Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Humid and Wet Half-Marathon

On Sunday I ran my 5th half-marathon- the the Jacksonville Bank Half- Marathon.  I'm still training for my "To Marathon or Not to Marathon" so my previous weekend had consisted of a 15 mile training run.  I figured I'd be set, maybe not for a PR as my previous PR was 7:38 from this past March's Tour de Pain Extreme, but at least to make or beat my time from last year's Jax Bank Half- an 8 minute mile.  I knew a few days before the race that the weather conditions wouldn't exactly be ideal but didn't realize how much that would all affect me until that gun went off.  The temperature was about 70 degrees and although it was cloudy and early in the morning, the humidity (and this is Florida humidity!) was about 95%.  Although, as I said before, it wasn't sunny so not extremely hot- the humidity was so oppressive that it was very difficult to breath for much of the race.  That combined with my cold that was still hanging on by the tail end, I knew it would be a long and tough race- not to mention no chance at a PR.  There was about a 100% chance of rain for the area as well so we knew it wasn't going to be good.  We luckily escaped most of the rain as we only hit a few pockets of light rain on the course...until the end.  About two miles before I finished the sky opened up!  By the time I hit the finish line on the field the puddles seemed to be a couple of inches deep.

I ended up finishing strong and rushed home to get out of the rain.  Well the rain seemed to continue just as hard for about the next hour and a half.  I felt horrible for all of those running the full the same day as most of them hit about 2-2.5 hours of pouring rain!  I knew my end time was somewhere just under 1:47:00 (I wasn't  immediately able to turn on my phone to stop my GPS because of all of the rain) so I wasn't uber eager to check the official race time sheet online.  Later that afternoon I finally saw the results I had been dreading- a finish time of 1:46:38..an 8:11 pace!  That definitely was far from what I had planned but I'm later realizing that with less than optimal conditions, I guess it's not too bad.  I of course (and I'm sure all your runners out there understand) had to then check where I placed in my age group and out of all women finishers.  I was 9th in the 30-34 age group out of 111 and 42 out of the 762 women who finished the race...not too bad, I guess the difficult conditions affected everyone- not just me!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Week of No Runs

Inevitably my travels up to the cold North last week made a lasting impact on me- I was left with a cold.  Sunday was scheduled to be an ‘off’ day for me after my 15 mile run the day before so I spent the morning instead with my younger sister at her barre class.  Monday was supposed to be a short, 4 mile run and Tuesday a 5 mile run.  Well Monday morning started off with me sleeping in as my plane didn’t land until midnight the night before and I didn’t get to be until after 2.  Since I had been away for the last 4 days and was headed out again the next morning for two more days for Christmas, I skipped my Monday run to clean and get the house ready to hear out again the next day.  Tuesday I was about to head out and he to the gym when we realized that duh, it was Christmas Eve and the gym wasn’t open so he decided to run with me.  Since he doesn’t run very often at all we ended up with a 5.5 mile (I ran the extra mile on my own, my husband ran with me for the first 4.5) at a pace of 9:16 (the first 4.5 miles)/ 9:09 pace (I was able to get it down a bit in my last solo mile). 
Well that run left me with massive shin splints (I have since realized it’s 100% time for new running shoes!) which I decided to nurse along with my cold Wednesday morning since it was Christmas day and all.  By Thursday morning neither my shin splints nor my cold had begun to get any better so I decided to try and sleep in an go for a run when we got home from our 4 hour drive that evening...since we didn't get home until after 7- that didn't happen either!  

That meant that when I went out for my 6 mile scheduled training run (it was supposed to be 5 but since I hadn't run in almost a week I decided 6 would be a good idea) I was seriously lagging!  I still hadn't gotten over my cold so needles to say it was a long and challenging run!  With a time of 52:24 and an average pace of 8:30 it wasn't a "bad" run but certainly wasn't was I was hoping for that day!  

Question of the Day: Have you ever had to take a significant amount of time off due to illness?  If so, how did you cope with the idea of "missing a run" each of those days?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Running to Explore a “New” Town!

I’m up visiting my family for a few days for my yearly December trip home!  We’re spending Christmas this year with my in-laws but even when we’re not spending the holiday in New York, I always make a trip up to spend some time with my family. This year is extra special as I have a new nephew (Yay!) and as I live in Florida and they live in Pennsylvania, this trip is the first time I’ll get to meet him!
Thursday I took an “off” day as according to my training schedule, Thursday is a rest day, plus it was nice to have a relaxing morning of work after a very long travel experience that ended very late the night before!  Friday morning though, I was up bright and early though for a run!  Not sure if I was going to run 4, 5, or the 7 I had on the schedule for the day- I set out.  I’m staying at my parents’ house but they have moved into a new house since the last time I was up to visit in July and although still in the same time they’ve lived in all of my life, the new house is on the opposite side of town from our previous house of 20 years.  That meant my run would be mostly on this “new” side of town!  Although they moved from a house w block from the current one to that house of 20 years, I was 10 when we moved out of this side of town so it’s been a while since I really took the time to experience it!  My morning run was the perfect time to do so!  Since I wasn’t sure how far I would go I decided to stay on our side of town and do a big loop.  Well, I began to get lost in all of the houses that hold very distant memories for me and that, along with the new houses and renovations that have up over the 6.5 years since I moved to Florida, provided the scenery and desire to keep going.  We were in a bit of a time crunch (it was the day to head to Pennsylvania to see the nephews) so I didn’t quite make it the 7 miles I was hoping for but I did make it a nice solid 6.5! 

All of the changes, memories of friends’ old homes, and holiday decorations provided a nice distraction from the chilly morning (I am up North after all) and the fact that I was wearing way too much clothing  for the 36 degree temperature (Hey, I’m from the South now and 36 is a scary number!).   I was nice to have the time to explore a side of town that is old but new again!

Question of the day: Do you like running in new places?
Link of the day: Hal Higdon's Beginning Runner's Guide

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Return of the Mid-Week Mid-Length Run!

I’m still deciding whether to marathon or not to marathon but training as if I am…that means a mid-week mid-length run!  I have been fudging my training plan quite a bit over the last several weeks- since I haven’t yet decided whether or not to run the race in 2 months I don’t feel as serious about nor do I feel my runs are as necessary. 

This Wednesday was my first time completing the mid-week mid-length run…7 miles!  It was also a week where we hit lows in the 40’s after several weeks of mornings in the 50’s and 60’s here in North Florida.  Since I try and run my long training runs on Saturdays my mid-week mid-length run falls on a Tuesday morning.  I’m currently two weeks away from my first half of the year and am *trying* to qualify for a certain seed for the Gate River Run  in March- that means a 7:24 pace…for 13.1 miles (riiiiight!).  I’m a decently fast running, averaging 8:15 for 3-5 miles and 8:20 to 8:35 for 6-10 miles so to get down to a 7:24 pace (scares the heck out of me even seeing that in writing!) I decided to run a “double bridges run.”  In downtown Jacksonville we have two main bridges- the Main St Bridge and the Acosta Bridge, a “bridges run” or “running the bridges” means you run over one then swing around sort distance (.25 to .50 miles) then run over the second.  That means that my ‘double bridges run’ is one loop over the two bridges and ten around for a second loop over the same two bridges!  I happen to live near these bridges so I run to and from as well- equaling up to about 7 to 7.20 miles!  In the past running inclines like this has resulted in a faster pace for me when running flat courses so I figured WHY NOT?! 
Overall the run was a lot better than I expected it to be!  The first loop over the bridges was definitely not fun but surprisingly, the second loop was MUCH easier!  The training plans I follow for my marathons (well, the only one I’ve done- last year) are the Hal Higdon training plans.  Last year I of course used the “Beginner 1” training plan but this year I’m following the “Intermediate 1” plan.  The Hal Higdon plans are definitely heavy on the running but since running is what perks me up for the day and gets/keeps me positive I like it!  Of course these training plans call for not only a mid-week mid-length run but a mid-length “day before the long run” run!  Which means not only an intense workout mid-week, but one on Friday morning as well!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Polar FT4 Review

Recently I bought the Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor...I've been thinking about buying a heart rate monitor for a while now (months) and finally gave in when I found a great deal on Amazon and since we just began a month long free trial with Amazon Prime it seemed like the right time.  Plus ordering anything through Amazon automatically donates money to my neighborhood rescue when I use their link so that was an added bonus and since the stars aligned, I had to buy it, right?! 

So far I've worn it about 6 times while both running and spinning and it seems pretty accurate!  I am able to change the reading very easily while running so if I want to see my calorie burn so far or my current heart rate or even the current time/how long I've been exercising for, one simple button lets me scroll through each screen!  I've never had a GPS watch and I haven't even work a regular watch in my daily life in probably a year but having the watch on my wrist when I run or spin is very comfortable, I barely even know it's there!  

I was questioning buying a heart rate monitor as I figured the chest strap would be tight and feel awkward while working out (I'm sensitive to temperature and most other sensations when I'm running).  I became even more so when I read the directions for the first time and read that I need to wet the strap before wearing it...I figured it would feel icky like that wet bathing suit you put back on or those jeans that aren't completely dried yet but I barely even noticed!  I will say that on the chillier mornings it can be a little cold as you put on the wet strap but it goes away pretty fast.

I'm still figuring out the details of the data post-run but during my run I can scroll through three screens...the first is the current heart rate, nice and big on the screen so I can see while I'm moving along!  The next is calories burned so far which is also nice and big and seems to be pretty accurate!  The third during workout screen is the duration of the activity as well as the current time which is great as it's the only watch I wear while working out and I'm always rushing back for work!

Overall I would give the Polar FT4 a big two thumbs up!

Question of the day: DO you wear a GPS watch or heart rate monitor while you workout?  If so, what brand is it and do you like it?

Link of the day: The American Heart Association's Target Heart Rate Page!

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins!

I follow a lot of Blogs...I work from home and although I have a zoo of animals it can get a bit lonely in my office all day.  I need a break from the stress of work so I hope on Bloglovin to read all of my favorite blogs. Every time a recipe is posted I always think I'm going to make it for some reason or another and of course I never do.  Well this one is different! I have been dreaming of these Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins I read about on Peanut Butter Fingers a while back (although the recipe was posted 2 years ago I only recently found the recipe).  Since I've been pretty bored with desserts lately and didn't want another overly sugary recipe since I ate an elephant's weight in sugar over the Thanksgiving break, I decided this was the time to try!

I opened up the recipe, got out my mixer and got to work!  I made a few changes to the recipe but I have to say, the recipe was incredibly simple...and tasty!   I cut the sugar in half and only used 1/4 cup of oil instead of the 1/3 cup Julie calls for in the recipe but they don't bounce like many fat free or lower fat recipes do! In fact they were super most and even a bit crumbly!  I swapped out the vegetable oil for coconut oil as I had bought it several months back and don't use it very often so I take every opportunity I get to use it in a recipe!  I also added in 1 tsp of vanilla extract- I LOVE vanilla extract in baked goods and often find that it adds a subtle sweet flavor to the dish without adding any extra sugar!  Couldn't hurt, right?!  I only made 10 muffins in my recipe (I don't like wimpy muffins) and they turned out just the right size to eat 2 at a time!
I didn't use muffin wrappers, after my Thanksgiving corn muffin experience I decided to stay away from those for a while (I think the wrappers ate more of the muffins than we did!).  I also used instant oats as that was all I had one hand and found that some of the oats still held a slightly crunch texture, almost as if there were tiny pieces of nuts in the recipe!  Would I change anything next time?  No, I don't think so- although not very sweet at all, they were a perfect mid day (and after dinner) snack!  These muffins would even make a great breakfast with some lightly whipped cream cheese!  If you have 20 minutes of free time this weekend whip up a batch- they take about 5 minutes to prepare and 15 to bake!

Question of the day: What has been your favorite pumpkin recipe this fall?

Link of the day: Huffington Post's 8 Health Benefits of Pumpkin

A Rainy Run

Do you run in the rain?  If you're a runner, how much rain does it take to make you miss, change, or postpone your run?  I woke up last Wednesday ready to go for my 6 mile mid-week training run and as I was about to head out the door- rain.  Not much, but enough to make me rethink a 50 minute run.  After deciding that the rain wasn't going to persist for long and hoping that in less than an hour I could get back dry- I headed out.  Well about 3/4 of the way through my run- rain!  There wasn't much for me to do but to keep on going! 

I ran for about the last 15 minutes in a steady rain.  I have to say, I really thought it would out a damper on my run (yes, I went there!) but surprisingly it was a nice way to end my run!  I had been smart and wore a hat to keep the rain off my face on the chance the rain did come back so I wasn't dealing with a face full of water.  Although I probably looked crazy to most people driving by (I was running downtown so there were plenty of cars!)- I'm a runner and I'm not going to let a little rain stop me!

Question of the day: What do you change about your run or gear when it's raining?

Link of the day: Tips for Running in the Rain- About.com