Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Training: Weeks 4-5

Getting back my mojo with a beach run, hitting the treadmill for speed work and running with a good friend in Rock Creek Park. 

I started out my training for week four (Sunday 1/14) with a yoga session on Sunday.  My Monday run was supposed to be a short easy run with 8-12 striders, but I substituted in a spin class and strength.  I often feel that spin class is just as good if not better than doing a short easy run since it is more interval based and I really push myself and my heart rate.  Tuesday, I rested as my plan gives me option of rest or cross train.  Weds was supposed to be an 8 mile run that I missed.  I didn't get out until later in the day and it was starting to get dark.  I ran one mile and just realized I just didn't have it in me that day.  I really have never done that.  I was dealing with some stressful situations outside of my running and I think it was affecting it big time.  Thursday was supposed to be another short run with striders and I didn't get out there.  I was feeling like I had lost my running mojo and I was stressing about it big time.  A friend in San Diego, Jess Tobin, suggested on the blog's facebook page to go for a destination run to get my mojo back and so Jim and I decided to head to Rehoboth Beach that following weekend.  Fridays are set to be rest days, but since I had been such a sloth all week I headed to spin class to make up for it.

Saturday we headed to the Delaware shore and it could not have been a better day!  60s and sunny and perfect for running.  I did a ten mile run along the boardwalk, coastal neighborhoods and headed into the Gordon Pond Nature Preserve.  It was so beautiful in there and I was able to run through maritime forests which are my favorite.  The sun and the salt air did wonders for me and I was flying through my splits (running in the low 9s for the 10 mile duration).  I planned to actually run more since I missed my midweek medium run, but my calf got really tight and I decided not to push it.  I came back to my daughter enjoying her time at the beach with daddy while I ran.   We followed that up and enjoyed the beautiful weather sitting outside with some coffee.
 I came back from that trip feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to get after my training!  But of course, immediately following that, the BIG CHILL hit D.C.  It got cold, really, really cold.  It was tough to get up the motivation to get out there.  I actually took the next three days off.  Weds which was supposed to be a 7 mile run, I chose instead to run 4 miles worth of some pretty fast intervals on the treadmill to compensate.  I find some treadmills it can be hard to determine what your pace is since it gives you the treadmill speed, so here's a handy conversion chart.  I did .5 mile high intensity (7:04 miles) followed by .5 mile at an 8:34 pace and alternated that for the four miles, which will be faster than my marathon race pace.  I have to be better about running higher intensity intervals since I still do have shorter races spattered in with my marathon training.  I have an 8k race with DC Roadrunners coming up in two weeks. 

I took Thursday off and on Friday headed to Yoga at the gym with my friend Ryan who was in town visiting.  On Saturday, my super speedy Boston Qualifying friend Anna Savage came over and we ran 9 miles together in Rock Creek Park.  (Sticking to my plan, I was supposed to run 18 miles that day but flip flopped it with my upcoming Weds run since the weather will be much better and we won't have visitors in town since it is so time consuming).  It started to get really icy on the trail as the temps began to drop and in our final mile, it began to snow flurry!  Not my favorite way to run, but we did it and I had great company!  Sunday I took as a rest day and on Monday, my friend Ryan and I did a spin class together again instead of my short easy run.  Tuesday, I headed to the gym for boot camp class followed by a yoga class for my rest or cross train day....I chose to cross train.

Looking ahead the weather should be great tomorrow for my 18 miler....still have to wrap my head around that sometimes...EIGHTEEN MILES!  Holy cow. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Race Review: Seacoast Half Marathon, Portsmouth NH Nov. 2012

Setting:  The race was a beautiful course, (it was the Seacoast Half Marathon after all), and passed some of the neatest areas along the New Hampshire coast, including the Wentworth hotel, New Castle island, plus salt marshes, and coastal views.  

Cost: $60-$65 depending on when you register.

Expo:  None.  But packet pick up was at Runner's Alley in Portsmouth, a great locally owned running store. 

Course: Take a look at the course from my Run Keeper app on my phone...you can't beat a course like this!  I love scenic courses because there is just so much to look at as you run.  As I crossed the bridge in front of the historic Wentworth by the Sea hotel, I took a good look around, took a huge breath of the fresh salt air and just could not stop smiling.  I love races like that.

The course was limited to a smaller race field...about 1200 I believe and it sold out in August!  So if you are planning on doing it make you register early.

The start line was nice because we were able to use Portsmouth High School to stay warm and for bathrooms and bag check.  

Jim got a PR with a finish time of 1:29:01 (6:48/mile) and finished 20th overall across the finish line.  I finished only two minutes slower than my PR and came in at 1:53:32 (8:37/mile).  I was having an "off" day and was just not feeling right for the first half of the course.  Otherwise, I think it would have been a PR for me.  It was a mostly flat course, comfortably cool and lots of crowd support.  People sat out on their lawns to cheer us on as my ran by their houses.  It had a lot of community support and that is always  nice to see.

Finish:  It was a pure downhill finish which I love.  Here I am sprinting all out,  about to pass a few guys spring towards the finish!

Here we are happy after the race

I was able to meet up with my friend from college Amy Warner.  Amy ran the race and after the finish we headed into Portsmouth and had lunch and a beer at the Portsmouth Brewery Amy and I have been virtual training partners in a way over facebook since we live so far apart.  When I see she's gone out for a run that day, it kicks me into gear to go complete mine as well!  Thanks Amy!

When we got back Avery loved seeing mommy and daddy with medals around our necks!

Overall, another great race.  We did this as a destination race and I highly recommend it.  It was worth flying up from DC for!  There is so much to do on the NH seacoast and it is so beautiful.  

Grade:  A

Race Review: Parks Half Marathon Bethesda, MD September 2012

Setting and Course:  The Parks Half Marathon course goes from Rockville to downtown Bethesda as a point to point course.  The neat part was not only did it mostly go on the Rock Creek Trail through the park, but it also went next to our house (well a few houses away) and took part on a portion of the trail that we run almost every day.  Over 2200 people ran it but luckily the course didn't hit the trail until mile 2 and people had a chance to spread out a bit.   The start line was a little tight because of where they placed the port-a-potties and the lines for those were intersecting with the start corrals.  That was a little confusing.  There were well marked pace groups, which is always really nice.  I started out with the 1:50 pace group, but took off ahead of them.  The 1:50 pacer caught up and passed me at mile 10, so I knew at that point I wouldn't break 1:50 but it's a nice way to gauge your finishing time. 

Cost:  Depending on when you register, the registration fee is anywhere from $50-$60.  

Transportation:  Since it's a point to point course, you need a way to get back to the start line to your car.  The finish is right at the Bethesda metro stop and so you can just take the metro right back to the start in Rockville.  Very convenient!  

Shirt:  Brooks Technical long sleeve tee.  Pretty nice!  And gender specific sizing....always a plus!

Fun: They gave out temporary tattoos before the race, so of course I put one on! 

Finish: Near the end the course goes on the Capital Crescent Trail and enters the tunnel under downtown Bethesda before veering off to a local park for the finish.  Here I am exiting the tunnel heading for the finish, passing this guy on my way to a new PR of 1:51!

Coming up the final hill full of smiles!
The finish party was held in a neighborhood park.  It was full of good food and lots of local booths set up giving out free samples.  We had some wonderful free iced tea.  As a finishing prize instead of medals, they gave out Parks Half Marathon Trucker Hats.  Here I am with my husband after the race, Jim got a PR too at 1:31.

Each of us beat our previous best by about 1 minute, not bad considering we hadn't raced in 4 months (due to selling our house and moving north by a few states)!

Overall, I really liked this race.  I felt it was highly organized and a great run for the low cost.  No finisher's medal, but that's just fine by me.  I thought it was a great course and a great time of year and fun to see all the other runners on the metro heading back to Rockville.

Grade: A-

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Training: Weeks 1-3

So, the first three weeks of training for my marathon are officially over.  Wow, that was fast.  And they were NOT uneventful!  The first week of official training, I set out on a twelve mile run with my husband on Christmas Day in Charleston, SC after not feeling too great all day long, but I need I had to get out there and run.  Two miles in I was not focused on what I was doing, my foot landed wrong on the lip of a paved trail, twisted my ankle and fell flat on the ground.  I skinned my hands and knee, but that was the least of it.  My ankle was in such sharp pain, I was almost afraid it was broken!  With tears in my eyes I rubbed it and tried to walk on it a bit until I got some feeling back into it.  Then my husband said he would go get the car and I said, no let's do this.  I pushed out 6 more miles.  My ankle continued to bother me (and still does a little) so I took it easy the first week of training.

Second week of training, the ankle was still bothering me and I was developing some severe numbness in my footbed and toes.  This was something I had dealt with on and off for a few months, but nothing too severe.  I always just thought it was my socks bunching and causing the numbness.  Now, it was almost unbearable at times and was now in both feet.  I did some research and it looked like it might be Morton's Neuroma.  I did a few short runs, skipped my midweek long run and just did the long run of 15 miles.  My long run of 15 miles was set to be a DC Roadrunner's race, the Al Lewis 10 miler and then run the five miles back to our house, but I got the start line and almost didn't run it at all.  My ankle was still giving me soreness and I was unsure of what my numb feet would do.  With minutes to go to the start, I said heck let's do this thing.  I'm glad I did, but the last two miles were a true test of my will (and it shows in my splits!)...I thought my feet might fall off!  Luckily, as long as I am not running (I can be standing or walking) the numbness goes away. So post race, my husband and I hung out for a few minutes, had some gatorade, ate a banana and with the numbness gone, headed home.  I liked having that race as part of my training because it definitely made me amp up my speed a notch.  I have a tough time in training to pick up my speed, but in a distance race have no problem keeping conversational speed at an 8:30 pace, but in training that would be a no go.  It's funny how that works!  After that race, and how my feet felt, I decided I really need to go see a podiatrist and figure out this foot thing once and for all.  So I finished out the week not entirely sure I was going to be able to pull this whole full marathon training thing off....not with the spat of "bad luck", I seemed to be going through!

Third week of training...it gets better!  Finally!  My ankle starts feeling better, though not all there.  I was able to complete almost all my runs for the week.  Wahoo!  I rested Sunday, took Monday's run off, Tues was supposed to be a cross-train day and I took that off.  Weds I did my mid-week medium run of 8 miles and then headed to the gym that evening with my friend Andrea to make up for my cross-training from Tuesday and did a circuit training class (strength and cardio).  I got up early on Thursday and did a Boot camp  and yoga class as well and skipped my short run for that day since I was still worried about my feet.  4 workouts in 24 hours caused me to go to bed pretty early on Thursday night!  Friday, I took as a rest day.  Friday I had my appointment with the podiatrist.  He came recommended through other runners with Montgomery County Road Runners since he actually runs for them himself and has run Boston.   He checked out my feet and he also thinks that it looks like Morton's Neuroma.  He tapped parts of my ankle and I told him it was sore and he said it was consistent with a sprain...so there you go, I had officially sprained my ankle my first days of training.  Way to go, me.  He ordered an ultrasound of my feet which I was able to schedule at the earliest for Feb. 1st...sad.  The ultrasound is going to check the thickness of my nerves for scar tissue.  He did place an insert into my running shoes to lift my mid-foot and take pressure off the nerve.  I was hopeful and ready to test them out on my next run.  Saturday was my long run of 16 miles!  I have to admit, I was dreading this a bit on Friday all day.  At this point in my training, it's not about the endurance.  I know my body can do it...it's mental.  It's the mental component of making myself run that far and not being bored and not wanting to stop.  With the inserts in my shoes, I am happy to report that I felt no numbness!  This is amazing!  And I got through the 16 miles, no problem!  Actually, I finished and totally felt I had more miles in me = awesome.  I mentally broke it up into 4 four mile runs.  After each four miles, I told myself I could have a water break and two of my cliff bar shot blocks. This worked out perfectly since they come in a package of six.  This worked really well for me.  Once I got home and settled in, my only problem I realized was that were the insert went in my insole to raise my foot, caused me to blister....right in the middle of my foot.  So weird.  I did a short yoga sequence on my own to stretch out after my shower and then spent the rest of the day enjoying my family.

Today is Sunday as I write this and I did yoga at my gym (that I even convinced my hubby to come to with me for his first time..he did great by the way!) and I am happy to report no soreness from my 16 miler at all.  Bring on Week 4!

Product Review: "The Mat" Lululemon


I FINALLY bought myself a new yoga mat!  My other one was about ten years old...seriously...got it in college.  With the past year of at least doing two yoga sessions a week, it just wasn't cutting it anymore.  I get very sweaty hands and feet when I do yoga and so I need to be able to "stick" to the mat and not slide.  My Gaiam mat was causing some major slippage issues so I knew I needed to find an extra sticky mat.  

I read some reviews online and decided to head down to my local Lulu and check out the mats.  Indeed this mat was cushioned and grippy from what I could tell in the store.  The sales person told me that they actually made it out of the same material as a tennis racket handle.  Pretty neat.  Plus it has some antimicrobial additive that prevents mold and mildew because mats can get pretty stinky.  I also noticed it is a tad larger than my previous mat as well.  

I have now tried it out for two yoga sessions this week and I would say that I LOVE it.  If you are in search of a new, extra sticky mat, definitely check it out.  Plus, it comes in some nice colors.  I got grey, but there is also a really nice mint green....I got my strap in the mint.
The only downside is the weight.  It is definitely heavy!  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Health and Nutrition: Food=Fuel

I wanted to have a section of my blog dedicated to recipes because I really feel that nutrition is important, that FOOD=FUEL.   I noticed a huge difference in my performance as an athlete when I began looking at food not as a reward, or pure enjoyment, but actual fuel to help me perform at my best.  Nutrient dense foods fuel the body much better than "fluff foods".

I had always been interested in nutrition, but I started really taking healthy eating seriously when I began to want to increase my running speed (and it worked, not to mention a big reduction in body fat percentage!).  We've cut out almost all processed foods in our house.  I try to make as much as I can from scratch.  My husband and I just to be addicted to Diet Coke and now we never drink it.  We've instead substituted club soda and add a splash of grapefruit juice for flavor.  I became very wary of all the additives in processed foods and the fact that a lot of them have not been fully tested in terms of how they affect our bodies, let alone tested in conjunction with the others that you are ingesting simultaneously.

In addition to cutting out processed foods, we also began to limit our intake of added sugars.  We would look at the labels and look at the sugar content.  Anything with high sugar, or added sugar was a no go.  We entirely get way too much sugar in our American diets.  I've found one thing that really helps is just never to have the bad stuff in the house.  We don't have any junk food in our house and so when the snacking urge hits, there are fruits, cut up vegetables, yogurt, etc to choose from.  After a while, things that I used to like (that were bad for me), I don't really have a desire for anymore.

We have completely cut out meat in our diets as well.  I am a Pescatarian and my husband describes himself as a "meat minimalist".  He will indulge very rarely in an italian sub :-)  I only cook shrimp at the house, but we do often go out for sushi and are big fans of lobster.  I do feel through time, I will probably move closer and closer to a vegan, plant based diet. 
I try to add in as many vegetables and "super foods" as I can through out the day because I feel this is also something lacking in the typical American diet.  Vegetables are chock full of nutrients and relatively low in calories, so they are a win win.  I try to sneak them in to anything that I happen to be making, soups, orzo, sandwiches, smoothies, etc.   I sprinkle chia seeds on top of my oatmeal and yogurt, add to smoothies,  and on top of other foods.

A huge motivator to me and something that I constantly think back to when making my food choices is the documentary, "Forks Over Knives".  If you haven't seen it yet, you should!  It is on netflix streaming, or you can borrow it from your local library.

Happy Eating!

If you've seen "Forks Over Knives", what did you think?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My 2013 Goals

I'm finally getting around to posting my 2013 resolutions goals.

What I want to accomplish in 2013...

  • Run a marathon! Hopefully in March at Rock n Roll Nations Capital. Then, I will be able to call myself a marathoner :-)
  • Run a sub 1:49 half-marathon 
  • Run a sub 22 min 5k
  • Expand my blog and really put myself out there
  • Continue to cross-train (yoga and spin)
  • Get hired to teach group fitness at a local gym
  • Enroll to become a certified personal trainer 
  • Help at least one other person achieve their fitness related goals
What are your goals?  Do you write them out? I'd love to hear about it!

Race Review: Flying Pirate Half Marathon Outerbanks, NC April 2012

The Setting: The Outer Banks (OBX), so of course we made a trip out of running this race.  We rented a beach house with my cousins and our dogs.

We stayed in Kill Devil Hills, near the Wright Brothers Memorial and just one short block from the beach in a 3-story beach house!  It had it's own private pool and hut tub, plus a deck on the 2nd and 3rd stories from which you could see the ocean.

We drove out Friday morning and when we got there we had lunch at the OBX Brewing Company.  You may remember from our previous posts that it is the USA's first wind powered brewery, and we also love it there because they have huge outdoor enclosed yard behind their brewery with playgrounds, picnic tables, etc.  Avery can play and we can just sit and enjoy our beer and lunch without worry of her getting away or getting into trouble.

Here we are with Charline and Christine out on the back yard

Avery loves playing on the Pirate Ship playground and peering out one of the port holes!

We really loved our house.  It had 4 bedrooms plus 5 bathrooms!  The ground floor had a game room with a pool table, and as mentioned the swimming pool was a hit with the dogs!  Here they are jumping in together for a toy.  We caught them in mid-jump right before they hit the water!

The Expo:
  At the race expo, Avery got to meet a pirate!  It was small, but I don't really buy many things anyway.  I did purchase arm sleeves, some Gu, and I found a discontinued pair of my favorite running shoes so I had to buy them of course. 

The Race: This is actually in two parts because ran the "Challenge" which consisted of a 5k on Saturday morning and the Half Marathon on Sunday morning.  The 5k race was interesting, the course had us run up and down the Wright Brothers Memorial--which is a huge (and steep!!) hill. 
My cousin Lori and I running neck and neck!

After we stuck around for the awards, we headed back to the house and went out to the beach since it was so nice out!  Can't beat that April OBX weather!
On Saturday it was so beautiful that we hardly could believe the weather forecast for the following day...

It was supposed to be a very cool, rainy, windy, and possibly stormy morning for the Half Marathon.  Well, it was indeed that.  Luckly the wind wasn't quite as strong that morning (but did pick up later that day).  The start line had corrals to keep it from getting too crowded and there were adequate port-a-pottys so it made for a very smooth start.  The course wove through the coastal neighborhoods and along the water.  Not as much course support because the weather was pretty wet.   The last three miles were off-road...first on a hard-packed crushed stone road and then the last mile on mulch trails over short steep hills, sand dunes in the maritime forest.  With the heavy rain and soaking wet heavy shoes, the last few miles were very tough.  We joked afterwards that it was like one of those "mud runs" through obstacle courses since it was wet on the trails and because we got so muddy from splashing up mud.  Here we are passing the Wright Brother's Memorial, notice how different it was this day than the previous day's 5k!

Here I am cruising towards the finish line and another PR of 1:52:37!

Afterwards we got a picture with the Pirate
And a group picture with our medals

After the race we had some nice tasty beers and breakfast sandwiches at the after party, then went back to the house to warm up in the hot tub. 

Overall, great race because I absolutely love the OBX location and atmosphere.  The addition of the "challenge" option really made us feel like rockstars, and we ended up with three medals total!  

Grade: A

Race Review: RunRaleigh Half Marathon Raleigh, NC April 2012

The Race: This was the first  year for the Run Raleigh Half Marathon,   It was purposely limited to a relatively small 1500 racer limit because 5 miles of it were on the Raleigh Greenway Trail system.  It started at Cameron Village in Raleigh.   Here I am ready to leave the house at 5:30am.

And so was Avery, my littlest cheerleader.

What a good sport she was letting us get her up way before she normally wakes up.

It was a comfortably cool morning when we showed up at Cameron Village

One last bit of support from Avery and I went to wait in the port-a-potty line for one final go:
The line for the restrooms was super long.  I would say there was at least 100 of us all still in line as they announced one minute to start time.  We all reassured each other that the event was chip timed so we could always start after the gun and it wouldn't matter for our time or placing (btw we were wrong due to chip time malfunction grrr).  So the gun went off and we all still waited.  I got to use the rest room and then was able to hop in with the very back of the pack as they crossed the mat to start.

I saw my husband Jim and Avery set up on the course at mile 2.5 and surprised me with this sign:  Totally made me grin ear to ear!

My husband was my "course support" by taking my jacket at mile 2.5, providing a new hand-held water bottle for mile 5 and of course having Avery ring a cow bell and yell "GO GO MOMMA!!" at four different spots on the course.  Usually, both my husband and I run the same race, so having a cheering section was a really nice perk!

It was a tough hilly course and even though the net elevation gain was zero (since it started at the same location where it ended), the total elevation gain along the course was about 2,000!  There was also a huge steep hill at the beginning of the final mile where almost everyone was walking.  The best part was the downhill stretch to the finish where I was in a full sprint to the finish line in sight!
Spectator giving me a high five!
Both feet off the ground in full sprint down the hill towards the finish!

My finish time on the clock was 1:58:33, a new PR by 17 minutes!  However I really ran it faster because the race timing company said due to "human error" the start line didn't pick up the chips so nobody got a chip time.  Considering that I started in the very back of the pack (due to long port-a-potty lines), I finished at least 30-60 seconds faster than that but we'll never know the real time.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a beer at the finish area

The Finish:  There definitely was a nice downhill finish, but there wasn't much of an after-party like at other races.  Just a very small beer garden (and the beer wasn't even good!).

Overall, an average race that could definitely stand to make improvements for the future.  Especially in regards to the amount of port-a-pottys at the start and the chip timing system malfunction.  It was a nice scenic tour of the city of Raleigh.

Grade: C

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Recipe: Green Power Smoothie!

A delicious green smoothie feel of nutrients, fiber to keep you full, and tastes delicious.  Seriously, even my two year old drinks them.

I use frozen fruits and veggies just because its cheaper and easier.

Put all in a blender:
1 frozen banana,
handful of frozen mango chunks,
a few heaping handfuls of frozen kale or spinach,
a scoop of wheatgrass powder (find at a health food store/whole foods...amazing benefits!)
a tablespoon of spirulina powder (find at a health food store/whole foods...amazing benefits!)
4 tbs hemp protein powder,
good sprinkle of chia seeds (find at a health food store/whole foods...amazing benefits!)
1/4 the size of the blender of Trader Joes tropical carrot juice (I find this really adds a nice flavor, add more to taste)
and then fill to top of blender with water.
Adjust amounts according to your taste.  Wheatgrass and Spirulina can take a little while to get used to so you may want to add less at first and with each smoothie try to add a little more.

I put it in those reusable Starbucks cups to make it simple and portable.

I often times will drink these for lunch before eating anything else.  Then gauge how hungry I still am.  It's a super easy way to get in some fruits and veggies in the middle of the day without a salad and the protein is great for muscle recovery.