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)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Things I'm Doing Differently

I've just wrapped up my second week of training for this year's Marine Corps Marathon.  Sundays are my rest day so I will be enjoying sleeping in tomorrow (well, as long as the boys let me - my morning helper Tori left for camp today).  Even though this is a repeat race, this year is different.  I'm coming into this training plan and this race in a different place physically and mentally.  I said this before, but I don't want to spend the next couple of months comparing and contrasting my performance from one year to the next.  It won't help anything.  My focus is ahead of me, not behind me.

So, I just wanted to post about a few of the things that I am (or at least am planning on) doing differently for MCM 2015.

1. Go With The Flow.  This one is a biggie for me.  Look, I'm an intense person.  Anything I do, I do it with my heart in it 100%.  This is awesome.  But sometimes this causes me to get all wrapped up in minute details and drive myself absolutely nuts.  It also causes me to shut out little signs and signals that I should do something else because I am so hyper-focused on that one thing.  I'm stubborn like that.  This year, I'm approaching every run with a "let's see what the day brings" mentality and celebrating whatever that holds.  Some days I'm feeling like a speedy Kenyan and the running is easy and it's easy to love it.  Others (like today when it's roasting hot at 6 am) I feel like I'm having to work harder and it's not nearly as fun, but I'm still trying to appreciate the run for what it is teaching my body and mind that day.  I'm not going to beat myself up if I have to slow down because my heart rate spikes or if I just don't "have it" on any given day.  I'm a human, not a robot.

2. Different Plan.  I'm using a totally different type of plan than I'm used to.  Partially to break the boredom and partially so it prevents any temptation to compare myself to last time.  One thing that drew me to this is that there are little to no short easy runs.  Not that short easy runs are a bad thing, but I'm liking the structure of having a Long Run, Recovery run, and then a tempo or pace run, and a Yasso run.  The 5th run day that I'm slowly going to creep in will probably be an easy run.  Last year, the Higdon-based plan I used had a lot of 3-4 mile easy runs. I added my own (well, ok Pfitz-lite) speedwork to the plan.   I learned during my training for Pittsburgh this year that I tend to do well and most importantly, really enjoy longer, more specific runs during the week.  So, we'll see how this goes!  I'm excited because it is all new!

3. Long Run Saturdays.  I've been doing my long runs on Sundays forever it seems.  I think it is because most stock training plans are written that way.  And I'm a creature of habit.  The only times I've really ran long on Saturday were due to running with SCRR or a race.  I just did my long run today (Saturday!) for the 4th time.  I love this.  I am liking having a rest day on Sunday.  I feel like I'm recovering from the week, catching up on sleep, and then I'm 100% pumped and ready to go on Monday.  I hope this trend continues.  I'm also looking at it this way - I'll have an extra taper day!

4. More Strength Training.  I'm still holding on to 3 strength training days a week.  I have had to restructure exercises and set numbers as well as get comfortable lifting a little lighter for recovery purposes.  But I'm still lifting, and lifting heavier than I did last year for sure. I will say that I do see a time in the future where I will have to cut it down to 2 heavy sessions and 1 strictly core/balance session, but I will cross that bridge later.  I believe this strength has really helped my running.  Even in the book Racing Weight it says, "Lifting very heavy loads is exactly what endurance athletes should do in the gym because it complements endurance training".  Now, something I am guilty of that the book states is unnecessary is doing multiple exercises for the same muscle group as well as multiple sets of all those exercises.  Those will be the things that get scaled down as my running increases, however.  So I don't think I'm in the wrong at this point.  Time and patience.

5. More Carbs Sooner.  In my last big post about carb loading, I had mentioned that I normally eat a fairly low carb diet on the off season due to living with a diabetic and that I slowly increase my carb intake as a racing season moves along.  That is still true... However, this cycle I am attempting to add a higher ratio of carbs to my diet earlier on and sustain a carb balance as guided by my training time and intensity.  I will say these last couple of weeks have been a little difficult for me realizing that I eat a buttload of protein and not nearly enough carbs as someone who trains as much as I do is "supposed to".  So, I've been reaching for more fruits and veggies, and trying NOT to load up on bullshit carbs in the form of crackers, pretzels and cake (of course as I'm typing this I'm drinking a beer.  Just being honest.)  I'm used to eating this much carb a lot later, but I have to tell you... I think there's something to it.  I'm not getting fatigued or bonking late in a long/hard run like I had sometimes in the past.  My speedwork is coming along great.  I feel like I have tons of energy to spare.  I took a GU along on my ten miles today and didn't even feel like I really needed it.  I'm even recovering well... which leads me to my next topic:

6. I'm regularly taking BCAAs.  When I did my heavy lifting program while I was injured I did all my workouts fasted.  After some research I bought some Alpha Amino by Cellucor and put a scoop of it in a big bottle of water to slurp on during my workouts.  This stuff is amazing!  First of all, the Icy Blue Razz flavor is freaking awesome.  But besides the taste - this stuff WORKS.  When I was doing fasted workouts it kept me going and feeling great.  My favorite perk, though, is that it speeds recovery and reduces DOMs.  I used to get terrible DOMS, especially when lifting heavy daily or after really hard runs.  Yeah, the foam roller helps, but not that much.  Ever since I started drinking this stuff?  NO MORE.  I get some mild DOMS here and there, particularly if I know I had shitty form on something or I did something radically new, but it is rare and not debilitating - even after leg day. And I'm not sore after runs at all.  In fact, I can go to the gym at the crack of dawn after a palm full of Cheerios, take my bottle with Alpha in it, and go through my 40+ minute recovery run, and then lift shoulders and arms and follow that up with Ab work and be totally fine through it.  In fact, I feel better when this workout is done than before I started.  I know a lot of people don't like to supplement, and I don't like taking a lot of BS either, but when I hit on something that works?  Heck yeah, bring it on.

7. Donuts.  One of my promises to myself is that this year I will eat the donuts at mile 24.  Last year I was out of my gourd by that point and about to slam headfirst into the wall. Even though I had planned on the donuts, I couldn't stomach them when I got there.  This year it is on!  I want Dunkin' to keep me runnin'!

8. I'll Pass On bRUNch.  As a first timer, I wanted to do all the cool things last year like go to the official shakeout run followed by the breakfast offered by the MCM.  It wasn't a bad event, don't get me wrong, but it was expensive and not something that I feel is worth a repeat.  Due to timing, it also prevented my kids from doing the MCM Kids Race.  A group of people in our Facebook turned Strava MCM club have planned to do our own little shakeout together the day before.  It'll be free, we'll get to meet up, and we can go where we want.  I can also plan to let my kids run their race, if they choose to.

These are different times, but it's getting me pumped up!  I love trying new things and making new goals and starting a new journey!

Here's to being Mission Ready in 14 weeks!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 1

Didn't I just write this post?  Has it really been a year already?  Damn.  Time really does fly.

Before I get to me me me, let's talk about a real badass: Scott Jurek.  Oh my goodness...  Unless you've been living in a hole you know by now that he broke the record for the fastest supported thru hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.  He is already a renowned ultra runner, has won Western States, held the 24 hour record (over 165 miles in a day at like 8:42 average pace?  I can't even fathom this - I haven't even been able to run a marathon at that pace), and is well known for Eat and Run because he is a vegan.  But this latest feat?  WOW.  Just freaking WOW.  I've been following him on Facebook and via a tracker he carried with him on the trail and have been simply inspired by it all.  He tweaked his knee just 50 miles in and could have called it quits then.  He kept going.  Due to overcompensating for the knee injury he tore a quad.  He kept going.  He battled illness.  He kept going.  All that shitty rain and winds - he still kept moving forward.  Those last few days he trudged on with very little sleep to crush the record.  He did it!  He just never stopped.  What an inspiration.  What an outlook on life, too - so many things can stop you and prevent you from your goals.  You can let them or you can do what Scott did and just keep on going.  It's amazing.  Makes me want to go vegan and run an ultra-marathon to get in on some of them feels.

That probably won't happen, though.  lol

Ok, now that my hero worship is over, I'll give you a brief rundown of my week.

Monday: 4 mile recovery run on the treadmill at the gym.  I'll be doing my recoveries on the treadmill these first few weeks, but as they get longer (and I decrease the weight training accordingly) I will move them outside like the other runs.  Overall - good run.  Afterward I did my shoulders, arms and core training.  I really like this workout.

Tuesday:  the plan called for 2 miles of warmup followed by 1 mile at tempo pace and a 2 mile easy cooldown.  This ROCKED.  I really had fun with this - being able to "go fast" again and have it feel that natural was like the greatest gift ever.

Wednesday: Legs and back day.  I changed this workout from before - I dropped some sets and some weight on a few exercises because I didn't feel like I was recovering well enough to run (or do much else) the day after in past weeks.  I still got in a great workout but I don't feel like I overdid it... too much.  This week I'm going to try another switcharoo in there and then I think I may have my winning recipe.  :)

Thursday:  2 mile warmup, then 2x800m repeats with equal time recoveries, then cooldown.  Another awesome run.  Even after leg day.  Even with the humidity.  I was so happy.  The hardest part of this run was holding back and not going all out because trust me, my legs wanted it bad!

Friday: Just because I'm crazy and wanted to test the waters, I used a little trot on the treadmill as my gym warmup.  I ended up going just under half a mile in those 5 minutes, but hey... little steps.  Maybe in a few weeks this will be another "real" run.  I don't know.  I didn't feel any worse off, though.  The lift today focused on chest, shoulders (yes I work the shoulders a lot - most people don't recognize how many separate parts there are to the shoulders and each needs specific movements), and core.  After that I rode the bike for half an hour.  All good.

Long Run #1 is in the books!

Saturday: I headed to the North Shore for my long run.  My plan this week was to do ten rounds of 7 minutes running/1 minute walking with a short warmup/cooldown as usual.  I got in 9 miles this week!  9!  And it was so easy and effortless and I felt like I could have kept on running.  It was so tempting to go for that nice even ten, but you know how my luck is.. lol.  I'm really trying to be a good girl about all this.  Anyway, I told my husband that just by how I felt I could have gone at least 12.

We're members so we go to the zoo pretty frequently.  I love the big cats.

Sunday: Rest day.  If you can call rest going to the park with the kids and showing off by doing strength work on the playground equipment.  And walking everywhere all day.

I did a lot of reflecting on my first week of training and I am pretty happy with it.  My biggest struggle is controlling myself.  The heart rate monitor helps with that but the temptations are great.  This week gave me a lot of confidence.  I am definitely not as bad off as I feared.  In fact, I dare say that I'm 95+% where I was before.  I'm not going to let myself push that extra 5% just yet though.  I'm happy easing into it with a few quickie miles in the training plan here and there and building on that.  This week's mileage was 23.7.  Last year this week was 23.5 (it was a cutback week between a 26 and a 29 mile week), so I'm really not that far off at all.  Hooray!  Other than just a brief look at numbers to see where I stand at the start, I really don't want to keep comparing this year to last.  It's a different year, different situation, different training plan, etc.

Look!  Proof I eat my veggies!  I added chicken to this, but beforehand it was just this awesome looking pot of kale, red cabbage, carrots, red onion, garlic, coconut oil and spices. Really I just love colorful food.  Beautiful food tastes better.  It does. 

15 weeks to go!
Yet another Mom & Tori selfie.  It's becoming our "thing", ok?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I worked out last week and went to the Endo!

Haha, since it is almost Wednesday it's really too late for a weekly review so I'm not doing an official one.  Plus, there's other stuff I want to talk about.  So if you want to read my drivel and see numbers and whatever head on over to DailyMile and get your fill.  Here's the short version:  I ran 19.4 miles last week.  Yep!  Felt good, started eliminating some walk breaks (in fact I did a 3 miler with only taking the first walk break before being ballsy enough to just run the rest), and I tested out some speed (all good there too).  I also did my three lift days and my bike ride and all is well there too.  All good in da hood.

Tori and I chillin' on the North Shore waiting for the 4th of July fireworks to start.  We just spent the afternoon at the Pirates game and we were in quite a goofball mood.

Yesterday morning (Monday), I had my appointment with my Endocrinologist.  If you recall, my Ortho was concerned about a hormonal underlying factor that may be contributing to my repeated stress injuries.  I am, afterall, working on just a partial thyroid since having a tumor excised in 2007.  I haven't noticed anything bizarre personally and my basic checkups have always been ok, but hey, anything is possible so I humored him with this appointment.  The Endo and I talked about everything from my diet to my previous eating disorder/habits, to my bowel habits (pleasant stuff, right) and my training history.  We did a recheck of family history, all the meds I've taken in the last 30 years, and my bloodwork and body composition trends.  Of course I don't look or feel sick and all of her poking and prodding in places didn't come up with anything so off to the lab I went.

I got tubes of blood drawn for not just my thyroid hormone levels but for calcium, potassium, Vitamin D, proteins, and the standard generic metabolic panel stuff.  The lab was working fast today and my doc had the results not even 2 hours later.  Everything is just fine!  If anything, my calcium is on the low end of the normal range, so my Endocrinologist recommends that I increase the dosage of the calcium supplement I currently take.  No biggie.  There seems to be absolutely nothing wrong with me.  I just have standard risk factors such as being thin framed, female, over 35, Caucasian, etc and on top of it I train more intensely than the average person and I'm silly enough to get carried away with it at times.  This is me.  But, I'm glad that's "all" the problem looks to be.  Now, she does want me to have a repeat DEXA scan.  I had one last February (2014) after my first round of stress fracture and reaction fun and insurance will only cover one every 2 years.  That one came out perfectly fine, and she sees no sense in trying to get approval for one before the 2 years is up so I will have the next one in February 2016 to see if my bone density has even changed at all.  She did say that even if I did show degeneration that there was still not much that would be different as far as treatment... the main thing is adjusting my training should problems continue to arise.  So, that's that!  As for today I am healthy and fine and looking forward to the journey ahead.

Speaking of journey that lies ahead:  This week is my official start to MCM training.  I had a great recovery run on Monday (bright and early before my appointment) and I had a freaking awesome "tempo-ish" run today.  By heart rate I was running in the 7s during my tempo mile (yeah, just 1 mile out of 5 - baby steps, ok? I'm already breaking my "no speedwork for a year after an injury" rule.  I can break my own rules.) and didn't feel like I was pushing ridiculously hard.  That's a good sign!

After Training Day #1.  I don't look that excited, but I was... I was just all hot and sweaty and stuff.

Coming into this training cycle I'm in a much better position than I thought I'd be.  Given the fact that I 1) made myself stop running when I did and didn't try to force the marathon even though it was right there and therefore stopped an actual break from happening, and 2) kept up my fitness in the gym and through walking and other crosstraining, I didn't have to start from zero.  So I'm "coming back" (I don't really want to use that term) much faster this time around than in 2014... I'm still being careful and conservative with my runs.  Part of it is fear, I won't lie.  I'm still looking to have a strong finish and not so much worry about matching or beating last year's time.  But I'm happy that I'm not feeling like crap and having to start with c25k all over again!

I know I've described it before, but my plan starts out with 4 days of running per week with the option of working in a 5th easy or recovery paced day when and if I feel ready to.  But in general I will have 1 recovery run, 1 "tempo" run, 1 800m repeat workout (good ol' Yassos), and a long run.  I will have 3 strength training days - two will have specific core focused exercise during them.  One day will be straight lifting - no cardio.  One will coincide with my recovery run, and one will have my crosstraining (bike) day added to it.  My biggest struggle is balancing the lifting and the running.  Already I've had to cut back a bit on the lifts because, especially after leg day, I didn't feel like I was able to recover fast enough to feel 100% for the next day's activity.  So, this week I played around with cutting down some supersets and eliminating some things in favor of others.  This has worked out, but I can still sense that as my running mileage increases I will need even more leeway to recover.  I'm staying flexible, but if I need to cut the weights down to two days per week, either doing two total body circuits or one day upper/one day lower that will be fine.  I just don't want to quit heavy lifting altogether.  I like the way I feel and look with the muscle.  I also feel like I'm carrying my running posture better.

I know I mentioned above that I'm starting to eliminate my walk breaks, but I do intend on keeping them around for my long runs for another couple or three weeks if not more.  They force me to keep the pace slow and they really do give the body a break, so they have a very worthwhile benefit to me right now.  I'm going to keep increasing my run time, though.  This week's long run will be a 7:1 ratio.  We'll see where that gets me. :)

Something else that I'm doing differently this time around is I'm just letting myself have fun with it and not take everything so damn seriously.  Yeah, it's fun to break records.. yeah, it's fun to go fast (sometimes), and yeah it's fun to run lots and lots of miles and feel that wonderful exhilarating exhaustion that comes after a long or hard run... But a major flaw I have is taking it to an extreme of number/data crunching and running (pun intended) scenarios in my head and playing mental chess with myself over what ifs.  I may sound and look like I'm just having a freaking blast with it, but it is exhausting and I don't want to get to that point.  That goes for the speedwork, the mileage increases, the adding another run day, the practice half marathon I'm contemplating, and even the heart rate training.  If I need a break, if I need to just have some fun and remember why I've been willing to injure myself several times over for this silly sport then I'm going to do it - whether that takes the form of a rest day or an easy run in place of my tempo or tossing out the heart rate monitor for a run here and there or whatever.  Also - I've been contemplating not oversharing... I might not always post up my paces or I might not post up a verbose overly analytical weekly recap every freaking week on top of Dailymile, Strava (yeah I got suckered into another account because my MCM social circle decided to make a group on there.  It's actually really freaking cool and puts DM to shame), etc. I'm not trying to be antisocial, I'm just trying to stay sane and not obsess over the numbers... the paces and the mileage and the intervals and the cadence and the heart rate and the dates....oh those numbers... (I probably should have been a mathematician or something lol).  I just want to have fun.  Do my very best with what I've got, absolutely.  But that doesn't mean driving myself nuts, right?  I'm just your normal (lol - come on you have to laugh) middle aged mom who happens to love running as a hobby and knows a little bit about some stuff.  That's all.

MCM Goals: Healthy at the starting line.  Happy during training.  Beat the bridge.  Eat the damn donuts this time.  Do not walk ONE STEP of the Iwo.  All the rest is just details that will fall into place.

Oh, in other aspects of life - thanks to everyone who sent out positive vibes for me regarding my interview I mentioned.  I think it went pretty well, but we'll see.  Needless to say I've been job hunting.  I enjoy personal training, but a full steady income it is not and I need to get back out there making some real stable money.  Kids are expensive.  lol  I'm just kidding (actually, no I'm not), everything in life is pricey these days and I hate feeling like I'm not doing much.  I'm a busy body and I like having a ton of things to do.  Dead time and me don't get along, so I'm always looking for something to do.  I'd rather be getting paid for it, of course. ;)  I'm actually pretty excited because I've got a couple of leads that seem promising.. Of course, who knows.  Time will tell.

 That's what's happening here.  It's marathon training time! (again)

Meatball is still not a fan of kids going to camp.  We packed another bag for another camp session and here she goes with the "no! Don't Go!" thing.