Favorite Things Friday: Running Away From Home

You ever have one of those weeks that is super awesome, then absolutely terrible, then super awesome again really quickly? That’s been the past week for me. Let me sum it up for you shortly before we get into the running talk (you know, the real reason you’re here).

Friday- Jim took me out for a lovely congratulatory dinner for some recent hard work that’s paid off. East Bay Grill, seafood risotto and 4 glasses of wine. It was glorious.

Saturday: Hung out by the pool for the day with Dad, left 2 minutes before the thunderstorms rolled in, got in a quick 3 miles once they stopped and then went to a lovely cookout with Jim.

Saturday night: At above-mentioned lovely cookout, Jim gets bit by dog. Next 7 hours are spent at the emergency room assuring the doctors that the dogs shots are up to date, Jims shots are up to date and we really just want to get sewn up and go home.

He was a trooper about it

Sunday: Jim was supposed to race, or go jetskiing. Obviously neither of these were possibilities anymore. What was a possibility? Sleeping until 9:30 and going to breakfast. After that, we went to the beach, took a ride on the motorcycle and then had drinks by the water. Life was back to good.

I’m not sure if it was something I ate or a plague I caught while sitting in the Emergency Room (they really should do the whole sick vs injured sides like they do at pediatricians offices so that doesn’t happen to the healthy people), but Monday was spent in bed. I did manage to accomplish one thing off my marathon to do list. I finally booked a hotel for the Newport Marathon. 1 mile from the start/finish line, close to all the good bars and restaurants. If any of my other Rhode Scholars are staying at the Marriott let me know! We’ll flood the bars post race I’m sure.

The rest of this week involved a few 2-mile runs, the latest of which was this morning. For all of you who are having problems with Nike+ lately (like a 2 mile run being counted as a .4 mile run?) I figured out the problem.

That would have been good to know before hand. The new app is pretty awesome though.

While I know switching up my normal cemetery route is best for my training, running past the entrance made me particularly sad this morning. Today is my last hill run until next week. For the next 6 days I will be running the flat roads of Michigan.  The cemetery has a few small hills, but no large ones and I know that running flat roads for 6 days meant I needed to get a massive hill or two under my belt before hand. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty, but it was done and I can now spend the day working from home and packing knowing this was taken care of.

We’ll start the 16 hour drive tonight. I’ve got a few new books (but I will stop and buy more if you have good suggestions), working on the iPod refresh and I still need to stop at Whole Foods so we’re eating something other than McDonalds for every meal.

I’m excited to run in a place that is still somewhat foreign to me. There’s always something about not being completely used to your surroundings that makes the miles go faster. I think this is why I love to travel for races. As much as I’m excited to run Boston 2013- yes, I’m already thinking about it- I feel like I know that whole course like the back of my hand. I know every slight up and down, each turn and the nice store owners who will let you pee 12 miles into your run. In case you’re wondering, it’s the Whole Foods in Wellessley. Those people are awesome.

There’s just something about running a new area that makes me a little more eager to log some miles. Despite what your parents told you, running away from home is awesome. Just not in the Shaun from Boy Meets World way. That kid ran away at least twice a season. It got old after a bit. Here are my favorite things about running in new places.

It’s the best type of sight-seeing: When I ran the Chicago Marathon I met a girl named Tara at the start line who basically became my personal tour guide.  We ran together for the first 14 miles and she pointed out all the cool buildings, little neighborhoods I wouldn’t have known about and told me all sorts of cool places to hang out. It took both our minds off of the 26 miles in front of us. After the race I truly felt like I knew Chicago. Caitlin and Gina learned about it too, because their feet were almost as ugly as mine by the end.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to use that picture.

 

You meet other friendly runners: You might not know them by name, but if you stay at a hotel for a few days and go running, odds are you’re going to see the other people that run in the morning. Sometimes you’ll just exchange a polite nod, other times you’ll end up covering a few miles together and getting in a fun conversation.

 

It takes away from the vacation diet guilt: Let’s face it- no one eats healthy while they’re on vacation. When I get up and log a few miles every morning, I feel much better about the booze and deep fried goodness I’ll likely consume that day.

 

Have a great 4th everyone, and I’ll see you all next Friday!

Favorite Things Friday: Everyone Needs a Vice

I’m sure you’ve noticed, but it’s hot. So hot in fact that I couldn’t run the past two days because my Asthma decided to come out to play in the heat when I attempted 2 miles at 6am yesterday. About a half mile in I remembered this is the same reason I had to drop out of Boston, and until I have these flare ups totally under control I should stick to running in temperatures less than 85 degrees. Common sense, you win this time…

After my 2 miller on Tuesday night my dad called and I went to see him and my grandparents. It was his birthday on Monday, so when I arrived there was cake. Lots of left-over cake. So I did what any responsible, healthy, marathon training 26 year old woman would do: I had cake for dinner. Chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.  It was delicious.

My dad lives for sweets. He could eat bags of jelly beans for every meal and be a perfectly happy man. He also smokes, which I’m not a fan of. Aside from the iPod Nano pre loaded with some of his favorite tunes, I also got him an electronic cigarette for his birthday. Just to try. He has always said everyone has a vice and this might be his, but he knows it’s killing him so he’s just going to stick with the jelly beans as best he can. The electronic cigarette appears to be helping. If you know a smoker, I highly suggest this as a gift.

But asking him to give up one of his vices got me thinking about what mine are. Some are not so great for me, others are just flat out terrible. Vices, guilty pleasures, whatever you want to call them- here they are…

Fried Anything with Cheese:  Mozzarella sticks, Cheesecake Factory Fried Mac and Cheese, Chicken Parm, Nachos. If it’s fried, cheesy and gooey I’m going to eat it and love every single bite of it. I’ll run an extra 3 miles and do another spin class to try to compensate, but it will be worth every sweaty minute for that delicious grilled cheese covered in truffle oil.

A heart attack on a plate. A delicious, wonderful heart attack.

The Bachelorette: I am not usually a reality show love, or even watcher. I’ll catch some Real Housewives of some city or another here and there, enough that I recognized Ramona when I met her last summer; but other than that I like to stick to my scripted shows.

She was a surprisingly nice Housewife

However, this season of the Bachelorette has me drinking my Pinot while sitting on the couch ready to cry/yell/be super girly. You can’t help but love this seasons Bachelorette Emily, who has the saddest but most inspirational back-story ever. She lost the love of her life in a plane crash only to find out she was pregnant with their child a week later? Come on. You can’t make that stuff up. And now she has a super sexy, kind of dorky, tall and dark race car driver (sounds like someone I know) in love with her and making out with her in exotic locations? I’m glued. I can’t help it. And in case you can’t tell, I’m certainly Team Arie.

Emily Giffin Books: If you haven’t read “Something Borrowed” I highly suggest it. I read it in a day a couple years ago, and have read every other book of hers in no longer than 36 hours. They’re not the most insightful or thought provoking pieces of literature you’ll ever come across but they’ll keep you entertained for sure.

Sunshine: I use sunblock, but I also love being outside all day every day all summer long. I’m sure the SPF 50 can’t protect little English/Irish me from everything, but I also refuse to stay indoors or under big hats out of fear. I take reasonable precaution. I know I should do more, and I’m working on it. I just can’t help it.

See. That’s me. With sunblock. Working on it…

It’s supposed to rain this afternoon, but it’s 80 and sunny I’ll weekend. I’ll be on the beach or by the pool. And running 5 miles before it heats up tomorrow. Enjoy your weekends!

What are your vices? Are they how you ended up running in the first place?

Running Makes Me Happy

Some days it’s that easy.

Today it’s really that simple. Sometimes I forget how much I love running. When you have a training schedule or are coming off of an injury, it can seem a little daunting to get out there. There are days when you feel like crap, wonder why you do it and just want to hop on a spin bike or lay out your yoga mat for your workout. Then there’s the past couple days.

Saturday’s disastrous “Long Run” made me nervous for the remaining 15 weeks of my Newport Marathon training. Huffing and puffing on a two miler doesn’t bode well for the half marathon in Jamestown in July, never mind the 26.2 in October. When I set out Monday evening for my 1.5 miler around the cemetery I was cautiously optimistic. I was also immediately put into a good mood by an adorable little boy who was standing at his grandfather’s grave with his dad. He was telling Papa about his day, school and what his plans for the summer were. Keep in mind I was not being a creep and staring at them, I just happened to overhear all of this while I was stretching nearby. The little boy then said “Oh, and I got in trouble today because I pushed Tyler. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t like him either so it’s OK”. It took every ounce of restraint in me not to run over and hug this kid for being so cute.

It could have been the good mood that the little guy put me in, but when I started running it just felt… good. Not the “I’m going to do a Forest Gump run across country!” good, but the “This is comfortable and helping me clear my mind” type of good. I even left the cemetery and headed back around to the entrance I came through on the main road with the large hill. I felt great, and even got the illusive negative split I’ve been working on. I know, for 1.7 miles, huge accomplishment. I will continue to congratulate myself on it. Deal with it.

1.7 on a scheduled 1.5- Yeah, I’m an overachiever…

Yesterday was insanely busy as I was offsite for work at a photo shoot all day. I was on my feet all day running around and could not have been happier about that. I really hate sitting down all day long. I try to stand as much as possible but most days I spend at least 6 hours locked to my desk trying to get stuff done. The lunchtime walks are helping. It’s pouring out today so I’m not going to get one in, and that makes me kind of sad.

I was a little worried that after all that running around my legs would have been slightly exhausted for my scheduled run last night. Once again, I surprised myself. Negative split, big hills and finished strong.

Feels good.

I don’t know if it’s the two months of “rest” paying off. Maybe it’s the new types of cross training improving my strength. Most likely it’s the refreshed mindset that’s powering me through. I rested, I recovered and I’m taking it day by day. I know I’ll have rough runs in the future, but I’ll remind myself of runs like these that make me excited for my next workout.

What great workouts have you had lately? How long does the high usually last? 

A New Routine

This weekend reminded me why summer is without a doubt the best season that there is, and also why I think I’m destined to move to a warmer climate. People are just happier when it’s warm and sunny. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. Even in Boston people are just nicer from June through September. It takes a lot for Bostonians to be nice.

When I woke up Saturday morning and realized I had completely slept through the spin class I was hoping to get to at 7am I figured it was probably for the best. I had my “long run” to get through. All 2 miles of it. I mocked this run in my head all morning. “Please,” I thought. “It’s two miles. A few months ago I was running 19 milers and feeling pretty good by the end of them, muscle memory doesn’t fade that quickly.”

Once again, wrong! I did my favorite 2 mile loop in the cemetery and by mile 1.3 I thought I was going to die.

The view did not help how I was feeling.

My lungs burned, my legs hurt and I couldn’t keep up my 9:38 pace to save my life. This return to a training schedule is no doubt needed, but at least I reaffirmed that the beginner schedule was the right choice. On the up side, my knee didn’t bug me at any point. When a run is that bad you have to look for the small victories.

Since I didn’t exactly kill any goals fitness wise this weekend, I decided to set some new personal ones. Summer is usually a time of new habits: going to the beach, patio dinners and learning to not get sea sick on the boat all over again. I decided with the new habits I’d try to create a new morning routine which will hopefully help me cut a few things out of my diet and budget I’ve been meaning to lately.

At 26 years old, I’m determined to get out of mom’s house before my 27th birthday. I have some money in the bank, and there’s a few condos that are pretty much calling my name. I want to live alone for at least 6 months and get that truly independent feeling people say is amazing. Having never truly experienced this myself, we’ll see how I feel about it when it comes. But, even though the real estate market is historically low right now and it’s considered “cheap” to buy, I still want to save as much money as humanly possible.

That’s where this cutback comes in. For health and for budget I’m foregoing coffee and bagels in the morning (one weekdays) until October 1. This could be hell. I’m not sure. I know my body should not be dependent on caffeine to help me feel awake and alive. I also don’t need to eat a bagel every single day. Carbs are good, but there are other forms. My office keeps plenty of cereal here, and Special K is actually pretty delicious. And free.

As for coffee, I really don’t want to need it anymore. I don’t enjoy the thought that the headache I get if I don’t have my morning coffee is my body physically reacting to a lack of caffeine. That cannot be good. I’m also trying to drink my body weight in ounces of water every day after reading a thousand and one articles about how good it is for you. Take out coffee and add water should make this a little easier.

By my calculations, I’ll be saving myself 500 calories, and $5.32 every day. That adds up (or subtracts) pretty quickly. I’m not sure how I will feel about this by Friday, but I’m convinced it’s a healthy choice. And if I’m going to be living alone I’m going to have to learn this whole “sacrifice” thing.

I guess growing up isn’t as fun as Friends made it out to be. Damn you Rachel, you made it look so easy!

Have you changed up your routine lately? What are you cutting out or adding in?

Favorite Things Friday: In Defense of Runners

As I’m sure you’re aware, this Wednesday was “National Running Day”. Of course I celebrated; but because I’m on the “beginner” training schedule for Newport as a precautionary measure, my big celebratory run was one glorious mile around my neighborhood. Trust me- I’m going to be a little stir crazy by the end of next week when my “long run” is still only three miles.

Along with this national day of recognition for those of us who don’t mind getting up at ungodly hours to log some miles there were more than a few articles about the “dangers of running”. I’m seeing more and more articles that seemed to be aimed at deterring those who aren’t runners from the sport and I have to say I’m more than a little confused.

It’s no secret that as a nation we’re fat. Not a little chubby; just fat. The last thing people need to see are headlines that suggest running may not actually be good for them. If a person has a heart condition, knee problems or another legitimate reason for not running they’re more than likely aware that this is not the sport for them. So when I logged onto Boston.com and saw this as the major health headline I was more than annoyed.

Really? Yes, yes it is. Thank you for asking.

Stop trying to scare people into staying on the couch. Running is less expensive than a gym membership. It doesn’t require a team of people like a pick-up basketball game or ultimate Frisbee. It can be done indoors or out, at any time of day. There’s very little special equipment required. You don’t even have to be in good shape to get started!

Runners face a lot of scrutiny, especially marathoners. Here are some of the things I heard when I started training for my first marathon.

“You will need a knee replacement by the time you’re 40”. This is why we have rest days and listen to our bodies. And use a lot of wraps, shots and physical therapy to make sure we’re in shape.

Sexy. I know.

“Marathons are just an excuse for girls with eating disorders to exercise compulsively”. I love food. So do most runners I know. Our love of food is generally what got most of us to start running in the first place.

“Running a marathon takes a year off of your life.” I will not dignify you with a response.

In our defense, I offer this Favorite Things Friday in defense of runners.

Runners are KIND: Of course, there is the occasional exception, but the vast majority of runners I have met are friendly, supportive, genuinely KIND people. Forgot your Gu? Don’t worry, there will always be a friendly runner who offers you a spare around mile 17. Hit your wall at mile 22? The runners around you who have broken through theirs will be there to shout words of encouragement and run next to you to keep you on pace through the hardest miles. Show me another sport where people in direct competition with each other are so supportive and helpful when someone is struggling.

Runners Are (Typically) In Better Overall Health Than Non-Runners: Lower rates of obesity, less heart disease, less cancer, less common colds. Runners tend to eat better, are more well educated and overall just healthier than non runners. This isn’t to say just because some-one is not a runner they aren’t healthy, but as a group we do pretty well.

Runners Will Wear Stupid Outfits In Public To Support A Good Cause (or even just for a laugh): I’m not just talking about race day, either. Throughout my Boston Training one of my favorite things to see was the different teams dressing up for their long runs. Valentine’s weekend I saw quite a few grown men in red tutus running 17 miles. The 21-miler involved a lot of purple skirts, bright leg warmers and funny hats. To bring attention to their cause and give the runners around them a good laugh when every muscle in their body hurts; runners have no issue looking slightly silly for a few sweaty hours.

I was prepared to wear this for Boston. I wore it to spectate instead.

Runners Party As Hard As They Train: Visit a local bar after any major marathon. Runners tend to go straight from the finish line to the bar line to celebrate. We’re a good time.

Post marathon champagne and cheeseburger. This was after the nice man at the bar bought us shots to congratulate me. Win.

So those are just a few of my favorite things about runners. The next time someone tells you that you won’t be able to walk by the time you’re 50, will have a heart attack if you try a marathon or should be doing something else with your time just remember: Runners kick ass!

What’s your favorite thing about runners? Is it that we’re healthy? Sweaty? Just awesome? Let me hear it!

Life’s a Balancing Act

With training for a race, like everything else in life, there is a certain level of give and take you have to expect. Yesterdays post involved me saying I need to be more accountable for my training and taking each and every run seriously. I knew at some point I would have to live up to these words, but I didn’t expect it to be night one of the training schedule.

For Boston training, I gave up on a social life in general. I did not go out. I did not drink. If I was dragged out of the house I was home and in bed by 10pm at the latest and cursing myself for putting my recommended 8 hours in jeopardy. I am making it a point to maintain a work/life/training balance this time around. The people in my life who love me and deal with me deserve time and attention without me worrying about what I’m not getting done the next morning.

Jim called around 4:30 yesterday to say he had made plans for us to go bowling with some friends after work. Yes, bowling. We’re wild. But, it was an awesome time. A couple beers, good friends and lots of laughs.

Like when we realized Jim forgot to take the tag off of his new pants. Oops.

The friends we were with don’t work the typical 9-5 and where Jim is self employed he gets to decide what his schedule is. I’m forever jealous of this flexibility and it makes me miss bartending in my weaker moments.

We left the bowling alley around 9, stopped at the liquor store to pick up a 12-pack and then drove over to our friends apartment. On the way from the store to the house, the guilt kicked-in. I knew I had to be at work early today. I can’t stay late because I have to run tonight. I can’t skip my run. I could take a sick day? I can’t take a sick day to go out and drink. The guilt would forever consume me and I would spend the next month convinced someone found out and I’d be fired immediately. As I pulled into the driveway, I called Jim over to tell him I was taking off and heading home. He stared at me like I had just spoken to him in some third world language. You’re not staying for Wii Dance? Huh? I still don’t’ think he really gets it.

On the way home I was a combination of ashamed of myself and proud. I’m 26. My life should not be as structured as it is most of the time. I should go get drunk on a Monday, stay up till 5am and use a sick day once in a while. On the other hand, I know myself and my personality and I find a huge amount of comfort in structure and consistency. I’m working on balancing the two. Let’s face it- I’ve never been a wild child and I probably never will become one. I think I’ve passed the age where I can have a “wild streak” and it would be socially acceptable. So instead of beers and dancing, I had soup, a book and an attempt to watch the Game of Thrones finale without falling asleep (fail).

It was good soup and a good book though.

I really want to know that I’m giving this training season all I have. Every once in a while that’s going to mean giving up a night out or sleeping in. However, when I’m waking up in a tropical location after winning this bet it will all have been worth it.

How do you strike the work/life/train balance? Early or late workouts? Also- where do I want to go on vacation? I need to start looking into this.

Back to Basics

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Boston is it cold, rainy and overall not in any way offering motivation to get out of bed in the morning. It has been like this for the past 3 days and it did not help me do anything of any note this weekend. Other than napping. I took 3 naps on Saturday. I wish that was an exaggeration. I put in a load of laundry, took a nap. Paid some bills. Took a nap. Then I got my traditional day before a training schedule starts pedicure. And then took a nap.

Obnoxiously bright.

 

What is motivating? Today is the official start of my training program for the Amica Marathon in Newport on October 14. In case you haven’t noticed, the past few weeks around here haven’t been filled with a lot of actual running. There’s been a lot of spin, a little yoga, some Zumba and even a try at CrossFit. All of these made me respect different types of workouts and excited to build some new cross training into my schedule, but more than anything they made me miss running. I think after the way my Boston training season ended I needed a mental break as badly as I needed a physical one.

Two months without a training schedule and I feel more refreshed than I ever have and ready to start training. I’m taking what I learned from my last training cycle and applying it to this one…

I Need To Take Nutrition More Seriously: I am terrible about saying “I’m training for a marathon, of course I can eat a massive amount of mac and cheese”. Yes Caitlin, I partially blame you for this. But I always feel the difference in my workouts when I eat cleaner, healthier meals.

Hot dog mac and cheese, crabcakes, fries and wine is not a well balanced meal. I should realize this.

 

I Have to Lean to Negative Split: For more than a 3 mile run. I’m terrible at this. I need to learn to pace myself, and to power through feeling tired. I can just say “Of course the second half will be slower” any more.

I Will Be More Accountable: Every run matters.  I will get tired. I will be sore. Not hurt, but sore. I will not always want to wake up at 5:30 to get in my run before work. But I want to win this bet, and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

 

Tonight I will run 1 mile. That’s right. One. Mile.

I’m taking the beginner schedule that my wonderful Miles for Miracles coaches gave us at the beginning of last season. Coming off of an injury and two months of not a lot of running, I don’t want to kill myself in the beginning.

I asked Jim what his training plan was for this, and he said “I’ll start training a month of so before if I have time.” Well, that’s one way to go about it. Part of me thinks he’s sneaking in 15 mile runs and not telling me. The other part of me really hopes he decides to skip the whole training thing and makes this easy for me. I guess we’ll find out. He’s certainly not taking the nutrition thing very seriously.

No fork? He doesn’t let that get in his way.

 

What Fall races are you training for? Any races coming up between now and then you’ll be using as a baseline? Jamestown anyone?