Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Few Minor Setbacks…

This past week has been the worst since I began seriously training for this half. Granted, I’m not very far into this process and I imagine I will have to face many more difficult challenges in the future, both metal and physical. But compared to past runs, everything this week seemed off.

Let’s recap, shall we?

Monday: Wisconsin got hit with quite the snow storm. The night before, roads were coated in freezing rain. By morning, these dangerously slippery conditions were layered with 4 inches of fresh, white powder. Did this keep me from running? Nope. But I was supposed to do 3 miles, and instead it was a lousy 2.54. I was too afraid to run on the street, for fear that a car might slide into me, but sidewalks weren’t even remotely clear. I could hardly tell where they were, and half the time I was probably running through people’s yards. Sorry neighbors!

Tuesday: This was supposed to be a rest day, but I couldn’t resist doing a little something at the gym. In between classes, I got in a half-mile warm up, and 8 miles on the stationary bike. I felt nice and energized by the end of this workout! I got to my next class probably smelling like sweat and B.O. because I didn’t have a chance to shower. To the guy sitting next to me in English 385, my apologies.

Wednesday: I decided to bust out my P90x DVDs for some real cross training. I did the full Plyometrics video, which definitely got my heart rate up and my muscles engaged. I used the heart rate monitor on my Garmin, and it showed my average HR being 144 bpm, and max HR at 170 bpm.

Thursday: This is when things went down hill. I was all psyched up to do a solid 3 miles, and I thought I could fit this in on the treadmill at school. I used it quite a bit in the past, so I wasn’t expecting this run to feel like so much work. Almost immediately, shear boredom set in. Watching TV with captions just doesn’t do it for me anymore, and my music wasn’t enough to occupy my mind. After a mile and a half, I said forget it and went home to run the other 1.5 in the great outdoors. While I still got in 3 miles, I hate splitting them up because I feel like, for me, I need to challenge myself to suck it up and keep going.

But I'm sorry, this made for much better scenery!

And, Friday

I’m pretty sure I hit what all you experienced runners call a “wall.” The weather was nice for a Wisconsin January. I planned to make up for my lack luster performance from the day before by running a 3 mile do-over. My mind couldn’t get into the game. I couldn’t find that driving force to push me through to the end. My left hip flexor was beginning to get increasingly painful, and I gave up after barely a mile. Yuck.

I went home to re-evaluate. I read up on all the potential causes of my hip flexor pain, and decided to take the weekend to: ice, stretch, elevate, yoga, pilates and repeat. By Sunday, my hip still ached and I could tell it wasn’t at 100%, but it had improved drastically.

This week my focus is on keeping my head in check, and practicing what I preach! Wasn’t it just last week that I wrote a post about not giving in when you hit a wall? Yup, that was me. I make no excuses, I was totally weak. I absolutely need to find the strength to stop quitting mid-run, and tough it out. Boredom, or no boredom. Snow, or no snow.

Luckily, I’m off to a good start! I’m repeating last week’s training since I clearly bombed out in the running department. On the bright side, at least I identified my weak points and can now work to improve them!

Do you have any tips to help me push through these walls?

How do you keep yourself from throwing in the towel during a run?

Also, how do you know when it’s safe to push through the pain and when to give yourself healing time? 

Getting Out of My Own Way

Source: Cathy on Pinterest

I have not always been a confident individual. For a long time, I wouldn’t even bother to set goals for myself. In my mind, I wasn’t an athlete, so I didn’t try out for a single high school sport. I didn’t consider myself capable of being a straight-A student, which allowed me to excuse the occasional bad grade. I knew I was a good person, and I never got into any trouble. I just had no desire to push myself outside of my comfort zone. When I looked in the mirror, I saw an average girl and I never once tried to prove myself wrong.

When it came to running, I utterly refused to believe I could last a single mile — let alone more than one! I saw runners as strong, powerful, and somehow above me. I looked up to them, and to me they were people who were able to push themselves to limits that I could only dream of. My freshman year of high school, I actually yelled at my gym teacher when he got frustrated that I was walking the last lap of the required mile run. I made some excuse about how I was hurt, but I’m sure he knew I was full of crap. I was a relatively quiet girl, and that was the only time I ever talked back to a teacher. But I had predetermined what I was capable of doing, and what I was not capable of doing. In my mind, there was no point in setting myself up for failure.

I don’t know what changed, exactly. Part of me seemed to get tired of watching everyone around me achieve greatness, while I stood on the sidelines. My husband, Nick, helped push me for the first time in my life. He saw potential in me that I wasn’t aware of. The first time we went running together, he took me on a mile jog. I felt like I was going to die by the end of it, but he didn’t let me quit. Instead, he had me sprinting the last stretch! At the time, I wanted to kick him in the shin — not literally of course! I was exhausted and angry that he didn’t let me rest. Looking back, I can now see that it was the best thing anyone has ever done for me. He didn’t let me give up, and I haven’t wanted to give up since.

It seems the biggest obstacles that we all have to overcome lie within ourselves. We have to stop letting our negative thoughts and self-image get in the way of what we want out of life. You have to believe in yourself enough to set goals for your life — even if they’re small ones, and find a way to make it happen. Don’t expect success to arrive overnight, or without any hard work. It might take a lot of your time, energy, and determination. You might feel like you want to quit. Don’t do it! Keep it moving, keep putting one foot in front of the other and push through the wall. Prove to yourself that you are capable of doing what you set your mind to, and it will propel you in whatever you choose to accomplish next.

Okay, I will now step off my soapbox. 

Anyone ever have a similar experience?
What walls have you had to push through?
What are some goals you hope to accomplish?

 

Twitter Road Racing and a Progress Update

My version of snow shoes

It seems the Twitter Road Race was a huge success, and I’m really happy to have been a part of it. There was a total of 376 runners that took part in this event from 14 different countries. People every where, from the U.S. to Switzerland to Saudi Arabia, all pounded the pavement yesterday. The results are in, and I am pretty content with how I did!

My time for the 5K was 31:54.

Overall, I was #248 out 0f 376.

Out of all the women who raced, I was #109 out of 202.

In my age group, I was #35 out of 60.

(The overall winner was a man from Iowa who ran the 5K in 16:54!)

So it seems I fell right in the middle in each category, which I’m happy with.  I improved my pace down to 9:50/mi.  This is important because it shows that I’m getting faster.  I’m also becoming more and more consistent in my pace.

Let’s compare, shall we?

This is from right around the first week of January

This is from yesterday

So in about 3 weeks, I’ve cut quite a bit off my pace time. I’ve also become more of a steady runner. Being able to look back and see where I’ve been, and where I am today is very motivating to me.  I’m so thankful for my Garmin and warm running clothes. Yesterday was so cold and the roads were slippery. I was at my parent’s house and was running on the back roads. Every time a car came, I had to jump into the snow to keep from getting hit. Luckily, they don’t get a lot of traffic!

Another tool that I’m seriously utilizing is MotionTraxx. I’ve mentioned this podcast in another post of mine, but I’m still hooked. I’ve used their 150-160bpm episodes, and I feel they’ve helped me with my breathing, pace and just to keep me going. The music gets my blood pumping, and sometimes I don’t even notice that it’s below freezing and I can’t feel my nose. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend giving it a try.

This week, my mileage increases a little bit.

Monday: 3 miles

Wednesday: Cross-training

Thursday: 3 miles

Saturday: 5 miles

I might do some extra non-running exercises like yoga or the elliptical on the off-days. For cross-training, I’m thinking of hitting up the gym to use their stationary bike. I’ve read that it’s a good choice for runners because it mimics the running motion, but without the impact.

Is it wrong to imagine people holding up signs like this when I go running?

Okay, enough about me.

How was your weekend? Anyone get in a workout, or break a sweat? If you got caught in a snow storm, I would say shoveling counts.

Birthdays, Cheese, and Happy Feet

Well Winter has officially hit Wisconsin.  Yesterday morning I stepped outside to find that it was easily -8 below zero, and that is not including the wind chill factor.  I don’t know if there is such a thing as it being “too cold to run,” but I wasn’t brave enough to lace up my shoes and head out into that ice box!  Overall, I’ve been sticking to my schedule though.  Last week, I ran a total of 8 miles — Saturday was my longer run of 4 miles.  I guess it’s not a lot of mileage compared to what I was doing last year, but it worked out well because the runs were easier to schedule around my Winter semester of classes.

And if you haven’t already heard about it…

TWITTER ROAD RACE THIS SATURDAY!

Oh yes, it’s happening.   created the Twitter Road Race, which will be this Saturday, January 21.  The distance is a 5k, so you basically just go out and run anywhere at anytime that day.  They have over 600 people registered so far, and probably more by now.  It just seems like a fun event — no one really wins.  After you run, you’ll submit your time and they’ll get everyone’s together and have the results posted.

If you want to register, this is where you need to go: Twitter Road Race Registration.

You can even get a bib!

In other news — my brother, Matt came to visit this week from England.  Of course we all gathered around to watch the Packers lose to the Giants on Sunday.  We all felt like crying, and eating away our sorrows.  So to recover, us cheese-heads took a trip to the local cheese factory.  I’m talking the best cheese factory of all time.  I guess that’s a little presumptuous, but not much.  People literally drive from surrounding states to get this cheese.

Matt making a goofy face, while shopping for some cheddar

To top off the week, January 16th was my hubby’s birthday!  Every year since we’ve been together, I’ve made him chocolate chip cookies instead of cake.  This year, I officially made the most delectable batch of cookies yet.  They were HUGE, and very chocolate-y.  Not too crispy, not too soft.  If baking cookies is an art, I just mastered the craft.  I can’t take credit for the recipe though, that was all thanks to Allrecipes.com.  If you too want to make the “Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie,” click here.

Just hand me a glass of milk, and I'm good to go!

So now you’re all caught up with my life as of late!   

Anyone else running the Twitter Road Race this Saturday?

 

Realistic Running: Being Mindful of Where You Are

As a woman relatively new to running, I often find myself comparing my progress to others. I see other people flying down the road with ease, and the voice in my head tells me I should be able to run faster, go longer, and tackle serious mileage each week. When my legs get tired or I’m out of breath, I get frustrated because I expect my body to be able to do exactly what I want it to do. The problem is, I think my body is smarter than I am. When I increase my mileage too quickly, and my legs are aching and flimsy, my body is telling me to slow it down (and/or do more strength training). I need to be able to recognize the difference between when I need to push through, and when I seriously need to pull back.

This is especially true for my half-marathon training plan. I ended up changing to a new one because the original one increased my mileage too quickly. While it would have been perfect for me this past summer when I was running 6 miles at a clip, I had to admit to myself that I was biting off too much at once. After taking a couple months off this fall, I needed a plan to go off of that eased back into the heavier mileage totals. This is one that I switched to:

My New Half-Marathon Training Program

This is actually a training plan a friend recommended I look into, and I feel it is a better fit for me. Unlike my previous program, the Prevea schedule is a little longer and more gradual in terms of mileage increases. I believe it was actually developed for people planning to race in the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon this May. They have other schedules to refer to if you’re interested, and can be found on the race’s website.

What I’ve found since starting to train for the half-marathon is that many of these training programs claim to be designed for “beginners,” but then have you running a 5 mile day the first week. I believe the term “beginner” is completely relative. You might be a beginner in terms of never having raced before, but still able to run an 8-minute mile without breaking a sweat. Or you may be a beginner who has never broken into a jog a day in your life. Either way, you need to find a program that fits your fitness level. In my case, I wasn’t new to running, but I hadn’t ran more than 3 miles consistently in the last 3-4 months.

If you’re starting a program, don’t just pick a program and go with it. Take into serious consideration your goals, and be realistic. Also, be willing to stray from the program or modify it to fit your needs. There might be a day when running 10 miles just isn’t going to happen. Maybe your body needs to rest. Maybe you’re just not into it that day. If you can’t make the full 10, split up your run by doing 5 in the morning and 5 later in the day. Just give it your best, but remember that your best will change from day to day.

Be mindful of where you are in your training, listen to your body, and make adjustments accordingly. Know when to push yourself harder, and when to ease up. Find a balance.

Have you used a training schedule to prepare for a race or goal? Did you have to make adjustments to your training? I’d love to hear from you!

Embracing the “New” in New York City

I grew up believing I would NEVER want to live in a concrete jungle like New York.  Considering I’ve only lived in cities with populations under 10,000 people, I  couldn’t imagine not knowing my neighbors, or having to worry about locking my door.  My parents own about 9 acres of land where I spent so many summer nights sprawled out on a blanket watching shooting stars.  Cities seemed too constraining and claustrophobic.  I had explored Milwaukee and Chicago here and there, so I knew that bigger cities offered a lot more diversity and night-life — not to mention I wouldn’t have to drive an hour to the mall.  Still, I swore I would live out my days in places with lots of trees and fresh air.

I must say, after actually visiting NYC this past summer, I’ve changed my opinion quite a bit.  While I still pine after the wide open spaces of the rural areas in the Midwest, I’ve learned to love the beauty that can be found amid the rising skylines.  My husband recently completed a summer internship in Manhattan while I stayed behind to take a couple college courses.  I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit over a long weekend, and we did a little bit of tourist-y sightseeing.  We went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway, Times Square, Central Park, and the Metropolitan Museum.  Everywhere I went, I was hearing beautiful languages spoken by beautiful people in beautiful places.  Being able to take the Subway EVERYWHERE was a huge turn on for me because Wisconsin’s public transportation sucks, quite frankly.  I only got a little taste of the Big Apple, but I was immediately craving more.

Let's Here It For New York!

My new found appreciation for the big city came just at the right time!  As it turns out, I’ll be moving there this May!  My husband was offered a full-time position at the place where he completed his internship.  A week or so after I graduate from college, I’ll be taking the plunge into NYC!  I am not going to lie, I am nervous.  That weekend over the summer was the most time I’ve spent there in my entire life.  Still, I feel as if I’m writing a whole new chapter for myself.  I have no doubt that this change will expose me to an unending amount of possibilities.  A wise man once said:

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I don’t know who that man is, but I like this quote!  I feel it sums up pretty much everything about what this move will mean.

Not to mention, I’ll be able to do some of my runs in Central Park!  Can I get a woot-woot?!

Broadway!

 Any suggestions on things I need to do or see once I get there?  Anything I should be prepared for or expect?

Showing Old Man Winter Who’s Boss

Well the New Year has officially kicked into high gear for me!  I started my Winter classes this past Monday, and I already feel like I live and breathe Geology.  I actually had a dream about rocks last night!  But the good news is I will graduate in May, so for now I have to pretend like a 6 hour lecture on igneous and metamorphic rocks is the most fascinating part of my day!  Woohoo!

In other news, I finally received my cold weather running clothes that I ordered with my Christmas gift card.  I LOVE them!  I am always worried about shopping for clothes online because I feel like I never get the sizes right — especially pants.    I’m 5’9 and finding jeans that aren’t dragging on the floor, or have me looking like I’m waiting for a flood is always a concern.  The best part is I was able to purchase both the tights and the soft-shell for under $100 on Amazon.com.

Don't mind my messy hutch in the background!

Luckily, the Brooks Infiniti tights fit perfectly!  They are definitely made for people with long legs, or who don’t mind a little extra material at the ankles.  I think you’d have to be at least on the taller side for them to fit properly.  I was a little chilly when I wore them in 20-30 degree weather the other day, but I didn’t have goosebumps or anything. I could probably wear those wind-resistant outer shell pants over them when it gets any colder than that, and be good to go.

The ASICS Thermopolis LT Hoodie is just the right length for my arms, and even has thumb holes.  I wore it over a long sleeve under layer, and I felt perfectly comfortable.  Not too warm, not too chilly.  I love that the neck has a pouch to cover the zipper when it’s all the way up to prevent it from rubbing up against your skin!

Despite my time consuming class schedule, I managed to get out and put my Garmin 305 to the test, along with my new wardrobe!  I’m so happy with it so far, although I’m still trying to figure out how to use all the features.  I ran a little over 2.5 miles the other day, and uploaded the results to the Garmin software. The software is pretty bare bones, in the sense that it doesn’t look pretty.  Still all the data you could ever need is presented.  I haven’t tested the heart rate monitor yet, but this is what my results looked like:

Not a great day for running, but I made it work!

Now in my defense, this was not a great day for running mainly because I had to tip-toe around ice on the sidewalks, and stop to kick the slush off my shoes.  The Garmin has an automatic pause feature, but I was too excited to just get out of the house that I didn’t take the time to learn all the buttons.  Since then, I’ve played around with it more and it’s very, very simple to operate.  The screen is just large enough to make it easy to read while on the run.  Overall, I’m super excited to have this little gadget.  I can easily see how my running can improve by knowing how I’m progressing, and how hard I need to push myself to reach my goals.

And finally, I found this picture online and I thought I’d share it with you.

An inspiring photo: Don't Give Up!

This post is kind of a hodge-podge, but I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend!

How is your Winter running going?  

Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes

Move over Wheaties.  There’s a new breakfast of champions in town, and it doesn’t taste like bran.  Nope, I’m talking about waking up to melt-in-your-mouth chocolate first thing in the morning.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon this recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie for Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes.  Not only do these take minutes to throw together, you get to douse them in chocolate syrup.  I’m asking you, does it get any better?  Yes, it does.

Chocoholics of the world get their fix of deliciousness, plus the ENTIRE recipe is a mere 130 calories.  I made these for New Year’s Day breakfast, and they are as good as they look.  My husband can be quite picky at times, and his short stack was devoured in the time it took me to go into the kitchen and get a glass of milk.

Here’s what you’ll need to satisfy your deepest chocolate cravings first thing in the morning:

  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (or all-purpose or Bob’s gluten-free)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 T Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa or dutch cocoa (You can sub regular cocoa, as well.)
  • 1 and 1/2 packets nunaturals stevia or 1 T plus 1 tsp sugar (you can use less if you’re planning to top with syrup and don’t want the actual pancakes to taste sweet.)
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2 T applesauce (or oil, if you don’t like fat-free pancakes)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 and 1/2 T nondairy milk

1) First thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cocoa, stevia and salt. I just used regular all-purpose flour because that’s what I had on hand.  I also used regular cocoa powder, instead of the dark.

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cocoa, stevia and salt.

2) Add all the wet ingredients and mix well: applesauce, vanilla and milk.  I used fat-free skim milk.

Mix in applesauce, vanilla and milk.

3) Make pancakes!  You should get 6-8 silver dollar size cakes out of a single batch.  I chose to double the recipe because I wanted to make bigger pancakes.

I made these slightly bigger than silver dollars.

Now I read that both maple syrup and chocolate syrup tastes amazing on these little beauties.  I chose to use chocolate syrup because I wanted to really make these decadent.  Plus they’re already lo-cal, so you might as well!  I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine adding sliced bananas or strawberries would taste yummy, too.

Need I say more?

I found the nutritional breakdown on Katie’s blog using whole-grain spelt flour, Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, and Almond Breeze almond milk.  If you use different ingredients, this info would vary but probably not a whole lot.

For the entire recipe:

Calories: 130 Fiber: 5.5 g Added Sugar: 0 g Protein: 5 g Fat: 1 g

Let me know what you think of these!