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.