Monday, October 31, 2011

October in Review

Okay, here we go!

2011 Mileage Recap:

January: 66.62
February: 75.69
March: 109.97
April: 103.58
May: 96.99
June: 124.2
July: 151.95
August: 172.61
September: 193.06
October: 125.05

Hmm, that doesn't look like 200 miles in October. This time let's start out with the bad and work our way to the good...

What didn't go well:

I don't really have the energy anymore to discuss what went wrong with October, but you can read about it here if you're just tuning in.

One of my things to look forward to this month should have been a long awaited 50 mile week. Unfortuantely I never got there. I peaked around 47/48 in late September. While I'm a little disappointed, I know there are many more training cycles in the future and I'll get there eventually. It's kind of like my old 31 mpw ceiling (and gosh does that seem like a lifetime ago!).

What went well:

I started out the month on a good note at the Rest in Peace 5k. It would have been a definite PR had the course not been short, but more importantly my legs weren't hurting and I had a blast.

I had my second 20-mile run and destroyed it. Again, it was a miracle day when my shins didn't hurt. Unfortunately that would not last...

Next up I hit a pretty big milestone at Ragnar, where I (slowly and painfully) crushed 34.5 miles over 5 legs (shin splints and all). It was stupid of me, but it sure felt great in the end!

This month I've rediscovered cross training and LOVED it, especially swimming, which I've started to crave on a daily basis.

Yesterday I was originally meant to do a 22 mile run, my last long run before tapering. I decided to just do as much as my body would allow/I felt comfortable with. That ended up being one loop of the river, a little over 11 miles. It felt fantastic! It was my first double digit run in more than three weeks and I got my pace down to the low 9's where it hasn't been since the beginning of the month. 

My biggest goal for October was to listen to my body. Based on that goal alone, mileage count excluded, that makes October a successful month. Yes, it took me till around October 19th to actually do something about listening to my body (ie. not run), but a success nonetheless. If you want to read more about this you can go here, where I've already discussed my thoughts.

Another cool thing: I signed up for another 50k for 2012. The PHUNT 50k on January 7th. It's a fatass so it should be pretty chill (and chilly!). Mike, my sister, and her boyfriend are running too so I'm stoked!

November goals:

The obvious big things coming up are my taper period and the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th (less than 3 weeks!).

Ideally I would have a full 3 week taper, but because of October's happenings I'm going to try to get in one last 18-20 mile run this Saturday. I know doing that 15 days before the race is probably not the best way to go about it, but at this point I'm more concerned about getting my endurance back up to where it needs to be.

I also want to re-encorporate a little speedwork during my taper if possible, considering most of my October runs were dead slow thanks to my shins. I don't even know what fast feels like anymore. At the very least, I'd like to sprint the last quarter mile of the marathon, so I need to work on it a little bit. I'll also need to make a decision about whether or not to go for a sub-4 with a pace group, or ditch the time goal and just fight to finish. I guess it's up to my legs over the next few weeks to make that decision!

In addition to that there are some cool non-running related things like our engagement photo session on Friday, November 4th and our Engagement Party in DC on Friday, November 25th. Also, can't forget about Thanksgiving (apple pie NOM NOM NOM)!

My biggest goal for this month is to continue to train smartly. I want cross training at least 3 times per week whether it's spin or the pool. Training smartly also means other things like making sure I'm eating really well this month. Possibly cutting out that one glass of wine I have every Friday night. Getting enough sleep. Stretching every night. 20 minute abs and arm conditioning at least 5-6 nights per week. You get the idea. I've made it this far so I'm sure this is manageable!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Today, on October 29th, the fine city of Philadelphia was graced with it's first snow fall. And all I have to say is....what the F%$&*@k?!

There's pretty much only one acceptable time of year for snow. That is, between December 1st and January 1st. Anytime before or after that is about as cool as Bank of America's new debit card fees.

Though I couldn't actually capture the snow falling on the camera, you can see those tiny suckers sticking to the cars
Those two things do NOT belong together (source)

In addition to leaving my mood sour, snowy weather also has other effects:

Snow Chlo ready to go in her puff coat
Seriously, it's not even a vanity thing. She has no body fat so she has to be wrapped up. It wins cute points too though :)

Luckily I did not have much planned for today other than working on a take home midterm, but I also wanted to get in a swim at some point. You know what's awesome? Biking through the sleet and snow to the gym. Tiny icicles stabbing me in the face! Ahh!

After a slow, slushy ride home
My near blind ride there and back ended up being worth it since I was able to crush out 1600 meters. For the rest of the evening I think we're going to play it cool and do a little of this:

Pup fest on the couch with movies
Hopefully all of this snowy silliness will be gone by the time I wake up tomorrow!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursdays: Yep, I'm Jumping on the Bandwagon

A lot of bloggers have something along the lines of Thankful Thursdays and while I try to stay as original as possible, I can't pass up the oppotunity to take a moment and reflect on all of the things I'm grateful for. So, without further ado, I present the inaugural Thankful Thursdays post!

I'm thankful for my gym membership

The last week and a half has been very trying. Dealing with a running injury is always difficult, and being able to supplement that with other sweat-producing activities, is extremely comforting. I've only been a member of my new gym for a week and I already feel at home. I've hit up three spinning classes, the cardio room, and the pool twice. From now on I hope to incorporate more of this crosstraining into my training plans. As we approach the colder months I also know that there will be a few days when running outside just isn't an option. Yay for gym memberships!

I'm thankful for Sweetgreen

I've previously expressed by undying love for Sweetgreen and all of it's greeny goodness. I haven't visited in awhile, but this week it's made a comeback and I couldn't be happier. Thank you, Georgetown University students, who made this place possible.

I'm thankful that October is almost over

October has been a rough month no doubt, but I have good vibes for November. Not only is my body feeling better and better, but each day that passes means I am one day closer to hanging out with my awesome family. I've been super busy and have not had as much mom/sister phone time as I would have liked, but come marathon weekend we will all be together again and I can't freaking wait!

Literally my all time favorite family photo
I'm thankful for upset stomachs

During my 5 mile run Tuesday evening my stomach was acting up all kinds of crazy. Normally I would be cursing this feeling, however that evening I embraced it because, hey, I was running again! And sometimes running and upset stomachs go hand-in-hand, and there's something very familiar about that. And after more than a week off that old familiarity felt kind of good (crazy, I know).

I'm thankful for Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Oat Bars

These things, with all of their oatey, peanut buttery goodness, are freaking delicious. End of story.

Happiness in a box
 I'm thankful for being with someone with a sense of humor

Mike has always made me laugh. It's one of the reasons I fell in love with him. So even when he does something small, like taking a picture from my blog of me celebrating a pain-free 5 miles and turns it into a Subway ad, it makes me smile. It also kind of makes me want Subway. Clearly, I'm easy to market to.

Five dollar. Five dollar footlong.
I'm thankful to start running with Back on My Feet again tomorrow

I've missed the last three Fridays running with them because of Ragnar and then my injuries. I'm so, so excited to get back out there and run with these amazing people again!

What things are you thankful for?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Slave to the Numbers

Let's start out with some numbers:

Big numba' 5!
5 - the number of miles I ran yesterday pain free

2 - the number of calves I have to listen to carefully over the coming weeks

1,200 - the number of meters I swam this morning

16 - the number of times I swallowed water during my swim (compared to 57 on Sunday's swim)

0 - the number of miles I'm going to run today to make sure my legs recover

As a runner, life is dominated by numbers:
  • What's my pace?
  • What's my finish time?
  • How many miles per week?
  • How many miles/km is the race?
  • What place did I finish in my age group?
  • How many miles have I put on my shoes?
  • How expensive is that race?
  • What time do I have to get up to get my run in before work?
  • How many calories should I consume during marathon training?

I could go on and on. In the wake of my injury I've been thinking about what exactly kept me running while I was in so much pain. Answer: the numbers! I was obsessed with meeting the number of miles outlined on my training plan every week, no exceptions. I'd like to say I'm more OCD than some people when it comes to this, but I'm sure there are many out there like me. If my total weekly miles says 45, then I'm going to hit 45. Not 44.67. 45. End of story. It's insane. It makes no sense. And there's no reason that it should bother me as much as it does when something like that happens. 

The truth is that numbers don't just rule the running world, but everything actually.
  • How much money do I have?
  • What score did I get on that test?
  • Where do I rank among other students/workers?
  • How many hours do I have to work today?
  • How many votes does the House need to get that bill passed?
  • How many cups of flour do I add to this cake mix?
  • How many hours of sleep can I get tonight?
  • How much gas do I have in the car?
  • How many servings are in this?
  • Etc., etc.

As long as human civilization has been around, numbers have hung over us. Think about it - every ancient civilization had a numeral system. It's just something you couldn't live without. How many horses do I have? How much grain do I need to grow to survive the season? How many days journey is it to the capital?

This past week my colleague has been researching the ancient history of numeral systems, which has led to some interesting discussions. Just looking at the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Maya we've learned that they all came up with their own, unique numeral systems, completely independent of each other. Just as they all figured out how to develop written language and build temples and shrines, they also figured out that they needed a way to count.
Egyptian - 4,622

Babylonian - 23

Maya - 13
When you think about all of the different numeral systems that have existed in the past, it suddenly becomes strange to think that now almost the entire world uses only one: Arabic numerals. Invented in India around 500 CE (with origins gonig back as far as 300 BCE), this system of counting with a zero (only used before by the Maya) and a place-value notation, was revolutionary. It quickly spread into Africa and Europe by the Arabs in the Middle Ages, and eventually to America along with the Europeans.

We can't seem to agree on most things: gay marriage, a new president, health insurance, religion, women's running records, etc, but when it comes to numbers we all see it the same. It's amazing to think that out of the few things in this world that we can agree on, a common numeral system is one of them. How does something so abstract have so much power over us?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quantity vs. Quality

So the doctor basically confirmed what I had thought: shin splints. Initially I really didn't think that's what it was because the pain was just everywhere, but after a week off from running the pain started to shrink and it became much more clear which area was actually the source - the shins! He told me to try running again this week and see how it feels. He also gave me a list of stretches to do everyday and told me to continue icing. All in all, I probably didn't need to see him, but I'm glad I did anyway. Better safe than sorry!

Shin icing is sexy
Looking back, I can't believe how silly I was to keep running when I was in so much pain and discomfort. In fact, I only stopped running last week when I realized that not only had I not met any of my weekly mileage goals AT ALL for the month of October because of the pain, but that those runs that I did do were absolutely miserable!

I became so caught up in quantity that I forgot about quality. What good are 45 miles per week if I am sluggish, slow, and in pain the whole time? My pace suffered tremendously and I made my injuries worse in the process. It would have been a complete waste of a month had it not been a learning experience. Of course I'd love to say that I will never not listen to my body again, but I know that won't happen.

One good thing that has come out of this is that I've thrown myself into all sorts of cross training that I've never done before and it's been greatly beneficial, even after just one week. I need to make cross training more of a habit.

The next step is to attempt a short run tonight and start making a comeback plan. The marathon is in less than 4 weeks. This would have been my peak week before tapering and now, after everything that has happened, the schedule is completely out of wack. Time to get to business!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Swim, Run, Spin

When Mike and I got back from our weekend bike trip, I was eager to head to the gym. Having not run for almost an entire week, I'm looking for every possible opportunity to get a burn that might serve as a substitute.


Let me preface this part about swimming by saying that I am NOT a swimmer. The last time I did any sort of lap swimming I was probably 9 or 10 years old. Not only did I have that challenge to deal with, but I also don't know how to breathe underwater through my nose. Yeah, you heard that right. I, a 25 year old person, don't know how to go underwater without holding my nose. Pathetic I know. Needless to say I was extremely nervous to hit the pool.

When we got home from our trip I was ready to head to the gym right away and get the swim over with! I started with a freestyle stroke and ended up swallowing most of the pool. I kept up the effort though. Breathe out the nose, Kristin! Breathe out! I switched to the back stroke a few hundred meters in before switching back to freestyle. In the end it was quite successful I think. I swam 1000 meters, which is not a completely wasted distance I don't think. The last 500 I started breathing a lot better and I didn't have to stop at the end of every length. I could really feel my legs burning too! I will totally be doing this at least once a week!


After the pool, Mike and I headed to the cardio area. He has been cleared by his doctor to start running again, albeit slowly. He did one mile on the treadmill. I was going to hit the elliptical, but the treadmill looked soooo good I just couldn't resist! I hopped on a began running a 10 min/mile pace. First impression after 6 days no running: no pain! However, less than a quarter mile in I began to feel some tightness in the calf and shin. Not a sharp pain like before, but it definitely didn't feel completely healed. I stopped after a mile. I didn't want to overdo it. I won't lie, I felt some pain afterwards, which later subsided, but then kicked back up again badly before bed. :(

I'm optimistic about my recovery. I'm pretty sure I have shin splints, since the pain is often in one or both legs and so far other non-running activities have not aggravated it. I can also recall on all my runs that the pain was worse at the beginning and began to lessen as I ran on. My internet research tells me this is also a sign of shin splints.


Ugh 5:30 am. Wake up!
In the meantime, I'm taking as much advantage as possible of the cross training options at my gym, including spinning. Last week I went to my first spin class ever last week and really enjoyed it. This morning I went for my second dose at 6:30 am followed by a 15 minute ab session. LOVE.

As far as my full return to running goes, after days of trying to get in to see a Sports Medicine specialist I was able to land an appointment for this afternoon. As long as he tells me I can run the marathon in four weeks I will be happy! Even if he tells me I have to take two more weeks off. We shall see...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gettysburg Getaway

Leading up to this weekend I was very stressed out after injuring myself and having to take many days off from running. I was basically in freak out mode. But, Friday afternoon Mike and I both left work early to drive out to Gettysburg for our Fall Foliage Biking Weekend, and I was hoping that the stress would melt away. And it sure did!

Now that's some fall foliage!
We had a little hiccup on the way there when I forgot something and we had to drive all the way back home, but finally we arrived at the hotel around 8:30 pm. The arrival party had pretty much ended by the time we got there, but one thing was for sure: there definitely wasn't 30-40 people on this trip. There were 148! Big crowd! Something else of note: Mike and I were definitely the youngest people there. I would say the average age was between 50-60 years old. That said, everyone was really cool and welcoming.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to hit up the breakfast buffet before heading out on our ride. The trip organizer provided tons of different routes and cue sheets. There were also some group rides with a leader, but Mike and I wanted to go on our own (especially since we're not really cyclists and didn't want to lose pace with a group). We decided to do a 50-mile loop from Hanover to Gettysburg that left right from the hotel and would get us through some parts of the battlefield.

It was much colder than expected. I threw on my new Lulu pullover and it made me kind of sad, because I had really expected to break this baby out during the first really chilly run of the season. Sad face.

The ride started out through the backroads of Hanover. They were nothing special. A bunch of suburban carbon copy homes and and some gas stations. After about 5 miles though, we started going through some really nice areas.

We kept looking for the sun to come out, but those clouds never moved. If they had it might have been a few degrees warmer!

The course was mostly flat with rolling hills. A couple of them really tore me up. Mike wasn't having any problems, but not only does he bike all of the time, he has a super light road bike. Meanwhile I was trying to cruise along on a much heavier hybrid. Oh well, hopefully I got a bigger bonus calorie burn pushing that extra weight along!

We arrived in Gettysburg halfway through our loop, around the 25 mile mark. We decided to stop, stretch, and see a little of the town. It was really cute. Very historic.

We were still freezing cold and I had a million dollar idea: Hot chocolate!

Warm me up!
Pretty soon it was time to head on back to the hotel. The hot tub sounded too good to be true so I was all for biking my little heart out as fast as possible to get there.

I was really regretting not having brought gloves when I realized/remembered that my lovely Lulu pullover had a solution for that! Another reason that company is so freakin' amazing!

"Warm heart" "Cold hands"
One thing I really liked about the area we were in was that every street seemed to have a reason behind the name. When we rode down Racehorse Lane we passed a bunch of horse farms. When we were supposed to turn on Church Street we found a church on the corner. And when we turned down Stone Bridge Drive, there was a stone bridge at the end of it!

We arrived back at the hotel around 1:45 pm. I wasn't keeping track of our time, but I imagine it took us about 4 and a half hours for the ride. Probably less because we were sipping or hot chocolate for awhile. The immediate next stop for us was the hot tub and pool!

The hot tub felt soooo good. My muscles were already feeling pretty sore and the heat just melted it right away. Mmm delicious. Afterwards I tried doing a few laps in the pool. It was, um, interesting. More on swimming in tomorrow's post though...

After the pool we hit the showers and had two or so hours to kill before dinner. We decided to drive around a bit and do some strip mall shopping. I found some great deals at Dick's Sporting Goods and scored a few crops and workout tops. I love me some sales!

Dinner was at a really nice local restaurant. Our group filled up the entire place and they had a cake made. It was yummy. 

By the time we got back to the hotel we both collapsed into bed and fell asleep. We woke up at 6 am the next morning, planning to drive to Gettysburg and do the 24-mile Battlefield Auto Tour on our bikes, but A) We were sore from the day before and, more importantly, B) the temperature was reading 37 degrees! Say what!?

We decided it would be better to just drive home, get the dogs early, and hit the gym later to get in our workout. I was really sad not to bike the Battlefield during sunrise, but we just hadn't brought enough warm clothing along and it would have been miserable. 

Driving home we went through some pretty gnarly fog:

Overall it was a really fun, relaxing weekend. I got the burn I was looking for an I'm pleasantly sore today. Looking back, it would have been really hard to fit in my 20 mile run, so maybe I'm okay that I wasn't running this weekend. The whole event was really well done. It was extremely organized and everyone was super sweet. I think we'll definitely go on this trip again next fall if it works with our schedule! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Foliage Weekend

Today's non-running workout: 30 minutes elliptical, 10 minutes rowing machine.

Thumbs down because the elliptical SUCKS! Most boring machine EVER
Anyways...back to the point of this post:

As if the gods themselves had aligned it, my injury has come at what could be described as the perfect time (more like, if it has to happen this is the most convenient time for it to do so), as Mike and I are headed off for a weekend bike trip this afternoon and there would have been minimal time for running!

In the wake of Mike's heel spur, he discovered cycling to be somewhat enjoyable and so we decided to take the plunge and sign up for a weekend getaway with 30+ cycling enthusiasts in the fine town of Gettysburg, PA. May I present Fall Foliage Weekend as brought to you by the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia.

Some of the things that our lovely package includes are:

Friday & Saturday night accommodations at the plush Hampton Inn of Hanover
DELUXE buffet-style breakfasts Saturday & Sunday
Friday evening Welcome Reception & Hot Dinner Buffet at hotel
Tour packets prepared for each guest, with cue sheets, maps, brochures, etc. 
Wide array of picturesque routes, terrains, & distances for cycling
Featured Group Rides with a leader on Saturday & Sunday
Access to bike-friendly Gettysburg National Park
An ABUNDANCE of fun activities for non-cyclist partners traveling with cyclists
BOUNTY of "portable" cycling snacks to take along on rides
Saturday afternoon post-ride party
Massage therapists at hotel Saturday afternoon
Private dining room at Atland House Restaurant for Saturday night dinner
Music, party games, raffle prizes

Love how they highlight the DELUXE breakfast buffet and BOUNTY of portable snacks. SOLD!

While the biking thing will be cool, I'm actually more excited just to get away for a mini-vacation than anything. The weather is lining up perfectly. It should be crisp, cool, and sunny. The leaves have started to turn and fall.

Mike and I visited Gettysburg a few years ago for a day trip and had a really good time. We are super dorky like that and enjoy oogling at historic places and learning things.

4 years ago in Gettysburg
So, even if I could run, the point is that this weekend it would have been challenging to do so. Though, at the same time, I would have loved to get in my 20 miler on Sunday morning someplace new, which can make all of the difference when you've been running the same routes the for months and months.

Le sigh...oh well, I'm going to make the most of this weekend, including testing out the hotel pool. It's not a lap pool by any means, but I'm going to try and see where I'm at so that when I do finally get the pool at my gym I'm not a complete embarrassment. 

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Everything Else

Good news: My calves ARE feeling better after another 2 days rest. I really wanted to run today, but I think I'm going to try and take a whole week off (crazy!) and see if that heals it. I have not been able to get a doctor's appointment yet, but so far I'm feeling confident that enough RICE might do the trick.

Bad news: My mood has gone to shit! I am one of those people that needs to work out otherwise I get super grumpy. Also, kind of hard to condone eating dessert when I've literally just sat on my ass the whole day.

Running is by far my favorite form of exercise. You might say I'm an elitist when it comes to running, as in: there's running and then there's everything else.

Yayy running!
But alas, injuries call for something different. Hence, Mike and I just signed up for gym membership at Penn. I don't know why it took us so long to make that happen. After all, it's within walking distance of our jobs, we got a staff and spousal discount, they have a huge facility, group exercise classes, and a pool!

True to form I packed a running outfit today for work, even though I should be "resting." Luckily my gym membership was activated by noon, which means I got to go to a spin class right after work and finally, after days of horrible rest, I FELT THE BURN. I've been wanting to try spin for awhile. While biking is not my favorite activity in the world, I really liked the high intensity of spinning and will definitely be back!

In addition to the spin classes, I'm definitely going to try and get to the pool this weekend for some laps. I haven't done lap swimming (or wore a one piece) since I was of a single-digit age, so it should be interesting to say the least.

So, that's the plan for now. Obviously, I'd rather be running, but sweat is sweat and since the theme of this month is "listening to my body" I'm going to try and continue doing just that.

Goal: Sweat until exhaustion

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Yet another run missed. After three days off my double runs on Monday felt better. Not great. Not entirely without discomfort, but much better. Alas, this morning I woke up, put on my running clothes and shoes, walked out the door, and immediately turned around and went back inside.

I haven't been entirely honest about the severity of this pain. What started in the far back of my calf at the beginning of September has now slowly moved to the insides of my legs. And this morning I began to feel it more to the front. Somedays I can't feel it at all. Sometimes it hurts even when I'm not moving. Sometimes it's only in the left or only in the right or sometimes in both.

Time to go to the doctor. I can't imagine he/she will tell me I can run a marathon in 4.5 weeks. I'm sure it's shin splints or a stress fracture or something even worse. I can already hear "you can't run for 4+ months" echoing in my head.

Damn, damn, damn.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ode to a Good Pair of Shoes

Tonight I say goodbye to a dear pair of shoes, my Saucony Kinvaras:

le sigh...
Dear Kinvaras, 

We've been through so much together. You were my first pair of minimalist shoes. We sweat it together during my first 20 mile run. You helped me set a new half marathon PR. I wish we could be together forever, but unfortunately, at about 400 miles, you are have come to the end of your life. You will be missed. 

Love, Kristin xoxo

The question now is: what will I replace it with?! I'm debating between the Kinvara 2, which I'm sure I'd love no doubt, and the Nike 3.0 v3:

Oooo so purty
Of course, I don't need to replace it with anything. In fact I may hang back a couple of weeks before purchasing anything new. I've still got a few pairs to work on, as discussed in my minimalist shoe post. The thing about the Kinvaras is that they had become my go-to running shoe out of my five pairs. Fortunately, in the last month I've come to lean on my NB 1400s.

I didn't have a review on them when I wrote my shoe post because I had just bought them, but after almost 100 miles I can tell you that they totally lived up to expectations! I will most likely wear them for the Philly Marathon in 5 weeks. They did get me through 28 of my 34.5 miles at Ragnar last week, so I know they can take a beating!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering how I keep track of all my "shoe miles," this Google Doc comes in handy:

FYI: "PR" stands for my Puerto Rico trip in May
Hmm, looks like I need to give my Green Silence some more love. It's been awhile!

Do you have a "go-to" pair of running shoes? Do you rotate? How do you keep track of your "shoe miles?"