Friday, August 31, 2012

I am woman, see me run

In case you missed it, the women who make running with a stroller look cool (Dimity and Sarah) featured me on Another Mother Runner as part of their Follow This Mother Series. Call me humbled. And if you are visiting via the post, I want to say hi and thanks for visiting.

In case I missed it, I'm running a half-marathon this weekend. Oops.

I've planning on participating in the Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon for quite some time, making travel arrangements with L (who is doing the 5K) and (unsuccessfully) trying to get today off work. September just seemed so far away and the race didn't seem like something that I needed to worry about in the thick of marathon training.

Well, September is almost here. Like, tomorrow. It might do me some good to worry - just a little bit - about the race.

The outfit. Since this is a no joke all-women's race, I figure that I should bring the glam. I'll be wearing a fuchsia tank, blue Team Sparkle skirt and polka dot Spibelt. This race will also be one of the last times running in my beloved pink Nike Structure Triax. This summer, I've ran close to 400 miles - 140 miles in August alone.

The carbs. I had a coconut-peach wheat pancake for breakfast - definitely a good start. If I can get away for lunch, I'm antsy to get some brown rice rolls from Fresh Market. If not, I have a PB&J that I packed for the drive. Dinner? Well, that's a bit tougher. Finding a restaurant that's dairy-free friendly isn't easy but I found Coal Pizza Company, which offers goat cheese as an option. Ain't nothing bad about that.

The goals. We all know I'd be lying if I said my only goal would be to finish but that is my base goal. It's so easy to think of a half as nothing after some intense training works but the race is still 13.1 miles and a lot can go down.

So ... Goal C: Get it done.

Goal B: Run aggressively yet smoothly.

Goal A: Beat my time from the Martian Invasion Half Marathon in April. I ran a 2:00:27 (I think), and I know I'm far stronger now than I was.

Goal A+++: Don't whine if it rains (and use it as an excuse to buy a new hat at the expo).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Healthy habits

Our dishwasher is on the fritz.

And by fritz, I mean it's not working and hasn't been since the weekend. We (read: Mark) can press wash and the machine turns on the goes into a high-pitch whirring. It doesn't sound exactly right but it sounds like it's running. When you open it, though, it looks as if the water sprayer thingy never got going.

Needless to say, it's been super fun. I already enjoy hand washing sippy cup after sippy cup so add in plates, pots and oatmeal bowls and it's like I'm running the Disney Princess Half with a Sparkle skirt and my best girlfriends.

Oh, running Disney, what fun you would be ... fulfilling all sorts of childhood fantasies. I could hug Minnie, wear a tutu and butterfly wings, ride Magic Mountain, see Epcot, buy those ears and take funny pictures, eat a caramel apple the size of my face.

Searing hot water interrupted that day dream as I started rinsing. Tall drinking glasses lined the counter, and I reached for one to put under the stream. I set it in the sink to let it fill up, the hot water pouring over the lip. I picked up the glass, dumped the water into another clean yet soapy glass and rinsed that first glass once more before putting it in the dish rack. The water in the second glass was dumped and placed under the stream, hot water rushing over the top. The full glass dumped into a third and so the cycle repeated.

Just like my grandma.

So many times, we think about the bad habits we pick up from our families and I'm definitely one of them. I've talked about how my mom taught me that chocolate malts cured all, you fed feelings and it's OK to give up. It's not fair, though. No matter how many bad things our families teach us, there are good habits to be learned, too.

Like proper dish washing.

1. Thinking back on my mom's life, I can never be less than amazed when I think of what she did to pursue and receive her associates degree. She went to school, did homework and raised two young children with no one to rely upon but herself (and her immediate family). There was no husband or boyfriend to put my brother and me down so she could finish a lab report. There was no one to fix dinner if class ran over. My mom taught me that you can accomplish things beyond the limits others have set for you.

2. We often focus on the physical aspects of health - eating, fitness and recovery. My mom taught me, though, that the mental wellness is just as important. She encouraged me to periodically take "me" days. Whether it's shopping or a pedicure or lunch date, spending time with yourself without anyone pulling on you is just good for the soul. It's been a lot harder to do this since having Miles but you bet your bottom I'm taking off next Friday to visit a friend in the morning and take a nap in the afternoon.

3. Our eating habits were less than stellar in my childhood home. We had a standing Friday night date with McDonald's and for my busy mom, sometimes working two jobs, dinner came in a bucket from Lee's. It's not to say that we never thought about health. When my dad was diagnosed with high cholesterol, my mom began making adjustments to our homecooked meals. She replaced ground beef with ground turkey or at least "cut" the beef with turkey. I learned early on that a) ground turkey is good; and b) how to make small changes for a big effect.

What healthy habits did you learn as a child?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hanging by a strand

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a public service announcement.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with the utmost sense of doom that I must warn you not to purchase a group deal for hair service. It might be tempting to save money on a cut and style but you will pay. You will pay big time in other ways.

My hair was looking fierce and, decidedly, not in a good way. My last cut had been an "Oh my God, if something is not done right now I will do it myself" situation that prompted me to get a trim at Great Clips. Always wary of someone new, I didn't let the stylist do more than cut off the edges and blend some long layers. My decision was fine if I had intended to dig up $50 in the couch cushion to go to my stylist in a few weeks but alas, I did not and my hair quickly became heavy and shapeless.

I had picked up a Living Social deal for a wash, cut and style at a new-ish shop near me, and I decided to give it a go last night. Take off the weight.

Armed with photos, I told the owner/sole stylist that I wanted to keep as much length as possible - you know to pull it back while running - but add in some layers and a bang. The bangs were risky but they grow quickly and can always be pinned back, a co-worker had reminded me when mulling over my decision.

Everything seemed fine. She put on a cape, washed my hair and took me back to the seat, where she glanced at the photos and set 'em aside. Then it happened. The moment where I knew things would go awry. She parted my hair down the middle, never asking me if it's where I part my hair (it's not) and began talking about how she just chopped her hair but wasn't sure how it ended up four different shades, varying from black to blue.

Don't get me wrong - I enjoy a lovely chat with a stylist and I appreciate colored hair. It was me, after all, who colored her hair green with a Crayola marker for funsies in the hallway of my all-girls Catholic high school. But it was the non-stop talking and her apparent distraction that bothered me.

"It won't kill you to hush it for a minute and pay attention to how you are adding those face framing layers."

I thought it. Didn't say it. I remained cordial, even as she bashed the school district where Mark works and smirked when she found out she was younger than me. I told her she did an awesome job as she ROUNDED the bangs under with a straightener and still left a tip when she started sweeping before I even got out of the chair.

I waited for the car ride home and a phone call to my BFF before I got angry. Angry that my hair resembled a job I had done on my own in 1992.

All I needed was a quarter-inch curling iron and a can of AquaNet to tease up those bangs, and I would have been golden to walk around Forest Fair Mall and buy barrettes at Claire's.

Thankfully, 5 minutes in my bathroom with a decent flat iron and my own mediocre skills revealed that the stylist did have some cutting skills even if she wasn't able to style my hair.

Note: It really bugs me when someone who goes to school for hair can't do my hair better than me. It's like going to a restaurant and the chef can't make a steak better than you but he makes a delicious salad.

I've had worse, worse that required me to get my hair cut again immediately - something I don't have to do. The bangs will grow and sweep better. The hair can be pulled back. However, I was once again reminded that you get what you pay for. And I paid $7 for a Living Social deal.

Tell me: How much do you pay for a cut? It seems like the going rate here is $35+, which I can't fathom, but I'm sure it's cheap to those outside the Midwest.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Going full throttle

Dear motorist,

I want to thank you. From the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul, I would like to express my gratitude. I'm sure you were not thinking of others when you loudly revved your engine 20 feet from my bedroom window at what many would call the ungodly hour of 3:44 a.m. Nor do I think it was your intention to do more than excite yourself as you sped down my quiet residential street. I want you to know that the minute amount of joy your antics may have brought you that you brought me more.

You woke up an already restless toddler and brought him to a full scream that only a mother's touch and a 2-ounce bottle of milk could quiet.

You left me agitated and worked up, preventing me from going back to sleep. I watched the minutes creep by slowly, counting down to when my alarm was supposed to go off.

You twisted my arm and made me turn off the alarm, set for 4:55 a.m. so that I could get in my tempo run before Miles woke up.

You gave me an excuse to not feel guilty for turning off the alarm even though I had just promised myself that I would work in the harder runs early in the week thus keeping them from hanging over my head on Friday.

You not only woke up my husband, my toddler and me but you awakened a drive to prove people wrong. I decided that you might have screeched to a halt but I didn't have to. So, despite getting interrupted sleep ... despite having to take the stroller for a tempo effort ... despite having to set a personal distance record with the stroller ... I was going to get in my workout.

By revving your engine, dear driver, you revved mine. I logged four miles at tempo pace and while my goal was to get each under 9 minutes, I eked out an 8:43, 8:28, 8:28 and 8:24. Not only did I log a stroller PDR, I'm pretty sure I set a mile PR with the stroller, as well.

So thank you. Thank you, driver, for being a completely irresponsible ass and ruining my planned tempo run. You made me angry enough to log an even better outing.

All the best,

P.S. If you try to pull that shit tonight, I will use my new found speed to run you down and hit you with sticks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marathon Monday: Strong armed training

I am training for the Columbus Marathon and following a schedule based on the "Train Like A Mother" finish it plan. These posts document my training.

The week, in running:
Tuesday: 3.25 miles (+stroller)
Wednesday: 6 miles, intervals
Thursday: 3.1 miles (+stroller)
Friday: 8 miles, negative split
Sunday: 17.6 miles, long run

◊ ◊ ◊

"You never know what you are capable of unless you challenge yourself," I told my BODYPUMP class on Saturday after a particularly grueling bicep track.

After weeks of teetering on the edge of whether to increase my weights, I bit the proverbial bullet and upped the ante this weekend. I kept my warmup weight the same (3.5 kilograms on each side) but moved up on back, triceps and biceps.

Let's just say it wasn't my smartest move - on more than one level.

The bicep problems were the most visible. I had increased from 3.5 kilograms on each side to 5 (converted, that's 22 pounds on the bar + the weight of the bar) and by the time we were on the final set of eight singles, it took all I could to demonstrate proper form - no swinging, upper body still and arms at side with a little room for the holy spirit. Eventually, I faltered; digging in my elbows for support to finish the track. It was fairly stupid of me and had I known the conversion ahead of time, I don't think I would have tried to lift 12 pounds on each side for 100 reps. 

It wasn't just the pain of looking bad that took its toll, though; it was the physical pain of the effort. Increasing my bicep weight had left my arms incredibly sore and the increase on back left me with tight hamstrings and a stiff torso. I creaked and crackled as I got out of bed on Sunday and as I headed downstairs for my pre-long run bagel thin, I took the steps with the grace of a geriatric awaiting a hip replacement. 

I know there are people who don't like to run when they are sore but a long run is a long run, and you need to get it in regardless of whether your legs are tired. And in doing so, you will be reminded that you use more than your quads when logging miles.

If you watch the video, all 22 seconds of it, you'll be reminded that as you run, you use your quads, hamstrings, core and - wait for it - biceps.  

Core. A strong mid-section doesn't just look good when you take off that tank top 6 miles into your long run; it's key to proper mechanics and injury prevention. The muscles in the core help to stabilize the muscles and joints around it, most importantly the pelvic area. Not only strengthening the area but learning to activate it will leaned to improved posture, form and efficiency. (Source and Source)

Biceps. I never thought much about my arms when running until Jess mentioned a "Come on Ride the Train" technique to help propel herself up hills. I'm not sure she used that name exactly but she said she moved her arms like train wheels to give her more power. I tried it and was hooked. During my long run this week, feeling every arm swing down the trail, I learned that bicep strength isn't just for hill power. "An important aspect of arm swing is that the movement of your upper body helps to balance out the work done by your lower body. If you only used your pelvis and legs to run, and your upper body was motionless, you would experience a lot more effort and work." (Source)

Hamstrings. If your quads are the gas pedal, your hamstrings are the brakes. And we all know what happens when your brakes go out. You drive two hours home, praying to Jesus that you can roll through stop signs and not hit any traffic. "Logging a lot of miles on the roads can place repetitive functional overload on the quadriceps, making them strong, powerful and dominant. When the quadriceps contract as you land, the opposing muscles, the hamstrings, act as brakes to stop your knee from hyperextending at the end movement of a stride." (Source) Add in hills, which force you to shorten your stride and work harder, and you'll feel those hammies even more. (Source)

Phew. I feel all smarty pants now.

Obviously, I didn't think up those things but it all reaffirms my belief that strength training is vital to running. I ran my half-marathon PR - a whopping 7 minutes off my previous time - with consistent strength training, as well as a a 10K PR at 7 weeks pregnant. And I did it all injury free.

For me, BODYPUMP has been a great way to incorporate weights into a running program - obviously - as it works the entire body in an hour and focuses on higher repetitions to tone and lengthen as opposed to bulk and build. But there are other ways.

What are yours?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week(end) spot

Lazy days of summer.

I'm not exactly sure who coined that phrase but I'd like to meet him. Mostly, so I can tell him he's a liar.

Our summer has been anything but lazy - traveling, training, BODYPUMP certification, Miles' birthday and generally fulfilling life's obligations has left our summer weekends full and exhausting. I felt so out of sorts as August rolled in that if someone offered me a free trip, I might have turned it down. Well, unless it was by myself and involved seeing my best girlfriend.
The start of the school year, always the unofficial end to summer, has seemed to bring a close to the non-stop social engagements. For the past few weeks, Mark and I have found ourselves with pockets of leisure time. I finally made it to the farmers market and had the chance to catch up with girlfriends.

We've been to the zoo, maximizing our membership, and wandered the aisles of Target with no time constrictions or worry. It was like we didn't have a care in the world only to find out what that really feels like this weekend.

My in-laws are kind enough to take Miles, overnight, one evening a month. Mark and I asked to cash in our August "voucher" on Saturday so that we could go to Taste of the Arts. It seemed like the kind of event we always talk about going to but never actually attend. There was live music, art displays and more than 30 food vendors offering tasting-size treats.

None of which I tasted. Because it was 900 degrees. I'm all about the arts and definitely about the tasting but neither Mark nor I thought we'd have a lot of fun trying tamales with sweat dripping down our backs. I'd save that for my long run. The sweat - not the tamales.

Instead, we found ourselves at a nearby bar (where no one knew our name), ordering burgers and downing fried pickles. I was a bit bummed that we didn't do the cool thing but this place had the best burger. It was on a pretzel bun, which was soft and chewy, and it was juicy and flavorful.

We finished up dinner at, oh, 6:30. Yeah, a night without baby doesn't mean you suddenly adopt a more respectable dinner hour. We figured that we could grab a redbox and still get me to bed on time.

Here's the thing about redox, though. No matter what you do - whether you reserve online or go to one in the middle of nowhere - you will have to wait at least five minutes as two people who have no idea what movie they want to see suddenly decide to select five. I became rather agitated and insisted that Mark take pictures of me until it was our turn. The photos were unremarkable but they did show off my $1 Gap shorts.

Just another good thing to happen this weekend.

How was your weekend?