Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beautiful Weekend Weather!

Stephen and I just returned from a beautiful walk downtown Greenville with our dog Charlie. The weather this weekend has just been gorgeous and has really helped the winter blues to start going away. This brisk walk to the dog park and back helped get my workout week off to a good start. Thanks Stephen for your Sunday morning motivation and energy! Even Charlie seemed to need some real outdoor time. He had great fun romping around with the other dogs.

After the race...
I completed the Green Valley Road Race 8K yesterday and was so proud of Margie and Danielle for completing their 2nd ever race! Mel and Brandon really pushed themselves and finished well ahead! A nice surprise was to see Jessica at the race too!

The course was not well marked at all, so we ended up completing somewhere around 5.3-5.5 miles instead of 5. Jessica ended up doing an extra 2 miles! She was running in the same race and they sent her a different way than us!?? :-( It was weird, but I still had a nice time.

I ended up downtown later in the afternoon because it had finally warmed up from 22 to 53 degrees! Much better than the freezing morning temp! And every family and jogger in Greenville seemed to have the same idea as me; be outside! I ended up briskly walking another 2.9 miles for a total of around 8 miles for the day.

Now that I am tracking my training load points each week, I knew I needed more to reach my goal for the week, so this extra walk got me there. I want to run the 10k I have planned for March 5th with good effort. To do this, I need to be completing between 800 to 1,000 points per week. Last week I logged a total of 831pts and this week was 925! Yeah! :-) By training this way, I can really see how much effort I am exerting and I am very mindful about the effort I put into each workout. I didn't do this before and this is really helpful. I am still using Jeff Galloway's training run distance schedule for the 1/2 marathon (April 30th) and I am doing pretty well with my distance, but I am getting to the point now that I am going to have to step it up even more during the weeks to come. Joining Jessica on Thursday after school for speed/endurance runs will definitely help me here. Now I have had incredible energy this week; I just pray this continues through eating better and getting a good nights sleep.

Thanks to Lauren Runs' latest blog post, I have an idea of how to meet my long run goals and still continue with my Saturday group planned runs when our distance goals are not the same. So this coming Saturday, I am scheduled to train for 8 miles, but we are currently run/walking our upcoming 10k road course. I think I will attempt to go out earlier than normal and run 2 miles before I meet with the group, so that I can log my 8 miles for the day. I wouldn't miss running with my friends on Saturday morning for the world! This is my saving grace and motivation!!! However, the following Saturday calls for a shorter run of 3 miles, so should I meet up with them part way through their run? Hmmm. Reading other blogs and joining's 13.1 blog group has helped a ton. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Here's to a great week of warm weather! Boy is it needed. I've had some crappy motivation. It's the people around me completing goals and getting out there that keeps me going, like Mel Edwards and her super amazing goal-setting! Thanks everyone.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

8K On the Horizon

These past two weeks have been exhilarating, challenging, frustrating, painful, and so so satisfying!

Twelve days ago, on a Friday night, I hit the pool at the Y with a vengeance. The swim workout posted was for 3,250 yards and I knew I could do it. I made it to 2700 yards and got kicked out of the pool because the Y was closing. Booo! I didn't pay attention to the earlier closing hour. Oh well, 2700 yards! Woohoo!

But, I had to stop a few times to knead out an on setting charlie horse. This ended up plaguing me over the next week in the form of a severely tight and tender right calf muscle. It may not have helped that my Saturday group run consisted of a new 10K route. I tried to rest it for 2 days, but I felt the need to walk it out and see if that would make it feel better. I did that and it felt good (1 hour walk on the treadmill). I ended up running 4 miles on the treadmill the next night because I was both itching to get moving and moving just felt better. After talking to a Y Wellness trainer, I decided to take the next day off and rub it with bio freeze. That was a "duh" moment for me. I use that stuff on my back whenever I am having pain. Needless to say, resting, exercising, and gelling my calf all helped, but gosh was it painful to the touch.

The first Saturday after our 5K race took us to new heights. We mapped out our new 10K road race route for March 5th. This was a tough day for everyone as we were not all feeling our best. The next Saturday was much better. A much more positive attitude was buzzing for the group. I needed the run and the company because I had had a bad morning. I had to meet the group at Coffee to a Tea after they had completed the first mile and then I was good to go. It was such a beautiful, drizzly crisp morning. Lunch at the coffee shop after was the highlight :-).

On another note, I started using my heart rate monitor as a training tool. I've had it for months, and used it sometimes, but I never knew what a powerful tool it could be! Mel runs with one and I would sometimes hear her say she was working in a certain zone and meeting her 85% target hear rate. I was so curious about it that I pulled my HRM manual out and discovered a plethora of information. Oh man, was it frustrating and infuriating when I first tried following a sample workout and did a few of my normal ones, only to discover I was not working hard enough to keep my heart rate in my 85% target zone! I just didn't believe the numbers. I just decided to not stare at it and not worry about it. That was too frustrating. Low and behold, once I took to the streets and was running at my normal rate, my heart rate was cooperating too. I started keeping a chart logging roughtly how many minutes I was working in each of my heart rate zones (there are 5). There is a simple math formula to calculate minutes worked vs heart rate zone to yield a "training load." Timex's (my HRM brand) training chart suggests to complete a training load of 800-1000 points in a week to be able to complete a 10K, 700-1000 to maintain your current weight, and much more for that marathon I want to run this year. Once I felt comfortable changing up my running routine with my monitor, I really knew I had some powerful information in my hands.

I am an excel junkie and love charts and organization, so I converted my paper chart to an electronic one with pretty formulas that will give me immediate feedback after each workout. I am now able to walk, bike, run, and do all sorts of cardio workouts, enter my information, and visually see what my training load yielded for each workout and what my current total for the week is. It's awesome to compare one workout to another and see the numbers. Last weeks total was 831 points for may training load, so I was quite happy. So far this week, I am at 541.

I am running an 8K this Saturday and am quite looking forward to it. Danielle, Margie, and I will run it together. Mel and Brandon are going to go for their best time possible, as they both need qualifying times for placement in the Disney Marathon next January! Go Mel and Brandon Go!

I am not too worried about time on this one because I had a pretty hard run after work today with my friend Jessica. She is a runner! No 1/1 pace on this run. We had awesome weather and completed 4.6 miles through the park in 59 minutes. This included a potty break and several short walking breaks. My buns were feeling those hills. Jessica can do this with her hands tied and set a pace slower than she normally runs, but it kept me in my 85-90% heart rate zone for 54 minutes!! A few times I got over the 90% mark, so I cut it back there. I don't think I would have pushed myself that hard if I had gone by myself. So glad you decided to come out after all Jessica! We are going to make this a regular thing on Thursday's after work. I am really looking forward to becoming a faster runner and changing up my run/walk routine just for something different.

Here we come 8K!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowed In

Happy February everyone! Chicago is currently covered under a fresh blanket of snow, as the 2011 Snowpocalypse has finally showed itself. The Windy City is supposed to get 18 inches of snow overnight and it's not supposed to stop snowing until Thursday. Wowsa! I think Punxsutawney Phil will predict that there's much more winter on the horizon come Groundhog's Day tomorrow.

Anyhow, here we are at another week! Ryan is in Berlin on business and man is quiet around our place. I've taken this time to myself to catch up on a few odds and ends. Last weekend, I did my fair share of cooking, too. I whipped up some grapefruit-orange juice, chili with ground turkey and some apple-cinnamon bars, some of which are included in today's post.

The last two days I've had my usual egg on plain seven-grain toast and an iced skim latte. But this time, I tried Eating Well's cranberry muesli. I have to say I was a little unsure about it at first -- I wasn't entirely sold on the slightly bitter taste. But this morning, I knew it was a keeper. Look at that color, too! What's not to love?

By the way, I have to apologize for this week's photos. Ryan took our nice camera to Berlin, naturally. Anyways, the cranberry muesli was super easy to make. No oven time, just some spare 5 minutes to mix the ingredients and voilĂ !

So back to this insane snow. Things didn't start to pick up until mid-afternoon today. Steph, my dad, and my mother-in-law all inquired if I had enough food on hand, haha. Anyhow, here's a snapshot of the action. Be sure to imagine lots of crazy blowing snow. The wind is still howling as I type this post.

Lunchtime featured an oldie but goodie: Chef Meg's tomato soup from SparkPeople. We had some in the freezer, and with Ryan being gone, I resorted to having some leftovers. I paired mine up with some dill crab salad on a napa cabbage leaf.

For dessert, I snuck in an apple-cinnamon fruit bar, one of Eating Well's many yummy and easy recipes. My camera wasn't exactly cooperating, so I had to borrow from a photo from EW.

Since it's winter, soups and chili are regularly on my mind. Tonight, I had some of my slow-cooker chili. My recipe is pretty traditional, but I use ground turkey, low sodium black beans and kidney beans, and a red pepper. On the side, I had a mixed greens salad with heirloom tomatoes, cucumber and slivered almonds topped with light balsamic vinaigrette from Kraft.

Prior to calling it a day, I pushed through 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and did 10 sets of 10 weights. WOO! I also skyped with my dear friend Raina, who has been sharing her fitness goals here. She turned a fabulous 33 years old yesterday -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL!

Ok, it's just about time to hang out with Conan and enjoy some vanilla Chobani with fresh raspberries.

Thanks so much for reading! xx