Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner and Flexibilty

This past week has gone by WAY to fast. I got in some great runs, some time with my wonderful boyfriend and daughter, some relaxing, some family time and, of course, lots of eating.

My workouts these week didn't go exactly as planned. I think it is very important to be flexible when you're committing to something as time consuming as 4 months of marathon training. Some days you simply won't be able to run due to the weather, work and family obligations, etc. Some days your body will beg for you to take an unscheduled day off. (This is very important to listen to!! Take it from somebody who has pushed out miles and miles on a fatigued body. You will not gain physical advantages and the chances are you will end up injured. Your body knows what it's talking about)

This past weeks training schedule:
Monday: Cross Training (This didn't actually happen)
Tuesday: 3 mile run (This didn't actually happen)
Wednesday: 5 mile run
Thursday: 3 mile run (This turned into 5.5 miles)
Friday: Rest (This turned into Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred)
Saturday: 5 mile run
Sunday: 9 mile run

Like I said, I made some adjustments.  Monday I had to put in some extra hours at work. Tuesday, my man came home from GA. He had been there for 5 weeks. Obviously, I had more on my mind then getting my 3 mile run in;-)

I decided to make up for that run on Thursday morning. Plus nothing sounds better than a post-run appetite for Thanksgiving Dinner. Speaking of Thanksgiving Dinner. ......

Look at the turkey! My first time hosting Thanksgiving, my first time cooking a turkey, and the first time my boyfriend's family and mine both came to the same event. Needless to say, I was pretty damn nervous.....
But I cooked the hell out of that thing.
PS - I know the crispy skin (which I smothered in butter pre-roasting) is the worst part for you but that first piece cut with juicy white meat and crispy skin....well it's my favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving.

As you can see, we had quite the spread. My contributions were the appetizers, Buffalo Chicken Dip and Spinach Dip, the turkey, butternut squash gratin (first time having a savory butternut squash. It was really good), mashed potatoes (I used cream cheese and LOTS of butter in them), green bean casserole, glazed carrots and corn.

All the lovely desserts. Contributed by family. That turtle pumpkin cheesecake on the left was the absolute best cheesecake I've ever had. I usually don't even like cheesecake. This stuff was amazing. Kudos to my sister for that one. Same goes with the chocolate pecan pie from my mom. Delicious.
To continue the family themed weekend, we decided to go to New Jersey and visit my Nana on Sunday. Leaving at 9 AM, with 9 miles on the plan, made for an early wake up call. My alarm went off at 5:45 that morning. As I drank my coffee I looked up the weather, only to discover it was 27 degrees out. Holy crap. I think I would have been better not knowing. Even though it was cold and dark, I bundled up and headed out.
Best life choice.
There is a difference in listening to your body when it's needed and coming up with excuses not to run. Sometimes you just need to man up.

I cranked out 9 miles, watching the sun rise, and chasing a runner's high the entire time. I got so caught up I even ran an extra mile:-)
10 miles at a 8:07ish pace before most people get out of bed. Not bad at all. I threw on some CEP compression sleeves, grabbed a bag of dry cereal, coffee and a banana and hit the road.

We had a great time:-)
Another big thing. I decided to get a wig. I finally decided that it was something I want to do. This Alopecia Areata seems like it's here for the long haul. As much as I'd love to have the "I don't give a shit what you think, I'm bald and I'm beautiful" attitude, I just don't. I've accepted the disease, but sometimes I just want to do my hair, put on my heels and make up, and feel like a woman.
So I made the plunge. The flexibility in training also applies to life.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Burke Lake Park = One Great Run

My favorite thing about marathon training is easily is the long runs. I love long runs. I love zoning out and just going. Physically seeing the distance that I have covered. Knowing that I'm strong enough, physically and mentally, to endure over an hour of constant running. It's exhilarating.

I always do my long runs on Sunday. Last Sunday, my daughter was off visiting her grandparents, so I had no time constraints. I decided to mix it up a bit and head out to Burke Lake. Burke Lake is a wonderful park located in Fairfax, VA. It offers a "fitness trail" which outlines the perimeter of the lake, clocking in at a little less than 5 miles.
I did 8 miles in the dirt path and felt amazing. What a difference soft ground makes on these rickety hips of mine:-)

I even got a good 20 minutes of stretching in while taking in the beautiful view. As difficult as it is to run here (40 minutes round trip, plus $8 for parking) it really is worth it because of the ease on my body and the mental health benefits I get from being able to take it all in and forget the hecticness that is my life. I love my crazy, busy life but recently I feel like it's been catching up with me.

I came home and had a great recovery meal. One whole egg and one egg white, scrambled and put on top of toast with avocado and cholula and an apple with almond butter. Gotta love all those healthy fats:-)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Marathon Training: Week One

Despite last weekends antics, Monday morning I started marathon training feeling pretty confident. I am beyond excited to see what I can push my body to do. My last marathon goal was 4 hours. I crossed the finish line in 4:01:57! Soooooo close.
I am running the Rock and Roll, Washington D.C. Marathon again this year (it's the one I ran last year). I really enjoyed the race last year, it was well run and very organized. I also want to beat myself on the same marathon course. Many people told me that I was silly to pick Rock and Roll DC as my first marathon to ever run. They said the course was much harder than surrounding marathons. So yes, I could probably go and run a flat course and stop my time from last year, but where is the fun in that.
I am going to go to this marathon and kill last years time because I am stronger, I am smarter, and I am ready to kick some ass.
My goal this year: 3 hours and 45 minutes
My training plan is below. Courtesy of Hal Higdon

I am really a big fan of Hal Higdon and his training programs. He has a lot of details along with his plans. Where you should be, physically, to begin training. How you should cross train. How fast your runs should be depending on what time you're shooting for, etc.

This week has gone by without any major issues (ha. Only 17 more "issue free" weeks to go). For cross training I did the elliptical for an hour. That is pretty much my go-to method of cross training, although I'd really love to get some spin classes in there. My right leg/hip has been a bit tight...I've been trying to make sure I am adequately strength training and stretching to make sure I don't aggravate it.....

The last issue. I am running to fast. For my goal I would need to run 8:45 miles the entire time. Right now, I'm running between 7:50-8:25. Even yesterday, during my terrible 5 miler (I just couldn't get in my groove), which was supposed to be a "pace" run I was running 8:25.

I'm torn because I don't want to injure myself, but I also don't want to not run to my potential. I'm thinking maybe make my goal pace 8:20 per mile instead.....but I'll need a couple more solid weeks of training under my belt before I do that.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

An Impromtu Half Marathon and Poor Pre-Race Rituals

Let me preface this post by saying that this is not the way you should race. At all. If you want to be successful at running and racing you don't act like this.

My twin sister, Rebecca, asked me earlier in the week if I would run an 8K with her in Richmond this weekend. At first I was hesitant because I had promised by legs a break this week since I raced hard this past Sunday. However, it's rare that we get to do something like this together so I told her that I would, but we'd make sure that we went nice and easy and simply enjoyed the race.

Friday night I arrived at her house around 9:00 PM. I wasn't particularly sleepy so I decided to enjoy a couple of cold ones a stay up another hour or so. By the time I was getting ready to call it a night my brother came home from work. It's not often that we get to catch up so we had a couple drinks and caught up....then my sister got home.....then the pizza and cards came out....before we knew it the time was 2:30 AM, not too far from our 5 AM departure.

We woke up and got ready as fast as we could. By the time we headed out the door, we were cutting it pretty close. The pizza and beer sat in my stomach like a brick. I made myself eat a small banana, but that was all I wanted. I figured that'd be sufficient fuel for a 5 miler.

We didn't make it to the race on time. Surprise, Surprise. So we decided that we'd just run the half marathon starting 30 minutes after the 8K! (I swear, it seemed like a totally awesome, fun idea at the time). We headed to the start and made it just in time for the gun to go off, no warm-up, no stretching.

Seconds before we the race started. We look tired.

Since we decided to just go out and have fun, I opted not to put my iPod on. This is the first time in a race that I've done this. It was really nice actually. I enjoyed people watching, talking to my sister, and listening to other's running around me. I made it sans tunes until Mile 8 when I started to get bored.

Dehydrated from my antics the night before, I anxiously awaited every single water station. I made sure to walk through them, drink slow and drink a lot. This seemed to work well for me, especially since I wasn't hauling any sort of ass that morning, but we all know what issues this could cause.

Around mile 6 of the race my legs started to get heavy. I was cursing myself for only eating a banana pre race and not having any gels on me. A mile or so later, I saw a gel station and ran anxiously toward it. ....not a fan of ANY chocolate gels. My options were limited and I knew I needed a pick up so I opened it up and tried some. I can only describe it as a warm chocolate milkshake sliding down my throat. Seriously not good. I drank some water with it and we continued on our way.

We took lots of breaks for pictures. :-)

That gel worked wonders. I had a burst of energy and wanted to pound the remainder of the race out. We had a good pace...until I felt my stomach get angry at me for last night's greasy, dairy-filled indulgence and the warm chocolate I just put on top of that. I found myself running, searching for relief (sorry if this makes you uncomfortable but I have never met a runner who hasn't had a case of the runner's trots and hell, everybody poops). The pain...oh goodness.

I didn't see any porta pottys, so the first open establishment was it., A damn laundry mat. (Totally random they were open...) The owners were very nice and let me use their restroom.....I could have kissed them. They practicly saved my life. at least my pride.

Now, lighter on my feet (haha!) we were ready to finish the race (what an amazinly awesome down hill finish) and had a great time. This may be the first race that I run and just didn't care what my time was (and honestly had no clue the entire time). My sister and I had a ton of fun. We stopped to stretch, drink water, take pictures, and catch some great sight seeing.

Despite my stomach being in knots the remainer of the day and a toe nail that's decided it no longer wants to be attached I'm glad I did the race. However, next time I'll prepare just a tad bit better.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Recovering from Racing and Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred

Personally, I think the hardest thing about racing is proper recovery. It’s hard. We just went out there and pushed our body to the limit. We trained for months, put everything we had into less than an hour of work, kicked some serious ass, and want to keep the momentum going. We want to go sweat more. We want to race. We want to run….FAST.

Despite all these feelings, we’ve been told to do no such thing. While the exact number of days you should rest vary from article to article, and depend on factors such as running experience, length of the race, age, etc., it’s a common consensus that you need to take it easy for a while.

Here is a chart from Running Times ( that breaks it down for you.
This means that I can’t do anything with high intensity for 9 days….

I’m sure this sounds crazy to non-runners, but NOT running is more difficult (mentally and physically) than forcing ourselves to go run.

To keep myself from jamming a pencil threw my eye and going stir crazy I’ve decided to continue to workout, just not intensely and nothing involving running. For this reason, I borrowed a copy of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred from a coworker.


I started on Level 2 for the sole reason I’m a cocky SOB and wanted to make sure I felt something. Let me tell you what. I did. The workout is pretty awesome, especially for only 20 minutes! Really now, who doesn’t have 20 minutes extra a day?? Jillian follows interval training to get you sweating . You do 3 minutes of strength training (weights, push-ups, etc.), followed by 2 minutes of cardio, followed by 1 minute of abs. You do 3 different circuits.

I am most definitely going to go and buy a copy of this workout DVD (and probably a few more of her DVDs as well). I plan to do one workout in the AM and one in the PM for the next week. This is perfect for a day you can’t get to the gym, or get outside to run, or are just crunched for time. Because, as we’ve all heard, ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING.

While I won’t be doing the entire 30 day shred consecutively (because marathon training is starting on Monday!! YAY!!) I will be incorporating this into my fitness regime and using it as fillers for days I don’t have time to do weights after my long run at work.

Any workout videos you’d recommend? What are your favorites?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

ANS 7th Annual 5K/10K Run Walk - My Review

In order to prepare for my first 10K, competitive one at least, I rested up on Saturday, took a light walk with my daughter and stretched. I got to bed early (got an extra hour of sleep due to daylight savings) and woke up bright and early at 6:30 to get ready.
2 cups of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal and I was ready to go!
Seeing as though this was a very small race (held in Southern MD) I wasn't sure what to expect. I showed up 40 minutes before the 8:30 start time, grabbed my number and went inside to warm up. After a few runs around the gym and some stretching, I hit the bathroom and was ready to go. The gun went off at exactly 8:30.
I have to say, I was very disappointed with the course. Firstly, there were no cones. Nothing to block the cars speeding by at 55 miles an hour. We were running on a small shoulder. Not the most comforting feeling. Especially since I was in the front of the pack. No crowds to draw attention for the drivers.....
The course was also VERY hilly. I guess I cannot complain about this factor too much, but during my run I was cursing it with a bunch of four letter words.
Third, and most importantly, the course was poorly marked. Shortly after I passed the 5 mile marker I got geared up and put a little pep in my step. Then I came to an intersection with no sign! One sign on my left was marked for the 5K, so I choose that one thinking that the races might meet up. Almost half a mile after the turn a man in a truck pulled up beside me to let me know I was going to wrong way. I was super peeved. I bust a quick 180 and as I passed the intersection again I saw the crowd catching up....Only one man passed me due to that potentially fatal mistake.
I finished in about 51:40. (The official time hasn't been released).

While I'm irritated that I missed my goal of 50 minutes, I'm excited that I know that I can make it since I ran over 7 miles in 51:40! And I still got 1st place for females!
My first time with a medal that reads "1st" place. Kaitlyn and I were ecstatic! I had a great time!
I'm currenty relaxing on the couch with a Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ale watching Sex and the City reruns. Perfect way to celebrate!

Friday, November 2, 2012

How and When to Taper?

This Sunday is the big race. The 10K that I have spent the last two months preparing for.  All those training runs come down to how you perform in less than an hour of time. I am sure you can tell, I’m freaking out just a little bit.
The cause of this minor “freak out”. My last week of running hasn’t been exactly what I expected. I only had 2 runs this week. A 5 miler on Tuesday and 5 x 400 @ 5K pace on Wednesday (4.5 miles total). I wasn’t able to get in my last tempo run or long run this weekend. My daughter got sick, then got pink eye, my sister needed help moving, Hurricane Sandy kept us inside. Now I know that these things happen. Almost any running article that you read says “be flexible”, but I can’t help it. I am hard on myself. I want better results so I push myself to get them.
So today my training plan says “REST”. I am supposed to be tapering.  I find this difficult seeing as though today is an ideal day for me to workout……To make up on mind on what to do I took to the  internet. While there are varying views about the benefits of tapering, the majority of people lean towards it.
But then my mind said “I think if you take Friday AND Saturday off you’re going to over-taper..”. Again, I went to the internet and got conflicting results.
I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to the gym today. I am not an elite runner who has been running 60+ mile weeks, I’ve only had two runs this week.  I’m going to go and get on the elliptical for a bit and then walk on the treadmill for a bit, then spend a good amount of time stretching, focusing on my pesky calf and hips.
What would you do if you were in my situation?? Are you for tapering?