Friday, July 2, 2010

Life in the fast(-ish) lane

Pre-workout fuel: Half a PB&J on whole wheat and cinnamon roast coffee
Workout: Ran 5.06 miles in 45 minutes, 24 seconds; average pace, 8:58.

Numbers can be deceiving. As in, my average pace for this run makes it seem like I was uber fast (for me) today. Like I might have been running a 5K.

But I wasn't.

The majority of my run was in the quite respectable 9:10 to 9:18 range. Two of the five miles, though, clocked in at 8:50 and 8:20. Say what?!?

I'm not really really sure where that 8:50 came from. I knew I was in a good zone, as I reminded myself not to burn out too early, but I don't remember checking good ole Miles Davis (aka the Garmin) that much. The 8:20? Well, it was the last mile and I wanted to kick it up except at the end when/where I kicked it up, I thought I'd maybe hit 4.75 miles and not do a loop around the block to get to 5. I refuse to fizzle for the last quarter-mile so I just held on and went.

Let me tell you something, though. It felt good. It felt good to go fast, to soak in some of the temperate weather before it turns uncomfortable again and get in a good workout ahead of Fourth of July festivities.

And that confidence building, I was talking about ... it was good for that, too.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Underneath it all

Question of the day:

Upon discovering that I had forgotten an essential item - my underpants - in my bag to go from pool to work, did I:

a) Go to my in-law's house a short drive from the pool and steal a pair from Mama T.
b) Drive the 15 minutes north, back to the house, for a pair and drive south again to go to work.
c) Go commando.
d) Stop at Walgreen's and buy a 3-pack of Hanes.

If you guessed "A," you're nasty. Same goes for "C." I'm too lazy for the correct answer to be "B." So, I guess that means I stopped at Walgreen's and paid $5 for a 3-pack of Hanes and put on a pair when I stopped for coffee.

And to catch you up, yes. Yes, I did go to the pool yesterday - even after I wrote that I decided to skip it. It was that dern guilt and the realization that if I moved really fast, I could still make it to the pool for the 9 a.m. open swim.

I did 500 yards in 20 minutes or so, taking a 20-breath rest between each length. I could have made it 600 yards but I figured that I could cut it short since I didn't plan to swim at all yesterday. And because I managed not to let the old guy lap me.

Though swimming still sucks for me, I noticed that I didn't have to clutch the wall for a moment mid-length nor did I panic when swimming in the deep end. I just moved along. And that, my friends, is a victory.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Different strokes

This morning, I tried to use this:

As a reason to do this:

But I decided that food is a poor reward, so I made this:


And did this:In short, I tried to bribe myself with a post-swim egg white flatbread sandwich from Dunkin Donuts to make me actually get to the pool. I decided halfway through my 2.5-mile walk with the dog, though, that I'd rather have breakfast at home and skip the pool. I made myself an egg white scramble with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. And then I sat myself on the couch and watched last night's episode of "Man vs. Food."

I can't feel guilty about missing a workout if I just watched some dude eat a 2-foot long "battleship." Right. Right?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In the long run

July 1. That's what the calendar on my desk says.

"July 1. July 1. July ... holy crap, the RnR Chicago is just a month away," I thought to myself.

Yep, one month from day, I'll be towing the line at the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago and anxiously waiting to run a 13.1-mile race for the second time. Yay!

Yay?

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous. I am nervous. With a couple lackluster long runs recently, I can't help but wonder if I can do this again and do it the way I want to. As in, I hope I don't feel like I'm going to die at mile 10 the way I did during the Flying Pig half-marathon.

With one month to go to ease that fear and reduce that possibility, here's what needs to happen:
  • Two quality long runs
  • A 5K PR, hopefully
  • A longer midweek long run
  • Consistent ab work
  • Consistent 5-mile maintenance runs
  • Whole lot of confidence building
To get working on that last one, I decided to take a look at my running log from March, as I prepared for the Pig.

The stats:

Total miles: 77.54
Number of runs: 17
Longest run: 9.01 miles
Average distance: 4.86 miles
Pace range: 9:15 to 11:05 (12 out of 17 runs in the 10s)

Now, let's look at June.

Total miles: 105.47
Number of runs: 17
Longest run: 10.02
Average distance: 6.2 miles
Pace range: 9:06 to 9:56 (10 out of 17 runs 9:30 or faster)

Before we get to what those numbers mean, let's pause for a moment. June was my first-ever 1oo+ mile month. YAY! (No question marks here!)

Now, to the stats. The numbers show, obviously, that I'm running farther and faster. I have a stronger base and feel more comfortable at middle distances (7, 8 miles). I would also venture to say that it shows that I've been unable to go farther, earlier - something that I thought would be possible the second time around. I'd been hoping to put that farthest distance at 11 miles, if not 12, by now.

I do have a 12-miler scheduled for this weekend, and it falls about two weeks earlier than the equivalent run in my Pig cycle. If this is a successful run, and I have plans to make it so, that last sentence might be stricken from the record.

And, in return, maybe I'll get some of that confidence I need.

Chip time

My Meatless Monday dish might have been the most easily prepared dish ever (with the exception of a frozen meal warmed in the microwave).

Soak a 1-pound bag of black beans overnight in 8 cups of water. The next morning, put the beans in slow cooker with:
  • 2 cans of chili-ready diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Set the slow cooker on low and leave it for 8 to 9 hours. Voila! Dinner is served.

The only problem? It makes a TON of chili, and this girl is the only one in the house who eats black beans. While I could eat bowl after bowl of this stuff, it gets a bit monotonous. You have to spice it up.

Like, today.


For lunch, I brought baked tortilla chips, sprinkled them with cheese and melted it in the microwave. I warmed the chili (in a separate container) and dumped it over the chips. Add on top of that a simple salad/salsa of avocado, tomatoes, red bell pepper, red onions and cilantro, and you have some loaded nachos.

I also have plans to turn the black bean chili into a veggie melt burrito lunch, adding the chili to a whole-wheat tortilla with some cheese and sauteed onions and peppers. I'm going to make some more of that simple salad/salsa for a garnish. Some 0% Fage might be a nice garnish, too.

As for the rest? I think it might be headed for the freezer and another Meatless Monday.

Brand new day

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with reduced-fat peanut butter and cinnamon roast coffee
Workout: Ran 7.07 miles in 1 hour, 7 minutes; average pace, 9:29. Followed by abbreviated "No More Trouble Zones" with Jillian Michaels.

I woke up before the alarm went off, and I looked at the clock. 5:45 a.m. I thought about changing the alarm to sleep later, abbreviating my run and cutting any semblance of strength training. For about a minute, until Denali barked. It seems we would be getting out of bed for a 7-mile run.

I took him out, made myself a cup of coffee and got dressed. Within a few minutes (or 20), it was like I was a whole new woman.

Literally.

(Excuse the malice in my demeanor. I don't look like "me" until at least 9 a.m.)

On this morning's run, I wore my first pair of Nike tempo track shorts, which I picked up on sale yesterday at Dick's, and my new Optic Nerve Eyeque IC sunglasses.

I have to say, I was a bit nervous about wearing both items, especially for a midweek long run. I usually wear a compression-type short, which I know will not cause chafing. And glasses? Never wear them. I can barely stand the feel of fashion sunglasses on my face as I drive. Much to my surprise, I didn't have a single problem with either item.

The shorts

I have heard a lot about Nike tempo shorts and just how awesome they are.

Nike says, "Pick up the pace in the Nike Tempo Track Women's Running Shorts. High-performance design delivers ventilation in a fit that moves with you. Featuring curving lines, a low-rise fit and sweat-wicking fabric, it's no wonder the Tempo Track Shorts have become a warm-weather running favorite."

The shorts have a 3-inch inseam, a little short for me, but they never rode up. I had no chafing despite my legs still being a bit heavy, (some things just never go away) and they weren't soaked in sweat the way my compression shorts can be. In short, I loved them. I may head back to Dick's for another pair while they are on sale.

The glasses

I scored a VIP coupon code from Optic Nerve over at 5 Miles Past Empty, and I quickly ordered myself a pair of the Eyeque IC glasses, which have interchangeable lenses.

Optic Nerve says, "Pure compact performance, defined lines, aggressive styling and advanced ergonomics combine to create dynamite in a small package. The vented lenses keep air flowing and fog down. Fits medium to smaller face shapes."

Another love. I barely noticed the glasses on my face, and they only steamed up at the end when I had sweat dripping down my face.

The run

Fantastic. Cooler temps are making all the difference right now, and I dread the day when the mercury once again reaches 85 degrees. I kept things on the slower side the first half, at least until I found myself in the middle of the cross-country pack. Why Denali thought I could keep up with 16-year-old boys was beyond me, but he did. We picked it up for the rest of the way - even up an unexpected, monster hill along the new route I took.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Petal pusher

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole wheat toast with a smear of reduced-fat peanut butter and a few raisins
Workout: Ran 5.91 miles in 55 minutes, 53 seconds; average pace, 9:27.

The aroma of the lily is distinct and sweet. Nearly intoxicating. I caught the scent of the flower as I approached a seemingly unkempt yard on Columbia Avenue. There were unruly bushes and overgrown shrubs, all in a manic, organic design. The scent intensified as I was in front of the house and just as it was nearly behind me, I caught a towering lily plant in the east corner of the yard.

Beautiful. And perfect. Seemingly, a symbol of this morning's run.

The weather was a welcome respite from the sweltering heat and oppressive humidity of late. It was cool, about 65 degrees. Breezy. Overcast. The leaves on the trail seemed greener and the few rays of sun peeked through seemed brighter as they reflected on the river. I never felt too tired or my body straining. I let my mind relax and kept my attention away from the Garmin.

I just ran, and it felt amazing.

If I could have ran past that house on Columbia, over and over, I might have been able to run forever. Or a few extra miles, at least.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Berry, berry tasty

Best. Breakfast. Ever.


Two whole-wheat waffles, toasted, topped with 1 cup mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries and blueberries) and 1/4 cup 0% Fage with a smidge of Truvia mixed in. And you can't forget the healthy sprinkling of cinnamon. (Remember, cinnamon has been shown to lower cholesterol and help with blood sugar!)

These waffles were like the fattening kind you get at a restaurant. Except better. They weren't overly sweet - just sweet enough. The Fage was creamy, like whipped cream, but didn't melt into a puddle on the plate. And you seriously can't beat fresh berries, especially right now (and especially since they were on sale for $1 a container).

I just wish I hadn't put the rest of the berries into my smoothie this morning because I could eat this for breakfast again.

And again.

And again.

Monday recovery

Pre-workout fuel: Cinnamon roast coffee before yoga, slice of wheat toast between yoga and strength
Workout: 30 minutes yoga, 20 minutes strength (more Tank Top Arms) and 2.5-mile walk with dog


I am not a yoga person. I don't like the soothing voices of instructors, I don't like think about it as a spiritual experience, I hate the music. It's all a bit too zen, and I don't do zen. I just don't.

Example:

I took a meditation class in college. The beginning of the 6-9 p.m. class was a silent meditation, which started with just a few minutes and grew to an hour. I began to sneak into class 10 minutes before the meditation was over because I couldn't sit still - and be quiet - for that long.

Nevertheless, there is value in yoga - stretching, learning to focus on breathing, a bit of active recovery. I know it provides some body-weight resistance and helps with the running. And Hal Higdon recommends stretching on Monday. I listen to Hal Higdon.

My problem is that I can't find a yoga practice (yeah, I can use the proper terminology) that meshes my aversion to yoga and my needs. My needs being stretching - not weight loss, toning, relieving shoulder pain, to be healed or whatever way people use yoga to sell DVDs.

I often use Sara Ivanhoe's "Joy of Yoga," and today I reunited with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I feel like I need something more (~45 minutes) or at least different. I'm thinking of requesting a couple on Netflix to test out.

What's your favorite yoga DVD?

Neener neener, pumpkin eater

Denali and I had big plans for Sunday after our 8-mile run. We were going to eat breakfast. Well, I was going to eat breakfast and he was going to take a nap. If we were feeling up to it, we would pack up the backpack, return some books to the library and stop by the new farmers market next to the library.

But after we, meaning Denali, pooped out and had to detour to the in-laws, I didn't think that was going to happen - any of it.Thankfully, though, it did. After a breakfast of an egg white muffin, apple and coffee, we were able to sufficiently rest before heading out to the library and farmers market - about a 1.5-mile loop. It was hot, really hot with the backpack, and Denali and I ambled slowly to the library. We dropped off my books and headed over to the farmers market.

Except it wasn't a farmers market. No vegetables, no fruit, no plants. It was a parking lot full of vendors and artisans selling jewelry and offering henna tattoos.

"We walked down here for this?!" I asked Denali.

And then I looked forward, where I saw a sign advertising frozen yogurt for dogs outside Green Dog. At least one of us needed to get something out of the walk, so I headed to treat Denali.

"I'd like a frozen yogurt, please. For him," I said, pointing down at Denali. The co-owner headed to the freezer for Denali's treat, and I began to scan the store that I've walked past a million times but never entered. There were bulk containers of dog treats, dog beds and toys and canned food - butternut squash, sweet potatoes ... and pumpkin. Wait. Were they serious? There's pumpkin for dogs - and I can't get any pumpkin. Life. Is. Not. Fair.

When the co-owner returned, I asked her about the pumpkin and its ingredients. "It's just pumpkin puree," she said. "100 percent organic." Just like I'd buy at the store for me? "Yep," she said. Pumpkin shortage be damned! She had three cases on hand (she had heard about the supply issues).

"I'll take a can of the pumpkin, as well," I said as she rang up Denali's treat - Peanut Butter-Papaya Fro Yo.

Denali and I walked home with a bit of a spring in our step. Denali's from the copious treats the other co-owner bestowed upon him. Me? I was excited to have found pumpkin, even if it cost $2.50 a can.

Once we got home, Denali dug into his fro-yo. He seemed to enjoy it as much as I knew he would. Hello, he loves peanut butter. Almost as much as I love pumpkin. As I watched him eat, I thought of ways I could use the pumpkin - oats, smoothies, dessert, yogurt parfaits, straight out of the can with a bit of spice and Truvia.

I don't want to waste an ounce of it so I decided that until I know what I want to do with it that the pumpkin will stay in the cabinet.

What's your favorite way to eat pumpkin?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

All dried up

Pre-workout fuel: Frozen banana with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and cinnamon roast coffee
Workout: Ran 8.01 miles in 1 hour, 19 minutes; average pace, 9:56.

Dear City of Fort Wayne,

I run. Sometimes I run far. And most of the time I run, I am running along the Rivergreenway. You know, that path that you tout for being so awesome. It's so long and scenic. It's an ideal path "for activities such as bicycling, hiking, nature study, jogging, rollerbading or just going for a leisurely walk."

That is, of course, if you have the ability to tote around the gallon of water you'll need to do so if you want to participate in those activities during the summer months.

You see, Fort Wayne, your path has very few drinking fountains. Actually, it has none. The only time I've found a drinking fountain is when the path winds through a pre-existing city park. I try to plan my routes so that I can refill my Nathan handheld on my long runs but I ran into trouble today. The heat really had Denali fatigued, and I needed to refill my water bottle for a second time. I could have risked bad hydration to continue on the path home or detour to "Weenie" Park for water.

I chose to detour.

It might have been fine had there been a fountain on the east side of the park. There wasn't. I had to run to the west side of the park and them some to find a source of water. By then, Denali and I were beat. Low on energy, and low on fuel. We were forced to take another detour and run to the in-laws so they could drive us home.

It's true I got in my eight miles, and we got our ride home. It would have been a lot less hassle, though, if you installed some fountains and we could run our original route. And cut down that enormous tree south of "Weenie" Park that was uprooted in the recent storms.

Sincerely,

A Redheaded Runner (and her running buddy, Denali)

P.S. Rollerblading? Seriously? No one does that anymore. And people prefer to say "run" not "jog." Just some more unsolicited advice from me to you.