Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 Goals

Ah yes, the goals post. I’ve been giving this one a lot of thought and it’s about time to commit it to paper, as it were.

I made some 2011 running goals, before I knew what I was really talking about. I don’t really have the energy to go digging that post up, but I will consider this year a success. Over 700 miles run, 2 half marathons, 3 10k PRs. not too shabby.

I had one “resolution” in 2011 and it was not running related: to not date for the entire year. I have 6 days left, technically, but I’m willing to call this a raging success. It was a necessary “reset” of sorts, and I don’t regret it one bit.

Now for 2012:

1. Run Four Half Marathons. Perhaps a tall order, doubling my number of halfs from this year. But I think I’ve got a good plan worked out. I’ve only registered for one thus far – Lake Placid – but I’ve got them picked out, roped Natalie into it, and off we go!
Oleksak Half Marathon – April 1, 2012
Lake Placid Half Marathon – June 10, 2012
Rock N’ Roll Providence – August 19, 2012
Hudson Mohawk Half Marathon – October 7, 2012
2. That helps for goal number 2: add 2 states to my half marathon races. I’ll get Massachusetts and Rhode Island out of this. And I’ve never been to Rhode Island, so this should be fun!

3. Join a run club. I think I'm going to joing the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners. That way, I’ll get a discount on that last half marathon (the one I’m really looking for a huge PR in). And, they offer 2 races per month, several of which are free to members. Sounds like a win win!

4. Run 1000 miles. If I could run 700+ this year while only training for 2 half marathons, I think I can squeeze in another 300! Plus, last January was a really low mileage month, as I was just getting in to running.

5. Break 100 miles in at LEAST one month. I kind of made this an informal goal this year, and got so close! (91 was my closest).

6. Plank for two and a half minutes. I’m already at 1:15, due to #plankaday. So I really think this is feasible.

7. Be able to do 50 pushups. I’m ordering an iphone this week so the 100pushups app will probably be the first thing I buy. I can’t even do one full pushup right now (I know, I'm ashamed), so 50 seems reasonable for a year-long goal.

8. 4 hours of yoga a month. I always say I’m going to start going to yoga more, and never do. When I go, I love it. This is a reasonable goal of one yoga class a week. Since they offer yoga at my gym at least 6 days a week this really shouldn’t be an issue.

9. Try one new, healthy recipe a week. I have been tossing around some way to make “healthier eating” or “stop eating shit” or “eat clean” an actionable goal, and this is what I came up with. Not perfect, in terms of the rules of writing achievable goals, but it’ll have to do.

10. This goal is “new years” – ish, I plan to have this done by the end of January. Create an inspiration board/scrapbook. Originally this was just an inspiration board, but I got a whole bunch of running scrapbook stuff and pictures from my parents, so I have that to work on too!

I’m planning on have a year of high-milage, PR, smart recover, and lots of learning. I’m really looking forward to reading everyone else’s goal posts! Let’s make 2012 run-tacular!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Christmas and Atheism

Once again, I know this is a running blog, but every once in a while there is something else that I find the need to write about, and this is still my only outlet.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on here, but I’m a non-believer. An atheist, if you will. I used to be really stern about it. It’s not that my feelings about a god, or organized religion have changed; they are still quite solid. However, the way that I fit that rationale into a larger context of life as an American has changed.

I do not now, nor will I ever believe in “god.” I think organized religion is misguided and down-right creepy. I will be the first in line to tell you to get your nativity off that public highway. But, what I won’t do is try to convince you that I’m right and you’re (you, being a believer) wrong. It’s a futile argument only had by people that are super extreme/confrontational on either side. All that I’m asking in return is that you do the same. Don’t worry about my soul or whatever, because depending on your specific line of belief, a myriad of things could happen when I die, or I could just die.

I found atheism by a personal search, fueled not by a super religious upbringing and then rebellion (as it is found on many occasion), but by the fact that my parents just never really brought religion into the equation. We never went to church or were baptized or any of that. I got, perhaps, a bit more religion than my siblings, being the oldest. I went to some church thing (during school hours – the horror) when I was young, and some summer church camp thingy. When I was about 8 I would pray for my family every night, out of fear, that god might smite us if I didn’t. And that’s about it. That’s my experience with religion.

As I got older, and really thought about it, I just think the whole thing is odd and irrational. I’m often caught off guard when a close friend mentions going to church, willingly, as an adult. It’s as if I forget it’s part of people’s lives sometimes. But it is, and I respect your right to believe as long as you respect my right not to.


I. Freaking. Love. Christmas.

It’s not about the birth of Christ, or immaculate conception or whatever. To me, it’s about family. Spending time together, eating delicious food, gift giving, decorations, fun movies, Santa Clause etc. Every year people get all pissed about how Christmas has become commercialized and blah blah. We’ve lost the point of it and what have you. Spend a few days with your family and friends, enjoy them, be kind, buy them stuff. Why is that so horrible?

Plus, in a favorite atheist strain, Christ wasn’t even born in December. Early Christian leaders moved the celebration of his birth to coincide with the pagan solstice celebration to aid in conversion. (Much in the same way that FDR made Thanksgiving the 3rd Thursday in November in the hope that people would take off Friday and go shopping – to boost the economy.Imagine that). Since winter happens to be one of my favorite seasons, I just consider my celebrating christmas bringing the whole thing full circle.

So, to all -  Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever. 

Being an atheist doesn’t mean you have to give up family celebrations, or days of recklessly eating cookies, or cheesy movies about family, love and hope. Take the Christ out of Christmas if you must, or the stick out of your ass, and just let me have my celebration.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Binge and Goals

Not an eating related binge. no no, almost worse. I went on weight lifting binge.

I took friday off of work, just cus, and did a serious leg workout at the gym. I have not done legs in about three weeks. Also, I haven’t used the Smith Machine for squats and lunges since, uh, July. So, instead of being a normal person and take it easy – a little weight at a time. I aimed for about 10-15 lbs under my previous max.

My quads still kill.

However, part of that is likely not just from weightlifting. On Sunday, I opted to go to the gym and run, to get the blood flowing to my muscles. Lo and behold, I finally broke 30 minutes on my 3 mile run!! yes! 29:51! I was so stoked. I really didn’t think it would happen on sunday due to how sore I was, but I was in the ZONE!

Then this morning I went back to the gym, again the zone, and banged out a quick 4.5 miles at a 10:02 pace. Still much faster than I’ve run this whole year. I’ve been consistently keeping my treadmill runs at 10:20 pace or below. Which I think is awesome!

I haven’t run outside in a while. All my running gear is black, well almost all. And I don’t have a hat, or anything reflective. I’m planning to change all of that (well probably except the black clothes thing) after christmas. Then I’ll be back out for some outdoor runs to really test my pace!


I think my first major race of next year is going to be on April 1. So formal training is starting up against soon, and I am pumped!

Upcoming post on 2012 goals! here’s to a great holiday and a positive start to the new year!!!


Friday, December 16, 2011

I took today off…


of work…

to work out.


I’ve been hoarding vacation days for months in an effort to give myself a cushion in the event that I got laid off. (we get paid out for a a rather large amount of vacation days if you leave/get laid off.)

I’d nearly reached the max payout amount. But, I’m not getting laid off. So, I randomly took a vacation day today and made no plans other than going to the gym. So of course, I fell asleep, hard, before 10pm last night, and of course, woke up at 630am with no alarm.

So, I headed to the gym, I took my time and didn’t rush myself through a serious killer leg work out. Heavy was the name of the game – PRing my hamstring curls and calf extensions, while also doing some serious work on lunges and squats on the smith machine (which I haven’t done in much longer than I’m willing to admit), among other things.

Then I ran two miles. It was hard. I kind of thought I was going to fall over for the first half mile, but I didn’t. phew.

I’ve also jumped on the #plankaday bandwagon. who knew I could do a 1 minute+ plank? Not I, but apparently I can.

I was home by 930, so next time I want to take a day off to not rush through a work out, maybe I’ll just take a half day? But, then again, maybe not. I’m currently relaxing on the couch watching the Jim Carey version of the Grinch. I’m not sure it gets much better.


Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Will this be the week?

For a bit now, I’ve been trying to break :30 for a three mile time. I’ve almost gotten there. I’ve had two 3-mile runs lately at a 10:03 pace.

My last two runs were real confidence boosters. Faster paces for longer distances. win/win.

After monday’s run I decided this would probably be the week I’d break that 30 minute mark. I just have a feeling – which is good, since I really think this breaking the 30 minute mark issue is mostly mental. Even these close call runs I’m not finishing with my last ounce of strength – I’ve still got some juice left. So I really don’t see the reason not to hit my goal.

I plan to have a leg day tomorrow, so my goal run may have to wait till friday. But, I’ve promised myself that if I wake up with the real burn to hit that sub 30 mark, I’ll go for it. however, I’ve really been wanting a solid leg workout too.

Do you do your workouts by “feel” during the off season? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I find I often have a better workout if I get up knowing what the plan is. I like having a route planned.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Baking Marathon

Generally, I’m not much into holiday baking. Not to say I don’t like holiday baked goods, I do. I’m just not usually the one baking. This year I decided to give it a whirl and I just spent my ENTIRE weekend baking scads of cookies.

My intent was to make an array of cookies and give them to co-workers for the holidays. I have 7 coworkers. I have 400 cookies. I hope they’re hungry.

I made 5 different kinds: Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Chocolate Crinkles (you can find all the recipes at

Literally, this took me all weekend. There was likely more flour on the counter and floor and my shirts than the bowls. I used EVERY SINGLE hand towel we own (we have an awful lot of hand towels, btw). I smashed up macadamia nuts with an empty wine bottle. I found dough in my hair on more than one occasion. My neck was apparently attacked by a chocolate vampire at one point in time. And, to top it off, I managed to stab myself in the upper leg/vagina area with a knife while trying to chop white chocolate – no blood thanks to my chain-mail-esque jeans.

So, I’m not betty crocker. I only burned one batch! AND, AND… the kitchen is clean!

I did some running, and I did a shit load of baking.

That’s my weekend. I’m going to throw all those towels in the wash, and go the heck to sleep.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Shift


So here I am again, after not having posted in like 2 weeks. Oh I’m back! yes, you’ve all heard that before. But please, let me explain.

The last few weeks – well months, 8 months to be exact – have been increasingly rough over here. Stress was mounting, and after my last race everything really went to hell. Here’s the deal. In April I got laid off, then just before my official last day, I was offered my job back. Then every few months there was some sort of event that could possibly lead to me being laid off again. The last of which was a 12/31 deadline, end of the program contract. While it was never much of a concern if we would get a new contract, there was a concern as to whether or not it would include the budget lines for my coworker’s and my jobs. It is possible that much of the stress and worry was manufactured internally (by both her and I), but we’d been burned before – when we were all least expecting it.

Yesterday afternoon we got news that everything’s going to be fine. Program’s a go, at current spending levels. boom. I cannot even begin to describe the weight that’s been lifted. Even so much so that I didn’t terribly mind having to stay an hour and a half late, on a Friday, and getting locked in the stairwell (apparently they lock the doors at 530.)

So, back to the past few weeks. Things got really bad for me. There was little to no working out, a ton of eating shit, and nearly 0 sleeping. Recipe for disaster. I knew it was happening, but I was literally paralyzed by fear and worry. Sometimes despite all our best efforts, we can get swallowed up by negativity. Every time I got enough motivation and stamina to workout, I felt better, but replicating that on a regular basis just felt impossible.

After getting the work news yesterday afternoon, I called my dad to discuss christmas ideas for my mom. My dad’s an endorphin junkie, so I knew explaining to him how much I was looking forward to a carefree run today was going to be completely understood. I just wanted to run, and smile, and not worry about anything except the sweat dripping in my eyes.

I passed out by about 930 last night and slept like a baby for the first time in at least 3 weeks. I woke up at 530, without an alarm, ready to go. Due to the fact that I have approx 0 running gear for running in the dark (it’s on my christmas list), rather than wait till it was light out, I hopped in the car and opted for a treadmill run. One of the work outs I’ve been doing lately to kill TM monotony, is to cover the display with my sweatshirt and then bump up the pace every 2-4 songs. Today I pounded out an awesome, smiley, sweaty 5.5 miles with an average pace about 20 seconds/mile faster than my 10k PR in September. Granted, today I was on a TM with a 1% incline, and that 10k PR was on a seriously, seriously hilly course. But holy pace, batman. I felt freaking awesome. People were probably seriously weirded out by my redonk smile plastered on my face the whole time. But who cares? I got my mojo back, baby!

The other awesome part of my job situation being resolved is that I can finally start to put into action my 2012 race goals! That’s another post – one that won’t take me 2 weeks to write, I promise.

I’m off to bake a serious amount of cookies – to SHARE, don’t worry.


Happy running, folks!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

back at it!

Well I got back on the train today!

I didn't get in 6 full miles, but about 50 mins of cardio, mostly running. I'll take it. I should've run outside - then 6 miles would have been unavoidable. But, for some reason I'm not feeling the outside running these days - even with the unseasonably warm weather we've had here in the Northeast this weekend. I'm not sure what's up with that? (the weather or the non-desire to run outdoors).

I came home and got in a good core workout with some light upper body. On tuesday I am eligible for an additional discount on a phone and am planning on getting an iphone - mostly so i can have the 100pushups and related apps. haha. The problem is, I can't do a pushup. Like, not even one. I can do modified pushups. But, one solid normal pushup - uh, i'm not there yet. I'm working on it. Then i had a delicious refuel breakfast of 2 scrambled eggs, mushrooms and tomato, half a whole wheat english muffin, and a glass of v8. Feein' good!

The last few weeks have been sort of lax in the workout department. only 3-4 days of working out a week. Kind of lame. I have no real excuse other than not having a training plan to keep me on track. So my goal for this week is to workout every day. Even if it's a quick lifting session or just a half hour of cross training. Something physical

Now... if only i can get up off the couch to complete my cleaning goals for today. I want the apartment to be spick and span for when Q get's back! Her sister had her baby early this AM! yayay! Don't want the doting aunt to be stressed out by a unkempt apartment hahah. or maybe just a few more minutes of star wars....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Today was not so good

Today was a bad day. I didn't work out. I didn't do much of anything honestly. And I ate... a lot... of crap. Now I feel crappy. To make up for failling at life all day I just cleaned the crap out of the bathroom (no pun intended.) And now i'm doing laundry. At least I've redeemed something, right??

I've resolved to do 6 miles tomorrow and then a killer abs session. Maybe some at home yoga? Then finish cleaning my apartment and get some christmas stuff out! Then I'll begin the hunger games books, which was the plan for today. whoops.

I really hate wasted days. I feel like a loser. But tomorrow I can restart, recharge and give everything another go. right?

One lost day doesn't mean all hope is lost. I'm gonna get back on the train - after a good night's sleep.

Positive thinking folks. OH! maybe tomorrow would be a good day to start my inspiration board?! I think so.

Power on, people.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The lonely holiday chronicles

The holiday's are, positively, the most annoying time of life to be single and pushing 30. Not because I'm actually lonely, but because everyone else assumes that I am.

uh, this post is not about running.

My sole new year's resolution for 2011 was to NOT date, for a whole year. I started out thinking this was a fantastic idea. Five weeks left in the year, it's an even more fantastic-er (yes, that's a word) idea. However, at this time of year I find myself constantly having to justify my choice to family, friends, and exceptionally rude and inappropriate barely-co workers who find it necessary to discover "what's wrong with me."

Not dating at 29 is the opposite of what most people set as a goal for themselves at this age, I realize that. However, for a myriad of reasons that are none of the internet's business, this was a positively perfect choice for me. Zero regrets. My reasons for remaining single are purely selfish, I'll openly admit it. I don't want to accommodate anyone else's needs. period. I've been doing that for years and not getting back what I've put in, so screw you relationships. If I want to be happy, it turns out, I'm the one who has to put the effort IN TO ME.

I find it very unlikely that I would've found the time or energy to devote to running and training and completing 2 half marathons if I'd been in a relationship. Those races are the highlights of my adult life thus far. Seriously amazing accomplishments, that I did, all by myself (with the support of loved ones and cherished friends, of course :) - see I can bring it back to running.

But really, this post is a rant. I don't want to meet your single friend. I don't want to talk about how I'm getting old and babies and shit. In fact, I don't even want to hold your baby or rub your tummy. What I want is for you to accept that this is the life that's making me happy and that, at the same time, I can be genuinely happy for you and your new/old marriage, and kid (as long as you don't talk about it CONSTANTLY). This is me. I run, I work, I have a cat, and I sleep alone, and I like it. So please, for this holiday season - stop asking me about my singledom. You put it off like there's something wrong with me, but likely you're probably just jealous that I don't have to justify doing what I want when I want to anyone else.

Happy Holidays, suckas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkeys! and Running Mantras

First of all, let me say, I absolutely love that someone found my blog by searching "I lift turkeys up and put them down." I don't know why my blog was found with this phrase, but it is hilarious in and of itself, and also that someone googled it to begin with.

Blogging has been slow this off season. Not a whole lot is happening. I'm trying to maintain a balance of keeping up my endurance/running mileage, but still get in a lot of beneficial weightlifting. Lifting has resulted in some quick weight loss, as I knew it would. I've been making a mostly conscious effort to eat better (as much as I can during the holidays) and I don't dick around with lifting. I actually had a nearly puke-worthy SHOULDER workout the other day.

Running is mental, we all know that. But really, any physical activity has a mental component. For whatever reason, despite two half marathons and a year of running training, I still feel I've a better handle on the mental aspect of lifting. Perhaps my "just one more" mantra is better suited for a rep, than a mile (a few seconds vs ten minutes - I can see why that's failing).

I need a new running mantra, when I'm really close to then end it's (strangely) a bit easier to tell myself "you've already done 45 minutes, so you know you can do 5 minutes, and that's all you have left." However, if I'm out for an hour run, and a half hour in I'm struggling, THAT's when I need a new mantra. "half way there, baby." Is more like "I wanna kill you if you say that again, bitch" some days.

What are your running mantras? What gets you through the workouts that are tough from the get-go?

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm NOT Running a Turkey Trot This Year

Nope. Not gonna do it. I ran a 10K turkey trot last year and honestly, it sucked, and not just because my ITB flared up like two seconds in. The organization of the race was not that great, there were ZERO mile markers, and virtually no spectators, less the hunters out in the woods wondering wtf was wrong with all these people, running about, screwing up their gaming.

Also, this year I'm going to cook! yay! I'm excited to play a bigger role in cooking the family meal, lounge about with my sister as she reflects on her first semester at college, and continue to try to talk my brother into moving out of my parents' house. haha.

I'm done racing for this year, and I'm ok with that. After the half in October I toyed with the idea of signing up for something small and local, but I have decided against it. Instead I've been analyzing - perhaps poorly - my performance of the year. I'm still stinging with a bit of bitterness from not having performed as well as I wanted to at my last half. So, my analysis has been skewed slightly based on that. I'm trying to distance myself from those negative feelings and take a hard look at what I've accomplished this year, and where I want to go with this.

In terms of good things and progress this year, I ran two half marathons - the first was something I'd never done before so yes, that is awesome.

Additionally, I PR'd every race I ran this year. Some were auto PRs because they were new distances for me. But I ran 3 10ks and 2 halfs - better every time. Can't complain there!

Next year I have some big goals coming - it's also the year of my 30th birthday, which plays into some of my goal setting. I'm going to reserve my goal plans for a different post - probably a few weeks down the line. I need some more time to really think about what I want, and framing goals in a realistic fashion. (last year I said I wanted to run 1000 miles in 2011. Clearly, I had no idea what I was talking about, I was not a runner when I set that goal, nor did I know what running 20 miles a week would feel like -repeatedly. Read: exhausted) ... 2012 might be a different story, though ;)

I also need to spend some time doing more research, and finding more valuable ways to evaluate myself. I need to research training plans, and tactics. Determine the best ways to make the kind of progress I want to make. If anyone has awesome blog posts on training for multiple distance races in a year, or training tips, or books on running they would like to recommend I would be more than appreciative!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Long Run for Fun

I'd often wondered how my running would play out after my race season had concluded. I had big aspirations that I would keep up my mileage base (15-20miles a week) during the winter months and kick ass. But, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't burnt out after my last race in mid-October.

To save myself from returning to being lazy and inactive, I decided to switch up my workouts, with more of a focus on weight-lifting, and running for feel and fun. And it's worked.

Weight lifting is awesome. Period. I feel so bad ass adding weight onto the bar and crushing it! RAWR. But, to be honest, I still really really really like to run. I've been experimenting with some new treadmill techniques. I don't own very much in the way of reflective gear, so early morning runs while it's still dark out aren't something I can do everyday. Treadmill it is. I've gone simple. I cover the display so I'm not just sitting there watching the numbers tick. slowly. by.  It's working! I simply run, and pay attention to my music, every 3rd song or so, I bump up the pace. I'm pleased with this take. The only downside is I'm probably going to need a lot more variety in my running music in order to keep my attention.

The big sticking point for me during the off-season is maintaining a long run. So many times I think to myself "why would I spend all sunday morning running if I didn't have to?" Well the answer to that, dear runners, is because I now WANT to, I NEED to! YES! I'm a runner. "I don't want it. I just need it. To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive." ~Tool, Stinkfist. Pretty much sums it up right there :)

So, this past Sunday I set out with some fuel and a water bottle for 8 comfortable miles. The best part about non-training long runs is that I'm not constantly worried about my pace. I'm not stressing if I have to stop to eat these incredibly difficult to chew power bar gel/chew thingys I bought (they were the only type of on-the-go fuel at my ghetto Price Chopper). I also didn't plan my route. I just went out and ran until I got to 8 miles (that took some creative neighborhood weaving as I got closer to home, haha). The only downside to that approach was I apparently had hill-amnesia, and picked a seriously difficult route.

I also didn't take any caffeine before this run. I usually pop a caffeine tab before any decent workout. And usually, my gu (which is my usual fuel) has some caffeine in it. I'm also likely to have tea or coffee after a long run. Well, Sunday I did zero of those things. Add in daylight savings (though I'm not sure that really had much to do with it) and I fell asleep for an hour or so after my shower, and was seriously fighting to stay awake past 7pm. I fell asleep for real at about 915. Uh, am I a 20-something or a 70-something? haha. Monday ended up being a rest day too because I just could not wake up! It was well deserved sleep, though! I ran 22 miles last week - just cuz! That is close to my peak week mileages during training! It's nice that I can just casually run 20+ miles a week even when not training (assuming I have no social life and can go to bed at 9pm every night, haha).

Today I did a legs workout and it was awesome. My mentality with legs workouts is similar to speed days. Go big or go home. Push it. Leg days are my favorite lifting days! I'm not entirely committed to adding cardio on to leg lifting days, because after a seriously hard workout, doing cardio could be a disaster. But today I had time to pump out a mile and a half on the t-mill after my lifting session. My legs felt great!

Let's see what I have to say about that tomorrow...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

inspired, uninspired, reinspired

i've very clearly been avoiding my blog for about two months (maybe more). Some of it was due to work related stress and a non-desire to be on the computer or think.

Some of it was because i've been trying to work a few things out in my head before posting all my nonsense on the interwebs.

Some of it was jealousy.

I had blog runner envy. I follow a LOT  of blogs of really really awesome runners. I was training for my second half. While my training went quiet awesome this cycle, the spark of something "new" and breaking barriers wasn't there this time like it was for my first cycle. Add work/life stress on top of that, and a lot of runs (even if they were awesome) felt forced and chore-like. I reminded myself that I had been training pretty much since February, after spending nearly 3 decades doing a whole lot of nothing. So mental (if not phsycial) burnout was to be expected.

The first training cycle, I'd read the blogs of other awesome runners and be inspired. Now I was just getting jealous. everyone else was blogging about getting faster, and breaking mental walls, and happy runs and I was miserable inside my head. So, I hopped off blogger. Twitter updates was enough, and worked well enough. I even stopped reading many of my favorite blogs. Not all, but many. It was nothing to do with the bloggers themselves. It was my own issue, of frustration, unwarranted jealousy/envy etc.

I have read a MILLION times, literally, not to compare yourself to other runners. Run your own race. You're not them, blah blah. But I had a really hard time doing this. Especially when my real life runner friends were getting super fast, and I felt I was stagnating. I am, without a doubt, my own worst enemy. I am like this in every facet of my life. One time, in high school - freshman year - you know, SEVENTEEN years ago, I said something to a friend that came out all wrong. I did not mean for it to sound as mean as it did, I was trying to be funny. I still beat myself up about it. We didn't even have an argument about it. In fact, I know she knew I was joking when I said it and STILL I feel guilty about it.

Seriously, Jen? wtf?

So, I distenced myself from blogger and spent more time focusing on ME, MY running and MY training. And I am starting to snap out of it. I'm comparing my paces/distances to a year ago and seeing (obviously) giant improvements. I've come a long way. I'm making goals for next year. After tomorrow's "long-run-for-fun" I will have topped 20 miles for this week and I'm not even training. that's awesome. AWESOME. And certainly not something I could've done last year.

I've started reading blogs again, and I'm getting back into the flow of commenting.

I'd like to send a big thanks out to a bunch of women I've never met for keep up with awesome blog posts and tweets and that they, completely unaware, have contributed to my re-inspiration - for running, writing, goal setting and ass-kicking.








Thursday, October 27, 2011

I pick things up and put them down

This week I’ve been working on getting back into lifting. I totally forgot how badass I feel after a good heavy lifting session. I am all excited about this now, but tomorrow morning when I can’t get out of bed due to over doing it on legs today will probably suck, major.

I have a real hard time going easy on leg day. Legs are powerful! Legs are important! Legs need to run faster, stronger, better!!! yea…. totally not going to be able to walk in the AM. Already my calves and glutes hurt so good.

I’m really hoping to make some serious progress this winter so that I can be even speedier next year. I have big aspirations. My mother asked me for christmas gift ideas – they will pretty much all be running themed! I can’t help myself (or afford these things myself, haha).

We had our first snow today here in Albany. I really didn’t expect it to snow here. The weather was predicting snow in the area, but we aren’t in that high of an elevation, so I anticipated just cold cold rain. But, after an all day training session in a window-less room at work, we emerged to the beginnings of accumulation. Luckily, I have three decent long sleeved running shirts. I’ll be breaking one out for a long-ish run on Saturday (assuming, of course, my DOMS isn’t so horrible as to last two days – entirely possible).


Random inspiration time! If you didn’t see on fb or twitter, here’s the link to an article featuring my great Aunt Marathon Mary!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Half Marathon #2 Race and Training Reflections

Yes, I realize it’s been nearly a week and a half since this race. I had to take some time to really digest everything.

How’d the race go? Overall, it went pretty well. However, I walked away kind of disappointed, and that feeling is still sort of lingering.

I started the race with Sara. It was good to start the race with her, and realize I wasn’t the only one nervous! We chatted about how nice the morning had turned out, other races, nervous stomachs. Shortly after the race started she peeled out, she was hoping for a sub 2 (and nearly made it!!!), while I was aiming for sub 2:30.

I started out way too fast. There were not a TON of half marathoners, so starting too close to the front was way too easy. Despite my constant attempts to slow down I hit the first two miles well below 11 min/miles (I was aiming for a pace of 11:12). Anyway, I pretty much felt great. My dad chose a few awesome spots in the park so I got to see him 4 times and then he and my mom were both at the finish. I was buzzing right along feeling fine.

Now, you may remember that the two weeks prior to the race I was having a lot of right leg/ITB pain. I’d taken some extra rest during taper, and spent a lot of time focusing on foam rolling, stretching, and heating that leg in the days prior. Race day morning it felt totally normal!

Then… dun dun dun… at about mile 4ish my left hip cramped up! I was SO angry. My left hip/ITB has been a problem for years – with the real ITB issue flaring each time I started to try out running. However, this training cycle, unlike my first, I’d had absolutely NO left hip pain at all. Quite amazing really. So for it to flare up, out of nowhere, DURING THE RACE, was extremely frustrating. I stopped several times to stretch it out, but the pain was pretty bad and resulted in some compensating in my stride. This flared up some old random toe tendonitis in my right foot (what a lame injury), and some left Achilles pain – which was a bit nerve-wracking, because that is not an injury that I want.

Anyway, as I’m sure you suspect, the pain did slow me down, so I didn’t get my A goal – 2:26:34, and I just missed my B goal of sub 2:30. My ending time was 2:30:12. At the time I was really bummed. But, I soon got over it (mostly). I had shaved 6.5 minutes off my half marathon time in 4 months. Additionally, I’d just run 2 half marathons within 13 months of “becoming a runner.”

After I got over my initial disappointment with my time, and recognized what I’ve accomplished I tried to give myself some time to reflect on my training cycle.

This time around I increased my volume a fair amount. During my first training cycle I had maybe 2 weeks of 20+ miles. This time around, I hit 20 miles/week within week 3 of the training plan and stayed steady/and built on that slowly. Overall, I think I held up well with the higher mileage. There are still lessons to be learned:

  • I need to put more emphasis on core, strength, and cross training. This shouldn’t be hard since these things got virtually no attention this time around.
  • More time needs to be spent recovering properly. I skimped on stretching after workouts on the regular this cycle. I also didn’t foam roll as much as I should have, and when I did it was reactive. Paying attention to the recovery of both legs equally is important, even if one isn’t “hurting.”
  • Diet: this needs a lot of work – it’s a certain focus of the off season.
  • This wasn’t really a set back. My initial reflections on my performance were that I’d failed, but I didn’t – I improved, I did a great job, I ran through the pain and pushed through to the end. And I learned some lessons, which will only make the next race better

I have big goals for next year – four half marathons, and to continue my quest to a sub 2 hour half marathon. The off season is strength building, weight loosing, and base building.


Bring it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Empire State Marathon and Half Race Review

Or alternatively titled: A Tale on How to Organize a Race.
On Oct 16, 2011 I ran the inaugural Empire State Half Marathon in Syracuse, NY. I PR’d my half marathon time by 6 and half minutes from my previous time set in June 2011, for a final finish time of 2:30:12 – just shy of my B goal from my previous post.
I’m going to start by reviewing the race itself- my personal performance and reflections on this race and training cycle will be reserved for a separate post.
For the first year of this race I was totally impressed with how well the whole thing went. Even if it had been the 50th year of this race the whole experience was just so superbly put together.  Registration was a breeze, the medals are super nice, the atmosphere was great, their facebook presence and emails were super personal. Just wonderful overall.
They had a weekend-long expo that had approximately 20 vendors there. This was super exciting to me because none of the other races I’ve been to had a “real” expo! They also had lecturers at the expo and the pasta dinner (which I didn’t go to). But seriously, pulling all that together on the first year of a race? awesome. The bib pickup was perfectly painless, the tees were long-sleeved TECH shirts! Awesome. They also had cotton tees for sale. And goodie bags full of fun stuff!!
Race day: The marathon started a half hour before the half. I got there early enough to see the marathoners (and marathon relayers) take off. I stood around with my dad, absorbing the race day atmosphere. I heard the bathrooms were super nice, though I didn’t use them (I should have.) I ran into Sara just before the start so we were able to start off together. The weather was perfect! sunny, cool, and no wind! There had been a wind advisory until 7pm the night before, so we were worried about the wind along the lake course – but no worries!
The course was super super flat. The water stops were decently planned out, and manned. There were a LOT of portapotties along the half marathon course – always room to stop (why didn’t I? I had to pee the whole race). They handed out water, some sort of gatorade or vitamin water, and gels at most of the water stops.
One of the most awesome things about finishing this race (besides the fab medals) was the sponsorship they secured with byrne dairy – bottles of chocolate milk right after the finish line! There was tons of food and water at the finish too. A real celebratory atmosphere at the finish!
There were a few things I did not like about the race:
1. A general pet peeve: the  course was long by .2 miles. In this day in age of garmins etc, I just don’t understand courses that are measured long. But that’s more just me – I’m sure there’s a good reason for it.(**Update: This first complaint was written before I came to the realization that wrist Garmin's aren't freaking magical. They work on tangents, not perfection. The course is certified, its exactly a half marathon. My apologies for being a run-douche).
2. The first water stop was just after mile 1. That was too soon (though it was well placed for the way back), but the next water stop wasn’t until just after mile 4. That’s too far. I skipped the first water stop because I didn’t need water a mile in. But my mile 4 I was in real need – that giant gap also sucked on the way back.
3. The turn around. The turn around for the half marathon veered off of the paved path in Onondaga Lake Park to an unpaved path – this in itself is fine. However, it was very narrow and very congested. You couldn’t pass anyone without running into “oncoming traffic.” Granted, this wasn’t a very long stretch of the course, but it was a bit irritating.
4. Miles 9-13. Not just because they were miles 9-13, but there were virtually NO spectators. when you’re coming down the parkway, and the bridge just isn’t getting any closer some spectators would help in curbing the creeping fear that you’re certifiably insane for doing this to yourself. This could easily be solved by putting in another water stop somewhere in there. Two birds, one stone.
That’s really it. The finish line volunteers were fantastic. I am one of those people who is incapable of making basic decisions (besides finding water) after running a half marathon, so when some volunteer swooped out of no where to “crown me” (hehe) with my medal I was most appreciative. In the park, for the most part, there were tons of spectators and it was awesome. I was really truly impressed with how well this race came together, especially considering they got a turn out of about 2500 runners in their first year! Spectacular race, and a spectacular running community.
Way to go Empire State Marathon and Half!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Race Goals

This Sunday I'm running the inaugural Empire State Marathon - well I'm running the half. This will be my second half marathon this year/ever.

It's pretty crazy to think that 13 months ago was my first organized race ever in life. I've attended a bunch of Dad's races, but never really run one of my own. Thirteen months: one 5K, four 10Ks, one 5miler, and 2 half marathons. Damn.

I'm fully prepared to PR this half marathon. I've only run one before ever, and that course was SUPER hilly (Lake Placid), and this is super flat (Syracuse NY, well... mostly Liverpool NY - go 'pool!)

I'm excited to run at home again - part of this race course will be along the same lake side path that I ran my very first 5k ever. And my dad will be there, and know everyone involved (of course), and be able to tell everyone that he's passed the running torch to me. Now that I saw Marlene did the Syr 70.3 as a relay, I'm gonna have to get my dad swimming so we can do that next year! 

Ok, so race goals. Lake Placid Half Marathon time/first half marathon/instant PR = 2:36:43

As always, I'm hoping to finish the race, upright and smiling. So that's a baseline goal. I really don't feel it's possible, barring disaster, for me to *not* beat this time. I know it sounds a bit arrogant, but I'm in much better shape, my training was more intense and structured, I've noticed tons of improvement this summer, and all my long runs indicate I can beat this.

Goal C: PR - 2:35:xx

Goal B: 2:30 or better.

Goal A: Now here's the kicker: 2:26:34. Based on my most recent 10k PR -Sept 25, 2011 - Brock Trot (also super hilly)- McMillan running calculator thinks I should be able to run a half marathon in this time. I think it's doable. My last long run was 2:17 and change for 12 miles. This is a super duper flat fast course. Out and back, 6.55 miles each way which is helping with my mental game. 6.55 miles can be run on a Tuesday before work.

What do you think, folks. Can I knock 10 minutes of my half marathon time?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Well That's Over.

In my last post I was burnt out. I had some leg pain, which still persists. And I was anxious to get this race over with so I could mentally rejuvenate.

The race is this Sunday 10/16, and I am no longer "burnt out". I've got a fire. I want to, and will PR the sh*t out of this race. I'm sick of this stupid leg issue. It's not horrible, but it's annoying. Things are tight and strange. I'll make sure to warm up well and do some yoga pre-race sunday. I've had to really back off the last few weeks so as to not make it worse, which I think is where this "fire" is coming from (that itch that comes from a lack of running). But also....

I've been inspired. I watched the Ironman Kona finishers cross the line and it was seriously unreal. I read Ryan Hall finished Chicago in 2:08 - not his best, yet he was still pleased. He seriously has the best attitude ever. I spectated Natalie's second marathon and watched her PUSH through a nagging calf issue that's been bothering her lately (and reared it's ugly head a mere 10K into the marathon). The day got hot, fast. But she finished strong! My great aunt ran this year's Twin Cities in 4:29:xx. She's 65, one of THREE women to have run all 30 Twin Cities Marathons. And it also happened to be her 175 marathon ever. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIFTH!!!! She started running at 35. That's 5.8 marathons a year. un-freaking-believable.

If you aren't inspired by that, I think you're a robot. I saw this tweet the other day from @McMillanRunning: "Fitness is built over time. Period. It can't be wished for or rushed. Patience grasshopper. Build toward the future." It made me think of my dad who is always harping on the importance of patience (and was a seriously, seriously bad ass runner in his heyday, and is now working on being a ridiculously awesome cyclist). But, what I really got out of this was that I'm just at the beginning. If fitness is built over time, I am good to go down the line. I've only got a year of "being a runner" under my belt - maybe big things will happen for me too - watch out, Ryan Hall.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Burnt Out

I am burnt out folks. Ugh. I’ve been half marathon training pretty much since Feb of this year. A little over a year ago I hadn’t done a single truly athletic thing in my whole life. Training is starting to drag on, it’s feeling chore-like. And, physically, my body hurts. I know it’s supposed to. But, I’m pretty sure something is wrong with my right leg. At first I thought it was an IT band issue, but this feels very different. I’m trying to take it easy, but mostly I’m trying to ignore it. Bad choice? probably, but the race is 8 days away. then I can relax

I’ve rested a LOT this week. In fact, I’ve only run twice. Monday I think I’m just going to cross train and try to loosen up the leg. fingers crossed.

I’m still excited about my half. I’m also excited for it to be over, but I’m also excited to run it. According to McMillan, based on my most recent 10K PR, I should be able to shave about 10 minutes off my Lake Placid Half Marathon time. I’d be happy enough with six minutes off – both goals are totally attainable, I think.

Tomorrow should be a fun day – Natalie is racing her second marathon, and I’ll be spectating my first! she’s going to do awesome! It’s a nice, flat, fast course running from schenetady to albany. I know she’s gonna rock. It’ll be a huge PR for her anyway you look at it. GO NAT!!!

I’ve asked a friend to help me develop a strength training routine for the winter months. Shaving some pounds and building some muscle should help to rock a bunch of races next year!

In the mean time, I’m gonna take it easy and hope this leg pain goes away. Good luck to all of you racing this weekend!! Run hard, run fast, run strong! Smile

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Accidental 10K PR

Yesterday I ran the Brock Trot 10k in Lenox, MA. This is my second year running this race and I really like it. It's a beautiful course, it's a small race, and everything is very well organized. Plus, this year they gave out tech shirts, at a 10K that was... I don't remember like $35? After there's a whole bunch of food, and massages this year too! Also, it's timed by the the Albany Running Exchange. And they are quite speedy in getting out the results list. Including the kids mile run, there were probably like 500-ish participants overall. But in the 10 and 5k I'd guesstimate there were only like 200-300 people. I like small races.

Last year Nat and I ran this race as our first 10k, our second race ever, and the longest distance either of us had raced. We were monumentally unprepared for how hilly the course was, and though we both finished with respectable times, we were certain to come back this year more prepared. Do not get me wrong, this is a tough 6.2 miles. Mostly rolling hills, there are some pretty decent climbs during miles 2 and 6.

I went into this race not really looking to PR the distance - my A race for the fall is the upcoming Empire State Half Marathon on Oct 16 (which I am looking to PR the crap out of). But I knew I could run this course faster, in fact, much faster than last year's 1:12:XX. I was aiming for under 1:10 with the hills, and my PR was an early spring 10k with far fewer hills at 1:06 flat. I flew threw the first mile, kind of on accident, but it felt really easy, so I went with it (this is a race after all). Then the hills started and I slowed to a more regular sort of pace. By the 5K mark I knew I was on pace for a PR. It snuck into my mind, but I didn't want to get my hopes up because, seriously it wasn't my goal for this race. I also forgot about that long, slow climb toward the end which really got to me. However, the last quarter of a mile has these two short little jerks of hills. Once you pass over the top of the second the finish is right there.

I was avoiding looking at my garmin at this point because I really just wanted to finish strong. However, once the finish line clock was in view, it said 1:05 and change, and I had maybe 100 meters left to go, maybe. At that point I shouted to Nat, " I'm gonna PR!!!" probably not the best use of my energy at that point, but I couldn't believe it. I sprinted to the finish as fast as my tired legs would carry me and came in with 8 seconds to spare! 1:05:52 is the new time to beat!

I was really quite shocked, and pleased, and now very sore. Imagine what I could have done if I was actually planning to PR that race? Sick. :)

I really enjoy the 10k distance; it's the distance I've run the most (four10ks under my belt now). I really got a nice confidence boost for the upcoming half. Bring it on!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Update on the Dairy-less Diet

I’d like to start out by stating that I’m pretty disappointed in how poorly written this blog is, generally. I was perusing through old posts today and realized I often just ramble on, sometimes with coherence, though not much. Diarys are for free flowing thoughts, but this is the internet. Other people read this thing. I should have a little more respect for my own education. So, I am going to try to pay a bit more attention to my writing style from here on out. No one is a perfect writer. There simply is no such thing. Writing, with all its rules, is more of an art than a science. However, my blog could use some cleaning up.

The Diet

The “diet” is more of an eating adjustment than any strict sort of plan. It was inspired by a paleo-eating friend, but I'm not claiming to be following any prescribed diet plan. I simply know that while I’m working out quite a bit, I’m not loosing any weight, though I’ve got plenty of pounds to spare. It follows that my problem lies within my eating habits, as opposed to being too sedentary.

I am trying to make efforts to eat more whole, unprocessed foods. However, the big change has come in cutting out dairy. It’s not gone completely. Chocolate still happens, so does butter on occasion, and once last week I did put cheese on my wrap (I bought it prior to this resolution and felt really guilty just throwing it away.)  However, with less dairy (cheese was the main contributor) I am also eating less “crap” overall. No cheese means no pizza, or lasagna etc. No cream cheese means I’ve laid off the bagel consumption, etc.

Why cut out dairy? Well, dairy is highly processed. Humans are the only animals to continue to consume milk after weaning, indicating that it’s probably not necessary. Additionally, cow’s milk is not human milk, the proteins are different - things just don’t match up. I’ve posted previously about how I’d pretty much given up on drinking milk as it makes my stomach upset. I’ve also noticed that a strange, undiagnosed stabbing stomach pain seems to occur more frequently with heavy dairy intake. Also, diary makes my mucus production skyrocket, which is SUPER annoying when running. The biggest reason, though, is that there are so many hormones added to dairy cows that are then ingested by humans.

**Sorry, gentlemen readers, this is about to get real “female”**

The hormones are the real problem here. I have a very wide ranging hormone reaction that accompanies my monthly cycle. Honestly, virtually all women experience some emotional reaction; however, I find my hormonal reaction to be more severe than most of the women I've talked to. It is very frustrating to be infuriated by nothing, know you’re being irrational, and not know what to do to make yourself feel better. I am able to keep the verbal outbursts to a minimum. But the anger. The anger is still there. I could eat a pint of ice cream, or go for a run, or drink a bottle of wine, or lift weights. That will help, temporarily. Then I’ll just be angry at the sun for rising again. It’s ridiculous, exhausting, and I’m sick of it. I’ve yet to find a doctor who can (or is willing to) help. So, I’ve taken to my own on this one.

I’ve all but cut out dairy to eliminate excess hormones. I’ve also started taking a supplement of Evening Primrose Oil (1300mg a day). EPO is high in omega 6 fatty acids. From what I’ve read, omega 6s are supposed to help regulate hormone fluctuations associated with PMS. I think it’s working. I don’t know if it’s the dairy, or the EPO, but this month I threatened to murder no one. I didn’t break out into a sobbing disaster. I was kind of grouchy, and tired, but being a woman (and all its joy) isn’t going to go away. I’ve also lost 3.5 lbs in two weeks.

Cutting back on dairy is a win. Less bloat, less pain, less stuffiness, less grumpiness. I’m not proclaiming to know it all here, but the first few weeks of this indicate that this trend is here to stay, for me at least. I’m sure there will be times where a slice of pizza is had, or ice cream sneaks into my freezer. However, overall this is a track I think I want to try to stay on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BadAss Before Breakfast

Let's backtrack a bit, since I didn't write about this week's long run yet.

Sunday was 11 miles. I remember last training cycle I struggled through my 10 miler, and slogged through my 10.5 miler, and on the day I ran 11 it was like breezing along. I finished with a smile on. Similarly, I finished Sunday's 11 miler feeling strong as well. I was actually quite impressed with myself, and much like last week, I kept telling myself to pull back the pace - this was supposed to be a LSD run, btw!

I run alone. But, I figure the pace is "conversational" if I can have a conversation, out loud, with myself. OR, sing along to the songs in my head or on my ipod. Usually i run long with music, just because it's a long time. However I only did half of this run with music due to low ipod battery. No biggie.

When I got home I did some comparing. It turns out that this 11 miler was on average 43 seconds a mile faster than my 11 mile training run in May; 9 seconds a mile faster than my 10 miler last week, and 35 seconds a mile faster than my half marathon in June. WHOA! and still, it felt "easy" as far as pace, effort, etc keeping in mind it was an 11 mile run. So, I am so stoked for that. This means I'm going to PR the living daylights out of this race. :)

On to today's run. This run almost didn't happen this morning. I was kind of excited to run in the morning, outside, because I bought this new wicked neon yellow shirt to wear for the dark morning runs. So, I get up and get dressed and go pee and realize I never plugged in (or turned off) my garmin after my long run on Sunday, or my ipod. So both are dead. Ipod is not really a deal breaker, because I often do shorter outside runs sans music. However, if the garmin is dead then I can run with the ipod's stopwatch figure to get an idea on pace. I almost didn't go. I told myself I can put the run off until the afternoon. Then I thought "this is dumb, just go run and enjoy yourself." OK! So I tied up my shoes and put my water bottle in the fridge and opened the door to run 5 miles.... and it was raining. I almost didn't go again. "Really, Jen, there's no shame in running in the afternoon." Then, I just walked down the stairs and started running. It was raining pretty hard by the time I finished. But, man, oh man was that a good run. I was trucking, and I knew it - especially at the end, when I really just wanted to be dry. I didn't stop to walk, I didn't feel like dying during the hills, I wasn't obsessing about how much further I had to go or how fast I was running. I just ran, in the rain, mostly smiling (though, it's hard to smile when rain drops are landing in your eyeballs).

I used when I got home to figure out how far i'd gone. 5.2 miles - yay, further than I expected! I checked the clock on the stove when I walked out the door, and when I walked back in. 54 minutes - including indecision time standing on the steps faced with rain, and a short walk after finishing to "cool down". Now folks, that is faster than my race pace when I ran a 5 miler back in March. Easy, breezy, beautiful! I felt really awesome. I'm so glad I did that run - in the dark, in the rain, with no pressure from "gadgets."

There's nothing quite like running in the rain to make you feel badass!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Too Many Variables

This week’s long run was AH-mazing. This is great news for several reasons. 1. In my last training cycle I did my first double digit long run. It was terrible. I bonked, hated life, doubted myself yadda yadda. It totally sucked. So coming into this run, I was already wary. 2. I’ve been stressed to the max, running has felt more like a chore, and I’ve been sleeping like crap (ok, maybe that’s three things). 3. Every single run I had last week ranged between suck-ass and disappointing.

However, I ran for just less than 2 hours (yay!) on Sunday in pretty much a constant state of disbelief. I couldn’t believe how the miles were ticking by, I couldn’t believe how strong I felt. I couldn’t believe how effortless the pace was feeling. Total confidence booster.

So of course, after the run I tried to decide what I had done to make everything fall in place. The more I thought, the more I realized – there were a LOT of variables this time around.

  • I significantly cut back the amount of dairy I consumed last week to near 0 – less bloaty and less snotty ftw!
  • After sleeping like crap for 2 weeks I got two solid 8-9 hour nights of sleep friday and saturday night.
  • I also had some pasta with my world-famous tomato sauce, both of those nights, spreading out my carbo-load, but not over doing it.
  • I drank nuun every day last week, and I also had 16oz BEFORE I ran on sunday.
  • I had my usual pre-long run breakfast of a cliff bar (one constant).
  • I took a caffeine pill (not entirely constant, but not that unusual either).
  • I amped myself up mentally. I spent a good lot of time on Saturday visualizing my route, pep talking myself. Probably the biggest contributing factor that I could control.
  • Additionally, it was 60F, overcast, with a really comfortable breeze. Pretty much perfect running weather.
  • I also made this course 2 loops of about 5 miles each instead of my usual one giant loop. Swinging back by home to refill my handheld (which was barely necessary) and grab a bag of sport beans helped, physically and mentally.

I don’t know which of these things is to “blame” for my awesomeness on Sunday, but I will freaking take it! My high from the running persisted throughout the day and instead of doing my usual post long run entitlement-day-of-eating-crap, I made good choices – including runners rambles’ quinoa salad – OMG delicious. And today, I was not one bit sore. Last week was my highest mileage week e.v.e.r. And I am flying high and looking forward to pumping out a quick 5 miles before work tomorrow.

Now I’m really getting pumped for my half – oh! and the 10k I’m running in 2 weeks. The course was the first 10k I ever ran (just last year, crazy!) Nat and I were seriously unprepared for the hills on this route so I’m ready to kick some ass!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mental Preparation

For some reason every run so far this week has been on the treadmill. What gives? With the exception of some rain, its been a nice week – temperature-wise. I’m not really sure why that happened.

I’m hoping that looking forward to running outside will help in prepping for tomorrow’s long run.

10 miles.

This is my first double digit run since my half in June.

10 miles is a bit of a stumbling block for me. My first 10 mile run the last training cycle I bonked. It really got me down in the self confidence department. I also haven’t been in quite as good a mental state this training cycle. I’m not 100% sure its really running related.

I’m a bit discouraged that I haven’t been improving as much as I’d liked. But I’ve also got a lot of junk going on in the non-running part of life, so I think that’s playing in overall.

But I’ve been visualizing my run tomorrow. Running strong the whole time. I know I can run 10 miles. I’ve run 10 or more miles multiple times before by now. So I know I can. I just really want it to go well.

What makes me feeling particularly optimistic is the weather – mid 50s. SO much better than last sunday’s mid 70s with 800% humidity. Like running in a pool. yuck.


Anyone racing tomorrow? Good luck!!! :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

When I was 15: hanging on to my idealism (or what I thought about on last week’s long run)

Warning: this post has 0 to do with running, and everything to do with the fact that right now this is the only blog I have.

When I was 15 I went to see Titanic in the theaters along with everyone else that was 15 in the year it came out. It was a “couples” date,  (oh High School!)

Titanic was all this leo and kate love fest, nekkid on the boat, falling in love, flying on top of the world, clinging dramatically to a piece of driftwood emotion-fest… for everyone else.

To me, it was very different. I cried at all the sad parts during the movie. I was slightly despondent after word which was probably 0 surprise to my friends since I was super introvert.

I got home, and naturally, my mother asked me how the movie was as she washed her face at the bathroom sink and I stood by.

I don’t remember all the details exactly, but I burst into hysterics. I HATED the movie. I was literally beside myself. I’d read about the Titanic, I’d seen history channel and discovery channel shows about it. I got the basic gist, the facts. What the movie brought home, which is exactly what movies are supposed to, was the reality of the situation.

They locked the poor people in the lower levels to drown and die. They didn’t even have a chance. I didn’t give two flying shits if Leo the poor son of a whatever made it out to wish his rich girlfriend some fake Hollywood goodbye. All I could think about was the injustice, the inhumanity, the cruelty, the selfishness. WHAT DID INCOME HAVE TO DO WITH MAKING IT OFF A SINKING SHIP???

I’m no mother theresa, giving up all my time to help the less fortunate. but WTF?! I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed about the horribleness of that situation. people were left to drown, with no choice, simply because of HOW MUCH THEY PAID FOR THEIR TICKET.

To this day, my mother hasn’t watched that movie because of my reaction. My reaction wasn’t a reflection of the quality of the movie, or the love story or whatever it is that makes tnt and tbs play it every damn second. I’m sure all of that was great. But that movie marks the first time I had to confront my idealism, my naiveté – and that my mother had to confront it as well (I’m the oldest).

It shaped my life, my outlook. I went on to study politics and policy. And now I work, tangentially, for the State of NY. I thought I was jaded by politics and infighting and sound bites. I may hate, with every ounce of my being, campaigning, but in all honestly, it was the horror of the reality of the super cheesy movie, Titanic, that keeps me hoping for a better world, a better US, a better NYS. A place where people care more about PEOPLE than they do about themselves. Where people are truly tolerant. Where people realize that even though we don’t have the same religious beliefs, that we have the same morals. Where people don’t lump others into groups and hate and fear what they perceive those groups to mean.


People care. They have to. I have to believe that.


Corny? maybe, but love one another…

“Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. no hell below us. above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today. Imagine there’s no country. it isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. No religion too. Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer. but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us and the world will be as one.” ~Lennon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Yesterday

In yesterday's post I came clean on my shitty eating choices. As I stuffed my face with post-long-run-entitlement food (aka, not the healthiest choices), I realized that I wrote down those words and the only person i'm really disappointing if I don't make a move on them is myself. Time to commit to some changes.

I've found during my "soul searching" 20s that I don't always know who I am - so to speak - but I know who I'm not. I've never been (until about 23/24 years old) a person who obsessed about my weight. It wasn't really an issue, it didn't have to be. I wasn't super skinny, but I made it through high school and college around a size 6-8 and I was cool with that. It wasn't until after college that it started to catch up with me, and it was more about having to buy new (bigger) clothes than any thing else (hey, i'm broke!)

In a struggle to deal with changing lifestyles, slowing metabolism, and well, putting on some pounds I've found that I am just simply NOT someone who can obsess about weight - not in any healthy manner. The more I think about the "number" the more I negatively reinforce my bad attitude about how i got there in the first place. Self defeating.

I cannot "obsess" about food and weight and be healthy /happy. With that being said, I am not a calorie counter. I, personally, think it's strange. do people really start calorie counting one day and then do it for the rest of the time they're alive? that seems ridiculous. I can think of way more important things to spend my time obsessing about thank if there's more calories in this yogurt or that cheese stick.

Plus, my goal is to be sustainably healthy, not "skinny" not a "number" on the scale, or on the tag of a pair of jeans, for that matter. There's much much more to healthy eating than how many calories you're consuming day to day. My theory is that if I workout, and maintain an overall healthy diet, good choices, and whole foods, unnecessary weight should go away on its own, right? Obsessing about weight will just make me fatter and less healthy, the past half decade is proof of that.

I don't want to have an unhealthy relationship with food. I don't want to hate it. I certainly do not want to stress about it. Those that know me know that I am a super stressed out person all the time. I obsess about the most ridiculous things and I can't begin to think what will happen to me, and my health, if I allow myself to become that stressed out over life sustenance. I loose sleep over work, money, career choices, the weather, how i'll cope with my cat dying someday (ps, she's FOUR), anything really. Food has often been used as a crutch in stressful situations. however, I'd like to turn it into something healthier than a crutch. Maybe... a vault. Instead of leaning on "comfort foods" when stressed, maybe healthy eating can allow me to use healthy options to vault myself over/through/past the stressful times. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I've decided to cut out dairy this week and see how that helps/changes things. This post was supposed to be about that decision and why, but apparently i'll get to that another time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Getting Over August

First, today’s long run. 9 miles in 1:49. Not horrible. I had hoped for a bit faster pace – even for a long run. However, when I got home I heard the weather man describe the current conditions as “oppressively humid.” Not news to me. I am generally a sweaty person however – today was unreal. I was hoping for rain. No luck. I could feel sweat drip off then bottom of my shirt and hitting my knees. GROSS. In the last mile I thought there was something wrong with my toes. I turned off my ipod and could literally HEAR the squishing of my feet with each step. Like running on wet sponges. Blech. Anyway, I felt really really good for the whole run. So it’s a win – and knowing that it will be roughly 30 degrees cooler on race day is awesome haha.

On to the problem with august.

August has to be my least favorite month so far this year (except maybe April, but it’s a toss up). It was a super stressful month, and everything’s suffered as a result. At first, stress (mostly work related) was worked out with a good run- or at least temporarily. I started running more in the afternoon, after work, as stress relief. However, the last two or so weeks stress started messing with my sleep pretty seriously. Which, if you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, you know it’s simply the worst. So now I’m exhausted on a daily basis, and running is becoming a stressor instead of stress relief. I’m so tired, runs are sucky, and then I get all worried about cutting back as I’m training. Annoying

This week I finally forced an unscheduled rest day as I knew speed work was not going to help. Unfortunately, I did not sleep any better that night. So the next day (this past thursday) I “manned up” and did my speed work after work. It wasn’t the best speed work I’ve ever done, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. And I did it. 8x400. And it did wipe me out and I finally slept. woo! that was short lived, but whatever, one night of sleep in a terrible sleeping rut is better than 0.

Friday night I spent chatting and wine drinking with a friend. She is a good source of running knowledge and encouragement. Recently she’s gone head first into the cross fit experience. Honestly, I think cross fit is pretty cool. The workouts seem interesting and challenging. My biggest problem is the cost – so not in my budget. My friend is also all into the paleo diet. And is living proof of it’s benefits. I’m not totally sold on all of it, but obviously my diet can use some cleaning up (like, seriously). Again, stress does not help with that. As we chatted about working out and eating right I finally admitted that my problem isn’t that I don’t know how to eat well, I just simply don’t.  there are a million excuses, and blah blah, but honestly I just need to admit to myself that I’m my own biggest obstacle here and get on with doing this right.

I’m hoping to try to get back to where I was a few months ago (may/june). I was much more positive, and in tune with being a healthy happy person. I just wish I could let some things go, and stop being so stressed and negative about some stuff (which then turns into all stuff). Not totally sure how to do that, exactly, but I know that there are things that help on that path, that’ve worked before, that I’m not doing as much (blogging) or loosing perspective on (running).


So here’s to deeper breathing, not being a bad blogger, and running for me – instead of for the race. cheers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rock You Like A Hurricane!

What a crazy week last week was. I shuffled things around a bit due to feeling pretty run down. That came back to bite me.

I had a cut back week on the plan this week - an extra rest day. According to the hard and fast schedule, it was two rest days (Fri and Sat) and a 10k race Sunday. I didn't have a race on the schedule, so I originally planned to do a timed 10k in place of a race.

However, Monday and Tuesday I felt awful, so I decided to move one of my weekend rest days to Tuesday to give myself a break. We also had an earthquake. That has nothing to do with running, but it was weird, dude. I've never felt one before. No one in this area knows what to do when something like that happens. So the west coast can laugh it off and poke fun. LA, when you get a freak ONE speck of snow, then we'll talk, mmmkay?

So, Wednesday I ran. 3 miserably slow miles. I felt awful. I mean, I felt better having done them than not, but still, it was rough.

Thursday I. FREAKING. ROCKED. I went to the gym after work (stress is still f'ing with my sleep schedule). I had a tempo run on schedule for 40 mins. I did 4 miles with the last two below 10min/miles (9:47 and 9:35). I felt so strong the whole time it was freaking awesome!!!!

Thursday, easy run. I did it on the treadmill bc I wasn't feeling any of my regular running routes, and it was kinda hot in the afternoon. And i just felt like TM running. I knocked out a 5k on varying inclines. Decent run. However, I started to feel a strange twinge behind my left knee - never had that before. A friend warned me that's how trouble with her hamstring mainfested, so I took extra care with stretching.

Hurricane Irene f'ed up my plans to do a timed 10k. After three days straight of running, and a twingy left knee-back, I decided to just make it an easy 10K. I rocked it out, felt great. Legs were sore and heavy, but I still kept it up. Left knee-back was a bit weird so I've been stretching appropriately.

Yesterday = Hurricane. I didn't even shower. The city asked us not to do laundry so as to not tax the sewer systems, I figured it applied to showers too :) Plus, we were asked to stay home - not that anything was open anyway.  Today i'm resting too- just to be safe with this knee situation. Maybe some xtraining after work, but for whatever lame reason I only got 4 hours of sleep tonight. So i'm ok with just crashing after work.

On Hurricane Irene, I know this was *just* a Cat 1 hurricane, and I know by the time it hit us here in upstate NY/New England, it had downgraded to a tropical storm. However, hurricanes, period, are extremely rare for this part of the US. While I was not directly affected in any horrible way (minor basement flooding, lost power for a measly 3 hours), a LOT of upstate NY, Western MA, and Vermont are seeing flooding that hasn't come to these parts in over half a century. So, please, don't write this storm off as "no big deal" or accuse the government and media of over reacting. Towns just outside of Albany have been washed away, houses, bridges, cars GONE. This was not a joke for many people in this area. I'm really sick of people writing it off because it's sunny today, and they did not get hit with the brunt of it. It's rude, and the lack of compassion for the plight of those in communities, 15-20 minutes away is sickening.

People are so disappointing sometimes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not Bonking

This weekend I told my dad I wanted to run 4 half marathons next year.

These seemed like an odd statement to make since I'm not all that impressed with my training right now. It's not going poorly, really, but it's nothing to yap about either. Although, my attitude may be being negatively effected by other life stressors.

I only missed one run last week. I needed an extra rest day, i was TIRED. It worked out well, because I got in an awesome speedy run last friday, slightly unexpected, but still a great run. And then my long run on sunday was nice too. It was a bit slower that I would've liked, but my super lazy, stressed out self did not want to go to the store this weekend and get GU. So I made it an entire 8 miles, in an hour and a half, without taking in any cals, or bonking. When my dad was training for his marathons earlier in life (before energy gels and stuff like that) he just used water. all runs, just water. 20 freaking mile training runs, with water. That's insane to me. But, he did it - as did tons of other people.

After my long run I had to drive an hour to help move my sister in to college. I stretched and foam rolled and refueled and work recovery socks all day. but that night I actually had to get up out of bed and stretch and foam roll bc my legs were so tight. Not the most ideal situation, but it happens. I wasn't sore the next day! woo!

This week is a slight cutback week with a timed 10k on Sunday. I'm hoping for a pace around 10:35, which is close to my last 10k race pace back in... april? When was that race? It was cold, that's all I remember.

Speaking of cold - how about this cooler weather? Finally! I'm already looking forward to when I have to put the bed spread back on! yay fall!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Training Plan

Ok, a billion years ago I promised to post about my training plan. So, now i'm following through, even if i'm on week 5. This has given me enough time to say I like this plan so far. I'm using the Hal Higdon Intermediate Half Marathon plan. It looks like this:

Stretch &
3 m run
5 x 400 5-K pace
3 m run +
3 m run
5 m run
Stretch &
3 m run
30 min tempo
3 m run +
3 m pace
6 m run
Stretch &
3.5 m run
6 x 400 5-K pace
3 m run +
5-K Race
Stretch &
3.5 m run
35 min tempo
3 m run +
3 m run
7 m run
Stretch &
4 m run
7 x 400 5-K pace
3 m run +
3 m pace
8 m run
Stretch &
4 m run
40 min tempo
3 m run +
Rest or easy run
10-K Race
Stretch &
4.5 m run
8 x 400 5-K pace
3 m run +
4 m pace
9 m run
Stretch &
4.5 m run
40 min tempo
3 m run +
5 m pace
10 m run
Stretch &
5 m run
9 x 400 5-K pace
3 m run +
Rest or easy run
15-K Race
Stretch &
5 m run
45 min tempo
3 m run +
5 m pace
11 m run
Stretch &
5 m run
10 x 400 5-K pace
3 m run +
3 m pace
12 m run
Stretch &
4 m run
30 min tempo
2 m run
Half Marathon

I modified it a little bit because I really like having more of a taper week before my last half, so I basically added in another week, just before the race, where the LR is only 6 miles.

The biggest difference between this and my last plan is mileage. The last training cycle I think my peak week had about 22-23 miles. Last week I was already at 19. I REALLY felt it on monday - I was beat. In addition, work is still super stressful, and shows no signs of letting up. So on top of being physically exhausted, I've got a million things running through my mind at night and have had trouble falling asleep.

Yesterday I opted to do my run in the afternoon. Monday's are generally pretty stressful at work so I figured I'd do an afternoon run to blow of steam. That was the right decision. I thought it would negatively effect my performance on speed work today, but it did not! I don't know where the energy came from but I was ripping through my 400s. Negative splits (starting at about 2:13/interval and ending at about 2:08) and I felt strong all the way through, which was awesome.

Love when it all comes together!!

I promise I will soon get back to posting more regularly. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Newbie Chronicles: Volume 3: Dealing with Information Overload

It recently occurred to me that “the newbie chronicles” is actually a column posted by RW. Whoops. I suppose one day, if I ever receive more than 30hits daily on this blog, I’ll probably receive a cease & desist order from RW. Then I’ll change all the titles. No hard feelings, mmk?

Since I joined the blog community I’ve been on information overload. I won’t date this overload to when I began running, because I was underloaded then (is that a word? I don’t think so.) When I began running-ish (2008), my dad got me to Fleet Feet straight away for proper running shoes. But that was about it. I didn’t do any research at all and was riddled with pain, injury, and lack of inspiration.

Once I found blogger, things changed. I was totally inspired by some awesome runner blogs, and learned sooo sooo much. Too much.

I was just a newb, back in August 2010, when I really finally geared up for a race. And I began reading blogs around the holidays. I was just trying to make it past my 10k barrier, and these people are talking about tempo runs, thresholds, intervals, age groups, MGP, etc etc. I had to do additional research just to understand half the words in some of these posts/articles.

I am super self conscious and self critical. Also pretty mean, to myself…

Right away I dug in with the “omg I’m not doing this right” “omg I’m never going to be fast” “how could I have been so stupid” “you’ll never be good at this, Jennifer.” Blah blah blah.

Then I finished my first half marathon.

Yes, in my training the first time I did do some tempo, progression, and interval workouts (after I learned what they are). I liked this because at the beginning of my training I was on the treadmill a lot due to an extended winter and a lack of property owner accountability in shoveling sidewalks in this dreadful city. So the various workouts kept me interested while I was on the treadmill for most runs. However, throughout that first training cycle, I still thought “I wasn’t doing it right.”

Well, I ran 13.1 miles, and finished the race, so I was obviously doing something right.

When people start out running, it is SO easy to be overwhelmed by all the information. There’s so much out there, and so much that other people are doing. I’m not saying that beginners shouldn’t research and read and absorb as much as they can, but you have to keep perspective. I’m new to this. Getting out there every day and putting one foot in front of the other is good enough, when you’re just starting out. YES, reading about slowly increasing your mileage, getting proper shoes (and socks) is super important. Finding a way to prevent chafing, and reading about how to take in the appropriate amount of calories and fluids on long runs is also important. But don’t loose sight of reality. I wasn’t trying to BQ here, I just wanted to finish a half marathon.

I came across an article from on consistency. It really put things back in perspective for me. It was from the point of view of a coach for triathletes. I am not a triathlete, or really, even an athlete (see: volume 1). But this article talks about the importance of long term training consistency. “It can take at least a year and a half of consistent training to become race fit.” says the article. I’m making an assumption that this is in reference to people who already consider themselves in shape, which would not be me. With all this being said, I’ve only had “consistent” training since Feb of 2011!!! Hardly enough time to build a solid racing base.

So, its time for me to lay off the information overload guilt-trip and have some perspective as to where I really fit in to the whole running game. This isn’t me making an excuse, it’s a realization that I’m at a starting point. Getting to where all information makes me feel like I should be is going to take time, hard work, and patience. I’m no Olympian, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading Kara Goucher’s blog, or admiring other awesome, speedy, strong runners!

The lesson learned here is information overload is best reconciled with a reality check.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Not a Diet, but a Lifestyle Change

Sorry bloggy-land. I've been MIA. I was away all weekend and then things with work have been so nuts that the last thing I want to do when I come home at night is get on a computer.

All in all, training has been going all right. I did a hot hot hot run in brooklyn on saturday, and a good, cool run this morning. Nothing too exciting. I've got a tempo run in the morning, and I'm getting a bit nervous because my last tempo was a disaster. But, I'm trying to keep a positive outlook.

In other news, the next level of this lifestyle transformation. This year I've already trained for and ran one half marathon, and I'm training for my second, which is in 9 weeks (eeeek). However, I've not lost a single pound. wah. I have many a pound to loose. The problem is eating. My diet isn't the worst in the world, or the worst that it's ever been. But, clearly some serious overhaul is needed.

The problem, I've finally come to terms with, is I eat my stress (and my PMS). Irritation seems to be "alleviated" by munching away on whatever. It's not really alleviated though, I'm still irritated/stressed/frustrated. So the goal here over the next several weeks, is to try to recognize, actively, when I'm doing this, and do something else - go for a walk, lift some weights, read a book, or (novel idea) figure out what's really irritating me and how to solve it.

A lot of my ongoing stress is job related. For a year and a half my job has been in constant threat of ending due to economy/funding issues. I was even laid off for a hot second in april. Our contract ends in December and is contingent on a vote by a union membership that I'm not part of. Stressful. So, when i'm really worried about the job situation, instead of reaching for a rather unhealthy snack, I'm gonna hit up some job sites, or work on my resume, etc. Alternatives.

On the other end of things, I'm going to surround myself with healthy options. And not allow myself to make pit stops for crap. This will not only benefit my waistline, but my bottom line as well.

Any suggestions on heathy meals or snacks? Lunch and afternoon snack are my weak points. I just kind of phased out dessert after dinner some time ago - only occasionally will I have a late night snack.