Thursday, February 27, 2014

Back To The Barre!

Well I'm back, after 2 full rest days post marathon my muscles felt strong enough to get back to a minimal amount of exercise.  I'm still holding off on running until *hopefully* tomorrow but I knew that a low impact strength day was just what my body needed.  I posted about this a couple of months back but I have been attending Barre classes at the Pure Barre studio near my house and decided to stop by for a 12pm class yesterday afternoon.  I was a bit worried about the warm up part of class as it involves both front and side planks and I still have a pretty gnarly blister on one toe of my right foot but I took it slow when changing positions and ended up with no problems at all.  My leg muscles were full recovered by then and it ended up being a great class.

My focus now is to of course keep running as I do have the Gate River Run 15K coming up in just over 2 weeks, but to also begin a regular schedule of strength training.  As a runner, lifting is not my favorite part of gym time but I normally push through a minimal (very minimal) amount just to ensure I'll make it through the race without completely falling apart.  I keep saying that as I'm a runner with 2 full marathons under my belt I want to *look* like a runner as well and with barely any muscle tone, well I look like anything but!  I have the benefit (or curse!) of living in Florida and the warm weather will be rolling in soon enough so this is about the time of year when my running begins to die down anyway.  Since Gate River Run comes only 3 weeks after the marathon each year I don't need to do any extra running training so my daily and weekly running will amount to much less, leaving a lot more time for strength training!  I plan to make barre classes a twice weekly event and also plan to try out a new form of strength classes beginning Tuesday morning.

I bought a Groupon recently for one month unlimited at Timed Exercise and hope to begin next week!  Timed Exercise is a 45 minute class including a short warm up, 30 minute strength training session, then a short cool down as well.  As I am someone who is less than motivated to pick up a free weight or hop on a weight machine at the gym, I figure a new type of group exercise is just what I need to get the ball rolling!  Since the deal I bought is for a month of unlimited classes I plan to attend those 2-3 days per week as well to ensure a full 4-5 days of training.  I know that with my full work schedule I can work in about 3-4 mile runs on those days as well to keep my cardio training active and of course get in the running time that I love.  I'm sure that after the month is over I'll cut my strength training sessions down to about 3-4 per week so I can add in 2 "longer" runs (between 4 and 6 miles) per week with the shorter runs I do to warm up before a class but I want to start strong and then after the toning begins I can cut back, but only a little bit!

Question of the Day: What new exercises or classes have you tried lately?  Did you like it?

Link of the Day: Runner's World: How Best to Combine Strength Training and Running

Monday, February 24, 2014

26.2 With Donna Marathon Recap!

Yesterday was the 26.2 with Donna Marathon and it was a great race!  Just as I remember from last year, the route was full of volunteers and spectators ready to keep all of the runners motivated and moving!

The race started just after 7:30am yesterday morning and runners headed off in several different waves.  I started in the third wave as I am a starting line procrastinator and never make it to the starting line more than 5 minutes before the race is set to start.  By the time I was able to fit myself into the line up, I was only able to make it through about 1/3 of the runners which meant I was toward the back.  I ended up running over the starting line about 8 minutes after the cannon went off.  The weather for race day just about perfect!  Last year, the race started off at a freezing 34 degrees which meant that I couldn't feel my toes until about mile 4.  This year though, the temperature was about 56-57 degrees and cloudy.  There was a slight chill to the air which meant no humidity (Florida humidity can really kill a race!) so overall a pretty good start!  I had to spend most of the first couple of miles weaving through slower runners to finally find my way out of the pace and into my groove.

We ran through the neighborhoods of Ponte Vedra Beach and into Jax Beach and eventually on to the beach itself.  The beach is always a challenging 2.5 miles but this year there was no wind (like last year!) and with the clouds this part of the race definitely could have been worse!  We continued up North through Atlantic and Neptune Beaches and then back down South on the road next to the beach.  My phone, and my source of music, died at about mile 20.  That meant I had no idea of my pace and no music to motivate me for the last 6 miles of the run.  I kept pushing forward though and made it up the ramp to the highway which covers the last 3 miles of the race.  This last stretch is probably the most challenging part.  Because it's a bridge, the amount of spectators is very low and these three miles do have several ups and downs.  The first half of the last mile is uphill...after having run 25 miles an uphill run is not easy!  At the top of the bridge though, just as we were about to head down and off the ramp toward the finish line there is the "Bridge Brigade."  The "Bridge Brigade" is a large group of very loud and enthusiastic volunteers set up to make that last push happen.  Having now run this race twice I can easily say, this last 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile would not be possible without these volunteers.  After having run about 25.5 miles and the most recent stretch being uphill I think many of us are ready to shut down and begin walking.  I am proud to say that I used this motivation to keep going and made it across the finish line strong....well, sort of strong anyway.

I finished with a time of 3:47:13 which is 2 minutes and 20 seconds faster than last year (a finish time of 3:49:33)!  I placed 115th of 1014 full marathon completers as well.  I'm glad I started and then finished when I did as about 15 minutes after I passed the finish line it started to rain and about 30 minutes later the skies opened up!

Question of the Day: Have you ever run a marathon or half marathon?  What kept you going for that last push?

Link of the Day: Shape's Tips on How to Recover From Running a Marathon

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Fun!

Welcome to round 2 of Friday Fun!  Here are some things that have kept me motivated this week!

26.2 With Donna Marathon Weekend

That was my husband and I last year after the marathon.  I loved (yeah right!) running 26.2 miles SO much that I just had to do it again one more time :)  I will be gearing up bright and early Sunday morning and am hoping for a great race!

My new chunky necklace from Target!

I bought this necklace from Target last weekend and have since worn it twice... I received 4 compliments today alone and was only out and about for 3 hours!   I am absolutely loving chunky necklaces right now and figured I'd buy one....well I guess I chose the right one (it looks much cuter on!)!


I am gearing up for my race Sunday and have been loading up on potassium this week so I've been eating about two bananas a day and since bananas are my absolute favorite fruit I have been a very happy girl lately!

Quest Bars!

Especially the Cookies & Cream flavor!! I have previously tried the Double Chocolate Chunk, Cookie Dough, and Chocolate Brownie flavors and although I have loved most of those that I've tried, the Cookies & Cream flavor definitely takes the cake!  I ordered a box of 12 bars about 2 weeks ago and have only 3 left!

Have a great weekend!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite protein or snack bar?

Link of the Day: The Benefits of Bananas for Running

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tips For Tapering

There comes a time when every runner must taper before a race- and that time is NOW for me! I'm right smack in the middle of tapering for my marathon this (eeeek!) Sunday and thought that since I'm oh so familiar with the tapering process, I'd write up a little post with some tips for tapering!

 *Most* runners will taper a couple to a few weeks before a long race like a full or half marathon.  Not all runners do, some run long distances right up to the moment of the race (if you run races often you'll need that time to continue training for an upcoming race) but most training plans and most trainers will suggest at least somewhat of a taper.

Why taper?  Tapering allows your body to rebuild and recover before the race.  We run our longer runs toward the end of our training plans since we have worked hard throughout to attain that level of fitness. After that 10 or 20 mile training run we have blisters, sore knees and shins, heel pain, etc. because we have put our body through it's paces and have run mileage we may never have run before (or at least not often!). It's your body's way of showing you it needs rest...tapering is how that happens!  You don't want to stop running all of a sudden or drop back too far too soon as that can shock your muscles and leave you unprepared for the race.  You want to let your muscles recover slowly while still maintaining the level of fitness required for your upcoming race!  Here is what Runner's World Magazine has to say about the tapering whys and hows before your race!

I've been tapering now for about 1.5 weeks for what will be a total of 2 weeks.  My training plan which this year is the Intermediate 1 plan from Hal Higdon suggests a 3 week taper at the end.  Well, no matter how excited I am in the fall (yes, I said excited) to start my training I always miscalculate and leave one week too few for my training which always ends up in cutting  a run or two out of the plan to modify it for myself.  I wanted to kick my race up a notch this year and am aiming for a PR (3:48:30 or under!) so I went with the plan that had 2 20 milers.  Well, to build up correctly I wanted to leave all of the build up runs in the plan and of course cutting out a drop back week would be deadly so I decided a two week taper would suit me just fine.  I ran my last 20 miler a week ago this past Sunday and stuck to 8 this past weekend.  I figured cutting out the 12 would be better than cutting out the 8 miler as 14 miles the week before a full would probably lead me to disaster on race day!  Since then, I have run 3 (well 3.1) miles on Tuesday and 4.40 miles yesterday.
When my husband realized I had a week of low mileage ahead and asked me to run with him for Wednesday's 4 miler I agreed.  We don't normally do too well running together as I tend to run a lot faster than he does (he only runs once a week and I, well I run a lot more than that!) and tend to have trouble staying behind with him.  I knew a slower (read slower but definitely not slow!) at about a 9 minute pace would be a good thing for my recovery and at this point, certainly wouldn't make me lose any of the fitness or abilities I have built up over the past few months!  Although it can be hard for a runner to stomach, I definitely suggest not only kicking the mileage of your runs back before a big race but also kicking back a bit on the speed, truly let your body recover.  I still ran Sunday's 8 miler at more of a "race pace" but took the opportunity to (well for Wednesday at least) to cut back my pace after that.

I will be planning a "shakeout" run this Saturday, nothing big but a slow (ok, who am I kidding after two rest days in a row I'm going to want to jet!), 2 mile run is in order to be sure that when I wake up bright and early Sunday morning to prep for the marathon my muscles are slightly warmer than if I had taken Saturday off and I can get into the swing of the run much more easily!

Question of the Day: How long do you taper before a big race?
Link of the Day: Runner's World 6 Cross-Training Activities To Try

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Fun!

Welcome to the first edition of "Friday Fun!"  As an avid reader of blogs (oh, that sounds like a job title- I want that one!) I read a lot of themed weekly posts such as "What to Wear Wednesday" or "Thursday Tidbits" and I love the idea of a fun, short, weekly post so here goes....the first edition of "Friday Fun!"

Sweaty Bands
As a (fairly) serious runner I am always looking for new headbands that are going to stay in place as I run.  It drives me CRAZY when I have pieces of hair flying in my face as I run and other than the ugly plastic headbands that cost 99 cents (and are SO uncomfortable) I haven't yet found anything that truly works!  I bought one yesterday and already love it!  The headband stayed put during my Pure Barre class and then today as well when I put it through it's paces during a 6 mile run!

Sunset Runs!

Do I even have to elaborate? Beautiful colors along the river as I'm trying to make it through the toughest part of my run...umm, yes please!

Kashi Hummus Crisps
I have seen these around for a few months now and have wanted to try them since I first saw them and finally picked up a bag today when I was at the grocery store and ate about half the bag before the groceries were unloaded (don't worry, it's only a 3.5 serving bag!) and they are a-mazing!  No need for dip, they have tons of flavor right on the chip!  I got the Sea Salt and Olive Oil flavor and surprisingly, although they tasted just like Olive Oil I loved them!

C9 Workout Clothing from Target!
I basically buy all of my running clothing (with the exception of shoes of course!) from Target and LOVE the C9 line!  I went last weekend to try and find something fun and new for my upcoming marathon and found a style I've loved in the past but never thought fit me.  Well, I decided to throw caution to the wind and try it on again and I loved it!  The shirt was so cute and would be perfect for the upcoming (way too soon!) summer in Florida!  I bought it in two colors: a rain cloud (Gray) and black.  I wore the gray shirt today and plan to wear the black with a cute (Target) pink running skirt!

I'll be back next week with more Friday Fun! Enjoy the (3 day!) weekend!

Question of the day: What new products, foods, or events are you loving lately?
Link of the day: In honor of Valentine's Day-

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

11 Days and Counting...

Yes, I know it's been a month since I last posted on this blog, bet you thought I disappeared didn't you?!  Marathon training can take up so much time and energy that in the last hour or two after work is finish and everything is done around the house- all I want to do is sit down and watch mindless t.v.!  But as the tapering begins I am trying to be more active in other areas as I'm running much less than I have been over the past two months!

We are officially 11 days away from the Donna Breast Cancer Marathon on February 23, 2014!  I am at that point in my training where I begin to ‘taper’ for the next week and a half.  I did a second 20 miler this past Sunday evening (I’m still loving the weekend sunset runs! I’m going to miss them when summer returns to Florida in a couple of months and I have to race out before 7am to get in a less humid run!).  It definitely did not go as well as my first 20 miler 2 weeks before but since the first was completed in 2:51:50 (an average pace of 8:35) I guess I can’t be too disappointed!  I was still able to finish this last training run in 2:56:22 for an average pace of 8:49 which certainly beats last year’s single 20 miler at a pace of 8:59 and a total time of 3:00:03!  10 seconds faster per mile- I’ll take it!

As any runner would be I’m of course hoping for a PR…my official finish time last year was 3:49:37 so anywhere between 3:35 and 3:48 would work for me!  That means I’m looking for an average pace of 8:40 to complete the race in 3:47.  

Although my long run times this go round would suggest I’m on track for a PR I’m nervous about the outcome as I think anyone would be!  I remember the way I felt as I crossed the finish line last year- a very heavy chest and I felt very short of breath.   I chalked it up to the fast pace at which I ran for so many miles…well if I’m looking for a PR this year that means running even faster.  I’m hoping that my extra 20 mile run and the overall faster pace I ran prepared my body to kick it up a notch without feeling any worse (or even as bad as I felt at the end of last year’s race!) however the feeling after this week’s 20 miler would suggest differently.  I felt *horrible* this past Sunday when I got home.  I stretched and grabbed a glass of water with my GU Electrolyte tabs and headed straight for the couch.  I felt super nauseous and completely drained; my left knee was also recovering from a weak moment at mile 18.  I sipped on my electrolyte filled water and ate some tortilla chips and after about an hour I felt ready to get up and jump in the shower.   It’s a bit funny to think about as after my first 20 miler two weeks ago I felt great!  I was talking with my husband throughout the run and when I got home I drank a smoothie while stretching by the fire!  Weird!

I’ve been trying to prepare in other ways as well as we hit that last stretch before the race….I’ve been focusing on cutting out as much alcohol and processed foods as I can with only two glasses of wine total this past weekend and a pretty healthy diet since Friday (with the exception of the insane amount of Thomas’ English Muffins banana bread and corn muffin flavor I ate!) to try and clear my system in order for it to run as efficiently as possible (yes, pun intended!).  I also gained a few pounds (ok, more than a few!) over the holidays (darn family visits and yummy treats!) and have been trying to lose a couple of those (slowly) while still remaining fueled for my level of exercise, hoping that a couple of pounds will also help me run just a tad faster in search of that PR. 

From here, it’s tapering down daily to let me body rest and recuperate for the long run ahead.  I have much shorter mid-week runs planned this week and next week I only have two “real” runs planned!  This Sunday’s “long” run will be a total of about 10 miles then it’s short runs Tuesday and Wednesday before rest days Thursday and Friday and a shakeout run of 2 miles Saturday so ensure my muscles don’t get too tight before Sunday’s race!  I’m trying to keep up my healthy and cleaner eating habits these next 11 days as well to ensure my system is clear and free of anything that might hold me back from the goal I’ve been working toward for about 3 months now!

Question of the Day: Do you have any special rituals or meals you do or prepare in the weeks leading up to a race?