Monday, March 31, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

This week was . . . a little frustrating. It started off really well, yoga on Monday felt good, if not really difficult to do the day after a half marathon. I wasn't feeling hurt (yet . . .) but my legs just about laughed out loud when the instructor asked us to do half moon. For the first time ever I was like, um, no. I am going to do something else, then I promptly slumped in to pigeon pose.

Tuesday is my new track day, but I wasn't sure I was ready for that yet, so I swapped it for a strength session, which felt good. No major issues, though my knee was starting to be a little whiny, especially on lateral lunges. 

Wednesday I met with my PT and let her know I was starting to get a wee bit worried about my knee. It was a new thing, this time it was the inside of my left knee- an area I have never had any kind of pain or discomfort in. My PT decided that it was bugging me because my IT band tugged on the outside of my knee during the half, which might have thrown off my knee cap and caused pain on the inside. She said she wasn't overly worried about it, and we talked about some other things and she cleared me to keep running. 

I ran that afternoon and felt good, but my knee felt like it went downhill after that until Friday night when I was almost in tears, with ice on my knee, not knowing whether or not I should do my long run the next morning. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have run, but in my real world, I decided to go for it. The knee felt decent by morning and while Iit bugged me a bit during the run, it never erupted in to full blown pain. I also seemed to notice a direct correlation between actively focusing on my glutes and a decrease in knee discomfort. 

Luckily, at this exact moment in time, I can't feel my inner knee. It made a few squeaks at me while I did my strength workout on Sunday afternoon, but nothing significant.

Anyways, the other exciting thing about Sunday is that it marked the end of the first half of my marathon training plan. I have made it half way. I have run a half marathon. Now the real fight begins. Will I be strong enough to get to the start line of this marathon? Who knows, but I am working like hell to strengthen all of the right muscles. Stay tuned! 

Total Miles Run: 13.2

Monday: Yoga

Tuesday: Strength

"Push" sequence.

Wednesday: 5K Run

I did this run as my Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas virtual 5K. Was going to link to it, but apparently the site is down? Or no longer active? I guess I am supposed to get a free t-shirt out of doing this, which is fun. 

I decided I want to get pink laces for these shoes. To add some frill. 

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 3 Miles Run

Typically I don't ever run back-to-back days, and it probably was especially not a good idea when my knee was already hurting, but there ya go. I did it this week like an idiot.

Frozen corn on my knee. Exciting.

Saturday: 7.3 Miles Run 

This was a wonderful run with Sally. We ran around Greenlake as part of the route and it was so lovely. Since it was a cloudy/rainy morning there wasn't a ton of people out running around the lake so it was almost peaceful!

Sitting in the car waiting for the rain to stop. It actually did about 1/2 mile in to the run 
and then I just sweated my booty off in my dumb rain jacket. 

Sunday: Strength and Myofascial Release

I did a scaled back strength workout from home. Focused a lot on abs and then spent a lot of time with the "it hurts-so-good" tennis ball under the most tender parts of my butt and back. Ouch. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mercer Island Half Marathon Race Recap

Dear reader, let me take you back, back to a time when there were two friends, who lived in two different countries, who both loved to run, and often wished they could run together. Twice they ran a 10K together (this one and this one), but they had bigger dreams, they wanted to team up for a half marathon. Alas, one of the runners, she was incredibly injury-prone, and it just wasn't looking like it was in the cards to run the half together . . . until a few weeks ago. Out of nowhere, the injured runner was making great progress in her training plan towards a full. The non-injured, Canadian-born runner was game. The injured runner found a half marathon that fit in to her schedule. The non-injured runner booked a ticket on the ferry to sail down to the states. A plan was made. THEY WOULD FINALLY GET TO RUN A HALF MARATHON, SIDE BY SIDE.

I'm so tricky, right? I'm that injured runner. My dear friend Tara is the non-injured runner. 

On Saturday night, after stuffing our faces with open-faced turkey sandwiches and Molly Moon's ice cream, Matt and I picked Tara up at the ferry terminal. We came home, chatted about things, and headed to bed.

Carb loading at it's finest.

The first wonderful thing about the Mercer Island half is, if you are running it (as opposed to walking it), the completely decent start time of 9:00 am. I was worried about the seemingly complicated parking situation (several parking lots all over the island with shuttle buses to the start) so we left the house at 7:30, go to Mercer Island at 7:45, and ended up parking a few blocks from the start line in a huge lot. We were at the start at about 8:00am. Easy peasy. I didn't pick up our bibs early, so we headed in to the community center gym. It was extremely well organized for packet pick-up. We got our stuff, attached our bibs to our belts, then checked our gear before choosing to stand in a long line for the inside bathroom. Of note, however, is that on our way to packet pick-up we noticed a long line porta potties with no lines. We chose to wait inside because it would kill time and keep us warm until the race started. It was the perfect decision. Once we headed back outside we lined up pretty far back in the pack and the race began. 

Tara and I, ready to run! 

The first couple of miles were fairly crowded, but not annoyingly so. Tara and I kept around a 10:30 min/mile pace during the early miles. Eventually the crowds spread out, and the rolling, twisting course was laid out before us. I seriously think there were less flat spots than there were hills on the course! The course followed Mercer Way around the outer edge of the island, in a clockwise fashion. The inner lane of the road was closed for runners, the outer lane was open to cars. Truth be told, I absolutely loved the hills. The only thing I didn't like about the road were the parts where it was quite slanted.

The course had plenty of water stops, some of them with nuun available. When there was nuun I always took that, as I already drink it daily and knew it wouldn't upset my stomach. There was one gel station with Clif shots, around the half way point. I took one of my own gels around mile 5, then held on to my Clif shot to take around mile 9. I absolutely LOVE vanilla Clif shots, so I was thrilled that they were available on the course.

Some fun race photos I stole from the race's website.

Tara and I chatted the entire way, save for the top half of some of the steeper or longer hills. It made the miles slip by without notice. Throughout the entire race we were treated to views of Lake Washington and the shore on the other side, as well as the gorgeous houses that the populate the island. The volunteers were extra nice and helpful, and a few locals came out to cheer on runners, which was so lovely.

Of course, I need to add, one of the most amazing things about the whole day was that we were running in the most perfect running weather ever. The sun came out around the end of mile 1, the temps were in the upper 40s. Couldn't have been more perfect if we'd specifically ordered it!

Thankfully I felt really strong almost all of the time. Around mile 9 my left knee was developing a "niggle". I was worried, knowing my history with ITBS, and hoped that it wouldn't explode in to actual pain. Focusing my energy on making my glutes work seemed to do the trick, however, as the niggle actually went away a couple of miles later. Hurray for strength training and learning how to run correctly! Sadly, this doesn't mean I came out of the race unscathed. After my 10 mile run the previous Sunday I developed a small blister on the inner edge of my foot under my big toe, so I put a piece of leukotape over that area for this race. I thought I was golden, but when I pulled the tape off at home I had two big blisters under it! What the heck?! 

Back to the course-- many people warned me of the hills-- and like I said, they were truly non-stop, but none of them were too difficult. Most were low and rolling, save for the biggest one around mile 11. That was more work. 

My Garmin's elevation reading.

There was also a short, steep hill right before the finish line, but luckily it turned in to a brief downhill before we ducked under the finisher's arch. 

We did it!

Garmin results. Perfect! 

The medal, hanging on my medal rack.

There were only two negatives about this race. One was the finish line food. We were only offered water, bagels, bananas and oranges. No chocolate milk, no peanut butter, no vendors shilling protein bars or anything (at least not in the food tent). I was really surprised there wasn't more variety, and that there was no protein. The other is that I thought the t-shirts were super lame. Long sleeved, unisex, white, tech shirts. Mine ended up being huge on me (though I wouldn't have worn it anyways) and went straight in to the Goodwill pile. I wish races like this would give you the option of donating the cost of the shirt to the charity-- instead of giving you a shirt to donate to charity, I guess. 

We didn't stick around long enough to check out the booths or any other entertainment, as we had to go pick up my daughter before heading home. 

Luckily, by the time we got back to my house my husband had a big ol' spread ready for us-- omelets, potatoes, fruit, sausages, toast, coffee and orange juice! Yum, yum. 

Post-race meal, hit the spot!

After every other half marathon I have run I was completely wrecked for the rest of the day-- this time I felt tired, and sore, but able to go about the rest of the day (albeit a little more slowly than usual!). I took it as a great sign, one that meant I ran the race slow enough, and that I am doing the right things in training to help prevent more injuries. 

In closing, I would absolutely run the Mercer Island half marathon again! I would also recommend it to any locals who are either well-trained on hills or are open to the challenge. The course is anything but boring! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

What a great week! My highest mileage in a very long time (at least since late September, which is as far back as dailymile will show me). It's all very exciting.

This week was all about gearing up to run the half marathon on Sunday. Without re-hashing Friday's post, I will just say I wanted to keep my workouts consistent with my training, but be careful not to push it so much I would be worn out on Sunday.

Total Miles Run: 22.3

Monday: Yoga

Man, being the least flexible person in my yoga class is a wee bit demoralizing. Ah, well. I will soldier on! 

Tuesday: 3 Miles on the Track

I did the exact same workout I did last week: 1/2 mile warm-up jog, stretch and drills, then stride the straights/jog the corners for 8 total laps. Again, I did two laps at a time, but I didn't push myself to the limit this time. 

Wednesday: Cross Training

I had a session with my trainer. She didn't kick my ass this time, phew! We did some tough warm-up drills (why are warm-ups always so hard?!) and then focused mostly on abs, stretching and myofascia release. 

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 6.2 Miles

I was not feeling this run. Blech. I woke up and ran without eating anything other than a few Honey Stinger chews and I just had zero "pep in my step" the whole way. It was a lovely morning to be out running along the sound, though, so that's a plus!

Saturday: Cross Training

I did the "pull" workout at home since this one is easier on my body than the "push" workout. 

Sunday: 13.1 Miles!

I ran this with my friend Tara and we ran (in my opinion) the perfect "race" (again, we just ran it as a training run, not a race). My goal was to run in the 2:10-2:15 range and we finished in 2:11. Perfect-o! Our overall time was a beautiful negative split-- not that we tried, it just turned out the beginning was crowded enough to keep up is the 10:xx range and the end we were running more like 9:30s. The course was perfect, I loved all of the hills, actually, and was so glad I had trained on hills otherwise I would have been DYING. Anyways, stay tuned for a race recap! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Coming Up on My Fourth Half Marathon, and Other News

This weekend I will be running my fourth half marathon, The Mercer Island Half Marathon.

Mercer Island Half 2014

I won't lie, I'm pretty excited about it! Despite my excitement, I won't be racing this, which as a mid-packer, means I won't push it (because obviously I wouldn't have been up for any AG awards no matter what). My goal for the race is to run between 2:10 and 2:15-- which would be on par with my long run pace. It will be extra special because my friend, Tara, is coming to run with me! 

Since I'm not racing the Mercer Island Half, I was really unsure how to approach the "race". The distance is simply on my calendar for full marathon training, so running a half is just par for the plan. That means I didn't taper, I am not "reverse-tapering" next week, either. I guess when you are racing, it requires you to taper and do all of those great things, because you will be pushing it to the edge of your potential. When you are simply running a race for training, you don't need to build up to the race. Or at least, that's how I assume it works. I am mostly hoping this half doesn't wreck me, that I won't have to take the entire week off next week-- because that would be a bad sign for my future long runs over the half marathon distance!

This morning I did 6.2 miles (my friend Tara, who is running the half with me this weekend, told me she never runs just 6 miles, always a 10K, so that's my new thing) in new shoes. Earlier this week I went to a Seattle running store that I thought would have the largest shoe selection so I could get a second pair of running shoes. I liked my Saucony Mirage 3s, but they weren't my favorite ever. I thought I would likely get another pair of the Saucony Rides that I like, but here's what happened: I get to the store, they pretty much have nothing in my size (which is an 11.5 women's in running shoes, thankyouverymuch). I also did this little gait analysis thing, which I wasn't too excited about, I assumed I knew my feet well by now. Long story short, they said I needed a stability shoe (like the Mirage), not a neutral shoe (like the Ride), so I came home with another pair of Mirages. But! This time I tried something new-- I got a men's pair of the Mirage 4s. Took them for a spin this morning and I liked them! I think my issue is that my Mirage 3s had a little less space in the toe box than my Ride 5s and that annoyed me. Men's shoes give women a little more space in the toe box. 

Here's the beauties I picked. I am not 100% sold on the color, but my girls think they look cool.
Not too bad, huh? 

In other news, I am really loving my new trainer. This week we worked on sort of an ab-heavy, stretching, myofascial release type of "workout". The workout is good for days I don't want to push it too hard. She also taught me about Voodoo floss. Have you ever heard of this? It's essentially wrapping your appendage in a tight, stretchy band (my trainer taught me with a bicycle tube that had been cut lengthwise along one side, but you can buy special bands). After wrapping your, say, lower leg, you then stretch your calf for a few minutes. When you take the band off the blood rushes to that area and starts repairing any damage. Interesting, no? I can't wait to try it at home!

This image was stolen from 
It shows, obviously, what the voodoo floss looks like on your lower leg. 

And in even other news . . . right now at this exact moment my body doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart, which is really good as I head in to my run on Sunday. Last time I ran a half marathon, as my goal race, I just crossed my fingers and hoped I would make it to the finish line. Feeling much more confident this time (but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed!). 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

Another strong week! It seriously is uplifting to have so many strong workouts under my belt now. Maybe I am on the right path? Unfortunately injuries can crop up even when it seems they are far, far away, but I will enjoy feeling good while I do! This officially marks the end of ten weeks of marathon training. I still haven't run over a half marathon distance, which is where everything has fallen apart in the past, so I am not getting my hopes up . . . but we shall see!

Total Miles Run: 18

Monday: Yoga

Back to my regular teacher. It was a great class!

Tuesday: 3 Miles on the Track!

I did a track workout for the first time in forever! (and yes, I was singing the Frozen song in my head while I wrote that-- it's on the tv as I type!)

My new trainer encouraged me to add track workouts in to my weekly schedule, so I did *almost* what she suggested. She wanted me to warm up and cool down with one mile jogs, but I didn't have enough time so I only did 1/2 mile each. This was the workout:

*Jog 1/2 mile
*Leg swings
*Hamstring high kick walk
*Hamstring bent over toe touch walk
*2 sets of skipping exercises
*High Knees
*Butt Kick
*Single leg run
*Run 8 laps of the track, jog the corners and stride the straights
*Jog 1/2 mile

It was a fun workout on a gorgeous sunny day. I had to break the laps in to 4 sets of 2, they were hard! I think I might have been over-zealous on the strides . . .

Wednesday: Strength

This was a "push" day. I had almost everything I needed to do the workout at home, so I set up on the deck. The only thing I really missed was a bosu ball, so I used my daughter's giant pillow to mimic the unstable surface.

Warm-up with:
*Lateral lunge
*Single leg jumps with a touch back
*Running arms
*Bulgarian split squat
*Lunge jumps
*Dumbbell chest press (I did the chest presses laying on a stability ball)
*Close grip chest press
*Dumbbell chest press with alternating arms
*Single leg step-up with a should press
*Speed step-up
*Tricep cable push-down (I did these by looping my exercise band over a tree branch)
*Bench dip
*Calf raise
*Lateral lunge with bosu (used pillow)
*Toe tappers with band
*Push-ups (supposed to use bosu but I just did them on the ground)
*Plank elbow to knee (again, supposed to use bosu but I did on the ground)

My set-up on the deck. 

Thursday: Run 5 Miles

Gorgeous, gorgeous day for a run along the water!

I ended my run by a cafe that squeezes fresh juice. 
Enjoyed it with an unbeatable view!

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Run 10 Miles

My friend Sally was running 20 miles, so I met her for her last 10. It was a great run overall-- very hilly, though. It's hard to run far in West Seattle without some monster hills unless you stick to Alki, which can get boring over and over due to it being so flat. We needed hill training, so up (and down!) we went! I was pretty worn out afterwards. My left knee threatened to revolt at about mile 8, which was concerning, but it went away. All in all, I am excited about my half marathon next weekend! 

I created a route in Map My Run and it said it was 9.92 miles. Sure enough-- it was exactly that! I had to run a few more feet to get that last .08 to register a full 10 miles. 

The elevation profile of our 10 mile run.

Sally (on the right) and I at the end! 
I can't believe how easy Sally made 20 miles look!

Sunday: Strength

It was a "push" day. Was worried that doing a strength workout the day after a 10 mile run would be pretty hard, and perhaps even unwise, but the push day seems easier than the pull day, so the workout wasn't too much. I didn't push it (haha!) by using weights that were too heavy or going through the routine too quickly. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

Well, this was an odd week. Not too many miles run, but hey, not every week is perfect! Got a lot of strength workouts in, though, which was nice.

Total Miles Run: 8.4

Monday: Yoga

Had a substitute yoga teacher, which made me cranky. I want MY yoga teacher, darnitall! Was a decent class, but not my favorite.

Tuesday: 2.2 Miles Run and Bootcamp

I really wanted to go to bootcamp even though it was a running day, so I decided to do both! I don't think my body would hold up to too many two-a-days, but this went well. Tried to do some intervals on my short morning run to make it "worth it". The bootcamp was okay. There were six of us in the class, when in the past there has been only me or two other people. The instructor spent a lot of time setting up stations and explaining things so I felt like I didn't end up working as hard as I usually do in the class. 

Wednesday: Strength With My Trainer

She taught me a "pull" sequence (last week she taught me  "push"). Have you ever heard of dividing workouts in to push/pull? My previous trainer, who had me doing more crossfit-style lifting, was in to push/pull (she also added a "plyo" day). To be honest, I am not completely clear on what push/pull means, other than pushing is more pushing weight away from your body, and pulling is more pulling in. But it's not that simple. It also involves different muscle groups, and working out a push group one day and a pull group another day is supposed to be beneficial. Sounds good enough to me. In this workout I warmed up (crazy hard warm-up), then:

*butt blaster (lay with head and shoulders on a stability ball, then lower hips and bring them back up)
*donkey kicks with an exercise band
*single arm high pull 
*dumbbell deadlift
*front raises with dumbbell
*diagonal row to shoulder press with dumbbell
*one arm row squat matrix
*hamstring curl on stability ball
*snatch with dumbbell
*balancing bicep curl

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Strength at Home

I repeated Wednesday's workout. Was supposed to have run, but I was home with a "sick" kiddo (likely just sick of school and I was suckered in to letting her stay home when I really needed her to be at school!) so I couldn't run. Strength instead! I bought a stability ball on Thursday so it was nice to put it to use. I also ordered a bosu ball, can't wait to try it out at home!

Saturday: Rest

Took the day off to support one of my favorite runners! My sister-in-law was running her first half marathon and the girls and I made a pretty epic cheering effort, if I do say so myself. She ran the Lake Sammamish half marathon, which is a point-to-point course (note to self: do one of those!) so we found her at three different points on the course AND met her at the finish line! One of the funniest things about that was not only did we see my SIL four times, but also everyone who was running right in front of her. Those people might have been sick of us by the end, haha.

Ordered a 12 pack of cowbells from Amazon for the Ragnar team, but we 
busted out three of them to cheer on Saturday. They worked great!

My girlies with their signs. Mine said "Help! My sister-in-law is half crazy!" and 
it got a few chuckles from runners, including my sister-in-law!

I have said it before and I will say it again: I like cheering for races almost as much as I like running them. It is SO. MUCH. FUN. to cheer on runners. Next time I cheer my sign will say "holding this sign is making my arm tired" because the girls were cracking me up complaining their arm hurt holding it up for high-fives.

Sunday: 6.2 Miles Run

So happy that a friend watched the girls for me so I could get out for a run! After torrential downpours all afternoon and evening on Saturday I was nervous it would be a soggy run on Sunday-- but as luck would have it, the weather was perfect! I ended up losing my long sleeves and ran in a tank and shorts. Ahhh!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-up

Total Miles Run: 19.2

Whew, what a week! I shifted my runs around a little bit this week because Sally and I made plans do our long run together on Saturday, where I typically run long on Sunday. It worked out really well! But I also added some really tough strength workouts, in addition to my longest run yet in many months, so it was exhausting-- but still so much fun. 

Monday: Yoga

I was home with a sick daughter on Monday, so I did a very short yoga video on YouTube that was supposed to be for runners. It was okay. She was doing some moves that are very difficult for me because I am so, so, so inflexible. I need to find some other videos for times I can't make it to class!

Tuesday: Run 3 Miles

Nothing fancy. 

Wednesday: Train With Trainer plus 2 Miles

Oh, my. I wrote a bit about this workout last Wednesday on the ol' blog. It started with a 2 mile warm-up run. The stretching, then leg swings, then running drills, then the strength exercises. It took about 75 minutes total.

Thursday: Run 5 Miles

Such a gorgeous morning for a run! It was my absolute ideal. My phone said it was 47*, and it was sunny and no wind. PERFECT. I wore my cw-x capris and a short sleeved shirt with arm sleeves. The arm sleeves came down about 1/2 way in to the run. 

Friday: Rest

SO needed it. My legs were fried after Wednesday and Thursday! 

Saturday: Run 9.2 Miles

This was mostly a great run. I met up with Sally in the middle of her 18 miler. We tackled a very long and pretty steep hill right off the bat. It kicked my ass and I needed to walk a couple of times. After that it downhill almost the whole rest of the way, whew! I felt great after that hill was behind me, but my feet started "falling asleep" about 8 miles in. It was the weirdest feeling! Sally and another friend suggested it might have been from tying my shoes too tight . . . and I think it probably was. I also had on compression socks, so my feet were squished.

Sunday: Strength Workout at the Gym

I was scared for this workout, as it was the one my trainer gave me from Wednesday. I knew it would be hard, but I got it all done in just under an hour (I wasn't trying to go fast!). Most exercises I did two sets of 10 or 15:

*lateral lunges
*single leg jumps with a touch back (bend over, touch the ground and extend the same side leg behind, then come back upright and jump on one leg)
*bulgarian split squats
*lunge jumps
*dumbbell chest presses with back on bosu ball
*close grip chest presses with back on bosu ball
*dumbbell chest presses, alternating arms, with back on bosu ball
*step up single leg shoulder presses (step one leg up on to a bench while lifting weights in to a shoulder press)
*speed step ups
*tricep cable push downs
*bench dips
*calf raises with toes in/out/neutral
*lateral lunges with bosu ball
*push-ups with bosu ball
*plank with elbow to knee on bosu ball