Thursday, March 29, 2012

Big girl push-ups

Today the rain fell constantly in a not-quite-a-downpour but not-quite-sprinkling type of rain. I had far too many moments of staring out the window while the dread washed over me. I knew I had to go to my outdoor bootcamp class tonight. I took last week off for having a cold, tonight I had to go. The worst thing about working out outside in the rain is having to do things like planks and push-ups, as they leave my gloves dripping wet and my fingers frozen. Thankfully my good friend S texted to commiserate over how awful the weather was. I love all of my bootcamp friends, but having her there always makes me extra happy because we chat the hour away.

For all of my complaining, my dreading, my whining, my bargaining with myself to get out of the workouts when the weather is terrible ("I swear I won't eat the rest of the day if I skip class!") I have never, not once, regretted having gone once class is over. Tonight was no exception. Once I was out there at the track I found that the rain didn't really bother me. Shortly after that point the rain pretty much stopped all together. Maybe it gave up trying to quash my resolve.

It was a tough class. Millions and bajillions of squats interspersed with jumping jacks, lunges and balancing poses to get us started. Then we raced up and down the stairs in the stadium so many times I lost count. We ran step by step. We skipped steps. We skipped up the steps (see the difference?). We shuffled up sideways. We hopped up them . . . all of the way to the top, two feet at a time like a bunny. Then we did a routine of five push-ups, five mountain climbers, dash up the stairs, do ten jumping jacks and come back down. All of that ten times. Well, S and I only did it nine times since all of our gabbing slowed us down tremendously, ha!

Right about now you may be wondering what my post title is about, and here it is: tonight is the first time of weekly bootcamp classes that I did all of my push-ups like a big girl. No knees on the ground anymore. I have pushed harder (literally!) to do real push-ups in the wet weather simply to keep my legs dry and I think, finally, the effort is paying off. I still can't do more than maybe a dozen in a row, but doing them in bursts of five interspersed with other things is do-able. Of course, about 40 push-ups in I felt a painful stab in my back, like I pulled something. That effectively ended my push-ups for the night. Go big or go home, right?

Yesterday in yoga I was practicing chaturanga, a pose where you start in a plank and, hugging your elbows to your side, lower yourself so your upper arms are parallel to the ground and hold it there. To my surprise, I could do it! Well, I did one. Then we tried wheel pose, or urdhva dhanurasana. I couldn't get my head off the ground to save my life.

It is pretty fun to be surprised by strength I didn't know I had. I think that is one of the things that keeps pushing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up

Let me just say, it was an incredibly awesome weekend. Friday night I dropped the family off at a park and took off for a three mile run on Alki. It was sunny and warm and be-ah-utiful! On Saturday morning I went out for a run that was just over four miles. I decided to tackle a loooong steep hill near our house. I think the hill is a mile long? It was hard but good. Of course I also got to practice my downhill running on the way home. After my run I met my dear friend for brunch and inhaled my gigantic breakfast in like two minutes. Oops. It was a day of extremely decadent eating, but I only had two meals, so I hope that balances out the calories. The girls and I got out in the sun in the afternoon and shared some bubble tea.

Sunday morning I met my two friends, M and B, that I typically do my long runs with. They are so awesome to run with and I just adore their company. We did four loops of the trail at Discovery Park. The last two times we were there we did three loops but I needed to run for 120 minutes (each loop takes about 30 minutes) so we did four. It was barely warm enough for me wear my new nike shorts and t-shirt. I felt great after the run and it was the longest (technically we ended up at 127 mins) I had been on my feet yet. B thinks I will be able to meet or break 2 hours in my half marathon and I am secretly (or not so secretly!) hoping she is right!  

I like this graph of the elevation on the Discovery Park loop. It is a challenge! 

I had previously asked M and B if we could go for burgers and fries after this run so we went to Red Mill and seriously enjoyed a delicious meal. I do need to be quite careful about not eating back all of the calories I run off (it's a lot easier than it sounds as running makes you HUNGRY!) but I decided I can plan in some special treats once in a while as a reward for all of that hard work.

Of course, today I gobbled down half a bag of tiny jelly beans. My one favorite candy in the whole world is a certain brand of jelly beans that you can pretty much only get at Easter. This has been a difficult Easter season for me. I practically get the shakes walking past that section at Target. But, at least I only ate half this time, right? Progress! Ha.

This morning I got a massage from my new favorite massage therapist. I saw her about a month ago for general stress relief and also needed specific help with my hamstring and shins. Last time I was there she gave me some ideas for stretches and I have been doing those pretty much every day, along with the stretches my PT suggested. The massage therapist noticed that while my right leg is still pretty tight, it's already starting to get better. Phew! I was glad to hear that all of the time I am putting in to stretching is paying off.

The weather forecast in Seattle is calling for rain, rain and more rain over the next week, but I am holding out hope that the sun sticks around for a while. It definitely re-invigorated my running to not have to battle freezing rain!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sick days

I am on the couch today with a mom cold. Hey, if men can have man colds, I can have a mom cold, right? Well, I am actually very lucky that Matt took Iris for half of the day, first to an appointment and then off to work with him. What a man! So, my mom cold involves me hibernating for a bit.

It is a gorgeously sunny day in Seattle, and of course it is. If you read my post yesterday you know that sunny days=days I am not outside exercising. I will be skipping tonight's bootcamp, though I realllllly don't want to. I am still in that phase of training where if I miss a workout I freak out a little, like "OH MY GOD I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO RUN MY HALF MARATHON NOW!!!!" kind of freak out. Of course, that is looney bin thinking.

Since I have been self-confined to the bed or couch over the last 18 hours I have done a lot of reading. A LOT, a lot. I read almost all of Train Like a Mother (skipping the training for 10K's and 5K's) and almost all of 50/50 (Dean Karnazes' book about running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days). I watched the documentary Ultramarathon Man, about Dean's marathons, a couple of weeks or so ago and just loved it. Dean is absolutely amazing. I love the book, too, because it is just that much more information about how he pulled it off. The book also interjects quite a bit of info on running and training, which I appreciate.

Last week I also watched the documentary Spirit of the Marathon (which, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can watch on demand for free!) ((another side note, I got the DVDs from my local library)). Are you beginning to predict what all of this book reading and movie watching has done to me? Made me feel like running a marathon, perhaps??? I am so naive, I swear, I watch and read all of this and think "oh, I can totally do that!" Ha!

On Tuesday I also finished a book called Mile Markers. Despite what I thought when I reserved it from the library, Mile Markers is not a book about training. It is a book about the author (Kristin Armstrong) and why she runs. The byline of the book is "26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run" but it is full of personal anecdotes. Of course the reader can apply them to her own situation, but reading the book felt more like I was reading a personal diary or journal. It was a highly motivational read, however.

This being sick thing? It isn't half bad. Maybe I need to try it more often!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Random running-related annoyances

Today when I logged on to Facebook two things stuck out and immediately annoyed me.

Here is one them:

See that blue in the upper left hand corner? Yeah, that's the coldest spot in the country and it's smack dab on top of where I live in Seattle. It actually is sunny, in this exact moment in time, though that is subject to change in any given second. Oh, yep, as soon as I finished that sentence the clouds moved in.

The thing about the weather, and local folks this is a tip from me to you, is that if I am scheduled to be running on any given day, the weather is going to suck. Rain, hail, wind, freezing cold, maybe even some snow. If I am off or doing a workout inside? Then it will be sunny and dry. So forgo the weather person and just hit me up to find out what my workout is and it will give you a clear picture of Seattle weather. So today is a rest day for me. It is sunny outside. Tomorrow I have outdoor bootcamp. It will probably be hailing frogs.

The other thing that annoyed me when I logged on to Facebook was seeing that a friend posted a daily deal for the Hero's Half Marathon in Everett. This is going to be the first half marathon I run and is at the end of April. I signed up two months ago and paid $65 for the race. Today's deal is $30 to sign up. Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed that I paid $35 more despite being a good little runner and signing up nice and early. I emailed the race organizers and expressed my frustration with the offer, stating that it felt like I was getting penalized for signing up early and that this rash of race deals on daily deal sites is making me feel like not signing up for ANY races until a deal come out! I received an email back within an hour from someone who works for the race and she said "don't blame you" and that they felt pressured to take part in the deal in order to increase their race numbers and they won't be doing it again. She also said she would refund me the difference, which I thought was kind since I didn't ask for a refund.

It immediately got me thinking . . . what is the deal with daily deal sites? This person could have emailed me and said "oh, sorry you missed out! This was such a good opportunity for us to attract more runners, but we don't want to leave you out. Here is a free Starbucks coupon to say sorry!" Instead she seemed, well, just as annoyed as I did.

Last week another daily deal site ran a deal for the Seattle Half Marathon. I bought that, even though I wasn't originally planning on running the Seattle Half. When the code from the daily deal site didn't work to register me I emailed the Seattle Half Marathon and asked what was up. They responded that they didn't know the daily deal site had already run the deal and they were working on the problem. Very interesting.

Last summer I bought an impossibly good deal for yoga classes at the yoga studio I liked and had previously taken classes at. It is a tiny place and I loved the owner. I almost felt dirty buying-- and using-- the deal. The studio made pretty  much nothing on it. However, I knew the studio chose to run the deal and if they made no money, that was their choice, right? Now I have to wonder, though, how these deal sites work. Are businesses getting pressured on some level? How? Why? This yoga studio hoped it would bring in more business, I know that for sure, but as it turned out, the vast majority of people never returned after the voucher was used up.

So, anyways, I have to apologize up front to anyone who registered for Hero's Half today. Since it is a planned running day for me you know the weather is going to completely stink.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Paddy's Day Run Tacoma

I think that the St. Paddy's Day Run in Tacoma was my favorite race yet. I got to run with my friend Tara, whose family lives in Canada.  A few weeks ago I put out the idea of her family combining one of their trips to Seattle with a 10K run and we quickly settled on the St. Paddy's Day run in Tacoma. Anticipation built over the weeks as we chatted about how we would run the course and, more importantly, what we would wear! We have never had the chance to run together, so that made this race extra special.

The morning started for me in a blur. I had hardly slept at all thanks to sharing my bed with a tossing and turning five year old. When I looked outside the weather was just as it was predicted: raining. And it was cold, so the rain was threatening to turn in to snow at any moment. Tara, her fantastic husband and awesome children picked me up just after 7:00 am and we headed south to Tacoma (my family stayed home in bed catching up on much needed sleep!). I cracked up listening to their GPS announce all of the directions in the voice of Darth Vader!  They dropped Tara and I off at the starting line so we could wait in the queue to pick up our race packets and then they came back to meet us after parking the car. It was great to have a "crew". Having them all there with us meant we could keep our coats on and stay relatively warm and dry until handing them off to her husband at the last minute. Tara's husband took some pictures of us and we quickly decided not to do a pre-race warm-up (my running coach would be so disappointed! ha.). Before we knew it, it was time to say good-bye to Tara's family and we went up to the line to wait for the race to start.

Pre-race smiles! 

Despite many people still being in the queue to pick up their registration packets, the 10K race started only about eight minutes late. It didn't take long for us to warm up and feel completely comfortable despite the low 40's temps and constant rain. Tara and I chatted the whole way, which I loved. I can be a bit of a chatty cathy and rarely get the chance to talk on runs. It was amazing, to both of us!, that we held a speedy pace despite the yakking.

 Off we go!

The course was decent and was just one out and back for the 10Kers. When I ran the Santa Runs Tacoma on almost the same course it was two out and backs. I think my biggest complaint about this course was that it was so narrow-- a big chunk of it was just one lane of a two-lane road-- and we had to pack in to allow room for the runners going in the other direction. My second complaint was that they let the 5Kers off after the 10Kers, so on the last couple of miles we were weaving like crazy in and out of walkers. It was annoying. Usually the weaving occurs at the start, but not in this race! Of course I have to add my third "complaint", which was the long freaking hill right at the end! I say "complaint" because we rocked that hill, despite it sucking horribly. Tara trains on hills where she runs and me? well, I just don't give up. So we made a good team powering up that hill cruising past everybody. It's true, no one passed us on that hill! I think we both worried we would have to stop and walk, but we made it together! Finally the hill plateaued about .1 mile before the end and I looked at Tara and said "ready to sprint?!" and we took off for the finish line, finishing together at 58:37. Only two seconds faster than my Magnuson Park run!

 Check out that elevation change! Damn!

Our splits were pretty much amazing. Especially considering the GIANT HILL in mile six!

At the end of the race we found Tara's family, took off towards Tully's for warm beverages and then headed back up to Seattle. (((finish line photos coming soon!)))

Hooray for Tully's! And being totally soaked! 
It was such a fun race. I can't wait for our next one together! Maybe we will go for a PR? As much as I don't mind running races alone, coming to a race in a cute costume with a good friend and running the whole thing stride for stride was a real treat.

Monday, March 19, 2012

One giant step closer to being debt-free

Yesterday I made a several thousand dollar payment to pay off the last of my and Matt's credit card debt. It is what 100% of our tax return went to this year. I am not completely sure about Matt, though I suspect that he, just like me, has carried credit card debt ever since having a credit card in our own name. Relieving ourselves of that chunk of debt feels incredibly good. With that gone all we have are two student loans and our house. Unfortunately we will have a car payment again soon after not having one for a couple of years. We are in dire need of a new car and unfortunately don't have time to save what we would need to buy a decent car. So that isn't perfect, but holy cow, it's light years away from where we were not too long ago.

Three years ago we were making a huge push to clean up Matt's credit so that we could buy our first house. I had good credit, but I had no job. Matt had the job but bad credit. We worked really hard paying all kinds of things off until we finally got approved for an FHA loan. Of course, we didn't stop paying off debt then, but our living expenses more than doubled when we bought our house and it got extremely difficult to do more than make minimum payments on everything. We were very blessed to have Matt's income increase enough to pay a sizable chunk of money towards other debt, primarily the credit card, every month. Of course, it felt like it was a two steps forward-one step back kind of deal and despite the work we were only inching forward. When we found out that we were getting a decent sized tax return this year we knew right away what it would go towards: the credit card. Now, I know that we have a loooooong ways to go when it comes to making all of the smartest choices for our money, but I think we are doing incredibly good considering where we started!

Last night after I made the payment I posted on my facebook account that we were now credit card debt free. As of right now over 50 people have either "liked" that status or liked comments within the status. It made me feel so proud to have the support of so many people I know and love as Matt and I accomplish our goals.

Friday, March 16, 2012

School stress and looking ahead

I think I might have a little bit of a sickness. Or screws loose. Or something. I just registered for my third half marathon (The Seattle Half Marathon, for those interested!) You may or may not have noticed, but I haven't even run ONE half marathon yet. Nope, not one. And I am registered for three. And more or less committed to a fourth, we are waiting to see if a site offers a smokin' deal on registration (like what happened for the Seattle Half Marathon, which is why I registered). Good lord. Yep, a sickness! Clearly I have some faith in how much I will love running 13.1.

It has been a hectic week around here. Matt has been in Austin at SXSW since last week and while I mostly really enjoy solo parenting, this week was harder than normal. I seem to be in high stress mode every few months regarding schooling decisions and this week was the high stress week. Long story short, we are sort of choosing between two different schools for Iris for next year. One small private school and one specific public school (namely, Eloise's school). The private school basically told us that we had to jump through all these huge, maybe even insurmountable, hurdles in order to get her in there. We won't know if Iris gets in to the public school we want for another month or so. I did some soul searching, talked to Matt, talked to Iris's therapist and have made a decision that I feel good enough about. I think when you have a kid who you worry a lot about, who isn't quite the right fit for most school programs, well, everything ends up being "I hope this is good enough!" instead of "this is the right choice!". I think that for the rest of Iris's life I will just have to breathe deeply and trust in the universe that she will be okay, that we will all be okay, and that nothing has to be perfect in order to be an decent fit.

Breathing, breathing.

Iris and I haven't done as much school this week as we usually do. I have been exhausted and having been using some of our school time to catch up on chores and sometimes sneak in a quick nap. Some days I just never really felt awake. Like I needed rest, but not even rest helped. Clearly the stress got to me.

This weekend I am looking forward to seeing some good friends and running in a St. Patrick's Day race with one friend. We even have matching outfits! We will look awesome and have a lot of fun, despite the fact the forecast says low 40's and rain. At least as PNWers (Pacific Northwesterners) we can handle the rain just fine. We don't love it, but it certainly doesn't stop us.

Speaking of rain, Seattle has had crazy insane weather this week. On Tuesday it was snow, then hail, then snow then sun then snow . . . . and then lots of rain Wednesday. Torrential rain Thursday, some spots of blinding sun, then more rain . . . thankfully none of the weather interfered with any of my workouts. We ran on the track Tuesday night despite being bombarded with giant flakes of snow for the first part of class. We lucked out Thursday night as one of the short breaks from the rain came right during our bootcamp class. Whew!

Counting down the hours until the weekend is here! Hooray!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Smashing my "A" goal!

One of my New Year's resolutions, or goals, rather, was to run a sub 55:00 10K. At the time I had only run one 10K, with a time of around 1:03:00, so I figured it might take a while to hit my goal. The next time I ran a 10K it was somewhere around 58:00. I ran another one a couple of weeks ago as the last 6.2 in a very long (11.6 mile) training run, so I took it very easy. I finished that one around 1:04:00.

This past week I had an excellent intervals class and was feeling a little speedy. I realized that if I could run the mile as fast as I had that I should be able to run my 10K pretty darn close to my goal. Since the instructor for my intervals class is the one who was putting on the 10K race I was running today, she asked me what my goal was for the race. I wimped out, thinking in my head "55:00!" but saying out loud, "56:00 or 57:00". I just couldn't put words to my actual goal. Putting it out there made it real, right?

Me, actually trying to bend down a bit, with S and C, post race

This morning at the race I saw my friend, C, whom I hadn't seen at class in a while as she has been travelling. She asked me what my goal was and I said, "well, 55:00 is my "A" goal". I had read somewhere it is good to have two or three goals. If you can't reach your first, have a "B" goal to reach for, so the race isn't all or nothing. My "B" goal was 56:00 or 57:00. I also told her I was going to basically do the opposite of how we were taught to run races. You are supposed to finish faster than you start. I was afraid if I didn't start out as strong as I could I would run out of steam and not hit my goal, so I decided I would be okay finishing slower than I started.

I felt good the whole race and checked my watch a wee bit obsessively, though I pretty much just ran as fast as I felt like without trying to run to the numbers. At the turn around my instructor shouted at me "27:00!" which meant I finished the first 5K in that time (which is also faster than I have ever raced a 5K!) and I took off for my second leg. I kept staring at my watch for the last half mile or so and the math finally clicked: I was running fast enough to hit 54:00! I kicked it up a notch just a bit too soon, then slowed down again for a few seconds before ramping it up for the home stretch. I looked at my watch as I crossed the finish line and it said 54:00 exactly, though I still don't know what my official race time is.

I had smashed my "A" goal! I couldn't, and still can't, even believe it. It felt so good! 

My post-race meal of the most delicious sandwich, ever, which I randomly discovered 
at Safeway, and a caramel macchiato. YUM. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


The girls and I are on the tail end of a short, less than 24 hour "staycation". Matt is out of town so the girls and wanted to get out of town, too. As far as being a kid goes, it was pretty luxurious.

First we stopped at Toys R Us. I ended up vetoing lots of toys, which wasn't my initial intention as I thought it would be fun for the girls to pick out anything they wanted, but they settled on a doll each. Then we checked in to the hotel and the girls swam. I surprised them by taking them to Rainforest Cafe in the mall for dinner followed by a spin through the Disney store (and purchase of new jammies). I let them stay up super late, we all had a rough night of sleep and then got up early. Apparently sleeping in hotels isn't as fun as sleeping at home, but I look forward to an earlier bedtime at home tonight. This morning we got up, the girls took a bath, we hit the breakfast buffet, then the pool, then back to the room for playing and cable tv watching. I was excited to finally see an episode of The Pioneer Woman's show on Food Network, as we don't have cable at home. It was as cute as I expected!

Last year we attempted a two night staycation. I say attempted because the whole plan errupted in flames late the second night and we came home early. Better to leave early wanting more, I thought, so that's what I planned this time. Hopefully having had a successful trip will mean we can do it again before too long!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Running and recovery

I am not sure if Spring is coming to Seattle or not. Two nights ago we had snow. This morning I noticed our neighbor's daffodils were blooming. At any rate, I am so glad daylight savings time is this weekend as it will help my attitude improve when I have to get out to the track two nights a week for workouts! It won't be dark when I get there anymore. Hurray!

I have to say, I had a great week of workouts last week. On Tuesday my running class ran hill repeats. On Wednesday I did yoga and ran with a friend I hadn't seen in far too long. On Thursday I did bootcamp. On Friday I ran intervals on the track. On Saturday I did five relatively speedy miles along Alki and on Sunday? Oh, Sunday was the best. I ran just over eight miles on trails with both of my favorite running buddies. We had a blast! In addition to being addicted to running I think I might be developing a "thing" for trails. I spent Sunday afternoon recovering on the couch looking up trail running groups in my area, trail races and new trails for my little group to run. I may or may not have also spent time drooling over trail running shoes. At least I didn't order a pair . . . yet.

I took Monday off (which was hard, it was so beautiful out!) and then last night I did a fun track workout for my running class. The instructor likes to do a timed mile at the end of each session (every 10 weeks or so). It gives all of us in the class a gauge for how we are progressing. I was so pleased, I had my fastest mile yet, by about 15 seconds or so. It felt so exhilarating, I won't lie. Man, I just love running. It sounds so corny, but I love pretty much everything about it, except for my aches and pains . . .

So yeah, I have been combating some aches and pains from all of my running. I got an amazing massage last week and the massage therapist showed me some great stretches to do at home. It is hard to make the extra time, but I have been doing them every day. Hopefully I will start seeing the benefit soon! Today I had my first appointment with a physical therapist, as well. I have read too many horror stories of people running through pain and then finding out they did all sorts of damage and need to take weeks off of running in order to heal. From the sounds of it, I just need to do a better job with stretching and also strengthening some parts of my body other than the ones that propel me forward on a run.

After my PT appointment I went to my yoga class and it was a tough class. It wasn't because the poses were extra hard, it was just one of those days, as my instructor reminded me, that the practice is a bit more of a struggle. I think the exhaustion of having two nights in a row of very broken up sleep finally caught up with me. I wish I had an extra 90 minutes in my day to go to a daily yoga class. I bet it would help immensely with all of my running issues!

This weekend I am going to try for a PR (personal record) in a 10K race and then next weekend I get to run with one of my favorite people in a St. Paddy's Day 10K! We were trying to decide if we were going to race for speed or for fun . . . I think it will be for fun. We haven't seen each other in far too long to spend an hour alone huffing and puffing and not being able to speak to each other! Will definitely have some cute pictures from that run to post after it happens. We have matching outfits, you see. Super adorable!

Friday, March 02, 2012