Monday, January 25, 2016

A Week of Workouts - January 25, 2016

Hello!  This has been an extraordinarily tough week, so I'll just cut to the chase and get back to my life. 

My husband had to travel to New York unexpectedly to deal with a family emergency, so I was running the show on my own.  It's a tall order to cook, clean, care for a toddler, and stay caught up on work without any help.  Finding time to work out, relax, or do anything "extra" can seem nearly impossible.  At any rate, things are back to normal for a little while.  And I'm feeling even more grateful than before that I have nothing major I am training for right now.

Monday - 6.6 @ 8:49 on some hilly country roads.  I tried to deliberately run slowly, and I succeeded insofar as my heart rate did not get very high (or even out of the aerobic zone) during this run.  I had someone to sit briefly while W napped and it was a huge help.  I even cooked a bit of dinner.

Tuesday - Nothing.  The day got away from me and by the time I could arrange for a sitter, it was quite late.

Wednesday - 4.4 @ 7:50 on the treadmill.  I finished up some work around 10am, and made a last minute decision to head to the gym and make use of their childcare.  I managed to run on the treadmill for 35 minutes, stretch, and shower in 40 minutes.  We had plenty of time to pick up our weekly groceries and get home before W needed his lunch. 

Thursday - 8 @ 8:44 on the treadmill.  Again, very grateful for gym childcare!  I did this as a 70-minute aerobic run, after feeling like I had been taking recent runs too fast. 

Friday - 5 @ 8:27 on the treadmill, followed by an hour yoga class.  This two-hour period at the gym was my only "break" during the day.  The yoga felt good. 

Saturday - 6.5 @ 9:11 on the treadmill (UGH AGAIN).  My husband took an earlier flight to avoid traveling during the forecast snow storm, and he got back during the night.  He had been doing a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, through a local 10-mile race.  He decided to get up and run it, despite having no sleep.  And despite the 11-degree weather.  Better he than me!  I didn't get to go to my weekly track club run (second time in a row), but I'm not sure I would have gone to it anyway, in such cold and stormy weather.  It's hard to do that when you are stressed, sleep deprived, and not training for anything in particular.  Just sayin' it like it is.  Once my husband was done racing, I hauled myself onto the treadmill for a slower run.  It's hard for me to run "slow" lately, ie. above a 9:00 pace.

Sunday - 4.5 @ 8:03 on the treadmill.  The entire Ashtanga Series B (80 minutes) in a very crowded yoga studio.  I alllllmost can go from downward dog to crane by jumping through a hand stand.  Not that anyone cares about that stuff.  I'm feeling pretty solid with the arm balances now. 

Totals - 35.1 miles of running.  Two yoga classes.  One day of complete rest.  I survived.  

Now it's Monday and I'm still feeling exhausted.  A little sore from yesterday's yoga class.  I'm planning to take a bit of an easier week now.

Everyone enjoy your week!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Workouts - January 18, 2016

Here is an expression that sums up the past week:

Anyway!  I'm away from home again, and running in extremely hilly terrain, so the workouts have been sort of hang-on-for-dear-life type stuff.  I also canned the idea of an early spring marathon (I think?  Still not discounting a longer trail race, though.), after faking my way through several long runs, not recovering properly from multiple illnesses, unforeseen family stuff, travel, etc.  It's been freeing.  Without that anxiety, I am actually running faster, and doing more workouts how I "feel," rather than how I "should."  If that makes sense. are the workouts!

Monday - 8 @ 8:43 on the treadmill.  Getting started on this one was mentally taxing, but I made it happen.

Tuesday - 5.3 @ 8:16 on my favorite local loop.  I didn't intend to run this one so fast, and didn't really realize what had happened until I downloaded my watch data.

Wednesday - 70-minute yoga class in the early morning.  Then, I stayed in my yoga pants for the work day (I KNOW).  On my way home, I had to stop at Target, which just so happens to be riiiiiiight next to the entrance to a local trail system.  I did a quick 4 @ 8:09 and it barely added any extra time to my commute. 

Thursday - 6.1 @ 9:09 on the dirt trails at Veteran's Park.

Friday - Rest, for travel.

Saturday - 6 @ 8:48 on extremely hilly paved roads.  Traffic was challenging.  Not in the good way.

Sunday - 5.2 @ 8:29 on the same damn hills.  Only I made more of an effort to avoid more trafficked roads. 

Totals - 35 miles of running, one yoga class, several injury prevention sessions that I didn't log.  I think I also did a bench press workout but I can't remember :(

Have a great week!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Resolution Run Trail 13.1 - January 2, 2016, Red Mountain Park, Birmingham Alabama (2:14:52)

Time for a recap of a trail race I ran for fun!

Running past the goat pens.  Did you know Red Mountain Park uses these goats to clear underbrush and invasive species?!  How cute is that?

This race was the fifth annual early-January Resolution Run sponsored by the Birmingham Track Club for the benefit of Red Mountain Park, a free 1200-acre park on a high mountain ridge outside of Birmingham, Alabama.  It has 14+ miles of trails (with volunteers building new ones all the time), massive off-leash dog parks, a climbing wall, ziplines, picnic areas, and some awesome historic archaeological sites from the early-20th-century coal mining era.  If you haven't gone yet, GO!

The race was only $20 for the "long" option I ran, and there were 5k and 10k courses offered, as well (although I heard rumors that both of those ran a bit long...the 10k was over 7 miles!).  There was also a one-mile fun run...yes, an actual one-mile run on singletrack trails!  Children and dogs were welcomed for all events.  Basically, the race was designed to fund Red Mountain Park, and to let all us crazy runners start the New Year off in proper fashion.

I tried to be incognito in my shorts and socks at the check-in tent, but several of my friends were already warming up.

Of course, I was not going to miss this one.  I rolled out of bed around 6:00 for the 7:30 start, and got to the park just before 7:00.  I had a banana with a few heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter for my breakfast...having some extra fat on a cold day is something I have been doing since I lived in Colorado.  I really think it helps you stay warm.  I chased that with probably too much black coffee while I drove.

I decided (probably stupidly) to run in shorts and knee-high compression socks, a buff and heavy wool hat on my head, gloves, and a variety of layers to mix and match on my upper body.  It was FREEZING at check-in...probably about 30 degrees.  Yes, stop laughing and realize that just two weeks prior I had been running in a bra top while the temperatures neared 80 degrees.  I wasn't ready!

Oh, also I wore my new-ish trail shoes, the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger, which I am enjoying even though they have a pretty low arch and drop for an unrepentant heel striker like myself.  I hung around in all my layers, and posed for some pictures with my running buddies.

Tanya was in the middle of removing her track pants, haha.

What am I doing?  A photo booth?  (Nikki, Alicia, Darnell, me, Tanya)

Most of the trail races around here are a straight up sausage party. 

I reluctantly stashed my down vest and water in the car, put my key and a caffeinated Clif gel in my pocket, and lined up to start.  The first half mile was a long stretch on a power line easement with fat, rolling hills.  This steered the race crowd away from the main park entrance, where ordinary Saturday traffic was starting to pick up.  The easement isn't a "trail" per se, just a cleared area with some gravel and small access roads.  The low spots were flooded, and I immediately stepped in a massive and unavoidable puddle, soaking my left shoe and sock.  "At least I got that out of the way early on," I thought.  The crowd thinned out and the route turned into steeper singletrack.  The race just flew by. 

These are trail splits, so the GAP ("grade adjusted pace") is probably more informative.

Looking for solid footing, selecting a route, and running gracefully and efficiently on trails really occupy your mind and drown out the little voice that constantly asks "are we there yet??!"  Despite rumors to the contrary, I found 99.9% of this course to be "runnable" and didn't really do any walking.  I kept an eye on my heart rate, and didn't let it get out of control during the first few miles of climbing.

In mile four (the slow 12:45 split), I stopped for a bit at an aid station, where I popped open my gel, drank a cup of water, and dropped my fleece jacket.  The volunteers were worried they wouldn't be able to return my jacket, and I told them to throw it away if they didn't catch me after.  (I bought the jacket as a cheapo throwaway SEVEN races ago, and it always manages to find me again.)  I kept the opened gel in my hand and sort of took sips (well, frozen chunks) of gel for the rest of the race. 

By this time, the crowd thinned out and I ran near a few guys who were friendly but not talkative.  We made the climb up to the radio tower and I dropped them.  For a large part of miles six and seven, we were on very narrow singletrack winding up a ravine face.  We were running upstream against the people on the 10k course, and many of them were worried or unsure about their footing.  I greeted each person and moved aside when I could.  Everyone seemed so happy to be out running, which really made my day.

I should mention that for the ENTIRE race, my feet were so cold they were completely numb.  My wet left foot was frozen up to the calf.  It was so odd trying to find trail footing without that nice feeling of being in contact with the ground!  The course turned into some mellow ridge top roads, so I was able to speed up.  Near the end of mile nine, we reached the bottom of Red Mountain and the pens where they keep the vegetation control goats.  I saw the park photographer and his assistant sort of camped out and waiting for runners.  They told me I was the second or third woman and cheered for me, which was cool. 

Trying to smooth out my RBF (running bitch face) for the benefit of the park photographer.

Very close to the end -- like maybe partway through mile ten? -- there was another mile-long section of technical singletrack that I wasn't expecting.  It was a nice way to occupy my mind and stay in the moment.  During the last two miles, I just focused on passing as many people as I could.  I managed to pass nine people, but that included a guy who stopped to pee and two women finishing the 10k who stopped to take a selfie haha. 

No one was near me when I turned onto the final stretch.  I saw the race clock said 2:14:something, so I ran it out to finish under 2:15. 

I guess I don't touch the ground very much when I'm running, because like 90% of my race photos are this silly "flying" pose.  Weeeeeee!  Also, do I look less angry than usual?  I think so.

The race tshirt was very nice...a long-sleeved tech shirt, which is kind of rare.  The post-race scene was also very cool, with free coffee, pastries, beer, barbeque sandwiches, and fruit.  I grabbed water, beer, and coffee, and stood around juggling my three beverages like someone at a cocktail party.  It didn't take long for me to realize that I was close to ODing on caffeine and needed to pour out the coffee.  Then, it wasn't much longer until I realized that I was way too cold for beer, and gave mine away.  I watched my friends finish, then hit the road with my teeth chattering.

Back home, I sat in a hot bath and watched my feet turn from white to purple to red.  Painful!  I definitely felt like I had run farther than thirteen miles.  I felt more like I had finished a twenty-mile road run, actually.  Even my upper body and abs were sore, which just goes to show how important it is to work on upper body strength, core stability, and balance if you want to run trails more efficiently.

Okay, I'll stop rambling because that's all there really is to say about this race.  You can view my watch data here on Strava, if you are so inclined. Honestly, I had so much fun that I wish there were a race like this every single weekend.

Everyone have a great day, and thanks for reading!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Workouts - January 11, 2016

Happy Monday!

It's time to recap last week's workouts.  First of all, let me say I am still having a great time with my newly "cleaned up" diet.  I did a full eleven days without any sugar or grains, with the exception of a single gel during last Saturday's trail half marathon.  After this Saturday's long run, I gave myself some freedom and ate some whole grain waffles, a pizza slice, and some strawberry ice cream.  I felt decent the next morning, but I am going to take some more time away from those foods anyway.  I find that I sleep much better, have more steady energy during workouts, and don't get as dehydrated or hungry in the afternoons. 

So, this has become my new typical breakfast:

This lets me eat hot sauce at breakfast, which is awesome.

I used to start the day with a French press coffee with whole milk and cane sugar.  Now, I just drink it black.  It's much easier in the morning, and I love the taste of coffee so the change isn't an issue. 

This is my new lunch, whereas I would normally have toast or crackers with cottage cheese, leftovers from dinner, or a plate full of snack foods and fruit.  

Vegetables at lunch!  I know, crazy, right?!
On to the workouts!

Monday: 3.6 @ 9:12 with my dog.  There is a new 750-mile trail system planned for the state of Alabama, and the new Jones Valley section was just recently completed.  I am so excited for safe trails for biking and running!  I took my dog out for a little test run on a segment of trail, and she loved it. 

Tuesday: 10 @ 9:07 on the treadmill (because of the incline, my watch ended up with 10.2 @ 8:46).  I did it!  Ninety minutes on the treadmill with no pauses or breaks!  I have been working up to this for months now.  My average heart rate was 163, which is right in the aerobic zone.  I am working at becoming more comfortable and relaxed during long steady-state runs.  Now, all I need to do is start sneaking the speed up bit by bit. 

I had to take this picture.
Wednesday: 3.1 @ 7:33 on the treadmill, then an 80-minute yoga class.  This was an angry run, because it got very late in the day before I had time to get a workout in.  I just barely had time to hop on the treadmill for 25 minutes and work out some aggression before a much-needed yoga session. 

Update from my ongoing quest to find the ugliest yoga pants available. 

Thursday: 6.6 @ 9:16 on an easy tour of the neighborhood.  I didn't plan a route or look at my watch, just ran to relax and put some miles in the bank.  The easy pace and crisp, cold weather meant I barely broke a sweat, which was nice!

Friday: 5.5 @ 9:03 on trails.  I dropped my son off at school, then stole a few hours for a challenging trail run and a fancy cup of coffee. 

I am trying to learn how to set up self timer photos on my phone, so I can enter the 21st century with the rest of you cool kids.  Results have been mixed. 

Saturday: 12 @ 8:38 on the track club Saturday long run.  I have no idea why, but everyone went WAY TOO FAST on this run.  We had an early mile that was something like 7:50.  When something like this happens on a group run, I am at the mercy of pace leaders, and faced with the option of keeping up or being dropped.  I put down a huge effort in the hilly front half of this run, and the last two miles were painful.  We made three stops for water and fuel, and each one lasted less than a full minute.  I used dates as fuel, and I was pleased with how I felt during the run. 

Sunday: Real rest.  Lots of delicious food and stretching.

Totals: 41.3 miles of running, including a few easy runs, a treadmill speed session, a treadmill endurance session, a trail run, and a long tempo.  One yoga class.  One day of complete rest. 

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Workouts - January 4, 2016

Hello, New Year!

After last week's pity party, I have been doing everything in my power to get my running mojo back.  I'm happy to report I am almost, completely 100% healthy, even though some mutant form of recurring toddler bronchitis threatened to destroy everyone in my household.  Just a bit of a cough and a healing rash (something I get when I run a fever) remaining.  Yay!

For the past week, I have cut all sugar, processed grains, and processed foods out of my diet.  I'm eating a LOT of pinto beans, fruit, nuts, olive oil, and sweet potatoes.  I feel amazing and have so much energy.  I think we tend to ignore how much of an effect diet has on our overall sense of well being.

The new breakfast.  Black coffee is life right now. 

I ran just over 30 miles this week.  That's low for me, but I didn't hate any of them.  I also crushed a trail half marathon (2:14:52) in nasty, wet winter conditions.  That felt good.  I spent a lot of time doing yoga.  Things are looking up.

Running through the finish line.  Thanks to my friend Suman for this awesome picture.
On to the workouts!

Monday - 4 @ 8:52 around my parents' hilly ass neighborhood.  I embraced the hills and went for six laps on the "worst" stretch of rollers.  It was 78 degrees F.  Feels good, man.

I also did 50 pushups, in three sets.  Then, in the name of family camaraderie, I did a bunch of stupid human tricks with my brother and brother in law...handstands, arm balances, flips, planks, that kind of thing.  What?  Your family doesn't do that?

Tuesday - 6 @ 8:32 around a mostly flat lake trail, along with my husband.  I really, really, really didn't want to run.  I didn't want to get dressed, didn't want to eat, didn't want to drive to the park, didn't want to start my get the idea.  But one we started, I felt amazing and strong!  I actually didn't want to quit running, but we had to get back to my parents' for dinner.  The weather was much cooler (like 60 F) and I think that helped.

Wednesday - No running!  Just 60 pushups, in three sets.  And driving.  And applying for my new Chinese visa.  Haha.

Thursday - 5.8 @ 8:34 on the treadmill, as a hill workout.  Then an hour-long advanced vinyasa yoga class.  Ow.  (Treadmill hill workouts are weird, because you never go "downhill," you just climb up and up and up and get nowhere haha.)

Friday - 2 @ 8:52 with my dog.  Someone must have lit a fire under my dog's ass, because she NEVER runs this fast.  The whole time we were at my parents', she was basically running free/crazy on about 90 acres with three other dogs.  I think it really whipped her into shape!

Feats of strength!  Also, our hair sort of matches!
Saturday - 13.1 @ 10:27 on the trails at Red Mountain Park.  My time was 2:14:52, third overall woman.  I'll have a recap before too long, because there are too many hilarious pictures not to.  This was a "casual" trail run (of which there are many in my neck of the woods) that I signed up for the night before.  I ran it for fun and had a blast, aside from getting slightly frozen.  The trails were still wet and flooded from the weather we had last week, but the temperature was around 33 F.  Brrrrrr!  I also ditched and forgot to retrieve my cheapo "throwaway" fleece jacket I've been wearing to races for more than a year.  R.I.P. fleece jacket, you will not be missed.

Look!  Trail runner fashion!

Sunday - Hour and a half Ashtanga yoga class, all of Primary Series and part of Series B.  Good stuff.  Puts hair on your chest.

Totals - 30.9 miles of running, including a hill workout, a tempo, a treadmill workout, a shakeout, and a trail race.  Two yoga classes.  Pushups.  Stupid calisthenics.   

Everyone have a great week!