Sunday, November 8, 2015

Overview of Where I've Been and What's Next

Hi!  How are ya?  Not gonna lie, I've been drinkin' tonight so pardon the slurred speech and the beer muscles.  At least I'm not to the point of listening to Hick Hop (yet) so we're good.  j/k... I was reading a hilarious thread on Reddit and Hick Hop is on the forefront of my hilarious thoughts.

This shit is awesome.  Sometimes I buy beers just for the graphics on the label.  Sometimes it works out... others not so much.  This one is a winner, though.

Anyway, I'm really not going to go back to structured blogging, but I wanted to write down some things... talk about what happened especially over the last few weeks and what I'm looking forward to.

First of all, I'm really enjoying some downtime.  That said, I really get annoyed with the downtime.  I'm not really on any sort of "plan" - be it running or lifting or whatever - and while some days that's very liberating other days it pisses me off because I want that goal/that purpose/that drive for a true end result.  but it is what it is... pretty soon I'll be bitching about fitting all my runs into my life schedule again so I'm trying to chill and enjoy.

For all intents and purposes 2015 is done for me, as far as training/running goes.  I may... just may.. do a five mile race here in the coming weeks but if I do I will not all out race it.  I'm just itching to do something.

So, my final thoughts on my training cycle and MCM are this:
I loved the training plan I chose.  Funny thought:  this was just a free plan offered by the Clif Bar company.  I was attracted to it by the low mileage (since I was coming off an injury and still run/walking for those first few weeks), as well as the 2x weekly speedwork.  I also liked the fact that it was 4 days per week running with the flexibility to add easy miles and/or cross training on the other days - which I did take advantage of and was running the standard 5 days per week by the middle of the plan.  I only modified it slightly - it scheduled 2 runs of 19 then 21 miles and I thought that sounded stupid, so I just did 2 20 milers.  And the tempo runs I made true tempo runs, not race pace miles sandwiched inside a warmup and cooldown (that is NOT a tempo run!).  In general, I think it was a nice, well rounded plan that was super flexible so that it could "grow with me", so to speak, as I fully recovered from my stress reaction and felt ready to take on the longer/harder stuff.  I did hit 50 miles a week at peak, which as you know is short of the 55 I was at before, but really.. that's not too shabby in the world of casual marathoning.

I did not follow the nutrition plan that came with the running plan because I was trying to follow the Racing Weight book.  Which was a fail for me, like I've posted before.

I felt totally prepared for the race, but in the end it was the mind over matter issue on top of the awful weather that did me in.  I pulled the classic "go out too fast" scenario and then faded and couldn't mentally get over myself in time to really bring it in.  BUT - I still pounded out a 9 minute PR, and achieved my B goal of a sub 3:50 (A goal was 3:45).  I also didn't walk a single step of the Iwo hill or any of the rest of the race, which was a big positive over last year.  So, even though the race didn't go as planned, I consider this whole cycle from day 1 of run/walking to feeling awesome in the days AFTER the race (seriously - easiest recovery ever) a huge success.
Thinking of buying this pic... it's one of a whopping 2 that I like.  The rest look like I'm about to die, give birth, am smelling a raunchy fart or just simply hate my life. Plus this is one of those cool "both feet off the ground" pics and I actually look like I'm totally focused and owning that shit.

What's next?  Well, like I said right now I'm in that limbo point.  I'm not training for anything, I'm just taking care of myself and staying fit.

I am planning on tackling some different things in 2016.  I absolutely plan on MCM again.  I want to get into the lifetime club so bad.  My "goal" early 2016 race is actually pretty early in the year so I'll be starting a training plan by the beginning of December.  I've enlisted the wisdom of a coach/someone who is a more seasoned and talented runner than I'll probably ever be.  One of the things that has been brought to my attention is that supposedly I am doing my running journey a huge disservice my consistently running my "easy" and ESPECIALLY my long runs (unless there is a prescribed workout within the run) too fast.  Now, I've been running by a heart rate range that I'd calculated and thought that was good enough but I'm told I need to run "slower than that slow".  So, it's going to be tough but I'm gonna try it.  I've been kinda trying out the paces on the runs I've done this week and I still ran every one (of the three I did) faster than the plan! I guess I need to take some time and focus and hone in on what it's supposed to feel like.  Of course, once winter rolls in it's easier to go into turtle mode anyway to prevent death by ice patch.  But, anyway, I'm looking forward to a different type of training, different type of plan, and different race and a different goal.  I know this is gonna sound bad, but running has gotten a little boring as well as frustrating for me and I need a change in perspective to keep me motivated.

I also - and this may be a shock - will not be doing an intense weight training plan in between or during running cycles.  For the last two years I've done that and I've gained some serious muscle (I'm no Ronda Rousey but I could beat a bitch down, just sayin'), but the honest fact is I'm bulkier than a runner is meant to be.  I really noticed this in recent pics.  So, I need to pare down and I will be following a plan tailored for endurance athletes and running functionality.  This will be a lot of core work, hip/glute strength and some upper body.  I won't be doing hours upon hours of curls and benching and shoulder presses and all that because I need to focus on other areas.  And the core work takes #1 priority.

I was kind of inspired by one of my favorite YouTubers  to do a 30 day vegan challenge but my family is totally against it.  I guess I'll think of something else to do like the Yoga challenge I did last year (that's kept me doing at least some form of yoga on the regular all year!).

Well, that's all that's on my mind right now regarding the current status of life.  In the coming weeks I'll be cleaning up my nutrition a bit again (I've been on an OMG eat all the crap I couldn't have during marathon training binge for two weeks and that's not real smart with the holidays coming at us), but other than that it's just keep on moving and loving life. :)

He wanted to take his own damn selfie.  What a brat.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon 2015

Short version: I had a stressful trip, was tired for the race, the weather was too warm and humid, and I ultimately went out too fast, hit the wall like a boss, but still managed both a PR and a sub 3:50.

Word vomit version:

We ended up leaving Pittsburgh much later Friday morning than I'd hoped.  That, on top of extended stopping along the way, led us to check into our hotel late.  More stress got heaped onto my plate by my card company claiming that I never put in a travel notification so my card got flagged at the hotel desk.. How embarrassing!  We had to stand there and call the bank and jump through freaking hoops to get them to clear my card so we could get to our room.  Jagoff bank!  So, by this time it was too late to go to the expo.  This ticked me off because I like to go to the expo on Friday so that I don't spend too much time on my feet the day before the race.  Well, I had no choice now.  We went out to eat, stopped at a store to get some things we needed and then drove around to see some sights in the dark before heading back to our room to get some rest.

The kids... oh my.  Of course this would be one of those phases they all decided to check into where they can't get along, don't listen to direction, and pretty much don't care about anything but being as loud and obnoxious and rotten as possible.  They were like this quite a bit during this trip and it didn't help my focus.  NOTE:  I'm not blaming the kids for anything regarding my race performance or whatever, I'm just making a standard parental observation.  There were moments of "who's child are you?" that happened.  Every parent experiences this.  Unfortunately, this took place on race weekend.  Thanks for keeping me on my toes, kids! ;)

Anyway, Saturday morning I woke up early to meet up with my friends from the Facebook MCM & 10K group.  We met at the Smithsonian and ran a short loop around the area (which formed a penis shape on the gps map, which is always worth a giggle).  It was a good time, even though it was quite chilly as we waited for everyone to arrive!  Oh how I wish this weather stuck around for Sunday!  I was so happy to finally meet people and put some real faces to names and pictures on the internet.  Our group really does have a great bond and I think it's awesome how we share a love of the most awesome race in the whole damn world.

MCM & 10K Club 2015

After my shakeout run, I headed back to the hotel and got ready to go to the expo.  The expo was... the expo.   It was super crowded, hard to get around, and I definitely didn't get to see or do all that I had initially planned.  It was just too much and we decided to just call it a day and leave after we got some ice cream.  This is the first expo I've ever attended where I walked out spending NOTHING.  At least packet pickup was a breeze.  And I saw Jeff Galloway!  He actually ran the race the next day with his wife as well.  Such an inspiration!

Hell yes I wrote "For the Horde" on the official MCM pace car!  Because I am a nerd.

For pre-race dinner we went to a place that was recommended in my FB group called the Lost Dog Cafe.  I was really touched by the story behind this place and really wanted to try it.  The owners also run an animal rescue and everything is based on that.  Even most of the menu items have animal names so that was cool.  I got plain spaghetti and garlic bread, but I wished I could have indulged in what the rest of the family had because it all looked so good!  I hope to get back there some day because what little nibbles I had were pretty tasty.

Later that night at the hotel I discovered I had forgotten raisins for my traditional night before snack of oatmeal, chia, raisins and honey.  Boo.  Then I got to bed hours later than I wanted to.  And of course tossed and turned all night long, looking at the clock at least once an hour...

I was damn tired when the alarm went off at 4 a.m. but I got my ass up and moving.  I went over my list and made sure I had everything and put on some extra bodyglide.  I drank some gatorade, grabbed my PB sandwich and a banana as well as a big bottle of water and headed down to the Metro.  I was shockingly calm.  Tired, but my nerves were calm.

I just want to say here that a lot of people in the past days have bitched about the security lines and the race start and whatever but I have to say I had NO issue at all.  I was on the Metro at 5, and comfortably situated with some people I met up with at Runners Village shortly thereafter.  I got right through security and hung out in the rain for the next two hours chatting, taking pictures, and using the portajohn.  Guess I'm lucky I'm an early riser and know that extra sleep isn't worth extra stress.

Dark and empty parking lot at Runners Village sometime around 5:30 a.m.

One thing I noticed as I was waiting for the right time to head to the start line was that it was humid.  Very humid.  88%.  Yuck.  It was around 60 degrees too.  I knew a suckfest was ahead and there was nothing to do but hold on for the ride and just run.  Another thing I noticed was that my stomach was wonky and I had to crap like every 15-20 minutes.  Oh, and as luck would have it, I got my fucking period too.  This was a perfect morning!

So, anyway, as the sun rose and me and my new best friends parted ways to head to the start, my stomach finally felt stable, thank goodness.  My mood was not the greatest, but it could have been a lot worse and I do credit the guys I hung out with for keeping my mind off my own bullshit for a while.  I easily found my way to my corral (Expected Finish: 3:40-3:59) and enjoyed the opening ceremonies.  The prayer.  The motivational talks.  The flyover.  The National Anthem.  Amazing.  I ditched my throwaways just before the howitzer fired.  It was around 2 minutes before I crossed the start.

I said it last year and many times since:  MCM is crowded as fuck.  And yes, there are corrals, but it's a guarantee that there will be people walking right out of the gate that started near the elite corral.  I was prepared for it this year and I wasn't going to let myself get as crazy over it.  Notice I said "as crazy" because come on... it's frustrating not being able to run as you trained to run for whatever reason.  But this year I kept my cool and didn't weave around nearly as much as before.  I had some form of patience.  Well, that was until I caught up with the 3:45 pacer and his surrounding group and started joining in the conversation and antics...

My first miles ticked off within the range I'd given myself for the race.  Easy peasy.  Then, before I knew it I was in this big mob of a group and this pacer is flying.  I mean like fucking flying.  To be honest, I was enjoying the sights and sounds and company and not paying a whole lot of attention, but my Garmin started ticking off sub 8 minute miles - 7:48, 7:52, etc.  And this was the uphill part of the course!  On one hand I was thinking "too fast, Nichole, you will never make it at this rate" but on the other I kept telling myself that I felt great, it felt easy and I was having so much damn fun why stop now?!  So I just kept with the herd.  Other people also commented:  "That guy is nuts!", "WTF is he trying to bank so much time we'll be able to walk from the bridge to the Iwo?", and other such remarks.  I laughed with them and agreed, but even as more people (the smart ones) dropped back, I had this do or die mentality that kept me glued to this dude.  Many times I second guessed myself and what I was doing, but I kept telling myself that I'd be a loser and a quitter if I pulled back, so I didn't (well at least at this point of the race).

I will say though, nothing against this pacer as a human being, though.. he was really fun and at least talked a lot, which is a quality I enjoy in a pacer.  He cracked me up sometime around mile 8 or 9 when he announced that he had to pee and handed off his sign and balloons to some random guy in the group and said "Hold this, I'll be back", and we were essentially pacerless for a while until he caught back up.

The Blue Mile.  What can I say about this?  It's one of those things you have to be there for.  But it is one of those things at MCM that remind you that this race is not really about YOU, but about something so much bigger.  Weaving and distance be damned, I will position myself during the Blue Mile so I can look at every picture and high five/say thank you to every family member, child, volunteer holding out those big beautiful American flags.  During this mile time/pace/PRs don't fucking matter.

I first started realizing I was truly screwed at the half marathon point.  A well meaning spectator was cheering and yelling "You're halfway there now!", which as a marathoner you know is bullshit.. the halfway point of a marathon is 20 miles.  You need 50% of your energy for that last 10K.  Upon assessing my personal status I kinda realized that I probably was down 50% of my energy at the half marathon point... not a good sign.  But, I kept forging on.

The Mall.  I love running this!  From the sights to the crowd, it's just great.  My family was here as well.  I needed the psychological boost and I was thrilled to see them.  I also saw Bart Yasso who is seriously one of the coolest guys ever.

Unfortunately I really started fading during the last part of the mall headed toward the bridge.  At the mile 16 marker I realized that I was really starting to feel like I was "working"... again in a marathon that's not a good sign.  It was getting ridiculously hot, someone said the humidity was nearly 100% and most certainly by 18-19 miles I was starting to feel like crap.  I knew at this point the Bridge was going to be a bitch and if I wanted a chance of hitting my goal of not walking up the Iwo for the second year in a row, I had to say farewell to the (now very small) group I was running with and pull back.  For some silly reason during this race I decided to fuel differently (took my GU at different mileage points and carried a water bottle I never had before).  I know, dipshit move and one I will not make again.  And BTW taking GU early didn't help any, in fact I think it made matters worse.

Mile 20.  To the Bridge and over.  I was really starting to struggle.  My pace dropped a lot (I saw some 9:xx miles) and I just mentally checked out.  I told myself even if I ran the rest of the race at long run pace I'd still glide in at a great time.  The thing that irritated me was that I had no doubt that I could cover the distance, the stamina was there, it's just that my legs (quads and calves mainly) were just cramped up.  Seriously they were SO damn tight.  And then I got smacked with a big dose of reality....

There on the bridge I was about to pass another runner.  This runner was a double amputee running on prosthetic legs.  I got my head out of my ass (at least for the moment) and thought to myself "whatever whining and bitching I've got going on has nothing on this dude.  talk about a beast!".  As I went by him I said "You are my motherfucking hero!", and I forged ahead and off that damn bridge.

As I entered Crystal City I must have really looked like shit because a guy yelled out "about 4 more miles, ma'am!".  I know he meant well but I wanted to kick him in the dick.  4 miles is forever at the end of a marathon.  But I did somehow manage to find a second wind and I was back to running at my intended race pace again.  I ate some orange slices that were handed out.  I was sad to see that there was no water sprayer this year in CC... I really could have used it.  Getting to the turnaround point seemed to take a long time and I was starting to get pissy again.  My quads were really bothering me and I felt like I was just going to ride the pain train the rest of the race.

My pace slowed a bit again, but I kept pushing as hard as I could while keeping some kind of control going so I had the energy to take the Iwo.  For the second time, I had to say no to the donuts at mile 24.  I was hot, miserable, and nauseous and I really thought they would just bounce back out.  Even those last orange slices I ate weren't sitting well.  I had one last GU in my belt and couldn't even bring myself to take that either.

And why oh why is mile 25 the longest mile of the race?  seriously!

Somewhere near the Pentagon stood a guy dressed as a nun yelling "The End is Near" among other things.  It was hilarious and a much needed mental boost.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the mile 26 sign.  I knew all I had to do was take the Iwo and put myself on cruise control for a minute and it was all over.  I started up the hill strong but then it became a battle to get my legs to move forward.  My pace really slowed (I was down to around 10:30 by the time I got to the top) but I DID NOT WALK ONE STEP.  I didn't walk a single step of this whole race, actually.  Right before the top of the hill a Marine yelled "only a bit farther ma'am, you got this! Oorah!".

I really tried to sprint once I got to the top of the hill.  I really did.  But, it just was not there.  I still gave everything I had left in the tank and cruised to the finish line.  I was elated to find out later that my time was 3:48:19.  I executed this race very foolishly and not at all like I'd planned and I still got my PR, and a big one at that.  I happily got my medal from a young Marine who I then asked for a hug.  Which he obliged.  :)  Then I got my picture in front of the memorial, hooked up with my family (who actually saw me finish this year!), ate some watermelon and went right for the beer tent.

Beer is good and stuff!

The kids and I taking a post-race selfie.

In the hours and a day or so after the race I did a lot of negative talk and kicking my own ass for the silly things I did (not sticking with my own pace at the beginning, fueling differently, etc) and doing a lot of "I wonder what my time would have been if..." shit, but I quickly got over that.  I PRed MCM!  On a humid day when I was tired and not feeling well at the start!  On a day where my brain just decided not to work!  I got to experience something freaking awesome!  AGAIN! And uh... did I mention that PR?!?!

I ran almost a quarter mile less this year - woohoo!

This is now almost a week from race day and I've been feeling back to normal for several days now.  I only had some general soreness for a day and a half afterward and that's it!  No nagging aches or pains and NO INJURY! This has been the easiest recovery EVER!  I can't wait to run again (Tuesday is the plan) and I can't wait to run MCM again in 2016!  I'm committed to running this race for as long as they will let me in!  I love it that much!  One day I'll get those donuts... one day!

Mission Accomplished!
Best Medal Ever.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Made It To Taper and I Quit Blogging

So..... we are now 21 days out from the Marine Corps Marathon 2015.  Actually since it is almost 10 pm it's less than that, but you know what I mean.

It's taper madness time!!!!

You know, I don't even remember where I left off with all this.  All I know is that I have not blogged in a long time and for many reasons.  Let me try to explain.

1. I started a new job.  This past week was actually my last week of training before I start my real shift and real duties on my own.  First off, I work for the government now.  Not going to say too much regarding which department and doing what given the circumstances, but it's a job that is very rewarding and also can be intense and stressful.  I go to bed at night KNOWING I've helped at least one person in a positive manner that day. My training schedule has been early daylight hours, which means to get up and run I've had to be out during the 4AM hour.  I'm really glad my training is over now and I go on my later shift because I have been DEAD TIRED.  Instead of turning on my computer and blogging at night I've just been crawling in bed with a cup of tea and zonking out.  Hopefully now I can regulate myself again and get some rest... at least I hope - I'm running a marathon in 3 weeks!

2.  We bought a house.  And we've been working on the house (it had more things that needed fixed than we originally planned on) and going from house to house and the schedules have just been wild.  This has also greatly contributed to my not having much energy for the interwebs these days.  I'm so thrilled to have a permanent city of Pittsburgh address again, though.  This time it IS permanent.  Well.. unless the kids grow up and decide to move off and we decide to say eff it and move to the Jersey shore or something.

3.  Blogging was starting to really eat at me.  I never got into blogging to "create a brand" or start a business or make money or get sponsors or be in some odd clique of online "experts".  I don't do linkups or product reviews (unless I buy something on a whim and want to let you know about it) or generic template posts.  I never wanted a format or a solid focus or whatever.  I know I've said this before but I started blogging when blogs were just pages of word vomit on the internet - way back in the early AOL days and beyond - pretty much opening your diary to the world.  It was never about advertisement or gathering groupies or making yourself out to be a know it all on a given topic.  Sometimes you'd find someone you jived with that had similar world views as you (like you both really love goth rock or Manic Panic) and you'd check in every now and again.  But that's it.  Yes, I'm showing my age but I don't care... In these modern days, blogging is just fucking weird and I was starting to get stressed about posting and sounding a certain way and being nice.  I was putting pressure on myself because of what other people think!  I'm sorry, that's fucked up.  The last thing I want to be in real life OR on the internet is fake.  I'm not cool with that even a little bit.  I'm a total WYSIWYG person and I really don't give a crap about what people think.  I swear a lot, I'm extremely judgmental when I feel the need, I'm cheap when I feel it's necessary (a lot), I know some shit and am a total dumbass about other stuff.  I love exercise and I love whiskey.  I hate fashion and branding but I'll always wear Oakleys and Doc Martens and Urban Decay makeup.  I'm not always nice.. in fact I can be quite venomous and mean and I am not someone you want to piss off.  If that's not good enough for today's hip and trendy blogging world, then fuck it.  I only wanted a place to log my fitness journey.  I can do that on Strava.

4.  In the same category, running specific social media was stressing me out.  I came to the realization lately while I've had other things to occupy myself other than obsess about running that wow... people really obsess about running!!  Like it's their job and they're headed to the Olympic trials and every decimal point of every gram of food or second of pace really means something.  And that's a big thing for me - people really obsess about PACE!  holy shit!  It was starting to stress me out and I was starting to over-analyze my training and I was starting to fall into some bad patterns.  I really have had to turn inward and "run my own race" even through my own training plan because I know myself and I will push myself until I literally break by obsessing.  One of my resolutions already for my next year of running/fitness is to not be so damned obsessive.  Running is not paying my bills!  It's a fucking hobby and what keeps my middle aged ass in shape!  I'm sure this energy is better used trying to make the world a better place somehow...

5.  This is the biggie.  I found out via the grapevine and my own personal observation that I have a nice little internet "fan"/stalker/creeper person.  What's really shitty is this person is someone who has quite an online presence.  I started noticing things on different areas of the internet some weeks back.  I'd post a workout, they'd post the same thing later that day or the next but they would be a second faster or a mile longer or 5 mins longer on their core work.  I thought it was weird at first but shook it off because come on, training plans can be fairly similar.  But it kept happening and kept getting weirder.  And if I would mention my run was rough, they would have the most awesome run ever or make other insinuations and jabs in my direction!  It started to become clear to me that they were forging ahead in some strange copycat/competition with me.  At first I just rolled my eyes, but then - after having it confirmed through someone else - I just got pissed.  Newsflash:  I don't run to impress people.  I don't care about your pace or mileage and you really shouldn't give a shit about mine.  I work my training plan for my goals and my happiness and I suggest everyone do the same.  I really don't get why anyone would try to make themselves feel better by being "better" than someone they never met before on the internet, who isn't even in the same racing categories as they are and who has vastly different goals.  Again, unless this is your full time job that supports your family... that's just... silly?  But, I'm not going to play along so I'm strongly considering privatizing everything from my blog to my Dailymile to everything else.  I've already locked up my Strava for the most part.

So other than that Ms. Lincoln, how was the play?  LOL

Well, my training has been AWESOME.  I finished up my second successful 20 miler yesterday in the pouring ass rain and wind.  I'm pretty confident I've got a good race ahead of me as long as I can keep myself healthy and injury free over the next 21 days.  But we'll see, right?  Also - a highlight of my training has been breaking some records (unofficially, of course)!  I bested my EQT 10 miler time during a tempo run.  Granted, I felt my pelvis break at exactly 6.67 miles of that race and went on to finish anyway but I've been wanting to kill that time for a while to prove those weren't my best running days totally gone to shit after the cycle of injury started.  I beat my time by a mere 20 seconds, but considering the fact that this run had a warmup and cooldown too and included the climb up Troy Hill Road at the end really made it great.  I really did flip my Garmin off when I saw my time and said "Fuck you EQT - fuck you!". Hey, I get a little nuts after a hard run before the sun comes up.

Oh, I think I've epically failed at the whole Racing Weight nutrition plan.  I still don't know how in the living hell to cram as many carbs as I'm "supposed to" in the course of a day down my throat.  Not without neglecting all other nutrients or without getting awfully bloated and shitty feeling.  I think I got it totally right on two whole random days.  Yes, I seem to have energy for miles and miles of running like that and that's awesome.  But I don't like eating like this or feeling like shit or having a bloated belly after even not being able to eat all that.  WTF?  It made me fall into bad eating habits (shovel those carbs in by eating crap!) and I just... no.  I'm not a fan.  In future training cycles I will go back to my old ways.  I'm glad I gave this a try but I just don't think it is my thing. And I do realize this is my issue, not the plan or Fitzgerald's or anything else. This plan just doesn't fit my life, my tastes, my family, my goals. I tell Nick all the time that after I cross the finish line in DC I'm going on a fucking meat bender.  I want meat and protein shakes and protein bars and cheese.. OMG I want a fuckton of cheese.  On the meat.  Maybe in the shakes.  I've made a cheesecake protein shake before and it was awesome.  OMG I want it so bad.  I'm so damned tired of carbs.  I never realized how low of a carb diet I usually eat until starting this plan.  I just want served a buffalo.  Thanks.

More about after the finish line:  Now I'm gonna knock on wood here because I still have to GET TO the finish line and then run 26.2 miles to cross the damn thing... but if all goes well and I make it through October in one piece I have my end of 2015/beginning of 2016 (realistically 2/3 of 2016) training calendar set.  I will be taking my running and fitness in another direction.  I want to overcome some things that are long overdue and I want to go on new adventures and try some new things.  At first glance it looks like the only repeat race I have on my schedule is Spring Thaw.  No, I am not even entertaining the notion of a Pittsburgh marathon weekend race.  I have another goal Spring race, but I'm not talking about it yet.  My goal is fun and challenging myself.

Well, that's all I've got this evening.  Don't know when I'll post again, but stay healthy, happy and free my friends!  Cheers!

Let the taper madness continue!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 6

Lacking in general updates and slow to even post a recap this week.  I'm trying to acclimate to a major shift in schedule and trying to live out of two residences (or at least sleep at one, and work at/gradually move into another).  So I really do apologize if I'm not up on responses anywhere on social media and for my just lack of being with it.  I promise once things settle down I'll be more with it.  Right now I'm looking longingly at my bed and it's just 7 pm...

So, this week in training went really well for me.  It was what I believed to be the first "hard" week of my training plan - long tempo, more 800s, and a long run over the half marathon distance.  Here's what I did!

Monday: Super easy and just awesome recovery run.  Beautiful sunrise.  One of those mornings you're just thankful to be alive and part of the world.  After I ran outside I went to the gym and did my upper body and core workout.

Tuesday:  Tempo.  It sprinkled a bit for maybe a minute but then it was just humid and gnarly.  However, I was able to pace myself pretty well this week so I guess it didn't bother me as much as I thought.

Wednesday:  Lower Body and core lift session at the gym.

Thursday:  5x800m repeats.  I did a 1 mile warmup, equal recoveries for time, and a cooldown for a little over 7 miles total.  It was fall-like cool out this particular morning (48 degrees when I got up!) and with that my legs seemed to want to run like the wind!  When I felt like I was going slow, I was still going faster than intended!  It always cracks me up the first couple of times I run in cool weather because the effort/pace thing just doesn't line up! haha  So, I guess some people would say I "failed" my intervals since I ran a few too fast, but you know what... these days when I feel this awesome are a blessing to me so I'm not gonna feel bad for it!

Friday: 30 minutes on the treadmill turned into a nice little 5K (3.15 miles, actually).  I felt really good!  Afterward I did 30 minutes of core work.

Saturday:  Long run - 14 miles.  I was a little nervous in the days before this run because I haven't really ran long in a few months.  But the morning of the run I woke up excited and positive and set out to have a good time.  My plan this week was to slow down my run a bit because just running by a straight set heart rate was freaking me out because my pace was consistently faster than I expect.  And I'm not sure that running all my long runs at a pace that would automatically give me a marathon PR if I held that is a good thing.  So what my plan included starting slow - at the very bottom of my heart rate range, barely above even a recovery run.  I ran at that effort for a few miles, then increased a few bpm to a more moderate/easy effort.. then the last few miles I ran at what I may normally try to hold right out of the gate.  This worked really well!  While my first couple of miles were slower than I'd normally run them, I didn't have any major crashes or slowdowns and I felt very strong the last few miles like I could go much farther and faster.  I think I'm going to do my long runs this way more often.  Maybe on the cutback weeks I'll do them the old way, but for now I feel better doing this.  Could I run all of them as hard as before?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But I don't think there's any benefit to it, really, when time on my feet - especially with a newly remodeled bone is important.  And also I do 2 hard speedwork runs a week.  I don't think pushing pace any more than that is healthy for me, either.

I wore my daughter's flower power Bondi Band to give me a boost!

I do want to mention that I tried 2 new gels during this run.. Yes, I like to live dangerously... lol  At mile 5 I took a Lemonade Roctane.  It was probably the most fake thing I've ever tasted.  It was gross.  At mile 10 I had a Double Expresso (and yes, they spell it like that...) Clif shot.  I've never had this flavor before and I love my Espresso Love GU AND this stuff said it had a whopping 100mg of caffeine in it, so I figured I'd give it a whirl...  First of all, the taste could be best described as the thick, strong, old ass coffee at the bottom of a pot at a 7-11 that's been sitting there for like 6 hours.  Way bitter and strong and thick...  BUT - if you can get past that taste, OMG this stuff is a kick in the pants!  I felt like someone lit a fire under my ass and I kid you not I looked down at my watch and realized I was running a 7:11 pace... over a bridge near the end of a long run.  LOL talk about having to put the brakes on!  Just wow... even though it tastes like crap I kind of want to try it again to see if it has the same effect.  :P  It might be a while though because I just stocked up on a whole bunch of gels at REI... we'll see.

Sunday: Rest.  But I walked 7 miles.  Here's another "thing" you should know about me.  When I get stressed out and pissed off I walk.  I literally just like to walk... and walk and walk and walk.  I got really pissy and frustrated Sunday afternoon while working on the new place and went out for a walk.  I walked all over the place from Troy Hill to the North Shore, the stadiums, casino, etc.  I even did Rialto, since I'll be living right by it and wanted to see what it was like on foot rather than car.  I don't think I'll be running Rialto on the regular, I'll tell you that.. lol  Anyway, I really didn't time/pace the walk and I did stop several times, including a run into a store for water, but according to my activity tracker I went 7 miles while I was out.  haha.  Don't worry, I won't add it to the weekly total, but it does amuse me what I'm capable of when I'm really not thinking about it.

Really cool squirrel that came near me on my walk.  He just seemed to have an attitude and I liked that.

This week I ran 35.41 miles, so you see just barely even half a mile more than last week.  I'm still happy with the slow buildup right now, because of the increase of speed training.  In fact, this week that just started is another cutback week already.  I'll have a shorter tempo and shorter long run, but I am adding another 800 to my interval day.  Everything in moderation, right? :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 5

Well, it was back to the grind this week.  Back to longer runs, harder runs and focus.  No lie - I am loving this.  Something I'm really appreciating about my training plan is that while I have taken the overall mileage down a knock, I've increased my intensity with doing both a true tempo (miles at 10-15k pace) as well as 800s every week.  Knock on wood, I'm recovering really well - especially since I have a rest day from running in between the two hardest workouts.  This is just what I've needed to keep my interest and to pep my little legs back up.

Monday: 6 mile recovery run.  It was a little windy outdoors but that just felt great.  This whole run was awesome.  Couldn't have asked for a better start to the week.  Since I had a longer run than usual for a Monday, I opted NOT to do my full gym routine and instead just did a core workout.  Perfect. :)

Tuesday:  Tempo. 2 mile warmup, 3 miles at tempo, 2 mile cool down.  Another fantastic run.  I get a pat on the back for this one because I really controlled myself with the pacing this week.  My laps weren't wildly different and I didn't go too hard too fast.  Yes!  I was able to celebrate with birthday cake and ice cream and Texas Roadhouse because it was Vincent's birthday.  TR was his pick.  It's all about those freaking rolls... lol

He had to have those waitresses sing Happy Birthday to him! lol

Wednesday:  Legs, Back and Core.  I tried out some new stuff this week and I really liked this!  I love it when a workout is a keeper from the start!

Thursday:  4x800s.  2 mile warmup, equal time recoveries, and cooldown.  Another winner of a run!  Again, I was able to pace myself really well on these!!  Only one was a bit too fast, but not crazy so.

Friday:  25 minutes easy on the treadmill for 2.67 miles.  Afterward, I did a new upper body and core routine.  I liked it, though it wasn't perfect, so in the future I will mess with it a bit.  In all reality I think the main problem was I went really light on the weights because I didn't want DOMS for my long run so I didn't feel like I got much out of it (although I know that I did.. I'm just used to really killing weight workouts - I want those last reps to be a struggle of grunting and sweat).  In weeks where my Monday run is shorter, I will do this workout then and do core on  Friday.  Oh, and to make sure my OCD brain got an even 30 minutes of cardio in, I hopped on the Crossramp for 5 minutes... LOL.

Saturday: Long run - 12 miles!  Woohoo! Now, I finally feel like I'm back to myself.  Other than cutback weeks, this is the last run under half marathon distance for my entire training plan.  I felt great.  As is usual for me, I had a little bit of a fade around mile 8/9, and then pepped right back up to finish strong and fast.  Speaking of the speed/pace issue, in my previous post I mentioned about pacing my long runs via specific pace (30-60 secs slower than goal marathon pace) or the long run heart rate range I've been using.  This week I just went with the heart rate as usual.  I felt really good - tired at the end, but I was fine.  I felt great the rest of the day and today I woke up and feel like I never ran a step.  Maybe I'm just psyching myself out.  I guess I'll just keep playing it by ear..

Sunday: Rest.  We went to do a last walkthrough of our new place and get some paperwork flowing.  I am freaking ecstatic.

This week I ran 34.89 miles!  Like I said... NOW I feel like I'm back to the norm.  I'm still trying to be careful and smart, because 11 weeks is still a long way to go.

Starting now, I'm adding more core focused exercise to my plan.  I know how beneficial a strong core is for running and since my training plan is progressing well, I'm adapting my strength workouts accordingly.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Random Things About My Crazy Life

I just have some random stuff to babble about today.

I've alluded to the fact that life has been pretty wild around here lately.  There's been a lot going on behind the scenes.  Nothing terrible, though, so that's a good thing.  Just lots of changes.  I know I've said this before, but when it rains it pours around here and it's about time things start moving in a good direction with gusto!

First of all, my husband has been working crazy ass hours.  At first I was pretty pissed - ok a lot pissed - but then I got over it and focused on the positives.  And there are positives, I'll just leave it there.  But, it's made some of our days, and mostly our nights really chaotic and it's been a shift for everyone in the house.

Also on the job front, you remember that I posted about needing positive vibes for a job interview and more recently I mentioned getting a job.  Well, the deeper story goes that I originally put in for a job way back in January, but didn't hear anything for the longest time.  Then (around the time I asked for that positive thought), I finally got contacted for an interview.  For the first time probably ever I felt like I nailed the interview!  I was comfortable in the facility, I felt like I took to the management well and vice versa and something just felt... right.  I left pretty hyped up and then.... silence.  So, bummed that I thought I didn't get the position, I put in for something else.  Not as good of a job, a bit lower in pay and certainly lacking in the quality of benefits, but still something that I saw as a step forward that was needed for myself and my family.  This scenario moved quite fast, and I was offered the position with a start date a month out.  I was happy with that.  Then... last week I got a phone call.  I was chosen for the original position that I thought I didn't get!  I was standing in the middle of a store when I got the call and I almost jumped ten feet in the air!  haha.  Now I find myself in the position of having to let someone down to take this opportunity, but it's what I have to do.  I know long term I wouldn't be completely happy in job #2, while job #1 offers a TON of future growth and fantastic benefits for not only myself but my entire family.  This is a break I've been waiting for for a very long time.  I'm really excited.

Of course all this good news wouldn't be complete without another major change:  If all goes well in the next couple of weeks we will be signing the papers for our new home back in the damn city where we belong!!  This year has been rough.  I don't know how or why my husband and I thought we could go back to small town living and be happy.  I'm not going to lie - this has been a miserable year of living here and I know for a fact that the stress has impacted me in a lot of ways.  We have not "fit in" to this neighborhood, neither have our kids, and to be honest, we don't want to now.  Word to the wise:  Do not EVER move up the 28 corridor.  There is nothing to see up here, stay where you are!  Hard lesson learned.  Fingers crossed that soon we'll be spending our days on the North Side again!  I won't have to drive in and make a special trip out of running on the North Shore Trail, I can just get right on it like before!

This blog post really resonated with me.  It makes a lot of sense, and I would add to it that the feelings of disappointment and embarrassment that come after not completing a goal makes it even worse.  At least for me.  Announcing my injury and failure to run this year's Pittsburgh Marathon was incredibly humiliating.  And I think it's because injury is always seen as an "at fault" thing where you're the one that screwed up and caused it and you should have been doing a million and one things to prevent it like foam rolling, stretching, hot yoga, the paleo diet, begging your fairy godmother, or offering up your first born.  I mean, even the most elite athletes get injured... some chronically so.  Life goes on.  But not announcing specific goals really makes sense to me... So, I'm not going to do it anymore.  I'm running MCM.  Yes, I want to get there injury free and finish the race without dying.  Any other specifics than that can reside deep in the nooks and crannies of my noggin. ;)  Oh, and I also have HUGE plans for running/fitness in 2016 - so much so that I already have my potential training plan penciled in (in a color coded spreadsheet.. lol).  We'll just have to see what happens there too.

I'm going to admit to struggling with something in regards to my running here.  I'm having a problem balancing heart rate training and accurate pacing.  I know that sounds screwed up, especially for me, but listen.  I'm starting to think that, especially immediately after an injury recovery period, my bones/etc might not be as caught up, or fit you could say, as my cardiovascular system.  I kept up my cardio really well during my non-running weeks.  I'm not seeing any loss of pace/fitness at all since my training for Pittsburgh.. in fact, I'm actually running statistically faster than I have in a very long time.  Now, I'm not feeling any injuries coming on (I'd tell you if I did), but if I keep running my long run by "long run heart rate" I'm running very near (and probably even faster than) what I believe to be marathon race pace... And I'm not sure that's a good idea.  Last year I did all my long runs between 9:20-9:40 and ran a 3:57.. so pretty damn close to the "30 secs faster than long run pace" theory.  When I was training for PGH, my long runs were a bit faster then the standard 30-60 secs slower method, but that's what the training plan required and that plan also required a good chunk of long run miles to be done AT race pace.  Now I'm not using that same plan, and this one specifically mentions "around 1 minute per mile slower", but up to this point I've been ignoring specific paces on everything except speedwork and running in my set heart rate zones instead.  My last two long runs have been 8:40-8:50ish.  I absolutely wholeheartedly do not believe that I can run a marathon 30 seconds faster per mile than that.  So, I'm thinking - at least for my long runs - to slow it down, no matter what my heart rate says.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I can't help but think that I need to let my whole body catch up a bit and I'm honestly just damn scared that I'm going to run a long run too hard too fast and then fuck myself out of another marathon which would in turn screw me out of all the awesome plans I'm looking forward to in 2016.  Maybe I'm just crazy.  I don't know.  I have 12 miles scheduled for tomorrow and I'm going to play around a bit but I think I'll make a decision on slowing down all further long runs after I see what tomorrow brings.

If you made it through this rambling, kudos to you!  :)

Happy running/racing this weekend!

Vince turned 9 the other day!  We had a fun party, went to one of his favorite restaurants, and played games (he's getting shrewd with his Monopoly skills)!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 4

This was my first cutback week  (yeah, I know - already?) of my MCM training plan.  The plan was pretty simple: deload, keep it easy.  For the most part, I did ok with that.  I do have to admit that it has been a pretty hectic/rough week around here personally and professionally.. Just yikes.

Monday: 3 mile recovery run on the treadmill.  For some reason this was really easy and I was able to go faster at the same heart rate as I have been lately!  Nice!  I usually see the impact of heart rate training/fitness in the pace of my recovery run before anything else, so it's nice to note this happening now.  After my run, I lifted shoulders, arms, and worked core as usual.  Since I'm taking it easy this week I only did 2 sets of each exercise instead of 3 and I decreased the weight on most of the exercises a bit.  I still got a good workout in, but it was honestly a nice change of pace to take a break, so to speak.

Tuesday:  6 mile tempo run.  Very inconsistent pacing.  The first two miles were within range but the next was nearly 30 secs per mile too fast, I recovered that a bit on mile 4 only to run even faster still in mile 5....   I'd be kicking myself in the ass over this if it wouldn't be for the fact that even though it was extremely humid I felt damned awesome during this run.  Like from start to finish it was all happy lovey runners high.  So why in the world would I tell myself the run was bad?  It wasn't.

Wednesday: Legs & Back.  This was a strange day at the gym, especially with the deload.  I really didn't feel like I did much, and while yes that is the point, it just felt weird.

Thursday: 4x800m repeats, equal time recoveries and warmup/cooldown.  Total of a tad over 7 miles.  Like Tuesday, I felt amazing during this run.  And like Tuesday, my pacing was terribad.  I could NOT slow down enough!  But here's the thing:  I wasn't even at max heart rate for the workout... so... I wasn't overdoing it either?  I don't know, but I felt great so again, I'm not going to beat myself up and call this a failed run.  Here's a milestone for you:  This is the fastest average pace for a run of this distance for me in around a year and a half.  I was shocked too.

Friday: I started off with 20 minutes on the treadmill at the gym.  I felt really good and got in over 2 miles.  Then I did my cutback chest, shoulders and core work.  After today I think what I'm going to do as time moves forward is have this as a run and core exercise day and then do an upper body and lower body split on my other lift days.  I rode for 10 minutes on the bike to finish this day's gym adventure.

Saturday: 8 mile long run.  This didn't feel like much of a long run at all, of course, but I wasn't about to fiddle with the plan.  I kept my heart rate nice and low in the zone and managed to crank out this run in an hour and ten minutes.  The weather was nice and it was sunny and beautiful.  I did my standard out and back and on the way back I ended up running into the herds of pace groups from SCRR.  I thought I recognized some people and it was cool to see others out there.  Although I did think to myself that I'd hate to start off my run that late... I much prefer getting done as early as I can.  I wish there was an earlier group that ran because I'd be all over that.  Then again, sunrise is coming later and later and with my new work schedule starting in a few weeks I may need to jostle things around anyway so who knows what I'll have to do.

Sunday: Rest.

It was good to have a stepback week but honestly I'm looking forward to cranking it up a bit.  I have really missed running long and logging lots of time on my feet.

This week I ran 26.23 miles (hey - marathon!  I just realized that lol).  Provided all keeps going well this is the last I'll see the 20s until taper.

Speaking of totals, since we are in August now (say what??) here are my July numbers:  21 runs for 107.3 miles - my first 100+ month since April!  Yes!  Gimme more of these!

12 weeks until MCM!

Random question:  If you were me, would you run a tester half marathon 6 weeks out from MCM?  If so, would you actually race it to get a fitness check in or would you do it as a marathon race pace run?  Just trying to think things through but am open to suggestion.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 3

It's time for another weekly recap!  It was a good week here.  I'm still being cautious (which is so hard) but I am feeling more confident and stronger all the time.  My mindset is if I'm going a little bit longer/stronger as we progress than I'm doing just fine.  I'm trying not to obsess so much over speed (again, HARD), but just let it come naturally without being forced. Speaking of which, I've been on my "rebuild" for over 7 weeks now, and between that and following what my training plan says this coming week will be a little bit of a cutback.  I'll be deloading some weights and decreasing a couple of runs (although I do get to add another 800 interval this week - fun!).

But before I get to future planning, here's how the last week went:

Monday:  4 mile recovery run at the gym.  I was just not feeling this run.  It wasn't that my body felt bad or anything I just wasn't mentally prepared to trudge on the treadmill, go slow, and deal with gym people.  But I got the miles in.  Starting a week from today I'll be doing this run outside... thank goodness.  However, my lift session (Shoulders/Arms/Core) after my run was awesome! When I got off the treadmill I noticed everyone left and I was alone in the gym!  Woohoo!  I hit new highs on both triceps extensions and on reverse grip barbell rows!  Yes!

All to myself!  Oh, and I think it is funny how people need signs all over stating obvious things like "Don't Drop the Dumbbells on the Floor".  You'd think the guys that frequent this place were little kids.

Tuesday: Another Tempo Tuesday.  2 mile warmup, 2 miles at tempo pace, 2 mile cooldown.  This one didn't feel 100% easy peasy but I'm blaming that on the fact it was in the 70s and eat your face humid again.  At 6 AM. ><  I still hit my target pace (a bit faster than, actually) so I win.

Red faced and hot.  Summer, I love you....

Wednesday:  Legs & Back.  Good workout as usual!

Thursday:  3x800m repeats.  2 mile warmup, equal recoveries for time, and cooldown.  All in all 6 miles.  My repeats went great (much easier than my tempo run).  Thank goodness for some cooler temps.  Although, I will say that I gotta slap myself in the wrist for going a little fast for a bit.  I just could NOT slow down even when I felt like I was.  It took a lot to bring that average pace down it seemed, and I still ended up around 10 secs/mile too quick.  I know that sounds like a minor offense, but add 10 secs per mile to the 26.2 (and we all know it's more than that for us crappy tangent runners) miles in a marathon and you're going to wear yourself out and bonk.  I've got to keep my focus on training my self control.  I have time to correct this and I will do my best!

Friday:  I put in 15 minutes on the treadmill for a little over a mile and a half before hitting my chest/shoulders/core workout.  That workout went ok but for some reason the gym was wicked crazy again and I had to use the next step lighter dumbbells for my presses because someone had them "saved" for their circuit training thing.  Groan.  After my ab session at the end I rode 15 minutes on the bike.  I have to say that I've appreciated riding the bike all these weeks but I'm happy to be moving away from it.  I find it incredibly boring and it never feels good to me like running (or even just walking) does.  I never get that high or good fuzzy feel thing happening.  It also tends to make my knees hurt... and I think that's because I set it up wrong or something, I don't know.  Of course, if I ever need to, I'll jump back on the bike instead of run in a heartbeat.  It is what it is.

Saturday: Long run.  I have finally "caught up" to my training plan so instead of increasing my miles again I figured I'd take the opportunity to run another 10 miler as the plan required, only this time try to do it without walk breaks.  I've only been doing run/walk for my long run for the past couple of weeks.  I really wanted to go to North park because I'm getting a little tired of the three places I've been running lately (and come on, North Park is perfect for a 10 - 2 easy loops!), but Nick talked me out of it.  He reasoned with me that I should give myself one more week of mostly flat terrain, especially since I was attempting to straight run long for the first time in months.  As much as I didn't want to, I agreed with him and just ran the North Shore Trail out and back.  Again.  I'm glad I did.  My run went well.. really well, in fact and I ran straight through - no walking.  And I actually ran a bit faster than last week's 10 with walk breaks.  But I did feel a difference - not bad, just different - so I'm glad I "took it easy" for this run.  I might try to do this coming week's long run at NP, but we'll see.  If not this week, definitely the week following!  I've gotta get my legs ready to Take The Iwo!

Sunday: Rest! (meaning go to the art and natural history museums with my boys and have fun!)

This week I ran 27.72 miles, rode the bike and hit new lifting PRs.  I call that success!

As of this writing there's less than 90 days to go until the 40th MCM!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Real Neat Blogger Survey

I think I'm going for a blog PR this week - this is my third post!  lol  Luckily I have some extra time on my hands but I don't expect it to last... I'm enjoying it while I can!

So I was tagged by my pal Shaun (if you don't follow him, it is a must.. trust me) to do this Real Neat Blogger Survey.  I've seen it circle around lately and was pondering answers to some of the questions as I read others, so I'm excited to be able to share.

First the Rules:
1. Put the award logo on your blog
2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you
3. Thank the person who nominated you, linking their blog
4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking their blogs
5. Let them know you nominated them

1.) If you weren't happy with yesterday, what would you do to change it?
Yesterday had a good start and a pretty shit end.   To change it I probably would have kept my cool better, and not be so quick to lose my temper and open my mouth.  Sometimes it's best to just walk away and not say anything at all... but sometimes I fail at that.  And....I'll just leave it at that.

2.) What is your favorite book?
The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama.  I bet that's a shock to some people.  It changed my life though, and I think it is a must read for every single person on Earth.

3.) What is your biggest success and biggest challenge?
Success:  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who did what they had written in our Senior Yearbook for the "what will you do after graduation" question.  I got the hell out of the backwoods, backwards thinking, everyone's nose in your business little town I grew up in and (with the exception of a very brief - and I mean less than 1 year return) stayed gone.  I feel bad for every single person who couldn't/can't escape that vacuum of misery.  I actually had a cousin write me a few years ago to tell me how much she admires and respects me because I'm "the only one that ever had the courage to get out".  Now I've struggled a LOT over the years to keep my head straight and above water but it has all been worth it.

Challenge:  I find it hard to give myself a break and chill out.  I always think I have to be doing something.  In fitness, I feel like I'm slacking if I'm not hitting PRs in lifting heavier, running faster, dropping bodyfat and building muscle, etc.  In other aspects I feel like if I sit here on the internet for too long I need to get up and clean for hours to compensate.  Or I shouldn't watch a netflix marathon, I could be writing out my meal plan for next week instead.  Just once I want to be perfectly ok with "I'm going to hang out in my PJs and do jack shit today".  I do that from time to time, don't get me wrong, but it's always coupled with terrible guilt and feeling that I just wasted production time of some kind.

4.) What does your perfect day look like?

See my challenge above?  Well, I just want to wake up one morning and not worry about all the things that need to "get done now".  I don't want to know what time it is, I don't want to have a schedule or a to-do list.  I just want to go with the flow and do whatever.  Laying in a hammock on an island somewhere with a high alcohol drink sounds good for starters.

5.)  What is your favorite memory?

This was the hardest question for me to answer because I have a lot of great memories.  For this I'll pick the night that my husband and I spent at Downtown Disney during our belated honeymoon.  I'm pretty sure I drank everyone in the state of Florida under the table and did a ton of crazy stuff but it was the best night ever and I would love to relive it.

6.) What is the craziest thing you ever done?
Ha!  Well I've done a ton of crazy shit, but for this I always say it is get married on a whim in Vegas at ten till midnight in the middle of January 2002.  My then-fiance and I were sitting at a Red Lobster one night planning our wedding.  It wasn't a fun process from the start and was just dragging along.  If you met our families you'd learn they are totally opposite.  My family is like something out of a Jeff Foxworthy show and his is a combination of The Sopranos and a monarchy.  They do not mesh AT ALL.  It made the whole "big wedding" thing just not fun.  And especially back in those days, Nick and I were all about just living it up and having fun.  Anyway, something else you need to know for this story is that I am terrified of airplanes.  Like OMG give me general anesthesia for this terrified.  Sitting in this Red Lobster in January 2002, I had never even attempted to get into a plane before.  Well, Nick leans across the table and says "I dare you to get on a plane and fly to Vegas and marry me right now".  To which my stunned self replied "now? like after dinner now?".  He said yes... and I grew some balls and said ok and we immediately went home, booked a flight, drove to the airport, and after a few connections we were in Vegas.  We didn't have a hotel booked, we didn't know where anything was, we were just there.  We got a taxi and got a good deal on a place to stay, then had a car take us to get a marriage license.  After the holy crap fast process it was to get a marriage license we started asking where we could go to get married real quick and we were directed pretty much across the street to the courthouse.  There we were married by some county clerk whose name we still laugh about looks and sounds like "masturbate", with the night guard Pedro as our witness.  We had no rings, we were wearing jeans and t-shirts, and I think the whole process took less than 20 minutes from license app to the kiss.  LOL  But yes, this is probably the craziest thing I've done.  Still afraid of airplanes, though.

7.) If your life were a movie title what would it be?  What the Hell is She Thinking?

8.) If you could do anything right now what would it be?

With regards to what?  What I want to do with my life or what do I want to do just this second?  Life: Be happy doing something that legitimately helps people and makes the world a better place, no matter what that is.  This second:  I want to make a brownie sundae and chill in bed and finish watching the rest of the season of Nurse Jackie.  But I'm gonna settle for oatmeal because I have to run in the morning.

As for who I tag - I'm gonna be a rule breaker and not be specific.  If you haven't done this survey, do it!  I love reading these and learning more about everyone!  I know we all do more than run and workout!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Current Gym Workouts

Hi all!  How's it going in beautiful Western PA (or wherever you're from)?  I'm having a pretty chill day today.  I had a heck of a busy day yesterday - which included taking a pee test for a new job so thanks again for all those positive vibes you sent a while ago!  Today I'm hanging out with my boys, having a cup of coffee, and contemplating life.  I like to contemplate life and plan/dream/scheme of what to do next, where my goals should lie, how I could use my time on this rock better.

Well, aside from my daydreaming, I wanted to share with you all my current routines in the gym.  These are nothing fancy, you don't need to be an expert lifter to do this, but access to a gym is kind of nice for some things.  Although, there are alternatives to most any exercise that can be done at home with lighter dumbbells, kettlebells, stability balls, resistance bands - even bodyweight!   So if you ever have a question, just ask!

I'm currently lifting on a 3 day split, which if you've been following my training you know.  Monday is Shoulders/Arms/Core, Wednesday is Legs/Back, and Friday is Chest/Shoulders/Core.  Right now I'd say I'm lifting moderately, not very heavy.  On these plans I take 45-60 second rests between sets.  If you're lifting light, take shorter rests - around 30 seconds.  Always start with some kind of warmup.  On days that I run first (Monday and now Friday), well, that's enough of a warmup for me.  :P  On non running days, I get on the elliptical or bike or any cardio machine and just get my heart rate up for 5 minutes.

I'm going to link in videos/descriptions of the exercises in case there's something you're unfamiliar with.  Most will come from which is an awesome resource.  You can see in the descriptions that there are often variations and/or alternative exercises given.  This has helped me out many times when I've found myself lacking the correct equipment or just simply not enjoying an exercise!

Standing Dumbbell Upright Row 3 sets of 10
Superset (a superset is when you do the next listed exercise immediately following the first and then take your rest.  Repeat for as many sets listed.):  
Standing Alternating Dumbbell Press
Front Raises 3 Supersets of 10 reps each exercise
Superset: Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Barbell Curls 3 Supersets of 10 reps each exercise
Superset:  Reverse Grip Bent Over Barbell Row
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 Supersets of 12 reps each exercise  Trainer tip: doing this workout at home and no incline bench?  Use your stability ball!  Not only will you get the same general effect, you'll add in a core workout due to having to engage those muscles!!
Plank - standard forearm at least 1 minute, but definitely more if you can!
Side Plank same deal as the forearm plank - try for one minute per side, but do more if you can
V-Ups  30 reps, but what I like to do to make these a little more challenging is add a few seconds of holding at the top of each, so sometimes I just go for time - usually 1 minute.
Stability Ball Crunches  20 reps

You can repeat the core 4 exercises 2-3 times as desired!

After my 5 minute cardio warmup, I like to activate the lower body muscles a bit more by doing 1 or 2 sets of 20 generic bodyweight squats before getting into the main part of this workout.
Leg Press  3 sets of 10  When the leg press is occupied or I'm not feeling it, I substitute Goblet Squats for it.
Superset: Deadlift
Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise  3 supersets of 10 DL and 20 raises
Superset:  Stability Ball Leg Curl
Step Ups  3 supersets of 15 curls and 10 step ups on each leg
Superset:  One Arm Dumbbell Row
Dumbbell Pullover  (make sure to initiate this from your LATS) 3 supersets of 10 each
Seated Cable Row  3 sets of 10
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown  3 sets of 10
Face Pulls  3 sets of 10 (sometimes 4, because I really love these lol)

Superset: Dumbbell Bench Press  Yes, you can use a barbell however, I'm trying to correct a slight weakness on the left side and don't want to "cheat" it on the bar.
Seated Dumbbell Press  3 supersets of 8 - This superset I go heavier on, therefore less reps!
Superset:  Incline Dumbbell Flyes
Front Raises  3 supersets of 10 each
Superset:  Incline Dumbbell Press
Side Lateral Raise  3 supersets of 10 each
Hanging Leg Raise or Knee Raise on Bars depending on gym crowd  20 reps
Stability Ball Pull In  15-20 reps
Stability Ball Crunches  30 reps
Toe Touchers  30 reps

As before, you can repeat the core exercises 2-3 times!

I'm happy to share my workouts with you.  Of course here in another two weeks I'll probably change them again, but I will post that when and if I do.

If you give any of these a try, let me know if you liked them!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 2

What a strange week.. Weather went from good to "Welcome to Hell" hot.  I got some really good runs in, I got my boy home from camp, got to spend a few family days together before sending my daughter off to camp, went to Picklesburgh, and watched Minions in the theater for the second time.

The details:

Monday: Super easy 4 mile recovery run followed by lifting arms, shoulders & core.  The gym was irritating this morning... I can't seem to put it into words without sounding very mean spirited/rude (this is at least the third time I've tried), so let's just leave it at there are a few people with very particular "gym stereotypes" that are grating on my nerves currently.  I obviously have watched too many BroScience videos on YouTube.

Tuesday:  Tempo run - 2 mile warmup, 1.5 miles at tempo, cooldown.  A little over 5 miles total.  This was a great run and again I surprised myself with how darn easy it was.  Winning!

Wednesday:  Heavy legs & back lift.  I think I finally have this workout solid.  I felt like I did enough and didn't too too much that it affected my running the next day.  Woohoo!

Wednesday morning we got Vincent back from camp!  I was glad to see him - even his mountain of dirty laundry and camp gear.  He wanted to do something fun together, so he conned us into going to Olive Garden for lunch followed by Minions (since Tori and Garrett blabbed that we took them to see it last week).  Minions is such a cute movie.  I will be owning it once it comes out.

Thursday:  800s.  Same deal as last week - 2 mile warmup, 2x800m with equal recoveries for time, then cooldown.  I feel more successful with this run this week than last.  Last week I "did it", but in reality, my pace was too fast at first, then slower to bring my average to where it was supposed to be on both intervals to compensate.  This week I was able to catch myself in the act quicker and hold a steady pace during the intervals.  This is what training is for!  Love it!  Of course the fact that it was really cool outside (mid 50s) was great too.

Friday:  Since last week's little warmup run test at the gym went well, I added 5 minutes onto it this week.  I ran a little over a mile in 10 minutes before lifting chest, shoulders, and core.  My lift rocked too - I'm finally hitting a stride with heavier front raises.  Rawr!  And does anyone else think hanging leg raises are ridiculously fun?  I love them!  They make me feel like a kid!  After my lift, I did 20 minutes on the bike.  Since I'm adding to the run, I'm taking away from the ride so I'm not doing too much.  It works out.

Friday evening we headed down to Picklesburgh.  Vincent was especially excited for this because he LOVES pickles.  And that's an understatement.  He eats more pickles than any person I've ever known (like bowls full of them), and even chugs the juice out of the jar.  We read online about all the cool things to see and do and EAT there and planned to have a great time.  Unfortunately it ended up being pretty disappointing.  The event was too crowded for the bridge.  You could hardly move a few inches without being pushed or knocked into.  Definitely a challenge with little kids.  Also - when we got there they were sold out of most of the pickle items!  WTF??  Pickle ice cream: Sold out.  Pickle dogs: Sold out.  Kid crafts: all out of those too.  Lots of non-pickle related stuff.  Poor planning, much??  The lines for the things that had yet to sell out spanned the entire way across and down the bridge.  Ugh.  We had pickle funnel cake that was tasty, but nothing special.  We also had some pickle Italian ice that was probably my favorite part.  There was a guy dressed as a pickle wandering around and some people were handing out the pickle pins that you could have gotten by going to the History Center.  But really, it wasn't worth the drive in, dealing with the crowd, paying for parking, etc.  Vincent left saying "I thought I was going to eat more pickle things".  :(

The giant pickle balloon was cool, but overall Picklesburgh was a fail.

Saturday:  I got up and looked at my weather app and it was already really warm.  When I started my run it was 75 degrees and 90% humidity.  I knew I was going to feel this one, and I did.  The goal today was to do 8 minutes running and 30 seconds walking intervals for 10 miles if I could.  I did!  I was grateful for those walk breaks at times, though.  The challenging miles were the ones on the trail by the stadiums where you're totally exposed and the sun was just beating down.  The run was much easier on the shady parts of the trail.  Don't hear me complaining too much, though.  I enjoyed this run.  I need these challenges to get back in the game with strength and confidence so I'll take what I get and work it.  Here's the best thing - I'm back into double digits and feeling great!!

That holy crap am I melting away feeling post 10 miles in brutal heat and humidity.

Saturday afternoon Tori got on the bus to go to camp.  She'll be gone for the next few weeks just as Vince was.  I miss her like crazy already.  It's amazing how you realize what place everyone holds in the family dynamic when one is missing.

Before getting on the camp bus!

Sunday: REST!  I slept in much later than usual.  It was great!

This week I ran 25.3 miles, rode the bike, and lifted like a boss.  I think next week is the last week I will use run/walk for my long run, but we will see.  If it stays hot like this, I may just leave them in for the relief (and the fact it is easier to chug fluids while walking)