Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 2012 in Review

This month was so crazy that blogging had to take a back seat. What didn't take a back seat, however, was running! Yayyy.

Brussels Sprouts didn't take a back seat either. I think I ate them almost every day this month!

Mileage Recap

A year ago - May 2011: 96.99
This year -
January: 181.21
February: 86.84
March: 6
April: 89.59
May: 128.43

Cross Training Recap

117.35 miles road cycling
4000 m swam
2 spin classes
6 Pilates classes
6 Xtend Barre classes

What went well

All in all May was a pretty fantastic month. I felt great at my first big-ish comeback race since injury.
I solidified my fall race plans. I got through moving day and enjoyed some new routes. And I'm even starting to get a little more accustomed to my new commute!

What didn't go well

I would say that I'm still a little frustrated at my pace of my runs. They are slower than ever. I know that speed doesn't need to play a huge part in things, especially since I'm into ultras, but it would be nice to feel a little quicker sometimes!

June 2012 goals

With the Lone Ranger almost six weeks away it's time to get busy with the long runs (or as busy as I can without re-injuring myself). This means back-to-back long runs are in full swing. For the past month I've run 10 miles every Sunday and slowly started to add single digit miles on Saturdays. This weekend I hope to get in double digits both days and just continue on from there. At some point (err...possibly wedding weekend unfortunately), I need to get in a 20 mile/10 mile back-to-back.

Other things happening:

1) Finish all my wedding things
2) Prep for honeymoon
3) Get married on June 17th!
4) Enjoy my two weeks vacation!

Do you have a big summer race coming up?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Diversifying My Portfolio

There was a time when I the only exercising I did was running. In fact my first year as a runner that's all I did. Then, last October, I was sidelined with shin splints for about 10 days. (PS. I can't I thought 10 days was bad!). I freaked out, finally joined a gym, and got my butt to spin class and the pool like it was my job.

Then I got better and I forgot about cross training until February when I was forced to deal with what became six full weeks on the injured runners bench. After a few weeks I started to enjoy my 6:30 am spin class and I had mastered the art of fitting in 1000 m swim during my lunch hour (including a shower and hair dry I might add). Then about a month ago I started to add Pilates and then Xtend Barre to get a bit more core work in. Lastly, a week ago we moved out of Center City, which introduced me to a new bike commute to work.

Dear Bike, I love you, but this commute is rough!
All that brings me to the past seven days, when it all came together and turned into a massive, sweat overdosed week. It looked something like this:

Monday: Sick/Rest

Tuesday: 3.5 mile run, 16.5 mile bike commute RT, 45 min Pilates

Wednesday: 6 mile run, 17 mile bike commute RT, 60 min Xtend Barre

Thursday: 6.5 mile run, 16.5 mile bike commute RT, 45 min Pilates

Friday: 16.5 mile bike commute RT, 1000 m swim

Saturday: 8 mile run, 60 min Xtend Barre

Sunday: 11 mile trail run

Monday/Today: REST!!!!!!!!

We capped off Sunday's trail run with a trip up the 100 Steps

If you weren't keeping track of the mileage, that there adds up to about 102 miles traveled by either running or cycling last week. And while that is super awesome (even though I wish it were 100 miles just running!), it also means I was super tired until, well, today actually. I can't tell you how excited my legs (and rear end) were to not be on a bike over the three-day weekend. Even without cycling to work it was a full week of exercising, but the addition of that commute for four consecutive days really tested my body.

The goods news is that I do feel rested and ready to tackle the commute again tomorrow. Sure, I could run less miles, or not go to Pilates or swim, but the truth is that I love doing all of those things, and while I have the energy and the time, I don't intend to cut back. It will probably take another week or two to get accustomed to, however. One thing is for sure - my body is getting a nice well-rounded workout!

Do you commute to work by bike? Do you ever feel a little overloaded by your exercise schedule?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Hello! Last week was absolutely crazy between work and getting ready to move so the blog had to take a backseat.

Saturday was moving day, but before I could even think about starting that, I wanted to take one last run through the neighborhood. I even broke out a new pair of shoes for the occassion (review coming soon!).

It could not have been a more perfect run. Cool, crisp air. Slight breeze, Hardly anyone out (seriously though, who is out at 5:30 am on Saturday except crazy runners?). My time living downtown definitely ended on a good note!

Sadly though I had to trade that blissful experience for one that was not quite as lovely - the actual moving! Moving is always stressful. Even the dogs were stressed out.

It took forever to load the truck up, but pretty soon, with the assistance of three amazing friends, everything was in the new house. 

We ended the day strolling around our new neighborhood and avoiding the inevitable unpacking process.

View from our new neighborhood

And I wondered why it was called Pretzel Park!?
There were also delicious smoothies to be had.

The real fun started the next day though. In a previous post I mentioned why exactly I was so excited to move to this specific place and Sunday morning I made it happen! Despite the stacks of boxes and disassembled furniture and not knowing exactly where my deoderant or a clean pair of socks was, there was only one thing I wanted to do: RUN.

So weird to see trees instead of skyscrapers
After only a mile of weaving through the neighborhood streets we came up this amazing, beautiful, knock your socks off trail. Hello new running routes!!!

I was seriously in heaven the whole time. It's amazing that this exists in the middle of Philadelphia.

The last time I was on this trail was actually right before my injury and I specifically remember that on that day my shin first started hurting. But I kept pushing, kept running and ended up losing months of training and lots of races. To say I was nervous to go back is an understatement. But good news: no pain at all! The trail is officially superstition-free!

Mini-break by the Wissahickon Creek
When we returned from our run we decided that even more important than unpacking was feeding our hungry bellies. A major plus of having a house instead of an apartment is the likelihood of outdoor space.

It may not be a yard, but it's big enough to grill!
You really can't beat barbequed chicken.

Now to the unpacking!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Birthday Weekend Wrap Up

I celebrated my 26th birthday on Friday doing pretty much the exact same thing I do every Friday: go to work. Bleck! All jobs should come with an automatic birthday vacation day if you ask me.

In any event, I went to work, but had plans to run with my sister after work and then go out to dinner with her and Mike. Unfortunately her bus was super lame and decided to arrive 2 hours late, so I did not get to do the one thing I want to do every day, especially my birthday, which was run. Instead we skipped it and went straight to dinner at one of my favorite Philly restaurants, Audrey Claire.

The food was amazing, as usual. We made sure to sample several appetizers.

Pear/gorgonzola flat bread, hummus trio, and the most amazing effing brussels sprouts with parmesan you've ever had
I had the salmon for an entree. I'm not the biggest fan of green beans, but these may have changed that.

Mike had the lamb. I tried a piece of it and nearly jumped across the table and went face first into his plate. WOW.

Caitlin had a salad topped with deliciously whipped goat cheese and strawberries. Mmmm.

Not long after dinner we passed out in a well-deserved food coma and woke up Saturday morning ready to run! The three of us headed out bright and early for a run along the river and knocked out about 9 miles.

Little sisters are always trying to copy big sisters :)
After our run Caitlin and I met our mom, who kindly drove up from DC, and we went to the wedding venue to talk about flowers.

In the bridal suite
I can't believe the wedding is less than 5 weeks away! So much to do, but I'm seriously getting excited. Eek!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Favorites

I am really digging these Friday Favorites. It's like I can just take all of my random thoughts and crap and put them into one post. Nice!

Birthday Presents
Some birthday presents come in boxes. Others come on the two o'clock bus from New York City.

My sister has been in Africa for the past four months and I haven't seen her since Christmas. So, so excited to see her tonight!

Lana Del Ray
Has been playing non-stop on my iPhone all week. Love, love, love.

Xtend Barre
Two weeks ago the woman at my Pilates studio mentioned an upcoming deal on Living Social: 10 Xtend Barre classes for $90 (instead of the usual $199!). Since it's pilates-based I figured it would be enjoyable or, at the least, give me a rocking workout even if I hated every minute of it.

One Xtend Barre class knocked me out more than any 20 mile run every has. Who knew one pound weights could make your arms want to fall off! Some parts definitely felt torturous, but I couldn't help but love how sore I was the next day. Definitely worth a try.

Baggu Daypack (or Baggu anything)
I've been buying Baggu since the first came out however many years ago, back when they only had five or six color. Now they have a lot more options including some adorable prints. If you are someone who tried to live green, you will love Baggus. The fold up easy, can be machine washed, and are pretty responibly priced as well.

Baggu Bag

I love them so much I decided to sample one of their newer products, the Daypack, for quick bike commutes to work, or maybe when I go to the beach.

Yummy Trader Joe's Finds
Like these:

Oh sweet brussels sprouts, you are delicious in every form
And these:

And then you can add quinoa, zucchini, tomatoes, and a dash of pepper and get this:

What is one of your favorite things lately? Do you use reusable bags like Baggus?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Looking Ahead: Fall 2012 Race Plans

At the end of last year I posted a tentative 2012 race calendar that had all sorts of crazy stuff going on in the fall, like 2-3 marathons and 1-2 50 milers. Like I said, crazy. After my injury however, I'm realizing that less may be least for now.

It's about that time of year when fall registrations open up (if they haven't already) and you've got to decide if you want to bite the bullet or miss getting your spot. After a few days of going back and forth, I decided to withdraw my name from the New York Marathon lottery. Let's face it, the odds were most likely not ever in my favor anyway. But if they were, then there were two things that I would be sacrificing:

1) 255 precious dollars
2) Running the JFK 50, which is two weeks later

Not to say that I couldn't run New York and JFK, but if I'm going to drop the big bucks on NYC then I want to race, not tiptoe along 26.2 miles because I should actually be one week into a three week taper for a 50 mile race.

So, all that aside, here's how the fall is shaping up:

September 8: Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic
Mike's pick. I don't really care for purposefully excessive amounts of mud and obstacles that are strategically placed in the way of my 12 mile run, but he's really into it, and now we have seven people on the team, so it might be cool.

Who needs a Tough Mudder when you've got rainy day trails to run on?

September 22-23: Ragnar Relay DC
Still a work in progress. If anyone is interested in joining a team, please let me know! The last Ragnar I did knocked my socks off and I got to hang out with a bunch of assume strangers who became my friends. If you've never done one, I highly recommend!

October 13: Baltimore Marathon
I really wanted to do a road marathon this fall, but since the timing of New York was not ideal, I opted for Baltimore instead. We have lots of friends and family in the vicinity so travel wise it will be a cinch. The only con: the freaking hills!

At least miles 3-10 will be nice

November 17: JFK 50
Cost me $50 less than New York and it's twice the distance. A deal you cannot beat! It will also fall on the anniversary of my first marathon last year, so that's pretty nice too. I may have lost the opporunity to run 50 miles this spring, but come fall it's all mine!

I actually had to hand mail my entry for JFK and instead of an email confirmation I got this. So old fashioned!
Anyone else doing any of these races? Want to join my relay team?!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Return: Broad Street Run Recap

Sunday morning my alarmed screamed me awake at 5 am. I rolled out of bed and did something I hadn't done in the early morning in exactly 3 months - get ready to race!

The Broad Street Run is a hugely popular 10 mile race in Philadelphia and is the largest race of that distance in the country (30,000-40,000 people large!). It's a straight shot down Broad Street. No turns or curves, just 10 miles of net downhill running through the middle of the city.

While 10 miles might not be the kind of distance I'm truly intrigued in tackling, everyone and their mom was running this thing I definitely didn't want to be left out! After having to bail on FOUR races this spring because of my injury, I made it a goal to at least be able to run this one. In addition, Mike has been on and off injured for almost a year. The last race he race was the Baltimore 10 Miler last June, so this was a big day for him as well.
We were out the door by 6 am. The entry fee covered free subway transportation to the start, so 20 minutes later we were at the starting line.

Too early for pictures!
For future Broad Street Runs we probably won't leave as early. The race didn't start until 8:30 and we were there by 6:30! This meant a lot of sitting around and trying not to tackle the man selling soft preztels at 7 in the morning.

When I signed up for this race back in the winter I had the intention to run it around 1:20. After dealing with the whole injury debacle, however, I knew that was out of the question, so I comfortably situated myself a corral behind found my friend Sally, who was in recovery from her own injury.

I had two crappy runs in the week leading up to this race. They were so crappy that I almost decided to bail on the race altogether since I was worried I would hurt myself again. Two complete days of rest, however, and I felt great the starting line.

This is what 30,000+ runners look like

After about 10-15 minutes out corral finally moved up to the start. Sally and I plodded along pretty nicely. Neither of us wore a watch so I had no idea how fast we were going and we didn't really care. We were both thrilled enough to be running in the first place.

Around mile 5 Sally decided she needed to walk so as not to agitate her hip more. I was feeling good so I kept going and I began to pick up the pace a little more aggressively. My shin wasn't bothering me in the least and I felt really good overall.

I kept pushing harder and harder and the miles were clicking by. I began to think about maybe trying to match or at least get close to my 10 mile time from last year, which was 1:30. At the start line I wouldn't have even thought it possible, but I was feeling so good towards the end, like I was really racing again. The finish was kind of crowded, but I managed to sprint through. I had no idea what my time was, since my corral left so late, but I felt good, and that's all I really cared about.

I went to find Mike, who was beaming after his first race in nearly 11 months.

While waiting for some friends to finish we spotted a crate full of ice. One bag was already open so we picked some bits out to put some relief on our sore spots. My shins didn't ache at all, but my calf was getting sore.

His and her's post-race ice bags
A few hours later our results began to pop up. Mike finished in 1:25 and I actually somehow pulled off a 1:32, only two minutes shy of last year's time. It may not have been my original goal when I registered, but for the first time in 3 months I really felt like my running fitness was returning.

I'm officially excited for summer and fall races and officially ready to move the hell on from this injury!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Running to the Beat of My Own Drum

Last Friday evening I ran the 4-mile Out & Back Party Run and I did two things I've never ever done before during a race:

1. I didn't wear a watch

2. I ran without any self-induced pressure
I've got to tell you, it was refreshing.

A friend of a friend put a team together for the race and we all got matching tech shirts.

I'm in the compression socks
Gotta love a little Blue Steel on a Friday evening.

I didn't really have any goals for this race other than to specifically adhere to numbers 1 & 2 above. I decided to run the 1.5 miles to the start, run the race, and run back home, giving me a nice 7 miles for the day.

This was my first racing experience since my injury. In the five-some weeks I've been running again I've been ridiculously slow. I'd be surprised if I'm breaking 10 minute miles on my runs, which is a lot different from the 8's I used to throw down.

I probably would have gotten caught up in the race excitement had it not been for my friend Greg, who I ran with the whole time. We chatted and enjoyed the scenery while keeping a completely relaxed pace. We hit the halfway point and saw the clock at 20:00 on the dot. We both suggested that we pick it up a little on the way back. Greg really wanted to break 40 minutes. I was happy with whatever, but I was slightly curious to see what pushing it felt like after so much time off.

We passed person after person on the way back and agreed to kick it in gear about a quarter mile from the finish line, which was up a hill (of course). I put on the sprint as I cruised up the hill, ran across the finish line, and felt something I hadn't felt in a long time. You know what I'm talking about. Your heart is about to beat out of your chest. Your body is squeezing out every last inch of energy to get across the line. I missed that feeling. There's a big difference between running and sprinting, but in my opinion there's no better way to end a race (pending that you haven't been chugging vast amounts of caffeine or have any heart issues).

Final stats: 4 miles, 37:41, 9:25 pace

I'm quite certain that is the first time in nearly 3 months that I have broken the 10 min/mile barrier. Not to mention that we had some lovely negative splits on the way back. I definitely don't intend to get caught up in all sorts of pace times and splits and competition in the near future, but on a personal level it's nice to feel like I'm getting back into running shape. More importantly though, I ran this race for me, not to compete with anyone else, and I put in as much effort as I did or didn't want to, regardless of what the clock said.

I feel ready to tackle Broad Street the same way this Sunday!