Thursday, October 9, 2014

International Vacationing and Running: Compatible or not?

So, here we are 24 days away from NYC. I have been running, training, LTB-ing and... traveling!

Matt and I just got back last week from 13 days in Europe (France, Monaco, Italy) and had an amazing time. The food...the landscape...the architecture...the culture...I could go on for pages and pages (and may very well do this later if I can find time).

I alluded earlier that I had a significant trip planned---but did not mention that it was occurring very close to the peak of my training. I have really been busting it this training cycle (pulling more "doubles" than I would have anticipated and getting up for 6am barre classes and 6:30am running groups---who AM I?!?!) and having a big "X factor" in the middle of my training really concerned me. Would I undo all the hard work/gains I had made over the past 11 weeks?

I am using the NYC Virtual Training Plan (which I LOVE and would use again) and so I posted a question  to one of the coaches asking what I should do. Really, I just wan't sure what kind of facilities would be available at the hotels...if it would be safe to run in the cities we were visiting...if it would even be practical? I mean, let's be honest I knew there was no way I was getting in an 18-miler in Europe---but I could do my best to try and get in the shorter runs or interval sessions if there was a reasonable area or treadmill available. Coach Kim wrote back advising me to play it by ear, so I packed my shoes and exercise gear and headed overseas hoping for the best. I even bought and packed a Pure Barre DVD because some of the hotel descriptions advertised in-room DVD players and I thought that would be another good option.

NOT what happened
 (but a cool mural on a butcher shop
window in Beaune, France)
So what happened?
Let's just say I am glad we walked A TON. EVERYWHERE. Literally for hours every day. I only wish I had worn a pedometer so I knew the insane amount of walking that took place. I'm not complaining, just saying I knew easily it was miles and miles almost every day. I actually didn't gain any weight while I was gone and honestly I can credit it to the constant movement in our lives despite daily wine/cheese/gelato/etc indulgences.

I think I probably could have safely run in Italy (we were staying in Sorrento and I saw a few locals running for exercise), but the timing didn't work out because we were already getting up early to go do things and we were also going to bed late-ish.
he DVD players? Invisible. Fitness Centers in the hotels? Non-existent.

I "formally" worked out exactly ONE time while we were away and it was the last day we were there! We finally made it to our one "Americanized" hotel near the airport (Hilton Garden Inn Rome Airport) before our early flight the next morning and at about 10:00 at night, I declared that I was "going to the gym". Matt looked at me like I was crazy but I told him I just needed a good "sweat" before a long day of travel the next day. And that was true. While I had been active, I really craved a nice cardio session so I headed down and predictably had the small, but adequate, gym to myself. I cranked up the one TV station that was in English and busted out 5K @ a 9:40 pace (oops, meant to take it a little easier but damn KPH conversion--haha) and rounded it out with a nice strength session with some free weights and body weight resistance. Mission accomplished.

More than anything it was nice to know that I didn't die from the effort and made me feel confident that I could jump back into training when I got home.

Since returning home, I've done exactly that and my body has felt really good.I even completed a "double" the day after we got home (a 5.5 mile run and a 1 hour Pure Barre class) and was fine the next day. My big test is the 20 miler this weekend but I think if I can get the weather to cooperate (because that's really in my control!) I should be fine. I felt REALLY good after my planned 11 last weekend. Granted 11 is not 20, but I'm pretty sure I could have done 20 last week if it was required.

Moral of the story: Traveling and missing a few runs in the middle of your training cycle isn't going to kill you, so stop stressing about it. Is it ideal? Probably not. But it's more important to be present in the great opportunity to travel. Be as active as possible and do what you can and know the roads (and treadmills) will be waiting for you when you get home!

From one of our walks in Eze, France (outside of Monaco)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

NYC Marathon Training Week #2 Update

Delayed recap of week #2, fueled by a trip out of town and ongoing remodeling of my house which has essentially displaced us out of the main living level and into the bedrooms or out on the patio when we're home. I missed a run this week, partially on motivation factor, though worked out all 7 days (yes, I know, rest is my friend) and 9 in a row. Week #3's Monday rest day WAS taken for those who might read and think "over training". And believe it or not, I did get up for a 5:30am Pure Barre class (4:45 wake up!) which was worth it in exchange for the shenanigans of Thursday evening. I also kind of missed my "double days" this week (WEIRD). It's amazing what our bodies will do when we truly ask them to commit to the load and then also fuel them properly.

In summary:
Planned miles: 24
Completed miles: 17.8 plus 3 Pure Barre classes (3 hours total), 1 Body Pump class (1 hour) and a few short walks with my dogs (not documented in the mileage above)

Training highlight: Feeling like a total bad ass rocking out my 8 mile "long run" Friday after work (and before driving to Auburn) even though I was TIRED from Thursday's concert and my feet were still swollen from the heels/hours of standing and dancing. Mind over matter.

Non-training highlight: Thursday night Luke Bryan concert with my friend Nicole. 

Waiting for the main man to take the stage
Some people really push back against "bro country" but I enjoy his music and the imagery it evokes (and let's be honest, he's HOT--though I liked his music before I knew what he looked like!). His radio stuff is pretty good, but honestly like with most artists the more you explore their albums the more good stuff you find. He (and his opening acts) gave a lot of energy to the crowd and I'm hoping to make it back to a "Farm Tour" concert in Auburn this fall.

"Shut it Down" on piano (One of those "unreleased" songs I was referring to above)
Sorry for the blurry phone pic, I had brought my good camera (with the zoom) from home and then left it at work on my desk for the actual concert! Pissed. Oh well. Next time :)

Favorite gear this week: Without a doubt my smart phone. Internet radio (Pandora and Spotify both have uses in my world), You Tube and even my online Italian lessons got me through my running this week.

To Do Next Week: I still need to order some more socks and continue stocking up on new/retiring my old sports bras. I've got a coupon and I keep leaving it at home in the renovation chaos.

And the details:
Monday: Plan--OFF; Actual-- 1 hour Pure Barre, plus walking Roxy 1 mile.

Tuesday: Plan--5 miles "Regular Run"; Actual--4.8 miles, avg pace 9:48. Jemison Trail plus add on segment. I realized that left my GPS at home so I was running mostly by feel and just clocked a start and end time. Could have tried to estimate .2 but really, why? Close enough. Plus, felt great about a strong performance despite 90+% humidity. I was saved by tree cover and overcast skies.

Wednesday: Plan--5 miles run "As You Feel"; Actual--5 miles AYF. Met up with Amy for the Trak Shak run. Extremely small crowd because it has been monsooning 30 minutes before the start and we weren't sure if we would be totally rained out of our meet up. Light drizzle to begin but cleared up throughout the run. Felt good and kept easy, conversational effort. Walked Roxy when I got home (.6 miles)

Thursday: Plan--6 miles Intervals; Actual--1 hour Pure Barre at 5:30am! I ran this workout last Sunday and knew that with the concert Thursday night after work if I was going to do *anything* it would have to be super early before work. Not going to essentially "double" on runs within 12 hours (or run 4 days in a row), so I was happy to make an early PB class fit in here. Dare I say, the 4:45am wake up wasn't actually that bad but I was hungry ALL DAY and felt a little energy lag after lunch. On the half mile stretch to get out of my neighborhood I saw 5 runners (2 groups) and 4 walkers (2 groups). WTF?!?! I was really surprised to see that many people in a residential area out at 5:15am. 

Friday: Plan--OFF; Actual--8 miles "long run". Avg 10:33. I was headed out of town for the weekend to attend a memorial and knew that after driving late my motivation to get up and do 8 solo miles Saturday morning would be low--and then it would be hanging over my head Sunday. So even though I was exhausted from staying out until midnight and then working another full day--AND my feet were still sore/swollen from the heels I wore to the concert, I headed to the gym to just GET IT DONE.

I was fueled by the "post concert" high so to break up the time I listened to some LB on Spotify, watched a few funny videos on YouTube and listened to one of my online Italian lessons.

Mile 0-2.5: 10:40 pace, Mile 2.5-4.5: 10:31. Took a quick break for Gu and to towel off. Mile 4.5-6.5: pace varied between 10:00 and 10:40. Mile 6.5-8: 10:40 and gradually moved it up every couple minutes to finish the run at a solid 9:40.

Foam rolled for 15 minutes once I got to Auburn.
Saturday: Plan--"Flex Day"; Actual--1 hour Body Pump. Took the class at my aunt's gym. Had a little celebrity/athlete run-in here, but I'll be discreet ;) since it's a private club and also some place I'll be returning to in the fall when I'm in town for football games. My right knee/IT band continue to feel a little "tweaky" so came home and foam rolled for 15 minutes after class. Also walked my aunt's dog (Duke) .6 miles.

Sunday: Plan--8 miles "long" run; Actual--1 hour Pure Barre. Walk Roxy and Bali .6 miles. I probably could have/should have made up the 6 miles today but I was BEAT. We got back from Atlanta (from Auburn) close to midnight on Saturday. Then Sunday I had to drive back to Birmingham. Upon return, found my living room knee deep in renovations. I passed out for a short mid-afternoon nap and basically drug myself to Pure Barre at 5:30pm--and really that was mostly because I'm just trying to make the most of my (expensive) unlimited monthly membership!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

NYC Marathon Training Week #1 Update

Sign that marathon training has resumed...
Can't believe week #1 is in the books. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how training turned out this week, though you'll notice flexibility with the plan already! The beginning of the week was brutally hot and humid and though we had a bit of "polar vortex" in the middle of the week, my schedule didn't line up for me to truly enjoy the mid-summer cool down due to some appointments and the way the schedule was prescribed. Doing "doubles" after work pretty much makes me useless in the evening productivity-wise, so on days in the future where I am trying to double up with runs and PB, I might have to get creative with the scheduling or try to move one of the workouts to the morning (and I am SO NOT a morning person).

In summary:
Planned miles: 21
Completed miles: 21.8 plus 3 hours of Pure Barre and a few short walks with my dog, Roxy (not documented in the mileage)

Training highlight: Getting to take a Pure Barre class with my aunt who was visiting this weekend; runner-up: Rocking a 6 mile interval workout this afternoon and feeling excellent pretty much the entire time.

Favorite gear this week: It's a tie between...My blender (recovery smoothies in between double workouts were essential to keeping me going) and my foam roller (massage therapist identified that my IT band was tight before training even started so I REALLY REALLY need to make this my BFF in the coming days)

To Do Next Week: I probably need to order some more socks and continue stocking up on new/retiring my old sports bras. Laundry is a never-ending quest around here. I can't imagine if I had kids...

And the details:
Monday: Plan--5 miles "Regular Run"; Actual-- 5.1 miles, avg pace 10:13 (plus an untimed .5 w/u and c/d. Location: Lakeshore Greenway. Brutally hot and humid and I pretty much bargained with myself the entire time to keep going. Was supposed to be a progression run but once I dialed back, I couldn't find any "get up and go". So humid that my socks and shoes were actually "squishy" at the end and I took them off for the drive home!

Tuesday: Plan--5 miles "Regular Run"; Actual--5 miles, avg pace 10:17. After yesterday's soul crusher, I renewed my membership at the Rec so I could get access to the treadmill again! Better than outside but I'm pretty sure the gym's AC couldn't keep up today because my water bottle was "steamy" within the first half mile. Ran at prescribed pace (between 10:20 and 10:31) throughout the run and then finished the last .5 miles with progressive "kick" to the finish.

Went home for a quick outfit change and protein smoothie before hitting up a late (8pm) 1 hour Pure Barre class. LTB!

Wednesday: Plan--OFF; Actual--OFF. Wouldn't normally do this but had a medical exam on Thursday that prohibited working out for 24 hours prior. (I'm fine, just worth a bit more to Matt now in the event I die anytime soon...) Took advantage of this to get a needed manicure and catch up on laundry.

Thursday: Plan--4 miles run "As You Feel"; Actual--4 miles "AYF". I LOVE that this plan specifically sets workouts that are meant to be untimed/unpaced--hence the term "As You Feel". Not only is it mentally freeing but it also allows you to run with people who may not be at your training paces without feeling "guilty" (if that makes any sense). I don't normally (EVER) care about that but when in "training" I really do try to make the most of what I'm "supposed" to be doing. Met up with my close friend (and first running buddy dating back YEARS) Amy for a social run on Jemison trail (part technical, part paved). My runs with her are so good for the soul and I look forward to them always.

And like Tuesday, outfit change and protein smoothie before another 1 hour Pure Barre class.

Friday: Plan--OFF; Actual--1.7 miles EASY. Matt's idea to take one of our dogs (Bali) out for an easy run/walk while waiting for family to arrive. Would have been more but it started raining and there was no need to push this.

Saturday: Plan--"Flex Day"; Actual--1 hour Pure Barre. With Flex Days, the plan gives you mileage if you feel like running or leaves room for a day of cross training (XT) with no running. You can pretty much bet I'm always going to choose the XT option here.

Sunday: Plan--7 miles "long" run; Actual--6 miles Intervals (1.5 w/u @10:30, 6x800 with 1 minute rest between sets--2 @ 9:50, 2 @9:40, 2 @9:31, 1.5 c/d @10:30) own mental game got the better of me today. My aunt and I were supposed to run 5 of my 7 together and I kept waiting for her to wake up, but she opted to sleep in. By the time she was up, it was hotter than either of us wanted and she wanted to get a few other things accomplished while in Birmingham that we didn't get to yesterday. No biggie but they didn't leave until mid-afternoon and I really wasn't in the mood for a solo humidity fest or a 7 mile slog on the mill. However, I am always up for speed or intervals, so I checked out my week #2 training to see this on the schedule and subbed the workout. Felt excellent the entire time and while I know I can't make that a regular substitution, it was nice to end the week on a "win, so I'll take it this time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Start Spreading the News...

NYC Marathon training started today....

I don't even know where to begin after my silence from the past 18 months. All I can say is that 2013 was a CRAZY and AMAZING year both personally and professionally and after the spring, long distance training really dropped off while I focused on work and personal stuff.

No I didn't have a baby...but I did get married :)

It was below freezing and if you look closely (above) you can see our hands are purple!
They were thawed out by this point :)

He got me unexpectedly!

By no means did I stop running or working out but with working 50-60 hours/week (not including commute), planning a destination wedding (no coordinator) and traveling nearly every weekend during the fall (football season!), I needed to focus on QUALITY. HIIT and strength training became my go-to, mixed with shorter (3-5 mile) runs, yoga, zumba (and here in 2014...Pure Barre). I also started working with a nutritionist (NO, not for the wedding...) and have made some fairly significant changes to my diet (but I'll leave it at that for now).

So, anyway, after 3 years of striking out in the NYC marathon lotto, I finally got in this year via guaranteed entry and will be running the marathon on November 2nd. That's 16 weeks from yesterday in case anyone is counting ;)

I've seen some pretty decent improvements in my fitness and pace over the past year and entertained getting a coach but after doing a bit of research (and realizing that the coach I truly wanted was WAYYYYY out of my budget), I've signed up for the NYRR Virtual Marathon Trainer. Not only was the price right ($49.99 for the whole program!) but I love that when setting up the program it took into account how I have recently been training, past running experience, and how I want to approach this training cycle. There is a place online to log each workout (paces, RPE, details, etc) and the trainer will actually adjust based on how I'm actually performing and translate this into predicted race day performance along the way. (For example, after logging tonight's miserable 5 miler in 97 degree heat/10000% humidity, the trainer has already adjusted my paces for tomorrow's run!)

Don't worry, you won't be getting a daily diary, but I will be posting a weekly log of training for others to use as reference or if you just happen to be curious.

I'll also try to update on some of my other shenanigans, including other fitness classes or experiences I'm getting into and reviews of some travels as they come up. (7 months later and we still haven't taken a honeymoon but one is in the works. We'll see how this may or may not impact my training!)

If there is anything else anyone is curious about, just leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer. I've missed this outlet and am happy to be back in action!

One more non-sweaty picture since those have consistently dominated the blog over the years. Yes, I wear real clothes (not just running shorts and wedding dresses...or running capris and high heels...)

Yes, I am a die hard CFB fan! Thanks to my cousin for the sign and for accompanying me on our CA adventure.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Running Capris + High Heels: Setting a Trend for the New Year

Happy New Year's Eve! My house is absolutely rocking right now...Matt went to bed at approximately 6:30p (yes, you read that correctly) and the dogs decided that snuggling with him was more interesting than hanging out with me, so I have been left to my own devices (read: getting ready to have champagne for a party of 1 and updating ye ol' blog).

Anyway...I have to tell one on myself b/c this is too classic not to share with the someone.

This morning I got up bright and early to test out the Red Mountain Park trails at our track club's resolution run. I ran late yesterday afternoon and debated whether or not to attend this morning (for various reasons) but am glad I did! In hindsight I wish I had done the 5 mile route (I did the 3) but I wasn't sure how soul crushing the trails were going to be (Ruffner bad?) and didn't want to kill myself given that I've been down out and with a nasty cold for the better part of this last week and am still not back to 100% even after 2 runs and a Zumba class to my credit since Saturday.

So, to be honest, part of my motivation for getting out to this particular run was driven by the fact that I needed to go to my office to retrieve a recipe that I had accidentally left in a folder on my desk. It's Matt's cornbread recipe that he is making for the New Year and I COULD NOT find it on the internet anywhere (turns out I was looking on the wrong sites but I digress...) My office is about 10 minutes from RMP and I rationalized that I would feel less pathetic about going downtown if I was practically there already.

I was on vacation today but the office was open. Without going into too much detail I work in a fairly conservative corporate office and running clothes are most certainly NOT on the approved dress code. I was pretty sure it would be a dead zone but knew there was a chance my boss might be in and was pretty sure some colleagues on my hall would be working. The plan was to pull a pair of jeans on over my running tights, slip on a pair of flats and wear my dressy, knee length coat (buttoned) and add some lip gloss so that I would at least look human and not questionable. To be clear, jeans are also NOT on the dress code, but given that I was not working today, it's practically a holiday and I would be slipping in and out quickly I knew it would be fine.

As I got back to my car after the run I quickly realized that while I had managed to grab my coat, I had apparently forgotten to pick up my jeans and flats after I set them down when I went to find my Garmin at the last minute. CRAP!!! I did not want to drive all the way home to drive all the way back downtown for a piece of paper...what to do? Pop the there anything in here that can work? My trunk is pretty much empty...certainly no pants BUT a pair of black heels waiting to be taken to the shoe repair to be re-heeled. Did I dare?

I decided to suck it up and head to the office and press my luck/judge the situation when I got there. As I pulled into my building I noticed the exec lot was completely EMPTY!!! Score! the parking lot of my building I changed from muddy running shoes to high heels, buttoned up the coat, added some lipgloss and hoped that my running capris would be hidden enough and might look like some kind of "legging" peeking below. As soon as I walked into the suite, there were 3 of my colleagues and admin assistant delivering some mail. "I'm not really here! Pretend you don't see me" No one really batted an eye and I actually ran into a colleague/friend at TJ Maxx this afternoon who said all they noticed was the flash of my white coat and then I was gone :)

I'm pretty sure this is fooling absolutely no one, but it was my best attempt
However, I was NOT fooling Matt and when I walked in the door after this "excursion" he looked at me, laughed, and said "What the hell are you wearing?" LOL. Let me also add that at this point I also noticed a huge streak of mud going down the side of my right calf...

I don't think this is what people mean when they refer to "work-life" balance!

Anyone else ever have to do something like this or is it just me? :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Electric City Gobbler 5K--Race Recap/Review

Finally! A few minutes where I am not out of town/driving/working/running and the energy to actually write an update.

This Thanksgiving Matt and I (and the dogs) traveled to Anderson, South Carolina, to visit pretty much all of his extended family in a span of about 2 days. Knowing that I'd love to get a run in on Thanksgiving morning, I started googling for local races and quickly found the Electric City Gobbler 5K hosted by the one of the local running clubs (the Electric City Running Club), which turned out to be less than 15 minutes from our hotel. Done!

Knowing that I would love the get the sub-30 off my back (don't laugh!) but also that I have been training for endurance...NOT speed...I decided to make it a fun run and sent a FB message to the running club to see if it was a pet friendly event. It was and so I decided to bring Bali along with me. She is small (~25lbs max) but an excellent runner and even at age 7 has puppy-level energy and endurance!

The race started and ended at Anderson Mall, with extremely easy access and (obviously) plenty of parking. The race started at 8:30 and I arrived at 7:35 to register and was done in about 5 minutes. The race advertised long sleeve technical shirts but I received a l/s cotton shirt--not sure if this is b/c I didn't pre-reg or not but I'm not complaining...this wasn't about "swag" was about getting in a fun run and supporting  the local community.

Back of the shirt

It was in the low-40s and I had lots of time to kill (and knew no one), so I hung out in my car for a bit and then finally got Bali out and walked around, people watching. There were a few other dogs and though Bali loves people I could tell she was a little bit timid/nervous...maybe it was just b/c it was her first official 5K ;) haha!

The race started on time and Bali and I started towards the back (there were maybe 500 runners?)--more room for her and I didn't want to start in the middle of chaos. As for pacing, I figured I would just follow Bali's expectations on pace or whatever. The course was advertised as "fast" but I had no idea what to expect. There were a few small hills but it was extremely FLAT or even downhill, especially as compared to Birmingham. (This would be en excellent course to PR on)

After the initial start, Bali and I pretty much spent the entire race passing people. I'm not kidding or exaggerating but we passed pack after pack of people and even when I thought there would be no more passing, we just kept chucking along. Bali was actually a really savvy runner, setting into a pace until it was time to pass people and then she would create a nice little "lane" with room for both of us, not cutting people off or getting in the way (I tried to stay to the right as much as physically possible) It was pretty funny to hear all the comments too...mostly one of two things: "crap...I just got passed by a DOG!" or "hey...I need one of those, mind if I borrow her for the rest of the race" HAHA! It was an extremely friendly crowd and even afterwards people came up asking how she did, joking "did she get first in her age group?"

According to my watch, Bali and I finished 3.14 miles in 30:49 (avg pace: 9:48) which is only 15 seconds slower than my PR and I was working, but definitely not at "5K effort" (this is why I say it would be an excellent PR course). They made multiple announcements prior to the race to stay in order once we entered the chute so they could grab our bib tags but I finished right around several people...MANY of whom cut in the line and swarmed the area (read: NOT staying in order and I saw at least half a dozen who finished behind me cut in front of several people, not just me) so I have no idea how that's going to impact time and/or results. It looked like they were using select timing, as the race was not chip timed and there was a note on the FB page saying that this was the first time they managed timing themselves and they were having some difficulty with the results, so this may very well be part of it. This aspect was really the only negative of my race experience and since it was A. a turkey trot, B. I was a guest WITH A DOG and C. it's not like I was placing in my age group, I let it fly and didn't say anything. 

Me and Bali post-race

Overall, a really good race experience--easy and reasonable registration, a scenic and fast course and a beautiful day. If I was ever in Anderson on Thanksgiving in the future I would definitely run this race again!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My bags AREN'T packed but I'm ready to go...

Tomorrow morning bright and early (or perhaps still dark and early...seriously...) I'm off to sunny Orlando, Florida, to run in the Wine and Dine half marathon!

I ran the inaugural race back in 2010 and actually never thought that I would be back to run it again. (Not b/c of anything specific but it's not cheap to get there, I've been there done that, blah blah). ANYWAY...I am SUPER excited to return this year because I will have the privilege of running with my very best friends from college and seeing each of them cross that half marathon finish for the very first time. (Believe it or not, but this was actually NOT my idea! but I am super happy that the group is doing this together)

I am so excited and proud of them and the nerves and excitement are almost palpable as everyone wraps up their plans to head to Orlando and the chatter on our little FB group has been so much fun. We've got matching shirts (with a logo designed for us by another one of my friends here in B'ham), and glow necklaces for the race and a little block of rooms together at one of the resorts.

My ONLY GOAL for this race is to get each of them over the finish line and I am not running for time. This has always been my priority for this race.

I am 75% sure I am carrying my camera b/c I did not do that last time and regretted not being able to get the character pics, etc. HOWEVER, I wonder if the bouncing over several hours will have any impact on the internal mechanisms? It's a "just" a Canon point and shoot but I just bought it last September AND REALLY like the camera and don't want to risk damaging it. That being said, I have another p/s but it takes horrible pictures in low light and since this is a night race...Hmmm...this might be a game time decision.

Back with this (and another) race report soon!