Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Fun

Leap Day Walk - 2.9 miles @ 2.9 mph
Today's 12athon Leap Day bonus challenge was to run/walk 2.9 miles for 2.9 points. Since I'm in taper and today was a rest day,  I completed this challenge by walking instead. My normal daily walk to/from the bus would cover this, so I wanted an additional challenge. Since I couldn't attempt to run 2.9 miles in 29 minutes, I had some fun trying to finish with an average of exactly 2.9 mph.

It was certainly a challenge to stay at this "speed." My usual walking speed is closer to 3.2-3.3 (no I don't usually track my walking in mph, so I had to do some math) but this was nice because 1.5 of these miles was walking to campus for a meeting and it warmed up a lot so this helped make sure I wasn't a sweaty mess when I got to the meeting. Every time it would it would dip to 3.0, I'd have to take a few baby steps to get it back down to 2.9. Oh man, did this make my day. It's the small pleasures in life :)

It seems today was all about slowing down, because my Daily Challenge was to schedule a 10 minute nap or rest today. I couldn't take the time to do this at work, so I did it on the bus. Instead of playing on my phone as soon as I got on the bus, I set a timer for 10 minutes, put pandora on the yoga station and meditated for 10 minutes with my eyes clothes and focused on my breathing. It was hard because my mind wouldn't stop and the music was putting me to sleep, but I kept at it until the 10 minutes were up. The yoga station is great though. I will be using it for my morning bus yoga from now on.

I had plans to do a photo shoot with Jason of us leaping, but we lost the sunlight. I'm kinda glad it turned out this way. What better way to spend this extra day than by slowing down and enjoying small pleasures, something I often take for granted in my otherwise super active days.

Happy Leap Day everyone!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Two for Tuesday: Foggy Run & Daily Challenge Fun

Foggy Soggy Run

I got to sleep in a little this morning and still go for a morning run with 2 people from my group who came to my side of town. I was hoping to run 3 miles at half marathon race pace, but the ridiculous humidity from the fog made that impossible. It was probably for the best since my hips were all achy, but they certainly felt better after the run and 20 min of yoga/streches. I think they just needed to loosen up. While my average pace for the 4 miles this morning was 11:23, we sped up considerably at the end and our last mile was 10:04! I'll take it :)

Daily Challenge Fun

I'm having a lot of fun with the Daily Challenge, and I'm currently on a 50 day streak. The last two challenges from the Pleasant Pauses track were quite hilarious, so I thought I'd share.

Today's challenge was to practice drawing or writing with my non-dominant hand and compare that the dominant hand. I took a sticky note, folded it in half, drew a little house and tree, and wrote the respective words on each half with each hand. Not only was my dominant hand better, but the other took twice as long. I was surprised at how difficult this was. Here's a pic of the results. I'll let you guess which is my dominant hand ;)

Dominant Hand

Yesterday's challenge was to recite 1 tongue twister. The site gave a few examples, and I tried them all to hilarious results. Good thing no one was listing. These things are always tough for me because I already have pronunciation issues because my first language is not English. These two -- Shy Shelly says she shall sew sheets, or She sells seashells by the seashore -- are particularly troublesome/funny because I always mix up the "sh" and "ch" sounds.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Achy and Lethargic (Plus British Shows Tangent)

My legs and hips feel inexplicably achy today; it must be race week :) 

Honestly, it could be from this gloomy weather or the fact that I've been pretty in active the past 2 days. I didn't do yoga yesterday like I planned, quitting after only 12 minutes because I wasn't feeling it, which set the tone for the rest of the day. Other than a short walk to Publix for groceries, I didn't do much the rest of the day. I felt really lethargic until then. When we got back, I was a bit more energized and baked another carrot cake, made dinner with Jason, then relaxed while watching Merlin the rest of the night. 

(Have I mentioned that I love British shows? I don't think I've seen a BBC show that I've not yet liked. It started with Doctor Who and Torchwood, then Sherlock and now Merlin. They are brilliant! and I love the way the british say the word brilliant. Actually, now that I think about it, it really started with Whose Line Is it Anyway? /tangent.)

Despite waking up with plenty of time to do yoga this morning, I kept telling myself I was too tired to get up until it was too late, so I skipped it today too. The bus was too full to do yoga then either, so other than walking to/from the bus I've been pretty inactive today too. Top that off with all the sugar I've consumed from leftover birthday cake, and it's no wonder I'm feeling lethargic. Tomorrow will be a better day. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Recap: Week 8 2012

This week I got back into my normal routine with 3 great runs, more walking than I think I've ever walked in a single week before, biking and even a bit of core & upper body strength. This coming week I'll take a little easier as I taper for the half on Sunday. Not much else to say, so I'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Week 8: Feb 20-26

  • ran 15 miles
  • walked 23 miles
  • biked 14 miles
  • 10m of planks/push ups
  • 3h yoga
Goals for Week 9
  • run 20+ miles
  • Orange Blossom Half
  • walk 10+ miles
  • bike at least once
  • 2h yoga

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Running, Biking, Postcards & Carrot Cake

Today was a great day, starting with a great run and ending with homemade carrot cake :) Let's take it from the top.

Since I can't ever sleep in anymore, I was awake before 5:30 am even though our run wasn't starting until 7 am. But that's ok because it gave me plenty of time to get ready without feeling rushed. I spent a good part of that looking for a pair of knee high socks I wanted to wear that I never did find, but I still had plenty of time to bike to the run start at a leisurely pace. Not that I really had much of a choice because the brutal wind was relentless.

The temp was in the low 60s, perfect for running in a skirt with a long sleeve tech tee. The wind made it feel much colder while on the bike, so I wore the windbreaker jacket I got when I volunteered at the Disney Marathon. I swapped it for the long sleeve tech tee when I got to the school and it was perfect during the run. Towards the end of the 6 miler I was able to run comfortably in just my tank top.

I was originally planning to run 8 miles, since I only ran 6 last week, but then I came to my senses. Last week's 6 miler was for recovery and this week's for taper. I would rather have the extra recovery and fresh legs for Sunday's race than over do it just to get in more miles. We ran today's 6 miles using 2:30/1 intervals, which is what I plan to use for the race, and almost a minute per mile faster than last week. I was feeling it in my legs and hips by the end of the 6 miles and thought it best to not push further. We had several runners join us that had not been out in a while. It was so nice to see them all again and catch up.

By the time I got home at 9:30 am, I had also biked over 9 miles mostly against a headwind. I had errands to run, but I knew I had to change into dry warmer clothes or I'd freeze, so I went home first. I did 25 minutes of yoga as soon as I got home. As usual, I just wing it with the poses I know work best for after a run, but this was a really great yoga session. I was in the zone and was able to flow from one pose to the other stretching out my whole body. I was tempted to do a core/strength workout, but I was getting hungry so I called it quits. After showering and eating breakfast, I got back on my bike to run a few more errands. I was getting tired and the wind wouldn't quit, so I kept it to a minimum.

When I got back home and had lunch, I tackled my daily challenge which was to send out a postcard. This turned into quite the adventure. I've been meaning to participate in for a while now, and this challenge finally  gave me the push to get it done. I had a postcard I bought at the LEGO store in Downtown Disney a long time ago for this that I never sent. I could not find it anywhere, so I went for a walk in search of one -- post office (closed), CVS, Publix, 7-11, random store -- and none sold them. I finally gave up and came home determined to just make my own. I checked one last time where I thought the post card ought to be and there it was all along. I had actually seen it this morning but thought it was something else. So I addressed it to the woman in Taiwan that postcrossing assigned me and is ready to be mailed when I get a stamp on Monday. I'm going to order some post cards with photos of Orlando that I or Jason have taken and send out a few more as soon as they come in.

But my adventure was not for nothing because I picked up some cream cheese frosting to make home made carrot cake. I bought Beth some carrot cake from Publix for her birthday on Friday, and really wanted to try my hand at a healthier version where I knew exactly what went into it. I know that as far as cakes go, carrot cake is far better than most, except for the frosting and all the sugar, but this version is not bad at all. It is made with whole wheat flour, mostly natural ingredients, and the only sweetener is honey. I used finely chopped raw apple instead of the canned pineapple and it turned out great.  Someday I'll try my hand at making the frosting too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Marathon 1 vs 4 (30 Minute PR)

Two years ago, I ran my first marathon in 5:22. Two weeks ago, I ran it 30 minutes faster than that. What did I do differently? Below is a comparison chart between the two training cycles (June to February). 

dateFebruary 28, 2010February 12, 2012
training goalfinish; have fun5 hours
baseless than 2 years;
24 races
(3 half marathons)
almost 4 years;
70 races
(3 marathons & 12 half marathons)
20+ miles training runs36
longest training run24 miles31 miles
speed workno track;
14 random races, mostly multi-sport
weekly track workouts;
9 races strategically substituting for comparable speed workouts
mid-week runs2 x 3 miles;
comfortable pace;
ran alone
2 x 4-6 miles;
tempo/race pace/track;
ran with group
race w/group?raced aloneraced with pace group
race intervals1/1, 2/1, 3/12/1 
goal pacecomfortable;
held back at start
push it!
leave it all out there
chip time5:224:52

I attribute my improvement mainly to consistency and added endurance. I had a much bigger base going into it this time. I only missed a total of 4 runs on my training schedule, added more volume, but paid very close attention to recovery to ensure I didn't get injured. I also made it a priority to warm up before all mid-week runs and races to allow me to hit those hard paces without risking injury. Part of my additional mid-week milage came from these warm up runs, but it was still time on my feet at low risk. 

Becoming an Athlete

This year, I felt like a true athlete. I've felt like a runner pretty much from the moment I ran my first 5K, but it's been kicked up a notch this year. Sure, my increase in speed has helped, but that's not really what defines an athlete. For me, it was been the consistency and determination to train for a goal that seemed so utterly out of reach just 2 years ago. When I ran my first marathon, I just wanted to do it once and finish with a smile on my face. I wanted to enjoy it, and I enjoyed every bit of that race and the training leading up to it. Before I finished training for it, I knew I'd do it again. 

This time, I didn't take the easy route. I wasn't in it just to finish, but I wanted to go big! I've given every part of myself this time, running in imaginable conditions from scolding heat to pouring rain to freezing temps, and it's paid off in a big way. I only ran 10 races this season, but this season was about quality, not quantity. I finished with a personal best at 7 of those races, but I never jeopardized marathon training to do it; most were actually run not much faster than marathon race pace. I dug deep this season, and I know it's still only the tip of the iceberg of my potential. I can't wait to see what next season will bring! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Speed, Planks, Push Ups

#1 Speed Work: I dabbled in a bit of speed this week. I ran 3 miles at half marathon race pace on Tuesday with an average pace of 10:20. It had been a while since I've averaged below an 11-min/mi pace, so it was a little tough but totally doable. I was sure to stretch well after. I felt fine this morning, so I tried 400s at the track. Since it's been a while and I just ran a marathon less than 2 weeks ago, I kept the goal a bit conservative but nailed it. I again stretched well and my legs feel really good. I'm going to take it a little easier next week as I taper for the half marathon next Sunday. If the weather cooperates, I'm going to attempt an aggressive goal. If not, I have another the following week :)

#2 Planks: On Monady, I tried this plank workout (or rather fitness test) that Steve in a Speedo posted where you alternate between standard and side planks every 3 breaths for as long as you can. If you can last 9-10 minutes, your core is strong. I gave up after 5 minutes. I probably could have pushed myself to do the whole 10 minutes, but it had been weeks since I did any core work and I didn't want to press my luck, plus I was getting bored and had to get ready for work. It was a great workout for sure. My abs were sore for days and are finally back to normal today. I'm going to give it another try soon, but probably after my next 2 races. I sure don't want to race with sore abs. I also found this other combo plank workout recently that I may try too.

#3 Push Ups: Now that marathon training is over, and my wrist pain went away, I want to start a strength routine that's more than just yoga. So yesterday after yoga I did a bunch of push ups of different types (standard, wide, narrow, spades, negatives, staggered) and a few planks. After adding up the fit deck cards from the various push ups I did, I saw that I did a total of 40 push ups (all on my knees to not put undue stress on my wrist). I struggled a little during, but was able to finish them. I'm certainly paying for it today. My arms and shoulders are really sore. I'm going to start the 100 push up challenge again soon, but on my knees because I don't want to aggregate my wrist for fear of not being able to do downward dog during my yoga routines :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Looking Up

Today was a much better day. I started with 30 minutes of yoga at home, planks and push ups, a 3/4 mile walk to the bus while sipping my homemade breakfast smoothie, then 10 minutes of yoga on the bus. I love starting my day with yoga, even if it's just 10 minutes of upper body stretches while sitting on the bus and having everyone thing I'm crazy :) I sometimes just close my eyes and focus on my breathing and it sets the tone for the day.

Things just kept looking up from there, literally, because this was my daily challenge today:
Take a break today and look up at the sky. Spend two minutes watching the clouds drift by, and try to find shapes and images in them like you did when you were small. Take note of any birds or other objects in your field of vision. If the sun has already set, spend some time looking at the stars. Try to find your favorite constellations, or make up new ones based on what you see.
That's just so perfect! I walk another 3/4 mile from the bus stop to my office every morning, and today I had leadership training so that's an extra 1/2 mile to HR. I got off the bus one stop earlier, chose my mellow station on pandora, and made it a point to look up at the sky and enjoy my surroundings during the almost 30 minute, 1.5 mile walk to HR instead of playing with my phone. I didn't spot any shapes in the clouds, but I enjoyed looking at all the different patterns, the blue sky peeking through the white clouds, as well as some grey because it was partially overcast. I noticed the sun peeking through some clouds and trees, playing peek-a-boo throughout the walk. I saw a few birds flying and followed one until it left my field of vision, and I even saw a plane. I felt the cool air and noticed the colors of all the flowers in bloom. I was almost sad to see my walk come to an end.

I need to remember to be present more often during my daily walks and just enjoy the peace instead of fiddling with my phone. This is why I really want to tackle the Wonderful Walks track next, because even though I walk every single day, I often take them for granted.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inner Strength

Today started off well with a speedy run, 3 miles @ 10:20 pace, but then I got dealt a curve ball. I'm not going to go into details, but suffice it to say that all I wanted to do all day was go home and crawl into bed. Being already at work, I figured it best to just finish the day and stay distracted, so my next impulse was to finally rip open the 2 boxes of girl scout cookies I've been saving and devour them. Nothing like some good ol' emotional eating to make everything better, right? But I recognized it for what it was, and I resisted the urge. I never thought I was an emotional eater, but I guess I can be if I don't pay attention. I also never considered myself overly emotional, but the older I get the more things seem to affect me. I think I cry a lot easier now than when I was younger because I can feel the gravity of things much more as an adult than as a child. But I am also a lot stronger; I have to be. I just tried to hang on to that good feeling from this morning's run to try to get through this tough day and it helped … a little.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Recap: Week 7 2012

This was a nice recovery week. I made up for not biking last week by biking 3 times this week, and I really think it helped speed up my recovery. My legs felt great for Saturday's run, but I took it easy anyway to ensure they keep feeling good. I didn't do much yoga, but plan to change that this week as well as adding back some core/upper body strength. I need to be in tip top shape for my next race, the Orange Blossom Half Marathon on March 4. Hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready to tackle another week. 

Week 7: Feb 13 - 19
  • ran 8 miles (lowest milage in a long time, but needed the recovery) 
  • walked 15 miles 
  • biked 26 miles (x3 roundtrips) 
  • yoga x2; 20m total (chose extra sleep most days and only did 10 minutes on the bus twice) 
Goals for Week 8
  • run 10-15 miles 
  • walk 15+ miles 
  • 2 hours of yoga 
  • start a core/strength routine (planks/fitdeck) 
  • bike at least once

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pleasant Pauses Daily Challenge

I'm on day 41 of my Daily Challenge streak, and I'm amazed at the positive change it's making in my life. What I love about this site is that although most of the tasks are very simple and may not seem very challenging at first, they often lead to much more. Let me show you how through a little recap of the past 2 challenges, which turned an ordinary Sunday that I may have otherwise spent wasting time online into a wonderful day filled with productivity and joy.

I started a new track 3 days ago called Pleasant Pauses. Here's the description:
Tell your many tasks and responsibilities to sit tight, and embrace your silly side with these challenges. From acting like a cat to learning to write a limerick, this track is full of fun ways to bring simple joy to your day.
Yesterday's challenge was to Give 1 room in your house a mini-makeover by moving a few small items to new places. 

At first this seemed like a chore better suited for the "Conquering Clutter" track. Having very little time, I just spent a few minutes when I got home at 10 pm cleaning out my nightstand. This simple act started a domino effect because I really liked the uncluttered looked of that space and it motivated me to follow suit with the rest of the room. When we woke up this morning, we got to work and before we knew it we had complete organized, dusted, and cleaned every surface of our bedroom, including putting clean sheets on the bed, vacuuming the floors and even going through our drawers and closet to donate a ton of clothes we never wear. It felt great and now our bedroom is some welcoming.

Today's challenge was even better: Plan to take a culinary trip down memory lane and eat a favorite food from your childhood. 

Yum! :) My first reaction was to suggest to Jason that we go get some Mofongo. He insisted I make it instead. It's kind of a pain to make, but then I remembered that I didn't really eat that as a child, and started thinking of the things my grandma would cook me. I settled on Verdura. I have fond memories of eating this often as a child, although at the time I was such a picky eater that all I ate was potatoes with hard boiled eggs drizzled in olive oil lol We biked over to the co-op and then walked to Publix to gather the ingredients, and then I was counting down the minutes until I could start cooking :)

It smelled amazing and tasted even better. It brought back wonderful memories of my grandma and all the things she used to cook me, and I just had to call her and share it with her. She lives in Puerto Rico and is always urging me to call her -- we usually talk when my parents call her while we are at their place for a holiday. She was so thrilled to hear my voice and that I thought of her. We spent a few minutes reminiscing about all the things she used to cook me, then she asked me to give my dad a message. When I called my dad, I could hear my niece in the background. I've been meaning to go visit my sister to see the kids, so I took the chance for an impromptu visit with the whole family. It was the perfect way to end the day.

If you have never tried out the Daily Challenge, I urge you to check it out to improve your life one small task at a time. Big changes start with one small step.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Busy Bee

Today was a super busy day. Despite my best efforts to sleep in, I was up by 5:30 a.m. before my alarm went off. I did not have to meet my group until 7 am, so I took my time getting ready and was able to bike to the start at a leisurely pace enjoying the cool morning air.

Although the air was cool, it was really humid because of heavy fog. After last weekend's deep freeze, you'd think I'd welcome the change but it was a bit of a struggle. Thankfully everyone was either in recovery or taper so we ran 5.5 miles real easy with 1:1 intervals at 13ish pace. After the run, we hung out over breakfast at Drunken Monkey.

By the time I got home at 10 am, I had already biked 9.5 miles and run 5.5 miles, and was feeling great. I didn't have much time to decompress as I quickly had to shower, have lunch and get ready to head out to Jason's Grandma's 80th birthday celebration in Melbourne. We just got back 30 minutes ago and are utterly exhausted, so it's now way past my bedtime. At least tomorrow I get to sleep in, and I sure hope that does not mean 7 am =) Good night!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Race Report: 26.2 with Donna

It's always hard to write a race report when I have such a good race because it's often a blur of excitement, but I'll give it my best shot. I must warn you now that this is a bit long and possibly rambles. I tried to write things in some kind of logical order, but sometimes is hard to remember what happened when. Before we get into the thick of it, let's look at the data:
  • clock: 4:54:07 
  • chip: 4:52:17 
  • pace: 11:09 
  • overall: 1188/1793 
  • gender: 941/1100 
  • ag: 85/155 
  • official splits: 
    • mile 5 - 0:56:20 @ 11:16 
    • mile 10 - 1:52:53 @ 11:17 
    • 1st Half - 2:27:14 @ 11:14 
    • mile 15 - 2:46:39 @ 11:06 
    • mile 20 - 3:42:03 @ 11:06 
    • 2nd Half - 2:25:03 @ 11:04 (2:11 faster than 1st) 
  • Runmeter: 26.31 miles in 4:52:20 @ 11:07, Splits:
I have to admit, I was a little concerned when our pace was below the expected 11:25 so early in the race. I even asked myself if I should fall back so I wouldn't destroy myself, but I was feeling ok and trusted that my pacers knew what they were doing. The weather was in our favor and I was ready to leave it all out there, so I was going to give it my best shot. If it didn't work, I would at least know it wasn't for lack of trying. As you can see, even though I thought we started fast, we still negative split the race. The paces listed are my cumulative average pace at each of those mile markers, and it just kept dropping but I hung in there. This was a PR of 29:12 from Ocala, and 30:16 from my first marathon 2 years ago. I'll write a separate post exploring what contributed to this huge improvement.

Ok, let's get on with the recap … 

Pre-Race: Cold Weather & Race Outfit

Outfit in support of Breast CancerSaturday was a very busy day, so by the time I laid my head on the pillow at 8:30 pm I was asleep in seconds. I slept soundly until midnight, then tossed and turned for the next 3 hours. I made myself stay in bed until at least 3 am, then I got up and started getting ready. I was oddly calm as I got my things together. Is as if I already knew I would meet my goal and there was no sense worrying anymore about it. Or maybe I was too distracted by the cold weather :) 

Huddled around space heater for warmth in Galloway tent before race startIt was in the low 20s with the windchill factor at the start, but I knew I would warm up over the course of the 5 hours I planned to be out there, so I didn't want to overdress. I settled on my Skirt Sports super hero print tank top and skirt. I wore leggings under the skirt, with compression knee high socks under those; honestly, I probably could have done without the leggings but they weren't really hot either. I paired the top with arm warmers and a light windbreaker jacket, which I really didn't want to wear but I'm glad I did as it gave me a place to carry my camera because when I had it in the pocket of my skirt it kept dragging my skirt down and having to pull up my skirt every few minutes for 5 hours would have sucked. I also wore gloves, buff (neck gator), skull cap, and 2 headbands. 

This wasn't enough to keep me warm while standing around, so I wore a mylar blanket as a poncho and wrapped another one around my waist as a skirt. We were still freezing when we got the race site, but I could tell the mylar blanket was helping because whenever the wind would flap it open I could feel just how much worse it could be. We found the Galloway tent, which was tiny and tried to find warmth between the bodies jammed into the tiny space. All over the runner's village there were people huddled around space heaters. We eventually found a few other runners from our program, took a few pictures, and headed to the start 15 minutes before the race.

Start to Mile 7

5 hr pace group before start, you can see it's before sunrise
I actually started the race still wearing both mylar blankets while I warmed up, which made it difficult to get to anything in my pockets. I originally had my brand new hydra pouch in my pocket but clipped it to my belt where it promptly got knocked off and I lost it within the first 3 miles so I never got to try it :( I kept tucking my arms under it to keep from freezing. My feet were numb for the first 4-5 miles. That was such a weird sensation, like running with an inserts that's too thick inside my shoe, and I'm sure my gait was suffering because of it. Then they hurt/tingled as they thawed. I shed the mylar skirt after mile 1 and took off the poncho around mile 3, but I folded it and tucked it in the back of my race belt in case I needed it later. I promptly forgot about it. I had been sweating under my jacket because of the mylar blanket, so I was glad I wore the tank top underneath it because it did a great job wicking away the sweat. The cleavage alley pocket was perfect to carry my emergency pack (packets of body glide and biofreeze, tissue, cash, and chapstick). I took off the sleeves of my jacket pretty early on too, but kept the gloves on for most of the run since I could regulate my temperature by pulling back the mitten part to air out my fingers. The arm warmers kept going up and down too. That's why I love them. 

The course was pretty crowded through mile 7 when the half marathoners turned around. We were keeping pace with the 2:30 pace group but our intervals seemed to be a few seconds off so we kept leap frogging each other. The crowd support was amazing even from the start. Before we knew it, we were running on the beach (mile 5-7), which was both a curse and a blessing. It was absolutely gorgeous and the hard-packed sand was a nice relief from the pounding on the asphalt, but running at the edge of the ocean we had to deal with the cold wind directly. It seemed to go on forever and we were all super relieved when we turned off.

Miles 7 - 17

I had run miles 10-15 as part of a relay two years prior, so I kept looking forward to that part because I think it's the best part of the race through gorgeous neighborhoods and great crew stops. It was nice to be in familiar territory. As I mentioned in my highlights, I was also participating in the Virtual 12athon and one of the bonus challenges I was trying to complete was to run all 12 miles with at least 11 other runners. Since I was running with a pace group I thought this would be easy, but I needed to document it. This actually served as a nice little distraction as I plodded how I would do it and Chris even reminded me in one of his comments. That made me smile and I knew I had to find a way to do it. My initial thought was to run ahead of the group and take a photo as they ran past mile 12 because there was no way I'd get a whole pace group to stop for a photo. That would require me to run even faster than I already was to get ahead, stop to take a photo for which I'd probably only have seconds to do, then sprint ahead to catch up with the group -- yeah that wasn't happening. I settled on taking video. As we approached mile 12, I positioned myself near the pacers so I could get them and the sign in the video, then panned to the group to show at least 12 people were still there. I did a bit of commentary that you can barely hear and took the opportunity to document my outfit and galloway challenge too. This was actually a lot of fun and I wish I had taken more video throughout the race. It's way easier than trying to take photos because you just press the button, pan and can always use a screen capture of it later. I thought about recreating the scene from "Marathon Thoughts" were his eyeglasses are askew, but I just didn't have the energy. I really wish I had. Anyway, here's the video:

Mid-Race Challenges

I can't recall when all this happened, so I'm sticking it in here. I had to pee for most of the run, or at least it felt that way, but I couldn't afford to stop and lose my pace group. They were the only reason I was maintaining this pace because I sure couldn't gauge for myself how fast to run. Left to my own devices, I know I would have given into my brain and slowed down. I eventually ignored the need to pee, and I think it turned into a cramp in my abs, which happens when I push myself really hard. People along the course were giving out all sorts of awesome stuff -- chocolate chip cookies, oreos, pretzels, fruit, candy, and even bloody marys. I wish I could have indulged, but I really had no time to stop let alone chew lol. The pace was relentless, only slowing slightly at water stops, and I needed every single minute of that walk break to recover before the next assault began. I did take some of that time to read through the comments people left on Facebook, but I never had enough time to post anything. Those comments helped more than you will ever know. When you are in that much pain/fatigue/mental battle, you hang your hat on anything you can and words take on new meaning.

KT Tape, just in case Even though the pace was relentless, I felt really strong through the whole race and never even came remotely close to hitting the wall. The 31 mile training long run I did at the end of October worked, and essentially the two marathons I ran were 2 other long training runs so I had endurance to spare. The struggle was mostly mental because I was tired and not used to pushing this hard for this long, but whenever I was running, I was cruising. My ankles were a bit achy at times, but nothing more than soreness from the pounding. My IT band never protested, but I am sure the industrial strength KT Tape had something to do with that. (side note: KT Tape Pro works a little too well. It stayed on without budging since Friday until I had to pry it off before my massage on Monday. I had to use olive oil to avoid ripping off my skin. If you are a triathlete that needs this stuff to stay on for days, through multiple showers and swim workouts, this is for you. I usually only wear it for a day during long runs or races, so I think I'll stick with the regular stuff.)

The main pain I had to deal with was a knot on my back, between my shoulder blades, that was persistent pretty much all 5 hours. I think it started because I was tensing my shoulders to stay warm and it just kept getting worse so I had to keep good posture and try to relax my shoulders/arms. The only other thing that hurt were my feet. Oh dear god, how they hurt. I wore compression socks, and I really don't think I'll do that for marathons anymore. They do wonders for my calves, but I find they compress my toes too much when they are already in pain and swollen. It felt like my toes were on a vice. The other problem I had was that my lungs and throat were burning from sucking in the cold air for 5 hours. I never got a side stitch, but I had to really focus on breathing in through my mouth to avoid making it worse. When I finished the race, my voice was horse and I really thought I had caught bronchitis or pneumonia. On the ride home, I wore my buff over my nose to warm the air I was breathing and that helped a ton. 

Miles 17-20

It never fails that things start to get tough between miles 17-20. My brain turns to mush and basic math and logic goes out the window. I kept losing track of what mile we were on, but at least they were still flying by. I kept telling myself that once we made it past mile 20, it was a done deal because it was only a 10K. I was shocked that those miles kept ticking away and we were in the middle of that last bridge approaching mile 25 before I knew it. This last 10K is when our pacers really started to shine. I had not interacted with them much before because I wasn't at the front of the pack; I was simply trying not to lose them. But by this time the group had dwindled and I was making it a point to stay close so I wouldn't have to surge ahead to catch them. They kept asking if we were ok, offering us gels and words of encouragement. As we climbed that bridge, one of them told us that if we had not already figured it out we would be breaking 5 hours. I nearly cried. I had indeed figured it out already, but I appreciated the confirmation because I kept questioning if my math was correct. It was all the motivation I needed to keep pushing, that and the fact that a guy running behind me sounded like he was trying to hold back throwing up so I wanted to get as far away from him as possible.

Finishing It

I stuck with the pace group, using 2:1 intervals all the way through the top of that last bridge just past mile 25. They encouraged us to leave them if we had it in us, and I pulled ahead running downhill on the other side of the bridge for the next 5 minutes. I took a 1 min walk break, then began running again. I wasn't sure I could run for another 5 minutes straight and still look strong crossing the finish line, so I took one last walk break when my gym boss beeped after 2 minutes before running the last 10th in as fast as I could … which wash't very fast. I started to tear up as I approached the finish and saw that the clock was under 4:55, and I began sobbing as soon as I crossed. It was an incredible feeling. I didn't think I had it in me and it was so rewarding to have all my hard work this season finally pay off.

Post Race

Jason had seen me cross, but in my delirious state I had not spotted him. He texted me that he'd meet me at the Galloway tent, so I made my way there slowly where I saw Laura sitting outside the tent. Her big smile greeted me and asked me how it went, and I collapsed in her arms with tears of joy. She is an amazing leader and I am so glad she was there to share this with me. Jason eventually found me and I hugged him and shared in his success; he had finished over an hour earlier in 3:48! Even though he had changed, he was shivering and was finally ready to eat but his legs were cramping. Laura sprung to action and took care of us. She couldn't find salt packets to help with his cramping, so she brought him doritos and a burger and fries. Have I mentioned that she is AMAZING?

Laura, our loyal cheerleader

I was starting to get cold myself, so I retrieved my gear bag and finally found a port-a-potty. They were of course out of toilet paper, so I was grateful I had packed a tissue in my emergency baggie. I changed into clean and dry clothes, then went in search of food. I later realized in my haste to get into dry warm clothes I didn't even take a photo with my finisher's medal before I changed, but whatever.

As I sat in the Galloway tent basking in the warmth of the space heater, I spotted Brenda from my running group. She too had a great race and a huge PR. We hugged, took a photo, and exchanged stories about our experience, praising the virtues of the pacers. Then it dawn on me … hey, we're Marathon Maniacs! I was so focused on staying with the pace group and meeting my sub-5 hour goal that I forgot I was also trying to qualify for Marathon Maniacs until I saw her. It made the moment even sweeter to have her there to share it with and celebrate all over again.

Happy we both PRed by 25+ minutesSole Mates representing at BCM


Writing this section is dangerous because I know I will forget someone, but here it goes. 
  • Thanks to my running group for indulging me when I insisted we run our long runs super slow at 1/1 intervals so we could recover properly and be able to run 29 miles. Also thanks for your encouragement when I doubted myself, and showing me through your own successes that it could be done because we had all done the same training. 
  • A special thanks to Kirsty, my co-leader and partner in crime for the 29-mile long run experiment; 
  • the usual suspects (you know who you are) who showed up no matter what to run in the cold, rain, heat, 4:45 am on weekdays, you name it. 
  • A HUGE thanks to Laura, our Program Director for always going the extra mile to make sure our groups are taken care of. She often returned to the school after her own run to greet us when we finished a grueling run with a smile and treats. 
  • To all my friends who followed my progress on Dailymile and Facebook throughout my training and who woke up early on race day to follow along and leave me words of encouragements throughout. It meant SO MUCH! 
  • And finally, the BIGGEST thanks of all to Jason for always supporting me and putting up with my craziness :) 
Final Thoughts

This was a huge success, not only because of the huge PR and the sub-5 hour marathon, but because I recaptured the joy. I had an absolute blast while still running strong. I am not sure I want to do it again anytime soon, but I will be back. I want to run this race again as a pacer, at a much slower pace, so I can take in even more of the course and enjoy some of the perks from the neighbors. This year I plan to focus on improving my half marathon, 10K, and 5K times, and just enjoying the marathon. I'll run New York (if I get in) and Goofy, but at whatever pace feels comfortable and just enjoy the experience. Then maybe in 2013 I'll start think about a new marathon PR … maybe … :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TTT: 26.2 with Donna Recovery Week Edition

#1 Recovery - I can tell how much of a different it makes to take a post-run ice bath and walking the day after the race. I didn't do either of those of things this time, opting to instead lay in bed most of the day on Monday, and I felt like someone had beat my legs with a baseball bat for much longer than usual; my quads and hamstrings felt bruised and hurt to the touch through Tuesday night. Once I started moving on Tuesday, icing with my compression pants, and spun my legs on a leisurely bike ride, I felt a ton better. Most of the soreness was gone yesterday and today I only have minor residual soreness in a few spots. Have I mentioned that the Galloway method is magic? ;)

#2 Running - I could barely walk Tuesday without wincing in pain, and running was out of the question (see #1). This morning, it was a different story. I slept in a little and ran with Jason instead of my group. He promised to run at my pace (uh huh) and we did 1:1 intervals. We took it easy, but Jason's easy doesn't always equal mine. Our average pace was 12:39 for 2.5 miles, which is a bit faster than I've done in recent recovery runs, but it felt fine. I felt slight soreness in a few key areas, but overall it felt great. I'll be tackling 6 easy miles this weekend. I can't say enough good things about the Galloway method and it's ability to allow me to recover switfly after even the hardest of efforts.  

#3 Race Report - I'm still processing and writing it, plus I was waiting for official photos which just got released. I keep remember more things I want to include. It might be a bit long, but I like to be inclusive so you can get the full picture of my experience and learn from it.  If you have a burning question you'd like me to answer in my report, about the race itself, the course, the pacers, etc, leave a comment so I can address it. I hope to post the race report this weekend, as well as a recap of my training that lead to it.

Bonus - I put on a few pounds this weekend, though I know most of that is water retention from sore muscles, but I'm sure Valentine's Day goodies contributed. I may be over chocolate and girl scout cookies for a bit. Ha! Who am I kidding? :p

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Car Lite Update

Another of my goals for 2012 in the theme of being mindful is to drive less than 6500 miles (541/mo; 125/wk). Much like dining out, this goal is twofold: lowering our environmental impact and saving money. Let me give a bit of background for those that are new to my blog. After we moved downtown in January 2009, we tried to live without a car since so many of our destinations are within walking distance. The biggest challenge was work 15 miles away, but we could bike or take the bus there. Our initial attempt did not work because we still had a car and it was too easy to drive whenever it was slightly inconvenient to bike or take the bus. On June 7, 2010, my car broke down and we chose not to fix it to give this a real shot. It took a lot of planning and creativity, but we lived 4 months without the car, and our lives changed forever. We learned patience, flexibility, and resourcefulness, and our stress was greatly reduced. We've since fixed the car, but we still strive to drive it as little as possible.

For me, driving a car (which I hate) comes near last in my preferred modes of transportation: walking, cycling, train, bus, boat, car, plane. (Side note: while I prefer to fly in a plane to riding in a car, it is last because the environmental impact is far greater than driving, and it's a mode that I use so rarely). In actual use, it's probably closer to this: bus/car, walking, cycling (the others are for special circumstances, so it's not fair to rank them, although train travel is amazing and would be #1 if I could take it everywhere). On closer inspection, we drove more than we rode the bus last year: if I figure 25 miles a day to work, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, that's at most 6,500 miles by bus, and I know it's less because we drove or biked to work some days, and we did not work a full 52 weeks. We drove over 1200 more miles than that last year. I'd like to change this statistic to have the car last.

Last year, I set a goal of driving less than 4000 miles. That was a very aggressive goal and we did not quite meet it, but we drove the car 2,844 less than in the previous year: 7,713 miles in 2011 vs 10,557 miles in 2010. This is actually really amazing when you consider that in 2010 we lived without a car for 4 months, so we made more efficient use of the car in 2011 when we had it available all the time. When you average the miles per month, we drove 1,320/month over the 8 months when we had a car in 2010 vs 643/month over 12 months in 2011. That's less than half per month, so I'm really pleased with that. But we can do better :)

I want to be mindful of every trip we take by car. If we plan ahead, there are very few times we'll need to use it. There are of course exceptions, most notable criteria are distance and time (but again pre-planning can counter the time constraint). Another major criteria is if we need to haul something that won't fit on our bike rack or trailer, but this doesn't happen often and will happen even less as we continue to declutter our home.

In January, we drove 622 miles. That was a bit higher than my goal, but most trips were needed. Here is a breakdown as best as I can remember of when we used the car:

  • running group: 25 miles/week. It kills me to drive less than 5 miles each way to run with my group, but we start at 5 am during the week and I already get up early enough. I still need to be able to function the rest of the day at work. Biking there on the weekends is a bit more feasible, but it depends on the weather, start time and milage. I often bring extra clothes and food for before/after, and I may not always want to bike 5 miles home after running 20+ miles. I'm going to try to bike there more often though or at least carpool.
  • work: 4 x 30 miles roundtrip. Jason needed to bring stuff home from his office, or we had to be home at a specific time for another commitment.
  • volunteer at Disney: bus didn't run that early
  • races: DeLeons & Ocala; too far and too early for bike or bus
  • storage: needed the car capacity to haul everything home, which saved us $100/mo by getting rid of it.
  • random errands: needed to get there before business closed

Generally speaking, I'd like to use the criteria below as a guide of when to use each mode of transportation

  • < 2 miles (1 way): walk
  • < 5 miles (1 way): bike
  • races > 5 miles or tri/du: car
  • work: bus or bike
  • running group: drive or bike
  • visit my family: car or bus (weather/time permitting)
  • time constrain: car (or plan better to take bus/bike)
  • large/heavy load: bike trailer or car (depends on size/shape and distance)
  • visit Jason's mom: train
  • visit Jason's dad: car or plane
  • airport: bus
  • > 5 miles, time/weather permitting: bus (if service in that area) or bike or car

Meeting our goal in February will be tricky because it includes the trip to Jacksonville for our marathon, but we should use the car very little otherwise. I'll keep you posted :)

Further Reading:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tasty Tuesday

I took today off to recover from the marathon and spend some time with Jason on Valentine's day.  I didn't employ my usual post-race recovery techniques, so I felt pretty beat up yesterday. I simply laid around all day in my compression gear with my feet up. I knew we should have gone for a walk to speed up recovery, but I just didn't have it in me. At least we got a massage.

Today began active recovery, and I'm already feeling tons better. I woke up at 4 am to meet my running group for our Valentine's Day fun run/walk, but I was smart enough not to attempt running. It was fun to  see my group and catch up while we walked. I could already tell that helped and it was all the motivation I needed to stop laying around and participate in my recovery. As soon as I got home, I put on compression gear and did laundry. I am still sore, but I am very mobile and the more I move, the better my legs (mainly quads/hamstrings) feel.

After finishing the laundry, baking granola, and decluttering the living room, we went to Disney Quest for a few hours with Tom, and I laughed at him when he suggested taking the stairs up 2 floors. I had not been there in years, so I was excited to see what was new. Sadly, not much. With such a high tech arcade, it is really sad when I rather spend most of my time there playing classic games like Galaga. We came back home and I took a nap before dinner.

Jason woke me up at 5 pm and cooked some gnocchi while I got ready for the Sweet Ride, a leisurely ride around town ending at Tasty Tuesdays in the Milk District for Yum Yum Cupcakes. I organized this a few weeks ago, and I have to admit that this morning I was dreading it bit because my legs were still sore, but my legs felt great during the ride. It actually hurts more to walk. I'm really glad I put this together or else I may have bailed, but it was an absolutely gorgeous night for a bike ride and the 13 miles really helped loosen up my legs.

I tried out my new Skirt Sports Cruiser Bike Girl cycling skirt on this ride, and I'm already in love. At first I thought the chamois was thicker than I expected, but it felt great and I barely noticed it once we got moving. It has the same comfortable fit as their running skirts, and the grippers on the legs keep the shorts in place while riding. I'll be keeping an eye out for sales to stock up. My only complain is that the base of the "Freeride Print" (pictured) is white. That is a horrible color for cycling, but it's super cute so I'll deal ;)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recap: Week 6 2012

Another great week comes to an end with yesterday's success! I did not bike last week, but I am ok with that since I biked 3 times last week and I was taking it easy until the race. I still walked plenty, but skipped on yoga to let the wrist heel and it hasn't bothered me for days. It seems like I made all the correct choices last week to align the stars :) This week I'm taking it easy to recover, but I'll be up dark and early tomorrow for a fun Valentine's Day walk with my group.

Week 6: Feb 6 - 12

  • ran 34 miles
  • walked 19 miles
  • biked 0
  • 18m yoga
Goals for this Week: RECOVER! :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

26.2 with Donna Highlights and Virtual 12athon Report

My Wonderful Pacers!
Had 3.5 quality hours of sleep, followed by 3 tossing and turning.

Feels like temp at start, with the wind chill, was under 20; high of 40 +wind chill at the finish.

Amazing support: signs, cheer squads, crowds, water, Gatorade, Gu, and random food from residents. But I was working too hard to partake of anything but GUs.

Amazing pacers, even if a little fast.

Gorgeous course, including 2 windy miles on the beach. The hard-packed sand was perfect!

Finished in 4:52:14, a 29:15 PR.

Ran 2:1 intervals through Mile 25.

I now qualify for Marathon Maniacs with 3 marathons (and 2 PRs) in 77 days!

I felt great and ran strong to the end. Other than a bit of soreness, I feel really good and I'm waking mostly normal. Galloway is magic! :)

Completed Virtual 12athon Challenge during the race with the following bonus challenges: galloway (2/1 intervals), sunrise (race started at 6:30; sunrise At 7:07), 12 Runners (ran with pace group and well over 12 of us were still together at mile 12 ); masquerade (dressed in all pink in support of breast cancer awareness, which was the purpose of the race). And I got bonus style points for the huge PR and becoming a marathon maniac despite the deep freeze for a total of 62.2 points! :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

26.2 with Donna Pre-Race Thoughts & Virtual 12athon

Well, this is it! In less than 12 hours I'll be toeing the line of my 4th marathon, and I'm so ready. Today has been a super busy day. I've been up and going non-stop for the past 12 hours and I'm so ready to get some shut eye. I'll have no problem falling asleep before 8 pm, which is good because I'll be up before 4 am to get ready and catch the shuttle to the start. I'm really looking forward to catching up with everyone at the Galloway tent and meeting my pace group. Since the weather will be favorable (though maybe too cold), I'm going for it and running with the 5 hour pace group. Hopefully that is the right choice but I won't know unless I try. I am fully prepared to fall back into the 5:15 pace group if it's too aggressive because I also want to make sure I have fun. I'm pretty sure I'll be running with my camera to capture the journey, and I'll also have my iPhone to hear your comments.

Track Me!
  • See for official tracking information. You can track me on that site or via the iPhone app where you can see my progress on a map and these splits: 5, 10, 1/2, 15, 20, and finish.
  • Runmeter will post my splits to Facebook every 5 miles and I'll be able to hear your comments, so your words of encouragement will be most welcomed!
Virtual 12athon

In addition to the marathon, I'm participating in the Virtual 12athon tomorrow. The main goal is to run 12 miles on the 12th. I easily got that covered, but the fun is in trying to do as many bonus challenges as possible. There are a ton of bonus challenges to choose from, and below are the ones I'm going to attempt:
  • Galloway - run/walk
  • Sunrise - see sunrise during run
  • 12 Runners - get 11 runners to run 12 miles with you. 
  • Masquerade - run in a costume based on a holiday in that month
Galloway and sunrise are gimmes, but the other 2 will require a bit of creativity because I need to document it. I am running this race with a pace group, so I'm hoping it is big enough and at least 12 remain by the 12 mile mark. I just need to figure out how to get them all in a photo in the middle of a marathon lol The other one is not quite as hard but with the weather curve ball I am not sure. I am wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness, which is the purpose of the race, but not sure if that will be good enough or if I need to wear something depicting valentine's day too. I had socks I tried to turn into leg warmers but that didn't pan out, so we'll see if the pink is enough.

Friday, February 10, 2012

26.2 with Donna Expo

We arrived in Jacksonville this morning and were able to check in early, so we dropped off our luggage and walked over to the expo. Even though we were in as soon as they opened the doors, packet pick up was already a bit chaotic. We got our bibs, our sweet goodie bags, race shirts, and more freebies as we explored the Expo. I couldn't leave without my financial contribution, so I bought a new bondi band and a hydropouch (pictured below) to do my part to go green at this race. I'm looking forward to trying it out on Sunday.  I never did find the pacers, but hope to do so tomorrow. When they announced there would be corrals based on our estimated finish time, I got worried because I could not remember what I put and I needed to start with the 5 hour pace group. Turns out I had nothing to worry about because I had put 4:45 Ha! I'm actually in a faster starting corral than I need, so I plan to move down one to start with my pace group. Is it Sunday yet? :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday: 26.2 with Donna Edition

Last Taper Run - I woke up and wasn't feeling it. I really just wanted to go back to bed, but I got out there and ran and an easy(ish) 3.5 miles with Shameika and Julie. I was aiming for a 12ish pace, but the cold weather (and Shameika) made us run a little faster. It was good though. Now I just have to take it easy and stay healthy until Sunday. I'm so ready for this race weekend to begin! 

Sunday's Weather - I wanted cold for this race, and I may get more than I bargained for. The temps keep dropping, and the current forecast calls for a high in the low 50s. One site says the high at noon will be high 40s. This is really great running weather, but this Floridian isn't used to it and will freeze at the start. But I am prepared with my mylar blanket outfit :) 

Outfit - Despite the unexpected weather, I think I'm going to stick with my original outfit -- matching skirt sports pink (super hero print) tank top and running skirt with black knee high compression socks -- with a few additions: arm warmers, leggings, gloves, buff, headband/skull cap, and I made a top and mini cape/shoulder wrap out of the mylar blankets so I don't have to wear a jacket. These will be so much easier to ditch or store if I get too warm, and they have the added benefit of being waterproof. I'll also need to pack and check a gear bag for after the race in case it rains and I need to get out of wet clothes in a hurry. I'm up for the challenge! :)

Mylar blanket top and cape/shoulder wrap. 
I'm wearing a matching tank top underneath and 
tucking the corners of the blankets under the tank top straps.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Marathon #4 - Recapture the Joy

I race a lot, and sometimes that means that I don't fully enjoy the experience or that I take it for granted. My first marathon was an amazing experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of that entire weekend. The next 2 were a bit anticlimactic because I didn't go to the expo (they didn't have much of one), drove up the morning of, then promptly left after I finished to refuel at a restaurant. The third was better than the second because I focused on fun during the race, but still didn't feel as magical as #1 -- will any really will? ;) This weekend I hope to recapture the feeling from my first marathon and really enjoy the journey. Yes I have a goal, a very aggressive goal, but that doesn't mean that I can't also have fun.

Friday: We are driving up in the morning and spending several hours at the expo. I want to meet the pacers, hear the speakers, get KT Tape applied by the professionals, buy a new bondi band for the occasion, take silly photos, and just take it all in.

Saturday: After spectating at the 5K and visiting the expo a bit, I'll be in a Galloway meeting all day, which I'm actually really excited about. It will be great meeting other program leaders and learning more about the program I love so much. I'm going to the pasta dinner after the meeting to mingle with other Galloway leaders and hear from some amazing speakers.

Sunday: It's show time! We'll take the shuttle to the start early and head to the Galloway tent to stay warm while reconnecting with everyone and taking group photos, then we'll head to the starting corrals to find my pace group. Racing with a pace group will be a new experience for me and I'm really looking forward to it because they'll be using the Galloway run/walk/run method. I ran my first marathon alone, and it worked great then, but I've been training with a group and I've enjoyed racing with others. I look forward to sharing this experience with a group with the same goal, and hopefully having fun while we work together to achieve it. I want to bring my camera to capture this like I did #1, but I really don't want to carry it. We'll see what wins out on race day. Since it's looking like it will be quite cold, if I wear my jacket I'll bring it. Otherwise, I may have to make do with the iPhone.

Post-race: I plan to take full advantage of the post-race festivities, including all the yummy food, silly photos, and free massages! We may not make it back to the hotel in time for late checkout, but we can clean up and change somewhere before driving home. Jason will be running this one too, so it will be fun to compare notes on the drive home. I really don't want to rush through the celebration of this accomplishment, and really want to soak in every last drop this weekend has to offer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dining Out Less

One of my goals for 2012 is to reduce the amount of restaurant food I eat. On the surface, this seems like a financial goal. While that is one reason, and a nice side effect, this goal is more about eating healthy than it is about saving money. We always eat healthier when we eat at home because we know where the food came from and how much salt, sugar, etc went into it. But it goes even deeper than that. My theme for this year is to be mindful of the choices I make. For this specific goal that means that I want dinner (or lunch) out to be a treat and not the norm whenever we feel is slightly more convenient. I want to make those times count.

I'm budgeting for this in dollars as well as frequency, because spending my money wisely is always a goal of mine. Initially I was not going to count the snacks and sweets, only restaurant meals, but the random snacks are probably the splurges I need to control the most. When we eat a meal at a restaurant, it is often out of perceived convenience, to socialize, or to celebrate something. But walking across the street from work to buy a smoothie or a cookie is not really a convenience issue, is due to poor planning or more often because I am craving sugar. So I amended my goal to include both in the $80 monthly gap, with $20 of that being in sweets/snacks. I'm still shooting for only eating 8 meals per month at restaurants, which still seems high to me since I always pack a lunch to work; I would prefer if we only went to a restaurant once a week or on special occasions. For now, I am not going to set a limit on the snacks/sweets outings and see how I do with the $20 cap.

I thought it would be interesting to analyze the reasons I go out to eat. In January, we ate 8 of our meals at restaurants, not include random snacks/sweets purchases. Here's the breakdown:
  • social: 4 
  • just because: 2 (we had a groupon) 
  • celebration: 1 (lunch after marathon #3) 
  • convenience: 1 (after flying home from vacation) 
I'm pleased that only once it was due to convenience. Socializing and celebrating are obviously big reasons why many people go to a restaurant, and we are no different. Ever since I lost the weight and started eating healthy, I've been trying to redefine the equation that celebration = food, but it's so ingrained in our culture that it's a bad habit to break. I'm not saying we need to break the habit entirely, just be mindful of it. I want to start focusing on sharing experiences with friend instead of food. I want to get our place in shape so we can start hosting game nights again, do that iron chef party we keep plotting, and start a dinner club where we take turns hosting a monthly potluck to try new recipes and not miss out on the social aspect of dinning out. Let's see where this little adventure leads :)

Further Reading: The Chain Restaurant Is The Worst Deal in America & 4 Easy Ways to Stop Eating Out

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bruised Wrist

This morning I slept in instead of doing yoga. This wasn't by choice -- I actually woke up at 5 am and went back to sleep for another hour. My wrist has been bothering me for a while now, but I thought it was getting better. Something I did yesterday afternoon made it worse or re-injured it -- I may have slept on it during a nap or something.

It saddened me to not start my day with yoga, and made me a little cranky, but I figured rest was best because there is no way I can do a downward facing dog right now. Almost every routine I do includes that pose because it's so versatile, and I really like doing it. While I recently discovered that I can substitute dolphin pose, it is not the same, but maybe I just need to get used to it. I know there are plenty of standing or sitting poses I can do, but I felt a little lost without my go-to poses this morning. I knew I would just get frustrated if I tried to wing it and then couldn't do many poses, so I stated in bed instead. I'm going to look through my yoga book and try to put a routine together I can do without putting pressure on my hand/wrist because I do yoga for sanity as much as flexibility.

This also means I had to give up on the Burpees Challenge, but that's ok. I shouldn't be starting a new routine so close to race day anyway. I'm going to keep focusing on staying healthy this week; I can always pick up extra yoga and core/strength work next month when I'm fully recovered from the marathon and whatever I did to my wrist.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Recap: Week 5 2012

This was a great week. I'm in awe that I walked so much, and pleased that I got out on my bike on 3 different occasions. It's a good thing too because I'm not sure I'll get on my bike this week while tapering and then traveling for the race. I didn't do as much yoga as last week, mainly because I slept in today and didn't do my usual Sunday hour. I needed the extra sleep, so that's ok.  I'm not going to set any specific goals for week 6, other than to listen to my body during my last 2 runs and play the rest by ear. The main focus is on getting enough rest, eating well, hydrating, and staying healthy for race day. 

Week 5: Jan 30  - Feb 5

  • Ran 17 miles; avg pace 11:42
  • Walked 21 miles
  • Biked 29 miles (3x)
  • yoga - 2.5 hours
  • Burpees challenge

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Final Taper Week to Marathon #4

This morning I ran my last long run before Marathon #4 next Sunday. The run went ok, not great, but we had a blast celebrating Omar's birthday and trying to remember the 8 mile route that looked so unfamiliar in the daylight. Since we had low millage, and it's supposed the winter, we started at 7 am. We usually run in the dark, so everything looked very different. We enjoyed looking at the gorgeous houses in Winter Park, listening to Omar's trivia, and Julie quizzing us about what we would name our own 5K race. Although the air felt cool, it was in the low 60s and pretty humid, so I struggled a bit at the end and my legs felt heavy (probably because I biked 5 miles to the start). Now it's all about taking it easy and staying healthy to make it to the start line in one piece. I have two more easy runs this week, then I head to Jacksonville on Friday! The weather is looking favorable for a PR, but I'll post more about that as it gets closer and I can trust the forecast.

Birthday boy Omar begin a good sport wearing his birthday crown

Friday, February 3, 2012

Recap: January 2012

January was an awesome month and a great start to 2012. I have no doubt that February will be just as good. I'll let the stats speak for themselves, with a bit of commentary along the way. :)

Stats & Goal Progress (8%)
  • Run: 101 / 1000 miles (10%) - 3rd time ever running 100+ miles in 1 month, and that means I'm ahead of my goal. w00t! I'll probably be under my goal of 85/mo next month since I'll be taking it a bit easier after the marathon, but we'll see how things shake out. 
    • time: 20.5 hours
    • avg pace: 11:25 
  • Walk: 54 / 500 miles (11%) - monthly PR as far as I can tell. I've been really focusing on walking as active recovery and because I really enjoy it, and the weather is perfect for it. I need to take advantage of it while I can before it gets too hot to walk to the bus without bringing a change of clothes to work. 
  • Bike: 43 miles; 4 / 52 times (8%) - no PRs here, but glad I got out once a week as planned. I think this will go up throughout the summer because I'll be helping my group do some brick workouts, and I may even try a duathlon or triathlon before year's end. 
  • Yoga: 10 / 120 hours (8%) - right on target! I've been enjoying this a lot, but I may have to slow down a bit in lieu of sleep and so I don't over stretch muscles, but I may just vary the routine a bit more to target different areas. 
  • Core: plank a day (40m total) - So glad this is over lol I'm take a little bit of a break, but plan to keep doing it a few times a week. 
  • Drove: 622 / 6500 miles (10%) - A little more than planned, but not too bad considering the circumstances. I'll write a separate post about my thoughts on this goal later. 
  • Dinning Out: 8x; $91 / $80 - A little high, but not too bad. I'll write a separate post about my thoughts on this goal later. 
    • Restaurants - $60 / $60 
    • Snacks/Sweets - $32 / $20 
January Accomplishments

Goals for February

Thursday, February 2, 2012

TTT: Burpees, Taper/Recovery, Juice Fast

Burpee February Challenge - I've started another crazy challenge this month, courtesy of Maddy. The challenge is simple: do the number of burpees that corresponds to the day of the month. February 1st, do 1 burpee, February 2nd, do 2 burpees ... all the way to February 29th: 29 BURPEES! So far, so good! But it will be interesting when I have to do 12 on marathon day lol If I wasn't running this for time, I'd do one at each mile marker for the first 12 miles. It should at least be a good warm up before the race :) It's not too late to join the challenge, just do 3 today and jump right in. Here's a video showing you what a burpee is and a beginner version.

Taper/Recovery - This is a weird time because I'm recovering from Ocala and tapering for BCM, so I'm trying to take get in quality workouts and really listen to my body when it tells me to take it easy. Tuesday I woke up with a bit of pain near my hip/glute. I warmed up and it felt ok, so I did a speedy 3 miles at 30s faster than race pace. I didn't think I had that in me, but somehow pulled of a 10:52 average pace with perfect negative splits. I wore my compression capris under my jeans to work and iced on the bus and at work. It was angry most of the day, and I felt a bit run down, so I slept in Wednesday and skipped my typical yoga routine to give everything a rest. I did yoga on the bus, but that's mostly upper body with a few gentle seated hip openers. This morning I felt much better, but I skipped the track just in case in favor of an easy 4 mile run on the road. It was a little tough because I'm not used to 2:30/1 intervals, but I busted out an 11:20 pace, 7s faster than race pace. It was a beautiful morning, so that surely helped. I chatted a bit too long with Laura so I did not have time for yoga before heading to the bus, but I did it at the bus again. I love that!

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead - We saw this movie last week as part of January's Challenge for a Change - Healthy Eating. It was an interesting movie, and seeing the transformations in such a short time was incredible, but I could not shake the feeling at the end of the film that it was just an hour and a half long commercial for the juice fast. Not to mention that anything that shows loosing that much weight that fast scares me. It causes people to expect that as normal weight loss when losing more than 1-2 lbs per week for most people is unhealthy and borderline dangerous.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leadership Challenge

Today was day 1 of the Leadership Challenge, a 4 week leadership training program I'm taking for work (we meet 4 hours once a week). When we got there, we chose a name tent with a quote in the back. There were lots of really good ones, but I chose the one pictured above ("A smile is the shortest distance between two people.") because I thought it represented me the best. The other two I really liked and almost chose were:

Be yourself;
everyone else is already taken. 
- Oscar Wilde

I can change me.
I can change how I relate to you.
I cannot change you.

Our first homework assignment before we even got there today was to write about our personal best leadership experience and then share it with the group. That is a tall order. In case you had not noticed, I'm a joiner; I always have been. But I can't just join something; I need to be an active participant and jump in with both feet, which usually means taking on a leadership role. When I was in High School, I belonged to a ton of clubs and was an officer of most of them. In fact, I was an officer in the officer's club. I belonged to the LEAD Scholars program in college, where once again I was an officer. I even helped start a few clubs at UCF. I've been the lead of two different teams at work for over 10 years. But for the exercise, I chose my most recent experience: being a Galloway group leader. It has been so rewarding, and I hope I've helped them as much as they've helped me. 

Maybe during this challenge I can reflect on why I do this so often. Probably has something to do with my OCD tendencies and being a bit of a control-freak ;) I really do enjoy it though because I love motivating others and it feels natural to me. But every good leader knows that we can always improve, so I'm looking forward to this opportunity to identify the areas where I need to improve to become a better leader. 
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