Monday, May 13, 2013

Race Report: Cox Rhode Race 1/2 Marathon

This was my 15th 1/2 marathon, and I think I've finally figured out how to actually run a race of this length.  Yeah, I guess I'm a bit slow (runningwise and mentally).  This was (sorry to shout) THE BEST RACE EVER!  I slowed myself down, took nutrition and water regularly, and got a PR with little-to-no pain!

Honestly, around Mile 11 I couldn't help thinking, this race is going really fast, but I don't want to stop running, I feel fantastic!  Words cannot express how totally jacked I am about this race.  Running has been so hard the past year, and I haven't felt like I've made any progress.  Every time I run a race, I've just been dreading it, then I phone it in and I'm mad at myself afterward.  It hasn't been fun, it has felt like work.  This race, I didn't get hung up on things, I actually got a decent night's sleep, probably because I told myself not to get so worked up, and I just showed up to do my best.

Horrifying, but tastey
I've been trying, in regular life, to just stop overthinking things and making myself crazy, and maybe that works for running too.

To prepare for this race I:
  • Never ran more than six miles in a training run
  • Didn't really run much at all--only 14 miles for the whole month of May
  •  Had a blue icee and a few beers the night before

What worked in this race:
  • The weather.  There was no wind, and it was high humidity.  The humidity was a bit gross, but the light rain overnight and mid race sprinkles tempered all the allergens in the air, and my breathing was easy.
  • The damp in the air also kept things cool.  Yes, I was soaked by the end, but every now and then there was a light breeze which kept everything comfortable.
  • I brought three shotbloks, and took them at miles 4, 6.5 and 9 along with a small amount of water.  Since it was so humid, I didn't really need to drink much, which gave my stomach a break.
  • Beer and a light dinner the night before.  I've really noticed that when I have a couple beers but don't eat much after 6pm, my run is almost always awesome the next day. Food upsets my stomach, but beer calms it down, and I guess it's carb loading?  I'm sure my tummy is just a weird one.
I kept thinking about the run that I went on with friends a couple months ago.  We ran slower than I think I ever have, and I felt great afterward.  Running to meet them in the park, I was pushing the pace and really wondering if I'd have the energy to actually run once I met them, but then we started moving so slowly, it was just easy.  I tried to remember that feeling and replicate it in the race.  I wanted to be at a pace where I actually felt like I could just run forever instead of willing the whole thing to be over--and I did it.

Never before have I not walked a in a 1/2 marathon--sad, but true.  This time, I walked while eating shotbloks and drinking water, just to keep my tummy happier, but that's it!
Splits from this race, which are far, far more consistent than my splits from the Ocean's Run in March:
So, I've got a new plan, a new 1/2 marathon PR and I'm no longer dreading my 1/2 marathon in July!  Well, a little bit because it's July and it's a hilly course, but I can totally handle it!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekly Workouts: April 7-13

Race day dawned cold and windy.  It was a tough race--really tough.  It's funny because I always get cocky since 10k is basically a distance I run twice a week, but the hills, oh the hills!  Full race report coming soon, but though I'm glad I did it, it still kicked my ass.

Usual Monday morning yoga + cleaning the yoga studio.  My back was super sore from shivering my way through Sunday's 10k, so the hot room felt extra nice.

Biked to work and back--4 miles, and then went to a 7pm Barre class.  It is amazing how much your muscles can burn with just 2 pound weights. I was dripping, but it felt really good.  Also, when I was biking home, the road was all clogged up with bus and car traffic--but not for me.  I just scoot, scoot, scoot along the side of the road and make it home faster than if I drove #winning.
Not me, but this is how it feels
I set out for a 4 mile run before work, but cut it short at 2.25 miles.  I don't know if I ate something I shouldn't have yesterday, of if it's just the curse of womanhood, but I had a side stitch I couldn't outrun and my legs just felt heavy.  That could be from the brutal Barre class though.  Either way, I know when to say stop, so I stopped and I don't regret it at all.  I followed that with an after work yoga class to steam out those muscle cramps.

Four miles in the morning with no watch on.  I'm trying to take it easy with the running because of that stupid knee ache, but I'll get back into it again next week with more vigor. Biked to work and back 4 miles.

Rest day

Four miles in the morning and then off to work.  I need to go for longer runs, but I just haven't had the time this week!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weekly Workouts March 31-April 6

Sunday:  Long run day, but it was a short one.  Even though it was quite lovely out, I didn't want to take too many chances with this stupid, achy knee, so I stuck to the treadmill.  Four miles, easy pace while watching Weeds.
Exercising is always easier when you envy the body of the woman on the tv.  Seriously, Mary Louise Parker is almost 50!  What the hell?!?

Three mile run followed by the usual Monday morning yoga.

I planned a kettlebell workout with the handsome Bob Harper for before work, but like I tend to do on Tuesdays, I overslept.  I need to do more squats!  Bob makes me do squats.  I also wanted to do 7pm Barre class, but apparently there is no 7pm class this week *fist shake*, rode my bike to work and back, 4 miles--wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I planned on a 4 mile run before work, but it has gotten cold again, y'all. I'll take Wednesday as a rest day instead.

Six lovely miles before work.  Not a fast run, but a good one, and my knee felt a little off at the beginning, but fine once I got going.   I kept thinking I should do some hill work, in anticipation of the race on Sunday, but then I panicked thinking that I shouldn't tire my legs out!  What to do?!!?  It's just a 10k, so it doesn't really matter, but maybe that's the wrong attitude to have.  I'm no good at this mental game stuff.

Lazy day off, but I did manage to get to yoga.

Four mile run before work followed by four mile bike ride to work and back.  It has been so windy lately!  My bike ride to work is mostly uphill, but this time it was uphill and into the wind--feeling the burn.

Weekly Stats:
17 miles
0 cross train
2 yoga

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Weekly Workouts: March 24-30

What an adorable sloth fest
After last week's sloth fest, I'm officially ready to get back to it.  It's funny how, even for someone who loves running, the longer you don't do it, the harder it is to convince yourself to get back out there.  Thankfully, Sunday was sunny and warm(ish), which made it much easier.

Longish run.  Since I barely ran last week and I had to work today, I didn't want to do a crazy long run.  I did six miles at an easy pace, and it felt good.  My left knee got a bit achy toward the end, which makes me a bit nervous, but I iced it right away afterward.

Usual Bikram yoga class.  I was going to run four miles beforehand, but my tummy felt funny from my Sunday run. Listen to me already making excuses! No, no, this week, I'm getting back on track--perhaps a bit more slowly than usual.

Due to car-sharing issues, I wasn't able to got to barre class after work, so I did my zWOD #58 again in the morning, and then walked to work and back--four miles.

Four mile run before work.  It was one of those runs where I didn't wear a watch because I didn't want to feel tempted to push myself, but then I felt like I was running so fast I wanted to know if I actually was running fast, or if it just felt that way.  Now I'll never know, sigh.

Another lazy morning.  My tummy felt off, and I had too much wine Wednesday night, so I didn't want to go for a run.  This is the time when I need to admit that work is officially getting to me.  I've had a whole host of new responsibilities heaped on me and there has been a lot of professional/personal drama going on at work that is just taking a toll.  It's affecting my sleep and my running, and that it highly annoying.  I need to learn how to leave work at work.

Four mile run before work.  It was a decent run, but my left knee has been hurting off and on.  I'm going to be better about icing it, and try to not overdo it mileagewise.  After that, I pedaled to work on my sweet new ride!
I love my new bike, and I love that it's finally warm enough to ride it without fear of frozen face.

Group run!  I have the Jamestown Bridge 10k coming up in one week, so I did a group run with some one my buddies who are also doing the race.  I ran 2.5 miles to meet them at the park, then we did a four mile run followed by a couple hill repeats.  It was actually nice to slow down and have a bit of conversation while running, plus, it was just nice to see friends I haven't bumped into in a while.  Race next week!! Woot!!

Weekly Totals:
16.5 miles
1 Bikram yoga
1 Cross train

This week's Power Song is Sexy Boy by Hard Kaur & DJ Rekha

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekly Workouts: March 17-23

This week included the first day of spring, but also the laziest week I've had in a long time.  I think I needed it and it seemed like the universe was arranging itself to drive that point home.  Since my next race is only a 10k and not until April 7, I should take it east when I have the chance, right? Yes.

Supposed to be my long run day and I had 11 miles on the schedule, but I've just been feeling run-down and sluggish.  I managed 4.5 at a 9:13 pace, but my tummy was feeling off, so I packed it in early.  Doing a shorter run though gave me time to go to yoga, so that's something.

The usual Monday morning yoga class.  I also wanted to do my usual 4 miles before yoga, but it was 20 degrees out, and I talked myself out of it.  I just can't take it with this cold anymore.  Also, my back was sore and my tummy upset, wah, wah, wah.

Walked to work, two miles in slush and sogginess, then planned on going to evening Barre class, but the studio lost power.  I could have worked out at home, but I read a book instead and have no regrets.

Nothing.  Not a thing.  We got another dumping of snow, it's cold and wet and everyone is cranky--myself included. I planned to run before work, but just can't take the treadmill first thing in the morning.  Dinner plans with a friend after work means that today is an unofficial rest day.  This week is just going to be a light week, and that's fine with me.

What an excellent morning for a run!  We had lousy weather at the beginning of the week, but thankfully most of the snow melted and Thursday dawned with a delightful 32 degrees and sunny.  I bundled up and headed outside for the first time in more than a week. Five miles 9:03/mile pace--just a good run.  I pushed myself, but not crazy-like and just came home feeling fantastic.  I love you, endorphins!!  Defrosted with a Bikram class afterward.

Mandatory staff meeting means I have to come to work on my day off.  Sure, I get comp time and bagels for breakfast, but it's still annoying.  I did a zWOD before the meeting:

And, as usual, it was brutal.  I need to work up to regular pushups because doing modified pushups and modified burpees is killing my knees!

Nothing, a whole lot of nothing.

Weekly Totals:
9.5 Miles
3 Bikram Classes
1 Cross-Training

This week's power songs: Evacuate the Dancefloor by Cascada.  
The video is pretty ridiculous, as are the lyrics, but it really works!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Running Shoes Are Expensive

Everyone always says, and I've said it myself too-- Running is so low-maintenance, all you need is shoes and a sidewalk!

This is true-ish.  Yes, you don't need equipment, but I still manage to spend a ton of money on running stuff every year.  Every time I buy something, I think Ok, I've got all the running shirts I need, I'm set!  That never seems to be the case, plus, sometimes you just want new things.

In the case of running shoes, it's not as much of a want as it is a need.  I replace my shoes about every six months or so.  I mark when I start a new pair of shoes in my training log, and then eventually when they break down, I can just feel it.  My calves get really tight, running overall is just harder, and then I check my log and sure enough, the shoes are done for. 

So, two pairs of $100 shoes every year obviously adds up, moneywise and having tons of shoes in your house-wise.  Digression: My dad saved all of his old running shoes.  He would tie the laces together and throw them over the beams in the unfinished garage ceiling.  It looked like some kind of bizarre shoe forest, and I never knew that it wasn't normal until I asked a friend where all her dads old running shoes were and she looked at me like I was bonkers.
I couldn't find a picture online--perhaps my dad is the only one who did/does this?
I don't keep my old shoes--except my most-recent old pair (just in case), but I do hoard new shoes.  The way that I've found to get around going broke buying running shoes is by strategically hoarding and knowing when to buy.

For instance, I wear Nike + Moto shoes, I have for about seven years now.  I don't particularly like Nike as a company, but I tested a few shoes before settling on these, and they have worked well for me over the years.  One of the things that's annoying about Nike, is that they discontinue shoes every year.  Even if shoes are wildly popular, they change then annually, kind of like a car.  I started wearing the Moto + 4 and now I'm on the Moto + 8.  However, at least with Nike, you can use their fickleness (and the fact that they're trying to dupe you into buying new shoes all the time) to your advantage.
My current kicks

Every couple years, I wait for the new Nike + Moto shoes to come out.  When that happens, I buy as many pairs of the older model as I can find.  These are usually discounted by at least 30%, and sometimes I've found them for up to 50% off.  I buy as many as I can find, and then I have a shoe stash for the next few years.

Doing it this way also eliminates the Oh my god, my shoes are breaking down and I need to find a new pair because the ones that I love are discontinued but I have a race coming up! Panic.  That is truly the worst feeling in the world, and before I started shoe-hoarding, I went through it a lot.

The downside to this is that you never really try anything new.  There are tons of shoes out there that I'd like to try, but I just can't justify spending the money when my shoe needs are already met.  Other running bloggers rave about Brooks and Mizuno, but I just don't want to take the chance.

Admittedly, I have never gone to a running store and been properly fitted, but trial and error count for something, and I've got a pretty good system.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekly Workouts: March 10-16

I look exactly like this now-naturally
This week I had my first 1/2 marathon of the season and also my first Barre class!

Ocean's Run 1/2 marathon. Full race report here, but despite the cold and the wind, it was a good race!

Rest day.  I had to skip my morning yoga because I had a doctor's appointment, but since my knees were a bit sore after the race, I tried to take it easy.

I had hoped to wake up early and do some kettlebells with Bob Harper, but naturally, I overslept, and for once I'm going to say that that was a good thing.  That night, I went to my first ever Barre class with a friend and my muscles were screaming.  I'm always reminded that I don't do enough strength training, but I kept up pretty well.  It's odd though, even though I barely broke a sweat, I feel like it was a good workout.  This might become a regular thing.

Woke up strangely not sore after that Barre class though I suspect I'll be feeling it Thursday.  Four mile run before work and Bikram class afterward.  The forecast is calling for 50 degrees today!! Spring has officially arrived (though I'm trying to not get my hopes up too high).

Treadmill time.Seven miles while watching Biggest Loser, which is almost done for the season!  What am I going to watch on my Thursday treadmill run after it's over!!?  I guess I could just run outside instead, but I really am not minding these longer TM runs.  What has happened to me?  Maybe I'm just sick of my running mix on my ipod... music suggestions welcome.

I was a lazy girl this morning and slept in and did not do my cross-training.  I'll squeeze it in tomorrow instead. I also planned to go to yoga, but skipped that.  For some reason, going to yoga on Friday night is so much harder than every other night.  I guess it's the end of the week and I'm tired, but I had myself talked out of it at 10am--a new record.

Mid-day Bikam class that I planned to follow up with five easy miles, but I just wasn't feeling it.  I waaaay overslept this morning, so I'm thinking my body just wants a little rest.  Plus, I want to save my legs for my long run tomorrow.

Weekly Stats:
24.1 Miles
2 Yoga Classes
1 Cross training

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Race Report: Ocean's Run

I was looking at the forecast for this race feeling all kinds of cocky because it's a flat fast course, and it was supposed to by 43 degrees and sunny.   I love 43 degrees!  I love sunny!  What I do not love is crazy wind.  Oh man, this race was surprisingly tough, but still, no regrets and I will likely do it again next year.  Let's break down the good and bad of this race.

The Bad: 
  • WIND!  So. Much. Wind.  Also it was colder than I expected.  Once I got moving, I was ok, but my back muscles were sore from shivering.
  • No clam chowder at the finish.  On a cold March day, I would have loved some chowder.  And as an adopted Rhode Islander, I expect to have chowder after all of my athletic endeavors.
  • Not enough tents.  Of course, if it hadn't been so windy, this might have been moot, but I really wanted a place to warm up more before the start of the race.
The Good:
  • Flat, fast course that was somewhat scenic.  Considering it was called The Ocean's Run, I was hoping for a wee bit more ocean, but I can't be too picky.  I couldn't help thinking that it really is a shame Rhode Island is so ugly in March.  Right now the snow is all melted and everything is just dead and tragic looking.  
  • Nice and small.  This was an intimate race, and I like that.
  • I got to meet a local celebrity!  I used to follow The Rhode Hazard's blog, but she has sadly stopped updating.  We've been facebook friends for about a year, but have never actually met face-to-face.  Thankfully, she was handing out medals at the finish line, so I got a medal and a hug!
  • Start Time.  This race started at 10am, which means I actually got a good night's sleep because I wasn't worried about oversleeping.  The downside to that is that after the race, I felt like the whole day was gone, which is pretty much the same feeling I have when I don't get my run in right away.
  • Cheering Section.  I'm a solo runner and my BF does not rise early enough in the day for me to expect him to cheer me on.  However, it really does give me a little boost to know someone is waiting for me near the finish line like my friend BK did for this race!  At the 13 mile mark, I saw her and we both did a little happy dance.
Happy Dancing

Overall, I was initially very disappointed with myself after this race because I had hoped to not walk at all and I ended up taking a few walk breaks.  This race also reminded me the difference between treadmill training and outdoor training.  I needed to slow myself down so many times, and just couldn't!  Hence the burnout and the walking.  I'm looking forward to some more outdoor training runs at a steady pace--and I need them.

After I thought about the race for a couple days, I realized that though I felt like I didn't quite push hard enough, I still did pretty respectably for this distance.  My 1/2 marathon PR is 2:10 and I did this race in 2:12.  If I keep up with my training and lose a few pounds, I'm looking at a new PR for my May race!

This race's Power Song goes to I Love It by Icona Pop. I wasn't terribly impressed with this song until I watched this clip from Girls:
...and it works very, very well for running

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekly Workouts: March 3-9

It's taper week!  I have my first race of the season--a 1/2 marathon-- on March 10th, so this week I need to scale back the running a wee bit.  I never really do a taper for 1/2 marathons, but I am going to take it a little easy and save my legs for the big day.  The plan is to do extra yoga and some easy runs.

I had to work, so I walked four miles there and back.  While at work, I had to assemble cafe tables for an event, as well and walk back and forth 100+ times in the hallway.  Plus, standing for six hours is really hard!  I haven't had a job that required that much standing since High School. but I remember how much my feet used to hurt back then.

Had to get up early and drive BF to Boston to the airport, so no morning run for me, but I made it back in time for Bikram at 10am.

Rest Day.  My feet are still a bit sore from all that standing on Sunday.  I'm so delicate.

Easy 4 miles before work--no watch.  Unfortunately, it was also a quiet 4 miles since my headphones have shorted out and only make sound in one ear.  I've ordered a replacement pair from Amazon that may be here by the end of the week, otherwise I'm likely to spend Friday running around trying to find a pair in the stores (I'm kind of picky about headphones--I suspect I have weirdly-shaped ears).  I really, really don't want to run 13 miles with no music.

Six treadmill miles while watching The Biggest Loser.  I had comp time from work since I went in on Sunday, so I managed a late afternoon Bikram class as well! Now, no more running until the race on Sunday.

Tapering!  12pm Bikram class followed by errand running and cooking of this recipe: Savory Breakfast Muffins with Quinoa.

A whole lot of nothing.  I planned to go to yoga in the early morning before work, but I didn't.

Weekly Stats:
10 miles
2 Bikram classes
0 Cross Training

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Day Before

I have 1/2 marathon number #14 tomorrow morning and the old familiar nerves are back again.  Even though I know that you're not supposed to do anything new or out-of-the-ordinary on race day, I bought a new pair of socks and had to get new earbuds, a different brand than usual.

  • I still don't know what I'm going to wear.
  • I'm eating Ethiopian food tonight, which I already know is a huge mistake--gastrointestinally.
  • I just got a haircut and it's now too short for a ponytail.
  • I have a meeting after the race.  It's with a friend, but we actually need to accomplish things.
  • I've barely run outside since I got my new treadmill.
  • I ran ten miles last week and it was just fine.
  • It's a flat, fast course.
  • It's just a training run.
  • It's supposed to by 48 degrees and sunny.
  • I've done this 13 other times, why do I still get nervous?
Here's to Clam Chowdah at the finish line!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Weekly Workouts: Feb 24-March 2

Woke up to a gloomy rain snow mix, which made me double glad I got in an outside run yesterday.  I went to a morning Bikram class, came home, changed and ate, then got on the treadmill for 7.5 miles at an easy pace while watching:
I am sad to report, however, though this movie is pretty good, Jason Statham never takes his shirt off.  What the hell is that all about?!?!?!  There was lots of fighting, some running, but no shirt off fighting like I've come to expect.
I need this kind of inspiration!
Still, he looks pretty good in clothes too, so I'll let it go.

Stayed up too late watching the Oscars and I was too tired to do my pre-yoga 4 miles.   I did go to class, even though I was sleepy and fat-feeling.  Is it just me, or is February like the worst month ever?  I'm so over it.

Rest Day. Walked to work and back 4 miles.

Slept in later than I would have liked, but managed a 3 mile naked run (no garmin, no headphones, no watch) before work.   It was raining out, so I got to test out my new windbreaker, which isn't quite waterproof, but still better than what I had before
Thanks Old Navy!
I was still pretty soggy when I got home, but my torso was dry-ish.

Six mile run while watching The Biggest Loser followed by 20 squats.

Four mile run before work and evening Bikram class after.

Had to do my long run today since I work all day Sunday.  I am pleased to report I did 10 miles on the treadmill!!!  Afterward, I foam rolled, stretched and iced my knees.  Who the hell am I, some kind of grownup??  I struggled a bit at the beginning of this run, I think mostly because I got caught up on the number TEN.  I always do that.  I have no mental game at all.  After a while though, I got into a good rhythm and finished strong.  Then I ate some mac and cheese.

Weekly Stats:
30.5 miles
3 Bikram classes
1 cross training

This week's power song is Blow, by Ke$ha.  Normally, I can't stand the sound of her voice, but this got me up a big hill once, I have to give her credit.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekly Workouts: Feb 17-23

I shredded
I had to postpone my Sunday long run because I had work this afternoon.  Running nine miles and then going to work may work for some people, but I'm just too concerned with how my stomach will react to chance it.  Thankfully, tomorrow is President's Day, so I'll just do it then.  Instead of a run, I did the Level 1 workout in Jillian Michael's Shred it With Weights --she's just all about shredding, eh?

It wasn't difficult, but I did get sweaty. This one isn't my favorite, but I'll try Level 2 and see if I like that better.

Regular Monday morning yoga  and planned to follow it with my long run.  Instead, I totally got hit by the yoga bus in class and cut my run short.  Since it was a holiday, and the yoga studio is doing a Groupon, the 10am, which usually has ~20 people in it had 48.  Lots of hot bodies makes the room extra hot and my face extra red.  Afterward, I had a bit of food and got on the treadmill, but only managed to pound out 3.5 miles instead of the 9 I had planned.  Shit happens, and I'll try to make it up later, but I'm not going to beat myself up.

Rest day.  Walked to and from work 4 miles.

I've been having a really hard time getting my run in before work.  I keep oversleeping, the sidewalks in my neighborhood are still a mess, and I just can't bear the thought of the treadmill first thing in the morning.  Whine, whine, whine.  This morning, I slept in, did not do my 4 miles, and sentenced myself to an after work Bikram class as punishment.

10k on the treadmill.  I was just going to do six miles, but then I was like why not do a 10k? I have my annual Jamestown Bridge 10k in April, and I never really time myself at that distance.  Since I'm obsessed with having whole numbers in my mileage log, I never do a race distance run as part of my regular training.  So this is all just a long explanation for why I ran 6.2 miles instead of 6.  Started out slowish and pushed the pace in the middle winding up with 6.2 miles in 56:16. 

Lazy day off.  I had a run planned, butI got caught up making phone calls in the morning, and then just didn't feel like it.  Evening yoga class.

Ran outside!  They're predicting a rain/ snow mix for later today, but at 7:30am it was perfect out.  I set out planning to run at least 4 miles, but ended up doing 6.  There were tons of other runners out and that always give me a bit of a boost--especially when I pass people.  Solidarity head nods all over the place!

Weekly stats:
15.5 Miles
3 Yoga Classes
1 Crosstrain

This week's power song is Throw it on Me by Timbaland, featuring The Hives

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Something Strange is Happening

I have never been a flexible person.  Even when I was a kid and everyone else's bones seemed to be made of rubber and they could bend every which way, I could barely touch my toes.  When I started doing yoga regularly, it was mostly in the hope that I'd get some lean muscle, maybe get a little more flexible, but I've gone through this much of my life, it seems like that's just not changing.


I've been noticing things lately.  Like it used to be a massive ordeal to grab my foot for head to knee with stretching posture
I'd have to bend my knee practically in half to grab my foot, and now I can grab it with only a little knee bend.

I could never get my knee even close to straight in standing head to knee
And now my leg is much closer to straight, and I can hold the pose longer.

The funny thing is that I've been doing yoga for a little more than a year now, and nothing has really changed for me.  I've gotten more used to the heat of the room, I've probably gotten a little better at the postures, but I never really noticed much improvement beyond being more comfortable.  All of a sudden in the last two weeks, I've been feeling like some kind of yoga superstar!

I'm going to try not to get cocky about this, and certainly I'm not going to make any ridiculous pronouncements, but I'm just a little bit shocked.  Keep in mind I am a girl who tore a muscle doing yoga, so this is a pretty significant turnaround.  Maybe there's something to this after all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Workouts February 10-16

Long run day!  Since the roads are going to be quite messy for a while, and I desperately need to do some distance training, I set about to see if I could fix my treadmill.  I found a video on youtube and fixed my own treadmill!  I'm assuming that this problem is the reason I got it for so cheap.  Now I have a $700 treadmill that works perfectly and is gym quality, but I only paid $125 for it.  I was so excited to have fixed it myself that I ran 8 miles at a 9:30/mile pace, 1 incline.  That's the longest run I've done probably since my last 1/2 marathon in October, and it felt great.  I skipped afternoon yoga when I realized how much more work I'd have to do digging my car out of the driveway.

Now that the treadmill is working, I am a lot more confident about my 1/2 marathon next month.  what a fantastic day!

Dug my car out of the driveway so I could go to yoga.  I had planned to do an easy four miles afterward, but my legs were pretty sore and I was tired from the shoveling.  Seriously, yoga was so hard because my muscles were screaming in protest the whole time.  Stupid, heavy snow.

Walked to work two miles.  This was the most treacherous walk of my life because all the sidewalks were iced over (the ones that had been shoveled), or still unshoveled.  Ugh.  Got a ride home because I didn't want to walk in the street after dark. 

I am a lazy sleeper-inner and I have no regrets! Legs are still a bit sore from my run on Sunday and my ice walk to work yesterday.  I'm planning to run and do cross-training tomorrow to make up for two rest days in a row.

Five easy miles on the treadmill at 9:30/mile pace followed by 30 pushups, 30 kettlebell swings, rows, squats and crunches.  I keep trying to remember to do more squats, but I always seem to forget.

Lousy day at work + migraine = skipping yoga and buying a cupcake instead.  It was a very good cupcake.

Six miles on the tready.  Started out at 6.5/mph and finished up at 7.5/mph.  I have to say, I'm starting to actually like the treadmill.  It is really helping me keep a consistent pace, and I've noticed less aching in my knees.

Weekly Stats:
19 miles
1 yoga class
1 cross-training session

This week's power song: Cold War by Janelle Monae'

Friday, February 15, 2013

Social Aspects of Running

One of the big things that kept me on the treadmill for years instead of running outside (besides fear of getting lost) was having to deal with people.  I don't hate people, but I run to be alone with my thoughts, and I also look like quite the dumbass out there, and didn't want to feel self-concious.

I've seen pictures, I know the truth
 But once I finally ripped off the band-aid, I realized that the strangely social aspect of running alone can be quite delightful.

Exhibit A: The Solidarity Head Nod
This is what happens when you approach another runner and it means 'good for you for getting out there, I admire your pace and your form.'  However, the solidarity head nod is a highly regional thing.  Here in Rhode Island, you get it maybe half the time--no, more like a third of the time.  Therefore, it's kind of like a treat, but there's always a bit of tension as you approach another runner.  You don't want to do it first and feel like a nerd if he or she spurns you, but you also don't want to be rude.  It's a goddamn mine field out there.

When I was visiting my brother in Minnesota, people went beyond the head nod and actually said "Good Morning".  95% of people I encountered while running said good morning to me--it was a little spooky.

Exhibit B: The Cheering Section
This doesn't happen too too often, but when it does, it's a bit hilarious.  You're just out on a normal run, and some random person decides to give you a cheer.  I've had elementary school students frantically wave at me from bus windows; some college kid fist pump when I was tearing down a hill; and my personal favorite was the guy at the bus stop who gave me a high five.  He was totally casual, just stuck his hand out, then kept on waiting for his bus.

Exhibit C: The Super Fit Youth
I live in a college town, which means that in the fall and spring, my running route is jam-packed with incredibly attractive and fit young people.

I call this photo: Wall of Abs
The fact that they never seem to tire or sweat could be disheartening, but despite their outward appearance of perfect fitness, some of these young people don't really move that fast.  Passing a 19-year-old is possibly the most satisfying thing in the world.  Also, some of the boys are awfully cute (they're over 18!).

Exhibit D: The Regulars
There is an older woman who runs up the same street as me often around the same time.  Depending on the weather, we pass each other about once a week.  Every time I see her out there I think about the fact that she's probably in her 50s and still out there killing it.  Seeing her usually gives me a bit of a boost, and even though we've never spoken, I'm pretty sure we're pals.

What's your favorite social aspect of running?

Do you give the Solidarity Head Nod or some variation thereof?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Taking Advantage

I've paid a lot of money and run a lot of races in my day, and I'm glad that most of the race fees have benefited some kind of charity.  I personally don't donate a lot to charity, not because I don't want to, but because I work for an underfunded non-profit and can't really afford to.  I figure that I do the time in that I'm in an altruistic profession, and paying race fees to support local and national charities is something that I can afford, and that I'm happy to do.

Race fees are pretty standard, but some races are more expensive than others and unless it says explicitly somewhere in the race info why it's a more expensive race, I usually just pass on them.  After all, when you do a lot of races, these seemingly small fees add up quite quickly.

Then, you come across races like the Nike Women's Marathon Virtual 10k, which is just the most obvious ploy to extract money from runners that I've ever seen.

First off, it's a virtual race, which means that no matter where you are in the world, you can run this race.  That's awesome, but it also means that the race organizers don't have to pay for permits, food, medical and police support or any of the other incidental expenses that make running a race expensive.  That should make it significantly cheaper for the people who want to  run it, right?

The race costs $40.

According to the race's FAQ page:  
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), founded in 1949, is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. LLS's mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
HOW MUCH MONEY FROM THIS EVENT WILL GO TO LLS? $10 from each registration will go to LLS.
So, runners pay $40, $10 of which goes to the actual charity, and $30 of which goes to Nike.  Oh, but runners get a t-shirt and there are prizes for the winners--though those prizes aren't detailed on the website.

This kind of thing just burns me up.  I love running races--it challenges me, it's fun, and I'm willing to accept the cost of doing them because the experience is worth it. But this is just taking advantage of runners, and Nike really doesn't need the money.  Plus, the thrill of a probably ill-fitting t-shirt is just not an incentive.

Anyone who is intrigued by this race--just run the distance and donate the whole $40 (or more) to the charity of your choice.  If you need the accountability, report back to me your time and I'll post it on the blog.

Shame on you, Nike.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly Workouts: February 3-9

Long run!  I had seven miles on the calendar, but it was 25 degrees out so I cut it a wee bit short down to six miles.  Still, a very good run at a 9:09/mile pace, which is seriously good for me for my six mile loop.
There's some pretty intense hill action on this course, and my Garmin hadn't quite counted all the way to six miles, so I took an extra lap around my block which is that huge elevation dip at the end.  All in all, a very good six miles.  I was able to totally zone out, and keep a good pace.  Most of my runs since it has been cold out have been four miles or less, so I need to get back into the long run rhythm.

Set out for a four mile run, but had to cut it short to just 2.25--23 degrees out with arctic wind and my poor little piggies froze right away.  Easy pace and I didn't wear a watch, but I think I ended up going faster than intended just because I just wanted to get back inside.

Monday is also trash day in my neighborhood, so I can't do speed work because I encounter situations like this all the time:
It's good for agility, at least

After the run, I defrosted in a hot Bikram yoga class.

Rest Day.  Walked to work 2 miles.

Kettlebell workout with Bob Harper minus the burpees.  I suck so hard at burpees, and I live on the second floor and I don't think my downstairs neighbor would appreciate those kinds of sounds at 8am (that's what I tell myself).  Wednesday is also day three of me waking up at 3am and not being able to get back to sleep.  I've been sleeping less soundly for a while, but since Sunday night, I've started looking at the clock and it's 3am every time, and then I lay there like a restless slug until the alarm goes off at 7am.  Suggestions welcome for and natural sleep aids.

I hoped to do four quick miles on my new-to-me treadmill, but the belt on the machine kept slipping around and I felt completely unsafe.   I'm hoping it's just dusty and will fix itself, but I'm worried I might have bought a lemon.  I managed two miles run/walking at a 5 incline then did some ab work.

SNOW RUN!! The Storm of the Century kicked off the morning with a gentle, snow-globesque dusting.  I overslept a bit, but managed to squeeze in a quick four miles before yoga.  There were so many other runners out because most people didn't have work, and that's always fun.
Waaay in the distance in that picture there's a runner in a purple shirt.  I chased her for the first mile and half of my run and finally passed her.  I made it home just in time to get to the 10am yoga class--the only class before the studio closed for weather.  #winning

Woke up to two feet of snow, so no running on this day (still haven't fixed the treadmill).  Instead, I shoveled for 30 minutes and went sledding for an hour.  You know what's exhausting?  Shoveling for 30 minutes and sledding for an hour.  I was going to do a Jillian Michaels workout, but I was just too pooped.
Tree fell down in the middle of my street

Weekly Stats:
14.25 miles
2 Yoga Classes (Studio was closed Saturday)
2 Days Cross Training

This week's Power Song: Quicker by I Blame Coco

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why Do You Love To Run?

I just read an excellent article in The Guardian entitled: Why We love to Run.  I think this part really nailed it down for me:
Running brings us joy. Watch small children when they are excited, at play, and mostly they can't stop running. Back and forth, up and down, in little, pointless circles. I remember, even as an older child, I'd often break into a run when walking along the street, for no reason. There's a great moment in The Catcher in the Rye when Holden Caulfield, caught in the uneasy space between childhood and adulthood, is walking across his school grounds one evening and he suddenly starts to run. "I don't even know what I was running for – I guess I just felt like it," he says.
Other reasons I love to run:
We get so stuck in our routines--house to car to work to car to home, that we rarely just get outside and look around.  I love the quirky little things I notice around town.
I love that I know exactly how far away certain landmarks in town are thanks to extensive google mapping and mileage tracking.

I love the feeling of running down a hill when the wind hits you just right and you feel like you're flying.

I love that my boyfriend never checks the forecast, he just asks me what caliber of jacket he needs.

I love making discoveries!  When I visited my brother last September, I discovered a small state park right next to his apartment that he didn't even know was there.  It had an extensive network of trails, a boat house and an outdoor gym.
I love knowing that my life can at any moment become a spy thriller and I can flee those who would want to capture me.
Racing along out on the trails, or even through the busy streets of a city, splashing through puddles, letting the rain drench us, the wind ruffle us, we begin to sense a faint recollection of that childish joy. Somewhere a primal essence stirs deep within us; this being born not to sit at a desk or read newspapers and drink coffee, but to live a wilder existence. As we run, the layers of responsibility and identity we have gathered in our lives, the father, mother, lawyer, teacher, Manchester United-supporter labels, all fall away, leaving us with the raw human being underneath.

 Why do you love to run?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2013 Race Calendar

These kids are probably faster than me
I am currently going through the wintertime race frenzy where I register for all of my races for the year in one or two days to get the best deals.  Then I start getting cocky because I'm not officially training and not logging that many miles, so I've forgotten how hard all this running really is.

I do this every year.

But, since I'm still euphoric AND I got a new-to-me treadmill that is much, much nicer than my old one, I'm going to ride this wave.

Here's what I have planned for 2013:

March 10: Ocean's Run 1/2 Marathon
I have never run a 1/2 marathon in March, and this may be the most foolish thing I've ever done, but it's supposed to be a flat fast course, I have that new treadmill if it's super cold outside all of February, and I'm just going to count this as a practice race.  It may be folly, but I also managed to register for half price--you can't beat that!

April 7: Jamestown Bridge 10k
This is my third year doing this race and this is the third year it has been in existence--so I have to keep the streak going!  Also, this year I roped two more friends into doing this race with me.
Going up that hill sucks, obviously, but on the way down you feel like you're flying and the views from the top are just stunning.  Last year this was my first race after tearing my adductor, and I walked nearly the whole thing.  This year will be a PR.

April 28: Newport 10 Miler
This is a new race this year and a distance I've never raced before!  I have tricked four other people into running with me, which is a personal record, and another friend who isn't quite ready for that distance is coming along as a sherpa/cheerleader!  This whole talking your friends into running races thing is quite fun, I have to say.

May 12: Cox Rhode Race 1/2 Marathon
This will be my third year doing this race and I hope to PR. I think this is my favorite race, but that may be mostly because it takes place around my house and I take comfort in the fact that I could just quit the race at any moment and walk home.  Strange, I know.  Since it's so close to my house, I can also pre-run the course, if I feel ambitious (who the hell am I kidding, but it's a nice thought).

June 1: Girls on the Run RI 5k
I'm so excited about this!  I wanted to do the winter 5k with this group, but I stupidly got sick.  I'm going to be a Running Buddy for a young girl who will probably run much faster than I can.  It'll be pretty awesome.

July 13: Jamestown 1/2 Marathon
Last year was the first incarnation of this race and it was a complete and utter gong show. The course itself was beautiful (if hot and crazy hilly) and there was good course support, but the porta-potties got delivered after the race was technically supposed to start (it started about 10 minutes late).  Runners actually had to help unload the porta-potties off the truck (which nearly drove over people), and then even though the race was supposed to have started already, they insisted on making some speeches and playing a CD of Jessica Simpson singing the National Anthem.  That was actually pretty funny though, and there was plenty of pizza at the finish line!

October 13: Newport 1/2 Marathon
I have a love/hate relationship with this race.  The first time I ran this race, in 2009, it was awful.  The weather was terrible--freezing rain, temperatures of about 40 degrees and the race organizers had no contingencies in place to deal with anything less than ideal conditions.  You can read my full report here, but I vowed never to give the Newport marathon another dime.  However, I lack conviction and the course is just so damn pretty!  So I've run it every year since then, and they have made tremendous improvements (except there's never enough pizza at the finish).  My beef with the Newport marathon is over, and I'm looking forward to this year with great enthusiasm.

So there you have it, this is the next eight months of my life and if I managed not to get injured, it should be a good eight months.  What do you have planned?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weekly Workouts: January 27-February 2

Saw this on one of my runs--what is it!?!?  
The plan for training/ cross training is as follows:

Bikram yoga three times a week
Running five days a week with Sunday being my long run
Cross-training two days a week

Six mile run in the morning was what was on the calendar--actual mileage, four.  These days my long run is around six miles, but that's mostly due to the unpredictable weather.  My mantra has been 'run until your toes freeze', which is usually around six miles.  As it warms up, I'm going to steadily increase my mileage.
Late afternoon Bikram class.

Planned to run four miles before yoga, but it was too cold. 10am yoga class.

Overslept and failed to do my planned Bob Harper Kettlebell workout (I'd been sick over the weekend and was still exhausted).  Got a ride to work, but walked home two whole miles!

4 miles run in the morning at 9/mile pace.  Walked to work 4 miles.

3.5 miles on the treadmill while watching Biggest Loser (I just can't get enough of that show).  Last day of January and my target mileage for the month was 62.5 which I hit exactly!  I don't think in all my years of tracking my mileage I've actually hit my target for January.  Usually I'm way under, and just make it up once it's warmer.  Huzzah for 2013!!!  Best year ever!

Had yoga and a zWOD on the calendar, but I overslept and then I was just too lazy to go to yoga after work, so we at Indian food instead.  That's practically the same thing, right?

I had originally planned to do the 8am yoga class, but I was just too sleepy.  I've been having a really hard time getting up at a reasonable hour, or even sleeping well overnight. I hope I can figure out why soon because it's really pissing me off. I went to the 10am instead and then ran four quick miles afterward 9/mile pace.  After that, went ice skating with a friend and (thankfully) did not fall down!  I used to be a figure skater (not a good one) and it's amazing how my skills have atrophied!  Once I got in a little practice, I was doing ok, but I cannot remember how to stop and I felt completely out of control out there.  It was fun though, and I'm sure if I practice a bit it will come back to me (most of it).  We'll see...

Weekly Stats:
 15.5 Miles
3 Yoga classes
0 Cross-training, (figure skating doesn't really count)

Here's this week's Power Song: Warrior by Kimbra

Sunday, February 3, 2013

2013: The Best Year Yet

2012 was actually supposed to be the best year yet, but a few things went terribly wrong.

Let's back up.

I've had a pact with myself for a couple years that if I can get my 1/2 marathon time to under two hours, that means I'm ready to start training for a marathon.  I'm not entirely sure that I actually want to run a marathon--I've never finished a half and thought I want to do that again- right now, but it seems like after running 13 1/2 marathons, I should take on a new challenge.  Right?

So 2012 was going to be it.  I was going to train up properly, start cross-training, and absolutely kill it at the Cox Rhode Races 1/2 marathon in May.  This is my hometown race, I'd run it twice at that time, and my current PR was for that race 2:10.  I figured that if I was smart and actually followed a training plan, I'd shatter that PR, no problem.

Instead, I tore my adductor doing yoga.  Yeah, yoga was part of my cross-training, and I got the worst running injury I've ever had doing it.  Plus, it just seems wildly appropriate for someone as inflexible as me. It's like my body was saying, 'what are you doing!?!?!?  I need to stop this!'

If you've never torn your own adductor, I can tell you, it's a weird injury.  I could not figure out exactly where I was hurt.  The pain would sometimes be in my lower abdomen or lower back then migrate down to my crotch.  It hurt to walk, because taking a step forward with that leg used the torn muscle, but I could do the elliptical backward with no problem.  Biking and spin class didn't hurt at all, so I would get all cocky and try to go for a run but barely make it across the street.

I tried every home remedy that has worked for me in the past and even tested out acupuncture, which just seemed to make it worse.  Another weird thing about this injury--it was very hard to ice.
It's right at the top of your inner thigh, which if you've never really paid too much attention it (cause seriously, why would you?) is the meatiest part of the leg.  I probably didn't rehab it as well as I could have, but I really tried!  I promise!

Finally, I went to the doctor after six weeks of just waiting for it to get better on its own (I know, but I just don't like going to the doctor).

I still feel twinges every now and then, but it should be completely healed.

However, in taking time to let my injury heal, I've completely lost my speed--what little speed I had.  I did a few races last year painfully slowly, so this year is the year that I really do it right.

In 2013:
  1. I want a new 1/2 marathon PR
  2. I want to remain injury-free
  3. I want to incorporate cross-training and stick with it
  4. I want to have fun running again!
  5. I should probably start stretching and foam rolling and stuff (it's just so boring)
That's the plan, now I'm going to bundle up and get my long run in.
What are you going to do this year?