Living and loving life in vermont

Welcome to Friday Free-For-All, where I talk about anything and everything on my mind.  This is usually just a great big brain dump, so brace yourselves!

Running is a cruel, vindictive mistress.  I took all of last week off from running due to general burnout.  Then, I didn’t run the first half of this week due to a vicious head-cold.  I finally made it to the treadmill last night with the goal of completing at least a 5k.  I started out nice and slow, but I knew I was responsible for cooking dinner, so I gradually picked up the pace throughout the course of the run in order to get done and get home faster.  About 1 mile in, I noticed that my right groin/hip was a little twinge-y, but I carried on, focusing on good form, sure that it was just complaining about running again after an extended break.  I finished with a respectable 5k time of 29:40, and went home, where my hip continued to complain.  I stretched and rolled and went to bed, worried.  Sure enough, I woke up this morning and it’s still not happy with me.  I wouldn’t call it a full-blown injury (very minor pain), but it could definitely progress if I’m not careful.  This is really poor timing.  I’m supposed to run a half marathon in 9 days.  I know it’s probably my fault for not taking it as easy as I should have after not running for a week and a half, but it feels a teeny bit like the Running Gods are punishing me for taking time off.  Now I’m worried because this weekend was my last chance to get a double digit run in before the half next weekend, and I’m not sure I a) should even try to do it, or b) would be able to even if I do attempt it.  I’m planning to do some gentle yoga and more stretching tonight to see if that helps, and I may put my long run off until Sunday to give my leg a chance to figure itself out.

Ben’s bachelor party is this weekend.  He is very excited.  His cousin Will is even making the trip over from Rochester, NY, which is about a 7 hour drive on a good day.  This means that I’ll have Saturday night all to myself.  I’ll most likely be home in my PJs drinking wine and playing video games, because I’m not actually having a bachelorette party.  What’s that you say?  How come I’m not having one?  Quite frankly, that’s just not my scene.  I don’t need a “final hoorah” before getting married because I know that getting married isn’t going to prevent me from having fun and seeing my girlfriends when I want to, and the whole “let’s go to the bars and get wasted” thing is really not my scene anymore.  Not to mention the fact that my schedule is jam-packed right now, so trying to add another official “event” into the mix would stress me right the fuck out.  So yeah.  I might just call up one of my girlfriends and see if she wants to watch Disney movies in our PJs while eating ice cream.  Definitely more my speed.

antisocial

Bagels with cream cheese are one of the most perfect foods on this earth.  I’m currently eating a whole wheat bagel with plain cream cheese, and I’m pretty much in romantic love with it right now.  Ben had better watch out–I might decide to marry this bagel instead of him.  Just kidding.  Imma eat this bagel.

Have you ever dealt with an injury/strain right before a big race?  Any advice?

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

30 Day Push-up Challenge

I’m starting something new today–a 30 day push-up challenge.  As a runner, I focus a lot on core and lower body strength, and not so much on upper body.  As a result, my arms, shoulders, and upper back are quite wimpy.  I think this is a fairly common issue for runners.  So I’ve decided to focus a bit more on full-body fitness for the next month, but I wanted to start small, since I’m pretty dang weak.

I found this great 30 day pushup challenge for beginners graphic after a very brief Google search.  I like that it starts out with only 3 push-ups, because in all honesty, I’m not even sure I can do three actual, non-modified push-ups.  And it works up to doing 20, which I think is a reasonable goal for a beginner like myself.

Photo Oct 23, 6 43 31 AM

Once I complete the challenge, I hope to incorporate more upper body workouts into my weekly routine, whether that’s through Body Pump classes at my gym, or dumbbell workouts at home.  I know there are all kinds of arm workouts on the Tone It Up website that seem pretty varied and challenging.

The short term goal here is to have nicer arms for the wedding since I’m wearing a strapless dress (yes, I know the wedding is only a month away, but I think that’s long enough to see some improvement).  And the long term goal is to be ready for the #nardichallenge at my first runDisney race, the Wine and Dine half marathon in November 2015.  Also, one of my ultimate fitness benchmarks that I hope to meet someday is being able to do at least one pull-up.  I would be over the moon if I could do that.

Can you do a “regular” push-up?  How many can you do in a row?

Do you find that, as a runner, you skimp on upper body workouts?

Product Review: Energy Bits

Please note:  I was not asked to write this review and I am not being compensated in any way for this post.  I purchased this product for my own use.

I mentioned recently that I got some samples of Energy Bits from Cape Cod Runner.  I’ve seen these little green pills all over the internet, and know a lot of runners who use them regularly, so I was mighty curious to see what they’re all about.

For the price of $5, I received (2) 30 tab sample packs, so I was able to try them out on two different runs.  I appreciated this, because sometimes once isn’t really enough to tell if something works or if it’s just a fluke.

What are Energy Bits?

From the website:

Made from 100% organicallly grown, NON GMO spirulina algae and loaded with 40 nutrients, ENERGYbits® algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%) all for just one calorie per tab. Spirulina has been endorsed by the United Nations and Olympic gold medalists for decades. Now it’s your turn.

ENERGYbits® algae tabs are your answer for raw energy and health. All naturally too. With just one calorie per tab, ENERGYbits® will stop your cravings, slay your hunger and give you a steady stream of mental and physical energy all day or night. They may even make you want to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but we think that’s best left to the guys in the red capes and blue tights. 

Remarkably, ENERGYbits® have just one ingredient, spirulina algae which is a super hero in the world of super foods. Spirulina’s nutritional pedigree is so impressive that The World Bank, NASA and Olympic athletes have all declared spirulina to be the most nutritious food in the entire world. Why? Well for starters, it effortlessly and naturally boosts your energy like an energy drink, energy bar or coffee  but without the downside of chemicals, caffeine, calories, gluten or sugar. Gram per gram, there is no denser source of nutrition than spirulina algae.

Research done by NASA showed that that 1 kg of spirulina had the nutritional  equivalent of 1000 kg of fruits and vegetables.  That’s a lot of groceries! But if an endorsement by NASA isn’t enough to convince you of the health benefits you’ll get from ENERGYbits® spirulina, consider that many International Health Organizations including the United Nations have hailed spirulina as one of the “Greatest Superfoods on Earth.” Don’t worry if you haven’t heard about this super food yet. You will.

energy-bits-label

I have to say, I’m naturally skeptical about so-called “superfoods.”  And the website’s overly peppy tone made me extra skeptical.  However, I really liked that the product is made from a single, organic ingredient, when so many running fuels are made with tons of sugar and chemicals, so I really wanted to like Energy Bits.

As I said above, I tried the bits twice; once before a tempo run, and once before a 10k “race” (I was racing against myself!).  The first time, I could say that they were pretty effective.  I usually have an afternoon snack at about 3:30 or 4 o’clock if I know I’m going to the gym after work, but I’m typically still pretty hungry by the time I finish my workout.  I had my usual snack before leaving work, and swallowed a serving of bits on my way to the gym.  I was maybe slightly less hungry afterwards than I would be normally, and I felt pretty good during my tempo run.

The second time I tried the bits, I ate a fairly normal pre-run breakfast of a whole wheat English Muffin with butter, and two cups of coffee.  If I weren’t going to take the bits, I probably would have put sunflower seed butter on my muffin.  Instead, I swallowed another 30 bit serving of bits and headed out.  I had pretty good energy levels during the first half of the run, but I was also running downhill the first half.  I started to flag in the second half and contemplated taking the Gu I had brought along, but since I was running for a PR, I didn’t want to slow down.  I was pretty exhausted by the end, but not overly hungry.

Pros:

  • 100% real food–no sugar or additives
  • Organic
  • No stomach upset (but then, I don’t have a sensitive stomach to begin with)
  • No funky taste when swallowing
  • Seem to be at least as effective as other running fuels I’ve tried

Cons:

  • EXPENSIVE!  A bag of 1000 bits (33 adult servings) is $115, or roughly $3.48 per serving.  Even with the 25% off codes that Ambassadors can provide, that’s still $86.25 per bag and $2.61 per serving, which is more than I typically pay for Gu or other fuel.  And to pay $86 up front is too much for me
  • Swallowing 30 pills is hard enough pre-run, but there’s simply no way I could take another serving in the middle of a run or race.  I’d have to come to a complete stop, and even then, swallowing that many pills when I’m breathing hard wouldn’t be pretty.  So really, these would only be good pre-run for me, and there are plenty of other healthy, real food options I can have before a run

So do they work?  Based on my two trial runs, I’d say yes.  But I don’t feel like they work any better or faster than other forms of fuel I’ve taken.  And trying to swallow 30 pills in the middle of a race seems really silly to me.  AND I’m simply not willing to pay for them.  I think if you were somebody with a very sensitive stomach, or who is really careful about what goes into your body, then Energy Bits might be the right choice for you.  I personally think that I could find other, cheaper options that are still relatively natural, like Honey Stinger products, and pay less money.

Have you ever tried Energy Bits?

What’s your go-to running fuel?

Manic Monday – 10/20/14

Welcome to another edition of Manic Monday, where I recap the previous week, and lay out a plan for the upcoming week.

An alternate title for this week’s Manic Monday post could be “The Week That Wasn’t.”  I worked out once.  ONCE.  And didn’t run at all.  I could blame it on lots of things, but I think the overarching theme is the burnout I’ve been experiencing lately, and being totally overwhelmed by everything I’ve got going on.  However, I’m not going to let this week bother me.  Overall, I’ve had a strong training cycle, and one missed week isn’t going to totally derail me.

Monday (Scheduled Elliptical and Bike)

I did 20 minutes on the arc trainer at level 8 and a 25 minute hill workout on the bike at level 10.  I was sweaty and wobbly by the end, which is exactly what I was going for.  I also did some squats and bridges for my glutes and hammies.

Photo Oct 13, 5 54 19 PM

Tuesday (Scheduled Rest Day)

I had my first dress fitting!  I really like the seamstress, and I can’t wait to see the finished product!  While the alterations won’t cost as much as I feared they would, they’re still pretty pricey.  The good news is, she didn’t pressure me to do anything I didn’t want (ahem, bustling).

Wednesday (Scheduled 7 x 400)

I totally blew this workout off.  This is probably no surprise considering Wednesday’s post, but I just was.not.feeling.it.  I was tired and cranky and just wanted to go home after work.  In retrospect, a good hard workout might have helped my mood, but I would not be swayed.  I have to say, this was just what I needed.  I went home, put on sweatpants, and hung out with Ben and his parents for a few hours.  It’s amazing how much longer the evening seems when you go straight home from work!  We barbecued some ribs, and the weather was incredibly perfect–warm with a strong, almost tropically warm breeze.  We stayed out until almost 8, sipping beers and chatting.  I also called my mom and my friend Krissy who lives in SF, and went to bed feeling refreshed.

Thursday (Scheduled 5 Easy Miles)

When I wrote this schedule, I completely forgot two things:  first, I was responsible for dinner on Thursday night.  Second, I had a wedding makeup trial scheduled for 5pm.  So yeah, 5 miles didn’t happen.  I thought about getting in some lunch miles, but it was pouring rain and I just didn’t feel like dealing with soaking wet hair all afternoon.

Friday (Scheduled Rest Day)

I went out to dinner with my friend, Emily.  We haven’t been able to get together in a few weeks, so it was great to see her.  With a toddler at home, Emily doesn’t get out much, so we savored our evening with dinner, drinks, and shopping.  And before I went home, I popped into Orange Leaf for a little fro-yo treat.  Once I got home, I immediately put on sweatpants, and Ben and I hunkered down for the evening, watching movies and playing video games.

Saturday (Scheduled 10 Miles LSD)

I woke up feeling a cold coming on, which I’ve been sort of expecting, since Ben has been pretty ill for the last week or so.  We ended up driving to Montpelier to have lunch with my parents instead of dinner, and we went to Positive Pie.  It’s a great place with a funky atmosphere, lots of local beers on tap, and excellent pizza.  It was great to see my folks, and nail down some wedding details.  It’s getting really real!  The rest of the day was spent lounging around the house, since it was rainy and cold.

Sunday (Scheduled Rest/Yoga)

I had fully intended to get up and run after Saturday’s laze-fest, but I woke up feeling even worse, and since it was still cold and rainy, I decided that it would be better to just take the day and not run.  That being said, I didn’t want to totally give in to the sickness, so I spent a few hours cleaning with Ben’s mom.  Unfortunately, being in a dusty knee-wall for several hours didn’t do much for my cold (surprise, surprise).

So yeah.  Not a lot of “training” happened this week, but like I said above, I’m pretty ok with it.  I wasn’t feeling running earlier in the week, and I didn’t want to push it while I was feeling ill this weekend.  I’m still not feeling super hot, so I’m going to take today off as well, in the hopes that I’ll be up to my hill repeats tomorrow.

This Week:

  • Monday:  Rest
  • Tuesday:  Hill repeats
  • Wednesday:  Rest (Meeting with our Justice of the Peace!)
  • Thursday:  5 easy miles
  • Friday:  Rest
  • Saturday:  At least 10 miles
  • Sunday:  Yoga/Rest

When was the last time you blew off a week of training?

How long is your longest run before a half marathon?  Last time my longest was 10 miles, and it looks like that’s what it will be again this time…

Welcome to Friday Free-For-All, where I talk about anything and everything on my mind.  This is usually just a great big brain dump, so brace yourselves!

New posting schedule.  Some of you may have already noticed, but I’m going to be backing off on the posting a bit.  With the wedding slowly but surely creeping up on me, and the half looming, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I don’t want to be posting a lot of junk for the sake of having a post every day.  For the foreseeable future, I’ll be on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting schedule, so at the very least you’ll be getting Manic Monday training updates, Friday Free-For-All brain dumps, and a little bit of random stuff thrown in.  If the spirit moves me, I may post more often, but no promises.

Tonight is Ladies’ Night!  My friend Emily has a 16 month-old daughter and doesn’t get out much.  We try to have lunch once a week, but her schedule changes often, and I haven’t seen her in a few weeks.  Tonight we are going to get dinner and drink adult beverages and go shopping.  It’s going to be excellent.

I get to see my parents this weekend!  We were supposed to go stay with my parents last weekend, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to cancel at the last minute.  I haven’t seen my dad since the first week of September and I haven’t seen my mom since we went wedding dress shopping, so I’m really excited to see them.  We’re going to have dinner and drinks on Saturday night, and talk about wedding stuff.  Yay!

Today is the last day of my #100HappyDays photo challenge.  I have to say, I’m happy this is ending.  At first, it was pretty effortless and spontaneous.  It was on my mind, it was new and exciting, and I had no trouble finding at least one thing every day to take a photo of (and remembering to post it).  However, as time went on, it was more of a burden than a fun activity.  I started missing days and being annoyed that I “had” to remember to post a photo.  That being said, I sort of enjoyed the challenge too.  Starting January 1, I think I’ll be doing Project 365.  I tried it once and stopped after 5 days, but that was before there was an iPhone app, which I think will make it easier.  Plus, I think it’s a really cool idea to have one picture every day, regardless of whether it’s “happy” or not.  That way, it can be a more accurate reflection of where you were and what you were up to at that time.

Have you ever done an extended photo challenge like #100HappyDays?  How did it go?

What are you up to this weekend?

 

 

Looking Ahead

Now that I’m most of the way through the training cycle for half marathon #2, I’m feeling very introspective.  This summer, and really, most of this entire year, has been very run-centric.  I’ve logged a lot of training hours, covered a lot of miles, and spent a LOT of money on gear, fuel, and race entries.  I’ve spent countless hours reading running blogs and articles on Runner’s World.  I’ve made an incredible group of friends that I know I will meet In Real Life and race with some day.  And I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I know I can do hard things.  I can stick to a training plan.  I can achieve my goals.  I can run 13.1 miles in 80 degree weather, 90% humidity, and full sun.  I can keep going when all I want is to stop and rest.  And that’s pretty amazing.

Best picture ever--can you spot my mama?

I’ve learned a lot about running, too.  The thing at the top of my list right now is this:  long distance running requires a lot of time, and I’m not sure I want to make it a priority anymore.  I’m reasonably sure that I will never run a marathon.  I’ve said this before here, so it shouldn’t be that shocking.  But at this particular moment, I’m feeling pretty burned out on distance running in general.  My shorter training runs are feeling great, even the “tough” ones like hill repeats and 400s.  I can tell I’m getting faster and stronger.  But I’m starting to realize that I’ve really not been looking forward to long runs.  I’ve been putting them off, rescheduling them over and over, missing and making them up later, and pretty much just not wanting to devote my weekend mornings to running for multiple hours.

So not me right now

So not me right now

I’ve been doing what I need to do to get me through this race, but I don’t want to keep forcing myself to do something I’m not enjoying.  It’s starting to feel like an obligation rather than a gift.  I’m not saying I’ll never run another half marathon (in fact, there are several I want to do next year), but I just need some time to get my distance mojo back.  I’ve run two half marathons this year, and I think that’s plenty.  So after the half on November 2, I’ll be backing off on “long runs” and working on shorter distances.  Maybe focus on 5 ks and 10 ks for a while.  Do more speed work.  Do more lifting and yoga.  Read.  Watch TV.  Drink wine.  Ski.  Sleep.  Have a social life.  Hang out with my soon-to-be-husband.  All of the things that I haven’t been doing as much because I’ve been running long and “training” so much.  I think if I keep my fitness level up through the winter, I can maybe work with some shorter training cycles next year for longer races and not get this burned out feeling.

rungryWhile time is a huge factor in this decision, another factor is my overall fitness and health.  I love running and I know it’s good for me, but when I’m in training I eat A LOT.  I’m hungry ALL.THE.TIME–a painful, not-to-be-ignored hunger.  I understand that this is normal and good–I need the energy to run.  However, this has caused me to keep the extra 10 or so pounds that I put on last year.  I’ve talked about this a few times here, but I’m definitely not comfortable with where I am currently, and I obviously need to change what I’m doing if I want to see results.  I’m very curious to see if backing off on the long distance/endurance training and focusing on overall fitness with cardio, lifting, yoga and other activities will help me get back to where I was/where I want to be.  If I’m not so focused on completing specific training runs, I’ll have more wiggle room in my schedule for classes like Body Pump and Zumba, and more opportunity to just pop on a yoga video if that’s what I feel like doing.

So, yeah.  Distance running and I will be taking a break after November 2.  I feel good about this decision.  Like I said, it’s not a permanent breakup, I just need some time.  Sorry, distance running.  It’s not you, it’s me.

How do you deal with burnout?

How many long races (longer than 10k) do you typically run per year?

Do you suffer from debilitating runger when training?

Manic Monday – 10/13/14

Welcome to another edition of Manic Monday, where I recap the previous week, and lay out a plan for the upcoming week.

Monday (Scheduled Rest Day)

I rested in the sense that I didn’t go to the gym, but it wasn’t a restful day.  Work is still really busy, and then after work I ran all over town trying to find wedding shoes.  In the end, I just decided to order them online.  I’ll be sporting these babies under my wedding dress :)  Cute, comfy, and warm-ish for my late November wedding.

SilverWomensGlitterClassics

Tuesday (Scheduled 40 Minute Tempo Run)

I knew when I was typing this schedule out last week that this was a bit of a stretch, but I put it out there anyway to try and stay on top of my training.  But by the time my haircut was over, it was too late to get to the gym, do my 40 minutes at tempo, and get home at a reasonable hour, so I just headed home.  I did, however, do 30 squats and some arm stuff, so it wasn’t a total rest day.

Wednesday (Scheduled Bike and Elliptical)

I decided to make up Tuesday’s tempo run on the treadmill.  I used Energy Bits for the first time (ordered some samples from Cape Cod Runner Stacey), but I think it’s too soon to say if they helped or not.  The run ended up not really being super tempo-y.  I ran for 40 minutes at a 10 min/mile average pace, which is technically faster than race pace, but it felt pretty comfortable the whole time.

Photo Oct 08, 6 29 16 PM

 

Thursday (Scheduled 5 Mile Easy Run)

I was responsible for cooking dinner, so I ended up just going to the grocery store and going home.  I intended to do a few strength/balance exercises for my legs, but video games won out.

Friday (Scheduled Rest Day)

I guess I could have made up my 5 miles today, but instead I went downtown to find a strapless bra to wear under my wedding dress.  This cost an arm and a leg, which was super annoying (remember when I talked about how frustrating bra shopping is?), so I just went home after.  Ben’s folks invited some friends over, and we had a nice shindig.

Coco the Beer Dog

Coco the Beer Dog

Saturday (Scheduled Virtual 10k Race)

After our shindig on Friday night, sleep carried the morning.  We slept in, ate a big breakfast, and proceeded to be productive.  I did laundry and cleaned our room while Ben did homework.  On Saturday night, we went over to the Johnsons’ house for dinner and had some more libations.

Sunday (Scheduled Rest Day)

I decided not to pay the $25 fee for the virtual race I was considering because with our wedding and the holidays rapidly approaching, I need to start cutting back on some unnecessary expenses.  That being said, I decided to treat the run like a race.  I fueled up and geared up as if I were actually going to be running with others in a race setting.  I pushed it pretty hard and ended up with an unofficial 10k PR of 58:31, which is two and a half minutes faster than my last virtual 10k, so I felt pretty awesome about that.

Photo Oct 12, 12 18 03 PM

 

I just realized I’m about 3 weeks out from the Half Marathon–yikes!  With wedding stuff ramping up, I’ve got a lot more appointments and obligations during the week that are starting to take away from my training schedule.  I’m hoping that I can stick with it as much as possible, but I’m starting to get a wee bit nervous…

This Week:

  • Monday:  Bike, Elliptical and Legs
  • Tuesday:  Dress fitting! (Rest)
  • Wednesday:  7 x 400
  • Thursday:  5 miles easy<–I have a wedding makeup trial at 5 pm so I’m not sure this will happen…
  • Friday:  Rest/ladies’ night
  • Saturday:  10 miles
  • Sunday:  Rest/Yoga

Do you use Energy Bits?

How do you stay on top of training when life gets busy?

 

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