though a part of me says "quitter" and is curious as to what another 4 weeks of Shaun's coaching would do, I have to look at the situation from a more "global" perspective and remember that a) I've always said my running came first since that is my main interest and where my goals lie. Not to mention I have races already scheduled and paid for through the beginning of 2014.  b) because of that, I need to keep my FOCUS where it needs to be and stay injury free.  I've seen previews of the the Gamma workouts (the Speed 3.0, especially) on YouTube and elsewhere and it looks insane - crazy amounts of burpees and jumping around.  Doing that kind of thing does not jive well for me with running more and staying ouchie free.  Others may have better luck with this - I do not.  I know I've said this before, but I am blonde and clumsy.  During yesterday's Core Speed session, I really screwed myself up on a burpee.  Seriously - I took a huge chunk out of my finger and really pinched some nerve/soft tissue in my hip flexor area.  Not during the same burpee, but different ones in the same workout.  Only I could accomplish something like that, I swear.  Hey, when I go all out on my workouts, I go all out.  This does have its pros and cons... lol  But it was pretty much the push I needed to say "Sorry Shaun, I have to get off the train at the next station and stop when the Beta Phase does".

Also, there's the cost factor:  even with only buying the DVDs for Gamma, not the deluxe pack or whatever else, with shipping and tax it comes to over 71 bucks.  I can't see spending that much on the 3 workouts I may or may not like and 1 that I already know I'm not going to like.  Plus, when looking at the 2 written schedules for Gamma phase, one of them includes Total Body Circuit from Alpha.  I've made it quite known that I absolutely hate that workout.  I could put 71 dollars toward a few more months of my gym membership or use it for a new weight set for home.  You know, things that I know I could get better use out of.

So after this last week of Beta coming up, I will have 2 weeks before my main race for the fall - The Great Race 10K.  I can at least have 1 week where I run for an extra day.  I will still crosstrain and use the T25 workouts from Beta and Alpha phase in there, but I just don't see the benefit for me in starting a new program.  It will also be nice to have a little more flexibility in that if I'm really freaking tired/sore after a speedwork day I can pick and choose the workout that I feel will work best for me that day instead of being tied down to the scheduled plan.  I want to make my own plan, dammit!  lol  I do like many of the workouts between the 2 phases and I could see quite a few options of a "hybrid" type plan utilizing them.  We'll see what I can come up with.  I also have a P90X plan for later in the year before starting marathon training.  Again, let's just see where these next couple of weeks go.

Well gee, I really just meant to come on and update my STATs, and here I am going off on a tangent about Gamma and training and my clumsy self.  haha.  Oh well.  I'm off to enjoy my rest day.  Walking around Kennywood all day.  Because that's resting, right?  If I add some Potato Patch in there will it make a difference?  ;-)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's almost that time - Pumpkin everything!

I am craving fall foods like crazy.  I've said this before.  And I love all the fall foods too, not just the pumpkin (hello fresh pick your own apples!!  Squash!) - but I admit that I am one of those dorks that will eat just about anything that contains pumpkin because I love it.  Oh, and I like the cutesy popular vendors baked goods and drinks (ahem), but I make better stuff at home.  I'm known to make a better pumpkin pie than my mother (and mine is much healthier), my pumpkin soups and chilis rock, and my husband made a pumpkin coffee the other day that was delicious.

The kids are just itching to go to our 2 favorite local farms (Soergel's and Triple B Farms) to pick apples and pumpkins and go on hayrides.  We have a couple of weeks to go before the official fall festivals start, but you know kids - they think "we're in school! so it must be fall!".  My daughter Victoria is already getting down to the nitty gritty of the exact details of Halloween costumes.  Gotta love that excitement.  :)

Anyway, I found a pumpkin protein shake recipe from Muscle & Fitness Hers.  I made it the other day and it was divine.  Completely kicked my rear into the "let's go fall" spirit.  I adapted it a bit for what ingredients I had (and personal taste, of course).

Pumpkin Protein Shake

3/4 cup canned pumpkin (which is EVERYWHERE already and if I can give anyone a tip, it is wicked cheap at Aldi)
1 cup almond milk - I used Unsweetened Vanilla
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 Tablespoon sugar free Jell-o Cheesecake Instant Pudding mix - just the dry powder, don't actually make the pudding.  And, if you're gonna get all prissy over Jell-o or whatever, just modify the recipe for yourself or don't make it.
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Throw it all in a blender and mix it up.

Now, I will tell you that this stuff was very thick - so if you'd prefer runnier shake, you could always up the milk, add water, whatever you need to do.  It was delicious.  Next time I'd use a little more spices for myself, just like I do with my pumpkin pies (I like it spicy, what can I say).  I made one of these using the other half of the can of pumpkin for Nick and with his I added a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and I thought his was more to my liking.

According to MyFitnessPal, my recipe comes out to:
250 calories
34 g carbs
5 g fat
24 g protein
6 g fiber

Here's the link to the original recipe: Muscle & Fitness Hers Pumpkin Shake

Monday, September 2, 2013

Workout Schedule Week of 9/2-9/8/2013

Happy Labor Day, first of all!  Again, nothing exciting happening around here, but I hope you're all enjoying the day with your friends and families.

Over the course of the afternoon yesterday, my calves started really cramping up!  Could DOMS really come on that late after a race?  I mean, I felt fine during and after the race, and during my run yesterday.  It just came out of nowhere!  I foam rolled them out and they felt a bit better.  They are still sore now, but not nearly as bad.  I'll be rolling them out again later since that seems to help.  weird!!

That said, I did get out of bed this morning and get Rip'T Circuit done.  It felt great, to be honest. My soreness didn't seem to affect me much.

That reminds me... I'm still really on the fence about T25 Gamma phase.  Part of me has really been looking forward to the cutback and "break" from the additional program and being able to add back my 5th day of running.  But... the other part of me tells me that I've come this far, and I am feeling great and am stronger (and faster!) since beginning this, so am I cheating myself to "quit" now?  I don't know... I'm really torn on it.  I'm a bit intimidated by the Gamma schedule.  I've heard that Speed 3.0 is the hardest workout ever and in the Strength schedule you have to dig Total Body Circuit (which you all know I don't like) out again to add the rotation.  I've also been hearing that it is burpee city.  Ugh.  I think I'm going to force myself to make a decision by the end of this week.  I just want to commit to something and stop going back and forth with it.

Speaking of this week - here's my plan for my workouts!

Monday: Rip'T Circuit - done!
Tuesday:  5 mile easy run, Dynamic Core
Wednesday: 45 minute tempo run, Core Cardio
Thursday:  5 mile easy run, Dynamic Core, Gym weights
Friday:  Core Speed, Upper Focus
Saturday:  REST
Sunday:  8 mile long run

27 days until my "goal" Fall race!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Farewell, August! Hello, September! Week in Review.

Can you believe it is September already?  Wow.  I'm glad for the cooler temperatures and pretty scenery ahead, but I still have a smidgen of sadness thinking about how fast a year goes and the kids getting older, and I'm getting older... and ok, I'm getting all sentimental now.  I'll stop.

Anyway, I'm having a cup of coffee out of my favorite autumn leaves mug and reflecting on the last week in the life with regards to my training.  It's a lazy Labor Day weekend around here - the weather is kind of icky and we really have no plans to go anywhere and do anything special.  We might head down to Ribfest or have a little cookout, but that's all.

Tuesday:  I ran a little over my 4.5 planned miles, but not much.  The weather was back to hot and humid again, which... just yuck.  Sometimes that can make me feel like total crap through a run.  This one wasn't too bad, but it wasn't all woohoo wonderful, either.  After the run I got the kids out to school and then did Upper Focus.  I used my heavy weights through the whole workout again and it felt great.  My arms were like jello at the end.  I love that.

Wednesday:  When I woke up it was raining, hot (74 degrees), humid, and the schedule called for speedwork.  Nope, I was not having that.  So, after hitting the snooze button once (bad me), I got up and did Speed 2.0.  That was the kick in the rear I needed to go have an awesome day.  Once the kids were safely in school, I headed to the gym and got my speedwork done on the treadmill.  I know it's not the best thing, and that it is kind of cheating to do, but I didn't want to sprint in the rain and chance doing something stupid.  I'm blonde and clumsy and would rather watch the rain outside as I do the hamster on a wheel thing.  BUT - I got in about a mile warmup, all 9 of my 400s, and a cooldown.  5.27 miles in all and I felt wonderful.  Probably the easiest speedwork day I've ever had.

Thursday:  Another sticky humid run.  My legs felt a bit tight, especially at the start.  I chalked it up to the 400s the day before.  By the end of the run I felt pretty good.  Post run I did Rip'T Circuit, which I felt really strong during.  I really think I'm enjoying not wussing out and using the heavier weights even if I have to focus harder to get through the workout.  I'm burning more calories and feeling better in general.  I headed to the gym and did my full routine there as well.  I did up some weight here too.  I was a little leery of doing that a couple of days before a race (fearing DOMS), but I didn't have much of an issue with it at all, so I must have made the right call.  It was a successful Beast Mode Day!!  :)

Friday:  I started off with Dynamic Core, which was great.  For some reason, my HRM said I burned less calories this time around, so I'll make a conscious effort to push myself a bit more next time.  Granted, I was going easy on any jumping movements since I knew I had a 5K the next morning.  Usually, I would take the day off before a race, so I was nervous sticking with the T25 plan, but I did it anyway.  After Dynamic Core, I did Core Speed (which I explained in detail in Monday's post).  Core Speed is crazy!!  It's on another level, but follows the same format as Speed 2.0.  The moves are more difficult and much quicker and boy does Shaun love his burpees (and one armed burpees at that!!).  I liked the workout, though not as much as 2.0, but enough that I will continue with my plan of finishing Beta phase with it.  I fully admit to modifying a lot of the burpees with Tania - again, because I didn't want to do something stupid and mess myself up before my Saturday race.  Next time I'll go all out and see what happens, but I burned 207 calories in the 25 minutes of this workout using the modifications for the burpees.

Friday evening we went and hung around Ribfest and all the happenings on the North Shore a bit.
The kids love the geese.  I personally find them (and what they leave behind) annoying, but the kids think they're great.  lol

Saturday: Gatorade/Steelers 5K!  I PR'ed!  22:04!  Recap here.

Sunday:  I really felt great and like I could have ran a long one today, but I wanted to stick with the plan.  I ran easy for 30 minutes (and 4 seconds, but who's counting) and covered a little over 3.5 miles.  My legs felt a little tired, but they always seem to the first couple of miles of a run anyway.  This was a very nice run.  I did T25 Stretch as planned when I got back.

It was a great week!  It had some ups and downs with the weather, having to use the treadmill for intervals, and tired legs.  Then again, it had some great ups - great Beta workouts, and hello new shiny 5K PR!  In total, this week I ran 20.73 miles.  Pretty good for a cutback race week for me.  My T25 workouts were great, and I'm looking forward to giving Core Speed my full attention next time.  I'm also feeling awesome about my progress with the lifting.  I'm starting make huge strides and gain a lot of strength, which I love.

Nutritionally, I've been doing pretty well.  I'm starting to crave fall foods (pumpkin spice everything, all those hearty stews and warm comfort foods.  And carbs... I want all the carbs) and if I'm being totally honest I'm really lusting after every beer I see and smell.  Which is a lot, considering the fact that I live near 2 major sports stadiums.  So, I'm starting to struggle, but I'm strong and I'll make it these last 2 weeks of the T25 challenge at least.  :)  I have incorporated some new recipes this week to keep things interesting.  I'll share one or three later in the week.

The month of August flew by!  I ran 105.45 miles - so I'm back over my 100 miles per month goal for the year after having a sluggish July.  I can say with certainty that Focus T25 has helped me more than hurt me.  I'm starting to wonder if I'm just better off being a 4 day per week runner as opposed to 5 and keeping with the crosstraining?  I have never felt stronger and most little nags that pop up are gone in no time.  I don't know... only time and trial and error will tell, I guess.

Gatorade/Steelers 5K 2013 Recap

I initially chose this race for a couple of reasons:

1) It was cheap.  I know that makes me sound terrible, but race fees are pricey and paying $40+ for a short race doesn't make me feel fuzzy inside.  This was around 20 bucks.  Kids were 15.  I like that.
2) It's nearby.  Walking distance nearby.  Score!
3) I love the Steelers.
4) The money goes to a good cause.

I had mixed emotions going into it.... I really haven't been training for a 5K specifically.  I mean, I've been so focused on building mileage and strength and running longer that I honestly couldn't tell you (other than speedwork) just HOW to train for a good 5K.  I wanted to run one because it has been nearly a year since my last one, and since Hal Higdon lists them as part of his training plans, which I'm following.  He hasn't steered me wrong before, I'm not about to question him now!

I kinda knew I'd PR because a year ago my 5K time at the Great Race was 26:05 and I've beaten that in every race I've done since then as well as most of my speed training runs.  That has since turned into an "easy" run for me.  Amazing what time and training can do, huh?  The thing is, I didn't know what kind of time to shoot for.  I definitely wanted to come in under 25 minutes, but a secret part of me really wanted to try for 23 minutes and change.  McMillan Running was giving me a prediction of 23:34 based on my previous race times and training paces.  I could live with that.

Packet pickup Friday afternoon was pretty easy and painless.  I was lucky enough to get in the short L-O line (not sure why the others were so long) and I was in and out of Heinz Field Gate C in no time.

I do have to gripe about one thing:  the shirt.  Oh my, oh my.  For something with a Nike logo on it, this is one of the ugliest and poorest quality race shirts I've ever seen.  And it's not even tech material OR a women's cut.  Boo!  Yes, I'm one of those people who "does it for the shirt" and I appreciate a good quality, technical shirt that I can make good use out of in the future.  So, for something like this to come out of something with the Steelers brand attached to it was disappointing.

Moving on...

I was also unsure how to fuel for a 5K the day before.  I mean, it's only 3 miles and change, right?  It's not like you need a carb load pasta feast or anything...  Even before long runs lately I've only had a banana beforehand and have been fine.  So, I just stuck with my normal meal plan but had my new trusty oatmeal/PB2/Chia seed bedtime snack.  I drank lots of water all day too... and that wasn't really hard because it was 90 degrees and nasty outside.

A good thing about the race being so close to home was the fact that I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn the morning of.  In fact, I actually got to sleep in longer than I do for most mornings.  I got up around 6:50.  Yep, that's "sleeping in" in my world!  I got up, did my STATs, and started getting my things together.  Before we left, I had a piece of toast with 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter on it.  I was a little hungry, but I don't like a whole lot in my belly before a hard running effort.  But, I knew I still had about an hour or so to go and I didn't want to be hungry for the race.

I also made some wardrobe adjustments since it was in the low 70s and very humid.  I was planning on wearing knee high yellow compression socks, but those things make my legs so darn hot that I just wasn't having it today.  I also went with the singlet instead of the shirt.

We got to Heinz Field around 7:50.  This proved to be a good thing because it was packed.  People were still registering, the lots were almost full, it was crazy.  They said this was a record turnout - somewhere around 3800 runners?  We wandered around the stadium a bit.  I was impressed with the fact that they already had tables of water and Gatorade set out.  I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and had a few swigs of it.  I couldn't finish it - so I just tossed it.  Victoria and I stopped for a potty break - the line wasn't too long, thankfully.  Then, we headed over to where the start line was near the Science Center.  They were making announcements about the corrals they were setting up.  I found the 20-24 minute finish sign and hung around there for a bit.  I did a little bit of warming up and stretching.  People started crowding into the corrals so I said goodbye to the family and went to find a good spot.  As I was looking around I was noticing a lot of people who must not be aware that the corrals were separated.  I took this into consideration as I tried to put myself near the front half of the corral.

The starting line.

The race started after some former and current Steelers pep talks and announcements and Ryan Clark was given the honor of firing the starting gun.  I got a good laugh out of the fact that he looked like he was afraid of it and flinched.  Nick had thought the same thing and got a good pic of him.

Flincher!

The start was nuts... as are most races, but this one especially irritated me because they had corrals that people obviously ignored.  There were people in front of me going considerably slower than a 20-24 minute finish pace.  There were even a group of girls STANDING right before the starting line giggling and saying to everyone dodging around them "we didn't know we were in the middle of the fast group, we'll just wait for ours to catch up".  Seriously?  I've never done so much dodging around, slowing down, and having to make up time like I did in this race - especially the first half.  It didn't make for an easy or comfortable time.  I got kicked really hard at one point, too.  That sucked.

Just after the start.  In case you can't figure it out, I'm the girl in the yellow headband.  2 awesome things about this pic - 1) Check out that muscle tone.  Thank you weight lifting and Focus T25.  2) Steely McBeam is in the upper right.

It took until probably around PNC Park to get into a good rhythm and decent pace.  I was just so irritated by the people and the crowding.  I had to check my attitude several times during this race because I kept thinking of all the negatives and not focusing on the positives.  I don't know what was up with me because I usually don't have a problem with that kind of thing during a race, but today I did.

I will say that I think I did a kick ass job of running tangents when I had the ability.  Like I've said previously, I know this area very well, so that helped a lot.  This was actually the first race EVER where my watch stats and official stats were nearly identical - distance was right on, time was 1 second off.

I kept tabs on my pace frequently but instead of freaking out over going too fast or slow, I was more focused on how I felt.  My pace was a little faster than I intended, but I felt good.  I felt really strong - nothing aching, nothing twinging.  I felt a little humidity "blah", but that's really all.  My main problem during this race was mental.

There seemed to be frequent bottlenecks during the first half.  Just when I thought I'd be breaking free a bit of the crowd, I'd hit another wall and have to slow way down.  Then when I fought my way around the herd, I'd feel like I had to speed up to make up the time.  That just made me so mad.  I fully admit that at one point I said "You've gotta be fucking kidding me!" after spending way too much time behind a group of people, obviously running together and talking, and not responding to my repeated "excuse me" requests.  I had to do a sideways push through with my shoulder to break through.  Probably not the classiest move on my part, but at least I admit to it.

The worst part was the turnaround.  It was like a huge clog in the drain.  So many people that I practically had to slow to a shuffle/jog/wog/walk thing around the road cone and then continue my fight through the crowd again.  This time it was a little difficult to accelerate again because we were going back up the small hill we just came down.  Thankfully, the crowd finally seemed to thin for good after this and I was able to stay sped up.

The greatest sight in the world was Heinz Field coming closer and closer.  At this point, I kind of lost track of my time, didn't care about my pace (I remember glancing at my watch at one point and seeing 6 as the first number and thinking "wow!"), and I just wanted to be done.  I pushed as hard as I could - did the whole target someone in front of you and reel them in to pass thing (lots of little kids, a few really struggling - which, as a mom tugs at my heart and makes me feel like I should be helping them instead of ditching them).  When we turned and headed down the chute and into the stadium it was just awesome.  I heard the DVE chick saying something, and looked at the clock.  I was so delirious I couldn't process what the clock said, though... lol  I think it was 24 minutes and change and I was really pissed because I thought I was going to have a crappy time.  I dug that bit deeper and blew across the finish line.  

When I stopped my watch and saw my time I was in disbelief.  It took until the official results were posted that I believed it.

I drank a few little cups of water and had a banana, an oatmeal raisin cookie, and some ice cream.  Not a bad breakfast... haha.  I will say this was some of the most well organized, best post-race food lines and offerings I've seen.  Great work, Heinz Field.

I hooked back up with Nick and the kids and after they got some snacks too, we headed down to the field for the kids fun run.  This was Garrett's first race!

Standing in the end zone - Go Steelers!

The kids races were really cute.  They separated them by age and they all ran across the end zone with kids of the same age.  All the kids did great.  Garrett was a little confused as to what to do at first, but he got it.  The two year old group was so adorable.  They all got a little ribbon for participating.

After the kids race, we stuck around for the raffle and awards.  They were giving out Steelers tickets, after all.  We didn't win anything, but it was worth a try.

I finished the 5K in 22:04, over 4 minutes faster than my last 5K almost a year ago and quite a bit faster than my goal time.  I don't know how I did that, really.  Like I said, I felt very strong.  I guess some days I'm just capable of more than I want to believe.  I do wonder what would have happened had I been able to put out a consistent effort and didn't get caught up in so many roadblocks along the course.  Then again, maybe there would be other factors that would effect it.  It's easy to sit around and say "What if?", but I keep reminding myself that I should just be really proud of this accomplishment.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought a few years and many pounds ago that I'd be able complete a 5K, let alone race one in less than 25 minutes.  I'm just kind of dumbstruck.

Oh, and one last thing:
GO STEELERS!!!