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?