Thursday, February 27, 2014

Working With My New Trainer!

The other morning I got to work out with my new trainer for the first time!

But let me back up. 

When I last talked to my physical therapist about how broken down I was feeling while running despite having taken a lot of time off, and despite working back up to running very slowly, and despite doing a 4:1 run/walk, he made a few suggestions to me. One of them was to find a trainer who can specifically train me to strengthen the muscles I use for running. 

I was a little surprised at this, because A) no one had ever told me that before, and it seemed, well, so basic, and B) I thought I was plenty strong enough, especially considering so many runners I know do little to know strength training and they aren't nearly as injured as I am! But anyways, I listened to his advice and set off to find a trainer.

Luck was on my side and I randomly came across a local-to-my-hood trainer who happens to not only be awesome at training runners, but an amazing runner herself (oh yeah, she WINS marathons). I met her about a week and a half ago and immediately had a good feeling about her . . . but I didn't want to get my hopes up until I started working with her. Right away she pointed out that I am more weak on my left side than my right, which is no bueno as a runner, and that I needed to work to balance that. 

And today I finally got my butt kicked by her for the first time.

She had me meet her at a local park that just so happens to be right on the Puget Sound, so during the whole workout we had views of the ferries, the Olympic mountain range, water, ahhhh, it was just awful, you guys. It just so happened to be sunny and approaching 50*. Rough, right?

We started with a jogging warm up (note: a light jog to a blazing fast runner is more of a sprint to a slow-poke) and then got to work. She had me do some stretching, then she put me through some running drills, like skipping, butt kicks, etc etc. It was nice to have someone coach me through them so I knew what I was doing. Also? I looked like a total idiot. One move was "run with only one leg". Yeah. 

Then she put me through a circuit of exercises. Holy crap. SO hard. All of the leg moves were things like fancy types of lunges, moves that forced each leg to work on its own (as opposed to something like a squat, where your weak side can hang out while your strong side does the work). This will help balance my strength imbalances, but they feel almost impossible for me to do. The workout had things like lateral lunges, bulgarian split squats, lunge jumps . . . and then after I could barely walk I moved on to some upper body stuff. Dumbbell chest presses, tricep dips, bosu ball push-ups. Man, it was a hard workout. I have to do it AGAIN, like once or twice a WEEK (depending on if I'm working out with my trainer one of my two cross-training days or need to work out both days on my own). 

Even though it's really tough, it's also really exciting. I feel like this is going to open me up to a whole new world with my running and I can't wait to see how I progress. I might die, but hey, I might not! 

In other news, I have completely disregarded my PT's orders to severely decrease my volume of running. Phsaw, I said, like if. Okay, I didn't really say that, I only thought that (on a side note, why don't we still use "like if!" as a comeback?). But I kept running and you know what? I haven't been in nearly as much pain the past few weeks. I am doing my PT exercises and my one new thing is I do A LOT more foam rolling, massage on my calves, and rolling out my muscles with The Stick. I guess it's all helping!

This weekend I will run 9 miles (with Sally, yay!) then a cut-back week the following week, then a 10 miler the week after. THEN the following week I should be ready to run the Mercer Island Half. I haven't registered, and if it sells out, I won't be too bummed, as I can only use it as a training run and not a race. I can instead run 13 miles on my own (which, of course, is no where near as fun!).

So, that's a lot of updates. I have some fun updates about the Ragnar team, too, so I will share those soon. Maybe even reveal our team name? The drama on that front is that we were back and forth for a while and finally agreed on a perfect name AND THEN IT WAS ALREADY TAKEN when I went to register the name! UGH! So now we are on naming: round two. Wish us luck! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

Total Miles Run: 14

Monday: Yoga 

This was a holiday, and my daughters were home from school, so I took my older daughter to to yoga class with me! We had so much fun. I have really begun to look forward to yoga every week, and always request runner-friendly poses, like hip openers. I could do pigeon pose allllll day long! 

Tuesday:  Bootcamp

Had another great bootcamp session, the instructor had us doing A LOT of ab work. Only two classes left in the Groupon I purchased, so the million dollar question is, do I pay full price for these classes after that? Is it worth it? Hmmm. 

Wednesday: Run 3 Miles

I ran at the gym on the treadmill because I won't run outside after dark. Unfortunately, I hate, hate, hate the treadmill at the gym. It feels so much harder to me than running outside! 

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Run 3 Miles 

Was hoping to do something a little bit longer, but I'm lazy, so I didn't, haha.

Saturday: CT at the Gym

My last workout with my friend Sarah, boo! She joined a different gym much closer to her house. Anyways, we did 20 mins on the elliptical, then our standard mix of assisted pull-ups and tricep dips, weighted squats, ab and hamstring work with the stability ball, then some wall balls. Fun, fun!

Sunday: Run 8 Miles

Ohhhh . . . this was a gooood run. I decided to run up a huge hill in West Seattle (Admiral Hill, for you locals), it is a decent climb that lasts about 3/4 of a mile. I had to walk three times, when in the past my goal was to run slow if I must, but don't stop running! I think being totally comfortable with run/walk now has made me not really care how many times I took a break. After that it was down the other side of the hill and a long stretch along Alki before heading home. I felt super strong everywhere except the monster hill, where I only felt "just okay", and enjoyed every step of the run. Still baffled how I can run a 9:30 mile relatively easily in the middle of an 8 mile run, but do that on a 3 mile run? I am DYING. My body is weird. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting Excited About Ragnar . . . .

. . . . but still mostly terrified I invested in a team I won't be able to fill.

Let me know if you're interested in running Ragnar Northwest Passage this summer!

I haven't posted here too much about the headache of trying to put together a Ragnar team. After I ran last summer with a friend's team I came home and told everyone I knew about how awesome it was . . . and so many of my friends said "I want to do that with you next summer!" Of course, in my mind I thought, "hmmm, if I just get these folks to sign up, I will have a team!" In early January I sent out an email to all of the runners I knew and guess what happened? I had TWO people commit to doing it. I cried, and got frustrated, and then I was under pressure because the race was so close to selling out. My teammates, who now numbered 4, plus me, all said we should just register and figure it out later. Most importantly my husband, aka the family bread winner, said I should use our his hard-earned money to register a team. So I did.

We don't have a name yet, and I am crossing my fingers that the wonderful runner I met today wants to join us, because that will bring our team to six runners.

With six left to find (cause no way in H-E-double hockey sticks and I am going to be able to do an ultra!).

I am super stressed about it, but also am incredibly excited. Ragnar was the most fun I have ever had running, and I CAN NOT WAIT to do it again!

Anyways, if you are reading this and have the ability to run something from 15-24 miles total in a relay race in July, you're in! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February StrideBox

I decided to live on the wild side a little bit and try out a StrideBox. I signed up on January 8th and was put on a "waiting list" and though I don't remember when I was finally ready to join the cool kids' club, my StrideBox was mailed on February 7th, receiving it on February 15th. The box cost $15.00, which included shipping.

Guessing StrideBox likely provides many of these to bloggers for shiny, happy, glowing, OMG! reviews, I, however, purchased my own, so I get to say whatever the heck I want to about what was in the box.

February StrideBox

So what is in this box?

1. Rise Bar- Protein+ Bar in Almond Energy retails for about $2.33 per bar (box of 12 bars is $27.99). One 2.1 ounce bar in the box. 

I decided to take this along as a post-run snack on Sunday. First impression was that the flavor was okay, but the texture was sort of wrong. Kind of a homogeneous chalky/chewy type thing going on. About half way through the bar I decided to look at the nutrition label and almost lost my, err, bar. 16 grams of fat in one bar? I wrapped it up and threw away the rest. 

Verdict? Would never, ever buy this bar. Ever. 

2. Pocket Fuel- Cold Brew Coffee Energy Shot in Mocha retails for about $1.49 (box of 10 packets is $14.90). One 1.15 ounce packet in the box.

I have always been intrigued by this company, so it was exciting to get a sample. I don't, however, like to take in any extra caffeine while exercising, since I never know how it will affect me (sometimes not at all, sometimes I get light-headed and shaky), so that is a bummer that this gel has 70mg of caffeine per packet. Pocket Fuel has many less calories than Gu or Clif Shot gels (my two perferred gels). Only 33 calories per pouch! Anyways, I likely will give this away. 

Verdict? No opinion

3. Sharkies- Turbo Energy Chews in Strawberry retails for about $2.54 per pouch (box of 12 pouches is $30.51). One 1.58 ounce packet in the box. 

This item also has caffeine in it. I couldn't find the exact amount, but it says "1/2 shot" in a picture of an espresso cup on the front, and a 1/2 shot of espresso has around 35mg of caffeine in it. The pouch has two servings, so I would guess that it has that much caffeine per serving? Not entirely sure. The chews are yummy and are coated in sugar. I liked them and ate them before my long run on Sunday.

Verdict? I would consider buying another non-caffeine variety of Sharkies. 

4. Skratch Labs- Exercise Hydration Mix in Pineapples retails for $1.95 per packet. One 0.8 ounce packet in the box. 

This was probably my favorite food item in the box. The flavor wasn't overly artificially sweet and I liked the pineapple as an alternative to the other drink flavors I have tried. It was a pouch of powder that mixed up easily and I drank it after my long run on Sunday. It hit the spot! At $1.95 per drink, however, that's a little steep.

Verdict? It was yummy, but I wouldn't ever buy it for that price.

5. CeraSport- Hydration Drink in Fruit Punch retails for about $3.83 per packet (box of 6- 21 gram packets is $23.00). One 21 gram packet in the box. 

This is also a pouch of powder, one pouch makes two 16 ounce servings. It was the first thing I tried out of my box. The taste is  . . . okay. Not very sweet, which is nice. I was not a huge fan of the artificial taste of the sweetener, which appears to be stevia. It was a little tricky to mix up, I am too spoiled by the nuun tablets that dissolve nicely, I suppose! 

Verdict? Would not purchase again, especially not at that price point.

6. Mission- Revitalizing Lip Therapy retails for $3.99 for a .25 ounce tube. One .25 ounce tube in the box. 

This lip stuff is fine. Tastes and smells similar to what I remember a tube of Carmex tasting/smelling like. I like it and will use it. 

Verdict? I wouldn't buy it for $3.99 a tube. I prefer Burt's Bees. 

7. Mission- Foot Synergy Gel  retails for $7.89 for a 2 ounce tube. One .033 ounce packet in the box (this works out to basically pennies). 

I didn't get a chance to try this before I published this review, but unless it gave me so much energy that I was able to run for hours with zero fatigue, I wouldn't buy a tube of foot gel. 

8. SAFETY- chip on LED light in green. Retails for $4.99 (so says the card in the box. I don't know the brand of the light, but there are many online that are similar for a very similar price.)

I am REALLY glad they put a light in the box! It either stays on or blinks or is off. I needed a light for Ragnar, so that's a score! It's nothing fancy, just a about 1 1/2" in diameter with a clip on the top. 

Verdict? I am glad it was in the box, would have bought this anyways.

When added up the value of the contents, when purchased at the retail prices listed on the "Stride Guide", it comes out to just under $17.00. So, it's not like you're getting a real deal on any of this stuff, I would look at it more like you're paying for a fun sample of products that you might not otherwise get to try. 

Overall impression? Eh. It was fun to try some new things, even if I didn't love most of it. I will get at least one more box to try before I decide StrideBox isn't for me. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

Allrighty, mostly back in my groove again this past week!

Total miles run: 18 (!)

Monday: Yoga and 3.1 mile run

I didn't feel good enough to do my run on Sunday, so I decided to double up on Monday and get a yoga class in before going to the gym to do a 5K on the treadmill. 

Tuesday: Bootcamp

I really enjoyed this bootcamp class at a local gym. There were three of us ladies there for the class and the instructor set up three different circuits of three different exercises. We did things like jumping jacks, jump rope or stretches between each circuit. The circuits were things like rowing, farmer carries, upper body work with the rip stick, squat moves with the cable machine, box jumps, ab work with the medicine balls . . . it was a great workout. 

Wednesday: 3 mile run

Short and sweet. Nothing too exciting except for how warm it was out! I ran in shorts and a long sleeved shirt and got too warm!

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 4 mile run

Did an early (for me) morning run along Alki. I spotted some geese and their goslings! So cute!

Saturday: Rest

Typically this is a crosstraining day for me, but I didn't feel great, so I took the day off of doing a regular workout and instead only did my PT exercises.

Sunday: 7.9 mile run

Had a wonderful run with my friend Sally. We met at Gasworks Park, ran over the Fremont Bridge, in to Magnolia, then over the Ballard Locks, back through Ballard and ended at Gasworks again. It was a really fun run, and I was so glad Sally humored me by taking some walk breaks. I decided not to torture her with a 4:1 run:walk, so instead we just walked for about a minute at the end of each mile. I think it worked well for me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

So, I did, like, basically nothing this entire past week.

How many miles did I run? ZERO. My schedule called for a long run of only 5K and two 3 mile runs, so I don't feel too upset about it. I was going to run on Sunday but then a bunch of things out of my control happened to make the run not happen. No biggie. I will try to just get right back in to it this week.

Yes, I need to pay attention to what my PT suggested, which was to stop running if I am having the same issues. But here's the thing: I don't really want to. I know, I know, but I swear, I will never ever ever get back together run pain-free, so I'm just going to run mostly pain-free and call it good enough for now. And keep working towards the holy grail, but not stop everything while I am on my way. 

So the workouts this week were only some PT work every day (clamshelling the heck out of my glutes!) and ONE measly workout with my dear friend Sarah. We work out soooo slowly together, since we have so much gabbing to do. Hey, even our jaws need a workout, right?

The workout we did together was almost the exact same as the one we did last Saturday, only we swapped ellipticalling for rowing.

Warm-up, then:
*20 mins elliptical 
/*3 sets of 10 squats w/ 10# plate
\*3 sets of 10 assisted pull-ups and 10 assisted tricep dips
/*3 sets of 10 stability ball roll-outs
/*3 sets of 10 ball/bridge roll-outs
\*3 sets of 10 overhead lunges w/ 10# plate
\*3 sets of 10 squats w/ 10# plate

I thought I would do my Sunday run AND my yoga class on Monday . . . we'll see if I actually do it. It's so hard to come back from a week of barely moving to a double workout day. I'll report back. If I survive. 

p.s. My cold is mostly gone and the kitten seems to be about 10% improved. Still super duper worried about him, but he did move around a tiny bit over the weekend and even scratched his claws on the scratcher and batted a couple of times at a toy! Hurray! 

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Rough Week

Ugh. Hopefully I am on the tail end of a rough week, but who knows. Life doesn't always go as planned, huh?

My kitten is still not doing well. On top of wonky bloodwork that doesn't point to anything specific, he always apparently has had giardia since we adopted him. I am so worried about him that I've been cancelling most plans that aren't necessary so that I can be home and just keep an eye on him. He's not struggling, not yet, but I just don't know when he's going to take a turn for the worse. And I want to make sure he is eating and is comfortable and warm. Our poor other kitten, Opal, is a completely spastic little thing. She is about four months old and just gets in to EVERYTHING. The number one reason we adopted two kittens was so they would have a companion . . . and now Opal's companion is too ill to interact with her, so she finds her own trouble to get in to. Today Opal jumped on Inky and he hissed at her. It almost broke my heart, because poor Opal just wants to play, and Inky just wants to rest. 

One thing that has made it easier to be okay being home is that I have been sick for a few days. Just a cold, but it is exhausting me. Well, the cold and the emotions of the week, I suppose. 

So, due to sticking around the house and not feeling well, I haven't had a real workout since Sunday's run. I had been taking one rest day a week for the past few weeks, so this is a lot of rest time, but honestly, I don't really care. I am too exhausted too think about it too much. I am trying to do my PT exercises every day, though, which leads me to my next point . . . 

I couldn't go to my PT appointment on Wednesday because of this little thing you might have heard of called the Seahawks parade that drew over 700,000 to Seattle's downtown. Um, yeah, I wasn't going anywhere--including to the parade (I think I was one of about a dozen people in Seattle who didn't make it). The kicker is that I had waited weeks for the appointment and the next opening is several weeks out. I spoke to my therapist on the phone, however, and he doesn't want me to keep running if I'm still having the same aches and pains. Here's the funny part: I actually asked him if I could quit doing run/walk, since I was still in pain, why not just run the whole time anyways? He laughed. And then told me I need to bring my running down to a level where I am not in pain afterwards. And I hate that, because guess what that means? Bye bye Marathon attempt #3! He also suggested I find a trainer who can work with me to build functional strength in relation to running, so I'll be working on that. 

It sucks. I feel like last weekend I was at the top of everything. I didn't know how sick my kitten was, I thought I was doing fine plugging away at my training plan (yes, ignoring the aches and pains), and hadn't gotten sick yet. Hopefully everything will be on the upswing again soon! 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A Post About My Kitten

There are so many things I could be writing about, but since I am sitting here feeling really sad and worried about one of our kittens, that's what I'm going to focus on.

To recap, we adopted two kittens, Inky and Opal, a couple of weeks before Christmas. We got them from a cat rescue and they both battled upper respiratory infections shortly after coming home, but eventually got over them. Opal has turned in to a hilarious, curious, snuggly, adorable kitten. Inky, on the other hand, basically acts like an old man-- like my Benjamin acted when he was 18. Inky has spent a couple of weeks just really sleeping a lot, not playing, but still eating, drinking, and going potty. We were concerned, but not worried.

On Sunday I noticed him sleeping on a towel on a shelf in our bathroom when I went in to take a shower after my run. He was still laying there about seven or so hours later. That set off some alarms-- that was a long time to be in one place. 

On Monday I took him to the ve's office and the doctor couldn't find anything obviously wrong with him. She suggested a blood test, which I agreed to, assuming it wouldn't show anything and would be a waste of money. Well, it turned out he has an elevated white blood cell count and an elevated globulin level. These things could point to something as simple as a bacterial infection-- so we're going to try antibiotics to see if they help him feel better.

But, it could be something worse. Much worse. Something like Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) which is basically always fatal in cats. Young cats who live in high-stress environments (hello, he was weaned too early, lived in shelters, transferred to Seattle from Western Washington, has already been sick with something else  . . . ) can develop FIP from a virus many cats are exposed to. 

I am trying not to focus on that, though. We want to help our little guy feel better. He is about five months old and despite everything we have done to care for and love him, we can't change the way his life began. 

Mr. Inky

Monday, February 03, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

This has been . . . a good, but also frustrating, week.

I have done all of my workouts, and enjoyed them for the most part. The frustrating part is that my body hurts, just like the "good" ol' days. After my 5 miler last week Sunday I felt more like I ran closer to 10 or more. NOT good.

I don't know why. I don't know why all of that rest and all of the PT work and all of the EVERYTHING has made it so NOTHING has changed in my body. Well, one thing that has changed is that the pin-point pain in my foot is gone, now replaced by a dull ache in the same foot. 

I meet with my physical therapist again this coming week, after not having seen him since before Christmas and am looking forward to chatting with him and hearing his suggestions.

So, with that, I present to you:

Total Miles Run: 13

Monday: Yoga

At my favorite yoga studio.

Tuesday: "TRX" class

So, I have been trying out some new classes at a new-to-me gym, and decided to do an early morning TRX class this day. I ended up having an awesome workout-- but the only thing I used the TRX for was the warm-up and cool-down! Kind of a bummer. I have been really interested in learning how to use the TRX, so hopefully my next TRX class will, well, use the TRX. 

Warm-up, then circuits of:
*squats with a stability ball between my back and the wall, lifting a ViPR overhead and out in front
*upper body work with a rip stick
*ab work on a mat with a stability ball
finished with stretching

Wednesday: 2.75 Miles Run

When I left the house it was raining a teeny bit. Once I was got close to my turn-around point the heavens opened up and I was POURED on. I was having a hard go of it in the rain, and had to get back to pick my girls up when the bus dropped them off, so I turned around a little early. By the time I got home I was soaked as soaked could be, and pretty cold, too. 

Thursday: Rest 

Friday: 4 Miles Run 

Got in a run in the morning-- I had to wait until the sun was up since I don't have any good reflective gear for being out in the dark! Pretty much every time I run I make sure to eat a little while before hand, but this run I went out on an empty stomach. Was surprised that I felt just fine the whole time, so maybe I can try this more often?

Saturday: CT at the Gym

Warm-up, then:
*12 mins on the rower
/*3 sets of 10 assisted pull-ups
 *3 sets of 10 assisted tricep dips
\*3 sets of squats w/ 10 lb weight-- to do these you sit down on a bench then stand straight up (no leaning forward!) so they are definitely trickier!
/*2 sets of 10 stability ball roll-outs
/*2 sets of 10 bridges w/ feet on ball, rolling ball in and back out
\*3 sets of 10 lunges w/ 10# plate overhead
\*3 sets of 10 squats w/ 10# plate

Sunday: 6.25 Miles Run

Finally had a wonderful run! I kept telling myself to keep my run intervals slower, and I think that helped. In addition, I dressed more appropriately for the cold weather and the sun came out and a race happened to be taking place on the path along Alki, so I spent a good portion of my run around a lot of other people-- in Seahawks gear, no less! So that just was more fun and took my mind off of things. The only bad thing was my stupid water belt kept creeping up my hips. I decided to bring it with two bottles filled in case I needed it, and it annoyed me so much! I have never had so many issues with it. Maybe it was my slippery cw-x tights?

Sunday concludes four weeks of marathon training! Woo hoo! Four down, 20 to go!