pushing through boredom and hills

I actually had Memorial Day off, and planned to do hill sprints of the most dreaded hill in Raleigh.

Okay, maybe that’s harsh, because it is a beautiful neighborhood, and I often see other runners doing the route, regardless of this hill.

Fairview

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However, the hill sucks. Over the course of 0.75 miles, you are basically going uphill, ranging from 2% to 11%. For Raleigh, that’s about as hilly as they come.

I drove to a little shopping plaza that was closed for the holiday, and jogged to the bottom of Fairview.

It looked like the largest grade was about 0.3 miles long, from “lowest” to “highest” (though it continues further in either direction, this was the steepest section).

I turned around, took a deep breath, and started up this hill. I’ve done this hill many times in the middle of a run, but never as hill sprints, so I had no idea how hard it would be.

The first one was hard, but my legs felt “springy” despite my somewhat speedy 9.5 miles Saturday and shake-out Sunday. I got to the middle area, where it gets much steeper before leveling off, and kept pumping. Eventually, I was to the top, and lapped my watch- 3:08!

Wow! I am not sure what I expected, but thought I’d be forced to drop to a 12:00 pace, as that is the pace I drop to when in the middle of a run. Sweet, 3:08 must be under 11:00…

I got through two more without having to walk down the hill. By the third “sprint” I was tired. But, mainly, I walked to make sure my heart rate dropped back to a reasonable rate before my final sprint. I picked it back up to a jog halfway, and prepared myself mentally for my final sprint.

It took every mental strength (and physical) to push. I wanted this one to be my fastest. And, more importantly, I just wanted to be done with these sprints. I finished my last one in about 2:51. I was excited, but more importantly done. I jogged back to my car, and reveled in my “I did this” glow.

I took Tuesday night off, and last night struggled to get through 5.5 miles. I knew I was lacking the strength to get in a good, strong run, so I turned the screen on my garmin off. I don’t like true “blind” runs, because I like to know what the pace was after (if a 10:30 felt hard, or a 9:30 felt easy…). I went for about an hour, but hit my end point in the loop at 57 and a half minutes (I checked it). My overall pace was 10:20, and I actually didn’t feel horrible, or horrible about the pace. My thoughts had lead me through the miles. I just had to keep pushing through the bored-feeling.

I think everyone has runs that aren’t inspiring. Especially following a faster or harder workout. It’s normal. It’s fine. I think the big thing is not being content with being bored. You don’t want every run to be something you struggle to get through, but it is okay to push through it. I need to start pushing through the ugh at the end of my runs. We have this massive, but short hill (maybe a couple tenths of a mile?) to get all the way back home. I usually walk when I get there, and justify it as a nice cool-down. I think it will help me get through a painful last 0.1 mile of a half marathon if I can just run up the final hill (even if it’s slow).

 

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Long run reunion

This week, I got a great Facebook message. Honestly, I usually loathe these messages, and look for the easiest way to ‘opt out’ of receiving these. But this time, it was from a dear friend and old training buddy (to a bunch of us), asking who was interested in a long run. I was delighted!

I’ve been struggling to get past ten miles solo. At a slower pace, it takes, well, longer than at a faster pace (go figure!).

So, at 8am, 8 of is met, and reminisced, as 8 gps synched (does gps need an extra s if plural?), then started our run. If we could have, we would have ran 8-wide. It has probably been a year or longer since we all ran together. I floated from line to line, talking to everyone. The first three miles were so slow and easy, as we all chattered and caught up, joking and teasing each other. These people are my running family. It was a running reunion!

Eventually, my legs were good and loose and the 11-11:30 pace wasn’t quite fast enough. Something I realized as Jarod and I chattered away about various life, politics, kids, dogs, etc. we turned around a few minutes later, and the rest of the group was way back. Whoops! Well, let’s keep it up, and catch ’em at the turn-around. Except they turned around early, so with just Jarod and I, we pushed a 9:30 pace to finish out 9 miles and a little (steep) hill by the lake, to walk it in.

Not the 12 miles I had planned. But I am so happy with my mileage. And more so, to see old friends.

Now, at the pool, I am relaxing gloriously with my own nuun concoction. It always soothes me- wine (or champs) with strawberry lemonade, a pour of vodka, and splash of bourbon. Strong, sweet, and rehydrating. Oh, and add ice for pool.

What a beautiful day!20140524-135643-50203264.jpg

sometimes I cycle…

In coming back from an injury, I’ve decided to cross-train much more often. And, by more often, I mean once or twice per week. [Look, it’s hard to find time to cross-train, AND add miles to my running]

So lately, I’ve been cycling on this great virtual cycling machine in our gym. It basically mimics a course (with about 30 to choose from, 1.0 mile to 10 miles, and flat to 40% grades).

The first time I hopped on, I was a mess. Clearly. First, I didn’t know how to get the machine turned on. A neighbor (who I’ve met at the pool, but space on her name, and she lives in my building) showed me how to turn it on. Good start.

I thought doing 4-5 miles should be “easy” and I should be able to get them done in like 20-30 minutes. I used to ride my dad’s old stationary bike at about 17 mph, so this really wasn’t too far-fetched.

I picked the first of the moderate level (distance dictates level), and it was about 4 miles long. City Express or something.

OH MY GOD.

It was the hardest ride of my life. I’m not sure what city it was depicting, but my best guess is San Francisco, or maybe Denver or something? It started out with a 12% grade, and it just kept getting steeper and steeper. It got to about 38% continuous grade when I started thinking man this some bulls***! I jumped off 2.xx miles, and 20 minutes into the ride. Yep, I was going, on average, about 6-8 mph. I had been huffing and puffing the whole way, and felt like a real amateur.

But, surely, they weren’t all that hard.

So, a few days later, I tried one of the easier courses, 3.3 mile Beachside Bluffs, and it was fun. Maximum grades about 15%, and it felt easy, and I was done in 15 minutes, and I even ran for a couple minutes after.

Last night, again, cycled 2.93 miles (higher grade changes, maxxing at about 25%, but not for too long). Then, I did 15 minutes of strength training, all-over. And called it a night.

The thought has occurred to me I will have to run more than 3 miles at a time on weeknights if I want to eventually build to about 30 miles per week (plus two strength training/ cross-training sessions).

Hard work ahead.

The other thought that has occurred to me is I am doing all the parts of a tri… swim (though not since last summer, because I’m lazy and come up with a slew of reasons not to get to the pool, including it closing May-August this year), cycle (indoors), and definitely running. Hmmmm….

Unrelated, I signed up for my fifth half marathon- Crawlin Crab in October. And I’m pretty stoked about it. Still hoping for a PR, even if it’s not sub-2:00 yet. I’ll decide a goal once I actually start training at the 20-30 miles per week plus cross-training.

When to run, and when to rest

Last week, I felt great.
ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
Monday night, Dan and I did a typical run. I tend to go a little faster with him (don’t want to hold him back). Tuesday was ‘sprints’ but it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity, even at 630pm. So I decided to just go sprint intensity/ exertion. This meant my ‘sprint pace’ was about 8:00-8:30. My 400s were 1:55, 2:21 (uphill), 2:05, 1:59. The last time I did 400s, it was 1:30-1:45, but I’ll take it.
Tuesday, my throat was also sore. But it was just a sore throat, so I thought easy 400s wouldn’t bother it.
Then, Wednesday, I woke up barely able to swallow. I figured the pollen in the air on my run aggravated my throat. I went to work, later came home, and took a 2-hr nap.
I probably could run through this. Or even cross-train. But, I don’t have any upcoming races. I’m still in the building weeks. So, it brings the question of when do you lay off your training? And here’s my thoughts (not a professional):
Don’t workout if
1. If you have to stay home from work
2. If you are having trouble breathing
3. If you have stomach or digestive issues (nausea, vomiting, etc)
4. If you are having coughing attacks
5. If you don’t want to workout
(Even I wanted to, little Archerman wouldn’t let me leave)
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The last one is the most important. If you are sick, and no longer feel like working out, then don’t. Take it easy. I’ve done both- ran when sick and laid around all day when sick. Trust me, you will not regret this run.
It is okay to do easy stretching, slow yoga, walking, maybe light Pilates/ strength training. Think about it like recovery after a race; you can do what you feel capable of doing. One or two or even three missed runs will not ruin your entire training. It takes two weeks to lose your fitness level. And, if you don’t allow your body to recover, you may just extend the recovery process to a full two weeks.
I plan to get out for a walk around the neighborhood. But that’s it. I skipped yesterday’s planned cross-training, and am skipping tonight’s run. And may go slower and shorter Saturday (long run day). There will be a lot of these today–

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Note to self: Less Beer (maybe)

Dan and I were planning for a relaxing Friday night, watching an outdoor movie at the Art Museum. However, at 745, the sky opened up and it started pouring. The idea of watching an old movie for $7 inside the Art Museum seemed lame. So we scrapped that plan, and headed to Raleigh Brewing Co.
I’ll do a quick beer review, while I’m at it. Dan and I got the Big Squeeze which is a wheat beer fermented with orange juice in the brewing process. Like a sophisticated Blue Moon. They did a similar beer last year, but I think it was an American Pale Ale, so it had more punch. I liked the Big Squeeze. I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10 for my taste. For a drinkable summer beer, it was great. I think I’ll have to try it after a group run there. It was really well executed.
Mainly, I forgot how much wheat beers affect me the day after. I had two beers, and woke up feeling like I had 7. Note to self, next time.
I was intending to start my long run ‘regimen’ Sat morning. And make it a habit to run, starting 7-9am.

That didn’t happen.

After a failed attempt to get started, I managed to get my butt out of bed Sunday morning. With dreams of a Bloody Mary to get me through a long run, I got up.
Sunday morning seemed like an omen for a bad run. I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed or checking the time, as the sun shone through the blinds in our bedroom. I finally rolled out of bed at 730, after Dan had started the coffee.
I finally got out the door at 9, and didn’t feel too great (GI).
As soon as I got downstairs, I had to pee. I took off running anyway. I made it about a quarter mile to a wooded creek area, squatted under a bridge, and hoped no one came around the bend.

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Then, finally, I was really off. And hoping I wouldn’t have to drop a deuce on the run too (which would be a first).
I kept my pace in the 10:50s, and let me legs guide my pace. Some uphills felt harder than others. On a few uphills, I felt peppy and dropped my pace a little. I was even able to drop my final mile to a 9:48. Another ten miles done. And I walked almost a mile back to our apt as a cool down.
It was hard. It was hot, but I felt good after it was done. I earned my blood Mary today. When I finished, I felt like I had rolled in sand. I am such a heavy sweater, and a very salty sweater.
A couple good things about this run- I didn’t chafe. At all. That’s unusual for me for a hot long run. The overdose of Ointment A&D must have worked. I also didn’t get any blisters, which is unheard of on long, hot, hilly runs. I had a little something left at the end. And I love long runs like today. They boost my confidence. I also didn’t experience any abdominal pain, which is always fabulous.
This week, in general, was a good workout week.
17 miles
(3 miles of 8x200s, 4 miles easy, 10 miles long)
2 cross-training days
(500ft gain in 2 miles on the bike Wednesday and 3.33 miles Saturday)
My goal for this summer is to add 1-2 more runs per week, while maintaining cross-training.

Gotta cut foot loose!

My favorite running songs

Countdown of my favorites. A little something fun for your Friday.

10. Romans Revenge (Nicki Minaj w/ Eminem)

Really for the beat. It matches my tempo/aim cadence perfectly. Not uplifting, more of a cocky and angry mixture. I’m the mother-f****ing boss! Mostly for the beat, but a lot of Nicki Minaj fit because I like to feel little cocky during a longer run.

9. Milkshake remix (Kelis)

I’m not sure who the remix is by, but it’s my JAM! It’s traditional Milkshake, but double time. Note: I like things like sirens in my workout songs. If I feel like I might be going into space, then it’s perfect. Not really, but there are a few on my playlist.

8. Six Foot Seven Foot (Lil Wayne)

I’m actually surprised there is not more Lil Wayne on this countdown, because when I am running, I feel like I just listen to Lil Wayne. He’s not the best role model by far. But, it’s a good beat- steady, with enough changes during the bridge, that I will sometimes hold a sprint speed during the bridge to push my pace a little.

7. This is the remix (Girl Talk)

Girl Talk, in general, is great for running. They do mash-ups of older classic songs with newer pop and hip hop songs. This is a mashup that includes some other songs on the list, but always helps me tune out for 6 minutes.

6. Pretty Girl Rock (Kerri Hilson)

Has a good beat, and is upbeat. This came on one time during a hellacious half marathon I did, and it got me into a good steady step, and lifted my spirits a little. Isn’t that the epitomy of a good workout song?

5. Dance/ A$$ (Big Sean)

Confession: Pretty much any song that is relating to bouncin dat ass or droppin it low pumps me up. This song is no different. And it makes me smile when it’s blasting in my headphones, because I am a tiny little preppy white girl, and I imagine what people would think if they knew what was playing at that time.

4. Move B**** (Ludacris et. al)

Ever been in a crowded race, and just wished people would get out of your way, so you can open up your stride and really run? This song is my anthem for those races. Even if I don’t have my music, I sing this in my head while passing people who are clearly not in the correct pace group (Probably not their fault. They probably don’t know that bit of race etiquette). I also feel like such aggression must be backed up with speed to actually pass people. It doesn’t hurt that I literally know every word to this song.

3. Get Low (Lil Jon ft Ying Yang twins)

One of the raunchiest songs ever. I remember hearing this in high school, and cringing at the lyrics. Three, Six, Nine, Damn she fine! She can sock it to me one more time! To the windows! To the wall (to the wall)! Til sweat drop down my… You remember it now? It is awful. But something about the yelling of it all gets me moving a little faster. Also, during strength training, it encourages me to get low in squats and work my flexibility with lines like Bend over to the front! Touch yo toes! Bounce dat ass up and down! And get low (get low). I also like the repetitive nature, so you have opportunities to get caught up in the particular movement. I hope you can detect my sarcasm about this whole description. But, this song does get me hyped for some reason. I don’t get it either. It just does.

2. Machinehead (Bush)

Is there anything more important that a 90s rock song reminding you to Breathe in Breathe out over the sounds of grunge guitar. It’s not meant for sprints, but then, I don’t usually listen to music on sprints. Just a great song, altogether. So why not be at/near the top of the list? It’s chorus is perfect for long runs, and slow enough that it doesn’t ‘push’ my pace, but reminds me to re-focus on my breathing and listen to my body. Also, a great song, in general.

1. Footloose (Kenny Loggins)

This song always takes me back. When I first started running, I would just play my iPod on shuffle, and sometimes it was a hit. Sometimes, not. This song came on randomly as I was rounding Shelley Lake, getting ready to finish my long 4 mile run (At the time, 4 miles was phenomenal). When I first heard it, as I was running, I thought gah! no! and almost skipped the track. However, I was almost done, so I let it play. And, it has always been my favorite ever since. It has a good strong beat (somehow that’s under-appreciated in workout mixes), I know all the words, and I can picture Kevin Bacon running through the “barn” or “train house” or wherever it was he was running.

Which, reminds me… If you haven’t seen this- you should. Kevin Bacon (in 2014) on Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, re-enacting the entire video/song. FANTABULOUS!

Before you judge my list, what songs would you add?

 

my 1-mile track creation

Last night, my plan was to do 8x200s. There are only a few local tracks “open” to the public. I still don’t fully understand why I can’t run sprints on a track I spend tax dollars on, as long as it’s not in use… There is a track RIGHT behind our neighborhood, but it is a private school, and there are often events going on weeknights.

So I decided to run around the PNC arena. I mapped it out at work- it was about 1.5 miles to jog around once. I thought this would work nicely. So when I got home, I laced up my fast shoes, and jogged the half mile there. Then began the sprints. I think the last time I did sprints, we ran 400m, about a year ago, and my legs were still fast enough to compensate for my weakening cardiovascular strength. And we finished them in around 1:30. I was thinking these 200s should be around 1:00, but, really I just wanted to get a good baseline.

I used my garmin, to track by 0.12 (or 0.13) miles, so it may have been off slightly. I forgot I could switch it over to meters until I was finishing up and looking at my numbers.

You can easily do the same- found a somewhat-flat loop, anything from 0.5 to 1.5 miles usually works fine. I occasionally ran sprints at my old apartment complex, which had a half mile stretch of flat road from the entrance to my apartment. However, if you plan to run back and forth on the same stretch of road, you have to have an insane amount of determination and will power. You will be sweating and panting, and your legs may even be shaky and feel like giving out, while your neighbors are on their patios, enjoying a beer, talking with friends, eating, sometimes even grilling out nearby.

My loop around the arena seemed logical. It was mostly flat, but an occasional +/-30 ft here or there.

Lap 1.

This actually doesn’t feel too bad. It feels good to run fast. How fast am I going (glance down at watch and see I only have 0.05mi left, something in the 7:30s). Alright! Ugh. Little hill. Keeping pushing! And done!
[0:57]
Jog it off. Hoping I will get up this mini-hill before the next interval. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Oh, bikers. Excuse me, cyclists. Wow, they are going fast. Ope! Time again…

Lap 2.

Just try to keep it around a minute. 1:05 is fine too. Just push it. Seriously more cyclists? Where am I supposed to go? There are 20 of you, coming at me at 25mph. Alright good. Now that the cyclists are gone, and hill gone, time to kick it in…. And, 0.13mi.
[1:04]
Alright, and jog it out. That didn’t feel too bad. I mean it was uphill. I wonder how much? Hmmm… Oh, there’s a sidewalk. … Oh wait, that sidewalk goes to the parking lot; not to another sidewalk. Guess it’s back to the road again. Crap! I missed the interval… (0.14mi “recover”)

Lap 3.

Turn it up on this one. Go hard!… Ugh. Hard sucks. No, really. This sucks. …How much longer? Phew, only 0.05miles. I love 200s! …And done!
[0:55]
Shake it out. Go easy. [Stomach] starting to cramp a little. You can always walk these recovery intervals if needed… And, need to make sure I don’t miss this interval start.

Lap 4.

Wow, breathing. Just get into it. Ugh, this sucks. What number am I on? Ugh. Ugh. [panting gasping]. Ooooo. Cramp! Try to keep a decent pace, and get under a minute…
[0:58]
Nice. Okay, and walk, and stretch. And I can do a full 0.25mi recovery if my breathing isn’t right yet. Just keep breathing… Deep breaths. Oooo, I’m about to turn on Trinity; that means a downhill interval. Woo! Those are SO MUCH FUN!

Lap 5.

God! This feels SO MUCH easier than an uphill sprint. hahaha. I could get used to this. (Yes, I think I laughed and smiled on this one). Just let go. Legs are responding. That cramp is gone. This is great! Downhill sprints are so much fun!
[0:53]
Holy crap! 53 seconds! That’s awesome! I’ll pretend it wasn’t downhill the whole way, and walk some to make sure that cramp is gone. Ugh. Cramp still kinda there. I’ll go 0.25 this recovery. Wait, what number am I on? Was that 5? Three more? That’s it. No, I must be doing my math wrong… Time to go again.

Lap 6.

Just keep your pace in the 7’s, and keep going. It’s hard, but it feels good.
[0:56]
And rest. Walk… Okay, pick it up to a jog. Yes, a little crampy, but I am breathing hard. It happens.

Lap 7.

I zoned out a little. Not sure what happened on this one.
[0:59]
Well, at least I was under a minute still. Okay, time to jog up that hill, then sprint down it for a good-feeling final sprint…

Lap 8.

Maybe I should do one more…? These actually felt pretty easy. Am I putting on the brakes? Body, you can go fast down this hill. It’s okay. And push it. Easily in the 6’s. Nice.
[0:48]
Oh my god. I’m down. God, no, I am not doing another one. Why did I think that was a good idea. Okay, pick it up to a jog. And just make it up that stupid hill to get home.

 

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Looking back, I am so proud. I finished 8x200s. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish those when I put it on my training calendar. And they were decently fast. And I was without pain (for the most part).

Side note: I got home, and went to the fridge for something cold, and ended up grabbing a pickle slice. Oh my god. I totally understand why some people drink pickle juice after hot/ long runs. It was so delicious, I grabbed two more slices. I haven’t started drinking the pickle juice yet. Maybe in July…

Today, my legs are a little tight. But, not too bad. At this stage, my legs tend to be stronger than my lungs/ breathing. And truthfully, my ab is a little sore today. But, my abs are really weak from my injury, and this sore is a “I worked out” type of sore.

I am also trying to get serious again about my eating. All my pants and fitted skirts are tight. Like hard-to-breathe-tight. I could spend a ton of cash on new clothes, or just re-focus on my eating habits. Anyway, so no beer last night. Just pickles. Followed by a delicious cheese(turkey)burger and crackers. And milk. And, no I wasn’t starving myself. And I wasn’t hungry.

Yay for the first round of speedwork in close to a year!

how to squeeze in a long run

This weekend was a wedding weekend. Like all of our other weekends this spring…

We're nerds. Normal smiles are soooo 2013.

We’re nerds. Normal smiles are so 2013.

It was beautiful, but in Asheville, which is 4 hours from us, so we felt like someone stole our weekend 🙂 Let me say- I love Asheville. It’s beautiful, has good food, and good beer (it’s the heart of craft brews for the Southeast). We went up to Asheville to meet my friend’s fiance, and hang out for the weekend in January. I went up by myself the weekend before the wedding, just to have some girl time with the bride-to-be (one of my old best friends from college).

Friday I had planned to work from home for a little, and double up two mid-distance runs. I opted out of the morning run, and the afternoon run was … interrupted (We’ve all had those runs where you feel like you are racing your digestive system to get to a toilet). So Friday afternoon’s run- a shorter 5.5 miles. Still a good distance. But, not the longer run I’d hoped for when I laced up.

So, Saturday, we headed out bright and early- at around 9am, with the hopes of squeezing in a brunch before the 3pm wedding. The wedding was beautiful. I got a little teary-eyed, having known the bride for ten years, and knowing all that lead to her meeting a good man, and to this day. Dan and I went to bed early, and got up early for breakfast. Except our planned place didn’t open until 9am, and it was 840. We walked around the block for 10 minutes, and suddenly, BAM! There were like 40 people, and apparently a “list” we were not on. So, we walked around the corner to a place without a line. And, it was delicious.

Then, we hit the road at about 10am, and would be home by early afternoon. Dan and Bruce were planning to do 13 miles in Umstead on Sunday, so I joined the peer pressure, and decided on doing a mid-to-long run.

For once, I didn’t plan anything. I went out into Umstead, hoping to be inspired by the springtime beauty. I planned to do an out-and-back, and all along the way “out”, I kept pushing my turn-around. I guess I was aiming for 8 miles or something.

Umstead is gorgeous- an oasis away from the city, but so close to everything. The sun was gleaming through the trees. The trees were all different shades of green, depending on how the sun hit the leaves. I purposely didn’t bring my phone (music), and I made sure to bring my camelbak, so I could go as far as I wanted. I say it was beautiful weather- but it was around 75, even if that’s shaded.

I ran all the way from our side to the other of the 5500 acre park.  This is about 6 miles from our entrance, where I started. I ran on the bridle trail, which is more like dirt road than a single-track trail. I like that, because it’s not too technical, so you can usually stretch your stride out and get comfortable. You still have to watch for loose gravel, dips in the trail, and the delight horses leave behind. There are also some serious hills in Umstead.

The run itself sucked. My legs felt like they were hardly moving. And I wasn’t having difficulty breathing, but had difficulty finding a solid, fast-but-easy pace. So, by 5 miles in, I settled on a decent 11:00 pace. Meh, it really is hilly, and mostly uphill on the way out (including one hill that lasts for almost a mile, and is about 200 ft gain. That hill hurts anyone’s pace. And the gravel always makes me slower- less push off I guess.

When I first ran, I would run for a while, and then stop and walk. It served as a cool-down, but also a great time to take in the scenery, and become meditative. So I decided to do that on this run. It’s a great time to be unplugged, and enjoy the scenery. This section of Umstead goes past Reedy Creek Lake, which you can see through the trees, as you walk along it.  I walked the last 2.5 miles back to my car, and I felt great- calm and content. My mind just felt settled. I felt free by not putting a goal or limit on my running or being hung up with my pace. My overall pace ended up being 11:03, but I honestly didn’t think I would get through 8 miles. I ended up going 9.57, plus the 2.5 walking back.

Side thought- There was a run the other night, at dusk. I was running next to the horses, plodding my way up this hill, and they picked up next to me. They started racing each other and playing with each other. Their free spirit- I love seeing that when I run. It’s one of the reasons I love that entrance of Umstead- it backs up to the NC State Vet school (where they “house” the horses, and cows, and goats. etc).

 

 

April/ spring look-back

The past couple days, we have been experiencing crazy weather here in Raleigh (like, flash-flood warning Mon-Thursday, and tornado warnings and watches, with eery skies).

That means two things-

1. It’s not a time to test out longer distances outside
2. Everyone and their mom were in the gym this week (as in 5 of 6 treadmills, 3 of 4 ellipticals, and all 3 bike machines ocupado).

I went to the gym yesterday for a killer circuit workout (killed my legs a month ago, but was okay this week): 3x 0.2mile sprint, 20 calf raises (8 lb weight), 20 overhead presses (8 lb weight), 20 jump squats (8 lb weight… yes this was the hardest part), 20 back-kick leg extensions on each leg (no weight necessary), in case you were wondering…

And I am at ~59 miles for the month, and a few thoughts immediately followed–

I cannot believe I am only logging 16-20 miles per week, mixed with Holy crap! I am so glad I am finally logging 16-20 miles per week!
How many miles did I log each month? Was April more or less? So, here is my look-back on the beginning of 2014.

In January

I averaged about 8-10 miles per week, with lots of effort. Anywhere from a 9:30 to 12:30 pace. The 9:30 pace runs, were usually 2-3 miles, while the 11:30-12:30 pace were long runs which required me to walk (as I would feel pain). My longest run in January was a 7.85 miler with Sheryl, in which we got insanely lost due to a detour, and my horrible directional skills.
Total= 42.25 miles, 4 strength-training, and 1 yoga sesh

In February

I started to feel strong again, and began pushing my limits. In Feb, I ran my first 10 miler since Palmetto (April 2013). And I followed it up with another longest run since January 2013- 14.5 miles with Sheryl. Average pace was around 10:30 (11:00 on long runs, and 10-10:30 on shorter runs). I ran about 10-18 miles per week. All in all, February was brutally cold, I was crazy busy with work, but pushing for those extra miles made me feel strong again.
Total= 60 miles, 1 strength training (but various sprint workouts), 1 yoga sesh

In March

This has been my peak month for sure… I started getting my speed back, and felt great! The weather started to cooperate, and pushed me to be outside, or at least active. Oh, and Daylight Savings… I love the later sunny nights!
Total= 81 miles, 3 strength training

In April

It’s officially been a year- since I was “healthy” and strong. A year since my ab pain started interfering with seemingly everything. And I am finally getting back to where I was 2-3 years ago. It’s taken less time than I thought, but I’m getting there… April marked my return to half marathons, and racing, in general. It also marked my return to “speed” (as speedy as I can currently be).
Total= 58.9 miles, 2 strength training, 1 yoga sesh

Let me put something real quick into perspective… Here are my numbers for May- Dec 2013:

May, 2013: 1.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (mostly laid up in bed for days after a run or walk)

June, 2013: 12 miles ran/walked (with lots of pain and ignored re-injury)

July, 2013: 13.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (again, with pain)

August, 2013: 8 miles ran (finally got serious about rehabbing my ab)

September, 2013: 10 miles ran

October, 2013: 17 miles ran

November, 2013: 14 miles ran

December, 2013: 32 miles ran (this is when I consider myself starting to “come back” as I convinced myself it was okay to run very slowly, 11:00-12:00 minute pace to get my mileage up, with occasional walk breaks).

This is all not a pity party, but the opposite. I am so excited to finally get my life back. I get so mad sometimes that I cannot maintain a 8:30 for 8 miles like I used to, but I forget about how far I have come. And how much I have struggled (physically and emotionally) to push through the pain and get to where I am today.

I reset my garmin in December, because I was tired of not reaching “new records” even though I was getting faster. I pushed myself in November and December to reach a 30-minute 5K speed, with all-my-freaking-might. Last week, with Dan, I managed to go sub-29-minutes. And, actually it didn’t feel that hard. It was actually during a 4-mile run. I “ran” my first return 10K speed through run/walking in 1:10 in November, and ran my fastest 10K during the Rock n Roll half in 1:00:40… That’s something to be proud of.

We beat ourselves up, and expect change so quickly, that we sometimes forget all the change that has already taken place. I am doing phenomenal, and I think I sometimes forget that.

I also feel the need to thank everyone who stood with me. I had several identity ‘failures’ we’ll say, where I wasn’t sure who I was without some form of exercise, and had pent up energy I just couldn’t release as I wanted. Dan really stood by me, trusting that I would eventually become the happy and active girl he fell for.

my favorite healthy lunch

My standard favorite lunch, by far!

Stop blaming salads for being boring… It’s not their fault, it’s yours!

🙂

No, really, though.

Here’s the easy steps, and you can grab and go.

1. Start with interesting greens

spinach and red leafy romaine

spinach and red leafy romaine

Skip the boring iceberg lettuce, or its sister- romaine lettuce. They’re boring, lack taste, lack color, and lack nutrients. Kale. Spinach. Swiss chard. Arugula. Any dark, leafy green, really. They pack more flavor and nutrients than standard iceberg lettuce. Have you ever complained that iceberg didn’t fill you up? That’s no surprise- iceberg is predominantly water, with little nutrients. And a cup of iceberg lettuce is about the same calories as a cup of any dark leafy green. My personal favorite is Trader Joe’s Power of the Greens (it’s $2.99, and includes baby spinach, baby chard, and baby kale). I’ve also been on a “buy a bag of greens from the farmer’s market” kick. Not a bad kick to be on. Spoiler- kale is delicious and abundant in North Carolina- so I buy it a lot.

2. Add something crunchy

The whole bag is like 15 calories!

The whole bag is like 130 calories!

I know, this sounds weird. But that’s because you get to choose your crunchy. Personally, I like nuts and/or apples. Be aware that nuts contain a lot of calories per punch, even just a handful (or 1/4 cup) adds about 200 calories (but just a few nuts go a long way. Motto for life too…) Another thing to remember is you want raw, unsalted nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios are great!). When choosing nuts, it’s best to choose unsalted. I had no idea I liked pistachios until I tried TJ’s unsalted nutmeats. So so yummy!

Not only delicious because Steven Colbert says so...

Not only delicious because Steven Colbert says so…

    toppings galore!

3. Add something sweet

This is where I typically add a tiny amount of dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, raisins, etc). Again, I go to Trader Joe’s because they have so many options, in the $3 to $8 price range. I also like fresh strawberries or blueberries. The key to making this one on the go is pre-cutting the strawberries that morning or the night before, putting them in a separate ziploc, and keeping them refrigerated (or cool in a cooler). Then add them to the salad later. I’ll also include tomatoes in this category, even though they aren’t “sweet”

4. Add something soft

For you, the dried fruit may be soft enough. For me, I sprinkle goat cheese over the top (it’s my FAVE). Bleu cheese can be nice too, if you have enough sweet o even out the tartness of the bleu cheese. Honestly, I need the candied pecans, which can feel extravagant sometimes 🙂

5. Bring your salad dressing

This is a big one, because if you pour salad dressing over in the morning, it can RUIN your greens. The acid in the dressing causes the greens to wilt, and actually causes the greens to lose some of their nutritional value (imagine your high fiber cereal sitting in milk for that long). Instead, bring a small bottle, or small container and pour it on right before you eat it.

all together now!

all together now!

So, you got all the steps?

Here’s what I chose for today (working the steps…)

Power of Greens mixture, handful of pistachios, sprinkle some goat cheese (maybe an ounce), grabbed some strawberries at work, and a few dried fruit mix (blueberry, cranberry, cherry, raisins) on top. All drizzled in a raspberry champagne vinaigrette from Trader Joes. Et voila!

 

 

Power of Greens: 30 cals
Pistachios (1/8 cup): 75 cals
Goat cheese: 60 cals
Strawberries (4 strawberries= 1 cup) : 50 cals
Dried fruit mixture (pinchful): 50 cals
Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette: 40 cals

Total:265 calories

Delicious, and packed with nutrients. What more could a girl ask for?