Monday, July 28, 2014

MCM Training Week 5

This was an up and down week.  From rocking humidity to counteroffer negotiations to power struggles in different areas, it was hard to stay focused and positive.  But somehow I did.  It's weeks like this that I will draw on during times I'm feeling low.  I can get through a lot of crap.  Giving up isn't an option.

My Tuesday run was a short 3 miles, with the middle mile at half marathon pace.  When I got up and out during the 6 am hour it was already in the 70s and humid.  It wasn't a fantastic feeling run at all... I felt like I was panting like a dog at times, but I accomplished my goal.  At home I did my flexibility workout, which has really grown on me, especially the stretches involving the stability ball.  I've always been a little wishy washy about using the ball for stretching, but I'm a believer now.

I wrote about my Wednesday recovery run in the previous post.  It was hot and humid again, but I kept my head on straight to prevent getting into a negative headspace.

Thursday I ran 3 miles at a general aerobic pace.  During this run, I started having nagging pains in my shin/calf.  I couldn't tell if it was bone or muscle but it felt like my entire inner lower right leg was on fire.  I got through the run but it wasn't great.  I was terrified of being injured and frantically wrapped and iced the leg.  I was thankful to have a rest day on Friday.

After analyzing up one side and down the other what the heck could be going on, I really felt like my shoes were the issue.  For the past couple of runs I'd worn my Adrenalines with around 500 miles on them and my Nike Lunarglides with over 300 miles on them.  I've been putting off getting new ones for who knows why and I believe that this little twinge was trying to tell me that the time is now.  So, I went and picked up a couple pairs of new shoes.

I usually don't go all girly pink crazy, but these are LOUD.  I like loud.

On Saturday I set out to do my easy 6 miles after making my husband a promise that if I was in any kind of pain I'd stop and either call for a pickup or walk home if I could.  I wore new shoes and went out nice and slow. The first couple of strides felt weird, but then after that I went on to have a fantastic and pain free run.  Thank goodness.  Hopefully getting some decent shoes on my feet were just what needed to happen.

Sunday I ran my strongest and longest run in a while.  In fact, this may have been my best 12 miler ever.  I started off nice and slow the first mile again, just to stay cautious about the leg.  It felt fine, so I picked it up a little and was able to hold a nice steady pace for the next 8 miles!  That's so rare for me and I just loved it!  I felt amazing, wasn't over fatigued EVER during the entire run, and really enjoyed myself (other than the GI issues that picked up through the second half but didn't slow me down).  This run was supposed to have the last 3 miles picked up in pace, but since my leg was bothering me I was honestly planning to just run a straight 12 and not chancing it.  However, I felt so great that I just went ahead and picked up the pace.  I ran negative splits the last 3 miles and didn't feel bad at all.  I finished the run feeling strong and feeling like I could have gone longer.  Yeah!  The bizarre thing about this run was that I completely FORGOT to have my mile 10 GU!  On runs of 12+ miles I usually have 1 at mile 5 and 1 at mile 10.  Well after this run I realized that I never had the one at mile 10!  I don't know how to feel about it.  I mean, I finished the run nice and strong and never bonked.  But I don't want to set a trend of neglecting to fuel if I do need it.  So, like I said... I don't know what to think.  It is what it is.

After my long run I spent several hours in the car in that lovely torrential pouring rain going to visit my mother in law.  I wore my compression socks and that helped a lot.  I spent a bunch of time being goofy with the boys.

We're nuts and I love it.

I got in all my strength workouts this week, but I did miss one core session.  I'm not beating myself up about it.  In the scope of things 1 core workout isn't going to make or break MCM.

This coming week is a lighter recovery week and from there my schedule is downright scary/exciting.  This will make the last week in the first mesocycle before moving on to slightly more difficult things.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Turning Bad into Something Good

As much as we want them to, good runs just don't happen constantly.  Now and then, even sometimes for what seems like long period of time bad runs will sneak in there and make you as yourself "Why am I doing this??".  It could be because of lack of sleep or general fatigue, poor nutrition or hydration (hangover runs are never wonderful), or... they could just simply be.

Regardless of why a run happens to be crappy, whether it's the entire run or even just a portion of it, you gotta have that something inside you that all of us crazy runners seem to have that keeps you from giving up for good.

Lately, my toughest runs have been my recovery runs.  I had a 6 mile recovery pace run this morning that wasn't exactly a breeze.  For one, it had just stopped raining and it was 72 degrees and felt like a million percent humidity.  At 6 am.  No matter what kind of run I was heading out for this morning it was going to be an extra challenge just due to that.  I know I said I wasn't going to excessively bitch about the hot weather this summer, but honestly it is starting to get to me.

I'm also really stressed right now.  Mainly over this negotiation of the purchase of our (God willing) new house.  I'm drowning in thoughts of work needing done, landscaping, who is going where, where did all the papers go, counteroffers, etc.  It is incredibly overwhelming.  Typically, I like to run out my frustrations, but when I run something out it's fast.  Not a recovery run that's supposed to be run around 10:15 per mile.

Something crazy about me and recovery runs is that they always hurt.  Now, I'm not talking I'm in ridiculous amounts of crippling pain, but I just notice things that bother me.  At one point this morning I swear everything from my rear end to my toe was working against me.  It just didn't feel right.  But, the odd thing is that after these runs all these little annoyances go away.  And then I feel fantastic, like I do sitting here right now, 4 hours after this morning's suckfest.  There must be something magical about the recovery run!

So, while I was trudging along the trail this morning I was thinking about how to turn these runs into something to look forward to as opposed to the "omg these Wednesday runs are the pit of my week".  I ended up thinking of a short list of things that make my recovery runs great.

1. It gives the body a break - even if it doesn't immediately feel that way.  By moving at a gentler pace, you give your muscles a better chance to repair themselves from a previous day's work.  If you run too hard 2 days in a row, you might just be setting yourself up for a trip down injury road.  For me, very little is worth being out for months at a time again.

2.  You have a great opportunity to focus on your form.  I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes when I'm running and my mind is in another dimension I'm not exactly running down the Chi Running list of perfect running form.  I'll notice if I'm starting to feel bad that my form is off, I'll correct it and then move along.  But during recovery runs, given the fact that they are designed to be slow and relaxed, you can focus on footfall, cadence, stride, and posture more clearly.  At least I can, so I'm taking this as a positive.  I figure that if I get really good at perfecting my form during these increasing in distance slow miles, that it will transfer to my other runs.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.

3. Admiring your surroundings!  Again, this might be a "me" thing, but when I'm zooming along at a faster pace or focused on a specific time/distance goal I tend to neglect just looking around me and seeing all the wonderful things that surround me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm always in safety mode (only use 1 earbud, volume low, hyperaware of creepy looking people, bad drivers, etc), but I don't always appreciate things.  Like the baby geese I've practically been watching grow up since the Spring.  The awesome honeysuckle/other floral smells.  Cardinals and finches that sometimes seem to graze me as the zip by.  How awesome the skyline looks at sunrise when the light reflects off of it.  Hearing/watching the rowing teams on the river.  When you're not going crazy about running while running you can really just absorb so much cool stuff around you.

4.  It makes your faster runs more gratifying.  When you go from one extreme to the other you can really enjoy each of them for their purpose.  And they DO each have a purpose!

5. Your body is learning to be perfectly fine running for longer periods of time.  Sure, I can run 6 miles in much less time than I did this morning.  But that's not really helping my bones (some parts newly formed, too!) to be able to cope with carting me and all my stuff I think I need around for hours and hours at a time.  Sure, I have a long run once a week, but just like with form, the more I can practice being on my feet the stronger I'll be.  I truly believe all those weeks of low heart rate running helped with this as well and I'm glad I stuck with it.

I know that recovery runs have more benefits, but these are what came to my mind today as I was soaked in sweat and plodding along trying to hold back from just "getting it done".  Recovery runs can be and WILL be awesome!

Monday, July 21, 2014

MCM Training Week 4

This has been another busy week here!  I think that's what's making it feel like time is flying for me.  I barely have time to sit and breathe and think.  A good and bad thing, I guess.

First off - my middle kid came home from camp!!

This was the best group pic we were able to get... Kids. lol

He had a great time, which I was happy to hear.  However, I'm a little taken aback by the wonderful language and anatomy lessons he learned.  From my understanding he was hanging out with the older kids a lot because the other boys his age were "crying like babies".  So instead Vincent really enjoyed his time in "Arts and f*&*ing crafts".  *gasp*  Oh my.

No sooner did he come back but we had a couple of days to enjoy time as a family before Victoria left on Saturday.

She really really likes Monster High.

So, now I have another to miss.  Strangely enough, I'm not as torn up with Victoria as I was with Vince.  I think it is because I felt like I had a better rapport with the camp director going into it and she's a strong girl.  That said, I wonder what new life lessons she'll come back with that will shock me.  lol

My training went great again this week.  Nearly 7.5 hours of exercise.  I now have 4 weeks finished.  Less than 100 days to go now.  It's starting to get very real now.  Hitting my goal paces during workouts has been surprisingly easy (knock on wood) and I'm recovering really quickly.  I blame strength training over the past months as well as a better focus on nutrition.  Most days.  I won't tell you about the huge chunk of carrot cake I ate last night.  And then ice cream before bed.  Hey, I'm not perfect and I have a healthy sweet tooth.

I did my first double digit run of this training cycle - the first one since the Pittsburgh Half, actually - yesterday.  I ran 11.11 (I swear I didn't plan it that way at all) miles.  I felt like I controlled my pace fairly well and I felt really good aside from a little "blah" spell around the 7 mile point.  I used Clif Shot Bloks as my fuel after 5 miles and I really don't think they work for me.  I didn't get any rush or boost from them and the biggest thing that annoys me is how freaking HUGE and hard they are (that's what she said? lol).  It takes me forever and a good amount of choking fears to get them down, too.  I'll use up the last pack and a half I have and just stick to gels and the jelly beans.

This coming week I run 12 miles, and after another recovery week... oh goodness my plan gets intimidating.  But, I've been looking at it this way - I haven't been able to celebrate a PR in quite a while.  In the coming weeks I'll (hopefully) have a distance PR to report almost every week!  So, in that sense I'm more excited than scared.

Until then, I'm happy to be feeling great and ultimately be too busy in my day to day to overanalyze things.  Onward!

Friday, July 18, 2014

100 Days to Go!

100 days until MCM!! (Actually at the time of this post it will be 99 days, 21 hours or something)

I'm still really excited.  The training has been flying by it seems and I've gained a lot of my confidence back.  I've been able to not focus on "when's the pain coming" and "gotta hold back" but more on "let's get to work" and "let's enjoy this".  I'm over halfway through the first mesocycle, which is based on endurance.

My pace has definitely come back down and my biggest struggle is not fully rolling with that and keeping with my training pace plan.  I haven't gone out of my boundaries so far, but darn is it tempting some days.  Especially the last couple of days when the weather has been in the low 50s and my legs just want to go.  After that first round of intervals at the beginning of training, they have gotten easier and easier.  I just need to work on consistency.  But, as with anything else, that will come with time.  I keep reminding myself that I'm still only on week 4 with 14 weeks to go and even though it seems like that's no time at all, it's plenty of time for something ridiculous to happen if I'm not careful.

While I'm glad that we have a few days of cooler weather, I know we still have quite a bit of hot, muggy days ahead before summer fades.  That said, with my runs getting longer I believe I'm going to need a larger hydration bottle.  I really don't think I'd like a fuel belt... I think bottles sloshing around my big hips would drive me nutty.  But, I don't mind my Spibelt most days, so maybe I'm wrong.  The times my Spibelt bothers me are when I'm wearing really slick fabric on the bottom (like compression shorts) and then it just rides up and down and flops all over and drives me crazy.  I think I'd just rather get a larger handheld.  My hands never seem to cramp up, especially if I switch off from time to time and I like having the bottle "right there", so to speak without having to dig it out of my back or wherever.  The Amphipod I'm using right now is 12 oz?  I'm currently looking at the Nathan 22 oz.  If any of you reading this have any favorites or suggestions, please let me know!

In other gear related news, I need new shoes.  Right now in my 3 shoe rotation (I always rotate 3 pairs of shoes.  I don't remember how or even why I started doing this, but it's what I do and it seems to work), I have a pair of Adrenaline 13 with 475 miles on them, a pair of Lunarglides with around 300, and a pair of Adrenaline 14 with just over 200.  I want to fully retire the 13s and the Lunarglides.  They are dead.  Totally dead.  Like the words on the bottom can't be read anymore because they aren't there.  In the case of the Lunarglides, they are just flat on the bottom.  Here's where I speak of my disappointment with the Adrenaline 14 too - they have a HOLE in them.  I haven't worn them any differently than any other shoe or put them through anything out of the ordinary.  They look like they are practically brand new except for the hole.  In the top.  I can nearly put my freaking toe through it.  I've heard that I'm not the only one who prefers the 13s as well.  Why they changed a great shoe I don't know.  Boo, Brooks... Boo.  They're still wearable, I guess... just the fact that they seem to be coming apart at such low mileage is upsetting.  All my other Adrenalines I've been able to take to between 450-500 miles before calling it quits and even then they didn't look bad.  So, in the near future I'm going to be hitting up running stores again and getting some new kicks.  Necessary evil.

I made the mistake and got on MapMyRun the other day and mapped out potential 15-20 mile routes.  Oh my goodness.... that's a long freaking way.  haha.  I kind of psyched myself out a little bit.  I have a few more weeks before needing to dive into that.  For now I'll just keep on my path of building up to that point.

Honestly, I don't have much to update with regards to my training.  I'm feeling great (knock on wood), getting all my runs accomplished as planned and fitting all the supplemental stuff in.  I'm well on my way, I just hope I keep improving and getting stronger.

100 days!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

MCM Training Week 3

This week has been a whirlwind.

My middle kid, Vincent, went off to summer camp for the first time.  He hasn't gone for more than an overnight before and this time he's away from his mama for 11 whole days.  I've been beside myself.  I cried the first two days, slept with his stuffed elephant and have just been a general basketcase.  And, just as luck would have it they ended up under a tornado warning and I was a freaking mess until I heard from the camp that he was fine.  He doesn't come home until Wednesday so I still have a few days to go.  I'm telling you, when he gets here I'm going to kick his ass for not writing like he said he would (I even sent him with stamped envelopes!!).

On the camp bus.  I miss you Vinny!!!!

While Vincent's been away, his room has been occupied.  By my mother in law.  Now, typically I'd be pissing and moaning, but believe it or not, this has been a pretty decent visit.  For good reason, too.  She's moving out here.  She's getting older and her health hasn't been the best and she's not liking being so far away from the only family she has left (us).  She's also got a few business projects in the works that she wants to include Nick and I on and that would be much easier if she were here.  So, she's looking to move out here by the end of the summer.

With that said, we've amped up the house search.  And........ we may have found our place.  I should know for sure in the next few days, but I just might become a south hills resident soon.  ;)

It's exciting and bittersweet.  The one thing that concerns me is my running.  Here, I walk out my front door, down to the end of the block, cross the street and start running.  A mile has me down to the North Shore Trail and I have all that running space... fairly flat unless I cross a bridge and even then it's not bad... traffic free for the most part.. and most of all familiar and safe to me.  Where we are probably moving to is very VERY hilly.  And not just little hills, but steep Mt Everest type climbs.  And the main roads are pretty busy.  I'm also (currently) unaware of any trails or low traffic areas to get longer runs in.  I am excited that there are 2 tracks in very close proximity that I can use to do my speedwork, but I can't see myself using those to "just run".  So far it's looking like I'm going to have to travel to do my long runs, especially as they increase in distance.  I'll either take the T to the Jail trail I guess or drive to South Park or elsewhere.  Or I could really start utilizing the running groups I'm a member (even paid! ugh!) of.  The only thing that bothers me about running with groups is all the stopping.  On both group runs I went on while training for the Pittsburgh Half the only, and I mean only thing that bothered me so much that I'd prefer to just run by myself is all the stopping.  Every time there's a fluid station set up, everyone stopped to BS for a few minutes.  Meanwhile I'm jumping around keeping my muscles loose thinking "come the hell on, let's go already!".  I mean, do you do that during the race?  No.  Does the race clock just stop at mile 10 for as long as you need it to so you can get a drink and a snack and take a selfie?  Not that I am aware of.  When I'm running, I just want to keep running.  If I stop, there had better be a good freaking reason.  Like a bus coming down the street when I'm at an intersection.  Hell, a stress fracture didn't even get me to stop during a race.  Just go and get it done.  Talk and pic taking is for after.  lol.  But hey, that's just me and I'm nutty and I know it.  I truly mean no offense to people that prefer this method.  It's just not my bag.  I do love to run and talk with people, I just don't want to stop for very long if at all.  I'll figure my stuff out somehow.

Well now that I went on a tangent over something really ridiculous, let's talk about my marathon training this week.  It went awesome.  It was my first cutback/recovery week.  My plan is written to build for 2 weeks, cut back the long run the next, repeat.  It works for me, though it may seem wimpy to some.  I'm ok with that.  This week I did both a run with the middle part at half marathon pace as well as a faster steady run.  I also did my first true recovery run, which honestly was more difficult than any of the faster runs I've done recently.  I have no idea why.  It just felt weird.  But the easy aerobic run the day after was really awesome, so I'll take that as the recovery "worked".  Right?  I got in all my strength training and core and flexibility work as well.  I had to jockey my workout times a little bit to compensate for my MIL's presence as well as other scheduling conflicts, but I got it all accomplished and felt great doing it.

I also got to run with Victoria this week again.  She ran a bit over a mile with me on Thursday.  She's to the point now where she's not going out too fast so she's not stopping to walk before the interval is up.  She's also increased her overall pace as well as consistently makes her last interval her fastest!  I'm so proud of her!

Thankfully even though we've had company all week, my nutrition has been pretty decent.  I'm trying to make sure I'm getting good forms of carbs and healthy fats.  It's so easy to just nosh on the junk, but it is definitely better to stick with the real yummy stuff.  I can always tell a difference in my running if I'm eating crap or eating well.  But, I do have a sweet tooth and I love dessert (best meal of the day!) so I have had my indulgences... especially with my boy gone.  #mamadrama

Egg white omelet & cheese with blueberries and toast with raspberry preserves, turkey chili with avocado and sour cream on top and yes, delicious frozen yogurt with decadent toppings from Sweet Frog.

I've enjoyed this week and all its craziness, although I miss my buddy.  He'll be back in a few days and then after some together time I'll be saying farewell to the oldest as she goes away.  In the meantime, this coming week I'm increasing my mileage again.  Here comes week 4 of marathon training!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

MCM Training Week 2

Two weeks done already!  Gosh, I hope this whole process doesn't fly by.  I kind of want time to slow down so I can just enjoy it.

The strength workouts are really coming along.  First of all, I'm back to owning pushups.  Pushups are one of those things for me where I can build them up quickly, but if I stop doing them for 2 weeks it's like starting all over again.  I always feel like a major badass when I can whip through a set of pushups and hop off the floor feeling great and wanting more.  Also, as far as the core strength workouts go, I'm back to planking longer/easier too.  Funny how some things come back easier than others.

My running is coming along as well.  I did strides again this week and they were much easier than last.  I didn't do a fast steady pace run this week, but instead I picked up the pace during the last couple miles of my long run, per the Hal Higdon 3/1 method.  The interesting thing about that 9 mile run was I was starting to feel like I was getting stiff and crampy after 6 miles... I was honestly debating chucking the pace pickup and just trudging to the end of the run.  But, my hardheadedness kicked in (because I wasn't feeling bad or injured, just blah and tired... it's been quite the couple of days here with the holiday) and I stuck to the plan.  Believe it or not - I felt better once I picked up the pace.  The stiff/crampy stuff immediately went away and I felt like I was on a fresh run.  I finished out the run much better and easier than I originally thought.  So, I don't know what was up there, but like I said it was interesting.

Oh, I tried out that Vanilla Clif Shot gel at mile 5 of my run this morning and it was YUMMY!!  I also think it worked pretty well too.  I was skeptical because it didn't have caffeine and I'm a caffeine junkie (hence my love affair with Espresso Love Gu), but it seemed to do the trick.  I don't know how it would go for me on a longer effort, which is why I tried it today, but I'd give it a go.  It was thick, delicious and effective for today.  Thumbs up!

We had a great 4th here.  We ate the standard fare, I battled a hangover (lol), and we walked around downtown enjoying the festivities.  We wrapped it all up with the awesome fireworks at the Point, followed by the typical sparklers and noisemakers at home.  Getting to bed late almost every night this week hasn't helped my running, but I'll do better this week and get some extra sleep.  I'll fully admit to going back to bed after my early Saturday 5 miler for a couple of hours.  I read that Deena Kastor also does this so it can't be wrong.  haha.  At least my nutrition was much better this week... well, all except the holiday.  But holiday calories and stuff doesn't count, right?

Awesome sunset to enjoy while waiting for the fireworks to start!

Today I am taking my middle kid to camp for the first time.  He'll be gone for 11 days and this will be the longest I've been without him.  I hope he has fun but I am going to miss him so much.  I'm really emotional about it.  Help?!

Here's to another week completed!  Next week is actually my first cutback/recovery week already.  My longest run is only 6 miles.  I do still have some faster runs to do, though.  All part of the plan...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Friday Randomness #2

It's time for another random babble post.

But first - Happy 4th of July!  Whatever you're up to today, make sure you have fun and be safe.

The Furries are in town!  I love the Furries.  If you're not aware of what a Furry is or what they're about, go to and check it out.  These are just fun people having a good time.  I personally enjoy the vibrant spirit they bring every year.  Never met a Furry I didn't like.

Yes, we are still house hunting.  I think we'll probably always be sometimes... Does anyone ever find the perfect place?  We looked at a house in Swissvale the other day that we liked.  It was a bit smaller than ideal, but not much worse that what we're dealing with right now.  AND - it has a yard.  And a garage.  So those are upgrades on their own.  We'll see.

Mother in laws... just... yeah.

We are having a blast at Kennywood and Sandcastle.  This year the weather has been great - especially for Sandcastle - and we've been going quite a bit.  I think we went to one or the other every day for a week straight.  Since this week is the 4th of July, Kennywood has been doing fireworks every night and those are always a nice treat.  I've said it once and I'll say it again - those season passes are well worth it.

My middle kid is leaving for camp on Sunday and I'm starting to get itchy about it.  I know he's going to have fun but I'm going to miss him a lot.  I'm also a little concerned as to how he's going to handle waking up before noon every day as well as not having video games at his disposal for almost 2 weeks.

I'm having a love/hate with personal training.  I mean, I never got into it to get rich, so I don't mind the pay thing.  I simply enjoy helping people and encouraging them to move and make healthy choices.  However.  I can't hold their hands through every hour of the day.  I can't be at their disposal 24/7.  I can't give instantaneous results to people who have no desire to work for it.  If you eat a cake and a medium pizza and think that working out for an hour with me is going to fix that, you're mistaken.  I can't MAKE those pounds melt off.  I also get irritated when people think I can drop what I'm doing at any point to attend to them.  I had a guy get pissy with me while I was at Sandcastle with my kids because I couldn't come do a session within the hour.  Um, yeah dude... just let me leave my 3 small children to fend for themselves so I can come drive 45 mins away to deal with you.  Whatever.  The tough clients are made up for by the ones that come in truly interested in their health and fitness and who give me 110% every time with no complaints.  I cherish those ones and am probably just as excited to see their success as they are.

Speaking of training, my marathon training is going well so far and I'm loving it.  During my speed intervals the other day I had my pace lower than it has been in ages and it felt SO good.  My "easy" pace is getting progressively easier too.... Although I'm still planning on staying smart and not pushing it.  Re-injuring myself is NOT an option.

Sorry Nuun lovers.... so far it's a fail for me.  It's yummy for sure, but I don't think it "works".  I've tried it twice and I'll give it another go because I don't want to waste the rest of the container, but for now I can't sing praises.  And it makes my Amphipod leak.  Boo.  The new Fierce Green Apple Gatorade is freaking awesome, though!

I'm dying for funnel cake here.  The fact that I smell it everywhere I go around here these days doesn't help.

That's all for now.  Again, have a Happy 4th!