Living and loving life in vermont

I Heart Hill Repeats

I know, I know.  Based on the title of this post, you now think I’m crazy.  And I get that.  Most runners don’t really like hill repeats.  They don’t typically include them in their workout routine.  But you know what?  I LOVE hill repeats, and I’m not afraid to say it.

Hill repeats make me feel like a badass.  They make me stronger.  They make me faster.  They make me feel like a runner.  And they’re a great metaphor for life.  Yes, the uphills suck.  They hurt.  They’re hard.  Looking up that hill, it can seem to go on forever.  Your lungs are burning and you don’t know how much more you can take.  But after the uphill, you get the down.  You can relax, cruise, speed along.  The downhill is so much fun, you can actually forget how sucky the uphill was.  And that’s life–you take the good with the bad, the up with the down.  That’s how it goes.

Photo Jul 29, 5 45 32 AMYesterday, I ran hill repeats on Battery Street.  I’ve talked about this hill before.  It’s kind of a doozy.  Usually, I run here in the mornings, because it can be a zoo in the evenings, with tourists and cyclists clogging up the sidewalk.  But I went last night at about 5, and lo and behold, I’m not the only runner going up and down, up and down.  There’s another woman running hill repeats.

She’s faster than me–skimming up the hill, lightly touching down, almost flying UPHILL.  She’s leaner than me–she looks like a runner.  She’s going further than me–up the hill, into the park, and back around and down.  And here’s the kicker–she’s older than me.  Significantly older.  At least 50, maybe even 60.  And she is freaking FIT!  She’s a boss.

For about 2 minutes, as I was huffing and puffing up that hill, I started feeling really bad about myself.  I don’t look like a runner.  I’m not fast.  I’m not graceful.  I don’t skim;  I plod.  I suck.  I’m a horrible runner.   I started thinking that maybe I’d just cut this workout short and go home.  But then I turned around and hit the downhill.  My breathing eased up, and I got to thinking.

I am here.  I’m running hills.  I just started running a few months ago, but look at me!  It’s a bit of a miracle that I’m even doing this, running up and down this hill.  I could be sitting on my butt drinking a beer and playing Skyrim.  But I’m HERE, running UP and DOWN this beast of a hill.  I could be that lady some day.  If I keep doing what I’m doing, someday I’ll be that 50-something woman breezing uphill and leaving the 20-somethings in the dust.  YES!

And then I turned around and went back up the hill.  I finished my 5 hill repeats, and ran back home.  I even went an extra block just to hit 3 miles.  And I felt AMAZING.  Sweaty, exhausted, and blissful.  So thank you, mystery runner.  You have inspired me to stick with it, so that someday I can be as badass as you.

Photo Aug 19, 5 39 50 PM

How do you feel about hill repeats?

 

Manic Monday – 08/18/14

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

Week one of half marathon training is in the books.  Things didn’t go exactly according to the schedule, but I made it work.  In addition to being my first week of training, this was also Ben’s first week on his new schedule, meaning I got to have the car.  Meaning I didn’t do my usual walking to and from work.  I’m disappointed that my overall activity level is down, but once we move to Underhill, that will be the norm anyway, so I need to adjust.

Monday (Scheduled Cross-Training)

This turned into a total rest day.  Between not walking to and from work, and visiting my friends Aimee and Andrew and their new baby Axel, I didn’t make the time for anything.

Tuesday (Scheduled 4 x 400s)

Another total rest day.  No walking and no running.  We saw Guardians of the Galaxy after work, and then had a couple of beers to celebrate the beginning of the next chapter of Ben’s career, because his Teacher Apprenticeship Program (TAP) started on Wednesday.

Wednesday (Scheduled Cross-Training)

Since I missed my speed workout on Tuesday, I headed to the gym after work.  Unfortunately, it didn’t go well.  I don’t know if it was because I had my afternoon snack pretty close to my workout, or if I was tired or what, but I struggled.  I did a warm up mile, working up to a 10 min/mile pace, and then tried to do my 400s.  I did my first at 9:16 pace, and felt like I was going to die.  I ended up walking all of my breaks, and did my other 400s at 9:16, 9:31 and 9:31.  I was disappointed that I had to walk so much, but at least I got it done.

Thursday (Scheduled 3 miles Easy)

Since I did a hard speed workout on Wednesday night, I made Thursday a rest day.  No walking or running.

Friday (Scheduled Rest Day)

Total rest day, other than a charity bocce tourament, which was SUPER fun. And of course, I failed at blogging and didn’t take any pictures.

Saturday (Scheduled 4 miles LSD)

The weather was absolutely perfect–60 degrees, cool, and breezy, so I got my 4 miles in no problem.  The place we house sit is on a dirt road, so it was really pretty and I was really happy to get out and run.  And then it rained the rest of the day, so I was REALLY happy I got up and got it done!

Sunday (Scheduled Rest Day)

Rest day.  After we got home, I spent a few hours packing while Ben did homework.  And then I spent a few hours playing video games while Ben did more homework.  It was great.

The goal for this week is to do all three of my scheduled runs–no more skipping!  We’re also going to pack up the TV/DVD player/PS3 and drop them off at Ben’s parents’ house this week so that we have less distractions (ahem, Skyrim) to keep us from packing and cleaning (and running).  We’ve only got two weeks left, and we’ve still got a LOT to do.

What’s your main goal/focus this week?

 

Friday Free-For-All (Ten)

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!

We’re house-sitting this weekend.  Back to the house in Cambridge, where we help take care of Fran (lovely elderly lady) and Annie (Jack Russell terrier with hilarious overbite).  We’ve been house-sitting here a lot this year, and it will be a nice, relaxing weekend where we don’t have to do much except cook a few meals, hang out with a cool lady and dog, watch cable, and soak in a hot tub.  And get paid for it.  Yeah, it’s a sweet gig.

IMG_1213-0.JPG

I’ve decided to save up for a new laptop.  My current laptop is almost 8 years old, takes a half hour to boot up, and crashes frequently.  We have a desktop, but I would like to be able to blog while watching a movie or hanging out downstairs instead of being chained to a desk.  Ben just got a Chromebook for school, and it’s really cool, but not really suited to my needs.  I NEED a machine I can put iTunes on (I have a lot of music, an iPod, and an iPhone), and would work well with Dropbox.  Any recommendations for a reliable, inexpensive machine?

Mickey the truck is back in action!  Our adorable, white, 1987 Toyota pickup truck is once again road-worthy.  We replaced the clutch, got new tires, and fixed a headlight, and it passed inspection.  This means that Ben and I will each have our own vehicle again.  This is going to be instrumental in the success of our move back to Underhill.  Last fall, we only had one car, so we were constantly having to borrow cars from friends and family to get ourselves to work.  Now, we won’t have to rely on anyone else to get where we need to go.

Not our truck, but just like it

Not our truck, but just like it

This post is late because I was at a bocce tournament all day Yes, bocce. It was a fundraiser for the Counseling Services of Addison County, and my whole company participated. My team won our first two games, but were defeated in out final game? So we didn’t make it to the championship round. Even so, it was an awesome day for a good cause. Also, please ignore any formatting weirdness since I’m finishing this post on my phone!

Also, don’t forget to enter my True Citrus giveaway!

Have you ever played bocce?
What are you up to this weekend?

I am so excited to host my first-ever giveaway!  I have used True Citrus products on and off for several years, and I genuinely like them.  I reached out to the company to see if they might be willing to provide some samples for a giveaway, and their Director of Digital Marketing graciously sent me four different flavors to give away.

What is it?

True Citrus makes a variety of all natural products for giving your water a little extra oomph!  The TrueLemon, TrueLime, TrueGrapefruit and TrueOrange products are 100% natural, and do not contain any added sugars.  All you get is great flavor!  They are also Gluten and Preservative free and zero calories per serving.  And because the crystals are actually just crystallized fruit juice, you also get 25% of your daily value of Vitamin C!

The True Lemonade products are a bit different–more like Crystal Light powder, but sweetened with all-natural Stevia instead of aspartame or Splenda.  True Lemonade products contain 10 calories per serving, and are also Gluten and Preservative free.  AND they provide 100% of your daily Vitamin C!

You simply mix the packets into your water and voila!  You get a light, tasty drink.

In the past, I had only exclusively tried TrueLemon, TrueOrange and TrueLime, so before I received the giveaway samples, I went out and bought some True Lemonade and True Lime Black Cherry Lemonade so I could try and review them for you.

True Citrus Review

Photo Aug 14, 8 18 22 AM

I’ve already recommended these products to a few of my runner friends out there who struggle with hydration.  Some people just don’t like to drink plain water, and some times we just want something a little more interesting.  Adding a squeeze of fresh fruit juice to your water can help make it more appealing, but sometimes (like at work or on-the-go), fresh fruit simply isn’t practical.  The packets are sturdy and shelf stable, so you can just throw a few in your purse or keep a box in your snack drawer at work (everyone has one of those right?  It’s not just me?).

Personally, I hatehatehate the flavor of the artificial sweeteners used in products like Crystal Light, which is one of the reasons I like True Citrus so much–the TrueLemon, TrueLime, and TrueOrange crystals ACTUALLY taste like you just squeezed some fresh fruit juice into your water.  There’s no added sweetness, and no weird aftertaste.  Just fruity goodness.

Also, the crystals dissolve easily, so you don’t end up with any grainy or powdery stuff floating around in your water.

True Lemonade Review

Photo Aug 11, 10 47 14 AM

As I stated above, until this giveaway opportunity, I’d never tried the True Lemonade products.  I was interested, but nervous, because like I already said, I dislike the taste of artificial sweeteners.

Personally, I think both the True Lemonade and True Black Cherry Limeade were too sweet when mixed according to package instructions.  And even though the sweetener is Stevia and not Splenda or Aspartame, it still has a bit of that “artificial” flavor.  That being said, when I diluted the powder (I used 22 oz water instead of the recommended 16), it was perfect.  Not too sweet, very refreshing, and no more “fake” taste.  I preferred the True Lemonade to the True Black Cherry Limeade personally, but both were tasty, and MUCH better than Crystal Light.  And since the True Lemonade/True Limeade products are all natural, they are much better for you than Crystal Light too.

Now, for the giveaway…

There are 4 different flavors, so the winners will get to have their preference in the order they’re chosen.  Good luck, and I hope you like True Citrus as much as I do!  All you need to do is leave a comment below telling me what your favorite water addition is.  Winners will be selected using a random number generator.  The giveaway is open until 08/22/14 at midnight, EST.

If you aren’t a winner but still want to try True Citrus, you can buy through the website, or use their store locator gizmo–there are 3 Hannaford supermarkets within a 5 mile radius of my apartment that carry it!

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  I asked the company for some samples to give away to accompany my review of the products.  I was not compensated in any way for writing this post, and all opinions are my own.

 

This is week one of my 12-week training program for Half Marathon #2.  Last time around, I sort of cobbled together a training plan of my own, because I wanted to include plenty of rest days, and I didn’t want to be running 5-6 times per week.  This time around is no different.  I started with Hal Higdon’s intermediate half marathon training plan, and fiddled with it to make it work a little better for me.

The original intermediate plan calls for running 4 times per week, with only one rest day, and speed work every week.  While I believe that speed work is important, I also really like my hill repeats, so I wanted to incorporate those, too.  And I wanted 2 rest days per week.  Maybe I’m lazy, but I just CAN’T commit to working out 6 days a week.  I just can’t.  I also had to move the 5k race to make my September Color Run fit.

So basically, this is what the plan looks like:

Half

Running:  Tuesdays will be alternating 400s, hill repeats, and tempo runs.  Thursdays will be easy runs, and Saturdays will be long, slow distance.  The 5k race will be the Color Run, and the 10k race will most likely be Jost Running’s Oktoberfest–the medal is a bottle opener!  So fun!

Cross-Training:  Mondays and Wednesdays will be cross-training (hopefully Body Pump and Yoga, respectively), with rest days on Fridays and Sundays.  I may throw in yoga on Sundays every once in a while too, to help sore legs after long runs.  I would also like to keep up with daily push ups, squats, and hip strengthening exercises.

Obviously, things may change depending on what we’ve got going on, but I’m hoping to stick to this schedule more closely than I did with my last one.  My last training cycle was a lot longer, so I had more wiggle room for skipping long runs and making them up later.

I’m a little nervous about this training cycle because for most of it, we’ll be living in Underhill with Ben’s parents.  The area where they live is not exactly conducive to outdoor running (although, they do have hill repeats covered–Harvey Road is a BEAST!)  This means that most of my running will likely be done on a treadmill or indoor track, which is a surefire recipe for boredom.  I’m hoping that my hunger for a sub-2:30 half will keep me motivated and help me push through.

How do you train for a race?  Do you pick an existing plan, or make your own?

#Chewsday Challenge Wrap-Up

A few weeks ago, I recommitted myself to the #Chewsday Challenge.  As discussed, my original plan was perhaps a little too ambitious, so this time around I decided to add in one challenge at a time, with the goal of slowly and realistically building toward overall healthier eating.  The challenge for Week 1 was no booze on work nights.  Week 2, I added in fruits and/or veggies with every meal.  Week 3, I started only one serving of treat per day.  And last week, I added in protein with every meal.  I’ve now been at this for a solid month (more, if you count my first, half-hearted attempt), and I’m ready to let go of #Chewsday (and I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about my eating challenges).  So, I’ve done one final assessment of what worked, what didn’t, and how I plan to move forward.

How did it go?

  • No booze on work nights has become pretty much habit.  I may have a beer here or a glass of wine there, but on the whole, I’m not really drinking on week nights anymore, and that’s probably the way it will stay.  I don’t need the extra calories and I don’t need any more trouble sleeping than I already have.
  • Fruits or veggies with every meal will likely always be a challenge for me.  I’m worlds better than I used to be, but I still struggle.  I have a few more tricks in my arsenal, and I am eating some veggies that I used to despise, so I’ll take that as a win.  I will do my best to continue to incorporate more fruits and veg, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I have a veggie-less meal.
  • One serving of treat per day is easier some days than others.  I really like having my bag of chocolate covered sunflower seeds in my desk.  They’re a satisfying treat on multiple levels, and I feel like I don’t eat as many of them as I would other sweet options.  On the whole, I think I’m more mindful about reaching for treats than I used to be, but this will definitely also always be a struggle.
  • Protein with every meal is not as easy as I’d hoped.  It requires planning ahead (is the chicken thawed? are the beans soaking?), which Ben and I are not always great at.  However, on the days I followed through with this, I noticed that I ate less overall and definitely did less snacking, so I plan to at least attempt to keep up with this.

So that’s it for the #Chewsday Challenge, at least for me.  I won’t be posting any more weekly updates or issuing any more challenges.  But I will DEFINITELY continue to work on these four points above, because they are working for me.  And of course, I’ll be doing periodic check-ins with my accountabilibuddies, cause they’re hilarious and awesome.

What’s your number one healthy eating tip/trick?

Manic Monday – 08/11/14

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

Monday (Scheduled Cross-Training Day)

Walked to and from work (~4.4 miles), and did 16 squats and 17 push ups using the Runtastic apps.  I also did some clam shells and leg lifts for my hips.

Tuesday (Scheduled Speed Work)

I got up before work and did some modified fartleks.  Basically, I ran down to the waterfront for a warm up (~1 mile), and found a flat stretch where I could sprint an unknown distance (100m? 200m? who knows), then jog back and repeat.  I did this 4 times, and I DEFINITELY gave it too much gas during the sprints.  I actually had to walk up part of the hill on the way home because I was so spent.  I’m gonna blame it on donating blood last week.  I also walked to and from work (~4.4 miles).

Photo Aug 05, 6 02 34 AM

Wednesday (Scheduled Cross-Training Day)

I walked to and from work (~4.4 miles).  After work, I did a 30 minute Yoga for Runners video I found on youtube.  I’ve been feeling really stressed and overwhelmed lately, and after Lauren’s post last week on why she practices yoga, I knew I needed some yoga in my life, stat.  It’s been almost a year since I did anything other than a few asanas on my own, and it felt WONDERFUL!  It wasn’t the best sequence ever, but it was still awesome to practice again.  I’ve decided that from now on, Wednesdays are yoga days.  My gym usually has a class on Wednesday nights, but if I can’t make it to class, I’ll find a youtube video.

Photo Aug 06, 5 13 44 PM

Thursday (Scheduled 4 miles easy)

I wasn’t able to get myself up before work, so I headed out along the bike path after work.  I wasn’t really feeling it, and the waterfront was super crowded, but I got it done, and spent a decent amount of time stretching after.  I also walked to and from work (~4.4 miles).

Photo Aug 07, 6 16 16 PM

Friday (Scheduled Rest Day)

Other than walking to and from work (~4.4 miles), this was a total rest day.  We drove over to Maine to stay with Ben’s Grammy for the weekend before the wedding.

Saturday (Scheduled 7 miles LSD)

I’d like to say I got my long run in, but that would be a lie.  We were exhausted, so we slept in till 10.  By the time “brunch” was over (bacon, eggs, toast and a beer at noon), I knew I wasn’t going to make it out for 7 miles.  We swam, we read, and before dinner I went out for a few miles around Little Ossippee Lake.  It was extremely humid, because a big rain storm had just blown through, and considering what I’d been eating and drinking, I was pleasantly surprised by my 3.5 miles.

Photo Aug 09, 4 27 22 PM

Sunday (Scheduled Rest Day)

We slept in again since we stayed up late playing cards with Grammy (she wins EVERY TIME!).  Around 2 we headed over to Portland to meet up with some friends for a drink before the wedding.  The wedding was really nice–the actual chuppah and ceremony were held outside at a park right across the street from the shul, and it was a perfect day.  The food was great (hello, dilly beans!), and my friends were obviously just so excited to finally be married.  Unfortunately, we had to leave early to head back home to VT, so I don’t know if they did the horah (chair dance) or not.  Sadface.

This week:

This is week 1 of my official training plan for half marathon number two!  I’ll be posting my schedule in more detail later this week.  For now, my goals are to keep to the training plan as much as possible, and be sure to fit in yoga at least once.

Did you travel this weekend?

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